The Zero State Solution – The Libertarian Answer to the “Arab/Israeli” Conflict

In this post I will try to give the libertarian answer to a problem that has been nagging at all of us incessantly. The answer will probably shock you, so be prepared. There’s a problem. There’s this thing called the Jewish democratic State. It needs a majority of Jewish persons in it in order to maintain its Jewish character. There are these Arabs in territories that the military of this Jewish State governs. If those territories are annexed as officially part of this Jewish State, then Jewish persons will no longer be the majority in the State.

Here are the general solutions offered by the major political forces in Israel:

  1. The Extreme Left Wing – Annex everything and give citizenship rights to everyone. Forget about a Jewish majority. Arabs are awesome.
  2. The Left Wing – Give the Arabs their own State so you won’t have to give them voting rights, thereby maintaining the Jewish majority.
  3. The Center – Don’t do anything. Just keep staying in power and hope nobody notices.
  4. The Right Wing – Annex everything, give human rights but no citizenship rights to any of the Arabs, and instead pay them to leave, thereby maintaining the Jewish majority.
  5. The Extreme Right Wing – Annex everything and kick all the Arabs out of the country. Jews are awesome.

As a libertarian, I say all these solutions are wrong, and all of them are immoral to some extent because all of them assume that citizenship rights are a good thing. They are not. Why? Because as a citizen of the State of Israel, I am forced to use State-controlled money that loses value every day instead of being allowed to use gold or silver. I am forced to pay the government money for services I do not want. I am forced to use government controlled banks that only carry 10% of the money I put in them because the government gives them special privileges. I am forced to send my child to state prison every day until my child is 18, to be indoctrinated with whatever the State Education Minister wants his employees to indoctrinate her with. Usually, these employees are not skilled enough to indoctrinate, so they just end up babysitting at best. If I don’t send my children to these school-prisons, I myself will go to prison. I am forced to pay for these school-prisons in payroll taxes and excise taxes and value added taxes. I am forced to pay 8 shekels a liter for gasoline (roughly $8.25 a gallon), more than half of which goes directly to the State in taxes, to pay for roads that are constantly backed up every single day. I am forced to pay property taxes even if I’m only renting. Worst of all, I am forced, as a citizen of Israel, to risk my very life for 3 years in an inefficient boondoggle of an army as a slave with virtually no pay. The list goes on and on and on.

In return for being robbed and having my children imprisoned and being forced into an army, I get the “right of return” as a Jew, which simply guarantees me the ability to move here without being kicked out or killed by the State. Essentially, the Jewish State guarantees me that, if I am about to be killed by a different State, I can go to the Jewish one and they promise not to kill me on purpose because I’m Jewish (though I may get killed in army service for the State). They won’t kill me, they will only enslave me and my children.

But, people will say, if I don’t like something about the State, I have a right to vote. Voting, essentially, is the right to have a tiny meaningless say about who will get a piece of my stolen money that will first be filtered through bureaucratic systems of government workers who will consume most of the money before it gets to anyone else. This is what makes every sector in Israel hate every other sector in Israel. The State, which pits everyone against everyone else and makes people hate each other for directing their stolen money somewhere else. Think Haredi public schools, Government stipends, Leftist public universities, army exemptions, funding for “settlements”.

Citizenship rights are not rights. They are liabilities, peppered with a tiny ray of hope that never materializes called “voting”. It reminds me of that line from The Hunger Games where Donald Sutherland explains why the Hunger Games take place. Why take one tribute from each district and make them all battle to the death, winner take all? Why not just kill them all? Because in order to control and enslave people, you have to give them hope. The hope that they will win the battle. Otherwise they will revolt. In statist terms, the hope that their vote will change something. Otherwise, there will probably be a revolution.

Being a citizen of a State means you will be stolen from and enslaved. So, the libertarian solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict is not to either grant citizenship or not grant citizenship to Arabs. It is to abolish citizenship itself for everyone.

Wouldn’t that lead to total anarchy? No. For readers that simply don’t believe this, I suggest Murray Rothbard’s book For a New Liberty. You can listen to it in full online for free here. It is not something I can deal with in one article. But here are a few key issues:

First of all, generally speaking, Israel  in the period of the Shoftim was basically a stateless libertarian society. So there is precedent, and it was the most peaceful period of Jewish history counting the number of years between skirmishes.

What about the right of return? The answer is, without a state, bringing Jews back to Israel will be a matter of private funding. If Jews want to come, they can come, just as before. No restrictions. Nothing changes.

What about keeping Arabs out, or other potential threats from flooding the country? It becomes a bidding war. If it is really important to keep Arabs or anyone else out, then the Jewish people themselves will be responsible for keeping private land in Jewish hands. (An interesting factoid is that almost all of the land sales to non-Jewish hands are through the Israeli Government itself, not private Jews. Surprise surprise.) Those that sell to Arabs can be voluntarily boycotted and expelled from the economy if people think it’s important to do that. Arabs that are here can be voluntarily bought out by rich Jewish interests, and there are plenty that would pay. It’s a question of who wants the land more and who can be bought out – the Jews or the Arabs?

If no one is a “citizen” of Israel, then every question – army, courts, land, roads, healthcare, immigration, emigration – becomes a question of whether you trust the Jewish people can voluntarily organize themselves through the free market to keep the nation together in their homeland or not.

In a free Israel, I would be proud to serve in the army voluntarily. It could be funded by voluntary contributions instead of taxes. The Jewish people could devise a system where those who pay get special card. The card could be required by private businesses who will only sell to people who contribute to national defense. Those who don’t would be forced into a corner and concentrated together geographically, as they would be expelled from all other local economies by private businesses refusing to do business with them.

In a free Israel, all roads would be private. They would be more expensive during rush hour and cheaper at other times, spreading out traffic by the price system and keeping things moving. This would also bring down the price of gas drastically.

In a free Israel, holy sites like the Kotel and Temple Mount would be privatized. People would pay a gram of silver (shekel is State money, there wouldn’t be any) to get in, and the owner would insure the policy that would make him the most money, such as special hours for Women at the Wall time, special hours for traditionalists etc., all parsed by supply and demand. The owner of the Temple Mount, whether all of Am Yisrael via shares of stock, or a single private owner or corporation, would decide whether he would allow Jews to pray there or not. He would probably allow it. He would be responsible for private security of the Mount.

There would be police companies hired by groups of people by geographic location. Haifa would have one police company. Jerusalem another. Those who did not pay the police bill would end up paying it anyway if they called the police for whatever reason, who would then charge them for services on the fly at a premium for not having a subscription. They would function as an insurance company.

The courts would be private people with reputations for being fair and fast. The fairest and fastest ones would be called upon the most and make the most money for judging the most cases. Say someone breaks into your house and steals your TV. You call the police company to investigate. They find the suspect and force him into a court of any judge both parties accept. If it turns out he is the culprit, the police did not violate the rights of an innocent person, and part of the cost of the police is paid by the culprit, as well as the salary of the judge. If the police got the wrong man, they are fined by the court for violating the rights of an innocent person.

The only law of the land would be, “Do not violate the person or property of any human being.” The job of any private court would be to apply that law to any and every case at hand.

Armed police or army cannot conquer the area and enslave other Jews because everyone is free to be armed individually.

Is this really possible? I believe it is. All the other annoying unsolvable questions melt away if you believe in freedom. We have plenty of money, plenty of will, and plenty of ingenuity. We don’t need a State to babysit us or imprison us or steal our money and pretend to solve problems we can solve ourselves.

God did not take us out of Egypt to be enslaved to a State. Am Yisrael Chai. Not Medinat Yisrael Chai.


30 thoughts on “The Zero State Solution – The Libertarian Answer to the “Arab/Israeli” Conflict

  1. Who will save the non-aggression principle ?
    What will prevent the rich from looking after themselves only ?
    What will prevent the court from being greedy and care only for the money holders ?

  2. This is not quite the same zero-state solution as is currently on wiki…
    So. Although I am not sold on this idea, I would like to make some suggestions. One would be that am yisrael will never allow national sites like the kotel and har habayit to belong to a private individual. if they would, it would eventually fall into the hands of someone who doesn’t care about money as much as he does about excluding some group. a civil war would result. furthermore, you claim the owner will choose whichever policy gets him the most money. in the best case scenario, i.e. where the owner actually thinks like that, you would have capitalist democracy, with all the issues democracy entails – the biggest group will set the policy according to which groups they want excluded. this is not a desirable situation. so if there is to be no state, national sites would have to grant free access and be upkept by volunteers and/or donations.

    The thing about a volunteer army needs to be updated based on your newer policy.

    it seems your court system needs more work. how could you get two people to agree on a judge? especially if one of them is a crook, he won’t be interested in the fairest judge… and how on earth would the court be able to fine a policeman?

    • Private businesses don’t discriminate unless there’s a law that they must discriminate. They want business from everybody. Supermarkets don’t discriminate against Ethiopians. Opticians don’t only sell glasses to Ashkenazis. Shoe stores, all private, do not refuse to sell to Russians. That would be insane. The policy in the private economy is you please all consumers so they give you money. That’s it. That’s the policy.

      Courts and police companies would be part of an overall insurance company that would strive to hire the best judge and policeman contractors. The insurance companies would compete. If two people have two different insurance companies involved in a case, then like any case where two companies collaborate on say a pharmaceutical drug development with licensing agreements, they can do so here. The court can fine a policeman for making a false arrest easily. If he’s innocent the policeman gets a paycut.

      • Your belief about private businesses is not true. A test case would be a private real estate business not selling land to an enemy country for military purposes. This may sound extreme, but areas of national significance can become extreme sometimes…

  3. I’m a bit confused here – it sounds an awful lot like a big fat power hungry capitalists dream. If you have money (sorry, silver or gold – which by the way does not have a set value and is also dependent on certain markets fluctuating and so forth) buy whatever you want, run it how you like. And if you don’t have money, well sorry for you. so the land goes to the higher bidder? Sounds like you are relying heavily on the stereotype of all Jews having money.

    • Hi TJ –

      In terms of being a big fat power hungry capitalist, I am not big, nor fat, nor power hungry. Though I am a capitalist. I am freedom hungry. I would consider those willing to use government force to extract money from people, as I assume you support, a lot more power hungry than I am, though certainly not capitalist.

      Nothing on earth has a “set value”. The prices of goods and services always change constantly depending on supply and demand schedules of all economic actors. If you are trying to make the case that gold and silver are less stable in terms of purchasing power than Federal Reserve bank notes or British pounds sterling, you are mistaken. The value of the dollar and the pound and all government forced paper money continually deteriorates, and definitely does not have a “set value”. The values of gold and silver in terms of what they can buy per ounce are much more stable.

      Sometimes people don’t have a lot of money. That does not give them the right to steal from those that do. Your statement “if you don’t have money, well sorry for you” implies that you would rather use force to extract it for your own purposes. The land does not necessarily have to go to the highest bidder. It has to go to whoever the owner of it wants to sell it to.

      I don’t rely on any stereotypes. I rely on morality.

  4. Great article and the first time that I have ever seen someone in Israel write such an article. You are a very brave man sir. That being said, The inherent hypocrisy surrounding a “jewish” state is that you need force in order to enforce “judaism” upon everybody else. Lets say that didn’t exist? Israel would just likely be another nation only that it has a lot of jews in it.

    However, it seems as if that Israel currently doesn’t seem to be any better than that of most European states, just a European state with some Jewish flavor. With that in mind, would it just be simpler to just say that if we want a jewish state, that we should just buy all of the land owned by the US bureau of land management and just create a jewish land out of that? You just can’t force the moshiach to come. In fact is wishing the moshiach help redeem us just another utopian concept? Since utopia cannot work, is it possible that all of the criteria mentioned for the moshiach to come just hypothetical? I am having trouble with the idea of a “jewish” state because it assumes that everything related to jews just belongs to other jews and that would violate the concept of being sovereign. Either you have a jew who establishes his own connection to hashem or you have somebody impose upon him someone else’s judaism thereby breeding resentment.

    As much as I agree with you, the idea of reforming the “state” is hopelessly unworkable. I prefer agorism because change can only come in the marketplace.

  5. As a Rothbardian (at least I suspect you are by your ancap’s arguments), I wonder how do you feel about his utter hatred towards the state of Israel?

    • I’m fine with it. He hated all states qua states. Being anti Israel is totally fine as long as you don’t try to force anything on anyone. If he called for war against Israel and force, that would be a completely different story, but he was always a non interventionist.

      • Hmm…thanks very much. I’ll take a look. Perhaps it deserves a full response in a separate post. My initial reaction without having read it at all is that Rothbard never lied purposely. He may have been mistaken, or more likely he is analyzing this from a perspective that you don’t recognize. I’ll get back to it and let you know my full response.

  6. My proposal is that you genetically create flying unicorns that will fly over the area and poop gold bricks and piss ecstacy over the entire population. Then they will all be happy, and live happily ever after.

    Which is about as realistic a solution as a stateless society, and probably easier to achieve. And if you think that my idea of a genetically enigneered flying unicorn is based in scientific ignorance, let me tell you that I can produce more evidence that such a thing is possible, than you can produce that, given current social realities, and weapons availability, a stateless society is possible.

    The “Stateless” amish, for example, mentioned above, were able to exist only because they did so within a benevolent State who veiwed them a kind of cultural couriosity. And protected their property and lives from maurading heavily armed thieves.

    • If unicorns poop gold bricks on the population, the gold supply curve will move up and the value of gold will drop to a much lower equilibrium price, making gold lose its value globally and you’re back to square one. Also, if the unicorns sprayed ecstasy on everyone, demand for non-drugged labor would skyrocket, and the price of their labor (i.e. their salaries) would go way up, creating an economic incentive for people to shield themselves from the ecstacy coming down from the sky from the unicorns.

      So no, in the event that your unicorn is invented, they wouldn’t live happily ever after at all.

      Thanks for the opportunity to apply Austrian economic principles to such a weird case!

  7. I applaud this argument, but it’s an idealist’s dream. The people of the world have been suffering with the stating mindset for millennia. Most can’t even imagine living without a state. So waiting for a threshold population to endorse this idea is a fool’s errand. The only solution I see as even remotely possible is prodding some enlightened state to undertake a bold experiment, allowing a small portion of its citizens living together on their own land to internally secede from (but remain within) the state and live independent of state control. The American Amish have achieved this in part. Stateless politics may not yet be an idea whose time has come, but I remain hopeful.

    • Jacob, the best and quickest way to a stateless free society is to install a leader at the top who wants to bring the system down. Moshe Feiglin is the only one who is even close to this. That is why I support him. He is not as radical as I am and does not believe in private armies or courts, but he is closer than any other leader. The Jewish People were meant to serve as an example to humanity. We will lead the world to freedom as we did when we left Egypt. It may be a dream, but there is a way forward. Feiglin as Prime Minister, and we’ll go from there.

      • Rafi, how can you possibly believe that Feiglin could get sufficient traction to 1) not only get elected on a platform that nearly no one understands much less appreciates, but also 2) once elected, transform the thinking of an entire population to make such ideas work ? The paradigm shift needed would require a threshold level of public understanding and appreciation way beyond what exists today. Good ideas are never enough. They have to live as part of everyone’s gestalt.

      • I not only believe that Feiglin will be Prime Minister and turn the Jewish nation towards libertarian ideas, I’m sure of it. The Jews have been known to swing more radically than that very quickly. More people understand and appreciate these ideas than you think. Few take them to their logical conclusion like I do, but when given freedom, the Jewish people will drink it thirstily. Trust me. We’re getting closer.

  8. So well written, Rafi, that those extreme libertarian positions don’t even sound meshuga, as they do when put forth by most libertarians. The state is so deeply entrenched, both in Israel and the US, that I don’t see even a remote possibility of a zero state solution, but I sure hope to see less intrusive states in both our countries. I know I am working towards that here, as an activist and frequent candidate of the Libertarian Party.

    • Kenneth, appreciate it. I recommend, however, to join the republican party as that is the vessel through which to reach the masses, as Ron Paul has done and as Moshe Feiglin is doing through Likud.

  9. G-d didn’t take us out of Egypt to be libertarians either. He took us out of Egypt so that we could go to Israel and follow the Torah, which is not always compatible with being a libertarian.

    • It’s true that God didn’t take us out of Egypt to “be libertarians”. There is no word for libertarian in loshon hakodesh. But He kinda did take us out to be free and make our own choices. Again, the period of the Shoftim, the most libertarian period of Jewish history, was also the most peaceful. It’s a pity that we agitated for a King. Shmuel was right. Very bad idea.

      • G-d also commanded us to do option #5, drive out enemy populations, which today includes the Arabs, when we entered Israel. It’s never too late. I don’t understand why Jews who follow the Torah waste time with libertarian ideas. As I became religious I gradually spent less and less time following what the libertarians are thinking. Too much is simply not compatible with the Torah. Also not so long ago a large group of Jews left a libertarian Facebook page because it was so pro-Palestinian, which is unfortunately typical of today’s libertarians. There’s nothing to be learned from libertarian thought that can’t be learned better from the Torah and its commentaries.

      • Read Rambam, Hilchos Melachim U’Milchemoseihem. Before we go out killing anybody we always sue for peace first, surround on 3 sides and let the enemy escape. There are always ways to see the Torah as a document of force and death, you’re right. If you want to read it that way, you can, but people have a right to fight back against you.

        There are also ways to see it as a document of freedom and choice. It all depends on how you want to read it and what you want to emphasize. For example, why do you think God had to “harden the heart” of Sichon to start the war before we invaded? It says clearly in Devarim:

        “But Sichon king of Cheshbon was not willing to let us pass through it, for Hashem, your God, hardened his spirit and made his heart stubborn, in order to give him into your hand this very day” (2:30)

        Instead of letting us pass through his land peacefully, Sichon attacked us, so we fought back and won. Why not just command us to go in and kill Sichon? Because that would be incompatible with libertarianism, in my view. Same with the Shiva Amamin.

        I take the sources I want and I emphasize them. I qualify the ones that present problems and reread them to support my own values. I’m not ashamed of that at all. The Gemara does it constantly. If you think that’s illegitimate, feel free to not read this blog.

        I have no problem with libertarians being pro palestinian. Once a libertarian, however, starts saying that Jews should be killed because they stole Israel, they are no longer libertarian and are violating the non-aggression axiom. I am also “pro palestinian” in that I believe Arabs have a right to the same exact human rights that Jews have. No difference. They have a right to be free and have property and not be occupied by a government army.

        Finally, yes, God did bring us to Israel to follow the Torah. But not by force. By choice. “Ubacharta Ba’chayim”. If you don’t choose it freely, there’s no point in having the Torah at all.

      • why not make both of the above ideas into separate posts. why not have many posts on how to see the torah in this way? this would make you a true pioneer in both fields! i personally would really enjoy reading these kinds of posts and pondering them and adding to them for myself and others. feiglin’s base includes the charedim who are influenced by torah sources. if you are already learning and writing about freedom, why not merge the two as does gary north with his books demonstrating how he sees the bible as supporting the free market? i for one would be very grateful for this. beside it would set you apart as “jewishly” libertarian, as opposed to a libertarian who also happens to be jewish, such as block, ira katz, ilana mercer, rothbard, etc.

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