Though this website is only at the beginning of its infancy, it is already clear that the partnership of John and Kelly at blagnet.net is destined to be remembered alongside Rothbard and Mises, Jefferson and Madison, Caesar and Octavian, Roosevelt and Churchill, Watson and Crick, Lennon and McCartney, Shakespeare and Bacon, and hydrogen and oxygen as one of the most momentous and influential collaborations in the history of the universe.
As Kelly eloquently stated, the purpose of blagnet.net is for both us and our readers to inform, discuss, and learn about libertarianism, and exchange delicious muffin recipes. We are anarcho-capitalists and arrived there through fairly different paths; he certainly later and more suddenly than I. I say sudden because it took him less than six months from realizing he was very discontented with the nature of government in the United States, to hearing about Ron Paul and discussing his ideas with me and others, to declaring that the existence of the State is a moral evil and any non-anarchist "libertarians" were not libertarian enough for him. I was surprised to read this so soon after his start down the libertarian path. I was also surprised that after being friends with me for almost seven years, my proud libertarianism in college and occasional political discussions did nothing to sway him; not that I ever tried, but he became libertarian without any influence from his longest-held libertarian friend.
I realize I was quite libertarian from birth, and yet it took me until my last semester of college, after years of reading about politics and meeting with our campus libertarian group, to discover the moral purity and intellectual clarity that is anarcho-capitalism. (In all fairness to Kelly, true libertarians pretty much all realize they were libertarian from birth; it just took some reading and enlightenment to apply their libertarian principles consistently and universally.)
Why anarcho-capitalism? How can we posit that, one, the State is immoral, and, two, that a Stateless society would actually work, much less be preferable to the State?
Consider the relationship between one human and another. What rights, privileges, or power are innate to one human but not the other? Morally and philosophically, what is the difference between different people? There is none. What makes us human, and not capable animals who tamed fire and electricity?
It is our reason, which gives us the knowledge that there is, or at least should be, a code of behavior we all must follow. Many animals fight each other, steal from each other, and kill each other, but that is their nature. It is neither right nor wrong; it just is. The loser might not like it, but it cannot reason why it should not be so, nor can it convince others that they are wrong to use violence to achieve their ends.
But humans are different. As a great minarchist once wrote, all men are created equal. We have one, and only one, self-evident right: the right of self-ownership. Every human has perfectly complete and equal ownership of his own body, mind, and property, and no right to any form of control or ownership of anyone else. Every rational person holds this truth to be self-evident.
From this truth we can imagine a boundary of self-owernship, a sphere of liberty, surrounding each person. Each person is the complete owner of his self and therefore no one may justly encroach upon his person, his property, or the liberty to do what he wants with them. Conversely, the liberty to do what we want with our bodies and property extend only to the boundaries of self-ownership protecting every other person.
This is the origin of the non-aggression principle. Self-ownership. Equal self-ownership, which means complete sovereignty over yourself and no sovereignty of any kind for any length of time or for any purpose over anyone else. Judeo-Christian culture calls this the Golden Rule. Oliver Wendell Holmes stated it as, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." From this equal-self-ownership principle follows a conception of moral and metaphysical egalitarianism, in which all people are on the same moral ground, the same level in terms of rights and privileges vis à vis everyone else. No one may do to another what the other may not do to him. Every human is equally human.
No other right than self-ownership, or the rights that descend directly from self-ownership (private property rights), exist, for if they did, this would necessarily entail the corresponding encroachment of rights against someone else. But, then, if it is not held equally among all humans—if it entails or implies a moral imbalance in which one person may do something that another may not—it is immoral and not a right at all.
Private property rights, which can be considered nearly synonymous with or at least intimately connected to the right of self-ownership, include all rights of person and just property. The rights to free speech, freedom of association, self-defense, exchange, contracts. Few if any others.
As Bastiat eloquently stated in his brilliant but not quite perfect pamphlet The Law,
Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property—this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
This is why we are understood to have government, is it not? Protection of person and property. Enforcement of contracts, the violation of which is an involuntary (forcible) encroachment against liberty or property. Dispensing of remuneration and punishment. Bastiat continues,
If every person has the right to defend even by force his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right—its reason for existing, its lawfulness—is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force—for the same reason—cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.
So, according to Bastiat, the existence of a governing body, which holds a monopoly on the use of force over a geographical area, is predicated on its protection of rights held equally by each individual, and its actions delimited by the permissible actions of its constituent individuals.
The simplicity, purity, and clarity of such a system make it attractive on every level for several reasons, and this is heightened still when contrasted with modern states (including those of 1850, when Bastiat wrote):
If you exceed this proper limit—if you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, literary, or artistic—you will then be lost in an uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it upon you. This is true because fraternity and philanthropy, unlike justice, do not have precise limits. Once started, where will you stop? And where will the law stop itself?
Indeed, where does the law stop itself? Let us pass by the obvious and timeless connection Bastiat's writing makes with all states and their forced philanthropy and their multitude of utopias. Let us focus our analysis of Bastiat's statements, instead, on Bastiat's own philosophical brethren—the minarchists.
Bastiat's minimal state would be expected to limit itself to three functions: protecting people and property from acts of aggression by threatening defensive responses (retaliation) against potential criminals; deciding on right and wrong in disputes over violations of person and property; and tracking down and punishing criminals.
But there is a fourth function, largely unseen and unconsidered, that it must necessarily also perform, even more rigorously and more regularly—indeed, continuously—which is its most important characteristic: it must outlaw the provision of these services by any other individual or group.
Bastiat's government makes no effort at the provision of food, or housing, or health care, because to do so would violate its subjects' freedom of association and exchange. Customers and companies would do business as they saw fit, ensuring the robustness of the economy and the satisfactory provision of these goods to a greater extent than any more socialistic system. It writes no law either helping or hindering, for instance, insurance companies, for people have the obvious right to procure the promise of reimbursement for damaged or lost property from companies as is deemed beneficial by both parties.
A problem arises when citizens decide that their minimal government has grown slightly too complacent and inefficient, and that they could purchase security/protection services, contract with arbitrators, and subscribe to a system of remuneration and retaliation provided by other companies that are all better and cheaper than the corresponding services the government forces them to submit to.
Here the government has two options. It can allow its citizens to secede and subject themselves voluntarily to the rules and conditions other security/arbitration firms offer, in which case it would cease being a "government" and "anarchic (non-monopolistic) law" would ensue. On the other hand, it can prevent the citizens from spending their own money as they please and associating with whom they please, which it must do by initiating force. The instant that it uses or threatens to use force of any kind in securing its monopoly on its minimalist functions, this entity ceases being moral and becomes an immoral aggressor, a State. Thus, the State by its nature can only perform the function it was erected to perform by performing he opposite of that function! It is logically inconsistent and morally bankrupt!
A much more simple refutation of the morality of monopolistic government, even Bastiat's beautifully conceived minarchist State, is the immorality of taxation. How would the minimal State fund itself? If it funds itself voluntarily, then people and companies have the option of not paying, in which case they are privately offered services and anarchy already exists as it should. If it funds itself through any non-voluntary means, involving even the threat of forceful action in case of non-compliance, it is an aggressive State that is a moral evil. Taxation is theft, taxation is barbaric, taxation is forceful, taxation is evil. No taxation equals no government equals freedom and all the good that flows from it.
The origin of the monopolistic State is its proscription of peaceful secession and voluntary association with other firms and individuals offering the same services. It claims this right based on the will of the majority and it performs its functions with stolen property—in other words, might makes right and its ends justify its means.
As I have shown, our right of self-ownership and the extreme limitations it places on us forbid this monopolization because of the aggression against person, property, and free association that monopolistic government entails.
I know most people are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of non-monopolistic governance because things would be so much different than they are now, and we instinctively fear change. People evade, ignore, distract from, and attempt to refute the self-ownership principle and the non-aggression principle because their minds block them from accepting that everything they know about government is wrong. But it is! Government is not just! It is not peaceable! It confers little, if any, good on a society! It adds nothing and only takes! It produces nothing and only consumes! It frees no one and only restricts!
It does so in all times and places! Furthermore, it is nearly universal that governments grow beyond their limits and soon stop pretending to concern themselves with the protection of property, but rather arrogate to themselves the functions of directing the economy, enforcing equality of outcomes, and legislating morality. The answer to increased freedom, prosperity, and, yes, equality, is abolition of the monopolistic State! The improvements we all seek in the human condition are to be found in recognizing the moral equality of all humans and no longer tolerating the aggression of some people against others!
To the socialists, to the fascists, to the moderates, to the minarchists, to future generations—to the world!—we proclaim:
Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!
And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty, for liberty is an acknowledgment of the equal standing of all humans.