Legimimacy in Law, or, the Invasion of the Cola Commandos
Badiun proposes that, in my novel THE GOLDEN AGE, the Hortators, and the Sophotechs, formed a sort of hidden government, because they employed their considerable powers of persuasion to persuade people. I pointed out that the persuasion was non-coercive, ergo non-governmental. he replied that all governments are ultimately non-coercive, since government rests on the consent of the governed. I accused him of propounding a paradox: that law was the same as non-law. At this point, I need more space to clarify my position:
The beginning of the discussion is here
"If government is to govern others by using coercion, i.e. strength, its own power must be derived from something else." "the government is based on the consent of the governed."
Ah, but to what, exactly, do the governed consent when they consent?
You propound a pretty paradox: that government must rest on the consent of the governed, since no government rests on force alone to compel the consent of the governed. Since government rests on the voluntary consent of the governed (you argue) ergo all consent of any body has the same moral suasion as obedience to a government: governments that do not rely on force are merely secret governments.
By that logic, the Coca Cola bottling company, General Motors, the National Rifle Association, the Democrat Party, the Roman Catholic Church, Oprah, and the New York Times are secret governments, because they can persuade so many people to adopt certain ideas and behaviors, including the consumption of cola.
Hobbes likewise propounded a paradox: he argued that if you agree to a highwayman to ransom your life, you must carry out the agreement even when the highwayman no longer has a pistol at your head, on the grounds that the agreement was a rational exchange -- your life for your money. He went on to argue that even when princes acted like Highwaymen, rebellion was always illogical and immoral.
His argument suffered from the same shortcoming as yours. He drew no distinction between cases where the use of force is legitimate versus illegitimate, just as you draw no distinction between cases where the right to use force is present versus absent.
Might I suggest that the concept of 'legitimacy' is fundamental to this discussion?( Collapse )