The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

When is it okay to initiate force? Please tell me.

I thought that Sanborn’s explication of his political philosophy (at least in part) was interesting enough that I thought I might try my hand at explaining mine.

Politics is the continuous argument over who gets to do what to whom, for how long, and against what degree of dissent. (credit to Lewis Lapham, managing editor of Harper's magazine at the time he wrote that definition)

That said, the political discussion in my lifetime has expanded exponentially in its scope, and had expanded exponentially prior to that from the scope proposed by the Founding Fathers. I might add that many of them did much of the illicit expansion.

As for my philosophy, it includes a philosophy of life, not just what I think elected officials should or shouldn’t make into law. Above all is this: No one—neither a mugger in an alley, nor a group of suits in some capitol building—has the moral right to initiate force or commit fraud in the pursuit of personal or political goals.

Government is force, before and after it is anything else. Those at the top make laws and hire thu…, uh, law enforcement officers and armies to enforce those laws. Government, defined, is that which has a monopoly on the initiation of force and fraud as its principle identifying feature.

There really is no “left” or “right,” as in “liberal” or “conservative,” “socialist” or “fascist.” There is libertarian and authoritarian, and shades in between. Libertarians by definition endorse the non-initiation of force standard. Authoritarians often agree with libertarians on some issues, but think it’s okay to initiate force to achieve some goals. Hitler and Stalin were both authoritarians; they were on the same wave length of the ideological spectrum.

No one would admit out loud that he thinks fraud is a licit tool in the pursuit of political goals, but fraud is an element in selling the public on any violation of the non-initiation of force principle. Politicians in general have no problem telling massive lies (even though they may have been able to convince themselves that a lie is the truth) in order to achieve what they believe is beneficial to them, and therefore beneficial to their constituents (how could it be otherwise?).

In the interest of keeping this block of words manageable, I’ll stop, with the promise of revisiting specific issues. I might say that I am in step with Sanborn on four of the five issues he visited in the Grrr topic. I have voted Libertarian in every presidential race since 1988.


Michael Sanborn said...

We're not so far off kilter, Bob. I do think there are some things government ought to have a hand in...infrastructure, defense, education, yadayadayada.

Nothing in the Constitution provides for the constant meddling in our lives and the pilfering of our bank accounts.

No person in my lifetime has seized so much power so quickly as the current occupant of the White House.

Once that power has been relinquished, it will take honor and moral integrity to give it back to the people.

There hasn't been a statesman in that office since Harry Truman. Nobody in either party can be trusted to do the right thing. And, so we must as the framers anticipated we would have to, throw them all out. I actually am one of those crazy people who worries about the country we'll leave our grandchildren.

I, like Bob, don't trust any of those who hold the power to ensure my grandchildren will have the freedoms we once enjoyed.

Bill Fleming said...

Well, guys, I do trust our government.

So I suppose that's the big difference between us huh?

Let me be a little more specific. I trust our Government in the sense that it was wrought out of bloody revolution by "We the People".

In other words, our Government exists only insofar as we the people are willing to be governed.

And unlike you two, I don't believe that freedom can ever be taken away. I believe that liberty is a priori — an endowment of consciousness... a State of Mind if you'll pardon the pun.

Beyond that, I believe that we are all equal beings and the very universe is our relationship with each other, from quarks and gluons to molecules to tissues to ecosystems to the moon that pulls on our oceans and the sun that gives energy and beyond.

We're making it all up as we go along. And so, the way things are are the way we made them. And since we made them, we can change them.

On a more local and humanly conscious level then, I see the American revolution is a continuing work in progress.

As the Constitution states, we are striving to form a "more perfect Union." It doesn't say a perfect one and so, I don't for a minute think there is anything perfect about the Constitution any more than I think there is anything perfect about any of mankind's Holy Books.

We are a work in process, a family of simi intellegent, mostly ignorant brothers and sisters seeking balance and harmony, and celebrating our diversity even as we grow together and evolve more and more common bonds.

Politically, we are still a young nation, and so, I will gladly spend my lifetime celebrating with joy and wonder our nation's early adolescence.

I invite you both then to sing the body electric with me boys. Life's too short to insist on always wearing these long and somber faces.

And if we must fight and die, let's still do it laughing, because what the hell... as "we the people" we'll be alright.

We've made it through far tougher times and came out the other side just fine.

Besides, until were ready to bloom into an enlightened anarchy, the American experiment/work in progress is by far the best game in town.

So, come on, dudes. Lighten up. At least we get to choose which hills we're going to die on every election day. (...just kidding.)

Anyway, Namaste, my brothers.

p.s. If you want to get REALLY serious, I'll launch off into a discussion of "Love's Body" by Norman O. Brown right now, but you know what? Nix that. I'm tired of typing. Maybe some other time.