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I understand that in Laissez-Faire Capitalism, the government has three branches - the courts of law, the police and the army.

In times of war, as well as in times of peace, the government thus needs weapons - for the police and for the army. My question is - should the government buy these weapons from a privately owned weapon industry, or should the government have control over this industry as part of their "monopoly" on the usage of force?

My thinking is this: if the weapons industry is privately owned, then that would mean that some random guy with loads of money can have MiG's and tanks and all kinds of combat machinery. This suddenly undercuts, to some extent, the government monopoly on the usage of force. Any person can then even have one's own army, if he has enough cash to support it. This means that he can even put up quite a fight against the government that is supposed to protect him, should he find it appropriate. So we have a contradiction - we assume that the government has monopoly on the usage of force, but suddenly someone else has enough firepower to apply force against that government and that makes our assumption incorrect.

However, if the weapons industry is government controlled, then an individual who finds it fulfilling to manufacture weapons is suddenly bound to work for the government, under THEIR conditions. It means that he can only pursue his happiness in such a way which suits the government. This is a contradiction, because the government is supposed protect rights, one of which is the pursuit of happiness.

It seems that whatever the model we choose, we arrive at some contradiction - either our assumption turns out to be faulty (that govt has monopoly on usage of force), or it turns out that the government in Laissez-Faire has a double standard on protecting individual rights.

I may be going wrong somewhere in my process of thought. I just can't see a way out of this situation. This is not to say that I think Laissez-Faire is essentially flawed and should be avoided; I just really and honestly don't understand the issue of whether the weapons industry should be controlled by the government or privately owned like any other industry.

Please tell me what you think.

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Well I dont think there should be many restrictions on privately run armies (they mght be needed for 'humanitarian aid' in other countries, toppling repressive dictatorships at the request of the populace, etc etc), but I think their actual usage should be limited. I'm fine with people privately owning tanks, but I'm not sure if they should be allowed to store them in their garage. Its a very grey area though - there's a point at which someone owning a significant enough arsenal of weapons becomes an implicit threat of force to those around them, and its hard to say where exactly the line lies. We can probably all agree that owning a sword or gun is okay while a nuclear weapon isnt, but items such as fighter planes etc could really be decided either way.

If its decided that weapons can be privately owned, obviously selling them on the free market is ok (although you might want some kind of buyer screening).

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My thinking is this: if the weapons industry is privately owned, then that would mean that some random guy with loads of money can have MiG's and tanks and all kinds of combat machinery. This suddenly undercuts, to some extent, the government monopoly on the usage of force.

The government monopoly on force also extends to protection of individuals, i.e. policing. The reasoning you are using implies that government should also have monopoly contro over things that can be used as weapons in law enforcement -- handcuffs, mace, tazers, handguns, bats, protective vests. In addition, the military clearly requires computers and software to operate in battle; and soldiers need food and water. Soldiers need barracks, which require nails. Many things are required for the military or the police to do their job. This does not mean there should be a government monopoly over nail manufacturing.

The government monopoly is about objective control over the use of force: no monopoly is needed (or possible, in a society where government functions properly) over tools needed for government to perform its function.

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The government monopoly is about objective control over the use of force: no monopoly is needed (or possible, in a society where government functions properly) over tools needed for government to perform its function.

I don't understand... what is your oppinion then of the scenario described in the paragraph you quoted?

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A proper government must have exclusive use of retaliatory force, which means that there is no room for private armies, stockpiling of weapons and ammunition, paramilitary maneuvers, etc. I agree with Leonard Peikoff that these sort of actions are tantamount to anarchy.

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A proper government must have exclusive use of retaliatory force, which means that there is no room for private armies, stockpiling of weapons and ammunition, paramilitary maneuvers, etc. I agree with Leonard Peikoff that these sort of actions are tantamount to anarchy.

So you think that the weapons industry whould be government controlled?

How then do you explain the contradiction I've put forth in my post? On what basis should the government forbid an individual to open a weapons factory?

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A proper government must have exclusive use of retaliatory force, which means that there is no room for private armies, stockpiling of weapons and ammunition, paramilitary maneuvers, etc. I agree with Leonard Peikoff that these sort of actions are tantamount to anarchy.

How do you feel about people who wish to help those living in oppressive countries? A lot of people are unhappy about the situation in (for instance) pre-war Iraq or Zimbabwe, and would like to help the people living there in a way which involves military force. Currently this kind of aid is provided through governement agencies, funded by taxation. I assume that you (and Peikoff) would be amongst the first to object if this were proposed as an acceptable solution in a lassiez faire society, so it can be ruled out without further argument. This leaves 2 options - either forbid people from privately helping out people in other countres, or allow them to be fund private ventures. Since you clearly do not have the moral authority for the former, we are left with the latter. The only question now is the form this military action should take - should governments 'rent out' the military to those able to pay for it, or should private indiviudals/corporations be allowed to mobilise armies for this purpose if they wish. There appears to be numerous problems with the first option.

First, on a moral level, I can think of no reason why people should not be allowed to use private armies in this way anyway. Obviously letting them loose within the capitalist society would be tantamount to anarchy, but there is no obvious moral problem with them operating strictly overseas. If I want to spend my money buying fighter planes to liberate people in oppressed countries, I'm not sure what business this is of yours or the governments. On a more practical level, the number of problems seems enormous. Off the top of my head, we have 1) the government simply isnt going to have the resources to 'rent out' its army to numerous buyers, without drastically increasing the number of vehicles it owns which will be very expensive, and 2) there are time constraints - waging a military operation often takes many years, and asking someone to just 'wait in line' when the people they want to protect are dying in droves isnt going to go down very well. I do think there would have to be _some_ constraints on what private individuals can do overseas - obviously allowing a few people with fighter planes to go off and bomb some nuclear power would jeopardise the security of the whole nation, so there would probably have to be some system where the military 'approves' private wars before they commence.

As a more local example of why private ownership of tanks etc may be justifiable, we can consider private security firms. Currently a lot of companies use their own private security force (composed of armed men) to guard their premises, and there is nothing wrong with this. Strictly speaking, a security firm is a "private army", and they manage to exist in today's society without anyone suggesting that they are a relic of anarchism. If a company feels that its security can be increased through protecting its premises with tanks and spyplanes in addition to simply using "lots of men with guns", I'm not sure how the government derives the legitimacy to prevent them from doing so

As David said, a government needs to claim monopoly on the _use_ of force in a given geographical region, not a monopoly on the means in which this force is used.

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So you think that the weapons industry whould be government controlled?

How then do you explain the contradiction I've put forth in my post? On what basis should the government forbid an individual to open a weapons factory?

I discussed this in some detail in another thread a couple of months ago. You can search for that one if you like. But, in essence, I see nothing wrong per se with the military contracting with private firms for design and production of military weapons.

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I'm sorry, but I do not have the time or the interest to analyze peripheral issues to the main principle I laid down. I'll leave that to someone else, if they are interested.

Peripheral? These are exactly the kind of situations which I assume people are talking about when they mention private ownership of tanks etc here - I doubt anyone is advocating anarcho-capitalism.

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I don't understand... what is your oppinion then of the scenario described in the paragraph you quoted?

At the moment, my opinion of the scenario is irrelevant, because what is most relevant is that your reasoning does not justify denying capitalism. If a man can survive by manufacturing weapons or software useable in military contexts , then it is right for a man to manufacture weapons at a profit, and two, three or a hundred men similarly have the right to manufacture weapons, or whatever they manufacture as their means of survival. You need to focus on the primaries vs. the secondaries here. A man has a right to survive -- that is a primary; the governmental monopoly on the administration of retaliatory force is a secondary, justified by reference to the primary -- man's need to survive.

The question you should ask is, what needs to be done to protect the rights of individuals from a crazed individual or group who wants to take over a country by force. Is that the question you really meant to ask?

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I think that all weapons that cannot be handheld should be illegal. The only good point about owning weapons is individual/personal protection. Which can be sufficiently accomplished with these type weapons. That is handheld weapons excluding explosives above the power of a stick of dynamite. Personal protection is ensured under these conditions. Anything bigger would have much collateral damage, and would be a public security risk.

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I think that all weapons that cannot be handheld should be illegal.  The only good point about owning weapons is individual/personal protection.  Which can be sufficiently accomplished with these type weapons.  That is handheld weapons excluding explosives above the power of a stick of dynamite.  Personal protection is ensured under these conditions.  Anything bigger would have much collateral damage, and would be a public security risk.

Why? Why not simply criminalize all weapons? Or materials that could be made into weapons. I mean, unless you can give a compelling argument that you ought to be allowed to own potentially dangerous materials. The public security risk posed by simple fuel oil and fertilizer is immense. The hand-held criterion would fail to rule out asault weapons (which I presume you would want to ban), and might not rule out hunting rifles (I have no idea if you want to ban them) -- you can hold a bazooka in your hand, though operating one that way is another matter. If you intend to restricts people's rights in the name of the public good, you need to work on developing your criteria better.

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I'm fine with people privately owning tanks, but I'm not sure if they should be allowed to store them in their garage. Its a very grey area though - there's a point at which someone owning a significant enough arsenal of weapons becomes an implicit threat of force to those around them, and its hard to say where exactly the line lies.

Let me use this statement to make a point about self defense. Adam Mossoff, the Objectivist law professor, has made this point in his essays. The 2nd Amendment is a codification of the objecitve right to self defense. This right of self defense has a certain context to it. It means you are allowed to take steps to defend yourself in time of emergencies / crises' using force proportional to the threat presented. This concept of 'proportionality' is a centuries old concept which has its origins in Roman law and has worked its way up through the Anglo/Norman common law right through to American Jurisprudence.

You have the right to defend yourself with as much force as is neccessary in the context of civilian life. This means that a handgun is practical but a Vulcan gun is not. A shotgun is practical, an Abrams tank is not. You have the right to weaponry that is fit for civilian defense, not the right to weapons of mass destruction. The view that a person "should have the right to a tank but just shouldn't be allowed to keep it in the garage" is such a Libertarian type statement that its almost a caricature. It demonstrates that unless the advocacy of liberty and rights is done in a proper philosophical context, amazingly stupid and dangerous things can be advocated such as civilian ownership of military weaponry.

Objectivism does not advocate that you can do whatever you want. It approaches things contextually. Individual rights do not allow you to scream 'fire' in a crowded movie theatre and they do not allow you to stockpile explosives.

I'll leave secondary issues like gun registration and weaponry definitions for another day. There are options with regards to these. But not to the issue of owning a tank.

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Let me use this statement to make a point about self defense. Adam Mossoff, the Objectivist law professor, has made this point in his essays. The 2nd Amendment is a codification of the objecitve right to self defense. This right of self defense has a certain context to it. It means you are allowed to take steps to defend yourself in time of emergencies / crises' using force proportional to the threat presented. This concept of 'proporitonality' is a centuries old concept which has its origins in Roman law and has worked its way up through the Anglo/Norman common law right through to American Jurisprudence.

I agree with this completely, however I wasnt talking about self defence. The examples I gave were foreign aid and the protection of premises, which is currently carried out by a private army, ie a large number of men armed with guns. Obviously a person shouldn't be allowed to drive around in an operational tank just in case he gets involved in road rage - tanks and planes are not legitimate means of self-defence at an individual level in daily life, and I never claimed that they were.

On a sidenote, I suspect you could kill just as many people with a correctly chosen assault rifle and a couple of homemade bombs as you could with a tank, assuming you went to a fairly crowded place. It's not like I'm advocating private ownership of nuclear weapons or whatnot.

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Well... the kind of weapons you would use against an individual are quite different objects to those you would use against a government. Handguns, baseball bats vs Nukes, planes, aircraft carriers, smart bombs etc. So isn't dividing weapons according to the target they were designed for objective? Because then you could say "that is not allowed as it is an anti-government weapon."

But then some would say the right to bear arms in the consitution was precisely to

give the people a last resort defence against a government gone tyrannical.

Also maybe someone stockpiling weapons intends to use them against a foreign

dictator, not his own government.

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But then some would say the right to bear arms in the consitution was precisely to

give the people a last resort defence against a government gone tyrannical.

Yes. Despite argive's claim above, the 2nd amendment was not just "the codification of the right to self defence", but was also intended to ensure that people had the means to to overthrow an oppresive government if the situation called for it. If this line of reasoning were followed to its conclusion (and for the record I dont think I agree with it but I'm not entirely sure atm), then private ownership of tanks and planes would certainly be justified.

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson

Remember that people like Jefferson expected strong local militias to exist, in order to protect against (amongst other things), the federal government. Although he lived before the time tanks were invented, I do not think that he would have opposed their ownership by militias in addition to firearms. It would certainly seem inconsistent to both advocate strong militias capable of opposing the government, while also denying them the means to do so.

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The only question now is the form this military action should take - should governments 'rent out' the military to  those able to pay for it, or should private  indiviudals/corporations be allowed to mobilise armies for this purpose if they wish. There appears to be numerous problems with the first  option.

Hmmm...Murder Incorporated. Stock symbol (Nasdaq: MRDR)

Hey...and that's just the positive aspect. Should we let people mobilize Military Force from out soil and use them overseas as they wish, you can bet that sooner or later someone will make a retaliatory strike on America - the source of the Private Military. Then, we'll have to get the Public Military involved, and so on.

This is why the use of force should be a government monopoly.

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... justify denying capitalism.

Are you sure you've read my first post entierely? My motives are not even similar to trying to justify denying capitalism. Quite the contrary! I want to prove that the only moral system IS laissez-faire capitalism. Since general principles are already known to me, I'm now going deeper into how laissez-faire capitalism would function once established. The topic was started by me, not because I want to say that capitalism is bad, but because this is one of the issues I can't resolve yet. Is it wrong to ask a question?

Had you read my original post entirely, you wouldn't make such a statement.

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Why? Why not simply criminalize all weapons? Or materials that could be made into weapons. I mean, unless you can give a compelling argument that you ought to be allowed to own potentially dangerous materials.
I would not criminalize all weapons. I need to protect myself from criminal activity. Potentially dangerous matierials? The criminals are going to have guns no matter laws are imposed, anyone who doesn't realize this is living in a dream world. Therefore I have a right to protect myself from a threat with equal weaponry. Notice how crimnals don't have tanks, and aircraft and bunker-busters.

The hand-held criterion would fail to rule out asault weapons (which I presume you would want to ban), and might not rule out hunting rifles (I have no idea if you want to ban them) -- you can hold a bazooka in your hand, though operating one that way is another matter.

I would most certainly not make assault weapons illegal. Those weapons are specifically what the criminals have. They should be 100% legal including fully automatic versions. I think you may have missed the part when I ruled out any explosives beyond the power of a stick of dynamite. I could care less about hunting. Assualt weapons are primarily the weapons that should be legal, although hunting weapons would naturally also be legal.

If you intend to restricts people's rights in the name of the public good, you need to work on developing your criteria better.

I do not intend to restrict people's rights! How can I restrict rights that aren't rights in the first place. Someone said above that freedom of speech does NOT mean you have the right to scream fire in a crowded building. Same follows with the right to own weapons of mass destruction (I know it's a cliche' but it applies) which I would consider a tank. Anything above a handheld weapon with the power of a stick of dynamite cannot be justified for indiviual ownership. Now, I do support the militias, but individual ownership is unreasonable.

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Are you sure you've read my first post entierely? My motives are not even similar to trying to justify denying capitalism. Quite the contrary! I want to prove that the only moral system IS laissez-faire capitalism. Since general principles are already known to me, I'm now going deeper into how laissez-faire capitalism would function once established. The topic was started by me, not because I want to say that capitalism is bad, but because this is one of the issues I can't resolve yet. Is it wrong to ask a question?

Had you read my original post entirely, you wouldn't make such a statement.

I did read your post. Had you read and understood my reply, you would not have posted your response to me. Since you did, this indicates that I need to be more explicit.

Your premises are wrong. The government has only a right to a monopoly on exercising retaliatory force. Your scenario disregards that fact, and substitutes an unjustified assumption in its place, that the government has an absolute right to premptively make the use of force impossible, and that assumption is false. [Alternatively, you do not realise that you must make this assumption for your scenario]. That presumption (as you implemented it) contradicts the basic principles of capitalism, and presumably you know that man is not supposed to be the slave of the state. You have adduced a contradiction: because some other assumption of yours is wrong (the one about the absolute right of the state to make rights-violation metaphysically impossible).

It is not wrong to ask a question: my reply answers the question. If you disagree with the reply, then you can say on what basis you do so. The government does not have the right to prevent people from creating products that might be used to violate rights.

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Anything above a handheld weapon with the power of a stick of dynamite cannot be justified for indiviual ownership.

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that a man needs to justify his property rights to the state. It is the other way around: the state must objectively justify any limit on man's rights.

Are you seriously claiming that a citizen should not be allowed to own more than one stick of dynamite (note: explosives much more powerful than a stick of dynamite are widely used in mining, construction (and demolition), farming (I helped my uncle blow up a bunch of stumps when I was a kid -- it's way cool). Thermonuclear devices *are* legitimate means of busting up large amounts of rock underground. Remember that McVeigh blew up a building using over the counter goods. Gasoline used the right way is a weapon of mass destruction. Tell me exactly what you plan to outlaw, and don't use the buzz-word "weapon of mass destruction". Give me a clear, objective statement of what you would outlaw.

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I agree with this completely, however I wasnt talking about self defence. The examples I gave were foreign aid and the protection of premises, which is currently carried out by a private army, ie a large number of men armed with guns. Obviously a person shouldn't be allowed to drive around in an operational tank just in case he gets involved in road rage - tanks and planes are not legitimate means of self-defence at an individual level in daily life, and I never claimed that they were.

On a sidenote, I suspect you could kill just as many people with a correctly chosen assault rifle and a couple of homemade bombs as you could with a tank, assuming you went to a fairly crowded place. It's not like I'm advocating private ownership of nuclear weapons or whatnot.

The right of self defense includes a defense against both criminal individuals and a criminal government. There is no dichotomy there. However, as a practical point, given the nature of modern militaries, it is no longer feasable to expect an armed citizenry to physically defend against criminal governments.

The way to defend against corrupt governments is to advocate better ideas and use the political / legal process as best as it can be used. As Ayn Rand said, we are not at the point reached in Atlas Shrugged where freedom of speech and the rule of law have so completely eroded that civilian rebellion is necessary. If that nightmare scenerio should ever happen then I guess what would happen here is what you described; civilians making their own weapons or procuring them from other sources and engaging in gorilla-like activities against what would then be a Gestapo-like military. The US would then resemble something akin to Palestine.

Shudder the thought.

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Hmmm...Murder Incorporated.  Stock symbol (Nasdaq: MRDR) 

Hey...and that's just the positive aspect.  Should we let people mobilize Military Force from out soil and use them overseas as they wish, you can bet that sooner or later someone will make a retaliatory strike on America - the source of the Private Military.  Then, we'll have to get the Public Military involved, and so on.

As I said in the post you quoted:

I do think there would have to be _some_ constraints on what private individuals can do overseas - obviously allowing a few people with fighter planes to go off and bomb some nuclear power would jeopardise the security of the whole nation, so there would probably have to be some system where the military 'approves' private wars before they commence.

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given the nature of modern militaries, it is no longer feasable to expect an armed citizenry to physically defend against criminal governments.

In that case you should probably petition for an amendment to the Constitution, because the 2nd amendment, considered along with the expressed wishes of the people who wrote it, quite clearly implies that private (militia) ownership of military hardware is allowed.

As I said, I'm not sure if I agree that the 'protect against government tyranny' argument is still valid in this day and age. I only brought it up because you implied that the 2nd amendment was intended to give people the right to defend themself in day to day using 'proportionate force', which is demonstratably incorrect.

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