If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
On the topic of libertarian punishment, I have pretty much dropped my back-and-forth with Wenzel for a couple of weeks or so. If it wasn’t obvious, his views on this struck me rather deeply. Suggesting that it is acceptable within libertarian theory for a property owner to shoot a child for stealing an apple makes a mockery of the non-aggression principle. My passion in my earlier responses reflects my passion for the beauty of the NAP.
Whatever he has written on the topic in the intervening time, I have pretty much ignored. But today he offers a real whopper. After describing what can only be described as a dysfunctional and dangerous inner-city neighborhood, Wenzel offers this:
Government security is a myth. You take care of yourself, move away from danger and that is about it. Anyone that thinks government or "governance" would stop what is going on at the Melrose Houses, and places like it, is denying reality.
Go ahead, governance people, go to the Melrose Houses and put "governance" "community culture," whatever, in place, show me how that works.
This is an incomprehensible statement. First of all, he seems to offer as interchangeable the terms government and governance. I won’t bother going into it again here – anyone who wants to understand my meaning already has by now.
Further, there is a “community culture” at the Melrose Houses. It certainly is not a culture conducive to achieving, let alone maintaining, a libertarian order. There is little voluntary governance (family, church, community institutions of various sorts, etc.) – at least not of the peaceful type.
This example only makes my point. Do you want a libertarian society? There must be some common culture conducive to non-aggression; there must be governance. Of course, to be considered “libertarian,” it must be accepted and conformed to voluntarily (but don’t expect perfection or unlimited choices, as Ryan McMaken wonderfully explains).
Try this, slightly modifying Bob’s challenge:
Go ahead, private property society people, go to the Melrose Houses and put your private property society or whatever, in place, show me how that works.
It won’t work, and this is the point. Wenzel doesn’t even realize that his “private property society” requires both governance and a common culture. I am not going to bother to search for the exact quote, but he has offered that his PPS is a society where people generally respect private property.
Get that? The people generally respect private property…. Is this not a common culture?
More basic: for a society where the people generally respect private property…
…is there some common understanding of “property” and where mine ends and yours begins?
…is there some means to document this?
…is there some means to adjudicate disagreements?
…is there some means to deal with those who choose to remain outside of a system of adjudication?
…do the same questions apply to the aggression towards persons?
In any libertarian society that hopes to survive, the answers will certainly be yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.
What is all of this but governance?
There are three kinds of men:
The ones that learn by reading.
The few who learn by observation.
The rest of them have to touch an electric fence.
- Will Rogers
Bob, let go of the fence.
NB: slightly modified since original posting
I guess I could have skipped writing this post, as I now see the first comment at Wenzel’s site, by Perry Mason. Unfortunately, Wenzel’s reply makes clear that he doesn’t get Perry’s point.