|Michael Marotta wrote: |
Steve Wolfer's claim that force is allowed by anyone and everyone in pursuit or defense of rights is not at all Ayn Rand's own expressed viewpoint. In her interview with Henry Mark Holzer, she said that the Roman Empire had objective law. Latterday Objectivists disagree with that, claiming that objective law can only be founded on a correct understanding of rights which Roman law often lacked. Two points: First, anyone and everyone DOES HAVE the right to use force in defense of their individual rights and contrary to what Marotta thinks, that is in agreement with Ayn Rand's views. (If he makes up a straw-man argument saying I advocate shooting at the police for something like attempting to enforce a blue law, then he shouldn't be taken seriously since the context of recent posts did not require that I address such specifics. And clearly, not addressing those does not make me an advocate of "stealth anarchism.")
She wrote: "The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative." [Ayn Rand, page 108, The Virtue of Selfishness.]
She has never written anything that denies the individual the right to use force to defend themselves while under attack - that is NOT part of the monopoly on the use of RETALIATORY force that is granted to government.
Second, perhaps Mr. Marotta is conflating "objective law" with "law based upon Objectivist principles". Objective law is law that is written and that describes acts in an unambiguous fashion so as to permit a uniform and consistent interpretation. This is "objective" being used NOT in reference to the philosophy created by Ayn Rand, but as an adjective in an epistemological context and in opposition to "subjective." In the realm of law, "objective" is without regard to the founding principles under a particular law. Objective law can be (and has been) written to support altruistic/collectivist principles. For example, there is now a law in NY city that prevents a business from selling soft drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces, which violates the individual rights, of those who would like to sell larger drinks, but that is, none-the-less, objective law (written, unambiguous, clear and specifies the specific consequences, etc.)
I have always taken the position that a government must be based upon objective law AND that such law be derived from individual rights - those are two separate requirements.
(Mr. Marotta needs to do more than refer to "latterday Objectivists" whatever those are, as an authority or explanation of his position.)
Ayn Rand was very clear regarding Law, Objective and Non-Objective. That link contains extensive quotes of hers regarding objective law. Here are but two:
"All laws must be objective (and objectively justifiable): men must know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it." Ayn Rand, The Nature of Government, page 110, The Virtue of Selfishness.
And from the same essay, page 109, "A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws."
She states that the RETALIATORY use of force requires objective laws, rules of evidence, rules defining enforcement procedures, and punishment. She states that without these we will fail in barring the use of force from social relationships and that this is the task of a proper government. This is how you create an enviroment that most favors voluntary association based upon individual rights. I put retaliatory in upper case because it does not always mean the same as the immediate exercise of self-defense during an attack on ones rights. If a person is attacked by a mugger, there may not be a government agent close enough to be of help in defense, but the government agencies can none-the-less act much later in time to convict and punish the mugger - an exercise in retaliatory use of force that is not needed to defend a right at the time it is threatened.
I find myself in complete agreement with what Rand has written in this area and so I don't understand Marotta's objections are to what I've written and I can only conclude that he misunderstands what I've written.
Perhaps he confuses moral rights with legal rights. Non-self-defense, retaliatory use of force might be moral, yet still be illegal under a system of laws that Ayn Rand and I would agree with. It is a practical matter that the state be given a monopoly on the use of non-self-defense, retaliatory force but that doesn't mean that it would be immoral for a person to kill someone who, say, raped and murdered their child, but was not convicted because of a lack of evidence.