23 Responses to Repair Your Defiant Robot

  1. Andrea Shepard July 10, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

    Yeah, that was pretty creepy. That one kid in the ‘Look! We’re a happy family now!’ shot at the end had an expression on his face like Dad was holding a cattle prod to his back or something off-camera.

    Sadly, though, that’s actually rather tame by the standards of the children’s personality demolition industry. Have a look at this (part two) if you really wat to be horrified.

  2. Anon73 July 10, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    Yeah I came across this stuff a few years ago and was horrified by it. I remember having this in mind when social anarchists accused ancaps of supporting “private tyranny” since most ancaps accept families and family practices generally. If the alternative to having my kid be a pot-smoking starving stoner is to have them sent to “American Guantanamo” then I’d rather have them be stoners.

  3. Anon73 July 10, 2009 at 10:38 pm #

    Edit: The things in that link are almost unspeakable Andrea… it reads almost like it was straight out of “1984”. What kind of monsters run a place like that?

    • Andrea Shepard July 11, 2009 at 2:56 am #

      What kind of monsters run a place like that?
      Mormons, apparently (or at least conservative Utahns)
      I came across this stuff a few years ago and was horrified by it. I remember having this in mind when social anarchists accused ancaps of supporting “private tyranny” since most ancaps accept families and family practices generally.
      You haven’t been paying attention to the same an-caps I have. I’m an an-cap and that sort of “You’re a slave until you turn 18. It’s for your own good” bullshit has always been a rather hot-button issue for me.

  4. Anon73 July 11, 2009 at 4:17 am #

    I’m not sure how Rothbard was on the “slave until you’re 18” doctrine but I remember at one point he did repudiate it. Not sure about other ancaps. At any rate this is definitely a private tyranny worse than many types of statist tyranny, which was the point I wanted to make.

    • Soviet Onion July 11, 2009 at 6:59 am #

      I’m not sure how Rothbard was on the “slave until you’re 18? doctrine but I remember at one point he did repudiate it. Not sure about other ancaps.

      I think it probably has to do with the fact that since Rothbard’s paleo turn, anarcho-capitalism has come to appeal to some rather socially conservative elements on the one hand, and comfortable establishment types who just can’t wrap their minds around the concept of non-coercive oppression in any form on the other.

    • Rad Geek July 11, 2009 at 1:16 pm #


      Rothbard’s plumbline position in “Kid Lib” (1974) and The Ethics of Liberty ch. 14 (1982) is that parents have a right to set household conduct rules, as the proprietor of the household, until children move out and take up living on their own; but that parents have no right to physically aggress against children [*], that children should be able to legally prosecute parents for injuries committed against them in the name of “discipline,” that children have an unconditional right to end their parents’ guardianship at any age where they are physically capable of running away, to strike out on their own or to take up with any foster parents who agree to take them in, and that neither parents nor the State have any right to force “runaway” children to return to the guardianship of any adult against the child’s will.

      In “Kid Lib,” Rothbard aims to position his view as a middle-road between traditional coercive parenting and (his notion of) “Progressive” anything-goes parenting, with most of the rhetorical energy being spent on the latter, so he spends a fair amount of time grumping about kids “kicking adults in the shins” and discussing how he thinks that parents should insist on rules of conduct and a certain degree of unilateral authority, but that it must be on a “my house, my rules” basis and not on the basis of using physical or legal coercion to keep the child captive. But the last, which he views as “the fundamental tyranny” of the contemporary parent-child relationship, he denounces as “kidnapping,” and as “enslavement” of children by parents.

      In “Ethics of Liberty” most of the stuff about theories of parenting and house-rules is dropped in favor of a more systematic examination of children’s rights, with a long section on the violation of children’s rights by statist law in particular, with highlights on the evils of truancy and other Fugitive Child laws, use of catch-all “juvenile delinquency,” inquisitorial proceedings without basic due process rights, the parens patriae doctrine, etc. to extend and intensify the power of abusive parents over “wayward” children, or to step in if a parent isn’t vigorously abusive enough, etc.

      [*] Rothbard talks about “mutilating” and “abusing” children as aggressions and as violations of the parent’s role as trustee for the child’s self-ownership. I think his position logically implies that it’s illegitimate for parents to use any form of corporal punishment at all against children, but as far as I know Rothbard neither confirmed nor denied that in his writing on the topic.

      As far as I know, even after his paleo turn, Rothbard never actually declared that his prior position on children’s rights was false. (He actually hardly ever repudiated any ideological positions, no matter how many strategic 180s he did; just swapped out his rhetoric and tended to write a if he had never said the things that he said before.) But by 1992, mainly in the interest of demonizing Hillary Rodham Clinton, he was scare-quote ridiculing any discussion of children’s rights, declaring that children should quote-unquote “get governed by their parents,” and denouncing Tibor Machan for supporting children who sued their parents for damages or for termination of custody. (I haven’t read any of Tibor’s stuff from that period, so I can’t be sure, but from the date and from what Rothbard writes, my guess would be that this was in response to high-profile cases like Kingsley v. Kingsley, in which a child was granted legal standing to sue for a transfer of custody from his biological parents to foster parents. Anyone know for sure?)

      Anyway, after the paleo turn, Rothbard was looking to hook up with political allies who took rock-ribbed conservative positions on parental control, so all that stuff about the rights of wayward children and the use of state violence to keep children enslaved to their parents was pretty quickly dropped out, in favor of a line about the state’s meddling in parental rights, with folks like Hoppe throwing in paeans to the authority of the paterfamilias and the order of rank within the family, and the occasional supportive shout-out to the pro-child-beating conservatives from LRC.

      Of course, after Rothbard’s paleo turn, there were still plenty of other non-paleo anarcho-capitalists who differed with Rothbard and with his newfound allies on all this stuff, and who generally took something more like the older Rothbard line. (George H. Smith, for example, defends the early Spencer’s position against parental coercion.) And the decline of paleolibertarianism (both as a strategic alliance and as an ideology) since Mr. Bush’s wars and the rise of Red State America has resulted in a pretty significant drop-off.

      Most anarcho-capitalists, however, just don’t write about the issue at all. Presumably because they either don’t think about it, or don’t care, or both. Which is unfortunate but not surprising: most political theorists don’t spend much time discussing the status of children. Not because it’s unimportant to them (patriarchal authority is very important to lots of theories) but rather because they have reasons for wanting certain bedrock commitments to be left unspoken so that they cannot be identified, and without any explicit defense so that they cannot be challenged.

  5. MBH July 11, 2009 at 8:40 am #

    Makes me think cognitive imperialism starts in the family–not the state.

  6. Anti-Communitarian July 11, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    Yes, Roderick, this creeps me out.

    Reminds me of The Prisoner, episode 12 where the protagonist is forced into psychiatric hospitalization because he is deemed an unmutual in the community.

  7. Black Bloke July 11, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    If that doesn’t work: http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/103440

  8. Anon73 July 11, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

    There was a different South Park episode more apt to the “Tranquility Bay” stuff, where the kids were taken and put in a Nazi concentration camp, and another where a “Behavioral Modification Therapist” came in to take care of Cartman’s behavior by literally treating him like a dog.

  9. David K. July 11, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    Here is Hoppe’s actual view on children’s rights:

    “It is worth mentioning that the ownership right stemming from production finds its natural limitation only when, as in the case of children, the thing produced is itself another actor- producer. According to the natural theory of property, a child, once born, is just as much the owner of his own body as anyone else. Hence, not only can a child expect not to be physically aggressed against but as the owner of his body a child has the right, in particular, to abandon his parents once he is physically able to run away from them and say ‘no’ to their possible attempts to recapture him. Parents only have special rights regarding their child—stemming from their unique status as the child’s producers—insofar as they (and no one else) can rightfully claim to be the child’s trustee as long as the child is physically unable to run away and say ‘no.'” (“A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism”, ch. 2, fn. 9)

    As far as I know, Hoppe has never repudiated this view.

  10. George Donnelly July 12, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    Shall we organize a military expedition to free them?

  11. Tom G July 13, 2009 at 6:31 am #

    Roderick, have you read any of John Holt’s books ? I think they seem relevant to this discussion. Although he primarily wrote about learning theory and homeschooling, “Escape from Childhood” was more about children’s rights.

    • Roderick July 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm #

      I’ve read some of the education ones, but not Escape.

  12. Bob Kaercher July 13, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    I highly recommend Arthur Silber’s blog on Alice Miller’s writings relating to raising children and child abuse:


  13. Roderick July 13, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    FWIW, see my views on children’s rights here and here.


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  3. Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-07-16 – Credit where credit’s due - July 16, 2009

    […] that this was in the context of a discussion on the Rothbardian view on children’s rights, David K. was right to point out that the discussion needs a bit of complication — because Hoppe has actually defended the […]

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