February 2008 - Posts

Re: Moral vs Hierarchical obligations

The following is a response to this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoXjrlxDSL4 

Dear Mr1001Nights,

Unchosen positive obligations are indeed slavery, which should be obvious because the obligations are not chosen. In claiming or bestowing unchosen positive obligations onto other people, you are the authority that must face a burden of proof. The person who claims that others have unchosen positive obligations to them is the one who must prove that others owe some kind of debt to them. In the absence of any objectively definable debt previously accured, the claim is absolute hogwash. To claim an abstract positive right to the servitude of others is to claim authority over them by definition. By all accounts, someone who must fulfill unchosen positive obligations is engaging in involuntary servitude. Involuntary servitude is slavery. Who exactly will enforce these unchosen positive obligations? Obviously everyone is not going to just willingly fulfill them, and when we really start to think more deeply about it, it is impossible for everyone to universally fulfill such positive obligations due to geographical problems and the availability of resources. So some individual or body of men is going to have to enforce these positive obligations, especially for those who resist and refuse to fulfill them. Hence, your system already requires a heirarchy from the get go.

Positive and negative rights inherently contradict eachother because negative rights implies that one is free from unchosen positive obligations imposed by others. The only obligation they could be said to impose is for others to leave one alone. Positive rights bestow an obligation onto people to serve others. Positive rights lead to claims of entitlement to the labor of other people. The enforcement of positive rights onto someone who is unwilling to serve others inherently constitutes theft or extortion from that individual. If Joe has an abstract "right to food", and Jack has food but doesn't want to give it up, their in order for Joe's alleged "right" to be fulfilled, either Joe himself or some agent or 3rd party acting on Joe's behalf must confiscate the food from Jack. Jack has no choice not to serve Joe and pony up the good.

By all accounts, in the type of society envisoned by market anarchists, there is nothing to stop you from joining together with your fellows who all agree to such positive obligations and to form a community by which you all strive to fulfill them. This would be perfectly fine because all of the people involved actually chose the obligations and believe in them. On the other hand, if someone in this society decides that they no longer favor such obligations, and they do not have any debt withstanding, they are free to opt out of your community and flock elsewhere. I don't know why it's so hard for you to understand that your type of society is only one possibility out of many that may co-exist in an anarchy, not some monolithic model that everyone must abide by. Luke12000 and others have tried to point this out endlessly to no avail. There is no reason why your ideal society cannot exist as one option out of many within a larger framework. Market anarchists are not imposing their preferential society on you, so it would only make sense to mutually extend the same "tolerance" back in the other direction.

The problem with the wage slavery arguement is that it applies to any society no matter what system or lack thereof is in place. No matter what system is in place, including socialism, resources are still scarce and material well-being still requires labor. Things must be produced, they do not just fall down like mana from the sky. It is therefore disingenuous to imply that "work or starve" only applies to a so-called "capitalist" society when it still applies no matter what type of organization a society is constituted by. "Work or starve" or "act or die" is not a human created set of choices, it is imposed by the necessities of nature itself. Humans must act in order to achieve the ends they desire. No social or economic or political system can make it so that some kind of production is not required for survival and material well-being. Put frankly, people can't just sit on their asses all day and expect to have prosperity and material wants, because these things must be produced. What system is in place is rather irrelevant to this fact. This reveals an interesting paradox: your ideal society can exist within a free market, but a free market cannot exist within your ideal society.

Another part of the problem with the wage slavery arguement is that it uses a nonsensical definition of coercion. In my understanding, coercion requires human agency, usually realized as a threat of force. But the wage slavery arguement implies that someone taking no action at all, specifically someone simply not giving their stuff or a piece of it to someone else, "coerces" that person into an unwanted circumstance. Noone actually physically forced you to work. Noone actually imposed starvation on you through their human agency. The negative circumstances created by a lack of productive action is simply a fact of life. Production requires human cooperation. One is perfectly free not to cooperate and not to produce, but in the absence of any mechanism that forces them to not cooperate and not produce, the negative circumstances that may come about as a consequence of this is truly no fault but their own, or, put somewhat more lightly, outside of their control and imposed by the inadequacies of nature. In either case, the wage slavery arguement is nonsensical in that it equates the inedequacies of nature to coercion.

As far as the concept of solidarity goes, human beings inherently are not in a state of absolute solidarity. Rather, human beings are incredibly diverse. Each individual is unique unto themselves. Uniformity in traits and preferences runs contrary to how we work as human beings. People have their own identities as individuals and their own self-interest. Self-interest, however, does not negate all cooperation. To the contrary, as psychological egoism demonstrates quite well, people cooperate out of mutual self-interest. It is an error to assume that everyone's self-interest inherently clashes at all times. It is in people's rational self-interest to cooperate and associate with eachother and engage in a generally peaceful manner. What I see as being amazing about organic society is that cooperation flourishes despite people's vast diversity and disagreement. An anarchist society is pluralist, not a uniform model for all of mankind. Market anarchism, when one actually understands it, is the exact same thing as anarchism without adjectives because it provides a framework by which multiple types of societies can co-exist.

Have a nice day.