terry_freeman on June 26, 2010, 01:23:59 pm
Sorry, If there is an example of a real-world government which does not exempt itself from the Law, I am unaware of it. Here in the US of A, we read constantly of agents of the Law who do things which would land mere subjects in jail, or worse. Google "don't tase me granny" and you'll find a large subset, for example.

If you or I as civilians were to tase and/or shoot grannies in their beds, as armed and armored SWAT teams do, we'd be imprisoned, shot, and/or lynched. Technically, the SWAT teams are "following the Law" only because they are permitted to operate under a different sort of law than the rest of us. If they "follow procedure", they have a license to kill; we do not, because the Most Holy Book of Procedure does not apply to mere subjects.

NemoUtopia on June 27, 2010, 03:44:22 pm
Alright, Brugle, it looks like we need to back things up even further. Time for Square Zero: I’m going to introduce a very important concept. That concept is logic. Logic is critical for the support of reasoning and argument, making it central to debate. However, not all logic is valid. The same conclusion can often be reached many ways, but only valid logic is correct. By contrast: invalid logic is wrong, and not a true argument for a position even if the conclusion reached is correct. Here’s a very, very basic example – Flies are insects. I saw a black fly. I saw a black beetle. Beetles are insects.

In this case, a correct conclusion has been reached: beetles are indeed insects. Even better, none of the four statements were false. However there is at least one logical fallacy here, and likely the same one repeatedly. It’s really semantics; you can pick whichever line you want. I may have assumed one or all of the following:
-All flies are black
-All beetles are black
-All insects are black
-All things black are insects

The use of any logical fallacy invalidates the argument, even if the conclusion is correct. This means that the argument used has no bearing on whether the conclusion is or is not correct…it doesn’t apply at all. This is indeed how one can be right/correct and wrong at the same time. Your statements about government, law, and concession of being above the law are based upon fallacies, on top of being internally inconsistent. You base your argument on the idea of ‘the only proper purpose of government’ and also state that the propriety of initiation of force bears no weight, while also implying that the only and inevitable way a government can fulfill its proper purpose (ignoring all other purposes and methods) is through the law (which you also imply that only a government can create)…which you define as the initiation of force. So, wait, individuals can’t initiate force? Or individuals create law individually? Yes, I’m ignoring scientific law, mathematical principles, and the study of a field [and profession of lawyers] here.

Then of course there’s: you imply that any and all governments are composed of a single amoebically cohesive hive-mind of a group incapable of any form policing itself or any form of accountability, which is not even the case in a dictatorship except on the smallest of scales. This doesn’t require any sociology to figure out: no human being is [a] Superman [or God] and therefore capable of enforcing [through the initiation of force] even that which they are given the authority over.

Quote from: Brugle
It (or something like it) is quite common among political theorists.  I'm pretty sure that quadibloc meant something like I did.  If you don't like that definition, what is your definition?  (Note: like many words, there are several ways to use the word "force".  This isn't a problem for people trying to communicate, as long as the meaning is clear to all parties.)

Bolding mine. ‘Something similar to’ and ‘something equivalent’ are distinct concepts. If you meant the first then the differences you ignore matter, and if you meant the second then you are wrong as explained above.

Quote
There's nothing wrong with a slippery slope argument.  Since "slippery slopes" in various areas are common, it is reasonable to try to avoid them when the results of sliding down the "slippery slope" are bad.

Slippery slope only applies in an extremely selective subset of cases, most of which involve a literal geographical feature where a person at the top is incapable of stopping themselves if they step the given amount in a given direction. It is reasonable to avoid such, but the broad application requires somekind of inevitability because the end result cannot be avoided (i.e. there is no way to stop decent). You even use this in your separation of law as initiation of force and edicts as the codifications of rules with the statement that all such ultimately lead to death of one breaking such (by all governments). The idea that all forms of government can and do enforce all forms of edict with force unto death upon those that refuse such edict has been proven patently false.

To address Terry’s point: Right, because there’s no such thing as personal reprimand in law enforcement which involves penalties ranging from fines to the equivalent of being blacklisted for employment. Much less the possibility of such. People operate off of poor intelligence all the time (as stated by your own theory), assuming a group of people will not suffer the same and cannot take corrective action is equally fallacious to assuming an individual cannot. Sorry, if you can find an example of anarchy where no one placed themselves above others in the same fashion, I’d like to see it. When the argument is one of degree the simple state of existence has no bearing on the discussion. Much as I’m a vengeful son-of-a-bitch in real life, the idea that the victim must be the one to take compensating action and that the actions of others have no bearing on the justice/equality of such a situation runs directly counter to your own position.

I admit I used ‘real world’ poorly, so here’s what I literally meant: the position based on personal and observed empirical evidence from which you are debating regardless of your personal beliefs. I make no claim to perfectly understand your mind or personal beliefs, since I am not a mind reader and have not read any manifesto by you to base such presumption upon. Not to mention that an incredulous and/or disparaging query about my understanding of you as an individual is a fallacy of its own, an appeal to absurdity. And I did specify the conditions of the loaded question in the post you quote, you chose to ignore it so they are further expanded upon here. The same applies for the Straw Man (the loaded question) and your felling of it because of the flaw you intentionally implanted. Also:
Quote from: Brugle
Without the italicized word, that would make more sense.  If you are interested in the US government under the constitution, read Lysander Spooner's No Treason, especially No. 6.
I point you once more to logic. The argument against a specific aspect of a thing that is not universal/inevitable among things of its kind is not an argument against all things of that kind, only things of that kind that have the specific argument you take issue with…literally, the aspect itself. As in my example of minimum sentencing, which I notice you didn’t quote, mention, or take apparent issue with and selectively ignore to try and make the important ‘not’ condition moot. If this example [of minimum sentencing expanded as an argument against judges and/or courts] is not directly parallel to your own argument through the same fallacies, you have yet to show it.

In summary:
You may in fact have reached the correct conclusion, but you are wrong. Find an argument that applies, which may take the form of expanding your existing one and making it consistent.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2010, 03:59:30 pm by NemoUtopia »

Brugle on June 28, 2010, 12:45:37 pm
This is indeed how one can be right/correct and wrong at the same time.
The statement of yours that I questioned was:
You're right...because you're wrong.
I assume that you realize that the statement that an argument can be right and wrong at the same time is very different from the statement that an argument is right because it is wrong.

Makes your lecture about logic seem a little silly, doesn't it?

You base your argument on the idea of ‘the only proper purpose of government’
This is the second time that you ascribed to me a view that I argued against.  The argument that quadibloc stated in reply #19 (I don't know if quadibloc agrees with that argument or not) concerns "the only proper purpose of government".  I disagreed with that argument.

the law (which you also imply that only a government can create)
No, I said nothing that would imply that.  I don't know if you can twist the definitions of words enough to come up with such an interpretation, but don't try--I'm not interested in arguing about definitions.

…which you define as the initiation of force.
No.  While I don't know what in the preceding sentence you consider to be my definition (perhaps "the law"??), there is nothing there which I would define (or ever have defined) as the initiation of force.  I have mentioned examples of the initiation of force by government agents, but what does that have to do with a definition?

You'd think that someone interested in logic would recognize the difference between an example and a definition, wouldn't you?

you imply that any and all governments are composed of a single amoebically cohesive hive-mind
No, I said nothing that would imply that.  I have no idea what I said that you could mangle enough to come up with that.

You may enjoy absurdity, but I usually don't.

You even use this ... with the statement that all such ultimately lead to death of one breaking such (by all governments).
No, I made no such statement, and said nothing that would imply that.  I did say, for example, that "All government edicts are backed by the threat of aggressive violence, including death", but that is very different.

Note: everything above is an example of a gross misstatement of what I wrote.  (I didn't feel like addressing other errors.)  As long as such misstatements continue, I doubt that I'll reply further to NemoUtopia.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 12:48:12 pm by Brugle »

SandySandfort on June 28, 2010, 02:48:26 pm
I think Brugle is right on this. I think assuming someone is implying something then setting out to beat up the straw man, is sophistry

Everyone might want to look up the definition of that word and see where they think it applies in this series of exchanges.

Here are some suggestions for everyone posting to this forum (or who engage in any congress with the rest of the human race):

1. If you infer that someone is implying something, ask them. (E.g., "You keep mentioning my good posture. Are you implying that I'm gay?") In addition to being much more fair, it's a good rhetorical technique if used correctly.

2. If you are asked a question, answer the question asked. (If you are a politician, I know this suggestion is falling on deaf ears.)

3. Along the same lines, if you realize you are wrong about something, admit it. Everyone probably already knows it, and by so doing, you save yourself from the embarrassment of being thought of as a horse's ass.

4. Be succinct. You are not being paid by the word. More words do not demonstrate more thought. They suggest the opposite. Also, K.I.S.S.

This is indeed how one can be right/correct and wrong at the same time.
The statement of yours that I questioned was:
You're right...because you're wrong.
I assume that you realize that the statement that an argument can be right and wrong at the same time is very different from the statement that an argument is right because it is wrong.

Makes your lecture about logic seem a little silly, doesn't it?

You base your argument on the idea of ‘the only proper purpose of government’
This is the second time that you ascribed to me a view that I argued against.  The argument that quadibloc stated in reply #19 (I don't know if quadibloc agrees with that argument or not) concerns "the only proper purpose of government".  I disagreed with that argument.

the law (which you also imply that only a government can create)
No, I said nothing that would imply that.  I don't know if you can twist the definitions of words enough to come up with such an interpretation, but don't try--I'm not interested in arguing about definitions.

…which you define as the initiation of force.
No.  While I don't know what in the preceding sentence you consider to be my definition (perhaps "the law"??), there is nothing there which I would define (or ever have defined) as the initiation of force.  I have mentioned examples of the initiation of force by government agents, but what does that have to do with a definition?

You'd think that someone interested in logic would recognize the difference between an example and a definition, wouldn't you?

you imply that any and all governments are composed of a single amoebically cohesive hive-mind
No, I said nothing that would imply that.  I have no idea what I said that you could mangle enough to come up with that.

You may enjoy absurdity, but I usually don't.

You even use this ... with the statement that all such ultimately lead to death of one breaking such (by all governments).
No, I made no such statement, and said nothing that would imply that.  I did say, for example, that "All government edicts are backed by the threat of aggressive violence, including death", but that is very different.

Note: everything above is an example of a gross misstatement of what I wrote.  (I didn't feel like addressing other errors.)  As long as such misstatements continue, I doubt that I'll reply further to NemoUtopia.


quadibloc on June 29, 2010, 04:32:25 am
Consider "the only proper purpose of government is to protect people from fraud and the initiation of force".  To keep it simple, I'll ignore the "fraud" part.  This expresses the idea that initiating force is the basis for determining any action to be a crime.  In other words, for a some value of "law", "don't initiate force" is the fundamental law.

However, government is the institution that has a legal monopoly on the initiation of force.  (An institution that did not support itself through the initiation of force and that did not suppress competing institutions through the initiation of force would not be a government.)  Therefore, when a government exists, laws are not universal--most people are required to obey the fundamental law, but some people (government agents) are not.

Once you concede that some people are above the law, I don't see how you can theoretically justify limits to their power (at least in their dealings with us mundanes).  If you can, I'd like to read it.
I will clarify what I was trying to say, although I'm not sure if what I, personally, intended to say is necessarily relevant to the argument.

I had thought that I was simply expressing one particular Libertarian viewpoint that would be familiar to people in this forum, and therefore not subject to misunderstanding. If dealing with fraud and the initiation of force is the only proper function of government, then engaging in the initiation of force, for example, to extort taxes to be used for poor relief, would not be permitted in that case.

I, personally, am neither a Libertarian nor a minarchist. But when this position is defended against the alternative of anarcho-capitalism, the argument, I believe, runs like this:

People can tell lies. They can claim an action does not constitute an initiation of force, when in fact it does. In a small, cohesive community, where people know each other, people know who they can trust, and thus serious confusion is unlikely to result from attempts to confuse the issue.

But if one were to try to bring ZAP rule to, say, Lebanon or Yugoslavia, the risk of bias in inter-group interactions is extreme, so an impartial central authority that does genuinely seek to prevent the initiation of force, rather than to encourage it as long as it's pointed the right way, appears to be needed.

Even if one thinks of the United States, if one is thinking of it continuing to function as a single economic unit, with freedom of mobility, there will be lots of big cities, and lots of strangers passing through everywhere else. If a stranger is always the natural suspect, others will take advantage of the presence of a stranger to commit crimes - and people will be afraid to leave their home communities. And the U.S. does have economically disadvantaged ethnic groups as well.

A "government" that can't initiate force, of course, is not quite the same as present institutions known by that name. Ayn Rand proposed that police salaries might be paid for by a "stamp tax": contracts, to be enforceable, would need to have a stamp on them purchased from the institution that would be asked to enforce them - making it a fee for service instead of a tax. (The similarity to that which provoked the Boston Tea Party was no doubt intended to shock people, so as to get their attention and get them thinking.)

Oh, and by the way, since we're talking about strawmen, I've raised a point here that might appear to be a strawman. I just finished Forge of the Elders, and was reminded of the fact that people here generally believe that the penalties for an initiation of force should be proportionate and reasonable.

I've noted that I would expect the penalties for even a slight initiation of force in a society based on ZAP to be (at least potentially) very harsh. Since this isn't what you folks are asking for, I need to clarify why I'm saying such a terrible thing.

I will set my example in a conventional state society rather than a ZAP one to explain the principle.

Let us say that I am an hour late arriving at work one morning because protesters for some political cause have blockaded a bridge. The police have arrested some of them, and there have been convictions.

I now sue the convicted protesters for $1,000,000,000.00, and argue that obviously they must be obligated to pay, because my time is my own, and they do not have signed permission from me to waste an hour of my time for any price, much less a price less than $1,000,000,000.00.

In today's legal system, the judge would laugh at me, or a lawyer would tell me not to waste my time, because this argument is not valid therein.

However, I now claim and assert the following: that this limitation on my ability to sue in such a case rests on nothing whatever but the power of the State to initiate force. The ZAP would explicitly prevent mercy from being compelled, even though it could certainly be encouraged.

If I'm wrong, then I have misunderstood something. If not, then a "reasonable exception" to the ZAP is being accepted, but without realizing that it's even there. That could be a place for government to sneak in.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 04:45:35 am by quadibloc »

Brugle on June 29, 2010, 11:48:40 am
I had thought that I was simply expressing one particular Libertarian viewpoint that would be familiar to people in this forum, and therefore not subject to misunderstanding.
That is what I thought too.

A "government" that can't initiate force, of course, is not quite the same as present institutions known by that name.
As I understand it, a government is typically defined as the institution that has a legal monopoly on the initiation of force (often with the qualifier "in a given geographical area").  I think that most statists would agree with that definition.  A statist would consider the initiation of force by governments to be (at least sometimes) good.

Therefore, "government that can't initiate force" is a contradiction in terms.  But if you want to define "government" in some other way, then I won't argue (as long as your meaning is clear).

Ayn Rand proposed that police salaries might be paid for by a "stamp tax": contracts, to be enforceable, would need to have a stamp on them purchased from the institution that would be asked to enforce them - making it a fee for service instead of a tax.
Sure.  That would be a possible business model in an anarchist society.  However, Ayn Rand proposed more than that: she wanted that institution to have a legal monopoly, so it would initiate force to prevent any other institution from offering the same services--in other words, it would be a government.

I've noted that I would expect the penalties for even a slight initiation of force in a society based on ZAP to be (at least potentially) very harsh. ... If I'm wrong, then I have misunderstood something.
I doubt that many people would want to live in a society where they might be fined $1000000000 for delaying someone an hour or $1000000000000 for stepping on someone's toe.  (Those with political power who could avoid such fines might like it, of course.)

The ZAP simply identifies what actions are considered crimes or torts.  A "society based on ZAP" would be one where the ZAP is accepted by the populace as a whole.  The ZAP does not specify what would be done when people commit crimes and torts.  Many anarchists think that restitution (when possible) is appropriate and reasonable.  (I heard a proposal that restitution should be exactly twice the harm done, at least for deliberate crimes.)

We don't know what institutions of "justice" would look like in a free society, but we can speculate.  Determining the amount of harm done (to calculate restitution) is difficult, so there would probably be specialists.  You suggested (in a different context) that an impartial arbiter would be needed, and many people would agree (in this context).
« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 11:50:13 am by Brugle »

quadibloc on June 29, 2010, 12:34:23 pm
Therefore, "government that can't initiate force" is a contradiction in terms.  But if you want to define "government" in some other way, then I won't argue (as long as your meaning is clear).
I was assuming that a broader definition existed, to include what Ayn Rand defined government as.

If I remember correctly, while not even governments can initiate force, in her proposal, individuals could use force in self-defense only, while the retaliatory, deterrent, and retributive uses of force - still not initiations, but replies to acts of the initiation of force - were a monopoly of government.

I doubt that many people would want to live in a society where they might be fined $1000000000 for delaying someone an hour or $1000000000000 for stepping on someone's toe.
Well, if not having a government means every citizen can be his own judge, jury, and executioner, I'm not sure how you will avoid it!

My point was, of course, that I wasn't accusing you of wanting this, but simply that whatever institution has the power to limit the penalties for the initiation of force also has the power to pretty well let its friends get away with it. Oops, here we've got government back! So if people are worried about leaving a back door for government to sneak in by, it looks like one that hasn't been thought of by some people here.

Plagiarism can be thought of as a form of fraud. But it's hard for me to see how copyright and patent laws, despite being very useful, rest on anything but the ability of the state to initiate force - as opposed to reflecting a natural right of authors and inventors.

If there was a society out there where people weren't subject to things like taxation and conscription, and I thought that I could survive in that society, and I thought that that society could survive, I would be strongly considering getting a ticket out. I wish you well, because I like freedom.

But I want you to think through the possible objections a little harder. Because it won't happen if too many people think it's just a pipe dream. And it won't happen if people get overenthusiastic, and try to achieve it in a way that ends in bloodshed (and they don't have to be the ones shedding the blood either; when people talk about doing away with government by ignoring it, instead of electing a slate of candidates for a party of anarcho-capitalists, I think of Ruby Ridge).

An example from Canada: some people complained that the Bloc Quebecois was abandoning its secessionist principles by running as a party in Canada's federal elections. But without such representation, why wouldn't the Federal government sincerely believe, and act on the belief, that nobody in Quebec actually wanted to separate? So in my opinion, by giving themselves a chance to get what they wanted through legal means (the Parti Quebecois, a provincial separatist party, already existed in Quebec, but provinces do not have the legal authority to redraw the map of the nation) was a praiseworthy step to prevent bloodshed.

jamesd on June 29, 2010, 03:58:11 pm
Quote
Well, if not having a government means every citizen can be his own judge, jury, and executioner, I'm not sure how you will avoid it!

Suppose most people - all respectable people - http://jim.com/anarchy/ are signed up with a defense organization with an insurance like arrangement - if you get in trouble, the organization will defend you at no additional cost to you.  Then each defense organization has correct incentives for justice - they don't want criminals as clients, regardless of whether they are rentacops, militias, vigilantes, or heroes.

As with medical insurance, if someone has not signed up with a protection agency in advance, and signs up after trouble occurs, he is going to find protection is limited and expensive. One contracts with an agency before trouble arises, in order to deter potential trouble makers – as with medical insurance, one contracts with an agency hoping never to use its services, and the agency hoping never to provide them. The agency therefore prefers to lose customers who commit crimes.

Insurance companies will not insure you against deliberately burning your own house down, and if they did, it would cost too much, and similarly protection agencies will not protect you when you yourself start a conflict. Therefore protection agencies will always need to have some reasonable arrangements for determining fault. They will do this not out of concern for the general good but out of concern for their own particular good, and the good of their clients or members.

Protection agencies will want clients who are peaceful, and law abiding (just as credit card agencies want clients who pay their just debts) and will have mechanisms in place to discriminate against the lawless. One such a mechanism is a system for determining justice in a dispute. Such a mechanism will effectively fine the somewhat lawless, and will leave the intolerably lawless unprotected and subject to private violence. If you are determined to be at fault, you will have to pay compensation or face grave danger of possibly lethal violence. Of course you might find a protection organization with a different opinion of you, but they have an incentive to form accurate opinions. Their diverse institutions and procedures for ensuring the accuracy of these opinions is the system of justice in an anarchic society.

If a client has a permanent relationship with his defense agency, in which the defense agency, like an insurance company, bails him out in trouble, then both defense agencies in a conflict have an interest in justice – one defense agency seeking that justice be done and seen to be done for the accuser, one seeking that no injustice be done nor seen to be done to the accused. If, however, the relationship is like that between a client and a lawyer, where the client hires the agency after trouble arises, then the agency has an excessive interest in getting good results for its client regardless of justice, and, like lawyers, an excessive interest in trouble. I expect that in anarchism, defense agencies would usually be based on long term relationships, rather than charging by the incident, because someone who relied on by-the-incident defense would be vulnerable to someone with superior resources. When he really needed defense, no one would want to provide it. Payment-per-incident creates an dangerous incentive for the defense agency to defend its client even when he is in the wrong, but it also creates a dangerous incentive for the client to refrain from seeking punishment for those who have wronged him even when he is in the right, and thus makes it likely that others will believe they can wrong him with impunity. An insurance type defense contract, where the defense agency does not charge for particular incidents, however costly they may be, will get you a little decal to put on your property and your contracts and so forth, a decal which will deter evildoers because the contract it represents deters evildoers. Such a contract represents determination to be avenged, payment in advance committing oneself and one's defense organization to future vengeance.

Suppose a customer has a dispute, and his agency refuses to assist him, claiming he started the trouble, or the other guy is not provably at fault. Suppose the customer objects, and now has a dispute with his defense agency. The most effective way that the customer can deter or damage his former defense agency is by advising other customers of that agency that it found him guilty unreasonably, much as people sometimes complain, and frequently threaten to complain, about bad conduct by insurance companies.

The best way the agency can win such a dispute is to persuade its customers that it reasonably found him at fault – the best way it can win such a dispute is to ensure that justice is seen to be done, and the best way it can save money by ensuring it has the right clients is to allow justice to be done to those of its clients that create trouble. The clients want an agency that will do justice to those that do them wrong, and the agency wants clients that refrain from doing wrong.

So each of the agencies involved has an interest in ensuring that justice is done, and wants to be able persuade the other agency, its other clients, and potential customers, that justice was done – the agencies want justice to be done, and want justice to be seen to be done.

Sometimes, to ensure that justice is seen to be done, it might well be necessary to rely on an outside arbitrator, an independent rentacourt, neutral between both groups of rentacops.

An arbitrator needs a reputation for doing justice, an anarcho capitalist defense agency needs to actually do justice. Government courts do not need either one.

Brugle on June 29, 2010, 05:17:04 pm
jamesd posted as I was reviewing my post, but I don't think I'll revise anything.  I don't know if the "justice" industry in a large anarchist society would be structured as james suggests, but I wouldn't be surprised.

I was assuming that a broader definition existed, to include what Ayn Rand defined government as.

If I remember correctly, while not even governments can initiate force, in her proposal, individuals could use force in self-defense only, while the retaliatory, deterrent, and retributive uses of force - still not initiations, but replies to acts of the initiation of force - were a monopoly of government.

Until I get your broader definition, I'll continue to use mine.

As I said earlier, Ayn Rand would have allowed her ideal government to initiate force to protect its legal monopoly.  She may have considered that inconsequential, but I don't.

Since your political beliefs are "far from Libertarian" (whatever that capital-L means), it appears that you support the initiation of force (for some good reason, perhaps "the general welfare").  So, why would the details of libertarian theory concern you?  (Not that I object, I'm just curious, since the details of power politics do not concern me.)

Well, if not having a government means every citizen can be his own judge, jury, and executioner, I'm not sure how you will avoid it!
As I said earlier, we don't know what institutions of "justice" would look like in a free society, so we can't be sure how particular problems will be avoided.  People have, however, put a lot of thought into exactly how such institutions would work, and there is extensive literature.  Plenty of it is on the internet, if you really are interested.

My point was ... simply that whatever institution has the power to limit the penalties for the initiation of force also has the power to pretty well let its friends get away with it. Oops, here we've got government back!
I find it hard to believe that a free people would create such an institution.  Don't forget, we are talking about the future, where people know what we know and (hopefully) more.

One reason that government agents can get away with that sort of abuse (and much worse) in modern societies is that they are shielded from the laws that most of us have to obey.  In a free society, a policeman who initiates force against someone (or who helps someone else initiate force) would be considered a criminal by almost everyone, including other policemen.  An arbiter who makes an obviously unjust decision would (at a minimum) lose business.

So if people are worried about leaving a back door for government to sneak in by, it looks like one that hasn't been thought of by some people here.
I can't speak for anyone else, of course, but I don't remember if I thought of that myself or if I read about it.  There is a lot of literature on how defense agencies might function (for good and for bad).

If you want to come up with a good objection to anarchism, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the common objections that have been refuted and then go on from there.

it's hard for me to see how copyright and patent laws, despite being very useful, rest on anything but the ability of the state to initiate force
I disagree that copyright and patent laws are useful (except to a few people).  I agree that copyrights and patents are grants of monopoly privilege enforced by the power of the state.  But patents and copyrights are a side issue.

This is another area where Ayn Rand was (in my opinion) in error.  (Let me be clear--I think Rand had a very sharp mind and was right about many things, and I greatly enjoyed hearing her speak a few times.)

But I want you to think through the possible objections a little harder.
Which possible objections?  You probably don't mean the objection that statist aliens from another star might be hiding nearby, waiting to throw antimatter bombs at any anarchist society, but I'd guess that most objections that you come up with have been extensively discussed (by smart people on both sides) and (as far as I can tell) refuted.

electing a slate of candidates for a party of anarcho-capitalists
What would you say to someone who suggested that you join the KKK to make its policies more tolerant or that you join the Mafia to make its policies less murderous?  Assume that you live in an area where the KKK or the Mafia has a lot of power.


wdg3rd on June 30, 2010, 02:30:48 am
If you ascribe to the Zero Aggression Principle (or use it as an argument) or any variation thereof, you have just stated that there are proper limits on the use of power and that reasonable human beings can recognize these and abide by them.

The ZAP is not a statement of power.  (An 87 pound 87 year old lady defending herself against a 230 pound 23 year old thug is not a power trip).  You continue to support government.

Governments don't adhere to the ZAP.  Governments rarely consist of reasonable human beings.  (I'd say never, but I've heard unsubstantiated rumors).

You seem to think that governments are sometimes beneficial and the police are there to protect you.  Learn, boy.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

wdg3rd on June 30, 2010, 02:51:28 am

the assumption that anyone is above the law is a flaw,
That was my point.  We agree about something.

I am above any law I didn't vote for, whether the law was voted by "The People", handed down by "Da Boss" (whether he was elected like Hitler or elected like Bush 2 and Obama) or even the Word of God..  Oh yeah, I'm also ethically superior to any god I ever read about [such as the desert king who rules the Jews, Christians, Muslims and Mormons] since I adhere to the Zero Aggression Principle, and no deity has ever even given lip service.  Like sending out bears to kill a few kids who made fun of an old fart's baldness is ethical.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

NemoUtopia on June 30, 2010, 11:34:24 am
Urgh. First I need to apologize to everyone, but especially to Brugle. Reviewing my initial response I planted bait even if I didn't mean to...so I was either looking for a petty, easy victory or looking for a fight, neither of which is acceptable. I should simply have refrained from posting until I was in a better mindset and able to keep my personal frustrations with family seperate, and will be much more careful of this moving forward.

My point was much like quad's, but poorly presented despite my efforts for clarity. The only point I ended up really making (by example :-[) was that a false argument is often worse than no argument. I'll start with my objection to your definition of government, and include a contrast to Ayn's...who I agree is an important thinker even when I don't agree with her, and envy you the chance to attend a speaking. Many definitions of government are simply incomplete in my opinion. My understanding of what is meant by 'government' and the 'state' is not strictly the method of a governing political authority as a ruler. Just as defining government as 'the means by which a political party exerts power' and other definitions define an aspect of many governments, this is just incomplete. History and the present provide us with examples of government that factor into arguments but are exceptions to these definitions. Ancient direct democracies, especially Athens, shuck many of these definitions and yet are a government (and form thereof) that have been considered in political debate since their existence.

Consider the idea of 'party' or even 'a party.' Parties as we consider them today, where we derive 'party politics' from. Alternately consider the 'party of one,' the effect of monarchies and dictatorships where power is vested in one individual and passed on by heredity, direct transmission, or coup. Either way, this method of definition is incomplete and possibly inconsistent in political debate - bodies that at least begin as economic organizations (companies, guilds, corporations) fit this definition but are usually not considered 'government' even when they dictate behavior of members and exert power with anything from thuggery to enlightened economics but are not a strict oligarchy. See also the Mafia. This means that political discussion is often about the highest enforced and/or most respected authority in a geographical region exclusively, ignoring smaller forms (legitimate or not). The United States is a structured example of how this is incomplete, and study of both history and real politics show that just because the U.S. wrote out the seperation of federal / state / local and how their authorities interact does not mean it was the first to see the actual effect. Counties, provinces, territories, (sub)-states, commonwealths, name your preffered way to slice the larger pie.

Similarly, making an aggression-monopoly the defining aspect presents many of the same problems, and some of its own: only specific (if most of the overt and harmful) forms are monopolized much of the time, with history showing exceptions for aggression not just against various forms of non-citizen (including familes OF citizens) but levels of citizenry. True aggression-monopoly is rarely the case, even when you ignore the defense of others and proportional retribution for aggression/harm. This is the core of my statement that many definitions of government, including initiation of aggression, are overly-selective in both senses of the term: they both include things which are not being discussed and exclude things important to the discussion at hand when used.

The above points also do not address non-aggression as a means of enforcement, which again we see both historically and today. Trade agreements, treaties, and economic sanctions are effective means of enforcement. If they weren't, this would very likely follow that shunning/blacklisting/boycotting and similar methods of behavior regulation do not work and thereby destroy the idea of a functional anarchy. This also raises the question of degrees of removal from aggression monopoly to be considered aggression or non-aggression, as is an example with the U.S. Highway system of highway funding via minimum age laws.

Put differently: history has shown us governments with sharply contrasting degrees of aggressive enforcement and non-aggressive enforcement. It doesn't hold that all governments enforce all edicts with aggression, direct or not, to death or otherwise, legitimately or illigitimately. This means that aggressive use of force and even its monopoly cannot be a true argument against having any government whatsoever, even if it factors strongly into which kind(s) is/are acceptable. I'm not actually a minarchist, at least not a 'true' one, but there are theoretical 'night-watchman' styles of government that at the very least can learn by the examples of history. Consider also that many governments have the means for an individual to actually institute change, whereas the Mafia and KKK (to use your example), do not. Joining such an organization to change its policies amounts to becoming the top-man at some level, if not the very top. Some governments are no better, but other forms have means where individuals can reasonably expect to change the system.



On the seperate note of carved exceptions: I'm having extreme trouble rectifying your statements that no man is above the law and conceding that some men are above the law. Before I can present anything in good faith I have to ask: Do you simply mean that to act as an enforcer requires a degree of exemption? Is this about law makers? Both? Either/both combined with express exemption?

If you ascribe to the Zero Aggression Principle (or use it as an argument) or any variation thereof, you have just stated that there are proper limits on the use of power and that reasonable human beings can recognize these and abide by them.
The ZAP is not a statement of power.  (An 87 pound 87 year old lady defending herself against a 230 pound 23 year old thug is not a power trip).  You continue to support government.

Governments don't adhere to the ZAP.  Governments rarely consist of reasonable human beings.  (I'd say never, but I've heard unsubstantiated rumors).

You seem to think that governments are sometimes beneficial and the police are there to protect you.  Learn, boy.

I'm sorry, but you are ignorant even if not willfully.
First: Zero-Aggression is a statement of power and its use. The little old lady defending herself is exerting power, but not inititating aggression. These are fundamentally seperate ideas. If she had no power to defend herself, she's unable to defend herself (you may be rather familiar with how this argument actually applies to things like the right to bear arms). If she has the power to defend herself, and uses that power to defend herself...she's defending herself. Non-aggressive use of power (defense and proportionate response) is still use of power.

Second: The basis for your argument rests entirely upon those who enter an enforcement body to exercise power over others to feel powerful or retain power for a group they identify with (race, religion, region, whatever). While this has been a historical problem with many enforcement agencies, particularly factional or regional enforcement created by a larger government, many modern enforcement agencies are moving away from these ideas to varying degrees. I am not naieve enough to believe that all American police agents (much less all enforcement agents) joined up to truly protect and serve, or even continue to do so if that was the initial idea. However I suggest you familiarize yourself with the system, the Academies, modern studies, and actually talk to individuals before committing libel and slander that amounts to classism. If you've got individual [or regional] complaints, I suggest you gripe about the specific officer or division that did you or someone else wrong.

Many of the laws on the books are arbitrary if not outright wrongheaded, many agents (both D.E.A. and pick-your-P.D.) operate wrongheadedly, but personal responsibility and true 'protect and serve' principles are growing and pushing out the conservatively or closed minded you take issue with. You might want to check out things such as community based policing, area policing as a deterrent to violent crime, Academy requirements (especially psych evaluations), the shifts in thinking on everything from how patrols operate to the 'regular beat,' how college ADJ programs (you know, the kinds taught by the liberal minded) are taught and their requirements, and perhaps even talk to people who work within the system. I realize that thinking of anything related to 'The Man' as composed of individuals capable of the very thinking you espouse goes contrary to your preconcieved notions, but if I hadn't questioned my preconcieved notions I'd never have stumbled my way to writing like Sandfort's and learned a few things. You're never too old to learn, 'grandpa', and there's no time like the present. I unabashedly and pointedly suggest Terry cash in the same reality check.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 12:50:39 pm by NemoUtopia »

quadibloc on June 30, 2010, 12:36:53 pm
As I said earlier, Ayn Rand would have allowed her ideal government to initiate force to protect its legal monopoly.  She may have considered that inconsequential, but I don't.
And maybe it isn't.

Since your political beliefs are "far from Libertarian" (whatever that capital-L means), it appears that you support the initiation of force (for some good reason, perhaps "the general welfare").  So, why would the details of libertarian theory concern you?  (Not that I object, I'm just curious, since the details of power politics do not concern me.)
Well, I don't feel my freedom threatened by Libertarians, the way I feel my freedom threatened by Marxists.

My political beliefs favor human freedom. I think that a government which can tax and conscript, but preferably one whose power to initiate force is restricted, say by such things (which you would no doubt esteem as minor and ineffective) as

- a constitutional rule requiring taxes to be "fair" and "equitable" in some sense;
- a supermajority required to initiate conscription, followed by annual referendums to continue it;
- expropriation restricted to purposes of national defense in times of war, or public safety reasons

is about the best we can do.

If I'm wrong, and even "limited government" is an inevitable road to dictatorship, and the only sure way to safeguard freedom is something of the anarcho-capitalist type, I would like to know about it. And if you're wrong, and the dream you're seeking will create a community that can't defend itself, one that will get taken over, either by foreign invaders, or organized crime gangs - then I want you to know about it, too.

Because my core political belief is that freedom is vital, not about how to get freedom.

If you want to come up with a good objection to anarchism, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the common objections that have been refuted and then go on from there.
That's reasonable advice. Of course, it should be noted that not everything that anarchists have refuted to their satisfaction is necessarily refuted to the satisfaction of the other participants in the debate.

I disagree that copyright and patent laws are useful (except to a few people).  I agree that copyrights and patents are grants of monopoly privilege enforced by the power of the state.  But patents and copyrights are a side issue.
The reason I think they're useful is that in their absence, some science fiction stories have things like consumer products that blow themselves up if you try to open them. Patents encourage inventions to be disclosed rather than kept as trade secrets; this accelerates technical progress.

I have speculated at times that the U.S. government should threaten to abolish copyright in music to stop the "big business" of subjecting teenagers to the bad influence of rock and roll.

What would you say to someone who suggested that you join the KKK to make its policies more tolerant or that you join the Mafia to make its policies less murderous?  Assume that you live in an area where the KKK or the Mafia has a lot of power.
Well, the KKK and the Mafia have consistent policies, while different political parties, each with their own platform, run for Congress.

So I'm not sure your example corresponds well to what I'm suggesting.

You're right that my natural inclination would be to reject that notion, as you do. But, on the other hand, in a comparable situation, I would think about it in a different way.

What about someone in China joining the Communist Party of China to influence its policies subtly in the direction of reform?

Living in an area of the United States where the KKK or the Mafia has a lot of power, yet is not the government, still leaves me with the alternative of joining the FBI. Living in mainland China, where the Communist Party of China holds absolute power, on the other hand, might make that a legitimate strategy.

Brugle on June 30, 2010, 03:07:39 pm
My political beliefs favor human freedom. I think that a government which can tax and conscript, but preferably one whose power to initiate force is restricted, say by such things (which you would no doubt esteem as minor and ineffective) as

- a constitutional rule requiring taxes to be "fair" and "equitable" in some sense;
- a supermajority required to initiate conscription, followed by annual referendums to continue it;
- expropriation restricted to purposes of national defense in times of war, or public safety reasons

is about the best we can do.
You can probably guess what I'd say to that, something about the freedom enjoyed by a person who has had all of her possessions taken for public safety and has been enslaved by a supermajority vote.  I can imagine what you might respond to that, and so on.  My guess is that neither of us would learn anything.  So, if you don't mind, I'll stop here.

Thanks for your honesty.

What would you say to someone who suggested that you join the KKK to make its policies more tolerant or that you join the Mafia to make its policies less murderous?  Assume that you live in an area where the KKK or the Mafia has a lot of power.
Well, the KKK and the Mafia have consistent policies, while different political parties, each with their own platform, run for Congress.
Sorry, I wasn't clear.  I didn't mean that the KKK or Mafia is a good analogy for a government, although if you want to treat it like one, I don't think your objection is valid.  I'm no expert on either the KKK or the Mafia, but I think that both frequently had factions vying for control of all or part of the organization, and the policies of both changed significantly over the years.

All I was doing was asking a question in response to your idea that anarchists might join the government:
electing a slate of candidates for a party of anarcho-capitalists
What would you say to someone who suggested that you join the KKK to make its policies more tolerant or that you join the Mafia to make its policies less murderous?  Assume that you live in an area where the KKK or the Mafia has a lot of power.
What I expected was for you to answer something like "I would not do that, because REASON1 and REASON2".  Then (if my clever plan had worked), I would point out that REASON1 and REASON2 are among the reasons that anarchists would not join the government.

You foiled me by not giving any reasons.  Curses!
« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 03:14:49 pm by Brugle »

quadibloc on June 30, 2010, 08:03:36 pm
What I expected was for you to answer something like "I would not do that, because REASON1 and REASON2".  Then (if my clever plan had worked), I would point out that REASON1 and REASON2 are among the reasons that anarchists would not join the government.

You foiled me by not giving any reasons.  Curses!
Yes; my reaction was that this wasn't similar enough to the situation of anarchists joining the government; the KKK and the Mafia, each one having its own goals, were more like individual political parties than the government itself. I wasn't telling anarchists to join the Republican Party.

So, while I could say that I found the KKK and/or the Mafia repugnant, and you could counter that you found the government repugnant, I felt the question wasn't quite a fair one. But I still tried to answer it anyways - by saying that I wouldn't join those organizations, even where they "had a lot of power", because I would have other choices - and I didn't think that reason applied to the government. (as a way to effect change without open conflict).

But when there is no other choice of that kind (the choice of resistance instead is still open, and what I would expect is for different people to make different choices based on what they thought they could do best) then joining something even worse than the KKK or the Mafia, if it holds complete power, is a legitimate option.

As it happens, I was thinking in that kind of direction from having recently added another book to my collection of books about Tibet.

 

anything