Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Are taxes justified to fight fascist foreign invasion?

Rate this topic


Mnrchst
 Share

Recommended Posts

Peikoff has said no, but I'm not convinced of his argument. I'm definitely undecided on this though.

One way of looking at this is "Two wrongs don't make a right" or "If you commit aggression to oppose aggression, you're just doing the thing you're opposed to."

However, if an O-ist society temporarily has taxes just to fight off a fascist foreign invasion and then gets rid of it as soon as the threat is gone, then we can go back to a tax-free society, which isn't an option if the fascists win. You could argue that those who aren't willing to contribute to fight off the fascists have basically given up their rights (like a murderer or someone who attempts to institute anarchy by force), and it's obviously preferable for us to live in a tax-free society than a fascist one.

I'm not sure how to reconcile my support of NAP with either these positions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peikoff has said no, but I'm not convinced of his argument. I'm definitely undecided on this though.

What advantage would the taxes supposedly provide? I suppose one is to guarantee that there is short term funding, but who is deciding whether or not the threat *really is* a threat? My thoughts are that the best option is to let individuals decide if the threat truly is worth responding to, rather than have someone else decide for them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think you necessarily need taxes for short term funding. An alternative is to issue bonds and repay them later. That's basically how we fund half the government these days, so it should certainly not be overlooked. Whether it's a good thing is another matter entirely :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

but who is deciding whether or not the threat *really is* a threat?

It is an *invasion*. The matter is objective, and the (theoretically Objectivist?) government was created explicitly to handle such cases. It is not up to individuals to decide what the threat is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is an *invasion*.

Ah, I was reading it as potential threat, not that an invasion was immanent (or actually happening). In that context, I'm not entirely sure on the matter, since it sounds awfully like an emergency scenario, which would make the usual reasons that taxation is wrong no longer applicable.

Edited by Eiuol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

it sounds awfully like an emergency scenario, which would make the usual reasons that taxation is wrong no longer applicable.

Yeah, I think you're right. The people doing the taxing didn't want/cause the foreign invasion, so they're forced to choose between two bad situations, so they gotta go with what's better.

I think we can reconcile this with NAP thusly: If we can't eliminate aggression, we must minimize it.

Rothbard's take on lifeboat situations might be illuminating here: http://mises.org/daily/1628

Edited by Mnrchst
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think we can reconcile this with NAP thusly: If we can't eliminate aggression, we must minimize it.

I'm saying it's literally okay to initiate force, in the context of an emergency situation where normal situations of existence (from which moral principles are developed) do not apply. If the US were being invaded by Canada/fascist regimes/aliens/robots, with guns and all that, anyone not immediately giving money then and there is truly a problem to your existence. The goal in such an emergency is to remove those invaders so you can return to a normal state of existence. That may sound similar to someone justifying government medical programs ("People need health care to live!"), but the difference here is someone is out to kill you or make life an impossible situation like in Stalinist Russia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm saying it's literally okay to initiate force, in the context of an emergency situation

Then you're not initiating force--it's already been initiated. I think this is similar to if the cops are pretty sure there's a criminal hiding in your home, and you aren't aware of this, and they go into your house without your permission.

If the US were being invaded by Canada/fascist regimes/aliens/robots, with guns and all that, anyone not immediately giving money then and there is truly a problem to your existence.

I disagree--they aren't a part of the invasion force, so I don't see how they're "a problem to your existence." You could just as easily say that someone who saves their wealth in their basement is a problem for the existence of a cancer patient simply because they're not using their wealth to help them. However, I think you're still justified in taking wealth from people in the robots scenario because there's a good chance they wont have their wealth/freedom soon anyway.

Edited by Mnrchst
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then you're not initiating force--it's already been initiated. I think this is similar to if the cops are pretty sure there's a criminal hiding in your home, and you aren't aware of this, and they go into your house without your permission.

Taxation involves force against those who have not initiated it. You would be right about responding with force to the invaders, but that says nothing about whether it's okay to use taxation.

I disagree--they aren't a part of the invasion force, so I don't see how they're "a problem to your existence."

You misunderstand. I'm just giving examples of different kinds of invading forces. I find it interesting you used an example that I pre-emptively responded to.

Edited by Eiuol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is so little context provided in this, that reaching a conclusion is not really possible, I think.

The question might be more fruitful if we can generalize a bit more. Is it ever legitimate to initiate force onto a completely neutral bystander in order to stop an aggressor? Think about it this way: can we tax Canada if a fascist Mexico wants to invade us? What if Mexico had no designs for Canada, and simply wanted to take back land that it lost in previous wars, and thus Canada stayed neutral? Can we then impose taxation on Canada, or a completely random other country, say, Switzerland or Lichtenstein, in effect, forcing them to aid in our protection? I don't think so. No one owes you protection. No one owes you defense of your life or property. I don't think you can legitimately force someone to defend you who doesn't want to, for the same reasons the draft is illegitimate, so should taxing to fight a fascist invader be, on those grounds.

But I think the door might still be open for a tax, depending on the context. Is it ever legitimate to initiate force in any possible situation? I think so, but it doesn't mean that you don't have to repay the victim, or that you didn't violate his rights. For example, the old "what if I'm starving and steal a piece of bread?" question. Yes, I think it's legitimate to steal the piece of bread, but that doesn't mean you don't have to repay the victim, or that his rights went away.

In the same sense, what exactly is the context here? Perhaps there are other grounds.. Are we just in such a state that not enough people want to pay to fight off the fascist invaders? In that case, can't we simply tell the invaders that there are certain regions of the country that haven't payed enough, and so if they want to invade these regions, they can go right ahead, and we won't protect them unless we get more donors from those regions? Or might it be the case that the reason why people aren't paying is because they actually support the fascist invaders, in which case can these non-donors be considered conspirators to the aggression? Perhaps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taxation involves force against those who have not initiated it.

But that doesn't mean that you're initiating it against--it's already been initiated against them by the foreign invasion (not tangibly, but they're on their way). If you don't tax them (in this scenario), their property/rights will be completely taken, so they're no worse off if you tax them. Someone could argue that they're worse off until the invasion comes to them, but people have to think long-range. It's like saying that sawing off someone's limb is evil if it's necessary to save their life.

You misunderstand. I'm just giving examples of different kinds of invading forces.

I understood you perfectly: I'm saying they aren't invading you. Just because someone doesn't help solve a problem doesn't mean they're a "part of the problem"--they simply aren't making the problem better or worse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

can't we simply tell the invaders that there are certain regions of the country that haven't payed enough, and so if they want to invade these regions, they can go right ahead, and we won't protect them unless we get more donors from those regions?

We could, but then they're taking more territory (power) to use against us.

Or might it be the case that the reason why people aren't paying is because they actually support the fascist invaders, in which case can these non-donors be considered conspirators to the aggression? Perhaps.

Sure.

To be specific: A fascist foreign nation is invading our O-ist nation and we have every reason to believe they will take over our entire nation (and more) if they have the opportunity, and we are pretty certain they will win unless we tax people in our nation. Therefore, we have to tax people in order to preserve our capitalist tax-free way of life.

No one owes you protection. No one owes you defense of your life or property. I don't think you can legitimately force someone to defend you who doesn't want to, for the same reasons the draft is illegitimate, so should taxing to fight a fascist invader be, on those grounds.

No one inherently owes you anything, except to not initiate force against you, sure. However, in this context, people do owe you their property and we should take it from them by force because it's the only life-affirming thing to do.

As far as the draft goes, I'd say it's pointless, and possibly counterproductive, to draft people into the military because you can't force them to want to fight (they might just try to kill the other soldiers on "their side").

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To be specific: A fascist foreign nation is invading our O-ist nation and we have every reason to believe they will take over our entire nation (and more) if they have the opportunity, and we are pretty certain they will win unless we tax people in our nation. Therefore, we have to tax people in order to preserve our capitalist tax-free way of life.

I don't think this is going to prove to be a useful exercise. You're assuming the answer in the question without leaving another way out...What if I need food to live, but to buy food I need money and don't have any and there is no way to get some...should I steal it then? Obviously yes. Of course, nothing is learned from answering that sort of question because it is highly, highly unusual that that would truly be the case.

Reality, especially at the level of international diplomacy and war is far too complex to encapsulate in a thought experiment like that. If I were commander in chief of a small freedom based country being invaded by fascists, and lacked a large enough budget to fight a conventional war, then I'd nuke all of their population centers. If I had an even smaller budget, I'd use terrorist tactics repeatedly inside their own country. If, in a whole nation of freedom loving people who knew that they were on the brink of invasion, I could only scrape together $10,000 in donations, then I'd start send 10 guys with ten books of matches to light as many forest fires as possible all over their country.

There's no "enough" point in war. More is always better, but but good commanders make do with what they have. This is essentially an inductive problem so approaching deductively is a mistake.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course, nothing is learned from answering that sort of question because it is highly, highly unusual that that would truly be the case.

Actually, we've learned the answer to the question, which is something that we've learned from it, regardless of how unusual it is.

There's no "enough" point in war.

Sure there is, it's just that it's impossible for us to determine where the line between "enough" and "not enough" is. But that doesn't mean that these don't exist and/or that we shouldn't attempt to assign where they are (for example, even though selecting a sexual consent age is somewhat arbitrary, that doesn't mean we shouldn't).

This is essentially an inductive problem so approaching deductively is a mistake.

It seems you're thinking I introduced the topic of "where do we draw the line?" Actually, I started a topic on "Is X moral on Y circumstances?" which does have to be approached deductively, because I'm presenting the issue as a matter of principle, as in, is taxation ever justified, not when it is justified assuming that we've already determined that there are some circumstances where it can be.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, we've learned the answer to the question, which is something that we've learned from it, regardless of how unusual it is.

No, you haven't. You found an answer which satisfies you because its the one you assumed from the start. It's not the correct answer though.

What is "Moral" is derived inductively from reality which means, in context. General principles can be derived, but they apply in the context of normal life and not in extreme cases we can make up that rule out all other possible explanations. Rand explains this in “The Ethics of Emergencies.” What you're proposing is essentially the kill or be killed scenario, writ large as a war which makes it's uselessness even larger since the ignored context is so much more complex.

When Martin suggested bonds, for example, you counter with, "suppose bonds aren't enough." That's an arbitrary assertion which you could easily apply to every argument suggested. I could further counter that a nation with the liberty-based, capitalist minded industrialists that would be necessary to maintain their own freedom from within their country would necessarily have an excellent credit rating, but then you could say, "what if they didn't?" I could argue that those same capitalist minded industrialists, when faced with an oppressive hoard would share my own view that I would rather burn down everything I've spent my life working for then let those sorts get their foul hands on it, so spending every last cent to cause them harm would be a joy and not a sacrifice, but then you could counter, "what if they wouldn't?" I can only answer, "They would."

A couple relevant points are that no principle can be derived from any life boat scenario, because each extreme case is so unique in its total context that we cannot take out examples from reality and form a rule that works in those situations(because there is no those, there is only it) and second, valid principles which can be derived from reality are always inductive. Like knowing that a nation of moochers and looters, not willing to help defend their freedom, financially, at the very least, wouldn't have much of it in the first place, for example. Or knowing that force is not proper to the life of man; that it is always harmful to his mind and his body to remove his ability to utilize his volition in all circumstances; That one capitalist, as free free man, voluntarily contributing his energy to what he sees as his own best interests is worth more than the confiscated wealth of a thousand slaves. These are examples of correctly derived principles using induction and deduction in tandem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You found an answer which satisfies you because its the one you assumed from the start.

From my first post: "I'm definitely undecided on this though."

It's not the correct answer though.

That's your opinion. You said "nothing is learned from answering that sort of question" and I'm saying "Yes, you do learn something by answering that question (if you've got the correct answer), and what you've learned is the answer to the question. And even if we don't find an answer we can convince ourselves is the correct one (like ethical egoism, which is much easier to prove than a specific policy in the complex real world), that doesn't mean there isn't a correct answer (i.e. just because picking a sexual consent/voting/drinking age is somewhat arbitrary doesn't mean we should pick one).

General principles can be derived, but they apply in the context of normal life and not in extreme cases we can make up that rule out all other possible explanations.

Right, which means that in emergency cases you can figure out that a rule which would apply to other situations doesn't apply to this one, and we can figure this out by applying our minds to the issue and get an answer. This is my whole point.

Rand explains this in  “The Ethics of Emergencies.”

Yes, she explains how there's no initiation of force in that situation (if you kill someone when you're ordered to with a gun to your head) because of the context. This is essentially what I'm saying, there are SOME situations where taxation is moral.

What you're proposing is essentially the kill or be killed scenario.

I'm not sure what you're saying--taxation is not killing.

When Martin suggested bonds, for example, you counter with, suppose bonds aren't enough.

Yes, because the whole point of this thread is "Do you support taxes IF they are/are highly likely to be necessary to fight a foreign invasion?"

when faced with an oppressive hoard would share my own view that I would rather burn down everything I've spent my life working for then let those sorts get their foul hands on it, so spending every last cent to cause them harm would be a joy and not a sacrifice.

That's not relevant. The issue is whether or not taxation is moral in this situation. However, I'll add that if you might be able to/will be able to fight them off by using your factories to make weapons, you'd be happier, because you'll have your liberty without threat of invasion later.

we cannot take out examples from reality and form a rule that works

Yes, we obviously can't come out with a rule that can be applied to all situations. I never said we could (it would be practically infinitely complex). What we can do is come up with the rule "If there's a nominal chance that taxing will save our nation, we should do it." You're then applying that rule to the reality you live in--you do your best to interpret it as any judge would.

valid principles which can be derived from reality are always inductive.

Technically, this is true, however, everything that follows the induction is deductive. In other words, if we assume (through induction) that humans are rational, then we can deduce from there. If we accept self-interest is moral, then determining that taxation is moral in X situation and moral in Y situation is determined through deduction.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Trying to prevent force by the initiation of force is just you being the initiator. Taxes are a from of force so by "protecting" you're citizens from force you are using it against them. If the country desperately needs the money then they could take loans out from the banks using the money earned from business contracts. Force is only to be used against those who initiate it, not against a third part to provide you're defense, you wouldn't take slaves to build you're weapons, taxes are just another form of force.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the question itself is a false dichotomy in the sense that if there was such a philosophical base to create an actual Capitalist nation then the citizen's of the country would naturally have a sense of life such that the vast majority would not let such an invasion stand over their dead bodies. Virtually every able bodied man would fight for their freedom on principle to the death and the rest would contribute to such a cause almost without exception also on principle. No taxation would ever be needed. A Capitalist society where it's citizen's need to be forced to defend themselves against foreign invasion would be doomed already since that would mean it's founding philosophical base had since been left to falter.

Edited by EC
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To make my point more concretely, imagine you (speaking to all the explicit Objectivists reading this, not the trolls or those that are new or only agree with parts of the philosophy) lived in such a nation that was being invaded. Also imagine that for such a nation to even exist and prosper the vast majority of it's citizens would have to agree with you in all the fundamentals. In this case, would you ever have to be forced to contribute to the defense of your Capitalist society, in the wake of a foreign or extraterrestrial invasion, given the context of it's very existence being a massively positive value for your life, and the alternative being essentially slavery or death? Would you not expect the vast majority of citizens that share in your own values and philosophy not to make the same choice?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have read them and have responded with my views on the matter. Just because I did not put quotes in didn't mean I wasn't replying.

This has nothing to do with quotes. Your response doesn't address our arguments. You say "you're initiating force" and our argument is that there are very different rules when we're in a "lifeboat scenario/similar".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...