Open Letter to Jan Helfeld from Chris LeRoux

Revised: July 30, 2015


Dear Jan,

I watched your debate with Block, Kinsella, Molyneux and Rose and believe I can inject clarity.

The law of self-ownership (LoSO), the only social law, is absolute, axiomatic, eternal, objective, and universal. If someone violates the law, they commit a crime. If I am starving and I take someone’s food, I have stolen. In an anarchist system, I may be taken to arbitration or we may arrange restitution or one or both of us may have aggression-coercion-fraud insurance. The fact that some people feel they “need” to resort to crime does not justify legalizing crime. And poor people steal food under the present system anyway so I don’t see the relevance of the example. Has your allegedly limited government ever stopped all crime from occurring?

It is correct that non-aggression is contextual in its implementation. This means voluntary arbitration may deal with different issues differently, perhaps applying varying levels of restitution. Some of your scenarios did not have enough context for full analysis. Why could the two people floating on the raft not take turns swimming next to the raft? Whose property was it? Your example of someone putting a gun to a victim’s head and ordering them to commit violence would certainly absolve the victim of moral responsibility. But how would they know the person might not kill them anyway after they obey their commands? All of this context might affect how insurance and arbitration would deal with the matter. It is not a justification for aggression and coercion to be legalized. A self-owner takes responsibility for themselves, for instance might bring their own inflatable raft if going on a cruise. Imagine!

In regards to the predictions of gang warfare, what you are saying is that when we inevitably achieve a free society that states will arise again. For those in charge of the state are indeed gangs who extort and rob anyone within their reach and call it protection. And thus they war, to gain more tax-slaves and resources to rob. Your allegedly limited government has started more wars than can be reasonably listed in this letter and is currently occupying much of the globe. But in any case, to first achieve an anarchistic society, there has to be at least tacit consent of the majority. Once the majority at least tacitly supports the law of self-ownership, any criminal would face the full weight of their economic and social might.

The press would inform the people. All the other security agencies would cooperate to defeat the aggressors. The aggressor’s customers would abandon them and hire the “allied” security agencies. The road companies would cut off their access. The banks would seize their accounts. Vendors would stop shipping to them. People, along with security agencies, would show up at their houses with bulldozers, rifles and Molotov cocktails. In a free market there is a true ‘separation of powers’, unlike the absurd pretense that one part of the government limits the other, from whom it is paid. But trade is more profitable in the long run than force and without taxation the costs cannot be pawned off on the innocent, not to mention a free society would be operating under a free market commodity standard [very likely gold] and security agencies could not inflate. No, once humanity learns that freedom works, going back to the gang warfare of states is unlikely. A paradigm shift is inevitable.

And this brings us to your “rogue government nuke threat.” First of all, there is no reason private security agencies could not have nuclear weapons as deterrent. They would obviously have to have sufficient firepower to deal with any threat to their customers or their customers would not hire them in the first place. Maybe rail guns would be more efficient, or space lasers, or drones, or cruise missiles, or a core of assassins and saboteurs. Only the market can determine these things through the interplay of all consumer exchanges. The free market is more efficient, so there will be superior service and protection. A “rogue state” attempting extortion would simply cause all the security agencies to focus their might upon them. They might send assassins to kill them and their family, burn down their houses, sabotage facilities, sell protection to their tax-slaves, etc. It would surely be a very efficient way of inciting “regime change.”

Your excuse that if you don’t violate the LoSO that someone else might victimize you is baseless. Your ends do not justify crime. The system you advocate forces everyone to pay for “protection” they don’t want. Involuntary protection is a contradiction in terms. Only the individual can decide how much and what type of protection they want for the same reasons government cannot decide how much gasoline or beef every individual needs. Security is an individual commodity like all commodities. Only the individual can choose a protector. No one can assign an enemy for another person. Socialized arbitration and security subsidizes security for the rich on the backs of the poor and increases overall costs due to working outside the profit-loss system. In an anarcho-propertarian society, the rich would obviously hire more insurance and protection, voluntarily subsidizing the poor, especially through the security and insurance they will provide for their businesses to attract customers. And security costs will drop under pressure of competition. The wonders of the free market never cease!

You cannot enforce the law of self-ownership by violating it; you cannot limit crime by legalizing it; you cannot reduce crime by institutionalizing it. And we know socialized arbitration and security is involuntary because you have to use aggression and coercion to make people fund it. If you didn’t have to use violence, you wouldn’t need taxes. You could allow security agencies to sell protection via voluntary contract, the way all legitimate services are provided. People already pay for private security so there should be nothing astonishing about the fact that people will purchase it, particularly the rich who have more to protect and thus great interest in funding their security. Indeed, you say the people desire and thus want to pay for security. Thus no force is necessary based on your own admissions. And everyone, except the parasites, will get better service from the free market.

No one can delegate rights they don’t have. There is no right to rob and enslave, so people cannot delegate a right to rob and enslave. Any agreement amongst those who imposed the so-called constitution on the rest of the people died when they died. And even those people who did agree to it didn’t even agree what it meant. Since they had no right to delegate rights they didn’t have, let alone over the not yet even born, you simply advocate majority rule by force. The constitution obviously has nothing to do with it. As you admit, the constitution is not a contract. It is irrelevant. It has no rightful authority over anyone. And indeed that is how the government has always seen it, from the Alien and Sedition Acts, to the concentration camps for the Indians and American-Japanese, the Patriot Act, FISA, the NSA, and the secret kill lists. The majority says it is legal, so you say it is legal. Your position is one of pure pragmatism, the total abandonment of principle in favor of the brute force of majority rule. This is a default in the moral realm leaving the anarchist position clearly holding the moral high ground. The total outlaw of all initiation of aggression and coercion against self-owners is morally superior to the allegedly limited legalized initiation of aggression and coercion.

And this brings us to this silly notion of limited government. It is utopian fantasy. Government is only limited by what it can get away with, with what the people will tolerate. The rest is simply up to the state’s discretion. They write down that it is legal or just do it anyway. And even your advocacy of limited government doesn’t seem to fit with your praise of the U.S. constitution. Are you telling me socialized postal service is absolutely essential? And of course, we could go on and on citing absurd things the government does which its supreme attorneys call legal and necessary. Even if you say, “Let’s limit it to arbitration, security and defense,” protection for short, the term can be stretched to cover all manner of things. “We spy on you to protect you,” for instance. Socialized roads could certainly be justified to move troops around in “defense.” Health insurance could be socialized to make sure the public remains healthy in case of a draft. A draft could be justified to be ready for attack, ad infinitum. Protection would mean whatever the government says it means, whatever the people will tolerate. Voting merely changes the names of the criminals.

Your defense of the U.S. constitution appears even more senseless given the fact that the American revolutionaries defeated the strongest military in world history up to that time without it. If the Articles of Confederation provided adequate security, why do you support the radical expansion of the central empire that was the constitution? Indeed, why not just the original thirteen “states” and no central empire at all? Could the states not combine whenever they desired for mutual defense without a central government? Of course, they did so! You don’t really appear to be a minarchist even but rather a big government imperialist, not that there is in the end any difference. Government is a monopoly on legalized crime. The idea such a protection racket will limit its plunders and tyrannies voluntarily is insane, as is pretending a piece of old parchment signed by a few dead people and voted on by a small group of dead people is at all relevant now.

Your limited government has been growing all along with minor fluctuations and is now the largest and most powerful empire in world history. You say the people have to believe in the constitution for it to limit the government but this proves my point that the social system is dictated by tacit consent of the majority, which points out the irrelevance of constitutions. If the majority gives tacit consent to a system built on non-aggression among self-owners, we will have anarchy. Call the law of self-ownership your constitution and we are ready to roll. You often seem to confuse the moral and the practical. But there is no conflict between them.

The law of self-ownership is entirely practical. It is your statist fantasy of limiting a monopoly on legalized crime which is impractical. All governments grow and collapse because one violent intervention into the market if not abandoned must lead to more intervention. Private industry profits or goes bankrupt via the voluntary consent of all the consumers. All the great tyrannies you cite like Hitler, Mao, and Stalin were governments so I hardly see how this is a justification for government. Did the constitution stop Hitler? In what way has your government been limited? If a cancer grows from a small sore to the biggest mass ever witnessed by mankind, in what way is it limited?


Chris LeRoux



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4 Responses to Open Letter to Jan Helfeld from Chris LeRoux

  1. Vanmind May 2, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Good stuff, although … deaf ears and all that.

  2. Tim Rieker May 8, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    Brilliant! Thank you.

    “You cannot enforce the law of non-aggression by violating it; you cannot limit crime by legalizing it; you cannot reduce crime by institutionalizing it.”

    The arguments for anarchy are often this obvious, simple and logically air-tight but unfortunately Vanmind is right …. deaf ears.

  3. Christina Mendoza May 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    i was going to write exactly what Tim Rieker wrote, about this post’s brilliance, and the impact of that same quote. But I disagree that this message and similar ones are falling on deaf ears. It’s a growing movement, and I think more and more people are waking up to reality.

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