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My Objectivist Refutation of Anarchism

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Anarchism is immoral & impossible for namely three reasons. 1)There is no rule of law and no ban on the initiation of force and aggression. 2)You have to have the backing of the rule of law to stop the initiation of force and aggression. 3)A market on the use of force is objectively immoral and illegitimate. 

Anarchism merely confuses the objective distinction between proper government and improper government. A proper government is a government that upholds the rule of law and bans the initiation of force and aggression from entering the market. An improper government is a government that initiates force and aggression. The Anarchists will say all governments even the proper kind of government is objectively immoral, but this cannot be so. It is objectively immoral to initiate force and aggression, but the only body that can legally ban its use is a government formed by its proper functions of upholding the law and abiding to the law and banning the use of initiatied force and aggression. A market seperated by competitive defense contractor businesses cannot enforce the law, only the government can, which is subsequently why anarchy is a floating abstraction and fictional concept which can never work in objective reality. In practice anarchism is violence and aggression against individuals rights.

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I take it this is a first draft, and you are looking for comments so that you can improve your argument. Here are my suggestions. First, simply asserting a contrary position is not making an argument, it just makes us aware of an alternative position. What more-perceptible facts support your claim over the contrary claim?

My recommendation is to begin by clearly and accurately stating what the common premises are, and what the essential difference is between the two positions. The argument against anarchism then has to be based on that difference. The essential difference is that Anarchism holds that government is not necessary, in order to maintain a rights-respecting society, Objectivism holds that it is necessary. We know for certain that Objectivism allows and requires use of force by the government to prevent the initiation of force, and to retaliate against the initiation of force. We don’t actually know what Anarchism “says” about self-defense and retaliation, but at least certain strands of libertarian-anarchism such as Tannehill anarchism allow for non-governmental use of force. I have never encountered “roll over and die” anarchism that requires you to lay down and take the beating if someone initiates force against you, but maybe there is such a sub-belief. Since Anarchism is not a coherent philosophy, you are strategically doomed if you try to cover every belief that some person labeling himself as “anarchist” believes in or does. State your premises as to what Anarchism says.

In Rand’s lecture on Objective law (it’s out there somewhere probably on the ARI website, maybe someone has a link), she states the essential property of objective law as being where every man knows what is forbidden, and what the consequences are for doing the forbidden. Anarchism denies the validity of this principle: what follows from that? A crazy theory is that therefore, nobody knows what’s forbidden, and most right-leaning anarchists deny that, they refer you back to the non-initiation of force principle. The alternative, which those Anarchists do tend to believe, is that man has innate knowledge that allows them to know right from wrong. As for consequences of initiating force, I can’t say that I’ve encountered a systematic Anarchist treatment of the proper consequences of theft, rape, or fraud. Since they deny the validity of objective law, either the consequences are arbitrary, or we have magical innate knowledge that spells out the consequence for violation of rights.

Here is a practical domain that distinguishes the Anarchist view of protection of rights and the Objectivist view. I wrote a book, the book is my property, I make money from the sales of that book – it’s part of the means of my survival. In an Objectivist world (and the world we live in), my right to the book is codified in objective copyright law. You may not make and sell copies of my book without my permission. If you do, the government will force you to compensate me, and it will punish you in a specific way. What about Anarchism? I can hire an enforcement squad which will not only defend my actual rights w.r.t. the book, it can create new rights based on my “innate knowledge” and reasoning about my “true rights”. For example, I can declare that resale of my book requires payment of royalties to me. The squad can award to me compensation that is much greater than is recognized under law, therefore it could decide that death or at least torture is the propert penalty for copyright infringement. Naturally, the infringer has his own squad, which takes a different view.

If you deny the validity of objective law, that means there is no control over the use of force. Now go back to the supposedly shared premise, the non-initiation of force principle. There is a direct contradiction, that Anarchism seeks to both not have initiation of force in society, and to say that there is no objective principle that governs the use of force. Although most Anarchists are not pacifists, I believe that roll-over and die is the only principle that is compatible with Anarchism. That is, Anarchism make a different choice for the most fundamental question, Life, versus Death.

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I agree with everything you said thanks for the solid imput. I would like to also highlight that Anarchists also hold moral subjectivity in terms of their ethics which is also quite contrary to Objectivists who hold that morality is rooted in objective reality and man's faculty to reason. I am still learning how to go about articulating myself in a clear and concise manner. I am not sure though I want to debate with anarchists anymore, as I don't want to sanction their immoral beliefs, but thanks for the pointers anyway. I am in the process of taking courses on Objectivism, so my arguments might be a bit noob, but with time effort I will improve in that area.

Edited by Luke77
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  • 1 year later...

Anarchists saying that the proper government, which is a government that only use retaliatory force (the self-defense kind of force) to protect individual rights, is bad just because it is a monopoly on violence, is nonsense. Specially if the government is funded by voluntarily means ("voluntary taxes"). Anarchist have a phobia. 



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  • 2 weeks later...

Luke77 may have initiated a side of an argument with less evidence,

but that does not mean no evidence.

Luke77's point about anarchism being a floating abstraction is actually strong.

The evidence comes from either logic or experience, take your pick.

Luke77 provides the logic, the French Revolution provides the experience.

Not much more needs to be argued.

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Ms. Rand herself uses weak evidence to make a strong point.

"Imagine you rob a house and the government you pay for says you didn't rob that house."


Actually, the real point is that anarchists tend not to have strong arguments in the first place,

so that it is easy for a Randian minarchist to win the debate, even with weak (even anecdotal) evidence.

I've studied quite a bit of Anarchist literature in my youth.

It's typically concerned with lamentations about why the state is so bad.

Meanwhile, that same state is securing your right to purchase and read anarchist literature

without some private government accusing you of being a seditious dissident and capturing you

and keeping you in prison until the next government comes along and murders you.

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