More featuring Benjamin Marks»

by Benjamin Marks, editor-in-chief

To begin with, to clear away misunderstandings:

  1. My arguments are over how the CIS can improve in its free market advocacy, not whether they have been successful in the past. I am willing to believe that the CIS has been very influential and that without the CIS the political situation would be worse. I am not wishing to denigrate any achievements or rewrite any histories. Everyone will agree that the CIS does not have a unanimous following, that their job is incomplete and that they want to be more influential. Surely, it will be agreed that the rate of reform that the CIS has brought about is not enough to make them beyond reproach or their strategy immune from debate.
  2. My arguments are over how the CIS can improve in its free market advocacy, not whether they or a different group deserve money.
  3. My arguments are over how the CIS can improve in its free market advocacy, not whether they should have their continued existence compromised. Indeed, if the CIS cannot deal with criticism sufficiently and defend its point of view and reputation for radicalism, then, well, why blame the critics rather than the object of their criticism? (For the record, Neville Kennard’s suggestion for a radical group within the CIS was rejected.)

My three main objections to the CIS are:

  1. The CIS does not support a free-market in every area, and often endorse positive government programs. One obvious example is education (if you want more examples, just ask). My question to the CIS is: if you do not support a free-market in every area, where is your criticism of Gustave de Molinari, Lysander Spooner, Murray Rothbard, of the arguments in the middle and right columns of this site?
  2. The CIS focusses on utilitarian arguments, rather than clear statements of economic theory, legal theory and pointing out contradictions in beliefs for reasons other than utility indices. Debates revolving around interpreting graphs, surveys and happiness/wealth measures are not conducive to a final show-down type situation, but always leave the door open for counter-examples, counter-case-studies, etc. For example, a debate about the minimum wage would be better if it did not include any statistics or real-life case-studies, but focussed solely on economic theory and hypotheticals. To argue that “arm-chair” theorising is bad strategy, is to have too short a time-frame in mind and to ignore the huge consequences of bad ideas. My question to the CIS is: why so much focus on utilitarian arguments, on sinking to the level of the mainstream debate at the expense of pointing out the incorrect theories underlying socialistic ideas?
  3. The CIS does not appear to have a well-thought-out strategy, for seven reasons:
  1. They quote Hayek saying they advocate discussion of the philosophical foundations of a free society, but they do not leave leave practical compromises to politicians, like the previous Hayek paragraph to the one they quote advises.
  2. They may argue that it is unrealistic to advocate without compromise, but as the former MPS Treasurer Clarence Philbrook explained, this line of reasoning shows its ridiculousness when you realise that the most likely to be accepted and realistically proposed view is one which will be accepted anyway.
  3. The CIS treats government as though it is not a criminal organisation that through unjustified use of force discourages productive work and investment. I do not deny that government deserves a fair trial, but as the prosecutor there is no reason to hold back, as there is no line of reasoning where the evidence is insufficient, compromised or invalid, and so no reason to go for little victories, since there is no lack of the usable evidence that is required to get the big conviction.
  4. My question to the CIS is: where do you think the place is for uncompromising free market advocacy, if not in independent think tanks aimed at long-term reforms?
  5. There may well be arguments for a softly softly approach, and the CIS may well be successful in getting a following through this approach, but there are also strong arguments for a radical approach, and getting media attention from that.
  6. A radical principled approach also has the benefit that what you espouse is also, as Philbrook said, what you believe when you put it in plain language.
  7. But, in any case, have the CIS ever tried the radical straightforward approach, and have they ever actually written about pros and cons of strategy?
So you think anarchocapitalism is a crazy idea …

You might think anarchocapitalism is a crazy idea. But is your view of it well-informed? Surely, a quick browse through the middle and right columns of will show you, at the very least, that: (1) we are anarchocapitalists because we respect economic and legal principles so much; and (2) we are anarchocapitalists who do not think that men are angels. Perhaps you still think anarchocapitalism is a crazy idea, but if these two points have corrected or revised your initial objections, then surely you must admit that there has been significant change in your beliefs, and so perhaps a little more patience in maturing your understanding of anarchocapitalism is in order.

(in order of appearance on
  1. Acquiescence
  2. Why Sports Fans Should Be Libertarians
  3. Ron Manners’ Heroic Misadventures
  4. Government Schools Teach Fascism Perfectly
  5. Deport Government to Solve Immigration Problem
  6. The Drugs Problem Problem
  7. Self-Defeating Campaigning
  8. Gittinomics: Economics for Gits
  9. Exclusive Ross Gittins Interview on The Happy Economist
  10. Population Puzzle Solved
  11. An Open Letter to the CIS
  12. Principled Foreign Policy Options: Reinvade or Shut Up and Get Out
  13. WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Political Corruption Exposed!
  14. Feedback please: Is this worth doing?
  15. CIS and IPA Defend State Schooling
  16. A Thorough Review Without Spoilers of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  17. Dead Reckoning and Government: A Proposal for Electoral Reform
  18. Quadrant Defends State Schooling
  19. The MPS 2010 Consensus
  20. Slogans for Property Rights Funeral
  21. Government is Impossible: Introduction
  22. Government is Criminal: Part 1
  23. Exclusive John Howard Interview on Lazarus Rising
  24. Response to Senator Cory Bernardi and the IPA
  25. Earn $$$$$ by Justifying Government Against Anarchocapitalism: Survey
  26. Statism is Secrecy: WikiLeaks vs
  27. One question the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Greens, the CIS, the IPA, Ross Gittins, Ross Garnaut, Ken Henry, Gerard Henderson, John Quiggin, Clive Hamilton, Tim Flannery, Catallaxy Files, Club Troppo, Larvatus Prodeo, Phillip Adams, Robert Manne, Michael Stutchbury, Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt and Dick Smith are scared to answer
  28. Libertarian Philanthropists Should Exploit Tax Evasion Convictions
  29. Ronald Kitching Obituary
  30. The Minarchist Case for Anarchism
  31. Libertarianism in a 300-word rant
  32. in the news again
  33. Libertarianism In An Executive Summary
  34. The Banking Bubble Blow-by-Blow
  35. WARNING: Libertarianism Is NOT ...
  36. Would Anything Possibly Convince You that You Are Living Under a Protection Racket?
  37. An Open Letter to Dick Smith
  38. at 42
  39. "My boyfriend calls himself a Marxist and votes Labor, what should I do?"
  40. "He says if I leave him due to politics, I should leave the country too."
  41. No Booboisie at Gülçin’s Galt’s Gulch
  42. "Hey, Mr Anarchocapitalist, show me a society without government"
  43. The Three Epoch-Making Events of the Modern Libertarian Movement
  44. Government is Criminal: Part 2 - Methodological Individualism
  45. Government is Criminal: Part 3 - Subjective Utility
  46. Government is Criminal: Part 4 - Praxeological Synonyms
  47. Government is in a State of Anarchy
  48. Limited Government is Absolute Government
  49. Why the 2012 double Nobel laureate is coming to Sydney
  50. Exclusive Oliver Marc Hartwich Interview on Hans-Hermann Hoppe
  51. A Critique of the Opening Two Sentences of the "About CIS" Page on The Centre for Independent Studies' Website,
  52. An invitation for ANDEV members to the Mises Seminar
  53. Sell the ABC to Rupert Murdoch: Lid Blown on ABC Funding Disgrace!
  54., The Centre for Independent Studies new blog
  55. The Unconstitutionality of Government in Australia (demonstrated in under 300 words)
  56. The Best Libertarian Film Is ...
  57. Launch Southeast Asian Military Operations to Free Australian Drug Dealers and Consumers
  58. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  59. Hoppe's Inarticulate Australian Critics: The Hon Dr Peter Phelps, Dr Steven Kates and James Paterson
  60. Vice Magazine Westralian Secession Interview
  61. Sideshow to Dr Steven Kates' criticism of the Mises Seminar: Davidson vs Hoppe on Adam Smith
  62. The Best Australian Think Tank Is ...
  63. Announcing a new magazine to rival Time and The Economist
  64. The exciting new Australian Taxpayers' Alliance
  65. Neville Kennard Obituary
  66. Contrarian Conformism
  67. An invitation for Dick Smith, the IPA and other Walter Block fans to the 2nd Australian Mises Seminar
  68. Westralian mining legend Ron Manners of Mannkal belongs in The Property and Freedom Society
  69. What would Bert Kelly think of the Mises Seminar and Walter Block?
  70. Bad news about the Mises Seminar
  71. Gina Rinehart Fan Club gives big to Australian political education
  72. Sam Kennard wins North Sydney by-election by unanimous consent
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