Tag: Natural Law

The Minarchism Vs Anarchism Debate: Solved

By Manuel Martin | United States

Most libertarians agree: society should either lean towards minarchism or anarchism. However, there is much dispute about which of these two is preferable. Before reaching either, though, a broad cultural shift must occur so that people may become progressive enough to sustain either system.

For the most part, politics is downstream of culture. This means that a region’s culture will decide what type of politicians and policies are present. In general, politicians react to the people, as they care about getting elected. Though there are always exceptions, many will morph into whatever chameleon necessary to secure election. Of course, the government also has a reciprocal influence on culture. However, the reverse, more often than not, is true. Politics reacts to culture more than vice versa, and a number of examples suggest this.

The Mexican Homicide Problem

Mexico, first of all, has laws against murder. They also have gun laws that would make a straw banner’s dreams come true. To buy a gun in Mexico, one has to obtain a license, a process which requires a background check. That background check looks at criminal history, mental history, physical health, and any past drug addictions. One must then provide a birth certificate, a letter confirming employment, proof of a clean criminal record from the attorney general’s office in the applicant’s home state, a utility bill with current address, a copy of a government-issued ID and a federal social security number. On top of all of that, Mexico has one legal gun store in the entire country. For every hundred Mexican residents, there are 15 guns. But in the United States, there are at least 88 guns per hundred residents.

Despite Mexico having one-sixth as many guns, more restrictive gun laws, one gun store and identical laws making murder illegal, Mexico as a culture has a homicide rate that is 5 times that of the United States. Same laws, fewer guns, yet five times as many murders. The government doesn’t account for this difference: culture does.

Culture, Not Law, Determines Murder

Here’s another example. Guatemala has just 13.2 guns per 100 residents, yet has an average of 386 murders per million residents. The USA is at 42 murders per million. Same laws, one-sixth the guns, but nine times as many murders. Rather than a corrupt government, murder rates are a result of a corrupt culture. When people vote for and tolerate corrupt governments, an equally bad culture is nearly inevitable.

In many Middle Eastern countries, Sharia law is the guiding philosophy of the law. The people’s adherence and submission to Sharia is simply a part of the culture. Thus, politicians seeking elected office must earn the culture’s approval and campaign on the promise of blending the culture with the law. In many Indian states, it’s illegal to slaughter cows. Why is this? In India, 80% of the population is Hindu, and the religion teaches that cows are sacred. As a result, politicians cater to the people and outlaw the slaughter of cows.

Culture and Law

A people in any given region tend to formalize their customs and values by way of political law. Some cultures are highly obedient to authority figures and willingly tolerate corrupt political behaviors.

America’s culture, for example, has always advocated strict adherence to the “rule of law.” While I believe we should adhere to the “rule of human respect,” as respecting the individual should always come before respecting the law, American values are mostly rooted in equality. American culture believes that adherence to the law will keep everyone equal and accountable. In fact, many believe that the “rule of law” will highlight and expose corrupt individuals. Due to this belief existing, politicians capitalize on it to highlight their opponents’ corrupt behaviors.

The Paradigm Shift to Minarchism

Clearly, politics is downstream of culture. How much, then, would America’s culture have to change for the people to embrace minarchism? For the sake of simplicity, I will define minarchism as follows: The government only provides national defense and local and regional law courts.

 For such a system to ever take root and bloom, American morals and values must drastically shift. Today’s people currently depend on the plunder of others for everything from roads to healthcare. Peaceful admiration of minarchism is far from the American norm.

The American people need to learn the injustice of attempting to secure personal gain by voting for a politician to steal the resources of others. Minarchism requires a societal realization that voting for an agent of plunder (politician) or hiring an agent to plunder the resources of others are identical actions. They are equally destructive to a culture trying to maximize human harmony and prosperity.

Minarchist Culture

A minarchist culture would need to progress their understanding of human respect. As such, they would reject the use of coercive power to manage the habits of others. Then, they would transition to one which uses persuasion to influence the habits of others.

Americans would have to evolve and embrace persuasion over coercion in all aspects of life. In a minarchist society, the government will be a reactionary force, only touching you when you violate the freedom and property of others. This, of course, is beyond the minimal taxation to fund courts and defense. But the fact is, our culture is not yet there. We need to love and trust humanity with a level of respect that does not exist. Though libertarians are trying to plant this in society, it is a slow process.

We would need to realize that the private sector can indeed make roads, bridges, schools, dams. Moreover, consumer organizations like Yelp are most efficient regulators than Washington bureaucrats. Where coercion used to be the norm, persuasion must fill in. This includes all aspects of life that currently use coercion: police, education, certification, roads, and many more areas.

Minarchism can never occur without a cultural shift towards trade over tariffs, property rights over political borders, common law over political law, customer-driven education over politically monopolized education, persuasion over coercion, consumer regulation over political regulation, and trust over suspicion. People must become self-sufficient and wise. Freedom comes with blessings and responsibilities, where political action breeds traps and division. But, the former can only work when the people are aware of its power.

A Natural Transition to Anarchism

A culture with values strong enough to transition to minarchism will not stop there. A people progressive and principled enough to elect politicians who actually follow through with surrendering their celebrity would never keep those politicians in power. If society is honorable enough to shut down the 7 trillion dollar government scam, it will do so entirely.

A society which trusts the freedom of others will not stop at minarchism. They will, instead, realize that minarchism is a false ideology, and nothing more than a stepping stone. Peace and justice cannot arise from the mass political injustice necessary for minarchism.

So minarchists, welcome to anarchism. Our cultures share the same values.  Now let’s work together to make your minarchist state a reality. Once the people and culture are ready for minarchism, we can swiftly abolish what’s left of the state and move to a voluntary society.


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The Fallacy of Limited Government and Classical Liberalism

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Since the founding of America, countless individuals have used the doctrine of classical liberalism to define the American way. More often than not, this leans towards ideas such as limited government and a protection of natural rights. After all, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is one of the most well-known phrases in the Declaration of Independence.

Since 1776, politicians have uttered the words as a call to action for the people. After all, the protection of these three critical rights is what sets the United States apart from the rest of the world, right? In the modern day, the usage has shifted slightly: more advocates of limited government use the phrase as a rallying cry, hoping to return to an age of freer markets and freer people. However, everything about the expression is simply a lie. The very idea of a government that naturally limits itself to these basic functions is simply impossible.

Negative Rights vs Positive Rights

First and foremost, what sets limited government and classical liberalism apart from other modes of government is a belief in negative rights. Basically, this means that the people only have protection against other people harming them. The right to life does not mean that a sick person can demand free medicine. Instead, it merely means that someone else cannot kill him against his will.

The same idea follows for liberty and property. An individual may act freely, as long as his actions do not prevent another person from also acting freely. Driving over the speed limit, for example, is an act of liberty. But, as soon as that driver hits another car, he has damaged the other person’s property. If he inflicts injury or death, he also has, of course, taken away that person’s negative right to life and liberty. To summarize, the idea of negative rights suggests that individuals have rights to their lives, liberties, and property, but only insofar as that right does not prevent another from also owning their own lives, liberties, and property. To each his own.

Positive rights, on the other hand, require the use of force against another person to bring about. So, a positive right to life would create an obligation for others to defend the life of an individual. If someone was sick, for example, he would, under a positive protection of life, be entitled to any medicine that may aid or cure him. In terms of property, a person may be entitled to a house, even if it means someone else must buy and build it.

The Classical Liberal Viewpoint

Of course, the classical liberal viewpoint is one that rejects positive rights. A number of practical reasons exist for such a dismissal. In the event of life, for example, let us imagine that same sick patient. A doctor may be able to find a cure if he labors for a thousand hours and abandons all other work. However, this doctor is also a mother. By fulfilling the positive right to her patient’s life, she may not be able to fulfill her duties as a mother. Moreover, she may have multiple patients with different needs, each requiring full attention. She cannot feasibly fulfill her obligation to every person involved, but cannot realistically be at fault. So, the classical liberal argues, there is an obligation to protect rights negatively, but not positively, as such creates unjust duress on the individuals doing the protecting.

The Fallacy of Negative Rights

Clearly, a government cannot adequately or justifiably protect positive rights. In reality, though, the same is true about negative rights, too, especially in a democracy. What breaks the soundness of the argument? Two things: taxation and voting.

On a surface level, a government can claim to only protect negative rights. Specifically, what comes to mind is the minimalist state. As many limited government advocates have outlined, such a government would only control the police, military, and courts. Yet, it appears that this notion cannot come true without taking from others. All of these organizations require the tax dollar, and this, of course, comes from the people, who may or may not have consented to give up a portion of their income. Regardless, the second that the government forces the money from the people, it becomes a positive right. Thus, a limited government cannot truly protect only negative rights: taxation turns this on its head.

A Vote for Change?

In a functioning democracy or republic, many citizens vote, either for laws or representatives. Yet, it is clear that the vote itself is also an example of a positive right. When a citizen votes in an election, he or she is exercising power, albeit small, over the electorate in order to influence political affairs. In other words, they are telling the government to use its force over other people.

Negative rights do not change. They always include, exclusively, the right to life, liberty, and property. So, if a society was to truly protect only these rights, there would be no need for a figurehead. After all, if nothing is to change, why should someone have the power to make changes? If a society ever was to only guard negative rights, any change in policy or executive order must necessarily be a violation of these rights. The only things a government could justifiably do is determine the salaries of its troops and judges, and carry out other business matters.

Theoretically, we could vote on these matters. But, as long as taxation was the end result to obtain them, the majority is still inflicting its will on the minority. If one person does not consent to the collection, then it becomes unjust. Alternatively, the collection of funds could be entirely voluntary, through donations. But, at this point, it is no longer a state, as it is neither coercive nor compulsory.

A Logical Impossibility

Thus, the notions of classical liberalism and limited government appear to be at odds with the principles they claim to safeguard. The logic works in a bit of a circle. In order to protect these rights, the limited government must become no government at all. But, by becoming no government at all, it no longer has the power to safeguard these negative rights.

Therefore, a government cannot both exist and solely protect negative rights. Every action is ultimately some form of force, whether it comes from voting or taxation. Even in the early days of the United States, citizens voted on which figures could use power over others. Eventually, these figures levied higher and higher taxes, increasing the coercion. The world’s great thought experiment has failed, and it is clear that a government cannot exist to guard negative rights. Only through the absence of government can a society exist without widespread force.


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Part III- Humans and Animals: Big Game Hunting

By. Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Delving into the issues of big game hunting, I have found many protests against the killing of elephants for their ivory tusks and rhinos for their horns. Big game hunting involves hunting the “big five“: lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, elephants, and Cape buffalo.I agree, this issue appears as though an especially major waste to kill an animal solely for its tusks or horns. Consequently, some animals have been hunted to extinction, while others are on the brink of becoming extinct. We, in the West, do not typically know what it is like to even have such large and majestic animals roaming about freely to the extent in African and Asian countries. However, we also do not know what it is like to constantly be starving, in need of clean water, constantly struggling to survive, etc., as much as they do.

Essentially, Westerners are judging the means in which certain people in African countries make a living by using animals for parts. Such judgments are oddly arrogant and naive. In Zimbabwe, for instance, where some of the big game hunting and poaching exists, the average annual income is around $909 USD as of 2016. The unemployment rate is soo volatile and measurements are insanely unreliable that organizations have ranged that rate anywhere from 4% to a whopping 95%. Before they ended their currency in 2009 and switching to USD by 2015, their inflation rate by mid-November, 2008, reached around 79,600,000,000% making $1 USD equal to around $2,621,984,228 ZWD.

Some other countries where big game hunting occurs are Namibia, Kenya, and South Africa. In Namibia, the average annual income hovers around $6,000 USD with a 34% unemployment rate. $1 USD is equal to about $13.75 NAD today. Namibia’s economy is said to be on a constant downward spiral with little hope in the near future. In Kenya the average annual income is around $1,143 USD with an 11% unemployment rate, and $1 USD is equal to about $101 KES today. Kenya’s economy is doing even worse than Namibia, and is on a perpetual downward slope. Lastly, in South Africa the average annual income is around $12,260 USD with an almost 27% unemployment rate, and $1 USD is equal to around $13.73 ZAR. Keeping in mind the struggling economic situations of this region of the world, it is easier to see how people can result to hunting and poaching, especially when the benefits far outweigh the losses.

The current market estimate for elephant tusks, which are made of ivory, is around $730 USD per kg, 1 kg is equal to a little over 2 lb, and the average African elephant tusk weighs anywhere from 23 to 45 kg, or 51 to 99 lbs; some alpha bull elephants known as “tuskers” can weigh around 100 kg, or 220 lbs. This means one elephant with two tusks, just counting the average market price in USD times the weight in pounds and times two, can bring in anywhere from $74,460 USD to $321,200 USD. If your average income is around $900 USD per year in Zimbabwe, that is over 8 years pay for you and 9 of your friends for the $74,460, and up to a little over 35 years of work for you and 9 of your friends for the $321,200.

You can do the math to continue the enormous positive impact this has on the families and the regions these are sold, and the incentive to kill elephants for their tusks. The elephant meat can fetch anywhere from $1 USD to around $5.55 USD per pound with an average of 1,000 pounds per elephant, equaling $1,000 USD to almost $6,000 USD per elephant in meat alone. In many of these kills, if the hunter came from a Western nation to hunt on these hunting reservations, they take little-to-none of the meat, and that meat is then either sold by the company running the operation or donated to local villages. This practice is standard across all of the animals killed on these big game hunting expeditions.

Many Westerners will then respond that this is still wrong to kill elephants, because these are glorious and majestic fauna who are kind and loving, and they see humans as cute puppies. Well, according to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), that is not entirely correct.

In fact, in most areas of Africa, elephants are seen as giant rats who destroy fences, destroy and eat crops around 200 to 600 lbs per day. They also threaten the lives of especially farmers, where around 200 people have been killed in the past 7 years in Kenya alone, and drink around 50 gallons of water per day. This has a detrimental impact on people living in these regions, threatening their livelihood almost daily. Due to constant drought in these African nations, elephants are often on the move for more water and food and will go into populated areas to get necessary sustenance. However, that comes at the expense of people within those areas, such as loss of precious clean water, food, crops, property damage, and at times the people’s lives. Thus, big game hunting is often in protection of much-needed natural resources.

Rhino horns are another thing people hunt for, and it is an ongoing issue in these regions and others. The price tag on rhino horns ranges from $60,000 USD per kg to $100,000 USD per kg, and the average weight of 1.5 to 3 kilograms, or 3 to almost 7 lbs; this means one horn can fetch from $90,000 USD to $300,000 USD. The drive for such an item is really found in Asian medicine, especially found in Vietnam where the idea is that if the horn is grounded into a powder and put into medicine it will help fight cancer.

The same is true for lions and tigers being killed for their bones, teeth, and claws. The bones are ground down to powder for alternative medicine, while the teeth and claws are used for jewelry. Of course the heads and skins of lions and tigers are also a prized possession for those in that market.

So, when there is severe drought, it is a cultural norm, it is difficult to leave or build fences strong enough, these animals are destroying crops along with the drought, people’s water is evaporating and being drank in large amounts by these animals, there is little-to-no work and the pay is low, these animals have plenty of edible meat, and the price tag on them is soo high, it is easy to understand that these people see far more pros than cons when it comes to big game hunting.


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Victimless Crime Laws Have No Place in a Free Society

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

When our great founding fathers fought to create this great nation, they envisioned a land where every man, woman, and child would be free to pursue whatever path in life they wished. They had just rid themselves of a tyrant in King George III, and many settlers who emigrated out of Europe saw the beautiful young nation of America as a bastion of personal liberty.

People of all backgrounds traveled thousands of miles across open ocean to flee persecution of all sorts because they knew that the newly established country was a safe haven for the oppressed. The first settlers of the New World would be very disappointed to find out that less than 250 years after it was founded, America has become the same type of nation that they left those many years ago. We, much like the 18th Century Brits, are clear victims of victimless crime laws.

Countless people are convicted of victimless crimes each day, at the local, state, and federal level. Taxpayers spend millions of dollars each year to imprison those who have done something that the state has deemed wrong, yet has not directly violated anyone’s rights or harmed them in any way.

Beyond being simply not pragmatic, victimless crime laws are immoral. They suggest that the State has supreme knowledge and jurisdiction over our bodies. This is most clearly seen in laws regarding the personal, small scale possession and use of drugs. When the state controls what substances we are permitted to consume, it assumes the role of “nanny” and pretends to know what is best for us. The use of a harmful substance is a personal decision, and one that, unless it becomes an extreme addiction, is unlikely to affect others in the user’s life.

In fact, incarcerating someone for a non violent drug offence introduces them to a world of crime. Once incarcerated, new prisoners are encouraged to join gangs by other inmates and are often pushed to commit worse crimes upon their release. They are eventually caught and sentenced to even longer in prison, continuing the cycle on indefinitely. Between 2005-2010, about two-thirds (67.8%) of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within 3 years, and three-quarters (76.6%) were arrested within 5 years. Cutting down on the many victimless crime laws will ensure that those convicted on minor charges are not thrust into a cycle of incarceration.

Government only has three legitimate roles- to protect life, liberty, and property. Rather than restrict the actions of citizens via legislation, the State should prosecute people once they have infringed on any of the aforementioned three characteristics of our lives. Instead of posting a speed limit and preventing me from driving at whatever speed I feel that I possess the skill to drive at and be safe, government should prosecute those whose unsafe speed caused damage to someone’s property or resulted in the loss of life or liberty. This approach allows for the maximum amount of liberty to be ensured to each individual, while punishing those who cause harm to others and their livelihoods.

Although much more free than other countries, America and her citizens have not had a taste of true personal freedom in over 100 years. Victimless crime laws are a severe infringement upon liberty and in order for the US to be considered truly free once again, must be eliminated. Government must return to protecting only Life, Liberty, and Property, and letting its citizens live life as they please.


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Your “Rights” are Ultimately Meaningless

By Ryan Lau | @agorists

Enlightenment-era philosopher John Locke was a vocal supporter of the idea of rights. His famous works outlined life, liberty, and property as the three basic natural rights in the world. Though granted by an all-powerful force (nature or a creator), a government would protect these rights. However, Locke’s perception of the very idea of rights is simply inaccurate. In the grand scheme of things, a right to perform an action means very little, as it cannot stop an ensuing consequence from occurring.

First, it is worth noting that government is a downright awful guardian of rights. Inherently, the state takes away both the liberty and the property of nearly every individual it claims to protect. When it signs into a law a bill regarding a victimless act, the state usurps liberty. And, when that state takes time and money from the people via conscription and taxation to execute and enforce said law, it usurps property. Thus, with nearly every action it takes, a state is in violation of two of the three Lockean principles. This, of course, throws a wrench into the idea of a government protecting rights.

Now, if a government is not the solution, what is? Surely, there must be a way to guard these rights. After all, they have been touted as the cornerstones of a free society for hundreds of years. Yet, as stated above, the allegedly free society’s function relies on restricting the very rights it claims to protect. This progression of thought leads many, including me, to abandon the notion of a successful state, instead believing that an anarchist community will best guard rights.

Alas, a society without rulers will clearly have its flaws, too. In the absence of police and prison, there will be some people able to infringe more upon the rights of others. Simply stated, the existence of a right will never stop someone from infringing upon it. The idea of a right is actually quite similar to the idea of a gun-free zone. If a shooter has an intent of murder, then a sign that tells them they cannot shoot will in no way prevent them from doing so. Though the sign has a good intention, it does nothing, as the gunman has a stronger motive.

The exact same concept applies to the idea of a right to life. Sure, all humans, according to Locke, have a right to life. Yet, that right seemingly dissolves when the gunman pulls his trigger. The right to life, in itself, does no more to actually guard lives than does a gun-free zone sign. In fact, it may be less effective, as the sign may be a slight crime deterrent in a few instances. Hence, a society without a state operates only marginally better than one with a state, when both claim protection of rights as an ultimate goal. Sadly, this renders the very idea of rights to be insignificant to a society’s mode of function.

If not rights, then what should determine the workings of a society? In short, the answer is based on morality and on true, informed consent. More specifically, it involves ensuring, on a local level, that every individual is treated in an acceptable manner, by their own standards. It is wrong to assume that a singular definition of “right” will work for a large group of people. In fact, such an assumption may be one of very few objective wrongs in this world. Such an assumption allows for the great inhumanity of misunderstanding.

In the vast world we humans live in, it is impossible to count the sheer number of cultures, ideologies, and philosophies that exist in it. This is because that number is in constant flux, rising with every birth, and falling with every death. How, then, can we ever trust a state to seek the interest of all of them? The thought is a naive impossibility, especially with the state’s inherent tendency to rob. A single anarchist idea will fail, in nearly the same way. It simply does not come even close to representing the vast scope of ideas present in the world. The only idea that can truly guard the subjective needs of all, is no idea at all.

Without a designated philosophy, a written or unwritten code of ethics, individuals can be free to form their own. Yet, unlike with a state, or even an anarchist community, a true lack of designation allows for people to create multiple unions with those of differing values. In a state, trade barriers often limit the access people have with those bound by other states. In anarchist communities, strict economic and social guidelines may do the same. It is only when no community is given preference, that all can thrive at once.

In such a realm, may some violations of individual standards still occur? Of course they will. Such is human nature, and the imperfect state of our planet. Yet, when we abandon the universal concept of rights, and instead focus on the needs of the individual, we move away from imperfection. In the gunman scenario before, imagine the scene occurring in a hospital bed. The victim is terminally ill, yet the hospital’s policy prohibits a swift end to the victim’s suffering. Now, the gunman is no evil force; he is rather trying to meet the needs of the sick man. Objective rights would state that the gunman is evil, and violating the sick man’s right to life. Yet, voluntary action and individual need trump the very concept of rights in every situation concerning an individual’s own self.

Objective standards for a society are an incredibly dangerous chasm, in which most of us have fallen. Rights are merely a long-standing manifestation of this chasm. Yet, hope still exists for the world, and by moving away from a preference for objective standards, we begin to return to a moral existence.


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