How Only One Political View Can Work for Everyone:

Competing Political Views Can Never Work

 

by Gary L. Fincher, February 2004

 

Recently, someone mocked that I had a “disdain for government authority” and went on to make the implication that all of the answers to the great questions being pondered on social and political theory rests with this simple insight:  “We should support [the government] fully; they [those in power] are our leaders and we need to be supporting them.”

Oh, really?

Not being one to take in an idea without first fully evaluating it, I decided I would devote this work to not only stating my unequivocal disagreement with that statement, but also to analyzing it fully as to why that is so.  And why it is that not only I do not endorse that statement but why I believe that others should not and cannot live by that credo either.

I’ll start out by saying that if the scope of their leadership was limited to like-minded individuals who wish to be led and controlled by those in power without questioning why, that would be one thing.   But once they claim fiat jurisdiction over my life without my expressed consent – not to mention to my detriment – then I have a problem with that support.
That’s my gut reaction, based on what I know and understand and feel intuitively.  Okay, so I may have jumped the gun, so to speak, on implying that those who want to be led are not questioning why.  For all I know, these followers have asked the questions, thought everything through, have adopted a premise that serves them and that they continue to work with and know exactly and precisely why it is they follow the leaders in government.

But that’s what I’ll be looking into here.  I’m going to start by attempting to lay out my own reasoned and logical case against following government leaders no matter what and if, in the process, I find that the argument I am attempting to refute has merit, I will act accordingly.

Now before I get into my analysis, let me say that I am well aware that, at least here in America, a Constitution was written, and that, pursuant to it, elections have occurred (although frequently manipulated from the inside), people have been installed in power as a result of those elections – in legislatures, in judiciaries, in a multitude of bureaus and departments.  I’m also aware that those legislatures write even more documents, get the president to sign them, and that all those departments and bureaus go out and enforce the documents (albeit with a certain amount of inconsistency and arbitrary capriciousness).  These people in power have sought, even demanded, the support of the populace and take money from them in the form of taxes.   I understand that there is a government that exists and functions, and though it’s quite large and pervasive in this society, I know and understand how it works.  I am not denying that this phenomenon exists.  Nor do I fail to realize that, as entrenched as government is in society, it’s virtually impossible not to go along with it to some extent, if only for prudence sake.   What I am saying, however, is that I am challenging the underlying precepts that are driving this phenomenon.  Fundamental precepts such as whether or not the people who wrote the founding document had the authority to set up binding elections to begin with.  And whether or not an election which has as its objective to annoint one group of people to rule over everyone else legitimate at all.   And whether or not these so-called leaders have acquired the power to wield over others authentically.

I say this knowing also that governments have been around for a long time, and that the misconception that government as a legitimate entity for dealing with social issues is a very old one, with centuries and centuries of tradition behind it and that my thesis will fly in the face of those centuries of tradition.  But let’s face it – centuries and centuries of tradition have zero impact on the validity of an idea or phenomenon.

So as a philosopher evaluating the validity of a particular idea or phenomenon, it’s meaningless, even counterproductive, to consider points that aren’t germane to my evaluation.

The fact that the government has been here all my life, or that fact that I have had family members in its ranks for long periods of time, should not, and cannot, influence my evaluation.  If I allow irrational thinking to cloud my decision making, and let myself be influenced by bias and prejudice of any kind, then my credibility as a deep thinker and philosopher becomes undermined and I can no longer claim to be a philosopher.  What do you suppose would have happened had abolitionists such as Frederic Douglas, William Lloyd Garrison or Henry David Thoreau considered centuries of precedent and tradition of chattel slavery when evaluating slavery’s validity?  Or if Martin Luther King, Jr., had considered centuries of a tradition of repression of blacks when thinking about whether to embark on his crusade?

What if that thinking had crept in and deterred them from their respective missions?

So evaluating its validity by the use of logic and reason will have to be the way it is done.

When decisions are made in an individual’s life, somebody somewhere makes those decisions.  Either the individual himself makes those decisions, or they are made externally by another or others.

It’s imperative then, to get down to the root of the question, that being, “Who gets to make those decisions?”  And if there are moral implications to those decisions.  In other words, does someone have a right to those decisions, which means no one else has a right to those decisions (can’t be both)?  If you have a right to make decisions internally, then no one has a right to externally (others don’t).  If others have a right to make your decisions externally, then it follows that you don’t.  Period.

Decisions, in fact, will get made.  Whether actively or tacitly, the decisions will occur.   It just becomes a matter of who will be the one making those decisions.  It’s possible that even if an action an individual might have wanted to take, actually did not get taken, because of pressure by external forces working in the opposite direction.  In that case a decision was made alright; it’s just that the decision was made under duress.   As long as there are two competing forces at play against each other, a decision is going to be made.

For example, if you want to drive your car after midnight but the police have told you that there is a curfew after midnight and that you will be arrested if you drive your car after midnight, you might not drive your car after midnight – but not because you didn’t want to.   In that case, you were not the one that got to make the decision regarding something you wanted to do in your own life that affected you and no one else.   In this case, an external entity (the police) made the decision for you.

Starting at the beginning point, there are two, and only two, possibilities.

First, there is the possibility that, regardless of who makes the decisions, whether it be you or others, it doesn’t really matter.  The reality is that moral implications do not exist, nor do rights, or ethics, or authority.  Indeed, no right or wrong attached to any action whatsoever.  Nothing inherently  right or wrong.  Basically a situation where social behavior is devoid of value judgments.

Decisions get made, yes, by somebody (who cares, really?), and it all gets resolved, no matter what the prevailing force is.  The prevailing entity (either the individual or others) who had attempted to exert control in an individual’s life, may have used violence, intimidation, persuasion, eloquence – whatever – in order to prevail, but it doesn’t matter what means were used.  There is no proper or improper means, nor is there any proper or improper entity, when it comes to the decision making in an individual’s life.

It’s like a tornado tearing through the woods, destroying this tree and that tree but leaving various other trees.  It doesn’t matter whether the tornado wins or the tree wins.  It just is what it is.  And that’s it.  Dehumanizing humans.

It’s like saying that there is no God (or if there is, he’s apathetic and doesn’t care who does what and to whom).  He didn’t create any rights or morality or ethics in the first place.  For instance, raping a 3 yr old is just as right as it is wrong.  Going into a home and slaughtering an entire family is just as right as it is wrong.  If a guy wants to go into a home and slaughter a family, and the family doesn’t want to be slaughtered – there still exists a conflict that needs to be resolved, and it does get resolved (either he gets to slaughter them and gets his way, or he doesn’t get to and the family gets their way).  In the case of the guy succeeding in the slaughter, he has done so by using brute, physical force, and that is the means that the conflict has gotten resolved.  And if all social behavior is devoid of any value judgment being placed on it, the slaughter is nothing more or less than a factual notation.  Someone slaughtered a family.  End of story.

Entirely possible scenario.   There’s just one thing:  it might actually not be the truth.

If, in your search for the truth, however, you decide that things can’t really be that way, that there has to be value judgments that exist.

By the way, the truth, that either a framework of ethics is inherently encoded into the human condition or it’s not, exists separately from one’s attitudes about it.  It is important to keep in mind that we are not “developing” anything; we are simply seeking to discover what the truth actually is.  Not developing a philosophy at all – just hoping to discover the correct way things really are.  In this case, it’s whether or not there is a such thing as ethics, so that we might apply them to decisions being made.

In my quest for the truth, I have considered, and rejected, the notion that social behavior is devoid of value judgments and instead adopted the notion that there exists a framework of ethics inherently encoded into the human condition, (the belief is that God designed it that way, but one could also make the case that it is due to the fact that more than one human being exists, each of them having an attitude about those decisions and care about what happens and who makes the decisions).  To use our example of the tornado ripping through the woods – the tornado doesn’t care and the trees don’t care.  Nor does the wind care.  So the absence of a framework of ethics when it comes to inanimate objects is of no consequence.  However, since humans do care and have an attitude about it, the question of whether or not social behavior entails moral or ethical implications is indeed significant.  And since it is consequential due to the impact of the attitude and psyche of the individual or individuals involved, there is some significance or importance in determining first of all, whether or not a framework of ethics is encoded into the human condition, and if so (one would-be decision maker is endowed with the rightful authority to make a given decision while other would-be decision makers are not), who is the one with the rightful authority when it comes down to those decisions being made?

In that case, an overriding philosophy is needed for determining just who is who.

The natural rights philosophy – the one that leads to libertarianism – holds that a person’s life, and all decisions associated with it, are his own.  The reasoning behind my contention that you own your life is based partly on common sense, that you are the one closest to your body; you are the one “there”.  Put in the most rudimentary terms possible, in biological terms, decisions have to originate from somewhere; they have to be made by a brain.  I think it’s the one that is logically placed inside the body, life and soul of the person whose faculties will not only be executing the decision, but whose life will be affected by the decision, that is the one that should be doing the decision making.   The reason I believe the natural rights philosophy is valid at the exclusion of all other rights theories, is that I do not believe that the decision-making brain is placed in an individual’s body by sheer accident, that it should not be the one that should control that very body.   It’s there for a reason, according to my belief.  The notion that it should instead be another brain, or multiple brains, acting concurrently, encased in other bodies, that inherently possess the right to make an individual’s decisions I find illogical.   An advocate of a competing theory to the natural rights theory would be in the unenviable position of having the burden of explaining how and why brains are inserted inside bodies randomly, arbitrarily, with no correlation between which brain is inserted inside which body.  In other words, the fact that I have a brain inside my body that is capable of making my life’s decision is irrelevant, under some competing rights theory.

True, I don’t have absolute proof of my theory of natural rights (that would take nothing less than God’s saying that yes, he created us and endowed us with inalienable rights, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence), but I do agree with Jefferson that it is a “self-evident” truth, in harmony with all common sense, logic and rational thought.  So that is what I believe and why I believe it.  The others I have eliminated by process of elimination using logic, reasoning and rational thought.

If, at the very starting point, one accepts that there exists a framework of ethics encoded into the human condition, as opposed to its only alternative, but summarily rejects the natural rights philosophy (also could be referred to in terms of internal rights, internal control of one’s life, internal leadership of one’s life, ownership of one’s life, or internal decision making over one’s life), one is now asserting that the truth lies elsewhere.  In that case, the philosophy one would use to arrive at that alternative conclusion needs to be laid out.

My philosophy has already been laid out.  I have made the assertion that libertarianism – the position that decisions should be made internally by individuals in a condition of liberty (the absence of external control) stems from the natural rights axiom, the premise that a person’s decisions should rightfully be made by the brain that is naturally encased in his own body.

(Correctly understood, libertarianism is not the actual philosophy, but the position; it’s the position that liberty should be actualized.  It’s where the rubber hits the road, the actual blueprint for how the decisions will get made, in a system that entails the absence of external control.   The philosophy is the notion of natural rights.  So if libertarianism is the “what”, the natural rights philosophy is the “why”.)

The “why”, though, is the philosophy I used to arrive at that position – the natural rights philosophy.

So, in adopting the natural rights premise, I am taking the position that there are moral implications to who does and who does not (who should and should not) make my life’s decisions.  And that I should be the one making the decisions that affect me and that no one else does.

In rejecting that argument, one might be saying that rights don’t exist, that there are no moral implications, or one could be saying that someone else possesses the inherent right to one’s decisions.

I am only speculating here, but here are some possible notions one might hold if they take the position that rights do exist, but they are not held by the individual whose life is affected by them.  I am going to explore some of them briefly, but will explore the most common one a little more in-depth.

First, there is monarchism, the idea that one certain person somewhere, and not the individual, is the rightful owner and decision-maker in that individual’s life.  Which person might that be?  Who decides who that person should be?  And does this one person have the right to control people on a worldwide basis?  Or rather, is every continent, or region, assigned a different monarch?  And who gets to decide who those various monarchs will be?  The monarchs themselves?  Does everyone who volunteers to be a monarch get to be one and have a region?  And if it’s region by region, how do those regions get defined?  This theory seems to be producing more questions than answers, and we seem to have a real definition problem.

Then, there’s oligarchy, the idea that a few selected people and not the individual, is the rightful owner and decision-maker in that individual’s life.  But who chooses these selected people?  Do the selected people themselves get to decide that they constitute the oligarchy? If so, does everyone who volunteers to be a part of an oligarchy get to do so?  Does this oligarchy have worldwide control, or is it by continent or region?  What is the formula that decides that it is in oligarchy, and not a monarchy (or not the individual, for that matter) that gets to rule an individual’s life?  Again, we’re producing more questions than answers, and that same definition problem is rearing its ugly head.

The only real possibilities are that you are owned by (should be controlled by) either you, nobody, somebody or everybody.  We have already explored the possibility that you own you and that nobody owns you, and the above examples looked into the possibility that somebody owns you.

Now, just in case one has said “no” to self-ownership, but “yes” to others-ownership, and has also rejected the idea that nobody, a single person or just a handful of people owns you, I move on now to exploring the other possibility – that everyone owns you (another way of saying that everyone owns everyone else).

If that is the case, though the most frequent theory I ever hear advanced is majority rule, wouldn’t it be that you’d have to get unanimous consent in order to make decisions, rather than just a majority of everyone?  Wouldn’t that make more logical sense? If it’s not unanimous, then it’s really not everybody – it boils down to a fluctuating group of people that really own you.   So we’d be back to ownership by “somebody” and not “everybody”.  But, I split hairs here.

But let’s nevertheless look at the notion that majority rules (your life, as opposed to your ruling it).  This is making illogical assertions that not only are there moral implications, but that some abstract majority has the right to own you.  And if so, how does one define majority – which majority, exactly, would we be talking about – the majority of all the people in the world?  By that logic, different people, at different times, would be in ownership of you, because of the way people change their minds and with every split second there might potentially be a new majority, and it could fluctuate so wildly with every moment as to literally wreak havoc on your life, as decisions struggle to get made in that manner.  A different set of people comprising this majority.  It could, and often would, change not only minute by minute, but second by second.  People would die, new people would be born, and new calculations would have to be made every second to determine a potential change in outcome in order to know which way to make the decisions.  And how these calculations would be made, and who would be the one to make them, opens up a whole set of problems, I would think, a monumental and Herculean task.

First of all it seems pretty arbitrary to say majority (why not minority?).  What is the formula that points to majority at the preclusion of minority?  Where does the notion that majority rule come from?  What is the reasoning behind reaching this conclusion?  Who decides what the majority is and who it is comprised of?    Does it have to be a simple majority (50% + 1)?  Or can it be two-thirds or three-fourths?  How about 53%, for that matter?  Or 71.33983%?  Again, show me the formula, I say, if the case for majority rule is going to be made.  If there are different numerical majorities that can be utilized, then which one should be the standard for human ownership?  How is it arrived at, and if not a logical theoretical formula, then who decides the arbitrary standard?

Is there one certain person anointed to decide?  Or two?  Or three?  If so, who is that person, or who are these people?  If the contention is it is the majority who decides that majority rule should be the standard, then there exists a paradox at best, or more accurately, an illogical situation that cannot exist, a consideration which alone should be enough to debunk the theory of majoritarianism.  For if the majority is the entity that is to decide that the majority should rule, we have a real definition problem.  For how can the majority decide anything, if it hasn’t been established yet?   Where is this pre-existing, preliminary majority that decided that the majority is to rule, or in other words, where is the preliminary majority that set up the actual, active majority?

Uh-oh, it’s starting to look like this too is starting to leave more questions than answers.

But let’s give this theory more of a chance to prove itself out, shall we?

Let’s say there are five people living in the world, all sitting around in a circle, you being one of them.  You wish to make a decision and announce it to the other four (never mind the fact that by using your voice to announce the desire to make a decision, you already have made a decision, ostensibly without permission, to speak in the first place).  Where does the idea come from, and where is the logic behind it, that it takes another two (or half of the remaining people, regardless of what the total number would theoretically be), and at that, two people at random, without regard to who they are as a person, some of which might not even know you or what your tendencies are, in order for you to make a decision regarding your own life?  One obvious problem I would have with the whole majority rule theory is that, without knowing you or your tendencies at all, how could an informed decision be made regarding your life?  Or is that not an important consideration in the mind of the majoritarian?  And why don’t the other two get to make the decision, anyway?

Where is it written that the desired outcome of the majority should be the one to get implemented, and the desired outcome of the minority (or minorities) should not get implemented?  Where can I reference that authorship and what is the formula thereof?  Could not it be intended that the majority get to feast on their desired outcome, while the minority gets to indulge in theirs?  Why can it not be asserted that the majority rule the majority, while the minority rule the minority, provided the two are not in irreconcilable conflict?  A perfect example would be a vote on whether to “allow” drug use.  The majority opts in the negative to “allow” drug use, so drug use is prohibited in that segment of the population who voted not to allow it, while the minority, who opts to “allow” drug use, is afforded the decision whether or not to use drugs.   There would be no conflict at all with that particular scenario.  Except that it would really be the natural rights philosophy in action, when you take a closer look.  And it would eliminate the need to conduct a vote in the first place.

On a side note, what is supposed to happen, in a majority-rule world, when there in fact is no majority?  If there are more than two competing ways to decide something (or, two plus abstentions) there is a high probability that no side will have over 50% of those allowed to weigh in.  It could end in a tie between all sides – an improbable outcome but nonetheless a scenario the majoritarian is burdened to demonstrate a logically following procession.  This Is particularly problematic since, the majoritarian cannot just simply say no decision will occur in the case of a tie, given that one of the “tying” sides had wished for no decision to be made, i.e., he would be declaring a side prevailing in practice when the side actually had tied, not won, let alone was blessed with a majority.  And the majoritarian, by definition, needs a majority in order to declare a prevailing victor.

More often than a tie in these particular dynamics, however, will be where there is no side that has a majority, but one that has a plurality, i.e., more supporters to its side than any other single side.  However, only a pluralitarian, not a majoritarian, could declare a prevailing side in such a vote.  In short, a pluralitarian could only hope for contests in which outcomes never ended in a majority or a tie, and the majoritarian could only hope for contests in which outcomes never ended in a plurality or a tie.  I imagine that tied outcomes would be an embarrassing quandary for all publicly-binding election advocates, and I cannot think of a single solution that will prevent this outcome, since it’s impossible to micromanage the number of “eligible” voters to engineer away from this unfortunate outcome, given that one can’t know beforehand how many “possibilities” of manifesting a decision there could spontaneously spring up.  Artificially limiting the number of choices (let’s say to only two, with an odd number of “eligible” voters) brings up a host of more problems:  Who decides how to ensure an odd number of voters if in fact there are an even number, or unknown number?  Is there a preliminary vote to determine who this could be, even if it can be done?  What if that vote ends in a tie?  Who decides how to limit the choices to only two, as in our example?  And so on.  So ties are very problematic for the majoritarian, the pluralitarian and even the minoritarian (if there are any of those); pluralities are problematic for the majoritarian; and majorities are problematic for the pluralitarian.  In each case, it’s the end of the line for their credo, I would think.

One might profess to be sort of a hybrid, a majoritarian-pluralitarian, if you will, whereas this particular  others-rule advocate professes adherence to majority rule unless there is no majority, in which case he morphs into a pluralitarian, for convenience I suppose, in the case of a plurality.  One problem with that is that I have never heard of anyone professing to be a majoritarian-pluralitarian; I generally only hear others-rule advocates say they believe in “majority rule”.  Sneakily, however, they will adopt a plurality as “their own”, hoping no one will notice that they are abandoning their “majority-rule” stance when it suits them.  I’m oversimplifying, of course, mostly using my hypothetical (and hypocritical) “advocate” as a metaphor for how voting dynamics are actually manifest, with some elections requiring a majority and others needing only a plurality – with no discernible pattern or explanation as to what science was used to arrive at the respective formulas.  Another problem is no provision for procession in case of a tie, and with the possibility of the existence of a “tie-tarian” being a nonstarter completely.

But for simplicity purposes, let’s abandon the plurality and tie implications and return to the thesis of the majoritarian.  Let’s give him one more gasp before tossing his metaphoric carcass aside.

If it’s decided that the majority is indeed the entity that rightfully owns each and every individual, why not go by a running total rather than scheduled election to discover the percentages, to maintain accuracy?  A scheduled election would only prove where a particular electorate stands at a given “snapshot” in time, and does not shed insight into where they stood five minutes earlier, or five minutes later.   The “majority” would be nebulous, then –  people die, are born, etc.   Should the electorate be monitored on an ongoing, moment by moment basis, to determine its true will at any given moment?  Might an election taking place every year or two leave room for the possibility of the electorate changing its aggregate mind in the interim, resulting in literally millions and billions of errant decisions?  Why, that could be downright dangerous or disastrous, might it not?  Assuming one is a majoritarian, that is.

Also, it’s a well-known fact that elections cost money.  Who pays for the elections?  Only the victorious majority?  Or the losing minority?  Or everyone?  And who decides that question?  The majority?  If that were the case, couldn’t the majority just shift all the costs to the losing minority and escape that financial burden completely?  And if the majority decides on all administrative issues dealing with the election, including cost, then how do we know who exactly comprises the majority before an election takes place?  And in the case of secret ballot, how do we know at all who comprises the majority?  Do they volunteer that information?  What if one person lies?  It’s hard to see how that chronological question gets satisfactorily answered.  I mean, let’s say the very first election is being held, and all that exists is a pool of raw, unruled people.  Aside from the fact that we can’t know whether to use majority rule or minority rule (no one has yet voted to establish that), we don’t even know who is administering the election or paying for it to be held, given the fact that no one has voted on anything at all yet.  In short, that very first election to establish the basics must have been one very tricky thing to pull off!

Then you have to decide which majority decides that the majority should rule.  And then does the majority decide this majority that is to decide that the majority should rule?  And the majority decides that majority?  And so on and so on?

Assuming the question is settled (and we’re a long way from there, at this point) that the majority is established as the primary decision making entity, then we have to move on to asking which universe of people does the majority come from?  The whole world?  If not, why would it be divided up into regions (for majority rule purposes) and who decides what those regions are and how they get divided?  Why are they drawn at a certain place and not another?  A majority of people in the United States, you say?  But who decided, in the first place, where that boundary was to be?  And why those very people inside the region and not overlapping into other regions, who are the ones who vote?

If individual to individual, the standard is external rule and not internal rule, i.e., interbody rather than intrabody, then why wouldn’t the same standard apply when seeking which majority rule should apply, assuming the political boundaries are legitimate?  In other words, if an individual in the United States is to be controlled by the majority of other individuals, externally and not internally by himself, then under the same reasoning, a majority of geographic regions should decide what goes on in a particular geographic region (Australia, Japan and Brazil vote to outnumber the United States and decide what goes on in the other regions plus the United States).  Or, in another twist, individuals in the region known as the United States should be ruled by the majority coming out of another region other than their own, Brazil, say.  So then a majority in Brazil would be deciding for United States, United States for Australia, Australia for Japan, etc.  But again, who decides which region rules which other region’s inhabitants?

What we’ve got is some real problems here.  If it is said to be logical to apply external rule to individuals, then (and keeping in mind that the whole concept of thinking in terms of people grouped by “nation” or country” is an external rule concept) why is it not equally valid to apply external rule from country to country?  The same logic that rejects that a person should not be controlled internally by his/her decision making faculties, but rather by external entities, would seem to set a strong precedent against internal control when going on a country by country basis.  Under an external rule theory, indeed, the decision-makers inside one country cannot control anyone within that country; it would have to be done outside that country.  (Although, in a scenario where all humans existing in the world exert decisions via majority rule, I’m having a hard time seeing how things would get divided up into countries to begin with).  Once you’ve taken an external control position, you cannot change it anytime you feel the urge.

In the case that a majority of the legislature makes the decisions over every person’s life, then the obvious question is, who decides who sits in that legislature (not to mention the aforementioned problems in determining which numerical majority is operative and which is not)?  Who says that it is in a winner-take-all election, as opposed to proportional representation, as is the case in some world locales, such as in Europe and Central America?  Does the majority decide that question, and if so, who is the one anointed to propose that question, or to decide, for that matter, if the majority gets a chance to vote on it at all (proportional representation has never been voted on in the United States in a national election)?

As for lines being drawn to design political boundaries for political regions, there are lines that demarcate so-called nations, there are lines that demarcate so-called states or provinces within those nations, and there are lines that demarcate legislative districts within those states or provinces.  In proportional representation, the lines that demarcate the states and legislative districts (in a national election) and the lines that demarcate legislative districts (in state or provincial elections) are ignored, while in the winner-take-all format, the lines and boundaries are key, especially to who is able to win or lose.  The question I would have is, who decides who gets to draw those lines, which is the lead-in question to who decides who gets to be in the legislature and who doesn’t?

In deciding who gets to draw the lines that will define the region where the majority is to be calculated, who decides where the lines get drawn?  Who draws the lines?  The majority?  Or did a single person decide where to draw the lines?  And if a single person, then why him or her?  Who decided that he or she would be the one to draw them in order to construct the very first majority?

I do happen to know in actuality how some of those lines got drawn, and since there is actual documentation which can be easily referenced as to how most political boundaries did in fact get drawn, I won’t go too in depth into the actual nuts and bolts right here.  But a true majoritarian would have some real explaining to do upon being confronted with those facts!  One who advances a majority-rule theory should have to be able to explain why those political lines that currently exist are valid since they did not get drawn by a majority, some of them not even in any kind of democratic fashion whatsoever!  And if they are not valid, even by a majoritarian’s own admission, why then proceed to derive a majority from its ranks?  Seems to me that those lines would have to be erased.

In those frequent instances where military conquest had more to drawing those lines than did some certain majority of some certain group of people, the majoritarian would have to concede that those lines are illegitimate, and that no legitimate majority could be drawn from a region with an illegitimately-conceived boundary – unless one is really saying they are not a majoritarian after all, but a proponent of military conquest (brute force) as the true standard for universal decision making (otherwise known as the “might makes right” theory).  But then again, a definition problem exists.  Who is the “legitimate” military and who is not?  Since one cannot logically simultaneously adopt and hold two competing philosophies, and having already discarded the majoritarian philosophy, who, then, would decide who the “real” military is?  How are its members chosen?  In some locales throughout history, more than one military faction has claimed to be the operative unit in charge, and I guess I need to know which formula one would use to make those determinations.  For that matter, what if someone here, in 2004 USA, started their own military organization, which in turn claimed to be the “real” military, and made the claim that what we generally refer to as the U.S. military was not the legitimate military?  How would you make the determination of which claim is valid?  Is there a formula for that?  Length of time in power alone is not sufficient for making the determination of validity.

I understand that there is a document suggesting that Congress makes that determination (Who had the right to write the document and why are we compelled to go by it if we do not know that answer?), but consider what if 435 people got together and said that they were the “real” Congress, and invited the public to participate in open elections?  Who then makes that determination? There would be two publicly-held elections to choose a Congress, in that case.  Who would decide which election is valid and which is not, or that both are valid, in a potential but unlikely twist?  Would the spontaneous claim of 435 new people holding new elections for a new Congress affect which majorities are counted?  There could be totally new congressional district maps, resembling nothing like the currently existing ones.  Would it make one majority “legitimate” and the other “illegitimate”?  If so, how so?  Would everyone that is currently eligible to vote for the “old” Congress be able to vote for the “new” Congress?  Or would two totally different “sides” get recruited, much like picking the “shirts” and “skins” in a boys’ backlot football game?  What if three groups claimed to be Congress?  Would the three Congresses vote on who gets to be the “real” Congress, using majority rule?

I could go on and on, breaking down the logic.  However, if one is making the assertion that the standard is military conquest, and not majority rule, then these considerations are a moot point, and the formula cannot include a Congress (presumably elected by majority rule) or any other democratic aspect, or there will be a mixing of standards, an illogical situation.  So a purist in the military conquest theory would not even deem the U.S. military to be legitimate, since a Congress was utilized to help set it up.  Seemingly, that theory suggests that the military that wields the most brute power, or who can overpower the other, is deemed to be the legitimate one.  So to the military conquest theorist, as best I can tell, the ultimate value is actually violence and brute force.

But back to the drawing of political boundaries by military conquest, from the majoritarian’s standpoint.   Lest the majoritarian contend that the military doing the conquering was somehow chosen by majority rule, I could remind him that there is a problem with that contention, since presumably the lines were being drawn prior to the existence of the particular majority being formulated, ostensibly in order to conceive the region comprising the population with which to calculate the majority, whoever that divinely anointed calculator might be.  The majoritarian would then have a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma:  Did the majority exist prior to the boundaries used to define the region in which the majority would spring forth in order to choose the military that would draw the lines?  If so, why draw any lines if the majority already existed?  But a majority already did exist – majority of worldwide population, no lines being necessary – so hypothetically the lines could have been drawn, all of them, all at once, in one fell swoop, assuming communication technology was high-grade enough for such an enormously complex task of such a magnitude as to get everyone in the world on precise enough a wavelength to be able to even to vote on it simultaneously.  For that task would definitely not be a simple yes or no vote, but a very intricate one, one which would undoubtedly require a high degree of skill and understanding of geography, geology, surveying, etc.  And then, of course, somebody might change their minds the next day, possibly altering the ratio of the worldwide majority – and thus the outcome.  A true and consistent majority rule theory would have to make provisions for things like the ever-changing fluctuations in attitudes and opinions and know that the outcome too, might fluctuate.

And the dilemma would be even further compounded if the lines drawn by military conquest involved the military units of multiple regions, or marauding bands of warriors, even, especially if there is a mix of regions with democratic tendencies and those with totalitarian (leaders in power with no previous input from any of the rank-and-file residents) regimes.

I’d be eager to know just how the question would be presented, and understood, in all its intricacy, to a billion people, but hey, the majoritarian willingly (even if unwittingly) agreed to take on this burden of proof.  Thankfully, I only have to explain how decisions might be made under a natural rights theory, an explanation that seems to loom much easier than the difficult and complicated task the majoritarian has before him.

Of course, anyone versed even the slightest in history and world affairs knows that many of those political boundaries being observed today were the result of myriad separate and different manners and tactics, most of them drawn without ever once consulting with any majority.  That was true even within the United States.  California, for instance, is an example of a spoils of war, its boundary decided in a military conquest of Mexico.  Is that boundary, which still is recognized today, valid?  Is the military conquest theorist right, and the boundary is valid, but the legislature that sits there and the citizen initiative process that exists there invalid?  Or is the majoritarian right, and the region known as California not legitimately recognized because its boundary was not drawn with approval of the Mexican citizens who resided there prior to its being drawn?  It can’t be both ways.

My point is, given that many standards were utilized when it came to drawing up these political boundaries in the first place, the assertion that one standard should then be followed (majority rule, say), while at the same time recognizing political regions whose boundaries were drawn using different standards, is flawed and should not be intelligently entertained.  Moreover, it is equally nonsensical to contend that a group of humans who happen to reside in one region should be controlled by whichever military is the strongest, while a group of humans who happen to reside in another region should be controlled (again, every life’s decision, down to eating and using the bathroom) by a majority.  Where is the formula that refutes the universal equality of the human race?  That merits a different standard for different peoples?  I need that formula if I am to reverse my stance on individual, self-rule, applied universally to all humans.

Who wrote the Constitution?  Well, I suppose that fact is known and not open to speculation.  But the more germane question is, who decided that they, and not others, should be the one to write the Constitution?  Literally speaking, anyone is free to write any document they wish, including a group of people.  But then the question becomes, what made them think that their document could be binding on someone who didn’t expressly sign or endorse the document?  Again, who decided that it was the majority, or a majority of the states (curiously, three-fourths majority in that case rather than simple majority, and these were states whose political lines were drawn by who?) that would ratify it, that effected its purported binding condition on all individuals whether or not they had even heard of the document, let alone got a chance to vote on it?

And that leads me to an interesting peripheral issue, an issue which any blacks or females who may be reading this essay may have a rather difficult time reconciling.  If majority rule was the chosen standard that led to the Constitution (a constitution that presumably set up majority rule, with certain limits) being ratified, then what are the implications of the fact that black people and women were forcibly excluded from comprising the majority that supposedly set up the rules for decision-making in everyone’s lives, including the very blacks and women who were excluded?  Either blacks and women aren’t a part of a natural constituency of which a majority is theoretically derived, but were only added later by the grace and mercy of a majority of the white males who existed at the time of the decision to include them, or the Constitution was not valid from the beginning based on the logic that its ratification was flawed due to the exclusion of some very important would-be voters.  I still am not satisfied with how only a vote during a particular snapshot in time (a scheduled election by arbitrary schedulers) is the only vote that matters, but I have an even bigger problem, when evaluating the concept of majority rule as a viable social tool, in excluding whole classes of people not only from making their own decisions in their own lives, but in the forcible exclusion of their being able to vote in hopes of coming out on the long end of the majority/minority ratio.  The majoritarian, especially the black or female majoritarian, would at the very least have to admit at this point that the Constitution – and thus the current government – is illegitimate on that score alone!

This kind of discrimination exists today, in current American elections, not so much with blacks and women anymore, but of Libertarian (here they would be saying that majority rule cannot include those who do not advocate majority rule) and other third parties and their candidates, who often get excluded based on their political beliefs and how they had planned to vote, had they gotten the chance.  I know, I was one of those voters who were excluded.  The State, comprised almost exclusively of Democrats and Republicans alone, has many resourceful and creative ways to effect this exclusion, from onerous ballot access restrictions to outright bans on their participation.  So does the fact that current, modern American elections are unfair and stacked toward two powerful parties undermine majority rule?  Should the results of an unfair, stacked election count and promulgation proceed, despite this fact?  And if so, by what rationale can this contention be made?

And if, in these elections, voter turnout is low enough, majority of the voters may not even constitute a majority of the population, regardless of demographic considerations.  If that were (and often is) the case, does that nullify the election, in the view of the majoritarian?  It would have to, following all logic and reason.  Would a new election have to be held, and then another new one, ad infinitum, until a majority is produced?  We already talked about a majority never being produced, and what to do about it from the perspective of the majoritarian.  But meanwhile, decisions go unmade regarding very important things such as eating, using the bathroom, travel, etc.  And what if the majority (or plurality) exists externally from the election (nonvoters) taking place?  Why then would the results of a scheduled election override the will of the people, in the case where eligible but nonvoting voters were in the actual majority  (albeit it might be difficult to know what people are thinking absent a formal ballot)?

Let’s say we have the world at its origin point, with 99 people all sitting around an island.  Let’s say someone pipes up and announces that he believes a person’s decisions should be made in X manner.  First of all, his decision to speak sets a precedent for the natural rights argument, unless the other 98 people immediately recognize his commission of a crime and take swift, corrective action.  But in the absence of swift and immediate reprisal from the rest of the population, he has been judge, jury and executioner, if you will, of a real, live decision (to speak).  Either it is cool to speak up in that setting, or he has just violated someone’s rights.  And if the natural rights theory, or internal rights, or internal control, is fallacious, and the correct theory lies in external control, then his decision to speak, as a violation of someone’s right, means that he owes someone justice or restitution.  (Of course, if he announces it at a high enough decibel level as to shatter everyone else’s ear drums, then he has done harm that even a libertarian would be able to acknowledge.)  Under a converse philosophy to the natural rights philosophy, one might say that people start out by violating the rights of others, by initiating discussion on which type of control is to be generally acknowledged, internal or external.  In other words, to anyone maintaining that the internal rights theory is fallacious, the default human condition is that of being in violation.  What type of punishment, or corrective action, if any, an external rights proponent has in mind, one can only guess at, mainly because such a theorist is, in my experience, not consistent or honest enough to offer up that answer.  But we do know that in this country, the penalties for violating external rule, and for attempting to make decisions for one’s self (and yes, sometimes even for speaking what the powers that be don’t want to hear) are often harsh and severe.

Let’s set the aforementioned considerations aside for a moment and proceed with my illustration.  An individual on the island pipes up and announces, “I think decisions are rightfully made by internal rule, by the brain encased in the body of the person affected by the decisions.”  A group of islanders chime in with, “Yeah, we agree!  Right on, brother!  Our own brains should be the ones to decide things in our lives – not someone else’s!”  Another individual retorts, “No, I think you can’t be trusted to make your own decisions.  Let’s put that rightful decision in the brains of others outside your bodies, such as in a monarch or by majority rule.  You should be owned by a monarch or by the majority of people at any given time.”  A chorus chimes in with, “Yeah, that’s right – that’s how we see it too” (all of them having presumably just violated their own professed credo).  Yet another islander pipes up and says, “I think you’re both wrong.  Who cares who has the right to do what?  If you’ve got enough physical power, you should be able to do whatever you want, even to someone else.”  Another group of people chants and seconds his sentiments.  Let’s further assume that the three groups have even numbers of people who comprise them, which in this case would be 33 apiece.  Our previously foreshadowed tie has come to pass in this example, but we are here now to examine a different aspect of the riddle than we covered a few paragraphs ago.

One of the people notes, out loud, “How do we resolve this?  It has to be resolved somehow.”  The spokesman for the first group suggests, “We’ll resolve it by just letting people live their life and let everyone else stay out of it unless they are invited.   Everyone do what you want as long as you don’t encroach upon my life. That’s the way to resolve it peacefully.”  The spokesman for the second group says, “No, we are going to resolve it by royal decree.  One of us will be a monarch, a king – I’ll go ahead and be that, by the way – and I will decide all decisions for all of you.  That is the way to resolve it.”, leaving not addressed the question of who gets to rule the Monarch himself, since self-rule ostensibly is out.  However, others in his own group happen to convince him instead to go by majority rule, so he is forced to change his proposal to that of holding an election and that the majority will decide (keeping in mind that only 33 out of the 99 believe in external rule, in this case by the majority).  The third group sits back and waits and reserves judgment.

The vote takes place, about whether or not to go with majority rule, and the majority rule proponents get drubbed on the issue, 66-33.  In effect, the majority has voted against majority rule, but the majority rule proponents insist that the majority cannot defeat majority rule and that majority rule should proceed nevertheless.  The third group, sympathizing more with the defeated second group than with the liberty-loving first group, proposes a compromise:  majority rule, despite its defeat at the “polls”, will continue, not because it has shown any eloquence or reason in its thesis or has proven its merit, but because the brute-force proponents will offer to beat up anyone who doesn’t go along with it.

Hence this shows how 33% can be rationalized as a majority, and how this, my friend, is the closest thing to how democracy in the real world actually works!

The reason that the majority-rule vote failed, conceptually, is because it had only made it to the planning stage and had not yet made it to the promulgation stage.  The majority rule advocates, even had they been in the majority, were prepared to flex their vote all right, but even a victorious vote would have been impotent, given the fact that no one had, at that point, ordained majority rule.  They would not have had the green light to promulgate anything, absent that ordaining.  Again, it’s the chicken-or-the-egg dilemma.

The only way, in fact, when you think about it, that majority rule can be promulgated and enforced, is with the help of the might-makes-right advocates.  In the absence of forcing someone to recognize a social theory that lacks initial authority, there is no way to establish it in the minds of unbelievers.

The more you examine and pore over it, the stronger the case for internal rule by each individual, and the weaker the case for rule by others, because of more questions than answers being left upon examination, as well as so many holes and weak links that can’t stand up to logic and reason. Majority rule cannot work in the real world in any practical way, unworkable.

Let’s return to the social dilemma of my illustration.  How do you think it should be resolved?  My imaginary resolution painfully demonstrates how it usually does turn out; but how should it?  My own answer would be to contend that the second group is operating on fallacious assumptions and the intelligent discussion is between the first and third group, with the first making more sense, due to the whole placement of the brain thing…….yet it still requires a leap of faith.

Is the assertion made that everybody owns a quotal share of everyone else?  If everybody owns everyone else, in other words, with a billion people in the world, and I own one quotal billionth of each of the individuals in the world’s population (including myself) then it would seem more logical that it would have to be a unanimous decision between all billion people (in order to form one whole ownership unit capable of decision making).  That would make more sense than majority rule, which would have to be an arbitrary decision somewhere along the way.

And since there would be no one to pick and choose which decisions – being consistent with the logic – it would have to include every decision, even down to using the bathroom.  In other words, the decision to go to the bathroom or not would have to be agreed upon with 100% unanimity of all the billion people in the world..  Sounds absurd, granted, but then I’m not the one making this assertion; I’m merely following the logical chain of reasoning from the formula that has been given to me.  If you’re split up into a billion shares, then in order to get complete agreement on everything,  or anything, one would have to have every single one of the billion (and again, that number would be ever-changing).  The number would fluctuate and have to be recalculated each time that number slipped to 999,999,999, for example.  Of course, it wouldn’t really matter what the total number of people were at any given time – a unanimous agreement would still be a prerequisite for decision-making, a total consensus preceding your taking any action.  Because if only one person held out, you’d be violating that person’s right to own you and to participate in your life’s decisions.  Under the belief that all people own all other people, the quotal share of ownership being the only logical way this could be manifest.

Well, you’d be pretty busy trying to make the decisions for 999.999.999 other people (assuming a world population of one billion), a task that is nothing short of sheer impossible, imagining that even if you could communicate with all billion people simultaneously and in a split moment in time, you often couldn’t get all billion people to approve of a certain move you wished to make, but couldn’t, in the absence of approval by your owners.   Which is one of the reasons why I don’t subscribe to that philosophy.  Nothing would get done, human activity would be in literal chaos.  (It’s amusing to hear someone attempt to reject my libertarian philosophy as leading to chaos, when in reality, by all logic, it’s the opposite idea, that everyone owns everyone else, that surely would lead to chaos!)

Dismissing unanimous rule as impractical (however, still more logical than the arbitrary majority rule), but still nonetheless looking at majority rule, may I suggest that it simply cannot be used as a standard because of the absurd moral atrocities that it seems to sanction and condone?

For example, a majority of people in the 1850s American South believed that it was perfectly o.k. for a white person to hold a black person captive and work him against his will.

And while a natural rights theorist easily points to the wrongfulness of the practice of slavery, a majoritarian would have some real difficulty asserting that slavery is wrong across the board.  He might be able to say that it is wrong for a white person to hold a black person captive in modern day America, since a majority no longer believes that that is right.  But I would think he would have to reluctantly concede that, at least in that one snapshot in time (Deep South, 1850s) there was nothing wrong with slavery, since it had the sanction of the majority.  A true majoritarian would have to part company with abolitionists of the day such as Garrison, Tubman, Douglas and Thoreau.  Those activists were not majoritarian, but were better characterized as libertarians, since liberating the slaves was their only prime objective, and their belief that slavery was wrong was absolute.  The best a majoritarian in 1850 could have done would have been to say that he had no  preference for slavery, and that he might work to formulate a new majority that opposed slavery.  But he could not assert an opposition to it on principle, unless, of course, he abandoned majoritarianism as his overriding principle.  Upon asserting that majority rule should be the standard for morality, he is already “locked in” until and unless he adopts a new standard.

What about in the United States, where there are several political parties who gain access to various ballots.  What if one of them does not believe in majority rule (such as the Libertarian Party)?   What if the majority votes into power a party who does not adhere to the majority rule premise and that party wins?  They would, in effect, be voting to have the majority not rule anymore.  Assuming, for the sake of argument, that all the parameters and definition problems have been surmounted regarding what exactly is majority rule, who it is, etc., what would happen if the majority voted to cease majority rule?  What gets promulgated?  What if the majority votes in an up and down election to eliminate majority rule?

If you disregard the vote, and continue with majority rule despite the fact that the majority has voted to eliminate it, you have just negated majority rule, by nullifying a vote by the majority.  You’ve negated one exertion of rule by the majority (setting a dangerous precedent?), the result being allowing future exertions of majority rule to proceed, provided that party doesn’t continue to win the vote of the majority.  On the other hand, if you abide by the vote, and the last exertion of majority rule leads to no future exertions of majority rule, the majoritarian has lost his raison detre, and has nothing to be in advocacy of anymore.  This would seem to be an impossible scenario for a majoritarian to explain away.  Disallowing the party to run is of no use, either, since that itself would be compromising majority rule as a concept, although that’s exactly what many states are doing when they enact barriers that cripple a minor party’s participation in the electoral process.

Statism is the idea that the State (however that is defined) and not the individual, is the rightful owner and decision-maker in that individual’s life.  Actually, statism could take on the form of monarchism; or it could take on the form of oligarchism, or it could take on the form of majoritarianism .  Usually, though, it reflects some sort of hybrid of all of the above, as the power brokering of the State is done in a variety of different fashions, sometimes with democratic aspects, sometimes not.  More often than not, there is no consistent manner in which decisions get made.

The one characteristic of all States (we’re going to define a State as a political government, or nation-state) is that all of them are comprised of those who have ascended to a position of power and want to be thought of as “leaders” and demand to be followed by those not in power.

The obvious question then, is, who decides who is a leader?  Is it anyone who claims to be a leader?  And if not, then what is the formula used for authenticating the claim of a leader?  What criteria are to be used in deciding the authenticity of a leader against a bogus claim?    Or, if ten people, say, claimed to be your leader, does one arbitrarily pick one or more to follow, without using any criteria, just so that one can be following somebody?  Another curious scenario would be, what if nobody sprang up to make a claim to be one’s leader?  What then?  Would one who adhered to a philosophy that dictated that you follow one or more government leaders be completely lost in that case?  Would such a person be totally averse to being forced to lead his own life?  Once again, the claim of leadership by someone other than the individual himself, over an individual’s life, seems to spring forth more questions than answers.  And since anyone could claim to be a leader, the definition problem will surely need to be addressed.

I, on the other hand, as an advocate of the natural rights philosophy, don’t have such a definition headache, as I have already defined precisely who controls what, what decision-making brain controls what body.  My definition as to who controls who is well-defined, and it came more natural, rather than contrived, because of the logic involved in arriving at which brain should control which body, life and soul.  It’s the one that made the most logical sense to me.

Governments, including the United State government, do not employ a single standard in their everyday, practical operation.  They don’t operate as if the majority has the total right to control an individual.  They do not operate as if only a few selected people have the total right to control an individual (most of them do hold elections).  They do not operate as if one certain person has the total right to control an individual.  And they certainly do not operate as if an individual has the total right to control an individual.  In fact, a closer look would confirm that the government has staked out no position whatsoever in terms of who should be making the decisions, and this is especially true in industrialized countries such as the U.S.   With ordinary citizens possessing the ability to lobby and pursue initiatives, it’s a virtual free-for-all when it comes to scrambling for the power to control your life and the lives of others.  Not only is there no real monolithic manner in which decisions get made, but decisions are more often than not made arbitrarily, capriciously and whimsically, with no discernable pattern at all.

Granted, there are some majoritarian aspects, although they are very weak and flimsy.  Some decisions are made by popular vote (but even many of those get ignored or overturned), others by legislation, still others by judicial decree, while others are made by regulatory agencies that were never elected in the first place.  Many decisions are even made unilaterally by certain government officials outside of any kind of protocol whatsoever.

Actually, upon a closer examination of how government (or more aptly, the State), even the U.S. government, operates as a conglomerate, we find that it would be a safer bet to say that they are operating as if there is no ethical framework at all encoded into the human condition, as if to say that social behavior is devoid of any value judgment whatsoever.  The general, prevailing attitude is that whatever it can do – and get by with – is fine; there is nothing wrong with it. This is true despite the fact that the term “rights” is couched in their rhetoric.  Oh sure, there are many various individuals in the government’s employ that adhere to one certain position or the other (there are even natural rights libertarians working for the government), but there is no cohesiveness at play.

Thus anyone who proclaims that she “support the government fully” is really saying (perhaps unwittingly) that she is adopting no cohesive philosophy, no stance that rights even exist as a concept, since the government that she is supporting is staking out no position on that, despite the use of the term “rights” and “ethics” in its rhetoric and propaganda.  (We all know that actions speak louder than words, don’t we?).  One who “supports the government fully” is presumably in support of all actions taken by the government, without regard to any ethical implications.  It’s as if they are saying that there are no absolutes or right or wrong – whatever the government does is fine.  I suppose this is why so many people were silent when the FBI killed all those children in Waco using CS gas that was in fact banned by the Geneva Convention for use in actual warfare, and helps explain why an agent of that same agency who shot and killed an unarmed woman in the back of the head with a high-powered rifle while holding her infant baby can get acquitted.  To a faithful supporter of government, those actions receive no value judgment whatsoever; but to an adherent of the natural rights philosophy, those actions would always be wrong (a belief in absolutes of right and wrong) no matter who committed them.

A charge that has been leveled frequently against proponents of the natural rights philosophy is that we believe in lawlessness.  But with an underlying premise that involves a principled and consistent belief in natural rights that can be viewed as part of a greater framework of ethics we can call natural law (implied prohibitions of initiating force and fraud, or external control), that charge cannot be taken very seriously.  The natural rights theory is very explicit in defining what is permissible and what is prohibited (another way of saying it is against our concept of law).  Those prohibitions are the essence of what a theory of law is all about.  All philosophies entail prohibitions – the natural rights philosophy entails prohibiting external control over decision making (external control is against the law), while other competing theories would entail a prohibition on internal control over decision making (internal control is against the law).  In every single conflict over a decision, assuming an adoption of a framework of ethics in the first place, one action is prohibited and the other is permitted.

In fact, with no axiom whatsoever to guide them, I can make a much stronger case that it is the advocates of following the government leaders at all costs who are the ones who are advancing lawlessness!  If one does not have a starting axiom, one cannot advance a legal theory.  A legal theory (or concept of law) is absolutely essential to duck being classified as an advocate of lawlessness, obviously.  My contention has always been that the government, as we know it, with the absence of a cohesive philosophy of rights, which thumbs its nose at those of us who do adhere to a sound theory of rights and of law, is institutionalized law-flouting.

Indeed, another way of saying that you should be able to do whatever you want (even to someone else) as long as you have enough people on your side and have an effective enough lobbying effort, which is what government really invites us to do, is that there really are no rules.

It seems to me that those who would follow government “leaders” (personalities rather than a guiding principle) is behaving more like a cult member would, than anything else.  The idea that a “leader” should be followed, and can really do no wrong, and be viewed upon as having omnipotent power, and that one should draw his morality from a personality or personalities instead of a well-defined credo, is eerily similar to a mentality more closely associated with a religious cult – only the cult in question is the cult of statism, or worshipping the State.  Put in more concrete terms, if a question involving morality or ethics were to come up, and one were to ask, “What is the right way to go on this issue?”, the follower of people might say, “Well, I will just have to wait until the president tells me what is right, before I can proceed, because I won’t know what is right until my leader tells me.”  But what if the president made two conflicting and simultaneous assertions, as politicians are often wont to do?  What then?  Would this throw the poor follower of government people into a perpetual state of confusion?  And what if one’s “leader” committed some horrible, egregious act?  Should someone in Germany in 1940 have “followed their leader” (Hitler) and assisted in the extermination of Jews?  And if not, how can it be that a German in 1940 be excused from following their “leader”, but an American in 2004 cannot be excused for attempting to distance himself in the same manner?  Where does the line get drawn, and where is the formula that tells you such?  I can imagine that there were people over there then who were telling anyone who would listen that what Hitler was doing was absolutely wrong.  And I’m sure those people were admonished with cries of “He is our leader and I am going to support him.”

On the other hand, one who is armed with a guiding axiom, or principle, will not have to rely upon fallible humans to relate the rightness or wrongness to him; he will already be in possession of the answer!  The natural rights advocate, for instance, would merely take a look at the question, see if it is incongruous or not to his premise, and know accordingly.

With those two instances of FBI brutality fresh in mind, I want to address now the citation that I have a disdain for government, and that is precisely because of their lack of any cohesive philosophy, and in particular, the lack of respect for the natural rights theory.  I am willing to listen to a well-reasoned argument as to why an entity, such as government, that operates totally incongruous to my own stated principles and philosophy, and oversees an operation that quite often steamrolls over me and my rights, deserves to be viewed without disdain.  To simply say that I should support leaders in government is woefully inadequate, however.  One would have to do better than that, in order to convince me to cease and desist in my disdain.  But I suspect that in order for me to abandon my disdain for government, what would have to happen would be for my natural rights theory to be shown to be incorrect, for it to be successfully refuted and debunked, and shown that a competing theory is actually the correct one.  Actually, it would necessarily have to be the one that contends that there are no ethics whatsoever.  I think that then, and only then, will I abandon my disdain for government.

One of my main reasons for gravitating to the natural rights theory, as opposed to the others that entail external rule is that I have compassion and empathy for my fellow humans – the hope that nothing happen to anyone against their will. It’s difficult to fathom how coercing others into decisions they do not want to make can be born out of any type of compassion, caring or concern.

Now at this point, I should point out that I am not unfairly singling out government as a target for my disdain.  As a subscriber to the natural rights theory, I oppose all actions by individuals and groups that are antithetical to that theory, not just government.  Anyone who acts in total regard of the libertarian (natural rights) notion that an individual should be autonomous and inviolate is deserving of my disdain.   It just happens to be that the government is the most prolific offender in that regard.  That’s the only reason behind the seemingly inordinate amount of time directing disdain at government.  We libertarians just haven’t noticed any special halo around the heads of those in government that affords them the opportunity to behave in manners different than others are allowed to.  We apply the standard of nonaggression to all people, regardless.  No one is above the law, in our view.  The badge of government is no place to hide.

Decisions get made internally, by everyone, in reality, including by those who profess an opposition to and reject the notion of internal decision-making.  Why don’t the opponents of internal decision-making wait for the external signal that such action is okay before proceeding, before making decisions such as when to eat, when to use the bathroom, etc.?  The most obvious answer as to why they don’t is that it is a physical impossibility.  Many decisions cannot wait for external signals; action must be made or the individual might die.  This is the single biggest piece of evidence that points to the fallacy of all theories that compete with the natural rights theory.  The fact that most decisions get made internally anyway, with minimal repercussions or problems to innocent bystanders, should be compelling enough as to defeat these alternative theories before they get a chance to proliferate.  Why these competing theories continue to predominate the public debate is beyond me, when they lack so much common sense.

There are still other decisions that actually could wait (whether to watch TV, whether to make a phone call), yet the opponents of internal rule go ahead and make those decisions internally (without waiting for an external signal) anyway!  What explains this curious phenomenon?  One possible answer is that the opponent of internal control, or of the natural rights theory, really doesn’t believe his or her own rhetoric, or what he or she is professing.  Another possibility, which I believe to be the more likely scenario, is that they don’t understand completely what they are actually saying, that they don’t comprehend all the ramifications or implications of their arguments when put in literal practice (which is where I come in, in writing this essay).  There’s the issue of why internal rights opponents actually make internal decisions as if internal rights exist, and there’s the issue of why they say they are taking action that is so seemingly hypocritical.  I’d be very curious to hear how an internal rights opponent would rationalize why he or she is doing something he or she has already professed to not believe in, when there clearly would be another alternative, that being to wait for external signal.  He or she could not really assert that they possessed a right to make their decisions, due to the fact that they have already dismissed the theory of internal rights.  They have already, hypothetically, established that rights apply externally, not internally.

One might suggest that humans possess some internal rights, but others are reserved for external control, a “mixed”, or hybrid philosophy, I suppose.  But how could it be that one could adopt two starting premises and attempt to apply them in any coherent manner?  What is the formula that is being used to come to the conclusion that a person’s brain is the logical decision-making unit in some circumstances, while in others, a totally different brain in a totally different body is the logical one?  So the question is begged:  who decides which rights are internal and which are external?  A fine quandry indeed would be created here, for if one were to answer that question with “the individual”, then you have actually, and unwittingly, fallen back down on the internal rights side of the argument (and that opens the door for an individual to undertake somewhat of a “coup” and “decide” that the mythical external controller will be apportioned a measly share compared to his internal endowment), while if you were to say “some other entity”, then one would have actually, and unwittingly, fallen back down on the side of the external rights school of thought.  In the former scenario, each individual would “decide” a different ratio of internal/external (see my above example of how a libertarian might handle that, if given that kind of latitude), which would really be another manifestation of the natural rights condition playing out.  In the latter, for an external entity to “grant” internal rights is pretty much tantamount to an individual’s not possessing any in the first place.  Thus the idea of mixed rights has run out of mileage.

In executing decisions internally in violation of his stated principles, the opponent of internal control might just be being practical, for if there is no conflict that needs to be resolved, i.e., there are no entities competing to take control over a particular decision in one’s life, the issue of who shall decide would not come into play.  From a practical standpoint, the only time you’d be pressed to make a decision would be when there existed conflict that demanded resolution.  Otherwise, you could safely allow the entity with no competition to make the decision.  It could be that for them, the adoption of an external rights theory merely means that, in a conflict situation, the tiebreaker goes to external factors, and never to the internal.  In other words, final authority rests with external entities.  However, they would be saying on the one hand that the default position lies internally (it’s hard to imagine a decision being made externally, with internal indifference), yet true proper authority lay externally.  This position is difficult to reconcile with rational thought.

It is true, though, that if there never were any conflicts between internal and external, not even one, there would be no problems and this essay would never have been written.  If external decisions were always made for an individual, and no individual ever cared enough to protest or to challenge it, hypothetically there would be no issue at all.  And conversely, in the more likely, but still infeasible, scenario where an individual made all of his life’s decisions (libertarianism at play) and no external entity attempted to thwart his will, there would be no conflict to resolve.  It’s only an issue because of the two entities vying for control.

But getting back to the opponents of internal control and their seeming inconsistency on the issue, in real world operation, there would be a certain degree of hypocrisy and unfairness with that mindset and that approach, since very often those same proponents of external control, though they enjoy internal control whenever possible but preach external control. have wangled themselves into a position in the external control hierarchy as to attain a certain amount of deference to internal control by the external controlling entity they have now become a part of, and one result is that they have minimized the external entity’s dedication to control their decisions.  The President of the U.S., for instance, has little to worry about because he knows that his own personal autonomy will be respected to the utmost, for the most part.  So joining the ranks of the State, the opponents of internal control have found, is an excellent way to capitalize on their own internal control they wish to enjoy without any external entities vying for control!  Amazing.  For one to preach external control while being vociferously critical of internal control, and at the same time maximizing their own internal control, may be symptomatic of  possessing a double standard:  they may actually believe that internal control is fine for their life and that of their cronies, but not at all okay when it comes to yours and mine, or those they deem to not be as “important” as they.

Again, they may well believe, down deep, despite what they publicly profess, in internal control, but feel that getting into a position of power is a preemptive, protective move to shield them from as much external control as possible.  For that matter, a proponent of internal control may feel the same preemptive, protective urges and act in a likewise manner.

Practicality aside, if you have chosen as your principle, external control over decision-making, and have rejected internal control, you should consistently have a principled objection to internal control at all times, and not just when there is a call for conflict resolution, although one who has a principled objection to internal decisions might very well resign themselves to the inevitability that people are going to choose to cough, to eat, to go to the bathroom without seeking external control, and that such offenses are simply futile to enforce in any effective manner.  And that enforcement resources should only be devoted to instances to where there is a conflict between internal and external control.  But there is no reason to expect that opponents of internal decisions would not be vocal in their opposition of coughing on your own, eating without permission from external entities, and so forth.

Upon discarding all other possible theories and then being left with the natural rights theory, that is to say that the only entity legitimately authorized to make decisions in an individual’s life is that individual, as the only sound theory worthy of promulgation and real-world application, the focus, when approaching anything to do with politics, government, policy, etc. narrows down to this.  In looking at each issue, one by one, whether speaking of taxation, gun rights, war, welfare, schools, health care, – whatever – the only consideration that should be made when analyzing a position on a particular issue, is its congruity to our starting precept, the theory that decisions should be made internally by the individual whose life is affected by the would-be decision.  With only one precept left standing after all others have fallen to faulty logic, issues get judged solely on which position is compatible with natural rights.  There is a right and a wrong side to every issue, once you have narrowed things down and found the appropriate starting axiom.

Put in specific terms, when analyzing an institution or policy, one has to examine its fundamentals and ask whether or not it contains any features that subverts our precepts, namely, does it involve decisions (coerced, that is, because a person can voluntarily authorize someone to make decisions on his behalf; but that would be his decision, in the final analysis) that contend external authority?  If so, that institution or policy must be rejected on the grounds that it stands in violation of the proper ethical framework (or it is against the law, if you will).

Now, let’s briefly go over some of the favorite institutions or policies of the State, in order to determine their legitimacy as a social vehicle.

Taxation

Since taxation is the practice of deriving funds from individuals without regard to whether they would have made the unfettered decision to transfer those funds, it represents coerced, external decision-making, and thus fails the test of being congruous to internal, self-rule.

This policy is a rather simple one to evaluate, and as even Webster’s defines theft as, “The taking of property that belongs to another without his expressed consent or approval”, there can be no intelligent argument that taxation, which fits that definition beautifully, is not theft.

War

First, when it is the State that is waging the war, the State, being an artificial entity to begin with (premised on lack of respect for individual rights) would not have the proper authority to make a political decision to wage war.  In claiming fiat jurisdiction over residents regardless of their expressed consent, it tends to wage war in the name of everyone, whether or not they have endorsed the proposed military action.  One does not have the right to make a fraudulent claim that you are in support of something you are not.  As discussed above, decisions can only rightfully be made by individuals, even if many of them make the same decision simultaneously.  A decision by a “leader” in power (that shouldn’t even be in power) that others will undertake an action such as war, is not appropriate, given the starting axiom.  We’ve already examined majority rule, so a congress that would “declare” war is no stronger a case.

Second, war waged by the State is financed through taxation, the coercive financing scheme discussed above.  Unless war can be waged without resorting to theft, it should not be waged at all, due that financing scheme’s incongruity to an individual’s natural right to his own property.  A legitimately financed war, assuming it passes the other tests, may be permissible.

And last but certainly not least, the State’s penchant for killing innocent civilians while waging war is an overt violation of a person’s right to decide for himself or herself whether or not he or she wishes to survive, to live.  This represents the single biggest problem with the institution of war, the biggest reason that most people, worldwide, oppose it.  There is simply no way to reconcile the killing, whether done outright or by negligence, of innocent people with the starting precept that an individual has a right to his own life.  I say “negligence” because even if you are trying to kill a madman who is bent on killing innocent people himself, one still does not have the right to kill an innocent person in the crossfire.

So, war fails the test on three major counts.  The only way to make war “fit” as an acceptable process is if you satisfy the requirements of voluntary association, legitimate financing and refraining from killing innocents who have done no harm.  The other way is to somehow unseat the natural rights theory as the appropriate starting axiom and install one that not only satisfies all the tests of logic covered above, but one that does not also cause war to fall into irreconcilable conflict with it.  I suppose the “Might makes Right” school of thought would permit war as we know it.  I can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t, since it doesn’t prohibit much of anything, save for physical inferiority.

Guns

An individual has the right to own anything he wishes, and to use it in any manner he wishes, as long as that decision affects his life and no one else’s.  So the government’s policy of gun control fails the test of internal control by an individual.  The State simply does not possess the right to make a decision of whether or not he will own or carry or use a gun in a peaceful and honest manner.  However, if he “decides” to use it in an aggressive manner by shooting an innocent person, he is attempting to exert external control over the person being shot, in violation of his or her decision not to be shot.  He would then be acting in a manner incongruous with the internal rights principle.

Schools

Government-run schools involve taxation, the coercive financing scheme discussed above, which alone deems them to be out of line with our starting premise.  In addition, the State has no right to compel attendance, what with their not owning anyone’s life.  Schools, therefore, should be operated on a completely voluntary basis, including the way they are financed.  In a society respectful of individual rights, they would no doubt compete in the market for students or customers.

This treatise will stop here and not look exhaustively at every single issue, or every scheme the government has dreamed up throughout history.  I think my point has been made and I think that by taking the initial premise, extrapolations can be made with other policies and institutions.  It’s not rocket science.

If none of this has made any sense to you, the reader, if my argument that a framework of ethics is encoded into the human condition and that it has to be that rightful decisions should be made by the individual himself isn’t resonating with you, then by all means, you’re welcome to offer me a counterargument that makes more sense.

But if you do, don’t start in the middle or close to the end.  Start by answering one of two ways as to whether or not ethical implications exist for social behavior and proceed to tell me who, if anyone, has the right to make all the decisions in every individual’s life. And if you can’t give me one standard, and instead assert that rightful control of decisions should be determined in a completely ad hoc or haphazard way, then why?

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