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Government Explained

An inquisitive alien visits the planet to check on our progress as a species, and gets into a conversation with the first person he meets. The alien discovers that we live under the rule of a thing called "government", and wants to understand more about what "government" is, what it does, and why it exists.



Please feel free to share your thoughts on the video in the comments below. Thank you.



Monday's thought-provoking video: If You Were King
Tuesday's thought-provoking video: Government Explained
Wednesday's thought-provoking video: George Ought to Help
Thursday's thought-provoking article: An Open Letter to the Peace Movement
Friday's anarchist chess game: Tom Woods vs Walter Block

Comments


  • 2 years ago

    PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    "Well then if you DO accept that in that situation the use of force to punish disobedient subjects would be justified, then you do accept one form of government, including violent aggressive government action - i.e. the form of government consisting of a dictatorial plutocrat who owns everything."

    No. Governments don't own the land that the people they rule live on. The people governments rule never agreed to be punished by governments in the manner the people in your hypothetical scenario agreed to be punished by the consensual punisher. The consensual punisher wouldn't be a dictator or even an aggressor if it's true that the contractual agreement to accept punishment are legitimate. The consensual punisher wouldn't actually be a king. He would still be part of a free market society.

  • 2 years ago

    Berder

    Well then if you DO accept that in that situation the use of force to punish disobedient subjects would be justified, then you do accept one form of government, including violent aggressive government action - i.e. the form of government consisting of a dictatorial plutocrat who owns everything.

  • 2 years ago

    PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    Berder, "Well you seem to be making a deliberate effort not to understand me, so let me lay it out as directly as possible."

    No, I am not making a deliberate effort to not understand you.

    You said, "in this scenario you can't have it both ways," but yes, I can. In fact it is so obvious that I can that I replied with a "huh?" because I thought it was likely that you meant to say something else. I then asked you a few questions to clarify whether the wrong statement which you wrote is what you meant to say, but in your latest comment you failed to answer them or otherwise verify that you indeed meant to say what you did say.

    So I do understand what you said, but I am not sure if you meant to say what you actually did say. If you did mean to say something else then the reason why I don't understand what you meant to say is because you haven't said it. If you meant to say what you actually said then I do understand you and I simply believe that what you said is incorrect. Note that it is incorrect for the reasons I have in the third paragraph of my last comment.

    Did you meant to say what you said?

    "Do you, or do you not, believe the use of force to punish people who disobey my edicts, would be justified in the situation I described?"

    As I explained in my last comment (the asterick (*) part at the bottom):

    "* I have not thought enough about inalienable rights or voluntary slavery to say confidently whether I believe the contract you described would be just or not"

    To say the above more explicitly: I do not know whether enforcement of the contracts in your scenario would be justified or not.

    In other words, I have yet to formulate an opinion on the question.

    As I also explained in my previous comment, I do not think the question is relevant to what we were discussing earlier so I don't think my lack of a position on the issue matters. If you disagree, please say so and explain why.

    If you're going to continue to refuse to explain what point you are arguing, what your argument for it is, and what the relevance of this question to that point is, then I guess I'll just hand you an answer and see if we can make some progess that way:

    "Do you, or do you not, believe the use of force to punish people who disobey my edicts, would be justified in the situation I described?"

    Yes.

    What's your point? What's your argument? How is my answer to the above question relevant to the previous point?

     
  • 2 years ago

    Berder

    Well you seem to be making a deliberate effort not to understand me, so let me lay it out as directly as possible.

    Do you, or do you not, believe the use of force to punish people who disobey my edicts, would be justified in the situation I described?

  • 2 years ago

    PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    "You said you were opposed to governments using violent force, but you're in favor of enforcing the terms of contracts, and in this scenario you can't have it both ways."

    Huh? Are you trying to point out an inconsistency in my views? Are you trying to say that my views are inconsisent because I appear to be against "violent force" in one context (governments) but for "violent force" in another context (enforcement of contracts)?

    If so, let me clarify, as my views are not inconsistent in this respect: I am not opposed to "violent force" per se. Rather, I am opposed to governments (and anyone else) using aggressive violent force. Such aggressive violent force is unjust. I believe that violent force can be used legitimately/justly if the force is used non-aggressively (e.g. defensively or in retaliation to an act of aggression or to enforce a legitimate contract).

    "So is that all your objections?"

    Objections to what? What are you arguing? You presented a scenario in which you had someone act "like a king" (but not aggressively) in a free market anarchist society. I commented on it by saying why I thought it would be unlikely that such a scenario would play out as you described. I also mentioned the fact that some contracts may* be illegitimate due to possible abridgments of inalienable rights. But I was not objecting to any argument of yours, at least not knowingly. I didn't even know you were arguing for something. What were you arguing?

    * I have not thought enough about inalienable rights or voluntary slavery to say confidently whether I believe the contract you described would be just or not, but I don't think that it is relevant to the issues we have been discussing regarding market anarchism and governments, so I am fine with just saying that it may be just or it may not be. I don't see how this lack of a stance on this issue would hold us back from making progress on any of the other things we have been discussing.

  • 2 years ago

    Berder

    So you think that imprisonment for breach of contract is an invalid contract term, abridging an inalienable right?  So in your ideal society nobody would be imprisoned at all?  Even murderers?

     

    You might ask (in fact you did ask), why would anyone go to my kingdom when I make them sign a contract giving me absolute power over them?  Well, if I make the land cheap enough and don't issue too many unpleasant edicts, then a lot of people will accept my terms.  If their choice is between spending $500,000 on a house outside my domain, or spending $10,000 on an equivalent house inside my domain, then a lot of people will become subjects.  And once they are in, the contract binds them for life.  Also, if they want their children to live in the country with them, the children will also need to become subjects.  So the population will grow.

     

    As concerns the practicality of it, it doesn't matter how I got 4 million square miles of land - perhaps I invented cold fusion and used the trillions in proceeds to buy it all.  The point is I have it.  I said 4 million square miles because that's roughly the the land area of the USA.  There is at least one private businessman who currently owns an area of land larger than Delaware (John Malone).  The Pope legally holds the title to a large amount of land worldwide used by the Roman Catholic church, which constitute an area larger than Texas.  If you want to scale the kingdom down from USA-size to Delaware-size or Texas-size, it doesn't make that much of a difference to the point.  Maybe the kingdom is a portion of Mars I have terraformed.

     

    By the way it's not renting.  In this scenario I am actually selling them the land, with an attached contract saying they become my subjects and limiting resale.  After they buy it, they own it.

     

    You asked me what the point of this scenario is.  The point is, here I am acting exactly like a king, issuing edicts and using violent force against my subjects, but it's all justified by the contracts they freely signed.  You said you were opposed to governments using violent force, but you're in favor of enforcing the terms of contracts, and in this scenario you can't have it both ways.

     

    So is that all your objections?

  • 2 years ago

    PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    TDHeller, you said: "As to Homosapiens comments, Anarchy is the simply USERID of the poster, not the subject of the post. So inferring that anarchy is THE solution would only be your personal spin on the subject.

    "I largely agree with the sentiments in the cartoon and see no referrence to anarchy there anywhere, only a sad irony at our pitiful state of helplessness in the face of Large Government."

    Actually, the person who made the video (Graham Wright) is a libertarian anarchist (like me) as well.

    You're right though that he did not make any explicit arguments for anarchism in the video. If he had then the video probably wouldn't have gone viral because many non-anarchists probably would have been turned off by the alien's explicitly anarchist arguments that they disagreed with and thus would not have shared the video with their friends.

    "Interesting explaination of Government and in particular Large Government. Seems quite logical - hence in conflict with government ideology."

    It seems to me that most of the alien's arguments apply to small government as well. You may be interested in the sequel, Government Explained 2: The Special Piece of Paper, in which the human explains that governments are limited by Constitutions in an attempt to keep them small so they don't grow large:

  • 2 years ago

    PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    Berder, you wouldn't be a king if you legitimately owned the land, but I can see why you said you would "basically [be] a king." Your actions would look similar to those of a king with the important difference that you would have the right to evict people from your land (since it would actually be your land) whereas the king lacks such a right as "his" kingdom is not actually his (he does not own it).

    Note that the part of the contract you mentioned dealing with people agreeing to allow you to lock them up in the future (with force if necessary) may be illegitimate due to the fact that people have inalienable rights and may not be able to give up their rights in the way your contract asks them to. So if you actually did lock up your tenants who breached the contract then you may be acting unjustly as the contract may have been illegitimate.

    Putting the question of justice aside, I think the scenario you illustrated is very implausible. Why would any potential tenant agree to rent land from you on the condition of being forcibly locked up (rather than being evicted, as is standard today) for not meeting the terms of the contract? I know that I certainly wouldn't agree to such a thing as a tenant. All else equal, I'd rather pay more money for a contract that says if I breach the terms then I am evicted. I think most other people would agree with me. So it does not seem that your king-landlord business model would be very profitable, which brings us to the question of how you managed to own so much land in the first place?

    How did you gain ownership of 4 million square miles of land? There's no way you would be able to homestead that much land and if you tried to buy that much land it would cost a lot. Also realize that you would have to buy it from previous land owners. You wouldn't be able to buy unowned land from the government. I highly doubt that the largest land owners in a stateless society would be able to gain ownership of nearly as much land as some of the largest government-recognized land owners in our current society. Also, note that businesses often can afford to buy a lot of land only because they plan on making productive use of the land to make a profit. They then use their profits to buy new land and expand their business if their business is profitable. If you tried building up your kingdom to 4 million acres in this manner you would fail because your king-landlord business model likely would not be profitable as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

    So anyway, I am not sure what you were trying to suggest (if anything) with your comment. Were you suggesting that anarchy would devolve into a sort of feudalism resembling the society with governments we have today? If so, I disagree. I don't think such king-landlords would find their business model (of making potential tenants agree to be locked up for breach of contract) sucessful and thus would not be able to expand their business and gain ownership over a substantial amount of land.

  • 2 years ago

    PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    homosapien, you seem to be confused about what a stateless society would look like. Why do you assume that there an anarchical society must have no laws, no organized structure and no money? Your assertion about how abolishing the government would make everyone considerably poorer is completely unfounded.

  • 2 years ago

    PJAJ4321

    Nice video!

  • 2 years ago

    TDHeller

    Interesting explaination of Government and in particular Large Government. Seems quite logical - hence in conflict with government ideology.

    As to Homosapiens comments, Anarchy is the simply USERID of the poster, not the subject of the post. So inferring that anarchy is THE solution would only be your personal spin on the subject.

    I largely agree with the sentiments in the cartoon and see no referrence to anarchy there anywhere, only a sad irony at our pitiful state of helplessness in the face of Large Government. 

  • 2 years ago

    Berder

    Let me describe a certain form of free market anarchy.  Let's say I'm a very wealthy landowner.  I own roughly 4 million square miles of land.  But I'm willing to sell plots of this land to other people.  In order to buy land from me, you have to sign a contract saying you must obey any official edicts I issue, and the contract also mentions that breach of contract on your part gives me a right to imprison you elsewhere on my land, and also gives me a right to repossess the land.  The contract also states the condition under which you may re-sell the land you purchased.  It states if you re-sell it to another person, Joe, then Joe must also agree to be bound by the terms of the contract you signed, and if Joe does not agree then you are prohibited from selling it to him.  If you try to sell it anyway, the sale was invalid because you are in breach of contract, and ownership of the land reverts to me.  If you don't like the terms of this contract then you may not buy land from me.  But hey, it's some pretty nice land and my prices aren't bad.

    If other people would like to visit or live in my land without becoming a landowning subject, I require them to sign a similar contract or refuse them entry.  If they would like to visit or live in land I sold to a landowning subject, I issue an edict requiring my subject to have the visitor sign the contract or refuse them entry.

    Now in this situation, after I've sold a substantial portion of my land to millions of individuals under this contract, I'm basically a king.  I can levy taxes, with a contractual right to jail you if you fail to pay them.  I can set up other laws which my subjects are contractually bound to obey.  But my power is derived only from the contracts that my subjects signed; I'm not forcing them to do anything they didn't agree to do.

    What do you say to this?

  • 2 years ago

    homosapien

    This doesn't address the fact that an anarchic society won't progress because everyone will be out to serve self interest at a very basic level. Without a government, there may not be wars but not only will there be extreme violence between people in the form of rape, murder, robbery etc. (Because no laws would exist), there will also be the threat of being killed and eaten by other animals! Humans would have never got far enough to dominate all other species without organized structure. Not only that, everyone will be considerably poorer, the concept of money won't exist so goods will be traded by either barter or just bullying. It'll basically be worse than living in Afghanistan.

  • 2 years ago

    Angryrook28

    Hi there :) I see that you come from USA and (I assume) you are an activist or a blogger anyway :P I also believe that peace requires anarchy.

    Well I might not be an anarchist but I call myself a punk. I'm also an atheist, a non believer in free will and generally have an interest for science and theater. My favorite group is bad religion and I'd love to discuss with you ;) 

    Mail me at Billmichos@gmail.com and tell me what you think of religion

  • 2 years ago

    Johnsw1258

    About it. 

  • 2 years ago

    PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    Interrobang, could you elaborate? Who is misrepresenting whose position?

  • 2 years ago

    Interrobang

    Nice straw man argument there.

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