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. Unlike other Objectivists, I actually do see room for competition of legal firms under the state's umbrella. They could compete over speed, location, harshness/leniancy of judges, prices, etc, but then cannot properly compete over which laws are enforced and not enforced.

And just to key in on this point, because I do have an argument for this, I think this falls prey to the same kind of objections as noted earlier. In this theory, the state can act as a sort of "licensing agency," granting licenses to act within a certain set of legal rules. First of all, what exactly this means can have varying interpretations (I'll skip listing all of them for now), but suppose that means something like the state confines itself to imposing only those general principles that are required by objective justice. If one believes, as we both do, in such a single, uniform standard, then what possible objection could you have to this?

Well let's think what this would look like for a second. We're supposed to have a variety of competing agencies on the free market, and one organization takes upon itself the job of forcing all the other agencies to conform to the single, uniform standard of objective justice. But it's the only organization doing this, so then suppose another organization enters that field and competes in the job of being the "licensing agency" certifying in accordance with the same exact principles of justice. Does it then prohibit competition in that field? If so, then it is an unjust aggressor for the same reasons above, for if the coercive imposition of these objective principles of justice is permissible, then it is permissible for anybody. Secondly, it is also undesirable on incentive grounds, since all coercive monopolies (and licensing laws) lack the very checks and balances that make us want competition in the first place, and so this type of argument completely fails on its own grounds.

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The notion that a government can in any manner be objective in the salient sense is historically falsified by the American empire. That there is a centralized force to administer justice only means justice is even more corruptible, if you're to by the arguments for capitalism offered by many Objectivists.

Beyond the moral issue, there is also the fact that there is no way for economic calculation of a monopoly to take place. Government is monopoly on force, so how do we determine how costly justice is? We submit it to a market place, but statists demand that justice not be a matter of market determination.

Also, for the record, market anarchism does not start with Rothbard. The first in spirit market anarchist was Gustave de Molinari. Rothbard and other respected market anarchists usually admit to his being the first and most robust theory of private justice.

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Before I give a full response, can you give me your definition of anarchy?

Sure. I don't think has any real set meaning, which is why I avoid the term. But in the widest sense, I define it as any social system which does not have a state. (It's analogous to the term "atheist," it doesn't give any positive content, and people of all sorts of different beliefs can be held under the same term.) I define a state as a territorial monopolist on the use of force.

I think Objectivists, through the use of Ayn Rand’s phrase “competing governments” (a phrase rarely used by anarchists themselves) to describe the anarchist system tend to commit packaged-deal fallacies to embody law and order itself into the concept of the state, so that anarchy is not just the absence of a state, but the absence of law and order itself. Obviously by “competing governments” we cannot mean competing states. My guess, then, is that by “government” Rand sometimes means (despite her official definition in any other context besides when talking about anarchy) something like: an institution or set of institutions governing human activity through the application of rules, i.e. something like "law." Obivously we are not opposed to law and would like to see more law and order.

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This may be a very simple question that shows my limited knowledge of anarcho-capitalism, but how can laws, even laws developed by private justice firms on a free market, have any force in an anarcho-capitalist society? In other words, let's say I accidentally run over my neighbor's cat. He demands I pay or spend 10 days in prison, or something, and his security firm that he subscribes to backs his claim. And I simply say, "Uhhh ... no thanks." How could the security firm use "law" against me if law is really a form of archy?

I realize I might be missing huge parts of the puzzle here, so enlighten me?

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This may be a very simple question that shows my limited knowledge of anarcho-capitalism, but how can laws, even laws developed by private justice firms on a free market, have any force in an anarcho-capitalist society? In other words, let's say I accidentally run over my neighbor's cat. He demands I pay or spend 10 days in prison, or something, and his security firm that he subscribes to backs his claim. And I simply say, "Uhhh ... no thanks." How could the security firm use "law" against me if law is really a form of archy?

I realize I might be missing huge parts of the puzzle here, so enlighten me?

I don't think the answer is any different from what "gives the law force" under government. The question seems to be asking, in effect, what makes the judgments of the legal system "stick," so to speak. Well so then what happens under government? Surely it is not the fact that some law is written on some piece of paper that "makes it stick," for as I pointed out, such written guarantees are neither necessary nor sufficient to ensure people act in certain ways. As long as people have free will, nothing external to those people and the institutions they arrange themselves in will "make it stick" or "give it force." Making a given judgment stick, or giving it force, is the function of the entire system of interlocking agencies, agreements societal norms, and incentive structures that comprise the free market. The idea that there must be one coercive super-agency to make something stick is precisely the idea market anarchism challenges. Even under the supposedly preferred regime of limited government, there is no one branch, let alone one individual officer, who makes such judgments stick. Securing cooperation among the branches of government is the function of checks and balances, separation of powers, etc., not the function of some unchecked superordinate branch. The free market as a constitutional political structure is simply a generalisation of the principle of checks and balances, not the elimination of law and order. Again, as previously stated, the "archy" we oppose illegitimate authority (such as embodied in a coercive monopoly), not law and order itself. Edited by 2046

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Thanks. But can you do your best to address my particular example? Is the example itself badly misunderstanding the issues? What if, in the case of a minor dispute (where I would be largely free from social ostracism if I declines to abide by some private law demand), if I refused to comply with a demand of justice (repaying for a window that I broke while playing baseball, for another example), what would make the private security firm's private law demand for justice "stick" if I refused to comply?

It seems to me that force is the only final arbiter, or final means to make a law "stick." But how is a private market force justifiable in anarchism if I simply refuse to comply?

Edited by secondhander

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Sure. I don't think has any real set meaning, which is why I avoid the term. But in the widest sense, I define it as any social system which does not have a state. (It's analogous to the term "atheist," it doesn't give any positive content, and people of all sorts of different beliefs can be held under the same term.) I define a state as a territorial monopolist on the use of force.

I need something a little more than that. I still don't really get what you are advocating. Ok, you want a market for law, but what does that mean in concrete terms? Do you want to set up your own private security firm (or someone else to set it up for you) and not be stopped by the state from doing so? And if so, how would you treat competitors and what rights do they have in yourn mind? And furthermore, what are rights?

Maybe I'm not seeing it, but to me you keep falling back on the "sim-city" arguments where you envision anarchy just springing out of nowhere and providing just law (for the most part). Perhaps there isn't even that much of a difference between what you and I are saying. I see no problem with secession as long as the new government is equally or better suited to protecting individual rights.

Edit: Upon further thought, I think the entire definitions of anarchy and government should revolve around the question of rights. Do non-objective force wielders have the right conduct their own form of justice? If your answer is no, then surely you would support a just force user's right to destroy the unjust force users. In which case, there is no anarchy, because the legal system is united. Even if their are multiple organizations providing the justice, their cooperation and common idelogy put them on the same level as friendly countries. The only difference would be the existence of some form of profit motive since presumably these organizations would be private enterprises and not charities.

My only concern there is that the profit motive is not necesarily (and in fact almost never) aligned with objective justice. Under such circumstances, we would return to the same issue with legal systems clashing. My question to you is what proof do you have that this would lead to objective law? You have mentioned incentives, but can you clarify?

Edited by Dormin111

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Thanks. But can you do your best to address my particular example? Is the example itself badly misunderstanding the issues? What if, in the case of a minor dispute (where I would be largely free from social ostracism if I declines to abide by some private law demand), if I refused to comply with a demand of justice (repaying for a window that I broke while playing baseball, for another example), what would make the private security firm's private law demand for justice "stick" if I refused to comply?

It seems to me that force is the only final arbiter, or final means to make a law "stick." But how is a private market force justifiable in anarchism if I simply refuse to comply?

The issue would be brought before your security firm and your neighbor's. Some sort of arbitration would occur and a decision about your fate would be made. However, what decision is made is largely predicated upon the power of each firm in terms of military might. My concern is that essentially the stronger of the two firms could enforce their own decision regardless of the what actually should occur according to objective standards.

If you simply refuse to comply, then presumably yourn neighbor's security firm will want to arrest you. Whether or not the firm can will depend upon its evaluation of how your firm will react. A gun fight in the street is possible, though expensive and not an attractive option. Rather, one firm would probably just stare down the other.

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But what if you didn't have a firm -- decided not to pay the dues or whatnot? then presumably any other person's "security firm" could simply arrest you without arbitration, and enact their own punishment and rule over your life. I know you aren't defending the position, just explaining it to me. But it seems like these are real problems with the anarcho-capitalism viewpoint.

The problem I see with it from my limited perspective so far, is that it treats justice as subjective in theory, if not also in practice (even if Rothbard didn't believe natural rights were subjective). In other words, one security firm could enact its own laws that are contrary to the non-aggression principle, and they would have to be deemed in theory as just, and another security firm would possibly argue against those violations of the non-aggression principle, and then some arbitration would be relaized that may or may not ultimately honor the non-aggression principle.

But justice with regard to man's rights IS a monopoly. And there should be a consistent defense of those rights across the board.

To put it another way, I can envision two concepts: Man's rights as one concept, and the entity of justice that enforces the means of protecting man's rights on the other hand. If man's rights is a monopoly (in other words, there is an objective understanding of what man's rights are), then wouldn't there need to be a monopoly on the entity that protects man's rights? If it were left up to a set of multiple entities, each with various views toward justice, then there seems to be an interjection of subjectivity in enforcement into the concept of objectivity in justice theory, thus destroying the goal of objective social justice in practical living.

Here's an example of what I'm thinking of. One "security agency" has clients that agree that prostitution is criminal. Further, the agency agrees to work toward removing prostitution from the society where its clients reside. So, the agency finds a female prostitute, and arrests her, knowing that her security agency will come and arbitrate for her release. Well, even before the arbitration, her rights have already been violated. This is because by having multiple different security agencies with different aims and subjective justice values, the claim to an objective natural right of man is nullified, or at least thrown to the mercy of arbitration.

Another problem I see with it is that certain security agencies will become prevalent along geographical lines, and eventually you will be right back to small nation states, where within those nation states people are back at square one in terms of fighting for their natural rights in presence of an oppressive security agency government.

It seems then that, justice is not a commodity like goods and services are on the free market. Justice (in reference to the right to one's own life) is an objective fact, and therefore a monopoly. Allowing any government, whether a security agency among many others, or a single "monopolistic" government to violate man's rights is evil and should be opposed. So it does not really matter with whether you are dealing with a multiplicity of competing governments, or a single government. The fight is still the same, and in fact may be an easier fight when you are dealing with a monopoly of a government.

Edited by secondhander

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Making a given judgment stick, or giving it force, is the function of the entire system of interlocking agencies, agreements societal norms, and incentive structures that comprise the free market.

But in a free market there are no societal norms or judgments that are given force or that can be enforced. In the term "free market" the word "free" means: free from force. In the quoted sentence "free market" is a stolen concept -- what you are saying is: "we need a market free from force in order to trade in force".

This is the contradiction commonly accepted and ignored by all "market anarchists".

Again, as previously stated, the "archy" we oppose illegitimate authority (such as embodied in a coercive monopoly), not law and order itself.

This is the fundamental confusion employed and promulgated by anarchists in general: the ignoring of the difference between initiatory and retaliatory force by grouping them together under the term "coercion". For the government to say to its citizens "individuals have the right to life so you may not murder each other and if you do, we will put you in jail" is not coercion since rational people refrain from murder willingly. And it is not initiatory force. It is only the publishing of an objective law along with the consequences of what will happen if you initiate force -- it is retaliatory in nature.

Initiation of force is always immoral and should be illegal. Retaliatory force is a moral imperative. Government, properly, holds a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force. By using the term "coercive monopoly" anarchists want you to believe that not only is force always bad but so is a monopoly. In fact they are wrong on both counts.

From another thread here is my standard argument against a "market in force":

There is a fundamental contradiction involved in having a "market in force" and it is impossible to get around.

Markets like minds do not and can not operate by force. "Freedom" means: free from force. When we speak of a free market we mean a market free of force. A "market in force" is not only a contradiction in terms but I believe it makes use of a stolen concept.

The only way to decide the issue is on principle:

- The only thing that can violate your Rights is force.

- Therefore, the only civilized interactions among men occur when no force is involved.

- The only proper function of government is to protect your Rights.

- It follows then that what government must do is outlaw the use of physical force.

- You don't outlaw the use of physical force by making it lawful for men to practice it.

You cannot uphold a principle by violating it.

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I need something a little more than that. I still don't really get what you are advocating. Ok, you want a market for law, but what does that mean in concrete terms? Do you want to set up your own private security firm (or someone else to set it up for you) and not be stopped by the state from doing so? And if so, how would you treat competitors and what rights do they have in yourn mind? And furthermore, what are rights?

Maybe I'm not seeing it, but to me you keep falling back on the "sim-city" arguments where you envision anarchy just springing out of nowhere and providing just law (for the most part). Perhaps there isn't even that much of a difference between what you and I are saying.

No, I don't think anything will "spring out of nowhere," I don't know why you resort to such wording which is obviously designed to misrepresent. Government is one pattern of social activity supported by individual human agents. The free market is another. When people stop acting is such a way that supports governmental monopoly, and start acting in other ways based on articulated philosophical principles, then that's where a new form of social organization comes from. It's the same as we say we want people to change and stop supporting interventionism and, based on articulated philosophical principles, form a limited government. You don't ask, but I'm baffled, where exactly does this "limited government" come from (as if there is some location occupying some Archimedean point outside of the society that constitutes it)? Does it spring from nowhere?

I see no problem with secession as long as the new government is equally or better suited to protecting individual rights.

If one agency is equally or better suited to protecting individual rights, and the person may withdraw support from one previous organization to a later equal or better agency, then logically you support market anarchism.

Edit: Upon further thought, I think the entire definitions of anarchy and government should revolve around the question of rights. Do non-objective force wielders have the right conduct their own form of justice? If your answer is no, then surely you would support a just force user's right to destroy the unjust force users. In which case, there is no anarchy, because the legal system is united.
Certainly, I agree that the legal system should protect individual rights, and that this protection should be universal and uniform as needed, but I don't think it follows that "there is no anarchy."

If competing courts converge on a shared set of norms, that does not mean they become part of a single monopoly institution. Burger King and McDonald's products bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, but they are not regarded as the same firm.

My question to you is what proof do you have that this would lead to objective law? You have mentioned incentives, but can you clarify?

Yes, I can clarify. I'm not saying all anarchies would inevitably lead to objective law, I'm pretty sure I said the exact opposite of that earlier. Again, you are not saying that forming a government would automatically lead to objective law. There is emphasis on articulated philosophical principles on the one hand, and emphasis on the best constitutional structure on the other hand. Both a limited government and the free market are forms of constitutional structures, and I think limited government is (largely unbeknownst to its advocates) designed to imitiate the mechanisms of the free market, which are more consistent generalizations of the principle of checks and balances.

Therefore, what I am saying is that the free market does not lack some form of objectivity available to states, and that competition is superior to monopoly for familiar feedback and incentival reasons. It's the same standard argument against having a monopoly in shoe production, t shirts, ballpoint pens, restaurants, sunglasses, lawn care, stock brokers, etc. that Objectivists would use in every other context.

Edited by 2046

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The problem I see with it from my limited perspective so far, is that it treats justice as subjective in theory, if not also in practice (even if Rothbard didn't believe natural rights were subjective). In other words, one security firm could enact its own laws that are contrary to the non-aggression principle, and they would have to be deemed in theory as just, and another security firm would possibly argue against those violations of the non-aggression principle, and then some arbitration would be relaized that may or may not ultimately honor the non-aggression principle.

Certainly that is a problem, but not one specific to anarchy. How is it any different with a government? Last time I checked, President Obama had a different interpretation of justice from, say, Ron Paul, and both desired to enact laws which may or may not be in line with the non-aggression principle. So what happens under government? Well, under our system, we have a series of constitutional restraints, you have various checks and balances and so forth, and we have some form of arbitration or deliberation, and the result may or may not honor the non-aggression principle.

That people have differing interpretions of justice is not unique to the free market, it is an all-pervasive fact of human nature, as Locke pointed out in his argument for constitutional government. As he points out, there would be no point in having various competing jurisdictions, separation of powers, and checks and balances, if we all had the same interpretation of justice. So on the free market there are constitutional restraints, and various checks and balances too, that is, there are various institutions and incentives for people to do things. The point of constitutional design is that the government is supposed to be structured in such a way that people have an incentive to work together and reach some reasonable solution rather than fighting it out when they have differing interpretations of justice. So there are also incentives in a market-based legal order for people to work together peacefully rather than fighting it out. In fact, you could argue that they have more incentive, because with defense services being provided on the free market, it's harder for anyone to externalize their costs, thus people are less likely to choose violent conflict instead of coming to a consensus.

But justice with regard to man's rights IS a monopoly. And there should be a consistent defense of those rights across the board.

Certainly we agree that there should be a consistent defense of natural rights acress the board. But this does not mean a consistent defense of those rights across the board requires a monopoly, or in your words is a monopoly, because this would make the same mistake as Dormin111 above in regards Burger King and McDonald's. There is no reason to conflate competition among agencies with competition among ways of doing things. Or are we to assume Burger King and McDonald's are same firm? DC Comics and Marvel? Edited by 2046

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But in a free market there are no societal norms or judgments that are given force or that can be enforced. In the term "free market" the word "free" means: free from force. In the quoted sentence "free market" is a stolen concept -- what you are saying is: "we need a market free from force in order to trade in force".

This is the contradiction commonly accepted and ignored by all "market anarchists".

The phrase "market free from force" is a redundancy, and the proposition "we need a market which sells defense services" is not contradictory, as long as such services themselves are retaliatory in nature, as you yourself are capable of distinguishing below.

This is the fundamental confusion employed and promulgated by anarchists in general: the ignoring of the difference between initiatory and retaliatory force by grouping them together under the term "coercion". For the government to say to its citizens "individuals have the right to life so you may not murder each other and if you do, we will put you in jail" is not coercion since rational people refrain from murder willingly. And it is not initiatory force. It is only the publishing of an objective law along with the consequences of what will happen if you initiate force -- it is retaliatory in nature.

Initiation of force is always immoral and should be illegal. Retaliatory force is a moral imperative. Government, properly, holds a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force. By using the term "coercive monopoly" anarchists want you to believe that not only is force always bad but so is a monopoly. In fact they are wrong on both counts.

What? Please cite where I said force is always bad. This is the typical zealous re-hashing of canned talking points which is completely unconnected to anything I wrote.

From another thread here is my standard argument against a "market in force":

There is a fundamental contradiction involved in having a "market in force" and it is impossible to get around.

Markets like minds do not and can not operate by force. "Freedom" means: free from force. When we speak of a free market we mean a market free of force. A "market in force" is not only a contradiction in terms but I believe it makes use of a stolen concept.

The only way to decide the issue is on principle:

- The only thing that can violate your Rights is force.

- Therefore, the only civilized interactions among men occur when no force is involved.

- The only proper function of government is to protect your Rights.

- It follows then that what government must do is outlaw the use of physical force.

- You don't outlaw the use of physical force by making it lawful for men to practice it.

You cannot uphold a principle by violating it.

Okay. Cool. I'm not proposing making it lawful for men to initiate force. It is a non sequitur to go from hey, aggression should be outlawed, to ergo we must have a coercive monopoly government. Edited by 2046

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A MISSING PIECE IN THE DISCUSSION: HOW TO DEFINE "TERRITORY"

2046 is making, in my opinion, a brilliant defense of anarchism.

I have no way to argue. I declare myself defeated: I have exhausted my ideas on how to defend the possibility of a proper monopoly of force within a given territory, IF territory is defined by the currently existing borders between nation-States...

This in no way undermines the metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and esthetic premises of Objectivism. It does not undermine its view of politics as far as the definition of rights is concerned. It would only challenge a particular view of Ayn Rand on how to protect rights.

In addition of all what has been said in this thread, there is a further problem that has not been addressed: is there an objective, ethical foundation for the definition of the boundaries of the territory in which a government has the monopoly of force?

If we cannot define "territory" ethically, then we cannot have a State at all.

To me, the only objective, ethical foundation is the free will of land owners.

I live in Mexico. If I owned a piece of land in the Sourthern margin of the Grande River, and I was insatisfied with the corrupt, inefficient Mexican government and would like to be protected by the USA more efficient government OVER my privately owned territory, then I could ethically have the choice to re-define the borders of Mexico, so that the new border would put my piece of land under USA jurisdiction.

What would be the rational / moral basis of a government to claim jurisdiction over my privately owned land?

Let's remember that boundaries of States were generally established by violent means, that did not include the opinion of the smaller owners of the land involved. Indeed, during the definition of boundaries it has been common to see forced migration of people and unspeakable violation of rights. Keeping the borders as they are also involves initiation of force. If I were to declare my land under the jurisdiction of another government, even a better government (a one that performs better in protecting rights) I would see soldiers or policemen trespassing my fences, taking me to jail, accusing me of traison or shooting me.

Edited by Hotu Matua

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No, I don't think anything will "spring out of nowhere," I don't know why you resort to such wording which is obviously designed to misrepresent.

That was not my intention.

If competing courts converge on a shared set of norms, that does not mean they become part of a single monopoly institution. Burger King and McDonald's products bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, but they are not regarded as the same firm.

Fair enough.

Yes, I can clarify. I'm not saying all anarchies would inevitably lead to objective law, I'm pretty sure I said the exact opposite of that earlier. Again, you are not saying that forming a government would automatically lead to objective law. There is emphasis on articulated philosophical principles on the one hand, and emphasis on the best constitutional structure on the other hand. Both a limited government and the free market are forms of constitutional structures, and I think limited government is (largely unbeknownst to its advocates) designed to imitiate the mechanisms of the free market, which are more consistent generalizations of the principle of checks and balances.

Therefore, what I am saying is that the free market does not lack some form of objectivity available to states, and that competition is superior to monopoly for familiar feedback and incentival reasons. It's the same standard argument against having a monopoly in shoe production, t shirts, ballpoint pens, restaurants, sunglasses, lawn care, stock brokers, etc. that Objectivists would use in every other context.

The issue we have been circling and the one I do not think you have adequately addressed is the difference between force and other products. You breifly stated that force should not be treated differently than any other product, but I do not see how this can be true for reasons I have alredy stated and I am sure you are aware of. When shoe companies compete, they try to provide a better service to their customers than their competitors within a legal framework. An ordinary company has little incentive to operate outside the confines of objective law given the potential for legal backlash. This is not the case with theorietical defense agencies which may very well depend upon criminal activity to sustain itself. I suppose the immidiate retort would be to point out that the same thing can be said about the government; however a minority will not sway a proper government to abuse rights, any number of well funded people can buy the services of, or start an insurance agency. The incentive of a company is to pursue profit. This is normally not a problem. The incentives of governments are generally not as angelic as civic text books like to say, but at least there is a general sense of what a government should, or should not do.

Edited by Dormin111

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Anarchism seems so anti-intellectual. Not as bad as pacifism, but worse than isolationism. Why assume all governments by definition are evil and tyrannical? How is a government dedicated to protecting liberty and private property necessarily inferior to a private security agency dedicated to protecting liberty and private property?

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In a rational society a constitutional govt would be predicated on the rcognition and protection of individual rights . It would be literally the principles. The officials would be the agents that act only those principles. A government of laws and not men. The underlying , foundational principle would be the recognition of individual rights, and the protection of freedom in practice.

How would competition between men to be the agents of force, not be a government of men?

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A MISSING PIECE IN THE DISCUSSION: HOW TO DEFINE "TERRITORY"

2046 is making, in my opinion, a brilliant defense of anarchism.

I have no way to argue. I declare myself defeated: I have exhausted my ideas on how to defend the possibility of a proper monopoly of force within a given territory, IF territory is defined by the currently existing borders between nation-States...

This in no way undermines the metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and esthetic premises of Objectivism. It does not undermine its view of politics as far as the definition of rights is concerned. It would only challenge a particular view of Ayn Rand on how to protect rights.

In addition of all what has been said in this thread, there is a further problem that has not been addressed: is there an objective, ethical foundation for the definition of the boundaries of the territory in which a government has the monopoly of force?

If we cannot define "territory" ethically, then we cannot have a State at all.

To me, the only objective, ethical foundation is the free will of land owners.

I live in Mexico. If I owned a piece of land in the Sourthern margin of the Grande River, and I was insatisfied with the corrupt, inefficient Mexican government and would like to be protected by the USA more efficient government OVER my privately owned territory, then I could ethically have the choice to re-define the borders of Mexico, so that the new border would put my piece of land under USA jurisdiction.

What would be the rational / moral basis of a government to claim jurisdiction over my privately owned land?

Let's remember that boundaries of States were generally established by violent means, that did not include the opinion of the smaller owners of the land involved. Indeed, during the definition of boundaries it has been common to see forced migration of people and unspeakable violation of rights. Keeping the borders as they are also involves initiation of force. If I were to declare my land under the jurisdiction of another government, even a better government (a one that performs better in protecting rights) I would see soldiers or policemen trespassing my fences, taking me to jail, accusing me of traison or shooting me.

I think it apt to quote Lysander Spooner on such borders and the pretended consent of everyone inside of them:

The "nations," as they are called, with whom our pretended ambassadors, secretaries, presidents, and senators profess to make treaties, are as much myths as our own. On general principles of law and reason, there are no such "nations." That is to say, neither the whole people of England, for example, nor any open, avowed, responsible body of men, calling themselves by that name, ever, by any open, written, or other authentic contract with each other, formed themselves into any bona fide, legitimate association or organization, or authorized any king, queen, or other representative to make treaties in their name, or to bind them, either individually, or as an association, by such treaties.

Our pretended treaties, then, being made with no legitimate or bona fide nations, or representatives of nations, and being made, on our part, by persons who have no legitimate authority to act for us, have instrinsically no more validity than a pretended treaty made by the Man in the Moon with the king of the Pleiades.

Needless to say, on this view we would consider the answer to be no, there is no justification for any borders beyond individual owners and owners associations constituted by forming voluntary arrangements and contracts.

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I think it apt to quote Lysander Spooner on such borders and the pretended consent of everyone inside of them:

The "nations," as they are called, with whom our pretended ambassadors, secretaries, presidents, and senators profess to make treaties, are as much myths as our own. On general principles of law and reason, there are no such "nations." That is to say, neither the whole people of England, for example, nor any open, avowed, responsible body of men, calling themselves by that name, ever, by any open, written, or other authentic contract with each other, formed themselves into any bona fide, legitimate association or organization, or authorized any king, queen, or other representative to make treaties in their name, or to bind them, either individually, or as an association, by such treaties.

Our pretended treaties, then, being made with no legitimate or bona fide nations, or representatives of nations, and being made, on our part, by persons who have no legitimate authority to act for us, have instrinsically no more validity than a pretended treaty made by the Man in the Moon with the king of the Pleiades.

That particular Spooner quote is trivially refuted. Armies and those who fund them are responsible 'bodies of men' and they bind themselves together in hope of victory and a peace treaty on their terms. Examples: Roman civil wars, English civil wars, American revolution, and on and on.

Governments do not require the unanimous consent of all those they govern. That is an objective fact of history, under any objective definition of the concept of government. That a government should require the unanimous consent of all those they govern is a false idea because governments are formed explicitly to deal harshly with those who objectively demonstrate that they do not consent by presuming to wield force in unauthorized ways. One whose consent is withheld purely mentally but refrains from physically rebelling is consenting in the only sense that matters for purposes of government: the objective sense. Subjective non-consent is irrelevant because governments are all about physical force, not mental agreement or good natured fellowship.

Objective law is defined by Rand: "All laws must be objective (and objectively justifiable): men must know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it." Draconian, rights violating laws can still be objective so long as they are written in language using valid concepts and do not leave government officials room to selectively or creatively enforce or redefine the law. Selective or creative enforcement, i.e. some kind of difference in law enforcement that matters, is exactly what competing governments are supposed to be for. Two "competing governments" in the same territory automatically creates subjectivity even if everything about each individual institution was objectively defined and clear so long as there is a difference between them that makes selection meaningful.

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Two "competing governments" in the same territory automatically creates subjectivity even if everything about each individual institution was objectively defined and clear so long as there is a difference between them that makes selection meaningful.

But if you define "territory" as "my privately owned land", then you don't have competing governments over THAT territory.

We have this sort of anarchy already.

For example: Let's take the case of John and Paul, John owning a pet-friendly hotel and Paul a hotel that forbids their guests to bring along pets.

Within Pau'ls property, any guest who violates that law can be expulsed, even by the use of force. And it doesn't matter whether Paul is protected by agency A and the guest is protected by agency B, the matter in question should be resolved under the assumption that within Paul's hotel, it is the pet-forbidden law that applies.

The guest could not claim innocent because he abides by another legal code, as long as the guest is committing the act within the boundaries of Pau'ls territory.

In a free world, by entering my neighbour's territory (property), I will be bound by the objective law applicable to that property. If I am visiting a Muslim fundamentalist home, I would rather think twice if I would bring along my wife, who likes to wear mini-skirts. Needless to say, streets and squares would be privately owned, and make explicit the rules governing their properties and the government offering protection.

In summary, the tension between the concepts of "competing governments" and "monopoly of force within a territory" dissapears when the territory in question is small enough.

Edited by Hotu Matua

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Governments do not require the unanimous consent of all those they govern. That is an objective fact of history, under any objective definition of the concept of government. That a government should require the unanimous consent of all those they govern is a false idea because governments are formed explicitly to deal harshly with those who objectively demonstrate that they do not consent by presuming to wield force in unauthorized ways.

Unanimous consent on what? On the nature of the crime in question? You are right: no unanimous consent is needed because the nature and purpose of a government is precisely to judge on disagreement. But government requires consent from people it governs in terms of the choice of that government.

If this weren't true, then it will be all right if Yaron Brook seized by force the governemnt to implement an Objectivist rule over the USA.

The very endorsment of democratic elections by Objectivism strongly speaks on the attempt to reach volitional endorsement by individuals.

Well, such try is a nice try, but far from being ideal. Anarchy will be the final corollary of such an attempt.

One whose consent is withheld purely mentally but refrains from physically rebelling is consenting in the only sense that matters for purposes of government: the objective sense. Subjective non-consent is irrelevant because governments are all about physical force, not mental agreement or good natured fellowship.

But why the consent would have to be either "purely mentally" or by "physical force"? Why not by clearly speaking up your mind and signing a statement regarding the government you want to rule in your property, and raising a new flag? Why should all secessions be smashed by military force, just for the sake of preserving a certain border pattern?

Let me ask you two questions, Grames: 1) Should current borders be eternal? 2) What is the rational and ethical way to maintain, redefine, create or eliminate borders?

Objective law is defined by Rand: "All laws must be objective (and objectively justifiable): men must know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it."

It is my view that Ayn Rand has brought a solid foundation for the derivation of natural rights from reality and rational selfishness, and the proclamation of the need of objective Law and a government to protect those rights. Further claims on how territories are to be defined, the pros and cons of democratic elections, which specific wars the USA should have fought or not, how to deal with terrorism, whether to support Israel or Palestine, whether women should be elected President or not, all of that are attempts to apply philosophy to concrete problems, and any of them can be successful or flawed depending on the care with which facts of reality are grasped and integrated.

In my view, anarchism, if right, does not diminish an inch of what Ayn Rand's philosophy represents for politics, just as current views on homosexuality by Objectivist thinkers do not diminish an inch of Ayn Rand's contribution to the ethics of romance and sex.

Ayn Rand, because of her personal circumstances and the particular period of history she happened to lived in (the worst of the Cold War), needed desperately the USA as a robust State to fight for freedom and keep herself and her world safe from the Soviet Union. Objectivism is a philosophy to live on earth, and to live on earth she didn't need over 10,000 tiny "territories" whose owners choose a different "protective agency". She needed a single and robust State. Freedom, in her view, needed a state.

And, within current Objectivists, the same need can be felt as a way to defend freedom from the perceived threat of Muslim Fundamentalism.

But once Fundamentalists states and rogue states are all gone, and many countries approach to freedom (sometimes faster than the USA itself), the need for a strong American state will start to shake and give in. If Objectivist metaphysics, epistemology and ethics are to rule the world of the future, anarchism is inevitable. And anarchism will be accepted not because the concept of government is flawed, but because the concept of nation-State is flawed.

Edited by Hotu Matua

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The issue we have been circling and the one I do not think you have adequately addressed is the difference between force and other products. You breifly stated that force should not be treated differently than any other product, but I do not see how this can be true for reasons I have alredy stated and I am sure you are aware of. When shoe companies compete, they try to provide a better service to their customers than their competitors within a legal framework. An ordinary company has little incentive to operate outside the confines of objective law given the potential for legal backlash. This is not the case with theorietical defense agencies which may very well depend upon criminal activity to sustain itself. I suppose the immidiate retort would be to point out that the same thing can be said about the government; however a minority will not sway a proper government to abuse rights, any number of well funded people can buy the services of, or start an insurance agency. The incentive of a company is to pursue profit. This is normally not a problem. The incentives of governments are generally not as angelic as civic text books like to say, but at least there is a general sense of what a government should, or should not do.

Okay sure, this is of course another argument popular with Objectivists. Let's call this the "force is different" argument. Now, I'm not directing this at Dormin111 specifically, but it is interesting to note that Objectivists suddenly cling to these purely deductive type arguments when it comes to anarchy, and twist themselves into pretzels to try to prove anarchy is some kind of logical contradiction, and not a single well-known Objectivist have I ever seen has actually engaged the historical record on actually existing polycentric legal systems. But anyway, I digress.

So this objection goes, well look, you anarchists want to "place force on the market." But force and market are opposites. Coercion must sometimes be exercised, but coercion is one party substituting his judgment over anothers', it is not any kind of trade, therefore you cannot place coercion on the market. It's just not an economic good at all in the same way shoes, ballpoint pens, lawncare services, etc. are. Force is different in kind than market activity.

Okay, great. But what does this mean? That is a little less clear. The anarchist does not say anything to the contrary. We can fully recognize one party coercing another is not a trade between those two parties. We don't say that it is. So that can't be a refutation of the free market legal order.

We remain ambiguous about what is meant by "market in force." A lot of times, Objectivists seem to view "a market in force" as something akin to wanting to "have a competition in force," as something like "let's see who can initiate the most force," like it's the Olympics or something. So suppose by "placing force on the market" we interpret it to mean something like "placing aggression on the market." If we obey Marc K's exortion to distinguish between legitimate force (retaliatory) and aggressive force (initiation), then "placing force on the market" is either "placing aggression on the market" or "placing retaliatory force on the market." Certainly placing aggresion on the market would be a contradiction, but "placing (aggressive) force on the market" is not the free market anarchist's position, therefore this is of no force whatever. Rather, the market anarchist wants to eliminate aggression, and so favors organizing retaliatory force under objective law, the premise underpinning this obviously being that to prevent the free offering of these services under the division of labor is to initiate force. Why then, should retaliatory force under objective law not be open to market competition, why then should one not be allowed to withdraw support from one agency of retaliatory force, and go to an equal or better one? Simply saying "because it's different" now is insufficient, and we are owed an argument, not bare assertions.

Now the second objection you had was something like this. Under democracy, a minority is not enough to sway the government to do something. But on the free market, if one has a marginal size of customers, a niche so to speak, then one can demand things contrary to convention. First of all, I am not so sure about the statement that a minority is not enough to control a government. I think the empirical record shows that a wealthy minority can control a government. But let's ignore this contention, even acknowledging this, the question remains, what if some minority funded a bandit agency, and had enough funds to commit aggression against people. Couldn't this happen?

Of course it could. It's perfectly true that if you have people who are fanatical enough about wanting to impose some initiation of force on other people, if you've got a large enough group of people who are fanatical enough about this, then anarchy might not lead to libertarian results. But the point is, they're going to have to pay for it.

If you live in California, say, you might have a sizeable group of people who are just absolutely fanatical about wanting to ban smoking. Or if you live in Alabama, say, and it's homosexuality instead they want to ban, and not just on their property, but to enforce it on everyone's property. In that case, it may be that they are so fanatical that they may succeed in banning it. But remember that they are going to be paying for this. So when they get their monthly bill they're going to see, so to speak, okay here's your basic service, protection against aggression and whatnot, and here's your extended service, making sure other people aren't smoking or engaging in homosexual behavior and suchlike. Now the really fanatical people are going to say, yes, I'm willing to shell out extra money for that, but okay, so they're likely to be a problem under limited government too. Only under the coercive monopoly arrangement, they can get control of government and make it "all or nothing," whereas under a free market legal order, the dissenting people can still turn to other agencies to protect them from such invasions.

So there's two constitutional check and balances operating in favor of the free market there. One says, if they are as most people are, not really that fanatical about it, they are willing to say, well all I have to do is go into this anonymous voting booth and vote to restrict other people's freedom, well heck, I'd go in and do it, that's easy. But if they have to make themselves known and pay for it, maybe they'll say, gee I don't know, maybe I can reconcile myself to this. The other says, hey, I am really fanatical about this, and I will even pay for it, but you know, now I have to find and hire people willing to actually get shot at and do battle, people that have a real possibility of dying over this, because the people I'm enforcing this on are not a captive customer base, they can turn to other agencies for protecton, so when faced with "I can get shot/arrested for this," again most people will not find this worth it, as versus just going into a voting booth and hitting a button. In any case, this seems more like a reason not to have a single coercive monopoly government.

Edited by 2046

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Governments do not require the unanimous consent of all those they govern. That is an objective fact of history, under any objective definition of the concept of government. That a government should require the unanimous consent of all those they govern is a false idea because governments are formed explicitly to deal harshly with those who objectively demonstrate that they do not consent by presuming to wield force in unauthorized ways. One whose consent is withheld purely mentally but refrains from physically rebelling is consenting in the only sense that matters for purposes of government: the objective sense. Subjective non-consent is irrelevant because governments are all about physical force, not mental agreement or good natured fellowship.

You are equivocating between those who wish to offer competing services and those who are weilding force in unjust ways, amalgomating both under the title of "unauthorized." As argued above, that won't do because we don't assert that people should be allowed to weild force in unjust ways, nor that people should be allowed to weild force outside of objective law.

I'm afraid I don't get what you're saying in regards anything else. That a band of robbers and murderers makes themselves known to each other and claim to be my agent says nothing about whether or not such arrangements are justified. Also, fancy highlighting aside, that Rand quote is actually tells us nothing whatsoever about what objective law actually is. I take it to mean that objective law is unambiguous, and clearly definable, and known beforehand. Okay then, I'm not opposed to that, we can agree those are good things, so how are these traits only available to governments? We are not told.

In fact, if being known beforehand and clearly defined are traits of objective law, then this poses a problem for governments being compatibe with objective law. Coercive monopoly governments, isolated from consumer demand, have an incentive to over-produce laws. Legislative bodies, federal, state, and local, sign into law these huge telephone-book-sized piles of laws, and they are constantly churning these things out without even having read them. Just with Congress, leaving aside the state and local governments and the executive regulatory agencies, just what Congress passes alone, you couldn't possibly read through it all. Even if the content of these laws were excellent and totally objective, which we can't count on, you can never know the laws. Do you right here and now know all of the laws that apply to you? Of course you don't, no one can, no one can read through all the laws that apply to them in a lifetime.

Some regulatory agency that wanted to can find some law that you've broken at any time, and there is no way for you to know ahead of time what this is (businessmen often hire teams of lawyers to cover them from this.) If there are so many laws, and they are constantly being produced and constantly changing, all to the point where no one can know what they are, then this is the functional equivalent of there being no uniform, clearly known, and settled body of law. We would point out that under a private legal system where changes in law occur as a response to customer demand, such problems are much less likely. The incentive structure of the market is superior in regards to producing these very standards that you claim to want, and a single monopoly government turns out to be more subject to violating those standards.

Edited by 2046

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From Von Mises' conclusion in Bureaucracy

"Public administration, the handling of the government apparatus of coercion and compulsion, must necessarily be formalistic and bureaucratic. No reform can remove the bureaucratic features of the government’s bureaus. It is useless to blame them for their slowness and slackness. It is vain to lament over the fact that the assiduity, carefulness, and painstaking work of the average bureau clerk are, as a rule, below those of the average worker in private business. (There are, after all, many civil servants whose enthusiastic fervor amounts to unselfish sacrifice.) In the absence of an unquestionable yardstick of success and failure it is almost impossible for the vast majority of men to find that incentive to utmost exertion that the money calculus of profit-seeking business easily provides. It is of no use to criticize the bureaucrat’s pedantic observance of rigid rules and regulations. Such rules are indispensable if public administration is not to slip out of the hands of the top executives and degenerate into the supremacy of subordinate clerks. These rules are, moreover, the only means of making the law supreme in the conduct of public affairs and of protecting the citizen against despotic arbitrariness."

This idea leads to sustaining the principles of a government of laws and not men , no?

Edited by tadmjones

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