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A youtube discussion on Statism

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3/30/2015 10:07:10 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Me: All of the arguments are bad.

youtuber: Okay then, here's something to wrap your head around. You and I disagree about the legitimacy of the state.. So does that mean that if I choose not to follow the arbitrary rules that your state comes up with (taxation, drafting etc.), it's okay to use force against me and "punish" me because I happen to disagree with you? If your answer is no, then you are not a statist.

Me: I'd say an arbitrary law is not a law enforced by the state. What laws are arbitrary?

youtuber: If by "law" you mean rules that are forced upon me whether I consent to them or not, then all laws are arbitrary. That is, all laws that prevent me from exercising my freedom to do whatever it is I want with my self (self-ownership) and other legitimately acquired property (as long as I am not harming anyone else, or damaging or stealing other people's property) are inherently immoral and illegitimate.

Me: In a democracy, a minority MIGHT be a victim of the system, where a law is put in place without their consent. Nonetheless, this is contingent upon whether the individual consents to democratic rule. If you're against democracy, then you truly are a victim of the system; however, that does not mean the system is innately immoral. In fact, it is more immoral for the minority to force upon the majority what the minority desires. If you agree to democratic principles, you would cede to your opposition and accept the incumbent and the laws put in place.

In sum, no law under democratic rule is arbitrary.

youtuber: I agree with everything you said. If people voluntarily consent to democratic rule, then that's perfectly fine. But I want to ask you again, if I disagree and choose not to follow the rules of the particular form of state governance that you ascribe to, would you consider it okay to use force against me or punish me with the threat of force?

Me: The system is all-inclusive: it must apply to everyone. If you're born into a democratic society that imposes laws on its citizens - and you grow up in that society and decide that democracy isn't for you - and that you don't feel it right to play by the rules, then what are you to do? Do you believe you have the right to avoid the laws and live on your own terms? How does that work with the rest who follow and respect the system? It would be selfish of you to behave that way. This problem also applies in the world of anarchy. Unguided and unrestricted self-interested actors cannot lead to anywhere good. Government systems were put in place to create stability; states are an evolution of human civilization.

Youtuber: Okay, you didn't directly answer my question, but I'm going to assume that you do in fact think that the threat of force is justified to enforce the rules your society chooses to impose upon me (based on what you seemed to imply in your last comment). Am I right? If so, then let me put it this way. If I choose to go 30 miles over your speed limit, does that give you the right to steal from me? If I choose to use drugs, does that give you the right to kidnap me? Basically, which is worse, breaking the "law" that i'm somehow morally obliged to obey (which is really just me exercising my right to do what I want with myself), or the means by which the state chooses to enforce its law? Civilization isn't made possible just because a bunch of people want to issue threats under the guise of keeping things civil, quite to the contrary. It's made possible when a majority of people follow the non-aggression principle and respect each other's legitimately claimed property, and it remains sustainable by effectively resolving situations when a minority of people decide not to respect someone else's basic rights. It is not only just to allow people to organize voluntarily, it is preferable to any state government (which is inherently coercive), and no matter how many people think that it's okay to violently impose a group of people's will upon me, it never has been and it never will be. So to answer the question "Do you believe you have the right to avoid the laws and live on your own terms?", yes of course I do. If I'm not harming anyone else (involuntarily that is) or messing with anyone else's property, I shouldn't be forced to abide by anyone's terms other than my own. If you're still not convinced, then I want you to be straightforward with me and tell me why it is that you think it's morally permissible to threaten the use of force against peaceful people in order to "maintain order" in society.

Me: Yes, I would arrest those who violate the law. To address your post at large, I just want to say that in a utopian world, I agree with you. We should be good citizens. We should behave altruistically. We should provide our voluntary service to crack down on would-be crimes; to help the desperate, and to preserve justice. I want to believe that society can function successfully on the basis of positive and negative liberty. But, as a species, - as a civilized species - I don't believe we've reached a point where such freedoms are viable. The state will have to keep us in line until we're mature enough to handle our primal vices.

Youtuber: So you're saying that people can't be trusted to control their own lives, and in order to maintain order, we need to give a group of people who can't even be trusted to control their own lives a monopoly over the use of force so that they can control the lives of other people? You know, this is exactly what Larken addressed in the video. If we are such brutish creatures, then I don't want to consent to giving a group of fellow brutes the power to do whatever they want with MY life. Anarchy doesn't mean there won't be cooperation and rules, it just means that there are no rulers. It also doesn't mean that politics will cease to exist, it just means that political power will be completely decentralized. When you truly understand what anarchy is all about, you will understand that it's just taking democracy to the next level. To put it simply, it's not a form of decentralized govern(ment) (which implies forced cooperation amongst people), it's a form of decentralized govern(ance) (which implies voluntary association).

Me: Yep, because without a centralized power representative, there will be nothing to ensure that what people want will be met, and will continue to be met without interruption. Anarchists love to exaggerate the grievousness of state authorities "suppressing," or "controlling" peoples' lives. You guys love to categorically reject the idea of a state based on this perception. Don't put a democracy and a dictatorship in the same bag.

The most important factor that you simply assume becomes a working part of the equation is what you term at the end as "voluntary association." Explain to me how this is viable?

Youtuber: Explain how a democracy is any more legitimate when it comes to having power over people than a dictatorship. Just because a bigger group of people wants to issue threats against me in order to somehow "keep me in line" doesn't automatically make it justified. Voluntary association is viable for the same reason that statists think the state is viable, to maintain order. Having state control is nothing more than organized disorder, and if you want proof for this, simply observe the fact that the people acting on behalf of the state are responsible for more deaths than any other group of people in history.
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3/30/2015 10:10:43 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Me: By principle, leaders in a democracy have authorized power by the people they rule. This is not organized disorder. You have not provided reasons or evidence as to why/how voluntary association is viable; you merely restated the claim. (I.e., you state that voluntary association establishes order. But how?).

Youtuber: The point is that state power is inherently coercive and is thus inherently an agent which breeds disorder. Voluntary association on the other hand is inherently peaceful and orderly, because no one tries to prevent anyone else from doing what they want with their lives. Using drugs is not an example of disorder, but a group of people violently imposing laws against using drugs is definitely an example of (organized) disorder. For the biggest example of how the state perpetuates chaos, I have one word for you: war.

Me: Define disorder. Nazism is probably the ugliest degree of statism the modern world has witnessed and yet it was a regime with the utmost order. Really, it was the antithesis to disorder.

A state is the summation of its people. It's a unified force that acts as one. When this united force commits to an aggressive affair (be it defensive or offensive), it will of course bear atrocious casualties. But the state is but the culmination of its people. In anarchy, do not expect each individual actor to be peaceful and rational. What I presume is that in anarchy, individual actors will have to compete with other individuals. It's the same idea as the state competing with others (international relations) but at the individual level. You're not going to have less casualties at the end of the day, just more of it happening in smaller proportions.

Youtuber: An orderly society is a society that manages to suppress violence and is able to maintain peace, so a society in disorder is one in which peace is breached. There are varying degrees of order and disorder, but to be clear, a society which is completely voluntary is by definition an orderly society. I'm not saying that everyone will act peacefully without government, but I AM saying that violence will be dramatically reduced because people would have dropped the illusion that the authority of the state is legitimate. Every single law that the state violently imposes on peaceful citizens perpetuates violence and without said laws the state wouldn't exist. Therefore, the state itself perpetuates violence and disorder.

Me: Okay . . . your definition of order and your infatuation with achieving said order would suggest that you condone the most extreme forms of statism . . . like Nazism!! Then you proceed to link voluntarism to your definition of order. You're gonna have to rework this last response of yours for me to take your rebuttal seriously.

Youtuber: I'm sorry but I have no idea what you're talking about. How is suppressing violent people a bad thing? The state suppresses good people from doing what they want with their own lives, and Voluntarists suppress violent people from initiating aggression against other people. We advocate defense, not initiatory violence against people (which is what statists advocate).

Me: You've made assumptions in your definition, which is why you're confused by my comments. I never said that suppressing violence was bad. Yet, suppressing violence is tantamount to dictatorships. If you take your definition and apply it more generally, you can see that the state would be the perfect means to achieve and maintain "order." The state suppresses violence and keeps the peace. You're arguing that the state suppresses "good" people and therefore acts as a catalyst for violence. What you're doing is cherry picking so that things fit your understanding. Did you not realize this?

Youtuber: The state may be a tool to suppress violence in some respects, but we don't need the state to achieve this. Also, the state doesn't just act as a catalyst for violence, because for the most part it INITIATES violence against peaceful people. This is why the state perpetuates violence MUCH more than it actually suppresses and is why the state is inherently evil. What you're not realizing is that by advocating the state, you're indirectly advocating the states initiation of aggression (to whatever degree) against peaceful people, and that makes you part of the problem. Our collective indoctrination is the only thing which perpetuates the violence of the state, and the sooner we realize this, the better off we will all be.

Me: I'll take that as your closing argument/conclusion. We're starting to repeat ourselves. Good discussion, man!

Youtuber: Ya, I don't think I can make it any clearer to you. I don't know if what I said made any difference, but hopefully it helped to some degree. If you would like to make a case for the legitimacy of the authority of the state, feel free.