Showing posts from January, 2009

A Pilgrim’s Progress

Carl Oglesby's Ravens in the Storm is a very fine book. It is gracefully written, crafted by someone who loves words. It is narratively engaging, drawing the reader into Oglesby's personal and political experiences and depicting the development of a human person and the rise and decline of a movement in a way that never loses the reader's attention. It is reflective and self-critical, repeatedly underscoring Oglesby's awareness of his own limits and mistakes. And it is, in general, politically astute, offering insightful strategic, tactical, and normative assessments of political moves made by a wide variety of actors. Oglesby served as president of Students for a Democratic Society during SDS's 1965-66 presidential term. As a leader of SDS, he occupied a front-row seat during a momentous period in US and world history. In Ravens in the Storm , he chronicles his evolution from relatively uncritical supporter of the status quo —he worked for several years as a se

Anarchy and Poverty

What would be the impact of eliminating the state on poverty? What remedial processes, activities, or institutions designed to respond to the problem of poverty would be appropriate in a stateless society? One way to begin getting at this is to ask how readers of this blog assess the impact of various factors in contributing to the incidence of poverty. (I have no burden to force a definition of this term on anyone. If you post, though, it might help to clarify what you mean by poverty.) I can imagine a credible account of the dynamics underlying poverty incorporating some reference to each of the following factors: Natural disaster. Sincere, responsible choices marked by bad judgment. Irresponsible personal choices. Mental illness or serious personal pathology. Genuinely unpredictable individual market outcomes. Systemic consequences of market outcomes. Legal rules of various kinds which are clearly intended by those who institute them to funnel resources into the pockets of elites.

Were the Nazis Really Privatization Enthusiasts?

More from me on anarchy and law still to come. Meanwhile, check out Kevin Carson ’s observations re. the Nazis and privatization .


You know the drill: if there’s a new post by Kevin Carson at C4SS, I promote it here (this may even help the casual observer to conclude that I’m posting to my blog on a regular basis). This commentary focuses on the real beneficiaries of stimulus packages. Time spent with Carson’s work is never wasted. I need to work on some short projects for publication that are long overdue. But I haven’t forgotten about this blog’s faithful readers, and I hope to continue the conversation about law and anarchy here soon.

Carson on Bailouts

Once again, there's a chance to learn from and dialogue with Kevin Carson —as readers of this blog will know, something I think is always worth celebrating. This time, Carson reflects on “Bailouts, Double Standards, and Hypocrisy,” in another of the C4SS commentaries he now has the opportunity to produce on a regular basis. Please read and react.

The Non-Aggression Principle and the Pauline Principle

There is no one non-aggression principle . Rather, “non-aggression principle” names a family of norms precluding the initiation of force against others. One version, familiar to many readers, is the one found in the Libertarian Party’s membership pledge , which rejects “the initiation of force.” One deontic cousin of the NAP is the Pauline Principle, which occupies a central place in natural law theory. The Pauline Principle (I believe we owe the label to Alan Donagan in The Theory of Morality ) gets its name from St. Paul’s characterization as justly damnable those who maintain that it is morally acceptable to do evil that good may come. Rejecting the possibility of doing evil to bring about good is sometimes understood to mean declining to violate a range of prohibitions, not necessarily connected but understood as absolute. But the new classical natural law (NCNL) theorists, who have done the best and most extensive contemporary work on this principle, have argued for a more genera

Carson on Ecuador

Check out Kevin Carson’s pithy analysis of Ecuador’s debt repudiation at C4SS .

Enforcing Rights in a Stateless Society

In response to my comments about bargaining power, quasibill plausibly suggests that “If contract enforcement is left to moral sanction, bargaining power would seem to be a perfectly acceptable consideration,” even from the standpoint of libertarians committed to the non-aggression principle. To put the point more sharply, if “moral sanction” were all that was at issue, and such libertarians still objected to talk about bargaining power, it would be hard to escape the conclusion that their objection wasn’t really rooted in concerns about aggression. The conversation we’ve been having makes it a natural next step to consider the more general issue of the range of formal or quasi-formal options short of the use of force that might be available in a stateless society to safeguard a range of morally significant interests. (As I suggest in my recent post on rights , I think many of these interests ought to be talked about as rights, but I don’t think anything directly related to my current

Bargaining Power

Some recent conversation on Kevin Carson ’s “Free Market Anti-Capitalism” blog has focused on the notion of bargaining power, and the visceral reaction that talk about bargaining power seems to evoke among some libertarians. One commentator suggests that “[t]he inability to recognise bargaining power comes from a profound methodological individualism or atomism among many American style libertarians.” Some libertarians of various stripes may be atomists. And, if they are, rescuing them from that dubious metaphysical position may be a worthwhile endeavor. But I wonder whether “inability to recognize bargaining power” may also reflect another difficulty or family of difficulties. I suspect that the primary underlying objection on the part of the libertarians who are uncomfortable with talk about bargaining power may not be that bargainers’ different positions don’t give them unequal influence over the outcome of their bargain. I’m not sure they’re—necessarily—denying this point. Rathe