Dakota Access Pipeline Struggle

The United States government is telling the people who live in and around the Standing Rock Native American reservation in North Dakota that they have no say in whether an oil pipeline will be constructed near the reservation. The people (mostly Native Americans) who live near where the pipeline is slated to be installed are virtually unanimous in saying they do not want the pipeline installed.

The people opposed to the pipeline have many excellent reasons and arguments for their position. See this video and this video for some of them. One major objection to the pipeline is that it puts the drinking water of the community at a high risk of pollution even though the pipeline will go under the river because when oil leaks it goes up as well as down, as in this example. Another objection is that its installation violates sacred Native American land. Native Americans say (truthfully) that the land outside the reservation where the pipeline is slated to go is part of the land that belongs to the Native Americans, as their sovereign land, by virtue of the still-valid (even if often not honored) Fort Laramie Treaty, and therefore nobody has a right to install a pipeline there without the approval of the Native American tribes that are party to this treaty.

All of the above arguments are important ones. But here's another one. It is a general moral principle--and one of the core principles of egalitarianism: The only people who  can make laws that people in a local community are obligated to obey are the egalitarians in the local community, in other words those in the local community who value equality (in the sense of no rich and no poor) and mutual aid, the values that are expressed in the principle of "From each according to reasonable ability, to each according to reasonable need or desire."

As long as the egalitarians who live in the local community where the pipeline is slated to go say they don't want it, NOBODY has any right to force these people to accept the pipeline. PERIOD!*

The basis for the U.S. government's use of force (including violence, recently) against the people protesting the pipeline is what we call the invalid authoritarian principle. This is a terrible principle that says you must obey the highest level of government (the federal, in this case) just because the government declares that it is legitimate. NO! Read here how people have very rightly rejected this terrible principle. It needs to be rejected a whole lot more. (Read "What Makes A Government Legitimate?" about the valid versus invalid authoritarian principle.)


There may be some reasonable arguments in support of the Dakota Access pipeline. Those who think the pipeline should be installed would, in an egalitarian society, have two choices:

#1. Use persuasion and offers of some kind of deal or compromise to reach a mutually agreed upon plan with the egalitarians in the local community where the pipeline is slated to go, a plan that may or may not include installing the pipeline in the originally slated area.

#2. Declare that the people in the local community where the pipeline is slated to go are, by objecting to the pipeline, so egregiously attacking core egalitarian values that they must be considered anti-egalitarians, and on this basis call for egalitarians elsewhere to join in using whatever force or even violence is necessary to install the pipeline. If proponents of the Dakota Access pipeline can make a persuasive argument along this line, fine. Anybody who wishes to submit such an argument to us should do so and we will post it here for egalitarians to discuss and debate.


* This is valid authoritarian principle. The opposite principle, the invalid authoritarian principle, says that you have to obey the highest body of government no matter what, just because the government declares it rules legitimately. (Read "What Makes A Government Legitimate?" about the valid versus invalid authoritarian principle.) People in Boston are fighting against the invalid authoritarian principle's application, in which the Federal Government is forcing a Boston community to have a dangerous gas pipeline installed against its will, as you can read about here. Read here how people have explicitly rejected the invalid authoritarian Principle in large historic struggles.