I have had numerous interactions and discussions over the years with individuals adhering to various schools of libertarianism. These interactions, coupled with my own research, have convinced me that most contemporary libertarians are not interested in the truth. What they seek is an odd combination of communal recognition and group solidarity united by ideological platitudes concerning freedom, individualism, voluntarism, non-violence, the market, and contracts. Those outside of this community of true believers are beholden to the sin of statism.
The most committed and notorious of libertarians are the Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists. The cult of personality surrounding this branch of libertarianism is quite impressive, and a recent debate between Jay Dyer and Adam Kokesh is a perfect example of the cult-like mindset of the advocate for an anarchist society.
During the debate, Dyer obviously argues that a government/state is needed for a well-ordered society and Kokesh takes the ancap position arguing for the eradication of the state.
Watching this interaction only further solidifies the fact that ancaps are in possession of a less than adequate intelligence necessary for serious philosophical thinking. They beg all the important philosophical and theological questions, while desperately clinging to an ideology abstracted from the relevant historical and human realities required for social harmony in the desperate hope for a an eventual stateless society.
Instead of analyzing the entire debate, I wanted to briefly point out a couple of massive flaws in Kokesh’s arguments. The first major mistake he makes is when he concedes the fact that the non-aggression principle (NAP) is a subjective postulate based on a presupposition that is not inherently grounded in reality. Conceding this vital point basically ends the debate. Admitting that the very principle your entire argument requires to be persuasive is a subjective postulation resting upon an ill-defined, question begging presupposition doesn’t strengthen the case for anarchy. Instead of being an axiomatic truth, the NAP reduces itself to absurdity within the ancap worldview.
Moreover, Kokesh seems to ignore the fact that the NAP isn’t a well defined concept, and merely repeating the the terms “non-violence” or “voluntary” does not somehow magically result in a NAP that is philosophically cogent. If the NAP is going to be taken seriously, it must be filled in by a coherent ethical theory that is recognizable by the people attempting to live in a society in which it informs. Kokesh places the NAP within the context of a subjectivist utilitarianism, but this lacks the necessary requirements of a universal truth since any subjective recommendation for an ethical norm is merely the promulgation of preference satisfaction. This philosophical position concedes the fact that there is no reason for any person to bind themselves to the subjective desire of the ancap worldview.
Even worse are these two arguments that run contrary to one another in Kokesh’s presentation. On the one hand, he argues that if people want to maximize happiness, then violence ought to be minimized in human interaction; and because the state is intrinsically violent, the state as an existing institution must dissipate if maximum human happiness is going to be achieved. More happiness necessarily requires less state action. On the other hand, in line with Steven Pinker, he argues that society is becoming less violent, people are becoming more happy, technology is creating an environment that produces net exponential gains of human enjoyment, and humans are experiencing significant increases in security and safety.
Here is the problem with this position – Kokesh cannot argue that maximizing happiness is contingent upon the reduction of the state due to its intrinsically violent nature, while simaltaneously arguing that we are currently experiencing significant increases in human happiness in our current state of existence. Why? Because the size, scope, and power of the government has substantially increased on objectively verifiable levels. According to the formula offered by Kokesh’s ancap commitments, human misery rather than happiness ought to be increasing to levels never witnessed or experienced. So Kokesh is offering not only a convoluted argument, but he is undermining his own position and lending credence to the suggestion that net increases of government will increase human happiness given his own assessment of our evolutionary progress.
Kokesh also espouses a future stateless society as inevitably evolving due to the deterministic laws of history, which is basically a capitalistic use of the Marxian, materialist dialectic of history. There is no difference in the outcomes for these Utopian visions because they are atheistic eschatologies proclaiming a future of harmony and peace based on evolutionary “progress” rather than the providential working of God in history. The only recognizable difference would be that the Marxist argues that economics and class warfare drive the mechanistically determined process of history, while the Kokesh-styled ancap identifies the unfolding of history with the mechanism of technological advancement via the market process, which eventually renders the state obsolete. Both views, however, misunderstand nature, human anthropology, and history. This misunderstanding is based on the fact that they are metaphysically atheistic and ethically arbitrary.
There is much to learn from this interaction between Jay Dyer and Adam Kokesh. At the very least, it should be obvious that the anarchist position is demonstrated, once again, to be completely incoherent.
– Lucas G. Westman