“Anarcho-capitalists like reciprocity, community, family, charities, “social” organizations of all kinds. Unlike communists and most “mutualists,” however, anarcho-capitalists don’t try to fallaciously…
If your definition of mutually beneficial is merely that each party has to benefit in some way that they choose (or have a preference for) then your addition of “as long as it is voluntary” is arbitrary. Slavery and statism provide benefits that people clearly choose to take such as “food” or “welfare”. Slaves would choose to eat food that was provided by their “owners”, people choose to get welfare, and yes they “benefited” from those choices, and were still able to obtain some of their subjective preferences.
Do you see how this is begging the question?
No, you’re completely muddling the concepts here. An interaction is mutually beneficial if each party involved benefits on net from the interaction. Such an interaction is by definition mutually beneficial. So that’s the concept: mutual benefit.
How do we know whether an interaction is mutually beneficial? Costs and benefits (valuations) are individually subjective and revealed marginally by uncoerced, voluntary, conscious, deliberate human action. An interaction being accepted or rejected by free choice - being individually voluntary - is epistemically necessary to say whether the interaction is beneficial in the first place. If an action is coerced, then the choice is not free—it is replaced by an interpersonal imposition: a proactive threat of physical force if you don’t do what the coercer wants. Thus a coerced action only reveals on net whether the individual would rather be hurt/caged/killed or obey.
There are intertemporal and informational uncertainties in voluntary interaction—thus it being voluntary is necessary but not always sufficient to say that it was in fact mutually beneficial. However in coercive interaction, we can say with much more certainty that the interaction was not mutually beneficial because the coerced party was proactively forced to comply and couldn’t reveal their marginal values beyond the options proactively imposed by the coercer.
(Furthermore, empirically speaking, the coercion itself (regardless of the particular options imposed) is considered an extremely significant cost in itself by most people. You may happily sell me your cocaine for $500 upon my request, but if instead say “here’s 500 dollars, now give me your coke or I’ll kill you,” then it rather drastically changes your subjective perception of the interaction.)
For instance, someone may immediately regret the consensual sex they just had with their ex and it may be quite psychologically painful, not individually beneficial on net. However that is still very clearly conceptually distinguishable from being raped. We can say with very high certainty that on net rape is not mutually beneficial because it is proactively coerced by one party.
You are missing half the equation regarding slavery/statism. You’re omitting the most important part of the interaction—the very thing that conceptually defines those terms: coercion, the proactive threat of physical force.
Slaves indeed often receive housing, food, medical attention, education, and other things from their masters. So do non-slaves often receive these things from employers, family, friends, charities, etc. The difference for the slave is that the interaction is coercive; slaves are proactively forced by the masters to stay on the plantation, do the work, obey. The things they receive and accept are irrelevant (even if the master gave the slaves opulent palaces to live in on the plantation or something). They don’t make the interaction mutually beneficial because the slaves did not freely choose to work in return for those things. In the same way, if a rapist puts 100 dollars in his victim’s pocket during the rape, and the victim keeps it and later spends it, this doesn’t make the rape mutually beneficial.
I’ll find it hard to believe if you can’t understand this conceptual distinction.
True, violence limits peoples ability to have mutual benefits, and voluntary relationships open up choices and peoples ability to maximize mutual benefits, but this begs the question, how does this not apply to all power disparities. Violence limits peoples bargaining power, but then again, so does every disparity in power and authority.
Can you please google “begging the question.” You keep using that phrase incorrectly. It’s annoying. You mean “raising the question.”
The issue is not “violence” as such—libertarianism is not pacifism or Jainism. Libertarians are talking about something specific: aggression i.e. coercion = proactive, interpersonal threat of physical force. “Power disparity” as such is extremely vague and can mean a thousand different things. “Authority” as such is even worse. Using these terms undefined just muddies the conceptual waters.
Just because a “power disparity” that involves coercion is pernicious and opposed (e.g. rapist vs. victim, slavemaster vs. slave, state vs. subject, mugger vs. grandma, extortionist vs. businessman, etc.) doesn’t mean at all that a “power disparity” which doesn’t involve coercion is similarly pernicious or should similarly be opposed (e.g. mother vs. child, popular girl vs. loser, football coach vs. player, lab instructor vs. student, widely respected scientist vs. crank, efficient flower shop vs. inefficient flower shop, customer vs. plumber, etc. etc.). It does not mean that the latter restricts choice or in at all the same way as the former. Indeed the operation of the latter is sometimes necessary for “maximizing mutual benefit.”
If you have more money than me then you ceteris paribus have more “bargaining power” in a marketplace than me. A business with high net asset value has more bargaining power in merger than a business with less. A more popular, taller, and richer guy may have more bargaining power than you with the girls at a frat party. If some guy is short, has an unattractive face, a genetic predisposition to obesity, a dull personality, and was born to a poorer, dysfunctional family… then his bargaining power with girls or potential employees or a basketball recruiter may therefore be much less than someone else.
Life is often unfair in a grand sense. We don’t choose the circumstances of our birth, our genetic makeup, the cultural values of the society we live in, the average preferences of consumer blocs, the emotional reactions of members of the opposite sex, the functioning of our internal organs, or the astronomical mechanics of our little solar system. These things have profound effect on everything we do. These things are a given. Liberty is dealing with these givens unrestricted by the impositions of other people. It is within this macroreality out of our direct control that we can be free to choose our own individual actions (when not the subject of interpersonal coercion). It is within this that we either voluntarily interact or are proactively forced.
Interpersonal “disparities” of different kinds of “power” and “authority” are inevitable in human society… and many such disparities are quite desirable (by common metrics) for many diverse reasons. An obvious example is the bankruptcy of market firms that fail to efficiently satisfy customers vs. the thriving of firms that succeed. The opposite ideal—equality of “power” and “authority” among all people—is conceptually nonsensical and empirically impossible. Attempts to politically implement such nonsense ideals have resulted in consequences ranging from boring stagnation (e.g. Kibbutz) to incredible human tragedy (e.g. revolutionary communism).
Also, even if we accept the voluntary aspect under that definition we can think of situations that have the exact same consequences yet you would have to consider one “mutually benefically” and the other not. For example:
Situation one: Person with a gun demands $100,000
Situation two: Person with a boat demands $100,000 for the rescue another person they found drowning.
The consequences are the same, yet one is mutually beneficial and the other is not? That seems odd to me.
Person 1 is proactively threatening someone else with death if they don’t give them money. The result is an aggravated theft (or assault or murder) and person 1 is a violent thief.
Person 2, having responded appropriately with assistance to someone else’s dire plight, is now making unreasonable, unusual demands and person 2 is a dick.
The “consequences” are not the “exactly the same” (even if the rescued person does in fact pay person 2 the $100,000). The consequences of 1 will either involve “murder” or “aggravated theft.” Withholding assistance or demanding payment after assistance, though indeed potentially immoral or even criminal, is not the same as proactively threatening someone else with death. Those are different “consequences.” If the rescued person agrees to pay the boat person $100,000 for having been saved, it is indeed mutually beneficial, though not necessarily an optimal or ethical arrangement. (And realistically such an agreement would likely not be legally enforceable.)
It’s true that if you reduce the situations to a certain accounting metric, they’re the same.
- Situation 1: One person gains $100,000, another person avoids death.
- Situation 2: One person gains $100,000, another person avoids death.
Consider situation 3; a man is rescued from drowning by a sailor and out of sheer gratitude he gives the sailor $100,000. The accounting is the same.
- Situation 3: One person gains $100,000, another person avoids death.
And the accounting would be the same for many other different scenarios. You could change the accounting to read person more powerful in situation X gains $$ while personal more vulnerable in situation X merely avoids death and the results would be the same. Situations 1,2, and 3 all have important differences and conflating them is not productive. The consequences are significantly different between situations 1 and 2 just as they are between 2 and 3.
Consider an exceptionally-skilled heart surgeon who alone can save the lives of anyone with heart disease. If he does not work 18+ hours a day doing heart surgery for free for the rest of his life—and thus withholds life-saving assistance from some people—is he then the same as a murderer? If he decides he doesn’t want to do heart surgery anymore and instead retires to surf Costa Rica at age 40, is this the same as committing mass murder? Are the consequences (dying of your heart disease vs. dying of being shot in the head by a thief) really “exactly the same?”
No, quite obviously not.
Extreme example? Yes. But it demonstrates that the issue isn’t just violence vs nonviolence specifically but rather power relationships in general. Whether it be the government, racism, family, or what have you.
No it doesn’t. At all… It doesn’t really “demonstrate” anything… it is a stretching hypo indicating that someone can do something immoral or dickish without it being proactively coercive (in this particular instance, it’s still possible to be a dick after helping someone else who was in a dire position not the fault of the dick.) Not news to anyone. And extrapolation to “power relationships in general” does not logically follow at all, as millions of counterhypotheticals covering benign “power relationships” can show.
When I talk about mutually beneficial relationships the issue isn’t if anyone benefits at all, or gets any kind of subjective gain (which applies to pretty much every relationship coercive or voluntary)
No, with very high certainty it doesn’t apply to coercion. See above. And again mutually beneficial interaction means each individual perceives net benefits i.e. (benefits - costs) >0.
but if people are able to maximize mutually beneficial relationships due to equality of authority, in which there isn’t one party that can defer costs while maintaining most the benefits of an exchange due to an imbalance of power. Or if you would rather an imbalance of negotiating power.
See above. “Imbalance of negotiating power” could only be eliminated by replacing human beings with absolutely uniform robots or worker ants. “Equality of authority” is meaningless unless you specifically and technically define “authority” and “equal” and then you need to make some actual argument for why this thing will lead to “maximizing mutually beneficial relationships.” Also you need to clarify the variable you’re maximizing—are you maximizing the number of mutually beneficial interactions or maximizing total mutual benefit in each interaction or maximizing the minimum individual benefit in each interaction or what.
I agree that costs and benefits are subjective to individuals, and for that reason I don’t advocate “equality of exchange” necessarily (depending on what you mean)
In your mutualist lexicon, “equality of exchange” is different from “equality of authority” and “equality of power” how specifically?
and that is also is a big reason I favor markets, it helps peoples subjectivity benefit from one another.
Right, good, agreed.
I just think that privilege and hierarchy undermine peoples ability to match such subjective costs and benefits to their own individuality.
Great. Two more vague and loaded terms: “privilege” and “hierarchy.” Regardless, you can be opposed to the state/in favor of individual freedom, markets, civil society, etc. and be opposed to whatever you mean in particular by power disparities, privilege, hierarchy, authority, negotiating power imbalances, racism, sexism, speciesism, heightism, Miley Cyrus music, and whatever else too. The real problem comes when mutualists conceptually conflate the latter with former and pretend that other libertarians are hypocrites for not doing the same.
Last of all, the problems that libertarians recognize with violence apply to all power relationship because violence is simply one form of a power relationship, the value that they see in liberty apply to reciprocity in general because liberty is merely a form of reciprocity.
Violence is not “simply one form of a power relationship.” The defining characteristic of violence is physical harm. To reduce violence to “a power relationship” is to confuse your language.
Individual freedom in human society usually requires for maintenance some interpersonal respect for freedom. In this sense, liberty is functionally reciprocal (and like all words and morals, it’s socially defined etc. etc.) but liberty is not conceptually reducible to “merely a form of reciprocity.”
I’m seeing a pattern in your reasoning here. You keep reducing the meaning of words to only your vague and fuzzy concepts with no logical or lexicographical justification for doing so.
Libertarians are free to reject the wider context of their beliefs, just as someone devoutly opposed to racism can be a full blown sexist. But that doesn’t mean it makes sense.
Conflating the “wider context” with specific concepts or beliefs is nonsensical and no way to communicate. Racism and sexism are not equivalent “because they are both merely degrees of denying social justice” or whatever vague thing. Proactive coercion and unreasonable negligence are distinct concepts and not equivalent “because they are both just simply really about doing the right thing and can result in physical injury” or something. Coerced rape and consensual sex do not lose their conceptual differentiation “because life is unfair” or “because we don’t control the circumstances of our birth” or anything else.
None of this is productive. Just vague language and muddled concepts.
(Source: un--man, via un--man)