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Is tyranny intrinsic to governments?

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From "Collectivized Rights"

I need to you to elaborate on why you posted this quote in relation to my post.

I know we aren't establishing a free system in Iraq. If we wanted to establish a free system we wouldn't be letthe make their own consitution.

So it sounds like you are saying that we are indeed looting them. I still think that the priamary relationship is between the tax payers in america and the people who get that money.

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To me it is curious to see how some of you embrace the idea of a State reduced to its proper functions (police, tribunals, defense) but resist the idea of a State reduced to a small number of people that guarantees (or at least facilitates) free and straightfarward competition for loyalties and nationhood.

I would like to add a call to prudence when reading Ayn Rand's view of the USA and its position in world history and world affairs.

Rand's world was a one of clearcut bipolarity. She lived in a world where the nazis, and then the Soviet Union, incarnated large, nation-States that were clearly antagonic to freedom and which had real chances to take over the world and impose their rule. In such a world, holding fast to the USA as a refuge and backing his government in almost all its international affairs was a matter of life or death.

The advantages of political union over disunion are many and varied and go far beyond Cold War politics. They predate Ayn Rand by almost two centuries. The arguments can be found enumerated, elaborated and defended in The Federalist.

I don't find it at all curious that non-Americans are unfamiliar with this series. Most Americans are unfamiliar with it.

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collectively speaking

Heresy! You said the "C" word! The stake for you! :lol:

So what if one doesn't live in a country that "has a legitimate, rights respecting govrnment"?

Then one goes to one that does.

What if one lives in a country that has a government that arrests citizens and throw them into jail for prescribing pain-killers to a dying man, like say, the United States of America?

What are you on about here?

So Loyalty to one's country should be a given and countries competing for credibility is a retarded idea?

Loyalty to one's country of birth is not a vice. Especially when one is born in a country that has the greatest opportunity for individual liberty in the world. If a person wants to move elsewhere, more power to them. Don't let the doorknob hit you in the crack on the way out.

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A man does not necessarily constitute a liar. Yet all men lie sooner or later, and keep lying more or less often for the rest of their lives in some respect or at some level. That's why we take provisions against fraud.

A national government will not necessarily violate property rights. Yet all governments do. All governments have done it. I have no reason to believe that this will change, as I have no reason to believe that men will someday stop lieing. That's why we take provisions against power-hungry governments.

One of the provisions that volco, me and many others propose,is to keep States small... Also in geographical/demographic sense.

We have here in the United States a document, called the Constitution, which is a limitation on the powers of the federal government. We have three co-equal branches of government, which act as a check on each others powers. The ultimate check on tyranny lies with the people, whose duty (yes, I said it!) is to be ever vigilant as to the preservation of their Liberty.

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The advantages of political union or disunion should be examined according to the changing reality of world affairs, as well as the grounds and purposes of why such union or disunion is being advocated.

For example, an extraordinary novelty of civilization these days is the rise of cities, specifically megacities.

Mankind was rural for most of its history. A critical mass of specialized producers, traders and teachers could not be found in smaller territories. Size conferred advantages. For example, more land to raise crops or cattle. And, very importantly, more tax payers, as population density was so low.

Cities nowadays comprise universes in themselves. More than 90% of all exchange of information and goods happens within the tiny areas of cities. Armies do not need large number of soldiers as much as high technology, which is created at the cities. All innovation comes from cities, and all risks (included terrorist attacks or natural disasters) are feared inasmuch as cities are involved. It should be no surprise that presidents or presidential candidates in most countries were first majors of their largest cities.

Nowadays, Houstonians cannot decide whether they should send or not their young citizens to fight in Irak. In the future, as I see it, they will be able to do so. But this entails a big cultural change which, by the way, is underway, but need to be put in perspective by Objectivists all over the world: the consideration of patriotism as a byproduct and not a driver of civic action.

Let me use a Gospel story here (gosh! An atheist resorting to a Bible tale!). Jesus was preaching in a house and he was told to stop and take care of his mother and brothers who were outside awaiting. He answered: "My mother and brothers? I'm gonna tell ya who my mother and brothers are. All of those who follow my doctrine are indeed my mother and my brothers."

One day, when the last government at Washington asks you to assist your fellow American countymen, you will reply: "My American countrymen? I'm gonna tell ya who my American countrymen are: those who live rational lives, wherever they happen to live."

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We have here in the United States a document, called the Constitution, which is a limitation on the powers of the federal government. .

No, it is not.

If it were, individualists living in San Francisco would not be so concerned about Obama's health care reform, as it would be a problem for The citizens of, say, Chicago. Nowadays, if Obama has a spooky plan in mind, you get the creeps, whether you live in Honolulu or Anchorage.

Do not misunderstand me.

I believe the USA has the best federal system on earth.

But I also believe it is just not good enough. What worked well for 13 young, unexperienced, vulnerable, rural ex-colonies will not necesssarily work well for a constellation of wealthy, sophisticated, investment-hungry cities with a diversity of appetites.

I agree with you that the ultimate check for governments to avoid tyranny is people. But how? How people achieve that?

Let's examine some methods

1) Revolution. Mmmm.... It has not worked. It is bloody and expensive. it is to be used as a last resort, when a full-fledged dictatorship is already at the corner, or already established.

2) Voting in the ballots. Mmmmm... It has worked for short period of time, but made no difference in the long term. Democratic elections brought Hitler to power.

3) Nationwide cultural change. It will take many decades. It had a chance with the Founding Fathers and the impetum did not last mlre than a century, and was never totally embraced. It had a chance with Ayn Rand, but her followers spent more time building a cult around her than helping her, despite herself, in reaching the average man and building alliances with libertarians, rothbardians and individualists outside the USA. Ayn was not fortunate enough or wise enough to find an intellectual companion of her stature, who could stare at her and criticize her bluntly and without remorse. Who knows, maybe she lost her chance to Murray Rothbard. It is my belief that a more tactful Rand and a less touchy Rothbard could have represented a tremendous intellectual force to accelerate change.

4) Local cultural change + Migration. That is the method I propose. Evolve to city-States, win some of them over for laissez-faire capitalism, and let them overperform semi-free neighbouring cities.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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The United States military is an all volunteer force, so your analogy is invalid.

Thanks for the correcting my mistake.

My analogy is invalid.

The essence of my message is not...at least, it has not been invalidated.

Remember, I am not making a proposal for the USA, but for the world.

How a large nation-State evolves into City-States will be different in China than in the USA, but the principle is the same: the size of a State, in geographical terms, should be the size that allows its average citizens to move quickly in and out and change loyalties as befits their self-interest.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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I have heard this argument before, that the principle of individual rights that The US was founded on and the constitution itself are quaint, old ideas that were more suited for the era of powdered wigs and snuff boxes. Usually, it is a progressive who utters such nonsense, shortly before they declare that the constitution is a "living, breathing document (translation: it means what we say it means)."

On the contrary, the principles outlined in the founding documents are as valid now as they were then. Fundamental principles do not become invalid over time.

Only fundamental principles, rationally validated, clearly understood and voluntarily accepted, can create a desirable kind of unity among men.

“Credibility and Polarization,” The Ayn Rand Letter, I, 1, 4.

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The ultimate check on tyranny lies with the people, whose duty (yes, I said it!) is to be ever vigilant as to the preservation of their Liberty.

The few excerpts from her essay "Causality Versus Duty" (Philosophy: Who Needs It, 95.; originally published in the "The Objectivist," July, 1970) which are available in the Lexicon entry on "Duty" should be sufficient in showing why Miss Rand held that, "One of the most destructive anti-concepts in the history of moral philosophy is the term "duty."

This is a forum for Objectivism; I think it's important to point this out.

I am curious, why do you use the term with emphasis ("yes, I said it!)?

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I am saying that they benefit from war, that they suppourt war. War makes them money, so a long protracted war will make them more money. This isn't hard to understand.

I just told you that I don't know if they have the power to cause a war. I do think that many of those people will do what is in their power though to maintian and benefit from situations like Iraq.

What you said was that these companies motivate the US to go to war. That is a long way from saying that they profit from it.

Do they profit from war? Of course they do. Do they have any say in the process that leads to war? No. Can they once there is a war do anything to actively prolong the war? No. If you have proof otherwise I'd like to see it. As a matter of fact the development of new weapons often shortens wars.

War is a horrible thing, necessary at times but horrible none the less. Does that mean that every company or person that ensures that our troops can fight our nations enemies as effectively as possible while making a profit is part of some super-national evil cabal of warmongering money grubbing sociopaths? Please... It sounds like you are crossing into the line of thought that claims profit on some things is just wrong.

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The few excerpts from her essay "Causality Versus Duty" (Philosophy: Who Needs It, 95.; originally published in the "The Objectivist," July, 1970) which are available in the Lexicon entry on "Duty" should be sufficient in showing why Miss Rand held that, "One of the most destructive anti-concepts in the history of moral philosophy is the term "duty."

This is a forum for Objectivism; I think it's important to point this out.

I am curious, why do you use the term with emphasis ("yes, I said it!)?

I happen to disagree with Rand on this. Coming from a military background, I find the concepts of duty and honor to be noble virtues, for which I make no apology. Hence the emphasis on "yes, I said it." That was for the fundamentalist O'ists out there, of whom there are many.

I think for myself - which is what this entire exercise is about.

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What you said was that these companies motivate the US to go to war. That is a long way from saying that they profit from it.

Do they profit from war? Of course they do. Do they have any say in the process that leads to war? No. Can they once there is a war do anything to actively prolong the war? No. If you have proof otherwise I'd like to see it. As a matter of fact the development of new weapons often shortens wars.

War is a horrible thing, necessary at times but horrible none the less. Does that mean that every company or person that ensures that our troops can fight our nations enemies as effectively as possible while making a profit is part of some super-national evil cabal of warmongering money grubbing sociopaths? Please... It sounds like you are crossing into the line of thought that claims profit on some things is just wrong.

Firstly, you are just re-wording the straw man that you are applying to me. This is the third time that I have explained that I don't know if the military-industrial complex is a causal agent. Your straw man is extremely irritating. I never said that the profit motive was evil in any case , nor did I say anything about sociopaths. In fact I think the blame falls more squarely on the majority of people's ethical systems. You are just reading stuff into my posts.

Secondly, They do have a say in the process that leads to war and they do have a say in whether or not a war continues. Anyone with enough money to make giant campaign contributions or who has factories in a politicians district has the ability to inflence votes. The military industrial complex is not at all special in this. You can find the ability of big business to influence the democratic process in any industry.

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I happen to disagree with Rand on this. Coming from a military background, I find the concepts of duty and honor to be noble virtues, for which I make no apology. Hence the emphasis on "yes, I said it." That was for the fundamentalist O'ists out there, of whom there are many.

I think for myself - which is what this entire exercise is about.

Slave.

You thought wrong.

Edited by Hairnet
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I'm quite familiar with it, as well as the Anti-Federalist Papers. Which is why I feel strongly, as did Rand herself, that the United States and it's republican system of governance is the best out there.

As Rand felt herself in the 1960s! She never witnessed a post bipolar world. In a World where Red Paint smelling of blood was spreading from Havanna to Budapest to Hanoi, I too would feel more comfortable with a strong -albeit limited- government able to out-strength militarily the rest of the world, and intellectually the hippies at home.

Fortunately, not perfectly, Ayn Rand's worldview won. The Soviet Union is no more, Budapest is a porn capital, and Vietnam publicizes its awesome beaches to American investors (through proxies and a lot of corruption, but still). Not to even speak about China.

Latin America IS experimenting a Socialist backlash, but at the same time it's the most urbanized area in the World, and "balkanized" enough to have small business friendly countries like Belize or Uruguay that attract, rather than expel, Firstworlders.

What are you on about here?

Loyalty to one's country of birth is not a vice. Especially when one is born in a country that has the greatest opportunity for individual liberty in the world. If a person wants to move elsewhere, more power to them. Don't let the doorknob hit you in the crack on the way out.

I'll let the doorknob hit me in the way in should I decide to move to probably one of the best countries in the World. America deserves respect, not only for the momentum of its past philosophical foundations, but for the continuing explosion of creativity and individuality it displays. Nonetheless, the American Government is in no way a Government that protects individual rights throughout life and its many eventuallities you might not have had to experience yet.

But a sick man can't get his pain relief, dignity, golden years because of the Government trampling his rights. A scientist or an investor can't bet in his own work without the SEC punishing him for his invention or project. A farmer can't grow some specific plants and a land owner can't build what he wants in his property, or hire labor freely.

The United States military is an all volunteer force, so your analogy is invalid.

It wasn't just 40 years ago.

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From another thread, I've concluded that tyranny is intrinsic to anarchy.

In a state of anarchy, there is no common and objective standard established to provide definitions of objective concepts of law for men to use in their interactions. Because men exist at different levels of knowledge, they cannot act rationally within a society of men without such standards. Not being able to act rationally, they have no liberty, only muscles. What is best in life?

Governments are tyrannical only inasmuch as they fail to identify man's nature as a rational being. Or, inasmuch as they represent a partial step up from a state of anarchy. Governments give men liberty when they treat them as rational creatures, tyranny when they fail to. More tyranny leads to more anarchy. Look at the fall of Rome, or the history of Collectivism and post-Soviet Russia (etc.)

If you want anarchy because it's so great, then vote for tyranny so that it can treat men as irrational creatures and slowly spend and spoil the gains of civilization. Eventually, the tyrants will no longer have the means to power. Centralization of power is a product of reason. That tyrants have access to these means is a short-term occurance and you will notice that it trends towards anarchy.

So, anarchy vs. tyranny vs. liberty vs. progress is not the issue. The issue is whether men identify their rational natures or not. Whether they decide to depend on reason for survival or not. If so, the trend is TOWARDS liberty, if not, it is AWAY from libert.

If so, it is TOWARDS government, if not it is TOWARDS chaos. Tyrants appear to be 'governmental' because they hijack civilization's effort to organize itself and centralize law to promote liberty, and use that centralization to exploit short-term resources produced because of liberty.

So again, it's not about government vs. not government. That is the EFFECT. The cause is something else.

So tyranny is not intrinsic to governments.

It only seems that way because the more developed a civilization, the greater the temporary power of the tyrant.

[EDIT - tyrants who cause anarchy and regression sometimes realize their mistake and liberalize. Likewise, 'great kings' more often then not are known for legal institutions they found rather than those they pull back This is seen historically. While these examples produce no black&white cases of free vs tyrannical government, they do show the correlation between progress and the rule of law. Tyranny by definition is the subversion of the rule of law into whims]

Edited by ZSorenson
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I suggeset looking at the societies that Anarcho Capitalists claim as theirs instead of going on about rome.

I agree partially with your criticism (the lack of objective law is bad), however no Anarcho-Capitalist will take that argument seriously if you go on about societies they do not consider to be Anarchistic in any way.

Anarcho Capitalists believe in polcycentric law. Societies that they claim have polycentric law include anacient Iceland, and ancient Ireland.

Ancient Ireland sounds like an "Anarcho-Theocracy" where the legal caste was a priest caste also. People had networks of voluntarily chosen judge/priests who would decide cases brought to them. Pretty complicated stuff from what I have been told by AnCaps.

Ancient Iceland had a set ammount of chieftans who a land owner could choose from to resolve disputes with.

As I understand it though, these societies had all sorts of crazy stuff going on, like slavery, sexism, and racism. None of these societies could be said to be capitalist however, they weren't industrialized, and there was slavery. The real question is if polycentric law could create and protect a capitalist economy.

Anyways, here is an Anarcho-Capitalist brining up examples of polycentric law. Either attack their interperetation of history or the desirability of those systems.

http://osf1.gmu.edu/~ihs/w91issues.html

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Thanks for some fresh viewpoints. I semi agreed with most you said and ejoyed reading all of it. Whatevr I deleted from your quoted post means I either agree or is covered by some other statement.

From another thread, I've concluded that tyranny is intrinsic to anarchy.

And in another thread I concluded that Anarchy doesn't exist; it's just the state of the basest most disorganized leadership(s?). The closest examples to a "state of anarchy" would be historical peculiarities, even metaphysical absurdities. Like a riot, or that area in between enemy lines, or a recently liberated concentration camp, or "the Day after the Revolution".

Not even Somalia, the poster child for Anarchy, is as anarchic as a Brazilian Shantytown or just about any conflict spot in Central Africa. Remember Somalia is part of the more cultured Horn of Africa. I guess my insistence on this is: How can we call the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC (!) of Congo a centralized state, thus worthy of civilization, but not Somalia, a collection of tribes with cellphones who wouldn't even consider doing or witnessing the things that happen in other more "Democratic" and "Republican" African territories.

Governments are tyrannical only inasmuch as they fail to identify man's nature as a rational being. Or, inasmuch as they represent a partial step up from a state of anarchy.

They do.

If anarchy is disorganized rule of force then X-archy is just rule of force when X represents systems of diverse levels and forms of organization of force. What we are searching for is a Y-archy, where Y represents The American form of Government with the provision "with the unaninous consent of the governed", meaning a literal Contractual Society. I argue that could only - or more easily - happen when citizens can change citizenship as easily as they now can change, jobs, cities, suburbs, and insurance agencies.

Naturally, I consider a previous (or present) period of organized evil as an intermediary step in between animal behavior and rational (free-will enabling, and enabled) behavior.

Governments give men liberty when they treat them as rational creatures, tyranny when they fail to. More tyranny leads to more anarchy. Look at the fall of Rome, or the history of Collectivism and post-Soviet Russia (etc.)

Governments (who is this creature?) dont treat men one way or another. Men integrating those institutions treat men subjected to it - without their unanimous consent - one way or another. The question here is how should those Institutions of government (or should we begin to call it of Representation?) are constituted. The criteria needs to be updated.

And let's not trivialize and simplify history - it's rude. The Fall of Rome happened because there was earlier a Rise of Rome, born, like all Civs, out of small scale tyranny. Furthermore, the Fall of Rome, a period of civil war and invasion, and plutocracy arising from the ruins, allowed for the creation of a myriad of city states in Italy, each surpassing in creative virtue the whole of Rome. Just think how banking, electricity, full fledged international commerce, and perspective (3D Renders) were all created in just half the territory and about the population of the entire Italian Province of the Empire.

If tyranny leads to anarchy then in the case of Rome it lead to opposite results in different times.

Tyrants appear to be 'governmental' because they hijack civilization's effort to organize itself and centralize law to promote liberty, and use that centralization to exploit short-term resources produced because of liberty.

So again, it's not about government vs. not government. That is the EFFECT. The cause is something else.

So tyranny is not intrinsic to governments.

It only seems that way because the more developed a civilization, the greater the temporary power of the tyrant.

[EDIT - tyrants who cause anarchy and regression sometimes realize their mistake and liberalize. Likewise, 'great kings' more often then not are known for legal institutions they found rather than those they pull back This is seen historically. While these examples produce no black&white cases of free vs tyrannical government, they do show the correlation between progress and the rule of law. Tyranny by definition is the subversion of the rule of law into whims]

Or you could have said that if you kill the cow, you'll feat one day, but if you milk it you'll have food for a long time.

Maybe Tyranny is not intrinsic to Government. I don't think it is. But certainly not because of your argument for Order.

What your are saying is that freedom is a by-product of wise tyrants, those who view the rational nature in their subjects - and maybe even themselves.

Government can be non-tyrannical, it is not intrinsic to it. Now, How?

1) What conditions must it have to be consensual instead of tyrannical, and

2) How can non tyrannical governments be fomented or instituted?

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I suggeset looking at the societies that Anarcho Capitalists claim as theirs instead of going on about rome.

I agree partially with your criticism (the lack of objective law is bad), however no Anarcho-Capitalist will take that argument seriously if you go on about societies they do not consider to be Anarchistic in any way.

Anarcho Capitalists believe in polcycentric law. Societies that they claim have polycentric law include anacient Iceland, and ancient Ireland......

Heavens! What does it take to debunk actual "Anarcho Capitalist". If you take a ticket to Addis Abeba and then somehow cross over to Somalia and tour the different centers of law you'll have a first hand study of Ancient Ireland's polycentric law - minus the cellphones.

Then you could have study of ancient iceland if you booked your ticket to Port Moresby.

No, really. What they claim is what Native-American-apologizing leftards claim: That everything was harmonious and distributed before civilization.

Now I AM advocating distribution. What I see is a sequence, think of a liquid being saturated, and then resaturated and the steps in between and how it looks.

A) Man spreads to the limits of the Earth - but does not realize it.

B ) Man lives very spread away, like Native Americans in the 1400s, Icelandics in the 1200s, Goths in the 600s, Etruscans and Latins in the 900 BC, Egyptians 4000 BC, and the whole world before that.

C) Civilization (cities, concentration of people, centralization of power)is taking about 4000 years to spread from 4 Asian Basins and an African one to the whole world. The Pentagon calls it "Closing the Gap" and I'm all for it because it leads to

D) Civilization (in the traditional sense) finally spreads all over the world. New -simple or expectable- inventions comparable to DDT and Air Conditioning in the XXc render the whole emerged landmass desirable, and Civilized people, Specialists, spread all over.

In this context it is true that some broad, far fetched paralells could be traced between a distributed society of the present-future and our remote past - just as a the de facto return to nomadism we could recognize now. (compare how many square miles you've gazed compared to your ancestors).

Just as using jets and cars all the time, some even trailers (!) hasn't turned us into nomad sheep herders; using disributed, smaller legal jurisdictions wont turn us into raving savages - but could allow us to take control of our own sovereignty - effectively eliminating much of the need to govern.

Edited by volco
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Heavens! What does it take to debunk actual "Anarcho Capitalist". If you take a ticket to Addis Abeba and then somehow cross over to Somalia and tour the different centers of law you'll have a first hand study of Ancient Ireland's polycentric law - minus the cellphones.

Then you could have study of ancient iceland if you booked your ticket to Port Moresby.

No, really. What they claim is what Native-American-apologizing leftards claim: That everything was harmonious and distributed before civilization.

Now I AM advocating distribution. What I see is a sequence, think of a liquid being saturated, and then resaturated and the steps in between and how it looks.

A) Man spreads to the limits of the Earth - but does not realize it.

B ) Man lives very spread away, like Native Americans in the 1400s, Icelandics in the 1200s, Goths in the 600s, Etruscans and Latins in the 900 BC, Egyptians 4000 BC, and the whole world before that.

C) Civilization (cities, concentration of people, centralization of power)is taking about 4000 years to spread from 4 Asian Basins and an African one to the whole world. The Pentagon calls it "Closing the Gap" and I'm all for it because it leads to

D) Civilization (in the traditional sense) finally spreads all over the world. New -simple or expectable- inventions comparable to DDT and Air Conditioning in the XXc render the whole emerged landmass desirable, and Civilized people, Specialists, spread all over.

In this context it is true that some broad, far fetched paralells could be traced between a distributed society of the present-future and our remote past - just as a the de facto return to nomadism we could recognize now. (compare how many square miles you've gazed compared to your ancestors).

Just as using jets and cars all the time, some even trailers (!) hasn't turned us into nomad sheep herders; using disributed, smaller legal jurisdictions wont turn us into raving savages - but could allow us to take control of our own sovereignty - effectively eliminating much of the need to govern.

I don't know much about Somalia, I am guess you are saying that Somalia has polycentric law, and polycentric law isn't all that great there, so polycentric law is bad, case closed?

I do understand that you aren't advocating Anarchism.

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Hairnet, maybe the tone confused you. I was not debating you, I was delighted that you reminded me of why I do dislike Anarcho Capitalism with those examples about Medieval Backwaterland. It is the same reggression to the Eden that Jews, Christians, Indigenists (like the Nationalists), and Communists advocate.

I also took the opportunity to note how many of the things I'm advocating could be missinterpreted as Anarko. I hope the example of cars not representing a reggression to nomadism should suffy.

And Somalia does not have Polycentric Law, it has Customary Law with some polycentric aspects where human beings not territory is governed, as he/she belongs to an extended family, which in turn belongs and forms alliances of various rigidity with other clubs of families. Each clan has their own particular laws, so I've read, that no other clans can interfere with without going to war (excellent example is when the Islamic Courts tried to do just that); but the general rule of the land, if there's one is Customary and is tied more to the people than to the soil. It's ultra ius sanguinis and not ius soli at all as foreigners have no rights.

Don't worry as in 6 weeks I'll be obsessed about some other country and wont bring up Somalia in every post again.

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