Thursday, October 29, 2009

Classical Liberalism versus Anarchocapitalism

According to Jesus Huerta de Soto (in his essay "Classical Liberalism versus Anarchocapitalism"), the great flaw in the Founding Fathers' thinking was "their ideal is theoretically impossible, as it contains the seed of its own destruction, precisely to the extent that it includes the necessary existence of a state (even a minimal one), understood as the sole agent of institutional coercion."

When you consider how the Founding Fathers viewed the differences between republics and democracies, you can see the flaw in their thinking. For example:
"The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended" - James Madison
As long as people view the government as some anomolous "other" entity outside of themselves, then any government is doomed to failure, regardless of whether it is a monarchy or a democracy or a representative republic.

Madison was right about one thing: The larger the government, the less connected to it will be the people under it. As long as people feel no responsibility for their own government, they will inevitably seek to use government towards their own ends. We see this today with the proliferation of special interests, ranging from the lowest welfare recipient to the highest CEO on Wall Street, with all of them seeking to get their cut from our government.

Another example:
"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide" - John Adams
What Adams forgets is how the Ancient Roman republic devolved into dictatorship. Representation did not protect the people from the follies of poor representative leadership (which handed over dictatorial powers to Julius Caesar, and then Augustus Caesar), leading to the Empire, and the inevitable fall of Rome.

Jesus Huerta de Soto's essay does get the part right about how no government has ever succeeded over the long term, and the Founding Fathers were wrong to assume they could do what had never been done before. However, de Soto does fail to deal with one problem: other governments.

As de Soto describes it, anarchocapitalism does sound like a great idea, until you start to consider: How do you protect it from other ideologies, and more specifically other governments? Inevitably, some dictatorship will come along and use force to enslave an anarchocapitalist "government".

Unless anarchocapitalists are willing to live like the people in Afghanistan, which is really the only comparable system to what they propose that has actually shown an ability to defend itself along with an ability to maintain their political/cultural system, then anarchocapitalism is doomed to failure. The only difference will be that anarchocapitalism's failure will come from outside of itself.


William R. Barker said...


Perhaps it's just me, and if so, forgive me, but what's your point with this post?


P.S. - Drop by Rob's blog. He has an interesting new post up.

EdMcGon said...

Anarchocapitalism has one inherent flaw: It can't defend itself militarily.