In the comments of my lighthearted post about Gene Callahan’s Poconos gulag, K.P. wrote: “At least maybe claims of libertarian society being utopian will cease now.”
Unfortunately, I don’t know whether K.P. is just being a wiseguy along with me, or he is really putting his foot down and hoping that Rothbardians, going forward, stop pretending that their society will be a utopia. In any event, just to be clear, no scholarly Rothbardian (or Rothbard himself for that matter) ever did claim as such. Regarding private, gated communities, for example, I don’t deny that there will be rules and that some residents occasionally may chafe against them. But I don’t expect there will be squads of private security agents banging down Gene’s door at 2am and shooting him, because they received a tip that he was growing plants that the HOA had forbidden. Yet that sort of thing happens a lot in the United States at the hands of government police. Or, Gene says the head of the private community acts like a politician because he says his door is always open. OK, if the guy is caught lying about half the stuff he says he’s going to do, and he keeps his post even though the residents catch him embezzling their pool fees, then that’s a closer match. But in such a case, I’m guessing the guy would lose his position.
I’m not even making this up for purposes of irony; my favorite, succinct expression of the standard an-cap point was from this clever writer back in 2002:
The free market is not a panacea. It does not eliminate old age, and it won’t guarantee you a date for Saturday night. Private enterprise is fully capable of awful screw-ups. But both theory and practice indicate that its screw-ups are less pervasive and more easily corrected than those of government enterprises, including regulatory ones.