To distinguish between two substances or two attributes, one needs to find the limits where one ends and the other begins. In regards of political distinctions Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes et al. attempted this boundary detection by envisioning the human condition prior to the rise of a state (or compared a stateless society to a state). This initial condition of man prior to the rise of a state we refer to as Man in Nature. Below, we’ll explore Man in Nature to test Natural Law based on property-in-toto versus Natural Law based on agency and see what insights spin out of these concept stacks.
Man in Nature
The following stands as an equivalent of the Man-in-Nature as a starting point for reasoning, although I find it lacking because it presumes adulthood (developed agency – Locke, liberty), a single moral survival strategy (Rosseau – noble, Hobbes – predatory). I will build from Agency.
Man-in-Nature refers to mankind prior to the rise of the state. The state being defined as an organized political community. A political community being a way of organizing a group of humans in such a way as the group behaves as an agent (combined effort of individuals in the group). The problem here presents as a matter of scale. Does a family unit meet the definition of a state? (It can be, and often is, referred to as a politic system). So to continue we need to define the state by attributes which define scale. I will proceed by the definition of the State as the organization of a population which holds control of a territory.
A man, alone, finds no resistance to action by any other man. To not have restrictions on one’s agency, beyond the limitations imposed by nature (physical limitations) we will call autonomy.
It stands then, that the only non-natural inhibition on one’s agency, comes from another man.
One man may apply his agency on another man to obtain asymmetrical benefits. He might take the other man’s stuff, or enslave the man.
The offender who imposes upon the property-in-toto of another, to be successful, must muster enough force to defeat the defender. In doing so the offender adds to one’s property by application of agency over another. Later we will refer to this as S1 (Sovereign 1)
To maintain autonomy, the defender must muster enough force behind his agency to successfully defend against the offender. By mustering enough force to preserve autonomy, the man obtains sovereignty. The monopoly on force, sovereignty, preserves the autonomy of the defender. We will refer to this later as S2 (Sovereign 2)
Both cases demonstrate sovereignty. However, only one aligns with Propertarian Natural Law (no imposition upon property-in-toto, all exchanges limited to fully informed, voluntary exchanges limited to productive externalities), and in doing so redefines Natural Law to no impositions upon the agency, in all forms, of another (autonomy).
Sovereign 1 (S1)
Our normal propertarian concept stack is as follows.
A sovereign establishes control over a realm by “clearing” the realm of all opposition. The sovereign obtains a monopoly of force by accomplishing this act. The sovereign, after establishing a monopoly on force, can do a number of things with this force.
Seeking asymmetrical benefits, he may use the monopoly to force the polis to do his bidding – direct, overt slavery of the polis. This, however, requires a constant application of force upon the polis, who will most likely not be terribly productive.
He could, as the Khan’s did, simply extract taxes (asymmetrical benefits) yet change nothing within the polis. This would be more productive, however, it may leave the door open to petty predation (crime) within the borders of the realm. This would reduce benefits. This in mind, the sovereign could use his monopoly on force to establish Law (defined limits to decide when the monopoly of force will be used against the polis). By establishing Law, freedoms and liberties are defined and granted to the polis. These freedoms and liberties stand as the agreement the Sovereign makes with the polis as to when he will not use his force against them. If anyone in the polis steps outside of these permissible behaviors (law breaking, petty predation, and parasitism), the force will be used against the law breaker.
The sovereign, extending freedom, liberties, and protection against petty predation and parasitism, has cleared the land of violence, then used this monopoly to restrict the behavior of the polis to cooperative endeavors only. He does so to reap maximum production of the polis and thus maximum profit.
At risk of being redundant – S1: sovereignty is established by obtaining a monopoly on force, which the sovereign then extends liberty (the benefits of sovereignty) to the non-sovereign, insured by force according to rule of law. The rule of law presents itself as a choice made by the sovereign, stemming from the incentive to profit (exchange of protection for profit).
The monopoly of force affords the sovereign this choice. He need not extend liberty or law, he could simply enslave the polis. Why? Because he holds the ability to do so. He has the force. This choice contains no constraints outside of pure self-interest (seeking asymmetrical benefit.) As long as no force to resist him exists, he remains autonomous. This is true, you can not dispute this fact.
He who holds the monopoly on force stands as the only autonomous agent.
Let’s break this down a bit more according to the different stages of property.
Possession stands as any item which one can keep by having enough force to defend against those who would take it. S1 retains the required defensive force.
Property exists as items which one retains by recognition. Others agree to not take it (arguably they agree to this because of the monopoly on force – they do not attempt in the knowledge that success is unlikely).
Property Rights exist when recognition of ownership has been insured by force (usually by a third party – the sovereign.) (arguably the defensive force ensures recognition of property). Force affords rights to property.
Sovereign 2 (S2)
In our second stack, we take into consideration the state of man (Man-in-Nature), PRIOR to the establishment of sovereignty, which the concept stack above does not address.
Autonomy, an actor’s agency unimposed on by another actor, exists prior to the need to defend it. Impositions on the autonomy of another give rise to conflicts between human’s, which then leads to the conditions for sovereignty to be established.
So the stack changes to: A defender musters enough force to fight off the offender. In doing so preserves autonomy through establishing a monopoly on force. Monopoly on force, now established, stands as rule of law, for the sole purpose of preserving autonomy which already existed.
This too conforms to the stages of property (possession through to Property Rights). The incentive to maintain the rule of law rests with the incentive to remain autonomous.
Let’s compare stacks
S1 progresses as such:
Monopoly of force->Sovereingty->Rule of law-> Liberty and property rights
S2 progresses as such:
Autonomy->monopoly of force->preserves autonomy against external impositions->Rule of law->preserves autonomy against internal impositions.
S1, by not accounting for Man-in-Nature, man prior to impositions which give rise to conflict, hides a potential imposition on agency and property – S1 begins the concept stack at an imposition upon the agency or property of others. It begins at the point after one has broken Natural Law (the act of conquering another.) Let’s call S1 The Wolf.
S2, by accounting for the state of man prior to impositions which give rise to conflict, accounts for and reveals the initial imposition. Let’s call S2 The Sheepdog.
Pick a Dog
The wolf rises by not including the relevance of agency, opens up a number of errors.
- Does not consider alignment of agency within the group (Natural Law in reference to agency)
- The initial circumstance to establish sovereignty includes impositions on Natural Law.
- By imposing upon Natural law, future retaliation, resentments, and distrust become potential consequences.
- Immediately signals a willingness to operate outside of Natural Law – The signal stands as in informational exchange whereby The Wolf breaks Natural Law (willingness to break the law), then proclaims to establish the law from his established monopoly (the law stems from him). This stands as a contradiction which harbors distrust and reveals rule by threat of violence (Rule by law, opposed to Rule of Law)
- Leads to a definition of Morality as reciprocity of property rather than an alignment of the agency of group members. This opens up immoral actions which appear moral. Liberty in exchange for taxation (opposed to the Social Contract based on Agency)
- The sovereignty of the wolf rises from an imposition on the autonomy of others, then trades this autonomy back in exchange for taxation as liberty, a reduction of autonomy. This appears as moral by the wolf’s standard (reciprocity)- it stands as a reciprocal exchange.
- The presumption that sovereignty extends liberty (opposed to preserving autonomy) places an unnatural (man-made) condition on the granting of rights. Rights are granted only if a profit extends back to the sovereign. Granting liberty only when profitable.
- The presumption that sovereignty extends liberty (opposed to preserving autonomy), removes a constraint on the application of force – that being the societal purpose of force exists to preserve autonomy. Preservation of autonomy provides a constraint to Rule of law and military application. This closes the door to undue conquest which may result in centuries of retaliation and hostilities and closes the door on statute law and regulations (State overreach) which often acts to suppress agency of some for the benefit of others.
- Leads to law out of government.
In each of the cases above the agency of the sovereign does not account for autonomy as the means of maximizing agency within the group, by ensuring all interaction are limited to alignment of agency. Without this dimension of decidability, a sovereign system can organize in ways which suppress agency and eventually lead to the demise of the system (either by creating circumstance which demands retaliation – rebellion or reducing productivity of the group)
The Sheepdog rises by preserving autonomy and never acts outside of Natural Law. In fact, the application of Natural Law leads naturally to the establishment of Sheepdog sovereignty. This demonstrates integrity and consistency to the non-sovereign polis which encourages cooperation, reduces concerns of overreach. When Natural Law flows out of preservation of autonomy (opposed to profit by production) application of law becomes immune to short-term profit incentives, aligns with commons creation (as described in Part 1). It aligns agency across the polis from the rulers down into the polis. Sheepdog Sovereignty leads to a government under Natural Law – thus nomocracy.
The Wolf acts on incentives to obtain asymmetrical benefits. The Sheepdog acts on incentives to preserve the ability to obtain asymmetrical benefits.
Both forms of sovereignty stand up to truthful testimony and afford observability, so this diatribe does not stand as a rebuttal to The Wolf’s arguments but rather presents a choice.
This choice affords
- better internal consistency with Natural Law (no activities outside of Natural Law)
- provides decidability regarding limitations to power within the realm, and application of power outside the realm
- aligns commons creation to natural law, and a means to measure the value of the social commons.
Natural Law based on Autonomy provides decidability and limits to Rule
(no imposition on autonomy of the polis)
Natural Law based on Autonomy provides decidability and limits to conquest
(establishment or preservation of autonomy for another polis)
I’ve named this site – Two wolves in reference to an analogy about a battle between two dogs fighting within us, one good, one bad. The dog which wins is the dog you choose to feed.
I present you with this same choice.
Which dog will you feed, the wolf, or the sheepdog?
Up Next – Part 3: The choice is yours.
[the idea of colonialism was raised – I’m not advocating an isolationist or non-aggressive stance, but rather a constraint and metric for decidability regarding the use of force. A region which exists in the absence of rule of law, or a culture which suppresses agency then colonization would stand as a net benefit for all. Lastly, I’m not against taxation for protection, but rather the reasoning behind taxation exists as necessary payment to preserve one’s own agency, one’s own autonomy which requires sovereignty, culture, participation by individuals (support of the group ensures circumstances where one can live with autonomy)]