Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Panarchy and Natural Rights

Interestingly enough, the atheist Ayn Rand upheld the notion of "natural rights," as did the agnostic Murray Rothbard. In *Natural Law: or don't put a rubber on your willy*, the self-professed "model agnostic" Robert Anton Wilson took them both to task. He denied the existence of "in-dwelling essences."

Though I use the concept myself, and otherwise regard Rothbard as a libertarian theorist without peer, I believe Wilson is correct. There is no empirical and little axiomatic-deductive basis to rights. To invoke them is to enter the realm of values, which is to say, metaphysics.

I invoke them nonetheless. I find it well nigh impossible to discuss political philosophy without reference to a handful of transcendent givens. Truth, justice, honor, fair play and ethics all come down to questions of ultimacy or--dare I use the word?--theology. It may be God doesn't exist. It may be the Big Questions have no answers. I prefer to act as if He does and they do.

Paul Bonneau himself seems to give a nod to metaphysics even after dissing them: "I am not suggesting that alternative politics are equally correct, equally fair or decent. I think anarcho-capitalism is superior to all the others." Is this statement not a value judgment? (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)

He hastens to add, "It's just that I'm unwilling to impose it." As am I. Indeed, my value system strictly forbids the initiation of violence or threats of violence for any reason--even in the interests of advancing my value system.

That's why panarchy does work. In the absence of government, we are not inclined to impose our value systems on others.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

St. Augustine the Anarchist

To paraphrase Rothbard, it is no crime to be ignorant of history and religion, both of which are specialized and even dismal disciplines. But it is totally irresponsible to have loud and vociferous opinions on such subjects while remaining in a state of ignorance.

Those Christians who evaded the gallows, guillotines and gulags in, e.g., Revolutionary France and Soviet Russia, would have had a hearty laugh at your bald assertion Christians are more apt to support the State than are atheists. Count me among the guffawing benighted.

I submit the following for your rumination. WARNING: THIS PASSAGE WILL BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR DOGMA.

"Without justice, what are kingdoms but great robber bands? What are robber bands but small kingdoms? The band is itself made up of men, is ruled by the command of a leader, and is held together by a social pact. Plunder is divided in accordance with an agreed upon law. If this evil increases by the inclusion of dissolute men to the extent that it takes over territory, establishes headquarters, occupies cities, and subdues peoples, it publicly assumes the title of kingdom!

"A fitting and true response was once given to Alexander the Great by an apprehended pirate. When asked by the king what he thought he was doing by infesting the sea, he replied with noble insolence, 'What do you think you are doing by infesting the whole world? Because I do it with one puny boat, I am called a pirate; because you do it with a great fleet, you are called an emperor.'"

This unholy screed comes from the pen (they didn't have computers back then) of St. Augustine of Hippo, from The City of God, written between 413 A.D. and 426 A.D., at the height of the Roman Empire and well after Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 A.D. At this point, presumably, the Whore of Babylon had grown to a large enough size to get incorporated into government, or spawn government, or become one with government, or whatever it is the black legends claim as this evil institution's legacy.

N.B., St. Augustine is one of the four original Doctors of the Church. The Church holds him in high regard for his contributions to her philosophy and theology. Odd, is it not, for such a State-loving institution to bequeath so lofty a title to such a bloody anarchist?