Jeffrey Tucker on Anarchism, Rothbard, Agorism, Immigration, and More
At the Young Americans for Liberty national convention, author and Director of Content for Foundation for Economic Education, Jefferey Tucker, debated Jack Hunter, a radio host and Editor for Rare.us, a Washington, D.C.-based news website.
Tucker is known as a prominent advocate of anarcho-capitalism – a political philosophy that sees getting rid of the state completely as the most ethical way to run society and also a feasible alternative to the statist paradigm.
Favoring self-ownership and private property, anarcho-capitalists believes no one should hold a monopoly on the use of force, instead all forms of human association should be voluntary, thus making taxation non-existent.
The libertarian philosophy splits into two camps, the anarcho-capitalists and the minarchists. While both groups want more freedoms and less government, the minarchists believe the state is still necessary to provide for roads, police, courts, and a military; according to anarcho-capitalists, these services could be provided more efficiently through the free market.
Anarchists criticize minarchists in failing to recognize the alternatives which could render these “indispensable state functions” obsolete. Through dispute resolution organizations, such as arbitration and mediation, conflicts could still be resolved without the state, roads would be built by housing developers, businesses, and schools, just as they were before the government took them over in the 19th century, and the job of the police would be by replaced by private security companies and community policing like neighborhood watch groups.
Petty philosophical infighting continues within the libertarian movement, while most anarchists distance themselves from government affairs, minarchists are more prone to engage in the never ending delusional game of politics.
Tucker’s main message during the debate was to warn young minds from getting overly enthusiastic about politics; "If you really want to change the world you have to do something other than politics," he said, "Nothing the State does really works…I see the state as just a parasitic organization that lives at the expense of the rest of society."
At the convention, I had a chance to sit down with Tucker; we began by talking about anarchism, the state, and why we need governments at all.
“The problem with the government is that it shuts down progress, it disallows experimentation, it takes all the money for itself,” Tucker said.
“I don’t think we need any monopolies at all because monopolies are not competitive, and competition is the way you get lower prices, and better service, and better technology, and more human flourishing.”
Tucker’s main criticism of libertarianism is that it lacks practical applications of its beliefs.
“Anarchists are too quick to make the moral argument. I’m not sure that gives you a fire for changing the world until you believe that the system your advocating really does work for people,” he said. “Whether the issue is private roads, intellectual property, foreign policy, and peace, everything needs a practical explanation, people sometimes rest on these moral arguments and they get intellectually lazy.”
The agorist philosophy best fits with this kind of “anti-politics” mindset. In 1980 Edward Konkin published the New Libertarian Manifesto, introducing agorism as a counter-politics/counter-economics movement, with the goal of establishing a free society through civil and social disobedience, ignoring the non-aggressive human action forbidden by the state and embracing the black market.
“It's interesting to me, I had been 20 years in the world of the libertarian ideas and never really encountered agorism before, and it wasn’t until cryptocurrency came along that I realized, oh innovations the way that you actually bring the world more freedom, and so I began to look at this literature and I was blown away.”
Murray Rothbard and Konkin were known for having a sharp disagreement on how to achieve the “libertarian utopia,” Tucker said he sides with Konkin.
“And my old friend Murray was actually on the wrong side of this debate.”
“He (Rothbard) had so much faith in politics, I think its just because he thought it was fun…He wasn’t exactly an entrepreneur, he wasn’t involved in business, whereas he loved politics, what he considered the romantic aspect to politics. So when Sam Konkin came around, and said, this politics stuff is never gonna work, we have to innovate our way around, Murray just couldn’t process that information, he couldn’t deal with it, and he just exploded into rage… His worry was that people were going to spend all their time making new cool things and neglecting politics. He like this sort of idea of a Lenin style movement that was dedicated to overthrowing the state and displacing it...I don’t think he saw that history is told from the point of view of the state…but there’s a different history, and that’s a history of technology….every new invention that serves human utility also expands opportunities for freedom."
Being that Tucker recently revisited his thoughts on immigration, we also talked about borders. Tucker now holds a stronger position on immigration, emphasizing the freedom of movement, conceptualizing it by comparing it to the right to procreate.
“Within the last few years the issue became very important because of these Trump guys, and these restrictions, I was shocked I was like who’s even talking about this?”
“What I discovered is that what most people think is true about immigration is not true, and then I went back to history and I understood that the basis of immigration restrictions is actually really grim, its eugenics and social control, and then I realized, every argument you can make about immigration, you can make against the freedom to procreate, every argument against an immigrant is also an argument against you and your girlfriend having a baby…so it begins to get really difficult, so your putting this statement, this issue of immigrant planning, and I think that’s an intolerable result.”
“The problem is not the immigration, it's the state apparatus that disallows immigrants from fully integrating into the neighborhood, we don’t see that so much here, but in Europe it’s a big deal; as an immigrant in Germany, you can’t work. What? That’s a really good way to create a terror cell, let people in your country but say you can’t work, you can’t open a business, you just have to sit over here in this ghetto, radicalizing themselves, and this is terrible, and again that’s not immigration sense, that’s just sucky state.”
“But also there’s principle here, the free movement of people is really part of what we believe in, its part of our history, and you can’t just give that up, it’s very dangerous actually to give that up cause you are really empowering the state to decide what the population allocation should look like, and that’s actually the worse concession you can ever make to reach to power.”