Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Conversation with A Statist

I seemed to have struck some interesting chords lately. Another Statist acquaintance of mine read my earlier post entitled, “There's A Gun In The Room” . A conversation started that went something like this…


Statist Acquaintance: I read your blog post.

Libertarian Jason: Oh? What did you think? Did I make a logical argument?

SA: It's only logical if one accepts the underlying premise.

LJ: The “underlying premise” meaning...?

SA: Meaning that government is inherently evil.

LJ: Well, I never actually said that. My point was that the State is inherently violent. Now...whether violence is evil is a subject for a whole different inquiry (and one in which I would agree is true). However, as I pointed out, government is violence. No?

SA: Government can be violent if laws are broken - but I've never experienced anything like that, because I don't rape, murder, extort, ad infinitum….

LJ: You are correct. But any "law" - whether a good and just law, or a bad and unjust one - is backed up by violence, or the threat thereof. That was the only point attempting to be made and illustrated by my example. Furthermore, as I stated, whether or not it actually comes to actual violence is determined only by one’s determination to resist. Everyone gives in the to State’s demands eventually because they inherently recognize that they will be brutalized, or possibly killed, if they take their disobedience too far.

Plus, you do experience the threat of violence everytime you pay your taxes. Just because you're not courageous enough to stand your ground and say no to the State's demands, doesn't mean that you are not the object of violence.

SA: So, what good is a law that cannot be enforced?

LJ: That question assumes that all laws are morally equivalent.

SA: Not really - just a very basic question that you dodged.

LJ: No, not dodged - just clarified. It does assume that all laws are morally equivalent. By asking, “what good is a law that cannot be enforced?”, you have already made the assumption that all laws should be enforced, and are “good”...regardless of their moral validity.

Instead... why not question and think about the moral justification for when such force is warranted and used? Given that government is violent force, then why not examine the proper and improper uses for that force... kind of like often thinks about when the proper time one may and may not use a hammer or a screwdriver?

SA: I did not assume anything - I asked a simple question - but I understand your unwillingness to stay on point - malcontented ideals flourish in the dust storm of endless questions/debates and hate the light of day or the simplicity of such a basic question.

LJ: All questions have premises. That's a simple rule of logic. I illustrated the premises you assumed as you asked your question.

So, tell me... should all laws be enforced, regardless of their moral content?

SA: Yes, they should, because in a democracy, if bad law exists, there are legal remedies for people to pursue. To give individuals the right to break laws they disagree with would invite chaos. How logical is that?

LJ: Well... For one, as I mentioned then make no moral difference between various actions. All "crimes" are morally equivalent... So committing rape and not mowing your lawn frequently enough...conceptually speaking...are grounds to be on the receiving end of assault.... i.e. punishment by government authorities. There is no logical distinction.

Secondly, your statement is based on the premise that objective morality leads to chaos. I might argue that imposing immoral laws, which interfere with the natural order of things, is what breeds the chaos. If you were an economist, I might suggest you read some works by Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, F.A. Hayek and others, who point out that State interference in the free market creates distortions, misallocations of resources, and other unnatural and perverse dynamics that pervade society.

Thirdly, and most importantly... ask yourself... if all laws are to be enforced, regardless of moral content... then how would that principle play out in real everyday life? Hypothetically, if the State passed a law that said... “We need to round up all the Jews and throw them into ovens”... your position MUST be that a law like that MUST be obeyed and enforced. If the society democratically decides, "rape is legal", then your position MUST be that it MUST be obeyed and enforced. This is what I mean when I accuse you of surrendering you your morality to the State. For you, the requirements of the State supercede any independent and objective moral code. The State - per you - is the creator of morality, and it becomes the duty of the citizen is to blindly accept its dictates.

You are incorrect about "democracy"... By definition a "minority" has zero authority to change anything it becomes the victim of...because only a "majority" can affect change. Might makes right. If all questions become a question of "what is most popular?"...the people who benefit from any given law, program, or whatever...have zero incentive to change their mind, because a law which benefits them at the expense of others is always going to be “popular”.

The logic of restricting the use of The logic of limiting that if a given law is inherently illogical, then it contradicts the laws of nature and reality. A law that says, "you must wear a blue shirt and not a red one" are plainly illogical because there is no clear logical justification why such an arbitrary preference should be backed up by the threat of violence.

Murder, rape, theft.... laws against such acts are logically consistent, because the acts of murder, rape, and theft are themselves logically inconsistent. The law then merely becomes an expression of the natural resistance of nature to things which are in opposition to it. Any enforceable law must be based on logically consistent principles. As private property, for example, is logical and objectively consistent, then a law that protects private property is morally just, and therefore, enforcement can be condoned. Ditto murder, rape, fraud, and so on.

The conversation ended there. I wonder, was it something I said?


Blogger doinkicarus said...

"SA: Government can be violent if laws are broken - but I've never experienced anything like that, because I don't rape, murder, extort, ad infinitum…."

You might not have been subject to the application of violent force - so long as you obey the laws as decreed. But the only reason most people comply with the vast majority of laws is because of the threat of force. Because you merely acquiesce to the threat of force, does not mean that you've not experienced violence. Au contraire, you have experienced violence, and you've succumbed to it, in essence, choosing the lesser of two evils.

In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can benefit.

8:54 PM  

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