“Libertarian Anarchism’s ‘Justice’ Problem” is the current essay, slightly abridged on Praag.org. An excerpt:
To the extent the Constitution comports with the natural law—upholding the sanctity of life, liberty, privacy, property and due process—it is good; to the extent it doesn’t, it is bad. The manner in which the courts have interpreted the U.S. Constitution makes the Articles of Confederation, which were usurped in favor of the Constitution at the Philadelphia convention, a much better founding document than the Constitution.
THE SIN OF ABSTRACTION
Unless remarkably sophisticated and brilliant (as only Hans-Hermann Hoppe indubitably is), the libertarian anarchist invariably falls into sloth. Forever suspended between what is and what ought to be, he settles on a non-committal, idle incoherence, spitting venom like a cobra at those of us who do the work he won’t or cannot do: address reality as it is. This specimen has little to say about policy and politics for fear of compromising his theoretical virginity.
Suspended as he is in the arid arena of pure thought, the garden-variety libertarian anarchist will settle for nothing other than the anarchist ideal. And since utopia will never be upon us, he opts to live in perpetual sin: the sin of abstraction.
Indeed, arguing from anarchism is problematic. It is difficult to wrestle with reality from this perspective. This is not to say that a government-free universe is undesirable. To the contrary. However, the sensible libertarian is obliged to anchor his reasoning in reality and in “the nit and the grit of the history and culture from which it emerged,” in the words of columnist Jack Kerwick.
This mindset maligned here is not only lazy but—dare I say?—un-Rothbaridan. For economist and political philosopher Murray Rothbard did not sit on the fence reveling in his immaculate libertarian purity; he dove right into “the nit and the grit of the issues.”
And the “nit and grit” for this not-quite anarchist concerns the problems presented by the private production of justice.
COMPETING THEORIES OF JUSTICE
A belief in the immutably just nature of the natural law must elicit questions about the wisdom of the private production of defense, as this could, in turn, give rise to legitimate law-enforcement agencies that uphold laws for communities in which natural justice has been perverted (in favor of Sharia law, for example).
It’s inevitable: In an anarcho-capitalistic universe, fundamentally different and competing views of justice (right and wrong) will arise. And while competing, private protection agencies are both welcome and desirable; an understanding of justice, predicated as it is on the natural law, does not allow for competing views of justice. …
UPDATE I: The Great Clyde Wilson Weighs In.
Contra a few irate “readers” at WND, distinguished scholar and prolific author Professor Clyde N. Wilson had not the slightest hardship comprehending—even appreciating—the essay. He writes:
“A very fine column on anarchy and justice.”
Clyde N. Wilson.”
Jack Kerwick, Ph.D., provided good cheer with amusing comments about the creature, on WND, who had “graded” the essay (F) by passing it through some Internet auto-program, and who herself professed to read a dozen or so books a month.
Jokes aside, the essay raises theoretical questions that cannot be boiled down to, “Hey, this works here; and that has worked there; and these guys have proposed Y.” These are not questions of pragmatism, but of principle:
Does natural law comport with a vision of society where systems of law antithetical to natural law could arise and co-exist as a matter of principle? That’s the question. It’s a fundamental one.
UPDATE II: The great Clyde Wilson has been most supportive. He further wrote:
“The idiots are loud but soon forgotten. You have tackled something so basic that libertarians are reluctant to face it.
Best wishes, Clyde.”
Although it is a bit of inside baseball, I had imagined this essay was pretty basic. However, if “a,” “natural law” “to” and “the” are a some reader’s idea of five-dollar words; he or she should stay away from the Federalist Papers.