You can read them at the following two links, in full context. I put them up here simply for archival purposes and continuity. Remember, as with all links to Kim du Toit’s blog, The Other Side of Kim (www.theothersideofkim.com), you must copy and paste as referrals from Uncommon Sense are being blocked.
So, here are my more substantive comments. The first is in response to one other of Kim’s readers who is essentially justifying his advocacy of state coercion on the basis of "everybody does it."
“It’s impossible to live in society without the government (and the other members of society) encroaching on your freedom.”
That’s absolutely true, wouldn’t you say? Let’s add a qualification and see if you still agree:
“It’s impossible to live in society without the government (and the other members of society) encroaching on your freedom [to live your own life without harming another soul].”
Still true? Are you willing to stipulate that even if you’re as meek as a monk, never hurting anyone in your life, nor engaging in behavior very likely to hurt others, that your freedom—your freedom to live in peace—is going to be encroached upon by the state?
1. Can that be right?
2. Do you not find that to be an utter outrage?
3. How could you possibly, ever, lend sanction to such a thing in any way, without bringing shame and disgrace upon yourself?
I’ll assume you don’t wish to be shamed and disgraced, so I guess that you and others have all sorts of arguments as to how it’s not shameful, but indeed virtuous to lend a hand in coercing others who are doing nor meaning any harm to you.
You can read his response at the comment thread linked above, but it just comes down to more equivocation and squirming.
This next is in response to Kim, who wishes to point out, essentially, that as fine as philosophical arguments might be, ‘we’ve got work to do.’ That’s fine, and I’m sympathetic to the basic sentiment. But, then again, you have to pay attention to just what sorts of philosophical arguments you’re dismissing out-of-hand for the sake of getting work done. Hitler, of course, had "work" to do, as did Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and a host of others. Clearly, "getting things done" without asking what, and to whom, and by what standard of value, is a recipe for disaster. Of course, the purpose of my comments is to point this out.
"As you seem to espouse a philosophy which has never, ever, been proven to “work” on any scale whatsoever except in the pages of Ayn Rand and Lysander Spooner…”
It works for me. Now, you don’t need to care about that, one way or another, and I expect you don’t. Neither do you have to care about it. You don’t, because I will never, ever in my life demand that you do a single thing that you don’t agree to do. Nor will I ever enlist officials in fine hats to compel you either.
You get to forget completely about me, as I’ll never cause you any harm nor cost you a single penny. Nor will my words and arguments ever make such encroachments or encourage others to do so. Quite the contrary. I’d love to see you pay zero taxes, even if I had to keep on payin’. That’s the depth of my convictions, Kim. In fact, I’d gladly agree to pay double, for the rest of my life, if I could get everyone else off the hook.
You and you friends are preparing to vote soon, eh? I don’t suppose I can count on the same courtesy from you all that I’m extending, eh? I mean, seriously. You want to obligate the livin’hell out of me, don’t you? Sure, not the $50k per year in taxes the current regime has me paying, but something not insignificant, right?
“Okay, here are two examples: private healthcare works better than nationalized healthcare; State-controlled armies work better than private armies.”
Works better for whom, and for what? See, I’m not asking that you and your friends have private or public healthcare, or any healthcare; or any particular kind of army. It’s up to you. Invite me to join. If it looks like a deal, I’m happy to pay. If not, no thanks, and don’t expect me to pay for it.
How can you argue with that?
Oh, I know. That just wouldn’t “work.”
Jumping to Kim’s defense, one of his dittoheads, who clearly has a hard time differentiating between "just leave me out of it, OK?" and, "here, let me tell you how it’s going to be."
"Hmmm … Richard …. trying for an immediate libertopia ain’t going to work.”
Who’s doing that?
Look, folks, it’s really easy to win an argument when you get to state your opponent’s position for him.
How about sticking to what I actually wrote in my post (or in my blog in general), my comments here, or what I’ve linked to. Try this, for instance. And pay close attention to how it explicitly characterizes all political action of the sort you’re talking about.
To another of Kim’s readers who nutshells my comments into the false conclusion that an absence of state coercion means no coercion at all.
"Contrary to Mr. Nikoley’s beliefs, things like theft and coercion work.”
Of course, you’re not quoting me anywhere there, are you? Can you imagine why? Could it be because there is no such quote or direct implication in anything I’ve ever written? In point of fact, I agree with you wholeheartedly, which raises another question. If you can project this false implication from what I’ve written, then what else? Alas, it’s so very easy to make your case when you get to (falsely) state your opponent’s position for him.
Yep, crime does indeed pay; for those smart enough to get away with it. And, of course, you, me, everybody must have government because it “works” in this regard. Without government, we would have crime. Oh, wait…
So here we come to error number two, a common one for statists. Begging the question, i.e., assuming your conclusion. In point of fact: more or less government, more or less crime, unless you want to argue that at the dawn of this country, having almost no government, we had orders of magnitude more crime per capita than we do now.
And how are you defining crime? The US locks up 701 per 100,000 of its citizens—higher than any other country in the world, and higher than any country has ever been, including the USSR and Communist China. Of the roughly 9 million people in prison around the globe, the US has over 2 million of them, 22%. We’re about 4% of the world’s population.
It seems to me that this raises three possibilities:
1. The U.S. Government is the most evil and unjust government ever.
2. The American people are the most evil, crime prone people on earth.
3. There are more “crimes” in America than anywhere else.
Neither possibility seems very flattering for us, does it?
Aside: In July, I drove over 5,000 kilometers through Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. Guess how many highway patrol cops I saw on the auto routes. Zero. None. Yet, for Labor Day weekend, we took a 600 mile round trip to San Diego and I stopped counting cops at 50, and that was shortly after we left for the return.
Care to venture who has the better roadway accident and fatality statistics? But, of course, we have to have government out in force on the road so we won’t have accidents and highway fatalities, right? Oh, wait….
But you know what? I’m not going to argue with you as to whether you need government. It’s clear that you think that you do, and why should I care otherwise? Likewise, all others who think similarly. I’m proscribing nothing for you, or anyone else. Have your government (so that, of course, you won’t have any crime or any other undesirable things that government “works” so well against).
Contrary to your proscriptions for me, I don’t need government. You may think I’m wrong about that, but how can you really argue? I don’t need it, nor do I want it, and I’m happy to live without all its “workings” on my behalf against crime, invasion, fraud, safety net, and all that. Sure, there are risks, but on balance, I’ll take my chances with every risk you can name. Happily.
Now, I fully understand that I, others who think like me, and even those who don’t—but who also don’t care one way or the other—will be at the total mercy of all evil once we no longer have access to all the wonders that government "works" to provide to us, and which we of course can’t possibly attain elsewhere.
Just let me (us) go. After all, without all that great government shielding against crime and every other bad thing, one could rightly predict that we’ll all be dead and gone in no time, and you’ll be left with only those who agree with your proscriptions for their risk management.
Alright, now I get to engage in stating your argument for you. Turnabout, and all that.
OK, so now you can answer that I’m free to go, so why not just leave. I’ll reply and ask why you would want me to go. You’ll say that I shouldn’t be able to free-load on the system, i.e., not pay my fair share. I’ll say that I’m happy to not be provided any services and will do my best to avoid using anything. I’m also willing to pay market for whatever values I do use, like roadways and such. Not good enough, because others will see the great deal I’m getting and we’ll have a huge tragedy of the commons, where people suddenly only want to pay a fair price for actual values they choose to partake.
Now, that might even sound like a curiously pleasant outcome to you. But I assure you it’s not, taking you at your word. What I’ve just described isn’t government, anymore.
Next, Kim chips in, but not to address anything I’ve actually said. Rather, it’s an exercise in laying on reasons why his values need to be imposed upon me and others through the force of the state.
"Here’s the major problem I have with libertarians.”
I don’t really care. Not interested. I have my “problems with conservatives,” but the difference is that my problems don’t extend to forcing you to involve yourself, pay for, or risk your life or health for things I find important.
Yes, you raise the standard set of worries and what-ifs. Look, I love the fact that we kicked ass in WWII. I’m for killing as many Islamists as fast as we can. The moral principle at work is that anytime someone threatens to kill you and can be taken seriously, you are perfectly within your rights (indeed, obligation) to get them first—which is why we ought to be killing hundreds of thousands of them now, not just hundreds and thousands.
Looks like a contradiction, eh?
It isn’t. It does not require the state for me or you to know what’s right and wrong, and what ought to be done about it. In this case, we have hundreds of thousands of killers to kill first. Lots and lots of people think similarly, and some are willing to put their lives on the line. I was a US Navy Officer, on exchange with the French Navy during Gulf War I. Nothing fancy. I was navigator on one of their cruisers. We escorted the drop-off of a bunch trucks and other equipment in Saudi Arabia.
My point is that it is not the political environment that creates the sort of people who take care of business when business needs getting done. Quite the contrary. It is the political environment that is corroding away the American culture and spirit at a pace I can hardly believe.
You think you stem the growing steamroller by appealing to politicians and voting? Excuse me, Kim, but that’s just outright insane. The steamroller destroying this wonderful culture has been getting bigger and picking up speed with every election. It got bigger and picked up steam during Reagan. I liked the guy, really, and wept a few times during the whole funeral thing, but it wasn’t because of his politics. It was because of his spirit, which I just think was light years wide, yet even he wasn’t able to turn things around or even make much of a dent in the long-term scope of things.
Do you get that? Go read some of Reagan’s old speeches, from even before he was governor. You want to talk idealist? Quasi-libertarian, if not the real thing?
And it got worse, even after the painstaking process of getting into the executive office.
Don’t you see the utter hopelessness behind political action of this sort?
Consider this. How much time and effort is spent defending the moral imperative to kill terrorists against the left and other commies? I daresay the effort is on the scale of the task itself. There are two wars being fought, and face it, the only help anyone’s getting from that side is their tax dollars. Do you really think those dollars are worth it?
And face it, they get a say. Their money, they get a say, so a tremendous amount of energy is spent on who gets to force who. Who goes into Billy Beck’s cannibal pot, and who gets to feast.
Kim, do you seriously doubt that if we didn’t have the left to contend with, and didn’t have their tax money, that we couldn’t get the job done in the Middle East, that we couldn’t take care of our own?
I’m making one point here: no coercion. That’s the only point I ever make, so just to remind you, and all this, that I’m saying we’ll do better by not forcing anyone to join us and pay for what we want, and you are arguing that we must force them to do and pay for what you believe is the proper set of values to have.
Let them go, Kim. You really, really don’t need them.
Now is when it begins to get interesting. See, Kim is really unable to raise his argument to a level higher than what can be described as: we need certain things (some of which I agree; we do), and at the risk of not being able to have them (uncertainty), then we must engage the political process to force those who don’t want them, or don’t want them in the same way, to pay for them anyway. So Connie, Kim’s wife, jumps in the fray. It soon becomes clear that her underlying motive is to bait me into something that violates their posting policies so that she can ban me. Of course, this is highly unnecessary, as if you read the comments at http://www.theothersideofkim.com/index.php/tos-shared/comments/9751/ you’ll see that the dittoheads will sing in chorus for just about anything.
“Libertarians think that the world centers around the individual and what is good for a specific individual is therefore good for all individuals, and must be acknowledged as better/greater than the desires/opinions of more than one person.”
Well, I’ve been a libertarian (not a party member) and market-anarchist for going on 12 years, and I’m quite sure I’ve never met another “libertarian” in all time, nor likely for at least the next 12 years that corresponds in any way to that “definition.”
Pardon me, but your paragraph is an absurd contradiction on its face. Libertarians, myself included, tend to think that the world (i.e., the collective mass of individuals) centers around reality, which dictates that the world is not centralized at all. The world “centers” on nothing that’s not man made, and the man-made attempts to centralize it on something are at the root of every political tyranny and other evil throughout history. Most specifically, what is “good for” any given individual, whether actually good or not, is up to that individual, and that applies across the board.
In essence, you’re defining libertarians as totalitarian collectivists, but as goes politics on both sides of the isle, that’s more the mote in your all’s eye. It is you, conservatives and liberals, engaged in what is, essentially, a political war over who gets to force who.
That’s not us, or at least me. So let’s keep it straight, shall we? My point is singular and unwavering. No coercion. I do not require the help, assistance, partnership, or love of anyone who does not of their own volition agree to see things my/our way on the specific issue at hand, whatever it may be. I do not need them, nor will I ever.
Why and how could I possibly need or want someone or some group to the point that I’m willing to compel them to do what they do not wish to do—to compel them to act against their values for the sake of my values? What a sad, twisted, indeed evil world you all promote.
Be good. Be right and just, and you’ll attract plenty of people with which to trade the values necessary for you to prosper and pursue your happiness. How could you possibly ever be happy knowing that you have compelled or promoted the compelling of people to act against whatever values it is they hold? How could you?
“What is disproportionate equality (meaning the complete lack of equality) is for one person to believe that their opinion (or vote) should be counted more than once, simply because they want it that way. Every citizen in this country has ONE vote, that will be counted ONCE. If 100 people vote on something, and 99 people vote one way, and one person votes another way, the lone voter doesn’t get to overrule everyone else. That’s tyranny of the individual, which is just as damning and dangerous as the tyranny of the majority.”
I can’t even believe I’m reading this. How can you write that with a straight face, when you’re openly advocating the 99 forcing the ONE, and then condemning the “tyranny of the majority?”
I’ve dealt with this sort of thing many a time, and it usually never ends well, because it’s very suspiciously like I’m dealing with intellectual dishonesty for the purpose of making a point that’s believed I and others won’t catch.
So, I’m hoping it’s just an oversight.
And the rest of it, about balances and such is just smokescreen gobbledygook. You’re advocating imposing your will on others, are you not? May we just be honest and speak plainly? Are you not advocating, yes or no, that those who lack the fortune to have been in the majority be compelled—under pain of tax, levy, garnishment, arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, or even deadly force if they resist—to abide the will of the majority even if it goes completely against every value they cherish?
Oh, yea, I forgot. It’s that “responsibility” thing.
So, let me ask you this. Supposing things go politically as they’ve been going (safer bet than anything else – go with the trend) for the past many decades. You can see where it ends? I don’t need to explain it to you.
Eventually, your guns, for instance: gone.
I’ll expect you and Kim to suck it up and meet your responsibilities to your majority. Well, would it not be hypocritical otherwise? You sit there and advocate a process, whereby, if you’re lucky, you get to have your way, and if I don’t like it, well, there’s that “responsibility” thing, again. So, how far does your sense of responsibility take you, and if you set any limit, how can you be sure that others have not already surpassed theirs?
Look, we can go at this forever, and it’s always going to be the same. You want to coerce people to act for your values rather than their own, where your values are in conflict. I don’t, and all I really ever need to do is point that out. It’s a simple message, and it’s compelling to a lot of people, over time, even if not to you or Kim.
How prophetic was I about this eventually ending badly? Here’s one to another reader that deals with the "social contract" baloney. Incidentally, it’s noteworthy that the debate always proceeds thusly, with conservatives or liberals. First is an appeal to "what works," and when you annihilate that, there’s an immediate shift to "yea, but don’t you feel some responsibility to give back?" Note that while they couch it in terms of responsibility; as in: voluntary, what they really mean is that they’re going to exact it whether you volunteer or not.
“Commerce and enterprise create wealth, which creates additional demand for the goods and services of even the anarcho-libertarian. This worthy thus benefits from the existence of society, and if nothing else can be considered to have an obligation not only to avoid the use of coercion himself, but also to contribute in some way to making sure that coercion cannot be employed unjustly against others in the society by someone or something too big for an individual to face.”
Though I think your post is overall on point, I’ve got to raise a bit of issue, here. This seems to be a remnant of the notion that the capitalist creates wealth ultimately through exploiting labor, and thus has an obligation to give back.
I’m an employer, and I have at any one time 20-30 employees, and a payroll of anywhere from $100k to $150k per month. I pay full family health care, matching 401K, all that (by my choice; I wish to attract and retain excellent employees). Yes, it’s making me a decent amount of money and should things keep going as they have been, I’ll eventually be pretty smelly rich (though I would hope to be outright stinking, or, ‘please God,’ downright filthy).
But I don’t understand how I would have any further obligation beyond the millions I already pay my employees, not to mention the services I provide my 2,000 clients; services they would not be paying for if they didn’t believe they were achieving a net benefit.
So, we’ve got a net benefit to employees, or otherwise they wouldn’t come to work, and we have a net benefit to clients. What more could I possibly owe to anyone, ever? This is not to say that I don’t want to or won’t do more, but that’s entirely up to me and no one else. In point of fact, I do and I will. But, those will be efforts to promote values I cherish. Hell, my own blog, in my view, is an exercise in charity.
“The thing is, there is a common good. Defining it and keeping it in its box is much harder”
Here’s your problem: common to whom and for what? See, once you can’t clearly answer that question, then you’re talking about coercion. Try this. Do you have much problem determining a common good for you and your family? How about at your job (within context)? How about amongst your small circle of friends (again, in context, i.e., within the confines of the relationship)? How about your church? How about between you and the companies with whom you do business?
See, when you keep it in context, limited to the values being exchanged, it’s not hard to determine “common good” at all. Yea, there are disputes sometimes. We’re human, after all, but I think you’d agree that these relationships are usually not problematic, and when they are, guess what? We cease them and go get new ones.
Think about that, and how it applies to the state. You get to fire your dry cleaner if he shrinks your shirt, yet you have no choice but to suffer the consequences of the enforcement of the values of a bunch of commies over huge swaths of your life, and there’s virtually nothing you can do about it, except vote, of course—and we’re expecting that this year is going to produce different results than the last few thousand times it’s been tried, consecutively.
‘Cause, you know, it’s all about what “works.”
By the way, this is getting long, isn’t it. Well, take note that there are almost no direct counter-arguments to any of these comments of mine. Virtually all the responses to me veer off in some other direction, diversion, or digression. For instance, Kim just ignores everything I’ve written and instead delivers an appeal to his values. In other words, I’m fine with it, so I’m happy to keep on forcing others to put up with it.
“Just remember that our participative system of representative government has “worked” longer than just about any other, and has certainly provided a greater good for a greater number of people than any form of anarcho-captislaim/syndicalism/whatever ever can, or will. Is it perfect? No. Is it practical? History seems to think it is—and so do the countless millions of people who over the centuries have wanted to be citizens of our society.”
I’ve never denied America’s greatness, Kim. And I served in the military for eight years, something I haven’t the slightest regret about (quite the contrary). I love America. I just loath the government of the US. You see, America is an idea, a borderless one. You’re living proof that America exists all over the world (as I’m fond of saying). You may not have been born an American, but by some circumstance, you became one long before your body actually caught up with your spirit on our shores. Now, am I right about that?
So, riddle me this: is America’s greatness a product of its political flaws, like slavery, that have led to an atmosphere where every issue is about who is going to come under the authority and command of whom in [name your issue], or in spite of that and due more to the character of its people?
And if it’s the latter and not the former, then why are you concerned about whether you can have your way against your political enemies? Forget about them. Build your own society, like, I dunno, a nation of riflemen, or something. It’ll be good for your blood pressure, too.
“Once again, for the libertarians: I keep reading lofty ideals and stirring language about how Libertarianism Is The Answer. But despite all the clever debating techniques and epistemological fanaticism, I have yet to be convinced how libertarianism could function as a long-term solution in the real world.”
Well, this was under the header for Billy, so I guess I can’t take you to task for misstating my argument (though I’m pretty sure it’s not Billy’s, either).
Kim, if I am trying to convince you of one thing, it is that it is unequivocally wrong to impose your values onto others through force. No matter how good your values are, and no matter how bad you think theirs are, you just don’t have that moral right.
The problem is that I think your heart is sympathetic to that. The second problem is that you’re easily smart enough to immediately see how it conflicts with pretty much your entire political philosophy.
So, you end up with choices. You have to either reconcile the contradiction by changing your political philosophy to one that forbids initiating coercion, or you have to embrace initiating coercion as a necessary aspect of politics, the implications of which are that there’s very little limit to what’s possible, as you may have noted in your “real world.”
Yea, it’s real, alright.
Initiatory coercive aggression is wrong. That’s an absolute. I don’t need to know what I might miss out on before I understand the rightness of the principle and embrace it unequivocally, without compromise, ever. Thus, I cannot help you with how you’d still be able to keep things duct-taped together with the political tool of coercion no longer at your disposal.
And so there you have it.