Thoughts on David Barker’s Welcome to Free America

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January 25, 2012 by galudwig

So, I finished Welcome to Free America a couple of days ago and took down some interesting quotes. All in all, it was a great read! The most interesting part for me was the first chapter which describes the history of future “Free America” and which I talked about in the previous article I devoted to this book. The more theoretical chapters that offered a realistic vision of how a stateless society could not just work, but work better than our current system, were very well-written, but ultimately didn’t go into enough detail. However, the book clearly sets out to be a work of fiction which sets forth a plausible future of freedom, as well as a short introduction to anarcho-capitalism, and, in this respect, it is a huge success. It’s definitely a book I would recommend to people who (understandably) have trouble imagining a lawful and orderly society where the government doesn’t exist. On the other hand, I would not particularly recommend it to those who are looking for an in-depth explanation of anarcho-capitalist/market-anarchist theory and would rather point to the likes of Murray Rothbard, David Friedman, Hans-Hermann HoppeBob Murphy and many others for that. But, again, this is not what the author set his book out to be, and, all in all, I’d give it a very high score because of its affordable price, swift and entertaining read and great content! I’m definitely looking forward to more of Barker’s work in the future!

Anyway, now for some quotes! Bear in mind, I refrained from quoting much from his great first chapter on Free America’s history to encourage everyone to buy and read it.

In the preface, Barker writes the following,

I used one stylistic change to illustrate the prevailing attitude toward government in the year 2051 — the names of government offices and political parties are not capitalized. In Free America in 2051, government is not respected, whether it is encountered in foreign countries or in American history. Use of the lower case is a subtle but powerful way to register contempt, just as leftist scholars began using the lower case for the word “president” around 1970 to indicate their dislike of president Richard Nixon.

I liked this so much that I’m contemplating never to use capitalization for government offices and political parties either!

On why you came to Free America,

You are a part of the greatest experiment in human history –a society with rules, but no rulers. America has no government, and that is probably why you have come.

More on immigration,

Free America has no immigration quotas and no citizenship requirements; everyone has the same right to live, work, and invest here.

On a certain type of closed community in Free America and how they are allowed to make their own rules,

“Free love” communities screen residents for sexually transmitted diseases, prohibit marriage contracts, and give rental discounts for physically attractive residents.

On another one of these communities,

The founders of Debsville had a very different goal — the establishment of a socialist alternative to Free American capitalism. Leftists who were unhappy with Free America and leftists from around the world attempted to establish a city where all means of production were collectively owned.

On the importance of mores/culture, on why anarcho-capitalism does not devolve into chaos and how it could be thought of as the final step in an evolutionary process,

People in government controlled countries often express amazement that Free America hasn’t descended into chaos and violence. They wonder how protection firms manage to settle disputes without going to war with each other. Free Americans believe that our system of social organization is an advance, just as representative democracy was an advance over absolute monarchies.

When representative democracy was first proposed, it would have seemed just as mysterious to monarchists as Free America does to believers in government. Why wouldn’t the loser of an election simply assassinate the winner? Why wouldn’t the winner of an election refuse to hold more elections? The answer is that the mores of society are different in Free America than in other countries, just as the mores of successful representative democracies were different than those of monarchies.

Protection firms have become accustomed  to settling disputes through negotiation and arbitration rather than by force, and their customers and competitors would not allow them to behave differently. Any protection firm attempting to settle a dispute by force would quickly lose the support of its suppliers, partners, and customers.

A fleeting reference to horrible hyperinflations,

You will still find many restaurants and bars throughout Free America with wallpaper made of old dollar currency.

On anti-piracy technology in the absence of government-enforced intellectual property,

Anti-piracy technology is similar to government copyright protection in that it provides a temporary monopoly to spur production, but eventually ends and gives the public the benefit of free access. The most popular works earn the highest profits quickly, but they are also the ones targeted by hackers the most frequently. Less popular and scholarly works often do not merit the same attention from hackers, and are sometimes able to prevent copying for a long period of time. Many economists believe that this kind of variable-length protection is superior to fixed-length government copyright protection in producing economically efficient outcomes.

On vices and spontaneous order,

There are, of course, no laws against vices in Free America, but they are strictly regulated in other ways. Neighborhood and roadway rules, protection contract terms, employment terms, and medical insurance provisions all limit activities that were one prohibited by government law.

On how future libertarian economists might look at the Federal Reserve in retrospect,

In contrast to past descriptions of the federal reserve as a “maestro”, or highly skilled orchestra conductor, Free American economic historians use analogies such as a bull in a china shop or ra clumsy giant unable to thread a needle.

On environmental protection,

The one area where manufacturing costs are higher in Free America than in other countries is in environmental protection. Protection firms regard air pollution as a violation of property rights, and will prosecute factories that release dangerous quantities of pollution into the air. Because all rivers and streams are privately owned, property rights also prevent their contamination.

And, finally, on voting,

Voting, once considered a sacred aspect of political freedom, is now considered by many to be a symbol of divisiveness and unproductive conflict.

 

Again, it’s a great read, and, at £2/$3 (for the electronic version), it’s a steal! Give it a read if you’re interested! And if it wets your appetite for a stateless society, dive into the classics of anarcho-capitalist literature!

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