*note: It looks like my computer is going to take a crap and I cannot access the blog from my work computer. If I go silent for a few days, I am working on getting a new computer so I can send this one off for repair.
Who has the right to the legitimate use of violence and why?
The recent SCOTUS decision has gotten me thinking about who holds the legitimate use of force. This may seem disconnected, but follow my logic. SCOTUS re-wrote Obamacare from the bench to mean that the individual mandate is actually a tax. Leave aside that both the Executive and Legislative Branches openly and frequently declared that it was emphatically NOT a tax but a penalty and that the appropriate role of the Court is not to re-write law but to interpret it as written. What does it mean to levy a tax?
According to classical Libertarian thought all taxes are theft. Follow my logic here. Suppose the members of a political body, Local to Federal, doesn’t matter, get together and decide X is a wise use of public funds. X is a valid use of funds of the political body under their charter. 75% of the constituents of the political body think X is a good idea and vote to levy the tax. Now, 25% of the constituents must turn over their personal property in the form of money to the political body to support a cause they do not support. And, what happens if they exercise their right to preserve their own Life, Liberty and Property? Those very things will be stripped from them by the political body against their will, legalized armed robbery. First they will have a penalty imposed on them for not paying the tax. Then a warrant will be issued for their arrest and their property will be taken from them to pay the tax and penalty and if they resist this violation of their property rights and personal liberty they will have a gun put to their head and will be put in prison.
Some will say ‘but they had their due process rights respected, they chose to violate the law approved by the majority!” Let us say that instead of levying a tax to support X, the majority passed a law forbidding the discussion of Y. Now, instead of the individuals property rights being violated it is their right to free speech, how many would still say the political body was valid in their action?
What is the difference between my right to freedom of expression and my right to be inviolate in my property? A right is a right, either I have the liberty to express that right as I see fit or I don’t. To the extent I don’t, I live under oppression.
But, if we don’t pay taxes, how will anything get done? If the market wants it, it will be provided. Will it be fair or equal? Probably not. Welcome to life. But the system we have now, affirmed by the SCOTUS, is “the ends justify the means’. That is a shitty road to go down.
Now, here is where real politic meets hard reality. We, as a nation, and as humanity, have built up an edifice called the State which is massive and all-pervasive. So, if the moral position is to respect individual rights, regardless of the consequences, how do we begin to dismantle the State? Under the current structure, only the State has the legitimate and exclusive right to the use of force within in its geographical boundaries. This is one of the key, defining characteristics of a State. Many of our US States have a castle doctrine. But, even here, it is conferred to us to be able to defend ourselves within our own homes. If the State can give so can it take away, thus it is not a right, but a privilege. The state reserves for itself the right to come into any place and exercise violence without penalty.
So, in my mind, a beginning step to dismantling the State is to begin removing from the State its claims to exlusivisity. Which is why I like stand your ground laws and would welcome a return to the right to duel.
Unfortunately, there are many self-interested parties who benefit greatly from the existing system. These individuals will not release that hold willingly. And, I cannot see my way clear to a path that allows the peaceful reduction of the State with the exception of a VERY long-term educational plan that brings about change in the societal norms. Aside from that, the most likely historical forces of change are war and natural disaster. Either of these will result in the necessity to rebuild society and here it is POSSIBLE but not PROBABLE that Libertarian ideals can be implemented in a grand stroke. But, given the nature of social upheaval, the lack of foundational knowledge of Libertarian though, the habitual rise of warlordism and tribalism I would put the likelihood of success through either of these processes as very low.
So, it appears to me we are in for a long haul. I actually see the home school movement and the post-Modernism cynicism of the X, Y and younger generations as our best hopes to bring about educational based changes. It wont be smooth, clean or easy, but in the market of ideas I think Libertarianism holds out our best hopes for preserving our Rights and the Liberty to exercise them.
What have you learned today? What have you taught today?