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A former member
Post #: 231
At http://dennisleewilso...­ I found an interesting article which claims that Objectivists should logically support Anarchy, not Minarchy. Although this topic came up in my earlier thread about a Common Law Court system, it probably deserves its own thread, if anyone's interested in discussing it.

I remain open minded and uncommitted as far as Minarchy vs. Anarchy goes, as there's a lot to do before that decision has to be made.

kevin
user 3352127
Dallas, TX
Post #: 18
Remember Roy Childs' open letter to Ayn Rand?

http://www.isil.org/a...­
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1,100
The cited Roy Child's letter to Ayn Rand includes:

Why is a limited government a floating abstraction? Because it must either initiate force or stop being a government. Let me present a brief proof of this.

Although I do not agree with your definition of government and think that it is epistemologically mistaken (i.e., you are not identifying its fundamental, and hence essential, characteristics), I shall accept it for the purpose of this critique. One of the major characteristics of your conception of government is that it holds a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force in a given geographical area. Now, there are only two possible kinds of monopolies: a coercive monopoly, which initiates force to keep its monopoly, or a non-coercive monopoly, which is always open to competition. In an Objectivist society, the government is not open to competition, and hence is a coercive monopoly.

The quickest way of showing why it must either initiate force or cease being a government is the following: Suppose that I were distraught with the service of a government in an Objectivist society. Suppose that I judged, being as rational as I possibly could, that I could secure the protection of my contracts and the retrieval of stolen goods at a cheaper price and with more efficiency. Suppose I either decide to set up an institution to attain these ends, or patronize one which a friend or a business colleague has established. Now, if he succeeds in setting up the agency, which provides all the services of the Objectivist government, and restricts his more efficient activities to the use of retaliation against aggressors, there are only two alternatives as far as the "government" is concerned: (a) It can use force or the threat of it against the new institution, in order to keep its monopoly status in the given territory, thus initiating the use of threat of physical force against one who has not himself initiated force. Obviously, then, if it should choose this alternative, it would have initiated force. Q.E.D. Or: (b) It can refrain from initiating force, and allow the new institution to carry on its activities without interference. If it did this, then the Objectivist "government" would become a truly marketplace institution, and not a "government" at all. There would be competing agencies of protection, defense and retaliation – in short, free market anarchism.

(bold emphasis added.)

One immediate problem with the first bolded statement is equivocation on the word "monopoly." A government does not have to initiate the use of force to maintain its "monopoly" on the use of retaliatory force. It only has to retaliate to someone who initiates the use of force. If no one initiates the use of force, it does nothing to maintain its "monopoly" on the use of retaliatory force. More importantly, who is to judge whether a force against another is "initiated" or (objectively fair) "retaliation"? That is a huge issue, which this passage of the letter takes as a given that everyone would somehow be in agreement on.

Another huge mistake is the author completely ignored or was unaware of the fact that private businesses ("institutions") for the "protection of contracts and the retrieval of stolen goods" already exist. There are probably thousands of such private businesses in the US! It's as if the author had never heard of arbirtation associations, bounty hunters, and repo men.

In general, however, such businesses are not allowed to breach the peace in the performance of their services. This means they cannot initiate the use of force, but only "retaliate" in very delimited ways. In addition, they bear the risk of proving to objective authorities (of the government) that they had the right to act in the use of retaliatiatory force and did not exceed that delimited retaliation--or they would be guilty of initiating the use of force. Once they cross that line, or appear to, the goverment can act to stop them from initiating the use of force.

Yet another massive mistake in the article is the implication that such a service "provides all the services of the Objectivist government." Just for a big example, what about the military?

As governments deal in force, a "competition" between "competing governemnts" is based on the threat of warfare or actual warfare. If between "minarchist" governments, such a competition threatens or results in gang warfare or tribal warfare. If between "big nonarchary" governments, the "competition" is based on theats of war or results in total war.

I don't understand the appeal of anarchy or "minarchy." A constitutionally limited government and a people who predominately agree with it can and have worked reasonably well. It could work better with a better constitution and more predominant rational philosophy. But we're working on that!

--OT

(8-12-10 edited for grammar -OT)
Chris L.
Maximum_Liberty
Allen, TX
Post #: 3
OT:

Generally, the more anarchist-oriented end of the libertarian spectrum sees Objectivists as minarchists; that is, that the Objectivist position is that government should be abolished down to a very minimal level, usually involving physical protection.

I think there is a decent case that Rand believed in more than minarchist government. For example, she believed in intellectual property rights, which most libertarian thinkers now find very hard to square with minarchism, much less anarcho-capitalism.

I think the difference between the Objectivist position on the use of force and the anarcho-capitalist position is that anarcho-capitalism holds that it is morally permissible for an individual to use force against someone using force against them or their property (for example, it is OK to trespass on to someone else's ranch to retrieve a stolen cow). The Objectivist position appears to be that the government has a monopoly on the rightful use of force (because initial force is entirely prohibited, and retaliatory force is a public monopoly). So, the Objectivist position would be that the true owner of the stolen cow would need to go to the police. And, if the true owner fetched the cow back himself, an Objectivist government would have to take action against both the thief (for theft) and the true owner (for trespass). Is that a correct statement of Objectivism? If so, then the Objectivist government seems to be using retaliatory force against someone who used retaliatory force, not initial force.

Possibly to your point, this means no one has to judge whether force was initial force or retaliatory force. An Objectivist government would take action against anyone who took used force. (Since someone will probably raise it, there would presumably be some sort of permission to use force in self-defense during the initiation of force against you, but that's different than later retaliation, and much rarer.)

I'm well outside the Objectivist mainstream on this one issue, and I can't say that I've really researched it all that well, so I'll keep my own ill-informed opinion to myself.

Chris
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1,101
Hi Chris,

Thanks for your post!

I need to check the definition of "mincarchist," but my understanding is it refers to "competing governments" within the same geographical area. I've heard a lot about this idea, lately, where local "governments" compete for membership and "somehow" peacefully co-exist. If "minarchist" means limited government, it would seem to be a misnomor of some kind, because "anarchist" means not having any supreme government. By analogy, would "minatheist" mean one who just believes in petty gods? :0

But assuming "minarchist" means "government should be abolished down to a very minimal level, usually involving physical protection," this would be much less than Ayn Rand's conception of the proper roles of a constitutionally limited government. For example, it seems a "minarchist" (by the definition you suggested) would think that there should be no criminal law against fraud because there was no initiation of "physical" force. Similarly, they would say there should be no criminal law against falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded place that risks causing or causes a panic and stampede deaths because there was no initiation of "physical" force. For another example, they are opposed to all intellectual property, patent, trademark, and copyright for similar reasons: another person does not take any of these by "physical" force. For the minarchist, it seems words can never be "physical," even no matter the physical effects.

Just as metaphysics does not address the physical sciences in particular, the political philosophy does not address the philosophy of law in particular. These are special cases of a philosophical position, of course.

Accordingly, Objectivism does not specifically address the scenario you described with the stolen cow. (A good example of a legal issue, of course.)

But as you suggested, in generality, the politics of Objectivism includes the right of self-defense, but not the right of unilateral (non-objective) "retribution." For example, one can defend himself against an immediate physical attack, such as being lunged at with a knife, without waiting to call the police, by which time one would supposedly be dead. On the other end, one cannot track down a person for weeks on end that he truly but unilaterally believes had murdered his child and kill that person in revenge, but rather he must call the police. The last example illustrates that "retaliatory" force is broader than just self defense against an immediate knife attack or self help regarding a stolen cow or missed car payments--it includes retribution.

Regarding the cow example, I believe the Objectivist position would be that one can use self-help to retrieve stolen property, if it can be done without a breach of the peace (another term to define carefully). Of course, in doing so one may have to be able to prove that he was not himself stealing another person's cow and that the trespass on the thief's property was excusable. It should be remembered that a person who violates anothers property rights is in a poor position to demand that others respect his.

In general, the safer course in such situations of self-help, but not necessarily the required course, would be to call the police. Without objective processes to help guard against the risk of mistakes in the use of retaliatory force, the risks of misjudgments become both very large and very common. And the retaliations for the perceived injustices of wrongful or excessive retaliations would become even larger and even more common, too.

If one gets any of these wrong, or takes an action that fails to meet the standards of objective process, the action is not clothed in morality of justice but itself becomes the "initiation" of force.

In addition, the reason that the government treats unilateral retribution as initiation of physical force is because the person is taking a risk of the wrongful initiation of physical force--just as a drunk driver takes a risk of killing a family of five on the way home from the bar, even if everyone makes it home safely. In some cases the law may excuse the risk the person took, say if the revenge for killing one's child was in the heat of passion and the proof of the murder was objectively beyond doubt. But that risk cannot be generally excused in principle--or there would indeed be anarchy.

--OT
A former member
Post #: 232
I need to check the definition of "mincarchist," but my understanding is it refers to "competing governments" within the same geographical area. I've heard a lot about this idea, lately, where local "governments" compete for membership and "somehow" peacefully co-exist.

As I understand it, that's Panarchy (apparently proven for 3 centuries in Iceland and only failed because of some design flaws of the particular implementation plus the effect of the Church). Minarchy means minimal gov't, although I'm not familiar with the ideas you raised that some of these ideas (anarchy or minarchy?) prohibit recognition of intellectual property rights (another whole subject).

This is a good discussion of anarchy and I need to read it and think about it some more. I have the feeling that there are some points somewhere in this thread that I need to nitpick or question after further study... certainly more discussion on this issue is in order.
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1,104
Thanks for the correction, Gned.

Regarding your parenthetical comment:

As I understand it, that's Panarchy (apparently proven for 3 centuries in Iceland and only failed because of some design flaws of the particular implementation plus the effect of the Church). ...


Wiki is not the best source, but it's quickly accessible:

Commonwealth (930-1262)
Main article: Icelandic Commonwealth

Þingvellir, seat of Alþingi.In 930, the ruling chiefs established an assembly called the Alþingi (Althing). The parliament convened each summer at Þingvellir, where representative chieftains (Goðorðsmenn or Goðar) amended laws, settled disputes and appointed juries to judge lawsuits. Laws were not written down, but were instead memorized by an elected Lawspeaker (lögsögumaður). The Alþingi is sometimes stated to be the world's oldest existing parliament. Importantly, there was no central executive power, and therefore laws were enforced only by the people. This gave rise to blood-feuds, which provided the writers of the Icelanders' sagas with plenty of material.

http://en.wikipedia.o...­

This does not show that "panarchy" was "apparently proven for 3 centuries," but depicts a particularly brutal period of Iceland's history characterized by blood feuds. This is exactly as would be expected for the reasons discussed above.

At best, this was a primitive step away from the evils of tribalism toward a more rational government. There still is a ways to go toward the proper limited functions of a moral government. But let's not go back to the primitive and blood feuds. Let's work to build something better!

-- OT
Chris L.
Maximum_Liberty
Allen, TX
Post #: 6
OT:

I need to check the definition of "minarchist," but my understanding is it refers to "competing governments" within the same geographical area.


I won't claim complete knowledge here, but I don't think minarchy includes any concept of competing government. Indeed, one anarchist complaint about minarchists is that there is nothing in their theory that requires or recommends different governments for different geographies. Many anarchists claim that the logical conclusion of any embrace of government is to have a single government.

If "minarchist" means limited government, it would seem to be a misnomor of some kind, because "anarchist" means not having any supreme government. By analogy, would "minatheist" mean one who just believes in petty gods? :0


Surely that would be minithiest? Minathiest would be a very short disbeliever in god.

But assuming "minarchist" means "government should be abolished down to a very minimal level, usually involving physical protection," this would be much less than Ayn Rand's conception of the proper roles of a constitutionally limited government. For example, it seems a "minarchist" (by the definition you suggested) would think that there should be no criminal law against fraud because there was no initiation of "physical" force.


Actually Murray Rothbard (an early Rand follower and later anarcho-capitalist) laid out a title theory of contract that answers that assertion pretty well. The asserted equivalence of fraud and force had always been problematic to me until I read that work. Rand always equated the two, but did so without explaining her premises: under what circumstances is lying the same as hitting someone?

Similarly, they would say there should be no criminal law against falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded place that risks causing or causes a panic and stampede deaths because there was no initiation of "physical" force.


I don't buy your example. Using words to induce a stampede is just as much the initiation of physical force as pulling the trigger of a gun. They are just different mechanisms.

For another example, they are opposed to all intellectual property, patent, trademark, and copyright for similar reasons: another person does not take any of these by "physical" force.


Anarchists tend to be opposed to intellectual property. I have not noticed that minarchists are. They tend to believe, like Rand does, that these are valid and appropriate forms of property. While anarcho-capitalists believe that a stateless system would result in no such thing as intellectual property, if they are really true to their philosophy, I would think that they would have to admit that that's a prediction about the working out of a system that does not actually exist.

For the minarchist, it seems words can never be "physical," even no matter the physical effects.


I think that they are probably a bit more scattered than that. The overriding point is to reduce the government to the maximum extent possible, and no further. The disagreement would be over how far that means -- essentially like a technological question of what is possible. Anarchists (including anarcho-capitalists) believe the answer is that the maximum possible reduction of government is to zero.

But as you suggested, in generality, the politics of Objectivism includes the right of self-defense, but not the right of unilateral (non-objective) "retribution." For example, one can defend himself against an immediate physical attack, such as being lunged at with a knife, without waiting to call the police, by which time one would supposedly be dead. On the other end, one cannot track down a person for weeks on end that he truly but unilaterally believes had murdered his child and kill that person in revenge, but rather he must call the police. The last example illustrates that "retaliatory" force is broader than just self defense against an immediate knife attack or self help regarding a stolen cow or missed car payments--it includes retribution.


In what sense does an action being unilateral make it non-objective? Justice exists regardless of whether one acts alone or in concert with others. What principle of justice requires that you call the police to obtain justice? That is the question that the anarcho-capitalists pose to minarchists. I think the answer must have to do with respect for individual rights as an aspect of justice (but recall that respect for individual rights is not a free-standing virtue as I read Rand).

If one gets any of these wrong, or takes an action that fails to meet the standards of objective process, the action is not clothed in morality of justice but itself becomes the "initiation" of force.


Interesting issue. It implies that a mistake of fact can mean that one acts immorally (for example, if the cow had strayed onto the other person's land, then surely the person cannot use any force at all to retrieve it).

In addition, the reason that the government treats unilateral retribution as initiation of physical force is because the person is taking a risk of the wrongful initiation of physical force--just as a drunk driver takes a risk of killing a family of five on the way home from the bar, even if everyone makes it home safely. In some cases the law may excuse the risk the person took, say if the revenge for killing one's child was in the heat of passion and the proof of the murder was objectively beyond doubt. But that risk cannot be generally excused in principle--or there would indeed be anarchy.


Again, an interesting issue. I don't think that excuse is quite the right concept here. Under Objectivism, justice is an objective concept. If a person does something that is just, it is just regardless of whether it was unilateral or not. So, I think it is some word other than excuse -- maybe "justified." Again, I think the anarchist challenge is how the police would justify restraining an individual who is setting out to unilaterally impose justice, if that person happened to be objectively right. Our answer can't resort to mushy ideas about how hard it is to decide, or how it is impossible to truly know, or any of the subjectivist garbage. I think a fair position is that the individual involved runs the risk of being objectively wrong; if they can't prove justification, then they have initiated force. But that answer is a little problematic for the cop who shows up and has to make the call with insufficient information; presumably, if the cop shows up in time, he'll just arrest the person who would did the original wrongdoing, not the intended retaliator. That gets us back to where an Objectivist would want to be: the government did its job by arresting a wrongdoer before any individual did anything in retaliation.

Chris
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1,106
Chris,


Surely that would be minithiest? Minathiest would be a very short disbeliever in god.

Funny. :==)



... under what circumstances is lying the same as hitting someone?
[OT:] Similarly, they would say there should be no criminal law against falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded place that risks causing or causes a panic and stampede deaths because there was no initiation of "physical" force.

I don't buy your example. Using words to induce a stampede is just as much the initiation of physical force as pulling the trigger of a gun. They are just different mechanisms.

You answered your own question. BTW, this was not my example, but a Libertarian example of something that would fall outside the scope of "physical" force. Like you, I don't buy the distinction, either. That's why I mentioned it.



Anarchists tend to be opposed to intellectual property. I have not noticed that minarchists are. They tend to believe, like Rand does, that these are valid and appropriate forms of property. ...

Just how "short" are minarchists on the role of government? Assuming "minarchist" means "government should be abolished down to a very minimal level, usually involving physical protection," where does IP fit under "involving physical protection"? This is an extension of the problem discussed above: the concept of limiting government to policing "physical force" is mind/body dichotomy, in that words/ideas are deemed--at least by some anarchists/minarchists--to have no effect on the physical/body.



...The overriding point is to reduce the government to the maximum extent possible, and no further. The disagreement would be over how far that means -- essentially like a technological question of what is possible. Anarchists (including anarcho-capitalists) believe the answer is that the maximum possible reduction of government is to zero.

The anarachists are totally wrong. The "minarchists" say "too tall or "too short," but don't have a principled standard.



In what sense does an action being unilateral make it non-objective? Justice exists regardless of whether one acts alone or in concert with others. What principle of justice requires that you call the police to obtain justice? That is the question that the anarcho-capitalists pose to minarchists. I think the answer must have to do with respect for individual rights as an aspect of justice (but recall that respect for individual rights is not a free-standing virtue as I read Rand).

Unilateral does not necessarily mean non-objective. But it is far more likely to be, and, much more importantly, it is far more likely to be perceived by the others one is acting against as non-objective and wrong, inviting retaliations and blood feuds.



[OT:] If one gets any of these wrong, or takes an action that fails to meet the standards of objective process, the action is not clothed in morality of justice but itself becomes the "initiation" of force.


Interesting issue. It implies that a mistake of fact can mean that one acts immorally (for example, if the cow had strayed onto the other person's land, then surely the person cannot use any force at all to retrieve it).

A mistake of fact, no matter how honest, is not a get-out-of-acting-immorally card. One is morally responsible for the processes by which he arrives at making a factual determination. If one does not take care, he can be mistaken, but recklessly or negligently so. Then using force against another person on the basis of poor process is immoral -- and it can be immoral like drunk driving even if nobody gets "objectively wronged" in a particular instance. This is why due process is essential to criminal justice. Without it, there can be no objective justice (in a political context).

You can't prove "justification" for recklessness regarding the processes used to determine the facts and just retribution (which is different from immediate self-defense). You might be able to show that it was excusable in heat of passion or some such. But pre-meditated unilateral retribution (revenge) is not justified, and, as history confirms, it results in blood feuds if unchecked.

-- OT
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