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Ep. 192 Extending AnCap Analysis for Vaccine Passports, Court Rulings, and Desegregation

Using a recent Dave Smith interview of Michael Malice as a springboard, Bob elaborates his understanding of anarcho-capitalist principles to the thorny issues of vaccine passports, court rulings, and desegregation of the Old South.

Mentioned in the Episode and Other Links of Interest:

The audio production for this episode was provided by Podsworth Media.

About the author, Robert

Christian and economist, Research Assistant Professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech, Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute, and co-host with Tom Woods of the podcast "Contra Krugman."


  1. clort38 on 04/08/2021 at 3:21 AM

    [original post had editing errors]

    As always Bob rewards the patient listener with a nuanced and explicated position that offers a lot of substance to chew on. I would like to add some thoughts on aspects that I wished Bob would have emphasized more and which I hope some listeners will find thought-provoking.

    The unreflected, doctrinal libertarian position of ‘it’s just a private company’ comes-up short of hitting the mark of describing the entities and categorical actions at issue here. The criticism of this view presented by Michael ‘Zelig’ Krechmer, David and Bob here seemed to me to skirt the core misunderstanding:

    Is governance only something that comes from something labeled ‘the State’? Is government a binary or floating-point variable? Is the Christian baker the same kind of thing as Facebook or the banking system?

    The libertarian who defends the bakery has an easy case because the baker at question is operating in a market of other bakers, and the opportunity cost to the customer of arranging alternative solutions is low. In constrast, when nominally private megacorps, or cartels thereof, engage in coordinated censorship and banning of entire classes of people, it’s not ‘the same thing, just different in degree; – it can only be truly understood as qualitatively different phenomenon.

    If Greyhound runs the only bus service in a rural town and implements an ideologically driven policy of ‘No red-headed passengers’, those passengers are presented with much higher opportunity costs than someone facing a denial-of-baking situation. Those costs can form a threshold over which it’s not possible for many individuals to cross, economically.

    Likewise, while Facebook isn’t the only social media platform on the internet, ‘a social media platform’ is NOT the service they are delivering: the service is unique access to your whole network of friends and family. You’re free to choose to use another social media network, but unless all your family and friends are as ideologically opposed to the corporate goolag as I am, they cannot deliver THAT service which Facebook does.

    (Generally, I don’t want to talk to such people, so the costs to me are negligble.)

    The next levels include banning from DDOS-protection services, domain-name services and banning from data-centers.

    The final economic attack comes from payment processors such as Visa/MC and your local bank. These networks (oligopolies, cartels) are currently denying access to 95%+ of the customers or donors of targeted publishers and authors, and this can and does kill otherwise sustainable enterprises — and people.

    The libertarian right of association necessarily entails the right of non-association, but we do not live in a libertarian world;
    * We are not just facing individual companies in an apolitical economizing market.
    * We face a cabal acting in coordination, as a de-facto governing institution, just without the label of one, without the titles and the officious public ritual.
    * We live in a world where one particular alien group has taken control of banking, moneyprinting and media, all nominally private enterprises, which together form the hidden hand of a shadow government.
    * We are presented with 5th-generation warfare in the form of economic and social sanctions, amounting to blockades. A blockade imposed on a nation is considered an act of war. Such a thing is qualitatively different than an individual provider in a marketplace choosing whom to serve.

    I would be surprised if none of the gentle readers have become uncomfortable with my characterization of a reality that doesn’t fit into their neatly seperated categories for ‘private’ and ‘state’. Well let’s put our big boy boots on now and admit, finally, that those neatly organized mental cubbyholes sometimes don’t help us much to understand Really Real Reality.

    That libertarian habit of categorizing the world into the black or white ‘private’ or ‘state’ can lead us to err, to ignore the true nature of things. The scope of human action encompasses more than merely atomized, self-interested economizing versus working for the oppressive State. Sometimes people are motivated to engage in oppression with non-state means.

    It slowly begins to dawn on us that we are being subjected to ‘5th generation warfare’, and that’s a better framework for developing accurate cause-and-effect analyses than spending your time trying-to describe this switfly tilting planet using the tools, language and framework of economics. Dogmatically presenting a theologically, racially and ideologically-rooted, coordinated train of usurpations and assaults as just ‘odd and inexplicable market behavior’ is a grave error if done unwittingly and an evil act of misdirection if not.

  2. Haryommeldo Quineopele on 04/09/2021 at 6:45 PM

    I think part of the reason why it is easy for those who call themselves “libertarians” and “anarchists” to be inconsistent on these kinds of issues is that they insist on using those words to describe themselves even though a consistent application of the principle of private property would often not result in what most people would think of as “anarchy” or “liberty”. If private property owners are able to exclude whomever does not follow their rules, then a society in which all property is private would not be completely “free” in the way most people think of that word means. A person’s freedom ends where another person’s property begins. The wealthiest people with the most property could end up acting like governments. If someone calls himself a “libertarian” or “anarchist”, then it seems like this is not something he would want. However, those who do not consider themselves either of those should not have such a huge problem with that. As Michael Malice said, an “anarchist” society would not be extremely different from the way things are now. The difference is that people would have power only over property they acquired legitimately and only over the people who consent. This kind of society would not necessarily be more “free”, but it would be more peaceful, just, and civilized.
    I wonder if those who believe in these principles would have more success in persuading people if they would explain this more clearly instead of appealing to something like “liberty” which has no clear agreed upon meaning. People will not accept the idea that governments should just be abolished. Not everyone will agree that people should just be allowed to do certain things and governments should not stop them. Instead, if someone were to argue only that it is wrong to murder and steal and that governments have no special right to do these things and they should stop, who could disagree? Anarcho-capitalism could be presented as a system of voluntary government. There would be no need to argue that governments should not do any of the things people believe are necessary, only that those who want no part in what it does should be allowed to opt out. Taxation is theft, but it does not need to be. People are not obligated to give their wealth to the government or obey any of its arbitrary dictates, but the government is not obligated give anything to the people. If someone does not pay taxes, the government does not need put him in prison; it could instead deprive him of all the benefits which it gives to citizens, meaning he would not receive welfare, “private” companies which are involved with the government would not be allowed to employ or sell to him, he would not be allowed to use government property (including roads), and, of course, he would not be able to vote. It would not be easy to for people to opt out of the system, just as it is difficult for someone to quit his job or stop using Amazon, but people would be able to do it without violence being committed against them. The few people who do would create their own communities which would be independent of the government. Over time, these communities and alternative institutions would grow and it would become easier for people to opt out of the government, until the it gradually withers away as people leave it, unless the government is actually better than these alternative institutions and people want to pay taxes, in which case there was never a need to force them.
    This would not be perfectly in line with anarcho-capitalism because the government did not acquire its property through legitimate means, but no almost no property has been acquired in a completely legitimate way; all land has been conquered multiple time. It is impossible to return all property to its rightful owner.
    If governments worked like this, the world would be anarchic only in the same way it is right now and always has been. There is no one world government. Sovereign and independent states rule only limited populations and territories, and they do not even have total control over their populations. The system I propose would not be different, except that the limited population a government rules would consist only of those who consent.
    I think the proposal that a government stop stealing and murdering is easy to present as completely reasonable, non-radical, non-ideological, and non-revolutionary. People will wonder if a non-coercive government could actually work, and anarcho-capitalists have answers. The only people who seriously disagree would be easy to portray as evil state-worshiping cultists who believe that a particular government knows what is best for every member of a particular population.
    Another way for a government to be like a voluntary organization is if it only rules a small population and area. It is easier to hold such a government accountable and for people to leave if they find it intolerable. This is why I think it is not as bad if one of the states in the United States does something unlibertarian than if the federal government does the same thing, especially if it is in opposition to the prevailing trends, as Florida is doing by banning vaccine passports
    If I could recommend guests for your podcast, Curtis Yarvin and Matthew Erickson (@realkingpilled on Twitter) seem to have reached some of the same conclusions as I have, but they do not seem interested in emphasizing that powerful institutions should be voluntary. Perhaps you could set them straight.

  3. Tel on 04/11/2021 at 6:30 AM

    When playing chess against Warren Mosler he will point out that chess pieces are nothing more than little iconic shapes, and any piece can equally well sit on any square … then he moves the pieces to wherever he wants and continues the game from that position.

  4. Tyler on 04/17/2021 at 4:14 PM

    I agree with your commentary on the optics or strategic impact or whatever of saying to Progressives “Covid isn’t real so we don’t need government intervention.” I think the parallel you draw about pro-establishment Libertarians who say to conservatives “Deplatforming isn’t real, so you don’t need government intervention.” is apt as far as it goes.

    But I also feel like my hands are tied by the need to tell the truth. We could draw additional analogies. Telling Progressives “The threat of COVID isn’t real so we don’t need government intervention.” is like when we tell them “Man-made Climate change isn’t real so we don’t need government intervention.” or when we tell them “Racism in the US is virtually non-existent so we don’t need government intervention.”

    It’s true, we could instead take the approach of saying

    “Yes, you’re right that COVID is killing 1 out of 3 children, but here’s how it can be handled more effectively by voluntary action”


    “Yes, you’re right that the oceans are going to swallow up half of the landmass of the Earth in 10 years, and it’s our fault, but here’s how the market could address the situation in ways the government won’t”


    “Yes, you’re right that me and everyone like me just can’t stop secretly hating black people, but here’s how we can fix that through voluntary action.”

    But those would be lies. And they would be lies that Jeopardize civilization in order to ensure that we destroy it on a voluntary basis. I’m as hardcore Ancap as they come, but I would not consider it a win if we convinced everyone to implement voluntary COVID curfews, checkpoints, and medical apartheid, and a voluntary regression to pre-industrial life, and a voluntary anti-white segregation. I think it’s more important for us to adamantly insist that there are 4 lights than it is to say “Ok, but if there were 5 lights, here’s how we could deal with that without government.

    • Tyler on 04/17/2021 at 4:48 PM

      That is, I would rather the public walk away saying

      “Well, good thing the Libertarians showed us the COVID threat was overblown. But if there is a real virus threat in the future, we’ll naturally have to crush some skulls”


      “Those Libertarians are kooky about COVID, but at least they showed us how we can oppress people without the government.” -store owner crosses out the 7 on his # of masks required sign and writes in an 8

    • Robert Murphy on 04/17/2021 at 8:30 PM

      Tyler, you’re totally misunderstanding my position. My approach to covid has been EXACTLY my approach to climate change. You are wrong if you say “climate change isn’t real.” Of course the climate changes all the time. Now you presumably will say, “No Bob, what I meant was, the claims that most climate change is due primarily to anthropogenic causes is not supported by the literature…” but you’ve already made my point.

      I specifically mentioned the point you are raising in the episode itself. I noted that there was a huge chasm between saying “covid is a hoax” and CNN’s description.

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