Personal contract as an alternative to social contract
September 18, 2008 at 1:28 am #3848
Interesting points about the low incidence of crime in Switzerland. I suppose there is a socio-cultural factor at play too.
About private police and justice, most likely we’ll have to try it out in practice and see which balance between point serves our goals best.September 18, 2008 at 6:33 am #3849
A hand on the shoulder is an appropriate level of defensive force in response to your initiation of force by trying to leave without paying. Leaving without paying for services rendered is a form of force, ie., theft.
I’d suggest the concepts are fairly clear and obvious if thought through.September 18, 2008 at 8:47 am #3850
The culture of defense and individual responsibility in Switzerland may help create peaceful interactions. The factors are probably related. Switzerland has been peaceful and sovereign and highly armed for many centuries. The different Swiss cantons have had language, religious and legal differences with other cantons for many centuries, but they found ways to get along internally and also to prevent external aggression: a minimal central government that respects differences between different cultures, languages, religions, and an agreement to collectively fight against invasions, relatively minimal taxes, etc. It’s proven to be a good model, even if modern Swiss are unwisely starting to throw it away in the name of internationalism.
Switzerland has a functionally universal militia with every adult male armed and trained with a fully-automatic rifle which they keep at home along with ammunition, artillery positions throughout the countryside aimed at major mountain passes, bridges, tunnels, etc., which invaders would use, a modern, highly-trained airforce, and a permanent professional officer corps. In short they have a credible defense which is provided by every individual (male). They are prepared to defend their country. As a result, they haven’t been successfully invaded in centuries.September 18, 2008 at 9:23 am #3851
Theft is theft, not a form of force. It just isnt.
By using the word ‘appropriate’ you have implicitly agreed it is indeed a matter of opinion. Why bother with the rigid axioms if they have to be subjectively interpreted anyway?September 18, 2008 at 4:38 pm #3856
Please don’t use the term “natural law” as it technically makes no sense (law is man-made). It’s really “natural right” and it is incompatible with the very notion of “law” in its political sense. And now that this nit is picked let’s see more in detail what I mean.
Imagine for a second that Police, government, courts, prisons and state troops have just vanished from existence forever. Would you yet seize this occasion and go on a looting, murdering, raping and assaulting spree ? “No” ? Well, natural right is this ‘no’.
Everyone shares universal notion of what they consider good and bad, as with suffering being considered bad: even masochists don’t consider suffering to be good in itself, and that’s why the practice of ‘safeword’ emerged spontaneously among them (this is an exemple of unsuspected natural right put into practice). Lying, stealing, maiming, murdering, etc. are universally rejected by everyone. That’s why all the cultures and civilisations in this world all “pull” in the same direction determined by our nature and share equivalent notions of right and wrong, as pointed out by many anthropologists and historians (on this P. Simon cites C. Renfrew, J. Haudry, P. Simonnot, G. Berthu and L. Lévy-Bruhl, I would also include P. Hill and T. Anderson). Simply put there are things we can’t do (or make others do) in good conscience out of our own judgement, things we can’t reasonably conclude to be just, which are the same for everyone because of what these things objectively are, and of what we ourselves objectively are. The thief denying your property right demonstrates his bad faith in trying to hide or keep the loot. The murderer denying your right to your life proves his bad conscience in covering his track or resisting those who’d judge or kill him too.
Natural right arises from the fact that you don’t need to be coerced into doing what you think is right (I’m not ignoring willfull wrong-doing, see just below), so natural right is simply a repository of all the past and present decisions of everyone regarding what ought to be done as told by what they actually did, making it into the sum of everyone’s own free judgement. Because it’s not enforced but followed, it does not need authority and the use of force is limited to counteracting intented wrong-doing (which would require defrauding or use of force anyway).
For example, in the domain of international maritime commerce, there exists no “top authority” for enforcing arbitrary edicted rights. Business is done outside of pretty much any common legislation, and contracts fall outside of the clauses of any positive right. In this situation, it is natural right that applies, and from it arises things such as guarantees on delivery times with prorate penalties, responsibility of the client for damage done to the ship by his cargo, etc. Same goes in the extensive extralegal domain that covers a VERY large part of third-world countries’ economies in which a very sizeable part of all business is conducted, and in which such self-establishing rights are followed – for example indonesians have the name “Jukum Adat” for it, it means “people’s right”. Even in our countries you can find whole banks working in complete clandestinity, outside of the state’s jurisdiction and authority, yet protecting your assets and respecting your contracts.
Natural right isn’t “made” as much as it is practiced, like with the “safeword” example. It arises out of your own judgement. For example by realising that you have entered an agreement for a good reason and that you wouldn’t find it just that others’ obligations towards you are not repected, you conclude it is more just to respect your own contractual obligations. In other words the underlying principle that can be given for natural right is that a rule may be just only if it is universal and applicable indiscriminately (because right covers interaction between multiple potentially-interchangeable parties, there must be equality of all parties regarding the rules of this interaction). This formalized principle (don’t do to others what you wouldn’t have them do to you, this is in essence the well-known golden rule) was identified by Kant initially, but it was already practiced and known universally, as you can find it in pretty much every religion and on all continents (the Mahabharata, hebrew texts, works of Confucius and Lao Tsu, the Sutta Siglo-Vada, Arjan Devji’s teachings, the Baha’u'lla tablets, etc… they all include it and this list is far from exhaustive).
In the natural right view there is always an error being made in all wrong-doing. If it is an error of perception or interpretation of what is expected to be good, if something bad is done in good conscience against someone else who doesn’t consider it good, then interpretation or perception can and should be corrected: this is the base function of the judge, to exercise judgement and discover what is the proper way in this situation. Because the deed was done in good conscience then there undoubtedly is also intent to correct it given the collected facts, statements and explanations (note that in many cases judgement can be exercised by just the parties involved, directly – that’s “out of court settlement” ; there is a need for a third-party recognized as impartial only if anyone involved thinks it necessary). As for cases of bad conscience (errors in judgement), people who intently violate right place themselves outside of its protection. They have to choose between changing their ways and correcting the torts they caused by recognizing natural right, or stay “banished” from it.
There is no such a thing as “law” in natural right, because its prescriptions are not imperative, and the very notion of some interaction being not covered by defined rights (legal void) is meaningless because you every situation has rights that are just up for discovery and we either know about them (even imperfectly) or we don’t. There is no tie to a specific authority (natural right being universal it cannot incorporate sovereignty of one over another), and no legislative process either because there’s no law to make. Natural right stands as a living construction that everyone participates in creating through his or her own choices in good conscience, guiding those who will come after us by the manifest justice of its conclusions instead of constraining them.
I am not constrained by natural right, my interactions with others are covered only by the part of it that we unanimously and commonly recognize. Or in simpler words: Do it if you think if it is right, and don’t otherwise ; similarly don’t do anything to others that they don’t accept as right as well ; and when in doubt you may seek professional advice.September 18, 2008 at 8:37 pm #3858
In fairness Switzerland has very hard terrain for invaders and no real natural resources to speak of, as as far as I know. And it´s a pretty small country. But I agree that their defense philosophy has been a very effective deterrent.
And it is indeed very sad that they seem bent on screwing all that up now. They joined the UN in 2002… Basically they are going down the toilet with the rest of us EUro Trash.
Oh well, maybe this will mean more potential seasteaders .September 19, 2008 at 2:31 am #3862
If yu define theft as a form of force initiation, you put yourself in the bizarre and logically convoluted position of accusing someone of committing aggression by running away. Best to reserve the right to initiate force under some circumstances.September 19, 2008 at 5:01 am #3865
Theft is a form of force initiation. This is well-established under anarchocapitalist theory.September 19, 2008 at 7:49 am #3869
The hard terrain and smallness and lack of obvious resources didn’t stop many wars to be waged on the Swiss, the biggest I know of being waged against them by France, the largest and most powerful of all the western countries at the time (they occupied the country for over a century).
I have a few friends in Switzerland and they all lament their federal government’s attempts to crawl their way into the EU by forfeiting many of their long-standing practices and rights. There were attacks on gun rights last year and this year, bank secrecy is fading away. But the one thing I welcome is the much easier stay-and-work conditions (visas no more required for europeans, only a work permit).September 19, 2008 at 8:24 am #3866
I’d welcome Swiss refugees who still value freedom and sovereignty and who are prepared to defend it.September 19, 2008 at 9:10 am #3871
You’re right, I forgot about Napoleon. But the Swiss republic outlasted Napoleon.September 20, 2008 at 8:49 am #3874
From yesterday’s Patri’s links: explicit social contracting was the basis for… pirate societies !September 20, 2008 at 12:59 pm #3880
Property is a form of theft. This is well-established under anarcho-socialist theory.
But i am equally unimpressed by that.
In case it got lost in the details: id like to emphasize that we seem to agree 95%. Thanks for your interesting input.September 21, 2008 at 6:28 am #3881
Which is why I’m not an anarcho-socialist. Property is something you can trade part of your life/work/time for. As long as property is acquired without force or fraud, it can’t be theft. Contrast that with taxes, which are acquired by force or the threat of force. Am I saying that anarcho-socialism is inconsistent? Sure looks that way.September 21, 2008 at 7:16 am #3876
Yes, some pirates had simple, specific, explicit contracts governing behavior. The contracts were entered into freely and openly. Some of the contracts included elements like revenue sharing, insuramce, etc. In essence they had self-government; order without an externally-imposed government.
“Social contract” has become a specific term meaning an implicit contract with the whole society one is in, but which is unwritten and to which no one explicitly agrees. If so, then it would seem to be an oxymoron to use the term “explicit social contract”. A contract that is explicit can’t be a social contract under that definition, though it may describe a relationship with the collective.
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