Monday, October 31, 2016

"The most dangerous superstition" by Larken Rose: a retort

An anarchist friend of mine highly recommended the book "The Most Dangerous Superstition" by Larken Rose.
This will be a difficult argument to make because we live in a world with so much ignorance concerning rhetoric and law that few are able to work around the numerous pitfalls we all face.
I believe Larkin's definition of "Authority" is more accurately termed "Unlawful Authority".  The concept of lawfulness is something we have lost almost entirely.

So let me try to describe a lawful form of "Authority" first.

I believe there are only two types of lawful authority:

  1. External Lawful Authority - the authority derived from the simple maxim of law that states "The Creator is greater than the Created".  This defines private property.
  2. Internal Lawful Authority - the authority derived from a promise.
To understand External Lawful Authority, one must accept the primary maxim that some intelligent and powerful force or person created all that we see.  If this is not accepted, there simply is no basis for External Authority.  Specifically, External Lawful Authority is derived from the Torah laws from God himself - or you could call it the natural morality written on men's hearts.  If you don't except the concept of a creator and you don't accept his right to make the rules for what he made, then you will never be able to justify private property or the maxim that gives us External Lawful Authority because it must come from a creator to be self-consistent.

To understand Internal Lawful Authority, one must simply agree that promises are worthless unless they are kept.  This is actually derived from External Lawful Authority because we accept that God keeps his promises and thus so should we.

If you don't except either of the above premises, you can stop reading here.  There is nothing I or anyone else can say to convince you that any kind of "Authority" is legitimate.  But before you leave this blog article, consider what mankind will have if a promise need not be kept and private property doesn't exist.  This is the anarchy people fear and it is precisely these two things that civilization, even a small clan, cannot exist without.  I doubt even Larken would oppose private property or keeping promises as these are the foundations of what his Utopian idea of anarchy would use to operate.

So lets build on this a bit with some basic examples:

Parent-Child Authority

Clearly the parents are the direct creators of the life of their children.  They are not the ultimate cause, as this gift of reproduction was given to them by their creators and on up the generations to the first man who was created by ???.  A baby clearly does not have the ability to even survive without someone around to feed, clothe, nurture, house and otherwise take care of it.  This parent-child relationship is probably the most obvious, most universal example of external lawful authority one can find.  It even translates to the birds and the bees.  Only in the case of cell division or parasitical reproduction is the child immediately an independent and fully responsible being with no dependencies on its creator.
Though our current society would like to pervert this into the extreme opposite of "reproductive rights" the consequence of doing this for all people is extinction.  If one values death over life then one would not want external lawful authority to exist.

Private Property

My body is under the sole authority of my mind and spirit.  My will is exercised by invoking neural commands to my body to perform actions that effect my world.  Without this ability to exert my will unhindered upon my body I would instantly die (from not breathing among many other possible causes).  When one exerts labor to create a tool of any kind or to secure a resource, this extends my control beyond my body to whatever it was I created or secured.  This is very simple until two people both want the same resource.  This is where property rights end and where some external collective structure is needed to decide who gets the resource.  Without such a collective structure, violence or complete dominance of one party is almost assured.  
Larken would argue this is not true.  That the collective structure is far more prone to exert violence than the two parties trying to control the resource.  
How ever the collective structure determines who gets what, there needs to be some kind of enforcement of the decision, else the contest for dominance simply continues with another challenge or one party clearly dominates, not by right but by might.  How ever you color it, the stronger party wins, and the more a stronger party wins, the stronger that party gets, till you eventually have a single party with all the power and everyone else his slave.  This is what happens when you have no government (collective structure) to decide and enforce such things.  War becomes a constant at all levels.
This is what makes government such a useful servant but a fearful master.  The collective structure must have enough power to do its job and no more.  It must constantly be watched to prevent its growth outside of the desired limits - this is exactly what the founders of our constitution understood.
They were, however, faced with the same kinds of wrong ideas that Larken points out in his book. I agree with Larken that the acceptance of unlawful authority is a very true bane to freedom and keeping this collective structure useful.  Those that have given some thought to the maxims of law will understand how we can create and maintain such a proper level of government and not get burned.
We lost control of our government probably within 20 years of its creation in the United States.  It is now so far out of its box it does not resemble the servant blessing our fathers gave to their posterity. This happens so quickly because of the maxim that all men are naturally evil - something most atheists and Larken don't accept.
Without an external collective structure there is no way to keep any boundary in place or to have private property without violence or at least the immediate threat of violence.  Larken would say that this is fine - and it is true with or without government, but limited government minimizes violence when restricted to lawful authority. See my articles on this blog on the Micro Republic/Jury governance for one possible solution to this very difficult problem.

The Contract

This is simply the structure of a pair of promises.  Lets say I have a fence that needs to be built and I hire someone to built it.  I obtain the materials needed (through other contracts of course) and my worker agrees with me on an exchange of his labor for a price.  
The promise is in place but not yet consummated.  We have expectations accurately set but not yet met.  This is the precarious situation that determines how strong a civilization can be.  If the character communication skills, and integrity of the parties is strong, the odds are very high that the promise will be consummated completely by both sides and the transaction completed within a short period of time without even the threat of violence.  The longer the time period of this precarious situation, the lower the probability is that it will be completed.  If one side of the transaction is completed, the longer the time is that the other side is completed also increases the probability that the entire transaction will not complete.  When we have a half-breach of a promise we have a damaged party to deal with.
Presumably, such a promise is made with an eye to a win-win situation, where both parties benefit from the transaction, otherwise why would such a contract be created in the first place?  Thus, most contracts will result in the production of wealth overall and this is how society grows.
If no transaction is ever completed within a society, that society simply does not exist.  It is a collection of isolated individuals working independently and from scratch on every goal they may have.  It is near impossible for a person to live on this earth without any cooperation from someone else for very long.  Thus, such a society would be extremely likely to be dead in a short period of time if it didn't make and honor its promises.
The bigger the promise the harder it is to keep and large societies depend regularly on huge promises being kept all the time.
During this intermediate period of time, we have a lawful internal authority of each party upon the other to perform what they promised to do and when they promised to do it.  Recognizing this authority as a society strengthens every contract made and thus the society itself - simply by peer pressure.  This universal authority of the promise is what authorizes the use of force by others if necessary - it is in a real sense, a self-defense right of the society to enforce the promise and thus support its own existence.
Now governments almost always get in the middle of this and extort fees, taxes, regulate what promises can be made, and generally interfere with this whole process that creates wealth for society.
Our constitution holds the right to contract as an absolute right - which has been violated almost constantly even before the ink was dry - but is really the core of social progress and the most precious right we can have.  All other rights derive from the right to contract.
As a side note, our constitution created a limited government and the ratification of the people of the constitution was evidence of the consent to the contract - but the minute government breaks one tiny piece of that contract - the whole promise is broken.  This we have failed to realize, rather wanting to keep things as they are (recall this point in the declaration of independence) we allowed the promise to degrade over time into the despotic socialist empire we have today.  Really, the minute government breaks any of the requirements of its constitution, is the minute it must be considered to no longer exist lawfully and thus a new one must be made to take its place immediately or the offence corrected and its re-occurrence made more difficult by adjustment of the system.  We in fact live in a de-facto rather than a de-jure world so lets not condemn the entire idea of government simply because this is so today.

Punishment by incarceration is not useful

We have a very confused idea that somehow incarceration is the way to correct behavior to prevent future crime or to isolate an offender to protect society.  This doesn't work because it is itself a crime against society because it creates a burden with no compensation to those paying the bills to execute incarceration.  It is an unlawful form of punishment on its face.
I have written in this blog about two types of punishment that actually solve the problem - restitution and death (or exile) of the offender.  Restitution attempts to "right" a wrong by compensation - and this must be compensation that satisfies the victim.  It must be sufficient that the victim is happy to repeat receiving the offense over and over along with the compensation.  This could include indentured servitude which is sometimes necessary to fulfill this requirement for some crimes.
A crime, by the way, is a contract broken by one party to the agreement.
Death or exile simply removes the offender from the society so it cannot cause more harm.  This is less desired than restitution but nevertheless is a legitimate solution for crimes that simply cannot be restored by compensation. It is also a very strong behavior modifier in itself.  This would be the point of violence by a lawful authority over another party without their consent that Larken so detests.  It is only lawful to do such violence when restitution cannot be made and it must be done lawfully at all points of the process.
The common law creates a process where a conflict is resolved by allowing a "fair fight" between the parties without the need for raw violence.  This has been completely lost in our litigious society of lawyers that use unlawful tricks usually based in mala-prohibita color of law.
Remember law is not law if it was not both created and administered lawfully - and that simply boils down to not violating any contract in the process.


I heartily agree with Larkin in that unlawful authority is of no use at all.  But unlike the anarchist, I see lawful authority as absolutely necessary to the survival of mankind and thus the necessity of some government (that is lawful) is absolute - no matter how difficult it may be to create and keep one that is limited sufficiently to allow the right to contract and private property to go unhampered.
It is our abandonment of the concept of a creator that is creating this trend towards anarchy.  Without the acceptance of a universal lawful authority, society will fragment into chaos and mankind will perish.