Category Archives: Ideologies (Minimal-Statism)

The proper functions of governance


I haven’t been writing much new “serious” stuff lately. This is mainly because I’ve been going over what I’ve written in the last couple of years, trying to fix some inconsistencies and clarify things that didn’t come over quite right. In the process, I’ve written six new, or substantially revised, sections. I’ll try to publish them over the next week or so. Here’s the first.

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The first step towards solving the political problems we face today, I think, must be to understand what the valid functions of government (or, as I prefer to call it, governance) actually are. In my view, proper governance has a total of six functions; three principal and three subsidiary.

The first function of governance is to maintain peace. This includes the defence of the governed against external attack or internal violence.

The second function of governance is to deliver justice. This function includes the just resolution of disputes. Justice, as I put forward earlier, is the condition in which every individual, over the long term, in the round and as far as practicable, is treated as he or she treats others. And governance must be fair, objective and meticulous in all its decisions.

The third function of governance is defence of the rights of those who respect others’ rights. Those rights, as I discussed earlier, include fundamental rights like life, property and privacy; and rights of non-impedance, such as freedom of speech, religion and association.

All these three principal functions of governance can be seen as different aspects of a single whole. Namely, the delivery of peace and justice to all individuals.

There are further functions of governance which, while not as important as the first three, are nevertheless necessities. The fourth is co-ordination of the building of infrastructure. This is needed because, although infrastructure must be created and maintained at the local level, some degree of co-ordination is required to ensure that the infrastructure forms a coherent whole. For example, that a new road doesn’t suddenly dead-end at some arbitrary community border. But these functions must always be delivered and paid for in a way that is just towards every individual.

The fifth function is the maintenance of good relations with other, friendly communities.

The sixth and final function of governance is quality control of itself. It must maintain a constant ethical watch on the actions of governance as a whole, and of the individuals who constitute it. It must assure that the functions of governance are being performed as they should be. That those whose job is to maintain peace are indeed doing so to the best of their abilities. That the justice system is, and remains, just, objective and fair to everyone. That no-one in governance violates the rights of innocent people. That any decisions governance needs to make on behalf of those under it are made objectively, fairly, and taking into account the costs and benefits to every individual or group. And that governance – including the quality assurance function! – keeps meticulous and publicly accessible audit trails of all it does, and of the reasons behind every decision it makes.

In my view, these six are the valid functions, and the only valid functions, of governance. It is not a function of governance to impose any particular political or religious ideology. It is not a function of governance to try to cure perceived social ills. It is not a function of governance to pick winners and losers, or to re-distribute wealth from one group of people to another. And it is not a function of governance to provide education, or insurance, or any other good or service which can be effectively provided by individuals and groups in the free market.

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Whodunit? Who “Meddled” With “Our Democracy”? (Part 1)


By ilana mercer

Republicans have revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) treats Americans not as citizens, but as subjects to spy on. I’d expect nothing less from a Court created and perpetuated by George W. Bush and his Republicans.

But, what do you know? Following Barack Obama’s lead, President Donald Trump and his Republicans have renewed FISA Section 702, which, in fact, has facilitated the usurpations the same representatives are currently denouncing.

Also in contravention of a quaint constitutional relic called the Fourth Amendment is Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller has taken possession of “many tens of thousands of emails from President Donald Trump’s transition team.” There is no limit, seemingly, to the power of the special counsel.

Look, we’re living in a post-Constitutional America. Complaints about the damage done to our “democracy” by outsiders are worse than silly. Such damage pales compared to what we Americans have done to a compact rooted in the consent of the governed and the drastically limited and delimited powers of those who govern.

In other words, a republic. Ours was never a country conceived as a democracy.

To arrive at a democracy, we Americans destroyed a republic.

The destruction is on display daily.

Pray tell where-oh-where in the US Constitution does it say that anyone crossing over into the US may demand and get an abortion? But apparently, this is settled law—a universally upheld right, irrespective of whose property and territory it impinges.

The only aspect our clodhopper media—left and right—deign to debate in such abortion-tourism cases is the interloper’s global reproductive rights. So, if abortion is a service Americans must render to the world, why not the right to a colonoscopy or a facelift?

Cannabis: The reason it’s not in the Constitution is because letting states and individuals decide is in the Constitution. That thing of beauty is called the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

That’s right. In American federalism, the rights of the individual were meant to be secured through strict limits imposed on the power of the central government by a Bill of Rights and the division of authority between autonomous states and a federal government. Yet on cannabis, the meager constitutional devolution of power away from the Federales and to states and individuals Republicans have reversed. Some are even prattling about a constitutional cannabis amendment, as if there’s a need for further “constitutional” centralization of authority.

After 230 years of just such “constitutional” consolidation, it’s safe to say that the original Constitution is a dead letter; that the natural- and common law traditions, once lodestars for lawmakers, have been buried under the rubble of legislation and statute that would fill an entire building floor. However much one shovels the muck of lawmaking aside, natural justice and the Founders’ original intent remain buried too deep to exhume.

Consider: America’s Constitution makers bequeathed a central government of delegated and enumerated powers. The Constitution gives Congress only some eighteen specific legislative powers. Nowhere among these powers is Social Security, civil rights (predicated as they are on grotesque violations of property rights), Medicare, Medicaid, and the elaborate public works sprung from the General Welfare and Interstate Commerce Clauses.

The welfare clause stipulates that “Congress will have the power … to provide for the general welfare.” And even though the general clause is followed by a detailed enumeration of the limited powers so delegated; our overlords, over decades of dirigisme, have taken Article I, Section 8 to mean that government can pick The People’s pockets for any perceivable purpose and project. Witness a judiciary of scurrilous statists that had even found in the Constitution a mandate to compel commerce by forcing individual Americans to purchase health insurance on pains of a fine, an act of force President Trump has mercifully repealed.

So you see, Rachel Maddow, it’s not the Republicans who’ve ruined our system. Sean Hannity, it’s not the Democrats. It’s not even “the Russians.”

At root, they all did. It happened over time and is a fait accompli. The reality today is that there’s simply no warrant in the Constitution for most of what the Federal Frankenstein does.

 

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016) & “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube.

The Manifesto of the Live and Let Live Party


(Author’s Note: Tom Rogers recently made a comment, on a thread about the forthcoming UK election, asking for “plausible and realistic ideas that can be put into action and that will appeal to ordinary working people.” Despite my strong aversion to politics as it exists today, and to politicians of all stripes and all parties, I thought it might be good to set down my best stab at exactly that. Hence this draft outline of a “party manifesto,” intended to spark thought and discussion.

I thought of several possible names for the party – the Good People’s Party, the Sanity Party, the Peace and Justice Party, perhaps even the Zero Agenda Party. But I eventually settled on the “Live and Let Live Party.”)

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Good Governance – Part 2: The Area of Good Governance


This is the second part of a two part essay on good governance. You can find the first part at [4].

For brevity, I’m going to invent an acronym: “AGG” for Area of Good Governance. An AGG is a jurisdiction which has acquired, or is in the process of acquiring, good governance. That is to say, a region of the world, in which the political state has been or is being dismantled. And in which that state has been, or is being, replaced by governance which maintains peace, defends the rights of civilized people, justly resolves disputes, and does no more.

Some may dismiss the ideas I put forward here as Utopian. To them, I say: No radical idea can be realized, until it has been communicated to those who stand to benefit from it. And no vision can be passed on to anyone, unless it has first been articulated. That is my purpose today; to offer, as best I can, my vision of how an AGG might be constructed. Read more

Good Governance – Part 1: The functions of good governance


A few months ago, I published an essay titled “Rights and Obligations” [1]. There, I sought to develop a list of obligations of civilized people towards others of their kind, and the rights which flow from them. More recently, in “Conviviality” [2] I tried, building on the ideas of Frank van Dun and Hans-Hermann Hoppe, to sketch how it might be possible for civilized people to live together, and to resolve their disputes, without any need for a state or a “sovereign.”

This is the third essay in the series. It’s in two parts, published separately. Part 1 looks at what such a system of minimal government ought to do, and gives a list of things it must not do. And in part 2, I’ll try to suggest some ingredients, and perhaps even some recipes, for better government. “The Minarchist’s Cookbook,” if you will. Read more

Neoliberalism and its Intellectual Forebears: Friend or Foe?


Neoliberalism and its Intellectual Forebears: Friend or Foe? An Insight into Critics of the Modern Neoliberal State vs. its Ideological Roots

Joey Simnett (2016)

Abstract

The political economy of classical liberalism, or libertarianism, as personified by thinkers such as Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, is seen as the bedrock of neoliberalism. Their philosophy of an impartial state and the use of markets as social institutions to direct economic activity has strong parallels with the rhetoric of political movements that initiated the transition away from the post-war consensus. This has generated much controversy, with political critics from both left and right commenting on the effects of this allegedly free market consensus. However, the relationship between neoliberalism and its ideological roots is not so clear. This paper argues that, far from the free market picture of society that critics paint, the state of contemporary affairs deviates considerably from the vision of its intellectual predecessors, and thus the criticisms levelled at neoliberalism as endemic of a failure in free market theory are misguided. This is achieved by strictly defining the ideological vision of Hayek, Friedman et al. and comparing it with heavily criticised ‘crises of neoliberalism’ to highlight a fundamental departure from the principles that they value, and show neoliberalism to be fundamentally of a different character that its critics portray it to be.   Read more

In Praise of John Stuart Mill


On the 17th May 2016, Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, gave a lecture in London on John Stuart Mill. Topics covered: defence of freedom of speech; dangers of government intervention in society; no “tyranny of the majority;” problems with “harm principle;” in praise of aristocratic government.

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