Welcome to Objectivism Online Forum

Welcome to Objectivism Online, a forum for discussing the philosophy of Ayn Rand. For full access, register via Facebook or email.

Guest jdr18

Anarchy / Minarchy / Competing Governments

Rate this topic

162 posts in this topic

In that case, Eiuol, we are 100% in agreement on the political issues involved. And, if such a system actually existed, I would likely advance my case for secession, while you would advance your case for remaining part of the United States, and individuals would choose their options based on the rational arguments for both sides.

 

 

What do you mean by "commonly accepted"? 51% of the population would accept them? 99%? Everyone?

Also, my original question was who would write them, not when.

 

The law would be accepted by all rational individuals. Hopefully this would be a majority, but if not, then democracy wouldn't work either.

 

I suppose they would be written by whoever could construct a theory of law based on rational philosophical principles. If it was legitimate, then it would be morally right for the masses to accept it. Otherwise, we would be morally justified in ignoring them, and anyone would have a right to establish a new code of laws, as long as it was based on objective principles.

 

What would this "power" consist of, more specifically?

Also, my original question wasn't who would have the power to enforce the law, my question was, who WOULD enforce it.

 

The power to apprehend anyone if there was probable cause to think they were a criminal. Just like the power granted to the police under the U.S. Constitution. In practice this would mean asking their defense agency to turn them over.

 

 

Who would determine what "due process" is, and who would prevent people from ignoring this due process?

 

If two people were part of the same defense agency, their case would arbitrated according to the rules of the defense agency. And if someone didn't like the rules, they would have the right to move to a different agency. If they were part of different defense agencies, then their agencies would negotiate to ensure fair proceedings.

 

 

In reality, profit driven defense agencies, like any other insurance agency, would assess new customers' risk factors, and turn away any customer that brings more risk than money to the table. This is NOT SPECULATION on my part. This is fact, easily observable in the world today. This is how the insurance market works.

 

In that case, again, people would buy an emergency insurance policy in case their defense agency turned against them, and they needed to pay another agency the extra premium for protecting them.

 

 

The notion that wars can be won that easily is naive at best. What if this defense agency has nuclear weapons? Can it still be "easily crushed"?

Does your whole theory rest on the assumption that well intentioned groups will always "easily crush" otherwise intentioned groups?

I seriously doubt it. For instance, there are currently 1 billion or so Muslims in the world. At least a quarter of them, fanatics. You really think that if those 250 million Muslims were given the opportunity to form their own "defense association", and enforce their own laws, they could be "easily defeated" once they decide they also want to impose those laws on others?

 

I personally believe that nuclear weapons are immoral to begin with, since they are intended to kill large numbers of people indiscriminately, and my position as a result of this is that we are justified in using force to prevent anyone from developing nuclear weapons. I know that Rand did not accept the premise that killing civilians in a war was a violation of the NAP, but I don't think her arguments for the contrary position are applicable in this case, because if a bunch of Muslims are able to form a private defense agency, then that already means that they are living in an anarchist society, and other defense agencies would have a right to confiscate their nukes. And if they're living in an enemy nation-state, and this state is a dictatorship (Which it presumably would be if it was ruled by Muslim fundamentalists), then we would be justified in wiping them off the map if they became a threat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In that case, Eiuol, we are 100% in agreement on the political issues involved. And, if such a system actually existed, I would likely advance my case for secession, while you would advance your case for remaining part of the United States, and individuals would choose their options based on the rational arguments for both sides.

I find it rather meaningless to talk about a case for anarchy then. Are you arguing that you should be allowed to go and start an institution? I mean, you could even go into the Amazon jungle, but no one has advocated hunting down people who don't want a government, so I don't know what you're getting at. All Rand really argued is that government is necessary - calling it a defense agency won't change that in fact all you're talking about are governments anyway. As I've read so far, you didn't mention any procedures governments wouldn't do. You have the right to form a code of laws of your own, but the only question for a government is if the supposed laws pose a threat to its citizen's existence.

 

Multiple defense agencies? Basically NATO is that. A fundamentalist Muslim defense agency? That's Iran. Unless you want to say these hypotheticals share jurisdiction?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At this point we're just debating semantics. The reason I would consider this arrangement a form of anarchy is because no one would have the right to force me to adopt any system of political authority against my will. I would have the right to choose my defense agency, or government if you will, and no one would be my ruler, because their own authority over me would by my choice as a sovereign individual.

 

Nicky has also raised a legitimate point about nuclear weapons. While I believe that it is in the rational self-interest of every nation to abolish nuclear weapons, there is the practical issue of how to do this, and if we replace the current system with an anarcho-capitalist or voluntaryist system, then there would be the question of who should control the nukes. Maybe a treaty between whatever private defense agencies or military federations emerged to jointly control the nukes, possibly including a reformed U.S. government with an Objectivist constitution?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Of these three points, the first one is meaningless; everything must be financed.

The second and third points are actually the same point, which is that nobody should be compelled to act against their judgment.  And that may seem reasonable, at first glance; it even resembles the non-initiation principle.  But think about it.

If nobody should be compelled to act against their own judgment then by what right do we imprison serial killers- or anyone, for any reason?

 

People should be compelled to act against their own judgment when their judgments are both irrational and harmful to others.

 

Nobody is enforcing competing browser manufacturers to use the W3C standards and yet they all abide by it. Why? Because they have a rational self interest to use the same standard as everyone else uses.

Why is that different from how the government would work in a free market? Why is one possible and the other not?

The error in a hands-off approach to the legislative process is the same error which was dramatized in Jurassic Park.

 

"Every theme park has its problems.  When they first opened the Pirates of the Caribbean, nothing worked!"

"Yeah, but if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down then the pirates don't eat the tourists."

 

Competing law enforcement agencies is a possibility, but not legislative agencies.  Because there is only one correct answer to any political question, if each "government" attempts a different one, the majority of them will necessarily be attempting to 'eat the tourists'.

What if that rogue agency instituted a law that states that its customer base is not allowed to leave?

That, by the way, is what I mean about competing governments 'eating the tourists'.  And it pivots on leaving the laws and practices of each agency completely unspecified.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At this point we're just debating semantics. The reason I would consider this arrangement a form of anarchy is because no one would have the right to force me to adopt any system of political authority against my will. I would have the right to choose my defense agency, or government if you will, and no one would be my ruler, because their own authority over me would by my choice as a sovereign individual.

Fair enough. At least regarding what is a moral system of governance (i.e. what a morally proper system of laws and protection entails), we seem to agree. What's the best term to use is a different question. All I'll say though is that precision is important, and I find anarchy a very imprecise and inaccurate term for how specific I am being about the ideal system. We're talking about a society to live in, not just the most effective business plan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it would be practical for an agency to declare war on another agency just to reclaim its former customer base. As long as every one of their former members knew their rights, there would be enough of them leaving to make it impractical to use force to keep all of them.

Assuming that these customers, themselves, are all rational people.  Which is by no means any sort of flaw or fallacy.  Hands-off minarchism isn't applicable to groups of irrational people, either.  But I think it should be noted that there is a specific relation between these things:

The extent to which a society is capable of proper governance holds an inverse relation with its need for any governance.

 

They wouldn't "declare war" on anyone. They would go to the house of whoever leaves, and burn his house down. Or cut off his fingers. Or rape his children. Whichever works best.

In any society where this is the norm, the entire discussion is pointless; there is no government that is proper for it.

Anyone who could consider those actions to be 'justice' is incapable of grasping the concept of rights, reason or morality.  You could not even communicate the subject matter to them.  In short, Nicky, the creatures you've described are not actually human.  They have no rights for the same reason that animals have no rights; they cannot grasp the meaning of the term.

Do not expect us to recognize the "rights" of those animals which happen to walk upright.  It is no better than arguing with a thunderstorm.

 

"Who" questions all have the same answer: everyone has an equal right to perform those functions.

I agree with the principle of what you're advocating (though not its specific implementation), but this is wrong.

In political matters, whoever has the right answer, has the exclusive right to act on it.  Nobody has the right to violate rights, regardless of how many people condone it; "who" writes the laws is of no importance whatsoever, as long as they write the correct ones.

And a direct democracy, as with a minarchy or a region of competing governments, can only function properly if it governs the proper sort of people.  If the 'people' Nicky described begin voting on things, all of the checks and balances in the world cannot save it.

 

I think the defining feature is monopoly. If customers are allowed to secede peacefully then you have free competition, ie, a market.

[emphasis mine]

By what right can a group of people prevent one of their members from leaving peacefully?

 

Nicky has also raised a legitimate point about nuclear weapons.

Not really.  Nuclear weapons have a far more destructive capacity but otherwise, they're essentially the same sort of thing as bullets; tools for efficiently killing someone.  And furthermore, even if we considered them something truly different from any other type of weapon, they have no special bearing on the society you've described.

As a matter of fact, considering that in your hypothetical society there could be twelve distinct countries in twelve city blocks, nuclear proliferation would be infinitely less of an issue than it currently is.  It's one thing to bomb a city on the opposite side of the planet; it's another thing to drop a nuke on your next-door neighbors!

 

And the issue of people who aren't financially worth protecting. . .  Wouldn't that primarily include criminals?

All I'll say though is that precision is important, and I find anarchy a very imprecise and inaccurate term for how specific I am being about the ideal system. We're talking about a society to live in, not just the most effective business plan.

That is a valid point!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Competing law enforcement agencies is a possibility, but not legislative agencies.  Because there is only one correct answer to any political question, if each "government" attempts a different one, the majority of them will necessarily be attempting to 'eat the tourists'.

 

I agree. I would not advocate for competing legislative agencies. Otherwise you would end up with a bunch of contradictory laws, and everyone trying to enforce a different version. This would lead to chaos and mass bloodshed, as others have said on here.

 

Instead I think we should get rid of legislative entities altogether, and rely on a single, unchangeable set of laws based on objective principles.

 

 

Fair enough. At least regarding what is a moral system of governance (i.e. what a morally proper system of laws and protection entails), we seem to agree. What's the best term to use is a different question. All I'll say though is that precision is important, and I find anarchy a very imprecise and inaccurate term for how specific I am being about the ideal system. We're talking about a society to live in, not just the most effective business plan.

 

I think that you and I would choose different systems in such a society, which would coexist peacefully. I would choose a private defense agency from the market, while you would remain a citizen of the United States. I would use the term anarchy to describe the world I would be living in, but maybe we could call the overall system a voluntaryist system? I think that would be an accurate description.

 

 

In political matters, whoever has the right answer, has the exclusive right to act on it.  Nobody has the right to violate rights, regardless of how many people condone it; "who" writes the laws is of no importance whatsoever, as long as they write the correct ones.

 

And that's why I don't support giving one entity the right to write the law.

 

 

Not really.  Nuclear weapons have a far more destructive capacity but otherwise, they're essentially the same sort of thing as bullets; tools for efficiently killing someone.  And furthermore, even if we considered them something truly different from any other type of weapon, they have no special bearing on the society you've described.

As a matter of fact, considering that in your hypothetical society there could be twelve distinct countries in twelve city blocks, nuclear proliferation would be infinitely less of an issue than it currently is.  It's one thing to bomb a city on the opposite side of the planet; it's another thing to drop a nuke on your next-door neighbors!

 

But there would also be the risk that someone could form a rogue agency and force a geographical area to submit to their rule by threatening to drop a nuke. I guess legitimate defense agencies would just have to keep tabs on who was making nukes, just like governments today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree. I would not advocate for competing legislative agencies. . .

Instead I think we should get rid of legislative entities altogether, and rely on a single, unchangeable set of laws based on objective principles.

I wouldn't go so far as unchangeable, because that would require omniscience of whomever writes the original laws.  What if they make a mistake?  But I agree that legislation should in general remain the same as much as possible (and it certainly doesn't need its own agency).

 

So I would not only have something like a formal constitution, which lays out all of the laws for this society; I'd also include the reasoning behind each one, all the way down to its epistemological premises (and any empirical evidence it assumes).  And I would include, as the final law, that in order to change any law you have to identify some error in its reasoning.

It could still be abused but that's the best way I can think of.

 

The fundamental argument which most people on here seem to be relying on -- and which Harry Binswanger is relying on his article -- is that objective law and due process cannot exist unless it is established by a government.

Yes.

I'm going to present a full dissection in a while (to the best of my abilities, at least) because this is something that's always bothered me.  But that's definitely the gist of it.

 

Reading Binswanger's article, the vast majority of it is accurate enough.  Most of the anarchist fallacies he describes are actual fallacies.  But this stands out to me:

Objectivity requires one to prove that one is acting within one's rights; they do not want to be held accountable to anyone for anything—not even regarding their use of physical force.

It stands out to me because that's pretty much exactly what I think.  If I'm doing what's right, and what I know is right, then who in the Hell do I have to prove anything to?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fair enough. At least regarding what is a moral system of governance (i.e. what a morally proper system of laws and protection entails), we seem to agree. What's the best term to use is a different question. All I'll say though is that precision is important, and I find anarchy a very imprecise and inaccurate term for how specific I am being about the ideal system. We're talking about a society to live in, not just the most effective business plan.

It's true that the term anarchy has all kinds of annotations both current and historical. In terms of describing a society there exists many treatises describing market anarchy in detail both as consisting in historical societies and in a possible future one. But how are you going to bring people to the barricades with "poly centric libertarian constitutional free market legal order" or some such, where market anarchy or anarcho capitalism does a way better job of that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The retaliatory use of force requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed and to prove who committed it, as well as objective rules to define punishments and enforcement procedures. Men who attempt to prosecute crimes, without such rules, are a lynch mob. If a society left the retaliatory use of force in the hands of individual citizens, it would degenerate into mob rule, lynch law and an endless series of bloody private feuds or vendettas.

-The Nature of Government, by Ayn Rand

 

"The retaliatory use of force requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed and to prove who committed it, as well as objective rules to define punishments and enforcement procedures."

True.

 

"Men who attempt to prosecute crimes, without such rules, are a lynch mob."

True.

 

"If a society left the retaliatory use of force in the hands of individual citizens, it would degenerate into mob rule, lynch law and an endless series of bloody private feuds or vendettas."

False.  Argument from depravity.

 

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/conservatives.html

This argument runs as follows: since men are weak, fallible, non-omniscient and innately depraved, no man may be entrusted with the responsibility of being a dictator and of ruling everybody else; therefore, a free society is the proper way of life for imperfect creatures. Please grasp fully the implications of this argument: since men are depraved, they are not good enough for a dictatorship; freedom is all that they deserve; if they were perfect, they would be worthy of a totalitarian state. . .

And more: dictatorships—this theory declares—and all the other disasters of the modern world are man’s punishment for the sin of relying on his intellect and of attempting to improve his life on earth by seeking to devise a perfect political system and to establish a rational society. This means that humility, passivity, lethargic resignation and a belief in Original Sin are the bulwarks of capitalism. One could not go farther than this in historical, political, and psychological ignorance or subversion. This is truly the voice of the Dark Ages rising again—in the midst of our industrial civilization.

The cynical, man-hating advocates of this theory sneer at all ideals, scoff at all human aspirations and deride all attempts to improve men’s existence. “You can’t change human nature,” is their stock answer to the socialists. Thus they concede that socialism is the ideal, but human nature is unworthy of it; after which, they invite men to crusade for capitalism—a crusade one would have to start by spitting in one’s own face. . .

-Conservatism: an Obituary

 

I find it significant that she used the same argument against anarchism, that the conservatives use against socialism.

"Yes, in a perfect world, but we aren't good enough for that".

 

In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.

-The anatomy of a Compromise

 

To declare that mankind would resort to murdering, looting and raping without the constant threat of imprisonment, is an argument from depravity.  To advocate lassiez-faire Capitalism with an appeal to depravity is like taking a man to an art gallery, at the admission fee of his eyeballs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's true that the term anarchy has all kinds of annotations both current and historical. In terms of describing a society there exists many treatises describing market anarchy in detail both as consisting in historical societies and in a possible future one. But how are you going to bring people to the barricades with "poly centric libertarian constitutional free market legal order" or some such, where market anarchy or anarcho capitalism does a way better job of that?

Not sure what you mean by polycentric. If you mean some notion of simultaneous legal systems where separate institutions that you choose are available to arbitrate conflicts you have. Of course a market does that well, but why would I want that to work well? I don't want that to work well because I see no way that such a system is going to help anyone. I don't care what word you use, what I advocate is monopoly on force in a constrained jurisdiction. Multiple legal institutions for the same geographic area is what I deny to be good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To declare that mankind would resort to murdering, looting and raping without the constant threat of imprisonment, is an argument from depravity.  To advocate lassiez-faire Capitalism with an appeal to depravity is like taking a man to an art gallery, at the admission fee of his eyeballs.

No, irrational people who do murder/looting/raping are the ones who would live under the threat of imprisonment. And if they had no threats or repercussions, they have that much more reason to continue their crimes. Thus a vicious circle of violence if I have to bolster my defenses when everyone can use force according to their judgment.

 

"If I'm doing what's right, and what I know is right, then who in the Hell do I have to prove anything to?"

No one - you'd be left alone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.