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

Kevin Carson free.market.anticapitalist at gmail.com
Mon Nov 9 19:55:16 CET 2009

On 11/9/09, Paul D. Fernhout <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:

> > Again, though, it gets back to the question of whether the state even
> > has any business judging what is a "healthy" balance of political
> > power exercised in my house, and whether the state has the right to
> > issue commands and take my continued residence as "consent."

>  How does the "state" make these decisions?

The state makes these decisions in the sense that some agency
representing the population of a contiguous area, as a body politic,
is sets what it regards as the proper balance of forces.  Even if it's
done as a majority vote in a direct democracy, it presupposes that
dissenting individuals are bound as members of that single body
politic to comply with the majority view in determining the extent to
which political power is authorized to extend into their own private

> > But the existence of some legal standard for distinguishing aggression
> > from self-defense is not the same as the existence of an entity with
> > the authority to initiate force on behalf of the "public good" or
> > "general  welfare."

>  I feel libertarians are too hung up on "initiate force". Watching people
> starve to death while you horde all the food (or land) seems pretty cruel,
> even if it is not "initiating force".

In an odd way, though, advocates for a state are similarly hung up on
"initiate force."  If anarchists view the initiation of force as the
source of all evil, then statists fixate on the initiation of force as
the sine qua non of promoting the public good.  If libertarians would
"allow" evils like poverty (in the sense of not using state force to
collect taxes for welfare), or job discrimination (in the sense of not
using state force to  prohibit it), then they must be in favor of it.

This ignores the extent to which human societies can function in a
solidaristic manner through voluntary cooperation and mutual aid,
without acting through a state.

Assuming that people would just watch someone starve, absent a state
to compel them to render aid--assuming that communities would not
function without a coercive state to work through--involves a rather
harsh view of human nature IMO.

>  The thing is, the flip side of a police state is continual feuding among
> individuals and families. Both are not happy social situations, too much
> authority and too little.

I don't think social order requires an agency with the power to
initiate force on behalf of the community.  What is lawful for an
individual to do, in the way of self-defense, is lawful for any number
of freely cooperating individuals to do as a group.

I expect that in most places, if the state were mutualized, former
local governments would preserve some form of organizational
continuity in functioning as consumer cooperatives.

And their services would probably be a sort of natural monopoly, to
the extent that raising the capital for a competing security (or fire)
service would be more costly than staging a hostile takeover of the
existing mismanaged service.  This tendency would be strengthened by a
continuing feeling that security was a function of "the community."

So you might well see a dominant security service subscribed to by a
majority of people within a town, governed by a mayor and board of
selectmen chosen by town meeting.  It would coexist with assorted
security agencies and cooperatives serving niche markets,
self-organized neighborhood patrols, and just people willing to take
the risk and rely on the deterrent effect of an armed populace and
their own self-defense capabilities in preventing invasion of their
homes.  The only difference between the new majority security service
would be that it no longer claims a right to impose its services on
those who prefer to  take their business elsewhere, and it has no
right to collect fees from non-subscribers.

Kevin Carson
Center for a Stateless Society http://c4ss.org
Mutualist Blog:  Free Market Anti-Capitalism
Studies in Mutualist Political Economy
Organization Theory:  A Libertarian Perspective

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