Ayn Rand fans often get touchy about their political beliefs. No wonder objectivism is often criticized as a cult, a closed group with no room for improvement. Political objectivism confirms that the government is necessary. Ayn Rand espoused a definitive character, or nature of the government, in her essay in which she wrote about why government is necessary and what should be regular and just role of a government in a free society. Ayn Rand fans (I won’t call them objectivists because more than often, they reject reason for their belief in Ayn Rand and her ideas), often suggest that law and justice in an Anarcho-capitalist or Voluntaryist society will be chaotic because without government, it is impossible to maintain just law and peace. However, they often fail to mention about the ways to maintain a just minimal government.
Objectivists suggest that an Objectivist is one who strictly adheres with everything that Ayn Rand espoused. She espoused a miniarchy, minimal state to maintain law and justice and protection. However, do these objectivists have any idea about how to sustain such a government?
Ayn Rand was a free market capitalist and she believed that coercive taxation is certainly evil; she opposed coercive taxation in any form. However, she had to answer about how a government will be maintained without taxes in a miniarchy. Her answer was voluntary taxation. Voluntary taxation is an Oxymoron, a self-contradictory term as voluntary rape. By definition taxation and rape are not voluntary – when they are it takes completely different words for an accurate description. I haven’t met any objectivist ever who actually believes that a government to maintain law and justice in a miniarchy can be maintained with the help of voluntary taxation. They often turn the voluntary taxation to minimal compulsory taxation. Obviously, that is against Ayn Rand’s philosophy of miniarchy. But hey, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that they still have the state, the government.
While arguing against the proponents of Anarcho-capitalism, these so-called objectivists, or Randians (as I prefer to call them,), they often paraphrase Ayn Rand’s objection against the idea of competitive government and starts asking what will happen then? Ayn Rand’s objection was simple and it was because she never cared to rationally research about the concept of anarcho-capitalism, or competitive government. In her essay nature of government, Ayn Rand said,
“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?”1
The answer to this question is not very difficult, but it cannot be definitive. As Roderick T. Long said, Human beings have free will. They can do all kinds of crazy things. They might go to battle. Likewise, George Bush might decide to push the nuclear button tomorrow. They might do all sorts of things2 .
However, there is certainly a difference between a government and a private defense organization. A government doesn’t depend on consumers, it exploits them through taxes and hence, it doesn’t need to answer anyone. On the other hand, a private defense organization cannot act in haste. Any private defense organization will have to consider the cost of its actions. In case of such a conflict, neither the private defense organization of Mr. Smith, nor that of Mr. Jones will prefer to go to war because engaging in war will be extremely expensive for them and those expenses will have to be paid by those defense agencies. Obviously, both of these private defense organizations will prefer a peaceful path to solve the issue while earning more profit. Remember, the incentive of an organized monopoly of government will be to establish its power over others for which, initiating violence is necessary, on the other hand, the incentive of a private defense agency in an anarcho-capitalistic or voluntaryist society will be exactly opposite, it will be profit making, or reducing the cost of providing the service. For making more profits and reducing the cost of service provision, it is necessary for both of these private defense organizations to avoid any violent situation but to solve any such issue peacefully, rationally, and in an honest manner.
There is another issue for this, in case of any private defense organization; another incentive for the organization will be to attract more and more consumers subscribing for its protective services. It is a known fact that a free individual, a consumer will prefer to subscribe for the cheapest, most honest, and least violent private defense organization working in alignment with Non-aggression principle. This is because of the reason that ultimately, any such organization will charge all the costs incurred in protection and justice provision to their customers. So, the customers of least violent, most honest, and just private defense organization will gather more customers. In order to entice more customers and hence more profits, every private defense organization of a society working in a geographic region will try its best to be peaceful, just, honest, able, and effective in maintaining peace, order, and protection of their citizens. In case of government holding monopoly over violence, government doesn’t need to restrict usage of violence because the citizens will have no alternative, they cannot go anywhere, and they are forced to pay taxes.
This question was actually raised in a Facebook Group by a statist who wanted to establish that Anarcho-capitalism is a fraudulent concept. I offered him some links (including that of Roderick T. Long) to read and remove his doubts about it, but he denied accepting any link and demanded to answer him right in that thread of debate in my words. While I did so, he simply ignored it and kept suggesting that minarchy for maintaining law enforcement is necessary, an organized army is necessary. When I pointed out that a government monopoly over violence will tend corruption and further government, he denounced me and said that it required vigilance, he again paraphrased Thomas Jefferson and said, “Eternal vigilance is the price for liberty.”
It is not very difficult to rationally establish why it is impossible to maintain eternal vigilance against the government in a minarchy and why a minimal government in a miniarchy will ultimately turn into a big coercive totalitarian government. It is also very easy to rationally establish that the only system in which eternal vigilance to confirm individual freedom is possible is that of Anarcho-capitalism, voluntaryism, or system of competitive governments. I will take on the issue of vigilance in my next post. I won’t say that Anarcho-capitalism is perfect system that can solve the never-ending issues of human society, however, it is not a closed alley, it is always improving and in current situation, it is most rational and best theory to provide all basic solutions for humans who have utmost love for individual liberty.
- “The Nature of Government,” from The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand [↩]
- The question is: what’s likely? Which is likelier to settle its disputes through violence: a government or a private protection agency? Well, the difference is that private protection agencies have to bear the costs of their own decisions to go to war. Going to war is expensive. If you have a choice between two protection agencies, and one solves its disputes through violence most of the time, and the other one solves its disputes through arbitration most of the time — now, you might think, “I want the one that solves its disputes through violence — that’s sounds really cool!” But then you look at your monthly premiums. And you think, well, how committed are you to this Viking mentality? Now, you might be so committed to the Viking mentality that you’re willing to pay for it; but still, it is more expensive. A lot of customers are going to say, “I want to go to one that doesn’t charge all this extra amount for the violence.” Whereas, governments — first of all, they’ve got captive customers, they can’t go anywhere else — but since they’re taxing the customers anyway, and so the customers don’t have the option to switch to a different agency. And so, governments can externalize the costs of their going to war much more effectively than private agencies can., Libertarian Anarchism, Responses to 10 Objections by Roderick T. Long [↩]