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Sunday, December 20, 2009

State Aggression

Brian Doherty writes:

"States, after all, cannot function without first aggressing against someone, if only to get tax money to fund their activities."

It's amazing to me that libertarians can make such statements as if they were obviously true or uncontroversial, and something with which their opponents already agree. "So, you see," they will continue, "you are in favor of some forms of aggression!"

But this argument is entirely circular as it is typically formed: The State is illegitimate because it engages in aggression, and we can say it must engage in aggression because its collection of taxes is illegitimate -- but, of course, since the collection of taxes is how the State survives, to say their collection is illegitimate is to just re-state that the State is illegitimate. Thus, the argument runs, "The State is illegitimate because the State is illegitimate."

Or, to put it differently, if the State is legitimate, then so is its collection of taxes, and therefore collecting them is not an act of aggression. (In that case, in fact, it would be withholding of taxes due that would be theft!)

45 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Great post, I think libertarians need to work on much better definitions of "voluntary" and "aggression."

    For example, I live in NY state, but was not born here. I chose to relocate here as a consenting adult, knowing that taxes are quite high. In what sense is NY state "aggressing" against me? In what sense is the taxation "voluntary"?

    I don't know the answers, but these seem to be questions that libertarians should be working on. Gene, can you recommend readings in this general area?

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  3. Yeah; the accusation definitely takes a very absolutist theory of property rights for granted.

    Jeremy: I believe Randy Barnett tackles that objection in Restoring the Lost Constitution. The problem is that embarking on a course of action isn't usually taken as signaling "consent" to all likely consequences of that action. For example, suppose someone threatened to kill you if you moved into a particular house. If you then proceeded to move in, would you have "consented" to your execution?

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  4. Umm...well....
    Nacism is illegitimate because it is based on the aggression against other races (simplifying for the sake of argument).
    Thus...Nacism is illegitimate because it is illegitimate.
    Or, to put it differently - if nacism is legitimate, then so is aggression against other races. In that case it would be non-aggression to other races that would be considered illegitimate.

    I am not comparing legitimacy of state to the legitimacy of nacism. It just seems to me that roughly the same argument would actually be perfectly acceptable against nacism. I would tend to argue against nacism using this type of argument. You wouldn't?

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  5. I dunno, if it were me, even if I were not a libertarian, I'd be glad that libertarians were against aggression.

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  6. I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with this "nacism" business.

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  7. Come on, Stephan, (almost) everyone is "against aggression" -- that's like being against "bad things." The difference is that different political ideologies see different things as aggression.

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  8. Gene, right, like some see my keeping my income as aggression against the poor. Okay, I'm for that kind of aggression. I'm against the normal kind.

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  9. Yes, Stephan, and once you've defined "the normal kind of aggression" as the kind libertarians object to, and "the abnormal kinds of aggression" as the kinds anyone who's not a libertarian objects to, then you've got a nice circular argument "justifying" libertarianism.

    Just don't expect it to convince anyone who isn't already inclined to see taxes as aggression!

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  10. Jermey H., Onora O'Neill and Ronald Dworkin both have written interesting things on this topic.

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  11. Gene,
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Philip,
    Thanks, I will look at Barnett again. My vague recollection is that he acknowledges Spooner's influence and the consent problem, but doesn't attempt to resolve it.

    As for your hypothetical, if that were the case and I thought the threat was credible, I wouldn't move into the house. Would I be consenting to the execution if I did? I'm not sure; that's what we're discussing.

    But physician-assisted suicide seems to fall in the "voluntary" category to me. I'm not enough of a philosopher to sort out the difference between these two cases.

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  12. Philip and Jeremy, the more telling challenge to libertarianism comes from the idea not that one has taken on taxes voluntarily, but from the idea that one may have obligations that one did not voluntarily accept. (For instance, the parent of a mongoloid child, who was expecting a "normal" baby, did not voluntarily take on the special obligations of caring for the child that did, in fact, arrive. Does that parent still have an enforceable obligation to care for him/her?)

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  13. "ermey H., Onora O'Neill and Ronald Dworkin both have written interesting things on this topic." <= Could you specify these references? I'm interested.

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  14. scineram10:33 AM

    I agree with the nazism comment. State illegitimacy is not a premise but a conclusion. Since taxation violates property rights it is theft, hence the state that necessarily steals is illegitimate.

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  15. Gene, I think this violates your (awesome) LRC article a while ago where you said our job as libertarians was to show people that the State's activities violated what they knew to be moral imperatives in daily life. Should I bother digging that article up, or are you disavowing it?

    (I'm not being sarcastic, I'm seriously asking if it's worth my time to dig up something you wrote in the past and ask you to reconcile it with your current post. In the past you may recall you've said your previous writings are irrelevant to your current views, but then maybe that opinion is itself now irrelevant, and we all go crosseyed and become goosestepping nacists.)

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  16. Yes, Bob, I think that article was guilty of the very circular reasoning I protest against here. We live and learn!

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  18. I honestly can't really wrap my head around why you characterize this as "circular." (Or why you think that for one small set of believers in certain political or ethical conclusions, that it is just plain wrong or mighty suspicious that they ever state what they believe without simultaneously grappling with every single argument ever made against it.) All you need to understand for the argument to make sense is that taking resources with the threat of force from someone in order to do what you want with it (even if under the cover of providing you with services you might, or might not, want) is aggression.
    When stated that way, no circle is involved. You are not depending on the state's illegitimacy to establish the state's illegitimacy. In the Rothbard context, which that statement is clearly explaining, aggression is illegitimate. THAT is clearly something that most people throughout history don't really agree with when it comes to the state, but its not that libertarians are blind to this fact. If you want to argue that aggression is not illegitimate, that's fine, but that does not make, within the Rothbardian system I was explaining, the argument circular. It merely means it involves a premise that you think is wrong. All you need to agree with is the above statement that the activities that state's necessarily indulge in is aggression, which is very difficult to deny by the common sense definition, and then there is no circle. That others have ginned up complicated (and to my mind self-serving and fallacious) arguments that for some reason that activity is NOT aggression is not something that I think everyone who relies on the common-sense definition is obligated to deal with at length every time they make a reference to it--any more than you needed to, or could possibly have, dealt with every argument anyone has ever offered that taxation IS aggression when writing this post.

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  19. Brian, well said. Those who endorse the state endorse aggression. Some of those who endorse aggression are apparently uncomfortable stating it this bluntly, and resort to tricks like trying to change the burden of proof, word it like "you haven't proved the state is illegitimate," or "if the state is legitimate then the things it does are not aggression after all," these kind of things.

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  20. 'I honestly can't really wrap my head around why you characterize this as "circular."'

    Yes, I imagine that's why many libertarian keep using this circular argument!

    'All you need to understand for the argument to make sense is that taking resources with the threat of force from someone in order to do what you want with it (even if under the cover of providing you with services you might, or might not, want) is aggression.'

    Um, except if the State is legitimate, then citizens owe it taxes, and should be paying without any use of force, and if force is used, it is no different than someone resorting to force to collect a loan that the borrower refuses to repay.

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  21. Yes, Stephan, just re-stating a circular argument again and again without listening to anything that's been said will remove the circularity -- or at least prevent cognitive dissonance!

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  22. Gene, I don't think you have shown that the libertarian view against aggression is circular at all. Libertarians conceive of aggression in terms of property rights--not in terms of the state. We don't say "if it's legitimate for the state to do it, it must not be aggression." Rather, we say that certain actions invasive of Lockean property rights are aggression and thus unjust; and we conclude that the state, since it engages in these things, is thus unjust. Our view of the state is a consequence of our views about aggression. You seem to want to do it the other way around: your view of aggression is a consequence of your views about the state. Best I can tell, you now think the state is legitimate, meaning (in libertarian terms) you think some aggression is legitimate. But you don't want to put it this way, so instead you say, no, if the state is legitimate, then things it does must not be aggression, since aggression is by definition unjust.

    What seems to be going on is you have "moved on" and no longer regard yourself as libertarian, for some reason (sort of like Nozick's statements recanting his libertarianism later in life--see Julian Sanchez's interview of Nozick for more on this). Which means, from the libertarian point of view, that while you oppose aggression most of the time, you favor it in some cases. But apparently you do not like your views characterized this way.

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  23. Gene,

    I've made this point before when you raise an objection like this, but here goes again: I have met actual Objectivists who concede that the State is coercive and non-voluntary. They say it is necessary and justified. So the way they deal with a Rothbardian is to say, "I disagree with your claim that aggression is never justified."

    This particular issue of a State, legitimacy, and aggression is a gray area, because those terms are admittedly loaded. But surely you would agree that at some point we can fall back on a definition and not be engaged in circular reasoning. E.g. a pacifist is allowed to say, "States are violent," right? You wouldn't say, "Aha, you are just restating your premise! Suppose Thomas Hobbes and Victor Davis Hanson are right, then we see that States per se are not violent, but are only being forced to respond to recalcitrant peacebreakers."

    Right? You'd agree that my hypothetical pacifist made a perfectly legitimate point, even though the State itself could still be just dandy?

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  24. Bob, yes, some people may think the State is aggressive and justified. But certainly that would not be the view taken by, say, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Hobbes, etc.

    You might say the State is inherently violent, just as a Marxist can contend that private property is inherently violent. So yes, I'd say that pacifist is indeed just re-stating his premise.

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  25. Sure, Stephan, anyone who disagrees with you is in favor of badness and suffering from false consciousness.

    Wasn't there a famous cult in the 20th century that used to talk just like that about everyone who agreed with them?

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  26. Gene, You are mischaracterizing my views. I have a certain view of aggression, and what it is. You apparently have one too, and it's apparently different than mine. At this point I have no idea whether you consider yours to be libertarian or not, but if you do, then your libertarianism and mine are not the same. I believe people that commit (or condone) (what I consider to be) aggression are criminals (or advocates of criminality). I honestly don't see why you don't just say what your views are, distinguish them from libertarianism, and attempt to defend them. If you think the state is justified, give an argument. Some of us are anarchist libertarians, however. I am still not sure why the libertarians' opposition to aggression bothers you.

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  27. Stephan, what you learn studying analytical philosophy today is to spot bad arguments. One may even agree with position X while noting "This argument for X is bad." I am not trying to argue, here, whether there is or isn't any justification for the State. You seem to have to have tacked on to my "Argument Y against the State is a bad (because circular) argument then addendum "And therefore the State is justified." I did not say that, and I would be quite dull if I thought that defeasing a single argument against the State therefore justified its existence!

    So, no, in a blog post I am not going to try to lay out a theory of politics, which usually is done at book length. (But don't fear -- my first book on political theory should be done soon.) The only thing I am willing to discuss in this context is, "Is the argument I'm discussing any good?"

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  28. "It merely means it involves a premise that you think is wrong. All you need to agree with is the above statement that the activities that state's necessarily indulge in is aggression, which is very difficult to deny by the common sense definition"

    Brian, are you really not aware that almost every political philosopher in history would disagree with this? That, of course, doesn't mean they are right and you are wrong, but it doesn't make the argument I am discussing impotent against them.

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  29. I believe I said exactly that in my original comment, and I still don't see how the argument is circular, in that it relies on the state's illegitimacy to explain the state's illegitimacy. It merely relies on a particular definition of aggression, which I think is uncontroversial when applied to, say, as Doherty to Callahan interaction. However, since there doesn't seem to me anything either of us are telling each other that we don't know, I see no point in continue this discussion after repeating myself here.. I'd like to think that Bob's example about "state are violent" makes this point as well as it could be made to anyone who isn't prepared not to see it. Really, it IS Ok to just say that you think initiating aggression is necessary or proper under certain circumstances. Obviously, it's what most of the world believes. But believing aggression as defined in my comment above is NOT necc. or proper, and basing an argument against that state on that, is again not circular in any way I can see. It just, again, involves a premise you don't agree with.

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  30. No, Brian, most of the world believes collecting taxes is not aggression. Really.

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  31. Gene,

    "I would be quite dull if I thought that defeasing a single argument against the State therefore justified its existence!... So, no, in a blog post I am not going to try to lay out a theory of politics, which usually is done at book length. (But don't fear -- my first book on political theory should be done soon.) The only thing I am willing to discuss in this context is, "Is the argument I'm discussing any good?""

    I did not mean to imply you think that your criticism of (what you perceive to be) some libertarian arguments means you think this justifies the state. I agree this would be a bad argument. Rather, I'm trying to understand where you are going with this, what you are up to. My assumption is you have moved beyond your earlier libertarianism (as exemplified in this earlier piece of yours), and you now, from a more "sophisticated" vantage point, see certain inadequacies in the "simplistic" libertarian view of aggression, legitimacy, and the state. And your trotting out the "libertarianism is circular" argument is meant to try to identify what you see as fallacious in the simplistic libertarianism you have now evolved beyond. The problem is the argument that is bad is yours: as people here have pointed out, libertarianism may be fallacious, but it is simply not circular to oppose the state on the grounds that you oppose aggression. Libertarians may have flawed arguments, but you have failed in your attempt to show that it's circular.

    You speak of bad arguments for libertarianism--but one does not need a justification to refrain from aggression. The libertarian is the person who has a certain conception of aggression, and who opposes it as unjust. You may yourself have a different conception of aggression (now?), or may not think aggression is unjust. I don't know, since you aren't "willing to discuss" it, but maybe in your new book the world will find out.

    BTW you are right that many people who endorse certain state actions think those state actions are not unjust, not aggression; but many others readily admit that they favor aggression for various reasons (the standard criminal favors it because he is so lacking in empathy or focused on his own needs that he is willing to trample others to get what he wants; the minarchist, conservative, or classical liberal might argue that you have to commit a small amount of aggression to prevent a much worse and greater amount of aggression that would obtain in a state of anarchy). So we can say statists come in two flavors: those who admit the state commits aggression but think it's justified; and those who think (at least some) things the state does are just and are therefore not aggression. But from the libertarian point of view, there is little difference.

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  32. Gene wrote:

    No, Brian, most of the world believes collecting taxes is not aggression. Really.

    Gene, you are missing (one of) the points. (And just to be fair, let me say Stephan that you sure sounded as if you believed Gene was necessarily endorsing the State.)

    We understand that the overwhelming majority of statists in the US don't believe the State commits millions acts of aggression daily. (I'm not so sure about other cultures; what do Russians think for example?)

    The point is, they are being inconsistent with their own definition of what constitutes aggression. The only way to reconcile things is to say, "The government owns all land and all human bodies in this geographical region, and we are all just renters."

    Since most people don't believe that either, they are walking contradictions.

    In mathematics it's OK to start with an apparently innocuous assumption and reach an uncomfortable conclusion, right? (E.g. the axiom of choice leading to all kinds of weird results.)

    So why not in political science, or with Arrow's theorem for example?

    I grant you that maybe sometimes libertarians deploy this technique in a sloppy fashion, but I think it is good to make people think through the implications of their worldviews. I think it's great if I say, "How is taxation different from theft?" and then say, "OK so if 51% of the people on my street vote to redistribute my wealth, is that OK?" To force people to answer, "Well, only if the street constitutes a local government and there's a mayor and everything..." is great.

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  33. scineram11:11 AM

    The point is, they are being inconsistent with their own definition of what constitutes aggression. The only way to reconcile things is to say, "The government owns all land and all human bodies in this geographical region, and we are all just renters."

    Since most people don't believe that either, they are walking contradictions.


    No. This is not contradictory for reasons Gene has elaborated quite a few times.

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  34. Scineram,

    Gene invoked private property owners using force when I violate a contract. I never signed a contract with the State. The only way they aren't committing aggression is if they own my house and I'm a renter, if they own my body and I petition them to not fight in Viet Nam, etc.

    Where am I going wrong here?

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  35. "The problem is the argument that is bad is yours: as people here have pointed out, libertarianism may be fallacious, but it is simply not circular to oppose the state on the grounds that you oppose aggression."

    Funny, Stephan, that David Gordon and Mario Rizzo (two of the smartest libertarians I know) did not immediately jump all over this badness in my argument, but instead seemed to immediately see its force; on the other hand, the people here who have been "pointing out" how my argument is bad have done so by re-stating the circular reason again and again, with increasing expressions of shock that I'm not "getting it."

    Hmmm...

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  36. 'The point is, they are being inconsistent with their own definition of what constitutes aggression. The only way to reconcile things is to say, "The government owns all land and all human bodies in this geographical region, and we are all just renters."

    'Since most people don't believe that either, they are walking contradictions.'

    If those were the only options, then yes, there would be a contradiction. But this relies on a theory of property rights as absolute, and most people hold no such theory.

    But, more specifically, I'm not interested in engaging with "most people," I'm interested in engaging with the great political philosophers of our tradition. And believe me, Bob, not one of them is in this contradictory state you describe. Let's take Aquinas, for instance. He would begin, I think (I'm not an expert on Thomism!) by saying that all of our bodies, property are bequeathed to us by God. Now, God allows us to hold some of these gifts as "private property." But, these holdings come with provisos, for instance, that someone starving may help himself to some of the property of another, who is not starving, and that, when a ruler ruling justly per the Church's dictates, asks for a reasonable amount in taxes to support the State -- which is another bequeathal by God to aid Man in his fallen state -- then it is required that one pay up.

    So do you see how the "taxes are aggression" attitude already assumes an absolutist notion of property rights, which of course, immediately gets us anarcho-capitalism, so that "taxes are aggression" is not properly an argument for anarcho-capitalism, it is a conclusion of anarcho-capitalism, i.e., once you have become convinced, by some means, that the State is unjust, then you can conclude taxes are aggression.

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  37. Bob, "Gene, you are missing (one of) the points. (And just to be fair, let me say Stephan that you sure sounded as if you believed Gene was necessarily endorsing the State.)"

    Why is this "fair"? I do think it's a reasonable inference that Gene is indeed now in favor of at least some state. Why else would he disavow his earlier libertarian reasoning, and pounce on libertarians who attack the state? He is free to clarify or deny, but he says he's not willing to do this. We can only await his political theory book to find out.

    Gene, I didn't follow all of Rizzo or Gordon's comments, and not sure whether this appeal to authority is dispositive. As far as I can see you have not shown that it's "circular" to oppose aggression, and to oppose the state on those grounds.

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  38. OK let me try to explain my position on this vis-a-vis Gene and Stephan, since I seem to have upset both of you at this point. I am not going to go back and quote from previous posts; it is Christmas and I have much better ways of wasting time today. So I apologize in advance if the confusion comes from me.

    Stephan: The dumbed down version of the argument I thought went like this: Gene says, "This is a dumb argument libertarians use all the time against the State." Stephan says, "Whoa, now you're a statist Gene!!" Gene says, "You dolt I can criticize an argument without being a statist." Stephan says, "I never meant to suggest otherwise, Gene." Bob says, "Actually Stephan, it did sound like you were saying Gene was now a statist." Stephan, "Bob what is your deal? Now you're taking the statist Gene's side?!"


    Gene, you told someone (Brian?) that "most people" don't believe the State commits aggression. So I was trying to show you that most people cannot reconcile that belief with their other beliefs about property rights. Then you came back and said you don't care what most people believe, you care what Thomas Aquinas thinks.

    That's fine, I am not claiming to knock down Aquinas with such arguments. In fact at Hillsdale College I would use other techniques against statists who had very nuanced political views, informed by their Christianity. E.g. I would say, "Well hang on a second, you don't think Paul's epistles justified Saddam Hussein's regime, right? Saddam wasn't God's representative on earth, right?" And then it very quickly turned from a generic, "All government is OK" to, "A government is OK so long as it satisfies a list of secular attributes," which we quickly would see the US government did not.

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  39. If I'm getting this correctly, what you really meant, but neither said nor in any way alluded to (tho "Philip" alluded to it) in the original post or any of your responses to it until this one, is that the definition of aggression that Rothbard used and I alluded to in a quick sideways summation, since it involves the notion that it is aggression if someone assaults or takes via force or threat that which belongs to someone, that is, is someone's property; and that there is a conception of property beyond the basic Lockean one that Rothbard relies on in which the portion of your "property" the state takes via taxation is thus not really your property thus its not aggression to take it from you?
    Do wonder why it took you this long in this particular conversation to get to it, tho I suppose you just assumed everyone naturally would get it, and maybe its my shame that I didn't instantly realize that must be what you meant.
    And no, I don't think these arguments about property you are apparently relying on here are some knock-out to the notion that taxation is aggression, but at least now you've explained what you are talking about.
    Built into this theory of taxation is not aggression I assume is that the existing electoral system and tax bureaucracy always and only take exactly that portion of "our" property that ISN'T REALLY our property, which sounds to me like a pretty complicated question that I hope the taxation isn't aggression people have worked out very rigorously so I can't accuse them of "circular" reasoning in saying that, what the state taxes via taxation isn't yr property, BECAUSE it's the amount that the state has decided it should take. That seems to have built into it not only the notion that the state has some overarching right to SOME of what we think of as our property, but that we can trust/assume that the systems it creates to figure out this SOME are always correct. If not for that, it doesn't seem completely unfair to say that such arguments really depend on the notion, again not a totally disreputable one, that is hyperrealist---that is, that you have exactly those property rights that IN FACT you successfully defend by force, and the fact that the state CAN AND DOES take things from you proves that you really didn't have a property right in that at all.
    If you could point me to writers who have rigorously explained why THE PARTICULAR AMOUNTS the existing state happens to take are in fact exactly the legitimate amounts that are not really our property (for those who DON'T believe that the state owns all, we own nothing), I'd be interested in that. It seems to me quite respectable within the paradigm that the state has some legitimate claim on some of "our" resources to argue that not EVERYTHING the state chooses to take, and not EVERY action it chooses to take with it, are legitimate; for example, that the tax money for redistribution is OK; the tax money taken for overseas bombing, not OK, or vice versa. It seems to me there are a lot of very complicated questions about the reality of state action that are not addressed well by anything SHORT OF "you have no property, the state has it all, anything the state's existing systems decided to do with it legitimates our taking things from you."

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  40. Bob, you haven't upset me. I just think you are bending over backwards to appear to Gene that you are being equinanimous or whatever. I don't think criticizing a given argument in favor of liberty means you are a statist. But I do think that when Gene basically recants an earlier libertarian article, when he is nitpicking on the quite standard Rothbardian libertarian rationale for opposing the state, when he openly and repeatedly looks for things to mock and ridicule in Rothbard, as if he has now "moved beyond" this, it's quite reasonable to infer he is actually no longer an anarchist (if he ever was one), no longer a libertarian, and wants to show them why he is not an advocate of injustice, criminality, and aggression--why he is not wrong for having moved beyond them, but why they are wrong for having such simplistic standards and beliefs and values. Now, I may be wrong about this but I think it is a reasonable conclusion based on what Gene has said, and given his "unwillingness" to discuss it or even clarify or disagree.

    If his "political theory" book turns out to be some apologia for anarcho-libertarian rights, I'll be very happy. And surprised.

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  41. Brian4:18 PM

    I now see that the actual SUBSTANCE of this discussion is all happening in another blog with all the Hobbes references, so never mind the above; I was genuinely confused at to why Gene was making references to comments not in this thread and arguments not presented here. Suffice it to say, I don't think Hobbes arguments stand up, I think there IS a body of convincing work (that obviously hasn't convinced many) that no state is needed to prevent a war of all against all and I do think that the question of HOW MUCH the state can take is still interesting in this discussion (and that Hobbes answer is absurdly unsatisfying.) Sorry, Hobbes, but I am NOT at war with you just because you say so because I don't want to participate in paying certain people to do certain things; and also, the notion that a state can and will be restricted in its taxing powers to just the "maintain social peace" seems to me, while not circular, thank the lord, just crazily naive, and if that's what you are depending on to defend the justification for taxation, I think you need to start over. (Anarcho capitalists are often mocked in their justification with the idea that the world will certainly NOT work out the way they think it will if they had their political way. Hobbesians who believe a state will only tax and coerce exactly enough to maintain social peace seem in an even more difficult position.)

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  42. Brian wrote:

    I now see that the actual SUBSTANCE of this discussion is all happening in another blog with all the Hobbes references,

    I followed the link and if you think that has "actual SUBSTANCE" compared to what we're doing here... I am insulted. (I couldn't even find what you were talking about Brian. The first page involved some guy Morris, f-bombs, and Rothbard bashing.)

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  43. Bob---I'm talking about the post and comment thread of Gene's here:
    http://thinkmarkets.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/a-circular-argument-in-libertarian-reasoning/

    in which Gene actually tries to explain WHY he thinks the Rothbard argument is circular. Don't think it DOES explain it, but at least I understand what he's trying to say better after reading that. You see (I'm being snide), Hobbes said if you refuse to pay taxes voluntarily, you are at war with him, so he's justified in taking the taxes from you, and thus doing so is NOT aggression. I think there's an even deeper set of thought regarding how one justifies property to begin with underneath these circularity accusations, and I find that those "deep" arguments always come down to, YOU don't have a property right, but SOMEONE ELSE does, as long as he or she is acting in the name of or is a beneficiary of the state.
    I'm not sure what YOU are referring to, but now I'm curious...

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  44. scineram9:06 PM

    I still think the disagreement is more philosophical than circular reasoning. A better example would demand deposits being bailments I think.

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  45. "Gene, you told someone (Brian?) that "most people" don't believe the State commits aggression."

    Yes, but only because someone declared that most people do think it does!

    "So I was trying to show you that most people cannot reconcile that belief with their other beliefs about property rights."

    Yes, the average person has a whole mess of contradictory beliefs. If you get them to face this contradiction, I bet they give up their theory of property!

    "Then you came back and said you don't care what most people believe, you care what Thomas Aquinas thinks."

    Right. That's what I have always been interested in with this topic. I digressed about "most people" was that someone made a false claim about what they believe.

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