Sunday, July 2, 2006

The illegitimacy of the state

A week ago, the Liberty Papers had an entry on "The Legitimacy of Government", describing the necessary conditions for a government to be legitimate. Like any other pro-state libertarian argumentation, I'm sure it is written with the best of intentions. However, the idea itself is absurd. There can be no such thing as a legitimate government, insofar as all governments are an attack on the freedom and rights of their subject individuals, and the incentive system of all governments is such that they must eventually expand beyond their "set" boundaries.

Nevertheless, Brad Warbiany believes that a piece of paper (a constitution) can set boundaries to a monopoly of force. This is absurd, especially given the failure of the American Republic- but par for the course. His main thesis?

Whether or not a government is legitimate rests on one very simple basis: whether the overwhelming majority of people living under that government recognizes its legitimacy.


When the notreason folks ask us minarchists and classical liberals where our own government draws its legitimacy, we tell them that it draws its legitimacy from the fact that the vast majority of our populace has agreed that it is legitimate.


The ignorance betrayed in these two statements is baffling. With a democratic government that controls education, the media and the incentive systems, how can the vast majority of the populace NOT believe that their government is legitimate, regardless of its actual merits? Is there any government, whatever its horrors, that is not believed as legitimate? Is the best argument for a system, widespread ignorance and state conditioning?

No, surely the best argument for the legitimacy of anything, is the free choice of individuals. Not conditioned belief!

And what of those who do not agree that the state is legitimate, such as myself? Do I have less rights than someone who is incapable of breaching the conditioning of the state, by virtue of not "getting along with the flow"? Should I, then, be subject to the way the vast majority of people want to live their lives? Mob rule is a disgusting moral principle, regardless of the size of the mob.

The lesson of this story is: if you're a libertarian and yet feel the need to defend the state, don't show yourself for a fool. At least try to address the inherent immorality and injustice of your position. Is that too much to ask?

4 comments:

ryan e said...

I'm pretty confident in asserting that all states are designed to commit theft. Until they get around that one, statists are going to have a hard time convincing me that states can be legitimite.

ryan e said...

On a side note, Did you or Alleee email me back regarding the "there is no monotheist" email? I was getting an internet feed from a host computer with a wireless connection. I sent the email from a different computer and mysteriously your email was sent to the host computer instead, and was deleted(i think). So i'm just curious about your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to put together a solid definition for a 'morally illegitimate nation'. Would the same principles apply to a nation as they would to a government. i.e no freedom of choice, a violation of a person's property rights?

(I'm doing an essay on Australia at the time of federation - indigenous austrlians were grossly ignored in he constitution)

Aaron Kinney said...

Re: anonymous,

I'm trying to put together a solid definition for a 'morally illegitimate nation'. Would the same principles apply to a nation as they would to a government. i.e no freedom of choice, a violation of a person's property rights?.

Well it all depends on how you define "nation" and "government." At this blog, we define government as a coercive monopoly and thus is illegitimate by its nature.

But a nation could conceivably be a purely voluntary one, unless you define "nation" as always having a government running it.