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There are those who cannot think of a world without some form of government. I can. I do not expect to ever see such a paradise in my lifetime. But one can dream...

What if, with your magic wand, you could wipe the slate clean? Eliminate every human-developed law (cf. laws of nature) and start with a blank sheet of paper? What would the rules of society look like? On what ethics would they be based? What motivation would participants have to follow such rules? Who would decide? Does everyone have to live among the same rules? What happens when the rules are broken?

The Physical Realm

We would likely first need to establish the necessity for rules. (Otherwise, why put forth the effort?) As we're starting from scratch, let's forget for a moment that fewer rules make for better behavior. Nature has its own rules, but is it aprioristic that humans also need man-made rules? To live or, rather, to physically sustain life, the human body requires sustenance, shelter and, in case of injury, repair. Does that mean that rules are required to physically sustain life? A human can acquire each of these physical requirements through the means of his mind and his effort. But nature's rules prevent him from doing whatever he wants to live (e.g., he can't eat tree branches and expect to survive, he can't use an igloo to solely prevent him from freezing, he can't, as a baby, feed or protect himself). He must discover nature's rules and conform as such. As long as he aligns his mind and effort with nature's rules, he can physically survive. Similarly, any misalignment will cause him to suffer injury or to perish.

It's clear that, depending on the circumstances, a person can physically sustain himself without support from other individuals. If an individual chose to do this (i.e., chose not to be part of "society" and decided not to be his "brother's keeper"), are any other rules required to be followed? I can't fathom any. For what purpose would there be to impose rules only upon yourself? None. Ergo, we can establish that an individual who chooses to live by his own means requires no adherence to human-developed rules.

It's time to accept the responsibility of choosing valid principles that don't include stealing from others.

It is only as a result of limited resources (aka scarcity) among multiple individuals who choose to live together whereby rules become a necessity to physically sustain life. For, if I catch a fish to eat, but someone else then takes that fish from me, my body will be physically injured. Likewise, if I caught the fish in a stream belonging to someone else, the owner of that stream has been injured (e.g., he won't have the fish to eat). Physical injury that is not repaired is a threat to human existence. As the adage goes, ultimately, the piper must be paid. Ergo, for individuals to live among a scarcity of resources, rules to prevent physical injury and to repair physical injury must be followed else human life cannot be sustained. By the transitive property, rules must exist to discourage and compensate for theft. By extension, rules must also exist to discourage and compensate for murder (i.e., theft of life).

But how are we to establish what is theft? Theft assumes a concept of ownership. Ergo, rules must exist to delineate what constitutes ownership, including one's own body. At its most basic level, Hans-Hermann Hoppe put it succinctly:

"Moreover, this right to property in one's own body and its standing room must be considered a priori (or indisputably) justified by proponent and opponent alike. For anyone who wanted to claim any proposition as valid vis-à-vis an opponent would already have to presuppose his and his opponent's exclusive control over their respective body and standing room simply in order to say "I claim such and such to be true, and I challenge you to prove me wrong."

To whom should these rules apply? Should following the rules be by choice? But of course - all rules are followed (or disobeyed) by choice. Choices are based on motivations of expected value. Those motivated to live will follow rules that they believe will support their lives. The rule of self-protection is the only logical motivator that promotes all other rules. It promotes the rule to discourage theft for it allows the owner to protect property with self-defense. It promotes the rule of compensation for theft as it allows the owner to take back his stolen property. It promotes the rule of ownership by establishing a basis for retaining property. In the alternate, without self-defense, all other rules are useless. Those who choose not to follow the rules can go in peace... until their irrational desires (e.g., want of the unearned) conflict with someone who subscribes to the rules - specifically, the rule of self-defense. It might sound backwards, but it is the concept of self-defense that reduces the potential for injury. Ayn Rand stated it more eloquently in her seminal work Atlas Shrugged:

"Did it ever occur to you that... there is no conflict of interests among men, neither in business nor in trade nor in their most personal desires - if they omit the irrational from their view of the possible and destruction from their view of the practical? There is no conflict, and no call for sacrifice, and no man is a threat to the aims of another - if men understand that reality is an absolute not to be faked, that lies do not work, that the unearned cannot be had, that the undeserved cannot be given, that the destruction of a value which is, will not bring value to that which isn't... But men will not cease to desire the impossible and will not lose their longing to destroy - so long as self-destruction and self-sacrifice are preached to them as the practical means of achieving the happiness of the recipients."

Though not eliminated, self-defense motivates people to avoid the irrational.

Who decides? Those who have been injured. But they won't be objective? Should they be? Sometimes, there is no remuneration for the theft of property (e.g., life in the case of murder). Is objectivity possible? Furthermore, are you so naïve or ignorant to believe that the current "justice" system provides objectivity? Will mistakes be made? Yes - man is not infallible. Are mistakes made now? Yes but, more importantly, now we have intentional falsehoods made under the auspices of "truth and justice." You might use a euphemism and refer to them as "mistakes." I refer to them as moral errors. The "theory of justice" in all of today's courts is a fraud which, as Murray Rothbard explained in his discussion about Lysander Spooner, leaves individuals powerless to defeat.

Is it not this simplistic? We have rules to establish what ownership means, we have rules to discourage and compensate for theft, and the injured individual gets to decide. Certainly, we will need to expand these rules from the abstract to more formally establish the methods to prevent, the compensation consequences, in what definitive contexts these rules apply (e.g., what are the consequences of murdering someone who tries to murder you first? Is it considered theft to copy something if the original still resides with its creator/author?), and who enforces such rules. However, any other rules would be superfluous to physically maintaining humanity. Thus, the rules to minimize the potential for physical injury and maximize the potential for physical growth can be clear-cut and limited in quantity.

The Non-Physical Realm

Life cannot be considered physical presence alone. It is in pursuit of your own happiness that provides your life's purpose. Yet, psychologists and philosophers will forever debate the mental stimulations required to make life worth living. Though their efforts are not futile and, in fact, healthy for the betterment of the human spirit (in whatever form it takes), the multitude of opinions are overshadowed by the voluminous personalities of individuals where no two are alike. Though desires can be common among many, the mind and heart's rewards can only be experienced individually.

Can morality contradict itself?

Do the same rules that foster the physical well-being of humans apply to their mental well-being? Do the pursuit of happiness and the human spirit require sustenance, shelter, and repair? Through the process of science, we can know, by fact, something to be true. Though plenty of junk science exists among psychologists and contradictory reasoning among philosophers, I think it's reasonable to conclude that the scientific process and reason have established the requirement for mental sustenance, shelter, and repair to maintain human life.

Here is where it gets messy. Whereas the rules applied to the physical realm are few and easily defined, how do you establish rules for the multitudes of personalities, desires, beliefs, and values (i.e., how do you establish rules for hurting someone's feelings)? Though you might consider it a cop-out, Ockham's Razor suggests a simple answer: you don't. There are an infinite number of rules that could apply in an infinite number of contexts, and all could vary based on the variations of opinions, beliefs, cultures, and values of the participants. It's fairly straight-forward to identify physical theft and, thus, the reparations that must be made to make the owner whole. It's nearly impossible to define the extent of mental anguish or neglect and, barring the U.S. Supreme Court's perverse "I know it when I see it" mantra, creating rules to govern the non-physical enters a realm of relativism where anything goes. Such rules, established and executed on whim, and their indeterminate and indeterminable reparations, do not support or sustain life - they merely complicate it and disillusion those for whom the rules were intended to protect. Within such a system, justification can be found by anyone to do anything. This, of course, is the painful ideology which currently exists today and, as an outcome, the morality in which government institutions fester.

But What About...

For some (most?), emotions exuding guilt will take over such reasoning. "But what about the poor people?" they will ask. "What if a child is starving?" is a likely retort. "If a man is bleeding to death but doesn't have property to pay for his medical attention, are you really going to look the other way?" they will demand. "It is government laws that take care of these people." "It is moral to take care of these people - those who are less fortunate."

The people who ask such questions no doubt consider themselves (or strive to be) compassionate and charitable. But let's put aside the fact that there is plenty of human generosity (e.g., Ron Paul indicated during an NPR interview that "I recall working in a church hospital for $3 an hour and nobody was ever turned away and nobody was left out in the streets. And just think of all the church hospitals that have been closed down because the invasion of government into the health care industry."). Let's even put aside the logical conclusion that the poor would have more in a libertarian society. Why isn't the same compassion and kindness clamored for (to help the poor) also rightfully due to the victims who have their property stolen by force? "Because they can afford it?" "Because it's moral to share?" There's no such thing as sharing by force.

There are many legitimate issues to work out in finding ways to minimize human suffering. Struggling for basic necessities like food or medical care is a terrible position for any living being. But what is never addressed by righteous claims for those in need is the answer to a more fundamental question: can morality contradict itself? The lesson many are taught as children is "two wrongs don't make a right." If that's true, does brute force/theft (a wrong) make it moral to take care of someone (a right)? Silence. Who decides who is in need? Silence. On what basis do we determine need? Silence. There are many who have no problem living with such contradictions (Socialists and Keynesian economists immediately come to mind). We are not able to believe something that isn't true - just try it. But the ingenuity of humans never ceases - we've discovered that ignoring truths allow us to stay internally consistent. In other words, merely blanking-out contradictions - or even easier, just evading asking the questions - are all that is required. In other words, as long as you can ignore the moral flaw that you are stealing from someone by force, you can look at yourself in the mirror with the confidence that you are a caring, generous, "good" person. Your self-esteem stays intact. But the consequences of reality (natural law) do not disappear in the face of ignorance. You may be able to escape from reality temporarily, but someone will have to pay for your moral lapse. Hopefully, it will be you. Most likely, it will be someone else whom you have victimized.

There is no guarantee that limited government or anarchy (i.e., no government) will lead to moral perfection. In fact, just by looking at the history around the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, it is proven that limited government will lead to the morose results that currently plague most people in this world. What went wrong? Could it be that the general idea was on the right track but its implementation was botched? Or could it be that the underlying philosophy of limited government is a contradiction in terms?


As human beings, we each have an individual, moral obligation to survive and prosper. This duty is to ourselves, and ourselves alone. We can choose to be our "brother's keeper," but to use aggressive force to achieve our aims is to expect the irrational to achieve our desires. Rejecting the mantra of being our "brother's keeper" will allow us to properly focus our minds, our time, and our effort on the proper recipient. I fully support helping others - I do not support helping others through force.

The purpose of rules must never be to eliminate evil, for one man's evil is another man's freedom for individual choice to pursue his own happiness. Excluding self-defense (which protects life), any use of force against another human corrupts society's well-being as it is anathema to life. To attempt to reign-in the numerous, overbearing, and contradictory government-imposed laws that do little to support life and, if anything, do everything to destroy it is a non sequitur. Except through violent revolution, in all of recorded history, government never shrinks. Never. It's time to stop insulting your own intelligence and ability by living your own life without force. It's time to accept the responsibility of choosing valid principles that don't include stealing from others. It's time to eliminate all laws and deconstruct all government institutions that beget you to live for someone else through force. It's time to start from scratch. Still want to talk in terms of need and force? Fine. Your life needs it and humanity demands it.

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In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. - Carl Sagan

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