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Freedom, Society, and the State

  • Freedom, Society, and the State by David Osterfeld

Tags Free MarketsCalculation and KnowledgePhilosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory

05/06/1986David Osterfeld

An Investigation into the Possibility of Society without Government

From the author:

Anarchist thought has traditionally been associated with socialism and has centered its attack not only on the state but on the market as well. Over the last two decades, however, there has emerged a notably new form of anarchism, commonly termed individualist anarchism or anarcho-capitalism which, rather than abolish the market, desires to universalize its scope. This variant of anarchism is the principle focus of this study.

When my interest in individualist anarchism first arose about seven years ago, I was what I have called in this study a "minarchist." Like John Stuart Mill, I believed that the use of force against another could be justified solely on the basis of defense. Also like Mill I felt that this force could be supplied only by government. Since I was convinced that there would always exist at least some individuals who would indulge in anti-social or criminal behavior I felt that anarchism was a naive and utopian doctrine. Nevertheless, although highly skeptical, I was intrigued by this new, free market, anarchism, which agreed that criminal behavior would exist in an anarchy but that it could be handled by competitive police and court companies operating on the free market. I decided to investigate, and this book is the product of that six-year investigation.

I have tried to present an objective analysis of the doctrine. I am aware, of course, that no study can be totally objective, yet I hope, and believe, that by and large I have accomplished my task. Objectivity, however, is not the same as neutrality. While I believe that my study is objective, my conclusions are not, in fact could not be, neutral. In trying to evaluate individualist anarchism I had to render an assessment, one way or the other.

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Lanham, MA: University Press of America, 1982.

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