Talk:Anarcho-capitalism/Archive 4

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Dec 12

I really can't understand why a debate so stupid as the definition of anarchy debate broke out. Look at dictionaries. What do they do when people have different meanings for words ? They put more than one entry under a word.

Arguing over the "one true" definition of anarchy is foolish when there can be more than one definition of a word. Trying to force your definition as the sole definition is your problem. This article can easily handle the problem by specifying that it is using a specific definition of anarchy. No notice of the debate is necessary, as multiple definitions are commonly accepted by dictionary readers (if not Wikipedia contributors). – Olathe

I agree, and this is the approach I tried myself. See my recent summary of this dispute under "More of the same" (which might be overlooked since not at beginning or end of this page). Needless to say, this didn't seem to satisfy my detractors. -- VV 22:35, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I'm a little confused. Who here is arguing over the "one true" definition of anarchy? Certainly not VV, myself, Aaron, or Rad, who have all stated in one way or another that there are multiple (often conflicting) conceptions of the word allowed for all of them to be present in one form or another on the page. Obviously there are more than one different conceptions of what the word means, and everyone here has their own ideas that have been expressed at one point or another, each with its own supporting claims. It is important to state these and work through them to understand when and why certain edits on the mainpage might be appropriate, I certainly don't find that process to be stupid or foolish. However, I readily agree that no one should try to force one particular definition as the sole definition, that is in fact the reason for most of my edits. Claims to any particular definition of anarchism which are presented here should be stated as claims, and should be indicated to be a particular definition of the word before or when it is used for the first time in the page. This doesn't need to be formal, a bold warning or something, but it does need to be worked into the text somehow. Doing so helps advocates and opponents of anarcho-capitalism, as it clarifies the matter to avoid misunderstandings. Anyway, I don't know about others here, but from my first post on this page I expressed a willingness to incorporate two different descriptions of "anarcho-capitalism" on this page. I'd still be happy to do so, but I've been under the impression that presenting another perspective on anarcho-capitalism would be viewed more as a critique and herded into a sub-section or off-page article rather than as a valid alternate definition and given equal placement on this page. Given that this is a page on anarcho-capitalism, I respect that their perspective should be given precedent and therefore did not attempt to divide the page into two equal parts, but instead to simply neutralize the language to allow for the possiblity of a conception other than the one being presented. - Kev 12/12/03
It is quite clear that someone, maybe not one of the ones you listed is arguing over the one true definition of anarchism. From the article:
"Many modern-day anarchists within these traditions reject the term anarcho-capitalist, arguing that the term anarchist, as it has historically and most frequently been used, is consistent only with an anti-capitalist economic programme"
This is, very clearly, putting forth the argument that one definition of anarchy, specifically the historical and most-frequently-used definition, is the only one that should be used – all others should be rejected. That it is "objectified" with the words "these people believe this" instead of coming right out and saying it is irrelevant. It's not truly objective; this can be shown with two points :
  • If the person who originally posted that truly wanted to be objective, it would be better placed either in libertarian socialism or anarchism because it deals with the beliefs of some libertarian socialists and the word "anarchy", but not the beliefs of anarcho-capitalists; anarcho-capitalists' definition of anarchy is stated earlier in the article and we can leave it to the reader's skill in thinking to figure out that the definitions don't match.
  • Concessions are made to the argument :
"Because of the intense controversy and confusion surrounding the meanings and scope of these words, the catch-all phrase anti-capitalist anarchism will be used in this article for these contrasting positions, with the caveat that many anarchists consider it the only valid form of anarchism and do not feel it needs to be qualified"
This shows that the person wasn't merely including a nice side note, but attempting to force their point of view. This could be easily shortened to "anarcho-capitalists mean ... by anarchy" on anarcho-capitalism and "libertarian socialists mean ... by anarchy" on libertarian socialism if we wanted to be truly objective, again leaving it to the reader's thinking skills.
As it is, it appears that people are in fact being stupid and assuming that the reader is stupid (also, it is portraying socialist anarchists as so stupid they can't figure out the use of a different definition than they're accustomed to). I could care less that all sides are fairly represented on the main page; Wikipedia is not the place to go to see Wikipedians' wordy arguments, it is a place to go to learn about various things. The arguments can be left on the talk page or, as I've already said, on pages that pertain to the arguments (i.e. anarchism and libertarian socialism).
&ndash Olathe December 17, 2003
I generally agree with you, and I say this as someone who wrote the "Because of the intense controversy..." text. My intent was to accommodate those who claimed that anarcho-capitalism was not anarchism and repeatedly altered the article to reflect this belief. By putting in stronger language emphasizing this point of dispute, I was hoping the broader use of "anarchism", marked as such, would become non-objectionable. I kept making the caveat language stronger and stronger so as to leave no room for confusion, but it still does not seem to have helped (as you can see by the litany of absurd accusations and dismissals levelled against me, as well as the endless reversions). As for the first sentence, its history is a little more tangled, but not wholly dissimilar. -- VV 02:02, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Fine by me. Feel free to remove any and all arguments for or against anarchism and libertarian socialism from the page without objection from me. I have long held that I do not insist that they be there, and in fact I'm not the one who put them there. Indeed, the person who did put them there probably either feels a little sheepish atm, or doesn't even remember that he did. Anyway, my primary concern is that this page reflects beliefs and claims like pretty much all politically oriented pages do on wikipedia (i.e. as beliefs and claims), and that the language be neutral in the sense that it does not rule out, at the outset, the very positions which anarcho-capitalists argue against. There are a number of neutral disputes here, in fact this page qualifies for all of the ones listed on the NPOV dispute page. You might also want to note that I have replied to you on the current dispute page. As I said there, I'm won't object to your suggestion that the page be explicitly POV instead of attempting NPOV, or that it be divided into two parts. But I have a feeling neither of those suggestions will go over well with others here when all is said and done. Also, I don't personally think anyone is being stupid, perhaps you do not understand the context or the motivations behind the placement of those arguments, so you might want to try to do so before you rush to judgment. And, as always in wikipedia, you might want to note that you are not addressing a single author. - Kev 12/17/03
I now realize that I was incorrect about the reason the changes were made. However, I still believe that the changes are bad for the reasons I stated. On the NPOV dispute (replied to here in order to reduce the effort in conversation), I pretty much agree with you. I believe that the article can present the viewpoint of anarcho-capitalists in objective language and that any opposing viewpoints can be placed in the respective articles. For instance, what anarcho-capitalists think about various viewpoints can be stated here and links can be provided to sections in other articles that deal with another group's viewpoint on anarcho-capitalism (for example, [[libertarian socialism#views on anarcho-capitalism]]). I agree about prefacing the viewpoint exposition with something similar to what you proposed.
I have changed the header to one that makes it more clear that the article describes a controversial viewpoint and is not a debate message board. I hope that what I put is a good rendition. I have also removed the argument about whether "anarchy" is properly applied because it's extraneous (multiple definitions exist). Also, the argument is still covered in one of the links (Section F of the Anarchist FAQ, I believe), although it might be best to change the link description to indicate that disagreement about the use of "anarchy" is included there. I have also left other arguments in the article (such as whether the "forbears" of anarcho-capitalism would have supported it), because they aren't extraneous; they help the reader to understand anarcho-capitalism – Olathe December 18, 2003

I just wanted to note that the change of the "the neutrality of this article is disputed" link to the "Current disputes over articles" page might not be a good idea, given that the current dispute page begins with the warning: "Please do not add NPOV disputes to this page, but instead discuss them over on the expertly named wikipedia:NPOV dispute."

Given that the discussion itself is apparently supposed to be taken elsewhere, actually linking to the page when it says not to put neutrality disputes there might be even worse. Maybe it could be linked there in some other form, rather than explicity in the neutrality warning. Anyway, the NPOV dispute page does already link to this discussion, so that particular link might want to just point to either here, or the NPOV dispute page. - Kev 12/12/03

An attempt at peace...

I notice that one aspect of the present revert war is repeated back-and-forth sniping over the first sentence of the third paragraph: one side insists on anarcho-capitalism as a form of anarchism; the other side insists on anarcho-capitalism as "claimed to be" a form of anarchism.

Of course, the problem with the former is that it is a tendentious claim for anarchists who conceive of capitalism as inherently hierarchial, and conceive of economic bosses as just as subject to anarchist critique as political bosses.

The problem with the latter is that it replaces the tendentious claim with another one, while claiming neutrality. (Replacing "X is a form of Y" with "X is claimed to be a form of Y" superficially appears neutral, but carries a pretty clear implication that the claim in question is spurious. Imagine if an anarcho-capitalist went through a page on Kropotkin, and, allegedly to maintain NPOV, changed all the descriptions of Kroptotkin as an anarchist to descriptions of Kropotkin as a "putative anarchist" or "so-called anarchist".)

Of course, this mostly highlights the difficulties attendent on writing NPOV articles about bodies of ideas where the logical implications of those ideas are contested. But perhaps there is something of a middle ground available. The language I've suggested is to restate it in terms of anarcho-capitalists' self-description. "Thus, anarcho-capitalists describe their position as a form of anarchism, in the sense of anti-statism..." That anarcho-capitalists so describe their position could hardly be denied by either side; and noting the self-description leaves open the question of whether or not the description is accurate, without leaning in one direction or the other.

I've also made some other changes to the third paragraph. One of these changes is a matter of logical structure: I relocated some material from the second paragraph into the first sentence of the second paragraph, in order to elucidate what anarcho-capitalists mean by rejecting the state, and how it is a consequence of their position on markets and property. Another is to slightly flesh out the distinction between both positions and the colloquial use of "anarchy."

Another of these changes are related to NPOV. Since part of the debate on these issues is related towards whether or not anarcho-capitalists can be seen in continuity with individualist anarchists, it's tendentious to identify anti-capitalist anarchism with "traditional" anarchism simpliciter. Similarly, I have no idea whether most modern-day anarchists are anti-capitalist or anarcho-capitalist, and I doubt that there is any verifiable data on whether or not this is true. Better to say "many" and to link it explicitly to the traditions from which these criticisms come.

I doubt that anything we could come up with will resolve all points in this dispute or make everyone happy. But I hope that the introduction of a fresh perspective may make some progress possible.

Radgeek 19:02, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

More of the same

I've made a similar attempt at steering a sensibly conciliatory path in the first paragraph. The qualifier "which some credit as" on "Anarcho-capitalism is a view ... following in the traditions of both individualist anarchism and classical liberalism" is also a qualifier whose neutrality is dubious at best. (Particularly with the anonymizing "which some credit....") In its place, I have recommended "drawing from the traditions of classical liberalism and individualist anarchism." Whether anarcho-capitalism is best described as following the tradition of the individualist anarchists or perverting it, it can hardly be disputed that they draw from Tucker, Spooner, Nock, et al. (I assume that the relationship between anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism is not so hotly disputed.)

Radgeek 19:20, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Thanks for getting involved. Good work on expanding on a lot of the points; it should hopefully be very helpful. However, I should note that I tried that compromise using "draw from" in the intro myself (as an alternative to the previous "is a synthesis of"), and was attacked for it. The counterclaim is that ancapism does not draw from "anarchism" at all but solely from classical liberalism. To accommodate that objection, I weakened it to "incorporates", removing the causal aspect, to just say it includes views found in anarchism. But that too was spurned, and in fact (the recurring accusation) I was told I wasn't genuinely attempting a change/compromise at all. Perhaps the "synthesis" claim could be resurrected, because it doesn't seem to assume any causality. Anyway, I hope your rich contributions help with this dispute. -- VV 21:37, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Thanks, VV, for your kind words and for your notes on the history of the present debate. Whether this will ultimately be productive or not is something that we'll have to wait and see about; but I am enough of a Red to have some faith in consensus procedures and the possiblity of coming up with reasonable alternatives to most of these perpetual yea/nay slug-fests.
Of course, "draw from" is meant here in a particularly weak sense (leaving open the question of whether the stronger sense applies or does not apply) — the same sort of sense in which everyone might agree that Lenin "drew from" the ideas of Marx and Engels, or that both Ayn Rand and Martin Heidegger "drew from" the ideas of Aristotle. (You might argue, and I think you'd be right, that Lenin's socialism ultimately had more to do with Chernyshevsky than it did with Marx and Engels, in spite of Lenin's identification as an orthodox Marxist, and that his use of Marxism was mostly a perversion of what they taught. But no-one could deny that there's a pretty important sense in which Lenin drew from Marx. I don't actually think that the relationship between anarcho-capitalists and individualist anarchists is like this; but even if it were, the use of "drawing from" would hardly be a mistake.)
I tend to think that the most elegant, descriptive, and neutral way of putting it would be something like "synthesizes elements of classical liberalism and individualist anarchism." It cannot be denied that Spooner, Tucker, et al. were certainly important to, and respected by, people in the liberal anti-statist tradition (both before and after the development of the term "anarcho-capitalism," for what it's worth), and frequently reprinted and discussed in their circles. Whether they got these folks right is an independent question; here the important thing is that they got ideas and arguments (the "elements" of a political programme) from them that they didn't get from classical liberal minarchists. One might argue that anarcho-capitalism is just an appropriation of certain individualist anarchist ideas by a classical liberal ideology which is opposed to the essential features of individualist anarchism--but no-one said that synthesis had to be conducted on equal terms.
On another subject, I'd be interested to add some material to the entry on the anti-statist flavor of libertarianism that emerged more or less independently of the emergence of Rothbard Austro-libertarianism: i.e., the circle around Bob LeFevre, Roy Childs, and Rampart College / Rampart Journal of Individualist Thought. I have some knowledge, and a lot of material, from them at hand, and can start plugging away at some of it, but my knowledge is by no means exhaustive or even particularly systematic, and I was wondering if folks here have anything that they can put up about it.
Cheers. Radgeek 23:14, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I see another discussion has already started below, but I wanted to add to the comments already made here, particlarly since I hadn't before noticed the additional section "An attempt at peace" above!

First, I definitely think the synthesis version works well (Although synthesizing elements almost seems redundant, since a synthesis presumably couldn't draw entirely from one of the movements and thus only takes "elements".), but I made arguments similar to yours before and they did not go over very well. The synthesis assertion got pounded with qualifiers such as "is perceived to be" and so on, so I tried "draws from", then "incorporates", then finally let it collapse to "some credit as".
As for the "is a [sic] claimed to be a form of anarchism" dispute, it too has a history. The original claim that ancapism "is a form of anarchism" was of course attacked, so I tried "considered a form...". But then qualifiers such as "sometimes" were sought, and I proposed "often", and back and forth it went. Since the claim that anarchism just means "no state" was rejected, but that does seem to be the ancap interpretation, I offered that there were de facto (by usage) different senses of anarchism, one could say a "literal" and an "organic" meaning.
*Which is which? The literal meaning of the word anarchism is rather uncontroversially "absence of rulers," or maybe "no rulers," straight from the greek. The organic meaning could be said to be any meaning other than the literal one, thus chaos and riots in the streets, rejection of all forms of coercive hierarchy, anti-statism, or almost anything else people might imagine. BTW, I really like the "pounded with qualifiers" description above. - Kev
VV Literal: No government. Organic: Beliefs/movement/actions of self-described.
So your evidence for "no government" being the literal definition of the word rather than "no rulers" would be? - Kev
VV Rather than get sidetracked on the "literal" concept, I'll re-emphasize the main point, the de facto multiple senses.
Sure, no denying that. Feel free to offer it up as "an anarcho-capitalist interpretation of the word anarchism." I don't recall ever rejecting any such statement. - Kev
VV Obviously a negative formulation; hence, in the sense of anti-statism.
I then tried "is a form of anarchism in the sense of anti-statism". That, however, did not do the trick, as the "claimed to be" battle attests. I do feel the "in the sense" part should only be needed if it is not within an attribution, including "describe their position as".
Also, you mentioned below the "so-called possessive property" phrase. I used so-called because it's not clear what the phrase means, and clearly it's meant to be a term of art. Just saying "possessive property" with no definition is not clear. It was not meant to weaken the phrase, but to note that it is a piece of terminology (and in this case from a wholly different viewpoint).
*Given that this wholly different viewpoint is precisely what is being explicated in that sentence, I don't see anything inappropriate about using their terminology to describe their position. Anyway, a page dedicated to the meaning of the word for individualists and linked to from its use here would satisfy your objection. Though I do find the objection a little strange, given that you didn't much like it when I tried to indicate that "free market" was being used in the sense of a market free from interferance by government. You said that it was a technical term and didn't need qualification, yet here you are saying that a term needs qualification because it is technical. - Kev
VV But it was linked to free market, which at any rate is a well-known term. Link "possessive property" to a descriptive article and no prob. Also I added the parenthetical "in the sense of", maybe do that here too?
Whatever floats your boat. - Kev
VV Clarity does.
But only in certain, very telling, cases. - Kev
VV Fine, go on and tell me about my "biases". You obviously have me all figured out. (But you're not a "mind-reader", that's me.)
As for the revert war you mentioned, it mostly centered around Aaron reverting my proposed anti-capitalist anarchism back to traditional anarchism, a recurring thorn of late.
*I was under the impression that it centered on the "traditional anarchism" edit being reverted back to "socialist anarchism," the "anti-capitalist anarchism" bit was much more recent. - Kev
VV Yes, more recent was referred to. Also the "reverts back" were almost always unreverts.
Lol, almost always, as in, after the first time you reverted an edit that someone else made, your subsequent reverts were unreverts of the reverts that they made to put their edits back in. I love your rhetoric VV. When you revert it is "unreverting." When others revert it is "stonewalling." - Kev
VV Ahistorical, but I'd be wasting my time rehearsing why.
However, I pulled other edits, in particular the bit about "... the absolute rejection of all government, including that of property", to me obviously presumptive and indeed obnoxious.
*Why is it presumptive and obnoxious to clearly state the position of anarchists (anti-capitalist anarchists) in a sentence specifically refering to them? They do believe that non-possessive property is a form that government takes. We even presented you with dictionary definitions which strongly affirmed the claim that this was so by definition, when you challenged that claim. What is more, you then admitted that there was a "weak" sense in which the claim was correct. Thus, I am greatly confused that a statement refering specifically to a given POV, one that you admit is correct "in some sense of the words," would be not only be "presumptive" but even "obnoxious" to you - Kev 12/12/03
VV It asserted the position. Your dictionary definition argument was a joke.
Because? We claimed that property was a form of government by definition, you seemed to deny this (I say seemed because as usual you didn't even bother to address it, you just wrote it off with a snide remark). How else would we demonstrate that one word is entailed by another "by definition" other than to give the relevant definitions? - Kev
VV By definition claims are almost always problematic,
Fine, but that would be a complaint about the type of argument in general, not this particular instance. At the time, you made no mention of this whatsoever, you simply scoffed at the very idea that it could be government by definition. When you were given rather clear evidence on the matter, you then wrote the entire thing off as "a joke." - Kev
not least because dictionaries do not always capture the sense precisely enough for such fine distinction. But that is not even at issue here, as multiple definitions were listed, of varying scopes and strengths, and you chose those which suited you.
Of course we did. No one claimed that property is government by "every possible definition and conception known to man." The fact that it is government by even one conception (much less several), one directly applicable to its use in this essay, is plenty enough for all the points made to stand. Of course, if you bothered to read my responses in the first place, you will probably notice that I never actually made this claim. I only tempted you into denying it. - Kev
Even that is not at issue, as your claim is indefensible anyway. Many (perhaps most) political thinkers regard property rights as prior to government.
I'm not sure if I should dismiss this as a bandwagon ploy or a call to authority. Maybe both. Regardless, both of these statements would be (if they were not blatant fallacies) arguments against the position, not evidence that the claim is outright "indefensible." But you are rather keen on making your case sound stronger by using adjectives that your evidence can't support. So much for "clarity," but it makes good rhetoric for those who don't notice the inconsistency. - Kev
VV The indefensible claim is that it's by definition, which excludes these views, whether fallacious in your view or not. And spare me your rhetoric.
You even seem to recognize this, with your "possessive" (and "self") distinction.
You lost me on that one. Possessive property and claims against property as a part of the self require that property rights are "prior to" government? - Kev
VV You seem to regard anarchy as consistent with poss property. Somehow not gov't by definition?
I admitted no such thing; this is a perfect example of how you don't even pay attention to what I say, the "straw-man" brouhaha being another. I noted govern has other "weak" senses ("mit governs the dative"), as possess has strong ones. -- VV 01:08, 13 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I see, so govern has other weak senses, none of which entail or imply or really have anything to do with the definition of property, eh? Cripes VV, you say that my argument was a joke, and here you are the one making me laugh. - Kev 12/12/03
VV You seem to have not addressed my largest concern, your gross misattribution.
No VV, I readily admitted that, if you are actually presenting the position I outlined above, "govern has other weak senses, none of which entail or imply or really have anything to do with the definition of property" then I did indeed make a gross attribution. You see, when you said, "government has other weak senses" I mistakenly thought you meant that it could in fact share some of the definition of property. But apparently my attempt at sarcasm yesterday was actually a point-on presentation of your position. So sorry, had no idea you were seriously presenting that kind of declaration, I have indeed made a gross, nay, even an egregious, misattribution. One that I have unrelentingly pounded you with in my "ridiculous," "incomprehensible," and "absurd" responses. A wonder you even bother anymore, with adjectives like that to back up your lack of arguments.. - Kev 12/13/03
VV Said govern not government. Look again (you obviously haven't). Anyway, I see your incivility has continued unabated. Dare I speculate about what this says about you? -- VV 01:39, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Anyway, as you can probably guess this has been a frustrating experience for me, with my motives constantly questioned and much of what I have written here airily dismissed. Perhaps that's what I get for sticking my fingers into controversial issues. I hope you fare better. You certainly seem to have the energy, perspective, and attitude to do so. -- VV 09:16, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Dec 11

Hello Rad, welcome to this page, and thank you very much for what is obviously a sincere attempt to work through these disputes. I very much appreciate many of your edits, even a few that I don't agree with I'm hard pressed to view as worse than any of the alternatives that came before. However, I still think there are a number of points we could work on. I should note that a some of these points are not addressing your edits in particular. Rather, they are parts of the text that I hope you can help us to move past the dead-lock on as you did well with several other parts.

1) "Individuals may take any legitimate steps within their property, including the self-defensive use of force, to protect whatever they have gained from such contracts."

This claim, like the pre-existing, "Anarcho-capitalists, like classical liberals in general, think that violence should be reserved purely for self-defense of person and property." really requires that somewhere in the text (preferably prior to or immediately after the first instance of such a claim) it is detailed exactly what is meant by "self-defense" in this scenario. Since capitalists often legitimate the use of force even in cases where the physical body of the property owner is in no danger, these claims could be mistaken for ruling out such behavior when they do not. This is potentially all the more misleading because the wikipedia link could support such a conclusion as well, "Defendants who use this defense argue that they should not be held liable for what is normally a crime, since the actions taken were intended to protect the defendant or others from danger." Even amongst those who consider property to be an extension of the self to such a degree that self-defense could refer to either property or the body interchangably, I think most would be hard pressed to claim that a "defendant" in some case was necessarily in actual danger when, say, a trespasser is forcibly ejected from their property. Thus we can have cases when force, perhaps even violence, is used but the defense is clearly of property and not the self, unless we assume as above that property is an integral part of the self, something not explicated anywhere in the text.

So I think that there are at least three alternatives. One, the sentences could be rewritten to refer to defense, rather than self-defense. Or two, self-defense could be defined in the text as refering to defense of property as well, given that it is often claimed by capitalists to be an extension of the self. Or three, both sentences could be edited to the very cumbersome "including but not limited to the self-defensive use of force," and "purely for self-defense of person and defense of property."

Thanks for pointing out some of the weaknesses in these passages. As I think we agreed below, all of these discussions need to be qualified with a discussion of proportionality in defensive force. The easiest thing to do might be to put together a new section early on which explicitly deals with the Non-Initiation Of Force principle, which mentions proportionality of defensive force to the threat as an important legal principle for many (although not all) a-c's. Such a discussion ideally could also include the a-c application of NIOF to property, which most would either categorize as (1) a defense of the part of the self (as some would have it) or (2) self-defense against having one's labor retroactively conscripted into slavery (as others would have it). This would also be a good place to mention the issue of possessive property. (In the future, it would also be a good place to mention Georgist arguments on the nature of land ownership.)

2) While I know that many credit Anarcho-capitalism as drawing ideas from individualism (indeed, all the anarcho-capitalists who know the basics of their history seem to follow Rothbard in this), I myself am hard-pressed to find which ideas they are specifically refering to. For example, in a number of Wendy McElroy's articles she explains that Rothbard synthesized anarcho-capitalism in part from individualism because "Rothbard praised the two great 19th century American anarchists not only for realizing that government and individual liberty were incompatible, but also for exploring the ways in which individuals could cooperate together without the State to achieve what Tucker called a 'society by contract.'" But what I find curious about this claim is that many individuals in the history of classical liberalism and even some in libertarianism in general did exactly this, realized that government and individual liberty were incompatible, and explored ways that individuals could cooperate to achieve a stateless society. So I wonder what exactly is it that Rothbard drew from individualism in particular, rather than just as easily from classical liberalism in particular of libertarianism in general? We could say "its anarchism, duh" but that assumes the capitalist position at the outset, that anarchism is nothing more than mere anti-statism. What is more, there were anti-statist capitalists in the other traditions that Rothbard himself drew from. Obviously we couldn't just say that he adopted the general economics of individualists, not only because in that facet he relied almost entirely on folks like Mises and Molinari, but also because contrary to the individualists he endorsed rent, usury, and wage, all of which stemmed (in his mind) from a rejection of the theory of labor value that individualists embraced. So maybe I would have less problems with the claim "anarcho-capitalism draws ideas from individualist-anarchism" is you could give me a couple examples of ideas that actually came explicitly from individualist-anarchism that are not present in prominent figures of the other ideologies Rothbard expressly drew from. Because it seems to me that if there isn't a distinguishing factor between the ideas it claims to draw from individualism and those ideas that were also present at the time in say classical liberalism, then maybe there is some other more primary field common to both that it is actually drawing the ideas from (like say libertarianism). If this were the case, then Rothbard's high regard for Tucker and Spooner would not indicate that they were actually the source of the ideas, but rather that they were praise-worthy examples of a parallel. And anyway, no one is arguing that Rothbard did not claim to borrow from individualism, just that it was in fact a claim.

All of these are quite reasonable worries, and I'll discuss some of them directly below. But I do also think there's an argument to be made for a more liberal use of terms regarding to influence, drawing from, etc. If you look at the articles that were being printed in, for example, Rampart Journal, it's clear that material from Spooner, in particular, and the individualist anarchists more broadly, was in heavy circulation more or less from the get-go. (Rothbard was not closely associated with the Rampart circle, but he did read and publish in the journal.) So while there are certainly some writings within the liberal tradition that could have, and did, contribute explicit anti-statist arguments to Rothbard and to other early a-c's, and while many (especially Rothbard, who had a very wide and deep sense of the history of thought) were aware of, and signed on to, classical liberal arguments from folks like Molinari and the early Herbert Spencer (who I have a bit more to say about below), I think that, chronologically and logically, it makes just as much sense to say that he got it from the individualist anarchists as it does to say he got it from the classical liberals. (If he'd gotten his anti-statism from Von Mises, then I'd say that Austro-libertarianism should have pride of place in the account of what Rothbard drew from, and both Molinarian anti-statist liberalism, and individualist anarchism, should have a distinctly subsidiary place in the list. But he didn't get it from Von Mises; Von Mises was a ultra-minarchist, not an anti-statist.)
In any case, folks like Rothbard and LeFevre could have gotten anti-statism independently of their reading of the individualist anarchists. (Indeed, they could have gotten it independently of Molinari, too; Roy Childs became known as something of an enfant terrible in libertarian circles for his open letter to Ayn Rand, which argued that anarcho-capitalism was logically implied by Objectivist ethics--and his arguments applies just as well to any libertarian system based on a strict NIOF principle.) But the historical data seems to me to indicate that they didn't get it that way. So I'd argue that the attribution of "drawing from" the i-a tradition should be kept even if everything in a-c could have been derived purely from classical liberalism as it stood at the time. Radgeek 16:44, 13 Dec 2003 (UTC)

So again, if you could present a couple of these ideas, or explain to me why the claim of drawing from the individualist tradition would be valid even if we can't distinguish the source of these ideas, I would appreciate it.

That said, here are a couple points on which the influence of individualist anarchism weighed heavier than the influence of classical liberals like Molinari.
(1) The adoption of the term "anarchism" - Molinari, in particular, did not speak of freedom from government; he spoke of freedom of government, and what a-c's would call "defense agencies" today he called "competing governments." As far as I'm aware, it's from the individualist anarchists that Rothbard and later a-c's got the words "anarchy," "anarchism," etc. as descriptions of what they want and what they believe. Of course, you might argue that it's a very small point whether you fancy it a form of anarchism or don't fancy it a form of anarchism--after all, we ought to be more concerned with the concepts and the arguments used than with the letters A-N-A-R-C-H-.... I have a certain amount of sympathy for that feeling, but I do think there are some important senses in which this is relevant. First, terminology is often a potent sign for where influence comes from; the peculiarities of the argot that you use doesn't define the logical content of your position, but it does play a very heavy role in distinguishing its dialectical position--who you engage with as your conversation partners, where you locate your position within various traditions and movements, etc. (As a parallel example, think of the transition from the late 1960s terminology of "Women's Liberation" to the early 1970s terminology of "feminism." In some sense, this was mainly a terminological shift; the analyses that had been developed within the movement didn't make any decisive break in their logical content. But it was hardly a superficial change; calling it "Women's Liberation" aligned the movement with the theory and practice of the New Left, whereas "feminism" represented a major break from the New Left and a re-alignment with 19th century feminism--which the New Left had widely reviled through the old Marxist caricatures of the feminists as racist, classist, etc. stodgy "Bluestocking" liberals.)
Second, closely associated with the first point, some of the decisive arguments against the monopoly State for early a-c's were not those of Molinari, who mainly appealed to economic arguments on the anti-competitive nature of monopoly government. They came from the moral and legal arguments in Spooner's "No Treason" (and other works), and in Spencer's "The Right to Ignore the State." (The early Spencer was working in the British classical liberal tradition; but his thought--or rather, proper understanding of his thought, as opposed to eugenicist perversions of it--came to America mostly through Benjamin Tucker's journal Liberty. Another reason, from the opposite direction, for a nuanced picture of the relationship between individualist anarchism and classical liberalism / libertarianism.)
Additionally, there are some specific debates within anarcho-capitalism where the individualist anarchists loom large. One especially clear example is the debate over intellectual property. While many anarcho-capitalists (including Rothbard) have defended the concept intellectual property, there are also many who reject it. Those who do reject it usually acknowledge a debt to the individualist anarchists--Tucker and "Tak Kak" in particular. While the anti-statist liberals (Molinari, Spencer, etc.) more or less univocally came out for copyright and/or patent restrictions, the individualist anarchists were divided (Spooner more or less supported Spencer's position; Tucker and "Tak Kak" opposed). Of course, opposition to IP is not a canonical part of anarcho-capitalism or of individualist anarchism, since they have both been divided on the issue. But the point I want to make here is the way in which debates and specific arguments from within the individualist anarchist tradition have weighed into the debates and specific arguments within the a-c tradition, and have contributed elements to the discourse that could not be gotten from the classical liberals. The same, I think, can be said of other debates; IP is useful just as an example that I know pretty well and where the decisive influence is very clear. Radgeek 16:44, 13 Dec 2003 (UTC)

3) "anti-capitalist anarchism" Not refering to your edits here but hoping you can help with what is evidently an impasse. I understand why a capitalist would see this as a neutral disambiguation, but if the controversy over the use of the term "anarcho-capitalist" revolves around the very meaning of the word "anarchism," then doesn't it assume the "anarcho-capitalist" position to refer to what would otherwise be "anarchists" as "anti-capitalist anarchists?" In other words, to refer to them as "anti-capitalist anarchists" basically drives home the argument that anarchism is not itself anti-capitalist. Arguably, we should be assuming the anarcho-capitalist position in the context of the anarcho-capitalist page. However, the mere existence of this page and the explication of the philosophy is just that, I don't see a need for endorsing their terminology in said page, especially when "anarcho-capitalists" are still refered to by their chosen title outside of this page. Most of the alternate labels seem to have this exact same problem, "anarcho-socialist," for example. Libertarian socialist was a compromise I initially supported, but two faults have arisen with this term as well, first that it potentially excludes large parts of the anarchist community from these comparisons and claims (individualists, egoists, etc), and second that it rather arbitrarily pushes everyone other than "anarcho-capitalists" right out of the anarchist title while tellingly leaving the capitalists still in when making direct comparisons. I personally prefer "traditional anarchist" but this is argued against based on the claim that anarcho-capitalists have a tradition (something I don't think anyone denies or would be indicated by the label), even if it is inserted with the caveat "this is not meant to deny that anarcho-capitalists have a tradition of their own." I also think, though I'm sure no one will accept it here, that "anarchist" is perfectly acceptable, given that the anarcho-capitalists are always refered to in the article with the hyphen and many if not most believe that they did not actually arise from anarchism at all (but rather use the term simply as a descriptive given the meaning they ascribe to it, or perhaps remove from it).

However, given the apparent reality that neither of these labels will be accepted, I was considering this. Why not just remove the whole "for the purposes of this article this contrasting position will be refered to as... blah blah blah" and instead refer specifically to "collectivist anarchist" and "individualist anarchist" whenever appropriate? At times this might be a bit wordy, when both collectivists and individualists share the same criticism of capitalism or whatever, but in some areas it would also better distinguish between the various criticisms offered, thus indicating exactly which ones are made by individualists and which ones by collectivists. It would also finally solve the problem of inappropriate labels, because both of these labels are accepted by the people they refer to and they leave the terms on relatively equal grounds concerning referance to "anarchism." Of course taking this option would require that several sentences be rewritten carefully as well.

4) "anti-capitalist anarchists often argue against the claim by noting that each of these individuals rejected some aspect of capitalist economics."

All the arguments I have seen from anarchists on this subject state that these individuals rejected capitalist economics as a unit, rather than merely an aspect thereof. Of course, we could reduce any argument this way, claiming that Marx only rejected "aspects" of capitalist economics, or that pacifism only rejects "aspects" of violence. Regardless, I think there is good evidence that these individuals rejected more in capitalism than "some aspect" implies, and even if that isn't the case it certainly is the argument offered by anarchists ("anti-capitalist anarchists"), which is all that is stated here.

5) "and their emphasis on voluntary and free market-based approaches to social problems."

Two quibbles here. First, voluntary is used now several times in this page without being defined. This is a problem because the claim that capitalist relations are voluntary is heavily contested and it is currently being used in part to contrast their stance with others. However, with the introduction of this sentence the defining of the term becomes critical, because most of the individuals in question did not believe that capitalist economic relations were voluntary. What is more, they did not believe that a market which included what was often refered to as "coercive usury" would be a free market. So, in essence, when we are saying that the capitalists emphasize the emphasis (not my fault, that really is the way it is written :p) on voluntary and free markets, we are neglecting to mention that the capitalists own emphasis on voluntary and free markets is in a different sense of both words! In other words, capitalists do emphasize what they believe to be voluntary and free markets, but not the voluntary and free markets that individualists did. The only voluntary relations and free market-based approaches being emphasized here are the capitalist ones, so in essence we are saying that the capitalists emphasize a capitalist approach and using a trick of rhetoric to over-lay this onto a parallel but very different claim on the part of individualists.

6) "Most anarcho-capitalists agree with the individual anarchist conception of government as an evil against natural law"

A number of modern individualists reject natural law, I'm actually trying to think of any I know right now who endorse it. Perhaps more importantly, many of them now lately reject the particular moralist framework that would entail claims of "evil" in the form of a non-human ideology or basic theoretical institutions. I'm not sure how this could be rewritten to account for this. Maybe just a reduction to the, "all agree with the individualist anarchist judgment that government is unnecessary and inefficient," that can actually account for everyone in both traditions?

7) "with anarcho-capitalists being much more inclined than the individualist anarchists were to accept that features such as wage labor, rent, and corporate organization of commerce would arise naturally in a free society."

I think this looks past part of the individualist criticism. Many individualists do not follow along the same classical liberal conception that just means entail just ends. If fascism arose naturally in a free society individualists would still universally resist it, so it isn't merely that individualists argue that these things would not arise in a free society (though that is an important part of it), but also that they are in themselves antithetical to the freedom of any society they do arise in.

8) "but which they should not and will not impose on others as long as their own rights are respected."

It is important to note that many others simply have a different conception of rights. As such, these people would happily respect the rights of capitalists according to, for example, a socialist ethic, but to a capitalist this could very well be a violation of capitalist rights according to the capitalist ethic. Thus, to the socialist a capitalist would indeed be imposing their own system on others when they enforce/defend the capitalist conception. Of course, all of this is already qualified as what the capitalists defend, thus more or less indicating a claim, but it might be more clear to write something along the lines of "will not impose on others as long as their own capitalist rights" or maybe "property rights" or just "their own conception of rights is respected." In other words, if people don't violate the capitalist rights, anarcho-capitalists won't violate the whatever rights of the other party. (personally I'm not so sure if this would even be the anarcho-capitalist claim. Some I know only claim that they would not impose their system onto those who have the same basic conception of rights, they are under no obligation to refrain from enforcing their system in the face of competing rights systems. In other words, they only object to enforcing their economic system if one assumes their economic standards at the outset.)

This problem also applies to this passage, "They tend to loathe violent action and revolutions as a "normal" way to promote or impose their views"

and this passage, "There is no history of violence, terrorist or otherwise, perpetrated by anarcho-capitalists to impose their system."

This passage is especially problematic because many anarcho-capitalists claim that medieval Icelanders were anarcho-capitalist, or even that individuals in the "wild west" in American history were anarcho-capitalist. These people undeniably used violence to defend their system according to anarcho-capitalists, impose it according to many others. So at the very least this claim is disputed and needs to be stated as a claim. VV might want to pay particular relevance to this, as previously the discussion seemed centered on anarcho-capitalists in the present government systems.

9) "Many anti-capitalist anarchists, on the other hand, criticize the anarcho-capitalist reading of the individualist anarchists, and argue that their criticisms of capitalist practices are essential to individualist anarchism."

Trying to get my head around a potential technical problem. I assume "their" is meant to refer to the individualist anarchists, but I can't tell if from a grammatical standpoint "their" would default to the other two parties mentioned previously. Should this just be split into two sentences (already long anyway)? The second reading something like "The anti-capitalists argue that the individualist criticisms of capitalist...."


"Those who accept this critique typically"

Is just as well written "These anti-capitalist anarchists (as the label stands atm)," since we already made clear who it was making this argument and "those who accept this critique is just an extraneous qualifier.

10) "Anarcho-capitalists have very widely differing social views, ranging from the conservative and often religious paleolibertarians to moderate liberals to the far Left."

Not an edit or criticism or anything. Just curious. Have you ever actually met or heard of an anarcho-capitalist on the "far left?"

If I count as an anarcho-capitalist (which is an issue that could be argued at great length with lots of arguments and quibbles on both sides) than I am one such anarcho-capitalist. If I'm too much of a Red to count as an a-c, exactly, then my friend and former teacher Roderick Long is one such. For what it's worth, what I mostly had in mind when I split up these three categories were (1) Von Mises Institute paleolibertarians, (2) the anarcho-capitalist end of the Reason magazine crowd, and (3) Roderick, respectively. Radgeek 04:58, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

11) "The only important political issue, however, is that people are free from the threat of violence no matter which community they live in"

A question, again not an edit. I know many anarcho-capitalists accept lethal violence as a direct defense against an attacker. But isn't it true that some of them even accept capital punishment of already subdued criminals? Well, at least, I have heard of people claiming to be anarcho-capitalists making such a claim. Given that, wouldn't it be clear that an underlying threat of violence does exist in certain anarcho-capitalist communities for certain degrees of social deviation? I'm sure we could always claim that those anarcho-capitalists are not actually anarcho-capitalists, but for some reason I doubt many people would want to get into that kind of claim atm.

Some a-c's accept after-the-fact retaliatory violence, other's don't. (Of course, all non-pacifist a-c's accept after-the-fact force to procure just compensation from the rights-violator.) I suppose that those that do might very well sign on all the way up to capital punishment, although I don't have any first-hand testimony one way or the other on the issue. In any case, punitive vs. compensatory-only justice, in general, is a hot debate within a-c legal theory at the moment, and ideally should be mentioned somewhere in the article. But "threat of violence" here means threat of aggressive violence, and the whole issue between punitive and anti-punitive a-c's is whether punitive violence counts as an initiation of force or as a form of defensive force. So this issue should probably be broached somewhere earlier in the article, as a qualification on all subsequent discussions re: defensive force. Radgeek 04:58, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

similarly, What they don't disagree about is which of these communities ought to be legal--they should all be allowed in a free society.

I don't think this is positing an absence of law, since that is a cornerstone of anarcho-capitalist theory. So I'm assuming this is positing an absence of law enforcement on communities of dissenters? But doesn't that assume a few important conditions, like for example said dissenters not being say, "in dept" or in violation of other capitalist standards? For example, if a group of renters suddenly has a change of political ideology and decides that their claims to intimacy or maybe labor-mixing with a given property gives them the right to dissent from rent while continuing to occupy the land, certainly they would be considered in violation of several standards of capitalist law, and thus in all relevant senses their community (which given the vague data thus far could be capitalist or communist or whatever, just a different property justice standard) would be illegal?

12) "though most of them defend the necessity of violent action against criminal acts"

This makes it sounds like capitalists are nutzos who would use violence against a shoplifter. Obviously a pacifist would deny the "necessity" of violent action against criminal acts. In fact, so would many non-pacifists anarcho-capitalists who would only see a necessity of enforcement, or others who do not even endorse automatic enforcement against all criminal acts. Maybe "though most of them defend violent action against particular criminal acts," or something like that. Anyway, the "necessity" part is highly problematic.

I agree that "necessity" is problematic (certainly a-c's don't believe that there is some enforceable duty to use defensive violence--although they may certainly believe that it's a very good idea. Similarly, "violent action" muddies the case and neglects the principle of proportionality that many a-c's endorse. Probably "right to use defensive force" or somesuch would be better, and somewhere or another where defensive force is used, a brief mention of proportionality should be included. Radgeek 04:58, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I agree that it is very important to include proportionality here. It is a source of many misunderstandings when it is not made clear that anarcho-capitalists only legitimate defensive force/violence used in proportion to the act they are defending against. - Kev 12/12/03

13) "the right of anyone to secede from a government he considers unfit should be respected (see secession and urban secession). If not, then non-cooperation is morally justified (see civil disobedience). "

Another question. I assume this doesn't just mean to leave a government, otherwise it would be tantamount to saying that anarcho-capitalists don't endorse civil disobediance in a huge number of modern-day countries. Rather, I would think it means something along the lines of "can remove their home/land from the monopoly of enforcement by a government." But if this is the case, would it be possible for an individual who owns no land to secede from the local enforcement agencies that work for landowners in the area? In other words, yes this renter can leave, just like the individual in many states can, but can they legitimately claim to remove themselves from the enforcement power of a given owner/agency while still in a jurisdiction it claims (as seems to be the case in the state example used)?

14) Heh, another quesiton: "that governments represent natural monopolies rather than coercive monopolies on the defensive use of force."

So are we saying that if a government arose that was a natural monopoly the anarcho-capitalist would have no objection? If so, then we must have a very very strict definition of state that coincides perfectly as only those governments which arise with coercion. Does this mean that, in theory, one could develop some fascist government in perfect accord with anarcho-capitalist values so long as it arose as a natural monopoly, and that the most severe response by an anarcho-capitalist would be a boycott of such a government once it was instituted and abused its power? This is a startling claim in the presence of the earlier admission to selectively endorse the use of large-scale conflict against particular countries viewed as aggressors.

15) "(b) that anarcho-capitalism will make it more likely for coercive monopolies (in the form of local plutocracies) to form."

This is a call for an edit, I think. Couldn't there also be C) "that the natural monopolies are or can be coercive monopolies?"

16) "beyond so-called possessive property"

Why is this so-called? I mean, of course, it is so-called, but so is everything. Why is this being emphasized?

I agree that this phrase should be struck. I didn't endeavor to do it yet because I was occupied with other issues and didn't want to broach or expand on this one just yet. I think that the best thing to do is simply strike the "so-called" and provide a link that explains what possessive property is taken to mean. Or some similar solution. Does such a link target already exist, or will it have to be created? Further thoughts on phrasing? Radgeek 04:58, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Now I have to sheepishly admit that I don't think such a link has been created yet. There is currently a page for possession, which details three different meanings of the word, one of which is "possession is also a type of ownership supported by some proponents of anarchism who seek to abolish private property as an institution of coercion." But I don't know if that would be detailed enough for linking to in its current form. Maybe a brand new page linked to from here and from the possession page titled something like "anarchist possession" (indicating it as an anarchist concept, not something all anarchists agree on) or "individual possession." Anyway, I think I could make such a page but I'm not actually an advocate of possession per se, so I will instead try to invite a few individualist friends to come create the page themselves. Feel free to start a new page yourself if you have the time/desire. - Kev 12/12/03

17) "many anti-capitalist anarchists — though not those who identify with the tradition of individualist anarchism — approach these from a collectivist socialist standpoint"

This forgets egoists. As per my recommendation above, could this simply be, "many collectivist anarchists approach these from a socialist standpoint?"

Eeeek. Very long. Take your time in responding, I've got a few days left on my self-exile anyway. - Kev 12/11/03

Thanks, Kev, for your detailed and thoughtful respones. There's a lot of good stuff here to chew on, and as you propose, I'll take my time in responding. I'll interleave a couple of things in response to your post tonight, and add some more tomorrow. Radgeek 04:58, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Dec 13

O.K., so it took me a bit longer to come back to this page than I had thought. Some more comments on Kev's comments are interleaved. Radgeek 15:17, 13 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I think that, chronologically and logically, it makes just as much sense to say that he got it from the individualist anarchists as it does to say he got it from the classical liberals.

The case for that is strong enough that I would readily admit it can't be ruled out. But that is not too controversial, I doubt Rothbard would have claimed roots in individualism if it was clearly the case that he had no relation to it whatsoever. However, your above statement indicates the point that worries me. It might be that you were simply being generous in an attempt to foster civil dialogue, but if you meant what you said as a frank appraisal then it follows that it would also make just as much sense to say that he got it from the classical liberals as it does to say that he got it form the individualists. In other words, it is ambiguous, and as an ambiguous matter a claim concerning it really needs to be indicated as a claim. What pushes us toward claiming that it draws from individualism in an otherwise unclear determination is Rothbard's own assertions on the matter. This is also closely related to the arguments on the choice of the name "anarchism." However, while it is clear that Rothbard believed that anarcho-capitalism consisted, in part, of ideas from individualism, I don't think his belief alone is sufficient to assert that the ideas he drew were in fact (rather than just in claim) individualist ideas.

For example, someone who comes at this from the position that anarchism is more than anti-statism, something I think that both collectivist anarchists and individualists anarchists would agree on, would not feel inclined to view this otherwise ambiguous attribution of source to individualism merely because Rothbard claimed as much. I'm not saying anyone thinks that Rothbard was engaged in deception, only that there is good reason to believe that he selected out a particular part of the meaning of anarchism, one thus distinct from the one individualists themselves used when he declared himself an anarcho-capitalist. It would make sense, if one decided to refer to oneself as an anarchist for whatever reason (and motivations are not something important here), that one would attempt to back that up with some support by showing parallels between ones own philosophy and that of some group of anarchists. But obviously to the individualists who call themselves anarchists for much more than purely anti-statist reasons those parallels would be just that, similarities in two different traditions. So for these reasons I don't find the mere fact that these ideas heavily circulated in liberal and libertarian circles or that he specifically chose the name anarchism to be, in themselves, compelling reasons to rule out the qualifier "claim," especially given the controversial nature of the attribution. Many ideas circulate through many traditions, and many people claim many different titles for any number of reasons, I simply feel we would need more tangible evidence of a direct relation in order to overcome the worries that anarchism itself is being changed from even the most broad meaning it had to individualists even as we attribute the ideas to them.

What I find much more compelling is your knowledge of early anarcho-capitalists arguments against the state taken from Spooner in "No Treason" and other works. Perhaps I'm just not familiar with them, and learning about them might help me to better understand whether the arguments we are refering to are actually individualist arguments in general, or rather just arguments held by one individualist in particular (Spooner). Of course the distinction is important, for example if a nationalist of some variety claimed to draw from anarchism by refering to anti-semitic arguments made by Proudhon to buffer his rejection of the state, there would be good reason to reject the claim, or at least doubt it, because the anti-semitism is not itself required by or central to anarchism (some would even argue it is anti-thetical to anarchism), but rather simply a peculiarity of a single anarchist. In the context of wikipedia it would not be appropriate to delete or censor any such claims, as that would rule out a potentially valid conception, but to demarcate them as claims would be appropriate given their basis.

Thus, if you are refering, for example, to the "Natural Law" positions that Spooner held and their various entailments as one moral justification to reject the state, then I wonder if it would be appropriate to apply these back to a statement which indicates that the ideas are drawn from individualism itself. Of course Spooner was an anarcho-individualist and he believed in natural law, but he was also then and now in a small minority amongst anarcho-individualists on this point, often even ridiculed by other individualists who felt such beliefs were contrary to their views, which leads me to believe that individualism itself is agnostic on this issue. If that is the case, then his natural law arguments are not reflective of individualism itself, which would not necessarily imply or deny them, they are simply coincidental to it. So while in this case it would be correct to claim that "anarcho-capitalists draw certain ideas from an anarcho-individualist" or just "from Spooner" it would be misleading to conflate the person and the position and claim that "anarcho-capitalists draw ideas from anarcho-individualism." One could assert that the later is still appropriate by claiming that anarchism is anti-statism and thus arguments made against the state by an individualist must be anarcho-individualist arguments even if they are unique or rare, but in order to make this claim we must first assume the very point in contention, that anarchism is nothing more than anti-statism. There is also the minor point that Spooner believed that natural law had egalitarian entailments very distinct from Rothbard's conception, but if we accept that Spooner's natural law beliefs were not anarchistic per se the already tenuous point concerning the extent to which Rothbard borrowed from Spooner becomes a side issue.

However, if the arguments on the part of the individualists in question are not of this type, then I think this would be very compelling. Maybe there are some other arguments explicated by Spooner and central to or at least commonly associated with individualism (i.e. either universally or at least widely held by individualists) itself that I'm simply unaware of. If that is the case, and Rothbard used any of these arguments at the same time that he began refering to his position as anarcho-capitalism, then I think it would soundly put to rest my contention concerning the use of a qualifier in the claim that anarcho-capitalism draws ideas from individualism. So, in summary, I think (I may be wrong, but thus far the statements seem to indicate as much) that we are in agreement as to the potential ambiguousness of this issue. Given that, and given the controversy of the subject, I feel that the arguments from use of the term "anarchist" and wide circulation of articles and texts do not adequately put to rest the call for (what I personally believe to be) a rather minor qualifier that addresses the concern that the text currently skews toward a particular conception of the relationship between individualism and capitalism not universally held. However, I think the claim that there are identifiable individualist arguments being used expressly by early a-c proponents (in particular Rothbard), is definately a promising path if we account for the worry above about distinguishing between positions coicidental to particular individualists and integral to (or mostly anyway, its an organic matter) individualism itself.

So, I'm very interested in what knowledge you can provide me on the matter. (and I hope some of this made sense, been awhile since I sharpened the old philosophy axe)

For the rest, I substantially agree with you on everything you have commented on thus far. The section concerning porportionality and the non-initiaion of force, with a possible intro to possession somewhere therein, sounds fine. Of course I'll have to wait and see exactly how it is worded before giving a personal thumbs up, but from the sound of things thus far and your own short description in this dialogue I find nothing objectionable. - Kev 12/13/03

Dec 14

I don't see that there is anything calling for a response in your latest round of posturing VV, so I won't bother. If there is something up there you really think is relevant at all, please feel free to try to express it again minus all the condescension and cute adjectives. - Kev 12/14/03

Dec 16

My week of voluntarily ceasing to edit this page is over. I hope it has done some good for VV. I now intend to begin editing again. As I did the last time I took a two week break, I will begin to insert one edit at a time, explaining on the discuss page where necessary, and waiting a day or so before proceeding to the next. As with last time, if I find several of my edits reverted at once I will simply revert them back unless a compelling explaination is offered for each and every edit that is reverted. I will begin with edits that seem to have no objections or basic consensus. My first edit will be changing the link on the word "disputed" since that page specifically warns against putting NPOV disputes on it and that warning is precisely concerning an NPOV dispute. Since the discussion currently linked to is arguably important, however, I will place a new link to that as well. - Kev 12/16/03

Dec 17

Removed "so-called" as discussed above. There is currently no article specifically detailing the anarchist concept of possession, but the article that exists to disambiguation gives a brief account and is now linked to. Eventually a dedicated page might be a good idea, but it is important to have input of many different kinds of anarchists on this as the concept has many interpretations, so a vague referance for now would best account for all of them.

Also removed "so-called" from green anarchism, as a link already existed for it. - Kev 12/17/03

Dec 18

Now this is interesting. On the current dispute page Olathe argued that this page is about a POV, thus did not require a NPOV for its presentation. But now the header reads that this explaination of anarcho-capitalism is non-negotiable -because- it is NPOV. A POV article about anarcho-capitalism is for rather clear reasons not NPOV. Further, the use of "objective" in that header is misleading. I could easily write another parallel article to this one claiming that anarcho-capitalism was something else entirely and claim that it was an "objective" portrayal of a given POV on anarcho-capitalism. If the article is to say whatever anarcho-capitalists themselves want it to say, but nothing that people who are not anarcho-capitalists want it to say, then it clearly isn't neutral, but rather specifically biased toward the anarcho-capitalist POV. That, in itself, is fine with me. But to then add a header claiming neutrality and objectivity seems to rather stretch the boundaries of reason. POV the article all you want, but don't expect others to accept a header claiming NPOV and objectivity at the same time. - Kev 12/18/03

Is this an encyclopaedia or a propaganda leaflet? Should we let Nazis decide what goes on the Naziism page, or let them write the history of World War II from their own "objective" perspectives?

I had always assumed that objectivity meant displaying all viewpoints in a non-biased manner. I must voice my dissent with regard to the new changes. The point of the page is to give readers a good understanding of anarcho-capitalism - and our points are that anarcho-capitalism cannot be understood without also understanding, in a clear and unbiased fashion, the perspectives of the very people whose philosophy the ideology is based on. -- Aaron 11:20, 18 Dec 2003

I think there is definately some confusion on this page about what is meant by neutrality. So here are some quotes from the NPOV page to help out. In regards, for example, to the first sentence: "Perhaps the easiest way to make your writing more encyclopedic, is to write about what people believe, rather than what is so."

Thus, some people believe that anarcho-capitalism draws on the tradition of individualism, and some people do not. To state that anarcho-capitalism does draw on the tradition of individualism, when many if not most individualists themselves would disagree, is clearly non-neutral.

In regards to certain individuals not caring if all views are represented fairly: "Wikipedia has an important policy: roughly stated, you should write articles without bias, representing all views fairly."

It goes on to make a very important point about supposed objectivity: "This is easily misunderstood. The policy doesn't assume that it's possible to write an article from just one point of view, which would be the one unbiased, "objective" point of view. The Wikipedia neutrality policy says that we should fairly represent all sides of a dispute, and not make an article state, imply, or insinuate that any one side is correct."

The header, as it currently exists, disregards all of this.

Indeed, I think this article is currently headed in the wrong direction on two fronts now. Not only is it moving toward explicitly detailing only one POV without any address of contrary POVs, an explicit violation of NPOV policy. But it is doing so under the pretenses of being both neutral and objective. This is simply not satisfactory. - Kev 12/18/03

I have not argued that the article should be POV. I've argued that the article should objectively declare what anarcho-capitalists believe (objectively describe their POV). It shouldn't describe other groups' arguments against anarcho-capitalism because that would take several million bytes (for all the millions of groups that might have something to say about anarcho-capitalism). If there is contention about an issue such as where anarcho-capitalists objectively draw inspiration from, that is one thing, as it deals objectively with the anarcho-capitalist point of view. That another group wants the term "anarchism" for themselves as a sort of trademark because of the reputation they've earned for themselves through the use of it (or for whatever other reason) should be on that group's article, because it is their POV and hence on-topic for their article.

In other words, we should keep the article on-topic (specifically the POV of anarcho-capitalists), rather than discussing the POVs of other groups here just because anarcho-capitalists are the antagonists of the argument. For instance, if I started a POV called "Olathan anarchism", the historical anarchists would also not want me using the term anarchist for the same reasons. Should we copy the argument to each and every nonhistorical (or "incorrect"-definition-using) group that uses the name "anarchism" ? Would we copy the viewpoint that "Roman Catholics believe they are the true Christian church and all other churches have no claim to the name" to the articles on every single Protestant sect and vice-versa (leading to huge numbers of listings for each sect: "Roman Catholics believe that..." "Eastern Orthodoxers believe that..." "Southern Baptists believe that...") ? No, although we might include that in the Roman Catholic article because it is objectively part of their viewpoint.

My point was not that we abandon all objectivity, but that we keep the thing on-topic, without burdening the article with extraneous tangents. The key ideas I'm advocating are "stay on-topic" and "the topic is the point-of-view of anarcho-capitalists". I am not advocating an anarcho-capitalist free-for-all.

Olathe December 18, 2003

I'm not going to respond to the paragraph about arguments against anarcho-capitalism, as I've already repeatedly made my position clear on that and don't know who you are directing it toward. I agree that the article should stay on topic, and so long as the anarcho-capitalist POV is indicated to be such, you will find no complaints from me. I do think the header is currently far too unwieldy and redundant: "This article attempts to objectively explain the viewpoint of anarcho-capitalists."

If by this we mean that the article attempts to give a neutral presentation of the anarcho-capitalist POV, then it doesn't need to be said, as neutrality is the stated policy of all of wikipedia. If this is something more, like giving "the" objective POV, then it ought not to be said, as that is a violation of the neutrality policy. This pretty much applies to the entire thing, if you have a problem with the edits people are making and want to warn against certain ones or emphasize that certain edits are inappropriate, feel free to use encoding to add it to the edit page but not have it appear and take up so much space in the article itself. Or just bring it up in the talk page. In addition, you removed the NPOV dispute, which still stands and provides a link that puts this page on a list of NPOV disputes, where it currently belongs. So my edit for today will be a revert of that entire paragraph back to its previous state. - Kev 12/18/03

Dec 20

Hi folks. I'm not going to get involved in this debate, I'm just passing on something I put in The Machinery of Freedom and then decided would probably be better here. When you decide what you want to do with the article, you may want it.

Vernor Vinge published a short story, "The Ungoverned", set in a society based on the principles outlined by Friedman and focusing on how it would deal with crime, disputes, and invasion.

Cheers, Tualha 01:41, 20 Dec 2003 (UTC)

My edit for today will be the second sentence, which used to be the first sentence. I know this will raise a lot of hairs, but it has remained unmodified on the article page for almost two weeks now despite a great deal of discussion on this talk page. In regards to the neutrality policy I refered to above in conversation with Olathe, and the reasonable objections to the view that anarcho-capitalism specifically draws ideas form the individualist tradition that I discussed with Rad, I think that the minor modifier along the lines of "claim" (or whatever else will account for the fact that this is not an open and shut case) is valid. Again, this is in full keeping with the neutrality policy of wikipedia, especially since this is the first time in which this claim is dealt with in the article. Also, I'm still happy to accept evidence that arguments/ideas taken specifically from individualism were used by those who first declared themselves anarcho-capitalists, if they account for my previous contention that not all arguments made by individualists themselves necessarily represent individualism itself. - Kev 12/20/03

Dec 24

Today I have modified the section on individualism to more accurately account for the differences between the two theories. In several places the same words were being used to describe two distinct ideas, so some effort has now been made to indicate that there is more disagreement here than was previously apparent. This is discussed in more detail in my above responses to Rad. - Kev 12/24/03

Jan 1

Happy New Year's, all. Sorry I've been away for a while; holiday travel and other projects have kept me occupied.

I was rather alarmed to see some of the edits that have occurred while I've been away. In particular:

Thus, anarcho-capitalists describe their position as a form of anarchism, in the limited sense of being against certain state-like actions (for instance, coercion via personal violence, forcible reductions in personal liberty, private property destruction, or forcible private property transfer) rather than being against all hierarchy (for instance, coercion via withholding excess vital supplies). They believe that there are certain proscribed actions, but no proscribed inactions. Which actions are proscribed is a matter of varying opinion because the choice is subjective. For instance, some believe that an avenger killing a murderer a week after the murder is allowed for utilitarian or emotional reasons; some believe that it is proscribed for moral or philosophical reasons.

. . . and following paragraphs are completely unacceptable. I want to work for compromise solutions here, but this is diatribe and mischaracterization.

I can only say the same thing to you that I said previously to Olathe. You should be careful not to assume you know who the author of a given passage is if you haven't gone back and checked, and you should futher be careful not to assume their motivations. The person who wrote that passage clearly thinks he is protecting this article against misrepresentation by others, something I find a tad ironic. - Kev 01/03/03
Kev - I am sorry if you thought that I was picking on you specifically. I didn't mean to suggest anything in particular about who made the edits, just to comment on the edits themselves. (If I recall at least some of them were under an IP address in any case.) If I did convey that impression accidentally, I apologize. Radgeek 06:26, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Insofar as there is a need to distinguish between positive and negative conceptions of rights it should be done in a section on the Non-Initiation of Force Principle, not here. Moreover, the anarcho-capitalist position is simply manhandled in the process.

"against certain state-like actions ... rather than being against all hierarchy."

The issue, first, is not that certain actions are state-like, but rather that they are violations individual rights. Second, although some anarcho-capitalists look down their nose at egalitarianism, others do not. The reason is that anarcho-capitalism per se does not imply a commitment one way or the other. There are plenty of hierarchial social arrangements which are not violations of non-initiation of force (say, setting up a racially segregated dining hall on your own private property). Anarcho-capitalists can (and most anarcho-capitalists do) think that such things are stupid, and that they are indeed evil. They just don't think that they're initiations of force. (Justice is the not the only virtue. It's just the only virtue that's enforceable.)

"Which actions are proscribed is a matter of varying opinion because the choice is subjective." This is crap. It's a matter of "varying opinion" because there are hotly contested and unsettled philosophical debate. That doesn't mean that there aren't solidly argued reasons for choosing one side or the other in the debate, and it doesn't mean that there isn't an objective fact of the matter as to who's right and who's wrong.

Radgeek 03:59, 1 Jan 2004 (UTC)

The edit of this:

many were also influenced by specific individualist critiques of the State and individualist arguments for the right to ignore or withdraw from it. (Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority was widely reprinted in anarcho-capitalist journals.) Anarcho-capitalists also follow in the individualist anarchist condemnation of all forms of collectivist coercion, which are equated with state coercion.

To this:

Many anarcho-capitalists were also influenced by Lysander Spooner’s critique of the State and his arguments for the right to ignore or withdraw from it. (Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority was widely reprinted in anarcho-capitalist journals.)

is an inaccurate limitation of the statement. Spooner was certainly the most important of the individualists for early anarcho-capitalists, but he was not at all the only influence. Many early anarcho-capitalists disliked Tucker, but others saw him as an predecessor.

This passage did not refer to some vague influence, but to "specific individualist critiques of the State and individualist arguments for the right to ignore or withdraw from it." Seeing Tucker as a predecessor is not the same as drawing a specific individualist critique from him, so this is not evidence in support of the previous version of the passage. - Kev
But Kev, the passage as it has been redacted (and as it was originally was written) already gives a specific example. If you really want more mentions by name I can put some more together. Spooner is just an easy and well-known example of a general trend. As for Tucker, Rothbard among others frequently cited him in his writings. Here, for example, is how he listed his influences as of 1962:
"Originally, our historical figures were men such as Jefferson, Paine,

Cobden, Bright, and Spencer; but as our views became purer and more consistent, we eagerly embraced such near-anarchists as the voluntarist, Auberon Herbert, and the American individualist-anarchists, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin R. Tucker. One of our great intellectual heroes was Henry David Thoreau, and his essay, 'Civil Disobedience,' was one of our guiding stars. Right-wing theorist Frank Chodorov devoted an entire issue of his monthly, Analysis, to an appreciation of Thoreau." (MNR, "Confessions," Ramparts Vol. 6 1962, p. 50)

Again, I can come up with some more extended citations if they are needed. (Of course Rothbard was also very critical of Tucker on certain points: R. repudiated the labor theory of value, and he detested Tucker's attacks on natural rights theory. But he disagreed with just about all past writers on economics, and in the egoist vs. natural rights debates he was taking the side of one individualist anarchist faction — i.e. Spooner's — against another. Indeed, his ethical positions derived far more froom Spooner than they did from Von Mises, who was a subjectivist on questions of ultimate value.)

Liberty mainstays such as Auberon Herbert were widely reprinted and admired. Hebert Spencer's works were also tremendously important;

I do not understand why you are refering to two people who were not individualist anarchists in order to justify the the claim that anarcho-capitalism draws from arguments made by individualist anarchists. If you want to claim that it draws from arguments made in Liberty, then please feel free, but the fact that Liberty printed many works by people who were not individualist anarchists, like Spencer and Herbert, is not evidence that the later tradition of anarcho-capitalism drew from individualist anarchism. - Kev
Kev, I explain the citation below. Auberon Herbert was not part of the American individualist anarchist movement (since, among other things, he was not American, and not exactly an anarchist). But so what? Herbert was closely connected, intellectually, and the individualist anarchists saw him as making important contributions to their own project. The same goes for Herbert Spencer. As I say below, this is good reason to see the anti-statist liberal and the individualist anarchist traditions as being something other than entirely alien to each other — and not just in that modern anarcho-capitalists claim to draw on both. The individualist anarchists were also influenced by the anti-state liberals. (Tucker thought of his project as voluntary socialism; but he also thought of it as the logical completion of the liberal programme of free trade, and he said as much, frequently.) If you think that anarcho-capitalism is strictly the descendent of anti-state liberalism, without much in the way of significant input from individualist anarchists, then that simply makes it a sort of cousin of individualist anarchism rather than a descendent. And as I've argued here and before, there are several important ways that such a case falters.

he is properly classed as an anti-statist liberal rather than an individualist anarchist, but as it happens his thought mostly came to the United States through its being reprinted and discussed in Tucker's Liberty (another reason to be a bit suspicious of the attempt to treat the anti-statist liberal tradition and the individualist anarchist tradition as wholly alien to one another).

Radgeek 04:34, 1 Jan 2004 (UTC)

This phrase:

At the strongest, anarcho-capitalists merely defend capitalism (in the second sense of the term) as a legitimate choice among these forms of organization . . . which they should not and will not impose on others as long as their own conception of rights is respected.

Has been edited to:

At the strongest, anarcho-capitalists merely defend capitalism (in the second sense of the term) as a legitimate choice among these forms of organization, . . . which they should not and will not impose on others by force.

Dealing with the qualification was stylistically clumsy, but moreover unnecessary. However, I've brought this up because the phrase I deleted is illustrative of a certain kind of error.

Several times during the course of edits, statements making use of disputed concepts — "rights" being a case in point — has been "qualified" to say things like "their own conception of rights" instead of "their own rights" (similar things were done with claims about defense of property, etc.). The problem with such language is that the "qualification" actually just ends up making the sentence false: from the stand-point of the defensive use of force, anarcho-capitalists do not care about whether their conception of rights is respected; they care about whether their rights (under an a-c conception of rights) are respected. The former is a matter of philosophical agreement or disagreement, not a matter of aggression or defense. (A fascist can publish diatribes in favor of the right to shoot Jews at will all that s/he wants--but s/he cannot go out and shoot Jews at will.)

The general moral here is to make sure that if you qualify a particular claim in an effort to highlight the fact that a term is being used in a disputed way, you should make sure that the sentence is still about what it is was about before--that sentences about particular things remain about those things, rather than being about the thoughts, conception, or feelings of a particular group of people about those things.

Radgeek 05:05, 1 Jan 2004 (UTC)

A very good point. I didn't make any of these recent edits, but I have made such edits in the past and will try not to in the future. - Kev

Jan 2

This phrase:

Indeed, individualists would argue that a market which included usury and wage labor would not be free at all, and therefore relationships within could not be based on voluntary association.

has been struck from the discussion of points of agreement and disagreement between individualists and anarcho-capitalists; it is an inaccurate representation of the individualist position. (Tucker, for example, did not regard interest, rent, etc. as actual invasions against individual liberty; he regarded them as exploitative arrangements that were propped up by other, genuinely invasive institutions--such as government restriction of competition in banking and money, illegitimate restriction of homesteading on unused land, etc.)

Assuming this is correct (and I'm not so sure, I remember a quote of Tucker saying that usury deprived individuals of their earnings, and I have trouble believing that he thought a direct restriction of the collection of those earnings (i.e. rent, interest, etc) which is upheld by force would not be an invasion against their liberty), it still doesn't seem to apply to the above passage. As the article exists, it misleadingly conflates the "free" market that capitalists refer as the same one that individualists refer to, drawing a much closer illusory parallel then the evidence actually calls for. Individualists do not think that a market which includes capital relations is "free," many of them have said so many times, I would be happy to provide quotes if necessary. Further, the belief that capital markets are not "free" markets is not limited to Tucker. Are we in agreement that individualists did not view capital as a part of "free" individual relations? If not, I'd be happy to provide the evidence, if so, I don't see what is wrong with the edit. If you are worried that it states or implies something other than this, then please rework it. To simply delete it instead is to prefer one form of misrepresentation to another. - Kev 01/03/04

It's right to say that Tuckerian individualists would sharply criticize the claims of some anarcho-capitalists about the "voluntary" nature of corporations, etc., and argue that the exploitative nature of certain key "capitalist" arrangements has to color the understanding of certain arrangements as "voluntary" or "involuntary." But it's not right to put it in the way it was put here. I am trying to think of a better way to put this point; I'll post again if I come up with something.

Radgeek 01:28, 3 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Jan 5

Rad: I am sorry if you thought that I was picking on you specifically.

I didn't. What I did see was that you seemed to misinterpret the motivations of the individual who made the changes, otherwise I don't know why you would use such harsh language to address someone with the same motivation as you (to accurately represent this page). While I might agree that several parts of this article constitute a "diatribe", "mischaracterization," or "man-handling," of various subjects, I think such interpretations do not lend the benefit of the doubt to the editor and are likely to lead to the same kind of edit war you came here to help stop.
The edits were described as mischaracterization, diatribe, etc. (and hence as completely unacceptable) because that is what they were. I understand that the motivation was not to insert diatribe or to mischaracterize, but that's what ended up being the result of the editing process. I don't want to fall into a renewed edit war, or for dialogue to break up out of hard feelings, but part of the process of avoiding that is recognizing certain formulations as problematic and others as simply unacceptable. (Hence, why I like to emphasize trying to find alternative phrasings rather than arguing for either of the old alternatives. Unfortunately in a couple of places I've just deleted things because I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment and haven't had as much time to think about certain phrasings as I would like — but there were changes which, although well-intended, made things worse rather than better.) Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I am sure Olathe wants nothing more than to help you in making this page accurately describe anarcho-capitalist views, espcially given his repeated assertions that it is currently being used by critics to misrepresent the theory. Anyway, I think all the edits made under an IP address were mine, I coupled all of them with a discussion passage with my name attached to make that clear.

Rad: But Kev, the passage as it has been redacted (and as it was originally was written) already gives a specific example.

Are you refering to the example of Spooner? If so, then the passage as it was rewritten still included that specific example. If not, I fail to see a specific example of an argument taken from individualists, all I see is a referance to such arguments.
Here is how the passage originally read:
many were also influenced by specific individualist critiques of the State and individualist arguments for the right to ignore or withdraw from it. (Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority was widely reprinted in anarcho-capitalist journals.)
Here is how it was later edited to read:
Many anarcho-capitalists were also influenced by Lysander Spooner’s critique of the State and his arguments for the right to ignore or withdraw from it. (Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority was widely reprinted in anarcho-capitalist journals.)
And here is how I most recently edited it to read:
Many anarcho-capitalists were also influenced by individualist critiques of the State and their arguments for the right to ignore or withdraw from it (as, for example, in Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, which was widely reprinted in early anarcho-capitalist journals).
The point that I am trying to raise is that the middle version inaccurately limits the scope of influence. Yes, Lysander Spooner was an influence on anarcho-capitalists. And yes, his influence is probably greater than that of any of the other anarcho-capitalists. But the way that the middle version was written suggests strongly that it was only Lysander Spooner's critique of the State that influenced the anarcho-capitalists. That's not what the anarcho-capitalists say about their own influences, and it's not what shows up in their writings. Rothbard, for example, explicitly credits Tucker (and Spooner, too) for moving beyond No Treason-style arguments for the individual right to ignore the State and introducing essential work on the actual framework of what a free society would look like (see, for example, Wendy McElroy's essay at , particularly the quote from Rothbard at the close). He endorsed Tucker's conception of "defense associations" (although he could have gotten the idea just as easily from Molinari's "competing governments" — it seems to me impossible, not to mention fruitless, to try to separate out which of the two was the definitive influence on this issue. Rothbard's theory of land ownership is also clearly influenced by (although not in complete agreement with) Tucker, as is his endorsement of peasant uprisings for land reform in the Third World. He cited Tucker's arguments against the Georgists. Etc. Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Rad: If you really want more mentions by name I can put some more together. Spooner is just an easy and well-known example of a general trend. As for Tucker, Rothbard among others frequently cited him in his writings. Here, for example, is how he listed his influences as of 1962:

You have brought this up now on three seperate occasions, and each time I have given you the same answer. I'm not arguing that Rothbard didn't claim individualists as an influence, obviously he did. All the qoute that you inserted suggests is a repeat of this fact, that Rothbard considered himself to be influenced by indvidualists.
I have to confess, Kev, that I am more than a bit puzzled by your reaction to the quote. Certainly Rothbard's own say-so about his influence is not as conclusive as a detailed consideration of his actual citations in his work, etc. But it certainly does seem to me that when someone says "I was influenced by X when I said Y" that's a pretty strong prima facie case for accepting that s/he was indeed influenced by X when s/he said Y. Thus far I had assumed that your argument was that the early a-c's simply didn't much care about the individualist anarchists, and that claims of influence are actually just latter-day revisionism once the a-c's began discovering parallels between their own ideas and some of the ideas of Tucker, Spooner, etc. If that was a misunderstanding, I apologize. Here you say (1) that Rothbard (and a similar case could be made for other of the early a-c's) certainly did consider himself to be influenced by the i-a's, but (2) that you don't necessarily believe him. That seems to me to be a pretty perverse position to take unless you have some very strong reasons to take it. Do you think that Rothbard was being dishonest about his intellectual influences? Or that he was just mistaken about them? If the latter, what exactly does that mean, and how is it different from the claim that he was influenced by them, but just misunderstood them on some points which you consider (and which they would have considered) pretty damned important? Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)
None of it shows what I asked for above, an actual argument taken from individualists that is A) not found in the other theories anarcho-capitalism claims to draw from and B) actually representative of individualism rather than coincidental to particular individualists.
I don't disagree with you that something that meets both (A) and (B) would clearly make the case; but I do wonder why these are the specific requirements you insist on. The issue, after all, is not the modal properties of anarcho-capitalism — what folks like LeFevre and Rothbard and so on could or would have been able to come up with if they had only read Molinari and Bastiat and so on. The question is who actually did influence them, who they actually did, and so on. As I argued earlier, and elaborated in the paragraph above, there's lots of reasons to include the individualist anarchists on that list. There are some specific arguments (some of which I've cited) on which I think both (A) and (B) are satisfied, and others where (B) is satisfied but not (A) (such as the endorsement of Tucker's defense associations). And other lines of evidence which have to do with matters of dialectical positioning rather than the citation of a specific idea. Rothbard or LeFevre could, for example, have written just as a Molinarian advocate of "competing governments," but for a variety of reasons they didn't. Rothbard and many others identified themselves explicitly with the anarchist tradition; LeFevre contributed to the theory of anarcho-capitalism but rejected the identification in favor of "autarchy." I made this point at some length earlier, with an analogy to the shift represented by the adoption of "feminism" by the movement formerly known as "Women's Liberation." The point here is that how these folks located themselves, who they saw as their conversation partners, etc. was pretty significant - LeFevre and Rothbard had something serious to argue about. I happen to think that LeFevre was wrong and Rothbard was right to make the identification with anarchism (though he was wrong about many other things). But in any case the point here is that whether the a-c decision to identify with the anarchist tradition was wise or ill-conceived, the decision was made, and that counts as a pretty significant reason in favor of attributing an influence (again, separating that question from the separate question of whether the effect of that influence was following in the i-a tradition or perverting it).
That was much more long-winded than I intended it to be; I apologize, but it is too late tonight to try to fix it. The upshot of what I'm trying to say here is that I understand why a critical piece of argument or evidence that meets both (A) and (B) would be sufficient for saying that a-c's draw on i-a thought. (And I think that there are cases that meet those criteria, though you have disagreed on some of those and may disagree on the ones I am introducing.) But I don't understand why you insist that it's a necessary condition. It certainly seems to me that there a lot of lines of evidence that could be drawn, and have been drawn; and while these lines are somewhat messier than the lines of evidence based on the consideration of conditions like (A) and (B), it seems to me that intellectual history just is a messy affair and it's often neither possible nor desirable to try to draw up the sort of clean and definitive family trees of ideas that seem to be embodied in the insistence on (A) and (B). Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Rad: and in the egoist vs. natural rights debates he was taking the side of one individualist anarchist faction — i.e. Spooner's — against another.

But we can't neglect the fact that natural rights were already a very established part of the other theories anarcho-capitalism claims to draw from, the fact that he "took Spooner's side" indicates nothing more than a concurance of values. It is like Kropotkin arguing for involvement in WWII, it doesn't suggest that he endorsed the statism of the countries he believed should fight, nor does it belie some close relation between some "faction" of anarchists and statists.
The point wasn't that taking Spooner's side necessarily committed Rothbard to drawing from the i-a tradition. (Ayn Rand and Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas would all have taken Spooner's side against Tucker, but none of them could conceivably be located within an anarchist tradition of any kind.) The point, rather, was that Rothbard's attack on Tucker on this point didn't commit him to disaffiliating from the individualist-anarchist tradition. (A secondary point was that it also indicats the degree to which Rothbard had read, and written on, and was concerned with, the discussions of the individualist-anarchists. That's not definitive evidence for any kind of affiliation with them, of course; he might be looking in as a disinterested scholar (hardly likely!) or as a somewhat friendly fellow traveler drawing from a separate but parallel tradition (much more likely). But it does seem to me to count as some evidence towards the overall conclusion, and the point is not whether this isolated fact makes the case or not, but rather how it holds together with the rest of the points being made. Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Rad: Kev, I explain the citation below. Auberon Herbert was not part of the American individualist anarchist movement (since, among other things, he was not American, and not exactly an anarchist). But so what?

The "so what" happens to be rather relevant, as you were citing Spencer and Herbert as evidence for a direct relation between individualism and anarcho-capitalism. This simply makes no sense, as neither of them were individualists. If you want to refer to their relations as indicative of the associations many liberals held with libertarians in the past and present, or specifically of the associations between classical liberals and individualists, then by all means do so, but that is not itself an indication that anarcho-capitalism drew from individualist ideas and positions, only that it drew from the ideas and positions of people who associated with individualists but were not themselves individualists. Surely you can see the difference? Or should we now claim that Mao was heavily influenced by Bakunin simply because Bakunin was printed in many of the same papers as Marx? Again, this line of argument, that these people frequently associated, does not provide the evidence necessary to show a the kind of relation between these theories that your quotes by Rothbard claim (i.e. actual arguments taken by the individual who first refered to himself as an anarcho-capitalist from the individualists that cannot be found elsewhere in his close influences and are representative of individualism itself rather than some parallel set of theories).

As I say below, this is good reason to see the anti-statist liberal and the individualist anarchist traditions as being something other than entirely alien to each other — and not just in that modern anarcho-capitalists claim to draw on both.

I don't recall ever claiming that these two traditions were alien, that would be silly. But then again claiming that they are cousins or brothers or children is just as silly, a metaphor used to glance past the actual substance of their relation. If all or even most individualists universally looked upon the corporations that many capitalists endorse as wonderful institutions that protect freedom, and called the same statists who support government protection of private property restrictions allies, then none of this would be a problem. But to pretend that no controversy exists here as was originally done in this article, or to ignore that controversy while stating things like "anarcho-capitalists draw from individualism in their theories" and "anarcho-capitalist agree with individualists on the free market" as it currently does, when the very name anarcho-capitalism is in question, is simply unacceptable. We need wikipedia readers to understand that anarcho-capitalists are NOT using the same terminology when they refer to a free market, and it is a MISREPRESENTATION to indicate that they both support a free market but not account for this fact. We need wikipedia readers to know that anarcho-capitalism does NOT necessarily draw from individualism, regardless of the merit of the claims themselves, because many individualists themselves disagree and have good reason for doing so. These changes are simple and totally in keeping with the neutrality policy of wikipedia, to inform the readers when a claim is a claim, to inform them when a word is being used in two different senses, and to refrain from making claims stated as fact that we back up only with further claims rather than the actual arguments we refer to. As I've said before, the first two simply need to be changed, and the third is still awaiting the evidence necessary to sustain it.

If you think that anarcho-capitalism is strictly the descendent of anti-state liberalism, without much in the way of significant input from individualist anarchists, then that simply makes it a sort of cousin of individualist anarchism rather than a descendent.

I guess that depends on the emphasis you place on the values each group held dear and the reasons that certain people (like Spencer and Herbert) were not in fact anarchists despite being similar in many ways. If these two theories were such close cousins, then it is strange that the individualists hated their capitalist cousins so, or that capitalists tend to be so very hostile toward socialism (of which the individualists were, by their own accounts, a part). Of course we can always rely on that old rhetorical standby that when an individualist said "capitalism" they didn't mean what we do by capitalism, and when they said "socialism" they didn't mean what we do by socialism. But it just so happens that what they DID mean by those words still indicated their rejection of practices essential to what we mean by capitalism (i.e. capital itself in the form of rent, interest, and wage), and still indicated their embrace of methods held in common with what we sometimes refer to as socialism. Regardless, even if we accept that anarcho-capitalism is a cousin of individualist anarchism, even if we accept that a metaphor can skip past the very important differences between these theories, it would not be appropriate to emphasize this relation as one of only two traditions it draws from in the very begining of the article. That sounds more like a parent or a sibling, not some second cousin twice removed. This would be like claiming in the first paragraph of an article on Stalinism that it draws from the traditions of Marxism and classical liberalism. It would be true in a technical sense if we were very vague and fuzzy about our influences, as Stalinism does requrie both of those traditions to found its own politic, but it would also be very misleading in to emphasize classical liberalism right alongside the far more influential Marxism. Further, I wouldn't doubt that a large number of liberals would rightly object to any such representation.

And as I've argued here and before, there are several important ways that such a case falters.

To my knowledge I've responded to each and every one of those arguments. - Kev 01/05/04
Thanks for your long and well-thought responses, Kev. I apologize that I haven't been able to get to all of them tonight, but I do have to turn in at some point. I'll hopefully get to some more of them in the morning. Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Jan 15

I had wanted to wait until Rad finished his responses, but it looks like that might take awhile so I will go ahead and post my own.

Anarcho-capitalists promote individual property rights and free markets (in the sense of freedom from violent interference) as the most just and effective way to organize all services.

The "free" markets advocated by anarcho-capitalists in fact supports violent interference in economic relations, that is precisely what founds institutions like usury, at least in the eyes of individualists. Given that, this recent change once again makes fuzzy the distinction between multiple uses of the word "free market" in an attempt to obscure the fact that "free" in this context really means "what anarcho-capitalists consider to be free." As such, it is not a fact that anarcho-capitalists promote free markets in the sense of freedom from violent interference, that in itself is a claim that assumes the a-c position. It is a fact that anarcho-capitalists promote "free" markets in the sense that they do not want their own methods interfered with violently. It is definately NOT that they will refrain from interfering in the methods of others with violence, only that they will attempt to refrain from using violence illegitimate according to their own peculiar standard of when it is justifiable to interfere with others and when it is not. The fact that anarcho-capitalists attempt to define other ideological positions out of existence by claiming that the violence they legitimate is not violence because is "self-defense" is something that should be explicated (in a more neutral way then I have done here), granted, but not by assuming their position at the outset and using language that rules out any contrary viewpoint.

Anarcho-capitalists, on the other hand, emphasize the individualists' critique of collectivist politics, and point out that the individualists denounced the use of violence to oppose the economic relationships that they considered exploitative, and emphasized voluntary, free market approaches (such as boycotts, labor strikes, and the formation of workers' cooperatives) to achieving social justice.

Again, this edit glances past the fact that "free market" and "voluntary" are being used to mean things other than what individualists used them to mean, and this edit was made long after I brought this up directly to you Rad. I'm having trouble now believing that this is not intentional, that it is simply a mistake that the article currently conflates two different interpretations of a word and makes it appear that only one is being used to describe this relation as much closer than it actually is. Or maybe you have a disagreement and believe that this word is being used in the same sense in both cases, but you haven't said as much. I have tried to excercise the utmost restraint of late, only editing one thing at a time, one day at a time, and always discussing things long before any edit took place. In the case of my discussions with you I have put my edits on hold for weeks at a time even while watching you continue to insert edits that I have objected to previously. But now I find my own edits summarily deleted -before- discussion, even while edits like this take place, flying in the face of objections I have repeated over and over. Until some proportionality is returned to the considerations being given to my own edits, I'm going to be very tempted to simply start deleting things like this instead of waiting for further discussion. Claiming that you don't have time to properly deal with my edits is a lame excuse. If you have time to delete them, you have time to account for them first. If not, I don't know why you are bothering to edit it at all, you are not improving the status of the page by keeping the status quo when the status quo is flawed.

Rothbard, for example, explicitly credits Tucker (and Spooner, too) for moving beyond No Treason-style arguments for the individual right to ignore the State and introducing essential work on the actual framework of what a free society would look like

And don't you find it just a tiny bit strange that the very components which would distinguish an individualist society in the absence of a state from anti-state liberalist society were removed from this vision he imported? Or maybe you can point out what part of the anarcho-individualist tradition Rothbard used to build his own framework of a future society that was not already present in, and is still very much a part of, the liberal tradition. Because when I look at the society Rothbard proposed I find it strangely absent of interest-free banks, of businesses that do not rely on enforcement institutions to extract economic profit from its workers, and of workers free from wage relations, all the very hallmarks of individualism. Sure, it is one thing to credit another person as having the vision to go beyond the state, it is an entirely different thing to use that vision as a framework for ones own ideas. I see the former in Rothbard's works and words, I see the latter only in his words.

He endorsed Tucker's conception of "defense associations" (although he could have gotten the idea just as easily from Molinari's "competing governments" — it seems to me impossible, not to mention fruitless, to try to separate out which of the two was the definitive influence on this issue.

I can't agree more. That is precisely why I am so confused that people have insisted on importing such interpretations to this article, stating the influences side-by-side as though we have already determined that both are equally worthy of mention and refusing to include even the smallest of caveats to indicate that individualists themselves would have good reason to reject that they have provided an influence when their ideas were stripped of the very components they repeatedly insisted were essential to them.

I have to confess, Kev, that I am more than a bit puzzled by your reaction to the quote. Certainly Rothbard's own say-so about his influence is not as conclusive as a detailed consideration of his actual citations in his work, etc. But it certainly does seem to me that when someone says "I was influenced by X when I said Y" that's a pretty strong prima facie case for accepting that s/he was indeed influenced by X when s/he said Y.

I have repeatedly stated that it would be silly to deny that there was any influence here, that Rothbard in fact did claim such influences, and that this case is far too ambiguous to deny his claim. What more is it you want from me before we can move past this constant attribution to me of a position I do not hold? It is not the existence of an influence that I am denying, but the degree of it. Simply saying that anarcho-capitalism is influenced by individualism means nothing in itself, anarcho-capitalism is influenced by thousands of theories, events, and individuals that bear little or no direct relation to it. It is not the fact that there is some relation between anarcho-capitalism and anarchist individualism which I have been denying, for there is "some relation" between capitalism and communism, between Buddhism and Christianity, between ying and yang. It is the assertion that this relation is "very close," and the many aspects of this article which suggest or directly state as much, that seems entirely out of order given that many would view that relation as more antagonistic than anything else. The fact that Rothbard felt this influence was prominent, or claimed as much on occasion, is plently enough evidence for the existence of "some" relation, but it is not in itself a strong prima facie case for a prominent influence or essential relation. We have some facts here, what Rothbard believed, that there was some influence, that individualists of the past associated with anti-state liberals amongst so many others. Then we have an interpretation, that Rothbard's belief was correct (this is currently being implied by the repetition of the evidence that Rothbard believed it, as though they are one and the same), that the influence was essential, that the associations between anti-state liberals and individualists indicates a strong association between indvidualists and anarcho-capitalists. I find the former set of facts entirely appropriate for including in this article, I find the latter set of interpretations entirely inappropriate for determining the status of individualism in this article as such a major influence as to be not only justifiably placed side-by-side with classical liberalism, but even as to rule out any language that would suggest this not to necessarily be the case.

Thus far I had assumed that your argument was that the early a-c's simply didn't much care about the individualist anarchists, and that claims of influence are actually just latter-day revisionism once the a-c's began discovering parallels between their own ideas and some of the ideas of Tucker, Spooner, etc. If that was a misunderstanding, I apologize. Here you say (1) that Rothbard (and a similar case could be made for other of the early a-c's) certainly did consider himself to be influenced by the i-a's, but (2) that you don't necessarily believe him.

Well I don't necessarily believe him, nor should you. But I've long since given him the benefit of the doubt, as I would just about anyone, and the argument you have explicated here is not the one I have given. I am careful not to let my language assume that Rothbard was in fact influenced by individualists to the degree he claimed, because I don't want to confuse the argument and I don't think that point is particularly relevant to it, but apparently this had the exact opposite effect that I had desired. Let me be clear. Rothbard did, by all appearances, consider himself to be influenced by individualists. As far as I am concerned, someome who considers themselves to be influenced by a given event pretty much automatically is, it would be hard to be aware of anything and not be somewhat influenced by it in the relevant context, especially when one believes that one is. However, this point is not particularly relevant in our own determinations (to be distinguished from those of Rothbard) of the extent to which Rothbard's actual position reflects that of individualism versus other parallel theories. The presence of influence is not in itself indicative of the degree of that influence (above zero point anyway), no matter how many times we repeat the same bit of evidence that demonstrates some presence. If we should find that his position is closer to another theory or set of theories than he described it to be, or even identical to them, then his description should be viewed as a mistake or as an ambiguous determination, not as evidence in itself against our findings. No, I don't necessarily believe him, but neither am I inputing him to be a liar or even to be mistaken. I am simply remaining open concerning his claims, and attempting to interpret them with all the data available to me.

If the latter, what exactly does that mean, and how is it different from the claim that he was influenced by them, but just misunderstood them on some points which you consider (and which they would have considered) pretty damned important?

That is a fairly good way of putting it. Though I would like to add that I do think some revisionism is occuring in this context. Today many capitalists are placing an even greater role of influence on the individualists than even Rothbard himself, or any of the other early a-c's, would have. What is more, some are clearly attempting to distort and selectively interpret particular parts of individualist texts to make them appear closer to a-c then they actually are. I could give more examples on this than either of us has time to contend with on this point, but the link to Caplan's FAQ from this page alone provides numerous examples. What we find today is an entire generation of capitalists educated at the hands of these revisionists, who don't even know enough history to know that Tucker was himself an anti-capitalist, and that is having a direct effect on the content and direction of this page. Of course this would be a discussion more appropriate for a forum if you are interested.

I don't disagree with you that something that meets both (A) and (B) would clearly make the case; but I do wonder why these are the specific requirements you insist on.

Precisely because it "clearly" would make the case. A and B would clearly demonstrate the case, and pretty much all the evidence I have seen you offer thus far is (by both our standards it seems) is messy and ambiguous. I've got nothing wrong with a mess in philosophy, often that is the strongest case that can be built from the available evidence, and I'm not claiming that there exists evidence to make a strong case that you have yet to offer. But most of the authors of this article are very adverse to describing this attribution of influence as ambiguous at best. It is, to them, clear that anarcho-capitalism follows in the tradition of anarcho-individualism, and anything (including hard facts) to the contrary is anathema. Now, if we are coming at this from the belief that the lines of influence here are not clear (as we both seem to be), then we must first admit that much as we might personally prefer one interpretation of these influences over another, neither is appropriate to be definitively stated as fact in the article, assuming that any interpretation is necessary or desirable at all. Thus, if we are going to try to state definitively that individualism is the essential sort of influence it is currently portrayed as in this article, without even the necessary qualifiers to note that this is a claim rather than a fact (a very controversial claim at that), then we really do need evidence so incredibly strong and clear as to demonstrate this beyond even the slightest doubt. It is the fact that there are dissenting opinions here that calls for this requirement of clear evidence, not murky or ambiguous evidence that can be (and is) read either way. Now I'm certainly not claiming that this is the only possible standard of evidence, I'm sure there are a number of avenues available to make a clear and unambiguous case that I simply don't have the time or imagination to think up. But I am claiming that of all the evidence proposed so far A and B would be the only evidence sufficient to support the article as it currently exists, and put to rest the many doubts that have been raised by myself and others over its presentation. Absent that, most of the qualifiers which have been so strongly rejected should be thrown straight back in, along with far more detailed explainations of the ideas presented and the context of many of the words being used.
And I want to be clear here. It is not that I think the fact that these people associated and that Rothbard attributed individualism to his list of influences is irrelevant to the subject of anarcho-capitalism. I seem to have given that impression, and that is simply not the case. A thorough understanding of the subject requires such knowledge. What I think is irrelevant to this is something more specific, that is, to changing our conclusions of how close these ideologies have actually ended up as is evidenced by the real meat and bones of the arguments we find both parallel and identical. I think the evidence clearly demonstrates a relation that is antagonistic, others seem to believe it clearly demonstrates a close to identical set of theories, insisting there are only one or two minor exceptions that can easily be cast aside. But both of these beliefs are interpretations, neither is a statement of fact, and giving Rothbard's own accounts as though they put to rest this contention once and for all is inappropriate. Rothbard's statements have little sway here, the fact that he believed it does not make it the case that individualists would have believed the same thing, and much more importantly, it does not make it the case that what he believed was in fact true.
In summary, I propose A and B as tentatively necessary conditions because the scope of claims being made here demand strong, unambiguous, evidence. In the absence of such evidence, and in the presence of the controversy surrounding many of these claims, I think a very large round of edits is necessary for this article to move it back in the direction of neutrality as concerns issues like these.

That's not definitive evidence for any kind of affiliation with them, of course; he might be looking in as a disinterested scholar (hardly likely!) or as a somewhat friendly fellow traveler drawing from a separate but parallel tradition (much more likely).

Or a crass opportunist who saw the political expediency of associating his own theories with what would otherwise be one a group of its greatest intellectual threats, and marginalizing the individualists themselves at the same time. Far be it from me to claim that Rothbard was disinterested. If you think there is no evidence for this interpretation, then please email me in private or we can bring this to a public forum and I will provide, but as I said before, his motivations are not an appropriate subject for this conversation. As such, I don't think either one of us should be exploring them here, or even be overly concerned with them in this context, as it would cloud our judgment. We can assume the best or worst motivations we want, it shouldn't change the relevant arguments.

But it does seem to me to count as some evidence towards the overall conclusion, and the point is not whether this isolated fact makes the case or not, but rather how it holds together with the rest of the points being made.

I'm not one for leaky bucket philosophy. Admittedly, if there is a preponderance of strong evidence then the position is held. But if each and every point is ambiguous, or they are variously ambiguous, weak, or simply false, then the position itself is ambiguous, weak, or simply false. I understand that many in philosophy would disagree with me on this, but I'm happy enough to rest in the company of those who agree that no matter how many shaky arguments we come up with the conclusion will still be as shaky as the arguments which constitute it. Strong evidence provides the support for strong claims. Given all of this, I simply don't understand how you can count Spooner's belief in natural rights as evidence toward the "overall conclusion" that Rothbard followed in the tradition of individualism when you agree that natural rights are not necessary or universal to individualism, and in fact Rothbard himself attributed his belief in natural rights to other sources. At most this would be the kind of correlative evidence that would only lend to a conclusion if you have something much more solid to back it up, and if Rothbard didn't explicitly attribute this belief to other sources. As it is, all I see in support of this supposed evidence is more evidence of the same type, conjecture and correlation that claim a far more substantive base than actually exists. You have made clear since you arrived that indicating certain claims by a-c's as claims might be technically correct, but it gives the impression that these statements are false given the way it can be read. I am saying that in order for us to stray from the "technically correct" terminology, in order for us to sacrifice clarity in this case in favor of a kindler and gentler presentation of a-c we require evidence strong enough to put to rest all the reasonable objections that deserve to be represented without being ruled out in the very first sentence. Because in this case a kindler and gentler description of a-c may very well mean a dubious or even false description of several other traditions, and that is simply not acceptable to me. - Kev 01/15/04