Is There a Statute of Limitations in Libertarianism? Yes, It’s Called ייאוש

In my debate with Jeremy Hammond on the legitimacy of the State of Israel from a libertarian perspective, the center of Hammond’s argument is that a 2,000 year old claim to previously homesteaded land is invalid because there is a statute of limitations in libertarianism.

First of all, he quotes a footnote in the paper that reads as follows.

But are there no statutes of limitation? Surely, two millenia and counting would more than qualify for any statute of limitations. There is such a thing, for the libertarian, as a ‘natural’ statute of limitations: the further back ones [sic] goes into the past, the more difficult it is to encounter any relevant evidence. Since the burden of proof always rests with he who wishes to overturn extant property rights, mere passage of time can serve as a natural limitation.

Sure sounds like there is a statute of limitations according to our paper! But Hammond deliberately leaves out the second part of the footnote to give the impression that we hold that libertarianism does support a statute of limitations, when we hold no such thing. Here is the full footnote. Note the However after Jeremy’s selective out of context quote:

statute-of-limitations

I have requested that Jeremy put up the full quote on his article on his site discussing this very issue. I put it in the comments in any case.

But anyway, there is a statute of limitations in libertarianism, and it is a priori, but it has nothing to do with time passed. It cannot have anything to do with time passed because any measurement of time is a posteriori, whereas libertarianism, or should I say the positive Austrian method of deductive analysis as set forth by Ludwig Von Mises in “Economic Science and the Austrian Method” which leads to normative libertarianism, is a priori.

So what is the statute of limitations in libertarianism? It is when a claim is entirely foregone. When a claim is foregone, that claim cannot be picked up by subsequent generations. Once someone gives up a claim, that claim is gone and can no longer be inherited. In halacha the concept is called ייאוש, transliterated ye’ush. Giving up.

In Judaism for example there is a religious obligation to return lost objects to their previous owners. Lost objects cannot ever be taken regardless of the amount of time passed, unless there is ייאוש by the person who lost the object. It is not time-dependent. It is ייאוש dependent.

Once there is וודאי ייאוש, or definite relinquishing of claims, there is no longer any obligation to return a lost object, and the person who found it can keep it.

Now let’s reason this out deductively, just like Mises reasoned out the business cycle and just like Chazal reasoned out ייאוש in בבא קמא. If a person declares a piece of his property hefker (ownerless) and someone takes that piece of property, the child of that person can no longer claim that piece of property as his inheritance, obviously. Further, if a parent’s property was stolen and the parent has ייאוש, meaning he completely gives up on ever getting the property back, the child’s claim is now null and void and the child can no longer claim the property either, even though the property was lost unjustly in the first place.

If we now enlarge the sample size, do Mexicans have a claim on California and Texas? No, they do not, because Mexicans have given up their claims entirely. I don’t hear of any Mexicans claiming these places. Do Native Americans have a claim on their stolen land? In that case I am not 100% certain because I am unfamiliar with Indian tribes, but in the event that they have given up any hope of ever getting their stolen land back, then subsequent generations cannot claim it back either.

So, have Jews ever given up their claims to Judea/Israel/Palestine? No, not ever. We have never had any ייאוש regarding our eventual return to our homesteaded land. Not for a single generation. Our claims are reinforced every single day of our lives without exception and we are in fact commanded never to give up our claims. This is inherent in our mandated belief in the גאולה, the redemption of the Jewish People by the משיח at whatever point in the future and the ingathering of the exiles, which in fact has already happened.

Have some Jews given up their claims? Certainly. Have some Jews experienced ייאוש? Absolutely. Most of those Jews are no longer part of the nation. They are gone, assimilated, kaput. Many Jews have not had ייאוש, including yours truly. If and when a Jew who has given up his claims to his homeland marries one who has not, he or she re-inherits the continuous unbroken claim through marriage. Think of the Jewish Nation as one body, like Wolverine or the T-1000. If one strand breaks off and gives up the claim, the core heals and makes the body, the claim, full again. One piece flies off, but if it is found by the core and reabsorbed, the claim is restored through joining back up with the unbroken, whole Nation.

The only thing I need to prove is actual physical descent from the original homesteaders. All land with evidence of previous Jewish homesteading goes to the nearest of kin, which are Jews, whether they happen to practice Christianity or Islam or Judaism or Hinduism it does not matter. Since there is no one Jew who can prove individual ownership of any plot of land, all land with evidence of previous Jewish homesteading goes to the descendants of Jews by shares of stock, whether these descendants call themselves Palestinian or Israeli or whatever.

I can easily prove descent. I have the genes and I have the claim, repeated constantly and never, ever broken. Anyone else who can prove decent also has a right to previously homesteaded land, unless he has had ייאוש. Most Palestinians have not had ייאוש either.

So here’s what it comes down to practically:

Since possession is 9/10ths of the law, any human being sitting on homesteaded land in Israel that has no previous evidence of any homesteading by Jews, gets to stay there. If there is previous evidence of homesteading by Jews, anyone on that land must prove descent from Jews, and if they cannot, they must leave. All people who were expelled from their homesteaded land unjustly in 1948 or whenever, has a right of return. If he descends from Jews, he can return regardless of whether the land he was expelled from was homesteaded by Jews in the past or not. If he is not descended from Jews, he only has a right of return if the land he was on has no previous evidence of homesteading by Jews.

So does a statute of limitations exist in libertarianism? Yes. It is called ייאוש, ye’ush. Jews never had ye’ush, our claim is still valid, and it must be so a priori. All previously homesteaded land in Israel belongs to us by shares, simply because it is impossible to know which Jew owns which plot of land. Shares of stock in previously homesteaded land in the areas currently under the control of the Jewish State, must be distributed to all demonstrable descendants of the Jews that originally homesteaded the land.

As for Har Habayit, that specific land was homesteaded with Jewish money, donated and taxed, on the condition that it be used for the Beit HaMikdash. Any other use of it is a violation of contract. Therefore, according to libertarianism, the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, must be rebuilt.

 

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Libertarianism is not All or Nothing

This was written almost 6 years ago by a friend of mine, who has allowed me to repost it here. He’s a gentile who knows more about the ideal Torah system of government (anarchy with privately chosen judges) than the average Gadol HaDor. Sometimes it just takes reading the book itself to remember what it actually says.

I agree with the main point of the article. I only disagree with some nomenclature. I would say that libertarianism is not really a political theory at all. It is an antipolitical theory. Every political theory suggests different degrees of force to organize society. Libertarianism eschews all of it.

I would also add that, from a Jewish “chosen people” perspective, my view is that the role of the Jewish people is first to free themselves and the rest of the world will follow. Without the Jews global freedom will never happen. I don’t know how we will free ourselves here exactly, but I trust God will enable it somehow. Just hoping to be a part of it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It’s Not All or Nothing

There was a long piece in the Daily Kos this week that ‘exposed’ libertarians and their goofy-subversive-dangerous ideas. Outside of the general snarky patina of the article, it was actually a pretty good survey of libertarian positions on most issues. There were some key, and common, characterizations that were, I felt, wide of the mark. I have chosen to highlight one that I feel is fundamental to the overall misunderstanding of the libertarian philosophy.

I am often accused of being an idealist. Unable to deal with the ‘real world,’ they say, I adhere to an ideology that has no practical application. There is no constituency to abolish the FDA, SSA, CIA, IRS, or DEA. Also, a libertarian society would provide no safety net and people could starve, or be homeless, or die without all these government programs. Imposing the libertarian system on a modern society would require everyone to accept it, and that ain’t going to happen. Idealism never works, they say, which is why all ‘isms’ fail. Libertarianism is no different from Communism. Pie in the sky, impractical, doomed to failure.

Perhaps the critique of Communism is correct. It does seem to require a violent revolution to wipe away the old bourgeois regime and replace it with a worker’s paradise in one fell swoop. If the program is not adopted in its’ entirety, it fails. Let one bourgeois remain in power and he will ruin the Communist stew. Root them out! Kill them all! Purge society of the wreckers so Communism can flourish and create a worker’s paradise. So when critics of Communism say it doesn’t work, and Communists reply that it hasn’t been tried, the Communists have a point. (Forget for a moment that successful small scale communist experiments have been carried out in the U.S. since the early 1800’s, in towns such as New Harmony and New Economy.) Both the critics of Communism and the supporters of Communism agree: what has been tried in various nations around the world has lacked the requisite purity, and they have all failed miserably. Maybe it would work if pure, but we know it won’t work if it is impure.

While Libertarianism tries to be a comprehensive political philosophy, like the Marxist and Communist theories, it does not run afoul of the same purity problem as other ‘isms.’ Impure libertarian societies have existed on a national scale, and they have been highly successful. I’m thinking of the U.S. prior to World War I. The Roman Republic before Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Hong Kong. Even the ancient Hebrews lived in a kind of libertarian world with no kings or rulers (the Jews were warned not to get a king because he would tax their wealth and send their children off to war…oh how prophetic!) In each case, the relative freedom enjoyed by individuals in those societies resulted in stable and wealthy communities. As their freedoms were curtailed, each of those societies experienced a decline in wealth, stability, and vitality (Hong Kong has not yet seen a decline, as it remains one of the freest places on earth despite belonging to a ‘communist’ country). Libertarian theory endorses the idea that more freedom means more wealth, stability, and security, while less freedom means more poverty, discontent, and conflict.

Taken to its’ logical extreme, Libertarianism calls for an entirely voluntary society. A century and a half ago, that might have been imaginable. Today, from the perspective of people who are taxed, licensed, mandated, regulated, and subsidized by a 360 degree government that alternates between kind paternalism and nasty scold, this is a ridiculous thought. Surely the Libertarian ideal is so disconnected with the world as it exists that it is not worthy of serious consideration. Problems today must be fixed with practical solutions, not pie-in-the-sky theories.

Actually, this is where Libertarianism excels. Since Libertarianism does not require perfect execution to generate positive results, it can be taken in small pieces. Example: When the airlines were “deregulated” in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, there was loud complaining that air travel would become more expensive and unsafe. Libertarian theory said it would become more affordable, flexible, and safer (if that was important to consumers). Indeed, that is exactly what happened. Air travel boomed. Over the next ten years fares dropped by some 50% and the number of carriers and routes doubled, making air travel affordable and practical for millions of Americans who otherwise would not have considered flying. The entire economy did not have to be deregulated, just a portion of a portion. More freedom was better, however limited.

The same thing happened with the trucking business at about the same time. The result was lower freight rates for industry and lower merchandise prices for consumers.

Alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s resulted in a wave of violent crime as gangs battled over the black market while doing little to decrease drinking. Making alcohol legal again was another step in the direction of freedom, and the unintended consequences of prohibition disappeared overnight. A similar approach is needed with marijuana, and for the same reasons: it is practical and it is the right thing to do in a free society. Theory says that society would benefit from legalizing all drugs, but it will benefit from just the first small step with marijuana.

Libertarianism is not all or nothing. In general, freedom is good, more freedom is better. It is not necessary to have a pure Libertarian system to experience the benefits of freedom. Libertarian theory can be taken to the extreme…if you want…but it can also be taken in small pieces if that is all your society can handle. No need for a violent revolution. Just the steady drip, drip, drip of ideals and practical compromise. Then, one day, we may all be free. Perfectly free.

And it will seem perfectly reasonable.

Posted by It’s Always Something

Are Communism and Libertarianism Compatible? Yes. They are.

Just to clear up a common misconception, as much as I find what we commonly call “communism” detestable, it is still possible to be a communist and a libertarian. It isn’t communism per se that libertarianism rejects, but rather the forced collectivization of goods and and services into communes.

If a group of people decided that they wanted to voluntarily live in commune where the rule “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” held sway, I’d have no problem with that. Only confused libertarians would have a problem with it. The only problem with communism is that it requires force to implement. A central authority must come in and confiscate all property to collectivize it. That means the natural state of things is private individual property and communes come in with a central authority to take all property and redistribute it by force.

That usually leads to mass starvation and death, as in Mao’s Great Leap Forward, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Stalin’s rape of Ukraine etc. These examples were all communism enacted by force. There have been no greater examples of mass death than these. But if communism is enacted voluntarily by people who don’t want private property but would rather work for the commune, then it can indeed work.

The classic example is the Israeli Kibbutz. People who want to live there agree to work on a communistic basis, and that’s fine, as long as they don’t force people who want to work for themselves to live there. Kibbutzim are not particularly successful enterprises in terms of amassing wealth, but if the people who live there like them and want to continue doing as they do, then libertarianism has no objection.

The same is true even for murder societies who all agree that if you live within a certain previously homesteaded area, anyone can murder you without warning. That’s fine too, as long as everyone who lives there agrees to the rules. The key is it has to be previously homesteaded. Otherwise property is appropriated by private means and the rules of that property become subject to their owner.

A voluntary communist society wouldn’t lead to much wealth creation, but it sounds attractive to sado-masochists at least, and some people like it.  You can’t argue with what makes people happy because it is subjective.

The same is true for collectivism or socialism or whatever. Libertarians are not against team sports, because everyone on the team agrees to work as a collective. Socialism per se is not a problem as long as everyone who has to fund it fully agrees to it. As long as everyone agrees, no problem.

The only thing libertarians object to is the use of force against innocents. There is literally nothing else to it. It is one of the simplest antipolitical philosophies in the world, which is what makes it so prone to error.

The Tormented Conscience of a Libertarian

It’s been a very hard last few days. I’ve been attacked and supported. Some attacks were stupid. Some were more sensible and really made me think. Some have been from people very close to me that I rejected out of hand, because I don’t agree at all with their positions. Some attacks have been respectful, from past teachers who I really do respect myself, who have challenged me for my tone, but in the end I still think I am right in how I handled this. Some have attacked my social skills, which are and always have been my weakest point. Those attacks really hurt, for a short while, but I’m over it now. I am who I am. And I always will be who I am.

The support has been equally uplifting.I’m thankful to everyone who has lent a hand while I go out, rabid almost, yelling at an organ donor. I write that now even cringing at myself. But I still maintain I did the right thing. I’ve struggled with whether my method of spreading liberty is the right way or not. I haven’t eaten as much as I usually do, because I’ve been on fire for three days. Everyone who has contacted me expressing support, thank you. It really helps. Every word.

My Rebbe in libertarianism, the real current Gadol Hador, more than any Rabbi alive, Dr. Walter Block, has given me strength and continues to give me strength. He is more my teacher than any Rabbi ever was or probably ever will be. May Walter live till 120 and teach forever. And that’s not just a throwaway blessing. I really want him to live that long, and longer. Walter is one of the only a handful of academics who have not succumbed to State Avoda Zara (idol worship).

I started thinking. I’m not the only libertarian that expresses hot anger. We are often grouped together as wacko crazy emotionally unstable lunatics. Why is that?

Because our premise is so simple and we can’t understand why people don’t see it. There’s no pilpul to it. There’s nothing complicated about it. It’s simply that nobody has the right to inflict force on any innocent person. We take that to its logical conclusion. That’s it. There’s nothing else to it. But everyone always disagrees. Innocent people need to be violated for the public good. If you don’t believe in exceptions to no violence against innocents, you’re insane.

What happens is the academics come in, those that form our cultural opinions, and they confuse the hell out of us. They write these longwinded arguments that are self-righteous and incomprehensible. They use big words designed to make you feel stupid. They dodge logic, they squeeze out of black holes and come around and trap you, but nothing they say makes any sense. My father-in-law likes to say, they “Baffle you with Bullshit.” And that’s all they do. Even most of the halacha preachers. Jewish academia. Not all. Most.

I presented this logic to one dissenter:

A) You support a rich person selling a kidney at a discount to a poor person, say $100. Chessed. Lovingkindness.

B) You support a poor person donating to a rich person for free as an act of lovingkindness as well.

C) You are against a poor person selling to the same rich person for $500, saying that is taking advantage.

Ergo, you are against poor people gaining $500. If you were against poor people giving to rich people on principle because you don’t like the idea of the rich feeding off the body parts of the poor, you would not allow them to even donate. But you do. You even think the poor donating to rich is great, wonderful. But not selling. God forbid poor people should get money. So therefore you must hate poor people and don’t want them to have money.

Now, I KNOW the guy doesn’t “hate” poor people. Those who justify their rejection of a free market in organs don’t actually hate poor people emotionally, in their conscious minds at least. But in practice, they do hate them, because they do not even consider them people enough to be able to make their own decisions. They are merely tools of public policy, dictated by People On High Horses (always politicians aided by academics) with complicated ideas that make no sense, concocted in the laboratory of their minds that was constructed through years of State education.

These “Policy Makers” the Academics, they are up there on their high horses dictating what they think about “public policy” in their academic heads, when they probably don’t know a single destitute poor person desperate for money, or a single person desperate for a kidney.

You know how this guy got out of that logical trap? He sent me a 5 paragraph essay about differential equations. I had absolutely no clue what the hell he was talking about. Nobody else did either I bet. But I’m sure they thought he was a genius. It was all used to justify why poor people should not be allowed to decide for themselves, as if they were animals in the lab of his magnificent public policy academy.

And that’s what drives me mad. The pilpul. The insanity. Am I crazy? Am I the only one who sees it? What the hell is going on?

Two people. They’re going to die. One needs money. The other needs an organ. They want to trade. YOU go tell them to die. YOU do it personally. Can you? No. So you dodge the question. You say it’s “systemic”. You say “taking advantage”. You say “public policy.” NO. Tell me. Do you let them trade, or do you make them die? Tell me. They won’t answer. It’s public policy. Dodge dodge dodge. My God it can drive you mad.

But would you, personally, if you needed a kidney, would you buy one on the black market? Would you rather there be a free market if you needed one? Would you rather die? No answer. “I’m a human being and I’d rip someone’s heart out to survive. What does that prove?” Well then. What can I say.

Every Statist wants to dictate “public policy” while he has two healthy kidneys. Nobody wants that public policy applied to them when they need that kidney. Hypocrisy. I can’t stand it. We, libertarians, can’t stand it. Is everyone crazy? Or is injustice the way the world is supposed to be? Maybe we’re crazy for demanding justice. Maybe the world is supposed to be insane and we just don’t fit in.

Libertarians come back to one thing, all the time. Non aggression. That’s all we want. That’s ALL we want. And then the academics answer us with differential equations as to why we must aggress and we’re wrong. And for a second we all think we’re stupid and we should reprogram ourselves with whatever calculus the other people are doing in their heads to prevent poor people from selling organs to rich people. Because it’s taking advantage. But donating isn’t. Huh?

And then, after all that self doubt (it lasts about 2 minutes), we libertarians come back to our senses. We are NOT crazy. Everyone else is. And we are not alone. Thanks to Godsends like Ron Paul, we are growing in numbers. We will not be stamped out. We will scream justice until we die and God takes back our souls. Nothing will stop us. We will win. Despite all the insanity and academia and differential equations.

Freedom must rule. Non aggression must be king. Otherwise there is no point to this world. There is no point to living. Humans are above animals because we can trade. All humans are equal in the fact that all innocent human beings must not be forced to do, or not do, things against their will. Nobody must be forced not to exchange a kidney for $100. Everyone decides for himself. Because everyone is equal in that sense.

Humans are the only creatures on the planet that can mutually benefit through trade. That’s what an economy is, literally. Animals only take what they find and survive. We humans trade and grow. If you advocate stopping that, you are advocating shutting down the human spirit.

And we libertarians, tormented for two minutes of self-doubt from the establishment’s differential equations, we will not let you. We are the human spirit. The FULL human spirit. And you cannot stomp us out.

Halachic Proof that Circumcision is a Violation of the Non Aggression Principle

Someone commented on a previous post:

There are many justifications for Milah vs. NAP. I wrote a lot about this for the drawer, so just ask, and i can write it here. To start, it is a clear benefit to the child in the social sense, the same way extra fingers are removed. Having it later is more painful.

In that post I had said the following about circumcision.

And in the end, Judaism forces me to be a minarchist, of a sort. To draw a line from my own personhood instead of from something outside myself. To have just a little intuition of my own. I circumcised my son without his consent, and thereby broke the NAP, the holy of holies of libertarian law. I hated it. I cried. And then even I, the uncontrollable libertarian radical teeming with hatred of the State, drew a line from within to circumscribe power. I did, and will do brit milah, and that’s it. I can’t explain why in any logical terms other than God told me to. And I will not go any further than that into the realm of power over other men. Not ever. Not one inch.

Anyone who wants to read my back and forth with Walter Block on bris milah can do so here, at Economic Policy Journal.

My position is that a bris on an 8-day old baby necessarily violates the NAP. It is an unnecessary surgery, and despite the benefits of circumcision, there are also drawbacks. Never mind what they are, the fact is that the kid has no say in whether to do it or not, and it should be his decision. Other issues such as dressing, bathing, feeding, putting in a crib by force, disciplining, etc. are issues of safety and child rearing, and if these are not done, a child will have serious problems in life.

The other side claims as this commenter did, that it is a clear benefit to the child socially. Perhaps so, but a child can decide this when he is, say, 6 or 7 when he may begin becoming embarrassed by having an ערלה (foreskin) for whatever reason. If he decides to do the surgery then voluntarily then fine. That wouldn’t violate the NAP at all, assuming a 7 year old has the capacity to voluntarily do something. (Let’s not complicate things.)

But this kind of argumentation is beside the point. There are obviously ways to justify circumcision as not violating the NAP, whether you make a medical, social, or child rearing argument, none of which I accept, but let’s assume I do. Still, there is the halachic issue of what a bris actually is, and here we get into a more Talmudic form of argumentation.

Taking the case of a child born circumcised, or an adult conversion where the man is already circumcised, we clearly see that one קיום (fulfillment aspect) of a bris is itself the violence of the act. Why? Because a child born circumcised still needs to be wounded by his father. A convert who is already circumcised also needs to bleed in order to be converted. Without a הטפת דם ברית, (drawing of covenant blood) a father does not fulfill the mitzva of circumcision on his son who is born circumcised.

Now say what you want about circumcision itself. Wounding a baby for the sake of wounding a baby for no purpose other than to fulfill a mitzvah is clearly a violation of the NAP. And it is an integral part of the bris. Blood must be drawn. This is also why a Gomco clamp is considered פסול (unsatisfactory) for circumcision, because with a Gomco there is no bleeding.

Clearly then, one kiyum of a bris is violence. Certainly, it is absolutely minimal. One prick, one drop of blood, and nothing more than that. But it is still there. One point of a bris is to violate the NAP, and therefore my point still stands. Judaism forces me to be a minarchist of a sort, and draw a line demarcating violence from within myself.

Indeed, to say עד כאן. “Up to here, and no further.”

To reinforce the idea that above the NAP is God Himself, and as sure as He is the One Who commanded me to observe the NAP, He is also the One Who commanded me to violate it in the case of circumcision.

Why I’m an Anarcho-Capitalist, but Love Minarchists

Being an ideological purist, absolutely logically consistent, is easy. Well, not exactly easy, but once you make the commitment to draw your red lines of libertarian logic according to the singular axiom of the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) and live by it, once you make that fateful decision and swallow the blue pill, or the red pill, or whichever Matrix pill it is, the rest is easy. Once the Free Will decision is made so to speak, you’re home free. You go issue by issue, instance by instance, and you sort everything out accordingly with no exceptions. While you may be left with a few difficulties as to what fits where (like does abortion constitute violation of the NAP, or can people voluntarily sell themselves into slavery or not), you are still living by a single principle by attempting to categorize everything into either violence or nonviolence logically, and live accordingly.

In one sentence, there remain zero instances where you are compromising your values, and that both makes you impervious, as well as isolates you into that void of impracticality.

I am an anarcho-capitalist libertarian, which means I take the NAP to the extreme, to its logical conclusion. No initiatory force against the innocent, not by anybody, not even the State. That means no State.

And yet, there are two men in this world who have shaped my thinking more than any other, at least in terms of giving me new direction, and neither of them are anarcho-capitalists. They are both, in fact, minarchist libertarians. The kind that believe in minimum government for the purpose of keeping the bad guys (NAP violators) away and discerning between good guys and bad guys.

Minarchists are always caught in a hopeless logical contradiction with themselves, which they can’t and don’t (usually) deny. They believe in non-aggression, but they also believe that a certain amount of aggression is necessary in order to keep out the aggressors. This infects their philosophy, thinking, and eventually political planning with a true contaminant. An anarchist can just privatize everything in his head and stay consistent. A minarchist…it’s not that easy.

Minarchists have to draw a line somewhere between necessary aggression (a so called minimum) and evil aggression (anything beyond minimum). But there is no logical line to draw, no objective border to trace it. It is a line based only on their own intuition of what must be and what must not be crossed. It is highly personalized, totally subjective, and nearly impossible to keep steady.

For the anarchist, there is no army, only private security companies with clear market tests on what is legitimate and what is not. There is no police, only private insurance companies that take a real market risk every time they arrest someone on a suspicion or a call. And there are no public courts subject to an arbitrary law written by politicians and bureaucrats, only private judge businessmen trying to get a reputation for fairness from all clients involved in a case on every side, with only the NAP to guide them, and whatever other voluntary contract may exist between the parties involved in a suit.

But for the minarchist, there is an army, and every decision it makes must be guided, ultimately, by bureaucrats and politicians making subjective judgement calls. (Should we bomb Gaza? How and with what? How many civilians getting killed is acceptable? When is too much? Politicians have to decide these things, not the market.) There is no alternative because there is no profit motive as there are no voluntary customers. There is a police force operating on monopoly, and the minarchist must draw a line somewhere as to what this monopoly has the power to do and what it cannot do, what is considered abuse. How do you draw the line? You just do. Somewhere. There is a public monopolistic court system, and the minarchist must decide what its powers are and when it must yield to individual liberty.

On each of these issues a minarchist must decide, draw a line somewhere, and stick to that arbitrary line for dear life. There is always a clear and present danger that the line he draws will move, inexorably, to the side of more power, slowly but surely, and grow from there into a monster. This is what happens to almost all libertarian-leaning minarchist politicians at some point. Some sooner, some later, they all fall into statism because the system itself wants power and will vacuum everyone towards that direction with insuperable force.

Well, almost insuperable.

As I said, there are two men, both minarchists, who have shaped my life in terms of direction more than any other. One is Ron Paul, and the other is Moshe Feiglin. I disagree with them about a lot of things. In fact I argue with Moshe constantly, pretty much whenever we have a conversation. (Ron Paul I have not had the privilege of arguing with personally.) But what they have in common that no other minarchist politician has (none that I know of) is that they draw their lines of power from within their own personalities, subjective though they are, and they do not cross themNot ever.

The minarchist always has the open temptation to give in to more power, because he allows a minimum in for police, army, and courts. In all of Ron’s political career, he never moved that line. Never. He kept it firm, and no pressure could move it one inch. And though Moshe’s minarchist line is not the same line as Ron’s (lines of minarchy can never be the same because they are all subjective by definition) Moshe’s line, so far, has not moved, despite all the pressure applied by politicians surrounding him like sharks.

Is Moshe’s belief that the State is a “useful tool” placed in the hands of the “sovereign nation” a mistake? Yes. He’s wrong. The State is not a tool controlled by the nation, but simply a weapon wielded by politicians in order to steal from individuals in the nation. The nation is not sovereign, only the individual is, though nations exist insofar as the way we treat and relate to each other as human beings. And I believe a metaphysical nationhood exists in the Jewish people, but that’s a matter outside of political law.

But so what? That’s what he believes, so all that’s left to trust is his intuition. If he believes the State is not being used as the tool he says it should be, he will fight the State, and that’s good. Usually his intuition is right on the money.

It’s easy to be an anarchist. Everything fits into one category or the other. There is no temptation of power because your mission is to abolish all of it in every form. There is no minimum of power that is acceptable, so nothing is tempting once you swallow the pill. Your personality is never really tested because you can just categorize everything logically, from within a system that resides outside yourself.

But being a minarchist is much harder. You have to accept some power and then draw a line. That line has to come from you, your own personhood, your own identity, your own strength, with no logic or anything externally objective to keep it steady, because there is no logic with which to draw that line. It’s all a judgement call. And the longer you can keep that line steady, the longer you refuse to move it within your own philosophical system, the stronger your personhood is. That’s why, as deep as my respect is for anarchists, and I have anarchist mentors who I really love, my respect for true minarchists is of a totally different kind.

Judaism has examples of both approaches, and it is clear to me that God prefers minarchists over anarchists. This is not to say that minarchists are correct. They’re not. But they are what brings the world forward into freedom on a mass scale, much more than anarchists. Anarcho capitalists are the philosophers always in the background. We draw lines in logic and never cross them. Minarchists, the real minarchists that draw red lines in their own blood and never cross them, are the leaders of men. The true intermediaries to liberty.

Here are two examples. One is Eliyahu, the equivalent of an anarchist. Absolutely uncompromising, no middle ground, correct about everything but fired from his job of being prophet. Literally the only prophet to be deposed by God while he was still alive, at least alive on Earth. He couldn’t lead the people spiritually because all he saw were violations and zealously stamped them out. Moshe Rabeinu is the example of the minarchist, totally unconcerned with his own power, didn’t want an internal police force initially or a public court system, just himself, probably because he trusted no one else with power. But a public system was forced on him by his father in law, and he ultimately accepted the idea with God’s sanction.

The successful leader between the two is obviously Moshe Rabeinu. Eliyahu failed.

The other example is more abstract, and that is Parah Adumah, the red cow. The ashes of the red cow purify the deepest tumah, ritual impurities caused by dead bodies. But preparing them, a step necessary for the people, makes you tameh itself. The message being that in order to lead humanity, you can’t rely solely on logical consistency like Eliyahu did. You’ve got to get dirty and then draw your own lines about how dirty you’ll get. The lines have to come from you, something inside you. You can’t rely on an external system to draw them for you. Otherwise, you can’t lead.

What does God want in the end? I believe it’s anarchy, in the end. A system where there is nothing, no power broker at all, between His creation and Himself, where the Jewish people act as a sort of voluntary middleman priesthood for the world, but with no coercive power over anyone.

But in order to get there, we need a בר הכי, some minarchist, and those are not the men who philosophise and draw lines based on an external system. They are the men that draw lines from within themselves and keep them there on the strength of their own personalities alone.

Moshe chides me that that I can’t always see everything from a totalitarian perspective, but that’s the thing. I can. He can’t. Because I’m not the leader. I’m just the theorist, someone to point him in the right direction, maybe. At least that’s what I aspire to. Maybe at some point I’ll perform some function of tearing down something (hopefully the damn Bank of Israel I hate so much), but only at his pace and with his go-ahead.

Let me at it freely and I’d tear the whole damn thing down in a day because my logic is stronger than my intuition. I’m an Eliyahu who can’t control himself if left to my own devices, and my hatred for the system is too acute for me to suffer letting it live a single second if I were ever in the position of being able to tear it apart on my own.

But I can afford to be that way, because I have assigned myself a leader, someone whose intuition I trust more than my own, even though he’s wrong about many things that I’m right about.

And in the end, Judaism forces me to be a minarchist, of a sort. To draw a line from my own personhood instead of from something outside myself. To have just a little intuition of my own. I circumcised my son without his consent, and thereby broke the NAP, the holy of holies of libertarian law. I hated it. I cried. And then even I, the uncontrollable libertarian radical teeming with hatred of the State, drew a line from within to circumscribe power. I did, and will do brit milah, and that’s it. I can’t explain why in any logical terms other than God told me to. And I will not go any further than that into the realm of power over other men. Not ever.

Not one inch.

A Libertarian Reading of Joseph

A friend and I have been back-and-forthing on various biblical themes with a libertarian lens. One of the characters we keep coming back to is Joseph. In a mainstream read, he’s a hero, a character that changes for the good, does teshuva, saves his family, rises to glory. A complete success story. He is referred to by Chazal as Yosef Hatzadik, Joseph the Righteous. But I have since been rereading the Joseph story in a libertarian light and have come to more complicated conclusions. Not that they necessarily contradict the read that Joseph was basically a good guy who succeeded in life, but a perspective that has liberty at the forefront tells me that Joseph was a much more limited and narrow person than people generally think.

In broad strokes, Yosef is the master socialist, statist, economic central planner. These are all bad words in libertarian-speak, but it is not that simple. The first thing we know about Yosef is that he has dreams of power and he seeks to control, without necessarily being in control of himself first. This initially got him into trouble when he was sold by his brothers to Egypt. There he is humbled and gains some self control, working hard to make his way to the top wherever he is, and not being sidetracked by feeling sorry for himself and depressed all day, as I’m sure many of us would feel if we were one day sold by our own family into slavery in a foreign country.

At some point, his own self control is tested, and he passes the test so well that it sets him back. He refuses to sleep with his boss’s wife, who then ironically accuses him of attempting to rape her, and he is then sent to prison.

But even then, he refuses to wallow in self-pity and does his best, rising to the top of the prison and eventually getting out by interpreting a few dreams.

Then he finally has his opportunity. He impresses Pharaoh with his interpretation of the cows swallowing cows and corn swallowing corn. And here’s where we come to a serious libertarian rereading. According to mainstream thought, Yosef saved the entire region from starvation by executing an ingenious plan of storing food. Without Yosef, the thinking goes, the entire middle east and western Africa would have been dead from hunger.

But is that really true? My contention is no. Yosef didn’t save anybody. All he did was some central economic planning through which he was able to give Pharaoh near absolute power in Egypt. The Otto Von Bismarck of his time, so to speak.

Had not Yosef interpreted Pharaoh’s dream correctly, what would have happened? There would have still been plenty of surplus food produced during the seven years of plenty. Instead of it all being monopolized in Pharaoh’s royal granaries through either coerced sales or probably outright theft, the supply would have remained decentralized.

My evidence that it was outright theft of the surplus comes from the word שילש used to describe how Egypt was divided when Pharaoh put Yosef in charge to begin collecting the surplus food. שילש is a very belligerent term, which also describes the head of an Egyptian war chariot, as in ושלישים על כלו. It is a term also used in the קדושה, as in יחד כולם קדושה לך ישלשו, describing how the angels praise God in heaven. The phrase the angels use is the famous triple קדוש, as in קדוש קדוש קדוש ה׳ צבאות, or Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts, in other words the commander of an army, with the angels being God’s army. So it is probably that Yosef sent soldiers in to simply confiscate the surplus.

There was little resistance because there was so much surplus that nobody wanted to put up a fight about it. But the key is that had Yosef not appointed thugs to confiscate the surplus, it would not have simply been wasted. All major cities had stockpiles of grain in case of a siege, and it’s not like famines were uncommon things those days. The food would have been stored, but instead of monopolized by Pharaoh with Yosef as his agent allowing him to charge an arm and a leg for it later, the price would have been competitive as many sellers would have competed for buyers during the famine years, lowering the price to something more reasonable than everything you own plus a 20% income tax for eternity, which is what Yosef ended up instituting.

So all Yosef did was give Pharaoh the window of opportunity for the greatest power grab in history up to that time. And Pharaoh took it. 3 years into the famine, Pharaoh owned all the silver in the entire economy. 4 years in, he owned all the cattle. 5 years in he literally owned the entire country. ותהי הארץ לפרעה. And it was Yosef that instituted the income tax on the Egyptian people.

That’s the bad part. The good part is that Yosef the Socialist Economic Central Planner did get his family a privileged spot through all the turmoil. There was no income tax on Bnei Yisrael. How do we know this? Because the income tax only applied to people who were forced to sell their land. The Torah clearly says that the Egyptian priests did not pay the 20% tax because they didn’t to sell their land because they got free food from the Egyptian Crown as part of the deal of being priests of Amun, or Aten, or On or whatever Egyptian god they were priests of. You know who else got free food during the famine? We did. From Yosef. So we never got taxed. And that’s why the Egyptians got really pissed off and turned on us later, enslaving us. Because our Statist brother Yosef enslaved them first with taxation.

This helped me answer a burning question I’ve always had about one little thing Yosef did in the aftermath of revealing himself to his brothers. At one point before he reveals himself, he gives Benjamin, his only full brother, 5x more food than everyone else. This is easily explainable as a test to see if it stokes their jealousy. But what always bothered me was that even after Yosef reveals himself to his brothers, he still gives Binyamin 5x more changes of clothes than everyone else for the way back!

Why? Because deep down, despite all the improvements in his persona which are undeniable, Yosef is still the same power-hungry crony capitalist who, just like government and big business, picks his favorite and showers him with gifts. He can’t help himself from using his power. It’s beyond his personality to be able to control it once he has it.

This, I believe, is why Mashiach ben Yosef has to die (non violently!), why Yosef cannot lead in the end, why the 10 tribes led by Efraim ben Yosef had to split off from Yehuda, which only happened when Yehuda, in the form of King Rechavam, took power to his head and became too much like Yosef, attempting to raise taxes too high and become a powerful nationalist state. And finally, why the true Mashiach has to come from Yehuda, the one who finally breaks Yosef down to crying when he offers himself in Binyamin’s place. In the end, Yehuda is the one who really knows how to treat Binyamin – as an equal, not as a favorite. Yosef treats him as a favorite and he cannot change his constant power-playing, the same mistake that led to his sale and enslavement in the first place.

Yosef is the force of Jewish nationalism. It is the force that drives classical Zionism, and it is a good catalyst for getting the nation together. It gave rise to the State of Israel which, as bad as it is, does keep the nation together. Yosef-minded Zionist people got together and put together a benign dictatorship, a Jewish State to run every aspect of Jews’ lives here, to tax them way above and beyond Joseph’s 20% rate, to indoctrinate their children in state schools and kidnap them into their army, expel them from their homes when they feel like it and all the other horrible stuff we all know about.

It is also useful to note that, just as Yosef is not a bad guy, but actually a good guy with a serious limitation, so too the current Israeli leadership, despite being evil at times, is also essentially good, but only within its own failed context and limited scope. It cannot complete the task, but it cannot be blamed either. It simply does not have the ability to even see what the task is.

Mashiach Ben Yosef has already come. He is just a catalyst for the next phase, which is liberty. It is time for Mashiach Ben Yosef to dissolve (through nonviolent means of course), and to make way for Yehuda, who, just like he did when he offered to take Binyamin’s place, will have to bring classical Zionism to its knees in some sort of catharsis.

The next step is for Yosefian Zionist nationalism to dissolve, making way for true liberty, חירות, at the hands of Yehuda. We’re getting closer. Stay tuned.