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What is the best reply to this argument from anarchists?

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In a country where the sole purpose of the government is to retaliate against those who have initiated the use of force, the government must necessarily bar the entrance of competitors in the realm of force. Even though it's true that one wouldn't necessarily be forced to pay for the services provided by the government, the fact that an individual is forcibly prevented from starting their own police agency is a violation of the non-aggression principle. For this reason, there arises a contradiction in the way that the Objectivist ethics are implemented politically since the claim is that initiatory force is immoral.

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It's a bad argument. In the first place, Rand never used "the NAP." You won't find the words in her corpus. And libertarians themselves don't even agree on what is entailed in, or if there even is, a NAP. Suffice it to say, there is no "the" NAP. So it is quite open to Rand to say, "So what? I am not committed to 'the NAP' so I am not bothered if you think I'm breaking it."

But more importantly, it begs the question. What counts as initiation of force depends, partly, on what rights people have. Assuming people have the right to exercise their own extrajudicial force is the very question at issue. 

This style of argumentation was first employed by Childs (1969), back when hope was to convince followers of Rand to join the anarchist wing of the US libertarian movement, by showing that principles that Rand commit herself to lead to anarchism. If only we could find a way, just from the armchair, to show there's a contradiction, without having to get into the muddy waters of legal philosophy and epistemic standards. It influenced Nozick (1974) to create an argument showing how by premises acceptable to the anarchists themselves, one would end up with a government. And so on, with each accusing the other of contradiction. One can't really solve the issue by trying such a simple maneuver. But there is such temptation for easy answers.

 

Edited by 2046
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The argument drops an important aspect of Rand's position. She writes: "A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control--i.e., under objectively defined laws." People aren't prevented from starting their own cities with their own police forces, or on a smaller scale, their own private security companies.  And, smaller still, people retain the rights of self-defense and citizen's arrest. They're prevented, however, from creating laws and taking actions that violate the Constitution under which the state or nation is organized.

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12 hours ago, RationalEgoist said:

In a country where the sole purpose of the government is to retaliate against those who have initiated the use of force, the government must necessarily bar the entrance of competitors in the realm of force. Even though it's true that one wouldn't necessarily be forced to pay for the services provided by the government, the fact that an individual is forcibly prevented from starting their own police agency is a violation of the non-aggression principle. For this reason, there arises a contradiction in the way that the Objectivist ethics are implemented politically since the claim is that initiatory force is immoral.

In a proper limited government people join in voluntarily. It's a voluntary contract that one joins in on to institute a single governmental institution. People are free to leave at any time, and start their own agency of force elsewhere, so there is no violation of the non-aggression principle.

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24 minutes ago, intrinsicist said:

In a proper limited government people join in voluntarily. It's a voluntary contract that one joins in on to institute a single governmental institution. People are free to leave at any time, and start their own agency of force elsewhere, so there is no violation of the non-aggression principle.

"I think I'm discovering a new continent, Gwen," he answered cheerfully. "A continent that should have been discovered along with America, but wasn't."

Elsewhere, presumably, being outside the geographical domain of an existing government's geographical coverage?

Edited by dream_weaver
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10 hours ago, 2046 said:

In the first place, Rand never used "the NAP." You won't find the words in her corpus. And libertarians themselves don't even agree on what is entailed in, or if there even is, a NAP. Suffice it to say, there is no "the" NAP. So it is quite open to Rand to say, "So what? I am not committed to 'the NAP' so I am not bothered if you think I'm breaking it."

Right, it's true that she didn't. I was merely using libertarian lingo, but perhaps you understood this. I do think the term "non-aggression axiom" is used somewhere in her writings, although I could be mistaken here.

I suppose the anarchist could say something like "Well, she did oppose initiatory force on moral grounds regardless of whether she explicitly advocated the non-aggression principle or not. By using force to shut down my private police force, the government is initiating force against me". Let me know your thoughts on this if you deem it to be worthy of a response. 

10 hours ago, 2046 said:

But more importantly, it begs the question. What counts as initiation of force depends, partly, on what rights people have. Assuming people have the right to exercise their own extrajudicial force is the very question at issue. 

Great point. I don't believe exercising extrajudicial force by whim is a right we possess. I think I'm struggling to formulate a complete argument to back this up though. Perhaps I need to return to Rand's own writings on this issue.

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@RationalEgoist

Accepting that police operate as a judicial and executive system for the government of a city, town, or district; for the preservation of rights, orderliness, etc.; which laws and under which court system is said rogue police department going to deliver their charges to, and examine their egresses under? 

Private security options do exist under the current civil framework. Avenues of arbitration do as well (i.e.; privatized 'courts'.) What are you elucidating that hasn't likely been parsed out elsewhere on this forum?

 

Edited by dream_weaver
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Anarchy ignores the concept of government—a monopoly on the use of physical force. Whoever is an a position to weild physical force autonomously IS the governor. The “private physical force entity” in the anarchist thought experiment IS a government.

Edited by happiness
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13 hours ago, happiness said:

Anarchy ignores the concept of government—a monopoly on the use of physical force.

The one error I have to point out in your comment is that anarchism does not ignore the concept of government, it misunderstands the concept. The anarchist position denies the validity of government, but has not resolved the problem of thieves under anarchy. One view is that anarchy is a utopian ideal, which can exist only when no person would ever use force – it’s a Platonic form towards which we might strive, but it is excruciatingly unlikely that it will ever exist. A closely related next-most surreal form of anarchism, sour grapes anarchism, declares that anyone using force has ipso facto become a government. If you steal my stuff, you have become a taxing government. The third circle of anarchism, more familiar to us because it is widely held in libertarian anarcho-capitalist circles, maintains that there is no special entity, government, which has a rightful monopoly on the use of force. Instead, anyone can rightfully use force, as long as they do not initiate use of force.

The point about wielding force “autonomously” is obscured by the unmodified use of the word “force”. The problem is that if some jackass threatens me with a knife, I have to act autonomously right then and there, and will not roll over and get stabbed to death because I don’t have the right to use force on the premise that only the government can use force. It is very important that we not suggest that the Objectivist ethics requires you to roll over and die when attacked (Objectivism is not pacifism). Rather, the use of force is to be put under the control of objective law. Objective law mandates that force only be chosen by certain agents of the government who compare the facts and the law to see if force is justified, but it also provides an exception for life-threatening emergencies, where you can defend yourself if attacked.

I know that interjecting law as an intermediary complicates the computation of rightful use of force, but it is an essential complication. Force is to be under the control of objective law. The government states what that law is. A proper philosophy is necessary for the government to devise proper laws.

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On 1/14/2021 at 10:24 AM, DavidOdden said:

The anarchist position denies the validity of government, but has not resolved the problem of thieves under anarchy. One view is that anarchy is a utopian ideal, which can exist only when no person would ever use force – it’s a Platonic form towards which we might strive, but it is excruciatingly unlikely that it will ever exist.

I would agree that anarchism does not include the sociopath/criminal within its society. It also does not deal with "the external threat". But it does not have to be utopian to describe something functional.

If we look at anarchy as a point within the continuum of a third party management, as in zero management being anarchy, vs. one hundred percent micromanagement being a dictatorship, anarchy can "possibly" represent something "functional and desirable" that actually exists. (not utopian)

We can play a game of volleyball without a referee. Without a referee it does not have to descend into chaos. One could say that would be playing it in an anarchist fashion. Or let us say 6 people are having lunch at a restaurant. One can have police patrol the restaurant or not. If there are no police that could be considered anarchist. In other words, anarchism can be a description of governance among friends, which implies self government, or no third party government, self management.

When people know the rules and are used to them, abide by them through cultural habit, one does not need active third party authority directing interactions.

For instance, one could have different levels of authority when it comes to car traffic at a cross-road/intersection. There could be different levels of active third party management as in:

  • a cop directing traffic (third party cop managing, highest authority, minimum anarchy)
  • active stop lights
  • stop signs where the drivers have to manage themselves (lowest authority, maximum anarchy) 

On a macro level, since we do not have a world government, we in a sense have anarchy already. Most nations are autonomous but not at war. This anarchy sometimes consists of wars and sometimes when there is a balance of power, peace.

Anarchy is usually used to describe chaos, but they are not the same, which does allow for an exploration or understanding of it's desirability.

We can, should, and do have anarchy in certain situations.

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On 1/14/2021 at 10:24 AM, DavidOdden said:

One view is that anarchy is a utopian ideal, which can exist only when no person would ever use force – it’s a Platonic form towards which we might strive, but it is excruciatingly unlikely that it will ever exist. A closely related next-most surreal form of anarchism, sour grapes anarchism, declares that anyone using force has ipso facto become a government. If you steal my stuff, you have become a taxing government. The third circle of anarchism, more familiar to us because it is widely held in libertarian anarcho-capitalist circles, maintains that there is no special entity, government, which has a rightful monopoly on the use of force. Instead, anyone can rightfully use force, as long as they do not initiate use of force.

I'm interested in what you take to be the paradigmatic representatives of each of your circles. 

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  • 8 months later...

RationalEgoist,

The anarchist argument only stands up in theory, but not in reality,

whereas the Objectivist theory of government is robust in theory and also in reality.

The reason there is a conflict is because anarchism is logically sound,

however you can never put it into practice.

Objectivism, on the other hand, is meant to provide satisfaction to the mind (resolute soundness),

and also to the natural needs of a rational man and a free society.

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