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Talk:Anarcho-capitalism/Archive 4
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	This page is an archive of past discussions. Do not edit the contents
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one, please do so on the current talk page.

    1 Dec 12
    2 An attempt at peace...
    3 More of the same
    4 Dec 11
    5 Dec 13
    6 Dec 14
    7 Dec 16
    8 Dec 17
    9 Dec 18
    10 Dec 20
    11 Dec 24
    12 Jan 1
    13 Jan 2
    14 Jan 5
    15 Jan 15

Dec 12

I really can't understand why a debate so stupid as the definition of
anarchy debate broke out. Look at dictionaries. What do they do when
people have different meanings for words ? They put more than one
entry under a word.

Arguing over the "one true" definition of anarchy is foolish when
there can be more than one definition of a word. Trying to force your
definition as the sole definition is your problem. This article can
easily handle the problem by specifying that it is using a specific
definition of anarchy. No notice of the debate is necessary, as
multiple definitions are commonly accepted by dictionary readers (if
not Wikipedia contributors). – Olathe

            I agree, and this is the approach I tried myself. See my
recent summary of this dispute under "More of the same" (which might
be overlooked since not at beginning or end of this page). Needless to
say, this didn't seem to satisfy my detractors. -- VV 22:35, 12 Dec
2003 (UTC)

        I'm a little confused. Who here is arguing over the "one true"
definition of anarchy? Certainly not VV, myself, Aaron, or Rad, who
have all stated in one way or another that there are multiple (often
conflicting) conceptions of the word allowed for all of them to be
present in one form or another on the page. Obviously there are more
than one different conceptions of what the word means, and everyone
here has their own ideas that have been expressed at one point or
another, each with its own supporting claims. It is important to state
these and work through them to understand when and why certain edits
on the mainpage might be appropriate, I certainly don't find that
process to be stupid or foolish. However, I readily agree that no one
should try to force one particular definition as the sole definition,
that is in fact the reason for most of my edits. Claims to any
particular definition of anarchism which are presented here should be
stated as claims, and should be indicated to be a particular
definition of the word before or when it is used for the first time in
the page. This doesn't need to be formal, a bold warning or something,
but it does need to be worked into the text somehow. Doing so helps
advocates and opponents of anarcho-capitalism, as it clarifies the
matter to avoid misunderstandings. Anyway, I don't know about others
here, but from my first post on this page I expressed a willingness to
incorporate two different descriptions of "anarcho-capitalism" on this
page. I'd still be happy to do so, but I've been under the impression
that presenting another perspective on anarcho-capitalism would be
viewed more as a critique and herded into a sub-section or off-page
article rather than as a valid alternate definition and given equal
placement on this page. Given that this is a page on
anarcho-capitalism, I respect that their perspective should be given
precedent and therefore did not attempt to divide the page into two
equal parts, but instead to simply neutralize the language to allow
for the possiblity of a conception other than the one being presented.
- Kev 12/12/03

            It is quite clear that someone, maybe not one of the ones
you listed is arguing over the one true definition of anarchism. From
the article:

                "Many modern-day anarchists within these traditions
reject the term anarcho-capitalist, arguing that the term anarchist,
as it has historically and most frequently been used, is consistent
only with an anti-capitalist economic programme"

            This is, very clearly, putting forth the argument that one
definition of anarchy, specifically the historical and
most-frequently-used definition, is the only one that should be used –
all others should be rejected. That it is "objectified" with the words
"these people believe this" instead of coming right out and saying it
is irrelevant. It's not truly objective; this can be shown with two
points :

                If the person who originally posted that truly wanted
to be objective, it would be better placed either in libertarian
socialism or anarchism because it deals with the beliefs of some
libertarian socialists and the word "anarchy", but not the beliefs of
anarcho-capitalists; anarcho-capitalists' definition of anarchy is
stated earlier in the article and we can leave it to the reader's
skill in thinking to figure out that the definitions don't match.

                Concessions are made to the argument :

                "Because of the intense controversy and confusion
surrounding the meanings and scope of these words, the catch-all
phrase anti-capitalist anarchism will be used in this article for
these contrasting positions, with the caveat that many anarchists
consider it the only valid form of anarchism and do not feel it needs
to be qualified"

                This shows that the person wasn't merely including a
nice side note, but attempting to force their point of view. This
could be easily shortened to "anarcho-capitalists mean ... by anarchy"
on anarcho-capitalism and "libertarian socialists mean ... by anarchy"
on libertarian socialism if we wanted to be truly objective, again
leaving it to the reader's thinking skills.

            As it is, it appears that people are in fact being stupid
and assuming that the reader is stupid (also, it is portraying
socialist anarchists as so stupid they can't figure out the use of a
different definition than they're accustomed to). I could care less
that all sides are fairly represented on the main page; Wikipedia is
not the place to go to see Wikipedians' wordy arguments, it is a place
to go to learn about various things. The arguments can be left on the
talk page or, as I've already said, on pages that pertain to the
arguments (i.e. anarchism and libertarian socialism).

            &ndash Olathe December 17, 2003

                    I generally agree with you, and I say this as
someone who wrote the "Because of the intense controversy..." text. My
intent was to accommodate those who claimed that anarcho-capitalism
was not anarchism and repeatedly altered the article to reflect this
belief. By putting in stronger language emphasizing this point of
dispute, I was hoping the broader use of "anarchism", marked as such,
would become non-objectionable. I kept making the caveat language
stronger and stronger so as to leave no room for confusion, but it
still does not seem to have helped (as you can see by the litany of
absurd accusations and dismissals levelled against me, as well as the
endless reversions). As for the first sentence, its history is a
little more tangled, but not wholly dissimilar. -- VV 02:02, 18 Dec
2003 (UTC)

                Fine by me. Feel free to remove any and all arguments
for or against anarchism and libertarian socialism from the page
without objection from me. I have long held that I do not insist that
they be there, and in fact I'm not the one who put them there. Indeed,
the person who did put them there probably either feels a little
sheepish atm, or doesn't even remember that he did. Anyway, my primary
concern is that this page reflects beliefs and claims like pretty much
all politically oriented pages do on wikipedia (i.e. as beliefs and
claims), and that the language be neutral in the sense that it does
not rule out, at the outset, the very positions which
anarcho-capitalists argue against. There are a number of neutral
disputes here, in fact this page qualifies for all of the ones listed
on the NPOV dispute page. You might also want to note that I have
replied to you on the current dispute page. As I said there, I'm won't
object to your suggestion that the page be explicitly POV instead of
attempting NPOV, or that it be divided into two parts. But I have a
feeling neither of those suggestions will go over well with others
here when all is said and done. Also, I don't personally think anyone
is being stupid, perhaps you do not understand the context or the
motivations behind the placement of those arguments, so you might want
to try to do so before you rush to judgment. And, as always in
wikipedia, you might want to note that you are not addressing a single
author. - Kev 12/17/03

                    I now realize that I was incorrect about the
reason the changes were made. However, I still believe that the
changes are bad for the reasons I stated. On the NPOV dispute (replied
to here in order to reduce the effort in conversation), I pretty much
agree with you. I believe that the article can present the viewpoint
of anarcho-capitalists in objective language and that any opposing
viewpoints can be placed in the respective articles. For instance,
what anarcho-capitalists think about various viewpoints can be stated
here and links can be provided to sections in other articles that deal
with another group's viewpoint on anarcho-capitalism (for example,
[[libertarian socialism#views on anarcho-capitalism]]). I agree about
prefacing the viewpoint exposition with something similar to what you

                    I have changed the header to one that makes it
more clear that the article describes a controversial viewpoint and is
not a debate message board. I hope that what I put is a good
rendition. I have also removed the argument about whether "anarchy" is
properly applied because it's extraneous (multiple definitions exist).
Also, the argument is still covered in one of the links (Section F of
the Anarchist FAQ, I believe), although it might be best to change the
link description to indicate that disagreement about the use of
"anarchy" is included there. I have also left other arguments in the
article (such as whether the "forbears" of anarcho-capitalism would
have supported it), because they aren't extraneous; they help the
reader to understand anarcho-capitalism – Olathe December 18, 2003

I just wanted to note that the change of the "the neutrality of this
article is disputed" link to the "Current disputes over articles" page
might not be a good idea, given that the current dispute page begins
with the warning: "Please do not add NPOV disputes to this page, but
instead discuss them over on the expertly named wikipedia:NPOV

Given that the discussion itself is apparently supposed to be taken
elsewhere, actually linking to the page when it says not to put
neutrality disputes there might be even worse. Maybe it could be
linked there in some other form, rather than explicity in the
neutrality warning. Anyway, the NPOV dispute page does already link to
this discussion, so that particular link might want to just point to
either here, or the NPOV dispute page. - Kev 12/12/03
An attempt at peace...

I notice that one aspect of the present revert war is repeated
back-and-forth sniping over the first sentence of the third paragraph:
one side insists on anarcho-capitalism as a form of anarchism; the
other side insists on anarcho-capitalism as "claimed to be" a form of

Of course, the problem with the former is that it is a tendentious
claim for anarchists who conceive of capitalism as inherently
hierarchial, and conceive of economic bosses as just as subject to
anarchist critique as political bosses.

The problem with the latter is that it replaces the tendentious claim
with another one, while claiming neutrality. (Replacing "X is a form
of Y" with "X is claimed to be a form of Y" superficially appears
neutral, but carries a pretty clear implication that the claim in
question is spurious. Imagine if an anarcho-capitalist went through a
page on Kropotkin, and, allegedly to maintain NPOV, changed all the
descriptions of Kroptotkin as an anarchist to descriptions of
Kropotkin as a "putative anarchist" or "so-called anarchist".)

Of course, this mostly highlights the difficulties attendent on
writing NPOV articles about bodies of ideas where the logical
implications of those ideas are contested. But perhaps there is
something of a middle ground available. The language I've suggested is
to restate it in terms of anarcho-capitalists' self-description.
"Thus, anarcho-capitalists describe their position as a form of
anarchism, in the sense of anti-statism..." That anarcho-capitalists
so describe their position could hardly be denied by either side; and
noting the self-description leaves open the question of whether or not
the description is accurate, without leaning in one direction or the

I've also made some other changes to the third paragraph. One of these
changes is a matter of logical structure: I relocated some material
from the second paragraph into the first sentence of the second
paragraph, in order to elucidate what anarcho-capitalists mean by
rejecting the state, and how it is a consequence of their position on
markets and property. Another is to slightly flesh out the distinction
between both positions and the colloquial use of "anarchy."

Another of these changes are related to NPOV. Since part of the debate
on these issues is related towards whether or not anarcho-capitalists
can be seen in continuity with individualist anarchists, it's
tendentious to identify anti-capitalist anarchism with "traditional"
anarchism simpliciter. Similarly, I have no idea whether most
modern-day anarchists are anti-capitalist or anarcho-capitalist, and I
doubt that there is any verifiable data on whether or not this is
true. Better to say "many" and to link it explicitly to the traditions
from which these criticisms come.

I doubt that anything we could come up with will resolve all points in
this dispute or make everyone happy. But I hope that the introduction
of a fresh perspective may make some progress possible.

Radgeek 19:02, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
More of the same

I've made a similar attempt at steering a sensibly conciliatory path
in the first paragraph. The qualifier "which some credit as" on
"Anarcho-capitalism is a view ... following in the traditions of both
individualist anarchism and classical liberalism" is also a qualifier
whose neutrality is dubious at best. (Particularly with the
anonymizing "which some credit....") In its place, I have recommended
"drawing from the traditions of classical liberalism and individualist
anarchism." Whether anarcho-capitalism is best described as following
the tradition of the individualist anarchists or perverting it, it can
hardly be disputed that they draw from Tucker, Spooner, Nock, et al.
(I assume that the relationship between anarcho-capitalism and
classical liberalism is not so hotly disputed.)

Radgeek 19:20, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

    Thanks for getting involved. Good work on expanding on a lot of
the points; it should hopefully be very helpful. However, I should
note that I tried that compromise using "draw from" in the intro
myself (as an alternative to the previous "is a synthesis of"), and
was attacked for it. The counterclaim is that ancapism does not draw
from "anarchism" at all but solely from classical liberalism. To
accommodate that objection, I weakened it to "incorporates", removing
the causal aspect, to just say it includes views found in anarchism.
But that too was spurned, and in fact (the recurring accusation) I was
told I wasn't genuinely attempting a change/compromise at all. Perhaps
the "synthesis" claim could be resurrected, because it doesn't seem to
assume any causality. Anyway, I hope your rich contributions help with
this dispute. -- VV 21:37, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

        Thanks, VV, for your kind words and for your notes on the
history of the present debate. Whether this will ultimately be
productive or not is something that we'll have to wait and see about;
but I am enough of a Red to have some faith in consensus procedures
and the possiblity of coming up with reasonable alternatives to most
of these perpetual yea/nay slug-fests.

        Of course, "draw from" is meant here in a particularly weak
sense (leaving open the question of whether the stronger sense applies
or does not apply) — the same sort of sense in which everyone might
agree that Lenin "drew from" the ideas of Marx and Engels, or that
both Ayn Rand and Martin Heidegger "drew from" the ideas of Aristotle.
(You might argue, and I think you'd be right, that Lenin's socialism
ultimately had more to do with Chernyshevsky than it did with Marx and
Engels, in spite of Lenin's identification as an orthodox Marxist, and
that his use of Marxism was mostly a perversion of what they taught.
But no-one could deny that there's a pretty important sense in which
Lenin drew from Marx. I don't actually think that the relationship
between anarcho-capitalists and individualist anarchists is like this;
but even if it were, the use of "drawing from" would hardly be a

        I tend to think that the most elegant, descriptive, and
neutral way of putting it would be something like "synthesizes
elements of classical liberalism and individualist anarchism." It
cannot be denied that Spooner, Tucker, et al. were certainly important
to, and respected by, people in the liberal anti-statist tradition
(both before and after the development of the term
"anarcho-capitalism," for what it's worth), and frequently reprinted
and discussed in their circles. Whether they got these folks right is
an independent question; here the important thing is that they got
ideas and arguments (the "elements" of a political programme) from
them that they didn't get from classical liberal minarchists. One
might argue that anarcho-capitalism is just an appropriation of
certain individualist anarchist ideas by a classical liberal ideology
which is opposed to the essential features of individualist
anarchism--but no-one said that synthesis had to be conducted on equal

        On another subject, I'd be interested to add some material to
the entry on the anti-statist flavor of libertarianism that emerged
more or less independently of the emergence of Rothbard
Austro-libertarianism: i.e., the circle around Bob LeFevre, Roy
Childs, and Rampart College / Rampart Journal of Individualist
Thought. I have some knowledge, and a lot of material, from them at
hand, and can start plugging away at some of it, but my knowledge is
by no means exhaustive or even particularly systematic, and I was
wondering if folks here have anything that they can put up about it.

        Cheers. Radgeek 23:14, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

    I see another discussion has already started below, but I wanted
to add to the comments already made here, particlarly since I hadn't
before noticed the additional section "An attempt at peace" above!

    First, I definitely think the synthesis version works well
(Although synthesizing elements almost seems redundant, since a
synthesis presumably couldn't draw entirely from one of the movements
and thus only takes "elements".), but I made arguments similar to
yours before and they did not go over very well. The synthesis
assertion got pounded with qualifiers such as "is perceived to be" and
so on, so I tried "draws from", then "incorporates", then finally let
it collapse to "some credit as".

    As for the "is a [sic] claimed to be a form of anarchism" dispute,
it too has a history. The original claim that ancapism "is a form of
anarchism" was of course attacked, so I tried "considered a form...".
But then qualifiers such as "sometimes" were sought, and I proposed
"often", and back and forth it went. Since the claim that anarchism
just means "no state" was rejected, but that does seem to be the ancap
interpretation, I offered that there were de facto (by usage)
different senses of anarchism, one could say a "literal" and an
"organic" meaning.

        *Which is which? The literal meaning of the word anarchism is
rather uncontroversially "absence of rulers," or maybe "no rulers,"
straight from the greek. The organic meaning could be said to be any
meaning other than the literal one, thus chaos and riots in the
streets, rejection of all forms of coercive hierarchy, anti-statism,
or almost anything else people might imagine. BTW, I really like the
"pounded with qualifiers" description above. - Kev

            VV Literal: No government. Organic:
Beliefs/movement/actions of self-described.

                So your evidence for "no government" being the literal
definition of the word rather than "no rulers" would be? - Kev

                    VV Rather than get sidetracked on the "literal"
concept, I'll re-emphasize the main point, the de facto multiple

                        Sure, no denying that. Feel free to offer it
up as "an anarcho-capitalist interpretation of the word anarchism." I
don't recall ever rejecting any such statement. - Kev

                            VV Obviously a negative formulation;
hence, in the sense of anti-statism.

    I then tried "is a form of anarchism in the sense of
anti-statism". That, however, did not do the trick, as the "claimed to
be" battle attests. I do feel the "in the sense" part should only be
needed if it is not within an attribution, including "describe their
position as".

    Also, you mentioned below the "so-called possessive property"
phrase. I used so-called because it's not clear what the phrase means,
and clearly it's meant to be a term of art. Just saying "possessive
property" with no definition is not clear. It was not meant to weaken
the phrase, but to note that it is a piece of terminology (and in this
case from a wholly different viewpoint).

        *Given that this wholly different viewpoint is precisely what
is being explicated in that sentence, I don't see anything
inappropriate about using their terminology to describe their
position. Anyway, a page dedicated to the meaning of the word for
individualists and linked to from its use here would satisfy your
objection. Though I do find the objection a little strange, given that
you didn't much like it when I tried to indicate that "free market"
was being used in the sense of a market free from interferance by
government. You said that it was a technical term and didn't need
qualification, yet here you are saying that a term needs qualification
because it is technical. - Kev

            VV But it was linked to free market, which at any rate is
a well-known term. Link "possessive property" to a descriptive article
and no prob. Also I added the parenthetical "in the sense of", maybe
do that here too?

                Whatever floats your boat. - Kev

                    VV Clarity does.

                        But only in certain, very telling, cases. - Kev

                            VV Fine, go on and tell me about my
"biases". You obviously have me all figured out. (But you're not a
"mind-reader", that's me.)

    As for the revert war you mentioned, it mostly centered around
Aaron reverting my proposed anti-capitalist anarchism back to
traditional anarchism, a recurring thorn of late.

        *I was under the impression that it centered on the
"traditional anarchism" edit being reverted back to "socialist
anarchism," the "anti-capitalist anarchism" bit was much more recent.
- Kev

            VV Yes, more recent was referred to. Also the "reverts
back" were almost always unreverts.

                Lol, almost always, as in, after the first time you
reverted an edit that someone else made, your subsequent reverts were
unreverts of the reverts that they made to put their edits back in. I
love your rhetoric VV. When you revert it is "unreverting." When
others revert it is "stonewalling." - Kev

                    VV Ahistorical, but I'd be wasting my time rehearsing why.

    However, I pulled other edits, in particular the bit about "...
the absolute rejection of all government, including that of property",
to me obviously presumptive and indeed obnoxious.

        *Why is it presumptive and obnoxious to clearly state the
position of anarchists (anti-capitalist anarchists) in a sentence
specifically refering to them? They do believe that non-possessive
property is a form that government takes. We even presented you with
dictionary definitions which strongly affirmed the claim that this was
so by definition, when you challenged that claim. What is more, you
then admitted that there was a "weak" sense in which the claim was
correct. Thus, I am greatly confused that a statement refering
specifically to a given POV, one that you admit is correct "in some
sense of the words," would be not only be "presumptive" but even
"obnoxious" to you - Kev 12/12/03

            VV It asserted the position. Your dictionary definition
argument was a joke.

                Because? We claimed that property was a form of
government by definition, you seemed to deny this (I say seemed
because as usual you didn't even bother to address it, you just wrote
it off with a snide remark). How else would we demonstrate that one
word is entailed by another "by definition" other than to give the
relevant definitions? - Kev

                    VV By definition claims are almost always problematic,

                        Fine, but that would be a complaint about the
type of argument in general, not this particular instance. At the
time, you made no mention of this whatsoever, you simply scoffed at
the very idea that it could be government by definition. When you were
given rather clear evidence on the matter, you then wrote the entire
thing off as "a joke." - Kev

                    not least because dictionaries do not always
capture the sense precisely enough for such fine distinction. But that
is not even at issue here, as multiple definitions were listed, of
varying scopes and strengths, and you chose those which suited you.

                        Of course we did. No one claimed that property
is government by "every possible definition and conception known to
man." The fact that it is government by even one conception (much less
several), one directly applicable to its use in this essay, is plenty
enough for all the points made to stand. Of course, if you bothered to
read my responses in the first place, you will probably notice that I
never actually made this claim. I only tempted you into denying it. -

                    Even that is not at issue, as your claim is
indefensible anyway. Many (perhaps most) political thinkers regard
property rights as prior to government.

                        I'm not sure if I should dismiss this as a
bandwagon ploy or a call to authority. Maybe both. Regardless, both of
these statements would be (if they were not blatant fallacies)
arguments against the position, not evidence that the claim is
outright "indefensible." But you are rather keen on making your case
sound stronger by using adjectives that your evidence can't support.
So much for "clarity," but it makes good rhetoric for those who don't
notice the inconsistency. - Kev

                            VV The indefensible claim is that it's by
definition, which excludes these views, whether fallacious in your
view or not. And spare me your rhetoric.

                    You even seem to recognize this, with your
"possessive" (and "self") distinction.

                        You lost me on that one. Possessive property
and claims against property as a part of the self require that
property rights are "prior to" government? - Kev

                            VV You seem to regard anarchy as
consistent with poss property. Somehow not gov't by definition?

            I admitted no such thing; this is a perfect example of how
you don't even pay attention to what I say, the "straw-man" brouhaha
being another. I noted govern has other "weak" senses ("mit governs
the dative"), as possess has strong ones. -- VV 01:08, 13 Dec 2003

                I see, so govern has other weak senses, none of which
entail or imply or really have anything to do with the definition of
property, eh? Cripes VV, you say that my argument was a joke, and here
you are the one making me laugh. - Kev 12/12/03

                    VV You seem to have not addressed my largest
concern, your gross misattribution.

                        No VV, I readily admitted that, if you are
actually presenting the position I outlined above, "govern has other
weak senses, none of which entail or imply or really have anything to
do with the definition of property" then I did indeed make a gross
attribution. You see, when you said, "government has other weak
senses" I mistakenly thought you meant that it could in fact share
some of the definition of property. But apparently my attempt at
sarcasm yesterday was actually a point-on presentation of your
position. So sorry, had no idea you were seriously presenting that
kind of declaration, I have indeed made a gross, nay, even an
egregious, misattribution. One that I have unrelentingly pounded you
with in my "ridiculous," "incomprehensible," and "absurd" responses. A
wonder you even bother anymore, with adjectives like that to back up
your lack of arguments.. - Kev 12/13/03

                            VV Said govern not government. Look again
(you obviously haven't). Anyway, I see your incivility has continued
unabated. Dare I speculate about what this says about you? -- VV
01:39, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)

    Anyway, as you can probably guess this has been a frustrating
experience for me, with my motives constantly questioned and much of
what I have written here airily dismissed. Perhaps that's what I get
for sticking my fingers into controversial issues. I hope you fare
better. You certainly seem to have the energy, perspective, and
attitude to do so. -- VV 09:16, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Dec 11

Hello Rad, welcome to this page, and thank you very much for what is
obviously a sincere attempt to work through these disputes. I very
much appreciate many of your edits, even a few that I don't agree with
I'm hard pressed to view as worse than any of the alternatives that
came before. However, I still think there are a number of points we
could work on. I should note that a some of these points are not
addressing your edits in particular. Rather, they are parts of the
text that I hope you can help us to move past the dead-lock on as you
did well with several other parts.

1) "Individuals may take any legitimate steps within their property,
including the self-defensive use of force, to protect whatever they
have gained from such contracts."

This claim, like the pre-existing, "Anarcho-capitalists, like
classical liberals in general, think that violence should be reserved
purely for self-defense of person and property." really requires that
somewhere in the text (preferably prior to or immediately after the
first instance of such a claim) it is detailed exactly what is meant
by "self-defense" in this scenario. Since capitalists often legitimate
the use of force even in cases where the physical body of the property
owner is in no danger, these claims could be mistaken for ruling out
such behavior when they do not. This is potentially all the more
misleading because the wikipedia link could support such a conclusion
as well, "Defendants who use this defense argue that they should not
be held liable for what is normally a crime, since the actions taken
were intended to protect the defendant or others from danger." Even
amongst those who consider property to be an extension of the self to
such a degree that self-defense could refer to either property or the
body interchangably, I think most would be hard pressed to claim that
a "defendant" in some case was necessarily in actual danger when, say,
a trespasser is forcibly ejected from their property. Thus we can have
cases when force, perhaps even violence, is used but the defense is
clearly of property and not the self, unless we assume as above that
property is an integral part of the self, something not explicated
anywhere in the text.

So I think that there are at least three alternatives. One, the
sentences could be rewritten to refer to defense, rather than
self-defense. Or two, self-defense could be defined in the text as
refering to defense of property as well, given that it is often
claimed by capitalists to be an extension of the self. Or three, both
sentences could be edited to the very cumbersome "including but not
limited to the self-defensive use of force," and "purely for
self-defense of person and defense of property."

    Thanks for pointing out some of the weaknesses in these passages.
As I think we agreed below, all of these discussions need to be
qualified with a discussion of proportionality in defensive force. The
easiest thing to do might be to put together a new section early on
which explicitly deals with the Non-Initiation Of Force principle,
which mentions proportionality of defensive force to the threat as an
important legal principle for many (although not all) a-c's. Such a
discussion ideally could also include the a-c application of NIOF to
property, which most would either categorize as (1) a defense of the
part of the self (as some would have it) or (2) self-defense against
having one's labor retroactively conscripted into slavery (as others
would have it). This would also be a good place to mention the issue
of possessive property. (In the future, it would also be a good place
to mention Georgist arguments on the nature of land ownership.)

2) While I know that many credit Anarcho-capitalism as drawing ideas
from individualism (indeed, all the anarcho-capitalists who know the
basics of their history seem to follow Rothbard in this), I myself am
hard-pressed to find which ideas they are specifically refering to.
For example, in a number of Wendy McElroy's articles she explains that
Rothbard synthesized anarcho-capitalism in part from individualism
because "Rothbard praised the two great 19th century American
anarchists not only for realizing that government and individual
liberty were incompatible, but also for exploring the ways in which
individuals could cooperate together without the State to achieve what
Tucker called a 'society by contract.'" But what I find curious about
this claim is that many individuals in the history of classical
liberalism and even some in libertarianism in general did exactly
this, realized that government and individual liberty were
incompatible, and explored ways that individuals could cooperate to
achieve a stateless society. So I wonder what exactly is it that
Rothbard drew from individualism in particular, rather than just as
easily from classical liberalism in particular of libertarianism in
general? We could say "its anarchism, duh" but that assumes the
capitalist position at the outset, that anarchism is nothing more than
mere anti-statism. What is more, there were anti-statist capitalists
in the other traditions that Rothbard himself drew from. Obviously we
couldn't just say that he adopted the general economics of
individualists, not only because in that facet he relied almost
entirely on folks like Mises and Molinari, but also because contrary
to the individualists he endorsed rent, usury, and wage, all of which
stemmed (in his mind) from a rejection of the theory of labor value
that individualists embraced. So maybe I would have less problems with
the claim "anarcho-capitalism draws ideas from
individualist-anarchism" is you could give me a couple examples of
ideas that actually came explicitly from individualist-anarchism that
are not present in prominent figures of the other ideologies Rothbard
expressly drew from. Because it seems to me that if there isn't a
distinguishing factor between the ideas it claims to draw from
individualism and those ideas that were also present at the time in
say classical liberalism, then maybe there is some other more primary
field common to both that it is actually drawing the ideas from (like
say libertarianism). If this were the case, then Rothbard's high
regard for Tucker and Spooner would not indicate that they were
actually the source of the ideas, but rather that they were
praise-worthy examples of a parallel. And anyway, no one is arguing
that Rothbard did not claim to borrow from individualism, just that it
was in fact a claim.

    All of these are quite reasonable worries, and I'll discuss some
of them directly below. But I do also think there's an argument to be
made for a more liberal use of terms regarding to influence, drawing
from, etc. If you look at the articles that were being printed in, for
example, Rampart Journal, it's clear that material from Spooner, in
particular, and the individualist anarchists more broadly, was in
heavy circulation more or less from the get-go. (Rothbard was not
closely associated with the Rampart circle, but he did read and
publish in the journal.) So while there are certainly some writings
within the liberal tradition that could have, and did, contribute
explicit anti-statist arguments to Rothbard and to other early a-c's,
and while many (especially Rothbard, who had a very wide and deep
sense of the history of thought) were aware of, and signed on to,
classical liberal arguments from folks like Molinari and the early
Herbert Spencer (who I have a bit more to say about below), I think
that, chronologically and logically, it makes just as much sense to
say that he got it from the individualist anarchists as it does to say
he got it from the classical liberals. (If he'd gotten his
anti-statism from Von Mises, then I'd say that Austro-libertarianism
should have pride of place in the account of what Rothbard drew from,
and both Molinarian anti-statist liberalism, and individualist
anarchism, should have a distinctly subsidiary place in the list. But
he didn't get it from Von Mises; Von Mises was a ultra-minarchist, not
an anti-statist.)

    In any case, folks like Rothbard and LeFevre could have gotten
anti-statism independently of their reading of the individualist
anarchists. (Indeed, they could have gotten it independently of
Molinari, too; Roy Childs became known as something of an enfant
terrible in libertarian circles for his open letter to Ayn Rand, which
argued that anarcho-capitalism was logically implied by Objectivist
ethics--and his arguments applies just as well to any libertarian
system based on a strict NIOF principle.) But the historical data
seems to me to indicate that they didn't get it that way. So I'd argue
that the attribution of "drawing from" the i-a tradition should be
kept even if everything in a-c could have been derived purely from
classical liberalism as it stood at the time. Radgeek 16:44, 13 Dec
2003 (UTC)

So again, if you could present a couple of these ideas, or explain to
me why the claim of drawing from the individualist tradition would be
valid even if we can't distinguish the source of these ideas, I would
appreciate it.

    That said, here are a couple points on which the influence of
individualist anarchism weighed heavier than the influence of
classical liberals like Molinari.

    (1) The adoption of the term "anarchism" - Molinari, in
particular, did not speak of freedom from government; he spoke of
freedom of government, and what a-c's would call "defense agencies"
today he called "competing governments." As far as I'm aware, it's
from the individualist anarchists that Rothbard and later a-c's got
the words "anarchy," "anarchism," etc. as descriptions of what they
want and what they believe. Of course, you might argue that it's a
very small point whether you fancy it a form of anarchism or don't
fancy it a form of anarchism--after all, we ought to be more concerned
with the concepts and the arguments used than with the letters
A-N-A-R-C-H-.... I have a certain amount of sympathy for that feeling,
but I do think there are some important senses in which this is
relevant. First, terminology is often a potent sign for where
influence comes from; the peculiarities of the argot that you use
doesn't define the logical content of your position, but it does play
a very heavy role in distinguishing its dialectical position--who you
engage with as your conversation partners, where you locate your
position within various traditions and movements, etc. (As a parallel
example, think of the transition from the late 1960s terminology of
"Women's Liberation" to the early 1970s terminology of "feminism." In
some sense, this was mainly a terminological shift; the analyses that
had been developed within the movement didn't make any decisive break
in their logical content. But it was hardly a superficial change;
calling it "Women's Liberation" aligned the movement with the theory
and practice of the New Left, whereas "feminism" represented a major
break from the New Left and a re-alignment with 19th century
feminism--which the New Left had widely reviled through the old
Marxist caricatures of the feminists as racist, classist, etc. stodgy
"Bluestocking" liberals.)

    Second, closely associated with the first point, some of the
decisive arguments against the monopoly State for early a-c's were not
those of Molinari, who mainly appealed to economic arguments on the
anti-competitive nature of monopoly government. They came from the
moral and legal arguments in Spooner's "No Treason" (and other works),
and in Spencer's "The Right to Ignore the State." (The early Spencer
was working in the British classical liberal tradition; but his
thought--or rather, proper understanding of his thought, as opposed to
eugenicist perversions of it--came to America mostly through Benjamin
Tucker's journal Liberty. Another reason, from the opposite direction,
for a nuanced picture of the relationship between individualist
anarchism and classical liberalism / libertarianism.)

    Additionally, there are some specific debates within
anarcho-capitalism where the individualist anarchists loom large. One
especially clear example is the debate over intellectual property.
While many anarcho-capitalists (including Rothbard) have defended the
concept intellectual property, there are also many who reject it.
Those who do reject it usually acknowledge a debt to the individualist
anarchists--Tucker and "Tak Kak" in particular. While the anti-statist
liberals (Molinari, Spencer, etc.) more or less univocally came out
for copyright and/or patent restrictions, the individualist anarchists
were divided (Spooner more or less supported Spencer's position;
Tucker and "Tak Kak" opposed). Of course, opposition to IP is not a
canonical part of anarcho-capitalism or of individualist anarchism,
since they have both been divided on the issue. But the point I want
to make here is the way in which debates and specific arguments from
within the individualist anarchist tradition have weighed into the
debates and specific arguments within the a-c tradition, and have
contributed elements to the discourse that could not be gotten from
the classical liberals. The same, I think, can be said of other
debates; IP is useful just as an example that I know pretty well and
where the decisive influence is very clear. Radgeek 16:44, 13 Dec 2003

3) "anti-capitalist anarchism" Not refering to your edits here but
hoping you can help with what is evidently an impasse. I understand
why a capitalist would see this as a neutral disambiguation, but if
the controversy over the use of the term "anarcho-capitalist" revolves
around the very meaning of the word "anarchism," then doesn't it
assume the "anarcho-capitalist" position to refer to what would
otherwise be "anarchists" as "anti-capitalist anarchists?" In other
words, to refer to them as "anti-capitalist anarchists" basically
drives home the argument that anarchism is not itself anti-capitalist.
Arguably, we should be assuming the anarcho-capitalist position in the
context of the anarcho-capitalist page. However, the mere existence of
this page and the explication of the philosophy is just that, I don't
see a need for endorsing their terminology in said page, especially
when "anarcho-capitalists" are still refered to by their chosen title
outside of this page. Most of the alternate labels seem to have this
exact same problem, "anarcho-socialist," for example. Libertarian
socialist was a compromise I initially supported, but two faults have
arisen with this term as well, first that it potentially excludes
large parts of the anarchist community from these comparisons and
claims (individualists, egoists, etc), and second that it rather
arbitrarily pushes everyone other than "anarcho-capitalists" right out
of the anarchist title while tellingly leaving the capitalists still
in when making direct comparisons. I personally prefer "traditional
anarchist" but this is argued against based on the claim that
anarcho-capitalists have a tradition (something I don't think anyone
denies or would be indicated by the label), even if it is inserted
with the caveat "this is not meant to deny that anarcho-capitalists
have a tradition of their own." I also think, though I'm sure no one
will accept it here, that "anarchist" is perfectly acceptable, given
that the anarcho-capitalists are always refered to in the article with
the hyphen and many if not most believe that they did not actually
arise from anarchism at all (but rather use the term simply as a
descriptive given the meaning they ascribe to it, or perhaps remove
from it).

However, given the apparent reality that neither of these labels will
be accepted, I was considering this. Why not just remove the whole
"for the purposes of this article this contrasting position will be
refered to as... blah blah blah" and instead refer specifically to
"collectivist anarchist" and "individualist anarchist" whenever
appropriate? At times this might be a bit wordy, when both
collectivists and individualists share the same criticism of
capitalism or whatever, but in some areas it would also better
distinguish between the various criticisms offered, thus indicating
exactly which ones are made by individualists and which ones by
collectivists. It would also finally solve the problem of
inappropriate labels, because both of these labels are accepted by the
people they refer to and they leave the terms on relatively equal
grounds concerning referance to "anarchism." Of course taking this
option would require that several sentences be rewritten carefully as

4) "anti-capitalist anarchists often argue against the claim by noting
that each of these individuals rejected some aspect of capitalist

All the arguments I have seen from anarchists on this subject state
that these individuals rejected capitalist economics as a unit, rather
than merely an aspect thereof. Of course, we could reduce any argument
this way, claiming that Marx only rejected "aspects" of capitalist
economics, or that pacifism only rejects "aspects" of violence.
Regardless, I think there is good evidence that these individuals
rejected more in capitalism than "some aspect" implies, and even if
that isn't the case it certainly is the argument offered by anarchists
("anti-capitalist anarchists"), which is all that is stated here.

5) "and their emphasis on voluntary and free market-based approaches
to social problems."

Two quibbles here. First, voluntary is used now several times in this
page without being defined. This is a problem because the claim that
capitalist relations are voluntary is heavily contested and it is
currently being used in part to contrast their stance with others.
However, with the introduction of this sentence the defining of the
term becomes critical, because most of the individuals in question did
not believe that capitalist economic relations were voluntary. What is
more, they did not believe that a market which included what was often
refered to as "coercive usury" would be a free market. So, in essence,
when we are saying that the capitalists emphasize the emphasis (not my
fault, that really is the way it is written :p) on voluntary and free
markets, we are neglecting to mention that the capitalists own
emphasis on voluntary and free markets is in a different sense of both
words! In other words, capitalists do emphasize what they believe to
be voluntary and free markets, but not the voluntary and free markets
that individualists did. The only voluntary relations and free
market-based approaches being emphasized here are the capitalist ones,
so in essence we are saying that the capitalists emphasize a
capitalist approach and using a trick of rhetoric to over-lay this
onto a parallel but very different claim on the part of

6) "Most anarcho-capitalists agree with the individual anarchist
conception of government as an evil against natural law"

A number of modern individualists reject natural law, I'm actually
trying to think of any I know right now who endorse it. Perhaps more
importantly, many of them now lately reject the particular moralist
framework that would entail claims of "evil" in the form of a
non-human ideology or basic theoretical institutions. I'm not sure how
this could be rewritten to account for this. Maybe just a reduction to
the, "all agree with the individualist anarchist judgment that
government is unnecessary and inefficient," that can actually account
for everyone in both traditions?

7) "with anarcho-capitalists being much more inclined than the
individualist anarchists were to accept that features such as wage
labor, rent, and corporate organization of commerce would arise
naturally in a free society."

I think this looks past part of the individualist criticism. Many
individualists do not follow along the same classical liberal
conception that just means entail just ends. If fascism arose
naturally in a free society individualists would still universally
resist it, so it isn't merely that individualists argue that these
things would not arise in a free society (though that is an important
part of it), but also that they are in themselves antithetical to the
freedom of any society they do arise in.

8) "but which they should not and will not impose on others as long as
their own rights are respected."

It is important to note that many others simply have a different
conception of rights. As such, these people would happily respect the
rights of capitalists according to, for example, a socialist ethic,
but to a capitalist this could very well be a violation of capitalist
rights according to the capitalist ethic. Thus, to the socialist a
capitalist would indeed be imposing their own system on others when
they enforce/defend the capitalist conception. Of course, all of this
is already qualified as what the capitalists defend, thus more or less
indicating a claim, but it might be more clear to write something
along the lines of "will not impose on others as long as their own
capitalist rights" or maybe "property rights" or just "their own
conception of rights is respected." In other words, if people don't
violate the capitalist rights, anarcho-capitalists won't violate the
whatever rights of the other party. (personally I'm not so sure if
this would even be the anarcho-capitalist claim. Some I know only
claim that they would not impose their system onto those who have the
same basic conception of rights, they are under no obligation to
refrain from enforcing their system in the face of competing rights
systems. In other words, they only object to enforcing their economic
system if one assumes their economic standards at the outset.)

This problem also applies to this passage, "They tend to loathe
violent action and revolutions as a "normal" way to promote or impose
their views"

and this passage, "There is no history of violence, terrorist or
otherwise, perpetrated by anarcho-capitalists to impose their system."

This passage is especially problematic because many
anarcho-capitalists claim that medieval Icelanders were
anarcho-capitalist, or even that individuals in the "wild west" in
American history were anarcho-capitalist. These people undeniably used
violence to defend their system according to anarcho-capitalists,
impose it according to many others. So at the very least this claim is
disputed and needs to be stated as a claim. VV might want to pay
particular relevance to this, as previously the discussion seemed
centered on anarcho-capitalists in the present government systems.

9) "Many anti-capitalist anarchists, on the other hand, criticize the
anarcho-capitalist reading of the individualist anarchists, and argue
that their criticisms of capitalist practices are essential to
individualist anarchism."

Trying to get my head around a potential technical problem. I assume
"their" is meant to refer to the individualist anarchists, but I can't
tell if from a grammatical standpoint "their" would default to the
other two parties mentioned previously. Should this just be split into
two sentences (already long anyway)? The second reading something like
"The anti-capitalists argue that the individualist criticisms of


"Those who accept this critique typically"

Is just as well written "These anti-capitalist anarchists (as the
label stands atm)," since we already made clear who it was making this
argument and "those who accept this critique is just an extraneous

10) "Anarcho-capitalists have very widely differing social views,
ranging from the conservative and often religious paleolibertarians to
moderate liberals to the far Left."

Not an edit or criticism or anything. Just curious. Have you ever
actually met or heard of an anarcho-capitalist on the "far left?"

    If I count as an anarcho-capitalist (which is an issue that could
be argued at great length with lots of arguments and quibbles on both
sides) than I am one such anarcho-capitalist. If I'm too much of a Red
to count as an a-c, exactly, then my friend and former teacher
Roderick Long is one such. For what it's worth, what I mostly had in
mind when I split up these three categories were (1) Von Mises
Institute paleolibertarians, (2) the anarcho-capitalist end of the
Reason magazine crowd, and (3) Roderick, respectively. Radgeek 04:58,
12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

11) "The only important political issue, however, is that people are
free from the threat of violence no matter which community they live

A question, again not an edit. I know many anarcho-capitalists accept
lethal violence as a direct defense against an attacker. But isn't it
true that some of them even accept capital punishment of already
subdued criminals? Well, at least, I have heard of people claiming to
be anarcho-capitalists making such a claim. Given that, wouldn't it be
clear that an underlying threat of violence does exist in certain
anarcho-capitalist communities for certain degrees of social
deviation? I'm sure we could always claim that those
anarcho-capitalists are not actually anarcho-capitalists, but for some
reason I doubt many people would want to get into that kind of claim

    Some a-c's accept after-the-fact retaliatory violence, other's
don't. (Of course, all non-pacifist a-c's accept after-the-fact force
to procure just compensation from the rights-violator.) I suppose that
those that do might very well sign on all the way up to capital
punishment, although I don't have any first-hand testimony one way or
the other on the issue. In any case, punitive vs. compensatory-only
justice, in general, is a hot debate within a-c legal theory at the
moment, and ideally should be mentioned somewhere in the article. But
"threat of violence" here means threat of aggressive violence, and the
whole issue between punitive and anti-punitive a-c's is whether
punitive violence counts as an initiation of force or as a form of
defensive force. So this issue should probably be broached somewhere
earlier in the article, as a qualification on all subsequent
discussions re: defensive force. Radgeek 04:58, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

similarly, What they don't disagree about is which of these
communities ought to be legal--they should all be allowed in a free

I don't think this is positing an absence of law, since that is a
cornerstone of anarcho-capitalist theory. So I'm assuming this is
positing an absence of law enforcement on communities of dissenters?
But doesn't that assume a few important conditions, like for example
said dissenters not being say, "in dept" or in violation of other
capitalist standards? For example, if a group of renters suddenly has
a change of political ideology and decides that their claims to
intimacy or maybe labor-mixing with a given property gives them the
right to dissent from rent while continuing to occupy the land,
certainly they would be considered in violation of several standards
of capitalist law, and thus in all relevant senses their community
(which given the vague data thus far could be capitalist or communist
or whatever, just a different property justice standard) would be

12) "though most of them defend the necessity of violent action
against criminal acts"

This makes it sounds like capitalists are nutzos who would use
violence against a shoplifter. Obviously a pacifist would deny the
"necessity" of violent action against criminal acts. In fact, so would
many non-pacifists anarcho-capitalists who would only see a necessity
of enforcement, or others who do not even endorse automatic
enforcement against all criminal acts. Maybe "though most of them
defend violent action against particular criminal acts," or something
like that. Anyway, the "necessity" part is highly problematic.

    I agree that "necessity" is problematic (certainly a-c's don't
believe that there is some enforceable duty to use defensive
violence--although they may certainly believe that it's a very good
idea. Similarly, "violent action" muddies the case and neglects the
principle of proportionality that many a-c's endorse. Probably "right
to use defensive force" or somesuch would be better, and somewhere or
another where defensive force is used, a brief mention of
proportionality should be included. Radgeek 04:58, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

        I agree that it is very important to include proportionality
here. It is a source of many misunderstandings when it is not made
clear that anarcho-capitalists only legitimate defensive
force/violence used in proportion to the act they are defending
against. - Kev 12/12/03

13) "the right of anyone to secede from a government he considers
unfit should be respected (see secession and urban secession). If not,
then non-cooperation is morally justified (see civil disobedience). "

Another question. I assume this doesn't just mean to leave a
government, otherwise it would be tantamount to saying that
anarcho-capitalists don't endorse civil disobediance in a huge number
of modern-day countries. Rather, I would think it means something
along the lines of "can remove their home/land from the monopoly of
enforcement by a government." But if this is the case, would it be
possible for an individual who owns no land to secede from the local
enforcement agencies that work for landowners in the area? In other
words, yes this renter can leave, just like the individual in many
states can, but can they legitimately claim to remove themselves from
the enforcement power of a given owner/agency while still in a
jurisdiction it claims (as seems to be the case in the state example

14) Heh, another quesiton: "that governments represent natural
monopolies rather than coercive monopolies on the defensive use of

So are we saying that if a government arose that was a natural
monopoly the anarcho-capitalist would have no objection? If so, then
we must have a very very strict definition of state that coincides
perfectly as only those governments which arise with coercion. Does
this mean that, in theory, one could develop some fascist government
in perfect accord with anarcho-capitalist values so long as it arose
as a natural monopoly, and that the most severe response by an
anarcho-capitalist would be a boycott of such a government once it was
instituted and abused its power? This is a startling claim in the
presence of the earlier admission to selectively endorse the use of
large-scale conflict against particular countries viewed as

15) "(b) that anarcho-capitalism will make it more likely for coercive
monopolies (in the form of local plutocracies) to form."

This is a call for an edit, I think. Couldn't there also be C) "that
the natural monopolies are or can be coercive monopolies?"

16) "beyond so-called possessive property"

Why is this so-called? I mean, of course, it is so-called, but so is
everything. Why is this being emphasized?

    I agree that this phrase should be struck. I didn't endeavor to do
it yet because I was occupied with other issues and didn't want to
broach or expand on this one just yet. I think that the best thing to
do is simply strike the "so-called" and provide a link that explains
what possessive property is taken to mean. Or some similar solution.
Does such a link target already exist, or will it have to be created?
Further thoughts on phrasing? Radgeek 04:58, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

        Now I have to sheepishly admit that I don't think such a link
has been created yet. There is currently a page for possession, which
details three different meanings of the word, one of which is
"possession is also a type of ownership supported by some proponents
of anarchism who seek to abolish private property as an institution of
coercion." But I don't know if that would be detailed enough for
linking to in its current form. Maybe a brand new page linked to from
here and from the possession page titled something like "anarchist
possession" (indicating it as an anarchist concept, not something all
anarchists agree on) or "individual possession." Anyway, I think I
could make such a page but I'm not actually an advocate of possession
per se, so I will instead try to invite a few individualist friends to
come create the page themselves. Feel free to start a new page
yourself if you have the time/desire. - Kev 12/12/03

17) "many anti-capitalist anarchists — though not those who identify
with the tradition of individualist anarchism — approach these from a
collectivist socialist standpoint"

This forgets egoists. As per my recommendation above, could this
simply be, "many collectivist anarchists approach these from a
socialist standpoint?"

Eeeek. Very long. Take your time in responding, I've got a few days
left on my self-exile anyway. - Kev 12/11/03

Thanks, Kev, for your detailed and thoughtful respones. There's a lot
of good stuff here to chew on, and as you propose, I'll take my time
in responding. I'll interleave a couple of things in response to your
post tonight, and add some more tomorrow. Radgeek 04:58, 12 Dec 2003
Dec 13

O.K., so it took me a bit longer to come back to this page than I had
thought. Some more comments on Kev's comments are interleaved. Radgeek
15:17, 13 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I think that, chronologically and logically, it makes just as much
sense to say that he got it from the individualist anarchists as it
does to say he got it from the classical liberals.

The case for that is strong enough that I would readily admit it can't
be ruled out. But that is not too controversial, I doubt Rothbard
would have claimed roots in individualism if it was clearly the case
that he had no relation to it whatsoever. However, your above
statement indicates the point that worries me. It might be that you
were simply being generous in an attempt to foster civil dialogue, but
if you meant what you said as a frank appraisal then it follows that
it would also make just as much sense to say that he got it from the
classical liberals as it does to say that he got it form the
individualists. In other words, it is ambiguous, and as an ambiguous
matter a claim concerning it really needs to be indicated as a claim.
What pushes us toward claiming that it draws from individualism in an
otherwise unclear determination is Rothbard's own assertions on the
matter. This is also closely related to the arguments on the choice of
the name "anarchism." However, while it is clear that Rothbard
believed that anarcho-capitalism consisted, in part, of ideas from
individualism, I don't think his belief alone is sufficient to assert
that the ideas he drew were in fact (rather than just in claim)
individualist ideas.

For example, someone who comes at this from the position that
anarchism is more than anti-statism, something I think that both
collectivist anarchists and individualists anarchists would agree on,
would not feel inclined to view this otherwise ambiguous attribution
of source to individualism merely because Rothbard claimed as much.
I'm not saying anyone thinks that Rothbard was engaged in deception,
only that there is good reason to believe that he selected out a
particular part of the meaning of anarchism, one thus distinct from
the one individualists themselves used when he declared himself an
anarcho-capitalist. It would make sense, if one decided to refer to
oneself as an anarchist for whatever reason (and motivations are not
something important here), that one would attempt to back that up with
some support by showing parallels between ones own philosophy and that
of some group of anarchists. But obviously to the individualists who
call themselves anarchists for much more than purely anti-statist
reasons those parallels would be just that, similarities in two
different traditions. So for these reasons I don't find the mere fact
that these ideas heavily circulated in liberal and libertarian circles
or that he specifically chose the name anarchism to be, in themselves,
compelling reasons to rule out the qualifier "claim," especially given
the controversial nature of the attribution. Many ideas circulate
through many traditions, and many people claim many different titles
for any number of reasons, I simply feel we would need more tangible
evidence of a direct relation in order to overcome the worries that
anarchism itself is being changed from even the most broad meaning it
had to individualists even as we attribute the ideas to them.

What I find much more compelling is your knowledge of early
anarcho-capitalists arguments against the state taken from Spooner in
"No Treason" and other works. Perhaps I'm just not familiar with them,
and learning about them might help me to better understand whether the
arguments we are refering to are actually individualist arguments in
general, or rather just arguments held by one individualist in
particular (Spooner). Of course the distinction is important, for
example if a nationalist of some variety claimed to draw from
anarchism by refering to anti-semitic arguments made by Proudhon to
buffer his rejection of the state, there would be good reason to
reject the claim, or at least doubt it, because the anti-semitism is
not itself required by or central to anarchism (some would even argue
it is anti-thetical to anarchism), but rather simply a peculiarity of
a single anarchist. In the context of wikipedia it would not be
appropriate to delete or censor any such claims, as that would rule
out a potentially valid conception, but to demarcate them as claims
would be appropriate given their basis.

Thus, if you are refering, for example, to the "Natural Law" positions
that Spooner held and their various entailments as one moral
justification to reject the state, then I wonder if it would be
appropriate to apply these back to a statement which indicates that
the ideas are drawn from individualism itself. Of course Spooner was
an anarcho-individualist and he believed in natural law, but he was
also then and now in a small minority amongst anarcho-individualists
on this point, often even ridiculed by other individualists who felt
such beliefs were contrary to their views, which leads me to believe
that individualism itself is agnostic on this issue. If that is the
case, then his natural law arguments are not reflective of
individualism itself, which would not necessarily imply or deny them,
they are simply coincidental to it. So while in this case it would be
correct to claim that "anarcho-capitalists draw certain ideas from an
anarcho-individualist" or just "from Spooner" it would be misleading
to conflate the person and the position and claim that
"anarcho-capitalists draw ideas from anarcho-individualism." One could
assert that the later is still appropriate by claiming that anarchism
is anti-statism and thus arguments made against the state by an
individualist must be anarcho-individualist arguments even if they are
unique or rare, but in order to make this claim we must first assume
the very point in contention, that anarchism is nothing more than
anti-statism. There is also the minor point that Spooner believed that
natural law had egalitarian entailments very distinct from Rothbard's
conception, but if we accept that Spooner's natural law beliefs were
not anarchistic per se the already tenuous point concerning the extent
to which Rothbard borrowed from Spooner becomes a side issue.

However, if the arguments on the part of the individualists in
question are not of this type, then I think this would be very
compelling. Maybe there are some other arguments explicated by Spooner
and central to or at least commonly associated with individualism
(i.e. either universally or at least widely held by individualists)
itself that I'm simply unaware of. If that is the case, and Rothbard
used any of these arguments at the same time that he began refering to
his position as anarcho-capitalism, then I think it would soundly put
to rest my contention concerning the use of a qualifier in the claim
that anarcho-capitalism draws ideas from individualism. So, in
summary, I think (I may be wrong, but thus far the statements seem to
indicate as much) that we are in agreement as to the potential
ambiguousness of this issue. Given that, and given the controversy of
the subject, I feel that the arguments from use of the term
"anarchist" and wide circulation of articles and texts do not
adequately put to rest the call for (what I personally believe to be)
a rather minor qualifier that addresses the concern that the text
currently skews toward a particular conception of the relationship
between individualism and capitalism not universally held. However, I
think the claim that there are identifiable individualist arguments
being used expressly by early a-c proponents (in particular Rothbard),
is definately a promising path if we account for the worry above about
distinguishing between positions coicidental to particular
individualists and integral to (or mostly anyway, its an organic
matter) individualism itself.

So, I'm very interested in what knowledge you can provide me on the
matter. (and I hope some of this made sense, been awhile since I
sharpened the old philosophy axe)

For the rest, I substantially agree with you on everything you have
commented on thus far. The section concerning porportionality and the
non-initiaion of force, with a possible intro to possession somewhere
therein, sounds fine. Of course I'll have to wait and see exactly how
it is worded before giving a personal thumbs up, but from the sound of
things thus far and your own short description in this dialogue I find
nothing objectionable. - Kev 12/13/03
Dec 14

I don't see that there is anything calling for a response in your
latest round of posturing VV, so I won't bother. If there is something
up there you really think is relevant at all, please feel free to try
to express it again minus all the condescension and cute adjectives. -
Kev 12/14/03
Dec 16

My week of voluntarily ceasing to edit this page is over. I hope it
has done some good for VV. I now intend to begin editing again. As I
did the last time I took a two week break, I will begin to insert one
edit at a time, explaining on the discuss page where necessary, and
waiting a day or so before proceeding to the next. As with last time,
if I find several of my edits reverted at once I will simply revert
them back unless a compelling explaination is offered for each and
every edit that is reverted. I will begin with edits that seem to have
no objections or basic consensus. My first edit will be changing the
link on the word "disputed" since that page specifically warns against
putting NPOV disputes on it and that warning is precisely concerning
an NPOV dispute. Since the discussion currently linked to is arguably
important, however, I will place a new link to that as well. - Kev
Dec 17

Removed "so-called" as discussed above. There is currently no article
specifically detailing the anarchist concept of possession, but the
article that exists to disambiguation gives a brief account and is now
linked to. Eventually a dedicated page might be a good idea, but it is
important to have input of many different kinds of anarchists on this
as the concept has many interpretations, so a vague referance for now
would best account for all of them.

Also removed "so-called" from green anarchism, as a link already
existed for it. - Kev 12/17/03
Dec 18

Now this is interesting. On the current dispute page Olathe argued
that this page is about a POV, thus did not require a NPOV for its
presentation. But now the header reads that this explaination of
anarcho-capitalism is non-negotiable -because- it is NPOV. A POV
article about anarcho-capitalism is for rather clear reasons not NPOV.
Further, the use of "objective" in that header is misleading. I could
easily write another parallel article to this one claiming that
anarcho-capitalism was something else entirely and claim that it was
an "objective" portrayal of a given POV on anarcho-capitalism. If the
article is to say whatever anarcho-capitalists themselves want it to
say, but nothing that people who are not anarcho-capitalists want it
to say, then it clearly isn't neutral, but rather specifically biased
toward the anarcho-capitalist POV. That, in itself, is fine with me.
But to then add a header claiming neutrality and objectivity seems to
rather stretch the boundaries of reason. POV the article all you want,
but don't expect others to accept a header claiming NPOV and
objectivity at the same time. - Kev 12/18/03

Is this an encyclopaedia or a propaganda leaflet? Should we let Nazis
decide what goes on the Naziism page, or let them write the history of
World War II from their own "objective" perspectives?

I had always assumed that objectivity meant displaying all viewpoints
in a non-biased manner. I must voice my dissent with regard to the new
changes. The point of the page is to give readers a good understanding
of anarcho-capitalism - and our points are that anarcho-capitalism
cannot be understood without also understanding, in a clear and
unbiased fashion, the perspectives of the very people whose philosophy
the ideology is based on. -- Aaron 11:20, 18 Dec 2003

I think there is definately some confusion on this page about what is
meant by neutrality. So here are some quotes from the NPOV page to
help out. In regards, for example, to the first sentence: "Perhaps the
easiest way to make your writing more encyclopedic, is to write about
what people believe, rather than what is so."

Thus, some people believe that anarcho-capitalism draws on the
tradition of individualism, and some people do not. To state that
anarcho-capitalism does draw on the tradition of individualism, when
many if not most individualists themselves would disagree, is clearly

In regards to certain individuals not caring if all views are
represented fairly: "Wikipedia has an important policy: roughly
stated, you should write articles without bias, representing all views

It goes on to make a very important point about supposed objectivity:
"This is easily misunderstood. The policy doesn't assume that it's
possible to write an article from just one point of view, which would
be the one unbiased, "objective" point of view. The Wikipedia
neutrality policy says that we should fairly represent all sides of a
dispute, and not make an article state, imply, or insinuate that any
one side is correct."

The header, as it currently exists, disregards all of this.

Indeed, I think this article is currently headed in the wrong
direction on two fronts now. Not only is it moving toward explicitly
detailing only one POV without any address of contrary POVs, an
explicit violation of NPOV policy. But it is doing so under the
pretenses of being both neutral and objective. This is simply not
satisfactory. - Kev 12/18/03

I have not argued that the article should be POV. I've argued that the
article should objectively declare what anarcho-capitalists believe
(objectively describe their POV). It shouldn't describe other groups'
arguments against anarcho-capitalism because that would take several
million bytes (for all the millions of groups that might have
something to say about anarcho-capitalism). If there is contention
about an issue such as where anarcho-capitalists objectively draw
inspiration from, that is one thing, as it deals objectively with the
anarcho-capitalist point of view. That another group wants the term
"anarchism" for themselves as a sort of trademark because of the
reputation they've earned for themselves through the use of it (or for
whatever other reason) should be on that group's article, because it
is their POV and hence on-topic for their article.

In other words, we should keep the article on-topic (specifically the
POV of anarcho-capitalists), rather than discussing the POVs of other
groups here just because anarcho-capitalists are the antagonists of
the argument. For instance, if I started a POV called "Olathan
anarchism", the historical anarchists would also not want me using the
term anarchist for the same reasons. Should we copy the argument to
each and every nonhistorical (or "incorrect"-definition-using) group
that uses the name "anarchism" ? Would we copy the viewpoint that
"Roman Catholics believe they are the true Christian church and all
other churches have no claim to the name" to the articles on every
single Protestant sect and vice-versa (leading to huge numbers of
listings for each sect: "Roman Catholics believe that..." "Eastern
Orthodoxers believe that..." "Southern Baptists believe that...") ?
No, although we might include that in the Roman Catholic article
because it is objectively part of their viewpoint.

My point was not that we abandon all objectivity, but that we keep the
thing on-topic, without burdening the article with extraneous
tangents. The key ideas I'm advocating are "stay on-topic" and "the
topic is the point-of-view of anarcho-capitalists". I am not
advocating an anarcho-capitalist free-for-all.

– Olathe December 18, 2003

    I'm not going to respond to the paragraph about arguments against
anarcho-capitalism, as I've already repeatedly made my position clear
on that and don't know who you are directing it toward. I agree that
the article should stay on topic, and so long as the
anarcho-capitalist POV is indicated to be such, you will find no
complaints from me. I do think the header is currently far too
unwieldy and redundant: "This article attempts to objectively explain
the viewpoint of anarcho-capitalists."

If by this we mean that the article attempts to give a neutral
presentation of the anarcho-capitalist POV, then it doesn't need to be
said, as neutrality is the stated policy of all of wikipedia. If this
is something more, like giving "the" objective POV, then it ought not
to be said, as that is a violation of the neutrality policy. This
pretty much applies to the entire thing, if you have a problem with
the edits people are making and want to warn against certain ones or
emphasize that certain edits are inappropriate, feel free to use
encoding to add it to the edit page but not have it appear and take up
so much space in the article itself. Or just bring it up in the talk
page. In addition, you removed the NPOV dispute, which still stands
and provides a link that puts this page on a list of NPOV disputes,
where it currently belongs. So my edit for today will be a revert of
that entire paragraph back to its previous state. - Kev 12/18/03
Dec 20

Hi folks. I'm not going to get involved in this debate, I'm just
passing on something I put in The Machinery of Freedom and then
decided would probably be better here. When you decide what you want
to do with the article, you may want it.

    Vernor Vinge published a short story, "The Ungoverned", set in a
society based on the principles outlined by Friedman and focusing on
how it would deal with crime, disputes, and invasion.

Cheers, Tualha 01:41, 20 Dec 2003 (UTC)

My edit for today will be the second sentence, which used to be the
first sentence. I know this will raise a lot of hairs, but it has
remained unmodified on the article page for almost two weeks now
despite a great deal of discussion on this talk page. In regards to
the neutrality policy I refered to above in conversation with Olathe,
and the reasonable objections to the view that anarcho-capitalism
specifically draws ideas form the individualist tradition that I
discussed with Rad, I think that the minor modifier along the lines of
"claim" (or whatever else will account for the fact that this is not
an open and shut case) is valid. Again, this is in full keeping with
the neutrality policy of wikipedia, especially since this is the first
time in which this claim is dealt with in the article. Also, I'm still
happy to accept evidence that arguments/ideas taken specifically from
individualism were used by those who first declared themselves
anarcho-capitalists, if they account for my previous contention that
not all arguments made by individualists themselves necessarily
represent individualism itself. - Kev 12/20/03
Dec 24

Today I have modified the section on individualism to more accurately
account for the differences between the two theories. In several
places the same words were being used to describe two distinct ideas,
so some effort has now been made to indicate that there is more
disagreement here than was previously apparent. This is discussed in
more detail in my above responses to Rad. - Kev 12/24/03
Jan 1

Happy New Year's, all. Sorry I've been away for a while; holiday
travel and other projects have kept me occupied.

I was rather alarmed to see some of the edits that have occurred while
I've been away. In particular:

    Thus, anarcho-capitalists describe their position as a form of
anarchism, in the limited sense of being against certain state-like
actions (for instance, coercion via personal violence, forcible
reductions in personal liberty, private property destruction, or
forcible private property transfer) rather than being against all
hierarchy (for instance, coercion via withholding excess vital
supplies). They believe that there are certain proscribed actions, but
no proscribed inactions. Which actions are proscribed is a matter of
varying opinion because the choice is subjective. For instance, some
believe that an avenger killing a murderer a week after the murder is
allowed for utilitarian or emotional reasons; some believe that it is
proscribed for moral or philosophical reasons.

. . . and following paragraphs are completely unacceptable. I want to
work for compromise solutions here, but this is diatribe and

        I can only say the same thing to you that I said previously to
Olathe. You should be careful not to assume you know who the author of
a given passage is if you haven't gone back and checked, and you
should futher be careful not to assume their motivations. The person
who wrote that passage clearly thinks he is protecting this article
against misrepresentation by others, something I find a tad ironic. -
Kev 01/03/03

            Kev - I am sorry if you thought that I was picking on you
specifically. I didn't mean to suggest anything in particular about
who made the edits, just to comment on the edits themselves. (If I
recall at least some of them were under an IP address in any case.) If
I did convey that impression accidentally, I apologize. Radgeek 06:26,
5 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Insofar as there is a need to distinguish between positive and
negative conceptions of rights it should be done in a section on the
Non-Initiation of Force Principle, not here. Moreover, the
anarcho-capitalist position is simply manhandled in the process.

"against certain state-like actions ... rather than being against all

The issue, first, is not that certain actions are state-like, but
rather that they are violations individual rights. Second, although
some anarcho-capitalists look down their nose at egalitarianism,
others do not. The reason is that anarcho-capitalism per se does not
imply a commitment one way or the other. There are plenty of
hierarchial social arrangements which are not violations of
non-initiation of force (say, setting up a racially segregated dining
hall on your own private property). Anarcho-capitalists can (and most
anarcho-capitalists do) think that such things are stupid, and that
they are indeed evil. They just don't think that they're initiations
of force. (Justice is the not the only virtue. It's just the only
virtue that's enforceable.)

"Which actions are proscribed is a matter of varying opinion because
the choice is subjective." This is crap. It's a matter of "varying
opinion" because there are hotly contested and unsettled philosophical
debate. That doesn't mean that there aren't solidly argued reasons for
choosing one side or the other in the debate, and it doesn't mean that
there isn't an objective fact of the matter as to who's right and
who's wrong.

Radgeek 03:59, 1 Jan 2004 (UTC)

The edit of this:

    many were also influenced by specific individualist critiques of
the State and individualist arguments for the right to ignore or
withdraw from it. (Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of
No Authority was widely reprinted in anarcho-capitalist journals.)
Anarcho-capitalists also follow in the individualist anarchist
condemnation of all forms of collectivist coercion, which are equated
with state coercion.

To this:

    Many anarcho-capitalists were also influenced by Lysander
Spooner’s critique of the State and his arguments for the right to
ignore or withdraw from it. (Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The
Constitution of No Authority was widely reprinted in
anarcho-capitalist journals.)

is an inaccurate limitation of the statement. Spooner was certainly
the most important of the individualists for early
anarcho-capitalists, but he was not at all the only influence. Many
early anarcho-capitalists disliked Tucker, but others saw him as an

        This passage did not refer to some vague influence, but to
"specific individualist critiques of the State and individualist
arguments for the right to ignore or withdraw from it." Seeing Tucker
as a predecessor is not the same as drawing a specific individualist
critique from him, so this is not evidence in support of the previous
version of the passage. - Kev

            But Kev, the passage as it has been redacted (and as it
was originally was written) already gives a specific example. If you
really want more mentions by name I can put some more together.
Spooner is just an easy and well-known example of a general trend. As
for Tucker, Rothbard among others frequently cited him in his
writings. Here, for example, is how he listed his influences as of

                "Originally, our historical figures were men such as
Jefferson, Paine,

Cobden, Bright, and Spencer; but as our views became purer and more
consistent, we eagerly embraced such near-anarchists as the
voluntarist, Auberon Herbert, and the American
individualist-anarchists, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin R. Tucker. One
of our great intellectual heroes was Henry David Thoreau, and his
essay, 'Civil Disobedience,' was one of our guiding stars. Right-wing
theorist Frank Chodorov devoted an entire issue of his monthly,
Analysis, to an appreciation of Thoreau." (MNR, "Confessions,"
Ramparts Vol. 6 1962, p. 50)

            Again, I can come up with some more extended citations if
they are needed. (Of course Rothbard was also very critical of Tucker
on certain points: R. repudiated the labor theory of value, and he
detested Tucker's attacks on natural rights theory. But he disagreed
with just about all past writers on economics, and in the egoist vs.
natural rights debates he was taking the side of one individualist
anarchist faction — i.e. Spooner's — against another. Indeed, his
ethical positions derived far more froom Spooner than they did from
Von Mises, who was a subjectivist on questions of ultimate value.)

Liberty mainstays such as Auberon Herbert were widely reprinted and
admired. Hebert Spencer's works were also tremendously important;

        I do not understand why you are refering to two people who
were not individualist anarchists in order to justify the the claim
that anarcho-capitalism draws from arguments made by individualist
anarchists. If you want to claim that it draws from arguments made in
Liberty, then please feel free, but the fact that Liberty printed many
works by people who were not individualist anarchists, like Spencer
and Herbert, is not evidence that the later tradition of
anarcho-capitalism drew from individualist anarchism. - Kev

            Kev, I explain the citation below. Auberon Herbert was not
part of the American individualist anarchist movement (since, among
other things, he was not American, and not exactly an anarchist). But
so what? Herbert was closely connected, intellectually, and the
individualist anarchists saw him as making important contributions to
their own project. The same goes for Herbert Spencer. As I say below,
this is good reason to see the anti-statist liberal and the
individualist anarchist traditions as being something other than
entirely alien to each other — and not just in that modern
anarcho-capitalists claim to draw on both. The individualist
anarchists were also influenced by the anti-state liberals. (Tucker
thought of his project as voluntary socialism; but he also thought of
it as the logical completion of the liberal programme of free trade,
and he said as much, frequently.) If you think that anarcho-capitalism
is strictly the descendent of anti-state liberalism, without much in
the way of significant input from individualist anarchists, then that
simply makes it a sort of cousin of individualist anarchism rather
than a descendent. And as I've argued here and before, there are
several important ways that such a case falters.

he is properly classed as an anti-statist liberal rather than an
individualist anarchist, but as it happens his thought mostly came to
the United States through its being reprinted and discussed in
Tucker's Liberty (another reason to be a bit suspicious of the attempt
to treat the anti-statist liberal tradition and the individualist
anarchist tradition as wholly alien to one another).

Radgeek 04:34, 1 Jan 2004 (UTC)

This phrase:

    At the strongest, anarcho-capitalists merely defend capitalism (in
the second sense of the term) as a legitimate choice among these forms
of organization . . . which they should not and will not impose on
others as long as their own conception of rights is respected.

Has been edited to:

    At the strongest, anarcho-capitalists merely defend capitalism (in
the second sense of the term) as a legitimate choice among these forms
of organization, . . . which they should not and will not impose on
others by force.

Dealing with the qualification was stylistically clumsy, but moreover
unnecessary. However, I've brought this up because the phrase I
deleted is illustrative of a certain kind of error.

Several times during the course of edits, statements making use of
disputed concepts — "rights" being a case in point — has been
"qualified" to say things like "their own conception of rights"
instead of "their own rights" (similar things were done with claims
about defense of property, etc.). The problem with such language is
that the "qualification" actually just ends up making the sentence
false: from the stand-point of the defensive use of force,
anarcho-capitalists do not care about whether their conception of
rights is respected; they care about whether their rights (under an
a-c conception of rights) are respected. The former is a matter of
philosophical agreement or disagreement, not a matter of aggression or
defense. (A fascist can publish diatribes in favor of the right to
shoot Jews at will all that s/he wants--but s/he cannot go out and
shoot Jews at will.)

The general moral here is to make sure that if you qualify a
particular claim in an effort to highlight the fact that a term is
being used in a disputed way, you should make sure that the sentence
is still about what it is was about before--that sentences about
particular things remain about those things, rather than being about
the thoughts, conception, or feelings of a particular group of people
about those things.

Radgeek 05:05, 1 Jan 2004 (UTC)

        A very good point. I didn't make any of these recent edits,
but I have made such edits in the past and will try not to in the
future. - Kev

Jan 2

This phrase:

    Indeed, individualists would argue that a market which included
usury and wage labor would not be free at all, and therefore
relationships within could not be based on voluntary association.

has been struck from the discussion of points of agreement and
disagreement between individualists and anarcho-capitalists; it is an
inaccurate representation of the individualist position. (Tucker, for
example, did not regard interest, rent, etc. as actual invasions
against individual liberty; he regarded them as exploitative
arrangements that were propped up by other, genuinely invasive
institutions--such as government restriction of competition in banking
and money, illegitimate restriction of homesteading on unused land,

        Assuming this is correct (and I'm not so sure, I remember a
quote of Tucker saying that usury deprived individuals of their
earnings, and I have trouble believing that he thought a direct
restriction of the collection of those earnings (i.e. rent, interest,
etc) which is upheld by force would not be an invasion against their
liberty), it still doesn't seem to apply to the above passage. As the
article exists, it misleadingly conflates the "free" market that
capitalists refer as the same one that individualists refer to,
drawing a much closer illusory parallel then the evidence actually
calls for. Individualists do not think that a market which includes
capital relations is "free," many of them have said so many times, I
would be happy to provide quotes if necessary. Further, the belief
that capital markets are not "free" markets is not limited to Tucker.
Are we in agreement that individualists did not view capital as a part
of "free" individual relations? If not, I'd be happy to provide the
evidence, if so, I don't see what is wrong with the edit. If you are
worried that it states or implies something other than this, then
please rework it. To simply delete it instead is to prefer one form of
misrepresentation to another. - Kev 01/03/04

It's right to say that Tuckerian individualists would sharply
criticize the claims of some anarcho-capitalists about the "voluntary"
nature of corporations, etc., and argue that the exploitative nature
of certain key "capitalist" arrangements has to color the
understanding of certain arrangements as "voluntary" or "involuntary."
But it's not right to put it in the way it was put here. I am trying
to think of a better way to put this point; I'll post again if I come
up with something.

Radgeek 01:28, 3 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Jan 5

Rad: I am sorry if you thought that I was picking on you specifically.

    I didn't. What I did see was that you seemed to misinterpret the
motivations of the individual who made the changes, otherwise I don't
know why you would use such harsh language to address someone with the
same motivation as you (to accurately represent this page). While I
might agree that several parts of this article constitute a
"diatribe", "mischaracterization," or "man-handling," of various
subjects, I think such interpretations do not lend the benefit of the
doubt to the editor and are likely to lead to the same kind of edit
war you came here to help stop.

        The edits were described as mischaracterization, diatribe,
etc. (and hence as completely unacceptable) because that is what they
were. I understand that the motivation was not to insert diatribe or
to mischaracterize, but that's what ended up being the result of the
editing process. I don't want to fall into a renewed edit war, or for
dialogue to break up out of hard feelings, but part of the process of
avoiding that is recognizing certain formulations as problematic and
others as simply unacceptable. (Hence, why I like to emphasize trying
to find alternative phrasings rather than arguing for either of the
old alternatives. Unfortunately in a couple of places I've just
deleted things because I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment and
haven't had as much time to think about certain phrasings as I would
like — but there were changes which, although well-intended, made
things worse rather than better.) Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

    I am sure Olathe wants nothing more than to help you in making
this page accurately describe anarcho-capitalist views, espcially
given his repeated assertions that it is currently being used by
critics to misrepresent the theory. Anyway, I think all the edits made
under an IP address were mine, I coupled all of them with a discussion
passage with my name attached to make that clear.

Rad: But Kev, the passage as it has been redacted (and as it was
originally was written) already gives a specific example.

    Are you refering to the example of Spooner? If so, then the
passage as it was rewritten still included that specific example. If
not, I fail to see a specific example of an argument taken from
individualists, all I see is a referance to such arguments.

        Here is how the passage originally read:

            many were also influenced by specific individualist
critiques of the State and individualist arguments for the right to
ignore or withdraw from it. (Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The
Constitution of No Authority was widely reprinted in
anarcho-capitalist journals.)

        Here is how it was later edited to read:

            Many anarcho-capitalists were also influenced by Lysander
Spooner’s critique of the State and his arguments for the right to
ignore or withdraw from it. (Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The
Constitution of No Authority was widely reprinted in
anarcho-capitalist journals.)

        And here is how I most recently edited it to read:

            Many anarcho-capitalists were also influenced by
individualist critiques of the State and their arguments for the right
to ignore or withdraw from it (as, for example, in Lysander Spooner's
No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, which was widely
reprinted in early anarcho-capitalist journals).

        The point that I am trying to raise is that the middle version
inaccurately limits the scope of influence. Yes, Lysander Spooner was
an influence on anarcho-capitalists. And yes, his influence is
probably greater than that of any of the other anarcho-capitalists.
But the way that the middle version was written suggests strongly that
it was only Lysander Spooner's critique of the State that influenced
the anarcho-capitalists. That's not what the anarcho-capitalists say
about their own influences, and it's not what shows up in their
writings. Rothbard, for example, explicitly credits Tucker (and
Spooner, too) for moving beyond No Treason-style arguments for the
individual right to ignore the State and introducing essential work on
the actual framework of what a free society would look like (see, for
example, Wendy McElroy's essay at ,
particularly the quote from Rothbard at the close). He endorsed
Tucker's conception of "defense associations" (although he could have
gotten the idea just as easily from Molinari's "competing governments"
— it seems to me impossible, not to mention fruitless, to try to
separate out which of the two was the definitive influence on this
issue. Rothbard's theory of land ownership is also clearly influenced
by (although not in complete agreement with) Tucker, as is his
endorsement of peasant uprisings for land reform in the Third World.
He cited Tucker's arguments against the Georgists. Etc. Radgeek 06:02,
6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Rad: If you really want more mentions by name I can put some more
together. Spooner is just an easy and well-known example of a general
trend. As for Tucker, Rothbard among others frequently cited him in
his writings. Here, for example, is how he listed his influences as of

    You have brought this up now on three seperate occasions, and each
time I have given you the same answer. I'm not arguing that Rothbard
didn't claim individualists as an influence, obviously he did. All the
qoute that you inserted suggests is a repeat of this fact, that
Rothbard considered himself to be influenced by indvidualists.

        I have to confess, Kev, that I am more than a bit puzzled by
your reaction to the quote. Certainly Rothbard's own say-so about his
influence is not as conclusive as a detailed consideration of his
actual citations in his work, etc. But it certainly does seem to me
that when someone says "I was influenced by X when I said Y" that's a
pretty strong prima facie case for accepting that s/he was indeed
influenced by X when s/he said Y. Thus far I had assumed that your
argument was that the early a-c's simply didn't much care about the
individualist anarchists, and that claims of influence are actually
just latter-day revisionism once the a-c's began discovering parallels
between their own ideas and some of the ideas of Tucker, Spooner, etc.
If that was a misunderstanding, I apologize. Here you say (1) that
Rothbard (and a similar case could be made for other of the early
a-c's) certainly did consider himself to be influenced by the i-a's,
but (2) that you don't necessarily believe him. That seems to me to be
a pretty perverse position to take unless you have some very strong
reasons to take it. Do you think that Rothbard was being dishonest
about his intellectual influences? Or that he was just mistaken about
them? If the latter, what exactly does that mean, and how is it
different from the claim that he was influenced by them, but just
misunderstood them on some points which you consider (and which they
would have considered) pretty damned important? Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan
2004 (UTC)

    None of it shows what I asked for above, an actual argument taken
from individualists that is A) not found in the other theories
anarcho-capitalism claims to draw from and B) actually representative
of individualism rather than coincidental to particular

        I don't disagree with you that something that meets both (A)
and (B) would clearly make the case; but I do wonder why these are the
specific requirements you insist on. The issue, after all, is not the
modal properties of anarcho-capitalism — what folks like LeFevre and
Rothbard and so on could or would have been able to come up with if
they had only read Molinari and Bastiat and so on. The question is who
actually did influence them, who they actually did, and so on. As I
argued earlier, and elaborated in the paragraph above, there's lots of
reasons to include the individualist anarchists on that list. There
are some specific arguments (some of which I've cited) on which I
think both (A) and (B) are satisfied, and others where (B) is
satisfied but not (A) (such as the endorsement of Tucker's defense
associations). And other lines of evidence which have to do with
matters of dialectical positioning rather than the citation of a
specific idea. Rothbard or LeFevre could, for example, have written
just as a Molinarian advocate of "competing governments," but for a
variety of reasons they didn't. Rothbard and many others identified
themselves explicitly with the anarchist tradition; LeFevre
contributed to the theory of anarcho-capitalism but rejected the
identification in favor of "autarchy." I made this point at some
length earlier, with an analogy to the shift represented by the
adoption of "feminism" by the movement formerly known as "Women's
Liberation." The point here is that how these folks located
themselves, who they saw as their conversation partners, etc. was
pretty significant - LeFevre and Rothbard had something serious to
argue about. I happen to think that LeFevre was wrong and Rothbard was
right to make the identification with anarchism (though he was wrong
about many other things). But in any case the point here is that
whether the a-c decision to identify with the anarchist tradition was
wise or ill-conceived, the decision was made, and that counts as a
pretty significant reason in favor of attributing an influence (again,
separating that question from the separate question of whether the
effect of that influence was following in the i-a tradition or
perverting it).

        That was much more long-winded than I intended it to be; I
apologize, but it is too late tonight to try to fix it. The upshot of
what I'm trying to say here is that I understand why a critical piece
of argument or evidence that meets both (A) and (B) would be
sufficient for saying that a-c's draw on i-a thought. (And I think
that there are cases that meet those criteria, though you have
disagreed on some of those and may disagree on the ones I am
introducing.) But I don't understand why you insist that it's a
necessary condition. It certainly seems to me that there a lot of
lines of evidence that could be drawn, and have been drawn; and while
these lines are somewhat messier than the lines of evidence based on
the consideration of conditions like (A) and (B), it seems to me that
intellectual history just is a messy affair and it's often neither
possible nor desirable to try to draw up the sort of clean and
definitive family trees of ideas that seem to be embodied in the
insistence on (A) and (B). Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Rad: and in the egoist vs. natural rights debates he was taking the
side of one individualist anarchist faction — i.e. Spooner's — against

    But we can't neglect the fact that natural rights were already a
very established part of the other theories anarcho-capitalism claims
to draw from, the fact that he "took Spooner's side" indicates nothing
more than a concurance of values. It is like Kropotkin arguing for
involvement in WWII, it doesn't suggest that he endorsed the statism
of the countries he believed should fight, nor does it belie some
close relation between some "faction" of anarchists and statists.

        The point wasn't that taking Spooner's side necessarily
committed Rothbard to drawing from the i-a tradition. (Ayn Rand and
Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas would all have taken Spooner's side
against Tucker, but none of them could conceivably be located within
an anarchist tradition of any kind.) The point, rather, was that
Rothbard's attack on Tucker on this point didn't commit him to
disaffiliating from the individualist-anarchist tradition. (A
secondary point was that it also indicats the degree to which Rothbard
had read, and written on, and was concerned with, the discussions of
the individualist-anarchists. That's not definitive evidence for any
kind of affiliation with them, of course; he might be looking in as a
disinterested scholar (hardly likely!) or as a somewhat friendly
fellow traveler drawing from a separate but parallel tradition (much
more likely). But it does seem to me to count as some evidence towards
the overall conclusion, and the point is not whether this isolated
fact makes the case or not, but rather how it holds together with the
rest of the points being made. Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Rad: Kev, I explain the citation below. Auberon Herbert was not part
of the American individualist anarchist movement (since, among other
things, he was not American, and not exactly an anarchist). But so

    The "so what" happens to be rather relevant, as you were citing
Spencer and Herbert as evidence for a direct relation between
individualism and anarcho-capitalism. This simply makes no sense, as
neither of them were individualists. If you want to refer to their
relations as indicative of the associations many liberals held with
libertarians in the past and present, or specifically of the
associations between classical liberals and individualists, then by
all means do so, but that is not itself an indication that
anarcho-capitalism drew from individualist ideas and positions, only
that it drew from the ideas and positions of people who associated
with individualists but were not themselves individualists. Surely you
can see the difference? Or should we now claim that Mao was heavily
influenced by Bakunin simply because Bakunin was printed in many of
the same papers as Marx? Again, this line of argument, that these
people frequently associated, does not provide the evidence necessary
to show a the kind of relation between these theories that your quotes
by Rothbard claim (i.e. actual arguments taken by the individual who
first refered to himself as an anarcho-capitalist from the
individualists that cannot be found elsewhere in his close influences
and are representative of individualism itself rather than some
parallel set of theories).

As I say below, this is good reason to see the anti-statist liberal
and the individualist anarchist traditions as being something other
than entirely alien to each other — and not just in that modern
anarcho-capitalists claim to draw on both.

    I don't recall ever claiming that these two traditions were alien,
that would be silly. But then again claiming that they are cousins or
brothers or children is just as silly, a metaphor used to glance past
the actual substance of their relation. If all or even most
individualists universally looked upon the corporations that many
capitalists endorse as wonderful institutions that protect freedom,
and called the same statists who support government protection of
private property restrictions allies, then none of this would be a
problem. But to pretend that no controversy exists here as was
originally done in this article, or to ignore that controversy while
stating things like "anarcho-capitalists draw from individualism in
their theories" and "anarcho-capitalist agree with individualists on
the free market" as it currently does, when the very name
anarcho-capitalism is in question, is simply unacceptable. We need
wikipedia readers to understand that anarcho-capitalists are NOT using
the same terminology when they refer to a free market, and it is a
MISREPRESENTATION to indicate that they both support a free market but
not account for this fact. We need wikipedia readers to know that
anarcho-capitalism does NOT necessarily draw from individualism,
regardless of the merit of the claims themselves, because many
individualists themselves disagree and have good reason for doing so.
These changes are simple and totally in keeping with the neutrality
policy of wikipedia, to inform the readers when a claim is a claim, to
inform them when a word is being used in two different senses, and to
refrain from making claims stated as fact that we back up only with
further claims rather than the actual arguments we refer to. As I've
said before, the first two simply need to be changed, and the third is
still awaiting the evidence necessary to sustain it.

If you think that anarcho-capitalism is strictly the descendent of
anti-state liberalism, without much in the way of significant input
from individualist anarchists, then that simply makes it a sort of
cousin of individualist anarchism rather than a descendent.

    I guess that depends on the emphasis you place on the values each
group held dear and the reasons that certain people (like Spencer and
Herbert) were not in fact anarchists despite being similar in many
ways. If these two theories were such close cousins, then it is
strange that the individualists hated their capitalist cousins so, or
that capitalists tend to be so very hostile toward socialism (of which
the individualists were, by their own accounts, a part). Of course we
can always rely on that old rhetorical standby that when an
individualist said "capitalism" they didn't mean what we do by
capitalism, and when they said "socialism" they didn't mean what we do
by socialism. But it just so happens that what they DID mean by those
words still indicated their rejection of practices essential to what
we mean by capitalism (i.e. capital itself in the form of rent,
interest, and wage), and still indicated their embrace of methods held
in common with what we sometimes refer to as socialism. Regardless,
even if we accept that anarcho-capitalism is a cousin of individualist
anarchism, even if we accept that a metaphor can skip past the very
important differences between these theories, it would not be
appropriate to emphasize this relation as one of only two traditions
it draws from in the very begining of the article. That sounds more
like a parent or a sibling, not some second cousin twice removed. This
would be like claiming in the first paragraph of an article on
Stalinism that it draws from the traditions of Marxism and classical
liberalism. It would be true in a technical sense if we were very
vague and fuzzy about our influences, as Stalinism does requrie both
of those traditions to found its own politic, but it would also be
very misleading in to emphasize classical liberalism right alongside
the far more influential Marxism. Further, I wouldn't doubt that a
large number of liberals would rightly object to any such

And as I've argued here and before, there are several important ways
that such a case falters.

    To my knowledge I've responded to each and every one of those
arguments. - Kev 01/05/04

        Thanks for your long and well-thought responses, Kev. I
apologize that I haven't been able to get to all of them tonight, but
I do have to turn in at some point. I'll hopefully get to some more of
them in the morning. Radgeek 06:02, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Jan 15

I had wanted to wait until Rad finished his responses, but it looks
like that might take awhile so I will go ahead and post my own.

Anarcho-capitalists promote individual property rights and free
markets (in the sense of freedom from violent interference) as the
most just and effective way to organize all services.

    The "free" markets advocated by anarcho-capitalists in fact
supports violent interference in economic relations, that is precisely
what founds institutions like usury, at least in the eyes of
individualists. Given that, this recent change once again makes fuzzy
the distinction between multiple uses of the word "free market" in an
attempt to obscure the fact that "free" in this context really means
"what anarcho-capitalists consider to be free." As such, it is not a
fact that anarcho-capitalists promote free markets in the sense of
freedom from violent interference, that in itself is a claim that
assumes the a-c position. It is a fact that anarcho-capitalists
promote "free" markets in the sense that they do not want their own
methods interfered with violently. It is definately NOT that they will
refrain from interfering in the methods of others with violence, only
that they will attempt to refrain from using violence illegitimate
according to their own peculiar standard of when it is justifiable to
interfere with others and when it is not. The fact that
anarcho-capitalists attempt to define other ideological positions out
of existence by claiming that the violence they legitimate is not
violence because is "self-defense" is something that should be
explicated (in a more neutral way then I have done here), granted, but
not by assuming their position at the outset and using language that
rules out any contrary viewpoint.

Anarcho-capitalists, on the other hand, emphasize the individualists'
critique of collectivist politics, and point out that the
individualists denounced the use of violence to oppose the economic
relationships that they considered exploitative, and emphasized
voluntary, free market approaches (such as boycotts, labor strikes,
and the formation of workers' cooperatives) to achieving social

    Again, this edit glances past the fact that "free market" and
"voluntary" are being used to mean things other than what
individualists used them to mean, and this edit was made long after I
brought this up directly to you Rad. I'm having trouble now believing
that this is not intentional, that it is simply a mistake that the
article currently conflates two different interpretations of a word
and makes it appear that only one is being used to describe this
relation as much closer than it actually is. Or maybe you have a
disagreement and believe that this word is being used in the same
sense in both cases, but you haven't said as much. I have tried to
excercise the utmost restraint of late, only editing one thing at a
time, one day at a time, and always discussing things long before any
edit took place. In the case of my discussions with you I have put my
edits on hold for weeks at a time even while watching you continue to
insert edits that I have objected to previously. But now I find my own
edits summarily deleted -before- discussion, even while edits like
this take place, flying in the face of objections I have repeated over
and over. Until some proportionality is returned to the considerations
being given to my own edits, I'm going to be very tempted to simply
start deleting things like this instead of waiting for further
discussion. Claiming that you don't have time to properly deal with my
edits is a lame excuse. If you have time to delete them, you have time
to account for them first. If not, I don't know why you are bothering
to edit it at all, you are not improving the status of the page by
keeping the status quo when the status quo is flawed.

Rothbard, for example, explicitly credits Tucker (and Spooner, too)
for moving beyond No Treason-style arguments for the individual right
to ignore the State and introducing essential work on the actual
framework of what a free society would look like

    And don't you find it just a tiny bit strange that the very
components which would distinguish an individualist society in the
absence of a state from anti-state liberalist society were removed
from this vision he imported? Or maybe you can point out what part of
the anarcho-individualist tradition Rothbard used to build his own
framework of a future society that was not already present in, and is
still very much a part of, the liberal tradition. Because when I look
at the society Rothbard proposed I find it strangely absent of
interest-free banks, of businesses that do not rely on enforcement
institutions to extract economic profit from its workers, and of
workers free from wage relations, all the very hallmarks of
individualism. Sure, it is one thing to credit another person as
having the vision to go beyond the state, it is an entirely different
thing to use that vision as a framework for ones own ideas. I see the
former in Rothbard's works and words, I see the latter only in his

He endorsed Tucker's conception of "defense associations" (although he
could have gotten the idea just as easily from Molinari's "competing
governments" — it seems to me impossible, not to mention fruitless, to
try to separate out which of the two was the definitive influence on
this issue.

    I can't agree more. That is precisely why I am so confused that
people have insisted on importing such interpretations to this
article, stating the influences side-by-side as though we have already
determined that both are equally worthy of mention and refusing to
include even the smallest of caveats to indicate that individualists
themselves would have good reason to reject that they have provided an
influence when their ideas were stripped of the very components they
repeatedly insisted were essential to them.

I have to confess, Kev, that I am more than a bit puzzled by your
reaction to the quote. Certainly Rothbard's own say-so about his
influence is not as conclusive as a detailed consideration of his
actual citations in his work, etc. But it certainly does seem to me
that when someone says "I was influenced by X when I said Y" that's a
pretty strong prima facie case for accepting that s/he was indeed
influenced by X when s/he said Y.

    I have repeatedly stated that it would be silly to deny that there
was any influence here, that Rothbard in fact did claim such
influences, and that this case is far too ambiguous to deny his claim.
What more is it you want from me before we can move past this constant
attribution to me of a position I do not hold? It is not the existence
of an influence that I am denying, but the degree of it. Simply saying
that anarcho-capitalism is influenced by individualism means nothing
in itself, anarcho-capitalism is influenced by thousands of theories,
events, and individuals that bear little or no direct relation to it.
It is not the fact that there is some relation between
anarcho-capitalism and anarchist individualism which I have been
denying, for there is "some relation" between capitalism and
communism, between Buddhism and Christianity, between ying and yang.
It is the assertion that this relation is "very close," and the many
aspects of this article which suggest or directly state as much, that
seems entirely out of order given that many would view that relation
as more antagonistic than anything else. The fact that Rothbard felt
this influence was prominent, or claimed as much on occasion, is
plently enough evidence for the existence of "some" relation, but it
is not in itself a strong prima facie case for a prominent influence
or essential relation. We have some facts here, what Rothbard
believed, that there was some influence, that individualists of the
past associated with anti-state liberals amongst so many others. Then
we have an interpretation, that Rothbard's belief was correct (this is
currently being implied by the repetition of the evidence that
Rothbard believed it, as though they are one and the same), that the
influence was essential, that the associations between anti-state
liberals and individualists indicates a strong association between
indvidualists and anarcho-capitalists. I find the former set of facts
entirely appropriate for including in this article, I find the latter
set of interpretations entirely inappropriate for determining the
status of individualism in this article as such a major influence as
to be not only justifiably placed side-by-side with classical
liberalism, but even as to rule out any language that would suggest
this not to necessarily be the case.

Thus far I had assumed that your argument was that the early a-c's
simply didn't much care about the individualist anarchists, and that
claims of influence are actually just latter-day revisionism once the
a-c's began discovering parallels between their own ideas and some of
the ideas of Tucker, Spooner, etc. If that was a misunderstanding, I
apologize. Here you say (1) that Rothbard (and a similar case could be
made for other of the early a-c's) certainly did consider himself to
be influenced by the i-a's, but (2) that you don't necessarily believe

    Well I don't necessarily believe him, nor should you. But I've
long since given him the benefit of the doubt, as I would just about
anyone, and the argument you have explicated here is not the one I
have given. I am careful not to let my language assume that Rothbard
was in fact influenced by individualists to the degree he claimed,
because I don't want to confuse the argument and I don't think that
point is particularly relevant to it, but apparently this had the
exact opposite effect that I had desired. Let me be clear. Rothbard
did, by all appearances, consider himself to be influenced by
individualists. As far as I am concerned, someome who considers
themselves to be influenced by a given event pretty much automatically
is, it would be hard to be aware of anything and not be somewhat
influenced by it in the relevant context, especially when one believes
that one is. However, this point is not particularly relevant in our
own determinations (to be distinguished from those of Rothbard) of the
extent to which Rothbard's actual position reflects that of
individualism versus other parallel theories. The presence of
influence is not in itself indicative of the degree of that influence
(above zero point anyway), no matter how many times we repeat the same
bit of evidence that demonstrates some presence. If we should find
that his position is closer to another theory or set of theories than
he described it to be, or even identical to them, then his description
should be viewed as a mistake or as an ambiguous determination, not as
evidence in itself against our findings. No, I don't necessarily
believe him, but neither am I inputing him to be a liar or even to be
mistaken. I am simply remaining open concerning his claims, and
attempting to interpret them with all the data available to me.

If the latter, what exactly does that mean, and how is it different
from the claim that he was influenced by them, but just misunderstood
them on some points which you consider (and which they would have
considered) pretty damned important?

    That is a fairly good way of putting it. Though I would like to
add that I do think some revisionism is occuring in this context.
Today many capitalists are placing an even greater role of influence
on the individualists than even Rothbard himself, or any of the other
early a-c's, would have. What is more, some are clearly attempting to
distort and selectively interpret particular parts of individualist
texts to make them appear closer to a-c then they actually are. I
could give more examples on this than either of us has time to contend
with on this point, but the link to Caplan's FAQ from this page alone
provides numerous examples. What we find today is an entire generation
of capitalists educated at the hands of these revisionists, who don't
even know enough history to know that Tucker was himself an
anti-capitalist, and that is having a direct effect on the content and
direction of this page. Of course this would be a discussion more
appropriate for a forum if you are interested.

I don't disagree with you that something that meets both (A) and (B)
would clearly make the case; but I do wonder why these are the
specific requirements you insist on.

    Precisely because it "clearly" would make the case. A and B would
clearly demonstrate the case, and pretty much all the evidence I have
seen you offer thus far is (by both our standards it seems) is messy
and ambiguous. I've got nothing wrong with a mess in philosophy, often
that is the strongest case that can be built from the available
evidence, and I'm not claiming that there exists evidence to make a
strong case that you have yet to offer. But most of the authors of
this article are very adverse to describing this attribution of
influence as ambiguous at best. It is, to them, clear that
anarcho-capitalism follows in the tradition of anarcho-individualism,
and anything (including hard facts) to the contrary is anathema. Now,
if we are coming at this from the belief that the lines of influence
here are not clear (as we both seem to be), then we must first admit
that much as we might personally prefer one interpretation of these
influences over another, neither is appropriate to be definitively
stated as fact in the article, assuming that any interpretation is
necessary or desirable at all. Thus, if we are going to try to state
definitively that individualism is the essential sort of influence it
is currently portrayed as in this article, without even the necessary
qualifiers to note that this is a claim rather than a fact (a very
controversial claim at that), then we really do need evidence so
incredibly strong and clear as to demonstrate this beyond even the
slightest doubt. It is the fact that there are dissenting opinions
here that calls for this requirement of clear evidence, not murky or
ambiguous evidence that can be (and is) read either way. Now I'm
certainly not claiming that this is the only possible standard of
evidence, I'm sure there are a number of avenues available to make a
clear and unambiguous case that I simply don't have the time or
imagination to think up. But I am claiming that of all the evidence
proposed so far A and B would be the only evidence sufficient to
support the article as it currently exists, and put to rest the many
doubts that have been raised by myself and others over its
presentation. Absent that, most of the qualifiers which have been so
strongly rejected should be thrown straight back in, along with far
more detailed explainations of the ideas presented and the context of
many of the words being used.

    And I want to be clear here. It is not that I think the fact that
these people associated and that Rothbard attributed individualism to
his list of influences is irrelevant to the subject of
anarcho-capitalism. I seem to have given that impression, and that is
simply not the case. A thorough understanding of the subject requires
such knowledge. What I think is irrelevant to this is something more
specific, that is, to changing our conclusions of how close these
ideologies have actually ended up as is evidenced by the real meat and
bones of the arguments we find both parallel and identical. I think
the evidence clearly demonstrates a relation that is antagonistic,
others seem to believe it clearly demonstrates a close to identical
set of theories, insisting there are only one or two minor exceptions
that can easily be cast aside. But both of these beliefs are
interpretations, neither is a statement of fact, and giving Rothbard's
own accounts as though they put to rest this contention once and for
all is inappropriate. Rothbard's statements have little sway here, the
fact that he believed it does not make it the case that individualists
would have believed the same thing, and much more importantly, it does
not make it the case that what he believed was in fact true.

    In summary, I propose A and B as tentatively necessary conditions
because the scope of claims being made here demand strong,
unambiguous, evidence. In the absence of such evidence, and in the
presence of the controversy surrounding many of these claims, I think
a very large round of edits is necessary for this article to move it
back in the direction of neutrality as concerns issues like these.

That's not definitive evidence for any kind of affiliation with them,
of course; he might be looking in as a disinterested scholar (hardly
likely!) or as a somewhat friendly fellow traveler drawing from a
separate but parallel tradition (much more likely).

    Or a crass opportunist who saw the political expediency of
associating his own theories with what would otherwise be one a group
of its greatest intellectual threats, and marginalizing the
individualists themselves at the same time. Far be it from me to claim
that Rothbard was disinterested. If you think there is no evidence for
this interpretation, then please email me in private or we can bring
this to a public forum and I will provide, but as I said before, his
motivations are not an appropriate subject for this conversation. As
such, I don't think either one of us should be exploring them here, or
even be overly concerned with them in this context, as it would cloud
our judgment. We can assume the best or worst motivations we want, it
shouldn't change the relevant arguments.

But it does seem to me to count as some evidence towards the overall
conclusion, and the point is not whether this isolated fact makes the
case or not, but rather how it holds together with the rest of the
points being made.

    I'm not one for leaky bucket philosophy. Admittedly, if there is a
preponderance of strong evidence then the position is held. But if
each and every point is ambiguous, or they are variously ambiguous,
weak, or simply false, then the position itself is ambiguous, weak, or
simply false. I understand that many in philosophy would disagree with
me on this, but I'm happy enough to rest in the company of those who
agree that no matter how many shaky arguments we come up with the
conclusion will still be as shaky as the arguments which constitute
it. Strong evidence provides the support for strong claims. Given all
of this, I simply don't understand how you can count Spooner's belief
in natural rights as evidence toward the "overall conclusion" that
Rothbard followed in the tradition of individualism when you agree
that natural rights are not necessary or universal to individualism,
and in fact Rothbard himself attributed his belief in natural rights
to other sources. At most this would be the kind of correlative
evidence that would only lend to a conclusion if you have something
much more solid to back it up, and if Rothbard didn't explicitly
attribute this belief to other sources. As it is, all I see in support
of this supposed evidence is more evidence of the same type,
conjecture and correlation that claim a far more substantive base than
actually exists. You have made clear since you arrived that indicating
certain claims by a-c's as claims might be technically correct, but it
gives the impression that these statements are false given the way it
can be read. I am saying that in order for us to stray from the
"technically correct" terminology, in order for us to sacrifice
clarity in this case in favor of a kindler and gentler presentation of
a-c we require evidence strong enough to put to rest all the
reasonable objections that deserve to be represented without being
ruled out in the very first sentence. Because in this case a kindler
and gentler description of a-c may very well mean a dubious or even
false description of several other traditions, and that is simply not
acceptable to me. - Kev 01/15/04

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