One thing that's always bugged me about traditional Libertarianism, is the plain fact that no matter how "willing" we are, we're actually still submitting to force when being taxed for things like law enforcement and the military.
Some time ago, I came across an extremely compelling article over at Freedomain Radio (http://www.freedomainradio.com/), that offers what I think is the first really consistent - and believable - approach to the Non-Aggression Principle that I've ever seen. I'll provide some excerpts here, but you should really go to the site and check it out yourself! Also, the article was made into a podcast (http://www.freedomainradio.com/Traffic_Jams/stateless_society_take_2_320.mp3) , and a video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=1B-5Lbpk_3Y) ========================== The Stateless Society: An Examination of Alternatives By Stefan Molyneux ...while most people are comfortable with the idea of reducing the size and power of the State, they become distinctly uncomfortable with the idea of getting rid of it completely. To use a medical metaphor, if the State is a cancer, they prefer medicating it into an unstable remission, rather than eliminating it completely. This can never work. A central lesson of history is that States are parasites which always expand until they destroy their host population.... ...Even the rare reductions are merely temporary. The United States was founded on the principle of limited government; it took little more than a century for the State to break the bonds of the Constitution, implement the income tax, take control of the money supply and the educational system, and begin its catastrophic expansion. There is no example in history of a State being permanently reduced in size. All that happens during a tax or civil revolt is that the State retrenches, figures out what it did wrong, and plans its expansion again. Or provokes a war, which silences all but fringe dissenters. Given these well-known historical facts, why do still people believe that such a deadly predator can be tamed? Surely it can only be because they consider a slow strangulation in the grip of an expanding State somehow better than the quick death of a society bereft of a State. Why, then, do most people believe that a society will crumble without a coercive and monopolistic social agency at its core? There are a number of answers to this question, but generally they tend to revolve around three central points: * dispute resolution; * collective services; and, * pollution. Dispute Resolution ....How can the free market deal with the problem of dispute resolution? Outside the realm of organized crime, very few people are comfortable with armed confrontations, and so generally prefer to delegate that task to others. Let's assume that people's need for such representatives produces Dispute Resolution Organizations (DROs), which promise to resolve disputes on their behalf. Thus, if Stan is hired by Bob, they both sign a document specifying which DRO they both accept as an authority in dispute resolution. If they disagree about something, and are unable to resolve it between themselves, they submit their case to the DRO, and agree to abide by that DRO's decision. So far so good. However, what if Stan decides he doesn't want to abide by the DRO's decision? Well, several options arise. First of all, when Stan signed the DRO agreement, it is likely that he would have agreed to property confiscation if he did not abide by the DRO's decision. Thus the DRO would be entirely within its right to go and remove property from Stan by force if necessary to pay for his side of the dispute. It is at this point that people generally throw up their arms and dismiss the idea of DROs by claiming that society would descend into civil war within a few days. Everyone, of course, realizes that civil war is a rather bad situation, and so it seems likely that the DROs would consider alternatives to armed combat. What other options could be pursued? To take a current example, small debts which are not worth pursuing legally are still regularly paid off and why? Because a group of companies produce credit ratings on individuals, and the inconvenience of a lowered credit rating is usually greater than the inconvenience of paying off a small debt. Thus, in the absence of any recourse to force, small debts are usually settled. This is one example of how desired behaviour can be elicited without pulling out a gun or kicking in a door.... ...But let's push the theory to the max, to see if it holds. To examine a worst-case scenario, imagine that Stan's employer is an evil man who bribes the DRO to rule in his favour, and the DRO imposes an unconscionable fine say, one million dollars on Stan. First of all, this is such an obvious problem that DROs, to get any business at all, would have to deal with this danger up front. An appeal process to a different DRO would have to be part of the contract. DROs would also rigorously vet their own employees for any unexplained income. And, of course, any DRO mediator who corrupted the process would receive perhaps the lowest contract rating on the planet, lose his job, and be liable for damages. He would lose everything, and be an economic pariah. However, to go to the extreme, perhaps the worst has occurred and Stan has been unjustly fined a million dollars due to DRO corruption. Well, he has three alternatives. He can choose not to pay the fine, drop off the DRO map, and work for cash without contracts. Become part of the grey market, in other words. A perfectly respectable choice, if he has been treated unjustly. However, if Stan is an intelligent and even vaguely entrepreneurial man, he will see the corruption of the DRO as a prime opportunity to start his own, competing DRO, and will write into its base contract clauses to ensure that what happened to him will never happen to anyone who signs on with his new DRO. Stan's third option is to appeal to the contract rating agency. Contract rating agencies need to be as accurate as possible, since they are attempting to assess real risk. If they believe that the DRO ruled unjustly against Stan, they will lower that DRO's contract rating and restore Stan's. Thus it is inconceivable that violence would only be required to enforce all but the most extreme contract violations, since all parties gain the most long-term value by acting honestly. This resolves the problem of instant descent into civil war. Two other problems exist, however, which must be resolved before the DRO theory starts to becomes truly tenable. The first is the challenge of reciprocity, or geography. If Bob has a contract with Jeff, and Jeff moves to a new location not covered by their mutual DRO, what happens? Again, this is such an obvious problem that it would be solved by any competent DRO. People who travel prefer cell phones with the greatest geographical coverage, and so cell phone companies have developed reciprocal agreements for charging competitors. Just as a person's credit rating is available anywhere in the world, so their contract rating will also be available, and so there will be no place to hide from a broken contract save by going `off the grid' completely, which would be economically crippling. The second problem is the fear that a particular DRO will grow in size and stature to the point where it takes on all the features and properties of a new State. This is a superstitious fear, because there is no historical example of a private company replacing a political State. While it is true that companies regularly use State coercion to enforce trading restrictions, high tariffs, cartels and other mercantilist tricks, surely this reinforces the danger of the State, not the inevitability of companies growing into States. All States destroy societies. No company has ever destroyed a society without the aid of the State. Thus the fear that a private company can somehow grow into a State is utterly unfounded in fact, experience, logic and history.... ...Finally, one other advantage to DRO's can be termed the `Scrabble-Challenge Benefit'. In Scrabble, an accuser loses his turn if he challenges another player's word and the challenge fails. Given the costs of resolving disputes, DROs would be very careful to ensure that those bringing false accusations would be punished through their own premiums, their contract ratings and by also assuming the entire cost of the dispute. This would greatly reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits, to the great benefit of all. The idea that society can only survive in the absence of a centralized State is the greatest lesson that the grisly years of the Twentieth Century can teach us. Our choice is not between the free market and the State, but between life and death. Whatever the risks involved in dissolving the central State, they are far less than the certain destruction which will result from its inevitable escalation. Like a cancer patient facing certain demise, we must open our minds reach for whatever medicine shows the most promise, and not wait until it is too late.... ========================