Objectivist Anarchists: Can There Be Such A Thing?

Wayne Simmons's picture
Submitted by Wayne Simmons on Fri, 2006-07-21 05:15

There is a new convert to Anarchism who seems to be very popular among Anarcho-Capitalists. His name is Stefan Molyneux. The host of Freedomain Radio and a regular contributor to LewRockwell.com, Stefan is an old friend of mine. We lost touch with each-other about 10 years ago. I remember the days when Stefan and I would discuss Anarcho-Capitalism. He would say that Anarcho-Capitalists should stick to writing science fiction because their theories aren't grounded in the real world. Stefan also stressed the need for philosophical change prior to politics. At the time, Stefan, was a consistent advocate of Objectivism. How times have changed. Within the last 2 years he has divorced his political theories from reality and converted to Anarchism. Yet, it appears from his podcasts that Stefan still clings to his Objectivist roots.

Stefan is an incredibly talented writer and intelligent speaker. On his podcasts, in terms of his breadth of knowledge, he reminds me of George H Smith. And, like George H Smith, Stefan he has a tendency towards rationalism - as do all anarchists.

Anarchists such as Stefan Molyneux - and presumably George H Smith - who claim that Anarchy is the logical outcome of Objectivism face the following impossible dilemma:

If they're loyal to Objectivism they must accept that facts about man's nature have normative consequences. If the distinguishing characteristic of man is his rational faculty then the social consequences are that man should be left free to exercise his rational judgment in the pursuit of his own happiness. Rights are a moral concept derived from our nature. They're social requirements for our existence. The individual's (natural) right to life, liberty and property needs Constitutional protection. As a result, Government and society are subordinated to moral (objective) law.

Now, if these so-called Objectivists are loyal to Anarchy they'd have to evade the knowledge they've already sworn allegiance to as discussed above. Anarchists, on the other hand, believe that there should be a market in the use of force without a final arbiter (Government) to rectify disputes. Justice would be impossible when you can opt out of any judicial decision. How are natural rights - and the rule of law - to be protected when there's no constitutional protection of natural rights? And, whose version of rights has the final authority when the decision is left up to the market place? One way around this is that Anarcho-Capitalists (supposing they actually believe in natural rights) could have their protection agencies force other non-liberty friendly protection agencies out of business. This is, of course, a contradiction because they would then be acting like a de facto Government. Since this is not desired, a consistent Anarchist would have to accept the arbitrary subjective decisions of the market place and strive for shared common opinion to implement their version of anarchy. Enter social chaos and civil war. Left anarchists. Right anarchists(Friedman vs Rothbard). Environmentalists. Islamic extremists. Christian extremists. Welfare/Corporate statists, et al, would all be fighting among themselves for "shared common opinion."

So it's either-or. Objectivist Anarchists cannot exist! Either they remain loyal to their Objectivist premises, or they don't. The claim you can support both is a contradiction.


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This thread is ancient.

Aaron's picture

This thread is ancient. There's a good chance you're now trying to argue with people no longer even on SOLO.

Aaron

Wayne

sharon's picture

 

The Anarchists here claim to believe in individual rights. But, Anarcho-Capitalists couldn't even enforce their own rights theory because no one would have to agree to it. Like dogs chasing their own tail.

Do your still think this?

 

 

    If both sides

sharon's picture

 

 

If both sides believe the other is dead wrong
- without a final arbiter - why would either side back down and allow an injustice to occur? And, why should either side accept the decisions of the agreed upon court? Whose going to enforce the decision?

Wayne, your thread was posted sometime ago. Are you aware of the DRO system? Have you looked into it?

 

Holiday Greetings

jriggenbach's picture

L. W. writes:

"At this rate you're never going to get any Christmas Cards."

Not from Fraud Weiss and his admirers, no.

JR

Damn, JR

LWHALL's picture

At this rate you're never going to get any Christmas Cards.

JR . . .

Lindsay Blair's picture

"Whaddya say?"

I'd say "Fuck you, moron", but then I'd have to reveal I had actually read your post.

Oops, too late.

Oh, and Fred Weiss rocks.

I see, Brant.

Lindsay Blair's picture

"But I didn't know if you were a dogmatic Objectivist or not, since you are new here. You're still establishing your SOLO P persona."

Right, I gotcha, Brant. Fair enough I would hope my last post going into detail on that subject might put anyone's worries along those lines to rest about me. I certainly look forward to the day I can write posts here as if I'm speaking to other Objectivists, and not as if I'm speaking to a general audience and have to cater to their context and possible misunderstanding.

"Remember your list to be of anarchists to be totally ignored on all and any subjects? Newton was a religious idiot--and the greatest scientist of all time. Ignore the latter; focus on the former?"

I don't think the comparison is valid, even as I do understand why you say this. I would pretty much ignore a religionist who posted to SOLO and probably many others here would, but if one of the intellectual stature of Newton came on board I'm sure we'd all pay attention whenever he discussed science, while ignoring what he might say about other subjects where his religiosity would mean he's looney. Forgive me for assuming there are no SOLO members of such stature in a given field that one would be silly to ignore what they might say on that subject just because of an error in some other field.

My assumption is that SOLO members are going to be discussing philosophy and with an emphasis on politics. In either of those subjects, I personally believe an anarchist isn't worth listening to whatsoever. However, let's say we had one who was known to be a brilliant musician and wanted to add to my post on King Crimson and the California Guitar Trio. Ok, yes I would pay attention to his musical recommendations, or correcting me on some point to do with music.

I will never, ever use colorful hyperbolae on SOLO again to strongly emphasize a point, 'cause I can see that some people will misunderstand. That wasn't a point I felt I needed to be careful about. Indeed, when I talk about paying attention to "anything" an anarchist would have to say, I mean on the topics of philosophy or politics, not something on which they could be perfectly rational in spite of their anarchism.

That's all for me tonight, Brant, but it was fun to talk. Thanks for trying to understand where I'm coming from.

Cheers,

Lindsay Smiling

And I Used to Think Fred Weiss Was Good!

jriggenbach's picture

"I pointed out that particularly if one is an Objectivist and follows the Objectivist method of validating for one's self why anarchy is wrong using Objectivist method, and one so clearly connects that abstract idea to historical and present facts, along with all the other relevant facts and principles involved, then that is such a solid and real understanding of the truth that anarchy is wrong that it isn't going to be knocked down by anything any anarchist might say to the opposite effect. It's seen with a clarity and certainty which does not leave room for continued skepticism on the matter, and one can certainly go with it and know it's true without ever reading what some rationalist ever put forward which you already know to be false."

"All rational principles and actual facts point to the rejection of anarchy as something as certain and solid and undeniably true as can be. (I think that could be understood well enough even for someone who didn't fully employ Objectivist epistemology in figuring it out.) But if you understand Objectivism for yourself firsthand even at a kind of 'mid-level', then you know with that absolute clarity and certainty Objectivism makes possible that anarchy is wrong, leads to non-freedom and is bad for people."

This is priceless, absolutely priceless.

This chick really has talent!

Have you tried this routine out at the Hollywood Improv, Lindsay? You're somewhere in L.A. and vicinity, aren't you?

Better yet -- if you could record that in a really earnest voice and upload the audio file to this site, I could add a laugh track here in my home studio, and I bet we could sell this for big bucks.

Whaddya say?

JR

Lindsay

eg's picture

But I didn't know if you were a dogmatic Objectivist or not, since you are new here. You're still establishing your SOLO P persona. Remember your list to be of anarchists to be totally ignored on all and any subjects? Newton was a religious idiot--and the greatest scientist of all time. Ignore the latter; focus on the former?

"Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" certainly has enabled me to think better. It's been so long since my first exposure to it that I no longer can remember how ignorant I use to be that way. There are also a lot of other things over the years that have made me a better thinker. The one big thing has been conceptual hierarchies.

You and I are not having a discussion about anarchy. The best theoretical article refuting anarchy I remember was by Jack Wheeler in "The Personalist" over thirty years ago. My attitude is you can't get there from here in any acceptable, desirable way and that if it is achieved it will have no stability and be replaced by a dictatorship. A point Ayn Rand once made.

--Brant

Brant:

Lindsay Blair's picture

"You didn't say anything about "Objectivist epistemology;" you could have meant Objectivist dogma."

I'm not familiar with "Objectivist dogma", Brant. Objectivism isn't dogmatic because it rejects intrincisism and can't be fully understood when approached "dogmatically" at all.

Do you mean a person who for whatever reason accepts Objectivism "dogmatically" in the sense of being an intrinsicist and not thinking through Objectivism for herself and accepting it rationally, but rather taking on Objectivism as a kind of religion putting "faith" in Ayn Rand's say-so? What relevance are such people to myself or anything I'm saying here?

"'Application of rationality' would have made everything clear."

Yes, that would have been clear (though I'm a bit unsure of even that with what I've seen of some SOLO members over the last week) but there was really nothing unclear about what I said either. That is, not if I'm dealing with people who aren't weirdly always looking out for Objectivists to be dogmatists, 'cause that's their default assumption about Objectivists and Objectivism somehow.

As I said upthread, I don't cater to such things when writing on a Web site for Objectivists, because that's silly and unnecessary. Whatever people exist who accept Objectivism as intrinsicist dogma rather than having a first-hand understanding are not my concern and are irrelevant to me.

"Also, How does one need Objectivist epistemology in order to be rational? I thought one needed facts and logic."

In order to be fully and consistently rational Objectivist epistemology is the way to go--isn't that the whole point? I certainly applied rationality to the best of my understanding of how to be rational before learning Objectivism, but what does Objectivism offer a person if not the epistemological principles that elevate one's exercise of rationality to a fuller and more consistent level? Are you saying that Objectivism doesn't have value as regards training one's self to be able to more clearly grasp abstract concepts and how they connect to facts, such that one more solidly sees them to be true? If not, then what's the point of it?

Rejection of anarchy isn't a self-evident axiom. It's an abstract concept that takes a little bit of thinking to fully see (but not much, as I've been saying). But surely one can see that it's true with more clarity armed with Objectivist method?

I don't know why this is being made into such a big deal. I think you've lost sight of the context in which this came up. JR implied that one can't solidly reject anarchy with any degree of confidence if one hasn't read Murray Rothbard. I pointed out that particularly if one is an Objectivist and follows the Objectivist method of validating for one's self why anarchy is wrong using Objectivist method, and one so clearly connects that abstract idea to historical and present facts, along with all the other relevant facts and principles involved, then that is such a solid and real understanding of the truth that anarchy is wrong that it isn't going to be knocked down by anything any anarchist might say to the opposite effect. It's seen with a clarity and certainty which does not leave room for continued skepticism on the matter, and one can certainly go with it and know it's true without ever reading what some rationalist ever put forward which you already know to be false.

Are there many people on SOLO who consider any expression of certainty on a fairly broad philosophical or political point to be a sign of dogmatic intrinsicism? I can understand if we were talking about a narrow application of Objectivist principles to politics, but a basic principle such as the rejection of anarchy?

I'm sorry but if one is an Objectivist this is not a tricky or debatable issue (we're on the thread topic now). All rational principles and actual facts point to the rejection of anarchy as something as certain and solid and undeniably true as can be. (I think that could be understood well enough even for someone who didn't fully employ Objectivist epistemology in figuring it out.) But if you understand Objectivism for yourself firsthand even at a kind of "mid-level", then you know with that absolute clarity and certainty Objectivism makes possible that anarchy is wrong, leads to non-freedom and is bad for people.

So why would there ever be this unwarranted skepticism on that issue and why would certainty on that issue be seen as a sign of intrinsicism? One can certainly grasp the truth of that rationally and first-hand, and especially if one is armed with the Objectivist method of grasping and validating such things. It's as real as "the truck", as Leonard Peikoff would say in "Understanding Objectivism", and it would be bizarre to remain "agnostic" on the issue at that point, or worry that one could have that wrong just because somewhere out there some anarchist has written something to the contrary.

Are we getting anywhere with this? I haven't had to discuss this kind of thing with someone in quite a while.

Are there any really real Objectivists reading this who think the rejection of anarchy is some tricky or debatable application of Objectivism rather than a completely validated principle of Objectivism, which if one remains agnostic on one should consider one's self as not fully in agreement with the philosophy at least as of yet? I think we're solidly on the thread topic here, fortunately.

Lindsay

eg's picture

You didn't say anything about "Objectivist epistemology;" you could have meant Objectivist dogma. You heavily implied a special kind of reason. There is nothing about reason "in the Objectivist sense" that means one is necessarily being rational in any given case. "Application of rationality" would have made everything clear. Also, How does one need Objectivist epistemology in order to be rational? I thought one needed facts and logic.

--Brant

In what way, Brant?

Lindsay Blair's picture

"'Actual applied reason in the Objectivist sense' seems to be analogous to a religious catechism."

In what way is it analogous, Brant? I see no connection between the two unless you misunderstand the phrase.

"In such 'reason' is more about a form or shadow of reason than reason itself."

I don't get this. Do you understand that what I mean by that is exercising your rational faculty in accordance with Objectivist epistemology, as opposed to the methods of thinking that get called "reason" but are fallacious? It is, in that sense a "form" of reasoning, the one that can give you true answers. It's the Objectivist method of discovering what's true that I was referring to, as opposed to some other method some might call "reason". There are plenty of weird and false conceptions of "reason", so specifying "in the Objectivist sense" was just to make that more clear. Certain members of SOLO had prompted me to want to be that specific where normally it wouldn't be necessary. In particular, I meant as opposed to the rationalism of Rothbard and other anarchists.

Does that make it more clear? The point was that when it comes to a fact such as "anarchy is irrational, leads to non-freedom, and is bad for people--absolutely", arriving at the understanding of why that's true by way of the epistemological methods in Objectivism specifically is sufficient to know it fully to be true, and to hold it an open question while you wait forever to be exposed to the next anarchist argument is unwarranted skepticism.

Hopefully you get it now and can see why the meaning of the phrase is in fact the complete opposite of a mindless "religious catechism".

While it's true that some people like the JR character can't see the difference, as revealed by his comparing my post to something a Christian would say about their views, that's their problem, isn't it?

Not seeing the difference between properly applied reason and religious revelation is, IMO, pretty lame and the difference between them is part of an entire over-arching point of Objectivism as a philosophy. I don't know about JR, but I think you know that, Brant, so why post what you did?

Cheers, Brant,

Lindsay

Lindsay B.

User hidden's picture

I appreciate your apology. Thanks.

Kelly

Lindsay

eg's picture

"Actual applied reason in the Objectivist sense" seems to be analogous to a religious catechism. In such "reason" is more about a form or shadow of reason than reason itself.

--Brant

Boaz . . .

Lindsay Blair's picture

"I've met a couple of not-so-young Objectivists in person who questioned my rationality (and intelligence) for disliking "Million Dollar Baby" and arguing that homosexuality doesn't stem from value-choices."

Oh god!

"In this case, I don't think Kelly disagrees with your policy  . . . but I think she had good reason for what she took from your initial post, and for her snarky reaction."

And you know what, I think that too now sitting here several days later re-reading my post to Kelly--an overreaction on my part. Sorry, Kelly, I'll exercise more patience and understanding with you in future.

"The most bizzare floating abstraction possible to a human being would merit a final, total dismissal of that person's brain and his value as an interlocutor!"

Yeah, deliberately colorful writing can be one's downfall when some folks reading will take you very literally. I'll save the deliberately flowery prose for when people around here know me a bit better and where I'm coming from.

"And surely merely imagining (when you're not yet at the stage where you're familiar with all the relevant principles and facts pertaining to the issue) how anarchy -- the way it's presented by Rothbard and others, as something that can coexist with law and consitutionalism -- can be "slightly sensible," doesn't put you on the same plane as people who deny the existence of free will but still manage to condemn the unelect to eternal hellfire (like Augustine). That's the kind of brain that's guilty of the most "bizarre rationalism possible to a human being," no?"

Yeah, I really never meant to imply that about someone still trying to understand the issue, as I said upthread. The "slightly sensible" phrase was intended to refer to those I see who perpetually sit on the fence on this issue well after they are familiar with the relevant principles and facts. Those who will still say on some days, "maybe the anarchists are right--I don't really know for sure.

But you know, on the question of who is guilty of the most bizarre rationalism between a committed anarchist and the religionist like Augustine? I'm inclined to say that's sort of a close call!! Eye

See you 'round, Boaz

Lindsay Smiling

Right again, Dan

Lindsay Blair's picture

I guarantee he will not engage you in any meaningful way.

Well, yeah I see that quite clearly now. That last response to what I posted makes it obvious  that I'm just talking over the guy's head anyway.

This, of course, confirms the practicality of my policy of ignoring anyone who actively advocates that we all live like animals in a condition of anarchy and doesn't know civilization from his ass. I'll endeavor to more consistently adhere to my policy.

I'll enjoy rational discourse with others on SOLO whenever I have time, I'm glad to be here overall.

Cheers, Dan,

Lindsay

Hi Lindsay

Boaz the Boor's picture

I have a healthy respect for you, Boaz, so this means a lot coming from you.

Well, thank you.

I've heard of these self-described Objectivists who would say this and mean it literally, but I've never met one before. I'vc seriously started to question whether there is actually such a person beyond some very, very young person new to Ayn Rand...

I've met a couple of not-so-young Objectivists in person who questioned my rationality (and intelligence) for disliking "Million Dollar Baby" and arguing that homosexuality doesn't stem from value-choices. I don't know that there are many such people, and I agree that you shouldn't have to be constrained by the prospect of being mistaken for one. But if someone reads you in a way that you didn't intend -- and if you think they had good reason for their interpretation, especially as they hadn't met you before -- I think it makes sense to just clarify and move on. In this case, I don't think Kelly disagrees with your policy (which is that if an idea is outright irrational, and you know that someone has the ability and has had ample time to digest it, you're in the right to draw unflattering conclusions about that person's mind), but I think she had good reason for what she took from your initial post, and for her snarky reaction.

I don't, however, see what's wrong with the rest of what you quoted: "There is no way in hell you can imagine anarchy as even slightly sensible without engaging in the most bizarre floating rationalism disconnected from reality possible to a human being."

The most bizzare floating abstraction possible to a human being would merit a final, total dismissal of that person's brain and his value as an interlocutor! And surely merely imagining (when you're not yet at the stage where you're familiar with all the relevant principles and facts pertaining to the issue) how anarchy -- the way it's presented by Rothbard and others, as something that can coexist with law and consitutionalism -- can be "slightly sensible," doesn't put you on the same plane as people who deny the existence of free will but still manage to condemn the unelect to eternal hellfire (like Augustine). That's the kind of brain that's guilty of the most "bizarre rationalism possible to a human being," no? Smiling

Troll Bait

Dan Edge's picture

I wouldn't bother with that guy, Lindsay.  He just likes to drop by and snipe and talk shit from time to time.  I guarantee he will not engage you in any meaningful way.  If you keep reading his posts, he'll just do his best to piss you off for no reason.  Take your own advice, and don't feed the trolls.

(My turn to get all Phil Coates-y I guess, Kelly).

--Dan Edge

A Laugh a Minute with Lindsay

jriggenbach's picture

"I can't believe I'm being patronized in this way by this person."

Still reading my posts, are we, Lindsay?

"And it's not enough to actually just learn what the Rothbard arguments are, no."

No, it's not; not if you can't rely on the writer whose summary you read to be accurate.

"For the person who comes to see firsthand why the Objectivist view of government is true (and precludes anarchy) no facts one isn't already aware of could be offered by Rothbard which by themselves would dissuade a person of what they know to be true by actual applied reason in the Objectivist sense, and certainly no new logical connections or inductions would do so which would connect to facts."

Many Christians argue in just this way. The stance is known traditionally as Invincible Ignorance.

"I don't have time now to address in depth the last paragraph on anarchy that tries to make English Common Law out to be something that arose in the context of anarchy, or irrationally project that it could have somehow, talks about what decisions "courts" and "judges" come to while imagining such things with no State, and actually offers a classic "stolen concept" with the statement that law does not need the State for it's [sic] development. Where did you get this concept 'law', sir?"

From reading the anarchists your Invincible Ignorance tells you you have no need to read. Also from reading history -- something I know Objectivists tend to be leary of doing. Too often it interferes with their Invincible Ignorance.

JR

I got lured in by the

Lindsay Blair's picture

I got lured in by the irresistible temptation to needle the new Lindsay, because she's so cute when she gets all puffed up with indignation and rage. She reminds me somewhat of how insufferable I was at her age -- and I wasn't even cute to make up for it.

I can't believe I'm being patronized in this way by this person.

I think someone used the term "charity refutation" concerning what I'm about to do here.

First the stuff not actually about anarchy. The following is truly funny. Who hasn't seen this before? It's classic.

"Also, frankly, I receive the impression that most of the contributors to threads like this on this site consider themselves above the menial task of actually reading Rothbard before expressing emphatic disagreement with his ideas. Their "arguments" and questions are so elementary, I find it difficult to believe that the authors of these "arguments" and questions have gone even so far as to read the brief discussion of criminal justice in For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, much less anything else of Rothbard's. Why should I teach Anarchism 101 to a bunch of people who seem to think the works of Ayn Rand are all they ever have to read on any question in order to understand everything they will ever need to understand about that question?"

What happens here is the person who holds a certain view of something to be true by way of seeing the connection between certain generalities to the real world--and thus holding a true generality--is somehow made out to be someone who arrived at holding the generality to be true only by way of some rote memorization from what Ayn Rand wrote and taken on faith, and if only that person would bother to read, say, Murray Rothbard, she would be persuaded that Rothbards generalities are actually true instead.

And it's not enough to actually just learn what the Rothbard arguments are, no. One must read his writing firsthand, because if not, then how can one be sure one has considered all the possible alternatives to Ayn Rand's generalities she offers?

And of course, I can say this about any and every writer on philosophical or political issues other than Ayn Rand and for the rest of my life, can't I? So how can I be so damned sure some idea is true and conforms to reality that Ayn Rand had, such as rejection of anarchy, when I don't know if this Quinn guy might have some angle that will dissuade me from Objectivism? How do I know that one book I haven't read by Hume won't suddenly have some philosophical or political insight I hadn't considered, which will make me fundamentally change my philosophical views away from Objectivism altogether? For that matter, I'd better make sure I talk to my crazy neighbor Bob who says he's an anarchist and has some philosophical ideas of his own, or how can I be sure in my rejection of anarchy?

I personally have read Rothbard. The arguments for anarchy are as stupid and unrealistic in detail as they are in the abstract summary. But I have no problem whatsoever in some other Objectivist never reading that crap and learning broadly that Rothbard advocated for anarchy and why, and deciding correctly and perfectly objectively and active-mindedly that it is not worth reading anyone who would come up with that. There is no problem whatsoever in their concluding that they grasp the relationship between Objectivism's ideas of proper government and the facts around them. They can see how Objectivism rejects anything that reasonably can be called "anarchy" and is incompatible with it. They can see how anything resembling actual anarchy would absolutely without a doubt be a total disaster and total non-freedom. And all of this perfectly confidently and correctly without ever hearing about this Murray Rothbard character, much less reading his work.

Now that is really knowing something, versus being a completely looney rationalist who can be persuaded by whatever ideas appeal to ones emotion, or struck one a certain way at a certain time in one's life and resonated, or that satisfy some psychological need for "liberation" from all kinds of things one ought not to want to be necessarily "liberated" from, or that construct tricky internal logic sequences of economics and rights theory that one can't see a way "out" of because one hasn't learned how to look at reality for the answers, and whatever other reasons one has for going along over time with something like anarchy.

And the person in the first case is supposed to be the one who doesn't know what he or she is talking about?

For the person who comes to see firsthand why the Objectivist view of government is true (and precludes anarchy) no facts one isn't already aware of could be offered by Rothbard which by themselves would dissuade a person of what they know to be true by actual applied reason in the Objectivist sense, and certainly no new logical connections or inductions would do so which would connect to facts.

And of course, this is what one finds to be true after reading Rothbard. So no, I don't think it's that important to bother unless you have a particular interest in reading them or you're a professional intellectual who needs to write about and discuss them in detail. You certainly don't have to have read them to know what is meant by anarchists in what they think would be good, and why it absolutely would not be good.

Oh look, now I don't have time now to address in depth the last paragraph on anarchy that tries to make English Common Law out to be something that arose in the context of anarchy, or irrationally project that it could have somehow, talks about what decisions "courts" and "judges" come to while imagining such things with no State, and actually offers a classic "stolen concept" with the statement that law does not need the State for it's development. Where did you get this concept "law", sir?

I don't know how "puffed up" or cute this all comes across, but if you're going to treat me like some naive young grasshopper then let's see where we get in any kind of real debate, big guy. I can offer more detail on the anarchy business if you like.

Hi LW

Lindsay Blair's picture

So, why not present your argument keeping in mind there may quite a few people on here like Kelley and myself who are reading these posts and trying to formulate our own personal beliefs about them.

That's great, LW, but I wouldn't be looking to a discussion based on Wayne's piece in this thread for that if I'm understanding where you are correctly.

You and Kelley and anyone else in that position wouldn't want to frame your thinking on the question of anarchy in terms of how compatible it is with Objectivism, but whether it's compatible with what you know about reality. What if Objectivism is wrong? Evaluating Objectivism's arguments about what is (and isn't) moral and therefore practical government for yourself has to take place first.

It would seem the question of compatibility between Objectivism and anarchy is a little bit higher-level while at the same time being a little bit ludicrous. Since Objectivism is Ayn Rand's philosophy, and she explicitly rejected anarchy, then the mental gymnastics some may go through to argue that she didn't know her own ideas well enough to judge that, and that somehow without her knowing it her own Objectivist principles in practice would eventually result in anarchy probably won't help give you clarity on the question of anarchy per se.

I honestly can't add anything to the discussion beyond what others here have said as far as pointing out why anarchy is irrational. In my experience, the "debate" on this question keeps coming back to the anarchist not having any rational rejoinder to two or three points made by the non-anarchist. This has already happened in this thread, and the one person who thinks he can make a case for it has said he doesn't want to. That's typical. After you see this played out however many times, you'll wonder what's wrong with the people who keep clinging to anarchy, or you will drop Objectivism because you don't agree with the Objectivist views on proper government.

Get clear for yourself on why the Objectivist view of the nature and purpose of government is true, then I'm confident for most people that the question of whether anarchy makes sense kind of goes away, and it's easy to see through the rationalistic arguments offered for it.

Good luck in thinking about these issues.

Cheers,

Lindsay Smiling

So, why not

LWHALL's picture

Exactly. But I submit that I could teach an intelligent 12-year-old the basic reason why anarchy is not freedom and would be disastrous in practice over the long-term no matter what, and he or she could grasp it first-hand without too much difficulty. In fact, at 12 years old I did pretty much get this

So, why not present your argument keeping in mind there may quite a few people on here like Kelley and myself who are reading these posts and trying to formulate our own personal beliefs about them.

Keep in mind although you stated you didn't want to take the time to argue with them, you have typed a lot of words already in response to those who took issue with what you wrote

I have read every post on here both pro and con and as with most threads on varying topics I find intelligent people on both sides of the issues. If you choose to write anything on it I will gladly read what you wrote also.

Although I am now compiling and reading a number of books by and about Rand as well as compiling a list of other books to read, it is very hard to ask a question of a book. Yet through various threads and due to the argumentative nature of them I can often find help in answering my inner question by relating back to something I read in one of the forums.

L W

Chris C.

jriggenbach's picture

"You're more than welcome to point out what's asinine about my arguments."

Actually, I don't want to get into it with you. I've been struggling to fight off the temptation to contribute to this thread at all. I got lured in by the irresistible temptation to needle the new Lindsay, because she's so cute when she gets all puffed up with indignation and rage. She reminds me somewhat of how insufferable I was at her age -- and I wasn't even cute to make up for it.

But I digress. I deliberately ignored Linz's invitation for anarchists to join the fray on this thread, which he issued a few days back, because I'm engaged in an orgy of remunerative writing at the moment -- writing I'll actually be paid for. I have one deadline after another into the second week of September. Right now I should be working on a short article on Dagny Taggart for a reference book. It's due tomorrow. I can't let myself be dragged into this right now.

(Also, frankly, I receive the impression that most of the contributors to threads like this on this site consider themselves above the menial task of actually reading Rothbard before expressing emphatic disagreement with his ideas. Their "arguments" and questions are so elementary, I find it difficult to believe that the authors of these "arguments" and questions have gone even so far as to read the brief discussion of criminal justice in For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, much less anything else of Rothbard's. Why should I teach Anarchism 101 to a bunch of people who seem to think the works of Ayn Rand are all they ever have to read on any question in order to understand everything they will ever need to understand about that question?)

Having said all that, let me comment briefly on a couple of extracts from the rest of your post.

"I just don't see it. 'It' (the reified entity, government?) is acting as judge in its own case, *because* in the case of its own (huh? its own? shouldn't this say, "its citizens'") disputes it forbids third-party arbiters. This simply strikes me as non-sequitur. How does forbidding a third-party arbiter make it a "judge in its own case"? What the heck exactly is this phrase even supposed to mean here? BTW, this definitionally loads things against a territorial monopoly (government, or state, as we know it) -- just say that if there's a monopoly, it's that entity acting as judge in its own case, which has to be forbidden for law to be objective."

It seems to me that the reason you're having difficulty here is that you are failing to distinguish carefully -- distinguish *conceptually* -- between a State and its most immediate victims -- the people it robs (taxes) in order to support its ongoing existence. The State is not "we." It is not "us." The old saw that "we are the government" is no less an absurdity than the proposition that the Jews of Germany who died in Nazi concentration camps actually committed suicide -- since the camps in question were established by a "democratically elected" State. No State is, in any rational sense, the agent or representative of anybody who did not agree to hire that State for such a purpose. The State is simply an organization functioning in human society. It is made up of the people who control it and carry out its functions (at this point Fred Weiss will triumphantly announce that "we" control the U.S. government through the exercise of our precious "right" to choose which of two statist thugs will occupy the White House and slurp at the public trough for the next four years -- and you wonder why I try to avoid getting into this?). Of course it can have interests which are not the interests of its "citizens." Of course it can act as a judge in its own case. Of course a law forbidding a third party arbiter makes the State a judge in its own case. It forbids the very possibility of any arbiter other than the State. What is unclear about this? And no, Long's argument does not "definitionally load things against a territorial monopoly (government, or state, as we know it)," as you assert. Rather it *explains* why the existence of such a territorial monopoly will undermine true justice within the society that monopoly dominates.

"There are a few meta-issues I don't mind discussing, though. Like: shouldn't the subject of the ways and means of physical force be treated in a different way than persuasion-based activities? I thought the obvious answer would be: yes."

Am I entitled to use force to defend myself and my property? Am I entitled to hire someone else to do it for me? A security guard? A bodyguard? Need anything else be said here?

Generally, from here, the argument on this site moves to the need for objective law, which I and all thoughtful anarchists I know of acknowledge. What anarchists propose is that all genuinely objective law, and certainly all law that would meet with the approval of any sort of libertarian (including, presumably, an Objectivist) evolves over time out of a social context, out of the rulings of judges in countless cases and out of the record of what kinds of ruling have proved themselves able to sustain public approval -- much as the "rules" that guide the "invisible hand" of the marketplace evolve over time out of the countless exchanges made by free traders in the marketplace. Anarchists argue that, in fact, that minuscule part of our own law that actually protects individual rights, instead of invading and abrogating them, comes down to us from English Common Law, which evolved in exactly this way. Law does not need the State for its development. In fact, for reasons Long details, the State, however good its intentions, *must* impede, rather than promote, justice under the law.

JR

Sorry, were you talking just then?

Lindsay Blair's picture

Actually, you will get somewhere by proceeding from such assumptions.  For example, you'll get fairly close to the truth.

I'm confused. How do you know the "truth" of such things as regards me when you don't know me, JR?

I will pay attention to your posts when talking about me, JR, I have little choice, but I hope you'll spend less time making yourself look foolish making banal comments about me and more time posting your views on whatever issues.

You can assert whatever you want about me out of ignorance, but that's a bit silly isn't it? How about you read my posts over time and then you can make whatever inductions you want about me when you actually have something to go by, ok?

Much appreciated.

Cute!

Capitalism's picture

This is cute! Jeff Riggenbach has enough time to wade into what is essentially a personal war of words (oh! And cite some anarchist "sources" as being the reason it should be take seriously. Argument from authority, anyone? Ironic!), but still has consistently failed to answer a basic question I had about how murder would be handled in an anarchist society!

Great Jeff! Keep evading!

I agree, of course

Lindsay Blair's picture

If you don't think for yourself how in the world are you ever going to know if something is true or false.?

Exactly. But I submit that I could teach an intelligent 12-year-old the basic reason why anarchy is not freedom and would be disastrous in practice over the long-term no matter what, and he or she could grasp it first-hand without too much difficulty. In fact, at 12 years old I did pretty much get this.

But that's because at that age you haven't (in most cases) filled your head with strings of complex philosophical propositions which can sometimes become disconnected from reality. At that age you don't end up emotionally investing in things you've written on the subject, or others have written, and start engaging in rationalization of what you know damn well isn't true.

I can understand how an adult reading lots of philosophy and political science can get caught momentarily forgetting the clarity of wisdom they had at 12 years old that anarchy is disastrous, but what am I to make of the committed anarchist among adults?

What such people have to do, IMO, is try their best to start connecting their theories back to concretes, if they're still capable of doing so. If they're not, then I gain nothing from exposure to or engaging with their extreme rationalism.

I've met some self-described

Lindsay Blair's picture

I've met some self-described Objectivists who would say this and mean it literally, without the standard "context" caveat, and I take it Kelly has as well.

I have a healthy respect for you, Boaz, so this means a lot coming from you.

I've heard of these self-described Objectivists who would say this and mean it literally, but I've never met one before. I'vc seriously started to question whether there is actually such a person beyond some very, very young person new to Ayn Rand who doesn't understand Objectivism but is inspired to go around proclaiming they're an Objectivist and improperly moralizing and denouncing others all over the place and so on.

I don't really take their existence as anything meaningful, however, to me personally, or to the Objectivist movement. I don't let the way I express myself be determined by combating the notion that I am such a person.

However, I'm relatively new to interacting with other Objectivists online, and perhaps one encounters such a person (during a phase I would guess should last about 6 months or so?) often in these situations and I need to be more careful in such company with strongly-worded posts containing those kinds of judgments.

Having said all that, in what you quoted, the only thing I think needs to be changed in the wording to avoid misunderstanding by the "Rationalist Newbie Objectivist Police" is the first bit about "gives the slightest credence to anarchism". I don't, however, see what's wrong with the rest of what you quoted: "There is no way in hell you can imagine anarchy as even slightly sensible without engaging in the most bizarre floating rationalism disconnected from reality possible to a human being."

That last bit I stand by completely, where it should be understood that "floating rationalism disconnected from reality"--and even to the extreme of "the most bizarre possible to a human being"--is something for which one can easily forgive someone relatively new to these issues and grappling with them.

We all know very well who on SOLO and elsewhere in the world are the people I'm talking about. So-called "Objectivists" and others who actively advocate for anarchy or remain "on the fence" about the issue for an extended time because they keep getting flustered by the rationalistic arguments and/or don't quite get the Objectivist ideas of proper government. As you said, it reflects poorly on them--fatally so, in my opinion, which was my point.

So in future, I guess I could avoid all this by simply naming the people I think ought to know better but I'm questioning their intelligence, honesty, sanity, etc if I'm going to go there at all.

Hi Brant

Lindsay Blair's picture

"One suspects that this ad hominem approach to reason probably spills over to other people and their ideas. These anarchists, of whom I am not one, offer interesting takes on US history and current affairs, if not philosophy, and make one exercise one's mental muscles. I think they're naive and utopian, but would no more ignore them than chop off my head."

Let me say first of all, Brant, that I've read your posts over time on SOLO and even though I often disagree with you I like you very much from what I can tell. I especially like your depth of feeling and the way you're not afraid to reveal your tentative thinking on things when it helps you get clear in a discussion, and I think you're really an honest thinker.

I hear what you're saying, but I think taken too far that sentiment becomes a bit of a vice for many people involved in Objectivism.

If you have the personal time to engage in reading comments and articles by any-and-all people on whatever subject no matter how much you yourself should be past their personal confusions by now, just because they might possibly maybe "have an interesting take" on this-or-that, then I envy you.

Personally, I find that once I've determined someone is "naive and utopian", then a certain diminishing returns sets in as far as spending your time paying too much attention to them. Wading through pages of rationalistic confusion just to find that one kernel of an "interesting take" becomes a dubious exercise, in my opinion.

This is particularly true online, IMO. I joined SOLO last week because I see personal value in reading and discussing issues with the likes of certain people I've seen on here who I may not always agree with but I respect and think are intelligent and honest. I'm referring to yourself, Linz, James Valliant, Dan Edge, JoeM, Diana Hsieh, Mike Mazza, Penelope (Beach?), Chris Cathcart, Marnee, Fred Weiss, and others I apologize for not remembering at the moment.

But what I'm not going to do is wade through pages of stuff by any anarchists present just as a mental exercise unless I'm in a particular mood or whatever. Any such person, IMO, if they say something true or rational does so more-or-less by accident, if you will. I don't find it stimulating or enjoyable, and once I know who is that incapable of understanding pretty basic issues such as what's wrong with anarchy, then I simply can't be bothered to spend time reading what they write, and sure as hell don't want to waste time arguing with such a person. There are limits to the value that can be gained from such a thing--like I said, it's a matter of "diminishing returns" if I can use that phrase.

Good god, there are so many good non-crap, non-anarchist writers and lecturers listed in the "Rand and Rand-Related Including Crap" list here on SOLO alone that one could spend time reading a lot before one is so desperate for "intereting takes" on this-or-that concrete issue one needs to start reading the work of anarchists.

Sorry, but I don't consider SOLOs pro-anarchy members to be on the level of some of the published anarchists of long ago which I might agree one can get some value from reading. Rothbard--ok, there's something to be learned from reading him and those like him, if only to "exercise one's mental muscles", just as you said. And I certainly have. But the likes of Jriggenbach and others here on SOLO? Please.

It's just not worth it and I'm better off not wasting my time on what they have to say and any accidentally rational things that might come out. You are better off not wasting your time on them either, IMO, Brant. I certainly don't feel it's my job to try to straighten out their confusions  or persuade other SOLO members that their craziness is crazy.

If someone on SOLO is new to these ideas and you like them and can tell they're honestly trying to understand something like anarchy, ok. But I'm talking about people who challenge you to "push an idea into their heads" while they're fighting you all the way and inventing rationalizations on the fly to maintain their faith in something as stupid as being pro-anarchy. It's not hard to tell which is which, and I see no reason not to ridicule the ones in the latter category and I promise you lose nothing by ignoring them.

Cheers, Brant,

Lindsay Smiling

 

Lindsay B

LWHALL's picture

But further, I would like to know what "sum total" of your knowledge" about such issues wasn't learned by others at some point? It's irrelevant who came up with an idea or pointed you to certain facts as regards your understanding and acceptance of it. I can't enter a parallel universe where there was never an Ayn Rand and discover the arguments against anarchy and for limited government all for myself at this point. Is that what I have to do to persuade you I understand the arguments and concepts involved?

I am guessing that in the first sentence you meant 'from others' rather than "by others"

As far as the rest goes it is highly relevant where I get my facts from, lest I start listening to the wrong person and later find out my facts weren't facts at all, I only thought they were. Like when a person starts building conclusions based on false premises. If you don't think for yourself how in the world are you ever going to know if something is true or false.

L W

Lindsay B

LWHALL's picture

This is what you wrote:This thread poses the question: "Objectivist Anarchists: Can There Be Such A Thing?" My comments in this thread have addressed that question specifically. If those who aren't solidly against anarchism as it's commonly understood don't like my extended answer, too bad."

Your "extended answer" lies in this sentence:" For actual arguments to support my anti-anarchist position, I simply refer you to all of the Objectivist arguments against it...."

Where is the substance in an answer such as this? One in which you base a condemnation of others on.What it boils down to is your saying someone else is (fill in the blank) because of what others say, and I am just agreeing with them.

If Wayne were not inviting commentary on the subject he could have served his purpose just as well by making it a poll, but anyone who had been following along could tell that there was commentary galore. You say you chose only to answer the original question, but yet you in turn wanted to take a simple yes or no and turn it into a slap at anarchists. You invited the very response you received.

L W

Feisty, Isn't She?

jriggenbach's picture

"Nobody is going to get anywhere debating with me on SOLO if you proceed from assumptions about me like: that I don't know what I'm talking about if I choose to discuss something, that I accept Ayn Rand 'on faith', that I make context-dropping dogmatic judgments of others, and so on."

Actually, you will get somewhere by proceeding from such assumptions.  For example, you'll get fairly close to the truth.

JR

JR

Chris Cathcart's picture

You're more than welcome to point out what's asinine about my arguments. FWIW, I was a Rothbardian anarchist for a little while at 17, and consider myself reasonably, layman-level familiar with the arguments of Rothbard, Friedman, et al. I'll even admit that it's not exactly my favorite issue to discuss and I rarely bring it up (Once again: what's all the appeal? What's to be gained?), mainly because whenever I do try to think about the matter in any depth, trying to figure out rationale for how an an-cap system is supposed to work, I get too frustrated working out the presuppositions. I will go back and read a few arguments from time to time, usually with little or no avail in advancing my understanding of anything important to me. But I'm more than happy to comment on what I see as simple hasty presuppositions at a moral-epistemological level -- like the idea that private organizations have a "right" to do force. (You'll notice I don't throw out standard mantras like "take law into their own hands" or "just anyone can wield a gun and act as judge, jury and executioner in anarchy." That might well be a practical consequence, but I'm ready to acknowledge that folks like Friedman will say that it's more practical that third-party agencies specializing in these matters do the job, rather than leave it all to individuals. I already know the Childs line of argument on that count. Still, we're left with the idea that it's done by *private* entities, and the thing supposedly being marketed and administered "objectively" is force.)

I'll add that the way I've seen the advanced anarcho-types argue, an-cap positions are next to impossible to be explained in adequate detail to a skeptical layperson. I'm a layperson in this debate. If I had the time and interest and thought I had much to gain to delve into it in depth, I'd do so. There are a few meta-issues I don't mind discussing, though. Like: shouldn't the subject of the ways and means of physical force be treated in a different way than persuasion-based activities? I thought the obvious answer would be: yes.

Lindsay

eg's picture

When I made my comment about being sorry your brain was made out of lead, I specifically quoted only two sentences of yours to bring you up short on what you were doing. You stated that you were compiling a list of anarchists who post here and elsewhere so you could ignore anything they might have to say about anything. One suspects that this ad hominem approach to reason probably spills over to other people and their ideas. These anarchists, of whom I am not one, offer interesting takes on US history and current affairs, if not philosophy, and make one exercise one's mental muscles. I think they're naive and utopian, but would no more ignore them than chop off my head.

--Brant

Lonnie

Lindsay Blair's picture

Lonnie says: "However in looking back over your posts the only thing I see which directly addresses the issue is from your(I believe) first post in which you stated:"For actual arguments to support my anti-anarchist position, I simply refer you to all of the Objectivist arguments against it. If you don't understand and accept those arguments, then just loop right back to the beginning of my post here, 'cause I'm talking about you. So from this, I would have to infer that the sum total of your knowledge is what others have written because you have added nothing I can discern of your own thoughts to the matter."

Well, that last is a bit of a leap as far as inferences go, isn't it? So I don't have the inclination to re-hash the entire Objectivist view of government in a discussion board, therefore the "sum total of my knowledge is what others have written?"

You're missing something pretty fundamental here in my point, Lonnie, and this points to what it is. I don't see that question as asking for one's views on the merits of anarchy, but rather asking about whether there can be such a thing as an Objectivist anarchist.

Perhaps I could be more clear in this way. Rather than saying "I refer you to all the Objectivist arguments against anarchy", what I should have said for you to perhaps get my meaning is "I refer you to the entire Objectivist theory of government.

Because it is Objectivism's total theory of moral government which constitutes it's total "argument against anarchy." For one to claim to grasp what Objectivism has to say about that fun branch of philosophy we call "politics", and then to say one accepts the Objectivist view of government to a large extent, but also don't find it fairly easy to dismiss anarchy, then that is ridiculous.

Now is it clear why I say my comments were relevant to that question? The question is not: Is Anarchy Sensible? If not, why not? If that was the question, I could offer quite a bit, but I don't have the patience of Chris Cathcart and others to give what I consider very basic lessons in Objectivism to other SOLO members.

So, no, it is not like telling a subjectivist "read Ayn Rand" because one can't argue Objectivism's points against subjectivism on one's own.

But further, I would like to know what "sum total" of your knowledge" about such issues wasn't learned by others at some point? It's irrelevant who came up with an idea or pointed you to certain facts as regards your understanding and acceptance of it. I can't enter a parallel universe where there was never an Ayn Rand and discover the arguments against anarchy and for limited government all for myself at this point. Is that what I have to do to persuade you I understand the arguments and concepts involved?

Nobody is going to get anywhere debating with me on SOLO if you proceed from assumptions about me like: that I don't know what I'm talking about if I choose to discuss something, that I accept Ayn Rand "on faith", that I make context-dropping dogmatic judgments of others, and so on. (This list will grow as I get more weird responses thrown my way over time, I'm sure.) So let's not go there.

I'm not here to debate anarchism--as I said, beyond a point I find adherence to it to be inexcusable. Like Dan Edge, I feel the discussion is way behind me in life, and I'm surprised anyone who thinks they know Objectivism is conflicted about this at all. Such a discussion belongs in Linz's wonderful "new to Objectivism" section, because that's where people who are honestly confused about this ought to be spending their time. Surely, you see how that relates to the question posed by the thread title?

 

Lindsay

Boaz the Boor's picture

I read this the same way Kelly did:

Personally, I'm taking note of who on SOLO even gives the slightest credence to anarchism as sensible or practical, so that I can henceforth dismiss from my own consideration anything they might ever post...There is no way in hell you can imagine anarchy as even slightly sensible without engaging in the most bizarre floating rationalism disconnected from reality possible to a human being.

I've met some self-described Objectivists who would say this and mean it literally, without the standard "context" caveat, and I take it Kelly has as well. I don't think your original comment -- and it was very, very specific -- left *any* room for the meaning you've now clarified.

But yes, Anarchism (in whatever mutation) isn't compatible with Objectivism, and I agree with you that it reflects poorly on someone's thinking if he entertains it for long. But I usually prefer to keep the unsolicited "you're a moron, I'm not going to listen to you" compliments to a minimum.

Linsay B

LWHALL's picture

In your last post you made this statement:" This thread poses the question: "Objectivist Anarchists: Can There Be Such A Thing?" My comments in this thread have addressed that question specifically. If those who aren't solidly against anarchism as it's commonly understood don't like my extended answer, too bad."

However in looking back over your posts the only thing I see which directly addresses the issue is from your(I believe) first post in which you stated:"For actual arguments to support my anti-anarchist position, I simply refer you to all of the Objectivist arguments against it. If you don't understand and accept those arguments, then just loop right back to the beginning of my post here, 'cause I'm talking about you. So from this, I would have to infer that the sum total of your knowledge is what others have written because you have added nothing I can discern of your own thoughts to the matter.

This would be like me wading into an argument with a subjectivist and for my part telling them to go and read Rand. Rand may indeed be a great source, but it says very little about my ability to assimilate what is being presented into usable frame of reference for myself.

L W

No, it's not.

Lindsay Blair's picture

That is a gross mischaracterization of what I said. But I think I'm done here, so I won't say any more about it.

No, it was perfectly accurate as a characterization. There was no other possible point to what you said nor any other way to interpret it or characterize it. If there was, you could easily clarify rather than not say any more about it.

I can see already that people are going to have to learn how and how not to engage with me on SOLO if they don't want bitchiness and sarcasm. If you're not ready to be seriously and directly challenged on what you say, best to just not address posts in my direction.

I'm a really sweet girl otherwise, but it it's a serious issue, you gotta be sharp or I'll take you to task. I don't screw around when it comes to certain issues or making certain judgments, and I don't hold back in expressing myself if I think someone's being nutty or rude or slippery or just mistaken.

This thread poses the question: "Objectivist Anarchists: Can There Be Such A Thing?" My comments in this thread have addressed that question specifically. If those who aren't solidly against anarchism as it's commonly understood don't like my extended answer, too bad.

??

Lindsay Blair's picture

"Uh, because you're not a very bright Objectivist?"

I'm sorry you feel so threatened by me, Mr. Riggenbach, but again, you don't know me, sir. I didn't come on here and insult any particular members in this way, but you who don't know me are now telling me I'm not a very bright Objectivist?

Brighter than you, sir--I can only assert that.

I've read your posts over timeon SOLO and I'm not impressed. Do you care? Maybe not, but it will be so easy to ignore anything you post on SOLO. I don't have time to waste on grown men who act like children or can't reject anarchism after careful consideration, or insult people directly who they don't even know.

Consider anything further you post unread by me.

wrong again

User hidden's picture

"But Kelly reacted by introducing the "hey, you can't judge people based on their ideas like that!""

That is a gross mischaracterization of what I said. But I think I'm done here, so I won't say any more about it.

Kelly

Oh dear

Lindsay Blair's picture

"And I'm sure you'll also accept full responsibility for the piss poor quality of your judgments, right?"

How would you know this about me, sir? My judgments have worked out pretty well for me so far. You don't know me, of course, but that's no excuse for acting like you're six years old, is it?

And preferably without bothering to read any of the anarchists in question themselves -- Rothbard, David Friedman, George Smith -- to see how they dealt, 30 years and more ago, with the asinine "arguments" proffered by the likes of Fred Weiss and Chris Cathcart, right?

I prefer the arguments proffered by Ayn Rand and offered within the philosophy of Objectivism. What's asinine are anarchist lunatic ravings.

Trick Question?

jriggenbach's picture

"Why would I, as an Objectivist, ever selectively drop context in applying a principle or making a judgment?"

Uh, because you're not a very bright Objectivist?

JR

Is That a Chip on Your Shoulder, Lindsay?

jriggenbach's picture

"I'll be the judge of what I'm missing out on and what I'm not in life, OK?"

Okay. And I'm sure you'll also accept full responsibility for the piss poor quality of your judgments, right?

"I don't think rejecting anarchism is all that complicated or difficult to get to. I do expect a person to figure this question out without too much extended internal debate."

And preferably without bothering to read any of the anarchists in question themselves -- Rothbard, David Friedman, George Smith -- to see how they dealt, 30 years and more ago, with the asinine "arguments" proffered by the likes of Fred Weiss and Chris Cathcart, right?

JR

Paragraph 2 of RL's reply to FW

Chris Cathcart's picture

Just a note that may be of interest: I'm literally proceeding paragraph by paragraph. I hadn't even read the 2nd paragraph (from RL's post of 2006-07-23 00:25) until just now. Now, I've read all of 2 paragraphs of the post. The 2nd paragraph is this:

Here's a further respect in which objective law requires anarchy: in science we value objectivity too, but we don't suppose that the way to get objective science is to put all scientific research into the hands of a single governmental monopoly; on the contrary, we recognize that it is only through allowing competition among scientific theories and scientific research programs that scientific objectivity is possible. We learn the worth of our ideas by seeing how well they can withstand challenge, whether in the form of intellectual arguments or in the form of alternative experiments in action. A view that is insulated from critique is less well grounded, since we cannot tell whether it would have survived had critique been permitted. Nothing would be more deadly to scientific objectivity than monopoly control.

I just don't know how it escapes the notice of those pushing this line about objectivity (it essentially mirrors Roy Child's "Open Letter") that what's at issue here is the use of physical force, and that, maybe, just maybe, the fact that physical force is at issue makes it different than intellectual endeavors (the above line) or standard market activities (the Childs line).

I'll state a previous point in slightly different terms: what is supposed to be the appeal -- to Objectivists, no less -- of leaving the use of force up to private agencies or organizations? I could at least see some promise in the "anarchist" arguments if I could identify something that I or anyone who loves freedom would have to gain, ultimately, from leaving force up to private organizations.

And, why is the use of force lumped in with these other innocuous things like science and car production, as if some uniform principle determining objectivity applies to all of them?

I'm trying to get some grasp on what it is about some "anarchist" scenario that would be preferable to the system of government as it had actually endured in the U.S. for a good 100 years. The "anarchist" style arguments seem to want to go the economistic route of explaining the expansion of the state in the 20th century in terms of institutions, incentives, etc., a standard line of argument that David Friedman used on HPO. Let's not fail to grasp that Rand's emphasis was on the influence of ideas, shall we? We can have basically rational systems of governance by "state monopoly agencies" that meet all reasonable criteria for objectivity, stability, etc. I guess the thing we "lose" in the process is my not being able to delegate the use of force to some private agency of my choosing. I guess that would be considered a loss if I had a good reason to believe, playing a little fast and loose with Lockean ideas of consent, that I had such a "right" to begin with. The U.S. Framers didn't seem to have a hard time following through on his ideas and instituting a basically sound system of governance. The system still *is* basically sound, only that it's been overrun by socialist ideas in application. The problem is the socialist ideas, not with the system. It would be great if the "anarchists" could get a grip on at least that one basic point. That might help in the other basic issue I mentioned: getting a grip on what ways in which the concept of objectivity applies, when applied to realms of persuasion in one instance, and to the realm of force in another.

How that force/persuasion distinction keeps getting overlooked is a little surprising to say the least. There's more that's fundamental here in moral-epistemological terms, that folks with less deep familiarity with Objectivism aren't even going to get a handle on. I suppose that it's not so surprising that so many in such places as the LVMI crowd, who have less deep exposure by volume to Objectivism, aren't going to grasp some of these moral-epistemological issues and overlook some of these important distinctions. It's not clear to me that David Friedman ever managed to grasp these points on HPO, so caught up was he in the economic-legal end of things. What we have with Rand, though, is a moral-practical unity. She looked at the history of the U.S. and saw that the system worked to produce a highly limited system of government for a good 100 years, and worked to produce a stable rule of law without granting private entities the "right" to employ force (beyond immediate self-defense or the like, of course). The "anarchists" promote some notion that we might only guess would turn out certain ways in practice, though non-state-government setups in actual practice, such as (apparently) Somalia, don't really inspire confidence that letting people "privately but objectively" employ force is going to turn out to be practical.

Let's not play around so lightly with physical force, shall we?

You're right, Dan

Lindsay Blair's picture

You opened your post with "I know that what I am about to say will be dismissed as not being of any substance."  That's pretty much the kind of response you're getting.  You could've just said "I disagree" and get your point across.

You're right, Dan. That's the response I got from Brant, and that's why I replied only with a little joke. But Kelly reacted by introducing the "hey, you can't judge people based on their ideas like that!" and I'm just so done with having that debate with people in Objectivist circles.

So, thanks for reminding me why sometimes it's better just not to participate at all, like you said. Next time I must resist :)

I suppose I should just give my answer to the question posed by the thread subject then and be done with it.

Objectivist Anarchists--Can There Be Such A Thing?

No. Not only is it incompatible with Objectivism, most Objectivists are much smarter than that anyway. Smiling

 

 

Chat Room

Dan Edge's picture

Hell, since everyone's online simultaneously snarking each other, why don't we all hop in the chat room for a little snark-fest?  I've been itching to snark out that JTG guy  Sticking out tongue

--Dan Edge

duplicate--again.

Lindsay Blair's picture

duplicate--again.

Lindsay

Dan Edge's picture

I understand where you're coming from.  I would say that anyone marginally well-read in political theory who takes an-cap seriously has some serious issues.  I'm shocked that it's even a question for debate among educated Objectivists.  It is for this reason that I have not contributed to this thread at all.

That said, I understand why Kelly reacted the way she did.  When I was on the fence about the targeting of civilians in war, I bristled at the folks who said "anyone who doesn't understand this is a irrational tolerationist," or something to that effect.  You opened your post with "I know that what I am about to say will be dismissed as not being of any substance."  That's pretty much the kind of response you're getting.  You could've just said "I disagree" and get your point across.

Respectfully,

--Dan Edge

L. Blair

jtgagnon's picture

You write: "Am I the only Objectivist who gets tired of hearing objections to one's statements that clearly assume one is a context-dropping dogmatist for no reason--and especially from other Objectivists?"

No, you're not the only one who gets tired of such silliness. But such objections are usually by "objectivists" in name only (in other words, they still have to get their heads on straight).

Kelly writes: "Since I have

Lindsay Blair's picture

Kelly writes: "Since I have not made up my mind, I have obviously given at least a slight credence to anarchism as practical and sensible, or I would have dismissed it out of hand, as I do ghosts and religion. So your post did include me. I responded to what you said, and not what you now say you meant."

My meaning hasn't changed, but only the words because one of the people reading my comments (you) showed that you needed this explained.

But I thought this site consisted primarily of Objectivists, and that as Objectivists we hold certain things as "the given" with each other which we can't when talking with non-Objectivists.

Why would I, as an Objectivist, ever selectively drop context in applying a principle or making a judgment?

If I had said "And by the way, I include that Kelly girl in my comments", then it would have made sense for you to say "Wait, you're dropping the context of my individual knowledge and degree of thought on this issue".

But since I didn't specify you, then you just assumed I'm in the habit of dogmatically judging others based on their ideas while dropping any relevant context for that individual, and then on that basis volunteered yourself as being included in my comments based on just a strict reading of the words I used, then accusde me of not taking the individual's context into account.

That's making no attempt to take into account my context as an individual in reading my post and figuring out what I'm saying, is it? No, I'm not in the habit of harshly judging the intelligence or honesty of, say, a child for not understanding politics, or a retarded person for not understanding algebra, or a person still grappling with the issues of anarchism for not firmly rejecting it.

Am I the only Objectivist who gets tired of hearing objections to one's statements that clearly assume one is a context-dropping dogmatist for no good reason--and especially from other Objectivists? There was no reason for it here, except that you decided there was some arrogance on my part for boldly naming anarchists writ large as stupid, dishonest, and insane, and you got a little snarky.

I'll say it again so I'm not seen to be back-pedaling in responding to Kelly: Beyond a certain point of knowledge and time to think it through, not rejecting anarchism is in my opinion a clear sign of stupidity, insanity, or dishonesty.

Whether any given individual or SOLO member is in that category I'm not saying, but some are. If anyone wants to ask me whether I think a given person falls in the category, just ask me. I have no problem saying who I think is and who isn't. But I'm not going to volunteer it because I'm not here to just target and insult people on SOLO. I deliberately didn't "name names" in my posts, but whoever you may be, if the shoe fits, wear it.

duplicate--again.

Lindsay Blair's picture

duplicate--again.

Lindsay

User hidden's picture

"If you think those folks lack good sense much of the time, then you might consider not emulating their approach when confronted with someone saying: 'I personally judge X people dishonest or stupid for holding Y ideas.'"

Just because a Kellyite says it, doesn't make it always wrong. Though they do cry "context-dropping" at the drop of every judgemental hat, it doesn't mean that real context dropping doesn't happen. Saying that anyone who might give the slightest credence to anarchism for five minutes (and no I don't think it should be assumed you mean for an extended period of time, as you didn't say that) is totally unworthy of your intellectual notice on every point and forever, is dropping the context of people who may be honestly considering ideas they haven't thought about before or people who may be confused about one particular issue.

Kelly

Kelly

Lindsay Blair's picture

And to others who may have been on SOLOHQ before the split, I thought I'd point out how funny, considering my ex, my friends, and our whole reputation (deserved by some, perhaps) as over judgmental ARI attack-bots, the following was: "In particular, it's the strawman by "tolerationist" Objectivists aimed at unconflicted Objectivists when they make any judgment of another's ideas." The statement is of course true, but applied to me, it made me laugh. I think I may record this day in my journal as the first ever in which I was accused of being too soft and fluffy.

No, I wasn't clear and you might want to hold off on that journal entry.

I don't think you're being "soft and fluffy" and I wasn't trying to label you as a "tolerationist" Objectivist. I was only saying that the statement you were making was typical of such folks, and gets raised in any discussion of judging others by their ideas.

If you think those folks lack good sense much of the time, then you might consider not emulating their approach when confronted with someone saying: "I personally judge X people dishonest or stupid for holding Y ideas."

Ad Hominem, Linz?

Lindsay Blair's picture

Linz writes: "Lindsay has commited the fallacy of ad hominem and Lance the fallacy of question-begging. But in essence they're both right! They've simply fast-tracked legitimate philosophical due process. One can't advocate anarchism for any length of time and be honest or even actively intelligent."

I appreciate what you're saying here, and related to my lengthy post to Kelly, "for any length of time" is the operative phrase and one I think shouldn't need to be stated in order to be implicitly understood.

But I don't think what I did there was ad hominem because I wasn't trying to make any kind of logical argument at all, only stating a personal estimation of a certain kind of "thinker" in libertarian circles. I think if one explicitly says thats the case as I did in my post, it stops being ad hominem. You can't have a fallacious argument if you're not making an actual argument, IMO. I went to great lengths to qualify my post along those lines, which it looks like you understand.

Cheers,

Lindsay Blair

Lindsay B . . .

User hidden's picture

says, "Clearly my statements were aimed at those who have studied these issues for some time, and actually advocate for anarchy. Not those grappling with the issue." and "Obviously I make that statement in reference to those who demonstrate they've had plenty of time to think through the issues, have access to the relevant facts and arguments, and then continue to either actively advocate for anarchism, or continue to give credence to the idea of anarchism to the point one would halfway argue for it in a way that doesn't clearly involve honest seeking of clarification for one's self."

And yet this is not obvious to me, as she said before, "Personally, I'm taking note of who on SOLO even gives the slightest credence to anarchism as sensible or practical, so that I can henceforth dismiss from my own consideration anything they might ever post. Such a person, in my opinion, is sadly not at the level intellectually that is required to understand important issues. Period. There is no way in hell you can imagine anarchy as even slightly sensible without engaging in the most bizarre floating rationalism disconnected from reality possible to a human being."

Since I have not made up my mind, I have obviously given at least a slight credence to anarchism as practical and sensible, or I would have dismissed it out of hand, as I do ghosts and religion. So your post did include me. I responded to what you said, and not what you now say you meant.

"I don't need your damn disingenuous sympathy or snarky comments, Kelly. I'm doing just fine in life, thanks for your concern. You'd have persuaded me better if you'd left this last line out of your post. Talk about being an "ass"!"

My comments were indeed snarky, nor were they intended to persuade you of anything, at least not primarily. They were intended to make fun of you and to point out to others how ridiculous I thought your post was.

As far as damn disingenuous, my sympathy was far from that. I actually would feel very sorry for you if you missed my posts. I think they rock!

And to others who may have been on SOLOHQ before the split, I thought I'd point out how funny, considering my ex, my friends, and our whole reputation (deserved by some, perhaps) as over judgmental ARI attack-bots, the following was: "In particular, it's the strawman by "tolerationist" Objectivists aimed at unconflicted Objectivists when they make any judgment of another's ideas." The statement is of course true, but applied to me, it made me laugh. I think I may record this day in my journal as the first ever in which I was accused of being too soft and fluffy. In truth, I am just soft and fluffy enough! Smiling

Kelly

Lindsay Blair's Brain

Lindsay Blair's picture

Brant says to me: "I'm sorry your brain is made out of lead."

I just checked this and it's made out of the usual stuff. However, feel free to ignore me and my posts if you think otherwise, Brant.

Kelly writes:"I would like

Lindsay Blair's picture

Kelly writes:"I would like to make the official statement that I don't know exactly where I stand on this issue. I haven't studied politics enough or thought enough about appropriate government to be sure what I think. I will eventually make a decision, but since I do give some credence to some of the things anarcho-capitalists say, I wanted to warn Lindsay B. to ignore all of my posts from here on out, as I am obviously a worthless human being devoid of any good sense and moral fiber. Far be it from me to suggest that he judge individuals on a case-by-case basis, finding out what their context is. Wouldn't want to insult him by asking him to consider any suggestion from a being like myself of obviously lower consciousness than his own."

First of all, Kelly, I am a "she".

What you've given here is the typical strawman response to what I said. In particular, it's the strawman by "tolerationist" Objectivists aimed at unconflicted Objectivists when they make any judgment of another's ideas.

Yes, I do take into account the context of a given individual's knowledge and other factors when applying the judgment I stated. If you personally are confused and unsure and trying to grapple with the issue at this time, then that is not what I mean by giving "credence" to the idea of anarchy as sensible. There's nothing wrong with your good sense and moral fiber as far as I can tell.

It should be obvious that when one speaks of ignoring the statements of someone--or refusing to debate them because a position they hold is so irrational or dishonest as to make it a valid personal judgment to refuse--that judgement, if made properly, will take into account the full context just as any process of judging or acting should.

Are we clear, now? Obviously I make that statement in reference to those who demonstrate they've had plenty of time to think through the issues, have access to the relevant facts and arguments, and then continue to either actively advocate for anarchism, or continue to give credence to the idea of anarchism to the point one would halfway argue for it in a way that doesn't clearly involve honest seeking of clarification for one's self.

So, yes, I judge individuals on a "case-by-case" basis, while applying relevant principles, and endeavoring to know "what their context is". Nothing in my statements should suggest otherwise, and stating this obvious point of taking individual context into account should not be necessary in order not to hear this objection from you or from anyone else at every freaking turn. It's so unncessary and I'm personally weary of it.

I believe I'm familiar enough with the context of knowledge and experience by members of SOLO who post regularly to make that judgment in most cases when it comes to the issue of anarchism. I've read your posts over time, and for you personlly to be unsure right now, and yet knowing that you need to "eventually make a decision" is perfectly fine by me.

However, I must add that I don't think rejecting anarchism is all that complicated or difficult to get to. I do expect a person to figure this question out without too much extended internal debate. If I were to find that beyond a certain point you still left the question open, then I wouldn't consider you a bad person, but I would indeed take into account my consequent estimation of your intelligence when judging the merits of your posts. I might not ignore your statements, but neither could I ignore the fact that you're still conflicted on this point when perhaps you ought to know better.

Clearly my statements were aimed at those who have studied these issues for some time, and actually advocate for anarchy. Not those grappling with the issue.

Kelly then adds:

"Lindsay B., I feel sorry for you. If you miss out on me and all my posts because of this, you will have really missed out. Reconsider and stop being an ass."

I don't need your damn disingenuous sympathy or snarky comments, Kelly. I'm doing just fine in life, thanks for your concern. You'd have persuaded me better if you'd left this last line out of your post. Talk about being an "ass"!

I'll be the judge of what I'm missing out on and what I'm not in life, OK? If I choose to pass up posts by particular SOLO members I judge not worth my time for whatever reason and say so, that is my perogative. Feel free to do the same with mine if you like, it's up to you.

duplicate

Lindsay Blair's picture

duplicate

RL's reply to FW

Chris Cathcart's picture

I'll just take the first paragraph for now:

Roderick T. Long on Sun, 2006-07-23 00:25.
OK, here's the short(er!) version.

Re objective law: I think Locke was right when he said that it was a bad idea for people to use coercion acting as judges in their own case; emergencies aside, they should submit their disputes to 3rd-party arbitration. (Call this Locke's Rule.) But Locke's mistake, as I see it, was to take this as an argument AGAINST anarchy, when it's surely an argument FOR it. Locke's Rule can be implemented in anarchy (from the claim that all disputes should be submitted to arbitrators it doesn't follow that there should be a single monopoly organisation to which all disputes should be submitted, just as from the claim that everyone likes at least one tv show it doesn't follow that there's at least one tv show that everyone likes), and indeed market incentives make it likely to be implemented. But it's inherently impossible for it to be implemented under government, because to the extent that as a government claims territorial monopoly and final say, it must inevitable be a judge in its own case, because in the case of its own disputes it forbids third-party arbiters. Now if objective law means submitting disputes to public, neutral adjudication, then that's something that can occur only under anarchy.

I just don't see it. "It" (the reified entity, government?) is acting as judge in its own case, *because* in the case of its own (huh? its own? shouldn't this say, "its citizens'") disputes it forbids third-party arbiters. This simply strikes me as non-sequitur. How does forbidding a third-party arbiter make it a "judge in its own case"? What the heck exactly is this phrase even supposed to mean here? BTW, this definitionally loads things against a territorial monopoly (government, or state, as we know it) -- just say that if there's a monopoly, it's that entity acting as judge in its own case, which has to be forbidden for law to be objective.

And yet, this supposed logical truth isn't exactly borne out by the empirical facts. If so, it would somehow be glaringly obvious that here and now, we don't get objective, neutral and public adjudication of disputes (I find it strange that a criminal proceeding would fall under the heading of a "dispute," but I digress) as conducted by our big bad government. Indeed, we're told that it *can't* happen. And yet, here we are, observing some pretty damn good if humanly-imperfect procedural justice, done all the time by our big bad monopoly acting as judge in its own case. I'm stupefied.

I'll just throw in this little fact, too: in cases of real arbitration, in civil disputes, we do have third-party arbitration going on all the time, unprohibited by the big bad monopoly. And yet, in the current system there is a clear-cut-enough division between the realm of civil disputes on the one hand, and criminal proceedings on the other, such that you don't have the American Arbitration Association or any like private organization taking up criminal cases. I sense a dropping of the conceptual ball to refer to a criminal matter as a mere "dispute." It has always been the big Achilees Heel of "anarchist" arguments to treat the criminal problem just like the civil (non-)problem. I don't see the cause for throwing it all under the heading of "adjudication," much less "adjudication of disputes."

But wait, there's another problem. All "dispute"-resolutions get their enforcement-authority from a decision issued by a court. Somehow, by some pleasant coincidence, court decisions seem to kind of compel people to do things, to go along, and to get those charged with enforcement powers to do what they can to see to it that it's carried out. Even our big bad monopoly government has a judicial wing that can strike down laws on certain grounds. The executive could, I guess, ignore those decisions. Some might even accuse our most popular present executive of doing just that and getting away with it. Hmmm . . . that just "wouldn't be a problem under anarchism," though. After all, no one acts as judge in their own case in the "anarchist" setup as it's supposed to work. Oh, nice!

On an-cappers' sanity (w/associated lengthy rambling)

Chris Cathcart's picture

LB, perhaps what I'm saying here might be in its own way a more damning indictment of anarchism (the notion, not necessarily the adherents) than what you or Rand have said on the matter, and that is: I have trouble granting credence to an idea when I'm not even sure what the idea *is*, what issues it's actually addressing, what things it's actually presupposing, etc. Every time I've tried to make sense out of the debate, I get frustrated very quickly. I can't even figure out why the fuck these people refer to their position as "anarchism" if they're at the same time advocating a peaceful and stable system of law, much less what it is that they think they gain by calling their ideas "anarchism." I'm not particularly fond of the "anarchist"-style arguments, either; too many that I see involve responding to objections by saying, "Oh, and what about the way governments (inadequately) handle or exacerbate that problem?"

What we have, as best as I am able to determine without concrete application, is some proposal about melding market institutions with meta-market legal institutions, and proposing such melding in a pretty bewildering fashion. I see an end-product -- a bunch of competing-though-cooperating institutions doing business peacably and profitably in defining and enforcing law -- and a total mind-fuck exercise in trying to figure out exactly how that end-product is supposed to materialize in practice. Every attempt I've tried to make sense of it leads me to a chicken-egg problem, some variant or other of: which comes first, the law or markets? The "anarchists" brush it aside as a non-issue, but I think it paralyzes the entire discussion amongst the skeptical.

Skimming over some earlier posts, Roderick Long says something to the effect that "government" is actually more a descriptor of a pattern of interactions or, perhaps, an institutional pattern that defines and is guided by law. Here, I'm left utterly perplexed as to how the "anarchist" best-scenario isn't thereby a government, and how it doesn't, de facto, really resemble government as we usually understand the term. There's also what strikes me as a central and crucial issue: the need for *some* institutional mechanism that defines and enforces laws within a *geographical boundary*. Rand made a big deal about that, and I think that there was a specific rationale behind that -- that "law" doesn't make sense without an equally necessary corrolary: jurisdiction. This gets all fuzzy in my mind when I try to apply it to the envisioned best-scenario interactions amongst an-capper agencies, where "jurisdiction" seems so easily assumed not to be tied to geographical boundaries. (David Friedman promoted the notion of overlapping jurisdictions on HPO for years as a description of actual realities, and yet seemed unfazed by the fact that those overlapping jurisdictions still only take place in actual reality where there are territorial states. Doesn't it make sense to ask whether you still need territorial states around even for these overlapping jurisdictions to happen?)

As to the people who advocate "anarcho-capitalism," I hardly make the same assessment that LB does; I've observed plenty of quite intelligent, well-thinking people (as evidenced by their thinking on a wide range of other issues) who take the an-capper position. In nearly every single instance -- our own Roderick Long being the only exception that comes to mind right off -- the significant proponents of an-cap are lawyers or economists by profession, not philosophers. An-cap is the orthodoxy over at the Mises Institute, strange enough considering that Mises himself wasn't an "anarchist" by any reasonable sense of the term. The arguments I've seen for an-cap are typically economistic and legalistic in nature, which already makes me uncomfortable, seeing as there's an essential need for clearing some philosophical groundwork. *That's* where I think I can at least get some bearings on whether I think the an-caps are on the right track. And on that count, I see something of a mixed bag. Long story short, I don't find myself much moved by appeals to theories of rights that regard government (okay, state) institutions as inherently coercive or rights-violating. (That *has* to be the central *moral-philosophical* tenet driving an-cap sympathies.) Somehow, it doesn't register that we're dealing with a special sphere of human interaction: the defining and enforcing of the law itself, i.e., defining and executing the conditions under which force is permissible. Here, it's not in the least bit self-evident that just anyone has the right to set up or delegate to just any agency the authority to engage in such an "enterprise." I think the arguments along these lines take a bit too literally and/or selectively certain Lockean abstractions about consent, delegation, enforcement, etc. Instead of discussion in terms of what state-imposed constraints are *reasonable* for people to be held to, we get something more or less like the view that no state-imposed constraints are reasonable at all.

While I found that notion appealing as a quasi-rebellious 17-year-old, I think we need a more careful and considered approach to understanding the nature of state-imposed constraint. We simply don't say that the state imposing restraints is coercion, particularly if a rational definition of *rights* morally constrains people in certain ways. (We *aren't* in Locke's hypothetical state of nature, we're here in civil society. Why *should* we proceed on the assumption that private persons or institutions should have full enforcement powers that they have in a hypothetical thought-experiment state of nature?) I trust that SOLO contributors like Roderick Long or George Smith are more than happy to work at it from this angle, though I think we may well end up in some kind of stalemate at some point, with each side saying they favor "a particular pattern of institutions and interactions," and one side saying it really advocates "anarchy" and the other saying what it really advocates is "government." (I know one an-cap who has used the phrase "constitutional anarchy" to describe this. Makes my head spin.) That would be a rather curious place to end up, and in any event, I think it is a place well short of the standard, traditional an-cap style proposal.

But first we'd have to clear some groundwork to get a grip on exactly what they're actually proposing. We might ask something like: What is it that's so desirable that you're proposing, that would be so different institutionally from the way things are now as we know them? Why should we even care? What exactly is at stake here? If Objectivsts are told that what's at stake is the supposed right of private organizations to define and enforce the law, I don't think you're going to see much interest from them. That's *not* what Rand and Objectivists have been fighting for. And yet that seems just about *all* that Rothbardian types have been fighting for, as some kind of zany purity test or something.

Well look at me, I'm rambling again.

Stop the presses! Adults sighted.

mykestriker's picture

A shout out to Diana and Kelly, two O'ists with a difference of opinion, maybe. Low and behold, the two of them have interacted with each other in a polite and respectful manner. Hallelujah! Praise whomever.

Thanks, Diana.

User hidden's picture

That course is definitely on my list. I have heard very good things about it. While my mind is as set as a rational person's can be (always being open to rational argument, I mean) about unschooling, I really need some serious thought (and the serious thought of others) about government. I appreciate your suggestion.

Kelly

DIM Hypothesis

DianaHsieh's picture

Kelly,

Let me strongly suggest that you listen to Leonard Peikoff's "DIM Hypothesis" course. Anarchism -- like unschooling -- is a D2 position. They are thoroughly disintegrated approaches to government and schooling (respectively). LP's course might make the the serious, destructive, and common errors of both positions clear to you.

As it happens, the course is on sale now (through October 1st) at the Ayn Rand Bookstore:

    The Dim Hypothesis: The Epistemological Mechanics by which Philosophy Shapes Society
    By Leonard Peikoff

    This 15-session course--part lecture, part discussion--was presented live to a worldwide audience by phone and on the Internet. It is based on Dr. Peikoff's The DIM Hypothesis (book-in-progress), in which he looks at the role of integration in the culture and in practical life ...

    (22 hrs., 9 min., with Q & A)

    Audio CD; 30-CD set:
    Regular price: $310
    Sale price: $215

    Audiocassette; 15-tape set:
    Regular price: $265
    Sale price: $185

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

Lindsay Blair, good Lord!!!

User hidden's picture

Today I find myself making posts about bad behavior all over SOLO. Does that mean I am taking Phil Coates's place? Well, if it must be, then it must.

I would like to make the official statement that I don't know exactly where I stand on this issue. I haven't studied politics enough or thought enough about appropriate government to be sure what I think. I will eventually make a decision, but since I do give some credence to some of the things anarcho-capitalists say, I wanted to warn Lindsay B. to ignore all of my posts from here on out, as I am obviously a worthless human being devoid of any good sense and moral fiber. Far be it from me to suggest that he judge individuals on a case-by-case basis, finding out what their context is. Wouldn't want to insult him by asking him to consider any suggestion from a being like myself of obviously lower consciousness than his own.

Lindsay B., I feel sorry for you. If you miss out on me and all my posts because of this, you will have really missed out. Reconsider and stop being an ass.

Kelly

Alright

Capitalism's picture

I will take your non-answer and your bald assertions (insufficient data? How? What assumptions am I making that are wrong? Strange you don't say) as a statement that you can't answer the question. Funny enough that an-caps always seem to be quick with the abstract answers and the floating rationalism, but when asked one simple question, they get pissy and claim that I'm dreaming up "arbitrary details". If you think dealing with initiations of force is an arbitrary detail...

Honestly, I just wanted to know the answer.

Invalid assumptions and questions

Rick Pasotto's picture

If the (non)answer (silly Rabbit, evasions aren't answers!) by Rick Pasotto is all you have in defense of your ideal society...

You're the only one talking about an "ideal society". I'm certainly not.

You're so wrapped up in abstracts that you refuse to tell me how basic crimes like murder would be dealt with.

I'm not in the business of designing societies. I'll leave that to socialists and other statists.

Just answer the question (I'll ask it once more): If I shoot (and kill) you in an an-cap society, what happens next?

Insufficient data -- necessarily. No matter how many arbitrary details you dream up my response will be the same -- insufficient data. It is also the case that I am not a fortune teller.

An-Caps

Capitalism's picture

If the (non)answer (silly Rabbit, evasions aren't answers!) by Rick Pasotto is all you have in defense of your ideal society...

You're so wrapped up in abstracts that you refuse to tell me how basic crimes like murder would be dealt with.

Just answer the question (I'll ask it once more): If I shoot (and kill) you in an an-cap society, what happens next?

The Anarchist

eg's picture

The anarchist can't get there (whatever, wherever "there" is) from here without spilling blood and establishing a dictatorship. The contradiction is absolute if he's "for liberty." His claim that he didn't "consent" to the government extant and that therefore he is not morally if actually bound by its rules (laws) begs the question of what "rights" entitle him to. They don't, for instance, entitle him to a different system of government, only that he has the right to make a better government situation--but not by rights' violations, Jefferson's "blood of tyrants" blessing, regardless, unless it be real tyranny generally. And that's acually self-defense.

--Brant

"A Market for Force"

Fred Weiss's picture

The anarchist notion of a "market for force" rests on a stolen concept, since a market presupposes *the absence of force*.

Noting, as anarchists always do, that there is a market for private security is beside the point and an equivocation since these companies must operate under the restraint of the law, i.e. they are limited in the services they can offer, limited to protection/prevention and self-defense. They cannot engage in retaliation, i.e. they cannot become a law unto themselves.

To whatever extent they do go beyond the law, i.e become the law, then it is no longer a "market for force". It is simply gang warfare and there is no "market". It is simply whoever has the most guns.

Subjectivism

Thomas Lee's picture

I agree with what Diana said and would add one more point. To grasp the nature of a social system, you must grasp the nature of the ethics underlying it. Observe the arguments offered in favor of anarchism and then consider:

"When a 'desire,' regardless of its nature or cause, is taken as an ethical primary, and the gratification of any and all desires is taken as an ethical goal...--men have no choice but to hate, fear and fight one another, because their desires and their interests will necessarily clash. If 'desire' is the ethical standard, then one man's desire to produce and another man's desire to enslave him have equal ethical validity. And if the frustration of any desire constitutes a sacrifice, then a man who owns an automobile and is robbed of it, is being sacrificed, but so is the man who wants or 'aspires to' an automobile which the owner refuses to give him--and these two 'sacrifices' have equal ethical status. If so, man's only choice is to rob or be robbed, to destroy or be destroyed, to sacrifice others to any desire of his own or sacrifice himself to any desire of others; then man's only ethical alternative is to be a sadist or a masochist." (The Objectivist Ethics 33-4)

I submit that, stripped of all window dressing, that is a completely accurate summary of the anarchist's arguments.

To take just a few examples: what is the anarchists argument against the morality of a government? That it won't let him set up his own government. Why, if there is a proper government, should he have the right to set up his own? Because he wants to. And why should people know that he, who is arming himself to the teeth and is claiming the right to throw people in jail or kill them, is not a threat? Because he feels certain that his use of force will only be in retaliation. And what if others feel differently? Blank out.

Or consider the economic arguments offered by David Friedman. What is the status of a social system which says man has no rights that must be recognized, but rather he must bid on an "open market" for whichever rights he wants to have. And if he is outbid, say, by a group which says they have a right to his car, then he must not complain--after all, the result is "economically efficient."

The issue is deeper than ethics. Anarchism, and the arguments for it, involve the rejection of objectivity--particularly the social requirements of objectivity. The anarchist does not what to have to prove that his use of force is retaliatory--he wants us to take him at his word or else condemn us for stifiling his freedom to use the gun.

I believe the original comment was: is anarchism compatible with Objectivism? To begin with, Ayn Rand explicitly rejected anarchism, so by any proper definition of "comatible with Objectivism," it is not. But even if we stop at her theory of rights, anarchism not only is incompatible with Objectivism, but it--as much as any dictatorship--is at fundamental variance with it.

Free Markets in Force

DianaHsieh's picture

Rick said: "Anyone who requires detailed specifications as to what the market will look like in the future has very little understanding of what a free market is."

That reminds me of the old Marxist evasion of refusing to say what a socialist society will look like, so that it's not subject to the scathing refutations of past socialist schemes.

In any case, let's consider a case of murder. Under anarchism, two defense agencies are supposed to work out some mutually beneficial satisfactory punishment, say: a term of five years of working incarceration in Joe Bob's Private Prison, with all profits going to the family of the murder victim.

However, why should we even think that such defense agencies would arise? (Or at least that they would not be quickly destroyed?) Without a government ban upon the initiation of force, force can and will be used by anyone who thinks he can gain some advantage by it. That creates a vicious cicle of increasingly short-term living. Knowing that the stronger might plunder you at any moment, you can only plan for the short term -- and in the short term, plundering those weaker than you might not seem like such a bad idea.

The result would be a Hobbsean war of all against all. The "defense agencies" will be nothing but rival gangs. When one gang member murders another, the result will be retaliatory muders. Or, if the muder victim is outside any gang, his murder will not even be noticed.

Anarchists like David Friedman claim that economic incentives alone will create stable systems of private defense agencies, regardless of people's ideologies. That's bullshit. Two reasons:

(1) The fact is that people simply don't have long-term economic incentives outside the protections of government-enforced law. That's why the collapse of governments in places like Somalia does not create anarcho-capitalist paradises, but merely gang warfare.

(2) Even within the stable structure provided by decent governments, people routinely act contrary to their long-term economic interests based upon their moral beliefs, as in Muslim bans upon usury, businesses supporting anti-trust laws, and so on.

Anarchism is based upon nothing real. It depends upon rationalistic objections to government (i.e. that a government ban on private defense agencies is an initiation of force) and pie-in-the-sky fantasizing (as discussed above).

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

Who doesn't understand what?

Rick Pasotto's picture

Anyone who requires detailed specifications as to what the market will look like in the future has very little understanding of what a free market is.

Instructive!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Lindsay has commited the fallacy of ad hominem and Lance the fallacy of question-begging. But in essence they're both right! They've simply fast-tracked legitimate philosophical due process. One can't advocate anarchism for any length of time and be honest or even actively intelligent. Roy Childs came to recognise that.

I note that the anarcho-Saddamites have failed singularly to respond to this challenge from "Capitalism":

Under what an-cap scheme would there be any actual punishment for breaking a law? If you ignore a private arbitrator, is the justice for you that people MAY hear about it and MIGHT choose not to deal with you? And what about the party you wronged? Where's justice for them? And I gave an easy one; your partial answer came readily to me this morning. What if I shot and killed you in an an-cap society? What happens next? Keep it concrete in your answer, an-caps.

So, Mr. Riggenbach, Professor Roderick Long et al, please respond!

Lindsay

eg's picture

Lindsay: "Those on this board and elsewhere who advocate for anarchism are, in my opinion, so profoundly scatterbrained and rationalistic that there's no point in arguing with them, or paying attention to anything they might say about anything important.

"Personally, I'm taking note of who on SOLO gives the slightest credence to anarchism as sensible or practical, so that I can henceforth dismiss from my own consideration anything they might ever post."

I'm sorry your brain is made out of lead.

--Brant

Lindsay Blair

Lanza Morio's picture

Lindsay Blair, I couldn't agree more. There is no value in engaging a person once you've identified them as dishonest or plain crazy. Well said.

Breaking Protocol Somewhat

Lindsay Blair's picture

Sorry folks, I'm not in the habit of making statements like this, and I know that what I am about to say will be dismissed as not being of any substance. You're free, of course, to completely disregard this as I'll offer no substantive argument--but sometimes one needs to assert a personal evaluation or one will simply explode with frustration.

Those on this board and elsewhere who advocate for anarchism are, in my opinion, so profoundly scatterbrained and rationalistic that there's no point in arguing with them, or paying attention to anything they might say about anything important.

Personally, I'm taking note of who on SOLO even gives the slightest credence to anarchism as sensible or practical, so that I can henceforth dismiss from my own consideration anything they might ever post.

Such a person, in my opinion, is sadly not at the level intellectually that is required to understand important issues. Period. There is no way in hell you can imagine anarchy as even slightly sensible without engaging in the most bizarre floating rationalism disconnected from reality possible to a human being.

All those supporting anarchy: I question not only your reasoning, but your ability to think clearly at all. I question your honesty with yourself inside your own head, your intelligence, and even your sanity.

For actual arguments to support my anti-anarchist position, I simply refer you to all of the Objectivist arguments against it. If you don't understand and accept those arguments, then just loop right back to the beginning of my post here, 'cause I'm talking about you.

Just stating my personal evaluation here, for the record, if you will. Forgive me the form of this post, especially as I'm new to SOLO, but I cannot stand by in the virtual presence of such people and not say this.

You sure are!

eg's picture

Yours too, Jeff! Yours too!Smiling (Only the smug part. Not the other people part.) I speculate it's from well-fed intellectualhood. You only come here to feed--that's obvious! Bear-bait for the dogs of SOLO P. That's a better psycho-psycho-epistemology than Ross L's, who mostly comes here to barf, feed, barf, feed, etc. (Youse'd think a doc'd know better!)

--Brant

You're On To Something, Kenny!

jriggenbach's picture

Wayne's posts usually do have a smug, self-satisfied tone to them. In this respect, they greatly resemble Fred Weiss's posts (to say nothing -- and the less said, the better! -- about the posts of Richard Wiig and the learned J.T. Gagnon).

JR

Thanks for your vacuous

Wayne Simmons's picture

Thanks for your vacuous reply, Kenny.

Wayne

Kenny's picture

Whilst not an anarcho-capitalist, I consider your last post was very poor intellectually. It also had a smug, self-satisfied tone to it. The debate deserved better than that.

Anarchist Dogs Chasing Their Own Tails

Wayne Simmons's picture

I agree with Stefan, the consequences of Anarchist premises are alarming. Anarchists defend competition in the rule of law and yet fail to follow the logical consequences of their own premises.

Here are some foreseeable consequences.

Bitter disputes can exist between people. If both sides believe the other is dead wrong
- without a final arbiter - why would either side back down and allow an injustice to occur? And, why should either side accept the decisions of the agreed upon court? Whose going to enforce the decision?

A market in force would indeed mean better services for those with money. In an Anarcho-Capitalist system, what would prevent a rich psychopath (think, Patrick Bateman in the movie, American Psycho) from getting away with murder by being his own judge, jury and executioner? It's true that the current system allowed for O.J. Simpson to get away with murder. Anarcho-Capitalism, however, would make it an inevitability.

The Anarchists here claim to believe in individual rights. But, Anarcho-Capitalists couldn't even enforce their own rights theory because no one would have to agree to it. Like dogs chasing their own tail.

Some very good arguments. Thank you all for your contributions to this debate.

To begin...

Capitalism's picture

So, basically, the answer is is that for all your talk about how great private security firms are, there's no real room for enforcement of contract. Most an-caps I know have said they believe in laws. Under what an-cap scheme would there be any actual punishment for breaking a law? If you ignore a private arbitrator, is the justice for you that people MAY hear about it and MIGHT choose not to deal with you? And what about the party you wronged? Where's justice for them?

And I gave an easy one; your partial answer came readily to me this morning. What if I shot and killed you in an an-cap society? What happens next?

Keep it concrete in your answer, an-caps.

Thanks, Tim. Your point is

Ross Elliot's picture

Thanks, Tim.

Your point is quite crucial to the supposed problem of government funding under minarchism.

Kenny:

I know you're not posturing as an anarchist. But nothing I've said contradicts Rand's view of government funding, as per Tim's point above.

If anarchists are prepared to believe that individuals will be happy to pay thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of competing private security firms to protect their rights, why should they not believe that one rationally constituted government will be even easier to sustain?

Reputation

Neil Parille's picture

Rick,

Yes, I think reputation is part of the answer. Reputation is probably effective in certain business situations, such as the maritime league that is often cited as an example.

But what about disputes of a "one time" nature, such as when someone breaches a lease and the like? I think to the average "dedbeat" failing to comply with an arbitration award won't have much effect in such situations.

Objectiblog

Voluntary funding

Tim S's picture

A few years ago I built an economic model and worked out that the amount required to fund the government's legitimate activities
worked out at just 2% of GDP.

The government funding issue doesn't seem quite so problematic when you consider the actual figures required.

Ross

Kenny's picture

I can only conclude that you disagree with Rand who said, in her Playboy interview, that taxation should be voluntary.

I am not an anarcho-capitalist, merely trying to stimulate debate on the government funding issue.

Part of the answer is:

Rick Pasotto's picture

REPUTATION.

If you default, the probability that others will have any dealings with you declines precipitously. Think of credit reporting agencies on steroids.

It really puzzles me that people who supposedly understand the benefits of voluntary cooperation nonetheless think that in some cases they have to use force to get other's cooperation.

The most effective teaching method is by example. "Do for me and I'll do for you" is the way of the market. "Do for me or I'll cause you harm" is the way of thugs. Which do you want to encourage?

An-Caps: Answer This

Capitalism's picture

I want to concretize this argument briefly:

An-Caps: What if you and another have decided (ahead of time) to settle your differences through arbitration. The arbitrator decides: you win! Congratulations! Now what?

Well, guess what, your opposition decides the arbitrator is wrong. He doesn't pay. Even though he agreed that whatever the decision, he would abide, he does not. Who enforces this contract? Who enforces what the arbitrator decided?

Kenny, for a start, this

Ross Elliot's picture

Kenny, for a start, this site has only one principal, and that is Lindsay.

Secondly, if Anarchist's rely upon the supposed problem of government funding under minarchism, then they're barking up the wrong tree.

If the argument is supposed to follow the line: if government is funded voluntarily, then that's a clear mandate for private security firms to do the same job, then, once again, you have Anarchism's central flaw: it's failure to correctly understand & define *capitalism*1.

And that has *nothing* to do with the funding of government per se.

To be clear: whatever Anarchism might be, it is most certainly not capitalism; not within the context of this thread where Wayne has asked if Anarchists can claim to be Objectivists. Indubitably, no!

1as per my first post on this thread.

Neil

Kenny's picture

You raise valid points. I support Rand's position. There does, however, need to be a serious discussion on the voluntary funding of government as Rand proposed. I have not seen one on this site and the site's principals have not engaged in this debate. We probably need a separate thread.

Kenny

Neil Parille's picture

What if 1/3 of the population decided to contribute to government A, 1/3 to government B, and 1/3 decided to be free riders. Which "government" would be legitimate?

I believe that George Smith quoted Rand to the effect that government rested on the consent of the government. How would Objectivism deal with this situation?

Incidentally, a fundamental aspect of any contemporary government is the right to determine when and under what conditions it will be sued ("sovereign immunity") so as things stand now there is minimal reason for government employees to fear they will be held liable for acting outside their authority.

Objectiblog

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