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Anarchy / Minarchy / Competing Governments

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Guest jdr18

Well, I've searched around the internet for hours upon hours tonight based on a simple question: "How is anarchism similiar to Objectivism." I've found numerous articles analyzing the differences between the two, but no specific similarities. Granted, both focus on self-interest, but I'm really looking for specifics. OH, and I'm having an incredibly hard time deciphering some of these articles I've been reading. The enthusiasm by both objectivists and anarchists is in shocking, but for someone who has been trying to comprehend Ayn Rand's philosophy for a semester...I'm lost. Thanks all :)

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Anarchism is neither similar to Objectivism nor is it a philosophy, so a comparison between them isn’t valid. Most anarchists are socialists of various sorts, and the ones who aren’t are usually pacifist libertarian hippies. If you want to comprehend Objectivism, I suggest that you study ….Objectivism.

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I've found numerous articles analyzing the differences between the two, but no specific similarities.

That's no surprise, as anarchism is quintessentially un-Objectivist.

There is one similarity that a superficial observer might perceive: That both are opposed to a big government. But that is because anarchists think they are opposed to all government.

They think so--but if you take a closer look at yer typical anarchist, you'll notice that they seem to have absolutely no problem with communist governments. Anarchists are frequently seen protesting together with communists.

The following picture offers quite a good insight into their mindset:

Banner-Anarchism.jpg

When they speak of "The State," they mean a capitalist government--a government that punishes thieves, defeats terrorists, enforces patents and copyrights, and so on; in other words, a government that guarantees freedom by protecting individual rights.

Freedom is when people don't have to worry about their rights being violated. Tyranny is when people's rights are systematically violated by a central organization which calls itself the government. Anarchy is when people's rights are violated at random by several competing gangs. Thus, both tyranny and anarchy mean a lack of freedom.

And, make no mistake, it is freedom that anarchists hate.

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There are a variety of anarchists- anarcho-libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, libertarian socialists, anarcho-socialists, etc. Most anarchists believe the existence of a government involves an intrinsic violation of rights- since a government cannot exist without expropriating property without the permission of its owners. Thus, according to anarchists, it’s impossible to exist under government jurisdiction without having your rights violated. Anarcho-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists would regard the term “capitalist-government” as being oxymoronic.

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When you think of anarchism you should see it as a wider group that includes all politics/philosophies that are against the state, and not just a particular kind of anarchism, as anarcho-socialism for example.

To an objectivist that whould like to see how the different interpretations of anarchism fits in with the Objectivist philosophy I would suggest studying anarcho-capitalism (also named [free] market-anarchism, and I assume anarcho-libertarianism is the same thing). Anarcho-capitalism is closely related to libertarianism and thus quite familiar to an Objectivist-person.

The critique I often see from objectivist and Rand herself in her writings I personaly find over-simplified, Roy Childs does make a good work at showing this in his document I will link to below. Anarchism offer many thought-provocing ideas and I do belive that even if you dont agree that society without an state is desirable, you will find the thoughts and ideas to perhaps better complement the state.

For an Objectivist that is interested in reading about how objectivism and anarchism could fit I suggest Roy Childs "Open letter to Rand" where he describes his ideas on objectivism and the state. If anyone knows about any official response from Rand or Peikoff on this letter I would be happy to take part of them.

http://no-treason.com/wild/Childs_Open_Letter_to_Rand.html

I have heard from other people that the book "Market for Liberty" also makes a similar point, I havent read it myself but from the description of it it seems interesting.

http://lfb.com/prodinfo.asp?number=LI5886

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I just read a couple of letters to Rand and Objectivists claiming to prove the floating-abstractness of the Objectivist government and doing so well enough.

However, they are based on the assumption that exercise of the right to self-defense can be an economic activity. The opposite is the case: there is no such thing as economic activity without the guarantee of rights. Economic activity is the relationship between two or more men - rational animals - which we call "society". Without reason, neither society nor economic activity exist, and slavery is all that is left. Witness the difference between ants and bees, slaves in all ways to the queen, and the highest of animals - those which have a very limited capability to reason and a very limited system resembling (but in no way comparable to) rights -, such as dolphins, apes, etc. These highest of species engage voluntarily in mutually beneficial social activity, albeit without much in the way of production.

The animals' system works because there is the convention of something-resembling-rights. Men, however, cannot exist qua man - by producing - without the absolute precondition of rights guaranteed. Men cannot produce self-defense as an economic activity without the prior condition that defense is guaranteed. Men can produce food without a prior guarantee of food, but they cannot produce the guarantee of rights without the prior guarantee of rights.

One letter gave the example that the victim of some crime could purchase the services of a defense corp to right the injury. What if he cannot? The guarantee of rights is the precondition to rational existence. Where rights are not guaranteed, existence qua man is impossible. The ability to purchase something is not a guarantee of rights and does not fulfill the necessary condition for rational existence.

Ayn Rand was right when she said that moral government - a limited, checked, and constitutional republic, based on objective ethical principles and whose only function is to guarantee individual rights - is necessary.

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We shall replace statism with voluntariasm: a society wherein all man's relationships with others are voluntary and uncoerced.

This is the classic "Why can't we all just get along?" mentality, which is a hallmark of the idealistic left. It fails to recognize the existence of evil people and ascribes all problems in the world to some unfortunate influence that has been misleading men. For some, this evil influence is the "cycle of violence" ; for others, it is money; for Child, it is government. They believe that people could live in perfect "harmony" etc. if only this evil influence were removed.

Then, when they begin advocating the removal of their alleged evil influence and some people disagree, they become angry and condemn those people. And this is where their amusing amok run in self-contradiction begins: Their premise is that all people are good, and this premise is evident in their every utterance by which they advocate their utopia, but at the same they condemn those who want to perpetuate the "evil influence" as evil. The funniest manifestation of this is "hater-hatred" : a thorough, deep-running, visceral hatred felt for anyone who hates anyone.

Since Child's bogeyman is government, he doesn't run into such a laughably blatant contradiction, but the premise--and therefore, the contradiction--is nonetheless there in his ideas.

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http://no-treason.com/wild/Childs_Open_Letter_to_Rand.html

I have heard from other people that the book "Market for Liberty" also makes a similar point, I havent read it myself but from the description of it it seems interesting.

I think Roy corrected himself on this one:

Anarchist Illusions

by Roy A. Childs, Jr

http://www.dailyobjectivist.com/Extro/AnarchistIllusions.asp

As for a reply by an "Objectivist" I came across the following:

The Contradiction in Anarchism

by Robert J. Bidinotto

http://www.vix.com/objectivism/Writing/Rob...nAnarchism.html

Do note that I think all forms of anarchism are flawed.

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I just read a couple of letters to Rand and Objectivists claiming to prove the floating-abstractness of the Objectivist government and doing so well enough.

However, they are based on the assumption that exercise of the right to self-defense can be an economic activity.  The opposite is the case: there is no such thing as economic activity without the guarantee of rights.  Economic activity is the relationship between two or more men - rational animals - which we call "society".  Without reason, neither society nor economic activity exist, and slavery is all that is left.  Witness the difference between ants and bees, slaves in all ways to the queen, and the highest of animals - those which have a very limited capability to reason and a very limited system resembling (but in no way comparable to) rights -, such as dolphins, apes, etc.  These highest of species engage voluntarily in mutually beneficial social activity, albeit without much in the way of production.

The animals' system works because there is the convention of something-resembling-rights.  Men, however, cannot exist qua man - by producing - without the absolute precondition of rights guaranteed.  Men cannot produce self-defense as an economic activity without the prior condition that defense is guaranteed.  Men can produce food without a prior guarantee of food, but they cannot produce the guarantee of rights without the prior guarantee of rights.

One letter gave the example that the victim of some crime could purchase the services of a defense corp to right the injury.  What if he cannot?  The guarantee of rights is the precondition to rational existence.  Where rights are not guaranteed, existence qua man is impossible.  The ability to purchase something is not a guarantee of rights and does not fulfill the necessary condition for rational existence.

Ayn Rand was right when she said that moral government - a limited, checked, and constitutional republic, based on objective ethical principles and whose only function is to guarantee individual rights - is necessary.

One letter gave the example that the victim of some crime could purchase the services of a defense corp to right the injury.  What if he cannot?  The guarantee of rights is the precondition to rational existence.  Where rights are not guaranteed, existence qua man is impossible.  The ability to purchase something is not a guarantee of rights and does not fulfill the necessary condition for rational existence
.

But the Objectivist state would produce the same problem. This is because "Government finance in a free society" (to quote the title of Rand's essay) would be purely voluntary. Hence, a person would only recieve the services of the government if those voluntarily donating funds to the government is willing for those funds to be used to protect others than himself.

It is possible that people are charitable enough for this to be the case, but if people really are that charitable, then surely they would also be willing to pay for the private corporation to use retaliatory force on behalf of the person who cannot do it himself.

Ayn Rand was right when she said that moral government - a limited, checked, and constitutional republic, based on objective ethical principles and whose only function is to guarantee individual rights - is necessary
Rand did not prove this at all.

Rand defined a government as

Government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area… The difference between private action and governmental action – a difference thoroughly ignored and evaded today – lies in the fact that a government holds a monopoly on the legal use of force.

This is her definition of government. It is not her view of what a government ought to be, it was her description of what government <i>qua</i> government is. On top of this, she also wanted government to have other features.

Anarchy etymologically means “absence of ruler,” a ruler being a person or group of people that exercises sovereign authority. It is commonly used, then, to describe an absence of government. Anarchism is the political philosophy that desires an absence of government. Ayn Rand's definition of government was "A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area." If there is nothing that satisfies Rand's definition of government, then government does not exist so far as Rand defined the term, and we have what anarchism may seek to establish ("may," because "an absence of government" is not the same as "all absence of government" - the term "an" implies a specific or particular type of absence of government).

Ayn Rand's definition of government allows for two particular alternatives under which government does not exist:

1) There is no institution that enforces certain rules of social conduct over a given geographic area. In other words, with in a given geographical area, for whatever rules of social conduct that may exist, there is no institutionalised means of enforcing them.

2) Institutions for enforcing whatever rules of social conduct there may be exist in a given geographic area, but they do not possess the power to enforce them exclusively. In other words, they do not prevent anybody who wants to, from establishing their own similar institution within the same given geographic area and enforcing what rules of social conduct there may be.

Notice that these examples leave open the question of whether there ought to be a single body of known, universally applicable rules of social conduct, or whether there be a mishmash of such rules, competing. This is because this issue is irrelevant to the question of whether there be an organisation that has an exclusive power to enforce these rules of social conduct or not, and so is irrelevant as to whether what Rand calls a government exists or not.

A refutation of anarcho-capitalism must be a refutation of option 2).

Rand explained why the use of force was justified - because men must use their minds in order to live; and so they must have rights to use their mind, and act on their decisions; and so they have a right to defend these rights. In order for men to act rationally in a peaceful and civilised society force has to be kept from human relationships. This means that the use of force must be suppressed: People must be prevented from initiating force. Government can have no right except the rights that people have, since governments are nothing more than people, and so all people have the right to suppress initiations of force. This right, Rand hopes, would be delegated to what she called a government.

However, this just justifies the use of force to suppress force. It doesn't tell us why an organisation should exclusively possess the power to do so. Hence, telling us why having the power to suppress the use of force is not enough to tell us why having a government is necessary. Why not have sinmply institutions able to enforce certain rules of social conduct prohibiting the use of force, instead of having an institution with the exclusive power to do so?

The anarchist argument against Rand's defense of government is essentially this:

1) The initiation of coercion and force is immoral. “The only proper function of the government of a free country is to act as an agency which protects the individual’s rights, i.e., which protects the individual from physical violence. Such a government does not have the right to initiate the use of physical force against anyone - a right which the individual does not possess and, therefore, cannot delegate to any agency. But the individual does possess the right of self-defence and that is the right which he delegates to the government, for the purpose of an orderly legally defined enforcement. A proper government has the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.”

2) Government is an institution which maintains a legal monopoly on the retaliatory use of force in a given geographical area. “A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographic area… The fundamental difference between private action and governmental action – a difference thoroughly ignored and evaded today – lies in the fact that a government holds a monopoly on the legal use of physical force”. “This distinction is so important and so seldom recognised that I must urge you to keep it in mind. Let me repeat it: A government holds a monopoly on the legal use of physical force.”

3) But to maintain a legal monopoly on the retaliatory use of force, a government must initiate coercive force to exclude competitors. It is a logical possibility that other agencies or institutions in society can use force in a purely retaliatory or defensive manner, and therefore in a non-initiatory manner. Suppression of this use of force, then, would not be a use of force that is itself purely defensive or retaliatory. “A proper government has the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.”

4) Hence, to exist as a legal monopoly on the retaliatory use of force, a government must employ immoral means. A government is defined by its existence as a monopoly. Should competitor’s exist, this defining feature would be absent, and so the institution would cease to be a government. Therefore a government, in order to exist, must suppress its competitors, which means initiating the use of force.

5) Government is thus intrinsically immoral.

6) Hence, Ayn Rand's pro-government position contradicts her basic ethics

In short, an organisation dedicated to prohibiting the initiation of force must allow similar organisations - that is, organisations dedicated to prohibiting the initiation of force - to exist in the same geographic area. However, this would result in an absence of an organisation possessing the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographic area, and so an absence of what Rand calls a government. It would thus be anarchism.

Rand said that "In a free society men are not forced to deal with one another. They do so only by voluntary agreement and, when a time element is involved, by contract." She believed this so strongly that she believed that government could only be just if it was voluntary, saying

The source of the government’s authority is “the consent of the governed.” This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose.
and,

The principle of voluntary government financing rests on the following premises: that government is not the owner of citizens' income and, therefore cannot hold a blank check on that income - that the nature of the proper governmental services must be constitutionally defined and delimited, leaving the government no power to enlarge the scope of its services at its own arbitrary discretion. Consequently, the principle of voluntary government financing regards the government as the servant, not the ruler, of the citizens - as an agent who must be paid for his services, not as a benefactor, who dispenses something for nothing.

and,

…the government of a free society may not initiate the use of physical force and may use force only in retaliation against those who initiate its use. Since the imposition of taxes does represent an initiation of force, how, it is asked, would the government of a free country raise the money needed to finance its proper services?

In a fully free society, taxation - or, to be exact, payment for governmental services - would be voluntary. Since the proper services of a government - the police, the armed forces, the law courts - are demonstrably needed by individual citizens and affect their interests directly, the citizens would (and should) be willing to pay for such services, as they pay for insurance.

The trouble is that government, by Rand's definition, can never ever be voluntary. This is government is an institution that excludes others from having the power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographic area. The result is that it forcibly prevents people from choosing not to delegate their right of self-defense to the government, and give it to somebody else. Rand’s government, in order to be a government, must prevent people from either contracting other agencies to use legitimate force in that given geographic area, or prevent them from establishing such agencies. For this reason it cannot possibly pass the voluntarist test of legitimacy. Since, in order to remain a government, the government must maintain an effective monopoly and suppress competition, government initiates force and is compulsory, not voluntary. It coerces citizens into accepting government as the only arbiter of their disputes and enforcer of their rights. In what way could it meaningfully be said that citizens are delegating their right to defend themselves to the government, when the government coercively prevents them from choosing to delegate them to somebody else?

On top of this is the fact that anybody able to use force must be subject to controls that prohibit the initiation of the use of force, and this also means institutions charged with the power to enforce rules prohibiting force. Government, being the exclusive holder of the power to enforces certain rules of social conduct in a given geographic area, is therefore free from institutional restraint on its ability to initiate force. This is because nobody but the government can enforce rules against the initiation of force, and so nobody but the government can enforce these rules against the government!

Objectivists try to counter this fact by saying that government's actions have to be rigidly defined, delimited, and subscribed. They say that government needs to be controled. Government's actions have to be rigidly "defined, delimited and subscribed" by who? "government has to be controled" by whom? After all, if government is the institution for bringing the retaliatory use of force under objective control, as opposed to simply being an institution for bringing the retaliatory use of force under objective controls, then there is no institution to turn to when the government uses retaliatory force outside of its objective standards, or even initiates it.

Indeed, "If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules," and this means an institution charged with the task of protecting men's rights against the government. If this institution is to protect people from the government, then it cannot also be the governnment. But if such an institution were to exist, though, the government would no longer be the institution for regulating the use of force, but would simply be an institution for regulating the use of force, amongst others. It would not have any exclusive power to accomplish this task, since others would also have this power. In short, it would not be a government.

Therefore,

a) Physical force ought to be kept human relationships.

;) "A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographic area."

c) "If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules."

d) Since government is exclusive and monopolistic in its nature, then were a government to exist there would be no institution to regulate government's use of force, retaliatory or otherwise.

Therefore,

e) Government ought not to exist. Whilst there ought to be an organisation with the power to enforce certain rules of social conduct, namely, to bring the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control, it ought not have exclusive powers to do this, but ought to allow other institutions to have this power, too, so that they can enforce rules of social conduct against it.

In other words, given Rand's definition of government, anarchism follows from the premise that "If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules." This is because some institution must bar the use of physical force by government, but the government would cease to be a government by definition were such an institution to exist.

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I think Roy corrected himself on this one:

Anarchist Illusions

by Roy A. Childs, Jr

http://www.dailyobjectivist.com/Extro/AnarchistIllusions.asp

As for a reply by an "Objectivist" I came across the following:

The Contradiction in Anarchism

by Robert J. Bidinotto

http://www.vix.com/objectivism/Writing/Rob...nAnarchism.html

Do note that I think all forms of anarchism are flawed.

The Contradiction in Anarchism

by Robert J. Bidinotto

http://www.vix.com/objectivism/Writing/Rob...nAnarchism.html

See Roderick Long's responses to Bidinotto here,

Part one

Part two

Part three

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Ayn Rand's definition of government was "A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area." If there is nothing that satisfies Rand's definition of government, then government does not exist so far as Rand defined the term, and we have what anarchism may seek to establish ("may," because "an absence of government" is not the same as "all absence of government" - the term "an" implies a specific or particular type of absence of government).
Here we have a perfect case study in rationalism: a seemingly rational thought-process, totally removed from reality. Mr. Garner here sets out to present an argument in favor of anarchism, not by reference to reality, but by means of words detached from their referents in reality. As we shall see, this is the only way for the anarchist to gain a hearing: once reality enters the picture, he's finished.

Ayn Rand's definition of government allows for two particular alternatives under which government does not exist:

1) There is no institution that enforces certain rules of social conduct over a given geographic area. In other words, with in a given geographical area, for whatever rules of social conduct that may exist, there is no institutionalised means of enforcing them.

2) Institutions for enforcing whatever rules of social conduct there may be exist in a given geographic area, but they do not possess the power to enforce them exclusively. In other words, they do not prevent anybody who wants to, from establishing their own similar institution within the same given geographic area and enforcing what rules of social conduct there may be.

If you've been hunting for examples of floating abstractions, look no further. In (2), Mr. Garner speaks of "Institutions for enforcing whatever rules of social conduct there may be exist in a given geographic area, but they do not possess the power to enforce them exclusively."

Ask yourself: what does it mean to say that rules of social conduct exist? And then ask, what would it mean to say they exist apart from an entity that defines, interprets, and enforces them? You'll notice that without the latter, the former cannot exist.

But for Mr. Garner, rules of social conduct just happen to be lying about, and thus anyone is free to enforce them as he sees fit. How that describes anything in reality, I can't imagine.

Notice that these examples leave open the question of whether there ought to be a single body of known, universally applicable rules of social conduct, or whether there be a mishmash of such rules, competing. This is because this issue is irrelevant to the question of whether there be an organisation that has an exclusive power to enforce these rules of social conduct or not, and so is irrelevant as to whether what Rand calls a government exists or not.
Here he's trying to clean up the mess he's made for himself, but instead he's reduced to talking about "a mishmash" of rules of social conduct "competing." Whose rules? By what means are they competing? What facts is Mr. Garner referencing? Mr. Garner doesn't say, because he can't. Because if you attempted to concretize the state of a society such as the one of which he is speaking, what you would have is a bunch of people trying to enforce their own "social rules" on each other, i.e., you would have gang warfare.

Rand explained why the use of force was justified - because men must use their minds in order to live; and so they must have rights to use their mind, and act on their decisions; and so they have a right to defend these rights. In order for men to act rationally in a peaceful and civilised society force has to be kept from human relationships. This means that the use of force must be suppressed: People must be prevented from initiating force. Government can have no right except the rights that people have, since governments are nothing more than people, and so all people have the right to suppress initiations of force. This right, Rand hopes, would be delegated to what she called a government.

However, this just justifies the use of force to suppress force. It doesn't tell us why an organisation should exclusively possess the power to do so. Hence, telling us why having the power to suppress the use of force is not enough to tell us why having a government is necessary. Why not have sinmply institutions able to enforce certain rules of social conduct prohibiting the use of force, instead of having an institution with the exclusive power to do so?

If anyone wants to know the end road of rationalism, here it is. Rather than translate these "options" into concrete terms, Mr. Garner states them as possibilities, which they are so long as they remain floating. "Why not simply institutions able to enforce certain rules of social conduct prohibiting the use of force, instead of having an institution with the exclusive power to do so?" he wonders. After all, none of those words conflict with Rand's words. It's only by tying words to facts that one sees what such a principle would have to mean in practice.

The anarchist argument against Rand's defense of government is essentially this:

1) The initiation of coercion and force is immoral. “The only proper function of the government of a free country is to act as an agency which protects the individual’s rights, i.e., which protects the individual from physical violence. Such a government does not have the right to initiate the use of physical force against anyone - a right which the individual does not possess and, therefore, cannot delegate to any agency. But the individual does possess the right of self-defence and that is the right which he delegates to the government, for the purpose of an orderly legally defined enforcement. A proper government has the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.”

2) Government is an institution which maintains a legal monopoly on the retaliatory use of force in a given geographical area. “A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographic area… The fundamental difference between private action and governmental action – a difference thoroughly ignored and evaded today – lies in the fact that a government holds a monopoly on the legal use of physical force”. “This distinction is so important and so seldom recognised that I must urge you to keep it in mind. Let me repeat it: A government holds a monopoly on the legal use of physical force.”

So far so good. But now we come to the cashing-in of his rationalistic argument...

3) But to maintain a legal monopoly on the retaliatory use of force, a government must initiate coercive force to exclude competitors. It is a logical possibility that other agencies or institutions in society can use force in a purely retaliatory or defensive manner, and therefore in a non-initiatory manner. Suppression of this use of force, then, would not be a use of force that is itself purely defensive or retaliatory. “A proper government has the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.”

I don't have all day to spend on this, so I can only indicate an answer. What's important is not so much my answer as is the approach: an objective approach.

Mr. Garner says, "It is a logical possibility that other agencies or institutions in society can use force in a purely retaliatory or defensive manner, and therefore in a non-initiatory manner."

What Mr. Garner is saying here is that justice can be cut off from that which makes it possible: rationality. In other words, he is saying that if the end result of some action happens to be proper, it does not matter how that action was arrived at. If an angry mob destroys a man accused of murder, then according to Mr. Garner, that is no different from that man being put on trial and found guilty, so long as he was in fact guilty. (Incidentally, a similar argument is used by those who say it is in one's interests to violate moral principles when one can "get away with it." If anyone is interested, I'll expand on this point.)

For all Mr. Garner's talk about banning force to enable men to act rationally, he has ignored what that requirement means in practice, because he has dropped reality as his reference point and substituted words. He has grabbed on to Rand's statement that force must be used only against those who initiate its use, stripped it of its context (namely, how do we determine if a man has initiated force?), and thrown up his hands and said, "Well, so long as the result is just, it doesn't matter how we arrived at the result." What is justice except an application of reality? Blank out. How do we know a result is just? Blank out.

I'll deal with the rest later. The important thing to remember is to not fall into the trap of rationalism: to stay reality-oriented. If you do that, no amount of verbal tap dancing will sway you from the knowledge that man needs a proper government.

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Good points, but in order to be morally correct with Objectivism wouldn't the government default to Anarcho-Capitalism rather than Anarchism?

True, but anarcho-capitalism is a variety of anarchism, so what I said is still generally accurate. Also, in any free society, any idiots who want to get together and start communes and fruitlessly experiment with communism will be able to, so long as they do so only with the property of those consenting to it. Thats what socialist anarchists forget: Private property allows individuals to start communes or co-operatives if they want to, but socialism forbids people from engaging in capitalism if they want to.

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Here we have a perfect case study in rationalism: a seemingly rational thought-process, totally removed from reality.  Mr. Garner here sets out to present an argument in favor of anarchism, not by reference to reality, but by means of words detached from their referents in reality.  As we shall see, this is the only way for the anarchist to gain a hearing: once reality enters the picture, he's finished.
My argument was based on the logic of Rand's argument, and so no referrence to "reality" was necessary in order to show why Rand had failed to justify the existence of a government over anarchism. Nowhere in here essay did she argue that the justice of government depends on its practical necessity, and it is fortunate that she didn't, since such utilitarian pragmatism falls outside her philosophy.

For arguments grounded in reality, sheck out Bruce Benson's writings, or the first volume of FA Hayek's Law, Legislation and Liberty.

Ask yourself: what does it mean to say that rules of social conduct exist?  And then ask, what would it mean to say they exist apart from an entity that defines, interprets, and enforces them?  You'll notice that without the latter, the former cannot exist. 

But for Mr. Garner, rules of social conduct just happen to be lying about, and thus anyone is free to enforce them as he sees fit.  How that describes anything in reality, I can't imagine.

So my flaw is in not saying where the "certain rules of social conduct" come from? Well then, this is Rand's flaw too. She defined government as an institution as "an institution with the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct within a given geographic area." This definition says nothing about who or what provides the rules of social conduct - it certainly does not say that government is the institution that produces rules of social conduct. We know that government is not the only source of law in society simply by looking at society and history: Not all laws are produced through legislation. Neither are all laws judged in government courts in society - private arbitration is widespread. Neither are all laws enforced by the government.

Here he's trying to clean up the mess he's made for himself, but instead he's reduced to talking about "a mishmash" of rules of social conduct "competing."  Whose rules?  By what means are they competing?  What facts is Mr. Garner referencing?  Mr. Garner doesn't say, because he can't.  Because if you attempted to concretize the state of a society such as the one of which he is speaking, what you would have is a bunch of people trying to enforce their own "social rules" on each other, i.e., you would have gang warfare.

First of all I said that it was irrelevent as to whether there was only one body of legal rules, or whether there was more than one in the same geographic area. What is in question is whether there is an institution with the exclusive power to enforce them or not.

However, why not address the possibility of different people within the same geographic area being subject to different sets of laws? Jan Narveson writes:

Part of our idea of the law is that it should be authoritative over everyone in the geographical area occupied by the society whose law it is. We should ask a few questions about this. (1) Which "geographical area"? There is no coherent principle for drawing the boundaries of nation-states in the modern sense of the term; and if we take seriously the idea that every individual has the ultimate rights and that collectives are legitimate only if they are associations rather than forced collectivities, then this purely definitional attribute of law is seen to have no interest whatever for establishing whether or not a given person should be subject to a given law. (2) And then, is geographical continuity actually necessary? If we look again at associations, what we will find is that highly discontinuous associations nevertheless have rules and regulations and succeed sufficiently in enforcing them, the primary enforcement proceedure being simply ejection from the association.

This raises the question of whether a society could be fully anarchic with respect to law. Could different sets of individuals intermixed in the same geographical area be subject to very different sets of "laws"? Up to a point, there is no doubt that they can, since to a degree they actually are. Different religious communities, for instance, can interlace and yet impose very different requirements on their members. Are these actually "laws," though? They certainly have some of the characteristics of law as we understand it. Those rules generality and authority over those groups whose laws they are. Consequently, their members can use them to settle disputes by the process of weighing claims in the light of the rules in question, with appointed judges to engage in the weighing process.

What these partial sets of laws have in common is that they lack supreme authority over all, whether the individual has volunteered coverage or not.

Now you say "what you would have is a bunch of people trying to enforce their own "social rules" on each other, i.e., you would have gang warfare." The question is what happens when one person subscribing to one legal system gets into a dispute with someone subscribing to another.

However, I can ask you the same question: DPW, what will you do under your system when one person from one legal system gets into a dispute with someone from another? What would happen if Bob from Washington feels that Mr Mbecki in Kenya has violated his rights and wants his government to take proceedings against Mr Mbecki, only to find that according to Kenyan law, Mbecki has done nothing illegal, and so the Kenyan government refuses to allow Bob's government to take proceedings against Mbecki. After all, under your system what you would have is a bunch of governments trying to enforce their own "social rules" on the people of another other, i.e., you would have gang warfare.

You see, we already have a situation where people from legal system can get into a dispute with people from others; people from California can get into a dispute with people from Florida; people from different countries can get into disputes; etc. etc. So your criticisms fall just as heavily on you as they do on the anarcho-capitalists.

What Mr. Garner is saying here is that justice can be cut off from that which makes it possible: rationality.  In other words, he is saying that if the end result of some action happens to be proper, it does not matter how that action was arrived at.  If an angry mob destroys a man accused of murder, then according to Mr. Garner, that is no different from that man being put on trial and found guilty, so long as he was in fact guilty.  (Incidentally, a similar argument is used by those who say it is in one's interests to violate moral principles when one can "get away with it."  If anyone is interested, I'll expand on this point.)

I didn't say this anywhere at all. I firmly reject the type of consequentialism you accuse me of: the propriety of an end depends entirely on how it was achieved. I also wholeheartedly deny that simply being accused by a lynch mob is the same as being put on trial and found guilty. I never said anything you accuse me of above, and your attempts to say I did just show how incapable of intellectual discourse you are.

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Don, you've defeated your apponent eloquently. Nothing is left for anarchistic theory to speak-of once it is properly identified for what it really is, which is a theory that is "totally removed from reality."

Rand answered all of those rationalistic arguments in her essay "The Nature of Government".

One point I'd like to clarify which is the basis for Mr. Garner assumptions is his false definition for anarchy:

He writes that the term 'Anarchy' means the “absence of ruler". that is incorrect.

The right definition is : "The absence of organized government." (Oxford dic.)

It would have been reasonable to assume that Mr. Garner simply confused the term 'Government' with 'Ruler.' But, amazingly enough, he DOES KNOW the difference. To those who missed it, He actually quotes Ayn Rand on this issue (and left it as only a sideline issue):

The source of the government’s authority is “the consent of the governed.” This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose

(Taken from Rand's VOS 129, 'The Nature of Goverment,' emphasis mine).

Things did not exactly work out as planned. In place of the astonished but eager acceptance of my argument—and there was some minor hope on my part for that result—I received notice in my mailbox of the cancellation of my subscription to Ayn Rand's magazine, The Objectivist.
(Anarchist Illusions

by Roy A. Childs, Jr.)

;) Evil is impotent? I think so!

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As a rule, I don't debate anarchists. But Mr. Garner raises some points I would like to respond to for the benefit of any Objectivist who may find himself unable to answer these points.

My argument was based on the logic of Rand's argument, and so no referrence to "reality" was necessary in order to show why Rand had failed to justify the existence of a government over anarchism. Nowhere in here essay did she argue that the justice of government depends on its practical necessity, and it is fortunate that she didn't, since such utilitarian pragmatism falls outside her philosophy.
Of course that wasn't my point at all. My point was that to understand the logic of Rand's argument, one has to look at the facts she is referencing rather than the words.

Furthermore, Rand's argument for government is based precisely on government's practical necessity, but this is not an example of utilitarian pragmatism. Rather, it is an example of the practical implementation of a principle. Her argument was that the protection of individual rights requires a limited government, which she established inductively - not by deducing conclusions from defintions, as Mr. Garner seems to think.

If you will recall, in my previous post, I mentioned that Mr. Garner was making the same error as those who say it is one's interest to violate one's principles when one can get away with it. Here we see that same error again: a dichotomy between principles and practicality. But there is no such dichotomy. It is not justice or government, but justice with government.

So my flaw is in not saying where the "certain rules of social conduct" come from? Well then, this is Rand's flaw too. She defined government as an institution as "an institution with the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct within a given geographic area." This definition says nothing about who or what provides the rules of social conduct - it certainly does not say that government is the institution that produces rules of social conduct.

As one former President would say: There you go again. One of the sure signs of rationalism is constant refrain of, "But it's not in the definition!" A definition identifies the distinguishing characteristic(s) of a concept - its function is as a pointer: it keeps our concepts distinct so that we can identify the referents of the relevant concept, that is, the things in reality to which our concepts refer. A definition does not list ALL the characteristics of the concept's units. That would defeat its function.

This poses a real problem for rationalists. Since they deal with words, not with facts, they are helpless when the relevant facts aren't named in the definition.

We know that government is not the only source of law in society simply by looking at society and history: Not all laws are produced through legislation. Neither are all laws judged in government courts in society - private arbitration is widespread. Neither are all laws enforced by the government.

Finally, we're talking about reality rather than words. But notice that once Mr. Garner tries to focus on reality, he flounders. Remember that Mr. Garner's purpose is to refute the claim (which I didn't make) that government produces all rules of social conduct. But rather than argue about that, observe instead his attempt to make this argument.

He states that government is not the only soure of law in society, and as evidence he references three facts:

(1) "Not all laws are produced through legislation." This of course doesn't prove his case, since the initial claim was not that all laws are produced by legislation, but that all laws are produced by government.

(2) "Neither are all laws judged in government courts in society - private arbitration is widespread." This of course doesn't prove his case either. One, because the intial claim was that government produces all laws, and two, private arbitration cannot enforce its findings through force.

(3) "Neither are all laws enforced by the government." This of course doesn't prove his case either, because, once again, the original claim was that government produces all law. But beyond that, I'm not sure what enforcement Mr. Garner is referring to. The question, however, isn't: does the government allow enforcement of certain laws under circumstances? That's just the anarchist being dishonest. The question is: who has the authority to decide issues of force? The anarchist says that anyone has the right to decide issues of force. The Objectivist says that right must be delegated to a proper government if a man wishes to live in society because he has no right to impose his view of justice on other men.

Now you say "what you would have is a bunch of people trying to enforce their own "social rules" on each other, i.e., you would have gang warfare." The question is what happens when one person subscribing to one legal system gets into a dispute with someone subscribing to another.

However, I can ask you the same question: DPW, what will you do under your system when one person from one legal system gets into a dispute with someone from another? What would happen if Bob from Washington feels that Mr Mbecki in Kenya has violated his rights and wants his government to take proceedings against Mr Mbecki, only to find that according to Kenyan law, Mbecki has done nothing illegal, and so the Kenyan government refuses to allow Bob's government to take proceedings against Mbecki. After all, under your system what you would have is a bunch of governments trying to enforce their own "social rules" on the people of another other, i.e., you would have gang warfare.

You see, we already have a situation where people from legal system can get into a dispute with people from others; people from California can get into a dispute with people from Florida; people from different countries can get into disputes; etc. etc. So your criticisms fall just as heavily on you as they do on the anarcho-capitalists.

This is a favorite of anarchists: a false analogy between anarchy and multiple governments. Only a rationalist could fail to see the difference. Let's ignore that fact of geographically defined sphere's of power, which is essential to the functioning of multiple governments, and let's forget the fact that multiple governments do go to war (thus making Mr. Garner's analogy prove my point), and let's consider the more basic question: what gives rise to the question of rights?

As Rand pointed out, on a desert island, the question of rights would not arise, even if other men were living there. It is only in the context of a complex society that the question of rights arises, and therefore the need for government. If instead of, what, a couple hundred countries, there were thousands, multiple governments would likely run into the same problem as individuals and would have to have some kind of meta-government which would act as a final authority on matters of foce between nations. In other words, this is stirctly a numbers game.

As rationalists are fond of saying:

Q

E

D

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In an Objectivist society, why not go the entire path to privatization and close down the state-run police, army, and courts?

It seems to be the case for Galt's Gulch, why not apply it in a new society either in America or perhaps elsewhere (revolutions not withstanding)?

Arbitration for corporations already replaces costly state-run court cases, and security forces already exist for private houses and corpoorate buildings.

And since all forms of initating force have been abolished (in the Objectivist society), why not simply extend the reach of these voluntary contracts to these 3 functions?

I know that Miss Rand said very explicitly that police, military, and the courts are the only jurisdictions of the state. But she also said that political power (that of the state) is always forceful, never voluntary.

Why can the state's functions not be privatized? Or is this statement not valid anymore (such as Rand's statement of the "immorality" of homosexuality)?

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One extremely dire reason is that anarchism is against objectivist ethics. Anarchism is a trend that would only appeal to moral relativists, people who think that law is arbitrary and all it takes is a majority to declare rape a perfectly legal function. Ayn Rand was a moral absolutist and like any moral absolutist would say: we need government to be monopolised and law to be objective, otherwise your left at the mercy of the majority of incompetent fools. You should probably click the link for more specifics.

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...us_libertarians

As far as Galt's Gulch goes, that was a very small population of brilliant inovative individuals and, by the way, they wern't in anarchy because they had objective law. Remember, everybody had to swear an oath before entrance. They didn't have a free market of competing courts, they had one court and judge Narragansett was the only judge to enforce the only law of the land. People in Galts Gulch were not allowed to buy law like they would in anarchy.

Edited by Miles White

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What is a moral absolutist and why do you say Rand was one?

That jumped out at me too. I am not sure I would describe her this way. If I understand it correctly (and further if I can explain my understanding correctly without accidentally using words that will make me sound like an intrinsicist), Ayn Rand (hence Objectivism) holds that morality is objective, i.e., tied to the facts of reality via the standard of values. It is the full situation you are in that will tell you whether an action is moral or not, and simple rules will tend to have the problem of any "one size fits all" pronouncment--they will lead to absurd results if the situation is slightly unusual (example below if you have the patience to read that far). "Absolutist" usually implies (if not means outright) requiring adherence to a one-size-fits-all rule, like "It is wrong to lie, therefore never lie." Ayn Rand was not an "absolutist" in this sense of the word.

The Objectivist position regarding honesty is a bit more subtle. When dealing with other people on a free and rational basis, one indeed should not lie. When one is simply going to use your honesty to attack you and your values through force or fraud, then lie, and lie proudly (paraphrase of Leondard Peikoff in OPAR). For example if someone sticks a gun to your head and demands to know where your wife and daughter went for the weekend, you do NOT tell him the truth! An absolutist might very well maintain that you must tell the truth even in this circumstance.

About the only short, unambiguous statement I have seen her make that could be taken as a commandment (except that no "commandment" ever has as solid a justification behind it) if you were the sort to do so, was not to initiate force against another man [i.e., person]. That rule seems to have no exceptions based on context/circumstances, at least not that I have seen. Though a more experienced Objectivist might very well come along and correct me on this and earn my thanks for the education.

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito

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..... was not to initiate force against another man [i.e., person]. That rule seems to have no exceptions based on context/circumstances, at least not that I have seen. Though a more experienced Objectivist might very well come along and correct me on this and earn my thanks for the education.

I don't mean to initiate another discussion on collateral damage, but circumstances of war might cause an exception. Not so much with attacking known enemies since that would be a form of self-defense but more similar to the rangers that died in Afghanistan because they let the herders go-who of course warned the enemy. I would argue that in a war with vaguely identifiable enemies it would have been proper to shoot them to preserve their own lives and successfully complete the mission. To what extent that is initiation of force, I am not certain yet.

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One extremely dire reason is that anarchism is against objectivist ethics. Anarchism is a trend that would only appeal to moral relativists, people who think that law is arbitrary and all it takes is a majority to declare rape a perfectly legal function. Ayn Rand was a moral absolutist and like any moral absolutist would say: we need government to be monopolised and law to be objective, otherwise your left at the mercy of the majority of incompetent fools. You should probably click the link for more specifics.

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...us_libertarians

As far as Galt's Gulch goes, that was a very small population of brilliant inovative individuals and, by the way, they wern't in anarchy because they had objective law. Remember, everybody had to swear an oath before entrance. They didn't have a free market of competing courts, they had one court and judge Narragansett was the only judge to enforce the only law of the land. People in Galts Gulch were not allowed to buy law like they would in anarchy.

That brings up a good point.

But if the state is the only legal beholder of force, and all relations with the state are voluntary (meaning, no forced taxation or draft), what distinguishes it from any other corporation?

Why would it be inconceivable to have the law established by oath: for citizenship, you must vow not to initiate force on others; and then have it enforced by private agents?

You raise up "buying the law" in the market anarchist idea, but in an Objectivist, minarchist setting, the same can happen with "who gives more to the police station" or "who builds the best army base".

Why would the market anarchist (MA) society have more corruption then the minarchist one, if both inhabited with rational people.

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But if the state is the only legal beholder of force, and all relations with the state are voluntary (meaning, no forced taxation or draft), what distinguishes it from any other corporation?
You've named a sufficient difference. Another is, of course, that the state may not compete with private business for other purposes, such as manufacturing gasoline.
Why would it be inconceivable to have the law established by oath: for citizenship, you must vow not to initiate force on others; and then have it enforced by private agents?
The function of the state is not just enforcement of law, but creation of law. Laws are much more specific than "I will not initiate force" -- they say in detail what that means. Laws protecting intellectual property and governing torts can't be left to the vagarities of "whoever you might argue initiated force"; anarcho-law enforcement will devolve into "whoever has the biggest gun" tyranny when explicit objective laws are sacrificed in favor of a vague credo. In a rational society, a man must know what the law is, and there must be non-contradictory requirements of him. There is no such guarantee is every person is allowed to hire their own enforcement squad to enforce their interpretation of "protecting my rights".

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