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Guest jdr18

Anarchy / Minarchy / Competing Governments

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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.

Kant would too...but more: in any or all circumstances you do not tell a lie via his categorical imperatives. That is why in OPAR we learn that honesty is an "absolute contextually." We also learn from Rand that "morailty ends where the barrel of a gun begins." You'd lie, I'd lie, but Kant wouldn't.

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.

Here:

If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a 'moral commandment' is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.
Edited by intellectualammo

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Thanks for the last quote.

I would have been better served by simply stating that non-initiation of force is the only ethical/moral absolute (in the sense I discussed above, with no contextual apparent "exception") I've ever spotted. To Think would be more basic than that of course--so much more so it slipped my mind.

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

I do remember hearing in an interview whether she was a believer in absolutes and she said yes, but perhaps it was referring to somthing else. A better term to use would probably be rights theorist, I ment to say that Ayn Rand was a rights theorist as opposed to a consequentialist and only a consequentialist type of person could support somthing as unrealistic as anarchism so long as the ends justified the means and they really wanted it to work.

Edited by Miles White

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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.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".

Your point is well founded.

However, in an irrational statist-type setting, the same "who has the bigger gun" still applies.

Remember, I am referring to a rational, egoistic group of captialists. This "anarchism" is based around the marketplace, not communal self-sacrifice.

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However, in an irrational statist-type setting, the same "who has the bigger gun" still applies.

Remember, I am referring to a rational, egoistic group of captialists. This "anarchism" is based around the marketplace, not communal self-sacrifice.

The problem with the assumption of anarchism in a perfect society is the requirement of a perfect society. There would be no need for law enforcement if every member of society were a rational egoist, but bring in a handful of barbarians and yer scrod. With minimal government, it is simply necessary that enough people be rational egoists that the law and their enforcement be rights respecting. In such a society, the majority does indeed get to tell the minority "Thou shalt not steal, and we'll enforce that commandment": minimal government works even in lieu of universal human perfection.

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One extremely dire reason is that anarchism is against objectivist ethics.

I am beginning to see the reason why the board rules insist on the capitalization of "Objectivism."

If you mean that anarchism is against the Objectivist Ethics--that is, Objectivist philosophers are against anarchism--then this is true. But if you mean that anarchism is against objective or absolute ethics, that an anarchist is necessarily a moral relativist, then this is false. Consider, for example, Murray Rothbard, who was a consistent proponent of anarchism and objective natural law-based ethics.

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.

I think Rothbard would reply that with government, you are guaranteed to be at the mercy of the majority of incompetent fools, whereas with anarchism you at least have a chance of objective ethics being encoded in law. Or alternately, that anarchism is more likely to supply an objective-ethics-based law, even though it is possible for it to fail to do so. But inasmuch as minarchism can fail too, the fact that anarchism might fail is not a compelling reason *by itself* to oppose anarchism.

In addition, the idea that under anarchism, we are at the mercy of whoever has the biggest gun, but under monopoly government we are not, is mistaken. Even if the monopoly government were a just one, if some group has bigger guns than the monopoly govenment, we are at their mercy whether they are enjoined from competing with the monopoly government or not.

However, I think that Galt's Gulch illustrates an overlap between minarchism and anarchism in the following way: if I am a developer building a community, I can sell all the rights to the land on which the homes are built to the buyers except the right to choice of a protection and law agency, and then say that anyone who buys into the community must select an agency from an approved list. A market anarchist might say that this is precisely what happened in Galt's Gulch: a condition for aquiring land in Galt's Gulch was signing up with Judge Narragansett's "agency" in the sense of agreeing to treat the decisions of his court as binding and final.

With minimal government, it is simply necessary that enough people be rational egoists that the law and their enforcement be rights respecting.

Similarly, the anarchist argues that under anarchism, it is simply necessary that enough people be rational egoists to ensure that the agencies founded in support of rational egoism be the strongest and able to both enforce objective law and take out any bands of objective-law-violating thugs who aspired to the title of a protection agency.

Note: I continually refer to what the anarchist argues, rather than what I argue, because I am in the process of evaluating the positions.

Edited by DMR

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Consider, for example, Murray Rothbard, who was a consistent proponent of anarchism and objective natural law-based ethics.
Well, it has been decades since I've read anything by Rothbard, but I don't believe that his view of law and rights provides a definitive determination of what the law is. That means that Rothbardian law is the epitome of subjective law. Under objective law, a man would know exactly what is prohibited, and what the consequences of violating the law would be. This cannot be known before the fact under anarchism.
I think Rothbard would reply that with government, you are guaranteed to be at the mercy of the majority of incompetent fools, whereas with anarchism you at least have a chance of objective ethics being encoded in law.
Except that with anarchism, the idea of "encoding" the laws in a unique and authoritative manner is the antithesis of anarchy.
if I am a developer building a community, I can sell all the rights to the land on which the homes are built to the buyers except the right to choice of a protection and law agency, and then say that anyone who buys into the community must select an agency from an approved list.
Such a system could only bind the man who buys from the developer. The only way to enforce such an "agreement" in lieu of actual agreement would be to encode it as a condition that runs with the land (hence the annoying conditions and covenants), which require the intervention of a government. If Smith owns the land, he can sell it to Jones with no such condition, and Jones has no obligation to pick from the selected list.

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The problem with the assumption of anarchism in a perfect society is the requirement of a perfect society. There would be no need for law enforcement if every member of society were a rational egoist, but bring in a handful of barbarians and yer scrod. With minimal government, it is simply necessary that enough people be rational egoists that the law and their enforcement be rights respecting. In such a society, the majority does indeed get to tell the minority "Thou shalt not steal, and we'll enforce that commandment": minimal government works even in lieu of universal human perfection.

If enough rational egoists exist, why is the state the necessary official in courts, police, and military?

If these actions are already used in a mixed-market economy (such as arbitration functioning like courts, and private security firms function similar to a police or military force), why not implement this system for the society as a whole?

It would agree completely with the principle of non-aggression.

As far as I can tell, the state is always the initator of force, and thus violates this rule of non-aggression.

Is this a contradiction of principles?

Edited by redmartian89

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Well, it has been decades since I've read anything by Rothbard, but I don't believe that his view of law and rights provides a definitive determination of what the law is.

Actually they do, or at least as definitive a determination as can reasonably be expected from any work on political philosophy. Rothbard would say that his philosophy determines, for instance, what sort of protection agencies people should form, but it's up to those people to either recognize that fact and form such agencies or not.

Under objective law, a man would know exactly what is prohibited, and what the consequences of violating the law would be. This cannot be known before the fact under anarchism.

Right now, you are probably in violation of a great many tenents of Sharia law. You don't worry about it, but that's only because you are confident in the ability of the US government to protect you from those who would impose Sharia law on you by force. Your level of certainty of what is prohibited is bounded above by your level of certainty that you will be protected. The same is true of protection agencies under market anarchism, so long as we assume that you can trust your own agency, which seems reasonable since for the corresponding minarchist answer, we have to assume you can trust your government.

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If enough rational egoists exist, why is the state the necessary official in courts, police, and military?
What is necessary is a single, objectively stated and enforced set of laws. Such a situation might exist with a perfect society of rational egoists and no state, because there simply would be no violations of rights. The problem arises when there are rights violators; then there is no definitive statement of what is a "wrong" or what the consequences of the wrong are. With a sufficiently large body of rational egoists, a rational government can be created which will protect the rights of all, against the predators that exist. Thus with minarchy, social perfection is not a prerequisite for objetive law.

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Such a system could only bind the man who buys from the developer. The only way to enforce such an "agreement" in lieu of actual agreement would be to encode it as a condition that runs with the land (hence the annoying conditions and covenants), which require the intervention of a government.

Nevertheless, does this not demolish the anarchists' argument that any government must necessarily initiate force to form or maintain itself? (i.e. the idea that the government's monopoly on force could be established non-coercively by a contract which binds the land permanently to it)

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Nevertheless, does this not demolish the anarchists' argument that any government must necessarily initiate force to form or maintain itself? (i.e. the idea that the government's monopoly on force could be established non-coercively by a contract which binds the land permanently to it)
I think it more shows that they fail to understand how agreements can't bind a third party, so concept-stealing is necessary to cook up a pretense that uniform law could be achieved via contract.

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Similarly, the anarchist argues that under anarchism, it is simply necessary that enough people be rational egoists to ensure that the agencies founded in support of rational egoism be the strongest and able to both enforce objective law and take out any bands of objective-law-violating thugs who aspired to the title of a protection agency.

Do you know if intellectuals who advance market anarchism offer any guiding principles to determine what "rational egoism" is? I suspect that Murray Rothbard and David Friedman do not endorse the Objectivist metaphysics, epistemology, ethics but then merely want to replace its politics with market anarchism.

In other words, how would a market anarchist determine what protective agencies should be? Do they even agree on any general principles? My perception has always been that in addition to claiming that anarchist markets are the best mechanism for constructing protective agencies, they claim that protective agencies should be whatever the market wants. This is just another form of Subjectivism.

Edited by DarkWaters

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Do you know if intellectuals who advance market anarchism offer any guiding principles to determine what "rational egoism" is? I suspect that Murray Rothbard and David Friedman do not endorse the Objectivist metaphysics, epistemology, ethics but then merely want to replace its politics with market anarchism.

I choose Murray Rothbard as an example precisely because he does provide a guide to rational egoism. As I mentioned before, he was a staunch advocate of natural-law-based ethics, and his political theory flows straight out of that. I don't know much about David Friedman, but if I recall correctly he was among the Utilitarian libertarians of whom Rothbard was harshly critical.

In other words, how would a market anarchist determine what protective agencies should be? Do they even agree on any general principles?

It depends what you mean by "market anarchists." If you mean "Rothbardian market anarchists" then yes, they do. Refer to, e.g., Rothbard's "Ethics of Liberty" to find out what they are. If you mean "all market anarchists" then probably not.

My perception has always been that in addition to claiming that anarchist markets are the best mechanism for constructing protective agencies, they claim that protective agencies should be whatever the market wants. This is just another form of Subjectivism.

This perception is probably right for some market anarchists, but not for all. Of course, market anarchists probably agree that on the question of "Should protection agencies bill by the month or by the protective action," they should be whatever the market wants, but I don't think this is the sort of issue on which Objectivists proclaim "Gahh! Subjectivism!" Market anarchists in the Rothbardian tradition do in fact have principled answers to which sorts of rights protection agencies ought to protect, although whether Objectivists agree 100% with those rights is another question.

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I think it more shows that they fail to understand how agreements can't bind a third party, so concept-stealing is necessary to cook up a pretense that uniform law could be achieved via contract.

First, are you saying that the idea of a contractually formed government is untenable? Because I don't see that. If Smith bought the land under the condition that he would only sell it to Jones on the same conditions he bought it, then where's the trouble?

But then if you think that is untenable, how do you answer their idea that a government must initiate force to exist? I've found the above stops them in their tracks but if you have a clearer argument I'd like to hear it.

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Market anarchists in the Rothbardian tradition do in fact have principled answers to which sorts of rights protection agencies ought to protect, although whether Objectivists agree 100% with those rights is another question.

Well, to use your words, Objectivism recognizes ultimately only one rights protection agency: government. Everything is subordinate to objective law, which upholds individual rights via government. (private protection firms are subordinate too)

Edited by intellectualammo

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First, are you saying that the idea of a contractually formed government is untenable? Because I don't see that.
I am saying that. A government creates and enforces laws for all people who live in a given area, whether they sign the agreement or are even capable of entering in an agreement. A contract can only bind those who agree to it. A contractually-formed whatever isn't a government; a government isn't contractually formed.
If Smith bought the land under the condition that he would only sell it to Jones on the same conditions he bought it, then where's the trouble?
The problem is that if Smith nevertheless sells it to Jones without such a condition, the condition then ceases to exist (and recall that the point was to emulate a monopoly on protective force by contract). Smith might be sued by the developer, but Jones will not be bound by the condition.
But then if you think that is untenable, how do you answer their idea that a government must initiate force to exist?
Well, it's very simple, that in fact the government does not initiate force, it uses defensive / retaliatory force in response to the force initiated by someone else. I'm not getting the connection that you're trying to make here: the idea of a clever contractual approximation of government simply fails because the idea requires the independent existence of a government to impose the condition on resale of property.

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I am saying that. A government creates and enforces laws for all people who live in a given area, whether they sign the agreement or are even capable of entering in an agreement. A contract can only bind those who agree to it. A contractually-formed whatever isn't a government; a government isn't contractually formed.

Then how is a government formed in the first place, assuming it is not imposed by brute force?

Isn't a Constitution a kind of contract?

Bob Kolker

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Actually they do, or at least as definitive a determination as can reasonably be expected from any work on political philosophy. Rothbard would say that his philosophy determines, for instance, what sort of protection agencies people should form, but it's up to those people to either recognize that fact and form such agencies or not.
Awright, what, according to natural law philosophy, is the natural duration of copyright? I need to know, because there are a bunch of books and movies that I'd like to copy and distribute. But the royalties would kill me, so I need to know when I can freely copy these items. And I don't want to have to find out by having the Harper Row knee-breakers confiscate my property. I have a similar question about the natural duration of a patent, but maybe we can stick to the copyright.

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Awright, what, according to natural law philosophy, is the natural duration of copyright?

I don't know. I suspect that the point of this question was to get me to admit that, given that you go on to say

I don't want to have to find out by having the Harper Row knee-breakers confiscate my property.

But I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to conclude from this, except that you think it refutes my argument.

Is your point that without an understanding of natural law philosophy, you have no idea what to expect w/r/t enforcement of copyright laws under market anarchism? This is true, but you have no idea what to expect with such an understanding under market anarchism, or any other system. To know what to expect, you have to know the relevant laws. Under market anarchism, this means the policies of the relevant agencies. So in practice, I would tell you call 1-800-KNEE-BRK and listen to their automated summary of copyright policy, or something along those lines. If I'm missing the point, please explain it to me.

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Of course not. Are you joking?

Not at all. It is an agreement among parties. Either a government comes into being by force, or it is brought into being by some sort of covenant or agreement. If the latter, then it is a kind of contract. If it is the former, then it is tyranny. If I recall the U.S. Constitution was brought into being by an agreement reached by representatives of several legislative bodies. And each of those were organized according to the will of qualified voters (the several States each had constitutions). That sounds like a contract to me. If it is not a contract, then just what is it?

On such matters, sir, I do NOT joke. I may find politics laughable and an object of derision and contempt, but Law and Constitution are very serious business.

Bob Kolker

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Is your point that without an understanding of natural law philosophy, you have no idea what to expect w/r/t enforcement of copyright laws under market anarchism? This is true, but you have no idea what to expect with such an understanding under market anarchism, or any other system. (bold mine)

Or any other system? Under market anarchism, yes. Under objective law (laissez-faire capitalism), no. You say, "no idea of what to expect"? I know what to expect with its copyrights laws because there aren't "agencies" (plural) in which copyrights laws may vary. There is only one. I don't have to call a phone number, or constantly check everytime, or where ever I'm at to know that if you use someone elses words as your own, you are a parasite literarily and enter into the realm of criminality, since the morality/ethics of it does not change. Since objective law's moral basis is an objective theory of values, I know what to expect with copyrights, or have a good idea of what to expect with things, unlike what you said of having "no idea what to expect...under any system."

A government creates and enforces laws for all people who live in a given area, whether they sign the agreement or are even capable of entering in an agreement. A contract can only bind those who agree to it. A contractually-formed whatever isn't a government; a government isn't contractually formed.

You are very correct.

Then how is a government formed in the first place, assuming it is not imposed by brute force?

How? Ethics: it provides the necessary moral base for the existence of a government in a social context.

Here:

"Rights," states Ayn Rand, "are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context—the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.

A "right," in Ayn Rand's definition, "is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context." A right is a sanction to independent action;[...]

Individual rights are absolutes.

Edited by intellectualammo

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I am saying that. A government creates and enforces laws for all people who live in a given area, whether they sign the agreement or are even capable of entering in an agreement. A contract can only bind those who agree to it. A contractually-formed whatever isn't a government; a government isn't contractually formed.

Not so - the contract can specify that nobody is allowed onto the premises until they agree to the contract.

The problem is that if Smith nevertheless sells it to Jones without such a condition, the condition then ceases to exist (and recall that the point was to emulate a monopoly on protective force by contract). Smith might be sued by the developer, but Jones will not be bound by the condition.

I don't understand why Jones won't be bound. If Smith didn't have a right to sell under the conditions he sold, then the sale is null and void. Jones would in fact be bound.

The property contract, by the way, is only an analogy. What I describe is not a contract of property, but a contract with one's government to be a citizen. Starting at square one, a number of people live in the same geographic area - jurisdiction - and decide to secure their rights. They start a government and draw up a border. Anyone who enters that border must contractually agree to respect the laws and government of that nation. This violates nobody's rights. The government-creation-contract would also stipulate that nobody may enter into other contracts with other protection agencies (governments) without renouncing this contract and moving out of that geographic area (i.e. renounce citizenship and emigrate - or at least agree to abide the jurisdiction while remaining). Again, no rights are violated.

Well, it's very simple, that in fact the government does not initiate force, it uses defensive / retaliatory force in response to the force initiated by someone else.

What I mean is, that anarchists have argued against me that the instant one single person does not agree to a government's legitimacy - say they want their rights enforced by some other government - then the government must use force. I say this is not true - the citizens might agree voluntarily to be bound to their government such that they can't just change their minds at a whim. That is, if they aren't immature anarchists. And similarly, jurisdictions can be established such that people have to agree to abide them upon entering - and thus a government isn't initiating force by maintaining and policing its jurisdiction (at least, not as such).

Does all this track, as far as you can tell?

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You say, "no idea of what to expect"?

Read more carefully before you fly off the handle with moral indignation. What I said was that understanding natural law philosophy will not tell you what to expect. The point is that under market anarchism, as now or under an Objectivist-approved government, you have to actually investigate the institution to know what it says.

Since objective law's moral basis is an objective theory of values, I know what to expect with copyrights, or have a good idea of what to expect with things

You only have a good idea of what to expect insofar as you are sure that the government complies with Objectivist principles, will continue to comply with Objectivist principles, and will not be conquered by an anti-Objectivist power. If you can make those assumptions, why can't I assume that my protection agency's policies are based on an objective theory of values, that they will remain based on such indefinitely, and that my agency is too strong for me to have to worry about the policies of non-objective agencies?

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