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Anarchy Vs. Government

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nimble
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Here is what I was thinking the rules would be.

1. No personal attacks and posts must remain friendly.

2. Responses should first address the response of the previous poster, then continue on to make a point of its own.

3. Responses should be pretty free in general, so that it kind of mocks reality and how one would deal with this type of discussion in the real world (since the point of this subforum is to show people how to be activists).

4. Stick to the issue, use opinion, history, fact, and citations (if possible) when quoting others.

5. When a point is thoroughly refuted, drop that argument.

6. I have a feeling that our disagreement will stem from another branch of philosophy, if we uncover that that is the case, then please let's hold off on this argument and move to the appropriate branch of philosophy. Since philosophy builds on itself, we should address the more fundamental issues before moving to the higher ones that way observers and arguers fully understand where there position comes from and how one arrives at that position.

7. Oh, and one last rule. Responses should be within about 48 hours. If a poster leaves the debate for an extended period of time, the debate will be considered to be over.

And as for the actual argument itself, I will leave AisA to make the positive case for government since he is making the positive claim that governments should exist, thus the onus of proof is on him.

Well, I will leave it to you. I look forward to your response.

Nimble (I do hold the position that anarchy is morally favorable to government, so I am NOT playing devil's advocate).

EDIT to add rule 7.

Edited by nimble
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And as for the actual argument itself, I will leave AisA to make the positive case for government since he is making the positive claim that governments should exist, thus the onus of proof is on him.

Nimble, your rules look good to me. I will begin by making two points.

1) Objectivism's case for government has been made by Miss Rand in her essay, "The Nature of Government" published in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Since that is the official Objectivist position, my primary contribution to this debate will be to defend and expound upon Miss Rand’s own words.

So, to begin with, have you read that essay? What is your response to both the arguments and the examples Miss Rand offers?

2) In addition, I want to make a point about something you wrote in another thread. (This is not an exhaustive argument against anarchy. Just a response to one issue.)

You stated that government is inherently coercive (in the absence of universal agreement from every individual in the country) because it maintains a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force and permits no competition. In essence, you are claiming that individuals have a right to compete in the use of retaliatory force.

Rights are conditions that must exist, vis-à-vis other men, if man the rational being is to survive. Any alleged right, the exercise of which inherently creates conditions inimical to man’s survival, cannot be a right.

The right to compete in the use of retaliatory force would mean, among other things, the right to determine what constitutes the initiation of force. The initiation of force often takes the form of a threat. For instance, a mugger says, “I have a gun in my pocket. Give me your money or I will shoot you”. Even though there was no physical contact, even though he didn’t actually shoot you, the mugger has initiated the use of force. Thus, the right to compete in the use of retaliatory force would mean the right to determine what constitutes a threat.

It would mean that person “A” could decide that a threat consists of a suspicious look and bulge in one’s pocket that might be a weapon. It would mean that person “A” could decide that the proper response to such a threat is to shoot first and ask questions later.

No one can claim the right to carry a gun and unilaterally decide who is a threat and how to respond. Such an action is itself inherently threatening and constitutes the initiation of force. By prohibiting such action, government is prohibiting the initiation of force. Thus, there is no such thing as the right to compete with government.

Even if the would-be competitor is perfectly rational and enforces only rational laws, the fact remains that you have granted the same right to the less-than-rational. If one man can declare his intent to create and enforce his own laws -- and if there is no central agency to act as the final arbiter of disputes -- then any man can do the same.

Removing the monopoly on the use of retaliatory force creates a threat to everyone -- the threat of force guided by the whims, wishes, feelings and arbitrary conclusions reached by the worst of the competitors. No one can claim the right to create such a threat.

(There is a right, under certain conditions, to overturn and replace a government. But that is not the same as competing with it.)

Government does (should) permit the private use of retaliatory force in emergencies. Even then, however, the individual’s actions are subject to review by the government against an objective standard to determine whether the use of force was justified. Citizens have a right to carry firearms for self-defense. But they cannot claim the right to unilaterally determine when and how retaliatory force is to be used.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Yes I have read this essay. I will address the parts I think are most important and then we will go from there, okay?

-Rand states in the first sentence that "A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area."

First, I would like to point out that a government is composed of men of free will. I will grant that it is more than just the men that compose it; it includes the functions and limitations designed into it as well (through a constitution). However a constitution is not necessary to have objective law (Great Britain), nor is it any type of real restraint (even Soviet Russia had constitutional limits on its government, yet the government completely ignored those limits) Long, Anarchism as Constitutionalism. I only point this out because I want to dispell a common misconception that government is somehow a more objectively defined institution than any other. It too is no better than the people in the government.

Second, I ask if a government enforces rules and has an EXCLUSIVE power to do so, in an area, how do governments function inside of governments, such as the states and our federal government? This leads me to another point I would like to make about secession. Let's say the southern states disagree with the northern states about death penalty or some other debatable issue, so they secede. Then suppose Mississippi leaves that union because they disagree about abortion, and so on and so on branching off into smaller and smaller governments, what is there to logically stop these secessions from creating tons of small essentially competing governments?

2)

  In essence, you are claiming that individuals have a right to compete in the use of retaliatory force.
I am merely claiming that men have a right to retaliate against those who initiate force against them. I will quote Rand's essay to illustrate this, "The necessary consequence of man's right to life is his right to self-defense."

Any alleged right, the exercise of which inherently creates conditions inimical to man’s survival, cannot be a right.

I don't think it inherently creates conditions inimical to man's survival, and let me explain.

The right to compete in the use of retaliatory force would mean, among other things, the right to determine what constitutes the initiation of force

When a government is being constructed who determines what constitutes as the initiation of force? Do constitutions and laws just fall out of a vacuum, or do rational humans observe their nature and create rational laws, which because they are observable, they gain support and are thus able to be implemented without too much opposition?

It would mean that person “A” could decide that a threat consists of a suspicious look and bulge in one’s pocket that might be a weapon.  It would mean that person “A” could decide that the proper response to such a threat is to shoot first and ask questions later.
In our current system, isn't that the exact job that a judge often has? How about we call our judge "person A." Then your critique of anarchy reveals the same flaws in a system of minimal government. You might respond that judges do make close calls sometimes, but on average their job is just to read the laws and rule on them and not make those type of decisions, as above. But then we can go to the senators and representatives that maybe define and write the laws, they probably argued and debated and one of them decided that "a threat consists of a suspicious look and bulge in one’s pocket that might be a weapon." Then my point would still stand. Use your statement and instead of using "person A" just substitute senator, judge, president, etc and you will have a critique of government.

No one can claim the right to carry a gun and unilaterally decide who is a threat and how to respond.  Such an action is itself inherently threatening and constitutes the initiation of force. 

I agree. If this man with the gun was the only man who was allowed to decide who and what is a threat, then he would be very threatening. However he is not. Others can gain knowledge of what constitutes a threat and what does not, and if the man with a gun shoots someone using his own arbitrary concept of what force is and he is in the wrong, and this is observable to others, they have the right to apprehend this man, because he is 'himself inherently threatening and constitutes an initiation of force' on the rest of society. (I paraphrased you).

By prohibiting such action, government is prohibiting the initiation of force.  Thus, there is no such thing as the right to compete with government.
This is where you and I disagree. The man has the right to carry the gun and has the moral imperative to act in self defense. If he makes a poor decision and shoots a man without it being in self defense then he is in the wrong and that can be observable to anyone, not just a government. A man breaking a normative law is not a sufficient argument for government. Anyone can observe that he shot a man for pulling a bulgy wallet out of a pocket, and it can be found to be wrong. I agree that there are normative laws (oughts), but the actual enforcement of those objective laws (is) is a entirely different story. The police officer or judge of a government who would arrest that armed man is no better than just about anyone else to enforce that.

Even if the would-be competitor is perfectly rational and enforces only rational laws, the fact remains that you have granted the same right to the less-than-rational.  If one man can declare his intent to create and enforce his own laws -- and if there is no central agency to act as the final arbiter of disputes -- then any man can do the same. 

This is the case in any system. Let's say the US only enforces rational laws (which is not the case in reality), Iran, Russia, Iraq, Syria, etc can do the same and create an institution which does not enforce only rational laws. When we conflict with them there is no central agency to act as the final arbiter of disputes. I think this line of thinking logically leads to the conclusion that the only proper government is that which holds dominion over the whole world, so that there will always be a final arbiter.

Removing the monopoly on the use of retaliatory force creates a threat to everyone -- the threat of force guided by the whims, wishes, feelings and arbitrary conclusions reached by the worst of the competitors. 
Governments have the ability and the motive to do the same, but what stops them usually is that a vast majority of people are rational and won't tolerate it. Anarchy and private agencies provide the same and better incentives to deter retaliatory institutions from enforcing unjust laws. Rational people won't pay to have bad laws enforced in their areas, and the best part about private companies is that they don't have the ability to regulate currency so that they can't print money when people revolt against them to fund their war. A government on the other hand can print money, wage civil war, and then tax the losers when they reclaim a seceding territory.

Government does (should) permit the private use of retaliatory force in emergencies.  Even then, however, the individual’s actions are subject to review by the government against an objective standard to determine whether the use of force was justified. 

Why do you always speak of government as if it is some omniscient, infinitely just institution? How is the collection of men in congress any more objective than the collection of men that might compose a CEO board of a private legal enterprise?

(Note: This is a debate thread, between Nimble and AisA. Other members, please don't post to this thread. Thanks.)

I agree, let us debate for a while, then maybe if both of us agree, we will open it up for others.

Edit to make the quotations work.

Edited by nimble
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I'm sorry to add this before you respond, but I thought one of my points could use clarification. Let's assume that your stance is correct that no man may determine what is a threat and what isn't a threat. This logically implies that any collection of men has no such right either to determine what is a threat and what is not, since a collection of men is nothing other than a specific number of individuals. If the individuals don't have the right to determine what is a threat and what is not a threat, then a group can have no more rights than that of the individuals composing it. To paraphrase Rand, 'there is no such thing as collective rights.' If the citizens don't have this right, then the group of men in government do not have this right either. This ultimately leads to the conclusion that governments (being a collection of men) would not have the right to determine what is threat and what is not.

Also I want to repost a section of my response to best illustrate this point and to show where I derived it from:

First, I would like to point out that a government is composed of men of free will. I will grant that it is more than just the men that compose it; it includes the functions and limitations designed into it as well (through a constitution).

Note*-Those limitations and designated functions are written and created by humans, and they are enforced and followed by humans.

****Now this is not my stance, but I am just showing you where your argument and line of thinking will ultimately take you. I hold the position that individuals do have the right to self-defense and only they can OPT to give that right to an institution. A group of men (government) does not have the right to coercively claim dominion over individuals land to enforce its rules and steal their right to self defense, by electing itself to be the "rational solution" and the only ones who can truly enforce good laws and freedom.

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Response Part I

I am going to respond to your points in a different order than you presented them for reasons that will become clear:

Second, I ask if a government enforces rules and has an EXCLUSIVE power to do so, in an area, how do governments function inside of governments, such as the states and our federal government? This leads me to another point I would like to make about secession. Let's say the southern states disagree with the northern states about death penalty or some other debatable issue, so they secede. Then suppose Mississippi leaves that union because they disagree about abortion, and so on and so on branching off into smaller and smaller governments, what is there to logically stop these secessions from creating tons of small essentially competing governments?
What is there to stop the U.S. from descending into anarchy? The constitution. Under our system, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It identifies the basic rights of the citizens – which no government entity, state, county or local, can abridge – and it places strict limits on the federal government’s powers. State constitutions place similar limits on what the states may do.

The unique feature of the American system is the notion that government may only do what the Constitution explicitly allows; it acts by permission only.

I suspect, however, that what you are really asking is why should they not be free to secede.

The right to compete in the use of retaliatory force would mean, among other things, the right to determine what constitutes the initiation of force. 

When a government is being constructed who determines what constitutes as the initiation of force? Do constitutions and laws just fall out of a vacuum, or do rational humans observe their nature and create rational laws, which because they are observable, they gain support and are thus able to be implemented without too much opposition?

Yes, of course humans create the laws.

But the existence of government provides the following: a framework (a constitution) that defines and delimits what those laws can cover; a process (legislation) for creating those laws; a process (elections) for choosing the lawmakers; a process (judicial review) for challenging the validity of a law; a process (impeachment) for removing officials that do not obey the constitution, and an institution (the criminal justice system) for dealing with criminals.

Observe that with (limited) government in place, men must deal with one another by persuasion, i.e. by a process of reason. Granted, irrational laws can and do get passed, but laws are not established by force.

Under anarchy, the opposite is true. The men with the most force determine which laws will prevail.

It would mean that person “A” could decide that a threat consists of a suspicious look and bulge in one’s pocket that might be a weapon.  It would mean that person “A” could decide that the proper response to such a threat is to shoot first and ask questions later.

In our current system, isn't that the exact job that a judge often has? How about we call our judge "person A." Then your critique of anarchy reveals the same flaws in a system of minimal government. You might respond that judges do make close calls sometimes, but on average their job is just to read the laws and rule on them and not make those type of decisions, as above. But then we can go to the senators and representatives that maybe define and write the laws, they probably argued and debated and one of them decided that "a threat consists of a suspicious look and bulge in one’s pocket that might be a weapon." Then my point would still stand. Use your statement and instead of using "person A" just substitute senator, judge, president, etc and you will have a critique of government.

No. Under a constitutionally limited, representative government (which I will refer to as “CLR government”, and which I hold to be synonymous with laissez-faire capitalism) senators, judges and presidents are not self-appointed.

To make, interpret and enforce laws, they must first convince the majority of the citizens, by a process of persuasion, that they are qualified to do so. And they must repeat this process of persuasion every 2, 4 or 6 years (with the exception of some judges that area appointed for life). Under anarchy, anyone with a gun can wake up and become a self-appointed lawmaker, judge and jury.

Under CLR government, the lawmakers may not venture outside the limits set by the constitution; if they do, the citizens have recourse. Anarchy is limited solely by the size of the gang and the power of the weapons one can acquire.

Under CLR government, laws are the product of a process of discussion and persuasion. Anarchy permits the creation of laws by whim.

Under CLR government, the citizen’s recourse against bad government officials requires persuasion: persuade the voters to elect someone else, or persuade the voters to recall the official, or persuade the elected representatives to impeach and convict. Anarchy permits the elimination of opponents by assassination.

Under CLR government, the citizen’s recourse against bad laws also depends on persuasion: persuade the lawmakers to change the law or persuade a judge to rule it unconstitutional. Anarchy changes laws when a gang comes along big enough to out-gun whatever gang established the law in the first place.

No one can claim the right to carry a gun and unilaterally decide who is a threat and how to respond.  Such an action is itself inherently threatening and constitutes the initiation of force. 

I agree. If this man with the gun was the only man who was allowed to decide who and what is a threat, then he would be very threatening. However he is not. Others can gain knowledge of what constitutes a threat and what does not, and if the man with a gun shoots someone using his own arbitrary concept of what force is and he is in the wrong, and this is observable to others, they have the right to apprehend this man, because he is 'himself inherently threatening and constitutes an initiation of force' on the rest of society. (I paraphrased you).

And what happens when the group that agrees with the man with the gun shows up and confronts the group attempting to apprehend him?

You are advocating gang warfare with the hope that the most rational gang will prevail.

You started with this point:

Yes I have read this essay. I will address the parts I think are most important and then we will go from there, okay?

-Rand states in the first sentence that "A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area."

First, I would like to point out that a government is composed of men of free will. I will grant that it is more than just the men that compose it; it includes the functions and limitations designed into it as well (through a constitution). However a constitution is not necessary to have objective law (Great Britain), nor is it any type of real restraint (even Soviet Russia had constitutional limits on its government, yet the government completely ignored those limits) Long, Anarchism as Constitutionalism. I only point this out because I want to dispell a common misconception that government is somehow a more objectively defined institution than any other. It too is no better than the people in the government.

It is a fallacy to state that since some constitutions failed, all constitutions must fail.

For at least the last century, the great majority of Americans have held philosophic beliefs that are incompatible with individual rights and political freedom. Yet America remains a mostly free society. In view of that, I would say the U.S. constitution has worked amazingly well.

By prohibiting such action, government is prohibiting the initiation of force.  Thus, there is no such thing as the right to compete with government.

This is where you and I disagree. The man has the right to carry the gun and has the moral imperative to act in self defense. If he makes a poor decision and shoots a man without it being in self defense then he is in the wrong and that can be observable to anyone, not just a government. A man breaking a normative law is not a sufficient argument for government.

The existence of law breakers was not offered as an argument for government.

What is offered is the fact that government is the only means of placing the use of force under objective control. Miss Rand’s article demonstrates that man’s nature requires that force be placed under such control, with objectively defined laws and enforcement.

CLR government is a means of achieving that objective control. No, there is no guarantee that proper, objective control will be established. But with CLR government, it is at least a possibility -- and the history of America's progress proves it. Anarchy explicitly rejects the concept of objective control by granting every individual the right to decide when and how to use force.

Anyone can observe that he shot a man for pulling a bulgy wallet out of a pocket, and it can be found to be wrong. I agree that there are normative laws (oughts), but the actual enforcement of those objective laws (is) is a entirely different story. The police officer or judge of a government who would arrest that armed man is no better than just about anyone else to enforce that.
The issue is not who is best qualified to make and enforce the laws. The issue is: by what means do we make laws and enforce them?

CLR government advocates a process of reason, discussion and persuasion to create a set of ground rules governing the country (such as we did with the constitutional convention held in Philadelphia in 1787) -- and an on-going process of persuasion to create and enforce laws. Anarchy advocates a shoot-out between those who have “observed” some behavior and reached different conclusions about it.

Even if the would-be competitor is perfectly rational and enforces only rational laws, the fact remains that you have granted the same right to the less-than-rational.  If one man can declare his intent to create and enforce his own laws -- and if there is no central agency to act as the final arbiter of disputes -- then any man can do the same. 

This is the case in any system. Let's say the US only enforces rational laws (which is not the case in reality), Iran, Russia, Iraq, Syria, etc can do the same and create an institution which does not enforce only rational laws.

The existence of bad governments is not an argument in favor of dismantling the good government. The existence of Iran, Russia and Syria is not an argument for giving individuals the right to use force subjectively.

Yes, it is true there is no central agency to act as the final arbiter of disputes among nations, and the result is warfare which is not always won by the better government. Under anarchy, the same thing would happen internally.

No, this "line of thinking" does not mean that the U.S. must conquer the entire planet in order to be a proper government here. It is true that I would advocate the adoption of CLR government by every country -- but their failure to do so does not make its implementation in the U.S. wrong. Why would it?

Removing the monopoly on the use of retaliatory force creates a threat to everyone -- the threat of force guided by the whims, wishes, feelings and arbitrary conclusions reached by the worst of the competitors. 

Governments have the ability and the motive to do the same, but what stops them usually is that a vast majority of people are rational and won't tolerate it.

What governments “have the ability and the motive to do” and “what stops them” has nothing to do with the issue of monopolizing the use of force. Granted, a tyrannical government is bad. That does not make anarchy good.

Anarchy and private agencies provide the same and better incentives to deter retaliatory institutions from enforcing unjust laws. Rational people won't pay to have bad laws enforced in their areas,

Prior to the civil war, what laws did the southern plantation owners pay to have enforced “in their area”? Black slavery and right to have runaways returned to their owners.

In the 1950s, what laws would the Ku Klux Klan, James Earl Ray, et al have paid to have enforced “in their area”? Legalized lynching and disenfranchisement of blacks.

What laws will the Muslims in America pay to have enforced “in their area”? Laws against women going to school, eating during Ramadan or staying out late with your girlfriend.

What laws will the fundamentalist Christians pay to have enforced “in their area”? Death penalty for abortions and prison for stem-cell researchers.

What laws will the leftist nut-cases in Washington DC pay to have enforced “in their area”? Prison for gun ownership and resisting criminals.

What laws will the environmentalists in Washington state pay to have enforced “in their area”? Prison sentences for loggers and salmon fishermen and a ban on construction.

What laws will the Hispanics in southern California pay to have enforced “in their area”? Welfare benefits, social security and free healthcare for illegal immigrants.

What laws will the unions in Michigan pay to have enforced “in their area”? Compulsory union membership, automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks and jail time for those who cross a picket line.

I could go on. Right now, it is only the existence of our government and our constitution that keeps these groups from hoisting their goals and ideas on others by force.

You said:

"and the best part about private companies is that they don't have the ability to regulate currency so that they can't print money when people revolt against them to fund their war. A government on the other hand can print money, wage civil war, and then tax the losers when they reclaim a seceding territory. "

The existence of bad government does not make anarchy good. The choice is not totalitarian government versus anarchy. The choice is objective control over the use of force versus the arbitrary, subjective use of force.

You asked: "Why do you always speak of government as if it is some omniscient, infinitely just institution? How is the collection of men in congress any more objective than the collection of men that might compose a CEO board of a private legal enterprise?"

Under CLR government, the men in congress are chosen by the citizens, they may be replaced during the next election or recalled by the citizens at any time and any laws they pass are subject to judicial review and repeal. The men on the board of a private enterprise are outside the control of the citizens – and under anarchy, they can be opposed only by force.

As Miss Rand says, the essence of the argument for government is that man must accept the separation of force and whim. Government is the only means of achieving and maintaining that separation. Anarchy destroys it.

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A is A, you are usually not on late when I am. I liked your response and thought it was well thought out. I will post a reply later tonight after I review your response more in depth and have the time to make a reply. If you are on late tonight, maybe we will catch each other.

Nimble

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Response Part II

I'm sorry to add this before you respond, but I thought one of my points could use clarification. Let's assume that your stance is correct that no man may determine what is a threat and what isn't a threat.

No, I did not say that. I said no man has the right to determine what a threat is and respond to it unilaterally and without a post-event review by the government against an objective standard.

This logically implies that any collection of men has no such right either to determine what is a threat and what is not, since a collection of men is nothing other than a specific number of individuals. If the individuals don't have the right to determine what is a threat and what is not a threat, then a group can have no more rights than that of the individuals composing it. To paraphrase Rand, 'there is no such thing as collective rights.'  If the citizens don't have this right, then the group of men in government do not have this right either. This ultimately leads to the conclusion that governments (being a collection of men) would not have the right to determine what is threat and what is not.
This fails because it depends on an out-of-context, partial reading of what I said. And even if it were true, it would apply to private defense agencies as well as to the government.

Also I want to repost a section of my response to best illustrate this point and to show where I derived it from:

First, I would like to point out that a government is composed of men of free will. I will grant that it is more than just the men that compose it; it includes the functions and limitations designed into it as well (through a constitution).

Note*-Those limitations and designated functions are written and created by humans, and they are enforced and followed by humans.

****Now this is not my stance, but I am just showing you where your argument and line of thinking will ultimately take you. I hold the position that individuals do have the right to self-defense and only they can OPT to give that right to an institution. A group of men (government) does not have the right to coercively claim dominion over individuals land to enforce its rules and steal their right to self defense, by electing itself to be the "rational solution" and the only ones who can truly enforce good laws and freedom.

I am confused by the statement that, "This is not my stance" followed by "I hold the position...." What part of what follows after "I hold the position" is not your stance?

No one's right to self-defense has been stolen. What has been prohibited is the subjective, arbitrary use of force.

For instance, suppose a man and his wife get in a fight at home, in the middle of their 100 acre farm. The woman winds up dead. There are no known witnesses. Are you saying that the man has the right to declare it an act of self-defense and bury his wife without an autopsy -- end of story? He should have the option of handling things this way?

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A is A, you are usually not on late when I am. I liked your response and thought it was well thought out. I will post a reply later tonight after I review your response more in depth and have the time to make a reply. If you are on late tonight, maybe we will catch each other.

Nimble

I am enjoying our exchange. Your points are forcing me to think hard about the nature of government. It really challenges one's understanding.
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Response Part II

No, I did not say that.  I said no man has the right to determine what a threat is and respond to it unilaterally and without a post-event review by the government against an objective standard.

Fair enough.

This fails because it depends on an out-of-context, partial reading of what I said.  And even if it were true, it would apply to private defense agencies as well as to the government.
This is why I said that this post was not my stance, it was just an attempt to use argumentum ad absurdum.

I am confused by the statement that, "This is not my stance" followed by "I hold the position...."  What part of what follows after "I hold the position" is not your stance?

Hopefully, my last sentence above cleared this up. It is not my stance that no man should be able to decide what a threat is. Obviously I think that one should or else I wouldn't be an anarchist. But what followed was my position.

No one's right to self-defense has been stolen.  What has been prohibited is the subjective, arbitrary use of force.
You asserting it does not make it so, but let's read on to see what example you use to justify that position.

For instance, suppose a man and his wife get in a fight at home, in the middle of their 100 acre farm.  The woman winds up dead.  There are no known witnesses.  Are you saying that the man has the right to declare it an act of self-defense and bury his wife without an autopsy -- end of story?  He should have the option of handling things this way?

The man can declare that it is self-defense, but if it wasn't then his declaration was a lie. The man does not have a right to his dead wife's body. You cannot own people, and since she is not alive, she does not have a right to opt not to have an autopsy. So anyone who is curious enough has the right to investigate it, and this man has no moral grounds to stop them.

And like I said before, your previous post contained a lot of information that requires a well thought out response, so I will post on that later.

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I am enjoying our exchange.  Your points are forcing me to think hard about the nature of government.  It really challenges one's understanding.

Thank you for the compliment, and I agree that it challenges one's understanding. Now that I am thinking about it more, I think the best point you made thus far has to do with the example of the wife and the murderous husband. You may not know why I think that, but I think it is a good point not for the reasons you suggested, but because it challenges the primacy of private property...how would one get on to his property to investigate? You didn't make that point exactly, but I will make it for you, because I need to have an answer for that.

Nimble

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“I suspect, however, that what you are really asking is why should they not be free to secede.”
Yes, that is what I am really asking. As the economist Murray Rothbard said: “Once one concedes that world government is not necessary, then where does one logically stop at the permissibility of separate states? If Canada and the United States can be separate nations without being denounced as being in a state of impermissible “anarchy,” why may not the South secede from the United States? New York State from the Union? New York City from the state? Why may not Manhattan secede? Each neighborhood? Each block? Each house? Each person?” (Power and Market, 7)

“Yes, of course humans create the laws.”

Good I am glad that we agree on that. This will help us solve a lot of our problems. It shows that the men in legislation are the same type of men that may compose a CEO board of a private protection agency.

-At this point I was planning to go point by point that you made and illustrate how you were either misunderstanding the nature of government or show you that these bad circumstances you describe in anarchy are the same things that will or could happen under government. But I am deciding to go another way with this argument, and if you think that I need to go back later and critique the issues you brought up, then I will. Anyway, here it goes--- Okay, so Miss Rand defines government as “an institution that holds exclusive power to enforce certain rules of conduct in a given geographical area.” After thinking about it, I realized all of my arguments consist of showing you how government has the same qualities as anarchy as I see it (not anarchy in the sense that anyone can do anything, i.e. chaos).

This is leading me to believe that my definition of a private protection agency (PPA) is the same or similar to that of what you would call government. A PPA is an institution, thus it meets the first criteria of Rand’s definition. It would hold the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of conduct in a given geographical area, thus it meets the second criteria. Let me explain though, because you are probably confused about this last point. A private protection agency only would enforce laws on its constituents, its constituents would only pay the protection agency if it enforces laws that they can agree with. So we have a group of people who pays for laws that they all agree to. The PPA will only enforce the laws on the specifically defined area that is all the land that its constituents own, and it will hold the exclusive domain of enforcing rules in that area. Now it won’t be an arbitrarily defined area like that of a normal government, its power area will only be all the property that its constituents own.

I think our arguing comes from misinterpretations of what I am advocating. There won’t be one PPA that says, ‘I control all of what is currently known as America’ and another agency which competes inside of that same plot of land. Their areas won’t conflict, they will be objectively defined by the property lines of their constituents. For example let’s say there is a big square of land divided into 4 square areas, with 4 people each owning a plot of land. The man in plot 1 may pay PPA1 to protect his rights along with the man in plot 2, and the men in plots 3 and 4 pay PPA2 to protect their rights. Now although they are living side-by-side they have two different institutions to protect their rights, those institutions don’t enforce their rules on that of the other’s territory. So PPA will handle any disputes objectively between any of its constituents, it essentially is THE FINAL ARBITER OF DISPUTES in a given area. It has the obligation to enforce rules on all those under its constituency. PPA1 and PPA2 are not competing for territory, at the very most they are only competing for customers, not much different than how states try to create circumstances to make their population grow. This is also much like neighboring countries. The US and Canada have a similar border, they are different governments with different laws, and people who live on the border can literally walk a few feet and be subject to different laws. If the people in Canada don’t like Canada they can leave and patronize another country, or in anarchy’s case, a different PPA. Or they can risk it and live without a PPA, and hopefully they will be able to protect themselves, but most likely just about everyone would patronize some PPA.

Now you may say, what if PPA1 has a customer that has a dispute with PPA2? Well, what if a man in Canada has a dispute with a man from America? Most likely, they will work it out, but in rare cases bad things can happen either in government or anarchy. Maybe a war will start, who knows, but worst case scenarios are non-sequitor and are getting us no where.

“Under a constitutionally limited, representative government (which I will refer to as “CLR government”, and which I hold to be synonymous with laissez-faire capitalism) senators, judges and presidents are not self-appointed.”
In anarchy, PPAs would only exist if there is a market for them, dictator-like figures and self appointed rulers would not get in the enforcement market unless there where consumers who wanted that type of lawmaker and enforcer. And I can illustrate that the same could and has happened in government too, if people want that type of law maker, no constitution of a government will stop it (Soviet Russia). So that critique does not hold.

“And what happens when the group that agrees with the man with the gun shows up and confronts the group attempting to apprehend him?”

What happens when a man from Canada kills an American, then flees back to Canada? Either Canada could harbor him, and face military or diplomatic consequences, or they could realize that their man is in the wrong and hand him over. The same would apply to PPAs, if this event happened on my property and I paid PPA1 to enforce laws there, they would try to apprehend this man. Maybe he flees back to his property so that his PPA will protect him, but will his PPA be willing to wage war for a man who is in the wrong? This means their costs will skyrocket, they will have to raise their prices, they will lose customers. Chances are they would comply peaceably and hand the man over. Could it turn into a war? Yes. But is it LIKELY to? No.

“It is a fallacy to state that since some constitutions failed, all constitutions must fail.”
I agree, you are correct. It is also a fallacy to say that because anarchy might fail, that it WILL fail.

“Prior to the civil war, what laws did the southern plantation owners pay to have enforced “in their area”? Black slavery and right to have runaways returned to their owners.

In the 1950s, what laws would the Ku Klux Klan, James Earl Ray, et al have paid to have enforced “in their area”? Legalized lynching and disenfranchisement of blacks.

What laws will the Muslims in America pay to have enforced “in their area”? Laws against women going to school, eating during Ramadan or staying out late with your girlfriend.

What laws will the fundamentalist Christians pay to have enforced “in their area”? Death penalty for abortions and prison for stem-cell researchers.

What laws will the leftist nut-cases in Washington DC pay to have enforced “in their area”? Prison for gun ownership and resisting criminals.

What laws will the environmentalists in Washington state pay to have enforced “in their area”? Prison sentences for loggers and salmon fishermen and a ban on construction.

What laws will the Hispanics in southern California pay to have enforced “in their area”? Welfare benefits, social security and free healthcare for illegal immigrants.

What laws will the unions in Michigan pay to have enforced “in their area”? Compulsory union membership, automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks and jail time for those who cross a picket line.”

All I can say here is that to anarchy’s defense all of these things happened under a constitutionally regulated government, and not in anarchy. But you are correct, they COULD happen.

And from here I leave the floor to you. Thank you for bringing up these issues, it has made me think a bit more on the subject. Hopefully, the first part of my post about Rand’s definition and the definition of a PPA will lead us eventually to some agreement. But we’ll see when you post.

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Also, I want to make a correction to an earlier post where I said "argumentum ad absurdum" and not "reductio ad absurdum." Someone brought it to my attention, and I apologize for the mistake, I typed that response in haste.

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The problem with what you propose is that it ties the authority to use force to land ownership alone. It means that if I own land, I can declare it a territory and declare myself a PPA.

It grants landowners the right to dictate any rules they please and use force in any manner they please on their property. Furthermore, if they have the right to make whatever rules they wish, then they also have the right to change them at will and without notice.

This would mean the moment that you step on my land, I have the right to kill you, because I have the right to decide that your behavior was threatening and act accordingly. And on my land, according to your scheme, I am the final arbiter. This makes the use of force utterly and totally subjective. It leaves it to the whim of the landowner.

It means that if a man kills his wife on his land, it is nobody else's business -- and that is the end of the story.

This negates the entire concept of individual rights. Individual rights are an attribute of all human beings (except those that forfeit them by criminal behavior), whether or not they own land. And an individual possess his rights at all times, wherever he goes.

Yes, the protection of man’s rights should be global. But at present that is not practical – the American government cannot do that. But the lack of global protection does not argue for eliminating the national protection that we have now.

Yes, a criminal can escape to another country and possibly evade capture for crimes committed in America. But that does not argue for moving to a scheme where all he must do is get to his own land, where he and only he can enforce any rules.

The consent of the governed is a necessary precondition for the establishment of a legitimate government, but it is not a sufficient condition. The only legitimate government (or whatever you choose to call the agency with exclusive right to enforce rules) is one that protects individual rights, every individuals rights, everywhere in the territory, at all times.

The prerequisite for successful coexistence of human beings is the banishment of force from all relationships and interactions. To implement this ban on force, we need an institution with authority over everyone. No one can claim the right to be free of the ban on force; accordingly, no one can claim the right to be free of the institution that enforces the ban. That institution is government.

In 1776, a remarkable group of people living in America grasped the concept of individual rights and the notion that government must exist to secure those rights. They acted on this knowledge and created the United States. In 1787, they completed their revolution and wrote the Constitution of the United States.

The fact that this relatively small number of people could not implement a global revolution, and the fact that other nations have implemented improper governments, does not argue for abandoning what we have here.

The existing international situation, with all of the horrors of third world dictatorships, hell holes like North Korea and abominations like Iran, illustrates what happens when those in control of territory implement whatever rules they wish. Why on earth would we want to abandon the concept of individual rights, and a government that protects them, and move toward the international model instead?

Why would we want, within America's borders, a Muslim-dominated territory, a labor union territory, an environmentalist territory, a racist territory, and a fundamentalist Christian territory -- all with differing laws? Every one of those territories would be less free than what we have now. Why would you want that?

America has been a shining example of how government should work. It's not perfect and some of its original flaws are allowing the gradual erosion of our freedom. Still, it has withstood every attack modern intellectuals can devise -- and if it can just hold out for 2 or 3 more generations, Objectivism will rescue it. We can't let it go.

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I also want to respond to Mr. Rothbard.

Yes, that is what I am really asking. As the economist Murray Rothbard said: “Once one concedes that world government is not necessary, then where does one logically stop at the permissibility of separate states?

In the first place, I do not concede that a world government is not necessary, in the sense that I do not concede that the existence of multiple coercive governments is acceptable. It is not.

Multiple rights-protecting, force banning governments is fine and is no doubt inevitable given the logistics involved.

Second, one "logically stops" secession with the existence of a free nation with a proper government, i.e. with one that protects individual rights and bans force. Since there is no such thing as the right to initiate force, there is no right to declare that one is no longer to be the subject of the ban on force or the government enforcing that ban.

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"The problem with what you propose is that it ties the authority to use force to land ownership alone. It means that if I own land, I can declare it a territory and declare myself a PPA."

I guess you could, although it wouldn't be smart, someone could walk onto your land with a gun, and if you couldn't adequately defend yourself you wouldn't be in a good position, so nearly everyone would be under the enforcement of some PPA. But this is not a sufficient argument to your point. Let me move on.

This would mean the moment that you step on my land, I have the right to kill you, because I have the right to decide that your behavior was threatening and act accordingly.  And on my land, according to your scheme, I am the final arbiter.  This makes the use of force utterly and totally subjective.  It leaves it to the whim of the landowner.
You have the right to realize what a threat is, not arbitrarily dictate what a threat is. And you don't have the right to just kill any one who steps onto your land. You keep confusing ought with is, and it is making your argument fallacious.

It means that if a man kills his wife on his land, it is nobody else's business -- and that is the end of the story.

What happens when people in some remote area of the earth mutilate their babies, or kill first borns or wives or anyone for that matter? Do other governments go there and make sure that everyone's rights on the entire earth are never violated? No! They ONLY watch out for the territory they enforce rules upon. Rand's idea of government ties the authority to use force to land ownership alone, if that's what is meant by geographical area. So this situations holds true with governments too. If I and my wife are on a desert island, and I kill her, does the nearest government come to her rescue? In another example, let's say that I kill her in Canada and somehow I bribe a judge and get away with the murder, would the US step in and prosecute me? No, it only watches its territory. States only take authority over the land that they own. The exact same thing that a PPA would do.

This negates the entire concept of individual rights.  Individual rights are an attribute of all human beings (except those that forfeit them by criminal behavior), whether or not they own land.  And an individual possess his rights at all times, wherever he goes. 

This is an ought. I agree individual rights exist for everyone at all times. However, the IS, is how are we going to protect them. I argue that PPAs can do better than states. Secondly, you have evaded the issue I raised that a PPA exactly matches Rand's definition of a state, which at the very least suggests that it is a functional equivalent of a state.

Yes, the protection of man’s rights should be global.  But at present that is not practical – the American government cannot do that.  But the lack of global protection does not argue for eliminating the national protection that we have now.

So do you concede that there should be one world government?

Yes, a criminal can escape to another country and possibly evade capture for crimes committed in America.  But that does not argue for moving to a scheme where all he must do is get to his own land, where he and only he can enforce any rules.

If a man does not have a PPA, then commits a crime in my PPA's territory, and thinks he can escape capture by running back to his home, he will be mistaken. If he is his own PPA, the situation would be handled accordingly. My PPA can take diplomatic or military actions against him to get him to hand himself over. My guess is that one man wouldnt fight a war by himself, so he would just hand himself over. But if he didn't and resisted, he would be taken down accordingly. Just like if a terrorist from Iran bombed some US building, and then ran back to Iran. We would ask Iran to hand him over, and if they didn't military or diplomatic consequences would ensue.

The consent of the governed is a necessary precondition for the establishment of a legitimate government, but it is not a sufficient condition.

First I thought Objectivists don't like the idea of necessary and sufficient conditions. Second, if consent is a necessary condition, how can you justify forcing people under a government they don't like?

The only legitimate government (or whatever you choose to call the agency with exclusive right to enforce rules) is one that protects individual rights, every individuals rights, everywhere in the territory, at all times.
You are right the only legitimate power for a PPA or government is to protect rights, everywhere in ITS territory, at all times. When they don't they are in the wrong. Both governments and PPAs could be guilty of this.

The prerequisite for successful coexistence of human beings is the banishment of force from all relationships and interactions.  To implement this ban on force, we need an institution with authority over everyone.  No one can claim the right to be free of the ban on force; accordingly, no one can claim the right to be free of the institution that enforces the ban.  That institution is government.

It won't have authority over everyone unless it is a world government.

The existing international situation, with all of the horrors of third world dictatorships, hell holes like North Korea and abominations like Iran, illustrates what happens when those in control of territory implement whatever rules they wish.  Why on earth would we want to abandon the concept of individual rights, and a government that protects them, and move toward the international model instead?
No it shows what happens when men uses government coercion to acheive their ill ends. A lot of these leaders would not have gotten to power in a free society where power is diffused and social rule enforcement could only be done by those who pay for their services. Could their be a terrorist PPA? Sure. Are their terrorist supporting governments? Yes. Anything could happen in either system, and I think these worst case scenario arguments are getting us no where.

Why would we want, within America's borders, a Muslim-dominated territory, a labor union territory, an environmentalist territory, a racist territory, and a fundamentalist Christian territory -- all with differing laws?  Every one of those territories would be less free than what we have now.  Why would you want that?

The only ones who would be under the control of the christian territory are the christians. The only ones who would be under the control of the environmentalist territory are the environmentalists. Why would we want a system where if anyone of these people came to power, they could enforce their views on everybody in that arbitrarily defined area.

Also, you never responded to how governments objectively define their territory. To me it seems arbitrary if it does not somehow relate to the territory its citizens own.

***MOD HELP*** I can't get the quotes to work. I tried to edit to fix them, but it won't work.

Edited by nimble
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The only ones who would be under the control of the christian territory are the christians. The only ones who would be under the control of the environmentalist territory are the environmentalists.
I want to elaborate on this. If each of these groups' PPAs violates the rights of their customers, it would be only through contract. All of the people under the PPA have PAID for these laws, if they end up having their rights violated, it is only because they have contractually forfeited them.

Second, one "logically stops" secession with the existence of a free nation with a proper government, i.e. with one that protects individual rights and bans force. Since there is no such thing as the right to initiate force, there is no right to declare that one is no longer to be the subject of the ban on force or the government enforcing that ban.

So if a world government that protected rights existed, you would argue that there should never be another separate government created again, at least until this world government started to violate rights?

I am just curious.

Please address my other argument first, because all of this post is irrelevant if we can solve something from the previous post.

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AisA, regardless of how you feel about my position or my arguments, or vice versa, how I feel about yours. You have actually refined my stance quite a bit with this debate. It wasn't until about a day ago that I thought about PPAs matching Rand's definition of government, or being able to be obejective arbiters that act as the last arbiter of disputes. I think that if you would have argued with me about a 8 months ago, I wouldn't have even had responses for a lot of your points. But because of this exchange I think I have learned a lot.

Nimble

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"The problem with what you propose is that it ties the authority to use force to land ownership alone. It means that if I own land, I can declare it a territory and declare myself a PPA."

I guess you could, although it wouldn't be smart, someone could walk onto your land with a gun, and if you couldn't adequately defend yourself you wouldn't be in a good position, so nearly everyone would be under the enforcement of some PPA. But this is not a sufficient argument to your point. Let me move on.

This would mean the moment that you step on my land, I have the right to kill you, because I have the right to decide that your behavior was threatening and act accordingly.  And on my land, according to your scheme, I am the final arbiter.  This makes the use of force utterly and totally subjective.  It leaves it to the whim of the landowner.

You have the right to realize what a threat is, not arbitrarily dictate what a threat is. And you don't have the right to just kill any one who steps onto your land. You keep confusing ought with is, and it is making your argument fallacious.

Under your scheme, what will stop me from killing in my territory? If you are in my territory, don’t my rules apply? As a PPA for my land, don’t I have “the exclusive right to enforce the rules” in my territory?

Are you saying that there is going to be some sort of rule that a PPA can only use force when justified? If so, who or what is going to enforce that rule?

“Under a constitutionally limited, representative government (which I will refer to as “CLR government”, and which I hold to be synonymous with laissez-faire capitalism) senators, judges and presidents are not self-appointed.”

In anarchy, PPAs would only exist if there is a market for them, dictator-like figures and self appointed rulers would not get in the enforcement market unless there where consumers who wanted that type of lawmaker and enforcer. And I can illustrate that the same could and has happened in government too, if people want that type of law maker, no constitution of a government will stop it (Soviet Russia). So that critique does not hold.

There is an obvious and vast difference between declaring oneself a PPA and proceeding to enforce rules on one’s property – versus winning an election and persuading hundreds of other lawmakers to create a law.

And the existence of Soviet Russia does not negate the history and existence of the United States. Isn’t that an example of a worst case analysis that makes one’s argument fallacious? (I don’t consider worst case arguments to be inherently fallacious, but I did want to point out that you are doing the same thing you accuse me of.)

It means that if a man kills his wife on his land, it is nobody else's business -- and that is the end of the story.

What happens when people in some remote area of the earth mutilate their babies, or kill first borns or wives or anyone for that matter? Do other governments go there and make sure that everyone's rights on the entire earth are never violated? No! They ONLY watch out for the territory they enforce rules upon. Rand's idea of government ties the authority to use force to land ownership alone, if that's what is meant by geographical area. So this situations holds true with governments too. If I and my wife are on a desert island, and I kill her, does the nearest government come to her rescue? In another example, let's say that I kill her in Canada and somehow I bribe a judge and get away with the murder, would the US step in and prosecute me? No, it only watches its territory. States only take authority over the land that they own. The exact same thing that a PPA would do.

You are arguing that since some rights violations go unpunished, under present conditions, we should move to a system where even more rights violations can go unpunished. That is a non sequitur, to say the least.

This negates the entire concept of individual rights.  Individual rights are an attribute of all human beings (except those that forfeit them by criminal behavior), whether or not they own land.  And an individual possess his rights at all times, wherever he goes. 

This is an ought. I agree individual rights exist for everyone at all times. However, the IS, is how are we going to protect them. I argue that PPAs can do better than states.

If, under your scheme, I can get away with murdering my wife on my property, how can you make the claim that PPAs are protecting rights?

Under present conditions in the United States, it is difficult to get away with murder. Under your scheme, any landowner that wants to be his own PPA can get away with it easily. How, then, can you say that the PPA will do a better job of protecting rights?

Secondly, you have evaded the issue I raised that a PPA exactly matches Rand's definition of a state, which at the very least suggests that it is a functional equivalent of a state.
A PPA is not the equivalent of a state, because at any time an individual land owner can withdraw from the PPA (or refuse to join in the first place) and apply whatever rules he wishes. The citizens of a state are not free to declare themselves independent of the state and proceed to establish and enforce their own rules.

Yes, a criminal can escape to another country and possibly evade capture for crimes committed in America.  But that does not argue for moving to a scheme where all he must do is get to his own land, where he and only he can enforce any rules.

If a man does not have a PPA, then commits a crime in my PPA's territory, and thinks he can escape capture by running back to his home, he will be mistaken. If he is his own PPA, the situation would be handled accordingly. My PPA can take diplomatic or military actions against him to get him to hand himself over.

That is not what you said when you described this scheme. You said:

“Now although they are living side-by-side they have two different institutions to protect their rights, those institutions don’t enforce their rules on that of the other’s territory.”

And you said:

“The PPA will only enforce the laws on the specifically defined area that is all the land that its constituents own, and it will hold the exclusive domain of enforcing rules in that area.”

By what right, then, will you come into my territory and enforce your rules? My rules say that violating your rules is okay. Besides, my criminal justice system conducted an investigation and a trial and found me innocent of the charges. You have the wrong man.

How will your scheme resolve this?

I know that you will say that the same problem exists between countries. But your scheme simply multiplies the problem by allowing every land owner to declare his land the equivalent of a country. As a result, instead of the 8 governments that currently exist on the North American continent, there will be 80 or 800 of 8,000 or who knows how many.

You cannot dismiss this as a “worst case”. It is the most likely case, given the enormous number of pressure groups that exist in society today.

Second, if consent is a necessary condition, how can you justify forcing people under a government they don't like?
There is no right not to consent to a ban on the initiation of force. There is no right to resist the institution that enforces the ban.

The prerequisite for successful coexistence of human beings is the banishment of force from all relationships and interactions.  To implement this ban on force, we need an institution with authority over everyone.  No one can claim the right to be free of the ban on force; accordingly, no one can claim the right to be free of the institution that enforces the ban.  That institution is government.

It won't have authority over everyone unless it is a world government.

It will have authority over everyone within the borders. The fact that it doesn’t have authority over everyone on the globe is irrelevant.

You seem to proceed from the premise that the existence of numerous governments around the world is proof that there should be no governments at all. That is an utter non-seuqitur.

Why would we want, within America's borders, a Muslim-dominated territory, a labor union territory, an environmentalist territory, a racist territory, and a fundamentalist Christian territory -- all with differing laws?  Every one of those territories would be less free than what we have now.  Why would you want that?

The only ones who would be under the control of the christian territory are the christians. The only ones who would be under the control of the environmentalist territory are the environmentalists.

And what will you do when some rich Arab sheik buys the apartment building you live in, declares it to be under Muslim law, and reminds you that if you are caught drinking a beer, the punishment is to cut off your hand?

As the owner of the building and the land it sits on, he has “exclusive right “ to enforce the laws in that territory, does he not?

Thus, it won't be just the Christians and environmentalists that suffer under these PPAs. It will be any non-landowner unfortunate enough to live in their territory.

This is another example of how your scheme grants certain rights to land owners but denys all rights to those that do not own land. The non-landowners are rightless, defenseless creatures under your set-up.

Why would we want a system where if anyone of these people came to power, they could enforce their views on everybody in that arbitrarily defined area.
I am not advocating such a system. Under a constitutionally limited, representative government, those who “come to power” do not have the ability to unilaterally impose anything.

To get even one law passed requires the votes of at least 269 other elected representatives (218 in the House plus 51 in the Senate) plus the signature of the President. To make the law stick, it must (potentially) pass multiple levels of judicial review, and must not be repealed by subsequent legislatures.

You asked:

"Also, you never responded to how governments objectively define their territory. To me it seems arbitrary if it does not somehow relate to the territory its citizens own."

A proper government, one that protects rights and bans force, may define its territory as large as it can reasonably manage and police. That is obviously going to vary around the world.

_________________________________________________________________

I will conclude by asking you a question: Is there an individual right not to consent to a ban on the initiation of force? If there is such a right, please explain its derivation and source. If there is not such a right, please explain why anyone would have the right to resist the authority of the institution that enforces that ban.

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I will conclude by asking you a question:  Is there an individual right not to consent to a ban on the initiation of force?  If there is such a right, please explain its derivation and source.  If there is not such a right, please explain why anyone would have the right to resist the authority of the institution that enforces that ban.

I would like to address this part first, so that I clear up any misconceptions you may have, and so that you know where my thoughts are right now, because at this point I don't know what exactly to think. I don't think you have provided the type of case I would have liked to be persuaded to accept government, however you have shaken my stance as I previously held it for anarchism. Let me explain, and maybe things will pan out.

No, there is no such right to NOT consent to the ban. No one would have the right to resist the authority of the institution that enforces that ban. So you are correct on that point. I have never argued that moral laws don't exist, and I have never advocated that people have the right to break these moral/normative laws or have their rights taken from them, unless one contractually forfeits their rights or commits a crime.

Under your scheme, what will stop me from killing in my territory?  If you are in my territory, don’t my rules apply?  As a PPA for my land, don’t I have “the exclusive right to enforce the rules” in my territory?
Really what you are asking here is what happens when the supposed necessary thrid person arbiter becomes a first person arbiter? And you are right when saying that a first person arbiter is subjective, if you would have stated it in the terms I just used I would have noticed earlier, and conceded this point.

However, this flaw in what I once thought doesn't show the necessity of the state. The jump from the statement “Each person must delegate retaliation to an impartial third party” to “There must be an impartial third party to whom each person delegates retaliation”, would be an example of the fallacy of composition, wherein one infers from, e.g., “Everyone likes at least one TV show” to “There’s at least one TV show that everyone likes."

Are you saying that there is going to be some sort of rule that a PPA can only use force when justified?  If so, who or what is going to enforce that rule

There is an obvious and vast difference between declaring oneself a PPA and proceeding to enforce rules on one’s property – versus winning an election and persuading hundreds of other lawmakers to create a law.

To answer your first sentence, those rules that PPAs can only use force when justified are called normative laws. They exist with or without an institution to enforce them. Whether a person lives morally or not or even acknowledges morality does not negate the fact that there is right and wrong. Hopefully you can agree that morals and ethics exist with or without institutions to enforce them.

The second part of the quoted section again asks, what if a PPA becomes a first party arbiter? I agree with you that that is wrong, it is subjective. But what happens when a government becomes a first party arbiter? When a president commits a war crime? creates a bad law? Or if a judge sentences an innocent man? So the same applies to government, but...

I am arguing that what ought to happen is that any man who commits a crime does need a third party arbiter to decide whether he was in the right or the wrong. However, a third party arbiter costs money, and requires that some man or men actually play that role as the arbiter. The reason I guess that is really behind why I don't completely buy into government is that it actually forces some person to pay the costs and to act as the arbiter of a case that they may have nothing to do with and don't want anything to do with. So my solution is that someone's need for a third party arbiter does not constitute a claim on others to pay the burden and act as the arbiter. Thus the only moral solution is where people pay for their own arbitration when needed via PPAs.

This is what I speak of when I try to separate ought from is. There ought to be a third party arbiter, but that doesn't gaurantee or even necessitate that there will be (is) one.

I don’t consider worst case arguments to be inherently fallacious, but I did want to point out that you are doing the same thing you accuse me of.
You are right. I shouldn't do the same thing you are doing. I apologize. I only use Russia to show that a constitution means nothing if the free willed actors (citizens) don't uphold it.

You are arguing that since some rights violations go unpunished, under present conditions, we should move to a system where even more rights violations can go unpunished.

The amount of rights that can go unpunished is potentially infinite in any "scheme", government or PPA. So you are making a false assumption by saying that.

Under present conditions in the United States, it is difficult to get away with murder.  Under your scheme, any landowner that wants to be his own PPA can get away with it easily.  How, then, can you say that the PPA will do a better job of protecting rights?
First, it is not morally okay for the land owner to violate rights of anyone. However, if he was his own PPA and she was her own PPA, and neither actually paid a third party, both were taking significant risks and essentially saying that they didn't need or want protection. This is much like the man who opts to live on a desert island, or in a remote area, where government is basically non-existent. It is not morally right for someone to aggress him or for him to aggress others, but when you do not live under the protection of some agency, government or private, you are taking a risk.

Looking back on my posts I realize I may have implied that it is okay for people to violate rights as long as it is on their property and they act as their own PPA, or even a bad PPA makes bad laws. But I don't approve of violating rights in any way shape or form except in the scenarios where people contractually gave up their rights by paying a "bad" PPA. When a PPA enforces a bad law on someone who hasn't contractually forfeited that right, then it has morally over stepped its bounds and hopefully another third party will set it straight. This is the same thing that I have to say about government, I don't believe a government should enforce bad laws on anyone who hasn't contractually forfeited rights or committed a crime. And if a government does overstep its bounds, then I hope some other party sets it straight. But realistically, in both cases, anarchy and government, that chance is slim because arbitrating costs money and requires people to get involved in things that are seemingly 'not their problem.'

A PPA is not the equivalent of a state, because at any time an individual land owner can withdraw from the PPA (or refuse to join in the first place) and apply whatever rules he wishes.  The citizens of a state are not free to declare themselves independent of the state and proceed to establish and enforce their own rules.

That is not what you said when you described this scheme.  You said:

“Now although they are living side-by-side they have two different institutions to protect their rights, those institutions don’t enforce their rules on that of the other’s territory.”

And you said:

“The PPA will only enforce the laws on the specifically defined area that is all the land that its constituents own, and it will hold the exclusive domain of enforcing rules in that area.”

By what right, then, will you come into my territory and enforce your rules?  My rules say that violating your rules is okay.  Besides, my criminal justice system conducted an investigation and a trial and found me innocent of the charges.  You have the wrong man.

Practically, it wouldn't enforce its rules on your territory, because it costs money and man power. But morally, it would have the right to. I guess the fundamental difference between a PPA and a government that I am just now learning because of this discourse between us, is how it is funded. A (current government with taxation) government might be more inclined to enforce its laws on other areas, because it would appear to be driven more by principles than money, since it has a seemingly unlimited supply of money. Now how your system of government, which essentially has no gauranteed income would do this, I don't know. I think you are making me hate politics in general, since neither will be ideal. Both can easily fall into a subjectivist trap, and end up utterly useless or even harmful.

This is another example of how your scheme grants certain rights to land owners but denys all rights to those that do not own land.  The non-landowners are rightless, defenseless creatures under your set-up.
No, they have rights, however depending on the situation they may have no practical means of protecting those rights. I believe rights exist, as I have said before, with or without government or PPAs, but our problem lies in enforcing those rights. Thank you for bringing up this point. I guess this would be the equivalent of a state gone wrong like Iran.

I am not advocating such a system.  Under a constitutionally limited, representative government, those who “come to power” do not have the ability to unilaterally impose anything. 

To get even one law passed requires the votes of at least 269 other elected representatives (218 in the House plus 51 in the Senate) plus the signature of the President.  To make the law stick, it must (potentially) pass multiple levels of judicial review, and must not be repealed by subsequent legislatures.

All this adds is a collectivist aspect to it, where majorities rule. And the number of votes needed to get a bill passed is arbitrary and does not really matter in this subject. 269 votes compared to 300 million Americans is less than 1%. So if 1% of Americans like that law, then it can get passed. I'm sure I can find a situation where a PPA's laws meets a 1% approval rating. But I don't want to go there, I don't think the number of votes needed is an issue. And as for PPA's the market would act as the multiple levels of checks and balances.

But I hope we can open the floor up now to more people. I am a bit confused now, I am not sure I like anarchy as much, and I still don't like limited governments, so I am kind of in a pickle. Neither seem like a practical solution, and I still don't think that one group of people or a collective have a right to monopolize force by determining threats, while none of its citizens have that right. I don't see how a group can have a right that none of the individuals in that group possess. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS COLLECTIVE RIGHTS.

If you are okay to opening up more responses from people, I would be okay with it.

Your turn, AisA. Thank you for the debate thus far, it's really made me think a lot.

Nimble

EDIT for spelling and grammar.

Edited by nimble
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If I may sum up, it appears at this point that you have three basic objections to the concept of constitutionally limited, representative government:

1. Government requires people to pay for government services they may not want or need.

The reason I guess that is really behind why I don't completely buy into government is that it actually forces some person to pay the costs and to act as the arbiter of a case that they may have nothing to do with and don't want anything to do with.
Objectivism advocates voluntary funding of government and opposes coercive taxation (that may be a redundant expression, but I will use it for clarity). The subject of proper (i.e. voluntary) government financing has been discussed here at length. Miss Rand discusses it in, “Government Financing in a Free Society”, found in The Virtue of Selfishness.

2. Government can degenerate into totalitarianism.

But what happens when a government becomes a first party arbiter? When a president commits a war crime? creates a bad law? Or if a judge sentences an innocent man? So the same applies to government, but...

America has not degenerated into totalitarianism, despite the relentless efforts of modern philosophers, intellectuals, communists, fascists, racists, environmentalists, a rabid anti-America media and the "religious right" -- just to name a few of the movements inimical to a free society. This is a testament to the power of our Constitution and the system of checks and balances created by the founders.

Granted, it’s not an infinite power. Congress, the President and the Supreme Court ignored the first amendment in passing the so-called Campaign Finance Reform Act. Note, however, that we have recourse. We the people can demand a repeal of that law. We can elect different legislators. We can demand an impeachment of the Supreme Court justices.

What happens when a President commits a war crime? We vote him out of office, or we impeach and convict, or we hound him until he resigns. We have recourse.

What happens when a bad law is passed? We demand its repeal and replace the legislators.

What happens when a judge sentences an innocent man? The innocent man appeals. And we minimize the chances of convicting the innocent by enforcing rigorous rules of evidence and procedure to protect the accused. We do not leave the prosecution of criminals to the arbitrary whims of private individuals.

How would the absence of a Constitution, and the absence of these mechanisms of recourse and protection, provide for greater protection of our rights?

3. Government necessarily requires the notion of “collective rights”.

I still don't think that one group of people or a collective have a right to monopolize force by determining threats, while none of its citizens have that right. I don't see how a group can have a right that none of the individuals in that group possess. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS COLLECTIVE RIGHTS.

Individuals do have the right to identify threats. And it is a right they retain in emergencies. What individuals do not have is the right to use force in any manner they please, without question or review.

The right to use retaliatory force exists and is delegated to the government, in all but emergencies. The right to use force arbitrarily does not exist and is not delegated. Thus, there is no right attached to a collective that does not exist in the individual.

Thank you for the debate, Nimble. I have enjoyed it. I agree that we can open this up to everyone else.

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