Sunday, September 18, 2011


by James Craig Green

I was recently reminded of Rand's assertion in this essay that:

1. ...a society that sets up a conflict between its edicts and the requirements of man's nature - is...but a mob held together by institutionalized gang rule and,

2. ...a government (that) holds a monopoly of legal use of physical force is the best way to prevent or limit this.

I agree with the first, but not the second.

A government that enjoys a legal monopoly of force CANNOT protect individual rights because it must be based on their violation against innocents. Any individual or organization claiming to exercise authority over those who have not accepted it is a thief, mugger, or tyrant. "Consent of the Governed" either means individual by individual, or nothing.

However, I am willing to tolerate such an organization -- if its purpose CAN BE limited to the protection of individual rights -- something no government in history has achieved. Accordingly, I accept the U.S. Constitution, with all 27 amendments as written (but not as interpreted by the Supreme Court) as the most successful and elegant attempt to reach this lofty goal.

Rand's "legal monopoly of force to protect individual rights" is often compared to the libertarian "anarchy" of Murray Rothbard. Ironically, those who claim ideas in their heads to be the most objective and rational, sometimes resort to emotional oversimplifications and logical fallacies to make their case. If you define "anarchy" as chaos and destruction, it is easy, by circular logic, to conclude it is.

It is possible that either of these, or neither, may prove themselves to be a viable future alternative to today's massive, unsustainable, Leviathan State. But, it is just as likely that some solution none of our dead mentors conceived will prove to be superior. Empiricism (unsubsidized science, technology and business) has often produced beneficial social changes which no prior generation could conceive.

For now, it is paramount to reduce existing governments drastically in size and scope toward protection and away from plunder. If, at some future time when today's monopolistic government has made great strides toward this transformation, old objectivists and libertarians may sit around in rocking chairs to regale their grandchildren with stories. But, I wouldn't be surprised to find that by then, a form of social organization we cannot yet conceive has taken the spotlight, for better or worse. I think it will be for the better, because of the self-directed productivity that resides in most of us when not seduced away by government freebies paid for by the plunder of innocents.

Personally, I choose to let neither Ayn Rand nor Murray Rothbard set the bounds of my future thinking, though both greatly contributed to my life in important ways. Like other goods and services produced by markets, people and property protection are most likely to be maximized when innovations are not inhibited by such an anti-human ethic as top-down force, no matter what soothing words are used to describe it.

I could be wrong, because I am not omniscient.

Neither was Rand, Rothbard, nor any other of my imperfect heroes.

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