L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 184, July 29, 2002
Jackbooted Thug of the Month, July 2002
Carol Sullivan [City Council member, Kanab, Utah - ed.]
Ms. Sullivan was never formally nominated for the Jackbooted Thug award, but I saw that she was clearly a natural when some of her correspondence was forwarded to me. She now holds an informal record for being the public official who has come closest to officially declaring that the Constitution has been overthrown by a gov-sponsored coup.
See the full announcement.
Carl Bussjaeger [firstname.lastname@example.org]
NET ASSETS -- the science fiction novel
Patrick K. Martin, in his essay last week, makes some comments to try and show why anarchy, or self-rule, is not desirable. He makes the point that, "Anarchy (i.e. total self-governance by all) absolutely depends on the one thing it is least likely to get, Rationality! In an anarchistic society the majority of people must behave in a rational manner all the time." And, "Look around you, the world is overflowing with chuckle-heads who cannot, not will-not CANNOT, adjust to reality to any meaningful degree."
Aren't these the same problems facing limited government libertarians? The perfect limited government is a government that only protects property. Under a limited government, the only decision that is made for the individual is the amount of defense he receives and what he pays for it.
It seems to me that the same objections Martin brings up for anarchy exist for limited government too. Under a limited government, people must make rational decisions with their property or they will die (unless some kind charity saves them). Under limited government, people still rule themselves. Only one thing is decided for them, and that's defense. And even for defense, individuals will still have a lot of decision making power with the right to keep and bear arms fully respected. Does Mr. Martin not want limited government because of the existence of irrational people?
Besides, everyone doesn't have to be rational for anarchy, or minarchy for that matter, to exist. Thrown into the natural order, irrational and irresponsible people will be punished, and eventually eliminated, by the most cruel and efficient thing on this earth, mother nature. In other words, irrational and irresponsible people won't be a problem for long in a state of anarchy.
Mark Etanerkist [email@example.com]
A lot of poor critiques have been coming out of TLE recently regarding anarcho-capitalism. Patrick Martin continues this fine tradition with his own poor contribution. The entire article is one long paean to the wisdom of the state, since ordinary people are obviously too irrational (except for him, and maybe you, but not those dirty, dirty Christians) to engage properly in anarchism. Of course, this begs the questions:
1. If they can't act rationally in a stateless society, how can they act rationally in a state-dominated society?
2. If they can't act rationally, why would you hand them political power over you in the form of a democracy?
3. If someone ritually shaves their eyebrows, sacrifices to Ricky Martin, and believes vegetables cause AIDS, who cares as long as they don't hurt anyone?
Mr. Martin buys into the same wrong Hobbesian dichotomy between man without government, and so in the lawless state of nature, and man under government, who is suddenly enlightened to act in the interest of others. Public Choice theory demolishes that statist fantasy.
And here's a free net hint from a grizzled Internet veteran: turning on the Caps Lock immediately makes whatever you're saying a joke.
Church-Going, Choir-Singing, Tithing, Creationist, Fundamental Independent Baptist
"PEOPLE BELIEVE THIS SHIT! And you want to turn them loose?"
They're already loose. The majority of the populace is irrational. That's the reason we all don't live in Smith's Confederacy. As someone who is very interested in politics I sometimes forget that in order to further the goal of libertarianism one must first further the goal of making our culture more reasonable. Ayn Rand, the woman without which (whether she liked it or not) there would be no Libertarian party, often pointed this out. It doesn't matter how good your arguments are, or how many facts you can cite to support your arguments, if the people you are trying to convince do not believe that reality is the final arbiter of all disputes and that reason is the only means by which a person can learn about reality, then it's all useless.
I'm proud to state that I'm an Objectivist first and Libertarian second. Of course Ayndroids, those who have turned objectivism into what, for all intents and purposes, is a cult, aren't anarchists. They should be, as Roy Childs showed. Also, and little more understandably, they aren't that politically active. But I can't see myself supporting any other political organization, and I've got to vote for someone. I think that's why a lot of us who have been inspired by Ayn Rand support the Libertarian party.
I do believe that political action can be useful, but it is ultimately futile when it doesn't coincide with "philosophical action". People will not truly fight for freedom unless they understand why it is important. When you live in a world where "What's true for you isn't true for me" there is no room for absolute principals like human rights. When human nature, like everything else, is seen as malleable or just plain non-existent then it doesn't matter what political philosophy we live by. If there is no rational basis in a person's thinking other that "because God says so". There is no telling whether you can convince him or not, and they'll only believe in freedom so long as they believe that's what god wants. Since God, and I hate to say it because I know it will turn people off, does not exist, it basically means a God fearing Libertarian is only a Libertarian so long as his imaginary friend says it's okay.
Objectivism, despite what the Ayndroids and Rand herself have done to it, is, in all seriousness, the be-all-end-all philosophy. I am well aware of the history of such statements and the reaction it is likely to get from rational and healthily cynical readers. Never the less, the basic tenants of objectivism, that reality is reality, that we can perceive it, that reason is the only method by which we learn about it, that reason is the only way men may survive, and that therefore men must be free in order to survive, are hard to argue with. I maintain that if we're ever going to live in a Libertarian society, it is these basic principals that will get us there.
This is in reply to "the Menace of the Libertarian Materialist" by Bob Wallace.
Gah! Your article could be used in logician classes as a primer on Redneck Rhetoric. I don't think there was one coherent chain of reasoning in it. For my own amusement, I now proceed to kick some of the bricks out from under its rusty axles.
Example the first: "...Richard Dawkins [...] is a clever little writer, one who I think protests just a little too much against those who disagree with him. Usually I find such people are protesting against their own tendency to want to believe." - so, he may be a closet christian up in the darker reaches of his subconscious mind. So what? That's one of the most convoluted fallacies I've seen: smearing the other guy as "clever" (as if this were in some way bad), reversing his argument, putting words in his mouth, and then implicitly appealing to his authority!
Example the second: "...Pete Singer is a perfect example of a hard- core materialist. He supports euthanasia, infanticide, bestiality, and, worst of all, vegetarianism. [...] I'll bet he's not having sex with a chimpanzee" - Another twisty fallacy. First, repeat his conclusions in an attempt to smear his reasoning (sans argumentation, using the unexamined moral prejudices of the audience), then slap him for hypocrisy, leaving out the obvious fact that supporting a thing doesn't mean you yourself want to do it.
Example the third: "Ayn Rand, a pseudo-libertarian child of darkness, for all her writings about libertarianism and reason, was also a leftist materialist." - have you actually read any of Rand's work? Her theoretical support of materialism is shakily argued (for reasons you do NOT pick up: disproof of the concept "supernatural" to no extent disproves the phenomena merely called supernatural) but she manages to construct a fully viable morality based solely on self interest, at root utterly unconnected one way or the other to philosophical materialism - a morality which, I add, is in fact more strictly binding than yours. What if your "god" popped down on a cloud in front of you tomorrow and said "okay, I changed my mind, forget the commandments, do whatever you please"... your morality unravels; hers does not.
Blah, blah, ad nauseam. The 500 word limit places bounds on my sarcasm.
For the record, myself I am an atheist anarcho-capitalist, I support any sexual lifestyle having the consent of all involved parties, euthanasia by consent, abortion at any time before sapience or birth (whichever comes first), the right to take drugs (or not to) and I have far more fondness for Nietzsche than Jesus. Yet I am not a philosophical materialist. I take my own experience of mind as an axiom, and I can see no way to square that with clockwork plus randomness. In fact I'd be far more likely to believe in "immaterialism" - matter as dream, rather than dream as mechanical.
Julian Morrison [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Mr. Wallace seem to suffer from the same flaw that I has seen in my many Christian friends back when I was a hard-right C.S. Lewis evangelical Christian. He is too busy looking for the devil in the closets and in petticoats as he prowls for the sin of materialism. The unspoken assumption is that materialism is the leading cause of death by murder in the 20th century and that if we have no materialism then we would be happy and free. Nonsense. I used to want to become a priest and I has done a lot of history because of my feverish religious beliefs. I regret to inform Mr. Wallace that materialism is not the cause or even a cause. Rather it is a excuse for the murderers to use for any man's conscience when planning and committing murder. As a gun is just a tool, so any idea, even bad idea is just a tool for communication. The question is dose the idea conforms to the actual reality? Dose the idea bring us closer to true? In the ages past, Christian kings, warrior popes, zealous Muslims, furious Hebrews, all not materialists by any mean, has committed great evils. Even Moses and Joshua (if such tales from Torah is to be true) approved and carried out acts of genocide against the homeowners of the Holy Land in their invasion. Did they say, they're evolutionary unworthy so they die and we steal their lands? No, they profane God's name by saying The Lord has given this land over to you because of their wickedness. Kill even a child as one psalm sang about bashing a boy's head onto the rock by swinging.
This act of evil by God's prophet raise a point, how do you know if his spiritual idea is better than yours? The first step is first do no harm. Stop witch hunting as you seems to be doing, Mr. Wallace. Ask not about a man's thought for "no man can know a man's heart, except God" but rather ask, "dose he do justice?" The question is not "is this man a materialist?" Better to ask "is this man using materialism as a excuse for his lust for power?" Power lust need no materialism to do acts of evil. This will be better for surer and fairer justice. Instead of brushing a gentle man Darwin who preached against slavery while on HM Beagle with same color as Stalin, who will justify anything in the name of greater power, start looking at their behavior. It was one of the best lessons I has learned while a Christian.
In TLE 183, in his article titled "The Menace of the Libertarian Materialist", email@example.com wrote:
"Then there is the denial of personal responsibility. ..." He is quite correct to see that materialism teaches that we have no free will -- because our actions are ultimately the consequences only of our heredity and the environment -- and therefor no blameworthiness. And, yes, many liberal materialists infer from that a "denial of personal responsibility". But they infer wrongly.
Personal responsibility is a requirement if we are to have both liberty and civilization. But it does not depend on assigning punishment to blameworthiness. Instead we must demand personal responsibility and apply appropriate penalties because such a policy is an essential component of the environment that produces responsible, civilized people.
That is, we need not punish (for instance) our children simply because they are "bad", but rather we ought perhaps to punish them to ingrain the idea that bad behavior has unfavorable consequences.
In the extreme case, should we find it appropriate to execute a death sentence to deter crime, we need not think that the condemned is bad", but rather we may execute the sentence in sadness, as a regrettable necessity for deterrence, recognizing and accepting that our society did not provide the condemned the environment that would have made him what we wanted him to be.
I'll leave his many other doubtful inferences to others.
I'm sure Mr. Wallace finds great comfort in believing that the truth will lead to good results, but unfortunately he doesn't seem to have demonstrated that, in fact, it necessarily does.
He'd like to find a rational argument why we should be good. (Wouldn't we all?) Ultimately it cannot be done. We may find that many of our values are rationally derived from more fundamental values, but at bottom, our most fundamental value cannot be logically justified, but can only be grasped firmly. If we choose to do the will of The Creator, in order that we may have life everlasting in heaven, well, why do we choose life? In the end (despite Ayn Rand) we must reach the point where we admit that we can offer no reason why we ought to choose what we choose. (Most of us will choose life. Materialists will find such a popular choice to be the inevitable consequence of evolution.)
Wow. Back when TLE was young, I sent a letter to the editor to point out that TLE had reached a turning point: An article had been published which I, and lots of other people, disagreed with. This achievement has since been repeated several times, none more blazingly than #183. [Always glad to be of service; and it's nice to know that we're getting "better" at it - ed.]
In articles #4 and #5, Bob Wallace and Patrick Martin point out several interesting reasons why the other guy just cannot be trusted to act rationally. Each directly attacks the position of the other, but since neither could have seen the others article beforehand, this seems a truly wonderful kismet. These two on Jerry Springer would sell commercials!
It seems that while I fit most every definition of "Materialist", my considerate interactions with others defines me as not being a "Materialist" at all. I believe Mr. Wallace is missing the fact that one can believe in an arbitrary universe, that reason and thought are merely the result of continual natural selection, and yet also believe that it is morally wrong to initiate force against someone else. You want pagan? Try this: "An it harm none, do as you will." --The Wiccan Creed, far older than, and identical to, the non-initiation of force principle. Don't insult people you don't understand.
Mr. Martin admits, reluctantly at the end, that the vast majority of people interact both voluntarily and peacefully the vast majority of the time, and some may even continue to do so outside of the minute purview of government. He is correct, liberty is dangerous. Trusting other people is dangerous, however there is no rational alternative that has anything to do with freedom. There are those who do initiate force and fail to respect the equal choices of others, that is what self defense is for. Yes, I wish to turn the creativity and energy of all people loose, and I am not nuts.
To the rescue comes voluntary association. Outside of TLE, these two might never run into each other. I cannot imagine them in the same section of the video store or library, or members of the same club.
I can only hope that where the rubber meets the road, they each back away from trying to impose their view of the world on the other. In that hope is Leviathan endangered. From their individual tones of "voice", I worry that each would at some point use the force of government against the other. May that only be because of the cold and emotionless nature of the written word combined with the immediacy of electronic communications, the source of innumerable pointless USEnet flame wars.
Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]
Mark Etanerkist, in his critique of the Free State Project, claims that the Free State Project is bad, or at least not libertarian, because is imposes libertarianism upon others against their will. He says,
Later he says,
But, when Jason P. Sorens, President Free State Project, asked,
Maybe I read this wrong, but it looks to me like Etanerkist advocates the violent overthrow of the state. It doesn't appear to bother him that this would be imposing his version of government/lack of government on other people against their will, which seems to be his main objection to the Free State Project. The difference seems to be that the Free State Project intends to use peaceful means.
Given Etanerkist's apparent preference for violent change over peaceful change, I would rather he referred to himself as a radical anarchist or something, anything but a libertarian.
Karl G. Long [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I just ran across this, "Private Security" by Hanse Hermann Hoppe, the man who brought us "Democracy: The God That Failed".
Certainly many of the better read of the TLE readers would have already read this, since it is linked from Strike-The-Root.com and Mises.org.
However, I have a request: I would appreciate it if someone who disagrees with Mr. Hoppe would submit a refutation of Mr. Hoppe's conclusion after having read it.
There have been vocal people in the recent past who wrote to TLE that expressed such disagreement with the idea of private "collective" defense, but I would like to see a more structured debate than "You're right, and I'm wrong, and that's all there is to it! So There!"
Any takers? I think Mr. Hoppe makes and excellent case, refute him well and you may gain converts instead of merely hostile responses.
Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]
Caleb Paul raises some good points in his reply to my article on public schools. The first argument he raises points to the most nagging problem with a voucher program. It is true that public funding of education, even in the form of vouchers, carries with it a serious danger of government intervention. I do not, however, believe that this means we should abandon the idea of vouchers in favor of a totally laissez-faire approach to schooling. A complete divorce between government and schools is clearly desirable as a goal, but is not feasible yet. The public simply will not tolerate the immediate and total demise of public schools. The middleman is necessary because it will not because school reform will not be tolerated otherwise. Therefore, I stand on my assertion that vouchers are the best way we can go right now-with the caveat that the law must be carefully written to avoid any co-mingling of government and schools.
I must also take issue with Mr. Paul's assertion that people can afford private schools. This strikes me as rather broad. While it is certainly true that many working poor families can scrimp and save to send their children to parochial schools, it is not universally true. There are only so many scholarships, and those who are extremely impoverished will still be unable to escape the government's scholastic gulag. As for the notion that they can study harder: this is a rather simplistic statement. A valedictorian from a notoriously poor school may still find himself unable to get scholarships or even admission to the better universities, (especially if the schools have lost accreditation, as in the case of the Kansas City Mo. School district) and will likely find himself woefully under prepared if he does.
In short, I realize that vouchers are not a perfect solution, but assert that they are the best solution we have available to a problem that must be solved quickly.
Mark Lamoree [email@example.com]
Is America becoming a police state? Friends of liberty need to know.
Some say the U.S. is already a police state. Others watch the news for signs that their country is about to cross an indefinable line. Since September 11, 2001, the question has become more urgent. When do roving wiretaps, random checkpoints, mysterious "detentions," and military tribunals cross over from being emergency measures to being the tools of a government permanently and irrevocably out of control?
The State vs. the People examines these crucial issues. But first, it answers this fundamental question: "What is a police state?"
Order from JPFO NOW!