Sunday, February 15, 2009

Anarchism; Legality versus Morality

Someone told me 'taxation is theft.' I more or less instantly went from whatever I was before to libertarian, inevitably sliding into anarchism.

I made a prediction; every major legal code will define theft either with circular logic or with an explicitly written loophole for taxation. I finally decided to look it up. Here's Canada's
"Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent [to do about what you'd expect.]"
So, theft is when you take something without the right to take it. Err...uhh...so who doesn't have the right to make off with my stuff, again?

The moral answer is 'anyone who I haven't agreed to let make off with my stuff.' The real answer is 'who the legislature decides can make off with my stuff, because they control the SWAT teams.' Basically I'm just lucky that they don't make outrageous decisions more often.

The US has over 40 000 laws on the books. The situation will be similar in Canada, which means that basically whenever it feels the need, the bureaucracy who actually has the dictatorial power can trump up entirely legal charges against me and take my stuff. That they don't has nothing to do with morals or laws and has everything to do with preserving that self-same power.

Which inevitably means that their power does not depend on the legal system - it is not lawful power. I'm not entirely sure what it does depend on, sadly. The reports are conflicting - sometimes, it really is Democracy, other times it follows journalists or banks or large corporations. The situation is extremely murky - to outsiders. You can be entirely sure that the higher ups in those bureaucracies know exactly who butters their bread. (The lower ones don't know because their answer degenerates into 'the higher ups.')

Because the power isn't formal, and it is based on murky implicit mechanisms, the power is unstable. It can, just like radioactive nuclei, decay at any time without warning. There isn't even a potentially working legal code to form a Schelling point for the decay - it can decay slowly, losing a neutron here and there, or it can decay catastrophically, splitting into several particles at once. (And I can't very well define increasing informal power as not-decay.)

And now I'm seized by fantasies. If people were rational, thinking creature capable of understanding the future, we would have a backup plan, or else immediately create a backup plan. Most people are almost fully aware that the legal system is busted - for one, look at how many antinomian responses there are here. And if you ask individuals implicitly instead of explicitly, that is, ask for data not conclusions, you will overwhelmingly get stories of the legal system failing, not of it working. (Unless they are an actual legal professional, for obvious reasons.)

It should be a short step from there to convince them to generally agree on an alternative, as backup. (For reasons that are also obvious, I would suggest my own system.) Should, therefore, isn't.

I wonder if this would be different in a society where the security structures didn't wage psychological warfare upon its customers.

2 comments:

Adrian said...

Excellent post.

Alrenous said...

Thank you.

Was there anything you would like to see improved?