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Hugo's defence of anarchy


Hugo

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To those who were debating the feasability of anarchy with me, I've started a thread here. I'll begin by replying to Eureka.

Majorities are never set in stone: they shift, as I said. Is that too much for you?

Of course not, but that was never what I was arguing. Minority/majority relationships can shift, but you should not base a political philosophy on the hopes that they will shift, and that the new majority will refrain from exacting a revenge upon the new minority.

Then, as I also said, Despotism is not the same as totalitarianism.

Princeton University's WordNet as cited by Dictionary.com says that totalitarianism and despotism are synonyms.

Totalitarianism

n 1: a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.) [syn: dictatorship, absolutism, authoritarianism, Caesarism, despotism, monocracy, one-man rule, shogunate, Stalinism, tyranny]

Regardless, let's assume you are right anyway. You have said

In the most despotic societies of the past, the influence of the state has been hardly felt by the masses. Totalitarianism, which is an ism that invades every aspect of civic life, is virtually a twentieth century creation.

This cannot be true because it suffers from the bald man paradox. If the difference between despotism and totalitarianism is the degree to which government "invades every aspect of civic life" then there must be a defining point at which a government has crossed from one to the other. Where is that?

Democracy did exist prior to that. Someone pointed to Rome.

I already dealt with Rome. I said:

Women and slaves couldn't vote. They also wrangled the electoral system using the institition of patronage so that the plebs couldn't actually elect any of their own, but rather decided which wealthy former general's boots they'd get to lick in a given year.
There are a hundred others.

Then list them. I'll make it easier for you: list just ten pre-19th Century democracies. That's the point you are disputing.

Democracy is also, as I tried to teach you in another debate, not limited to your simplistic ideas.

Then define "democracy" for me and we will proceed from there. I'm sure you're about to say something silly, like defining Athenian oligarchy as democracy in order to prop up your previous point, but the definition of democracy you give will be subjected to great scrutiny, so be careful and don't get caught in the trap of relying on very nonstandard definitions of English nouns in order to justify your argument.

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Don't just assume that I am right: the possible distinction is fundamental.

Despotism antedates any form of constitutional government. You will find it in ancient times before recorded history and arising out of the overthrow of semi-democratic societies such as Rome - pre- Caesars and Greece pre - Alexander. You will find defences of despotism in Thrasymachus (The Republic) down to Hobbes. Many of these societies had little relevance to the ordinary "citizen" and, were organized only on a supreme power institution where there was little institutional control over local potentates.

Despotisms may or may not have Constitutions: totalitarian states will have. It is the law that is used to ensure institutional control. in a totalitarian society.

Totalitarianism, on the other hand refers to the invasion of state control over every aspect of a citizen's life. It cannot, by definition be benevolent whereas a despotism could,.

Thesauruses are never adequate to explain complex political and philosophical issues - particularly when only half the entry is used.

Majority/minority relationships not only can shift: they must shift. That is simply human nature. Interests are different and society is made up of temporary coalitions. The philosophy of democracy is not based on hope but on the realities of the human condition and the needs of man. What ensures the democratic impulse in any society is the Rule of Law.

I don't see that there must be a defining point where the two crossover. If there were, it would be a subjective one. The difference seems to be that a despot controls through the ability to use raw power where a totalitarian "despot" uses the law and Constitution to justify his power and control.

There are. as a matter of conjecture, more or less primitive societies that fit the idea of totalitarianism. They are mostly founded on a law of superstitution and religiosity.

I don't think you need any listing of either since they are obvious and many.

I have already defined modern democracy for you, or my view of it. If you want to prejudge any other ideas of democracies bu saying they are silly, then there is really not a lot of point in writing of them.

However, Athenian "oligarchy"as you call it, was a democracy since it was based on the citizenry. We acn talk of slaves and other non - participating classes as evidence that such societies were not democratic. That, however, is merely a modern idea of democracy as it is now. If all citizens can participate then it is a democracy: a Participatory democracy. One of the six variations I wrote of and that so offended your understanding.

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What ensures the democratic impulse in any society is the Rule of Law.
Please define "Rule of Law".
I have already defined modern democracy for you, or my view of it.
Can you copy/paste or at least provide a link to the post?
If all citizens can participate then it is a democracy: a Participatory democracy. One of the six variations I wrote of and that so offended your understanding.
Huh?
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Dear Hugo,

the degree to which government "invades every aspect of civic life"
Civic life is different than 'private life'. The purpose of the distinction is that placing boundaries on the actions of 'civil life' is so that 'we should all play nicely together'. In 'Private Life', gov't should still play the 'benevolent dictator, or 'enlightened despot' only to a certain degree. That boundary should be defined by the instant that sphere is compromised by 'touching' others. Sometimes that 'touching' is good, sometimes it's bad. In no way could an anarchist be responsible for defining the boundary, unless they were a hermit, or we face the possibility of having 30 million 'nations of one'.

For good or for ill, that definition must be up to the majority. By democratic and gov't enforced means.

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A society is made up of shifitng majorities. There are majorities for one thing or another and any one person may be a member of different majorities and minorities at the same time. In politics, today's majority may be tomorrow's monority. On a de,ocratic society with adequate rules of law, the temporary majority will not trample a minority for fear of the role reversal.

This is how it read as I posted. Ot is not quite the choice of wording I would use but I tried to make it simple.

The Rule of Law, as I understand it, is the the principle that binds government and citizen equally to obey the law. Most importantly, it also prohibits arbitrary actions of government.

The Rule is the underpinning of any democratic society. It is, perhaps, the failure of the government side of the equation that has led to societies such as the USSR with its fine Constitution and totalitarianism.

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Totalitarianism, on the other hand refers to the invasion of state control over every aspect of a citizen's life. It cannot, by definition be benevolent whereas a despotism could

You have failed to answer my question. At what point does a despotism cross over into totalitarianism?

However, Athenian "oligarchy"as you call it, was a democracy since it was based on the citizenry. We acn talk of slaves and other non - participating classes as evidence that such societies were not democratic. That, however, is merely a modern idea of democracy as it is now.

"Oligarchy" means government of the few, "democracy" means government by majority, therefore, Athenian government was an oligarchy since the majority of people had absolutely no say in government.

I warned you against trying to re-define words.

Civic life is different than 'private life'. The purpose of the distinction is that placing boundaries on the actions of 'civil life' is so that 'we should all play nicely together'. In 'Private Life', gov't should still play the 'benevolent dictator, or 'enlightened despot' only to a certain degree.

No, civic life is not necessary for an ordered society. Where you see references to civic life, it's generally an excuse for government interference in private life.

On a de,ocratic society with adequate rules of law, the temporary majority will not trample a minority for fear of the role reversal.

This is not borne out by history. I'm sure I don't need to remind you of the ostensible democracies that enslaved people and denied votes to women, for instance. You also ought to consider that the "rule of law" in a democratic society is decided by the majority, so there is no guarantee that it will not brutalize the minority - as it so often has.

The Rule of Law, as I understand it, is the the principle that binds government and citizen equally to obey the law. Most importantly, it also prohibits arbitrary actions of government.

But government creates the Rule of Law. What you are basically arguing is that government, or the majority, will and can be expected to police itself. I think that investing arbitrary power in any group and then just expecting that they will behave and refrain from abusing it is foolhardy in the extreme.

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Hugo:

You really need to discard your blinkers. Thinking about what has been said and not what you would wish, for your argument's sake, was said wpi;d hasten the moment of truth.

I very clearly answered your question about the "crossover" even though it is not a valid one.

Democracy means the rule of the "demos" mot a majority of inhabitants of an area. What you call an oligarchy was a democracy. Please don't warn me about "re-defining" words until you can understand that words are symbols and your choice of a symbol may be the wrong one. (Should we do this in heiroglyphics?)

There are examples of societies that are governed bu the "Rule of Law": you are living in one. The Rule of Law is the checks and balances that is built into a democratic society. You do not need to remind me of failed societies or those that have not yet achieved democracy. Those are what you seem to think of as examples of historical failure of the Rule of Law. There can be no such failure in a democracy since it would be imposed by force or by neglect of the "majority" to defend its democracy.

You might say that the current American administration is trying it but not very sucessfully.

If you will reread my explanation of the Rule of Law, you will see that government does not create it. It is the underpinning of every democratic constitution and is not anyone's creation. It is a principle.

Government is chosen to protect that principle and to live by it. It creates nothing that is a principle and neither does anyone. Principles are, and are discovered or expounded. They are not created.

We can get into your strange ideas of civic and private life and your ideas of anarchism (which some call Socialism) later. First, though, I am concerned that you acquire some small understanding of democracy.

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If you will reread my explanation of the Rule of Law, you will see that government does not create it. It is the underpinning of every democratic constitution and is not anyone's creation. It is a principle.
Fine, it's a principle. But I still don't know what your definition of it is.
The Rule of Law, as I understand it, is the the principle that binds government and citizen equally to obey the law. Most importantly, it also prohibits arbitrary actions of government.
So, the Rule of Law binds people to obey the law. (Huh?)

It prohibits "arbitrary" actions. (Do you mean that "equals" should be treated "equally"?)

The Rule of Law is the checks and balances that is built into a democratic society.
You mean Legislative - Executive - Judiciary? These are checks on the power of the State itself. (What is the State?)
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Princeton University's WordNet as cited by Dictionary.com says that totalitarianism and despotism are synonyms.

They are not exact synonyms. Despotism is rule by a single individual who holds all 'legitimate' authority. Despotism may or may not be totalitarian, but usually is.

Totalitarianism refers to any type of regime which maintains that the state has total authority, over-riding all individual or citizen interests (if necessary). A totalitarian state need not be a despotism. For example, an oligarchy (e.g. the Communist Party of China) can be totalitarian.

Using a (perforce abbreviated) dictionary definition masks the subtle meanings available from proper usage of these terms.

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I very clearly answered your question about the "crossover" even though it is not a valid one.

No, you have not. You have said that despotism becomes totalitarianism when the level of state interference in the lives of the citizenry reaches some critical mass. I want to know where that point is, how you precisely distinguish between "despotism" and "totalitarianism".

Even where such changes are gradual and hard to gauge, for example in the change from childhood to adulthood, we set some arbitrary point at which we judge the change has occurred. A fetus is judged to be human at birth. A child is judged to be an adult at 18 (usually). I want to know where you set your arbitrary point, or if you don't have one, how you distinguish one from the other.

Democracy means the rule of the "demos" mot a majority of inhabitants of an area.

"Demos" is Greek for "people." If the majority of people have no say in government, how can you claim that that government is the rule of the "demos"? If you defined the rule of a few of the people, you'd use the Greek word for "few", which would make the word - surprise surprise - "oligarchy".

To call such a government "democratic" is as bald-faced a lie as the title, "People's Republic of China", in that it is a republic of the people in name alone.

There are examples of societies that are governed bu the "Rule of Law": you are living in one. The Rule of Law is the checks and balances that is built into a democratic society... There can be no such failure in a democracy since it would be imposed by force or by neglect of the "majority" to defend its democracy.

Ah, so your argument rests upon the contention that once a democracy does something to brutalize the minority, it is no longer a democracy. In that case, we have no democracies and never have had any democracies, because all "democratic" governments have done such things, for instance, interring Japanese-Canadian citizens, or drafting unwilling young men to fight and die in foreign wars, or denying marriage to homosexuals.

If this is your contention, then your democracy is unattainable and self-contradictory, because as soon as a government of the majority is created it inherently discriminates against the minority by excluding them from the powers of government, which would mean that democracy would disappear the very instant it was created.

To summarise, your democracy would destroy itself by the very action of coming into being.

They are not exact synonyms. Despotism is rule by a single individual who holds all 'legitimate' authority. Despotism may or may not be totalitarian, but usually is. Totalitarianism refers to any type of regime which maintains that the state has total authority

My original point was that the 19th Century was a period in time - in the West - when individualism briefly outgrew totalitarianism. Those were the exact words I used.

Eureka originally came up with this despotism vs. totalitarianism argument all on his own, in an attempt to throw up a smokescreen which he hoped would hide the fact that his contention about the 19th Century being a period of falling living standards was refuted.

Even according to your definition, totalitarianism was the rule before the 19th Century. I can accept your definitions of the two terms without negating any aspect of my argument. My original point stands.

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(Reply to Michael Hardner's post)

But why haven't other police forces liberated the Chinese people from slavery as you theorize ?

Probably because the Chinese aren't aware of their own slavery, just as you are not aware of your own slavery, and also because the Chinese state has a monopoly on power and violence.

The assumption is that there is another free state nearby that has the means to assist. If this isn't the case, then the slaves of the policed state remain slaves.

This was not true of Spartacus's uprising.

If the south had factories manned by slaves, then they would have had all of the advantages over the north.

The historical analysis, e.g. by Bruce Catton, was precisely that industrialisation made slavery economically unviable.

It seems to me that your original contention is that, in an anarcho-capitalist society, slavery might happen. But the same allegation can be made against any society with a state, so this objection to anarchy is not valid.

It's also worth noting that a society which desired anarchism would be necessarily devoted to nonaggression and Lockean natural rights, and so would display a profound moral aversion to slavery. Anarchists view the state as a slaveholder and this is almost always the source of their disgust for the state. It's hard to imagine this situation changing.

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Hugo:

You are hopeless. For instabce, I said nothing about a critical mass as a threshold. I distinctly said that there is no threshold. The societies are different in Institutions and philosophy.

Where you get these strange debating techniques from, I cannot imagine but spare me the imaginary statements if you do wish to continue.

Demos! Think a little! It is the people and the people governed in a Participatory democracy. Since it led to majority rule witjout the curbs of a modern democracy on suppression of minorities, it has been called the worst form of government. And it is. That is why it took a couple of thousand years to refine it into something that had the Rule of Law as a foundation.

A despotic society is one where all the power is centred in one leader. That is not necessarily the case with a totalitarian society as TS pointed out.

A totalitarian society is one with a philosophy other than power for power's sake. As with the Fascists or the extreme Communist societies. It controls all expression of opinion and dictates the economic and civic aspects of society.

A despotic society does not necessarily do those things unless you want to stretch your synonym. A totalitarian society is despotic but it is more. A despot can be the best government. That is why you will find philosophical defenders of despotism. But, a despot merely wields power and maintains order. If you are hung up on what despotic society is also totalitarian, then I suggest that you play around with the differences and come up with your own answers. As I said, it would be entirely subjective.

Where do you get the idea that I introduced this to divert from something about the 19th. century? Is there something that I forgot to straighten you out about?

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A despotic society is one where all the power is centred in one leader... A totalitarian society is one with a philosophy other than power for power's sake.

That's not what you originally said, which was:

In the most despotic societies of the past, the influence of the state has been hardly felt by the masses. Totalitarianism... is an ism that invades every aspect of civic life

Are you changing your contention? It's disingenuous that you would do so without explicitly informing us. It would also be disingenuous to proceed with an argument having first informed us of only part of your proposition.

Either you've changed your mind, or you were withholding information.

Where do you get the idea that I introduced this to divert from something about the 19th. century? Is there something that I forgot to straighten you out about?

There certainly is. You opined that

the individualism of the 19th. Century also did not lead to huge increases in wealth. It lead to the concentration of wealth and to falling living standards for most of the world

in response to which I gave a link to a credible source who opines the exact opposite and backs it up with plenty of research.

And then you never mentioned the point again, and instead started off on a tangent about despotism vs. totalitarianism. What would you think, if you saw this thread through my eyes?

Demos! Think a little! It is the people and the people governed in a Participatory democracy.

Which people? If it's not all of them, or at least a substantial majority, or with defendable exceptions (convicted felons, the insane), then it would be some of them, which would make it "oligarchy" since the opposite of "majority" is "minority" and of "many" is "few".

Since it led to majority rule witjout the curbs of a modern democracy on suppression of minorities

What curbs does a modern democracy have on suppression of minorities that it has not placed there by its own hand?

---

Is this view tenable though? Does the state in Canada act that way? I'm not so sure. Where is the possessive/dispositive element that would characterize slave-holding?

This can be illustrated by examining taxation and those government decrees of what the individual, or two or more consenting individuals, may do with themselves and their rightful property.

To begin with, if we accept Lockean "natural rights" (e.g. that I own myself, I own that property which I can obtain without aggressing against another, etc.), then we must have a right to our property, and only our property. We can do whatever we wish to our own property, but may not interfere with another's property without his consent.

If you don't accept Lockean property rights and don't believe that your own body belongs to you, then the rest of this won't make much sense. I'm assuming you do, however.

Firstly, regarding taxation. If I own the products of my labour, then I must own my labour too, otherwise those products would not become my possessions. However, the state presumes to expropriate the products of my labour from me in the form of taxation (it can also expropriate my labour directly, in the form of conscription).

Since one cannot rightfully take or use what one does not own, it follows that the state owns the products of my labour or a portion thereof. If the state owns the products of my labour, it must own my labour or a portion thereof, or the products of that labour would not be rightfully theirs. So if my labour belongs not to me but to somebody else, without my consent to its alienation, I must be their slave.

Secondly, when government makes laws regarding what an individual may do with himself (e.g. drug laws, same-sex marriage, motorcycle helmet laws), then this violates the same right to property. I can dispose of my property in any way I choose as long as it does not infringe upon another's right not to be aggressed against.

Taking the example of this computer, for instance, I don't have to make internet posts on it. I can use it for a doorstop, or pour gasoline all over it and set it alight - it's mine and I can dispose of it as I please. Similarly, nobody else can use it for a doorstop or set it alight without my express permission. But if the state can tell me what I may do with my own body, it follows that I cannot own my body, and the state must own my body, since I never consented to the alienation of my body. Therefore, if the state owns my body, I must be the slave of the state.

The two options are that either I am the slave of the state, or that the state is stealing from me. Either is wrong.

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Dear Hugo,

A 'despot' can still practice 'laissez-faire' and not use power unless some societal tenet is breached. As with a gov't.

If I own the products of my labour, then I must own my labour too, otherwise those products would not become my possessions. However, the state presumes to expropriate the products of my labour from me in the form of taxation (it can also expropriate my labour directly, in the form of conscription).
I have a bigger problem wth the waste of my taxation than with the taxation itself.

Under anarchy, you propose that there is no such thing as the 'needs' (or rights) of more than one person. In some ways, this is the 'extreme right' of the right wing, something I call 'responsible anarchy'. However, it depends on the 'voluntary' submission to the 'greater good'. (A functioning society). How would a road ever get built? It would be a crazy zig-zag of alternating aquiesence and revolt. There could be no stability. (If I purchased land from another 'anarchist' which had a Highway on it, it would be my right to close access, and another road would have to be built! Madness!)

Unless there is some sort of 'Grand High Anarchist Poobah' (or a gov't) to help and defend others against loss from this sort of action, there is either chaos or government.

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How would a road ever get built? It would be a crazy zig-zag of alternating aquiesence and revolt. There could be no stability.
Hugo will hit you down on that by suggesting that roads used to be private and some (eg. many bridges in the US and the 407 near Toronto) are now.

I would argue that collecting tolls is cumbersome and costly. This means it is more sensible (but imperfect) to have a single road building agency which assesses a "flat toll" (road tax) to all potential users.

But technology changes. It may well become possible to install a microchip inside every vehicle. Now toll collection is no longer so cumbersome and costly. Maybe private roads will be possible again.

Now consider planes flying over head. If airlines had to negotiate with each landowner overflight rights, the cost of negotiation would be prohibitive. One person could potentially hold up the whole arrangement.

For negotiation, it is less cumbersome and costly to mandate one agent to represent all landowners' interests. (All landowners would have to agree on the same agent of course.) Call the winning agent "the government" and call competing agents "political parties".

I could give numerous other examples.

Hugo is an ideologue Libertarian. Such people believe that the State is unnecessary. And in theory, it can be shown that indeed the State is not necessary to achieve perfect co-operation between all individuals in a society. But the conditions for this result are so restrictive as to make them of theoretical interest only.

In addition, this result also says nothing about what each individual gets out of the deal.

IOW, no marshmallows will fall in the fire but I can't guarantee that everyone will get the same number of marshmallows.

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Dear August1991,

I'm sure that Hugo will argue that "One must earn one's daily marshmallow", however, toll bridges do not cross private land, rivers are 'unclaimed wilderness'. 'Claiming wilderness' is the Pandora's Box of of the human psyche.

Land for public roadways are purchased years (sometimes 20) in advance by the gov't. In theory, the gov't has the power to annex the land if the 'anarchist' won't sell, but it is a mighty rare occurence. Anarchist law would allow for the roadway never being built in the first place.

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There is absolutely nothing contradictory about those statements. I really have to question what you think you are arguing about: it certainly makes no sense whatsoever. If you think they are contradictory, then you are incapable of this deep a discussion. My contention has not changed. I have tried to express it in simple language but, apparently, that is not simple enough.

If I were "seeing this discussion through your eyes," I would see an optometrist or possibly a brain surgeon since you are not seeing what is written.

For the 19th. century, what I said, as you quote, is correct. The 19th. century did see the accumulation of wealth by a few countries at the expense of most of the world. And, for most of the same century standards did drop for much of the population in those wealthy countries. Or have you never read any of the social commentary of the times? Your links do not address the issue that I raised any more than you do in your own words.

The demos, or the people, is not necessarily the majority of the residents of a state. It was not so in Athens - the cradle of democracy. We are talking ancient times with definitions that are quite different than you read in your Anarchist treatises. The people are the citizens of the state. Whether they form a majority or minority of the total population is irrelevant. We are talking of despots and despotism.

The curb that a modern democracy has on the suppression of minorities by government is, as I have tried to make explicit, the Rule of Law. The modern state does not place that there "by its own hand." It is the principle that has evolved though painful centuries of the struggle for democracy. No government has ever suddenly passed an Act that says from now on we are governed by the Rule of Law. That Rule is democracy.

As I have said several times, there are defences over thousands of years of despotism. There are none now in the Western World. Why, becausethat simple principle negates despotism.

Bishop Bossuet in France defended Absolutism - a beneficial absolutism. Edmund Coke, a revolutionary and premoer jurist of the time, in the Tower for his beliefs, could find no legal argument against Absolute Monarchy.

Both thought the way they did because the prohibition of arbitrary action by government was a principle that did not occur to them. Despotism, however distasteful, seemed to them the only practical form of government.

Notice that it is despotism that they and the others I have mentioned supported - not totalitarianism. Anything close to totalitarianism, until recently was a theocratic society.

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Land for public roadways are purchased years (sometimes 20) in advance by the gov't.
That could be done privately too. The problem is not there. It's elsewhere.

Consider this: It is 1922. I set up a radio station at 93.5 FM. You set up another radio station and also broadcast on 93.5 but with a stronger signal! Who owns 93.5? The one with the strongest signal? The first person to set up a radio station?

BTW, this happened with domain names on the Internet. There's a mad scramble to be the first occupier.

This problem is more complex and a State solution is not always better. So I avoided it.

If you argue that by remaining in the country, I agree to the state's power, then it must be your contention that the Canadian government owns Canada and every single piece of property in it
Before private ownership is defined, it makes sense that it is auctioned off for the collective benefit. So, I guess in theory Canada does or did own it. (Native Indians might object...)
Marriage and corporations are not market failures, they are just markets with high transaction costs.
Huh? Marriage, corporations and governments arise because high transaction costs cause free markets to fail. (Or is that what you meant?)
Free markets don't fail, August, and even if they did in some parallel universe, that's no excuse for coersion and violence.
I guess you've never got your brother-in-law to fix your car rather than the garage on the corner. But then I've always suspected my brother-in-law lives in a parallel universe.
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Dear August1991,

Who owns 93.5? The one with the strongest signal? The first person to set up a radio station?
The First Rule of Anarchy is that 'the strong do as they will, the weak submit'. Hugo posted some 'law' by someone which was basically a twist on 'do unto others', yet any 'law' in an anarchist system is an arbitrary one.

Suppose 93.5 was the 'All Hebrew, all the Time' radio station, how long before the 'All Nazi, all the Time' station over-rode or blocked the station? Yet Hugo believes this could be prevented by some magical, non-aligned private police force. The police force, under the guidelines of 'free market economy', would work for the highest bidder. I shudder at the implications.

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I would argue that collecting tolls is cumbersome and costly. This means it is more sensible (but imperfect) to have a single road building agency which assesses a "flat toll" (road tax) to all potential users.

I think taxation is cumbersome and costly. Firstly, we have a pricing mechanism that doesn't work, because taxation disconnects consumers from the price of their consumption. Secondly, taxation hits everybody equally, whether they own three cars or they walk everywhere.

But technology changes. It may well become possible to install a microchip inside every vehicle. Now toll collection is no longer so cumbersome and costly.

We're already there. The 407ETR can give frequent users a transponder box. You get a discount for having one. Then they just spot your vehicle as it enters and leaves the 407 and send you a monthly bill.

There's no reason why this couldn't be standardised. There are plenty of examples of the free market creating standards for itself, for example, paper sizes or the IEEE's Firewire/USB specifications.

Now consider planes flying over head. If airlines had to negotiate with each landowner overflight rights, the cost of negotiation would be prohibitive. One person could potentially hold up the whole arrangement.

Assuming that the people on the ground also automatically own the airspace above them. It might not be so. Airplanes can also find alternative routes. Airlines might also bundle their flight patterns, buy the property along their routes and then sell it again with the clause that their aircraft will be allowed to fly over it in perpetuity.

But the conditions for this result are so restrictive as to make them of theoretical interest only.

That would be a good point if it weren't factually untrue. Anarchism has existed in history already. Thingi Iceland, Celtic Ireland, pre-Alfred Anglo-Saxon England, Holy Experiment Pennsylvania and even modern Somalia are all examples of libertarian or anarchist nations.

In theory, the gov't has the power to annex the land if the 'anarchist' won't sell, but it is a mighty rare occurence. Anarchist law would allow for the roadway never being built in the first place.

That's right, because anarchists hold that nobody has the right to steal. Statists hold that government does have the right to steal - and also to kill, to kidnap, to forcibly confine, and so forth.

Before private ownership is defined, it makes sense that it is auctioned off for the collective benefit. So, I guess in theory Canada does or did own it.

But unless they still own it now, all of it, they cannot expect me to leave if I don't want to be taxed.

Huh? Marriage, corporations and governments arise because high transaction costs cause free markets to fail. (Or is that what you meant?)

It's still a market. Marriage is a market in the same way as any other. It's the same old mutual-benefit search and transaction as ever. You choose a partner you think will be of benefit for you, they choose you for the same reason. Each expects a net gain and each agrees to trade something with the other. That's a market.

I guess you've never got your brother-in-law to fix your car rather than the garage on the corner.

That's not a market failure either, it's another market. Either your brother-in-law is trading his services for your goodwill, for a favour from you later on, or he is giving you his services for nothing. In which case, it is a trade in which something only passes one way. Since your brother-in-law consented to it, it's not coercion.

For the 19th. century, what I said, as you quote, is correct. The 19th. century did see the accumulation of wealth by a few countries at the expense of most of the world. And, for most of the same century standards did drop for much of the population in those wealthy countries.

Prove it.

Or have you never read any of the social commentary of the times?

Dickens was neither an economist nor a historian. Why don't you show me some economic or historical commentary of the times? Would you say the novels of Stephen King are a good indication of how things are in the modern age?

The demos, or the people, is not necessarily the majority of the residents of a state.

So when we say "government of the people", you interpret that to mean two or more people. So by that standard, then, Saddam's Iraq must have been a democracy since he ruled it with his two sons. Three people is a democracy.

The curb that a modern democracy has on the suppression of minorities by government is, as I have tried to make explicit, the Rule of Law. The modern state does not place that there "by its own hand."

Who places it there, then?

The First Rule of Anarchy is that 'the strong do as they will, the weak submit'.

No, and I have already corrected you on this. The "first rule" of anarchy is the Non-Aggression Principle.

The police force, under the guidelines of 'free market economy', would work for the highest bidder.

Such a police force would not last very long. Would you do business with a police force that you knew was corrupt and took bribes?

any 'law' in an anarchist system is an arbitrary one.

Any law, period, is an arbitrary one. The difference is that anarchist law is established by individuals, and is polycentric so that potentially all individuals can find an expression of law to suit them, whereas statist law is handed down by the fiat of a few individuals.

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Is this view tenable though? Does the state in Canada act that way? I'm not so sure. Where is the possessive/dispositive element that would characterize slave-holding?

This can be illustrated by examining taxation and those government decrees of what the individual, or two or more consenting individuals, may do with themselves and their rightful property.

To begin with, if we accept Lockean "natural rights" (e.g. that I own myself, I own that property which I can obtain without aggressing against another, etc.), then we must have a right to our property, and only our property. We can do whatever we wish to our own property, but may not interfere with another's property without his consent.

If you don't accept Lockean property rights and don't believe that your own body belongs to you, then the rest of this won't make much sense. I'm assuming you do, however.

I'm not sure I accept them, at least not the way you formulate them. In particular,

1) I do not accept the equation of personal liberty and 'owning oneself'. It seems to me that the interest (and therefore the rights) a person has in their bodily integrity/sovereignty and their freedom of thought is more than mere ownership.

2) the definition of property tendered is a tautology. I own 'property'. Property is what I 'own'. It takes you nowhere.

In fact, there are two definitions of property which apply depending on whether there is rule of law in operation or not. Absent the rule of law, 'property' is whatever you can obtain and keep against whoever tries to take it.

Under the rule of law, property is whatever your society says is yours and will help defend on your behalf.

Firstly, regarding taxation. If I own the products of my labour,

Who says you own the products of your labour? But first, explain what you mean by 'own'?

then I must own my labour too, otherwise those products would not become my possessions.

You could own your labor but, by passing your labour through someone else's processes for example, not own the product.

However, the state presumes to expropriate the products of my labour from me in the form of taxation

No, the state charges you the prescribed fee for the benefits you receive as a resident.

(it can also expropriate my labour directly, in the form of conscription).

I agree conscription would be a form of enslavement. But there is no conscription in Canada and it would be of questionable constitutionality now, I believe.

If the state owns the products of my labour, it must own my labour or a portion thereof, or the products of that labour would not be rightfully theirs. 

Well, here is the turning point of our differences, of course. The state need not own your labour. It merely charges you for your membership, so to speak.

Secondly, when government makes laws regarding what an individual may do with himself (e.g. drug laws, same-sex marriage, motorcycle helmet laws), then this violates the same right to property.

I would say it impinges on your right to liberty. Why muck property into this?

Taking the example of this computer, for instance, I don't have to make internet posts on it. I can use it for a doorstop, or pour gasoline all over it and set it alight - it's mine and I can dispose of it as I please. Similarly, nobody else can use it for a doorstop or set it alight without my express permission. But if the state can tell me what I may do with my own body, it follows that I cannot own my body,

Whoa, stck with the computer... potentially, setting it alight on you porch could afflict your neighbors. So presumably these neighbours can call on the state to stop you from this disposition of your 'property'. This isn't slavery -- it is precisely within the bound you defined as appropriate.

...and the state must own my body, since I never consented to the alienation of my body. Therefore, if the state owns my body, I must be the slave of the state.

But since state controls are not premised on afflicting your property rights, but are consistent with the very definition you suggest for property, the state is in fact, according to your own terms, NOT enslaving you.

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(it can also expropriate my labour directly, in the form of conscription).
I agree conscription would be a form of enslavement. But there is no conscription in Canada and it would be of questionable constitutionality now, I believe.
If you believe that conscription is a form of "enslavement", then you would have to agree that any taxation is a form of "enslavement". Whether the State takes your money or your time, it is still a tax.
However, the state presumes to expropriate the products of my labour from me in the form of taxation
No, the state charges you the prescribed fee for the benefits you receive as a resident.
Hugo calls it a "tax", TS calls it a "fee".

The issue, it seems to me, is whether the payment (fee or tax) is "voluntary" or not.

There are different ways to view this:

Ultimately, citizens voluntarily pay taxes because they choose voluntarily to be subject to the jurisdiction.

As in a marriage contract, we frequently agree to conditions in a long term contract which are imprecise and turn out to be very constraining.

In viewing the role of the State, I would go with the second view and ask: what contract conditions would I have accepted before my birth?

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But first, explain what you mean by 'own'?

I am taking as my definition of property the Lockean standard, which is, basically, a thing that I acquire right of disposal over by being the first to appropriate it, the first to labour upon it, or by gift, bequest or exchange. Locke would tell you that this is a "natural right" which exists in humans even in an Hobbesian state of nature.

Who says you own the products of your labour?

Classical liberal philosophers. Of course, if your philosophy is collectivist, as per Marx or Lenin, then that isn't true. But collectivist property ideals hinge not upon ownership or non-ownership, but merely transfer of ownership. Private property is naturally consistent, e.g. I had it first, therefore it's mine. Force may be required to protect that but not to create it. Other notions of property are not, because they require force not just to protect, but merely to implement.

You could own your labor but, by passing your labour through someone else's processes for example, not own the product.

Define "processes." If it passes through somebody else's labour, we would have laboured on it together. But it is impossible that I would not own the product or a part thereof without having freely given up ownership of it.

No, the state charges you the prescribed fee for the benefits you receive as a resident.

But there is no option whether or not to pay the fee or receive the benefit. It's like a Mafia protection racket, I pay a fee for "protection", but if I don't pay it, I get roughed up by Mafia goons.

In another thread you railed against monopoly and monopolistic practices, yet you seem to have no problem with state monopolies and monopolistic practices. Why this self-contradiction?

I agree conscription would be a form of enslavement.

Then, as August rightly says, you must see taxation as a form of enslavement. They simply differ in where the confiscation takes place. In conscription, it happens at the labour level, in taxation, at the monetary exchange level.

The state need not own your labour. It merely charges you for your membership, so to speak.

Membership in what? If the state is charging me for membership in the country in that, as August said before, I can be charged taxes simply for living in Canada, it therefore follows that the state owns Canada and everything in it. My house isn't owned by me, it's owned by the government, because when I'm in it they can still tax me.

I would say it impinges on your right to liberty. Why muck property into this?

Because liberty - the right to do as you choose - hinges upon property. You can only do as you choose with your property, which ties into your further point:

I do not accept the equation of personal liberty and 'owning oneself'. It seems to me that the interest (and therefore the rights) a person has in their bodily integrity/sovereignty and their freedom of thought is more than mere ownership.

There are actually two schools of anarchist thought on ownership of the self. The first is that we own our bodies and ourselves, since we can do as we please with them, which fits the Lockean definition of private property. The second is that we can't own ourselves, because what's owned can be alienated, and we cannot alienate our body or our will. We do not own ourselves, we are ourselves.

For the purposes of this argument, however, it is irrelevant. If my body is my property, others cannot take or use it without my consent. If my body is not property at all, it follows that if it can't be my property it cannot be anybody else's either.

Whoa, stck with the computer... potentially, setting it alight on you porch could afflict your neighbors.

You're constructing a strawman out of an example by attaching conditions to it, changing the example in a way you think is beneficial to your viewpoint. Attack the argument.

Further, your example supports my viewpoint. You can do as you will with your own property as long as it does not infringe upon that same right in another individual. If my neighbour's property suffers from my burning of my property - soot on their walls or whatever - then I have violated their natural rights, therefore, I had no right to burn my computer in such a way.

If the state existed purely to protect such rights, that would be a minarchist government as supported by people such as Ayn Rand or possibly our friend August (I believe). However, my argument against such a government hinges upon economics (the free market will provide better protection at less cost than a state monopoly) and upon pragmatic morality, in that the right to use force should not exclusively rest in the hands of any one body. There are further inconsistencies in the minarchist viewpoint but that would be a post (at least) in itself.

Ultimately, citizens voluntarily pay taxes because they choose voluntarily to be subject to the jurisdiction.

By that standard, slavery is permissible because slaves choose voluntarily to be subject to enslavement.

Of course, some slaves reject slavery, whether they act upon that or not - just as some individuals reject the state, whether they act upon that or not. Therefore, the argument of voluntary subjection is negated as soon as one person ceases to voluntarily subject. I only subject myself to the state under duress and coersion.

In viewing the role of the State, I would go with the second view and ask: what contract conditions would I have accepted before my birth?

None, because acceptance necessitates a free will, and before your birth your free will does not exist.

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It seems to me that the biggest problem in all this is not the issue of definitions, but the failure to take into account human nature.

People are not naturally "nice". In my terms, we're all sinful. To try to translate that into terms acceptable to the anti-religious on this forum, we're all inclined to be self-centred, greedy, pig-headed (not on this forum, right? :D ), careless of others. Of course we have some people whom we treat well, protect, etc., but we're inclined to be ugly, where it seems to be to our advantage.

Hugo's anarchy would be fine, if it were not for that stubborn human nature problem. That problem means that someone has to enforce the limits Hugo wants people to observe, or people will encroach on them wherever they feel they can advantageously. The strong will do it one way, the cunning another. But anarchy won't work.

Democracy? C.S. Lewis said somewhere that the only good argument for democracy is that it is less awful than the alternatives. Personally, I think he was right.

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