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The topic of minarchism vs anarchism is widely looked at in this forum, but I cannot seem to defend what I see as a contradiction in Objectivism.

The question, posed by an anarcho-capitalist friend of mine, is: when has the state ever been limited?

And by that, since when haven't politicans, no matter what their ideology, tried to seek more power for themselves (hence becoming pull peddlers, or power brokers)?

Ayn Rand defended the existence of the State as the instrument of providing individual rights, however she also has described political power as inherently coercive rather then liberating, as it is maintained by coercion rather then consent.

She maintained that the State's only moral foundation is elimination of the initiation of force, however she rightly mentions that this legal monopoly has the authority to disarm its citizens, even though this violates amendment 2.

This in mind, as well as keeping consistent, taxation by force was to be eliminated in a truly free society. Ayn Rand was consistent in her message that the State was to operate by consent of the governed, a real social contract. But, is this consistent?

Is the State, a non-producing parasite fed by taxation and maintained by coercion, able to be controlled even by a Constitution. Many laws today are anathema to freedom: such as complusory taxation, Selective Service, or even driver's licenses and registration.

How long will any State resist that all-encompassing urge to seize absolute power?

Can truly limited government even exist?

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I think the implicit premise of the question is that to be limited, a government would have to be set up in a way that it could never be corrupted into violating individual rights under any circumstances. That isn't possible. Governments are products of human choices and are maintained and limited by further human choices. Any government can be changed should people choose to do so. The continued existence of a free society requires widespread cultural acceptance of a number of pre-political ideas, including the power of reason and the moral goodness of the pursuit of self-interest. If the people in a society turn against the prerequisites of freedom, their social and political institutions will eventually change in accordance with that choice.

This observation applies equally well to any putative anarchism. If people don't consider freedom a value, they won't act to preserve and defend it, and it will go away. If that fact is considered a refutation of the minimal state, then it's also a refutation of anarchism.

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The question, posed by an anarcho-capitalist friend of mine, is: when has the state ever been limited?

And by that, since when haven't politicans, no matter what their ideology, tried to seek more power for themselves (hence becoming pull peddlers, or power brokers)?

[PART LASZLOWALRUS SNIPPED]

Can truly limited government even exist?

Induction is not enumerative. The fact that all states in the past have become bad does not imply that every state by nature must become bad.

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The question, posed by an anarcho-capitalist friend of mine, is: when has the state ever been limited?
The question doesn't make any sense. Obviously the US is "limited" -- compare the US to North Korea. For that matter, consider a meddling centralized bureaucracy, Germany -- it is still limited. If you mean "When has a state ever been limited to just performing the proper functions of government", the answer is "As often as anarchy has actually proven to be a workable political system that doesn't decay into terrorism and despotism".
Ayn Rand was consistent in her message that the State was to operate by consent of the governed, a real social contract.
Rand never once advocated the "social contract" theory of government.
Is the State, a non-producing parasite fed by taxation and maintained by coercion, able to be controlled even by a Constitution.
Yes, although it is never possible to prevent such a government from being overthrown either by force or by massively idiotic will of the people. The problems that you are alluding to arise because the individual rights protection aspect of the US Constitution is weak, but it can be remedied.
Can truly limited government even exist?
Yes, and it will be much more stable and protective of human rights that anarchy could ever hope to be. I'm struck by the fact that there hasn't been a massive exodus of anarchists to the paradise of anarchism, Somalia. I suspect that's because most anarchists don't actually want to live with the horrors of real-world anarchy.

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.Rand never once advocated the "social contract" theory of government.

She didn't, but don't her opinions amount to the same thing? Life in a state of nature(anarchy) is nasty brutich and short. We institute government to protect our life, liberty, and property?

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She didn't, but don't her opinions amount to the same thing? Life in a state of nature(anarchy) is nasty brutich and short. We institute government to protect our life, liberty, and property?
Social contract theory says that individual moral and political obligations stem from a "contract" between them and society. A contract is a voluntary agreement with definite form, and as a voluntary agreement, a man may simply elect not to sign the contract and would therefore not be bound by the contract. That's clearly not a correct description of Rand's view of government, because it leaves open the possibility that you can repudiate the legal obligation to not murder or steal because you never agreed to such a condition. The notion of trying to reduce law to some kind of "contract" is completely untenable, in fact, the concept "contract" logically depends on the prior existence of the concepts "law" and "government". The purpose of government is to allow man to live according to his nature in a civilized society, and that has a marginal connection to "social contract".

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Yes, although it is never possible to prevent such a government from being overthrown either by force or by massively idiotic will of the people. The problems that you are alluding to arise because the individual rights protection aspect of the US Constitution is weak, but it can be remedied.

What amendments do you purpose to create an more "ironclad" defense against abuse of power?

Would the state be limited to what Rand lined out: no complusory taxes, and only provide the services of police, courts, and defensive military (none of which use of initiative force)?

Exactly how will the State be prohibited from writing in new powers?

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What amendments do you purpose ... ... Exactly how will the State be prohibited from writing in new powers?
If you get a response to your question, will you come back saying that any such constitution can be undone by an amendment, if enough of a majority wish to change it? :o

The constitution is a powerful philosophical document. It does more than instruct judges; it is part of the commonly accepted political philosophy. For instance, many people in the U.S. support things like free speech, separation of church and state, and even gun ownership, based on what they have been taught is right. A big part of this is because of what the constitution says, and what people have accepted as "a good political system", based on that.

As for the specifics of the changes, the role of government that you suggest are correct. More fundamental, a good constitution would make the concept of individual rights are clear as possible, and would clearly lay out that government exists to protect such rights. A good constitution would make clear that individual rights are at the top of the hierarchy.

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See this thread for a start (not by amendment but by rewrite). See Somalia for a proof of the failure of anarchism.

Somalia is a great example. You can't expect, out of a void, for people to suddenly, magically observe each others rights. It just makes no sense. So, Somalia is your answer. I know the counter argument is that if the ideas are there it will happen, but call me the ultimate skeptic in this regard. Or, as a Missourian, I'll just say "show me". All like-thinking anarcho-capitalists should go some place and set up their own system, erh, I mean live and see how things go.

Just one quibble with the subtitle of this thread, "minarchism" is not an essentialized description of a capitalist system. The idea is not to minimize the state, the idea is to uphold individual rights. The size of the state is a side note. It could be any size.

Edited by Thales

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See this thread for a start (not by amendment but by rewrite). See Somalia for a proof of the failure of anarchism.

Did you know that Somalia has the lowest telecommunications prices and the highest rates of internet usage in Africa? They have cellular service for less than a cent per minute. Somalia’s living standards and life expectancy has increased faster than most African countries, and despite a continuing state of civil war and military invasions from its neighbors and U.S. embargoes and attacks. According the World Bank (which is one of the premier exporters of statist financial policies!),

Somalia has lacked a recognized government since 1991—an unusually long time. In extremely difficult conditions the private sector has demonstrated its much-vaunted capability to make do. To cope with the absence of the rule of law, private enterprises have been using foreign jurisdictions or institutions to help with some tasks, operating within networks of trust to strengthen property rights, and simplifying transactions until they require neither. Somalia’s private sector experience suggests that it may be easier than is commonly thought for basic systems of finance and some infrastructure services to function where government is extremely weak or absent..

Is this “proof” that anarchy works? Hardly. The tribal justice of Somalia’s clan families is very different from the “anarcho-capitalist” ideal. It does demonstrate that a traditional tribal society can form a freer and more productive market system than the dictatorships and welfare democracies that dominate the rest of Africa.

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Is this “proof” that anarchy works? Hardly. The tribal justice of Somalia’s clan families is very different from the “anarcho-capitalist” ideal. It does demonstrate that a traditional tribal society can form a freer and more productive market system than the dictatorships and welfare democracies that dominate the rest of Africa.

I think the deeper point is how is that "ideal", anarcho-capitalism, going to come about? This is the problem. It's not reasonable to posit an "ideal" and damn reality for it not occurring. If square-circles are your ideal shape, and we never see square circles, then it's an unrealizable ideal.

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I think the deeper point is how is that "ideal", anarcho-capitalism, going to come about? This is the problem. It's not reasonable to posit an "ideal" and damn reality for it not occurring. If square-circles are your ideal shape, and we never see square circles, then it's an unrealizable ideal.

So far, I have not seen free market anarchism (FMA) put to the test.

After all, you cannot damn an idea for not having been tried out.

But if I'm wrong and the "great experiment" has taken place, please enlighten me to it.

Please also try to remember that I am not an apologist for FMA.

I'm still trying to see if FMA is even possible to be drawn to its logical conclusion.

So far, Josh (the FMA friend of mine) gives me the simple argument that: if markets can work for all the non-State domains, why not go to 100% privatization?

The contradiction I see in Objectivist politics is that competition is allowed and is justified in everything except police, courts, and the military. Why not extend the market to these functions as well?

I cannot see the consistency in this argument (unless you argue that free elections are the necessary "competition" for the State functions), because as brought up in the Open Letter to Rand:

The quickest way of showing why it must either initiate force or cease being a government is the following: Suppose that I were distraught with the service of a government in an Objectivist society. Suppose that I judged, being as rational as I possibly could, that I could secure the protection of my contracts and the retrieval of stolen goods at a cheaper price and with more efficiency. Suppose I either decide to set up an institution to attain these ends, or patronize one which a friend or a business colleague has established. Now, if he succeeds in setting up the agency, which provides all the services of the Objectivist government, and restricts his more effcient activities to the use of retaliation against aggressors, there are only two alternatives as far as the "government" is concerned: ( a ) It can use force or the threat of it against the new institution, in order to keep its monopoly status in the given territory, thus initiating the use of threat of physical force against one who has not himself initiated force. Obviously, then, if it should choose this alternative, it would have initiated force. Q.E.D. Or: ( b ) It can refrain from initiating force, and allow the new institution to carry on its activities without interference. If it did this, then the Objectivist "government" would become a truly marketplace institution, and not a "government" at all. There would be competing agencies of protection, defense and retaliation---in short, free market anarchism.

Legal or illegal to provide these State services (in the Objectivist society)?

Would legalizing this create legitimate mob activity, or improve protection for citizens?

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The contradiction I see in Objectivist politics is that competition is allowed and is justified in everything except police, courts, and the military. Why not extend the market to these functions as well?

I think you see examples of just that sort of thing in many of todays big cities. They are called gangs.

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The contradiction I see in Objectivist politics is that competition is allowed and is justified in everything except police, courts, and the military. Why not extend the market to these functions as well?

Read "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness.

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So far, I have not seen free market anarchism (FMA) put to the test.

After all, you cannot damn an idea for not having been tried out.

The question is *how*? You need to set out the answer to that question in explicit terms, like the blue prints for a house, or the design for a rocket. This is what anarcho-capitalists never really answer, or they don't answer it well, at any rate. You can't magically expect a free society to pop up in a social system vacuum full of people, when all of history shows that this has never happened. It's too ridiculous to take seriously.

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The contradiction I see in Objectivist politics is that competition is allowed and is justified in everything except police, courts, and the military. Why not extend the market to these functions as well?
The free market logically depends on the exclusion of force (that's what it means to be free -- it's free from force and coersion), and specifically depends on there being a single objective means of resolving disputes as to rights.

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>What amendments do you purpose ... ... Exactly how will the State be prohibited from writing in new powers?

If you get a response to your question, will you come back saying that any such constitution can be undone by an amendment, if enough of a majority wish to change it? :sorcerer:

The constitution is a powerful philosophical document. It does more than instruct judges; it is part of the commonly accepted political philosophy. For instance, many people in the U.S. support things like free speech, separation of church and state, and even gun ownership, based on what they have been taught is right. A big part of this is because of what the constitution says, and what people have accepted as "a good political system", based on that.

As for the specifics of the changes, the role of government that you suggest are correct. More fundamental, a good constitution would make the concept of individual rights are clear as possible, and would clearly lay out that government exists to protect such rights. A good constitution would make clear that individual rights are at the top of the hierarchy.

I like your argument here. This begins to get down to the crux of the matter. Crux? Anyway, your argument easily brings forward what Aristotle had to say about the difference between statutory law and customary law. He pointed out, customary laws, things like first-come, first-served, etc. are always more powerful than statutory law. HOWEVER, and here is where you make a very interesting point, the Constitution, as a new standard, as a fundamental form of statutory law, has had great effect in altering customary law in the U.S. and through out the world. In opposition to what Rand called a "floating abstraction".

I think the question then becomes, could the same thing be accomplished within an anarcho-capitalism-based system of relationships?

Edited by HP11

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Not really, because the "anarcho" part assumes that "customary law" is all one has.

I've been looking for a long time for an argument such as the one you make in your previous post. It seems so simple now that you say it. It's something even Rand never came up with.

Your assertion though, your summary answer here may be correct, but I think you're jumping the gun.

First we have to look at the conceptual common denominator, the essential benefits of a constitution. And why these are benefits...follow this trail...

Customary Law Always Supersedes Statutory (Aristotle)

A general politic / political system is only as strong as its customary law. (restatement)

...The general values people hold commonly to be true.

A constitution affects customary law because: (essentials)

1. It is firm and difficult to change

2. It is public.

a. Accessible.

b. Easy to refer to.

3. It is referred to in any issue deciding private property, from trespass to life.

Could a system structured as anarcho-capitalism achieve these same standards?

If contracts are private? i.e. Secret?

If they effect no general agreement on customary law?

And…If such contracts can be unilaterally changed?

…because there is no one to go to for redress of such grievances?

Or can alternatives be posited?

And then we have the opposing problem in the exercise of a constitution...

If its modifications, violations and exceptions are private? i.e. Secret?

If it begins to effect no general agreement on customary law?

And…If that constitution can be unilaterally changed?

…because there is no one to go to for redress of such grievances?

Edited by softwareNerd
Merged two posts

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On second thought, anarchism implies that there is not even "customary law". If we go back to times when offenders were drawn up to the village leaders, who applied traditional law in making decisions and handing out punishments, that would be "customary law". However, that is not what anarchists want.

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On second thought, anarchism implies that there is not even "customary law". If we go back to times when offenders were drawn up to the village leaders, who applied traditional law in making decisions and handing out punishments, that would be "customary law". However, that is not what anarchists want.

"that is not what anarchists want."

Aren't you collectivising all anarchists? How do you know they all want the same thing?

Perhaps we need a new name for people who agree with customary law but don't want statutory law because they think there are better ways to obtain objective standards.

The point that Rand stepped around was this: Statutory law is not always objective law.

Not in its legislation. Not in its interpretation. And not in its execution. Because those things are always determined subjectively, according to the implimentor's value structure, that is, those parts of customary law they agree with / think are right.

Edited by HP11

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Perhaps we need a new name for people who agree with customary law but don't want statutory law because they think there are better ways to obtain objective standards.
Maybe, but first we should clear up what we think customary law versus statutory law are. I think that statutory law is a set of rules written down in concrete form and assembled into a document of special status, The Law. Customary law has more or less the same subject matter, except it's not written down, so the tend to be shorter expressions that people memorize as social customs. What they have in common is that they are enforced, either by an official group called The Government, or a variable gang called The Village Elders.

Have you actually encountered a political author who calls himself an anarchist but embraces the enforcement of unwritten customary law including "Pay the king a shilling every month" or "he who breaks the Sabbath shall be beaten 10 times"?

The point that Rand stepped around was this: Statutory law is not always objective law. Not in its legislation. Not in its interpretation. And not in its execution. Because those things are always determined subjectively, according to the implimentor's value structure, that is, those parts of customary law they agree with / think are right.
That's an argument based on unnecessary failure -- it's true that statutory law is very often subjective in its justification, enforcement and interpretation, but that's not a necessary part of statutory law. It is a necessary aspect of customary law and of anarchy.

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Maybe, but first we should clear up what we think customary law versus statutory law are. I think that statutory law is a set of rules written down in concrete form and assembled into a document of special status, The Law. Customary law has more or less the same subject matter, except it's not written down, so the tend to be shorter expressions that people memorize as social customs. What they have in common is that they are enforced, either by an official group called The Government, or a variable gang called The Village Elders.

Have you actually encountered a political author who calls himself an anarchist but embraces the enforcement of unwritten customary law including "Pay the king a shilling every month" or "he who breaks the Sabbath shall be beaten 10 times"?That's an argument based on unnecessary failure -- it's true that statutory law is very often subjective in its justification, enforcement and interpretation, but that's not a necessary part of statutory law. It is a necessary aspect of customary law and of anarchy.

Enforcement of customary law is often not necessary.

Such customary laws might include "first come-first served", "finders-keepers", "if you run out into traffic suddenly, it's your own damned fault", etc.

I basically agree with your definition of statutory law, though I'm uncertain what you mean by "special".

So then, we agree, it is necessary for statutory law to be written down.

It is also necessary for it to be enacted by people.

They may act objectively. They will certainly act subjectively.

It is not necessary for a law to be objective for it to become statutory.

It is therefore sufficient to consider other options...

Furthermore, I disagree that it is a necessary aspect of customary law that it be subjective. In point of fact, many is the customary law which will erase those people who do not accept its objectivity, as is the case of those who violate the running out into traffic example above.

Statutory and objective are not synonyms.

Edited by HP11

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