Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The Argument from the State of Nature

There is no justification for the state. This is a relatively simple proposition, and obviously true, but may not seem obvious to prove. After all, it requires one to show that a universal is true. While it is very easy to show that a universal is false (by presenting a counter-example), there are very few recourses to show that a universal is true.

The usual avenue is to prove it using scientific means. The scientific methods involve trying to falsify a hypothesis, going over all the possible falsifications as much as we can, and to constantly keep testing it against new knowledge. This constant vigilance ensures that we are always on solid ground, and not blindly accepting something false, making us build systems in the wrong direction. This would indeed be disastrous, and we naturally prefer to eliminate falsities earlier than later.

So one way we have to prove that states are unjustified is to show the economic facts about free markets, and to show the practical, superior results of anarchy in the real world, as opposed to statism and government intervention. That is, at least, one way of doing it.

Another method is to use deductive means. This is perhaps more abstract and less convincing as a general rule, but it can be just as useful to find truth. In areas where science does not tread, such as supernaturalism or the "paranormal", deductive methods are the only way we have to prove existence or non-existence. If materialism is justified, for example, then we are justified in rejecting supernatural claims (I am not saying that materialism is justified - I do think it is, but the whole issue is beyond the scope of this entry). Likewise, we can reject the belief in a transcendent form of social organization by affirming the truth of ontological individualism.

But this refutation by individualism is not quite sufficient to deductively prove that the state cannot be justified. After all, there are people who believe in the state without believing in collectivism. But there are other ways to look at the situation logically.

Take individual moral status, for example. There are only three complementary possibilities : either people are mostly good, mostly evil, or a mixture of good and evil. If people are mostly good, then there is no need for the state, as people will act morally regardless. If people are mostly evil, then the state is useless, as there would be no good person to enable good governance. But if people are a mixture of good and evil, then a democratic state is the last thing you want, as it selects for exploitative attributes, thus ensuring that only evil people will be in power. So in no case is the state desirable.

Indeed, it is a typical uninformed argument against market anarchy that people are inherently evil and must be ruled. But this, on the contrary, only proves that market anarchy is the only proper form of social organization. If evil is our concern, then eliminating the biggest source of violence and exploitation, the state, should be our first priority.

Instead, if one follows the Lockean and Hobbesian tradition in recognizing man as a fundamentally irrational, egotistical being, one can easily come to the conclusion there is need for a neutral guarantee (a state) upholding peace, individual rights and justice. (...)

However, if man is inherently evil, i.e. egotistical in a short-sighted, irrational and immoral way, how can he set up a neutral, so-called “proper,” government? It would be in his “irrational self-interest” to set up a government safeguarding his personal interests, oppressing others. (...)

Since it is in everybody’s interest in the Hobbesian state of nature to form a personal government oppressing others for ones own well-being, any society would still degenerate into warfare and chaos. Thus, the Hobbesian theory of the formation of government in the state of nature leads only back to the chaotic state of nature. It forms an eternal circle of oppression and war.
"Legitimacy of the State", Per Bylund

Now look at social moral status. Either a society is composed of good people, evil people, or a mixture of both. In the first two cases, we have already seen that the state is undesirable. In the last case, the existence of a state only compounds the problem, as it gives some evil people the opportunity to inflict even more evil on others. In all cases, any given society would be better off without the state than with the state.

Now look at value systems. Either everyone shares the same values, or they don't. If they don't, then they might be dispersed amongst the population, or arranged in some cultural lines (be it race, religion, class, whatever). If everyone shares the same values, then there is obviously no need for the state to impose them. If people differ in values in a scattered way, then it cannot be justified to impose a singular value system on them. If people differ in values because of the cultural groups they belong to, then having a state impose a singular value system on everyone will only cultivate the animosity between these groups, and create social warfare.

Now look at dependence. If everyone needs to be dictated morality in order to be moral, then the state cannot be moral. If no one needs to be dictated morality, then the state is again useless. If some people need to be dictated morality and some do not need such, then we need to safeguard the first category against predators in the second, and the state is the worst possible avenue in that regard, as it is purely predatory.

In all cases where states of society are examined logically, it will be found that the state can never be justified. This is, therefore, an extremely strong intuitive argument for the proposition that the state is never justified.

1 comment:

Delta said...

Anarchist poll: