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The concrete examples that prompted this question involve U.S.-based Cuban exiles accused of carrying out or plotting politically-motivated violence in Cuba (e.g., airline hijackings, bombings targeting civilians). Whether or not such accusations are true, they would normally merit investigation from the authorities. However, I am not talking just about politically-motivated violence but any bona fide crime (not "crimes against the state") allegedly committed in an unfree jurisdiction. If the alleged perpetrators are now under the authority of a semifree nation, what is the proper approach to take knowing that the suspects will not enjoy the benefits of due process if remanded to the custody of an unfree country?

asked Mar 31 '13 at 14:22

El%20Manantial's gravatar image

El Manantial

There is an ambiguity about what is meant by "crime" in this question. Without a clear definition of that term, the question of how the government of a free or semi-free country should respond cannot be answered. Does "crime" mean violating the laws of the unfree country? What if those laws themselves are improper? Does "crime" mean performing actions in an unfree country that would also be illegal in a free or semi-free country? And what is the difference between "free" and "semi-free"? Are the laws of the semi-free country necessarily valid and proper? Presumably they are not, if the country in question is only "semi-free" and not fully "free."

If the issue is initiation of physical force against others, versus using physical force in retaliation (self-defense), it can be answered by reference to the corresponding principles of Objectivism. Under a fully proper government, all initiation of physical force against others is banned, and all retaliatory use of physical force against those who initiate its use is delegated to the government (with certain specific, limited prerogatives retained by individuals in cases of immediate self-defense against imminent, direct attack). Any use of physical force by citizens and/or alien residents who are under the jurisdiction of a proper government must remain bound by the ban on private individuals and groups using physical force. If the target of the force is a foreign state, then the retaliatory use of physical force against such a state is an issue of a proper government's foreign policy toward other states, and would depend on the nature of those states (e.g., outlaw governments versus other free or semi-free states) and on the national self-interest of the retaliating state. It would not be an issue for individuals to decide on their own. For further discussion of a rational foreign policy, refer to several topics in The Ayn Rand Lexicon: "Foreign Policy," "Isolationism," "National Rights," "Self-Determination of Nations," and other related topics.

Applying these broad principles to specific situations can be very complex. The question mentions Cuban exiles living in America but plotting violence against the Cuban government and its backers. Factors to consider would include whether or not the exiles received American citizenship (or would be subject to deportation for crimes against a free country); specifically what they were plotting to do; the nature of the Cuban government; and what that implies about what free or semi-free nations should do or not do toward a government such as exists in Cuba. Ayn Rand identified Cuba as an "outlaw nation" and an enemy of the U.S., a totalitarian "slave pen" dictatorship. Except possibly in the most heinous, irrational cases, it would normally be unconscionable to hand exiled Cuban rebels over to Cuban authorities for execution or other brutal oppression. That would be a de facto act of legitimizing an outlaw government which does not merit such recognition from a free country, and which ought to be actively opposed and condemned by free and semi-free countries everywhere. Cuban exiles in the U.S. certainly can be stopped from taking retaliatory physical force into their own hands, and a free country would disavow sponsoring purely nihilistic terrorism.

answered Apr 24 '13 at 21:51

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

Yes, to be clear, by "bona fide crime" I am referring to the initiation of force or fraud. Espistemologically speaking, however, the government of the semi-free country does not yet know whether the accused is guilty. On the one hand, the accused may be denied due process in the unfree country. On the other hand, he may still be a heinous criminal. The Cuba example may be an extreme one, but I think the question would equally apply to nationals of mostly unfree countries such as Russia or China.

(Apr 28 '13 at 13:05) El Manantial El%20Manantial's gravatar image

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Asked: Mar 31 '13 at 14:22

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Last updated: Apr 28 '13 at 13:05