“The Structure of Government” by Ayn Rand


mr. n I don’t know exactly how to start off on this I guess it is a rather broad topic but what would you say is the most valuable political system valuable from what ten point you really should mean what is the right or the proper political system since political systems are man-made in a matter of human choice the question should be what is the right political system is net what you mean yes for capitalism of course total uncontrolled less a fair capitalism which means a separation of state and economics well isn’t when we speak of political systems we usually think of capitalism as an economic system and a political system such as a republic or a democracy but that is correct but capitalism should be really called the political economic system because every economic system acquires in depends on a certain kind of political structure and the structure appropriate to a capitalist economy is very public but a specific kind of republic whatever the American kind the Republic established in basic principle by the American Constitution namely a system which is devised to limit the power of the government and properly reduces the government to only one function the only function which a government may morally have namely the protection of individual rights mr. Bendele thing you’re often stated then a proper government should be limited by a written constitution in view of what has happened to the US Constitution do you think that any written document can be effective in limiting government power no matter how strictly written if the heart Ricky written is yes there is a determined power trying to enlarge the sphere of government activity well that two aspects your question really if you are asking can a written document autom ethically guarantee compliance with that document and automatically protect a society from any groups that may want to destroy the document and the answer of course is no nothing can automatically establish a perfect system which will work regardless of the philosophical knowledge and understanding of the citizens of that country and no document will protect a country when an if men do not choose to think do not choose to understand their actions and to protect the right principles therefore no document is protection against the philosophical status and knowledge of the citizens of a country but assuming an enlightened electorate or a country with the proper intellectual foundation written document is necessary because it limits the power of the government it is an objective point of reference in case or any doubts as to the power of the government lies in what type of law in and observant besides it’s clear what happened the American Constitution that proves my point it proves the necessity of a constitution why because in order to undermine the Constitution that the extent to which it has been undermined it was necessary to rely on certain countries or badnesses vagueness in the Constitution the whole destruction of our political system was done by means of certain clauses a contradictory clause in the Constitution the worst of which was the Interstate Commerce Clause and the right of eminent domain also entered to this day when the Congress is passing blatantly unconstitutional laws it may observe the Supreme Court is stretching the meaning of the Constitution further and further in order to validate these laws but the fact that they are obliged to stretch the meaning is the best proof that a constitution is necessary and does work now what would happen if our elected today was more enlightened politically and philosophically the Supreme Court would not be able to pass as constitutional the kind of decisions which they have passed therefore if you observe the history of the infringement of the Constitution you will see that the poll came from the fact that the first small dubious infringement were accepted if the electors were properly enlightened the objections would have and should have risen the first time that a blatantly unconstitutional decision was passed or an unconstitutional law was approved mister keuner mister and why is a republic more proper than a democracy well because we have to define our concept clearly a democracy in the political meaning of the the original meaning the final specific political system means a country governed by unlimited majority rule a democracy is a form of government in which the majority has the right to vote on anything and to pass any laws they see fit the sole standard of legality being a majority vote that is counting of numbers democracy is incompatible with a constitution because the principle there is that the sole standard of right or wrong in politics is accounting of Knossos and majority rule the best example of that system are the original city-states of Greece well if you remember the majority had the right to vote a death sentence for a man if they disapproved of his ideas and Socrates is the best example the most famous one of what is wrong with a system of democracy Socrates was condemned to death because the majority of the citizens found that his ideas were subversive to the use of Athens and he refused to escape though he had the chance he declared that his fellow citizens were wrong in their decision but they had the right to vote away his life which is a ghastly example the sanction of the victim in a perfect example the nature of a democracy as a political system of government now a republic properly is a system of government which is limited by the individual rights of men which means that the majority may vote but only in a strictly limited and defined political sphere and that the individual rights of men are not subject to majority vote not to government legislation all that the government can and should do in regard to rights is protect them but government cannot infringe them that is in essence the nature of a proper Republic would you look upon a representative democracy as curing any of the flaws of democracy or merely lessening them I would say what’s in them if anything if I representative democracy you mean a system which is based on the democratic principle of unlimited majority rule but merely delegate that power to the chosen representative rather than to the direct boat of the citizens is that what you mean no that would be even worse because for a large country a majority would not be likely to agree on some vicious legislation whereas a small a chosen body of Representatives unguided and unlimited by any restricting principle is the pattern of a tyranny when your representatives in the name of the alleged majority may be guilty of any form of violating individual rights are establishing complete status tyranny yeah that would be consistent with your principle if the principle is unlimited majority rule mr makovski my friend you have said that the government should protect the individual should the government protect an assemblage of individual individuals such as a union well yes and no it is a sense a union or any group of individuals cannot have any rights other than the rights of its individual members therefore the government can protect the Union or any other organization only from the standpoint of the individual rights of its members being entrenched if somebody attacks a union by force then the government should protect it but the reason why should protect it is the individual rights of the members if however you mean protecting a union as a group against its own members that is obviously a contradiction to protect a group as such means to enforce to port by the force of law some actions of that group against individual members who may disagree that of causes direct contradiction that right cannot be claimed by anyone mr. Finkelstein yes miss rent which rights would you say that by in taking into consideration the Constitution the United States which right do the government possess over the people politically the government or any group organization does not have any rights let’s be very clear about it right a concept which pertains and can pertain only to the individual and what is the base of Rights there is really only one right but it is so fundamental that all other rights are merely derivatives and Restatement of the same basic right that right is the right of a man to his own life to begin with a right let’s define that is a moral concept in which the fines and sanctions and men’s freedom of action in an individual in excuse me in a social context a right is a social moral concept it pertains to what is right what is good for men to do in relation to other men on a desert island you would still need morality but you wouldn’t need right because there would be no one there to infringe your freedom of action it gives in a society the question of Rights arise and the basic issue there is does one man have the right to dispose of the life of another the basic right that has to be respected and defined in a social context is the ownership the property if you will of a man’s right to own life a and once you have established that a man is the owner of his own life that he has a right to live that his life is his to dispose of it does not belong to anyone else you have the base from which all other rights are to be derived if a man has a right to his own life then he has a right to take all those actions which are necessary necessary by his nature as men as a rational being to sustain and protect his own life and if it is all right then it is equally applicable to all individuals to all human beings in order to prove that a certain action is in fact a right you have to prove that is required by men’s nature you would have to base it on the nature of men as he exists if so then it is equally applicable to all other men and therefore the first issue to be observed very carefully in deciding what is or is not properly a right is the issue of does the claimed right applied equally to all men or not if it does not and it cannot be right for instance an example of it when some men today assert economic right so-called when they claim that they’re entitled to the unearned support of other men when men claims that they’re entitled to minimum sustenance to be provided by others this is obviously a denial of the concept of Rights because in order to provide a learn sustenance to one men you will have to exact slave labor from another man and you cannot claim the right to infringe the rights of one man in favor of another that is denying the concept of rights nothing which impinges some man’s rights for the benefit of others can in logic and in morality be claimed to be a right a right has to apply on equal terms that is as the same principle to every member of the human race mister Oh sting oh I just wanted to know what position now the American government should take what position now the American government should take or any government that we’re talking about the political government we’re talking about should take in protecting the rights of the individual well first define how can rights being pinched the basic way in which one man can infringe the rights of another is by the use of physical force or compulsion anything which you force and meant to do without his voluntary choice and consent is an infringement of his rights therefore what the government is required to protect men from is the use of physical violence the government has to be an arbiter who settles disputes among men according to object principles in order to prevent them from resorting to violence and in case of crime or foreign attack the government’s duty to protect a man from the aggressors who are using physical force against him those are the basic functions of a government and the way in which a government protects individual right thank you mr. Bhandari getting back to clinical systems do you feel that it’s desirable for clinical government to be instituted as we have this country divided into areas and and geographic areas be given a certain minimum amount of representation the national legislature is speaking of the issue of reapportionment I’m speaking of the idea of each state having two votes in the Senate as opposed to a system where they’d have a proportion to population oh yes that is the same issue yes of course it is absolutely essential to have local state representation as apart from individual citizens representation here the issue is one of political structure because it is not sufficient to decide that we want a government which protects individual rights our good intentions are sufficient the desire to have a free country and the government of pre institutions is not sufficient you have to know what kind of structure we’ll carry out that ideas that intention and the first problem in political structure is how to prevent the government from becoming tyrannical or oppressive since the government has a monopoly on the use of physical force and by the nature of a government it has to have that monopoly since it is the protector of men against force and the agency which uses force under laws under strictly and objectively defined laws a government has to be the kind of agency now the problem becomes how to devise a system in which this institution that uses force cannot step out of its boundaries and become an institution of arbitrary tyranny arbitrary whim to do that it is necessary to have the system of checks and balances which was the great achievement of the founding fathers they devised the system which could not rest merely on the good intentions or the promises of any one particular office holder they made it impossible for any particular branch of government to reserve total power and to establish tyranny now when you speak of checks and balances it is essential then to have local government which can serve as a deliberate antagonist not an ally but a check meaning an antagonist on the power of the central government and the duties of both have to be balanced in such a way that each serves to prevent the other from unconstitutional as a patient of power now but when you want to establish a balance of that kind you have to consider whom or what are you balancing after all men live in certain localities if you have a large country a federal government is at a great distance from you an individual citizen in a given area cannot exercise direct control over the federal government and for that it isn’t to spread his ideas to such an extent that he would get a majority of the whole country is an impossible concept how then can an individual citizen has a certain proper influence on the conduct of the central government only so a series of steps of local governments or which progressively or going down are closer and closer to the influence of the immediate citizens involved therefore pure locality your geographical position becomes of enormous importance what you have to protect and bear in mind is the fact that your government has to be structured in such a manner that your local citizens exercise direct power over their local authorities then you arise a step higher and you have say County authorities then state authorities then regional and federal in other words you need a hierarchy which ultimately rests on the actual place of residence are the citizens who are going to vote and direct the course of the country I must also remember in politics that citizens as such men do not represent a political unit to have a country you need two elements men and geography a country is always limited by its geographical boundaries and the men who live in it are than its citizens but it is not a collection of men floating in space so that for instance such a phenomenon as the gypsies who travel all over the world could not be considered an issue or a country they’re individuals but they have no geographical locations they are nomads therefore they are not yet the element of a political structure now the proposal to limit all political voting district to one man one word as a code is in effect the attempt to destroy all political structure and to reduce the country to a nomad population ruled directly by one central government it’s one of the most dangerous proposals for the destruction of a political structure in this country and it is direct road to a democracy in the original and worse sense of the world to unlimited majority rule and to living the country at the in the power and at the whim of any temporary majority of the moment if however your purpose to protect individual rights you need a series of semi sovereign states semi sovereign localities governed by its local population been united in the wider entity which is the United States mr. Gaddafi along this line you would then be in favor of such a thing as a filibuster which limits majority role rule well that is a small technical question I’m not sure that that is the real and proper means I would be in favor of a filibuster only one on one principle that is that one must not gag the bear debate or limited in time in a parliamentary form of government the legislature should have the time to discuss the proposed legislature however it is also true that the filibuster could go on forever now that’s a purely technical question of how do you lay down the rules of your Parliament in such a way is to give ample time to for debate yet not allowed to degenerate in the sheer obstruction that is the small and not too important technical question because what your legislature should limited by is your Constitution not what kind of tricks you may pull on the floor of Congress to prevent or hasten the passage of a particular law what is really important here is principles define in the Constitution of what the Congress may or may not vote about mr. mr. ski do you think the choosing of the judiciary the Supreme Court in this country is the best way do you think that the president should choose the judiciary in this country for the highest court or do you believe that gives the judiciary too much power too much way to the presidency oh that’s a very difficult technical question I would say no in principle not necessarily it’s not a bad system because if you remember their reasons for it were to make judiciary independent of the direct popular vote independent of any shifting majority of the moment therefore in principle this was not an impractical idea however it is an example of why no system can survive the absence of philosophical consistency on the part of the citizens who practice it because observe for instance it used to be an unwritten law but a proper moral check on the president arbitrary whim that the justices should be selected from representative of both parties and that they should be men who have done distinguished legal service now this was not a constitutional provision but it was a proper unwritten law observing how many institutions that has been discarded and broken progressively the presidents have been appointing justices not by the principle of merit and not on the ground of z-pass Distinguished Service but personal political alliances and handling it like a political reward I think the worst appointments in this respect were Kennedy’s when he appointed young men who maybe very distinguished citizens 40 years from now but not in their searches mr. Finkelstein mr. ng spoke before about the fact that the Supreme Court has been unreasonably instructing the Constitution of the United States what limitations would you put what extra limitations if any would you put on the Supreme Court now now it just is the Supreme Court that you have to begin I would put the following limitation if you want to indulge just in Utopia building but if you ask me a theoretical question the limitation should be written in the Constitution or the following effect Congress shall pass no law which contradicts other laws on the status and which is so unclear that no two congressmen or private lawyers can decide what it means the president the state of this Supreme Court is not entirely the Supreme Court’s fault the real trouble there is as follows today’s congressman and by today I mean progressively in the past decades being at the mercy of any of the next election enough total political ideological kills in the country have been very careful to pass the kind of non objective laws that could please they hoped everybody in the electorate next time they came up for election for the passage of vaguely worded non objective laws the kind won’t antagonize anybody has been a habit growing progressively more so in the past decades when you pass non objective laws somebody ultimately has to decide what that law means and therefore Congress has been dumping on the Supreme Court the kind of laws which they didn’t trouble to make clear and the Supreme Court was in effect forced to legislate because Congress had failed to do so there have even been in the past complaints from Supreme Court justices on just this point that the laws they are asked to pass on our so none of ejected so vaguely worded that they are forced to legislate in effect therefore if you wanted to correct the present situation it would have to start with the correction of the manner in which Congress passes laws though other would have to be stricter provisions for the objectivity of the laws enacted I don’t know we have time to answer more than one very brief question I’d like to ask one I don’t know how if the answer can be brief though who in in this society do you think should determine the constitutionality of laws in an ideal society should be the job of the Supreme Court but I think the Constitution should be a little more explicit about the field in which the government has or does not have the right to pass laws or control I’m sorry I see everybody has questions but I think that’s all we have time for this evening I want to thank voidness our ski Arthur Finkelstein Kent Q no Anitha Gandolfi for joining us on our panel this evening and of course miss Rand thank you very much tonight we have looked at various political systems and their relative merits this is your host Jack rest speaking good evening

Maurice Vega

5 Responses

  1. After you read all of Ayn Rand’s non-fiction works I encourage you to look into her marginalia — her notes in the various books she learned from herself. That includes “Human Action” by Ludwig von Mises who clearly played a role and Ayn Rand’s understanding of capitalism. After that, read the intellectual giants who follow in those traditions, like “Man, Economy, and State” by Murray Rothbard, and “Democracy: The God That Failed” Hans Hoppe.

  2. how does a written document signed by a few people force compliance?…guns…how does a written statutory document prove jurisdiction…guns

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