My original essay, the Parameters of the State, was naive in its assumptions about the role of government within what I would consider a libertarian society. Previously, I suggested that the state should have a role within basic security provision, the courts and a basic income. However, upon continued studying of writers within the anarchist tradition, such as Rothbard and Carson, I have come to a new conclusion that there can be no parameters to the state, as the state itself is an illegitimate and coercive organisation that can have no real place within a libertarian world. The services I before believed should be provided by some form of government can and have been provided either by the free market or the social economy. The services provided by these institutions, whether it be security, health or welfare have consistently been better at serving individuals and communities than the government-based versions. This has led me to the conclusion that the only viable libertarian society is one based on voluntary exchange, liberty and anarchism.
Modern government as it currently stands is a repressive institution that taxes coercively, militarises populations and creates enemies where none previously existed and props itself up through legalised theft. It develops specific institutions such as the military-industrial complex which allows for repression to occur at an implicit level, thus dividing peoples and creating antagonistic class relations, while at the same time deflecting criticism away from itself and the class it has developed, that of bureaucrats, politicians, lobbyists and what Occupy Wall Street has called the 1%. This class has created a cyclical process of exploitation whereby the 1% will beneficial legislation, the lobbyists push for such legislation, the politicians become a mouthpiece for such legislation and the bureaucrats enact this legislation. However, when you have such a large organisation, this is completely inevitable and to be expected. This then means that even the concept of small or limited government, as posited by minarchist libertarians, is itself impossible, as to have an institution as large as the state is to allow for its abuse by the powerful in favour of themselves. Thus the alternative is anarchism, whereby voluntary exchange and association based around concepts of a free market and the social economy are allowed to exist and the state is to become non-existent. As I mentioned before, the modern state plays little beneficial role in people’s lives and instead hinders the individual, as well as the community, to exchange freely and voluntarily, and instead becomes a pawn for the dominant powers and vested interests in a society. This is why I believe that to have true freedom and liberty, the state needs to be removed from the picture. In its, place I believe there would be free markets where people can exchange goods based on their wants and needs, and where choice and innovation would flourish as producers and businesses are not kowtowed by state regulations. It also allows for different and alternative forms of society to arise, based around concepts as varied as anarcho-communism, socialism, syndicalism or agorism, as well as meaning the modern neoliberal paradigm of corporatism and control is replaced in favour of bottom-up organisation and choice, as well as meaning that the market, as it currently stands, will not be the only form of social organisation, with autarkical communities and businesses being able to develop as well. Without the state, individuals will be able to interact and exchange with whomever they want through whatever forum they want. The only limits to such organisation are those developed around natural law, the non-aggression principle and our natural human empathy.
While I do believe that without the state we can flourish as individuals and communities, this does not mean that society will descend into violence or chaos where everyone is out for themselves. Such a prediction ignores fundamental concepts of human nature whereby our behaviour is regulated by concepts of empathy and non-aggression. Hobbes sums it with his idea of you will not do to another what you wouldn’t want another to do to you, this being the basis of Hobbes’ concept of natural law. These concepts are already seen today by the majority of people who don’t break the law voluntarily. These individuals aren’t following the law because they are afraid of state repression, but because they recognise the innate humanity in other people. If the former were the case, then people who don’t murder and steal would also never speed in their cars or take drugs, both of which are at the moment illegal. Thus law and the regulatory apparatus it creates aren’t codified by the state, but instead by our own ethical intuition. Further, the development of many common law documents, such as the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta, lay generally accepted examples of common law that themselves can be a guide towards the dealings of justice and liberty within a society. Despite this, we must also recognise that there are people who break natural laws, such as a violation of one’s own body or property. However, justice and court systems that deal with such issues are completely feasible in a stateless society. At the market level, you could have dispute resolution organisations (DROs) as theorised by Molyneux, whereby disputes are settled and contracts are organised via DROs. Competition between DROs would produce favourable packages that are suitable for peoples and communities, and meaning that any DROs that operated badly or didn’t treat their clients fairly wouldn’t last long on the market. At a community level, examples of community courts based around reciprocal justice are abundant, with examples in Philadelphia and Liberal Democrat controlled councils in the UK. When it comes to defence, similar systems would exist in a stateless society. There could be private defence contractors who would be paid either individually or at a community level on the market, thereby competing for contracts and providing the best deal and service. This system has already occurred in many places, most notably in Houston, Texas. Further, businesses could pay for their own security instead of relying on the inefficient state police system which usually doesn’t guarantee the safety of their property, such as in times of disaster or during riots. There could also be forms of civilian policing (which, alongside the proliferation of gun rights, bringing self-defense back into the hands of individuals and away from the state) such as neighbourhood watch type organisations or civilian militias as theorised by Rousseau.
Then there is the issue of welfare and poverty prevention. The modern state does a terrible job of poverty prevention, by first regulating employee-employer relations as well as codifying labour rights and relations out of the hands of employers, employees and trade unions and into the hands of the state, thus allowing for large levels of unemployment, and then by creating a pervasive welfare state that creates a class of dependents, developing generational joblessness and deprivation. Welfare organisations have already worked outside of the state, as has been through charities, mutual aid organisations and trade unions. Also, as mentioned in the previous essay, I believe that a basic income guarantee is the best form of poverty prevention as it guarantees security from poverty and allows for entrepreneurialism and innovation among individuals and communities. However this type of provision doesn’t have to be done by national government, and has instead been provided by charities in combination with democratically accountable local government with excellent results in Namibia and India. It should also be recognised that choice in an individual’s life, like where to build a house and how and when to work are not his own, and are instead used toward the government’s welfare and whomever that government favours. Without the regulation of labour laws, property laws and planning laws, many people would easily find their own lot in life outside of any traditional welfare structure. Finally, the removal of the state would lead to the development of truly free markets, instead of the current neoliberal system of corporatism, whereby powerful corporations are given beneficial treatment through specific regulations, taxes, trade agreements, patent laws and property laws that mean small businesses cannot compete. The removal of the state would mean this protectionism would end, and most of the modern, dominant corporations would be swallowed up by new innovations and competition, as well as meaning corporations would have to engage with communities one on one, meaning a fair deal for communities that have exploitable resources or something a corporation would want. It would further mean that regulations hindering the development of ethical and charitable business would end, allowing for the flourishing of entities like cooperatives, worker-owned enterprises, mutual banks and ethical investment companies. Removing the state’s hindrances on these fundamental areas of human life would create better outcomes for all involved, as well as holding the powerful accountable to consumers, communities, markets and their competitors.
Now that I have shown how a stateless society could function and how the services usually considered the domain of the state can and have been provided by private business on the market or through community means, now I will explain how I believe a libertarian society free of the state should best be organised, which in my opinion is through local governance structures. Local government, if voluntarily created and funded, needn’t follow the same path as modern nation-states have of becoming unaccountable leviathans. Local governance-type institutions are nominally more accountable to those who are affected by the decisions they make as well as less likely to be corrupted by vested interests, as people more easily recognise corruption and cronyism when it is at a local level. The ideal form of local government would be one based around principles of direct democracy, where every member of a local government catchment area has a say on how the money they provide to this institution is spent and what services could be provided, whether they be security, healthcare or welfare, or whether these services are meted out to private providers via contracts organised by a local government. This follows along the lines of a cooperative form of government, where decisions are decided at the lowest possible level through instruments such as surveys and referenda. For this type of institution to work, they would have to be voluntarily created and funded by people and businesses who choose to include their property in these local government catchment areas. People within this framework must also have the ability to remove their property and funding from these institutions at any time they like, providing the contract they signed to become a member doesn’t say any different to this arrangement. This system would function similarly to the Tuatha seen in Ireland for centuries before Cromwell’s invasion. I believe these would function very well in a truly free, libertarian society as they would be entirely voluntary and run according to the member’s wants and wishes, meaning that powerful vested interests couldn’t gain the upper hand like they with modern governance networks. The services provided and how they are provided would be entirely up to the members, meaning that services that are difficult to contract on an individual level, such as security and welfare, can be done at a collective/communal level thus providing the best deal, as well as meaning that anyone who disagrees can leave of their own volition.
To develop a libertarian society like the one I’ve theorised and written about, we must as libertarians and anarchists be politically active. Whether this be by changing how education works so as to decouple it from the state, by actively undermining the very foundations of the state through tax protests or through actively engaging in illegal economic activities, such as untaxable work, hiring of illegal immigrants and creating employment contracts in violation of state sanctioned wage and employment laws. This also means voting, not for the lesser of two evils, but for genuine libertarian politicians that can move legislation and government towards a position of either limitation or elimination. This means following the course of what Rothbard termed radical decentralism, whereby we push for change that removes power from the highest rungs and have it put into the hands of the lowest units of society, these being individuals, businesses and communities.