quadibloc on May 08, 2010, 10:21:56 am
Sometimes, in discussion of Libertarianism, taxes imposed on people by a democratically-elected government are compared to three wolves and a sheep deciding on what is for dinner.

From this, I have concluded that Libertarians believe that our present system of government is morally wrong, that it violates the rights of individuals, with all this implies. Perhaps I am wrong about what I think this implies (by logic, if a statement is true, what it implies is also true, so it is not the last part of the sentence itself that is in error), rather than about the first part of the sentence, but from some of the other arguments in the forum, I begin to suspect I must be wrong somehow, otherwise Libertarianism would have absurd consequences.

In one recent post, in replying to a question about how Anarcho-Capitalists could survive in the absence of an organized constabulary, one poster noted that if someone were to steal from him by force or fraud (and make the mistake of leaving him alive afterwards) those who did so, by their act, effectively gave him permission to use whatever force is necessary to retake the stolen property.

From this, it is clear - and I do not dispute it, although you might if the flaw in my logic lies earlier than I suspect it does - that in the days of Negro slavery, through tolerating this abominable practise, the United States was effectively giving permission to a more civilized land to compel it, by military force, to abolish slavery within its borders.

And, at this point, it should be clear where my argument is heading.

Then, it would seem, if I was of the Libertarian view, and I had invented a super-duper death ray, and had a secret laboratory on the Moon, and so on, it would be licit for me to compel the governments of the world to abandon their evil system of conscription and taxation, and instead to organize themselves according to Libertarian principles.

If a forced conversion of the world to Libertarianism prevented a global thermonuclear war from breaking out in a few decades, such an eventuality might be for the best. But I am just one human being, and thus mortal and fallible.

With my super-duper death ray in hand, thus, instead of being a Libertarian, I might believe that the fundamental principles anterior to laws decided by the elected representatives of the people... are the Ten Commandments. Including the first three. Or Shari'a. Or "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs".

Given this, the principle that is held up as the democratic principle in opposition to Libertarianism, that deciding everything by a show of hands, and never unilaterally imposing limitations to that by super death-ray, might be considered superior. The dictatorship of the majority, unrestrained by Constitutional limitations.

Our present political systems in the world's apparent best democracies are a hybrid between these two alternatives.

Some individual rights are imposed by constitutions, and thus kept binding on the legislature by the courts, but these individual rights do not go so far as to ban taxation and conscription. And the constitutions themselves are susceptible of amendment.

Respect for democratic systems of such a nature might be taken as a meta-principle of morality, if one would word it that way, to advise against threatening even imperfectly free countries with super death rays except in extreme cases.

EDIT: At least one part of this has been addressed, in the discussions about the real-life ancestor of the fictitious Admiral Harris. Death rays from the moon are terribly non-selective, like government-wielded weapons of mass destruction, and thus even in a cause so undeniably good as ending Negro slavery, collateral damage remains murder.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2010, 07:07:41 pm by quadibloc »