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Dealing with non-objectivists in an objectivist society

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Hi -

I'd appreciate input from other objectivists on something that's been bugging me.

Say you live in a large country with perfectly objectivist laws. That is, there's only the military and police and law courts. Everyone is free to trade with anyone else on whatever terms they mutually agree to. The government is voluntarily funded. Everyone should be happy, but...

I don't see the second-handers and socialists putting up with this for long. I envision a quasi-government being set up, possible based on a church or similar organization. All the socially-minded (as opposed to freedom-minded) people would get together and say, "Nobody will do business with you unless you have a red ribbon. You get the red ribbon when you donate (X amount of) money annually to our organization." The organization would then take over current statist government functions: welfare, social security, whatever the people dreamed up.

From my perspective, it seems you have only three choices:

1. Become a hermit and live completely on your own. (Possible necessary, but not attractive.)

2. Consider the "donation"/tax money the cost of doing business and continue to operate as normal.

3. Move without paying the tax. This might not be an option if the organization is sufficiently widespread.

The proper government can't step in and stop the organization. They're free people operating under mutual agreement. They're not breaking any laws; no laws REQUIRE you to do business with anyone. So that very fact could be used to set up a statist government outside of the proper objectivist one. How could an objectivist avoid being overturned this way?

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You've got to step back in time from your example and ask yourself how this country came to be Capitalist in the first place. Why did these people vote in Capitalism if this is how they feel? Was it a different generation? And, now has this new intellectual climate become so widespread that a boycott would severely harm your business? If so, how is it that these large majorities did not change the law?

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The proper government can't step in and stop the organization. They're free people operating under mutual agreement. They're not breaking any laws; no laws REQUIRE you to do business with anyone. So that very fact could be used to set up a statist government outside of the proper objectivist one. How could an objectivist avoid being overturned this way?
A related question is, suppose you've conquered polio, smallpox and yellow fever and people live long lives because these diseases don't kill people like they used to. But how to you prevent a new disease from developing, and how do you stop its spread? By diligently working for the good and against the evil. Knowledge is not automatic, and you must work not only to find it, but also to keep it alive.
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... The proper government can't step in and stop the organization. They're free people operating under mutual agreement. They're not breaking any laws; no laws REQUIRE you to do business with anyone. So that very fact could be used to set up a statist government ....

Stop right there. If they are free people operating under mutual agreement, and not coercing anyone else to join, then they have not set up a government.

Economics will determine if the arrangement succeeds or fails and over what time span.

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I think the more important question is.... how did a society that still had a sizable portion of social mystics manage to turn to laissez-faire capitalism in the first place? It would require an intellectual revolution among the people in order for such a society to be established.

Replace 'wearing a red ribbon' with 'having white skin' and its hardly much different to the social situation during the founding of the united states. Mass ostracisation by private individuals within a 'free' society can be a serious problem; look at America before the civil rights movement in the 60s for example, where large numbers of businesses either refused to serve people with black skin or segregated them from white customers.

Edited by eriatarka
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Replace 'wearing a red ribbon' with 'having white skin' and its hardly much different to the social situation during the founding of the united states. Mass ostracisation by private individuals within a 'free' society can be a serious problem; look at America before the civil rights movement in the 60s for example, where large numbers of businesses either refused to serve people with black skin or segregated them from white customers.

Mass ostracisation is not a serious problem unless it is a serious injustice. Of course racism is a serious injustice. Having white skin is metaphysically given to you (or not); there is nothing that can be done about that. Wearing a red ribbon or not is a voluntary act, and can be a basis for discrimination (no shirt no shoes no service!). It probably wouldn't be rational, but not every irrational act can be illegal. No constititution or legal tradition is going protect a country whose citizens are mostly irrational.

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I think the more important question is.... how did a society that still had a sizable portion of social mystics manage to turn to laissez-faire capitalism in the first place? It would require an intellectual revolution among the people in order for such a society to be established.

It might happen after a few generations change in the country's history.

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The organization would then take over current statist government functions: welfare, social security, whatever the people dreamed up.

huh? Poof, just like that? one goes from voluntary donating to the organization, to it taking over govt functions. Just how does this happen without force?

I think the more important question is.... how did a society that still had a sizable portion of social mystics manage to turn to laissez-faire capitalism in the first place? It would require an intellectual revolution among the people in order for such a society to be established.

I think this statement has the implicit assumption that it is "popular" ideas, consistently, explicitly held, which can only be established within governments...

The answer might be that it happened because the implicit assumption in the question is wrong.

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The proper government can't step in and stop the organization.

They can stop them from doing one thing, acting like another government. A govt has a legal monopoly on the initiation of physical force. As long as an org is purely voluntary, and does not exert any force over anyone who does not want to have such jurisdiction, it cannot take over any government function. There is only one govt and govt can justly exert it's power to be the only govt in a region.

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Isn't one of the tenants of Objectivism is that humans are fundamentally rational beings, since our rationality is our only method of survival (honest question, I'm not being sarcastic)? If man is fundamentally irrational, an Objectivist society could never even be formed, let alone maintained. But in a truly rational society, I don't see any reason why there would be a sudden mass conversion to irrationality.

If the situation you describe were to arise, as long as the group were not to exert force on anyone, nothing would be done. A private group has the right to advocate whatever it wants. A church can tell its constituents not to buy from atheists, etc. As long as businesses not buying into the red ribbon system were free to attempt to sell their products, no rights are being violated. Some very good businesses could go out of business, however, in the long run, any system like that advocating irrationality would fail. Most of the people buying red ribbons, would be unprincipled and unproductive. The "socially minded people" would end up limiting themselves to the worst made supplies, driving more people away from the organization, eventually causing its dissolution.

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The organization would then take over current statist government functions: welfare, social security, whatever the people dreamed up.

I doubt that they could maintain that much income going into their "government" in order to pay for the upkeep of "welfare, social security" and certainly not "whatever the people dreamed up". Well, they couldn't maintain it without force, anyway. And the second they were to lift a finger to implement force, *POW*, justice would be served.

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Isn't one of the tenants of Objectivism is that humans are fundamentally rational beings, since our rationality is our only method of survival (honest question, I'm not being sarcastic)?

Between the minimum level of rationality which is required to survive (if that is what you mean by fundamentally - than yes) and full rationality there is a huge span in which a lot of values can be lost.

Because rationality is a choice, maintaining a society in which large a number of population displays high level of rationality will always be an on going goal - it will require a constant active pursuit.

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