Philosophy is like lighting a room with cigarettes: not very practical and possibly unhealthy(and it makes you smell bad). It is a bit of a forced statement, but it reflects how I feel after having seen some philosophical discussions. These discussions tend to become quoting contests in which the one who can quote the best or the most wins the contest. And I suck at remembering quotes, that is why I prefer to make them up myself.
I guess that philosophy might have it’s uses, but it can be used to reason the non-existent into existence and that is why it sucks as well. The apologist William Lane Craig gives a showcase example of reasoning a fictitious being into existence. It his god of course, not yours(because only his god can be reasoned into existence). A philosopher isn’t required to give proof, he is just required to string words into sentences that sound okay. It is why religion likes to don the cloak of philosophy, because in philosophy, like in religion, anything can be said and nothing needs to make sense because nobody can agree on what sense is..
Another example is the ‘philosopher’ Stefan Molyneux. He is styled as an anarcho-capitalist or styles himself that way. Molyneux strikes me as a spokesman for the disgruntled members of the lower middle class and those teens who think Ayn Rand’s writings are pearls of wisdom. While the teens might eventually grow out of their fantasies, the disgruntled ones are condemned to perpetual wailing because they have to pay taxes each and every year and everyone knows: paying taxes sucks..
In anarcho-capitalism the state is evil because it amasses wealth and power and gives that to a selected group of people who use it for their own selfish goals. These people are called politicians and they are as dangerous as the Illuminati are and probably in league with them! Therefore the state should be abolished. Those who hold to Ayn Rand’s writings will readily agree because Rand sees the state as parasite limiting progress.. And of course a lot of tax payers agree as well, because they don’t want to pay taxes and without a state you don’t need to pay no taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!
Of course, someone must have asked at one moment: “but who is going to take care of all the stuff that the state does?”
“Like what?” (insert condescending tone).
“Like education, research, exploration of the universe(nasa), firefighting, policing, health care, the furtherance of the common good, protecting the weak, feeding the poor, disaster relief, providing justice, maintaining the infrastructure, settling disputes, sponsoring art, protecting the environment, protecting historical sites, making sure that the coin in your hand is worth something tomorrow and..”
And there is the solution. The free market will arrange everything through the never failing system of supply and demand all perfectly organized and overseen by companies who are, of course, pinnacles of talent promotion and efficiency. And so the people don’t have to pay taxes anymore because the free market will take care of everything that you paid taxes for. So you don’t need to pay taxes anymore cause: paying taxes sucks!
But even the likes of a Molyneux realize that unbridled capitalism might not solve everything and so they start reasoning things into existence. First they come up with voluntary organisations that will regulate the market based on voluntary participation and arbitration. Next they give limitless self healing properties to the free market in which the consumer, well informed through the internet, will punish those companies that fail to meet standards by no longer buying from them. Companies will deliver these services off course against cut-throat prices thanks to the power of the internet and all will be well, so we don’t need to pay taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!
Happiness becomes a commodity and profits and margins become the main principles for making decisions. And if you fall by the wayside because you happen to be too poor to pay for education, too ill to work for your money, too crazy to make sense or just someone who can’t keep up with the rat race: though luck, live is a bitch. I don’t care as long as I don’t have to pay taxes! Cause paying taxes sucks!
“But uh…, what happens if that someone then is going to get a gun and rob you or goes on a killing spree? To get the things through violence? Who is going to prevent him or her from doing so?”
And now Molyneux turns into an advocate of the extreme interpretation of 2nd amendment: everyone gets to have a gun. And he sees firms and organisations of armed people protecting each other, protecting of course, not robbing or blackmailing or racketeering. Not like those gangs do, but benevolent voluntary organisations of the kind that you have never seen in the course of history. Thus society becomes an armed society in which anyone can be shot by anyone, especially when they suck or nobody is watching or they are outgunned a hundred to one. Is that the wild west? Yes.. But who cares… as long as I don’t have to pay taxes. Cause paying taxes sucks!
“But what happens when a foreign country makes use of the now largely disorganized organisation of this country?”
“We have an army of volunteers to protect us against foreign aggression.”
“Just like they had at the start of the American Revolution?”
“Like that army made up of local militias that was unable to defeat the English until it was reformed into the continental army?”
“So why would that work now?”
“Because of the internet.”
“Because the internet makes everything different.”
Of course anarcho-capitalists will play the internet card again and again.
“Who will prevent those abuses that unbridled capitalism caused in the 19th century such as working days of 14 hours or more?”
“What about the abuses that now occur in some countries where some people and even children are treated as no better than slaves?”
“What if a company pollutes a place and pays off people or just moves elsewhere rather than cleaning up or changing their production methods?”
“What if companies form a monopoly?”
Monopolies are a cause for reasoning things into existence. Both Molyneux and Ayn Rand follow two tracks: they attack government and babble. Rand goes on a tangent arguing that it is governments that cause monopolies and she finds ample proof in history. Of course she does. History is full of bad behaving governments(and companies). When however she has to argue how this not will happen with a truly free market economy she has only on thing to offer: trust me on my word. And so does Molyneux. You see, as much as Rand and Molyneux give examples of how monopolies were caused by states or the law, they can not give you any proof that a free market prevents them, because there has never been a free market economy such as they want: one without state interference, and therefore they have no proof to offer. And if they can argue a perfect system into existence based on zero proof then any system, including those that did exist and failed(communism, absolutism and fascism) can be declared to be perfect by downplaying the parts that are not. So just take their word for it because when you do you no longer need to pay taxes. Cause you know….Yeah, you know the drill.
It is funny that the internet actually started out as a government project. Would a company have been able to do it? Let’s have that answered by Neil deGrasse Tyson when he is talking about space exploration. He is asked in his reading about his book on the video: The History and Future of NASA and Space Travel: Neil deGrasse Tyson – Space Chronicles (2012) whether private enterprise could have done it and he answers that private enterprise requires investors who want to see a return of investment that can be quantified. And the frontier of (space) exploration poses unquantifiable dangers to investment and therefore will scare away investors. Exploration has always been something that governments have done and companies come in after to reap the benefits. Nothing wrong with that, but that is the way it has worked and not the other way around. Be sure that anarcho-capitalism will not be a way to the stars: there is no profit in it. But who cares about the stars anyway.. as long as you don’t have to pay taxes.
Would the internet have come about without the state? It might have, but it also very likely it wouldn’t.
There is no perfect system because every system can be abused, twisted and corrupted because every system is a system made by fallible humans, but people want to find this self-healing perfect system(so they don’t have to pay taxes) and the likes of Molyneux cater to that desire by dreaming up perfect systems out of thin air. It is perfect, because it hasn’t existed and thus has not been tarnished by reality. And it will never exist. It is a philosopher’s stone. That is the power of philosophy. It creates things that do not exist: gods or stateless non coercive societies based on market capitalism. And history be damned! For history sucks. Just like paying taxes does.
Did I tell you I was an historian?