I wholeheartedly agree, especially the bold part.
I kept waiting for PJ to finish his basic point already, and he does tend to do it through lots of seemingly unnecessary intellectual babble, and technical terms, but ultimately I think his main point was salvaged. And it's a pretty good attack on the free market, good in the sense that it completely agrees with it, but then bypasses that by looking above and beyond that "box" as he calls it. It's good in the sense that it is a great weapon in the hands of believers and seems to have the aura of thinking outside of the box, and with more depth (which in PJs mind seems to be equivalent to "broadness" and big picture thinking, not realizing this actually makes him miss some very important details). While watching occams razor came to my mind; I was wondering if PJ was familiar with the concept (though I'm sure he is). Usually when someone needs so many intellectual hoops to jump through, coming out as what appears as intellectual mumbo jumbo, it's a red flag for me.
What I take away from the debate though is recognition of the greater need to address the perception of the free market as strictly all about selfishness (however enlightened it may be), primacy of trading (like PJ said "you have to trade", which is false), and most of all the fear of failure in a market void of safety nets currently established by government. I mean, one way I can understand PJs view that there's inherent tendency in a free market that leads it to creation of governments (making governments essentially an emergent property of free markets) is this fear of falure, and the reaction to failure. Fear of failure makes people incentivized to take any opportunity they get to stay afloat or ahead which in extreme cases may lead them to break the cardinal Non-Aggression Principle. When push comes to shove, you're gonna put your needs above those whom might be violated especially if you are far enough removed from the violated ones to not be able to experience the empathy towards them. Similarly, if you do fail, and there's no safety net of any kind, and you're desperate to survive, it's not surprising that you'll under pressure develop negative traits such as anger and subsequent tendency towards aggression.
Left at that, I can perfectly see how a government or any form of institiutionalized coercion, may be the end result.
BUT, the simple fact being ignored here is that there's absolutely nothing about the definition of a free market and the NAP that stands in the way of establishing these safety nets and softening the blow of failure. If this service is such a valuable thing then by the operatives of the free market itself it WILL be provided.
That's all fine, and easily understood for voluntaryists and ancaps, but I think people like PJ illuminate the need for us to emphasize those kinds of points more loudly. Way WAY too many people view the free market as a kind of archetypical embodiment of primacy of selfishness over concern for others, primacy of trade over other human interactions, primacy of competition over cooperation etc. when this is absolutely false.
Instead of talking about a free market as a market of individuals whom only voluntarily trade and compete incentivized by their self interest we should probably talk about a free market of individuals who voluntarily interact with each other in pursuit of their self interest, but as part of that also their ideals and aspirations regarding society in general. I mean, if in this current system there are people concerned about changing the world for the better there certainly would be such people in a free market, and their hands wouldn't be tied to establish organizations (aggregates of interaction not all of which may be trade and not all of which would center on competition) that would solve certain problems that can remain in a free market without breaking the NAP, and in doing so in fact preventing these "structural pressures" from leading anyone to the point of wanting to break the NAP.
This would be a way of presenting the free market outside of the confines of the typical perception of it and in a way that addresses a huge swath of issues that people like proponents of the Zeitgeist movement have with it. It would also go to show that the free market doesn't in fact fundamentally operate solely on scarcity (really now... scarcity has been less and less of an issue, but that doesn't automatically make NAP unnecessary or voluntary interaction irrelevant) or operate solely on competition and gaining advantage etc. which are the things they believe make the free market susceptible to emergence of state.
They believe so only out of a grave misunderstanding of what a free market is which views it as far more rigid than it really is, seeing obstacles and rules where they don't exist. And WE, the proponents of the free market, keep harping on words like "trade", "self interest" etc. without realizing we are reinforcing those people's established perceptions. Our presentation needs to try harder to get outside of the box that they see us in. We need to make them see that there in fact isn't a box. Nothing about NAP requires there to be a box. There are no other rules or expectations of a free market society whatsoever other than NAP. Even Zeitgeister's Resource Based Economy based cities could be established within a free market society so long as they don't force participants in.
Really.. maybe the problem is with the word "market". It has these dirty connotations much like the word "anarchy", for some people anyway. What we're in fact talking about is a free society period. The "market" just happens to be an inevitable and necessary component of it, but it is a less fundamental component than the NAP.
All you need is NAP, and NAP creates a free society. Yes.. that also means a market. But so what.
I agree that this whole debate might be better served if the phrase "free market," which has become so loaded with baggage that people can't even understand what it means anymore, were replaced. Imagine, for example, a dialogue that was framed as being about the relationship between a Resource-Based Economy and a Voluntary-Interaction Based Moral System. I think this would help avoid some of the distraction caused by focusing on misunderstandings of "free market," it would clarify that the latter is an ethical viewpoint, not just a market or economy, and it shows much better that these ideas are not in direct opposition necessarily, but one is a particular methodology that could exist within the paradigm of the other.
About systemic violence... yes, there is such a thing. remember when you were growing up, and although everybody you come in contact with, is super friendly, non-aggressive towards you, but you still grow up in poverty, because the system steals money, from your parents, that they would otherwise spend on other things, maybe invest it in your future... and calls it 'taxation'. The fact of the matter is, this system is not a free market. It's a system based on violence, that violently coerces almost everybody in one way or the other, and there we have it systemic violence. And all the statistics he read about how terrible systemic violence is, I totally agree with those. Yeah, he can bring a hundred of those and still has not shown how this violence is anything but a result of government, and corporatism. Yes, it's bad. No, it's not the free market.
Probably the most frustrating thing for me about this debate was that there seemed to be a central argument going on but it was never really clearly articulated. Peter kept trying to articulate it but not doing so very well. Perhaps a wise moderator would have been able to focus them in on this.
What I saw was a chicken/egg debate. Stefan says that all of the ills arise from the state. Peter says - though not in these words, so frustratingly it never seemed to become the focus - that the state itself didn't arise from nothing. The state is a symptom, not a root cause. The root cause is that which led to the state coming into being in the first place, which, in his view, is an ethical paradigm that values dominance and competition. In his view, as long as that desire for dominance and competitive advantage is valued, even if you got rid of the state, people would re-create it or something like it (just as it was created the first time around so you can't claim that can't happen) or use other means to enact those values.
Stefan says the state is used as a tool to gain advantage so we should get rid of the state.
Peter "says" - far too verbosely and unclearly - that the underlying ethic values constantly seeking advantage, so the state was brought into being to serve that purpose (and is not the only thing used to serve it).
Stefan sees the state as root cause of the problem. Peter sees the state as the most powerful, but still just one, outgrowth of a dominance-minded ethical viewpoint.
I would really like to see these two talk again with a moderator well-versed on these topics and who has a particular talent for noticing core leverage point areas in the discussion that are being overlooked so they can be focused on those better.
One more point. I have constantly mentioned the book The Evolution of Cooperation on these forums. This whole debate just showed once again how crucial the science in that book is. Both Peter and Stefan want cooperation to flourish. But they differ in what it takes to bring it about. Peter even brings up game theory and evolution. That is what that book is all about. Perhaps it could inform any future discussions.