Saturday, March 9, 2013

Debate on "Authority" of the State Vs. "Voluntaryism" of Anarchy


A debate on the concepts of "authority", "government", and the "state", featuring author Larken Rose vs. attorney Tom Willcutts.

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Derek said...

As I was listening to this debate my thoughts kept returning to one of Jan’s interviews []. Gene Odening said that Pythagoras taught (and I’m paraphrasing) “all that exists in human perspective is mind and matter”. “Mind” pertains to those abstractions (thoughts) that exist only in your mind, as they have no extension into space. “Matter” pertains to all those things which do exist by extension in space, outside the mind, the mind only being aware of them due to the input of the five senses.

I think it is important to make accurate determinations of what falls in which category; mind or matter. Tom likened the “gun” to “government”, explaining that both are “tools” which can be employed for good or bad. The problem with comparing these two is that guns do exist and governments only exist in imagination.

I keep coming back to this realization; that the problems we face, are due to people holding thoughts (in their minds) that do not equate with physical reality (matter).

Concerning abstractions like “government”, “corporations”, and “authority”; these only exist in the minds of men and women. It is common for people to improperly attach attributes and characteristics to abstractions which they do not in reality have. It’s like estimating the value of two and two as five. When a man makes judgments and acts in physical reality on the false belief that two and two is five, he (or someone) will undoubtedly get unsatisfactory results.

Let’s think about responsibility. I exist; therefore I have certain responsibilities as a result of my existence. Making sure that I have food to eat to maintain my existence is one of them. Now, I can hold in my mind the (false) belief that it is the responsibility of others, or of the government to feed me. But that does not change the fact that my stomach is the one that feels pain and churning if I do not eat. The point is I am real; therefore I experience the results of my responsibility or lack thereof.

A government or a corporation cannot be responsible for its actions because it does not exist. If we say a “government” has murdered millions of innocents or that a “corporation” has dumped chemicals causing massive environmental damage to the life support systems of a population we cannot hold it responsible because it does not exist. “Responsible government” is an oxymoron.

Individuals suffer or benefit from the actions done in the name of corporations and states (instituted by the believers of the abstraction acting in physical reality). It is always the individual that reaps the suffering or benefit, never the fiction (because it only exists in one’s head).

These abstractions, often called “legal fictions” [], are used as a method to deny cause and effect and/or responsibility. From the Nazi SS officer saying “I had to do it, it was superior’s orders”, to the traffic cop saying “look, I don’t make the laws I just enforce them”, it is all a cop-out (excuse the pun) to personal responsibility for one’s own actions. These actions are taken by operation of a false determination of reality (belief in the fiction or particular incorrect characteristics attributed to it).

So in my estimation, Larken is absolutely correct. The belief in “authority” is in the same category of the volcano god, the tooth-fairy or Shaman Claus. The good news is none of these things can in reality hurt you. Unfortunately, those who have not accurately determined reality, which hold the contradiction of the belief of “authority” in their “mind” and then act in “matter”, sure the hell can hurt you.

Let’s hope those participants develop more ontological thinking, so we can grow in the light direction.

In Liberty,

Tom Hagen said...


You, Larken and Richard Grove all claim authority is not real, an unreality, a myth, a superstition, etc. Yet none of you have removed it from your voluntarist society. You simply reassign it and say it is not authority because we agreed to it voluntarily.

No one has yet been able to articulate a society in which exclusive rights to real (land) and tangible property can exist without some people yielding authority (rights) to other people in order to settle and enforce property and non-property disputes. Indeed, the recognition of private property itself is a case of people giving up their natural claim to any land or other existing physical entity on Earth to some other individual, who then claims total authority and control over that land or entity.

There is no natural right to property. The concept of private property is an abstraction that can only exist in the minds of men.

Derek said...

Hey Tom,

I would ask you to remove all locks from your doors and windows, post your full name, address, social security number and banking information here.

Let's see if your mind matches matter!

Tom Hagen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Hagen said...


You have affirmed my argument. You're confusing "things" with the "ownership" of the things. The things, land, water, stones, trees, clothes, cars and houses, are real, but the ownership of them is an abstraction based on a set of rules.

It's not the land and tangibles that are imagined, it is my claim to exclusive use of them - ownership - that is an abstraction. Ownership in the form of private property, or property rights, does not exist in nature. It only exists as a set of abstract rules created by the minds of men, by which they all agree to abide. Thus, property rights and property ownership exist only in the minds of men. By agreeing to them, you necessarily place self-imposed limits on your freedom, and you submit to the authority of both the rules and the means to settle and enforce disputes about the rules.

In your reply to my post, you imply that if I remove all locks from my doors and windows, post my full name, address, social security number and banking information here, then someone will steal my things. To which I say “exactly.” People will ignore my claim to ownership under the rules of property rights and assert their own claim to my things. If my claim to ownership is real, then how can it be ignored or nullified? The answer is my claim is imagined and only exists if other minds (men) agree to it.

Without the authority embedded in both our present society or the proposed voluntarist society, the only way to restore my claim to that property is to physically take it back - use force. The use of force, or the threat to use force, is the only way to claim and retain ownership of anything in the natural world, which is why the use of such force is still retained in the anarchist/voluntarist paradigm. The underlying truths of the natural world are real, the abstractions of men are imagined and will always be subject to the realities of the natural order.

People have mental and physical capacities that allow them to imagine a set of abstract rules whereby they may create an order they perceive to be more stable and secure than the natural order. We can debate the merits of various sets of rules, but there is no escaping the realities and constraints of the natural world - every design will be subject to those realities and constraints. So the use of force and acts of aggression cannot be removed by any set of rules or imagined order, anarchy/voluntarism included. It is not the use of force or aggression that has created the mess we are in now, it is the imagined right to ownership of things protected by the use of, or the threat to use, force. This imagined right has allowed the accumulation of vast wealth in the hands of a few, thereby creating the conditions for violence and oppression on a scale not otherwise possible.

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