Sunday, April 20, 2014

Statism, Authority, and Consent

Written on June 18th, 2012
Edited in May 2014

   Most people who are aware of Statism define it as – in Obama’s own words – “the monopoly on the legitimate use of force”. I would add that it is specifically a territorial monopoly (and modify it to say “use and threat”). So we have four components: territory, monopoly, legitimacy, and force / violence / coercion.

   I feel like most libertarians focus on the violence part (and even tend to loosely define it) rather than the other three components. I'd even go so far as to claim that force / violence / coercion only occurs if and when either or multiple of the three other components are present.

   This is why I’m considering the polyarchist / panarchist stance. If we get rid of territories by dissolving nations’ borders or by letting them overlap and allowing multiple governments to compete in the same place, we solve a third of the problem. If we get rid of monopoly by getting THE State to allow competitors, we solve another third.

   If we redefine legitimacy – by equating “authority” with “authorization”, again redefine “authorization” as “consensual delegation of decision-making power”, and again redefine “consent” as “choice made in the absence of significant restriction of alternatives, backed up by the threat and / or use of physical armed conflict”, we’ve allowed for the potential that there can be enough choices of who governs us that we can’t really say we have no choice in the matter.

   We don’t have perfect choice, but perfect choice would allow us to govern ourselves, and potentially resort to armed conflict to defend our decisions about disputes in which other people have (potentially matter-of-life-and-death) vested interest, which would be less "anarchism" than "universal autocracy", i.e., the Lockean State of Nature.

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