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Objectivism and The State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand

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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?

Binding as in universally regarded as enforceable. So, if someone disagrees even after the process of arbitration dictated in the contract has been finished, that's just too bad. No one will care, because we've already gone through the judicial process (according to the law). It would be similar to if the Supreme Court hands down a ruling. By law, what they say is final. Therefore, there decision is carried out by everyone, and if it is not, they are punished because they broke the law. You can try to set up or sign with a defense agency that doesn't care about the law, but then it will be an outlaw agency whose agents will be subject to the use of force by the agents of any and all other agencies, as well as private citizens (in defense). You would, essentially, be declaring a war on society, and the consequences will be no different really than if you are in a criminal organization like a gang or the mob. You'd be hunted down and dealt with in the manner the law provides. The idea that you could contract with some huge agency that ignores the law is silly, because as I said before, such an agency would have to survive while in constant conflict with everyone else in society (it really would be no different than problems of corruption and the Mafia that we see today, and as everyone recognizes I should hope, such organizations will be hard pressed to survive if it wasn't for the illegality of drugs).

The enforcer of law could be anyone, but anyone who acts in the capacity of enforcer must be subject to judgment by others in society (so if you go on a killing rampage, or break the law in some way, other agencies or individuals will act to stop you and bring you to justice). The final arbiter for disputes will either be arranged in the contract itself, or be set up via an agreement between the defense agencies we contract with, or simply the decision of any two courts (provided both were not contracted by only one party in the dispute) on the subject matter. Such rules could be placed in the law. There has to be a final arbiter, and the rules surrounding that should be subject to law, but there does not have to be a single final arbiter which has that role for every dispute around.

I don't see why there would be a negative consequence to having many courts which act as final arbiters in each individual case rather than a single all-encompassing final arbiter. Nor would there necessarily be a net negative consequence to having competing agencies of defense and enforcement of law. Benefits would be likely increase in efficiency and protection generally (because people would actually be paying for the service rather than having money taken from them without consent or simply having some people donate to finance the whole system; having payment and service closely linked improves quality in almost all instances). Costs would be possibly increased friction between agencies, and likely more court cases (though courts would also be more efficient if they had to compete for business). Overall, the only net benefit would be that it would eliminate the monopoly of police departments and courts which, as far as I can see, is unnecessary for man's nature and thus unjust.

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

If all acts of retaliatory force are also up for review according to the law we are dealing with, then why make a differentiation? Any and ALL acts of force would be (at least could) subject to review. You must agree with this, because the acts of the police must necessarily be subject to judicial review in any conceivably objective government. But if everything is up for review, why do you need "police" in the sense of a specific institution, rather than defense/enforcement agencies that enforce the decisions of courts? If a court sentences a man to die, and I hunt him down and execute him with a bullet to the head, what is the problem? He had been sentenced to death, he's dead. I simply don't see the need for a differentiation between retaliatory or and defensive force so long as all acts of force are open for review by courts. If I do something wrong while trying to enforce the law, I am subject to punishment. Where's the issue?

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?

Just be careful about writing off things because they're not objective. If you stipulate "a government that enforces objective law in an objective way", then you have eliminated all problems from the hypothetical government, as any deviation in enforcement or court decisions is written off as not part of it. It is quite possible that the courts will make the wrong decision. It has happened before and will happen again. The question is that given any system is necessarily fallible, how do we minimize the errors in both number and scope?

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.

If you have law (either an explicit written constitution-type document or a huge body of common law with well established principles serving the same purpose), then anyone may enforce it. If people believe they committed an error, they will be brought to court and dealt with, and so on and so on. The ultimate check is everyone in society enforcing the rules on everyone else. That is the case whether we have some people who are designated part of "government" or not, as ultimately the only check to make sure a government is objective is a population which ensures that it is indeed objective. Ultimately, government or no, all there is in society is a bunch of people enforcing the rules as they see them on everyone they come across, and if the people are objective the rules and enforcement will be objective, and if not, they won't. If you follow different, non-objective rules than society at large, you will be punished (and rightly so, if the rules applied to you are objective). You can do anything, so long as you obey objective rules/law. If you hunt down the man who murdered your wife, for instance, then you are perfectly justified in doing so so long as the punishment you deliver is just (i.e. appropriate according to the objective rules of justice) and he is indeed guilty (which would be up to the judgment of everyone else in society, though most everyone will respect the decision of a court which they find to administrate the law objectively). You don't need a specific institution for the administration of justice, only a system of objective principles of justice accepted by society. If you have that, administration of justice will be objective. If you don't, I don't care what government you have, it simply isn't going to be objective or stay objective for long.

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. If you hunt down the man who murdered your wife, for instance, then you are perfectly justified in doing so

This is more of a nit pick...but I could at least consider this if it was a private enforcement agency bound to objective law. There is protocol, standards, hierarchy, training, and so on down the line. (This seems to be one of the main points of contention, can we have retaliatory private enforcement agencies if they are under government jurisdiction, and I feel as if Rand made some vague references to these kinds of suggestions and explained why this would not work but I cannot think of where or what she said)....but this I simpy do not and cannot agree with. This will almost certainly result in revenge, not justice. You cannot have the affected party distributing "vigilante justice", there is too large of a possibility of error, that harm may befall other citizens, and so forth. You cannot bring that life back if he is in error. As I stated previously this is why we have third parties that handle these things.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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You can imagine yeoman farmers and village merchants in tricornered hats, but the word "police" appears nowhere in the US Constitution. This claim only goes back as far as John Stuart Mill's On Liberty (1869) because the first police force was London's in 1827. This idea was given fullest expression in an essay by German sociologist Max Weber in "Politics as a Vocation" (1920).

'Every state is founded on force,' said Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutions existed which knew the use of violence, then the concept of 'state' would be eliminated, and a condition would emerge that could be designated as 'anarchy,' in the specific sense of this word. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the only means of the state--nobody says that--but force is a means specific to the state. Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions--beginning with the sib--have known the use of physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that 'territory' is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the 'right' to use violence. Hence, 'politics' for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state. [original German below]

»Jeder Staat wird auf Gewalt gegründet«, sagte seinerzeit TROTZKIJ in Brest-Litowsk. Das ist in der Tat richtig. Wenn nur soziale Gebilde beständen, denen die Gewaltsamkeit als Mittel unbekannt wäre, dann würde der Begriff »Staat« fortgefallen sein, dann wäre eingetreten, was man in diesem besonderen Sinne des Wortes als »Anarchie« bezeichnen würde. Gewaltsamkeit ist natürlich nicht etwa das normale oder einzige Mittel des Staates: – davon ist keine Rede –, wohl aber: das ihm spezifische. Gerade heute ist die Beziehung des Staates zur Gewaltsamkeit besonders intim. In der Vergangenheit haben die verschiedensten Verbände – von der Sippe angefangen – physische Gewaltsamkeit als ganz normales Mittel gekannt. Heute dagegen werden wir sagen müssen: Staat ist diejenige menschliche Gemeinschaft, welche innerhalb eines bestimmten Gebietes – dies: das »Gebiet« gehört zum Merkmal – das Monopol legitimer physischer Gewaltsamkeit für sich (mit Erfolg) beansprucht. Denn das der Gegenwart Spezifische ist: dass man allen anderen Verbänden oder Einzelpersonen das Recht zur physischen Gewaltsamkeit nur so weit zuschreibt, als der Staat sie von ihrer Seite zulässt: er gilt als alleinige Quelle des »Rechts« auf Gewaltsamkeit.

Edited by Hermes
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You can try to set up or sign with a defense agency that doesn't care about the law, but then it will be an outlaw agency whose agents will be subject to the use of force by the agents of any and all other agencies, as well as private citizens (in defense). You would, essentially, be declaring a war on society, and the consequences will be no different really than if you are in a criminal organization like a gang or the mob. You'd be hunted down and dealt with in the manner the law provides. [emphasis added]

Yes, I'm afraid you have described it very eloquently. This is exactly what you would have "a war on society". Anarchy.

The idea that you could contract with some huge agency that ignores the law is silly, because as I said before, such an agency would have to survive while in constant conflict with everyone else in society (it really would be no different than problems of corruption and the Mafia that we see today, and as everyone recognizes I should hope, such organizations will be hard pressed to survive if it wasn't for the illegality of drugs).

I didn't suggest that the agency would ignore the law. In fact, I suggest that the agency would be following the law and your reply ignores the fact that there are legitimate disputes or disagreements between rational men.

I further suggest that the Mafia survives because of the arrangement you propose here. It survives because there are people who want to deal in force. It has survived without illegal drugs in the past and it will continue to survive because it and its patrons use force to live off of other people.

There has to be a final arbiter, and the rules surrounding that should be subject to law, but there does not have to be a single final arbiter which has that role for every dispute around.

This just kicks the can further down the street. So you get a final arbiter on your side and I get one on my side. Then you get two on your side and I get two on my side. Etc. etc. etc. ...

We could go round and round on this as has been done in many threads already: here is a good one. And there are many others including ones that mention your particular set-up of competing enforcement agencies.

The only way to decide the issue is on principle:

- what is the only thing that can violate your rights? Force.

- so then how is the only way to have a civilized society that respects your rights? Outlaw the use of physical force. You don't outlaw the use of physical force by making it lawful for men to practice it.

All other solutions devolve to tyranny or anarchy.

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Yes, I'm afraid you have described it very eloquently. This is exactly what you would have "a war on society".

The war on society I was discussing is what the Mafia and serial killers do. It is one which we have to fight in any society, including and Objectivist one, because there will always be crazies.

I further suggest that the Mafia survives because of the arrangement you propose here. It survives because there are people who want to deal in force. It has survived without illegal drugs in the past and it will continue to survive because it and its patrons use force to live off of other people.

Without illegal drugs it has always been on the fringes of society in the modern era, as it will necessarily continue to be once such restrictions are removed. I do not say that no one will use force. I am saying that anyone wishing to deal in force will face constant threat from the rest of society, and so those who do initiate force will be few in number, and that force can be as well restrained without a "government" in the sense of monopoly police and courts as it can with them.

This just kicks the can further down the street. So you get a final arbiter on your side and I get one on my side. Then you get two on your side and I get two on my side. Etc. etc. etc. ...

You can't have multiple final arbiters on each side. You arrange for arbitration and the order and rules regarding it in your contract, and that is respected by everyone else in society (it is, after all, in the contract) and so any break with that is permissible to be met with whatever force is there by law. Or, we have a law that says the decision in any two courts (not hired by one party in the dispute) will be final. It doesn't kick the can down the road, because if three courts have heard the case, the decision of two of them will be final and deemed enforceable. If that's the law (or what you agreed on in the contract), then where is the can-kicking?

The only way to decide the issue is on principle:

- what is the only thing that can violate your rights? Force.

- so then how is the only way to have a civilized society that respects your rights? Outlaw the use of physical force. You don't outlaw the use of physical force by making it lawful for men to practice it.

Agreed. It is lawful for men to practice justified retaliatory force (it is lawful for some to do it now after all, and it must always be so). It is unlawful to initiate force (including a misapplication of so-called retaliatory force, for example using too much force, or using force against someone who is innocent). I don't see the problem there.

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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.

When he met Ayn Rand and asked for her autograph, instead of Atlas Shrugged, he offered Introduction to the Objectivist Epistemology, for which she commended him.

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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)

Just to clarify, the FDA is not a proper function of government, so an Objectivist government would not include anything like that.

Over on Rebirth of Reason, in the Dissent forum, I have several topics, including "Police Forces and Courts of Law..." and "In a World Without Government." In the first, I cite obvious known failures of public police (the Soviet Agriculture model of safety), and also the known alternatives. Those known alternatives come from the real world. Ford Motor Company and General Motors have had large private police forces in a competing market geographically close and continguous and not fired a shot at each other in 100 years. Wells-Fargo, Burns, Pinkerton and the others never went to war against each other -- or against the government, for that matter. Today, G4S ("G-Force") and Securitas AB operate huge transnational agencies in competition and, again, no armed conflict between them. So, the real world includes many examples denied as possible by Objectivist theory. (Perhaps it is only denied by some people's interpretation of Objectivist theory.) The reason why is that these businesses accept a culture of law based on self-interest. Absent that, you have war, the essence of government.

As for the FDA, the "Terry Stop" is a lawful engagement in which a police officer has reason to pat down a suspect. In the Terry case, the police officer saw a known felon loitering by a jewelry store. Do the police have the right to protect life and property by taking reaonsable preventive action? If so, then, by the same standard the FDA can be a lawful agency which prevents fraud in the marketplace. That applies to many other enforcement agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. All I am saying is that your assumption that independent testing of goods and services by government agencies is not proper is a reflexive conservative or libertarian belief, not derived from objective principles. If the police can act to prevent crime, then the FDA can be appropriate.

Edited by Hermes
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... Ford Motor Company and General Motors have had large private police forces in a competing market geographically close and continguous and not fired a shot at each other in 100 years. Wells-Fargo, Burns, Pinkerton and the others never went to war against each other -- or against the government, for that matter. Today, G4S ("G-Force") and Securitas AB operate huge transnational agencies in competition and, again, no armed conflict between them. So, the real world includes many examples denied as possible by Objectivist theory.
Nothing in Objectivism denies the existence of such forces. Further, in general, nothing in Objectivism declares them as somehow illegitimate.
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It would save everyone a lot of time (and assist in overall organization) if people that post would read the other posts in the thread beforehand so that we don't have arguments which don't need to exist, such as the perfect example which is the last few postings. There is obviously a legitimate excuse for not doing this in some threads that are quite long already, but this one has not even reached 3 pages yet.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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The war on society I was discussing is what the Mafia and serial killers do.

Yes, and what I'm suggesting is that if your plan is implemented we will all be forced to become part of a Mafia in order to survive. I think you understand this, at least subconsciously, as you keep referring to a society constantly at war, like here:

I am saying that anyone wishing to deal in force will face constant threat from the rest of society,

We will all be forced to deal in force, it will be the only way to protect ourselves. Right now there are the criminals and the law abiding citizens and the Police stand between the two and they stop the criminals. In your plan the criminals will have their own protectorate, we will have ours and it will be all against all, this isn't civilized.

You can't have multiple final arbiters on each side. You arrange for arbitration and the order and rules regarding it in your contract, and that is respected by everyone else in society (it is, after all, in the contract)

I don't remember signing a contract with the criminal.

The only way to decide the issue is on principle:

- what is the only thing that can violate your rights? Force.

- so then how is the only way to have a civilized society that respects your rights? Outlaw the use of physical force. You don't outlaw the use of physical force by making it lawful for men to practice it.

I don't know what you are agreeing with, you seem to disagree. It is important that you not confuse self-defense with retaliation, they are separate concepts.

I ask you again to confirm agreement with the two principles enumerated by me above. And if you do, then how can you maintain the contradiction that follows, namely: "You don't outlaw the use of physical force by making it lawful for men to practice it."

Now please, before you reply, read the thread that I linked to in my previous post, it is a short 7 pages and if you wish you only need read the replies of David Odden and Me to mrocktor (for my purposes). All of your questions are answered there and I'm not too keen on duplicating that effort. If you still have questions, then by all means post them here and feel free to quote from that other thread also.

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We will all be forced to deal in force, it will be the only way to protect ourselves. Right now there are the criminals and the law abiding citizens and the Police stand between the two and they stop the criminals. In your plan the criminals will have their own protectorate, we will have ours and it will be all against all, this isn't civilized.

Right now, I am saying we all "deal" in force, except that the vast majority elect to have the people employed as policemen do the work of defending us. Criminals have their protectorate now (themselves, each other, etc.), and so do we (the government), and the two are at war. That is reality, and it will always be so. It is an unwinnable war, in that all criminals will not be once and for all vanquished, but one side can consistently be winning handily (namely, government, as it is today).

I don't know what you are agreeing with, you seem to disagree. It is important that you not confuse self-defense with retaliation, they are separate concepts.

I deny they are separate in any sense. I can defend/retaliate so long as I do so by not violating the rights of anyone who is innocent (that is, anyone who has not committed a crime; that is different from anyone who has not been convicted before a court of law to have committed a crime). I must show my act of force was legitimate in the sense that it was just, i.e. that I acted with an appropriate (just) level of force against a guilty individual. If I cannot do this, or if I used too much force, then I must be punished for my act of force (or whatever the difference was between the just level of force and that which I employed).

I ask you again to confirm agreement with the two principles enumerated by me above. And if you do, then how can you maintain the contradiction that follows, namely: "You don't outlaw the use of physical force by making it lawful for men to practice it."

I outlaw the initiation of force. If it were unlawful for men to use force ever, then the justice system collapses, as it is composed of men. Retaliatory/defensive (they are, as above, one and the same) force is justified to within the bounds of justice against guilty men. What is the just level of force against a guilty man for crime X? I think somewhat more than the amount of force he used against another man, plus restitution if such a thing is possible for the crime. So, kill a murderer, take 1000 dollars from someone who stole 1000 dollars (in addition to the thousand in restitution), etc. Translating that into years in prison, or perhaps direct compensation to the victim, should (I think), be up to the victim in the case.

Now please, before you reply, read the thread that I linked to in my previous post, it is a short 7 pages and if you wish you only need read the replies of David Odden and Me to mrocktor (for my purposes). All of your questions are answered there and I'm not too keen on duplicating that effort. If you still have questions, then by all means post them here and feel free to quote from that other thread also.

Did it. Took an hour and a half, but I read every post (well, not andre whatever's, they weren't enlightening). I agree with mrocktor in essentially every point, except for when he made that comment that if someone kills someone next to you, and you kill them, but it turns out the original man who was killed was actually a murderer and the second man was simply dealing out justice, then you should not be punished. You should, you murdered an innocent man, regardless of whether you thought he was a threat. And that was one thing you hammered him on in that thread, for saying that he should not be punished.

I was surprised that you mentioned "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and the hiring of professional jurors for cases on the street as a possibly legitimate system of justice. I have not read the novel, but to my understanding it is essentially a depiction of an anarcho-capitalist revolution on the Moon, and the system you very very briefly outlined sounded a heck of a lot like what I was discussing previously in this thread.

I really do not see how you could disagree that I can use the lawful amount of force due to a man who is guilty of a crime, provided I do not violate anyone else's rights. I must, of course, be presumed, for the time being, to be a threat and be detained, of course. But if the person I used force upon is found guilty of a crime (even with the numerous increases in restrictions resulting from, for example, the possibility I planted evidence, the probably invalidation of my testimony, etc. etc. etc.), and the legal amount of force to use against him was greater than or equal to the amount I used, then I should be acquitted and compensated for my loss of time/restriction of movement. It would likely be quite difficult in many instances to actually prove the guilt of the party I used force against, but that simply means that I am going to have to be very cautious about taking a vigilante route, rather than going through courts.

Due process is a means to show everyone that the conviction was just. It is a protection for government officials to not be convicted of a crime (for kidnapping for example) for sending someone to jail. It also makes proving someone guilty somewhat easier, as more evidence will be allowable in court if it is followed. However, it has nothing to do with proving guilt or making the act of retaliation just. So long as you can objectively prove guilt and show that the force was of a just level, due process (in the sense of chains of evidence, etc.) isn't important. It certainly would factor into what would be taken as evidence in the case to determine the just-ness of the act of force, but violating those rules couldn't be punished in and of themselves. Of course for government agents one could be prosecuted for violating those rules, but that is because you would agree to abide by them in your contract for employment, not because doing so would necessarily violate anyone's rights.

And if vigilantism as you might call is just, so are private defense agencies (so long as their actions are up for legal review). And if those hired private jurors you said might be a legitimate system of justice are indeed legitimate, then you have no monopoly government, only monopoly law. And that I'm fine with.

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... large private police forces ...and not fired a shot at each other in 100 years. ... never went to war against each other -- or against the government... and, again, no armed conflict between them. So, the real world includes many examples denied as possible by Objectivist theory.

Read the words. If you are unclear, then the fault may be mine for not writing well. My point was that according to the canonical essay on "competing governments" (so-called), private forces would of necessity go to war over the theft of a wallet. Clearly, that is not necessary. Many historical counter-examples disprove the claim. That is what I meant: Objectivist theory denies the possibility of competing protection agencies (not "governments") working peacefully together.

None of those examples are remotely applicable because they are all subordinate to actual governments.

On the other hand, Mafia gangs in days past and ghetto gangs today -- MS-13, Crips, Mighty Latins -- do go to war against each other and against the police. The Second Congo War took more lives than World War II as eight armies from five nations threw in with one or another or none of the sides in a local conflict. So, there is no doubt that some people are aggressive. The mere presence of government does not prevent them from warring.

Government is just one way to realize law. Law comes first and law is based on tradition. William Graham Sumner outlined the structures of folkways, customs and laws over 100 years ago, but today's "conservatives" (libertarians, Objectivists) deny the value in sociology and have given the field to the Marxists and post-modernists. Instead of identifying the facts of human action, the "libertarians" (Objectivists) invent false propaganda about "warring defense agenies" and the inability to find a common arbitrator. And granted, if you do not want to come to terms, you will not. Vander Sloot promises to fight the Peruvian government all the way to the top. Clearly, the presence of government in Aruba did little for Natalee Holloway.

It is a metaphysical fact that governments act on the past, attempting to correct an injustice, whereas businesses offering protection mechanisms act for the future to prevent losses.

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Objectivist theory denies the possibility of competing protection agencies (not "governments") working peacefully together.
I don't know how you reached this conclusion; it is not my understanding of Objectivism. Edited by softwareNerd
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On the other hand, Mafia gangs in days past and ghetto gangs today -- MS-13, Crips, Mighty Latins -- do go to war against each other and against the police. The Second Congo War took more lives than World War II as eight armies from five nations threw in with one or another or none of the sides in a local conflict. So, there is no doubt that some people are aggressive. The mere presence of government does not prevent them from warring.

Retaliatory Force which is not subordinate to government leads to civil war and anarchy, a perfect demonstration of the point that government must be monopolistic and strong enough to enforce that monopoly.

Government is just one way to realize law. Law comes first and law is based on tradition. William Graham Sumner outlined the structures of folkways, customs and laws over 100 years ago, but today's "conservatives" (libertarians, Objectivists) deny the value in sociology and have given the field to the Marxists and post-modernists. Instead of identifying the facts of human action, the "libertarians" (Objectivists) invent false propaganda about "warring defense agenies" and the inability to find a common arbitrator. And granted, if you do not want to come to terms, you will not. Vander Sloot promises to fight the Peruvian government all the way to the top. Clearly, the presence of government in Aruba did little for Natalee Holloway.
What is tradition based on? Where does it come from? All traditions have a start in some guy with an idea. Nothing about an idea being old or traditional gives it any special status. The fundamental distinction between ideas the true versus false. There is no inherent value in tradition. (This is one of several ways Objectivism is not compatible with conservatism.)

It is a metaphysical fact that governments act on the past, attempting to correct an injustice, whereas businesses offering protection mechanisms act for the future to prevent losses.

If you actually understood the distinction between the metaphysical and the man-made, the flaw in claiming anything about government is metaphysical would be obvious to you.
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Right now, I am saying we all "deal" in force, except that the vast majority elect to have the people employed as policemen do the work of defending us.

I never deal in force and when someone uses force against me I can be certain that they are violating my rights. You want to make it legal for them to do so and to remove that certainty from my mind.

Criminals have their protectorate now (themselves, each other, etc.), and so do we (the government), and the two are at war.

And you want to make the Mafia's protectorate legal!!! You would allow them to operate as they see fit and the only thing law abiding citizens could do is choose not to deal with them which is what we choose now. You would bestow upon the Mafia the imprimatur of "legal". It isn't that they are acting outside the law, they just have a different way of doing things.

I deny they are separate in any sense.

Then you are denying reality.

I can defend/retaliate so long as I do so by not violating the rights of anyone who is innocent (that is, anyone who has not committed a crime; that is different from anyone who has not been convicted before a court of law to have committed a crime). I must show my act of force was legitimate in the sense that it was just, i.e. that I acted with an appropriate (just) level of force against a guilty individual. If I cannot do this, or if I used too much force, then I must be punished for my act of force (or whatever the difference was between the just level of force and that which I employed). [emphasis added]

And this is called anarchy. Let's not beat around the bush -- you know that you are promoting anarchy right? You want to deal out punishment before you have proven in a court of law that the accused has committed the crime; and if you execute an innocent man, then too bad for him. Of course, I'm sure you'll say that you are a rational man, but even rational men make mistakes. But what about all of the irrational vigilantes that will be running around? What kind of society will they promote? A civilized one? No.

I outlaw the initiation of force.

No you don't. You allow an innocent man who is thought to be guilty to be punished before it is proven that he is guilty.

Translating that into years in prison, or perhaps direct compensation to the victim, should (I think), be up to the victim in the case.

Allowing the victim to decide on the punishment adds to the injustice of the system. Some murderers will be set free by christians and pacifists and some thieves will be executed by muslims.

I agree with mrocktor in essentially every point, except for when he made that comment that if someone kills someone next to you, and you kill them, but it turns out the original man who was killed was actually a murderer and the second man was simply dealing out justice, then you should not be punished. You should, you murdered an innocent man, regardless of whether you thought he was a threat. And that was one thing you hammered him on in that thread, for saying that he should not be punished.

You haven't said anything different than mrocktor did -- you missed the point of the thread. The specific answer to the question of whether I should shoot the man or whether I should be punished for it doesn't matter: it is the system I object to. In a civilized society, under objective law, where only the police deal in force one knows what to do -- if someone comes up and shoots the man standing next to you, he is a threat to your life and you defend yourself.

Under anarchy when someone comes up and shoots the man standing next to you, you can't know what to do. Is this man a murderer or just your run-of-the-mill vigilante? If he is a murderer I should shoot him but if he turns out to be a vigilante, then according to you I should be punished. And I have no appeal to the law either because his protectorate might be right down the street and they might shoot me on the spot. Then my gang shows up and pretty soon it is war in the streets as you have previously described.

I was surprised that you mentioned "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and the hiring of professional jurors for cases on the street as a possibly legitimate system of justice. I have not read the novel, but to my understanding it is essentially a depiction of an anarcho-capitalist revolution on the Moon, and the system you very very briefly outlined sounded a heck of a lot like what I was discussing previously in this thread.

I don't think you understand the novel correctly. Don't take my mention of "Moon" as an endorsement, I was simply pointing out that the US system is not the ONLY possible system. The moon is a completely different context, just as the "Wild West" is.

As I mentioned you have not said anything different from what other anarchists have advocated and all of those arguments have been answered to my satisfaction -- so I am loath to repeat those arguments. Nothing you have said here is different from the thread I linked to, and you read. So unless you have something new I am willing to let my position stand as stated in this thread and the other.

Here are some descriptions of anarchism from the Ayn Rand Lexicon:

If a society provided no organized protection against force, it would compel every citizen to go about armed, to turn his home into a fortress, to shoot any strangers approaching his door—or to join a protective gang of citizens who would fight other gangs, formed for the same purpose, and thus bring about the degeneration of that society into the chaos of gang-rule, i.e., rule by brute force, into perpetual tribal warfare of prehistorical savages.

The use of physical force—even its retaliatory use—cannot be left at the discretion of individual citizens. Peaceful coexistence is impossible if a man has to live under the constant threat of force to be unleashed against him by any of his neighbors at any moment. Whether his neighbors’ intentions are good or bad, whether their judgment is rational or irrational, whether they are motivated by a sense of justice or by ignorance or by prejudice or by malice—the use of force against one man cannot be left to the arbitrary decision of another. -- “The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 108.

Remember that forcible restraint of men is the only service a government has to offer. Ask yourself what a competition in forcible restraint would have to mean.

One cannot call this theory a contradiction in terms, since it is obviously devoid of any understanding of the terms “competition” and “government.” Nor can one call it a floating abstraction, since it is devoid of any contact with or reference to reality and cannot be concretized at all, not even roughly or approximately. One illustration will be sufficient: suppose Mr. Smith, a customer of Government A, suspects that his next-door neighbor, Mr. Jones, a customer of Government B, has robbed him; a squad of Police A proceeds to Mr. Jones’ house and is met at the door by a squad of Police B, who declare that they do not accept the validity of Mr. Smith’s complaint and do not recognize the authority of Government A. What happens then? You take it from there. -- “The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 112.

EDIT: Added Lexicon quotes

Edited by Marc K.
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I'd like to make a couple of observations on the debate in general, not in response to the last post.

One is that "contract" presupposes enforcement. You cannot rely on contracts to create reliable enforcement organizations.

Also, the very common references to "objective laws," "objective society," etc. represent a huge mistake about the meaning of "objective." When Rand talked about the importance of objective laws, she did not mean "Objectivist" laws, she just meant laws that were explicit, laws that were specific enough to be enforceable, that were permanent, and thus could be relied on by citizens. The laws themselves might be wrong-minded and still be fully objective in the relevant sense.

As an after-thought to that point, it amazes me that anyone can actually imagine a group of people could be vetted as "Objectivists," and they would represent an ideal, peaceful, right-thinking group requiring the intervention of enforcement agents very little if at all! Doesn't the history of the movement itself make you aware of how changeable, volatile, unpredictable, and contentious "Objectivists" are?

The Constitution is the heart and soul of a good government. An explicit statement of the rights of men, and of the due process by which those rights may be interfered with, along with provisions for checks and balances, etc. is sufficient to put people's interactions on a civilized footing.

Notice that due process is like objective, explicit law. Due process defines and makes explicit what law enforcement does in proving charges, sentencing a perpetrator, etc. It is the definition, the explicitness, the restrained processing of offenders, etc. that fosters justice. This quality of objectivity--of explicitness--cannot make up for a deficient constitution, but in combination with a right-minded one, such as ours, it serves well to institute peace and justice among men.

The problem of corrupt individuals in government is addressed, in part, by the requirements of due process. Due process itself works counter to subjectivity. It puts each case into a common frame, allowing fair comparison, and thus revealing arbitrary decisions or treatment.

A constitution, explicit laws, and due process are very much under-valued in most of the debate here, I find.

It can't be emphasized too much that the idea of contractual enforcement agencies puts the cart before the horse. A contract presupposes a governing institution. What is the force of a contract if breaking it has no consequences beyond the anger of the other party to that contract? This is a fatal flaw, and ignoring it leads to hopeless and hapless schemes without the proverbial snowball's chance...

--Mindy

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I had typed up a very detailed response. If this sounds snippy, it is because the work of nearly an hour I put in was deleted in under a second by an unknown typo (I believe I selected all text and then typed a letter, all at once, without meaning to). I'm a bit peeved as of this writing.

I never deal in force and when someone uses force against me I can be certain that they are violating my rights. You want to make it legal for them to do so and to remove that certainty from my mind.

Did you infringe on someone's rights before? Yes or no? If yes, then they are probably not violating your rights (depends on what exactly they are doing, but it wouldn't be hard to tell). If no, then they are. Where'd the certainty go?

And you want to make the Mafia's protectorate legal!!!

Sure, as long as they do not use force against those who are trying to bring their clients to justice (for example, if they are convicted of a crime, and they are going to arrest them and punish them according to the law). If they do so, they would be initiating force and so guilty of crime. If they're aren't interfering with justice/initiating force, there's no problem. That seems obvious (and very unlikely for Mafia protectorates).

And this is called anarchy. Let's not beat around the bush -- you know that you are promoting anarchy right?
"No rulers" (i.e. monopoly enforcers/courts)= "anarchy" then yes. "No rules" = "anarchy", then no. Big big difference.
You want to deal out punishment before you have proven in a court of law that the accused has committed the crime; and if you execute an innocent man, then too bad for him. Of course, I'm sure you'll say that you are a rational man, but even rational men make mistakes. But what about all of the irrational vigilantes that will be running around? What kind of society will they promote? A civilized one? No.
I do not want to do so, I think it would be reckless to do so. Too much risk. But I could if I was reckless. And if I mess up, then I'll pay the price, plain and simple. The courts and police would be more efficient, as they'd compete for business, and so any crazed vigilantes/rogue enforcement agencies (those who misuse force basically) wouldn't last very long at all.

You allow an innocent man who is thought to be guilty to be punished before it is proven that he is guilty.

If he's innocent, I don't allow it, as the man who punished him will be punished. If he's guilty, there's no issue.

Allowing the victim to decide on the punishment adds to the injustice of the system. Some murderers will be set free by christians and pacifists and some thieves will be executed by muslims.

Say I steal 1000 dollars. Then I need to pay you 2000 (plus court expenses, etc.), 1000 that I stole, and then 1000 punishment. Now, say I offer to have you or someone else whip me 10 times instead of paying you. You agree or disagree, we haggle, etc. and eventually land on some punishment we both agree with (obviously, I'm gonna try to reduce my sentence, and you'll try to increase it). If you are being unreasonable (like wanting to kill me), then I, the thief, can always just pay you the money and be done with it. If I killed your wife, then I can try to haggle, but you are clearly in a better position as you can always just kill me and be done with it. Regardless, since there will be an objective baseline, whatever punishment occurs will be just (as it was agreed upon by both parties and/or ruled by court). If a pacifist wants to let someone go, then why not let him, he's just asking to get hurt again. If a muslim wants to kill a thief, well he can't, because that would be a violation of the thief's rights. I think you misunderstood my point here; there isn't a problem, thanks to the objective baseline set by the court.

You haven't said anything different than mrocktor did -- you missed the point of the thread.

You never defeated his arguments. He had the better argument, far more convincing/sound than your's or David's in my opinion. That's why I said I agreed with almost everything he said.

Under anarchy when someone comes up and shoots the man standing next to you, you can't know what to do. Is this man a murderer or just your run-of-the-mill vigilante? If he is a murderer I should shoot him but if he turns out to be a vigilante, then according to you I should be punished. And I have no appeal to the law either because his protectorate might be right down the street and they might shoot me on the spot. Then my gang shows up and pretty soon it is war in the streets as you have previously described.

Highly unlikely, as it would be costly and irrational to do what you suggest here. You can however hold him at gun point until police-types arrive. He is, after all, guilty until proven innocent (though you need to be cautious about the possibility of that last part). If he attacks you, then defend yourself; otherwise avoid killing him or hurting him. Perhaps there should be some wiggle room here, as without evidence you have to go on the evidence available. Though, this would be akin to an undercover cop shooting someone and not announcing his identity first. If you tried to defend yourself against him, you probably won't be charged with anything, as you didn't have any way of knowing. Perhaps I was wrong, I haven't totally made up my mind.

I don't think you understand the novel correctly. Don't take my mention of "Moon" as an endorsement, I was simply pointing out that the US system is not the ONLY possible system. The moon is a completely different context, just as the "Wild West" is.

Perhaps they are somewhat different, But I think everyone owning and carrying a gun would make the world a much safer place than the government itself ever will (interestingly, the Wild West wasn't so wild, it had very few murder/deaths, you can research it).

As I mentioned you have not said anything different from what other anarchists have advocated and all of those arguments have been answered to my satisfaction -- so I am loath to repeat those arguments. Nothing you have said here is different from the thread I linked to, and you read. So unless you have something new I am willing to let my position stand as stated in this thread and the other.

Well the arguments against "anarchism" in my sense (no rulers, just rules) have been answered to my satisfaction, and I've never seen a convincing argument for a monopoly government as opposed to monopoly law (which I think is necessary).

A point of confusion that I see is that government isn't actually an entity that can be examined directly. It is merely a group of men who say they act by some set of rules. Only the populace can check and judge whether they are or not. How does government get or maintain its authority? By the consent and support of the populace. But the only way government can be just is if the people are just. And if the people are just, then why do you need a monopoly government as opposed to simply a just set of rules? People will, collectively, enforce those rules (they do now in exactly that manner, they simply have a monopoly enforcer; probably out of force of habit). If the people are unjust, monopoly government can't save you. If the people are just, then monopoly government is superfluous. The only way to have justice is for there to be a populace of just, rational people. With them, enforcement will be ensured to be just, as will the courts, by popular opinion, competition for business, and ultimately the power of the people. Government is simply a bunch of people protecting other people according to an agreed upon arrangement; why not let people compete for those agreements (within the bounds of just law)? When it comes down to it, the very mechanisms you and others propose will ensure government is just are the mechanisms that will ensure enforcement agencies are just in a system that allows competition in that arena. There is no difference, except one unnecessarily restricts competition in a possible business area, and so decreases efficiency and accuracy of justice.

If you don't wish to continue that's fine, but reading that other thread, and this one, hasn't led me to believe that rule of law requires rulers (people who make everyone else accept their judgment as final).

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And you want to make the Mafia's protectorate legal!!!

Imagine, the Mafia being legal -- if that image doesn't convince you, nothing will.

Of course you aren't consistent in your vision of your own system. The Mafia doesn't have to change their nature, you have changed the nature of the law to accommodate them. They won't initiate force when you come to arrest their client, they will simply say "we don't accept the validity of your suspicions and in fact we have two judgments acquitting our client of the crime for which he is accused." You are done at this point and the only recourse your client has is to choose not to deal with the Mafia in the future, which of course he hadn't chose to deal with in the first place. The Mafia isn't interfering in the law, they are following it.

"No rulers" (i.e. monopoly enforcers/courts)= "anarchy" then yes. "No rules" = "anarchy", then no. Big big difference.

The rule of law means that there are no rulers, you can always appeal to a higher authority but they will always follow the law. Which person can you point to in the US legal system and call a "Ruler", no one. You can pretend that agencies competing for the business of criminals doesn't equal anarchy, i.e. no rules, but you are kidding yourself -- read further.

I do not want to do so, I think it would be reckless to do so. Too much risk. But I could if I was reckless. And if I mess up, then I'll pay the price, plain and simple.

Well, your innocent victim would pay the price first. You probably wouldn't pay a price since you would go straight to your gang protectorate, tell them what you had done, they would try you and find that you were justified in your actions and then protect you from your victim's gang protectorate.

The courts and police would be more efficient, as they'd compete for business, and so any crazed vigilantes/rogue enforcement agencies (those who misuse force basically) wouldn't last very long at all.

You don't think there are enough thieves, psychopaths, Mafiosi and vigilantes out there to keep their gangs enforcement agencies in business?

If a pacifist wants to let someone go, then why not let him, he's just asking to get hurt again.

I don't give a damn about the pacifist; letting a murderer go free threatens my life.

Highly unlikely, as it would be costly and irrational to do what you suggest here.

Criminals are irrational, nothing new there. The only thing that has changed is that you want them to have a legal protectorate.

(interestingly, the Wild West wasn't so wild, it had very few murder/deaths, you can research it).

This is a good argument for moving to North Korea.

Well the arguments against "anarchism" in my sense (no rulers, just rules) have been answered to my satisfaction, and I've never seen a convincing argument for a monopoly government as opposed to monopoly law (which I think is necessary).

OK, I'll pretend with you for a second -- so we have these competing enforcement agencies, why would they all follow a single law? Who is going to enforce that they do? And what do we call this body? Do you not see how absurd this is?

Without a monopoly government to enforce the law there will be no monopoly law -- look at the world.

The fact is that without a monopoly government enforcing a single law (do not initiate force) then what you have is anarchy in which there are no rules and millions of rulers.

The only way to have justice is for there to be a populace of just, rational people. With them, enforcement will be ensured to be just, as will the courts, by popular opinion, competition for business, and ultimately the power of the people.

The lessons of history have taught us that Democracy or unlimited majority rule is nothing other than the tyranny of the majority -- and Socrates could tell you whether it is just or not. Popular opinion does not justice make.

Government is simply a bunch of people protecting other people according to an agreed upon arrangement;

No. Justice does not require the agreement of criminals.

why not let people compete for those agreements (within the bounds of just law)?

"Compete" and "agreement" are stolen concepts here.

When it comes down to it, the very mechanisms you and others propose will ensure government is just are the mechanisms that will ensure enforcement agencies are just in a system that allows competition in that arena. There is no difference, except one unnecessarily restricts competition in a possible business area, and so decreases efficiency and accuracy of justice.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of trade and government. Examine two scenarios from the standpoint of trade:

- In the first we have what we normally consider free trade, i.e., no force is used. We have a buyer and a seller. The buyer wants to buy a car, let's say, that the seller is selling. They both act in their own self interest and yet they work in concert toward the same goal: the selling of the car. Each is free to walk away at any point but if a trade is made, then it is a win-win situation: the buyer has a car he considers move valuable than the money he exchanged and the seller has money which he considers more valuable than the car.

- Next consider a trade involving force where each participant will act as their own enforcer (as I'm sure you would acknowledge is not only possible but often probable under anarchy). You corner me in an alley, pull a gun and demand my wallet. Are we both working toward the same goal? Is there any possibility of me gaining value? Do I gain anything by negotiating? Am I free to walk away in the same condition I arrived? Do the words "competition", "agreement", and "trade" mean anything in this situation? This is a lose-lose situation. No value is gained.

Trade cannot deal in force, otherwise it is not trade.

The only possible winner in any compromise between good and evil is evil. Force is the only thing which gives evil any power. Force and mind are opposites. Force and trade are opposites and that is why force must be outlawed. And you can't outlaw force by making it legal.

If you don't wish to continue that's fine, but reading that other thread, and this one, hasn't led me to believe that rule of law requires rulers (people who make everyone else accept their judgment as final).

The goal of me continuing in this thread would not be to convince you. I have observed you in many other threads and I don't think you are convincible -- on any subject.

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Of course you aren't consistent in your vision of your own system. The Mafia doesn't have to change their nature, you have changed the nature of the law to accommodate them. They won't initiate force when you come to arrest their client, they will simply say "we don't accept the validity of your suspicions and in fact we have two judgments acquitting our client of the crime for which he is accused." You are done at this point and the only recourse your client has is to choose not to deal with the Mafia in the future, which of course he hadn't chose to deal with in the first place. The Mafia isn't interfering in the law, they are following it.

Alright, let's suppose that they say this. The problem is that both of those judgments will have been ordered by the defendant's side of the case, and so will not meet the requirement that both sides order a hearing in court. So I wouldn't be done. Also, if they did this sort of thing repeatedly that organization (and the people in it) would be declared, by the rest of society (other enforcement agencies, courts, etc.) to be outlaws who flaunt the law, with repercussions of isolation and violence against them. If there be a need to solve this issue, it would be created.

The rule of law means that there are no rulers, you can always appeal to a higher authority but they will always follow the law. Which person can you point to in the US legal system and call a "Ruler", no one.

Take judges at present, for example. Within their role as judges, they are immune from all law (as they are interpreters of law). That is obviously ridiculous, as all people, at all times, must necessarily be subject to law. So if a judge makes a decision which grossly violates the law, they must be punished. The only way we've gotten around this problem at present is to rationalize that judges who make grossly illegal decisions aren't acting as judges, but that isn't a satisfying solution whatsoever. By ruler, though, I was actually discussing a designated and unquestionable decider who uses force to make their views law. So the "government" as a whole is the ruler here, not so much any one individual.

One question that occurs to me, is that if the government is the final decision maker on what is and is not just and must necessarily be so, then how could any revolt against government be justified? After all, that would require someone not in government to declare an action of government unjust and to be justifiably subject to the use of force. But that is the government's exclusive domain. I would like to hear your answer, as I've never really heard much of one (and I think it is the major question that has to be answered).

... and then protect you from your victim's gang protectorate.

And get destroyed because they are a tiny part of the population with few resources and are subject to continual internal betrayal because they are, after all, criminals. I just don't see how they would thrive any better than they do today.

I don't give a damn about the pacifist; letting a murderer go free threatens my life.

Hm, well I have always interpreted the purpose of the justice system as a means to exact justice on criminals. That is, not about deterrence and protection (that would be the job of the police who patrol, etc.) but rather exacting just punishment on the rights-violator. A just punishment is a) restitution and B) retribution. Perhaps you have a different view, but I'm not sure if deterrence is at all related to the concept "justice". It certainly shouldn't be the primary goal of a justice system.

This is a good argument for moving to North Korea.

I don't understand this remark at all. How so? Is your point that the deaths that occurred weren't registered as murder? Perhaps that was the case. You can read the article I was referring to. It is titled "An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild West".

The fact is that without a monopoly government enforcing a single law (do not initiate force) then what you have is anarchy in which there are no rules and millions of rulers.

Well, we had a system of common law in place which functioned well for centuries prior to the rise of state courts. I was thinking along those lines, rather than a specific document (except insofar as the principles of common law would be written down in various documents). If we had a particular document (say the legal code in place before the dissolution of the state) that served as a legal code, it would be enforced by society at large, as we would all expect that it be enforced. Really, that is what we have today, with the law being what we all, collectively, say it is, and we require our courts to use a particular code of law (as ultimately our government must rule by the consent of those governed).

The lessons of history have taught us that Democracy or unlimited majority rule is nothing other than the tyranny of the majority -- and Socrates could tell you whether it is just or not. Popular opinion does not justice make.

Really? Actually, you are referring to populations ruled by non-objective philosophy, with bad principles of justice and ethics. So of course popular opinion does not justice make. My point is that we get the legal codes, in all societies, that match our philosophy. If we're rational and objective, then we'll have good law. If not, then we'll have bad law, and injustice. There has never been a society fully controlled by a rational philosophy, though America at its founding was fairly close, and lo and behold we had the best government around. Then our philosophy started to change, and voila, the law changed with it and got worse. If it had been the other way (with or without government), I'm sure the law would have gotten better.

- Next consider a trade involving force where each participant will act as their own enforcer (as I'm sure you would acknowledge is not only possible but often probable under anarchy). You corner me in an alley, pull a gun and demand my wallet. Are we both working toward the same goal? Is there any possibility of me gaining value? Do I gain anything by negotiating? Am I free to walk away in the same condition I arrived? Do the words "competition", "agreement", and "trade" mean anything in this situation? This is a lose-lose situation. No value is gained.

In this example, you are describing a robbery. One of the participants (the aggressor) is illegitimately using force. Who decides? Everyone else in society. And virtually all of society (provided we have an objective guiding philosophy in this society) would declare the one an aggressor and punish him (and anyone else who tried to stand in the way of said punishment).

Trade cannot deal in force, otherwise it is not trade.

Agreed, but I can trade for the use of someone's services, in this case their arbitration services, or services as protection services, or as detectives, or as jailers, or bounty hunters, etc. And those can be trades. You can't trade force, but you can trade services, among those is the use of force, particularly against aggressors.

The only possible winner in any compromise between good and evil is evil. Force is the only thing which gives evil any power. Force and mind are opposites. Force and trade are opposites and that is why force must be outlawed. And you can't outlaw force by making it legal.

I agree that only evil can win in compromises with evil, and that force is all that gives evil power. Initiation of force and mind are opposites, legitimate retaliation against force is a requirement of the mind to survive (otherwise we could not be justified in ever retaliating, either through government or individually).

The goal of me continuing in this thread would not be to convince you. I have observed you in many other threads and I don't think you are convincible -- on any subject.

I have modified my position on free will and determinism for example (originally was a determinist, now believe that determinist physics and free will are compatible, as they are discussing separate fields- those of particles and fields, and those of ideas and people). At one point I thought the Single Tax was legitimate, now I see it is not. At one point in my life I was a socialist, but reading Friedman, Hayek, and Rand convinced me that was fundamentally incorrect. I am convincible, if someone makes a convincing argument that I cannot meet. The issue is that often they do not. I am assessing my view on the usefulness of "libertarian" as a concept and what use it and other similar terms such as "conservative", or "liberal" might serve and what their basis is in terms of Rand's epistemology (not necessarily saying that I have ruled against it, just assessing the situation), and am also considering my position on reckless endangerment (see the DUI thread). I don't change my positions often because I think through them, and also during a debate, I don't like to abandon my position until it has been exhausted (and so disproven), so while I may not seem to change much at all in the context of a thread, I may end up changing my mind over the longer term. It is rare that a thread goes until I am forced to accept defeat, so I don't admit it often (as it is usually no longer relevant, i.e. that thread is buried way down somewhere).

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Alright, let's suppose that they say this. The problem is that both of those judgments will have been ordered by the defendant's side of the case, and so will not meet the requirement that both sides order a hearing in court. So I wouldn't be done. Also, if they did this sort of thing repeatedly that organization (and the people in it) would be declared, by the rest of society (other enforcement agencies, courts, etc.) to be outlaws who flaunt the law, with repercussions of isolation and violence against them. [emphasis added]

I'm not sure which position you are arguing: that anarchy is the result of your system or it isn't. In the first sentence you imply that it won't happen and in the third sentence you imply that it would. Of course the point is moot since you still haven't told me who will be the maker and enforcer of the monopoly law.

I do agree though with the part I bolded: anarchy is the result.

Take judges at present, for example. Within their role as judges, they are immune from all law (as they are interpreters of law). That is obviously ridiculous, as all people, at all times, must necessarily be subject to law. So if a judge makes a decision which grossly violates the law, they must be punished.

This is absolutely untrue: Judges must and do answer to the law. They are (often) elected. They are answerable to the DA. Their ruling can be appealed by either side for many reasons to many courts. They can be impeached. And if they break the law, they can be prosecuted.

By ruler, though, I was actually discussing a designated and unquestionable decider who uses force to make their views law. So the "government" as a whole is the ruler here, not so much any one individual.

As I have pointed out above, this just isn't true and it is the reason for a system of checks and balances. The rule of law means just that, and the government must follow it also.

One question that occurs to me, is that if the government is the final decision maker on what is and is not just and must necessarily be so, then how could any revolt against government be justified? After all, that would require someone not in government to declare an action of government unjust and to be justifiably subject to the use of force. But that is the government's exclusive domain. I would like to hear your answer, as I've never really heard much of one (and I think it is the major question that has to be answered).

Simple, you make it part of the fundamental law a la: ..."That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." --D of I

And get destroyed because they are a tiny part of the population with few resources and are subject to continual internal betrayal because they are, after all, criminals. I just don't see how they would thrive any better than they do today.

Because you force everyone to deal in force unlike today.

Hm, well I have always interpreted the purpose of the justice system as a means to exact justice on criminals. That is, not about deterrence and protection (that would be the job of the police who patrol, etc.) but rather exacting just punishment on the rights-violator. A just punishment is a) restitution and B) retribution. Perhaps you have a different view, but I'm not sure if deterrence is at all related to the concept "justice". It certainly shouldn't be the primary goal of a justice system.

The purpose of government is to protect my rights; allowing murderers to roam free does not accomplish this purpose, nor does it accomplish your goal of punishment.

I don't understand this remark at all. How so? Is your point that the deaths that occurred weren't registered as murder? Perhaps that was the case. You can read the article I was referring to. It is titled "An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild West".

Your argument was that there weren't many murderers in the Wild West, nor are there many murders in North Korea.

Really, that is what we have today, with the law being what we all, collectively, say it is, and we require our courts to use a particular code of law (as ultimately our government must rule by the consent of those governed).

In an ultimate sense we can change the law by overthrowing the government and I'm sure that would be a possibility in your set-up. Otherwise, we are governed by the law that exists now. The fundamental law changes very little and it isn't what "we all, collectively, say it is". For one thing, felons have no say, though I suppose you would like to change that.

My point is that we get the legal codes, in all societies, that match our philosophy. If we're rational and objective, then we'll have good law. If not, then we'll have bad law, and injustice.

Exactly, and choosing to live under anarchy is irrational as anarchy is uncivilized, non-objective and fundamentally unjust. An anarchistic law is no law at all which is bad.

Trade cannot deal in force, otherwise it is not trade.

Please examine your answer again and tell me that you see the absurdity of it. You agree that force and trade are opposites and then you proceed to set up a situation in which force is traded. This is a fundamental problem. This is the kicking of the can down the street. And this is why I simplified the situation for you by making each of us, the robber and the victim, our own protection agency (you admit that this is permissible in your set-up don't you?). It sounds as though your position amounts to: it is illegal for you and I to assault each other but if we hire gangs to do the fighting, then that's alright. Is this your position?

And why do you say "particularly against aggressors"? Is this an admission that some of this "legal" force would be aimed at non-initiators?

Initiation of force and mind are opposites, legitimate retaliation against force is a requirement of the mind to survive (otherwise we could not be justified in ever retaliating, either through government or individually).

By changing it from "force and mind are opposites" to "initiation of force and mind are opposites" you have missed the point. Yes, defending yourself is a moral imperative, but still, mind and force are opposites. Once you have chosen to use force, whether legitimately or illegitimately, you have abandoned reason as your means of survival in that situation. That is why the use of force must be brought under objective control and not left to the whims of criminals, irrational people or even rational people who can, as we know, be mistaken.

[...] and also during a debate, I don't like to abandon my position until it has been exhausted (and so disproven),

There are other ways to disprove something though. I am going to offer up some advice built upon my observations of your debate style, you may take it or leave it, but it is offered benevolently. You concentrate too much on the concrete and not enough on principle. Now don't get me wrong, the concrete is very important, all knowledge is based in the concrete. But one way to shrink the number of concretes with which you must deal is to group them by integrating your knowledge. By dealing in principles you broaden and deepen your inquiry and involve many more concretes in your examination. To be sure, you must be able to prove and concretize every abstraction and generality that you use but if you can, then you may not find it necessary to "exhaust" every avenue of discussion. I don't think you should consider it a victory just because you are able exhaust your opponent with tedium.

Be that as it may, obviously I have chosen to engage you here and in the past so I must find some value in it. :thumbsup: ... Back to the discussion ...

Freedom means free from force and so in a free society force must not be used. In other words the use of force must be outlawed which means that the fundamental law must state that you are not allowed to use force against other men -- this is what Rights are all about. These are the principles I would like to start with. If you disagree, then we have a long way to go. We must agree on these principles before proceeding to the question of what happens when someone has broken this basic law. If you do agree with these principles then you cannot support the contradiction that the way to outlaw force is to make it legal -- to make the use of force legal amongst men is a contradiction in terms.

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Of course the point is moot since you still haven't told me who will be the maker and enforcer of the monopoly law.

Well, we would obviously, as a starting point, have the law code of a government of the standard Objectivist ideal as a starting point for this new society (violent revolution would only lead to chaos and another oppressive government, and so whittling down what government does until it is a minarchist state without power of taxation is obviously the only way to go). Obviously that would be a great law code and would be agreed upon by almost everyone (as by that point society would have to be heavily influenced by Objectivism and similar philosophies). Then, principles of law would come from a few places: 1) defense agencies/insurance companies would make rules about its clients, and make agreements with other agencies about how to decide cases and the rules for property appropriation, trade, etc. 2) contracts among people will create rules about how they will interpret certain laws, or contain the rules under which the contract is to be interpreted, applied, and enforced, etc. 3) Court decisions using the society's rational philosophy as a background will develop a system of common law, which is what the vast majority of law is now anyway.

Simple, you make it part of the fundamental law a la: ..."That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." --D of I

This is the problem. You say that men have the right to alter or abolish government when it becomes destructive of the ends of protecting individual rights. Then who is to decide when it has become so destructive? If the government is to decide matters of justice, then it must necessarily decide whether an act of rebellion was just too, and obviously that's just a destruction of the whole idea of a right to alter or abolish destructive government. The other option, that it cannot judge the justice of a rebellion, is to leave the government without the power to stop or prevent anyone from leaving and switching governments, or seceding, and thus to eliminate its monopoly. I just don't see how you can have both monopoly government and a right to alter or abolish bad government.

Also, perhaps in my analysis I was being a little vague. People own property, and so would contract with various defense agencies to protect that property, including land. So on any given square inch of land property, there would be some government in charge, and the only thing is that it would have lots of visiting citizens of other governments on its grounds at any given time, and its territory is probably not contiguous. That is, in my mind, the best representation of a system of defense agencies that I can think of, and in that representation, perhaps you could say that each government has a "monopoly" in its territory. I don't know if that would influence how you saw my argument at all.

In an ultimate sense we can change the law by overthrowing the government and I'm sure that would be a possibility in your set-up. Otherwise, we are governed by the law that exists now. The fundamental law changes very little and it isn't what "we all, collectively, say it is". For one thing, felons have no say, though I suppose you would like to change that.

Well, if we have the right to rebel and change the government, than society as a whole (as in, in general, not every single individual member) decides on the law, and the law is whatever the great bulk of society says it is (as they can, always, change it whenever they wish if that great bulk changes its collective minds). That was all I was saying. There is a law against murder because everyone says there is. If no one said there was, there would be no such law (in any meaningful sense).

Please examine your answer again and tell me that you see the absurdity of it. You agree that force and trade are opposites and then you proceed to set up a situation in which force is traded. This is a fundamental problem. This is the kicking of the can down the street. And this is why I simplified the situation for you by making each of us, the robber and the victim, our own protection agency (you admit that this is permissible in your set-up don't you?). It sounds as though your position amounts to: it is illegal for you and I to assault each other but if we hire gangs to do the fighting, then that's alright. Is this your position?

It is illegal for anyone to assault another. But whether an action was "assault" has to be determined, and since we live in a society, it is determined by society at large by the rules it has for such things. That is, it is determined by the vast majority of the other people in society according to the standards that they each individually set. Presently, we all (well, most of us) rely on certain people to decide on such things so long as they follow certain standards (i.e. judges, due process, standards of evidence, etc.). The same would occur without an enforced monopoly organization called government. We'd still have well respected judges or arbitration agencies whose reputations for just rulings would lead to their decisions being respected as final by people in society.

And why do you say "particularly against aggressors"? Is this an admission that some of this "legal" force would be aimed at non-initiators?

Well, it isn't legal, but you can hire someone to kill someone, they're called hitmen. The "particularly" was to designate that it is a legitimate such trade to hire someone to, say, lock a murderer in jail, or some such thing.

By changing it from "force and mind are opposites" to "initiation of force and mind are opposites" you have missed the point. Yes, defending yourself is a moral imperative, but still, mind and force are opposites. Once you have chosen to use force, whether legitimately or illegitimately, you have abandoned reason as your means of survival in that situation. That is why the use of force must be brought under objective control and not left to the whims of criminals, irrational people or even rational people who can, as we know, be mistaken.

See, I don't know if I agree with this or not. Initiation of force is indeed a rejection of reason as your means of survival. But reason dictates that you retaliate against the initiation of force in order to protect yourself and your own life. How is obeying a dictate of reason possibly a rejection of it as your means of survival?

There are other ways to disprove something though. I am going to offer up some advice built upon my observations of your debate style, you may take it or leave it, but it is offered benevolently. You concentrate too much on the concrete and not enough on principle. Now don't get me wrong, the concrete is very important, all knowledge is based in the concrete. But one way to shrink the number of concretes with which you must deal is to group them by integrating your knowledge. By dealing in principles you broaden and deepen your inquiry and involve many more concretes in your examination. To be sure, you must be able to prove and concretize every abstraction and generality that you use but if you can, then you may not find it necessary to "exhaust" every avenue of discussion. I don't think you should consider it a victory just because you are able exhaust your opponent with tedium.

Perhaps I do, though I often find that it is difficult to engage in a discussion on principle without discussing concretes, if only as examples (and inevitibly, people criticize via the example, and back and forth). In order to try to move the discussion more in that vein, I'm going to respond to the conclusion of your post in a separate post. Also, thanks for the advice.

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Freedom means free from force and so in a free society force must not be used. In other words the use of force must be outlawed which means that the fundamental law must state that you are not allowed to use force against other men -- this is what Rights are all about. These are the principles I would like to start with. If you disagree, then we have a long way to go. We must agree on these principles before proceeding to the question of what happens when someone has broken this basic law. If you do agree with these principles then you cannot support the contradiction that the way to outlaw force is to make it legal -- to make the use of force legal amongst men is a contradiction in terms.

If no man can use force against another man, than no man can use force against a murderer trying to kill him. So banning the use of force, period, is not a just way to go. The fundamental law must be "No man may initiate force against another man."

Perhaps you'll say "But a police officer isn't a 'man' in that sense, but the government." I believe that all law must apply to all men all the time, and that government officials cannot be exempt from any law, ever. So if you ban all force, then there can be no police. I don't know if that is objectionable to you or not, but it seems obvious to me. If the fundamental law, from which all others are derived, is no force may be used by men, then there can be no police.

Or, is it perhaps your point that humans who use force are not really "men", and you wish this fundamental law to act more in the manner of a definition, such that any person who uses force is not a man and so one can legitimately use force against them? If that is what you meant, than I can agree with you.

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  • 8 months later...

I do apologize for bringing up an old thread, but it is better to do this than to start a new one.

Consider a society with an O'ist Constitution wherein the use of initiatory force is prohibited by an objective rule of law. Initially, this rule of law is not intrinsically monopolized by any individual or group of individuals. However, this rule of law is agreed upon by each individual living in the society. It follows that since a society consists of solely individuals, it is ultimately up to the individuals to ensure that the rule of law is objectively enforced so that natural rights are guaranteed. Provided that there are no conflicts of interests among rational men, two separate rational individuals can objectively enforce the rule of law without conflicting interests. Given a crime is committed and an individual initiates force, it is the responsibility of an individual (not necessarily the victim) to report that crime and take action to prevent it from occurring again.

An objective rule of law applies to all individuals at all times. It is reasonable to suggest that all men are equally limited under an objective law, lest it is not objective, but rather subject to the whims of subjective influence. This likewise suggests that we are each individually responsible for its enforcement as it concerns the individual, since no one individual is allocated more authority by law than another. This fact indicates that each individual is responsible for sustaining his own life and ensuring that justice is served by his own available resources; he is ultimately his own arbiter of justice, his own protector of his own life. It is unreasonable to suggest that somebody else is obligated to act by law or otherwise to preserve my life.

In some cases, however, an individual cannot fend for himself through his own defensive/retaliatory force. A victim can not rationally expect any aid to come running to the rescue unless they are first called. In an instance where an individual's personal retaliatory force is not enough to overcome the initiatory force by the aggressor, the individual can call for assistance (if given the opportunity). The objective of this call is to provide more force to counteract the aggressor. With that being said, that call can be to any other entity -- be it a bystander, family member, or police force. This fact alone shows that a centralized and monopolized institution of force is not necessarily needed. However, this is very simplistic and a fault occurs wherein nobody chooses to reply to that call. Thus police institution(s) NEED to be established because they are OBLIGATED, by law, to deal with reports of crime and follow the objective law. An ordinary individual is only OBLIGATED to follow the objective law. There is nothing wrong with having more than one police force, and to say otherwise is to effectively regulate an individual's options in emergency situations. There cannot be a justified objective law which states: "Only one police force is permitted".

After the immediate situation has flat-lined, the individual has the right to ensure that all personal damages are remedied (at the expense of the aggressor, to the greatest extent possible) and the aggressor is punished further (depending on the severity of the crime). To do so requires an objective third party, as it is reasonable to conclude that the victim will not willingly accept the aggressors suggestions and the aggressor will not willingly acquiesce the demands of the victim by contract alone. Thus a court system must be established. Following the same logic as with the police force, courts are OBLIGATED to handle these disputes and it is not reasonable to assert that only one court system is permitted by law.

In handling both of these scenarios, it appears as if two or more identical courts (in quality only) and two or more identical police institutions can exist simultaneously. They are limited only by the rule of law. Due to factors such as location, it may be preferable to call one police force over another for reasons such as to time response, which is crucial in sustaining life when threatened. It may be beneficial to have several competing police forces, or a single police force with several locations. This is because quality of service can be limited by environment. The interesting factor is the competing court systems, wherein quality of service cannot be modified. Here competition can only be conducted through price of court fees and subjective likability of the court setting. With regard to fees, these cannot be attributed through taxation, and so voluntary donations and contracts will provide the costs. Thus popularity/reputation of courts becomes important, while terms of payment for fees can be attributed differently (short term, long term, interest rates, etc). This is the only possibility of competition.

It may turn out in the end that one court or one police force does achieve a monopoly, just as one business may achieve a monopoly through their efforts. And so the other competitors may go out of business, but it is not rational to immediately limit the enforcement of an objective rule of law to a monopolized institution. The most important concept in this is that governments, courts, and the police are no different -- in essence -- than a group of individuals.

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