Monday, February 8, 2016

A Reply to Walter Block on Anarcho-Capitalism

Dr. Walter Block has responded (SEE: Walter Block Responds to My Charge That He is Not an Anarcho-Capitalist) to an earlier post of mine (SEE: Has Walter Block Left the World of Anarcho-Capitalist Advocacy?).

His response in my view continues to place him in the limited government camp rather than the anarcho-capitalist camp. I do not see how Dr. Block can be in the anarcho-capitalist camp, which I define as a respect for private property but no over-ruling body that can force rules on a person's private property. if he continues to insist that a property owner must put up certain signs on his property:
 I don’t think that my views about warning signs are incompatible with AnCap. Surely, private defense agencies, courts, can make these rulings.
What is Dr. Block saying here? That private defense agencies can set requirements for a property owner that has no interest in listening to the defense agency and is not violating NAP? How is that not interference with a private property owner who has not violated NAP?

The same goes for Dr. Block calling on a court to resolve such issues. If he believes a court can interfere on the private property of an individual who has not violated NAP, he is not an anarcho-capitalist, since he for sure sees some kind of body over-ruling a person who is minding his own business on his own property.

Dr. Block then goes on to move the discussion over to the world of  the doctrine of ad coelum. But my example has nothing to do with a question of property ownership. I am discussing a situation where the ownership is clear. My question remains, if the ownership of a property is clear, in an anarcho-capitalist world how can one have over-ruling bodies that decide what rules must apply on properties? To have any such rules requires a central planning body, call it whatever you choose, but if there is a private property and you are attempting to make rules of any kind that apply to the property, this is not anarchism in any form, It is government---yes that beast that tends to expand into an organism that in the past has killed hundreds of millions on this planet, Do we really want to advocate, for the sake of demanding signs on a property owner's land, the seeds of such a beast?

Dr. Block continues:
When a friend of mine who really should know better heard this, he accused me of being a G man (a government man); a non anarchist. A minarchist. He was making the same error as you are Bob, in thinking that law is a total monopoly of the state. No, it is not. Law precedes government. The state continually violates libertarian law. But, how could this be if, as you and this friend of mine think,  the government is the source of law, and whenever anyone such as myself proposes a law (signage for attack dogs; requirements that slant drillers not interfere with neighbor’s property rights) he is accused of violating AnCap?
I fear Dr. Block has created a strawman here and set it on fire.

I have never denied that laws can emerge without government, Religions, for example, have created laws, see: Catholic Canon Law and Islamic Sharia law. Private communities have set rules/laws for their communities.

But does Dr. Block believe that any of these laws must overrule activities of an individual on his own property if he is not violating NAP? Does he believe that Islamic Sharia law must overrule private property owner desires in parts of the world?

How does Dr. Block determine that his non-government law is the "true" law?

A private property society advocate would simply say. "Fine, if you want to recognize and enforce  Catholic Canon Law, Islamic Sharia law or  the Jewish Halakha, or any other laws on your property go for it, but the PPS advocate would recoil in horror at the idea that a set of laws, irrespective of how they developed, must apply to all properties."

Such a society with outside laws applying everywhere would not be an anarcho-capitalist system, It would be pretty much what we have now, people budding into the actions of those who are minding their own business on their own property, Some will demand warning signs from barking dogs, some will demand signs and safe rooms from speaking individuals. Where does it stop?



  1. I wonder what Rev. Wildes, Dr. Block's boss at Loyola, would think, say, do, if Dr. Block came right out and said, "I agree with Robert Wenzel that the political philosophy we both promote, anarcho-capitalism, allows a property owner to rightfully shoot a child who trespasses on and steals an apple from said property owner's property."

    1. This is really distorting my view. I am in favor of cars, which do occasionally kill people. I am in favor of stoves where a child could theoretically climb in and cook himself to death. Are you against stoves and cars?

      When you place such advocacy outside of the necessary value scale that does surround them, it is pure evil. The fact is I am in favor of individuals doing whatever they want on their own property because the opposite is some type of central power, a type of structure that has killed hundreds of millions.

      So which is it, do you want a society with an absurd theoretical that would never happen or do you object to such a society in favor of an organizational form that HAS killed hundreds of millions?

    2. You must remember the many, many bits and bytes of data that were spilled on this "absurd theoretical" on the pages of this blog. Obviously, your PPS theory has to be taken to its logical conclusion in order to be properly analyzed.

      Funny you should say "it would never happen", though. I was inspecting a piece of real estate property for sale the other day which, unbeknownst to me and my agent at the time, had some very tricky property boundaries. It was in front of a "flag lot", the border was "saw toothed" with another lot, and it was accessed via a "private road" all owned by other property owners. Anyway, we're in the house and this guy pulls up (one of the other contiguous property owners) and enters the house I'm viewing with the agent. He says, you're parked on my road and the access to/parking for this house is only via its front lawn. We politely agreed to move our cars but the guy was kinda "crazy" and became agitated when we said, "it would be great if you put up a sign about these rules because it is just not apparent without them. He says "I don't have to do any such thing", "you should've researched this beforehand" and "you're lucky all I did was ask you to leave." Needless to say, under other circumstances, such as what has been discussed under your PPS, this guy would've been within his rights to shoot us on the spot for trespassing. In my opinion, this guy had experienced many trespassers due to the weirdness in the property lines and lack of signage but seemed to enjoy confronting/threatening and escalating with people who mistakenly crossed onto his land.

    3. Hollow Daze, perhaps he would have shot you if it was allowed. After all in a PPS when someone shoots you because they have asserted that you violated the NAP you have no recourse. Presumably even self defence is unjustified.

    4. Why wouldn't one have recourse? Because you're dead? That goes the same for under state rule, as well. If you live, you have far more and options for recourse than under the State, where you are taxed beforehand under the pretext of being protected from being shot, and afterwards for room and board for the perp, all at monopoly prices. Imagine what you would do and how you would behave knowing there is no Platonic Guardian or Deus Ex Machina.

  2. RW,
    It seems to me your view of an AnCap society, or PPS if you prefer, is the one that earns Libertarians the libel of "utopian". You take the idea of a PPS further than do Block, Rothbard, and Hoppe, because you forget that it has to work in the real world of differing opinion. No society will likely ever exist that allows private property owners to act in ways so directly contrary to the idea of moral behavior (no matter how "relative"). No society is likely to ever accept killing children for mere trespass or petty theft. No society is likely to accept rape as retribution for petty offense. This is the way you differ with so many AnCaps. You're stuck on the idea of a PPS that "respects private property", but you deny that society the likely outcome of outrage, or practical mutiny against a tyrannical private property owner. In other words, the owner who rejects social pressures to such an extent is likely to face a crowd with pitch forks and torches.

    If agreeing with the idea that "governance" exists regardless of a state, makes me a minarchist, so be it. Your idea of an AnCap society is impossible.