Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

In General Information, Lifestyle on December 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

The following was originally posted last November. Until the conclusion of the 2012 presidential (s)election, a dutiful media predicted that Christmas-season shoppers would buy slave-produced Chinese crappola by the metric ton. Those sales did not materialize and the dutiful media attributed it to everthing from “the looming fiscal cliff” to “the Sandy Hook massacre”…anything BUT the impending economic implosion.

Phyne Dyning Blog

If the corporate media is to be believed (WINK!), the Occupy Wall Street spin-off “Buy Nothing Day” held last Friday was…

…a bust for OWS-ers.  Lame-stream media dutifully reported that retail sales were approximately 7% higher than in 2010.  Therefore, goes the (il-logic), OWS had zero impact.


While hardline Rethuglicrats continued (and turned up the volume for) their disinformation about the Occupy movement, the corporate media dutifully banged a bass drum to entice shoppers to buy even more crap they do not need or really even want.  Sales may have been 7% “higher” than the previous year, but corporate retailers spent multiples more of that percentage on advertising and sales events.

Meanwhile, people noticed members of the movement at many area malls.  Shoppers who were exposed to Occupiers on Buy Nothing Day were puzzled that members of the movement did not appear to be the “dirty…

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Get Steamed: Japanese-style tilapia

In Recipies on December 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm

In ‘Eat your (Japanese-style) veggies’ I suggested serving steamed tilapia with the vegetable medley. Here’s a Japanese-inspired recipe for the fish.

Tilapia is a wonderfully versatile fish. It has a wonderfully mild, almost sweet, flavor and it has a silky, but firm texture. Its thin and delicate fillets can be baked, fried, poached, or steamed. Farm-raised tilapia is an economical alternative to flounder, halibut, or cod.

This is a simple-to-prepare recipe that is perfect for a light supper or lunch. It’s great for a weeknight supper, but it can be elegantly presented for an exotic special occasion meal as well. One, or two, palm-sized fillets provides an adequate portion for most adults.

You’ll need:

1 or 2 tilapia fillets per person

2 TBS soy sauce

2 TBS mirin

pinch ground ginger

pinch white pepper

4 green onions

Trim the green onions. Remove and reserve the dark green portions. Cut the white to light-green portion in half, lengthwise. Coarsely chop the dark green portion of the tops for garnish.

Combine all of the ingredients, except the fish and onions, in a shallow, non-reactive pan that is large enough to hold all of the fish in a single layer. Gently rinse the tilapia fillets and shake off any excess water. Lay the tilapia in the marinade and refrigerate for one hour, turning them once after thirty minutes.

If you would like a dipping sauce, prepare a second batch of marinade using the same ingredients in the same amounts. A pungent alternative dipping sauce can be made using equally mixed amounts of mirin and Sriracha sauce.

Prepare a steaming basket or rack. I prefer using a folding, metal steaming basket placed inside of a deep, 12-inch skillet. Add water to a level just below the bottom of the basket. The goal is to steam the fish, not poach it. To ensure that the fish fillets do not stick, I mist a bit of olive oil on the steamer basket leaves. Heat the skillet over medium heat until a gentle boil is reached. Lay the tilapia in a single layer on the rack or basket. Scatter the halved green onion portions over the fish, cover, and steam for 3-4 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flakes when forked. Serve with steamed white rice and Japanese-style vegetables. Garnish with the chopped green onion tops.

Serve with warm sake or ice-cold beer.

From Flyover Press: Why Do the Neocons Hate LRC?

In General Information on December 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm

[“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi    When I began seeing “dangerous” juxtaposed with “anarchism”, “anarcho-capitalism”, and “libertarian socialism”, I began to realize we were making ground and that the slumbering love for freedom in the masses may be starting to stir. Ideology devoted to inviolable equal rights, voluntary economic policies, and peace is, indeed dangerous…to the state which abhors those things. PD]

Why Do the Neocons Hate LRC?

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

English: Southern Poverty Law Center. Montgome...
Southern Poverty Law Center. Montgomery, Alabama.

The other day, the Southern Poverty Law Center discovered a set of ideas that had to be stomped out of existence: anarcho-capitalism. That’s, of course. But the SPLC will have to get in line behind the rest of the neocons: the NY Times, the Washington Post, National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, and the rest of the gang – none of them much like this site.

Is that a reason to despair, or crow? Well, let’s examine the neocons. As Ron Paul has pointed out, they call themselves “big-government conservatives” and “national greatness conservatives.” This bunch, which runs the Republican party, the conservative movement, and some of the left, too, has been Ron’s most vicious enemy. They know how close he is to LRC, and that he’s said it’s the “first site I read every morning.”

Neocons believe deeply in militarism, the corporate State, the police State, the welfare State, the national security State, permanent war, ultra-nationalism, central banking, global empire, and the “noble lie.” The noble lie, by the way, is any propaganda that helps foist their rule on us, and is therefore justified. In other words, they’re fascists.

And whom do the neocons hate the most? Whom do they feel most threatened by? Libertarians. Not the “libertarians” paid by the Koch Bros., who are effective allies of the neocons. But Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists, we who advocate Austrian economics, truth-telling history, and real freedom and property. We who understand that society does not need a set of despicable overlords, and that – in Murray Rothbard’s words – “the State is a gang of thieves writ large.” We who hold that the moral law applies across the board, and that one is not exempted from it by a government suit.

If something is wrong for you or me, it is also wrong for the cop, the soldier, the mayor, the governor, the general, the Fed chairman, the president. Theft does not become acceptable when they call it taxation, counterfeiting when they call it monetary policy, kidnapping when they call it the draft, mass murder when they call it foreign policy. We understand that it is never acceptable to wield violence nor the threat of violence against the innocent, whether by the mugger or the politician.

When it comes to that cabal of plutocrats and their henchmen known as Washington, DC, we do not salute . We do not consent to their dastardly deeds, nor their rule over us. And we never refer to the government as “we.”

So why is LRC in particular so hated by the neocons, the fascists, the commissars, the reich-wingers? Well, we only have to ask: what is the world center of anarcho-capitalism? What has turned more neocons into libertarians than anything else? What teaches the philosophy of freedom, real ecoomics, and truthful history to millions all over the world? What exposes everything from the Pentagon to Big Pharma, official historians to Keynesian economists? What is the largest circulation anarcho-capitalist publication in history? What, that is, makes the neocons spitting mad? Well, it’s LRC.

Ever since I turned my rolodex into an email list and then into a website, we’ve been making real progress, especially among the young, in this country and many others. You should see the moving and thrilling emails I get. People credit LRC with changing their lives. And that is what infuriates – and scares – the neocons. They want to shut LRC down.

So, what should we do about it? For you, as for me, there is only one answer: carry the intellectual fight into their homeland. Never despair. Never stop. Never give up. Never retreat. For we have the truth on our side. We have the great ideas.

I would be so grateful to have your help in telling the neocons: Get lost. Indeed, I can’t do it without you. Once a year I ask for your help in keeping this site not only on the air, but growing and more influential. Please, bug the neocons and all who want their boots on our necks. Help LRC make 2013 our most effective year for freedom since our founding in 1999.

The huge, centralized army of the bad guys appears to be winning. But our guerillas are driving them crazy. And guerrillas always beat big, centralized armies. As Ron Paul showed, the young are increasingly with us. The neocons are yesterday’s men.

Every dollar you send is a slap in the face to the arrogant enemies of liberty, to those who say, with Mussolini, “Everything within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” If you know the State is our greatest enemy on earth, if you appreciate LRC as its opponent, if you support our fight, if you stand with us, if you want to be able to continue to read a new LRC 6 days a week, please make a generous gift. I would be so grateful.

From Flyover Press: Government Dependents Outnumber Those With Private Sector Jobs in 11 U.S. States

In General Information on December 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

[Remember, ‘job’ and ‘government job’ (an oxymoron) are not synonyms. Once you add both of those sectors together, you create a mighty large animal in need of daily feeding. PD]

Government Dependents Outnumber Those With Private Sector Jobs In 11 U.S. States

From: The Economic Collapse

Posted: 26 Dec 2012 05:24 PM PST

The Number Of People On Welfare Exceeds The Number Of People With Jobs In 11 StatesAmerica is rapidly becoming a nation of takers. An increasing number of Americans expect the government to take care of them from the cradle to the grave, and they expect the government to dig into the pockets of others in order to pay for it all. This philosophy can be very seductive, but what happens when the number of takers eventually outnumbers the number of producers? In 11 different U.S. states, the number of government dependents exceeds the number of private sector workers. This list of states includes some of the biggest states in the country: California, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Maine, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, New Mexico and Hawaii. It is interesting to note that seven of those states were won by Barack Obama on election night. In California, there are 139 “takers” for every 100 private sector workers. That is crazy! The American people have become absolutely addicted to government money, and it gets worse with each passing year. If you can believe it, entitlements accounted for 62 percent of all federal spending in fiscal year 2012. It would be one thing if we could afford all of this spending, but unfortunately we simply cannot. We are drowning in debt, and we are stealing more than a hundred million more dollars from future generations with each passing hour. No bank robber in history can match that kind of theft.

Yes, we will always need a safety net. There are many people out there that simply cannot take care of themselves. We certainly don’t want to see anyone sleeping in the streets or starving to death.

But if the number of people jumping on to the safety net continues to grow at the current pace, the net will break and it will not be available for any of us.

For example, the number of Americans on food stamps grew from about 17 million in 2000 to more than 47 million today. It nearly tripled in just 12 years.

What will happen if it nearly triples again over the next 12 years?

The federal government even has a website ( that guides people through the process of figuring out what welfare programs they can take advantage of.

Overall, the federal government runs nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” and more than 100 million Americans are already enrolled in at least one of those programs.

Yes, I realize that figure is very hard to believe. I had a hard time believing it when I first came across it.

And it is even more shocking when you realize that the figure of 100 million Americans does not even include those who only receive Social Security or Medicare.

Today, there are 56.76 million Americans on Social Security.

To support all of those Americans on Social Security, there are only about 94.75 million full-time private sector workers.

So there are just 1.67 full-time private sector workers to support each American that is on Social Security.

Medicare is also growing like crazy. As I wrote about the other day, the number of Americans on Medicare is expected to grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

How much farther can we push things before the entire system collapses?

In order to support this exploding entitlement system, we need a lot more Americans to be working good paying jobs.

Unfortunately, millions of good paying jobs continue to be shipped overseas and they aren’t coming back.

We are even losing good jobs to our own prisoners. The United States has the largest prison population in the world by far, and the exploitation of that low wage labor pool has become a boom industry in America. Even Microsoft and Boeing are using prison labor now. Just check out this video.

Meanwhile, there are millions upon millions of law-abiding Americans that cannot find jobs and that cannot take care of their families.

So poverty and dependence on the government are absolutely exploding. We have a system that is so messed up that it is hard to even put it into words. The middle class is being viciously shredded, and most Americans just continue to applaud the politicians from both parties that are doing this to us.

Our economy is being gutted at the same time that the welfare state is experiencing unprecedented growth. Instead of giving us real answers, our “leaders” just continue to borrow, spend and print more money. We are about to hit the debt limit again, and the Obama administration is saying that we should just do away with the debt limit permanently.

Most of our politicians don’t seem to understand that they are systematically destroying our economy and the bright futures that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.

But there are some politicians out there that get it. Unfortunately, many of them live in other countries. For example, Canadian MP Pierre Poilievre seems to have a firm grasp on what debt is doing to the United States. The following are some excerpts from one of his speeches…

“By 2020, the US Government will be spending more annually on debt interest than the total combined military budgets of China, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Spain, Turkey, and Israel.”

“Through government spending the indulgence of one is the burden of another; through government borrowing, the excess of one generation becomes the yoke of the next; through international bailouts, one nation’s extravagance becomes another nation’s debt”

“Everyone takes, nobody makes, work doesn’t pay, indulgence doesn’t cost, money is free, and money is worthless.”

You can see his entire speech right here.

And if we continue down this path it is most definitely true that our money will eventually become worthless at some point. Just today I was down at the grocery store, and a can of chili that I was able to get on sale for 75 cents a couple of years ago now has a “sale price” of $1.69. If the Federal Reserve keeps recklessly printing dollars, eventually we will be fortunate to get a can of chili for 10 bucks. Things cost too much already, and the Fed seems absolutely determined to cut the legs out from under the U.S. dollar.

Unfortunately, printing money is the only way that we are going to be able to service the gigantic amounts of debt that we are accumulating.

According to Chris Cox and Bill Archer, two men who served on Bill Clinton’s Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, there is no way in the world that we could raise taxes high enough to pay for all of the obligations that we are currently taking on. They say that even if we taxed all corporations and all individuals at a 100% tax rate on all income over $66,193, “it wouldn’t be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities.

Are you starting to get an idea of how much trouble we are in?

We don’t have enough money to pay for all of this.

We are broke.

Our current economy is a debt-induced illusion, and we will soon be waking up to a tremendous amount of pain.

Are you ready?

Uniform Recall: Police costumes do not impart common sense on the wearer

In Editorial on December 28, 2012 at 3:04 pm
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Nobody's Fool" (Image Internet Movie Firearms Database)

Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Nobody’s Fool” (Image: Internet Movie Firearms Database)

“Ollie, you know my feelings about arming morons: You arm one. You’ve got to arm them all. Otherwise it wouldn’t be good sport.” (‘Judge Flatt’ – Nobody’s Fool 1994)

We’ve all heard the refrain: “Only the police and military should be permitted to have guns in America.”

That would be tantamount to arming the least responsible party, if deputies of the Polk County (Iowa) Sheriff Department set the standard. Sheriff William McCarthy’s band of mis-armed misfits has done it again.

According to a story published today in the Des Moines Register, Deputy Michael Lose reported a burglary in which his duty sidearm and four other weapons were stolen. Missing, are two Glock .40-caliber handguns, an Ithaca 20-guage shotgun, a 12-gauge H&R Ultra Slug Hunter shotgun, and a 12-gauge Remington shotgun. One of the missing Glocks was Lose’s department-issued (taxpayer funded) duty weapon.

The handguns and ammunition for them were in the center console of his garaged truck and the long guns were ‘laying on the garage floor next to the truck’.

But wait! There’s more!

Lose admitted to investigating officers that his overhead garage door ‘may have been left open on accident’.

Guns (or common sense) have not been friends to McCarthy’s deputies in recent years.

In the summer of 2009, Deputy Keith Onley allegedly left a round chambered in a shotgun in his displayed cruiser (ironically honoring ‘the heroes of public safety’) in a public park. A twelve year-old boy pulled the shotgun’s trigger and the resulting discharge injured a three year-old girl standing nearby.

Earlier that year, Deputy Dale Petersen shot a suicidal man with what he believed was a ‘less-than-lethal’ beanbag round. Ooopsie-daisy…it was actually an unauthorized frangible door breaching round. It was never explained how Petersen came to have the unauthorized ammunition (now known as ‘the mystery shell’) in his cache. The county (taxpayers) settled with the deceased man’s family for around $400,000.

Petersen later distinguished himself in the summer of 2012 when he shot his mouth off (pun intentional) at two female bicyclists while he wrote them a series of nonsensical tickets. A judge later dismissed Petersen’s tickets. McCarthy failed take the opportunity to dismiss Petersen and thereby raise the IQ of his department.

Until McCarthy’s marauders can keep better tabs on their weapons, they should be issued: Defensive Implement – Hand-operated – Air-cooled


From Flyover Press: Texas State Trooper sued. Allegedly conducts roadside cavity search on two women using same glove

In General Information on December 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Yikes! I don’t even know where to begin on this one. Dr. LaBaume was so thunderstruck by the report that he asked, “Two questions: 1) What kind of sick, perverted son-of-a-bitch does it take to hold a job like this? and 2) Why do we put up with it?”


Dr. Stanley Milgram answered LaBaume’s first question over forty years ago: “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.” In short, a police academy trainer, a field training officer, or a member of the command staff told the trooper these kinds of searches are a ‘necessary part of the job’ AND either implied or directly stated that results (arrests) are necessary unless the trooper wants to give up their status as an enforcer.

We put up with it, and we will likely put up with much more…because of the process of institutionalization, implemented by: depersonalization of the individual, forced obedience to rules, destruction of the self, threat of (or actual) physical assault, and control of aspects of life.


Female US cop caught on tape giving two women body cavity search during routine traffic stop… and ‘using the SAME gloves on both’

Two questions: 1) What kind of sick, perverted son-of-a-bitch does it take to hold a job like this? and 2) Why do we put up with it? — jtl, 419

By Daily Mail Reporter

Texas Department of Public Safety

Two Texas women are suing after state troopers subjected them to a humiliating and invasive ‘roadside body cavity search‘ that was caught on video.

Female trooper Kellie Helleson is seen in the footage aggressively searching the private parts of Angel Dobbs, 38, and her niece, Ashley Dobbs, 24, in front of passing cars.

The women, who claim the trooper used the same rubber glove for both of them, were initially stopped by Helleson’s colleague David Farrell on State Highway 161 near Irving after he saw one of them throw a cigarette butt out the window.


Invasive: The women, pictured right, is suing after female trooper Kellie Helleson, left, aggressively searched her private parts Invasive: Female trooper Kellie Helleson, left, aggressively searched their private parts

Farrell can be heard in the disturbing video questioning the pair about marijuana though he failed to find any evidence of the drug in the vehicle.

However, he requested the women be searches after allegedly claiming they were ‘acting weird.’

The lawsuit states he then tried to ‘morph this situation into a DWI investigation,’ according to the Dallas Morning News.

Angel Dobbs passed a roadside sobriety test and the women were given warnings for littering.

Pulled over: The women were initially stopped by Helleson's colleague David Farrell on State Highway 161 near Irving, TexasPulled over: The women were initially stopped by Helleson’s colleague David Farrell on State Highway 161 near Irving, Texas

Angel Dobbs said Helleson irritated an anal cyst she suffers from during the search, causing her ‘severe and continuing pain and discomfort.’

The suit said: ‘Angel Dobbs was overwhelmed with emotion and a feeling of helplessness and reacted stating that Helleson had just violated her in a most horrific manner.’

The two women are also suing the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, who they claim ignored previous complaints about ‘unlawful strip searches, cavity searches and the like.’

 Play Video

Lawsuit: The women are also suing the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety for ignoring prior complaints about searches

The Dobbs’ lawyer Scott H. Palmer said the shocking incident, which was filmed on one of the trooper’s dash-mounted cameras, was a roadside ‘sexual assault.’

He said the Texas Rangers investigated his clients’ complaints but failed to take any action against the troopers.

‘You can see what’s happening clearly,’ he told the Dallas Morning News of the video. ‘No one’s ever seen the likes of this. We can’t let them get away with it.’VIDEO

Read more:

The new and improved Flyover Press!

In General Information, Shameless plug on December 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm

The Masthead for Flyover Press

Just a reminder to Phyne Dyning subscribers and readers, Flyover Press is moving.

My friend, Dr. Jimmy LaBaume, is ending Flyover’s long-time run as an emailed libertarian resource and has relocated to WordPress at the URL .

Phyne Dyning will maintain a hotlink at the top of our pages for folks who may lose track of Flyover or who have not yet subscribed.

Dr. LaBaume is a retired professor of economics at Sul Ross State University. He now teaches Austrian school economics as developed by Ludwig von Mises and his student, Murray Rothbard. Classes meet daily and consist of independent readings with commentary from Dr. LaBaume liberally sprinkled throughout.

There are no examinations! LaBaume leaves matters of student attrition to the principles of natural selection.

And, now, the Shameless Plug:

Flyover Press is an excellent resource for individuals interested in anarcho-capitalism, as well as garden-variety anarchism.

As a resource for those interested in libertarian-socialism, Phyne Dyning regularly harvests material from Flyover (with permission) for republication and commentary from the libertarian-socialist perspective. Phyne Dyning is a regular submitter to Flyover Press and is proud to have material published next to libertarian giants like Lew Rockwell and economic powerhouses like Thomas Sowell. The anarcho-capitalists at The Dollar Vigilante make regular appearances on Flyover as well.

The ride can get bumpy on Flyover. If you are uncomfortable with ‘forbidden’ words, anarchist philosophy, or ideology disloyal to the central state…you may be aghast at what you’ll find on LaBaume’s site. The best advice I can offer, if you fit in the easily offended category, is to leave the Flyover site without comment. The doctor has a low tolerance for fools and cranks.

All of that said, Phyne Dyning is not a fawning fan or sycophant of LaBaume and Flyover. Phyne Dyning promotes libertarianism in the economic style of Bakunin and Kropotkin. Although there are some similarities, von Mises and Rothbard are favored by LaBaume. Key to our agreement is the concept that all economic systems must be entirely voluntary and that the state is the greatest enemy of man’s full potential.

I encourage my readers to head on over to Flyover. Like decent whiskey, it is a stout drink and it may burn a little on the way down. But it’s damned good stuff.

Secession: “If you love us, let us go.”

In Editorial on December 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm

The President’s face was solemn and his eyes were heavy with sadness as he spoke these words:


“In the past week, our nation has been visited by horror. And in its wake, our country stands deeply divided on issues of pubic safety versus individual liberty. Now, more than ever, it is obvious that there are Two Americas.

Look, we’ve tried. We have honestly fought the good fight to remain a united people. But we have failed. We are, in fact, many people divided into two factions: one believes in the necessary sovereignty of the State, and one believes in the natural sovereignty of the individual.

Therefore, I am asking Congress to immediately allow states where its majority of citizens hold dear the right of individual sovereignty to proceed with secession from these United States of America and to make their fortunes…”

I was jolted awake by my alarm clock.

We are two Americas and they two are polar opposites. We know what those differences are and it is pointless to continually enumerate them.

Marital divorce is an ugly thing, yet it is legal in every state. Civilized society demands that there be a peaceful mechanism for couples, once deeply in love with each other, to go their separate and peaceful ways.

It would be inhumane to force them to endure each other in a home filled with dislike, distrust, and deeply held differences on domestic policy.

It is equally inhumane to force an entire American people to unwillingly suffer the presence of each other when they have, likewise, grown apart.

Rarely, but often enough to mention it, divorced couples become fast friends. This kind of amicable relationship most often succeeds when the divorce was mutually recognized to be best for everyone concerned.

All of us have had failed friendships.

Almost fifteen years ago, I enjoyed a close friendship with a young attorney cum newspaperman who blew into town. We bonded immediately when I jokingly interjected, “because the ambulance he was chasing ran out of gas just inside the city limits” in response to a social club leader asking why he chose to settle among us.

Smokey Briggs and I became fast friends after that. We spotted each other as we lifted weights, we hunted wild pigs, and we dropped in on each other at the end of trying days with a cold six-pack of beer.

And then there was a real, or imagined, slight. We parted company.

For the next three years he and I glowered at each other from our respective sides of the street. Actually, it was more of a disdainful glance. We had nothing pleasant to say to each other and we entirely avoided each other’s presence.

But our broken friendship remained a civil relationship. We did not seek each other out in bars or hurl insults at one another (much) when we ran into each other at the post office. We dutifully caressed our egos as we sat glumly apart at the social events we were obligated to attend as businessmen in a struggling town with few businesses.

We simply parted ways.

It was the best possible outcome to a broken friendship.

Neither of us cared much for our new relationship. And, in a few years, we tentatively resumed some very limited social activities together. It was awkward for me at first and, although he has never said so, I am certain those early days of reconciliation were difficult for him as well.

It took a few more years for us to get comfortable with setting aside the, now forgotten, differences we once had.

A few years later, I moved from West Texas to seek out better fortunes. After a morning of shooting at the range we shared in building (he did the lion’s share of work), in the hot sun of an early summer, and in the parking lot of a characteristically decrepit desert diner, I shook his hand and bid him farewell.

In recent years we have irregularly corresponded, formed a business partnership neither of us had time for, and consulted with each other during troubling times. We continue to exchange holiday cards in which he (a marginal Roman Catholic) and I (a marginal Jew) good naturedly salute each other with,  “Dear Heathen Bastard”.

Our friendship bloomed, died, and re-emerged. How?

When we had our disagreement, we had the good sense to part company before we did irreparable damage to each other.

A nation can, and must, be equally sensible.

Oath Keepers: “Feds accomplices to school killings…” (Or, “Pot, meet Kettle”)

In General Information on December 15, 2012 at 10:38 am


Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, published a statement shortly after the tragic and horrific murders of schoolchildren in Connecticut. In his statement, Rhodes issued an indictment of the American central state as accomplices to the killings.

Rhodes did so by alleging that federal laws regulating possession and use of firearms facilitated the killer: particularly as those regulations apply to public school grounds.

I agree.

But Mr. Rhodes neglected to acknowledge the complicity of law enforcement, including his vaunted Oath Keepers, who enforce those regulations and who serve in bowing obedience to the central state.

Rhodes closed his statement with an assertion that, had a school employee been armed, there may have been a chance to save the lives of the children. He makes special mention of his musing that “…one of the teachers may have been a veteran with the training and skill to use a firearm if one had been available”.

Two points:

First: If a school employee would have had a firearm and the firearm’s presence had become known to a school administrator, the police would have been summoned and the employee would have been tossed, by the police, into a cage. Oath Keepers all over America gleefully enforce laws prohibiting mere serfs from possessing firearms without the proper papers from De Massa or in an area where De Massa says serfs may not possess them.

Second: Rhodes belies his belief in the superiority of men and women adorned in official costumes of the state when he wistfully muses “one of the teachers may have been a veteran”. It may come as a surprise to Mr. Rhodes to learn that many civilian, non-veterans are highly competent with weapons. The fact that a person now wears, or once wore, an official costume of the state as a police officer or as one of its hired killers in the military does not magically impart marksmanship skill. As a firearms instructor, Rhodes probably knows this but could not set aside his belief in the natural superiority of the Praetorians.

At his statement’s core, Rhodes railed at government edicts that disarm ordinary folk or intimidate them from doing so with threats of prison time.

But Mr. Rhodes, who apprehends and cages the people who dare to violate those edicts?

Congress? SCOTUS? POTUS?


Your colleagues in ‘law enforcement’ do it, Mr. Rhodes.

I am willing to bet you the cop’s lunch of a convenience store day-old wiener that every one of your treasured Oath Keepers has arrested some poor slob for a weapons violation based on some arbitrarily set rule or because the poor slob didn’t have a valid carry permit from De Massa.

By damning the federal government as accomplices to the killings, Rhodes damns himself and his organization.

If Rhodes and his merry band of Oath Keepers want to find accomplices to yesterday’s horrendous crime, they should look in a mirror. Law enforcement officers, many of them Oath Keepers, facilitated the killings by enforcing laws Rhodes claims to abhor.

They hate the laws they enforce, but do it anyway. Why?

Mr. Rhodes’ vaunted Oath Keepers like their jobs as Praetorians for the ruling class. Their concealed carry permits are ‘good anywhere’. If they are stopped by one of their fellow tax collectors in a traffic stop, they simply whip out their Official Overseer Papers and Badge as issued by De Massa. They don’t need to account to the detaining officer why they need to carry a gun or ‘assume the position’ until their carry permit from De Massa is validated.

Consequently, I agree with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s assertion that Oath Keepers is a dangerous group.

Dangerous? How?

Their very existence lulls us into a dangerous belief that they will suddenly ‘stand down’ if they are ordered to violate our Constitutional protections.

Thus far, they crabbed away from their oaths and have cheerfully enforced every edict that made yesterday’s killings possible.

Those murdered schoolchildren naively believed that the police would protect them. They did not, because they could not. Worse, the officers those children thought would protect them make it easier (daily) for Death to find his prey.

The Case for Anarchy and How It Would Work

In Intro to Libertarianism, Lifestyle on December 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm

My good friend, and our friend in liberty, Dr. Jimmy LaBaume sent me the following Rothbard essay under the title “How Anarcho-Capitalism Would Work”. I feel Dr. LaBaume’s title to be inaccurate. “How Anarchy Works” would be much more suitable, since libertarian-socialism and anarcho-capitalism are both based in voluntary economic systems.

As a libertarian-socialist of the Bakunin-Kropotkin school, I disdain the definition of property to include anything the owner did not produce with his hands. I also disdain the concept of inheritance, as it is the last vestige of passed on title of nobility. That said, one can interchange “anarcho-captitalism” and “libertarian-socialism” at will throughout the Rothbard piece.

It is a long article, but well worth reading. A most important part of the essay deals with a typical rejection of anarchism: The system is not perfect. Neither is state capitalism or state socialism! Yet the statists insist that anarchy achieve something the statist has never accomplished…but persists in assuming it is the most perfect system.

The state has killed, or sucked dry, the lives of millions over most of man’s history. It is time to try a ‘new’ system. Doctor LaBaume favors the anarcho-captitalist model. I favor the libertarian-socialist model. The main point of both, is the voluntary nature between the participants. The model Rothbard suggests would work equally well under a system of voluntary socialism.

It is time to give anarchy a try!

Murray Rothbard delivered this talk 32 years ago at the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy (ASPLP), Washington, DC: December 28, 1974. It was first published in The Libertarian Forum, volume 7.1, January 1975, available in PDF.

In attempting to outline how a “society without a state” – that is, an anarchist society – might function successfully, I would first like to defuse two common but mistaken criticisms of this approach. First, is the argument that in providing for such defense or protection services as courts, police, or even law itself, I am simply smuggling the state back into society in another form, and that therefore the system I am both analyzing and advocating is not “really” anarchism.

This sort of criticism can only involve us in an endless and arid dispute over semantics. Let me say from the beginning that I define the state as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as “taxation”; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area. An institution not possessing either of these properties is not and cannot be, in accordance with my definition, a state

On the other hand, I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of an individual. Anarchists oppose the state because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.

Nor is our definition of the state arbitrary, for these two characteristics have been possessed by what is generally acknowledged to be states throughout recorded history. The state, by its use of physical coercion, has arrogated to itself a compulsory monopoly of defense services over its territorial jurisdiction. But it is certainly conceptually possible for such services to be supplied by private, non-state institutions, and indeed such services have historically been supplied by other organizations than the state. To be opposed to the state is then not necessarily to be opposed to services that have often been linked with it; to be opposed to the state does not necessarily imply that we must be opposed to police protection, courts, arbitration, the minting of money, postal service, or roads and highways. Some anarchists have indeed been opposed to police and to all physical coercion in defense of person and property, but this is not inherent in and is fundamentally irrelevant to the anarchist position, which is precisely marked by opposition to all physical coercion invasive of, or aggressing against, person and property.

The crucial role of taxation may be seen in the fact that the state is the only institution or organization in society which regularly and systematically acquires its income through the use of physical coercion. All other individuals or organizations acquire their income voluntarily, either (1) through the voluntary sale of goods and services to consumers on the market, or (2) through voluntary gifts or donations by members or other donors. If I cease or refrain from purchasing Wheaties on the market, the Wheaties producers do not come after me with a gun or the threat of imprisonment to force me to purchase; if I fail to join the American Philosophical Association, the association may not force me to join or prevent me from giving up my membership. Only the state can do so; only the state can confiscate my property or put me in jail if I do not pay its tax tribute. Therefore, only the state regularly exists and has its very being by means of coercive depredations on private property.

Neither is it legitimate to challenge this sort of analysis by claiming that in some other sense, the purchase of Wheaties or membership in the APA is in some way “coercive.” Anyone who is still unhappy with this use of the term “coercion” can simply eliminate the word from this discussion and substitute for it “physical violence or the threat thereof,” with the only loss being in literary style rather than in the substance of the argument. What anarchism proposes to do, then, is to abolish the state, that is, to abolish the regularized institution of aggressive coercion.

It need hardly be added that the state habitually builds upon its coercive source of income by adding a host of other aggressions upon society, ranging from economic controls to the prohibition of pornography to the compelling of religious observance to the mass murder of civilians in organized warfare. In short, the state, in the worlds of Albert Jay Nock, “claims and exercises a monopoly of crime” over its territorial area.

The second criticism I would like to defuse before beginning the main body of the paper is the common charge that anarchists “assume that all people are good” and that without the state no crime would be committed. In short, that anarchism assumes that with the abolition of the state a New Anarchist Man will emerge, cooperative, humane, and benevolent, so that no problem of crime will then plague the society. I confess that I do not understand the basis for this charge. Whatever other schools of anarchism profess – and I do not believe that they are open to the charge – I certainly do not adopt this view. I assume with most observers that mankind is a mixture of good and evil, of cooperative and criminal tendencies.

In my view, the anarchist society is one which maximizes the tendencies for the good and the cooperative, while it minimizes both the opportunity and the moral legitimacy of the evil and the criminal. If the anarchist view is correct and the state is indeed the great legalized and socially legitimated channel for all manner of antisocial crime – theft, oppression, mass murder – on a massive scale, then surely the abolition of such an engine of crime can do nothing but favor the good in man and discourage the bad.

A further point: in a profound sense, no social system, whether anarchist or statist, can work at all unless most people are “good” in the sense that they are not all hell-bent upon assaulting and robbing their neighbors. If everyone were so disposed, no amount of protection, whether state or private, could succeed in staving off chaos. Furthermore, the more that people are disposed to be peaceful and not aggress against their neighbors, the more successfully any social system will work, and the fewer resources will need to be devoted to police protection. The anarchist view holds that, given the “nature of man,” given the degree of goodness or badness at any point in time, anarchism will maximize the opportunities for the good and minimize the channels for the bad. The rest depends on the values held by the individual members of society. The only further point that needs to be made is that by eliminating the living example and the social legitimacy of the massive legalized crime of the state, anarchism will to a large extent promote peaceful values in the minds of the public.

We cannot of course deal here with the numerous arguments in favor of anarchism or against the state, moral, political, and economic. Nor can we take up the various goods and services now provided by the state and show how private individuals and groups will be able to supply them far more efficiently on the free market. Here we can only deal with perhaps the most difficult area, the area where it is almost universally assumed that the state must exist and act, even if it is only a “necessary evil” instead of a positive good: the vital realm of defense or protection of person and property against aggression. Surely, it is universally asserted, the state is at least vitally necessary to provide police protection, the judicial resolution of disputes and enforcement of contracts, and the creation of the law itself that is to be enforced. My contention is that all of these admittedly necessary services of protection can be satisfactorily and efficiently supplied by private persons and institutions on the free market.

One important caveat before we begin the body of this paper: new proposals such as anarchism are almost always gauged against the implicit assumption that the present, or statist system works to perfection. Any lacunae or difficulties with the picture of the anarchist society are considered net liabilities, and enough to dismiss anarchism out of hand. It is, in short, implicitly assumed that the state is doing its self-assumed job of protecting person and property to perfection. We cannot here go into the reasons why the state is bound to suffer inherently from grave flaws and inefficiencies in such a task. All we need do now is to point to the black and unprecedented record of the state through history: no combination of private marauders can possibly begin to match the state’s unremitting record of theft, confiscation, oppression, and mass murder. No collection of Mafia or private bank robbers can begin to compare with all the Hiroshimas, Dresdens, and Lidices and their analogues through the history of mankind.

This point can be made more philosophically: it is illegitimate to compare the merits of anarchism and statism by starting with the present system as the implicit given and then critically examining only the anarchist alternative. What we must do is to begin at the zero point and then critically examine both suggested alternatives. Suppose, for example, that we were all suddenly dropped down on the earth de novo and that we were all then confronted with the question of what societal arrangements to adopt. And suppose then that someone suggested: “We are all bound to suffer from those of us who wish to aggress against their fellow men. Let us then solve this problem of crime by handing all of our weapons to the Jones family, over there, by giving all of our ultimate power to settle disputes to that family. In that way, with their monopoly of coercion and of ultimate decision making, the Jones family will be able to protect each of us from each other.” I submit that this proposal would get very short shrift, except perhaps from the Jones family themselves. And yet this is precisely the common argument for the existence of the state. When we start from zero point, as in the case of the Jones family, the question of “who will guard the guardians?” becomes not simply an abiding lacuna in the theory of the state but an overwhelming barrier to its existence.

A final caveat: the anarchist is always at a disadvantage in attempting to forecast the shape of the future anarchist society. For it is impossible for observers to predict voluntary social arrangements, including the provision of goods and services, on the free market. Suppose, for example, that this were the year 1874 and that someone predicted that eventually there would be a radio-manufacturing industry. To be able to make such a forecast successfully, does he have to be challenged to state immediately how many radio manufacturers there would be a century hence, how big they would be, where they would be located, what technology and marketing techniques they would use, and so on? Obviously, such a challenge would make no sense, and in a profound sense the same is true of those who demand a precise portrayal of the pattern of protection activities on the market. Anarchism advocates the dissolution of the state into social and market arrangements, and these arrangements are far more flexible and less predictable than political institutions. The most that we can do, then, is to offer broad guidelines and perspectives on the shape of a projected anarchist society.

One important point to make here is that the advance of modern technology makes anarchistic arrangements increasingly feasible. Take, for example, the case of lighthouses, where it is often charged that it is unfeasible for private lighthouse operators to row out to each ship to charge it for use of the light. Apart from the fact that this argument ignores the successful existence of private lighthouses in earlier days, as in England in the eighteenth century, another vital consideration is that modern electronic technology makes charging each ship for the light far more feasible. Thus, the ship would have to have paid for an electronically controlled beam which could then be automatically turned on for those ships which had paid for the service.

Let us turn now to the problem of how disputes – in particular disputes over alleged violations of person and property – would be resolved in an anarchist society. First, it should be noted that all disputes involve two parties: the plaintiff, the alleged victim of the crime or tort and the defendant, the alleged aggressor. In many cases of broken contract, of course, each of the two parties alleging that the other is the culprit is at the same time a plaintiff and a defendant.

An important point to remember is that any society, be it statist or anarchist, has to have some way of resolving disputes that will gain a majority consensus in society. There would be no need for courts or arbitrators if everyone were omniscient and knew instantaneously which persons were guilty of any given crime or violation of contract. Since none of us is omniscient, there has to be some method of deciding who is the criminal or lawbreaker which will gain legitimacy; in short, whose decision will be accepted by the great majority of the public.

In the first place, a dispute may be resolved voluntarily between the two parties themselves, either unaided or with the help of a third mediator. This poses no problem, and will automatically be accepted by society at large. It is so accepted even now, much less in a society imbued with the anarchistic values of peaceful cooperation and agreement. Secondly and similarly, the two parties, unable to reach agreement, may decide to submit voluntarily to the decision of an arbitrator. This agreement may arise either after a dispute has arisen, or be provided for in advance in the original contract. Again, there is no problem in such an arrangement gaining legitimacy. Even in the present statist era, the notorious inefficiency and coercive and cumbersome procedures of the politically run government courts has led increasing numbers of citizens to turn to voluntary and expert arbitration for a speedy and harmonious settling of disputes.

Thus, William C. Wooldridge has written that

Arbitration has grown to proportions that make the courts a secondary recourse in many areas and completely superfluous in others. The ancient fear of the courts that arbitration would “oust” them of their jurisdiction has been fulfilled with a vengeance the common-law judges probably never anticipated. Insurance companies adjust over fifty thousand claims a year among themselves through arbitration, and the American Arbitration Association (AAA), with headquarters in New York and twenty-five regional offices across the country, last year conducted over twenty-two thousand arbitrations. Its twenty-three thousand associates available to serve as arbitrators may outnumber the total number of judicial personnel … in the United States…. Add to this the unknown number of individuals who arbitrate disputes within particular industries or in particular localities, without formal AAA affiliation, and the quantitatively secondary role of official courts begins to be apparent.[1]

Wooldridge adds the important point that, in addition to the speed of arbitration procedures vis-à-vis the courts, the arbitrators can proceed as experts in disregard of the official government law; in a profound sense, then, they serve to create a voluntary body of private law. “In other words,” states Wooldridge, “the system of extralegal, voluntary courts has progressed hand in hand with a body of private law; the rules of the state are circumvented by the same process that circumvents the forums established for the settlement of disputes over those rules…. In short, a private agreement between two people, a bilateral ‘law,’ has supplanted the official law. The writ of the sovereign has ceased to run, and for it is substituted a rule tacitly or explicitly agreed to by the parties.” Wooldridge concludes that “if an arbitrator can choose to ignore a penal damage rule or the status of limitations applicable to the claim before him (and it is generally conceded that he has that power), arbitration can be viewed as a practically revolutionary instrument for self-liberation from the law….”[2]

It may be objected that arbitration only works successfully because the courts enforce the award of the arbitrator. Wooldridge points out, however, that arbitration was unenforceable in the American courts before 1920, but that this did not prevent voluntary arbitration from being successful and expanding in the United States and in England. He points, furthermore, to the successful operations of merchant courts since the Middle Ages, those courts which successfully developed the entire body of the law merchant. None of those courts possessed the power of enforcement. He might have added the private courts of shippers which developed the body of admiralty law in a similar way.

How then did these private, “anarchistic,” and voluntary courts ensure the acceptance of their decisions? By the method of social ostracism, and by the refusal to deal any further with the offending merchant. This method of voluntary “enforcement,” indeed provided highly successful. Wooldridge writes that “the merchants’ courts were voluntary, and if a man ignored their judgment, he could not be sent to jail…. Nevertheless, it is apparent that … [their] decisions were generally respected even by the losers; otherwise people would never have used them in the first place…. Merchants made their courts work simply by agreeing to abide by the results. The merchant who broke the understanding would not be sent to jail, to be sure, but neither would he long continue to be a merchant, for the compliance exacted by his fellows … provide if anything more effective than physical coercion.”[3] Nor did this voluntary method fail to work in modern times. Wooldridge writes that it was precisely in the years before 1920, when arbitration awards could not be enforced in the courts, that arbitration caught on and developed a following in the American mercantile community. Its popularity, gained at a time when abiding by an agreement to arbitrate had to be as voluntary as the agreement itself, casts doubt on whether legal coercion was an essential adjunct to the settlement of most disputes. Cases of refusal to abide by an arbitrator’s award were rare; one founder of the American Arbitration Association could not recall a single example. Like their medieval forerunners, merchants in the Americas did not have to rely on any sanctions other than those they could collectively impose on each other. One who refused to pay up might find access to his association’s tribunal cut off in the future, or his name released to the membership of his trade association; these penalties were far more fearsome than the cost of the award with which he disagreed. Voluntary and private adjudications were voluntarily and privately adhered to, if not out of honor, out of the self-interest of businessmen who knew that the arbitral mode of dispute settlement would cease to be available to them very quickly if they ignored an award.[4]

It should also be pointed out that modern technology makes even more feasible the collection and dissemination of information about people’s credit ratings and records of keeping or violating their contracts or arbitration agreements. Presumably, an anarchist society would see the expansion of this sort of dissemination of data and thereby facilitate the ostracism or boycotting of contract and arbitration violators.

How would arbitrators be selected in an anarchist society? In the same way as they are chosen now, and as they were chosen in the days of strictly voluntary arbitration: the arbitrators with the best reputation for efficiency and probity would be chosen by the various parties on the market

As in other processes of the market, the arbitrators with the best record in settling disputes will come to gain an increasing amount of business, and those with poor records will no longer enjoy clients and will have to shift to another line of endeavor. Here it must be emphasized that parties in dispute will seek out those arbitrators with the best reputation for both expertise and impartiality and that inefficient or biased arbitrators will rapidly have to find another occupation.

Thus, the Tannehills emphasize:

The advocates of government see initiated force (the legal force of government) as the only solution to social disputes. According to them, if everyone in society were not forced to use the same court system … disputes would be insoluble. Apparently it doesn’t occur to them that disputing parties are capable of freely choosing their own arbiters…. they have not realized that disputants would, in fact, be far better off if they could choose among competing arbitration agencies so that they could reap the benefits of competition and specialization. It should be obvious that a court system which has a monopoly guaranteed by the force of statutory law will not give as good quality service as will free-market arbitration agencies which must compete for their customers….

Perhaps the least tenable argument for government arbitration of disputes is the one which holds that governmental judges are more impartial because they operate outside the market and so have no vested interests…. Owning political allegiance to government is certainly no guarantee of impartiality! A governmental judge is always impelled to be partial – in favor of the government, from whom he gets his pay and his power! On the other hand, an arbiter who sells his services in a free market knows that he must be as scrupulously honest, fair, and impartial as possible or no pair of disputants will buy his services to arbitrate their dispute. A free-market arbiter depends for his livelihood on his skill and fairness at settling disputes. A governmental judge depends on political pull.[5]

If desired, furthermore, the contracting parties could provide in advance for a series of arbitrators:

It would be more economical and in most cases quite sufficient to have only one arbitration agency to hear the case. But if the parties felt that a further appeal might be necessary and were willing to risk the extra expense, they could provide for a succession of two or even more arbitration agencies. The names of these agencies would be written into the contract in order from the “first court of appeal” to the “last court of appeal.” It would be neither necessary nor desirable to have one single, final court of appeal for every person in the society, as we have today in the United States Supreme Court.[6]

Arbitration, then, poses little difficulty for a portrayal of the free society. But what of torts or crimes of aggression where there has been no contract? Or suppose that the breaker of a contract defies the arbitration award? Is ostracism enough? In short, how can courts develop in the free-market anarchist society which will have the power to enforce judgments against criminals or contract breakers?

In the wide sense, defense service consists of guards or police who use force in defending person and property against attack, and judges or courts whose role is to use socially accepted procedures to determine who the criminals or tortfeasors are, as well as to enforce judicial awards, such as damages or the keeping of contracts. On the free market, many scenarios are possible on the relationship between the private courts and the police; they may be “vertically integrated,” for example, or their services may be supplied by separate firms. Furthermore, it seems likely that police service will be supplied by insurance companies who will provide crime insurance to their clients. In that case, insurance companies will pay off the victims of crime or the breaking of contracts or arbitration awards and then pursue the aggressors in court to recoup their losses. There is a natural market connection between insurance companies and defense service, since they need pay out less benefits in proportion as they are able to keep down the rate of crime.

Courts might either charge fees for their services, with the losers of cases obliged to pay court costs, or else they may subsist on monthly or yearly premiums by their clients, who may be either individuals or the police or insurance agencies. Suppose, for example, that Smith is an aggrieved party, either because he has been assaulted or robbed, or because an arbitration award in his favor has not been honored. Smith believes that Jones is the party guilty of the crime.

Smith then goes to a court, Court A, of which he is a client, and brings charges against Jones as a defendant. In my view, the hallmark of an anarchist society is one where no man may legally compel someone who is not a convicted criminal to do anything, since that would be aggression against an innocent man’s person or property. Therefore, Court A can only invite rather than subpoena Jones to attend his trial. Of course, if Jones refused to appear or send a representative, his side of the case will not be heard. The trial of Jones proceeds. Suppose that Court A finds Jones innocent. In my view, part of the generally accepted law code of the anarchist society (on which see further below) is that this must end the matter unless Smith can prove charges of gross incompetence or bias on the part of the court.

Suppose, next, that Court A finds Jones guilty. Jones might accept the verdict, because he too is a client of the same court, because he knows he is guilty, or for some other reason. In that case, Court A proceeds to exercise judgment against Jones. Neither of these instances poses very difficult problems for our picture of the anarchist society. But suppose, instead, that Jones contests the decision; he then goes to his court, Court B, and the case is retried there. Suppose that Court B, too, finds Jones guilty. Again, it seems to me that the accepted law code of the anarchist society will assert that this ends the matter; both parties have had their say in courts which each has selected, and the decision for guilt is unanimous.

Suppose, however, the most difficult case: that Court B finds Jones innocent. The two courts, each subscribed to by one of the two parties, have split their verdicts. In that case, the two courts will submit the case to an appeals court, or arbitrator, which the two courts agree upon. There seems to be no real difficulty about the concept of an appeals court. As in the case of arbitration contracts, it seems very likely that the various private courts in the society will have prior agreements to submit their disputes to a particular appeals court. How will the appeals judges be chosen? Again, as in the case of arbitrators or of the first judges on the free market, they will be chosen for their expertise and their reputation for efficiency, honesty, and integrity. Obviously, appeals judges who are inefficient or biased will scarcely be chosen by courts who will have a dispute. The point here is that there is no need for a legally established or institutionalized single, monopoly appeals court system, as states now provide. There is no reason why there cannot arise a multitude of efficient and honest appeals judges who will be selected by the disputant courts, just as there are numerous private arbitrators on the market today. The appeals court renders its decision, and the courts proceed to enforce it if, in our example, Jones is considered guilty – unless, of course, Jones can prove bias in some other court proceedings.

No society can have unlimited judicial appeals, for in that case there would be no point to having judges or courts at all. Therefore, every society, whether statist or anarchist, will have to have some socially accepted cutoff point for trials and appeals. My suggestion is the rule that the agreement of any two courts, be decisive. “Two” is not an arbitrary figure, for it reflects the fact that there are two parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, to any alleged crime or contract dispute.

If the courts are to be empowered to enforce decision against guilty parties, does this not bring back the state in another form and thereby negate anarchism? No, for at the beginning of this paper I explicitly defined anarchism in such a way as not to rule out the use of defensive force – force in defense of person and property – by privately supported agencies. In the same way, it is not bringing back the state to allow persons to use force to defend themselves against aggression, or to hire guards or police agencies to defend them.

It should be noted, however, that in the anarchist society there will be no “district attorney” to press charges on behalf of “society.” Only the victims will press charges as the plaintiffs. If, then, these victims should happen to be absolute pacifists who are opposed even to defensive force, then they will simply not press charges in the courts or otherwise retaliate against those who have aggressed against them. In a free society that would be their right. If the victim should suffer from murder, then his heir would have the right to press the charges.

What of the Hatfield-and-McCoy problem? Suppose that a Hatfield kills a McCoy, and that McCoy’s heir does not belong to a private insurance, police agency, or court, and decides to retaliate himself? Since under anarchism there can be no coercion of the noncriminal, McCoy would have the perfect right to do so. No one may be compelled to bring his case to a court. Indeed, since the right to hire police or courts flows from the right of self-defense against aggression, it would be inconsistent and in contradiction to the very basis of the free society to institute such compulsion.

Suppose, then, that the surviving McCoy finds what he believes to be the guilty Hatfield and kills him in turn? What then? This is fine, except that McCoy may have to worry about charges being brought against him by a surviving Hatfield. Here it must be emphasized that in the law of the anarchist society based on defense against aggression, the courts would not be able to proceed against McCoy if in fact he killed the right Hatfield. His problem would arise if the courts should find that he made a grievous mistake and killed the wrong man; in that case, he in turn would be found guilty of murder. Surely, in most instances, individuals will wish to obviate such problems by taking their case to a court and thereby gain social acceptability for their defensive retaliation – not for the act of retaliation but for the correctness of deciding who the criminal in any given case might be. The purpose of the judicial process, indeed, is to find a way of general agreement on who might be the criminal or contract breaker in any given case. The judicial process is not a good in itself; thus, in the case of an assassination, such as Jack Ruby’s murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, on public television, there is no need for a complex judicial process, since the name of the murderer is evident to all.

Will not the possibility exist of a private court that may turn venal and dishonest, or of a private police force that turns criminal and extorts money by coercion? Of course such an event may occur, given the propensities of human nature. Anarchism is not a moral cure-all. But the important point is that market forces exist to place severe checks on such possibilities, especially in contrast to a society where a state exists. For, in the first place, judges, like arbitrators, will prosper on the market in proportion to their reputation for efficiency and impartiality. Secondly, on the free market important checks and balances exist against venal courts or criminal police forces. Namely, that there are competing courts and police agencies to whom victims may turn for redress. If the “Prudential Police Agency” should turn outlaw and extract revenue from victims by coercion, the latter would have the option of turning to the “Mutual” or “Equitable” Police Agency for defense and for pressing charges against Prudential. These are the genuine “checks and balances” of the free market, genuine in contrast to the phony check and balances of a state system, where all the alleged “balancing” agencies are in the hands of one monopoly government. Indeed, given the monopoly “protection service” of a state, what is there to prevent a state from using its monopoly channels of coercion to extort money from the public? What are the checks and limits of the state? None, except for the extremely difficult course of revolution against a power with all of the guns in its hands. In fact, the state provides an easy, legitimated channel for crime and aggression, since it has its very being in the crime of tax theft, and the coerced monopoly of “protection.” It is the state, indeed, that functions as a mighty “protection racket” on a giant and massive scale. It is the state that says: “Pay us for your ‘protection’ or else.” In the light of the massive and inherent activities of the state, the danger of a “protection racket” emerging from one or more private police agencies is relatively small indeed.

Moreover, it must be emphasized that a crucial element in the power of the state is its legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the public, the fact that after centuries of propaganda, the depredations of the state are looked upon rather as benevolent services. Taxation is generally not seen as theft, nor war as mass murder, nor conscription as slavery. Should a private police agency turn outlaw, should “Prudential” become a protection racket, it would then lack the social legitimacy which the state has managed to accrue to itself over the centuries. “Prudential” would be seen by all as bandits, rather than as legitimate or divinely appointed “sovereigns” bent on promoting the “common good” or the “general welfare.” And lacking such legitimacy, “Prudential” would have to face the wrath of the public and the defense and retaliation of the other private defense agencies, the police and courts, on the free market. Given these inherent checks and limits, a successful transformation from a free society to bandit rule becomes most unlikely. Indeed, historically, it has been very difficult for a state to arise to supplant a stateless society; usually, it has come about through external conquest rather than by evolution from within a society.

Within the anarchist camp, there has been much dispute on whether the private courts would have to be bound by a basic, common law code. Ingenious attempts have been made to work out a system where the laws or standards of decision-making by the courts would differ completely from one to another.[7] But in my view all would have to abide by the basic law code, in particular, prohibition of aggression against person and property, in order to fulfill our definition of anarchism as a system which provides no legal sanction for such aggression. Suppose, for example, that one group of people in society holds that all redheads are demons who deserve to be shot on sight. Suppose that Jones, one of this group, shoots Smith, a redhead. Suppose that Smith or his heir presses charges in a court, but that Jones’s court, in philosophic agreement with Jones, finds him innocent therefore. It seems to me that in order to be considered legitimate, any court would have to follow the basic libertarian law code of the inviolate right of person and property. For otherwise, courts might legally subscribe to a code which sanctions such aggression in various cases, and which to that extent would violate the definition of anarchism and introduce, if not the state, then a strong element of statishness or legalized aggression into the society.

But again I see no insuperable difficulties here. For in that case, anarchists, in agitating for their creed, will simply include in their agitation the idea of a general libertarian law code as part and parcel of the anarchist creed of abolition of legalized aggression against person or property in the society.

In contrast to the general law code, other aspects of court decisions could legitimately vary in accordance with the market or the wishes of the clients; for example, the language the cases will be conducted in, the number of judges to be involved, and so on.

There are other problems of the basic law code which there is no time to go into here: for example, the definition of just property titles or the question of legitimate punishment of convicted offenders – though the latter problem of course exists in statist legal systems as well.[8] The basic point, however, is that the state is not needed to arrive at legal principles or their elaboration: indeed, much of the common law, the law merchant, admiralty law, and private law in general, grew up apart from the state, by judges not making the law but finding it on the basis of agreed-upon principles derived either from custom or reason.[9] The idea that the state is needed to make law is as much a myth as that the state is needed to supply postal or police services.

Enough has been said here, I believe, to indicate that an anarchist system for settling disputes would be both viable and self-subsistent: that once adopted, it could work and continue indefinitely. How to arrive at that system is of course a very different problem, but certainly at the very least it will not likely come about unless people are convinced of its workability, are convinced, in short, that the state is not a necessary evil.