February 06, 2004

…crasez toutes les autres inf‚mes!

Posted by Curt at 02:55 PM in Ramblings | TrackBack

Recent postings on anti-trust law have set me to thinking, as is my wont, in a very unhinged way. My brother claims below that a definition on the part of the government as to what constitutes fair competition and an open market is a real travesty of arbitrary imposition on business. But it would seem to me that our real national problem (or perhaps global problem) is not that markets are being forced open by the government but that the government is itself the grandest of violators of the principle of openness and competition. It seems to me furthermore that it is due to a lack of real contemplation of these concepts which leads to an expansion of governmental mandate into so many areas of social life. The social contract is clearly an absurdity, a farce, a delusion. Were we the least bit serious about the issue, no one would be a citizen save those who actually do sign a contract, put themselves under the jurisdiction of the law and take in the benefits that accrue to them from it (an agreement, by the way, which they ought to be allowed to dispense with whensoever they choose to), and hence children, for example, would not be considered citizens of a nation, though they ought to be granted the benefits of citizenship until they may decide whether they wish to carry on so. This constitutes my response to the grave failing of all political philosophy, which is the impossibility of true choice. Every government appropriates total control of a certain piece of the earth, and while one I suppose has the choice of leaving one to submit oneself to the authority of another, there is no such thing as true autonomy. Don’t come to me with objections as to whether the children of non-citizens would be included within a government’s purview or not, or whether restrictions should limit economic interaction between citizens and non-citizens—these can only be the objections of a compromised partisan, not of a truly reflective mind. All this cavilling is about only subsidiary issues—the real choice must be whether one wishes to submit oneself to the Mandate of Heaven or not. But of course this is all a delusion on my part—no one, not even the founding fathers, really believed a fig in the social contract; it was all a land grab of the spirit, and the greatest coup of all was in convincing so many people in the reality of the social contract, that they themselves had chosen to live in such a way—which I suppose they actually have, but not consciously and not seriously.


I very highly recommend reading "this essay":http://www.blackcrayon.com/page.jsp/library/tucker/tucker2.htm by Benjamin Tucker. His thesis is that only by universal competition can justice be achieved. I think it's valuable because it is definitively _not_ yet another dogmatic capitalist tract (in fact, Tucker identifies himself as a socialist, though most modern thinkers who mention him at all place him in the "individualist anarchist" category).

Also, you might want to look into _Starship Troopers_, by Heinlein (yes, I know the movie was terrible), because it's a fun, but insightful, look into the sort of voluntary citizenship scheme you're talking about.

Posted by: shonk at February 6, 2004 03:19 PM

Please note that in, _Starship Troopers_ the primary benefits of citizenship were voting and the warm fuzzy feeling of protecting your tribe. The non-citizens were bound by the same rules and regulations as the citizens.

I judge Neal Stephenson's _Snow Crash_ to be a better portrait of voluntary citizenship. And a more entertaining book, to boot.

Posted by: John Lopez at February 6, 2004 11:09 PM

You're quite right. _Troopers_ was the first that came to mind, but _Snow Crash_ is probably a better example. Actually _The Diamond Age_, also by Stephenson, is an even more-developed extrapolation of the idea of competitive "government" (among many other things).

Posted by: shonk at February 7, 2004 12:59 AM

However, it must be remembered that I do not ever suggest that such a scheme ever would or could come about, because I know well that the greater part of humanity would allow the parasitic "we" to infest their discourse when the mouths of government phrase the question thus: "shall we allow citizens to live outside the law?" instead of how it should be formulated: "Shall I, as a human being, submit myself to domination?" Thus, I am no idealist in regards to the modes of power.

Posted by: Curt at February 7, 2004 11:46 AM