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Have we defined the State right?

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Merlin Posted: Tue, Nov 17 2009 4:05 AM

While pondering on the State and its nature, a few days ago I was struck by an idea. Please share your thought with me on this one, for I find it important.

 

Everyone from Weber on defined the State as (roughly speaking) the organization which sports the legitimate monopoly of violence in a given territory. Hoppe goes on to add a second characteristic, the ability to gain its income form taxation (non-voluntary payments), but I’ll rather focus on the first “universal” characteristic as without having a monopoly of force one can’t exact any kind of forced payment form anyone.

 

So, the story goes, if most people view an organization as having the rightful monopoly of violence in a giver area, that is a State. How misled by Weber have we been!

 

Suppose a market-anarchic society, in which there is no such a thing as the state. I own a small restaurant and I require every guest not to carry firearms inside. Of course, everyone that enters with a firearms is thus violating my property, allowing me to kick him out.

 

Or I could even go on further to state, at the entrance of my place, that whoever comes in must agree to my every whim instantly, or else leave. Note that I’m completely entitled to do so, as the restaurant being my property, whoever gets in must do so on my terms. So if I just start to shoot people randomly in my place, and they don’t scream “Stop, I’ll go away!” (indicating they no longer wish to remain in my property), then I’m completely right in my actions (that is legally, not morally).

 

So, in my own property I’m the lord of the land, I’m the LEGITIMATE monopolist of violence! Just as a state! But how can I be a State if in anarchy there should be no Sstates? Am I really being a State?

 

Of course not, but all this confusion started out only because we got the State wrong: it in’t the legitimate monopolist of violence in a given territory, for everyone is just that in his own property!

 

Theoretically a State, in public land can do as it wishes.

 

So, where do “real” states differ from anarchistic individuals exercising their right on their own property?

 

Simple,

 

  1. States exercise their power on other people’s property, not just their own,
  2. States gain their property mostly in a non-voluntary fashion (expropriation, war),
  3. States do not recognize the right unlimited to leave (either by closing borders or seceding with one’s property form the State altogether).

 

IF a State abided by all these standards, I submit there would be nothing wrong in it. So, the State, I feel, must be redefined as:

 

An organization perceived by most as having the legitimate right to disrespect property rights.

 

And this opens up some very interesting insight, but let’s leave those for an other post.

 

Looking forward to your ideas.

   

 

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banned replied on Tue, Nov 17 2009 4:20 AM

You cannot legally shoot someone and endanger their life unless they pose a threat to your own life. The idea that you can do whatever you want to people on a certain plot of land because you have mixed your labor with it is completely absurd.

 

Also, public land is not acquired or financed through labor on the state's behalf. It is acquired through theft and maintained through theft. It doesn't belong to the 'public' or the government which supposedly acts on behalf of the 'public'. Since it is not possible to accurately determine who's money purchased and maintains the land, I would say that it is simply unowned land controlled by government mandate.

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Merlin replied on Tue, Nov 17 2009 5:09 AM

Quick to answer, that's what I'm talking about :)

 Now...

banned:
You cannot legally shoot someone and endanger their life unless they pose a threat to your own life.

Really? Are you, than, against euthanasia?  Haven’t I the right to commit suicide? For if I do, if I voluntarily agree to kill my self, what difference is there between me using a gun, and me asking a friend? As long as it is VOLUNTARY and doesn’t harm third parties, I don’t care what it is. So if you agree to my shooting you, I indeed do have the right to shoot you. This is true on everyone’s property, not just my own. I dicuss the restaurant example only to provide proof that my guest would be asking me to kill them, if I make it clear that by entering they’re agreeing to such a thing.

So, if you still disagree that I’ve the right to shoot my gests in my place, please refer to which of these points you find unacceptable:

 

  1. People have the right to kill themselves
  2. hence, people have the right to commit suicide by means of other people, as long as this is voluntary a transaction
  3. hence, if the guy I’m bout to shoot gives me the right to do so, I am, legally speaking, within my tights, even if the poor felow hasn’t harmed by in any way
  4. if I make it abundantly clear that entering my premises means being subjected to deadly force, and if a visitor doesn’t want to leave (for even after entering, he might change his mind, this being his right), than he is agreeing to be shot, and since I might also be agreeing to do so, I violate no right when doing so.

 

Shortly, it is voluntary, and harms no third parties. What’s wrong then? And if this is wrong (which it isn't), why drugs should be legalized (which they should), this being a completely analogous example?

 On the other hand, shooting a guy if he poses a threat to you isn’t voluntary, just an involuntary action that people can rightfully engage in. These are two totally different instances.  

banned:

Also, public land is not acquired or financed through labor on the state's behalf. It is acquired through theft and maintained through theft. It doesn't belong to the 'public' or the government which supposedly acts on behalf of the 'public'. Since it is not possible to accurately determine who's money purchased and maintains the land, I would say that it is simply unowned land controlled by government mandate.

 

Well, I said that myself.

I don’t mean that governments are within their rights, for they aren’t for the 3 reasons I discussed. I totally agree with you that government property is illegitimate, and that is my point. Precisely because government property is illegitimate, than governments are immoral, NOT because they are legitimated monopolist of force.

 

Me, you, everyone is such a thing in his own territory, provided that he acts on premises he made amply known to everyone entering his property, else what he might be doing to whoever is in might not be voluntary. (known premises mean voluntary action)

 

So, please understand that “governments do not merit their property” is no argument against my thesis, all the contrary.

 

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banned replied on Tue, Nov 17 2009 5:45 AM

Merlin:
Really? Are you, than, against euthanasia? 

Within the context of the discussion, I was referring specifically towards an action the other person did not contract to.

Merlin:
hence, if the guy I’m bout to shoot gives me the right to do so, I am, legally speaking, within my tights, even if the poor felow hasn’t harmed by in any way

Simply walking onto someones property does not entail agreement to a contract. A contract only exists where there is voluntary exchange of property or consent to the terms of the contract. Someone walking onto your property has not demonstrated any will to exchange property with you, only a will to trespass. In a court of law you would undoubtedly be obligated to prove that the individual you shot knowingly, and in full faith, gave his life over to you to end. Citing an undocumented agreement between the trespasser and yourself that his presence on your property was the term by which the contract would be merited will most probably be not cut it.

Merlin:
if I make it abundantly clear that entering my premises means being subjected to deadly force, and if a visitor doesn’t want to leave (for even after entering, he might change his mind, this being his right), than he is agreeing to be shot, and since I might also be agreeing to do so, I violate no right when doing so.

No. Not agreeing to leave is not the same thing as agreeing to be shot, since it is not an imperative outcome that he is shot if he doesn't leave. You are still consciously making a decision to shoot him. Seeing as he has made no threat against your life, you are not entitled to take his.

Merlin:
So, please understand that “governments do not merit their property” is no argument against my thesis, all the contrary.

I didn't say this. I said the government is not a property holder as it does not acquire property. It takes property from others, uses that property to control certain plots of land, buildings, weapons, etc. However, you cannot point to someone working for the government government and say that they own anything. The property is merely managed by them in the name of "the people". There are no shareholders, no investors, nobody has any claim to the property, the government simply manages it.

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If you say that the government manages things, you ought to use quotations around the word "manages".

 

 

 

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Merlin replied on Wed, Nov 18 2009 2:54 AM

banned:
Simply walking onto someones property does not entail agreement to a contract. A contract only exists where there is voluntary exchange of property or consent to the terms of the contract.

Well of course it does! If I state that only those who agree to, say, pay 5 dollars for each meter they walk into my property will actually be allowed to walk on it, do you seriously doubt that here the trespasser isn’t agreeing to pay me? Please note that I haven’t used the word “contract” precisely because I knew I’d get back a legalistic nonsense, something like “one has a contract only when exchanging property”, etc.”. Besides the really obvious point that neither you nor I can define what two other people agree to consider “property”, and hence exchange, let’s just fly over all this and let me reiterate that I’m speaking of no “contract” here, just a voluntary action of two parties.

banned:
In a court of law you would undoubtedly be obligated to prove that the individual you shot knowingly, and in full faith, gave his life over to you to end. Citing an undocumented agreement between the trespasser and yourself that his presence on your property was the term by which the contract would be merited will most probably be not cut it.

 

Now, we must discern two different discussions here.

First, if an arbiter is presented with a case of “murder” by a guy who hung at the entrance of his house “ALL THOSE ACCEPTED INTO THIS PROPERTY SHALL BE SUBJECTED TO THE FULL LEGAL RULES OF THE FORMER UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS, AS THEY APPPLIED ON NOVEMBER 1988”, and that the “victim”, fully knowing this, entered and spoke of “liberty of political action” in the premises. Thus the landlord, bored as he was, decided to just shoot him there, after a 5-minute trial for “high treason”. Now, can you see that here we have a fully voluntary action, for in no case the “victim” asked do be escorted outside (suppose this is proven by many eyewitnesses). Would you yourself seriously contemplate calling this murder and still profess attachment to voluntarism?

Yet there is a second line to be picked up here, and that is probably what you mean in your post. If it can’t be proven that said warning existed or has been provided, or that the “victim” asked to be escorted outside, at any moment, than we could contemplate this as a case of murder because of lack of proof of voluntarism. This would of course depend of the case at hand, no two being similar, and I fully agree that on the real world no one would willingly kill his guest and even those few who did would be compelled to warn everyone well in advance and tape the whole thing, to prove that never did the victim ask to leave. So, on practical terms this would be a very rare occurrence (murder isn’t really good for business), and would make for some hard cases, but the basic truth here, that a guy who enters my property does so on my own term is, I believe, undisputable.

banned:
No. Not agreeing to leave is not the same thing as agreeing to be shot, since it is not an imperative outcome that he is shot if he doesn't leave. You are still consciously making a decision to shoot him.

 It is the same if I feel like shooting him. A voluntary “transaction” entails the will of both parties. The guy on my land has agreed to my term by simply being on my land, while I may or may not feel like carrying my terms. There is, of course, no “obligation” here, but the landlord feeling like it, it might well happen.

banned:

I didn't say this. I said the government is not a property holder as it does not acquire property. It takes property from others, uses that property to control certain plots of land, buildings, weapons, etc. However, you cannot point to someone working for the government government and say that they own anything. The property is merely managed by them in the name of "the people". There are no shareholders, no investors, nobody has any claim to the property, the government simply manages it.

Once again, I fully agree. My intention here is just to prove that saying that something is “viewed by most as having the monopoly of violence in a given territory” is not saying “State”, but just any property owner. The state is the corrupted and genocidal organization that we all know NOT as it is viewed as having such a monopoly. Every owned does. The state “cheats” only becouse it assumes the right to be the only one not respecting other’s property, and it thrives only when most believe this.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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Instead of throwing out Weber's definition, we should simply tweak it slightly. Instead of the state being the legitimate organization with a monopoly on violence in a given territory; it should be said that the state is the firm with the largest "market share" on violence (usually maintaining its dominance by having a portion of the people within its territory view it as legitimate). What do you think?

"I cannot prove, but am prepared to affirm, that if you take care of clarity in reasoning, most good causes will take care of themselves, while some bad ones are taken care of as a matter of course." -Anthony de Jasay

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Merlin replied on Wed, Nov 18 2009 4:22 AM

Solid_Choke:
Instead of throwing out Weber's definition, we should simply tweak it slightly. Instead of the state being the legitimate organization with a monopoly on violence in a given territory; it should be said that the state is the firm with the largest "market share" on violence (usually maintaining its dominance by having a portion of the people within its territory view it as legitimate).

This definition implies several things. Let me touch a couple briefly:

 

1-there are, or potentially could be, several firms in the market of “violence”. Unfortunately that isn’t true, not because such other firms are lacking for there are indeed many private security services or mob groups, but rather because the State assumes the right to trample them all. In this sense “free entry” into such a market is nonexistent.

 

2-asumign that there is such a thing as a firm (be it a single one) operating in the market of “violence”, we must than accept that either a) such services are being paid for by customers, which actually have the right to exert violent themselves, for them to be able to delegate it at a price afterwards, or else b), such a firm is automatically assuming a right form the citizens which it forbids them to exert. In case A, we all know that not only you and I aren’t allowed to punish aggressors ourselves, but even the field of immediate self-defense is coming under ever-growing pressure. So, that can’t be the case. Should B apply, as it does, than we face no “firm” at all, a gang at most, so a “market-based” definition, like the pone you propose is inadequate.

 

 

But let us fly over the first objection by assuming that somehow there are such economies of scale to be exploited in the “violence” business that a single firm covering hundreds of millions of clients can effectively enjoy a market-based monopoly. But eve now, if a state, or any other entity, for that mater is to be justified in applying violence it must either 1) receive the right to violence by someone else who has it or else 2) have such a right himself. Thus a state must rightfully violate who it want only on its legitimate property or else on someone else’s property under his request. And I myself would be the first to declare that state law is no longer valid in my house if allowed to do so.

 

So, a state can’t be considered “the larges firm” because it doesn’t apply voluntarism, or strictly speaking, doesn’t recognize property rights. And that is the sole difference, albeit an immensely important one, between a State and every decent property owner.

Your definition would indeed be useful when discussing how the state has risen, an other important discussion, but not the present one. For even if it originated as the most successful defense firm, the state is surely no longer such a thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AJ replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 7:01 AM

Merlin:
While pondering on the State and its nature, a few days ago I was struck by an idea. Please share your thought with me on this one, for I find it important.

You're correct that "State" isn't defined properly, and that that obscures the matter in pernicious ways. However, your redefinition is unavoidably confused because you refer to the concept of property. The matter of "who's property is who's" in terms of de facto property rights is exactly what a monopoly on force itself determines. There's no use in trying to explain a fundamental concept in terms of a less fundamental one, especially one that directly depends on the more fundamental one.

The State is a monopoly on force. The only reason to include the notion of whether people view it as "legitimate" or not would be if that perception of legitimacy (or lack thereof) affected the State's ability to remain a monopoly. But in either case, the relevant portion of the meaning is already included in the idea of "monopoly on force."

Sure a monopoly on force doesn't by its very nature go against most versions of libertarian ethics, but no one has any way of knowing that it might not start committing violations tomorrow (and there is really no reason to expect monopolies on force to "behave"; like some guy having a doomsday device, it's a clear-and-present danger). So it's hardly a worthwhile distinction to make in practice.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 7:36 AM

And I thought the topic had died.

AJ:

The State is a monopoly on force. The only reason to include the notion of whether people view it as "legitimate" or not would be if that perception of legitimacy (or lack thereof) affected the State's ability to remain a monopoly. But in either case, the relevant portion of the meaning is already included in the idea of "monopoly on force."

Saying that the State is a “monopoly of force” would be like asserting that Humans are “warm blooded creatures”. We fail to render the uniqueness of the State, because that very definition encompasses the property holder: I too, I my own house, set my own law, and assume to myself the full power of using coercion. Can this power be abused? As long as I make it clear to anyone that I myself exert full powers in my house, than all my actions are, by definition, being voluntarily accepted by whoever enters. They are, according to libertarian ethics, intrinsically right.

 

AJ:
The matter of "who's property is who's" in terms of de facto property rights is exactly what a monopoly on force itself determines. There's no use in trying to explain a fundamental concept in terms of a less fundamental one, especially one that directly depends on the more fundamental one.

 

The crucial point indeed. I certainly canon answer that question praxeologicaly, nor do I except anyone to. From a purely formal point of view, you are indeed right. But as things stand it just so happens that the concept of property exists, and people always have certain preferences as to what is considered proper or not. Hence, people always have a certain perception of a “legitimate property holder”. This can only be established in practice, even Mises takes the fact that people can discern the material world form the spiritual one (i.e. “property”) for granted.

Thus, seeing clearly that 1) the concept of property exists and 2) the concept of righteousness exist, we can use meaningfully phrases like “ X is generally seen as a legitimate property holder”, with all hat this entitles. As to the dynamic of the process, who comes to hold what property, I trust neither of us believes that the State had anything to do with either the initial distribution of property, nor that property cannot change hands without a State.

 

And than again, even defining the State as the legitimate monopoly of force implies that the concept on “property” has some meaning, else how could “monopoly” be understood?

 

Thus what you hold against my definition also stands against the more orthodox definite.

 

All I’m saying is that rearranging the information we have, and what we take for granted, we can see that the State is not just the “legitimated monopolist of force”, but the “legitimated breaker of property conventions”. As to what do such conventions mount, one cannot say a priori.

 

Perhaps it would help if one could come up a counterexample: a State that emerged where no concept of property at all existed? Even as a though-experiment, among ideal Buddhist monks for example, this would be helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

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I think the confusion you point to is merely because the general definition assumes implicitly that the monopoly being considered ranges over a geographical area and remains with the institution in perpetuity and cannot be transferred regardless of the arrangement of private property owners in the region.

in other words the state is the legal monopoly of force over a geographical area and is not a landowner.(though may be an illegitimate land-holder)

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 2:57 PM

nirgrahamUK:

I think the confusion you point to is merely because the general definition assumes implicitly that the monopoly being considered ranges over a geographical area and remains with the institution in perpetuity and cannot be transferred regardless of the arrangement of private property owners in the region.

in other words the state is the legal monopoly of force over a geographical area and is not a landowner.(though may be an illegitimate land-holder)

Perhaps if we consider the situation that arises when two or more states are present, we could see that a state vis-à-vis an other is in the same position of a “normal” land-holder: should a new state take control over the territory formerly possessed by the first state, it then becomes its own territory, just like property passes on between two individuals in a free market. Of course the parallel is far from perfect, but generally I believe that states to need not be attached to territory in per se, and can switch territories as time goes by.

The fact that between states and individuals no such transaction take place, as one would expect from normal property holders, just emphasizes that the State changes form such normal land-holder only as it is regarded as having the right to infringe property conventions.

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Juan replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 4:01 PM
This sums up the issue quite nicely
Banned:
You cannot legally shoot someone and endanger their life unless they pose a threat to your own life. The idea that you can do whatever you want to people on a certain plot of land because you have mixed your labor with it is completely absurd.
Somehow I suspect it will be completely ignored.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 4:26 PM

Juan:
This sums up the issue quite nicely
Banned:
You cannot legally shoot someone and endanger their life unless they pose a threat to your own life. The idea that you can do whatever you want to people on a certain plot of land because you have mixed your labor with it is completely absurd.
Somehow I suspect it will be completely ignored.

 

To repeat my objection to that post, would person A asking me to shoot him (perhaps he suffers a conical malady and has unbearable pains), and me complying mean aggression against A? To those that say “yes, killing a human is aggression, no mater on what condition”, I have nothing more to say, for our ideas diverge too much.

 

If, on the contrary, one sees that anything at all that is conducted voluntarily  between two or more persons is justifiable, no mater what a third party might think about the particular transaction, if we stick to Human Will as the highest Judge of them all, then we must see that a land-holder posting at his doorstep “be entering this property you agree to be potentially murdered without previous notice”, aggresses against t no one at all, for anyone shot in this manner has done so voluntarily, completely free of coercion.

 

Thus, a land-holder, as long as he makes it clear beforehand to anyone the condition of entering his premises can impose whatever condition to whomever enters as long as they agree to remain within the premises. I really don’t see anything particular challenging, form a theoretical point of view, in this idea.

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Juan replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 4:42 PM
“be entering this property you agree to be potentially murdered without previous notice”
Just more nonsense. This is not a serious discussion.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 4:45 PM

Juan:
Just more nonsense. This is not a serious discussion.

 

Disarming argument indeedWink 

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Juan replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 4:48 PM
Two words for you : inalienable rights.

By the way, don't fool yourself : a page full of fallacies is not an argument.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 4:51 PM

Juan:
Two words for you : inalienable rights.

 

For Heaven’s Sake, if I where suffering from a tremendously painful incurable malady I wouldn’t want an “inalienable rights” believer as my doctor.

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Juan replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 5:00 PM
I'm sure that in a free market you would be able to buy any sort of poison and drink it if you want. You don't need the 'services' of a member of the medical mafia if you want to kill yourself. Still, I don't think this is relevant to the definition of 'state'.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 5:04 PM

Juan:
I'm sure that in a free market you would be able to buy any sort of poison and drink it if you want. You don't need the 'services' of a member of the medical mafia if you want to kill yourself.

 

What if I’m paralytic, and can but control my head? Would it be unthinkable for me not to want to live a single day in that state? Can I kill myself? No, I can only seek the help of others verbally.

 

What I just want someone to kill me, for whatever reason? Why can’t a transaction between two parties take place? Because someone else disagrees? Sound a lot like the State to me.

 

 

Juan:
Still, I don't think this is relevant to the definition of 'state'.

 

I think it really is important due to the reasons I outlined in my “two pages of fallacies” above.

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Juan replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 5:13 PM
What if I’m paralytic, and can but control my head? Would it be unthinkable for me not to want to live a single day in that state? Can I kill myself? No, I can only seek the help of others verbally.
Hm. Another irrelevant lifeboat scenario. Well, this one is somewhat original in that it's not about saving a life by stealing but about ending a life.
Why can’t a transaction between two parties take place? Because someone else disagrees? Sound a lot like the State to me.
Fine. Still, assisted suicide has nothing to do with the idea that, by posting a sign, you get people to 'agree' to any sort of deranged dictates you may come up with as 'owner' of a plot of land.

That is what sounds like pure statism to me. Giving orders to PEOPLE and lamely justifying it by invoking ownership over LAND.

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filc replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 5:54 PM

Merlin,

So here is the difference in situations. In the situation you described where people who enter a building agree to being shot they do so willingly and voluntarily. The owner may find that no one enters his home, perhaps thats what his intentions were. Afterall this is a fairly common method of dealing with tresspassers. Posting a sign letting people know they are not wanted or allowed.

The difference with the state is that it has claimed ownership of an entire geographical region, the entire country. You are only renting land from it. The public has no option to go to another bar, the entire country is that single bar where they, the state, gets to have their way with you.

So the difference is legitimate claim and scale. The state has illegitimate claim to an entire region of planet earth. They proceed to tell you what to do and how to live on what you thought was your property.

A man who posts a sign that says he will shoot you if you enter is just protecting himself and his property. "The punishment doesn't fit the crime" is a second discussion. Getting into that I think would be off topic from what you originally were discussing.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 6:13 PM

filc:

Merlin,

So here is the difference in situations. In the situation you described where people who enter a building agree to being shot they do so willingly and voluntarily. The owner may find that no one enters his home, perhaps thats what his intentions were. Afterall this is a fairly common method of dealing with tresspassers. Posting a sign letting people know they are not wanted or allowed.

The difference with the state is that it has claimed ownership of an entire geographical region, the entire country. You are only renting land from it. The public has no option to go to another bar, the entire country is that single bar where they, the state, gets to have their way with you.

So the difference is legitimate claim and scale. The state has illegitimate claim to an entire region of planet earth. They proceed to tell you what to do and how to live on what you thought was your property.

A man who posts a sign that says he will shoot you if you enter is just protecting himself and his property. "The punishment doesn't fit the crime" is a second discussion. Getting into that I think would be off topic from what you originally were discussing.

Precisely! That’s what I’m saying, that the State differs from any property holder just because people allow it to violate other’s property rights. I’m NOT trying to justify the State, nor say that it is just a property holder like all others. All the point of this thread was to discuss this idea: ANY property holder is a legitimate monopolist of force within a given territory (his property). The State is just a special case of such property holder: an entity which is legitimated when infringing the property rights of others. In view of the Rothbard idiom that all rights are but property rights, I believe that this latter definition of the State is more suitable to the libertarian theoretical set. The orthodox definition is surely found lacking.  

 

 

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filc replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 6:28 PM

Think of it like this to. The State knows how integral property rights are society. So it has simply illegitimately extended it's claim over the whole region. 

It makes us think that they are abandoning property rights, thats not true. They may be abandoning the respect for property rights but they are most certainly attempting to practice illegitimate claim over a region.

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Juan replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 6:32 PM
A man who posts a sign that says he will shoot you if you enter is just protecting himself and his property. "The punishment doesn't fit the crime" is a second discussion.
Wrong. It's the main discussion.

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

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Juan replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 6:36 PM
ANY property holder is a legitimate monopolist of force within a given territory (his property).
False.
The State is just a special case of such property holder:
False. The state is not a property holder.
an entity which is legitimated when infringing the property rights of others.
Not sure what you mean.
In view of the Rothbard idiom that all rights are but property rights
Rothbard said that. It is false though.

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

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Why dont we just define the state as "the orginization in a given territory (subject to change over time) which is percieved by the majority of its population to have soveirgn rights over the land, people, and property held therein; the structure of governance and laws employed to accomplish its ends"  

Reality is a lot more nuanced than that... which is kind of why these circular egg-head arguments are pointless in the first place.. but i digress

In States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. ... In short, a law everywhere and for everything!

~Peter Kropotkin

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Merlin replied on Tue, Jan 19 2010 1:43 AM

Perhaps our argument here is expanding too much. Allow me just one question: can we say of any legitimate property holder, that he is the legitimate monopolist of force within a given territory (his property)? If so, the definition of the State must change, for as it is, it also encompasses ordinary property holders. That is all.  

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scineram replied on Tue, Jan 19 2010 5:37 AM

Lot of public lands are not stolen, for they were never private.

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Merlin replied on Tue, Jan 19 2010 5:57 AM

scineram:

Lot of public lands are not stolen, for they were never private.

 

The State didn’t homestead public land, it just claimed it.

 

But still, to repeat myself, even if we just forgot how public land became public (mostly plunder and confiscation), and even if we declare all real estate henceforth (including private houses, etc.) becomes publicly owned, shortly if we grant every wish of any socialist, but with a sole condition:  that no more confiscation shall take place, and the State shall henceforth behave just like any other honest property holder, even under such conditions that Rothbard immediately pointed to as a “last russe of a decaying state”, that entity would cease to be a State immediately, although practically things would continue as they are for months.

 

Of course, that shall never happen. But still, for theoretical purposes of defining the State, it’s an interesting thought experiment.

 

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AJ replied on Tue, Jan 19 2010 6:21 AM

Merlin:
Saying that the State is a “monopoly of force” would be like asserting that Humans are “warm blooded creatures”. We fail to render the uniqueness of the State, because that very definition encompasses the property holder: I too, I my own house, set my own law, and assume to myself the full power of using coercion. Can this power be abused? As long as I make it clear to anyone that I myself exert full powers in my house, than all my actions are, by definition, being voluntarily accepted by whoever enters. They are, according to libertarian ethics, intrinsically right.

You don't have monopoly on force in your house as soon anyone enters your property carrying a weapon. Again, when I say monopoly on force I'm not talking about legitimacy; I'm talking about control. The very fact that someone is deemed a "property holder" (recalling that we're talking about property in terms of de facto rights here, nothing about right and wrong) is itself based on the de facto enforcement of that person's rights as a property holder.

Merlin:
Thus, seeing clearly that 1) the concept of property exists and 2) the concept of righteousness exist, we can use meaningfully phrases like “ X is generally seen as a legitimate property holder”, with all hat this entitles.

Sure, but if we use this definition of State then not even the US government qualifies, since most people in the US see the government as legitimate.

Merlin:
And than again, even defining the State as the legitimate monopoly of force implies that the concept on “property” has some meaning, else how could “monopoly” be understood?

I'm saying leave out the word legitimate. "Monopoly on force" is understood as a person or group that has enough force to determine significantly the terms on which others (in a given territory) will - de facto - have access to force.

Merlin:
All I’m saying is that rearranging the information we have, and what we take for granted, we can see that the State is not just the “legitimated monopolist of force”, but the “legitimated breaker of property conventions”. As to what do such conventions mount, one cannot say a priori.

Yes, if you include the word legitimate then the latter definition is more accurate than the former; but I'm saying there's no real purpose served by using the term legitimate in the first place. What - at least I - am against is just monopolies on force.

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Merlin replied on Tue, Jan 19 2010 7:13 AM

AJ:
Yes, if you include the word legitimate then the latter definition is more accurate than the former; but I'm saying there's no real purpose served by using the term legitimate in the first place. What - at least I - am against is just monopolies on force.

 

I apologize, but I failed to get your point the first time.

 

Now I believe the word legitimate should by all means be included because, strictly speaking, there can be no Human entity wielding an absolute monopoly of force on a given territory (for any decent amount of time), regardless of what other think of this monopoly. I don’t believe that any individual or association of individual has ever possessed even half percent of the resources needed to command an absolute monopoly on force. The State doesn’t exit because it can just silence everyone. It sure can silence a few people, as we al know, but if a large minority of the population woke up tomorrow and decided to go for anarchy, do you believe that the State would survive? When the Romanian communist regime fell, the government ordered the army to fire on the protesters. What could have been massive bloodshed just ended when the troop directed their weapons against their officers, not the people. You see, no one can maintain an absolute monopoly of force. Only a monopoly of force that is maintained because others allow you to, i.e.  is generally viewed as legitimate, has any meaning.

 

PS: although the dynamist of an absolute monopoly of force could apply to an entity known as “God” or a very advances Alien civilizationDevil.

 

 

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AJ replied on Tue, Jan 19 2010 8:57 AM

Yes, no monopoly is absolute. That's why I said a monopoly on force can "significantly" determine the terms on which other will have access to force.

But you're right that the monopoly on force would have to be much more of a monopoly if it weren't for the popular support it enjoys. So it's sort of chicken-and-egg, because if we recommend people not to support the monopoly on force and enough people follow our recommendation, the monopoly is no longer monopolistic enough to warrant the name.

I think the big picture is this: If I am going to advocate anything, it should be an action that is as simple and agreeable as possible while still achieving my goals. So what action do I recommend? Stop supporting monopolies on force. That is all. Since I am framing the situation this way, with only one object and one action, it makes sense to define that object as the State. It may be technically better - in light of what I wrote in the previous paragraph - to instead say "Stop supporting monopolies on power," because then the idea isn't limited to capacity for violence, but includes the power of enjoying public "legitimacy." Anyway, whether we call it force or power, I think the best definition of a state is a (territorial) monopoly on force/power.

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Merlin replied on Tue, Jan 19 2010 9:25 AM

AJ:

Yes, no monopoly is absolute. That's why I said a monopoly on force can "significantly" determine the terms on which other will have access to force.

But you're right that the monopoly on force would have to be much more of a monopoly if it weren't for the popular support it enjoys. So it's sort of chicken-and-egg, because if we recommend people not to support the monopoly on force and enough people follow our recommendation, the monopoly is no longer monopolistic enough to warrant the name.

I think the big picture is this: If I am going to advocate anything, it should be an action that is as simple and agreeable as possible while still achieving my goals. So what action do I recommend? Stop supporting monopolies on force. That is all. Since I am framing the situation this way, with only one object and one action, it makes sense to define that object as the State. It may be technically better - in light of what I wrote in the previous paragraph - to instead say "Stop supporting monopolies on power," because then the idea isn't limited to capacity for violence, but includes the power of enjoying public "legitimacy." Anyway, whether we call it force or power, I think the best definition of a state is a (territorial) monopoly on force/power.

 

Interesting idea indeed. Still, for technical reason, I myself cling to my “the only guy allowed to cheat”. Fine discussion, nonetheless.

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AJ replied on Tue, Jan 19 2010 9:40 AM

Merlin:
I myself cling to my “the only guy allowed to cheat”.

That's another good way to frame it. The thing is, people can come back with either collectivist notions like "the government is us" or democratic fallacies like "everyone can be elected so it's not cheating." These can be refuted, but that requires additional argument on your part and a particularly open mind on theirs.

However, if you want something along those lines, how about just "territoriality"? State = any person or group that has jurisdiction over a whole territory, i.e., one that is way larger than any one person could reasonably own. The key aspect here is "you can't opt out of the legal system" (without leaving the territory). Then you can advocate voluntarism/panarchism, which can also be stated as only one singular and rather agreeable tenet: Let people opt out without having to leave the territory.

In other words, the one recommended action is, "Stop disallowing free legal association among consenting adults within the territory."

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Merlin:

So, where do “real” states differ from anarchistic individuals exercising their right on their own property?

 

Simple,

 

  1. States exercise their power on other people’s property, not just their own,
  2. States gain their property mostly in a non-voluntary fashion (expropriation, war),
  3. States do not recognize the right unlimited to leave (either by closing borders or seceding with one’s property form the State altogether).

1. How do you define who's property is who's?

2. Louisiana Purchase, Alaska, Gadsden Purchase...

3. Some states allow you to emigrate.

I don't really see the difference between a landlord and a renter, and the state and a citizen, from a property rights standpoint.

 

"What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is no word, no thought, no concept. What he says is not what is meant, and what he means is unsayable." - Max Stirner, Stirner's Critics
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Merlin replied on Thu, Feb 18 2010 3:37 PM

Jackson LaRose:
1. How do you define who's property is who's?

 

That’s the catch: the State has no independent existence from the property regime. I.e. the “state” among propertyless tribes is not the same as the “state” in a private-property regime. It depends on the particular property ethics in the community.

 

Jackson LaRose:
2. Louisiana Purchase, Alaska, Gadsden Purchase...

But than again, I said "mostly''

Jackson LaRose:
3. Some states allow you to emigrate.
.

With my rightful property? I don't think so. If you emigrate you have to leave every immovable posesion behind. hardly "free emigration".

Jackson LaRose:
I don't really see the difference between a landlord and a renter, and the state and a citizen, from a property rights standpoint.

Than we are close to agreeing. The moment the State will be denied the right of Eminent Domain, and will be forced to actually purchase property in teh market, it will cease, little by little, beign a State, and will turn into a (massively inefficient) private firm.

 

 

 

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filc replied on Thu, Feb 18 2010 3:38 PM

Jackson LaRose:

1. How do you define who's property is who's?

2. Louisiana Purchase, Alaska, Gadsden Purchase...

3. Some states allow you to emigrate.

I don't really see the difference between a landlord and a renter, and the state and a citizen, from a property rights standpoint.

It begs the question, whether the state actually owns that land. That they had the right to purchase it in the first place, and that the purchase itself was not a violation of some already pre-established land owner.

If the state is the land owner then our taxes are nothing more then rent.

Republican's have no basis for arguing the lowering of taxes, unless they believed that the state did not have legitimate claim over the land. But if they did believe the state was legitimate then so are it's rent rates, regardless of the price.

 

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Merlin:
With my rightful property? I don't think so. If you emigrate you have to leave every immovable posesion behind. hardly "free emigration".

How is it your property?  Why aren't you just considered a lessee of the state's property?

Merlin:
Than we are close to agreeing. The moment the State will be denied the right of Eminent Domain, and will be forced to actually purchase property in teh market, it will cease, little by little, beign a State, and will turn into a (massively inefficient) private firm.

Again, how have you determined it's actually your property to begin with?

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filc:
It begs the question, whether the state actually owns that land

It sure does.

filc:
That they had the right to purchase it in the first place

Why wouldn't they?

filc:
and that the purchase itself was not a violation of some already pre-established land owner.

If it was purchased, wouldn't that be a voluntary exchange?

filc:
If the state is the land owner then our taxes are nothing more then rent.

Yep.

filc:
Republican's have no basis for arguing the lowering of taxes, unless they believed that the state did not have legitimate claim over the land

Not true, they may think that as elected officials, it is their duty to care for their constituents.  They happen to think the best way to do that is let them keep more of their money.  A Shepard tries to provide the best for his flock.

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