[p2p-research] Building Alliances (state and commons)

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Mon Nov 9 02:51:36 CET 2009

Kevin Carson wrote:
> On 11/6/09, Paul D. Fernhout <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>>  On taxes, consider:
>>   "A Non-Libertarian FAQ."
>>   http://world.std.com/~mhuben/faq.html
>>  """
>>  #  If you don't pay your taxes, men with guns will show up at your house,
>> initiate force and put you in jail.
>>   This is not initiation of force. It is enforcement of contract, in this
>> case an explicit social contract.
>>  # Social Contract? I never signed no steenking social contract.
>>   That argument and some of the following libertarian arguments are commonly
>> quoted from Lysander Spooner.
>>   The constitution and the laws are our written contracts with the
>> government.
>>   There are several explicit means by which people make the social contract
>> with government. The commonest is when your parents choose your residency
>> and/or citizenship after your birth. In that case, your parents or guardians
>> are contracting for you, exercising their power of custody. No further
>> explicit action is required on your part to continue the agreement, and you
>> may end it at any time by departing and renouncing your citizenship.
> I've seen a good many libertarians demolish this social contract
> explanation for the authority of the state.  The argument is based on
> an analogy:  when you continue to sit in my living room after I tell
> you the rules of my house, you're implicitly consenting to obey those
> rules.  But the argument implicitly assumes that the state is, in
> fact, the moral equivalent of the owner of the house, and that it has
> some moral authority to set conditions for remaining in its territory;
>  i.e., it assumes that a given territory IS indeed "its" territory.
> This is what market anarchists dispute.   It's quite possible for
> common property to exist, as in the Russian mir, the medieval
> open-field system, etc.  But there must be some material basis for the
> right of a real, concrete group of people to claim ownership of such
> commons--not just the claim of some entity to "represent" all the
> people within some geographical area, and thereby to have some sort of
> legislative police power over the entire population within that area.

There's another way the analogy fails. A country is not a house. :-)

More seriously, in a country one has lots of places to go where the state 
(in a democracy, in theory) is mostly not supposed to intrude, like your own 
house. So, it's like a house where you have your own private room the owner 
agrees not to usually come into.

Also, in a country, in theory, citizens help define the laws. So, it's like 
a house with a rules committee, not a single dictator/owner.

But with all that said, can state power in some areas of life be too strong 
to be healthy? Sure. It's that Manuel de Landa meshwork hierarchy balance thing.

See also, though it ignores the value of community and some other good stuff 
including Alfie Kohn's Case Against Competition:
   "(Propertarian) Libertarianism: Marxism of the Right"

There are other forms of libertarianism though. Noam Chomsky identifies 
himself as a libertarian socialist.
"Libertarian socialism (sometimes called socialist anarchism,[1][2] and 
sometimes left libertarianism[3][4]) is a group of political philosophies 
that aspire to create a society without political, economic, or social 
hierarchies, i.e. a society in which all violent or coercive institutions 
would be dissolved, and in their place every person would have free, equal 
access to the tools of information and production.[5]"

But, based on Manuel de Landa, that's seems like a theoretical 
impossibility. A shared culture is itself a sort of hierarchical 
institution, as is a constitution, as is shared standards, and so on. Even 
informal agreements about the commons are a sort of hierarchical thing in 
some sense. Socially it may not feel like a hierarchy; Manuel de Landa is 
talking more conceptually.

One can also see things along a fire/ice or order/chaos axis. But it is 
different than that in the sense that fire and ice can coexist, or systems 
can have highly ordered parts and very chaotic parts, all at the same time.

--Paul Fernhout

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