[ExI] Under the libertarian yoke was Re: Next Decade May See No Warming

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Wed May 7 04:19:12 UTC 2008

On Sun, May 4, 2008 at 8:43 AM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
>  Breach of perhaps the most basic and common contract - namely, if I
>  buy something from you but don't pay - does normally authorise the use
>  of force against me

### This is incorrect. Use of force is either explicitly authorized in
the contract, or else it is implied by the general legal framework
under which the contract is signed. Frequently a contract will have
provisions for non-violent sanctions in case of breach, such as
forfeiture of a surety. In other situations there are provisions for
arbitration, which may or may not involve agreeing to the use of


. An alternative way of dealing with this in a free
>  market with where everyone has access to the information is that if I
>  keep cheating, people will see me as untrustworthy and won't trade
>  with me.

### Yes, this is another, non-contractual and non-violent form of
contract enforcement.


>  A tax in a democracy is a kind of conditional contract just like this.

### No, most definitely it is not. One of the essential features of a
valid contract is that it is being entered voluntarily, that is,
neither of the parties, their agents, principals, nor allies, is
threatening violence to induce another peaceful party to sign the
contract. Clearly, the agents of the state are threatening deadly
violence to anybody who fails to meet their peremptory demands, and
therefore neither the state nor its victims can enter into a contract.
The threat of violence is sufficient to invalidate or pre-empt a

>  I won't voluntarily pay (i.e. as charity) the amount I pay in tax even
>  for projects I consider worthwhile, but I will agree to pay on
>  condition that everyone else also agrees to pay.

### You are in fact not capable of giving consent to pay taxes, simply
because you have no choice. Are you following it? No matter what is
your opinion, what kind of "conditions" you are imagining, you *have*
to pay the tax.

I know it may seem strange at first... but all you need to realize is
that to be able to legitimately say "yes", you must be able to say
"no". Without the right to refuse, there can be no legitimate


 This is why people in
>  general hate paying tax, but keep voting in a government that will
>  force them to pay tax.

### Why people keep voting is a whole another issue, none of it
however can legitimize a tax as a form of contractual payment.

>  Yes, that might work, but it would have to be included in the original
>  contract since there would be a temptation to defect by selling to the
>  defectors, who would be very keen for trading partners.

### Exactly! You have just described the heretofore missing ingredient
in our non-violent solution to global warming: provisions for
maintenance of secondary public goods, that is features of the social
order that are only important as means to achieve or protect primary
public goods. Here, the primary goods are parts of the
Save-Our-Happy-Planet conditional contract directly necessary to
prevent a collective heatstroke, while the secondary goods are
provisions meant to protect the primary good from being destroyed -
such as an injunction against trading with defectors. Note that once
you voluntarily sign the contract, you *may* be legitimately subjected
to violent reprisals for breaching it. If paragraph #22 says "Whoever
trades freely with a defector or refusnik, will have his right hand
taken off", well, then the other parties to the contract, and their
agents, may cut off your hand for selling beef at normal price to me.

This is why you should always read the small print in a contract.


 But this isn't
>  any different to swapping fines and criminal prosecution for boycott,
>  ostracism or exile of businesses and individuals who refuse to pay
>  their tax.

### Yeah, isn't this great? No thugs chasing you, just people turning
away from you, one by one. This makes unjust punishment so much less

>  That's all very well, but it doesn't address the urgency of the
>  situation. I don't want to punish the people responsible after the
>  train has crashed, I want to prevent the train crashing in the first
>  place.
### Sure. As long as you manage to convince enough people that the
train could crash, you will be able to build a contract to prevent it.

To summarize, you were able to come up with all the significant parts
of a workable, non-violent solution to a major tragedy of the commons,
which so many short-sighted people see as unsolvable without
large-scale organized violence.

It took a bit of coaxing, but you did it, which means you could become
an excellent libertarian theorist.... if you only wanted to. You do
seem to have some habits of thought and emotion, such as seeing your
oppressors as one of "us" rather than "them", but that is nothing you
couldn't overcome.


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