A Couple Quick Questions, Ed. 18

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 1.25 pm

Q. Hey, B. Do you think the idea of a third party—or even more than three political parties in this country is realistically possible? Comments/Questions? – Chuck, from the internet.

A. First, I kind of love the title “B” because of its Beyoncé associations, even if that’s not what you meant. Second, yes, I do, but not without some serious structural change—just saying “if we all vote our conscience we’ll get there eventually” is not a realistic approach. See my answers to similar past questions here and here for more details.


Q. Given, as you admit freely in your FAQ, a free market has never truly existed, what makes you think it could? Given that in 100% of the cases where capitalism has existed, it has existed alongside state institutions of a wide variety of sizes and capacities, on what evidence can a libertarian (or free-market conservative, etc.) claim that 1. a free market can exist with any size state?; or 2. capitalism can exists without a state? – Dan, from the internet.

A. Well, here’s the thing:  I’m not an anarchist. I’ve been called an “ultra minarchist,” which is pretty accurate (meaning I want a very small state to provide defense and a justice system), but I don’t want to get rid of all state government. I would take libertarian anarchy over what we have now, and I have a lot in common with/love hearing from my anarchist friends, but I don’t share their goal of a stateless society.

That said, I think that arguing that because a state has always existed in our strongest forays into a free market we must have a state for a free market doesn’t work. It’s a bit of a post hoc fallacy at best. It’s not possible, of course, to say with certainty what would or wouldn’t work in such hypotheticals, but suffice it to say that I don’t think this bit of history is a good argument against anarcho-capitalism. We’ve also never had the internet come into existence without government, but that doesn’t mean you had to have a state to get the internet.


Q. I know you’ve said you’re not a huge fan of political parties, but given the recent RNC debacle do you believe that US citizens will ever have a better say in their representation? Or do you think money and influence will always win out? – Chris, from the internet.

A. It’s hard to say. Jefferson wrote in a letter that “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground,” and many days I can’t see any other perspective. That said, I’m not sure he’s correct. We have seen some (admittedly very imperfect) advances of liberty in the past—the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, the end of slavery, the trend away from imperialism and toward self-determination of the 20th Century. Moreover, even my job gives me some hope when I stop to think about it; my organization (Young Americans for Liberty) literally did not exist less than four years ago, and now we have a network of more than 100,000 young people, with more beating down the door every day. So yeah, it’s hard to say.

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