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anarchy vs government

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eficazpensador
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I recently came across this pro-anarchy argument:

"Man's right to liberty implies that individuals should be able to set up their own system of rights protection. A government initiates force when it disallows individuals from protecting their own rights. Therefore, the existence of a government inherently contradicts individual rights."

What is the Objectivist response to this?

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"Man's right to liberty implies that individuals should be able to set up their own system of rights protection. A government initiates force when it disallows individuals from protecting their own rights. Therefore, the existence of a government inherently contradicts individual rights."
We had that played out here recently -- can't remember the exact thread, but it was within a month. First, the "right to liberty", whatever it means, does not entail a right to use force, which is what would be necessary to "set up their own system of rights protection". Second, the government is "initiating the threat of contingent retaliatory force", which is in fact what governments are supposed to do, and what would also exist by creating a non-governmental protection squad. The libertarian misguided emphasis on NIF as an ethical primary is the root of the problem.

As a matter of fact, the government does not disallow individuals from protecting their own rights -- they simply don't know what the law is. The government disallows individuals (and their agents) from actually using non-defensive force. Thus you may not strike a man for no reason, and you may not strike a man in retaliation for him having struck you. That is the prerogative of the government. In an emergency, you may, if you are attacked, defend yourself (or someone may defend you).

The law against assault (which is enforced by the government) says that you may not strike another man (leaving aside the "in self-defense defense"), and it also states that if you do strike another man (and are convicted etc) you will suffer certain consequences. This is a contingent threat -- the consequence will be realized only if you violate another man's rights in this fashion. Stating that cause-effect relationship is not an initiation of force, no matter how you slice it. Justice requires that the concept of "rights" be objectively spelled out, since rights are not self-evident, and that consequences of rights violations also be spelled out.

If thugs from Tannahelp were to break into my house and start beating me because they claim I violated their client's rights, the thugs would be prosecuted for their actual assault against me. The government does not prohibit an individual from acting to protect his own rights, or the rights of a client, it only acts to punish a person who actually assaults another.

The logical flaw in their argument is that all you have to do is substitute the name of the private enforcement squad for "the government" -- Tannahelp contingently threatens to use retaliatory force against me if I do such-and-such, and that would be just as much an "initiation of force" as if the government did so. The proper question to ask is, what is an individual prohibited from doing? Answer: using force against another individual, except to defend our own rights from the use of force by that individual.

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