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Jennifer

Galt's Gulch had no government?

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Hi everyone. So, I was in a discuasion with some Liberarian friends of mine about Atpas Shrugged when one of them chimed in statong that Ayn Rand actually created a voluntarist/agorist utopia in Galt's Gulch as it had no government. I disagreed with this person and then another person said they did not rwmember it having any government either. I do not currently have the book in my posession and it uas been some time since I last read it. Could someone verify or otherwise refute this claim for me please? I find it unlikely that Ayn Rand would make sucu a mistake but I would like to be able to prive it Apparently this guy named Stefan Molyneux, who I have seen a number of other things from him I disagree with (he is an anarchist libertarian) made a youtube video stating this and this claim has since exploded into online communities. As a side note, someone also made this xokment to me when I said it had a government:

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There was technically a government; as the judge was appointed as an actual judge.

However, the point of the gulch was to represent what would happen in a very small society of people who were essentially morally perfect. Rand wasn't saying that you can have a country without a government; just that 50 truly amazing people can live without police prescence.

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Rand addressed this in one of the Q&A’s following a lecture, I don’t recall offhand which one (maybe someone will chime in with a reference). She said Galt’s Gulch was a private estate and indeed had no government, but this isn’t meant to be a model for the whole world. She certainly wasn’t an anarchist.

I suggest steering clear of Molyneux, here’s some material to read:

http://www.objectivi...74

Edited by Ninth Doctor

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Another way of putting it:

Government is for the sake of protecting innocents from people who would initiate force or fraud. Since they do exist, and always will, we need government. Galt's Gulch did not have anybody in it who would ever intentionally initiate force or fraud, nor did it have anybody who would deny it, if it turned out they had done so accidentally.

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Atlas Shrugged is first and foremost art, which means it is a representation of the author’s ideas. It’s a mistake to look to it as a complete treatise on philosophy and there is plenty of the author’s non-fiction to do that (which is why Rand later focused on it). Yes, this art was intended to dramatize Ayn Rand’s philosophy but its primary role was the dramatization of reason. The majority of the book focuses on what happens when people don’t use reason and those that do use reason stop carrying the rest forward. The valley dramatizes what can happen when all of the great thinkers gather in one spot and don’t need to contend with the looters. This is not a political statement but a representation of the producer’s ethics to contrast with the predominant one demonstrated through the rest of the novel – The looters world and what their morality causes. Thus, the novel moves from “hell” as Wyatt calls it to Atlantis.

It’s worth noting that the valley was owned by Midas so his property rights is also primary and they did appoint the judge but never needed him, both facts subtle points to also dramatize the ideas at work. But they are not worth to much political commentary since that was not the purpose – The purpose was to artistically demonstrate two world views and how one causes people to be in conflict while the other causes people to live in harmony.

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I would add further to the replies above, which I agree with, that Objectivism as a political philosophy is not Utopian. The point of freedom is to be free to act, which is not the same as achieving values or personifying virtues. It is necessary to be free to thrive as a human being but merely being free is not thriving. The phrase in the Declaration of Independence "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" does not state or imply that there is a right to be happy or that a free people is happy.

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Galt's Gulch was in the United States. It was a piece of property Midas bought in the mountains, to use as a hiding place from the government.

I don't understand the argument. What does writing about a group of fugitives have to do with anarchy?

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Government is for the sake of protecting innocents from people who would initiate force or fraud. Since they do exist, and always will, we need government. Galt's Gulch did not have anybody in it who would ever intentionally initiate force or fraud, nor did it have anybody who would deny it, if it turned out they had done so accidentally.

That is wrong. The proper function of a judicial system is to provide restitution for harms.

Even if all people were perfectly moral and perfectly rational, there would still be disagreements about contracts and tort claims (accidental damages.)

Edited by DavidV

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There weren't even enough people there to warrant what we would consider a government. Its like having three guys in the woods trying to survive and attempting to form a government for the purpose of law and order. Simple use of self defense and ostracism is enough and anything more is impractical. Frontiersmen in super-low populated areas used voluntary modes of dispute resolution in the old west. I read something about cattle farmers who joined clubs that helped figure out who owned what and such. It seemed to work while there was only five people every fourty square miles.

Population is extremely important when looking at what a society can and can not do. If we don't have enough people, then there is less of a division of labor, which means society needs to return to more affordable means of living.

softwareNerd and SapereAude like this

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Galt's Gulch did have a system of government in the sense that it had an overarching law in accordance with which everyone agreed to live, being of course that "No one has the right to initiate the use of force." It simply did not need to have a large number of persons employed in applying the law to actual disputes, transgressions, or confrontational situations. You may recall that Dagny's arrival by plane crash did warrant a decision being made on how to deal with her and her "trespass."

Rational objective law is the essential ingredient for harmonious co-existence. Judges (and court staff), police (and their support staff) & armed forces personnel (and their support staff) become necessary as the population grows: to settle disputes, deal with occasional criminal behavior, and defend against foreign attack. But the same law is and would be driving the whole system.

Edited by AllMenAreIslands

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As everyone agreed to live in the Gulch under the conditions laid down by Midas and Galt, and their was a judge, it was more minarchist than anarchist.

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That is wrong. The proper function of a judicial system is to provide restitution for harms.

Even if all people were perfectly moral and perfectly rational, there would still be disagreements about contracts and tort claims (accidental damages.)

As long as we're talking fiction here. I disagree with this. The Gulch was inhabited by individuals who had

proven themselves to be supremely rationally moral. How could there be a single disagreement?

Imagine watching two chess Grand Masters playing, and at the fourth move, the one says "I resign."

I'd be going WTH? But I'd realise quickly that he knew he was beat by his opponent - who would

play exactly the same as he, to victory. To be highly moral, is to be extremely conscious too.

Among equally rational people there can't be a fall-out - and in a close decision, I'd expect the benevolence, of

one or both, to hold sway on any issues of potential discord.

Government and individual rights are redundant among a group of 'self-owning' rational egoists.

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As long as we're talking fiction here. I disagree with this. The Gulch was inhabited by individuals who had

proven themselves to be supremely rationally moral. How could there be a single disagreement?

Because they are separate individuals, fallible and non-omniscient.

Beyond that, even though the thread topic is Galt's Gulch the post you reply to is itself a reply addressing a generalization about government, not just Galt's Gulch.

That is wrong. The proper function of a judicial system is to provide restitution for harms.

This is incomplete. Civil law addresses the problem of restitution, while criminal law addresses the problem of retribution. Both are needed.

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Because they are separate individuals, fallible and non-omniscient.

Beyond that, even though the thread topic is Galt's Gulch the post you reply to is itself a reply addressing a generalization about government, not just Galt's Gulch.

Fair enough, it was a generalized remark by DavidV - I was over-specific.

The issue of the *need* for government among extremely rational people.

I am assuming individuals who know even better than any judiciary, what their

responsibilities are in the case of accidents. (Fallibility, and so on - must surely be

irrelevant: as with that accidental shooting discussion, no one is claiming a deliberate

motive to injure another. An accident is an accident, but a rational egoist will not

evade the fact that he "pulled the trigger.")

Not cheating reality equates with self-responsibility, as in understanding the causality of

one's actions, and not evading a just restitution for any damage or harm that result.

Wasn't that Rand's intention? To show a society (Galt's Gulch)that has no need for government?

Back in the 'real world', it is the moral who must be protected from the irrational by

objective law - for retribution and restitution as you say.

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Even between the rational and moral people there is a possibility of honest disagreement. One needs an objective dispute resolution mechanism, that is-objective legislation. To provide this tool is a legitimate function of government. There is also a need of protection against foreign invasion, like Galt Goulch ray screen. Finaly, the half of the Galt Goulch population went to war-to free John Galt, and in such a case one needs to put the use of retaliatory force under the strict control of objective law. In other words even Galt Goulch needs a government.

Edited by Leonid

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Hi everyone. So, I was in a discuasion with some Liberarian friends of mine about Atpas Shrugged when one of them chimed in statong that Ayn Rand actually created a voluntarist/agorist utopia in Galt's Gulch as it had no government. I disagreed with this person and then another person said they did not rwmember it having any government either. I do not currently have the book in my posession and it uas been some time since I last read it. Could someone verify or otherwise refute this claim for me please? I find it unlikely that Ayn Rand would make sucu a mistake but I would like to be able to prive it Apparently this guy named Stefan Molyneux, who I have seen a number of other things from him I disagree with (he is an anarchist libertarian) made a youtube video stating this and this claim has since exploded into online communities. As a side note, someone also made this xokment to me when I said it had a government:

Your libertarian friend is right.

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Your libertarian friend is right.

No he was wrong.

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Even between the rational and moral people there is a possibility of honest disagreement. One needs an objective dispute resolution mechanism, that is-objective legislation. To provide this tool is a legitimate function of government. There is also a need of protection against foreign invasion, like Galt Goulch ray screen. Finaly, the half of the Galt Goulch population went to war-to free John Galt, and in such a case one needs to put the use of retaliatory force under the strict control of objective law. In other words even Galt Goulch needs a government.

Yes, but still, I am constantly arguing that we too often begin at the level of proper government,

individual rights and so on, and then reduce to the level an individual - rather than

the other way round. It seems relevant here.

In the case of Galt's Gulch - or any small society of rational egoists - my question remains:

Why government, when there is no need of one?

Right now, the debate is about accidental situations, and I'm hoping somebody can provide

just one scenario which two highly rational men could not resolve on their own.

I used a chess example of how, with reality as one's only reference, and a rational mind as

one's only judge, two chess players would early on arrive at the same conclusion of who would

win, and who lose. (Who is right, and who wrong.) And the loser would honestly admit it.

One of some accidental scenarios I've imagined:

[John drives into the back of Hugh's car on the highway.]

John: I'm so sorry, my fault since I caused the collision.

Of course, I will pay your damages.

Hugh: True you rode into me, but I've been having trouble

with my brake lights, and it's remiss of me to not

have had them fixed - so when I braked suddenly for that

dog, you quite likely had no warning!

John: Yeah, I don't think I saw your lights - but still, I was

obviously driving too close for that speed, and ultimately

it is my fault.

Hugh: Well, so many factors involved, what say you we each pay our

own damages?

{They shake hands on it.]

Every scenario I can think of comes up the same. First, because these men are

rational egoists who are self-judging truth-adherents, who cannot under any

circumstances fake reality. Second, because they possess the benevolence that

comes from the confidence that other men are not out to screw them. In any complex cases,

benevolence and mutual respect would be the final arbiter, I have no doubt.

A court - actually only an impartial, third-party, arbiter - couldn't do any better, and

sometimes worse, than would two rational egoists, I think, in solving an "honest disagreement."

"I have gained this from philosophy: that I do without being commanded, what

others do only from fear of the law."

[Aristotle]

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Suppose John borrowed money from Hugh and completely forgot about it. ( real life example). When Hugh approaches John to collect his money, John honestly denies that he ever borrowed it-maybe he became a bit senile. Here you need the procedure of objective proof-means to identify the truth. That could be a verification of certain documents, a subpoena of witnesses, assesstment of John mental state etc...In other words you need a set of objective laws which only government as an independent legislation authority could provide.

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I just finished reading the novel again the other day, and I recall that said Judge was adding a new clause to the Declaration of Independence, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade". So I gather that they were on private property and waiting for the collapse to take place to go back.

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Yes, but still, I am constantly arguing that we too often begin at the level of proper government,

individual rights and so on, and then reduce to the level an individual - rather than

the other way round. It seems relevant here.

In the case of Galt's Gulch - or any small society of rational egoists - my question remains:

Why government, when there is no need of one?

Right now, the debate is about accidental situations, and I'm hoping somebody can provide

just one scenario which two highly rational men could not resolve on their own.

....

One of some accidental scenarios I've imagined:

[John drives into the back of Hugh's car on the highway.]

John: I'm so sorry, my fault since I caused the collision.

Of course, I will pay your damages.

Hugh: True you rode into me, but I've been having trouble

with my brake lights, and it's remiss of me to not

have had them fixed - so when I braked suddenly for that

dog, you quite likely had no warning!

John: Yeah, I don't think I saw your lights - but still, I was

obviously driving too close for that speed, and ultimately

it is my fault.

Hugh: Well, so many factors involved, what say you we each pay our

own damages?

{They shake hands on it.]

You are equating being rational to never being wrong. All you have to do is tweak your scenario a bit, insert some ignorance into it.

Let's say Hugh has never met John before in his life (and he therefor has no idea whether he is trustworthy or not), and he also doesn't know that his break lights weren't working. It was a new car, he just assumes that they were working fine.

Now there is a conflict: John knows he is in the right, but Hugh mistakenly believes that he is. He has no reason to take John's word about the break light not working. Within his context of knowledge, he will reasonably assume that they were working (after all, in the vast majority of situations, these accidents happen because of driver error, not technical malfunction - especially not with a brand new car).

Edited by Nicky

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I just finished reading the novel again the other day, and I recall that said Judge was adding a new clause to the Declaration of Independence, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade". So I gather that they were on private property and waiting for the collapse to take place to go back.

The "copy of an ancient document" Judge Narragansett was editing was the Constitution of the United States

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The "copy of an ancient document" Judge Narragansett was editing was the Constitution of the United States

Right, I confused the two. Whoops.

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You are equating being rational to never being wrong. All you have to do is tweak your scenario a bit, insert some ignorance into it.

Let's say Hugh has never met John before in his life (and he therefor has no idea whether he is trustworthy or not), and he also doesn't know that his break lights weren't working. It was a new car, he just assumes that they were working fine.

Now there is a conflict: John knows he is in the right, but Hugh mistakenly believes that he is. He has no reason to take John's word about the break light not working. Within his context of knowledge, he will reasonably assume that they were working (after all, in the vast majority of situations, these accidents happen because of driver error, not technical malfunction - especially not with a brand new car).

Hey, that's my scenario you are tweaking! Only I know what happened!

Seriously, the flaw is in "he has no reason to take John's word..."

Remember, we are in a rational mini-society, in which all inhabitants presume

that all men and women are rational, just like themselves.

It's not a question of "never being wrong" - it is a question of always being

honest - even if one is wrong, one can be honestly wrong.

So yes, he would have every reason to take John's word for it, or any stranger's.

As last resort, he'd allow benefit of the doubt, benevolently.

I haven't read AS for many years, and I am a bit hazy on details, but my theory is that

Rand was showing with Galt's Gulch, not how an ideal government worked (there wasn't one)

nor what a Utopian society could look like - but how individual men can and should live

together. Showing that government, even an exemplary minimal one, would be superfluous when

any man could not in his wildest dreams intrude upon another's 'moral rights', his self-

sovereignty.

If by accident or consciously, he did - he would be the first to take responsibility, acnowledge

it, and make amends.

Out in 'normal' society (with its mixed rationality, and irrationality) moral men would have need of

individual rights, only for their protection from the immoral, and no other reason. Rights will not make for a rationally moral society: only each man can achieve that for himself.

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