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Is the state coercive?

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QuisCustodiet Posted: Sun, Oct 14 2012 8:31 PM

This is my first time posting on the forum. In all seriousness, I have been plagued in recent weeks with the title of this post.

Let's suppose that a young man living with his parents in the apartment in which he was raised has just turned 18. His parents move out and leave him to pay for the rent, utilities, etc., which are the conditions of his continuing to live there. The rent is $500 per week (or if it helps illustrate the point, say, 20% of his income), and all residents must show up once a week at the YMCA pool to compete with the tenants of other apartment buildings in water polo, and no tenant may cook for his or herself, meaning all food is supplied by the landlord, and outside food is illegal.

Now, is this 18-year-old being subjected to involuntary servitude by his landlord? Is this theft, kidnaping, or slavery?

I would imagine not, on the grounds that he may leave to find another place to live if he finds these conditions objectionable, and prefers not to be forced to comply with them. His landlord has placed no restrictions on moving into a different apartment building if he so chooses. If he tries to stay and not meet the conditions established by the landlord, the landlord will kick the young man out, or punish him in a cage in the apartment’s basement.

So how is it that the "If you don't like it, you can move" argument is sound for the case of the young man in the apartment, but not for the people living under a state?

There are, of course, many barriers to moving that prevent us from leaving the jurisdiction of a state if we object to taxation, conscription, forced testimonies, etc. We could feel an emotional connection to our homeland, or to our neighbors and friends, just as could the young man in the apartment in which he was raised.

Additionally, there can be significant economic barriers to moving -- both out of the jurisdiction of a state and out of an apartment building -- in time and money.

Why do we call the exchanges between the landlord and the young man voluntary, but those between the state and citizens coercion?

Is it that there are other apartments in the world where the young man could chose to live, and no totally free society to which we can escape? Suppose there were one free society on Earth -- say, somewhere on territory formerly belonging to the Canadian government. Does that make the things all states do voluntary, since we could move to the free society, just as the young man could move to another apartment?

What if the only other apartment building is in Siberia? Surely we could not expect this young man to move all the way over there just to escape living in this strange apartment building. Further, what if there were no other apartment buildings on Earth? Would this landlord then be considered a criminal, as many consider the state to be?

One final question I have on the subject is in response to Tom Woods's YouTube video, "When Did I Sign This ‘Social Contract’?" In it, he says that a homeowner may insist that all guests in his or her house wear a funny hat, but that homeowner does not have the right to force others to do the same in their houses.

Applying this to the state, does this mean that immigrants are not being coerced by their new government? If they know that State A will conscript them into the military, and upon being granted citizenship, they register for the Selective Service, can this still be called coercion?

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So how is it that the "If you don't like it, you can move" argument is sound for the case of the young man in the apartment, but not for the people living under a state?

If the man leaves the landlords house, he can legitimately leave as the land lords property is the land lords property (because the land lords property is legitimate, the land lord voluntarily made a trade deal with another person to buy the property in order to rent it out to other people).

Does the state hold legitimate property? No. It must buy it from others. Where does the state get its money? Through taxes, which is coerced from people. Ergo- State property is illegitimate, and all property that "belongs" to the state is illegitimate, as the ultimate source of state property comes from coercion of the citizen.

 

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cab21 replied on Sun, Oct 14 2012 8:53 PM

so what about states formed by cooperation of landlords, all the money from the state came from the rent the landlords recieved by the property the landlords owned? this corporation formed by the landlords funtions as a state and charges fees and rent rather than "taxes".

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Oct 14 2012 9:08 PM

So how is it that the "If you don't like it, you can move" argument is sound for the case of the young man in the apartment, but not for the people living under a state?

Is this Eric?

Anyway, the point is that the landlord has legitimate ownership over the property. The state does not.

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Groucho replied on Sun, Oct 14 2012 9:27 PM

cab21:
so what about states formed by cooperation of landlords, all the money from the state came from the rent the landlords recieved by the property the landlords owned? this corporation formed by the landlords funtions as a state and charges fees and rent rather than "taxes".

Why on earth would all the landlords choose to form a state just so it can tax their rental receipts?

Consider a slightly reworded version of your idea - states formed by the "working class", all of the money from the state came from the wages the workers received by selling their labor. This corporation formed by the workers fucntions as a state and charges wages and salary rather than "taxes."

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Is it the basis for your claim that the state does not have legitimate ownership over the property that public property was bought coersively-obtained resources, as was suggested by Kelvin?

If so, how do you respond to the question posed in the comment above yours about a state formed and funded by a group of landlords?

Also, how could it be said that an immigrant (let's say, from Bul...Balvaria; yeah, Balvaria) who, before being granted citizenship, registered with the Selective Service, knowing that he or she would not have to register with the American Selective Service if they remained living in their country of origin, is being conscripted against his or her will? The same is the case for being subject to the collection services of the IRS and other actions taken by the American government that libertarians consider to be done against the will of the citizens?

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This was directed at "Wheylous," and I meant Bavaria; Balvaria doesn't exist.

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Another thought: could it be that the case of the young man in the apartment who reluctantly accepts the terms of living in the apartment is an acceptable libertarian example of an implicit consent?

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cab21 replied on Sun, Oct 14 2012 10:10 PM

why would landlords not want to cooperate and provide more services together than they could on their own? we have community organizations and social clubs, would those go away? land owners have the choice to collectivise land, do they not? they can create intentional communities. maybe you just  don't call it a "state", but owners can sell on conditions they want and only sell the rights they want and keep other rights reserved when they sell or rent or lease ect.

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Anenome replied on Sun, Oct 14 2012 11:53 PM
 
 

Wheylous:

"So how is it that the "If you don't like it, you can move" argument is sound for the case of the young man in the apartment, but not for the people living under a state?"

Anyway, the point is that the landlord has legitimate ownership over the property. The state does not.

I came here to say this. /concur

The state does not legitimately or justly own any of the land it claims jurisdiction over. Either it has claimed that land by fiat declaration, or by theft and conquest, or by paying for land with money stolen from its own citizens. Any way you look at it, its ownership claim is unjust.

If in fact the state did limit itself to land it solely owned, that would be a vast improvement.

I suggest OP read Ethics of Liberty, by Murray Rothbard. Which is available in digital edition free by clicking right here. You can begin reading in mere moments.

 
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Autolykos replied on Mon, Oct 15 2012 9:59 AM

Welcome to the forum, QuisCustodiet. smiley

First I'd like to ask you what your definition of "coercion" is. My own definition of it is "the use or threat of force", but your definition may be different.

Given this definition, the state is clearly coercive. But it's hardly the only thing that is. As I see it, coercion per se isn't the problem. I don't think all coercion is created equal. Some coercion I'm willing to accept (i.e. not resist against), while other coerion I'm not. More specifically, I'm willing to accept non-aggressive coercion while I'm not willing to accept aggressive coercion. By "aggressive coercion", I mean coercion that has not been undertaken in response to previous coercion. I think a synonymous term here is "non-reciprocal coercion".

With all that said, to me the question is whether the state's coercion is reciprocal, and thus legitimate (IMO), or non-reciprocal, and thus illegitimate. The "love it or leave it" argument only makes sense if the state is considered to be the landlord. If that's the case, then everyone who thinks he's a landlord isn't really one - not in the sense of sovereign ownership, as the state says that it's the sovereign owner of the landlord's land. As libertarians (including anarcho-capitalists) see it, "non-sovereign ownership" is a contradictory term. Hence, if we're consistent, we see that the state sees itself as owning all the land which "its" people believe they own.

However, I don't think the state's control over any land is legitimate, and therefore doesn't constitute ownership in my opinion. In other words, the state has acquired control over land through aggressive/non-reciprocal coercion, which I think is illegitimate. To use your apartment example, it would be like a gang invading the apartment complex, forcing the owner(s) away from it at gunpoint, and then setting up their own terms of residence for people living there that they can simply take or leave.

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"First I'd like to ask you what your definition of 'coercion' is. My own definition of it is "the use or threat of force", but your definition may be different.

Given this definition, the state is clearly coercive."

 

I would only amend your definition of coercion to include the word aggressive before the word force.

I understand the argument about legitimate ownership, and that the state does not legitimately own anything, and therefore may not set conditions of living somewhere as the landlord is free to do. However, does that mean that any action it takes is coercive?

Let's say a man spends half of his workday pickpocketing people; the other half he spends selling bananas at a fruit stand. The fruit stand was bought with money he got from pickpocketing people. Does this mean that if I buy bananas from the fruit stand that I am being coerced?

Also, I should have worded my original post differently. My question was more about the will of the 18-year-old tenant. Are the conditions of his living there being imposed against his will? Could it really be that because the landlord owns legitimate property and the state does not, that the landlord is not doing anything against the tenants will (including threatening that if the tenant remains there and doesn't follow the rules, he'll be put in a cage in the basement) but the state is doing something against his will?

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gotlucky replied on Mon, Oct 15 2012 11:20 AM

@QuisCustodiet

I see that the discussion has progressed, but I still want to reply to your OP. Many libertarians define the state as the territorial monopoly on (lawful) coercion. In other words, if you use coercion, if the state doesn't like it, then your use of coercion is illicit. So, by that definition, the state is necessarily coercive. If you want to define the state as just a regular government - an entity that governs - then no, the state is not necessarily coercive (or at least not necessarily aggressive). However, I do not find that definition to be useful, as there is a distinction between the American State and the governing body of the local chess club. Sure, the chess club might coerce people into leaving if they don't follow the rules, but this is not (necessarily) aggressive coercion the way the state is aggressive. Most, if not all, aspects of the state would be found in a free market (law, charity, etc.), but the state is unique in that it forces you to use either its services or buy a service you don't want, and it also forces you to pay for other people's services. The local chess club does not  force you to do anything unless you want to be a member of the chess club. But you have no choice when it comes to being a "member" of the state.

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Oct 15 2012 12:11 PM

QuisCustodiet:
I would only amend your definition of coercion to include the word aggressive before the word force.

I had a feeling you would say that, but I wasn't sure. I'm happy to go along with that definition, if that would make things easier for you.

QuisCustodiet:
I understand the argument about legitimate ownership, and that the state does not legitimately own anything, and therefore may not set conditions of living somewhere as the landlord is free to do. However, does that mean that any action it takes is coercive?

Let's say a man spends half of his workday pickpocketing people; the other half he spends selling bananas at a fruit stand. The fruit stand was bought with money he got from pickpocketing people. Does this mean that if I buy bananas from the fruit stand that I am being coerced?

That's a good point. I didn't mean to imply that I thought every single thing the state ever does as being what you call "coercive". In your example, I don't think you're being coerced (again using your definition) if you buy bananas from the fruit stand. But I do think your possession of the bananas is ultimately illegitimate (at least prima facie), because the person who sold them to you came to possess them illegitimately beforehand. Does that make sense?

QuisCustodiet:
Also, I should have worded my original post differently. My question was more about the will of the 18-year-old tenant. Are the conditions of his living there being imposed against his will? Could it really be that because the landlord owns legitimate property and the state does not, that the landlord is not doing anything against the tenants will (including threatening that if the tenant remains there and doesn't follow the rules, he'll be put in a cage in the basement) but the state is doing something against his will?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I think it really depends on what you mean by "against his will". Many times that phrase is used to refer to things that people would prefer if all other things were equal or somesuch. For example, maybe I would prefer it if my landlord didn't require me to go to the YMCA once a week as a condition of renting an apartment of his. In that sense, the landlord's requirement is contrary to what I'd prefer.

I think maybe a better way of looking at it is in terms of rights. From that perspective, I don't think I have any right to be on the landlord's property unless he expressly gives me that right. If my right to be on his property is contingent on me doing certain things, that's up to him. All other things being equal, I don't think I'd have any right to be there. In the case of the government, there's been no express assignment of rights. Even the so-called "rule of law" is a sham, because it amounts to this: "You can stay on my property as long as you abide by the terms I set, but I'm allowed to change those terms anytime I want and in any way I want, and I'm allowed to do so without making sure you know about it beforehand." The only way for that to make sense is for it to mean that you agree up front to anything and everything that he ever says.

I think it's actually even worse than that with the state, because with the state we're not just talking about being allowed to stay on property. We're also talking about being not allowed to leave the property (i.e. being imprisoned), as well as our possessions and/or ourselves being damaged and/or destroyed. So essentially, I think the state considers itself to own us as well as the land we live on.

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Wow. I really appreciate your response. This is tremendously helpful.

I'm convinced that the state does not have the right to require positive action of anyone (whereas legitimate private property owners do), but I'm not quite there on the question of whether such positive requirements of the state are examples aggressive force.

Remember: in the scenario, the landlord will put any tenant in a cage in the basement for failing to comply with the rules. By virtue of the legitimacy of the landlord's property, putting tenants in cages is not aggressive force?

Do you have any ideas about those who knowingly move to the jurisdiction of a new state, specifically on the question of aggression? Would taxation, conscription, etc. really be aggressive force if only non-US-born individuals were subjected to them? I accept that the state has no right to require any action from anybody, but is it accurate to say immigrants are being aggressed against (or enslaved) by this new state to which they moved?

Again, I can't even express how constructive this has been. I love this forum already.

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Anenome replied on Mon, Oct 15 2012 6:44 PM
 
 

QuisCustodiet:

I understand the argument about legitimate ownership, and that the state does not legitimately own anything, and therefore may not set conditions of living somewhere as the landlord is free to do. However, does that mean that any action it takes is coercive?

You have to understand that democracy itself is innately coercive. It is a mechanism for legitimizing aggressive coercion, for what it does is say that it's okay to force the minority to follow the majority's decision, which is prima facie coercion.

Beyond this, the state finances all of its activities with money that it did not earn, but with money which it took via coercion from citizens. Therefore, everything it does is tainted by the means by which it obtained funds to do it. Anything done with stolen funds is unethical.

Thirdly, anything that government does that isn't an exercise of power, and therefore coercion, can be done better and cheaper and more responsibly by the market, which is the domain of non-coercive action generally. Government reserves the use of coercion to itself. That's what it means to be government--to use coercion for this or that.

We've put up with it because they've conditioned people to believe there is no other way, and because people are comfortable with the social systems they're born into, accepting them a priori virtually.

QuisCustodiet:
Let's say a man spends half of his workday pickpocketing people; the other half he spends selling bananas at a fruit stand. The fruit stand was bought with money he got from pickpocketing people. Does this mean that if I buy bananas from the fruit stand that I am being coerced?

No, but you would be buying goods for which he does not justly own title to, for he bought them with stolen money. Ultimately, if his theft is discovered, what he sold you should be taken away also from you, in order to make restitution to his victim, and your recourse is suit against him for fraud, for selling you things he did not legitimately own.

 

 
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Anenome replied on Mon, Oct 15 2012 10:00 PM
 
 

QuisCustodiet:

I'm convinced that the state does not have the right to require positive action of anyone (whereas legitimate private property owners do), but I'm not quite there on the question of whether such positive requirements of the state are examples aggressive force.

Remember: in the scenario, the landlord will put any tenant in a cage in the basement for failing to comply with the rules. By virtue of the legitimacy of the landlord's property, putting tenants in cages is not aggressive force?

If a landlord were to forc tenants into the cage, then that would be aggression, as it is against their will and violates their property right in themselves which precludes people simply locking others up, that would be false-imprisonment.

However, the landlord, by right of property and contract, could require that a violator of the usage agreement submit himself voluntarily to being caged for a term, or else breach the contract and be escorted off the premises.

Thus, if the landlord caged anyone, it would be the tenants voluntarily submitting to be caged because they would like to continue living at the landlord's property. However, they'd be free to, at any time, decide they want to leave and break the contract with the landlord, and leave the property.

That would be the only way that he could do it. Because violating an agreement is not on par with violating another's rights. Agreements do not create new rights between people. The tenant has a license to use property owned by the landlord, and the only remedy for breaking their contract is escorting the tenant off the property.

QuisCustodiet:
Do you have any ideas about those who knowingly move to the jurisdiction of a new state, specifically on the question of aggression?

Knowingly moving into a so-called jurisdiction does not autmatically make you subject to it. In a free society, since all land and area would be privately owned, moving anywhere would involve agreeing to certain obligations while in that space with the recourse being escorted off and disinvited thereafter.

Any entity, much less the state, does not have the right to aggress. Ever. And it is the goal of libertarianism to advocate and create a society where aggression is entirely absent from human relations. This is the meaning of our adherence to the non-aggression principle (NAP).

QuisCustodiet:
Would taxation, conscription, etc. really be aggressive force if only non-US-born individuals were subjected to them?

Yes. Because if we recast your question thus: is ethnicity or national origin ever a consideration as to whether stealing money from someone is theft?

The answer must be no. Steal from any person, regardless of nationality, and it is theft, plain and simple.

Same for conscription, which is akin to slavery, kidnapping even. Nationality or national origin plays no part whatsoever in that determination. One need only be human.

QuisCustodiet:
I accept that the state has no right to require any action from anybody, but is it accurate to say immigrants are being aggressed against (or enslaved) by this new state to which they moved?

Yes, if they're being taxed, conscripted, or in any way forced against their will--which is inherent in any democracy. Listen, in a society where there is no aggression, the state nor anyone else could not even force any laws on you. That's why democracy is inherently aggressive, for the majority force laws on the minority. In a free society, you would choose what laws you live by and group together with those who choose similarly.

By doing that, you obsolete any need for democracy, taxation, or politicians.

QuisCustodiet:

Again, I can't even express how constructive this has been. I love this forum already.

Welcome :)

Now go read For a New Liberty by Rothbard, available free in the literature section.

 
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QuisCustodiet:
Would taxation, conscription, etc. really be aggressive force if only non-US-born individuals were subjected to them?

"Yes. Because if we recast your question thus: is ethnicity or national origin ever a consideration as to whether stealing money from someone is theft?"

 

No, you've misunderstood my question. The question was whether or not those state actions constitute aggressive force since a foreigner who becomes a citizen of a new state that does them. The new state to which this person moves would not have the power to tax or conscript them if this person did not move into the new state's jurisdiction. So if I move to Canada, where I know part of my income will be taken by the state, and this will be enforced upon me if I become a citizen, am I really being aggressed against? If not, then a state that only subjects immigrants to the actions which libertarians consider to be "involuntary" is not involuntary.

 

"The answer must be no. Steal from any person, regardless of nationality, and it is theft, plain and simple."

The very question being posed is whether or not this is considered "stealing."

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Anenome replied on Mon, Oct 15 2012 10:46 PM
 
 

QuisCustodiet:
No, you've misunderstood my question. The question was whether or not those state actions constitute aggressive force since a foreigner who becomes a citizen of a new state that does them. The new state to which this person moves would not have the power to tax or conscript them if this person did not move into the new state's jurisdiction. So if I move to Canada, where I know part of my income will be taken by the state, and this will be enforced upon me if I become a citizen, am I really being aggressed against? If not, then a state that only subjects immigrants to the actions which libertarians consider to be "involuntary" is not involuntary.

So, does the foreigner's willingly entering a country legitimate aggression against them? Of course not. The answer is, does the state own the territory the foreigner enters? It does not legitimately own it. It's jurisdiction is a farce. The foreigner is not responsible for that which he did not bring about, and still has inviolate human rights, despite choosing to enter an area under the claim of an illegitimate jurisdictional power.

So, I have to say that no, their action in choosing to enter a place does not legitimate violence against them. Anymore than if you entered the residence of someone who claims he will let you in but reserves the right to murder you at any time if you enter--if he actually does murder you, you cannot be said to have consented to your own murder. It is not a suicide. It is an aggression regardless of circumstances for someone to kill you against your will, claim of jursidction or not. And the same holds for theft and any other situation you want to raise, conscription, etc.

 

 

 
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"So, does the foreigner's willingly entering a country legitimate aggression against them?"

No, I don't know if it is aggression. That's what I'm trying to understand.

 

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I anticipate your response will have to do with legitimacy of property rights. To bring attention to an earlier question I posed:

"Let's say a man spends half of his workday pickpocketing people; the other half he spends selling bananas at a fruit stand. The fruit stand was bought with money he got from pickpocketing people. Does this mean that if I buy bananas from the fruit stand that I am being coerced [as in forced to do something against my will]?"

Okay, so the government's property is illegitimate. Does that mean its interactions with others are against their will?

Am I a slave for having to pay a public parking meeter?

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Anenome replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 12:36 AM
 
 

QuisCustodiet:

"So, does the foreigner's willingly entering a country legitimate aggression against them?"

No, I don't know if it is aggression. That's what I'm trying to understand.

If you accept that taxation is illegitimate theft, and conscription illegitimate, and a host of other gov action illegitimate aggressions, then if you enter a territory a government claims to "own" (illegitimately), that cannot legitimate any aggression against the foreigner, regardless of circumstances. Aggression is always wrong, regardless of circumstance.

"Aggression, for the purposes of the NAP, is defined as the initiation or threatening of violence against a person or legitimately owned property of another."

By this definition of aggression, the only thing that could legitimate aggression against a person is if that person could be owned by another person or a government. Governments cannot own people, thus aggression is never legitimate.

If that doesn't answer your question, please explain what action by government exactly you're wonder whether it's aggression or not.

QuisCustodiet:

I anticipate your response will have to do with legitimacy of property rights. To bring attention to an earlier question I posed:

"Let's say a man spends half of his workday pickpocketing people; the other half he spends selling bananas at a fruit stand. The fruit stand was bought with money he got from pickpocketing people. Does this mean that if I buy bananas from the fruit stand that I am being coerced [as in forced to do something against my will]?"

Okay, so the government's property is illegitimate. Does that mean its interactions with others are against their will?

No. You can buy government cheese, or fruit, without being coerced to do so. But that cheese has been bought with stolen money and is not rightfully the government's to sell. Its sale to you therefore constitutes fraud on the part of the government. Now, if someone fraudulently sells you something, that could be considered indirect coercion--in the sense that they're obtaining value from you by lying, causing you to complete a trade you wouldn't complete if you knew all the facts. But since the chance of your property being taken from you by a court as purchase of stolen property or the like is zero, no one worries about that :\

QuisCustodiet:
Am I a slave for having to pay a public parking meeter?

To the extent that you are coerced by government, you are a slave, for that is how much gov makes your decisions for you. Taking into account all aspects of your life. Most of us in the US at least are about 50% slaves, as the government decides for us how to spend ~50% of our economic product.

Suggest you check out Ethics of Liberty by Rothbard.

 
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Anenome:

QuisCustodiet:
Would taxation, conscription, etc. really be aggressive force if only non-US-born individuals were subjected to them?

Yes. Because if we recast your question thus: is ethnicity or national origin ever a consideration as to whether stealing money from someone is theft?

The answer must be no. Steal from any person, regardless of nationality, and it is theft, plain and simple.

Same for conscription, which is akin to slavery, kidnapping even. Nationality or national origin plays no part whatsoever in that determination. One need only be human.

I think you are missing his point, Anenome, but you are still answering his question and he is not connecting the idea. Let me try to clarify.

 

Correct me if I am wrong, QuisCustodiet, but what I am seeing your question as is this: If, say, a Brit wants to move to the US and become a citizen, the state may grant him this citizenship on the condition that he sign some agreement claiming that he will pay taxes, never speak out against the government, abide by traffic laws, etc.. Quis argues that in this singular, isolated case, we have an instance of "truly consensual government" because the Brit has signed an agreement with the state that in exchange for citizenship, he will do these things. It would be as if the Brit signed the constitution himself, thus binding himself to its laws. He is not bound by a social contract, but a legitimate one.

 

The problem with this, however, is what many have already pointed out; the state does not legitimately own the land that the Brit is moving to (i.e. The lands comprising The U.S.), so, prima facie we can see that this contract between the Brit and The U.S. state is null and void, and any obligations placed on the Brit no longer exist. Why? It would be like the situation pointed out above. If a gang of armed men came and ousted the landlord/owner of the apartment building, then any contracts you sign with them regarding the use of that building are illegitimate in the first place. They do not own the building so it does not follow that they can form contracts stipulating how that building is to be used.

If we ignore this point, however, then perhaps it could be argued that the Brit is not being coerced against if he signs this contract with the state, so long as the state gives back all of the property they stole from the property owners plus restitution, and for some strange reason a few people liked the state and let them keep their land. In this case, the state would legitimately own this property and could enforce this contract but only on these lands. However, in this case the state really ceases to be a state, but rather a voluntary co-op for certain members to cull benefits through, however meager they may end up being. 

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Oh, and even if we ignore the property argument I just made, I see another problem

Per Rothbards Libertarian Ethics, for a contract to be legitimate there must be a transfer of title. It does not appear that the Brit's agreement with the U.S. state satisfies this requirement. If the Brit agrees to do X, Y, and Z, and in exchange the state grants citizenship, where is the title transfer? Citizenship is an idea, a concept, but it is not property. I suppose you could make the argument that citizenship implies a transfer of title to use the infrastructure of the state (i.e. rads, bridges, damns and other such "public goods and services".

However, we are just pissing in the wind if we make the arguments because we really cannot ignore the property argument. Even this infrastructure really just represents the stolen property of the already citizens who funded it through stolen money (i.e. taxes). 

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Great. Your response was very helpful, Texas Trigger. 

So would you say that the pickpocket selling me bananas at the fruit stand that he was able to establish with stolen money is subjecting me to involuntary servitude by insisting that I give him money for the bananas?

And am I being subjected to involuntary servitude for having to pay a public parking meter?

If these two questions can be answered in one response, I think it'll be clear to me.

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 12:51 PM

QuisCustodiet:
Wow. I really appreciate your response. This is tremendously helpful.

You're welcome!

QuisCustodiet:
I'm convinced that the state does not have the right to require positive action of anyone (whereas legitimate private property owners do), but I'm not quite there on the question of whether such positive requirements of the state are examples aggressive force.

Remember: in the scenario, the landlord will put any tenant in a cage in the basement for failing to comply with the rules. By virtue of the legitimacy of the landlord's property, putting tenants in cages is not aggressive force?

I think it would be non-aggressive force only if the tenant explicitly agreed to it beforehand - that is, if he explicitly gave the landlord the right to put him in a cage in the event that he didn't comply with one or more of the rules. I don't think the landlord had any prima facie right to do this, either by virtue of the tenant being on his property or for any other reason.

QuisCustodiet:
Do you have any ideas about those who knowingly move to the jurisdiction of a new state, specifically on the question of aggression? Would taxation, conscription, etc. really be aggressive force if only non-US-born individuals were subjected to them? I accept that the state has no right to require any action from anybody, but is it accurate to say immigrants are being aggressed against (or enslaved) by this new state to which they moved?

I would say that they are because I consider the state's territorial control to be illegitimate. Again, it's like someone invading an apartment complex, kicking out the legitimate landlord, and setting his own terms for new residents. The invader has no right to set any such terms IMO.

QuisCustodiet:
Again, I can't even express how constructive this has been. I love this forum already.

Glad to hear it. smiley

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 12:55 PM

Anenome:
You have to understand that democracy itself is innately coercive. It is a mechanism for legitimizing aggressive coercion, for what it does is say that it's okay to force the minority to follow the majority's decision, which is prima facie coercion.

Are you defining "coercion" here the same way QuisCustodiet has defined it, or the same way I've defined it?

Why are you again singling out democracy vs. other forms of state? I've never understood that.

Anenome:
Beyond this, the state finances all of its activities with money that it did not earn, but with money which it took via coercion from citizens. Therefore, everything it does is tainted by the means by which it obtained funds to do it. Anything done with stolen funds is unethical.

Hence there's no reason to single out democracy vs. other forms of state, now is there?

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 1:23 PM

Anenome:
If a landlord were to forc tenants into the cage, then that would be aggression, as it is against their will and violates their property right in themselves which precludes people simply locking others up, that would be false-imprisonment.

However, the landlord, by right of property and contract, could require that a violator of the usage agreement submit himself voluntarily to being caged for a term, or else breach the contract and be escorted off the premises.

Thus, if the landlord caged anyone, it would be the tenants voluntarily submitting to be caged because they would like to continue living at the landlord's property. However, they'd be free to, at any time, decide they want to leave and break the contract with the landlord, and leave the property.

That would be the only way that he could do it. Because violating an agreement is not on par with violating another's rights. Agreements do not create new rights between people. The tenant has a license to use property owned by the landlord, and the only remedy for breaking their contract is escorting the tenant off the property.

I disagree with this. I think agreements do create new rights between people. A rental agreement itself does that. Under such an agreement, the tenant acquires the right to use the landlord's property (in certain ways and/or under certain conditions), which is a right he didn't have beforehand. Likewise, the landlord could acquire the right to imprison the tenant (in certain ways and/or under certain conditions).

Anenome:
Knowingly moving into a so-called jurisdiction does not autmatically make you subject to it. In a free society, since all land and area would be privately owned, moving anywhere would involve agreeing to certain obligations while in that space with the recourse being escorted off and disinvited thereafter.

I think an individual can legitimately assign rights to others to do things to him, either under certain conditions or universally. However, I don't think that's something to be taken lightly.

Anenome:
Yes, if they're being taxed, conscripted, or in any way forced against their will--which is inherent in any democracy. Listen, in a society where there is no aggression, the state nor anyone else could not even force any laws on you. That's why democracy is inherently aggressive, for the majority force laws on the minority. In a free society, you would choose what laws you live by and group together with those who choose similarly.

You seem to be tacitly defining (redefining?) "aggression" as "the majority forcing laws on the minority". But I think the minority forcing laws on the majority is equally aggressive and therefore wrong.

Aside from that, what do you mean by "laws"?

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 1:50 PM

I think maybe this will clear things up:

If someone stole something and then violently resisted someone else trying to take it from him, I'd say his violent resistance was illegitimate because his possession of the thing in question was illegitimate. That means I don't think it's wrong for anyone to take the stolen property away from him (which is the same as saying anyone has the right to do so).

Taking this a step further, and using your fruit-stand example, I'd say I'm under no obligation to pay you for the bananas I want from your fruit stand, because you stole the fruit stand to begin with. However, if I simply take the bananas from you, that doesn't mean my possession of those bananas is legitimate. IMO it isn't, because they're already owned by someone else, namely the person who you stole the fruit stand from. So whether I pay you for the bananas or I just take them, I'm on the hook for giving them back or otherwise compensating you for them. However, if I did pay you for the bananas, then you owe me that money back (or an equivalent amount), because you had no right to obtain it.

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QuisCustodiet:
Great. Your response was very helpful, Texas Trigger. 

you are very welcome!

 

QuisCustodiet:
So would you say that the pickpocket selling me bananas at the fruit stand that he was able to establish with stolen money is subjecting me to involuntary servitude by insisting that I give him money for the bananas?

I've seen you bring this question up a lot, but I don't think you are being very clear. Here is where I need clarification. (1) Was the stolen money that was used to start the thief's fruit stand stolen from you or some other person? (2) Are you claiming that not only the thief stole money to start the fruit stand, but he is now coercing you to buy his bananas at his fruit stand? (3) When you say "insisting that I give him money for the bananas", do you mean that he stole money from you which he then used to start his fruit stand?

I'll try to answer this anyway because I think I know what you're asking. If a thief steals money from you, starts a banana stand, and sells bananas got by using your stolen money, he has aggressed against you for the thievery. In this instance, he has, in essence, subjected you to involuntary servitude in so far as you labored for that money (and by extension the scarce goods and services it can buy you) but now cannot reap the benefits of your labor to the degree he stole from you. If he stole $100 from you, and it takes you 10 hours to make that, the man has effectively made you his slave for 10 hours.

The man has also aggressed against any of the people who buy the bananas at his stand, because he has committed fraud. Just as was the case with the gang who ousted the owner of the apartment building, the thief has no legitimate right to make contracts regarding property that is not rightfully his (the bananas) and this includes a contract of exchange, implicit or explicit alike. When the thief sells these illegitimately earned bananas, he is now stealing from the buyer of the banana because he has taken money that they presumably earned legitimately and given them property that is yours to begin with. Thus, this property is not his and thus cannot be the purchaser's either because the banana never ceased to be yours in the first place. Because the purchaser was lied to, having been under the impression that by giving their money to the thief they became the rightful owners of the banana, they have been the victims of fraud and theft, for if/when the theft is realized, they would have to return the banana to you, its rightful owner, and now they are in your shoes, left out to dry. They now take recourse with the thief who committed fraud, just as you took recourse with the thief for committing theft.

 

QuisCustodiet:
And am I being subjected to involuntary servitude for having to pay a public parking meter?

That depends. Is the parking meter privately enforced as a condition upon your parking in the owner's parking space? If so, no.

If it is a public parking meter, I see where you are going. "You don't have to park there" you might say. That may be true but, again, the public parking space is already illegitimately owned in the first place.

But lets ignore that. If public land is, in fact, owned by the public, i.e. you, i.e. the taxpayer, then you have every right to park here, because you helped pay for the parking space, at least in theory, but this is a whole other argument. Suffice it to say that the government wants it both ways: it denies the liability of owning land and the responsibility to pay for its upkeep, yet claims to have the right to control it, as evidenced by its placing a meter there. This meter is inconsequential really; it's just salt in the already gaping wound.

 

 

 

 

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Anenome replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 3:26 PM
 
 

Autolykos:

Anenome:
You have to understand that democracy itself is innately coercive. It is a mechanism for legitimizing aggressive coercion, for what it does is say that it's okay to force the minority to follow the majority's decision, which is prima facie coercion.

Are you defining "coercion" here the same way QuisCustodiet has defined it, or the same way I've defined it?

I agree with both your def of coercion and your caveat to the various types, some of which are indeed ethical: involving justice, and the kinds which aren't: aggression and fraud.

Autolykos:
Why are you again singling out democracy vs. other forms of state? I've never understood that.

It was not meant to be exclusionary to other forms of state, only in the modern world we're most concerned with democracy, and because it's harder to understand on first glance why democracy is coercive whereas it's fairly easy to understand why a kingship or any autocracy is coercive. Furthermore, democracy as a concept still has unearned prestige that the other forms do not. Many people would criticize, say, communism for its coercive actions without realizing democracies aren't fundamentally different.

Autolykos:
Anenome:
Beyond this, the state finances all of its activities with money that it did not earn, but with money which it took via coercion from citizens. Therefore, everything it does is tainted by the means by which it obtained funds to do it. Anything done with stolen funds is unethical.

Hence there's no reason to single out democracy vs. other forms of state, now is there?

No. But it's still true of democracies. So, you'd rather I used the broader language of 'state' rather than the specific form of 'democracy'? I see. It's a fair point. I'll try to keep that in mind and incorporate it in the future.

At least in part of my comment I was specifically trying to show why democracies are innately coercive, and I'll keep your comment in mind generally going forward.

 
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Anenome replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 3:37 PM
 
 

Autolykos:
I disagree with this. I think agreements do create new rights between people. A rental agreement itself does that. Under such an agreement, the tenant acquires the right to use the landlord's property (in certain ways and/or under certain conditions), which is a right he didn't have beforehand. Likewise, the landlord could acquire the right to imprison the tenant (in certain ways and/or under certain conditions).

I think the word 'right' is not the best word for such an arrangement and is likely to confuse the issue and people's thinking on it. I think the proper term is 'license.' Unless the tenant has taken full ownership of the territory, he does not have a right to it. He has it licensed to him on certain terms and conditions by its rightful owner.

Autolykos:
Anenome:
Knowingly moving into a so-called jurisdiction does not autmatically make you subject to it. In a free society, since all land and area would be privately owned, moving anywhere would involve agreeing to certain obligations while in that space with the recourse being escorted off and disinvited thereafter.

I think an individual can legitimately assign rights to others to do things to him, either under certain conditions or universally. However, I don't think that's something to be taken lightly.

Well, we disagree there then I think. Can you give me an example? What comes to mind is questions of assissted suicide and considerations of power of attorney and making medical decisions for someone, acting as someone's agent perhaps? I don't think that literally involving a right transfer but sounds more like an agency relationship. The individual retains their right but delegates the choice, the decision, to another.

Autolykos:
Anenome:
Yes, if they're being taxed, conscripted, or in any way forced against their will--which is inherent in any democracy. Listen, in a society where there is no aggression, the state nor anyone else could not even force any laws on you. That's why democracy is inherently aggressive, for the majority force laws on the minority. In a free society, you would choose what laws you live by and group together with those who choose similarly.

You seem to be tacitly defining (redefining?) "aggression" as "the majority forcing laws on the minority". But I think the minority forcing laws on the majority is equally aggressive and therefore wrong.

Aside from that, what do you mean by "laws"?

In a democracy it should be impossible in theory for the minority to force laws on the majority. We know they get around that in practice but nonetheless.

I'm not redefining aggression that way, only saying that forcing laws on the minority is one kind of aggression.

As for what I mean by laws, which I think you ask in the context of the last sentence, you're right that that's a bit of a weasel word the way I used it. I used it that way for easy comprehension, whereas in actual practice they wouldn't be actual laws but simply self-disciplinary rules, malum prohibitum.

One example is a person deciding that he wants to live such that there's no loud music after 10pm. So he adopts this rule, and freely groups together into neighborhoods that follow the same rule and only accept clients that accept the same rule. By this everyone can choose the lifestyle they want without the coercive use of force generally, where there is no victim, and without a need for legislatures or politicians.

 

 
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That's a bingo! Fraud -- I believe that's a new word in this thread. It seems so clear now. I see why my brain wasn't connecting aggression with illegitimate property rights. Wow. Thanks to everyone for their patience on this. 

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Illegitimate property, thus no property rights, thus fraud in claiming property rights (which give the landlord the right to set the conditions he wants for living on his property), thus theft, thus coercion. 

Aside from knowingly omitting the antecedents to the first point of illigetimate property, which I understand as Rothbard explains in Ethics of Liberty and were not discussed in this thread, am I missing anything there?

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Anenome replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 4:52 PM
 
 

Autolykos:

I think maybe this will clear things up:

If someone stole something and then violently resisted someone else trying to take it from him, I'd say his violent resistance was illegitimate because his possession of the thing in question was illegitimate. That means I don't think it's wrong for anyone to take the stolen property away from him (which is the same as saying anyone has the right to do so).

Taking this a step further, and using your fruit-stand example, I'd say I'm under no obligation to pay you for the bananas I want from your fruit stand, because you stole the fruit stand to begin with. However, if I simply take the bananas from you, that doesn't mean my possession of those bananas is legitimate. IMO it isn't, because they're already owned by someone else, namely the person who you stole the fruit stand from. So whether I pay you for the bananas or I just take them, I'm on the hook for giving them back or otherwise compensating you for them. However, if I did pay you for the bananas, then you owe me that money back (or an equivalent amount), because you had no right to obtain it.

I agree with this. And it's a good example of how looking at ethical questions through a propertarian lens can bring clarity to the issue. I think all ethical questions can be resolved with a propertarian rubric.

 
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Anenome replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 4:59 PM
 
 

QuisCustodiet:

That's a bingo! Fraud -- I believe that's a new word in this thread. It seems so clear now. I see why my brain wasn't connecting aggression with illegitimate property rights. Wow. Thanks to everyone for their patience on this.

Awesome :) I think of fraud as indirect coercion and thus a form of aggression. It is coercion by trickery rather than coercion by threat of force. In either case, property is obtained from a mark illegitimately and against their will. Against the will of the guy who trades property to the thief on threat of harm, and against the will of the guy who trades property to the thief because the thief created false pretenses which, if the truth were known, the mark would not trade that property to the thief.

QuisCustodiet:
Illegitimate property, thus no property rights, thus fraud in claiming property rights (which give the landlord the right to set the conditions he wants for living on his property), thus theft, thus coercion. 

Aside from knowingly omitting the antecedents to the first point of illigetimate property, which I understand as Rothbard explains in Ethics of Liberty and were not discussed in this thread, am I missing anything there?

Yeah, seems about right :)

 
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Think Blue replied on Tue, Oct 16 2012 10:59 PM

Anenome:

 
 

If a landlord were to forc tenants into the cage, then that would be aggression, as it is against their will and violates their property right in themselves which precludes people simply locking others up, that would be false-imprisonment.

However, the landlord, by right of property and contract, could require that a violator of the usage agreement submit himself voluntarily to being caged for a term, or else breach the contract and be escorted off the premises.

Thus, if the landlord caged anyone, it would be the tenants voluntarily submitting to be caged because they would like to continue living at the landlord's property. However, they'd be free to, at any time, decide they want to leave and break the contract with the landlord, and leave the property.

That would be the only way that he could do it. Because violating an agreement is not on par with violating another's rights. Agreements do not create new rights between people. The tenant has a license to use property owned by the landlord, and the only remedy for breaking their contract is escorting the tenant off the property.

Autolykos:

I disagree with this. I think agreements do create new rights between people. A rental agreement itself does that. Under such an agreement, the tenant acquires the right to use the landlord's property (in certain ways and/or under certain conditions), which is a right he didn't have beforehand. Likewise, the landlord could acquire the right to imprison the tenant (in certain ways and/or under certain conditions).

I would have to concur with Anenome's position.  I haven't given this much thought as I'd like, but I think either party should be able to cancel a contract.  There could be damages, but normally for rental contracts, money renumeration or eviction would be the remedy.

Locking up someone in a cage for violating a rental agreement seems somewhat excessive, and beyond the typical bounds of what one would normally expect from a landlord.

That said, I like what Autolykos says most of time, and can agree with his other points.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Oct 31 2012 11:10 AM

Anenome:
I think the word 'right' is not the best word for such an arrangement and is likely to confuse the issue and people's thinking on it. I think the proper term is 'license.' Unless the tenant has taken full ownership of the territory, he does not have a right to it. He has it licensed to him on certain terms and conditions by its rightful owner.

It sounds to me like you're defining "right" to be synonymous with your definition of "ownership". Is that accurate?

I think rights are fundamentally about coercion (which I define as "the use or threat of force"). If a person says he has a right to do something, I take that to mean he's willing to employ any amount of coercion necessary in order to do it.

With that in mind, if I rent something, I take that to mean I acquire the right to use it, at least in one or more certain ways and for a certain period of time. And that means I'm willing to employ any amount of coercion necessary in order to use it. That includes the owner(s) of the rental property - I don't think they have the right to violate the rental agreement they established with me. If nothing in the rental agreement stipulates that the owner(s) can change their mind at any time about allowing me to use the rental property, then to me that means my right to use it never supersedes theirs. Does that make sense?

Anenome:
Well, we disagree there then I think. Can you give me an example? What comes to mind is questions of assissted suicide and considerations of power of attorney and making medical decisions for someone, acting as someone's agent perhaps? I don't think that literally involving a right transfer but sounds more like an agency relationship. The individual retains their right but delegates the choice, the decision, to another.

I think assisted suicide is a good example. Here's how I see it working out in a voluntaryist society: A contracts with B such that B is now obligated to kill A in a certain way and within a certain timeframe, etc. For B to be obligated to do this, he must first have the right to do it, which I think can only be granted to him by A or someone who A has appointed as his legal agent (this is where power of attorney comes in). Also, I'd only consider B to be obligated to kill A, as opposed to simply having the right to do so, if there's a penalty stipulated against B for non-performance of the terms of the contract. Having the right to do something doesn't mean one must do it, either within a certain period of time or at all. An obligation is then a relationship where one person (the obligee) has the right to do something to the other person (the obligor) once the latter does something to the former.

With this in mind, I think it's important to note that granting away rights that one is considered to possess inherently is very dangerous. For example, let's say that I make this contract with you: "I hereby grant to Anenome the right to kill me." I would interpret such a right as broadly as possible, which means you have the right to kill me at any time and in any manner you want. It doesn't have to be right away, and it doesn't have to be quick. That's why I think one should be very careful about which rights he signs away.

Anenome:
In a democracy it should be impossible in theory for the minority to force laws on the majority. We know they get around that in practice but nonetheless.

I'm not redefining aggression that way, only saying that forcing laws on the minority is one kind of aggression.

QuisCustodiet originally asked if any action the state takes is necessarily coercive. In your reply to him, you replaced "the state" with "democracy". That seems like a sleight of hand to me, which is why I brought it up. You know as well as I do that 1) democracy is only one kind of state, and 2) QuisCustodiet was asking a question about the state in general - that is, about all kinds of state. So I'm baffled as to why you'd apparently act as though he were asking only about democracy.

Now I notice that, in your earlier response to me, you said, "Listen, in a society where there is no aggression, the state nor anyone else could not even force any laws on you." It baffles me that you seem to define "state" as something that could even exist in a society where there is no aggression. Just what definition of "state" are you using here? Whatever it is, it seems to be quite different from the one used by both QuisCustodiet and myself.

Anenome:
As for what I mean by laws, which I think you ask in the context of the last sentence, you're right that that's a bit of a weasel word the way I used it. I used it that way for easy comprehension, whereas in actual practice they wouldn't be actual laws but simply self-disciplinary rules, malum prohibitum.

If you say they wouldn't be actual laws, why do you call them "laws" at all? You say you used it that way for easy comprehension, but you also admit that it's "a bit of a weasel word". Aren't weasel words intended to suppress accurate comprehension in favor of inaccurate or illusory comprehension? Basically I think such weasely word usage only does everyone a disservice, and I recommend that you abandon such usage in the future.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Oct 31 2012 11:15 AM

Think Blue:
I would have to concur with Anenome's position.  I haven't given this much thought as I'd like, but I think either party should be able to cancel a contract.  There could be damages, but normally for rental contracts, money renumeration or eviction would be the remedy.

If two parties want to contract with one another, and neither of them wants to have the right to cancel it, would you coerce them into doing otherwise?

Think Blue:
Locking up someone in a cage for violating a rental agreement seems somewhat excessive, and beyond the typical bounds of what one would normally expect from a landlord.

I certainly and wholeheartedly agree that it would be excessive. But that's not my point. There are plenty of things that people voluntarily do to/with one another that I think are excessive, or otherwise wouldn't want to be a part of myself, but I'm willing to live and let live.

Think Blue:
That said, I like what Autolykos says most of time, and can agree with his other points.

Thanks for the kind words. smiley

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Anenome replied on Wed, Oct 31 2012 1:17 PM
 
 

Autolykos:

Anenome:
I think the word 'right' is not the best word for such an arrangement and is likely to confuse the issue and people's thinking on it. I think the proper term is 'license.' Unless the tenant has taken full ownership of the territory, he does not have a right to it. He has it licensed to him on certain terms and conditions by its rightful owner.

It sounds to me like you're defining "right" to be synonymous with your definition of "ownership". Is that accurate?

In the sense that all rights are property rights, I can kinda agree with you on that.

Autolykos:
I think rights are fundamentally about coercion (which I define as "the use or threat of force"). If a person says he has a right to do something, I take that to mean he's willing to employ any amount of coercion necessary in order to do it.

Coercion is just the other side of the coin of property. Because it's your property you have a right to act however regarding that property without anyone being able to legitimately use force to interfere.

Autolykos:
With that in mind, if I rent something, I take that to mean I acquire the right to use it, at least in one or more certain ways and for a certain period of time.

Sure, but that doesn't work as well for the human body because it contains decision-making agency and cannot be treated as pure property, evne by onesself. The same reason that invalidates slavery contracts makes alienating one's own rights impossible. Thus, agency is possible but selling or giving away an actual right may not be.

Autolykos:
And that means I'm willing to employ any amount of coercion necessary in order to use it. That includes the owner(s) of the rental property - I don't think they have the right to violate the rental agreement they established with me. If nothing in the rental agreement stipulates that the owner(s) can change their mind at any time about allowing me to use the rental property, then to me that means my right to use it never supersedes theirs. Does that make sense?

I just don't think you can conflate reasoning about humans and property like that.

Autolykos:
Anenome:
Well, we disagree there then I think. Can you give me an example? What comes to mind is questions of assissted suicide and considerations of power of attorney and making medical decisions for someone, acting as someone's agent perhaps? I don't think that literally involving a right transfer but sounds more like an agency relationship. The individual retains their right but delegates the choice, the decision, to another.

I think assisted suicide is a good example. Here's how I see it working out in a voluntaryist society: A contracts with B such that B is now obligated to kill A in a certain way and within a certain timeframe, etc. For B to be obligated to do this, he must first have the right to do it, which I think can only be granted to him by A or someone who A has appointed as his legal agent (this is where power of attorney comes in). Also, I'd only consider B to be obligated to kill A, as opposed to simply having the right to do so, if there's a penalty stipulated against B for non-performance of the terms of the contract. Having the right to do something doesn't mean one must do it, either within a certain period of time or at all. An obligation is then a relationship where one person (the obligee) has the right to do something to the other person (the obligor) once the latter does something to the former.

With this in mind, I think it's important to note that granting away rights that one is considered to possess inherently is very dangerous. For example, let's say that I make this contract with you: "I hereby grant to Anenome the right to kill me." I would interpret such a right as broadly as possible, which means you have the right to kill me at any time and in any manner you want. It doesn't have to be right away, and it doesn't have to be quick. That's why I think one should be very careful about which rights he signs away.

Well, I think that's an extreme view of what one can do with rights. Just as a slavery contract is no such thing while it's voluntary and unenforceable at the point that it is no longer voluntary, I'd consider a kill contract such as you describe not to be murder as long as it remains voluntary and to be murder when consent is withdrawn, even during the course of the contract.

Autolykos:
Anenome:
In a democracy it should be impossible in theory for the minority to force laws on the majority. We know they get around that in practice but nonetheless.

I'm not redefining aggression that way, only saying that forcing laws on the minority is one kind of aggression.

QuisCustodiet originally asked if any action the state takes is necessarily coercive. In your reply to him, you replaced "the state" with "democracy".

Most states are democracies... Point taken but I think it's splitting hairs a bit. Democracy is the primary effector, or at least legitimizer, of state action in the world today.

Autolykos:
That seems like a sleight of hand to me, which is why I brought it up. You know as well as I do that 1) democracy is only one kind of state, and 2) QuisCustodiet was asking a question about the state in general - that is, about all kinds of state. So I'm baffled as to why you'd apparently act as though he were asking only about democracy.

The vast majority of states today are democracies, and you're baffled? Point taken about states in general, and I'll try to keep that in mind, but I was making a point about democracies that are peculiar to democracies. People understand easily why monarchies and autocratic regimes are aggressive, but somehow democracies have this veneer of legitimacy. Democracy exclusively has unearned prestige, people still generally think it's a moral concept, and I'll attack it every chance I get until that prestige is gone.

Autolykos:
Now I notice that, in your earlier response to me, you said, "Listen, in a society where there is no aggression, the state nor anyone else could not even force any laws on you." It baffles me that you seem to define "state" as something that could even exist in a society where there is no aggression.

If we start a libertarian free society tomorrow, do all the other states in the world disappear. This is merely the least charitable reading possible. You should at least ask for clarification in such a case before jumping to a contradictory conclusion like that I would condone a state existing within a free society, two things which cannot happen.

Autolykos:
Just what definition of "state" are you using here? Whatever it is, it seems to be quite different from the one used by both QuisCustodiet and myself.

No, it's not. I was contrasting current state aggression against immigrants with who has the right to aggress against anyone in a free society, ie: no one, which is why the word 'state' is in the reply.

Autolykos:
Anenome:
As for what I mean by laws, which I think you ask in the context of the last sentence, you're right that that's a bit of a weasel word the way I used it. I used it that way for easy comprehension, whereas in actual practice they wouldn't be actual laws but simply self-disciplinary rules, malum prohibitum.

If you say they wouldn't be actual laws, why do you call them "laws" at all?

Because there doesn't seem to be a right word for them right now, as with many ideas on the liminal edge. To the individual accepting them, they would have force of law, for one would accept punishments based on what one accepts. However we think of laws as generally applicable in a region and this concept is for laws that are only singularly applicable to one person.

Autolykos:
You say you used it that way for easy comprehension, but you also admit that it's "a bit of a weasel word". Aren't weasel words intended to suppress accurate comprehension in favor of inaccurate or illusory comprehension? Basically I think such weasely word usage only does everyone a disservice, and I recommend that you abandon such usage in the future.

Well, I'll try. To not use that word would've meant going into more depth, which is not always appropriate, and that word is fairly correct, in fact there's no actual perfect word for that concept as I said before. Maybe I'll look up the Irish word for 'law' and use that in keeping with the Tuatha terminology. That will serve as a signal that it's a newish concept.

 
Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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