From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

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(MARCHING BAND ARRANGEMENT)

http://blog.mises.org/archives/005325.asp

A-Team Stands for Anarcho-Capitalism
BY Mateusz Machaj

“The A-team” supports the idea of natural law, rejects the nominalist
tradition, rejects relativism both on ethical and epistemological
grounds, supports entrepreneurship and free market, praises division of
labor and monetary economy, builds its morality on the nonaggression
axiom, rejects the necessity for economic regulation, undermines the
government itself by demonstration of its failures, and shows how
society is shaped by human action.

The “A” in the praised TV series probably stands for
anarcho-capitalist.

1. First of all, the A-team is an illegal, anti-government, underground
organization of people who escaped from prison. They are outlaws,
surely pay no taxes, and, in most episodes, the US army is chasing
them. Are these guys a band of thugs? Not at all. They are portrayed as
positive heroes and the government apparatus is portrayed as the
institution that unjustly tries to imprison them.

2. The A-team does not respect positive law, since this statist
invention is responsible for their plight. However, the whole series is
built on the idea that there are easily recognizable ethical values
that cannot be questioned by any human being, even by the state itself.
There is no moral relativism, or epistemological relativism, for we
exactly know what is right and what is wrong, and our intellect grants
us the ability to recognize it. No verdict, no bill, or no general’s
will can change that fact. Official institutions can only obscure the
nature of things, and nobody has a power to change them. This clearly
corresponds to the idea of natural law, so greatly expressed by Bastiat
– positive law that denies natural law can have only one consequence:
law perverted. Hence the A-team believes rightly that there are
universal and never changing ethical values, which should be respected
at any time by anyone.

3. One of the most famous sentences from the theme is the reference to
a “crime they didn’t commit.” During the Vietnam War these soldiers
were ordered by their colonel to rob a bank. After they finished their
job, they found out that their headquarters were destroyed. It was
impossible for them to prove that they acted as the colonel told them
to. The US government, then, decided to prosecute them for the crime.
Here we have another great example how positive law perverts the
natural law. When the individuals acting on their own do something
wrong, it is considered a “crime”. But if the government engages in
such a behavior, then suddenly “crime” is out of a picture. One of the
famous examples is of course taxation. The state takes over people’s
income without their consent, but if some private individual takes
someone’s money without consent, he is considered a “criminal”. This is
a classic example of verbal law production and a Hobbesian belief that
will can change or create law.

4. The whole philosophy of the A-team boils down to an axiom of
non-aggression. They never initiate a conquest on someone else’s
property, no matter what profits that would create. They also never
defend true aggressors. Instead the people against whom aggression was
initiated always employ them. This feature is completely essential for
them to take any challenge. In the episodes they engage in
entrepreneurial analysis to find out what is happening, who is
responsible for what, and how the aggression was started. Moreover, the
A-team is of course acting with the consent of the persons who were
attacked-unlike the state, which grants to itself a right to decide
for somebody to defend him.

5. Clearly the A-team is an example of an anarchistic creativity, but
certainly of the capitalist version, not the leftist one. The crew’s
actions are based on the advanced division of labor – it concerns
both the internal organization, and the external, since the A-team
obviously uses the external market in order to achieve its results. The
clients are mostly people who are not good in the production of
security, but instead devote their time to producing something else.
With earned income they hire people with comparative advantage, the
A-team, to protect their rightful property and lives.

6. The A-team is a type of anarchist, anti-leftist, organization that
relies on economic calculation. In a sense the A-team is a beneficial,
efficiently organized firm, which has prices for its inputs and
outputs. Every production process requires money capital so the
necessary factors of production are bought (guns, oil, people hired,
and other resources). In order for the whole process to be profitable
the A-team naturally prices their product: the production of security.
So forget the idea that it has anything to do with leftist anarchism.
This production of security is organized on a completely commercial
basis. All economic goods are scarce, so one has to pay a price for
them.

7. The anarchism of the A-team is clearly an Austrian type, not the
neoclassical. Of course goods produced by them are priced, as any other
useful service. It does not mean that at any times in any place the
A-team is acting like a neoclassical firm owner, searching only for the
lowest inputs and the highest revenues. As is mostly the case with real
capitalists, the A-team sometimes offers its services for a lower price
or even on a charitable basis. Hence we see that the crew is a clear
example of homo agens, choosing means and ends, not homo economicus,
automatically responding to price spreads. In other words, although
economic calculation is essential to their proper functioning, there
are limits to that calculation. Certain things are valued without
reference to market prices.

8. A-team successes are amazing despite the fact that the government
has outlawed them. Moreover, they are not only haunted by the official
law, but what is even more inspiring, they are a completely unregulated
organization. Think about it – they got no permission from the
government to act, no government official is subjecting them to an
official statist control, they have no accounting books and no lawyers,
they do not have to explain themselves or report to any politician.
They just do their job by producing and supplying the goods that are
demanded by peaceful individuals. And guess what? Without the
government regulation their achievements are unbelievable.

9. The A-team proves also that the so called “free rider”, or maybe in
their case “positive external effects”, is completely irrelevant for
the production of security. Statist theory claims that the production
of security should be supplied by compulsory monopolistic measures
since all the people benefit from them but cannot be excluded if they
decide not to pay. In the A-team there is no problem with that. Of
course there are certain individuals who will benefit from their
actions despite the fact that they won’t pay a penny. Any security
agency is doing a favor to a person respecting property rights even
though not every single person of that kind pays that agency. This,
however, does not change the fact that the A-team works properly on the
voluntary basis and finds its customers without monopolized use of
force. They can successfully find the clients without making their
services compulsory.

10. What follows from the above is a pro-market view of the private
business and the government production of goods, for the only thing the
latter achieves is a government failure. The A-team has to be hired
because the government, despite levying taxes, is not able to help
individuals defend themselves. Instead of efficiently chasing the
criminals, government is more interested in chasing real entrepreneurs.
Fortunately the A-team is able to make fools of them, notoriously
escaping from their custody with never-ending smiles on their faces.
The crew’s chief is Hannibal Smith, great leader, brilliant planner, a
natural elite, who constantly smokes his cigar, a symbol of his
defiance against the socialist-puritan ethos of our time.

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