Saturday, 10 January 2009

Libertarians advise:

This thread is not for me to ramble, but for others to give some advice.

Over at Charlotte Gore's place you can often find a lively and serious level of discussion from the anti-statist/anti-collectivist camp.

Now, there are a number of questions that their comments raise in my mind and I'd like to see if they can settle some answers.

1.
Is state power a necessary evil? Must the use of power result in necessarily evil outcomes?

2.
What is 'envy politics'? Is it envy which forces 'have nots' to pay their bills? Or is envy what you get because people can't pay their bills? Isn't this just code to stigmatise any form of interventionist redistribution?

3.
If it is impossible to consider making any alliance with anyone with 'statist' sympathies, how can they consider engaging the machinery of state from a position of government? What are the minimum limits of government?

4.
Is it a realistic ambition for the Libertarian party to win MPs within a decade and be in government within two decades, when the current membership is less than that required to form a full list of candidates for parliament?

5.
Who are the Libertarian party (LPUK)? What are the names of their leading spokespeople? What policies can one expect from a LPUK manifesto? What track record of delivery/implementation and holding to account have they got?

Anyway, Charlotte also writes of creating a linked network of discussion thread where digressions and new lines of inquiry can be explored.

I hope the above 5 points are enough get a response started... now it's over to you.

39 comments:

IanPJ said...

Let try to answer your questions one at a time.

1.
Is state power a necessary evil? Must the use of power result in necessarily evil outcomes?

The State is, its power is not. If the State wishes to use its 'power' then the outcome will usually be in the interests of the state, not of the citizenry.

2.
What is 'envy politics'? Is it envy which forces 'have nots' to pay their bills? Or is envy what you get because people can't pay their bills? Isn't this just code to stigmatise any form of interventionist redistribution?

I dont know, what is 'envy politics'. It is not something that Libertarians generally think about. People in today's UK cannot pay bills because the State has overloaded the level of paying that those at the bottom of the earnings brackets have to bear. The 'redistribution' experiment using state power and corporate extortion schemes (such as congestion charges, FPN's and Bin Taxes to name but 3) has so far in the last 10 years concentrated 85% of the wealth of the nation in the hands of less than 10%. This is not what I would call either envy nor redistribution. It is closer aligned to racketeering.
Both are anathema to Libertarians, and any form of 'redistribution' should be undertaken voluntarily, using charitable vehicles to do so, not using the Power of the State. The State could if it so wished be far more benign and reduce the debt burden to its citizens, but it chooses not to, expecting those who can least afford it to continue to pay for the continued growth and size of the State machine. The LibDems in particular wish to see income tax cuts, but would replace them by green taxes which only adds to the burden.

3.
If it is impossible to consider making any alliance with anyone with 'statist' sympathies, how can they consider engaging the machinery of state from a position of government? What are the minimum limits of government?

As a Party, the Libertarians (LPUK) have made a decision not to compromise with the clearly statist aims of those organisations who have troubled themselves to contact us in a collaborative mode. We have our stated aims and policies, we will not swing in the wind as the LibDems do, but remain true to our meaning.

Engaging the machinery of state is clearly another question and should not be conflated with the first. Whilst the Labour Party have tried to integrate Party and State to become one, it must be remembered that The State machinery is a delivery mechanism, not a policy decider and as such should be available in a neutral form to whichever Party is elected by the voters.

4.
Is it a realistic ambition for the Libertarian party to win MPs within a decade and be in government within two decades, when the current membership is less than that required to form a full list of candidates for parliament?

Yes is the simple answer to that. We are currently running a very successful PPC campaign, with some very surprising results I may add. The fact that we do not brag or continually publish our figures we know to be particularly bothersome for the LibDems who are unsure of our strengths or weakness in this area. Election day will be our proving ground.

5.
Who are the Libertarian party (LPUK)? What are the names of their leading spokespeople? What policies can one expect from a LPUK manifesto? What track record of delivery/implementation and holding to account have they got?

You can find the Leadership list on our website. http://lpuk.org/pages/libertarian-party/leadership.php
You can find our Manifesto on our website listed by policy area http://lpuk.org/pages/manifesto.php

Our track record in terms of delivery/implementation would be relatively similar to the LibDems, None.
I don't recall the last time that there was a LibDem minister who had office to deliver or implement policy, and whilst they may have MP's and be closer to the current Westminster theatre, they deliver nothing and implement nothing.

I hope that this gives you ample to build on with this thread.

Ian Parker-Joseph

narayanan said...

The post and the comment were very interesting and threw light on many of my questions. thanks, nosle.com todd

davidncl said...

As David Friedman once said "somewhere there are two libertarians who agree on something, but I am not one of them". I am not a member of the LPUK and know very little about them.

1.
Is state power a necessary evil? Must the use of power result in necessarily evil outcomes?



No. The state is not necessary. Just as other goods like shoes, insurance and education are produced and delivered more effectively (that is at higher quality and at lower cost) by free individuals co-operating in voluntary exchanges so to can legal systems, judicial machinery or defence agencies (firepower, Ltd).

[
The earliest manifestation of this line of thinking seems to be Molinari in "The Production of Security (1849)". Herbert Spencer writing in "Social Statics (1851)" develops a similar position with a different argument and it is this later material that persuaded me.
]

The use of power may not be or cause evil even if it is horrendous or terrible. It's the full nature of the act and the context in which it occurs that determines its moral character - and of course the moral and legal framework used to judge it.


2.
What is 'envy politics'?


I don't know what the term means.


3.
If it is impossible to consider making any alliance with anyone with 'statist' sympathies, how can they consider engaging the machinery of state from a position of government? What are the minimum limits of government?


You've a knack for conflating entirely different things.

Limits first. Lets put some sort of rating scale on it.
Let's have a complete free-market (with privatised strategic nuclear forces etc) as a zero, England c1870 as a 2 and China c1960 as a 10 and East Germany c1970 as an 7. Where are we now? My guess is at 6.

Even if the killing fields / holocaust / bitter harvest / great leap backwards / stuff can be avoided life in a totalitarian state is pretty grim for the most part.

Where would you like the pointer to be?

Working with statists.
I would work with anyone who was rational and had an explicable moral framework to which they tried to adhere in good conscience. Some aspects of their work I might support, others I might oppose.


4.
Is it a realistic ambition for the Libertarian party to win MPs within a decade and be in government within two decades, when the current membership is less than that required to form a full list of candidates for parliament?


Perhaps if the economic collapse is very, very bad when everything else has been tried some people might be provided to give freedom a go.

Personally I think the LPUK is far too moderate to succeed.

Historically improving the lot of slaves had very little social traction. Abolition, as a movement, on the other hand was genuinely galvanising.

If your actually interested in this I'd be quite happy to stay engaged so long as we don't end up just shouting insults at each other (which I have been guilty of, sadly).

IanPJ said...

davidncl, to respond.

1.
Here I shall have to disagree. Whilst shoes, insurance and education are certainly things that can be better delivered by the private sector, we head into very dangerous waters when we begin to look at the legal system, jucial and defence. These things alone is what the State should be confined to.
To leave these to private sector rent seekers who would still require legislative protection leaves them open to the worst kind of possible abuse. The actions of Blackwater is a prime example of when those with the guns become lawless.

You quote Molinari and Spencer, but as with all theoritical politics and especially of ones written about in the mid 1800's, they only work in theory, Marx has proven that. I can hardly see the voters getting enthused over 17th Century ideological debate, so lets keep this discussion in the 21st Century where the politics, nations, trading, technology and people have a very different mindset.

4.
I cannot disagree that the economic collapse can only serve to assist the Libertarian view. You said "Personally I think the LPUK is far too moderate to succeed". Then you are one of the few. Most commenter's think that we are too radical with our policies to succeed. Still just proves that you cannot please everyone.

Historically improving the lot of slaves had very little social traction. Abolition, as a movement, on the other hand was genuinely galvanising. Totally agree with this statement, which is why one of our policies is to embark on a mass repeal of laws enacted over the past 10 years. Scrap them and start again but only where we feel that government should be involved in the first place. (Perhaps we need to highlight this more prominently).
Tinkering gets no-one anywhere.


No insults from me. Although I do reserve to right to have a pop at some other parties policies.

davidncl said...

Many seemingly modern ideas are in fact very old. Let me quote from the canonical 20th C text on liberty Popper's "The Open Society and its Enemies":

The greatest principle of all is that nobody,
whether male or female, should be without
a leader. Nor should the mind of anybody
be habituated to letting him do anything at
all on his own initiative ; neither out of zeal,
nor even playfully. But in war as well as in
the midst of peace to his leader he shall
direct his eye and follow him faithfully. And
even in the smallest matter he should stand
under leadership. For example, he should
get up, or move, or wash, or take his meals
. . only if he has been told to do so . . In
a word, he should teach his soul, by long
habit, never to dream of acting independently,
and in fact, to become utterly incapable of it.
PLATO OF ATHENS. 350 B.C.


Popper traces the origins of statism from Plato, through Hegel and on to Marx and Hitler.

Having an understanding of where ideas come from and how they have evolved over time to become forces in society is vitally important.

The voters might not give a fig for the history of ideas but I do and you should because the intellectuals do and these are the people you need to influence - just as the Fabians and the Progressives did. Persuading elements of this class and their repeaters is a core challenge and will likely take more that a generation.


(Previewing comments is virtually impossible on this platform - I've no idea what the quote looks like.)

IanPJ said...

To read and understand is a good thing. To read and blindly follow is not.

One of my favourite and oft used quotes is that of Churchill "The further back you look, the further forward you can see".

I see that in looking back you learn from the mistakes of others, not in what they said particularly, but in what they did, and translate their actions into the modern context.

When I read of great Generals like Paton, a military historian, he would study every battlefield that he would be called upon to take or defend, he would look at how Alexander arranged his troops, he would study Roman deployments, he would analyse every conflict that ever took place on that piece of ground, even down to the local militia in the middle ages, looking at who lost and who won and why, and then make judgements based upon his day, his impending battle.

That is the value of looking back, to learn, not merely to quote. The value comes in taking what has gone before to appraise whether it is of value today, whether what was said and what was done is relevant today, placing it into today's context and to place it into today's language and the understanding of the population.

This is where the academics fail. They see the theory as the be all and end all. In theory Marx had it right, in reality it can never work. It never works because academics generally fail to include human nature in their calculations. Individuals who can walk, talk, change their minds and say no can blow apart the greatest of theories.

The value of understanding only take the bits and pieces of the academics work that are relevant to today's battle and formulating a modern plan, but utilising today's people and their aspirations for tomorrow.

I see no purpose in continually quoting others, happy that others know that I look back when making decisions, and most often those decisions take into account the mistakes of those who went before.

Oranjepan said...

Thanks for getting this started.

DavidNcl,
Please, if you feel I deserve it, do throw insults at me. Don't worry, I don't take these things too personally, I try to understand and interpret what's being expressed. Only by discovering the points of disagreement can we find out where we may agree - there's nothing quite like the eureka moment.

"Historically improving the lot of slaves had very little social traction. Abolition, as a movement, on the other hand was genuinely galvanising."

Partly because abolition had economic traction: ie it was just since it made everyone richer. As the benefits began to be felt more equivocators supported it (if the only difference was a reduction in damages caused by rioting and rebellions, then that was tangible too).

IanPJ,
If you like, what's the LPUK 'narrative'?

Outright opposition to the EU is distinctive, but I question how popular it is outside of a vocal segment.

Phrases from the LPUK manifesto like "put people back in charge" are little different from what is already currently on offer, whereas I fear using strong words of opposition to 'cartels' and 'subsidies' is more rhetorical flourish than a substantial policy (what about natural monopolies?).

I agree that defence and judiciary are vital competences for a state. For one, only an inclusive state can legitimise and sustain concerted collective action: there must be a minimum standard of loyalty to a shared code or ethic for any system of communication, trade or other intercourse to function (see the row Sir Michael Scholar created over criticism of Brown for selective use of statistics).

I for one am strongly in favour of a system of checks and balances which gives a strong role to opposition views.

The LibDems have several thousand councillors and representatives who make a serious contribution at every level of public life across the country. I'm sure, for example, you'll be aware of the contribution Vince Cable has made to hold the government to account during the economic crisis.

By comparison I find it hard to identify what profile the Libertarians have and on which issue they have lead opinion.

My feeling is that there will always be a variety of fringe parties gaining a couple of percentage points and that there is a natural ceiling which is quite easy to reach but immensely difficult to transcend.

And especially in difficult times I think it would take something extraordinary to negate the extra inherent risk in radical answers.

Oranjepan said...

Also: which party/parties the LPUK would consider working together with in a hung parliament? And, under what conditions?

IanPJ said...

You asked: If you like, what's the LPUK 'narrative'?

We have always maintained that we are not anti EU, nor anti European. Leaving the EU is not a mainstay policy, as it is with UKIP. However, we are realistic in that the policies which we have put together for the UK would not be allowed under current EU rules. It is clear that the EU is unlikely to change in the short term and probably never, therefore our view is that to turn around, and march back treaty wise to the point where the population last agreed to involvement with the EU, (the referendum under Harold Wilson where a trading partnership with the EEC was agreed upon) is the most sensible option.

In this respect our policies are designed to show people that there is another way, a way that is in the interests of the UK, but as that may not be in the interest of the EU, we must part company at the political level or forever remain subservient.

I disagree totally that putting people back in charge is on offer anywhere else. No other party is offering the public policies that return the absolute right to decide what they eat, smoke, drink, to defend themselves in the home and at large, or how and where they educate their children all without state interference.

Others offer lip service but only serves to demean the phrase, but none offer it.

When I see for instance the Tory education vouchers plan that still require the state to dictate where and how the child is educated I get annoyed with the tinkering without substance, or when Libdems would like to increase state interference with ever more bans or restrictions on foods, tobacco and alcohol or blindly follow the religion of green taxes I know that the libertarians amongst them have lost the internal arguments to the SDP wing and have no sway at all.

With regards to monopolies some are orchestrated and others are natural, but both survive today only due to state support.

The natural monopolies will always exist, but without legislative protection will be limited in their ability to abuse the consumers and can therefore be held in check, whilst the orchestrated ones will simply wither and die without support or subsidy from the state as people vote with their purses.
Such monopolies will have to offer real service, at real prices in order to compete as new service providers come up below them. As I keep reminding people, there is no such thing as government money, so every subsidy is a new tax.

I too am strongly in favour of a system of checks and balances which gives a strong role to opposition views. Something that has been sadly lacking by all opposition. To oppose, to check abuses, to offer alternative views is what we expect, it is not what we have witnessed over the past 10 years with very few exceptions (Cable being only one of a very small number)

Excuse my being flippant with regards to LibDem contribution, there are of course several thousand councillors and representatives who are in the mainstream of local politics, however, I fail to agree with Cable's input on the economic crisis, but we all have our opinion on how this should be tacked.

Considering that the Libertarian Party is only just a year old, ignored by the press and media, it is not surprising that you find it difficult to identify issues that we would lead on.

You say that your feeling is that there will always be a variety of fringe parties gaining a couple of percentage points and that there is a natural ceiling which is quite easy to reach but immensely difficult to transcend. This is true of any new ideas coming to market. If I look at how long it took UKIP to gain any kind of foothold I am more than aware of the uphill struggle that we face, but early responses are heartening, and as I said in an earlier comment, the polls will be our testing ground.

And especially in difficult times I think it would take something extraordinary to negate the extra inherent risk in radical answers. 10 years of wrong policies, 10 years of lies, 10 years of corruption, 10 years wasted. We intend to repeal just about all of it, and start again. We cannot claw back the waste, but we can ensure that such waste does not occur in the future.

DavidNcl said...

Ian, can you give me some concrete examples of LPUK policies that wouldn't be at home in the liberal bits of the the lib-dems or the free-market bits of the conservative party?

I'm quite well aware that those wings are not in the ascendancy at the moment, but changing that seems easier than bootstrapping a new party from ground zero to power.

IanPJ said...

David,

Methinks that you assume that staying in the pro-EU Libdems and trying to change that from the inside, or trying to reform the EU is preferable to giving it up as a bad job.

The Libdems will not change, nor will the Tories. If the members within those parties who have Libertarian leanings cannot see that, it is not for me to teach them to suck eggs.

There is a Libertarian Party waiting for you all to realise that you can only bang your head on the brick wall so often before you realise that it hurts.

We need that spirit and enthusiasm that your activists display at LPUK, and it pains me to see it all going to waste inside a party that you know you will never change. At best you will get half a policy like the Tory education vouchers. Maybe.

DavidNcl said...

As an aside, I am not, nor have I ever been, in the LibDems or any of its precursors.

The request for a few policy examples showing clear blue water between LPUK and the LibDems or the Tories was quite genuine.

DavidNcl said...

Let me also pose a specifc question: If we accept the estimate that the state take of GDP is 43% at the moment (and there are several problems with that) what, Ian do you think it should be reduced to and over what sort of timescales?

For example I would like to aim for 30% within five years, 10% within twenty years trending to zero over a century. It's a rough measure I know but as a guide?

IanPJ said...

David,
Apologies, I did not read your profile or look at your blog first, an assumption on my part, an incorrect one.

How about these for starters.

We will ensure that the UK does not enter into any binding agreements with supra-national entities that require the imposition of fines or demand policy actions on domestic affairs or those affecting national security including energy policy. Such agencies include the EU and the United Nations.

Entities with legal/statutory powers (Quangos, NGO'S)to be formally recognised as State bodies and returned to direct oversight by the Government and Civil Service.

Systematically review the funding of ALL NGO's & QUANGOs, with the aim of its withdrawal.

Abolition of Personal Income Tax.

Chief Constables to be locally elected for fixed terms, and given a large amount of autonomy.

Police Authorities to be abolished removing all vestige of political control and such things as the targets system. Chief Constables to be responsible to the courts.

Undertake a review of the PCSO concept, with the potential to recruit those capable into the main police force, and to disband the remainder.

Roll back the right of government agents to enter property without a warrant.

Establish a parliamentary Standing Committee to review all legislation enacted over the past 30+ years with the remit to propose repeal unless absolutely necessary.
Some unnecessary legislation which will be stopped immediately using suspension orders is expected to include ASBOs, datasharing and FPN on-the-spot fines.

Establish a parliamentary Standing Committee to review all national security legislation enacted over the past 15+ years, with a view to reaffirming, amending or repealing any legislation to ensure the rule of law whilst safeguarding the privacy and security of the individual.

There are of course many more examples which can be viewed on our website Manifesto page, listed by policy item.
http://lpuk.org/pages/manifesto.php

IanPJ said...

I think that 30% GDP is certainly achievable within the lifetime of 1 parliament, coming down to approx 10% within 2 further parliaments.

However, if we are to fund our policy of Armed Neutrality, Juciary, Police and Education then certainly 10% is the lowest that I can envisage it going.

DavidNcl said...

Thanks Ian for posting such a detailed reply.

I have to work in the ontology mines for the next couple of days so posting will be very light. But I will pick up this thread.

DavidNcl said...

"I agree that defence and judiciary are vital competences for a state."

It really the forced backed monopoly of force and law that's the problem. We certainly do need judicial systems and provision of armed force to keep order and secure borders but the machinery which provides that need not be a traditional state. I'm pushing at what might seem to be an absurd and extreme point largely because this is the sticking point from which most people conclude that cocercive states are necessary and good.

I'd much rather have this debate fifty years into a minimal state (perhaps ushered in by Ian's party). The reason that such ideas were current 150 years ago is that England and the US where at least to some extent a fairly minimal states.

The non state provision of judicial and legal systems is quite easy to imagine if you live in a society where much of peoples experience of collective action was voluntary and consensual mediated by their companies, churches, guilds, unions, friendly and mutual societies.

Anyway... Let me question this bit of mouth music:

"For one, only an inclusive state can legitimise and sustain concerted collective action: there must be a minimum standard of loyalty to a shared code or ethic for any system of communication, trade or other intercourse to function"

Any group of individuals - such as an orchestra or a corporation can act in concert or collectively and continue to do so over time. So I don't need see why I need a state to sustain collective action.

And I can't think of any process or means (collective or otherwise) that can alter the legitimacy of actions. Actions either are or are not legitimate whether they are collective or individual actions is irrelevant.

"there must be a minimum standard of loyalty to a shared code or ethic for any system of communication, trade or other intercourse to function"

We can communicate and trade with bitter enemies who we trust not at all and even organisations with radically different ethics and moral systems such as criminal and terrorist organisations manage to trade things like weapons, drugs, information, skill personnel. They make arrangements over turf and jurisdiction and so forth with each other despite not sharing end, ethics or loyalty codes.

Oranjepan said...

I have some serious misgivings about the concept of 'armed neutrality' - surely this would mean the UK would resign our seat on the UN Security Council and give up our ability to form the global security agenda and our real influence over the shape of the global security infrastructure.

The consequence would be to shatter our status as one of the principle pillars of the international trading network and undermining the balance of our economy.

Britain and the world benefits from our active participation in leadership on global governance issues. Why would anyone want to resign that hard-fought status?

Roger Thornhill said...

My take,

1.
Is state power a necessary evil? Must the use of power result in necessarily evil outcomes?

By this if you mean "is the State having power..." then yes. As Ian has stated the power the state has is, in itself, not necessarily always an evil in every case. Focusing on outcomes is dangerous. Evil can sometimes produce good as a by-product or in exchange for a greater evil, e.g. lock up all men and rapes on women will end. A good comes out of it at the expense of a greater evil.


2.
What is 'envy politics'? Is it envy which forces 'have nots' to pay their bills? Or is envy what you get because people can't pay their bills? Isn't this just code to stigmatise any form of interventionist redistribution?


The questions you ask are, if I may say so, some form of strange inversion and explains why you may be having a problem with the concept. Envy politics is, roughly, "they have/can, so punish/take/ban". It is the opposite of what you said. Private Schools are a classic area for envy politics.

3.
If it is impossible to consider making any alliance with anyone with 'statist' sympathies, how can they consider engaging the machinery of state from a position of government? What are the minimum limits of government?

State administration should advise but eventually carry out the directions of the Government. In making alliances, one needs to compromise and that is the problem - Statists will bog you down. Your final part needs clarification before it can be answered.

4.
Is it a realistic ambition for the Libertarian party to win MPs within a decade and be in government within two decades, when the current membership is less than that required to form a full list of candidates for parliament?

Time will tell. There is no reason to think it cannot happen. Without goals, progress is less focused.

5.
Who are the Libertarian party (LPUK)? What are the names of their leading spokespeople? What policies can one expect from a LPUK manifesto? What track record of delivery/implementation and holding to account have they got?

Ian has answered most of this. As for the last part, well, most LPUK members and the entire NCC are not of the "Political Class".

Oranjepan said...

DavidNcl,
on the 'legitimacy of collective action' I think I'm making a distinction between universal communities and groups with exclusive membership. Orchestras and corporations fall into the latter category.

To take the example of capital punishment - how exactly do you differentiate between criminal murder and a legitimately-sanctioned execution of duty without a concept of universal, or state community? Would the death of Saddam Hussein have been more acceptable if it had taken place by public stoning in the street? How could you decide that his death was legitimately obtained or make criticisms that it wasn't unless there had been a regulated court procedure?

Oranjepan said...

Roger,
"Envy politics is, roughly, "they have/can, so punish/take/ban"."

I get the idea that "if I can't have it then nobody can" is a strong factor in politics, but there is an equal and opposite corollary of this which states "if they've got it, I want it too."

I don't like either.

Roger Thornhill said...

There is a world of difference between "if they've got it, i want it too" and "If they've got it, I will take what I need by force to get it too".

Your statement suggests you dislike ambition. Envy politics is entropic, levelling down, whereas wanting what others have and working for it yourself is the opposite.

Oranjepan said...

Huh? Not sure what you mean there, Roger.

Are you suggesting I should be fazed by comparison to others?

Should I want something because somebody else has it, rather for it's own sake if at all?

DavidNcl said...

I've responded to the Saddam question over at my blog :) but I'll post here too:

The stoning would be understandable, perhaps even forgivable given the depredations he heaped upon his people. It would not though have been legitimate.

It would be illegitimate because as Oranjepan rightly points out the regulated procedure is essential. The existence of the state adds nothing in the way of legitimacy.

The legitimacy of the execution - or other violent actions - arises because we see the operation of a formal process rather like a program or the expression of a set of rules which are and can be seen to be applied “blindly” or mechanistically without special privilege or prejudice. It’s this mechanistic rule following that conveys legitimacy rather than legitimacy somehow flowing from the existence of a state.

What I’ve just said is only part of the story. It’s not enough that the rules are deterministically applied it’s that the rules themselves are created and changed by other equally formal or mechanistic processes.

Further, the rules and their operators need to have been shown to be effective and “just” over long periods of time and in a wide range of circumstances. To some extent this is cause of some of the doubts of the legitimacy of Hussien’s execution stem from.

Yet more, they need to be seen or perceived as moral rules. Morality itself is constructed by evolutionary social processes over generations though ultimately it derives from aspects of our biological existence in the physical world.

States do not convey legitimacy either in principle or practice. The show trials of Stalin’s era are seen as illegitimate even though they’re the actions of a state precisely because they where not the blind application of rules to circumstances.

I cannot imagine being able to buy or sell moral systems but perhaps I just lack imagination. On the other hand I can see no reason to assume that sets of rules or entire legal systems couldn’t be bought and sold on the market. In fact, of course, they are. Non state arbitration and other dispute resolution services are already quite widespread. There’s no reason to assume that the role of such services couldn’t become more widespread and more profound and that healthy competition might develop leading to refinement and improvements in both justice and efficiency.

Oranjepan said...

You're probably right that this is about to go off in another direction, but now we're getting into it...

With private justice systems there is no guarantee of even-handedness either between laws or between people because any accountability is diminished.

A state doesn't just regulate procedure, but also regularise each procedure. This doesn't add any legitimacy, but it does create legitimacy where none existed previously.

The standard criticism of show trials is that what they show is inconsistency and therefore cannot constitute law (ie because the law isn't upheld universally to the same standard the law has already ceased to exist).

So in other words for there to be law there must be a state - natural law exists in the state of nature.

DavidNcl said...

Point by point:

With private justice systems there is no guarantee of even-handedness either between laws or between people because any accountability is diminished.

In a free market those agencies which didn't have a strong reputations, jealously guarded for accountability, wisdom, openness and even handed systems would find it much harder to attract customers than those who did. Who would voluntarily be tried by a judicial agency which did not have a stellar reputation for even handedness?

State provided service tend to be both of poor quality and quite expensive. Why should justice be different?

A state doesn't just regulate procedure, but also regularise each procedure. This doesn't add any legitimacy, but it does create legitimacy where none existed previously.

When you say but "also regularise each procedure" I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean that it will tend to make procedures aiming at the same ends much the same all over? Is it this "regularise"-ing that create legitimacy in your view?

The standard criticism of show trials is tht what they show is inconsistency and therefore cannot constitute law (ie because the law isn't upheld universally to the same standard the law has already ceased to exist)

No laws provide by states are universal in their details. They differ from state to state and even within nation states in some case, like the US for example. The laws of the Florida are different in many degrees to the laws of Scotland or of Singapore yet this hasn't in any sense caused the law to cease to exist. It's quite possible to get a just trial for murder in all these jurisdictions and we would generally consider the rule of law to prevail despite the lack of universitaly.

However your right to some extent that it's inconsistency that invalidates show trials but it's an inconsistency that arises because simply because there isn't a body of consistent rules or procedures being followed and that one could reasonably expect to be followed in other cases in the same judicial system.

So in other words for there to be law there must be a state - natural law exists in the state of nature.

(Hard to follow you here, tbh)

Are you trying to say that the law (the set of rules) must be the same in all places within a state in order to be a law?

On the second bit... "natural law exists in the state of nature". You seem to be saying something almost Platonic, suggesting that there are laws "out there" that we discover or come to know by some means. I don't think it's like that at all. Instead I think that the things we describe as "laws of nature" are more like shared, socially constructed explanatory and predictive models. Just to be pedantic this is not claiming that reality is any sense socially constructed.

Oranjepan said...

David,
Who would be tried if they were to be tried voluntarily?

Regularisation and consistency are much the same thing. It's not a problem that laws can vary from Scotland to Singapore, so long as the laws in either place are applied consistently where they exist - we're not very far apart on this point.

"natural law exists in the state of nature" - just trying to bring some levity to the discussion (my way of being a bit facetious considering the law of the jungle which exists in my neck of the woods...).

Ideally the written law would accurately reflect reality, codifying the choices on offer in particular circumstances, being a product of a complete aggregate record of events in similar circumstances - which comes close to claiming predictiveness. So again we are pretty close in our conception of this.

Oranjepan said...

Roger,
ambition is a many-sided creature. It can be consuming and avaricious, it can be the motor which drives you and it can be the inspiration which makes you look to the heavens.

Some might say I'd be foolish to attempt to fly, but leaping from treetop to treetop is hardly the same thing.

IanPJ said...

With regard to the Envy politics question posed above, something seems to have gotten lost in the translation.

My view on this is that envy plays a big part in current rule making.

i.e. To see someone driving a Rolls Royce, the current thinking is 'I'll soon have him out of that', and various bans, economic sanctions, fines are introduced to ensure that no-one outside of the top 10 will ever own a Rolls Royce.

We need to change that view back to the one that was prevalent in the UK for a long time, the one call aspiration and ambition.

If I work hard enough, if I do well, if I can make my business really work, then one day I will be able to afford a Rolls Royce as well.

Its what drives the entrepreneurial spirit, the ambition that makes business thrive, what ultimately drives the economy.

We need to dispel this view that because some will never achieve their aspirations and ambitions, we must have an equal society where nobody can.

Equality is the tool of envy, but the only sure thing to come out of it is that everyone will be equally poor, equally devoid of ambition.

Oranjepan said...

Ian,
I have a habit of doing this and it's something you'll have to get used to from me: I like to point out that all questions have multiple sides.

Yes, you are right that the aspiration to ownership of a Roller is a good thing on it's own, but there is also a serious question about the cost at which it can be done acceptably.

In the urban ghetto you will often see expensive cars. In many cases they are owned by the drug-dealers and pimps who plague the streets.
Similarly the more spacious and expensive reaches of society are populated by ruthless go-getters who certainly shouldn't be held up as role-models. Richard Branson??? He's a criminal.

Feeding aspiration has it's downside if it isn't accompanied by transmission of communal values, which cannot be imposed from outside.

I think it is a false choice to be forced to decide between poverty and depravity - opportunity MUST match ambition.

Roger Thornhill said...

Oranjepan,

There is no suggestion to "feed" ambition, just NOT((be envious) OR (suppress it) ).

This is the THRID side to the question, just as with drugs, Libertarians are NOT(in favour) of drugs, just NOT(against).

IanPJ said...

In the urban ghetto you will often see expensive cars. In many cases they are owned by the drug-dealers and pimps who plague the streets.

That tells me more about poor government policies on drugs and prostitution than it does about the ambition and drive of those who exploit bad laws. If such bad law was not in place, then they would have nothing to exploit.

Similarly the more spacious and expensive reaches of society are populated by ruthless go-getters who certainly shouldn't be held up as role-models. Richard Branson??? He's a criminal.

Perhaps thats just Envy? Although you make an accusation, What proof?

Feeding aspiration has it's downside if it isn't accompanied by transmission of communal values, which cannot be imposed from outside.

I keep having to repeat this wherever I go. People make communities, communities do not make the people. It is the values of the people who collectively make the community, and shouldn't be imposed from anywhere.

I think it is a false choice to be forced to decide between poverty and depravity - opportunity MUST match ambition.

No. ambition is the driver, ambition is what creates the opportunities. Very few would choose to be either poverty stricken or depraved, its generally social engineering and bad laws that keeps them there, the suppression of ambition.

Oranjepan said...

Don't get me started on Richard Branson.

Mike Oldfield grew up on the same street as I did (although a few years earlier). Branson set up Virgin by scamming the taxes on Tubular Bells (I think he reclaimed the difference between VAT and import duty by taking boxes of the record across the ferry to Calais and back again saying it was manufactured in Austria or somesuch place).

Branson was very open about this for much of his career and donated regularly to Labour before being pardoned for his fraud in 97 by paying £1m to the treasury (after Labour's election).

This background of financial was the principal objection to his offer to buy NR when it went into administration. Who could trust a high street financial institution run by a self-confessed fraud (though that's not to say this is any guarantee)?

Oranjepan said...

"People make communities, communities do not make the people."

Disagree. People make communities and then the communities help make the next generation of people. It's a dynamic relationship.

I agree that values have their root in individual behaviour and this creates the example. Imposition simply doesn't work.

Ambition does not create all opportunities (though it may some), ambition does however take advantage of opportunities which present themselves. The difference between the two is inspriation, which must come from somewhere.

Roger,
yes, I admit I'm limited in my own perspective (as I think we all are), which is why it is so important to be open to new ideas and different viewpoints. Which requires dialogue across all divides in order to tease out the source of disputes.

IanPJ said...

Mike Oldfield grew up on the same street as I did (although a few years earlier). Branson set up Virgin by scamming the taxes on Tubular Bells (I think he reclaimed the difference between VAT and import duty by taking boxes of the record across the ferry to Calais and back again saying it was manufactured in Austria or somesuch place).

Branson set up Virgin whilst at University. When VAT was introduced there were loopholes a mile wide in its application across different EU states. It may have been unethical, but I bet it wasnt illegal then.

This background of financial was the principal objection to his offer to buy NR when it went into administration. Who could trust a high street financial institution run by a self-confessed fraud (though that's not to say this is any guarantee)?

Hardly believe that. Branson already run Virgin Finance, so no official objections there. As I said earlier, unethical but hardly fraud, unless you see using legal loopholes as fraud.

Bad laws and poorly written laws will always present 'opportunities'. As you said, ambition does however take advantage of opportunities which present themselves. Inspiration.

Oranjepan said...

From Wikipedia:

"In 1971, Branson was arrested and charged for selling records in Virgin stores that had been declared export stock. He settled out-of-court with UK Customs and Excise with an agreement to repay the unpaid tax and fines"

So not just taking advantage of a 'legal loophole' then.

"The Daily Mail ran a campaign against his bid and Liberal Democrats' financial spokesperson Vince Cable suggested in the House of Commons that Branson's criminal conviction for tax evasion might be felt by some as a good enough reason not to trust him with public money"

I also recall reading how there is a regulatory difference in the requirements to be a lender and those to offer banking facilities.

I can't confirm this but I'm pretty sure he also takes advantage of non-dom status by living in the country for less than 90 days/year, while there has been open allegations of underhand business practices in his feud with British Airways, for example.

Entrepreneurial surely, but not an outstanding role model.

Branson an example of a man in a powerful position and perhaps demonstrates the evil/corruption required in gaining and maintaining that power.

He didn't necessarily have to behave as he did, but would he have got where he has if he hadn't - could he have climbed higher? What chance a knighthood?

Roger Thornhill said...

"Disagree. People make communities and then the communities help make the next generation of people. It's a dynamic relationship."

So this "Community" is some kind of Frankenstein's Monster, with a pulse of its own? No, it is still a collection of people. People make communities, they ARE the communities and the remain the communities. It all goes wrong when some self-appointed "leaders" begin to hijack it.

Oranjepan said...

Roger,
a community isn't some monolithic beast in our modern pluralistic culture, but isn't our music the pulse and rhythm of our society?

Fully agree that the problems arise when communal structures get hijacked for specific political ends, as I argued has happened to the NHS in another thread.

NB. said...

IanPJ:

"That is the value of looking back, to learn, not merely to quote. The value comes in taking what has gone before to appraise whether it is of value today, whether what was said and what was done is relevant today, placing it into today's context and to place it into today's language and the understanding of the population"

Oh come on, so DavidNcl is unlearned because he's quoting? Do we need to translate Spencer into the language of the streets or something? Sounds like a sneering Radio 4 comedy show by Marcus Brigstock.

"In theory Marx had it right"

Is that your idea of talking like the general, non-academic population? I love that one, the amount of 18 year olds I've heard trot that one out. 'Of course on paper communism is the best'. Wowza, if that's the level of debate you LP guys are having, remind me to not bother with the conference next year.

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