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                                   Chapter 8 
                               BEYOND GOVERNMENT 
   * Limited Government  
   * Jury  
   * Government is a Mistake  
   * Anarchism  
   * A Covenant for a Union of Sovereign Americans  

   * Limited Government 
   Would it be possible to place universal restrictions on a government so 
as to make it truly limited? In view of the fundamental characteristics of 
government (especially its requirement for exclusivity of power), effective 
limitations are clearly impossible. A "limited government" would not, in 
fact, BE a government, but would instead be similar to a private police 
   For a constitution to provide for genuine protection against government 
oppression, that constitution would have to contain penalties for its own 
violation--provisions that would make it a criminal offense for any member 
of government to violate the constitution--and also provisions that would 
punish the government for making any laws that violate the rights of the 
citizens (e.g., victimless-crime laws) or for in any way exceeding the 
authority granted to it by the constitution. 
   Unfortunately, the Founding Fathers did not include in our Constitution a 
provision that would have made it a criminal offense for the government to 
interfere with the lawful behavior of a free citizen. That would have made a 
tremendous difference in the form of our society. 
   Libertarians argue that the only proper functions of government are to 
provide Police, Courts and Military. Admittedly, these are indeed necessary 
social functions, but there is another function equally, if not more, 
important to a civilized society. This function is the protection of 
individual citizens against government oppression. To accomplish this there 
would have to be an independent procedure for judging government behavior 
and for adjudicating disputes between citizens and government--something 
other than the presently-existing court procedures. This is a function that 
CANNOT be performed by government! After all, the courts are themselves a 
part of the government, and when a citizen is mistreated by the government 
he has no redress except to take his case to the very government which 
mistreated him. But as John Locke observed, "Any man so unjust as to do his 
neighbor an injury will scarce be so just as to condemn himself for it." 
   The "balance of power" in our Constitution sets each branch of government 
to be a check against each of the other branches of government. What this 
"balance of power" does NOT do is provide an effective check on the power 
the whole government has over the freedom of the individual citizens. 

   In the final scene of ATLAS SHRUGGED, Rand makes this proposal for an 
amendment to the Constitution: 
   "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and 
   An extension of this might provide a more sweeping limitation: 
   "Government shall have no authority whatsoever over the freedom of 
production, transportation, communication, and trade." 

   Another broad restriction could be patterned on the Ninth Amendment, 
   "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain activities which are 
forbidden to government, shall not be construed to permit the government any 
activity not specifically designated by the Constitution. Government shall 
have ONLY the authority which this Constitution specifically grants to it. 
Any attempt to exceed this specified authority shall constitute criminal 

   Here are two other suggestions that might have beneficial effect: 
   Government shall pass no law that has not arisen directly from the 
populace via a ballot-initiative process. 
   It is forbidden for government to possess information about any 
specifiable individual person who is not a convicted criminal or a 
government employee. 

   * Jury 
   I see the jury as a potential government-limiting institution. The jury 
should be set up as an entity as separate from government as possible, and 
designed to act as an independent judge of government. (In fact, as I will 
discuss below, I would like to see the jury established as the fundamental 
institution of governance.) 
   The principle of Jury Nullification should be incorporated into the 
function of the jury, and that principle should be extended to include these 
   Any conflict between an individual and the government, or any charge of 
misconduct against the government, shall be resolved by a jury. 
   Juries shall be selected by lottery (and ONLY by lot) from a panel of 
volunteers, none of whom shall be a member of government, a registered 
voter, or a lawyer. 
   Although the government (in the person of the Judge or the Prosecutor) 
shall be permitted to advise the jury, the jury shall in no way be obliged 
to follow that advice. (I believe it would be a good idea also to abolish 
most of the functions of a judge, a position which has grown to be more that 
of a dictator than a mediator. Perhaps the function of Jury Foreman should 
be extended to encompass any necessary judgeship functions. Such an 
arrangement appears to work quite well in the operation of the Supreme 
Court, which might itself be considered a 9-member jury.) 
   Nullification of a law shall repeal the law--permanently. Nullification 
shall also immediately and permanently remove from office all those 
legislators who sponsored the law, render ineligible for re-election all 
those legislators who voted for the law, and subject to criminal prosecution 
all armed members of government who implemented the law. 
   To enforce these provisions the jury shall appoint a Marshal and he shall 
select a posse from a panel of armed volunteers. This group shall carry out 
the verdict of the jury, and the posse shall be dissolved immediately 

   But these suggestions are merely futile ideas for gaining some control 
over the berserk institution of government. I would go much farther than 
this and abolish government completely. 
   Why do we need all the laws that the congresses have laid upon us during 
the past 200 years? Why, exactly, do we need an institution that continually 
creates laws? Why should we live under an institution which is so tyrannous 
in its nature that we need protection against it? Suppose we had no 
legislatures, no congresses, no senates, no councils--in short, no gangs of 
goons continually passing laws supposedly "for the good of the people" but 
actually for the augmentation of government authority. Suppose we had a 
society founded on a rational ethical principle: the non-aggression 
principle. What we would need then would be guidelines for the application 
of that principle in our everyday lives, and an institutional means of 
deciding when the principle had been violated. This would be the function of 
the jury. 
   I propose that the implementation of the fundamental ethical principle 
should arise spontaneously from the people themselves in the form of jury 
verdicts. If each jury verdict were to include the principled rationale for 
that verdict, then the collected verdicts of all the juries could constitute 
the "body of law" of the community and provide guidelines for applying the 
basic principle, just as today we consult Supreme Court cases for legal 
guidance, and refer to the Common Law, which is made up of legal precepts 
enunciated by judges in particular cases. But notice that there would be 
nothing binding in this corpus. Each individual jury would decide each 
individual case solely according to its interpretation of the principle, 
thus accomodating technological and social changes that inevitably occur in 
a culture. 
   Through such an extension of the function of the jury, we would truly 
have a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." 

   * Government is a Mistake 
   Should limited government be the libertarian goal? I think not! ANY 
government, no matter how it is constructed, is by its fundamental nature an 
evil institution--because the essence of the concept "government" is 
coercion. I believe the very idea "government" is a mistake. In the same 
category (but with much more devastating consequences) as "flat earth" and 
the "geocentric cosmology." 
   There was once a time when men believed the earth to be flat. As long as 
they held to this belief, they could not successfully navigate over long 
distances. Only when they had abandoned this belief could they advance and 
extend civilization over all the planet. 
   There was also once a time when men believed the earth to be the center 
of the universe. As long as they held to this belief, they were restricted 
to a very limited and inaccurate view of reality. Only when they had 
abandoned this belief could they acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the 
   Today, men believe that civilization is impossible without government, 
and they give their highest loyalty to their nation state. This mistaken 
belief has spread misery, famine, and the wholesale destruction of war all 
over the earth. Someday in the future, when people stop lying to themselves 
about the nature of government, they will achieve the greatness of soul to 
see a higher loyalty: objective reality. They will then recognize the 
mistake, and government will be abandoned just as other mistakes have been 
abandoned. The scourge of nationalism will recede into history, like other 
diseases and errors that have been conquered by advancing knowledge. Only 
then will it be possible for men to live together in peace and security. 
   But the mere removal of government, although a necessary prerequisite for 
the existence of social sanity, will not suffice to bring it about. The 
absence of a negative doesn't equal the presence of a positive. We can see 
evidence of this in Yugoslavia and the regions of ethnic strife in the 
former Soviet Union, where the removal of the central government has NOT 
resulted in the presence of peace and security. The world has had freedom 
only by default, never by design. If there is to be any hope for 
civilization in the future, a rational social structure must be deliberately 

   * Anarchism 
   The structures of the social institutions, the institutional contexts in 
which individuals interact, evolve. I want to present what I believe will be 
the next step in this process of evolution by suggesting an alternative to 
government, an alternative which would in fact perform the valuable social 
function that government merely claims to perform. I will present the 
fundamental principle which is accepted by all libertarians, show that even 
in a purely anarchic society there would be a need for an explicitly stated 
code of social behavior, and present an approach to the problems of 
formulating such a code. 

   Arguments against competing governments: 

   James A. Kuffel: 
   Jurisprudence is difficult and complex, and it is farfetched to assume 
"competing governments" would deduce exactly the same "laws" in all areas, 
not to say in one. Imagine the consequences of various "governments" 
attempting to apply different "laws" within the same territory....Equality 
before THE law would be impossible, that is, justice would be impossible. 
Government may function improperly, taking invasive action on a large scale. 
But, as a corollary, it is the only form of organized force which can ensure 
the protection of rights on a large scale. 
   [Kuffel is attacking an existing situation. It is not only "farfetched" 
to assume different governments would promulgate the same laws, it is 
obviously false--as you can easily see by observing the governments 
throughout the world today. One need not "imagine" the consequences of 
various governments' attempts to apply different laws--one need only observe 
the plethora of civil wars continually being waged. To equate Justice with 
"equality before the law" is absurd. Justice and Law have only accidentally 
(and rarely) been related. Government not only "may" function improperly--it 
always does! And in fact it has NEVER ensured the protection of rights on a 
large scale. But in any case, the argument Kuffel attributes to anarchists 
is NOT what anarchists propose! We conceive proper laws as being 
enunciations of principles of justice, not as being--as Kuffel implies--the 
arbitrary pronouncements of a government.] 

   Don Ernsberger: 
   While driving home from work one day, my wife was sideswiped by a 
motorist who was in a hurry to return home. After taking her car to the 
garage for an estimate, she notified the insurance company (Nationwide) that 
it would cost some $112 to repair the minor damages. It was then that we 
realized to our horror that the other driver was insured by Allstate 
insurance--a rival firm. Demanding that our rights be protected, we pleaded 
for action. Nationwide dispatched a squadron of crack troops to the home of 
the guilty driver. He, true to form, certainly did not permit rival agents 
to enter his home, as he distrusted Nationwide. He was able to hold the 
Nationwide units at bay for the several hours that it took for Allstate 
troops to arrive. Now the two rival firms faced each other across a 
battleline. In the conflict which followed, seven were killed and twelve 
wounded--but Nationwide carried the day. Out of the charred ruins of his 
home the $112 was recovered and we were repayed. 
   [When did you ever hear of Pinkerton facing off in a gun-battle with 
Wackenhut? But in 1861 two rival GOVERNMENTS faced each other across a 
battleline, and the result was half a million deaths.] 

   Ron Heiner: 
   Each party may attempt to secure the services of whatever court would 
favor his point of view and, consequently, there would be the emergence of 
courts seeking clients some of whom hold different, antagonistic beliefs and 
viewpoints (there might even emerge courts soliciting individuals with 
certain religious, political, and moral views along with courts emphasizing 
different principles in tort, liability, and contract disputes). The 
conflicting parties could also look for protection agencies which would 
enforce their views and opinions. Now if one argues that the protection 
agencies would force the disputants to abide by the agreements with and the 
decisions of the private courts, then one is no longer describing a system 
of voluntary interaction but rather a system of coercive interaction 
comprised of agencies with the power to defy the wishes of their clients (or 
coerce individuals who are not clients who have for some reason antagonized 
other individuals who hired these agencies). 
   [This is an excellent description of the interrelationships of federal, 
state and local courts, each with its own sheriffs and marshals, and we saw 
it implemented in practice during the State vs. Federal civil rights strife 
of the 1960s.] 

   John Hospers: 
   As for the courts, it seems to me that they would be inclined to render 
the most popular verdicts--that is, those that would gain the arbitration 
agency the most paid members--and the most popular decisions aren't 
necessarily the most just ones. 
   [As for the elected judges, it seems to me that they would be inclined to 
render the most popular verdicts--that is, those that would gain the judge 
the most votes--and the most popular decisions aren't necessarily the most 
just ones. (See the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" for an excellent 
fictional portrayal of this phenomenon.)] 

   Arguments against competing defense agencies overlook the fact that there 
is a de facto state of competing governments presently existing in the USA. 
Every area of the country suffers under the burden of at least three 
governments, and in some places four: Federal, State, County, and City. 
   It was the competition between the state and federal governments that 
resulted in the Civil War. But has there ever been an instance of Pinkerton, 
Wells Fargo, and Wackenhut engaging in armed conflict with each other? 
   Life under a government is a continual legal civil war, where men gang up 
on one another and struggle for possession of the law, which they use as a 
club over rivals until another gang wrests it from their clutches and clubs 
them with it in their turn. All of them continually clamoring protestations 
of service to an unnamed public's unspecified good. 
   Arguments against competing defense agencies also overlook the fact that 
the "useful functions" of government not only can be, but presently ARE 
being performed by private agencies. 
   Suppose you seek the expertise of a security firm to protect your home. 
You discuss the matter with 3 firms, Burns, Pinkerton, and Wells-Fargo, all 
offering a different range of services and prices. You decide to hire Burns, 
because you like what they offer. Is this not competition in the value of 
protective force? Is this not defensive force subject to open-market buying 
and selling? Is it not true that force, in this sense an economic good, is 
one in which millions of "trades" are made daily? 
   Security firms (free-market firms trading in the "administration of law" 
for profit) are not fictional constructs from the anarcho-capitalist's dream 
for the future. They are operating now, alive and well. The Cato Institute 
proposes laws, or their abolition. The operators of The Club deal in 
deterrence. Holmes Protection provides guards. The Mutual Detective Agency 
investigates crimes. Private bounty hunters apprehend fugitives. The 
American Arbitration Association offers adjudication. (Since the 1970s, the 
AAA has handled more disputes each year than has the American civil court 
system--and cheaper too: Arbitration costs only one-fifth the price of 
litigation.) Corrections Corporation of America makes a profit from 
incarcerating criminals. In short, every aspect of socially-necessary 
functions traditionally considered to be exclusively reserved to governments 
is now being performed privately.  
   There are two kinds of force: Offensive and Defensive. Anarchists wish to 
place only the second of these on the market--and to do so in ways that will 
attempt to abolish the first. Statists, on the other hand, wish to 
institutionalize the first, and make the second illegal. An anarchic society 
is not a Utopia in which the inititation of violence is impossible. Rather, 
it is a society which does not institutionalize the initiation of force and 
in which there are means for dealing with aggression justly when it does 
occur. The absence of government does not mean the absence of violence. It 
simply means the absence of an official, legal, institutionalized tool for 
its imposition. 
   The basic thing that all utopian theories have in common is that they can 
succeed only if they involve utopian people. Anarchism does not make this 
unrealistic assumption about human nature. 
   Anarchism is not a form of statism. Anarchists don't want to impose their 
values on anyone else, only to protect those values against coercion. 
   Anarchism is not terrorism. The agent of the government--the cop who 
wears a gun to coerce you into obeying him--is the terrorist. Governments 
threaten to punish anyone who defies State power, and therefore it is the 
State that really amounts to an institution of terror. 
   It is an oft-overlooked point that a non-government justice system should 
be judged not by whether it can deliver perfection (which no system can) but 
by whether it can do better than the available alternative. 

   Here is what anarchists believe: 
   Government, which is a form of order arbitrarily imposed on society and 
maintained through armed force, is an unnecessary evil. 
   All governments continually enlarge upon and extend their powers; under 
government, the rights of individuals continually diminish. 
   Whenever government is established, it causes more harm than it 
forestalls. Under the guise of protecting people from crime and violence, 
governments not only do not eradicate random, individual crime, but they 
institutionalize such varieties of crime as censorship, taxation and war. 
   All governments survive on theft and extortion (called taxation) and all 
governments force their decrees on the people and command obedience under 
threat of punishment. 
   Appeals to a government for a redress of grievances, even when acted 
upon, only increase the supposed legitimacy of the government's behavior, 
and add therefore to its amassed power. 
   No true reform is possible that leaves government intact. 
   The principle of government, which is force, is opposed to the free 
exercise of our ability to think, act and cooperate. 
   The major outrages of history have been committed by governments, while 
every advancement of thought, every betterment in the human condition, has 
come about through the practices of individual initiative and voluntary 
   Free people, when accustomed to taking responsibility for their own 
behavior, almost always cooperate on a basis of mutual trust and 
   People are capable of voluntarily organizing themselves, and the ensuing 
order resulting from the voluntary interaction of individuals can meet any 
and all social needs without any necessity for coercion. 
   Every person has the right to make all decisions about his or her own 
life. All moralistic interference in the private affairs of freely-acting 
persons is unjustified. 
   We are not bound by constitutions or agreements made by our ancestors. 
Any constitution, contract, or agreement that purports to bind unborn 
generations--or in fact anyone other than the actual parties to it--is a 
despicable falsehood and a presumptuous fraud. We are free agents liable 
only for such obligations as we ourselves voluntarily undertake. 

   There are two kinds of anarchist: principled and non-principled. The 
critics almost always argue only against the non-principled variety. They 
seem unable to perceive the principled kind. The principled anarchist bases 
his political beliefs on underlying ethical principles. The non-principled 
anarchist is merely somebody who hates government, not on the basis of 
ethical principle, but usually as a result of his experience of its 
inevitable tyranny. The problem with non-principled anarchy (or any other 
non-principled belief) is that he who holds it can frequently be swindled 
into accepting a disguised form of what he opposes, because he does not have 
a principled standard of judgment by which to evaluate what is being 
presented to him. 

   The account of human history is almost invariably governmental, leaving 
little to suggest that a viable anarchist society is possible. But the fact 
that an anarchist society has never existed does not mean that one cannot 
exist or should not exist. What we have today that enables the existence of 
an anarchist society, for the first time in history, is the Objectivist 
Ethics. Using this new tool, we can accomplish things that have never been 
done before. 
   "We now have the scientific tools to illuminate our true natures and to 
help us navigate the treacherous shoals of surviving the transition from a 
state society to whatever comes next." ... Michael Shermer, editor of 
Skeptic Magazine 
   Whether a totally free society is ever possible is an academic question 
at this time; taking the first step toward it is not. 

   * A Covenant for a Union of Sovereign Americans 
   From CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE by H. D. Thoreau: 
   "I heartily accept the motto,--'That government is best which governs 
least;' and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and 
systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I 
believe,--'That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men 
are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will 

   An animal is an animal by nature. It has no choice in the matter. But a 
human being must, by nature, CHOOSE to be human. The necessity of choice 
arises from the structure of his cognitive apparatus. A part of this choice 
is, as an individual, to choose to think--and, as a member of a society, to 
choose to live by the non-aggression principle. Unless you choose to think, 
you do not realize your full human potential as an individual. Unless you 
accept the libertarian non-aggression precept, you do not realize your full 
human potential as a member of a society. 
   We are social beings who can realize our humanity fully only in the 
context of community. But the culture of a community can inspire the best 
in human beings or the worst. The cultural institutions can value--or 
denigrate--freedom, and thus either promote or retard each member's 
capability to realize his humanity. 
   The Objectivist stand is quite clear: 
   "The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may 
INITIATE the use of physical force against others. No man--or group or 
society or government--has the right to assume the role of a criminal and 
initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man." (From "The 
Objectivist Ethics," in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS.)    
   It is the initiation of force that distinguishes criminal from non-
criminal behavior, and it is the acceptance or rejection of the non-
aggression principle that distinguishes a libertarian from a statist; a 
civilized human being from a savage. 

   All civilized people, whether they are of the Anarchist persuasion or of 
the Minarchist view of social organization, hold to the same basic ethical 
principle--the libertarian ethic of non-aggression: 

   John Hospers: " a philosophy of personal liberty--the 
liberty of each person to live according to his own choices, provided that 
he does not attempt to coerce others and thus prevent them from living 
according to their choices." 

   Ayn Rand: "Both parties hold as their moral absolute that neither exists 
for the sake of the other and that reason is their only means of trade." 

   Robert LeFevre: "I will contend that each individual may rightfully do as 
he pleases with his own person and his own property without asking 
permission from anyone, and so long as he confines his actions to his own 
person or property he cannot be morally challenged. What may he do morally 
with the person or property belonging to another? Absolutely nothing." 

   David Boaz: "Libertarians believe the role of government is not to impose 
a particular morality but to establish a framework of rules that will 
guarantee each individual the freedom to pursue his own good in his own way, 
so long as he does not infringe the freedom of others." 

   Karl Hess: "Libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute 
owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit; that all man's 
social actions should be voluntary; and that respect for every other man's 
similar and equal ownership of life, and by extension, the property and 
fruits of that life, is the ethical basis of a humane and open society." 

   Many Anarchists believe that no explicitly codified statement of the 
libertarian principle is necessary, and that no formal system of social 
organization is desirable to ensure its implementation. 
   The Minarchists believe that an explicit statement is very much necessary 
(in the form of a constitution) and that society would be impossible without 
the existence of a formally-structured social organization possessed of the 
monopolistic power and authority to enforce the terms of this constitution. 
   I disagree somewhat with both positions. 
   I believe that an explicit and formally accepted statement of the basic 
ethical principle is very much necessary. 
   There is a standard of conduct that must be observed if man is to 
flourish in a social context. In order that the members of a society adhere 
to this standard, there must exist an explicit and formally accepted 
statement of its underlying ethical principle. 
   Anarchists err in considering rights, justice, and other ethical concepts 
to be market phenomena. They are NOT market phenomena, although their 
implementations can, and should be, market procedures. The ethical concepts 
denote facts of reality and therefore cannot be arbitrarily decreed but must 
be carefully and accurately identified. Robert Bidinotto pointed out 
precisely the mistake underlying the common anarchist position: "anarchists 
sincerely believe that they are merely advocating competition in the 
PROTECTION of rights. In fact, what their position would necessitate is 
competition in DEFINING what rights ARE." Unfortunately, Bidinotto's 
colleagues, who accept his argument, and thus reject the idea of rights as 
defined by the marketplace, simply turn the coin over and embrace the 
equally-mistaken idea of rights as defined by government. I propose the 
alternative of rights as defined in principle--according to reason. My 
thesis is that rights are derived from examination of reality. The opposite 
thesis is that they are derived from consciousness. Whether that 
consciousness is the individual judgment of a tyrant or a collective 
judgment expressed either through casting ballots or spending dollars is 
   Both the statist thesis and the competing-governments thesis are based on 
the same premise: that rights are created by society. In the first case by 
the government, and in the second by the market. Both these theories of 
rights are manifestations of what Rand identified as the social school of 
ethics: "The clash between the two dominant schools of ethics, the mystical 
and the social, is only a clash between personal subjectivism and social 
subjectivism: one substitutes the supernatural for the objective, the other 
substitutes the collective for the objective. Both are savagely united 
against the introduction of objectivity into the realm of ethics." 
(Objectivist Newsletter Feb65) 
   Rights are like the elements in the Periodic Table. The structure of that 
Table results from acts of scrupulous cognitive endeavor. It does not result 
from a multiplicity of acts of economic intercourse, nor from the decrees of 
a governing congress, no matter how many people it may claim to represent. 
   See Chapter 5 for a further discussion of rights. 
   See reference
I am swayed also by Rand's contention that an explicitly held conceptualization is infinitely more reliable, useful, and enduring than one that is held in a merely implicit manner. Implicit knowledge is not a substitute for explicit knowledge. Values which you cannot identify, but merely sense implicitly, are not in your control. You cannot tell what they depend on or require, or what course of action is needed to gain and/or keep them. You can lose them by means of other implications, without knowing what it is that you are losing or why. And you cannot effectively teach them to your children! Although a culture results from the actions of individuals, it has its own reality as an intellectual context within which individuals make choices. Every culture contains a network of values, beliefs, and assumptions, not all of which are named explicitly but which nonetheless are part of each individual's environment. Ideas that are not identified overtly but are held and conveyed implicitly are difficult to question--precisely because they are absorbed by a process that largely bypasses the conscious mind. Most people possess what might be called a cultural subconscious--a set of implicit beliefs about reality, human beings, good and evil--that reflects the knowledge, understanding, and values prevalent in a historical time and place. Unless these implicit beliefs are brought to the forefront of the mind and explicitly identified, they can be extremely difficult to change, and they cannot be codified. Other theorists also realize the need for a formal statement of principles: Rose Wilder Lane: "I think there is a natural necessity for a civil law, a code, explicitly stated, written and known; an impersonal thing, existing outside all men, as a point of reference to which any man can refer and appeal. Not any form of control, for each individual controls himself; but a law, acting as a nonhuman third party in relationships between living persons; an impersonal witness to contracts, a registrar of promises and deeds of ownership and transfers of ownership of property; a not-living standard existing in visible form, by which man's acts can be judged and to which men's minds can cling." Ayn Rand: "Even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government." Robert James Bidinotto: "In any society, human life and well-being mandate that there be a set of objective procedures to distinguish aggression from self-defense, and some way of imposing the final verdicts upon the victimizers on behalf of the victims." Joel Myklebust: "'The market will handle it' amounts to little more than a disguised form of majority rule. That the identification of justice is not a market function seems clear from the fact that, given a demand, the market will supply murder, theft, and arson, in addition to protection. It will not determine right and wrong, it only reacts to supply and demand. Any attempt to deal with complex problems of right without recourse to basic ethical principles is hopeless." Murray Rothbard: "In my view, the entire libertarian system includes: not only the abolition of the State, BUT ALSO the general adoption of a libertarian law code." John Hospers: "They (private protection agencies) should be able to enforce only THE LAW OF THE LAND...--a body of law already enacted, and known in advance, so that one would forsee the consequences of any violation. In other words, laws ENACTED by the state, even though the ENFORCEMENT of them might be left to private agencies." Brick Pillow: "I agree with you that people should solve their own problems....But at some point, if there isn't a peaceful procedure to settle the dispute, it will be settled without being peaceful, and quite possibly the violent solution will not be a just solution. What I envision is that...when the antagonist refuses to yield, decent folks will need an authority that they can turn to....Of course, this presents the next level of perplexing problem: What prevents our pristine Justice League of America from exceeding its mandate, from becoming as evil as the government it replaces?" Nicholas Raeder: "It makes no difference whether the consumers desire automobiles, frozen foods, heroin, murder or censorship; if allowed to do so, the market will provide them. The market is not a slave to the good of the individual, and it does not dispense justice. The market follows desire. It will act rationally in fulfilling desires, but it is the desires of the consumers that it follows.... Neither human nature, rights, justice nor rationality are market phenomena. The actions of the market, as well as the actions of every individual within the association, must be in adherence to a certain standard of conduct in order to make justice and the exercise and protection of human rights possible." These are indeed powerful arguments for a need to establish some code of basic principles, existing in visible form, codified and publicly known--a code that would produce a set of guidelines for civilized life and indicate the direction toward which the men and women of good will should choose to strive. Given that volition is a first cause, man must choose to invest human relationships with causality. Real peace is not merely the absence of conflict, it is the presence of justice. The problem of investiture is one of providing a social organization that can effectively combat aggression and ensure the rights of the individual, but which will not itself be able to encroach upon non-aggressive citizens. An arrangement of such a nature that a libertarian anarchist would have the option of ignoring it completely, whilst de facto still living within its jurisdiction. It would have to assert no control over his life at all--so long as his behavior was non-aggressive. What we must strive for is an arrangement wherein the necessary power (to combat aggression) is so balanced against other, independently existing, power (to prevent encroachment) that the probability of its misuse becomes as small as it can be got. Can this be done by means of a government? Either a constitutionally "limited" government, or several government-like, competing defense agencies? I think not. When I examine the idea of government and contemplate the nature of governments as they have existed and do exist in the world, I see their fundamental distinguishing characteristic to be "the strongest group of aggressors in a given area at a given time." Herein lies my objection to both the Minarchist proposal for a government limited by a constitution, and the Anarchist proposal for competing defense agencies. In fact, there is no limit to the power of a gun except another gun. A constitution cannot limit the power of an armed group that chooses to ignore it. A "limited" government would in fact be limited only if its members chose to adhere to the constitution--and as we Americans have seen very well, this is no real limit at all. LeFevre observed that "experience over the past ten thousand years reveals clearly that governments are never limited." I think it inevitable that any "limited" government would eventually become a tyranny. I am strongly opposed to any social organization that has a monopolistic power to compel--no matter what formal documentary restraints may be placed on such an organization. There is a good deal more promise in the Anarchist "competing defense agencies" scheme, but it too is open to such a degeneration if one (or a consortium) of the defense agencies should become "the strongest group." The Anarchist proposal is further flawed by the fact that political power rests on an exclusive authority over the military and police. (Exclusivity is mandated by certain "either-or" issues such as whether or not a man--or merchandise--will be allowed to cross a border; whether or not a given behavior is illegal.) Because this authority is exclusive, two independent governments cannot permanently share a single geographical jurisdiction. There is a fundamental structural flaw in the American Constitution: the principles upon which the government of the United States was based, as well as the plan for the construction and operation of the government, were contained in the same document. To allow for the possibility of future improvements there was a provision placed in the document allowing it to be amended. This provision left the basic principles upon which the government was founded also open to alteration. Obviously the PURPOSE of governance should not be changeable, but on the other hand, the MEANS used to fulfill this purpose must be changeable so as to take advantage of new, more efficient technology and to correct errors. When Jefferson prescribed a revolution every few decades, he spoke not only politically but also about the need to remain flexible, ready to adapt to changing circumstances--to innovate at need, while at the same time staying true to those values which are unchanging. To permanently fix the purpose of governance, it is necessary to state that purpose in a binding form that cannot be altered or eliminated short of revolution. Once this binding form is enacted, and the purpose of governance thereby fixed, one can turn to constructing an agency to carry out this purpose. But these two things, Purpose and Agency, should be explicitly recognized as two separate phenomena. Thus governance should have two foundation stones, rather than one: a fixed and immutable statement of purpose--and an amendable means of implementing that purpose. This "statement of purpose" could then serve as a standard against which to judge the "means of implementation." As things are now in America, there is no principled standard against which to judge Amendments made to the Constitution, or the practices by which the Constitution is implemented. I believe the best, and safest, arrangement would be a modification and linking of BOTH the Anarchist and Minarchist ideas into a scheme that would place that ultimate power DIRECTLY into the hands of the individual members of society. I believe, with Jefferson, that there is "no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves." I am NOT, however, an advocate of majority rule. I do not mean "a majority of voters," I mean each and every citizen. It is claimed that a constitution limits a government. What is it that gives a constitution its power? Nothing but the behavior of the people who have chosen to abide by its specifications. A constitution is only as valid- -as faithfully enforced--as the fidelity of those individuals who implement it. Thus the Constitution of the USA is implemented only to the extent of the honesty, competence and reliability of those who have taken the oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." The functioning of our government, in its actual implementation, lies in the behavior of those individuals who have taken this oath. The ultimate democracy would be one in which all adult citizens have taken such an oath, in just the same way as physicians take the Hippocratic Oath. Carl Sagan approached this view when he lamented, "I wish that the Pledge of Allegiance were directed at the Constitution and the Bill of Rights rather than to the flag and the nation." I would go a step further and advocate a confirmation ceremony such as the Bar Mitzvah, to be passed through by each person as he or she becomes a fully-adult participating citizen of the society. A ceremony in which an oath of fidelity would be taken, NOT to an institution or to a document, but to a clear and explicitly stated ethical principle. An oath expressed in the form of a contract between the individual and the community in which he lives; a formal social statement that would specify a self-imposed libertarian restraint on individual behavior; a statement making explicit the principle of non- aggression as the foundation of social organization and interconnecting the individual to the organizational structure of society in such a manner as to commit him to support, uphold and manifest this ethical principle in his social relationships; an oath that would make the individual consciously aware of his responsibility to ensure the perpetuation of a free society. This oath would be a Covenant formally establishing the principled basis of relationships among free individuals, rather than a Constitution setting up a potentially dangerous coercive institution. It would establish a society based, not on command and coercion, but on consent and contract. I envision the Covenant as a "statement of purpose." It would state ethical principles, but not deal with the specific implementation of those principles. The Covenant would be an absolute, not open to amendment, but any accompanying means of implementation would be changeable so as to accomodate technological and social changes in the culture. Thus there might be several institutions (juries and defense agencies among them) established for the implementation of the principles, but each agency, as an organized institution, and each agent, as an individual citizen, would be bound by the principles of the Covenant. The next step in this line of endeavor is, of course, to formulate such a covenant. Here there are two basic problems. One is to conceive the structure of a libertarian society and embody its principles in a specific statement--the other is to establish a transition procedure that would carry us from the presently existing state of affairs into that libertarian society. A procedure should be established whereby the new society might grow from a small kernel. My suggestion is to establish an association similar to something like the Black Muslims or the Quakers. This would be an inward- directed society that withdraws as much as possible from participation in the coercive world and in which each member lives as much as possible in accordance with the ethical principls of the Covenant. I propose the name "Union of Sovereign Americans" as a label for this association. I envision the long-term goals of The Union of Sovereign Americans as being the perpetuation of the libertarian ethic, being the seed of a new society, (either to replace the present one if it should collapse, or perhaps growing through time to the extent that it would extinct the present one) and being a social group in which people of good will could find companionship. To begin the Union of Sovereign Americans there must exist a Covenant. "THE GALLATIN DIVERGENCE" by L. Neil Smith (Ballantine book #30383) contains a covenant, (fictionally proposed by Albert Gallatin at the time of the Whiskey Rebellion and resulting in a complete alteration of the course of history). This covenant has been extracted from the book and widely circulated with a provision for registry of all signatories. It has been signed by dozens, if not hundreds, of people. But I observe something of critical importance regarding the signers of this covenant: in Smith's fictional account, the signing of the covenant always resulted in a profound change in the life of the signatory, because the characters in Smith's story actually lived their lives according to their professed principles. However, in the real world of the present time, I am not aware that the behavior of any person has been changed in any way as a result of having signed Smith's covenant. The signatories simply continue their previous lives--working to support government (and in some cases working FOR government)--with no causal connection between their stated principles and their daily behavior. This is not the fault of Smith's covenant, and I am not criticizing that covenant. I criticize the lack of integrity in the lives of modern-day people. This same lack of integrity is seen in Randites (who explicitly disapprove of Shrugging), and in many of those who take the non-aggression oath of the Libertarian Party: "I certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals." These people merely grumble about the condition of the society they live in. Few, if any, of them choose to take the only effective path open to them for societal change: the transformation of their own personal lives. The problem isn't that Smith's ideas - or his Covenant - are not good enough for America, the problem is that Americans are not good enough for the Covenant. Precisely the same can be said about the idea of Libertarianism. Rand was quite right when she remarked that political activism is futile until such time as a general philosophical change has been implemented. Here is the link to Smith's Covenant: Covenant So what can be said of any kind of covenant or oath that requires no more of a signatory than a mere verbal assertion? The world is filled with hypocrites! Such a person would not be a suitable member of The Union of Sovereign Americans. One must not only assert fidelity, but also PRACTICE fidelity. One must establish a lifestyle suitable to the set of ideas he professes. My point is that no oath of allegience to any principle would preclude the participation of people for whom there is no connection between principle and practice. (This is why the American Constitution has been betrayed over the course of two centuries.) I believe that to be successful the Union of Sovereign Americans must involve a whole way of life--not just an oath. It must involve the learning of a set of ideas and the practiced application of those ideas in one's life. It must include not just an embracing of the libertarian ethic, but a resolve to combat--or at least withdraw support from--the coercive aspects of the society we live in. My own belief is that a good place to begin would be with the act of Shrugging that Rand presented. This would be a way to separate those who merely pay lip service to freedom while continuing to support the State, from those who are really serious in their intention to devote their lives to the practice of freedom. This is my own statement of ethical guidance: "Each individual is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others. Each has the right to use and dispose of his own life and his own property as he sees fit. The only real crimes are those activities which separate people from their rightfully achieved values without their voluntary consent. The only proper use of force is in response to coercion. I will never initiate the use of force or fraudulent dishonesty, I will never tolerate the initiation of force by other people, and I will recognize the desirability of helping to keep my community free from coercion by assisting other people in preventing coercion and in defending the right of each individual to resist coercion. I will condemn any person or association acting to contravene this principle and will have no dealings with them, and upon all occasions treat them with the contempt they deserve." It has been many years since I Shrugged in 1965, and after all those years of watching the Libertarian Party and the various new-country/enclave projects, I am convinced that there is no seed population within the present culture of America that can give rise to a libertarian society. The process of cultural value-deprivation has gone on too long for there to be any significant number of people willing to drastically alter their lifestyles to accomodate "mere philosophical principle." Most are so immersed in political and philosophical falsehoods that they are blind to the existence of any rational morality and ethics. It's rather like the old adage about the non-thirsty horse: You can lead a man to knowledge, but you cannot make him think. Thus, I do not know what to propose as a practical implementation of the governance-structure ideas I have presented. I don't see any real present use for them, but have written them up and will circulate them in the hope that they will be preserved for some future generation to whom they might have some functional significance. All I can hope to accomplish is to create an atmosphere within which the times might have the possibility of change. But a generations-long process of intellectual transition will probably be required. A society can't jump ahead moral lightyears into the socially advanced behavior of libertarianism any more than goldsmiths in a medieval guild could overnight start manufacturing transistors. As Max Planck observed: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." To put it another way: The world of ideas changes one funeral at a time. "Libertarians have one thing going for them that others lack: they are in tune with reality. Human beings are all that really count and libertarians know that. A man and his wife drinking coffee at the kitchen table, an old woman warming herself by the fire, a child playing in the mud: these are the only reasons governments should exist. All the giant industries and superhighways, all the wonderful technology and fabulous medical knowledge, everything that seems to stand so loftily above us is only there to serve these people and their desires. One of these days, people are going to understand what is real and what is illusion and that is the day when anarchy will triumph." ... Allen Thornton "From the conclusion of this war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, 'til our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion." ... Thomas Jefferson Men, women, of every nation, every race and condition: how much longer are you going to let yourselves be used? When are you going to tell your rulers, "Enough!" and claim the right to live your own lives? If you continually cling to government you are ensuring your own doom. The thing you worship is destroying itself, and when it is gone you will perish if you do not know how to live without it. For an excellent, but quite different, presentation of the idea of an Objectivist community, see the works of Martin Cowen at this website: Fellowship of Reason On to Chapter 9
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