Washington Metro Objectivism Discussion (WMOD)

            Wednesday, June 21, 2000   

      "Governance and the State within a 
        Libertarian/Objectivist Society"

                 By Bert Ely

Key to libertarian and Objectivist philosophy is a strong distrust of, if 
not outright hostility towards the state, or government.  Yet libertarian 
and Objectivist philosophy is premised in part on the existence of property 
rights and the right to enter freely into contracts.  Property rights and 
contracts, however, have no value unless they can be enforced in a just 
manner; i.e. in accordance with previously agreed terms and conditions.  In 
a large, industrialized, and largely urban society, such as the United 
States, there exists a vast web of property and contractual rights, all of 
which are dependent upon reliable enforcement under well-established laws 
and legal principles which are intended to govern the myriad of human and 
organization interactions within society.  In effect, in order for such a 
society to function effectively, there must be a governance mechanism, 
capped by a law-making apparatus and a dispute-resolution process with 
enforcement powers, that functions efficiently and free of corruption.  Yet 
these mechanisms have nothing to do with the state, per se.  Hence, in 
order to advance the development of a libertarian/Objectivist philosophy, 
it is essential to differentiate societal governance from the concept of 
the state as an entity within society pursuing its own self-interest.

Bert will begin his talk by exploring the governing challenge, starting 
with a set of assumptions about a libertarian/Objectivist society, 
including its population, economy, and notions of personal conduct.  He 
will then describe various types of human interactions within such a 
society which raise governance issues because of the many types of human 
conflicts that arise from those interactions.  After that, he will discuss 
the many types of organizations and groupings within society, starting with 
the family.  Bert will then outline the issues which must be addressed in 
governing human and organizational interactions within an advanced society 
as well as limits on the assumptions which can be made about human behavior 
in a libertarian/Objectivist society.

In the second portion of his talk, Bert will share his thoughts on how to 
meet the governing challenge from a libertarian/Objectivist perspective. 
As he will explain, the foundation of this governance process must be a 
written constitution directly controlled by the citizenry.  That document 
must create the two primary governing institutions of society -- a 
legislative body, completely detached from the state, and an independent 
judiciary.  These primary institutions require certain supporting 
institutions, including enforcing the law, incarcerating criminals, 
recording property interests, addressing public health issues, determining 
citizenship, running elections, and taking a period census.  Bert will then 
discuss the role of the state, however limited it might be, in a society 
with governance institutions that exist above and independent of the state. 
To the extent determined by the societal legislature, the state may 
perform certain supporting functions of the governance mechanism, such as 
running the jails and administering the patent and trademark office. 
Separately, the state would conduct those activities commonly attributed 
to a state that are authorized to it by the constitution, with oversight 
from the societal legislature.  These activities might consist of national 
defense, the policing function, and such other functions are as appropriate 
in a minimalist state suitable for a libertarian/Objectivist society.

Bert Ely is a financial institutions and monetary policy consultant based 
in Alexandria, Virginia.  An early predictor of the U.S. savings-and-loan 
crisis, Bert consults today on a wide variety of public policy issues 
affecting the financial services sector of the economy and occasionally 
lobbies on these issues.  Hence, he brings to his political theorizing the 
perspective of a practitioner.  Central to Bert's professional work is his 
commitment to eliminating government distortions in the price of credit. 
To that end, he believes that the Federal Reserve should be abolished, 
with the determination of all interest rates left entirely to the financial 
marketplace.  His company web site is http://www.ely-co.com/

              PREVIOUS MEETING

Thanks again to Dave Saum for his Wednesday, May 24, 2000   
talk "What is the Objectivist Method?" Approximately 30
people attended and questions lasted until the restaurant closed.


Please join WMOD on Wednesday, June 21.  Anyone who is
interested in rational discussion of Ayn Rand's ideas is welcome.
Note that our meeting location is Metro accessible.  You can
either join us for drinks at 6:30 with dinner at 7 PM and/or for
the talk (free) at 8:15 PM at the Hunan Palace in Rosslyn, VA
just across the Key Bridge from Georgetown.  The street address is
1812 North Moore Street.  If you come by Metro, get off at the
Rosslyn Metro Exit and the Hunan Palace is only a few feet away.
Take the street exit on N. Moore Street (across street from Roy
Rogers/Burger King), go out of Metro and take a left, and the
Palace is a few feet down N. Moore Street.  If you drive, there is
a parking garage (Allstate) next door to the Palace that is free
after 6:00 PM.  Due to construction you may have to go down the
ramp to the underground level.  There will be a $15 fixed price
dinner (including tax and tip), or you can order from the menu. 
Please RSVP to WMOD at (703) 820-7696 before noon on Wednesday
6/21 so that we can tell the restaurant how many tables to set
up and how many to expect for dinner.  For more information,
call the Hunan Palace at (703) 528-8188, or call David Saum
at (703) 820-7696 (W) or (703) 671-5119 (H).  

                  FUTURE MEETINGS

WMOD meetings are generally held on the third Wednesday of each
month.  We are always looking for new stimulating meeting topics
related to Objectivism.  Please contact WMOD if you have
suggestions for meeting topics and locations, or if you can
volunteer some time to arrange meetings.


        The Objectivist Center (formerly IOS) events
REMINDER: The OC Summer Seminar is in Vancouver from 7/1-7/7 

        Cato Institute Events

        Free-Market.Net Calendar

       Future of Freedom Foundation Events
       Institute for Humane Studies

       The Daily Objectivist
(please let WMOD know about other events that we should list) 
               WMOD Contact Information

The WMOD newsletter is $10/yr, this email newsletter is free.
  Dave Saum
  PO Box 8007
  Falls Church, VA 22041
    Email: DSaum at infiltec.com
    Phone: (703) 820-7696
    Fax: (703) 671-9350
    Web: http://www.infiltec.com/wmod.htm

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