Imperialism and Hobbes

Yes, I am bringing up Hobbes again. Since we have decided to drop bombs on Syria (again) it seems apt to point out that Hobbes would blame us all for the deaths of innocents abroad. In fact, Hobbes would also blame the Syrians themselves for whatever their dictator did. Come to think of it, in the world of Hobbes there are no innocents.

Over the past couple of days I have seen people saying that Trump voters have blood on their hands, only to be told that they, as non-voters, also have blood on their hands.

Isn’t it great to live in a world where no matter what you believe or do, you are “responsible” for the deaths of thousands and millions?

Thank you, Hobbes, for planting in our heads this ridiculous idea that just because we are born in a certain geographic region under a certain tyrant we are somehow not only subject to his whims but responsible for his sins. Thanks for giving us this preposterous idea that tyranny is legitimate as long as it is passed down successively under a set of rules laid down two hundred years ago.

Advertisements

Eleven Years

Source

Today marks eleven years since the shooting at Virginia Tech. Eleven years since my alma mater was rocked by what was then the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

In the past eleven years we have witnessed many more of these types of incidents. We have continued to blame guns, we have continued to blame mental illness, we have continued to blame “the system”, we have continued to blame violent media. We have blamed everything we can think of. We want to know “why”. Why do these things happen?

There isn’t really a simple answer to why these horrible incidents occur. Humans are sinful, we find ways to commit more and more heinous sins. We have been killing each other throughout history. So why the sudden uptick?

Is there really a sudden uptick? Are we really killing people now at a rate higher than any other time in history? Or is it simply more taboo? Is it simply more obvious in an age of 24 hour news and political commentary?

Governments kill millions of people. They always have been in the business of killing. They spend billions of dollars procured (by force) to invent new and more horrific ways to kill people. They spend millions more in propaganda to dehumanize those they consider “enemies.”

With so much murder being promoted by the “leaders” of the world, is it any wonder that so many in the ranks of society are more than willing to kill others for their own reasons? After all, the politicians are supposed to represent us. Doesn’t their violence simply reflect the violence of those they represent? Could it be that their “leadership” creates a world where killing other humans is perfectly acceptable as long as one can create a justification for it?

Perhaps if we want to create a peaceful society where killing people is not an option for those who feel “bullied” or neglected by others we should start at the top and stop killing people for not being a part of our “team”.

If we want to stop the indiscriminate killing of students in our high schools or colleges we should probably stop the indiscriminate killing of those who just happen to live in areas of the world ruled by jerks our government doesn’t like.

I don’t mean to downplay or dishonor the lives of the 32 killed that day in 2007. Those were innocent individuals. They had no reason to die. They should be honored, as all life should be.

All life should be honored because all life is sacred. That honoring of life should start at the top of society and work its way down through the ranks. If the leaders of this world honored life, how much more would those under that leadership value it?

Stop blaming guns, mental illness, systems, or media, start looking at your “leaders” instead.

Anarchy and Hobbes

Since I have free time now, I’ve been able to go back and re-read some of the books that influenced my political thinking. One of these books is “The World’s Great Thinkers, Man and The State”. It’s a compilation of political thought from Hobbes to Marx.

The contribution of Hobbes to this compilation comes from the second part of his work Leviathan:“Of Commonwealth”. In this treatise, Hobbes lays down the foundation on which the State is formed. Basically he argues that in order to live peaceably, natural man must come together in covenant and give up their individual rights to a sovereign who rules as their representative.

He gives a long list of rights to this sovereign, most of which are not rights which individuals have. This begs the question: “How can the sovereign representative be conferred rights which the individual man does not possess?”

The individual does not possess the right to levy taxes on his neighbors to pay for a road or the defense of his personal property. He does not possess the right to censor by force his neighbor’s thoughts and beliefs. He does not have the right to put his neighbor to death simply for disagreeing with him. How does he transfer rights which he does not have to his representation? Surely that representative should be restricted to the same limitations as those whom he represents.

Hobbes argues that natural man is in a perpetual state of war, which necessitates the formation of bodies politic to “keep (men) in awe, and to direct their actions to the common benefit.” It seems to me that he essentially gives to the sovereign the freedom to act as an exaggerated natural man, using violence and war to institute the “will of the people”.

The formation of Commonwealths does not relieve man of the problem of war, it merely elevates war. War is perpetual in the Commonwealth, as the sovereign must use violence and coercion to keep “peace” among the subjects.

Even if the original covenant was made voluntarily, as Hobbes describes it, it surely cannot be binding to future generations of those who did not personally assent to be subject to the sovereign in power. Force must be initiated to keep those subjects in line, force which is not in the rights of individuals to use.

While I concur with Hobbes that natural man is prone to violence, I disagree with the premise that natural man should bind together to give another natural man or group of natural men the authority to wage war for them. It seems predictably dangerous to do so. Concentrating the violent tendencies of natural men into one central power does nothing to end war, it just makes war a regional thing instead of a local matter between individuals.

I believe that a better state of being exists when individuals retain their own rights. Even Hobbes understands that man will cooperate in order to better his position in life. There is no reason to believe man has to centralize power into the hands of one man or group of men. Man cooperates just fine without the use of coercion or warfare.

Anarchy is not lawlessness. It is simply a lack of centralized force. Anarchy does not plunge us back into warfare as Hobbes contends. It places us back into the position we were in prior to forming commonwealths, that is, a state in which we may voluntarily cooperate and form whatever agreements we wish with our fellow men, without coercion.

From my reading, Hobbes makes a better case for why we shouldn’t form commonwealths than for why we should support them.

Collectivism is Cancer

“Both ‘sides’ sucked.” – Caryn Ann Harlos

There is a cancer that is quite common to man. This cancer has plagued mankind since very shortly after we were removed from the Garden (or crawled out of the cesspool if you so prefer). This cancer goes by many names: communism, racism, nationalism, socialism, culturalism, tribalism, and so on. This cancer is collectivism. 

Google defines collectivism as: “the practice or principle of giving a group priority over each individual in it.” The nonsense going down in Charlottesville shows us two sides of the same collectivist coin. Both sides insist that their side is superior to the other side. Both sides are willing to resort to violence (aggression) against the other to gain dominance in the debate. 

“Us vs them” is a common theme in collectivism. “We” are superior to “them”, whatever or whomever “they” may be. Collectivists define themselves by their group’s characteristics, whether it be skin color, political ideology, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, or any number of easily or not-so-easily identifiable characteristics. 

Here’s a newsflash for all you Collectivists out there: your value as an individual is not determined by your outward or inward characteristics. Your value is not determined by your ideology or your sexuality, your color,  or your political party affiliation. Nothing you control determines your value. 

Collectivism (and its associated -isms) is a plague on this planet. We have forsaken the ideal that man is valuable because of his position in Creation. We have thrown off the concept of individual man made in God’s image and exchanged it with the belief that humanity is nothing more than an evolved super sludge from which some of “us” evolved more fully. 

Your value, dear Collectivists, comes from the One whose image you bear. Until you realize this, you will forever be fighting a pathetic battle against others who bear this same image. 

Of course, what gives the Collectivists most of their power is the belief that some people should have the monopoly of authority over others. The belief that aggression is the best way to keep people ordered and productive is vital to collectivism. The fact that we cling to things like democracy or oligarchy make the “Us” that we belong to very important. If we belong to the wrong collective we may end up on the wrong side of the gun. If an individual fails to identify with the right group (i.e. the one in power) he may find himself rounded up and thrown in prison, or worse. 

How does this relate to Charlottesville? Both sides suck. Both sides need to stop trying to get the upper hand on the other. Both sides need to stop valuing worthless characteristics and start seeing themselves and others as valuable individuals, worthy of dignity, respect, and rights. Both sides need to drop the “us vs them” tribal mentality that is keeping them locked into violent tendencies. 

End the cancer of collectivism. Start treating people like the individuals they are, respect them and love them. See them for what they are: individuals made in the image of God. 

Why I Am [Not] A Conservative [Anymore] Part 2

​Here’s the second part of “Why I Am a Conservative”, if you missed the first part you can find it here:

“Universal health care: what shall I say? It is a falsehood, anyone who lives in a socialist country, even our neighbors to the north, can tell you: universal health care is never universal. Yes, you may be guaranteed a spot on the list for a heart transplant, but you can also be guaranteed that your wealthy neighbor is more equal than you and is higher on that list. Socialism has never worked in the way liberals claim it does, there will always be elites, there will always be upper classes, there will always be powerful people; that is the way things work. The only way socialist governments have been able to assure complete equality is to assure that everyone is equally poor (except the leaders, they need more food, bigger houses, and fatter wallets to be able to rule). [conservatives are actually pretty good at keeping artificial wealth differences in place as well, though they are a bit more discreet about it] The best way to fix health care is to get the lawsuits out of the courts [actually no, people should have the right to sue negligent companies, judges should be sorting out the nonsense from the legitimate cases] , allow drug companies to develop their medicines without harsh outcries from the wacked out liberal animal cruelty people (hey, sewer rats have a far worse life) [here’s an idea, why not let companies make products that people want or need and let people decide on their own whether the benefits of said products outweigh the risks?] and let people have more of their hard earned money so they can afford to go to the doctor. [I. e. “taxation is theft”] 
I have no idea what they mean by “comprehensive family support policy” so I won’t touch that except to say that I believe the church is the best support for any family. [second best, behind extended family] Let the church do its job to help the needy and to help families stay together. Do not devalue marriage by placing “progressive” ideas such as homosexual marriage upon it. [actually, do not devalue marriage by allowing government to define it] Do not disrupt the family by allowing divorce to run rampant because the couple just couldn’t get along. Marriage is a binding contract, one that should not be taken lightly, it should not be as easy as it is to get out of it. [again, we let government define the terms of the marriage contract, why are we surprised that they can so loosely allow the breaking of the contract?] 

As for the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, I had to chuckle at this one. Liberals always want to keep the appearance of being the “dignity and worth” philosophy, and they are pretty good at securing rights for women and minorities, but they take these rights too far. Not to sound libertarian [LOL, oh old self, so worried], but I think liberals have violated the rule of “my rights extend as far as your nose”. Liberals have managed to beat bloody the rights of the unborn with their fight for women’s “rights.” Liberals have blackened the eyes of many well qualified whites when they decided that we should give extra value to a person’s skin color (but only if they are a minority). Liberals have broken far too many noses on their fight for “freedom.” I believe every human life is sacred and every human has immense worth and dignity (even my liberal adversaries), that is why I believe in protecting the right to life of the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled. When liberals stop supporting the killing of unborn children and the euthanization of people who are “not living a full life” they can talk to me about this subject, until then I am not going to believe that they think human life is worth something. [I actually still agree with all of that, but I was sounding libertarian LOL] 

Why am I a conservative? I am a conservative because I believe that values and morals do not change [yep], no matter how unpopular they are with the minority of people; I believe people need to work for their food [yep]; I believe health care is the responsibility of doctors, not big government [yep], and that frivolous lawsuits and the resulting insurance bills drive medical practitioners to set their fees sky high [nope, it’s actually the whole “insurance as third party payer” system that makes health care costs so high]; I believe that the family is the most basic unit of human existence and that we shouldn’t tamper with an institution which has worked out fine for thousands of years [yep] without “progressive” tampering (more on this subject later [don’t know what “later meant, I wasn’t blogging then]); and lastly I believe that every human being has worth and dignity and that we need to protect the fundamental right of every individual to be born and to live without fear of being extinguished for a perceived “suffering” or lack of contribution to society [Meh, I agree still, but how often are liberals actually executing people for not contributing? Hyperbole helps no cause.]. This is why I am a conservative, and whether or not the liberals win the courts [which wouldn’t matter in Ancapistan] and win over the Democratic party, I will always be a conservative [LOL] because my values and ideas don’t change with the passing of a breeze, my morals are not thrown out with my belief in equal freedom for all, and my God doesn’t change his mind when society tells Him to. [Preachy much, old self? My values haven’t changed, but I have since dug deeper into their logical conclusions and changed a great many of my views on social and political matters. Having picked apart many of those values I discovered many instances where my morality was not matching up with those values. Consistency is important in the realm of values and morals, and when the two are at odds or are even slightly off-kilter it is important that we act quickly and decisively to bring the two into harmony.]”

I hope you have enjoyed this little exercise as much as I have, go back and read the first part if you missed it. 

Where The NAP Began

the-non-aggression-principle.jpg

So now that I have given an introduction to the NAP and a description of how the NAP applies to Libertarianism I should probably explain where the NAP comes from. To what does the NAP owe its existence? Where did I come to the conclusion that aggression is wrong? It would seem logical to assume I just did, right? Everyone knows aggression is wrong, correct? You would be surprised.

To me, the NAP is nothing more than a restatement and expansion of the Golden Rule, which is a simplification of the Natural Law science of justice. I do not want others to aggress against me so I should not aggress against others. If I desire to be free from coercion, should I coerce others? Logically, no. By extension, should I hire another agent to aggress in my stead? I don’t wish others to do so against me, so why should I support any system which monopolizes such agency?

Natural Law is law derived from the observation of the natural universe. Our most basic observations are of our own person. If I observe that I have a preference for the preservation of my life, my liberty, and the protection of my property, it is probably a safe bet that my neighbors do as well. However, we also observe man’s destructive nature. Many will use man’s natural gravitation towards aggression and inborn sin nature to say that the NAP cannot be arrived at through Natural Law.

When interpreting our observations and discerning natural laws one should worry less about an observation of what is, one should instead think about what ought. Simply because natural man is aggressive does not then imply that men ought to be. Again, we arrive at the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule does not tell us how we do act in our sinful nature but rather how we should act. We should treat others how we want to be treated ourselves.

Logically, one who does not like to be aggressed against should not be in favor of committing acts of aggression himself. When living by the Golden Rule it is irrational to treat others in a way which one would not like to be treated. The fact that man is so apt to do so is highly compelling evidence that man is in fact depraved.

But if man is depraved, isn’t his faculty for reason depraved as well? Man should not be able to arrive at the NAP simply by observation of the universe around him. Romans 1 says that the minds of men are darkened and futile. Just as some Christians disagree that we can know God through nature apart from Scripture (Presuppositionalists), some will use Romans 1 to say we cannot arrive at the NAP simply by natural perception or by rational thought apart from Divine intervention. As in a previous post of mine, a basic reading of Romans 18-22 makes this argument mute.

“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”

Man observes nature and self and understands the existence of God, as well as His attributes and nature. He knows God and understands His attributes just by virtue of being created in the image of God and in being able to observe the creation around him. He knows before he suppresses, he is perfectly able to discern, he just chooses out of his depravity to suppress the knowledge.

If we believe God created nature, does it not make sense to believe that God’s law is visible in it? God did not hide His attributes or character when He created the universe. He made both evident to man by imparting knowledge directly into man, and by giving man the faculty to observe creation. We are doubly without excuse when we deny God or His attributes.

We can discern injustice and justice with our senses, even if we suppress and deny what we observe and act unjust ourselves. We can observe that it does not feel right or pleasant to be aggressed against. We can logically conclude through observation that others feel what we feel and if we are empathetic we will not aggress against them.

Man is perfectly capable of understanding God’s law revealed in nature and in the imprinted “image” of God upon the mind of man. Because of this, man is able to arrive at the NAP through logical reasoning about his observations of justice and injustice in relation to himself.

“But Natural Man has a futile mind.”

Yes, but only because in his sinfulness he suppresses his knowledge of the truth. In a sense even the most aggressive war-monger understands the Golden Rule deep down inside.

We do not believe in utter depravity when it comes to man’s moral ability to do “good” deeds, we only say that man is “totally depraved”. By degree, man is capable of doing “good” even if only for wrong reasons. God’s universal grace prevents mankind from falling into utter depravity and the chaos that would result. Because of this grace, man is capable of grasping some truth and is not utterly darkened in his perceptive capacity or his faculty of reason.

Thus, it makes sense that would could arrive at the Non-Aggression Principle simply by observing the universe around him. Between the imprinted Law of God on his heart and his observation of others, he could rationally conclude that man ought not aggress against man.

Of course, I would be lying if I said I arrived at the NAP by my own observation, the terminology didn’t exist in my mind as a child or young adult. I only knew it as the Golden Rule. In a way presuppositional apologists got this one right. I started with Scripture and validated the NAP. But as I have demonstrated, it is perfectly possible to embrace the NAP through other avenues. The best thing about scripture is that nature validates scripture.

What’s This About a NAP?

For about 2 years now I’ve labeled myself politically as an anarcho-capitalist.

Most folks have never heard that label. Prior to that I called myself a more familiar label: libertarian. Looking back now I get the impression that I didn’t really know what a libertarian was back then. I just thought a libertarian was someone who valued liberty, and valued it more than the average run of the mill conservative. It wasn’t until I learned about the non-aggression principle and its broad applications that I fully understood what a “libertarian” is.

So, what is the Non-Aggression Principle or NAP? How should it be applied to society? Why am I an anarcho-capitalist and not just a libertarian?

Murray Rothbard defined the NAP this way in his essay War, Peace, and the State:

“No one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.”

In short the Non-Aggression Principle holds that no initiation of force is morally legitimate unless it is in response to another’s initiation of aggression or force. Any act of violence which is not self-defensive is an act of aggression, and aggression is morally wrong. Any act of coercion is also morally wrong. No one may coerce another with violence or threats of violence and maintain good moral character.

This is not controversial to most people or at least it should not be. Many Christians ask “Where do you find the NAP in the Bible?” To them I answer: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

To me the NAP is essentially a restatement of these laws as “Do not initiate force against others who have not initiated force against you.” And “Love your neighbor as you love yourself by not committing violence against them.”

Even that seems reasonable to most decent people, so what’s the big deal?

The controversy of the Non-Aggression Principle becomes evident when it is taken to its logical conclusion and applied outside the sphere of individual interaction.

According to the NAP, all coercion is immoral. All non-defensive force is immoral. If those two statements are held to be true and they are taken to their logical conclusion, how can we tolerate an individual or an entity holding a monopoly on aggression? If the The State is nothing more than a coercive monopoly of aggression, how can we not rationally call for the abolition of the State? How can we support an entity whose entire purpose is to coerce society into following it?

Many answer these questions by assigning privileges and rights to the State that individuals do not have.

Is there some right or privilege inherent in the collective that the individual does not have? Do entities composed of individuals possess moral authority that the individuals do not? If the government derives its authority and power from the individuals under it can it have authority that the individuals themselves do not? More particularly, does it have the authority to aggress in violation of the NAP? Can government break moral axioms just because it is the State?

Leftists and Neoconservatives alike would have to say “yes” to those questions. If they disagree they would have to oppose the pre-emptive wars we are currently waging in the Middle East. They would have to oppose the violence inflicted on citizens through the theft known as taxation. They would have to oppose stringent regulations on the free market that aggress against the rights of producers and consumers. In order to support the State as it is, one has to assume the State has some higher moral authority than the individuals who give it its authority.

Old Right Conservatives and Libertarians would say “no” to the questions above. Old Right Conservatives more in foreign policy than elsewhere. Broad application of the NAP is what makes libertarianism different from other political ideologies. Within libertarianism, however, there is a great deal of infighting about just how far the NAP goes.

What makes a libertarian? In short, a libertarian is an individual who believes the Non-Aggression Principal to be axiomatic and strives to mold the political structure of society into a voluntaryist structure and not a coercive one.

Some who claim the libertarian mantle are nothing more than statists in practice. They want “freedom” but only at the point of a gun. These people are basically war-lords, concerned with protecting their own liberty and property, everyone else be damned. They have no problem with a monopolized entity of coercion as long as that entity is them.

Some neo-cons are notorious for calling themselves “libertarian” but neo-cons cannot hold to the NAP consistently. They may rightly oppose the aggression of the State against committers of victimless “crimes.” But when they also support the aggression of the State against foreign nations, not in self-defense, but as preemptive “security”, they violate the NAP and forfeit their privilege to use the label. Aggression is aggression, and it is all immoral under the Non-Aggression Principle. Fully realized, the NAP allows for no exceptions. Aggression of any sort is out. If we have to use the State to “enforce” freedom we are violating the NAP and are no longer worthy of the libertarian label.

There are also “libertarians” who are perfectly happy with the government extorting money to provide for the greater good. As long as government sticks to building roads and schooling children but stays out of the bedroom or the private lives of individuals, these people are perfectly content letting the State coercively take money from individuals to distribute it as it sees fit.

True libertarians fall into two camps, or somewhere between them. On one side you have the minarchists, those who believe in a small, limited government, given to the task of justice and defense. On the other you have anarchists, those who believe that no central authority is necessary for such things. What generally ties the two together is free-market capitalism. What distinguishes them has much to do with how they view the free markets ability to provide EVERYTHING as opposed to NEARLY everything.

I won’t insult minarchists and call them statists, but most of them have not taken the NAP to its rational conclusion. They still cling to the idea that one small entity needs to hold a monopoly on coercion in order to provide justice and defense. They still support the most coercive part of all societies.

While most minarchists I have met would like to uphold the NAP in all areas, most have never seen a private justice system or an effective private defense firm and for practical reasons believe some centralized entity must exist to provide them. They are pragmatists, which I can’t necessarily fault them for.

I however, am no pragmatist. I’ll cling to my principles even if no practical example of said principles exists. In order to maintain consistency, I will take the NAP to its logical conclusions, therefore, I am an anarchist. I believe the free market is capable of creatively providing all services and products known to man. It may be difficult to work out the logistics of some of these services (mostly because we are so used to them being monopolized) but it is certainly worth the effort if we are to be consistently moral people.

If all non-defensive force is immoral aggression, what should we do when an individual or an entity holds the monopoly on aggression? To me the answer is clear: we abolish that monopoly and replace it with a fully voluntary economic system. We become anarchists. This is the only consistent application of the NAP.