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Guest jdr18

Anarchy / Minarchy / Competing Governments

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You rely on people to govern in the same way you rely on them to provide you with a house, food, and a job. You accept their competence when, as, and to the extent that they demonstrate it.

There's been some discussion around here about the principle of rule of law, which in my mind is the principle that a flawed institution is better than no institution. That's why I respect (as in, obey) laws such as speed limits even though they're immoral and improper: the U.S. government still exerts an overall beneficial influence in my life. Oh, sure, it's annoying at times, but it's not worth the chaos and destruction of an all out war . . . yet. I'm hoping the culture can be changed for the better before it's too late. I know some people around here have pointed out some good examples for how you tell when it's too late and it's time to take up arms.

Just make sure that if it does happen, you're fighting to put something better in place, not just to get rid of the existing government.

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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.

No, even fully rational, objective people can have disagreements or become confused. And men will always have free will, so the fact that everyone in society is rational *right now* doesn't preclude men from becoming irrational in the future. Whenever men come together to form a society, a government is necessary.

As for your questions about how a rational government gets formed: I think of it happening approximately like this. A bunch of men live in close proximity and deal with each other regularly. Two of them have a dispute about who owns a particular bushel of potatoes. Before they can start beating the crap out of each other, the others show up, restrain them politely but firmly. The two complainents each declare that they are the owner of the potatoes. It's obvious they aren't going to settle this between themselves, so the other citizens say, "we need someone to judge between you". "Hey, we'll get Frank to do it, he's smart and everyone trusts his judgment, right?"

So, Frank sits down and hears the complaints of both sides, and he decides who owns the potatoes. The man that lost out is inclined to protest, so Frank appoints a couple of other citizens as bailiffs to make sure he behaves. This is not an intiation of force against him: he initiated force by making an improper claim to potatoes. The bailiffs are just there to put a stop to that.

Now, this story is of course not how it has actually happened throughout human history. De Facto governments were created by strongmen before anyone ever understood the principles involved. However, it's not quite right to look at the existing situation and say that because most *current* governments were put into place by the initiation of force against other men that this is *necessarily* a trait of government. The U.S. came about because men were *defending* their rights, *not* via extortion. Newer, better governments in the future will hopefully come about through peaceful change.

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J.Meagan Snow:

No, even fully rational, objective people can have disagreements or become confused. And men will always have free will, so the fact that everyone in society is rational *right now* doesn't preclude men from becoming irrational in the future. Whenever men come together to form a society, a government is necessary.

Me:

Aberrant behavior (as you point out) is always possible, even for the rational. What is more likely is that ambiguity, which ever lurks in our language, can lead to less than fully specific contracts. That means rational people can disagree on the terms of a mutually agreed upon contract. Implicit assumptions can slip in, uninvited. So at the very least, agencies must exist within the society to peacefully resolve such disputes.

In addition, none of us are always in top level mental condition fully focused at all times. We all have our moments when we are not thinking about what we do carefully. This can happen because of fatigue, illness and just plain daydreaming. During such moments acts of negligence can occur. Torts can happen even among people with good will, so the means for settling tort claims and assigning monetary damage has to exist.

Then there are unintended side effects, leading to damages. None of us are omniscient, so there is no way of preventing such side effects in all cases.

Conclusion: government, at some level, must exist to resolve contract disputes, tort claims and make people accountable for the wrongful damage they do. And such things will happen even among rational folks of good will.

Bob Kolker

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Jen:

Your example would be improved if even the two men involved agreed that Frank should settle the dispute.

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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.

In addition to the points made by JMeganSnow and Robert J. Kolker, I'd like to add that a rational society will need a military (or the means to form one), for the simple fact that other societies can act irrationally, and violate the rights of individuals in other societies.

Also, extending the point about rationality not being automatic, circumstances can exist which can obliterate (temporarily or otherwise) a person's capacity to act rationally, such as psychological problems, unfortunate events, etc. which could lead to actions which we consider criminal (e.g. assault and battery). The government is tasked with protecting individual rights, and part of that would involve protecting its society from violations of rights originating domestically--which is the task of the police.

Lastly, a society, no matter how rational, will always be able to detect when irrational individuals enter its borders (e.g. 9/11 hijackers), and it will need a domestic agency (the police) to protect citizens when and if such individuals decide to carry out their irrational plans.

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In addition to the points made by JMeganSnow and Robert J. Kolker, I'd like to add that a rational society will need a military (or the means to form one), for the simple fact that other societies can act irrationally, and violate the rights of individuals in other societies.

Also, extending the point about rationality not being automatic, circumstances can exist which can obliterate (temporarily or otherwise) a person's capacity to act rationally, such as psychological problems, unfortunate events, etc. which could lead to actions which we consider criminal (e.g. assault and battery). The government is tasked with protecting individual rights, and part of that would involve protecting its society from violations of rights originating domestically--which is the task of the police.

Lastly, a society, no matter how rational, will always be able to detect when irrational individuals enter its borders (e.g. 9/11 hijackers), and it will need a domestic agency (the police) to protect citizens when and if such individuals decide to carry out their irrational plans.

A government of a particular jurisdiction and territory will always be required, if for no other reason to counter criminal behavior within that jurisdiction. That government has no mandate or responsibility for reacting to activities of any person operating outside their jurisdiction unless that action presents itself as a real and immediate physical threat to the citizens of its jurisdiction, situated within that jurisdiction. The government has no justification in protecting its citizens' interests that they undertake in other jurisdictions. The citizen judges the risks of operating in any particular jurisdiction for him/herself. The interference by the government in foreign domestic disputes should never be permitted.

Janet

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The citizen judges the risks of operating in any particular jurisdiction for him/herself. The interference by the government in foreign domestic disputes should never be permitted.

Yeah, my first point was too ambiguous. I agree, if a foreign dispute between nations does not pose a threat to individuals in another society, that society's government has no justification for interfering. It does not have the authority to "police the world."

Lastly, a society, no matter how rational, will always be able to detect when irrational individuals enter its borders (e.g. 9/11 hijackers), and it will need a domestic agency (the police) to protect citizens when and if such individuals decide to carry out their irrational plans.

I meant to say: "...no matter how rational, will not always be able to..." But you guys already knew that. :lol:

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The government has no justification in protecting its citizens' interests that they undertake in other jurisdictions.
But it does. In the case that a citizen falls victim to the violence of a dictatorship which does not observe the rule of law, his government is justified in protecting his rights, just as his government is justified in protecting the rights of its citizens from thieves.

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I have been thinking about the morality of government lately and I've come to the conclusion that the basic principles of anarcho-capitalism are the only ones that can be consistently moral. At the same time I don't think that there is a chance in hell that it would work in practice. So there is a very nasty conclusion to be found there that I really dislike which would imply that for a political system to function it has to be immoral.

The reasoning behind it is relatively simple. The fundamental rule, and one that objectivists should agree with is the principle of non-initiation of force. A government by classical definition violates that agreement because of three things:

1) It has to be financed. (Voluntary financing is as unlikely to work as the anarchist models)

2) It has to enforce its laws - regardless if the individual it is applied to approves of the laws.

3) It declares a monopoly on a number of things ranging from justice to force. A monopoly can only be maintained by force.

In essence a government cannot operate unless it it enforces an agreement that is not voluntary. By its form and actions it blatantly violates the rights of the individual. I think that Rand makes an excellent argument to why the non-initiation of force is a fundamental moral principle. Yet I can't see a justification for the glaring contradiction of granting the government automatic right to violate that principle. That conclusion seems to me as bad as saying that a practical government must be immoral.

The only approach I see as possible is a voluntary contract with the/a government through which one accepts the laws in exchange for the services that the government provides. It can't end there though - the government can't force a monopoly so you would have a free market on the choice of government as well. In other words anarcho-capitalism, and as I said unlikely to work in practice.

I'd be very interested to hear about the objectivist view on this - perhaps I've missed something.

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1) It has to be financed. (Voluntary financing is as unlikely to work as the anarchist models)

The "anarchistic models" cannot work because they are based on false assumptions - such as that all the "competing agencies" will somehow agree on what they are supposed to defend, or will for some reason choose to defend liberty and rights instead of simply pillaging others.

You opposition to voluntary funding is not similar to that in any way. I would venture the guess that it is at some level based on the false premise that "people are too stupid to know what is good for them" - i.e. would not voluntarily pay for a free government when the alternative is taxation and oppression.

The fact that we may not be able to imagine how it would work does not mean it won't.

2) It has to enforce its laws - regardless if the individual it is applied to approves of the laws.

There is no issue of approval when it comes to individual rights. No one has a right to violate the rights of others, thus no one can complain if the rights of all are protected.

3) It declares a monopoly on a number of things ranging from justice to force. A monopoly can only be maintained by force.

Not true when the monopoly is of force itself. A government need not initiate force to maintain its monopoly, it needs only to retaliate against those who initiate force against others - by buying an arsenal and going vigilante, for instance.

Edited by mrocktor

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I have been thinking about the morality of government lately and I've come to the conclusion that the basic principles of anarcho-capitalism are the only ones that can be consistently moral.

My entire problem with Anarcho-capitalism is somewhat two-fold:

1: If one accepts the objective theory of concepts, then Anarcho-capitalism rejects the "non-initiation of force" (NAP) principle. Anarcho-capitalism allows for any type of agency to be established to protect whatever the funders of the agency deem it necessary to protect. AC would have to allow socialists to make socialist agencies, communists communist agencies, and so on, because it cannot deny them their "freedom": to do so would be to "initiate force" upon them. This theory ignores the fact that statist institutions, whether small or full-blown governments, are statist because they violate rights, i.e., they are the ones initiating force. Rather than positing that the Objectivist government violates the non-initiation of force principle, I would argue that the underlying assumptions within Anarcho-capitalism lead to a violation of said principle, if one accepts the objective theory of concepts. This would mean that AC, and not Objectivism, contradicts its ethical base (NAP) and its political conclusions. Which is not surprising to me, as I associate AC within the broader philosophy of Subjectivism.

2 (related heavily with point 1): Understanding that individual rights is the basic principle of politics, any political system which violates them is an immoral system that should not be respected or maintained. Anarcho-capitalism does not protect the sovereignty of individuals; it places them at the mercy of whatever form of agencies people want to fund. Part of my objection here to AC is that an individual does not have the right to violate someone else's rights, and therefore, he has no right to ask others to do so, i.e., he has no right to form a rights-abrogating agency, even if he personally objects to representative government. My point here is diametrically opposed to Anarcho-capitalist thought: no matter the amount of wealth a person, or even a group of people, holds, that person/group has no justification for funding a system which violates individual rights. The only solution I can think of is for the "market anarchist" or "anarcho-capitalist" to only allow competing capitalistic agencies. The problem is that it's "restricting" the ability of people to fund whatever they want, i.e., the problem is that it's beginning to disconnect its association with Subjectivism (though not completely).

The "strengthened" position would then reject the anarchist-subjectivist-pay-for-any-system-you-want framework, in favor of competing systems of Capitalism. The problem I have with this largely relates to the general theory of Anarcho-capitalism, and is (part of the reason) why Rand and Objectivism take it to be a gigantic floating abstraction: its stealing of the concept of "competition." A "competition" is taken to mean a contest amongst two or more parties wherein there are winners and losers; in any kind of contest, there are rules, and repercussions for breaking one or more of them. More importantly, these rules and the means to enforce them exist before the competition begins, otherwise there are no means to know whom won or lost. Another thing I'd like to note is that the rules, and their enforcement, are not carried out by the competitors, but by some third-party who should be impartial towards the competitors.

To my understanding, this "competing" system of Capitalism would merely be two or more different countries which are capitalistic, with the only thing needed to be done being the re-drawing of the nations boundaries, which I would think is very important considering the need of a protection agency to protect its customer's soil. Sorry if this last part seems unnecessary, it's just me thinking out loud, so to speak.

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Great post Acount.

To my understanding, this "competing" system of Capitalism would merely be two or more different countries which are capitalistic, with the only thing needed to be done being the re-drawing of the nations boundaries, which I would think is very important considering the need of a protection agency to protect its customer's soil.

My only comment here is that even in such a "competing" Capitalistic system, there would still need to be a supreme government to serve as the final arbiter on the use of retaliatory force. Otherwise, how else could international disputes be settled?

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Great post Acount.

Thanks.

My only comment here is that even in such a "competing" Capitalistic system, there would still need to be a supreme government to serve as the final arbiter on the use of retaliatory force. Otherwise, how else could international disputes be settled?

Yeah, despite my last paragraph in the previous post, I completely agree with you.

I suppose this point has been answered by Anarcho-capitalists, but I am curious: why would anyone engage in the large-scale type of economic activity necessary to build and fund a government without a prior acknowledgment that if someone defrauds them, there would be an agency in existence to use retaliatory force? There was something more to what I'm trying to say here, but I can't articulate it, at least not right now. Perhaps I'll comment again a little later.

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Atlas Shrugged shows what happens to organized humanity when the looters assume a monopoly of violence. Without coercive statecraft that defends the capitalist order, the entirety of civilization collapses under the weight of top-down parasitism. Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan predicts such degeneration in the absence of a government with absolute sovereignty over its subjects. A Lockean state, of the classically liberal flavor that Rand asserted would be based in "self-ownership", implies a population composed of individuals who, in their state of nature, would be peaceful and productive; the state is perhaps useful but not essential, and by implication, anarchy is a viable alternative to coercive government. Looters, Locke implies, would not run roughshod over the creators.

This is nonsense. States necessarily commit themselves to the preservation of a certain order for their societies; in the case of an Objectivist-led administration, that order is capitalism. A state cannot commit itself to the defense of "inalienable rights" and then assert that inalienabilities are forfeit with the commission of a crime.

The Objectivist state, as an agent of the capitalist order, is not a "necessarily evil" but an indispensable servant. Your family and a murderous gangster are kept separate not by mutually respected, inherent priveleges, but by the guns of the police force. Is it immoral for the state to violate a criminal's right to liberty by imprisoning him? Of course not; hauling a destructive barbarian away from the stuff he wants to destroy is a legitimately violent affirmation of the capitalist order by the agents of that order.

As long as our heroes stand tall enough that smaller men may hide in their shadows, we shall need a state, and we shall need to make sure that state is powerful enough that all the looters in the world could not smash what capitalism has given the world.

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I noticed the title says "Government exists to enforce order, not protect rights." What do you think the government is doing by enforcing order if they aren't protecting rights?

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I noticed the title says "Government exists to enforce order, not protect rights." What do you think the government is doing by enforcing order if they aren't protecting rights?

Reality is as chronological as it is physical. Anarchy precedes government, government precedes order, and order precedes rights. The nature of each new establishment denotes the reality over which it will preside. In a communist order, rights to life and liberty (irrespective of abstract deontology) do not exist; rights to other people's stuff do. The order defended by the state is the provisor and guarantor of rights. The philosophical architecture of capitalism does not reveal the One True Way; it just constructs the best way possible.

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Reality is as chronological as it is physical. Anarchy precedes government, government precedes order, and order precedes rights. The nature of each new establishment denotes the reality over which it will preside. In a communist order, rights to life and liberty (irrespective of abstract deontology) do not exist; rights to other people's stuff do. The order defended by the state is the provisor and guarantor of rights. The philosophical architecture of capitalism does not reveal the One True Way; it just constructs the best way possible.

But rights aren't what a person, or a group of people, make of them. Rights exist and are objective.

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A Lockean state, of the classically liberal flavor that Rand asserted would be based in "self-ownership", implies a population composed of individuals who, in their state of nature, would be peaceful and productive;

Where did she(Ayn Rand) assert this?

My interpretation of your post is that you are suggesting Ayn Rand said society would be composed of peaceful and productive individuals during anarchy(I think that's what you mean by "in their state of nature", although I could be wrong). Am I reading you wrong here? Please clarify this point for me, because it don't remember reading/hearing about this in her work.

Also, what type of base would your society have, rather than "self-ownership"?(again, I don't know where Rand said "self-ownership")

The Objectivist state, as an agent of the capitalist order, is not a "necessarily evil" but an indispensable servant.

Who are you contradicting here? Who is suggesting that the state is a "necessary evil"? Surely not Ayn Rand.

Reality is as chronological as it is physical. Anarchy precedes government, government precedes order, and order precedes rights. The nature of each new establishment denotes the reality over which it will preside. In a communist order, rights to life and liberty (irrespective of abstract deontology) do not exist; rights to other people's stuff do. The order defended by the state is the provisor and guarantor of rights. The philosophical architecture of capitalism does not reveal the One True Way; it just constructs the best way possible.

Rights only exist as provided by the State, because first there was anarchy? What difference does it make that there was anarchy before "order"?

Rights come from the nature of man, not from capitalism. Why wouldn't human beings have natural rights in anarchy, if there is no one taking those rights away?

What if I'm alone on a desert island, does that mean that I don't have the right lo life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, just because there isn't a Capitalist State to provide them for me?

Please, do explain how and why order precedes rights.

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Please, do explain how and why order precedes rights.

Do you mean for him to explain that? Or simply to establish that order, indeed, does precede rights? He didn't specify what KIND of order. Feudalism is a kind of order, without rights.

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The problem with Hobbes is that his state of nature is a totally inaccurate description of how things were according to empirical data contained in anthropological study. If I can locate the specific paper I will post it.

Hobbes saw the state of nature as a place that was forever in a state of war, because people would always renege on contractual obligations. Moreover, Hobbes thought that morality, and therefore justice, could not exist in a a state of nature. These convictions are entirely untenable. In contrast, Locke thought that morality and justice did exist in the SON, and that humans need government to enforce justice and protect rights.

Rand did agree with Locke, you're right about that. But that's simply because Locke was right, and Hobbes was wrong.

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Atlas Shrugged shows what happens to organized humanity when the looters assume a monopoly of violence. Without coercive statecraft that defends the capitalist order, the entirety of civilization collapses under the weight of top-down parasitism. Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan predicts such degeneration in the absence of a government with absolute sovereignty over its subjects.

A Lockean state, of the classically liberal flavor that Rand asserted would be based in "self-ownership", implies a population composed of individuals who, in their state of nature, would be peaceful and productive; the state is perhaps useful but not essential, and by implication, anarchy is a viable alternative to coercive government. Looters, Locke implies, would not run roughshod over the creators.

This is nonsense.

The government in Atlas Shrugged keeps aggrandizing to itself more and more power throughout the novel. The society collapses anyway in contradiction to Hobbes' theory.

Rand's position is that government is essential to bring objectivity to the use of physical force in defense of individual rights. Rand has repeatedly excoriated anarchy and libertarianism.

This post attacks a strawman with a straw stick.

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Reality is as chronological as it is physical. Anarchy precedes government, government precedes order, and order precedes rights.

The government does not grant rights. You are misunderstanding the nature of individual rights.

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Hello,

this is my first post on OO.net and I was just wondering what the Objectivist objections to anarchy, or anarcho-capitalism in my case, are.

The idea of a minarchist state to me seems comparable to the idea of Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead (Part IV Chapter 6 first paragraph) that through compulsion one gains freedom. He says "Traffic lights restrain your freedom to cross a street whenever you wish. But this restraint gives you freedom from being run over by a truck." This seems to me like a minarchist, or statist in general, concept.

Shouldn't people use reason to know to look left and right before crossing a street? In the same way it seems to me that people should be able to use reason in determining which organizations are vital to their well-being, and to fund these themselves, as opposed to being coerced into paying for them, along with some they might not require.

If you do not understand, please specify what and I will attempt to clarify. Thank you for your time.

-Goldensilence33

Edited by GoldenSilence33

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The idea of a minarchist state to me seems comparable to the idea of Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead (Part IV Chapter 6 first paragraph) that through compulsion one gains freedom. He says "Traffic lights restrain your freedom to cross a street whenever you wish. But this restraint gives you freedom from being run over by a truck." This seems to me like a minarchist, or statist in general, concept.

It sounds like you have a different understanding of minarchy than I do. For me, minarchy means cutting government back to its absolute minimum: police, courts and the military.

Shouldn't people use reason to know to look left and right before crossing a street? In the same way it seems to me that people should be able to use reason in determining which organizations are vital to their well-being, and to fund these themselves, as opposed to being coerced into paying for them, along with some they might not require.

What do you mean by "organizations"? Competing governments, or government-like agencies? To see the Objectivist view more clearly, it might help to walk through a concrete example.

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It sounds like you have a different understanding of minarchy than I do. For me, minarchy means cutting government back to its absolute minimum: police, courts and the military.

What do you mean by "organizations"? Competing governments, or government-like agencies? To see the Objectivist view more clearly, it might help to walk through a concrete example.

I have the same understanding of minarchy, but you are still using compulsion as a means to freedom, even if it is only police, courts, and military. "Do this the way we want, or we will punish you. The way we want is right though, see all the benefits?" If you agree with 99% of the laws, you still object to the 1% that someone is holding over your head. Now, if it is justified or not is debatable. Centralizing violence just seems dangerous to me.

By organizations I do mean government-like agencies not funded by taxes, but through contracts. I hate to get into concrete examples because it is hard for a single person to predict how anarchy would work. I might not be able to find a solution to a problem the free market would normally fix. This makes it very abstract, and it seems better to argue with ethics.

It seems unethical to me, in any case, to force someone to pay for anything without their consent.

Maybe the solution is to mix anarchy with minarchy? Regions of anarchy near regions of minarchy?

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