Thursday, October 04, 2007

Not-So-Infinite Regress

To the best of my knowledge, this type of argument has been used successfully to fight off the IRS, and by a friend of mine who is still in highschool that successfully used it against his teacher. Sorry I haven't tested it that much, but making practical use of it will depend on your creativity, understanding, and intelligence.

The time you use it is when a bureaucrat of some kind begins demanding that you do something. I would hesitate to use this on cops because they'll think you're talking back and being confrontational and they'll threaten you with charges of some sort, but any other kind of bureaucrat should be fine.

After they make their demand, ask them if they think they have the right to make such a demand. They'll probably respond that, yes, they do have that right. So then ask them where they got this right, is it a right that they inherently have? For instance, if you met the bureaucrat off the job, would they still have the authority to make that kind of demand? They'll probably answer to the effect that they don't. So then, if it's not a natural right of theirs, it must be a right somebody else originally had, and simply delegated to the bureaucrat you are speaking with. They'll probably answer affirmatively. So ask them who it was, and make a suggestion. Their boss? Of course it is, who else would it be? And does their boss have the right to make that demand off-duty, is it the boss's natural right? Well, no...

At this point they'll begin to see where you're going with this, and they'll probably not want to keep going down that road unless they're an especially arrogant bureaucrat. If they don't try to cut their losses and get out of a humiliating demolition (assuming you have a thorough understanding of how to apply the principle), then proceed to apply the same reasoning of "is it their natural right? No? How about their boss? Is it their natural right? No? How about their boss..." until they give up or you arrive at Congress, the Constitution, or the Voters.

If at any time they call the argument inane or frivolous, remind them that if it turns out that nobody who authorized this ever had the natural right to make this demand, then it's impossible for the bureaucrat to have the right to make the demand.

If they ever get the idea in their head that they don't need to have been delegated the right, accuse them of pulling rights out of thin air, and after all, if the bureaucrat has the right to invent rights out of thin air, so do you! Including a right to not comply with their demands. If they try to say that you actually don't have that right, ask them where they got the right from. If people don't have the right to invent rights from birth, then somebody else had to give it to them...you know where that's going. You could also demand that they prove it (don't worry, they can't), but if they're not likely to go very far down this new tangent that looks suspiciously like the main avenue.

If dealing with the IRS, you'll probably end up with the Secretary of the Treasury, and from there, go to Congress. From Congress there's only a couple places to go.

First, they can go to the Constitution. Dissuade this if possible, because it's difficult for people to accept that the Constitution isn't valid. Try to lead them toward thinking the rights had to come from the voters if possible. In case they do try this, (and if they're persistent enough to get here and the "voters" route fails, there's a good chance they will,) familiarize yourself with Spooner's arguments in "No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority". If you don't think they'll get it, just point out that a piece of paper doesn't have the right to make demands either, and the absurdity of even supposing it possible. The people that wrote the Constitution didn't have the right to make this demand of you either.

Second, they might say "well the Congressmen got that right from the voters." To this, respond that they are now supposing that, firstly, one's neighbors had the right to make this demand, and secondly, that the act of voting gives the Congressman thus voted for any or all of the rights of the voter. The first is self-evidently absurd. Even the state will help you chase down and imprison a neighbor that robs you. The second is also wrong, because the nature of voting is not a contract to confer rights to the congressman, and because even if it was, it would be impossible to tell whether or not the person even voted for that congressman, or for that matter, even voted!

There is only one person who naturally has the right to make demands of you, and that's you. Unless you knowingly and voluntarily (no force or fraud used) signed a contract giving them the right (this is THEIR burden of proof, not yours), they never had it, and can't get it. And if the person is indeed acting under your what is ultimately your authority, then simply tell them that you revoke your delegation of authority to them, and terminate any contract you had with them, on the basis of fraud.

If the discussion even gets this far, and the bureaucrat has not yet given up, they will be faced with the realization that they don't actually have the right to make the demand that they have made.

The exact words used will probably need to be changed according to context and any stupid answers they may give. Expect this argument to work on the more petty bureaucrats, those with other things they need to do. As presented here it probably won't fly in court, although Marc Stevens applies this basic principle more specifically to court appearances, so check out his Adventures In Legal Land site and book. He's got an audio version of "No Treason" on his site too.

This may come in useful as well...

"Whatever the form in which the Government functions, anyone entering into an arrangement with the Government takes the risk of having accurately ascertained that he who purports to act for the Government stays within the bounds of his authority... and this is so even though as here, the agent himself may have been unaware of the limitations upon his authority." Federal Crop Ins. Corp. v. Merrill, 332 U.S. 380 at 384 (1947).

Always question authority.

8 Comments:

Blogger Sapphire Eyes said...

Hey Zhzi,

I've got an unrelated question, but I wanted to make sure you see it.

From what I've read in your writings, I get the impression that agorism is pro-small entrepreneur and anti-corporatism. Does agorism, however, recognize economies of scale? What would an agorist say RE: an industry that can only effectively function as a large entity or group of entities?

-SE

10:22 AM  
Blogger Zhwazi said...

Hard to keep it short for the comments section and go into much detail, but alliances of entrepreneurs could very likely do the same thing (I can't imagine it being all that difficult). Worker cooperatives might become more popular, too. If you've got more specific concerns you can probably find me on a messenger, I'm keti.kotaree at gmail dot com on MSN and "zhwazi" on skype or AIM (but I prefer you not use AIM unless it's the only protocol you've got).

1:10 PM  
Blogger Sapphire Eyes said...

An alliance of entrepreneurs...sounds like it could potentially run into the cartel game theory problem.

Worker cooperatives are in a similar vein as unions, right?

7:17 PM  
Blogger Zhwazi said...

Check Wikipedia and stuff or get me on MSN or skype, I don't wanna hold a back-and-forth conversation in the comments.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Hey Zhwazi,

FYI, here is the link for this months Market Anarchist Blog Carnival that Im hosting. You have to submit by Oct 28th.

Send something in!

10:57 PM  
Blogger Sapphire Eyes said...

Thanks for the word on FYZ. Can't say that it looks as busy as the original (or as well-designed).

9:30 AM  
Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Zhwazi, you have just been meme tagged!

8:52 PM  
Blogger FSK said...

Economies of scale in the current economic system are false economies.

For example, does it really pay to manufacture air conditioners in a centralized factory? Or, would local workers doing just-in-time manufacturing be more efficient. Of course, the workers could share designs and have a common stamp of quality. (In a truly free market, there's no such thing as intellectual property. A monopolistic state is needed to enforce intellectual property, and intellectual property is unenforcable without a state.)

In the present, a centralized factory has its transportation costs subsidized by the state. Trucks damage roads a lot more than cars, but roads are paid by taxes. That means that people who ship via trucks don't pay their true costs for the amount they damage roads. This is a subsidy for large corporations.

Also, large corporations can borrow at a slight premium to the Fed Funds Rate of 4.5%. Individuals must borrow at 8% or more. The monetary system itself is, in effect, a huge subsidy to large corporations.

7:16 PM  

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