Classic comedian Henny Youngman frequently used a joke in which someone would ask him, “How’s your wife?” His reply: “Compared to what?” When people are asked how they like the modern nation/state, you can’t evaluate their answers without knowing “compared to what?”
If you allow someone else to frame a debate, he can control what your answer is going to be. If you allow the state and its supporters to frame the debate as being between the coercive state on the one hand and the lawlessness and casual violence you see depicted anywhere without the state on the other, most rational people are going to opt for the state as the lesser of the two evils. But it’s a false dichotomy.
Some libertarians or anarchists (of various stripes) want to live in a world with no rules and no order. I want them to be able to live that way, but I don’t want my part of the world to look like that. I want voluntary order, but I want it organized by somebody other than the coercive state — and I want a choice of whose system to live under. What’s more, I want the choice to establish my own system to compete with the others if I want to.
A friend of mine sent me a link to a story that NPR’s Planet Money team did a couple of weeks ago about PorcFest, which is a popular annual “freedom festival” in New Hampshire sponsored by the Free State Project. The headline on the NPR story calls it “libertarian summer camp.” Among other things, the reporter talked about how the bacon he bought for breakfast hadn’t been inspected for safety and how financial transactions were difficult using differing systems of gold and silver. The implied criticism is that this is the way things have to be without the coercive state. Is that true?