So I'm doing this debate on a website called debate.org (http://www.debate.org/debates/We-do-not-need-the-State-to-help-us-live-our-lives./1/). The topic of the debate is that we do not need a State to help us live our lives and I challenge my opponent to name a single topic where government is absolutely needed.
My opponent has given me three cases of government necessity: police, military, and law-making. Now, I know how to completely challenge his case for the public police. When it comes to the military, I can also handle it.
But he has given me a tough statist case for a government to provide law. I have a few rebuttals, but can you guys help me out? I've given the Rothbardian and Friedmanian views. I don't know much about Hoppe's theory. Can someone give me a few advices?
Quoting your opponent:
What if the people involved in the legal conflict cannot afford the judge? Who will supply one then?
Why would they agree to a judge that neither of them can afford?
Would it really be just to allow judges to rule without any sort of universal standard in place for all of them?
That depends on the definition one uses for "just". What's his?
First, the problem of an owner possibly creating laws that allow for very immoral things to happen on the land. My opponent dismisses this with the claim that this will only decertify the land. If these types of laws are passed on a certain land, then that land becomes a breeding ground for chaos and violence. This tainted land will then pose a danger to surrounding lands, and can be very dangerous to the whole country.
I don't see how this is a rebuttal. Either the whole paragraph is just a summary of your argument, or only the first two sentences are, with the second two sentences being his counter-argument. But with no explicit transition, I think it's ambiguous and it could be dishonest on his part.
Second, conflicting legal systems leading to chaos and confusion. My opponent dismisses this with the simple notion that the land owners will work in harmony to ensure the simplicity of travel between lands. I disagree with this 100%. Some basic laws will be the same across the board of course, but there could be some laws that are vastly different from one another or even completely unique to one land. This would a) cause confusion between travelers and b) create many loopholes for people to exploit and get away with things that could be considered immoral and detrimental to society.
First, his assertion that "some basic laws will be the same across the board" is technically an argument from ignorance, as he's making a claim of knowledge about the future. Second, some laws being different does not necessarily mean that those differing laws concern things that "could be considered immoral and detrimental to society". As to confusion between travellers, I don't see how aggression justifies keeping that to a minimum.
On another note, there are already areas of land that have different laws. They're called "nation-states". Sometimes even subdivisions of nation-states have differing laws. Does your opponent oppose the existence of nation-states? Does he think that there should be "one law to rule them all"? If so, which one and why?
Finally, hiding in plain sight in this debate is the question of the very definition of "law". It doesn't seem like any particular definition of it has been mutually agreed upon. Until a mutual agreement is reached there, I think the two of you will go around and around in circles.
The final theory my opponent uses is one of natural rights, or natural laws. A few basic laws can be derived from John Locke (life, liberty, and property). I completely agree that each human has a right to these natural laws. But as long as a government does not directly infringe upon these natural rights, I see no problem with additional laws made by the government along with these natural laws given to us upon birth.
Why does he qualify "infringe" with "directly"? What does he think constitutes "direct infringement"?
But just to take one example, if he agrees that each human has a right to property, then that means he can't logically support the concept of eminent domain, which surely constitutes "direct infringement" of one's right to property. If he doesn't think eminent domain directly infringes upon one's right to property, then I'm at a loss to come up with anything that he thinks would directly infringe upon it.
The keyboard is mightier than the gun.
Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.
Why do you want laws? Societies have increadibly complex rules and do not need laws. That is why the court systems are so corrupt as those interpreting laws have no market mechanism (Place no cost on the judge) to judge according to societal rules. That is also why a system of arbitrators would be far better in resolving disputes than the monopoly court system branch of the monopoly government.
But if it is laws you want then the best example is the Maritime Law developed outside of countries dating back over hundreds of years. If these folks were smart enough to build a system of laws outside of a monopoly government then we should be ablve to pull it off as well.
Clash hard with him on his point on categorizing your views as a case for "feudalism." Historically, capitalism formed as an attempt to escape feudalism (on this, see A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, pp. 66-73). Just make it a point that your opponent has miscategorized your contentions as something they are not (feudalism being originally organized much like Oppenheimer describes his theoretical beginning of the modern state). You're arguing against the state, not for it (that's his case). Hopefully, he's not strawmanning (feudalism is far more applicable to the state than to anarchy).
His points about police officers being better educated than security guards registers a big "so what" from me. Who cares if an officer has proof (high school diploma) that he sparknoted a No Fear Shakespeare version of Romeo and Juliet before he turned 18- what does this have to do with providing security anyway? Do private security firms have no interest in providing friendly and knowledgeable services to clients (they do, because of the profit motive he so lambasts)? Does this excuse examples of police brutality? Where are examples of private-security brutality?
So does his comparison "prove" that police officers are 'simply on average better prepared and ready for the task of protecting citizens?'
No, it "simply" doesn't.
Next is his contention that the poor can't afford "the judge." Ask him to clarify as to what this means. After all there are many goods that people depend on (food, clothing, shelter); does it immediately follow that these goods and services should be nationalized? Honestly, pose this scenario to him as well to see what his response is.
Regarding adjudication of disputes with no "universal standard" being unjust as he implies- well, the question is why? Why would it be unjust to not have a universal standard? Aren't there problems and conflicts brought about specifically because of the attempt to apply a universal standard to every case?
His contention regarding "immoral laws" is off, too. No contract can say "A will do X and if he doesn't he will be murdered." A "voluntary" property-title transfer based on property expropriation is almost as absurd as a property expropriating property protector. Almost. A contract based on aggression isn't a contract at all- it's a threat. Offering a contract such as that would be just as fraudulent as offering a contract to the effect of "X hereby agrees to square circles for me." This latter contract cannot possibly be done. In short: not all pieces of paper with contract on them are contracts, not all laws are laws. Also, he totally ignores your points regarding adjudication on this point- be sure to emphasize this on your next argument.
His next paragraph is based purely on a hypothetical "what if?" Your response here could be "what if not?" and have all the same intellectual rigor as his argument does.
The thing is private firms would not have any interest in making obscure and ridiculous laws if they want to remain private firms (recall the profit motive). Would you drive on a road that has a law that says something to the effect of "All ye who enter must push your vehicle down my road or be detained?" Capitalism is a pretty efficient means of limiting schadenfreude when it comes to maintaining wealth. Some laws may in fact differ based on the environs. Driving around farms can be tricky business when it comes to animals often being moved from place to place often over roads- perhaps Farmer Jones doesn't want people driving faster than 10 mph so that potential collisions with animals can be avoided. Maybe streets where there are no houses, businesses, or pedestrians nearby will differ in driving speed tolerances and other laws. If there is something inherently "wrong" or "unjust" about having laws differ in place (heaven forbid that such laws are detrimental to society) let your opponent speak on this.
In your opponent's last argument he flatly contradicts himself. A firm called government can exist, but the instant that it survives based on aggression (theft, imposed monopoly) it violates natural law. A property expropriating property protector is a contradiction in terms. Boom--roasted.
And Murray Rothbard wasn't 19th century.
If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH
The threads mentioned in this post may be of use. Also, this video of Hoppe may be helpful if you want to learn his theory of a private law society: