From time to time I get letters like this. I thought that it and my very slightly edited response to it (see these markings <<) would be of interest to a more general audience. Hence, this contribution to LewRockwell.com.
Subject: libertarianism question
Before I get to my question, I would like to thank you for all that you have done for the Libertarian/liberty movement.
<< Thanks; you are very kind.
I have watched countless youtube videos of your lectures and interviews and your explanations of libertarianism and Austrian economics are wonderfully concise, informative, and most importantly, easy to understand. Your influence, as well as that of Ron Paul and the numerous contributors to LRC have helped transform me from a flag waving, southern Republican warmonger into a Murray Rothbard, Tom Woods, Walter Block reading, war-hating, peace advocating, State despising, liberty loving, Libertarian with an ever growing itch to spread the word about the timeless message of liberty.
<< I am honored to be placed in the same sentence with Murray Rothbard and Tom Woods, and the other contributors to LRC.
Although I am not quite an anarcho-capitalist yet, I am quickly moving in that direction.
Now that I have sufficiently convinced you that I am just a suck up (I assure you I am not), I will get to my question(s). In a true Libertarian society (as you or Ron Paul would envision one), what would governance look like or would there be governance as we tend to think of it?
<< It depends. Ron is a minimal government libertarian. So, for him, there would indeed be “governance.” Much, much less of it than at present. Read any of his books to see just how little; better yet, read all of them. The government would be a small fraction of what it is now. Much lower taxes, virtually no regulation; the function of this limited government would be to protect persons and property, bring home all the troops, legalize all consenting behavior between adults, obey the Constitution (in its original not bastardized by the Supreme Court present understanding), etc. But I’m a free market anarchist, so there’d be no governance at all in my vision.
To clarify, I understand there would be no central government as there is today, so would everyone be autonomous or would there be smaller regional, local or even neighborhood “governments” that would serve some function? Would it ideally be a country made up of smaller tribe like units that interacted with other groups through trade and other free market principles? Most people view to State and other forms of government as necessary for daily living. I disagree but I am not sure what my response would be were someone to ask what would take the States place were it to be done away with. That is where this question comes from.
<< There would be no governance at even the state or local level, for the free market anarchist such as me. Rather, each individual would be sovereign. Or, if you wish, instead of there being some 250 countries on the planet, there would be some 7 billion of them. Right now, there is no real world government. So the 250 countries are sovereign (in saying this, I ignore the imperialism of the US government). I realize this sounds a bit astounding. Billions of countries with one individual in each of them? Preposterous, most people would say. However, for some very good readings on libertarian anarcho-capitalism, see the following:
Anderson&Hill, Benson1, Benson2,Bibliography, Block1, Block2, Casey, DiLorenzo, Fleischer&Block, Gregory, Guillory&Tinsley, Hasnas, Heinrich, Higgs1, Higgs2, Higgs3, Hoppe1, Hoppe2, Huebert, King, Kinsella, Long, McConkey,Molyneux, MolyneuxBadnarik, Murphy, Rothbard3, Rothbard, Rothbard2, Rothbard4, Ron Paul (paradoxically), Spooner,Stringham, Tannehill, Tinsley, Wenzel
I apologize if I have not made the question very clear. I would do much better asking if it were a face to face question, but alas, I am not close to New Orleans so email has to suffice. I realize I am not the only person asking you questions or making demands on your time so I thank you in advance for any time you take to respond to my inquiry. Have a fantastic weekend and keep up the good work spreading the message of liberty.
<< Thanks for your kind thoughts. Please do contribute financially to the Mises Institute. They made this very correspondence possible.
<< Note to all: I have tried to make my reading list on libertarian anarchism as inclusive as possible. If I have left anything out, as important as what I have included, please e mail me so that I can improve this bibliography.