Recently I've enjoyed having some conversations with folks here on AtheistNexus who disagree with my anti-government stance and this has led me to write down an explanation of my reasoning. My intent is not persuasion but explanation and thus while (hopefully) logically sound this post won't be rigorous in coverage or analysis. 

Why am I anti-government? I believe that choice should be exalted whenever possible. To be free is by definition "the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action." A very basic argument against government in the current form is this: were any of us free to decide whether to participate in the society that the government represents?

This is a rather more complicated question that appears on the surface, because different governments have different ways of justifying the power they use to enforce the social contract of governance. For example it is the law of the land in England that God anoints a Monarch with power and that monarch delegates that authority to the de facto government. In the United States it is the law of the land that power is intrinsic of people who transfer a portion to the local and higher governments for the purpose of securing the rest of power still retained by those people. This idea of transference of power is one form of social contract. Madison, Payne, and Locke had a lot to say about this and such further investigation I encourage the reader.

Furthermore complicating things is the idea that social contracts, or to put it differently - contracts between a person and government, have different rules surrounding them than do contracts between a person and a person. Example: a social contract has never (to my knowledge) been argued in the United States on the basis of acceptance. I am aware of some cases in Canada and other countries but this is beyond the scope. 

Why is acceptance important? Consider this: you tell your friend Bob, let us meet back here at 14:30. If you part ways without receiving an acknowledgement from Bob, how can you know that he agrees to meet? Perhaps he heard but disagrees and said nothing, or would have agreed had he heard you, or even heard you and agreed but said nothing. In any event, you have no reason to believe that come 14:30 you will see your smiling friend. The legal rule with over 400 years of documented legal history is that if there is no acceptance, there cannot be a contract.

Have we as persons accepted the social contract of the region we live in? I would argue that the answer is no due to the idea that we are not legally able to do so. In order to legally show acceptance you must be able to demonstrate that there was a lack of coercion, that you could have made an abstaining choice, that you were not physically constrained, and that you were fit of mind and of legal age. 

Can we as persons demonstrate a lack of coercion?

I believe the answer is no. Let us use the innocuous example of drunk driving checkpoints. If men with guns have set up a road blockade demanding a brief interview you before they let you go can you truly say that before, during, and after you accepted this freely? If you attempt to avoid the blockade they will assume you are intoxicated and chase you down with stressful sirens and guns. During the interview if you refuse at any point to participate you will be arrested. Afterwards, you have either been incarcerated or are free, but in any event you cannot retroactively accept. I'm in favor of drunk driving checkpoints but they cannot be said to be demonstrative of acceptance without coercion unless you are notified in advance and have the full opportunity of avoidance, which would of course negate much of their efficacy. 

Can we as persons demonstrate that we could have made an abstaining choice?

For almost every person on the planet the answer is no. People born in the United States are considered citizens, citizens are participants in the social contract without recourse. Neither does moving to another country constitute alternate choice because even if you renounce your citizenship you must choose between governments. 

Can we as persons demonstrate that we were not physically constrained?

Again, no. If we choose to not pay our taxes we will be harassed by letters and telephone calls, a man will show up with guns and forcibly bring us before a court, and we will be jailed. But even more than this is that many hospitals will not release a infant to the parents unless said parents sign acceptance of social security, immunizations, state citizenship forms, et cet. The baby is held hostage pending the parents ransom. Again, I'm in favor of the programs of social security, immunization, state records but I am against the idea of force to make those programs reality.

Can we as persons demonstrate that we entered into this contract fit of mind and of legal age?

No, and no. When you are an infant you can't enter into a contract. And a parent cannot accept for a child something that extends beyond the duration of a guardianship (power of attorney privilege cannot apply either).

If all persons had opportunity to choose citizenship status, obligations, and privileges upon attaining their majority then this entire blog's arguments would be ameliorated. Such an implementation might also improve the relations and participation of citizens in government. The idea that the location of birth allows a society to claim that person is wrong. The idea that in order to revoke that claim you must replace it with another is wrong. It is my belief that these concepts are fairly harmless in western societies but are nevertheless remnants of a theistic god-king legal system. After all if God gives a king dominion over a land by right, it would follow that all things upon that land are beholden to the king. Even if you erase god, and swap government for king you still have a bad argument for birth based citizenship.

These are my thoughts on this subject. They are a rough summary of years of philosophical and legal self-study. Almost all of the examples presented here are for the sake of brevity non-rigorous and may mistakes in the way they were presented but I believe the core argument is sound. 

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Tags: anti-government, choice, politics

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