Peace or Violence?

The society you can choose to live in really comes down to this:

You can choose to transact with your fellow-man through voluntary association and peaceful trade with an emphasis on protecting private-property rights; or you can agree to have an arbitrary power overseeing these transactions that would restrict you and others by force in a way that would benefit these overlords and their interests. One society is rooted in voluntarism and peaceful trade; the other is rooted in violence and exploitation. Forget political parties, it really just comes down to this.

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18 thoughts on “Peace or Violence?

  1. I’m pretty sure we’ve already chosen to transact voluntarily. And one of those voluntary transactions was the creation of the United States of America. The thirteen colonies originally contracted with each other under the Articles of Confederation. They did so to pool their resources so that they could extricate themselves from British rule, for reasons described in the Declaration of Independence. Later, to constitute a “more perfect union” we ratified the Constitution, which is our current agreement with each other. We’ve modified this agreement over time, first to insert the Bill of Rights, then later to abolish slavery and insure equal protection under the law for all races, etc.

    So I have to presume that the “arbitrary power overseeing these transactions and restricting you and others by force” that you refer to was King George III and the British parliament of that time. Is that correct?

    1. Thanks for commenting. What I am referring to, and you make a good point about King George III, is the way our society is structured now. The political debate going on is all theater and futile if you really think about. We have one big party in America, and the people, in general, are not part of it. I noticed that when you referred to the Constitution you are using the words “we”. We never agreed to or signed the constitution of the United States, and many at the time were against the Constitution because they understood that it would lead to a corrupt Leviathan that we have now (and a Civil War). The Constitution is a failed document that every president since its inception has ignored or interpreted in a way to benefit the state. People were more free under King George III than they are today–by far.

      I’m mostly talking in the now. We can consent to the state forcing its will on the people or we can withdrawal this consent as Jefferson advocated. In today’s America you can get thrown in jail just by selling milk to your neighbor that your farm has produced. The state, under the Patriot Act and NDAA, is allowed to conduct warrantless searches of property, email and homes. The state is allowed to detain an American without due process. Taxes are out of control and regulations are forcing small businesses to downsize or leave the industry. This is a society ruled through violence. And we are people used to violence as a way of governing.

      1. I believe the state evolved to solve problems caused by those believing that “might makes right”. To overcome British imperialism, the colonies formed a nation. In this particular nation, we do have a voice in government. If government fails to speak coherently, it is probably because of the incoherence among ourselves.

        Normally, because we all love liberty, government stays out of our way. I cannot restrict your liberty without also restricting my own, so I avoid creating unnecessary laws. But when Al Qaeda effectively invades our country and kills thousands of people, I definitely want law enforcement and the national defense to stop them.

        And there is no law enforcement or national defense without a state. And to pay for these things we have taxes. The only way that taxes are currently out of control is that they are too low. That’s why we have a huge national debt.

        The fact that government is run by people like you and me is the reason it succeeds most of the time but sometimes fails. You’re telling them to cut taxes, as if there were no bills to pay. I want a balanced budget now, this year.

        Unfortunately, rules are necessary to prevent most of us from being abused by some of us. The financial collapse in 2008 was due mainly to a failure to regulate banks that were making bad loans and passing off the risk to investors, like retirement accounts and pensions who are required to invest in AAA stocks. But the AAA rating was bogus, and people lost money to crooks.

        It makes no sense to complain about “regulation” in general. If you have no rules then the Bernie Madoffs will rob us all. Laws are what stopped slavery, child labor, unsafe working conditions, etc.

        And maybe there is a good reason not to sell raw milk. If there is not a good reason, then FIX IT. Change the law. It’s no use whining over it.

      2. Though I respect your opinion it is hard to have a fruitful conversation with a fellow like yourself who is an extreme advocate of the state and the power it holds. Not saying this as disrespectful, just acknowledging that we severely disagree not just on political philosophy but also on cause and effect of some major events.

        “But when Al Qaeda effectively invades our country and kills thousands of people, I definitely want law enforcement and the national defense to stop them.” Al Qaeda attacked America because of our intervention in their land and the US govt’s propping up of immoral dictators to rule over them. Killing innocent people decade after decade would eventually create people not too happy with a America. Of course killing isn’t justified, but their reasoning for attacking us is the same reason for our reason for attacking them. Terrorists’ also attacked us because of our relentless funding of Israel. The State is why we were attacked.

        “Taxes are low”–this is the talking point from people who idolize the state and believe that everything would be inefficient and unjust if wasn’t for a group of fallible men–called government–to organize society by a barrel of a gun. There are many, many different taxes in America today and taz revenue is as high as ever, but I believe you are strictly talking income tax, which America did fine without its first 140 years as a nation.

        IAnyways, during Obama’s initial four years, with his so-called economically just policies, 95 percent of the entire gain in household income in America was captured by the top 1 percent.

        Don’t you see any problem with saying that the government is trillions of dollars in debt and its our fault for not paying our master enough? Is it moral for honest, hardworking people to give up half their income to the state? Can you really claim you are free when you must work half of the year before you pay yourself? The national debt is a joke. Its unpayable and the 2008 collapse is nothing compared the inevitable erosion of our financial system in the near future.

        “The financial collapse in 2008 was due mainly to a failure to regulate banks” —this is not accurate, because banks and Wall Street are the most heavily regulated entity in the world, including before the 2008 collapse. The result of the collapse is very complex and the fault lies mostly with crony capitalism. The state, which bails these corrupt corporations out, created a moral hazard for them to act recklessly. Nobody went to jail because these institutions are in bed with the state. We paid the price, not the elite. This is why Obamacare is so popular with the insurance companies and not so much with the Doctor—Crony. Capitalism.

        Laws, we must not forget, are not always just. Slavery, segregation, suffrage, Fugitive Slave act–all laws mandated by the state.
        The state was morally wrong.

        Laws for the most part, I’d have to agree with Joseph Proudhon–“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.”

        Thanks a lot for responding, I do appreciate these kinds conversations even when our disagreement is pretty wide.

      3. Yes. History is a pretty big kettle of causes and effects. The only way to get different effects is to restrain ourselves to moral action. And there seems to be considerable dispute on what action is moral.

        The big question then is “How do we reach an agreement upon the rules?” If the rules are moral, then the result of applying those rules will produce the best possible good for everyone.

        Means are also ends. We know that terrorism is always evil, because if this method is allowed to both sides of a dispute, then innocent people are slaughtered by both sides, leading to chaos and destruction.

        So there must be a different method for reaching agreement on rights and the rules that secure them.

        Democracy appears to be the most practical solution. The people agree to constitute a state and elect a legislature. The legislature addresses real problems, by hearing evidence, proposing options, estimating the moral effects of each option, and voting to establish a working rule. Because we have a previous agreement as to how we will reach future agreements, those in disagreement will respect the validity of the decision, even while perhaps working to replace it at a later time.

        The good/bad news is that the rules will reflect the moral maturity of the majority at the time. The good news is that our moral sense evolves over time, such that bad laws are eventually replaced with good laws.

        My problem with Libertarians is that they do not seem to recognize “moral good” as the goal of their rules. Instead, they attempt to derive all rights from the right of property. And that leads them to immoral results. The example I always use the restaurant owner who has a “Whites Only” sign in the window. Libertarians defend the “right” of the owner to discriminate by race, and only serve white patrons.

        The strictly moral evaluation weighs the benefits and harms of choosing one rule (discrimination) over another (equal opportunity) for everyone. And that evaluation gives us the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which Ron Paul explicitly detests.

  2. Though I’m not a big fan of labels, you’re well aware my philosophy falls in line with libertarianism. Ron Paul detests the Civil Rights act not because of reasons statists like to imply. In his own words, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society…the fact is the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not accomplish these goals. Instead, this law unconstitutionally expanded federal power, thus reducing liberty. Furthermore, by prompting raced-based quotas, this law undermined efforts to achieve a color-blind society and increased racial strife.”

    Though I believe racial bigotry in this country is morally reprehensible I do believe that one who owns a business has a right to do business with whom they want without government guns pointing at his head. As you said, morally evolves and we all become more aware of injustices as time goes on. Do you think that the people as a whole would ever tolerate a racially motivated business? There would be outrage and this business would fail overnight. Morality , in my opinion, would prevail without force.

    1. The problem with Libertarian ideology is not racism. The problem is that it is impotent to put a stop to one race’s actions to subjugate another.

      Ron Paul was totally wrong about the social psychology at work in the old south. Southern whites were offended by the presence of blacks. By social custom they required them to give up their seat on the bus to a white man, and go sit or stand in the rear. In Virginia, public school systems shut down for several years to avoid having black children in class with white children, until government forced them to reopen.

      The prejudice was sustained by segregation and discrimination. Prejudice is a lie. And the best refutation of a lie is confrontation with truth. And that is precisely what school integration and outlawing discrimination did. It put people together in one place and it required that they be treated as equals.

      And it worked. In fact, it worked so well that you are having difficulty imagining a time when it did not work. But this all happened within my lifetime.

      Jefferson said that “to secure these rights governments are instituted”. And one of those rights is the right of every person to be treated like any other by restaurants, and not to be treated differently solely because or their race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

      On what moral basis can you deny that right? On what moral basis do you claim a “right” of the restaurant owner to discriminate solely on race?

      1. For close to a century before the 64 Civil Rights Act, segregation was the law. You know that. The government mandated the separation of the two races at schools, fountains, buses and businesses. Instead of repealing these laws, rather, they enacted a law that forced people to operate in a way that was against the previous law basically overnight. Harry Browne explains it like this… “Neither before nor after the Civil Rights Act were people free to make their own decisions about whom they would associate with.
        The civil rights movement wasn’t opposed to using government to coerce people. It merely wanted the government to aim its force in a new direction.
        Although the activists believed coercion served the noble objective of bringing the races closer together, it was coercion nonetheless.
        And coercive laws never stand still. No matter what a law’s backers say at the time of passage, the law always stretches in surprising directions. The expansion occurs on at least two fronts:
        -The law almost always is enforced more broadly than intended;
        -When government benefits one group, other groups are encouraged to seek similar benefits.

        And this is what happened to the civil rights laws.”
        Instead of repealing segregation and letting society mingle and grow voluntarily, (I do understand this would not of eradicated racism, but neither did the Civil Rights act), the government passed a law that voided the principles of private property and neglected to see the unintended consequences that major interventionist laws like this usually breed.
        “The civil rights laws are supposed to end discrimination and segregation, and to promote harmony.
        But coercion never produces harmony. How harmonious are people who are being forced to act against their will? Most likely, those who are coerced will resent those who benefit from the coercion. This sets group against group; it doesn’t bring them together.”

      2. “But coercion never produces harmony.”

        Sounds nice. But clearly incorrect In the case of integration. I think it was one of the armed forces that was integrated first, in the second World War. The soldiers were forced to share barracks. There was some disharmony at first, but after people got to actually know each other, they got along fine.

        Back when my father ran a Boys Club for the Salvation Army, he had them change it from a whites club to a club for blacks do to changes in the neighborhood. It was not allowed to be open to both. Today, of course, you would never imagine this problem could have existed.

        School integration was supposedly required after the Brown vs Board of Education decision in 1959 determined that separate was not equal. If you look up “massive resistance” in Wikipedia you’ll find how entrenched the prejudice against blacks was in the southern states. Rather than integrate, Virginia shut down their public school system. Some schools remained closed for several years until forced to open.

        But in my neighborhood today, children of all races get off the bus up the street from my house and get along fine together.

        In president Kennedy’s 1963 Civil Rights speech, he pointed out that 100 years had passed since Lincoln freed the slaves. If things were left alone, without forced integration, it is quite possible black children would still go to colored schools in the south today.

        And it was not enough to remove state laws that supported or required segregation. In a population with prejudice that deep and widespread, we could easily have continued to have “Whites Only” restaurants today. But we don’t.

        No, racism was not completely cured. Some of it is still passed down from parents to their children. But most of it was cured by forced integration.

        Once more, my complaint about Libertarianism is that it would have been impotent to address the problem. And Libertarianism, even today, cannot compute the correct moral solution to the problem of the “Whites Only” restaurant.

        So something is wrong with Libertarian principles. They create false “rights” in the name of property and cannot recognize actual rights, like the right of anyone to walk in any restaurant and have lunch, without being refused because of their race.

  3. I cannot advocate the use of violence as the dominant means to curb morality. I believe a campaign to change the hearts and minds of people who were blinded with ignorance would of been more effective than using violence to change how people interact. To me, an organic process of unity would of had a more positive result in the long run than violence employed to change how people act towards each other–and liberty would of been protected.

    1. Liberty is the ability to walk into a restaurant and order a cup of coffee. Does the ability to exclude customers based on racial prejudice increase or decrease the liberty we all wish to enjoy?

      Is Liberty the only moral good? If it is then the thief should be free to steal.

      And, if we may not use force to arrest his activity, how long will it take to change the heart and mind of the thief from pursuing his self-rewarding activity?

  4. If one steals, they have encroached upon the rights and property of another. Since one initiated force by stealing one’s tangible property, they’ve forfeited their rights as an individual, and force in return is now justified for defense or punishment.

    If a white man refused to go into this one cafe in his town because it is owned by a Mid Eastern Islamist, should he be coerced to visit this place of business at least once or twice a week? He is discriminating against another which is causing the Middle East guy to lose business.

    Should an African American be forced to serve a neo-nazi at his own restaurant or, since he owns his business, should he be able to choose not to do business with him.

    Liberty is self-ownership and what I like to believe the bedrock of self-dignity. If you own yourself, that means you own your mind and the labor of your body. Since one owns his mind he should be allowed to choose who to associate with and how to conduct his life as long as it doesn’t violate and infringe upon the rights and property of another. A person does not have a right to force someone to sell them a product, even if the moral reasoning for not selling the product is depraved. Anyways, I would never want to buy a product from someone who doesn’t want to sell me one, especially for the way I look.

    1. 1) Use of force: If we may punish the thief, then we are no longer talking about “Peace or Violence”, but rather under what circumstances good people may justly constrain a bad person from harming others or their rights.

      2) Is it alright to force a customer to shop in every store? I don’t see how that would benefit everyone, do you? So I think it fails to pass moral judgment (weighing harms and benefits of a rule).

      3) Yes, the African American is required to serve every customer who behaves appropriately as a customer. If someone comes in wearing a white hood and carrying a KKK sign, they may be ejected of course. But if he dresses appropriately and behaves appropriately, then he is as entitled to eat in the restaurant as anyone else. Same moral judgment in play here: What are the harms versus the benefits of a rule that excludes people from restaurants because of their political beliefs?

      4) “Self-ownership” is not required to claim any rights that cannot be claimed by the individual directly. But let’s go on as if it was meaningful. “Owning” your mind would only imply physical protection of your head and psychological protection against formal brainwashing techniques. It cannot be used to justify anything beyond that.

      For example, “Since one owns his mind he should be allowed to choose who to associate with” is false. If “owning” your mind allowed you to do anything you wanted, then the thief could use it to justify stealing.

      The whole of your argument is in the second part of your sentence, “how to conduct his life as long as it doesn’t violate and infringe upon the rights and property of another.” Whether he owns his mind or is insane or is brainwashed, he will not be permitted to infringe the rights of others. Period. The methods of constraint may differ according to his mental condition, but we will protect a right to life, liberty, and property for each other against the bad actor regardless of his state of mind.

      5) You said, “A person does not have a right to force someone to sell them a product”. We’ll add “that is offered to everyone else except to those of a specific race.” What are the moral consequences of respecting and protecting such a right for each other? Some of the consequences of your rule is that (a) southern white doctors can refuse to treat black patients, (b) black people may need to go looking for a place to eat lunch, (c) black people will need to establish separate communities to provide themselves with doctors, businesses, schools, and restaurants. To my mind, those are pretty significant costs to adopt your rule rather than mine.

      The rule that “all businesses that serve the public are not permitted to exclude customers based solely on their race” produces no permanent or actual harms and actually increases everyone’s liberty!

      The irony is that Libertarian ethical theories actually end up producing less liberty for everyone.

  5. “Libertarian ethical theories actually end up producing less liberty for everyone.”

    If we are going to be consistent in critiquing the libertarian philosophy, I’d have to point out that slavery and segregation would never have been upheld by law in a free society since it goes against the ethical theory of libertarianism.

    1. “slavery and segregation would never have been upheld by law in a free society since it goes against the ethical theory of libertarianism.”

      Really?

      First, Libertarianism presumes that a person can be owned. The idea of “self-ownership” implies the idea of “other-ownership”.

      Second, Libertarianism presumes ownership is acquired by applying one’s labor to a natural resource to transform it into a product. The slave owner may claim (and probably did claim) that the black man became his farm animal due to his labor in capturing, transporting, and training in agricultural labor.

      Third, Libertarianism allows ownership to be acquired through voluntary exchange, such as occurred at the slave markets.

      Fourth, and I would confidently say that the slaveholder also claimed ownership through both “natural right” (the prejudice that they were less than humans) and “God given” rights (they were heathens, and by slavery they could be converted to Christianity).

      And that is the problem when you try to create rights through deduction from a single principle rather than through moral judgment.

      It was through moral judgment, recognizing the unnecessary harms inflicted upon the slaves that led to slavery’s abolition.

      1. *1ibertarianism does not presume a person can be owned, that state did for many years.

        *” Libertarianism presumes ownership is acquired by applying one’s labor to a natural resource to transform it into a product.” –correct

        *”The slave owner may claim (and probably did claim) that the black man became his farm animal due to his labor in capturing, transporting, and training in agricultural labor.”–though one might claim this, it is against the principles of libertarianism. You cannot own another being. But this was also legally backed by the state.

        *Voluntary exchange does not include a human being, which is against the libertarian view of coercion and encroaching upon another.

        “It was through moral judgment, recognizing the unnecessary harms inflicted upon the slaves that led to slavery’s abolition.”–Agree

        One of the most intellectual libertarians during this time, Lysander Spooner, ranted and raved against slavery and he also provided a plan for abolition. http://lysanderspooner.org/node/38

        I understand you are a huge advocate for positive rights and you strongly think that we as a society should pay for the vices of our ancestors. But for how long?
        Libertarianism is growing because the state is failing. The folks understand the essence of what all governments evolve into–an all encompassing entity that loots its subjects dry, lies them into constant wars, and builds an unpayable debt that weighs down the people for generations. The State can no longer hide what it has become thanks to alternative news and the internet.

      2. “1ibertarianism does not presume a person can be owned,”

        If a person cannot be property, then he cannot be his own property anymore than he can be anyone else’s. The idea of “self-ownership” is meaningless and clutters up ethical discussion with useless terminology.

        “that state did for many years”

        The “state” is an expression of the people. Older states were the expression of fewer people, originally knights and kings. Later came parliaments, then representative democracies. But, in all cases, the institution of the state reflected the moral convictions of individuals at the time. So you cannot place the blame on the use of a state as a means of cooperation. In the absence of a state, individuals would still have enslaved others in one form or another.

        “You cannot own another being. But this was also legally backed by the state.”
        But only because the individual slaveholders insisted the state do so.

        “Voluntary exchange does not include a human being, which is against the libertarian view of coercion and encroaching upon another.”

        And that is why racial prejudice was required. By a prejudice that the black man captured in Africa was something less than an actual man, we justified that he could be bought, sold, and bred like livestock.

        ME: It was through moral judgment, recognizing the unnecessary harms inflicted upon the slaves that led to slavery’s abolition. “–Agree”

        Good. Then we should also agree that moral judgment, an assessment of the harms and benefits to everyone, is the criteria by which all rights and the rules that secure them must be judged.

        “Lysander Spooner”

        Not clear to me that he was a Libertarian. From the link I noticed he did not seem to put that much stock in property rights. And I would bet that he would not suffer Libertarian confusion about the “Whites Only” sign in a restaurant.

        “I understand you are a huge advocate for positive rights and you strongly think that we as a society should pay for the vices of our ancestors. But for how long?”

        As moral men, we should takes responsibility for the harm we have done by our affirmative actions, and take affirmative actions to repair the harm. The harm was psycho-social: a prejudice of inferiority that we embedded in the minds of our children and theirs. The repair is psycho-social: integration, equal opportunity, and affirmative steps to see that qualified black men begin to appear in professional roles once allowed only to whites. There are objective measures of harm and repair, such as the ratio of blacks in prison and the ratio of blacks in professions.

        “Libertarianism is growing because the state is failing.”

        As a systems analyst, it is important to understand all of the problems addressed by the current system before designing its replacement. If you don’t, then the replacement system is likely to fail.

        One of the benefits of our current system is that it is adaptable. And it becomes better as we become better. And frankly I’ve not seen any evidence that the dissolution of the current state would not make matters much worse.

        “what all governments evolve into–an all encompassing entity that loots its subjects dry, lies them into constant wars, and builds an unpayable debt that weighs down the people for generations.”

        Unfortunately, the lies are not coming so much from government as from the Libertarians. Taxes are not theft, but simply the way we pay our bills. If we pay our bills then we have no debt. By spreading slanderous rumors of “theft” or that we are “overtaxed”, people start electing representatives who cut taxes. Cutting taxes results in debt. By spreading rumors of self-regulating markets, the state hesitates to step in early enough to prevent financial collapses. I’m sure you’ve heard of “self-fulfilling prophecies”. By the way, the best analysis of the financial collapse is in the Senate investigation report. You’ll find this at http://www.hsgac.senate.gov//imo/media/doc/Financial_Crisis/FinancialCrisisReport.pdf

        “The State can no longer hide what it has become thanks to alternative news and the internet.”

        I would suggest you also keep up with traditional news reporting, otherwise you’re likely to get just one side of the story.

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