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Moral Justification for Government?

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Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 14

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I'm very interested in hearing the moral justification for government from some people outside the mainstream and are clearly able to think for themselves and are open to new ideas.

My Background (if you're interested)

I first became aware of this website from John Pilger, either from one of his books or his website, and for a long time found it a haven from the insanity of the MSM especially regarding wars. However I was concerned that while the problems all seemed to be correctly identified, there did not seem to be any clear solution set out. The idea that with protests and voting we could control the government never really seemed entirely convincing, at least for sustainable change (there is no doubt these things have had effects on specific issues of course).

So I was looking to get to the heart of the matter, to get down to the fundamentals. That's when I came upon the political philosophy that states that it is wrong to kill, steal or enslave and that no person or entity (whether it calls itself a human, a corporation, a government or anything else) has the right to do any of those things. That seemed to me to be the solution to our troubles and I was actually surprised that the people on this board were not actually proponents of this philosophy (I was young Wink ).

So anyway, I was a minarchist for a while and now I'd call myself an anarchist, meaning I don't think there's anything that the government can do with coercive methods that we can't do better voluntarily. And more than that, coercion is wrong in any case.

Additional Questions

I would therefore like to hear, from a moral standpoint, why it is okay when an entity calling itself a government is allowed to steal (through taxes), kidnap and enslave (with the criminal "justice" system) and kill when their subjects do not do as they demand (without this threat of course, very few people would have any problem resisting the stealing and enslavement).

As a side note, after finding this site and also being very interested in Buddhism, I was eager to read David Edward's book, "The Compassionate Revolution: Radical Politics and Buddhism" and at the time was very pleased with it. As a follower of Buddhism, I would be very interested to hear how David Edwards (or anyone else of course) would justify governments from a Buddhist perspective considering the points above.

If I may anticipate one argument, and please feel free to correct me, it might be said that using a government is compassionate because otherwise poor people would starve... or something to that effect. However, does that mean that a Buddhist monk, or anyone else, would be justified in holding someone at gun point and demanding food because they were hungry? Is it not better to live an ethical life, regardless of whether you will die or suffer the tortures of starvation? Do the working classes have any more right to kill and steal than the upper classes do?

Another argument might be that the working classes are just using self defense against the upper classes, the capitalists, but if they are not killing, stealing or enslaving then what are they doing wrong? (By the way, I'm not saying that there are no corporations that do these things at the moment, although I would argue that they are only able to do so with government assistance).

I would argue, in any case, that the government does not actually help people, it can help certain sections of a society but only at the expense of everyone else and in fact that section of the society would also be harmed as well eventually as everything is connected. When all coercion is taken away from the world, when people are free to do as they please given the circumstances they are in, then everyone will benefit, at least that is what I think. How that would happen is explained by Austrian economics, and there's an introduction to that in my post, "How the Economy Works".

Also, does Buddhist thought not generally state that it does not matter how much money you have or what conditions you are in, you can still be happy if you live by skillful means? After all I believe Buddhist monks are some of the happiest people on Earth, and they have almost nothing of material wealth, and what they do have has been given voluntarily.

Anyone who has actually read this far, thank you very much and I would greatly appreciate any input on this matter. Specifically, as it was a while ago, what is the moral justification of government? Or do you agree that it is immoral in a fundamental way, but you believe that there are sufficient justifications in this case for acting immorally?
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Mark Twain
Sun May 15, 2011 11:48 am
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