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A Critique of the Social "Contract"


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#21 KaiserMelech Mikhail

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 07:06 AM

And there is still no such thing as statism

Wouldn't a statist just be anyone who isn't an anarchist?

#22 Freddy

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 07:32 AM

If states are mostly about coercion, why is the coercive part of the budget dwarfed by social services and medical insurance?


Welfare affects security. The idle population will protest, turn to crime and revolt if life is too miserable. Carrot and stick, both coercive.

#23 Kenadian

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 09:53 AM

Wouldn't a statist just be anyone who isn't an anarchist?


While this is a factually true statement, it doesn't change the fact that it's a rather useless pejorative like "leftists" or something of a similar nature tossed around in politics.

#24 Spideynw

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:08 AM

Alright guys, so I was bored and decided to write this. What do you think?

---------------------

Definitions

State: An institution with one (almost always both) of the following qualities: 1. Acquires income through coercion, 2. Obtains a monopoly or asserts a legal dominance over legal institutions

Statist: An advocate for a state

Anarchist: An advocate for the removal of the state

Voluntaryism: Synonym for anarchism, holds that the only ethical human interaction should be interaction which is voluntary

Contract: Voluntary agreement made between two or more parties

Voluntary Agreement: An agreement free of coercive consequences if one does not enter into the agreement (ex. if I offer to sell you my ice cream for $5, and you refuse, and I leave then the proposal was voluntary, however, if I make the same offer but threaten to shoot you in the head if you do not make the exchange, then the exchange was not voluntary)

Social Contract: A concept created by statists giving an ethical justification to the validity of the state, asserting it arises through contractual interaction between the state and its subjects


I would define a state as an organization that claims the right to rule/govern, a statist as someone that thinks states do not need express consent of the governed to rule/govern over them, and an anarchist as one that thinks states need express consent of all the governed to rule/govern them and that none of the current governments do.

Regardless, there is no social contract. It's a lie on its face. There is no government in the world that is any different from any mafia. None of them have the consent of the governed. Not moving has never been justification for committing crime. "Uh, my neighbor didn't move, so I get to steal his stuff." Yeah right.

Edited by Spideynw, 12 March 2012 - 11:34 AM.


#25 Spideynw

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:16 AM

In the anarchist utopia, what would happen if people disagreed? And they couldn't come to terms through words? Wouldn't these people eventually resort to violence to enforce their 'rights'?


What would happen in statist utopia if governments disagreed? And they couldn't come to terms through words? Wouldn't these people eventually resort to violence to enforce their 'rights' resulting in millions of people dying? Things like WWI and WWII?

#26 Freddy

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:40 AM

What would happen in statist utopia if governments disagreed? And they couldn't come to terms through words? Wouldn't these people eventually resort to violence to enforce their 'rights' resulting in millions of people dying? Things like WWI and WWII?


Yes. War and bad stuff. Your implication, however, is not in the same vein as mine. I implied that coercion would also be the method of control in a stateless world. The OP suggests that coercion is inherent in states, so war is a given.

As for the social contract...it is like being born into a family. Other people have made conscious choices giving the state consent. The men who fought revolutions, our ancestors who migrated, etc. We are heirs to their consent. We may withdraw our consent if we choose, but it won't be an easy choice to fulfill.

#27 Spideynw

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 12:00 PM

As for the social contract...it is like being born into a family. Other people have made conscious choices giving the state consent. The men who fought revolutions, our ancestors who migrated, etc. We are heirs to their consent. We may withdraw our consent if we choose, but it won't be an easy choice to fulfill.


First of all, how is it at all like being born into a family? Second of all, how is it ever legal for parents to bind their children to decisions they have made, besides the fact that it seems to be convenient for your argument? Third of all, is there any evidence that ALL of our forefathers agreed to the U.S. government? If not, then those that did not agree to it do not have any agreements to pass down to their children.

The way I see it, some people wrote up a document, called it a Constitution, asked the current government officials to approve it, and they voted, and it got approved. These people that voted on it, also got into their positions by winning popularity contests. Do you think popularity contests give people the right to rule over others? If you say yes, I will call you out on it, because if I hold a popularity contest between me, you, and my friend, and I win, I guarantee you that you will not recognize my right to rule over you. And as such, since popularity contests do not give someone the right to rule, that means those that voted on the Constitution had no just authority, which means the Constitution has no just authority. A thought experiment for you, if we currently had no governments on the planet, how would you go about setting up a legitimate government?

Lastly, when was consent ever given so that it needs to be withdrawn?

Edited by Spideynw, 12 March 2012 - 12:31 PM.


#28 KainIIIC

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 12:05 PM

Yes. War and bad stuff. Your implication, however, is not in the same vein as mine. I implied that coercion would also be the method of control in a stateless world. The OP suggests that coercion is inherent in states, so war is a given.

As for the social contract...it is like being born into a family. Other people have made conscious choices giving the state consent. The men who fought revolutions, our ancestors who migrated, etc. We are heirs to their consent. We may withdraw our consent if we choose, but it won't be an easy choice to fulfill.


I view citizenship as your social contract. Renouncing your citizenship and moving with your feet kind of determines whether or not you're consenting to it. Similar to how you can move to different states if you don't like California or Alabama's laws. Of course it's not that easy, but who said it was? That's why Rousseau would argue for the state to govern on behalf of the general will :P

#29 Spideynw

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 12:30 PM

I view citizenship as your social contract. Renouncing your citizenship and moving with your feet kind of determines whether or not you're consenting to it. Similar to how you can move to different states if you don't like California or Alabama's laws. Of course it's not that easy, but who said it was? That's why Rousseau would argue for the state to govern on behalf of the general will :P


I never applied for citizenship, so how does that make it a contract? Also, when was the last time not moving was justification for extortion? For example, can you tell your neighbor if they don't move that you will take their car, and when they don't move, you now get to take their car?

#30 Hereno

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 03:22 PM

I never applied for citizenship, so how does that make it a contract? Also, when was the last time not moving was justification for extortion? For example, can you tell your neighbor if they don't move that you will take their car, and when they don't move, you now get to take their car?


Not moving is a perfect justification for extortion. What do you think happens if you go on private property that isn't yours? Hell, what do you think happens when you have a land lord? Little do you realize that when there isn't any state and everything is private property, you're still going to be stuck abiding by someone else's rules if you intend to respect their property rights. Ergo, feudalism.

#31 Freddy

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 03:33 PM

Yay! Feudalism! :awsm:

#32 Zarfef

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 04:22 PM

I have some suggestions for definitions according to my own views ;).

Definitions

State: A abstract creation of men developed for the purposes of setting up a well-defined social structure among men and women and to act as a leveraging tool to aid in the acquisition of ends through mass action by means of belief.

Statist: A) An individual that strongly supports the need for the state at all costs. Tends to be used in an insulting mannerism because of it's association with nationalism and totalitarianism, which contributed to much human suffering during the first half of the 20th century. Very few people argue for these governments today and none of these individuals exist in the Boiler Room to my current understanding. However, the Republicans would say the Democrats most certainly do, while the Democrats would claim the Republican's most certainly do - both have a point, but neither are entirely correct.

Patriot An individual supporting the existence of their state for the purposes of perceived positive ends - typically associated with a feeling of patriotism, or a strong positive feeling about the prospects of a given well-defined social structure and it's goals through the act of leveraging the state as a tool for these ends. Less insulting as statist and my suggested replacement of said term because of it's negative connotations. (I also associate it with one's personal state because the support of all states rarely exists)

Anarchist: An individual strongly supporting the dissolving of the state on a personal or group-wide level. Often times used as an insulting mannerism to imply said person is a support of outright chaos and destruction, while hiding behind a political cause - e.g. why don't you just move to Somalia. Still, it has a history and most anarchists are just fine being called such, but if not, they tend to prefer the word Libertarian.

Contract: A piece of paper with words on it. A sheet of paper often times used in acts of coercion by using past words of agreement, often times written by one person and signed by the other, to insure future activities with the threat of charging them with lying in court. A mechanism by which lawyers are able to make your life a living hell if their clients can convince you that you must sign the document - like downloading a worm or trojan virus of the legal system. All persons typically have them, most would wish they could avoid most of them, but no anti-contract systems exist as much as there are anti-virus systems.

Voluntary Agreement: A statement of words that grants some idea of the future actions of the other person, motivated only by each sides own free will. The best example of this is friendship - few other examples exist of this concept today, which is a real shame.

Social Contract: An ad hoc concept with very little logical convicting power - used as a buzz word, but ultimately has no true value nor is there any proof of it's existence. Anarchists have proven they have no intention of following it and statists have shown that they are more then happy to follow along with it simply because those positions match both parties just perfectly fine and the ad hoc nature of the entire thing makes both of their positions perfectly valid for themselves but at the same time, universally meaningless.

Edited by Zarfef, 12 March 2012 - 04:32 PM.


#33 Freddy

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 04:29 PM

@ Spideynw, the social contract is like a child born into a family, because it is by someone else's choice, but we have to deal with it. The child has to follow the rules or suffer the consequences as do we. If the child (or us) can gain their independence, then great. It's easier for the child to wait to grow up. And for us to wait for death to gain freedom.

#34 Ethan Smith

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 08:33 PM

People expect modern day feudalism/libertopianism to appear in the absence of the state. But that hasn't been what's happened when we look at pre-state and failed state societies. Instead, people tend to default to the most hierarchical of institutions

THE FAMILY

#35 Zarfef

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 09:07 PM

People expect modern day feudalism/libertopianism to appear in the absence of the state. But that hasn't been what's happened when we look at pre-state and failed state societies. Instead, people tend to default to the most hierarchical of institutions

THE FAMILY


That's a natural response and it makes perfect sense - but I neither consider family to be an institution nor is the most hierarchical necessarily. Family isn't an artificial construct, it's genetically ingrained in human beings, whereas civilization is not. If this were otherwise, we wouldn't need laws, it would biologically come naturally to us - instead, we had to create complex ethics systems and in recent times legal systems that seemingly have no rhyme or reason to their existence. In the end though, families and friendships (both of which I postulate would continue just fine in these environments) are both relationships of free association. Outside of the host of laws that now govern family life here in the US these relationships have existed since humans first came into existence and they will continue long after - of course, remove the other large hierarchical structures of organized religion and government and you'll have a plethora of human relationships as far as the mind can imagine to fit the need of the day.

But that does make more sense then these communities being run by corporations or businesses, the structures are too artificial and inhuman to act in this mannerism. When the unnatural forces are removed of their power, the natural biological ones will replace them - but then again, that's how we were designed to be - otherwise, like I've noted, things would be different. The current system is artificial, sometimes for better, other times for worse and we don't ask if the changes made benefit humanity, but rather whether the changes will best benefit ourselves and especially our financial situations.

At the end of it all, if mankind's greed won out, we would be extinct, the last of us executed as a brilliant business merger to advance a self-aware currency - stocks that day would rise by 0.02% and a digital cheer would ring out in the streets as gold was deposited into several pyramids made of solid diamond, which held the wealthiest of the land.

#36 Freddy

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 10:25 PM

What I really take from this is is there a way to eliminate the need for conflict? If there were no scarcity, no politics, no mental illness...if every cause for conflict could be removed, what would society be like?

#37 Mesteut

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 10:40 PM

That's some hilarious revisionism you got there. And there is still no such thing as statism

There is. It is one of the 6 arrows of Kemalism.
It is, however, irrelevant to the discussion.

Damsky, a contract was not necessarily voluntary when the social contract theory was first put out. Contracts are, in practice, agreements that are valid. But of course, you can ignore that and bask in your own delusion.

#38 AnCapistan

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:03 PM

Both. The state is merely the biggest private security firm. Unless your use of -ism was very deliberate. I'm too practical to dream of pie in the sky.

I agree 100% with your perceived problem of the state: coercion. But I don't believe your solution is realistic.


The only solution to coercion can be to stop coercing.

I alluded to both the wiki term and my term to be correct ;)


Okay, but for purpose of building a constructive dialogue, let's use mine. Okay?

eh, various quotes by a LOT of different scholars throughout time, take Keynes for example, could be construed in a way to completely misrepresent their theory (Like Keynes' quote on never to debauch your currency - but then later saying that he prefers inflation over deflation). Those quotes would be much more interesting in the context of the sentences that came before and after it. And even if there is minor contradiction or evolution in thought or theories, that doesn't disregard what Rousseau ultimately said and argued about the Social Contract itself and shouldn't in any way disqualify it.


Which, for the umpteenth, I did not make the case that this "discredits" all Rousseau's theories, just the social contract. Since those ideas are what he built his idea of the justice of the state upon, then the revelation that those ideas logically lead us to anarchy and not statism invalidates his arguments.

Do you think Mises should be completely discredited because of his funky view of women?


I want to thank you. Seriously, I do. You've managed to bring up a critique of Mises that I had not heard of before. It is far better than the usual ignorant drivel of "Mises was a fascist".

That being said, I'm not so sure why you find Mises' view so frightening. Had you read the article that Corey Robin references (the Brian Doherty one, which he doesn't even bother to address the core of the argument) you'd have seen that Mises has said this:

"Those fighting birth control want to eliminate a device indispensable for the preservation of peaceful human cooperation and the social division of labor. Where the average standard of living is impaired by the excessive increase in population figures. irreconcilable conflicts of interests arise. Each individual is again a rival of all other individuals in the struggle for survival. The annihilation of rivals is the only means of increasing one's own well-being. The philosophers and theologians who assert that birthcontrol is contrary to the laws of God and Nature refuse to see things as they really are. Nature straitens the material means required for the improvement of human well-being and survival. As natural conditions are, man has only the choice between the pitiless war of each against each or social cooperation. But social cooperation is impossible if people give rein to the natural impulse of proliferation. In restricting procreation man adjusts himself to the natural conditions of his existence. The rationalization of the sexual passions is an indispensable condition of civilization and societal bonds. Its abandonment would in the long run not increase but decrease the numbers of those surviving, and would render life for everyone as poor and miserable as it was many thousands of years ago for our ancestors."

"So far as Feminism seeks to adjust the legal position of woman to that of man, so far as it seeks to offer her legal and economic freedom to develop and act in accordance with her inclinations, desires, and economic circumstances—so far it is nothing more than a branch of the great liberal movement, which advocates peaceful and free evolution. "

Is it possible that by what Mises meant by free love was not as we believe it to be today, but a program of state control of children and state-granted privileges giving consequence free sex?

derp wars! well at least they're alive and not a disappearance like all anarchical societies inevitably lead to :P


I'm pretty sure that the 262,000,000 are indeed dead and not alive.

The rest of your statement is just pure conjecture based upon the same flawed Hobbesian ideas.

edit: I also agree with Freddy: The state is the highest security firm, and also the one who executes the rule of law and/or arbitrage.


An obfuscation of terms. The state is not a business.

[1] I find it interesting that the Ancap theory of states follows the same lines of thought as the authoritarian theory of states.

[2] If states are mostly about coercion, why is the coercive part of the budget dwarfed by social services and medical insurance?


1. Care to elaborate?

2. And how to states finance their social services and medical insurance. Voluntary consent?

#39 AnCapistan

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:03 PM

That's some hilarious revisionism you got there. And there is still no such thing as statism


Elaborate on both of those statements please. I was unaware I was engaging in any sort of revisionism and I'm pretty sure I have decisively proved that statism is a real term and applies to all those who desire some form of the state.

Wouldn't a statist just be anyone who isn't an anarchist?


Correct.

While this is a factually true statement, it doesn't change the fact that it's a rather useless pejorative like "leftists" or something of a similar nature tossed around in politics.


I did not mean it to be a pejorative. It was simply used to describe all those desiring a state. Can you offer a better term?

Not moving is a perfect justification for extortion. What do you think happens if you go on private property that isn't yours? Hell, what do you think happens when you have a land lord? Little do you realize that when there isn't any state and everything is private property, you're still going to be stuck abiding by someone else's rules if you intend to respect their property rights. Ergo, feudalism.


I think you need to provide a definition of feudalism for us, because I do not see how what you described what feudalism. Also, you should make a distinction between the private property of the state and the private property of people acquiring that property through voluntary exchange.

Damsky, a contract was not necessarily voluntary when the social contract theory was first put out. Contracts are, in practice, agreements that are valid. But of course, you can ignore that and bask in your own delusion.



A contract is by definition voluntary. You can use whatever religious logic you want to justify the fallacy that "involuntary contract" isn't a flagrant oxymoron, but that doesn't change the facts.

And please, I'm hardly delusional. At least, one displays less delusion by believing that some invisible unilateral "contract", that justifies people being thrown in prison because they did not wish to pay their muggers, is completely invalid an unethical.

Edited by Mr Damsky, 12 March 2012 - 11:15 PM.


#40 Freddy

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:25 PM

How many non coercing people do you think I would have to whip to build a pyramid?

Government is definitely a business. It employs people, it provides services, builds stuff and collects money for it.




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