Rebirth of Reason

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread

Post 0

Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 3:15pmSanction this postReply
Ayn Rand's definition of "government" (and the need for it) came from Max Weber.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Following Max Weber's influential definition, a state has a 'monopoly on legitimate violence'. Hence the state includes such institutions as the armed forces, civil service or state bureaucracy, courts, and police. For theorists of international relations, recognition of the state's claim to independence by other states, enabling it to enter into international engagements, is key to the establishment of its sovereignty.

Politics as a Vocation
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Politics as a Vocation (Politik als Beruf) is an 1918 essay written by Max Weber, a German economist and sociologist. The original edition was published in German, but various translations to English exist.

In this essay Weber states the definition of the state that has become so pivotal to Western social thought: that the state is that entity which claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force, which it may nonetheless elect to delegate as it sees fit. Politics is to be understood as any activity in which the state might engage itself in order to influence the relative distribution of force. Politics thus comes to obtain to power-based concepts, to be understood as deriving of power. A politician must also not be a man of the "true Christian ethic" (understood by Weber as being the "Ethic of the Sermon of the Mount" - that is to say, the heeding of the injunction to turn the other cheek). An adherent of such an ethic ought be understood to be a saint (for it is only a saint, according to Weber, that should find such an ethic a rewarding one). The political realm is no realm for saints. A politician ought marry the ethic of ultimate ends and the ethic of responsibility, and must possess both passion for his avocation and the capacity to distance himself from the subject of his exertions (the governed)

But don't trust the Wikipedia.  Here is what Max Weber said himself:

Der Staat ist, ebenso wie die ihm geschichtlich vorausgehenden politischen Verbände, ein auf das Mittel der legitimen (das heißt: als legitim angesehenen) Gewaltsamkeit gestütztes Herrschaftsverhältnis von Menschen über Menschen.

(Literally: The state is evenso as they it historically derived union one of the means of legitimization ( that is, the appearance of legitimacy) of violence  supported mastery relationship of people over people.
In other words: The state is just that historically derived association which is a means of legitized violence for the mastery and control of some people over others.)

Post 1

Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 3:46pmSanction this postReply
Why not look to John Locke for a definition of government?

As warden and master of the Royal Mint, Sir Isaac Newton had himself sworn as a magistrate so that he could investigate counterfeiters and bring them to justice.  The magistrate was the primary local law enforcement officer.  John Locke never saw a "policeman" in his life.  The first police force per se was the London Metropolitan Police Force of 1827.  

If having a "police force" is the sine qua non of government, then, this means that none of the American colonies became "states" until 1905.
The Pennsylvania State Police was created as an executive department of state government by legislation, Senate Bill 278, signed into law by Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker on May 2, 1905. The department became the first uniformed police organization of its kind in the United States and a model for other state police agencies throughout the nation.
The Texas Rangers trace their origin to 1835 -- but at that time, Texas was an independent republic.

If having a police force is one of the tests of governmentness, then the first American government qua government was the federal government of 1789, which  created its own "marshalls" as officers of the federal courts.
On September 24, President George Washington appointed the first 13 U.S. Marshals following the passage of the first Judiciary Act.
Section 28 of the Judiciary Act authorizes the U.S. marshal or deputy marshal to execute federal judicial writs and process. It also required sworn personnel and continuity in office. Such language was designed to give the U.S. marshals a wide latitude of powers and the authority to deputize. The direct connection to the federal court system indicated the early need to execute lawful precepts throughout the new nation.


Interestingly enough, from 1790 to 1870, it was the U.S. Marshals who were required by Congress to take the decennial national census.  How would you react today if a "policeman" came to your home demanding to know who lives there... and how many toilets you have ...

Boston (1844) New York (1834), and Philadelphia (1850) all claim to have the "first" city police forces, following the London model after 1827.  (It depends on whether you count "fulltime" or "any" time... and whether being disbanded and reformed loses a city its place in line...)  But, this means that before 1827, there was no such thing -- by definition -- as a "city government."

To John Locke -- as to Aristotle -- in a state of nature so-called "courts of law" were indistinguishable from "legislatures."  The body of people who came together to make their laws was identical with the body of people who enforced those laws.  To Locke, the branches of government were the legislature, the executive, and foreign affairs.  Locke and Aristotle both knew of citizen armies and mercenary armies.  Locke (but not Aristotle) knew a tradition of constables, wardens, and others, but, these were never perceived as independent (or "executive") offices.

If having an "army" is an necessary element of being a government (so-called) then, the United States had its police force (marshalls) but no army after 1789.  Threat of war with France in 1799 saw the raising of federal troops and they were quickly disbanded when the "Quasi-war" ended.

Post 2

Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 5:50pmSanction this postReply
Where do laws come from?

Ayn Rand was seldom (perhaps never) casual with words.  She said that government qua goverment requires police, including an army, and courts of law.   But where do laws come from?  Why did Ayn Rand not define government as "a legislature (including courts) and a police force (including an army)"? 

As I pointed out in another thread, in the wake of two scandals, British law in the 19th century was "bench-made law."  Basically, the only crime was "being bad."  A policeman hauled the bad person before a court and the judge decided what law had been broken.  This was preferable to trying to define every little thing and having people slip through the cracks on technicalities.  (Cited in The Limits of the Criminal Sanction by  Herbert L. Packer.)

Aristotle, Locke, and Marotta, all agree that the legislative branch is primary.  People come together to make laws for their common good.  Aristotle knew only "the assembly."  The citizens in assembly were both the legislature and the courts.  Smaller bodies were created from the larger for convenience, but ultimately, law was made and enforced by the same body.   

Further, John Locke said that the executive branch of government is necessary to enact and enforce laws in the absence of a sitting legislature.  To Locke's point of view, deriving government from a state of nature, the legislature meets only as needed to create laws.  When the legislature is adjourned, someone still has to be the government.  Thus, we have an executive.

Similarly, the foreign affairs element is an extension of the legislature, because bodies of people must come together for their mutual benefit.  Locke called this the "federative" branch of government. 

(As noted above, Locke said nothing about "police forces" because he never saw a policeman in his life -- though, obviously, he had seen governments... come and go...)

If, according to Ayn Rand, government consists of police (and the army) and courts of law, then, where do laws come from? Does this mean an advocacy of "bench-made law" as in Britain during the high-point of capitalism and individual rights?  Was it an oversight?

Is it possible that a consistent theory of objective government waits to be developed?

Post 3

Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 6:18pmSanction this postReply
"Military Might" 
 (as in "the military might be an occupying force within its own borders.")

Ayn Rand said that a government must have police forces (and an army) as well as courts of law.  I just finished reading the new biography of John Adams by David McCullough.  Adams felt that among his greatest accomplishments was the creation of the U.S. Navy.  As president, faced with a war with France, Adams called up a national army -- and then disbanded it when the threat subsided.  The United States kept its navy

When speaking perhaps too casually, Ayn Rand could have meant "navy" as being part of the "army."  There was no sense in splitting hairs.  In her lifetime she had seen the air plane invented, made a weapon of war, and then the Air Force (Luftwaffe) created as a separate military arm, co-equal with the army and navy.  In her prime, the U.S. Air Force lobbied Congress for money to create an orbiting platform.  This could have become the "space force" a separate branch of the military, though we would have to ask: from whom does a "space force" protect us?

Why get bogged down in senseless details?  Rand said -- in case the point was lost -- that the purpose of an army is to protect the citizens of a nation from invasion.  She may have been deeply affected by her Russian childhood.  Historically, in America, the navy protected us from invasion.  The purpose of the army was to kill Indians... who were unlikely to have invaded New York or even Denver by the time there was a Denver, which was (logically enough) after the army killed off enough Indians to make Denver possible.

One of the complaints about the proposed London Metropolitan Police Force was that in uniform it would be an occupying army.  (Without uniforms they would be "secret police" as in France and the German states: damned if you do; damned if you don't.)  The point is not accidental or trivial.  Generally speaking, city police departments in America became popular only after the Civil War.  After the Civil War, blue uniforms carried a positive message... except, perhaps, among native Americans...

At any rate, the U.S. Army had very little role in protecting America from invasion.  Historically, it was the navy.  It was the navy for the colonial founders of our republic who built and maintained both a navy and a separate "coast guard" though allowing the army to lapse into disuse.

Even today, do we need an "army" -- as opposed to a navy, air force or space command?  In whose care should ground troops be placed?  If the navy has its "marines," (including marine aviators)  would the "army" not, then, be part of the navy in a rational military?

Ayn Rand glossed over this.  She was not a military person.  Fortunately, Objectivism benefits from many people who do have military experience.  I am not sure that any of the so-called "leaders" of Objectivism, from whatever, school, magazine, or institute, has such experience.  Certainly, none has given the matter much rational throught. 

(Personally, believing as I do that violence is the last resort of the incompetent, I think that "rational thought" about the military is ontologically impossible, in the same set of arguments as "rational thought about God." But, I've been wrong before...)

Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 4

Thursday, August 3, 2006 - 5:18amSanction this postReply
The Inefficiency of ("Voluntary") Socialism

Ayn Rand suggested that government could be paid for with voluntary fees.  Corporations might pay a special service fee to have their contracts validated by courts.  A validated contract could be litigated in a government court, one that was not would need other (market) remedies.

When the police need more money for helicopters, do the courts raise their fees?

How is the money from the fees distributed to the judges, juries, and others.  And how does any of this civil jurisdiction money go to criminal prosecution?  On what basis is the county prosecutor (or public defender, community corrections, DARE and PAL) paid from these fees?

It is nice to say that government would be "limited" to police and courts, but do you realize what that means?  Government is measured by its consumables:  bullets, pencils, bottled water, ...  nuts, bolts, screws, nails, ...  carpet, paneling, ... floor wax, car wax, ....  business cards ... 

Who decides how the money from voluntary contract insurance is to be spent? 

Personally, as the guy buying the insurance, I expect it to be spent on my needs first.  I expect a water cooler in the courtroom, and scented towels in the mens room, and a shoeshine machine, too, while we're at it...  Hey, I pay my user fees!  I have a right to demand value! 

Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 5

Thursday, August 3, 2006 - 7:06amSanction this postReply
MM - having a good conversation with yourself?  Seriously though I do like a lot of your posts :)

The last one - I really think some flat, minimal tax is a necessity at some level.  I think that purely voluntary isn't likely to be practical for a long time to come.  Think about it though, most of us would be very happy with a 50% drop in taxes, and we could probably fund the essentials with 25% of what we spend now.  I think for a period of time the biggest budget item will remain the military - the world is still a dangerous place and until it gets more civilized we won't have a choice not to.

Post 6

Thursday, August 3, 2006 - 7:50amSanction this postReply
Der Staat ist, ebenso wie die ihm geschichtlich vorausgehenden politischen Verbände, ein auf das Mittel der legitimen (das heißt: als legitim angesehenen) Gewaltsamkeit gestütztes Herrschaftsverhältnis von Menschen über Menschen.

(Literally: The state is evenso as they it historically derived union one of the means of legitimization ( that is, the appearance of legitimacy) of violence supported mastery relationship of people over people.
In other words: The state is just that historically derived association which is a means of legitized violence for the mastery and control of some people over others.)
A more accurate translation would be:

The state is, like the political associations that historically preceded it, a power structure of people over people, based on the legitimate (i.e. as legitimate perceived) use of violence.
(Edited by Calopteryx Splendens
on 8/03, 7:53am)

Post to this thread

User ID Password or create a free account.