Sunday, January 8, 2006

A Lesson that has NOT been learned

The Mises Institute has hosted The Libertarian Forum, a biweekly set of newsletters edited and mostly written by Murray Rothbard. The newsletter was published from 1969 to 1984 and according to the Mises Institute, "contains substantive theoretical contributions, commentaries on politics, details of disputes and arguments within the libertarian movement, and forecasts on the future of liberty".

The following is an excerpt from the April 15th edition, 1969. Canadians would do well to recall this timeless message as they march off to polls this month to pick their masters:

The first great lesson to learn about taxation is that taxation is simply robbery. No more and no less. For what is "robbery"? Robbery is the taking of a man's property by the use of violence or the threat thereof, and therefore without the victim's consent. And yet what else is taxation?

Those who claim that taxation is, in some mystical sense, really "voluntary" should then have no qualms about getting rid of that vital feature of the law which says that failure to pay one's taxes is criminal and subject to appropriate penalty. But does anyone seriously believe that if the payment of taxation were really made voluntary, say in the sense of contributing to the American Cancer Society, that any appreciable revenue would find itself into the coffers of government? Then why don't we try it as an experiment for a few years, or a few decades. and find out?

But if taxation is robbery, then it follows as the night the day that those people who engage in, and live off, robbery are a gang of thieves. Hence the government is a group of thieves, and deserves, morally, aesthetically, and philosophically, to be treated exactly as a group of less socially respectable ruffians would be treated.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think its robbery if it goes towards the proper role of government. Problem with people like Rothbard is that they don't believe in government.

Anonymous said...

Government is a cancerous growth, the bigger it gets the more it consumes. In our society, the government believes that they need to run everything, that Canadians are not capable of making our own informed decisions so the government needs to do so for us. When the government takes my hard earned dollars and uses them to support beliefs and programs I personally would never sink a dime into, it can only be called theft. Additionally, when the government takes over the running of anything, Canadians need to understand that the product will be sub-par and more expensive than if it was left inside the free market system, simply because the government is no longer concerned about the end goal or the big picture, but will happily continue to follow process and ensure job security for all government employees.

Anonymous said...

"Government is a cancerous growth..."


....Yes, but it IS necessary.

Lisa said...

Anonymous the first and I am assuming the third commenter here:

"Problem with people like Rothbard is that they don't believe in government."

This is a problem?

Define the "proper role of government" and explain why a system that exists on the basis of force rather than voluntary association is necessary and desirable. If people cannot be trusted to govern themselves, how can they be trusted to rule others?

My parents taught me that stealing, that is the forceful taking of something that does not belong to you, is wrong. The gangs clamouring for power appeal to the trendiest special interests groups, like minorities and the elderly, and the all encompassing Poor, by promising them a share of the loot if only they'll show their support at the voting booth. The funds for the grand redistributive scheme are then taken from individuals against their will because those in power have decided that other individuals have more right to your money than you do, although you earned it.

Government is a cancerous growth to be sure. Efforts to restrict the sphere and scope of government fail, because the individual is the enemy of government claiming to recognize collective interests.

I quote here from "The Nature of Man and His Government" by Robert LeFevre:

As we look at government we find that men have organized for the purpose of protecting themselves and their property. Government is the tool of this protection.

Also, since government is always an agency which plans to use and, indeed, must use force, we have noted that government derives its power from a compulsory unification. All persons under the jurisdiction of a particular government are compelled to agree with whatever that government does. The agreement can be enthusiastic, tacit, or reluctant. But the agreement must be there. Government's power to protect is based upon that agreement, however secured. Power, to be effective, cannot permit exceptions.

Thus, the government is inevitably opposed to individuals. The individual is the natural prey of the organizational tool. And we have shown that when the individual is immoral, mentally retarded, or physically aggressive against others, the government can employ its cohesive power in a manner which is pleasing to people in general.

In short, it can act defensively, taking a position against the one on behalf of the many.
So long as the matter is simple, the case clear-cut, the individual obviously out of order, and the protection of the people generally the paramount issue, government is fulfilling what people generally expect of it.

But matters are rarely simple and cases have a way of being complicated and fogged over with a combination of motives, behavior patterns, backgrounds, and prejudice. Thus, more times than not, an individual will object to some particular government action only to find himself, by reason of his objection, the object and the victim of governmentalism.

A peaceful and law-abiding citizen, for example, may have perfectly sound and moral reasons why he does not wish to share his money with the government or the politicians of Yugoslavia. His conviction can be logically derived, morally certain, and sincerely maintained. In holding to his conviction, the individual is harming no one. His belief is not inimical to the welfare of other people. Actions which might spring from his belief are not aggressive. In other words, physically, mentally, and morally, such a citizen can be above reproach.

Yet, when the government adopts a policy which prescribes the sharing of his earnings with a foreign government, the man who objects to this can be treated in precisely the same manner as a bank robber could be treated and for the same reason. The government cannot brook a deviationist.

If the government decrees against bank robbing, it can permit of no exception. It will use its full force of unified power to prevent bank robbing, or, at worst, to apprehend and punish the robber should one appear. And if the government decrees a universal sharing of its citizens' wealth with the politicians of another country, it can permit of no exception here. It can and it will use its full force of unified power to collect whatever sums it deems advisable and will punish any person refusing to provide those sums, with arrest, fine, or imprisonment, and in the event of resistance, with death.

Thus, in practice, the tool of protection, which men have devised out of their weaknesses, can be employed and is employed with equal vigor and ferocity against both the criminal and the good and harmless citizen. Here the bank robber and the patriot who loves his country are equated.
Government has but a single standard: obedience. Its decrees, good, bad, or indifferent, are enforceable. And the men in government cannot recognize a law which need not be enforced. If the government has adopted a policy, the policy must be carried out, even though one policy may be aimed at social stability and the other at social injustice.

This is one of the characteristics of weakness contained in man's nearly universal tool of strength. The device of protection can be employed as a weapon both defensively and aggressively.

anon 1 and 3 said...

Lisa,

I recognize the problem with a government that exerts too much power and oversteps it proper authority, but the answer isn't anarchism, which I find irrational. Taxes that go towards certain things that you wouldn't pay for yourself, of course are wrong and can be described as theft. That is why roads for example should be paid with gas taxes, that way only those who directly or indirectly use those roads are the ones footing the bill.

But government IS necessary to keep social order and this means if anyone wants to live in a free society — a society whose government keeps social order by protecting rights — must pay their dues. The proper role of government is to protect the individual rights of its citizens and to do this you obviously need a military, police and courts to implement justice. Funding for this type of government is necessary and I am not in any way convinced that funding for this can be made voluntary. Think of it as a sort of club where your dues go towards this role of government (protecting rights). If you don't pay your dues, you can and should be kicked out.

With that said, I am all for decreasing the size and role of the state, but the Rothbardian, anarchist utopia of eliminating government completely is far more dangerous than the one we have now.

Anonymous said...

The problem for people like Rothbart is that they will be governed. If lucky they get protection, a share in the national divided and the freedom to complain about being taxed. If not lucky they get to be somebodies bitch.

Rothbart might not fret so much about mere dollars if he remembered that a government's other call on its citizens is to military service in the defence of the rhelm.

He could shirk that too, only as long as their are better men than him to do the fighting.

But, then doesn't the same thing apply to paying tax.

Jay said...

"[I find] anarchism irrational"

I find it irrational that minarchist's believe government is some sort of a "club" with membership dues. How does one enter into a contract with this "club" and how did this club gain its landlord status over a particular geographic area? Who, specifically, decides what the membership dues are?

"Taxes that go towards certain things that you wouldn't pay for yourself, of course are wrong and can be described as theft"

What if I don't want to pay for an aircraft carrier? Or to invade Iraq? Or to equip the local cops with paramilitary gear? Would you put me in jail if I wouldn't voluntarily assist in securing these "needs" for you? By what possible definition could this not be described as theft?

Scott said...

Jay said: "I find it irrational that minarchist's believe government is some sort of a "club" with membership dues. How does one enter into a contract with this "club" and how did this club gain its landlord status over a particular geographic area? Who, specifically, decides what the membership dues are?"

The "membership" dues are determined by the amount it costs to have a government that protects rights.


Jay said:
"What if I don't want to pay for an aircraft carrier? Or to invade Iraq? Or to equip the local cops with paramilitary gear? Would you put me in jail if I wouldn't voluntarily assist in securing these "needs" for you? By what possible definition could this not be described as theft?"

If you didn't want to pay for a just government that protects your rights and upholds the rule of law, then you don't belong in the club, you belong in Bosnia.

Lisa said...

anonymous commenter 1 and 3;

Is it not utopian to think that the power of government can be restricted to protecting the basic and essential rights of individual citizens? Force is at the root of all government and the history of government has shown us that governments inevitably seek to increase their power, rather than limiting it, thus infringing on those rights that the government was originally formed to protect. The court, military and police are a large part of the problem with government in fact, as they are the tools used to make citizens submit.

I reproduce some words I wrote before on the subject:

In a state run society, force is sanctioned by governmental law and the means of defense and the ability to make laws and contracts are concentrated in the hands of a few. Democracy in the form that we know it frightens me for that reason. The will of 'the collective' results in a tyranny. Exactly no one is responsible, for it is not clear who voted for the government in the first place and the government being the abstract entity that it is results in the further diffusion of responsibility and makes it possible for evil-doers to justify their actions behind the curtain of the state - the familiar refrain: 'I was merely following orders and it is in your best interest besides. It is the will of the people.'

There can be no compromise when it comes to governments, for no matter the size and degree of power, the state must necessary use force to attain its goals. Unless membership is voluntary, there can be no justification for taking money from another against their will. There is no way to limit government except by refusing to comply completely and the market will never be truly free until individuals are entrusted to make their own decisions and exchanges. What are the 'proper checks and limitations'? How are these determined? Once again, if the electorate is unfit to make their own decisions free from force, then how can they be trusted to 'choose' just legislators whose very existence depends on the use of force?


There really is no getting rid of the massive machine that government has become and I am sure that we will never live to see an anarchist society nor even a limited one as you find desirable, at least not on any large scale. I'm not suggesting that society would function today if government just went away, and any successful attempt to do away with government or limit its power will have to be a gradual one. However, I am not convinced that such protective services are impossible to obtain on a free market basis. I'd be happy to engage in further discussion, but now it is time for me to get back to work.

I leave you with more Rothbard as we all seem to be enjoying him so much.

From "The Ethics of Liberty", the state is an organization which:

possesses either or both (in actual fact, almost always both) of the following characteristics: (a) it achieves its revenue by physical coercion (taxation); and (b) it achieves a compulsory monopoly of force and of ultimate decision-making power over a given territorial area. Both of these essential activities of the State necessarily constitute criminal aggression and depredation of the just rights of private property of its subjects (including self-ownership). For the first constitutes and establishes theft on a grand scale; while the second prohibits the free competition of defense and decision-making agencies within a given territorial area - prohibiting the voluntary purchase and sale of defense and judicial services.

Scott said...

Lisa said:"Force is at the root of all government and the history of government has shown us that governments inevitably seek to increase their power, rather than limiting it, thus infringing on those rights that the government was originally formed to protect. The court, military and police are a large part of the problem with government in fact, as they are the tools used to make citizens submit."


And in Anarchia, force is a way of life.

Force — used in retaliation to the initiation of — is a good thing. And man delegates this use of retalitory force to an agency based on objective rule of law.
And if that agency (government) stops protecting the rights of its citizens and instead violates them, it ceases to become a government.

But in Anarchia, there is no objective rule of law because Victim A's protection agency is right and just......and of course so is Perpetrator B's.

Lisa said...

Scott;

In response to your above comments....

"The "membership" dues are determined by the amount it costs to have a government that protects rights."
Sounds like a monopoly to me. I wonder if you support the draft too?

You say further:

Force — used in retaliation to the initiation of — is a good thing. And man delegates this use of retalitory force to an agency based on objective rule of law.
And if that agency (government) stops protecting the rights of its citizens and instead violates them, it ceases to become a government.


If this is so, then why does government continue to exist in the thieving form that it does? How do we get rid of it once it have engaged in large scale plunder? The checks and balances that have thus far been attempted have been unsuccessful.

Here is a summary of Rothbard's position, written as an introduction to "The Ethics of Liberty" by Hans-Hermann Hoppe:

... a territorial monopoly of protection and jurisdiction - a state - rests from the outset on an impermissible act of expropriation, and it provides the monopolist and his agents with a license to further expropriation (taxation). It implies that every property owner is prohibited from discontinuing his cooperation with his supposed protector, and that no one except the monopolist may exercise ultimate jurisdiction over his own property. Rather, everyone (except the monopolist) has lost his right to physical protection and defense against possible invasion of the state and is thus rendered defenseless vis-a-vis the actions of his own alleged protector. Consequently, the price of justice and protection will continually rise and the quality of justice and protection will continually fall. A tax-funded protection agency is a contradiction in terms - an invasive protector - and will, if permitted, lead to increasingly more taxes and ever less protection. Likewise, the existence of a judicial monopoly will lead to a steady deterioration of justice. For if no one can appeal for justice except to the state and its courts and judges, justice will be constantly perverted in favor of a state until the idea of immutable laws of conduct ultimately disappears and is replaced with the idea of law as positive state-made legislation.

Based on this analysis, Rothbard considered the classical-liberal solution to the fundamental human problem of protection - of a minimal or night-watchman state, or an otherwise "constitutionally limited" government - as a hopelessly confused and naive idea. Every minimal state has the inherent tendency to become a maximal state, for once an agency is permitted to collect any taxes, however small and for whatever purpose, it will naturally tend to employ its current tax revenue for the collection of ever more future taxes for the same and / or other purposes. Similarly, once an agency possesses any judiciary monopoly, it will naturally tend to employ this privileged position for the further expansion of its range of jurisdiction. Constitutions, after all, are state-constitutions, and whatever limitations they may contain - what is or is not constitutional - is determined by state courts and judges. Hence, there is no other possible way of limiting state power except by eliminating the state altogether and, in accordance with justice and economics, establishing a free market in protection in services.


Yes, there are bad people in the world, and we do need protection services and arbitrators to settle disputes. An anarchist society, made up of much smaller units of communities than we have now, would be ruled by individual rights of life, liberty and property and the possibility for large scale plunder and murder I think greatly reduced. I don't believe most people are generally law-abiding because of the existence of the government.

Again, I'm busy, so I'll reproduce some of my own words. It seems to me that you are suggesting something along these lines:

People are essentially brutes, who cannot be trusted to make wise decisions; without the state, we would have a lawless society made up of roaming armed hordes. Further, without state charity and services, society would be poorer and the misfortunate neglected. Thus, taxation, checks on the free market and state laws to protect us are desirable and necessary for prosperity and peace. Essentially, a kind of utilitarian, the ends justifies the means approach.

[..] 

Libertarians do not view people in this way, although they do not deny that there are bad and stupid people in the world. But from the fact that there are bad and stupid people in the world, it does not follow that we need government. Further, from the fact that there is good, it does not follow that it is the result of government. 

In fact, the presence of bad people in the world is all the more reason to get rid of governments, which tend to be made up of leeches and nannies and power hungry people, with the apparent sanction of voters.

Scott said...

Lisa said: "Yes, there are bad people in the world, and we do need protection services and arbitrators to settle disputes. An anarchist society, made up of much smaller units of communities than we have now, would be ruled by individual rights of life, liberty and property and the possibility for large scale plunder and murder I think greatly reduced..."

---------------------------------

An anarchist society wouldn't be ruled, hence the etymology of the word: "No ruler".

As I said in an above post:

"But in Anarchia, there is no objective rule of law because Victim A's protection agency is right and just......and of course so is Perpetrator B's."

A society where there is no objective arbiter of law is an unjust society. A society where there is competition on the use of retalitory force is a society that says that if I hire my protective agency to administer justice on "Joe" who broke my car window, my protective agency goes to administer justice to "Joe" and is met by "Joe's" protective agency at the door. You can figure out the rest.

Lisa said "Again, I'm busy, so I'll reproduce some of my own words. It seems to me that you are suggesting something along these lines:"
--------------------------------

No I don't agree that people are essentially brutes. Not most people in Western civilization anyway. But I do think most people in Canada have the belief that the purpose of government is to play Robbin Hood. The problem I would point out, is in our schools, and I don't support state-funded education.

Scott said...

I forgot to paste this bit on my last post:

Lisa said: "Sounds like a monopoly to me. I wonder if you support the draft too?"
-----------------------------------

No I oppose the draft and equate it with slavery.

Lisa said: "If this is so, then why does government continue to exist in the thieving form that it does? How do we get rid of it once it have engaged in large scale plunder? The checks and balances that have thus far been attempted have been unsuccessful."
------------------------------------

I was basically summing up what John Locke put forward. WHich is— once a government ceases to protect rights and instead violates them, it ceases to be a government.

How do we get rid of large scale plunder? There really is only one way; if you can get enough people together I'll meet you on parliament hill with my pitchfork and torch. Either that, or support a party that doesn't believe in plunder. So far there are none on the federal level. Provincially it would be in your interest to support Freedom Party.

Jay said...

"The "membership" dues are determined by the amount it costs to have a government that protects rights"

WHO *specifically* determines the dues, Scott and how *specifically* does this agency gain *its* rights?

>blank out<

"And if that agency (government) stops protecting the rights of its citizens and instead violates them, it ceases to become a government"

Is forcing me to move to Bosnia because I object to paying for, say, urban SWAT teams a violation of my rights? Yes or no, Scott?

I take it you're a capital "O" objectivist from this:

"you figure out the rest"

Sounds very familiar to Rand's trail off when confronting the idea of a rational anarchy in "The Nature of Government" (VOS).

Have you read Roy Childs "Open Letter to Ayn Rand"? I'm genuinely curious.

Lisa said...

Scott;

You cite Locke, and say

"once a government ceases to protect rights and instead violates them, it ceases to be a government. "

Once again I ask you:

Is it not utopian to think that the power of government can be restricted to protecting the basic and essential rights of individual citizens? Force is at the root of all government and the history of government has shown us that governments inevitably seek to increase their power, rather than limiting it, thus infringing on those rights that the government was originally formed to protect. The court, military and police are a large part of the problem with government in fact, as they are the tools used to make citizens submit.

Consider that governments everywhere around the world violate the rights of individuals, and yet people are either too lazy to complain or accustomed to feeding from the public trough and so believe they have a 'right' to life sustaining goods and services, like food and health care for example, even though someone else is forced to fund the scheme against their will. Consider also that the government holds the monopoly on Protection. As the state controls the courts and the arms, there is in the long run nothing really binding enough to prevent those in power from legitimizing plunder and widespread terror. As for taking a pitchfork and a torch to the parliament building, I think I'll pass, as I am sure we're no match for the police and military.

Criminals and scoundrels remain so, irrespective of the presence or absence of government, but when they work their way into the public bureaucracy, which holds the monopoly on defense, it becomes possible for them to carry on with their unlawful deeds but now under the powerful banner of the public good and popular sanction of the people. Our sought after protectors become our rulers.

You also point out some sloppy writing on my part:

An anarchist society wouldn't be ruled, hence the etymology of the word: "No ruler".

I said, An anarchist society, made up of much smaller units of communities than we have now, would be ruled by individual rights of life, liberty and property and the possibility for large scale plunder and murder I think greatly reduced..."

No, an anarchist society is not ruled in a statist sense, but rather run according to the principles of justice by individuals, not by huge gangs "legally" collecting the dues.
And since I've been fond of quoting today, an excerpt from

But Wouldn't Warlords Take Over?
by Robert Murphy


When dealing with the warlord objection, we need to keep our comparisons fair. It won’t do to compare society A, which is filled with evil, ignorant savages who live under anarchy, with society B, which is populated by enlightened, law-abiding citizens who live under limited government.  The anarchist doesn’t deny that life might be better in society B.  What the anarchist does claim is that, for any given population, the imposition of a coercive government will make things worse.  The absence of a State is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to achieve the free society.

To put the matter differently:  It is not enough to demonstrate that a state of private-property anarchy could degenerate into ceaseless war, where no single group is strong enough to subjugate all challengers, and hence no one can establish “order.”  After all, communities living under a State degenerate into civil war all the time.  We should remember that the frequently cited cases of Colombia and now Iraq are not demonstrations of anarchy-turned-into-chaos, but rather examples of government-turned-into-chaos.

For the warlord objection to work, the statist would need to argue that a given community would remain lawful under a government, but that the same community would break down into continuous warfare if all legal and military services were privatized.

[..] think there are strong reasons to suppose that civil war would be much less likely in a region dominated by private defense and judicial agencies, rather than by a monopoly State.  Private agencies own the assets at their disposal, whereas politicians (especially in democracies) merely exercise temporary control over the State’s military equipment.

[..] I can imagine a reader generally endorsing the above analysis, yet still resisting my conclusion.  He or she might say something like this:  “In a state of nature, people initially have different views of justice.  Under market anarchy, different consumers would patronize dozens of defense agencies, each of which attempts to use its forces to implement incompatible codes of law.  Now it’s true that these professional gangs might generally avoid conflict out of prudence, but the equilibrium would still be precarious.”

“To avoid this outcome,” my critic could elaborate, “citizens put aside their petty differences and agree to support a single, monopoly agency, which then has the power to crush all challengers to its authority.  This admittedly raises the new problem of controlling the Leviathan, but at least it solves the problem of ceaseless domestic warfare.”

There are several problems with this possible approach.  First, it assumes that the danger of private warlords is worse than the threat posed by a tyrannical central government.  Second, there is the inconvenient fact that no such voluntary formation of a State ever occurred.  Even those citizens who, say, supported the ratification of the U.S. Constitution were never given the option of living in market anarchy; instead they had to choose between government under the Articles of Confederation or government under the Constitution.

But for our purposes, the most interesting problem with this objection is that, were it an accurate description, it would be unnecessary for such a people to form a government.  If, by hypothesis, the vast majority of people—although they have different conceptions of justice—can all agree that it is wrong to use violence to settle their honest disputes, then market forces would lead to peace among the private police agencies.

Yes, it is perfectly true that people have vastly different opinions concerning particular legal issues.  Some people favor capital punishment, some consider abortion to be murder, and there would be no consensus on how many guilty people should go free to avoid the false conviction of one innocent defendant.  Nonetheless, if the contract theory of government is correct, the vast majority of individuals can agree that they should settle these issues not through force, but rather through an orderly procedure (such as is provided by periodic elections).

But if this does indeed describe a particular population, why would we expect such virtuous people, as consumers, to patronize defense agencies that routinely used force against weak opponents?  Why wouldn’t the vast bulk of reasonable customers patronize defense agencies that had interlocking arbitration agreements, and submitted their legitimate disputes to reputable, disinterested arbitrators?  Why wouldn’t the private, voluntary legal framework function as an orderly mechanism to settle matters of “public policy”?

[..] Of course, it is theoretically possible that a rogue agency could overcome these obstacles, either through intimidation or division of the spoils, and take over enough banks, power companies, grocery stores, etc. that only full-scale military assault would conquer it.  But the point is, from an initial position of market anarchy, these would-be rulers would have to start from scratch.  In contrast, under even a limited government, the machinery of mass subjugation is ready and waiting to be seized.

Scott said...

Jay said: "WHO *specifically* determines the dues, Scott and how *specifically* does this agency gain *its* rights?

>blank out<"

There is no blank out. Who specifically determines the dues? Well the agency that provides the services of course: the government. The costs for these "dues" would be reflected by whatever is necessary to perform the basic functions of the government. And I might add, the costs would be miniscule in this type of system.

Jay said: "Is forcing me to move to Bosnia because I object to paying for, say, urban SWAT teams a violation of my rights? Yes or no, Scott?
"

No, there is no such thing as a right to live under a system at someone elses expense. In our hypothetical society, if you plan on living in and using this society's governmental services and refusing to pay for them, you are no different than the modern day leeches who live off our welfare system. Denying you this service because you refuse to pay is not a violation of your rights any more than denying a welfare recipients cheque is.


Jay said: "I take it you're a capital "O" objectivist from this:
"you figure out the rest"
Sounds very familiar to Rand's trail off when confronting the idea of a rational anarchy in "The Nature of Government" (VOS).
Have you read Roy Childs "Open Letter to Ayn Rand"? I'm genuinely curious."

Yes I am an Objectivist and yes I have read Childs' letter. Are you aware that he later recanted?

"You figure out the rest": I personally don't see how the anarchist can not understand that without having a final arbiter of justice, chaos is inevitable. It boggles my mind. Especially in this day of competing gangs and power seekers under our current system, just imagine the competing gangs and power seekers in a society without a final arbiter of justice.


Lisa said: "Is it not utopian to think that the power of government can be restricted to protecting the basic and essential rights of individual citizens?"

I personally am not an idealist and don't expect or even think that one day in my life I will even see this type of system. But I do realize that I can help reduce the role and size of government when it oversteps its boundaries, people have done so. Marc Emery is a case in point.

But I do enjoy theorizing about the possiblities or impossibilities of market anarchism and I have yet to be convinced it could ever work, for the simple reason that without a final arbiter of justice you end up in an infinite regress of competing arbiters all trying to enforce their own "market driven" legal codes.

Jay said...

He recanted, but he never actually refuted his original argument which was airtight.

More blazing contradictions: You opposed conscription as slavery (i.e. if "society" decided it "needed" your life to defend the country), yet you refuse to acknowledge that indentured servitude in order to pay for same is, in point of fact, slavery (if I own myself and the product of my labour, how can you or your government goons justly appropriate either?). How can I be both a slave and a non-slave, Scott? How can A be non-A?

As far as your ridiculous social contract conception of government goes, believe me, there are plenty of straight-up fucking commies who believe in the exact same justification for government as you do. Thing is, they've got a whole ream of "conditions" they'd like to attach to the "contract".

You really ought to take a good, hard, look at what it is you're advocating here, Scott. The commies would eat you alive with arguments like that.

Lisa said...

Scott;

You say:

"I personally don't see how the anarchist can not understand that without having a final arbiter of justice, chaos is inevitable. It boggles my mind. Especially in this day of competing gangs and power seekers under our current system, just imagine the competing gangs and power seekers in a society without a final arbiter of justice."

The most powerful gangs are those competing for power of the courts and guns, all paid for through stolen money, taken from people against their will. Such a well oiled machine is much more powerful than any gang roaming the streets of Toronto and might I add, pretty much immune from punishment.

I refer you to the arguments in the last comment I left in response to your statement that "without a final arbiter of justice you end up in an infinite regress of competing arbiters all trying to enforce their own "market driven" legal codes."

"Who specifically determines the dues? Well the agency that provides the services of course: the government. The costs for these "dues" would be reflected by whatever is necessary to perform the basic functions of the government. And I might add, the costs would be miniscule in this type of system."

By what right does "this agency" determine what's owing? On the basis of what does it decide what is necessary to prolong the rule of government?

You have failed to convince me that a system which holds a monopoly on the laws and guns will ultimately protect the basic rights of individuals. What is this "final arbiter" of justice you refer to? How can government, which is by its very nature opposed to individuals, not fail to collapse into collectivism? What is this "agency" that provides the services and how are the services it provides determined and funded? According to whom? According to what and according to checks and balances sanctioned and enforced by whom? When the government ceases to be legitimate, whatever that means as they write their own rules, what then? The government controls the means of protection. The highly organized government holds the monopoly on force, and so can usually suppress revolts.

Once the government is set into motion there is no stopping it from invading the rights of private individuals. Protection and the resolution of disputes, no matter the society, will always prove difficult but I have yet to be convinced that the inevitable result of governments is one other than plunder and killing, for the 'simple reason' that without a free market to balance private interests you end up with a system that attempts to protect the people at all costs in relation to the benefit expected by the government.

No matter the type of society we have, there will always be criminals looking to unjustly profit from the work of someone else. Protection is a necessary and desirable commodity. If people agree - but do they?? - to let particular governments rule over their fate, then why is it inconceivable that without government, people would come up with mutually agreeable solutions to solve disputes and threats to security? If all other commodities, goods and services are rightly left to individuals in a free market society, why do we need the state to stick around and protect us?

Anyway, it's been fun. Let's both read the book reviewed here and consult.

Scott said...

Thanks for the book recommendation Lisa. Looks interesting.

gm said...

In Rand's view, an individual "must consent" to "renounce the use of physical force" and delegate "to the government his right of physical self-defense." ("The Nature of Government") One of her defenders at the Ayn Rand Institute, Harry Binswanger, has even said that the government must regard private force "as a threat—i.e., as a potential violation of individual rights"

Having said that, in the wider sense, each individual, because he has sovereign rights, is a government unto himself(or should be). As Governments embrace more privatization and deregulation, they shift power to the millions of personal governments that prevail. So the question is not whether competing governments work. It is how they work. I know this isn't the conventional manner of addressing the issue, but I'm less interested in being conventional than in exploring ideas.

bonnie abzug said...

"Individuals" aren't "governments" in any real sense, gm. The notion is a construct in political philosphy - useful, certainly, but only as a means to another end.

And Rand was a nasty piece of work, and a flake to boot.