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Why Objectivists Hate Anarchy (Hint: IP)

Mises post. Archived comments below.

Given the portrayal of an anarchist utopia (Galt’s Gulch) in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged–given the unavoidable conclusion of anarchy given the pro-individual, pro-rights, anti-state views Rand shared with libertarians–it is a bit mystifying why so many Objectivists despise anarchy. Okay, granted, Rand hated it, so many Objectivists feel compelled not to question it–but why would Rand be so hostile to it? Her own novel portrays anarchy positively.

I think I have it figured out. First, note the extreme, almost Galambos-like importance they attach to intellectual property. For example, she actually wrote: “patents are the heart and core of property rights.” I kid you not. (See Rand and Marx.) One pro-IP Objectivist even equates humans-as-inventors to “gods” (Inventors are Like Unto …. GODS…..). (The Randians’ deification of intellectual creation reminds of Galambos, who believed that man has “primary” property rights in his thoughts and ideas, and secondary property rights in tangible goods; see Against Intellectual Property.)

Objectivists are also astute enough to realize that you can’t have IP without a state–hell, you can’t have it without legislation. Thus, not only are Objectivists not opposed to a state, they are not opposed to its use of legislation as a means of “making” law (see Regret: The Glory of State Law).

So: patents and IP are the most important of all rights. And you can’t have IP in anarchy, since IP comes from artificial edict by the legislature of a state. So, we must have a state. QED.

[Mises blog cross-post]

Archived comments:  first group; part 2:

 

Comments (136)

  • Russ
  • Although she did favor IP and patents due to a sort of worship of the creative process, I think Rand’s opposition to anarchism was much more fundamental than that.

    For one, I think she just didn’t understand the ancap position. She thought that PDAs were nothing more than gangs which, instead of acting according to Objective notions of right and wrong, would simply act according to whims and a might makes right ethos. In fact, in “Philosophy: Who Needs It” she compares PDAs to the Mafia.

    Also, I think that her idea of Objectivity led her to the idea that PDAs that didn’t follow Objectively just laws could do nothing but further evil, and thus didn’t deserve to exist.

    Also, don’t forget that she believed that in a free Objectivist society, all citizens would voluntarily pay their taxes (i.e. there would be nobody who decided it was in his interest to be a free rider). In such a fairy tale land, everybody would also decide that they only needed one government, not “competing governments” or PDAs, since the one government would be perfectly, Objectively just, and never violate rights.

    And last but not least, I think she just had an intuition that PDAs would not play nice like anarcho-capitalists think they would, but instead would get into wars, which would eventually result in little warlords ruling little kingdoms, as has often happened in history when there is a power vacuum due to the downfall of a genuine state. I happen to agree with this last objection.

  • Published: August 17, 2009 11:33 PM

  • Brian Gladish
  • Still dragging in Galambos. Galambos proposed free-market, contractual approaches to IP protection; did not believe in property rights (IP or otherwise) as natural rights (as von Mises did not); did not suggest patent or copyright in any form that required coercion; and finally, rejected the state completely. My many questions about and differences with Galambos’s views, which I actually heard directly by the way, do not prevent me from suggesting that you are using him as a straw man about whom your readers (and you) are largely uninformed. You might instead try using Lysander Spooner, who published his views openly, as your target. Or even Murray Rothbard, who came out for copyright in _The Ethics of Liberty_ (pg 123).

    As an aside, classical (socialist) anarchists would say that minarchists or conservatives are astute enough to know that you can’t have tangible property “without a state–hell.” Saying it doesn’t make it so.

  • Published: August 17, 2009 11:33 PM

  • Jedi X’Bones
  • I found two reasons why Rand opposed anarchy.

    (1) Anarchy without law will lead to chaos and to end this chaos the people will call for a ruler. Thus anarchy leads to collectivism and statism.

    (2) Competing security agencies (as in Nozick’s state of nature) will need the state for settling their disputes.

    These cases are mentioned in Peikoff: “Objectivism”.

    But you are right that Rand likes creative men and that this includes intellectual property.

    Regards

    Jedi X’Bones

  • Published: August 17, 2009 11:41 PM

  • NonrandomLibertarian
  • There was a fictional arbitrator, a former sitting US judge, portrayed in Galt’s Gulch. So there wasn’t necessarily a lack of a legal system. Probably a polycentric legal system based on libertarian principles. See Randy Barnett – Structure of Liberty.
  • Published: August 18, 2009 12:18 AM

  • Gil
  • “And last but not least, I think she just had an intuition that PDAs would not play nice like anarcho-capitalists think they would, but instead would get into wars, which would eventually result in little warlords ruling little kingdoms, as has often happened in history when there is a power vacuum due to the downfall of a genuine state. I happen to agree with this last objection.”

    I agree with you too, Russ.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 12:23 AM

  • Renegade Division
  • Also, don’t forget that she believed that in a free Objectivist society, all citizens would voluntarily pay their taxes

    There is no such thing such as ‘voluntarily taxes’. Imagine if a milkman in your neighborhood kicks out all the other milkmen and then he says, ‘I am the minimal-milkman, I will provide you the milk and you can pay me voluntarily’.
    Is that really voluntary considering he first acquired a monopoly in milk production and distribution using force, and then if you really need milk you will have to pay for the milk otherwise nobody will have any milk??

  • Published: August 18, 2009 12:30 AM

  • ared
  • The fact that Rand unjustly accused others (like Rothbard) of plagiarism probably adds to this.
  • Published: August 18, 2009 1:12 AM

  • hl
  • Wasn’t it Mencken who said that women are fundementally better-suited to tyranny? It’s in the blood. She yearned to be taken, dominated, exploited, hammered, so to speak, etc.. Of course, what better ultimate “tool” than the State? Oh, take me; take me now!
  • Published: August 18, 2009 1:31 AM

  • Brian Allewelt
  • Interesting, two consecutive blog topics on Objectivism, right after I finish reading Atlas Shrugged. Funny how that stuff works.
  • Published: August 18, 2009 1:35 AM

  • Ostralion
  • Allewelt-
    I think it’s the collective unconscious. Rand mentioned that in Atlas Shrugged!
    Rand had a love affair with the American Constitution, but she still wanted some changes made. However, Objectivism loves a Federal structure, or Rand’s characters would have had a radical alternative in place.
  • Published: August 18, 2009 2:01 AM

  • Gil
  • I do believe Triple H said that allowing women to participate in politics helped the rise in the Welfare State.
  • Published: August 18, 2009 2:51 AM

  • anon
  • And Rothbardians adore anarchy because it has never been tried.
  • Published: August 18, 2009 4:47 AM

  • Artisan
  • Rand is just a (very gifted) novelist first of all. She doesn’t pretend to be “The Truth”, even less than von Mises. The tax thing might even be taken ironically.

    Rand’s expression of Government hatred is still very strong (in the Fountainhead also), unlike this post from Kinsella suggests. Of course it’s not all perfectly logical, but mere logic doesn’t make good novels.

    As for von Mises, he did display an incredible insight and comprehension for the creative process in art, which is definitely missing in the articles ever published on the Mises.org site unfortunately. It seems like authors are not inspired by artistic production at all anymore, like in the old days of Economics. I’m expecting soon an economical critic of religious faith.

    Politically speaking, anarchy is just a very distant and most attractive, though rather “unsustainable” ideal, not an alternative. Just like normality is the ideal of this imperfect world. To suggest more seems somewhat … self indulgent.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 5:32 AM

  • Borislav
  • I despise anarchy = chaos.

    I despise IP (copyright and patents) and IP laws, too.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 7:10 AM

  • jon
  • god creates. it’s because inventors do NOT create, but rather invent, discover, fashion, engineer, and so on, that we can distinguish both ourselves from god and ourselves from other life NOT “made in god’s image.”

    anarchy is not unsustainable. a crime committed in an anarchist society remains a crime, whether it be robbery on a small scale or usurpation of whole economies. it is precisely because establishment cannot ever change economic law that anarchy and the free market is, in fact, the reality god gave you, whether you pretend otherwise or not. there is no change to a “new state” of the world; the state is a fiction, not an institution.

    it is hardly self-indulgent as to demonstrate this is to demonstrate that it is the power and glory of god, living in and functioning upon our everyday experience. rather it is a failure of moral courage that rand and others like her show, that in the end, they remain dependent on some legal fiction, some institution, some force other than god.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 7:19 AM

  • Artisan
  • jon, don’t misunderstand me. When I write “unsustainable perfection” I’m talking about the reality of state monopolies disappearing in our country.

    Of course I’m not saying the idea of that absence is unsustainable.

    Still when I read published in Atlas Schrugged that the “Taggard founder killed a senator because that State servant intended to pass a law to prevent the railroad development and short sell the stocks …” I don’t think Ayn Rand deserves your harsh commentary about her lack of moral courage.

    I beg you thereby to consider it was harder to get her book published than to just post an opinion on a blog like we do.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 7:54 AM

  • Zac
  • Why am I seeing so many people relate anarchy to chaos? I’ve been reading and studying on Mises.org for a couple years now, and I’ve never read anything that equates anarchy to chaos. I’ve always read (and personally agree with) that anarchy is the removal of the state. Anarchy = no government. There would still be law and order, just not the coercive force of violence used by the government. When people equate anarchy to chaos, it’s almost as though they believe that only government can provide law and order to benefit society. Am I missing something here?
  • Published: August 18, 2009 8:56 AM

  • Pedro Carleial
  • A rationalist trying to “rason” rationalistically about why Objectivists defend a state. The whole argument is a perfect example of what Objectivism is NOT.

    Hilarious.

    Objectivists hold that property rights are a recognition of causality. They exist as recognition that something exists because someone created it. This is why property rights apply to intellectual creations as well as material creations.

    A rationalist who views property rights merely as an expedient means to deal with scarcity is worlds away from understanding this simple reasoning.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 8:57 AM

  • Charles Hueter
  • Rand despised mainstream libertarianism because she believed it lacked a coherent underlying philosophy. I think one of the reasons Objectivists dismiss anarchy is because they are concerned non-Objectivist philosophy would emerge (altruism, religion, etc.) and become acceptable or dominant in a hypothetical fully voluntary society. I bet a great deal of their resistance to the idea is because they share the conservative’s desire for preserving (The One True) culture.

    In any event, I have yet to read a rebuttal of Roy Child’s anarchism-from-objectivism argument: http://www.isil.org/ayn-rand/childs-open-letter.html

  • Published: August 18, 2009 9:05 AM

  • RWW
  • Objectivists hold that property rights are a recognition of causality. They exist as recognition that something exists because someone created it.

    And this necessitates the idea of property rights because…?

    A rationalist who views property rights merely as an expedient means to deal with scarcity is worlds away from understanding this simple reasoning.

    In other words, “You only disagree with me because you don’t understand my position.” Wonderful.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 9:56 AM

  • Russ
  • Artisan wrote:

    “Rand is just a (very gifted) novelist first of all. She doesn’t pretend to be “The Truth”, even less than von Mises. The tax thing might even be taken ironically.”

    First, Rand was not *just* a novelist. She wrote many books on her philosophy that were not novels.

    Second, she sure as hell did think she had the Truth, even more than Mises. She couldn’t even stand libertarians who weren’t Objectivists, because they got to a libertarian position in the wrong way. She looks on them as Rothbard looked on “modal” libertarians.

    Third, I don’t think Rand had enough of a sense of humor in her to write anything for ironic effect. She knew that anarcho-capitalism wouldn’t work, and a minimal state was needed. But she didn’t like the idea of involuntary taxation to fund that state, so she dreamed of a world where, thanks to her philosophy, a New Objectivist Man would solve her dilemma.

    Lastly, whether she was a *gifted* novelist is open for debate. I’m not an Objectivist, but I like her non-fiction works better.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 10:12 AM

  • asdf
  • “Okay, granted, Rand hated it, so many Objectivists feel compelled not to question it”

    I loled.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 10:19 AM

  • Russ
  • RWW wrote:

    “”Objectivists hold that property rights are a recognition of causality. They exist as recognition that something exists because someone created it.”

    And this necessitates the idea of property rights because…?”

    Exactly. I am perfectly capable of acknowledging that a piece of software, or a novel, or whatever, exists because someone created it. It in no way logically follows that I must acknowledge that the creator of that work is sole owner of it for an arbitrary number of years. Somebody who bases her philosophy on natural law should understand that this involves taking into consideration the *nature* of things. And information has a different nature than material things do. But here Rand’s natural law-based philosophy succumbs to her more Nietzschean side.

    “”A rationalist who views property rights merely as an expedient means to deal with scarcity is worlds away from understanding this simple reasoning.”

    In other words, “You only disagree with me because you don’t understand my position.” Wonderful.”

    Again, agreed. It’s an easy position to understand. It’s also an easy position to disagree with.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 10:22 AM

  • Pedro Carleial
  • “You only disagree with me because you don’t understand my position.”

    I dislike the practice of misrepresenting another person’s position on an issue in order to disqualify it.

    The original post qua “Objectivists are against anarchy because they are in favor of intellectual property” is an example of this.

    I don’t care why you disagree with me and I’m not trying to convince you.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 11:13 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Rand despised mainstream libertarianism because she believed it lacked a coherent underlying philosophy.

    Gotta agree that this is the closest to what I think. The libertarian “hippies” were what she called concept-stealers, taking key ideas from Objectivism without taking Objectivism as a whole (sacrilege!).

    Still, I don’t see how anyone can believe in Objectivism without becoming an anarchist–her objections to anarchism were mere knee-jerk reactions without much thought put into them.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 11:17 AM

  • Stephen Houghton
  • “Still, I don’t see how anyone can believe in Objectivism without becoming an anarchist–her objections to anarchism were mere knee-jerk reactions without much thought put into them.”

    But we have compeating governments. (The Mob, Drug Dealers, etc) Why has this not resulted in more freedom? If market anarchism is really the best way, why don’t the posters join the agorist movement.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 12:21 PM

  • Pedro Carleial
  • Its funny how they keep calling for the disbanding the major player in the current “protection agency market” instead of setting up and offering a better product, isn’t it?
  • Published: August 18, 2009 12:43 PM

  • Worldview
  • Rand’s entire “philosophy” was fraught with contradictions and nonsense. So is there any wonder she had the same nonsense with her politics?

    See this lecture for more on why Rand needs to be dismissed based on purely Randian reasons:

    http://www.trinitylectures.org/MP3/The_Philosophy_of_Ayn_Rand_Refuted.mp3

    More here:
    http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/without_a_prayer.htm

  • Published: August 18, 2009 12:53 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • But we have competing governments. (The Mob, Drug Dealers, etc) Why has this not resulted in more freedom?

    Absurd–competing governments do not equal anarchism or more freedom (and I would argue that the Mob and drug dealers are not “governments”, anyway).
    Define your terms. A common definition of “government” is an organization that has a monopoly on the use of force in a geographic region. There is nothing fundamental to the essence of government that it is supposed to provide protection to its citizens–that’s an idea that was tacked on after the fact by classical liberal philosophers. Since anarchists favor no monopoly and are against the initiation of force, governments are hardly considered forces for freedom, competing or not.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 12:57 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Its funny how they keep calling for the disbanding the major player in the current “protection agency market” instead of setting up and offering a better product, isn’t it?

    What’s funny is how some people fail to understand no matter how many times something is explained to them.

    Not everybody can be a good entrepreneur, even if he can provide a great explanation of capitalism, free markets, and the functions of the entrepreneur. Perhaps you should re-read some of that information on how capitalism and markets work, especially the parts about the division of labor and the dispersed knowledge of the marketplace.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 1:06 PM

  • Joe B
  • Rand seems to subscribe to a labor theory of value, which is ironic considering her disdain for socialists.

    For all of her support of free markets, she doesn’t seem to understand the fundamentals of economics.

    A labor theory of value is a great moral principle. Everyone should get the full value of everything he creates. However, Rand, like Marx, doesn’t recognize that this value is set subjectively by the buyer. Both developed their philosopies from a moral foundation rather than developing their morals based on economic reality as Mises did.

    Since IP is not inherently scarce, it must be made scarce in order to have economic value. John Galt chose to make his engine design scarce by destroying the prototype. He had every right to do this. But if Dagny Taggart had succeeded in copying his design, Galt would have had no claim to her creation.

    If you want to protect your IP, you must do so at your own cost. State protection of IP (and physical property) merely socializes these costs.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 1:13 PM

  • Joe B
  • Rand seems to subscribe to a labor theory of value, which is ironic considering her disdain for socialists.

    For all of her support of free markets, she doesn’t seem to understand the fundamentals of economics.

    A labor theory of value is a great moral principle. Everyone should get the full value of everything he creates. However, Rand, like Marx, doesn’t recognize that this value is set subjectively by the buyer. Both developed their philosopies from a moral foundation rather than developing their morals based on economic reality as Mises did.

    Since IP is not inherently scarce, it must be made scarce in order to have economic value. John Galt chose to make his engine design scarce by destroying the prototype. He had every right to do this. But if Dagny Taggart had succeeded in copying his design, Galt would have had no claim to her creation.

    If you want to protect your IP, you must do so at your own cost. State protection of IP (and physical property) merely socializes these costs.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 1:15 PM

  • Stephan Kinsella
  • Stephen Houghton:

    “But we have compeating governments. (The Mob, Drug Dealers, etc) Why has this not resulted in more freedom?”

    So the way this question is worded, you seem to grant that “freedom” is a value or goal that we all agree on–and I take it this means the libertarian conception of freedom, meaning freedom from aggression. Right?

    This implies you are opposed to aggression.

    If you are opposed to aggression, you are opposed to institutionalized aggression, right?–including that perpetrated by states, correct?

    Now, it is beyond cavil that states by their nature employ aggression. So any libertarian who is truly opposed to aggression has to view states as illegitimate and criminal.

    Correct? This is what it means to be an anarchist. It means: (a) to oppose aggression; and (b) to recognize that the state necessarily perpetrates aggression. That is all. (See What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist.)

    Now, since you seem to oppose aggression, yet have some fumbling reasons “against” anarchism even though opposition to aggression implies endorsement of anarchism, please explain which of the above you disagree with: is it (a), or (b)? Do you favor aggression, after all; or do you actually somehow find yourself able to believe a non-aggressive state is possible? Which is it?

  • Published: August 18, 2009 1:15 PM

  • Stephan Kinsella
  • Stephen Houghton:

    “But we have compeating governments. (The Mob, Drug Dealers, etc) Why has this not resulted in more freedom?”

    So the way this question is worded, you seem to grant that “freedom” is a value or goal that we all agree on–and I take it this means the libertarian conception of freedom, meaning freedom from aggression. Right?

    This implies you are opposed to aggression.

    If you are opposed to aggression, you are opposed to institutionalized aggression, right?–including that perpetrated by states, correct?

    Now, it is beyond cavil that states by their nature employ aggression. So any libertarian who is truly opposed to aggression has to view states as illegitimate and criminal.

    Correct? This is what it means to be an anarchist. It means: (a) to oppose aggression; and (b) to recognize that the state necessarily perpetrates aggression. That is all. (See What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist.)

    Now, since you seem to oppose aggression, yet have some fumbling reasons “against” anarchism even though opposition to aggression implies endorsement of anarchism, please explain which of the above you disagree with: is it (a), or (b)? Do you favor aggression, after all; or do you actually somehow find yourself able to believe a non-aggressive state is possible? Which is it?

  • Published: August 18, 2009 1:16 PM

  • Pedro Carleial
  • “Rand seems to subscribe to a labor theory of value”
    No.

    “do you actually somehow find yourself able to believe a non-aggressive state is possible?”
    An Objectivist will answer thusly.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 2:33 PM

  • Russ
  • Michael A. Clem wrote:

    “”Its funny how they keep calling for the disbanding the major player in the current “protection agency market” instead of setting up and offering a better product, isn’t it?”

    …Not everybody can be a good entrepreneur, even if he can provide a great explanation of capitalism, free markets, and the functions of the entrepreneur….”

    Not only that, but trying to set up a protection agency in the current “market” would be just as successful as trying to run a private health insurance agency in the face of a public option, or private schools in the face of the public option; the public option will tend to crowd out the private option, because people are forced to pay for the public option anyway, and if they want a private option are forced to pay twice.

    Besides which, just like Rand, the State would not allow true competing agencies at all. If parties refuse to live up to their agreements, then the State assumes the right to use coercive force. It will not allow any PDA the same right.

    Joe B wrote:

    “Rand seems to subscribe to a labor theory of value…”

    No, but she did subscribe to a Lockean labor theory of *ownership*, which assumes that property belongs to whoever mixes their labor with it. A consistent natural law theory would instead take into consideration the differing natures of material goods and information.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 2:48 PM

  • Vincent Cook
  • Rand’s statism ran deeper than a mere rejection of anarchism. Her fundamental view of politics was that social order is the product of a grand ideological struggle, which in turn is driven by the innovation and spread of fundamental philosophical ideas. In this context, the state is merely a mechanism for translating the outcome of the intellectual conflict into a concrete system of governance. Statelessness is equated with the impossibility of realizing any coherent set of ideas in a social order, thus undermining the social function of philosophers.

    The raison d’etre of the Objectivist movement is to act as the phalanx of “new intellectuals” for spreading the ideas of what is supposedly the greatest and most heroic philosophical genius of all time. The Austro-libertarian view that individual rights arise primarily in the context of an unplanned, spontaneous social order seriously calls into question the entire Objectivist enterprise.

    It is irrelevant that there is a shared belief in individual rights, or even that some advocates of the Austrian view are classical liberals and not anarchists. Without the state legislating individual rights into existence, mass acceptance of the philosophical fundamentals of Objectivism loses its political significance, and the rigid ideological posturing advocated by Rand becomes pointless, if not counter-productive. Libertarian arguments against the state (or for a non-state source of rights) not only contradict Rand’s beliefs, they challenge the underlying rationale for Rand’s movement.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 3:10 PM

  • jgo
  • I get the impression that some people’s “anarchy” is other people’s “minarchy”.

    What’s achievable in reality and what one can envision in a “perfect” or even near perfect world are entirely different things.

    Anarchy is not practical, and any archy requires eternal vigilance to keep chained.

    There is no property other than intellectual property. Why is an apple valuable? Because we know it’s edible, that it can be made into edible apple-sauce, apple pies, apple juice, apple cider. Otherwise it’d just be a thing on or under a tree; valueless.

    “Mixing labor” is merely an awkward way of talking around the fact that value must be created, that there are no “natural” resources, but just valueless stuff that we, by our intellectual effort, can turn into valuable resources.

    As Sowell pointed out, the “cave-men” had all the same stuff that we have now. The difference between them and us is knowledge.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 3:40 PM

  • Stephan Kinsella
  • jgo:

    “There is no property other than intellectual property. Why is an apple valuable? Because we know it’s edible, that it can be made into edible apple-sauce, apple pies, apple juice, apple cider. Otherwise it’d just be a thing on or under a tree; valueless.”

    There is no property right in value. There is a difference between wealth and property.

    See “>Sheldon Richman on Intellectual Property versus Liberty:

    … creation is not the source of ownership; rather, that the source of ownership is “Prior ownership of the inputs through purchase, gift, or original appropriation.” In this connection, as I noted in Objectivist Law Prof Mossoff on Copyright; or, the Misuse of Labor, Value, and Creation Metaphors, Hans-Hermann Hoppe writes in his classic article Banking, Nation States and International Politics: A Sociological Reconstruction of the Present Economic Order:

    One can acquire and increase wealth either through homesteading, production and contractual exchange, or by expropriating and exploiting homesteaders, producers, or contractual exchangers. There are no other ways.

    Note that Hoppe here acknowledges that “production” is a means of gaining “wealth”. But this does not mean that creation is an independent source of ownership or rights–production is not the creation of new matter; it is the transformation of things from one form to another; things one necessarily already owns. Therefore, the resulting more valuable finished products–the results of one’s labor applied to one’s property–give the owner greater wealth, but not additional property rights. If I carve a statue out of my stone, I already owned the stone, so I naturally own the resulting statue; what has changed is that I have transformed my property into a new configuration that is worth more to me, and possibly to others. (This is discussed further in Owning Thoughts and Labor.) (Similarly, if two people trade goods, each is now better off–i.e., the trade has created wealth, without creating new things–already-owned things were what was traded.)

    “”Mixing labor” is merely an awkward way of talking around the fact that value must be created, that there are no “natural” resources, but just valueless stuff that we, by our intellectual effort, can turn into valuable resources.”

    See above. “Value” refers to the fact that people value things, and demonstrate this preference in action; or to the fact that we make things more useful by transforming them. The ownership is of the material factors that are so transformed.

    “As Sowell pointed out, the “cave-men” had all the same stuff that we have now. The difference between them and us is knowledge.”

    This trite observation does not prove there are property rights in patterns of information.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 4:09 PM

  • MichaelM
  • Objectivists have a number of ethical, political and utilitarian reasons to condemn anarchy. Here’s one high on the list:

    The first and foremost exercise of liberty is the justifiably confident expectation of it.

    Therefore, a fundamental prerequisite of liberty is that the standards and means of using defensive force be, in principle, objectively defined and applied in a uniform way within any given area and that it be knowable by all subject to such use within that area in advance of their choice of any action.

    Those who advocate any form of anarchy seek to preclude the institutionalization of objectified defensive force, the inevitable consequence of which would be a de facto institutionalization of arbitrary force.

    Liberty, however, only exists to the degree arbitrary force is absent.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 6:05 PM

  • MichaelM
  • jgo said:

    “There is no property other than intellectual property.” Stephan disagreed, but jgo is right.

    The right to property is not a right to entities themselves. There is no ethical principle deriving from the nature of man that can establish a moral claim to control an entity in the absence of any application of ideas and actions to it. A property right is the right to control the use of unowned entities because they are the repository of the product of an autonomous application of ideas and actions to existence.

    When someone creates an application of an idea to an entity that previously did not exist, only he has a moral claim to benefit from whatever potential position that application can generate in the value hierarchies of others, because that position is a direct result of his and only his actions.

    By what moral standard does anyone else claim the right to decide that “some” of its potential benefit is sufficient and the rest must be transferred to the public domain? There is no such standard.

    Consequently, all property rights are rights to intellectual property that exists in two different states: unembodied and embodied. Denial of one denies the other.

  • Published: August 18, 2009 6:32 PM

  • BioTube
  • Michael, that argument is weak: if I grab a rock nobody ever owned before, I become its owner by virtue of being its first possessor; if I take some sticks I’ve also homesteaded and build the first ballista out of them, I do not own the idea of a ballista or even that particular design: somebody else’s use of the design does not interfere with my use of it(it might interfere with the effectiveness, but not the use).
  • Published: August 18, 2009 9:16 PM

  • MichaelM
  • BioTube:

    “if I grab a rock nobody ever owned before, I become its owner by virtue of being its first possessor; …”

    You can’t counter my position with this. It conforms with my explanation. Note that you are not claiming to own the rock by having it merely come into your field of vision. You have to identify it, value it, take action to pick it up, take it home, and verify it is of the value you surmised. It is those actions of your mind and your body that establish your claim to rightfully control the use of that rock. If it contains gold, emeralds, or just a pretty color or interesting texture, it will also have value to others. But you would not even own that value without applying your reason and actions appropriately to comprehend that value and trade it on that basis.

    The principle establishing ownership is the same whether you are first, second, or any later owner. Owners after the first will gain control of the rock by trading some other entity that embodies the application of ideas and actions. Everything you rightfully own is directly or indirectly an embodiment of your ideas and actions, even if it was merely a gift to you because you are who you are. And even that value of someone’s is not for the chemicals of which your body consists, but rather for the content of your mind and your cumulative actions.

    The concept “first possession” cannot establish a political right to ownership, because it has no moral base to stand on. Politics is the extension of ethics in the context of the life of an individual to the context of the individual’s life in a society of many individual’s interacting over the long term. Valid political rights must derive from valid moral principles.

    Because reason and action are a person’s only and ultimate tools for sustaining and perfecting his life, it follows that it is morally right that each person be autonomous in the use of his mind and actions, including any and all product thereof. This principle is applied to politics by defining a right to property that protects one’s ownership of that which is a product of one’s mind and actions, either directly by creation or indirectly by trade.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 12:19 AM

  • Joe B
  • Regarding IP, I don’t view copying and stealing as equivalent. While they both benefit the “thief” without the owner’s consent, stealing deprives the owner of the ability to use a good, while copying does not. I view this deprivation as the crime. Copying may deprive an inventor of an opportunity to profit from an idea, but such opportunities can’t be owned. The original idea remains intact.

    Furthermore, in trading a created object, you are necessarily passing on the idea or design embodied in that object. You may have received another idea embodied in an object in exchange. You now own this idea, and your counterparty owns yours – although you each retain your original designs in your head. You no longer have any claim to how they use this object, including as a model for creating copies of it. To do so would violate their property rights, unless you have entered a contract prior to the trade explicitly restricting such actions.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 1:32 AM

  • jgo
  • SK’s quotes don’t stand up.

    Why and how would something be “appropriated”? (“appropriate”, from ad=to plus proprius=own, so it’s owned because it’s owned?! continuing… “to set aside for a particular purpose”.)

    It became owned by recognizing their value for my purpose (whoever the “me” is in the example) at a point when no one else has recognized that the stuff has a value for their purposes, i.e. by the first intellectual act of valuing.

    Now, you may have been taught by someone else that a rock is valuable as a missile, or fire-starter, or arrow-head, or iron ore, or counter-top… but that particular rock was not yet valued, and not owned, until you came along, valuing and creating ownership of it.

    Once you own it, of course, you can trade it, or give it, alter it, or make use of it for additional purposes as they come to mind. And once some one person owns it for one purpose, another can trade, wishing to obtain it for a purpose he values higher and of which the previous owner may or may not be oblivious.

    One of the more difficult issues, in this over-populated world, are instances where people bought some land and home because of the view, but did they really buy the elements that make up that view? Do they own that tree on “their” land, or does the neighbor, who bought their land when it included the view of that tree own it wholly or in part? Or what if they bought the land, but the tree now blocks their view of the ocean or the shoe factory or steel mill? Or what if they bought the land with the intention to open a great new chicken processing plant in order to put Tyson out of business? Or to open an all-night punk rock emporium on the patio?

  • Published: August 19, 2009 9:03 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Those who advocate any form of anarchy seek to preclude the institutionalization of objectified defensive force, the inevitable consequence of which would be a de facto institutionalization of arbitrary force.

    The mistake here is so fundamental that I’m surprised that you don’t see it. Institutions do not have to be governmental institutions–they can be private institutions, established and enforced by civil society and tradition. Furthermore, because governmental institutions rely upon the use of force and make politically-influenced decisions, there is no way to ensure that they will provide an objective legal system. There’s little or no incentive for government to be objective.

    A look at the history of law shows how common law achieved objective standards without coercion, whereas government adoption of common law led to unstandard deviations, largely because common law was not a set of rules, but a process, and governments did not adopt the process but merely the rules that had been developed up to that time.

    So why would Objectivists think that objectivity can be obtained through the most subjective, coercive, and dangerous organization in our society?

  • Published: August 19, 2009 9:23 AM

  • Pedro Carleial
  • “Market anarchists” – and I use quotes because the concept is a contradiction – presumes multiple agencies competing to provide the service of protecting (by force) their clients from others who would presumably use force against them.

    We already have that. Go forth and compete with the protection agency known as United States Government.

    This is when the “market anarchist” complains that the government (by force) precludes competition. Well, of course it does. That is what a “market” in physical violence means.

    Oh, but anarchy would have none of that, they argue. And who or what would keep the “competing protection agencies” from using force against each other, against their own clients, against innocent bystanders?

    “The people will favor the agency that provides better service, edging out aggressive agencies” they argue. And this is where the root of the error lies. The error is applying that wich is true within a framework of individual rights – namely, customer choice – to a “market” in force, where the “customer” BY DEFINITION has his rights at stake in the very transaction that he is supposedly “free” to opt out from.

    A “market” in force is no market at all, it is a shakedown. Markets, customer choice, Capitalism are logical and practical dependants on a framework of individual rights and it is circular reasoning to assume that markets can provide their own necessary conditions.

    If “market competition” worked in the realm of rights protection, a despicable, wasteful, tyrannical entity such as a welfare state would not exist. Yet they exist and show no sign of succumbing to competition.

    All the elements available to today’s governments which they use to violate rights wholesale while staying in power would be available to “competing protection agencies”. Many would use them, and there is no reason to believe that the rapacious rights violating agencies would be less successful than the free market rights respecting sort.

    Hell, they are winning handily as we speak.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 10:37 AM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Pedro Carleial:

    “Market anarchists” – and I use quotes because the concept is a contradiction – presumes multiple agencies competing to provide the service of protecting (by force) their clients from others who would presumably use force against them.

    We already have that. Go forth and compete with the protection agency known as United States Government.”

    This is when the “market anarchist” complains that the government (by force) precludes competition. Well, of course it does. That is what a “market” in physical violence means.

    Oh, but anarchy would have none of that, they argue. And who or what would keep the “competing protection agencies” from using force against each other, against their own clients, against innocent bystanders?

    How, pray tell, do these ramblings prove that states do not employ aggression, or that aggression is justified? Is it your contention that states do not employ aggression? Or that aggression is legitimate? If you say yes to either, you are no libertarian. If you deny both, then you are an anarchist (see my reply to Houghton, above). Which is it?

  • Published: August 19, 2009 11:20 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Pedro, you’re confusing what service is being provided. The service we seek is third party arbitration and protection of rights, not physical violence in general. One of the most important distinctions of libertarianism is that between initiating force, defensive force, and retaliatory force. Private protection agencies would be in the service of providing defensive force and publicaly-justified retaliatory force. Governments are fundamentally agencies that initiate force, like criminals, and if they didn’t initiate force, they wouldn’t even exist.

    The only contradiction here is the idea that governments must violate rights in order to protect rights.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 12:03 PM

  • MichaelM
  • Michael Clem:

    “The mistake here is so fundamental that I’m surprised that you don’t see it. Institutions do not have to be governmental institutions–they can be private institutions…”

    If you will review my statements you will find that I did not specify any particular format or number of agencies of defensive force. That is not the issue. The only question is how many different sets of standards (rights) defensive force may be applied in any given area.

    If there are multiple sets of standards, force is arbitrary. There is no moral principle to justify subjecting oneself or anyone else to the arbitrary use of force. So there can be no such political right either.

    While I cannot presently see how the use of force could be objectified and knowable in advance per one set of standards without at least one agency as the final arbiter and that agency subject to the will of the people, you are invited by me to design one. You may not, however, lay claim to any right to set all of the agencies and courts free to enforce “competitive” systems of rights. There simply is no such right and never will be.

    Another primary error you are making in addition to ignoring the evil of arbitrary force is to blame an institution per se for the horrors of history perpetrated in its name. The errors committed in the name of governments are committed by the persons who define and occupy them, just as the system of political rights is not inherently corrupt just because some have declared education to be a right.

    These people are, like all human beings, volitional. Their decisions are not determined by the institution. There is nothing about private defense agencies that could possibly preclude the same behavior of these people with the same consequences. Incentives are impotent in the face of evil. Introducing third party arbitration as a solution is a diversion that evades the issue at hand. First of all, that option already exists, and secondly, it is impotent against a recalcitrant perpetrator.

    History is driven by the philosophies of the populations. To make governments and/or defense agencies moral and just, one must first make the dominant portion of the population moral and just.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 1:29 PM

  • Pedro Carleial
  • SK:
    “How, pray tell, do these ramblings prove that states do not employ aggression, or that aggression is justified?”

    They don’t. They do illustrate why a market in force as a system protective of individual rights is a contradiction.

    SK:
    “Is it your contention that states do not employ aggression? ”

    It is my contention, and that of Objectivism, that states need not initiate force – though states do and have done that on a massive scale throughout history.

    There are two typical anarchist arguments as to why this would not be possible. The first is that a state, by definition, has to be funded by taxation. This is basically begging the question.

    The second, more interesting, is that to keep a monopoly on retaliatory force the state would have to initiate force against its “rivals”.

    A legitimate state would be voluntarily funded and would be limited to using retaliatory force against individuals and organizations that initiate force.

    How does such a state remain a monopoly on the use of force? Many Objectivists here argue it is legitimate that the state remove potential rivals in that these would be an inherent threat to freedom. I don’t share this view, mere capacity to use force is not a threat – absent intent.

    I take the view that it is sufficient that the state retaliate against these other potential rivals when and if they initiate force – retaining ultimate sovereignty and holding all other entities within the area accountable under its laws – but not retaliating any individual or organization who’s use of force is shown to be retaliatory and, therefore, legitimate.

    In other words, individuals and private organizations would be free to “take the law into their own hands”. But not to make up contradicting laws. And the government would hold them accountable for their actions.

    Such a system, assuming the law this government enforces actually limits itself to protecting individual rights, would be absolutely free – though with government. Any individual would be free to take any action not initiating force.

    Michael Clem:
    “Private protection agencies would be in the service of providing defensive force and publicaly-justified retaliatory force.”

    And who, pray, keeps them limited to this? There is no limit to what force wielding organizations will do except what other force wielding organizations can stop them – by force – from doing. This is civil war, either a cold war or one with gunfights in the streets.

    Your argument boils down to: “but my organizations respect rights, just because”.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 1:34 PM

  • Brian
  • Pedro,

    “A legitimate state would be voluntarily funded and would be limited to using retaliatory force against individuals and organizations that initiate force.”

    What is the difference between this “legitimate state” and an anarchist’s “private protection agency”?

    I can’t tell how this argument is anything more than an argument of definitions. What do you mean by a ‘state’ vs a ‘government’? Are they simply synonyms?

  • Published: August 19, 2009 1:50 PM

  • Bala
  • SK

    “How, pray tell, do these ramblings prove that states do not employ aggression, or that aggression is justified?”

    Firstly, I think starting a rebuttal by labelling an argument as “rambling” is the first sign of intellectual weakness. It further shows you as lacking the patience to think or the politeness to ask nicely.

    Secondly, I don’t think Pedro is trying to prove that States do not employ agression. All he was trying to show is how futile the concept of anarchy is. Specifically, his point is that the notion of market forces and customer choice deciding which purveyor of the service of “force” will win is, to be charitable, is laughable.

    Thirdly, no one (least of all Pedro) seems to be making the case that states do not employ aggression. Rather, the point is that human welfare is far worse off without a government than with one.

    Finally, when you say “aggression is not legitimate” (so I infer), are you not guilty of forgetting that it is necessary to factor in he against whom agression is initiated to answer this question? I think it is futile to label aggression per se as illegitimate. It is illegitimate when launched against someone who has not violated the rights of another. It is legitimate when it is launched against someone who has violated the rights of another and is in proportion to the extent of the violation.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 1:56 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Pedro Carleial:

    SK:
    “How, pray tell, do these ramblings prove that states do not employ aggression, or that aggression is justified?”

    They don’t.

    good. this is progress.

    They do illustrate why a market in force as a system protective of individual rights is a contradiction.

    So? Have you read this: What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist? The anarchist is simlpy someone who recognizes that the state is criminal. Do you recognize this, or not?

    SK:
    “Is it your contention that states do not employ aggression? ”

    It is my contention, and that of Objectivism, that states need not initiate force – though states do and have done that on a massive scale throughout history.

    Well, first, EVERY state has committed aggression. So I am not sure why you think a minimal state is even possible. SEcond, even a minimal state commits aggression. It does this when it imposes taxes, and when it uses force to outlaw competing private defense agencies. How can you deny this?

    There are two typical anarchist arguments as to why this would not be possible. The first is that a state, by definition, has to be funded by taxation. This is basically begging the question.

    The second, more interesting, is that to keep a monopoly on retaliatory force the state would have to initiate force against its “rivals”.

    A legitimate state would be voluntarily funded and would be limited to using retaliatory force against individuals and organizations that initiate force.

    This is ridiculous. If you count on voluntary charity it’s going to be puny and paltry. This is ridiculous, as was Rand’s laughable and economically ignorant suggestion that a “lottery” could support the state.

    And any group that has a monopoly and has power to block competition can charge monopoly fees which are tantamount to taxes; and, any group that has a monopoly cannot help but abuse it, and act as if they have a monopoly.

    I take the view that it is sufficient that the state retaliate against these other potential rivals when and if they initiate force – retaining ultimate sovereignty and holding all other entities within the area accountable under its laws

    And vice-versa, right? So the free PDA coudl attack your little crypto-wannabe-state if it started violating rights, rihgt? I..,e you are just advocating your favored PDA.

    In any event, none of your ramblings prove that states don’t commit aggression by their veyr nature.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:00 PM

  • Bala
  • Brian
    ” “What is the difference between this “legitimate state” and an anarchist’s “private protection agency”? ”

    I think it is rather simple. It removes the criminal’s “I do not subscribe to the rules of conduct of YOUR private protection agency. You better talk to my private protection agency, failing which my private protection agency will be left with no option but to talk to your private protection agency in a manner it deems fit.” argument.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:04 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Interestingly, the arguments of MichaelM and Pedro seem to be converging. Both seem to think that some ultimate organization, a “final arbiter”, is necessary to keep everyone else in line and have an objective standard. Yet both fail to realize that the question remains: who shall keep this final arbiter in line, once being granted control over other people? What is its incentive to be impartial and objective when creating and enforcing its laws?

    Ultimately, there can be no final arbiter, not if we wish to preserve freedom. Law is not legislation created by legislators, but is truly what people in general accept as being law, and as necessary for peace of society.

    Currently, too many people grant legitimacy to governments and the power they exercise, even if they complain about it being a necessary evil. Recognizing the illegitimacy of governments and “final arbiters” is the tipping point. Private defense agencies would have no such legitimacy precisely because they would be expected by society to provide only defensive and retaliatory force. Any agency that stepped over that line would be considered criminal and lose its reputation in society.

    Objective standards in law will not come about because some final arbiter declares them, but rather through the societal process of common or customary law, legal precedents, and repeated, reasonable rulings. Without the legitimacy granted to governments, private arbitration and mediation agencies have to satisfy society at large, and cannot maintain a good reputation or stay in business with arbitrary, unreasonable decisions.

    Furthermore, both of you overlook the economic costs and incentives in providing law and arbitration. Economic feedback, which governments can so easily overlook, would play an important part in legal enforcement, also reinforcing reasonable laws and decisions.

    Such may not provide a perfect, objective standard, but I’m quite willing to bet that it would provide a much more objective and reasonable legal system than what we have now.

    Ultimately, anarchism is simple: don’t grant anybody the legitimacy to violate anyone else’s rights–to do so is to work against liberty, not for it. Civil society cannot be maintained if we abandon it in the name of protecting it.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:06 PM

  • Bala
  • SK

    “In any event, none of your ramblings prove that states don’t commit aggression by their veyr nature.”

    Rather than putting the onus of proof on the plaintiff, I think you need to prove that states, by their very nature, commit aggression. That would be a better starting point.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:10 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Rather than putting the onus of proof on the plaintiff, I think you need to prove that states, by their very nature, commit aggression.

    Easy. Ever try to not pay your taxes? Ever try to buy a gun, or buy and smoke marijuana? Ever try to start your own business, especially an alcohol-related business? Ever run afoul of the DHS, or put your child in a private school (or homeschool) instead of public school? Ever tried to provide a service without the appropriate license, drive a car without insurance, etc. etc. How many examples do you want?

    Besides the fact of funding by involuntary taxation, there’s this geographical area where a government has the monopoly on the creation and enforcement of laws, laws that you had little, if anything, to do with in their creation. Sure, in some limited cases, you get a democratic vote on a local law or state question, but who created the options you vote on, and why should democracy be considered equivalent to freedom, anyway?

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:20 PM

  • Bala
  • Michael Clem,

    All your arguments are “arguments by example” and not “arguments by nature”. I think you should define the “nature” of government and start the derivation of the inevitability of aggression from that. As of now, you have not done that.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:23 PM

  • Brian
  • Bala,

    “I think it is rather simple. It removes the criminal’s ‘I do not subscribe to the rules of conduct of YOUR private protection agency. You better talk to my private protection agency, failing which my private protection agency will be left with no option but to talk to your private protection agency in a manner it deems fit.’ argument.”

    How so? Can’t someone say the same thing to a state? What happens when a subject of state A and a subject of state B have a conflict?

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:24 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Second paragraph, Bala. I also provided a definition earlier in the thread, though I can see how it could have been overlooked:

    A common definition of “government” is an organization that has a monopoly on the use of force in a geographic region.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:27 PM

  • Bala
  • “How so? Can’t someone say the same thing to a state? What happens when a subject of state A and a subject of state B have a conflict?”

    Of course they can say the same thing. That’s precisely my point. And what happens is that representatives of State A explain to representatives of State B that the criminal needs to be handed over for the process of justice to take its course. Alternately, State B may agree to prosecute the criminal for the same offences. If the representatives of State B agree and cooperate one way or the other, peace reigns. If they refuse to cooperate, war or a very hostile peace liable to break into a war anytime is what will exist. For proof, study the India-Pakistan relationship, especially in the matter of treatment of people like Mahmood Azhar who, sitting safely in Pakistan, organise the training of terrorists who then infiltrate into Indian territory and kill innocent Indians. My view may be coloured by the fact that I am an Indian, but the point still remains.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:33 PM

  • Pedro Carleial
  • Brian:
    “I can’t tell how this argument is anything more than an argument of definitions.”

    A state or government (I used them interchangeably here) differs from a “private protection agency” in that:
    1. It claims and exercises a monopoly as the ultimate arbiter within an area and uses retaliatory force against those it finds have initiated force
    2. It defends the rights of all individuals in the area, not merely “clients”

    SK:
    “The anarchist is simlpy someone who recognizes that the state is criminal. Do you recognize this, or not?”

    I believe I was very clear. All states that exist today are criminals (to various degrees). A state need not, however, be a criminal.

    SK:
    “This is ridiculous. If you count on voluntary charity it’s going to be puny and paltry.”

    So the same people who are smart enough to pay for protection from your hypothetical benevolent protection agencies are too stupid to recognize a good thing in my hypothetical legitimate government and fund it.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    SK:
    “And any group that has a monopoly and has power to block competition can charge monopoly fees which are tantamount to taxes; and, any group that has a monopoly cannot help but abuse it, and act as if they have a monopoly.”

    A very neat explanation of why a “market” in force cannot work.

    SK:
    “And vice-versa, right? So the free PDA coudl attack your little crypto-wannabe-state if it started violating rights, rihgt?”

    Yes it could. It is known as “revolution” and has been known to happen.

    What I am arguing is that at any given time there has to be an ultimate arbiter de facto. If this ultimate arbiter defends individual rights, the society will be free. If not, it will be unfree (as we are today).

    And if the position of ultimate arbiter is contested, there is war. The illusion that a situation of permanent overt or covert dispute between multiple armed organizations vying for dominance would represent “freedom” is what I argue against.

    SK:
    “In any event, none of your ramblings prove that states don’t commit aggression by their very nature.”

    The positive claim is yours.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:33 PM

  • Bala
  • Michael Clem

    “Second paragraph, Bala. I also provided a definition earlier in the thread, though I can see how it could have been overlooked:

    A common definition of “government” is an organization that has a monopoly on the use of force in a geographic region.”

    Please start from here and prove that Government will necessarily have to engage in aggression. In doing so, please do give credit to the difference between agression launched against someone who has violated the rights of another and that launched against an innocent person. What you need to prove that the latter type of aggression is automatic given the nature of the state/government as you have described it. As of now, you have not done that.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:37 PM

  • Michael A, Clem
  • Prove? It’s in the definition: can a “government” exist if it does not have a monopoly on the use of force, or on the administration of law? Does a government still exist if the organization is, in fact, funded through voluntary means (i.e. people could choose not to fund it and fund a second organization instead).
  • Published: August 19, 2009 2:46 PM

  • Brian
  • Bala,


    [Michael Clem]”A common definition of “government” is an organization that has a monopoly on the use of force in a geographic region”

    “Please start from here and prove that Government will necessarily have to engage in aggression. In doing so, please do give credit to the difference between agression launched against someone who has violated the rights of another and that launched against an innocent person. What you need to prove that the latter type of aggression is automatic given the nature of the state/government as you have described it. As of now, you have not done that.”

    Ok, first the ‘latter type of aggression’ is the only type of aggression. The first type of violence is NOT aggression, so it cannot be a type of aggression.

    That a state must commit aggression follows from it’s forceful maintenance of a monopoly in a given area.

    If a competing institution arises in the same area, and also retaliates against aggressors it has violated no individual’s rights, i.e as committed no crime. If the original ‘monopoly’ institution then initiates force against the upstart, simply to remain the one and only ‘defender of rights’, it is an aggressor. If it does not initiate force against the upstart, then of course it is no longer a monopoly and the definition no longer applies.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 3:05 PM

  • Bala
  • Michael A Clem

    ” Prove? It’s in the definition: can a “government” exist if it does not have a monopoly on the use of force, or on the administration of law? ”

    Now….. You are avoiding the proof by claiming that the answer is implicit in the definition and thereby implying that my intellectual incapacity is the cause of my inability to realise it. Nothing could be shallower than this.

    My simple point is that “having a monopoly on the use of force” does not necessarily translate into the actual and automatic use of force to violate the rights of people who have not violated the rights of another. Such a claim does not exist in your definition and hence needs to be proven.

    ” Does a government still exist if the organization is, in fact, funded through voluntary means (i.e. people could choose not to fund it and fund a second organization instead). ”

    Here again you reveal the hollowness of your argument. How is “having a monopoly over the use of force” contradictory to “being funded through voluntary means”? Aren’t you therefore guilty of assuming that the force (over which government has a monopoly) will indeed be used to collect the funds required and if it does not employ force, it is no more a government?

    You have a lot to prove.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 3:10 PM

  • Bala
  • Brian

    ” If a competing institution arises in the same area, and also retaliates against aggressors it has violated no individual’s rights, i.e as committed no crime. ”

    This is the classic “stolen concept” approach. You have introduced competition in the retaliatory use of force into a system which does not agree with the very idea of competition in government.

    Secondly, the monopoly was conferred not by the state on itself but by the people (the so-called governed) who, acting in their own long-term self-interest, constituted the government and defined its powers, especially the retaliatory use of force.

    Thirdly, your competing institution is criminal because it would have launched an act of aggression against someone who did not subscribe to its laws. It then becomes the prerogative of the government to which the victim (of the attack of your competing institution) subscribes to attack your competing institution. This is precisely the argument against competition in the retaliatory use of force. Thanks for providing the perfect proof for my argument.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 3:20 PM

  • Brian
  • Pedro,

    “And if the position of ultimate arbiter is contested, there is war. The illusion that a situation of permanent overt or covert dispute between multiple armed organizations vying for dominance would represent “freedom” is what I argue against.”

    Why must the presence of multiple armed organizations imply a continual dispute for dominance? If these institutions are ‘legitimate’ (in that they retaliate against aggressors) then what is it that they are seeking to dominate?

    Freedom is simply the absence of aggression, no? So, in order to support your claim that a final arbiter is necessary to have freedom, you must show that the absence of a final arbiter implies aggression, i.e. not-freedom.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 3:23 PM

  • Bala
  • Brian,

    “Why must the presence of multiple armed organizations imply a continual dispute for dominance?”

    They must simply because of their obligations to the people who have chosen to subscribe to their respective laws. What is PDA A to do if one of its clients (X) is attacked by representatives of PDA B, given that as per objective criteria and by the laws of PDA A, X has done no wrong? The option of not attacking is tantamount to self-extermination because that would lead X to walk out on PDA A and look for PDA C which is identical in every respect to PDA A but is (in X’s assessment) ready to secure justice by, if necessary, attacking PDA B.

    In the end, might will prevail over right. Nothing could be more inimical to freedom than this.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 3:31 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • “Bala”:

    SK: “How, pray tell, do these ramblings prove that states do not employ aggression, or that aggression is justified?”

    Firstly, I think starting a rebuttal by labelling an argument as “rambling” is the first sign of intellectual weakness.

    Whatever. Get to the point.

    It further shows you as lacking the patience to think or the politeness to ask nicely.

    And this means aggression is justified. Wow!

    Secondly, I don’t think Pedro is trying to prove that States do not employ agression. All he was trying to show is how futile the concept of anarchy is.

    Concepts are not futile.

    The point is we real libertarians oppose aggression. We see some of you faux-libertarians who pretend to oppose aggression supporting a huge, aggressive criminal agency. We are pointing out that since we oppose aggression we oppose states too. If we had no institutionalized aggression there would be no state; this would be an-archy. We have no positive claim to make about anarchy; it’s the outcome of opposing the legitimacy of states.

    Specifically, his point is that the notion of market forces and customer choice deciding which purveyor of the service of “force” will win is, to be charitable, is laughable.

    How does a notion’s being laughable prove that states are not criminal?

    Thirdly, no one (least of all Pedro) seems to be making the case that states do not employ aggression. Rather, the point is that human welfare is far worse off without a government than with one.

    Ah. Finally. Thanks. You have not admitted what I wanted you to.You are in favor of aggression because you think it’s necessary. Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, eh? Thanks for proving my point that all archists–statists–either naively think the state can exist without agggression, or they actually favor aggression. Thanks for coming clean.

    Finally, when you say “aggression is not legitimate” (so I infer), are you not guilty of forgetting that it is necessary to factor in he against whom agression is initiated to answer this question?

    Ah, here comes the typical word-games. Now you are going to act confused, and try to use “aggression” to mean “force”. Tut-tut-tut.

    I think it is futile to label aggression per se as illegitimate.

    Sure, b/c you are a statist who believes the state’s aggression is “necessary” and good.

    It is illegitimate when launched against someone who has not violated the rights of another. It is legitimate when it is launched against someone who has violated the rights of another

    Sigh. This does not have to be kindergarten time, really. That ain’t aggression, podnah. Helloooo.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 3:38 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Now this is getting absurd–like Rand, you argue that violence is inevitable by assuming that violence is inevitable. Defensive force is always proper, either by the person attacked or by his agent. Retaliatory force, on the other hand, requires public approval (such as a trial), and as such, no legitimate agency will attack a person without going through the process and clearing it first. The client’s PDA will know about it beforehand, and can make its objections known before it occurs. All this talk about attacking is a straw man version of anarchism. It also provides no legitimate argument for government.
  • Published: August 19, 2009 3:43 PM

  • Brian
  • Bala,

    “This is the classic “stolen concept” approach. You have introduced competition in the retaliatory use of force into a system which does not agree with the very idea of competition in government.”

    Huh? You asked for proof from Clem’s definition which explicitly included the concept of monopoly, which I take to mean ‘the forceful suppression of competition’. Monopoly requires the concept of competition in order to have any meaning. You can’t say government is a monopoly of the use of force in an area, and then say competition has no relevance. It’s already implicit in the definition.

    “Secondly, the monopoly was conferred not by the state on itself but by the people (the so-called governed) who, acting in their own long-term self-interest, constituted the government and defined its powers, especially the retaliatory use of force.”

    Whoa now. You asked for proof from definition. Why introduce all of this stuff about ‘the people’ constituting the government, etc? First of all ‘the people’ is not an acting entity, it is an abstraction. ‘The people’ can’t DO anything. What of the individuals that did not wish to ‘constitute the government’?

    What other powers could the government have besides the retaliatory use of force? Isn’t that supposed to be it’s ONLY power? I thought that is what made the government ‘legitimate’?

    “Thirdly, your competing institution is criminal because it would have launched an act of aggression against someone who did not subscribe to its laws”

    No. I am assuming we have aggression = violating the rights of an individual? I explicitly state that the competing institution commits acts of retaliatory force which is NOT aggression. Do the rights of an individual depend on an institution’s ‘laws’?

    “It then becomes the prerogative of the government to which the victim (of the attack of your competing institution) subscribes to attack your competing institution.”

    No this doesn’t work since it was stated that that the competing institution did NOT commit aggression. It commits retaliatory force against aggressors.

    “This is precisely the argument against competition in the retaliatory use of force. Thanks for providing the perfect proof for my argument.”

    As you have read, there are numerous points for you to address before you claim victory on this one. Redefining the terms and inserting additional concepts are not the path to victory.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 3:44 PM

  • Brian
  • Bala again,

    [in regards to multiple armed organizations implying endless war]

    “They must simply because of their obligations to the people who have chosen to subscribe to their respective laws. What is PDA A to do if one of its clients (X) is attacked by representatives of PDA B, given that as per objective criteria and by the laws of PDA A, X has done no wrong? The option of not attacking is tantamount to self-extermination because that would lead X to walk out on PDA A and look for PDA C which is identical in every respect to PDA A but is (in X’s assessment) ready to secure justice by, if necessary, attacking PDA B.”

    Isn’ that what you would want to happen? PDA A is shown to be ineffectual at securing X’s security, so X goes over to C. But if A is the almighty government in the region, and thus forcefully prohibits the formation of C, X has no recourse, and thus is without justice.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 4:01 PM

  • (8?»
  • A discussion on the coherence of Rand? Really???

    How can it be so hard to see that she was an agent provocateur who took libertarianism down the incoherent, dead-end street of Objectivism?

    If it wasn’t obvious at first, how could it not be noted once Greenspan was picked by Gerry Ford to be an economic advisor?

    Divide and conquer, folks. That’s all it is.

    To bad Dr. Reisman fell for her trap. I’d love to see Capitalism written without the idiocy of what “good citizens” should do as economic actors.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 4:43 PM

  • scott t
  • “Objective standards in law will not come about because some final arbiter declares them, but rather through the societal process of common or customary law, legal precedents, and repeated, reasonable rulings. Without the legitimacy granted to governments, private arbitration and mediation agencies have to satisfy society at large, and cannot maintain a good reputation or stay in business with arbitrary, unreasonable decisions.”

    is this called democracy?

    “So: patents and IP are the most important of all rights. And you can’t have IP in anarchy, since IP comes from artificial edict by the legislature of a state.”
    since most of society doesnt hold patents or ip i would think it wouldnt be around by now.

  • Published: August 19, 2009 7:36 PM

  • Brian
  • “is this called democracy?”

    no, it’s called economics

  • Published: August 19, 2009 8:20 PM

  • RWW
  • How can it be so hard to see that she was an agent provocateur who took libertarianism down the incoherent, dead-end street of Objectivism?

    I doubt it was her intention.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 7:16 AM

  • RWW
  • That is, I think she meant well, but the end results are that hundreds or thousands of otherwise libertarian people simply parrot her abstruse jargon to make empty arguments for their subtly twisted version of “morality.”

    To be fair, I think Rand did a lot to popularize roughly libertarian ideas through her fiction. If I remember correctly, I initially came upon the Mises Institute because I had recently read Atlas Shrugged and was searching for something like the Institute.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 7:31 AM

  • Truth this
  • Rand was trained by Soviets:

    http://www.trinitylectures.org/MP3/The_Philosophy_of_Ayn_Rand_Refuted.mp3

  • Published: August 20, 2009 7:58 AM

  • Joe B
  • I’d still like to see an objectivist explanation of how copying IP violates anyone’s freedoms.
  • Published: August 20, 2009 9:09 AM

  • Randist
  • Joe B, it ignores the causal relationship between the Creator and that which He creates. You whim-worshiping looters always wish to blank out the ontology. Check your premises!
  • Published: August 20, 2009 9:33 AM

  • RWW
  • Truth this: It is an unfortunate situation when a loathsome person (or organization) argues against someone with whom I also happen to disagree.
  • Published: August 20, 2009 9:39 AM

  • Brian
  • Randist,

    Who is the capital-c Creator?

  • Published: August 20, 2009 9:44 AM

  • Joe B
  • Randist,

    I don’t deny that the creator owns his idea. What I’m asking is where the crime occurs. The creator is still free to use his idea after it has been copied, so in what manner has his freedom been violated?

  • Published: August 20, 2009 9:45 AM

  • Bala
  • Brian

    “Isn’ that what you would want to happen? PDA A is shown to be ineffectual at securing X’s security, so X goes over to C.”

    No. That is not what I would want happening if I am rational and desire my own long-term well-being. What if the problem is that X’s grievance is genuine but PDA B is run according to irrational considerations by a bunch of irrational people who believe that might is right and are ready to engage in violence to protect their “client” come what may? In that case, the only way PDA A or for that matter PDA C can get me justice is by attacking PDA B or by initiating force (which they will insist is retaliatory) against the offender and subsequently, brace for an attack from PDA B. What is X to do if PDA B is armed to the teeth and is willing to go to any length to establish its supremacy?

    The simple problem in your “competitive PDA” set-up is that not all people are equally rational. Even 2 completely rational people may differ in their conclusions to the extent of the differences in their premises. Some could be extremely violent and may see their force as justifiable though you and your PDA may disagree.

    If you think I am imagining too much, let me take a simple example from real life. What is to prevent any of the PDAs from becoming another LTTE? That too was an organisation that was formed to protect the rights of minority Tamils in Sri Lanka from the aggression of the Sinhala state. It soon metamorphosed into one of the most dreaded terrorist outfits ruthlessly eliminating anyone they considered a rival. At one stage, when the Sri Lankan government announced an election for the North-Eastern provinces, the LTTE rejected it and killed the leaders of all rival parties making those parties headless and itself, the sole remaining “voice of the Tamil people”.

    It took steely determination on the part of the Sri Lankan government to eradicate the menace that the LTTE had become to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka themselves.

    ” But if A is the almighty government in the region, and thus forcefully prohibits the formation of C, X has no recourse, and thus is without justice.”

    There you go contradicting yourself. If PDA A is the almighty government in the region, why would it not attack PDA B? X would then not have to shift allegiance to PDA C.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 9:48 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • “is this called democracy?”

    no, it’s called economics

    More spefically, it’s called the market. Just as Wal-Mart and Family Dollar can’t stay in business without customers, private arbitration and mediation agencies can’t stay in business without customers. If their decisions are perceived as being unjust and arbitrary, fewer people will want to use their services.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 9:49 AM

  • Pedro Carleial
  • Michael Clem:
    “private arbitration and mediation agencies can’t stay in business without customers.”

    This is true of private arbitration and mediation agencies within a system of individual rights. What happens when you remove this external guarantee and transform them into “pivate defense agencies”?

    Hint: They now have guns. They don’t need customers any more.

    Evade that simple fact. Anarchists always do.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:00 AM

  • Bala
  • Brian

    ” Huh? You asked for proof from Clem’s definition which explicitly included the concept of monopoly, which I take to mean ‘the forceful suppression of competition’. ”

    Dead wrong!!! Your definition is that of a coercive monopoly, i.e., a monopoly position attained THROUGH the use of coercion against competition. Monopoly per se means the existence of just one player.

    ” Monopoly requires the concept of competition in order to have any meaning. ”

    As absurd as it gets. Monopoly and competition are concepts independent of each other and defined thus. Effective competition can weaken or end a monopoly. An effective player may eliminate competition and attain the status of a monopoly. Neither depends on the other for its definition. That they are opposites for each other does not mean that each depends on the other for its definition.

    As for the remaining points in your post, when you claim that the competing institution is exercising retaliatory force, that is their (and your) claim. Neither the person attacked nor the institution he subscribes to agree. So where does that leave your institution? This is precisely the absurdity of your competing PDAs. No PDA needs to agree with the assessment of another on the classification of force as initiated or retaliatory. Hence, it can only lead to a sustained battle between competing PDAs till only the mightiest survives. You are only making a recommendation for the creation of the next Atilla. Hope you enjoy his ascendancy.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:02 AM

  • RWW
  • Sounds to me like the Randist position is that private protection agencies are okay as long as their territories don’t overlap. Is this correct?
  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:17 AM

  • Bala
  • SK

    ” How does a notion’s being laughable prove that states are not criminal? ”

    A state that initiates the use of force is criminal. A state that exercises retaliatory use of force through a due process of objective law cannot be called criminal.

    ” Ah. Finally. Thanks. You have not admitted what I wanted you to.You are in favor of aggression because you think it’s necessary. Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, eh? Thanks for proving my point that all archists–statists–either naively think the state can exist without agggression, or they actually favor aggression. Thanks for coming clean. ”

    Looks like you just want to evade the difference between aggression (which is the unjustified initiation of force) and the retaliatory use of force.

    “Sure, b/c you are a statist who believes the state’s aggression is “necessary” and good.”

    Looks like you have not read even your Mises well. As I remember, Mises defined “Etatisme” as “The theory of the omnipotence of the State” (The Theory of Money and Credit). I wonder which part of my post indicates that I think the State is omnipotent. As I put it, Government is a better bet for me than your ridiculous PDAs (read my reply to Brian where I have used the example of the LTTE to exemplify what your concept of competing PDAs can lead to). The simple point is that as a rational human being, I need to make a choice. A government driven by objective laws and entrusted with a monopoly in the retaliatory use of force which it may misuse is clearly a better choice that a system of PDAs that has to, by its very nature, degenerate into a system where the might of the mightiest is all that prevails when all is said and done.

    I wonder how this makes me a statist. It looks like you think that by smearing me, you win an argument. It’s a miracle you get to blog on a site which prides itself on reasoned arguments.

    Just as I had to make my choices, you too need to and are free to make your choices. So far you seem to have made poor ones by refusing to separate the concept of the retaliatory use of force (a legitimate one) from aggression (an illegitimate one). The rest of what you have to say follows logically from this deliberate evasion of reality.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:17 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • This is true of private arbitration and mediation agencies within a system of individual rights. What happens when you remove this external guarantee and transform them into “pivate defense agencies”?

    Some see PDA’s as being large, vertically-oriented organizations that do everything in-house. But large corporate-like structures would be difficult to maintain without the government protection that corps. have now–internal strife and bureaucracy makes them less efficient. More likely, arbitration services would be different organizations than the actual protection agencies, though they would have contractual associations with each other. But that’s just a business decision.

    More importantly, you overlook the fact that current governments have guns (and bombs, and SWAT teams and military, etc.), which is why we are compelled to pay for their acts of aggression. We have no guarantees NOW of individual rights protection.

    The difference between public and private systems of justice is in the legitimacy and in the options offered. Private systems would *not* be granted the automatic and false assurance of legitimacy in their actions, but would constantly have to prove the legitimacy of them. They would not be granted the kind of leeway or benefit of a doubt that people mistakenly grant governments.

    Those who are minarchists must still prove that there is some effective way of limiting governments to their proper functions and prevent them from abusing the powers they have been granted. They must show that there is no contradiction in granting some people the legitimacy to violate other people’s rights in the name of protecting those self-same rights.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:25 AM

  • Triangle
  • It is an unfortunate situation when a loathsome person calls someone loathsome.
  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:30 AM

  • RWW
  • How many pseudonyms can you use in one thread? Also, I’m surprised you didn’t take the opportunity to post the link again.
  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:35 AM

  • Gil
  • “Those who are minarchists must still prove that there is some effective way of limiting governments to their proper functions and prevent them from abusing the powers they have been granted.”

    A laughable impossible task, M. A. Clem? You know as well as everyone else that even if all land was privatised there would private landowners who would go bad as well as external players who invade and take private landholdings. You know as well as everyone there’s never going to be heaven on earth.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:36 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • As I put it, Government is a better bet for me than your ridiculous PDAs…

    The simple point is that as a rational human being, I need to make a choice. A government driven by objective laws and entrusted with a monopoly in the retaliatory use of force which it may misuse is clearly a better choice…

    In other words, as a practical matter, devoid of any considerations of principle, you would rather go with the known evil than face an uncertain unknown. Hey, I can appreciate that–I imagine that’s what the majority of mainstream people feel, too.

    But how much evidence do you need that current governments are *not* providing objective law, or should I say that they are providing an increasing amount of non-objective law? How much abuse by these governments do you need to see to change your mind?

    Or to be purely practical about it, consider that there are already private arbitration and mediation services in place (albeit largely for businesses), that there are more private security forces than public law enforcement officers, and that more and more people rely upon personal protection such as locks, guns, Mace, etc., than they do upon the police? How many people can’t afford or are afraid of going to court because they don’t think they will get justice from the system?

    In short, we can turn towards private justice knowingly and consciously, or we can turn to it strictly as a practical matter because we cannot rely upon public services for protection. With private services and systems in place, switching over to anarchism is no longer the “great unknown”, and there is no reason to fear or imagine some kind of nightmarish post-holocaust vision of society as anarchism.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:47 AM

  • Bala
  • Michael A Clem

    I wonder how many LTTEs it is going to take for you to realise that your notion of competing PDAs is a definite invitation to the crushing of the rights of all citizens under the foot of the leader of the mightiest PDA.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:51 AM

  • Bala
  • Micheal A Clem

    ” In other words, as a practical matter, devoid of any considerations of principle, ”

    Principle that is not relevant to practice or is not practical is little more than glorified dogma. You seem to be victim to the popular notion that the moral is not practical and vice versa.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 10:57 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • You know as well as everyone there’s never going to be heaven on earth.

    I’m not arguing for perfection or utopia, as you should know, as long as you’ve been on these blogs. I’m simply trying to do what almost everyone is trying to do, make the world a little better than it currently is. One way to do that is to not permit logical contradictions to persist in my mind, and thus have a better perception of reality. Another way is to recognize that both good and bad exists and that man can be led either way with the proper incentives in place–giving in to eternal pessimism and the view that man is inherently evil makes it difficult, if not impossible, to work towards something better.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 11:02 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Principle that is not relevant to practice or is not practical is little more than glorified dogma. You seem to be victim to the popular notion that the moral is not practical and vice versa.

    Not at all. I see principle and practice as complementary to each other, and thus, since you seemed to reject or ignore the moral arguments, I switched to a practical argument.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 11:04 AM

  • Brian
  • Bala,

    “I wonder how many LTTEs it is going to take for you to realise that your notion of competing PDAs is a definite invitation to the crushing of the rights of all citizens under the foot of the leader of the mightiest PDA.”

    LOL. Could also be: “I wonder how many territorial monopolists in the provision of security it is going to take for you to realize that your notion of monopolist states is a definite invitation to the crushing of the rights of all citizens…”

    What’s the difference?? LTTE proves nothing except that criminal gangs can exist. Well, duh, doesn’t everyone know that?

    Bala, I can’t see how your argument is anything more than: “The world is given to being overrun by criminal gangs, so we must choose one that promises to be somewhat nice to us, and make it the biggest, baddest gang around. Then we will be ‘free’ because we are only raped by one gang instead of lots of them.”

  • Published: August 20, 2009 11:16 AM

  • Bala
  • ” Bala, I can’t see how your argument is anything more than: “The world is given to being overrun by criminal gangs ”

    How ridiculous can you get? What I said was that your system of PDAs has to, by its very nature, …… I repeat….. by its very nature, degenerate to the domination, by physical might, of the mightiest PDA. The LTTE was an example, not a proof because I have to agree with Hayek that statistics proves nothing.

    In contrast, you are yet to show why a state with a monopoly on the retaliatory use of force is by nature bound to degenerate into a mechanism devoted to the suppression of rights. Your earlier argument through the introduction of a competing institution only proves my point that under competing PDAs, only might will prevail. In this specific case, my government and your competing institution become competing PDAs. So, please find a better argument.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 11:32 AM

  • RWW
  • Isn’t the Objectivist position simply that private defense agencies are fine as long as their territories don’t overlap?
  • Published: August 20, 2009 11:57 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • What I said was that your system of PDAs has to, by its very nature, …… I repeat….. by its very nature, degenerate to the domination, by physical might, of the mightiest PDA.

    No need to repeat, we heard you and Pedro the first times around. Yet you continue to assert this without proof of your own. There’s nothing in the definition of a PDA that requires the initiation of force, unlike the definition of a government.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 12:05 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • What is to prevent any of the PDAs from becoming another LTTE? That too was an organisation that was formed to protect the rights of minority Tamils in Sri Lanka from the aggression of the Sinhala state. It soon metamorphosed into one of the most dreaded terrorist outfits ruthlessly eliminating anyone they considered a rival.

    The problem with this example, like most examples of criminal organizations (the Mob, the Mafia, etc.) is that they are operating in a region controlled by a government or state. They would not, in fact, exist if it weren’t for the existence of a state.

    Nonetheless, even these examples show that criminal organizations have localized, limited effects, and nowhere near the far-reaching consequences of a “legitimate” state.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 12:12 PM

  • Brian
  • Bala,

    “In contrast, you are yet to show why a state with a monopoly on the retaliatory use of force is by nature bound to degenerate into a mechanism devoted to the suppression of rights”

    Again, in order to maintain its monopoly on the use of retaliatory force, the state must use non-retaliatory force against non-state agents that engage in retaliatory force. If it does this, it is committing aggression. If it does not, then it is no longer a monopoly.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 12:20 PM

  • Bala
  • Michael A Clem,

    Just posting my earlier replies to Brian in which I explained why it is in the NATURE (not definition) of PDAs to degenerate into the rule of the mightiest PDA. Doing it because you seem to suffer from the multiple problems of selective reading, convenient interpretation and selective retention.

    Brian asked

    “Why must the presence of multiple armed organizations imply a continual dispute for dominance?”

    And I said

    They must simply because of their obligations to the people who have chosen to subscribe to their respective laws. What is PDA A to do if one of its clients (X) is attacked by representatives of PDA B, given that as per objective criteria and by the laws of PDA A, X has done no wrong? The option of not attacking is tantamount to self-extermination because that would lead X to walk out on PDA A and look for PDA C which is identical in every respect to PDA A but is (in X’s assessment) ready to secure justice by, if necessary, attacking PDA B.

    In the end, might will prevail over right. Nothing could be more inimical to freedom than this.

    Brian further said

    Brian

    “Isn’ that what you would want to happen? PDA A is shown to be ineffectual at securing X’s security, so X goes over to C.”

    To which I said

    No. That is not what I would want happening if I am rational and desire my own long-term well-being. What if the problem is that X’s grievance is genuine but PDA B is run according to irrational considerations by a bunch of irrational people who believe that might is right and are ready to engage in violence to protect their “client” come what may? In that case, the only way PDA A or for that matter PDA C can get me justice is by attacking PDA B or by initiating force (which they will insist is retaliatory) against the offender and subsequently, brace for an attack from PDA B. What is X to do if PDA B is armed to the teeth and is willing to go to any length to establish its supremacy?

    The simple problem in your “competitive PDA” set-up is that not all people are equally rational. Even 2 completely rational people may differ in their conclusions to the extent of the differences in their premises. Some could be extremely violent and may see their force as justifiable though you and your PDA may disagree.

    If you think I am imagining too much, let me take a simple example from real life. What is to prevent any of the PDAs from becoming another LTTE? That too was an organisation that was formed to protect the rights of minority Tamils in Sri Lanka from the aggression of the Sinhala state. It soon metamorphosed into one of the most dreaded terrorist outfits ruthlessly eliminating anyone they considered a rival. At one stage, when the Sri Lankan government announced an election for the North-Eastern provinces, the LTTE rejected it and killed the leaders of all rival parties making those parties headless and itself, the sole remaining “voice of the Tamil people”.

    It took steely determination on the part of the Sri Lankan government to eradicate the menace that the LTTE had become to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka themselves.

    Back to you Michael…..

    You are convincing me that anarchists just like anarchy because their favourite philosophers recommended it and hang on to it inspite of the fact that they have no justification for it. That it flies in the face of reality and is a metaphysical monstrosity is of no consideration to them.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 12:21 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • I’ve already answered these arguments, Bala, must I repeat myself, too, or can you go back and re-read the thread?
  • Published: August 20, 2009 12:24 PM

  • Brian
  • “What is to prevent any of the PDAs from becoming another LTTE?”

    Absolutely nothing. What is to prevent your state from also becoming like LTTE? Absolutely nothing.

    The difference between LTTE and the “official” Sri Lanka gang-in-charge is a matter of degree not kind.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 12:31 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • My post of August 20, 12:12 pm deals with the LTTE.

    My post of Aug. 19, 3:43 pm deals with the inevitability of violence with PDA’s, but probably bears a little more explanation. I think Brian is slightly off in one aspect of PDA’s. While defensive force is usually immediate and needs no justification to act, either by the person being attacked or by a third pary or agent (such as PDA) coming to his aid, retaliatory force requires justification before acting.

    For example, if I discover a thief in my house, I’m justified in stopping him or calling the PDA to send agents who will stop him. If, on the other hand, I only find out about the robbery after the thief is gone, my PDA investigates and finds evidence that person X is the thief, they are still not justified unless they present that evidence in a public forum, like a trial, wherein the public can be made aware of the evidence and the accused (and/or his PDA) can defend him against the charges. Only after he has been convicted can my PDA take further action against him. This is not only to ensure that the criminal has been properly identified, it is also to inform the public at large that action will be taken against him, so they won’t mistake it for an initiation of force against him. Thus, there would be no need or justification for his PDA to retaliate, as they would already know about it and have already had the chance to defend him against the charges.

    As businesses, PDA’s would most likely already have agreements in place to deal with differences in their laws, such as may exist, what arbitration courts would be acceptable to use for such cases, and what to do in case something unforeseen develops. They’re businesses, and as such, desire to make a profit. Unnecessary war and fighting is costly and hurts the profit margin.

    Thus, unlike governments, PDA’s have both reputation and economic incentives to deal with, and little politics or special interests to be concerned with. The incentives involved are thus completely different for a private organization than for a public government. That, and the previously mentioned point about perceived legitimacy.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 12:47 PM

  • Brian
  • “I think Brian is slightly off in one aspect of PDA’s. While defensive force is usually immediate and needs no justification to act, either by the person being attacked or by a third pary or agent (such as PDA) coming to his aid, retaliatory force requires justification before acting.”

    The opinions of third parties have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not the use of force is justified. Whether or not they should be consulted is of course an important matter of practicality, so as to avoid misunderstandings, etc.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 12:55 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • It’s a matter of both practicality and justice, Brian. I don’t want PDA’s attacking innocent persons:

    Only after he has been convicted can my PDA take further action against him. This is not only to ensure that the criminal has been properly identified, it is also to inform the public at large that action will be taken against him, so they won’t mistake it for an initiation of force against him.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 12:59 PM

  • Brian
  • “It’s a matter of both practicality and justice, Brian. I don’t want PDA’s attacking innocent persons:”

    How does the opinion of others affect justice? The use of force against an aggressor is justified, no? Attacking innocent persons would of course be unjustified even if the opinion of others condoned it.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:03 PM

  • Bala
  • Brian,

    ” Again, in order to maintain its monopoly on the use of retaliatory force, the state must use non-retaliatory force against non-state agents that engage in retaliatory force. ”

    That the force the non-state agent uses is retaliatory is just your and the non-state agent’s claim. I see no need for anyone else to agree.

    Secondly, this is the best example of the conflict between 2 competing PDA’s and not an example of government’s natural tendency to initiate force. Isn’t it interesting to see that this is the ONLY situation that you are ready to show to support your claim and that you are unable to show why a government by its very nature, has to initiate force on anyone other than a competing PDA? How you fail to see this amazes me.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:16 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • How does the opinion of others affect justice? The use of force against an aggressor is justified, no? Attacking innocent persons would of course be unjustified even if the opinion of others condoned it.
    A vigilante could attack someone who he thought was a thief, without benefit of a trial, but he could be mistaken, or be biased against the other person for various reasons–it’s good to have independent verification of the evidence to make sure you have the right person. Or he might not be mistaken, but if other people are unaware of the evidence, they might come to the thief’s aid against an apparently unprovoked attack, and thus unintentionally hinder justice.
  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:27 PM

  • Bala
  • Michael A Clem,

    ” I’ve already answered these arguments, Bala, must I repeat myself, too, or can you go back and re-read the thread? ”

    You have answered NOTHING. But if you insist on thinking you have, you are free to engage in the evasion, just as you keep evading the inevitability (that stems from the nature of competition in the use of force by PDAs) of the degeneration of the competition between PDAs into the dominance of the might of the mightiest PDA through the elimination (by the exercise of physical force) of rival PDAs.

    You just proved that anarchists are very good at evasion of reality.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:30 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Bala, see my post of Aug. 20, at 12:47 pm. I’m not evading your arguments–you’re not responding to mine.
  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:36 PM

  • Brian
  • Bala,

    “That the force the non-state agent uses is retaliatory is just your and the non-state agent’s claim. I see no need for anyone else to agree.”

    I thought we are working under the assumption of objectivity. The non-state agent engages in objectively retaliatory force. If the state agents interfere then how are they not objectively committing aggression? The scenario is NOT that some non-state actor simply states that they are committing retaliatory force, it is that he engages in objectively retaliatory force.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:37 PM

  • Bala
  • Brian,

    ” I thought we are working under the assumption of objectivity. ”

    I do. But then not everyone in the world does. In fact, many more people in the world subscribe to relativism and mysticism, especially on moral issues. This is precisely the danger that you anarchists are evading. You are making an unrealistic and metaphysically impossible assumption of perfect and universal rationality and objectivity.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:42 PM

  • Brian
  • “You are making an unrealistic and metaphysically impossible assumption of perfect and universal rationality and objectivity.”

    Where do I assume this?

  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:50 PM

  • Bala
  • Michael A Clem,

    ” they are still not justified unless they present that evidence in a public forum, like a trial, wherein the public can be made aware of the evidence and the accused (and/or his PDA) can defend him against the charges. Only after he has been convicted can my PDA take further action against him. ”

    Aren’t you assuming that the accused’s PDA agrees with the procedure and would agree with the conclusions of such a trial? Aren’t you also assuming that they would necessarily be as rational and objective as your PDA?

    Let’s say your PDA follows a perfectly objective procedure and deliver a judgement which the other PDA promptly rejects because of fundamentally irreconcilable differences in premises. How then do you think the issue will get resolved? I see no option but an all out war between the two PDAs unless yours decides to back off, in which case the victim is no better off and the criminal gets more emboldened.

    ” As businesses, PDA’s would most likely already have agreements in place to deal with differences in their laws, ”

    Unjustified, unjustifiable assumptions. Do you always build castles in the air or is this an inadvertent mistake?

  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:52 PM

  • Bala
  • Brian,

    ” Where do I assume this? ”

    In the word “we” which includes the PDA of the person against whom the victim’s PDA launches what you claim is “retaliatory force”. Or did you mean just you and me, in which case we can close your argument as not necessarily being applicable to others?

  • Published: August 20, 2009 1:55 PM

  • Brian
  • “In the word “we” which includes the PDA of the person against whom the victim’s PDA launches what you claim is “retaliatory force””

    No, no I meant “we” as in you and me.

    “Or did you mean just you and me, in which case we can close your argument as not necessarily being applicable to others? ”

    What? Of course it applies to others. Isn’t that what objective means? I have provided a scenario that asks a simple question:

    Does a state agent commit aggression when he uses force against an individual that is engaging in objectively retaliatory force?

  • Published: August 20, 2009 2:06 PM

  • Bala
  • Brian,

    ” What? Of course it applies to others. Isn’t that what objective means? ”

    So YOU think. What about the other guy’s PDA? Are you accounting for the possibility that they may not be rational at all, leave alone objective? And this is not a remote possibility.

    ” Does a state agent commit aggression when he uses force against an individual that is engaging in objectively retaliatory force? ”

    What if the disagreement between the state agent (and the law that guides the state agent’s action) and the individual is on premises and each is convinced his premises are the right ones? Is this not just a case of 2 competing PDA’s with different interpretations of what is “objective” and not a case of the state versus an individual? In this case again, is not the mightier PDA prevailing?

  • Published: August 20, 2009 2:11 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Bala, You’re being an absurdist troll. The answers to your questions are already covered, or at least implicit, in my responses, but you choose to ignore them. Let’s assume, for example, that the second PDA would not be rational or objective and does not agree with the conclusion of a trial, even though they agreed to the trial in the first place. You unjustly assume that all-out war is the only answer.

    One, if they really feel that the results are wrong, they can appeal. Differences between PDAs can go before arbitration just as differences between people can. Why would they want to do this? Because, as I already stated, war is more costly than coming to a reasonable agreement, and would affect their profits. As I already pointed out, PDA’s are affected by economic incentives that governments don’t worry about because the costs are passed on to the taxpayers.

    Furthermore, a PDA that was unreasonable and kept engaging in war instead of resolving differences would find it harder to attract and keep customers., especially if multiple PDAs recognize that ganging up against a rogue PDA was their best option for maintaining peace.

    Yes, you can always say that people will be irrational, unobjective and unreasonable, but that’s true of government agents and actors, too. There’s nothing magic about being appointed or elected to government that makes men wiser or smarter than other men. In fact, though, most people do tend to act reasonably. Even government agents act reasonably, given the incentives of power and other people’s money that is provided to them. It’s just that the incentives that government agents face are different than the incentives that private entities would face. Government agents have little incentive to be objective and to create and administer law in a fair and just fashion. They are always making political decisions influenced by special interests and not influenced by economic concerns or feedback.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 2:14 PM

  • Brian
  • “So YOU think. What about the other guy’s PDA? Are you accounting for the possibility that they may not be rational at all, leave alone objective? And this is not a remote possibility.”

    There are no PDA’s in the scenario. We are talking about a state monopoly of retaliatory force. Can you not answer the simple question provided above?

  • Published: August 20, 2009 2:15 PM

  • Bala
  • Michael A Clem,

    ” One, if they really feel that the results are wrong, they can appeal. ”

    Please note that you are only able to say “can appeal” and not “will appeal”. This is nothing more than circular logic.

    ” Furthermore, a PDA that was unreasonable and kept engaging in war instead of resolving differences would find it harder to attract and keep customers ”

    You are guilty of making assumptions on what will get a PDA more customers. I am just saying it may not be being objective but serving the interests of its clients over those of the clients of other PDAs.

    ” especially if multiple PDAs recognize that ganging up against a rogue PDA was their best option for maintaining peace. ”

    And what makes you so sure they will recognise this? You are not even ready to realise that you are building on a mountain of assumptions but are ready to call me an absurdist troll. That only reflects that you have reached the end of your “arguments” which are little more than a bundle of convenient assumptions.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 2:21 PM

  • Bala
  • Brian,

    ” We are talking about a state monopoly of retaliatory force. Can you not answer the simple question provided above? ”

    I did answer this. I’ll still repeat it.

    What if the disagreement between the state agent (and the law that guides the state agent’s action) and the individual is on premises and each is convinced his premises are the right ones? Is this not just a case of 2 competing PDA’s with different interpretations of what is “objective” and not a case of the state versus an individual? In this case again, is not the mightier PDA prevailing?

    Please do not try to have your cake and eat it too. If it is a state monopoly, you cannot have an individual initiating retaliatory force because he becomes a competing PDA. If it does exist, it is just one PDA (that you choose to call a state monopoly) and another (which is your individual).

  • Published: August 20, 2009 2:32 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Oh well, “Argue with a fool…”. Brian, it’s a waste of time. This thread will be on the internet for a long time. Let others decide who, if anyone, was more justified in their arguments, and who had more unwarranted assumptions.
  • Published: August 20, 2009 2:37 PM

  • Brian
  • Bala,

    “Please do not try to have your cake and eat it too. If it is a state monopoly, you cannot have an individual initiating retaliatory force because he becomes a competing PDA. If it does exist, it is just one PDA (that you choose to call a state monopoly) and another (which is your individual).”

    Ok, so a state monopoly is an impossibility since individuals, being actors, are ALWAYS capable of choosing otherwise. As you say, as soon as some individual chooses to not submit to the state’s “justice system” they have become their own PDA. Thus there will always be competing PDAs and the strongest wins. But wins what??? What was the point of this conversation again?

  • Published: August 20, 2009 2:43 PM

  • Brian
  • Michael,

    I must agree.

    Good day, Bala. Hopefully we shall not meet on opposite sides of the battle lines, in what you have declared to be an eternal battle for domination and the power to define the “objective”.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 2:50 PM

  • scott t
  • “As businesses, PDA’s would most likely…….” hope for social problems that keep them in business but not for social problems that would hurt business?

    ie, child support payment resolution and adjustment good….spillover from PDA on PDA violence bad.

    “The incentives involved are thus completely different for a private organization than for a public government. That, and the previously mentioned point about perceived legitimacy. ”
    i guess…unless pubgov is a racket of sorts – cumpulsory education, etc.

    i guess as far as profit making go..pubgov may have different incentives than the PDA. both would be interested in survival…pubgov via forced taxation and PDA via advertising and subscription revenue.

  • Published: August 20, 2009 3:07 PM

  • RWW
  • Still no answer to my question?
  • Published: August 21, 2009 8:48 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • RWW, I don’t think you’re going to get an answer from an Objectivist, at least not in this thread. However, I would say that an Objectivist would not agree. They would say that since there needs to be an objective standard for law, and that this can only come from one organization, that organization would have to forcibly maintain its monopoly over the region to preserve the one standard, and thus, would be a government, not a PDA. Yes, we all recognize the possibility of a naturally-arising monopoly, wherein no other organization chooses to compete in the region, but the key is whether or not the existing organization would intend to forcibly stop competition, or if it would not stop competition, should such arise.
  • Published: August 21, 2009 11:23 AM

  • RWW
  • Well, I did state that no competition in a region is allowed…
  • Published: August 21, 2009 12:02 PM

  • scott t
  • i dont know if there is any objectivist writing on pda territorial overlapping…maybe mutual defense agreements over important water routes would spring up between nearby pda’s in objecto-world. various flags required on ships to indicate cargo, etc….search some objectivist boards…i dont know.
  • Published: August 21, 2009 2:37 PM

{ 161 comments… read them below or add one }

mpolzkill August 30, 2009 at 9:16 am

Bala,

“system of anarchy”

I don’t think you’re grasping what anarchy means.

“might rather than right….not slip down the slippery slope of tyranny”

Nor tyranny. Citizens must perceive authority to be legitimate. Tyranny can only exists while a critical number of them are somehow convinced that it is valid. It took about 200 years here in America and myriad programs, wars and compulsory state schooling among other things to bring us to a sort of tyranny-by-nanny. You are really giving the hard work of thousands of tyrants over the course of centuries short shrift with your cartoonish theory about the slippery slope.

“immoral choice of a person who is consistently evading reality”

I AM sorry; you aren’t a libertarian sect, these are the words of someone from a religious sect. First you demonstrate a tenuous grip on reality and then you say we are immoral for evading your vision of it.

“‘state’ when you should be using’government’”

No, “state” says it and it bugs you. That’s good, it tells me that the benign word “government” is one of your legitimizers.

“alternative”, I do not mean an alternative government but an alternative set of people to take over the reins of government.

(Everyone thinks they can take the reins and then it’s all going to be hunky dory, and WE don’t accept reality) I do appreciate your attempt to answer my other question. You must realize that if I question a Muslim a lazy one may tell me to go read the Koran, a Scientologist will have me after L. Ron, I don’t have that much time, YOU’VE got to sell this thing (or not, maybe I’m not up to snuff you can already tell). So again, please forgive my ignorance: this alternative government which will never slip down the slope because you all are so moral and posses such a better grasp on reality than the other 99.999% of humanity today, will it have a definte territory, and if I live in said territory can I completely ignore you even if I’m being “immoral”. Let’s say if I give my brother-in-law a no interest loan or if I file share some Metallica with him? Will I have to get a lecture for the one and receive a fine for the other?

I have so many more questions and comments on your last posts, but there’s already a lot on the plate. Thank you for your answers, you are definitely interesting.

REPLY

mpolzkill August 30, 2009 at 9:31 am

* possess

Oops, I didn’t see that SK had already countered. I wanted to go somewhere else anyway, Bala: yours is a philosophy that is compatible with libertarianism right? In what ways can we (anarchists and objectivists) join forces to convince more people that taking responsibility for ones’ self is the answer for moving towards a better world. Because we agree on that, right?

REPLY

Michael A. Clem August 30, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Anarchist are like Robin Hood who kept fighting Prince John because he wasn’t the illegitimate ruler but King Richard was. Hence Anarchists ought to have no problem with ‘geographic monopolies’ except the governments are illegitimate whilst private landowners are legitimate.
Actually, from a libertarian perspective, King Richard is no more legitimate than Prince John–by what right was he king over England?–he was just a kinder, gentler ruler than John.
More to the point is your misunderstanding of law. A private property owner certainly has rights over his property, but that still does not give him the right to deny the rights of other people, even when on his property. Libertarianism implies that only enough defensive force to stop an initiation of force is justified. If you use too much force for the situation, you cross the boundary from defensive force to initiating (new) force. And retaliatory force requires a public process to justify it and make other people aware of it.
Thus, a private property owner might have absolute rights in his property, but that doesn’t justify him playing judge, jury, and executioner for any little rule or infraction that he chooses. A private geographic monopoly is not equivalent to a government.

REPLY

Gil August 30, 2009 at 7:09 pm

If a private landowner isn’t the sovereign landowner then it’s back to Minarchism especially if the landowner has to justify his actions to everyone else. On the other hand, there no rule for how much reliatory is necessarily too much lest an attacker claims self-defence because the victim was too good at defending himself.

Law comes from power held by someone – it’s either going to public or private. Without power it’s all just moral relativism, someone eventually has to the foot and as say “it’s my land and my rules”.

REPLY

Michael A. Clem August 30, 2009 at 7:25 pm

MichaelM’s post was quite interesting, especially the part about “arbitrary defensive force”. One wonders what this could be, since, as I mentioned above in response to Gil, “Libertarianism implies that only enough defensive force to stop an initiation of force is justified. If you use too much force for the situation, you cross the boundary from defensive force to initiating (new) force.” Either you are using defensive force or you are not–where does the arbitrariness come in?
I’ve tried to explain how common or customary law in conjunction with economic incentives would do a better job of “Objectivising” or standardizing law than a monopoly government would. However, I’ve yet to see Objectivists explain how a monopolistic government would go about establishing Objective Law–is it simply a matter of putting the “right” people in office, or is there some other, more effective way of establishing an Objective government?

REPLY

Michael A. Clem August 30, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Gil, you read, but you still do not understand. If a store owner catches a young boy stealing a candy bar, is he justified in cutting the boy’s hand off? Libertarianism suggests that no, he would not be justified–the penalty is too harsh for the crime committed. To put it into simpler terms for you, two wrongs don’t make a right. Appropriate defensive force is allowed, and no more. You want to make private ownership out to be some kind of absurdist position in order to justify minarchism, but the absurdist position is just as wrong as the minarchist position.
Third party arbitration and mediation is a long-established means of sorting out differences, and while it may be considered a “justification” to other people in society, libertarianism doesn’t necessarily imply atomism–even a libertarian society would still be a society of people who have to live together. Ostracism and peer pressure are effective tools of civil society to help keep people in line, even “sovereign” property owners, without resorting to coercive, authoritarian rules via minarchism.

REPLY

Michael A. Clem August 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Law comes from power held by someone
I don’t believe that, even though it is pretty much the traditional view. No, law is what society accepts as the rules of society. Yes I’m using the “collectivist” concept of society, here, but the important part is that arbitrary rules set up by a monopolistic, coercive agency cannot truly be considered Law. People have to accept these rules as useful and necessary for the smooth functioning of society. And this is why an anarchist society can function–because of the true nature of law and legal systems, instead of the perverted and distorted version created by governments. Common and customary law require no coercive power to function. Merchant Law worked (and still works today) because the merchants willingly accepted it, not because some organization forced them to accept it.
Create arbitrary laws and force people to accept them, and you create backlash, discontent, unintended consequences, and chaos. Create reasonable laws, and there’s little need to force people to accept them–that’s what most people want in order to maintain a civil society.

REPLY

Gil August 31, 2009 at 6:59 am

Meh. As I implied private landownership would go some way into solving the moral relativism of “well that’s just your view” as in “it’s my land and therefore my view makes right”. Besides creating laws and having the power to properly enforce laws creates acceptance. Hence Muslim countries have no problems enforcing ‘honour’ on their women.

“Can a store owner lop off some shoplifting kid’s hands?”

Who knows, if the custom in land does indeed do that because the few kids who are caught end up as scary deterrent to other would-be shoplifters then maybe yes. But if it isn’t the custom elsewhere then no.

REPLY

mpolzkill August 31, 2009 at 8:54 am

Gil said: “creating laws and having the power to properly enforce laws creates acceptance.”

Again, behold the authoritarian mind of the conservative. It’s a huge mistake to think that because one of them is interested in Austrian economics or calls himself a “minarchist” that he is an ally. The over-riding process of their minds: other people are basically naughty children who must be kept in line at all times by conservatives. Only conservatives have somehow been mystically granted superior wisdom and the righteous power to mete out justice and order. The very law derives from their superior minds. What they are actually are representatives or sychophants of the Ancien Regime, forever worshiping authority and trying to retain dominance. Their main tool of course is central banking and you can see “Gil” typically defend the banksters here:

http://blog.mises.org/archives/010553.asp

“creating laws and having the power to properly enforce laws creates acceptance.” – anonymous authoritarian

“Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property—this is man…[they] do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.” Frederic Bastiat

Always remember which side of the assembly Bastiat sat on.

REPLY

Gil August 31, 2009 at 10:26 am

Who likes the non-sequitors then mpolzkill? It’s akin to you saying, “since you don’t like deflation you must love inflation, in fact you really love hyperinflation and are both engaged to be married”. It’s a fact of life that certain harsh regime have the obedience of it members and even acceptance of some of the members. Or that certain customs and traditions of certain cultures are ancient and precede statutory laws but are nonetheless still barbaric and deserved to be annulled with statutory law. Or you because you won’t accept our magical anarchist you views (or minarchist views either) then you justify all regimes now matter how extreme.

Once upon a time a Liberal had to get robbed or bashed before converting to Conservatism, now it seems Libertarianism is doing that job.

REPLY

mpolzkill August 31, 2009 at 11:04 am

Gil, I can barely make out what you’re saying.

The connotation you, most dictionaries and most others derive from the word “authoritarian” is derived from somewhere outside the root words.

authority = persons in command (command = mastery)
-arian = believer, advocate
believer in authority = Gil

What kind of consumer doesn’t like deflation? Who said anything about hyper-inflation?

We’re all getting bashed over the head by the State. The State’s insane destruction of our economy will create far more freelance criminals. Sure, some “liberals” may become conservatives after being mugged. It would take one pathetically weak libertarian who can’t take care of himself and who then runs into the arms of those who helped create his mugger.

I don’t accept your magical authoritarian views, your Positivist Law views. Throughout history your views lead to variations of where we are today and where we’re headed further. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, perhaps you don’t wittingly justify the worst regimes; you, along with millions of others do abet them though, at least unwittingly.

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