Mission Statement

Mission Statement: This blog is dedicated to both political philosophy and application to current issues based on the ideas of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty. Additionally, this blog strives to create an atmosphere where intelligent discussions based on the principles of logic, no matter the viewpoints expressed in their conclusions, are not only welcome, but also thrive.

To learn more, feel free to read the introduction and subsequent posts which explain the aforementioned philosophy and purpose of this blog in more detail.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Foundations 5: THE Foundation

          To borrow a concept from mathematics, a system of theories and truths is built on a foundation of axioms, or basic ideas that are taken to be correct without proof. From these base ideas, the rest is built. The idea is that the fewer axioms that you use to completely build the base of your theory, the more sound it is.
         This applies equally to political philosophy, and I will use this post to show why I think libertarianism is the only correct form for government to take. Additionally, these axioms serve as the basis for all of the issues discussed in the blog, and are a point to which we can trace agreement or disagreement in an argument.
          I propose two axioms for formulating a system of government. The first is that one individual initiating force against another individual is the worst wrong a person can commit. Force is loosely defined as making a person do something that they have not agreed to do, whether that be physical, mental, fraud, or some other means. The second axiom is that no other wrongs can add up to be greater than or equal to the initiation of force.
          These two axioms together tell us that initiating force against an individual is inexcusable, because 1) it is the most wrong thing you can do and 2) there is no accumulation of other wrongs that a person could have done to “deserve” the initiated force. Note that this applies to initiated force, because force used in defense does not fit these definitions of wrong.
          These axioms and this immediate conclusion are philosophical, without direct application at this point. To apply them to government, we must examine the nature of government. Government is a system whereby a certain group of people, usually citizens and visitors, are held to a set of rules that contain penalties for breeching. This may take a concrete form of citizens paying taxes in return for governmental services used in enforcing the rules or providing services. Taxes are not optional, and so can be regarded as forced from a person by their government. In order to exist, a government uses force.
          So what makes this acceptable, if the initiation of force is the pinnacle of unjust activity? If the government uses this force to provide a service that is not related to force, it has violated the axioms by using force to combat a lesser evil.
          On the contrary, if a government uses the force of taxation in order to prevent force, this may be viewed as a fair exchange. For example, if a government uses taxation to fund a military that protects its citizens from outside force, or a police force that protects its citizens from force originating within, then it has induced force on its citizens for the purpose of preventing greater and more widespread and destructive force. This is a legitimate use of government force.
          Some may argue that the initiation of force by government in the first place is contrary to principles. These people would tend towards a lack of government, or anarchy. On the contrary, the cries of the victim are the most constant sound in human history. At the individual level, from Cain to the evening news, human nature has shown itself to tend toward force. This has translated into the international force of warfare since there have been nations. Force between people or groups of people has existed since time before government, and may be rightly considered the initiation, with government being considered one of the defenses.
          This is the basis for a libertarian government: the role of the government is only to prevent the initiation of force, and a government may be considered to legitimately serve the people if and only if that is its sole endeavor. So what would this libertarian government look like in America? It would surely involve a military and police force. Having the legislature create laws that govern what is force and what is not force is acceptable. The legislature should confine itself to these activities, to setting the missions for the organizations used to carry them out. The executive branch heads the military and police forces, and runs the various forces and organizations that accomplish these missions. A judiciary adjudicates all disputes to determine whether or not force was criminally applied. It also moderates between the other branches of government.
          The Constitution lays out all of this rather nicely. It provides some small extra powers that are not strictly in keeping with this idea, such as the ability of the legislature to create post offices. However, using the axioms to create this idea of how any government, especially that of America, should run lays a solid foundation for each issue that may arise from politics. Perhaps more importantly it provides the basis for a vision of the nature of government. Using this vision, a politician may make principled decisions guiding his nation toward a well-understood and accepted, predictable end. These axioms are my base. All of my ideas, principles, visions, and stances grow from them. If we agree on these axioms, then we should be able to come to similar conclusions as we discuss the nature of government and each individual issue.

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