19 Aug 2012

Reader Mail: Reconciling Anarcho-Capitalism With Christianity

Economics, private law, Religious, Shameless Self-Promotion 162 Comments

Bill Peacock (a fellow Christian) sent me some concerns about my Mises Academy online class on anarcho-capitalism. With permission, I reproduce portions of his email below and offer my reactions. Note that I am offering this post partly as a way just of airing “alternative views” that are well-reasoned; I am not trying to answer every last concern Bill raises below.


I’ve noticed that you are teaching the class on anarcho-capitalism for Mises Academy. I am very interested in what you have to say about this issue as a Christian.

One thing that a lot of Austrian analysis lacks is a Christian/Biblical perspective. Of course, there is much about how the world works that can be clearly understood without a Biblical perspective, as demonstrated by Mises and Rothbard. However, the knowledge of God’s creation of and dominion over the world can lead to even a fuller understanding of the truth about how this world and its people work. As I’ll explain below, I don’t think the anarcho-capitalist perspective fares well when viewed through a Biblical lens.

God gave us government. As Abraham Kuyper stated, “We have gratefully to receive from the hand of God the institution of the state with its magistrates as a means of preservation.” There is something necessary about this provision of government. And not just in our fallen nature as a means of preservation. Man, in both our original and fallen nature, needs to be under authority.

OK, the main thing I am going to say in response to Bill, is that he is here mixing together three terms that should be distinct: government, State, and authority. Bill seems to be using them interchangeably, but I don’t think we should do so.

I definitely agree that a Christian must be “under authority”–obviously the Christian pledges obedience to Christ (though the Christian will admit he fails in that pledge, probably daily). Regular readers may remember that this is why I stopped volunteering the word “anarchist” to describe myself, since I serve King Jesus.

Even atheist libertarians should realize, however, that people need to be “under authority” and to live under a “government” in a certain sense of those terms. By this I mean simply that everybody is biased and cannot be trusted with arbitrary power. Everybody should be subject to the law; that’s a necessary precondition for there to be a “rule of law.”

Yet to say these truths about “human nature” is not to imply the need for a State. In my view, not just Austrian economics and libertarian political philosophy, but just a plain study of Biblical and secular history, show that the State as an institution does a terrible job of implementing the rule of law. Right now there are a few dozen people (mostly in Washington DC) who are using flying robots to blow up people who are thwarting their plans for subjugation of large parts of the globe with a standing army. Say what you will about the anarcho-capitalist society I describe in this lecture, but I don’t think it would have such an outcome. Contrary to the objections of critics, a private legal system would not let the rich and powerful buy their way out of guilty verdicts, just as referees tend to be pretty fair in professional sports, and don’t systematically throw the game to the team with the most money.

Of course, we have the church, under whose authority all Christians stand. But the Biblical model goes farther than the church, and provides government as the institution under whose authority all men stand. It is not clear to me that the “populist” nature of anarcho-capitalism fills this need.

Here I would need Bill to be a little clearer on what he means by “government.” As Bill himself will go on to say below, it seems the Bible pretty clearly opposes what looks like modern forms of government, and recommends something that is a heck of a lot closer to private judges than to the modern nation-State.

So I’d say government is necessary. But I’d also say that government is good, not some necessary evil. God only gives good gifts to His people. So government, as a gift from God, can’t be inherently evil—necessarily or otherwise.

Now, I acknowledge that not all forms of government, or practices by the people in government, qualify for this necessary and good Biblical imprimatur. So what does a good and necessary God-given government look like?

It may not be the form of government we see in 1 Samuel 8 when the people go to Samuel and demand a king. We know that when Samuel went to God with this, God told him that the people already had a King in Him, and that by making this demand, there people had “rejected me from being king over them.” God then told the people, through Samuel, that “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. … He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.”

This hardly sounds like the good and necessary gift from God for which we are seeking. And one might well compare this form of government to executive-style government we have today, be it one headed by a military dictator, king, president, or prime minister. Therefore, it might be that we need to restructure the type of government we have today to reach the Biblical model. But what does it look like?

Well, the people of Israel did have a good, God-given government before Saul was made king. It was a government led by judges, of which Moses was the first and Samuel (or his sons) was the last. Sometimes the judges were elected (Jephthah – Judges 11:6). They were always a deliverer, pointing to back to Moses but also forward to Christ. They were a military leader (Othniel – Judges 3:10). And a civil/criminal magistrate (Deborah – Judges 4:4-5). And I think one could also argue that there was a legislative/lawgiving role of the judges, even though God was truly the chief lawgiver.

So at a bare minimum a good, necessary government is one with a legitimate civil and criminal justice function—I’d include the policing/military role here. And probably also a government with a legitimate legislative function. Though it might not have an executive function such as led to the corruption of the kings.

This is not to say the government without an executive was perfect:

“When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.”

But of course the government was imperfect because the people were imperfect. The marketplace suffers from the same problem, and would continue to do so if relied upon as the organizing principle of society in the form of anarcho-capitalism.

The biblical model of government did have the power of life or death over its citizens, as would the structure arranged under anarcho-capitalism.

That leaves us with the question about whether this government had the power to tax. I have heard some Mises anarcho-capitalists say that the power to tax is one of the two functions that defines government. I am not sure I agree with that. It seems perhaps a convenient definition by which to classify anarcho-capitalist institutions with the power of life and death over people as non-governmental institutions.

It’s really difficult for modern libertarians to talk about the situation facing the ancient Israelites. After all, they all fled Egypt and were literally wandering around the desert, following this guy Moses who apparently was in direct communication with an omnipotent Being who was daily providing them nourishment and would send plagues throughout their ranks if they angered Him too much. So it’s quite difficult to talk about property rights and consent in this framework.

To give an example of what I mean: Nowadays, if someone says, “Hey I am going to work on Sunday because I am an atheist and want to earn some money,” and then I kill him, clearly I have violated property rights. But when the children of Israel killed a guy for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, it’s not as clear cut. For one thing, he knew what the rules were, and I have heard Christians argue that by continuing to follow the group around, everybody had implicitly endorsed them. (Also, it appears at times that the whole community does endorse the covenants with God; it’s just that they are weak and backslide.) And in any event, God literally ordered that outcome, according to the story. Since–if we are taking the Bible as the frame of reference–God created everything, then He owns everything and can do what He wants. As I’ve argued a few times on this blog, no matter how you die, there is a sense in which “God kills you.” So it’s not murder if God has people throw rocks at you, but “natural causes” if you die because your liver breaks down at age 90.

Anyway, it is not clear to me whether this God-given form of government had the power to tax, or whether the judges and the people in war and the administration of justice covered the costs out of their own pockets. So perhaps this God-given government could tax, perhaps it could not. But in any case, I would call it a government with a leader in authority. And would in fact call it good and necessary since God gave it to us. At least until time comes to an end and we live with God as our King and Light in the new heavens and earth.

We see this need for authority in all aspects of society. The family, the church, work, even civic organizations. In large part, as we saw with the judges, the authority role is there to point us to the true authority in our lives, Jesus Christ. Of course, non-Christians wouldn’t see this need. But that doesn’t mean it is not real and isn’t needed. And it certainly is what is called for from a Biblical perspective. So if it is there in all other aspects of our lives, then it should also exist in the most fundamental way in which we organize our society.

I don’t see anarcho-capitalism filling this necessary and good role of authority/leadership. Perhaps it might, and it is really just a different way for people to “elect” their leaders, and a way for people who don’t like “government” to provide a form of government that they can call something else. But it seems to me from what I know of it that anarcho-capitalism is missing this necessary role of leadership and authority that a biblical model of government would encompass.

I don’t know if you’ll address any of this in your class. But this is my interest, and so I wonder what your take on this will be.

Take care,


In conclusion, let me reiterate that some of this is just a terminological dispute. Clearly there are many self-described anarcho-capitalists who are big proponents of the church, the family, civic associations, etc. If I oppose a monopoly on the issuance of judicial rulings and provision of military defense, it’s not because I think these things are useless. Just like, if I want the State to get out of education, it’s not because I am opposed to literacy.

Now in fairness to Bill, there is something of a selection bias going on here. I think in practice a lot of people are attracted to atheism and anarcho-capitalism because by their very personalities they oppose authority in general. They are the type of people who don’t like anybody telling them what to do, whether it’s Obama, the pope, or some invisible guy in the sky. So it’s definitely true that in practice, the “anarcho-capitalist movement” may not recognize that humans need authority in the properly defined sense. I just disagree with Bill that the State is a necessary institution for providing it–or maybe actually we are in agreement, and are just using different definitions.

162 Responses to “Reader Mail: Reconciling Anarcho-Capitalism With Christianity”

  1. Egoist says:

    But it seems to me from what I know of it that anarcho-capitalism is missing this necessary role of leadership and authority that a biblical model of government would encompass.

    I cordially invite Bill to present himself to me as personally acting out this “necessary” theocratic governmental authority. I am rather interested in finding out how strongly he is convinced of his seeming beliefs when applied to practical scenarios.

  2. Bob Roddis says:

    For reasons unclear to me, most libertarians recoil from explaining to religious people that they could easily form a voluntary Rothbardian community which could permit only approved pious people as residents or visitors and protect their children from ever encountering a pop culture thug, MTV, E! or even Bill O’Reilly. Instead, they preach a strange form of libertine worship resulting in religious people voting for Santorum and hating our guts.

  3. Tom E. Snyder says:

    With all due respect, Bob, have you consulted with Gary North for his input? He wrote an economic commentary of all of the Bible that had economic context. He is also well informed in Biblical law.

  4. Peter Surda says:

    It is important to realise that the religion is also subject to the economic calculation problem. God, even if something like that exists, does not act. He does not fit into the human action paradigm. He is not subject to scarcity of resources or imperfect information. The producers of religion are human actors, and need to use scarce resources to satisfy the demand of the consumers. Logically, the producers of religion should be subject to competition and not organised hierarchically, and there should be no restrictions for consumers in choosing producers, or compulsion to choose one of them.

    Even the Austrian School is not hierarchical. Why should the production of religion be?

    • Ken B says:

      Does one tell a virus how it should work?

      • Egoist says:

        Except humans are not viruses, because we are conscious and we choose our ends. Viruses are automatic. They cannot choose.

        Religion is a choice, not a virus. Someone who is religious can choose to not be religious any time they want. You can’t choose a way a virus in this way.

        • K.P. says:

          Oh no, another Free Will cult member.

          • Egoist says:

            Oh no, another “My actions are past causally determined” cult member.

            • K.P. says:

              Exactly, you responded as expected.

              • Egoist says:

                Exactly, you responded as expected.

              • K.P. says:

                Of course I did, that’s the point.

              • Egoist says:

                Well this exchange has been a complete waste of time.

              • rayray says:


              • Egoist says:


                Determinism doesn’t imply practical scientific predictability of human actions.

                Your statement “Exactly, you responded as expected” presumes you’re a superhuman predictor of humans.

        • Silas Barta says:

          At the appropriate levels of abstraction, humans and religions *are* non-trivially modeled as viruses.

          Humans “take over” and “reprogram” the earth to make more of them.

          Religions “take over” and “reprogram” human minds to make more adherents of the religion.

          The fact that they have differences from biological viruses does not change these major similarities.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            I don’t know how I feel about Silas’ analysis, but if it goes against Ken B and Egoist, I like it.

            • Egoist says:

              The enemy of your enemy is your friend, huh? I’ll remember that one, because guaranteed it is going to come back and bite you.

            • Ken B says:

              Ken B implies religion is like a virus. Silas Barta says religion is like a virus.
              Pistols at dawn Silas?

          • Egoist says:

            The following comment may not appear significant, or even coherent, but I think it will help with understanding my position:

            I am not like a virus. A virus is like me.

            I “take over” control of an object, ergo I understand a virus to “take over” things. I “reprogram” a computer, ergo I understand a virus to “reprogram” things.

            But I am not a virus. A virus is not me.

            You used the word “major” and “appropriate” to describe the similarities. Those are value judgments. For I could call those similarities “minor” and “inappropriate”.

            What you say about viruses could be said about anything, really.

            The wind from a tornado can “take over” my house, and “reprogram” the orientation of the wood, bricks and shingles.

            Flood water can “take over” my basement, and “reprogram” my electronics.

            Cars can “take over” a highway, and “reprogram” my weekend road trip.

            And so on.

            I don’t think there is a whole lot there in saying we’re like viruses. Maybe cheesy Matrix scenes has made a trite realization into something seemingly deep and profound?

      • Silas Barta says:

        Yep. You do it like this:

        “Okay, you’re not getting the virulence/morbidity tradeoff right. You see, you kill hosts waaaaay too quickly. You’re supposed to just kinda be dormant for a while, you know, get a commensal relationship going on, spread with everyone the host touches, and so on, until you’re hopeless entwined with a bunch of hosts.

        “Then and ONLY then do you go postal and loot everything in sight until the host is consumed.”

  5. Ken B says:

    Bob, Several stray points

    1. There is no greater champion of the separation of church & state than Roger Williams. And he based many of his arguments on scripture. I recommend the outstanding recent book on him by Barry.

    2. If I hunt down a fleeing employee today I have violated property rights, but with Dred Scot the case is more complex. He knew the rules. We have as much reason to think DS wanted to be part of the society he found himself in as your murdered stick picker. More I’d say, as he really only had a strong objection to one part of it …

    3. It seems there really was no Exodus. This is the conclusion archaelogy and comparative history leads to. Again I will discredit a source in your eyes by mentioning it, The Bible Uneathed, Silberman & Finkelstein. But there are others.

    4. OMG. He’s got to be kidding. I know his is the traditional way of arguing for believers. I know Calvin justified burning people based on ideas about how he thinks ancient Israel worked. I know conformity to the fables in these books has justified every atrocity. So I shouldn’t be surprised.

  6. Daniel Kuehn says:

    If there were drones three and a half thousand years ago, do you think God would have had Joshua use them to conquest Canaan?

    That’s actually an honest question.

    Because Bush – objectionable as he was – actually felt the need to lie to the American people to get his war. Joshua pretty baldly said he just wanted the land.

    And once the goal is established, I don’t see how flying robots are all that different from swords.

    • Ken B says:

      No Daniel, Bush did not want to conquer Iraq, and he did not lie about the war. Even Chirac believed in the weapons of mass destruction. Clinto stated clearly (and wrongly) that Saddam has MWD when he left office. There was group-think, there was bad intel, there was jumping to conclusions. But neither Bush nor Blair lied us into the war.

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        Yet, everyone else was calling bullshit. I remember this whole scenario, because I was in the military at the time, and even I knew it was a bullshit story. Did you even watch Powell’s little show at the UN?

        • Joseph Fetz says:

          Ha! I just remembered that I was traveling on orders during a portion of ‘The Powell Show’. I was in the bar at the airport and I remember the guy next to me saying, “wow, he’s completely full of shit, isn’t he?”. What I am saying is that if one wasn’t completely blinded by nationalism (which was an unfortunate rarity at the time), it was completely fucking obvious that it was a bullshit story. Go back and review some of the speeches and appearances on this subject if you want to see just how blatantly obvious it was.

          • Blackadder says:


            Question: do you think that Bob Murphy was completely blinded by nationalism during the run-up to the Iraq War?

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Joe, don’t worry, Blackadder’s not going to produce a quote of me cheerleading the Iraq invasion. What he’s getting at, is that I wasn’t sure at the time that it was BS. It wasn’t because I was an expert on intel, it was that I assumed there would be hell to pay if the Bush Administration said “this is a slam dunk case, that’s why we need to invade NOW” and then it turned out they were wrong.

              So, now I know better.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Well, Bob. I didn’t know you then, so I really couldn’t answer Blackadder’s question. You’re a smart guy, but even smart people get swept up into the idiocy of things. You’re human.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                I have to admit, at the time I questioned the same thing, though not as much as you. I couldn’t believe that they were really going for it, but I could see that they were going with that crappy story. Looking back now it is so much easier to see how much of a madhouse our country turned into. It was insane. However, I probably paid more attention to the details than you did at the time, because I was in the military and, well, you tend to pay attention to such escalations when you’re in the military.

              • Ken B says:

                @Bob: oddly that’s not so far from my position. I too believed what I was told about WMDs. The difference is, I do not conclude I must have been lied to by that master conspiracist GWBush. The simpler explanation is that Bush and his team screwed up, because they prejudged.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Well, that would fine and all, if it wasn’t for the fact that regime change in Iraq had been planned well in advance, by the same people that were involved in it in 2003.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                The difference is, I do not conclude I must have been lied to by that master conspiracist GWBush. The simpler explanation is that Bush and his team screwed up, because they prejudged.

                This isn’t a matter of “belief”, Ken B. It has been proven that it was a lie. The issue is that the perpetrators are immune from prosecution, which has unfortunately given you the illusion that lies were somehow mistakes instead.

                You’re a sheep Ken.

        • Ken B says:

          Not everyone was calling bullshit Joe. The UN inspectors were carefully neutral in inconclusive. They didn’t find weapons, they didn’t find the required proof of their dismantling.

          Yes I did watch Powell’s show. Trusting the analysts who did the work it seemed an impressive presentation. Knowing now that they shouldn’t have been trusted it it would probably look thin.

          I supported the invasion. I did not do so just because of the WMDs. However I do think that had I known of WMDs I would have wanted to wait longer and try more pressure/assassination rather than invading. (I don’t say it 100% either way. I try to be honest enough to acknowledge I cannot say for sure what I would have done if …)

      • Major_Freedom says:

        How do you know Chirac and Clinton were given honest information?

        Someone lied.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          MF, or, “how do you know Chirac and Clinton weren’t lying too”? I mean, Ken B.’s answer there was pretty funny. He “proved” Bush wasn’t lying, by pointing to two other world leaders, one of whom famously lied with a straight face on national TV.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            It’s also interesting to note that typically one doesn’t become leader of countries like France or the US unless one lies, which means it is reasonable to assume the default that they are lying, until they prove otherwise.

          • Ken B says:

            You’re twisting a bit Bob. My claim is that it was almost universally accepted that SH had WMDs. We do know — 100% know — that he had them in the 80s and at the time of Gulf I. We know he had a UN timetable to destroy them and to prove to inspectors he had destroyed them, and we know he failed in that. SH was hiding something for sure. It turns out he (or his military) was hiding he had no WMDs.

            My claim is that there was group-think and a fixed mindset that precluded a careful consideration of all the possibilities. Citing even Bush’s political opponents or critics on the war *sharing that same assumption* really does bolster my claim that it was just a basic unquestioned assumption.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              You did bring up someone who lied as a premise to support your claim that nobody was lying.

              Clinton is not Bush’s opponent. They are both statists.

      • Gene Callahan says:

        Ken, there definitely was a lie here: Bush said he KNEW Iraq had WMD. That was a lie. At most, he ought to have claimed “I sincerely believe this.”

        Because people like the weapons inspectors, who were actually there and looking around, kept saying it didn’t.

        • Blackadder says:

          Ken, there definitely was a lie here: Bush said he KNEW Iraq had WMD. That was a lie. At most, he ought to have claimed “I sincerely believe this.”

          It would alone be a lie if he knew that he didn’t know, which we can’t know.

          • Ken B says:

            This Gene is exactly my point. The belief that Saddam had WMD, which was true at one point, and false by 2003, was completely ingrained. Even opponents of the war like Chirac accepted the WMD claim.

            Nor was WMD the main stated reason for the invasion. Read Blair’s speech to parliament moving the motion for a cogent summary of the case. The WMD argument persuaded many supporters, and certainly persuaded others on the *timing* of the attack. But it wasn’t the whole, only, or principal stated reason.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Ken B wrote:

              Nor was WMD the main stated reason for the invasion. Read Blair’s speech to parliament moving the motion for a cogent summary of the case. The WMD argument persuaded many supporters, and certainly persuaded others on the *timing* of the attack. But it wasn’t the whole, only, or principal stated reason.

              OK Ken either this is a lie on your part, or you have comprehension deficiencies. Bush’s case for invasion to the American people, was clearly based on the fact that Saddam had WMD and we needed to act quickly to take him out.

              • Ken B says:

                No Bob. The *stated aim* was regime change. [Sometime’s Bob you have to pay attention to what I actually say, not what you want me to have said.] There were several reasons given for that policy. WMD was only one of those reasons. Support for terrorism, threats agaisnt neighbours, treatment of his populace, establishing a toe hold for democracy in the region, and defiance of the agreed terms ending Gulf I, were all reasons and all mattered to some supporters. The URGENCY was justified by citing WMDs as I have agreed.

                Did you notice that distinction? The case for URGENCY was WMDs. The entire case and the war aims were broader.

                The demand made before the invasion was the SH and his sons aroint, not just that the inspectors finish their work. The UN resolutions mentioned more than just WMDs. WMDs may have been the issue you noticed. They were not the only issue discussed, nor the sole justification offered.

                I have already stated that I would not (I think, it was 10 years ago) have supported the invasion had I known there were no WMD. I expect that is pretty typical for those of us who did support the invasion.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              Ken B:

              Nor was WMD the main stated reason for the invasion.


              The main reason was WMDs.


              I remember hearing WMDs CONSTANTLY by Bush and Blair in the run up to the war.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Don’t forget the supposed ties to AQ. The implication being that Iraq was connected to 9/11. Of course, it wasn’t until after we invaded that Bush said that there was no connection, but he acted as if he never gave the impression that there was a connection after months and months of AQ/Iraq this, AQ/Iraq that. .

              • Ken B says:

                Indeed Joseph, an AQ link was proffered as part of the rationale for the invasion. Tha’s an example of what I mean. The case for the invasion was broader than just WMD.

                As you note regime change was discussed earlier. It was in fact official policy under Clinton that they wanted regime change I recall. So, not surprising they had various plans floating about.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                What I see you saying here is, “yeah, they’ll plan on the murder and control of people, but lying is just over the line”. That’s ridiculous.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Also, the AQ/Iraq link was bullshit, as well.

              • Ken B says:

                It was but it was never presented as 100%. I clearly remember debates about it. It was ‘there is a strong possibility’, and there were as I recall some meetings of people. But there was no co-ordinated effort, With terrorists in Israel however there were links.

    • Richie says:

      Something tells me that if Bush had had a ‘D’ next to his last name, DK would be much more forgiving.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        Something tells me you have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • Richie says:

          Oh I think I do.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            OK, every once in a while it’s worth engaging trolls to show what idiots they are.

            I’ve deliberately voted for and publicly supported Democrats who were opposed to the invasion of Iraq over those who were with Bush (at least initially) on the invasion of Iraq. It was a major enough point for me that it decided my choice between Hillary and Obama and it was the reason I didn’t even vote in the presidential election in 2004. And I’ve said publicly many times this was the deciding factor.

            Now, you’ve got three options here:

            1. Find me a Democrat that was with Bush on Iraq that I have been OK with for being with Bush on Iraq.

            2. Concede that you’re wrong, or

            3. Do neither and reinforce to everybody here that you’re a useless troll that has no idea what he’s talking about.

            Option (1.) is impossible and (2.), I fear, is highly unlikely.

            • Richie says:

              I’m a useless troll? Thank you!

            • Major_Freedom says:

              How much have you railed against Obama’s drone strikes?

              Oh that’s right, you’re not.


              “The big change was on foreign policy and the war on terror. That was what we cared about most back in 2008. We shifted focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. We actually started targeting terrorists in Pakistan. This is something Bush got very late, but through two horrendous terms he ignored these goals. Obama got it from the get go and was saying it from the very beginning of the Iraq war. If you’re under the impression that all Obama supporters want an end to the war on terror, you really don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

              Why can Pakistani families be bombed to smithereens? BECAUSE OBAMA HAS A “D” BEHIND HIS NAME.

              And the clincher:

              “But here’s what you have to understand: the reason why we didn’t get exactly what we wanted is because of other politicians that are either (1.) conservatives, (2.) libertarians, or (3.) some linear combination of the first two.”

              DK, you’re about as partisan hackery as a partisan hack can come.

              I like it how you cry “troll!” at the bleedingly obvious.

              Richie’s comment is accurate.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                Hold on MF. First, on the drones – the conversation was never about drones or the war on terror – it was about Iraq. I’ve never been against Bush for prosecuting a war on al Qaeda, and I’ve never been against his use of drones. That isn’t an R or a D thing – I treat Obama and Bush symmetrically on that.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                Second, the conservatives/libertarians/some linear combination of the two thing you quote is me noting that even if Obama hasn’t given me everything I’ve wanted on my center-left wish-list, voting libertarian or Republican isn’t going to make that MORE likely in the future. That’s not partisan. That’s just recognition of what is going to make the achievement of my center-left wishlist most likely.

                If a Republican offered me a chance at good policy I’d vote for him. Same with libertarians. I’ve voted for Republicans in the past and I’m guessing I will in the future.

                If there was a local libertarian to vote for I might, but I only ever see them on presidential votes and I have better presidential options than that.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                Name me one time that I’ve treated two people differently because of their party affiliation.

                You might see me perhaps make a calculated statement like “but then they would get control of the Senate and a Republican Senate would produce worse policy than a Democratic Senate…”. That logic is plausible to me, but not particularly appealing so I don’t think I use it all that much. But give me a Republican and a Democrat that I treat differently on the same issue because of their party affiliation.

              • Ken B says:

                DK:”Name me one time that I’ve treated two people differently because of their party affiliation”

                Bush, Blair. I don’t recall harsh characterizations of Blair with your name on them. But Blair was the firmer more eloquent advocate of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

              • Richie says:

                DK thinks I’m a troll because I believe him to be a partisan hack. If Gore had presented the same evidence Bush had presented, DK would be writing about how this is an important front on the war on terror.

                I base this on your past writings DK. You explain away those things with which you agree politically. If me believing that you would have been easier on Gore than Bush on Iraq if Gore had responded the same way makes me a troll, then fine.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                Ken B – true but I don’t really think or write much of Blair because I don’t know the guy and he doesn’t represent me in any capacity. Perhaps better to think of who I’ve given a pass on the exact same point, not just who I’ve ignored. I can’t think of any. I’ll definitely end up paying more attention to Americans than Brits.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                Richie nothing in my past writing substantiates that claim about Gore. Can you name something? I can’t think of anything.

              • Ken B says:

                FWIW Daniel I don’t see you as rabidly partisan, certainly not by the standards of *this* blog, whose rubric could be “Ron Paul rules, FDR drools.”

                (You’re welcome MF)

              • RPLong says:

                I’m going to give DK a little faint praise here… I don’t think he is genuinely partisan. I think he is unintentionally partisan. I think he genuinely believes he is being “fair to all sides.” He’s not – but he thinks he is, which is basically true of everyone I suppose. That’s why it’s important to state one’s beliefs and biases outright. After all, an unacknowledged oblivion of personal bias is still equally as biased as an honest, open bias.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Ken B:

                I actually knew “rubric” already.

                Too bad.

              • Major_Freedom says:


                Name me one time that I’ve treated two people differently because of their party affiliation.

                Bush and Obama.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                MF – elaborate on that.

                I’m guessing you and I would disagree on whether they’re comparable on a particular question and that’s the root of your confusion.

            • Gene Callahan says:

              What trolls do at this point is disappear.

              • Richie says:

                Or ignore other trolls that call other people mentally retarded.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              DK wrote:

              1. Find me a Democrat that was with Bush on Iraq that I have been OK with for being with Bush on Iraq.

              Why can’t Richie just say “Barack Obama”? That’s what his point was, and you’re acting like he’s making stuff up. He’s saying you were harsher on Bush than you are on Obama, even though the latter is objectively worse in many ways on war and civil liberties than Bush was.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                btw I’m not saying I necessarily agree with the D/R thing, Daniel. I’m just saying your defense of yourself, made no sense to me.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                Wait you’re moving the goal posts here. I supported Obama because he was better than Bush on Iraq. Now you and I differ a lot on the “war in general” thing and on civil liberties and what constitutes being good or bad.

                I have nothing against war per se, so the fact that Obama is willing to wage it doesn’t really matter here.

                Richie is making stuff up. Unless I’m misunderstanding what you’re arguing.

              • RPLong says:

                DK, you have nothing against war per se? You can’t be serious… I thought everyone was against war per se.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                I think we need to be more specific about what “against war per se” means.

                “War” is not automatically an unacceptable thing to me.

                Obviously relative to the universe of all options it is not the preferred one.

                But relative to the universe of available options I think it certainly can be the preferred option.

                I certainly don’t mean I’m indifferent to war or anything like that.

  7. Daniel Kuehn says:

    A thought on this: “. As I’ve argued a few times on this blog, no matter how you die, there is a sense in which “God kills you.” So it’s not murder if God has people throw rocks at you, but “natural causes” if you die because your liver breaks down at age 90.”

    What do you make of claims by people like Bush who said it was the will of God to do what he did?

    Test the spirits, I suppose, but then we get back to Joshua.

    If what Joshua did was really from God, it seems hard to argue that what Bush did clearly wasn’t from God. The communication of God to Bush is at least a first hand account of the conversation. We can’t say that about Moses and Joshua. Whatever Moses did or didn’t write, the account of the conquest was written about a thousand years after the fact, right?

    • Blackadder says:

      What do you make of claims by people like Bush who said it was the will of God to do what he did?

      Did Bush ever say that God had appeared to him and told him to invade Iraq? I must have missed that.

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        It is a second-hand quote, but that is essentially what he said.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        Yes, in June 2003.

        He said God told him to go to war to bring peace to the Middle East, secure Israel, and create a state for the Palestinians.

        It’s not a particularly different charge than the one Joshua received, so I don’t see why anyone who believes that Joshua got those instructions would have a good reason for doubting that Bush did.

        • Blackadder says:


          If you take the biblical narrative at face value then the differences with Bush and Iraq should be obvious. For one thing, it explicitly says that God appeared to him and told him to do it. For another, he is able to perform numerous miracles in furtherance of the goal.

          By contrast, in the case of Bush at best you have a single statement he made in a private conversation with some Palestinian officials after the fact.

          Of course you don’t have to take the biblical narrative at face value, but if you don’t then it’s hard to see what the analogy to Bush would be. If you reject the biblical narrative as unreliable, then what basis do you have for thinking that Joshua even existed, let alone that he invaded ancient Palestine after claiming God told him to do it? Sure, if you rewrite the biblical story of Joshua so that it’s parallel to what Bush did in Iraq, then it’s parallel to what Bush did in Iraq. That’s hardly surprising.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            Blackadder – Bush shortly after the fact seems a lot more reliable than the account of Joshua a thousand years after the fact, doesn’t it? Look I’m fine with playing the reliability game, but if you want to honestly do that there’s not an easy way to accept the account from Joshua but not from Bush.

            re: “Of course you don’t have to take the biblical narrative at face value, but if you don’t then it’s hard to see what the analogy to Bush would be. “

            Well I don’t think we should take any of these claims “at face value” right? Both are claims of a command of God. Both may be accurate. If you’re willing to privilege Joshua’s account it’s not obvious to me why you would exclude Bush’s account particularly because Bush prosecuted his war much more humanely than Joshua did.

            What is it about Bush’s narrative that you find less plausible than the OT narrative?

            I don’t buy this “he said it at a meeting after the fact”.,If that sort of thing raises red flags for you you’re hardly in a position to be defending the Bible.

            Is there anything else Blackadder? Miracles? I’m not clear on why believing a command from God should be contingent on miracles, and I think Jesus is with me on that one.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              DK wrote:

              Is there anything else Blackadder? Miracles? I’m not clear on why believing a command from God should be contingent on miracles, and I think Jesus is with me on that one.

              If you mean, God shouldn’t have to constantly prove Himself before you obey Him, then yes. But if you mean, Jesus never said “You should believe Me because of the miracles I’m performing,” then no. Jesus did say things to that effect.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                I just mean I don’t think why the lack of miracles in Bush’s case makes it less believable. Jesus was certainly of the opinion that people should need miracles to believe they were getting a message from God, although of course he also noted that many people did need such a sign.

                I’m really not clear on what BA thinks Joshua has over Bush. The time delay seems to work in my favor: a couple weeks delay maybe as opposed to a thousand years. At least in Bush’s case the witness to the voice of God was from the horse’s mouth. You can’t say that for Joshua.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                DK wrote:

                I’m really not clear on what BA thinks Joshua has over Bush.

                Well, I am not speaking for BA, but I’ll speak for myself: As a self-described “Bible-believing Christian,” I think the Bible records historical events. Now, I am not going to go to the barricades and say that every last syllable is literally true upon plain reading of the text. But, I really do think there was a guy Jesus who walked on water, fed thousands of people, and–most crucial–came back from the dead after being crucified. If one says those things were just metaphors, then my personal faith would collapse. It’s OK if, say, you can show that the “story about walking on water” was added centuries later, and so is suspect (like Ken B. has brought up, concerning the “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” story), but I’m saying if nothing “miraculous” ever happened, then my faith in its present form collapses. That’s not just a little tweak.

                So, a major part of the Biblical narrative is that God appeared to Moses and gave face-to-face instructions. If I’m calling myself a Bible-believing Christian, then I have to think something very much along those lines really did happen, and, given my value system, I also agree that if God orders you to do something, the right thing to do is obey Him, period.

                This doesn’t translate into someone merely claiming, nowadays, that God ordered him to do something. I guess another way of putting it is: I personally don’t believe in the OT accounts merely because of Joshua’s testimony. The real reason is more like, I first believe in the accounts of Jesus (for lots of reasons that I have shared on this blog before), and Jesus reputedly endorsed the Jewish scriptures.

                But again: We know that Bush’s personal recounting is at least a little bit off, because it sounded like he was predicting imminent peace in the Middle East, and a Palestinian state. So even if God really had been trying to tell him something, clearly Bush garbled the message.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                But presumably you are a Bible believing Christian because you believe Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. You don’t believe Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead because you are a Bible believing Christian.

                That seems like an enormous difference to me. The resurrection as a historical event would give you solid ground to claim the truth of the Christian faith. It does not work the other way around.

                Now you’ve gone into detail in the past about why you think the resurrection is plausible.

                I’m not sure what there is about Joshua’s account that’s more plausible than Bush’s.

                You think the failed prediction of peace is enough? Maybe – but that was less than ten years ago. It could still happen. Ten years from now, after ousting the Iranian mullah’s and Assad in a bloody war lead by Romney, perhaps the Middle East will be conquered for peaceful people of the book.

                It’s only been nine years since Bush had his communique. I doubt Joshua pacified the Promised Land that quickly, did he?

              • Ken B says:

                Daniel I am going to throw up in my own mouth a bit and defnd Bob a little on this point. He is saying there is a ratchet effect. he first believes in Robinson Crusoe. This leads him to faith in Defoe’s book (not a novel, but the truth!). From the reliability of that book he trusts what is said about Friday. So it’s not pure chicken-egg. Bob didn’t just swallow the Bible whole as a pemise, he relies on Jesus for at least a large part of that trust. But once he does trust the bible he feels able to spin out inferences from its contents.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                DK wrote:

                I’m not sure what there is about Joshua’s account that’s more plausible than Bush’s.

                I told you: Jesus, in the gospel accounts, clearly endorses everybody’s understanding of Jewish scriptures. Assuming the gospel accounts are true, then Jesus believed (e.g.) that Jonah really was swallowed by a whale and lived to tell the tale. So prima facie Jesus believed what are called the Mosaic books.

                Jesus never said, “Behold, the day will come when George Bush shall deliver the Promised Land back to Israel.”

        • Bob Murphy says:

          From the article Richie produced:

          Nabil Shaath says: “President Bush said to all of us: ‘I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, “George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.” And I did, and then God would tell me, “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq .” And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, “Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.” And by God I’m gonna do it.'”

          Well, clearly Bush didn’t hear that stuff from God, because then God was wrong about the future. And sorry Gene, God does indeed know the future!

          More generally speaking, I am not taking a harsh line on all this because I have erroneously thought I “knew'” something that was going to happen because of my prayers etc. So I don’t make fun of people when they say “God wants me to do this,” even if it’s something goofy like go on American Idol or whatever.

          Of course, if it’s a leader starting a war, that’s a very tragic mistake.

          So, I think Bush was either lying or mistaken when he said God literally ordered him to invade Iraq etc. I would have to know him better to differentiate between the two possibilities.

          It’s conceivable to me that he’s telling the truth, and that this all fits into God’s plan somehow. After all, whatever happened was consistent with God’s will, so in that sense God “wanted” Bush to invade Iraq, just like He wanted Pharaoh to harden his heart and not let the Israelites go at first. But, I personally doubt that God literally told Bush to invade Iraq.

  8. RPLong says:

    Bob, thank you for expressing a clear delineation between the concepts of “government” and “state.” In this issue, I see an irreconcilable conflict for anarcho-capitalists. If they were to succeed in eliminating “the state,” they would quickly find themselves subject to the whims of a diverse set of “governments.” Anarcho-capitalists believe they would have the ability to “choose” which of these “governments” they would be living under. I disagree. I further think that skepticism around this idea is what makes a lot of those “bleeding heart libertarians” tick. Anarcho-capitalists have solved the “big state” problem, but not the “big government” problem.

    That’s why I will always consider myself a minarchist: Whether we are talking about “the state” or just some imaginary anarcho-capitalist “private sector government,” I am in favor of limiting the power of government to the absolute bare minimum possible.

    • Dan says:

      Wouldn’t limiting a government into following the NAP and Lockean homesteading principles be the absolute bare minimum power possible?

      • RPLong says:

        If your question is theoretical, my answer is, “Yes, perhaps.”

        If your question is meant to conclude that anarcho-capitalism would work, my answer is, “You are merely restating anarcho-capitalism’s claim without demonstrating that it would actually succeed in doing this, and I remain skeptical as to its efficacy in establishing the NAP.”

        I am also far less enamored of the homesteading thing than anarcho-capitalists, so that one doesn’t hold a lot of sway with me.

        • Dan says:

          Yes, it was theoretical. I just don’t see how giving the government the power to break the NAP is limiting their power to the barest power possible.

          • RPLong says:

            My view is that people will break the NAP as a point of fact, whether you “give them” that power or not.

            As such, it’s not a choice between NAP or not NAP, it’s more like, given that people violate the NAP all the time, how are we going to deal with this?

            Anarcho-capitalism’s answer is to establish a diverse array of warring factions that profess to compete on the market for my citizenship. I say that if they are warring factions, then it’s not much of a competition, and not much of a free market, and seems like a lot of chaos that results in pretty much what exists today: a diverse array of warring factions.

            So for me, the question is not whether to “allow” governments to violate the NAP, but rather dealing with the fact that they do and figuring out how to stop them. Calling them “private sector governments” just dodges the issue IMHO.

            • Dan says:

              Ok, thanks for clarifying that for me. I see what your saying now, but I don’t agree with you.

              • Dan says:


  9. joeftansey says:

    “Since–if we are taking the Bible as the frame of reference–God created everything, then He owns everything and can do what He wants.”

    So if I artificially create another human being, and raise him in a 20′ hole in my basement, can I do anything I want to him and still be a libertarian?

    “You can leave any time you want. Just climb out!”

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Joey just so you know, your sarcastic horror at this prospect is exactly Gene Callahan’s take on Rothbard’s views about parents’ “duties” to their infants. I hope you aren’t saying you are legally obligated to lower a rope down to your creation, are you? That’s not in standard libertarian theory, though Gene will give you a high-five if you therefore throw out standard libertarian theory on that score.

      • joeftansey says:

        I don’t think you have any positive duties towards him. That doesn’t mean I can do whatever I want to him.

        There’s also something… unlibertarian… about intentionally creating a person and place such that he will be completely trapped and without any de facto rights since he is on MY property.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          OK Joe so God shouldn’t have made people? To create humans is to be a statist?

          • Bob Murphy says:

            And you’re being wishy washy Joe; man up and face the libertarian music. You say to the guy, “Get off my property if you don’t like the rules. The rules are, in my house, you get punched in the face if you don’t say ‘excuse me’ after passing gas. If you choose to remain in that pit, then you are agreeing to the rules.”

            If you don’t like that outcome–and I don’t blame you for not liking it–then you can make up some ad hoc exceptions to your stated principles on property rights, but be aware that that’s what you’re doing. It’s the same reasoning that non-libertarians use to oppose any other conclusion they find icky, like “prostitution and kidney selling should be legal.” Ewwww, no way! A deductive approach to property rights doesn’t imply that!

            • Gene Callahan says:

              “If you don’t like that outcome–and I don’t blame you for not liking it–then you can make up some ad hoc exceptions to your stated principles on property rights…”

              Or you could just recognize that property rights are not the only rights in the world.

              • Ken B says:


                Stop this Gene! I’m agreeing with you all the time now!

          • joeftansey says:

            “OK Joe so God shouldn’t have made people? To create humans is to be a statist?”

            Maybe unlibertarian. What does non-aggression say about creating new life?

            “If you choose to remain in that pit, then you are agreeing to the rules.””

            He doesn’t choose to remain in the pit. He HAS to remain in the pit, despite his best efforts to get out. Moreover, you have intentionally created this pit with him in it.

            “then you can make up some ad hoc exceptions to your stated principles on property rights, but be aware that that’s what you’re doing”

            I don’t intend to bail on property rights.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              OK Joe. And by the same token, it’s unlibertarian to hire a prostitute. She’s not really choosing that way of life, it’s the unfair capitalist system foisting it on her. If someone else offered her $100,000 to be a secretary, she’d do that instead.

              It’s a difference of degree, not of kind. A straightforward reading of Rothbard says you can intentionally bring a child into the world, then watch him/her starve to death in the playpen. If the baby chooses to crawl out the front door and down to the supermarket, I guess maybe you can’t grab it to stop it–because that would be murder–but you can sure enough just sit there and watch the baby starve. So, how is that so much different from what I’m saying about God creating the material universe itself, and in that sense having the “right” to do whatever the heck He wants?

              • RG says:

                There is some validity to Rothbard’s point. However, if you erect a sound barrier in between the child and other humans or remove the child to a distance out of earshot (even prior to birth), then you would be violating the child’s property rights – akin to suffocation.

                Parents enter into a contract with the child to facilitate existence. That contract and the child’s property rights are violated when a mother evicts.

                A woman reserves the right to eviction if the contract was coerced by the man.

                Risk of death to the woman is not sufficient to relieve the child of his rights.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                RG wrote:

                However, if you erect a sound barrier in between the child and other humans or remove the child to a distance out of earshot (even prior to birth), then you would be violating the child’s property rights – akin to suffocation.

                Really? So let’s say there is a young libertarian couple today, and they want to get out of the US because they listen to Alex Jones. But the young wife is 3 months pregnant. Are you saying they can’t move to Timbuktu until the baby is born, and then…what? They wait till the baby is 5 and ask if he wants to move with them? (Assume that in TImbuktu there will be no one around to hear the baby screaming for help if the parents decide to stop feeding him.)

              • RG says:

                Of course they can move wherever they want. However, if the baby is intentionally delivered away from other humans, then the child’s property rights are being violated.

                The context is witholding food from the child. Rothbard is right to say that a parent has no coercable obligation to care for the child. But, if you remove the child’s ability to communicate with other human beings (who also have not obligation), then you violate the child’s property rights.

            • joeftansey says:

              “OK Joe. And by the same token, it’s unlibertarian to hire a prostitute. She’s not really choosing that way of life, it’s the unfair capitalist system foisting it on her. If someone else offered her $100,000 to be a secretary, she’d do that instead.”

              No. It isn’t unlibertarian to hire her. Her circumstance is the result of a voluntary economy. Birth and creation are not voluntary.

              “A straightforward reading of Rothbard says you can intentionally bring a child into the world, then watch him/her starve to death in the playpen.”

              If you move a living human into your basement trap, that’s aggression. But if you put a baby there, it isn’t? Just because the baby wasn’t “doing anything” beforehand?

              Actually, babies are doing something beforehand. They’re chilling in the womb. So normal eviction rules apply. If I evict you from my property, usually you just get thrown out on the street. It doesn’t pass the sneeze test if I build an elaborate torture pit and “evict” you into it.

              There’s a difference between having the right to evict someone (legitimate property right), and having the right to put them wherever you want (kidnapping).

              “So, how is that so much different from what I’m saying about God creating the material universe itself, and in that sense having the “right” to do whatever the heck He wants?”

              It’s not.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Joe, what if I own the street and everything else, too? Then how do I “evict” you?

                Anyway here is the Rothbard quote.

              • joeftansey says:

                Let’s take the worst case scenario. You own literally everything, and I am paralyzed and cannot move myself.

                You cannot evict me. Eviction is impossible. Your property rights are breached, but I’m not the one doing it. I can’t control myself.

                But you can’t do literally whatever you want to me. I don’t lose rights by unfortunate accident.

                Re the Rothbard quote: I agree completely. But nowhere does Rothbard say it’s okay to birth your child into a torture pit. See my above on “eviction”.

              • Ken B says:

                The Rothbard quote does not make a significant distinction, exigency. If a couple is alone at the cottage when she suddenly gives birth then most of us think that the couple has a responsibility to untangle the umbilical cord if it wraps around the babies neck, or to move it if a snake comes near. That is more than jft’s lack of aggression. The couple might owe the child less if they can give it up for adoption.

                I find this whole property and god analogy strained too. God does not own the world the way I own my car. Human ownership is partly predicated on convention, has limits, and can vary from time to time and palce to place. What god can and cannot do doesn’t specify what property rights must be, and vice-versa.

              • RPLong says:

                Sorry if I’m being dense here, but I don’t understand the purpose of the example we’re using here.

                If the question is, “Is God a libertarian,” then isn’t the answer just simply, “Who knows/Who cares?” Just because someone is both a believer and libertarian doesn’t mean that two beliefs they happen to hold must necessarily be the same belief.

                After all, I believe in libertarianism, and I believe in gravity, although I do not anticipate that physics will some day demonstrate a Unified Field Theory that integrates the teleological truth of Misesian praxeology.

              • joeftansey says:

                Ken B,

                If the parents have to feed or stop the baby from suffocating by accident, this is unlibertarian. You’re saying the parents have a positive duty without contract.

                With respect to god and ownership, he supposedly owns everything because he created it.

                This, I think, is where use-theories of ownership would yield dramatically different interpretations from creation-theories of ownership.

              • RG says:

                Do you have the right to evict me although I have not violated the terms of the lease?

          • Ken B says:

            “OK Joe so God shouldn’t have made people? ”

            Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Ken, Joe is saying that the Christian God, if He existed, is unlibertarian. We are trying to settle that particular point. Right, the whole argument is moot if the Christian God doesn’t exist. You don’t need to point that out every 5 seconds as if you’re adding some revolutionary point.

              • Dan says:

                Objection. Assumes that Ken B thinks his point is revolutionary. He may just be a prick who enjoys derailing your conversations with other people.

              • Ken B says:

                That’s right Dan. Bob is the one defending the right to starve babies, and I’m the prick. Just so we’re clear!

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Of course I’m doing no such thing, Ken. For someone who regularly chastises me for failing to give a charitable interpretation to others’ arguments, this is ironic. But, par for Ken B.’s Golf Course.

              • Dan says:

                Yes, we are clear.

    • Tel says:

      I must say, I believe in property rights but I don’t believe that humans can sell themselves into slavery. That is really saying that I don’t believe the lien of one human ever owning another human should be enforceable.

      Property rights are a good thing up to a point. Where those property rights are improving efficiency, and encouraging the incentive to invest, and ultimately where they make people happier — they are a good thing. Beyond that, they are a bad thing.

      See also, tragedy of the Anti-Commons.

      There is of course a lot of room for argument about where to draw the line.

  10. Jared Lynch says:

    The classical book, “The Kingdom of God Is Within You”, by Leo Tolstoy, is fascinating by describing how it’s pretty much impossible to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and simultaneously believe in any type of coercive human government. I’m still trying to discover what a “true” christian believes or does not believe but he does bring up some valid points to consider.

    • Ethan Hooper says:

      It is truly impossible to believe in Christ Jesus and love His law and support a coercive government system. God’s law is literally the non aggression principle and even has rules that can actually help people to avoid getting the mindset and heart condition that leads people to violate the NAP. God may be king but everything He does for us He leaves for us to freely reject or accept. If you reject you will have to face the consequences, but that was your choice. When God created the world I don’t remeber the state being listed as creation ( state defined as a coercive entity replacing God’s law with their own and using force to make everyone comply regardless of their own ideals.)
      In fact God did not force Eve or Adam to sin nor did Satan. They chose to. Satan tempted they chose Satan handing him power of human morality and leanings. Since dimion of the earth was given to man and man gave his power to satan this created the first submission to the powers of theft coercion and deception. In Biblical times the first man to create anything that resembled the state was Cain, the first human to murder. Interesting the first society that used a state was founded and established by the first murderer.
      Then there is Nimrod who also established the first tyrannical state. He was recorded as a mighty hunter or warrior ( power of coercion). This is the second instance of the state recorded in Biblical history. The name Nimrod literally means ” Rebel who opposes God” and in other shorter translations ” Devil”. This is where the fun begins all of Nimrods descendants were countries and kingdoms. Here are some of them. Cannan, Assyria, The Philistines, kingdoms: Babylon, Ninevah, there are more but they escape my memory.

      So now the origins of the state come from the first murderer. Then the tyrannical state was founded by a man who’s name literally meant devil and rebel who opposes God. Then that man’s descendants were all the evil empires and countries that ever gave the people of Israel trouble and hated them, attacked them, enslaved them, etc. These kingdoms hated Israel God’s people and God’s name, Law, Etc., God’s authority and His government. Does this sound like a creation and the ordinance of God to you, that theologians now violently claim Romans 13 is talking about? Of course it isn’t .

      This does not mean that God is powerless to the rulers of earthly states and kingdoms. His word has shown us that He can raise up and destroy empires for His purpose usually to punish Israel for their disobedience to Him. It does not however mean the state is creation or the ordinance of ?God. As this historical evidence has shown. The states creation is not of God’s goodness, quite the contrary, it is of man’s desire to do evil ever since we decided to listen to satan and eat the fruit trying to make ourselves God. It was theft that was the first sin a violation of God’s property rights.

      So it would make sense that the sin nature of man wants a state and thinks he needs a state to fulfill his desire to steal and use coercion believing he is a god. He then convinces other people that his laws and taxes will save them. So people deny God and His law to follow the desires of a rebel and a thief to make themselves gods when they are actually not becoming gods but slaves to their own sinfulness and the father of theft and murder satan. The cycle always backfires. Satan does not share his power of coercion with anyone. People think they have that power when all they have done is given themselves to Satan to use as his instruments. The state is formed in rebellion to God. I am opposed to the state, but not to government. For government is just simply the rule of law. The rule of law ( economics, free markets) governs common sense and businesses. Morality governs peoples decisions. The driving governing force should be God’s desires in a believers heart soul mind and body. Government without coercion.

  11. RG says:

    The problem with the invisible guy in the sky are the interpreters who are chosen to communicate with said guy. Even worse are the interpretations of interpreters who interpreted from some interpreters who interpreted second hand accounts from some guys that started growing wheat and having a lot of time on their hands.

    I don’t think anarchists bristle toward authority, but toward fraud and violence supporting it.

  12. Ken B says:

    Bob, have I misunderstood you? because I thought you were arguing that in my example there was no obligation to feed the baby. No positive duty absent contract. If that is not your postion I withdraw my dig.
    If you believe no duty absent contract you must believe my couple has the right to starve the baby.

    To jft. Yes that duty is unlibertarian.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Ken, it goes like this:

      ==> The atheist libertarian says, “God is horrendous.”

      ==> I point out that on the libertarian’s own terms, assuming he likes what Murray Rothbard does in Ethics of Liberty, then it’s hard to see how he can object. God owns everything and can do whatever he wants.

      ==> I personally don’t endorse a lot of what Rothbard does in that book. In particular, I think it’s totally fine if a private judge in an an-cap society rules that parents have a legal duty to not let their newborn starve to death in the crib.

      • Ken B says:

        Are you OK with a private judge ruling the reverse? Because then you would still fall within the ambit of my jibe.


        I think, and it’s not just a nit, the atheist libertarian of whom you speak says ‘The christian(muslim)(jewish) god is horrendous.’ This is not a statement about god. It is a statement about other peoples’ opinion of god.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Ken B wrote:

          I think, and it’s not just a nit, the atheist libertarian of whom you speak says ‘The christian(muslim)(jewish) god is horrendous.’ This is not a statement about god. It is a statement about other peoples’ opinion of god.

          And this is part of the problem. Some of us actually believe that God exists. I know that it so inconceivable to a lot of you, that you keep falling into odd statements like the above.

          Suppose John says, “I love Che,” and Mary says, “Che was a killer!” Then John comes back and says, “Well so was George Washington, yet you love him right?” Then Mary says, “My statement wasn’t about Che, it was about your opinion of Che. That’s what’s messed up.”

          Would that make any sense at all?

          • Ken B says:

            But Bob, my point holds even if God exists. Muslims say things about god that you disagree with. They say for instance that Jesus was not god, nor his son, nor was he crucified. When you say “Wait, that’s wrong” what would you think of the rejoinder, “Bob you are disagreeing with god.” You’d probably say, no I am disagreeing with you.

            In our liberatarian case this really does matter. The atheist adduces a contradiction in your statements about god. It is no answer to say “cannot be, god is consistent”. God may well be, but your statements about him need not be. There can be a god and people can hold false ideas about him. You hold *exactly* that position yourself.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Are you OK with a private judge ruling the reverse? Because then you would still fall within the ambit of my jibe.


          Ken B, I think your vocabulary game is in danger of becoming rhodomontade.

          • Ken B says:

            Cute. But if your look back at my comments here and TBQ over the years you will see I use quite a large vocabulary normally and have done so since before our little exchanges began. I don’t write down to my audience. (I even got into a nice little fight once when I misspelt amphiboly. My spelling is iffy.)

            • Major_Freedom says:

              I understand.

              I just wanted to tell you that I am weary that this game of “Your’e welcome MF” is going to eventually turn into eye-rolling ennui.

              I do have a line beyond which the glass is too full.

              There is having a good vocabulary and seamlessly integrating those words into discussions, and then there is the strenuous, going-out-of-your-way habit of using unconventional words when they’re not exactly necessary.

              I like to learn new words, for sure, and speaking for myself I would much rather learn new words more “naturally”, rather than learning new words by listening to someone sounding like an encyclopedia as they describe getting a beer from the fridge. You know what I am saying?

              • Ken B says:

                Yep. But you’re mistaken if you think ambit was for your benefit.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Mistaken? Was that before or after I sent my last post?

                Or was I rather misled? You did add a “(MF?)” to it, so, you know, I hope you can see why I would dare be so bold and assume something was directed at me. If not the word “ambit”, then what?

                Any way, I don’t really want to drag this out, I just wanted to give you a heads up that my appetite does have limits. Or, if you will, I don’t want the vocabulary learning to turn into an overabundance that encourages me to start resisting and disliking it. You know, too much of a good thing can turn the thing bad, and I don’t want vocabulary learning to turn bad. Declining marginal utility type stuff.

              • Ken B says:

                “If not the word “ambit”, then what?”

                The question. Seems clear enough MF. I first predicted you’d thank me for googling a word, and you did. Then you recognized rubric. So I was asking about ambit. Doesn’t mean I picked the word to ask you, means having used the word I saw a chance to ask you. Ambit fit my comment perfectly.

                Since you want, we’ll stop. But I won’t restrain my vocabulary as a result.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                This is like watching a romantic comedy, with all the jokes removed.

              • Ken B says:

                Like those Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis remakes of classic screwball comedies? It’s a fair cop.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                The question.

                The question? Weren’t you asking Murphy that question?

                Since you want, we’ll stop.

                I actually didn’t ask for that. Just a friendly warning is all.

                But I won’t restrain my vocabulary as a result.

                Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not asking you to stop using whatever vocabulary you want. Far from it. Just talking about the game.

  13. Eli says:

    The Israelites begged for a king, to God’s dismay:

    I Samuel 8:4-22
    “4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,

    5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

    6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.

    7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

    8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

    9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

    10 And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.

    11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

    12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

    13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

    14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

    15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

    16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

    17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

    18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.

    19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

    20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

    21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.

    22 And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.”

    And what about Jesus’s doctrine of not resistance to evil? The best laws are made in resistance to evil, while the worst initiate harm upon the good. Read Leo Tolstoy’s What I believe.

  14. Matt Tanous says:

    “Sometimes the judges were elected (Jephthah – Judges 11:6).”

    That literally says the chosen elders – those individuals that fulfilled the role of private arbitrators within each tribe – chose the military commander. As if all the private judges got together and said, “You there! Command a military for us until the crisis is passed!” Seems like a business transaction to me – similar to the insurance companies under anarcho-capitalism hiring a commander for their military forces (to avoid invasion).

  15. Michele Seven says:

    Well Bob, here you go again, stirring the pot.
    A few words from a woman’s perspective: the State requires obedience with a threat of force and is therefore immoral; submission to authority is a voluntary action that is determined by will and one can only submit that which is theirs. Whether arguing from the humanist perspective and paying homage to the neo-cortex, or from the belief in the soul and the intrinsic moral component, if the ability to say “no” and opt-out is not present, the institution demanding allegiance is immoral and even adulterous with its requirement for idolatry.
    I want to submit to Jesus because He is perfect: He’s always just, sincere, maintaining of my best interests, capable, compassionate, and loyal. He’s a stellar man and attracted followers even before they knew He was the Christ. Find me one like that Bob, and I’ll submit to him.
    The rest of you who would give up the fruit of your labor to coerce me into doing anything is an indication of your own lack of leadership skills and therefore certainly not an authority worthy of my submission. And “voting” someone else in who you do think worthy is a cop-out. What are you going to say to God when you stand before Him in judgement, “I didn’t steal from her, rape her, take her children so it’s not my fault!”? If you vote for or pay for it, you are complicit.
    (Nothing like a little emotion injected into the conversation. And for those of you silly people who claim that I am being irrational, I say that a strict adherence to reason is an indication of a non-creative mind.)
    Later Bob! 🙂


    • Bob Murphy says:

      Nice to hear from you, M7!

      • Michele Seven says:

        Now that I am FB-free…email and phone will have to do…along with stalking your pages looking to see what oracle you’re elucidating. 🙂

        • Bob Murphy says:

          I gave up TV. But FB?! The thought at once intrigues and terrifies me.

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            You are an addict, that much I have discerned.

            • Michele Seven says:

              Oh Joseph, I am not sure what your criterion is for determining one’s addiction but I am convinced that FB “addiction” is more a condition of either boredom/lack of challenges in one’s life or a lack of adequate recreational sex. Find Bob a woman and you’ll see him much less on FB.

              (You didn’t think we were going to get through a thread without at least one off-hand mention of the “s” word, did you Bob? Speaking of, Pussy Riot…let’s see an article on those ladies who were just sentenced to 2 years.)

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                I was just playing with Bob a little. He only surfs FB when he’s got work to do, or when his stamina meter is full.

                Bob’s married, by the way.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Joe I am just speaking in generalities, but I think your view of marriage is off.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Ah, yes. How could I have been so foolish. Great choice of a clip, BTW.

          • Michele Seven says:

            You are so slow on the trends babe. Although I do believe there is a TV lurking around here somewhere for the occasional video game or movie, I haven’t had a channel ever…You should see me with a remote in my hands…I can’t even turn it on. Lol

            Without FB, there is much less hostility in my life. 😉

          • Michele Seven says:

            I think I am responding in the wrong place to your comment Bob, but I am laughing so hard at CK that tears are clouding my vision.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Michele officially I joined FB to promote my career. (I blame Tom Woods.) Yes there is a lot of hostility there, as well as naughtiness.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                I would be willing to bet that Tom also gets on you to make videos on youtube. You did for a short time, but I understand, you’ve only got so much time. Plus, it’s kind of a pain, I am sure.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                The reason I stopped was I couldn’t stand 13 people emailing me every video saying, “Bob, you gotta get a mic.” I warned, “If I do that, I will not be posting videos for months.” They persisted. Well, i warned them. I’ve had the new camera and mic sitting in a Best Buy bag next to my desk for about 6 months now.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Well, at least I know that your next video will have awesome sound.


    • Joseph Fetz says:

      I think I like you, M7.

      • Michele Seven says:

        Well I am a likeable sort of gal, except for when I’m not. Peace!

        • Joseph Fetz says:

          Well, you stood your ground in a situation in which most people would just succumb. For that you have my respect.

          • Michele Seven says:

            I am not sure to which situation you refer, but thanks for the compliment. I do try to live my life about reproach.

            • Joseph Fetz says:

              Yes, that should have been the plural form of “situation”. However, I was primarily talking of that situation regarding the IRS 3 years ago. I don’t know how it turned out, but I certainly agree with your complaints in the matter. Did you ever file?

              • Michele Seven says:

                Oh that! No, I’ve never filed. And now there is legislation that goes into effect Jan 2013 that allows for one’s passport to be confiscated if there is a levy of $50K or more. :/ I may have an easier time south of the border with the drug cartels than the US govt.
                My latest thing has been vehicle registration…I don’t register any of my vehicles and that has been a bit of a shit-show here in the “live free or die” state. Funny that I should go to jail for that of all things. Lol
                Civ dis has gotten exhausting though. There are just not enough numbers of people willing to stand and say, “yippee kai yay, mother fucker”…or at least to refuse to not participate in a system of force…

                Like your blog, btw. Peter Schiff vid was funny. Sad, but funny.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Yes, I did see that ordeal with the vehicle registration. Only principled people are ever willing to take a stand regardless of the odds. Unfortunately, there aren’t many principled people nowadays.

                I’m glad that you like the blog. I really should put more time into it, but I get diverted into other stuff. Plus, it is kind of a pain in the butt thinking of new stuff to talk about. However, I do have many plans, I just have to put them into action. As time progresses and I get better at blogging, I think that it will turn out pretty well.

Leave a Reply