A recent variant of anarchistic theory, which is befuddling some of the younger advocates of freedom, is a weird absurdity called “competing governments.” Accepting the basic premise of the modern statists—who see no difference between the functions of government and the functions of industry, between force and production, and who advocate government ownership of business—the proponents of “competing governments” take the other side of the same coin and declare that since competition is so beneficial to business, it should also be applied to government. Instead of a single, monopolistic government, they declare, there should be a number of different governments in the same geographical area, competing for the allegiance of individual citizens, with every citizen free to “shop” and to patronize whatever government he chooses.
Remember that forcible restraint of men is the only service a government has to offer. Ask yourself what a competition in forcible restraint would have to mean.
One cannot call this theory a contradiction in terms, since it is obviously devoid of any understanding of the terms “competition” and “government.” Nor can one call it a floating abstraction, since it is devoid of any contact with or reference to reality and cannot be concretized at all, not even roughly or approximately. One illustration will be sufficient: 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? You take it from there.
Ayn Rand doesn't finish her argument. She tells us to take it from there. Where does Objectivism provide a full explanation?
There already are competing governments, e.g. the U.S. and Israeli governments. They already deal with conflicts like this. A U.S. citizen claims an Israeli citizen stole from him. The result is not a gun fight. Even today's governments are smarter than that. They have some non-violent methods of resolving conflicts with each other. Anarchist competing governments could also have some non-violent methods of conflict resolution. Whatever the answer to this topic, I don't think it's obvious enough to leave unexplained.
For clarity, I want to say: there are a lot of approaches to anarchism and I do not approve of most of them. (And before anyone asks, I do not approve of libertarianism.)
Did Ayn Rand ever address anarchy fully? If not, did another Objectivist? Please tell me where to find this information. I'd also be interested if someone here has an answer, but my primary question is asking if there's any sources that already address this.
Ayn Rand ... tells us to take it from there. Where does Objectivism provide a full explanation?
Where do advocates of competing governments provide a full explanation? Competing governments means two governments having jurisdiction over the same geographical territory, with no other governmental relation or restraint over the two governments. Advocates of such a view have a lot left to explain. Ayn Rand's argument against competing governments is a reductio ad absurdum.
Note that the U.S. and Israel are not in competition in the same geographical area. If they were, the situation would be untenable until some higher-level governmental framework were created to make clear which governmental entity is responsible for what. Also consider the process by which the American colonies initially formed a loose confederation of independent states under Articles of Confederation, then transitioned to a more centralized national government under a federal constitution specifying the division of powers between the national government and the states.
answered Dec 04 '14 at 01:25
Ideas for Life ♦