Sunday, September 3, 2006

Politics and morality : hashing it out

There is no question that market anarchy is correlated with a certain moral outlook on the world. More specifically, market anarchists, and libertarians in general, are people who do not abandon morality in the name of collectivist ideals which really have nothing to do with anyone's values or with any kind of happiness. They are painfully conscious that the end goal of social organization should not be to subject the majority of the population to the value system of a ruling class, whatever that ruling class is.

However, we should not conclude from that the existence of a "libertarian morality" or "market anarchist morality". This is an inversion of the process. Because politics is nothing but an extension of individual values, we have to acknowledge that politics is not subservient to morality, but rather vice-versa. We must speak properly of politics as being a category of value, political values, and not of values being an extension of politics.

The difference is pretty important, in that putting morality as a category of politics completely buys into the collectivist "morality is about how to get along" mentality. Yes, morality does help us get along with each other, but that is a consequence, not a definition. Morality is a study of the laws of reality as they apply to human action, nothing more, nothing less. It applies to a person on a desert island just as much as someone living in a society.

In fact, it applies much more urgently to a person in a desert island, since ignorance of the laws of reality in that case means death. The whole point of living in society is to relieve the urgency of survival, to heighten our standard of living. If it wasn't doing anything for anyone, then we would just disband, go back to the family farm system, and break our backs 365 days a year. But that's obviously a stupid outlook.

Society is the whole of interactions between individuals, and by extension their property and value systems. Society is essential but also presents the opportunity for some individuals to oppress others and completely close their chances to fulfill value. So it presents the inherent liability of slavery. Therefore, we need freedom, we value freedom, because without it we cannot express any other value.

Because of the truth of ontological individualism, the hierarchy of values is the ONLY valid basis for political theory. All others collapse into some form of collectivism (I am, however, willing to be proven wrong on that point).

The fact that politics is a species of morality should not lead us into believing that government is needed to enforce "absolute moral truths". Morality is inherently individualistic, as only individuals can act, benefit and suffer. We must therefore keep in mind that the only legitimate goal of social organization is to support the value expression of individuals. To establish a ruling class to enforce "absolute moral truths" is not only impossible (because of private choice theory), but also immoral (in that it limits the value expression of most individuals).

If there is such a thing as a market anarchist morality, then it is redundant, and should only be called "morality". Non-coercion is virtuous. Rationality is virtuous. Honesty is virtuous. All that market anarchists do is take these principles to their logical extent, and apply them to the ruling class. If murder is a crime, then war, the death penalty, medication regulations, are highly criminal institutions and acts. If theft is a crime, then taxation is criminal. If controlling another person's body is a crime - as in rape and kidnapping - then the War on Drugs and anti-abortion laws are criminal.

From this universal perspective, it is obvious that market anarchy is the only moral political position in existence. But does that mean that immorality would not exist in market anarchy ? Of course not. There will always be criminals. The main difference is that market anarchy deligitimizes and eliminates the crimes of the ruling class, which are by a long shot the most important category of crime. The amount of death, destruction, "victimless criminals" and suppression of value brought about by governments is many orders of magnitude greater than anything private individuals are able to inflict.

There are approximately 25 000 homicides a year in the United States, but the DDT ban alone kills more than 2 million people a year, mostly babies and small children. And that's just ONE government atrocity ! Add up gun control, the Drug War, the FDA, the income tax, immigration laws... there is just no comparison. The state of the world is such that the ruling class is so omnipresent and criminal that it makes living with an apartment with Jeffrey Dahmer and Osama Bin Laden in a free society seem like a happy alternative.

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