Vote for America's future. Vote Green.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More on minarchism vs. isolationist anarchism:

Paul, please forgive me, but you raised an interesting point in the comments section of my post.

1138 said...

"No, I'd put you somewhere closer to an isolationist anarchist than a conservative.

"I think there are a lot of folks who thing they want what you believe you want.
All I can do is pray that you never get it.
A modern technological society can't run on the governmental division you aspire to, just look at the Balkans."

7/25/2007 10:39 AM

My response was as follows:

Not quite. I'm a minarchist, which is similar (to an anarchist), but unlike anarchists, I at least acknowledge the necessity of the existence of government. I echo a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany in 1819, "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." Yet the paradox that is inherent in this statement is who steps in when the "equal rights of others" are violated? This common defense of the rights of others is the greatest purpose of government, and in fact, the one that is most ethically sound for a government to undertake. Leave charity to individuals, churches, and other organizations. They're far better at administering it, and they're not nearly as likely to misuse the funds for other ends as we've seen with Social Security.

The cite for the Jefferson quote is here, and is available on the University of Virginia website. In short, I believe government is a necessary evil, but one whose scope and power should be as small as possible while defending the rights of the individual from harm caused by others. I'm not opposed to the use of military force; I merely think we as a people should think long and hard before we do so, and that it be done very judiciously.


Snave said...

The paradox you mention is well worth thinking on. Ideally, I think we would all be inclined to look after each other, but that would imply some kind of Utopian thing where we didn't need laws at all, and in which we could all feel assured that none of our fellows would ever do us any harm. I don't think that's a characteristic inherent in human nature, so yes, I believe laws are necessary, including laws to protect us from those few of our fellows who would try and harm us physically, economically, or however. It's the laws designed to protect us from ourselves that I have the most trouble with, laws such as those that put a person in prison for smoking a joint.

Where we differ pretty greatly on government is on its role and on its scope. I think the government should, to an extent, look after the health and welfare of the nation. That includes keeping a healthy military for defending the country and increasing port and border security, as well as doing what it can to keep the nation's workforce and citizenry healthy... I think it's in the government's best interests and ours as well. To my way of looking at things, a healthy America would include not just physical health (i.e. access to healthcare for everybody, clean air, clean water, environmentally-sound business practices), but mental and economic health considerations that would in turn include keeping decent jobs here, and returning our nation's economic emphasis to manufacturing instead of the financial industry.

I guess that in a country as large as this one, that's a monumental task, fraught with problems of bureaucracy which are often due to the sheer size of things. Nonetheless, in order to keep the country healthy, I think it is in our and our government's best interests to do what it can to assure that the public is informed/educated, physically healthy, and employed. It seems that this would make for a stronger nation. As long as that approach can be taken without suppressing individual liberties, I'm all for it.

Like Mr. Chertoff's, these are just my "gut feelings". You are far more well-versed in political science and philosophy than I am, and you seem to base your ideas on some pretty well-researched principles and lines of thought. I just kind of go where my heart goes... So maybe I don't base my ideas on "gut" as much as I think. My guess is that an approach somewhere between ours is probably the best way to go, but hey... we both agree that American has problems, and we agree on what some of those problems are.

A government that helps look after our interests without meddling in our private lives. Wouldn't it be nice? 8-)>

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Bah, some of what you refer to as my better-researched ideals are merely the ramblings of my inner punk. True rebellion is a thing of the mind, not of fashion, and I've chosen to be a rebel with a cause. :)

I don't entirely disagree with your viewpoint, but I think the best way to minimize the bureaucracy is to decentralize the power, and in that sense, technology is a truly great tool to help even a vastly decentralized organization remain cohesive. In short, I love almost all of the same things you do, but we differ significantly on who is best capable of accomplishing it. However, we both share a love for this country, and as someone once said, "That which unites us is far greater than that which divides us." And those words, as much as any others, damns this president as someone who is not true to that which made and still makes us a great people and a beacon of hope.

1138 said...

I think your, and Jefferson's ideas are best suited to an agrarian society that doesn't rely on public infrastructure and government controlled commerce.
They really don't apply in a commerce based technological world where one person or a small group can control and or kill ten, hundreds, thousands and possibly millions of others.

Small almost no government is a fantasy that we cannot afford.
A government with limits is something we need.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Yet that opens its way to a whole slew of other problems. Who decides what those limits are, and who has the courage and will to lower the boom when those limits are overstepped? I cite the last 60 years of our nation's history when I say the answer, all too often, will be almost no one. In the end, what you propose requires a level of trust in government that I simply am incapable of possessing, based on the last 60 years of history, and more specifically, based on the last 14.

1138 said...