Consent is Golden

February 26, 2010

I recently brought the reader’s attention to Gary Chartier’s excellent post on New Classical Natural Law (NCNL) and its relation to anarchism. In the comments, I asked Gary:

As for [arguments against the state], I see that you relied mostly on consequentialist arguments “guaged in light of the Golden Rule.” That’s fine of course but would it also help to use arguments like Charles Johnson’s argument that it is impossible to consent to a state? That seems like it gets around the need to talk about who best can serve the “social order and coordinate social interaction.”

Gary replied:

As regards the state: I think Charles’s arguments are entirely persuasive. But the NCNLs clearly don’t generally think consent is required for political authority: one is just obligated to obey whoever can maintain social order […] So my goal was to respond to them on their own terms. For an argument like Charles’s to work, I’d have needed to show first that consent to the state was required for its legitimacy, and then demonstrate the impossibility of consent. Or so it seems to me: do you see another way I might have proceeded here? I’m going to turn this into an article so I welcome all the input you want to offer.

I was surprised that the NCNLs “don’t generally think consent is required for political authority” since it seemed intuitive to me that it was somehow involved in the whole structure the Golden Rule (GR). I could not until now, however, put my finger on why. Well, Gary, this is my first weak attempt at articulating another way. I will not try to defend NCNL but will assume NCNL, for the sake of argument, so as to see if we can derive a commitment to consent from the tools it gives us. I warn the reader that I have not spent much time thinking this through. I welcome any corrections if I have committed an error somewhere. Read the rest of this entry »


Not Your Mama’s Anarchism

February 23, 2010

Gary Chartier, riffing on his riveting book, launches some potentially game-changing language over the bow of absolutist libertarianism.

Property-based anarchism without the NAP? It’s certainly not your mama’s anarchism. I think mutualists especially will find this intriguing because of the Golden Rule language but also because it does so using typically un-mutualist natural rights language. He doesn’t argue for the premises here but they do show off their ability to do some heavy lifting while remaining coherent, which is a type of evidence in itself; and, to steal a phrase from another natural lawyer, its seeming ability to “reconcile…sides of the Liberty debate is itself an extremely good reason for thinking it’s true.”

Calculating Consent

February 22, 2010

21% of the nation is necessarily wrong.

Of course, a good portion of the remaining 79% probably thinks it is something that can (and should) be corrected; they are destined for disappointment.

Poetic Justice

February 18, 2010

I’m a screenwriter in New York City, and am writing to see if you might be willing to assist me in a project that involves a unique constitutional issue.

My latest screenplay is a comedy about Maine seceding from the United States and joining Canada. There are parts of the story that deal with the legality of such an event and, of course, a big showdown in the Supreme Court is part of the story.

At the moment my story is a 12 page treatment. As an architect turned screenwriter, it is fair to say that I come up a bit short in the art of Supreme Court advocacy. If you could spare a few moments on a serious subject that is treated in a comedic way, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts. I’m sure you’ll find the story very entertaining.

Daniel Turkewitz, writing to each of the 10 Supreme Court justices

Dear Mr. Turkewitz:

I am afraid I cannot be of much help with your problem, principally because I cannot imagine that such a question could ever reach the Supreme Court. To begin with, the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, “one Nation, indivisible.”) Secondly, I find it difficult to envision who the parties to this lawsuit might be. Is the State suing the United States for a declaratory judgment? But the United States cannot be sued without its consent, and it has not consented to this sort of suit.

I am sure that poetic license can overcome all that — but you do not need legal advice for that. Good luck with your screenplay.


Justice Antonin Scalia

Dan, you’re asking for advice from the wrong guy; try this guy.

So you have the Free State Project in New Hampshire. But is that really maximizing the chance for change towards a free society in our lifetime? I think that instead of running off to the wilderness, liberty lovers should go where they are most needed. Take California, for example. With each passing day, it edges closer to becoming a failed state on a massive, very public scale. Why not go where the void is forming so that “we” could try to…you know…fill it? What better place to talk about alternatives to the state than a place where everyone can look around and say, “Yeah, this shit doesn’t work at all, does it?” Why have trees and lakes when you can start with the capital of one of the largest economies in the world? Simples!

I call it the Failed State Project. No rights reserved. Attribution appreciated.

CA Government Burns Large Piles of Taxpayer Money; Resident Finally "Gets" What That Anarchist Dude Was Saying at the Coffee Shop Last Tuesday

Green Police

February 7, 2010

Am I the only one who finds this a little too close to reality to be funny? That I can see this being a not too distant future is pretty frightening. Why not? It’s pretty much the way the state approaches everything for the “greater good.”

Of course, the message doesn’t seem to involve any question about the legitimacy of such an approach. Just buy an Audi and you will have nothing to fear! The rest of you deserve what you get.

Underdog Daze

February 7, 2010

Tom Naughton can’t decide between cheering for the Colt or the Saints today. I completely understand because I’m in the same position. I’m a regular fan of neither but they are both likable, talented teams. While I love pro football, it’s not quite as fun to watch when you don’t have a side to cheer.

I’m originally from Louisiana and have always thought the Saints were cool. But I also appreciate the Colts more from a pure football perspective. Peyton Manning is a great example of intelligence in the game. On the other hand, Reggie Bush is pure excitement. Or I could let my wife’s favorite criteria decide: the Saints have better uniforms. I’m torn.

But Naughton thinks there is at least one good reason not to pick the Saints: Read the rest of this entry »

Klinging to the State

February 7, 2010

Arnold Kling writes,

Does the state have necessary functions?

I believe that it does, but I am not sure. I am strongly inclined to believe that unless we agree to have an ultimate arbiter of disputes, the equilibrium is what North, Weingast, and Wallis call “the natural state,” in which a coalition of violent gangs extorts from the general public and shares the loot.

So, Arnold, you would describe our current situation as one in which there is not a coalition of violent gangs that extorts from the general public and shares the loot? I’m not so sure that it can be described as anything but that.

Our imperfect democracy, or “open-access order” in NWW’s terminology, is far from perfect, but it allows more people to have more opportunity to hold onto more of the wealth that they create.

Compared to what? Anarchy? Why?

But I want to return to the larger point Kling is making: that despite all of the other things we can somehow manage to accomplish without the state (Kling lists “education, income security, police and fire protection, etc.”), we’re likely to hit a wall when it comes to arbitration. We need a final arbiter. Read the rest of this entry »

IP Freely

February 3, 2010

Geo-Mutualist Jock Coats has produced an audiobook version of Stephan Kinsella’s Against Intellectual Property.

Please Pass the Verstehen

February 2, 2010

HT Stephen Landsburg.