Is there an introduction?
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08-04-2013, 09:31 PM (This post was last modified: 08-04-2013 09:37 PM by bbeljefe.)
RE: Is there an introduction?
(08-04-2013 10:34 AM)TheAmazingAustralopithecus Wrote:  Sorry I've taken so long to reply. I was being a nerd and making good use of the double xp weekend on SWTOR.

Regardless of Hitchens' bias (and there's an exchange between Hitchens and Chomsky which I'll have to read one time) is it not possible to argue Chomsky was just biased against America? Hitchens says their difference was that he believed America was a good idea to begin with, whereas Chomsky didn't. It seems people just want to attack the US these days, whether or not it's justifiable. Bush is a "cowboy" and all that. And Islamic terrorists have attacked other countries; they've attacked Britain, and have demanded the return of Spain since it was part of the caliphate (hardly an anti-imperialist stance) and I have forgotten the details which really annoys me but a politician who helped keep Indonesia independent from Islamists was killed for doing so. Again, hardly anti-imperialist and hardly freedom fighting. (I'll try and find the exact details of that last event, but I think I've got it correct.)

And perhaps every war has enriched countries engaging in them, but America wasn't involved by choice in WWII. They gave us supplies, but were vehemently isolationist; in fact, this was the result of WWI. They had suffered too many losses and wanted to keep out of European politics. I'm not debating that America's actions in the past have been shameful; but this cannot be said of all of these actions.

And whether or not I choose an interventionist stance on Iraq, I don't see me ever agreeing that it was the fault of the west, by which I mean 9/11 and Islamic terrorism, which is of course a separate matter.

At least I got a little shift in perspective on Obama...even if it's only on the subatomic level!

Again, you can't use moral equivalence like that; if you murder someone, you're taking a life and probably ruining a family. The state taking some amount from your profits to put into (usually) useful things is different; they cannot be the same. If a thief threatens you with a knife, you are emotionally scarred and lose money. When the state takes a little for a hospital, you are certainly not the first and on a much smaller level do you lose money; do you really miss the taxes that the government takes from you? Have you seriously thought to yourself, "gee, I sure could use use taxes right now." However, I agree that those in power probably don't care, but that doesn't mean that taxes and welfare aren't useful. And on that point, one of the reasons for the welfare system in Britain was to get people fit in case of war (tensions were rising with Germany), but with all that that were genuine charitable people, and it can't be said that the NHS and benefits are things which saved lives and are things which, today, many people could not live without.

And, yes, I agree with your last paragraph. We can debate but we don't need ad hominem attacks, though you are a bastard and I hate you AND THAT COMPLETELY DISPROVES ALL YOUR ARGUMENTS...

Anyway, yes, I agree. And I was joking with the caps stuff above, just in case you took it literally (I've learned that sometimes its dangerous to make jokes like that lol). And we can learn something, since I nearly started to change my mind with your welfare argument there. Smile

Chomsky, like myself, spends a lot time critiquing US foreign policy because he was born here. I can only speak for myself (although I do think he would agree) in saying that that fact should not imply that I'm not just as critical of what other people/nations do. Like I said before, I'm vehemently anti violence. I'm not a militant pacifist though.... because that would be an oxy moron Tongue and because I do respect the right to use violence in self defense. That said, the US started the rub with the middle east and that's just the way it happened. Therefore, the middle easterners who have attacked the US were doing so in defense. The hell of that is the fact that the people who were killed in the World Trade Center weren't the people who had been killing middle easterners. I'm sure there were some who had but on balance, the people in the middle east have a beef with the US government, not the people living on its tax farm. In the case of 9/11, we can't say that the US was attacked by any given middle eastern government so, if we're splitting hairs, I don't know exactly how to determine who should have been retaliated against. What would be the right thing to do would be to retaliate against those who carried out the attack and those who are known to have orchestrated it. But to be sure, Iraqi dirt farmers, their wives and their children did not deserve to die because of something a group of mostly Saudi Arabian men did. And that was the long way for me to say please don't think I'm picking only on the US government with regard to war.

As for using moral rules universally... I absolutely refuse to use them any other way. Moral rules must apply to all people at all times and in all places. If not, they're mere opinions. And as I said above, arguments from effect don't trump arguments from morality. And if your argument from effect is that the state can do a lot of good with the half of my income it steals, then I will argue that it is not only justifiable but also mandatory that I steal half of Bill Gate's money, take the same percentage for my administrative costs that the state takes of mine and then spend the rest on good works. In fact, if I could steal have of Gates' income and take only ten percent of the percentage the state takes for its own administrative costs, I could do far more good with that money than the state does with mine. And after all, you put forth the argument from effect that says good works justify theft.

As for the personal questions you asked me about the state's theft of my money... by the time I've paid income and all other related taxes on my purchases and property and including the tax deductions I'm able to legally take, the state ends up with about half of mine and my wife's earned income, because she works a W-2 job. Let me ask you this... if your employer cut your salary in half next year, do you think you would miss it? And it doesn't matter whether or not you could live on half your current salary. It only matters that you've earned the money and all of a sudden, you don't have it.

What's more important to me is not that I don't have the money, because as a proponent of a free society where everything is privately owned, I understand that I would still have to pay for all the things the state provides with the money it steals. However, I would be free to choose what I paid for. Thus, I wouldn't be funding trade embargoes that starve children in Iran and Iraq. I wouldn't be funding crop subsidies for multinational corporations like Monsanto. I wouldn't be funding flying robots that kill innocent people. I would be free to fund charities that I am able to vet, so that the money I contribute to helping others actually lands up in the hands of those who need it. And, I could give those charities much, much more money than I can now.

But regardless of how you or I or anyone else spends the money we earn, theft and coercion are wrong. They're wrong when 51% of a group force the 49% to bend to their will, they're wrong when they're written on paper and called taxes and regulations, they're wrong when men in blue costumes enforce them at the point of a gun and they're wrong when they help someone. They're wrong on Thursdays as well as the other six days of the week and they're wrong in Tibet, Toronto, Tallahassee and every other place. They're wrong when an employer does them to an employee and they're wrong when a crack dealer does them to a crack addict. They're wrong when a parent does them to a child.

They're just wrong... always and everywhere.
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09-04-2013, 10:25 AM (This post was last modified: 09-04-2013 10:41 AM by TheAmazingAustralopithecus.)
RE: Is there an introduction?
(08-04-2013 09:31 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  
(08-04-2013 10:34 AM)TheAmazingAustralopithecus Wrote:  Sorry I've taken so long to reply. I was being a nerd and making good use of the double xp weekend on SWTOR.

Regardless of Hitchens' bias (and there's an exchange between Hitchens and Chomsky which I'll have to read one time) is it not possible to argue Chomsky was just biased against America? Hitchens says their difference was that he believed America was a good idea to begin with, whereas Chomsky didn't. It seems people just want to attack the US these days, whether or not it's justifiable. Bush is a "cowboy" and all that. And Islamic terrorists have attacked other countries; they've attacked Britain, and have demanded the return of Spain since it was part of the caliphate (hardly an anti-imperialist stance) and I have forgotten the details which really annoys me but a politician who helped keep Indonesia independent from Islamists was killed for doing so. Again, hardly anti-imperialist and hardly freedom fighting. (I'll try and find the exact details of that last event, but I think I've got it correct.)

And perhaps every war has enriched countries engaging in them, but America wasn't involved by choice in WWII. They gave us supplies, but were vehemently isolationist; in fact, this was the result of WWI. They had suffered too many losses and wanted to keep out of European politics. I'm not debating that America's actions in the past have been shameful; but this cannot be said of all of these actions.

And whether or not I choose an interventionist stance on Iraq, I don't see me ever agreeing that it was the fault of the west, by which I mean 9/11 and Islamic terrorism, which is of course a separate matter.

At least I got a little shift in perspective on Obama...even if it's only on the subatomic level!

Again, you can't use moral equivalence like that; if you murder someone, you're taking a life and probably ruining a family. The state taking some amount from your profits to put into (usually) useful things is different; they cannot be the same. If a thief threatens you with a knife, you are emotionally scarred and lose money. When the state takes a little for a hospital, you are certainly not the first and on a much smaller level do you lose money; do you really miss the taxes that the government takes from you? Have you seriously thought to yourself, "gee, I sure could use use taxes right now." However, I agree that those in power probably don't care, but that doesn't mean that taxes and welfare aren't useful. And on that point, one of the reasons for the welfare system in Britain was to get people fit in case of war (tensions were rising with Germany), but with all that that were genuine charitable people, and it can't be said that the NHS and benefits are things which saved lives and are things which, today, many people could not live without.

And, yes, I agree with your last paragraph. We can debate but we don't need ad hominem attacks, though you are a bastard and I hate you AND THAT COMPLETELY DISPROVES ALL YOUR ARGUMENTS...

Anyway, yes, I agree. And I was joking with the caps stuff above, just in case you took it literally (I've learned that sometimes its dangerous to make jokes like that lol). And we can learn something, since I nearly started to change my mind with your welfare argument there. Smile

Chomsky, like myself, spends a lot time critiquing US foreign policy because he was born here. I can only speak for myself (although I do think he would agree) in saying that that fact should not imply that I'm not just as critical of what other people/nations do. Like I said before, I'm vehemently anti violence. I'm not a militant pacifist though.... because that would be an oxy moron Tongue and because I do respect the right to use violence in self defense. That said, the US started the rub with the middle east and that's just the way it happened. Therefore, the middle easterners who have attacked the US were doing so in defense. The hell of that is the fact that the people who were killed in the World Trade Center weren't the people who had been killing middle easterners. I'm sure there were some who had but on balance, the people in the middle east have a beef with the US government, not the people living on its tax farm. In the case of 9/11, we can't say that the US was attacked by any given middle eastern government so, if we're splitting hairs, I don't know exactly how to determine who should have been retaliated against. What would be the right thing to do would be to retaliate against those who carried out the attack and those who are known to have orchestrated it. But to be sure, Iraqi dirt farmers, their wives and their children did not deserve to die because of something a group of mostly Saudi Arabian men did. And that was the long way for me to say please don't think I'm picking only on the US government with regard to war.

As for using moral rules universally... I absolutely refuse to use them any other way. Moral rules must apply to all people at all times and in all places. If not, they're mere opinions. And as I said above, arguments from effect don't trump arguments from morality. And if your argument from effect is that the state can do a lot of good with the half of my income it steals, then I will argue that it is not only justifiable but also mandatory that I steal half of Bill Gate's money, take the same percentage for my administrative costs that the state takes of mine and then spend the rest on good works. In fact, if I could steal have of Gates' income and take only ten percent of the percentage the state takes for its own administrative costs, I could do far more good with that money than the state does with mine. And after all, you put forth the argument from effect that says good works justify theft.

As for the personal questions you asked me about the state's theft of my money... by the time I've paid income and all other related taxes on my purchases and property and including the tax deductions I'm able to legally take, the state ends up with about half of mine and my wife's earned income, because she works a W-2 job. Let me ask you this... if your employer cut your salary in half next year, do you think you would miss it? And it doesn't matter whether or not you could live on half your current salary. It only matters that you've earned the money and all of a sudden, you don't have it.

What's more important to me is not that I don't have the money, because as a proponent of a free society where everything is privately owned, I understand that I would still have to pay for all the things the state provides with the money it steals. However, I would be free to choose what I paid for. Thus, I wouldn't be funding trade embargoes that starve children in Iran and Iraq. I wouldn't be funding crop subsidies for multinational corporations like Monsanto. I wouldn't be funding flying robots that kill innocent people. I would be free to fund charities that I am able to vet, so that the money I contribute to helping others actually lands up in the hands of those who need it. And, I could give those charities much, much more money than I can now.

But regardless of how you or I or anyone else spends the money we earn, theft and coercion are wrong. They're wrong when 51% of a group force the 49% to bend to their will, they're wrong when they're written on paper and called taxes and regulations, they're wrong when men in blue costumes enforce them at the point of a gun and they're wrong when they help someone. They're wrong on Thursdays as well as the other six days of the week and they're wrong in Tibet, Toronto, Tallahassee and every other place. They're wrong when an employer does them to an employee and they're wrong when a crack dealer does them to a crack addict. They're wrong when a parent does them to a child.

They're just wrong... always and everywhere.


I agree that, okay, the anti-Americans attack other countries. But it seems that America holds a special place in the heart of not only its own people but the rest of the west too. It seems these days, for whatever reason, people want to attack the US regardless of the reasons for doing so. It happens not just in America but in Europe. It seems to be a new trend these days. America simply cannot do right. Would you be willing to seriously congratulate America on doing something right? What about Bosnia? Whilst Slobodan Milosevic was trying to commit a genocide against Muslims in Europe, America intervened and prevented it. Yet Osama bin Laden and the other fair, anti-imperialist freedom fighters who are supposedly doing nothing more than protecting Muslims from tyranny, seem to forget that their religion would be down a few numbers without the tyrant that is America. So, I ask you, in all sincerity, can you praise America for its actions in Bosnia? For preventing genocide?

It is also a generalisation to say that because someone started something in the Middle East, any Middle Eastern attack later on against that person is self defence. Germany started attacking other European countries in the 1930s and 40s; would it be an act of self defence if we blew up civilians there? This can apply to anything. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but do not some Islamists justify their actions because of the Crusades? Something which no living person today can possibly be held responsible for (and which America certainly can't be held responsible for since it didn't exist at the time) and yet it is used to justify murder.

As for retaliation, it is difficult to retaliate against such people, I grant. But there is still some evidence that Al Qaeda were harbored by Saddam Hussein; and Saddam Hussein is a different matter altogether, in any case. But again, one of the most interesting things Hitchens has pointed out on this matter (and you may have realized that he's my main source on all this; I've gotten interested in the subject lately and he's been my "portal" into the pro-war side of the debate; I can't think of anyone else worth listening to on that side) is that if the anti war people had gotten their way, a genocide would have occurred in Bosnia, Kuwait would be part of Hussein's tyrannical regime and Saddam Hussein would still be in power committing genocidal atrocities against the Kurds. So, to my next question, what is, if you're a pacifist, the solution to Saddam Hussein? Would you have simply let him stay in power? If America, or any country, though America is the only one with the power to do so, had the chance to take him out, then should it not have done so? Does not, as a slightly less political source tell us, "great power come with great responsibility?" There is also new evidence that Hussein was starting to go back to his dreams of WMDs. So the argument that we should have waited is hardly wise given this information.

As for the welfare argument, maybe I'm being naive (I'm not yet old enough to qualify for welfare or pay taxes) but I still think this argument rests on the definition of theft. You say it's theft if the state takes taxes from you; I don't. I don't want to use an argument from effect; I'm not saying the effect of the state thieving is new hospitals, but I'd say I'm using an argument from morality and effect: the effect of the state fairly (the state does provide for you, after all, though I'm trying not to sound like some sort of salivating slave here; believe me, I'm not) deducting some money from your taxes to do things which benefits almost everyone in the country is fair and justified.

Again, I don't think your employed taking money from you is fair, but the employer is not a state which provides help and assistance for you, whether or not he gives the money to charity. However, the collective effort of everyone's taxes goes to much more things than what a thief could do with money; it goes to hospitals and schools and other good works, so it helps everyone, including future generations.

However, I agree we should have more choice on what taxes are spent on since they are perhaps unfairly spent. If the state took taxes and gave us a choice on where they went, would you say that's fairer?

I think this welfare argument is now running around in circles; it's really a semantics question of what "theft" is and what counts as "fair." So I do believe in the universal moral rule (are you taking a hint from Kant here, I wonder? Tongue) of "do not steal." However, since I do not regard the state taking money from your wages, for reasons I've explained, as theft, then this rule is irrelevant to my consideration.

In all fairness to this argument, I do grant that you really made me think with that last.

"Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence."

-Christoper Hitchens, "Letters to a Young Contrarian."
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09-04-2013, 08:40 PM
RE: Is there an introduction?
(09-04-2013 10:25 AM)TheAmazingAustralopithecus Wrote:  I agree that, okay, the anti-Americans attack other countries. But it seems that America holds a special place in the heart of not only its own people but the rest of the west too. It seems these days, for whatever reason, people want to attack the US regardless of the reasons for doing so. It happens not just in America but in Europe. It seems to be a new trend these days. America simply cannot do right. Would you be willing to seriously congratulate America on doing something right? What about Bosnia? Whilst Slobodan Milosevic was trying to commit a genocide against Muslims in Europe, America intervened and prevented it. Yet Osama bin Laden and the other fair, anti-imperialist freedom fighters who are supposedly doing nothing more than protecting Muslims from tyranny, seem to forget that their religion would be down a few numbers without the tyrant that is America. So, I ask you, in all sincerity, can you praise America for its actions in Bosnia? For preventing genocide?

It is also a generalisation to say that because someone started something in the Middle East, any Middle Eastern attack later on against that person is self defence. Germany started attacking other European countries in the 1930s and 40s; would it be an act of self defence if we blew up civilians there? This can apply to anything. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but do not some Islamists justify their actions because of the Crusades? Something which no living person today can possibly be held responsible for (and which America certainly can't be held responsible for since it didn't exist at the time) and yet it is used to justify murder.

As for retaliation, it is difficult to retaliate against such people, I grant. But there is still some evidence that Al Qaeda were harbored by Saddam Hussein; and Saddam Hussein is a different matter altogether, in any case. But again, one of the most interesting things Hitchens has pointed out on this matter (and you may have realized that he's my main source on all this; I've gotten interested in the subject lately and he's been my "portal" into the pro-war side of the debate; I can't think of anyone else worth listening to on that side) is that if the anti war people had gotten their way, a genocide would have occurred in Bosnia, Kuwait would be part of Hussein's tyrannical regime and Saddam Hussein would still be in power committing genocidal atrocities against the Kurds. So, to my next question, what is, if you're a pacifist, the solution to Saddam Hussein? Would you have simply let him stay in power? If America, or any country, though America is the only one with the power to do so, had the chance to take him out, then should it not have done so? Does not, as a slightly less political source tell us, "great power come with great responsibility?" There is also new evidence that Hussein was starting to go back to his dreams of WMDs. So the argument that we should have waited is hardly wise given this information.

As for the welfare argument, maybe I'm being naive (I'm not yet old enough to qualify for welfare or pay taxes) but I still think this argument rests on the definition of theft. You say it's theft if the state takes taxes from you; I don't. I don't want to use an argument from effect; I'm not saying the effect of the state thieving is new hospitals, but I'd say I'm using an argument from morality and effect: the effect of the state fairly (the state does provide for you, after all, though I'm trying not to sound like some sort of salivating slave here; believe me, I'm not) deducting some money from your taxes to do things which benefits almost everyone in the country is fair and justified.

Again, I don't think your employed taking money from you is fair, but the employer is not a state which provides help and assistance for you, whether or not he gives the money to charity. However, the collective effort of everyone's taxes goes to much more things than what a thief could do with money; it goes to hospitals and schools and other good works, so it helps everyone, including future generations.

However, I agree we should have more choice on what taxes are spent on since they are perhaps unfairly spent. If the state took taxes and gave us a choice on where they went, would you say that's fairer?

I think this welfare argument is now running around in circles; it's really a semantics question of what "theft" is and what counts as "fair." So I do believe in the universal moral rule (are you taking a hint from Kant here, I wonder? Tongue) of "do not steal." However, since I do not regard the state taking money from your wages, for reasons I've explained, as theft, then this rule is irrelevant to my consideration.

In all fairness to this argument, I do grant that you really made me think with that last.


First, just to clarify... I am not a pacifist. I reserve the right to use violence in self defense and that does include third party defense.

That said, the US government deserves the attitude people across the world have toward it just like members of the KKK deserve the attitude people have toward them. I haven't read much about the events in Bosnia but I can say that I seriously doubt that the US government has been the poster child for benevolence in its actions against Milosevic. I'm not saying that the US government didn't help people in Bosnia but look at it this way... if a man gives away half his wealth to charity, pays his employees above average, helps old ladies across the street and then goes home every day and beats his wife and kids, is he praiseworthy? Virtue is not a mathematical equation wherein we can do one more good deed than bad and be net positive in the virtue department. Hell, KKK members often collectively support charities. Does that wash away their bigotries?

As for random middle easterners attacking US citizens for deeds the US government did in the past and, to people other than themselves, of course it is wrong. If I gave you any other impression, I apologize. My point was not that the attacks on 9/11 were justified. Just that they were not random attacks with no basis. Ultimately, any political argument, to me at least, goes back to the fact that government rulers are coercive and violent against both their own tax cattle and to the tax cattle of other tax farms. And with that in mind, arguing the minutia of what this ruler did or wanted to do and what that leader should have done in retaliation is so much mental masturbation. Firstly, because it skips right over the entire notion that human beings should not control other human beings. Second and, less importantly, because there is almost no way to know the information you're receiving is true.

"I'm not yet old enough to qualify for welfare or pay taxes"

That makes no difference whatever. The curiosity and composure you display speaks of wisdom far beyond your age. Let's face it, you've already shed the indoctrination of religion, so there's no reason you won't shed statist indoctrination too. Tongue

You say that taxation is not theft and you say you're not interested in basing your premise on an argument from effect. That's great start. So now we have to find out if there is a moral difference between taxation and theft. In theft, a man comes up to me, sticks a gun in my neck and tells me to hand over my wallet. In taxation, the state writes down how much of my money they want and then tells me I have to pay that amount. If I refuse the mugger's request, I'm likely to take a bullet in the neck but there is also a chance that the mugger isn't really so desperate that he would shoot me. Thus, if I persist in refusing to hand over my wallet, he may relent and run away or, if I choose to defend my property through force, there's a chance I can overpower him or scare him away. And, there are instances where people have effectively talked their way out of being mugged as well as those where the victim has overpowered the mugger. With the state, if I refuse their request by way of not sending in my money, they will send me letters of demand. If I ignore those letters of demand, they will schedule a hearing in one of their law courts and will send me notice of same. If I refuse that notice by not appearing in their law court, they will issue an arrest warrant. After which, a man (or two men, usually) in a blue costume will come to my house and attempt to take me and lock me in a cage. Should I choose to defend property through physical means, one or both of those men will shoot me. If I'm lucky, they might tazer me, throw me on the ground violently and then kidnap me but that's only if I'm unarmed. If I choose to defend my property with a firearm, they will shoot me dead.

In the end, I have a lot better chances of walking away from an attempted mugging with both my money and my life than I do an attempted tax collection. In both cases, I am not willing to give my money to the villain, nor do I approve of how my money will be spent. In neither case has the villain provided me products or services that I requested of them voluntarily.

Can you explain, with an argument from morality, how there is any difference whatever between taxation and theft?

"If the state took taxes and gave us a choice on where they went, would you say that's fairer?"

If a slave owner decides to beat his slaves once per month rather than once per day, would you say that's fairer?

And yeah, I do take some of my ethical foundations from Kant's categorical imperative. Although I prefer a more recent, but similar methodology for testing the validity of moral rules. It is called Universally Preferable Behavior or, UPB for short. You can read or listen to the book "Universally Preferable Behavior, A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics" for free.

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. - Chinese Proverb
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10-04-2013, 10:53 AM (This post was last modified: 10-04-2013 11:04 AM by TheAmazingAustralopithecus.)
RE: Is there an introduction?
(09-04-2013 08:40 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  
(09-04-2013 10:25 AM)TheAmazingAustralopithecus Wrote:  I agree that, okay, the anti-Americans attack other countries. But it seems that America holds a special place in the heart of not only its own people but the rest of the west too. It seems these days, for whatever reason, people want to attack the US regardless of the reasons for doing so. It happens not just in America but in Europe. It seems to be a new trend these days. America simply cannot do right. Would you be willing to seriously congratulate America on doing something right? What about Bosnia? Whilst Slobodan Milosevic was trying to commit a genocide against Muslims in Europe, America intervened and prevented it. Yet Osama bin Laden and the other fair, anti-imperialist freedom fighters who are supposedly doing nothing more than protecting Muslims from tyranny, seem to forget that their religion would be down a few numbers without the tyrant that is America. So, I ask you, in all sincerity, can you praise America for its actions in Bosnia? For preventing genocide?

It is also a generalisation to say that because someone started something in the Middle East, any Middle Eastern attack later on against that person is self defence. Germany started attacking other European countries in the 1930s and 40s; would it be an act of self defence if we blew up civilians there? This can apply to anything. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but do not some Islamists justify their actions because of the Crusades? Something which no living person today can possibly be held responsible for (and which America certainly can't be held responsible for since it didn't exist at the time) and yet it is used to justify murder.

As for retaliation, it is difficult to retaliate against such people, I grant. But there is still some evidence that Al Qaeda were harbored by Saddam Hussein; and Saddam Hussein is a different matter altogether, in any case. But again, one of the most interesting things Hitchens has pointed out on this matter (and you may have realized that he's my main source on all this; I've gotten interested in the subject lately and he's been my "portal" into the pro-war side of the debate; I can't think of anyone else worth listening to on that side) is that if the anti war people had gotten their way, a genocide would have occurred in Bosnia, Kuwait would be part of Hussein's tyrannical regime and Saddam Hussein would still be in power committing genocidal atrocities against the Kurds. So, to my next question, what is, if you're a pacifist, the solution to Saddam Hussein? Would you have simply let him stay in power? If America, or any country, though America is the only one with the power to do so, had the chance to take him out, then should it not have done so? Does not, as a slightly less political source tell us, "great power come with great responsibility?" There is also new evidence that Hussein was starting to go back to his dreams of WMDs. So the argument that we should have waited is hardly wise given this information.

As for the welfare argument, maybe I'm being naive (I'm not yet old enough to qualify for welfare or pay taxes) but I still think this argument rests on the definition of theft. You say it's theft if the state takes taxes from you; I don't. I don't want to use an argument from effect; I'm not saying the effect of the state thieving is new hospitals, but I'd say I'm using an argument from morality and effect: the effect of the state fairly (the state does provide for you, after all, though I'm trying not to sound like some sort of salivating slave here; believe me, I'm not) deducting some money from your taxes to do things which benefits almost everyone in the country is fair and justified.

Again, I don't think your employed taking money from you is fair, but the employer is not a state which provides help and assistance for you, whether or not he gives the money to charity. However, the collective effort of everyone's taxes goes to much more things than what a thief could do with money; it goes to hospitals and schools and other good works, so it helps everyone, including future generations.

However, I agree we should have more choice on what taxes are spent on since they are perhaps unfairly spent. If the state took taxes and gave us a choice on where they went, would you say that's fairer?

I think this welfare argument is now running around in circles; it's really a semantics question of what "theft" is and what counts as "fair." So I do believe in the universal moral rule (are you taking a hint from Kant here, I wonder? Tongue) of "do not steal." However, since I do not regard the state taking money from your wages, for reasons I've explained, as theft, then this rule is irrelevant to my consideration.

In all fairness to this argument, I do grant that you really made me think with that last.


First, just to clarify... I am not a pacifist. I reserve the right to use violence in self defense and that does include third party defense.

That said, the US government deserves the attitude people across the world have toward it just like members of the KKK deserve the attitude people have toward them. I haven't read much about the events in Bosnia but I can say that I seriously doubt that the US government has been the poster child for benevolence in its actions against Milosevic. I'm not saying that the US government didn't help people in Bosnia but look at it this way... if a man gives away half his wealth to charity, pays his employees above average, helps old ladies across the street and then goes home every day and beats his wife and kids, is he praiseworthy? Virtue is not a mathematical equation wherein we can do one more good deed than bad and be net positive in the virtue department. Hell, KKK members often collectively support charities. Does that wash away their bigotries?

As for random middle easterners attacking US citizens for deeds the US government did in the past and, to people other than themselves, of course it is wrong. If I gave you any other impression, I apologize. My point was not that the attacks on 9/11 were justified. Just that they were not random attacks with no basis. Ultimately, any political argument, to me at least, goes back to the fact that government rulers are coercive and violent against both their own tax cattle and to the tax cattle of other tax farms. And with that in mind, arguing the minutia of what this ruler did or wanted to do and what that leader should have done in retaliation is so much mental masturbation. Firstly, because it skips right over the entire notion that human beings should not control other human beings. Second and, less importantly, because there is almost no way to know the information you're receiving is true.

"I'm not yet old enough to qualify for welfare or pay taxes"

That makes no difference whatever. The curiosity and composure you display speaks of wisdom far beyond your age. Let's face it, you've already shed the indoctrination of religion, so there's no reason you won't shed statist indoctrination too. Tongue

You say that taxation is not theft and you say you're not interested in basing your premise on an argument from effect. That's great start. So now we have to find out if there is a moral difference between taxation and theft. In theft, a man comes up to me, sticks a gun in my neck and tells me to hand over my wallet. In taxation, the state writes down how much of my money they want and then tells me I have to pay that amount. If I refuse the mugger's request, I'm likely to take a bullet in the neck but there is also a chance that the mugger isn't really so desperate that he would shoot me. Thus, if I persist in refusing to hand over my wallet, he may relent and run away or, if I choose to defend my property through force, there's a chance I can overpower him or scare him away. And, there are instances where people have effectively talked their way out of being mugged as well as those where the victim has overpowered the mugger. With the state, if I refuse their request by way of not sending in my money, they will send me letters of demand. If I ignore those letters of demand, they will schedule a hearing in one of their law courts and will send me notice of same. If I refuse that notice by not appearing in their law court, they will issue an arrest warrant. After which, a man (or two men, usually) in a blue costume will come to my house and attempt to take me and lock me in a cage. Should I choose to defend property through physical means, one or both of those men will shoot me. If I'm lucky, they might tazer me, throw me on the ground violently and then kidnap me but that's only if I'm unarmed. If I choose to defend my property with a firearm, they will shoot me dead.

In the end, I have a lot better chances of walking away from an attempted mugging with both my money and my life than I do an attempted tax collection. In both cases, I am not willing to give my money to the villain, nor do I approve of how my money will be spent. In neither case has the villain provided me products or services that I requested of them voluntarily.

Can you explain, with an argument from morality, how there is any difference whatever between taxation and theft?

"If the state took taxes and gave us a choice on where they went, would you say that's fairer?"

If a slave owner decides to beat his slaves once per month rather than once per day, would you say that's fairer?

And yeah, I do take some of my ethical foundations from Kant's categorical imperative. Although I prefer a more recent, but similar methodology for testing the validity of moral rules. It is called Universally Preferable Behavior or, UPB for short. You can read or listen to the book "Universally Preferable Behavior, A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics" for free.

Okay, but I've never said the US hasn't done bad things. You seem to be trying to demonise it at every step, even when good things it has done are pointed out. You can't give a straight out answer to praise it for one good thing; instead you focus on the worse things it has done and try and twist the good things. So of course the KKK being charitable doesn't make them good people, just as the US doing good things doesn't make it good as a whole. It does, however, mean that it is capable of doing good things and that that means there is room for change. (Unlike the KKK, which is rigid and inflexible in its beliefs, the US has a change of presidency; you could argue most presidents are the same, but there is still room for change.)

I agree with you that the attacks were not random; I just say they're based on the fundamentalist fantasies of people like bin Laden. So it was deliberate yes, but I don't think it was a response to American attacks. They can provide an excuse, yes, but in the end bin Laden wasn't interested in freedom or anti-imperialism or fighting against tyranny. He, like every other Islamic extremist, desired to see the return of an ancient empire, and to see women, gay people and atheists and anyone who disagreed with his doctrines killed or imprisoned or torture. I doubt you would stick up for this, unlike so many on the left these days. Osama bin Laden has even been compared to Che Guevara (though I'm not sure whether the comparison was made by a leftist or not, actually.)

Incidentally, though I don't think you're one of these people, I am not an "Islamophobe" or a racist or any of those things which seem to get stuck to you if you criticize, even slightly, Islamic extremists.

Concerning the mental masturbation argument, as it shall henceforth be termed, I think the difference is that presidents do not control their people. Do you not vote? Do you not have transparency? Can you not indict your president? Did not Congress vote nearly unanimously for the Iraq War. Was there not great support for it? And, concerning the idea that what we're told might not be true, well, of course you can't trust everything politicians say. But their facts can be checked. There is transparency. There are other sources, such as journalists and, in the case of the Iraq War, immigrants from Kurdistan and Iraq who testified to the horrors of Saddam Hussein, and indeed desired intervention.

Also, you still skirted around the question about your solution to Saddam Hussein and others, like Milosevic. What does someone of your stance do in these cases? Self-defense could come in somewhere, at least for Saddam Hussein.

Back to welfare now. I still say that the state taking money from you is not theft; thus defending yourself against state incursion into your home in this case is not defending yourself against theft. The mugger is still a different scenario. So, an argument from morality here would be to say that the mugger is probably a low life and/or a desperate man. The state is simply trying to keep itself running, which in the end benefits you. It is not theft, just part of the mechanism that is necessary. Someone pointed out to me last night that it is simply impossible to have a modern industrialized country without taxes; so from that point of view its a matter of pragmatism.

As for the slave thing, again I disagree with it, since I don't believe these things can be compared; one is immoral to me, the other is not.

And, in any case, say I conceded this argument. What then? I know the state is wrong and evil, but there really is nothing I can do about it.

And I thought you might be citing Kantian ideas. I learned about his stuff in philosophy in my last year at school, and it was quite interesting though of course there are problems with some of it. I'll look into that book. And, incidentally, here's a book someone recommended to me last night which looks like something you might be interested in: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Proposed-Roads-F...+socialism Or you can download it free: http://librivox.org/proposed-roads-to-fr...d-russell/

It's Bertrand Russell's take on socialism, anarchism and syndicalism (the latter of which I'm unfamiliar with.) Incidentally, I had a friend who used to be anarchist but now identifies more as socialist. xD

"Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence."

-Christoper Hitchens, "Letters to a Young Contrarian."
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10-04-2013, 10:54 AM
RE: Is there an introduction?
An introduction to politics, by Charlie Brooker:




E 2 = (mc 2)2 + (pc )2
614C → 714N + e + ̅νe
2 K(s) + 2 H2O(l) → 2 KOH(aq) + H2 (g) + 196 kJ/mol
It works, bitches.
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10-04-2013, 08:27 PM
RE: Is there an introduction?
(10-04-2013 10:53 AM)TheAmazingAustralopithecus Wrote:  Okay, but I've never said the US hasn't done bad things. You seem to be trying to demonise it at every step, even when good things it has done are pointed out. You can't give a straight out answer to praise it for one good thing; instead you focus on the worse things it has done and try and twist the good things. So of course the KKK being charitable doesn't make them good people, just as the US doing good things doesn't make it good as a whole. It does, however, mean that it is capable of doing good things and that that means there is room for change. (Unlike the KKK, which is rigid and inflexible in its beliefs, the US has a change of presidency; you could argue most presidents are the same, but there is still room for change.)

I agree with you that the attacks were not random; I just say they're based on the fundamentalist fantasies of people like bin Laden. So it was deliberate yes, but I don't think it was a response to American attacks. They can provide an excuse, yes, but in the end bin Laden wasn't interested in freedom or anti-imperialism or fighting against tyranny. He, like every other Islamic extremist, desired to see the return of an ancient empire, and to see women, gay people and atheists and anyone who disagreed with his doctrines killed or imprisoned or torture. I doubt you would stick up for this, unlike so many on the left these days. Osama bin Laden has even been compared to Che Guevara (though I'm not sure whether the comparison was made by a leftist or not, actually.)

Incidentally, though I don't think you're one of these people, I am not an "Islamophobe" or a racist or any of those things which seem to get stuck to you if you criticize, even slightly, Islamic extremists.

Concerning the mental masturbation argument, as it shall henceforth be termed, I think the difference is that presidents do not control their people. Do you not vote? Do you not have transparency? Can you not indict your president? Did not Congress vote nearly unanimously for the Iraq War. Was there not great support for it? And, concerning the idea that what we're told might not be true, well, of course you can't trust everything politicians say. But their facts can be checked. There is transparency. There are other sources, such as journalists and, in the case of the Iraq War, immigrants from Kurdistan and Iraq who testified to the horrors of Saddam Hussein, and indeed desired intervention.

Also, you still skirted around the question about your solution to Saddam Hussein and others, like Milosevic. What does someone of your stance do in these cases? Self-defense could come in somewhere, at least for Saddam Hussein.

Back to welfare now. I still say that the state taking money from you is not theft; thus defending yourself against state incursion into your home in this case is not defending yourself against theft. The mugger is still a different scenario. So, an argument from morality here would be to say that the mugger is probably a low life and/or a desperate man. The state is simply trying to keep itself running, which in the end benefits you. It is not theft, just part of the mechanism that is necessary. Someone pointed out to me last night that it is simply impossible to have a modern industrialized country without taxes; so from that point of view its a matter of pragmatism.

As for the slave thing, again I disagree with it, since I don't believe these things can be compared; one is immoral to me, the other is not.

And, in any case, say I conceded this argument. What then? I know the state is wrong and evil, but there really is nothing I can do about it.

And I thought you might be citing Kantian ideas. I learned about his stuff in philosophy in my last year at school, and it was quite interesting though of course there are problems with some of it. I'll look into that book. And, incidentally, here's a book someone recommended to me last night which looks like something you might be interested in: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Proposed-Roads-F...+socialism Or you can download it free: http://librivox.org/proposed-roads-to-fr...d-russell/

It's Bertrand Russell's take on socialism, anarchism and syndicalism (the latter of which I'm unfamiliar with.) Incidentally, I had a friend who used to be anarchist but now identifies more as socialist. xD

I demonize the US government so often for two reasons. First, it is the government of the landmass I was born on. Second, it is a government. It cannot do good deeds, because its very existence is predicated on threats of violence and coercion. That's what a nation state is... a group of people who claim a monopoly on violence in a given geographical area. But don't take my word for it...





I don't care if a new president can be elected and I don't care that he or she is supposedly accountable and I don't care if the majority of Americans want the president to murder children with flying robots. Because it's immoral. You can argue that the KKK is an inflexible organization but their actions demonstrate otherwise. To wit: The leaders of the KKK have for years been denouncing and discouraging lynchings. Of course, that doesn't mean that those leaders don't support lynchings behind closed doors but, I'm not arguing that they are a benevolent group. I'm demonstrating that, like the state, they too can claim to have changed policies. But obviously, claims made at podiums carry little weight.

As for bin Laden, you say that he (and others like him) didn't attack the US because of things the US government has done to middle easterners but according to his own words, that is exactly why he hated the US and all other UN nations. But if you want to look for motivations outside those he claimed, look at his psychological profile. Muslim culture is extremely violent toward women and children, much as Christian culture was four hundred or so years ago. He was raised in an abusive environment where his needs and wants were ignored and he was taught from early childhood to hate those who aren't like him. Incidentally, Che Guevara, Adolf Hitler and any other violent dictator or mass murderer you care to examine had extremely violent childhoods rife with neglect, physical and mental abuse or some combination of the above. And most, like bin Laden, were also indoctrinated into one religious cult or another. So from a psychological perspective, not even he understood his motives but it would be nigh imposisble for him to have been anything other than a violent psychopath looking for a scapegoat upon which to unleash his pent up rage. The UN and the US government fit that bill quite nicely, because they actually did cause suffering in his homeland. And to clarify again, I'm not taking the side of anyone who has attacked the US. It is quite possible to be against both sides as a witness to violence and that's where I stand with regard to any act of aggression. If it isn't a response to a specific attack, aimed only at the attacker, it is always unjustifiable.

I do not vote. I don't know what you mean by me having transparency, can you elaborate? I cannot indict the president. And I don't care how many people support any war. I don't believe anything politicians say and I don't believe anything the media says about them. There is no transparency in government and if there were, the Freedom of Information Act would not have to have been created and further, there would not be thousands of FOIA requests being denied at any given time. The state tells the media what it wants the citizenry to hear. And no, it's not giant conspiracy, any more than a group of lions conspire to kill a gazelle before they act perfectly in concert to take one down. Human beings are driven to protect our own interests, and politicians are no different than humans.... in that respect. Wink

I haven't skirted the issue of Saddam Hussein but I've clearly not articulated my position very well. In the event that it would be necessary for someone to save a population from a violent dictator, that task can be completed without destroying the infrastructure, economy and resources of an entire nation. Not to mention, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of those same human lives one purports to be saving. Think of it this way, Iraq has a total population of around 31 million people. Credible estimates are that the US invasion has, since 2003, cost about a million Iraqi lives. To put that into perspective, let's say that Barack Obama went even more nuts than he already is and decided to make America a communist nation. And lets say he begins to lock people like me into concentration camps and even starts to kill some of us here and there. Of course, he would also be killing a lot of prisoners as well and in general, things would horrible. So then, the UN decides to come and rescue the US from Obama. In order to rid the US of one dictator in the same manner the US and other nations have done in Iraq, you could count on the loss of about 992 million American lives, including women and children. Adolf Hitler only killed about six million people and he is the epitome of evil. Percentage wise, how much do you think the innocent people in Iraq were helped by having nearly five percent of their population wiped out, along with virtually all of their economic productivity? I don't know if you're aware, but Saddam Husein achieved his position as dictator of Iraq thanks to US intervention. In the end, it isn't as simple as America saved a country from a dictator. It's the American government installed a dictator who stopped doing their bidding so they went into the country and destroyed it, along with five percent of it's population and now, the US government is putting in place yet another sociopath who will likely be just as evil as their last one. But they won't care, so long as he does what he's told.

Regarding the rest, if we can't agree on the definition of theft, we can't debate statism v. voluntarism. Definitions are key in debate, because if we have different definitions, we're arguing apples and oranges.

As for conceding, I don't want you to concede this debate. At least not any time in the near future. I hope you will look at statim with the same skepticism with which you look at religion and, if you do, you will reach far different conclusions than you are right now. But if you did concede, I couldn't tell you what you should do. But I can tell you what I do. I live according to the principles I espouse. This means that I do not use violence or coercion against anyone with whom I have a relationship and, I reject those who do. I pay my taxes so I'm not caged but, I also utilize every legal tax avoidance vehicle provided to me. Other than that, I go about my life just like anyone else. I enjoy working, traveling, having a few cocktails with friends, talking with people on internet forums & making the beast with two backs as often as possible. Big Grin

As far as doing something about the state goes, that's why I'm talking with you here. Human violence has been on the decline for millennia. As we become less violent with our children, we create less violent adults and no matter how long it takes, once we have rid the majority of the world of superstition, violence and coercion in the family, the state will no longer be needed or desired. That may take another ten generations of people but hey, the first abolitionists never lived to see blacks walk free but I, for one, am so very thankful that they lived their principles and spoke out against the evil they saw.

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. - Chinese Proverb
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11-04-2013, 01:37 PM (This post was last modified: 11-04-2013 02:03 PM by TheAmazingAustralopithecus.)
RE: Is there an introduction?
(10-04-2013 08:27 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  
(10-04-2013 10:53 AM)TheAmazingAustralopithecus Wrote:  Okay, but I've never said the US hasn't done bad things. You seem to be trying to demonise it at every step, even when good things it has done are pointed out. You can't give a straight out answer to praise it for one good thing; instead you focus on the worse things it has done and try and twist the good things. So of course the KKK being charitable doesn't make them good people, just as the US doing good things doesn't make it good as a whole. It does, however, mean that it is capable of doing good things and that that means there is room for change. (Unlike the KKK, which is rigid and inflexible in its beliefs, the US has a change of presidency; you could argue most presidents are the same, but there is still room for change.)

I agree with you that the attacks were not random; I just say they're based on the fundamentalist fantasies of people like bin Laden. So it was deliberate yes, but I don't think it was a response to American attacks. They can provide an excuse, yes, but in the end bin Laden wasn't interested in freedom or anti-imperialism or fighting against tyranny. He, like every other Islamic extremist, desired to see the return of an ancient empire, and to see women, gay people and atheists and anyone who disagreed with his doctrines killed or imprisoned or torture. I doubt you would stick up for this, unlike so many on the left these days. Osama bin Laden has even been compared to Che Guevara (though I'm not sure whether the comparison was made by a leftist or not, actually.)

Incidentally, though I don't think you're one of these people, I am not an "Islamophobe" or a racist or any of those things which seem to get stuck to you if you criticize, even slightly, Islamic extremists.

Concerning the mental masturbation argument, as it shall henceforth be termed, I think the difference is that presidents do not control their people. Do you not vote? Do you not have transparency? Can you not indict your president? Did not Congress vote nearly unanimously for the Iraq War. Was there not great support for it? And, concerning the idea that what we're told might not be true, well, of course you can't trust everything politicians say. But their facts can be checked. There is transparency. There are other sources, such as journalists and, in the case of the Iraq War, immigrants from Kurdistan and Iraq who testified to the horrors of Saddam Hussein, and indeed desired intervention.

Also, you still skirted around the question about your solution to Saddam Hussein and others, like Milosevic. What does someone of your stance do in these cases? Self-defense could come in somewhere, at least for Saddam Hussein.

Back to welfare now. I still say that the state taking money from you is not theft; thus defending yourself against state incursion into your home in this case is not defending yourself against theft. The mugger is still a different scenario. So, an argument from morality here would be to say that the mugger is probably a low life and/or a desperate man. The state is simply trying to keep itself running, which in the end benefits you. It is not theft, just part of the mechanism that is necessary. Someone pointed out to me last night that it is simply impossible to have a modern industrialized country without taxes; so from that point of view its a matter of pragmatism.

As for the slave thing, again I disagree with it, since I don't believe these things can be compared; one is immoral to me, the other is not.

And, in any case, say I conceded this argument. What then? I know the state is wrong and evil, but there really is nothing I can do about it.

And I thought you might be citing Kantian ideas. I learned about his stuff in philosophy in my last year at school, and it was quite interesting though of course there are problems with some of it. I'll look into that book. And, incidentally, here's a book someone recommended to me last night which looks like something you might be interested in: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Proposed-Roads-F...+socialism Or you can download it free: http://librivox.org/proposed-roads-to-fr...d-russell/

It's Bertrand Russell's take on socialism, anarchism and syndicalism (the latter of which I'm unfamiliar with.) Incidentally, I had a friend who used to be anarchist but now identifies more as socialist. xD

I demonize the US government so often for two reasons. First, it is the government of the landmass I was born on. Second, it is a government. It cannot do good deeds, because its very existence is predicated on threats of violence and coercion. That's what a nation state is... a group of people who claim a monopoly on violence in a given geographical area. But don't take my word for it...





I don't care if a new president can be elected and I don't care that he or she is supposedly accountable and I don't care if the majority of Americans want the president to murder children with flying robots. Because it's immoral. You can argue that the KKK is an inflexible organization but their actions demonstrate otherwise. To wit: The leaders of the KKK have for years been denouncing and discouraging lynchings. Of course, that doesn't mean that those leaders don't support lynchings behind closed doors but, I'm not arguing that they are a benevolent group. I'm demonstrating that, like the state, they too can claim to have changed policies. But obviously, claims made at podiums carry little weight.

As for bin Laden, you say that he (and others like him) didn't attack the US because of things the US government has done to middle easterners but according to his own words, that is exactly why he hated the US and all other UN nations. But if you want to look for motivations outside those he claimed, look at his psychological profile. Muslim culture is extremely violent toward women and children, much as Christian culture was four hundred or so years ago. He was raised in an abusive environment where his needs and wants were ignored and he was taught from early childhood to hate those who aren't like him. Incidentally, Che Guevara, Adolf Hitler and any other violent dictator or mass murderer you care to examine had extremely violent childhoods rife with neglect, physical and mental abuse or some combination of the above. And most, like bin Laden, were also indoctrinated into one religious cult or another. So from a psychological perspective, not even he understood his motives but it would be nigh imposisble for him to have been anything other than a violent psychopath looking for a scapegoat upon which to unleash his pent up rage. The UN and the US government fit that bill quite nicely, because they actually did cause suffering in his homeland. And to clarify again, I'm not taking the side of anyone who has attacked the US. It is quite possible to be against both sides as a witness to violence and that's where I stand with regard to any act of aggression. If it isn't a response to a specific attack, aimed only at the attacker, it is always unjustifiable.

I do not vote. I don't know what you mean by me having transparency, can you elaborate? I cannot indict the president. And I don't care how many people support any war. I don't believe anything politicians say and I don't believe anything the media says about them. There is no transparency in government and if there were, the Freedom of Information Act would not have to have been created and further, there would not be thousands of FOIA requests being denied at any given time. The state tells the media what it wants the citizenry to hear. And no, it's not giant conspiracy, any more than a group of lions conspire to kill a gazelle before they act perfectly in concert to take one down. Human beings are driven to protect our own interests, and politicians are no different than humans.... in that respect. Wink

I haven't skirted the issue of Saddam Hussein but I've clearly not articulated my position very well. In the event that it would be necessary for someone to save a population from a violent dictator, that task can be completed without destroying the infrastructure, economy and resources of an entire nation. Not to mention, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of those same human lives one purports to be saving. Think of it this way, Iraq has a total population of around 31 million people. Credible estimates are that the US invasion has, since 2003, cost about a million Iraqi lives. To put that into perspective, let's say that Barack Obama went even more nuts than he already is and decided to make America a communist nation. And lets say he begins to lock people like me into concentration camps and even starts to kill some of us here and there. Of course, he would also be killing a lot of prisoners as well and in general, things would horrible. So then, the UN decides to come and rescue the US from Obama. In order to rid the US of one dictator in the same manner the US and other nations have done in Iraq, you could count on the loss of about 992 million American lives, including women and children. Adolf Hitler only killed about six million people and he is the epitome of evil. Percentage wise, how much do you think the innocent people in Iraq were helped by having nearly five percent of their population wiped out, along with virtually all of their economic productivity? I don't know if you're aware, but Saddam Husein achieved his position as dictator of Iraq thanks to US intervention. In the end, it isn't as simple as America saved a country from a dictator. It's the American government installed a dictator who stopped doing their bidding so they went into the country and destroyed it, along with five percent of it's population and now, the US government is putting in place yet another sociopath who will likely be just as evil as their last one. But they won't care, so long as he does what he's told.

Regarding the rest, if we can't agree on the definition of theft, we can't debate statism v. voluntarism. Definitions are key in debate, because if we have different definitions, we're arguing apples and oranges.

As for conceding, I don't want you to concede this debate. At least not any time in the near future. I hope you will look at statim with the same skepticism with which you look at religion and, if you do, you will reach far different conclusions than you are right now. But if you did concede, I couldn't tell you what you should do. But I can tell you what I do. I live according to the principles I espouse. This means that I do not use violence or coercion against anyone with whom I have a relationship and, I reject those who do. I pay my taxes so I'm not caged but, I also utilize every legal tax avoidance vehicle provided to me. Other than that, I go about my life just like anyone else. I enjoy working, traveling, having a few cocktails with friends, talking with people on internet forums & making the beast with two backs as often as possible. Big Grin

As far as doing something about the state goes, that's why I'm talking with you here. Human violence has been on the decline for millennia. As we become less violent with our children, we create less violent adults and no matter how long it takes, once we have rid the majority of the world of superstition, violence and coercion in the family, the state will no longer be needed or desired. That may take another ten generations of people but hey, the first abolitionists never lived to see blacks walk free but I, for one, am so very thankful that they lived their principles and spoke out against the evil they saw.

But still, you simply cannot compare the KKK to a democratic government. They say they've changed; they haven't, they're not accountable. A President on the other hand will be immediately attacked by his detractors in the media; it's just silly to say that the media is in the hands of the government. Much of it is, or much of it is just stupid, but to say there aren't journalists and newspapers who never attack or criticize a government is plain wrong. A government is accountable. People do elect things. That means, yes, they can do immoral things with that power. But they will always be held accountable by the people who elected them; many of the people who supported Labour in Britain I'm sure disagreed with Tony Blair, and Tony Blair has a less than desirable reputation these days. Governments do change. The KKK is inflexible but just want to have a good press; governments aren't inflexible, though they do also want a good image. In Britain, for example, the Conservatives in power now are destroying the benefits and welfare system, and the Labour party have hounded them for it. Without a doubt there would be a big shift in policy were the latter party in power, because their supporters, the electorate, put them there. Policies do change. Hasn't there not been a furore over Obama's desire to implement healthcare systems? Would the Republicans not try and change it back were they in power? Of course a government changes.

And to say that a government cannot do good things is still over-simplified. Even if the premise is evil, it does not mean it cannot do good things. Just because terrorists base their fantasies on immoral ideas, does not mean they are capable of only bad. Of course we don't credit Hamas or the KKK for doing good things since the majority of what they stand for is immoral, but to say that the same balance applies to government is not correct. I'm sure there are countless immoral acts committed by government- but there are probably a similar number of moral acts that have been done, regardless of the premise which you say is evil (which I also disagree with).

As you say, bin Laden was looking for a scapegoat. And though I don't deny childhood abuse etc. was involved with these sorts of men, you said it yourself; bin Laden was a product of Muslim culture and was indoctrinated into a religious cult and used the US as an outlet for violence caused by his Muslim childhood. It still seems to me that whatever way you look at it, there is no genuine attack upon which he can claim to be responding against, as you say, and that his supposed anti-imperialism was merely an excuse for violence resulting from religious indoctrination and abuse. Incidentally, bin Laden asked one of his children to be a suicide bomber. So it seems religious extremism passes on. Also, even had bin Laden targeted the US government alone, it would not have been justified. Do we attack the German government for Nazi atrocities today? Of course not. Also, any attack on the US government would necessarily kill civilians, or at least government workers who don't even have anything to do with policy in the Middle East. Maybe if he'd just assassinated the president; but, wait a second, how would even that be justifiable? Is not the President elected and supported by people, civilians included? Surely then, since the people voted for a government which has meddled in the Middle East they deserve to die too? Nonsense. It's a vicious circle when you try to argue that 9/11 is in any way justified, outside of the fact that bin Laden was a traumatised extremist inspired by delusions of grandeur and desirous of Islamic superiority over the West.

Well, you should vote if you can. And yes you can indict the president with enough support. And it's good you don't simply believe what politicians say and what the media says about them; but that doesn't mean they are by definition wrong. Again, there are many sides to the argument; some journalists hate Obama, some love him. You can make up your own mind. It is not North Korea, you don't simply praise Obama, or Bush, or Clinton. As for Freedom of Information; be glad you have one. Requests, of course, have to be denied. If you ask for sensitive information then of course it will be denied. That's just logical. But you have more transparency and freedom of information than most, including the UK, where we have an Official Secrets Act preventing people from talking about these issues at all if they sign it.

As for Iraq, I'm sort of playing devil's advocate here, but I'd say that, firstly, comparing an intervention in a US with concentration camps to Hitler is not logical. An intervention is a war, plain and simple. Hitler rounded up people and exterminated them. There are also more people in the US to be killed than Hitler had. Thirdly, Hitler killed far more than six million people in the concentration camps; if we include black people, gypsies and homosexuals and other minorities. Also, Hitler was responsible for starting the largest war in history which killed around 60 million people. As such, it is also impossible to use that as a moral equivalence with the US invasion of Iraq (and if it comes down to numbers, Hitler wins outright in any case, as I've pointed out). However, I agree that the US invasion has not gone as planned; however I also want to point out that much of the horror perpetrated in Iraq is nothing to do with the US, but with Islamic murderers trying to gain power and slaughter other Muslims, or nonbelievers. Don't try to pin it all on America. Terrorist atrocities, not against America, but against other Muslims, is rampant in Iraq. War between Shia and Sunni. This is not the American invasion; this is just the extremists on either side using this opportunity. Instead of allowing Iraq to be rebuilt after Saddam's departure, they tore it apart. They therefore deserve a great deal of responsibility for what they've done. I'm not dismissing America's role, merely pointing out that a great deal of what has gone on in the aftermath is due to other Islamic extremists who hate each other (Al Qaeda is also involved in no small part).

As for America placing Saddam in power, doesn't that mean they have more responsibility for removing him? You can argue it's simply because he wasn't playing nice, but its foolish to deny he was a monster and posed a serious threat to the Middle East- and the rest of the world, for that matter. And regarding their new leader, was Jalal Talabani not a true freedom fighter? Did he not fight for the rights of the Kurds? Did he and his fellows not oppose the hanging of Saddam Hussein? Was he not elected? And as for the overall effects of the war, do you really think the Kurds and the oppressed people in Iraq were unhappy? Did a huge amount of people not greet US troops in the beginning at least with happiness? And these cannot have been staged; Hitchens reports experiencing one which cannot have been planned since they were merely travelling and were come upon by civilians. Unless Hitchens is lying (and has fake pictures) I can't say that many of these greetings were faked.

And you still didn't answer the question. What would you do about Saddam Hussein? What is the solution then? And, again, had the anti-war movement gotten their way there would have been a genocide in Europe, an expanded empire for Saddam Hussein and more tyranny perpetuated by him even today; more dead bodies, more chemical genocide, more abuse. If it comes down to it, then perhaps the pro-war and anti-war movements both weren't very clever. The difference is the pro-war movement actually tried to do something, and something positive resulted at least in Bosnia and, arguably, Afghanistan is a great deal better off without the Taliban being in power, though there is much to lament about the state it is in and the war effort. And I don't dispute for a second that much of this was selfishly orientated, but there was also a great deal of genuine despair for the Kurds' situation and parts of the pro-war movement were specifically interested in helping them.

And ditto on the tax argument. And I agree that the world is becoming less violent (I've got Steven Pinker's book Tongue) but I disagree that without violence a state would be unnecessary. I don't have time for patriotism (I never tire of pointing out that Britain were the first to use concentration camps when people say we're so great) but I simply think it's a matter of practicality. And as you've demonstrated you can clearly live the life you want to with a state.

Also, I wasn't saying I was going to concede the argument, I was just trying to make the point that even if I did, what difference would it make. I see what you mean though, that disputation of course makes a difference, so it was a silly point. A better point is that I simply don't understand how an anarchist system could work. Maybe it's because I'm not educated enough on it, granted. In any case I wasn't going to concede the point. Worry not!

Incidentally, how has your day been? Just to make this exchange a little more casual xD.

"Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence."

-Christoper Hitchens, "Letters to a Young Contrarian."
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12-04-2013, 02:32 AM
RE: Is there an introduction?
First of all, I had a great day. And I finished it off (almost) at Coyote's biker bar. Thursday is steak night. Smile

How about you?

Second, thanks for the lead on the Russel book. I now have it in queue to "read", along with a lot of other titles from Librivox.

And by the way, Librivox is a perfect example of voluntary association. a.k.a. anarcho-capitalism Wink As you do more research, you'll find that more and more authors and entertainers are offering their works for free or with a suggested, voluntary donation. That copyright/IP free model of business is voluntarism at work.

As for the rest of the discussion, we seem to be going in circles, which can become tiresome and frustrating, so I'm going to try and back it up a bit if that's alright with you. If not, I understand.

To first clarify a few things... I'm not anti government any more than I'm anti leprechaun. I am an adherent to the Non Aggression Principle or, NAP. I reject aggression in all relationships between all people, including parents and children, brothers and sisters, friends, lovers, employees and employers and, you guessed it... people who call themselves government and people who don't.

Government, as we're discussing it, doesn't exist. It's a concept used to describe a group of people, just like family is a concept used to describe a group of people and forest is a concept used to describe a group of trees. Simplified, these concepts are groups of individuals. If you remove the individuals in any of them, the concept no longer exists. To labor the point just a bit... can you show me a picture of your family with no people in it? a litter with no puppies? a murder with no crows? Okay, that last one was questionable. Unsure

When you see a policeman arrest a man for marijuana possession, I see a man in a blue costume kidnapping a man for carrying an innocuous bit of vegetation in his pocket... which is aggression... which I reject. But what do I see when I see a policeman chasing a thief for stealing an old woman's purse? I see a man in a blue costume doing what any other capable and decent human being would and should do for another. The blue costume doesn't change the man's moral standard. It doesn't make him stronger than you or I. It does make him identifiable to me as a person who can harass me on a whim. But it doesn't justify such an action.

I'm sharing this with you because, in my opinion, it's the wall between us in this debate. It's a fundamental difference in the definition of morality and no debate can be productive if definitions can't be agreed upon. Rather, we just become two television sets pointed at one another.

I do want to address one specific comment you've repeated, though...

"And you still didn't answer the question. What would you do about Saddam Hussein? What is the solution then?"

I would attempt to take him hostage and if unavoidable, I would kill him. But only him. And only if I knew that no one under his control were capable of doing so. In such a case, that action would be third party defense of an ongoing act of aggression. I eluded to the fact that there are other ways to approach the situation but to be sure, I didn't make it clear and I apologize.

Also...

"A better point is that I simply don't understand how an anarchist system could work. Maybe it's because I'm not educated enough on it, granted."

Indeed. But there's no harm in not understanding something... especially when you have been raised your entire life in an environment that frowns on free thought. I was raised in a family where the child must obey the parent, regardless of how arbitrary or inconsistent the demands. I suspect you were too, as virtually all human beings have been for centuries. In fact, the hierarchical and coercive nature of the family is so firmly ingrained in us that it's almost an easy assumption that we're genetically predisposed to blind obedience. But we aren't. On the contrary, we're born with an innate desire to be free of coercion.

Once we achieve self awareness, life becomes a fantastic journey of learning about the self and our surroundings. And once we learn to manipulate objects, our favorite words become no and mine. Of course they do, because we don't want to be controlled and we want to keep that which we possess as our property. But left to our own devises, we also learn to share and we have a desire to help others. Have you ever seen a baby hand something to an adult an just look at them? How about a toddler who attempts to sweep the floor? Those children are practicing empathy, reciprocation and sharing. And those are the ingredients for adult charity, compassion and tolerance.

Sadly, those traits are all too often and all to severely hampered and even destroyed through the use of coercion. Most parents don't respect their child's right to his own property, while demanding that the child not touch theirs. Most parents demand respect, even when they've not earned it. All too often, a parent will "teach" his child not to hit others by hitting the child. This may stop the child's immediate behavior but the long term lesson is that if you're larger and stronger, you can hit others. More commonly known as might makes right. Another "lesson" parents often pride themselves in is teaching their kids to deny their own emotions and needs while in public. Aka, kids should be seen and not heard. In their zeal to avoid having their children inconvenience store clerks or, perhaps, embarrass them in public, these parents are actually teaching the kids that their needs and desires are less important than those of complete strangers.

When the children are older they're herded, segregated by age or gender, into rooms in large, often prison like buildings and are told to sit silently. They're then forced, through rote memorization, to learn conclusions and insignificant names and dates... most of which are related to rulers of their nation state. They must beg permission to move their bowels or urinate and in a lot of cases, they're forced to painfully delay those bodily functions until such a time that their needs don't inconvenience the adults.

Most of them eventually concede that their lives are resigned to a daily ritual of blindly obeying the whims of adults and thus conclude that their empathic nature, their thirst for knowledge and their sense of self worth are nothing more than useless efforts which cause far more pain than pleasure. And through splitting, projection and leveling, their subconscious medicates them into a state of apathy which allows them to cope with their plight. And then they become adults and repeat the entire process on their progeny.

It all starts with the hierarchy of the family. And usually, the hierarchy of religion in congruity. Then it moves to the school. And by the time the child becomes and adult and leaves the school, the violent and coercive environment that is the nation state has long since become the water the fish swim in.

But once in a while, some asshole comes along and points out the water. And then, most of the fish brandish their pitch forks and make chase. Beat_stick

And also once in a while, there is a fish who is courageous enough to stop, put down the pitch fork and say, tell me more about this water... Consider

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. - Chinese Proverb
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15-04-2013, 10:34 AM (This post was last modified: 15-04-2013 11:32 AM by TheAmazingAustralopithecus.)
RE: Is there an introduction?
(12-04-2013 02:32 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  First of all, I had a great day. And I finished it off (almost) at Coyote's biker bar. Thursday is steak night. Smile

How about you?

Second, thanks for the lead on the Russel book. I now have it in queue to "read", along with a lot of other titles from Librivox.

And by the way, Librivox is a perfect example of voluntary association. a.k.a. anarcho-capitalism Wink As you do more research, you'll find that more and more authors and entertainers are offering their works for free or with a suggested, voluntary donation. That copyright/IP free model of business is voluntarism at work.

As for the rest of the discussion, we seem to be going in circles, which can become tiresome and frustrating, so I'm going to try and back it up a bit if that's alright with you. If not, I understand.

To first clarify a few things... I'm not anti government any more than I'm anti leprechaun. I am an adherent to the Non Aggression Principle or, NAP. I reject aggression in all relationships between all people, including parents and children, brothers and sisters, friends, lovers, employees and employers and, you guessed it... people who call themselves government and people who don't.

Government, as we're discussing it, doesn't exist. It's a concept used to describe a group of people, just like family is a concept used to describe a group of people and forest is a concept used to describe a group of trees. Simplified, these concepts are groups of individuals. If you remove the individuals in any of them, the concept no longer exists. To labor the point just a bit... can you show me a picture of your family with no people in it? a litter with no puppies? a murder with no crows? Okay, that last one was questionable. Unsure

When you see a policeman arrest a man for marijuana possession, I see a man in a blue costume kidnapping a man for carrying an innocuous bit of vegetation in his pocket... which is aggression... which I reject. But what do I see when I see a policeman chasing a thief for stealing an old woman's purse? I see a man in a blue costume doing what any other capable and decent human being would and should do for another. The blue costume doesn't change the man's moral standard. It doesn't make him stronger than you or I. It does make him identifiable to me as a person who can harass me on a whim. But it doesn't justify such an action.

I'm sharing this with you because, in my opinion, it's the wall between us in this debate. It's a fundamental difference in the definition of morality and no debate can be productive if definitions can't be agreed upon. Rather, we just become two television sets pointed at one another.

I do want to address one specific comment you've repeated, though...

"And you still didn't answer the question. What would you do about Saddam Hussein? What is the solution then?"

I would attempt to take him hostage and if unavoidable, I would kill him. But only him. And only if I knew that no one under his control were capable of doing so. In such a case, that action would be third party defense of an ongoing act of aggression. I eluded to the fact that there are other ways to approach the situation but to be sure, I didn't make it clear and I apologize.

Also...

"A better point is that I simply don't understand how an anarchist system could work. Maybe it's because I'm not educated enough on it, granted."

Indeed. But there's no harm in not understanding something... especially when you have been raised your entire life in an environment that frowns on free thought. I was raised in a family where the child must obey the parent, regardless of how arbitrary or inconsistent the demands. I suspect you were too, as virtually all human beings have been for centuries. In fact, the hierarchical and coercive nature of the family is so firmly ingrained in us that it's almost an easy assumption that we're genetically predisposed to blind obedience. But we aren't. On the contrary, we're born with an innate desire to be free of coercion.

Once we achieve self awareness, life becomes a fantastic journey of learning about the self and our surroundings. And once we learn to manipulate objects, our favorite words become no and mine. Of course they do, because we don't want to be controlled and we want to keep that which we possess as our property. But left to our own devises, we also learn to share and we have a desire to help others. Have you ever seen a baby hand something to an adult an just look at them? How about a toddler who attempts to sweep the floor? Those children are practicing empathy, reciprocation and sharing. And those are the ingredients for adult charity, compassion and tolerance.

Sadly, those traits are all too often and all to severely hampered and even destroyed through the use of coercion. Most parents don't respect their child's right to his own property, while demanding that the child not touch theirs. Most parents demand respect, even when they've not earned it. All too often, a parent will "teach" his child not to hit others by hitting the child. This may stop the child's immediate behavior but the long term lesson is that if you're larger and stronger, you can hit others. More commonly known as might makes right. Another "lesson" parents often pride themselves in is teaching their kids to deny their own emotions and needs while in public. Aka, kids should be seen and not heard. In their zeal to avoid having their children inconvenience store clerks or, perhaps, embarrass them in public, these parents are actually teaching the kids that their needs and desires are less important than those of complete strangers.

When the children are older they're herded, segregated by age or gender, into rooms in large, often prison like buildings and are told to sit silently. They're then forced, through rote memorization, to learn conclusions and insignificant names and dates... most of which are related to rulers of their nation state. They must beg permission to move their bowels or urinate and in a lot of cases, they're forced to painfully delay those bodily functions until such a time that their needs don't inconvenience the adults.

Most of them eventually concede that their lives are resigned to a daily ritual of blindly obeying the whims of adults and thus conclude that their empathic nature, their thirst for knowledge and their sense of self worth are nothing more than useless efforts which cause far more pain than pleasure. And through splitting, projection and leveling, their subconscious medicates them into a state of apathy which allows them to cope with their plight. And then they become adults and repeat the entire process on their progeny.

It all starts with the hierarchy of the family. And usually, the hierarchy of religion in congruity. Then it moves to the school. And by the time the child becomes and adult and leaves the school, the violent and coercive environment that is the nation state has long since become the water the fish swim in.

But once in a while, some asshole comes along and points out the water. And then, most of the fish brandish their pitch forks and make chase. Beat_stick

And also once in a while, there is a fish who is courageous enough to stop, put down the pitch fork and say, tell me more about this water... Consider

A biker's bar...awesome Tongue. As for my day, it's been rather boring. Had my hair cut...against my will. I'm 17 yet my mum thinks she owns my hair ;l. (I just realised this may even relate to your point about family hierarchy though I'm sure this event is quite harmless xD).

I have far too many books to read; I have a stack of them I've bought over the past couple of years. At least I can be assured my reading list is going to be filled for a while.

I understand your point about governments. The policeman analogy was a very good one...though I just thought of one thing. Let's say someone is being stalked, or harassed, or abused in secret. There can't be a Good Samaritan here, nobody to chase the mugger. However, police and other government services provide help and relief for those in distress in these situations. So I think there is still something to be said for services, and I think it's difficult to provide such important services without a state.

And yes, governments may just be group of people. But in a fair democracy (hard though they are to come by) they are a group of people chosen by everyone else, and are responsible to their electorate and voters. So I think government isn't just taking power away from the people; it is giving power to them in a practical way. It also, as I said, provides important services which would be difficult to provide without a state.

Of course, I realize governments and policemen abuse their power. But they are, once more, responsible for these things; naturally there was disgust at the torture scandal, naturally corrupt politicians and policemen are fired and disciplined.

However, I think the debate here is indeed moot. It's just a difference in morality and definition, so we could go back and forth forever but we'd be saying the same thing at this point.

As for Saddam Hussein, that is a good solution. Though getting into a high security country to hunt down a man who commands an entire nation and has an army and has no qualms about doing anything to anyone who goes against him is perhaps a slightly difficult thing to do. I agree though that it would have been a nice solution. However, the faithful would still have torn the country apart. In the end, maybe there was no truly good outcome of any course of action in this situation.

Your explanation though of hierarchy actually got quite close to me...I remember, little over a year ago, being terrified (and I mean really quite scared) of a teacher at my school. I'd never done anything wrong and was, without being arrogant, one of her best students. Yet she was a terrifying woman when angry. You just didn't want to be on the receiving end. And, yet, she was a really good teacher too in many ways; despite this latter claim though, I'm glad I don't have to suffer that class anymore. This sounds incredibly stupid and childish now, not to mention, embarrassing. Haha.

On the other hand, I also experienced a very good experience in school. My history teacher for most of my time was a great guy, funny and a good teacher. I had one awkward experience with him though; a few years ago, I took the God Delusion into the church service being held in our assembly hall. It was a pretty stupid protest, I now realise, and I look back on it with a cringe. (I had, though, done the same once before and got a response from the maths teachers consisting of laughter for the most part.) However, my history teacher took the book off me, not knowing the title, and then discussed it with me after. He was an atheist and all, but felt that this wasn't necessary etc etc etc. So though I think it was incredibly stupid and a very bad, embarrassing protest in many ways I still got annoyed at him. Apparently, though, he's recounted it to his new history class and talks about me as if I have a cause apparently. So at least, despite leaving school, I'm not forgotten xD.

I veered off topic there, but my point was that I empathise entirely with your criticism of hierarchy. However, it doesn't mean that teachers and schools and education and family can't be liberating and good for life. But now I feel slightly as if I've been living somewhat dogmatically in this respect. So you've changed me there. I'll try not to be so prone to hierarchical obedience in the future (though I would say I'm quite able to hold my own against family at any rate Tongue).

Finally, a quick question. Which in your opinion is the worst hierarchy? The state, religion, family, school? I have a feeling you'll say the state or religion (perhaps the state given the nature of our discussion) but I'm interested nonetheless.

"Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence."

-Christoper Hitchens, "Letters to a Young Contrarian."
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15-04-2013, 08:49 PM
RE: Is there an introduction?
(15-04-2013 10:34 AM)TheAmazingAustralopithecus Wrote:  A biker's bar...awesome Tongue. As for my day, it's been rather boring. Had my hair cut...against my will. I'm 17 yet my mum thinks she owns my hair ;l. (I just realised this may even relate to your point about family hierarchy though I'm sure this event is quite harmless xD).

I have far too many books to read; I have a stack of them I've bought over the past couple of years. At least I can be assured my reading list is going to be filled for a while.

I understand your point about governments. The policeman analogy was a very good one...though I just thought of one thing. Let's say someone is being stalked, or harassed, or abused in secret. There can't be a Good Samaritan here, nobody to chase the mugger. However, police and other government services provide help and relief for those in distress in these situations. So I think there is still something to be said for services, and I think it's difficult to provide such important services without a state.

And yes, governments may just be group of people. But in a fair democracy (hard though they are to come by) they are a group of people chosen by everyone else, and are responsible to their electorate and voters. So I think government isn't just taking power away from the people; it is giving power to them in a practical way. It also, as I said, provides important services which would be difficult to provide without a state.

Of course, I realize governments and policemen abuse their power. But they are, once more, responsible for these things; naturally there was disgust at the torture scandal, naturally corrupt politicians and policemen are fired and disciplined.

However, I think the debate here is indeed moot. It's just a difference in morality and definition, so we could go back and forth forever but we'd be saying the same thing at this point.

As for Saddam Hussein, that is a good solution. Though getting into a high security country to hunt down a man who commands an entire nation and has an army and has no qualms about doing anything to anyone who goes against him is perhaps a slightly difficult thing to do. I agree though that it would have been a nice solution. However, the faithful would still have torn the country apart. In the end, maybe there was no truly good outcome of any course of action in this situation.

Your explanation though of hierarchy actually got quite close to me...I remember, little over a year ago, being terrified (and I mean really quite scared) of a teacher at my school. I'd never done anything wrong and was, without being arrogant, one of her best students. Yet she was a terrifying woman when angry. You just didn't want to be on the receiving end. And, yet, she was a really good teacher too in many ways; despite this latter claim though, I'm glad I don't have to suffer that class anymore. This sounds incredibly stupid and childish now, not to mention, embarrassing. Haha.

On the other hand, I also experienced a very good experience in school. My history teacher for most of my time was a great guy, funny and a good teacher. I had one awkward experience with him though; a few years ago, I took the God Delusion into the church service being held in our assembly hall. It was a pretty stupid protest, I now realise, and I look back on it with a cringe. (I had, though, done the same once before and got a response from the maths teachers consisting of laughter for the most part.) However, my history teacher took the book off me, not knowing the title, and then discussed it with me after. He was an atheist and all, but felt that this wasn't necessary etc etc etc. So though I think it was incredibly stupid and a very bad, embarrassing protest in many ways I still got annoyed at him. Apparently, though, he's recounted it to his new history class and talks about me as if I have a cause apparently. So at least, despite leaving school, I'm not forgotten xD.

I veered off topic there, but my point was that I empathise entirely with your criticism of hierarchy. However, it doesn't mean that teachers and schools and education and family can't be liberating and good for life. But now I feel slightly as if I've been living somewhat dogmatically in this respect. So you've changed me there. I'll try not to be so prone to hierarchical obedience in the future (though I would say I'm quite able to hold my own against family at any rate Tongue).

Finally, a quick question. Which in your opinion is the worst hierarchy? The state, religion, family, school? I have a feeling you'll say the state or religion (perhaps the state given the nature of our discussion) but I'm interested nonetheless.

What can I say? I'm a biker, so they won't let me in those fancy bars. Tongue

Just to touch on the body of your response, with regard to the solutions I provided that don't seem plausible to you. I understand that and frankly, I don't know what all the solutions are to all the problems we currently depend on government to solve. But what I do know is that there are a lot of people on this planet who specialize in knowing a hell of a lot more about all of those things than I'll ever know. And I know that corrupt politicians and cops very rarely ever lose their jobs when they harm others. True, they're supposed to but, they don't.

As for sharing your fears & follies at school, there's nothing at all stupid about that. Childish maybe, but then, where's the insult in being childish? Children sincere & honest, We teens and adults could take a very valuable lesson from them in that and a lot other respects. Instead, we tend to treat children like broken adults when in reality, we are broken children.

In answer to your question... the family. The family is where we learn subjugation to arbitrary authority. It's where we learn moral relativism. It's where we learn to use force and coercion against others.

Without the family, the others wouldn't exist. That's not to say that I'm anti family, either. The family is what breaks children but it doesn't have to be. It can be much better and to be sure, it has been getting better for as long as we can find evidence. And it will continue to get better, because each time someone decides to eliminate superstition, violence and coercion from their life, the children that person raises grow up not speaking the language of superstition, violence and coercion... and on and on it will go until the majority of people don't speak that language. And it's at that point, that governments and all other violent, hierarchical entities will simply be discarded.

The peaceful parenting movement has been around for about fifty years, so there aren't a lot of adults who have been raised without coercion now, but there was also a time when there were very few people who believed that slavery was immoral.

I don't want to burden you with more shit to read but if you're interested in the how and whys of what I mentioned above, lemme know. Smile

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. - Chinese Proverb
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