Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Village meetings, taxes, and the right of rebellion

This came about because of the post about taxation and coercion. The question was whether or not people had a right to be totally free from a sort of coercion that I argued was part of basic decision making. If you democratically participate in, or give your assent to, decisions regarding what people should do with their resources, on the one hand you should be bound by it, and such a thing may be essential to an ordinarily operating society, but....On the other hand there's the question of your view of the legitimacy of the system you live under as well as the organs of collective decision making. I think that people always possess the inalienable right to decide that the system they live under is unjust and try to alter its structure to become more just. People, in my opinion, always have the right to defect from the society they live under and to form a new one operating according to rules that they feel are more just, as well as to try to get parts of the society who generally disagree with things to secede from the greater political entity. Of course there are issues regarding minimum human rights, but I don't think that that invalidates the concepts. People may argue that a setup like this would cause unceasing revolution, and maybe they're right, but that's the price that we may have to pay for liberty.

All of this too is easier said than done; society is very complex and if you want to fundamentally alter it it's a long term project and not something that can just happen in a day. Founding your own community in the wilderness is something that takes a long time to really make viable as well. So does secession.

Anyways, wanted to correct the impression that if society agrees on something that you have no right to oppose it or object to it. Rousseau's Social Contract, where he famously wrote in response to people who may want out of it that others should "force them to be free" is subject to constant revision by people who are either born into it by chance or by folks who though living under it fundamentally come to oppose certain features of it. The idea of a near omnipotent legislator who can found a Constitution, taken in this instance to mean a basic political structure of society, that will be close to ideal and that will last forever is a figment of the imagination. The basic set up of society, political as well as social, is always up for questioning, and ultimately it's the people themselves who serve as the legislators.

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