Stefan Blankertz

Anarcho-Capitalism. Against violence




Based on Rousseau's theory of a state, Stefan Blankertz develops in these chapters of his book “Anarcho-Capitalism. Against violence” (2015) his own conception of a society depending on free agreement. Different from the anonymously published Democracy with a small d (1962), the capitalistic economy does not serve him only as an analogy, but also as a model for society. The text omits the footnotes and annotations, which are included in the book.

(Christian Rode, Translator)



39. JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU. That a majority rule endangers democracy was already known to the much criticized Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In the Social Contract he said that the question, to be answer by the majority, should not be: « What is the best for us? » but, instead: « What is the Best for the whole. » That is quite consistent. For, if in an election everyone votes for that which is for himself most beneficial, then we have, in the end, merely the situation that whatever is the best for the majority will win over that which is best for the minority. Formally, this is no more legitimate than whatever is best for the minority determines what is best for the majority, as is the case in a dictatorship.

40. However, on two issues Rousseau gives us no practical answers. First: What makes him so sure, that the majority knows the best for all? Second: How do we make sure, that everybody answers to the question of the general public interest?

41. When I say, Rousseau has no convincing answers to this, then this applies only for the formulated part of his theory and to the main stream of Rousseau’s conception. Because he offers a hidden solution. It starts with the formulation that it's a question of contract. A contract not having a positive impact on the benefit of all partners will be dissolved. There cannot be undissolvable contracts, because that would imply slavery. Rousseau himself has to admit that the social contract can apply only to those persons that agreed with it. Furthermore he has to concede that none can consent for another person, therefore not even the parents for their children. To this extent, from the outset the “social contract” applies neither to a complete State territory nor to a permanent State. Rousseau also had to admit that the contract could be rescinded. Because, exactly against the assumption of Thomas Hobbes, any change of the traditional structure of the state would be a backslide to the war of all against all, Rousseau had directed his writings. Rousseau does not assume that within a state there is an “automatism” for the preservation of good intentions, even in a democratic state. Quite the contrary, he writes that also a state with the best kind of constitution tends to degenerate. Therefore he was far removed from the idea of present-day advocates of democratic states, that if the state is once constituted democratically, there would be no right to resistance. Instead, a consistent interpretation of Rousseau would demand that there must be a right to secede from a state.

42. “A right to exit a state“ - this may sound initially radical, utopian, even bizarre. Yet it isn't. Consider, for instance, the current discussions on which responsibilities the European Union has or should be entrusted with. The decisive point of these discussions is not the question of formal decision making in the EU, but about what and whom the Union is allowed to decide, whatever procedure of decision making is used. We could see the EU almost as a “social contract in progress“. As romantic as it is described by Rousseau, with a charismatic legislator at the top, this does not happen. There are hundreds and thousands of bureaucrats “at work”, which would have been strange for Rousseau and would have caused him bad nightmares. But so be it. In the case of the EU, the decision-making process is not merely, and especially not at all, an issue, but the question of who and how much of his power each gives up to the central power. But it is also about the option of a possible secession or exclusion when agreed-upon rules are ignored. It is by no means the case that the EU can claim a "natural“ power of decision-making over a defined territory (reciprocal to the right of withdrawal, there is a right to expel undesired members).

43. Those forces, which presently turn against the further development of the EU and its responsibilities, or even pursue a retreat from the centralization that has occurred, are doing that, in most cases, in the name of national sovereignty and autonomy. The "bad“ news I have for them is this: If you proclaim the principle of the freedom of contract, and with it also that of the possible secession from the EU, which means also the dissolution of a contract, therefore to opt out of the EU, then there is no logical reason any more to limit the right to secession within the nations that founded, joined or will join the EU. In a hundred years the territory of the EU would be so natural or unnatural, depending on your point of view, as the USA or the German Empire, given the stability of its institutions. After the breakup of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia, it became clear that within the constituent nations, which got autonomous again, further regions existed, which are striving for sovereignty autonomy. Often the process of progressing secessions can only be stopped by naked military force.

44. War is not an option. On the topic of secession, the problem of the relationships of the majority to the minority in any historically developed State territory is strikingly clear. Is the majority of the people living in Spain allowed to decide whether the Catalans should belong to it? The war in Bosnia clarified in a tragic way that the secessionist territory can embrace groups of people who don't want to be part of the new constituted state and that for good reasons, irrespective of the formal decision-making structure in that state.

45. While the theories of democracy suppose that the supreme question would be that about the formal structures of decision-making, it has now become clear that the question posed by Rousseau, at least indirectly, namely upon whom decisions should be made, is much more fundamental and has priority over that of Democracy.

46. The first two problem areas of democracy are: the question of “How” [1]. How does a democratic decision affect the individual conscience? With Ernst Jünger (and Thomas Aquinas): The democratic decision can't formally claim more moral validity than a dictatorial one. The individual conscience has to question it and face up to it by making an autonomous judgment on it. Under no circumstances it is possible to delegate that conscience to a majority and no majority can claim that conscience for itself. As to the question of “Who?” [2]. Who may be subjected to a democratic decision? According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The democratic decision may only concern those who have previously agreed to being included in that state. For everyone, who has not agreed, is hit by a democratic decision just like a totalitarian one. If the democratic decision is extended to non-consenting persons, then it strengthens the tendency of democracy towards degeneration.

47. Since the Age of Enlightenment prescribed to the State to legitimize itself reasonably, with rational arguments, we have the central question of political theory, what it should be that the State may decide, and in this, what it would have to decide and what he would have to leave to the citizens to decide at their discretion. Until long into the 19th century, democratic ideas, with their standing up for great personal and economic liberties, formed a team under the term “liberalism”. The liberal answer to the question, in which spheres state power should intervene, or for what the state would be needed at all, is: The State should do nothing more than maintain the conditions for the possibilities of freedom. This minimally invasive concept of the State, later discredited, jokingly as the State of the “night-watchman” (German: “Nachtwächterstaat”), was represented in the different theoretical frameworks of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant , Wilhelm von Humboldt and John Locke. Thomas Jefferson pragmatically summed it in the formula: "As little as possible ..." and, of course, he did not say "state", but only « government".

48. An intellectual infinity, but in time not so long away, consists in what I call the "shame of democracy", the democratic handing over of power to the National Socialists in Germany in 1933. That this transfer of power by the Nazis themselves was stylized to a "seizure of power" or even a "revolution", is a great blessing for the Democrats, who again and again attempt to deny the fact that in 1933 we had a completely normal process of the formation of a coalition government.

49. From the, for all democrats, traumatizing experience of the transfer of power to the Nazis, they drew the conclusion, that a democracy should not abolish itself: The majority should not decide that there should be no more majority decision-making voting. However, with this conclusion, nothing is gained with this prohibition, for the question should really be: who prevents the majority, which wants to abolish democracy, to do so? Who? And also: how can it be prevented, that the majority will abolish democracy?

50. The repressive hardness of the attempt to prevent the majority to abolish democracy strikes insignificant and powerless outsiders. The German Communist Party, which gained in the parliamentary elections of 1953 only a mere 2,2% of the votes, could easily be prohibited in 1956, but not the “Left” in 2007, which in coalition reached even more than 10% in 2009. The NPD, which in the parliamentary election of 2013 gained only about 1,3 % of the votes, could possibly be outlawed but not the “National Front”, which was with 26% the strongest party in France during the 2014 European elections. Perhaps it is relatively easy to make one or the other fundamentalist organization in Germany relatively silent, but not the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. There “undemocratic” means are needed. In countries where Islamists have attained a majority and they want to use the "Sharia" as a legal system, the Western democratic world supports military coups.
In Ataturk's constitution of Turkey it was firmly anchored, since 1928, that there exists a separation of State and religion. However, if the majority, with Erdogan, want to change that, who could prevent them from doing so?

51. The liberal principle that the state should, no matter in what way something is decided, decide as little as possible and leave as much as possible to the arbitrariness of the citizens, becomes mere play dough in the daily political struggle, and becomes stripped of its fundamental meaning. I will illustrate this with two examples, one left, one right. Whoever opposes abortion, but finds himself in the minority, may then, possibly, advocate the position that “abortion is a private matter”, so that, at least, it would no be paid for by statutory health insurance bodies. If, however, there is the chance of a majority for the prohibition of abortion, as happened recently in Spain, then one quickly forgets the “private matter” and a law is favored outlawing abortion. Whoever hopes to nationalize once again private social insurance systems, with the help of a referendum, will organize it. However, when it comes to immigrants and the majorities are distributed differently than one desires, then the same party might declare that one should not allow the mob to decide about it.

52. Such inconsistencies are often the subject of ridicule, sometimes of indignation, however, if we look at them more closely, then they reveal a frightening tendency of the democratic State. Those who advocate a limitation of what the state should decide in the political agenda, they make up a minority; and at best with legal tricks they can slow down a development, but never stop it. The majority is always the one that advocates for more statism and thus more repression. This is the mechanism that Rousseau feared and suspected, and which Ernst Jünger described masterfully: Democracy tends to create a climate of majority despotism, in which there are no limits set to realize the own will forcefully. Liberal democracy always abolishes itself, be it in a spectacular act such as the transfer of power to the Nazis, to Islamic fundamentalists or to anyone else, whomever, whether in a gradual "democratic" process of increasing state activity, with the same moralizing enthusiasm shown by supposed or real neo-Nazis, who pretend that they would have to regulate with how much water we may flush the toilet. Liberal democracy is no alternative to totalitarian democracy, not only because it has no mechanism to limit the What-Question [3] to a minimum, that is the question of what should the state decide, but also because it develops a diabolical mechanism, by which the “what” is constantly being expanded, by whatever the state believes to be allowed to make rules, or thinks he must have to make rules.

53. CAPITALISM. As the real alternative to totalitarian democracy, we find in the economic system, which was long combined with democracy, but which is today more and more seen as its opposite, the market or capitalism. Capitalism is undemocratic as it does not allow a mass of human beings, by chance living in a certain territory, to make decisions. Capitalism rejects any arbitrary disposition by majorities and leaves the decision to the arbitrary private actions. In a political climate in which the private actions, the private freedom and autonomy is stigmatized, capitalism is regarded as “undemocratic”. In reality, the principles of capitalism realize much more directly what Democracy has always written on its flags: freedom, peace, self-determination, prosperity. These principles are: voluntariness, cooperation and competition.

54. With the principle of "voluntariness" capitalism gives precise information about the Whom-question: [to 2] Who is affected by a decision? The capitalist answer: just those who agree. For example, if BMW decides to change a model, no-one is affected but those who buy a BMW model. Whoever does not agree with the decision can buy another car, none at all, or, on the second-hand car market, an old model that he likes better. Moreover, there are only those people working at BMW from the director CEO to the warehouseman, who do also want to work there, too. From the principles of voluntariness and cooperation results competition. Everyone can decide between the different possibilities, so that the different offers compete to be taken into consideration. Voluntariness, cooperation and competition form a necessary connection. If I take away the competition, then voluntariness disappears also. That is the whole of difference to the state: the cooperation in the state is enforced; under the condition of democracy competition takes place but only during the decision making process. Its result has then to be accepted, which is otherwise under capitalism. Capitalism offers also a different answer concerning the How-Question [2] than the democracy offers: I have the option, after a decision has been made, to consent to a further cooperation or not. It concerns me not as a command but as an offer.

55. If we shift attention from the economy to social life, we can quickly see that the same principles are naturally realized. In family, friendship and acquaintance circles there are only rarely formal votes. The influence of each member is different, but if someone is constantly displeased by the collectively made decisions, then he turns away. The Swiss psychologist of human development Jean Piaget has described these procedures in the games of children and explained them as the source for the development of an autonomous moral judgment. If push comes to shove, I can even turn away from the family, even if it hurts. Nobody says that freedom is free of cost or painless. Conversely, the family may expel a single “black sheep” in case of a serious misconduct.

56. With the increasing number of members and complexity of a group, the formalized decision-making processes become more important. However, if the club of rabbit breeders, in a free and democratic election, should choose someone as the chairman, whose looks I don't like at all, then I can, as a last resort, secede from it. Or if the Pope once again published an Encyclical in which he denounces capitalism, I can think about leaving the Catholic Church. These examples I have chosen intentionally, for they show that, under the condition of voluntariness, the procedure for decision-making, which plays the most important role for democrats, receives a subordinate role. Voluntariness provided, groups, organizations or institutions may be constituted democratically or in an authoritarian way, without this being a problem of political ethics.

57. ANARCHISMUS. The kind of Capitalism, which comes to social self-awareness, is not limited to an economic system, but sees itself as a model of society, is called "Anarcho-Capitalism". Anarcho-Capitalism expresses the idea, that all social relations should be drawn up in accordance with the standards of voluntariness, cooperation and competition. In the current political climate this ideal may sound radical or utopian. However, considering that here we have the natural constitution of societies, with thousands of years of experimentation behind it, and that it created the foundation for the prosperity of all, the concept of Anarcho-Capitalism is not utopian at all but down to earth. Anarcho Capitalism responds to the three worked out problem areas of democracy:

The question “How” [1]: How does a decision concern individuals? In contrast to the State, it affects me not as a command but as an offer. The freedom of the individual conscience remains preserved.

The question “Who” [2]: Who is affected by the decision? Otherwise than in the State, the decision relates only to the consenting persons. A group, which took the decisions (even if in a democratic way) which I cannot support, I may leave. A right to exit, or to secede.

The question “What” [3]: What may be decided? Within the framework of voluntariness: everything; but outside of this: nothing. Compared with this, the forms of decision-making process become unimportant.

58. [To 3] With the what-question, we are not yet finished. Although I have so far solved the problem of legitimacy that plagues democracy, I have not proven the possibility that Anarcho-Capitalism is practicable. The liberal thinkers notified, as already mentioned, a core set of tasks, which should be regulated coercively. In this sphere they saw democratic decision-making process as more just than the authoritarian one. The original canon of classical liberals, which was put in the position of the mere night watchman state, they have supplemented since then by many other tasks for which, in our time, only a few think it possible that they can be privatized again.

59. Given the increase in the allegedly necessary state functions, the common view, that is often repeated unchecked, ascribes this to the increasing complexity of life in general and to the economy in particulars. The standard view does not hold up to a review of history. The structure of the take-over of further statist "services" always follows the same logic: in a new development a particular interest shall be promoted by manipulative state intervention; furthermore, whole areas of private actions are regulated or completely occupied and taken into the hands of the state. When, for example, the railways emerged – the condition for this was, of course, capitalism – it happened occasionally that fields were set on fire by sparks. In the US it was clear from the practiced customary law, that the operators of the railways have to pay for the damage. This would also correspond to the timeless, general historical and overall cultural sense of justice. To safeguard against such damage claims, the railway companies should have had to buy sufficient land around their rails. A state law now turned around the responsibility, so that the farmers had to leave the nearby fields to the railway lines.

60. Another example from the Industrial Revolution: As the cultural techniques of reading, writing and arithmetic got important for the work process and the opportunities for advancement, in the industrial centers, learning programs emerged, which reached a fine literacy rate in England and the United States, in Prussia probably too, one that was overtaken by the then nationalized schools only later on. The nationalization was not to compensate for a deficit arisen on a market, but to enforce contents and methods against the wishes of those so subjected.

61. It is also not true that spheres which were once nationalized could not become privatized again. I remember that my father, a liberal social democrat (they existed then, in the 1970s), could not imagine privatizing telephones. At least he expected that the proverbial grandmother in the country, which would call in her loneliness her grandchildren, living far away, would then be confronted by explosively growing fees. Only the big capitalists would benefit from lower charges. That was just the time in which the German Post threatened persons with imprisonment, who bought the touch-key phones in the US and joined them up. Whatever were the faults in the privatization of Telekom, none of (at that time) attested horror scenarios, has actually occurred. There was neither a technical nor a social disaster. As far as I know, no one misses the good old days of grey dial-telephones.

62. WAR IS NO OPTION - Whether postal services, education or justice, whether also roads and police, nothing was invented by the state, democratic or autocratic. Everything it did, it has taken away from the freely acting people, expropriated and transformed into an instrument of power and domination, an instrument to court and grant privileges to a preferred group against other people. Everything can be privatized, because everything was once private.

[To 3] There is one exception and that is the war. War establishes the state, the state cultivated it, the democratic state democratically “perfected” it. War is the food of the state. War is not meant any armed conflict between people, but the struggle for the expansion or at least the maintenance of arbitrarily imposed territorial unity by means of coercion, to collect imposed levies, called “taxes “, and, if necessary, with conscripted combatants. This also characterize war, that in it rights are not recognized and enforced. As one criterion amongst three for a just war, Thomas Aquinas stated that non-combatants are not harmed. In the wars of the historical known states this condition cannot be fulfilled.


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