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What then constitutes the objective use of retaliatory force?

  then what IS the criterion for objectivity?

I put these two quotes together because they're really the same question. Well I can't just like answer this in a brief post. This is the job of the field of law. There's tons of libertarian scholars out there that study libertarian law and its applications, you can search their articles on google. Just type in libertarian law and polycentric law and stuff like that. The main thing is that voluntary institutions that would emerge in a libertarian society are capable of peacefully and justly solving disputes that people have. A good starting point might be Smith's Justice Entrepreneurship in a Free Market.

 

You make some very intriguing points about competing governments.  Would these agencies be exclusively judicial, or would they have enforcement arms as well?

 

And just out of curiosity, have you ever read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein?

And another thing is that we can't be expected to exactly blueprint a free market legal order. The same way socialists might say, "oh you want a free market in (say) shoe production. Well then, tell us how this would work?? Will there be multiple shoe designs? How many companies would there be? Would they be exclusively sales departments, or would they have production facilities attached? How many shoes must be produced per year? How many types would there be, how many colors? If you can't answer this, then that's a problem!"

 

Well no, we cannot say a priori how it would work. The only thing we can say is that profitibility is the standard. Maybe there will be various judges and arbitration firms who would have contracts with enforcement agencies, being separate, maybe insurance agencies will provider arbiters and have their own built-in police and security departments, who knows.

 

And sorry I've heard of, but I haven't read the Heinlein book.

Edited by 2046
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I don't mean to over-quote 2046, but he provides an explanation about the implementation of a market based legal system in this thread. (Took me awhile to find!) Here is a compilation of his main points (let me know if I've left anything major out- also, DonAthos provides a lot of useful dialogue- I suggest reading through the entire thread, but if you don't have time, here's a short summary):

Wow, awesome!

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Indeed.  But I think that you are also in favor of government, so far as I can tell. 

 

 

We can only hope!  :)

Well... I shouldn't presume to speak for you, but so far as I can tell you consistently argue in favor of law and order -- subordinating "might" to "right," and specifically by reserving force to reprisal.

I believe that this constitutes a belief in "governance" generally (and Objectivist Politics, again more specifically).

Your positions put you into conflict with belief in a "monopoly" government, but over the course of our discussions I've come to believe that this aspect is not necessarily an essential aspect of government, as such. After all, there is no "one world government" (as yet), yet we would hardly say that the world is therefore in a state of anarchy. There is quite a lot of "archy" to go around. The United States has its own governmental power split numerous ways across what we call "checks and balances" (and further still, with state, county and local structures, and etc.), yet we would not say that the United States is therefore anarchic. I believe that your position may possibly be cast (and fairly) as a further "balance."

I think that if you're agreed that the initiation of force is to be eliminated from society, that you are in philosophical agreement with Rand's Objectivist Politics (obviously excepting her believing that a monopoly government is proper, and follows, insofar as she did). The particular organization of that government is perhaps more properly "political science," though we can say that the organization must be consistent with the essence of the position. Just as a proper government must be funded without coercion, neither may it maintain its "monopoly" on retaliatory force through coercive means (which is to say that it has no particular monopoly).

By adopting "anarchy" for your views (and though there may be historical precedent for this; you would certainly know better than I), I think that you're conceding that governance and a monopoly of those activities are fundamentally inseparable. I think it's a "package" that needs to be unpacked at the least, to see if that's really so.

 

Well sure, "government" and "anarchy," in the sense you describe here, are both "anti-concepts" in the Randian sense of "two meanings, with the proper meaning serving to cover and to smuggle the improper one into people's minds." If I am right that sometimes by "government" Rand simply means (eg., in her official definition) "the state" (or "one monopoly agency") and sometimes "law and order" then she is packaged-dealing governance (or law and order itself) and monopoly and is therefore guilty of question begging. Which I think she is. Most of her criticisms of anarchy are accusations of lack of law and order. Which would make sense given the above packaged-dealing. So yes, I think it's important to unpack those.

 

So if government means

 

(1)  an institution that holds the exclusive (monopoly) power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area

(2) law and order in general

 

and anarchy means

 

(1) lack of an institution that holds the exclusive (monopoly) power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area

(2) lack of law and order in general

 

Then market anarchy supports government (2), but not government (1), and conversely supports anarchy (1), but not anarchy (2).

 

But, at the same time I agree that Rand's official definition [government (1)] is the right (least confusing) one. And so, the least complicated thing to do is say government means "monopoly" and "anarchy" means "not having a government." That's all I mean by it when I use it.

 

Interestingly enough, I think the conflation of anarchy (1) with anarchy (2) is an example of a bad (as opposed to good in the Hayekian sense) "spontaneous order" which instead of helping to sustain the free market, helps to sustain statism.

 

(On the other hand, "anarcho-capitalism," "market anarchism," or even just "anarchism" or "libertarianism" is a lot simpler, and really, how are you going to get the kids to storm the barricades, so to speak, with "free-market-constitutionalist-polycentric legal order!!!!! Gooooo!")

 

Also see this thread, Free markets against capitalism. And if you really wanna get interesting, see Cuzan Do We Ever Really Get Out of Anarchy? (Maybe all "government" is really "anarchy" and not the other way around??)

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hmm, I'm not sure I see the logic behind the so-called market anarchy position. sounds quite similar like anarcho-capitalism

The difference between the two is mostly rhetorical in nature. The term is mostly an attempt to distance the movement away from those who support free markets and capitalism in name only while supporting government controls that benefit the wealthy. 

 

Market Anarchism could refer to the more obscure types of Anarchism proposed in the 19th century by guys like Spooner and Benjamin Tucker. While supporting Markets, they had problems with certain legal ideas that were associated with property in the 19th century.  Even Proudhon can be considered a Market Anarchist because his ideas of property bordered on socialist, but he still supported voluntarism and a free market economy.  

 

In the end, the term "Anarcho-Capitalism" was coined by Rothbard, and I am pretty sure even he thought it was a mistake. He took the two words that scare everyone and put them together to name his political philosophy. 

Edited by Hairnet
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Thank you!  =]

And another thing is that we can't be expected to exactly blueprint a free market legal order. The same way socialists might say, "oh you want a free market in (say) shoe production. Well then, tell us how this would work?? Will there be multiple shoe designs? How many companies would there be? Would they be exclusively sales departments, or would they have production facilities attached? How many shoes must be produced per year? How many types would there be, how many colors? If you can't answer this, then that's a problem!"

 

Well no, we cannot say a priori how it would work. The only thing we can say is that profitibility is the standard. Maybe there will be various judges and arbitration firms who would have contracts with enforcement agencies, being separate, maybe insurance agencies will provider arbiters and have their own built-in police and security departments, who knows.

 

And sorry I've heard of, but I haven't read the Heinlein book.

And the reason I asked those two questions is because I think I've read about what you're describing in that book.

The gist of it was that there was this society inside the moon, where there was always an airlock within walking distance and people who went around bullying people and violating rights tended to see the opposite side of them.  This caused everyone to be the nicest and most polite people you'd ever meet.  And whenever someone needed a judge to sort something out they'd hire someone at random to arbitrate for a few hours' salary.

Just an interesting thought.

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Does anyone know of a good explanation for exactly what objectivity requires?

Well it requires a lot of things. I think a common thread that runs through a lot of your questions is the age old principle that you cannot be a judge in your own case. From your quote I replied to before, this seems like a concern of yours. And certainly that is a principle that most people can understand and relate to. But notice that if that principle were implemented, it rules out having one single monopoly agency or government. So that scenario you described where someone is his own judge jury and executioner is the status quo.
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Well actually, if you're the victim of some crime then I think you're THE best judge for that case.  (you already have all the evidence and know all the facts; you actually experienced it!)  But obviously, the accused can't be the judge (who would ever find themselves guilty?) and objectivity requires that, if someone's violated your rights, you prove it to everyone else before you punish them.  The problem I really run into is when a third party, neither criminal nor victim, steps in and tries to help.

But that would actually be applicable to the status quo because if, for instance, someone kills a cop then the government can (and does!) take matters into its own hands.  But if someone accuses the government of something then the only recourse is some other branch of the government which obviously, under the current circumstances, is somewhat less than ideal.  That's part of why I'm partial towards "pO'ism"; if the wrong people get into power and stay in power, who defends the citizens from them?

 

I'm still not sure where I stand on the whole thing, yet.  But I do know that in order to figure that out I need a better idea of what objectivity requires and why.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Well actually, if you're the victim of some crime then I think you're THE best judge for that case.  (you already have all the evidence and know all the facts; you actually experienced it!)  But obviously, the accused can't be the judge (who would ever find themselves guilty?) and objectivity requires that, if someone's violated your rights, you prove it to everyone else before you punish them.  The problem I really run into is when a third party, neither criminal nor victim, steps in and tries to help.

 

"With injured parties judging their own cases, however, there would be a tendency for these judges to exact more than enough compensation for their damages...The former aggressors, perceiving that an injustice has been done to them, judge their own case and punish the punishers. If the injury is more than compensated for, then the aggression-overcompensation cycle could continue indefinitely. To rid themselves of this cycle, men establish independent and impartial arbitration institutions to decide cases." -Fielding

 

Well no, we cannot say a priori how it would work.

 

Well, ok. Here's an example from Fielding: Smith wrongs Jones. Jones hires a fair judge on the free market, and that judge finds Smith guilty. Smith doesn't like the verdict, so he hires his brother as a judge. The brother finds Smith not guilty. What happens now? According to Fielding, Jones can "grab his shotgun and seize part of Smith's property in compensation for Jones's injuries." Further, "Other members of the society may [...] inflict injuries on [smith] without having to pay compensation."

Doesn't this sound like a step back from civilized society? 1. Jones has to personally act (err- threaten Smith with a shotgun) to get what he's owed. (This assumes that Smith isn't armed and ready to shoot Jones for trespassing on his property.) 2. Jones is somewhat relying on 'society' to be on his side and ostracize Smith. That might be realistic in a very, very small town, but I don't see it happening anywhere else. (For instance, imagine all the robberies that happen in New York everyday. Who has time to listen to all the he-said-she-saids of a case, try to objectively determine who's in the wrong, and 'inflict injuries' upon that party?)

 

Contrast this with our current court system: both parties would still get legal representation, and would have their case tried in a single court, with a single judge and jury of peers (who are not related to either party). The evidence is presented and a verdict is reached. If Smith is found guilty, he is forced to pay Jones whether he likes it or not, or he'll go to jail. As Fielding says, "[the courts] decisions are backed by force." This option sounds better to me, because Jones doesn't have to worry about society being on his side, or threatening Smith with a gun. Further, even though Smith is a dirty thief, he doesn't have to worry about everyone and their mother 'inflicting injuries' upon him. He is forced to pay what he owes Jones, and (theoretically) everyone can go home happy. No need for guns, or threats, or anything like that.

 

So.. what am I missing? Why do you prefer the former option?

Edited by mdegges
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[A]ny governmental right to any action it takes MUST come from the individuals it's meant to defend; its citizens.

Because if there were some arcane wellspring of "Federal Authority" or something similar, for the rights of a proper (protective) government then there could exist a morally acceptable government, tasked with the safety and welfare of its citizens but authorized to use any and every means advised by its mystical source of rights.

This would result in Orwell's 1984 and be considered moral.

 

Yes, I think what you say is true. It is important to keep in mind that only individuals exist -- "government," like "society" only referring to a collection of individuals -- and the only rights which exist, or can exist, are individual rights, and belong to everyone.

 

So logically, anything the government can do, it's morally able to do BECAUSE its citizens not only hold those same right but have given it permission to excersize them, by proxy.

 

So individuals MUST have the right to the use of objective retaliatory force, necessarily.

 

Correct. If individuals did not have the right to the use of objective retaliatory force, then there would be no way for any government to have such a right.

 

That's part of why the argument I described earlier (retaliation is only moral when objective, objectivity is hard and time-consuming, delegating it is logical) would make so much sense.

 

I agree that such delegation is logical, provided that the agency to which one is delegating his right of self-defense to (in whole, or in part) is moral and objective (and provided that we understand that the individual does not thereby lose his rights). I don't know whether I would be correct in invoking Peikoff's essay on the "analytic/synthetic dichotomy" here, but I do not believe that it is enough to decide that "government is good, in theory; and it is logical to delegate certain rights to government" therefore one ought to delegate his rights in actuality to whatever local agency happens to currently wear the mantle of "government."

Governments only exist as particular, actual groups of individuals. They do not each act with the force of some sort of Ideal Law, but they have actual laws on their books which may or may not be consonant with rights, with reason and reality.

 

And since must the government derive its rights from those it protects (meaning they, ultimately, hold those rights and it acts on their permission), they could conceivably revoke its permission IF it failed to perform the required function.  So a criminal couldn't un-consent his rights back on his way to prison but, in certain cases, one person or several or the majority of the citizens could revoke their permission.

In reality, I believe that's referred to as "revolution!"

 

Yes, absolutely, although I think that there are potentially other means of "rebellion" that stop short of outright revolution, which may or may not be feasible or prudent in a given situation. At the least, the individual can withdraw his belief that his particular government has any moral authority over him, or any authority whatever that does not come from insurmountable physical force.

Whether such a person can reasonably vest his rights to another (proper, or "more proper") agency -- or must retain them fully for himself -- would depend on his actual situation, in reality. A man living in Nazi Germany might not be able to resist the government effectively on his own, and perhaps he cannot escape to better circumstances either, but neither would I say that he did not have his full right to self-defense, having ceded it to his government, or having had these rights stripped from him, because they belong to government, as such. He does not owe his government any allegiance, and should not recognize it as having any kind of legitimacy.

 

That's the conclusion I've reached at this point.

A government is useful for larger societies, but ultimately unnecessary.  What IS vitally necessary is OBJECTIVITY, which is the requirement for any individual or society or government to morally use retributive force.

 

Insofar as the objective use of retributive force is proper governance, then such governance is absolutely necessary. But what we have currently -- groups that claim control of force, but do not use it objectively, initiate force against their own citizens and others as a matter of routine, and call themselves "the government" -- that is not the goal, the aim, or anything better than a perennially dangerous half-measure.

 

So then, I guess the only question left would be how to implement that concretely, in reality.  But I'm guessing that's a rather sizeable question, isn't it?

 

It's enormous. And at the least, to begin to approach it seriously, we would need a far better culture -- the citizenry would need to be generally receptive to such a thing, because it cannot be imposed from the top down and be expected to last, or work as intended.

In the meantime, I think it's best for an individual living here and now and in these circumstances (where the majority is unlikely to wake up Objectivst tomorrow) to understand his actual relationship to his actual government, and not pretend like it is the avatar of some sort of special authority that sets it apart from any other individual or collection of individuals. Currently it is simply the gang with the most guns.

 

Well sure, "government" and "anarchy," in the sense you describe here, are both "anti-concepts" in the Randian sense of "two meanings, with the proper meaning serving to cover and to smuggle the improper one into people's minds." If I am right that sometimes by "government" Rand simply means (eg., in her official definition) "the state" (or "one monopoly agency") and sometimes "law and order" then she is packaged-dealing governance (or law and order itself) and monopoly and is therefore guilty of question begging. Which I think she is. Most of her criticisms of anarchy are accusations of lack of law and order. Which would make sense given the above packaged-dealing. So yes, I think it's important to unpack those.

 

So if government means

 

(1)  an institution that holds the exclusive (monopoly) power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area

(2) law and order in general

 

and anarchy means

 

(1) lack of an institution that holds the exclusive (monopoly) power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area

(2) lack of law and order in general

 

Then market anarchy supports government (2), but not government (1), and conversely supports anarchy (1), but not anarchy (2).

 

But, at the same time I agree that Rand's official definition [government (1)] is the right (least confusing) one. And so, the least complicated thing to do is say government means "monopoly" and "anarchy" means "not having a government." That's all I mean by it when I use it.

 

What we're discussing here *is* largely semantics, I think. :)

Coming at this from a layman's position, I must confess that the first thing I associate with "anarchy" is a general lawlessness. I think my association is not uncommon. And since I know that to not be your position (at all), I guess I'm just looking for something that would be a better fit.

I wonder. Imagine a government: something similar to the United States, but the Constitution of which prohibits the initiation of the use of force, or contains the separation of state and economy, or however we'd have such a document worded to effect the Objectivist Politics in reality. Imagine now that the power to enforce this Constitution was invested equally among the citizens, in their capacity as a part of governance, so far as they enforce it in an objective manner (the details of which would be defined by the Constitution, i.e. "trial by jury" or whatever else).

How would you describe such a system? Would it be an example of a "monopoly government"? "Market Anarchy"? Would such a thing be any nearer or further away from that which you advocate?

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I wonder. Imagine a government: something similar to the United States, but the Constitution of which prohibits the initiation of the use of force, or contains the separation of state and economy, or however we'd have such a document worded to effect the Objectivist Politics in reality. Imagine now that the power to enforce this Constitution was invested equally among the citizens, in their capacity as a part of governance, so far as they enforce it in an objective manner (the details of which would be defined by the Constitution, i.e. "trial by jury" or whatever else).

How would you describe such a system? Would it be an example of a "monopoly government"? "Market Anarchy"? Would such a thing be any nearer or further away from that which you advocate?

Panarchy, from pan- universal governance.

 

I'd also make this constitution fixed and immutable, though.  There are only two things it needs to prohibit, force and fraud.  All other applications are simply a matter of identifying the two when you see them and acting accordingly.

So I wouldn't even give the unwashed masses any mechanism for creating new laws.  If you don't like something that someone's doing- prove exactly how it harms you or get over it.

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"With injured parties judging their own cases, however, there would be a tendency for these judges to exact more than enough compensation for their damages...The former aggressors, perceiving that an injustice has been done to them, judge their own case and punish the punishers. If the injury is more than compensated for, then the aggression-overcompensation cycle could continue indefinitely. To rid themselves of this cycle, men establish independent and impartial arbitration institutions to decide cases." -Fielding

 

 

Well, ok. Here's an example from Fielding: Smith wrongs Jones. Jones hires a fair judge on the free market, and that judge finds Smith guilty. Smith doesn't like the verdict, so he hires his brother as a judge. The brother finds Smith not guilty. What happens now? According to Fielding, Jones can "grab his shotgun and seize part of Smith's property in compensation for Jones's injuries." Further, "Other members of the society may [...] inflict injuries on [smith] without having to pay compensation."

Doesn't this sound like a step back from civilized society? 1. Jones has to personally act (err- threaten Smith with a shotgun) to get what he's owed. (This assumes that Smith isn't armed and ready to shoot Jones for trespassing on his property.) 2. Jones is somewhat relying on 'society' to be on his side and ostracize Smith. That might be realistic in a very, very small town, but I don't see it happening anywhere else. (For instance, imagine all the robberies that happen in New York everyday. Who has time to listen to all the he-said-she-saids of a case, try to objectively determine who's in the wrong, and 'inflict injuries' upon that party?)

 

Contrast this with our current court system: both parties would still get legal representation, and would have their case tried in a single court, with a single judge and jury of peers (who are not related to either party). The evidence is presented and a verdict is reached. If Smith is found guilty, he is forced to pay Jones whether he likes it or not, or he'll go to jail. As Fielding says, "[the courts] decisions are backed by force." This option sounds better to me, because Jones doesn't have to worry about society being on his side, or threatening Smith with a gun. Further, even though Smith is a dirty thief, he doesn't have to worry about everyone and their mother 'inflicting injuries' upon him. He is forced to pay what he owes Jones, and (theoretically) everyone can go home happy. No need for guns, or threats, or anything like that.

 

So.. what am I missing? Why do you prefer the former option?

Well I mean, I don't prefer that. Again, I don't think that all anarchies are necessarily libertarian. This just sounds like the same worries about vigilantism that HD had. Like I said to HD earlier, I think what you're worring about can be boiled down to the age-old principle of objective law that "you cannot be a judge in your own case."

 

So no, you shouldn't be allowed to "grab your shotgun" and settle things yourself, or allowed to get your brother to rule in your favor. My point is that vigilantism is an initiation of force because it violates procedural rights. We sometimes tend to think of rights violations in terms of who, in a dispute, is metaphysically the victim and who is metaphysically the aggressor. Which one, in fact, committed a rights-violation? Or not? But the point is, as per the thread I linked on vigilantism, the answer to that isn't perceptually self-evident. So, on top of a person's indivudal rights, in the sense of their right to person and property, we assert that people also have certain "procedural rights," such as a right to have one's guilt or innocence determined by a reliable epistemological procedure. It is not enough that a person be, in fact, metaphysically guilty, but that those inflicting the sentence must know he is guilty and prove it with just legal procedures. So, I would assert, no one has a right to inflict any retaliatory force otherwise, but note that none of this allows us to infer one single monopoly agency. (Such was the attempt of Robert Nozick, but unlike Objectivists who just tend to treat it as a self-evident assertion, he actually provided an argument for it, albiet an unsuccessful one.)

 

But anyway just think about it from a practical point of view, as I have been saying before with my points of "Rambo-style" self-enforcement, the community is not going to like anyone doing such things anyway, regardless of the fact that it violates procedural rights. No one is going to stand for someone just unilaterally saying hey that Smith guy is a criminal, I'm certain, so I'm gonna just "grab my shotgun" and get a bunch of my buddies and just break down his door and start doing whatever dispensing of justice I see fit. That's not a neighborly thing to do, your employer's not gonna like that, your insurance company is going to hear of your aggressive behavior and say, hey we heard your breaking down doors with shotgun in hand, I mean what the heck are you doing, it's just not smart to do that. So rather than do something like that, it's just better from a practical standpoint to have a professional agency come in, who are trained and equipped, who have non-lethal means to restrain and arrest someone, who aren't going to come in with guns blazing and escalate the situation.

 

And the same for the Smith side in your story. If Smith just goes to get his brother or uncle or friend or whatever to rule on a case, I mean, who in the community is going to accept such a verdict? I mean this is pretty obviously non-objective. The same enforcement agency is not just gonna go, oh hey, you got your brother to rule on the case, that's good enough for us, regulators mount up! Again, that wouldn't be smart obviously, so they would say hey, you have to appeal through generally accepted legal channels, you have to follow the law, you have to bring us an opinion from a reputable and neutral judge or set of judges overturning the Jones decision, or whatever, before we will act on your behalf. And the same for Jones. Then the legal community comes to a consensus as to whether or not this particular case is decided in Jones or Smith's favor.

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Yes, I think what you say is true. It is important to keep in mind that only individuals exist -- "government," like "society" only referring to a collection of individuals -- and the only rights which exist, or can exist, are individual rights, and belong to everyone.

 

 

Correct. If individuals did not have the right to the use of objective retaliatory force, then there would be no way for any government to have such a right.

 

 

I agree that such delegation is logical, provided that the agency to which one is delegating his right of self-defense to (in whole, or in part) is moral and objective (and provided that we understand that the individual does not thereby lose his rights). I don't know whether I would be correct in invoking Peikoff's essay on the "analytic/synthetic dichotomy" here, but I do not believe that it is enough to decide that "government is good, in theory; and it is logical to delegate certain rights to government" therefore one ought to delegate his rights in actuality to whatever local agency happens to currently wear the mantle of "government."

Governments only exist as particular, actual groups of individuals. They do not each act with the force of some sort of Ideal Law, but they have actual laws on their books which may or may not be consonant with rights, with reason and reality.

 

 

Yes, absolutely, although I think that there are potentially other means of "rebellion" that stop short of outright revolution, which may or may not be feasible or prudent in a given situation. At the least, the individual can withdraw his belief that his particular government has any moral authority over him, or any authority whatever that does not come from insurmountable physical force.

Whether such a person can reasonably vest his rights to another (proper, or "more proper") agency -- or must retain them fully for himself -- would depend on his actual situation, in reality. A man living in Nazi Germany might not be able to resist the government effectively on his own, and perhaps he cannot escape to better circumstances either, but neither would I say that he did not have his full right to self-defense, having ceded it to his government, or having had these rights stripped from him, because they belong to government, as such. He does not owe his government any allegiance, and should not recognize it as having any kind of legitimacy.

 

 

Insofar as the objective use of retributive force is proper governance, then such governance is absolutely necessary. But what we have currently -- groups that claim control of force, but do not use it objectively, initiate force against their own citizens and others as a matter of routine, and call themselves "the government" -- that is not the goal, the aim, or anything better than a perennially dangerous half-measure.

 

 

It's enormous. And at the least, to begin to approach it seriously, we would need a far better culture -- the citizenry would need to be generally receptive to such a thing, because it cannot be imposed from the top down and be expected to last, or work as intended.

In the meantime, I think it's best for an individual living here and now and in these circumstances (where the majority is unlikely to wake up Objectivst tomorrow) to understand his actual relationship to his actual government, and not pretend like it is the avatar of some sort of special authority that sets it apart from any other individual or collection of individuals. Currently it is simply the gang with the most guns.

 

 

What we're discussing here *is* largely semantics, I think. :)

Coming at this from a layman's position, I must confess that the first thing I associate with "anarchy" is a general lawlessness. I think my association is not uncommon. And since I know that to not be your position (at all), I guess I'm just looking for something that would be a better fit.

I wonder. Imagine a government: something similar to the United States, but the Constitution of which prohibits the initiation of the use of force, or contains the separation of state and economy, or however we'd have such a document worded to effect the Objectivist Politics in reality. Imagine now that the power to enforce this Constitution was invested equally among the citizens, in their capacity as a part of governance, so far as they enforce it in an objective manner (the details of which would be defined by the Constitution, i.e. "trial by jury" or whatever else).

How would you describe such a system? Would it be an example of a "monopoly government"? "Market Anarchy"? Would such a thing be any nearer or further away from that which you advocate?

Yeah sure, people always say "aww that's just semantics!" as if it's a bad thing, but a lot of disputes come down to different interpretations of the meanings of words.

 

My view on what you describe with the constitution is that it would be largely symbolic, but carry no real effect whatsoever. As I have pointed out before, there's a strange objectivist obsession with written constitutions, as if having things written on a piece of paper "codifies" it. HD speaks of "mak[ing] this constitution fixed and immutable." Well, how are you gonna do that? So long as people have free will, as objectivists think they do, then there is nothing on god's green earth that you can do to "make" it fixed and immutable. So, while paper guarantees of rights may have symbolic value, they are neither necessary (look at Britain) nor sufficient (look at Soviet Russia) to count as actual constitutional structure. What does count in terms of constitutional structure, is the actual institutions and patterns that people arrange themselves into.

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Yeah sure, people always say "aww that's just semantics!" as if it's a bad thing, but a lot of disputes come down to different interpretations of the meanings of words.

 

Yes, that's right. And when you're arguing for courts, rule of law, the reservation of force to retaliation, objective procedural rights, and etc., I believe that you are arguing for a form of government. Not a monopoly government -- not in this case -- but government nonetheless. Which is primarily why I believe that "anarchy" is a poor descriptor.

I think that when you use the term "anarchy," you can rely on being misunderstood by nearly everybody as to your actual position.

 

My view on what you describe with the constitution is that it would be largely symbolic, but carry no real effect whatsoever. As I have pointed out before, there's a strange objectivist obsession with written constitutions, as if having things written on a piece of paper "codifies" it.

 

Hmm. Well, strictly I think it does "codify," does it not?

But I don't think I'd be interested in a Constitution out of an "obsession," strange or otherwise, and I don't find that interpretation to be very charitable. I think that if you're going to set up a system (of government, or anything), it is helpful to know the principles that you mean to adhere to. And should you expect to work in concert with others, it is also a means of communicating your intentions to them. I think that for these (not particularly "obsessive") reasons, countries enact constitutions or other charters, as do businesses and churches; teachers construct rubrics, syllabi; people form mission statements, and etc.

None of this "binds" us magically to do the right thing, or whatever it is we've intended, but neither do I think that makes it useless. If the Constitution of the United States is "largely symbolic," that may be so, but such symbols themselves can have real effects, and I think that the Constitution has given real shape to the direction of the country. If you say that such a thing is "neither necessary nor sufficient," to protect rights, that's true. But neither is anything else of itself -- no structure you'd devise can guarantee that rights will be upheld into the future; all depends on the actual people involved, their understanding and ultimately their actions.

But framing such a Constitution would still be a first step towards the development of those institutions and procedural safeguards that would, hopefully, allow the system its best fighting chance against whim and passion.

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HD speaks of "mak[ing] this constitution fixed and immutable." Well, how are you gonna do that? So long as people have free will, as objectivists think they do, then there is nothing on god's green earth that you can do to "make" it fixed and immutable.

Yeah, and there's nothing whatsoever forcing anyone to adhere to any laws, whatsoever.  People are going to ultimately do whatever they want to do.

The only point to that would be to ensure that IF people want to live properly and IF they want to govern themselves, there's an explicit and concrete set of rules already laid out for how to do that.

And the only point to making it fixed and immutable would be so that a collectivist majority couldn't start rewriting it at will.

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Here's a different example, one that is more realistic and that will work better under your terms:

 

Smith is in a relationship with Jones' daughter. Smith kills the daughter a few days after he finds out she was cheating on him. Jones is pissed. He hires a judge who finds Smith guilty of murder, and Smith is sentenced to death. Now of course Smith doesn't like this ruling. He hires a judge who doesn't believe in the death penalty, and this judge also finds him guilty but sentences him to prison for a number of years. Both judges sit down and try to reach a consensus, but they both stick to their original verdicts and sentencing beliefs. So again, we're at a deadlock. What happens now?:

 

...Then the legal community comes to a consensus as to whether or not this particular case is decided in Jones or Smith's favor.

 

Ok... so we're relying on the 'legal community' to come to a consensus (ie: reach a final verdict and determine sentencing) that Jones and Smith must accept? How is this any different than our current legal system, where we have a judge and jury who reach a verdict that Jones and Smith must accept? The only difference I see is that in the former, we have multiple judges sitting around a fire trying to reach a consensus (which couldn't even be reached between just 2 judges), whereas in the latter we only have one judge and a jury of peers.

 

The former isn't better just because there's a bunch of judges deciding the fate of Smith- which, by the way, doesn't make the verdict or sentencing any more objective- it's just messier.

Edited by mdegges
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Here's a different example, one that is more realistic and that will work better under your terms:

 

Smith is in a relationship with Jones' daughter. Smith kills the daughter a few days after he finds out she was cheating on him. Jones is pissed. He hires a judge who finds Smith guilty of murder, and Smith is sentenced to death. Now of course Smith doesn't like this ruling. He hires a judge who doesn't believe in the death penalty, and this judge also finds him guilty but sentences him to prison for a number of years. Both judges sit down and try to reach a consensus, but they both stick to their original verdicts and sentencing beliefs. So again, we're at a deadlock. What happens now?:

 

 

Ok... so we're relying on the 'legal community' to come to a consensus (ie: reach a final verdict and determine sentencing) that Jones and Smith must accept? How is this any different than our current legal system, where we have a judge and jury who reach a verdict that Jones and Smith must accept? The only difference I see is that in the former, we have multiple judges sitting around a fire trying to reach a consensus (which couldn't even be reached between just 2 judges), whereas in the latter we only have one judge and a jury of peers.

 

The former isn't better just because there's a bunch of judges deciding the fate of Smith- which, by the way, doesn't make the verdict or sentencing any more objective- it's just messier.

 

   The two judges thing doesn't seem realistic. To get anything done in society you would have to subscribe to one of these agencies before hand. Someone who doesn't subscribe to any laws would not be hired at a job, let into school, or allowed to have a bank account. 

 

   So there wouldn't be two judges. There would be a single judge that their two agencies agreed was fair. 

 

  On punishment -

 

  A voluntarist society would most likely avoid the death penalty for all but the worst crimes. A man taking it upon himself to kill someone better have an extremely large amount of proof that he can show to the community, otherwise he may end up on trial for murder. 

 

 If someone looses a case, their company has to pay for their damages. This makes them a liability to their company. If a criminal wants to get on good terms with his company, he will need to live under conditions of their choosing. Thus the jail sentence would essentially send them to a place where they can work off their debts in peace and away from society. If they refuse to go to jail, they will become an outlaw, with no way of surviving. 

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"Panarchy"?

That's... pretty brilliant, actually.

Interesting to point out that this term has actually been used before historically. As far as we can know, the first theoritician of market anarchy is the Belgian liberal economist Gustave de Molinari. He did not call himself an anarchist, as the term was reserved for communists at the time. He had made the remark famously (in his day):

 

"Thus it is that, instead of absorbing the organism of society according to the revolutionary and communist conception, the municipality and the State are dissolved into this organism. … The future thus belongs neither to the absorption of society by the State, as the communists and collectivists suppose, nor to the suppression of the State, as the anarchists and nihilists dream, but to the diffusion of the State within society."

 

The term "panarchy" was first used by the Molinari follower, Paul Emile de Puydt in his essay of the same title.

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Here's a different example, one that is more realistic and that will work better under your terms:

 

Smith is in a relationship with Jones' daughter. Smith kills the daughter a few days after he finds out she was cheating on him. Jones is pissed. He hires a judge who finds Smith guilty of murder, and Smith is sentenced to death. Now of course Smith doesn't like this ruling. He hires a judge who doesn't believe in the death penalty, and this judge also finds him guilty but sentences him to prison for a number of years. Both judges sit down and try to reach a consensus, but they both stick to their original verdicts and sentencing beliefs. So again, we're at a deadlock. What happens now?:

 

 

Ok... so we're relying on the 'legal community' to come to a consensus (ie: reach a final verdict and determine sentencing) that Jones and Smith must accept? How is this any different than our current legal system, where we have a judge and jury who reach a verdict that Jones and Smith must accept? The only difference I see is that in the former, we have multiple judges sitting around a fire trying to reach a consensus (which couldn't even be reached between just 2 judges), whereas in the latter we only have one judge and a jury of peers.

 

The former isn't better just because there's a bunch of judges deciding the fate of Smith- which, by the way, doesn't make the verdict or sentencing any more objective- it's just messier.

Okay there's two points I see here. One is "how is this [consensus-finding] any different than our current legal system?" and the other is "isn't this just messier?"

 

Well on the first question, it's true that, in that regard, it isn't any different. And that's why this quest for a mythical "final arbiter" is wrong headed, because there is no such thing, not in the current system and not in market anarchy. The aspect that it is different in, is the absence of monopoly.

 

You say that it "doesn't make the verdict or sentencing any more objective," but I fear you have misapprehended the point. The point is not that a given legal process might be somehow more objective in anarchy than the exact same legal process under the current system. If a legal process is objective, then it's objective. But the point is which system has a superior political structure for ensuring objective legal legal processes are arrived at, and ensuring they are kept. And it is that respect that I think market anarchy is superior to both the current political structure and limited government.

 

Now you ask if the free market version just isn't messier? Well what is meant by "messy?"

 

First is to remember that your example makes it seem like this "deadlock" just sort of happened out of the blue. One legal opinion says executions are A-OK, the other says life is the max. Boom, what now? Well it's not like no one could see this coming, there will be a vast network of interlocking arbitration agreements that will be in place prior to any such trial or case begins such that people getting involved will know what the stakes are. Practices will already be hammered out and known beforehand (and I see this is the gist of Hairnet's post.) So if "messy" translates to "uncertainty," then this is unlikely.

 

Also it's not as if debates over the legitimacy of the death penalty don't occur already, so I can return to you "how is that different than the current system?" The answer can be "but we have ways of dealing with it under the current system," but again, so do we under market anarchy, and the question is then which system has better incentives for dealing with such disagreements over conflicting views of justice in a way that is (1) peaceful, and (2) consistent with individual rights? Is monopoly better for that?

 

So if you're saying that people are peaceful enough to just agree and be like, well I'm all for executions, and you're against them, but hey, I'll agree not to do violence against you, and you agree to disagree peacefully with me, and we'll just organize these occasional elections, and we'll all agree to abide by the results as long as it's fair... if you're saying that people are peaceful enough to do that, then why wouldn't the exact same people also be capable of solving it in a free market order, just without all the bad consequences that come along with democracy and monopoly?

 

But I think that, in some sense, "messy"  may simply mean "decentralized," then I disagree that this is a gripe, rather than a positive thing. And this might go back to your post on the necessity of state laws, but Objectivists seem to have this overly rosy (to say the least) view of government and centralization. If we Objectivists can just get in control of government, then we can be a benign protector of individual rights, that an Objectivist government ought to have central control and "final say" of all legal disputes. Anything involving a decentralized "judge found" or non legislative legal system, or even the federalism of having fifty state policies, strikes Objectivists as too "messy." It's just not neat! The belief seems to be that a central legal body should have the authority for a final say, even if it gets it wrong. But again, I question whether such a "final arbiter" is even possible, and I question whether a centralized system of legislative law is really compatible with the values a free market system is supposed to uphold such as separation of powers, checks and balances, and respect for individual rights (one can consult the "state law" thread for my comments.)

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If objective law is to be the final arbiter of rights violations and civil disputes, doesn't that make it(law) a monopoly power? I doubt anyone would agrue that civilised society could exist without objective law and institutions that are designed to preserve it. Market anarchy or quasi-autonomous polylegal systems or arguements for them seem to come from the idea that a profit can be derived from their adminstration of 'justice'. But isn't the protections provided for by such agencies necessarily all cost , pure consumption ? How could any agency or institution perform any of the required actions on a profit motive? Is there profit in crime?

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By 'messy' I just meant that more people are involved in reaching a verdict.

 

First is to remember that your example makes it seem like this "deadlock" just sort of happened out of the blue. One legal opinion says executions are A-OK, the other says life is the max. Boom, what now? Well it's not like no one could see this coming, there will be a vast network of interlocking arbitration agreements that will be in place prior to any such trial or case begins such that people getting involved will know what the stakes are. Practices will already be hammered out and known beforehand (and I see this is the gist of Hairnet's post.) So if "messy" translates to "uncertainty," then this is unlikely.

 

This is something I haven't seen mentioned- I'm going to come back to this once I've read more about market anarchy's actual implementation (which is not described in much detail in the pdfs you linked to in the other thread. Maybe a Rothbard book will do a better job.)

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I realized something earlier that I haven't seen anyone else mention, yet.  And it could be the simplest and most singularly damning refutation of anarchism out there, unless I'm mistaken somewhere in it.  (it prompted my own realization that anarchy actually isn't proper to man's life)

So is this accurate?

 

To clarify briefly, I'm talking about a very specific variety of anarchism which is identical to O'ism in metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, but obviously not politics.  (like Roy Childs)  I'll call it proto-Objectivism; abbreviated pO'ism.

Someone would reach the conclusion of pO'ism by an irrational surplus of optimism, a touch of epistemological sloppiness and utter ignorance to the meaning and purpose of objectivity, as it applies to politics and a society.  (at least those; there may be more)

For myself it was really, literal ignorance.  When I read about "objective laws" and the "objective use of retaliatory force" I thought it meant objective, as in true-to-reality and rational. It's taken me two days just to wrap my mind around the actual meaning of it.

But I digress.  Ayn Rand's philosophy, (to the best of my knowledge) without any concept of POLITICAL objectivity and distorted thusly (it's really not a very large or noticeable perversion) would logically lead one to pO'ism.  Hence the name, proto-Objectivism; a stunted little philosophy which was/ is attempting to become Objectivism, but hasn't made it there yet.

So that's my terminology and that's the difference between the two.  There appear to be quite a few threads on this forum, usually debating the necessity of a government, in which the anarchists are implicitly referring to pO'ism.  And that's also the kicker because the subtle misrepresentations and that one little deletion are readily visible whenever they discuss retributive force.

You know what I'm referring to.

And the usual Objectivist objections to it are true (it would lead to endless feuding and bloodshed), but without that crucial concept it's very easy to chalk that up to irrational people doing stupid things, or any number of other personal flaws, and dismiss it altogether.  Without that concept, even if one was shown conclusive proof that wholesale slaughter would ensue, it would still feel like a betrayal to concede the point; it seems far more like the moral-practical false dichotomy, and someone who thinks that human beings are good enough simply govern themselves isn't likely to abandon his morals in the name of the practical.  (hence the endless, volumous threads already devoted to this argument, in which nobody convinces anyone of anything)

 

But what I realized this morning was that not only WOULD bloodshed ensue, but in a pO'ist society it SHOULD!!  In any case of ambiguous legality, wholesale slaughter would result, not from human flaws or vices, but from their VIRTUES!!!

 

Imagine a hypothetical pO'ist society in which almost every member holds that same philosophy explicitly and attempts to practice it, in reality, on Earth.  There is no government.  The people defend their own rights and when they're violated they avenge their own rights, without trials or supervision.

One morning in pO'ville, Adam goes outside to get his newspaper when he notices someone talking to his neighbor, Bob, on his doorstep.  He can't help but overhear the stranger's vague remarks about bad things happening to good people's homes.

The stranger is actually a man named Charlie, who sells home insurance door-to-door.  But Adam has no way of knowing that at this point.

When Bob hands Charlie a thick wad of cash the salesman enters his address into a database on his smartphone, thus insuring him.

Adam sees the transaction and, due to it's shady overtones and Bob's history, immediately realizes that he is witnessing an act of extortion.  Acting as the defender of Bob's rights he pulls out a gun and shoots Charlie in the leg, before running over and returning Bob's cash.  (Bob, the only immoral citizen in pO'ville, thanks his neighbor profusely)

At that moment Dan, a competing salesman who was canvassing one street over, runs over to investigate the screaming from several seconds prior.  Seeing Charlie lying in a pool of his own blood and perfectly still (passed out from pain/trauma) he whips out his blowgun and fires a poison dart at Adam.

Adam dies promptly.  Dan walks over to Bob and asks him what happened; Bob explains to him that Adam had stolen all of his priceless porcelain and hidden it in his house and, when confronted by Charlie, had shot him where he stood.  Dan, true to his ruthless dedication to justice, helps Bob retrieve his "stolen" belongings.

 

And so, in a society like that:

-Adam dies horribly, because he attempted to stop injustice from occurring

-Dan, for the same reasons as Adam, commits murder and theft and later has a bounty placed on him by Adam's wife

-Charlie is wounded and robbed in the street for no reason whatsoever

-Bob becomes much richer for the entire episode, because of his treachery

 

I probably could've come up with better examples, but whatever.  The point is that not only would anarchy proliferate pillaging and slaughter; it would specifically do the most damage to the most virtuous!!

 

If person A kills C in self-defense, and B witnesses the act (but misinterprets it as murder) he SHOULD, by the pO'ist logic, punish A himself.  If he attacks him but A sees him coming in advance, then A should kill B in self-defense (again) and B should kill A to avenge C.

So A should kill B AND B should kill A.  In which, regardless of the outcome, justice and injustice will be enacted.

 

So anyway, I'm not sure what to make of this.  Is there something to that?

 

 

how is a government going to prevent such misunderstanding?

this situation can easily happen with or without government.

 

all a government could do is make a judgement in the aftermath, not prevent these events from happening.

a government does not neccicarily even need to give a different judgement than private companies providing the same services.

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how is a government going to prevent such misunderstanding?

this situation can easily happen with or without government.

It could.  It's much more likely to happen without one, but it could always happen in any group of people.

 

I'm actually still not quite sure where I stand on it, yet.  I've realized that before jumping into politics as if I automatically understand it (which was something I actually hadn't stopped to question until after I started this thread) I need to sit down and formulate it explicitly, first.

Not that Rand needs reformulating at all, but there's enough ambiguity between the big points that I need to work it out for myself to see why she reached her conclusions and what it all stands on.

(Individual rights are the starting point, individuals cannot be allowed to avenge themselves is towards the end. . . I think there are some very specific and very important things between there that I've missed, along the way)

 

At the time I wrote this I had my own idea of the perfect society (or as perfect as human beings could live in) and I realized that it would hurt people according to their effort towards supporting it and reward the people who didn't.  But at this point I'm really not sure what this applies to, if anything at all.

 

I'm still working on it.

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