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A discussion of anger
Posted by: McQ on Monday, March 26, 2007

This week we've had any number of pundits discussing anger and it's public display. I discussed such a display over the weekend which took place in Portland during a recent anti-war/anti-American protest. I described it as puerile and destructively self-indulgent.

George Will and Howard Kurtz look at two different aspects of public anger and wonder about the why. Of course, as Will points out, one reason is very obvious:
Many people who loathe George W. Bush have adopted what Peter Wood describes as "ecstatic anger as a mode of political action." Anger often is, Wood says, "a spectacle to be witnessed by an appreciative audience, not an attempt to win over the uncommitted."
There is a lot to be said for Wood's point. And, as we'll see when we examine Kurtz piece, much of the anger specificially focused on George Bush is to be found among what many would describe as an "echo chamber" where the angry go to vent and sympathize and the more outrageous the language, the more it is appreciated. Call it a form of primal therapy. In fact, Will quotes an unknown blogger who characterizes the blogosphere in less than flattering terms:
The blogosphere often is, as one blogger joyfully says, "an electronic primal scream."
Well perhaps a portion of it, certainly, but it seems a bit of an overreach to describe the whole sphere in that way. Which brings me to the specifics of Kurtz's article. Apparently as the MSM moves into blog like activities (i.e. allowing comments sections after articles) they're discovering an unsettling thing. Commenters can be offensive, angry, demeaning, rude, irrational, racist, mean, disgusting, and stupid among other things. The fact that it has taken this sort of activity to awaken them to that fact does lend some credibility to the argument that in the past, for the most part, they've been very insulated from the real world. What in the world to do?

One faction says leave them alone, the commenters that is, because the conversation is more important than the minority who lower the level of discourse. Others say control the content by deleting offensive comments and banning the offensive commenters.
But Post reporter Darryl Fears is among those in the newsroom who believe the comments should be junked if offensive postings can't be filtered out in advance. "If you're an African American and you read about someone being called a porch monkey, that overrides any positive thing that you would read in the comments," he says. "You're starting to see some of the language you see on neo-Nazi sites, and that's not good for The Washington Post or for the subjects in those stories."
As opposed to the series of William Arkin posts on the WaPo blog which I assume some there thought were "not good" for the Washington Post.

Kurtz concludes:
What is spreading this Web pollution is the widespread practice of allowing posters to spew their venom anonymously. If people's full names were required — even though some might resort to aliases — it would go a long way toward cleaning up the neighborhood.
Would it? I certainly understand the point that anonymous posting leads to a condition where the poster feels none of the normal social constraints on language that having his real identity exposed might impose. And, as Kurtz notes, there's really no way to enforce it unless you want to go to the trouble of certifying everyone who wants to post on your blog/article before giving them access. That's certainly not something I'm interested in doing. Nor, I believe, would anyone else.

But there's no question that anonymity lends itself to acting out the more extreme forms of anger. Put a ski mask on a protester and observe whether their behavior, now anonymous, is different and less socially acceptable than if they were recognizable.

So it comes down to the question of whether the level of anger is any different now than it was in the past. Will leads his piece with an example of anger directed at President James Madison in 1812. So anger at political figures, as we've often pointed out, is nothing new. Some of the things said about Abe Lincoln make today's diatribes, in some cases, seem mild in comparison. However one of the things Will notes is the cultural difference between not so long ago and today:
Once upon a time, Americans admired models of self-control, people such as George Washington and Jackie Robinson, who mastered their anger rather than relishing being mastered by it. America's fictional heroes could be angry, but theirs was a reluctant anger — Alan Ladd as the gunfighter in "Shane," Gary Cooper as the marshal in "High Noon." Today, however, proclaimed anger — the more vituperative the better — is regarded as a sign of good character and emotional vitality.
A small but salient example: when I was a youngster, I was challenged by every coach in every sport I played to be a 'good sport'. In those days one of the things that meant was not showing the other team up. Or said another way, being respectful toward them both during and after the game. And you expected them to act in the same way. So you didn't celebrate excessively. You didn't taunt. You played the game and pretended, at least, like that homerun you hit was just part of the game and not something you danced around the bases and fell all over each other hugging and celebrating about. You had some respect and empathy for your opponent.

Now days, it seems much more important to celebrate the accomplishment to the detriment of your opponents respect. Respect for the other team just doesn't matter that much anymore. Where we celebrated those who withheld emotional outbursts (such as anger) and exuberance (such as excessive sports celebrations), we now seem to celebrate the opposite. I long for the previous time. I'll never forget the story told about Marcus Allen, a famed pro football player, who in an era of excessive celebration, would calmly hand the ball to the official after scoring and trot off the field. It is reported that once, when a rookie was dancing in the endzone after a score, Allen ran by him and derisively shouted "act like you've been here before".

That brings us to a couple of points Will cites from Wood:
Wood notes that there is a "vagueness and elasticity of the grievances" that supposedly justify today's almost exuberant anger. And anger is more pervasive than merely political grievances would explain. Today's anger is a coping device for everyday life. It also is the defining attribute of an increasingly common personality type: the person who "unless he is angry, feels he is nothing at all."

That type, infatuated with anger, uses it to express identity. Anger as an expression of selfhood is its own vindication. Wood argues, however, that as anger becomes a gas polluting the social atmosphere, it becomes not a sign of personal uniqueness but of a herd impulse.
So are we seeing more anger now than ever before? Probably not. What we're seeing is more acceptance of anger as a valid method of expressing yourself. And that begets more of what is accepted. It's not a difficult dynamic to understand, but is it one we're really and honestly eager to see our culture embrace?

Anger, in many cases, is a self-indulgence. When taken to an extreme it can move one to action which endangers the lives a property of everyone. Do we as a culture want to encourage that self-indulgence, or do we want to instead encourage the management of that emotion as a sign of emotional and social maturity? If the latter, we need to quit accepting the anger which Wood says is a 'gas polluting the social atmosphere' and denounce it instead.
 
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Or put another way:

A bunch of whiny b*tches were upset for years that they weren’t in power, and they’re even more whiny that they have power and still haven’t gotten their way.


Read into that as you will.


 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Being a Viking fan, I miss the days when Bud Grant didn’t allow spiking of the ball in the end zone and other displays. There is something about being classy. Though, as with everything, anger and rudeness in the "blogosphere" quickly loses its potency. Insults that had punch back in the 90s now seem lame. The angry activist seems more like a grump. People adapt, the outrageous becomes mundane. Spiking a ball in the end zone is boring, now you have to jump into the stands.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Cant. Believe. I’m writing. This, but:

Scott: I agree! Except for one thing: Go Eagles!
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
Anger is a legitimate emotion, as a response to an intrusive disappointment. Anger’s cousin, ’hate,’ however, is externalized self-hate. The problem is, in the careless expression of our anger we escalate the lesser emotion of anger into the super-nova of hate.

One of the great unintended escalators of hatred is our use of the pronoun, "You," explicity or implicitly, to insult the other. The use of ’you’ to preceed the insult escalates the emotional level of the discussion into a non-discussion: hatred.

The entire effort of Greek philosophy is to get some kind of control over the emotions. Rationality is itself the effort to assert some self-conrol over our too-common emotionality. An argument could be made that many of the world’s enduring moral systems are grounded in the effort to develop some method of self-mastery, especially over the feelings of anger and hate (Confucianism, Stoicism, Christianity, etc).

The "citizen journalism" of the blogosphere is full of anger; yet to Mr. Wills and others, much of the anger appears to reflect an intemporate and willful expression of hate. Which means, of course, that the blogosphere’s diatribes, both from the Right and Left, are manifestation of self-hatred.

Isn’t that precisely the point of democracy as a form of governance? What democracy accomplishes, among other things, is to vent the pent up emotions that otherwise build toward an explosion of violence in a repressed society. The grounding philosophy in a democracy is freedom, where an alternative or contrary opinion is not merely a possibility: it is a certainty.

So, how to improve the dialogue in citizen journalism, by reducing the anger and hate? Drop the insults (they’re adolescent and counter-productive), watch for ’you,’ and by all means, ’Personalize praise, pluralize criticism.’

However, the venting of an alternative or contrary opinion, whether as legitimate anger or vituperative hate, is always very important...to freedom.
 
Written By: a Duoist
URL: http://www.duoism.org
Children like to through tantrums to get attention. Parents are expected to deal with that in an adult manner. Today’s political discourse has degenerated into Children’s tantrums while the Parent’s are out of the room.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
"I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen, but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch - and I will be heard. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.

It is pretended that I am retarding the cause of emancipation by the coarseness of my invective and the precipitancy of my measures. The charge is not true. On this question my influence - humble as it is - is felt at this moment to a considerable extent, and shall be felt in coming years - not perniciously, but as a blessing; and posterity will bear testimony that I was right."
(William Lloyd Garrison, "An Immediate End To Slavery", editorial in The Liberator, January 1, 1831, emphases original)

Word.

"This ain’t no disco."
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I think, from a Catholic perspective, that rage and hate are counter-productive, in the long run. I can fear, hate and rage against the man in the hole with the bayonet fixed on his SKS and kill him with rifle, a knife, a rock or my bare hands, but much beyond that rage and hatred or even anger carry not very far.

As to Billy’s quote above it has a value but also realize this, Garrison could have been filled with a sense of sorrow and loss, FOR THE WHITE SLAVE HOLDER TOO, for as the German philospher pointed out, IIRC PS-101, slavery demeans Master AND Slave.

An "Immoderate Alarm" is not the same as No or a Wimpy Alarm... or an Angry one. Neither does Moderation require retreat.

I guess I’m saying often we use hate, rage, and anger to fuel us in our drive to accomplish things, BUT they twist us and our actions to no good end, and that other emotions can sustain us as well.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
What a duoist said.

 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
If one is going to have principled rage, the focus needs to be on the principles one is opposing and the ones being promoted if the rage is going to be anything more than noise. For instance, I can be enraged at the Belgian Senator who attacked Gen. Romeo Dallaire for "allowing ten Belgiums to die" as Dallaire tried to save a mission in which the UN and Belgium turned tale and ran, leaving Dallaire with a small group of 400 in the midst of a genocide. But if I just call the guy names and make blanket assertions, it’s just noise. If the rage is shown to be based on the facts and principles, and I lay them out clearly, then it has purpose. I suspect a lot of insults are rationalized by claims of standing for great principle, but in reality it turns out usually to be rather petty.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I
suspect a lot of insults are rationalized by claims of standing for great principle, but in reality it turns out usually to be rather petty.
Lets face it anger can be an exciting ego trip. The adrenalin rush is a great high when you are venting. Anger usually ends up as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It solves nothing and only stiffens the resolve of your oponent.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
This is a thoughtful post, I agree, and I support it.

Having said that, it takes two to disarm. McQ’s point would be more of a convincing messenger if he’d bothered to find an concurrent example on the conservative side. Examples abound from your comment section - you can use shark right here in this one -

(or, if you want an outside world example? Hey, McQ, nice catch of the liberal caught in hate here, but somehow you missed the Gathering of Eagles where the portopotties were all given names like "The John Kerry" and the "Jane Fonda". You can find about five more equivalent examples in there.)

The most honest answer about left-wing anger is that it’s grown out of being tired of losing elections and being railroaded by nasty, aggressive, accusatory, vindictive, successful conservatives. Mondale, Dukakis, to the Clintons, back to Kerry, the Democrats are through playing nice guys who lose their lunch money to self-described crusaders. The Republicans have proved that slime and anger work. Of course, it may eventually destroy you, but some would rather ride the tiger than be devoured by it.

Most hand-wringing over left-wing nastiness by right-wingers is something called concern trolling, wherein one pretends to be upset about something because it is morally evil, but at heart wishes to see the other guy stop doing it because it works pretty well and the guy giving advice wants the other guy to keep losing.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Having said that, it takes two to disarm. McQ’s point would be more of a convincing messenger if he’d bothered to find an concurrent example on the conservative side. Examples abound from your comment section - you can use shark right here in this one -
The difference I’m a commenter and the left wing nastiness comes from their elected officials.

Hate will be answered with hate.

You don’t like it, take it up with Howard Dean, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Teddy Kennedy, Harry Reid.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
And yes, even you Glasnost. Beneath that fake veneer of civility, read what you actually wrote.

That’s hate speech wrapped in nice words.

As ye shall sow, so shall ye reap.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Erb is going to be reaping from me for the rest of his worthless life.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Beneath that fake veneer of civility, read what you actually wrote.

That’s hate speech wrapped in nice words.
Could you show what he said that was "hate speech?"
Erb is going to be reaping from me for the rest of his worthless life.
That doesn’t bother me a bit, Billy.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
an concurrent example on the conservative side
Michael Savage
Michele Malkin
Tom DeLay
Bill O’Reilly
Ann Coulter
To Name a few right wing Anal Orifices
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
Sometimes you talk too much, ’nost. Has anyone mentioned that too you before?

Here was a perfect opportunity for you to stop after your first sentence and actually be thought of as reasonable, rational, even a thinking person.

But you just couldn’t could you?

Instead you choose to quibble about examples and make what was a pretty non-partisan appeal for moderation into a partisan one which had you reduced to whining about who was or wasn’t cited for being nasty. It was as if you doubted a reasonable, rational and thinking person wouldn’t have realized it happens on both sides all by themselves.

An incredible performance. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it was one in which the irony was mostly lost on you.


 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
If you hate somebody you are giving that person control over part of your life. They control your emotions, especially anger. That’s destructive control. If you love some one you are also giving them control of your emotion through love, a constructive control.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
"This ain’t no disco."

Good. I hate disco. But does that actually mean that I hate myself?

" slavery demeans Master AND Slave."

Could be, but I think someone forgot to tell the masters, and even if someone told them that they would laugh in your face. Or maybe their brutality towards the slaves is merely externalized self-hatred.

" It solves nothing and only stiffens the resolve of your oponent."

That would depend on what you do with the anger, and how you express it. Anger can be an effective motivator, and it is not necessary to let your opponent see it, if he is even aware of you.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"That doesn’t bother me a bit, Billy."
You’re a lying dirt-bomb, Erb. You know damned well that there is no one else here who knows you like I do.

And I see everything, right through you.

"If your children ever discover how lame you really are, they’ll murder you in your sleep."

(Frank Zappa — 1966)

Nighty-night, bitch.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
If you hate somebody you are giving that person control over part of your life. They control your emotions, especially anger. That’s destructive control. If you love some one you are also giving them control of your emotion through love, a constructive control.
That is a wise statement. If someone let someone else’s insults bother you, any anger or unpleasantness that person feels is a direct result is a sacrifice of power to the person who did the insulting. The same is true if one comes home from work with lingering anger about what the boss or co-workers did — that is giving them power over one’s time at home after work.

I think a secret to life is not to allow others that power, not to allow ones’ own happiness to be dependent on what others do, and to recognize that if one is happy with his or her own choices and life, it doesn’t matter a wit what others think.

But, as you point out, you can choose to give someone power over your life through either love or hate. If one chooses the former, it can yield great rewards but risks disappointment. If one chooses the latter, it is simply a sacrifice of personal autonomy.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Hate or hatred is an emotion of intense revulsion, distaste, enmity, or antipathy for a person, thing, or phenomenon; a desire to avoid, restrict, remove, or destroy its object.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate"

"dislike intensely; feel antipathy or aversion towards; "I hate Mexican food"; "She detests politicians"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn"

Do I take it that you nebbishes wander around in a warm and fuzzy haze of love and indifference to the world around you and its attendant evils? The two children who were recently used as camouflage in a car-bombing; You feel no intense dislike, antipathy, or intense revulsion? Pablum-spouting morons.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Do I take it that you nebbishes wander around in a warm and fuzzy haze of love and indifference to the world around you and its attendant evils? The two children who were recently used as camouflage in a car-bombing; You feel no intense dislike, antipathy, or intense revulsion? Pablum-spouting morons.
Anger in response to cruelty is of limited value; I certainly don’t want to give those kind of people power over my emotions! I try to live life with joy (for what I mean by that, go my blog entry for December 1, 2005) But my reaction to stories like that is less anger at the perpetrators (who are living a hellish existence if they are able to do that kind of thing, I believe) than saddness and empathy for the victims and their families. I in general am not able to carry grudges or truly hate; it’s just not in me. But such events inspire me to act in the small ways I can.

For instance, I’ve done a number of public talks with a colleague on children and war, focusing on the impacts on children and their society when violence ravages a region. I’ve created extensive units on the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda in my World Politics course, and have as a theme of that course connecting with the human side of what world politics is about rather than simply abstracting it to theory and cold calculation. The idea is to try to make a positive change in the world, rather than respond with just anger and antipathy.

On my blog this month (March 22 and 23 - click the blog address with the sig and scroll down) I talk about this, giving the example of a very impressive woman we had on campus, Sally Goodrich, who lost a son on 9-11 and is devoting her work to helping educate Afghan children, as well as the quote from Gen. Romeo Dallaire who was the UNAMIR commander in Rwanda that I think illustrates my point. I’m planning to shift my research away from German politics to issues involving how victims of horrific acts are portrayed in media and considered by governments and even academia. I can’t do much to help change the world, but I can try in my own way to play a small role inspiring others (and I’ve had students go do really impressive things after awaking to what is going on in the world) and perhaps help in some way.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I in general am not able to carry grudges or truly hate; it’s just not in me."
That’s because you don’t have a self, Erb. You’ll fall for anything because you couldn’t stand up to save your own life.
"For instance, I’ve done a number of public talks..."
...and half the ’net hollered, "Whoooo CARES?"

Let me tell you something, Professorboy: that sequined Mr. Rogers sweater has got to go.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
That’s because you don’t have a self, Erb. You’ll fall for anything because you couldn’t stand up to save your own life
I know you don’t like me Billy, but that comment’s just silly. You’re very good at asserting things about other people. It’s almost always wrong, but apparently truth is not something you’re that concerned about.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Bruce? Dale?

Take a good look at what it just wrote.

I have a question: if I spent the next week at culling through Usenet, how much of it could I post here at beating this despicable person in the head with the facts before it just wrecked your whole day?

I don’t think you know any of it, Dale. I know Bruce knows quite a bit of it. And even I never saw all of it: there were years when I was getting reports from all kinds of people about the slider’s astounding audacity in places where I didn’t see it. But it’s all out there: so much of it that it actually tends to work to his advantage because of the sheer mass of the mendacity. (You know, Bruce: stuff like flagrant snips of things like cites and bomb-proof argument, garnished with his flouncy delusions like the one above.)

And, of course, there are all kinds of readers here who don’t have a random clue. (Another thing, of course, is that many of them simply wouldn’t understand some of the worst of it. In the first sentence of my last comment above, I made a completely — technically — philosophical observation. There is a great, great deal more to it than many here would grasp, and make no mistake about this: he knows it, which is why he played it the way he did.)

Here’s the thing that I can’t make out:

I don’t know why you guys put up with him.

I would have dragged him out of here by one ear the very second that he turned up, and bounced him to the street like a flat basketball.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I don’t know why you guys put up with him.
I don’t.

You see, the blog sends me an email with every comment made. My email program allows me to make "rules". One of it’s rules is anything from him goes directly to the trash, does not pass go, does not collect $200 and certainly doesn’t get read.

He apparently amuses the other commenters which is fine by me. As long as they’re having fun ripping his mendacious garbage apart, I say let them have their fun.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Billy, don’t you see — I’m immune from your attacks if they are just assertions and insults backed up by nothing. You only make yourself look bad. You have to engage someone to really show that they are wrong, dishonest, or somehow unworthy. You want to attack me on the cheap — throw out insults and act tough, but not actually build it around any discussion of principle or substance. You’ll always lose with that kind of tactic. I long ago became immune to internet insults — they are meaningless and pack no punch. But I am always interested in learning from others and engaging in substantive discussion. If you’re not interested that in prefer a personal grude and insults hurled now and then, that’s cool. Have your fun. I still like your blog, no matter what you think of me. (Being unable to carry a grudge I find it amusing that someone can hold such animosity towards l’il ole me for so long, over debates back in the nineties...as Caroline Ingalls said, ’it takes all kinds to make up a world’.)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I’m immune from your attacks if they are just assertions and insults backed up by nothing"

Ooh. Sounds like a challenge.

"You have to engage someone to really show that they are wrong, dishonest, or somehow unworthy"

It takes two to engage, and if one only does "drive bys" it can’t be done. As soon as someone actually tries to "engage" you, you slither away chirping "ad hominem", "failure to engage", etc. I don’t know you as well as Mr. Beck does, evidently(and he has aroused my curiosity) but I have read enough to come to the same conclusion.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"I’m immune from your attacks if they are just assertions and insults backed up by nothing."
(to take another riff from F.Z....) "The secret word for this evening, ladies & gentlemen is, "if"."

It is a classic dodge of yours that when you can’t stand the heat of an argument, you just jam beans in your ears and start moaning that your opponent’s argument is "vague", "unclear", or any number of synonomous dodges. It is impossible to "engage" you on the actual meat of things, except for someone who is almost monomaniacal about pinning you down on your own drivel.

Inlookers: see this Usenet post for a random sample of some of what I’m talking about. Observe Skurt’s complaint of a "pathetic press" when challenged on one of his assertions. It’s going to be really tedious — I’m warning you — but if you want to judge some of this for yourselves, crack that thread open and go through it.

I could do this all day long, and if they would take up the invitation, I could fill this place with people who could show you the very same sort of utter posing crap that went on for years and years on end.

There is no "if" about it, Erb. Over and over, I’ve cracked you across the snout with assertions "backed up" like Patton on the Rhine, and you’ve just snipped your way out of it as if nobody would see it, waved your frilly cuff and moaned that it’s all "vague", or just gone straight out like a light. And many dozens — if not hundreds — of others have had the very same experience with you.

You’re a scandalously stupid individual, a catatonic skeptic about everything but your own stupidity (constantly manifest in your desperate cling to "complexity" and "uncertainty" with all the firmity of dogma), and so crooked that you have to screw your pants on in the morning.

Bruce? You’re here on the scene: do this some justice, man, I’m beggin’ ya. Tell these people what you’ve seen over the years. Go ahead: tell ’em all that I’m wrong.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
This was a year later. For one detailed thing, it includes the new link to The Gold Institute.

Of course, the main event is Erb dancing like a goat on ice while I’m slapping him around with the facts.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
The Catatonic Skeptic.

That’s only less than five years ago.

I’m just bloody getting started.

I’m going to bed, but I’m leaving three archive search windows open.

Before I’m done with you, Erb, you flat-headed bastard, you’ll be crying like a little girl and beating your wife.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I don’t know why you guys put up with him.

I would have dragged him out of here by one ear the very second that he turned up, and bounced him to the street like a flat basketball.
Huh. Yeah. Well.

I guess your question would make more sense if you weren’t skipping in here to confront him yourself.

Which, I guess you have to do if you want to confront him, seeing as how you don’t let anyone leave comments on your blog.

Anyway, I actually find it pretty easy to put up with him. I simply don’t read his comments.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
"I guess your question would make more sense if you weren’t skipping in here to confront him yourself."
It’s filthy job, Dale, but someone’s got to do it.
"Which, I guess you have to do if you want to confront him, seeing as how you don’t let anyone leave comments on your blog."
Pay attention, man: you see that "dragged him by the ear" part up there? Let me get out the Big Crayon and draw the Big Picture just for you: if I’d opened comments at my blog, Scott Erb would be the very last person in the world who I’d tolerate, and you should think about that.

Now, then: you sound like you have something stuck in your teeth.

Spit it out.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"Spit it out."

And before you do, I’m going to publicly point out that I explicitly and personally invited both you and Henke to guest blog at my place, and both of you promptly shut up like dead clams. That was completely unprecedented: I have never even remotely considered such a thing with anyone else in the world.

Now, then: I’m all ears.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
when you can’t stand the heat of an argument
When you can’t stand the heat of an argument you slip into personal attacks and insults. Look, back in the Whitewater group days I admit that when I got annoyed by something I wrote stuff designed to annoy you and irritate you back. I was playing games, and didn’t treat your arguments with respect. That was childish of me, I admit. And if that means you can never, ever have a reasonable exchange with me because I annoyed you so much, so be it. But in that case let go. Be done with me like McQ.

I’m also amazed by the examples you cite — I’m convinced they make you look worse than me, those are examples I’d be tempted to cite if I were to show your failings. You constantly fall back on claims like "this would be understood by anyone who thinks clearly," and that I "don’t understand the concepts" (though you don’t really define the concepts). I really think that your main problem with me is that I am able to dissect your arguments and show their weaknesses and you can’t accept that. Thus you resort to name calling and assertions backed up not by arguments but by personal attacks (calling me a communist? Sheesh!) If my arguments were really so weak, you’d not see it worth the personal attacks.

No matter. My approach is to treat everyone with respect (and apologize when in a moment of weakness I hurl an insult), admit when I’m wrong (I’ve done that in comments here a few times in the last weak or so), not take things personally (you really can’t know another person through this kind of interaction, and I want to avoid the tendency to have caricatured images of the ’other’), focus on learning rather than defeating another (and I’ve learned a lot from you, otherwise I’d not have engaged you), and having fun. You like Ayn Rand and Hayek (I really like Hayek, but not Rand), my favorite philosophers are Plotinus and Bishop Berkely. We are in a world where people have vastly different perspectives and no one can expect everyone to share their principles and beliefs. One can either try to learn by understanding different perspectives (sort of a Nietzsche approach) or one can choose one’s ’ism’ and fight a jihad for it. I choose the former.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
And before you do, I’m going to publicly point out that I explicitly and personally invited both you and Henke to guest blog at my place, and both of you promptly shut up like dead clams.
I do not recall such a thing. I recall you offering to allow me to comment on your blog — an offer I declined for lack of interest.

If you recall differently, please point out the offer.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://
Beck writes of Erb:
You’re a scandalously stupid individual, a catatonic skeptic about everything but your own stupidity (constantly manifest in your desperate cling to "complexity" and "uncertainty" with all the firmity of dogma), and so crooked that you have to screw your pants on in the morning.
I concur, but object to the mildness of the language.

In this thread alone you can see Erb’s most doleful tactic, his passive aggression. In combination with his "I teach this stuff" narcissism, it’s really quite the package. But never quite as complete as when, after he’s paraded his academic position around for weeks and months on end, he comes back at someone with "you’re obsessed with my credentials."

Better still was when he encouraged with praise the worst demented s**theels of Usenet so that they would vent his rage at his tormentors.

I cite his careful cultivation of Kurt Lochner as an example of that. The high price for getting that imbecile to purr at his side was to announce publicly that Lochner was "quite intelligent and a scholar," a comment that has no equal in for pure cravenness in the history of Usenet. Another example was the encouragement of one Glenn Yeadon, a link to whose website from Erb’s UMF page once kept that moron happily at the ready to express Erb’s rage for him.

There are endless complications to this passive aggressive narcissism, but there is no complexity at all. It’s just a big heap of stuff, like a house of cards collapsed.

Still, it would never have concerned me to the extent that it did had Erb’s academic position not made him at the least a semi-official liar for the Left. This is what gave his unending promotion of socialism and his aggressive anti-Americanism the musky odor of academic authority, and made him a sort of lemonade stand Ward Churchill.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
And before you do, I’m going to publicly point out that I explicitly and personally invited both you and Henke to guest blog at my place, and both of you promptly shut up like dead clams.


Uh, when was that? Because I’m not aware that you extended any such offer.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
"I do not recall such a thing."

Do you archive your e-mail, Henke?

I do, but I’ll tell you what: in the .PST files that I have here, two of them are very goofed and will not open in Outlook. Now, if you think I’m making this up, say so, and I’ll go through them with a plain text editor (have you ever seen what that looks like?) and see if I can fish it out for you.

Erb:
"Look, back in the Whitewater group days I admit that when I got annoyed by something I wrote stuff designed to annoy you and irritate you back. I was playing games, and didn’t treat your arguments with respect. That was childish of me, I admit. And if that means you can never, ever have a reasonable exchange with me because I annoyed you so much, so be it. But in that case let go. Be done with me like McQ."
Forget it. That’s not going to happen. Look: "Annoy and irritate"? You were nothing in comparison to most the animals going through that. Hanson was — and still is — a certifiable psychotic, and the peasant oozer, Zepp, had better hope that he and I never meet in person because I’ll see if he wants to tell me that I’m a racist right to my face instead of lying to the whole world from three thousand miles away.

You still don’t get it: ideas matter, Erb, and that’s what this is between you and me.
"...and no one can expect everyone to share their principles and beliefs."
...except for when it comes to your state, which is where all your lovely pastel rubber meets the road. Don’t try to come on as if this is all just idle amusement, because it’s not. And you know it.

 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"Uh, when was that?"
Uh, it was about a year ago. And since this is now in disupute, I’ll just do it again the way I did it the first time:

I’ll have to figure out exactly how to do it because I had waited your word on the thing and I hadn’t gone through whatever techniques are necessary in my blog software, but, knowing what your problem is in all this, I’ll do it. I will do whatever it takes to set you two up so that you can say any bloody thing you want at my place, because you’re the ones complaining about this. (Bruce: you’re in, too, if you want.) But there will never be open comments over there. Never, and for all kinds of reasons. Now, if you want to complain about that and there is no other way to resolve that for you, then that’s just the way it’ll be.

But I think you might understand what I have in mind.

Send word.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Yeah, well, don’t put yourself through any trouble on my account, Billy. I hardly have time to blog here, much less try to blog at your place. But I don’t remember you making any offer in the past.

In any event, your decison not to allow comments has nothing to do with whatever I’d like to write. My deal is that, since you don’t allow comments, you really have no frickin’ idea about the time and effort it takes to police the comments section, if such policing is important to you. It’s easy to criticise us for how we run the comments section when it’s not a chore you ever have to deal with.

I mean, you blow in here, criticize us for allowing this or that person to comment, and get all flustered about it. But, the fact is, attempting to shut down a commenter, unless they’re an intentionally abusive troll, just isn’t worth the time and effort it would take. It’s not rocket science. We just have better things to do with our time. You can criticize that all you want but it isn’t going to change, and none of your repeated suggestions will ever change that. So, you’re wasting your time.

If you don’t like how we run the comments section, or who we choose not to take the trouble to ban, then there’s a really easy way for you remove that source of irritation from your life.

And it doesn’t obligate me to do anything at all. "But I think you might understand what I have in mind."
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
"My deal is that, since you don’t allow comments, you really have idea about the time and effort it takes to police the comments section, if such policing is important to you.
Oh, I believe I do. I’ve been watching lots of people go through that for long enough that I can figure it out. It’s just a concept, Dale. I’ve never taken a bite of a sh*t sandwich, either, but I don’t have to in order to understand that it’s a bad thing.
"It’s easy to criticise us..."
No, sir, it’s not. Not for me. I don’t like this any more than you do, and there are all kinds of complications all over it. Just for one example, I very often have people crawling up my spine for "pandering" to you guys, and those creeps have no idea what value I’m acting for, here.
"...for how we run the comments section when it’s not a chore you ever have to deal with."
How hard could it possibly be to just prevent a lying commie fraud from commenting here?

Hell, man: you’d do it to me at the drop of a hat just because of the noise I’m making over this. Anyone with a brain in their head could see that lurking about two steps away.
"And it doesn’t obligate me to do anything at all."
No dispute, and I would have thought it unnecessary to make that point to me, although I could easily understand why you might have to play it to the gallery. And that’s just fine with me, but I understand and unilaterally endorse that quite without the explication. That would have been my working precept even before this place existed.

What I can’t understand for the life of me is why y’all are conducting such a tea & crumpets parlor gag with that commie dirt-bomb as if everything’s cool as it can be.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
How hard could it possibly be to just prevent a lying commie fraud from commenting here?
Depends on how hard he wants to stay. It took weeksto get rid of that one troll a couple of years ago. All they have to do is change their identity, and use Anonymizer, and they can play games for as long as they want. Their IP address is never the same. They can change their user name and email. Then I have to monitor every comment thread and delete comments that look like there’s as sooin as they pop up, and I have to keep doing it until they are tired of playing games.

It’s just not worth the time and effort except in unusual cases.
What I can’t understand for the life of me is why y’all are conducting such a tea & crumpets parlor gag with that commie dirt-bomb as if everything’s cool as it can be.
I’m not "conducting" anything. I don’t respond to the guy. Mostly, I just skip over his comments without reading them.

You seem unable to do so. That’s not my problem.

Look, there’s really only two choices. We can have open comments, and only jump in if someone seems particularly abusive. Or we can close down comments completely. I don’t have the time to monitor all the comment threads, and pick and choose who I want to allow to comment here. It’s just not important enough to spend the time doing it. So, I’m not going to. I just don’t care enough about it to make the effort.

I. Don’t. Care.

How hard is that to understand?
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
"I. Don’t. Care.

How hard is that to understand?"
It’s not. It’s as clear as day, and it was long before the resort to c. 2003 pop.blog.styled grammar.

It’s that we’re now talking about two very different things, and the fact that you’re emphasizing is a new ethical datapoint for me.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
You still don’t get it: ideas matter, Erb, and that’s what this is between you and me.
Yes, ideas matter. Ideas are fundamental. We agree there.

...except for when it comes to your state, which is where all your lovely pastel rubber meets the road. Don’t try to come on as if this is all just idle amusement, because it’s not. And you know it.
When it comes to ’my’ state? This is where I truly don’t understand you. You call me "commie" and if you read what I write you should know I’m far, far from supporting that kind of system that lead to massive death, oppression and destruction of human spirit that communist regimes created. Indeed, I despise such brutality. If you read what I write you should know I don’t trust centralized power at all, I’d break the US up into fifty separate states if it were solely up to me in order to keep governmental power more accountable to rule of law and the people. If you read what I write you’d know that positions I once held that were more friendly to state power (like supporting national health insurance) I’ve changed my mind about, in part because after exchanges with people like you and others I read Hayek and found much of his argument persausive.

I’m not sure what you imagine me to be, Billy. I see myself as trying to learn as much as I can about the world, understand it, and be an ethical person. My world view is at base spiritual, yours (it seems to me) is at base materialist. We have some core differences, and that won’t change. I know I’m probably wrong in many of my beliefs, you seem certain you are correct in yours.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"This is where I truly don’t understand you."
On more than a decade’s experience with you, I am convinced that that’s a bloody lie.

There is only one alternative, but as stupid as you are, I don’t believe it.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Let me tell you something else, Erb:

Anyone who knows me also knows that one sacrosanct corner of my philosophy is reserved for redemption, and it is not — ever — at odds with my sense of justice. But you’ve got a long, long row to hoe, son, and if I took the best actuaries at their word, it’s an odds-up bet, at least, whether you’re going to live long enough to get to the end of it. You have a hell of a lot of work to do, and I see not the least evidence that you really understand the problem.

If you gave up your "job" of smashing budding minds this very afternoon and began walking the land in sack-cloth & ashes, I might be -><- that impressed.

All this, of course, if I stipulate to any sort of argument that you are not a liar, which I don’t. You are the single smoothest liar that I ever saw in this medium. That is; if you’re not outright insane. But I’ve dealt with real clinical cases in my time online, and I don’t believe that about you.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
On more than a decade’s experience with you, I am convinced that that’s a bloody lie.

There is only one alternative, but as stupid as you are, I don’t believe it.
Well, I must be stupid, Billy, because I don’t even understand your post. I do understand that my choice of pragmatically accepting reality as I find it, choosing to work within the system as it is, rather than refusing to compromise any part of how I think the world "ought" to be is, for you, a lack of principle.

I understand that we each agree that ideas matter, and that you think I’m promoting ideas dangerous to society. But my ideas are far more libertarian in nature than most people on the "left" (or right) and more libertarian than people who you tolerate (very few are as radically anarchist as you — and that’s the only reason I read or even talk with you, your ideas are often interesting) But your insults of me often seem cryptic, and I’m not sure what it is you imagine my ideas to be. You don’t even accept that my ideas are what I write, you simply dismiss them as lies.

The one thing I’ll grant you from what you posted is that in that in internet debates I tended not to give cites — that would require work to dig out the info, and I was posting recreationally, as a break from work. My attitude was ’if he doesn’t believe me, well, that’s fine, I know I’ve studied this material.’ Clearly if one is going to debate you, that is not the attitude to have.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb: When you can’t stand the heat of an argument you slip into personal attacks and insults.

I wouldn’t bother entertaining any sort of rational argument with you, you slime-oozing hagfish. It’s not in your nature to deal with such things save via complete disingenuousness.

Erb: Well, I must be stupid, Billy, because I don’t even understand your post.

But you always *were* stupid. Every day. In every way. If you had any ethical intregity whatsoever, you’d resign from your tax-leeching "education" commission to recuse yourself to the Dhimmi Caliphate of Malmo to reconcile your grief at the destruction of the Swedish Socialist Utopia, of which I’m sure you remember defending so voluminously on usenet ten years ago.

Boob.
 
Written By: Mike Schneider
URL: http://
"But your insults of me often seem cryptic,...
I know, Erb.
"...and I’m not sure what it is you imagine my ideas to be."
I know.

That’s because you’re scandalously stupid.

Here’s a clue for you, Doktor: there are lots of people who, when they see me use the word "commie", understand that I am making a point of metaphysics and ontology. This is not some 1950’s throwback: this is a half-century later, and the game has been upped just like anything else in the culture.

But you’re a PhD, and that’s all there is to it.

 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Remember, in USENET, when Snott Erb shed his Mr. Rodgers disguise, posted as (I believe) "MH"and went on a pathetic insult spree, feeling protected by his anonymity?
 
Written By: John Sabotta
URL: http://www,no-treason.com
Here’s a clue for you, Doktor: there are lots of people who, when they see me use the word "commie", understand that I am making a point of metaphysics and ontology. This is not some 1950’s throwback: this is a half-century later, and the game has been upped just like anything else in the culture.
I have no clue what you’re talking about.

And I don’t understand the claim by someone else that somehow Sweden has been destroyed. Last I checked Sweden, Finland, and Denmark were three of the top performing economies.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I have no clue what you’re talking about."
Yes, you do. I jut gave you one. That’s why I called it a "clue". Put your vaunted sheepskin to work and figure it out.
"Last I checked..."
The homing pigeon that landed on your porch in ’79?
"...Sweden, Finland, and Denmark were three of the top performing economies."
Do you people see this? this person knows how to leave a hole in his rubbish that you could skid a Volvo through in four-wheel drift.

Don’t look now, dahlink, but the wheels are coming off.

This is not a breaking story. Anyone paying attention has been seeing this for a couple of years, now. Of course, I can understand how hard it must be when you’ve got those commie beans jammed in your eyes and ears.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Yes, you do. I jut gave you one. That’s why I called it a "clue". Put your vaunted sheepskin to work and figure it out.
No, I’ll just get it wrong, you’ll mock me for not understanding, and I still won’t be sure what you mean. I’m not going to play games, if you have a point I’ll respond in a straight forward manner, but I’ve not got time to try to guess.
"...Sweden, Finland, and Denmark were three of the top performing economies."

Do you people see this? this person knows how to leave a hole in his rubbish that you could skid a Volvo through in four-wheel drift.

Don’t look now, dahlink, but the wheels are coming off.
Billy, your story is from 2004.

From this week’s ECONOMIST: Sweden GDP +4.7% (Q4), (US is +3.1%), predictions for 2007 are +3.5%, while for the US it’s +2.6%. Industrial production is +4.1%, inflation is nothing last month, plus 1.4% compared to a year ago (US is 2.1% in Jan, 4.0% compared a year ago).

So that Volvo was able to plow successfully through the snowdrift!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
It’s not about the trains running on time, Erb.

It’s about the end of the track.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
From this week’s ECONOMIST:
Actually it was last week’s magazine, March 17 -23, 2007.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Here is an article dated today, Doktor. You’re probably going to have "false consciousness" problems with it, but that’s too bad. The numbers are groovy. Looks like it’s all been worthwhile... especially since I don’t have to live there.

IHT reported, two weeks ago, that the giveway isn’t so smiley-faced anymore. That’s gotta be a drag. (It’s also news to me. Hadn’t seen that one yet.) Spike-quote:
"The premise," said Goran Greider, a well-known leftist commentator, "used to be that the human being is good."
Well, jeez, Goran: look what happens when everybody attempts to live at the expense of everyone else. Welcome home from the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

Did you notice the last elections over there, Erb? Your secret word for the hour is "change". Here’s a story out of Qatar, last week. I just love how an egalitarian society look with all the wymyn in the closet, don’t you?

Government holdings in corporation are going on the block. Maybe they can hold on to the family silver.

I’ll be watching more diligently, Erb, and you can count on me to keep you posted.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Billy, some poster said Sweden had destructed. It clearly hasn’t. And I think that going after welfare fraud is a good thing. I also think the last election brought about a needed change (I’ve actually met Carl Bildt, the first conservative to unseat the Social Democratic party, a very impressive individual). Of course, the conservatives of Sweden would be considered leftist in the US, but they have a different political culture.

So you say Sweden will destruct. That’s different than what the other guy said. Well, we’ll see. The Swedes are smart and overall hard working. They’ll need to reform their social welfare system significantly due to demographics and inefficiencies, but they are off to a good start.

Still, don’t obscure the point. The guy said:
to reconcile your grief at the destruction of the Swedish Socialist Utopia,

I pointed out Sweden is performing well economically compared to other states and certainly hasn’t been destroyed (it’s never been a ’socialist utopia,’ to be sure).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Billy, some poster said Sweden had destructed."
What’s wrong with you, Erb? The comment is easily scrollable to where anyone can see it. It was Schneider, and he didn’t say what you say he did. You could go read it for yourself, and you’ll see. It’s a present-tense.

Jesus. Why aren’t you able to deal with the issue that he emphasized?

Why didn’t you read it?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
What’s wrong with you, Erb? The comment is easily scrollable to where anyone can see it.
OK, let’s go through this step by step.
If you had any ethical intregity whatsoever, you’d resign from your tax-leeching "education" commission to recuse yourself to the Dhimmi Caliphate of Malmo to reconcile your grief at the destruction of the Swedish Socialist Utopia, of which I’m sure you remember defending so voluminously on usenet ten years ago.
He apparently wants me to quit my job and go to Malmo, all this to reconcile my grief at the destruction of the "Swedish socialist utopia" which I apparently defended "voluminously." I don’t recall that, I do recall noting that Sweden was proof that you could be a rich society and have a social welfare state if market economics and trade policies were embraced.

The Swedish system has not undergone some destruction (and it never was a socialist utopia). But this exchange is indicative. I’m trying to figure out what your point or his point is, and it’s wrapped up in such wild rhetoric and insults that any response you twist into an accusation that I’m missing something obvious. Readers can decide if that quote contains something obvious! I’m trying to be straight forward and clear here. You seem to be dancing around.
Why aren’t you able to deal with the issue that he emphasized?
WHAT ISSUE?! Re-read the quote. What issue is emphasized. All he does is make a false assertion (that Sweden was a socialist utopia) and false claim of destruction, and a vague assertion that I had defended (what, a socialist utopia?) in the past. That’s meeley mouthed and slippery. What would be helpful is straight forward clear arguments, positions and statements of principle. Why is it so hard to just write what you believe, state clearly your principles, and put an issue out there that doesn’t have to be wrapped in cryptic statements surrounded a bunch of meaningless insults that create some kind of hard to decipher code? Maybe I am just too stupid to figure all that out, and perhaps it’s not worth you spending any time on someone as dense as me. But I just don’t get it!!!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
When you can’t stand the heat of an argument you slip into personal attacks and insults
No, Erb.
Wrong.

Billy may not recall that I’ve been around for most of this long running show, but I was. And from what I have seen over the years, I have to tell you, the truth about you is insulting enough to anyone who understands and acknowledges facts.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
...wrapped in cryptic statements surrounded a bunch of meaningless insults that create some kind of hard to decipher code?

- says Snott Erb, cow college teaching assistant.

Oh, noes! Cryptic statements surrounding meaningless statements creating some kind of hard to decipher code!

Only Our Professor Scott can figure it out!

P.S. lung remembers you!
 
Written By: John Sabotta
URL: http://www,no-treason.com
Mr. Erb:
You claim you have the reached the level of never holding grudges.
That is impossible. You are too pretentious and too mendacious to be a ba’al musar, much less a bodhisattva. Even I do not have equanimity, and I’ve gone beyond a lot further than you seem to have gone beyond. At least I’ve read in musar, and you give no indication that you have done even that much.

Go read the real baalei musar like Ramchal or Ibn Paquda, and then go practice equanimity for twenty or thirty years. Then maybe, just maybe, you can make the claim to never hold a grudge.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
Schneider

I’ve spent hours this evening, rolling through Erb’s record on the particular thing you’ve brought up.

There is unquestionably a terrific case, but it would be like trying to convict John Gotti, except that Erb is far more cagey. And you’d play hell sitting a competent jury.


I’ll see you tomorrow, Professorboy.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"It’s going to be really tedious — I’m warning you"

Right you are. It sure sounds familiar, though, right down to the inevitable charges of "ad hominem". One would think he would have learned something over the years, or at least improved his style. I think the phrase "invincible ignorance" applies here. Thanks for the link.

********************

" My approach is to treat everyone with respect"

Absolute and utter nonsense, to be unnecessarily polite. The only time you treat anyone with "respect" is when they confront you on the generic insults you habitually make. Then you say something like "Oh, I wasn’t talking about you, personally, just all the other yahoos who say the same thing you do". In other words, you don’t have the stones to actually stick by your own comments.

" focus on learning rather than defeating another"

And it is evident from Mr. Beck’s cites that you have done neither over a period of years. You are either a masochist or even dumber than I thought.

" But in that case let go. Be done with me like McQ."

People must be warned, just as child molesters are made to register so that decent people are warned of their presence in their neighborhood.


" I tended not to give cites — that would require work to dig out the info, and I was posting recreationally, as a break from work"

As opposed to the rest of the folks here, who don’t work, so they have plenty of free time to research and post their cites. Laziness is your excuse? Miraculous how Mr. Beck, for example, can manage to have several links in just one comment. My personal belief is that you don’t know enough to find any supporting data.

*******************************

Where is Mr. Fish with his "Can’t we all just get along"?

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Do you archive your e-mail, Henke?
Not my Comcast email - and I’ve recently changed email addresses, to boot.
I do, but I’ll tell you what: in the .PST files that I have here, two of them are very goofed and will not open in Outlook. Now, if you think I’m making this up, say so, and I’ll go through them with a plain text editor (have you ever seen what that looks like?) and see if I can fish it out for you.
You’re welcome to do so if you like, but don’t do it on my behalf. I’m not interested in guest-blogging or in whether you’ve invited us. I simply don’t recall any invitation to guest-blog at your place, though I distinctly recall you suggesting you’d find a way to open your comment section to me and me alone. (which, again, I declined)

 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://
You claim you have the reached the level of never holding grudges.
That is impossible. You are too pretentious and too mendacious to be a ba’al musar, much less a bodhisattva. Even I do not have equanimity, and I’ve gone beyond a lot further than you seem to have gone beyond. At least I’ve read in musar, and you give no indication that you have done even that much.

Go read the real baalei musar like Ramchal or Ibn Paquda, and then go practice equanimity for twenty or thirty years. Then maybe, just maybe, you can make the claim to never hold a grudge.
I didn’t realize that you had to study in order not to hold grudges. I’m simply unable to do so. I must have been born with an anti-grudge gene. You might be interested in today’s blog, by the way, it gives a glimpse into how I look at life (click the link below)

I’m sorry if my writing comes off as pretentious and mendacious. One reason I don’t judge people based on internet postings is that how one writes in these kinds of forums easily makes a false impression of who that person is, especially since people tend to interpret writing of others in a biased fashion (people will take a more friendly view to opinions similar to their own, and a negative view of opinions they disagree with). That’s also why insults don’t bother me — I know that you all don’t know me, and you’re making conclusions based on a warped interpretation of who I am based on a small sample of my writing (and those doing the insults tend to come from a particular part of the political spectrum, suggesting other biases are in play). But this whole form of communication and exchange is really interesting, which is why I do it.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb writes:
I didn’t realize that you had to study in order not to hold grudges. I’m simply unable to do so. I must have been born with an anti-grudge gene.
No, Scott, you were born with a narcissistic liar gene.

We (and that’s a huge consortium of individual empirical witnesses to your behavior) know that you used a pseudonym ("MH") when your grudges overwhelmed you. We know that you are continually frustrated inside your Mr. Rogers sweater, but that you never give up on trying to get people to believe your nonsensical claims about yourself. And we know that you cultivated relationships with imbeciles like Kurt Lochner and Glenn Yeadon to do your insulting for you. We know that, Scott. And we know that you are ready with passive-aggressive forms of insult 24/7.

But we know a lot more than that, too. But all of that "a lot more" that we know always rests in one well-integrated fact of knowledge about you, which is that you are a mendacious liar. A slippery, unctuous, hapless, narcissistic, mendacious liar.

Now, that might sound harsh, but it is the truth about you, and I hardly think that the consortium of individuals who I refer to here as "we," many of whom wouldn’t be able to agree with one another on whether the sun was shining or not, would have no difficulty at all agreeing that what I just wrote is the truth about you.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Jon Henke
"I simply don’t recall any invitation to guest-blog at your place, though I distinctly recall you suggesting you’d find a way to open your comment section to me and me alone. (which, again, I declined)
Pay attention, ladies and gentlemen, because he’s got me. I spent quite a while trying to find that e-mail and if I had, I would have remembered this as well as he does.

He’s right, and I wasn’t.

And I’m pretty sure, now, that that’s the offer that I’d pitched to Dale.

 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
McP
Now, that might sound harsh, but it is the truth about you,...:
That’s what it is.

Nobody is making this up about you, Erb. And it is a howling outrage that you hold the position of employment that you do. If you handle students the way that you’ve always behaved online — a prospect of which I have no doubt in the world — then that would make you a regular Josef Mengele of acanemia. If gives me the hives just thinking about that. In any case, though, the truth simply is not in you. That would be bad enough in any general case, but when it comes to the affairs that you presume to engage around here, I can hardly think of anything more rotten and corrosive since actual Soviets.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
squish:
"I know that you all don’t know me, and you’re making conclusions based on a warped interpretation of who I am based on a small sample of my writing..."
Right here on this blog, I could add up at least twenty-five man-years of reading your crap online, Erb, without even trying.

Now, I’m not going to call that a "lie": I think you really believe what you just wrote.

"Scandalously stupid." Just like I said.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Nobody is making this up about you, Erb
You obviously believe that. And you’ve put a wall up against any real communication between us that I know there is nothing I will ever do to cause you to let go of your image of me. But that’s your business, not mine.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
" people tend to interpret writing of others in a biased fashion (people will take a more friendly view to opinions similar to their own, and a negative view of opinions they disagree with"

ROTFLMAO!

Thank you oh so much for explaining that for me. I was having a great deal of difficulty with that concept. Not just pretentious, but condescending as well.


"how one writes in these kinds of forums easily makes a false impression of who that person is,"

And I am sure that this also includes your own site, to which you frequently refer us to find out what you really think.


****************************
"If you handle students the way that you’ve always behaved online"

Judging from the little example he proudly wrote of a week or so ago, he does.

**********************
"You obviously believe that."

How perceptive. Unlike you, evidently, what the rest of us write actually reflects what and how we think.





 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Erb writes to Beck:
I know there is nothing I will ever do to cause you to let go of your image of me. But that’s your business, not mine.
Indeed, any fair-minded person would instantly disregard the "image" drawn from ten years of often day-to-day if not hour-to-hour experience of Scott and put in its place Scott’s own imgage of himself.

I just don’t understand why Billy can’t do that. Doesn’t he realize that the airbrushed self-portrait is the real Erb?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Not just pretentious, but condescending as well.
This is an example of what I mean; I certainly am not being condenscending, and if we were talking that would be clear from body language and tone. Yet in writing the same phrase can be used in many ways from condenscending to complimentary. People read the posts of those they consider opponents often imagining the most negative interpretation (and vice-versa for those they like).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Written by Erb and quoted by timactual
"...people tend to interpret writing of others in a biased fashion (people will take a more friendly view to opinions similar to their own, and a negative view of opinions they disagree with..."
Let’s get this straight:

What we’re talking about here is the general dispute with this person over the value and moral validity of freedom. That is what this whole long bloody fight with him has been about. And it’s what he’s content to dismiss as a "bias" and/or "opinion". Earlier, he’d written: "...and no one can expect everyone to share their principles and beliefs." I’m the one who pointed out that this kind and generous accommodation of others’ "principles and beliefs" simply disappears under the force of state, which (the state) is his entire political touchstone.

(For high-g thinkers around here: this was the whole point of my citation — all those years ago — of Solzhenitsyn’s account of the Bukharin trial. Bukharin had his "bias". Vyshinsky and Stalin had their "opinion". It was resolved with a bullet in Bukharin’s head. Whether any given case actually proceeds to that logical extreme, that is always the logic of the state in accommodating disparate "opinions and beliefs". And just exactly like Vyshinsky’s bullet — and the "small philosophical transition" required to fire it, or to issue, for instance, an eminent domain seizure order — Erb’s accommodation of the "principles and beliefs" of people who dissent from the "principles and beliefs" held by those who wield the force of state disappears just exactly as summarily as Bukharin’s life disappeared.)

Take a good close look at him: he’s just the sweetest thing you ever saw, isn’t he? Not like me, known far and wide as a rampant savage. No; he’s just as friendly and smiley as he can be, with his dainty manners and his constant pleas for civility, all while he’s doing everything that he can to further an institution without the least interest in accommodating your "beliefs and principles" if they happen to not match those who wield nothing, in the end, but summary force with death as its necessary conclusion if you insist consistently enough on your own "principles and beliefs". You know: the ones that Erb silkily assures you of his un-dying respect for.

Your conviction of the probity of freedom, ladies and gentlemen, is merely a "bias" or "opinion".

Now; an honest socialist (what he’s very often content to blandish as a "social democrat") would simply stand straight up and let you know that he cannot — and will not — tolerate any conviction in favor of freedom. He’ll simply tell you that he will not have it and he’ll resort to force in order to make it so. Erb himself has let slip the mask and done this. (Erb: don’t dare me, son, or I’ll prove it in your own words.) But he can’t afford to step right out into broad daylight like that, because he knows good and well that once his real and authentic political convictions are known to you, you’ll be his mortal enemy.

If, that is, you stand for freedom. You know: the insinuation that he’s trying to sell you with all that respect for your "opinions and beliefs", not to mention "bias".

None of it is true.


While I was writing this and previewing, I observe that Erb has dropped a small load on the matter of "condescension". He really might not understand how this dismissal of a conviction for freedom as "bias" or "opinion" is condescending. But I don’t believe it. That’s because I have watched him peremptorily snoot-off untold reams of high-quality rational argument for freedom based in facts and their necessary logical implications with nothing but condescension — simply an attitude of which he is in no way worth — to believe it.

When it comes to this aspect of his political makeup, he knows exactly what he’s doing at all times.

And this is not contradictory to my assertion that he’s "stupid". This is not intelligence. It’s simply animal cunning. If you were talking to him in person, it would all be exactly the same, no matter how sweet the tone of his voice.

It’s in the things that you say, Erb, far, far more than in how you say them.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php

What we’re talking about here is the general dispute with this person over the value and moral validity of freedom.
Just about everyone you converse with accepts that governmental power is sometimes necessary to protect freedom or even to promote the public good. There are very few anarchists out there.

I’ve gone from being a Republican/libertarian in my 20s, towards Social Democracy back in the nineties, and now moving back towards a more libertarian perspective, though I still do not trust that markets alone can avoid centralization of power.

My main value is freedom, both politically and in my personal/spiritual life. Politically I am adamantly opposed to centralization of power. Governments are brutal, they have committed more crimes and abetted more corruption than the most vicious mafia gang. But governments are, until the culture changes, going to be with us for some time. I accept that, and focus on issues like making governments accountable to the people and to rule of law, to increase transparency, and to stop intrusions into people’s lives.

One core difference we have is that I see governments and concentrations of wealth and power by non-governmental actors as denying freedom. The gap between the richest and poorest Americans has been consistently rising because of the impact of that power. Therefore I think there is a role for government to play to try to address that, NOT by trying to equalize outcomes, and I don’t think just giving money to the poor is a good way to address that — that risks creating a psychology of dependency that does more harm than good. But we can work to provide opportunities, and given the reality of this time and place in human history (and I think we’re at the early stages of human development — at some point we’ll grow out of having governments) governments are the only way to effectively do this. There is our greatest disagreement, I believe.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Just about everyone you converse with accepts that governmental power is sometimes necessary to protect freedom or even to promote the public good."
I don’t care if every single person in this country "accept[ed]" that it would be "necessary" to serve your wife and child up for dinner on a plate, Erb. It would — without mush-brained resort to "opinion" or "bias" — be wrong, no matter how many people said so, and even if I were the only one left to point out the facts.

I don’t do herd mentality.

I’m not like you.
"My main value is freedom,..."
That is simply not true in any way, and it cannot be asserted into reality with rote repetition.

Close your insipid yap.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Erb writes:
[I am] now moving back towards a more libertarian perspective,
I’ve watched much of your "moving back" and your "moving forward," Scott.

Your move to "anti-statist socialism" was amusing. Your move to "radical democracy" put me on alert to your true love: postmodern fascism. Your move to "left libertarianism" woke me with my own laughter.

I loved it when you deplored central governments and then rhapsodized the European superstate.

I appreciated your "moving back" and forth between defintitions of socialism, such as when you defined ordinary everyday volunteerism as socialism but then denied that Hillarycare was socialist.

And when you said that after 40 years of totalitarian communist rule in Cuba that Fidel was "still better than Batista," well, I just decided that it was no accident that you married into a family of former Soviet Communist Party members. I just couldn’t see that as some strange coincidence.

So, you’re "moving back," all right, Scott.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
And here is a bid for the topic of this post:

"I don’t care if every single person in this country ’accept[ed]’ that it would be ’necessary’ to serve your wife and child up for dinner on a plate, Erb."

I would hate them for it with unalloyed conviction and furious, unbridled passion.

 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Let’s look at that core difference, shall we?

I’ve never been denied freedom by a NGA which has concentrated wealth and power. Not ever. Very occasionally I’ve been denied freedom by a NGA without wealth and power, or rather, no more power than a firearm or stealth gives him.

I am constantly being denied freedom by governments, every day, in every way. Those governments are often put up to the job by "NGAs of concentrated wealth and power". Yet those same NGAs won’t or can’t do that themselves. Yet you want to take the same power that those NGAS have co-opted, and use it against them, as if that were ever a sustainable proposition.

The problem is the initiation of force against others who are minding their own business. And you, Scott, are a straw purchaser of assault weapons for economic gangsters. If those who are more SUCCESSFUL than you aren’t to be trusted with political power, why do you provide it to them?
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
"[I am] now moving back towards a more libertarian perspective,..."It’s a measure of the quality of his concepts — we should call ’em that — but his simplest langauge is impossible. What he’s calling "perspective" is, in fact, a rational grasp of reality. Of course, people of a certain level of experience with him understand that reality is something that leaves him deeply confused and desperately at sea.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Two points Billy:

1. You can’t be attacking me because of my view on freedom because you are very friendly to many other people who accept the existence of government and believe government action legitimate. So give up the claim this is because of the principle of freedom; you’ve just got a personal grudge from old debates.

2. Talking about "freedom" in the abstract sounds good, but unless you define it clearly and talk about what it means in various contexts, it’s an ungrounded abstraction.

At this point you’re not arguing against me, you’re arguing against positions you assign to me. That’s meaningless.

To Jeremy:

1. If you lived in a place without a functioning government, you’d find that even places like Walmart could end up having their own private militia and have the power to limit freedom. They can’t do it in part because of governments.

2. There is also power to structure the game, making it easier for those with wealth to maintain and make it more difficult for those who don’t have it to get it. Who is more likely to succeed with relatively equal talent and effort: a kid born in a ghetto or a kid in a wealthy suburb?

3. Even if I agreed with you, the culture we have assures that there will be governments for some time to come. While it may be principled to fight against any government, it may be more effective at working to limit government by increasing accountability to the public and rule of law. I’d also argue strongly for decentralization of most power (more power to state and local governments, less to centralized national or supranational institutions).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Jeffrey Quick:
"And you, Scott, are a straw purchaser of assault weapons for economic gangsters."
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. And while I’m pulling aphorisms here, this by McPhillips...
"...a sort of lemonade stand Ward Churchill."
...was just superb. That’s exactly the right picture: it’s a Raphael in only seven words.

Man, I wish I could do that.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"You can’t be attacking me because of my view on freedom because you are very friendly to many other people who accept the existence of government and believe government action legitimate."
They don’t lie, Erb. Take a good long look at who you’re talking about. They’re not determined know-nothings like you. This is a case of your presumption — that you are in any way comparable to people who I respect — only running deeper into my teeth. You have no standing in the world to presume such a thing.
"Talking about ’freedom’ in the abstract sounds good, but unless you define it clearly and talk about what it means in various contexts, it’s an ungrounded abstraction."
That’s just your PhD rolling around in the bottom of your brain-pan like a pea. I completely understand your subversive interest in attempting to complicate this beyond the understanding of casual inlookers in order to further the interests of "re-education", but nothing about it is going to serve that interest — excepting, of course, any given person’s suck on your rotten bait. But there is nothing about it that cannot be completely explicated in five minutes’ time, except to a person who will not have it.

Like you.
"At this point you’re not arguing against me, you’re arguing against positions you assign to me."
That is not true. I read what you write on these matters, and I take you at your words.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"If you lived in a place without a functioning government, you’d find that even places like Walmart could end up having their own private militia and have the power to limit freedom."
Apart from the stock commie hatred of Walmart as the fashion of the hour, that’s just sheer hand-waving hysteria, with the least understanding of anything about how and why companies like that exist. There is not one good reason on earth to accept something like that — especially from you — and all kinds of good reasons to summarily reject it.
"There is also power to structure the game, making it easier for those with wealth to maintain and make it more difficult for those who don’t have it to get it. Who is more likely to succeed with relatively equal talent and effort: a kid born in a ghetto or a kid in a wealthy suburb?"
Never forget the French Revolution, children ("Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité"), and how it’s come down to us to this day: if someone else fails, it’s your fault, and you will be held responsible for it with the effort of your life. That is what he means with this point: he is deliberately leaving un-spoken his intention that the force of government will be employed to go save that ghetto kid (nevermind actual, factual, examples of people who succeed from the ghetto), whether you like it or not (see my remarks on dissent, above), and you’ll pay for it.
"Even if I agreed with you, the culture we have assures that there will be governments for some time to come."
"When you’re getting raped, it’s best to lie back and enjoy it." (James Fish — uncloak now, sir, and see — and admit — who you’re in bed with.) And that especially goes for when Erb is getting his vicarious jollies — like saving ghetto kids — from the deal.

I keep telling you people: "ideas matter". Stupid as he is, Erb, understands this much. And what he counts on is the hope that you will not be able to understand what his ideas really mean.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I’ll never forget Erb’s classic mis-education of Bredon in the Nazi gun thread:



Newsgroups: alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater, alt.society.liberalism, alt.politics.clinton, talk.politics.misc
From: bre...@no-spam.com
Date: 1999/04/07
Subject: Re: Lisa Wants to Arm Citizens with B52s!
Reply to author | Forward | Print | Individual message | Show original | Report this message | Find messages by this author

On Wed, 07 Apr 99 13:52:06 EST, scott...@maine.edu (Scott Erb) wrote:
>In article <370B99F0.3B35C...@columbia.edu>, j...@columbia.edu says...

>>Hitler held the German parliament at gunpoint until they voted him
>>Chancellor. He was "elected" by barely enough to get him a seat in the
>>chamber. Without guns for him and his cronies, he would have been
>>laughed out of the parliament.

Thanks, I didn’t know that. I was assuming the "Hitler was popularly
elected" people had done their homework.

How much if any popular support did he have, before guns?

>>He also wouldn’t have had a very
>>successful genocide campaign.

>Quite true — in fact, violence was an integral part of Hitler’s rise to
>power, as he used it to destabilize Weimar. Too many guns also helped
>lead to the problems in former Yugoslavia (see: "The Fall of Yugoslavia"
>by Misha Glenny, and the role of the gun throughout).

>>Would you support Hitler’s right to bear arms in 1933? Would you support
>>Mao’s right to bear arms in 1947? Pol Pot in the 60s? The Hutus in the
>>90s?

Summarize? Weren’t tehse things more a matter of use of guns by
authorities etc than by individuals?

Link
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com
Mendacity, thy name is Erb.
Mr. Erb writes this
Politically I am adamantly opposed to centralization of power.

This from a man whose every comment assumes that the "centralization of power" is a good thing to be forced on the rest of us.

Pretentiousness, thy name is Erb.
Mr Erb writes this:
I’m simply unable to do so. I must have been born with an anti-grudge gene.

Which is a textbook example of pretentiousness. You could have simply said "I’m not going to let your insults bother me", and be done with it and give the appearance of being a person of normal attainments.
But you had to pretend to be a bodhisattva, and claim a level of attainment that only the highest reach, and even then they have trouble. You wanted to be superior to the rest of us. Moses couldn’t maintain his equanimity, and you, sir, are definitely no Moses. You are not superior to me, so stop acting like you are.

That’s how I knew you were a pretentious piece of mendacity.

And don’t deny that you are trying to act like you’re a superior being, btw. Every phrase of yours reeks with the pretense of being a superior being here to educate us illiterate peasants.

Surprise—most of us are more literate than you.

JQ suggests you are willing to be an accomplice of the economic gangsters. You’re not. You want to BE one of the economic gangsters. No wonder Billy has no use for you, not even as fecal fertilizer. I’ll take his honest irascibility over your pretended superiority any day of the week.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
Not to hijack the thread to being just about guns but governments and organized militias have always had guns (or obtained guns) through means illegal or legal—including making them.

I don’t instigate aggression, but I simply want—should I need it—the ability to return absolutely overwhelming firepower without legal issues getting in the way. Understand that, regardles of any laws in place, this is a right I reserve for myself in any case.

From my blog:

But you’re always hearing "but a bad guy did this with a gun". Well, bad guys have always been doing bad things with weapons. Duh. Like that’ll ever change.

In other words, what "bad guys" do with guns is irrelevant. By definition, they don’t care what the laws say; all anti-gun laws do for them is up the price for the weapons they’re gonna try get anyways.

Disarming the innocent is simply a stupid way to try to protect them. It’s as bright as removing the food so the starving don’t get hungry.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
(Ernest: I love ya, man, but I always emphatically suggest TinyURL for a link like that.

This page display is a half-mile wide, now. Can that be edited?)
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"JQ suggests you are willing to be an accomplice of the economic gangsters. You’re not. You want to BE one of the economic gangsters. No wonder Billy has no use for you, not even as fecal fertilizer. I’ll take his honest irascibility over your pretended superiority any day of the week."
Isn’t it curious?

Erb comes dancing around in that big friendly yellow smiley-face, but he’s the one who wants to put the boot on your neck.

I’m the lightning-hurling brute, and all I ever want is that everyone should be left alone to make the very most of their own lives at no one else’s expense.

Again, to hook this to the post-topic:

I have excellent, indisputable reasons for my anger.

And broadsides against anger per se are just senseless. There really is a good human place for it in the world.

Get the children and whiners below decks.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Surprise—most of us are more literate than you.
Yes. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could learn something from you all.

I generally oppose gun control laws, so I’m not sure what Ernest’s point is (though I’ll be glad to discuss Weimar Republic history, that’s one area I’ve had a long standing interest in).

I have excellent, indisputable reasons for my anger.
You do, but they aren’t based on what I believe, they are based on your imagination of what I believe. And, you flatter me more than insult me by all the time and effort you spend on me. You should no by now that those things don’t matter to me. Now, if you want to put forth your ideas and reasons for what you believe, I may be in a better position to give them the consideration they deserve than when I was just treating this as a game back in the 90s. You got me to read Hayek, and for that I am grateful.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"...they aren’t based on what I believe, they are based on your imagination of what I believe."
More rote repetition.

Even if you have to keep denying it like a straight-up child, Erb, the fact remains that all my evidence is in the things that you, yourself, have written and posted online over your own name. And everyone else reading can understand this, even while you keep squinching your eyes shut tight and waving your hands in the air at it.
"And, you flatter me more than insult me by all the time and effort you spend on me."
Stop begging me to stop dragging you up and down your own road.

That’s never going to happen.

As long as you’re online stumping for human bondage the way you do where I can see it, I’ll be here to fight you tooth and nail, to the death. Do you understand? If you and I live another thirty years and you’re still doing what you do, I’ll be doing what I’m doing right now.

Ponder that.

You’re going to grow old dealing with my fury. So will I. But I’ll go to my grave knowing I was right, and lots and lots of other people will know it, too.



 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Apart from the stock commie hatred of Walmart as the fashion of the hour, that’s just sheer hand-waving hysteria, with the least understanding of anything about how and why companies like that exist. There is not one good reason on earth to accept something like that — especially from you — and all kinds of good reasons to summarily reject it.
So you do not believe that, absent rule of law, powerful actors would not try to abuse their power? Billy, governments are made up of people. In other parts of the world where power collapses you tend to get mafia gangs and instability (Albania 1997, Somalia in the early 90s, in Iraq sectarian militias form to engage in mass atrocities). I don’t have your faith that people behave differently as part of government than they would in any other type of setting.

Never forget the French Revolution, children ("Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité"), and how it’s come down to us to this day: if someone else fails, it’s your fault, and you will be held responsible for it with the effort of your life. That is what he means with this point: he is deliberately leaving un-spoken his intention that the force of government will be employed to go save that ghetto kid (nevermind actual, factual, examples of people who succeed from the ghetto), whether you like it or not (see my remarks on dissent, above), and you’ll pay for it.
You make a logical error there. Billy, I said structural was a causal factor in creating unequal opportunity. That doesn’t mean I believe we can use force to equalize all humans. The French revolution was a disaster, Burke’s analysis of it was correct.

Of course people succeed who are from ghettos. It just usually takes heroic efforts and talents. Someone with very little effort can still succeed from the suburbs. But I’m not advocating trying to eliminate all ghettos and give massive handouts. I’m just noting a causal truth — where you are born in society makes a difference on the kind of opportunities you have. People with wealth and power can structure the game to make sure they and their children are more likely to continue to be winners than those who come later, even if effort and talents are equal.
"When you’re getting raped, it’s best to lie back and enjoy it."
Accepting reality and learning to work within that reality to make whatever changes one can isn’t the same as laying back and enjoying it when you’re getting raped. That’s not only an absurd analogy, but an insult to rape victims — essentially comparing their ordeal to the ordeal of someone who has to pay taxes. Come on, Billy, you know better than that!
Stop begging me to stop dragging you up and down your own road.
If I didn’t find this interesting, I’d just disappear. I’m hear by choice, and responding to you by choice.

Do you understand? If you and I live another thirty years and you’re still doing what you do, I’ll be doing what I’m doing right now.
So? It’s not like that means anything to me. You over estimate the impact of you being mad at someone. Your anger is essentially you handing me power over your emotional state. I will not give you that power over me — you should understand that by now.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"So you do not believe that, absent rule of law, powerful actors would not try to abuse their power?"
Save your crummy pretensive jargon for the classroom kiddies, Erb. You might be talking about a local crackhead intent on "powerfully" smashing the window in some old widow’s house to steal her TV, and here’s the point: you’re not going to get away with the stock century-old (at least) false equivocation of the ethical and economic "power" to deliver values at market to willing buyers with the "power" of a criminal to overwhelm his victim.

You’re not interested in definitions — no matter how you occasionally protest that you are — but I am, and I see right through you.

Right here...
"Albania 1997, Somalia in the early 90s, in Iraq sectarian militias form to engage in mass atrocities)"
...is the equivocation. Does everyone see it? Observe how smoothly he went from the "power" of Walmart to the battles of savages fighting for the power of government.

Call him on it, you fools.

And here...
"I don’t have your faith that people behave differently as part of government than they would in any other type of setting."
...is the condescension: if you can reason your way through a matter like this, it’s just "faith". And if you stay with him long enough through his twists and turns, he’ll eventually sink to the bottom and call it "religion". I’ve seen him do it countless times.
"I said structural was a causal factor in creating unequal opportunity. That doesn’t mean I believe we can use force to equalize all humans."
That’s just a cheap hedge of tactical rhetoric: you would use force on your fellow men to equalize all the human suffering that you thought you could reach with power, and if you thought that you could reach every single case of it, you would, and quite without any moral consideration whether it’s right to unilaterally apply force at all. That latter element of the thing is completely beyond your moral calculus.
"I’m just noting a causal truth..."
{whack} No, you’re not. You’re lying as casually as you know how.
"Accepting reality and learning to work within that reality to make whatever changes one can isn’t the same as laying back and enjoying it when you’re getting raped. That’s not only an absurd analogy, but an insult to rape victims — essentially comparing their ordeal to the ordeal of someone who has to pay taxes. Come on, Billy, you know better than that!"
I know exactly the implications of being forced against my will, and it matters not a whit whether you appeal to the sensibilities of rape victims to stand on your side of this thing.
"Your anger is essentially you handing me power over your emotional state. I will not give you that power over me — you should understand that by now."
You can also save your dime-store pop psychology for someone stupid enough to believe it. I "hand" you nothing. And you don’t have sense enough to be angry enough to stand up for yourself in the face of what you’re getting here, for the whole reason that I stated earlier: you simply don’t have a self to commit to it.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
you’re not going to get away with the stock century-old (at least) false equivocation of the ethical and economic "power" to deliver values at market to willing buyers with the "power" of a criminal to overwhelm his victim.
I reject your claim that non-governmental actors will limit themselves to deliver values at market value to willing buyers. You seem to think people with power in government will behave like demons, while if they have power in a different institution they will behave differently. People drive government, people drive any institution.

Also, I did not equate Walmart with Albania. That was a second point of evidence: when rule of law breaks down, that usually creates chaos and violence. There is no reason to believe that anarchy will somehow be peaceful (at base my ideology is anarchist, but of a pragmatic sort — we have to build anarchy in our culture before it can work in practice).

I do not invoke structural causality as a rationale for equalizing all human suffering I could reach; that is totally contrary to my views. I do not think government trying to equalize human material outcomes is at all a good idea, it is a path to evil, a path to creating dependent relationships, and no matter how often you assert that’s what I want to do, you’re wrong.

I do not think there is a moral equivalency in every act of being forced to do something against ones’ will. There is a moral difference between taxation and rape. There is a moral difference between a gulag and a speed limit. I understand and respect that you believe all laws and all government action is force against you. If you live like you claim to live, you live your principles. I just don’t see the world the same way you do, and thus my understanding of freedom and proper ethical action in the world is different from yours.

And Billy, the reason I’m not angry at you is because you’re not doing me any harm. I have no need to defend myself, your insults have no meaning to me. Believe me, I can get angry and defend myself if I perceived any kind of real threat! So I just zip past insults to see what substance is there, what ideas you put forth. Seriously, Billy, if you don’t understand how little I care about insults, you don’t know me at all.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb says to Beck:
Your anger is essentially you handing me power over your emotional state.
I see that Erb has paid up his dues in the therapeutic society. That makes perfect sense, because just as in Erbtopia, there is no right or wrong in the therapeutic society, just varying degrees of emotional well-being and power, or the lack thereof.

Last year Erb thought that when the Israelis were kicking the crap out Hezbollah and Hezbollah was screaming for a ceasefire that it was a sure sign that Israel was taking a terrible beating.

Trust me on this one, Erb. A lot of people enjoy watching you get beaten bloody in encounters like these, and know very well who really has power over whose emotional state. They enjoy it for one reason and one reason only: because you deserve it.

And why do you deserve it? Because you personify the oily depths to which human character plunges when it’s unchecked by a real conscience.

You are indeed "quite intelligent and a scholar," Boris. I don’t want you to forget that I write that with the full meaning you gave to those words when you wrote them about a virtually non-human cognitively dysfunctional imbecile who would come purring at your side ever after.

That was when I knew that you had crossed the river Styx and wouldn’t be making the return trip.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"You seem to think people with power in government will behave like demons, while if they have power in a different institution they will behave differently."
See that, everyone? Never will he grasp the distinction between Walmart and and the animals of Bosnia or Somalia.

You can lead an Erb to concepts, but you’ll never make him think.
"And Billy, the reason I’m not angry at you is because you’re not doing me any harm."
Oh, yes I am, and everyone here knows it, including you.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Your anger is essentially you handing me power over your emotional state.

—-Mr Erb

He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions

When you care what is outside, what is inside cares for you

—-"The Sphinx" in "Mystery Men" 1999

Logic fit for a bizarro parallel world...
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
See that, everyone? Never will he grasp the distinction between Walmart and and the animals of Bosnia or Somalia.
You’re evading the two points by falsely equating them. Point 1: humans make up government, humans make up all non-governmental institutions. There is no reason to expect that government is the only institution that is able to enslave and deny freedom. Point 2: evidence from the real world suggests that when governmental order breaks down, chaos and violence are common.

Now, I believe it is possible — I believe someday it will happen — that our cultural beliefs and attitudes will create a condition where there will be no government or no coercion. We’re in an early and barbaric phase of human history. One reason I find your ideas interesting is that I think you sense what can and should be, for each individual. But you’re probably a number of generations before your time. I’m working slowly to try to expand ideas of freedom and transformation to work towards that goal.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb attempts this one:
I’m working slowly to try to expand ideas of freedom and transformation...
No, you’re working steadily to promote socialism in any shape or form that it can possibly take and to destroy what’s left of freedom in the United States, starting by destroying the ability of your students to know truth from lies or to distinguish freedom from serfdom.

Ultimately, you’re working to destroy the United States itself. In order to do that you’ll embrace any enemy of the United States, and hope for any kind of defeat for America, whether it be one of public relations or diplomacy or actual combat.

You loath freedom, just as you loath this country.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"Point 1: humans make up government, humans make up all non-governmental institutions. There is no reason to expect that government is the only institution that is able to enslave and deny freedom."
That’s completely correct, as far as it goes. For instance: individual psychopaths are known to take kidnap victims and keep them as what are known (for good reason) as "sexual slaves". However — as always — your greasy attempt to tag a business — an entity that aims to trade honestly for values with (again) willing customers — with something like that is an unconscionable smear. It’s a lie, Erb.
"Point 2: evidence from the real world suggests that when governmental order breaks down, chaos and violence are common.
Yeah; like in the case of Korean shopkeepers who protected themselves against burning and looting during the Rodney King riots. Shut up and pay attention, because here’s the point of an example like that:

To begin with, the "law" ran for cover that day. (So much for "protect and serve".) "Order" did not "break down" among those who knew what the right thing was (something that you cannot or will not identify in any case). They stood up for it on their very own powers of moral discrimination, when the life & death imperative called for it, and quite without regard for whether you or anyone else likes it or not. This was no more than their right. Now, of course, I know perfectly well that you can’t have people acting on their own moral authority like that ("They took the LAW into their own hands! It’s ANARCHY!"), but that is not at all the same as saying that it all broke down. It manifestly did not, and the largest big-picture implication of the example is this: no matter how dire your problem is, Erb, there is simply no such thing as a right to force anyone else to help solve it for you. Not me, not anyone.

All that, aside from the daily manifest fact of "evidence from the real world" that rational and peaceful human behavior completely without reference to what you’re calling "law" (which is really the state and the two are two different things: Thoreau, Ghandi, and MLK knew this, and so do I) is the predominant example of human action in the world, and the countervailing fact that criminal action takes place quite without regard for the state. And, of course, all that is completely aside from the practical strawman of anarchy that you’ve set up to beat on (even though it really isn’t: I hit back, I’ve got facts on my side, I’m a far better thinker than you are, and I’m right). All this is simply by way of deflecting attention from your socialism, Erb. You might be fooling others around here, but you’re not fooling me. If, for instance, Rodham can manage to get into office and swing her commie health plans, you’ll be the very first one jumping for joy over it and you’ll be looking as far down the road as possible for the next "progressive" innovation in outright slavery.

I see you, Erb. Nothing you can say will ever fool me, and I’m here to illuminate everything you say in front of people who don’t understand.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"I do not think there is a moral equivalency in every act of being forced to do something against ones’ will. There is a moral difference between taxation and rape. There is a moral difference between a gulag and a speed limit." - Erb
What, precisely, is that moral difference Erb?
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Notice how Erb puts "assault by violent thugs" and "self defence against assault by violent thugs" under the general heading of deplorable "violence and chaos" - all to the benefit of the violent thugs, of course.

"If everybody’s guilty, then nobody is guilty" is how it works.
 
Written By: John Sabotta
URL: http://www,no-treason.com
Erb: ...our cultural beliefs...

You never could wrap your flat head around the Ambiguous-Collective fallacy, could you?
 
Written By: Mike Schneider
URL: http://
That’s completely correct, as far as it goes. For instance: individual psychopaths are known to take kidnap victims and keep them as what are known (for good reason) as "sexual slaves". However — as always — your greasy attempt to tag a business — an entity that aims to trade honestly for values with (again) willing customers — with something like that is an unconscionable smear. It’s a lie, Erb.
OK, I see your point. I used Walmart as an example because it is huge, and the point was that huge organizations would have the capacity to abuse power. But that does not mean Walmart does or would, it was inappropriate for me to make it sound like Walmart was somehow untrustworthy.

Yeah; like in the case of Korean shopkeepers who protected themselves against burning and looting during the Rodney King riots.
Well, yeah — that’s a case where order broke down and violence erupted. In anarchy the self-help principle dominates: you need to protect yourself, no one will do it for you. The classic ways of doing so are alliances, attempts to form agreements, and other voluntary ways of governance without government. It works when the parties involved share a common set of basic beliefs and values. It’s more difficult when they don’t.
To begin with, the "law" ran for cover that day. (So much for "protect and serve".) "Order" did not "break down" among those who knew what the right thing was (something that you cannot or will not identify in any case). They stood up for it on their very own powers of moral discrimination, when the life & death imperative called for it, and quite without regard for whether you or anyone else likes it or not. This was no more than their right. Now, of course, I know perfectly well that you can’t have people acting on their own moral authority like that ("They took the LAW into their own hands! It’s ANARCHY!"), but that is not at all the same as saying that it all broke down. It manifestly did not, and the largest big-picture implication of the example is this: no matter how dire your problem is, Erb, there is simply no such thing as a right to force anyone else to help solve it for you. Not me, not anyone.
The Korean shop keepers acted rationally and ethically in protecting their rights. You are also right that it did not "all" break down. But there was a break down in social order. Those unable to defend themselves suffered. The problem with that kind of anarchy is that the strong are able to dominate. That’s why I don’t think, given the current state in human history, it is possible to get rid of government. If you do, it will come back. The strong will get an advantage and either fight other strong actors to try to dominate, or manage to get enough power to establish themselves as a government.

But I think in communities where people share common values and have a sense of trust, things probably would run very well without government. After all, in most places laws are followed voluntarily; it’s not that people fear punishment, but they simply don’t want to steal, murder or defraud. They believe those things are wrong.
All that, aside from the daily manifest fact of "evidence from the real world" that rational and peaceful human behavior completely without reference to what you’re calling "law" (which is really the state and the two are two different things: Thoreau, Ghandi, and MLK knew this, and so do I) is the predominant example of human action in the world, and the countervailing fact that criminal action takes place quite without regard for the state. And, of course, all that is completely aside from the practical strawman of anarchy that you’ve set up to beat on (even though it really isn’t: I hit back, I’ve got facts on my side, I’m a far better thinker than you are, and I’m right). All this is simply by way of deflecting attention from your socialism, Erb. You might be fooling others around here, but you’re not fooling me. If, for instance, Rodham can manage to get into office and swing her commie health plans, you’ll be the very first one jumping for joy over it and you’ll be looking as far down the road as possible for the next "progressive" innovation in outright slavery.
First, I oppose national health insurance. I supported the effort in the 90s, but after thinking through it, and thinking about Hayek’s argument, I realized that especially in a country this size, it would almost certainly be a disasterous attempt at big government centralization. I also don’t trust Hillary as a politician, she wants power too badly. Never trust a politician who really wants power. Unfortunately, the only ones that can suffer what it takes to become President are the ones with an indulgent appetite for power.

I agree completely that most humans choose good — rational and peaceful human behavior is dominant. Gandhi, MLK, Thoreau and you are right on that count. That’s why I think ultimately we are heading for a society that is essentially an anarchy.

My argument harkens back to Burke’s argument against the French revolution. Burke noted that populations are held together by common cultural values and beliefs. If change is done in the name of reason and rationality, and that goes against current cultural norms, order can break down and people can engage in barbarism not out of petty criminal instinct, but because they think they are serving the greater good by creating the "right" system. That is why I distrust ideology, it makes it easy to rationalize taking power (like Lenin or Pol Pot did) to create the perfect system. And yes, that happens in democratic states like our own.

The problem is I’m more realist/pragmatist. Yes, we’re far from the ideal, but that’s the world we have and have to work with. You’re more idealist, you will stand on principle and live your entire life based on how you believe the world ought to be according to your principle. I also think the fact I’m essentially not a materialist and my belief system is based more on spirituality (which I know you mock, go ahead) my focus ends up being quite different. And I can best illustrate that by answering Ironbear:

"I do not think there is a moral equivalency in every act of being forced to do something against ones’ will. There is a moral difference between taxation and rape. There is a moral difference between a gulag and a speed limit." - Erb

What, precisely, is that moral difference Erb?


The level of human suffering and pain caused by the different acts. If a wealthy person pays taxes, he or she still has a load of material wealth and it doesn’t cause much suffering. If you imprison someone at a gulag, they will suffer much more than if they have to avoid going too fast on the highway. Taxation will never bother me as much as these other evils because it doesn’t seem to cause suffering in most cases, and not being a materialist, my bias is to focus on human emotions and pain. And yes, I realize that is a bias.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb writes:
I used Walmart as an example because it is huge,
No, you used Walmart as an example because it is part of the current program on the Left to demonize Walmart.

Walmart is huge, fat, and ugly because it’s essentially a discount warehouse dressed up as a store, and people with or without a lot of money go there to get what they need at bargain prices, whether it be the family-sized package of ground beef or the $89 air-conditioner. Elites hate it because it’s wildly successful and always crowded and employees a lot of people, which must add up to abuse in their minds.

Walmart hatred is currently a huge fetish for the Left.

Always dispersed among your platitudes and cliches, Boris, are elements of whatever the current program is.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"I do not think there is a moral equivalency in every act of being forced to do something against ones’ will. There is a moral difference between taxation and rape. There is a moral difference between a gulag and a speed limit." - Erb
What, precisely, is that moral difference Erb?
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
What, precisely, is that moral difference Erb?
As I stated: The level of human suffering and pain caused by the different acts. Morality relates to the human misery it causes. Murder is the most immoral act because it ends life completely (and thus things like war and abortion become very controversial because proponents say these are legitimate ways to end life). Stealing a paper clip is less severe than stealing someones’ paycheck because of the impact it makes.

The morality of an act is based on its impact on humans.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I used Walmart as an example because it is huge, and the point was that huge organizations would have the capacity to abuse power."
Observe, kids, that market success is an element of Erb’s stated standard of evil.

Do you understand?
"Well, yeah — that’s a case where order broke down..."
...except, of course, for the actions of those defending against predation. But you’re not going to see Erb grasping that as an example of spontaneous order — arising without the state — in action.
"In anarchy the self-help principle dominates: you need to protect yourself, no one will do it for you."
You might think that’s a bad thing, Erb, as you obviously do, but that doesn’t matter: I don’t have that problem, and I have no moral obligation to help you solve your problem, through the state or any other way.
"It works when the parties involved share a common set of basic beliefs and values. It’s more difficult when they don’t."
That’s right: sometimes, one simply has to get out a shotgun and start blasting the bad guys’ worthless heads off. Me? I’d rather play my guitars, but, sometimes, things are "more difficult". {shrug} I can hang, either way.
"First, I oppose national health insurance."
I don’t have a single reason in the world to believe that. Like I’ve said, "You’ve got a long, long row to hoe." When you can make a a completely integrated case for that assertion, I might get interested.

And McPhillips is entirely correct about you and that Walmart hairball, your eventual disclaimer notwithstanding. Socialism is your default, reset position, and that’s why you did that.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Apologies. For some reason my earlier comment posted twice. But thank you for non-answering it twice, Erb. ;]
"The level of human suffering and pain caused by the different acts. If a wealthy person pays taxes, he or she still has a load of material wealth and it doesn’t cause much suffering. If you imprison someone at a gulag, they will suffer much more than if they have to avoid going too fast on the highway. Taxation will never bother me as much as these other evils because it doesn’t seem to cause suffering in most cases, and not being a materialist, my bias is to focus on human emotions and pain. And yes, I realize that is a bias." - Erb
Ah. So it *IS* both possible and preferable to be jest a little bit pregnant, huh?

You didn’t explicate or define a moral difference. You stated a level of immorality that was acceptable to you. Your second answer came closer, perhaps, but it’s still not there: it’s a measure of what degree of immorality is acceptable in your eyes.

Try again.

I will give you credit though for a marvelous example of typing a lot while saying nothing of substance. Now... answer the question, and be precise.


PS: Formatting question for Dale or McQ. Does your comments accept embedded links in < a href= > format rather than that TinyUrl crap? I agree with Billy on not stretching the page across infinity, but I detest TinyUrl.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Observe, kids, that market success is an element of Erb’s stated standard of evil.
NO! I have not claimed Walmart is evil. It is not. I shop there.

You really didn’t deal with my post except to say you don’t believe me when I oppose national health insurance or assert I think it’s a bad thing that in anarchy the self-help principle dominates (it’s neither bad nor good, it’s just reality). But there was a lot you didn’t respond to. Perhaps I’m not what you thought I was?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"And I can best illustrate that by answering Ironbear:" - Erb
*snork* That remains to be seen.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
"As I stated: The level of human suffering and pain caused by the different acts. Morality relates to the human misery it causes.
And yet, you never stop to consider the "human misery" caused by the "different acts" of government on individual humans. That’s where the whole concept of it is lost on you. Watch this:
"Stealing a paper clip is less severe than stealing someones’ paycheck because of the impact it makes."
You have no way of knowing that, but it’s pretty bloody easy for you to sit there and just assert it out of thin air. Look: we could posit a fabulously wealthy individual who wouldn’t think twice about losing a paycheck, but who would be completely scandalized if someone nicked a paper clip off his desk. Now, anyone else might think that just nutty, but since it’s not their paper clip, they’ve got nothing to say about it. That sort of moral authority only comes with ownership.

You constantly moan that I never engage you on "substance". Well, you bloody moron, I’ve pointed out to you over and over and over and over that you simply are not morally competent to dismiss other peoples’ values the way that you always do.
"The morality of an act is based on its impact on humans."
You rotten pig liar. For the whole time you’ve known me, I’ve been telling you about the "impact" of government on my life, and you’ve never been anything but content to just sneer it off. Don’t even dare act like you’re standing on principle here, because I know that you’re just using what kind of sounds like a principle to make it up as you go along.

Drop dead.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Ironbear:
"You didn’t explicate or define a moral difference. You stated a level of immorality that was acceptable to you."
That’s exactly right. That is exactly what he did.

Very good.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"I have not claimed Walmart is evil. It is not. I shop there."
Well, that only makes you a hypocrite. Why on earth would you take a chance on cultivating the Walmart SS Division?
You really didn’t deal with my post except to say you don’t believe me when I oppose national health insurance or assert I think it’s a bad thing that in anarchy the self-help principle dominates (it’s neither bad nor good, it’s just reality). But there was a lot you didn’t respond to. Perhaps I’m not what you thought I was?"
You’re exactly what I’ve always said you are.

If you think you’re going to skate on a paper-thin one-off about "national health insurance", you’ve got another thing coming.

And I understand every single one of your insinuations about anarchy, just like I said.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"That’s exactly right. That is exactly what he did.

Very good." - Billy
I’ve always been precocious. *wolf grin*
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Correction, Billy.
He stated there is no such thing as morality.
His so called standard is the one used by totalitarians and dictators to justify their immorality. It’s the standard used by every politician and every interfere-ist in the world, because they use it as a screen to hide the fact that they have no morality.


So it’s natural for Erb the Mendacious to use it.
And, since he doesn’t believe in morality, he has to believe in government. He can’t imagine a state in which people do moral things because they freely choose to do so.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
"Just about everyone you converse with accepts that governmental power is sometimes necessary to protect freedom..."

Government, by definition, destroys freedom, so what this really says is that freedom must be destroyed to protect freedom.
 
Written By: Matt
URL: http://
Scott, re: paperclip...

It doesn’t matter how much or how little, or what you want to obtain or accomplish, for yourself or for other people, for now or for in the future. If you promote, wish, decide, or try to achieve it through the use of government (which is: the use of coercion), you are an active/inactive thief or you are a thief by proxy—or some combination of both.

It’s like mosquitos, leeches, or oxpeckers are all bloodsuckers—and diatonics, chromatics, Vinettas and Hohner’s "Little Lady" are all harmonicas. It’s not a matter of size or amount, it’s a matter of identity.

I know these are clear and harsh terms, but morality is really not a numbers game, at least not beyond binary: right/wrong, will/won’t, yes/no, on/off, is/isn’t, do/don’t, coercive/voluntary, aggressive/defensive, you/I. The number of players is irrelevant.

There are really only two reasons why people act immorally: malice in support of avarice, and/or a careless but inherently arrogant desire for expediency.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Erb: Taxation will never bother me as much as these other evils because it doesn’t seem to cause suffering in most cases...

So gutters this unctuous heap while his slippy hands are scrambling through my pockets.

Erb? My concept of justice involves you twenty feet up in the air on an impaling pole — where you’d have all the time in the world to learn about "suffering".
 
Written By: Mike Schneider
URL: http://
You know what, Mike? I understand your impulse. Believe me.

Over a long time, however, I’ve concluded that in cases like this, I generally do a lot better with examples of "suffering" at the hands of government that are completely conceptually valid, and that creeps like Erb have to arbitrarily dismiss or grasp in radical defiance of the principles that they actually hold.

And that is how to "impale" people like him.

For twenty-five years after their youngest child left public schools, my parents coughed up outrageous sums to The Vampire State in school extortion. I could tell him how they suffered over that, and it might just end up being another Pearls Before Swine moment. But human beings would understand it.

My father would have built a new house. Standing on his own land that he broke his neck to buy, and with a hammer in his hand and a plan in his mind — just talking about the money, now, and not addressing being set upon by chiseling petit-commissars and their zoning and construction "codes" — that was the dream of the second half of his life.

He didn’t get to do that.

And there is some dispute over this in the family, but I know what I’m talking about:

It broke his heart.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"As I stated: The level of human suffering and pain caused by the different acts. Morality relates to the human misery it causes." - Erb
Commercial fishermen like Wintersteen are required by law to toss these fish overboard, or risk huge fines and the confiscation of their boats.

Kelo Comes To Washington

Loss of livlihood, property confiscation...
If a wealthy person pays taxes, he or she still has a load of material wealth and it doesn’t cause much suffering." - Erb
Yeppers. Taxes are never the equivalent of a sentance to a gulag. Nope. Never ever.

I’ll note in passing that there’s a reasonable assumption that Susan Kelo paid her taxes and property taxes, rather than evading them. New London still took away her home, and then charged her rent on it for the time spent adjudicating the issue.
[Look it up: not gonna do all the damn work fer yas.]
If you imprison someone at a gulag, they will suffer much more than if they have to avoid going too fast on the highway. " - Erb
officer Fredrick Harris was convicted today of raping a woman he stopped for a traffic violation

Irvine cop ejaculates on a motorist but escapes criminal liability...

Possible rape case involves SLC officer

That’s funny. Traffic stops sometimes seem to look just like rape. Whoda thunk it?

officer pepper-sprayed an 85-year-old man during a traffic stop

And assault, too.

North Dakota Gives Police Profit Incentive for Property Seizure

"Following a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit decision last August, North Dakota Highway Patrol members will be able to take money from any motorist driving with a large amount of cash, even if there is no evidence that a crime has been committed."

I’m seeing the moral difference between a traffic stop and robbery now! You? (o0)

Fed Court: Dying Woman Can’t Use Medical Marijuana

Botched Drug Raid Kills Ex-Marine...

Sometimes government action looks a lot like murder....

Charge Dropped in Taped Bartender Attack

Chicago Police Officer Attacks Female Bartender

Skate Boarder Knocked Down By Police Officer

Sometimes it looks a LOT like assault.

City Asks Court Not to Unseal Police Spy Files

It’s usually *awfully* secretive.

So, have you heard the one about the woman who’s 7-year old son was arrested for the crime of sitting on a dirt bike? Kind of a non-moving violation. It’s a laugh a minute for a pain-feeler like you.

Of course, I’ll agree with you, Erb. These are only isolated instances.
"Taxation will never bother me as much as these other evils because it doesn’t seem to cause suffering in most cases, and not being a materialist, my bias is to focus on human emotions and pain." - Erbie
Yeah, I’ll just bet it is. Your empathy for the pain of people just oozes out of yas. Eeew. Ick.

No, somehow Erbie, I don’t think that’s your bias.


So, I’ll ask you again, Erb: what’s the intrinsic moral difference, boy?

"Just about everyone you converse with accepts that governmental power is sometimes necessary to protect freedom..."

And taxin’s just another word for - we gotsa right to steal! ;]

*ahem* Sorry. Sometimes quotes set off my joplin reflex.

What’s the moral difference, Erbie?
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
"Over a long time, however, I’ve concluded that in cases like this, I generally do a lot better with examples of "suffering" at the hands of government that are completely conceptually valid, and that creeps like Erb have to arbitrarily dismiss or grasp in radical defiance of the principles that they actually hold.

And that is how to "impale" people like him."
- Beck
Ah dunno, Billy. Mike’s concept is a LOT more satisfying. And it involves a hell of a lot less typing and google. ;)

How about we compromise at "Tar, feathers, and run out of town on a rail"? ;]
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
"Ernest: I love ya, man, but I always emphatically suggest TinyURL for a link like that."

Sorry, I didn’t mean to drop a width bomb here, but you know how Erb writhes and whines when you quote his actual statements and, in this case, their context and effects. I’ll use that in the future when and if I do another Google Groups quote.


As you may no doubt remember, Erb mis-educated ’lil furry Bredon after she showed more actual knowledge of the rise of Naziism that the "political scientist" did.
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com
Ps. — Let’s talk about "anger" some more.

If I’d thought there would ever have been a chance at success, I would have risked my own life in battle to save my Dad’s spirit.

I mean it: I would have killed these crummy sonsofbitches all day long with a song in my heart.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Oh, I know, Ernest. You know I know. He deserves to have his nose rubbed in it every single time someone even just takes up the whim to do it, and the material is that copious.

Ironbear — excellent job with all the object-lessons. Now; let’s watch him dance.

I know what you mean about tar & feathers & rails. Just the other day, I suggested that very thing for the mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., right out loud at my place. But look: there is no comparison between the example of a stupid little village board meeting and a discussion like this one; the intellectual depth and acuity of this completely outstrips that because the premises of a meeting like that are already stipulated at the moment you walk in the door. In something like this, here, the premises are open to direct conceptual attack. And a very good way to do that is to raise the concepts to a level of concrete perception. That’s what an "example" is all about.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php

"You can lead an Erb to concepts, but you’ll never make him think."

Nice phrase. See, you can do it, too.

As entertaining as all this is, I confess most of it is over my head. My brain gets all knotted and sore trying to follow it, and I get lost, which is probably a good sign as I do recognize that if you can follow Erb’s logic, you have a problem. I may not follow all the arguments, but I have learned that trying to discuss something with Erb is like sticking your hand into your coat pocket and grabbing something slimy; you may not know exactly what it is, but you can be sure it ain’t good.

What exactly is the impact(morality) on someone of stealing or destroying a family heirloom such as a guitar? Does it have more impact than stealing a paycheck? Who decides? That definition of morality is asinine. It is so subjective and vague as to be meaningless. Which may be why it is so useful if you are the one with the power to enforce such a nebulous standard.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Jeez, you people are busy. Eleven comments since I started reading this page an hour ago.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Gracias, amigo. ;]

Let’s talk about anger? And by extension, the "deplorable rhetoric" mention in Mac’s post?

*shrug* I disagreed with the premise in McQ’s linked articles to begin with, but I figured it went without saying.

McQ, and to some extent even you, Billy, are much more gentlemanly and civil than I am in ’net work. "The Scream and Leap" school of posting from alt.rec.flame always worked for me. I can fake civility when I wish... I usually don’t bother when dealing with Leftists. ;]

In my opinion, what Will and Howard Kurtz decscribe as being "an electronic primal scream" is probably the biggest contribution of the ’net to the political discourse.

It allows the masks to slip in a way that almost never happens in other media. We get to see a majority of leftists and Democrat supporters for how they really think and view other people, property, rights - and anything that disagrees with what I’ll charitably call "their philosophy". Some rightists, too. What’s behind the masks of a lot of "conservatives" when it slips is... fascinating. ;]

Me? I got no use for civility unless I’m dealing with the civil and the civilized. I respond in kind to the concepts behind what someone is saying, with whatever level of cility or scorn is called for. And with whatever rhetoric I deem best suited to the occassion.

As far as "civil political discourse" with leftists and collectivists is concerned... forget it. They’ve demonstrated through word and action, repeatedly, that they’re enemy of all that I am, and all that I hold dear. I don’t treat with enemies, and I don’t make kissy with them while they’re working hard on trying to legislate my life out from under me.

I *will* make a reasonable effort to keep within the bounds of politeness when I’m commenting at the home ground of someone like McQ who preffers civil discourse - but it is at best only a thin veneer of civility maintained out of courtesy to my host.

On my own ground, or in one of the ’net’s freefire zones... I’ll walk through that conceptual door as far as I care to, with any "tone" I care to. Or not, as I care to. ;]

And George Will can go piss up a rope if he doesn’t like it.

I have had it said to me that "You’re not going to win any converts with my style of rhetoric!"

The people who tell me that always overlook one tiny point: I ain’t in this to convert anyone. I don’t give a flying rats about converts. I ain’t no messiah, I ain’t no cult leader, I ain’t runnin for office. I also ain’t no one’s damned internet secretary.

People have a brain [most of them], and they have access to ALL of the books and resources I have. They can find all of this information if they want to. Majority of them don’t want to - and it’s a waste of my time "playin’ nice" arguing with ’em.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
I know what you mean about tar & feathers & rails. Just the other day, I suggested that very thing for the mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., right out loud at my place. But look: there is no comparison between the example of a stupid little village board meeting and a discussion like this one; the intellectual depth and acuity of this completely outstrips that because the premises of a meeting like that are already stipulated at the moment you walk in the door. In something like this, here, the premises are open to direct conceptual attack. And a very good way to do that is to raise the concepts to a level of concrete perception. That’s what an "example" is all about." - Beck
Yeah yeah yeah. But don’t forget - underneath it all, I’m just a tired old gunslinger. Ok, so a tired old gunsel with a lot of books and a good vocabulary, but still. ;]

Sometimes "jest shootin’ the bastards" cuts to the chase with a LOT less work. *snicker* Even if it is a waste of expensive ammo.

Sue me - I’m lazy. And sometimes I have payin’ work to do that this crap gets in the way of.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
"See, you can do it, too."
Well, I guess I manage a moment every now & then.
"As entertaining as all this is, I confess most of it is over my head. My brain gets all knotted and sore trying to follow it, and I get lost, which is probably a good sign as I do recognize that if you can follow Erb’s logic, you have a problem."
In my e-mail, I have a question from an old friend of mine and Bruce’s from the DIALOG! days, which I have neglected for about three weeks now, I think. She asked me, "After all the years and all the words, why not a book?"

I’m not going to do that question justice right now, but I’m going to touch on it by way of addressing what you’re talking about.

I never set out to study philosophy or economics or any of the rest of it. All I ever wanted to do was to drive light shows on big-time rock tours. In the largest scheme of things, that’s really a pretty obscure thing to most peoples’ ethics, and that’s just fine by me. If I’d been a free man in the original promise of America as it was set forth in the ideas that culminated in the Revolution, nobody would have ever heard of me, and I wouldn’t have a reputation as one of the worst as*holes on the ’net. (And that’s just fine by me, too. I can stand it.)

Fairly early in my life, however, I began to grasp the dimensions of what it really meant to yearn for freedom in what America has become. For one terrible thing, it meant that I was going to have to learn to confront people like Scott Erb and everything they say — whether they actually believe it or not. I was going to have to learn to deal with people who take what he says seriously, whether they actually think about it or not.

I trained myself to do that over a long time, Tim. That’s because I understood with crystal clarity that I was fighting for my own life.

And here is something that I know, and when I think about it, it just outrages me: there really is nothing special about me at all except the determination to to not take the pronouncements of this glittering bromide-culture at face value. In the immortal words of H.L. Mencken: "I myself was spared the intellectual humiliations of a college education." I simply made up my mind to put that mind to work: to sit down and apply myself to the fact that (once more, with feeling, boys & girls) "ideas matter", and explicitly sort through what have passed for "ideas" in my lifetime.

In brief: I took my very own responsibility for not ending up with a brainful of random junk that just flew in through the windows and piled up in a hapless heap.

And here’s my essential point:

If I could do that, then anyone could.

You could have done it, too, Tim, and you still can. There really isn’t much to a lot of this that any average person cannot manage if he grasps it as a positive value to do so.

It is nothing but a natural fact of human life that we must all be professional philosophers in order to conduct a human life, at all. And simply rolling along with a jumbled mash of crap vomited up by what passes for "professional philosophers" now and is fit only for the likes of congress, Katie Couric, and Scott Erb — not to mention almost all of the blogs out there — doesn’t cut it. Certainly not where we’re going and at the rate that we’re getting there.

I’m not here to bite you, Tim. But a slack mind just won’t do anymore. Tighten up, mate, and do the best you can as often as you can. You’ll find that your brain is like a muscle when it comes to this stuff: the more you flex it, the more powerful it becomes.

You can do it, and it’s really important. It just might be the single most important thing that you ever do.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I know what you mean about tar & feathers & rails. Just the other day, I suggested that very thing for the mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., right out loud at my place. But look: there is no comparison between the example of a stupid little village board meeting and a discussion like this one; the intellectual depth and acuity of this completely outstrips that because the premises of a meeting like that are already stipulated at the moment you walk in the door. In something like this, here, the premises are open to direct conceptual attack. And a very good way to do that is to raise the concepts to a level of concrete perception. That’s what an "example" is all about." - Beck
Yeah yeah yeah. But don’t forget - underneath it all, I’m just a tired old gunslinger. Ok, so a tired old gunsel with a lot of books and a good vocabulary, but still. ;]

Sometimes "jest shootin’ the bastards" cuts to the chase with a LOT less work. *snicker* Even if it is a waste of expensive ammo.

Sue me - I’m lazy. And sometimes I have payin’ work to do that this crap gets in the way of.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
(tech-tip, mate: something that I figured out about this blog a long time ago is that if you refresh the page directly after sending up a comment, it doubles that comment. You have to step out to the main page and then step back in.)

Alright: enough. I’m going to bed. I’ll see you people tomorrow.

 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Mr Erb: re "not being a materialist, my bias is to focus on human emotions and pain."

I mean, go ahead, y’know, if you like your life like that, although I think it says a lot that you didn’t think "emotions and happiness" but anyways, you not being a materialist and all, be consistent enough then to leave my stuff outta your calculations on how to focus on it, and I don’t mean please. I have other plans for my stuff and no plans at all for yours and the right and wrong of it is no more complicated than that.

Not a materialist.

Yeahright.

As if your present plans for deaing with the world’s ills don’t involve tankerloads of other people’s stuff.





 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com

(Italics tag closed.)

Edit [Bryan]: Thanks Billy. Fixed.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"(tech-tip, mate: something that I figured out about this blog a long time ago is that if you refresh the page directly after sending up a comment, it doubles that comment. You have to step out to the main page and then step back in.)"
Crap. So it does, so it does. ;[

I didn’t refresh after putting up a comment. I refreshed after previewing and then editing a comment before I posted it.

Evidentally that does the same thing.

Ditto. I’m going to finish my site work for the day, take a quick turn of my forums and see if anyone needs shredding, and call it a night.

Ya’ll have fun now. ;]
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Please excuse my careless html—it’s late. G’nite all.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Moi: Erb? My concept of justice involves you twenty feet up in the air on an impaling pole — where you’d have all the time in the world to learn about "suffering".

Billy: You know what, Mike? I understand your impulse. Believe me. ....Over a long time, however, I’ve concluded that in cases like this, I generally do a lot better with examples of "suffering" at the hands of government that are completely conceptually valid, and that creeps like Erb have to arbitrarily dismiss or grasp in radical defiance of the principles that they actually hold.

"(G)enerally do a lot better" at what?

He’s *never* going to be persuaded by you. He’s not interested in being persuaded by you — because there’s no loot in it. It’s just recreation for him; a way to blow off the day teasing his old ’net nemesis.

That pig is eating up your productive day, while he has TAs doing all his work (such as it is) for him over at Skooland. He’ll never change; and will it really make a difference if an infinitesimally greater percentage learn he’s a depraved scoundrel? It’s not like he’d ever get fired, or anything else of concrete substantial difference.

Billy: And that is how to "impale" people like him.

Given what he is, I value that word a hundred times more without the quotes around it.

He craves your civility, your reasoned discourse — in the face of the brutalities he authorizes — as it represents a measure of compliance, of submission, of servility, of obeisance, on your part. Or at least a willingness to refrain from instantly diving across the room to dig your thumbs into his trachea should you ever find yourselves randomly alone together.

I refuse to extend such niceties to him; it’s the price he pays. Prelude to the Full-Blast, and all that.
 
Written By: Mike Schneider
URL: http://
And, since he doesn’t believe in morality,
If you’re talking about me, you’re wrong — morality and ethics are central in my thinking.

I do not believe morality can be built on philosophical principles or justified by reason alone. Morality, essentially, is based on recognizing that every human has value like oneself, and not to abstract away human suffering or human experience to rationalize doing wrong. David Hume once said that the best moral education is reading novels — to learn to see others as subjects rather than objects.

As for abuses of power by government and by police forces — yeah, those things are wrong and immoral and I oppose them. Despite false assertions by some, I certainly do not like ’big government’!

Perhaps the simplest way to communicate my approach is to note Augustine’s argument in "City of God." We live in an imperfect world, and thus to interact in this world we have to accept imperfections. He even justified war, which is totally contrary to Christian teachings, if necessary for self-defense, other-defense, and under certain conditions. And, of course, you all are focusing on what government does, and neglecting what might happen if there were no government. But it’s all academic since governments are not going to disappear any time soon.

But — and this is the bottom line — life is more than politics and more than whether or not you pay taxes or follow certain injust rules. Freedom is both internal as external. If you let external constraints anger you, if you fixate on them as you go through life, you are giving them power over you in ways that go far beyond the initial external constraint.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"(tech-tip, mate: something that I figured out about this blog a long time ago is that if you refresh the page directly after sending up a comment, it doubles that comment. You have to step out to the main page and then step back in.)"
Crap. So it does, so it does. ;[

I didn’t refresh after putting up a comment. I refreshed after previewing and then editing a comment before I posted it.

Evidentally that does the same thing.

Ditto. I’m going to finish my site work for the day, take a quick turn of my forums and see if anyone needs shredding, and call it a night.

Ya’ll have fun now. ;]
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Erb "The Lying Moralist" writes:
I do not believe morality can be built on philosophical principles or justified by reason alone. Morality, essentially, is based on recognizing that every human has value like oneself,
Note that Scott has stated elsewhere (in the past) that he does not accept that a human being has a natural right (a just claim) to his own life.

That right is "nothing more" than the analytically secure and empirically grounded initial act of reason itself: that the life I am living is my own, as are the thoughts I am thinking. That is the logical law of identity taking hold in the act of reflexive self-possession, as the predicate of all human reasoning. And it is the logical and empirical ground of all morality and ethics. It is the source of the immediate logical insight about others that their lives are theirs, just as your life is yours. We call that the Golden Rule. We call it reciprocity. It can not only be found by reason alone; it is the empirical ground of reason.

And then Erb says this:
[Augustine] even justified war, which is totally contrary to Christian teachings,
Augustine is a source of Christian teaching, knucklehead. War is not "totally contrary" to Christian teaching.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
As for abuses of power by government and by police forces — yeah, those things are wrong and immoral and I oppose them. Despite false assertions by some, I certainly do not like ’big government’!
Yet you fight for it, almost as a matter of instinct, at every chance you are given.

You seemingly rationalize doing wrong, because you claim it will reduce suffering... for example, supporting theft, to support ’welfare’ spending. Big government, again... see? So much for honesty and so much for principles of freedom.

Your preening about ’morality’ is utter nonsense, Erb, because the basis of morality to my mind is based first in honesty. You miss on both counts.

Your statement about big government and welfare is a primary example:
I simply find a working welfare state good for economic freedom
So, you don’t like ’big government’, eh? What kind of government is it, do you suppose, that will be able to confiscate enough funds to support such a system? And what does such a system do to the economic freedom of the people whose money is stolen to support it?




 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://

As if your present plans for deaing with the world’s ills don’t involve tankerloads of other people’s stuff.
I don’t have a plan. If I did, it would likely be to divide the country into small administrative units, and then allow them to voluntarily sign up with a larger confederal government for issues like trade and monetary policy, and other aspects of global politics that would be hard to administer through purely local efforts. This would work great for rural and low population areas, but I suspect it would become difficult in large cities.

Of course there is no chance this would be implemented so I don’t seriously put it forward as a plan.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
while he has TAs doing all his work
TAs?! Good lord, man, where do you think I work? I’m at a rural, small undergraduate teaching oriented school. No TAs or RAs here. We don’t have ivory towers, we have silos!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb writes, in continuing ignorance of how the United States is actually organized as a political society:
I don’t have a plan. If I did, it would likely be to divide the country into small administrative units, and then allow them to voluntarily sign up with a larger confederal government for issues like trade and monetary policy, and other aspects of global politics that would be hard to administer through purely local efforts.
Ah, professor of political science, that is the way the United States is set up. It’s called "dual sovereignty." The original states "voluntarily signed up" for it in 1789. Ninety-five percent of all law you are ever confronted with is state law, and states further break themselves down into smaller "administrative units" called counties, cities, towns, and villages.

Perhaps you’re confused, among your other confusions, by the large bite the feds take with their SS Ponzi scheme and assorted other big-ticket entitlement programs.

You say you teach at an American university, a state (of Maine) institution?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
I wrote: "As if your present plans for deaing with the world’s ills don’t involve tankerloads of other people’s stuff.

Scott wrote: I don’t have a plan.

Now I’m beginning to see what folks are talking about.

Yes, yes...you don’t "have a plan"...fine.

Silly me for not substituting "your present plans" with "As if the philosophy you support, and the state interventions you support" don’t involve tankerloads of other people’s stuff.

Credit where credit’s due, though: it takes practice and skill to home in on weasel room like that. Bad me for providing the weasel room, bad you for using it because you knew what I meant, Scott, especially given everything else I wrote to you.

Not a materialist.

Right.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Silly me for not substituting "your present plans" with "As if the philosophy you support, and the state interventions you support" don’t involve tankerloads of other people’s stuff.
What philosophy do I support? You’re being enigmatic, and you totally ignored what I wrote about my preferred form of government, which would be a confederation with small regional units.

My basic philosophy is built around a distrust of centralized power, and a belief that humans are basically good. (My personal philosophy is that I’m a absolute idealist and lean towards neo-platonism go to my December blog
and scroll down to December 15 for my thoughts at this point in my life.

In terms of political philosophy, I’m a pragmatic libertarian who doesn’t have as much trust in markets to yield ethical results as do most American libertarians.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"If you’re talking about me, you’re wrong — morality and ethics are central in my thinking." - Erb
*snork* Sure it is.

That entire post is quite possibly the most disingenuous and clueless bit of tripe I’ve seen lately that wasn’t written in texterese.

Tell us truly, Erb: you basically just string phonemes and morphemes together like a mynah repeating sounds its heard without any real neural connection to like, the actual meanings of the sounds, eh? ;]

You really haven’t changed since I used to snicker watching Billy and McPhillips and others swat you around on UseNet, way back when.
"Bad me for providing the weasel room, bad you for using it because you knew what I meant, Scott, especially given everything else I wrote to you." - Ron
Don’t sweat it, Ron. He’s been doing that to people for years, and will continue for years more. You’re not the first.

Now you know why us old netrunners consider him a punk, eh?

Erb is a theif, Ron, pure and simple.

He steals brainspace from students that he uses to fil up with crap. If they’re smart - they snicker quietly and fellate his ego to get a grade and then move on without absorbing anything from him.

He advocates stealing to support his social views, and disgusies it behind meaningles mynah sounds that he croaks without connection to the terms he uses.

He steals time from valuable people like Beck, McQ, McPhillips, you, and Sabotta that they could well be spending on worthwhile endeavors, but instead need waste pointing out what Erb is so the clueless don’t step in him.

I once spent some interesting times bumping into the followers of another professor who was a lot like Erb in some respects. Unlike Guzman though - Erb will probably never have courage of his convictions enough to pick up a machete and get elbows deep into the practical labratory of social experimentation, so to speak.

Pure punk, all the way. Wipe him off your shoes before you track him somewhere unseemly.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
’Scuse the speelings and typosity. I jest woke up, and haven’t had yet enough caffiene to become completely sentient.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Erb "The Lying Philosopher" wrote:
My basic philosophy is built around a distrust of centralized power, and a belief that humans are basically good. (My personal philosophy is that I’m a[n] absolute idealist and lean towards neo-[P]latonism go to my December blog
and scroll down to December 15 for my thoughts at this point in my life.
A distrust of centralized power? See: Erb’s rhapsodic embrace of the EU.

A belief that humans are basically good? See: Erb’s embrace of the human lie machine Bryan Zepp Jamieson.

An "absolute idealist?" See: Erb’s apologetics for Fidel, Kim, Ho, and lately the Baghdad car bombers and the Iranians.

As for Scott’s blog, yes, everyone should go there and gorge themselves on it. Learn all you can about the sloppy, confused, self-absorbed thinking that has lodged itself in the American academy in these latter days.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Y’gotta understand that just when Billy and all and Mr Erb were starting their dancin’ was when I was distancing myself from Usenet due to other things in my life, so I never got to see the dancing first hand, and I don’t like to base my judgements about folks just on other people’s say so—even if (especially being the case with Billy and a few others) I really respect the folks doing the say so.

Had to see it for myself.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
"Erb writes, in continuing ignorance of how the United States is actually organized as a political society:"

Yeah, I got a good laugh out of that, too. Perhaps that passes for deep, profound, original thought at the institution of "higher" learning he is paid by. (For some reason, an image of Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" comes to my mind. Perhaps it is the contrast. How surreal. I laugh.). More evidence that the public schools in this country inhale lustily, when he can get away with st*ff like that and not be laughed out of the classroom by the students. It is still a source of awe and amazement to me that someone can go through life, moderately successfully, and still be untouched by reality. It makes me understand a little better why some cultures think the insane are touched by God.

I have an image of some of his students, gazing admiringly at him as he intones eternal and profound truths to them, tears in their eyes (which he no doubt assumes are due to their adoration) from the effort to keep a straight face, while outside the classroom other students snicker as they compare notes. In the faculty lounge, those that must be there look fearfully at the clock, knowing that in a few, dreadfully few, minutes the class will end and HE will enter, regaling them with more endless tales of another triumphant battle in the struggle against ignorance, immorality, and failure to engage.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"What philosophy do I support?"

Now that is a good question. What time is it?

****************************************

"If you’re talking about me, you’re wrong — morality and ethics are central in my thinking." - Erb

"*snork* Sure it is."

It probably is, but only because they are CAPITALIZED in his mind.

*************************

"Tell us truly, Erb: you basically just string phonemes and morphemes together like a mynah repeating sounds its heard without any real neural connection to like, the actual meanings of the sounds, eh? ;]"

LMAO. Like his colleague, Prof. Irwin Corey, but not as well informed.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"Y’gotta understand that just when Billy and all and Mr Erb were starting their dancin’ was when I was distancing myself from Usenet due to other things in my life, so I never got to see the dancing first hand, and I don’t like to base my judgements about folks just on other people’s say so—even if (especially being the case with Billy and a few others) I really respect the folks doing the say so." - Ron
Know the feeling. I’ve been distancing myself from blogging and politics for the past two years, more and more, for similar reasons: other things going on in my life, and I have other haunts demanding my attention. Happens.

I was never a poster to those groups, myself, just a reader. What little posting I did was in a few T’salagi political groups, various tech groups, and my main haunt was alt.rec.flame. Different nick at the times. But I’ve almost always been a forum or BBS runner. My particiaption in UseNet was always spotty.

I did spend a lot of time reading the various Whitewater, Mena, and Clintonista groups though: that was the only real source of non-media filtered information and investigation going on re the Dope From Hope and the Hitlary at the times. Damned near impossible to do that without stepping in an Erb or two along the way.

Bumping into Billy years later when he started commenting at Whotendsthefires was like suddenly tripping over an old friend. Blast from the past and all that crap. ;]

I’m in the pecuiliar position of having watched all of this stuff evolve from up close and personal, goin’ way back... but not having left much in the way of tracks of my own upon it til relatively recently.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
"It makes me understand a little better why some cultures think the insane are touched by God." - timactual
An’ some of them are just touched. ;}
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Here’s a question for you, Skurt:

Just how large could a company get before you’d shoot it in the head for being a "centralized power"?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
What, precisely, is that moral difference Erb?

As I stated: The level of human suffering and pain caused by the different acts. Morality relates to the human misery it causes. Murder is the most immoral act because it ends life completely (and thus things like war and abortion become very controversial because proponents say these are legitimate ways to end life).
Ah, but Erblein, how do you know that’s the most immoral? Haven’t you ever heard the phrase "Put him out of his misery?"

The morality of an act is based on its impact on humans.
Just so. But what makes your values the overriding measure of human impact? How can you tell me that rape is worse than taxation? I doubt you’ve experienced both, and you aren’t me, so you have no objective basis on which to say that.
I’m a pragmatic libertarian who doesn’t have as much trust in markets to yield ethical results as do most American libertarians.
Let’s for a moment ignore the question of whether "Pragmatic libertarian" is an oxymoron. It’s perfectly OK not to totally trust markets to yield ethical results. I don’t totally trust them. Unethicalness happens. But you imply that ethics are a value to you, and then to defend that ethical value, you support theft and murder, which you’ve previously defined as unethical. Do you see why we regard what spews from your keyboard as complete nonsense?
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
Erb? My concept of justice involves you twenty feet up in the air on an impaling pole — where you’d have all the time in the world to learn about "suffering".
NO, Mike! He already thinks he’s God Incarnate, or at least that reality is whatever his Holy Word is this moment.
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
Erb the Mendacious wrote:
In terms of political philosophy, I’m a pragmatic libertarian who doesn’t have as much trust in markets to yield ethical results as do most American libertarians.

—-
Erb, whatever you are, you are definitely not pragmatic, and definitely not libertarian.

Nor do, apparently, do you have even the vaguest idea of what morality and ethics are actually about. Which is to be expected, since you oppose what is moral and ethical at every chance you get.


JQ: If Erb has the Word of the Aeon, I’m off to find a new Aeon right now.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
Der anderer Jeffrey schriebet:

How can you tell me that rape is worse than taxation? I doubt you’ve experienced both,

——

Not as victim, but I have a hunch he knows a good deal from the perp’s end of the matter.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
Erb, whatever you are, you are definitely not pragmatic, and definitely not libertarian.

Nor do, apparently, do you have even the vaguest idea of what morality and ethics are actually about. Which is to be expected, since you oppose what is moral and ethical at every chance you get.
So tell me, what do you think ethics and morality are "actually about"?

Just how large could a company get before you’d shoot it in the head for being a "centralized power"?
I would not limit the size of companies.

And to those who seem to think ethics is having an absolute set of objective principles and trying to apply them in every situation without compromise, I would ask you to defend how you reach your particular conclusions, and why you say other approaches are not really about ethics. Your view is a minority view; that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It certainly doesn’t mean anyone has to accept it just because you assert it.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m a pragmatic libertarian who doesn’t have as much trust in markets to yield ethical results as do most American libertarians

I don’t trust free markets or an An-Cap situation to yield anything I want except freedom. All the rest, including "ethical results" as I might see them, I have to earn and/or obtain by agreement, and it doesn’t matter whether I want the stuff for me or someone else.

Don’t you get it? This "pragmatic" "ethical results" stuff you’re tossing about is just what I meant when I wrote a careless but inherently arrogant desire for expediency.

Look, I live in Canada, one of the grand homes of "you get it for *free* (please and I apologize but...it’s the word they use) whether you want it or not" when it comes to medical care and employment insurance and welfare and lots of other such stuff—so I actually think there’s every chance my life would be lots tougher day-to-day in many many ways under An-Cap than it is now, and I’m sure the same would be the case for many other people—but so what. No one ever promised me a utopia and I don’t expect one.

You’re like a kid in a candy store couching your desires with stuff like "but I just want the healthy candies, I honestly hate the bad candies mom, really-really, and I really-really only want ’em for my friends too, honest" and the State is the mother you want to provide it, as in "just a little bit, mom, puh-leeze...it’s not for meeeeee, honest....take the money from Uncle Bob or brother Phil or the next door neighbour, mom, if you don’t have enough yourself but I want the candy. After all, folks shouldn’t have to live without candeeeeeeeeeee"
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Erb writes:
to those who seem to think ethics is having an absolute set of objective principles and trying to apply them in every situation without compromise, I would ask you to defend how you reach your particular conclusions, and why you say other approaches are not really about ethics. Your view is a minority view; that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It certainly doesn’t mean anyone has to accept it just because you assert it.
Aside from the slippery backslide into vagueness, the straw man set-up, the black-out on arguments made over and over again, and the mewling "your view is a minority view," as if that could say anything about a view of ethics, that statement has absolutely nothing to it.

Ethics, by the way Erb, does have an absolute set of objective principles, and when they are properly understood the whole world of ethics lights right up in front of you. Not every question is an easy one, but there are far more instances of absolute ethical clarity than there are ethical dilemmas, and even those can be brought to clarity if you know what the fundamental principles are.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/

You’re like a kid in a candy store couching your desires
What desires? You make a lot of accusations, but I’m not sure what you’re basing them on. Also, is elimination of government the path to full freedom, in your view? Is a world without governments a world of pure freedom?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
(This comment simply would not post here.

"You have attempted to enter a comment using a blacklisted term, or your IP Address has been banned. Your comment cannot be saved until the offending term has been eliminated, or the IP Address ban has been lifted by a blog administrator."

Quite odd. Dunno, but I once had something kind of like this happen at my place, and it turned out I was using a word in the post that’s a host system command, and therefore illegal. I don’t recall what it was, but I’ll probably remember the next time I pick that word.)


[DALE EDITS: This is the comment Billy was trying to post. I don’t know why the blacklist killed it,m but here it is.]

"I do not believe morality can be built on philosophical principles or justified by reason alone. Morality, essentially, is based on recognizing that every human has value like oneself, and not to abstract away human suffering or human experience to rationalize doing wrong. David Hume once said that the best moral education is reading novels — to learn to see others as subjects rather than objects."
Gibberish. Word-salad nonsense.

When you do that, Skurt, it’s just some of the most powerful evidence possible that you’re a first-class waterhead. So, morality can’t be built on philosophical principles, huh? Okay, what’s it built on? The principles of poker? Hmm? Rubber-band balls? Cast-off Dan Rather screeds from his days with the CBS Evening Puppet-Show? It can’t be "justified" (the word he’s groping for is "validated", kids) by reason alone, huh? Fine, then: how do you do it? Cast chicken-bones in the parking lot? Take photographs of your morning dump down to the nice gypsy lady for a reading?

The worst skeptic since the Dark Ages suggests that you read novels for a moral education, but you’re not supposed to reason your way through it. Whaddya, get your mommy to read it to you and then hold it up next to your head so it’ll seep through your ear-holes, or what? What novels? Bret Easton Ellis, perhaps, or does it matter?

You are a pile of mush, Erb, dreaming that you could hold a machine gun. The thing that’s actually horrifying about you — aside from the fact that you’re employed to build young Frankensteins — is that you’re able to string words together just well enough to be plausible to a whole swathe of outright retards.


Think about that, ladies & gentlemen. The real danger in Scott Erb is that a considerable number of people in this culture would regard him as some kind of authority. (After all; he "teaches this stuff". Just ask him.)

(McP — "Augustine is a source of Christian teaching, knucklehead." {laff, laff, laff} Lorenzo Squarf once asked, "Do you have any idea what it takes to actually ’astound’ someone?" Well, this idiot does it all the time. There is no other way to describe the rolling sensation of understanding that this creature has attained the position that he has.)

Danger, people. Danger.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I never set out to study philosophy or economics or any of the rest of it...

Fairly early in my life, however, I began to grasp the dimensions of what it really meant to yearn for freedom in what America has become...

I trained myself to do that over a long time, Tim. That’s because I understood with crystal clarity that I was fighting for my own life.

And here is something that I know, and when I think about it, it just outrages me: there really is nothing special about me at all except the determination to to not take the pronouncements of this glittering bromide-culture at face value. In the immortal words of H.L. Mencken: "I myself was spared the intellectual humiliations of a college education." I simply made up my mind to put that mind to work: to sit down and apply myself to the fact that (once more, with feeling, boys & girls) "ideas matter", and explicitly sort through what have passed for "ideas" in my lifetime.

In brief: I took my very own responsibility for not ending up with a brainful of random junk that just flew in through the windows and piled up in a hapless heap.

And here’s my essential point:

If I could do that, then anyone could...

It is nothing but a natural fact of human life that we must all be professional philosophers in order to conduct a human life, at all. And simply rolling along with a jumbled mash of crap vomited up by what passes for "professional philosophers" now and is fit only for the likes of congress, Katie Couric, and Scott Erb — not to mention almost all of the blogs out there — doesn’t cut it. Certainly not where we’re going and at the rate that we’re getting there.
Distilled with great respect down to the fundamental truth.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
"And to those who seem to think ethics is having an absolute set of objective principles and trying to apply them in every situation without compromise, I would ask you to defend how you reach your particular conclusions, and why you say other approaches are not really about ethics."
For a person who thinks that truth is dangerous, that’s a remarkable audacity. Of course, if we delimit the context to you, it’s all quite routine.
"Your view is a minority view; that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It certainly doesn’t mean anyone has to accept it just because you assert it."
{hoot} Yeah; all it takes is to get enough people to assert it in order to exceed the frictional spin-point of your windvane.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
What desires?

Anything for which you support taxation and/or the coercive power of government. Or am I wrong that there are such things?
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
For a person who thinks that truth is dangerous,
Who thinks truth is dangerous? You seem to imply I do; why would you say that?

How can you tell me that rape is worse than taxation?
I hope that is not a serious question.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb responds to Jeffrey Smith’s question about rape and taxation:
"How can you tell me that rape is worse than taxation?"

I hope that is not a serious question.


You do, Boris? You hope it’s not a serious question?

Let me help you out about how serious it is.

I have neighbors who are regular working folks, in their early 50s, who each year get another boost to their property taxes, to the point where they don’t know whether they can hold onto their home much longer. Just a ballpark estimate tells me that they are probably paying more in property taxes than for their annual mortgage payments.

You see, I suspect that they believed that they could pay off that mortgage eventually and begin to have more to live on and live more comfortably at that. I noticed last year that their riding lawnmower broke (they take enormous pride in their property and maintain it like it was precious to them, which it is) and that they were unable to replace it.

Most of that property tax goes to the local school district which spends twice the national average per student and is under the virtual control of the teacher’s union and a cadre of elitist "educator" types who insist that they need more money every year.

You know what the superintendent of schools has to say about it? She says that she hopes that some commercial interests will move into the area so that the tax burden on homeowners won’t be so great. I was remiss in informing the school superintentdent that businesses don’t generally move into areas for the privilege of paying ridiculously high taxes.

Is her failure to realize that a firing offense for an "elite educator?"

So, which is the rape and which is the rape here?

What’s the marginal difference between the inviolability of your body and the inviolability of your home and property? Is getting raped once by a criminal worse than having the local "elite educators" taking from you until you have no more to give, year after year?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"I have neighbors who are regular working folks, in their early 50s, who each year get another boost to their property taxes, to the point where they don’t know whether they can hold onto their home much longer. Just a ballpark estimate tells me that they are probably paying more in property taxes than for their annual mortgage payments."
Two of my best friends live in the village of Dryden, New York. They’re just getting killed in property taxes. Murdered. In both families, both husbands and wives are busting their asses — one family with children grown and out of the house, and the other with two kids, the oldest of which is a young adolescent, so you can imagine what that’s like. The family with grown kids is looking to sell their house and try to find a place where they’re not having huge bloody strips of hide torn off ’em every year, but in the general decades-long depression that is Upstate New York, it’s like trying to bail the Titanic with a shot-glass.

Both of these families are paying more in property taxes than I paid in rent on my first apartment out of my parents’ home in the late 70’s, by far.

There is no other ethical/political/economic conclusion but that they simply do not "own" their homes. They’re paying extortion under the threat of outright theft by the state. That’s all there is to it.

An enormous percentage of it all, of course, goes to the local school district. Dryden used to have — thirty years ago — one of the very best schools in the whole state. These days, it’s a flyblown mediocrity, at premium rates.
"You know what the superintendent of schools has to say about it? She says that she hopes that some commercial interests will move into the area so that the tax burden on homeowners won’t be so great."
(head-shakes) Man, the torture never stops, does it? "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

I swear to god. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I cannot understand why anyone in this state gets out of bed in the morning to so much as stack one single brick on top of another.

And all of it, so that some dick-drip like Erb can sit there and issue ex cathedra commie bulls on rape and taxes, and assure everyone in sight what a great humanitarian he is, with the Looking-Glass portal in drastic red-shift at enormous distance. We’re not only through it, now, but almost nobody even knows what it is and means.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
(more)

And you know what is one of the wort parts of this aspect of the discussion?

It’s this: here we are begging for mercy in the actual real-life concrete cases of good people getting stomped to shreds in ’The Land of The Free’.

That’s what it’s come to: we have to bring these pearls of human life before a fifth-rate commissar-wannabe swine like Scott goddamned Erb, and all while George Will and Howard Kurtz adjust their imperial specs and deplore and wonder at the fact that people are so pissed off.

This is just epic derangement.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"Who thinks truth is dangerous? You seem to imply I do; why would you say that?"
I’ve been reading you for more than a decade, Erb. I know you. That’s why.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Try to repudiate what you wrote in 1995, Erb:
"In any social system a set of moral or ethical beliefs prevails. The belief that government should be limited due to a notion of individual rights is basically a moral belief, and a relatively recent one at that. The important thing is to recognize this — the most dangerous moral beliefs are those which claim to be TRUTH. That then justifies eliminating other beliefs. Stalin and Hitler did this. No human can be certain that their moral beliefs are true. We just do the best we can."
Go ahead: protest that it’s twelve years old and this is just a "pathetic press" and you’re much more nuanced and "moving back" and all the rest of it. Go ahead.

It’ll take me about ninety seconds to find enough like to run right up your nose for a week. I could probably find a good deal of it in comments right here on this weblog.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
the most dangerous moral beliefs are those which claim to be TRUTH
Billy, did you not notice the word "CLAIM!" Saying those who claim they have the true moral system are dangerous is fundamentally different than saying the truth is dangerous!

People who claim their moral beliefs represent the truth, that historically has been very dangerous. I justifies (they believe) the elimination of those who think differently; Marxism was based on such a claim. When someone says they have found the one true moral belief system, and they rule out the possibility that their claim could be wrong, I find that very dangerous indeed.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Billy, did you not notice the word ’CLAIM!’"
{yawn} Take it easy, Skurt: you’re going to muss your hair and run drool down the front of your sweater. I didn’t fail to notice anything. It’s that I know how you weez, I know how you craft yourself in these matters, and I know what you try to insinuate to people who read you with one eye open, which is the whole reason why you took great crafty care to package individual rights with Hitler and Stalin.

You wanna go through this all again, or what? I mean; I could just put up more Usenet links, but if it’ll keep you from crying like a little girl and beating your wife, I suppose I might muster an hour or so of charity.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
why you took great crafty care to package individual rights with Hitler and Stalin.
I believe in individual rights, I think they are natural and inherent to humans based on the natural of human existence. What we disagree on is whether or not that can conclusion can be proven based on first principles or some kind of reasoned analysis. I think it’s ultimately a moral belief that we hold, but not something we can objectively prove. Moreover, you will never, ever, ever, have a culture that has the requisite shared values to allow for a voluntaristic society (and I agree that no governmental coercion and no government would be ultimately the best) unless one recognizes the possibility of philosophical diversity on moral beliefs.

Moreover, my belief on rights is an ought statement of rights. The "is" condition (describing real existing rights as evidenced in human practice) results from practice based on values and understandings in a given culture.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I can see what attracted Erb to the original blog post. That psychologizing language attracts Erb like rotten meat attracts blowflies.

If you can’t make distinctions as to why any given person is angry, you’re f*cked.

Person A. is angry because he’s in a gas chamber, and Person B. is angry at the people in the gas chamber because they arn’t falling down fast enough. Their anger is not equivelent, and it isn’t due to changing times or media expectations.
 
Written By: John Sabotta
URL: http://www,no-treason.com
Erb says:

"What we disagree on is whether or not that can conclusion can be proven based on first principles or some kind of reasoned analysis. I think it’s ultimately a moral belief that we hold, but not something we can objectively prove. Moreover, you will never, ever, ever, have a culture that has the requisite shared values to allow for a voluntaristic society (and I agree that no governmental coercion and no government would be ultimately the best) unless one recognizes the possibility of philosophical diversity on moral beliefs."

Translated from Erbonics:

"only in a culture where no one agrees on what rights are do you have any."
 
Written By: John Sabotta
URL: http://www,no-treason.com
Erb said:

"The important thing is to recognize this — the most dangerous moral beliefs are those which claim to be TRUTH."

Oh, okay, then the safest moral beliefs are those which claim to be LIES.

See, we’re not the ones who refuse to face the possibility of being wrong, either in our moral claims or anywhere else, Scott. It’s you who can’t bear ever being proven wrong about anything, so you make sure never to commit yourself to saying anything at all, and also making sure that you always have an escape clause.

That’s what you really mean by "dangerous".


 
Written By: John Sabotta
URL: http://www,no-treason.com
"I believe in individual rights,...
You believe in saying that.
"I think they are natural and inherent to humans based on the natural of human existence.
{guffaw} Man, you’re not only a liar, you’re a mime, too. A "mynah" — Ironbear spied it last night. This is rich: a whole new horizon of Erbonics. Wait, wait...
"What we disagree on is whether or not that can conclusion can be proven based on first principles or some kind of reasoned analysis."
Well, yeah, but that’s pretty much because bird-brains can’t do that, Erb.
"I think it’s ultimately a moral belief that we hold, but not something we can objectively prove."
{nod} We’d better just, you know, pull it out of thin air, without ever thinking about it. Because that’ll never be necessary. And if a dispute every comes up over the very principles necessary for human beings to live together peaceably in a social context, well, then we can all just sit around in your parlor and chat amiably about it, while, say, black people are chained on plantations and Jews burn in ovens and kulaks strve by the millions and boat people drown in the oceanse in desperate attempts to escape institutionalized savagery and all the rest of it. Right. This is great, Erb. It’s all just going to rain down out of the sky, like the wispy tendrils that flit between your ears.
"Moreover,..."
You’re making a tremendous fool of yourself, Scott. Really. You just need to stop this. It’s a lot more than just typing works, kid. It really is best left to grown-ups.

This is really just maudlin, now.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Jeffrey Smith says:

"JQ: If Erb has the Word of the Aeon, I’m off to find a new Aeon right now."

Uncle Al would most likely classify Scott Erb as a Center of Pestilence.

29!
 
Written By: John Sabotta
URL: http://www,no-treason.com

I do not believe morality can be built on philosophical principles ...
But isn’t this:

Morality, essentially, is based on recognizing that every human has value like oneself, and not to abstract away human suffering or human experience to rationalize doing wrong.
... a philosophical principle?

Rewinding a bit to finish off the first cite above:

... or justified by reason alone.
What is the alternative to reason? Faith?

(Beck expounded on this quite a bit more.)

Moreover, you will never, ever, ever, have a culture that has the requisite shared values to allow for a voluntaristic society ... unless one recognizes the possibility of philosophical diversity on moral beliefs.
You don’t have to share my values. All you have to do is mind your own affairs.


I suspect that by "diversity on moral beliefs," you mean that you reserve the right to declare it my moral obligation to pay to help you rescue those poor ghetto kids, even if I value buying medicine for my grandmother more. The thing is, I recognize that you have no obligation to my grandmother and I would never force you to pay for her medicine. After all, you didn’t cause her health problems. By the same token, I didn’t cause those in the ghetto to be poor.

Why, then, can you not simply agree that it is wrong to force me to pay for your poverty program?
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
We’d better just, you know, pull it out of thin air, without ever thinking about it. Because that’ll never be necessary. And if a dispute every comes up over the very principles necessary for human beings to live together peaceably in a social context, well, then we can all just sit around in your parlor and chat amiably about it, while, say, black people are chained on plantations and Jews burn in ovens and kulaks strve by the millions and boat people drown in the oceanse in desperate attempts to escape institutionalized savagery and all the rest of it. Right. This is great, Erb. It’s all just going to rain down out of the sky, like the wispy tendrils that flit between your ears.
You are pulling it out of thin air, and then constructing a set of assumptions and propositions about it because you feel a need to believe that somehow you have something that is objective and which you can claim certainty about. At least I’m open about the fact that I’m acting on conviction and belief, not only some kind of provable certain set of principles.

Spare me the posturing about kulaks and boat people, my moral code is just as strong against that kind of treatment as yours. There is absolutely nothing in your belief that somehow your principles are somehow more grounded that makes your stand against that kind of thing even one iota more effective or more principled than mine.

Of course you could try to prove me wrong by proving why you think you’ve got something more grounded and objective than what I have. You have a set of assumptions and biases. Admit it. Don’t try to pretend you’ve found some kind of objective moral truth which can be proven and cannot be doubted. Don’t try to appeal to the masses or appeal to emotion by saying "isn’t it objective truth that the holocaust was wrong." That kind of argument is based on a logical fallacy.

To Elliot: Sentiment is as much a human characteristic as reason. Empathy and connection with others is, I believe, a deeper force for communicating essential human values and even truth. But it is a truth which cannot be proven with philosophical arguments, it goes beyond what reason can attain. But it’s more than faith, it is more than feeling, it is a deep knowledge or certainty that something is wrong. I am comfortable with holding on to my moral certainty and acting on it, even if I know that I cannot prove it.

As for minding ones’ own affairs, we have an interdependent world and our lives overlap on numerous levels. Nobody can just mind their own affairs, at least not all the time. I try to treat everyone with respect and kindness. As for government action, it’s currently the way we humans have constructed methods of settling disputes about values and morality. It’s gone from being just who has power forcing their will, to efforts to make the use of power accountable to rule of law and the people. It is in the process of moving — probably generations away — to one where governance is through voluntaristic actions. That can only work (i.e., not break down into more government — if you got rid of government now, a new one would form due to the state of human thinking at this time) once the culture develops to a point where it can sustain such a system. So I pragmatically make my compromise with reality, accepting its faults, and trying to do my part to work towards a future where the world that "is" is closer to the world that "ought to be."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
(Good Jesus... You know, I deserve every single typo over my name when I’m watching DeNiro and Pesci in "Casino" while I’m dealing with the PhD Mynah Bird.)
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"You are pulling it out of thin air, and then constructing a set of assumptions and propositions about it because you feel a need to believe that somehow you have something that is objective and which you can claim certainty about.
That’s right, Erb. Do the words "Never Again" mean anything to you?
"Spare me the posturing about kulaks and boat people, my moral code is just as strong against that kind of treatment as yours."
That’s your delusion Erb. That’s what you think, but here’s the fact: you can’t just mime your way into a moral code, sonny. It doesn’t work that way.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Erb,you asked me a direct question, so I’ll answer it. But bear in the mind the last time I dealt with someone like you, I was in a magic circle and it was inside a triangle of evocation. Good thing for you I can’t throw a hexagram all the way from Florida to Maine.
You asked:

So tell me, what do you think ethics and morality are "actually about"?

Ethics and morality are about being human beings; the essence of morality is making sure you conform to the facts of reality as you know them; and essence of ethics is understanding that your fellow human beings are equal to you in their status as human beings. If you don’t conform to the facts of reality, then in the long run it is impossible, and in the short run fruitless, to treat your fellow human beings as equal to you in their status as human beings. It is impossible for a real morality to be anything other than objective.

And since morality is conforming to the facts of reality, it is impossible for it be anything other than objective. Your moral code is not against oppressing kulaks and boat people; you just claim the privilege of deciding who gets to be a kulak.
Within the last two days, we had a big group of boat people (over a hundred) come ashore not far from where I live and work because they’re trying to get out of a country that turns your supposed morality into praxis. But because the thugs there are honest thugs, they don’t hide the robbery, rape, and murder the way you try to hide it.

I bet you love Shostakovich’s Second and Third Symphonies and hate his Fourth. That is, after all, what a good commissar would do.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://

Don’t try to appeal to the masses
You mean, like this:

Just about everyone you converse with accepts that governmental power is sometimes necessary to protect freedom or even to promote the public good. There are very few anarchists out there.

Of course you could try to prove me wrong by proving why you think you’ve got something more grounded and objective than what I have. You have a set of assumptions and biases. Admit it. Don’t try to pretend you’ve found some kind of objective moral truth which can be proven and cannot be doubted.
You put a great emphasis on proof. But what keeps a predator from just pretending not to be persuaded? What about an idiot who lacks the mental capacity to grasp the reasoning? What then?
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://

Sentiment is as much a human characteristic as reason.
No, it isn’t. Animals can and do operate on feelings. There is nothing characteristically human about that.

Reason, however, is peculiarly human.

Empathy and connection with others is, I believe, a deeper force for communicating essential human values and even truth.
Mindless mush.

... we have an interdependent world and our lives overlap on numerous levels. Nobody can just mind their own affairs, at least not all the time.
Simply butt out when this "overlap" doesn’t involve you. A large population doesn’t change what is and is not your business.

I try to treat everyone with respect ...
Do you respect the lives of those people drowning in taxes?

... I pragmatically make my compromise with reality, accepting its faults ...
Guess not.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
"Reason, however, is peculiarly human." - Elliot
Would this be a bad time to mention spear making chimpanzees? (00)
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Ethics and morality are about being human beings; the essence of morality is making sure you conform to the facts of reality as you know them; and essence of ethics is understanding that your fellow human beings are equal to you in their status as human beings. If you don’t conform to the facts of reality, then in the long run it is impossible, and in the short run fruitless, to treat your fellow human beings as equal to you in their status as human beings. It is impossible for a real morality to be anything other than objective.

And since morality is conforming to the facts of reality, it is impossible for it be anything other than objective. Your moral code is not against oppressing kulaks and boat people; you just claim the privilege of deciding who gets to be a kulak.
Within the last two days, we had a big group of boat people (over a hundred) come ashore not far from where I live and work because they’re trying to get out of a country that turns your supposed morality into praxis. But because the thugs there are honest thugs, they don’t hide the robbery, rape, and murder the way you try to hide it.
I agree that all humans are equal in their status as humans. I have doubts about your statement "conform to the facts of reality." That seems loaded; I suspect you have ideological beliefs about the facts of reality that you bring into your world view with that statement. Reality is; but its facts get interpreted in different ways,

My moral code is against oppressing other humans; labels like kulak and boat people are dangerous as they abstract other humans into collective labels. I certainly don’t try to hide robbery, rape and murder, I don’t know why you make that claim.

Elliot: many animals show some reasoning power; humans are driven less by reason than passion most of the time. We have instinct as well, quite obviously.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Do you respect the lives of those people drowning in taxes?
Sure. But even the poor in our first world society live in material opulence beyond that of most of the planet and most people in history. Most people who pay taxes are living lifestyles of material wealth that put them in the top 5% of the planet today, and probably even more elite when compared to the material status of others in history. For them to feel sorry for themselves because there are taxes is sad; they aren’t appreciating what they have. Even if taxes are morally questionable, the people who pay them are, due to history and their place in society, usually do not lack in material terms. So in most cases, people drowning in taxes are not people who are suffering. When taxation does get extreme (and there are cases like that), then it definitely is immoral.

IOW, you may be right that taxation is wrong and immoral, but the people who pay taxes most of the time are not suffering in a way that compares to things like rape, murder, etc. We in the first world are at the material top of the heap, both on the planet today, and even more so in the course of history.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Why, thankee Massa Erb! Ah knows ah maht be livin’ lak a soif in de bad ol’ days, an’ ah should be grateful fuh y’all’s leavin’ me mah li’l patch an’ don’t be back-slidin’ lak ah eeis... Yassuh. Ah shore does appreciates how y’all takes the tahm tuh ’splain to me the way y’all does, ’cuz ah jes cain’t hep it when ah ain’t stayin’ in mah place lak ah knows ah ott to... Yassuh, yassuh..."

Scott Erb: "At least it’s not Albania here, so stop your whining and just move along, citizens."

You’re not condescending or presumptuous, Erb. No. Not one bit. That’s perfectly clear. Such a noble regard for "freedom" there never was before, and I really believe everything you say about it, now. What an inspiration.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Boris Erb "The Lying Social Scientist" writes:
So in most cases, people drowning in taxes are not people who are suffering.
This isn’t a game of "you don’t have pellagra, so what are you complaining about," Boris.

Americans are being horsewhipped like serfs by their tax masters. In fact, they’re being horsewhipped in the state of Maine to pay for your life tenure as a faculty boob.

Residents of my fair burg are privileged to pay property taxes to four separate governments: county, town, village, and school district. (And local politicians nerve up to talk about the need for "affordable housing" because people who work here can’t afford to live here, they say, scratching their heads.)

Then there’s the giant federal Ponzi scheme taking 12.5% of everyone’s paycheck, followed by the state and federal income taxes, the sales taxes, the mortgage taxes, and the estate taxes (to make sure the dead are properly fleeced). Have I missed anything?

No suffering for those drowning in taxes? Tell that to anyone who drags his ass out of bed every morning to spend half his day paying for it and hoping that the leftovers are enough to meet the things he needs to pay to keep his house in order, like the electric or oil bill.

 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
IOW, you may be right that taxation is wrong and immoral, but the people who pay taxes most of the time are not suffering in a way that compares to things like rape, murder, etc. We in the first world are at the material top of the heap, both on the planet today, and even more so in the course of history.
Thus proving what I said previously:
You seemingly rationalize doing wrong, because you claim it will reduce suffering... for example, supporting theft, to support ’welfare’ spending. Big government, again... see? So much for honesty and so much for principles of freedom.
As slippery as you try to be, Erb, you apparently can’t get past your own contradictions. It’s as I said of Elliot Stein the other day... another ’fine american’...
If there’s one thing the dealing with such people as taught me, it’s that being the victim, (or claiming you’re acting on their behalf) is far more acceptable to them than having to recognize and adjust for the intrinsic contradictions in one’s own politics and behavior.
Of course, what I’m saying is nothing that hasn’t been said to you a few million times previously, and you ignored the facts in each of those instances, as well. But, look, don’t go changing. Do stick to those talking points you keep regurgitating. They don’t successfully cover your inability of individual thought, but perhaps they do aid in your ability to live in a fantasy world.

What’s sad is the government is paying you to push this stuff off on our kids. Everyone’s got to be something in life. I suppose it your role to be a bad example.

Now if we could get UM to actually sell you as such, instead of as a purveyor of facts, our society might have a chance.

Out.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Then there’s the giant federal Ponzi scheme taking 12.5% of everyone’s paycheck, followed by the state and federal income taxes, the sales taxes, the mortgage taxes, and the estate taxes (to make sure the dead are properly fleeced). Have I missed anything?
Your comment is an admirable one, however;

Matter of fact, you have missed something.
I’ve seen several studies over the years which suggest that something on the order of 60 to 65% of the average American’s income goes to taxes in one form or another, either directly (which you do a fair enough job with) or indirectly ; the latter going up as cost of doing business with businesses which are simply passing the even higher taxes they have to pay, off onto the consumer.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://

Ironbear — Would this be a bad time to mention spear making chimpanzees?
Yes, but only because you put the wrong idea in the guy’s head.

Scott — ... many animals show some reasoning power; humans are driven less by reason than passion most of the time. We have instinct as well, quite obviously.
If chimps were capable of composing sonnets, that still won’t make sentiment "as much a human characteristic as reason."

Get out your pencils and draw a Venn diagram, children. This big, big circle represents animals that act on emotions (or instinct). This tiny little circle represents those who operate on reason.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
Elliot:
Get out your pencils and draw a Venn diagram, children. This big, big circle represents animals that act on emotions (or instinct). This tiny little circle represents those who operate on reason
Humans are animals capable of advanced reasoning, but still instinctive. Other animals with lesser developed brains have lesser reasoning capacity, but many have shown rudimentary reasoning skills.

Scott Erb: "At least it’s not Albania here, so stop your whining and just move along, citizens."
You put quotes around it, which is dishonest since I never said that, nor would I. But that’s the only way you can argue with me — ignore what I say, and then claim I’m saying things I’m not. That speaks volumes.

Ironbear: He steals time from valuable people
No, people give their time willingly. There are a few people I don’t bother reading, and many I just skim over and would never take time to respond to (those are people I don’t respect — I don’t bother insulting them, I just ignore them). I choose, no one can steal my time. If I respond to someone, I have a level of respect for them, and by chose have decided to spend some time on their ideas.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
There are a few people I don’t bother reading
Clearly, abject fear is the motivating factor, here. Your ’respect’ is clearly limited to those who do not pose a serious challenge to your non-thinking.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Boris "The Lying Faculty Boob" Erb writes:
You put quotes around it, which is dishonest since I never said that, nor would I. But that’s the only way you can argue with me — ignore what I say, and then claim I’m saying things I’m not.
Making use of an obviously satirical quote is not dishonest, Boris.

What’s interesting about you, however, is that you’re perfectly capable of wrapping your arms around someone who does nothing but lie. Case in point: your embrace of Bryan Zepp Jamieson.

And it’s always a sure sign that you believe that you are in fact losing an argument when you tell someone "you can’t argue with me."

As far as "ignore what I say, and then claim I’m saying things I’m not," well, Boris, I hate to tell you this, but you are famous far and wide for being most upset with your own "old bits" being quoted directly back at you.

In argument, you seek the strawman. Confronted with your own words, you wave your hands or go mum. For honesty, you seek out compadres who lie about things all day every day.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/

Do you respect the lives of those people drowning in taxes?

Sure. But ...
There’s that predictable "but."

... in most cases, people drowning in taxes are not people who are suffering.
I used the word drowning quite purposefully. Read back through the comments and see some examples of specific people struggling just to hang onto what is rightfully theirs. Those people, and people in similar or worse situations (like, for example, people actually tossed out for owing property taxes), are the ones drowning.

So When taxation does get extreme (and there are cases like that), then it definitely is immoral.
So what do you propose to do to help the particular people who are drowning right now? It’s not like they have the time to sit around waiting for democracy to kick in during their great grandchildrens’ lifetimes.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://

Get out your pencils and draw a Venn diagram, children. This big, big circle represents animals that act on emotions (or instinct). This tiny little circle represents those who operate on reason.

Humans are animals capable of advanced reasoning, but still instinctive. Other animals with lesser developed brains have lesser reasoning capacity, but many have shown rudimentary reasoning skills.
{ blank stare }

The point just whizzed right over your head.

One more time, with sentiment: If chimps were capable of composing sonnets, that still won’t make sentiment "as much a human characteristic as reason."

 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
Jonathan Swift in no no way intended that the Irish should eat their children, Erb, but there was nothing "dishonest" about his "Modest Proposal". The the very same thing applies here, too, and my parallel to what you’re saying is entirely valid. It’s the same old ethical problem with you, Erb: you just can’t stop yourself from telling other people what the time of their lives should be worth to them if only they would give up its produce for what you think is good for them, and your consolation for them is that it’s not as bad as it could be, and that they should be grateful for what’s not taken from them by force or its immediate threat ("they aren’t appreciating what they have"). Well, guess what Doktor: they have every moral right to appreciate everything that they own, without your approval or your government’s. And, yes: they have every moral right to be (bear in mind the subject of this post, ladies & gentlemen) "angry" over a blank dismissal of these facts by people like you.

It’s too damned bad if you can’t stand it.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Elliot;
The point just whizzed right over your head.
No, it didn’t.

It’s his way of dancing around it. The move has been demonstrated literally hundreds of times over the past 10- 15 years. The odd part is, he thinks nobody can see it for what it is.... Despite being called out on it a number of times nearly equal to the number of times it’s been tried.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Billy;
And, yes: they have every moral right to be (bear in mind the subject of this post, ladies & gentlemen) "angry" over a blank dismissal of these facts by people like you.
.

Quite so.

Yet, to tie this (loosely) back to the post, there is a different quality to the anger, in comparison, one side to the other. I would point out that the majority of the anger that we’ve been witness to has been coming from the left, particularly in the last six years or so, but also stretching back to the early nineteen sixties.

The anger coming from the right, has been far quieter, and far less organized. Ultimately, far less pronounced.

The leftist anger is, as I have said elsewhere, cultural in nature, and that anger culture advances as it is able to break down our existing American culture.

And that part is crucial, I think. I don’t think that there are many who partake of this anger who are about changing culture for the better, rather, they’re simply changing it because they can; It is merely an exercise in raw power. The damage being done to everyone involved including themselves matters little, if at all. Witness for example the constant emphasis on the Iraq war.

There is an old saying, of which there are several variations I’ve heard, but the gist of it is that of all the emotions, only love is unreasonable. By that, it is meant that only love is illogical and its applications. There is no logical reason for John to fall in love with Mary, for example. Yet happily, it happens many times a day.

Now, also consider; It is also said of old, that hate is love turned in on itself. Is the anger that we are seeing in the society of today, hate? It most certainly has all the earmarks of it. Some of it includes self hatred along with the hatred being directed of everybody else.

What we have in front of us, under discussion, the anger coming from the left, is a reason- less also. The arguments presented in support of the kind of anger we see do not make sense. Never have. Which to my mind, raises the likelihood that the “reasons” that are offered are merely excuses ; they are operating on sheer emotionalism, without reason, without logic.

Which, in turn, seems to explain the lack of logic coming from such as Erb.

So, we are faced with the same question asked by King Theodin in Lord of the Rings, in a different context; “How do we deal with such mindless hate?”

That, I think is going to be the question of our time. One possible answer to that question, is that the un-angry majority, finally gets angry themselves and quietly, like the anti-heros of old, (John Wayne, et al) stands up and says “that’s enough” and displays a little anger of their own. I suspect the resulting display is going to be terrible to behold. It will also undoubtedly take on a cultural context the likes of which has not been seen since the American civil war. This is going to be a happening, that not many of even the anti heroes are going to walk away from, into the sunset. you and I have spoken of this in the past.

But, there’s a backlash building against all this nonsense such as Erb generates, already. There will be a great number ostensibly open minded people, finally realizing the nature of the attack that they’re under. When that happens, and they respond, it will be ugly.

I will quietly tell you that I hope I’m not alive to see it.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://

Elliot: OK, I see your point. My view is that sentiment is human and emotion/instinct drives animals. I believe our ethical base is rooted in sentiment. People use reason to build arguments to justify that which they feel is right. The passion in the ’defense of freedom’ by many in these debates is attributed not to a Spock like logical consideration of principles and where they lead, but a deep personal belief (which I share) that people should be able to live their lives they way they want without undue interference. The issue that comes up, of course, is how to delimit and define appropriate kinds of interactions in a world where nobody exists completely on their own — we are in a maze of interdependencies. I submit that radical libertarianism is an attempt to build via a set of assumptions a rationale for maximizing a radically individualist view of human behavior and using that to justify a particular approach to politics and governance.

I argue that such an effort is not irrefutable. Change the assumptions and core starting points, and you’ll wind up somewhere else. That doesn’t mean I disagree with most of the core beliefs — I don’t — but that the way it gets constructed as some kind of objectively proven ethical system doesn’t make sense to me, and at least Billy, when he defends it, uses anger and assertion in a way that appears driven by emotion more than reason.

Because I think reason cannot give us an answer key, but sentiment and reason together can give us a way to balance the different claims and "do the best we can." That makes it messy, that means I can’t claim to have found or even be seeking an answer key.


Oh, I also agree that the tax burden is often unfair and those drowning in taxes are dealing with real difficulties.

Billy:
It’s the same old ethical problem with you, Erb: you just can’t stop yourself from telling other people what the time of their lives should be worth to them if only they would give up its produce for what you think is good for them, and your consolation for them is that it’s not as bad as it could be, and that they should be grateful for what’s not taken from them by force or its immediate threat ("they aren’t appreciating what they have").
No, Billy — again you are making up positions and assigning them to me, and arguing with that which you have claimed I believe. If you’re going to put words in another persons’ mouth, that’s debate on the cheap. I’ve made it very clear that I’ve made a pragmatic compromise with the world that is, even though its not the world that ought to be. I have no right to tell other people what the time of their lives should be worth them or to produce anything I think is good for them. I won’t do that. But, of course, most people don’t have the property they have simply because of their productive action — usually it’s also the result of past relationships and social interactions, opportunities that come from position in society, etc. So the issue is never clear cut. Still,we in the first world have to have perspective — suffering taxation in the first world is usually (though clearly not always) more an inconvenience than real suffering.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"It’s his way of dancing around it. The move has been demonstrated literally hundreds of times over the past 10- 15 years."
"Beans in his ears."

Or, as The James Gang once famously put it:

"You just turn your pretty head and walk away."

And all the time, he pleads for serious engagement.

{shrug}
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
BTW, while I see in Elliot, Ironbear and Billy similar perspectives, I note that many of those attacking me actually are as much if not more willing to accept government and taxation as a necessary part of the world we are now in.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I’ve made it very clear that I’ve made a pragmatic compromise with the world that is..."
No, Erb: you constantly make other peoples’ "pragmatic compromise", and not with "the world that is", which implies an immutable metaphysical condition — like dealing with earthquakes or hurricanes or wild tigers in the bush — but that simply isn’t what politics is. We’re talking about the conscious decisions of human beings, to include your endless attempts to make up things that are not true and ignore things that are.

Now, you could be a functional neurotic all on your own, but you have no right to chain others to your delusions. And that’s what they are. All the time.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php

Now, you could be a functional neurotic all on your own, but you have no right to chain others to your delusions.
All you’re doing now is making assertions about what I believe which are false. You have a right to your delusions. But luckily you do not have the power to chain me to those delusions. Because, Billy, I am a free man. You, apparently, are not.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
’All you’re doing now is making assertions about what I believe which are false."
They most certainly are not: if you really believe what you wrote about "the world", then you have a very serious problem with facts of reality. Of course, this has been obvious for a long time now.

This mime act of yours is quite transparent, Erb, and complete souls have completely outgrown it in grade-school.

And everyone here can see what I wrote that you can’t face.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
They most certainly are not: if you really believe what you wrote about "the world", then you have a very serious problem with facts of reality. Of course, this has been obvious for a long time now.

This mime act of yours is quite transparent, Erb, and complete souls have completely outgrown it in grade-school.

And everyone here can see what I wrote that you can’t face.
What you wrote is vague, unclear, and simply a false assertion. But it always ends up like this; I try to make arguments, I spend time stating my position and explaining it. You don’t engage what I write, you try to change it into something quite different, then use your statement of what you pretend I believe as a rationale to hurl out some insult. It’s a lot of noise and fury, but when the dust settles, nothing’s there. You haven’t made a case, you haven’t engaged the case I’ve made...but that’s OK. No skin off my back.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

People use reason to build arguments to justify that which they feel is right.
A man of good character does what he determines, through reason, is right, even when he feels like taking the easy way out.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://

The issue that comes up, of course, is how to delimit and define appropriate kinds of interactions in a world where nobody exists completely on their own ...
If you aren’t directly involved in a given interaction, it isn’t your business (i.e., you don’t get to decide what is "appropriate", you don’t get to "delimit and define").

If you’re not involved, then just butt out.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
Elliot wrote: So what do you propose to do to help the particular people who are drowning [re taxes] right now? It’s not like they have the time to sit around waiting for democracy to kick in during their great grandchildrens’ lifetimes

One way or another, those taxes got "voted for". It was democracy that got the drowning folks in the mess in the first place. Hint: "democracy" is not the solution.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
"What you wrote is vague, unclear, and simply a false assertion."
No, it’s not. I pointed out an obvious difference between the given metaphysical state of "the world" (your words) and politics as a man-made phenomenon. There is nothing vague or unclear about this, and your so-called "compromise" concerns the latter, not the former like you said. And if you cannot or will not grasp this, then it’s just more of the huge pile of evidence that you are in no way qualified to teach at a university. Be that as it may, however, I’m right and you’re not. Your "compromise" is not with "the world", and it is, in fact, a wholesale overthrow of your own ridiculous assertions about your interests in "freedom" and "individual rights".

That’s what it is.
"But it always ends up like this..."
It sure does: every time your face ends up against the fact of one of your wrong principles, that’s when you start moaning and bitching about it being "vague" and "unclear". It’s a stock, rote, maneuver of yours. One could set a clock by it. Everyone here has seen it.

 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I pointed out an obvious difference between the given metaphysical state of "the world" (your words) and politics as a man-made phenomenon.
All culture is human made. That is, by the way, what’s meant by a social construction, people have made it. But that doesn’t mean we can just change it completely over night. That was the error of the French revolution and communism: the belief that if they had a system based on pure reason (the French revolution) or proper ideology (communism) they could re-make politics overnight. Burke was right that culture holds a society together, and change is destabilizing if undertaken too quickly. A given political state of affairs tends to reproduce itself; unless there is utter destruction like a major war or economic collapse it rarely gets transformed in anything but a steady manner. Even then the result has to reflect existing values and shared norms/ideas — those are the resources from which a culture is built.

That is my compromise. I’m in a world where the cultural and social constructs are REAL (just because its man made doesn’t mean it’s not real — a building is real, but also a man made construction). I work to change them in the best way I can, in the realm of ideas. And, though you don’t believe it, my emphasize is on freedom and the need for humans to take responsibility for their individual lives, not "blame society" or try to cheat the system, but to live ethically.
Your "compromise" is not with "the world", and it is, in fact, a wholesale overthrow of your own ridiculous assertions about your interests in "freedom" and "individual rights".
I understand your position. I’m a pragmatist on a number of levels and that is very much a different perspective than yours. I mentioned this earlier, but it really was something you wrote awhile back that caused me to read Hayek, and that has altered how I view a lot of governmental programs and the nature of bureaucratic governance. He developed powerful ideas. But even Hayek was one who compromised with the world, at least in terms of the kind of principles you espouse.

And despite all the noise and fury in this thread, there have been some really interesting points made by different authors. I’ve enjoyed this (and if it keeps going, that’s fine).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I note that many of those attacking me actually are as much if not more willing to accept government and taxation as a necessary part of the world we are now in.
Oh, sure I’m willing to "accept" it; there’s something about superior firepower that makes one very accepting.
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
I do not believe morality can be built on philosophical principles or justified by reason alone. Morality, essentially, is based on recognizing that every human has value like oneself, and not to abstract away human suffering or human experience to rationalize doing wrong.
OK, Erb, let me take you at your word. Let’s posit that there could be a moral system which is sentiment-based rather than reason based. If humans were a clairsentient species that could directly experience the emotions of others, arguably there would be no need for a moral system as such. People would not hurt others because it would hurt, as much as hitting yourself over the head with a two-by-four. However, in such a system, there could be no social engineering to advantage the disadvantaged, because you would also feel the pain of those harmed by your social engineering. And the moment that you chose between pains, or had any reaction besides animal stimulus-response, you would be back to "abstracting human suffering."

But we are not a clairsentient species, and highly unlikely to become one. We cannot enter the heads of those harmed by our actions. And when you assume, in each and every case, that taxation is less painful than rape, or homelessness, or whatever the cause-du-jour is, you in fact "abstract away human suffering or human experience to rationalize doing wrong."
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
OK, Erb, let me take you at your word. Let’s posit that there could be a moral system which is sentiment-based rather than reason based.
I’d say a balance is needed (geez, I suddenly have an urge to dig out my old copy of Hemispheres).
If humans were a clairsentient species that could directly experience the emotions of others, arguably there would be no need for a moral system as such. People would not hurt others because it would hurt, as much as hitting yourself over the head with a two-by-four. However, in such a system, there could be no social engineering to advantage the disadvantaged, because you would also feel the pain of those harmed by your social engineering. And the moment that you chose between pains, or had any reaction besides animal stimulus-response, you would be back to "abstracting human suffering."

But we are not a clairsentient species, and highly unlikely to become one. We cannot enter the heads of those harmed by our actions. And when you assume, in each and every case, that taxation is less painful than rape, or homelessness, or whatever the cause-du-jour is, you in fact "abstract away human suffering or human experience to rationalize doing wrong."
I do not think that it is impossible to make judgements about human suffering — we have both empathy and history. Rape victims tend to be scared for life, sometimes having their entire life altered in ways that never completely disappear. Victims of sexual abuse have similar problems. Taxation usually just means someone who is wealthy has a little less wealth to buy things. That doesn’t mean taxation is moral — that’s another issue. But it’s unlikely that it creates the kind of psychological and physical impact of these other forms of violence. There are times when peoples’ lives are ruined by a tax bill that is blatantly unfair and destroys people’s life-situation. There are clear abuses (like Kelo) where the governmental act goes beyond a "reasonable" amount of taxation.

You also seem to have an assumption that whatever wealth a person has is there because of that person’s productive capacity. Otherwise, taxation may be fair in order to cover the benefits one receives from being part of a system with rule of law, stability, and other protections. Even if one believes the only true moral system is purely voluntaristic and that this is possible through private means, this still makes taxation less a theft of what a person produces and more a forced fee for a service that benefited the person even though the person didn’t want it. Finally, a lot of wealth exists and a lot of opportunity exists because of inherited direct wealth or life situations. I agree that social engineering won’t work — and social welfare programs to date haven’t helped much and in fact have often fed into a psychology of dependency that does great harm to the people who are supposed to benefit. But if individual outcomes are not simply due to individual productivity and reflect structural factors, then pure market mechanisms would not be fair without taking into account these distortions. Bottom line: it’s awfully complex, and we don’t have the data and knowledge of true causal factors (and their weights) to know for sure.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb the Mendacious wrote:
Taxation usually just means someone who is wealthy has a little less wealth to buy things. That doesn’t mean taxation is moral — that’s another issue. But it’s unlikely that it creates the kind of psychological and physical impact of these other forms of violence. There are times when peoples’ lives are ruined by a tax bill that is blatantly unfair and destroys people’s life-situation. There are clear abuses (like Kelo) where the governmental act goes beyond a "reasonable" amount of taxation.

No, Erb. Taxation always means that anyone with assets has less wealth (and often much less wealth) to spend in the ways they feel they need to spend it.
And there are numerous incidents in which people’s lives are ruined by tax bills that are not blatantly unfair (that is, they won’t seem unfair to a person who believes taxation is a necessary evil. We will leave out of the matter those who think, as you do, that taxation is a necessary good.
Interesting that you admit taxation is a form of violence. Of course that does not keep you from arguing for it as a necessary good in the next paragraph. Just as you announce you "agree that social engineering doesn’t work", even though you’ve been advocating just that all through this thread.

Another indication of your inability to talk straight is your definition of morality. In the same breadth that you proclaim there can be no philosophical basis for morality, you define morality with a philosophical principle. Taking the two together that of course give a clear proof that you just don’t believe in morality.

Billy doesn’t need to dig up evidence of your drecklichkeit; you happily provide it for us.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
I note that many of those attacking me actually are as much if not more willing to accept government and taxation as a necessary part of the world we are now in.
True; but then again defense of the country is one of the very few constitutionally mandated expenditures. And yes, I include Iraq in this, since that was clearly are intended target.

Welfare, meantime ...as in direct payments from government to individuals... is not.

You DO remember the constitution, don’t you, Scott?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
In the same breadth that you proclaim there can be no philosophical basis for morality, you define morality with a philosophical principle.
No, I said that you cannot prove moral beliefs correct through a system of philosophy. That doesn’t mean reason and philosophy can’t be used to describe and delineate ones’ moral beliefs. I’ve just never seen anyone able to try to completely and logically prove they had the "answer key" through a philosophical system. If you can, I’d love to see it.

On taxes, I just don’t think your absolutist position takes into account the complexity of the issues I delineated, especially the apparent assumption that if one has wealth they necessarily have earned it all through their productive efforts. But in any event taxes are here and likely will be for our lives. Rather than sit back and condemn them, I’ll work to try to improve fairness and stop excessive spending.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I note that many of those attacking me actually are as much if not more willing to accept government and taxation as a necessary part of the world we are now in.

True; but then again defense of the country is one of the very few constitutionally mandated expenditures. And yes, I include Iraq in this, since that was clearly are intended target.
Iraq is the essence of a big government social engineering program. We won the war within three weeks, now we want to reshape their political system. Iraq should be grabbed by libertarians and conservatives as an example of how social engineering doesn’t work!

But the arguments against me by the anarcho-capitalist crowd are just as much against you; you want to determine how another person’s wealth gets used.
Welfare, meantime ...as in direct payments from government to individuals... is not.
Neither Iraq nor welfare payments are necessary in this world. It’s hard to see Iraq as a defensive war!!!


You DO remember the constitution, don’t you, Scott?
Perhaps my favorite document of all time.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
taxation may be fair in order to cover the benefits one receives from being part of a system with rule of law, stability, and other protections
You will buy these products and services. You will buy them from us. If you don’t buy them from us, you go to jail. If you run when we jail you, we will shoot you. We have, and allow, no competition for these services. We, however, assure you that you have benefited and we assure you the price is justifiable. You will be paying for your use, past use by your parents (through which your benefit and debt increased), and future use by your progeny. Trust us, had we not been in charge, things would have been much worse.

Or:

Why would I be wrong to assume by the logic in the above quote, the Hitler Youth actually owed the German State its support and would have been remiss to withhold it. After all, it was the State that had provided these citizens with their educations and the form and function of the economy and welfare systems.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
You also seem to have an assumption that whatever wealth a person has is there because of that person’s productive capacity.
Why would that make any difference? Is this "fairness" according to Erb?
All culture is human made. That is, by the way, what’s meant by a social construction, people have made it. But that doesn’t mean we can just change it completely over night. That was the error of the French revolution and communism: the belief that if they had a system based on pure reason (the French revolution) or proper ideology (communism) they could re-make politics overnight.
No. This is something you won’t be able to get your arms around, but here ’tis:

The error there was trying to create cultural change by government fiat. Government was originally designed to support cultures, not the reverse. Every time government has tried to change culture has been a disaster for both the government and the culture Culture will in the longer term, always trump government. Every single time.
No, I said that you cannot prove moral beliefs correct through a system of philosophy. That doesn’t mean reason and philosophy can’t be used to describe and delineate ones’ moral beliefs. I’ve just never seen anyone able to try to completely and logically prove they had the "answer key" through a philosophical system. If you can, I’d love to see it.
Seems rather simple; cause and effect. Those societies which are more moral tend to last longer, and thrive better. As their morality slips away over the years, so too does the success ratio. All cultures are not equal. I submit to you that western culture has succeeded to the extent that it has primarily because of its morality.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
the apparent assumption that if one has wealth they necessarily have earned it all through their productive efforts
I make no such assumption. I state that there is no way to know what might have been had the State not usurped control of these aspects of people’s lives, but I do know that I did not contract for the State to do those jobs. I do tech stuff, but even if I do a bang-up job on your website, and the website traffic makes you millions—if you didn’t ask me to do the work and agree to pay me, tough for me. Same same.

Further, even a $10 shortage in someone’s budget can be the difference, say, between new tires and a tragic blowout that hypothetically kills an entire family. Maybe a teenage daughter has to go to the prom in a dress she hates because she’s short a few bucks—but it meant a lot to her and so her disappointment and embarrassment leads to a lifetime of regret and a sense of unattractiveness. Such scenarios aren’t anywhere near impossible and there’s no way to say either outcome described here is as bad as, not so bad as, or equivalent to rape, or losing a house.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Iraq is the essence of a big government social engineering program. We won the war within three weeks, now we want to reshape their political system. Iraq should be grabbed by libertarians and conservatives as an example of how social engineering doesn’t work!
I’d ask the Iraqis about that, were I you.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Was dropping out to do some work, but this one just cried out for notice:
"BTW, while I see in Elliot, Ironbear and Billy similar perspectives" - Erb
Add in Bithead, Publicola, Codrea, Nicholey, and McPhillips, and I can’t think of better company to die in.

Beginning to regret I insulted Guzman with the comparison to the likes of you.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Erb, you said in an earlier comment:
No, I said that you cannot prove moral beliefs correct through a system of philosophy.

If there is a distinction between that, and saying there can be no philosophical basis for morality, I don’t see it. And I’ve had four years of law school, and long time study of Talmud, to teach me how to perceive distinctions.

And several people have tried to provide the answer key. I presume the names Kant and Rand are familiar to you—and those are just the first two names that pop into my hand. The validity of their systems, or lack of validity, has no bearing on your statement. It just shows it is possible to build a philosophically based moral system. If you didn’t realize that, than I suppose you’ve never read works by or about them. Or, come to think of it, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, K’ung Fu Tzu, the Buddhist philosophers....
And you’re a professor?!!

 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
Jeffrey: Mr Erb never said one could not build a philosophically based moral system.

He said one could not prove a philosophically based moral system given that he said "you cannot prove moral beliefs correct through a system of philosophy" and "what we disagree on is whether or not that...conclusion can be proven based on first principles or some kind of reasoned analysis. I think it’s ultimately a moral belief that we hold, but not something we can objectively prove".

If I understand him, he’s asking for an unequivocally verifiable "first principle" on which an ethical system can be based, an objectively unarguable starting point. Further, if I understand, he is saying without that principle ethical systems are based, at core, on an assumption or a belief—either of which may be highly indicated by clear evidence or totally empirically unsupportable.

The distinction between the statement Mr Erb provided and the statement you provided is that yours is not what he said or meant.

I don’t have four years of law school or extensive study of Talmud, much to my chagrin—both are accomplishments of note.

 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Add in Bithead, Publicola, Codrea, Nicholey, and McPhillips, and I can’t think of better company to die in.
(slight bow)
But do let’s try to avoid that for a while, shall we?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Jeffrey and Ron,

I never got an answer from Scott on this:
You put a great emphasis on proof. But what keeps a predator from just pretending not to be persuaded? What about an idiot who lacks the mental capacity to grasp the reasoning? What then?
Maybe it matters if you can prove an idea to reasonable, honest people. But it certainly doesn’t matter if you can’t prove it to someone bent on supporting thievery.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
Maybe it matters if you can prove an idea to reasonable, honest people. But it certainly doesn’t matter if you can’t prove it to someone bent on supporting thievery.
I simply have never seen proof. Thus you always have uncertainty, and therefore the complexity of the issues demand you not treat your beliefs about morality as absolute truth. You might be wrong. I might be wrong.

I presume the names Kant and Rand are familiar to you
Well, I wouldn’t put Rand up in Kant’s class, but the attempt has certainly been made; for 2500 years philosophers have tried. I think it’s about time we say, "OK, we can come up with grand schemes, but ultimately each is only valid on its own terms and can’t be proven. Let’s give up the effort to say we have an answer key and figure out what kind of world we can agree we want."

Ron has a good post which deserves a response. Since I got up at 5:00 AM with the kids I’ve earned some lay down and relax time. I’ll ponder Ron’s point and post my response when I get a chance - and I’ll try to better answer Elliot as well. (Weekends are always hectic...)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Thus you always have uncertainty,..."
Speak for yourself, twit.
"Let’s give up the effort to say we have an answer key and figure out what kind of world we can agree we want."
There it is, folx. That’s the payoff, right there. This is all very simple:

"It’s all so complex, and nobody can know!"

...and so the thing must be mediated with democracy.

Voila.

When he tells you that he believes in individual rights, it’s a lie. It really is just exactly that simple.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I make no such assumption. I state that there is no way to know what might have been had the State not usurped control of these aspects of people’s lives, but I do know that I did not contract for the State to do those jobs. I do tech stuff, but even if I do a bang-up job on your website, and the website traffic makes you millions—if you didn’t ask me to do the work and agree to pay me, tough for me. Same same.

Further, even a $10 shortage in someone’s budget can be the difference, say, between new tires and a tragic blowout that hypothetically kills an entire family. Maybe a teenage daughter has to go to the prom in a dress she hates because she’s short a few bucks—but it meant a lot to her and so her disappointment and embarrassment leads to a lifetime of regret and a sense of unattractiveness. Such scenarios aren’t anywhere near impossible and there’s no way to say either outcome described here is as bad as, not so bad as, or equivalent to rape, or losing a house.
Well, the blowout is a much better example; if someone will let their life be ruined by wearing a bad dress, she probably doesn’t have the internal strength not to let something else if not that destroy her self-confidence. But these are all choices that suggest affluence — having a car, being able to go to a prom, etc. Still, your basic point deserves serious attention.

So let’s assume your position is accurate: that it is immoral for any collective agent to force you into any kind of action or payment not based on voluntary agreement by you to enter into that arrangement. I would argue that for the world to operate under those conditions, a two problems need to be solved.

1. The problem of property. Right now property rights are based on outcomes of massive force at a variety of levels. Wealthy landowners in Brazil, descendents of former slaves now in inner cities, and many less extreme examples give us a social arrangement where wealth and position are not based on voluntary interaction but centuries of force relationships. Those who are the bottom will read a “this is as good a place as any to start doing it right” as a cynical attempt by the fortunate to make it impossible to undo past injustices.

2. The problem of social order. Back when humans were hunter gatherers there was no such thing as private land property. If you found a rock and could craft a tool, then you could claim it as yours, but otherwise if you were hunting some place where others were, you would just move. With agriculture it suddenly became necessary to claim land, and almost certainly the first claims on land were collective – clans would control land, and tradition and shared norms would provide governance. People followed the norms because that was how the clan worked. It was a limitation on freedom voluntarily accepted – though there were punishments for breaking clan rules, and one could be kicked out (and probably lose any land he or she had). As technology grew clans could become complex and governance less enforced by shared traditions/norms and more by a hierarchy using force. That leads to slavery, empire and social order based on force – though co-existing with smaller clans. Then you move to the nation state and sovereignty, where true control of land was originally an agent for the collective (the sovereign), who ruled in a oligarchy with nobility, while most people who produced were essentially slaves.

With capitalism a new class arises, and you have sweat shops and a great division between rich and poor, not based solely on productivity, and creating situations where a group structures the system so they have the most wealth, while the masses less – and where you are born in this system helps dictate what kind of opportunity you have. Now, I’m not putting this out there to advance a big government ideology designed to right the wrongs of history – as recent history proves, such efforts only lead ot rationalization of evil.

Instead, I’ll argue that to get to a position where voluntary social order is the norm will require a transformation of culture and cannot be done in any way except for slow change. There are so many different beliefs, claims and so much complexity that if government were to disappear tomorrow, another would be created to replace it. If it were to break down completely, powerful elements could grab power and run it through brute force, like mafia gangs. Governance only works if it reflects cultural beliefs and the values and norms of a group of people. That works best with small homogeneous populations, but that is not what this world has, and things are getting even more complex and diverse.

Thus: the goal I have is to promote gradual change, never losing sight of the principles I believe in, but believing I have a duty to myself to get as much joy out of life as I can, and to others by living ethically and with kindness to others while doing what I can to work against a culture of centralization and governmental power towards a culture of individual choice and responsibility. In teaching I always note the fact politics is by nature presumptuous, and make clear the kind of principled objections you have – so students think about it and don’t just accept the given order as natural (though what they choose to believe depends on their own analyses). I do respect those who live completely according to principle; I’m more Emerson than Thoreau, I guess.

Billy:

"It’s all so complex, and nobody can know!"

...and so the thing must be mediated with democracy.


Since you aren’t alone in the world, you can’t expect other people to make the choices you think they should make.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
1. The problem of property. Right now property rights are based on outcomes of massive force at a variety of levels. Wealthy landowners in Brazil, descendents of former slaves now in inner cities, and many less extreme examples give us a social arrangement where wealth and position are not based on voluntary interaction but centuries of force relationships
All of which is reinforced by government. Or hadn’t that point occurred to you?

Now, I’m not putting this out there to advance a big government ideology
(Snork!) Yeah, right.
Since you aren’t alone in the world, you can’t expect other people to make the choices you think they should make.
Perhaps not, but then again, he’s not the one talking about an operating welfare state being a good thing. That would be you. Thos are, after all, YOUR words, not mine.

Go ahead, Scott... Tell us again, about who’s making choices for other people. And tell us about the rabbits, too...

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
"Since you aren’t alone in the world, you can’t expect other people to make the choices you think they should make."
I can bloody well demand that they desist from attempts to live at my expense, Erb. It is precisely because I’m not alone in the world that this moral and political point is crucial. The plain-day fact that I’m not the only human being on the planet does not constitute your hive, and that is the whole reason why the concept of "freedom" exists in the minds of rational people.

Not like you.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"Right now property rights are based on outcomes of massive force at a variety of levels. Wealthy landowners in Brazil,...give us a social arrangement where wealth and position are not based on voluntary interaction but centuries of force relationships "

Pure Marxist nonsense. At best, a grossly oversimplified interpretation of history.


" but otherwise if you were hunting some place where others were, you would just move"

You don’t think people fight over hunting and/or grazing rights?

"but believing I have a duty to myself to get as much joy out of life as I can"

I am so relieved. I was worried that you were giving too much of yourself to your pursuit of the betterment of mankind, and neglecting your own spiritual well-being. Narcissistic semiliterate poseur. Living proof of the old saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Ron,


"Mr Erb never said one could not build a philosophically based moral system. "



Erb’s sentiment-based anti-metaethics guts any genuinely rational justification for ethics. He tries to get away with this by postulating a moral equivalence between force used in self-defense with force used in tyranny. If one pushes a little old lady away from a bus, and another pushes that same lady into its path, they are both evil on Erbian terms since they push little old ladies around. (hat tip to WFB for the example)

The actual fact is that both Hitler and Stalin were notorious for denying the existence of classically liberal objective Enlightenment ethics that emphasized the moral and legal equality of all mankind, in favor of subjectivist historicist ethics that justified the benefit of one group of individuals at the expense of another. Sentiment-based legal positivism based on moral skepticism was (and is) useless to counter such ideas, as Professor Maritain explains:

"The problem of truth and human fellowship is important for democratic societies; it seems to me to be particularly important for this country (the USA-E.B.), where men and women coming from a great diversity of national stocks and religious or philosophical creeds have to live together. If each one of them endeavored to impose his own convictions and the truth in which he believes on all his co-citizens, would not living together become impossible? That is obviously right. Well, it is easy, too easy, to go a step further, and to ask: if each one sticks to his own convictions, will not each one endeavor to impose his own convictions on all others? So that, as a result, living together will become impossible if any citizen whatever sticks to his own convictions and believes in a given truth?

Thus it is not unusual to meet people who think that NOT TO BELIEVE IN ANY TRUTH, or NOT TO ADHERE FIRMLY TO ANY ASSERTION AS UNSHAKABLY TRUE IN ITSELF (Maritain’s emphasis), is a primary condition required of democratic citizens in order to be tolerant of one another and to live in peace with one another. May I say that these people are in fact the most intolerant people, for if perchance they were to believe in something as unshakably true, they would feel compelled, by the same stroke, to impose by force and coercion their own belief on their co-citizens. The only remedy they have found to get rid of their abiding tendency to fanaticism is to cut themselves off from truth. That is a suicidal method. It is a suicidal conception of democracy: not only would a democratic society which lived on universal skepticism condemn itself to death by starvation; but it would also enter a process of self-annihilation, from the very fact that no democratic society can live without a common practical belief in those truths which are freedom, justice, law, and the other tenets of democracy; and that any belief in these things as objectively and unshakably true, as well as in any other kind of truth, would be brought to naught by the presumed law of universal skepticism."

(Jacques Maritain, "Truth and Human Fellowship." in ON THE USE OF PHILOSOPHY: THREE ESSAYS. (New York: Atheneum) 1965, pp.17-18)
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com
Maybe it matters if you can prove an idea to reasonable, honest people. But it certainly doesn’t matter if you can’t prove it to someone bent on supporting thievery.

I simply have never seen proof.
*grin*

Exactly the point.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
Boris "The Lying Narcissist" Erb writes:
I’ll argue that to get to a position where voluntary social order is the norm will require a transformation of culture and cannot be done in any way except for slow change.
We already have a reasonably voluntary social order. It’s the parasitic Fabian socialism that works the "slow change," and is choking the voluntary out of the social order.

I hope you get out of bed every morning, Boris, and express thanks that college students rarely know enough to spot you as the ignorant creep you are and spread the word before they graduate.

Let me just restate my guiding premise when dealing with you. You have two interests: Socialism and Anti-Americanism. They consume you.

Any sort of Neo-Marxist trend or fad sticks to your coat like burrs on a dog. Any angle that undermines Western rationality—for the purpose of Gramscian cultural backstepping or uprooting the natural rights foundation of American political culture—appeals instantly to your sense of "justice."

And you are never afraid to lie. If you’re not lying, your lips aren’t moving.

 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Scott — With capitalism a new class arises, and you have sweat shops ...
There you have it, folks. "Sweatshops" are the hallmark of "capitalism" *spit*.

Your façade is cracking, revealing your true motivation.
Tim —Pure Marxist nonsense.
Exactly.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
"(slight bow)
But do let’s try to avoid that for a while, shall we?"
- Bithead
*wolf grin* Depends. Who do I get to take out with me if we go now? ;]

You guys still spanking that weenie? Sheesh. DON’T TOUCH IT! IT’S PURE EEEVVVVILLLL!!! *snicker*
"When he tells you that he believes in individual rights, it’s a lie. It really is just exactly that simple." - Beck
’Course it is, Billy. That’s why they never let themselves get pinned down on principles. The principles always show that "individual rights" mean nothing to them outside of the confines of what’s Good for the Hive.

Marxist, Maoist, Social Democrat, Democrat, Socialist, Trotskyist, Stalinist, National Socialist, NuLabour, "Libertarians Democrats", Left Libertarians, Neo-libbertarians, and my personal favorite: "Progressive" - Erb and all of his kith and kin have to dance rhetorically around the concepts ya’ll are trying to pin him to. He has to. They all have to.

Because the end of that road always leads to the death of hope and extinguishment of human accomplishment. It’s the mynah’s "speech": parroted sound and noise, only not with nothing behind it.

What’s behind it is the gulag and the cattle car and the oven, and the mound of skulls... and the dead, black dog hung on the gates of a macheted village.

What’s behind it is Vickie Weaver with a bullet in her skull, fire over Mount Carmel, and the smell of burning flesh coming across the TeeVee as you watch the jackboots dance away from any accountability.

He. has. to. dance. away. from. you. He has to.

Otherwise... people might start to wonder if that stench is coming from the mound of corpses his soapbox is built upon.

He’s got to pin that stench on you, any way possible. Otherwise, the whole edifice starts to unravel.

’Course, you know this as well as I do.

Carry on, mate. Sa’ang fori.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
There you have it, folks. "Sweatshops" are the hallmark of "capitalism" *spit*.
If you deny the prevalence of sweat shops in Great Britain and Europe at the start of the industrial revolution, then you need to study some history. That’s what happened as capitalism spread. Reality. Capitalism isn’t perfect either. There is no perfect "ism." That’s why I reject ideology in favor of basic pragmatic principles: trying to maximize freedom, individual autonomy, and minimize centralized power, including and especially governmental power. Primary in that is individual responsibility for ones’ choices and life circumstance. Taking responsibility for ones’ own life is the most important and most ethical first step towards living a moral life one can make.

It’s that simple. And I am a completely free man. I’m sorry if you guys aren’t.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Thus it is not unusual to meet people who think that NOT TO BELIEVE IN ANY TRUTH, or NOT TO ADHERE FIRMLY TO ANY ASSERTION AS UNSHAKABLY TRUE IN ITSELF (Maritain’s emphasis), is a primary condition required of democratic citizens in order to be tolerant of one another and to live in peace with one another. May I say that these people are in fact the most intolerant people, for if perchance they were to believe in something as unshakably true, they would feel compelled, by the same stroke, to impose by force and coercion their own belief on their co-citizens. The only remedy they have found to get rid of their abiding tendency to fanaticism is to cut themselves off from truth. That is a suicidal method. It is a suicidal conception of democracy: not only would a democratic society which lived on universal skepticism condemn itself to death by starvation; but it would also enter a process of self-annihilation, from the very fact that no democratic society can live without a common practical belief in those truths which are freedom, justice, law, and the other tenets of democracy; and that any belief in these things as objectively and unshakably true, as well as in any other kind of truth, would be brought to naught by the presumed law of universal skepticism."
A good quote, I like it. I am absolutely certain of my core values. That certainty cannot come from reason alone though, or from first principles. It has to be in ones’ heart, conviction through sentiment given form by reason and rational thought.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott: You wrote:
I simply have never seen proof. Thus you always have uncertainty, and therefore the complexity of the issues demand you not treat your beliefs about morality as absolute truth. You might be wrong. I might be wrong.
There’s a sudden shift between I and you here: "I simply have never seen proof" thus "you always have uncertainty..." that doesn’t really follow. If you have uncertainty, you aren’t in much of a position to state that others have uncertainty as well (how could you be sure?)

Our legal system, such as it is, does provide a useful methodology (or at least a couple of benchmarks) to use when trying to make decisions even when one is short of absolute proof, these being either: "a preponderance of evidence" or "beyond a reasonable doubt". "Beyond a reasonable doubt" means I can dispense with the "space aliens warped time and did it, framing me for this atrocity" kinds of defenses, and a "preponderance of evidence" is exactly that.

In my view, the justification for an-cap libertarian, non-interventionist ethics easily meets both those standards (and I think you agree, given that the only ultimate objection you muster consistently against such ethics is that such a position is only really debateable at the level of an "absolutely verifiable first principle". In other words, it stands the test everywhere else.

Now, both evidentiary standards support the conclusion that it is wrong to instigate aggression. That means: I don’t instigate aggression, I don’t support the instigation of aggression, and I don’t argue for it ever, not for any purpose. Further, it means that I stand against it. I use that as a first principle—and the rest follows.

Since I have no control over the past, the best I can do is put those principles in place in my life, right now. In other words, regardless of the possibility that (as you put it) "those who are the bottom will read a ’this is as good a place as any to start doing it right’ as a cynical attempt by the fortunate to make it impossible to undo past injustices" I have no choice but to proceed accordingly; any other decision simply adds to the problem by visiting coercion (albeit coercion that is attempted in support of some type of reparation or redress) on even more victims.

The issue of how to get from here to there (from the mess we have today to a drastically more rational society) still remains, absolutely, and you’ve certainly eloquently posed that as a problem. And, you are probably correct to suppose that the transition will take some time.

Still, might I suggest that the best first step, in your life as it was in mine, was to refuse ever to posit a continuation of the problem (taxation, coercive intervention, and reparative social engineering as a function of government, for examples) at as an even temporary or transitive solution.

Also: and this is a quick point but important: even if I don’t absolutely know what is right—it is clearly immoral to support or proceed in a direction I even think is wrong.

Oh, a quibble. I took offense at this: if someone will let their life be ruined by wearing a bad dress, she probably doesn’t have the internal strength not to let something else if not that destroy her self-confidence...

One, and I’m sure you already accept this: the victim has no obligation to be strong enough to withstand the damage caused her by assailants. Two, in any case, the example stands regardless of the resilience of the victim. The victim should not have been a victim; that is clear.

What you wrote came across as a bit of a slag on the victim for not being strong enough—and that’s just wrong-headed.

Edit [Bryan]: HTML fixed for ya. Extra post deleted.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
If you deny the prevalence of sweat shops ...
You skipped right over the part about people voluntarily leaving the farm to obtain a better life working in a factory, while consumers voluntarily bought these new products. All of that achievement and opportunity is unimportant because there were "sweatshops" or something.

Tell me, exactly what is a "sweatshop" and how, exactly, is it a fundamentally bad thing? If you’re talking about slavery (i.e., people chained to sewing machines and such), then call it what it is: slavery. If you’re just talking about a though job which employees voluntarily take, then you’re dishonestly attempting to conflate the two concepts with such stilted phrases.
And I am a completely free man.
So why did you help pay for George’s escapade in Iraq?
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
So I re-read and this stands out:
But these are all choices that suggest affluence
Compared to what? It’s true it suggests relative affluence compared with the worst in the world today, and I’m even prepared to concede that I live a relatively very comfortable life, but the question still remains. You’re really only saying that, in your view, folks are comfortable enough they really ought not to complain.

There’s every bit as much possibility that what you refer to as "affluence" is a paltry shell of where we could have been and could be.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
"If you deny the prevalence of sweat shops in Great Britain and Europe at the start of the industrial revolution, then you need to study some history."
You know, Skurt, you’re right. I think it was a lot better when children were bred as farm labor from dawn to dusk.

I mean, at least they died in droves from diseases and starvation, while they were at it.

You’re right. That was a lot better. And I don’t know what we’re going to do about all these sweatshops around here. The constant wails & moans coming out of ’em all day & every night are just murder while I’m trying to catch up on who’s publishing what in critical theory, and besides; there’s all these teachers to keep employed.

This is terrible, I’m tellin’ ya.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"It’s that simple. And I am a completely free man. I’m sorry if you guys aren’t."
How do you do that?

Does anyone know how he does that? I mean; could you, like, just look right at people and lie at ’em like that?

...without moving your lips?

How the hell does he do that?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
You know, Skurt, you’re right. I think it was a lot better when children were bred as farm labor from dawn to dusk.

I mean, at least they died in droves from diseases and starvation, while they were at it.

You’re right. That was a lot better. And I don’t know what we’re going to do about all these sweatshops around here. The constant wails & moans coming out of ’em all day & every night are just murder while I’m trying to catch up on who’s publishing what in critical theory, and besides; there’s all these teachers to keep employed.
I’m not anti-markets, Billy. Despite the silly name calling, I’m definitely no where close to a Marxist. Things have gotten better, and that’s good. Now we have to get the size of government under control and start moving towards the kind of future that will increasingly have voluntaristic governance rather than governments.
, just look right at people and lie
I’m not lying, Billy.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Compared to what? It’s true it suggests relative affluence compared with the worst in the world today,
Compared to both history and the rest of the world we are the material elite of all time. Probably we’re in the top 1% of the planet, and if you add in all of history, we’re probably at the top .0001%. We got it good! That doesn’t mean you should accept taxation if you think it wrong, of course.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m not lying, Billy.
So why are you paying for what’s going on in Iraq?

Aren’t you really, really, really opposed to that and such?

It seems to me a truly free man could just say no.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
we are the material elite of all time
Sure, but just because I have a brand new luthier-built solid-mahogany tribute of a ’55 Les Paul junior with a single brutal Seymour Duncan P90, a killer neck, and the liveliest piece of wood I’ve ever encountered in a solid-body (a half inch thicker and rib-contoured body, as it happens, than the original Gibson model) is no reason anybody should have a right to my stuff.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
"I’m not lying, Billy."
It’s either that, Erb, or you’re just crazy: completely separated from reality without even knowing it, and just making chimp-noises with words. Either way, you simply have no business — none — using the word "free".
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
It’s either that, Erb, or you’re just crazy: completely separated from reality without even knowing it, and just making chimp-noises with words. Either way, you simply have no business — none — using the word "free".
Freedom is an essential and fundamental aspect of being human. Every human is free to do as he or she pleases, given their capacities in the circumstances in which they find themselves. Those circumstances are in part created by nature, and in part by humans — the fact we’re living in a world with others mean we encourter circumstances that reflect history and the choices others make. We are free to make our choices, others are free to make theirs.

The bottom line of your argument is not that you are less free than you might be, but that the circumstances you find yourself in have unjust constraints on your actions. You think the circumstances are unjust because demands are made against you which you believe unethical. Where you see a lack of freedom, I see freedom being exercised in a world where circumstances are unjust because people make bad, irrational or immoral choices. Where you see freedom as a matter of principle, I see creating just circumstances in which we can operate our natural freedom in a moral and ethical world as a goal which is likely generations off, at least. I’m willing to work in the world that is to try to play a role in constructing the world that should be.

So I’m completely free, even if my circumstances are not what I think they should be if the world were just. One secret to experiencing freedom (satisfaction and a belief of self-mastery) is not to give circumstances psychological power over you. Never (as much as possible) let your happiness depend on what others do or don’t do, that’s giving them power over your life.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Where you see a lack of freedom, I see freedom being exercised in a world where circumstances are unjust because people make bad, irrational or immoral choices.
So those plantations were just chock full of freedom?
One secret to experiencing freedom (satisfaction and a belief of self-mastery) is not to give circumstances psychological power over you. Never (as much as possible) let your happiness depend on what others do or don’t do, that’s giving them power over your life.
Those slaves just had to be satisfied and believe in self-mastery and whatnot. Wow! To think of all the complaints and rebellions and wars fought over that, when all they had to do is click their heels together.

You really do have a head full of mush!
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
You really do have a head full of mush!
Worse; given his position, he’s a carrier.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
So those plantations were just chock full of freedom?
No, their circumstances were created by people acting unethically. Worse was Stalin’s Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or Mao’s China.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So those plantations were just chock full of freedom?
No, their circumstances were created by people acting unethically.
So, could a given man in chains be a "completely free man"—like you—when he figured out the psychological angle?
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
Erb, can’t you ever stop blathering? You are not a "completely free man". Even I can’t make that claim, and I am far more freer than you are on the physical (as regards personal responsibilities)and spiritual levels (unless you’ve the got ’the teaching of the Chariot’ or its equivalent, and I see no indication in how you write that you have anything close to that, and a lot of indications that you don’t). You only make yourself more ridiculous every moment, and you’re ridiculous enough as it is. (The danger you present is that so many people don’t realize you are ridiculous.)

Mr. Good says the distinction I see is not there, although I believe it is. However, that was not the point I was trying to make (and I’m a bad boy because I let you dance away from that one). The point was, that in one sentence you deny that morality can be proven from a philosophical first principle, and then in the very next sentence you provide as the basis of your alleged morality a philosophical first principle. I think that’s a texbook example of a "stolen concept" [Billy, please correct me if I’m wrong about that.] I also think that it’s a Freudian slip—your way of subliminally acknowledging that you don’t have a morality.

And as free as you might be, freedom doesn’t consist in be able to do what you can in the circumstances. A prisoner in the Gulag who gets to choose the method of his execution would be completely free according to that definiton. Freedom consists in doing your will unimpeded by the co-ercive acts of others. And your whole goal is to make sure that such freedom disappears entirely from this earth. Supra meum corporum defunctis (or something like that).
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
"Every human is free to do as he or she pleases, given their capacities in the circumstances in which they find themselves..."

" Worse was Stalin’s Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or Mao’s China."


Man, it’s a good thing he works in the backwoods. This kind of "life on the plantation wasn’t all bad" stuff would get him fired at a school closer to civilization.


"It’s either that, Erb, or you’re just crazy:"

My money is on crazy.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"We are free to make our choices, others are free to make theirs."
Fine, then. Why should anyone complain about the whole blood-drenched twentieth century? If what you say is true, then there is no reason in world to indict anything. If someone blows through your front door and just does you completely in, then there can be no complaining about it, because that person was "free" to make his "choice".

Just so we have you in the record on this.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Mr. Good says the distinction I see is not there
Jeffrey? kishnevi?: Actually, the way you framed it, I actually said the distinction you said you didn’t see was there.

But again, because it’s a contentious point: Mr Erb says a philosophic system can’t be proven without an unarguably verifiable first principle. He doesn’t say that one cannot build or even support a philosophic system from a first principle. He’s just saying you can’t prove that its true. Even the first principle he provided, I am sure, he would say is not a proven, unarguable first principle.

Unless I misunderstand, he certainly thinks libertarian philosophy is not based on an unarguably verifiable first principle, and further he has great disgreements with others here (including me) regarding the best method of getting from here to there even regarding what he presently accepts of An-Cap or libertarian positions.

In my view, Mr Erb is more or less suggesting that I work within the current regime, using its structures and methods, to gain incremental ground towards the goals I support. He thinks its proper to, for example, strategically vote and lobby even for things one might philosophically be against because they are moves toward a better "middle or differing position" than the current situation. If I understand correctly, he might, for example, vote for a tax increase or to expropriate land if he felt it was "to the greater good."

I think that’s a mistake.

I’m not an Objectivist, but Ayn Rand details the mistake here, making the point that it is precisely the inconsistency that Mr Erb supports that ensures the victory of bad ideas. I think it’s unfortunate enough that Mr Erb holds this differing view, but even more unfortunate that he also consequently teaches it.

It’s especially disappointing to me because Mr Erb is highly intelligent and clearly a man capable of accomplishment—and given what he already (or at least now states) he accepts and understands of libertarian philosophy, he already actually knows better—or should.

So, don’t think I disagree with most of what you say, because I don’t. Your points are valid, especially: you are talking freedom while Mr Erb is talking about "relative freedom within constraints" as freedom.

Calling that "freedom" while neglecting the qualifiers is, to me, defining freedom out of existence, given that (as you noted) "A prisoner in the Gulag who gets to choose the method of his execution would be completely free" according to the definition Mr Erb provides. To be fair, though, I think Mr Erb would only say the prisoner was "free" once he realized and was appropriately grateful for the latitude he did have.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
I think it’s unfortunate enough that Mr Erb holds this differing view, but even more unfortunate that he also consequently teaches it.
Actually no — I don’t teach any particular point of view, but give a variety of perspectives and try to make the best case I can for each when dealing with different issues in the subjects I teach. It’s not the job of an educator to promote a view point, but to help students have the ability to choose for themselves. I’ve even had a student convinced to support the war in Iraq by my description of the neo-conservative position, even though that’s not the position I personally hold!

Otherwise, you have my view pretty much accurate (the freedom issue is more complex, however). I’d add only that I make a distinction between: a) personal certainty about core values; and b) social certainty about whether or not these core values should be actualized in the world. As much as I may be certain about something in my heart and mind, as a fallable human I know that there is a chance I’ve missed something. So I’ll act on my principles in my life, but in dealing with others I recognize that different perspectives lead people to different conclusions. Thus my view of how things ought to be is one of many, and politics is about trying to convince others to share my ideals (not force them to live by them). Ultimately, though, life is short and what matters the most is the people around me. I could never take politics and philosophy too seriously; the day to day interactions with those I love are the core of existence. So I approach the world like, "gee, this place is really f***ed up, but you work with what you got."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
And as free as you might be, freedom doesn’t consist in be able to do what you can in the circumstances. A prisoner in the Gulag who gets to choose the method of his execution would be completely free according to that definiton. Freedom consists in doing your will unimpeded by the co-ercive acts of others. And your whole goal is to make sure that such freedom disappears entirely from this earth. Supra meum corporum defunctis (or something like that).
This is important, because there is a confusion in how the concept "freedom" is used. For example, Marxists invoke freedom to describe how the livelihood of workers is stolen through exploitation, while libertarians talk about govenment denying freedom through taxation. The term freedom has become more a political slogan than a real concept — it gets defined differently depending on whose ideology is being promoted. And, of course, each person using it insists they are using it correctly.

That confusion is caused by the fact the debate is not about freedom, but about the circumstances in which people operate. Is it right to tax someone? Is it right to profit from the labor of others? Is having a government legitimate? Should businesses have regulations? All of these issues reflect ethical dilemmas. When people use "freedom" to describe the goal of their particular ethical position, they are essentially trying to use the emotion of a word that describes a fundamental human value and claim that emotion for their cause. Thus workers rising up to revolt against the wealthy are thinking they are taking back their lives and gaining freedom — "you have nothing to lose but your chains." And libertarians fighting against taxes and regulations think they are trying to stop unfair claims on their material wealth.

When we shift the focus not from the abstract term "freedom" to what freedom means, we see we’re talking about the context. What are the constraints on human action? There are always some constraints. Which are chosen? If a worker has to choose between subsistence wages or quitting and having his family starve, is he really making a free choice to keep that job? If someone has to pay taxes or risk going to jail, is that a free choice to pay taxes? Both seem coericed in different ways, but some will find the former just fine, some will think the latter totally legit. The reason I used freedom in that way was precisely to make the point that most of the arguments here have not really grappled with the ethical dilemmas. Billy even mocks calling the world complex, as if somehow saying something is complex means that we don’t have a responsibility to try to figure out and deal with the complexity.
Even I can’t make that claim, and I am far more freer than you are on the physical (as regards personal responsibilities)and spiritual levels (unless you’ve the got ’the teaching of the Chariot’ or its equivalent, and I see no indication in how you write that you have anything close to that, and a lot of indications that you don’t).
Consider what you wrote: personal obligations. Are these chosen by me? I have children, but I could choose to leave town. I have a job, with lots of responsibilities, but I could choose to quit and try my hand at writing (I’ve got an unpublished manuscript which is sort of a spiritual-fantasy, maybe I could turn that into something good). But these are choices. So that begs the question: when are the constraints on ones’ life legitimate and chosen, when are they not? At base every person is free to act as they choose, and every person has circumstances which limit their options. What kinds of circumstances are legitimate.

As for spiritual: I don’t know "The Chariot." Since I left organized religions 25 years ago I’ve been grappling with spiritual issues, reading a variety of books and opinions, and searching inside myself, experimenting in lucid dreams, trying to understand the world. It’s the most important issue. I have decided that we’re like ants — the world is so much more than we can comprehend, just like ants can’t comprehend the political and social world that they are part of. I think those limits prevent us from truly letting go of our fetishes. We crave material objects, praise from others, status, etc., all because we take this particular part of our existence far too seriously. I think that by letting go of all these attachments and experiencing life for each moment, appreciating the beauty of each moment, is a key to living a life where one feels free most of the time, and can avoid the anxieties and stress that limit the capacity of so many to truly embrace life and all its opportunities. (Philosophers I find most intriguing are Plotinus and Bishop Berkely; for more modern writings, I think Richard Bach’s books are pretty good.)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Thus my view of how things ought to be is one of many, and politics is about trying to convince others to share my ideals (not force them to live by them).
If you are opposed to forcing others to share your ideals, then you won’t, in any way, support using force to compel your neighbors to pay taxes if they are fundamentally opposed to the use of that tax money?

You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth, claiming to be against forcing others to adopt certain political ideals, but then making excuses for doing just that.
I could never take politics and philosophy too seriously ...
Why not? Aren’t concentration camps and wars serious stuff? Do you have any appreciation for the implementation of these ideas? People suffer and die because of these things you don’t "take ... too seriously."

Maybe you spend all your time in the classroom, not realizing that the ideas you toss about have real-world consequences. You’re losing touch with reality.
The term freedom has become more a political slogan than a real concept ...
You mean, of course, that it is used more as a political slogan than as a reference to the real concept.

You could start using the word "trash" to refer to the concept of love if, say, you were bitter over a relationship. That doesn’t mean that the actual concept of love is altered. It’s just your deranged attempt to change how people feel about love.
And, of course, each person using it insists they are using it correctly.
You can claim that the world is flat, but that doesn’t mean that your ideas are just as valid as anyone else’s.
If a worker has to choose between subsistence wages or quitting and having his family starve, is he really making a free choice to keep that job?
Assuming there is nothing more to the story—like union thugs preventing him from crossing the picket lines and working at a factory for much better wages—then it is patently obvious that he is making a free choice. How could it be anything but?
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
Philosophers I find most intriguing are Plotinus and Bishop Berkely; for more modern writings, I think Richard Bach’s books are pretty good.
A fictional author—whose underlying philosophy includes walking through walls if you really, really, really want to—you put on your list of philosophers? Ayn Rand you dismiss?

You’ve got a head full of mush!
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
OK, Erb, let me take you at your word. Let’s posit that there could be a moral system which is sentiment-based rather than reason based.
I’d say a balance is needed (geez, I suddenly have an urge to dig out my old copy of Hemispheres).
A "balance" between two competing and mutually exclusive moral systems? How are we to decide which things will be immoral because they are self-evidently painful, and which are not painful enough to be immoral?

But we are not a clairsentient species, and highly unlikely to become one. We cannot enter the heads of those harmed by our actions. And when you assume, in each and every case, that taxation is less painful than rape, or homelessness, or whatever the cause-du-jour is, you in fact "abstract away human suffering or human experience to rationalize doing wrong."
I do not think that it is impossible to make judgements about human suffering — we have both empathy and history.
Of course it’s not impossible. But if you’re going to say that suffering is bad, then as a moral person (Yeah, I know guys, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt), you cannot participate in the creation of suffering. That mass murder is more evil than punching somebody in the nose doesn’t excuse you punching somebody in the nose.
You also seem to have an assumption that whatever wealth a person has is there because of that person’s productive capacity.
That’s generally how it happens. Or it’s given to them by productive parents (as is their right, because it’s THEIR money). Sometimes, it comes from being productive at finagling governments. In an idea world, that wouldn’t exist at all, but it does. And to say such stolen funds should be forfeit is to support the power that allowed them to be stolen to begin with.

But if individual outcomes are not simply due to individual productivity and reflect structural factors, then pure market mechanisms would not be fair without taking into account these distortions.


So two wrongs make a right?
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
If you deny the prevalence of sweat shops in Great Britain and Europe at the start of the industrial revolution, then you need to study some history.
I deny the existence of "Sodom-and-Gomorrah-style perversion" in San Francisco too, for the same reason. Now, I’ll admit to the prevalence of factories which did not meet modern Western labor standards, factories to which people were flocking for jobs, just as they do today in developing countries. It’s kind of hard to discuss history when the very vocabulary you use is prejudicial.
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
But if individual outcomes are not simply due to individual productivity and reflect structural factors, then pure market mechanisms would not be fair without taking into account these distortions.
Yep, I believe that sums it up: the perpetually-debatable and endlessly flexible concept of "fairness" trumps freedom. A man may not live unmolested with an honest trade of values as his only means of interaction—he must be plundered out of “fairness” because he “owes” someone somewhere (e.g.: local “government”) his existence in perpetuity.

This just confirms my observation that people draw false conclusions largely from false premises—even those who deride reason must employ it to do so. All that is required to corrupt a mind too afraid to live in reality is to seed it with a pernicious idea like the above and the results we see today will follow.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
Actually no — I don’t teach any particular point of view, but give a variety of perspectives and try to make the best case I can for each when dealing with different issues in the subjects I teach. It’s not the job of an educator to promote a view point, but to help students have the ability to choose for themselves
So,, let’s see if we’re really getting this.

Lesson one: There is no objective truth, only opinion.

Have we missed anything?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Let’s see, Erb thinks we’re a bunch of ants. I leave it to others to deduce his socio-political theory from that. And his favorite philosophy is Jonathan Livinston Seagull. The last time I heard anyone mention that book, outside of nostalgia games, was about 1980.
What college is your degree from, Erb? Barnum and Bailey and Ringling College of Clowns in Sarasota?

Mr. Good—that was me, posting too late at night. In fact, because of erratic page loading, I thought that comment never posted at all...

Mr. Black (and others) Erb is actually raising valid questions that many libertarians simply don’t acknowledge. In essence, it boils down to what you refer to as "an honest trade for value" is really honest, and when it’s actually co-erced. Suppose that employee on subsistence wages is facing, not a union strike, but a factory that is the only employer in town—and moving out of town is , for what ever reason, a speculative venture at best (that is, employment prospects out of town may not be better. Or suppose the employer is utilizing the power of governmental regulation and enforcement to assist it in offering subsistence wages. Is that "honest trade" or co-ercion, and where do you draw the line? Erb, seeing everyone as ants, mouths Marxist analysis and solutions. But the question he asks is valid; it just deserves better answers than he is capable of making.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
Suppose that employee on subsistence wages is facing, not a union strike, but a factory that is the only employer in town—and moving out of town is , for what ever reason, a speculative venture at best (that is, employment prospects out of town may not be better).
So far, nothing coercive has happened. Actually, judging by your description, the factory is providing more wages and employment opportunities than anyone else in the area.
Or suppose the employer is utilizing the power of governmental regulation and enforcement to assist it in offering subsistence wages.
That’d be wrong; the details of why that’d be wrong (in other words, exactly what is wrong about it) will vary according to the details, but you can start with—at least as you described—that the company is using state coercion to prevent competition (or making some such other interventions) that are resulting in wages for workers that are presumably lower than what the freely floating market rate would be.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
So far, nothing coercive has happened. Actually, judging by your description, the factory is providing more wages and employment opportunities than anyone else in the area.
That’s one view of sweat shops. Another view is that the owners use their wealth to create a situation of power with which they can exploit the work of others to enrich themselves, denying freedom to their workers, and assuring that their children would remain fodder for their productive engines by working them early in the factory so they don’t get educated, while the wealthy elite do. My point: depending on the perspective chosen, freedom means different things. Better to ask the question which is legitimate. You turn a blind eye to power based on position in the system, you focus only on direct coercion. OK, but that’s not a self-evidently true proposition by any means!
Yep, I believe that sums it up: the perpetually-debatable and endlessly flexible concept of "fairness" trumps freedom. A man may not live unmolested with an honest trade of values as his only means of interaction—he must be plundered out of “fairness” because he “owes” someone somewhere (e.g.: local “government”) his existence in perpetuity.
No, it’s about freedom: the freedom of the person who is structurally in a position where they must work for virtually nothing as another gets rich is denied. It is, from that perspective, not much better than slavery. You may disagree, but your argument and their argument is simply providing different definitions of freedom. If a child can’t get an education because he has to work in a factory so his family can survive, while the owner uses the wealth gained by that labor to assure his children are well educated and part of the elite, then effectively the child has been enslaved. Thus there is a real and measurable denial of freedom.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Ron;

One factor in freedom that many seem to forget: Freedom involves the possibility of failure. Seems to me that the discussion has devolved into whether not we should allow people to fail occasionally. In essence, equal outcome versus equal opportunity. What Erb is trying to do is guarantee that everyone is a success. That’s simply not possible. Indeed; it’s the one sure fire way to make sure everybody fails.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
If you are opposed to forcing others to share your ideals, then you won’t, in any way, support using force to compel your neighbors to pay taxes if they are fundamentally opposed to the use of that tax money?
I will provide no support to such efforts. I’ll pay my taxes because I don’t think paying taxes is immoral. Others can make their call, I’ll not tattle on them.

Why not? Aren’t concentration camps and wars serious stuff? Do you have any appreciation for the implementation of these ideas? People suffer and die because of these things you don’t "take ... too seriously."
I don’t take them seriously in letting them control my emotional state. But I do learn about them, and have units on the Cambodian and Rwandan genocide in my course, and go over the evil caused by ideology. I’m anti-ideological because I am convinced that the recent pursuit of "isms" or attempts to theorize about how things should be is not only doomed to failure, but creates fanatics who get so caught up in the "ism" that they lose a part of who they are.

Thus:
A "balance" between two competing and mutually exclusive moral systems? How are we to decide which things will be immoral because they are self-evidently painful, and which are not painful enough to be immoral?
I don’t accept "competeing and mutually exclusive" — that’s the language of ideology, and I reject ideology. I’m a pragmatist. Also the balance is between heart and mind, sentiment and reason.
Lesson one: There is no objective truth, only opinion.
If you think I believe that, you obviously haven’t been paying attention.
Let’s see, Erb thinks we’re a bunch of ants. I leave it to others to deduce his socio-political theory from that. And his favorite philosophy is Jonathan Livinston Seagull. The last time I heard anyone mention that book, outside of nostalgia games, was about 1980. What college is your degree from, Erb? Barnum and Bailey and Ringling College of Clowns in Sarasota?
If you doubt we’re like ants in trying to understand reality, I suggest you read Dr. Brian Greene’s *The Fabric of the Cosmos* which goes into modern physics, string theory and where science is right now in understanding our bizarre universe. As for Bach, I prefer his later books, *Illusions* is pretty good. As for my degree, the Ph.D. is from the University of Minnesota, the MA is from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (now called the Nitze school).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
One factor in freedom that many seem to forget: Freedom involves the possibility of failure. Seems to me that the discussion has devolved into whether not we should allow people to fail occasionally. In essence, equal outcome versus equal opportunity. What Erb is trying to do is guarantee that everyone is a success. That’s simply not possible. Indeed; it’s the one sure fire way to make sure everybody fails
Geez, you really need to read my posts more carefully (or my blog). Even in teaching I’m convinced that the possibility of failure is necessary. I absolutely agree that the possibility of failure is necessary, and in fact healthy. I am absolutely opposed to guaranteeing equal outcomes, that is the path to communist like drudgery and spiritual stagnation. But we should try, as much as possible, to provide if not equal, at least real opportunity — including a real chance of failure.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
In my view, Mr Erb is more or less suggesting that I work within the current regime, using its structures and methods, to gain incremental ground towards the goals I support. He thinks its proper to, for example, strategically vote and lobby even for things one might philosophically be against because they are moves toward a better "middle or differing position" than the current situation. If I understand correctly, he might, for example, vote for a tax increase or to expropriate land if he felt it was "to the greater good."
The only time I’d support those things is if I felt they were to correct a real structural injustice in the system. And then only to the extent that it would provide opportunity for the other to succeed (again, I distrust simple transfers of wealth, even if there has been injustice, because that usually doesn’t alter the underlying structural problem and often creates psychologies of dependency). A classic example would be the advent of public education and child labor laws. At the very least children of factory workers should have a chance for education, so that the game doesn’t get structured to favor one set of families as the wealthy and another as the poor or disadvantaged. Clearly, a voluntaristic mode of doing so would be most effective, but absent that, I clearly defined efforts to create opportunity for those disadvantaged, and in way that does not deny opportunity and only minimally harms those advantaged may be a worthwhile trade off. Since I do not try to find some kind of absolute coherent "ideology" to justify all actions, I’m comfortable saying, "this seems the best possible course of action given current circumstances, so I’ll support it."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You may disagree, but your argument and their argument is simply providing different definitions of freedom.
Yes, my definition doesn’t include robbery by proxy via the state. Yours does. My definition of freedom doesn’t include class envy. Your does. These facts are already in evidence. I have no interest in how a thief rationalizes his behavior—to the contrary, I abhor it.
I don’t accept "competeing and mutually exclusive" — that’s the language of ideology, and I reject ideology. I’m a pragmatist.
Yes, I understand completely. You’d put a bullet in my brain for not paying taxes or whatever if the proper authority convinced you it was good and necessary since you’re pragmatic, after all. That’s why people should fear you—you have no conscience. Nothing holds you back except the leash of your leader and your own squeamishness.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
That’s one view of sweat shops. Another view is that the owners use their wealth to create a situation of power with which they can exploit the work of others to enrich themselves...
...so far so good, although the terminology is loaded...
...denying freedom to their workers
Whoah Nellie!!!!

How did that jump get made?
...assuring that their children would remain fodder for their productive engines by working them early in the factory so they don’t get educated
their parents assuring that their children would remain fodder for the productive engines by working them early in the factory so they don’t (g*t *d*c*t*d) starve (fixed that for you)
If a child can’t get an education because he has to work in a factory so his family can survive, while the owner uses the wealth gained by that labor to assure his children are well educated and part of the elite, then effectively the child has been enslaved


?!?!?!?!?

If an adult can’t take a three-month holiday because he has to work in a factory so his peppercorn steak dinners arrive regularly, while the owner uses the wealth gained by that labor to assure his pool is cleaned weekly, then effectively that worker has been enslaved

I mean, is there a difference other than of degrees? Principles don’t do that, do they?

So, freed from starvation, maybe. And why is that all the angst goes against the guy who actually provided the jobs, even such as they were/are, moreso and most often to the exclusion of all the folks who did squat for the workers? Never could get a handle on that one.
You turn a blind eye to power based on position in the system
Like heck I do—lotsa folks got more (for instance) economic power than me, including my brother who I work for—and probably 3/4 of the planet is at least arguably arguably more handsome than me—and I’m follically challenged as well as I have a solid numeracy deficiency (as it happens)—and up untoil a few years ago I had my best plans more or less regularly interrupted while I got hospitalized every few years for recurrent months long bouts of cluster headaches. I’m a skinny bone-rack runt and had no chance at joining the Major Leagues. I wanted to be a famous musician but, alas, in spite of my skills and my admittedly mediocre (and interrupted) efforts to hit the big-time, I’m stuck playing weekend gigs and holding a day job, enslaved by...well, my brother...since Capitol and London Record executives thought other folks were more exploitable. I wasn’t even good enough for them to exploit, they figured.

I’m very aware of those sorts of power; I just don’t think they’re coercive.

Life ain’t fair....

Bithead: there’s no need to "allow" folks to fail occasionally; they do it often without permission and, often, in spite of their best efforts and the best intentions of those around them. Go figure :-)

 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
The only time I’d support those things is if I felt they were to correct a real structural injustice in the system. And then only to the extent that it would provide opportunity for the other to succeed
I understood that. That was my point.
At the very least children of factory workers should have a chance for education, so that the game doesn’t get structured to favor one set of families as the wealthy and another as the poor or disadvantaged
You’re a teacher. Find a poor place and go to it. I know you’ll probably have to leave the US so you can find factory workers poor enough their kids can’t go to school, but still, we have airplanes these days. You’re right—at the very least, those kids should have the school. Good on ya.
a voluntaristic mode of doing so would be most effective, but absent that
Why settle for second best? See above paragraph again.

Still leaves the beautiful and ugly kids to deal with because you know that ain’t gonna work out even—but it’s nothing I couldn’t even out/fix with a hammer. Actually, that’d even out the old intellectual ability stacked game too.
only minimally harms those advantaged
How would you know the harm you caused? It’s not all about dollars or status in life. Sometimes folks just care about things way more than my point of view might take into consideration—or for reasons I even think are damn silly, so—knowing that and working not t0 be arrogant—I do my level best to leave their stuff outta my plans unless we can work an agreement.
the balance is between heart and mind, sentiment and reason
Okay, but how come my sentiment doesn’t count big-time when it comes to your plans for my paltry pennies? Scott, I really care about ’em—not because I can buy things y’understand (you try to buy anything with a penny these days) and that would be materialistic anyways. But...it’s the colour, and the smell of them, the sound of them going click-clack in my hand, and the joy placing them on train tracks, and they remind me of being a kid and sharing penny candy with my friends and especially **choke/sniffle** with my dog, Buzz, who used to eat ’em and then puke a rainbow! I’ve thought this through (reason) using my head (mind), and I care a lot (heart) about my memories (sentiment). Seems balanced to me, and you still want my pennies.

 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Oh, and I noticed this regarding making education more affordable and accessible.

Odd how this is all an increasing priority after the baby boom done shuffled through, but I suppose it will work to maintain the market for teachers and...professors...even though demand might well otherwise diminish.

anyways, just sayin’...

 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
"Marxists invoke freedom to describe how the livelihood of workers is stolen through exploitation, while libertarians talk about govenment denying freedom through taxation."
It’s not that simple at all, Doktor, and you’re not going to get away with boxing the thing that arbitrarily.
"The term freedom has become more a political slogan than a real concept — it gets defined differently depending on whose ideology is being promoted. And, of course, each person using it insists they are using it correctly."
To begin with: the "concept" is originally "political", you pimped-out ignoramus. You’re talking about the branch of philosophy that examines the relations of human beings in social contexts. That’s what politics is, and that’s why freedom is naturally and necessarily a political concept. And if a concept refers to reality, then there is only one way to apply it, and your gibberish doesn’t qualify.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
That’s one view of sweat shops. Another view is that the owners use their wealth to create a situation of power with which they can exploit the work of others to enrich themselves...

...so far so good, although the terminology is loaded...

...denying freedom to their workers

Whoah Nellie!!!!
Why does taking some of your tax dollars constitute theft of your legitimate wealth? Your answer would likely be because you earned that money and thus have the right to spend it as you wish. That neo-Marxian would argue that all the work that the worker did really earned him the money that ultimately went into the owners’ pocket, and thus it was essentially like a massive tax. You oppose taxation because the government can use force to coerce you, focusing on direct threats of violence. The neo-Marxian analysis would say that the factory owner uses a force just as powerful and able to coerce: control of the means of production and the structure of the economy.

I think both you and the neo-Marxian have a point. You each see aspects of coercion. But since both of you want to form an ideology around it, and define things along one line of what freedom is and how the world should be, you only see one aspect of how freedom can be denied. If it doesn’t fit in your (or their) ideological framework, it’s not really freedom. The Marxists see "wage slaves," you see taxation as slavery.

You dismiss the real constraints and limits on the poor in the example to live full lives because of the nature of the social system as just "life is unfair." But one could say the same thing about you being in a system where you have to pay taxes — indeed, comparatively the unfairness you suffer is far less than that of a child who cannot get an education.

For me: freedom requires at least opportunity. When opportunity doesn’t exist because the system gives massive opportunities to some, and very few to others, then of course the "winners" will claim they deserve all they have, and the "losers" will say they’re being cheated. For Marxist, the demand was to destroy the winners, and force equality. That led to gulags and mass murders far worse than the suffering in the heyday of early capitalism. The answer is to accept life is unfair, but also note that to have freedom people must have opportunities. So while I won’t condemn all taxation given current conditions, I would note that my approach is focused on freedom, and thus distrusts the big government programs of the traditional left.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
For me: freedom requires at least opportunity.
Freedom is opportunity, you Marxist. Absent robbery, the only way a man may grow rich is by trade, which makes all parties better-off. Your Dickensian sweatshop view of the free market is laughable. You want to rob people because you think that someone’s "need" constitutes a valid claim on someone else’s life. It doesn’t work that way.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
"life is unfair."
Well, that’s actually not what I think, but it’s the usual way the complaint is voiced. More accurately, what I meant was metaphysically, the universe doesn’t give a flying you-know-what about our circumstances and that sometimes things just don’t work out even—and it’s nobodies fault.

See my self-description above for details on only one example of the "unfairness of the universe".


 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
"Marxists invoke freedom to describe how the livelihood of workers is stolen through exploitation, while libertarians talk about govenment denying freedom through taxation."
The difference between these two situations is categorical: the first involves an agreement that was entered into by both parties voluntarily, although certainly the bargaining power might not be equal—although that is not the of the factory owner. The worker could still
have just walked away from the deal with benign reality as the only penalty. The second is pure coercion backed up by the coercive power of the State.

Or: the difference between the two is: only one involves the direct instigation of coercion/aggression.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
should have been "although that is not the fault of the factory owner."
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Bithead: there’s no need to "allow" folks to fail occasionally; they do it often without permission and, often, in spite of their best efforts and the best intentions of those around them. Go figure :-)
By allow I mean to say that we shouldn’t be legislating a guranteed success... which is exactly what Erb, for all of his protests to the contrary, is promoting by suggesting we should give advantages to some.

At the basis of this, of course, is that it’s easier to steal from the productive than to either fix the perceived problem, or to watch people fail.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Addendum to Ron;

It still comes down to what I said before...

If there’s one thing the dealing with such people as taught me, it’s that being the victim, (or claiming you’re acting on their behalf) is far more acceptable to them than having to recognize and adjust for the intrinsic contradictions in one’s own politics and behavior.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
By allow I mean to say that we shouldn’t be legislating a guranteed success...

Bithead: Understood and agreed-I wasn’t arguing with you, more just expanding on your point. Given all the parameters that impact success (looks, intelligence, psychological perception, education, strength, abilities to process various types of information including varying degrees of teh ability to abstract, upbringing—financial, political and psychological, various sorts of physical disabilities (my poor eyesight/eyeglases meant no pro flying/Air Force for me, for example) and so on—it should be readily apparent that there is only one aspect of life where we are truly equal: we all get exactly one shot at it—and biliions upon billions of us in one state or the other don’t even get to the starting line or much past it.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
"Why does taking some of your tax dollars constitute theft of your legitimate wealth? Your answer would likely be because you earned that money and thus have the right to spend it as you wish."
...which is the actual fact.
"That neo-Marxian..."
...which would be you, except that you don’t have the sheer nerve of conviction to stand up straight, so you hide behind this rhetorical puppet of yours.
"...would argue that all the work that the worker did really earned him the money that ultimately went into the owners’ pocket, and thus it was essentially like a massive tax."
So, you’re telling me that my business arrangements — which I set up on my very own authority — are fraudulent whether I know it or not, so you assume the authority to appoint agents to unilaterally intervene for me and set things right, whether I want you to, or not.

Well, guess what, my little commissar: it’s none of you your affair. You would do well to mind your own business, before all this gets a lot angrier than you can ever manage.

Can you picture that?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Using ugliness as the criteria for succes for a minute, because we both know attractivenes counts—among other things...

I’ll accept that my hammer analogy closely resembles the methodology of the:
Marxist, the demand was to destroy the winners, and force equality
...
What you posit is akin to the State making at least a bit of plastic surgery available to any and all folks considered sufficiently ugly to "need" the help, paid for by extorting funds from all the folks who were fortunate enough to be born "attracive" maybe, or a little less directly-relative: just paid for by everyone you have decided has "enough" that they won’t miss the funds to any degree you think worth considering.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Bithead, you wrote:
If there’s one thing the dealing with such people as taught me, it’s that being the victim, (or claiming you’re acting on their behalf) is far more acceptable to them than having to recognize and adjust for the intrinsic contradictions in one’s own politics and behavior
Which was what I was referring to when I wrote: "There are really only two reasons why people act immorally: malice in support of avarice, and/or a careless but inherently arrogant desire for expediency."

Presumtuous might be a better term than arrogant but the style of reasoning and effect remains the same.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
So, you’re telling me that my business arrangements — which I set up on my very own authority — are fraudulent whether I know it or not, so you assume the authority to appoint agents to unilaterally intervene for me and set things right, whether I want you to, or not.
No, that’s not right Billy. I’m telling you that you are part of a society, and your opportunities and constraints are intimately connected to those of others, and while you may have an illusion that you are a truly independent actor operating on your own authority, you aren’t. That’s reality. I know you won’t accept it, and that’s fine. That fact of life means that we need some mechanism to mediate disputes that emerge, including disputes about the proper limits of individual activity. There is no way you can dictate to the rest of the world how they will let you operate — unless you retreat from all activity connecting to society. Again, that is an IS statement, not an OUGHT statement.

My argument is that you are right that a voluntaristic mode of interaction would be best (and ultimately my optimistic view is that generations down the line we’ll reach that state), but given current conditions there is no way in hell that it’s even realistic to expect much of a move towards that kind of system, in part because people don’t want it, and because the cultural requisites for such a system to work are not yet existent. Bombastic "it’s my life and you’re denying my freedom" statements followed by insults may be emotionally satisfying to you, but they are meaningless.

I personally dislike bureaucratic governmental regulations and centralization. I would prefer to see these processes decentralized to allow moves to more voluntarism and less regulation. But the bottom line is that given this world, governance is going to be through some kind of bureaucratic government for the conceivable future. The best anyone can do is to try to stop abuses of power, hold governments accountable, and try to limit governmental power. The best way to do that is to get people to think critically and recognize that the biggest obstacle to confronting reality is to be trapped in an ideology.



 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"...and while you may have an illusion that you are a truly independent actor operating on your own authority, you aren’t."
That’s what you think, fool. Do you know how many different people and organizations I’ve worked for in the past thirty years? It would blow what you’re pleased to call your "mind". And excepting the only time I ever got fired, I made every single one of those moves all on my own, which is exactly the way I wanted it: I designed it.
"That’s reality."
No, it isn’t, Skerb. It’s not even close. There is nothing factual in what you said. Nothing.
"I know you won’t accept it,..."
That’s because it’s not true. I am under no obligation whatever to "accept" patent nonsense.
"That fact of life means that we need some mechanism to mediate disputes that emerge,..."
You should speak for yourself, because the fact that you’re lame doesn’t mean that everyone else is. I don’t need you or anything about you, so you can take your condescending presumption and toddle on down the road.
"There is no way you can dictate to the rest of the world how they will let you operate..."
Standing on my own exclusive authority for my affairs is not "dictat[ing]", no matter to whom you have to lie...
"I personally dislike bureaucratic governmental regulations and centralization."
...about it or why.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
That’s what you think, fool. Do you know how many different people and organizations I’ve worked for in the past thirty years? It would blow what you’re pleased to call your "mind". And excepting the only time I ever got fired, I made every single one of those moves all on my own, which is exactly the way I wanted it: I designed it.
You really don’t get it. I can make the same claims of making moves on my own. When I quit working for Senator Pressler and decided to head back to the Midwest, unsure of my future, ultimately working as a night manager at a Rocky Rococo’s, people thought I was crazy. How could I give up a prestigious job with good pay to become basically a fast food manager earning $14,000. The reason was I decided politics was a dirty business and I wanted no part of it. I could have stayed on in DC, I had connections, but I wanted no part of the political game.

My dad was especially upset; he had to go from telling his friends his son was working for a Senator and going on trips to places like Greece and Turkey to saying I was night managing a pizza parlor in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Before my dad died years later he said that he had often been exacerbated by the choices I made, but he learned to respect that I always did what I wanted, regardless of what seemed to be the choice that "should" be made. To this day as a teacher I stress making choices based on what you want in life, taking risks, and taking responsibility for ones’ own life and choices. So don’t preach to me about making moves on ones own how one wants. That isn’t at all the point of what I wrote.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"How could I give up a prestigious job with good pay to become basically a fast food manager earning $14,000. The reason was I decided politics was a dirty business and I wanted no part of it."
Except, of course, for when you started feeding the downtrodden masses out of that kitchen.
"So don’t preach to me about making moves on ones own how one wants. That isn’t at all the point of what I wrote."
Hey: piss on you, Erb. When you come around jetting your smelly ink about "...and while you may have an illusion that you are a truly independent actor operating on your own authority, you aren’t," then I’m going to call you on it with the facts, sonny. And when you get up on your hind legs the way you just did, I’m going to point out that — squish and swish as you might — you’re not going to have it both ways. You might as well just come straight out as a goddamned commie and have done with it, because you’re not going to convince a rational individual with the cheap camouflage that you’ve been trying to run here, and especially when I’m on the scene to set fire to it.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
You might as well just come straight out as a goddamned commie and have done with it, because you’re not going to convince a rational individual with the cheap camouflage that you’ve been trying to run here, and especially when I’m on the scene to set fire to it.
I know you’re locked in your way of thinking, and you’ll not convince me of yours. It bothers you that I don’t think like you; I’m not bothered that you don’t think like me. But life goes on no matter who is wrong or right. And maybe that’s where this discussion should end. We at least agree that "Angry Young Man" by Billy Joel is musically a good tune (and I’ll grant you too that you have good taste in music).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

You really don’t get it. I can make the same claims of making moves on my own.
Your personal account didn’t do anything to support the assertion that individual authority is an illusion. Quite the opposite.

Did you forget what you were arguing? Were you just trying to one-up your opponent?
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
"I’m not bothered that you don’t think like me."
The difference between you and me is that I’m not the one who stands for government telling you how to live your life. The same thing isn’t true about you, no matter what you try to pitch around here.
"We at least agree that ’Angry Young Man by Billy Joel is musically a good tune..."
I don’t know what on earth ever gave you that completely impertinent idea, because I actually don’t.
"...(and I’ll grant you too that you have good taste in music)."
Who cares, Erb? Nothing on earth could be less important, because none of that makes one whit of difference when it comes to what you are.

Jeezis. Just drop dead.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
It bothers you that I don’t think like you; I’m not bothered that you don’t think like me.
If you thought you were Moses and insisted on carrying your "Ten Commandments" to the pigeons in the park, that would not bother me one bit, because you wouldn’t be hurting anyone else.

It isn’t the difference of opinion that matters here, but the very personal implications of your particular platform of beliefs.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
"It isn’t the difference of opinion that matters here, but the very personal implications of your particular platform of beliefs."
And that’s not to mention the implications of what this disgusting creep believes. This is not some innocent disagreement. Erb will do everything he possibly can to couch it like that, as if it’s a friendly disagreement over a backyard barbecue. It’s not.

Make no mistake about this — and he won’t mistake it, either, although you can bet he’s going to sneer — but this is fundamentally a dispute between the moral probity of life conducted according to the natural requirements of the entity involved and the downright evil politics of creatures who’ve sunk below their own nature. Human beings are the only animals that can do that, and Scott Erb really is a ghastly example of it.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"We at least agree that ’Angry Young Man by Billy Joel is musically a good tune..."

I don’t know what on earth ever gave you that completely impertinent idea, because I actually don’t.
Google Groups link
(Edit [Bryan]: Try not to throw off the margins.)
Your personal account didn’t do anything to support the assertion that individual authority is an illusion. Quite the opposite.

Did you forget what you were arguing? Were you just trying to one-up your opponent?
Individual authority is part of a social context. You have will, you choose, you have identity. But that social context is part of you as much as you are part of it. But I read your arguments and they are assertions — rather than attempt to really counter what I claim, I seem to be getting emotional assertions about freedom mixed with insults. That’s fine, but certainly not very convincing.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
But I read your arguments and they are assertions — rather than attempt to really counter what I claim, I seem to be getting emotional assertions about freedom mixed with insults.
No, Erb, he’s kicking your arse up and down the block for the whole neighborhood to witness. You’re just afraid to see it because then you’d be faced with the horror that your philosophy is a fraud and predicated on violence. You can’t even accept your own premises—what a joke.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
Individual authority is part of a social context.
So you’re saying that relationships between individuals involve the individual authorities of the respective participants? How does that support your assertion that individual authority is an illusion? You keep contradicting yourself, every time you try to explain yourself.
But that social context is part of you as much as you are part of it.
How in the heck does that work? I would expect such an arbitrary slogan to come from some rambling prose on mysticism.

You mention Richard Bach’s Illusions above in the context of discussing your own personal philosophical beliefs. You can’t walk through walls or fly in between raindrops, even if you really want to. If you’re going to have a grownup discussion about politics and ethics, you need to leave that sort of silliness behind and not let it confuse the matter.

If you actually think that individual authority is an illusion, then what do you not think is an illusion? What is real?
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
So you’re saying that relationships between individuals involve the individual authorities of the respective participants? How does that support your assertion that individual authority is an illusion? You keep contradicting yourself, every time you try to explain yourself.
Absolute individual authority as described by Beck is an illusion: we have limited individual autonomy. That’s clear if I were talking about nature — you can’t choose to have a sunny day if it’s cloudy. You can choose to travel to a sunny location. You can’t choose not to have a cold if you’re sick, though you can choose to try to take medications. I’m just noting that social structures are as real and unavoidable as nature if you are a functioning member of society. It impacts what kinds of choices you can make, how you think (we all would be very different individuals if we were born in a different culture or were raised differently than we were), and who you are.

Yet within the context in which we find ourselves, we have to take responsibility and exercise our individual authority. And no matter how much you choose not to believe me, I find governmental constraints to be unusually crude and gross in their penchant for abuse and absurdity.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
And no matter how much you choose not to believe me, I find governmental constraints to be unusually crude and gross in their penchant for abuse and absurdity.
If I saw a carpenter blaming his hammer, I’d stare in disbelief at that, too.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
(Erb’s Usenet cite...)
(hah) I’ll be damned. That’s pretty funny. I saw Billy Joel at Phillips Arena in Atlanta exactly one month ago yesterday: he opened the show with that song. I thought Steve Cohen’s lights were better than the music by a considerable length. I thought Billy’s performance was just about rote through the whole show that I saw, which was abbreviated because I left about two-thirds of the way through the set list. "AYM" in particular left me cold. It’s a damned funny thing how one’s view can go to hell in only eight short years.
"Absolute individual authority as described by Beck is an illusion: we have limited individual autonomy. That’s clear if I were talking about nature — you can’t choose to have a sunny day if it’s cloudy."
Watch him, folx. Like a child with beans in his ears, he is simply not going to give up his equivocation of things that are immutably given by nature (like the weather) and things for which human beings are responsible (politics, which is the subject here).

Now, you get to figure out whether he’s doing that on purpose.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Watch him, folx. Like a child with beans in his ears, he is simply not going to give up his equivocation of things that are immutably given by nature (like the weather) and things for which human beings are responsible (politics, which is the subject here).
My point is precisely that social reality confronts an individual in a way analogous to nature. We have real constraints when we are born in certain circumstances. A person born in famine ridden third world country is not going to have the same possibilities in life that someone born into opulence. That’s just an extreme example. If you, Billy, had been stolen after birth French parents and raised in Paris, you’d have become a different person than you are today and believe different things, even if you had the same DNA make up. The social world, though made up by individual choices and actions, combines to affect other individuals in a way that can’t easily be altered. That’s why I focus on culture: the only way to change large enough numbers of individual behaviors to truly alter these constraints and conditions is by changing the culture, changing the values that are predominant.

That’s why I think a totally voluntaristic anarachy cannot work unless supported by a culture which can support such a system (same with democracy or any other imaginable form of social organization). The evil of communism came not from the ideas per se, which envisioned among other things a withering away of the state. Rather, they thought it could be forced upon humans from above, or that as Pol Pot and Mao thought, the culture could be changed through coercion. That is precisely why I also distrust governmental power even in democratic settings. However, given reality, I don’t reject it or think it can never do good; rather, it has to be monitored, held accountable and limited. Over time, the culture may (and hopefully will) change to allow a voluntaristic society. I doubt it will be soon.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"My point is precisely that social reality confronts an individual in a way analogous to nature."
Very well, then: so much for Anne Frank.

"Nothing to see here. Move along, citizens."

There is your humanitarian: Scott Erb.


Now, for people with actual brains in their heads, the point of my example is that if what this freak says is true, then there simply is no rational reason for objection to any violation of rights. Observe that he doesn’t deny what I pointed out as his equivocation. Indeed, he ratifies it: he calls it "analogous", and in the context of his "social reality", it’s obivous that he means exactly what he’s saying. If you watch him closely enough, he’ll try his hardest to weezil out of the necessary philosophical implication that reality is "constructed" by human beings — especially when you get enough of a herd of ’em together. (Look: this is rife throughout socialist literature. There simply can be no denying it.)

Nobody in the world would indict a hurricane for murder, precisely because there is no moral component to it. It simply is what it is, thrown down by reality completely beyond human volition in any of it.

And that is what he’s saying about politics.

On this view, then, you could go through the whole bloody panoply of politically organized human predation — Nazis, Soviets, Mao, black slavery in America, take your pick — and never find cause for moral outrage over any of it, because it’s just the way it is: it’s just given, instead of indictable as wrong in the way that we would never indict a hurricane. It’s all the same to Scott Erb.

...except for one little thing, of course:

He he gets to slither in here and pimp for human action to alleviate what he’ll tell you are moral injustices by way of the state.

Apart from that — the concept that he steals — there can be no such thing as morality with someone like him because whatever the herd can swing is just the way it is.

Does everyone here understand this?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I don’t know of a better way to change the culture than to carefully monitor me and ensure my actions consistently conform to the morality I hold. That way (besides holding enough personal consistency that I’m not just dismissed as a hypocrite) at least, I don’t make the problems worse and folks can’t point to my behaviour and say "well, the culture ain’t quite ready for that yet, see?"
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
Jackson, M (1988)
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Boris Erb writes:
Over time, the culture may (and hopefully will) change to allow a voluntaristic society. I doubt it will be soon.
As I pointed out here the other day, American society has deep voluntaristic roots and is changing in the other direction, toward totalitarian socialism. Here in the most amazing country in the history of the world, which grew into its greatness because of freedom, you now have more pig snouts at the trough than you do free men making their way.

So, my dear Erb, that is precisely how we find you as a tenured faculty boob at a state college, infecting the backwoods children with socialist clap while telling them that someday the culture will "change to allow a voluntaristic society" that people like you have been killing off for a century in the name of "progressive" politics.

Civil rights for blacks grew out of basic American principles of freedom and equality under law. Socialist Insecurity and Mediscare grew out of commie stupidity, ruining retirement and health care, respectively, while bankrupting the future. Businesses, especially small businesses, are hamstrung by regulation. Property ownership has been converted to serfdom by property taxes. Public schools are taxpayer rip-oofs that have been turned into Lefty cultural re-education camps and full employment for teachers union boobs who are even dumber than you are, which is saying something.

Yeah, "I doubt that it will be soon" before any of that goes away.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"My point is precisely that social reality confronts an individual in a way analogous to nature."

Very well, then: so much for Anne Frank.

"Nothing to see here. Move along, citizens."

There is your humanitarian: Scott Erb.
You appeal to emotion there, but since Anne Frank did exist and did suffer, it seems my point is accurate. Remember, I’m making is statements here, not ought statements.
Now, for people with actual brains in their heads, the point of my example is that if what this freak says is true, then there simply is no rational reason for objection to any violation of rights. Observe that he doesn’t deny what I pointed out as his equivocation. Indeed, he ratifies it: he calls it "analogous", and in the context of his "social reality", it’s obivous that he means exactly what he’s saying. If you watch him closely enough, he’ll try his hardest to weezil out of the necessary philosophical implication that reality is "constructed" by human beings — especially when you get enough of a herd of ’em together. (Look: this is rife throughout socialist literature. There simply can be no denying it.)
No rational reason to object to a violation of rights? If you mean can one be grounded in pure reason and defended as truly rational and objective you’re right, I don’t think you can have a purely ’rational’ reason. My blog of April 3rd "Heart and Mind" posits sentiment as a major source of ethics. I don’t think you get ethics from the mind, I think the mind creates rationalizations of why ones’ sentiments should be considered ethical. And, since I’m an actor in the world with my own values based on a balance of sentiment and reason, I have a rational reason to promote my moral values — a desire to have a world I think moral and ethical.
I don’t know of a better way to change the culture than to carefully monitor me and ensure my actions consistently conform to the morality I hold. That way (besides holding enough personal consistency that I’m not just dismissed as a hypocrite) at least, I don’t make the problems worse and folks can’t point to my behaviour and say "well, the culture ain’t quite ready for that yet, see?"
I agree. One reason I left politics is I realized the moral compromises would be immense. I live according to my ethical beliefs as much as I can, and try to correct myself when I don’t. When I advocate for policies its almost always things like not using the power of the state to kill in a war. For awhile in the 90s I drifted more to seeing government as balancing the structural power I discuss so often in this thread 5706. I still think that argument has some strong points, and thus I do not see taxation as always immoral, and government conduct as always immoral. But I’m far more skeptical than most (though obviously not to the extent you are). What gets me is when people who claim to distrust big government support things like the state going to war with Iraq and using massive power to kill people and try to control world events — or in the case of Iraq to engage in a huge "big government social engineering experiment" to remake Iraqi politics.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott, Re sentiment and reason;

Your assertion that "the mind creates rationalizations of why ones’ sentiments should be considered ethical", still provides no justification for advocating the imposition of State force—or even for the mere existence of the State.

Look at it this way: in a very real sense, even what you or I think/feel is *better* for people (others or me or you) has absolutely no place in a discussion on whether or not a government itself or a particular government policy should exist.

Where do you or I get a right to impose our world-view, or our ethical goals, on other people? I mean, self-defence is one thing and coercion another—and the distinction is clear:

(paraphrasing an argument I think comes from Rand) If I defend myself I gain nothing. If successful, I merely retain what I have minus the efforts of defense; I’m clearly not ahead of the game. Additionally, with defense, if I stop someone from taking something of mine, I have caused them no loss. They have not gained, but any loss they sustain is what they put at risk for their attempt—their choice. Defense is "insistence on the neutral"; it really can’t even be looked on as "working toward the good"; it merely maintains what presently exists.

Coercion, however, is always an attempt to gain without agreement; it is always the use or threat of pain/loss towards another, regardless of degree.

Consequently, discussions about what we "wish", or think future generations will attain, how we invented/discovered rights, and/or why a certain ethical position is supported, no matter how useful for other discussions, are red-herrings on this one, Scott.

Ethical behaviour regarding the concepts of gain and loss requires real ownership of property and person, and the use of voluntary contract and agreement. All else is an assault.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Ron — you notice direct coercion, you don’t acknowledge the structural force that wealth and power give actors to structure the situation so they and their progeny benefit, while others are limited. They may not even realize that’s what they’re doing, but it works out to create constraints on the effective liberty of some, and expanded opportunities for others. We both oppose coercion. I recognize that governmental action is coercive. But so are the more subtle forms of structural coercion. That creates a very difficult situation with no clear answers.

The epic political battles are between those who recognize structural coercion and want to stop it with the power of government, and those who recognize governmental coercion and want to limit or eliminate it. Yet both forms of coercion are real, and the "solutions" to each are contradictory. We need creative thinking on this; the old ideologies (in fact ideology itself) are not enough.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
you don’t acknowledge the structural force that wealth and power give actors to structure the situation so they and their progeny benefit, while others are limited
I don’t need to acknowledge that structural force in this discussion. It exists but it’s irrelevant. My political intent is not reparative but instead neutral, defensive and *respectful*. In any case, wealth and power require government for their survival by any but voluntary means over anything but the short term.

My personal intent is to some degree reparative and my default relationship with people around me is benevolent and generous but that’s personal. The ways I might recommend people deal with one another is for other discussions and is not connected with State interventions.

When it comes to a creative view, the best I can offer is perhaps its time to stop thinking of government as a solution to the problem of itself. There is some logic to fighting fire with fire but not when you’re in the middle.

I saw the Berlin Wall fall when a critical mass of Soviet citizens simply joyously ignored the government, rendering it powerless and irrelevant and the surrounding Soviet fiefdoms threw off folks like Ceauşescu and Hoxha as soon as Soviet protection was removed.

They voted it right back up, though but not because they just plain loudly and eagerly craved it. Sadly, they still thought (and had always been taught) some sort of State was necessary and they had been conned into thinking democracy was an end, not a means, so a-voting and re-bureaucratizing they did go.

The result was a KGB/Mafia aristocracy replacing, well, to a large degree, themselves—a regime that illustrates it’s reduced appetite for plunder by coveting and brutalizing Chechnya instead of Afghanistan.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Addendum: re
they had been conned into thinking democracy was an end, not a means, so a-voting and re-bureaucratizing they did go.

The result was a KGB/Mafia aristocracy replacing, well, to a large degree, themselves
...having convinced the Russian citizens they needed a replacement government fast, eagerly volunteering to "protect and run this new freeedom".
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
I don’t need to acknowledge that structural force in this discussion. It exists but it’s irrelevant. My political intent is not reparative but instead neutral, defensive and *respectful*. In any case, wealth and power require government for their survival by any but voluntary means over anything but the short term.


Structural force is very relevant; its existence is a main reason why governments exist. Wealth and power will create a government to codify their position. Usually it’s a kind of mafia gang, perhaps a monarchy, but something to assure their position. Over time people with less power have fought to make that accountable to the people through democracy and rule of law. Get rid of that, you’ll just end up with some group asserting power and forming their own government.

Unless you deal with the impact of structural power you will have government. People will gain benefits and try to keep them, and find force and taking power the most efficient way to do so. At least, that’s what a read of world history and current events demands. In theory one can imagine an anarcho capitalist system working, and in theory one can imagine a perfect communist system working. Both theories make massive simplifications and bring in numerous assumptions about reality. Both have to look to totally different cultures to try to find an example that they can work (native Americans or some even try posit Icelandic society 1000 years ago — the fact they have to dig so far back to get examples about which we have very limited information is telling.

The East Germans did take matters into their own hands with the fall of the Berlin wall (though similar attempts in Hungary, Poland the Czechoslovakia had failed in the past due to Soviet force), but as you note, they quickly chose a new form of government.

Governments exist because our social-cultural-economic system creates conditions which foster governments and in fact requires them. The only way to change that is for changes in political culture. That takes generations, even centuries, and goes slowly. Attempts to speed it up by force (which I know you would not advocate) do not work, and in the hands of those less focused on freedom than you are have led to mass atrocities.

Yet I agree that government is a problem, though reflective of the problem in our culture. I quit politics and am not at all an activist for candidates running for things or particular laws. I don’t play that game in part because I agree with you that government isn’t the solution. But while talking about it, I also think focusing on government as the sole problem without acknowledging that it exists because of the kind of society we have is short sighted. Get rid of government tomorrow, and a new one will pop up. You’ll never have a libertarian or anarchical society unless you have people who think far differently than they do now.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb,

"A good quote, I like it. I am absolutely certain of my core values. That certainty cannot come from reason alone though, or from first principles. It has to be in ones’ heart, conviction through sentiment given form by reason and rational thought."

You didn’t have much use for it in the context of our Usenet discussion:

http://tinyurl.com/2w84u8

since it is from my long post on the fallacy of the ethical subjectivism and legal positivism of Hans Kelsen, and how that formed the philosophical basis for the downfall of Weimar.. The fact that you arbitrarily engage in "shielding skepticism" in favor of your own beliefs is obvious, just as it is obvious that sentiment is worthless in a world of objective human relations. It is ultimately reason that offers grounds for adopting moral beliefs in community. You do not really "like" the quote, since Maritain is a Thomist whose philosophical position is that foundational principles DO exist and govern human social interactions. That’s exactly what he is appealing to in the citation.
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com
To blazes with TinyURL:


http://groups.google.com/group/
alt.society.liberalism/
browse_frm/thread
/3a34191d4b55e59d/52f906f128d2e46d?lnk=
st&q=%22Article+48%22+author%3AErnest+author%3
ABrown&rnum=18#52f906f128d2e46d

Edit [Bryan]: HTML is your friend. Link.
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com
"You’ll never have a libertarian or anarchical society unless you have people who think far differently than they do now."
Which, of course, is your whole purpose in the academy.

Right.

Ernest — ""shielding skepticism".

Damned right. The determination to not think is a particularly awful depravity. Observe this thing’s hip-shake all the way around the implications of Anne Frank for his "philosophy".

Never in my life have I dealt with anything so consistently sick as Erb has been from the very first day that I laid eyes on him.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Damned right. The determination to not think is a particularly awful depravity. Observe this thing’s hip-shake all the way around the implications of Anne Frank for his "philosophy".
You are speaking non-sense, Billy. What are the implications of Anne Frank to my alleged "philosophy" - it’s cases like that which cause me to have the view I have and live the way I do! You say all these bizarre things about my beliefs, but never actually address what I really argue and claim. You enjoy simply attacking a straw man of your creation.

My approach to politics is driven by repulsion of how humans like Anne Frank or Cambodians under Pol Pot or Rwandans in 1994 or those who died in Mao’s great famine or those killed by Stalin’s purges were abused.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"What are the implications of Anne Frank to my alleged ’philosophy’- it’s cases like that which cause me to have the view I have and live the way I do! You say all these bizarre things about my beliefs, but never actually address what I really argue and claim."
That’s what you think, Doktor, even though you cannot think. This, of course...
"My point is precisely that social reality confronts an individual in a way analogous to nature."
...is what you said. The fact is that there is no morality in "nature" — it simply is what it is — but there is a crucial moral aspect in what the Nazis did to that little girl. If what you said was true, then there would not be. It’s all very elementary, Erb, and it directly addresses your very own point in your very own words.

You stepped it, and now you can wallow in it.
"My approach to politics is driven by repulsion of how humans like Anne Frank or Cambodians under Pol Pot or Rwandans in 1994 or those who died in Mao’s great famine or those killed by Stalin’s purges were abused."
Let me tell you something, Erb: where I come from, a goddamned liar like you would have his teeth kicked in just about as fast as a line like that dripped out of your face.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"What are the implications of Anne Frank to my alleged ’philosophy’- it’s cases like that which cause me to have the view I have and live the way I do! You say all these bizarre things about my beliefs, but never actually address what I really argue and claim."

That’s what you think, Doktor, even though you cannot think. This, of course...
Gee, you’re spending a lot of time on someone who can’t even think.
"My point is precisely that social reality confronts an individual in a way analogous to nature."

...is what you said. The fact is that there is no morality in "nature" — it simply is what it is — but there is a crucial moral aspect in what the Nazis did to that little girl.


Well, duh. Social reality confronted Anne Frank with as much power as nature might confront someone. That doesn’t imply that social reality has no morality like nature. There is no way you can honestly say that such a statement is implied by what I said. The reason why I make the arguments I do and approach social reality the way I do is because I believe that every human act and choice is has ethical/moral content and meaning. That is explicit and implicit in my perspective.
If what you said was true, then there would not be. It’s all very elementary, Erb, and it directly addresses your very own point in your very own words.
Again, you are absurdly wrong if you say that what I said somehow implied that human action had no moral content. That’s like saying that if someone made an analogy of water to oil, he was implying people could drink oil and satisfy their thirst with it. You are taking one attribute of nature (lack of morality) and, because I say the force of social reality was as real to Anne Frank as anything in nature was this somehow implies that other attributes of nature can be applied to humanity. That is a classic error of logic, and I suspect you’re smart enough to know that.
"My approach to politics is driven by repulsion of how humans like Anne Frank or Cambodians under Pol Pot or Rwandans in 1994 or those who died in Mao’s great famine or those killed by Stalin’s purges were abused."

Let me tell you something, Erb: where I come from, a goddamned liar like you would have his teeth kicked in just about as fast as a line like that dripped out of your face.
Fantasies of violence like that show what you are, Billy. It shows starkly what you are. My approach is driven by repulsion to those kinds of violence, and if you can’t accept that, or make a cogent argument against me, that’s your problem.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Gee, you’re spending a lot of time on someone who can’t even think."
"It’s a filthy job, but someone has to do it."
"That doesn’t imply that social reality has no morality like nature."
Yes, Erb, it does, no matter how you attempt to slide around it. You’re the one who made the analogy to nature. I’m telling you what it would mean if the analogy were true, which it isn’t.
"You are taking one attribute of nature (lack of morality) and, because I say the force of social reality was as real to Anne Frank as anything in nature was this somehow implies that other attributes of nature can be applied to humanity."
It’s your analogy, Erb. And I know that you’re too stupid to grasp the point and that you wouldn’t in any case because of what it means to your commie politics. Get this straight: I know why you pimp this analogy.
"Fantasies..."
You can put away your cheap bubble-gum machine psychology, professorboy: nobody is talking about "fantasies" except you. I’m telling you the facts.
"...of violence like that show what you are, Billy. It shows starkly what you are."
That’s exactly right, and that’s exactly the way I want it. Look over your shoulder into history, son, and recall the old lefty slogan: "The personal is political." I’m here to let you know that those idiots had it exactly backwards. And you’d better pay attention, because...
"...My approach is driven by repulsion to those kinds of violence..."
... at the rate things are going, you’re going to see just how completely wrong you are before the end of your life. Look around you. Get your head up out of your ass and smell the goddamned coffee beans, boy: not in whole generations has American culture sounded more like a bar-fight. There are good reasons for that, and your "approach" is why that’s happening. You can try to whistle past the graveyard all you want, but it won’t make any difference. There are people left in this country who will eventually fight for freedom, whether you like it or not, and that smiley-face act of yours will not save you from the general catastrophe when it finally comes to that.
"...and if you can’t accept that, or make a cogent argument against me, that’s your problem."
That’s what you think, but I know better. You are completely immune to argument, and the truth is not in you. You and your whole crummy ilk. Reason simply does not avail against the tripe that you constantly run, and — sooner or later — there will be only one alternative.

Christ help your sorry ass when that day comes, because there is no way in life that you’ll ever be ready for it.

You idiots really have no idea what you’re fooling around with.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
That doesn’t imply that social reality has no morality like nature."
Yes, Erb, it does, no matter how you attempt to slide around it. You’re the one who made the analogy to nature. I’m telling you what it would mean if the analogy were true, which it isn’t.
Billy, analogies are when you find comparisons between attributes of two things. It is a logical error to go beyond the analogy and try to claim that this means the two are alike. I could say "oil and water both pour," and if you said "you’re saying one can drink oil to quench thirst" you’d be expanding the analogy to something obviously unintended. That’s what you do in this case.

But your more interesting point:
... at the rate things are going, you’re going to see just how completely wrong you are before the end of your life. Look around you. Get your head up out of your ass and smell the goddamned coffee beans, boy: not in whole generations has American culture sounded more like a bar-fight. There are good reasons for that, and your "approach" is why that’s happening. You can try to whistle past the graveyard all you want, but it won’t make any difference. There are people left in this country who will eventually fight for freedom, whether you like it or not, and that smiley-face act of yours will not save you from the general catastrophe when it finally comes to that.
Why is my approach why American culture is devolving? What is the general catastrophe you see? There are many candidates out there — oil crises, terrorism, global warming, a clash between Islam and the West.
That’s what you think, but I know better. You are completely immune to argument, and the truth is not in you. You and your whole crummy ilk. Reason simply does not avail against the tripe that you constantly run, and — sooner or later — there will be only one alternative.
You aren’t even making an argument or confronting my arguments. You string together assertions, insults, and bravado. You seem afraid to actually talk, you don’t want to let down your guard one bit, you don’t want to show one bit of openness because you think that’s weakness it will somehow be giving me a victory. But do you really think your show really convinces people? It’s pretty obvious you’re not directly engaging my ideas.
Christ help your sorry ass when that day comes, because there is no way in life that you’ll ever be ready for it.

You idiots really have no idea what you’re fooling around with.
That sounds like vague posturing and maybe wishful yearning for some kind of apocolypse. Or perhaps you want some bravado to hide the fact you aren’t making any real point or argument. Well, unless you can provide some kind of substance to these assertions, you have nothing. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to do what I can to encourage free thinking, individuals taking responsibility for their lives, kindness as a principle for dealing with others, and understanding of the horrors humans are capable of when they lose their soul to an ideology or collective cause.

The first thing you need to do is recognize that this is no act. Your insults don’t bother me, I do not let others have power over me like that. I’m genuinely interested in what you think, and continue discussing to see what is behind the assertions you make. You seem to think I’m some kind of malevolent soul with evil thoughts hiding them in my public statements and pretending to be what I’m not. While I may be wrong in my views, what you see here is what I am.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"...of violence like that show what you are, Billy. It shows starkly what you are."
Yup. Honest and generous enough to provide a warning, which means: willing to fight but not a predator.

Some predators just attack; some lull the victims and then attack—but none of them give straight up warnings. There’s lotsa polite predators, many of whom will tell me how much I need them and their ideas as they raid my pocket/my life. Some will even explain how they’re tapering off victimizing, almost like they’re cutting down on cigarettes, y’know. They just need a few more before they quit, they say.

But now, Scott, you’ve heard this twice from people of very different temperament, once this way:
Look over your shoulder into history, son, and recall the old lefty slogan: "The personal is political."
and once like this:
My political intent is not reparative but instead neutral, defensive and *respectful*.
...but it’s the same message.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
By the way, a book you should read if you want an example of someone I consider to be an example of ethical conduct is Shake Hands with the Devil by Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire (now Senator Dallaire from the Canadian Senate). He was the UNAMIR commander in Rwanda. If you want an example of cowardly amoral/immoral conduct, look at President Clinton, President Mitterrand, and in general the UN Security Council during that time.

Or, compare Dallaire’s book with Michael Barnett’s Eyewitness to Genocide. Barnett worked at the UN at the Rwanda desk during the crisis, and for awhile he defended the UN until he realized that it was really indefensible that this was not responded to. He does a superb job of explaining how the bureaucracy (and I’d say any bureaucracy) dehumanizes and objectifies a situation, finding rationalization for considering the inconscionable to be necessary. (A good theoretical read on this same kind of thing I’m pretty sure you must have read is Hannah Arendt on the banality of evil). Then ask: what is the difference between Dallaire’s fundamental humanism (for him inspired in part by his Roman Catholic faith — but it obviously is internal to who he is) and the United Nations’s amoral rationalizations.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
By the way, nobody jumped on me for it so I presume I was understood as to what I meant, but I wouldn’t want to be misunderstood about this:
My political intent is not reparative but instead neutral, defensive and *respectful*.
I meant by neutral only, "don’t touch other people’s stuff and what you do with your stuff is your business." I’m not amoral and there are things I am absolutely for or against.

I meant like Switzerland: a gun in the home of every able-bodied male between 20 and 42 (I’m all for women and old folks who want them, too). Neutral.

 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
I meant like Switzerland: a gun in the home of every able-bodied male between 20 and 42 (I’m all for women and old folks who want them, too). Neutral.
To be sure, Swiss success is not due just to weapons — Yugoslavia similarly had a well armed populus and they took a different track. The Swiss system of decentralized federalism is a lucrative model. Would but the United States look more like Switzerland.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m telling you that you are part of a society, and your opportunities and constraints are intimately connected to those of others, and while you may have an illusion that you are a truly independent actor operating on your own authority, you aren’t. That’s reality. I know you won’t accept it, and that’s fine. That fact of life means that we need some mechanism to mediate disputes that emerge, including disputes about the proper limits of individual activity. There is no way you can dictate to the rest of the world how they will let you operate — unless you retreat from all activity connecting to society. Again, that is an IS statement, not an OUGHT statement.
That’s true, Erb — and irrelevant. Except that we don’t "need" a mechanism to mediate disputes. Two people can do that on their own, though the settlement isn’t always "ecological". It’s generally been more socially efficient to have some sort of justice system (which does not have to be a state). But, you know, I have never seen Billy dictate to the world how they will let him operate. He’s not stupid; he knows he doesn’t have that power. But he’s been real clear (unlike you) about how HE will operate, and if the world doesn’t like it, it can actually do what it threatens to do. This tends to disconfit the world, because its actors have to admit to themselves what they are doing.
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
Absolute individual authority as described by Beck is an illusion: we have limited individual autonomy. That’s clear if I were talking about nature — you can’t choose to have a sunny day if it’s cloudy. You can choose to travel to a sunny location. You can’t choose not to have a cold if you’re sick, though you can choose to try to take medications. I’m just noting that social structures are as real and unavoidable as nature if you are a functioning member of society. It impacts what kinds of choices you can make, how you think (we all would be very different individuals if we were born in a different culture or were raised differently than we were), and who you are.
The problem is that "social structures" are a dysphemism for a complex of individual authorities. What you’re arguing here is neo-feudalism; we all have our place in the Great Chain of Being, under our Lord and our lord. You’re ratifying that system; your only disagreement is that you’d like to be lord and collect your droit de seigneur. Beck has absolute individual authority over himself, but nobody made him (or you) God, to order around germs and clouds. Yes, if we’d been born in France we’d probably be slurping up your nonsense. Thank Goddess we weren’t.
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
Boris Erb writes:
Would but the United States look more like Switzerland.
Would but the apple look more like the orange.

One of the things I appreciate about Boris are those little ways he finds to prove me right when I say that he doesn’t know his own field.

"What shall we do with Comrade Boris Erb?"

"Best to place him out of the way. Send him to Maine, Ivan. No one will notice."

And then came the internet.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"Would but the apple look more like the orange."

From a more profound thinker than Erb:


"Well, art is art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like apple-sauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know."

G. Marx
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com
The problem is that "social structures" are a dysphemism for a complex of individual authorities. What you’re arguing here is neo-feudalism; we all have our place in the Great Chain of Being, under our Lord and our lord. You’re ratifying that system; your only disagreement is that you’d like to be lord and collect your droit de seigneur. Beck has absolute individual authority over himself, but nobody made him (or you) God, to order around germs and clouds. Yes, if we’d been born in France we’d probably be slurping up your nonsense. Thank Goddess we weren’t.
No, I’m arguing social science — how we understand facts about reality, not what ought to be or should be. We are all part of an interdependent world whether we like it or not, and it has consequences in real terms. I’m asserting, in essence, that you are making "ought" statements on what appears to be a misunderstanding of the "is" — the nature of social reality.
That’s true, Erb — and irrelevant. Except that we don’t "need" a mechanism to mediate disputes. Two people can do that on their own, though the settlement isn’t always "ecological". It’s generally been more socially efficient to have some sort of justice system (which does not have to be a state). But, you know, I have never seen Billy dictate to the world how they will let him operate. He’s not stupid; he knows he doesn’t have that power. But he’s been real clear (unlike you) about how HE will operate, and if the world doesn’t like it, it can actually do what it threatens to do. This tends to disconfit the world, because its actors have to admit to themselves what they are doing.
Again, as long as his operations in the world have an impact on others, he has to deal with the consequences of their choices, consequences which may include governments and legal systems. That’s the way the world is. And while two people can settle a dispute on their own involving only themselves, disputes about whether or not there should be a government and what its scope will be, etc., operate at a broader level. Ultimately the only argument I’ve seen against this is an assertion of ideological belief. That isn’t too persuasive (even when bolstered by numerous insults).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
No, I’m arguing social science — how we understand facts about reality ...
Epistemology is not equivalent to a bunch of academics sitting around making subjective guesses, grubbing for politically-motivated grants, and pretending to be able to find cause-and-effect relationships, even though there is simply no way to rewind history and slightly alter conditions to isolate factors.
... not what ought to be or should be.
You ought to be arguing against what people ought not to do. Otherwise, how is your "arguing social science" supposed to prevent victims like Anne Frank?
We are all part of an interdependent world whether we like it or not, and it has consequences in real terms.
Why do you keep implying that others do not "like" the fact that they can take advantage of the division of labor and economies of scale to have a bounty of goods and services on the market? Please name the specific individuals you imagine are doing this. Otherwise, just knock off the posturing.

What you keep doing, over and over, is pointing out the obvious fact of a large population then making a then-a-miracle-occurs leap to your politically-motivated conclusion that the morality of using aggressive coercion somehow gets hazy when there is a sufficiently large population.

Your so-called pragmatic arguments amount to trying to find a compromise on how to organize acts of rape, since rape inevitably occurs whenever there are groups of people.

Be a man and stand up for what is right today instead of promising that things will get better in a thousand years, maybe. That doesn’t help people suffering today.
Again, as long as his operations in the world have an impact on others, he has to deal with the consequences of their choices, consequences which may include governments and legal systems.
How do you figure that that restatement of the obvious in any way supports your arguments? If marauders are looting your house and terrorizing your family, you have to deal with them, too. Duh!

Why do you pretend that others are somehow denying the obvious? More posturing.
Ultimately the only argument I’ve seen against this is an assertion of ideological belief. That isn’t too persuasive ...
I said it before, and I’ll say it again:
Maybe it matters if you can prove an idea to reasonable, honest people. But it certainly doesn’t matter if you can’t prove it to someone bent on supporting thievery.
So you claim that you’re not "persua[ded]" by reasonable objections to being the victim of organized aggressive coercion, but since you clearly have the agenda of supporting the coercion, who cares what you claim?

  


‡ http://www.mises.org/story/1966

Edit [Bryan]: Link fixed.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
You ought to be arguing against what people ought not to do. Otherwise, how is your "arguing social science" supposed to prevent victims like Anne Frank?
I think my approach is far more effective than unrealistic and simplistic "government is bad" arguments. Government is simply one way in which humans organize to use power. If it’s not government, it’ll be big businesses unlimited by regulation, or mafia gangs. The market isn’t some kind of magical mechanism that will create justice.

Reality. Deal with it. But spare me self-righteous claims that somehow anyone who disagrees with your view and accepting some kind of government is somehow not doing anything to work against victims like Anne Frank. If you can’t feel free just because a government exists, that’s rather sad. That kind of fixation on governmental power to the neglect of all other kinds is not only irrational and contrary to evidence, but can lead to a false sense of self-righteousness and an inability to understand just how good you have it.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"...an inability to understand just how good you have it."
You simply have no ethical authority to go around telling others about their values, Erb.

Ever.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
You simply have no ethical authority to go around telling others about their values, Erb.
What the heck does that mean?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
It means that you’ve got a lot of goddamned nerve telling anyone else about what’s "good" for them. You are authorized to address such a thing in your own life, and that’s the whole extent of it. Values simply don’t work the way that the noises in your head are telling you they do.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
It means that you’ve got a lot of goddamned nerve telling anyone else about what’s "good" for them. You are authorized to address such a thing in your own life, and that’s the whole extent of it. Values simply don’t work the way that the noises in your head are telling you they do.
I certainly can say my opinion about how good someone might have it in life. It’s called free speech, and I do not need an authorization to use it. So tell me, how do values "work"?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’ve told you — over and over — how they work, and you’re still an idiot.

And, yes: you’re free to say any idiotic thing you want to, and you’ll still be an idiot. But when you start thwacking your ruler in your palm and lecturing on "reality" and how the trains are running on time — all while you’re pitching your cheap Mr. Rogers act around here — that goes way past idiocy, Erb. And you’re wrong. There have been examples — real-life examples of real people who know a lot better then you do about how they "have it" — posted right here in this thread. Nobody is making them up, but they’re the sort of thing that make your eyes glaze over in a dreamy technocratic haze precisely because reality doesn’t matter to you. And that’s how you get to say the outright idiotic crap that you do.

"Free speech" (which, actually, isn’t here, because this place doesn’t belong to you or me, but that’s a whole ’nother side-order of stupid with you) means that any lying crackpot can say anything that he wants to. It also only means more work for people who know the facts and the truth and have what it takes to put you in your crummy place.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
It also only means more work for people who know the facts and the truth and have what it takes to put you in your crummy place.
If you believe that and want to "put me in my place," then you have to actually make an argument and support it. What you give are a bunch of insults (and insults on this kind of forum are utterly meaningless) and assertions. Here you seem to think I’m saying that "everybody has it good," since you assert that there are real life examples of people who have had real problems (at least that seems to be what you’re claiming, you’re enigmatic as usual). I certainly wouldn’t claim that. Your inability to effectively argue against me is not because I’m some kind of magical mercury man able to weave words into a wild tapestry that confuses and mystifies. You’re not effective because you aren’t willing to stand toe to toe, put aside silly insults and bravado, and simply go idea vs. idea. Unless you do that, it generates noise, but not much else.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Wow, Erb, I can barely believe you just said you’re not telling people how good they have it...
Here you seem to think I’m saying that "everybody has it good," since you assert that there are real life examples of people who have had real problems . . . I certainly wouldn’t claim that.

...immediately after telling them how good they have it.
If you can’t feel free just because a government exists, that’s rather sad. That kind of fixation on governmental power to the neglect of all other kinds is not only irrational and contrary to evidence, but can lead to a false sense of self-righteousness and an inability to understand just how good you have it.
Perhaps your next move is to equivocate on the word "everybody"?
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
If you can’t feel free just because a government exists, that’s rather sad. That kind of fixation on governmental power to the neglect of all other kinds is not only irrational and contrary to evidence, but can lead to a false sense of self-righteousness and an inability to understand just how good you have it.

Perhaps your next move is to equivocate on the word "everybody"?
Read what I wrote carefully. The result of a fixation on governmental power can lead to certain outcomes, including the inability to understand just how good one has it. That doesn’t mean everyone has it good, only that those who do have relatively good life conditions may not be able to appreciate them if they are enraged by taxes or governmental regulation. They risk giving power over their emotional state to governments that tax and regulate. If it’s bad to give them your money, it’s worse to give them power over your emotions if you can help it!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
That doesn’t mean everyone has it good, only that those who do have relatively good life conditions may not be able to appreciate them if they are enraged by taxes or governmental regulation. They risk giving power over their emotional state to governments that tax and regulate.
You’re casting dissent as insubstantial whining. There’s more at stake than emotions here.
If it’s bad to give them your money, it’s worse to give them power over your emotions if you can help it!
It’s worse to succumb to some Stockholm Syndrome where you identify with the trangressions of the thugs with no moral authority.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
You’re casting dissent as insubstantial whining.
No - I just note that there is more to life than politics and having to deal with taxes and regulations. There’s nothing wrong with someone just paying their taxes and not thinking much of it if, say, they are enjoying their life in other ways. Don’t lose perspective — things may not be perfect, but they’re better than much of the world in much of human history.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

Government is simply one way in which humans organize to use power. If it’s not government, it’ll be big businesses unlimited by regulation, or mafia gangs.
You keep putting the use of aggressive coercion (government and mafia gangs) alongside people voluntarily exchanging values (business), without giving any heed to the ethical distinctions. Allow me a brief interlude to recall what you wrote previously about capitalism:

With capitalism a new class arises, and you have sweat shops and a great division between rich and poor, not based solely on productivity, and creating situations where a group structures the system so they have the most wealth, while the masses less – and where you are born in this system helps dictate what kind of opportunity you have.
Presumably, by "capitalism" you mean the massive boom of the Industrial Revolution. And, by "sweat shops" you mean factory jobs. But capitalism didn’t start with factories. History and archeological evidence demonstrate that markets involving negotiated exchanges of values have existed for millennia. And, the living conditions of factory workers were usually better than their agrarian predecessors, as evidenced by the population explosion and the increase in life expectancy. The factory jobs paid better and better, safer products were mass produced and available on the markets. Even farm work became easier and more productive as tractors and grain elevators were produced.

But you also make a huge blunder to claim that capitalism created a "new class" which formed "a great division between rich and poor." You’re either extremely ignorant or forgetful of history. The new class which emerged with the Industrial Revolution was the middle class, a far larger, more upwardly mobile population than occurred under feudalism or with slave labor. There, aristocrats were born into privilege which had more to do with the use of aggressive coercion (they were the government) than with productivity.

In short: your chief complaints about capitalism are generally 180 degrees away from reality.

That’s apparent even without noting your the use of the Marxist measuring stick of "productivity" (through physical exertion) and the "great division between rich and poor." Those are based upon class envy more than any rational ethical principles. If I can have a better life on an assembly line than driving a plow hitched to a mule, why does it matter that my employer gets fabulously wealthy or that his children live a life of luxury from birth? Unless he put a gun to my head or swindled me, I have no good cause to object to his fortune. Sure, I may feel jealous, but that’s my fault. On the other hand, if I were a peasant working the land of some nobleman who used the sword to acquire his fortune and maintain our relative class positions, I’d have good cause to be resentful.

If you’re going to make these comparisons, you must stop tossing out the core attributes which are vitally important to making ethical distinctions.

Reality. Deal with it.
This is reality, also.

Instead of addressing the roots of these atrocities and impending tyranny, you discard them as unimportant, citing pragmatism.

Yes, people form governments most everywhere and we have to deal with that. Obviously. But it’s one thing to acknowledge the facts and quite another to try to pretty them up with excuses. I am fully cognizant of the reality that rape and murder will always occur, even amongst highly civilized populations. But I’m not going to throw up my hands and compromise with the perpetrators, rationalizing that it could be worse. That isn’t so much "deal[ing] with it," as it is burying one’s head in the sand an hoping not to be one of the victims.

But spare me self-righteous claims that somehow anyone who disagrees with your view and accepting some kind of government is somehow not doing anything to work against victims like Anne Frank.
That’s your straw man. I’m not discussing just "anyone." I’m joining with others in discussing you and your fundamental principles (or lack thereof). There are implications to the ideas you propound.

If you can’t feel free just because a government exists, that’s rather sad.
Another straw man. Speaking of feelings and freedom, you never did explain how a man in chains on a plantation could use this bit of advice from you:

One secret to experiencing freedom (satisfaction and a belief of self-mastery) is not to give circumstances psychological power over you.
Resuming:

That kind of fixation on governmental power to the neglect of all other kinds ...
Another straw man. Who is "neglect[ing] ... all other kinds" of power? In a discussion about politics and philosophy, why is the attempt to draw precise and accurate observations of the moral dimensions of government somehow a "fixation"? And, why would such a "fixation" be a bad thing? Would you rather everyone be blasé about all this? Would it relieve your angst if they collected stamps and ignored the abuses inflicted by government agents?

... is not only irrational and contrary to evidence ...
What is the "rational" alternative? Giving equal time to worrying that IBM is going to start engaging in extortion or genocide? Is there some evidence that government power is not far and away the most dangerous? Even you acknowledge Stalin and Mao. Where’s the "big business" analogue to them?

... but can lead to a false sense of self-righteousness and an inability to understand just how good you have it.
I understand, better than you ever will, how good I have it and why. What grinds me is realizing how much better I, and many other Americans, could have had it, and how much worse it will be for my children and grandchildren in so many ways.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
You’re casting dissent as insubstantial whining.
No - I just note that there is more to life than politics and having to deal with taxes and regulations. There’s nothing wrong with someone just paying their taxes and not thinking much of it if, say, they are enjoying their life in other ways.
That’s a straw man, and a red herring. Who is attacking law-abiding taxpayers above?

You attacked people who justifiably object to being denied freedom, by deciding that their loss was insubstantial.
Don’t lose perspective — things may not be perfect, but they’re better than much of the world in much of human history.
Don’t lose perspective. This rape may not be perfect, but at least the rapist isn’t breaking the bones in your face and at least he is using a lubricated condom. Things could be worse.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
You attacked people who justifiably object to being denied freedom, by deciding that their loss was insubstantial.
No I didn’t.
Don’t lose perspective. This rape may not be perfect, but at least the rapist isn’t breaking the bones in your face and at least he is using a lubricated condom. Things could be worse.
It is disgusting when you compare paying taxes to being rape. It’s also counter productive on your part, as it destroys your credibility. Almost nobody would dream to compare the two, and when you do, you marginalize yourself.

Also, on an unprovable point: I don’t think you’d have it better if government was gone and you had what you imagine as total freedom. I think you are completely misguided on how the world works. But your ideology is by its nature unfalsifiable, so on that we’ll just have to agree to disagree — even if you don’t like how people who disagree with you act on their disagreement. Everybody makes choices based on what they believe; those who don’t share your beliefs about the nature of freedom and reality aren’t going to choose in a way you think legitimate. That’s reality.

Now, I’m obviously against dictatorships and want a limited government. Bringing up Anne Frank is ridiculous since clearly not all governments lead to holocausts! Your "defense" of capitalism combined with a statement comparing me to Marx is funny, since much of what you write about capitalism in history is very similar to what Marx claimed.

One thing Marx was right on is the notion of structural power. And as long as that exists, you’ll get people who will form governments to protect their ability to maintain their riches, and those who will act politically to try to create more justice. That again is reality. And it’s not as bad as you seem to think; I think you live far better than you would if we devolved into anarcho-capitalism. You don’t — you have your faith, it seems — and we just have to agree to disagree on that too.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Also, on an unprovable point: I don’t think you’d have it better if government was gone and you had what you imagine as total freedom. I think you are completely misguided on how the world works.
He still thinks he knows best for you. He’s incapable of thinking outside the Pragmatist’s paradigm. The rights of other people don’t need to be addressed—they can be dismissed as "ideology." It’s futile.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
He still thinks he knows best for you. He’s incapable of thinking outside the Pragmatist’s paradigm. The rights of other people don’t need to be addressed—they can be dismissed as "ideology." It’s futile.
Since I never claimed nor would I claim that I know what’s best for someone, that’s a straw man. I also reject paradigms. I also take human rights very seriously.

You are left with vacuous accusations and claims that essentially amount to saying "he doesn’t think like we do and so it’s not worth discussing." That means: you have a strong belief system. You are convinced you are right. That’s fine. But others think you are wrong, and that’s fine too.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You are left with vacuous accusations and claims that essentially amount to saying "he doesn’t think like we do and so it’s not worth discussing." That means: you have a strong belief system. You are convinced you are right.
"Hello, Pot? Hi, it’s the kettle again..."
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
"Hello, Pot? Hi, it’s the kettle again..."
I answer the questions and points made; you guys evade. I think you may be afraid to confront the possibility that your faith is in error.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The difference, of course, Scott is that your beliefs involve the compulsion of those who do not agree with you. As unrealistic as you may deem their position, it still remains that the belief system of those who disagree with you requires nothing of you except that you leave them alone.

That’s an important difference and one you never really acknowledge.
It is disgusting when you compare paying taxes to being rape. It’s also counter productive on your part, as it destroys your credibility. Almost nobody would dream to compare the two, and when you do, you marginalize yourself.
It might be a rarely held position, but that does’t make it incorrect. Taxes and rape are both examples of the taking of something by force without permission. They may not be equated but they can certainly be compared, and they don’t really differ in principle. The contrast between the two is that you don’t like rape and you don’t mind taxes or taxing.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
The difference, of course, Scott is that your beliefs involve the compulsion of those who do not agree with you. As unrealistic as you may deem their position, it still remains that the belief system of those who disagree with you requires nothing of you except that you leave them alone.
Yes, a salient point to which he’ll reply that even voluntary exchange is just an illusion due to unequal power distribution, or some other Marxist false-consciousness argument he’s made before.

But of course you’re right—the redistributionist parasite requires the willing consent of his host; that’s why he’ll argue until he’s blue in the face. Anyone who makes his own way in life can withdraw from his nonsense at anytime, which sounds like a fine idea at this point.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
The difference, of course, Scott is that your beliefs involve the compulsion of those who do not agree with you.


No! My beliefs allow people to act politically based on how they understand freedom and society. You think it is wrong for political action that might lead to a result that is contrary to your beliefs about freedom and society. Now, as long as you don’t force people to act in accord with your beliefs you at least aren’t self-contradictory. As long as you try to persuade, I can respect that.

You guys have particular beliefs about reality and the nature of freedom and society that cause you to see parallels between taxation and rape, and to be very vehement in your beliefs. That’s fine. I’m trying to understand you. I also sympathize. But ultimately I think your position doesn’t take into account the complexity of social relations and the way structural factors are as real a limit on freedom as governmental laws.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You think it is wrong for political action that might lead to a result that is contrary to your beliefs about freedom and society.
Actually, it’s a lot simpler than that. I believe the instigation of coercion is always wrong. I don’t support the democratic method even when it results in decisions I am comfortable with. That would be hypocritical and it would be making too much of lucky accidents and the simple fact that most people make reasonable decisions most of the time. Reasonable decisions are OK for personal decisions that are not coercive; it is not a sufficient standard for state action.
My beliefs allow people to act politically based on how they understand freedom and society
True. For example, your beliefs allow those who feel a majority is sufficient for the instigation of coercion to act in that manner without penalty.

The old joke about democracy being two wolves and a sheep discussing plans for dinner isn’t inaccurate. Further, to use an example: if three people decide to be an autonomous democratic collective with majority rule as the principle for decisions, the third has no defense in democratic theory should two decide murder of the third fits the bill for righteous action. In order to defend the intended victim, one must revert to defending the rights of individuals.

Look, there’s a huge catch-22 in the room. The need for government is posited because folks argue that people won’t make the right decisions without it. Well, if that’s true, how do those same people suddenly become capable of electing a valid and legitimate government?
your position doesn’t take into account the complexity of social relations and the way structural factors are as real a limit on freedom as governmental laws
The difference between the structural impediments you note and laws is this: if I succeed in breaking through those structural impediments, I am a success and I am more free. If I break a law, I am a criminal.

Further, I’m very aware of the complexity of social relations; I don’t support the instigation of coercion to limit that complexity; I’m not frightened of it, I don’t try to control it, and I don’t want to control it. I like it.

I think it especially telling that folks who claim to take a so-called "modern" or "quantum" view of the complexity of social interactions are among the leading exponents of attempting to control it or channel. I think underestimating the complexity is the main reason folks think that state action will succeed when it won’t, and that it additionally blinds folks to the unintended consequences of many/most of their societal plans.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Look, there’s a huge catch-22 in the room. The need for government is posited because folks argue that people won’t make the right decisions without it. Well, if that’s true, how do those same people suddenly become capable of electing a valid and legitimate government?
Just a quick addition to my point above...

If you instead argue that people are capable of making the right decisions, then they don’t need the government.

Y’can’t really have it both ways.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Reasonable decisions are OK for personal decisions that are not coercive; it is not a sufficient standard for state action
I presume you’ll know what I meant, but just in case...

I meant that reasonable decisions most of the time is an OK standard for personal decisions that are not coecive. However, it certainly isn’t a sufficient standard for jailings, fines and executions.

And really, other than jails, fines and executions, exactly what does a state have to offer? Those three options effectively sum up all of the state’s essential methods for supporting its aims and enforcing its edicts. Methods that are more gently persuasive are really only examples of the state hording its essential resources, because if the gentler methods don’t work, we all know what the bottom line is.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
My beliefs allow people to act politically based on how they understand freedom and society.
Including Marxists and Nazis.

Before you said:
Now, I’m obviously against dictatorships and want a limited government.
That is not, at all, obvious in your unrelenting defense of people who "understand freedom and society" to mean they get to take and kill if there is a big enough mob behind them, or even if they just presume to speak for some mob.

Ultimately, you offer no good reason not to slaughter Anne Frank, if one "understand[s] freedom and society" in a way that makes her life dispensable.

One more thing:

It is disgusting when you compare paying taxes to being rape.
I never made any such claim. I drew the comparison between being forced to pay taxes under threat of prison, foreclosure, and financial ruin, and being raped.

You’re all about excusing the use of aggressive force with sophistry. You’ll keep going on and on like a broken record.

Idiot.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://
Actually, it’s a lot simpler than that. I believe the instigation of coercion is always wrong. I don’t support the democratic method even when it results in decisions I am comfortable with. That would be hypocritical and it would be making too much of lucky accidents and the simple fact that most people make reasonable decisions most of the time. Reasonable decisions are OK for personal decisions that are not coercive; it is not a sufficient standard for state action.
Ron: You make interesting points on complexity. I think they have some merit. But since I believe that structural coercion is real, and people can choose through democratic means (with rights protected and rule of law) to find collective ways to remedy some of those structural flaws (not eliminate them or force equality), we’ll disagree.

And there is no way to prove either of us "right." Thus, it is an inherently political question, and neither of us can expect others to adhere to our beliefs, unless we persuade them.

But I understand your view and respect it, and I think that efforts done to remedy what I would see as legitimate significant structural obstacles (ones that deny basic freedoms, and make it much more difficult, if not impossible, to succeed in material terms) should only be taken carefully. That is usually not the case, and thus we get massive government bureaucracy.

As for the capacity of two people to make the right decision — I think small towns and villages could probably function without government. But most people choose government of some sort, and probably would if it were suddenly gone. In a pragmatic way, the only way your preferred way of doing things will be adopted is if people choose that path. That requires a shift in culture. To be optimistic, you may simply be a few centuries ahead of your time.

Now to Elliot, you really need to learn that there is a difference between Nazis killing Anne Frank, and the kind of republican rule of law I would support. It’s not just your way or the "mob’s" way! It’s one thing to have strong views, but you defend them by caricature and extreme statements that boil down to anyone not thinking like you is in essence accepting of communists and Nazis. You seem to think that since I can’t prove that it’s wrong to kill Anne Frank, then somehow I have no standing to act politically to try to prevent such things. That’s my point: we don’t need proof, we don’t need to believe we have the answer key, or the right and correct view of the world. Those things are beyond our capacity, I’m convinced. But we still can make calls and try to deal with the complexity of the world. You’re letting your emotion come through, Elliot, rather than reason.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
And there is no way to prove either of us "right." Thus, it is an inherently political question, and neither of us can expect others to adhere to our beliefs, unless we persuade them.
Still returning us to this essential difference:

I don’t expect others to adhere to my beliefs but I also will not force others to comply with my view. That’s an essential difference because many of those who disagree with me require my forced compliance for their plans even as minimally intrusive as they (you?) suppose them to be—and they (you) are perfectly willing to marshal the forces of government to enfoce my compliance.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Still returning us to this essential difference:

I don’t expect others to adhere to my beliefs but I also will not force others to comply with my view. That’s an essential difference because many of those who disagree with me require my forced compliance for their plans even as minimally intrusive as they (you?) suppose them to be—and they (you) are perfectly willing to marshal the forces of government to enfoce my compliance.
Except they define force differently. To many, the structural force that creates social classes is real and a kind of violence which government needs to mitigate, otherwise some will be oppressed by the way wealth and power structural social relations even absent government. Now, I know your response, and you have good points, as do those who focus on structural power. To them you are reinforcing those structures, which as real a form of force as is governmental power. This is an essential difference in defining what force, coercion and freedom mean. And I don’t know how one can determine who is right, since at base core, unfalsifiable, assumptions differ.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
the structural force that creates social classes is real and a kind of violence which government needs to mitigate
Well, the first part of this is almost true; the structural forces that..."create" I’m not sure is the right word, so I’ll use "identify" social classes are real but these structural forces affect us all, not just some delimited groups, and they’re malleable and fluid as all heck. Still, I don’t summer in the Hamptons, nor was I fortunate enough to attend, say, Cambridge; I drive a 94 Taurus wagon (love it, as it happens) and don’t own a home.

My folks weren’t rich and although I never went hungry, it is also true that sometimes there weren’t a lot of extras. Admittedly, my social status at school climbed somewhat in 3rd grade when my aunt sent me a complete Paladin (Have Gun Will Travel) outfit, with cowboy shirt, holstered six-guns, gambler necktie and watch, but that only lasted a couple of days. After that it was back to "four-eyes". Besides, flaunting my outfit was, in restrospect...inappropriate, as it required me to brandish a replica weapon in a schoolyard.

I’ve noticed, though, that other folks have it better and others worse, and folks travel up and down from their birth family status all the time, some easily and some with difficulty. I see them going by me in both directions, amidst my own wobbles. Welcome to Earth.

But, to quote Father Guido Sarducci: "the western hemisphere-a is-a the best-a hemisphere-a on earth" and when it comes to the lottery of life, if you were born in North America, you already won one of the grand prizes, so I’m a winner from the get-go.

So, I think it’s a real stretch—and a stretch not motivated by any noble impulses—that calls those aspects of reality "violence". And, just to mention, I’ve lived as a minority twice in my life, and I’ve encountered rascism and reduced job and social possibilities because of it (it wasn’t fun but the whole world ain’t like that). Welcome to Earth.

I expect to be equal before the law, such as it might be (actually, I insist on it to the best of my ability)—but all the rest is chance and opportunity, gain or loss, planning or impulse, and good decisions or bad, at birth and throughout life. And there’s lotsa folks out there who have plans that just don’t even consider me, and sometimes our interests collide...well, I don’t cheat and if they don’t cheat I don’t care even if they have twenty yard lead. Best man wins, sportmanship, love of the game, and all that.


Damn the unfairness of the world, but I fear I must accept that it is unlikely I will be dining at Pierre Gagnaire or Jean Georges in my lifetime.

But it’s possible.
To them you are reinforcing those structures, which as real a form of force as is governmental power.
Reinforcing is a verb; it implies action by definition. I reinforce nothing by refusing to aggress, even when I refuse to aggress on behalf of people who define themselves as oppressed; at worst my influence could be declared neutral. Call it passive resistance, maybe—but that’s passive, not active.
This is an essential difference in defining what force, coercion and freedom mean.
Those folks who define my passive stance as "reinforcing their oppression" have to turn language on its head to define "freedom": as something that is attained by enslaving me, to any degree.

Similarly, defining something I don’t do as "coercion" gets us a tragic step closer to the point that random grunts might as well suffice as dipthongs. As far as force goes, my economic terrorism (which is: voting with my dollars) is limited to value-for-value exchanges at places like Wal-Mart (my bit to support international trade, cooperation and increased economic opportunities for third world workers), cottage industry purchases of custom guitars (keeping local artisans out of the poorhouse), and buying lottery tickets (read as: high risk, very high leverage investments).

In short, when people vote to force me to support something, its patently clear who is pushing who around.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Ron, I really do understand your argument, but I’d note a couple of things. First, what happens when you leave the first world and you find arguments about how colonialism and western hegemony structured the world economic system to continually benefit the industrialized West? That’s a heated debate in academia, and between the developed and developing world.

Domestically, who has the best chance to succeed, given equal talent and equal effort: a kid born to drug addicts in a ghetto, or a rich suburban kid? Clearly structure does empower and constrain. I am not in favor of trying to level that, but in some cases these structural barriers severely limit freedom by privileging some and limiting others. In such cases, taxation is simply taking a bit of the extra privilege from one group to try to expand opportunities to the other (in other words, focus on opportunities rather than outcomes).

Now, the problem with the state is that this becomes politicized and bureaucratized so there is often a huge disconnect between real structural limits on liberty and massive government programs. The only way I can see around that is to try to have government limited, accountable to the people, and preferably small (small meaning covering small population areas — I’d prefer most laws to be local or over a small region). Practically, as long as people perceive injustice in the way wealth accumulates and gets passed down, there will be unrest and revolution. Here is a quote from Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, who led the UNAMIR peace keeping mission in Rwanda, and who tried desparately to help the Rwandan people while the UN and the major powers abandoned them:

"But many signs point to the fact that the youth of the Third World will no longer tolerate living in circumstances that give them no hope for the future. From the young boys I met in the demobilization camps in Sierra Leone to the suicide bombers of Palestine and Chechnya, to the young terrorists who fly planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we can no longer afford to ignore them. We have to take concrete steps to remove the causes of their rage, or we have to be prepared to suffer the consequences. The global village is deteriorating at a rapid pace, and in the children of the world the result is rage. It is the rage I saw in the eyes of the teenage Interahamwe militiamen in Rwanda, it is the rage sensed in the hearts of the children in Sierra Leone, it is the rage I felt in crowds of ordinary civilians in Rwanda, and it is the rage that resulted in September 11. Human beings who have no rights, no security, no future, no hope and no means to survive are a desperate group who will do desperate things to take what they believe they need and deserve."

IOW, in many cases it is in our rational self-interest to try to mitigate structural inequities by providing opportunity. I doubt that can happen through pure voluntarism.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
We have to take concrete steps to remove the causes of their rage, or we have to be prepared to suffer the consequences
This might illuminate my thinking regarding issues connected to Romeo Dallaire’s comments because there are enough parallels.
in many cases it is in our rational self-interest to try to mitigate structural inequities by providing opportunity. I doubt that can happen through pure voluntarism
I don’t see that happening much as things are, and I think that’s generally because the combined nanny-state myth and taxation lead folks to believe that they need only allow the confiscation of their resources to the degree that taxation exists, and forget about it from thn on. Much of the problem is also that taxation is taken and distributed by the folks who cause(d) the problems in the first place.

I can’t think of a single thing a government can do to promote opportunity better on any grand scale other than merely freeing up capitalism-and that should involve—right away—giving up control of and freeing up much of the dollars captured by the bureaucrats for other purposes. Or, much beter, they could just not take it in the first place.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
By the way, I think a case can be made that government much more often reinforces rather than mitigates unreasonable social inequalities, essentially "etching them in stone" through legislation.

And there’s always the point that many social inequalities are not unreasonable at all. Many human attributes distribute themselves in a bell-curve, and that’s just the way it is. Bright folks, honest folks, rational folks, pretty folks, creative folks, strong folks, imaginitive folks...all end up unequal in some sense or other, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In many of those cases, mitigating things would be the criminal/immoral act.

Let me tell ya a story: when I was about 13/14, I spent a whole spring and summer working lots of odd jobs to earn money for school clothes for fall—and I made a decent amount of money, and that was good because my folks weren’t rich as I noted (although things improved for them greatly later, due to hard work). Anyways, at the end of the summer, geting ready for school, I went to the local department stores, did a bunch of judicious shopping and came home with what my teenage eyes saw as a killer wardrobe and school supplies to boot. I took the stuff home to show my folks what I’d accomplished.

My mom said "great job, Ron, here’s $200 bucks—can you go to the store and get the same stuff for your (as it happens, twin) brother." They even had me shop for him.

Right. Well, my bro got his clothes and supplies, but it took me years to get over the insult—the fruits of my labour adding up to nothing more than what my brother (who spent the sumer laughing and sunning) got for free. Let’s just say the relationship between me and my family got kinda distant and strained.

You’ll understand why it took me a while to go back to working hard around there, or sharing my accomplishments with my folks. An example: I was a pro musician, earning scale or better at recording sessions in my twenties, and my folks really didn’t even know I played until years later.

Years and years later, when I asked Mom why in heck they did that, they said "Ron, you clearly didn’t need the help; your brother did...". Now, seeing as working clearly didn’t result in any great benefits, it took my brother a good long while to get around to working at all (he’s doing real well now, though, and through his own very high quality work, and I’m proud of him) but I resented the daylights out of his lazy, well-clothed hide back then; I found it hard to even speak with him. My folks meant well y’understand.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
I agree with a lot of what you are saying, especially in your reprint of your first blog (and agree that your parents made a poor parenting choice in how they handled you and your brother’s clothes).

I guess my disagreement with your general call to free up capitalism is that I don’t think government is avoidable. Let’s say you suddenly had "free" capitalism. You’d get some winners and some losers. Let’s even take away structural barriers and in this thought experiment have the pure capitalism one with equal opportunity as well, meaning that outcomes reflect effort, talent, innovation, and some luck.

Then you start getting some people with more and others with less. Those with more will want to try to find a way to reinforce their lead. They will see true capitalism as a threat, and appeal to the fears of the populus to get support for actions that they will fund themselves to promote stability. In essence, they will set up a defacto government, designed primarily to make sure they remain in the winners column. I doubt this is avoidable; it might be a kind of monarchy-aristocracy, or it might be a kind of mafia clan competition. And, of course, those who lose will find charismatic leaders who will blame their condition on injustice and oppression. In other words, behaviors will lead to a kind of governance.

So, given that in our current culture government of some sort is unavoidable in the real world, then the question is not what system would be the most just or theoretically pure, but how do you balance the problems caused by various approaches, given the reality of human nature/current cultural values. I believe that building from rule of law, accountability, and individual rights you can avoid considerable arbitrary governmental abuse, and set up an evolution in culture that might in time make government unnecessary.

You are right, I think, in your critique of a lot of government regulation and activism. I’d prefer smaller states (I’d rather the US be 50 or more separate governments than one superstate — that would improve accountability and make the centeralization of power less intense), but absent that I think a lot of problems have to work themselves out over time. Society — our cultural values — have to develop from trail and error, innovation and new ideas. In that I respect your putting ideas into the mix, but I’d need more of an explanation of "how do we get there from here," taking into account the reality of our cultural values and the way the 21st century works.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Well, in retrospect, I’d still have to say I lucked out big-time with my folks. No one gave them a manual when they met life, each other or us kids, so they did really well overall. They ain’t perfect, but they’re both still alive (and I’m 55), they love each other to pieces, and all of us kids have a very close relationship with them and with each other. Example: my brother is now my boss—and he earned it.

Anyways, my point in telling of that story, though, was something like the point of the old joke about the "poor, cold, starving folks trapped in a pit": one group of "helpers" brings food, clothing, blankets, candles..."

...and the other group brings ladders.

I think the best ladder is freedom.

Really, a lot of my thinking boils down to thinking similar to a quote I found here at Billy Beck’s Two-Four blog: "In your efforts to reduce government, aim for zero. If you ever get there and don’t like what you see, I guarantee that it will be the easiest thing in the world to pick up the nearest telephone and have another one established on the very next day." Robert LeFevre (1970).

As for this:
I’d need more of an explanation of "how do we get there from here," taking into account the reality of our cultural values and the way the 21st century works
I think the answer is "one person at a time." At least that’s what I go for. It’s slow but it only needs to happen a touch more than 6 billion times—and way less than that to have a big effect.

The folks arguing for government don’t need my help; that team has lots of dedicated members.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com

 
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