I said, "The government has the right to self-defense that is delegated to it by the people."
You replied, "Governments don't have rights. Only individuals have rights. Governments have powers, allegedly granted to them by the alleged consent of the subjects they claim the power to rule. And governments aren't some disembodied thing, they are composed of individuals who each assert they have various powers over other individuals, and use other individuals to coerce obedience to their commands."
The government does have rights. It has legal rights, and it has moral rights. You need to be more specific, in which case you might have said that the government has no moral rights but for those it gets from individuals. And the individuals cannot give it moral rights that they don't have. They can delegate those that they do have.
Here is Rand on the subject: "The source of the government’s authority is “the consent of the governed.” This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government as such has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose." From
“The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, pg. 110 (via the online Lexicon) [emphasis mine]
You said, "The right to self-defense is an individual right. If some random person walks up to me and claims that they have the power to enforce that right of self-defense for me, and demands cash for this "service" they offer, and are vague about how they intend to go about enforcing that power they claim to have, and don't bother to ask me if I agree with all these assertions, am I obligated to accept this offer whether I like it or not?"
Look through my past posts and see how many times I put "voluntary funding" and "minarchy" in the same sentence. As to the part about the vagueness, please note that I have also specified "objective laws based upon individual rights" in many of my posts. To be objective, a law cannot be vague. I should not have to refute things I never said. You waste people's time when so much of your argument is pure strawman. Again, the important work of a proper government is creating and maintaining the structures that support property rights. Courts, police, laws, patent office, etc. These need to be stable, workable, and trusted to exist over time. As to the anarchist who whines that they don't like it... well, I'm not feeling any sympathy and I see nothing but disaster in their formulations, and fallacies in their arguments.
I exhausted my patience. Anarchists should be required to post their anarchy nonsense in Dissent. You can't be an anarchist and an Objectivist.
It feels like a total waste of time arguing. One key argument is NEVER answered: If there is no monopoly on laws that prohibits the initiation of force, then there will be no FREE market (free of force). If there is no free market, then the structures of justice that anarchists claim will arise out of natural competition will never arise - instead there will be competition that involves force. This is what history, logic and common sense all tell us. Anarchy will always be a chaotic, bloody mess that devolves till naked force rules in nearly all situations. It will be replaced by a totalitarian government, which is nothing more than one of the warring factions becoming so powerful that they enforce their edicts against all within their area. Movement from that level of tyranny to what we have seen among nations in the last few centuries is the recognition of individual rights - one by one. The end goal is minarchy. Without that government monopoly on an objective set of laws that are based upon individual rights, mans rights are not secure and he cannot flourish.
=========Ayn Rand on "Anarchy"
"Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction: . . . a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare. But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government." Taken from “The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, page 112 (via the online Lexicon)
=========Ayn Rand on "Competing Governments"
From the same page: "A recent variant of anarchistic theory, which is befuddling some of the younger advocates of freedom, is a weird absurdity called “competing governments.” Accepting the basic premise of the modern statists—who see no difference between the functions of government and the functions of industry, between force and production, and who advocate government ownership of business—the proponents of “competing governments” take the other side of the same coin and declare that since competition is so beneficial to business, it should also be applied to government. Instead of a single, monopolistic government, they declare, there should be a number of different governments in the same geographical area, competing for the allegiance of individual citizens, with every citizen free to “shop” and to patronize whatever government he chooses.
Remember that forcible restraint of men is the only service a government has to offer. Ask yourself what a competition in forcible restraint would have to mean.
One cannot call this theory a contradiction in terms, since it is obviously devoid of any understanding of the terms “competition” and “government.” Nor can one call it a floating abstraction, since it is devoid of any contact with or reference to reality and cannot be concretized at all, not even roughly or approximately. One illustration will be sufficient: suppose Mr. Smith, a customer of Government A, suspects that his next-door neighbor, Mr. Jones, a customer of Government B, has robbed him; a squad of Police A proceeds to Mr. Jones’ house and is met at the door by a squad of Police B, who declare that they do not accept the validity of Mr. Smith’s complaint and do not recognize the authority of Government A. What happens then? You take it from there."