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OfflineAncalagon
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Registered: 07/30/02
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Justify the State..
    #4694441 - 09/22/05 11:13 AM (11 years, 2 months ago)

For a long time I tried to resist the temptations of anarchy, and on pragmatic grounds I still might -- I can no longer, however, justify to myself the existence of the state apparatus. Perhaps I've read one too many biased pieces, listened to one too many biased lectures, thought one too many biased thoughts, etc; but the existence of a government no longer seems to have any moral authority to me whatsoever. Interested in hearing what some of you feel the moral justification of the state to be.

In an effort to save us some time, I'll give us something of a starting point: let's assume several isolated, subsistence farms, in a given geographic area that no current government lays claim to. Let's further assume that the people living on these farms have, of late, been subject to attack by some band of thieves. After yet another devestating attack, a meeting is called and a large number of the farmers show up. At this meeting it is agreed to that a full-time militia will be formed with the express purpose of defending the territory -- as people who were previously subsistence farmers will now be focusing soley on defense, the people that they are protecting will need to contribute to the livelyhood of the protectors and their families. A motion is introduced that each farmer should set aside 1/16th of his monthy crop for the protectors -- while, by and large, this is whole-heartedly endorsed, a lone farmer, an old, stubborn man, announces his refusal to support this. While he has been subject to thieves the same as the rest, they have been perhaps less severe and for him to tithe 1/16th of his crop would be worse than what is currently taken from the thieves. The position of the state (the mass of farmers) now is that this man will be free-riding! Without even paying he will be accorded the same protections as someone who is (let us assume he is directly in the middle of the geographical area and thus it is impossible for protection NOT to be accorded to his house alone). The free-rider problem is one of the primary justifications for the state -- anyone who gives it some thought, though, must surely realize that this is circular logic, it is no justification at all. Essentially what is being said is that, the state is justified to do what states do (employ coercion) because, if it is not, then people will free-ride. But this is crazy -- in this argument you must assume that the state is justified in order to justify the state.  :confused:

I'll leave off there, hopefully this will be productive and civil..


--------------------
?When Alexander the Great visted the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: 'Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.' It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.?
-Henry Hazlitt in 'Economics in One Lesson'


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OfflineRedstorm
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Ancalagon]
    #4694471 - 09/22/05 11:23 AM (11 years, 2 months ago)

I see the free-riding (or coercion to stop it) under the state better than the alternative under anarchism. With no state, each individual farmer would have no relief from the theft.

I believe a state has to exist (thought kept minimal) for reasons such as this. In anarchy, every man has unlimited freedom to do what he pleases to gain what he needs (or wants). This may include doing harm to someone or taking their property without compensating the person. To guard against this, a state (or at least a small commonwealth of people) needs to be formed to protect against intrusions.

I'm not sure if that addresses what your original situation, but I gave it a whirl.


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InvisibleRandalFlagg
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Ancalagon]
    #4694693 - 09/22/05 12:46 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

Ancalagon said:
For a long time I tried to resist the temptations of anarchy, and on pragmatic grounds I still might -- I can no longer, however, justify to myself the existence of the state apparatus.

Interested in hearing what some of you feel the moral justification of the state to be.





Is there a moral justification for the state? No. However, it is a practical and natural thing. A state is more natural and more likely to arise and be sustained than anarchy. A state sets up a legal and social framework for a group of people and this makes things less chaotic and unpredictable. Will the state be corrupted over time? Of course. Will the state eventually fall apart? Of course. It is the nature of humankind to pervert and destroy what we make because of our individual and collective whims.

What is a person to do when they find themselves a citizen of a state that is doing things that they disagree with? Do they leave and go to a state that is more amenable to their beliefs? Do they stay, subjugate themselves to the state, and forego their personal desires and inclinations? Or do they stay and quietly defy the government?

Life is all about choices. I wish things were different in America. I will vote and do what I can to change things. Am I actually going to have much of an impact? Probably not. Will this country ever revert to the basic tenets of the Constitution? Probably not. So, I will live a life of cynical and quiet desperation when it comes to political matters. After all, the state is much more powerful than I am.


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Offlinephi1618
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Ancalagon]
    #4694802 - 09/22/05 01:20 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Moral codes vary. By your moral code, there is no moral justification for the state.

This doens't much matter, though, because people are immoral. Bosses and other parasites are inherent to the social organism of humanity.

In so far as we can engineer the shrinking of the state, we should - but, we need to make sure it isn't replaced by a different, worse state.


As long as there has been civilization, there have been governments. The vast majority of these governments were (and are) run by and for a small number of people at the expense of the subjugated majority.


Should governments build roads? Maybe not. But for us it is better that the state take our money (immorally, and by force) to build roads than to build palaces.


If the state were abolished today - if every buerocrat and every soldier were suddenly unemployed, who and what would step into the gap?



I believe we should do what we can as individuals to incrementally diminish the influence of the federal government.


However, I'm a hippocrite. I believe that it is a greater wrong for people to do what they frequently do (through clumsy development and sloppy industry) to the land and our environment (of which we are a part) than for me to use the state to try to stop them. And of course, this is the mechanism by which our state has grown - individuals use the state to accomplish private goals.


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OfflineRedstorm
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: RandalFlagg]
    #4694877 - 09/22/05 01:34 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

It's funny you use the word "natural" to describe gov't b/c anarchy is often called a "state of nature". Just an interesting note.


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Ancalagon]
    #4695190 - 09/22/05 02:57 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Your example (the well-known "free rider" objection) is not a reason for invalidating the concept of a legitimate State. It is instead an acknowledgement that the funding for the operations of a legitimate State can at times be challenging. Not the same thing at all.




Phred


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InvisibleRandalFlagg
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Redstorm]
    #4695539 - 09/22/05 04:24 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

Redstorm said:
It's funny you use the word "natural" to describe gov't b/c anarchy is often called a "state of nature". Just an interesting note.




I think it is more natural for men to band together and to make rules than it is for them to live in any form of anarchy. Anarchy may be the basis for the idea of the "state of nature", but Man's natural inclination is to make order and hierarchies.


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Ancalagon]
    #4695851 - 09/22/05 05:37 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

The idea of a private, voluntarily funded police force is rather unique to anarcho-capitalism. More left-wing schools of anarchist thought reject the idea of designating a separate private authority to employ force behalf of their protection. Instead, they say it should be up to the community itself to look out for the well-being its members(vigilantism, in other words). This, I would say, further refutes the notion of the state as being justified on the grounds of protecting the people from aggressors, though I am skeptical of whether this would work against an invading army as opposed to lone criminals.

I see the state as being basically justified on three grounds:

1. It has proven effective at meeting the needs of modern society, particularly when it comes to infrastructure like roads, plumbing, power lines, etc.(I don't buy the libertarian arguments about how these could be better handled by the market), whereas no anarchist society has ever thrived in anything remotely resembling modernity, so there is no way of knowing if it could work, and the costs would be high if it didn't.

2. A certain amount of authority and coercion is necessary to prevent greater tyrannies from taking over.

3. Without some sort of legal framework, there is greater potential for abuse when justice is left in the hands of mob rule.


I'd say that all of these points are debatable, but that is essentially my justification for the state as things stand now. I definitely have a soft spot for anarchism, and I would love to see it work, but the realist in me tells me that for now the best we can do is learn from anarchist ideas and apply them to state society.


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


Edited by Paradigm (09/22/05 05:56 PM)


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: RandalFlagg]
    #4695923 - 09/22/05 05:52 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

RandalFlagg said:
I think it is more natural for men to band together and to make rules than it is for them to live in any form of anarchy.



What you just described is anarchy. Anarchy is not the absense of rules. It is the absense of authority, hierarchy, and coercion, and it was the state of affairs for most of human existence.

Quote:

Anarchy may be the basis for the idea of the "state of nature", but Man's natural inclination is to make order and hierarchies.



Among the !Kung(otherwise known as bushmen) tribe in southern Africa, the elders are valued more highly for their wisdom, but no one holds any true authority. It is similar among many other hunter-gatherer tribes, and we can reasonably infer that pre-agricultural human society was much the same. Even after the advent of agriculture around 8000 BCE, the establishment of state society was not seen for about 4.5 thousands years, around 3500 BCE. The state and civilization as we know it has been with us for less than 4 thousand years, out of about 400 thousand years that humans have been around(not even counting our hominid ancestors). It seems odd that something that has been with us for less than 1% of our existence could be "natural."


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


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OfflineRedstorm
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Silversoul]
    #4695985 - 09/22/05 06:05 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

Paradigm said:
Quote:

RandalFlagg said:
I think it is more natural for men to band together and to make rules than it is for them to live in any form of anarchy.



What you just described is anarchy. Anarchy is not the absense of rules. It is the absense of authority, hierarchy, and coercion, and it was the state of affairs for most of human existence.





By forming rules in a society, doesn't that create a form of coercion?

In real anarchy, people have absolute freedom to do as they wish, since there is an absolute lack of coercion.


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OfflineJesusChrist
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Redstorm]
    #4696269 - 09/22/05 07:02 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

I am for limited government, but I am for government. I think we need law and order and infrastructure, and those things aren't free.

If you want anarchy, it is alive and well in the world today. Many third world nations lack the ability to police themselves outside of one or two major metropolitian areas. You can have your pick of downtrodden third world nations, and just leave the city and go out to the glorious countryside and stake your claim. You may think your idea has an ideological beauty to it in theory, in practice you would most likely be fucked.

And let that farmer fend for himself. Then some of my buddies and I will ride out there one night and string him up and take his daughters. We will also get a free farm. All that work and all that pussy will be all for me. It only takes so much stealing, killing and raping of your wives and daughters to convince people that some sort of authority and law and order is a good idea.

Growing up I always wondered why people would live as serfs to Knights and Dukes and Kings. But those people probably got something very valuable, and that is protection. People will sacrifice a lot for safety of themselves and their loved ones. It is all about the trade offs.

Cue in that Winston Churchill quote about Democracy being the worst system of government, except all the others that have been tried. The lesser of two evils may still be evil, but in the end you take what you can get in a practical accomidation of reality.


--------------------
Tastes just like chicken


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OfflineRedstorm
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: JesusChrist]
    #4696278 - 09/22/05 07:04 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

JesusChrist said:
I am for limited government, but I am for government.  I think we need law and order and infrastructure, and those things aren't free.

If you want anarchy, it is alive and well in the world today.  Many third world nations lack the ability to police themselves outside of one or two major metropolitian areas.  You can have your pick of downtrodden third world nations, and just leave the city and go out to the glorious countryside and stake your claim.  You may think your idea has an ideological beauty to it in theory, in practice you would most likely be fucked.

And let that farmer fend for himself.  Then some of my buddies and I will ride out there one night and string him up and take his daughters.  We will also get a free farm.  All that work and all that pussy will be all for me.  It only takes so much stealing, killing and raping of your wives and daughters to convince people that some sort of authority and law and order is a good idea.

Growing up I always wondered why people would live as serfs to Knights and Dukes and Kings.  But those people probably got something very valuable, and that is protection.  People will sacrifice a lot for safety of themselves and their loved ones.  It is all about the trade offs.

Cue in that Winston Churchill quote about Democracy being the worst system of government, except all the others that have been tried.  The lesser of two evils may still be evil, but in the end you take what you can get in a practical accomidation of reality.




:thumbup: Exactly.


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InvisibleRandalFlagg
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Silversoul]
    #4696964 - 09/22/05 09:14 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

Paradigm said:
Quote:

RandalFlagg said:
I think it is more natural for men to band together and to make rules than it is for them to live in any form of anarchy.




What you just described is anarchy. Anarchy is not the absense of rules. It is the absense of authority, hierarchy, and coercion, and it was the state of affairs for most of human existence.




You misunderstand me. I think that a small group that creates a simple framework for law and behavior and a large state that has a complicated bureaucracy is the same concept; it is still men banding together to create a hierarchy and a social system. Whether it is big or small, simple or complicated, it is still men agreeing to an order and participating in it.

Small anarchist communes based on loose rules and little authority might have been possible when there were a few thousand human beings on the earth, but it isn't possible now.

Quote:

Paradigm said:
Quote:

Randalflagg said:
Anarchy may be the basis for the idea of the "state of nature", but Man's natural inclination is to make order and hierarchies.




The state and civilization as we know it has been with us for less than 4 thousand years, out of about 400 thousand years that humans have been around(not even counting our hominid ancestors). It seems odd that something that has been with us for less than 1% of our existence could be "natural."




The modern state as we know it may not be natural, but the inclination for Man to create hierarchy, status, and an order is. Anytime these things are instituted in a group, that constitutes a government to me.

I don't base my opinions on what Man naturally inclines toward on some flowery egalitarian model of the "noble savage". I look at the world today and what I see is tribalism, hierarchy, authority, and systematic bureacracy in people's behavior.


Edited by RandalFlagg (09/22/05 09:37 PM)


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OfflineAncalagon
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Redstorm]
    #4697001 - 09/22/05 09:20 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

I see the free-riding (or coercion to stop it) under the state better than the alternative under anarchism.



I specifically mentioned that I have not accepted anarchy over minarchy on a pragmatic basis, just that I can't see any moral justification for the state.

Quote:

To guard against this, a state (or at least a small commonwealth of people) needs to be formed to protect against intrusions.



And so, in the old farmer's case, theft would be replaced with theft -- the question is, why is this group of farmers MORALLY JUSTIFIED in stealing whereas the thieves in the example are not?


--------------------
?When Alexander the Great visted the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: 'Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.' It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.?
-Henry Hazlitt in 'Economics in One Lesson'


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OfflineAncalagon
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Phred]
    #4697015 - 09/22/05 09:22 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

Phred said:
Your example (the well-known "free rider" objection) is not a reason for invalidating the concept of a legitimate State. It is instead an acknowledgement that the funding for the operations of a legitimate State can at times be challenging. Not the same thing at all.




Phred



I specifically said that my example was a starting point and not an all-encompassing refutation of every moral justification for the state that's ever been presented. I ask again, then, how is the state morally justified in doing what states do (employ coercion)?


--------------------
?When Alexander the Great visted the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: 'Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.' It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.?
-Henry Hazlitt in 'Economics in One Lesson'


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OfflineRedstorm
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Ancalagon]
    #4697016 - 09/22/05 09:22 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

In my opinion, I don't think it has a thing to do with morality. Morality is subjective and should not be a determining factor in deciding what is necessary.


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OfflineAncalagon
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Silversoul]
    #4697059 - 09/22/05 09:28 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:


1. It has proven effective at meeting the needs of modern society, particularly when it comes to infrastructure like roads, plumbing, power lines, etc.(I don't buy the libertarian arguments about how these could be better handled by the market), whereas no anarchist society has ever thrived in anything remotely resembling modernity, so there is no way of knowing if it could work, and the costs would be high if it didn't.

2. A certain amount of authority and coercion is necessary to prevent greater tyrannies from taking over.

3. Without some sort of legal framework, there is greater potential for abuse when justice is left in the hands of mob rule.


I'd say that all of these points are debatable, but that is essentially my justification for the state as things stand now. I definitely have a soft spot for anarchism, and I would love to see it work, but the realist in me tells me that for now the best we can do is learn from anarchist ideas and apply them to state society.



I'm in much the same spot as you though perhaps with more of an anarchist inclination now than before. I just always took for granted that the state was, in some sense, morally justified (that is a good state that secured rights and nothing else).


--------------------
?When Alexander the Great visted the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: 'Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.' It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.?
-Henry Hazlitt in 'Economics in One Lesson'


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OfflineAncalagon
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Redstorm]
    #4697069 - 09/22/05 09:30 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:



By forming rules in a society, doesn't that create a form of coercion?



Just want to throw out that there are ways of punishing people for actions without coercion -- a voluntary economic boycot for instance.


--------------------
?When Alexander the Great visted the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: 'Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.' It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.?
-Henry Hazlitt in 'Economics in One Lesson'


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OfflineRedstorm
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Ancalagon]
    #4697078 - 09/22/05 09:33 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

Yes, but let's say someone doesn't want to take part in the boycott? Then what happens?


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Invisiblelooner2
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Re: Justify the State.. [Re: Ancalagon]
    #4697085 - 09/22/05 09:34 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

For a long time I tried to resist the temptations of anarchy, and on pragmatic grounds I still might -- I can no longer, however, justify to myself the existence of the state apparatus. Perhaps I've read one too many biased pieces, listened to one too many biased lectures, thought one too many biased thoughts, etc; but the existence of a government no longer seems to have any moral authority to me whatsoever. Interested in hearing what some of you feel the moral justification of the state to be.

I'd have no desire to justify the state on moral grounds. It is justified on pragmatic grounds, that is of course if we are looking at the world, as is.


--------------------
I am in love with Acidic_Sloth



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