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Objectivism and The State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand

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Objectivism and The State

An Open Letter to Ayn Rand

by Roy A. Childs, Jr.

"Dear Miss Rand:

The purpose of this letter is to convert you to free market anarchism."

One of our members in the chatroom posited earlier today that he was a voluntaryist. I suggested that such would label you, by most people, as an Anarcho-Capitalist, and that anarcho-capitalism (I don't even agree that is a legitimate term) was in conflict with Objectivism and one could not be both.

After positing this, he linked me to this:

http://www.isil.org/ayn-rand/childs-open-letter.html

I have never seen this one before, and I still have yet to read it (he posted it about 10 minutes before I had to leave for work, I told him I would read it later), however I thought that even if it is not worthwhile in its content, people here will know what it is about if they are linked to it as well as what remarks to make about it beforehand since I am previewing it here. More and more people in the libertarian realm seem to be converting to volunteerism/market anarchism type political beliefs. People often say I am inflating this transfer, however I contend that this is not the case as I have quite a large number (over 200) libertarian friends on facebook from my misguided libertarian days and I still speak to many of them fairly regularly. Either through conversation or homepage status updates I see, I would say a good 30% are either now volunteerists/market anarchists or are beginning to lean in that direction. I think it is important we improve our arguments on this debate as it is quite obvious that there is soon to be a more inflated conflict between the two belief systems in the relatively near future. Whats worse is that many of them seem to believe that it is compatible with Objectivism. So far, out of the many, many articles, essays, .pdf's, Rothbardian and so forth works as well as conversations with these old libertarian friends has left me thoroughly unconvinced as it seems to continue to be pushing the same arguments with a new one popping in from time to time. This is the reason why I am posting this.

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I've read this letter before. As I recall, Rand ignored it, and I honestly felt it was silly myself. The author was beating a straw-man.

I also know the author of the letter renounced Anarcho-Capitalism later in life, feeling it was a failure.

Edited by Nyronus
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Also, (not that this is any kind of critique of that letter) Roy Childs was 17 when he wrote that, and he later on got to meet Ayn Rand. I read somewhere (can't remember where) that when he did meet her, some young anarchist that was with him walked up to Ayn and shoved that letter in her hands and made some snide comment, at which point Childs took it out of her hands and said something like "Don't bother her with this!" Yes, it's true that Childs eventually abandoned anarchism, but although I don't know of any such response given to this letter, but Binswanger did write something to the effect of "there is no right to compete with {an

objective/proper] government."

Edit: http://www.thornwalker.com/ditch/eboa_preface_1.htm Here's where I read about the above encounter.

It is my understanding that Objectivism requires one territorial monopoly of law and order for the purpose of subordinating the police and courts are to a very specific legal system based on some very specific moral principles and they do not accept such thing as "private law" or "private retaliation" or "private force" because it is a system based on subjectivism. We want an agency to protect rights, and only accept one specific kind of agency and don't accept competing force-wielders in our system because our agency is the only agency consistent with man's nature.

Edited by 2046
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Yeah I already know its a poor argument and is indeed a straw-man (it is more or less the same arguments I hear time and time again that have been refuted over and over again since they are based on misunderstanding Objectivism). My reasons for posting it were for clarification on the response and so people here can be aware of the arguments within right away if someone decides to pop that one out of nowhere on them at some future time. I also didn't mention the person who brought this up because I have not been given permission to and I didn't want people to start a debate with him on it in the chatroom or wherever without his own wish to do so first. Thanks for that link 2046...interesting.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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Yeah I already know its a poor argument and is indeed a straw-man (it is more or less the same arguments I hear time and time again that have been refuted over and over again since they are based on misunderstanding Objectivism). My reasons for posting it were for clarification on the response and so people here can be aware of the arguments within right away if someone decides to pop that one out of nowhere on them at some future time. I also didn't mention the person who brought this up because I have not been given permission to and I didn't want people to start a debate with him on it in the chatroom or wherever without his own wish to do so first. Thanks for that link 2046...interesting.

I am said user from the first post.

The two most troublesome parts to me concerning a monopolistic government. I am willing and open to hear new thoughts on this matter, so feel free to contribute on these admittedly messy propositions:

1. When it messes up, what can the people it governs do about it? (ex: if the FDA approves salmonella peanut butter, no one gets fired... after police brutality) Objectivism supports free market economics and capitalism, and one of the good reasons for this is in inherent in the nature of competition: constant betterment. The failures of businesses cause them to go out of business, and a better alternative to take its place or to add to its achievements. This kind of approach to science is similar (constant upward motion). When monopolistic government fails, the people can do nothing but sit on their hands and accept its failures. (A person can't vote it out, he must have the other 48.9999...% of the country to do so) (Leaving the country is not a real solution, especially if the only alternative is... other monopolistic and failing governments). This idea that we "just have to deal with" the corruption in (the persons who work in) government is totally against the rest of Objectivist ethics.

1a. If our government REALLY messes up and does something immoral that causes another government to bomb us and kill innocent people in our country (which Objectivism finds moral in war), Objectivism proposes that it is our fault for not overthrowing the government we had and making a new one.

2. Governments are made up of individuals who work for it ("Government" is no more a "thing" than "black people" is a "thing." It's just a collection of individuals we label by a common attribute. I may be off on my specific language usage, but the point I am making is not linguistic, rather metaphysic(al?)). This means that some people are, monopolistically, and unbridledly (as #1 shows), governing other people. A support of such a system is inconsistent with the rest of Objectivism in regard to its beliefs about man's nature. When do men become untrustworthy/Biblical by nature? The nature of man, the individual, has not changed suddenly to a starting-from-distrust total depravity sort of thing has it? If man is a heroic being, he governs his own actions and his business dealings. Why not his protection?

2a. What makes the people who work for the government sufficiently better than the ones it governs?

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2a. What makes the people who work for the government sufficiently better than the ones it governs?

More to the point, if people will, through voluntary action, be unable to set up a system that deals with criminals (that is, initiators of force), then how can they set up a system that excludes all alternative arrangements (as there are many ways of setting up a government, in terms of its mechanics of operation, that are in line with Objectivist principles) that deals with them? Objectivity isn't intersubjective, it is open to the all rational people, and the transition from an individual being able to make objective evaluations about everything, to only some specified body being capable of doing so, seems like a stretch (if not a break) with that principle.

That's the part I haven't worked out.

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I am said user from the first post.

The two most troublesome parts to me concerning a monopolistic government. I am willing and open to hear new thoughts on this matter, so feel free to contribute on these admittedly messy propositions:

Since I am a recovering anarchocapitalist, I will take a crack at some of these. Maybe we can both increase our understanding. (your questions in italics)

When it messes up, what can the people it governs do about it? (ex: if the FDA approves salmonella peanut butter, no one gets fired... after police brutality)

Just to clarify, the FDA is not a proper function of government, so an Objectivist government would not include anything like that. As for the point of “what if some people in the government mess up,” let us look at your example of the FDA. What if a private food certification firm messes up and approves salmonella peanut butter? Then the injured parties must seek justice in some kind of forum. What if a police officer commits brutality? How exactly is this criticism specific to Objectivism? In fact, the problem is aggravated under anarchism because of the subjective nature of the legal system, (if there is any legal system.) But let's assume the worst implication happens and a police officer in an Objectivist-governmental system commits a crime. Again the same thing would happen, the injured party must seek justice in some forum, and it is Objectivism which requires a criminal justice system that applies also to police officers and government officials. All are equal before the law and judged according to the principles of justice applied to human action.

1a. If our government REALLY messes up and does something immoral that causes another government to bomb us and kill innocent people in our country

If our government becomes a dictatorships and invades a freer country, they have the right to defend themselves. A government does not act in a vacuum. Ultimately, its actions depend on public consent, even if by default and through passivity. It is the citizens which keep its government in power, even in dictatorship the government does not rule by brute force alone. This is why we must take ideas seriously, must not have the wrong kind of government, and never allow our government to go to war capriciously or for any reason other than self-defense of Americans' rights.

This means that some people are, monopolistically, and unbridledly (as #1 shows), governing other people

This is false. Only under statism (including anarchy) do some men have the “unbridled” ability to govern other men, due to the whim-based, subjective nature of their dispensing of physical force. Under an objective government, the government acts as an agency of protection, not ruling, or decision-making, nor even governing in any matter except who gets to physically restrain who and why. It is banned from initiating force, and in its dispensing of retaliation, even in its every move, it is restricted, restrained, and guided by the principle of individual rights.

When do men become untrustworthy/Biblical by nature? The nature of man, the individual, has not changed suddenly to a starting-from-distrust total depravity sort of thing has it?

He didn't suddenly become innately evil. His nature didn't change. The facts about his nature is what requires a specific kind of agency (a proper government) to protect him, mainly from those who choose to live parasitically instead of productively or voluntarily. This doesn't require Original Sin or any malevolent premise about the nature of man, just the fact that man's consciousness is volitional in nature and he can choose to act towards his own destruction and the destruction of his fellow men. It is these men, the people in society that act towards the destruction of others, that makes government necessary. If not for these men, if suddenly human nature evolved to where men were incapable of initiating force or fraud, then anarchy would be the system morally required by man's nature.

But Objectivism's view of man's nature is not some “magical utopian” view where he never does anything irrational. Brutes will inevitably exist, and thus he needs some objective agency to restrain these men so that he can survive, and even rational men have honest disagreements and thus only an impartial arbiter acting under certain principles can morally resolve such cases, which are a lot more common than the instances of criminal thugs.

If man is a heroic being, he governs his own actions and his business dealings. Why not his protection?

He is governing his own protection, as you said, government is made up of individual men. Individual men who, employing their reason, decide to form a thing called government for the purpose of subjugating society to moral principles regarding the use of force.

Note that man is not prohibited from using his mind to govern his own protection under Objectivism. In fact, only under a government consistent with Objectivism is the unrestricted use of his mind to govern his own actions is safeguarded. He can do a lot about his own protection, aside from government. He can even start a private firm that offers protection and security services, including armed security officers and bodyguards, alarm systems, neighborhood watches, and a wide range of goods in the protection and security industry... just as long as he does not attempt to exercise force, either in initiation or retaliation, unless he is acting under rationally-arrived at principles, ie., objective laws, which are provided by a proper government. Once a proper government is formed under these principles, no other laws may compete with them, and anyone who does attempt to dispense his own private justice is a lynch mob.

What makes the people who work for the government sufficiently better than the ones it governs?

Nothing, they're not. And again, they aren't governing people's lives either, at least not under a proper government. It is reality that is the standard, and the reality is that man's mind is his survival instrument, therefore he must be free to employ it. It is not enough that men recognize they need protection and security, and therefore employ their minds in their own protection in any old fashion they desire, because in doing so they must wield force against other men. It is not acceptable that man be “free to wield force against other men” as they arbitrarily determine. I hope you see the point of Objectivism is that we are not that far off in agreeing that men do need an agency of protection so that his right to create values, keep them, and dispense with them as he sees fit is indeed safeguarded, but the moral requirements of man's nature demands a specific type of agency, and once those principles are identified and put into place, no competing agency is acceptable.

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More to the point, if people will, through voluntary action, be unable to set up a system that deals with criminals (that is, initiators of force), then how can they set up a system that excludes all alternative arrangements (as there are many ways of setting up a government, in terms of its mechanics of operation, that are in line with Objectivist principles) that deals with them? Objectivity isn't intersubjective, it is open to the all rational people, and the transition from an individual being able to make objective evaluations about everything, to only some specified body being capable of doing so, seems like a stretch (if not a break) with that principle.

That's the part I haven't worked out.

But isn't that a kind of circularity though? If they can't set up a system to deal with criminals, then they can't set up a system to deal with criminals. But they can. What if, under market anarchy, individuals voluntarily decide to set up Objectivism? All Objectivism is saying is that those who do wish to set up a system to deal with criminals in the only acceptable way demanded by man's nature need to set up Objectivism and only Objectivism because anything else isn't an acceptable system of dealing with criminals. It's not about just setting up a system, it's about setting up the right system.

Correct me if I'm wrong in any of this, people.

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One thing the anarchists seem to regularly forget is that an Objectivist government would:

1. Have a voluntarily funded government. 100% voluntary, and the military would be funded separately from the main government (domestic protection, law courts). I don't understand why people would keep funding a government that is starting to violate their rights on a regular basis? The reason military would be funded separately is in the unlikely case that the government did somehow start expanding and becoming a violating entity, they would not be able to use the military to entrench their rule. This is mere speculation on my part and not thoroughly thought out to be honest (this coming statement is what I am referring to) but it is quite possible there would be a "military constitution" or emergency SOP or something of the sort which would obligate the military to restore order to the government if it was (for some reason still unknown to me, when considering the voluntary funding among other elements)the case that the population was unable to restore order themselves through civil means.

2. There is a revised constitution. Ours is full of problems due to issues at the time it was written, unconstitutionally added amendments, etc. An Objectivist constitution would be extremely clear on what it means in regards to everything, so that no misinterpretation is possible (it is not as if there is a limit to the length or detail of a constitution) and would ban all force from society, except for that which is allowed to the individual (self-defense, which is heavily tied to private property as well), and it would be very clear in defining the proper role of government and in defining what use of of force (retaliatory) is appropriate with said government. There would be no ability to change these laws, and no presidential executive orders, as they are absolute and final. The only changes in law necessary are those required to adapt to the change in times (so long as they do not violate absolute preconditions, such as that they may not violate individual rights) and the majority of this, with very few exceptions would be done through city ordinances and state laws. There would also unlikely be state constitutions, the national constitution would supplant that.

3. An objectivist government has the attribute of objective law. To suggest that its monopoly status (which is consented by the governed who voluntarily fund it, much in the way of funding a private business you support through your dollar because you agree with and appreciate their services, of which you stop supporting with your dollar if it fails to do this....is something of concern is to suggest that there should be other government options for the population (which means more than 1 government on a landmass most likely) would mean that you prefer for there to be non-objective governments as an option. These governments, without question, are much more likely to turn to some form of recurring right violations and expansion, and it is quite possible that at some point they will, in that sense, wish to compete with the objective government in the region. As Rand has shown these types of governments are the ones that start wars, not objective governments strictly controlled b specific moral principles. Competition between such a government and the objective government would eventually not be a competition of trade, but of force. Meaning war.

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1. When it messes up, what can the people it governs do about it?
To begin with, you're implicitly presuming that government must be infallible. Let's turn the question around and aim it at business: "When a business like BP messes up, what can the people who are affected do about it?". When anyone messes up, they should take responsibility and fix the mess. That applies both to government and business.
(ex: if the FDA approves salmonella peanut butter, no one gets fired... after police brutality)
That's mixing apples and elephants. The FDA should not exist at all, and there should be no requirement for prior government approval for action. Now, what do we do if the police engage in brutality? Fire and prosecute the miscreants. That's something we can do is you have the rule of law. But what do we do if you don't have the rule of law, and the private enforcers brutally beat someone? There is nothing that can be done, since these are the guys to get to make the rules. Necessarily, they are above the law.
Objectivism supports free market economics and capitalism, and one of the good reasons for this is in inherent in the nature of competition: constant betterment.
Could you show me where Rand bases her advocacy of capitalism on "constant betterment"? I think you've confused the libertarian pragmatic argument with the Objectivist moral argument.
The failures of businesses cause them to go out of business, and a better alternative to take its place or to add to its achievements. This kind of approach to science is similar (constant upward motion). When monopolistic government fails, the people can do nothing but sit on their hands and accept its failures. (A person can't vote it out, he must have the other 48.9999...% of the country to do so)
What similarity do you have in mind between "failure of a business" and "failure of a government", other than the fact that you used the word "failure" in both cases? If a business fails to do what it ought to do, it will lose support (customers) and eventually cease to exist because of financial attrition. But no one person can bring down a business by himself -- he needs to persuade the vast majority of people to stop patronizing the business. When a government fails to do what it ought to do, all you have to go is persuade more people that some alternative is better than support the current government, therefore the most you have to do is persuade 51% of the people to oppose the current government. Even if you persuaded 80% of the people to not patronise Whole Foods, you could not put them out of business. So it is really hard to depose a business, compared to a government.
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But isn't that a kind of circularity though? If they can't set up a system to deal with criminals, then they can't set up a system to deal with criminals. But they can. What if, under market anarchy, individuals voluntarily decide to set up Objectivism? All Objectivism is saying is that those who do wish to set up a system to deal with criminals in the only acceptable way demanded by man's nature need to set up Objectivism and only Objectivism because anything else isn't an acceptable system of dealing with criminals. It's not about just setting up a system, it's about setting up the right system.

I do not deny the need for objective law that is enforced by the courts and police. There is a need for objective rules. But I do not see a reason why there must be, for example, a single court of final appeal. Couldn't we simply have, for example, a rule that states that the decision of any two or three courts on a case is final (after all, I pick a court, you pick a court, and then a final court of appeal seems like it should be enough to cover all eventualities). Then we can specify in the contract we sign that we will go to courts X, Y, and Z in that order if there is a disagreement. If there is no contract, then we will have enormous public pressure to pick a court, or one party could file suit in a given court, and then the other party could ask for an appeal, and then there might be one final appeal and then everything is finished. The final verdict (whether voluntarily submitted or if it finishes the appeal process) is then recognized by everyone as final and enforceable (as it is the law). Common law should be able to take care of law-making/enforcement, but perhaps we would need a codified code of law that is enforced by all the courts and police. A dedicated police force that has sole jurisdiction over an area, so long as there are courts and other police forces that also enforce the law to ensure they are in check. So we could have private courts and private police, all without making the idea of law invalid

In short, police and courts do not have to be monopolies for an Objectivist system to work. Law, perhaps, does, but if we have a society of Objectivists, common law will almost certainly be objective and just law. After all, isn't it we Objectivist-types that say that a simple top-down change in society is impossible, and that cultural shift is needed to both create and maintain such change in the long haul? A society of mostly Objectivists will not stay Objectivist for long if it doesn't wish to, government or no. And a society of Objectivists, I argue, would not need a government, in that it has sole jurisdiction over an area maintained by force if necessary.

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Note that man is not prohibited from using his mind to govern his own protection under Objectivism. In fact, only under a government consistent with Objectivism is the unrestricted use of his mind to govern his own actions is safeguarded. He can do a lot about his own protection, aside from government. He can even start a private firm that offers protection and security services, including armed security officers and bodyguards, alarm systems, neighborhood watches, and a wide range of goods in the protection and security industry... just as long as he does not attempt to exercise force, either in initiation or retaliation, unless he is acting under rationally-arrived at principles, ie., objective laws, which are provided by a proper government. Once a proper government is formed under these principles, no other laws may compete with them, and anyone who does attempt to dispense his own private justice is a lynch mob.

This was the only point of yours where I didn't see the reason behind it.

ie., objective laws, which are provided by a proper government.

If they are provided by government, they are not provided objectively. A government is a group of people: people are not the source of objective laws.

Once a proper government is formed under these principles, no other laws may compete with them, and anyone who does attempt to dispense his own private justice is a lynch mob.

A government in Objectivism is a private one: it is not funded by "public means," i.e. taxation. It is funded voluntarily.

What you are asking for as Objectivists is a system in which persons can voluntarily choose to fund a means of protection for themselves, but can ONLY choose ONE. That is not a choice anymore. Alternatives (in this case competition) must exist for there to be any choice in the matter.

And it cannot be "choose this one or choose none," as that's the same as "choose life as a lawyer in my firm or choose death" = not a real choice.

He can do a lot about his own protection, aside from government. He can even start a private firm that offers protection and security services, including armed security officers and bodyguards, alarm systems, neighborhood watches, and a wide range of goods in the protection and security industry... just as long as he does not attempt to exercise force, either in initiation or retaliation, unless he is acting under rationally-arrived at principles, ie., objective laws,

These firms would not provide protection if they do not provide retaliatory force. What are they going to do, ask a burglar to leave? No, they have to make him leave to protect my house if, for example, I'm not at it. They are shams without recognized legitimacy in their use of force.

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To begin with, you're implicitly presuming that government must be infallible. Let's turn the question around and aim it at business: "When a business like BP messes up, what can the people who are affected do about it?". When anyone messes up, they should take responsibility and fix the mess. That applies both to government and business.

Right; I yield this point to you, since my complaint was against current government, rather than government made up of individuals which are, itself, governed by objective laws.

The main problem in my mind is taking government workers to court, using government judges... how could anyone that isn't the government win?

That's mixing apples and elephants. The FDA should not exist at all, and there should be no requirement for prior government approval for action.

I yield this point to you as well, I acknowledge my mistake in using the FDA as an example.

Now, what do we do if the police engage in brutality? Fire and prosecute the miscreants. That's something we can do if you have the rule of law. But what do we do if you don't have the rule of law, and the private enforcers brutally beat someone? There is nothing that can be done, since these are the guys to get to make the rules. Necessarily, they are above the law.

We cannot fire policemen; only their bosses can. That means the onus for that is on someone other than, for example, the affected party.

This point also brings up a point on the necessary revisions (or entire re-drafting) of the Constitution. I will look for a thread on this, and if I don't find it, I'll probably create one.

Could you show me where Rand bases her advocacy of capitalism on "constant betterment"? I think you've confused the libertarian pragmatic argument with the Objectivist moral argument.

What I've seen and use for this reference is not Rand's advocacy; I yield to you there.

However, I have seen and do not think I am amiss in thinking that many people working together on a project to continually better it is one of the demonstrable benefits of things like science (improving on former knowledge by correcting errors, always open to new discoveries based on new evidence) and Wikipedia. For example, the Constitution will not be flawless, I assume, in its first drafting... to say so, I think, would be a little bit evasive of the reality that its drafters could and will make and have made mistakes.

What similarity do you have in mind between "failure of a business" and "failure of a government", other than the fact that you used the word "failure" in both cases? If a business fails to do what it ought to do, it will lose support (customers) and eventually cease to exist because of financial attrition. But no one person can bring down a business by himself -- he needs to persuade the vast majority of people to stop patronizing the business. When a government fails to do what it ought to do, all you have to go is persuade more people that some alternative is better than support the current government, therefore the most you have to do is persuade 51% of the people to oppose the current government. Even if you persuaded 80% of the people to not patronise Whole Foods, you could not put them out of business. So it is really hard to depose a business, compared to a government.

Here you are also right; I yield. Again my complaint is with the current government (which, it does not seem likely, will be overthrown apart from violence or massive 'enlightenment' if you will).

On a related note, I think a small step toward an Objectivist society would be to make the U.S. government not as federal, i.e., have state sovereignty. This would make changes in government that need to happen actually plausible.

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One thing the anarchists seem to regularly forget is that an Objectivist government would:

...

2. There is a revised constitution. Ours is full of problems due to issues at the time it was written, unconstitutionally added amendments, etc. An Objectivist constitution would be extremely clear on what it means in regards to everything, so that no misinterpretation is possible (it is not as if there is a limit to the length or detail of a constitution) and would ban all force from society, except for that which is allowed to the individual (self-defense, which is heavily tied to private property as well), and it would be very clear in defining the proper role of government and in defining what use of of force (retaliatory) is appropriate with said government. There would be no ability to change these laws, and no presidential executive orders, as they are absolute and final. The only changes in law necessary are those required to adapt to the change in times (so long as they do not violate absolute preconditions, such as that they may not violate individual rights) and the majority of this, with very few exceptions would be done through city ordinances and state laws. There would also unlikely be state constitutions, the national constitution would supplant that.

Shouldn't this be a huge concern of students of Objectivism, especially the ones with a great understanding of it?

There is no doubt the United States government needs significant changes. If these changes can only come about through others accepting Objectivism (through the vote, which requires that big voting blocs vote in favor of objective law, etc.), shouldn't one of our very important goals be to share Objectivism with others and explain to them why it is the best philosophy there is?

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This was the only point of yours where I didn't see the reason behind it.

If they are provided by government, they are not provided objectively. A government is a group of people: people are not the source of objective laws.

He stated that such is provided by a proper government. There is no implication that people are the source of objective law. You are also implying that since government cannot provide objective law that something else can. That something else certainly is not private businesses/market forces.

What you are asking for as Objectivists is a system in which persons can voluntarily choose to fund a means of protection for themselves, but can ONLY choose ONE. That is not a choice anymore. Alternatives (in this case competition) must exist for there to be any choice in the matter.

And it cannot be "choose this one or choose none," as that's the same as "choose life as a lawyer in my firm or choose death" = not a real choice.

There is no debate on this matter. You are either for the protection of individual rights or you aren't. If you are there are certain requirements of law and ethics. If you aren't then those requirements need not be fulfilled. You are either a brute or a rational person wishing to live in a rational society. Anyone who wishes to choose the former can go bash skulls in on a tropic island...or move to Europe. You ignored my comments earlier about monopolization. Every anarchist I have met has evaded this specific and has evaded the question of how objective law is derived under your system. We have a way of doing it, and it has been explained.

These firms would not provide protection if they do not provide retaliatory force. What are they going to do, ask a burglar to leave? No, they have to make him leave to protect my house if, for example, I'm not at it. They are shams without recognized legitimacy in their use of force

This is simply wrong and is one of the most common and pervasive errors of the libertarian/anarchist movement. You need to realize there are different kinds of force and there are different conditions in the realm of ethics as well as contextual considerations that need to be accounted for. What 2046 is suggesting is private security firms. These firms exist today and they are equally as legitimate in an Objectivist society. They use defensive force, not retaliatory force, which is monopolized by the government. There is a very important differentiation between the two and it is setup this way for very good reasons. A security guard may do certain things to remove a threat/problem from a property etc. They may not go hunt down the vigilante through the city streets or across state lines, that is something only the government can do.

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Shouldn't this be a huge concern of students of Objectivism, especially the ones with a great understanding of it?

There is no doubt the United States government needs significant changes. If these changes can only come about through others accepting Objectivism (through the vote, which requires that big voting blocs vote in favor of objective law, etc.), shouldn't one of our very important goals be to share Objectivism with others and explain to them why it is the best philosophy there is?

Yes, and it is. See the daily operations of ARI and the many ventures into effecting the culture of America to create this change, namely giving great deals to classes whose teachers wish to use one of Rand's fiction works for fiction, and the OAC's preference for academics when picking who they enroll.

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Yes, and it is. See the daily operations of ARI and the many ventures into effecting the culture of America to create this change, namely giving great deals to classes whose teachers wish to use one of Rand's fiction works for fiction, and the OAC's preference for academics when picking who they enroll.

Something about knowing something is the truth (or even being convinced something is objective truth, as in the case of Christians who are) makes you want to share it with everybody. :D

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3. An objectivist government has the attribute of objective law. To suggest that its monopoly status (which is consented by the governed who voluntarily fund it, much in the way of funding a private business you support through your dollar because you agree with and appreciate their services, of which you stop supporting with your dollar if it fails to do this....is something of concern is to suggest that there should be other government options for the population (which means more than 1 government on a landmass most likely) would mean that you prefer for there to be non-objective governments as an option. These governments, without question, are much more likely to turn to some form of recurring right violations and expansion, and it is quite possible that at some point they will, in that sense, wish to compete with the objective government in the region. As Rand has shown these types of governments are the ones that start wars, not objective governments strictly controlled b specific moral principles. Competition between such a government and the objective government would eventually not be a competition of trade, but of force. Meaning war.

The need for law is unquestioned. Rules must be in place and enforced by people. That such rules can and should be objective isn't questioned either. The question is in the administration and enforcement of said laws. The question is not whether we need a "monopoly" in law, i.e. a set or rules enforced over a region (such will necessarily develop, as is the case with common law, for example; alternatively it might be created at the outset, through a form of constitution, though different in character than ones we have today). The question is whether or not one and only one group should be able to enforce said laws. If the police in my area suck, and take, for example, 11 minutes to respond to a report of robbery, I might be willing to pay more to another agency that will respond in 5. Or I think a judge in the city is corrupt and me and my business partner agree in our contract to go to some other judicial agency if we have a dispute, the ruling of which will be binding (and enforceable by a defense agency of our choosing). That is the sort of thing that is under discussion. Monopoly of enforcement of law in a given area is not synonymous with the existence of law in a given area.

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The question is whether or not one and only one group should be able to enforce said laws. If the police in my area suck, and take, for example, 11 minutes to respond to a report of robbery, I might be willing to pay more to another agency that will respond in 5.

You can pay more and hire a private security agency to guard your property.

Or I think a judge in the city is corrupt [...]

You must have a reason for this suspicion so you should go to District Attorney and on up the line from there.

[...] and me and my business partner agree in our contract to go to some other judicial agency if we have a dispute, [...]

You can do this too, it is called binding arbitration.

[...] the ruling of which will be binding (and enforceable by a defense agency of our choosing).

This is where the problem lies. What do you mean by binding? Is it the same as binding arbitration? If so OK but I thought we were talking about competing enforcement agencies? What if there is still a dispute after the arbitration? Then do me and my partner revert to our competing agencies? And if we do, what is to prevent me from creating my own enforcement agency where I am the sole customer and also the sole enforcer (and I am always right)? Or, what is to prevent me from contracting with a bigger agency than yours after the fact (which I, of course, am willing to pay a premium for)? If you say that there is one objective law, then who is its enforcer? Who is the final arbiter of disputes? Is there one? If not, what are the consequences of that?

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You can pay more and hire a private security agency to guard your property.

If there was better response time with this private security agency, why would you even need the cops then? That is, assuming all else is equal in the sense that they both operate through objective rules?

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If there was better response time with this private security agency, why would you even need the cops then? That is, assuming all else is equal in the sense that they both operate through objective rules?

As someone said earlier: a private security agency can guard your property in self-defense, but they can't chase down criminals and enforce the law vigilante style.

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The main problem in my mind is taking government workers to court, using government judges... how could anyone that isn't the government win?
I ought to be shocked at the question, but I suppose it simply reflect a lack of concrete knowledge of the legal system. The answer, in general form, is that if your position is correct, you will win. There are thousands, maybe millions of cases where the government has lost in court. Do you need examples?
We cannot fire policemen; only their bosses can. That means the onus for that is on someone other than, for example, the affected party.
That is a good thing. That means that, unlike civil damages, we don't have to hope for an offended party to sue the miscreant.
Again my complaint is with the current government (which, it does not seem likely, will be overthrown apart from violence or massive 'enlightenment' if you will).
I don't understand what you mean by "overthrown". The concept of overthrowing a government only applies to a dictatorship of some kind. The current government (of the US, or for that matter the UK) is not a dictatorship, it is elected, and it changes frequently.
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If the police in my area suck, and take, for example, 11 minutes to respond to a report of robbery, I might be willing to pay more to another agency that will respond in 5.

As was stated by me in earlier, as well as by another member, private security forces are not illegal in an Objectivist society. Also, since these government services are voluntarily funded, why would you not either: help pay more if there is not sufficient funds (unlikely) or assist in trying to fix the problem with your community/the city government?

Or I think a judge in the city is corrupt

There is a hierarchy in every government system. There is obviously a reason you think he is corrupt, if its valid bring it up with the right people and it will be fixed. If you aren't willing to do that then that is your problem, not that of the system. If you aren't willing to correct what is obviously a correctable injustice, then you don't really deserve to get said injustice fixed to begin with since it obviously isn't important enough for you to go through the effort of fixing it.

and me and my business partner agree in our contract to go to some other judicial agency if we have a dispute

As was stated above, as an alternative to judges or courts settling disputes between consumers and businesses, binding arbitration works out a deal through an independent, third-party body. This is not illegal in an objectivist society. If one wishes to make contractual agreements through a binding third party then I don't see the issue there.

If there was better response time with this private security agency, why would you even need the cops then? That is, assuming all else is equal in the sense that they both operate through objective rules?

Because security firms can only use DEFENSIVE force not RETALIATORY force. Why do people keep ignoring this differentiation!?

The main problem in my mind is taking government workers to court, using government judges... how could anyone that isn't the government win?

As was stated by David Odden, if you cannot trust the government to rule in favor of the person who is legitimately correct on the dispute then you don't have objective law and an objective judicial system do you? There is also something to be said about the appeal process...unless you expect every judge to be corrupt which is nonsensicle. As Odden stated theres thousands of cases where the government has lost in court. If it works fairly well in a mixed economy then it will work better in an Objectivist society. Those are the two choices, unless you want a more statist society than a mixed economy in which case you don't give two hoots about objective law anyways. No one ever said it would be ideal, but it would be the best in regards to overall performance and objectivity (as well as the ability to fix potential injustices, which, being realistic, will occur from time to time as we are only human. If that is up for debate then you obviously don't believe Objectivism to be a system of objective thought and corollary laws when its implemented into the philosophy of law. In which case I would ask why would you be here debating about the specific operations of an Objectivist society in the first place, rather than some other type of society.

We cannot fire policemen; only their bosses can. That means the onus for that is on someone other than, for example, the affected party.

So in other words we cannot arbitrarily fire someone. The bosses must adhere to objective law because they are in a government institution and therefore governed by mandated laws and a mandated hierarchal system. This is Max Weber's elements of bureaucracy 101. If the onus is on the affected party the decision is biased. This is the same reason we have a third party deciding matters in a judicial system. What if we let the affected party make the decision of what fate is to be brought upon the defendant? Every murderer of a family member would be put in front of a firing squad if we let that happen.

Again my complaint is with the current government (which, it does not seem likely, will be overthrown apart from violence or massive 'enlightenment' if you will)

What David Odden said. There is legitimate peaceful means of changing government unless it is a dicatorship, which is when the term "overthrown" would be appropriate. This United States, while immensely corrupt, corporatist (i.e. collusion between businesses and government) and growing in statism, it is not a dicatorship as it does not qualify under all of the necessary conditions. Once it reaches that stage it is no longer time for protest but forceful revolution, and it will be abundantly clear to everyone in this country when that time has come, the only issue is if we will have the balls to do anything about it, and frankly, if this country doesn't I wouldn't have much hope for any other country in that situation. Especially considering half the country is gun-toting southerners that would lose their shit before we got to that stage (i.e. a drastic change in law, such as making the ownership of guns illegal, which is usually a necessary prior change before entering official dictatorship)

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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In short, police and courts do not have to be monopolies for an Objectivist system to work. Law, perhaps, does, but if we have a society of Objectivists, common law will almost certainly be objective and just law. After all, isn't it we Objectivist-types that say that a simple top-down change in society is impossible, and that cultural shift is needed to both create and maintain such change in the long haul? A society of mostly Objectivists will not stay Objectivist for long if it doesn't wish to, government or no. And a society of Objectivists, I argue, would not need a government, in that it has sole jurisdiction over an area maintained by force if necessary.

Please elaborate on this point more. If we agree that there is required a territorial monopoly of a certain kind of law based on Objectivist principles for banning the initiation of force, regulating the retaliation of force, and regulating criminal and civil justice, how is it possible that a private police force and private court system to operate within this framework? It would seem to me that this criminal justice system would require both police and criminal courts to operate under a government structure, and the civil courts on the other hand to operate under the government structure in order to legally and morally enforce the objective laws. Otherwise it suggests to me the principle is that a man who simply chooses not to delegate his right of self defense to the government is perfect justified in not following any of those rules specifying the objective principles for doing so, and that he or his agent can simply hunt the supposed aggressor down and dispense his own justice as he sees fit.

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