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The Political Right of Colonization

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There are other topic on this issue but they are mostly about the right of a state to conquere land marginally controlled by barbaric natives rather than claim unoccupied terriroty.

Does a government have a right to expand into terriroty which is uncontrolled by any other state? Must the government recieve a request by friendly or national occupants of the unruled territory? Does government authority automatically expand into areas in which national citizens have occupied?

Specific Scenario 1: The US government uses its satellites to discover a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean. Can the government claim this land? Must the government put the land towards some sort of offical state use (build a naval base) before claiming it? Can the government claim the land and then auction off for private use?

Specific Scenario 2: A deserted island is discovered in the Pacific Ocean. An American citizen finds the island first and then claims it as his own property (to cement this claim, he builds a house, a port, and puts a good chunk of the island into use). Can the man ask the US government for his island to be annexed into US territory? Should the US govenrment grant such requests?

Specific Scenario 3: A deserted island is discovered in the pacific ocean by a group of Americans. The members pf the group each individually lay claim to the island and then dispute each others' claims. Should or can the state intervene to settle this legal dispute?

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There are no definitive, always yes or always no answers to your questions (except for the one about the government claiming islands just to auction them off - that's a no, because it has nothing to do with protecting rights - which is any government's only legitimate purpose). But other than that, the answer is context dependent.

All governments have a limited capability. No government can guarantee the absolute protection of all rights at all times no matter the cost. There has to be a cost/benefit ratio beyond which the government should not take action to protect someone's rights. For instance, if Putin steals some American investments into a Russian company, the US government shouldn't go to war with Russia to get them back.

In these cases, too, the government should weigh the cost of expanding its territory, intervening in any dispute, etc. against the objective benefits for the American individuals involved (as well as the nation as a whole, if there are any such benefits). If intervening is not too costly, then it should be done.

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In these cases, too, the government should weigh the cost of expanding its territory, intervening in any dispute, etc. against the objective benefits for the American individuals involved (as well as the nation as a whole, if there are any such benefits). If intervening is not too costly, then it should be done.

I have some concerns regarding the expresion "expanding its territory", in reference to the government..

Let's remember that governments do not own territory. They just protect the rights of their citizens within a territory. The borders of such territory are the borders of the property of the men seeking its protection.

Governments should not morally expand their territory unless men taking property of that territory ask that government to become their government.

For example: if an American citizen lands on a previosuly unknown desert island and asks the Japanese government to become the protector of his rights, and the Japanese government accepts, that island will be under the jurisdiction of Japan.

This is so because governments do not owe the bodies, minds or possesions of their citizens.

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Edited by Hotu Matua
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Let's take a more dramatic example: the Antarctica.

In a free world, which government would protect the rigths of colonizers of the Antarctica?

The answer is: the governments which those colonizers would choose to protect their rights.

It could be the government of an already existent country, or maybe some of them would choose to elect an independent government: the Republic of Antarctica.

Disputes should be resolved by international courts or mediators, but no government should force their citizens to protect their rights OUTSIDE their current borders.

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Edited by Hotu Matua
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I have some concerns regarding the expresion "expanding its territory", in reference to the government..

Let's remember that governments do not own territory. They just protect the rights of their citizens within a territory. The borders of such territory are the borders of the property of the men seeking its protection.

Governments should not morally expand their territory unless men taking property of that territory ask that government to become their government.

For example: if an American citizen lands on a previosuly unknown desert island and asks the Japanese government to become the protector of his rights, and the Japanese government accepts, that island will be under the jurisdiction of Japan.

This is so because governments do not owe the bodies, minds or possesions of their citizens.

I don't see how it follows that a territory may not be governed without express invitation from its owner, because the government doesn't own that territory.

But, if it does, then current US land owners should also be allowed to just invite Japan (or Iran, for that matter) to govern them. After all, they (or any of the previous owners) never invited the US government to govern them. The US was established by colonists, sure, but it definitely wasn't established by all, or even most of them. In fact some of them fought to continue being ruled by the British, and the vast majority never picked a side.

If your principle was followed, North America should have quite a colorful political map, with probably every country in the world represented many times over, in various spots, across it. That would obviously result in anarchy of the worst kind.

Let's take a more dramatic example: the Antarctica.

In a free world, which government would protect the rigths of colonizers of the Antarctica?

The answer is: the governments which those colonizers would choose to protect their rights.

It could be the government of an already existent country, or maybe some of them would choose to elect an independent government: the Republic of Antarctica.

Disputes should be resolved by international courts or mediators, but no government should force their citizens to protect their rights OUTSIDE their current borders..

Do you mean that each colonist would get to pick his government of choice, or that they would have to get together and vote on which one government to pick?

If it's the latter, then what happens to all the minorities which wanted to go with different governments? Their land is all of a sudden annexed to a country they didn't choose.

Edited by Nicky
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When there is still territory to be explored and claimed, minorities (those who voted for the loser candidate or the loser proposal) can either

1) accept the decision of the majority and stay in the new country

2) move outside the jurisdiction of the new country to new, unclaimed territory.

So, the number of new countries that can be formed in the Antarctica, or the number of already existing governments that can be called by colonizers to enact their authority will depend on the colonizers acting as free agents and seeking agreements.

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Now, the word "anarchy" has been brought to the discussion and I will reply to it.

Anarchy has nothing to do with the number of governments. You cannot say that having 2 countries in North America is fine, but having 20 or 200 is wrong.

As long as you have a defined territory governed under Objective Law you don't have anarchy.

I could rebute Nicky's statement by saying that, if his principle is true, the planet is already in anarchy because we've got more than 200 nation-states, where three or four (or one??) would be enough.

How the borders of a territory should be established in a truly free world?

Well. either the nation-State is a moral institution or it is not. If it is, borders must be established without force.

If the only way we can imagine a nation-State setting its boundaries is by force, then the nation-State is not moral.

If a group of citizens from country A go to the Antarctica, colonize some acres are decide to be governed by country B, the government from country A could not morally send soldiers to kill these citizens, or confiscate their properties. They would not be "traitors". You cannot betray the monopoly of force of a government outside the territory where it exerts its monopoly.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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When there is still territory to be explored and claimed, minorities (those who voted for the loser candidate or the loser proposal) can either

1) accept the decision of the majority and stay in the new country

2) move outside the jurisdiction of the new country to new, unclaimed territory.

So, the number of new countries that can be formed in the Antarctica, or the number of already existing governments that can be called by colonizers to enact their authority will depend on the colonizers acting as free agents and seeking agreements.

.

Now, the word "anarchy" has been brought to the discussion and I will reply to it.

Anarchy has nothing to do with the number of governments. You cannot say that having 2 countries in North America is fine, but having 20 or 200 is wrong.

As long as you have a defined territory governed under Objective Law you don't have anarchy.

I could rebute Nicky's statement by saying that, if his principle is true, the planet is already in anarchy because we've got more than 200 nation-states, where three or four (or one??) would be enough.

How the borders of a territory should be established in a truly free world?

Well. either the nation-State is a moral institution or it is not. If it is, borders must be established without force.

If the only way we can imagine a nation-State setting its boundaries is by force, then the nation-State is not moral.

If a group of citizens from country A go to the Antarctica, colonize some acres are decide to be governed by country B, the government from country A could not morally send soldiers to kill these citizens, or confiscate their properties. They would not be "traitors". You cannot betray the monopoly of force of a government outside the territory where it exerts its monopoly.

By what standard of morality is the use of force immoral?

Also, who said anything about force? Annexing an island isn't necessarily an act of force. If the country the island becomes a part of has a capitalist government, then the act of annexing the island does not involve the initiation of force. At worst, it involves the use of retaliatory force, but only against those who violate others' rights. That is perfectly moral.

I could rebute Nicky's statement by saying that, if his principle is true, the planet is already in anarchy because we've got more than 200 nation-states, where three or four (or one??) would be enough.

My statement is that allowing land owners to choose their government on an individual basis is anarchy. If you want to rebuke my statement, that's the statement you should rebuke.

The other statement, the one you are rebuking (that more than one country is anarchy) is your straw man, not my statement.

Edited by Nicky
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By what standard of morality is the use of force immoral?

Also, who said anything about force? Annexing an island isn't necessarily an act of force.

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I didn't say it is necessarily an act of force. An annexation must be the result of agreement among free men, or else it is an act of force.

Which men? The men who need protection of their rights in the new territory.

My statement is that allowing land owners to choose their government on an individual basis is anarchy. If you want to rebuke my statement, that's the statement you should rebuke.

The other statement, the one you are rebuking (that more than one country is anarchy) is your straw man, not my statement.

Hi, Nicky

The statement I am referring to is your statement about North America having "a colourful map, with every country represented many times over, in various spots, across it." After picturing this scenario, you say that "that obviously would result in anarchy of the worst kind".

That is the statement I want to rebuke. It is not obvious to me that having 20 or 200 countries (either new or already existing elsewhere) represented across the map of North America would result in anarchy. Splitting Yugoslavia in many countries resulted in chaos and anarchy in some of the new countries, but in freedom and prosperity in others (Slovenia and Croatia are far better off now than under communist dictatorships).

Now, concerning your new statement, about the fact that if land owners choose their government on a individual basis is anarchy:

The need of a government arises only in a complex social context (meaning, generally hundreds or thousands of landowners). So, electing a government on a individual basis makes no sense. Election of a proper government always entails agreement among free men.

Now, how many free men? One thousand? One million? One hundred million?

There is no philosophical basis to determine which is the minimum number of landowners (or rightowners) to form a government.

Landowners may rightfully secede from a country. If this is ethical or not depends on the rationality of such a decision (whether the country they are creating is better protecting rights than the country they are seceding from).

The fact that landowners could rightfully place themselves outside the borders within which a government exerts its authority demostrates that citizens, and not governments, are the ones that can morally define borders. This is true because rights come first, then governments.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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.

I didn't say it is necessarily an act of force. An annexation must be the result of agreement among free men, or else it is an act of force.

Again: what's your problem with force? Objectivism doesn't hold force to be immoral, it holds initiation of force to be immoral. And annexation of a territory to a capitalist country is not initiation of force.

The statement I am referring to is your statement about North America having "a colourful map, with every country represented many times over, in various spots, across it." After picturing this scenario, you say that "that obviously would result in anarchy of the worst kind".

That is the statement I want to rebuke.

No, that's not my statement. That's another attempt from you to change my statement. My statement:

I don't see how it follows that a territory may not be governed without express invitation from its owner, because the government doesn't own that territory.

But, if it does, then current US land owners should also be allowed to just invite Japan (or Iran, for that matter) to govern them. After all, they (or any of the previous owners) never invited the US government to govern them. The US was established by colonists, sure, but it definitely wasn't established by all, or even most of them. In fact some of them fought to continue being ruled by the British, and the vast majority never picked a side.

If your principle was followed, North America should have quite a colorful political map, with probably every country in the world represented many times over, in various spots, across it. That would obviously result in anarchy of the worst kind.

Rebuke away.

The fact that landowners could rightfully place themselves outside the borders within which a government exerts its authority demostrates that citizens, and not governments, are the ones that can morally define borders. This is true because rights come first, then governments.

The right to do what? Define borders? Where does that right come from?

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You should re-read your original post, Hotua. In it, you state that a government may not govern over a piece of land, because they don't own it. That clearly implies that, without ownership, there is no right to govern a territory.

Do you stand by that? Are you still claiming that the right to govern is linked to ownership of the land (the one thing in all your posts that makes no sense to me), or have you revised your position? If you have revised it, say so, so we can stop arguing.

P.S.

I am thinking that you may have revised your position, because in your latest post, you allude to the notion that the government that takes over should be whichever is closest to protecting individual rights. That clearly contradicts your previous contention, that the government should be whichever the people who own the land decide to invite to take over.

Which is the moral method of picking a government: picking whichever is closest to being good (and using force to make sure it stays the government, if need be), or gathering every land owner up and letting them pick one at will (and using force to make sure that government stays the government, if need be)?

Edited by Nicky
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America had been discovered by Vikings and after it rediscovered by Spaniards. Does it gives to Norway or Spain any claim over American territory? Evidently not. Only people who settle the land and improve on it could make such a claim. The same people will organize their social life and form a government in accordance with their dominant philosophy. America became a land of free people not by chance, but because the very nature of the settlement on the uncharted land required freedom-that is, hard work and minimal government intervention. American Revolution was an outcome of the detrimental intervention of England in this very process. The same would apply to any new settlement-be it Antarctica, some deserted island or Mars.

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Thank you, Leonid, for your insight. I agree with it completely.

Rights come first. Specifically, property rigthts come first. And even more specifically, land ownership which, after ownership of your own body and your tools (which are extensions of your body), is the most basic form of property.

Over the course of history, landowners where the first ones (and sometimes the only ones) to form governments.

I am trying to illustrate this with the following graph.

Suppose landowners (represented by blue spheres) organize to form a government, which authority is confined within the blue border. Observer that the blue border is formed by the borders of all properties being protected by that government.

Let's say that two citizens discover and colonize new land (green territory). The only way that the blue State could expand its protection to the green land, in a free world, would be having landowners in the new green territory agree to accept such autothority. In that case, the new border of the blue State would be the green border.

If for any reason, the citizens of the new green territory chose another government to protect their rights, the blue State could not enforce its authority by sending soldiers to kill them or confiscate their properties. That would be an initiation of force.

Most cases of expansionism in history, unfortunately, have been cases of govenrments taking possesion of new land as if it were a person. It is the fallacy of the collective being assigned properties of an individual man.

annexation.jpg

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The issue with the Falkand islands is a concrete case to apply the principle.

As you know, Argentinian claims on those islands derive from the fact that, in the oldest maps, they appear as part of the corresponding Spanish colony ("Virreinato del Río de la Plata"), even though they were not inhabited nor any economic activity was being performed by any citizen from the empire.

Argentina sees the islands as property of their state/government/nation. But that is is floating abstraction. It does not connect with any concrete. Governments/nations/states cannot own territory.

On the other hand, current inhabitants of the islands (e.g. current landowners) want the British government to protect their rights.

For Argentina, the choice of the Falkand people has no relevance in this matter. Why? Because Argentinian government wrong premises. Because "Argentina", the collective, is being assigned the features of an individual man, and as such Argentina is supposed to have "rights" over the islands.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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