What Social Contract?

Tom Woods replies to the common anti-libertarian argument that demands libertarians leave the country if they don’t like the system, the rules, etc.

Further Reading…

“For this reason, whoever desires liberty, should understand these vital facts, viz.:

1. That every man who puts money into the hands of a “government” (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against him, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will.

2. That those who will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future.

3. That it is a perfect absurdity to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man’s money without his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect him, if he does not wish them to do so? To suppose that they would do so, is just as absurd as it would be to suppose that they would take his moeny without his consent, for the purpose of buying food or clothing for him, when he did not want it.

4. If a man wants “protection,” he is competent to make his own bargains for it; and nobody has any occasion to rob him, in order to “protect” him against his will.

5. That the only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to themselves, that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for their benefit, and not for their injury.

6. That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted for a moment, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support.”

No Treason, The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner

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5 thoughts on “What Social Contract?

  1. Let’s set all the straw men aside. Let’s start instead with some free, autonomous, adult, “self-owned” individuals. When these men ratified the Constitution they were facing a hostile, foreign, authoritarian government. As has been done throughout human history, these men banded together for their mutual defense and their mutual benefit, knowing as Benjamin Franklin said, that if they failed to “hang together” then they “would all hang separately”.

    They negotiated among themselves an explicit, written agreement, binding themselves and their posterity to the creation of a nation, in this case called the “United States of America”.

    Among the items of this explicit, written agreement, was a structure for the creation, execution, and adjudication of laws.

    There was no agreement that everyone must consent to every law. It was assumed that there would often be two or more sides to every issue, and that good and honest men will often disagree as to which are the best laws.

    But there was a good faith agreement as to the “rule of law”. That those who disagree were free to dissent and lobby and educate others so that any law might eventually be made better or be removed.

    Those acting in good faith will continue to obey the decision of the majority even while working to change the law (unless their conscience made a higher demand upon their obedience).

    Thus, the thief may disagree with a law against stealing, but the rest of us, to secure a right to property for ourselves and our neighbors, will enforce that rule.

    And the tax evader may disagree with a law to pay for government services through taxes, yet the rest of us, to secure our right to pay only our share of the costs and not his, will also enforce this rule.

    So this is not about “implicit” or “social” contracts. This is about a written agreement between you and me and every other citizen.

  2. “But there was a good faith agreement as to the “rule of law”. That those who disagree were free to dissent and lobby and educate others so that any law might eventually be made better or be removed.

    Those acting in good faith will continue to obey the decision of the majority even while working to change the law (unless their conscience made a higher demand upon their obedience). ”

    That’s what I’m doing.

    “And the tax evader may disagree with a law to pay for government services through taxes, yet the rest of us, to secure our right to pay only our share of the costs and not his, will also enforce this rule. ”

    At least you admit that you’re using the power of the state to force your will on others. All I’m presenting here is the idea that everyone would be better off if you all would stop doing that.

  3. I don’t use the power of the state. The state is us working together for our mutual benefit. We gave the power to tax to Congress through the contract and later, by our explicit agreement, added the income tax in the 16th Amendment.

    If you truly believe that two or more free persons may form a binding contract for their mutual benefit, then you need to stop pretending that the explicit, written contract does not exist.

    The nation and the state exist only by a consensus of the people who occupy the territory and that consensus is witnessed by the contract between them.

    When a nation is formed, the whole of the people assert ownership of the territory as its eminent domain. All private property within that domain exists according to law, as created by the means specified in the constitution.

    All practical rights arise by agreement. Other rights are merely rhetorical.

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