By Kevin Bjornson, National Co-Chairman of The Libertarian Defense Caucus
To understand recent world events, we should first put them in context of world pre-history and history. Then we can understand how ancient libertarianism
developed and it’s foundation.
These are the three most important early developments:
Evidence was discovered pointing to the existence of modern man (Homo sapiens) in Israel as early as 400,000 years ago” (1.)
The beginning of agriculture around 10 000 years ago has repeatedly been seen as the major transition in the human past, a change over from the natural environment in control of humans, to humans in cont
rol of the natural environment. Before agriculture, humans were hunter- gatherers, dependent on wild resources for their nutritional requirements, which led to a largely nomadic lifestyle dictated by the annual cycle of animal and plant availability.” (2.)
–institution of the roman republic about 509 BC,
with the overthrow of the monarchy and creation of the
Twelve Tablets of Rome (the supreme constitution of the world).
Origin of Government
The Paleolithic period (or “Estate of Nature” or “Garden of Eden”) was based on hunting-gathering. In the Neolithic period, agriculture enabled stored wealth for the first time. This led to the evolution of government from gangs of thieves:
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/World_History/Ancient_Civilizations “As agriculture became more and more widespread, people began to accumulate surpluses of food, meaning that a single family grew more than it consumed. At the same time, the increasing tendency to remain in a single location put pressure on groups to protect themselves from other still nomadic peoples.” (3.)
“Government” is the organization of force to regulate or control human behavior. If an individual thief tried to steal this stored wealth, he would be confronted by the farmer-owner, his family and friends. We must therefore conclude that some nomadic tribes operated as gangs, organizing force to steal. To counter this, creators of stored wealth organized force in protection of life, liberty and property.
This is the real “social contract” whereby individuals hire government “guard dogs” to protect from government ”wolf packs”. We may suppose that protective government evolved from predatory gov’t, in like manner that guard dogs evolved from wolves. Because the notion of protection presupposes a threat.
Let us contrast Locke with Hobbes:
Locke: “Men living together according to reason without a common superior on earth, with authority to judge between them, is properly the state of Nature. But force, or a declared design of force upon the person of another, where there is no common superior on earth to appeal to for relief, is the state of war…” (4.)
Hobbes: “Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men
live without a common Power to keep them all in awe,
they are in that condition which is called Warre;
and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man.” (5.)
Locke was correct in supposing that society created government; government didn’t create society. Hobbes assumed without evidence that the Paleolithic period was characterized by a “war of all against all”. However hunting-gathering provides neither incentive nor means for organized warfare. Because without stored wealth, there is little to steal, and little ability to organize force to steal. The concept “war” presupposes war between governments, hence by definition, there was no organized war in the estate of nature.
Meaning of “Government”
This means, contra Locke, that illegitimate governments arose before legitimate governments. Locke’s viewpoint does not exclude the possibility of illegitimate governments, but he views legitimate government as the archetype and this implies illegitimate governments are aberrations not the norm.
Conversely, “anarcho-capitalists” imagine that their proposed agencies of defensive/retaliatory force would not be governments. In their view, by definition all governing actions initiate force and cannot defend or retaliate against initiations of force.
Roy Childs: “Why is a limited government a floating abstraction? Because it must either initiate force or stop being a government.”
However, dictionaries do not agree that governments necessarily initiate force. To “govern” means to rule over by right of authority. However, opinions may differ on what constitutes rightful authority.
The synonym “rule” makes the meaning more clear, ”to exercise control, dominion, or direction over; govern”. When force is organized by government and used in retaliation or defense, that also constitutes governing or ruling.
Legitimate governments necessarily protect against external predators, as well as citizen-subscribers who violate their contract with legitimate government by initiating aggression. In either case, whether dealing with external or internal threats, governments govern when they protect life, liberty, and rightful property. If they did not so govern, aggression could strike without restraint and there would be no legitimate governments.
“Within libertarianism, though, the concept ‘government’ is still unstable. Anarcho-libertarians, who argue for something they dub ‘competing legal systems’ or ‘competing defense organizations,’ claim that the concept ’government’ means, essentially, ‘a monopoly of legal services over a given territory.’ This isn’t as clear cut as one might wish.“ …
“In my own view, for example, the institutions anarcho-libertarians support are governments in every important respect–they are administrators, maintainers, and protectors of bona fide law within human communities. What critics claim is that such administration, maintenance and protection do not require contiguous spheres of jurisdiction but could work as a sort of crisscross system.” (7.)
Nations traditionally have been organized around territory or ethnicity. However modernity has made the world transparent and open to movement. The internet has enabled organization based on ideas, much more so than the Gutenburg press.
”Intervention” and “Aggression”
Another area in which “anarcho-capitalists” are confused,
is their conflation of (military) non-intervention and non-aggression.
To “intervene” simply means, a party joins a dispute,
siding with one party over another. To intervene on behalf
of the aggressor, is aggression. To intervene on behalf of
the victim, is not aggression. By definition, there can be only
one initiation of force in a conflict. The initial aggressor and
the intervenor cannot both initiate force (in any given context), because there can be only one first strike.
This confusion can be traced to a medieval misinterpretation of Jus Naturale: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/mainea04.asp Maine:
“No passage has ever been adduced from the remains of Roman law which, in my judgment, proves the jurisconsults to have believed natural law to have obligatory force between independent commonwealths; and we cannot but see that to citizens of the Roman empire who regarded their sovereign’s dominions as conterminous with civilisation, the equal subjection of states to the Law of Nature, if contemplated at all, [would] have seemed at most an extreme result of curious speculation.”
“If the society of nations is governed by Natural Law, the atoms which compose it must be absolutely equal. Men under the sceptre of Nature are all equal, and accordingly commonwealths are equal if the international state be one of nature.”
“Acquisition of territory has always been the great spur of national ambition, and the rules which govern this acquisition, together with the rules which moderate the wars in which it too frequently results, are merely transcribed from the part of the Roman law which treats of the modes of acquiring property ‘jure gentium’.
“They thus made their way into the modern Law of Nations, and the result is that those parts of the international system which refer to dominion, its nature, its limitations, the modes of acquiring and securing it, are pure Roman Property Law –“
“In order that these chapters of International Law may be capable of application, it is necessary that sovereigns should be related to each other like the members of a group of Roman proprietors. This is another of the postulates which lie at the threshold of the International Code, and it is also one which could not possibly have been subscribed to during the first centuries of modern European history.. It is resolvable into the double proposition that ‘sovereignty is territorial,’ i.e. that it is always associated with the proprietorship of a limited portion of the earth’s surface, and that ‘sovereigns inter se are to be deemed not paramount, but absolute, owners of the state’s territory.'” (8.)
Rulers are governed by natural law, like all other natural persons. But they do not own all the real estate within their dominion, hence do not have a moral shield against intervention (between the ruler and the ruled), whether by invasion, revolution, or civil war.
“A priori” and empirical induction
People generally tend to be skeptical of “a priori” speculation,
and prefer to see examples. Though, often self-identified
libertarians try to define liberty deductively, from axioms.
Yet they often do not start with true axioms. We should
minimize the number of our assumptions, and make sure
they correspond with reality.
We may trace “competing governments” theory to the common law system of the roman republic; and this is more useful than trying to re-invent the wheel with “anarcho-capitalism”.
Deduction from axioms is one side of the coin. The other side is empirical and inductive. Ancient libertarianism began as a synthesis of the two. We see this exemplified when Rome conquered Athens.
Henry Maine: “It is notorious that this proposition — live according to nature — was the sum of the tenets of the famous Stoic philosophy. Now on the subjugation of Greece that philosophy made instantaneous progress in Roman society.” …The alliance of the lawyers with the Stoic philosophers lasted through many centuries.” (9.)
Prior to this, the roman republic began a common law system they called “Jus Gentium” (or law of all nations). This was merchant law, because it pertained to international trade, and disputes that arose therefrom. Merchants from differentcity-states sometimes had disputes, and they resolved the question of what set of laws to apply by resorting to common Law. Though this method should be applied to all areas of law.
Henry Maine translates and quotes the Institutional Treatise published under the authority of the Emperor Justinian:
“All nations who are ruled by laws and customs, are governed partly by their own particular laws, and partly by those laws which are common to all mankind. The law which a people enacts is called the Civil Law of that people, but that which natural reason appoints for all mankind is called the Law of Nations, because all nations use it.” (10.
) Maine explains: “Jus Gentium was, in fact, the sum of the common ingredients in the customs of the old Italian tribes, for they were all the nations whom the Romans had the means of observing…“(11.)
Resolving the subjectivist-objectivist paradox
The Latin “Jus Gentium” or law in common to all nations (derived inductively), was objective in the sense of an aspect of human nature and not derived from contracts. Though politically, we must evaluate all human actions that do not initiate force, as if they were subjective.
For example, a product maybe objectively better in the sense of greater efficiency, safety, and longevity; but it maybe too expensive or not satisfy irrational impulses of the buyer.
We should reserve government force only for countering aggression; what is or is not rational in art, love, or personal pleasure cannot be known with sufficient certainty (and in such cases, Nature will bring punishment if appropriate). Which is why only the common law can rightly be enforced against those who do not agree to receive the enforcement.
This resolves the seeming contradiction between Austrian economics and “objectivism”.
Living in accord with Human Nature, in Justice and Life
The Stoic philosophy was to live in accord with nature, keeping a balance or golden mean; the political aspect was the principle of equity and equal rights (this was the bridge to “Jus Gentium”).
By extracting the elements in common to all law codes,
the Romans did not intend “a priori” to arrive at the
non-aggression principle. That is good, because
well-intentioned people can come up with all kinds
of axioms which they presume to be self-evident, and through pure logic arrive at a “reductio ad absurdum”.
Jus Gentium arrived at an approximation of the non-aggression principle by analyzing examples of all law codes, extracting what they all have in common. All legal systems generally prohibit murder, robbery, and rape (forcible initiation of force upon another natural person). Though governments make exceptions for government employees, we should apply the same logic to all natural persons (“AEquitas” in Latin, “equity” in English).
Thus by applying the logic of equity to common law, we arrive at knowledge of natural law, including the non-initiation-of-force principle (i.e. liberty principle). This natural law reigns supreme–applying to all natural persons, in all places, and for all time. Failure to live in accord with huamn nature will result in automatic punishment from nature, as surely as a poor diet and lifestyle will diminish lifespan. Sharia law is in direct opposition to natural law, and the world must choose between them.
Decline of the West–then and now
When the western roman empire fell, the eastern continued for another 1000 years. The EU, and it’s partner the US, are collapsing–economically, politically, and demographically. Russian law must be reformed in accord with “Jus Naturale” and then will be able to preserve civilization in the dark ages that might come. This will create hope and purpose for the future, inspiring population increase.
Russia is a rightful heir to the eastern roman republic. If Russia enabled a Kurdistan protectorate in eastern Turkey, that would give Russia a land route from Armenia all the way to the Mediterranean. Russia should negotiate military transit privileges through Georgia, in a mutually beneficial deal that would allow return of refugees and choice of government in now-disputed provinces.
Likewise, the US should negotiate military transit privileges through Armenia and Kurdistan. This would open a land route from the Black Sea, for trade and supply lines.
Greece should reprise the Iliad, and reverse the Islamist conquest of Byzantium/Constantinople. Then, western Anatolia and Kurdistan could apply for membership in NATO.
The US and the West are wrong to back an Islamic Turkey, now as they were in the Crimean War. Similarly the West backed the wrong side in Serbia and Afghanistan. Once the Iran domination of Syria ends, Russia should assume a leading role there.
Russia has a moral duty to prevent the rise of the Sunni Caliphate and Shia nukes, and thus must resist the efforts of Erdogan and the mullahs in Iran. That is because Obama has further bankrupted the US. Pax Americana will go the way of Pax Britannica and Pax Romana.
Russia has an arguable claim to Crimea, but should negotiate lower gas prices for Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine’s loss of rent for the Russian naval base there. Russia wants to secure cities in eastern Ukraine that produce military hardware, but such as they produce is obsolete and third-rate. Rebuilding the war-torn area would would be a burden for Russia, but Ukraine is more broke. Cities (and ideally, individual persons) should have a free choice of which government they want.
A good replacement is needed to avert a new Dark Ages, the UN is manifestly unsuited to the task for multiple reasons.
Instead of siding with Shia Iran against the Sunni Caliphate, and Obama backing whichever side seems trendy– Russia and the US should unite against both the Sunni caliphate and Shia nukes.
The eastern and western fragments of the republic must unite in a co-dominion, changing their policies to form a humanistic alliance against theocracy
1. McDougall, I.; Brown, F.; & Fleagle, J.; (2005)
“Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia”
Nature, Thursday Feb. 17, 2005
2. Brown, T.; Jones, M.; Powell, W.; and Allaby, R. (2008)
“The complex origins of domesticated crops in the Fertile Crescent”
Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 10-29
3. Wikibooks (2013)
“Civilization Makes it’s Debut” in
World History/Ancient Civilizations
4. Locke, J.; (1690)
“Of the State of War”
Second Treatise of Civil Government Chapter III Section 19
5. Hobbes, T.; (1660)
“Of The Naturall Condition Of Mankind, As Concerning Their Felicity, And Misery”
Leviathan, Chapter 13
6. Childs, R.; (1969)
“An Open Letter to Ayn Rand: Objectivism and the State”
The Rational Individualist, August 1969
7. Machan, T.; (2004)
“‘Government’ vs. ‘State’”
Strike the Root, March 13, 2004
8. Maine, H.: (1861)
“The Modern History of the Law of Nature”
Ancient Law, chapter four
9. Maine, H.: (1861)
“The Law of Nature and Equity”
Ancient Law, chapter three
‘World History and the Role of Russia; from a classical libertarian perspective’ was originally published in the Russian language academic journal “Modern Scientific Thought”.
It is reprinted with permission here.
“Modern Scientific Thought’ may be accessed here http://helri.com/dop_faily/snm-2013-4.pdf
A profound thank you to Dr. Igor Suzdaltsev, Editor-in-Chief of ‘Modern Scientific Thought’, for his invaluable contribution to the publication of this article and to the cause of liberty.
Here is a link to his book’Natiology’ http://www.amazon.com/Natiology-Social-Science-Third-Millennium/dp/0965375323
Photograph Link: http://helri.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=1