In response to Salon’s 11 questions to see if Libertarians are hypocrites (which I answer here), Michael Suede of Libertarian News offers 11 Questions To See If Statists Are Hypocrites. Turnabout is fair play, I suppose, though I must say, using the term “statist” as a pejorative for anyone who doesn’t agree with you seems childish. Anyway, here are my answers.
1. Could political parties, public sector unions and political elections exist in a world where the use of force to take property from another person is impossible?
I’m not sure such a world could exist. I’d rather talk about the world that does. Assuming a world where force is impossible, I’d say yes, no, and yes.
A group of people (a town, say) could get together to voluntarily fund an individual or group to provide a common service. If the individual (or the members of the group) were chosen from amongst the town’s people, an election process, where anyone interested in serving could put their name forward, would seem to be a reasonable way to do this. If the government grew large enough, subgroups might form with different opinions about how to solve problems. During the election process, they might then band together to try to provide a unified message to the people.
Assuming voluntarism is somehow magically enforced, I don’t see how unions would naturally arise. If the government grew to the point where there where they had adversarial relations with those they needed to hire to provide the services the people were asking them for, and this led to the services they were providing becoming too expensive, the people would stop voluntarily funding them.
2. Is our statist willing to admit that the production of consumer goods is the result of many voluntary transactions, each of which entails the reward of profits and the risk of losses?
Mostly. Not all transactions involved in producing consumer goods entail the reward of profits or the risk of losses. For example, many consumer products rely on the Linux operating system. This system is built by a network of largely unpaid volunteers and can be used free of charge. There is no profit or loss involved. But I’d agree that most of the transactions involved in the production of physical goods are driven by the profit motive, and the profiteer is generally at risk of a loss.
3. Is our statist willing to acknowledge that there is a difference between the voluntary collective organization of private sector workers and imposed unions?
Yes. However, I do think unions dealing with big corporations (who often deserve them) should be able to challenge their use of temporary private sector workers as a tactic to unfairly deal with their workers. If your company is so poorly managed that a majority of its employees have felt the need to band together to deal with it, you might want to consider whether you really want to work for the company.
4. Is our statist willing to admit that most “regulation” is written and drafted by existing industry in order to create barriers to market entry or increase profits by forcing consumers to buy unnecessary additional products/services?
No. While doubtless much of it is, I believe that much more is created by career bureaucrats employed by the government, though I could be wrong. For example, all the new legislation around carbon emissions is not being created by existing industry.
5. Does our statist believe mob rule is a legitimate form of governance? If yes, explain why mob rule is a better way of regulating industry than letting people decide on their own which products and services they can buy.
What the hell does “mob rule” mean? Is this implying majority rule? Assuming yes, then I’d say that most of the time, the free market is superior to the opinion of the majority in determining the best solution to a problem, but not always. For example, look at the tragedy of the commons. The free market is incredibly efficient at destroying common resources, if unregulated. Just ask any former cod fisherman from Newfoundland.
6. Does our statist use wealth, that was taken by force from people who earned it legitimately, from voluntary trade, in order to preach against those who earned their wealth from voluntary trade?
What the hell is this question even asking? I don’t get to take wealth by force. Who are these questions addressing? People in the government? I thought that statist just meant “not libertarian”.
7. Does our statist believe that thoughts or words can be a form of tangible property, which people may legitimately protect through the use of force?
I think copyright is reasonable. If I expend effort to produce a book, I think I should have the right to sell it at a profit, and that others should not be able to copy it without my permission. I am against patents on ideas. The current patent system is corrupt.
8. Does our statist recognize that democracy is simply a more palatable term for mob rule?
No. Majority does not equal mob. But I agree that a democracy that has not been corrupted by special interests is a form of majority rule. I don’t find the term majority rule unpalatable, but neither do I believe it is the right way to solve every problem.
I doubt Microsoft would go around committing genocide if there was no state. Why would they want to kill off their customer base?
Microsoft might not kill off their customer base, but they have used strong arm tactics in the past to make sure that hardware vendors weren’t able to sell to customers without including Windows, whether or not the customer wanted to pay for it. Being opposed to one collective (the government) but seemingly completely blind to any potential problem posed by others (corporations) seems incredibly naive to me.
9. Does our statist friend recognize that large corporations have no armies or police with which to threaten our freedoms, and that if they were to act against the wishes of the public, the public would simply cease to buy their products/services and put them into bankruptcy?
Corporations do indeed have armies and police. They use their power to coopt the government to enact laws and impose their will. The software industry has formed their own police force to go after piracy. Since large corporations are able to get into positions of virtual monopoly, individuals can be put in a position where they can’t “simply cease to buy” from them. Assuming that if the government magically disappeared tomorrow, corporations would not simply step up to fill the power vacuum seems, once again, naive at best.
10. Does our statist think that Marx and Lenin were off the mark in their economic theories, or does he agree with Marx, who assumed that mob imposed collectivism can lead to a happy prosperous society?
Marxism has failed miserably in every implementation.
11. If you believe in collectivism, why weren’t you willing to accept as final the judgement against communism rendered decades ago by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the impoverished condition of those remaining states where government controls the means of production?
If you don’t believe in collectivism, why do you believe that the large collectives called corporations are inherently virtuous? This seems pretty simplistic.