Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Is justice possible without the State?

In Chaos Theory, Robert P. Murphy sketches how market forces would operate to support the private production of justice and defense -- two areas that are traditionally conceded to be the sole province of the State.  

Murphy contends that not only would the market be able to provide these services, but would do so much more efficiently and equitably than the system we have now.

Here, I’ll confine discussion to a few key points he makes about the production of “justice” on the free market.

As with the western pioneers and the world today, no single set of laws or rules is needed to bind everyone.  People would enter into voluntary contracts that spell out the rules they agree to live by.   “All aspects of social intercourse would be ‘regulated’ by voluntary contracts.”  

Who makes the rules?  Private legal experts, who would draft laws under open competition with rivals.  The market deals with “justice” as it does with other services.  As Murphy notes, 

“the market” is just shorthand for the totality of economic interactions of freely acting individuals. To allow the market to set legal rules really means that no one uses violence to impose his own vision on everyone else.

In an advanced AnCap society, insurance companies would play a major role.  People would buy policies, for example, to indemnify their victims if they were ever found guilty of a crime.  As they do now, insurance companies would employ experts to determine the risks of insuring a given individual.  If a person were considered too great a risk he might be turned down, and this would be information others would use in deciding if and how they wished to interact with him.

Critics say this might work for peaceful, rational people but what about incorrigible thieves and ax murderers?  How would market anarchy deal with them?

All Property is Privately Owned

Murphy reminds us that “wherever someone is standing in a purely libertarian society, he would be on somebody’s property.”  This allows for force to be used against criminals without violating their natural rights.  He cites the example of a person entering a movie theater, with an implicit contract such as the following: 

If I am judged guilty of a crime by a reputable arbitration agency [perhaps listed in an Appendix], I release the theater owner from any liability should armed men come to remove me from his property.

In this way the use of force would have been authorized by the recipient himself beforehand.

But where do these armed men take the criminal?  On a free market, a high-security analog to jails would evolve.  These jails, though, would resemble hotels because they would be competing with each other for business, which in AnCap means both pleasing the criminal and guaranteeing his secure detention.  

Unlike government prisons there would be no undue cruelty and virtually no chance of escape.  If a dangerous criminal escaped and killed again the insurance company would be held liable.  And a prisoner who didn’t like the way he was treated would have the option of switching to a different jail, as long as his insurance company was in agreement.

Would the Mafia Take Over?

People who support the State because they believe organized crime would take control of an AnCap society should consider that we’re already living  under the “most ‘organized’ criminal association in human history.”  Whatever crimes the Mafia has committed, they are nothing -- nothing -- compared to the wanton death and destruction states have perpetrated.    

We need to consider, too, that the mob gets its strength from the government, not the free market.

All of the businesses traditionally associated with organized crime—gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, drug dealing—are prohibited or heavily regulated by the state. In market anarchy, true professionals would drive out such unscrupulous competitors.

Applying AnCap

Murphy discusses several applications of anarcho-capitalism in today’s world, one of which is medical licensing.  Almost everyone believes that without government regulation we would all be at the mercy of quacks.  “Ignorant consumers would go to whatever brain surgeon charged the lowest price, and would be butchered on the operating table.”  Therefore, we need the iron fist of government to restrict entry into the medical profession.

But this is pure fiction.  Since the demand for safe and effective medicine is universal, the market would respond accordingly with voluntary organizations that would allow only qualified doctors into their ranks.  Insurance companies, too, would only underwrite doctors who met their standards, since they would stand to lose millions in malpractice suits.

Regarding the ongoing controversy of gun control, Murphy sees legitimate points to both sides of the debate:

Certainly we cannot trust the government to protect us once it has disarmed us. But on the other hand, I feel a bit silly arguing that people should be able to stockpile atomic weapons in their basement.

How might AnCap resolve this?  Let’s say Joe Smith wants an insurance company to agree to pay $10 million to the estate of anyone Smith happens to kill.  “The company will be very interested to know whether Smith keeps sawed off shotguns—let alone atomic weapons—in his basement.”  In this way truly dangerous weapons would be restricted to those willing to pay the high premiums for owning them.

Though it’s hard to imagine any company willing to issue a policy to a holder of nuclear weapons, nevertheless, if someone wanted to, there would be no agency with the authority to prohibit owning them.  But without a policy, a person would be unable to guarantee his contracts with others and would find it virtually impossible to function in society.

Getting there from here

Establishing an AnCap society depends heavily on the history of the region.  North Korean market anarchists, for example, might have to use violence to curtail that brutal regime, while in the United States, “a gradual and orderly erosion of the State is a wonderful possibility.”

The one thing all such revolutions would share is a commitment by the overwhelming majority to a total respect of property rights.

People already understand that rape and murder are crimes - even rapists and murderers.  The hard part is convincing people “that murder is wrong even when duly elected ‘representatives’ order it.”

We can build on intuitive notions of justice, just as newly arriving miners in California respected the claims of earlier settlers.  

To take a more modern example, even inner city toughs unthinkingly obey the “rules” in a pickup game of basketball, despite the lack of a referee.

As he explains in a footnote, the players in a pickup game still recognize the existence of a foul (and other rules), even if the offending player denies he committed one.  

Now, the market solution to such ambiguity and bias, for games deemed important enough to warrant the extra cost and hassle, is to appoint official referees to apply the “law” (which they too unthinkingly respect). Notice that at no point is a violent monopoly needed to achieve this orderly outcome. 


Those who defend the State as necessary to protect  property rights should brush up on their history, from day one to the present.  As Murphy wraps up,

I ask that the reader resist the temptation to dismiss my ideas as “unworkable,” without first specifying in what sense the government legal system “works.”

Seeing how government “justice” has worked especially since the election of 2016, that would be a tall challenge.

George Ford Smith is a former mainframe and PC programmer and technology instructor, the author of eight books including a novel about a renegade Fed chairman (Flight of the Barbarous Relic), a filmmaker (Do Not Consent), and an advocate of stateless market government.  He eagerly welcomes speaking engagements and can be reached at gfs543@icloud.com. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

As technology climbs the curve governments will become road kill

Bad news: Government is getting bigger and more oppressive.

Good news: As it gets bigger it also gets weaker.

Better news: Technology is making us, as individuals, stronger.

How do we know government is getting weaker?  Because it is sustained by central bank counterfeiting and debt, and the lies of state sycophants.   How long can massive fraud last?  The whole apparatus of government — a bandit gang writ large, in Rothbard’s famous depiction — is an affront to civilization and human dignity.  Yet it’s the absence of government — anarchy — that we’re supposed to avoid at all costs. We’re avoiding it, all right, and we’re paying dearly for it.

Meanwhile, a quiet revolution is ongoing that almost no one seems to understand, yet is talked about incessantly: The rising power of technology.  Without asking our permission, technology is taking us down the path to anarchy.  How is this so?

Technology today is climbing up the curve of the exponential but if you look at any one point it appears linear.  In our day-to-day lives we are looking at points, seeing incremental improvements but nothing that would suggest radical innovation.  Yet it happens.  We see magic but consider it mundane.  We have smartphones that can transmit live video from around the world, and say “So what?”  We read about a young programmer who builds a self-driving car in his garage, and say “Huh.”   We need to step back and look at the trend to see where all this is going.  

Ray Kurzweil explains (The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, 2005):

Early stages of technology – the wheel, fire, stone tools – took tens of thousands of years to evolve and be widely deployed. A thousand years ago, a paradigm shift such as the printing press, took on the order of a century to be widely deployed. Today, major paradigm shifts, such as cell phones and the world wide web were widely adopted in only a few years time.

He adds:

A primary reason that evolution— of life-forms or of technology— speeds up is that it builds on its own increasing order, with ever more sophisticated means of recording and manipulating information. . .  [p. 39]

For example,

The first computers were designed on paper and assembled by hand. Today, they are designed on computer workstations, with the computers themselves working out many details of the next generation’s design, and are then produced in fully automated factories with only limited human intervention. [p. 40]

As the technology continues to build on itself, it will eventually take “full control of its own progression.”  It will no longer need human intervention.

But fear not, he says.  In the future we will not see super-smart robots controlling or wiping out humans; rather, what will evolve is a merger of humans with their technology.  Humans, as his book’s subtitle tells us, will “transcend biology.”  Kurzweil:

It would mean that human performance is not necessarily dependent on the biological substrate that comprises our brains today. The biological information processing in our brains is, after all, much slower than information processing in conventional electronics today. Information in our brains is transmitted using chemical signals that travel a few hundred feet per second, which is a million times slower than electronics.  [p. 122]

We will reach a point when “the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.”

Or as Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired Magazine, puts it: "all the change in the last million years will be superseded by the change in the next five minutes.”

Before we can say “So what?” again we will have reached what Kurzweil and others call the Technological Singularity.  

Inexorable and universal

Kurzweil refers to this progression as the law of accelerating returns.  It is “inexorable,” and his books are packed with charts showing why this is so.  According to his prediction the law will reach the Singularity by 2045.  It sounds incredible but so have most of his other predictions that have played out to be true.    

He also considers the progression to be in terms of price-performance, meaning that “all of these technologies quickly become so inexpensive as to become almost free.” [p. 430]  It’s not the case that only the rich will have access to them.

But what about government?  Won’t it feel threatened and impede innovation?  As Kurzweil points out, “the nature of wealth and power in the age of intelligent machines will encourage the open society. Oppressive societies will find it hard to provide the economic incentives needed to pay for computers and their development.” [p. 128]

He brings up a crucial point: The law of accelerating returns has always operated under government-controlled conditions.  Government wars, depressions, genocides, currency debauchery, regulations, etc. have not slowed it down, or at least not for long.  To repeat, the law is inexorable.

Innovation has a way of working around the limits imposed by institutions. The advent of decentralized technology empowers the individual to bypass all kinds of restrictions, and does represent a primary means for social change to accelerate.  [p. 472]

Technology in the hands of the government can be a nightmare.  But as it disperses into the lives of individuals it becomes empowering.  Over time it quietly undermines government power, as Gary North tells us:  

Technological innovation is not going to be stopped by any local government, state government, national government, or the World Trade Organization. Technological innovation is about as close to an autonomous process as anything in history. 

Technological innovation is decentralized on a scale never before seen. Because of the Internet, because of 3-D printing, and because of innovation of all kinds, technological innovation is a tsunami that is headed for all government welfare programs, all government central planning, all government regulatory agencies, every labor union, and every good old boy network. Technological innovation is simply sweeping everything before it. 

This is going to change the whole shape of civilization, and it isn't going to take three generations. It is fairly far advanced now, and another 40 years of this is going to change the political landscape entirely.

I say 20 years, but either way government is doomed, liberty is enhanced.

That, I submit, is a comforting thought.


The preceding is taken from Chapter 5 of my book, The Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of Liberty.

George Ford Smith is a former mainframe and PC programmer and technology instructor, the author of eight books including a novel about a renegade Fed chairman (Flight of the Barbarous Relic), a filmmaker (Do Not Consent), and an advocate of stateless market government.  He eagerly welcomes speaking engagements and can be reached at gfs543@icloud.com.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Take stock of our assets

No one knows what the future will bring because the future doesn’t bring anything.  People do.  You and I and the rest of the world make the future, some more so than others — some a lot more so.  The leading future-makers of the past century — at least those who entered national politics — have left a long trail of blood and misery, and today’s political leaders are staying the course. 

There’s an old saying: “Man proposes, but God disposes.”  In other words: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

If the U.S. government is today’s god, what chance do a relative handful of freedom-loving people have against such an institutional behemoth?  We’re only a false flag away from martial law.  The internment camps are built and ready for occupancy.  The police are militarized and ready to carry out orders.  The voters remain insouciant.  This is no time for optimism.  It’s time to run for our lives.

But before we take off, we would do well to take stock of our assets.

There’s a scene in the Clint Eastwood movie “Absolute Power” that illustrates the point I wish to make.   Eastwood, as legendary jewel thief Luther Whitney, witnesses the murder of a young woman during one of his heists.  The president (Gene Hackman) and his SS agents are the murderers.  The victim is the wife of the president’s biggest supporter, an octogenarian billionaire (E. G. Marshall) whose mansion Luther was robbing.  Whitney was hiding behind a one-way mirror at the time but later learns he’s a suspect, because of the missing jewels.  Luther knows the president’s henchmen will try to kill him before he can expose them and rather than fight such a powerful foe makes arrangements to leave the country.

While at the airport ready to depart he sees a staged press conference on TV.   It’s an appalling political spectacle.  A mournful president is offering sympathy to the bereaved husband, who’s standing beside him.  “This man has been like a father to me,” he announces, then turns to his friend. “I would give the world to lessen your pain.” He blots his eyes, apparently too choked up to continue.

Luther simmers with fury.  “You heartless whore,” he says aloud to the TV.  “I’m not about to run from you.” 

Luther rediscovered his true grit.  

He also had conclusive evidence in his possession, as well as a daughter he cared about.  What about you?  If optimism still seems like a stretch, ask yourself what it would take for you, an informed libertarian, to be pessimistic.

A libertarian's assets

First and foremost, you would have to view your “informed libertarianism” as thoroughly grounded in blind faith, not to mention wrong.

More precisely, to be pessimistic you would have to believe that the Keynesians are right, that Fed-inflated recoveries are indeed real and not a bubble; that free markets are inherently flawed and in need of regulation, debt-financed stimulus, bail-outs of the big boys, and an instantly-inflatable money stock to shore up emergencies.  You might long to be free, but the economic truth is, notwithstanding such longings, freedom in a social context is a return to the robber baron days of the 19th century.  

Along with this, you, an informed libertarian, would have to believe that Mises, Rothbard, Hazlitt, Salerno, Hulsmann, DiLorenzo, Paul, Rockwell, de Soto, Shostak, Woods, North, Murphy, and many other Austrian authors were either grossly ignorant or lying when they championed unhampered free markets and sound money as the necessary precondition of peace, freedom, and prosperity.

Along with this, you would have to ignore the overwhelming data showing that market economies improve living standards and concede that what we need is more government in our lives.

For a libertarian to be pessimistic, you would have to believe that bureaucrats and other time-servers inoculated against market forces will outwit entrepreneurs in the long run.  You would have to believe that politicians who steal your money to start wars and bail out their friends contribute more to our welfare than Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, or Jeff Bezos and countless other entrepreneurs. 

As a pessimistic libertarian, you would have to believe that central bank counterfeiting produces a sound monetary system, that a market-selected money inevitably goes astray, that money under control of a politicized committee produces the best results for everyone, and that a managed monetary system will last indefinitely.  You would have to believe gold is truly a barbarous relic, of no more value than a pet rock (when in fact it's more like a door stop, where "door" refers to government).

Along with this, you would have to believe that in this age of Wikipedia, web browsers, Khan Academy, Mises Institute, YouTube, the Ron Paul Curriculum, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, texting, email, TED, the proliferation of web-accessible computing devices, and the high web traffic ratings of libertarian web sites, the government will maintain its grip on education, keeping the vast majority of people clothed in tax-funded wool, inculcating the population with the court view of history, with the state/Keynesian view of crisis management, and getting them to swallow whole the pronouncements that pass for news and rational commentary on banker-controlled media.  

Along with this, you would have to believe John White, Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Serpico, Perry FellwockMark FeltMichael RuppertFrederic WhitehurstKaren KwiatkowskiJesselyn RadackSibel EdmondsJoseph WilsonSamuel ProvanceRuss TiceThomas Andrews Drake, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and numerous other whistleblowers are cowardly traitors and are universally regarded as such.  You would have to believe that these people were determined to subvert the lawful undertakings of government rather than exposing the government’s heinous wrongdoings.

Along with this, you would have to believe that the decentralizing, deflationary, and individual-empowering character of information-based technologies, which has been advancing at an exponential pace at least since 1890 and which is powering research in other fields such as medicine (where 3-D printing is producing surrogate body parts) — and which has put in your pocket a device with more computational power than an early 1990s supercomputer — will slow significantly because engineers and researchers are at a loss to move us beyond the current computing paradigm, Moore’s Law.  


It’s challenging to be a pessimistic libertarian.  Luther was nearly assassinated and his daughter almost killed in “Absolute Power,” but in the end everything worked out. 

Don’t let the fact that the movie is fictional discourage you.  Use fiction as a guideline and make your own movie real.  If you feel your optimism fading turn up the grit and move ahead. 


The foregoing was extracted from my book, The Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of Liberty.

George Ford Smith is a former mainframe and PC programmer and technology instructor, the author of eight books including a novel about a renegade Fed chairman (Flight of the Barbarous Relic), a filmmaker (Do Not Consent), and an advocate of stateless market government.  He eagerly welcomes speaking engagements and can be reached at gfs543@icloud.com.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Political Litmus Tests Made Easy

"We have what it takes to take what you have.” -- Proposed IRS motto


One can easily spot a libertarian by their position on taxes.

One can easily spot a Democrat or a Republican by their position on abortion.

Fascists, communists, socialists and others dependent on force have their particular litmus tests but share a common premise: The necessity of the state.  The state — the legal monopoly on violence — whether total or minimal, is a necessary component of their political position.

This brings up the subject of anarchy, the name given to those who reject the state altogether.

Have we have named all possible political positions?  Almost.

What do we call people who favor government by the voluntary relationships of the market and its natural incentives toward peace, prosperity, and harmony? 

They too could rightfully describe themselves as anarchists, according to this definition

A political theory advocating the abolition of hierarchical government and the organization of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without recourse to force or compulsion.

But this gives us conflicting definitions of anarchy.  One that rejects the state as a means of rejecting government.  The other that rejects the state as a way of implementing government.

The pro-government anarchists believe the path to civilization is not based on a mixture of compulsion and freedom; it is based on freedom alone.

For these people the free market, properly understood, is the path to peace and prosperity — the path to civilization.  The state prevents this from happening.

Political elections, fraud, taxes, inflation, fiat money, war, intel operations, government debt, Liz Cheney, AOC, Hillary, Biden, The Great Reset — and much more — are enemies of the free market because they are positives for the state.

Civilization is more than possible, it is well within our reach

George Ford Smith is a former mainframe and PC programmer and technology instructor, the author of eight books including a novel about a renegade Fed chairman (Flight of the Barbarous Relic), a filmmaker (Do Not Consent), and an advocate of stateless market government.  He eagerly welcomes speaking engagements and can be reached at gfs543@icloud.com.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

If free markets work, why do we have a state?

Libertarians call for a free society but few bother to define what this means or explain how to achieve it.  For most a free society is one with a limited government.  But how do we keep it limited?  Who gets to define the limitations?  How many people today even want a limited government?  Not many, or libertarianism would be more popular.

The path to this limited government ideal is cleared by unlearning the fallacies government schools have taught us.  But if the unlearning is consistent, the result will be to wipe government as we know it out of the picture altogether.  Not even libertarians want that.  Why else would there be a Libertarian Party?  Someone has to oversee a limited government to make sure it doesn’t meddle unnecessarily in our lives, and libertarians of the Libertarian Party are presumably most fit for the job. 

You don't have a free society when a monopoly of violence exists at its core.  It's the seed of everything that goes wrong.  Libertarians thus are stuck with an inconsistent premise.  The sacred nonaggression principle seemingly must coexist with an agency of aggression, allowing some people powers that are legally forbidden to others.

For many, being without a state would feel like open season on their lives.  And as we've witnessed here in the U.S., a minimalist state tends not to stay minimal.  

Suppose, though, that anarchy isn’t the ultimate political horror?  What if “anarchy” serves as cover for a free market and a free society generally?  What is it about the free market that it can provide almost all, but not quite all, of society’s needs?  Is it possible that’s a myth—or worse, a hoax?  

Free markets work

It's believed that if people are free they are incapable of establishing certain services such as courts and law, and national defense.  Here is where the free market would shine.  Under state dominance, justice is expensive, slow and often denied, while national defense has become its opposite and a source of wealth- and life-draining corruption.  

Why can’t free men (and women) decide on their own to institute courts and advertise their benefits to the public?  Why can’t others do the same and attempt to persuade the public their courts are better?  And wouldn’t it be possible that some people would prefer the courts of A while others subscribe to the courts of B?  And couldn’t they agree on a binding method of conflict resolution?  

Who among us would feel safe without a means of protecting ourselves from foreign invaders?  Given the likelihood that insurance companies would undertake defense services and have an incentive to minimize claims, wouldn’t they tend to promote peace while having the requisite means of defending their clients from attacks?  

What would happen to the needy under a free market?  Would they be left to perish in a so-called dog-eat-dog world?  Other people, acutely aware of their own vulnerability, have proven to be charitable even in an age when government has grabbed the welfare reins.  In days before the welfare state, charity was the pride of the semi-free society we once had.  

Would income disparity exist under a free market government?  Absolutely, just as disparities exist among people in all areas of life.  But the fortunes made by some would depend largely on their ability to satisfy customers, not on their nonexistent political connections.  Under coercive government Burton Folsom’s political entrepreneurs (the real Robber Barons) thrive at the public’s expense.  


When you hear “anarchy,” think “free market” and remember all the blessings it has brought us — and when you hear “government” consider this observation from Robert Higgs:

Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.

In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.

    George Ford Smith is a former mainframe and PC programmer and technology instructor, the author of eight books including a novel about a renegade Fed chairman (Flight of the Barbarous Relic), a filmmaker (Do Not Consent), and an advocate of stateless market government.  He eagerly welcomes speaking engagements and can be reached at gfs543@icloud.com.

    The State Unmasked

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