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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?

You can't assume because yours aren't based under objective law et al. You said it was under "natural law philosophy" and "that understanding natural law philosophy will not tell you what to expect". You said that applies for all systems - but - understanding objectively defined laws will tell you what to expect.

Just because I expect a person who has commited say (to go with our enforcement of copyrights example) plaigery, when brought to justice, to be punished for having done so, that doesn't guarantee that they will be properly in the courtroom. There might be as you said...some sort of corruption of sorts, etc. But that certainly does not change what I expect should happen to them. My point was is that the morality of it does not change, because it comes from an objective theory of values (read: Objectivist ethics).

Edited by intellectualammo

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DMR    0
You can't assume because yours aren't based under objective law et al.

I'm not completely sure what you're saying here, and I have no idea how it answers my question. Can you elaborate?

You said..."that understanding natural law philosophy will not tell you what to expect". You said that applies for all systems - but - understanding objectively defined laws will tell you what to expect.

I agree with you, and this does not contradict my point. I said above "you have to actually investigate the institution," which is exactly what "understanding objectively defined laws" amounts to, as far as I can tell. But just as understanding natural law philosophy will only give you a general idea of what a particular natural-law-philosophy-based legal system permits or enjoins, understanding Objectivist metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics will not tell you the precise nature of every law of some Objectivist state.

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But just as understanding natural law philosophy will only give you a general idea of what a particular natural-law-philosophy-based legal system permits or enjoins, understanding Objectivist metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics will not tell you the precise nature of every law of some Objectivist state.(bold mine)

I thought you said "no idea what to expect"?

But I understand what you are saying. I agree that I do not know every individual law in such a system, philosophy of law is not of any real interest to me to begin with, but I do know the nature of the laws as such, just not all the specifics... Like plagiary for example again. I know it's a crime, and expect a person to be punished for having done so, but their punishment, the degree of their deception, etc. and all the laws that are associated with that crime, those are the specifics of it. But still, I have an good idea of what will happen to a plagiarist and know what to expect since the immorality of plagiarism as such has not changed.

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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?
No, it is that even with a perfect understanding of natural law philosophy, you can't answer the question. This means that the difference between moral and immoral conduct under anarchy is unknowable.
Under market anarchism, this means the policies of the relevant agencies.
The policies of the producers versus the consumers. Consumers prefer short-term duration of IP protection, producers prefer long-term protection. As a consumer, my conpany would have a duty to protect my right to copy any work 1 year after it has been created. As a producer my company would have a duty to protect the exclusive ownership right of the producer for 1,000 years. Who do I believe? Well, I suppose I will check to see who has a more powerful army and is more likely to prevail in a war.

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Not so - the contract can specify that nobody is allowed onto the premises until they agree to the contract.
That's a misrepresentation of the legal relationships. The owner of the property has the right to forbid entry to his property, and that right is independent of any contract. A person who does not agree to the contract is not bound by the contract, but he is still bound by the basic law of trespass. Then the owner may grant permission to enter, provided that the person agrees to the contract. So the person only became a party to the contract in order to secure an exception to the owner's right to exclude him.
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.
But he does have that right. So in fact the proper way to secure a market-anarchy account of monopoly law is to not actually sell the property -- give leases. When a man owns property, he has the exclusive right to dispose of it, which includes selling it. The right isn't conditional, i.e. you don't own the land or the car subject to some contractual conditions, you own it. Because of privity of contract, you can't stick a third party with contract conditions that they didn't agree to. (But with government, you have an external agency that can say "These kinds of contract conditions can be imposed on a third party").
What I describe is not a contract of property, but a contract with one's government to be a citizen.
Hm. One problem is that contracts are voluntary in the sense that you can decline to sign and can otherwise go about your business, which is not the case of citizen-government relationships.
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.
No, that's where the mistake lies. Anyone who enters that border must respect the laws. Voluntary agreement is not required and there is no contract. Minors, who are incapable of entering into contracts (and are not bound by the terms of contracts), are nevertheless subject to the law.

The approach you're taking depends heavily on the notion of implicit agreement. It may be possible to post guards at the border and require every immigrant to sign the contract before they are allowed to enter the country, but you cannot post guards at every hospital and obligate infants to sign the contract before they are allowed to leave the womb.

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.
What this comes down to is saying that you do not in fact own your property, you are leasing it long-term from the government, so that dumping Govco in favor of Tannahelp is a breach of contract (the remedy being termination of the lease and expulsion from the government's property).

The important common element of contracts and governments in a rational society is that they respect some level of the right to choose an action. You may choose to enter into a contract, or decline. You may choose to reside in a place, or you may choose to leave. In the case of the contract, party A by right has something that party B wants, and the contract says what B must do to partake in A's rights. With a government, the only way to make citizenship be analogous is if you say that the government has the right to the land and grants it to B subject to certain conditions (law-obediance). The flaw is that the government does not have a right to the land.

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.
Their error then lies in the mistaken equation of belief and act. You can disagree with a government's legitimacy all you want, and you can even enter into any private law enforcement contract you want to. The agents of Tannahelp can rightfully go to your neighbor's house and inquire about the new chainsaw that looks very much like the one that disappeared from your basement. This is all fine -- it is when they act with force, busting down the door and taking the chainsaw, that Tannahelp has initiated force. The government does use force, and it does not initiate the use of force. And of course Tannahelp would be using force, so the question of using force is a real red herring, unless you're dealing with a pacifist anarchist.

So the point is that there are certain acts which require agreement, and others which do not. Interest rates at the bank are negotiable and set in the contract; the prohibition against murder is non-negotiable, and not a matter of "agreement". It is a recognition of an objective fact, that for man to live as a rational being, certain things must be prevented, whether or not everyone agrees.

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Objectivism is against "market anarchy" or "anarcho-capitalism" because these are invalid concepts, insofar as capitalism requires there to b e a very strong government to protect individual rights.

Due to the fact that abiding by reason is volitional, there will never be a time in which any significantly large organization of individuals can rely merely on the good will (or the presumed) rationality of their neighbors. Galt's Gulch was never intended to be a different country -- it was simply a retreat for the strikers to go to, and eventually a place of refuge once the strike was well under way; and it had maybe a few hundred people in it. These are but some of the issues that the anarcho-capitalists don't understand or evade when they claim they can organize "peaceful gangs" to defend their turf against their neighbors. Even if that was possible, which I doubt, the level of the political entity would once again revert to the level of the city state; and there would be no way to enforce any agreements between the city states, except for war. It also means that the level of voluntary organizations would be geographically limited to the area of the city state -- in other words, without some governing body over a larger geographical area to protect the rights of everyone involved, no reasonable man would want to engage in large-scale enterprises, such as forming a corporation that involved peoples outside the city-state.

And the Magna Carta or the Constitution of the United States is not a contract between the people and the government, in the sense of their being mutual benefit to all parties involved in the contract, but rather is a limitation the people place on their government -- that the government is limited to what it is permitted to do by the people, but the people are free to do whatever they want to do, so long as they don't initiate force. The Constitution does not tell me I can't set up my own business, but it does tell the government that it cannot set up organizations without the people's consent.

The idea that people will become rational and that they will get along with one another without the state is pure fantasy; and it blames the government (implicitly) for the decrease of rationality over the past hundred years. It was not the government that did that, but rather people falling for irrational philosophies that, like anarco-capitalism, reduced their thinking to the range of the moment. I mean, sure, if everyone agreed to be rational and not to initiate force and not to have disagreements over contracts, then maybe we wouldn't need governments. However, we don't need protection from the rational, but rather from the irrational initiators of force or from people who will have disagreements with us that must be resolved in some peaceful manner.

Anarchy leads to chaos. It has happened every time a government has fallen in history. And that is because there must be some protection over a large enough geographical area or people are not going to be able to plan long-range. And if they cannot plan long-range because some local gang is going to be initiating force or fraud against them, then they will become ghettos, just like they do today when local gangs take over a neighborhood.

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And the Magna Carta or the Constitution of the United States is not a contract between the people and the government, in the sense of their being mutual benefit to all parties involved in the contract, but rather is a limitation the people place on their government -- that the government is limited to what it is permitted to do by the people, but the people are free to do whatever they want to do, so long as they don't initiate force. The Constitution does not tell me I can't set up my own business, but it does tell the government that it cannot set up organizations without the people's consent.

Exactly. I'm glad you that you had brought that up.

I have a question: That means that the government is under objective control right? since government exists by permission only? This is a way of placing limitations on government as such, so I think that this is placing it under objective control.

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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.

I am confident that Rothbardian anarchists do have answers to what rights ought to be protected. However, it still seems that under anarcho-capitalism, the market outcomes will always reign supreme, even if the dominating protecting agencies are deliberately crushing rights that ought to be protected according to Rothbard's views on natural law. This is what I mean by anarcho-capitalism being a form of subjectivism. A just society is not determined from objective reasoning but from the whim of a market.

In other words, if a mafia don gradually accumulates power and manages to overthrow an otherwise legitimate right protecting agency, it appears as if a true market anarchist would say: "Well, the organized criminals are reprehensible, but hey, this is how markets work."

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I have a question: That means that the government is under objective control right? since government exists by permission only? This is a way of placing limitations on government as such, so I think that this is placing it under objective control.

A government, proper or improper, cannot exist without the people's implicit consent. Look at it this way, even with our bloated government, most of the people do not work for the government as an agent of enforcing the law. If the people got feed up with those people, the government could be overthrown (or at least an attempt could be made), by those people who were not a part of the government. And the people of the USA are not the government, as some claim.

The people, for the most part, will accept the prevalent philosophy -- including the philosophy of a proper government -- and will tolerate their government within a range of what they think it ought to be doing. If they accept Communism or Nazism as an ideal, then that is the type of government they will get; if they accept man's rights, then they will get the United States of America.

We have a lot of problems with our government not merely securing individual rights, but it is our government that makes free speech possible in that if someone initiates force against you because of something your said or wrote, the government will crack down on them. In other words, it is only because of our government that places like oo.net can exist. In Iran or the former Soviet Union, the government agents would be knocking down our doors and hauling us to jail.

But I don't think the people's consent per se keeps government objective -- it keeps it within a range, but it is only a philosophy of reason that can make a government objective (i.e. based on man's factual nature and the requirements of the rational man). In other words, that range of what a government ought to be doing is guided by the philosophy the people accept (implicitly or explicitly).

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The owner of the property has the right to forbid entry to his property, and that right is independent of any contract.

Right, but when the citizen signs the "contract of citizenship," he is agreeing that he will not admit those who do not agree to be bound by his government's jurisdiction. The purpose of this is to preserve the jurisdiction itself, which is a function of protecting the rights of the citizens.

A person who does not agree to the contract is not bound by the contract, but he is still bound by the basic law of trespass.

Correct - so if someone does trespass, he can't yell that the government is initiating force on him by imposing its jurisdiction on him - since he started it by trespassing.

Then the owner may grant permission to enter, provided that the person agrees to the contract. So the person only became a party to the contract in order to secure an exception to the owner's right to exclude him. But he does have that right.

Sure. The owner could decide to exclude him anyway for any reason. His citizen contract would only specify that he does not allow in any foreigners that don't agree to the jurisdiction.

When a man owns property, he has the exclusive right to dispose of it, which includes selling it. The right isn't conditional, i.e. you don't own the land or the car subject to some contractual conditions, you own it.

Is that how that works? Hm. But what about things like mineral rights, which can be sold separately from the land? Could not one separate the particular jurisdiction rights from the land rights? Would that do the trick?

Hm. One problem is that contracts are voluntary in the sense that you can decline to sign and can otherwise go about your business, which is not the case of citizen-government relationships.

Sure, but if you decline to sign, then the government declines to let you in. So you can indeed go about your business so long as you remain on the other side of the border.

No, that's where the mistake lies. Anyone who enters that border must respect the laws. Voluntary agreement is not required and there is no contract.

The problem with this lies in the fact that the person entering the border may already have a government that has agreed to secure his rights. To simply say that once he has crossed line "a" he forfeits that is a problem - he didn't agree to forfeit that. The solution is to make it a condition of the property owners that he must agree to abide the jurisdiction when entering their property, because he doesn't enter their property by right, so they can stop him there.

Minors, who are incapable of entering into contracts (and are not bound by the terms of contracts), are nevertheless subject to the law.

Ah, but minors are bound to their guardians. For instance, if a man is evicted from an apartment, they can kick out the kids too, even though they couldn't enter the leasing contract. They could make it a part of the citizen contract that you make your kids - should you have any - abide the jurisdiction, too. I could definitely see it being legitimate that, once you turn 18, you either sign the citizenship (or at least the jurisdiction) contract or you have to go find some other country to live in.

With a government, the only way to make citizenship be analogous is if you say that the government has the right to the land and grants it to B subject to certain conditions (law-obediance). The flaw is that the government does not have a right to the land.

I'm curious if my "mineral rights" idea solves this.

This is all fine -- it is when they act with force, busting down the door and taking the chainsaw, that Tannahelp has initiated force. The government does use force, and it does not initiate the use of force.

The above treats Tannahelp as an illegitimate agency of rights-protection and the government as a legitimate one. The anarchists ask - Why? Why is it an initiation of force when Tannahelp does it but not when the government does it? What gives the government the right to be the exclusive government? Why it and not some other government?

My answer is that at some point, people had to have established a jurisdiction, such that their government has the right (granted by them the owners) to be the exclusive government in that area. That tannahelp can't waltz in because its patron agreed to abide that jurisdiction upon entering it (and if not, he's a tresspasser).

...the prohibition against murder is non-negotiable, and not a matter of "agreement". It is a recognition of an objective fact, that for man to live as a rational being, certain things must be prevented, whether or not everyone agrees.

Yes, but the problem is that I've actually had anarchists agree to that. The problem is that they object to one particular government's right to be the sole enforcer of it.* I had to show a way in which one government could become a sole enforcer without itself initiating force to remove other, potentially competing, enforcers (governments). I.E. a voluntary way that government can be established.

*(of course, in objecting they run into the problem of no jurisdiction and no rule of law and I don't have to tell you how completely inimical to the protection of rights that is - bloody idiot anarchists - but I still have to answer the point of how to establish those things voluntarily)

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DMR    0
No, it is that even with a perfect understanding of natural law philosophy, you can't answer the question. This means that the difference between moral and immoral conduct under anarchy is unknowable.

Do you see this as happening because of some intrinsic failure of natural law philosophy to provide an answer to this question? Or do you see the issue of copyright duration as being a fundamentally non-objective issue like which side of the street we drive on? Or what? I don't think I fully grasp the nature of your objection here.

The policies of the producers versus the consumers. Consumers prefer short-term duration of IP protection, producers prefer long-term protection. As a consumer, my conpany would have a duty to protect my right to copy any work 1 year after it has been created. As a producer my company would have a duty to protect the exclusive ownership right of the producer for 1,000 years. Who do I believe? Well, I suppose I will check to see who has a more powerful army and is more likely to prevail in a war.

You are, of course, assuming that there exist two agencies which are both willing to protect two contradictory rights, and willing to go to war to protect them. I seriously doubt that this will occur with any regularity.

Due to the fact that abiding by reason is volitional, there will never be a time in which any significantly large organization of individuals can rely merely on the good will (or the presumed) rationality of their neighbors.

I don't see why B follows from A. While the volitionality of reason means that we can never be certain of the rationality of our neighbors, this is not the same thing as being sufficiently confident in the rationality of our neighbors to be able to live our lives.

Anarchy leads to chaos. It has happened every time a government has fallen in history.

Again, I don't see how the second statement is supposed to support the first. Of course there will be chaos when a government falls, because the institutions which people have relied on for stability are gone, and new institutions have not yet arisen. You claim that since anarchy does not immediately fix chaos, anarchy must lead to chaos. This is silly.

And that is because there must be some protection over a large enough geographical area or people are not going to be able to plan long-range.

Even if I grant that this protection is necessary, you have so far failed to show that anarchists cannot provide it. Even if I grant the correctness of your objection to the "peaceful gang" solution, you have so far failed to show that anarchists who propose other solutions are also mistaken. Your argument is not finished.

it still seems that under anarcho-capitalism, the market outcomes will always reign supreme, even if the dominating protecting agencies are deliberately crushing rights that ought to be protected according to Rothbard's views on natural law. This is what I mean by anarcho-capitalism being a form of subjectivism. A just society is not determined from objective reasoning but from the whim of a market.

In real life, whether you are a minarchist or an anarchist, if the bad guys have bigger guns and more supporters, the good guys lose. The only difference is that the minarchist calls this "A rogue political movement taking over," whereas the anarchist calls it "market failure." Real societies are not created by philosophical doctrines, but by human beings who may or may not be attempting to uphold good philosophical doctrines.

if they accept man's rights, then they will get the United States of America.

Let's stop honoring America as a bastion of rights until it starts acting like one again. We are not advancing the cause of our freedom by deifying the Fascism-ridden corpse of the ideal of a nation founded on reason.

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Let's stop honoring America as a bastion of rights until it starts acting like one again. We are not advancing the cause of our freedom by deifying the Fascism-ridden corpse of the ideal of a nation founded on reason.

Our claim to being a Nation founded on Rights is somewhat compromised by the 16-th Amendment to the Constitution.

And Eminent Domain does not further the claim either.

Bottom Line: The government picks your pocket, steals your land and redistributes the wealth with a need-based welfare system. This is respecting Rights?

I have often said, and I think the facts back me up: there are no Good Governments. There are only Bad Governments and Worse Governments. Maybe that can change, but I would not hold my breath until it does.

Bob Kolker

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Do you see this as happening because of some intrinsic failure of natural law philosophy to provide an answer to this question?
It's because it is beyond the reach of philosophy to determine what a complete legal code should be. That's a very complicated specialized study which takes a lot of specific knowledge to achieve. Copyright duration is the most obvious example of the possibility of reaching conflicting conclusions from certain same basic principles. I would like to think that with a lot more study, we could come to a single correct conclusion, but much more work has to be done. Yet we have to have an answer now. An actual legal system gives you that, whereas anarchy leaves you simply not knowing for certain what the laws are.
You are, of course, assuming that there exist two agencies which are both willing to protect two contradictory rights, and willing to go to war to protect them. I seriously doubt that this will occur with any regularity.
I think it's obvious that it will happen, although it's possible that if La Cosa Nostra becomes the first law enforcement firm, they will have the infrastructure in place that there can be no serious challenge to their supremacy, so they can rule by threats rather than by actually shooting people. That's basically the way they work now, it's pssible that actual shooting will be less important and threats of shooting will be more important.

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I have often said, and I think the facts back me up: there are no Good Governments. There are only Bad Governments and Worse Governments. Maybe that can change, but I would not hold my breath until it does.

There is in theory though...*holds up CUI*...but not fully in practice right now. Is that what you meant? Or no "Good Governments" in theory to?

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In real life, whether you are a minarchist or an anarchist, if the bad guys have bigger guns and more supporters, the good guys lose. The only difference is that the minarchist calls this "A rogue political movement taking over," whereas the anarchist calls it "market failure." Real societies are not created by philosophical doctrines, but by human beings who may or may not be attempting to uphold good philosophical doctrines.

Still, I do not see how market anarchy does not amount to "might makes right", as there is no final arbiter on the use of retaliatory force. On the other hand, under a government designed by Objectivist principles (not any arbitrary minarchist government) those serving in the government are only permitted to take action within the confines of the constitution. Real societies are often created by philosophical doctrines, many of wish are embodied in a constitution. Unfortunately, such legislature is not always honored, but having a constitution based on sound philosophical principles is overwhelmingly better than not having one at all.

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This may be resurrecting a long-dead debate; if so, I apologize. However, I found the initial question of this thread of possible similarities between anarchism and objectivism quite intriguing, and this started me thinking on a topic related to both philosophies.

In my readings, I have noticed several different takes on force and the justifiability of its use. I have heard very eloquent arguments in favor of both complete pacifism and complete tyranny and everything ranging between; however, the only argument that I have found stood to reason is Rand's belief that one is never justified in initiating force, but that one is completely justified in responding with force against such an initiation.

To the best of my knowledge, the obectivist view is that government is a monopoly on force, but that this monopoly is necessary in order for rights to be maintained. The anarchist view, contrastingly, is that any monopoly of force makes rights impossible. If these generalizations are inaccurate, please inform me - I make no claim to have any expert knowledge regarding either school of thought.

The dillemna I've come across is in trying to decide when it is justified to rebel against a government, and what such a rebellion would imply to that government's monopoly on force. Socrates drank hemlock rather than contravene the laws of the state, despite believing that the verdict rendered against him was unjust. Martin Luther King repeatedly broke the law, but stipulated that this was only justified when he was prepared to face the consequences of doing so - paradoxically, he broke laws when he considered them unjust, but obeyed verdicts that sentenced him to prison terms, despite believing that such a verdict was unjust. Moving towards the violent scale, revolutionaries believe that the restrictions placed upon their freedoms gives them the right to forcibly overthrow the government, leading to such varied events as both communist Russia and America's declaration of independence from European empires. At the far extreme, terrorism often arises from a radical group's fervent belief that the only means they have of achieving freedom and securing their rights is by using wholesale force against civilian populations.

I could argue the underlying irrationality in most of the above scenarios; however, I mentioned them not for their validity but as a means of demonstrating the vast spread of differing opinion regarding the justifiable use of force against a government. My questions to those with a deeper understanding of objectivism and anarchism is as follows: what circumstances, if any, allow for someone to justifiably use force against their government; in what manner; and what would constitute a government's initiation of force (i.e. unjustified jail time, disallowing pursuit of production, enforced acquisition to the will of the majority, etc.)?

Edited by Tejia

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The dillemna I've come across is in trying to decide when it is justified to rebel against a government, and what such a rebellion would imply to that government's monopoly on force.
It's very hard to say exactly when that is, but the basic principle is that when a government has absolutely repudiated reason and the concept of individual rights, and especially when the nature of the government cannot be changed by reason, then rebellion is justified. Some typical hallmarks of that situation are when there is no freedom of speech and thus the govenment cannnot be criticized, and no free and open elections and thus no means of peacefully changing the government, and finally a replacement of objectively stated laws with self referential statements (such as "found to be a danger to the state", "determined to be a monopoly"). My fear in the US is that this latter type of subjective law, where you cannot know if you have committed a crime until you have been convicted, will increase. Fortunately, we presently have means to stop that.

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Another sign that a nation is slipping into a situation where rebellion against the government is justified would be when the government revokes the individual's right to own guns. That is a very troublesome indication. Free speech in a prison camp doesn't mean a damn thing.

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Another sign that a nation is slipping into a situation where rebellion against the government is justified would be when the government revokes the individual's right to own guns. That is a very troublesome indication. Free speech in a prison camp doesn't mean a damn thing.

I agree. However, a point I have come across that I have been unable to solidly refute as yet is that a government's monopoly on force requires such disarmament of civilians. If anyone has a compelling argument on this point, I welcome it.

This may simply be a result of some confusion on my part regarding the objectivist view of government, so some clarity would be appreciated. Does objectivism believe that government requires a monopoly on force, or is it simply saying that this is the current state of affairs?

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Does objectivism believe that government requires a monopoly on force, ...
Yes, but that is consistent with owning guns for self-defense, for hunting, and the like. The government can legitimately impose restrictions on ownership in order to maintain its supremacy of force.

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However, a point I have come across that I have been unable to solidly refute as yet is that a government's monopoly on force requires such disarmament of civilians.
To refute a claim, you would have to address the arguments that supposedly support the claim. I've never seen any argument to support the claim that a government monopoly on the use of retributive force requires disarming citizens. So it would be had to imagine what the refutation would look like, given that there isn't actually any argument to that effect.
Does objectivism believe that government requires a monopoly on force, or is it simply saying that this is the current state of affairs?
See VOS p. 128: "A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control" and "It has to hold such a monopoly, since it is the agent of restraining and combating the use of force; and for that very same reason, its actions have to be rigidly defined, delimited and circumscribed; no touch of whim or caprice should be permitted in its performance; it should be an impersonal robot, with the laws as its only motive power". That is, by the nature of government, there should be a monopoly on this legally-sanctioned use of force.

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I agree. However, a point I have come across that I have been unable to solidly refute as yet is that a government's monopoly on force requires such disarmament of civilians.
The government's monopoly on force doesn't preclude the use of force to defend yourself. Firearms give individuals the ability to defend themselves against others who have or who intend to illegally initiated force against them.

This may simply be a result of some confusion on my part regarding the objectivist view of government, so some clarity would be appreciated. Does objectivism believe that government requires a monopoly on force, or is it simply saying that this is the current state of affairs?

Of course, I don't speak for Objectivism, but I'll give you my opnion. Yes, a rational society would require that government has a monopoly on force. Obviously, that doesn't mean that you can't defend yourself.

Edited by gags

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There is also, in my mind, a difference between retaliatory force and defensive force. If you shoot someone while they're in the act of invading your home, that's self-defense. If you come home to find the place ransacked, get your shotgun and proceed to track down and shoot the offender, that's retaliation. Defense takes place only in the heat of the moment, during an emergency when you are pretty much justified in doing whatever you have to do to end the emergency. Retaliation is a cold-blooded, after-the-fact action that demands the strictest objectivity if it is to avoid violating the rights of potentially innocent people.

Anarchism invives citizens to use retaliatory force as well as defensive force. In an anarchist society, if someone broke into your home, you would have no recourse but to hunt down the perpetrator *yourself* and shoot him in the head. Ayn Rand gives an example about a man who misses his wallet, assumes it was stolen, and proceeds to force his way into every house in the neighborhood to search and shoots the first man that gives him a dirty look, assuming that look indicates guilt. Individual citizens don't have the *means* to investigate and prosecute crimes, and even if they did their objectivity after they've been the victim would be suspect. That is why a neutral, objective third party is necessary.

The quasi-anarchist option is to have 'competing' governments, i.e. several agencies that all have the delegated right to use force in a geographical area. However, the *proper* term for competition between governments is a WAR. So this would basically just be an institutionalized permanent war.

That's why the Objectivist politics calls for a government to have a monopoly on the retaliatory use of force in a certain area: anything else has really nasty consequences that are not good for anyone.

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Thank you for the clarifications, everyone. DavidOdden, you are correct that I cannot expect any honest refutation of an argument without giving premises; I will endeavor not to repeat that error. Nonetheless the argument I spoke of has been invalidated. My confusion was in the difference between retributive and defensive force, which JMeganSnow has corrected; the argument relied on that lack of distinction.

There is still a point that is unclear to me, however. If a government has a monopoly on retributive force, what is the correct course of action when the government misuses this monopoly? This can take the form of either using that force when it shouldn't, i.e. punishing someone unjustly or arbitrarily, or in not using that force when it should, i.e. allowing a violation of rights to go unpunished while preventing the injured party from seeking retribution independently.

The most obvious response, to me, is that governmental usage of force must be very carefully regulated and subjected to the most severe objective scrutiny. The problem with this response is that it presupposes that those providing such regulation and scrutiny are both capable of the high demand placed upon them, and motivated to fulfill that demand honestly. In placing the sole responsibility and privilege of retaliatory force in your government, you must first have a confident opinion of your government's capability and motivation to properly retaliate for you. To illustrate, if a government that adhered to communistic ideals were to attempt a monopoly on retaliatory force, I would not agree; such a government would, by my reasoning, inevitably abuse such a monopoly.

If, having considered your government's structure and examined its actions, you believe that it does not possess the capability or motivation to properly enact retributive force, what action should you take? If someone violates your rights, and your government does nothing, and you do nothing, then you have no security on your rights. If you take retributive action, then you have intruded on the government's monopoly of retributive force; in order to maintain their monopoly, the government must take action against you.

If you attempt to reason the validity of your case, you are now depending on the listener being capable of and receptive to objective reasoning. If they are, there is no problem; but this is not a guarantee, and seems unlikely to occur. If the government was willing and able to hear such an argument, then why was it not acting on such a principle already?

People are not automatically objective or reasonable. Many people appear to be wholly incapable of such virtues. For a government to be capable and motivated to properly enact retributive force, it seems evident that it must be composed of the most discerning individuals; those most objective, most attentive to reason, most concerned with facts and reality above all else. To give such a power to those incapable of those virtues would be to invite disaster.

However, the ability to see what qualities are most necessary in government officials requires one to possess those qualities. You cannot reason with an unreasonable man; likewise, you cannot convince someone who does not view the world objectively of an objective truth.

I realize this seems to be rambling off topic; I will try to bring it home. If your government is operating objectively, but you are not, then it will appear identical to a government operating unobjectively when you are. In simpler terms, whether you're wrong and they're right, or they're wrong and you're right, you'll still think that you're right. As long as there remains those who fail to think in objective terms, as long as people exist who accept things based solely on faith, tradition, feelings, or instinct, then a government will be seen to favor one at the expense of the other. I say 'seen to favor' deliberately; I firmly believe that a government staffed fully by objective, reasonable individuals would be to everyone's benefit. However, I cannot impart this view to someone unwilling to see it simply by wishing it so; I cannot force someone to see reason, no matter how reasonable my argument. For a completely rational, objective government to exist, anyone unwilling or unable to operate on objective thought would need to be prevented from voting; such people, through their votes, would enable a government to become comprised of those who would not properly utilize their office.

If this seems to be an illogical leap, I am curious as to how objective laws are passed. By majority? Majority opinion does not contain any sort of objective truth, unless the majority operate under objective reasoning. By decree? This requires a certain amount of faith in the one making the decree; but if one is able to perceive the virtues necessary for objective laws, one could understand the laws themselves - one would not need decrees, one would need explanation. By explanation, then? This requires the ability to understand the explanation - it requires one to be able and willing to think objectively. Regardless of the angle I take, I continue to return to the conclusion that, in order for an objective government to function, a certain amount of force is necessary to form and maintain it - force that is initiatory, not retaliatory, and as such, immoral.

This is operating on the assumption that the given area to be governed contains both rational and irrational people. If you were to remove the irrational people from the area, or conversely settle an area solely with rational people, then this dilemna is easily solved; if everyone in the jurisdiction was rational, then everyone would, through reasoned debate, come to objective conclusions together; there would be no issues with the government, as it would be impossible for irrational people to corrupt the government (as irrational people have been excluded from this area); the government, being only composed of rational individuals, would not be suspect; in fact, I seems every argument or point I just raised would be made moot in such a situation. It also seems that the necessity of a government at all would be made likewise moot.

What are the duties of a government? To protect man from men; to protect a society from invaders; to protect a society from internal corruption; to provide a system by which disputes can be fairly settled. In the matter of protection from without, in a society composed of rational, objective individuals, everyone would be a soldier. If your society is threatened, your freedom and rights are threatened; in such a scenario, every member of a rational society would rise up to protect what was theirs, and strike down those who had threatened them. So long as 'barbarians' existed, rational individuals would keep their combat skills honed; and, as Ragnar Danneskjold said, those who deal through force would discover what happens when they meet mind and force. In the matter of protection from internal corruption, a society comrised wholly of rational individuals would not fear internal corruption; even in a society comprised of a majority of rational individuals, internal corruption would not be feared as those who were irrational and who would create internal strife and corruption would stand out like sore thumbs. In the matter of settling disputes, objective, rational individuals do not need others to settle their disputes; they can settle them themselves.

In summary, the contradiction I am seeing is this: If a society is composed entirely, or even primarily, of objective, rational people, a government is unnecessary; if a society is composed in large part by those who are irrational and unobjective, then any government formed runs the constant risk of abuse. For those who are familiar with The Fountainhead, I find the situation Gail Wynand found himself in near the end of the novel illustrative of this: the paper he created ended up being used and abused by moochers and looters who could never have created it on their own, but who could utilitize it to further their own short sighted ends once it had been created.

Comments would be appreciated.

Edited by JMeganSnow
Added paragraph spacing

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If a government has a monopoly on retributive force, what is the correct course of action when the government misuses this monopoly?
That depends on the nature of the misuse. For example, nonsystematic police brutality is already covered, and there are sanctions in place that will apply to the individual misuser. OTOH, taxation is a form of systematic legal misuse, which is remedied by repealing the law authorizing the tax. This might be done directly by the initiative process, for certain states, or by inducing the legislature to repeal the law. Or, if the government capriciously fails to protect your rights, they can be sued in courts, or laws can be passed explicitly requiring the protection of that right.
The most obvious response, to me, is that governmental usage of force must be very carefully regulated and subjected to the most severe objective scrutiny.
Yes, and in the US it is, to a considerable extent.
The problem with this response is that it presupposes that those providing such regulation and scrutiny are both capable of the high demand placed upon them, and motivated to fulfill that demand honestly.
Right, and more generally, it presupposes that you're living in a rational society, not the barbaric outback.
In placing the sole responsibility and privilege of retaliatory force in your government, you must first have a confident opinion of your government's capability and motivation to properly retaliate for you.
Well, no, in fact I just need to recognise that the government monopoly on retributive force is a fact, and quite independently I need to do whatever I can to be sure that the government is composed of rational, thinking and honest men. In other words, the monopoly on force is a necessary but but a sufficient condition for a free, civilized society.
If, having considered your government's structure and examined its actions, you believe that it does not possess the capability or motivation to properly enact retributive force, what action should you take?
As I say, select different people to run the government. Propose and lobby for objectively justified rights-protecting laws.
If you attempt to reason the validity of your case, you are now depending on the listener being capable of and receptive to objective reasoning. If they are, there is no problem; but this is not a guarantee, and seems unlikely to occur.
Why do you think it is unlikely? Do you think then men are by nature irrational and evil? If so, you are doomed anyhow, and anarchy will just make things worse. The fact that it's imaginable that everybody want to kill you doesn't mean that they actually do, or that that justifies anarchy.

The point is that no political system is guaranteed to be fool-proof: because man if volitional, he can always do really dumb things like using other men as sacrificial animals. That's just the way it goes.

If a society is composed entirely, or even primarily, of objective, rational people, a government is unnecessary; if a society is composed in large part by those who are irrational and unobjective, then any government formed runs the constant risk of abuse
Any government or lack of government runs the rish of abuse, so that's a non-distinguishing characteristic. A government is necessary to give precise articulation to the nature of rights and the penalties for violating them. As a simple application, without an explicit and encoded law of copyright, I would not know if the rights to my book last 10 years, 25, or 100. And neither could a person wishing to make a copy of my book -- he would never know when his acts are right vs. wrong.

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