I came across the following 27 part video series (which, ironically, isn’t that long at all) that features a debate between voluntaryists and “democratic” socialists that was held at the Café Libertalia in San Diego over 2 years ago.
There were some fundamental impasses that were crossed pretty quickly, especially considering that the debate was not about superficial details for how government “should” work, but about whether the State should even exist at all. First, the anarchists had firm principles (whether you like them or not is irrelevant) whereas the socialists were relativistic mealy-mouthed ivory tower academics (as a college graduate, I know the type, believe me; they were fucking everywhere on campus). Second, the methodologies used to prove their respective perspectives was completely dissimilar between the debate teams; the anarchists preferred to rely on deductive reasoning, statistics, and praxeology as opposed to the pleasant yet empty sounding platitudes of the gray-haired socialists.
I think the debate should have ended a lot sooner once it became quite clear where each team stood in terms of principles, instead of continuing on with bullshit hypothetical scenarios that were answered with the same types of responses ad nauseam. The anarchists stood firmly on the Self-Ownership Axiom, the Non-Aggression Principle, and the Homesteading Principle. The socialists (surprise, surprise) not only equated the coercion of the State with market phenomenon (“the market is force!”), but then at one point criticized what they called the presupposition that ownership of property came before society was false since it came as an effect of society, and therefore subject to it!
To make matters worse, the socialists didn’t address homesteading, instead emphasizing the overriding virtue of the mob rule majority’s decisions on anything as the high holy sacrament that overrides absolutely everything else. I think once it was clear that socialists confused coercion with choice, held society as more valuable than the individual, and extolled their ultimate virtue of voting (instead of by the mechanisms of contract and price), the anarchists should have ended the debate right there and then by walking out of the room, essentially putting into practice their liberty to opt-out of an event that ceased to be productive. Alas, such was not the case.
While in some ways this debate was intriguing, it quickly lost its appeal once it was made clear that was no way to resolve the wide discrepancy between individualists and collectivists. Then began the half-hearted hypothetical scenarios asked of both teams (the worst of which came from the audience), and poor Joey Hill (of the voluntaryist team) lost his temper more than once when he yelped, “I’ve already objectively proven property rights in my opening statement, and here you are attempting to lay your subjective preferences upon it!” Such makes for mediocre theatre, not constructive work.
I found it humourous when Gregg Robinson (of the socialist team) admitted that the government must provide services in the areas of health care (that’s the Orwellian doublespeak term for medicine), education, and the environment, and that those three areas must be taken care of first before anything else is to be considered. His fruitless framing of the agenda aside, if you were to tackle precisely those three areas, you would find that not only are those too important for the government to handle, but they are also the very same areas that the State has gloriously fucked up time and again. So-called “health care” is really nothing more than taxpayer subsidized Western medicine cocktail of drugs and surgery to the exclusion of every other type of treatment or cure available. Private schools and especially homeschoolers have beaten their public school equivalents senseless across the broad spectrum of academic subjects. Finally, the EPA and the FDA are Administrative Agencies bought and paid for by the Big Food and Big Pharma cartels. What the socialists left me wondering is how their flavor of statism will be able to prevent (or at least mitigate) lobbying, which is about as undemocratic as you can get.
Speaking of oligopolies, I’m dismayed that the anarchists, while regurgitating for the umteenth time about how coercion is immoral, neglected to address the difference between capitalism and corporatism. Joseph Corbett (of the voluntaryist team) even used Wal-Mart as an non-coercive example to contrast your run of the mill government agency! While I understand his point, his specific example obfuscated the issue, since it is well known that Wal-Mart enjoys government privilege, and that protection raises the barrier to entry so high that potential competitors can’t enter the market in any effective way so as to drive down prices and increase the quality of the types of products being sold. It just leaves a bad taste in the mouth, much like how former Mises Institute fellow and current head of Laizze-Faire Books Jeffery Tucker once extolled the virtues of McDonalds.
While I think that this was a unique event, I fail to see what exactly is was supposed to accomplish. Other than enjoying the quips from Murray Rothbard look-alike Joey Hill and snickering at the comments of the “pragmatic” socialists, there really isn’t that much value to this debate. I think for potential recruits it left more questions than answers as well as a general state of overwhelmed confusion (even for me, and I know what these bastards are talking about!). There was so much left out from both sides that it isn’t hard to understand why the mainline public is as apathetic about their Liberties as they are; seeing the performance given here, I can’t blame them.