|Linz said: "If Rothbard were alive, he'd be a Saddamite, joining Chomsky in railing against US "imperialism." The anarchists argue that Rand would have been a Saddamite as well. Funny that."|
"Rothbardians, anarchists, Saddamites et al should leave poor Ayn alone & not try to enlist her to their cause - which they know she wouldn't join - when she's in no position to protest."
The quote above raises a very interesting question - one which I think deserves comment - even though it is outside the main theme of this thread.
I was acutely aware - leading up to the war on Iraq - that there was a philosophical rift appearing in the ranks of self-confessed Objectivists, and those who considered themselves aligned with Objectivism.
I was personally horrified at the prospect of war with Iraq, and saw it as a manifestation of the worst excesses of state power. I felt I was living in Orwell’s world - with my eyes and ears bombarded by the inanities of the "Ministry of Truth". I simply didn’t believe the words spewing forth from politicians’ mouths.
So, it was a great shock to find I was in the minority - amongst those who admire Ayn Rand and her philosophy - by being against this wretched war. I couldn’t understand how anyone, who claimed to share the same underlying philosophical convictions, could disagree about something as fundamental as the rightness or wrongness of the war on Iraq.
I spent a lot of time thinking this over - and examining the logical conclusions of my own presumed beliefs.
In the end, I was compelled to admit to myself that I am in fact an anarchist. This quite shocked me, as I had never explicitly thought so before - and certainly never acknowledged such to myself.
I also discovered I was virtually on my own - for, contrary to what Linz says above, I now firmly believe that Ayn Rand would have been a supporter of the war, like most of the people on this forum.
Like most of you, I was a committed supporter of the concept of constitutionally limited government - politically a "libertarian". It seemed obvious to me - and rational.
The Iraq war changed all that.
I saw an immovable contradiction in the fact that so-called Objectivists were in many cases on separate sides of the "war" fence. I was not content to let this lie as simply a matter of personal taste. To me it was an indication of something fundamental - and it needed explaining, at least to myself.
I think I know the answer.
I have come to the conclusion that Rand was wrong in her declared support for the minimal state.
The state is that entity which is supposed to have a monopoly on the use of defensive force in a geographically defined area. However, it cannot fulfil this role without also initiating force. For it must use such force to squash any pretenders to its throne - in the provision of so-called government services (even if citizens want such, and voluntarily organise amongst themselves to provide the same).
Consequently, there is no such thing as a state which doesn’t initiate force. The fact it has a monopoly on the legal use of force, simply leads it to abuse its monopoly position.
The very concept of a minimal state is flawed. It is an attempt to find a compromise between statism and voluntarism - between the "political" and "voluntary" means of social organisation.
And, as in any compromise between good and evil, it is always evil that wins.
Statism evil? Yes, absolutely. It is the belief that the best way to organise society is via the political process - which ultimately means "at the point of a gun".
If the US state didn’t have the power to tax its citizens (initiation of force) for the purposes of waging war - then I can confidently declare this ill-conceived war would not have proceeded.
If it had been left up to individual Americans to weigh up the evidence, and "vote with their pockets" by personally and voluntarily coughing up, or not, the billions of dollars needed - then I am convinced common sense would have seen the vast majority of Americans saying "no" - and using their money for something eminently more worthwhile.
To be in support of the war (financed at the point of a gun) is an admission that being a “minimal statist” is no protection against the virus of statism - which can only end up leading to full blown tyranny.
The great American experiment itself is proof of that. It started out, on paper, as a limited government - based on a recognition of the rights of the individual. A first in human history, and a marvellous achievement. But look how fast it has degenerated to statism and the consequent relentless abrogation of individual rights.
The America of today is a far cry from what the Founding Fathers envisaged.
Those who supported the war on Iraq were mesmerised by what the USA 'stood for" - historically - not what it has become. They have confused its founding principles and its people with the government - which is now a statist behemoth.
Not facing up to this fact, is simply running around with blinkers on.
I now realise that even a grain of statism will grow to a full grown tree - regardless of praiseworthy constitutions and good intentions. For within the "limited government" idea is the seed of corruption and downfall - the justification for the initiation of force. Sure, in small things at first, but forever expanding in scope and power.
The minimalist state will never happen, it can never survive. It is, by definition, impossible. Even if it was possible to start or vote for such a state, it would be doomed to ultimate failure and degenerate, over time, into an omnipotent state.
For any self-respecting individualist - the spectacle of the American people, being goaded into war via the most powerful propaganda the world has ever seen (and the most voracious global tax system in history), should be more than one can bare. But apparently it isn’t
It’s certainly more than I can bare.
I see the beast - and its essence is contained in that very first acceptance, for whatever reason, of the initiation of force.
Yes, I asked myself whether Ayn Rand would have supported this war. And I fervently wanted to believe that she would not have. But I now know she would. Her acceptance of it was already in place - by the acceptance of the idea of "limited" government.
So, the division between the pro-war and antiwar Objectivists and libertarians is best explained, in my opinion, by this issue of minimal state vs no state. The philosophical base of each position gives rise to a completely different reaction to the legitimacy, or otherwise, of the war on Iraq.
Anarchists and "closet" anarchists were and are against this war. Limited statists as well as "unlimited" statists are for it.
Check your premises.
As for me, I’m now an Anarchist - and proud of it.