Sunday, 16 January 2011

Words Against A Despotic Ethics

"It [the State] is not democratically elected, politicians and political parties are elected to administer its functions. The "legitimacy" claimed on behalf of the U.S. Federal Government at its' creation was that its purpose was to further assist the thirteen colonies in safeguarding the rights of the individual. Since private property is one of those rights, gun control laws are a violation of the Federal Government's stated purpose.

A further argument claimed for the "legitimacy" of the democratic State turns on whether it has voluntary consent - yet at the most recent Congressional elections only 29% of Americans consented to be governed. For the other 71% of the population, that voluntary consent is absent.

The premise that any law a democratic State may pass is necessarily legitimate, and therefore that its enforcement is retaliatory rather than coercive is not only false but more characteristic of a totalitarian than a liberal politics.

You are in favour of principally unlimited government - the tyranny of the majority which de Tocqueville warned about and Orwell wrote against a century later. My life does not belong to you and your mates and it never will. Fuck you."
That's me, bringing to close a frustrating discussion with a democratic totalitarian - the kind of whom de Tocqueville wrote:
"'The will of the nation' is one of those expressions which have been most profusely abused by the wily and the despotic of every age."


  1. Ah, yes, the old "Myth of Democracy" and the "Myth of the Consent of the Governed": If not a single person went to the polls because every single individual desired an end to the state, the state would not simply cease to function but would, instead, justify its continued existence "for our own good."

  2. Right. You know, Nathan, I'm quite prepared to tolerate someone who argues for the necessity of State coercion on consequentialist grounds because that can still be combined with an ethics recognizing the rights of the individual; reasonable discussion is still possible with someone like that and I held the door open for him in that direction several times. He never took it.

    I simply cannot abide anyone who takes that Orwellian line that State coercion is not coercion simply because it is sanctioned by legislation - boiling away underneath that is the collectivist ethical premise, what you see in a far more advanced form in China. It's exactly the place where evil begins - in divesting oneself of responsibility and investing it in external "authorities", who are then in a position to begin to author crucial ethical decisions in one's stead.

  3. I understand, Michael. I used to be a Libertarian. I just ran out of reasons.

  4. You ran out of reasons for being a libertarian? What do you mean?

  5. Libertarians are still, at least in my estimation, statists. I gave up on minarchism because it was . . . minarchist. I ran out of reasons to believe the state, in any size, shape, or form, is necessary--or legitimate.

    Of course, due to my studies, interests, and profession, I must still deal with the state. I'm not an activist, just a disillusioned observer.

    Perhaps it's because of my understanding of (American) libertarianism (in its current sense). I'd say Libertarianism with a capital "L" probably would be the closest thing to any statist idea I could possibly accept, but I still don't accept it (at least not anymore).

  6. Well there are some difficult questions concerning the nature of law for the An-Cap position to answer; it is one thing to refer to the possible efficiencies of carefully privatizing law enforcement agencies, or privatizing the courts, but then what is there to prevent Court A from ruling on different principles (e.g. in which individualist rights are not recognized) from Court B? Once that possibility is admitted, then there would seem to be a potential threat to the meta-stability of the society, unless either (a) some over-arching authority is brought back to oversee the stipulation to one set of principles (so return to minarchy), or (b) the entrenchment of individualist ethics within the culture is presupposed to be so strong as to render the possibility of a court ruling on non-individualist principles unlikely enough to be discounted as a threat.

    Answering the minarchy-anarchy question is not easy since it presupposes answers to super-ordinate and necessarily hypothetical questions about culture, ethics and psychology. At any rate it isn't obvious to me what, if any, practical significance the minarchy-anarchy question has in relation to any attempt in our current circumstances to act for our own freedom and to envisage ways and means of persuading others to do so too.

    I am animated more by trying to win the necessary ethical arguments, emphasizing strategic priorities and trying to imagine answers to the tactical questions of how to replace or obviate the demand for particular functions of State control.

  7. You're obviously more of the philosopher than I am, but I will make a simple point, and that is that to me, the word "law," be it natural law, God-given law, law of the sword, rule of law--all of these terms are essentially manmade and man-manipulated. God was created by man. Nature is a perception of those things around us and, therefore, subjective views of an objective reality, and the law of the sword is merely subduing some form of chaos by force. (Excuse the simplicity.)

    The rule of law is made and manipulated by self-interested individuals (you've read, I'm sure, both the Federalist and Anti-federalist writings from the late 18th century). There's nothing objective about the rule of law or law in general.

    I'm an anti-political observer of politics myself. More of an analyst and a historian, an individualist to the core, someone who was born in a democracy but no longer votes, and takes more of a George Carlin view on the human being and his surroundings than an An-cap (or, as I prefer to call it, a Free-market Anarchist). But to make things easier, I suppose the closest thing I could be considered politically would be an An-cap, but one who as a realist accepts the existence of the state and of politics if only as an object upon which to direct his wrath. I haven't quite figured that part out yet, and I'm not quite sure whether it matters to try, since even though I hate it, I smack my head against the state every day, much to my chagrin.

  8. That, and probably also the fact that American Libertarians are essentially the eunuchs of Republicans.


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