Friday, June 02, 2006

A Flawed Defense of Anarcho-Capitalism

Here's yet another flawed defense of anarcho-capitalism, by yet another of the Rothbardians who write at the Mises Economics Blog:

We tend to assume that without an interventionist government, life would fall into chaos. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In the nineteenth century, French economist Frédéric Bastiat remarked on the wonder of that phenomenon by exclaiming, "Paris gets fed!" The same can be said of New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, etc. It's doesn't take the intervention of a governmental planning board to ensure adequate food for all of us. Entrepreneurs seeking profit make certain that eggs and milk are readily available for tomorrow's breakfast.

Consider the alternative:

In the late 1970's and early 1980's I spent three weeks in the then-socialist countries of Yugoslavia and East Germany. If it wasn't for the illegal food market there would have been nothing to eat other than cookies, Vodka, and stale bread. Keep in mind that the brightest minds planned these economies. Not much to be said for central planning.

But we tend to forget these real-world examples of governmental planning. Maybe we assume that our bureaucrats are more omnificent and brighter than those of Yugoslavia and East Germany. Ludwig von Mises of the Austrian School of Economics proved over 80 years ago that all attempts at central planning lead to chaos. He was correct then, and he is still correct today. . . .

Remember, it's the entrepreneur who will truck the eggs and milk so that you can eat tomorrow.

First, interventionist government isn't the only possible kind of government. There's the nightwatchman state that exists only to defend life, liberty, and property. It's the kind of state envisioned by the Framers. It's the kind of state toward which we could return with the replacement of a few more Supreme Court justices.

Second, being well and reliably fed, clothed, housed, etc., by market institutions depends very much on the protection of life, liberty, and property. That is to say, markets operate far more effectively in an environment where the rule of law is enforced.

Third, private institutions cannot enforce the rule of law without descending into warlordism. It is far better to rely on an accountable state than it is to empower "private defense agencies" to enforce contracts and settle disputes. People are people, and power is power. Private defense agencies are run by the same kinds of power-hungry people who gravitate toward government. The result of competition among such people can be seen in gang warfare. Constitutionally limited power -- entrusted to a few accountable institutions -- affords a more stable environment for the effective operation of market forces than does a regime of competing warlords private defense agencies.

Related posts:
Defense, Anarcho-Capitalist Style
But Wouldn't Warlords Take Over?
My View of Warlordism, Seconded
Anarcho-Libertarian Stretching
QandO Saved Me the Trouble
Sophomoric Libertarianism
Nock Reconsidered