On my post from last week, Why I am Not an Anarchist, several commentators (and friends of the blog) raised many important questions. I will try to answer some of them, but I do not promise completely satisfying answers. Unfortunately, a blog does not afford me quite the resources necessary. For those who are interested, the response is below the fold. Block quotes are from the different commentators. Regular text is my response.
That example is very clear, but I believe the same principle would apply if some group of YAP people had asserted control by calling themselves “The Government” without unanimous positive consent.
At no time in US (perhaps world) history has there been unanimous consent to any government we know of.
The Rosseau/Buchanan discussion is much more detailed that I provided here (in particular, I recommend Buchanan’s The Reason of Rules and Limits on Liberty). Trying to sum it up, institutions are established over time by the interactions of people (spontaneous order and whatnot). Therefore, these institutions should be resistant to change and merely objecting to an institution is not sufficient enough to imply lack of unanimous consent. That is not to say that these institutions should be unchanging forever but that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” to borrow a phrase from science. Part of the role of government is to protect these institutions from the ever-shifting proclivities of fickle people. That is why the freedom-of-movement aspect is important and why living within such confines implies consent to the institutions, despite any grumbling that might occur.
Of course, here we walk a very fine tight-rope between a government simply governing the institutions (that is, merely enforcing the rules of the game as expressed by the players) and government designing institutions (that is, government becoming an active player). And that is a very difficult question to answer.
Why does that service have to be a monopoly on the legal use of threat of coercion? Why can’t competing agencies also be legal users of force?
In short, my fear of competing claims for the same property leading to prolonged feuds and conflicts between those competing agencies.
But of course once you have admitted that your judgment tells you that purpose is legitimate to justify government coercion, you have opened the door for the argument that other purposes might be legitimate as well.
Yep. Where the conversation lies is in what those purposes are. That’s a lot of the conversation in Limits of Liberty.
Greg G et al:
Jon, I am especially interested in how you defend your belief that government should provide a minimum basic income. I personally have no problem with government levying taxes to provide a social safety net but I don’t see how you reconcile this with your libertarian principles.
I’ll admit this is controversial territory. There are some libertarians, like myself, who see UBI as a preferred (albeit ultimately undesirable) alternative to the current system of welfare. I do not think we could do away with welfare entirely; it’s been around for far too long and to simply rip it out without some kind of intermediate system (UBI) would be extremely painful and probably highly damaging. In my ideal world, there would be zero welfare. But I think UBI is probably the most libertarian-alternative out there given, in my opinion, a necessary welfare state.