The Instigator
Voly
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Nartnod7875
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Governments are inherently immoral and illegitimate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/7/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 379 times Debate No: 116352
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (0)

 

Voly

Pro

The argument is in the title, but I will elaborate:

Throughout the debate, it is important to focus on the definition of government, not just its actions.

Here is how I define the concept of government:

A rightful ruling class.

Of course this is an oxymoron, because no one (or any group of people) has the right to rule, or control, another's life, which is why I believe governments are illegitimate. They don't have the supposed right to rule, even if they call their commands "laws".
Nartnod7875

Con

Thank you for hosting this debate. I hope that after this encounter, both sides can learn something from one another.

Based off of your title, here are the terms in which our arguments will revolve around:
Government - the system by which a nation, state, or community is governed. (govern - control, influence, or regulate.)
Immoral - not conforming to accepted standards of morality.
Illegitimate - not authorized by the law; not in accordance with accepted standards or rules.

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One of the most amazing and sophisticated things that distinguishes us humans from animals is our ability to function within an intricate and comprehensive system. And the fact that our current nation of the U.S.A. has not fallen by domestic, foreign, or chaotic threats (yet) since its inception proves that we as a species can achieve this method of societal development. We have existed with governments for a very long time, and under governments, people have been able to do many things that benefit the world without being interfered by danger or other disturbances. So to say that governments themselves are innately immoral is too broad of an accusation. This generalization that you have made is false in my eyes and it will be addressed as such.

There are multiple ways in which governments are made to be. In ancient times, the most typical ways were through royalty or divine right. In feudal China, emperors were permitted to rule out of cultural and religious context. Chinese people believed that the emperors were descendants of the dragons. There was also the belief that the Chinese emperor acted as the "Son of Heaven" and held a mandate (The Mandate of Heaven) to rule over everyone else in the world; but only as long as he served the people well. In the west, political legitimacy for medieval rulers was also acquired through religious context. During feudal times in Europe, kings were permitted to rule by the divine right of kings or God's mandate.

This point is most likely the cause for peoples' disapproval of governments. By ruling with divinity, these hierarchs did not hold themselves accountable for anyone except for their respective higher beings. However, the morality of a government cannot be judged by its attainment of power alone. The intentions and character of the government must be assessed as well. Of course, with all their power and without being questioned, there's bound to be rulers that abuse their power. But with the same authority, there have also been multiple benevolent rulers who used their power to serve and protect their people. They ruled with justice and fairness, and it was mostly caused by their moral and religious upbringing, listening to the divine, and adhering to tradition. (Christianity, Chivalry, Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, mention: Bushido)

Sounds too good to be true? Take Chinese Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty, for instance. Emperor Wen quickly showed an aptitude to govern the empire with diligence, and appeared to be genuinely concerned for the people's welfare. Emperor Wen governed the country with the general policies of non-interference with the people and relaxed laws. His personal life was marked by thriftiness and general willingness to forgive. In 179 BC, he abolished the law that permitted the arrest and imprisonment of parents, wives, and siblings of criminals, with the exception of the crime of treason. In 178 BC, after a solar eclipse (then viewed as a symbol of divine displeasure), he requested that officials give him honest criticism and recommend capable individuals for governmental positions. He also tried to decrease mandatory taxes and hard labor.

To condemn the sovereignty of a government, you would need the approval and support of the people who actually lived under those governments for it to be effective and legitimate. If you stated your argument in that time, crimes and decapitation aside, you would be greatly ridiculed and contradicted. People during that time accepted this kind of sovereignty because they had faith in their religion, and they followed their religion with the utmost belief. Sure you could say they were to wrong in risking to suffer under tyranny, but you can't say they were living under mass delusion. And good luck in saying the sovereignty of modern governments are illegitimate. FYI, Democracy is a form of government.
Debate Round No. 1
Voly

Pro

Thank you for accepting my challenge.

Based on your response, it seems you are arguing that a government's legitimacy comes from the people. If that is the case, then every law passed in Nazi Germany was legitimate and should have been obeyed and enforced. The reality is that the actions of the Nazis were unjustified, even if they claimed to just be "following orders", and that their laws were immoral. Furthermore, if you believe that the people being oppressed by the Nazis, or any other tyrannical regime for that matter, had the right to resist the imposition of those laws, then you can't also claim that people give their governments legitimacy, because that is to claim that the Nazis had the right to enforce their immoral laws because they obtained power through democratic elections.

You can also make the argument that there is a difference between having the legal right to do something and the moral right to do something, but in the end, one has to outweigh the other, making the one that has been outweighed irrelevent. For example:

You can argue that the Nazis had the legal right to enforce their laws, because they legally obtained the power to pass laws, but that they did not have the moral right to enforce their laws, since their laws were immoral. Which is more important? Having the legal right or moral right to do something? To me, there is no such thing as a "legal" right, because words on paper can't give me the right to do whatever I want. If it's immoral, I don't have the right to do it, even if some words called "law" pretend to give me that right. This is why I always emphasize that morality supersedes the law. There is no reason to obey the law simply because it is "the law", as not all laws are good.

I also have some recommended reading on the Social Contract that further address the topic of what can or can't make governments legitimate.

https://steemit.com...
https://steemit.com...

Here is a quote from the second article by Larken Rose:

"Viewing the U.S. Constitution as being at all like a "contract" makes exactly no sense. To state the obvious, a contract is a formal agreement between (at least) two parties. By definition, one cannot be contractually bound by a "contract" that he never agreed to, and in fact had nothing at all to do with. For example, I can"t just decide to sign a contract on your behalf, and pretend that that makes you obligated to do something. "

Please feel free to correct me if I didn't understand your arguments well!
Nartnod7875

Con

First, I'm going to clarify a couple of issues about this topic. In my first post, I stated that there are some factors that assess whether governments are morally fit to rule.

For one, there's the obtaining of power. A government, and the people within it, can become the authority through legal means/the people, force/violence/conspiring/illegality , or spiritual laws. An example of a government legally coming to power would be the Mayflower Compact, signed by English colonists to establish the framework of government in a land that is now the U.S.A. This way is morally acceptable because the settlers consented to conforming to the laws established by the document. For spiritual rationales, you can look at my previous post. Personally, I would fit violent and illegal acts under one category. (you can use you imagination to come up with an example) So far, it seems that the only one that makes a government immoral is the way of violence and such. But is it absolute? People argue that the English robbed the land of the Native Americans by force and that the means to which they achieved this goal was reprehensible. However, if looked from both a logical and historical perspective, the Native Americans were, actually, no different from the English in geopolitical conflicts. Before the pilgrims came, the lands of North America were already being fought over among warring tribes. These people slaughtered one another constantly for territory and power. How is this any different from the English? The pilgrims were just like any other tribe, just more technologically advanced and different in appearance. There's also the conflict during the Revolutionary War. In order to gain independence as a new republic, the colonists fought against the British and won. Although they used violence, they did so to found a government that valued principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Evidently, the origins of a government cannot be the only factor in judging the moral quality of a government.

In addition, there is, like you've indicated, the approval of the people. If the people are in their right mind and support the system of government as well as the people within the government out of their own free will,(for certain forms of governments, that is) then it is both morally and lawfully acceptable for a government to rule. In the U.S. the legitimacy of a governed is determined primarily by the people. Should the government not function in accordance to the view of the American people, opposition is permitted. As the Declaration of Independence says, governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Thus if the mass of the people felt the need to break the existing Constitution & create a new form of government, the right to do that inheres in the mass of the people themselves. The US Constitution is not self-justifying so no reference to the Constitution is required. In Nazi Germany, people didn't have this right, due to the Nazi party being a totalitarian regime. They didn't even have drive to rebel because they were deceived by false propaganda. There are governments that are mutualistic with their people , and there are governments that disregard the voice of the people. The ability, and therefore possibility, of a people to oppose the government lies in the conventions of a specific government, and NOT governments overall.

Governments with characteristics that are best for everyone are just and should exist. Those that don't are immoral and should be condemned. It's absurd to attack ALL governments. Governments can ensure that people aren't victims of violence and other atrocities in broad daylight. Governments can protect people from invasions and other foreign threats. Governments can establish environments suitable for economies to thrive, so that people can get food easily rather than working on the fields to eat. Governments can give people a sense of order, peace, purpose, and belonging. If you want to live in anarchism, go to Somalia or Antarctica. In response to your claim that governments don't have the right to rule people, I say that they can have the right if it's given by the people, just as long as the government stays in line. If they don't, their right can be revoked. But of course, that depends on that system of government. Which is why you can't condemn all governments.
Debate Round No. 2
Voly

Pro

I will start by going over some of your points, then I will also touch on other aspects of this topic I feel are important for my closing arguments. I feel inclined to mention, however, that I don't believe you addressed my previous arguments that much in the last round, since your response was similar to what you already argued in the first round.

"There are governments that are mutualistic with their people , and there are governments that disregard the voice of the people."

By its very nature and definition, a government can never be on an even playing field with those it governs, and this is very simple to demonstrate. There are two classes when it comes to societies with governments: those in the government who wield political power, the ruling class, and those outside of it, the subjects. This is the essence of political authority: it places those with it above the rest, or else it isn't political authority.

In addition, the concept of government is about obedience to those in power who have this political authority. This is why I refer to the rest of the people as subjects: they have to obey whatever laws and orders are declared by the politicians and others with power. Elections don't change this fact; the laws of elected politicians have to be obeyed, and they have no obligation to keep their promises once they are in office. They have the power to pass whichever laws they want, and there is no guarantee that those laws will reflect the "will of the people". In fact, they usually don't. Not to mention, governments also don't have an obligation to hold elections, as they have the political authority to amend or pass laws that give them the power to suspend or cancel elections altogether.

Even if a government does listen to what its subjects want, this doesn't automatically make the government and its laws good. To use my previous example, the government of Nazi Germany was popular with the majority of Germany, but their laws and actions were immoral and illegitimate.


"Governments can establish environments suitable for economies to thrive, so that people can get food easily rather than working on the fields to eat."

You don't need governments for this type of organization to occur. People cooperate through their own free will with others to achieve many different goals all the time.

"In response to your claim that governments don't have the right to rule people, I say that they can have the right if it's given by the people, just as long as the government stays in line. If they don't, their right can be revoked."

Not necessarily. As I mentioned before, the government can just amend and pass laws that allow it to either cancel elections or remain in power for whatever amount of time it wants. The constitution of the Weimar Republic guaranteed elections every four years, but the Nazis, who obtained their power through democratic elections, circumvented this by banning all opposition, and they had the legal authority to do so.

In short, the concepts of government and political authority are illegitimate because there is no rational or moral basis to obey the law just because it is "the law", as it is just words on paper. Something being "the law" doesn't immediately mean that law is good or beneficial. These concepts are also immoral, because they are based on the idea that political power is above morality, since "the law" is enforced regardless of whether someone morally objects to it or not. You can't argue in court that you broke a law because you believe it is evil; that is irrelevant in the eyes of the legal system. All that matters in court is if there is enough evidence to prove that you broke the law, not whether that law is unjust. Jury nullification, which is when the jury acquits a defendant because they don't agree with the law, is anarchistic because it goes against the ideas of law, government and authority.


I wrote an article that further elaborates on these points, and this is a quote from it:

"Those in Nazi Germany who broke "the law" to give shelter to Jews avoiding persecution were good people for protecting them against unspeakable evil, and those "law-abiding citizens" who obeyed the government and turned over Jews to the authorities were complicit in helping the Nazis commit inhumane atrocities."

https://steemit.com...

I am also going include the links I put in the previous round again, because the topics they cover are extremely important in terms of this debate.

https://steemit.com...
https://steemit.com...

As for actual published literature, I would recommend: "The Most Dangerous Superstition" by Larken Rose and "The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey" by Michael Huemer.

Some final thoughts:

I am probably going to lose in the voting period because many people still believe that governments are legitimate and necessary, and I just want to point out that popular or majority opinion doesn't always match the truth. As an example, only around a decade ago, the majority believed that gay marriage should be illegal. To go back further a lot further in history, the majority back then, including Aristotle, thought slavery was moral and necessary. Again, this didn't mean the majority was right.

Truly understanding why the concepts of government and political authority are immoral and illegitimate requires thinking about these ideas objectively from scratch, without making assumptions or reaching conclusions based on what you already believe you know about this topic.

Nartnod7875

Con

"Furthermore, if you believe that the people being oppressed by the Nazis, or any other tyrannical regime for that matter, had the right to resist the imposition of those laws, then you can't also claim that people give their governments legitimacy, because that is to claim that the Nazis had the right to enforce their immoral laws because they obtained power through democratic elections." (I admire your style of debating. You post your arguments with conviction and your content is very straightforward. It's not anecdotal like mines, but quick to the point.)

My position is that governments are not innately immoral and illegitimate. And I'm going to stress again that you are making too big of a generalization out of one system of government. The Nazi regime was a bad government. And the moral quality as well as the legitimacy of that government were produced out of properties, conventions, and existing circumstances that revolved around its people, its nation's history, and the system itself. Looking at the origins of the Nazis, it is concluded that their rise to power, however legal it may seem, was not a succession, but rather a conniving usurpation of position in 20th century Germany. The Nazi party platform was composed of REMOVAL OF THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC(the already existing government) , rejection of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, radical antisemitism, and anti-Bolshevism. And get this, although the Nazis won the greatest share of the popular vote in the two Reichstag general elections of 1932, they did not have a majority and therefore Hitler led a short-lived coalition government formed with the German National People's Party. Under pressure from politicians, industrialists, and the business community, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. This event is known as the "Seizure of Power". In the following months, the NSDAP used a process termed Gleichschaltung ("co-ordination") to bring all aspects of life under control of the party. All civilian organizations had their leadership replaced with Nazi sympathizers or party members; these civic organizations either merged with the Nazi Party or faced being closed down. By June 1933, the only organizations not in the control of the NSDAP were the army and the churches. There's also the Reichtag Fire. Hitler deemed the incident a Communist uprising, that it was a sign of commies trying to take over. But in truth, the arsonist, though a confirmed communist, was working completely by himself. With exaggerated propaganda and gangster-like maneuvers through the German government, the Nazis started an entirely new reign, a new government. And because this was an entirely new government, the Nazis established new laws and they accompanied those laws with policies that stopped German people from opposing those laws.

The act of people opposing whatever it is about their government does not automatically mean that they also deny the legitimacy of their government. This issue is RELATIVE to each government. For example, in America, people DO have the power to oppose their government. In the Bill of Rights, citizens have freedom of speech, press, petition, and assembly. In other words, people can protest the government ( so long as it was civilized ) without facing oppression and hostility. And unless the U.S. government changes the core doctrine that makes it the U.S. government (Declaration of Independence, Constitution), then it cannot take away those rights from the people.

"By its very nature and definition, a government can never be on an even playing field with those it governs, and this is very simple to demonstrate"
Your implying that I claim people under a government can have the same degree of influence and power as the ones in the government. That is not what I was trying to convey. I was stating that there are government that establish a healthy relationship with its people, and there have been governments in the past that did the same. This relationship is one in which both groups benefit. The people do their part by providing a population necessary for enlistment, paying taxes, obeying laws, etc. And in return, the government protects the people, provide programs for the people like hospitals,libraries, and so on.

"In addition, the concept of government is about obedience to those in power who have this political authority. This is why I refer to the rest of the people as subjects: they have to obey whatever laws and orders are declared by the politicians and others with power." You make this phenomenon sound like such a bad thing lol. The authority of a government, and government altogether, exist to observe/enforce the collective moral standards of all the people. For example, the majority of the people think stabbing a guy for no reason is a crime that ought to be punished. The government is there to comply with the people's request. In the case of Nazi Germany, it is truly despicable for those laws to be accepted. And, yes, the majority of the German population were technically responsible. But you can't really blame them; even before Hitler became dictator, he was already twisting the mind of the German people, make to hate Jews out of some false accusation. If the people were in their right mind, then maybe things would have been different.

"You don't need governments for this type of organization to occur. People cooperate through their own free will with others to achieve many different goals all the time."
Give me one place on Earth where you can go to a supermarket or get box crates full of Nutella without the presence of a sophisticated government.

Don't lose hope about the voting period. Maybe you'll win ;)
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Block19 1 month ago
Block19
The laws passed by the Nazi government of WWII Germany were legitimate laws passed by a legitimate legislative body. The Nazi party and Hitler were legally elected by the German voters. He was just as legitimate as Trump or Clinton (Bill). Saying that their actions were unjustifiable and immoral is a ridiculous statement. The Nazis were a legitimate power before 1933, At which point they imprisoned political rivals making the following election illegitimate.
Posted by asta 4 months ago
asta
So who makes laws then to prevent people from getting killed?
Posted by Youngastronomer 4 months ago
Youngastronomer
Are they evil? The definition of evil is to be immoral and the opposite of good. Governments are the reason you are alive.
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