Arguments for State Legitimacy Rebutted

By: Daniel Engerer

In society, only that which is perceived as legitimate is enforceable. If people view an institution or act as immoral, they will naturally view it with outrage and, if practical, even forcibly resist it. Conversely, if people view an institution as just, then they will generally leave it alone. This is especially true regarding the use of violence. The exact same physical act, when viewed through a different lens, can be perceived as either just and moral, or pure evil. For instance, shooting someone can be an act of legitimate self-defense, or wanton murder. Likewise, the mechanics of lovemaking are not all that dissimilar from rape, although the two acts are worlds apart.

This being said, one of the most powerful tools of the state is its perceived legitimacy.

While some argue that government is a “necessary evil”, most people believe that government is not evil at all, but instead a proper institution which exercises legitimate authority. Of course, If it can be shown that the state’s authority is legitimate, then we have no business resisting it. But, as we are about to demonstrate, that is not the case.

There are several arguments for the legitimacy of the state, all rebutted below.

Land Ownership

According to the common-sense idea of property rights, property owners have authority to determine what actions are permitted (or prohibited) on their property (see: property rights). Land can be a form of property. Therefore, if someone owns land, they have the moral right to exclude other people from trespassing on or performing certain actions on their land. In short, the concept is “your house, your rules”. You wouldn’t walk into someone’s house and think you have the right to tell them what things they can and cannot do. Likewise, you would laugh at someone if they came in your house and told you that you’re not allowed to drink wine or watch movies. The same concept applies to land. Of course, you can’t just do absolutely ANYTHING on your land, such as murder, torture, rape, etc. on your land just because you own it. This is no different from the idea that you may own a gun, as long as you don’t use it to commit aggression (murder, assault, etc.).

Building on this principle, it would make sense that if government owns land, then government can tax and enforce law/rules on its land. This would be essentially no different than an amusement park or golf club charging admission fees (and enforcing rules) to use its property.

As with any physical property, investing labor into a physical object is a minimum criteria for owning it (see: property). Of course, the owner of property can transfer rights by selling or giving his/her property away.

There’s just one small problem: Government does not own any land. As common-sense would dictate, one does not have the right to enforce arbitrary rules (in the form of taxes, laws, etc.) on land that one does not own. The vast majority of “government land” was not obtained legitimately (through homesteading, sale, or gift), but simply through arbitrary “I want it, therefore it’s mine” land-grabs, which are no more legitimate than pointing at the moon and claiming it as your property. Don’t believe it? Take any “government land” plot in the world and trace its ownership back to its origins; Chances are, the land was either claimed arbitrarily (without homesteading) or stolen from its original owners.
An even more compelling argument against government legitimacy relates to privately-owned land. Even governments themselves generally do not claim to own all land within a country. For instance, the U.S. government clearly and explicitly recognizes privately-owned land. To this day, the U.S. government even goes so far as to issue a document called a “land patent” to private land owners, if they’re willing to pay a small extortion fee. The language within a land patent is absolutely clear and explicit, describing the private land as “allodial”.

From Duhaime’s law dictionary:

“Allodial: It is the opposite of the feudal system as it supposes no obligation to another (ie. a lord). When the USA broke away from England, the unfeterred use and charging of land by the owner was a primary objective.”


“Allodial title is a real property ownership system where the real property is owed free and clear of any superior landlord. In this case, the owner will have an absolute title over his or her property. Property owned under allodial title is referred as allodial land. Allodial lands are the absolute property of their owner, and are not subject to any service or acknowledgment to a superior. In allodial lands there will not be any control by a superior landlord.”

Earlier, we established the common-sense principle that only the legitimate land owner has authority over his/her land. Therefore, it follows that if government does not own land, then it has no right to enforce any law (except for natural law, which is enforceable by everyone, everywhere) on private land.

Why in the world would government, in no uncertain terms, recognize allodial land ownership if it had no intention of respecting said ownership by leaving owners the alone on their own property? After all, the fact that your house may be on privately-owned land won’t stop IRS agents and police from kicking down your door when you fail to pay their extortion fees. The most likely explanation for this inconsistency is that people have generally viewed all laws as equally legitimate as natural law, thereby superseding property rights. Of course, we know that this is complete nonsense.


Democracy truly is mob rule and nothing more. Since when does opinion magically create authority? If you lived on an island with 1,000 people and they all voted to have someone raped, would that mean the rape that occurred was not wrong? While democracy is better than monarchy, there is no philosophical justification stemming from majority opinion.

A Constitution

A constitution is essentially a founding document which describes the basic structure and rules of an entity, be it a private company, club, or government. However, If no previous authority exists (such as that which comes from land ownership), a “constitution” means nothing. I cannot simply write on a piece of paper “I have the right to rob you” and magically obtain the right to rob you. The fact that some people called “the founding fathers” got together and all agreed to sign the U.S. constitution some ~200 years ago adds zero legitimacy to said document. In short, the constitution is a worthless piece of paper with no authority.

Now, let’s say I own a private company and want to document the rules and regulations of my company in my own constitution of sorts. Does this constitution grant me authority to create these rules? No, the fact that I own the company (and/or the building which my company operates in, and/or the land which the building rests on) is what grants me authority to create said rules. My “constitution” is merely a recording of these rules.

Writing things on paper does not grant legitimacy.

The Emperor has no Clothes

While these attempts to justify the government are far more preferable than arbitrary, boot-on-your-face enforcement, any honest and intelligent human being can prove that the government has no leg to stand on. The state is a massive lie and nothing more.