I apologize if this isn't the forum to discuss this at, but some friends and I were talking about self defense and natural rights at school. One of them - an Admin of Justice major, go figure - was arguing that once a town instituted a police department, that people enter a social contract in which they give up their right to defend themselves to be protected by the police. Well, first off, the Supreme Court would beg to differ, but when I pointed that out I basically got the, "well, the SC is wrong," line. The gist of my argument is that no contract - social or legal - exists between police and the people that police should protect the people, and it is impossible for the right of self defense to be given up. Also, I aruged, the police are not everywhere and will take time to respond, whereas the need to defend oneself is immediate. This argument is still, more or less, ongoing, since I had to leave before anything was really discussed with great detail, but I'm admittedly a little lost in arguing this case. When it comes to property rights and things like that I'm usually pretty much able to make a good solid case, but admittedly when it comes to one of the topics about which I am most passionate - the right to self defense - I'm at a total loss.
Does anyone have any input that might help, or, if this is not the proper forum to be discussing this on (since I know the primary purpose of this forum is discussion of economics), could somebody direct me somewhere where I could go to get information that I could use?
And when did you or I get the sign this contract that disarms me?
The argument that they make creates a logical Pandora's box, though. Even if we do assume that contracts can be made in which only one party agrees to it, it still doesn't make sense. If the police has a monopoly in defence, then we are to assume that you either cannot own a gun or are not allowed to use it in the way you see fit. Either way, it is an infrigement of property rights. If we take this argument reductio ad absurdum, we end up with a socialist state. Also, since the existance of the police takes away your right to defend yourself, what happens when the police are the aggressors? Can the police be trusted to protect you from themselves?
I like to use an anology to show how morally bankrupt the notion of "social contract" is.
Pretend I'm a lawn mower. You and I have never met or talked to each other. I stroll by your house and upon seeing your lawn, decide that it is in need of mowing. Without your consent, I go to work mowing your lawn. When I'm done, I ring your doorbell and demand that you pay me for my services- whatever price I determine is fair. You might argue "I never agreed to this contract, you can't demand money from me." to which I respond, "When I mowed your lawn, we entered into a social contract. Give me the amount of money I have determined that you should owe me or I will call upon the power of the state to have you arrested."
"Social contract" is nothing more than one party holding a gun to the head of the other party and saying "Sign this contract."
Excellent points, thanks. I never even would've thought of the lawn mower analogy.
And still after all this I still can not join with my friends here at mises.org and leave the ranks of Jefferson, Paine, Hayek and others... but I do believe I can offer a very good arguement. the proper role of police, their proper role is that of investigation, and apprehension, not defense. it is after all a police force, not a security force. perhaps I am the only one who has a rural backround at all on this site, but it is a given even among the biggest neo-cons in the county that it is the job of each man to protect himself, and if he fails then it is the job of the police to see that the evil doer is brought to justice, but that isn't as big of a problem as it might be, there have been about 6 criminals shot down in my town since the start of the year by their would-be victims.
Everything you needed to know to be a libertarian you learned in Kindergarten. Keep your hands to yourself, and don't play with other people's toys without their consent.
anyway as I was saying, even with the existence of the state you're not giving up your right to self protection, but vengence. but I believe this would be the case even if policing were privatized.. and for good reason. if your best friend turned up shot to death only hours after you found out he had been sleeping with your wife, it might be a bit better for you to stand trail by 12 men unknown or unrelated to you or the victims family, than to deal with the wrath that might be brought on you by his brothers....
But what is Justice?
This is the crux of the problem with Democracy: there is the implication that those participating are agreeing not only with the principle of the majority vote, but also uphold the decisions of those who are elected even if they may disagree with them personally.
Hans Herman Hoppe's "Democracy, the God that failed" is worth reading. In it, Hoppe says that the fundamental flaw in the libertarian movement from Locke to the present (excepting Rothbard) has been that there is some sort assumption of a social contract between the population at large and Government. This can never be the case. Even the US Constitution would have to be ratified by each new member of the population as one could not be held accountable for contracts one's parents may have signed. Hence, all governemnt is illegitimate.