« The subprime mortgage crisis for dummies | Main | Chinese entrepreneurs in Africa »

August 17, 2007



Debating libertarians only gives them an additional veneer of respectability that they don't warrant.

Perhaps academics like to engage in "academic" arguments, but this isn't a college debating society. The effects of 40 years of neo-con, libertarian thought has had pernicious effects on the real lives of billions of people.

This is comparable to having a "debate" with climate change deniers. The additional exposure they get by engaging real scientists furthers their aims.

Things have now gotten to a point in the world where we can no longer afford the luxury of allowing apologists for the wealthy a platform in the "reality-based" part of the public arena. As long as Cato and other such institutions continue to get their funding from their super wealthy sponsors they will continue to issue their propaganda, but there is no reason to increase their reach by engaging them in a "debate".

Do something more useful with your time.


At my age (+70) I despair at any idea suggesting anarchy, as a system of societal organization, is better than government by- the-people and for-the- people. Why?

I have just been re-reading Friedrich Nietzche, Beyond Good And Evil, in which there is a fundamental discourse on dawn of 19th century european developments.
That is, state and anarchy! Progress and civilization.

What Lesson is trying to assimilate is not really anarchy but an objective condition of laissez faire capitalism. He seems to be arguing for an unregulated (non-state) form of commerce and enterprise. May be something like a co-operative!

I must remind him within EU (ie. Germany & France, in particular) dismantling of cartels is still not a done deal! They're remnants of an old order.

We've come long way from a society of nobility and slaves to more or less a classless society.

If you wish to turn the tables upside down, you'll need more than rhetorics.
The engine of progress and development - good or bad -will inevitably transform society to new heights, irrespective of its inherent fallacies.

Adieu to Anarchy - forever!


This exchange has surprised me a bit, among others for the following reasons:

1. As they are well-aware, anarchists of all kinds have as largest challenge to show working examples of their personal dream situations.
Theoretical models are nice to ponder, but they convince only the believers. Leeson knows this, and is merrily showing his examples: Pirates, Somalia and slavery-age Angola. If that is the best he can find, how can he even convince himself?

2. Holcombe says quite literally that he believes the only use of talking about extreme libertarianism is to shift the debate, to make abolishment of government education and minimum wages seem more mainstream.
I have read a lot of rantings against the Cato Institute, but as a European I can't judge about it. Are they really this cynical?

3. Mr Rodrik plays the role of the extreme outlier in this debate, while from the outside he seems to be the
representative of the standard, mainstream ideas.
I'm surprised how easily especially Benson and Leeson ignore that they are the ones basically attacking a very succesful system in terms of economics, freedoms and safety.
Even when we grant them every point they try to make, they only prove that their anarchism is not guaranteed to be a hellish nightmare. I see very little argument on their side why it would be better than the current situation.
However, Leeson, Benson and Holcombe agree that abolishment of the government would be such a great good that just showing it can be done is enough argument in its favour.
Where do get they their strong convictions? I suppose they are in a higher marginal tax rate than me, but what makes probably well-settled people argue for anarchy?

Altogether, the debate has a slight air of, well, dishonesty. These people have been thinking about these affairs for years, and they know very well that proposals are extreme, and need stronger evidence than this to be convincing. They don't want to live as pirates, Somalians or Angolans and I am not so sure they even wish to live in a governmentless USA.
Still, they act surprised that a "most prominent academic economist [Dani Rodrik]" does not automatically believe them. If these people really,really wanted other people to believe in anarchy, they would not so strongly dismiss the legitimate concerns about it, but 'sell' proposals to deal with them. The problem
with the pirates case (or Somalia, or Angola) is that is neither an argument against modern governments, NOR any indication how a future capatilist-anarchism might look like.

In the real world, this looks very much like a debate about lower taxes, but than without real arguments

Trizar Rizqiawan

I'm a student from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture, Indonesia.
My major is Statistics and Economics.


A Question to Tyler Cowen, Dani Rodrik and Greg Mankiw


I think debates over anarchism and libertarianism are usually flawed in the sense that those who favor anarchism seem to argue from a world in which we're all dropped down on Earth as-is, and choose from that point how to proceed. Perhaps anarchy would be best as enough people are sufficiently smart to become leaders without the need for centralized leadership.

But almost every government in history is the result of a negotiation (often on the battlefield or in the streets) between two or more pre-existing governments (or a sufficient population of angry citizens). It seems to me that libertarianism is an instinct to more closer to anarchy from essentially any given statist power.

And the answer to any particular libertarian issue of debate depends on whether or not the world is prepared to "move forward" -- when we reach an equilibrium between the cost of ever more incremental revolutions. A "libertarian position" is simply the unit of those increments.


I meant to say:

"And the answer to any particular libertarian issue of debate depends on whether or not the world is prepared to "move forward" -- when we reach an equilibrium between the cost of ever more incremental revolutions and the corresponding rewards of saving in costs on the investment in government. A 'libertarian position' is simply the unit of those increments."


I'm surprised that anyone takes the "anarcho"-capitalists seriously. In fact, most anarchists do not think they are anarchists.

Anyone who can serious discuss the merits of voluntary slave contracts does not deserve to be taken seriously -- or be called libertarians.

Justin Rietz

I may be wrong, but I believe anarcho-capitalist theory does NOT allow voluntary slave contracts, as a person is unable to contract away their free will.


Tell that to Walter Block.

He, like Nozick, defends voluntary slavery. As he puts it, "if I own something, I can sell it (and should be allowed by law to do so). If I can't sell, then, and to that extent, I really don't own it." Thus agreeing to sell yourself for a lifetime "is a bona fide contract" which, if "abrogated, theft occurs." He critiques those other right-wing "libertarians" (like Rothbard) who oppose voluntary slavery as being inconsistent to their principles. Block, in other words, seeks to make "a tiny adjustment" which "strengthens libertarianism by making it more internally consistent." His critique, he argues, shows "that contract, predicated on private property [can] reach to the furthest realms of human interaction, even to voluntary slave contracts." ["Towards a Libertarian Theory of Inalienability: A Critique of Rothbard, Barnett, Smith, Kinsella, Gordon, and Epstein," pp. 39-85, Journal of Libertarian Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, p. 44, p. 48, p. 82 and p. 46]

It is online, if you goggle it you can read the whole argument.

It is all a question of time. Rothbard was all in favour of people contracting away their free will -- he supported capitalism and wage labour, after all. Apparently selling your labour for 8 hours or 8 years was okay, but not 80 years. Rothbard just could not handle the logical implications of his position. Unlike Block, and "minarchist" Robert Nozick.

David Ellerman wrote a great spoof of the "anarcho"-capitalist/right-"libertarian"
position a few years back. Ironically, Block's serious argument is identical. It is also on-line here:

The Libertarian Case for Slavery

I understand why Rothbard could not bring himself to support slave contracts even though he did not have any real basis to object. Firstly, it makes it harder to call yourself a "libertarian" if you admit that slavery and dictatorship are compatible with your ideology. Secondly, any serious and logical critique of the slave contract shows up the authoritarian nature of capitalism.

Which is why genuine anarchists are anti-capitalists (as discussing in An Anarchist FAQ, --- http://www.anarchistfaq.org -- there is even a section on slave contracts in its critique of "anarcho"-capitalism).

rolex watches

This is clearly replica watches the job for our legal fraternity to engage the establishment to necessary breitling watches steps by filing petitions in various courts. IF one fails another should be cartier watches filed taking every one to task. It is rolex watches useless to suggest ways and means to solve tag heuer watches the day to day problem to well paid employees tissot watches of government controlled establishments. Only active omega watches judiciary will resolve this problem.

rado watches

Why is everyone just montblanc watches willing to accept power cuts? Don't you think that patek philippe watches having continious power is your right? If people aren't going to demand rado watches 24X7 power, don't expect anything zenith watches to change. The government needs to look at other sources parmigiani watches of power generation. The only solution is more power panerai watches production. Nothing less.

rolex watches

People usually say :"Seeing is believing." http://www.tt88times.com
Each attempt has a corresponding gain, in part or obvious, or vague. At least we have the kind of satisfaction After I bought this watch ,in a sense,it means a great deal to me. http://www.fashionhairfu.com

nfl jersey

People usually say :"Seeing is believing." http://jordanmass.com Each attempt has a orresponding gain, in part or obvious, or vague. At least we have the kind of satisfaction After I bought this watch ,in a sense,it means a great deal to me. http://boon-shoes.com

ugg classic knit

People usually say :"Seeing is believing." http://jordanmass.com Each attempt has a orresponding gain, in part or obvious, or vague. At least we have the kind of satisfaction After I bought nfl jersey ,in a sense,it means a great deal to me. http://www.fansshirt.com

jordan shoes

People usually say :"Seeing is believing." http://fansshirt.com Each attempt has a orresponding gain, in part or obvious, or vague. At least we have the kind of satisfaction After I bought this watch ,in a sense,it means a great deal to me. http://boon-shoes.com

Account Deleted


Thanks o much.

Account Deleted

Many places and centers offer business and trade promotions to both buyers and supplier.What about the differences in skill intensities across industries? The job losses in the relatively unskilled-labor intensive battery industry should have little effect on the relatively skilled-labor intensive machinery
sexshop online

The comments to this entry are closed.