Monday, January 08, 2007

Thoughts On Authority

I selectively ignore and follow rules and authority because I question wether or not (1) that authority can be justified and (2) the jurisdiction of the rules applies. For example, if I am invited into your home, I am technically under your authority, and I will accept this because the jurisdiction (I.E. the home) is yours. Obviously, I can't just walk into your home arbitrarily (or worse yet, break down your door) with loud music playing on a boom box and a cigarette hanging from my mouth without your permission. However, as soon as I leave your home, that authority dissapears - your jurisdiction as an individual ends. I can light my cigaratte, listen to my boom box as I please. In short, as soon as I leave the jurisdiction of authority, which is usually decided by property boundaries, the "rules" (of your household in this case) dissapear.

The rules, by their very nature, cannot extend beyond the property of their jurisdiction. The individual has just authority only over their own person and property; this is as far as their jurisdiction applies. Your household cannot make rules for my household, for you have no just authority over it because you do not have just ownership of it. However, what this "exercise" simultanously observes is that there is such a thing as just authority, which is based on the just ownership of property. This just authority is also a naturally arising phenomenon in human nature. The individual that homesteads/purchases and stewards a given piece of property is the just owner of that property, as a result and measure of their control over it, and as such have natural authority over that property (see John Locke). The vast bulk of social problems can be solved or lessened by properly accessing who the rightful owner is, and consequently who's authority applies in a given situation.

A note on the idea of "equality in authority": It also remains as an unaviodable truth that this natural authority will never be equally distributed due to the diverse, individualistic nature of man. Some people will always have larger and smaller jurisdictions than others, and there will always be people with more and less property then others. This does not necessarily imply that heirarchy is natural as an institution so much as it implies that a variant, unpredictable and unstatic (I.E. it is changing over time) structure is natural as an institution. It is neither a pure equilibrium or a heirarchy. It is like a relatively random graph of ups and downs. Thus, both the egalitarian and the monarchist are wrong because they are trying to impose structures of authority that are not natural: the egalitarian, on one hand, trying to equalize everyone's ownership over property, and the heirarchist, on the other hand, trying to pyramidize everyone's ownership over property.

Suppose that you claim authority over property that you do not own or steward. Suppose that you claim that you have "authority" over someone else's property, or even worse, over an entire territorial area, if not the world (or, worse yet, a claim of "equal communal ownership" on a world-wide scale, otherwise known as the ideology of global communism). I will reject your so-called authority outright as a fake. I will not subject myself to the "rules" of unjust property owners and thus false jurisdiction. If the jurisdiction is not legitimately founded, then we are dealing with "unjust authority" that should be resisted at all costs. The only authority that I recognize is that of the rightful owners (and it is a collectivist fallacy to assume that "the rightful owners" means a rigid heirarchy or small cabal of "evil capitalist pigs").

Everything else is literally criminal under sound ethical and legal principle; no individual or group can truly have just authority over property that they do not in reality justly own or steward. An enforced claim of authority over property that you don't own is called theft and fraud. An enforced claim of authority over the person of another is called slavery (as well as horrible acts such as assault, murder and rape). It must be realized that all "crime" involves action commited by a human agent as an expression of unjust authority over the person or property of others (in violation of the just authority of the victims). To rightly reject crime is to reject an unjust exercise of authority, and simultanously to uphold the just authority of the individual over their person and property.

Of course, when all of the above is taken to it's logical conclusions (by applying the same criterion to government that we are applying to individual citezens), it becomes apparent that government is nothing more than a highly organized criminal gang with an unjust monopoly claim on authority over a vast territory of property that it does not in reality justly own or adequately steward. Government is the institution that has been empowered to "legally" engage in criminal acts that nearly everyone concedes is a crime when done by a citezen (taxation = theft, war = mass murder, conscription = slavery).

Government is a monopoly of the use of force. And this criminal gang has somehow resigned the vast bulk of people to it's criminal activity and literally turned it into a seemingly permanent institution. In essence, then, "a criminal gang that sets itself up as an official legal institution to plunder the populace on a repeatable basis" is the proper definition of the word government. Phase I is "your money or your life" (the initial usurpation of authority), but Phase II is when the people forget about Phase I and act as if the status quo is a tradition, a fact of nature, that we cannot do without or is basically impossible to change or get rid of. Worse yet, they may look to their aggressors as heroes and saviors (Phase III) !

I admit, I do not in practical fact completely adhere to this view of government (because, admittedly, the implications are very hard for most people to deal with), or rather, I still balk at the conclusion of abolishing goverment wholesale. But when viewed logically the anarcho-capitalist position is correct. Logically, it appears so correct as to shatter many of one's "hopes" in a society where all of us are brought up to believe in the utter necessity of having some kind of government (even worse, most of us have been conditioned to believe in the utter necessity of one, central government, as if a less centralized system would be anarchy - and further, we have largely been conditioned to blindly accept that so-called "democracy", which is really only a combination of mob rule and an expansion of the access to government for political parasites, is the best kind of government), and that total chaos is the only alternative.

Out of all anarchist positions, anarcho-capitalism is the most sound one, because most other anarchist ideologies reject authority as a whole, often leading them towards anarchist communism. Further, many anarchists seem to think that "you can do whatever you want under any circumstance" is anarchism. Libertarian anarchism (better known as anarcho-capitalism) is unique because it does not reject all authority; it seeks to replace what it sees as unjust authority (both government and private crime) with the upholding of just authority (private property and self-ownership). The foolish non-libertarian anarchist often finds themselves advocating private crime (usually acts of overt violence), while the libertarian anarchist opposes such private crime. Most forms of anarchism, many of which are left-wing, make the mistake of calling for the abolition of both government and private property equally. In this sense, the non-capitalist anarchists are much more radical than libertarian anarchists, as the anarcho-capitalist in fact wishes to protect the institution of private property; they view government and private property as polar opposites and enemies.

Of course, the paradox that minimalists/minarchists like myself find ourselves in is that, from our perspective, you might just need a government to adequately uphold the just authority. You just might need a government to decide who the just owner is, and thus decide where the just authority lies; to resolve conflicts of authority. But the anarcho-capitalists critique of the state is as clear as a bell. Its logic seems flawless. For an anarcho-capitalist response to this is that we are now relying on an unjust authority to resolve conflicts of authority, and that this unjust authority we have created or are relying on will inherently rule in favor of itself consistantly and cause countless amounts of conflicts of authority itself!

Afterall, how are conflicts between the authority of the state vs. anything else to be resolved? The anarcho-capitalist is correct in pointing out the obvious: the government can no longer be an impartial judge in conflicts of authority when those conflicts are between itself and others. Thus, government will have a natural tendency to rule in favor of its own authority, rule against objections to its authority, and as a result, rule against people's just authority by law. To the anarcho-capitalist, this scenario of government judging in its own case is no different or better than if a private conflict of authority between a robber and his victim were dealt with by having the robber judge the case.

The anarcho-capitalist points out that in allowing one institution to have ultimate judgeing powers in conflicts of authority (I.E. government), you have in essence exempted that institution from having to abide by the confines of just authority itself, for you have basically given that institution arbitrary authority over that of everyone else. In short, by its very nature, government has no arbiter or institution above itself that can judge its authority. A state is inherently an unjust claim of authority if it cannot be held to the same standard that it holds its subjects to. While you can turn to the state to possibly resolve private conflicts, if a conflict in authority is between the state and a private individual or group, such as when the state violates the authority of an individual citezen or group of citezens, then inevitably you have no choice but to turn to your own aggressor to judge in the case.

The net effect of this is that the state is empowered to violate the authority (and thus rights) of the populace at large because it has no real way of being subjected to any outside authority at all as such. Inherently, an institution that is the sole judge of authority is bound by no authority but its own ad hoc whim, it has no genuine way of being limited by the authority of others, and is thus lawless (as in criminal) in how it operates. If this is the case, then how is creating a government going to do anything but institutionalize and centralize unjust authority into one group? If the state is inherently a usurpation of authority from its just owners, yet on the other hand a stateless atmosphere cannot adequatety uphold that initial authority, what is the solution? Either the minarchist position is wrong and the anarcho-capitalists are right, or we both are missing something, or there is no answer (it leads to a paradox).

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