Journey into a Libertarian Future: Part I –The Vision

By Andrew Dittmer, who recently finished his PhD in mathematics at Harvard and is currently continuing work on his thesis topic. He also taught mathematics at a local elementary school. Andrew enjoys explaining the recent history of the financial sector to a popular audience.

Simulposted at The Distributist Review

Recently journalist Philip Pilkington has interviewed authors with unconventional perspectives on economic issues, including Satyajit Das and David Graeber. I thought it would be fun to interview someone too – but the man I interviewed uses a pseudonym. This is a six-part series.

ANDREW: Some people say that you represent a fringe view, and so interviewing you is a waste of time.

CODE NAME CAIN: If people obsessed with inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom underestimate libertarians, so much the better.

ANDREW: Can you give any evidence that your ideas are taken seriously?

CNC: Well, people used to think that the financial crisis was caused by antisocial behavior in the finance sector. In September 2007, Tom DiLorenzo pointed out on the Lew Rockwell website that the crisis was actually the result of the government forcing banks to make risky loans to low-income borrowers. Although initially ignored, DiLorenzo’s thesis is now widely accepted among careful observers.

ANDREW: Is that your only convincing example?

CNC: Hardly. Did you notice how over the last year or so, everyone started to talk about how the threat of new taxes and regulations was making producers uncertain? And when producers are uncertain, the economy fails to improve? Well, the fact that worries about taxes and regulations cause uncertainty and so damage the economy is a key insight of Austrian economics that we have proclaimed for decades.

ANDREW: Wait, I thought people said that Obama was causing the uncertainty.

CNC: Obama is causing the uncertainty now. Before Obama, George W. Bush was causing the uncertainty. In general, democratic government causes uncertainty. Hans-Hermann Hoppe made all of this clear in his 2001 book “Democracy: The God That Failed.”

ANDREW: Are there things you have learned from the work of Dr. Hoppe that you had not found in the writings of other libertarians?

CNC: “Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard were great men, but they lived in a time when supporters of freedom needed to be careful about what they said. As a result, libertarians often fail to describe their ideal future society in clear detail. But, as the Cato Institute’s Patri Friedman has recognized, Hans-Hermann Hoppe is an exception to this reticence. He is willing to speak the truth, no matter how much it makes “politically correct” people squirm, and he is so logical and eloquent that I routinely quote from his classic book on the failure of democracy. Please color such quotes in red – I would never try to pass off my own ideas as if they were on his level.

ANDREW: Tell us now about the libertarian society you are working to make possible.

CNC: It will be a free society – no government, no coercion. People will have their rights respected. Everyone will be free to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s rights… why are you looking at me like that?

ANDREW: I was kind of hoping for less speeches and more details.

CNC: What do you mean?

ANDREW: In our society, the government is the only organization allowed to kill people. In the libertarian society, which organizations will kill people?

CNC: There will be no government that is allowed to use force against people and kill them.

ANDREW: Some people will be very rich, right?

CNC: Of course. Some people will always be stronger and more brilliant than others.

ANDREW: Will the wealthy people still be worried about people stealing from them?

CNC: Obviously – all property… is necessarily valuable; hence, every property owner becomes a possible target of other men’s aggressive desires. [255]

ANDREW: So who will protect property owners?

CNC: Insurance companies in a competitive marketplace.

ANDREW: So in your society, insurance companies will be sort of like governments. Can we call them security GLOs (Government-Like Organizations)?

CNC: Sure, as long as we stress that the insurance companies, as security GLOs, will be very different from the statist, coercive governments we have today.

ANDREW: Will security GLOs be different from governments because they will be small family firms?

CNC: No. One reason that insurance companies will be well-suited for the role of security GLOs is that they are “big” and in command of the resources… necessary to accomplish the task of dealing with the dangers… of the real world. Indeed, insurers operate on a national or even international scale, and they own substantial property holdings dispersed over wide territories… [281]

ANDREW: Will security GLOs be different from governments because they don’t use physical force against criminals?

CNC: You gotta be kidding, right? … in cooperation with one another, insurers [will] want to expel known criminals not just from their immediate neighborhoods, but from civilization altogether, into the wilderness or open frontier of the Amazon jungle, the Sahara, or the polar regions. [262]

ANDREW: So the security GLOs will be allowed to kill people, if they are known criminals?

CNC: The security GLOs will not kill people, they will just expel them to the Sahara or polar regions. What happens then is up to the criminals.

ANDREW: Can we say that the security GLOs will effectively kill them?

CNC: I really don’t like that choice of wording. You make it sound like the security GLOs will be committing aggression against the criminals. That’s backwards – the criminal commits aggression, and security GLOs will just defend people. They won’t violate anyone’s rights.

ANDREW: Maybe you would prefer that we say: the security GLOs will effectively kill people in a rights-respecting manner.

CNC: Yeah, that’s better.

ANDREW: Will everybody be able to get insurance from the security GLOs?

CNC: Of course – in a market economy, shortages are impossible. Anyone can get anything by paying the market price.

ANDREW: What if the market price of insurance for some people is more money than they can pay?

CNC: Don’t worry, competition among insurers for paying clients will bring about a tendency toward a continuous fall in the price of protection… [281-282].

ANDREW: In the future everyone will pay less for security than they currently pay in taxes?

CNC: Well, certain government-induced distortions would be eliminated. Government taxes more in low crime and high property value areas than in high crime and low property value areas. [259] Security GLOs would do the exact opposite.

ANDREW: So in rough neighborhoods, most people might not be able to afford security insurance.

CNC: Possibly.

ANDREW: Suppose there are people who aren’t covered by any security GLO – would it effectively be legal to kill them?

CNC: They would definitely be rendered economically isolated, weak, and vulnerable outcast[s] [287].

ANDREW: Then people are effectively forced to join a security GLO?

CNC: Maybe you haven’t realized it yet, but this will be a free society. The relationship between the insurer and the insured is consensual. Both are free to cooperate and not to cooperate. [281] No one will force people to buy protection, and no one will force insurers to offer protection at a price they think is too low.

ANDREW: What are some other ways that you think this would be a good system?

CNC: Well, every property … can be shaped and transformed by its owner so as to increase its safety and reduce the likelihood of aggression. I may acquire a gun or safe-deposit box, for instance, or I may be able to shoot down an attacking plane from my backyard or own a laser gun that can kill an aggressor thousands of miles away. [256] In a free society, security GLOs would encourage the ownership of weapons among their insured by means of selective price cuts [264] because the better the private protection of their clients, the lower the insurer’s protection and indemnification costs will be [285].

ANDREW: Let’s see if I understand. In poor neighborhoods, most people will not be insured, and it will be legal to kill them. The people that are insured will be encouraged by the security GLO to carry weapons that are as technologically advanced as possible. It sounds to me like this would be bad for the poor neighborhoods.

CNC: On the contrary – in “bad” neighborhoods the interests of the insurer and insured would coincide. Insurers would not want to suppress the expulsionist inclinations among the insured toward known criminals. They would rationalize such tendencies by offering selective price cuts (contingent on specific clean-up operations). [262]

ANDREW: Suppose that security GLOs, or private groups that they sponsor, are looking for criminals. When the enforcers catch the criminals, will they always transport them to an uninhabited area, or will they sometimes put them in prison?

CNC: Prisons like the ones we have? With basketball courts and televisions for the criminals? How would that be fair?

ANDREW: Maybe other kinds of prisons?

CNC: Look, it’s not about putting people in prisons. It’s about people getting what they deserve. And in the libertarian society of the future, people will get what they deserve. Security GLOs can be counted upon to apprehend the offender, and bring him to justice, because in so doing the insurer can reduce his costs and force the criminal… to pay for the damages and cost of indemnification. [282]

ANDREW: So they’ll have to do forced labor for the security GLO?

CNC: How can you possibly think this could be worse than our current system? Where instead of compensating the victims of crimes it did not prevent, the government forces victims to pay again as taxpayers for the cost of the apprehension, imprisonment, rehabilitation and/or entertainment of their aggressors [259]?

ANDREW: Still, as a libertarian, aren’t you against coercion?

CNC: Coercion? Obviously you don’t understand what you’re talking about. Coercion is only when someone interferes with rights someone else actually holds. Criminals can forfeit their rights through their own choices. When that happens, requiring them to make restitution for their actions doesn’t violate their rights.

ANDREW: Will there be any other people in the free society who will be slaves?

CNC: Slaves?! Don’t you know that the first condition of a libertarian society is that everyone owns themselves?

ANDREW: Sorry, I meant to say: effectively slaves in a rights-respecting manner.

CNC: Oh. Hmmm. Let me think about that.

ANDREW: For example, suppose someone signs a business contract and then, later, can’t fulfill the terms of the contract. What would happen?

CNC: In a libertarian society, sanctity of contract is absolutely fundamental.

ANDREW: Let me be a little more specific. Suppose some guy can’t pay his debts. Would he be allowed to declare bankruptcy and move on, or would he become, in a rights-respecting manner, the effective slave of whoever had loaned him the money?

CNC: That would depend upon the debt contract that the lender and borrower had together voluntarily signed. If they had chosen to include a bankruptcy proviso, then the borrower could declare bankruptcy.

ANDREW: Suppose that in the libertarian society, lenders would rather encourage borrowers to focus on repayment – and so they decide not to give borrowers an easy way out. Suppose that no lenders offer loans with a bankruptcy proviso. Would that be okay?

CNC: Economic theory tells us that loans without a bankruptcy proviso will be made at lower interest rates than loans allowing borrowers to go bankrupt. So if no loans contain a bankruptcy proviso, it will just mean that borrowers prefer low-interest no-bankruptcy loans.

ANDREW: I see some problems here.

CNC: Look, it sounds from your question like you think that the lenders should be coerced into allowing borrowers to be irresponsible and go bankrupt! That would effectively make them loan their hard-earned money in ways that they don’t want. How is that any different than forcing them to work at hard labor?

ANDREW: Obviously it would be better to have defaulting borrowers be effectively enslaved in a way that fully respects their natural rights.

CNC: Obviously. Now that we’ve cleared that up, can you turn off the tape recorder? I want to get started on my steak.

Now that Code Name Cain has indicated the promise of a libertarian society, in the next part of the interview he will give a step-by-step plan for how we can make this society a reality.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


    1. TK 421

      They aren’t psychopaths, they just lack empathy, believe they are far more important than anyone else, and value achievement of their own goals over emotional attachments to other people.

      1. Blunt


        Psychopaths and/or their conjoined twins, sociopaths.

        How about dangerous morons and just call it a day?

  1. jake chase

    Well, the libertarian straw man is now covered with bruises but the essential point remains: any society requires rules; what rules should we have? Currently, we have draconian rules restricting the behavior of people, and no rules (at least none that are enforced) restricting the behavior of campaign sponsoring institutions (public corporations, banks) or white collar looters. Only government is capable of restraining these predators, so we need government. Unfortunately, representative democracy doesn’t seem to work. Maybe we need a king or a Napoleon? Improving our broken system isn’t going to be easy or quick. People will have to muddle through.

    1. steelhead23

      While Napolean brought order to Paris, to the rest of Europe he brought war. Although, if I recall correctly, his first conquest was of Austria and the Hapsburg banks which held French debt. So, if our “new Napolean” wants to take on the banks, Vive la France!

      1. Rcoutme

        Wrong. Nappy’s first conquest was of Northern Italy (he set his sister up as monarch). He also revised the laws so that they were categorized instead of the hodge-podge of Britain and the US. Consequently, it is much easier to pass the bar in Louisiana than in the other states…

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Unfortunately, representative democracy doesn’t seem to work.

      We should at least try it. It would clearly be better than what we have know, government owned by Koch libertarians.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Unfortunately, representative democracy doesn’t seem to work.” – Jake (should’ve been in quotes)

  2. K Ackermann

    I love it.

    You did a great job of unrolling just this one thin sliver of axiomatic insanity being ever so carefully teased out by the hardened libertarians.

    There are so many other areas and examples that it boggles, and it’s pitched just like a religion.

  3. Philip Pilkington

    Much better than my interviews. Interviews at their best produce truth — and this interview produces more truth than any of mine hope to achieve.

    Poor Hayek and von Mises. If the adherents of their ideas ever got into power we’d be living under de facto fascism. But the onus is on the original theorists. They knew how dangerous left-wing utopian movements and ideas espousing total individual freedom could be. They should have realised how dangerous their right-wing counterparts could be too.

    1. F. Beard

      Many so-called “libertarians” are hypocrites. They are supposedly against government intervention yet insist that government recognize gold as money. Mises so thought and so did Rothbard (sadly).

      I am for minimal government myself but recognize that our current banker fascism has created many social needs. When the banker fascism is abolished then the need for socialism should “wither away.”

      1. ambrit

        my Dear Mr. Beard;
        What an adorable catch! “Wither away” exactly expresses the feel of modern Libertarianism. Just as Tito described Stalins Communism as “State Socialism,” could we describe the present Neo-Con world view as “State Libertarianism?”

        1. F. Beard

          … could we describe the present Neo-Con world view as “State Libertarianism?” ambrit

          I call that fascism.

          1. ambrit

            Mr. beard;
            Just like NASDAP members calling themselves “National Socialists” eh? Too true.
            What’s frightening here is the extent of the ‘incrementalist creep’ being engineered. That’s the Kochs’ and Petersonnes’ real accomplishment.

          2. mansoor h. khan

            F. Beard,

            You arrived at your fundamental monetary reform (abolishing the fascist money cartel) conclusion by considering the impact of usury.

            I actually did not. I just don’t want any private businesses which cannot fail. Then I backed-into “deposit insurance” as the culprit which keeps these goons in power and then I backed into a need for a government bank for safe keeping of currency (money) with gov as the the ledger keeper.

            How wonderful truth is. It is always consistent no matter which way you get to it?

            Mansoor H. Khan

          3. F. Beard

            by considering the impact of usury. Mansoor H Khan

            Actually, it was abolishing the theft by fractional reserves that got me interested in how money might be created ethically. Later I saw the problems with usury.

            How wonderful truth is. It is always consistent no matter which way you get to it? Mansoor H Khan

            “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” Luke 7:35 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

      2. K Ackermann

        The danger is in how you define minimal government.

        I know you think things through, but many don’t and do great damage promoting the meme that all regulations are bad. I can rattle off a list of regulations that should be enacted which actually promote market efficiency via all-powerful competition.

        And the idea that free markets always place capital most efficiently is empirically false. Libertarians will tell you with a straight face that the space program was a huge waste, and that the free market would have eventually achived the same thing when the cost of doing so was right.

        What is the cumulative efficiency gain from global communications, GPS, and weather satellites? Astronomical, maybe? Excuse the pun.

        The government used to do good things… and BIG good things.

        1. F. Beard

          The danger is in how you define minimal government. K Ackermann

          I don’t attempt to define “minimal government.” I just know that a government/backed enforced usury and counterfeiting cartel is a (the?) major reason that we need so much socialism.

        2. F. Beard

          The government used to do good things… and BIG good things. K Ackermann

          I have no problem with that and neither should anyone else IF the government financed those things honestly by abolishing the “stealth inflation tax.” And the way to abolish that dishonest tax is not with gold but by allowing genuine private currencies for private debts.

        3. F. Beard

          Libertarians will tell you with a straight face that the space program was a huge waste, and that the free market would have eventually achived the same thing when the cost of doing so was right. K Ackermann

          The problem is that the Federal Government is the only source of new money into the US economy and so even wasteful Federal deficit spending does some good.

          I am not opposed to the Space Program, btw. I would even like to see SETI refunded, not because we will ever hear anything but because we won’t! That will cause a lot of head scratching.

        4. Doug Terpstra

          Great comment, K Ackermann. For a stunning visual on free market pigshit, see a chart of FY 2012 federal budget:

          Almost 60% of the federal budget is devoted to “defense” and “security”. The graphic juxtaposition of spending: 10:1 on military (1,000%) versus education, 10:1 over health and human services, 30:1 over energy; 30:1 over justice, etc., should be enough to sicken anyone not yet poisoned by Koch-a-cola. Anyone waiting for Koch Industries or Wal-Mart to build roads and bridges, dams, utility networks, libraries, schools, parks, or any other essential cornerstone for civilized society will be sorely disappointed. The only legitimate public expense such industries will ever acknowledge is corporate security an piracy via the US military, and even then, they will not pay for it themselves.

          1. Jimbo1866

            All those returning toops and money will be deployed throughout our country in the name of protection. Anyone “looking’ or “acting” like a terrorist to detention, never to be seen again.

        5. Lew Glendenning

          “Money buys power”.

          Money gets the rules and regulations they want.

          When you have a method of perfecting people, we can reconsider the the failure of regulations and regulatory structures.

          Until then, please note that almost all the economic news is some variation on ‘money bought power, again’.

      3. Piano Racer

        “Many so-called “libertarians” are hypocrites. They are supposedly against government intervention yet insist that government recognize gold as money.”

        Every libertarian I’ve spoken to, including Ron Paul, wants to let the market decide what it wants to use as money. Legal tender laws are anathema to libertarianism.

        Nice straw-man though.

        1. F. Beard

          Every libertarian I’ve spoken to, including Ron Paul, wants to let the market decide what it wants to use as money. Piano Racer

          Judge Napolitano:
          What would happen in a Ron Paul presidency if we were to return to a gold standard. How soon could this happen and how would it happen?

          Ron Paul:
          I wish we could do this overnight and we could do a few things like repealing the executive order of Nixon but that in and of itself wouldn’t be enough.

          We know what to do. We did it once after the Civil War. We went from a paper standard back to a gold standard, and the event was not that dramatic. Today the big problem is both the conservatives and the liberals have a big appetite for big government for different reasons. Therefore they need the Fed to tide them over and monetize the debt. from

        2. Lew Glendenning

          It seems that nobody’s context includes the fact that almost all of their basic understanding of economics and government was gained under the strong influence of government.

          The Fed supports most of the economic research in the US, perhaps around the world. Is it surprising that so many believe in Keynes? That so many are quick to denigrate Gold as money, almost always without any serious reasoning. That so many believe in the Progressive’s ‘rule by experts’ and the corollary ‘we need regulations’?

          There are alternatives, but you guys have never heard of them. How about ‘Complete honesty, let the seller beware’ legislation? We already use that in a major part of securities law under the ‘material events’ rubric.

          There is a pitiful breadth of understanding on display throughout these comments.

          1. Peter T

            “The Fed supports most of the economic research in the US, perhaps around the world. Is it surprising that so many believe in Keynes?”

            I thought Friedman had replaced Keynes as God at the Fed.

        3. F. Beard

          That so many are quick to denigrate Gold as money, almost always without any serious reasoning. Lew Glendenning

          Not true in my case.

          And I fully support your right to use shiny metals or anything else for private debts so long as all potential private money alternatives are allowed to compete fairly too.

    2. Susan the other

      Philip, your interviews are excellent and truth is always relative because… yatta yatta. (I admit I really didn’t follow Das tho’.) What I’m hoping Andrew does here is expose the great rift in western reasoning. That pesky contradiction between freedom and equality. No matter how we rationalize like bi-polar lunatics we will always have to come to the most reasonable compromise. Just like in a Court of Law – the most reasonable party wins. This series could be as profound as it is amusing.

    3. Lew Glendenning

      What do you call the system we are living under now?

      It strongly combines political and corporate power, the hallmark of Fasicsm.

      You think that Homeland Security is just a name? That TSA is just a passing phase rather than a harbinger of the Gestapo it will become?

      This is a hatchet job, and anyone could do it for any political system. No system is perfect, and it is far easier to see speculative problems in a proposed system than the one we live within.

      The FDA kills people by the 100s of 1000s every year here in the US, and 10s of 1,000,000s around the world, and you defenders of the Intellectual Status Quo don’t even realize it.

      First you have to grok reality. Then you can do political commentary when you can do fair comparisons.

      1. Fiver

        All true. But it’s because that government, which became “big” largely in order to counter-balance corporate power (let’s leave the insanity of the Pentagon aside) is now fully captured by corporate power. If government cannot be re-captured, then by what mechanism can we bring corporate power DIRECTLY to heel? Because if you’ve got the answer to that, there are millions waiting to hear it who will start working on it immediately.

    4. propertius

      I’ve always thought we’d be far more likely to end up living under feudalism than fascism, per se. It seems to me that the natural end-point of libertarianism is the concentration of assets into the hands of a hereditary aristocracy – who will apparently have jus gladii, as well (can droit du seigneur be far behind?).

  4. Pete

    Ooh, conversations with theoretial libertarians! So much fun. When I first started to read this, I thought it was serious. But there are people who actually believe it.

    First of all the security organizations he talks about: According to another 1970s libertarizan, Robert Nozick (and many others), there is the issue of dispute-resolution between two people who are represented by competing security organizations. There is a possibility that the security organizations, in order to fulfill their obligations to their respective customers, would have to battle each other. Eventually leading to a “dominant security organization” within some geographical area, also known as a “state”. (or ultra-minimalist state, if you like). So lets not even pretend there won’t be the threat of violence or coercion to back up property rights.

    But we can get to the point by examining whether such an arrangement is just. Simply ask your libertarian friend how to determine if a piece of property belongs to a person. Follow the trail to its end and the it’s possible to see that the beautifully structured theories all get impaled on the choice of (1) labor-theory-of-value or (2) land ownership, which comes from might-makes-right. How many libertarians would advocate assigning ownership of the USA to Native Americans, eh? Anyway, the point is, to correct the regularly occurring injustices in the world, redistribution is necessary. It’s marvelously fun, though your libertarian friend won’t be your friend any more after that.

    1. PQuincy

      Yes, epistemology is fatal to libertarianism. How would any individual know who is a ‘criminal’? If two people disagree about which one injured the other one’s rights, how would a third party know which (if either) was telling the truth?

      The staggering silliness of this kind of extreme libertarianism deserves occasional exposure, so thanks.

      1. propertius

        If two people disagree about which one injured the other one’s rights, how would a third party know which (if either) was telling the truth?

        Trial by combat, of course.

      2. Jill


        I thought the same thing, then went right to “Minority Report”! Problem solved!!

        No this is not a waste of blog space. This ideology needs to be drawn out in detail as was done in this interview.

      3. steve

        “How would any individual know who is a ‘criminal’? If two people disagree about which one injured the other one’s rights, how would a third party know which (if either) was telling the truth?”

        Umm… isn’t this just a statement of a basic problem faced by the police on a regular basis. Basically the answer is they look into it as best they can. If they find convincing evidence they punish someone, else the criminal gets away with it. Or worse, they just punish the wrong person. Mistakes happen even when the government is involved.

        1. reason

          You don’t understand the point. In this private world there is no concept of “justice” see. There is no review procedure. The judges are all bought (so they are corrupt by NATURE). Unless it is immediately clear – and remember each side has its own security representative – you have a problem. A big problem because the all the justice is severe and arbitrary.

        2. reason

          I think perhaps it is just as clear if I point out that here that the right to property, the right of contract and the right of self-ownership is clearly not sufficient. Nobody is responsible for, or even interested in, justice in this world. The insurance companies are only interested in protecting properties not the rights of individuals.

    2. Greg Miller

      Nozick was one of Harvard’s best and brightest. For someone who seems to have read Nozick’s _Anarchy State and Utopia_, it’s interesting that you state “Simply ask your libertarian friend how to determine if a piece of property belongs to a person” and conclude that “might makes right” is surely the only foundation, when Nozick spends much of the book addressing that very question, and demolishes the argument you make rather successfully, early on. Should we conclude that you are only pretending to understand Nozick or that you are selectively presenting his ideas?

      1. rotter

        So rather than refering everyone to an obscure book, why not just present the “demolished argument” so everyone can see how it turned out. I like to read too, but im not going to buy and read every crackpot libertarian that gets a check from charles koch to publish another screed.

        1. Greg Miller

          Nozick died before Koch was on the political scene, and he identified more with the left than with the right… but I’m glad that you have made clear the erroneous assumptions that you approach these sort of discussions with.

          The reason I didn’t present the argument is that I didn’t think it very relevant to the main debate here; but I thought that what seemed like a selective presentation of the argument was relevant to establishing what kind of discussion is taking place. Similarly, your comment itself isn’t that relevant to this debate, but what it says about your bias is. That’s my line of thinking anyways… since you asked.

          More importantly, I think the original poster followed up below, so I will reply re: Nozick under that.

      2. Foppe

        Even Nozick himself later admitted the book had major “flaws” (though he never bothered to say what those flaws were — vanity or obviousness?).. Why waste your time?

      3. Pete

        Well, I skipped straight to the and as you saw. Nozick is logically very tight. I remember when I read it I had a very strong feeling that his conclusions were wrong but I couldn’t figure out how to attack his argument. Eventually I found this line of reasoning, which I think will crack open quite a few “theories” of how the world ought to be:

        Property belongs to you if you justly acquired it. If not you have to give it back. So there is a trail of just acquisitions going back to the creation of property. Buying stolen property doesn’t justify your claim to it. So follow the chain of all property ownership and it eventually leads to labor, materials, and know-how. The labor is traded willingly in exchange for a portion of the fruits of the enterprise, which are combined with the materials – natural resources, which come from land.

        So we examine the land ownership. How was the land originally acquired? Bought “fairly” from someone, who bought it from someone, who bought it from someone, who stole it. Look at European history, to start with- essentially ALL the land there in the world was conquered in wars of agression. Same applies everywhere else in the world. There was no “empty land” free to take, other than perhaps some deserts and Antarctica.

        So the theory has to justify acquisition of land some other way, or else have some kind of statue of limitations on unjust land acquisition where it’s forgiven. The justification is typically that land that wasn’t used by anyone can become yours if you work on it / make improvements. But that doesn’t apply to the bulk of the valuable land in the world. So then you have to decide where you draw the line? 1491? Nah, then the Natives would own everything. How about 1776? That’s more like it. Now we have a theory we can work with…. Nah, I think any rigidly property-rights-based system breaks down this way.

        1. Pete

          PS- Nozick is not a crackpot. Reading him is a wonderful and mind-expanding experience, and will make whatever your beliefs are stronger and more logical.

        2. Greg Miller

          Hi Pete, thanks for taking the time to clarify this, despite the fact that my original reply was already in “political defense mode”. Here is what I think you are missing from Nozick’s argument. While he did build up an argument along the lines of what you are saying, he was also quite clear that if you look back far enough in this “transactional history”, you are almost certain to find injustice and unfair transactions in the history! It’s a subtlety that really changes the view you got from a quick read. Nozick ends up arguing that when these injustices are lost in the past, the best we can do is ensuring that transactions we do know about are fair, which will lead to wealth being distributed fairly. Caveat: this is based on my reading of the book quite some time ago, so I hope I have done Nozick justice.

          Another point about Nozick, which is probably more relevant than anything to this post: I think he identified more with the left than with the right. Certainly, the book was directed at the avant guard left of the time, when there was a lot of support for anarchy as a superior option to the rule-by-power that we had then, and still have today. To me, it’s sad that the left now tends to support ever increasing regulation and larger government instead… I doubt many people realize that transition has been as dramatic as the one from con to neo-con. The general thrust of Nozick’s book was an appeal to liberal anarchists, to make the argument that the “GLO’s” as the above post would call them are going to fight and/or make treaties until some sort of minimal government is established… Nozick didn’t believe real anarchy could last long.

          1. Otter

            So Nozick’s definition of “wealth being distributed fairly” is, “Sure, my grandfather stole it from your grandfather, but I inherited it legally. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! Get back to work.”

          2. Greg Miller

            “So Nozick’s definition of “wealth being distributed fairly” is, ‘Sure, my grandfather stole it from your grandfather, but I inherited it legally. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! Get back to work.'”

            No, this doesn’t characterize Nozick fairly. If the past injustice could be traced back accurately, Nozick would favor redistributing it accurately and fairly to the proper owners. But he argues that when the detailed transactional history is lost to history, it isn’t possible to do so fairly. So in the case of simply handing over all the resources back to Native Americans, he would argue it’s not tactically possible to do this in a fair manner. For example, what if I’m descended from two lines… one who wasn’t even in America when the Indian’s land was unfairly taken? Taking property from immigrants (or their descendants) who had nothing to do with that injustice is just as unfair as the original injustice. Nozick would argue it’s not possible to repatriate that that property without creating new injustices, when the information needed to do so is missing or hopelessly complex. If you think otherwise, I’d suggest that you ensure you have solved the problems raised in his book.

  5. Brasilianista

    Sorry. I quit reading after CNC’s answer to question 2, including this clanger:

    “…the crisis was actually the result of the government forcing banks to make risky loans.”

    Yves, you can’t be serious, giving blog-space to this.

    1. Pete

      Ironically, I think that’s sortof true. Deregulation in the 1990s and easy money flowing from Japan and later the FED didn’t *force* the banks, but put the banks in an environment where risky loans would be given huge short-term rewards which, if not taken, would be punished by the ignorant and euphoric stockholders.

      The utopia proposed by libertarians is ridiculously easy to shoot down, but some of their criticisms of our system (like those of marxists) need to be answered.

      1. joebhed

        Nah, not even close to sort-of.
        His(?) claim is related to the CRA requirement for commercial banks to lend in poor neighborhoods.
        Some of the sub-prime lending happened there, of course.
        But several investigations have found that these CRA-inspired, low-income, sub-prime loans performed just as well as the others, on average.
        Better in some cases.
        There is no truth at all to, and no proof of, this statement:
        “…the crisis was actually the result of the government forcing banks to make risky loans.”
        That is libertarian fantasy.
        But in fairness to their group of believers, a Lew Rockwell interview would leave us better informed.

        1. Pete

          hmm. I didnt see the Lew Rockwell interview but I stand by what I said –

          the US government did deregulate the financial industry.

          this did allow financial innovation such as MBS CDS etc.

          interest rates were lowered (FED).

          Asset managers naturally wanted higher yielding investments.

          they bought MBS which were “safe”.

          bank shareholders did reward them for looking the other way while the housing market was “expanded”. i.e., credit made availible to more people to get more mortgage money into the bank system where a fraction of this mindboggling amount of new money became bank profit.

          This was possible as a direct result of the proliferation of MBS.

          you know the ending. can’t just dismiss the role of gov. and FED action (lack of enforcement/regulation, low int rate)

        2. Pete

          oh yeah and i forgot the best part. in the end, gov’t bails out the banks (you and I will pay for this), fed buys the underwater mbs at full sticker price from its owners (you and I will pay for this too).

          HELLO? Systematic Injustice, anyone?

        3. JTFaraday

          I think the way the CRA figures in this story is as an excuse for generating all kinds of crap loans, a combination of childish hissy fit that the government dared to tell them not to discriminate, along with the knowledge that they could feed the blame game to their ready-made right wing audience, and they would promulgate it far and wide.

          Ditto for the implicit federal backing of Fanny/Freddy, a bizarro public-private institution apparently readily available for the stuffing by other loan originators. Actually, I think some Republican legislators pointed this out as a site of moral hazard at one point–prior to the crisis.

          I think that do-good people in government need to be more aware of the way that their legislative efforts can be ideologically exploited by people who are nothing but the walking definition of bad faith.

          How CRA loans (and loans actually originated by F&F) actually performed is a distant second to its availability as an excuse and the role of that excuse in the formation of public opinion.

          Thus far, out-shouting the cynical criminal cabal and its right wing ideologues after the fact by drawing on “the facts” hasn’t really worked.

      2. steelhead23

        All good lies have a ring of truth to them. Please read Econned so you might better understand the true motives involved in the credit bubble. It wasn’t “trying to please the government by lending to folks who could not pay”, but it does make nice cover.

    2. TGS

      I thought that “the government forced the banks to lend to poor people” garbage had been put out to pasture? Unfortunately, the Peter Wallison narrative of dissent keeps gaining ground, as I hear about it from my Fox News watching Rush Limbaugh listening friends, along with this Code Name Cain.

      CNC appears to suffer a disconnect between reality, data, and ideology on this issue. Would government officials and low income minorities be sent to the Arctic or Sahara whereas the bankers would get another free pass? Didn’t we just get done with “low cost free market insurance” on mortgage backed securities and CDOs that made the crisis even bigger than the actual mortgage losses?

      What about when you blame the wrong party? How would one defend oneself? Any appeals process?

      (The laser idea is cool. Like Dr. Evil’s mutated sea bass with frickin’ lasers strapped to their back).

      1. Pete

        you need some new friends :-) (just kidding, i know the feeling)

        anyhow, it hasnt been put to bed.
        plz read my comment above.

    3. wunsacon

      I know at least one libertarian personally who’s read *extensively* on the financial crisis and believes “the government forced banks to make bad loans” and “the CRA had a lot to do with it”. This is no imaginary point of view.

    4. John

      Thank you Yves, for documenting the insanity of Libertarianism in this blog. A lot of people believe this garbage.
      I tell Libertarians to go to Somalia, as it is an almost perfectly realized Libertarian society. Or Mafia dominated parts of Sicily.
      Militias and gangs can fill in for the insurance companies to maintain order.
      Oh, and I think we ought to end the drug war and the terror war and all our other phony wars, too.

      1. Lew Glendenning

        I live in this country too. I am a citizen.

        Sorry you don’t like my political believes, but a condition of civilization is that you put up with them.

        That is also a condition imposed by our Constitution, in case you haven’t read it recently. First Amendment, in fact.

        We are willing to engage in serious intellectual debate. So far as I can see, Libertarians are winning.

        Nobody else is even trying to deal with ‘money buys power’ and the dynamic that represents.

      2. Jesse

        I tell Libertarians to go to Somalia, as it is an almost perfectly realized Libertarian society.

        Religious courts and continuous warfare are not things libertarians believe in.

    5. rotter

      I thinks its trerribly important that people know just exactly what libertarianism really means “under its fair cloak”. Many people think of libertarians as harmless idealists. The “anti-war libertarian” meme is its most common public mask. Their true intent is far from harmless

    1. RanDomino

      “Poe’s law, named after its author Nathan Poe, is an Internet adage reflecting the fact that without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between sincere extremism and an exaggerated parody of extremism.”

  6. weinerdog43

    Ha ha. As soon as I saw our Libertarian expert cite DiLorenzo, I inwardly groaned. Kudos to our interviewer for following through with the logical implications. “You can’t fix stupid.”

  7. SMH


    what a bunch of crap. So some kid fresh out of his PhD has a wet dream about a society where “brilliant” people get their fair share and bad evil government are kept in check. And we are supposed to listen or gasp “take it seriously”? I read for amusement value to be honest. Libertarians just strike me as naive idiots these days. Also this is not an interview, this is one kid intellectually masturbating pretending it is an interview. Stop imagining the world from the math dept. Get out, get a job, grow up in the messy world. Stop grasping at ‘society constructs’ you are obviously missing basic experience.

    Please do not impose 5 more chapters of ‘baby poo’ on NC.

    1. ambrit

      Dear SMH;
      If the man has just successfully navigated the danger infested jungle of a modern university graduate program, he’s experienced more than enough ‘basic’ experience.
      Plus, consider that a large chunk of the neo-liberal elite actually believe what he’s making fun of. Talk about ‘social constructs!’

    2. Rex

      Oh, yea of narrow imagination.

      This was just the wading pool. I’m guessing you didn’t take the link to Patri Friedman’s essay over at the Clouseau-sidekick Institute. Dive into that for a gawd-honest chill.

  8. Brian

    Brilliant piece!

    Totally captures the ludicrous implications of ‘libertarianism’. Admittedly, when I was a teenager I read the likes of Ayn Rand, von Mises and Hayek with adoration and loved their philosophies. But the fact is, people just don’t work that way.

    The way it would pan out in reality is pretty much exactly like it comes across in this interview. Terrifying!

  9. PQS

    The interviewer has far, far more patience than I to ask such probing questions and sit through all the nonsense. Shipping people off to the “Amazon” or “the polar regions.” What silliness.

    My retort to the Libs is always: “You first!” If it’s so great, do it yourself and we’ll all get to see how it turns out.

    My question for the Libs is, Where are the Libertarian women? (Dead ones don’t count.) Why is it always middle-aged or juvenile male cranks who seems to have a massive chip on their shoulders about being around other people?

    1. wunsacon

      While rattling off a list of the “crazy” things this country did at the turn of last century, my closest libertarian friend included “giving voting rights to women”. Maybe there’s your answer??

      Now, I don’t see how that utterance is at all consistent with the “freedom” that “liber”tarians claim to want to promote. But, it seems to me that the devout “libertarians” are interested in “property rights” and practically nothing else. That’s why I prefer referring to them as “propertarians”.

    2. JTFaraday

      “My question for the Libs is, Where are the Libertarian women? (Dead ones don’t count.)”

      Out buying their cast iron chastity belts and their AK-47s.

    3. TK 421

      Well, no one currently lives in the Amazon basin or the Sahara desert or the Arctic, right? So why not use it as a Snake Pliskin-style superprison?

  10. Capo Regime

    Well it certaiinly was a nutty piece. However, despite more polish the ideas of globalist democracy pushers, neoconservatives (we shall make Iraq Ohio East) and any other ideological group imagining a society to their liking are equally insane. Once people get to imagining utopias here comes trouble. Often I tune people out when they start with “If only THEY would do this then this would happen” thats how it starts…. All of this nonsense is premised on a bit of hubris and of course a belief in some teleological order to human life and history–all of which are a wank.

  11. Capo Regime

    For balance and amusement he should interview the likes of Van Jones and various redistributionists, corporate apologists and their ilk from either political party. Any number of professors of social work could also be entertaining. Lets not just pick on the clearly nutty guy lets get the whole spectrum of crazy–including smooth yale an harvard educated proponents of self serving ideological tripe and fantasy

  12. indio007

    I don’t think this piece is a very good characterization of being a libertarian.
    Even if it it was accurate and these ridiculous responses to legitimate concerns were implemented. The wrongdoing could never match the breadth and scale of wrong doing done by organized governments. Even if we had a lawless society of dog eat dog there would be less injustice than those cause by organized war.

    I guess it doesn’t count if the society that is destroyed by gov’t is someone else’s right?

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    I think the time has come for someone to do a little research about freedom. We have the Stanford Prison Experiment so we know how people behave in organized society. Where is the objective evidence of how people behave in the absence of any mechanism of “rule” enforcement? Do things go crazy is is that have we all been conditioned that “anarchy bad”.

      1. RanDomino

        Somalia’s improved since the fall of its government in nearly every measurable way. The most violent and destructive events there since then have almost all been attempts to RESTORE the government. It’s a different kind of society and the rest of the world needs to butt out and stop trying to impose Western-style government on a population that doesn’t want or need it.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        Somalia is not a stateless society. In fact, it’s a society that has been heavily influenced by outside states, mostly the U.S.

        Right now there are over 10,000 soldiers from other countries waging war on what would be the state in Somalia if the U.S. and the West were to leave it alone. Of course the U.S. has waged a semi-secret war there for years.

        One of the effects of the war against Somalia is the loss of it’s fishing commons. Outside (Westerners) have stolen the fish from their fishing grounds and are dumping waste and not paying royalties and taxes like they do in other sovereign states. This would be one benefit that a stronger Islamic government would presumably provide.

        Somalia is not an example of home-grown libertarian movement–it’s yet another colonial conquest of the United States that is intentionally kept in a state of war and discord.

    1. Piano Racer

      HEAR HEAR!

      indio007, very well put. This whole “interview” is nothing but a straw man, and it cannot even be refuted because the interviewee is a pseudonym.

      It makes me so sad that even smart folks like Yves aren’t interested in having a real conversation about opposing viewpoints. As someone who caucused for Barack Obama in 2008, and who will be caucusing and voting for Ron Paul in 2012, this has been a huge transformation for me. So much of what we have currently has zero credibility that alternatives MUST be considered. There are many libertarian luminaries that could provide a non-satirical overview of the philosophy. is a good site for libertarian viewpoints. I think that readers of this site might not find them as “out there” as this “interview”.

      Libertarianism, like all things, is good in moderation. They have lots of good ideas. They are not trying to create a “utopia”, because most libertarians recognize that societies are made up of human beings, who can be irrational. They are merely trying to find a better system than what we have now – a free-market system that has existed at many times and in many places in this world over the course of history.

      1. j m kochevar

        if you’re gonna go the libertarian route in 2012, monetary reformer bill still is seeking the Libertarian’s presidential nomination. mr. still is dismissive of ron paul’s idea of returning to the gold standard.

        i’m hardly a libertarian, but libertarians do in a way touch upon the important idea of individual autonomy. of course, many libertarians carry out the need for autonomy into a ‘crackpot realist’ systems of thought. i really don’t think NC needs 5 more parts of this interview…a Q & A with a more nuanced libertarian like bill still might be useful to us all.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Apparently you missed the red quotes, which are from Hoppe’s book, and the fact that he is cited approvingly by libertarians (see the Cato link).

      1. indio007

        Well let me unequivocally state that using an insurance company (which are notorious for screwing people on actually paying claims) as the protector of property is an idiotic idea.

        God forbid your policy lapses.

        I would say CNC’s ideas are a form of commercial feudalism if not straight up gansterism.

  13. fuzed

    I find this interesting, in that CNC is will be forced into the corner of examining his ideals and the consequences, whether intentional or no. I hope to observer some interesting evolution during the subsequent parts.

    Also, great fodder for conversations with other libertarians, so I can be one step ahead of the curve and force them (in a rights respecting way ;) ) into apoplexy faster.

  14. Norman

    Outstanding, especially here on a Tuesday morning. Thanks Yves, you’ve set the stage for a beautiful top of the day. Hope there is 6 parts to this, for we need more humor, than ever before. How does it go, “laugh & the world laughs with you”, or something like that!

  15. rotter

    This is Joke right? Its Phillips pal and this is a put on, right? LOL !!!! THIS is what they sound like in private..I Knew it!!! LOL

  16. Th3T1ck

    Just to be clear, what is described by your simulated interview isn’t actually libertarianism. It’s anarchy (absence of law). Most libertarians expect a small government that does maintain the right of force in pursuit of justice. The laws it must uphold are dramatically limited to protection of personal rights and property.

    1. RanDomino

      If the word “Libertarian” is to have any meaning, it has to mean no government whatsoever, or else there is no qualitative difference. Sadly, I’ve spoken to many Libertarians who believe the very things stated in this ‘interview’.

    2. Maju

      Anarchy as described by anarchists is collective democratic self-rule without property nor state (i.e. at grassroots level). Not at all what you say.

      Mind you that anarchists also call themselves libertarians since immemorial time, however they are communist libertarians and what has usurped that honorable name in the USA is ultra-capitalist that here in Europe we used to (and still do) call “liberalism”.

      1. Goin' South

        Or “propertarian,” since they respect not human freedom but Capitalist property rights.

        Murray Bookchin called them that going back to the 70s.

  17. Jefe

    I remember wrestling with this as a junior at a land-grant state school in the west in the early 80’s. We had a commie-bent poli-sci department and a bunch of U Chicago austrians across campus in the econ department. Education inflation: it now takes 10 plus years to reach the summit at “MT Harvard” to wrestle with the same timeless issues. Looking around at the pedigree of leadership in America… lots of Harvard, Yale, Priceton, Brown, etc ad nauseum grads. In a vaccuum of dispassionate observation, these folks in leadership might be comfortable with their power, posessions, wealth, and influence, but the state of affairs that they have created does not, with my measuring stick, come anywhere close to realizing the potential of mankind in the 21st century. 180 degrees opposite, in fact… Well Done! Flip your tassle in June 2012, and trundle off to inhabit a comfy corner office in NYC or inside the beltway. I wish this article had appeared April 1… I might have been able to smile

  18. Artour

    “… in a market economy, shortages are impossible. Anyone can get anything by paying the market price.”

    Insurance markets cannot function adequately due to asymmetric information. A good theoretical example is Rothschild and Stiglitz’s essay on competitive insutrance markets (1976), where they show that it is quite likely, that a competitive equilibrium may not even exist, and when equilibria do exist, they have strange properties: “Sales offers do not specify a price at which customers can buy all the insurance they want, but instead consist of both a price and a particular amount of insurance that the individual can buy at that price. Furthermore, if individuals were willing or able to reveal their information, everybody could be made better off. By their very being, high-risk individuals cause an externality: the low-risk individuals are worse off than they would be in the absence of the high-risk individuals. However, the high-risk individuals are no better off than they would be in the absence of the low-risk individuals.”

  19. RugbyD

    Holding up an anarcho-capitalist as the torch-bearer for libertarians is a bit disingenuous, no? It’s like equating all people with socialist tendencies to Stalin.

  20. Jean

    Libertarianism is a diabolical construct. It insists on honoring and privileging the creator, but holds firmly to a twisted conviction of who is the creator and who is the created.

  21. Paul Tioxon

    The whole re-branding of anarchism as libertarianism, with no coercive state, non coercive due to a lack of taxation system and the monopoly on violence is as silly as the interview reveals. To attribute any intellectual merit to these political placards as a substantive or detailed description of a workable social order is just more nonsense. But it is enough nonsense for the uneducated except those with valuable technical skills or in noble professions needed to run global capitalist system who seem to buy into the great, successful atlas that does all of the heavy lifting for society’s less fortunate . Most of the population is just not needed anymore to make the whole system work, maybe about the top 20% of the income stratification, and they are rewarded with financial stability and all of the freedom from want that comes with it.

    The thinly veiled excuse for holding onto privilege and power wrapped in the term for freedom, liberty as an ‘-ism’ had to be adopted to provide a most abstract and ineffable bordering on divine revelation. The liberal doctrine of individualism as sacred, a natural right had to be redirected to silence the equality inherent in individuality, in order to justify the disparities that come with the successful wheeler dealer. Libertarianism is little more than another attempt to mine the popular vague and politically enshrined abstract concepts of freedom and liberty without democracy and society. The free floating libertarian man or woman comes to great loss at being bound by the ties that bind, unless of course they can be used as personal instruments.

    The state is not evil, the political parties are not evil, the collectivity is not evil in the face of the individual if one can only use these instruments for personal aggrandizement and for no other purpose. When the state as a collective, forces some behavior from an individual, that instance is to be dispensed with but all other profitable uses of the mechanism of state are permitted.

    What’s mine is mine and yours is negotiable.

    Libertarianism is the infantile arrested development of a deformed human being. It only manipulates others to get more for oneself in the most plebeian, vulgar and selfish manner that is the death of society and the container for society, the nation state. People with too much money trying to become aristocrats and in search of an ideology that will let them get away with it. They are as pathetic as the attempts to write themselves into legitimacy with their Libertarian Philosophy and Economics.

    1. RanDomino

      Libertarianism is not “anarchism”. Anarchism is against government AND capitalism. It has to be that way, because the only irreplaceable purpose of governments is to protect property titles. Without title, government is unnecessary; without government, title is unenforceable.

      1. weinerdog43

        Wrong. Libertarianism without rules is most certainly anarchy. Capitalism has nothing to do with it. As the adults have patiently explained for years, without an umpire, capitalism always fails. Google ‘the tragedy of the commons’ if this concept is hard to grasp.

          1. weinerdog43

            If you are characterizing your ‘response’ as a rebuttal, then my response is “You can’t fix stupid.”

    2. Maju

      What this guy says has nothing to do with Anarchism, Paul: Anarchism is the communist school that is against state at any stage – but notice please the key label “communism”: no property!, no money!, no wealth!, no social classes!

      Unlike this dystopia of capitalist libertarians or as we still call them in Europe: ultra-liberals (yes: they follow the traditional ideas of small-state all-market liberalism to the extreme), libertarian communism (or Anarchism) advocates for collective democratic organization, which would control all the economy putting it at the service of people (and not people at the service of “the economy”, that mythical giant, that pretext for robbery, as happens now). It is the extreme opposite in fact: Anarchism advocates no state because, Kropotkin said quite correctly, the State only exists to protect private property (and itself), so it must be abolished.

      Nothing to do with this Somalian nightmare of protection rackets under a corporate pretext… and anyhow, what’s the difference between Cain’s dystopia and real life? A state that acts as the main (but not anymore sole) protection racket? Trivial.

      1. Paul T

        Without disparagement of European intellectual traditions, I invoke the American Scholar and stand behind my rebranding claim. In America, these schools of thought are unstudied and frequently reduced to short hand quips or something less, mere filler in bizspeak propaganda creating guilt by association and general smear tactical usage.

        In Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece on the Koch bros, the family cottage industry of hating American democracy goes back their father, one of the founding members of the John Birch Society. The orginal commie pinko fag hating flag decal in their station wagon window patriot. The sons reared from knee high with bent out of shape hatred for the entire mechanism of the modern nation state were influenced by anarchists but found their calling in the Libertarian Party of the late 1970 early 1980 along with the IRS defying sovereign citizen movement. Here is an excerpt.

        “Members of the John Birch Society developed an interest in a school of Austrian economists who promoted free-market ideals. Charles and David Koch were particularly influenced by the work of Friedrich von Hayek, the author of “The Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that centralized government planning led, inexorably, to totalitarianism. Hayek’s belief in unfettered capitalism has proved inspirational to many conservatives, and to anti-Soviet dissidents; lately, Tea Party supporters have championed his work. In June, the talk-radio host Glenn Beck, who has supported the Tea Party rebellion, promoted “The Road to Serfdom” on his show; the paperback soon became a No. 1 best-seller on Amazon. (Beck appears to be a fan of the Kochs; in the midst of a recent on-air parody of Al Gore, Beck said, without explanation, “I want to thank Charles Koch for this information.” Beck declined to elaborate on the relationship.)

        Charles and David also became devotees of a more radical thinker, Robert LeFevre, who favored the abolition of the state but didn’t like the label “anarchist”; he called himself an “autarchist.” LeFevre liked to say that “government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.” In 1956, he opened an institution called the Freedom School, in Colorado Springs. Brian Doherty, of Reason, told me that “LeFevre was an anarchist figure who won Charles’s heart,” and that the school was “a tiny world of people who thought the New Deal was a horrible mistake.” According to diZerega, Charles supported the school financially, and even gave him money to take classes there. “

    3. Philip Pilkington

      “Libertarianism is the infantile arrested development of a deformed human being.”

      What is it they say on the internetz these days? ROFLcopter? Well… ROFLcopter!

  22. tz

    Hoppe is an Anarchocapitalist and not very smart.

    “Libertarian” can mean anything from Anarchists (isn’t the Occupy movement filled with them? Oh, you claim they aren’t part of that), all the way up to and past people like me which believe in Natural Law, and a government limited to that but with plenary powers in its area of competence and authority. There are “Regime Libertarians” as well that see nothing wrong with the security state and the war on drugs.

    If you interview a registered democrat that happens to be a Communist, it would be more proper to say “communist” instead of “democrat”, but in imitation of the MSM which you otherwise detest, you use the broadest term, “libertarian” instead of “anarchist” or “anarcho-capitalist”.

    If I called Yves here a “Socalist” or “Communist”, then interviewed someone who would use violence and use Government to run the economy soviet style she would probably feel insulted. Why should I feel any less insulted.

    And why complain about the slander and distortions of the MSM when you do the identical thing?

    Why are you caricaturing a wide field by finding the most rotten nuts of the bunch and interviewing them as if they speak for everyone?

    Finding a Disciple of Hoppe in a group of libertarians is like finding an anarchist or someone else detestable at an Occupy gathering. You can if you look hard enough.

    I’ve been supporting and defending the Occupy movement because as someone who believes in the rule of law I see them fighting the corruption. That is the root of the evil.

    I do not understand the need of the left to slander and insult. I try to avoid doing so except to illustrate what is being done to divide.

    Do you want Occupy to succeed?
    Do you want the money out of politics?
    Do you want to end the corruption and crony-corporatism?

    If so then we should form an alliance to defeat our common enemy – small-l libertarians like me detest the corruption and we only differ in how redeemable big government is – you think you can find saints and angels to fill congress and the bureaucracies, I think one year and they will begin to return to the status quo, and in a decade will be no better. But that distracts from the fact that we both desire to throw off the corruption.

    We would have a far better chance if we cooperate. And we ought to cooperate because of the specific goals regarding the corruption and trashing of the rule of law we agree 100%.

    Instead you seem as if you would prefer the oligarchs win if it means allying with people who believe in freedom and limited government. The same way that many on my side find ways to insult OWS as just being a wing of SEIU, unions, and Soros. The difference is I go to great effort to try to convince my side that the same media that tars the Tea Party with slander ought not be trusted to label OWS and give examples.

    Instead of encouraging an alliance against our common enemies, you post provocative and insulting slurs like this and imply by the careful choice and juxtaposition of labels I believe what this rather confused but passionate person is spouting. I believe if you wanted you could probably interview Hoppe directly and he would make the lines far more clear than you would want, but he would narrow the definition because he is more precise.

    I’ve had many long and carefully reasoned arguments leaving people like your interviewee hopping mad because they could not answer – but I was asking the right questions, hitting the critical issues and following through, not trying to bait a straw man to create a cartoon version.

    Shame on you for being just like the main stream media and imitating the worst evils and sins they commit against #OWS.

    1. FJ_2

      Not sure about the ‘shame’ part. Hmmm.

      But +1 on the rest.

      ‘It has to be Us vs Them!’ cannot be a rallying cry!

    2. wunsacon

      Elements of your comment resonate with me. At the same time, my closest devout, highly educated “libertarian” friend sounds like he has much in common with “CNC” interviewed here. And you wouldn’t know how “radical” his views are until you talk with him at length and then some weird comments slip out. So, I’m not sure whether you’re correct that “CNC” is “non-representative” of the “libertarian” movement. (tz, maybe you’re not representative?)

    3. spooz

      Agreed. It has taken forever to get it through conservative/Republican spouse’s head that I am not an Obama supporting Democrat if I am not a Republican. I see just as much bias at Huffpo as I do at Drudge. I am repulsed by the corrupted two party system and the propaganda it generates. What does that make me? An anarchist? Ron Paul OR Bernie Sanders would have my vote as a third party candidate. Either one would be a step in the direction of transparency. As long as TPTB keep us distracted by contrived enemies, we are mired in inaction. We have no political solutions as long as status quo rules.

      “I do not understand the need of the left to slander and insult. I try to avoid doing so except to illustrate what is being done to divide.”

  23. Hal b here

    Keen thread hacked sorry for the cross post.

    I know there were at least 2 post up here on this thread arguing that Keen ideas were not feasible do to Moral Hazard those post are no longer on the thread, but the responses to the post are still there. Has some one hacked the thread or is one of NC helpers a little on the dirty side?

  24. spooz

    jeez, can’t get past the first answer. Too many simpletons out there. I find myself wasting hours and hours arguing with the “well meaning conservatives” (almost wrote future fascist thugs, but decided to be nice, after all this isn’t ZH).

    Unfortunately, having dh DEFEND the myth of community reinvestment act as proximate cause resulted in me spending 30 minutes screaming (he has a very BIG voice, mine not so much, and I do get caught up in it)and his views unchanged.
    But he gets most of his news from Drudge and Fox, so what can I expect?

    I will try to read the rest later. Totally ruined my peaceful morning.

  25. spooz

    Oh, and I have taken to calling myself as a libertarian socialist, in an effort to diffuse the demonizing of labels. A new age requires new definitions.

  26. CS

    I thought Hoppe began with the principle of scarcity, not “free market abundance” or some such hogwash.

    No matter. I’m going bankrupt paying off my death squad.

    No place to hide.

  27. Wendell

    Seriously, I just sent this link on to William Gibson (@GreatDismal). He’s the only one who could do full justice to it.

  28. liberal

    Bottom line is that the two greatest weaknesses in libertarian thought are:
    (1) Most libertarians think it’s fine if private parties capture land rent (Henry George critique)
    (2) Most libertarians appear to think that the only coercion in human societies is state coercion.

    (Sorry, F. Beard, I somewhat agree with you on the monetary stuff, but the land rent issue dwarfs the bank/currency issue as a matter of size, and furthermore as a matter of fundamental morality—you can get by w/o money, but you cannot get by w/o land.)

    1. F. Beard

      and furthermore as a matter of fundamental morality—you can get by w/o money, but you cannot get by w/o land.) liberal

      Interestingly, the Old Testament forbids the permanent sale of land in Israel. Land had to be returned to the original owners (or their descendants) every 50 years:

      ‘On this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his own property. If you make a sale, moreover, to your friend or buy from your friend’s hand, you shall not wrong one another. Corresponding to the number of years after the jubilee, you shall buy from your friend; he is to sell to you according to the number of years of crops. In proportion to the extent of the years you shall increase its price, and in proportion to the fewness of the years you shall diminish its price, for it is a number of crops he is selling to you. So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 25:13-17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

      Agriculture land could be leased but not permanently sold. City property was a different matter. It could be permanently sold, I recall.

  29. JTFaraday

    “CNC: Look, it’s not about putting people in prisons. It’s about people getting what they deserve. And in the libertarian society of the future, people will get what they deserve. Security GLOs can be counted upon to apprehend the offender, and bring him to justice”

    …Hey, you know, I think CNC is right. I could really get into this.

    So it’s a good thing Conservative Nut Case decided to use a pseudonym. I’m already working on a contract with an open air asylum in the outback. (No, I’m not going to actually let CNC run free with the natives, I’m just going to let him think he is. What do you think I am? A barbarian?).

    But we really could do worse than the British Empire with its policy of exporting its undesirables–people I decide are going to be poor, people I decide are criminals, people I decide are insane. Etc.

    This is what just what we need. More creative problem solving. And, I keep thinking I need a new career. One that gives me maximum freedom.

    So thanks, CNC. I can definitely get start up funds for this business. See you out on the range in the open season!

  30. Dan Duncan

    This is so shoddy.

    First off, Dittmer needs to call himself a “journalist”.

    Then, Dittmer needs to state that Code Name Mosler “invented” something like a mortgage swap. Since that’s already “taken”, just state that “Code Name Cain invented the Student Loan Swap.”

    It won’t matter that nobody on this earth can corroborate this claim. You are, after all, validating the world view of Naked Cap readers, so they won’t give a shit.

    All you need to remember is that the following: Embellishments and distortions Do NOT MATTER so long as you are confirming what your reader already believes.

    If for some reason, you do need “proof” on that Swap “Invention” claim, just rely on a resume-blurb written by Code Name Cain, himself. Trust me. All you have to remember is to validate. Once you do this, you’ve entered that magical world of “The Secret.”

    Don’t understand quantum physics? Phooyey! Yes you do. Just Will it. BAM! You now understand quantum physics.

    Don’t want to be a “mere blogger”. Want to be “more serious”…like a journalist? Again–No problem. Just Will it. BAM! You are now a journalist.

    Want to “invent” something in the financial world? Want to be the Thomas F*cking Edison of trading? BAM! Just “invent” the Student Loan Swap. And how do you do this? It’s easy! Just say you did.

    It’s all about the Law of Attraction and The Secret. It works. It really does. It’s magical!

  31. Yulek

    Idealized ideologies are so much fun, until someone actually implements them :D.
    Communism was such a nice idea (at least in it’s dumbed down version, that omitted a lot of what Marx/Engels really said). National socialism also sounded good, when it was proposed. Then some guys tried it, and historians still argue who was a bigger butcher – Stalin or Hitler (but it seems that Hitler can’t even hold a candle to Stalin).

    Ideologies don’t take into calculation human nature, psychopathy, characteropathies and other mental disorders, just ideal ideas. It would be a living hell, if anyone would even try to implement that cretinism.

    I won’t even try to hypothesize in how many ways that ideology would go awry and maim and kill ordinary folks.

  32. Jeff

    What a waste of electrons.
    The short version of Libertarianism is thus:

    “I have a lot more than I used to have and am afraid of losing it to taxes or through theft, so I will construct
    an elaborate mental universe with its own moral laws to protect what I have until my body decays and dies.”

    Basically libertarians are anally retentive infants with
    separation anxiety from Mother Manna. What will destroy
    its chances to pollute our society is that most Libertarians are too cheap to separate them self from their money and thus will not donate to the causus-belly.

    The Koch Brothers are not really Libertarians. They know that without a pliable mass of sucker taxpayers to fund
    the USDA, energy and defense establishments, their portfolio is worth squat.

  33. Susan the other

    Also just a thought: Ever notice how many words in the dictionary mean something very specific AND their exact opposite? Verbal communication is not an exact skill; nor is math. Only our innate sense of fairness is an exact skill and it is so mind boggling to us all we cannot express it clearly. Strange world.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Somalia is a fascist paradise, not a libertarian paradise. Somalia has no real central government because the U.S. attacks and kills the people who want to form a government there. The U.S. does this because the U.S. is fascist country and is serving the interests of its ruling oligarchs. In fact, the U.S. is trying to impose its own puppet government.

      As we saw in the 90s the Somalians evidently would not choose anarchism/libertarianism and instead seem to prefer an Islamic style government.

  34. Tim

    This is a very interesting article. So Anarchic Libertarians believe that 100% of all personal motivation is positive and a feature of their functioning society.

    However, the essence of the justice system and capitalism is fairness and anyone who has been through a jury selection process understands clearly that those without personal motivations (i.e. bias) are the only ones competent to make objective decisions about fairness between parties and fault or innocence of an individual.

    Really? insurance companies as the justice system and police department? Personal motivation in that circumstance is a bug not a feature.

  35. Cal

    It’s old: Love the way they try to defend the Bush administraition:

    “today we’re hearing the know-nothings blame the subprime crisis on the Community Reinvestment Act — a 30-year-old law that was actually weakened by the Bush administration just as the worst lending wave began… [The CRA], passed in 1977, requires banks to lend in the low-income neighborhoods where they take deposits. Just the idea that a lending crisis created from 2004 to 2007 was caused by a 1977 law is silly. But it’s even more ridiculous when you consider that most subprime loans were made by firms that aren’t subject to the CRA. 50% of sub prime loans were made by mortgage service companies not subject comprehensive federal supervision and another 30% were made by affiliates of banks or thrifts which are not subject to routine supervision or examinations.”

  36. craazyman

    How can this series have six parts?

    six = 2 X 3, where 2 & 3 is prime numbers.

    Can it have two parts multiplied by 3 to get six? Or maybe 3 long parts mulitplied by 2?

    Not sure Mr. Cain can carry six complete parts on his own, but maybe he’ll have some help. Or maybe he’ll get killed off by part 5 after a financial dispute with several members of his security team.

  37. Valissa

    My favorite libertarian is/was Robert Heinlein. Libertarianism and science fiction have many similarities. Not sure why people get so riled up about an ideology that will never happen in the real world. But these Libertarian punching threads are always very popular.

    A humor antidote is obviously needed:

    It’s a spiritual thing

    Two parties or 3?

    The “L” word


    1. Cal

      Heinlein was brilliant.

      Another mediocre science fiction writer decided that selling books wasn’t enough.

      He decided to create a religion out of whole cloth. L.Ron Hubbard.

      He was a total libertarian, surrounded himself with suckers that have pumped billions into his tax exempt ‘church’.

  38. Brian

    After reading a few salient points I wonder how the interviewer dealt with the drooling, flatulence and twitching as the subjects mind shut itself off?

  39. Jill

    This quote is so interesting: “…It’s about people getting what they deserve. And in the libertarian society of the future, people will get what they deserve…”

    Libertarianism is life conceived without children. What does it mean to say a child “gets what they deserve”? When the baby is starved, the young child goes hungry or without shelter, in what sense did the child bring this fate upon her or himself? In this way Libertarianism and Christian fundamentalists have everything in common except the fundamentalist thinks these capricious cruelties are from god and Libertarians think they result from some innate superior intelligence.

    There is no room in Libertarianism for the recognition that every human life begins in vulnerability. If one is alive, others helped that survival. This is reality. All thought systems must be grounded in reality or they will come out with theories that cannot work.

      1. noseyneighbor

        From what I’ve experienced, libertarian arguments rest on the benevolence of the “coercion-free” society while fully expecting that society will police itself justly via some sort of an established rule of–dare I say it–law. “Agents of arbitration” was one particularly amusing phrase I heard. Who knows what these agents will do when another nation-state knocks on the door…oh, that’s right, everyone will have guns and insurance contracts…But, I digress…

        It seems to me that a libertarian society would get exactly what it deserves; namely a central authority wherein society is able to debate the rules of law. The only question left is what to call it…

    1. Blunt

      “Libertarianism is life conceived without children.”

      Brava! Exactly! To include the fact that David and Charles Koch, Murray Rothbart and every other human being was, is or will be a child. In some instances and circumstances a child even long after they are adults. Certainly in regard to vulnerability that requires some sort of social cohesion and empathy to see us through.

      Love to quote Molly Ivins about Dubya being “born on third and thinking he’d hit a triple.” The makers of philosophies and models of human being seldom include themselves within those models.

      The Kochs and the gentle person being interviewed appear to have come to the belief that they will Always have the wherewithal that they have now and that the “bloody in tooth and claw” social lives they imagine are positive will always avoid them with blood, tooth and claw.

      Hence, you get these moronic notions that invariably ignore the basic fact that humans are social animals and will remain so regardless some libertarian insanity. Yet, when pressed to diagram such a society or un-society they invariably invent gods in machines who lift the thinkers themselves out of the ruggedly individual hellholes of their own wet-dreams and into the empyrean fantasies that their current status affords them.

      It’s simply sick.

  40. wafranklin

    This guy, the right wing nutbag may have a phd, but he is simply a damned fool, an idiot and a psychopath. Why would any of the very bright folks in this list, or Yves, give this creep any time?

    1. Rex

      I see no relationship between your comments and the author or what he wrote. I find it hard to guess what you thought you read, that stimulated such a reaction.

  41. Schofield

    Good interview which challenges the childish Libertarian assumption that abolishing government abolishes coercion.

  42. Bhikshuni Lozang Trinlae

    Sorry I don’t know how to email this link to Yves and the blog, but thought readers here might find it interesting:

    It references a report made on the lecture by Larry Lang, chair professor of Finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong by the Epoch Times.

  43. Jim

    One of the strongest affinities betseen libertarianism and the left is that both ideologies conceal their normative choice as to the best political order (the market or the state) behind supposedly objective phenomenon.

    For many libertarians their choice of a market order cannot be logically grounded and is therfore hidden behind a supposedly “natural” evolution of the market combined with the doctrine of the “invisible hand.”

    For many prominent MMT theorists their choice of the state cannot be logically grounded and is hidden behind a supposedly ojective description of modern monetary machinery(i.e. the strategic causality of fiat money).

    A second affinity between libertarians and the left is that both ideologies tend to reduce politics to economics.

    Libertarianism reduces the social dimension to an economic model founded on individualism which legitimates itself with the conviction that because economic agents supposedly behave in a relatively rational way and generally pursue their best preference in matters of producing, investing and consuming there is no reason to think that it works differently in other social activities.

    For many MMT theorists, our contemporary social crisis is reduced to us understanding how the state can utilize its fiat tools to economically advance public purpose.

    Within both of these perspectives we are free to enjoy a life whose meaning becomes more and more elusive

    1. JTFaraday

      I’m pretty sure yesterday we established that post-neocla is on left the way Stalin is on the left.

      1. Valissa

        How is what you are saying related to Jim’s comment? I though his analysis was insightful, and has not much to do with “neocla” IMO. Though as an ex-liberal (currently a political unbeliever/non-ideologue) I can see why some might be offended by the comparison.

        “yesterday we established”… *SNORT* really, JT I didn’t think such norming & conforming rhetoric was your style.

        1. Valissa

          On the issue of political ideology and identity politics in the world today, I came across a post on geopolitics today that offers an interesting viewpoint. Some relevant excerpts:

          Geospatial Politics – A Philosophical Defense

          Of course, economic globalization, with its diffusion of financial power into the hands of multinational and non-state actors, is another factor at work here, as is the resulting rise of identity politics to new levels of prominence. In the latter case, human beings are starting to define themselves in new ways. That a national identity would ipso facto infer a political identity that no longer holds true, at least in the West. Yes, one can be an Italian, with all the cultural trappings that infers, but that identity does not necessarily have to have a political component to it. One can be a cultural Italian but also “boutique” his or her politics in far-flung ways. In short, people are accumulating two, three, or four identities now and then targeting what they revolve around. What this means in practical terms is that they respond to narratives now, not necessarily geopolitical “facts on the ground.” They can (and do) create virtual identities and communities around values and causes that are decoupled from “the real.” Political myths, totems and obsessions can therefore abound and psychology, rather than geospatial truth, is often in the driver’s seat now. A Malaysian, in short, might care more about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than he or she might about local political realities. …

          … This literally unreal world provides its adherents with a purity of purpose the smeared and bleared real world can never provide. And curiously enough, in going virtually global you get to narrow your world vision rather than expand it. You get to cut off language and logic from reality; you get to create architecturally elegant worlds based on shaky foundations. In short, you get to feel your politics instead of necessarily thinking them. This tendency, I would argue, is one of the great dangers of modern transnational politics. It encourages a politics of attitude, of gesture, and of feeling that you are on the right side of history. It is a satisfying pose, of course, but it is ultimately (and literally) theatrical.

          1. Foppe

            if the topic interests you, there is no better book to go for than David Harvey’s Ccsmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom
            To quote a bit from the blurb:

            Liberty and freedom are frequently invoked to justify political action. Presidents as diverse as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush have built their policies on some version of these noble values. Yet in practice, idealist agendas often turn sour as they confront specific circumstances on the ground. Demonstrated by incidents at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, the pursuit of liberty and freedom can lead to violence and repression, undermining our trust in universal theories of liberalism, neoliberalism, and cosmopolitanism.

            Combining his passions for politics and geography, David Harvey charts a cosmopolitan order more appropriate to an emancipatory form of global governance. Political agendas tend to fail, he argues, because they ignore the complexities of geography. Incorporating geographical knowledge into the formation of social and political policy is therefore a necessary condition for genuine democracy.

            Harvey begins with an insightful critique of the political uses of freedom and liberty, especially during the George W. Bush administration. Then, through an ontological investigation into geography’s foundational concepts—space, place, and environment—he radically reframes geographical knowledge as a basis for social theory and political action. As Harvey makes clear, the cosmopolitanism that emerges is rooted in human experience rather than illusory ideals and brings us closer to achieving the liberation we seek.

          2. JTFaraday

            A couple weeks ago I told Pilkington that I thought the concentrated economic power, administered by technocrats, encapsulated by his beloved MMT was essentially Stalinistic.

            (Not a charitable interpretation, I know, but given his history of red baiting–which I confess I have tried to beat out of him– I just can’t help myself).

            As of yesterday, he persisted in evading my suggestion by coining the term “neocla” in lieu of “neoclassical economics” and attributing Stalinism to IT. But according to my definition, his own post-neocla economics of the purely administered state hasn’t ceased being Stalinistic, and I am sticking to my guns.

            Hence, my comment today that MMT (or, Pilkie’s post-neocla economics) is “on the left” in the same way that Stalin was “on the left.”

          3. JTFaraday

            “How is what you are saying related to Jim’s comment?”

            We’re both saying the alleged MMT left is *way far* off to the right.

          4. Valissa

            @JTF, I get it now… but to me, that’s just another example of how limited and useless the left-right memeplex really is… which is why I’ve been moving away from using it. Centralized authority, central planning, totalitarianism, dictatorship, oligarchy, plutocracy, monarchy… in all of them I don’t think the left-right meme is a useful or meaningful descriptor.

          5. Otter

            As JTF says… “according to my definition”.

            The most popular way to resurrect a lost argument is to tweak some definitions (preferrably without the victim noticing) then to insist that the new conconclusion follows from the old definitions.

            Not to pick on JTF. He merely used the words.

  44. Psychoanalystus

    Wow! And let me guess, the CEO of the largest GLO of all is David Koch himself, right?…

    That’s why we need to round up all these wackos and ship them over to Gitmo.

  45. Jim


    I have spent a good portion of my life grasping for certainty and mastery. Those drives are still within me but I’m now of the opinion that if I can discipline myself to live with and tolerate some degree of theoretical insufficiency I’m going to be better off (happier and less burdened).

    Living in a condition of not knowing with certainty plunges me into a confrontation with and consideration of a life of limits and attempted acclimation to such limits.

    I guess am trying to get comfortable with such an ethic(and it is not easy since a part of me always wanted to rule the world–total ego and pride!)

    I see both libertarianism(the Market) and MMT like perspectives (the State), culturally and economically, as ideologies without limits, both of which have taken over the logic of our existence and are presently colluding to rule over us–destroying democracy in the process.

    These doctrines of certainty, I believe, are no solution and we have to now construct a new political order out of a condition they both would label as tepid– a condition of maybe.

    1. Valissa

      I think the condition of “maybe” is what is natural. The world around us is complex and chaotic… it is generally ambiguous, multidimensional and indeterminate… and yet we try to make sense of it and impose order upon it. Ideologies are comforting because they give the illusion of understanding the world and some idea of how to control it, using narratives and terminology definitions.

      In my own case… on the one hand I want to know everything and understand how the world works at many levels, on the other hand I know I will always be limited in how successful I am in my quest. As I have gotten older I have become skeptical of all ideologies… there is no unified field theory in any subject, IMO.

      Personally I am disinclined to make sweeping statements about the Market or the State as I see those as intellectual constructs which, in their oversimplification, do not really explain anything about the real world so have very little value to me. Reduction, abstraction, and reification are the key techniques of most ideologies I’ve come across… no wonder they don;t match up well with the real world.

  46. rotter

    And will you be asking him what will prevent the armed “big” GLO’s from attacking each other and destroying the weaker ones auntil one of the stronger ones has made itself into an effectively rights respecting state/dictatorship…in about, about 2 weeks after this “society” is created?

  47. Dan G

    Does he put the nazi symbol on top of the Prudential insurance cliff, or under the geiko lizard for comic releif?

  48. Mark K

    I consider myself leaning towards libertarianism. I’ve read Hoppe, Mises etc. But I could only read about a quarter of the way through this piece. Ugh!

  49. LRT

    Its a piece like more and more that appears on NC.

    Libertarianism is not a serious social and political movement. Nor for that matter are its ideas getting any mainstream political currency. It is in this respect like hankerings after Stalinism, or the neo-Nazi movement. It should not occupy any of our intellectual time, and to parody something which itself is on the verge of self parody the whole time is a waste of energy. In a similar way its a waste of time to write long parodies of people who want to implement Soviet style government and economy.

    There are some really serious issues about the role of government and its relation to a democratic society which, when you engage in this rather sophomoric level of reaction, you totally miss.

    The problems concern the relations between government and groups of citizens, whether these be unions, civil servant groups, bankers, corporate interest groups, whatever. The problem is that some of these have more power than others to capture a ‘big’ government. Its entirely natural, its done for gain.

    I will mention two instances, one being the capture of the regulatory process by the finance sector for its short term gain. This has happened both in Europe and the US. In Europe, and the US at a state and local level, you have a capture of government by the civil service unions. The agro-business lobby is another example both in Europe and the US.

    In the corporate cases you always get tariff barriers, anti-competitive regulations, in the case of the financial crises straightforward transfers of wealth. In the union cases you get, as in Europe, a ‘public service’ lobby which heavily markets ‘services’ which no-one in their right minds would buy if they had a choice, and again, transfers of money into salaries, benefits, overmanning and unfunded pension liabilities.

    What’s the answer, and how to think about it, and who if anyone has a handle on it?

    The one who has a handle on it is Mancur Olson, who understood and investigated the mechanism of transmission. There isn’t much needs to be added to his accounts. The way to think about it comes from him. Interest groups, whether bankers or other business sectors or individual groups such as unions, will always find it advantageous to impose costs on society greater than the benefits they receive, often 00s or 000s of times greater, as long as there are benefits. You see this in the demand to do incredibly expensive things to ‘save jobs’. Who cares what it costs, as long as the group benefits a bit?

    Given this, the prescription which one mostly seems to meet on NC is a non-starter. Its basically, borrow and spend by the government. It does not address the issue of how you stop the increasingly powerful government from being taken over by interest groups who follow this path, of costing the whole country a huge amount, to extract very small benefits.

    At the other side of the dilemma you have to address the question of what happens if you don’t have strong government? Then you have no counterparty to protect the less powerful against interest groups. So non-unionised labor gets exploited, you have the sort of local dictatorships of the rich and powerful that people talk about here quite a bit.

    This is the real public policy dilemma. How do you give government a regulatory role powerful enough to protect the people, without thereby making it a honey pot too desirable for interest groups to take over?

    Fuliminating about neo-liberalism, fellow travelling marxism, libertarianism, and screaming about the evils of austerity and Austrian economics, none of these knee jerk reactions helps with any considered thought into this central problem.

  50. LucyLulu

    ANDREW: So who will protect property owners?

    CNC: Insurance companies in a competitive marketplace.

    Very clever piece. Hilarious. Another winner, Dr. Andrew.

  51. Moneta

    Too many wrong assumptions… here are 2 major ones:

    1. That everyone wants freedom.
    2. That all rich people are hardworking and intelligent.

  52. Moneta

    Resources are distributed unevenly across the planet, yet, for some reason, a large percentage of people don’t seem to grasp this concept. We see a lot of this in the Western world with the me, myself and I attitude and the concept of the self made man… as if someone would be rich if they were alone on an island.

    Many seem to think they are part of the alpha race without realizing that maybe they were born in the right place at the right time and not because they are so special.

  53. reason

    I find it interesting that he assumes that you just know who is guilty and who isn’t. Truly amazing.

  54. reason

    I can tell you that one clear conclusion I would draw from this, is that in this “ideal” world, there would be wars between insurance companies.

  55. reason

    Yes, I agree its what is technically known as pseudo-intellectual crap. (For what its worth I don’t the heart of MMT is EITHER left or right – but its proponents are mostly on the left.)

  56. Moltke

    Nice dialogue.

    Code Name Cain’s brand of libertarianism is simply anarchism for rich white people. In other words, it is less a “system” than a self-projected fantasy of If Only The World Were All Just Like Us (Everything Would Be Fine). Of course, this fantasy is at the heart of all defunct political ideologies.

    Other varieties of libertarianism are possible besides the Rand-Friedman-Satan sort, including thsoe that recognize the existence of a social contract. U.S. Constitutionalists are such a variety, recognizing that there is such a thing as a “commonwealth” or a “common weal”. Virginia and Pennsylvania are two “states” that are not states but commonwealths — suggesting that our constitutional framework and traditions do admit a shared burden and shared benefit. As opposed to, say, the total lawlessness of self-controlled Protestants (above).

Comments are closed.