Monday, September 13, 2010

Response to anarchism: answer 2

To reiterate, the answer to the first question was that a man had a right to intervene unilaterally in others’ disputes existed when those others were using or were about to use force because the principles being used or set up by those others had a clear implication for that first man. It is in his interests to see to it, in at least some form and with major caveats, that principles and precedents in the use of force that are too much at variance with reason do not get a foothold within the minds of other men who are frequently in proximity to him (usually meaning those in his society), because those bad principles and precedents could be used against him. What else they do, outside their use of force, is not his concern, but when they are using force it becomes very much his concern.

The second question was how such a right lead to justifying a single government that rightfully had the monopoly on the non-emergency use of force. Again, I am presuming that most people recognise their moral obligations to act rationally and live according to principle, whose application to the use of force is the basis for that right and is the main part of the caveats surrounding its implementation.

For those of you who haven’t already figured it out, this should be an “oh of course!” moment: an intervention in a dispute is itself a dispute that can be the subject of intervention. Another member of the same society has an equally strong interest in ensuring that how someone intervenes in disputes is likewise not setting up bad principles and precedents. The principle of grounds for unilateral intervention thus can and should be used upon other instances of itself: the right to intervene in disputes necessarily includes a right to intervene in interventions.

One should then realise that since everyone has this right, everyone has the right to some degree to compel rationality in the use of force upon everyone else. In practice not everyone is going to be rational all the time, and following their separate psychoepistemologies and automated behaviours when people let their emotions get the better of them, the result at first is a chaotic and potentially violent mess where everyone is unavoidably up in everyone else’s intervention business and where quite a few people’s judgements will be clouded by anger and pain caused not just by initial disputes but others’ responses and interventions. Given this result, where the only other option is that people pack up and leave, there is only one solution to the chaos: every adult of sound mind gets together and, independently of any on-going actual interventions, calmly and rationally sorts out an agreeable single body of laws developed from the moral principles that people should or already do prior recognise are equally applicable to all. Hello, government.

This is where Miss Rand’s observations on the need for and basis of limitations of government enter the picture. Rights are the means of subordinating society to the moral law, she rightly notes, and it is individuals’ right to intervene in others’ disputes that is both the basis giving individuals the right to enforce such subordination and the mechanism by which authority to govern is given by the governed to the government. When the rights to intervene and subordinate are further translated into this social context of a single body of laws it becomes a right to proscribe people taking the law into their own hands, which means expectation of abidance by the rule of law is itself rightfully the subject of firm law. And since the sole basis for individuals’ right to intervene is solely to ensure rationality in the use of force, this also sets the basis for the sole legitimate purview of government: protection of individual rights against improper use of force. All this is what leads to a single government authority, answerable to the people but separated from them in those individuals’ heats of the moment, following a single set of rational rights-enshrining laws and practicing rational enforcement of those laws by having the monopoly of non-emergency use of force.

We can see this at work in just that A B and C example. C can intervene in A and B’s dispute, but by the same token both A and B have the right, separate from the subject-matter of their own dispute, to question what C’s basis is not just for the dispute at hand but for all disputes in principle where force is liable to be involved. Moreover, A and B could have a second dispute regarding the circumstances of when C has a right to get involved, and so on and on. So, before any single dispute turns into a battle-royal the only rational thing for them to do when packing up and leaving for good is not a preferred option is to sit down and work out what each expects of each other in regards to rationality and how to deal with disputes. The result is a tiny embryonic government. (By the way, note that just because there’s three of them where two outnumber one this does not set up any principle of a two-thirds majority. This 2/3 is nothing more than an artefact of the smallest possible occasion when a third-party intervention can occur.)

After that, how governments should be constituted, the nature of jurisdiction, and the content of the laws they are right to make is the subject-matter of study of social institutions and philosophy of law. Part of that I’ve partially-covered in my Constitution series (which needs more work, and ideally much more meat for what I’ve already discussed, which is admittedly threadbare). It also includes the other part of the caveats surrounding individuals’ right to intervene: procedural rights regarding how people can demand that others enact their own right to intervene, which in the end becomes part of the civil rights possessed by actual citizens and residents in a given government’s jurisdiction.

I’m going to leave it there for the simple reason that I shouldn’t have posted the first bit when I did, because little of it had been written at the time and I wanted something in time for Round-up 164. Only too late did I realise my mistake there, worsened by other events and happenings that delayed me from writing – I am sure you recognise the rushed nature of some of this writing. I wont be making that mistake again, and will write *all* of something that I intend to break up into parts - for instance, I have a piece on fractional reserve banking (oi, no eye-rolling in the aisles!) coming along, which I will finish all of before I post the first bit. I may write more on this topic in the future, but in the meantime feel free to comment and question as you will. By the way, thank you, Gus.


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