Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What constitutes membership in the State?

George Smith is back with Part 3 of his essay The Ethics of Voting. In this issue he begins to enter into the moral aspects of being involved with government. Here is a summary of what he’s doing in Part 3:
“I shall now explore how institutional analysis applies specifically to the State and to offices in the State. Then I shall move from institutional analysis considered descriptively to the normative” or moral implications of institutional analysis. To what extent are those individuals who work within an association morally and/or legally responsible for the institutional products of that association? This thorny area is undoubtedly the most complex and controversial aspect of the institutional analysis, yet it must be addressed if the moral implications of electoral voting are to be flushed out. Anarchist theory will never advance beyond a rudimentary level so long as this issue remains unresolved.”
Smith first discusses the institutional purpose of the State. Smith says minarchists maintain that the purpose is the “defense of individual rights” while anarchists think the real purpose is “territorial sovereignty.” Anarchists claim that “defense of individual rights” is just something that became necessary in order to legitimize the true purpose of territorial rule.

For me, this is just simple logic because if I can’t freely opt out of the State’s rule, then my rights are certainly not being protected. It’s impossible to say you are defending individual rights if you take away individual rights to do so. So if the purpose really isn’t territorial rule then I could opt out, just like I can opt out of any other institution if I do not wish to associate with it.

The rest of this third part moves further into the issue of what constitutes membership in the State and how membership promotes and sustains the purpose of the institution, even with no overt aggressive act on the part of the individual member.

If I’m a member of some institution or association, I get certain privileges and powers that those outside of the institution don’t have. Anyone who holds political office gets privileges and powers others don’t have, so they are obviously members of the State.

Unfortunately, this membership gives the office holder the power to fill the territory under his rule with loads of laws that we don’t really need.

Which is kind of how some people use their membership in Sam’s Club – by filling their house with way too much stuff that they don’t really need.

Of course, the politician is in a completely different category. As George says:
Such a person is a dangerous threat to innocent persons everywhere. Not only has he captured a position of immense power, but he also swears an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and accepts payment (i.e., stolen money) for "services rendered." When a person voluntarily seeks and attains invasive power, swears to enforce the rules that maintain his power, and receives a handsome salary to boot, the conclusion is inescapable: this person has become a full-fledged member of the State. He accepts its privileges, pledges his loyalty, and reaps its rewards. The protest of the libertarian office-holder — that he intends to use his power for beneficent ends — is beside the point. His actions speak louder than words. He has joined the "ruling class."
He goes on to discuss the issue of liability again and how political office supports State sovereignty. You can read more about the specifics for yourself but let me close with one more quote from part three:
The guardianship of State sovereignty is the most significant institutional role of high offices. They are designed to preserve and promote that sovereignty; and this purpose is served regardless of who occupies the office, so long as the occupant meets the demands of his job. (See the discussion of the auto worker in Part Two.)

12 comments:

brother said...

Hi Debbbie,

You wrote: "...if the purpose really isn’t territorial rule then I could opt out, just like I can opt out of any other institution if I do not wish to associate with it."

What makes you think individual secession is not possible? Of course, if you "opt out" you will have to give up the "privileges and powers" of membership, but that only makes it inconvenient not impossible.

"Submission to Authority is always and everywhere voluntary" ~ Rose Wilder Lane


"If I’m a member of some institution or association, I get certain privileges and powers that those outside of the institution don’t have. Anyone who holds political office gets privileges and powers others don’t have, so they are obviously members of the State."

You are a member of the State, and the "political office" you hold is that of "citizen". A government cannot exist without citizens.

Debbie H. said...

I completely agree Brother.

However, when I opt out of other institutions, no one comes after me with a gun, so can you tell us more about individual secession?

brother said...

"However, when I opt out of other institutions, no one comes after me with a gun..."

No one will come after you with a gun, well, not for the act of individual secession anyway, because it is not a crime. That is not to say that you won't be, or at least feel, persecuted for it.

"The United States has no specific law on secession..." http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Secession

"...so can you tell us more about individual secession?"

First, have you ever seen the legal definition of secession? It's one of the shortest, simplest definitions in Black's Law Dictionary.

Secession. The act of withdrawing from membership in a group. ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 1351

It is "the formal withdrawal from an organization".

brother said...

Debbie, if you haven't read The Right to Ignore the State by Herbert Spencer, you may find it useful.

The Right To Ignore the State

Debbie H. said...

Thanks for the additional information brother. But I'm still not sure I understand about secession. What sort of formal action have you taken to individually secede?

brother said...

You are very welcome, Debbie. My history of individual secession began about eleven years ago, and because I had virtually no one to follow, my path was an unnecessarily long and winding road of trial and error, one that, in 20/20/hindsight, should have been short and straight. As a consequence, I now feel, to tell anyone exactly how I did it would serve little to no constructive purpose; it would only muddy the waters. Suffice it to say there is no government "form" to fill out since one is not seeking "permission" to withdraw from membership in [the] political community, (as individual secessionists we are still very much a part of the natural community).

In order to secede, one need only create and serve, (preferably with proof of receipt), a "formal notice of secession".

I now believe that the safest and surest form is one loosely based on the formal notice of secession used by the original thirteen colonies, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America. I believe this because in order for the United States, (and it's subsidiary governments), to not "legally recognize" this formal notice of secession it would simultaneously be refusing to "legally recognize" its own formal notice of secession, which would be tantamount to denying its own legal existence.

But, obviously, before deciding to embark on such an adventure, one should seriously consider all(?) of the repercussions of such a life-changing decision. As Herbert Spencer wrote near the end of that excerpt I posted earlier, "A sharp experience will sufficiently instruct those who may too soon abandon legal protection."

brother said...

What choices does the individual have?
1. Maintain the status quo.
2. Attempt to change the system from within by voting, running for office, etc.
3. Attempt to change the system by not voting, not running for office, etc.
4. Convince a majority of your fellow citizens to join you in “altering or to abolishing” the government.
5. Use passive resistance and noncooperation to try to change the system.
6. Rebel. (“Subjects may rebel by an open renunciation of the authority of the government, without taking arms; but ordinarily, rebellion is accompanied by resistance in arms.” Source: Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language)
7. Expatriate, i.e. renounce and leave your homeland.
8. Secede, i.e. withdraw from membership in the state.

Can you think of any others, Debbie?

brother said...
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brother said...

Sample:
Declaration of Independence
Formal Notice of Secession


Secession. The act of withdrawing from membership in a group. ~ Black’s Law Dictionary, Abridged Sixth Edition, copyright 1991, page 940

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for a man to dissolve the bands which have connected him with a body politic, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Law of Nature and Nature’s God entitle him, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that he should declare the cause(s) which impel him to the separation.
″We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that [is to say] they are endowed by their Creator with certain Inalienable Rights″[1], rights which can never be abridged because they are so fundamental[2], that among these natural rights[3] are Life, Liberty, and justly acquired Property, and that "no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions". To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men[4], deriving their just powers from the Consent of the governed, – and whenever any Government becomes destructive of these Inalienable Rights, every man has the Lawful Authority to Withdraw his Consent, and to return to the separate and equal station to which the Law of Nature[5] and Nature’s God entitles him. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be Seceded from for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that men are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by Withdrawing from the governments to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to Secede from such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of this Man; and such is now the necessity that constrains this Man to Secede from this Government. The history of the United States Government, rather than securing, has a record of repeated injuries to, and usurpation of, Man’s Inalienable Rights, all having as their direct objective the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over men.

brother said...
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brother said...

I, [Given Name] therefore, being a Lawful Man, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of my intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the Creator of the heavens, the earth and the seas, and all that in them is, solemnly publish and declare, this Man is, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent, that he is Absolved from all Allegiance to the United States, and any and all States under the authority of the United States, and that all political connection between him and the aforementioned States, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as a Free and Independent Man, I have full Power to Arm and Protect Myself, my Loved Ones, and my justly acquired Possessions, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Trade, Possess Land, Travel Freely and to do all other Acts and Things which Free and Independent Men may of natural right do.

Given Name [in Upper and lower case]: ________________________________________ Seal:

First Witness: _____________________________________________

Second Witness: _____________________________________________

1 Excerpted from: The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
2 Black’s Law Dictionary, Abridged Sixth Edition, copyright 1991, page 1057
3 "Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can." ~ Samuel Adams
4 “Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights . . . and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him . . . and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right.” ~ Thomas Jefferson (c.1816), author of the American Declaration of Independence
5 The law of nature is superior in obligation to any other. It is binding in all countries and at all times. No human laws are valid if opposed to this, and all which are binding derive their authority either directly or indirectly from it. - Institutes of American Law by John Bouvier, 1851, Part I, Title II, No. 9

brother said...

I understand.