Posts tagged Anarchism

The Self-Confidence Argument

Some of you know that I am a philosophical anarchist. This conclusion is controversial: most people think that states can in principle have legitimate political authority over the people in them, and that some states really do. So no state can have legitimate political authority is a conclusion in need of some argument to justify it. I’ve tried looking at the issue a couple of ways in a couple of different places. But those are both arguments that start from within a pretty specific, narrow dialectical context. They’re intended to address a couple of fairly specific claims for state legitimacy (specifically, individualist defenses of minimal state authority, and defenses of state authority based on a claim of explicit or tacit consent from the governed). Maybe a more general argument would be desirable. So here is a new one. It is a general deductive argument with only five premises. All of its inferences are self-evidently valid, and most of the premises are either extremely uncontroversial logical principles, or else simple empirical observations that are easily verified by any competent reader. I call it The Self-Confidence Argument for Philosophical Anarchism.[1] Here is how it goes:

  1. This argument is a valid deductive argument. (Premise.)
  2. If this argument is a valid deductive argument and all of its premises are true, then its conclusion is true. (Premise.)
  3. Its conclusion is No state could possibly have legitimate political authority. (Premise.)
  4. If No state could possibly have legitimate political authority is true, then no state could possibly have legitimate political authority. (Premise.)
  5. All of this argument’s premises are true. (Premise.)
  6. This is a valid deductive argument and all of its premises are true. (Conj. 1, 5)
  7. Its conclusion is true. (MP 2, 6)
  8. No state could possibly have legitimate political authority is true. (Subst. 3, 7)
  9. ∴ No state could possibly have legitimate political authority. (MP 5, 8)

Q.E.D., and smash the state.

Now, of course, just about every interesting philosophical argument comes along with some bullets that you have to bite. The awkward thing about the Self-Confidence Argument is that if it is sound, then it also seems that you can go through the same steps to show that this argument, The Self-Confidence Argument For The State, is also sound:

  1. This argument is a valid deductive argument. (Premise.)
  2. If this argument is a valid deductive argument and all of its premises are true, then its conclusion is true. (Premise.)
  3. Its conclusion is Some states have legitimate political authority. (Premise.)
  4. If Some states have legitimate political authority is true, then some states have legitimate political authority. (Premise.)
  5. All of this argument’s premises are true. (Premise.)
  6. This is a valid deductive argument and all of its premises are true. (Conj. 1, 5)
  7. Its conclusion is true. (MP 2, 6)
  8. Some states have legitimate political authority is true. (Subst. 3, 7)
  9. ∴ Some states have legitimate political authority. (MP 5, 8)

. . . which admittedly seems a bit awkward.

It’s easy enough to figure out that there has to be something wrong with at least one of these arguments. Their conclusions directly contradict each other, and so couldn’t both be true. But they are formally completely identical; so presumably whatever is wrong with one argument would also be wrong with the other one. But if so, what’s wrong with them? Are they invalid? If so, how? Whichever argument you choose to look at, the argument has only four inferential steps, and all of them use elementary valid rules of inference or rules of replacement. Since each inferential step in the argument is valid, the argument as a whole must be valid. This also, incidentally, provides us with a reason to conclude that premise 1 is true. Premise 2 is a concrete application of a basic logical principle, justified by the concept of deductive validity itself. Sound arguments must have true conclusions; validity just means that, if all the premises of an argument are true, the conclusion cannot possibly be false. Premise 3 is a simple empirical observation; if you’re not sure whether or not it’s true, just check down on line 9 and see. Premise 4 is a completely uncontroversial application of disquotation rules for true sentences. And premise 5 may seem over-confident, perhaps even boastful. But if it’s false, then which premise of the argument are you willing to deny? Whichever one you pick, what is it that makes that premise false? On what (non-question-begging) grounds would you say that it is false?

See also.

  1. [1]I owe the idea behind the form of this argument to a puzzle that Roderick Long gave me a couple years ago.

We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn

Shared Article from

I’m Just Asking Y’all to Burn It Down

In a recent Students For Liberty blog post, my fellow campus coordinator and close friend, Wade Craig, wrote of how the torch in SFL’s logo represen…

Kelly Kidwell @

Fire is bright and full of power. Fire is ungovernable and unafraid, passionate and even angry. Perhaps most importantly, fire has no masters. To become truly free, we lovers of liberty need to push for radical, meaningful change. We must channel our inner fire to burn down that which keeps us from living as freely as possible.

Burning it down means freeing oneself from the chains of the State and the culture that allows it to thrive. It means questioning everything, not accepting things as they are, but trying to discover what they should be. Burning it down means challenging oppression, rejecting the idea that people need masters, and taking control of your own life. It means loving fiercely, living virtuously, and speaking out against injustice. Burning it down means taking the rage that you have at those that steal, murder, and enslave without recourse, and channeling that rage into something constructive. It means innovation, learning, and even a little dancing. Burning it down means spreading liberty like wildfire.

Forest fire, though it may seem vicious, is an important ecological process. It destroys the old and the outdated, and makes room for succession forests, which become vibrant ecosystems, full of new life. So too must we destroy the State, eradicate oppression, and make way for complete liberation. The time has come for liberty-lovers to shift their focus from policy-making, getting out the vote, and cautiously stepping towards small government. Let’s burn it down already!

–Kelly Kidwell, I’m Just Asking Y’all to Burn It Down
Students for Liberty Blog (17 November 2014)

How Intellectual Property promotes the progress of science and the useful arts (cont’d)

Fun fact: So under the current copyright law, almost all books held under copyright by their original authors stay under copyright for the entire life of the author, plus 70 additional years after the death of the author. For works of corporate authorship, the company that owns the copyright holds it for either 95 years from the date of first publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first. To put that in perspective, Paul Avrich’s books on the Russian Anarchists (published in 1967) Voltairine de Cleyre (published in 1978) will become available in the public domain in 2,076 CE — just over 10 years after the invention of warp drive and First Contact with the Vulcans.[1] But at least we’ll be prepared, because the first episode of Star Trek will have finally come out of monopoly a few years before, in September 2061.[2]

Abolish Intellectual Protectionism.

See also.

  1. [1]N.B.: Or, you can pirate a copy of The Russian Anarchists from Libcom now.
  2. [2]Assuming that large media companies make no efforts before 2061 to extend corporate copyright terms even further. Which they almost certainly will.

CFP: “Libertarianism and Privilege,” for Molinari Society’s 11th Symposium at the APA/Eastern Division (27-30 Dec. 2014, Philadelphia)

Can you hear that? It’s the Call for Abstracts. Your abstracts. The Molinari Society is putting out a Call for Abstracts for our 11th annual Symposium at the APA Eastern Division meeting, 27-30 Dec. 2014, in Philadelphia. Send us an abstract for a paper by 26 May 2014:

Call for Abstracts

for the Molinari Society’s Year 11 Symposium to be held in conjunction with the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division meeting, December 27-30, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Symposium Topic: Libertarianism and Privilege

Submission Deadline: 26 May 2014

In recent years, “privilege” has become the default model for most of the Left’s critical discussion of structural oppression, resistance, and challenges to social justice. Critical discourse today recognizes many forms of structural social privilege, including white privilege, male privilege, and privilege based on heterosexuality, gender identity, and economic or political class. Privilege is said not only to touch on political power but also to have interpersonal and epistemic dimensions – informing social interactions and cultural expressions, and raising concerns about the position of social critics and limitations or distortions of knowledge.

In addition, the relationship between libertarianism and privilege has begun to attract increased interest, both within and beyond libertarian circles. Libertarianism has been described both as essentially an opposition to privilege, and as essentially a rationalization of privilege. Does libertarian theory have the resources to address questions of structural privilege – especially those forms of social privilege that do not appear to derive from state action? Should it address such questions? What unique insights or contributions might it offer to critical discussions of privilege? How might an account of structural social privilege modify or develop libertarian approaches?

Abstracts should be submitted for the 2014 Symposium by 26 May, 2014. Submissions from any point of view are welcome. Please submit an abstract only if you expect to be able to present the paper in person at the Symposium. (Final papers should be of appropriate scope and length to be presented within 15-30 minutes.) Submitting authors will be notified of the acceptance or rejection of their papers by 31 May, 2014.

Submit abstracts as e-mail attachments, in Word .doc format, PDF, or ODT, to

For any questions or information, contact Roderick T. Long at the above email address.

–Molinari Society (3 May 2014), Call for Abstracts

Submit to the anarchists!

Translation of “From Chile, a pitch for the foundation of anarcho-Madurism” (Armando Vergueiro, from El Libertario)

Here is another translation from Venezuela. This was a controversial one. As I mentioned previously, many writers on the left looking in on the Venezuelan situation from outside of the country operate from a limited selection of official news sources, heavily influenced by either the ruling Socialist party or one of the right-wing opposition parties; many independent radicals in Venezuela are finding this extremely frustrating and have been trying to put out their own view of things. This here is a broadside assault by the Venezuelan anarchist Armando Vergueiro against a document from some Chilean Platformists expressing uncritical support for the Boli-Socialist government. The comments thread had drawn 75 comments, last I checked, including angry retorts from FEL and also some stinging criticisms of FEL from other anarchists in Chile.) It was posted online by the anarchist newspaper EL LIBERT@RIO. Inline links and editorial notes in footnotes are added by me. As always, the same caveats apply: I’m a nervous translator trying to keep up with a lot of regional references that I don’t always know, and moving through a lot of material coming out more quickly than I can translate it; this is a working draft; if you notice any mistakes or mangling please feel free to point them out in the comments, and I’ll attach a note or a correction to the text here.

From Chile, a pitch for the foundation of anarcho-Madurism

Armando Vergueiro

In the web page maintained by the Chilean Platformists in the Federation of “Libertarian” Students (FEL), there has been published, in a stellar plan, an official declaration from this grouping, which without a doubt will pass into history as the cornerstone of a new and picturesque version (or better misrepresentation) of non-hierarchical thought[1] It goes by the name With the Venezuelan people and against the coup movement, and it deserves that we should occupy ourselves, even if briefly, with the pearls that adorn it.

  • Out of the ignorance that only nurtures itself and gives credibility to what it sees on TeleSur about Venezuela, in the first paragraph it talks about a march of university students, from the most privileged sectors in Venezuelan society. Nobody told these comrades that today the most privileged sectors in these streets are the Boli-bureaucracy, the politico-military elite in power, their transnational associates like Chevron and Gustavo Cisneros, the Chinese “comrades” and the parasites of the old Cuban bureaucracy?

  • According to FEL, in Venezuela there is “A process of radical transformations that has bettered the life of the majority of the inhabitants of that country, above all for the ordinary people and workers.” Don’t expect another opinion from those who just read here the stuff they’re given in the waiting room at the Madurista government’s embassy in Santiago, so that it would be a waste of time to suggest they look for the multitude provable and verifiable sources that refute that propagandistic idea, not to mention consulting the dominant opinion among Venezuelans in the streets.

  • Today the Venezuelan right is trying to disable the legitimate government of Maduro in order to create an environment suitable for carrying on their plans for a coup d’etat. Apart from the touching sight of these “libertarians” preoccupied with the fortunes of a legitimate government, this is olympically detached from the fact that after 15 years, and especially after the coup attempt in 2002, the Armed Forces have been, one the one hand, submitted to a politico-ideological purge that has exterminated whatever dissidence from their heart. And on the other, being even more important, they have accentuated the militarization of the apparatus of the State, arriving at a degree where it is made incomprehensible that they should want a coup in order to displace themselves from a government that favores them with ample powers and possibilities for enrichment through corruption. If there were any such military coup or anything similar, it would be in order to guarantee their privileges and immunities even more.

  • The — FEL-istas? FEL-ines? FEL-ons? — proclaim: this attempt that today is made from the mobilization in the streets, the call to violence, the manipulation of information and the hoarding of goods to create the sensation that there’s a crisis that the government is incapable of resolving. Since they couldn’t win at the ballot-box, they are trying to pull down the government and put an end to the revolutionary project of the people, hoarding basic necessities, calling for violence and generating the environment to legitimize a coup d’etat. Once again they evince an unfamiliarity with the present juncture in Venezuela, except for what the government asserts, which is only explicable only by fanatical ignorance, out of taxed cynicism or lost innocence. Furthermore, we hold back the opinion that, as anarchists, we believe is deserved by FEL’s dismay that there are doubts about the government’s capacity to resolve the crisis. You can take our silence the same way concerning the sanctimonious indigation, with the stalest electoral flavor, against those who couldn’t win at the ballot box

  • They complain with sadness because in Chile: the future president elect and the greater part of the forces of the New Majority keep a complicit silence, or simply lament the acts of violence in an abstract way. They do not denounce those who try to hold back a political and social project of justice and equality for all, because they do not share it. At least it should be said that this lament is a truism, for how could you expect anything else from Doña Bachelet[2] and her gang?

  • In the best spirit of the Stalinist Popular Front in the 1930s, they preach: We believe to be necessary the greatest unity of the Chilean and Latin American left to sharply denounce and reject the coup movement’s attempts in Venezuela. Once more as libertarians we are opposed to this type of play from the right, allied with imperialism, to hold back the socialist project of the people of Venezuela. No other diligent student of Martha Harnecker and other classics of continental Marxist-Leninism could have said it better!

  • Continuing their tale worthy of obedient PaCos militants (or the communist party, same thing),[3] now one has to give: All our support and solidarity to the working people of Venezuela, the principal actor in the construction of socialism in their country and in which we are fully confident. This vote of absolute faith would be because whatever opposition to the sacrosanct government of Maduro, even what might come from anarchism and critical segments of the left, seeks to end the process of change that they have carried forward there for more than 15 years. No doubt, with comrades like those at FEL, anarchism doesn’t need any enemies!

  • As a glorious finish, these fellow travelers conclude with a celebration that they will surely applaud in the Venezuelan embassy, so that we wouldn’t hesitate to put it forward as worthy of airfare for revolutionary tourism to the beaches of the Caribbean Sea: Yet much is lacking, there exist contradictions and issues for debate like in any process, but the socialist project continues intact. To the deepening of the Bolivarian process, to the building of socialism.

Clearly the editors of the seeming gem will not be pleased with qualifying as anarcho-Maduristas. They prefer to call themselves libertarians, — or libertarian communists in their moments of radical emotion — when they are in Chile and the rest of Latin America; although curiosly they do identify themselves as anarchists when they come to promote themselves in North America or in Europe. All the same, it’s worth leaving them the nickname, because it fits them very well.

— Desde Chile se lanza documento para fundar el “anarco-madurismo,” (18.Feb.2014). Translated by Charles W. Johnson.

  1. [1]pensamiento ácrata, lit. akratic thought. In Spanish it is often used as a near-synonym for anarchism.
  2. [2]Michelle Bachelet, a Chilean social democrat, recently re-elected as president in Chile.
  3. [3]PaCos: a derisive term for Chilean national police or Carabineros.