All Laws are Illegitimate. All.

All laws are illegitimate. All.

Fred Bastiat

Laws are rules enforced by government on an involuntary basis. Government is illegitimate, therefore all law is illegitimate. Who enforces those laws, for what reasons, whom those laws apply, and what specific actions those laws demand will vary. It has been the law that slaves must be returned. In many places it is the law that you may not own the means to defend yourself. The law demands I surrender more than half of what I produce. Until last year, the law was that if your grew raisins you had to sell them to only prescribed buyers, in prescribed amounts, at prices set by a pseudo-government agency (note: government). Laws can vary from the absurd to the barbaric. One may define law differently than me, such as law and government may not being conjoined, but that is a different discussion.

Seldom does a person get to opt in and out of a law. Since a law is not voluntary, all laws are illegitimate. This does not however mean that a law may not sometimes reflect a preferred ethical behavior: no murder, no theft, etc. But still the law is illegitimate until such time as each individual is allowed to opt in and opt out. In other words, the subject of a law may be ethical, but the force behind establishing that law remains illegitimate.

The question that then arises is usually one of utility, if government is not maintaining order and peace through law, then how is it done? First, the government certainly does not maintain either order or peace, most of that is done voluntarily by individuals. The most brutal act of violence known to humanity is war and war requires government. Secondly, order and peace can come from society. Societies self organize around shared values and ethics routinely. It is those shared values and ethics that should be explored. Additionally, the required services (security/courts) are easily provided through voluntary organizations.

See Also:
Why Property: Against Legal Positivism
Ancapedia: It’s Legal, Therefore It’s Just
Ancapedia: It’s Illegal, Therefore It’s Unjust