Intellectual property rights

Tom Burroughes's picture
Submitted by Tom Burroughes on Fri, 2012-04-20 08:40

As I expected, the issue of intellectual property rights gets objectivists, and others in the the broad free market/classical liberal school really fired up. In my piece about natural rights, I briefly mentioned it, and it had the predictable effect. http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

I think this is a massively important issue to get right, precisely because it involves people who on 90 per cent of other issues are in the trenches, fighting the same side. And as an Objectivist pal of mine said to me once, ultimately, all property is intellectual in one sense.

For instance, here is what I was going to say in response to Shayne and others, but here it is here:

"Shayne, your locus of interference point is one point of the issue that really matters, because for some classical liberals, the only real defence of property rights they give is the "non-initiation-of-force" principle, which relates to the "physical property is scarce, so we have to resolve boundary disputes", version."

But remember that for Rand, and those in that broad tradition including Locke, Rothbard, Spooner , and so on, it was the need to have secure protection for the things/inventions/creations that one has produced by mental/physical effort that is the key for justifying IP. (The objectivist writer Greg Perkins gives such a defence. http://www.philosophyinaction....)

And the reason for such protection is that property is central to the means by which man can survive and flourish. It is not just about resolving boundary disputes, but about LIFE.

However, I do think the independent inventor issue is a very difficult one for the defence of patents, which is why I would like to see Michael's comments on it. After all, taking up the point made by Greg Perkins, if I have the right to produce and create to sustain my life, the fact that the things I devise might have been invented also by someone else, hundreds of miles away, say, is irrelevant. I am not taking from him because - and this is the kicker - ideas are not diminished when they are held in the heads of more than one person. Quite the opposite.

Now IP defenders will say, "Well, the guy should have checked the patent records first, just as if a property developer in the condo business should have checked the title deeds". But is that really going to work? For example, a key definition of a patentable invention is that it should be "non-obvious", but I read about how a lot of actually pretty obvious stuff can get patented, or at least people attempt to do so. And in the software business, it appears that a lot of very similar things are patented, and in vast numbers, all the time. Keeping track of this is a serious headache and one key requirement for a good, coherent legal system is that it should be easy to understand, not a bewildering mass.

Now I think I'd like to see this issue resolved, or debated out, because it is a real bugbear for me and I don't see an easy way out yet.


Shayne

Brant Gaede's picture

Can you even comprehend what you yourself wrote?

I have nothing more to say here.

--Brant

Brant

Shayne Wissler's picture

No insult was intended. You did say you saw no practicality in debates about the theory at hand. If you think it's an insult for me to recognize that, then you insulted yourself.

stop

Brant Gaede's picture

I was talking about the anarchist-minarchist debate. Period. I don't appreciate being introduced to your smorgasbord of insults as if they had anything to do with me.

--Brant

OK Brant

Shayne Wissler's picture

OK Brant, I misunderstood your comments.

I tend to avoid these debates because I see no practicality in them.

I think you underestimate the power of reason. However, most everyone else does too, which makes you right in a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of way: if only a tiny fraction of humanity cares about political truth, then by the nature of the political enterprise, it would seem to be beside the point to know what it is. On the other hand, truth has a way of winning in the long run. The run may be too long for you to care about though.

Shayne

Brant Gaede's picture

I no longer call myself an Objectivist. Too much baggage.

I have no argument with the anarchist point you are specifying. But it's competing ideas behind those political associations. The way you put it, it's the anarchists way of presenting their ideas referencing and focused on individual rights.

That's my primary orientation too. Not the Objectivist ethics behind the rights because for me, now, there's no commonality there with rights' protection advocates who object to those ethics. Never mind the logic of the philosophy. I'm not going to shun an apparent altruist who is a passionate advocate of individual rights. Rand blew off the conservatives leaving them in the hands of Buckley and Kirk, not advocates of rights. She was less harsh with the liberals, but they provided fewer converts. I think Edith Efron was the most prominent one. I can't think of any outstanding conservatives these days who are rights' advocates. It's like rights and America never happened.

I tend to avoid these debates because I see no practicality in them. I start with what we have and try to find ways to make it better. We have government with a legal monopoly on force. On force, not rights. If I act in self defense, which is a right, what I can do and not do is specified in law, if properly done, to protect the rights of whomever is involved. Rand was extremely weak here. I think it was her leftover Europeanism. It's as if she never quite became fully American and I don't think she could have because of the cultural influences of her youth. She did an outstanding job of transcending the intellectual ones. In fact, that way she became more American than most Americans by far, going back to the country's founding. She would have been a radical's radical even then.

--Brant

Brant

Shayne Wissler's picture

But why would his specifications be honored instead of mine, yours and Atilla the Hun's?

The anarchist's point is that your or his right to form whatever political associations you want should be honored unless you threaten or violate the rights of others.

I don't understand why this question is so difficult or why you/Linz can't/won't address the anarchist position in a principled manner.

Of course, the only reason I'm posing the anarchist argument is because I've *never* seen an Objectivist actually deal with the anarchist position, and I'm curious. Alas, my curiosity is never satisfied and I should learn my lesson. Objectivists are just pragmatists, nothing more -- in spite of their protestations to the contrary.

Well, Shayne

Brant Gaede's picture

For our purposes we can ignore the "military" although militia was blessed by the founding fathers but having a tough time being respected today. We can go with police and legal system backing it up.

I am ignorant of Rothbard's specifications. If they were in his Liberty book I read decades ago I've forgotten them.

But why would his specifications be honored instead of mine, yours and Atilla the Hun's?

We are building a hypothetical society with governance from scratch. First we have competing philosophies, the winner makes the laws. Hence, the winner achieves a legal monopoly. Let's say this government does a damn good job of protecting human rights. Not perfect, only 99% perfect.

You have to be really dumb to waste your life and treasure setting up a competing government. That would be like me trying to create a brand name stronger than Coke--the world's strongest brand name. Instead I'd make a very good drink that Coke would buy out and distribute in its vast distribution system and I'd go do another thing. In the reigning government monopoly I'd create an idea for a new law that would make the government more perfect and sell it to the country hoping they'd buy it. It's all about competing ideas, not governments--if we start from scratch. I don't go to the Coke distribution system in Wyoming and say I've got a better drink so shut down or let me take you over or I'll open fire and burn you down. I also don't try to sell my stuff calling it "Coke." Not my property.

There is no reason, however, why there cannot be private security and arbitration, etc. One of your very big things is patents. Well, you don't set up a competing government, except maybe abroad but we're not talking abroad--yet, you go out into intellectual land and sell your idea. Even in today's U.S.A.

--Brant
anarchists want the political philosophy without the foundational philosophy so they chase their imagined minachists around and around their circus ring

Brant

Shayne Wissler's picture

Suppose Kinsella and his tribe set up shop in Wyoming, creating some locale of "competing governments", complete with police, military, and legal defense agencies designed per Rothbard's specifications. Either the Randian Federal Government would come in and smash them or not. If not, then presumably from their point of view the RFG is anarchist and they don't care. In which case I don't know why Rand would have a quarrel with anarchism. It's no skin off her nose what some yokels in Wyoming do.

So what do you say? Does the RFG smash them, or not?

How?

Brant Gaede's picture

I don't exactly get your number 2, Shayne. Her government doesn't exist so how would this hypothetical destruction work out in real life respecting a monopoly on retaliatory force--self defense is both a right and a legally sanctioned right--governed by law. In a free society law governs the government. It's not competing governments, it would be competing philosophies of law. The best philosophy is adopted for the sake of the best laws. You can take several philosophies and take some from each, but you'll end up with one. No philosophy and no one understands human rights respected by individuals and protected by law. When governments compete--not laws, governments--it is ipso-facto war. In your structure the winning government in that war is wrong even if Randian, but what if the other government wins instead? Wrong then, too?

--Brant

Randian government

Shayne Wissler's picture

The Randian government is:

1. No compulsory tax. Anarchists would be fine with this.

2. Any governments with jurisdictions overlapping hers are violently destroyed, even when those governments are rights-respecting. Anarchists would not be fine with this. The question at hand is: what moral principle permits the Randian government to destroy these other governments?

?

Shayne Wissler's picture

Their appeal will be in vain if there's no rights-protecting agency to pitch it to.

The point is that they seek to form a rights-protecting agency, but your government would smash them for it.

Shayne

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Please explain how "wannabe authorities" is insulting or dismissive. It refers to people who aspire to be in government.

You say, on Mr Kinsella's behalf:

They appeal to their personal right of self defense and freedom of association, which you abridge without appeal to any principle whatsoever, as I have already noted.

Their appeal will be in vain if there's no rights-protecting agency to pitch it to.

Ethics precedes politics

Shayne Wissler's picture

Shayne was going off on a tangent on your behalf with all this stuff about secession.

It's not fundamentally about secession. It's about the right to self-defense and the freedom of association. At root, that's what the anarchists seem to be calling for.

I also agree with her principle that a free country has the right—the right, but not the duty—to liberate a slave pen. But I don't care to relitigate particular conflicts like the Civil War on this occasion—it's a diversion.

I agree with everything you say here. At best Kinsella is muddling the issue.

Mr Kinsella

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I thought the debate was, or had become, about the legitimacy or otherwise of government, and that Shayne was going off on a tangent on your behalf with all this stuff about secession. For reasons I outlined in my article I agree with Rand's view of government. I have not seen those reasons rebutted.

I also agree with her principle that a free country has the right—the right, but not the duty—to liberate a slave pen. But I don't care to relitigate particular conflicts like the Civil War on this occasion—it's a diversion.

Randian insults

Shayne Wissler's picture

Now I know you're notoriously touchy,

Speak of the devil.

but I can't for the life of me see how even you could detect an insult in what I said.

I wasn't referring to you insulting me, but rather to your Rand-like dismissal of "wannabe authorities" without appealing to any kind of principle -- see her insulting dismissal of anarchists. I don't mind the insults per se, but when the insult doesn't come along with a principled argument it falls flat. Characteristically Randian. Of course, you see Kinsella doing the same all over the place. I don't know why he complains about Objectivists.

The advocates of competing governments have not explained what would bind these governments to the upholding of individual rights.

Their case is simple. They appeal to their personal right of self defense and freedom of association, which you abridge without appeal to any principle whatsoever, as I have already noted.

You seem reluctant to state your position.

If you don't find your lack of appeal to principle troubling, nothing I have to say on the matter would be of any consequence to you. As I said before, primarily I advocate reason -- I'd like to see a rational, principled discussion -- so where reason is absent, everything else I find to be pointless.

right to secede

kinsella's picture

Linz: "I do believe in the right of states to secede in the interests of freedom if the union has become despotic, as it has. I have a New Hampshire Live Free or Die T-shirt. I do not believe in the right to secede in order to establish, say, an Islamofascist theocracy."

Well, the question is not the right to secede--states have no rights at all. But the question is whether a given state (say, the USA) has the moral and legal right to use force to STOP a subsidiary state from seceding. That is the only question: did Lincoln have the right to invade the CSA? Sure, the CSA had slavery. Does this give the USA the constitutional and moral right to go to war against the other country? What about the 100 other countries out there that are less liberal than the USA? Is war justified there? With all it involves--? Conscription (slavery, murder), inflation, taxation, violation of civil liberties, police state, centralization, murder of civilians, collectivism, propaganda, state lies, mass destruction of wealth and property... The question is when THIS is justified, not when a subsidiary unit is "justified" in seceding. The latter is justified de facto when the bigger state has no right to stop it.

Shayne

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You quote me as beginning:

The advocates of competing authorities don't explain what it is [that] would bind these wannabe authorities ...

... and then comment:

Ah, the Randian insult in place of a rational argument. You see, this is what anarchists are going on about, and why Objectivism has no credibility with them. There is just absolutely no way anything you're saying would matter to them in the slightest, except as humor and comfort that they've chosen the correct view

Now I know you're notoriously touchy, but I can't for the life of me see how even you could detect an insult in what I said. Anyway, here's my complete sentence:

The advocates of competing authorities don't explain what it is would bind these wannabe authorities to the upholding of individual rights, if not the kind of agency they abhor. Precisely the point, if I'm not mistaken, that Roy Childs came to acknowledge.

The sentence stands. The advocates of competing governments have not explained what would bind these governments to the upholding of individual rights.

I'm still unclear as to whether you are an advocate of competing governments, Shayne. You seem reluctant to state your position.

I do believe in the right of states to secede in the interests of freedom if the union has become despotic, as it has. I have a New Hampshire Live Free or Die T-shirt. I do not believe in the right to secede in order to establish, say, an Islamofascist theocracy. What do you believe on this matter, Shayne?

"who cares" #2

Shayne Wissler's picture

The principle at issue is: every individual has a natural right of self defense.

If you walk into my home, and as a condition of doing so, I say "remove your holster and lock up your guns before entering", you can choose to do that or not, but you can't rightly enter without complying. That's because it's *my* house.

Your implicit position Linz is that governments own the entire world and rightly tell citizens to remove their metaphorical "guns", but in this case they aren't necessarily actual guns (sometimes they are though), they are associations created for the common defense, which are only just more organized exercise of the natural right of defense. If you believe in the natural right to defend oneself, and to create associations, then I don't see how this belief squares with your belief that anarchism is false. Now, if you have probable cause to say that someone is organizing a criminal gang, then we would both agree that you can rightly dismantle that association. But merely creating such an association can't count as probable cause.

So your position Linz is that you can rightly start a war on such an association, but you have not specified the principle that justifies your starting this war. The whine "but letting it exist would lead to gang warfare" certainly can't be an answer, precisely because the person initiating the gang warfare would be yourself and others of your mindset. Actions speak louder than words. Clearly, you *advocate* gang warfare, while at the same time you merely *claim* to be opposed to it. This would appear to be hypocrisy.

Again, the anarchist position is not my view, my point is that you have not even come close to answering their criticisms.

"who cares"??

Shayne Wissler's picture

As long as this authority protects individual rights, who cares?

You mean, after they've murdered/imprisoned anyone who disagrees with their claim of a monopoly?

You still haven't answered my questions regarding secession. In fact, none of your answers are appealing to any kind of principle at all.

The advocates of competing authorities don't explain what it is would bind these wannabe authorities

Ah, the Randian insult in place of a rational argument. You see, this is what anarchists are going on about, and why Objectivism has no credibility with them. There is just absolutely no way anything you're saying would matter to them in the slightest, except as humor and comfort that they've chosen the correct view.


to the upholding of individual rights, if not the kind of agency they abhor. Precisely the point, if I'm not mistaken, that Roy Childs came to acknowledge.

You're reading a lot into what he said. And the principle seems clear: if the right to govern emerges from living human beings, then it follows that a locale should have the right to secede, all the way down to a single individual in fact. Would you as an individualist submit yourself to be governed by some random person who *claims* to want to protect you? Why is he any more trustworthy or deserving than you? If there were two, ten, or ten million, how does this change anything? And there are more practical issues, because in reality we have no rights-respecting government anywhere. So shouldn't secession be all the more appropriate? Why or why not?

Note: secession is not anarchy. The US seceded from England, that wasn't anarchy, that was self-governance. Evidently you'd support that, but you don't support NH seceding for similar reasons? Why does it matter where the home office is?

So Shayne, what's your position?

My position is that human beings should be rational and principled. Relative to the argument at hand, I deem you and Kinsella to be neither. You know, it's OK to say you don't know the answer. That counts as rational and principled.

Shayne

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The issue concerns monopoly, and in particular, when the legitimacy of this monopoly is disputed. We are trying to identify precisely why some subset of humankind may declare for all of humankind in a given territory what authority will have this overarching power of governance.

As long as this authority protects individual rights, who cares? The advocates of competing authorities don't explain what it is that would bind these wannabe authorities to the upholding of individual rights, if not the kind of agency they abhor. Precisely the point, if I'm not mistaken, that Roy Childs came to acknowledge.

So Shayne, what's your position?

ideal and real

Brant Gaede's picture

We have government. The question is what to do about it? All this other stuff is positing ideals and arguing which is ideal and which really isn't. While we talk, government continues doing what government does. It's not anarchist or minimalist or -ist, -ist, -ist. It's individual rights.

--Brant
statism is the thing we fight to stay strong--it's its passive virtue

Linz

Shayne Wissler's picture

"I take it these are now your arguments, Shayne, not what you imagine Kinsella's to be?"

It's what I think his arguments ought to be -- I'm simply making the anarchist case as I understand it, since the resident anarchist either refuses to do so or is incapable of doing so. These arguments against "the state" ought to be given a fair hearing and a principled response.

"As I understand it the American govt bought it from the Russians"

This begs the question. How did the Russians legitimately own it in the first place? How does "point and own" square with natural rights? Can a single individual "point and own", or does it take at least 100, or maybe 100,000,000? How does a magical power emerge from the many that doesn't reside in the one? Was Locke really that wrong in his "mix labor with land" in order to own idea? How about "point and own" applied to the moon, or to the planets? What are the limits here? Just how much can you legitimately own merely by pointing to or walking on a tiny part of, and just how many people have to stand behind you while you're doing it?

"They are not instances of "two virginal fully-formed governments suddenly find[ing] themselves laying claim in blameless good faith to jurisdiction over the same area,"

I find your criteria a little too convenient to your case and deem you failing in a response to the original point.

" But I'm puzzled as to how this bears on the desirability or otherwise of an agency set up to be a referee and enforce the rights-protecting rules (NIOF)."

The issue concerns monopoly, and in particular, when the legitimacy of this monopoly is disputed. We are trying to identify precisely why some subset of humankind may declare for all of humankind in a given territory what authority will have this overarching power of governance.

Shayne

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Historic disputes always have a history, which the parties relitigate (and often go to war over). They are not instances of "two virginal fully-formed governments suddenly find[ing] themselves laying claim in blameless good faith to jurisdiction over the same area," which seemed to be the components of your original scenario.

You say territorial disputes are an "inherent[!] problem of emerging governments," and cite Alaska. As I understand it the American govt bought it from the Russians. They didn't go to war over it. But I'm puzzled as to how this bears on the desirability or otherwise of an agency set up to be a referee and enforce rights-protecting rules (NIOF). Which such agency has jurisdiction over which geographical area is surely secondary? If there are complexities and competing claims in the case of Area A, does that illegitimize the very idea of such an agency?

I take it these are now your arguments, Shayne, not what you imagine Kinsella's to be?

Secession

Shayne Wissler's picture

Linz,

A related subject is secession: under what conditions should (say) New Hampshire be free to decide to secede from the US? Or should they ever be permitted to? Is the consent of the majority, or even of the entire population sufficient? What of the Indian "nations" that desire to secede? Should they be free to to take the territories they were given and set up their own sovereign governments? Why or why not? Supposing that you'd let NH secede under some conditions, then what if a city or small town wanted to secede. Should they be free to? What about a lone individual?

We can ask this question in the opposite direction. If localities are not in their rights to secede (including the smallest locale: the individual property owner), then why does not that logic not inexorably lead to a one world government? Why not amalgamate Canada and Mexico under one government, and then proceed to bring the whole world under a single government? Why does the principle of grand sovereignty of centralized governments happen to stop at arbitrary borders, why not go all the way?

Linz

Shayne Wissler's picture

"I simply can't imagine a situation where two virginal fully-formed governments suddenly find themselves laying claim in blameless good faith to jurisdiction over the same area."

Seems a commonly recurring theme throughout history, which has been resolved only by either war or threat of war (i.e., "might makes right"). I can't imagine how you can't imagine that territorial disputes aren't an inherent problem of emerging governments. For one thing, how does one decide just how far the territory goes? What ethical principle lets you lay claim to (say) all of Alaska, when in fact your citizens have only populated little dots of it here and there? If two governments on the same continent start to grow, eventually one of them is going to claim something the other one thinks they claimed first. And how indeed does merely claiming constitute rightful dominion?

Shayne

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Is this Kinsella's question you're asking me? I don't think the scenario need be taken seriously. Government's don't just emerge in a vacuum without a context. I simply can't imagine a situation where two virginal fully-formed governments suddenly find themselves laying claim in blameless good faith to jurisdiction over the same area. Is Kinsella really basing his case on such a scenario and the alleged inevitability of at least one of the governments then losing its virginity? I took him to mean that by definition neither government—and no government—can be virginal since it has relied on initiated force (taxation and the banning of any competition in advance) from the get-go.

Since Kinsella won't argue his case...

Shayne Wissler's picture

Linz, on your theory of government, what ethical principle grants one government in genesis the moral prerogative to broadcast its jurisdiction across a wide swath of land, precluding other governments from likewise broadcasting their powers?

Suppose for sake of argument that both governments are of equal ethical standing. So the scenario is: you have two virtuous governments in genesis, neither initiating force against anyone, and one government decides that in order to be "objective", it has to start the use of force against the competing government. But clearly, *initiating* a war is what causes the government to become illegitimate. So, according to your argument, it would appear that in order to be "objective", it needs to take actions that cause it become illegitimate, which is itself not objective.

Mr Kinsella

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I am saying that the state by its nature is aggressive. To be a state it has to either tax, or outlaw competition in a given area (usually both; but either implies the other). Either one involves the initiation of force. This is very very very simple and easy to see.

Your argument is clear to me now; that it is correct is not. My position is laid out here:

http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

force

kinsella's picture

Lindsay:

As a reminder, here is Rand, on one of the things she was good on: "So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate — do you hear me? No man may start — the use of physical force against others."

'Rand opposed aggression, in this sense [initiatory force]. see Galt's speech. The state necessarily commits aggression. what could be clearer?'

I'm afraid it's not at all clear to me.

It is to me. See above quote.

That the state often does initiate force is clear, yes; that it cannot help but do so by its very nature, even when constitutionally charged with, and restricted to, the use of retaliatory force, is not.

Of course it is very clear. I am not saying it tends to commit aggression, or is prone to doing so. I am saying that the state by its nature is aggressive. To be a state it has to either tax, or outlaw competition in a given area (usually both; but either implies the other). Either one involves the initiation of force. This is very very very simple and easy to see.

Mr Kinsella

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Rand opposed aggression, in this sense [initiatory force]. see Galt's speech. The state necessarily commits aggression. what could be clearer?

I'm afraid it's not at all clear to me. That the state often does initiate force is clear, yes; that it cannot help but do so by its very nature, even when constitutionally charged with, and restricted to, the use of retaliatory force, is not.

Kinsella

Shayne Wissler's picture

Kinsella, you need to be less concerned with your irrational emotions about me and more concerned with the questions you are evading. Your insults are not cover for your evasions; everyone sees what you are doing.

Again, according to you, would your "defense agency" in principle have the right to chase a rapist into other jurisdictions or not? If not, why not? If so, then how can you claim that your defense agency is not a "state", since it asserts its own laws on broad swaths of territory, just like a "state"?

I will have followup questions as well, that will reveal either that you are opposed to the principles of justice or you are not an anarchist. That is, should you decide stop hurling your pebbles, grow a backbone, and answer the relevant questions.

Aggression

kinsella's picture

Lindsay:

When you say:

the state is illegitimate because it necessarily commits aggression on an institutionalized basis, and because aggression is wrong on principle.

... do you mean that "aggression" includes retaliatory force, or that the state necessarily *initiates* force?

i mean aggression, which is initiatory force. Of course I am not opposed to retaliatory force. I have written a lot justifying the latter. e.g. my stuff on punishment theory. http://www.stephankinsella.com....

Rand opposed aggression, in this sense. see Galt's speech. The state necessarily commits aggression. what could be clearer?

Shayne:

The central question at hand was Ross's: would Kinsella's "defense agency" pursue the alleged rapist into another "defense agency's" jurisdiction or not?

This is not a "central question," engineer.

Will Kinsella squarely deal with these questions, or will he persist in acting like an anti-intellectual rock-throwing punk?

Oh, this is rich, coming from a typical brute-force know-nothing "engineer" who has "written a book".

Are you an anarchist, Shayne? Or a statist?

You ask that on an Objectivist site, where most members here firmly consider themselves neither?

And yet you just denied you are an objectivist, you ass clown.

Kinsella questions

Shayne Wissler's picture

The central question at hand was Ross's: would Kinsella's "defense agency" pursue the alleged rapist into another "defense agency's" jurisdiction or not?

If they would not, then how does that inaction square with the principles of justice? If they would, then why are they not a "state"?

Will Kinsella squarely deal with these questions, or will he persist in acting like an anti-intellectual rock-throwing punk?

Are you an anarchist, Shayne? Or a statist?

You ask that on an Objectivist site, where most members here firmly consider themselves neither? Does your anti-intellectual silliness know no bounds?

Mr Kinsella

Lindsay Perigo's picture

When you say:

the state is illegitimate because it necessarily commits aggression on an institutionalized basis, and because aggression is wrong on principle.

... do you mean that "aggression" includes retaliatory force, or that the state necessarily *initiates* force?

Shaynonsense

kinsella's picture

me: "the view that [government] is illegitimate because it necessarily commits aggression on an institutionalized basis"

"Shayne":

"Sheer nonsense."

Oh? the state does not commit aggression? really? Do you not believe that?

"Again with the purposeful misrepresentations. Why are you so dishonest? You know I'm not a Randian, I'm not a statist, and I do think the violation of natural rights is wrong in principle."

Are you an anarchist, Shayne? Or a statist? Please clarify. If you say the former, I will congratulate you, and even apologize. Whcih is it?

Nonsense

Shayne Wissler's picture

the view that [government] is illegitimate because it necessarily commits aggression on an institutionalized basis

Sheer nonsense.

I suppose statist Randians like Shayne think that aggression is not wrong on principle

Again with the purposeful misrepresentations. Why are you so dishonest? You know I'm not a Randian, I'm not a statist, and I do think the violation of natural rights is wrong in principle.

Grow up and stop this punk nonsense and engage in rational conversation.

Shayne on anarchy

kinsella's picture

"Anarchism is just shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic."

What a ridiculous assertion. Anarchism is the view that the state is illegitimate, and anarcho-libertarianism, in particular, is the view that the state is illegitimate because it necessarily commits aggression on an institutionalized basis, and because aggression is wrong on principle. I suppose statist Randians like Shayne think that aggression is not wrong on principle. Or they are daft enough to think that the state does not commit aggression. Which one is it, Shayne? Don't shuffle deck chairs on the titanic, which is my metaphor for the view that engineers should be careful of using tropes and metaphors (you can look up "trope" online).

Ross

Shayne Wissler's picture

Note that you've radically changed the subject from "rapists would get off the hook" to some general complaints you have about anarchism. This is not a very good way to have a productive conversation.

No, anarchists would not let rapists off the hook. That is precisely why it's not anarchism. They would implement jurisdictions far broader than they often let on. If the rapist escaped from their pretended jurisdiction, they'd just hunt him down anyway. I.e., their jurisdiction includes the entire planet, just like ordinary governments do. I.e., anarcho-capitalism is just ordinary government in different words. It's a scam.

As for their overlapping jurisdictions, that's irrelevant. What would happen is that the majority would tend toward one "defense agency" in particular and you'd wind right back about where you started. You can't escape from the will of the people.

Anarchism is just shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. Your choice is to either change the philosophical views of the populace or to give up, you're not going to fix political problems any other way.

let's not indulge in theory

kinsella's picture

Ross: "The current state:
-everyone within a given area is subject to the same laws
-if an offence occurs warrants are produced which authorise searches and seizures
-if the evidence proves that a violation of the law has occurred, the accused is punished
"

this is not today's state. first, not everyone is subjected to the same laws--the politicians, the rich and powerful, can often escape it; e.g. Congress is not subject to its own minimum wage law. Second, it is no virtue to subject everyone to the same "law" if said law is tyrannical and unjust. Today we all face prison if we don't pay tax or sell cocaine. There is nothing good here to laud.

Further...

Ross Elliot's picture

...let's compare the two systems.

The current state:

-everyone within a given area is subject to the same laws
-if an offence occurs warrants are produced which authorise searches and seizures
-if the evidence proves that a violation of the law has occurred, the accused is punished

Anarchism:

-individuals subscribe to authorities that best suit their interests
-an offence is committed -- yet the idea of an offence is in dispute since it may only be an offence within one authority's meaning
-the prosecuting authority demands the extradition of an offender despite the supposed offender's jurisdictional authority denying that under their rules no offence has been committed
-the prosecuting jurisdiction invades the supposed offender's jurisdiction (which may be coextensive with their own) to deliver them to justice -- this justice is wholly subjective since the supposed offender's jurisdiction may not recognise any extra-jurisdictional authority in the matter
-the supposed offender is rescued, by force, by their own jurisdictional authority
-repeat the previous step

The defining factor is the *overlapping* of laws within the same area. Indeed the very concepts of law, rights and justice are nullified since an individual may not chose to subscribe to any jurisdiction.

What part of this would not obtain? Let's not indulge in theory here, but in the way that individuals actually arrange their affairs.

Well...

Ross Elliot's picture

...this...

"Actually Ross you're the one with the mere assertions. When one government wants an individual in a different jurisdiction for a crime, they do something known as "extraditing." They have what are known as "treaties" in place to deal with such things. Also, if they feel that the other government would just drag its heels, sometimes they just pop on over and take care of the matter (e.g., the way the US got bin Laden)."

...is just a description of the way in which states operate now.

Except that you exacerbate the situation by having overlapping jurisdictions. It's double jeopardy.

"sometimes they just pop on over and take care of the matter"

And that's why I oppose anarchism. You get all the bad aspects of the state combined with subjective justice.

Yes, miscreants would gravitate to localities that suited their interests. Is there any doubt about this? And in order to bring them to account you'd need to engage in violence to bring them into your sphere of influence. This is the situation that obtains now. How will anarchism with its overlapping fields of justice be any better than a monolithic state?

You've already retreated

Shayne Wissler's picture

You are very clearly afraid to deal with arguments against your anarchism, so all you're doing is cowardly hurling rocks from the sidelines. That looks like "retreat" to me, but we all know the sloppy and self-serving manner in which anarchists define words...

retreat?

kinsella's picture

first you risibly say I'm retreating, now you say I won't go away. I'll be happy to if the owners of this forum want me to; unlike minarchists, I respect property rights.

I've "engaged" an unbelievable amount. Your claim that a-c's are dishonest, is just stupid. We believe in justice and property rights, and for that reason oppose the state. It's really very simple.

Engage or go away

Shayne Wissler's picture

Kinsella, you should either rationally engage and substantiate your remarks or go away. Otherwise you're just wasting everyone's time.

And yes, I'm saying that knowing that you will neither go away nor rationally engage. This slinging rocks from the sideline thing is very fitting given that you're an anarchist, so perhaps that is its own kind of engagement, in the sense that you're making my point regarding the character of anarchists.

anarchy

kinsella's picture

Shayne: " Either you're right and anarcho-capitalism stands in defiance of justice, or I'm right and it is just government by another name, in which case it is brazenly dishonest in its marketing"

nonsense. It's neither one. Only someone clinging to statist beliefs and guiltily trying to rationalize them would say such a thing.

Mere assertions

Shayne Wissler's picture

Actually Ross you're the one with the mere assertions. When one government wants an individual in a different jurisdiction for a crime, they do something known as "extraditing." They have what are known as "treaties" in place to deal with such things. Also, if they feel that the other government would just drag its heels, sometimes they just pop on over and take care of the matter (e.g., the way the US got bin Laden).

Your attacks on anarchism are a confused distraction from fundamental matters, and only make the anarchist feel more happy with his view.

How would...

Ross Elliot's picture

...the rapist in my example be brought to answer for his crime?

"If you happened to have a town with overlapping jurisdictions, then the rapist certainly would be arrested -- by either government."

That's a mere assertion.

Under anarchism, the individual involved does not have to be subject to any territorial agency. He is at perfect liberty.

How is he held answerable? He must be forcibly removed from his place and subjected to a search. What if he does not consent?

That's not a problem under capitalism since he would be subject to search and seizure under laws that could produce warrants upon reasonable evidence presented before a judge. But under anarchism, he could deny any judge had a right to submit him to such scrutiny.

How, specifically, is he brought to answer? By force? If he is subject to forcible action he does not live under anarchism.

Intrinsic hypocrisy

Shayne Wissler's picture

No Ross, there's nothing intrinsically evil about overlapping jurisdiction. E.g., international waters. The main problem with overlapping jurisdictions in (say) a town-like area is inefficiency, not evil. Good or evil flows from the nature of the people involved, not the mechanics of their government. If you happened to have a town with overlapping jurisdictions, then the rapist certainly would be arrested -- by either government.

And there's nothing intrinsically virtuous about centralized government, e.g. see the Nazis, or the Communists. Again, what matters is how decent the people are.

So you attack "anarchists" for the wrong thing. The real problem with anarchy is the intrinsic hypocrisy involved in accepting anarchism. The character of anarchists would prevent governments populated by them to be anything but corrupt. I think it would be far worse than what we have now because the hypocrisy is intrinsic; it is rooted in their corrupt political definitions, which are more starkly hypocritical than even the notions used to prop up the status quo (and that's saying something).

Mom

Brant Gaede's picture

K: If you can get Mom to read it you're a genius even if the book ain't.

--Brant

Shayne...

Ross Elliot's picture

...it's worse than government by another name, it's multiple governments within the same jurisdiction, that is, locality.

The rapist can't be arrested because he denies the competing jurisdiction.

Probable cause

Shayne Wissler's picture

Tom & Ross, I don't think your characterization is accurate. I think you'd take your probable cause to your "defense agency", then they'd arrest the guy. But it is either-or. Either you're right and anarcho-capitalism stands in defiance of justice, or I'm right and it is just government by another name, in which case it is brazenly dishonest in its marketing. If the latter is the case, it's strikingly similar to Marxism: the support of anarchism is merely feigned; the true aim is more sinister.

Indeed x 2

Ross Elliot's picture

Yes, Tom, and still no answer to:

"I have probable cause. My ten-year old got raped. I've got a semen sample. She can identify the guy who did it. My security camera got a good shot of the rapist running away. I showed the pic to neighbors and they said the guy lives up the road.

I went to his gate and asked nicely. He told me to fuck off. How can I require the man to submit to a line-up? I can't.

I publish the photo online and in flyers. But he's quite innocent. It's just a pic. Big deal. I may simply be libeling him for my own nefarious purposes.

Where's my resort? We shun this man? We don't invite him to the next neighborhood party?

No, I seek my own justice. I throw a stick of dynamite into his living room. He's gone. But his security camera got me standing outside with the dynamite in my hand. But maybe I've got a fetish for walking around with high explosives. It doesn't prove anything. I deny any malfeasance. Flyers, shunning, no parties.."

Anarcho-capitalism is a contradiction in terms. It's anarchy. It ain't capitalism.

Please

Shayne Wissler's picture

Stephan, just please don't let your "book" be yet another boring "scholarly" rehash of what your predecessors have said, OK? Anything but that. If we want to know what this or that person said we can read *their* books. If you don't want to write a book about the subject, but instead about what others have said about the subject, then please don't waste the paper, OK?

Book

kinsella's picture

I think at least one other person has to read it before it counts. Mom doesn't count.

"Stephan"

Shayne Wissler's picture

it is a demon

I rest my case.

I didn't imply that I don't know it.

Well, neither did I imply it. Now what was your point then?

If you are going to make dishonest arguments,

He says, dishonestly pretending that I don't know what "reify" means...

God, you're such an idiot Kinsella. Your pretense that you actually really know anything about political philosophy gets tiresome. You're just a parrot. You parrot Rothbard with intellectually feeble variations and you do little else. Can't wait for your "book" on political philosophy to come out, what an interesting joke that will be.

weak

kinsella's picture

"Shayne":

Stephan, if you don't know what reification means, perhaps this will help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_(fallacy)

I didn't imply that I don't know it. If you are going to make dishonest arguments, at least make them interesting.

Please, nobody tell Shayne words like deontology, casuistry, eleemosynary, etc., or he'll start sprinkling them into his strained normative writings.

In any case, I've yet to engage an anarchist who didn't reify government. Evidently, every anarchist is a disillusioned statist.

You are truly an idiot. I have never been a statist.

They started off believing in government as God, and wind up believing in government as demon.

I have never ever thought anyting like the government (the state) is a God.

The truth is that neither view is accurate.

Wrong. It is not a God, though people like you treat it like one; but it is a demon, in that it necessarily commits aggression on a widespread scale, and you know, aggression is "wrong".

Intellectual weakling

Shayne Wissler's picture

Stephan, if you don't know what reification means, perhaps this will help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_(fallacy)

In any case, I've yet to engage an anarchist who didn't reify government. Evidently, every anarchist is a disillusioned statist. They started off believing in government as God, and wind up believing in government as demon. The truth is that neither view is accurate.

Rothbard here is responding not to general arguments for the state, but to NOZICK's.

Hilariously weak. I know it's the best response you could possibly muster, but really, you'd have been better off just ignoring me.

Rothbard was assuming in his argument that a government that didn't start off "pure" would ever be guilty and in need of eradicating. That was the premise I was responding to, not whether or not Nozick's analysis was accurate.

moral basis of anti-statism...

kinsella's picture

Tom:

Stephan, I understand the moral basis of anti-statism - I feel the force of it, trust me and I know too many anarchists, (such as our mutual friend Jan Lester, for example) to realise that. But the case against anti-trust that Rand made was both moral and also intensely practical.

So what? There is an intellectual divsion of labor. Not every person needs to do both. But that said, there is a huge literature on the practical aspects of anarchy--see Hoppe's Anarcho-Capitalism: An annotated bibliography.

She pointed, for instance, the absurdity that under anti-trust, which was an arbitrary, ill-defined doctrine, a company could be "guilty" for prices that were "too low" (predatory pricing); the same as others (collusion) or "too high" (price gouging). In other words, she saw the serious weaknesses in the very tests that any would-be trust-buster might employ. And of course she saw anti-trust as an offshoot of a hostility to big business, to success, and so on.

She also saw that you have a right to charge whatever you want. HEr argument against minimum wage was similar (IIRC): if you can offer someone $10 per hour, or $0 per hour (not offer him a job), then you can't violate his rights by offering him something in between: say $1/hour. It is a moral and principled argument.

Just as ours is. You can disagree with it. You can disagree with me that we should always oppose aggression. Or you can disagree with me that the state necessarily commits aggression (and on a vast, institutionalized scale). But you should not, as a fellow libertarian, minimize my concern as being merely "uptight." this is horribly disrespecful and even wicket, IMO.

But the objection to anarchism that it is practically flawed, or at least difficult to work in practice, is quite different, in my view. We have plenty of examples of how perverse and destructive anti-trust is (Alcoa, Microsoft, etc), but do we have practical examples of ancap societies that endure, and which protect individual liberty to a high and sustained degree?

Tom, the objection to the state is that it commits aggression. Anarchy just means you recognize that the state is unjustified. IT does not mean we predict anarchy will work--anarchy just means "no agent of institutionalized aggression." I am not claiming "not having an agent of institutionalized aggression will 'work'". that is not the argument. The argument is that agencies of instituionzlied aggression are immoral and unjustified precisely because aggerssion itself is unjustified. What about such a claim do you disagree with?
If I said I oppose rape and crime bc it is wrong, it would be an odd response of you to say, "but you haven't shown that a crime-free society will work; first you must do this." I mean wtf?

Back to Nozick. It is true he did use lots of puzzles and mental games to illustrate his points, and yes, I was disappointed he did not respond more to some of the rejoinders, objections or questions asked of ASU after it had kicked off a storm in academia. Then again, I thought he beautifully illustrated some of the central weaknesses of arguments from the likes of John Rawls and egalitarians and redistributionists, as well as Marxians and the like.

Interesting I just saw this morning a discussion by a Cato guy of Hoppe's commentary on Rothbard v. Nozick -- you may find it of interst: http://www.libertarianism.org/...

Illiterate

kinsella's picture

I like how you drop "reification" every now and them. Must be the first fancy word you learned after you got out of engineering.

Rothbard here is responding not to general arguments for the state, but to NOZICK's. Nozick does indeed set out an "immaculate" conception of the state and rothbard is criticizing NOzick's theory. You obviously have never read Nozick. Why you feel compelled to weigh in on something you have not even read is a mystery. Wait, not it's not--typical engineer mentality.

Stephan, I understand the

Tom Burroughes's picture

Stephan, I understand the moral basis of anti-statism - I feel the force of it, trust me and I know too many anarchists, (such as our mutual friend Jan Lester, for example) to realise that. But the case against anti-trust that Rand made was both moral and also intensely practical. She pointed, for instance, the absurdity that under anti-trust, which was an arbitrary, ill-defined doctrine, a company could be "guilty" for prices that were "too low" (predatory pricing); the same as others (collusion) or "too high" (price gouging). In other words, she saw the serious weaknesses in the very tests that any would-be trust-buster might employ. And of course she saw anti-trust as an offshoot of a hostility to big business, to success, and so on.

But the objection to anarchism that it is practically flawed, or at least difficult to work in practice, is quite different, in my view. We have plenty of examples of how perverse and destructive anti-trust is (Alcoa, Microsoft, etc), but do we have practical examples of ancap societies that endure, and which protect individual liberty to a high and sustained degree?

Back to Nozick. It is true he did use lots of puzzles and mental games to illustrate his points, and yes, I was disappointed he did not respond more to some of the rejoinders, objections or questions asked of ASU after it had kicked off a storm in academia. Then again, I thought he beautifully illustrated some of the central weaknesses of arguments from the likes of John Rawls and egalitarians and redistributionists, as well as Marxians and the like.

Rothbard's confusion

Shayne Wissler's picture

You don't have to get very far in Rothbard's "Immaculate Conception" response to Nozick to find Rothbard blundering around in confusion.

Since Nozick's justification of existing States — provided they are or become minimal — rests on their alleged immaculate conception, and since no such State exists, then none of them can be justified, even if they should later become minimal. To go further, we can say that, at best, Nozick's model can only justify a State which indeed did develop by his invisible hand method.

This rests on the oh-so-typical anarchist reification of government. They do not understand that government arises from particular individuals and their thoughts and actions, but instead conceive of it as a kind of bogeyman, transcending individuals and becoming some kind of thing in and of itself. But this is obviously not the case.

Rothbard treats his bogeyman as a kind of unredeemable monster, who did evils in the past and therefore cannot be reformed in the future, and thus must be put to death. But the fact is that government evolves and renews itself day by day. As people enter it and leave it across generations, it becomes an entirely different government, the only thing connecting it to the past being the thoughts and actions of the people who wish to sustain whatever aspects of it they choose to sustain.

So no, we do not need an "immaculate conception" of the original government in order to argue for reforming government.

dismissal

kinsella's picture

Tom: "This is ridiculous. Again, I meant no insult. I wasn’t minimising anything"

Okay. I'll take your word for it. But saying we anarchists are "uptight" about the state seems to me to be a dismissal. But fine.

You may be right about Rand and evolution

Have you actually read Rothbard's critique of Nozick and the immaculate state? It's a great piece.

I urge you to read at least that section of Hoppe's Intro to EoL where he contrasts Rothbard with Nozick.

Nozick was a diletantte in that he would go after an issue once, and not return to it, and then go on to another; leaving no coherent systematic framework. He was good at razzle-dazzle, but what much else? So he showed that IF you assume there are side-constraint rights THEN the state can't do MCUH but it still CAN arise as a minimalist (but only ultra-minimal) state. So what is the point of this? To show that the welfare state is wrong? It can't, since he just says IF IF IF there are rights. So ti's all hypothetica. And does it justify the state? that is its main purpose, IMO; but as Rothbard shows, it doesn.t And later he expresses doubt about minarchy or libertarianism itself. So what the hell does he stand for? What was his philosophy?

as for your "practical" doubts about anarchy; you keep saying this, as lots of utilitarians and statists and consequentilaists do, as if you think it's uncontroversial that we decide normative politial questions by having people demonstrate that their proposals are "workable" in order to get a hearing. Rand didn't do this; for example she was against antitrust law NOT becaus you can show that an anti-trust free world is "workable" but b/c of moral reasons: business men have a RIGHT to use their property however they want, they have a RIGHT to collude and set prices etc, if they can get away with it. I always loved this about Rand. It is the same with the case for anarchy: the case for anarchy is moral: it recognizes that the state commits aggression and that aggression is wrong. PERIOD. The case does not depend on a positive showing by anarchist that an aggression-free world is "workable", only that aggression is wrong and that the state employs aggression. How can you not get this?--that this is our point? For you to keep answering "well I am not yet convinced that iti s workable" is an insult, b/c it acts as if you don't even understand the moral basis for our anti-statism.

Rand & anarchism

Shayne Wissler's picture

Rand’s fault was that she shut her mind to it once she thought she had established it was not practical.

I think it's unfair to Rand to claim that she merely thought anarchism was "not practical." In fact she thought it was wrong in principle. Worse than wrong in fact, as she thought the proponents of anarchism were "concrete-bound mentalities."

I think the actual case is that Rand had total contempt for anarchists and didn't consider them intellectually worthy enough to deal with their "arguments." I can see why she might have thought that. In fact, I think she may have been right about the majority of anarchists.

Still, I think she should have done a better job expanding on precisely how a political system that she would approve of could actually form while respecting the consent of all the individuals. If she had done so, I think many anarchists would never have become anarchists in the first place, and the rest would be viewed with far more disdain than they are now.

More on Rand, Nozick, etc

Tom Burroughes's picture

“Your syllogism is wrong: just b/c someone is upset at being disagreed with dos not mean they are miserable; and in any case, if you were rgiht, I guess your premise is wrong, since I am not miserable; far from it; if you only knew. But your premise is wrong: I am not upset with people disagreeing. But with your minimizing my principled libertarian opposition to the aggression of the state as being "uptight". That is an insult. It is an attempt to mock or minimize. It is unlike your previous decorum in this conversation.”

This is ridiculous. Again, I meant no insult. I wasn’t minimising anything - I simply agreed with Shayne’s point about a culture of a populace. Do you happen to agree that this sort of thing matters? Surely the prevailing political/cultural environment matters. This is why, when some political/legal orders are imposed from above on some people, they fail to take root. That is hardly a controversial thing – look at the missteps of the post-Soviet countries when they initially tried to adopt market systems.

“As for NOzick: he was a dilettante. See the Hoppe piece cited here, http://archive.mises.org/17383... search for razzle-dazzle. And Rothbard did destroy him:
http://mises.org/document/1179... do realize Nozick was not an anarchist, right? And in later days, he renounced libertarianism.”

By “dilettante”, what do you mean – that he was an intellectual playboy, lacking some sort of high moral seriousness, that he just played a game for the fun of it, or, horrors, was a swanky Harvard professor? He did row back a bit from his more hardcore libertarian views but I also read that he did not renounce the label in later life. And this interview is worth a look. http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen...

Yes, I know he was not an anarchist – that is precisely why I said he was a critic of it. And yes I know that Rothbard launched a famous critique of Nozick’s “immaculate conception” of the State, just as I also take the view that however attractive in theoretical terms anarchism (or at least anarcho capitalism) might be, I have serious reservations about its workability, as did Paul Birch, for example, in his analysis of a problem to do with restitution. http://www.paulbirch.net/Anarc...

I came across this discussion of arguments about defence agencies, showing both sides of the debate: http://www.enotes.com/topic/Pr...

My view on anarchism is that I have practical doubts; I do not rule it out completely, at all. Rand’s fault was that she shut her mind to it once she thought she had established it was not practical.

“I agree that it's not clear whether Rand disagreed with evolution or not. My hunch is that, if pressed, she would reluctantly agree that it's probably right. But reluctantly.”

We don’t know – and can only guess – whether her response would be reluctant or not. Given her atheism, it seems hard to imagine that she would be grudging about what is the most convincing explanation - so far - of life. She believe the human rational faculty was a great thing without equal from other animals, but that hardly means she would be grudging about the idea of evolution, I think.

Seriously?

Shayne Wissler's picture

Kinsella takes me seriously enough to misrepresent my views and spend large amounts of time interacting with me, but not seriously enough to actually point to a single view of mine that he thinks represents "shoddy" reasoning? Right. He's in pure spin mode. Maybe that's enough for his yes-men, but it wouldn't be enough for people who think for themselves.

amazing...

kinsella's picture

anyone who doesn't take "Shayne Wissler" seriously must of course be a "religious zealot". It just follows!

Zealot

Shayne Wissler's picture

Kinsella claims my reasoning is shoddy, yet can't actually point to an instance of shoddy reasoning without fabricating lies about my views... and he wonders why I call him a religious zealot.

principles

kinsella's picture

No, Shayne. It's b/c the quality of your reasoning is so horribly shoddy. Yet you were able to "write" a "book". Impressive!

Grasping at straws

Shayne Wissler's picture

Shayne, Like all positivists and engineers, you think having principles implies "religion."

On the contrary, it is because I embrace principles that I disagree with you. It is because you have none that you engage in dishonest smear instead of rational argument.

As for yes-men--you are totally clueless.

No, it's clear cut: you can't handle rational criticism. You are also extremely arrogant (e.g., your confident but wrong assessment of me as being "unprincipled" -- you do this sort of thing incessantly; you are hopelessly arrogant and foolish). I'm just putting 1 and 1 together. It can't be the case that you're surrounded by thinkers, because they would correct your bad behavior and it would change, ergo you must be surrounded by yes-men.

religion?

kinsella's picture

Shayne, Like all positivists and engineers, you think having principles implies "religion." You would think a failed Objectivist lke you would have a clearer understanding of the nature of religion, faith, and mysticism. You are clearly an idiot.

As for yes-men--you are totally clueless. My life is not miserable b/c of family, success, attitude, and so on. I don't live in a world of yes-men. You seem to think my side-hobby of political theory is my life. Moronic assumption.

risible

Shayne Wissler's picture

Shayne, your assertion that I have "retreated" makes you look like an ignorant ass, a typical engineer talking above his station.

You always retreat when your key premises are checked. That makes you look like a typical religious leader/zealot. Stalin had a "station" too, I don't think your kind of response to someone of no "station" criticizing him, or you, is very individualistic. You are an authoritarian. Like the quote I posted earlier said, "Every anarchist is a baffled dictator."

Also, Tom got this one wrong:

Stephan; if you honestly regard it as condescending when someone disagrees with your views on anarchy, then your life must be miserable. People disagree with me as well - I don't think they are condescending without working out their thought processes.

In fact, your life is not miserable on account of this, because like any religious figure, you are surrounded by yes-men. Even if they were inclined, no one around you dares question your core premises, nor do you dare to have a discussion about them.

retreat?

kinsella's picture

Shayne, your assertion that I have "retreated" makes you look like an ignorant ass, a typical engineer talking above his station.

condescension and arrogance

kinsella's picture

Your syllogism is wrong: just b/c someone is upset at being disagreed with dos not mean they are miserable; and in any case, if you were rgiht, I guess your premise is wrong, since I am not miserable; far from it; if you only knew. But your premise is wrong: I am not upset with people disagreeing. But with your minimizing my principled libertarian opposition to the aggression of the state as being "uptight". That is an insult. It is an attempt to mock or minimize. It is unlike your previous decorum in this conversation.

As for NOzick: he was a dilettante. See the Hoppe piece cited here, http://archive.mises.org/17383... search for razzle-dazzle. And Rothbard did destroy him:
http://mises.org/document/1179...

You do realize Nozick was not an anarchist, right? And in later days, he renounced libertarianism.

I agree that it's not clear whether Rand disagreed with evolution or not. My hunch is that, if pressed, she would reluctantly agree that it's probably right. But reluctantly.

I don't "damn" rand, much less for "disagreeing with me"--I am not a relativist, nor was Rand. I criticize some of her views as unlibertarian, because they are.

Nozick did introduce people to liberty, and so did Milton Friedman, who had his flaws too.

GG was anarchist, even if rand might try to wriggle out of it with some contorted argument later.

rand was good in formally condemning racism as a type of irrational collectivism, but she said much more horrible things about Arabs and Native Americans than merely some "off-color" remarks, and I do belive thse thought the latter basically were nomadic quasi-human savages that had little or no human rights, and that the West was right to conquer them by force to impose American capitalism on the US territory.

Stephan; if you honestly

Tom Burroughes's picture

Stephan; if you honestly regard it as condescending when someone disagrees with your views on anarchy, then your life must be miserable. People disagree with me as well - I don't think they are condescending without working out their thought processes.

“Her other big mistakes were here bizarre, fanatical opposition to anarchy, i.e. her statism, despite the anarchist utopia she painted in Galt's Gulch and despite the non-aggression principle she propounded which rules out the state.”

I am not sure it was “bizarre” – she probably had the same reservations about the workability of anarchism as some other libertarians do, even though the point you make about Galt’s Gulch is a good one. But GG was, after all, a temporary refuge from the madness of the world – I would speculate that Rand felt that that was all it could be, and that any extended community of any duration requires rules and so on, and was not sure about the durability of a world full of rival protection agencies for the reasons I and others have given.

This is not a popularity contest or an appeal to authority. And Nozick was a confused, backslidding dilettante. He was destroyed by Rothbard.

I did not say it was an appeal to authority and I don’t give a damn about how popular a view is as a test of its rightness. But remember, you have a habit of damning Rand for holding opinions that are different from your own (IP, anarchy, whatever), and so when I point out that a “dilettante” (that is pretty rich, given his great influence in helping focus interest in libertarian ideas) such as Nozick was unconvinced, it was worth making the point. (You are somehow implying that Nozick was not a serious thinker in any sense, which is outrageous and seems to be total crap, as far as I can see. And I don’t see that Rothbard “destroyed” him, either.)

“IIRC I was referring mainly to her supporters, e.g. Peikoff, Hsieh, and others.”

That’s a bit lame. A lot of serious Objectivists I know cannot stand Peikoff and don’t agree on things like Iraq, etc. Fail.

As for the stuff about native American Indians, if I recall, Rand made some pretty off-colour remarks once about them (she was probably ignorant) but that was hardly in the context of calling for them to be destroyed. And in fact her record on issues such as race, by the way, was pretty good. Indeed, I think she said that it was the most primitive form of collectivism. (As an ethnic Jew herself, she had reason to know, given the prejudice in her native Russia). While hardly an excuse for some views, I should note that she was, after all, partly a creature of her time when it was not unusual for white, westerners to take a condescending view of different cultures. But she was a lot better than most, in certain respects.

On evolution, you wrote that she "implied " criticism of it, but that’s pretty weak in terms of evidence. We just don’t know. What we do know from her writings is her pretty fierce criticism of religion. It seems at first blush to be downright odd that she would have been a creationist. There is no reason that I can see that her views on “Man” should be seen in that sort of light. As for her views on homosexuality and the idea of a woman in the White House, and her views on certain kids of music she disliked, well, we all have our failings. I also haven’t seen much evidence that she forced people to smoke, or insisted that they did so. That sounds like crap to me. According to Ronald Merrill, a person who spent a lot of time in the circle of Rand, smokers were often upbraided for their self-destructive behaviour by other members of Rand's circle.

Risibile indeed

Shayne Wissler's picture

Kinsella always retreats when his dubious and deeply held premises are checked.

Really

kinsella's picture

Tom:

"As she did not "get the underlying philosohy right" (otherwise she would not have been in favor of IP, or of the state, or her followers would not have been as war-mongery, or they would not have cultishly followed her ridiculous views on music, hair style, cigarettes, homosexuality, female presidents, and evolution) this is not very persuasive."
Well you disagree with her on IP, so that makes her wrong in your view, but not necessarily as far as many others are concerned for reasons I won't belabour here.

whether you or others realize it doesn't change it. she is not only wrong but very wrong, and fundamentally wrong, and it severely mars her whole political philosophy. IP is anti-property and is helping to lead to police-statism and increasing tyranny, as anyone with half a brain can see. Rand favored IP even though it undercuts property that she said she supportd, and even though her reasoning regarding "creation" and rearrangement of material things is opposed to IP.

Her other big mistakes were here bizarre, fanatical opposition to anarchy, i.e. her statism, despite the anarchist utopia she painted in Galt's Gulch and despite the non-aggression principle she propounded which rules out the state.

As for her support for the state, I have already stated why a good many classical liberals (Nozick, etc) are unconvinced about the workability of anarchism, so that hardly counts against her.

Of course it "counts against her" as she is effing WRONG. This is not a popularity contest or an appeal to authority. And Nozick was a confused, backslidding dilettante. He was destroyed by Rothbard.

"War mongery?" Well, as far as I can tell, Rand opposed the US war in Vietnam, for example, just as, by her support for Wilkie in the 1930s, she was hardly a supporter of aggressive militarism.

IIRC I was referring mainly to her supporters, e.g. Peikoff, Hsieh, and others. Though Rand had hideous things to say about nuking Russia and about the American Indian "savages". ssee http://www.stephankinsella.com... and http://www.stephankinsella.com...

As for the silliness over her views about music, smoking, and the rest, one might as well respond that some folk around the von M. Institute seem to be all Catholics or have dubious views about the Confederacy, but that does not mean that I damn all of its writers and writings.

Except manyRandians followed her lead on this and she justified all this on various extensions of her "philosophy", while Mises was Jewish and the Institute does not say that bieng Catholic is implied or endorsed by being an austro-libertairan--and people like me will just stand up and say "I am not Catholic" while you see Objectivists cringing about Rand's stupid pet crap made up into objective "values," while hoping no one remembers.

As for the evolution point, as I have pointed out before, there is no clear evidence that I have seen that Rand was against it.

She implied it in some comments. Not a surprise given her overwrought deification of "Man". She didn't want to think we came from monkeys or pre-monkeys.

My view about anarchism is hardly "condescending". I don't doubt that many anarchists have given these matters a lot of thought but I also think that Shayne's point about the views of the broader population are very apt.

Oh, bullsh. It is condescending, to say we get "heartburn" or "overreact." We hate the f*cking state for the same reason you Objectivists pretend to hate aggression. don't minimize or belittle our principled opposition to that criminal gang of thugs.

Shayne's comments are not apt, they are, as usual in this respect, risible. (He can look up the word, being an engineer.)

Really?

Tom Burroughes's picture

"As she did not "get the underlying philosohy right" (otherwise she would not have been in favor of IP, or of the state, or her followers would not have been as war-mongery, or they would not have cultishly followed her ridiculous views on music, hair style, cigarettes, homosexuality, female presidents, and evolution) this is not very persuasive."

Well you disagree with her on IP, so that makes her wrong in your view, but not necessarily as far as many others are concerned for reasons I won't belabour here. As for her support for the state, I have already stated why a good many classical liberals (Nozick, etc) are unconvinced about the workability of anarchism, so that hardly counts against her. "War mongery?" Well, as far as I can tell, Rand opposed the US war in Vietnam, for example, just as, by her support for Wilkie in the 1930s, she was hardly a supporter of aggressive militarism. As for the silliness over her views about music, smoking, and the rest, one might as well respond that some folk around the von M. Institute seem to be all Catholics or have dubious views about the Confederacy, but that does not mean that I damn all of its writers and writings.

As for the evolution point, as I have pointed out before, there is no clear evidence that I have seen that Rand was against it. Given her own atheism, it is hard to see why. Her views on science had considerable gaps, of course, but that hardly justifies the charge.

My view about anarchism is hardly "condescending". I don't doubt that many anarchists have given these matters a lot of thought but I also think that Shayne's point about the views of the broader population are very apt.

Consent is the key

Shayne Wissler's picture

This happens to be one reason why I don't understand why some anarchists seem to get so uptight about the supposed evils of minarchies or severely limited governments even when the underlying culture and views of the public are relatively liberal (to use that word in the proper sense).

Because they have seen what happens historically. This is how the minarchists claim the US government started, and look where it ended up!

What's needed is not "minimal" or "limited" government, but government that truly respects consent. Minarchists' arguments have flopped.

The anarchists think they have the solution, but their "solution" is pure fantasy. Anarchism would likely be far worse than we have now because it is a self-contradiction and anarchists refuse to recognize it, which indicates their inferior intellectual and moral character, which would lead to heinous results when/if anarchists ever got the power they most definitely want.

"Every anarchist is a baffled dictator."--Benito Mussolini

re: changing minds

kinsella's picture

Tom:

I would not dissent from anything you say here; and as you know, Rand herself repeatedly made the point that unless we get the underlying philosophy right, and a culture of liberty takes firm root, then things such as political statecraft are bound to be limited.

As she did not "get the underlying philosohy right" (otherwise she would not have been in favor of IP, or of the state, or her followers would not have been as war-mongery, or they would not have cultishly followed her ridiculous views on music, hair style, cigarettes, homosexuality, female presidents, and evolution) this is not very persuasive.

This happens to be one reason why I don't understand why some anarchists seem to get so uptight about the supposed evils of minarchies or severely limited governments even when the underlying culture and views of the public are relatively liberal (to use that word in the proper sense).

What a condescending way to frame the principled opposition anarcho-libertarians have to the aggression committed by the evil state that is supported by most confused Objectivists. We don't get "so uptight" about it. We object on princinpled grounds to aggression, as Randians pretend to, unless pressed. And the evils are not "supposed." They are real. And there is no such thing as "severely limited government": show me one. Give me one. Give me a goddamned state that takes only 5% total tax, doesn't stir up shit in other countries, has no empire, brings the f*cking troops home, stop outlawing drugs and capitalist acts between consenting adults, and you have a goddamn deal. But until we have one, stop defending the criminal regime we do have in reality.

Changing minds

Tom Burroughes's picture

"Changing the form of government while not changing the mind and spirit of the people is like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic."

I would not dissent from anything you say here; and as you know, Rand herself repeatedly made the point that unless we get the underlying philosophy right, and a culture of liberty takes firm root, then things such as political statecraft are bound to be limited.

This happens to be one reason why I don't understand why some anarchists seem to get so uptight about the supposed evils of minarchies or severely limited governments even when the underlying culture and views of the public are relatively liberal (to use that word in the proper sense).

Tom

Shayne Wissler's picture

You end up with a stand-off like two guys starting at each other down the barrel of a gun.

I disagree. With anarcho-capitalism, just with modern nation-states, there is going to be a strongest "defense agency", which will then have its way. Whether its way is the right way depends, as it does in our current setup, on the will of the major part of the people. If the major part of the people are deranged, the outcomes in these situations will be. Changing the form of government while not changing the mind and spirit of the people is like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

Indeed

Tom Burroughes's picture

The problem with anarcho-capitalism as I see it is in those cases - often the most difficult ones - where neither side agrees on the other's choice of legal authority. You end up with a stand-off like two guys starting at each other down the barrel of a gun.

Yeah...

Ross Elliot's picture

..."If you have probable cause for the claim that they are violating the rights of children, then by all means, present it. Otherwise it's irrelevant."

I have probable cause. My ten-year old got raped. I've got a semen sample. She can identify the guy who did it. My security camera got a good shot of the rapist running away. I showed the pic to neighbors and they said the guy lives up the road.

I went to his gate and asked nicely. He told me to fuck off. How can I require the man to submit to a line-up? I can't.

I publish the photo online and in flyers. But he's quite innocent. It's just a pic. Big deal. I may simply be libeling him for my own nefarious purposes.

Where's my resort? We shun this man? We don't invite him to the next neighborhood party?

No, I seek my own justice. I throw a stick of dynamite into his living room. He's gone. But his security camera got me standing outside with the dynamite in my hand. But maybe I've got a fetish for walking around with high explosives. It doesn't prove anything. I deny any malfeasance. Flyers, shunning, no parties...

Anarchist confusions

Shayne Wissler's picture

Yes, if he would not condone the use of force to impose his state on the free anarchist region, then that's all you need to have anarchy.

His government would "impose" natural rights -- if you violate rights then you *will* be forced.

The problem with states is they tax and outlaw competition. It seems like burroughs is against both of these twin pillars of the state. Thus, the state could not exist.

You can't wave a magic wand and claim that no one would voluntarily support a State that was dedicated to upholding natural rights. On the contrary, the majority would donate to an actually good government. Taxes are superfluous. Your argument misses the mark.

anarchy and the state

kinsella's picture

Shizzayne:

This is essentially an anarchist position, then. Good.

Nonsense. Just because someone genuinely believes in respecting rights does not make them an anarchist.

Yes, if he would not condone the use of force to impose his state on the free anarchist region, then that's all you need to have anarchy. The problem with states is they tax and outlaw competition. It seems like burroughs is against both of these twin pillars of the state. Thus, the state could not exist.

This is what happens when you come up with silly question-begging definitions of government (or "State") that are tantamount to "the institution that violates rights."

It's not question begging or silly; it's sober and coherent. Its not defined as the institution that violates rights; it's defined as an agency having a territorial monopoly over the use of force, law and justice. Once you recognize its nature you can then show that such an agency, as defined, necessarily engages in aggression--and, of course, as it's an institution, the aggression is institutionalized.

anarchy

Shayne Wissler's picture

This is essentially an anarchist position, then. Good.

Nonsense. Just because someone genuinely believes in respecting rights does not make them an anarchist.

This is what happens when you come up with silly question-begging definitions of government (or "State") that are tantamount to "the institution that violates rights."

Tom

Shayne Wissler's picture

I'd leave them alone unless they were belligerent.

Just to be clear: So what if they violated someone's patent or copyright? Then would you leave them alone? What if they refused to pay taxes?

By "belligerent", do you mean anything more than "violates individual rights"?

sci fi

kinsella's picture

Long's piece is very concise. He's great. I'm a sci-fi fan too, but not like him. E.g. I could never watch "Dr. Who." But I love some good hard-sci-fi novels, me.

Thanks Stephan. I'll get

Tom Burroughes's picture

Thanks Stephan. I'll get around to reading it in a while. Rod Long is always interesting - plus he's a sci-fi nut like me. Smiling

anarchy

kinsella's picture

Tom,

"I'm not clear about your answer: would you leave the ancaps alone or not? Would you assert a "right" to tax them or not? Would you assert a "right" to attack their "defense agencies" (if they were peaceful) or not?"

I'd leave them alone unless they were belligerent.

This is essentially an anarchist position, then. Good.

By the way, here is a pretty good set of critiques of anarcho-capitalism that I found persuasive....

I highly recommend you read Roderick Long's concise and excellent Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections.

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