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In Defense of Rational Anarchism
    #2702521 - 05/19/04 08:00 PM (14 years, 7 days ago)

In Defense of Rational Anarchism

"...Sovereign power, in this view, must be absolute (i.e., unconditional), because by definition there is no higher authority than the sovereign himself. The sovereign is therefore above the law, not under it, which means that there can exist no rights of resistance and revolution by the people. To advocate a "divided sovereignty," according to Filmer, Hobbes and other absolutists, is to advocate anarchy.

I cannot go into the various ways that Locke and other minarchists tried to get around this logic of sovereignty argument, but I think the absolutists had the stronger philosophical case. Either a government has sovereign power, or it doesn't. Either a government has the final authority to render and execute legal decisions, or it doesn't. Sovereignty is an all-or-nothing affair. And if this is true, then no person has a right to resist the sovereign, however unjust his actions may appear. For who is to decide whether a law is unjust, if not the sovereign himself? Who is to decide whether a right has been violated, if not a sovereign government in its role as final arbiter?

In any dispute between a sovereign government and its subjects, the government itself must decide who is right; and, as Locke suggested, the sovereign, like everyone else, is likely to be biased in his own favor.. I would therefore like to know how those Objectivists who use the logic of sovereignty argument as a weapon against anarchism can avoid sliding down the slippery slope into absolutism.

If I am arrested for smoking pot or for reading a prohibited book (say, Atlas Shrugged) do I have a right forcibly to resist my incarceration?

If you say "no," then you are defending absolutism. If you say "yes," then what happened to the sovereign power of government to render final decisions in matters of law? - for in resisting the government I am clearly acting as judge in my own case.

Ayn Rand somewhere says that a government becomes tyrannical when it attempts to suppress freedom of speech and press, but who is to decide when this line has been crossed, if not the sovereign government? Surely we can't have crazy people like Ayn Rand running around condemning some laws as unjust and calling for disobedience, because this will lead to anarchy. We cannot preach sovereignty when it suits our purpose, and then oppose it when we don't like particular laws, for this undermines the rationale of sovereignty itself - i.e., that legal matters cannot be left to the discretion of individuals. The doctrine of natural rights, as foes of consent theory repeatedly pointed out, is inherently anarchistic. Burke called natural rights "a digest of anarchy," while Bentham castigated them as "anarchical fallacies."

If at any point Objectivists are willing to admit that individuals have the right to resist an unjust law or overthrow a despotic government, then they are conceding the basic premise of anarchism: namely, that true sovereignty resides in each individual, who has the right to assess the justice of a particular law, procedure or government...."


Edited by mushmaster (05/19/04 08:06 PM)

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Re: In Defense of Rational Anarchism [Re: ]
    #2709446 - 05/21/04 02:41 AM (14 years, 5 days ago)

good post.
If you when you think anarchism you think 'stupid' you should do some more reading on it.
That said im not sure its a true solution. Maybe.

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Re: In Defense of Rational Anarchism [Re: ]
    #2710121 - 05/21/04 08:22 AM (14 years, 5 days ago)


But I do think we can effectively combat statism with the right intellectual ammunition, and this includes the total repudiation of political sovereignty in favor of individual rights and voluntary institutions.

Firstly there are no such thing as natural rights. They just sound better than demands which is what the guy is actually talking about when he refers to natural rights.

Secondly, Ive yet to see a convincing arguement that voluntary taxation would raise enough funds to cover the requirements of a complex society.
i.e building the streets we walk on, some form of defense, caring for those who cant care for themselves, education, law enforcement, funding research, emergency services, a minimum of rudimentary heathcare, etc.

Can anyone show me some projections and figures of how much all this costs now, how much of that is wastage and could be taken off the cost and then show me how and how much they can predict would be raised by voluntary taxation?

Always Smi2le

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Re: In Defense of Rational Anarchism [Re: ]
    #2710335 - 05/21/04 10:28 AM (14 years, 5 days ago)

Do read http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bakunin/rousseau.html - an excellent essay by Bakunin on the Social Contract and Rousseau's theory of the State if you are interested in Anarchism...



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Re: In Defense of Rational Anarchism [Re: GazzBut]
    #2710920 - 05/21/04 01:58 PM (14 years, 5 days ago)


Ive yet to see a convincing arguement that voluntary taxation would raise enough funds to cover the requirements of a complex society.

Hmmmm, eternal happiness for a dollar....I think I'd be happier with the dollar.
--Mr. Burns

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Re: In Defense of Rational Anarchism [Re: ]
    #2712645 - 05/21/04 09:13 PM (14 years, 5 days ago)

i was hoping to ellicit more responses from the minarchist libertarians. i liked the whole article, but i found the part on natural rights and sovereignty most interesting...

isn't there a problem here?

who is the final arbiter in matters of law?

if it is the individual, is that not anarchy? if it is the state, what room does that leave for natural rights?

our resident objectivist has been missing for a few days... i wonder what he'll have to say on this one when he gets back.

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Re: In Defense of Rational Anarchism [Re: ]
    #2712727 - 05/21/04 09:40 PM (14 years, 4 days ago)

the getting arrested for pot possession example is a good one i think.

if you forcefully (perhaps killing the arresting officer let's say) resist your arrest for marijuana possession, is this justified?

i think i asked this same question a while back and the discussion went nowhere.

if you are a sovereign individual with 'natural' individual rights, how can it not be justified for you to forcefully defend yourself against a forceful transgression?

but then... who decides when rights are being violated and forceful resistance is justified? the individual in question? isn't that anarchy? where does it leave the state? surely no longer as the final judge in matters of law. what use is it then?

if it is not justified to resist, why not? that must mean that the state has some special authority, doesn't it?

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Re: In Defense of Rational Anarchism [Re: ]
    #2712846 - 05/21/04 10:22 PM (14 years, 4 days ago)

This is an interesting train of thought. I'll give it shot and then we can poke holes in it.

I wouldn't say the state had sovereignty, but popular sovereignty. In order to be able to enforce a uniform system of law, a state must be granted the authority to intervene.

Once this power has been granted, the individual no longer has sovereignty and therefore cannot justifibly forcibly defend what he interprets as transgression.

But then, when and how do the people revoke this status from the state?

The popular sovereignty that the state enjoys though is under implied contract. It is granted to the state, though under control of elected representatives of the individuals. When enough people believe their rights are being violated the representatives should change laws. If they aren't, then we elect ones that will.

Where the hell is pinksharkmark anyway?

I keep it real because I think it is important that a highly esteemed individual such as myself keep it real lest they experience the dreaded spontaneous non-existance of no longer keeping it real. - Hagbard Celine

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Re: In Defense of Rational Anarchism [Re: HagbardCeline]
    #2715050 - 05/22/04 05:33 PM (14 years, 4 days ago)

The success of any form of government or social system is dependant upon the people. Many middle eastern countries are better suited to theocracies. Various european countries function well as socialistic nations. The United States has embraced it's representative democracy and has made it work and last for well over 200 years.

Democracy, anarchy, socialism, communism, or any government or system each have different pros and cons and none is the absolute final solution to the entire world.

Happiness is a warm gun...

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