I would be a Republican

If I were not a voluntaryist I would be a republican. This is something that I concluded after watching an excellent documentary called Overview of America. It clarifies the political spectrums by putting total government control as the true far left and no government whatsoever as the far right. It then defines capital as “means of production” therefore concluding that every economic system is fundamentally capitalist (because every uses the means of production). The only difference is that in far left systems the government owns and/or controls the capital (means of production) fully (fascism, nazism, socialism and communism) whereas the far right systems leave the government out of the ownership and control of capital and serve at the most to enforce rights to life, liberty and property.

The documentary however attacks anarchy as an unsustainable bubble between collapses of governments and unfortunately there may even be quite a bit of evidence supporting that conclusion IF you would look at how many people calling themselves “anarchists” act. Most anarchists in the world appear to be “socialists” at the same time which is a contradiction in terms from where I stand because socialism implies collective rather than individual control of capital. Clearly, such anarchists cannot form a sustainable anarchy that wouldn’t just end up creating a new socialist government.

The documentary puts a republic at the balancing point which is limited government, a view which largely corresponds to what some today call “minarchism”. Considering that the USA prospered for quite a while under this system and people have rarely objected to government so long as it was kept limited only to law enforcement (law being entirely The Constitution and Bill of Rights (also dubbed by the doc “Bill of Government Limitations”), this system seems to have worked. And from my perspective today I would love to live in such a system today, compared to where I live now. I can understand why people en masse wanted to move to USA to build their dreams.

So why am I not a republican?

In principle, it comes down to a single fundamental reason: coercion. Even a limited government which only enforces the law which is only a provision for life, liberty and property is a coercive monopoly. It does not allow anyone else but itself to act as a third party in disputes or as an enforcer of contracts or defenders against violations of life, liberty and property. And frankly, I don’t see a good reason why it should have this kind of monopoly.

If the free market could efficiently handle everything else, as it did in the USA while it was still truly republican, why can it not handle law as well?

The documentary fails to make a connection that is rather obvious to me, between a free market and anarchy, both at the farthest right you can go – indeed for me The Right Way. :) It is exactly the free market which provides anarchy with stability it lacks when anarchy is attempted in a socialistic way. The perfect system as I see it, thus, is free market anarchy, anarcho-capitalism.

The reason why even a republican or minarchist limited government is so problematic is simple. By being the only entity allowed to operate in the market of law enforcement it becomes a magnet to all who would otherwise be legitimate competitors. Since they cannot compete with it they try to take it over. And since it is coercive by nature it can use this coercion, slowly but surely, to grow its monopoly into markets beyond law enforcement, which is exactly what happened each time a limited government was instituted (and the documentary covers Rome and America).

In a nutshell, government is the loophole of the republican system. They had a great idea, but they screwed that one up. The free market which they credit with creating the abundance that made america great, was the answer all along – they just had to let it be free of government 100%, not 99%. There is no such thing as “properly limited government”. It always grows.

There is also a question of morals, which the documentary briefly tackled. Apparently the founding fathers of the USA believed that the republic they created can only work so long as people are moral, and this had religious (biblical christian) connotations. In a sense I agree, but unsurprisingly for christianity, morality here seems to be expanded a bit too far. The documentary, for instance, shows pictures of people watching porn in the context of immorality, whereas this may merely be a subjective view.

The core morality, in my view, comes from non-coercion. No matter what another person does, so long as (s)he doesn’t harm you in doing it (initiate force on you) (s)he should be free to do so. It seems pretty clear that if people lost this moral principle they would likely deteriorate their society into one that calls for greater government and thus more tyrany. It perfectly aligns with the concept of violence breeding violence. Even a mere loss of the non-coercion moral is enough to start the vicious circle, as it will lead to the first violent act which will lead to all the more of the violence until we live in a totalitarian system where violence and the threat of violence is constantly present.

And I think in most countries today we are nearly or already living in such a system, even in countries which have a “republic” in its name like the Republic of Croatia (which is not a republic at all).

I only wished, now, that there was a place where a true republic really still existed. At least there a chance of inducing that last moral step towards a pure free market society would be feasible while the oppression would be 99% absent. Unortunately, not even New Hampshire in USA, the designated future “Free State” fits the bill.

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  • http://jollybox.de Thomas Jollans

    Alas, it's not that simple. You could say that, if you were American, you would rather support the GOP than any other party.

    Political classification is a very difficult subject as it stands, and using simple terms in an international context while retaining a clear meaning is nigh impossible. The parties that call themselves "republican", in the US and in Germany (a small party), are highly conservative. In Germany, this means they are rather far-right, meaning they are nationalists. In the US, they are rather far-right, meaning they have a neo-liberal economical stance. That and a lot of conservativism, which means something else everywhere. Do you see where the problem is ?

    Now, you, of course, do not leave such an ambiguity, you quote a source about the US, after all, but I thought it better to say this, nonetheless, since I know you to be European, though I don't know anything about political categories/parties in Croatia—I don't know how unlikely you making an unintended political reference is.

    "Voluntaryist" may be a dreadful word, (from an æsthetic-linguistic perspective) but at least it only means one thing.

  • admin

    I agree political classification is hard and universal classification practically impossible. All we can do is clearly define the terms we're using before we present our viewpoints or the premise of the discussion. Then it doesn't necessarily matter where you live and what does the audience usually consider "right" or "left", "republican" or "conservative" to be, so long as they understand and concede to the definitions offered for the given discourse.

    But I'm repeating myself. :)

    Croatian politics is heavily influenced by european politics so the left-right scale probably resembles that of EU, Germany included. But as you can tell I don't have much interest in them to care. If there was a libertarian or similar party here I'd probably know about it and probably support it in spirit (if not politically), so I'm pretty homeless overhere. :P

    And yeah, I like the clarity of "voluntaryist" too. It's not that dreadful even once you get used to it, but that's probably a subjective thing. :)


  • Bob Robertson

    Sadly, from the very beginning, "Republican" has meant big government, regulation, spending, "government as country", things like that.

    The documentary is completely wrong. Left and Right are merely artificial creations to polarize the electorate by taking particular issues to "one side or the other", by something approximating "economic freedom" vs. "personal freedom".

    The Nolan Chart is a much better representation, because it allows for Control vs. Liberty.

    I think you'll find that the Jeffersonian Democratic party is what you really mean, and I can recommend "Martin van Buren: What Greatness Really Means" or the text version entitled, "The American Gladstone", both available on Mises.org

    To understand that the murdering tyrant Lincoln was the pinnacle of Republican party values is to realize that there is no love of actual liberty in the Republican party at all.

  • http://jollybox.de Thomas Jollans

    Bob, the Nolan chart seams interesting, but is inherently flawed: "Conservative" means something else depending on where you are and thus what one might want to conserve or re-introduce.

    The Political Compass is, IMHO, a much better approach at political categorization. The actual approach is very similar, it just isn't flawed in that way.

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