The Moral Government

Posted on Posted in Ethics And Morality

The moral government. I will begin by saying that all evidence points to such phrase being an oxymoron. All governments which exist today operate on the basis of force. They survive only through the involuntary extraction of wealth (i.e. taxation) and use the threat of violence or actual violence to enforce on individuals how their bureaucrats, politicians, and constituents believe that society should look, or how they should act. All governments, as they exist today, are immoral because they impede man’s freedom. They impede his choices, his productivity, his creativity—essentially they impede his full use of his own faculties and his ability to survive on his own. Governments use force to make people dependent on them and in doing so, rob them of their humanity. It our world today this is accepted because nearly all governments are in some way democratic or republican, and so can say that at least the majority of citizens support them. This gives them unprecedented legitimacy in the eyes of most people because we have been so conditioned into thinking that if a majority, or some large group of people, say something is right, moral, desirable, then it must be. Who am I as an individual to question the apparent consensus of millions of others?

This article, however, is not about the perils of “groupthink” or the dangers of democracy. I am writing this because I wanted to explore the possibility of a moral government. A government whose moral nature does not stem from the subjective values held by a majority, but rather a government which abides by objective morality—by objectively right action. Yes, morality is objective. It is not a passing fad which changes with the times, and it has nothing to do with the feelings of people at any particular moment in history. Morality arises from the nature of man and how he must act to survive in this world. The standard of morality is man’s life—and a moral action is any action required to sustain that life. This is closely related to man’s natural rights. The right that every human is born with, and the right from which all other true rights stem, is the right to property. This is because man must own himself and the fruits of his labor if he is going to survive in this world. In other words, man must use his mind and his reason to be productive, and to figure out how to use his faculties to manipulate the natural world around him in order to survive. There is no escaping this fact if one wants to live. A moral action, then, is any which furthers your survival, but does not impede others’ survival or productive actions. Morality is respecting the natural rights of others.

So how could a government be moral? Given what morality means we would expect that it cannot do anything which impedes or in any way inhibits an individual’s use of their natural right to property. This means it cannot forcibly extract wealth no matter what it offers in return. It cannot prevent any transaction between willing sellers and willing buyers. It cannot stand in the way of the free movement of people across imaginary borders. It can’t regulate, license, or in any way dictate and enforce its subjective morality.

You might be thinking, “Well what can it do?” And the answer is, a moral government can only retaliate against those who transgress against the rights of others on behalf of the victim. For example, Steve steals five dollars from John, John tells the moral government, and the moral government finds Steve and makes him return the five dollars to John, possibly with extra compensation for John not having access to his five dollars for a given amount of time. That’s it. It retaliates against aggressors and, in doing so, acts as a deterrent against future aggressors. This is the only job of a moral government. And because its only job is to retaliate against those who act immorally by violating the rights of others, and because morality is objective and not something decided on by people, democracy becomes irrelevant and unnecessary. There is nothing to vote on in a moral government system because it only has one job and that job is based on objective truth—namely that aggressing against others and violating their rights is immoral because you are impeding their ability to survive, and the standard of morality is man’s life and that which he needs to sustain his life. If people vote to expand or in any way change the job of this government then it ceases to be a moral government and will resemble something that we have today—a government that, with every action, violates the rights of individuals.

On top of being rigid in its single job and not open to democratic interpretation, a moral government cannot depend on taxation for its financial survival. Taxation is theft because it is a practice not based on mutual voluntary consent. Currently, if you do not agree with what the government is doing, or how it is spending money, you are still compelled by the threat of force to fund it. This clearly and explicitly violates man’s right to the full and unbridled use of the fruits of his labor. A moral government, then, could only survive by charging individuals for its services, but not compelling them to pay. In other words, it must allow individuals to opt out and not pay into the system. A moral government could also survive on donations. This would probably be the most likely way of funding and has the value of acting as a definite check on the government if its members were to start behaving immorally because people could simply stop donating or donating as much and it would have to shut down or downsize. If it is doing its job well, however, or if enough people see a value in the service which it is providing, then it would have ample funding needed to carry out its retaliatory purpose.

And lastly, a moral government cannot have a monopoly on retaliatory force. Said differently, it cannot prevent other organizations from competing with it in this role. Remember that it is immoral to prevent a transaction between willing sellers and willing buyers, so if a government is truly moral, then it cannot prevent a private security firm from being hired by an individual to retaliate and bring to justice those who have violated his rights. It also cannot morally prevent individuals from using private arbitration companies or private courts to settle disputes or crimes. It cannot covet or hoard power in any way if it is to be considered a moral government.

What we see, then, is that a moral government would be no government at all in the terms of how we see them today. It would most likely just devolve into one of many private security and court organizations competing for the business of individuals. Most people would scarcely consider this type of organization a “government” and I must admit that I agree. This paper then, I must confess, was nothing more than a trick—a trick to show you that a moral government is, indeed, no government at all. But having no government in the traditional sense of the word does not mean chaos, it does not mean that people aren’t governed, it just means that people are not governed by having their rights trampled on and taken away. It means that you have complete control over your life and your property. It means that you are the final judge and decider of your actions and how you use the fruits of your own labor. You control how much outside protection you want, and always reserve the right to withhold funding if that organization acts in a way which offends you. A society governed by a moral “government” would be a society in which no individual or organization of individuals is allowed to act outside of, or transgress against the objective morality which governs our world.

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