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Capitalism and the Proper Role of Government

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I did not ignore it. I told you why it was illogical and incomprehensible. It is gibberish because it is incomprehensible, it is incomprehensible because the similarity does not exist, or the analog

Not presuming to speak for Mr. Miovas, but he said that one cannot rely on "men's rationality, or good-will, or good intentions to secure legal objectivity" (as you put it). Instead we need a governme

Yes, that doesn't change the point at all. He's saying that "we would have to rely on men's rationality, or good-will, or good intentions to secure legal objectivity" under market defense, and since h

Namely, there can be boycotts and ostracism, as previously mentioned.

This might be the whole reason why you think competing "agencies of force" can work together, even though they may have overlapping jurisdictions with no overriding ultimate agency of force to keep them in line. Yes, one can ostracize and boycott the irrational -- refuse to have anything to do with them until they become rational. But that is only if they have not initiated force. The initiation of force has to be met with counter-force, and cannot be dealt with in any other manner. If one's rights are violated, which can only be done with force, then it would be irrational to only boycott or ostracize them. If the Mafia comes to your house demanding protection money or they will break your legs, it would be downright silly to tell them you are not going to have anything to do with them, and go about your merry way. One has to counter force and threats of force with force, you cannot reason with them. They have rejected reason and persuasion at the outset, which is why they resort to force in the first place. So, these "agencies of counter-force" could not just go around arranging boycotts and ostracisms when dealing with those who break their laws. Perhaps you don't understand this and this is why you think "competing agencies of force" could work out. No, they will shoot you if you don't comply -- that point has to be driven home.

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No I mean, force need not necessarily stand as the backbone, that seems like smuggling in a normative judgment into the concept. The various other methods could be anything really, I'm not specifying, I'm just saying the goal of enforcement is compliance. Force is obviously the typical method, but it isn't the only one in existence, or the only one historically used in every society. Namely, there can be boycotts and ostracism, as previously mentioned. I'm not really following why we rat-holed into this or of what significance this is, only that Grames apparently thought, or still thinks, I was somehow saying force shouldn't be used because he doesn't like the Law Merchant, even though the only reason force wasn't used in that code is because the government had a monopoly and was not responsive.

The goal of both carrots and sticks used on a farm animal is to gain compliance. Yet carrots and sticks are very, very different in their principle of operation. You seem to think the goal is all that matters, and all means having the same goal can be integrated together in the concept of enforcement.

I maintain there is a radical difference between means of gaining compliance which incorporate physical force and means of gaining compliance that do not incorporate physical force. Any means of gaining compliance which employs physical force is either a violation of rights or a justified a defense of rights, with no middle or neutral ground possible. Other methods of gaining compliance can never violate rights, nor can they defend rights. Rights can only be violated by physical force and they can only be defended with physical force.

To the extent that those hypothesized market-based defense companies do not use force they will be ineffective at defending anything. To the extent that they do use force in exchange for their customers' money they are simply bounty hunters that answer to no one, exacting vigilante justice as they see fit and as their customers can afford. So long as there is no government and no government monopoly over retaliatory force then vigilante justice is the only justice possible. Why would anyone want to live in such a society?

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Any means of gaining compliance which employs physical force is either a violation of rights or a justified a defense of rights, with no middle or neutral ground possible. Other methods of gaining compliance can never violate rights, nor can they defend rights. Rights can only be violated by physical force and they can only be defended with physical force.

To the extent that those hypothesized market-based defense companies do not use force they will be ineffective at defending anything. To the extent that they do use force in exchange for their customers' money they are simply bounty hunters that answer to no one, exacting vigilante justice as they see fit and as their customers can afford. So long as there is no government and no government monopoly over retaliatory force then vigilante justice is the only justice possible. Why would anyone want to live in such a society?

If you can find where I ever advocated any of this, please do point it out. Until then, you're arguing against your own straw man. I guess that's all you have at this point.

This might be the whole reason why you think competing "agencies of force" can work together, even though they may have overlapping jurisdictions with no overriding ultimate agency of force to keep them in line. Yes, one can ostracize and boycott the irrational -- refuse to have anything to do with them until they become rational. But that is only if they have not initiated force. The initiation of force has to be met with counter-force, and cannot be dealt with in any other manner. If one's rights are violated, which can only be done with force, then it would be irrational to only boycott or ostracize them. If the Mafia comes to your house demanding protection money or they will break your legs, it would be downright silly to tell them you are not going to have anything to do with them, and go about your merry way. One has to counter force and threats of force with force, you cannot reason with them. They have rejected reason and persuasion at the outset, which is why they resort to force in the first place. So, these "agencies of counter-force" could not just go around arranging boycotts and ostracisms when dealing with those who break their laws. Perhaps you don't understand this and this is why you think "competing agencies of force" could work out. No, they will shoot you if you don't comply -- that point has to be driven home.

Perhaps you don't have an argument against anything I've actually said, and this is why you haven't presented one.
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If you can find where I ever advocated any of this, please do point it out. Until then, you're arguing against your own straw man. I guess that's all you have at this point.

Perhaps you don't have an argument against anything I've actually said, and this is why you haven't presented one.

You have never advocated anything, just put up airy-fairy speculations that are logically impossible and self-contradictory. I find myself compelled to systematically cover all the possibilities simply to leave you nowhere to hide.

If you don't like my attempts to pin you down, then pin yourself down.

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You have never advocated anything, just put up airy-fairy speculations that are logically impossible and self-contradictory. I find myself compelled to systematically cover all the possibilities simply to leave you nowhere to hide.

If you don't like my attempts to pin you down, then pin yourself down.

If I make contradictions that you can point out, why would you feel the need to argue against things I never even said? All I did was critique Thomas' arguments (re: "gang warfare will break out") in the first place. Then I critiqued your arguments (re: "we need a final arbiter" and "people disagree.") I see you all as never having responded to any of that, and instead scrambling around inventing your own straw men to knock down, or just outright morally condemning me for some reason or another. Edited by 2046
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Feel free to, you know, provide evidence or an argument that actually addresses any of the points made in #73 at any point. You never did aside from repeat the original assertion to which that was a response to without addressing it, and then you asked for a definition, which I replied to, then you never answered that. If you feel like you did, let's see it. Instead you don't even attempt.

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I think Grames is correct, that the onus of proof is on the anarcho-capitalist side -- those who claim that individual rights can be secured without a central government that has a solid constitution and people who know how to hold the government to it. It worked out well for the United States, arguably for about 150, so we know the monopolistic form of government can do the job. If you have a different idea, you are going to have to prove it to us, and so far, you haven't done that. You claim the market place will take care of the checks and balances and the proper standards, but when I presented a market scenario via George and Sally, each having a different "company of enforcement" you claim that wouldn't happen because of -- blank out. When others have pointed out that the anarcho-capitalist side has many floating abstractions and stolen concepts and contradictions, you just wave them off. So, come out with it -- how would it work to secure individual rights?

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1. That's a straw man of the position argued in this thread.

2. If the onus of proof is on the person advocating anarcho-capitalism, then what was the OP in response to, and why won't you deal with the critiques provided for your arguments?

You claim the market place will take care of the checks and balances and the proper standards, but when I presented a market scenario via George and Sally, each having a different "company of enforcement" you claim that wouldn't happen because of -- blank out.

When did I ever write that? Are you inventing imaginary arguments you had with me?
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1. That's a straw man of the position argued in this thread. 2. If the onus of proof is on the person advocating anarcho-capitalism, then what was the OP in response to, and why won't you deal with the critiques provided for your arguments? When did I ever write that? Are you inventing imaginary arguments you had with me?

I guess you are referring to the opening post with "OP"? It wasn't so much a response to anarcho-capitalism, but rather a presentation of the proper role of government. Several of my internet friends had been posting about anarcho-capitalism (and presumably against standard governments), so I decided to write a reply. As to your response to my George and Sally "competing agencies", you implied that the authorities could prevent George from hiring a hit man to get back at Sally, and I asked you what authorities -- that under a-c, the authorities are chosen by the payers, and that George would not be violating a-c. I asked you what authorities, and you went blank-out.

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Let me re-emphasize what I think would happen under anarcho-capitalism and why I think it would be an abject failure when it comes to defending individual rights. Under anarcho-capitalism, each person would be free to choose and to pay for his own defense agency -- his agency of force or counter-force to defend his individual rights, using force against his attackers. Those on the a-c side maintain that such a set-up using market principles for buying defense would result in the very best defense of individual rights the way one can get the very best cell phones on the open market. However, I gave the scenario whereby George has his rights violated by Sally, and hires a hit man to take care of Sally and get his justice. Some on the a-c side maintain that this would be illegal, that somehow there would be some sort of overriding law that would make this illegal. But I don't see how. After all, there is no overriding law under capitalism that prevents one from buying the cheapest cell phone on the market, even though it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the iPhone.So, in George's case,he goes with a cheap service provider, who will do the hit, and not worry about delays, like court hearings and checks and balances to insure that Sally actually violated George's rights. Those of you on the anarcho-capitalist side will have to show why this would not happen; why wouldn't George be able to do this without the law coming after him? If he is free to buy his own protection service, how can there possibly be some overriding law to govern his quest for justice?

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Somehow, there is an overriding pre-existing body of law (including a body of procedural law governing how the agencies are to deal with each other or each others' clients) that all the agencies are somehow compelled to follow--or somehow invariably willing to follow even if not compelled to do so. And somehow, there is no way someone could start a new agency that doesn't want to ignore that law, or if it does want to ignore that law, would somehow be brought to heel without it turning into a civil war.

All 2046 has to do is fill in those "somehows," and he has made his case.

I note that in #137 2046 has emphatically agreed that he has posited the existence of a pre-existing body of law, so I am not erecting a strawman here. And that immediately implies that people can be compelled to follow a law whether they want to or not, and even if they don't recognize the authority of that law; that's inherent in what "law" is. So that part of my first paragraph isn't a strawman either.

Personally, the only way I can fill in those "somehows" is by positing a government, but I am willing to admit I might be engaged in the fallacy of arguing from personal incredulity--provided someone finds another plausible way of filling in those somehows. And ixnay on pointing to private today's security companies and private arbitration as examples, because today they in turn are ultimately subject to government authority and that is what ultimately prevents them from behaving in the way Thomas describes. So they are not examples of AC in action. I agree that parts of the government's job can be outsourced; I don't agree that the final authority can be divided up and "marketized" in the manner AC describes.

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I guess you are referring to the opening post with "OP"? It wasn't so much a response to anarcho-capitalism, but rather a presentation of the proper role of government. Several of my internet friends had been posting about anarcho-capitalism (and presumably against standard governments), so I decided to write a reply. As to your response to my George and Sally "competing agencies", you implied that the authorities could prevent George from hiring a hit man to get back at Sally, and I asked you what authorities -- that under a-c, the authorities are chosen by the payers, and that George would not be violating a-c. I asked you what authorities, and you went blank-out.

Show me where I "went blank-out." (PS, I don't think you know what "blank-out" means.)

Now, this is truly confusing. If the onus is on the advocate of anarcho-capitalism to provide an argument for the system, and no anarcho-capitalist had ever done so, then it's not clear what your OP was responding to. Now you say that you indeed weren't making a response. Well then, why are phrases like "this is an incorrect assessment," "Those who don't want government..." "There would be no overriding agency..." "In this state of affairs..." "There will be gang warfare" etc. And then in the very next post you write, "Let me re-emphasize what I think would happen under anarcho-capitalism..." Are we supposed to believe that you are "not making a response" to anarcho-capitalism? Then what are these statements addressed to? Nothing?

No, obviously, you are arguing against something. If you are arguing againstsomething, then you have a something to which your argument is directed towards. So your dissmissal of my position doesn't succeed if you simply say that I'm not assuming the onus of proving anarcho-capitalism, because you are the one making the argument against a position, and I am simply responding to your arguments. My goal is error-elimination. I am not, nor have I ever in this thread attempted to prove anarcho-capitalism, or to elaborate on a theory of anarcho-capitalism. That is not my goal here, go elsewhere for that (there are plenty of books out there.) The only thing I did was critique several arguments against anarcho-capitalism. The onus is on you now to respond to those arguments and defend your original thesis in light of the points raised, a burden which you have not lived up to. The only thing you have done is repeat your original thesis over and over, while ignoring the arguments I provided. I invite any interested party to read your original arguments and my response-arguments (to Grames included re: "final authority" and "people disagree"), and then view all the responses made and tell me if this is not so.

Edited by 2046
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I have actually replied to your positions throughout this thread. Under anarcho-capitalism, I see no objective control over the use of force or counter-force, there being no overriding legal authority on the use of force, which one does get an an individual rights oriented type of government. The proof is in history -- the first 150 years of the United States and what it made possible. One can even make a case that the operation of the protection of individual rights is still going on, for the most part. There are certainly cases where this is not true -- especially if one is running a business -- but overall, the government is still there to protect you (say if someone is buying a hit on you or otherwise trying to do physical harm to yourself). So, I don't even understand what the anarcho-capitalists have against a standard government dedicated to protecting individual rights with objective laws covering the whole country and reigning in the use of force to settle disagreements. If you, 2046 or others, are not trying to defend a-c then what then heck are you doing? Why are you saying that my original thesis in the opening essay is wrong? I've pointed out many flaws in the a-c side, and haven't seen a reply to those. Perhaps I ought to wait until there is a real defender of a-c since you have decided to drop that ball.

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I've been thinking about this topic more and especially what 2046 has been arguing regarding my original post, which outlined the proper role of government in establishing capitalism. I wasn't trying to prove that capitalism works, say as in providing the best protection of individual rights, I was simply outlining what I thought the proper role of government would have to be if one were to be free of the initiation of force from others. I did establish the proper moral principle and why it had to go into effect, I did not provide a full defense of capitalism, nor was I trying to do this. Since this is an Objectivist oriented forum, I assumed the readers of my post were familiar with "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" by Ayn Rand and possibly "The Capitalist Manifesto" by Andrew Bernstein (which I have not yet read, myself), each of which goes into a much greater detail on the moral / political / historical defense of capitalism and the proper role of government. So, I didn't think I had to prove anything about capitalism -- I thought that had already been done, and I was focused more on what I thought was a problem with the anarcho-capitalist side versus the pro-government in proper role side. I guess it wasn't made clear to me what 2046 was expecting, since he started off arguing for the a-c side, and saying those of us on the proper government side hadn't proven our position. Yes, the position of the capitalist side must defend their position -- they would have to show that a monopolistic form of government that has the final authority over the use of force is legitimate and efficient in defending individual rights. This would require going into the history and the role of philosophy in history, which I wasn't focused on. I would suggest reading the two books I mentioned, and if you have an argument against them, we can discuss that (in this thread or in another thread). I think the proof has already been made.

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Somehow, there is an overriding pre-existing body of law (including a body of procedural law governing how the agencies are to deal with each other or each others' clients) that all the agencies are somehow compelled to follow--or somehow invariably willing to follow even if not compelled to do so. And somehow, there is no way someone could start a new agency that doesn't want to ignore that law, or if it does want to ignore that law, would somehow be brought to heel without it turning into a civil war.

All 2046 has to do is fill in those "somehows," and he has made his case.

I note that in #137 2046 has emphatically agreed that he has posited the existence of a pre-existing body of law, so I am not erecting a strawman here. And that immediately implies that people can be compelled to follow a law whether they want to or not, and even if they don't recognize the authority of that law; that's inherent in what "law" is. So that part of my first paragraph isn't a strawman either.

Personally, the only way I can fill in those "somehows" is by positing a government, but I am willing to admit I might be engaged in the fallacy of arguing from personal incredulity--provided someone finds another plausible way of filling in those somehows. And ixnay on pointing to private today's security companies and private arbitration as examples, because today they in turn are ultimately subject to government authority and that is what ultimately prevents them from behaving in the way Thomas describes. So they are not examples of AC in action. I agree that parts of the government's job can be outsourced; I don't agree that the final authority can be divided up and "marketized" in the manner AC describes.

Thank you Steve for providing an even-handed rephrasing of some of the points in dispute. It seems like you provide a pretty good summary of some of the concerns Thomas seems to have as well. Unfortunately, I think what impedes a serious discussion is that a lot of the posts and responses on here have fallen drastically below general discussion-ethic standards.

I think this is pretty well what a lot of my main point has been that I have already indicated in my previous response, namely in #73 to Grames, and I've repeated it a few times.

Here is what I said in #73, to which the critics haven't responded:

I think there is an unmentioned ... premise, ... and that is something like this: If we have a government and we decree henceforth "we guarantee X," then X will be so. Whereas if we don't, then X won't be so. ... After all, either we "guarantee it," or we "leave it open," right? Either we "guarantee it" or we leave it up to "exhaustion," "stubbornness," or "who has the most money," i.e. some kind of haphazard, random process.

If we look at this more broadly, the notion of a "guarantee" granted by a single monopoly legal system that there will be legal (objectivity), and anything less will lack it, depends on a kind of magical view of government. (I don't mean here just to invoke ordinary mysticism for rhetorical effect, I mean literally an "incantional" view of government, as in a kind of "alakazam, let it be so," view of government.) Ordinarily this is not a failing of Objectivists or libertarians, but a failing of statists that we all are eager to jump on in any other context and point out. Often when statists complain about any Objectivist or free market solution to anything, e.g. "Who will build the roads?" "Who will help the poor?" "Who will fix the schools?" and so forth, there is the assumption that the government "guarantees" certain things will happen because, after all, the government passes laws and decrees that say "this shall be so," as though its saying-so is what made it happen. And so you often hear people say, okay, well maybe under an Objectivist or libertarian system, some combination of private enterprise and private charity would get rid of the problem of poverty, but there's no guarantee that will happen. Whereas, if you have a government where the poor have a "right" to welfare, then there's a guarantee.

But the question is, what are they picturing here? I mean, the government can guarantee something and yet it doesn't happen. The government has been guaranteeing help for the poor for quite a while, so if there's still a poverty problem, is it just that they haven't issued the right guarantees? Maybe they just haven't worded the laws correctly, or something? But there's this assumption first of all, that says something is guaranteed to happen if the government says so, and it won't happen if the government doesn't say so. But, as we point out in these arguments, there's no reason to believe that is the case.

As I explain in that selection you quoted, the government isn't something apart from the people in it. So, as we often say, we will "leave something up to the market," i.e. we leave something up to a variety of imperfect people with various incentives to do various things. If we "leave it up to the government" we also leave it up to a variety of imperfect people with various incentives to do various things. The notion is fallacious that the law or the government occupies some Archimedean point outside the patterns of social activity that it constrains, when of course it is actually constituted by such patterns. So the question is not "Shall we 'guarantee it,' or shall we leave it up to this haphazard random process?" The question is that, given that there is no and can never be any kind of Platonic "guaranteeing it," then these two ways of handling it both have something in common (they're both just people doing things with whatever framework of incentives and institutions they have), then you just have to ask which incentives are more reliable, and to make differentiations on "better or worse."

Both (are just people acting with whatever incentives they have and) both will come with various other consequences, and so, the typical argument against coercive monopolies that plays out in any other scenario applies here, there are a lot of reasons to think that the incentives of a coercive monopoly judge in all cases is less reliable to the ends given, e.g. just the fact of having a coercive monopoly means that you are insulated from certain kinds of negative feedback of your decisions. If your customers can't go anywhere else, then you lack certain reasons for keeping things efficient, keeping prices low, keeping your behavior in line, etc., that the customer-base loses to the extent that it is a captive customer-base, and all the consequences that follow from that. Is the market perfect? No, again this Platonic ideal is denied to us. But that the point is that legal finality, or any kind of social cooperation, doesn’t in fact require a government "external to the participants," because there cannot be such a thing as a social institution of any sort existing "external to the participants," thus there is no reason why if realist legal (objectivity) is available to a government, then it isn't denied to market-based legal order either.

I will address this post to elaborating on the above and filling in the "somehows." All throughout VOS, Rand criticizes statists and various altruists along the same lines:

There is the man who wants a job, but never thinks of discovering what

qualifications the job requires or what constitutes doing one’s work well.

Who is he to judge? He never made the world. Somebody owes him a living.

How? Somehow.

A European architect of my acquaintance was talking, one day, of his trip

to Puerto Rico. He described—with great indignation at the universe at

large—the squalor of the Puerto Ricans’ living conditions. Then he

described what wonders modern housing could do for them, which he had

daydreamed in detail, including electric refrigerators and tiled bathrooms. I

asked: “Who would pay for it?” He answered, in a faintly offended, almost

huffy tone of voice: “Oh, that’s not for me to worry about! An architect’s

task is only to project what should be done. Let somebody else think about

the money.”

That is the psychology from which all “social reforms” or “welfare states”

or “noble experiments” or the destruction of the world have come.

In dropping the responsibility for one’s own interests and life, one drops

the responsibility of ever having to consider the interests and lives of

others—of those others who are, somehow, to provide the satisfaction of

one’s desires.

Whoever allows a “somehow” into his view of the means by which his

desires are to be achieved, is guilty of that “metaphysical humility” which,

psychologically, is the premise of a parasite. As Nathaniel Branden pointed

out in a lecture, “somehow” always means “somebody.”

The hallmark of such mentalities is the advocacy of some grand scale

public goal, without regard to context, costs or means. Out of context, such a

goal can usually be shown to be desirable; it has to be public, because the

costs are not to be earned, but to be expropriated; and a dense patch of

venomous fog has to shroud the issue of means—because the means are to

be human lives.

The next time you encounter one of those “public-spirited” dreamers who

tells you rancorously that “some very desirable goals cannot be achieved

without everybody’s participation,” tell him that if he cannot obtain

everybody’s voluntary participation, his goals had jolly well better remain

unachieved—and that men’s lives are not his to dispose of.

The common thread running through these comments is that Rand is pointing out that people have these various goals, but are making the mistake of thinking that these actions are going directly to ends without means (or in disregard of the means.) Rand points out that this mistake is often made in the context of certain questions:

For instance, Objectivists will often hear a question such as: “What will

be done about the poor or the handicapped in a free society?”

...

“Isn’t it desirable that the

aged should have medical care in times of illness?”

“Isn’t it desirable to have a yacht, to

live in a penthouse and to drink champagne?”

The distinguishing characteristic of such tribal mentality is: the axiomatic,

the almost “instinctive” view of human life as the fodder, fuel or means for

any public project.

The examples of such projects are innumerable: “Isn’t it desirable to clean

up the slums?” (dropping the context of what happens to those in the next

income bracket)—”Isn’t it desirable to have beautiful, planned cities, all of

one harmonious style?” (dropping the context of whose choice of style is to

be forced on the home builders)—”Isn’t it desirable to have an educated

public?” (dropping the context of who will do the educating, what will be

taught, and what will happen to dissenters)—”Isn’t it desirable to liberate the

artists, the writers, the composers from the burden of financial problems and

leave them free to create?” (dropping the context of such questions as: which

artists, writers and composers?—chosen by whom?—at whose expense?—at

the expense of the artists, writers and composers who have no political pull

and whose miserably precarious incomes will be taxed to “liberate” that

privileged elite?)—”Isn’t science desirable? Isn’t it desirable for man to

conquer space?”

And Rand points out, of course these things can be seen as "desirable" or "important," out of context. "Who could say no?" she asks. It's jut the issue of the means that become shrouded in "a dense patch of venomous fog."

In other words (and I will connect this to my point about the "somehow"), the main point of the criticism she is making here in regard to "collectivized ethics" is that statists often think that to say that you don't want to deal with something by force is to say that you don't think it's "desirable" or "important." So statists think that anything that is important is something that they want to deal with by force. And since they think (rightly in most cases) that lots of things are "important" or "desirable," they draw the natural conclusion that government force should be all-pervasive in our lives to "guarantee" everything. If there's a problem, an injustice of any kind (e.g. racism, sexism, inequality, political incorrectness, poverty, corporate malfeasance, people being pushed around on the job, whatever) government then is the solution. All serious problems should be addressed with force (whether it involves initiating force or not), if you really care about some problem and really think it should be addressed, then you need to address it by governmental means.

For this reason, most of them don't even see what they are doing as violence or initiating force. Most of them probably like to think that they are somehow "against violence," but they have trouble seeing that because they have accepted an "incantional" view of the state, where the government decrees something and it just happens. Things happen... if the state says so. And it's just sort of random and haphazard without the state saying so. And so statists often want to know, "Well what guarantees that this will happen without the state?" What if we just "left it up to the market?" The state somehow "guarantees it." They have very much faith in this process, even though the government guarantees a lot of things, and yet somehow they don't get done.

But as we Objectivists are likely to immediately point out that we rely on voluntary means for these questions. We are likely to say, "leave it up to the market." The statists then become exasperated, what?! Then there's no guarantee that it will get done at all! There is the old joke: How many Objectivists/libertarians does it take to screw in a light bulb? None: the market will take care of it. Does this joke mean to say that the light bulb won't get screwed in then? "Invisible hands" are "non-existent hands" to the statist. But Objectivists and libertarians understand the power of market-based solutions, we tend to think that there will be lots of good results brought about without any one center planning them, if you just let people freely interact, and this is something statists have a very hard time understanding.

But this isn't the full picture of what "invisible hands" are supposed to mean. Not everything we do is the result of simply "letting market forces operate" in the sense of "no one is consciously aiming at things." We do intend things to happen. Mises points out in Human Action this straw man used by the advocates of government planning, that the choice is not between a "planned society" on the one hand, and an "un-planned society" on the other:

As the interventionist sees things, the alternative is "automatic forces" or "conscious planning." It is obvious, he implies, that to rely upon automatic processes is sheer stupidity. No reasonable man can seriously recommend doing nothing and letting things go as they do without interference on the part of purposive action. A plan, by the very fact that it is a display of conscious action, is incomparably superior to the absence of any planning. Laissez faire is said to mean: Let the evils last, do not try to improve the lot of mankind by reasonable action.

This is utterly fallacious talk. The argument advanced for planning is entirely derived from an impermissible interpretation of a metaphor. It has no foundation other than the connotations implied in the term "automatic" which it is customary to apply in a metaphorical sense for the description of the market process. Automatic, says the Concise Oxford Dictionary, means "unconscious, unintelligent, merely mechanical." Automatic, says Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, means "not subject to the control of the will, ... performed without active thought and without conscious intention or direction." What a triumph for the champion of planning to play this trump card! (p. 731)

Peikoff recognizes this in OPAR: "Government is a social creation, and society consists of individuals" (p. 363.) (Peikoff's criticism on anarchy is in regards to vigilantism. If this criticism can be dealt with by the free market legal code, then the criticism is neutralized.)The free market also, is a social creation, and society consists of individuals. So this important aspect of the market is entrepreneurship. We see a need and we consciously go out and fulfill it. Hayek is famous for emphasizing this idea that you shouldn't think that all order in society has to be the result of planning, but this does not mean "no one is able to organize anything." The Marxist critique of capitalism, that in the absence of socialism there will be "anarchy of production," that look, we either have some central plan for society, we rationally direct society, we have some rationally planned organization of society, or we just leave things up to some haphazard random process, where it will be chaos. There is a danger on focusing on that aspect of spontaneous order while downgrading rational coordination of individuals consciously getting together and organizing things, trying to do things, that is not "un-market," that is precisely what the market is. Grames earlier (who didn't read or respond to #73) bemoans the "lack of an organizing principle." The market has plenty of "organizing principles," look out your window and see how organized society is, how much of this is planned by one central authority somewhere? None of it.

The point is that organization need not be equated with monopoly. Any organization of society is nothing outside of those particular people that constitute it with whatever incentives they have to act. The government isn’t some kind of "external constraint" on society, separate from it and free from its limitations. Government doesn’t stand outside of society, shaping patters of human interaction, it is itself just one more pattern of human interaction. Whatever government mandates is enabled and sustained by voluntary cooperation.

Think about the Objectivist movement itself. What are we trying to do? We are not a movement of people who are just sitting around hoping liberty and a rational culture will just suddenly emerge without anyone aiming at it. No, we're all aiming at it. We are not just sitting around and hoping our personal lives will suddenly bring us flourishing, no we are all (hopefully) purposefully acting and aiming at that goal in terms of our personal lives as well. So it's not something that we're just "letting the market take care of," no we are the market. Earlier I was criticized (and straw manned) for just wanting to nihilistically "destroy all government" for its own sake, and thinking that liberty would just emerge automatically thereupon. But no, I was assured, philosophy and culture comes first. But this is exactly my point. It seems like the shoe is on the other foot. It seems like a lot of Objectivists want to think that once we "institute a proper limited government" that then our movement is over, and we can just go home and live in peace forever after. There is a kind of thinking that the perfect constitution is somehow self-protecting, that there is a desire for some kind of "self-enforcing rule" or "self-applying rule." Guess what: there isn't any such thing, not under limited government, not under dictatorship, and not on the free market. Once you think that what "the market doing things" is, is us doing things, then it not only makes sense to organize people to promote culture/philosophical values, but also political/structural values as well.

Now, to understand my point, you can ask the same question from the point of view of limited government, and we can see that it is just as apt:

Somehow, there is an overriding pre-existing body of law (including a body of procedural law governing how [the government] is to deal with [anyone]) that [the government is] somehow compelled to follow--or somehow invariably willing to follow even if not compelled to do so. And somehow, there is no way someone could [...] ignore that law, or if it does want to ignore that law, would somehow be brought to heel without it turning into a civil war.

Yeah, so how does this work? How do the "somehows" get filled in there? This is crucial to understanding my counter-arguments because each of them contains the same point: "somehow" means "somebody," there is nothing else keeping the government working. The government is not some sort of automatic robot standing outside of the social order is serves.

One final word on what these means, vis-a-vis anarcho-capitalism. So notice how I didn't use the term for what I am aiming at as "anarchy" for precisely these reasons, if you want to think of a market-based legal order as a kind of market constitutionalism or as a "polycentric legal order" or something like that in technical terms, then fine. I'm saying there will be certain incentives to have certain patterns of activity resulting in a shared set of norms under objective law without a legislative, executive, or judicial monopoly, if you want to call those patterns "a kind of government" then that is fine by me. What I am postulating here is a market-based legal system plus an objective law code packaged together. This legal theory can be seen as a form of constitutional design. In framing a constitution, it is not enough to simply decree that a government shall do this and shall not do that. One must specify a political structure (separation of powers, checks and balances, etc.) that gives individual participants an incentive to act as the constitution specifies.

The importance of the structure does not mean that we should refuse to articulate any general principles or guidelines, but the point is that articulated principles and incentive structures jointly supplement each other, jointly rendering the success of the constitutional system. Hence, for example, the US Constitution contains both structural provisions and a Bill of Rights. We can be seen here as doing the same thing. We can regard a market-based legal order as more likely to provide incentives to maintain freedom than a coercive monopoly, but we would of course also not deny it necessary to seek to provide within that incentive structure with an objective law code. In fact, we would say that this applies to any constitutional system, it cannot be any other way because there is no constitution you could write that all by itself guarantees social order regardless of how it is applied by human agents.

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Yes, the position of the capitalist side must defend their position -- they would have to show that a monopolistic form of government that has the final authority over the use of force is legitimate and efficient in defending individual rights. This would require going into the history and the role of philosophy in history, which I wasn't focused on. I would suggest reading the two books I mentioned, and if you have an argument against them, we can discuss that (in this thread or in another thread). I think the proof has already been made.

Wrong. Don't fall into his trap like he wants. The Capitalist side has already been defended and proven in the sources you listed and many many more. Just point to those. Don't play out of context word games with people on their terms it serves no purpose and just adds the illusion of legitimacy to bad ideas, especially when they use the facade of fancy intellectual language in their semi-defense. And in this particular case all that fancy language is being used in defense of a floating abstraction that he won't fully define.

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Thank you Steve for providing an even-handed rephrasing of some of the points in dispute. It seems like you provide a pretty good summary of some of the concerns Thomas seems to have as well. Unfortunately, I think what impedes a serious discussion is that a lot of the posts and responses on here have fallen drastically below general discussion-ethic standards.

Wow! You gave a very long diatribe against those of us on the capitalist side and insulted us in your pseudo-generalization of the Objectivist position, and didn't respond to the questions posed to you all in one breath...how do you do that?

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By the way, the efficiency of markets isn't even the crux of the problem here at all. Even if government force was more efficient -- i.e slavery was effective -- we would still be against it on ethical grounds. What "market force" would prevent George from ordering a hit on Sally, when he is convinced she did him a grave injustice warranting her death? You haven't explained how there would be laws -- enforceable by whom? -- that would cover a certain geographical area, without itself being a monopoly on the use of force -- i.e. a government.

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Now, to understand my point, you can ask the same question from the point of view of limited government, and we can see that it is just as apt:

Um... no, it isn't. But first let me quote your reversal.

Somehow, there is an overriding pre-existing body of law (including a body of procedural law governing how [the government] is to deal with [anyone]) that [the government is] somehow compelled to follow--or somehow invariably willing to follow even if not compelled to do so. And somehow, there is no way someone could [...] ignore that law, or if it does want to ignore that law, would somehow be brought to heel without it turning into a civil war.

The issue I raised only comes up when there are multiple governments claiming jurisdiction in an area with respect to specific acts, and they don't recognize each others' authority. It doesn't come up under a single government. By reversing my wording you state a non-issue.

Part of a government's job is to define the law, and, yes, that includes the law it itself gets to operate under. When it is a single government, there is no issue of which government's law applies, because there is just the one government. When there are multiple competing governments, each one has to write its own law and they will invariably conflict with each other. Of course if there is a _pre-existing_ body of law, the question then arises, "Well who wrote it? Who enforces it on all those squabbling governments?" It would have to have been a government, an over-arching government... but such would contradict the original hypothesis that there are multiple competing marketplace governments.

This doesn't come up under a unitary government, because there is no other government for it to have an argument with; it is the government that imposed that law; no pre-existing body of law is needed to arbitrate between governments because there is no plurality of governments.

Now I see you are trying to bring up the issue of how to restrain that single government to ensure it doesn't violate rights, but that is an entirely different issue, a secondary issue to establishing the need for a single government. And now I see that perhaps the two sides have been talking past each other. You apparently have been chasing this issue _rather_ than the issue of whether a multiple government would even function.

I don't know of any Objectivist who ever claimed that a single government would have to be proper; if anything, I see constant claims (which I happen to agree with) that we would have to be vigilant in ensuring such an entity remains so. So if you are attacking Oists for this, it's--from every example I have ever seen--a straw man.

I made no assumption in anything I wrote that it is a proper single government, I just argue that multiple governments that each claim to have no one in authority over them will fight and squabble over which law to follow, and who has jurisdiction, and end up warring on each other, rather than actually governing. A single government does not have this problem. It will govern. It might not govern particularly well by Oist standards, but it will govern. It won't end up in a state where "Sue's government says that what Sue did to Bob was legal under its laws, while Bob's government says that what Sue did is illegal. Bob's government wants to arrest Sue for breaking (its) law, while Sue's government is defending her from false arrest." This is because there will be one law applying to Sue and Bob, the law that that government imposed.

With a multi-government system, there is no one law because there is no one government.

OK, a couple of case studies. I happen to live in Colorado. There are three governments that claim jurisdiction over me (and were I to live in a city, there could be four): Federal, State and County. The county government, though, is _really_ a part of the state government and derives its authority from the state government. That state government has delegated some of its functions, including some lawmaking, to the county government, There is an implicit understanding that the county cannot pass a law that contradicts state law, and state law overrides county law essentially whenever it wants to. So between the two of them the final arbiter is the state government; it is the single government and delegated some functions. (You will recall I said that was not an issue.) Similarly, a city government is in the same boat, and there are multiple flavors of such here in Colorado, but it would derive its powers either from the state directly, or from the county, which in turn got them from the state. It's a little bit more interesting when you consider the State and Federal levels, but suffice it to say, thirteen of the states, which were utterly sovereign, created the federal government and handed some of their authority over to it, and said federal government eventually brought about the creation of the Colorado state government and made it co-equal to the other state governments. There is some independence of action and law between the US and Colorado governments, but there are established procedures (established, in essence by the federal government via the constitution), for resolving disputes over who has jurisdiction and whose laws apply (the answer generally turns out to be that an act is illegal if either the federal or state governments prohibits it, though in some cases the feds are able to require the state to not illegalize something). The point is disputes between these governments are handled, because there is an explicit recognition by all of the governments involved that a specific government is the final authority. And this makes it fundamentally different (rather than an example of) any sort of "competing governments" scheme I've ever seen advanced, because, a multi-government simply doesn't have the concept of a final authority.

Without a final authority, ultimately, there is no government that can definitively settle disputes, and no way to definitively enforce the law because there is no final authority over what the law actually is. And if a government cannot do that, it is not a government.

I will emphasize again that nothing in this guarantees that the final authority will govern properly. The question here is whether multiple governments is inherently anarchic, and I hope I've made a case that it is.

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Wrong. Don't fall into his trap like he wants. The Capitalist side has already been defended and proven in the sources you listed and many many more.

Of course it has been defended in many sources, and I would venture to say that 2046 has read everything you have and probably more. That doesn't mean 2046 is right, I only mean to say that pointing towards those sources is not going to "reveal" the answers in some sort of epiphany. Originally I was only posting to suggest that "OMG GANG WARFARE I always thought was a poor argument to use, or at least insufficient in pointing out a consequence of no government. I imagine 2046 was doing the same, albeit with a whole lot more to say.

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The question here is whether multiple governments is inherently anarchic, and I hope I've made a case that it is.

Yes, you have; and so have I, in multiple posts on the topic. No, there is no *government* guarantee that rights will be protected, though a proper constitution lays out the areas of operation of the government. As I have said before, it is up to the governed -- not the ruled, by the way -- to judge if their rights are being properly respected and protected or not; and to take appropriate action within the law to change the situation for the better.

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he issue I raised only comes up when there are multiple governments claiming jurisdiction in an area with respect to specific acts, and they don't recognize each others' authority. It doesn't come up under a single government. By reversing my wording you state a non-issue.

No, I am sorry to say that you missed the point entirely. that is the issue I am addressing. Why is that (bold part)? To state that "they don't recognize each others' authority here is to assume the premise you're trying to prove.

Now I see you are trying to bring up the issue of how to restrain that single government to ensure it doesn't violate rights, but that is an entirely different issue, a secondary issue to establishing the need for a single government. And now I see that perhaps the two sides have been talking past each other. You apparently have been chasing this issue _rather_ than the issue of whether a multiple government would even function.
No, my remarks are addressed to both function and restraint. My comments are actually mainly directed to function, as restraint is only considered insofar as it is also a part of how a limited government is supposed to function.

When there are multiple competing governments, each one has to write its own law and they will invariably conflict with each other.
Why is this the case? You did not even attempt to support this.

You assume all people would "squabble" without someone else to force them not to squabble, therefore we should all get together and cooperate to define the law and form a government. But if people can't cooperate without a government, how are the same people supposed to be able to cooperate and define the law and form a government? The entire point was exactly that neither the law or the government occupies some Archimedean point outside the patterns of social activity that it constrains, when of course it is actually constituted by such patterns. You are making the very mistake I am criticizing: that you seem to think certain actions go directly to ends without means. I'm afraid you haven't really grasped the argument.

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