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Libertarian?
Posted by: Dale Franks on Sunday, July 08, 2007

Michael Gerson has an interesting take on libertarianism, and one that isn't unusual among traditional Republican conservatives. Writing in the Washington Post, he takes a look at the online virtual world game, Second Life.

He doesn't like Second Life life much, and apparently not libertarianism, either. In fact, he explains that Second Life shows how awful a libertarian world would be.
It is, in fact, a large-scale experiment in libertarianism. Its residents can do and be anything they wish. There are no binding forms of community, no responsibilities that aren't freely chosen and no lasting consequences of human actions. In Second Life, there is no human nature at all, just human choices.

And what do people choose? Well, there is some good live music, philanthropic fundraising, even a few virtual churches and synagogues. But the main result is the breakdown of inhibition. Second Life, as you'd expect, is highly sexualized in ways that have little to do with respect or romance. There are frequent outbreaks of terrorism, committed by online anarchists who interrupt events, assassinate speakers (who quickly reboot from the dead) and vandalize buildings. There are strip malls everywhere, pushing a relentless consumerism. And there seems to be an inordinate number of vampires, generally not a sign of community health.

Libertarians hold to a theory of "spontaneous order" — that society should be the product of uncoordinated human choices instead of human design. Well, Second Life has plenty of spontaneity, and not much genuine order. This experiment suggests that a world that is only a market is not a utopia. It more closely resembles a seedy, derelict carnival — the triumph of amusement and distraction over meaning and purpose.
The thing is, he invalidates his whole argument in the first quoted paragraph. In the real world, there are long-term consequences to your actions. In the real world there is human nature, not just human choices. The real world doesn't protect you from the results of bad decisions. You can't reset your character, or create a new account.

Indeed, second life is a fantasy. As such, it's meant to be a place to explore odd things; things you'd never do in real life because...well...bad things might happen.

This seems like a fairly basic consideration, yet it's one he ignores.

It seems to me that there's a certain kind of Republican that fears and/or despises libertarianism. I don't know why it is, other than an example of how some people are uncomfortable with the idea of Liberty. It's all so much easier when you can apply some external controls.

If you're the one doing the application, that is.
 
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While this has been mentioned by other folks at other blogs, I will note here that the fact that the game has vampires should tell folks something.
 
Written By: Grotius
URL: http://
Know what I hate about libertarianism? Dragon taming. Everyone starts taming dragons, then they start camping the spawn sites. Duping too. I hate when some libertarian has two divine swords of +7 smiting in his hands. This is why I could never vote for libertarianism here in the U.S.
 
Written By: FisherOfMen
URL: http://
I know exactly what you mean, Fisher. And don’t forget, libertarianism also encourages grinding. I mean, who wants to vote for a libertarian knowing full well that he won’t get much (if any) of the loot? I also hate when libertarians come around to grief raids and/or elections, ruining it for everyone.

Also, Mr. Gerson, the high percentage of libertarians within the vampire community is a well-documented fact. Speciesist hack.
 
Written By: Grisha
URL: http://
There is no one possible libertarian world. A libertarian world built on a culture of distrust and ethnic animosity could yield a horrible result where chaos would feed in on itself. A libertarian world built on a culture of mutual respect and a belief in individual rights for others as well as the self could yield a world absent most oppression, where people work together against those who would disrupt a moral order. I don’t think we have a culture that would support a positive libertarian order yet, meaning I see that as a goal to work towards, starting with cultural change, rather than something that could be implemented over night simply by disbanding huge parts of the government and "letting the market work." The thing many libertarians forget is what Edmund Burke noted at the time of the French revolution: tradition and culture shape politics more than law and reason. Libertarian political structures would need to be supported by a libertarian political culture.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The article is dumb, but the general distaste some have to libertarianism is a reaction to the very real concern that without some rules society will break down.
 
Written By: abw
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
More importantly, in real life, you aren’t likely to come upon a 7 story penis-house...
A libertarian world built on a culture of mutual respect and a belief in individual rights for others as well as the self
Remember, kids... He’s talking about how we hate all muslims because we have "issues" with the fact that some of them want to kill us. How we HAVE to love and respect and give special f*cking hugs to them, and it’ll all be OK!

Erb, you are continuing to be a f*cking tool. I thought we talked about this...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Scott, you’re being silly. First, you don’t seem to disagree with what I wrote. Good. The stuff about hating Muslims, "issues" or "special hugs" is all made up by you, none of that is close to anything I said or suggested. You seem emotional and angry, but you aren’t making any rational points. Perhaps you’re still smarting from how I showed that your claim "the most pessimistic evidence says that Anwar has more oil than the Mideast" was absurdly wrong. The fact you would state such a falsehood as fact and then use it to try to insult me says something about the credibility of your claims.

Learn to use your head not just react out of emotion. If you make a statement (like Anwar), check your facts — it’s really easy to do with net resources available (and know it’s really easy to check someone else’s claims for the same reason). If your posts are any indication, I suspect you’re very young. You’re reacting without thinking. I think you can do better.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The article is dumb, but the general distaste some have to libertarianism is a reaction to the very real concern that without some rules society will break down.
That’s anarchy, not libertarianism. The term "limited government" doesn’t mean a necessary lack of government or rules.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Here at the Heinlein conference in KC, MO, anarchism is being generally held out as a subset of libertarianism, and there are several advocates present. Every single one of them fails to deal with the simple fact that 99.999999% of the human race are capable of being *ssh*les on any given day. (And yes Erb, some of us including me manage a higher number of days.) And also that without some method of checking them the system falls apart. The only proven methods involve a credible threat of violence to *ssholes (Team America call your office).

Unless we evolve a better human (and such evolution involves culling), or Christ comes back, this will be the reality. Deal with it.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
But it does seem that the "neo-libertarianism" of this blog really has become more like conservatism. The criticism of politicians focuses on the left, and when Bush is criticized, it’s over something like immigration (along with the talk radio and right wing punditry). Libertarians are usually for open borders, usually against war (they see a big military as inherently dangerous, and don’t trust government to weild a big military any more than a big welfare state). I’m not sure I’m seeing the difference between "neo-libertarianism" and mainstream conservatism, except for on social issues.

I also note that I’ve agreed with the opinions put in this blog a lot when it veers away from foreign affairs (where I’m arguably more traditional libertarian). Even when we disagree on global warming, I’m actually in agreement that government regulation is not an effective response. But to simply deny the problem seems a cheap way out. A tough question for libertarians is: IF humans are causing global warming in a significant way, THEN would it be right to have draconian governmental measures? It’s taking the easy way when you scour for claims of dissent and then parade that as truth, while denegrating the view of the vast majority of the scientific community as being akin to a religion. That’s avoiding the hard issue by simply pretending it cannot exist. So McQ, are you libertarian? Am I more libertarian than you? Why do you trust big government with a big military more than with a big social welfare system (I trust neither).

SDN: I have more faith in human nature than you do; I think our culture is still emerging from the violent pre-history of human kind. It’ll take generations, but something more close to anarchy will ultimately emerge (I suspect a kind of voluntaristic set of governmental choices). No time soon though — but the work now is to build that kind of culture, and I see a lot of our policies and choices now as preventing that.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Great science there by the author. He uses an online role-playing game community as a sample group and wrests their in-game behavior into an argument against Libertarianism. What’s next for him...using the Day of Defeat: Source community’s actions to rail in favor of gun control?

BTW, Day of Defeat: Source is an awesome game.
 
Written By: Joab
URL: http://joabsblog.blogspot.com
That’s anarchy, not libertarianism. The term "limited government" doesn’t mean a necessary lack of government or rules.
Limited to what, then?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Some libertarians are anarchists of course.
 
Written By: Grotius
URL: http://
The criticism of politicians focuses on the left, and when Bush is criticized, it’s over something like immigration (along with the talk radio and right wing punditry)
Erb, a simple search of QandO archives destroys this point completely.

As far as immigration, you once again ignore the fact that public opposition to this immigration bill was equally distributed among self-proclaimed liberals, conservatives, and independents.

Erb...wrong on the facts again...who would’ve believed it possible?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Some libertarians are anarchists of course.
Uh, no ... they’re anarchists.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Limited to what, then?
Protecting citizen’s individual rights from violation by force or fraud. Libertarians believe in a "night watchman" sort of government. Certainly not the "Santa Claus" form embodied by the welfare state.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Protecting citizen’s individual rights from violation by force or fraud. Libertarians believe in a "night watchman" sort of government. Certainly not the "Santa Claus" form embodied by the welfare state.
This also means as small a military as possible to still protect the homeland from foreign attack, and no aggressive military action against other states. America’s foreign policy is contrary to libertarian principles of limited, small, government.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb...go read the archives. It’s been discussed. Quit hijacking the thread.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
JWG: "It’s been discussed." So? Running from unpleasant truths?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Yeah...you nailed me. I’ll go hang my head in shame for not being an Erb-defined libertarian.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Not at all. I’m just noting that this blog sounds more "conservative" than "libertarian," and I really have a hard time understanding not only the apparent lack of concern about big government with the military, but the vitriol against those who have a more traditional libertarian view on the matter. It’s not enough to say "read the archives," there are over 6000 articles and loads of comments. I think a lot of people who have started reading in the recent past may have similar thoughts. What a libertarian is, is an interesting question.

In political science literature there are left libertarians, market libertarians (often called capitalist libertarian, but a market libertarian economist I know has told me that ’market’ is the better term), civil libertarians, and anarchist libertarians. I guess there are also neo-libertarians, though I’m not sure what exactly that means. My best guess would be that an over-reaction to 9-11 and fear of what might be done to America has led some to rationalize abandoning a core principle. It also seems that most so-called neo-libertarians also had pro-military perspectives pre-9-11. Oh well, it’s clear you’d rather not discuss that, so carry on.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I guess there are also neo-libertarians, though I’m not sure what exactly that means
Golly Gee...a smart professor-type like yourself can’t find anything describing "neo-libertarians" on a neo-libertarian website?

That’s embarrassing.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I really have a hard time understanding not only the apparent lack of concern about big government with the military,
Perhaps that’s because you’re having a great deal of difficulty understanding the constitution. They didn’t get one year students to look it up for you, but I think you’ll find if you spend any amount of time at it that defense is one of the very few constitutionally mandated expenditures of government.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Bithead, your point is irrelevant to the question about why so-called neo-libertarians seem to abandon the traditional libertarian principle about military and foreign policy.

JWG: The title of the website is just a title, and there appears to be no concise explanation (though if you could point me to one, I’d appreciate it). I don’t have time to go searching archives or anything like that. Also, an archival discussion isn’t helpful since the questions and approaches may be different than mine. Real discussion is better. But if no one wants to, that’s fine.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Bithead, your point is irrelevant to the question about why so-called neo-libertarians seem to abandon the traditional libertarian principle about military and foreign policy.
The "traditional libertarian principle about military and foreign policy" is essentially isolationism, whose shortcomings were amply demonstrated on 7 December, 1941.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
The title of the website is just a title
You can’t type "Neolibertarianism" in the QandO search field?

You can’t click on the big "The Neolibertarian Network" logo on the main page?

Pathetic as usual.

(BTW: Erb is just trying to bait someone into allowing him to present himself as "more libertarian" than everyone else. Of course that ignores Erb’s many non-libertarian positions, but that is how Erb operates.)
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I would agree, since Second Life is at it’s heart a simulation, much of the behavior described are people role playing.

There is plenty of reference material about what neolibertariansim is, as well as what libertarianism is. Now, just because it’s been discussed before, doesn’t mean people have to be thread-nazis. Politely pointing someone in the right direction doesn’t take that much effort...

http://www.neolibertarian.net/articles/neolibertarianism.aspx
Why so-called neo-libertarians seem to abandon the traditional libertarian principle about military and foreign policy.
Primarily because America’s interests don’t stop at the waters edge, and in order to promote free markets, and individual liberty abroad, it is often necessary to remove the local impediments to such growth. Regime change can be accomplished in many ways, military means is only one such avenue.

The primary aspects of neo-libertarianism is pragmatism, and the realization that in order to accomplish change in government, compromise is needed.
 
Written By: keith_indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Primarily because America’s interests don’t stop at the waters edge, and in order to promote free markets, and individual liberty abroad, it is often necessary to remove the local impediments to such growth. Regime change can be accomplished in many ways, military means is only one such avenue.

The primary aspects of neo-libertarianism is pragmatism, and the realization that in order to accomplish change in government, compromise is needed.
The danger is if libertarian ideals morph into a kind of imperialism: "We know what’s best for you, we’ll change your regime and put you on the right track." But the "we" there is a big government. That would be the essence of being a "nanny state" — we’ll look out for the other people on the planet and use force to give them the "proper" government (one that fits our ideas of what is right)?

I’d prefer to slowly support indigenous change and not go down the path of using force to try to create change from the outside since I suspect that will not only fail a majority of the time, but also inspire anger against that outside force. Also, historically changing regimes often alters little if there isn’t a cultural change, or if the new regime isn’t built on a culture that supports it. Thus regime change has to be at pace with societal change to really be effective. So while I agree with the end desired result, my pragmatism would cause me to say "the world changes slowly, let’s assist more by being a good example and using positive incentives." Force I’d keep for defense against direct military threats.

Dale, I disagree that 1941 shows the short comings of isolationism. We were able to quickly respond and win that war; the countries involved from the start or who in defining their interests decided aggression was necessary against potential threats are the ones whose policies failed. There is a lot to criticize about interwar policy, but I don’t think lack of military interventionism is one (most criticisms would be of economic policy, and really for Europe of the way the other Europeans treated Germany).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Nanny Empire" would be a more appropriate tag line for the danger you describe. And it’s not anything anyone here is likely to back. I certainly don’t.

Many people automatically take military power off the table when talking about foreign policy. That is what pragmatists ought to avoid. The military is a tool, just as diplomacy, finance, aid, etc, are tools of foreign policy. What people want to accomplish is the more important subject.

I want to see a world where most people are relatively free and prosperous. I do believe that is best accomplished through free markets. But, there are already a number of failed or failing states where the best of the few options remaining seems to be to replace the current regime, through force if necessary.

This can best be accomplished through international cooperation, on all levels, military, diplomatic, economic, and private sector. The goal should be to get as many other countries on as possible, for whatever task needs to be accomplished. Of course, that means treating other countries as equals in some respects.

Most of the time, we are not going to and should not use military force to try and accomplish change. However, that’s not to say the military doesn’t have a role in the changes needed in the world to make it a better place.

The military does a whole host of operations where force is secondary or tertiary to the mission. For example, disaster relief (ex. tsunami relief,) indigenous force training and support that we’ve done and are doing in the Africa and SE Asia/Pacific regions. In those instances violence is usually only authorized for force protection. Then we have situations like the Sudan. Sure it would be great had we previously been putting more pressure on them, but it is what it is. Now, one of the few options is military force to protect the innocent. Doesn’t mean we should just go for the whole enchilada, and swing a protection mission into a regime change mission.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
In general I agree with where you’re coming from, Keith, though I truly believe that in most third world states the answer has to be internal rather than coming from the outside. The way the world economy operates, you end up with dependent relations (and dependency on aid and first world financing is just as debilitating to countries as dependency on welfare programs for individuals — it often just greases the wheels of corruption). So I’m for "doing more by doing less" — trying not so much to solve the problems but create conditions where other states (leaders) will have to choose based on real consequences.

As for the role of the military, I agree in most respects. But have you seen Control Room? Whatever you might think about Al jeezera or that film, I think it highlights a point Americans often miss: when we use military action, even for the highest purposes, it creates an intense counter reaction of anger and mistrust. Not only that, but that reaction now has a voice in the media, that’s part of our modern world. That’s the problem with this kind of military action, we don’t fully comprehend what the other side experiences. The military spokesman shown the film, Josh Rushing, captured it best when he noted that he had been repulsed by images shown of dead Americans, but bothered by the fact he had not had such an emotional reaction the night before when seeing images of dead Iraqi civilians (he saw both on al jeezera). We really don’t realize how the bombing of cities and killing of civilians is as powerful a motivation of anger towards America as, say, the 9-11 attacks motivated Americans to hate al qaeda. I know that these are wholly different things, but the emotions it raises are similar. Thus military action needs to be a last resort, and probably only when there is a direct threat or in the kind of secondary and tertiary roles you describe. I think that’s a lesson we’re learning in Iraq.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
though I truly believe that in most third world states the answer has to be internal rather than coming from the outside.
How about when internal dissent is practically begging for intervention, such as Zimbabwe

Aid can come in primarily 2 forms, relief for immediate needs, and development/investment to enhance security and economic conditions. I think the primary focus in the press has been on relief. That sort of aid certainly does generate a dependency, and gives tyrants a life-line which allows them to continue to exist.

North Korea for example. Would that regime be able to stay in power if it weren’t for all the food aid (and now energy aid) it receives. Shouldn’t a regime that has the resources to develop a nuclear weapons program be able to feed its own countrymen?

Which is more cruel and heartless, continue supporting the regime by continuing to allow it to get around the bad decisions its made by giving the country aid, intervening militarily to topple the regime, or stopping the aid and blockading any external shipments of any weapons?

There’s no easy answer to that. They may have the capacity to reach out and smack the west coast with a nuke. They also have the capacity for a short glorious war with the South. Starve the people, and they still don’t have the resources to overthrow the regime from within (although once the Army stops getting fed, that would change.) Feed them, and the regime has no impetus to change what its doing.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
"That’s anarchy, not libertarianism."
No, Bruce: that’s chaos.

Categorical difference.

I’m an anarchist, and you know damned well that I’m not interested in anything like "no rules".

"SDN" —
"...simple fact that 99.999999% of the human race are capable of being *ssh*les on any given day. (And yes Erb, some of us including me manage a higher number of days.) And also that without some method of checking them the system falls apart."
That "simple fact" is manifest every single day even while America has come to the most extensive practice of "law & order" it all its history.

Look around you and tell me how it’s working out.

Meanwhile: not one of you have come up with a single morally probative reason why people who are not the types who make you shiver in your boots should be forced to put up with what you advocate. But your first impulse is to run home to GovCo.

Judy-boys.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
But your first impulse is to run home to GovCo.
Be fair Billy. If we don’t, GovCo will shoot us, babies, bunnies, and all.

It sure sucks to stand up when too few others do.

Yours, TPD, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"It sure sucks to stand up when too few others do."
Virtue, sir, is its very own reward.

I am only more convinced as the years roll by.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
What the heck is a "judy boy"?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
McQ,

Well, you are just going to have to argue with those libertarians who also call themselves anarchists. I’m not going to engage in logomachy myself.
 
Written By: Grotius
URL: http://
"Virtue, sir, is its very own reward."
My tombstone may be a good example to my children, but I do not think it would be full and sufficient

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Billy, I’ll simply state that I’ve never seen an "anarchist" system that didn’t have as a prerequisite the killing off of 90% of the world’s population, because above that level there’s not a contract enforcement mechanism available. Sorry, no sale.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
SDN: Here’s the problem: anarchy works quite well in small societies, including tribes and extended clans. Usually order and rule (and anarchy is not absent order or rules) are "enforced" not by government, but by custom, ritual, and shared socialized values. Two problems emerged with the devleopment of advanced civiliation:

1. People rebelled against the constraints of tradition/custom, thinking rationally rather than following pre-existing shared norms; and
2. The state emerged, first as cities, then empires, and finally the modern nation-state, centralizing rule of a larger population with fewer personal bonds. Instead of tradition and custom enforcing social order, it was bureaucracy and elite rule.

My essential argument with anarchists like Billy is that they see the world rather how it should be — and likely somewhat like it will be one day — and are frustrated that for the present we are living in a flawed, imperfect, and oppressive, even dehumanizing world. Anarchists see the abuses of government, the limits on freedom, and the quenching of peoples’ ability to develop a natural order. They see governments creating unhealthy cultures of dependency where people don’t take responsibility for their own lives but rely on laws and government. That angers them, and in what seems to me a very sincere idealism, they want a rational, ethical, enlightened system NOW. They are enraged that so much human misery is being experienced because people either hold on to power, or in their opinion refuse to simply act to create a breakdown of the current order.

My argument to each of you: this is a process of cultural change. People aren’t bad, they are just self-interested. That self-interest is good. It’s good people are selfish because that forces them to take seriously the consequences of their actions — when there are consequences. But interests vary and get understood through the lenses of culture and society, connecting to past tradition and expressed through current governmental practices. Break that down completely and people won’t know how to react, and soon the powerful will again convince the weak that siding with them to create a state is the best option. That is where our culture is today. Get rid of government, and given current values, people will construct a new one. The key is slow, but real, cultural change — sometimes backsliding, sometimes relying on a crisis to provide an impetus for rather abrupt change.

I’ve made my peace with the time and place of my existence — at the pre-dawn of human history, as we slowly emerge from a bloody chaotic time as humans develop and use their powers of reason and thought. I also realize that humans think more from the gut than the head, we usually use our minds to rationalize that which we want to believe. That means change can’t be by simply making a better argument, people have to internalize ideals, they can’t just be convinced by arguments (most people, that is — truly educated folk should have the power to self-critique, that’s one of the most advanced abilities humans can have, if used properly).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Billy, I’ll simply state that I’ve never seen an ’anarchist’ system that didn’t have as a prerequisite the killing off of 90% of the world’s population..."
{shrug} All that means to me is that you haven’t paid attention.

Try this, for something introductory. The fact is that you’re living a great deal of it right now.

Erb: just shut up, idiot. You don’t know what you’re talking about, and very most especially when you try to describe my position, but, of course, individualist ontology just sails right over your head like a howitzer shot.

To the QandO principals: are you guys getting this creep? I don’t know why his pragmatism isn’t right down your alley.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I don’t know why his pragmatism isn’t right down your alley.

Because while it may be Pragmatic, it is not pragmatic—it will not work. His thoughts if put into practice will not have the effect he claims to desire, his beliefs will not be shown to be true in practice.

And then there’s the matter of when he wants some outcome which is not wanted by the majority.

He hasn’t got much going for himself.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Oops, too little coffee before. I just reread your post Billy, and I’m certainly not a principle at Q&O.

’Doubt if I’m far off in response to your Q though.

TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I don’t know why his pragmatism isn’t right down your alley.
An example of pragmatism from An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina, p. 204

"I could quietly flip evil’s assets against itself. What happened at the Mille Collines was the most extreme form of pragmatism. We would go to any length and do wahtever it took to save as many lives as possible. That was the basic ideology. That was the only ideology. There was nothing particularly special about this — it only seemed like the normal thing to do. I looked into the abyss during the genocide and the abyss looked back, and we were able to reach a comrpomise that was actually no comprise at all. The swimming pool in which babies might have been drowned was turned into a village well. Policemen who might have been directing death squads were instead posted at my front gate to help me keep out the killers...I remember reading this in the Bible when I was a young man, ’What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.’ Our time here on the earth is short, and our chance to make a difference is tiny. For me the grinding blocks of history came together in a such a way that I was able to take what fragile defense I had and hold it in place for 76 days."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Because while it may be Pragmatic, it is not pragmatic ...
A little point of order here ... the pragmatism we talk about doesn’t include compromise of principle, it includes doing what we can to advance liberty. IOW working libertarianism v. ivory tower libertarianism.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
A little point of order here ... the pragmatism we talk about doesn’t include compromise of principle, it includes doing what we can to advance liberty. IOW working libertarianism v. ivory tower libertarianism.
I think you define your principles so vaguely that you can interpret anything as not compromising them — such as support for a big military, call for increased enforcement on the borders, and other embraces of governmental power. It is by definition a pragmatic compromise on principle in order to deal with existing circumstances. Billy doesn’t believe in compromising his principles and apparently tries not to. I think it’s necessary to compromise principles, and am honest about it. You think it’s necessary to compromise principles, but you don’t want to admit it.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Keith, I understanda your points on Zimbabwe, North Korea, etc. I think deterrence works so I’m not worried about a North Korean nuke, and especially not an attack on the south (absent some kind of provocation). But I think that when we use military force to topple such regimes we would also be killing a lot of people and causing a lot of destruction which would create a myriad of dangerous and unintended consequences.

On issues like this I like to jump to the hardest case scenario. Let’s take Rwanda. Gen. Dallaire is convinced that UN action ahead of time would have stopped the slaughter before it started. He was not allowed to act (and his action would have been essentially to capture caches of weapons and machetes.) When the genocide started the UN cut its force level to 300, and based on demands by the US and the other security council members, simply refused to get involved. The Clinton administration showed it’s desire to parse words early on by arguing that "genocide" was not occuring even though "acts of genocide may" have occurred. Surely this is a no-brainer — and if military intervention is necessary here (Dallaire thought even a force of 5,000 might be able to stop it, most of the perpetrators were under 18 and armed with machetes — he saw one UN soldier firing into the air often stop a large band of youths. If this warrants intervention, then it’s a matter of figuring out where the risks of military intervention are outweighed by the cost of not intervening.

Yet that calculation is difficult since one can often posit costs of not intervening which are not there, or enhance/diminish a calculation of the risks involved. The only way I see this as being legitimate is if there is some kind of international agreement and burden sharing to assure that the public will see it through, and the choice has international acceptance. The only body which can do this is the UN Security Council. And while some knee jerk denigrate the UN because of what the General Assembly does (states on human rights committees with bad records, etc.), the Security Council is a separate institution with the ability to enforce international law. Rather than undercut the Security Council like we did in 2002, we need to strengthen it. Ironically, I think George H.W. Bush had the right idea, but actions in Kosovo and Iraq have made that harder to achieve. Otherwise, I think we’ll see more of the same: inaction most of the time when atrocities occur, and then action that is based more on the US choosing to, and then hoping it is quick enough so public opinion doesn’t change.

Two difficult jobs: 1) creating agreement in the security council for a pro-active approach to address regimes committing atrocities; and 2) a means for burden sharing that is fair (military personnel, cost, etc.)

As for Zimbabwe and North Korea, I do not think it is worth the risk for a humanitarian intervention in either of those two states at this time. However, giving aid is an issue that I’m uncertain about — yes, it feeds people, but it also enables the regime. But aid to get them to allow inspectors to shut down and watch their nuclear capacity might be worth it. Tough issues, but realistically we are going to see a lot of suffering on the planet for the foreseeable future, most of it caused by governments. The temptation to go in militarily and fix it, or look for something to change things quickly is great. I just don’t think the world works that way most of the time. Still, something’s got to give. The sovereign state is becoming obsolete and problems transcend borders and traditional modes of action. But we don’t know what will come next, or what should. Transitions like this are often bloody and full of surprises. We live in interesting times.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"A little point of order here ... the pragmatism we talk about doesn’t include compromise of principle, it includes doing what we can to advance liberty."
How?

The Stopped-Clock is right about you, Bruce.

I love ya, brother-man, but you’re not facing what you’re shoveling.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Two difficult jobs: 1) creating agreement in the security council for a pro-active approach to address regimes committing atrocities; and 2) a means for burden sharing that is fair (military personnel, cost, etc.)
I think an option for both of these is to increase the size of the security council. Say, the 5 permanent members, plus the top 15 economies, plus 5 representatives from the rest, with no duplicates.

Any of the 5 permanent members could veto a resolution, but 3 of the permanent, plus a majority of the others could over-ride the veto.

And, anyone voting for a resolution would have to support it materially, either through money, troops, or other support.

The sovereign state is becoming obsolete and problems transcend borders and traditional modes of action. But we don’t know what will come next, or what should. Transitions like this are often bloody and full of surprises. We live in interesting times.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve latched onto Barnett. He at least tries to present a strategy for dealing with the problems, in a co-operative fashion.

I think in the long run, tying relief aid to regime reforms is the way to go. It isn’t quick, and it isn’t perfect, but it offers the least amount of disruption.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
How?

The Stopped-Clock is right about you, Bruce.

I love ya, brother-man, but you’re not facing what you’re shoveling.
You need to read up Billy ... I’ve pointed you toward it before, but I can’t make you read it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I know the whole drill, Bruce. I always have, and you know that I know it.

When it comes to you mate, I don’t have any resort but history. You’re goddamned wrong, and only time is going to demonstrate this. You’re also fortunate, I think: however long a life I might wish you, I don’t think it would be long enough at this point that you would live to see what I’m talking about.

And you won’t live long enough that your descendents will be able to look you in the eye and ask you man-to-man why this was all you did.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I know the whole drill, Bruce. I always have, and you know that I know it.
No you don’t Billy ... not if you don’t know the answer to your question.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Hmmm, interesting idea. My class today was actually taking up this issue — their idea was to create an international military force designed for doing things like stopping atrocities. They wanted to cut governments out of it and have it be all volunteer, with a requirement that states allow their military members to choose this service. Then it would be like a reserve unit, called up when necessary (we have an Iraq vet in class who helped fill in the military details). Of course it is politically impossible now, but creative. They also speculated about creating an NGO designed for humanitarian enforcement, but I pointed out that unless it was tied to some kind of decision making body with legitimacy it could turn into a vigilante group. I don’t think they came up with anything feasible now, but it was interesting how quickly they were ready to try to circumvent states in some way — the coming generation is starting to take a more post-sovereign view of world affairs, with a lot of cynicism of both governments and IGOs like the UN. As for your idea, it may work...but you’d need to get the five current security council members on board since they can veto any change to the security council.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Bruce? We’ve been all over this face to face.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Bruce? We’ve been all over this face to face.
Yeah.

That’s my point.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well, then, I don’t need advice to "read up", and I stand where that lap around the mulberry bush started.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Well, then, I don’t need advice to "read up", and I stand where that lap around the mulberry bush started.
You’re the one who asked "how", not me.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And you know that I know your arguments, Bruce. I don’t need to read up any more than you need to set them out again.

I am not ignorant of your position — and you know it — and that is not why I asked the question that I did. I asked it because I see bloody obvious similarities between you guys and that sick little creep, and they appall me, because I know your heart, and I know his.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
And you know that I know your arguments, Bruce. I don’t need to read up any more than you need to set them out again.
One more time ... if you did, you wouldn’t ask "how".

Now over the years I’ve seen you rip into people who dared question you and say "you don’t know anything about me". Well, I can understand why you’d feel that way.

And this ...
I am not ignorant of your position — and you know it — and that is not why I asked the question that I did. I asked it because I see bloody obvious similarities between you guys and that sick little creep, and they appall me, because I know your heart, and I know his.
... validates my belief that in fact you don’t know my arguments. Or at least, not like you think you do.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"One more time ... if you did, you wouldn’t ask ’how’."
Every time: it is not going to work, Bruce. I know the answer to the question that I asked.
"Now over the years I’ve seen you rip into people who dared question you..."
Excuse me, sir: please don’t come on with that as if it’s a simply rote response in every case. It’s not, and...
"...and say ’you don’t know anything about me’."
...those were cases of people who actually were disqualified from their presumptions. This is not the case between you and me. It’s more than fifteen years since you and I started going over this stuff, and we’ve been tracking each other pretty well. I would never say that about you, because I generally find that you know what you’re dealing with in me, and I have exactly the same confidence in my understanding of you.
"...my belief that in fact you don’t know my arguments. Or at least, not like you think you do."
You have never, Bruce, analyzed compromise the way that I have, and that’s why I know things about what you’re doing that you have never faced.

But if you really think you’re thinking something that you’ve never explicated to me, then spill it and we’ll go over it.

Again.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php

 
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