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Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Friday, June 20, 2008

Mommy Pact

Heard about the 17 girls who got pregnant, half of them having made a pact to help raise each other's kids? Apparently, it's a combination of economic depression and a wish to have "someone love them unconditionally." I hope they support each other, really. I hope that somewhere along the way those kids get fathers. I wish that they had made a pact to support each other through college instead.

##

I am ridiculously glad that Obama opted out of the public financing system. Watching the 527s attack Kerry, and Bush wait until the damage was done before speaking up while pretending to keep his hands clean made me sick to my stomach. As the Jews are so fond of saying: Never Again. If there is a cultural war going on, we're at a point where we simply must win. Let the Dems have the White House for eight or twelve years...then the Republicans can have a turn again. Or maybe there'll be a Libertarian candidate who can make me believe he's got a plan. I'm listening.

#

Libertarians out there, by the way...may I politely ask how you would have dealt with the horrendous events that triggered the American Civil Rights movement? Are you saying that the Federal Government shouldn't have interceded when murder was unpunished? Or are you saying that Libertarianism is a form of government that must be evolved into?

Frankly, one of the most disturbing things I have heard white Conservatives with Libertarian leanings say (and I've heard it many times) is that blacks should have just left the south. I must tell you that that strikes me as a lack of basic human empathy. If a woman has no money to pay a private police force to catch her rapist, he should get away with it? If your house is burning and you have no Fire insurance, the fire department should not help? I want to be very clear about these things, because that's the way it sounds. And frankly, I don't believe you can build a society like that.

But if you say: "It wouldn't have worked back then, but we've reached a point where it could..." you've definitely got more of my attention. I know some VERY smart, nice people who have Libertarian leanings. I am frankly confused by this aspect of the entire philosophy.

I don't need much in the way of social services. I've never been on welfare, was on unemployment once, in my early twenties, can afford my own health care and life insurance, and so on. But I believe the world works best when we care about each other most. Enlightened selfishness is a great engine for a society. But not caring about our children, letting them grow up thinking that society cares not a shit about them...I fear that is a recipe for disaster, culturally.

##

Anyone else think it's folly to privatize the prison system? Where in the living hell is their motivation to drop the recidivism rate? From a business perspective, the smartest thing they can do is produce professional criminals. In fact, it would be irresponsible to their stock holders not to create a revolving door. The cornerstone of any business is repeat customers.

#

ᅠIf you look at the Tibetans as abdominal exercises a new dimension opens up. Each movement engages the abs (all breathing does) but it's possible to take it to another level entirely. The second Tibetan can be turned into a vicious hip-up (aiming your toes directly at the ceiling and lifting with controlled breathing.) #3 then stretches the abs out. #4 works the balance between abs and back. #5...well, if you graduate to Hindu Pushups, and can do 21 of them immediately after doing 21 reps of 1-4, you have strong abs--you have to in order to stabilize the midsection.

##

I've yet to notice a down-side to integrating fresh fruits and vegetables on my Fasting days. Energy is good, I can take the edge off the hunger with half an apple or banana, or carrot sticks. Oddly, I find that on eating days I'm craving even more green stuff. Interesting.

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This weekend, Cliff Stewart is hosting his "Camp of the Masters" symposium. Graciela Casillas, one of the first women kick-boxers, will be teaching knife fighting there. Graciela was a gorgeous young thing down at the Kali Academy in the 80's--guys were intimidated as hell by her. She could kick BUTT, let me tell you. Now she's a mommy now, not one whit less gorgeous, and even more deadly.

Not sure what it is, but brilliant, competent, dangerous women just push all my buttons. Graciela did a Playboy spread back then, part of an article called "girls who can kick your ass." Wow. Fantasy fodder for years.

##

I wonder what that's about? I can't begin to tell you how comforting it is to have Tananarive in my life--to create plot designs that I can be perfectly confident that she can execute in first draft. We have a joke: I'm the (plot) Wizard, and she's the (draft) Executioner.

I think being raised by a single mother did that. Relying upon her for my survival meant...well, just that. I grew up knowing that women were strong, and smart, and loving. But the specific attraction to hyper-competance...I'm not sure. I remember when I met T, and thought she was nice, and smart, and cute...but I wasn't particularly attracted. It was as if I kept her behind glass, just a bit. I wanted to be of help to her as a big brother. Only after hearing how she got Steven King to give her a blurb did I realize just how damned smart she was--and then, it was as if my eyes opened, and I saw her. Damn, what a moment THAT was.

##

Speaking of attraction, T was mentioning to me that my niece, Sharleen, has a slammin' little body. Yeah, it's true, but her pointing it out caused a momentary blip--it's like my brain knows it, and doesn't know it at the same time. Strange. It's as if a certain number of templates have to overlap: intelligence, facial characteristics, body type, values and goals.. in order for me to register "attractive". My initial bond to T was definitely influenced by her fitness and body-type. Could she have been the same person, in a different body? Very difficult, unless she had a physical problem that prevented her from dancing and exercising. But would I have fallen in love with her? Not the way I did, no. We would have to have been neighbors, or gone to school together, or worked together, to allow attraction to grow over time.

And how much different could she have been, and still touched my heart? I really don't know.

##

Over the last year, I've heard several different comments, always from women, suggesting that men are attracted to women who will impress other men. While I think this is an element, I think that these women are actually saying something about how THEY pick THEIR partners. Guys are physically attracted to what makes their hind-brain stand up and bark, and I don't think their tastes would change that much if they were on a deserted island (assuming they didn't need a partner with specific survival skills). We didn't ask to be so turned on by smooth skin, hourglass figures and so forth. And once you're in the bedroom with the lights out, physical characteristics aren't as important. But we really, really like to be turned on by the LOOK of our partner. And it ain't about women. Gay men seem to have a similar ethic--look at the physical beauty in the gay community. Gay guys take better care of themselves physically than straight guys (on the average). So it isn't that men want unreasonable standards of beauty from women. They want it from their sexual partners. Guys who like sheep probably like really pretty sheep. Nothing personal, ladies.

35 comments:

Michelle said...

If the people are the government then it should be up to the people to protect each other.

That's a simplistic view and doesn't take into account human nature.

Murder should be punished. Fire, police and prisons should not be government run but run by the people imo. They should not run on capitalism. That's were public service breaks.

I don't even think it would totally work now. But I do think we could get there. Nothing ever seems to work cold turkey.

Blacks leave the South? Haven't these folks heard of "home". If it's your home do you want to leave...for anything? Everyone has the right to protect and stay in their home. I don't care what bullies or sheep say.

I'm stuck on that actually. Leave the south...how absurd!

Steven Barnes said...

Absurd, yes. But I've heard it a half-dozen times, with a straight face. I refuse to believe they would have said that had they been black, or the affected victims been white. It's that "10% disconnect" I talk about.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I identify as libertarian, but I'm no longer as sure as I was about what works. I do think libertarianism gives some good clues about what government should stay out of, and I especially mean the war on drugs.

As for blacks leaving the segregationist South, leaving or staying under such things is a judgment call. My great-grandparents got out of eastern Europe and western Russia in the early 1900s, and I'm forever grateful that they didn't have a "this is my home" attitude.

However, this doesn't mean the Feds forcibly ending Jim Crow was a bad thing. I wish a more libertarian approach had been tried, but what we've got is more nearly libertarian (and decent) than leaving Jim Crow in place. To my mind, states rights is *not* a libertarian doctrine.

That reminds me-- Steve, I was surprised by the ending of Great Sky Woman-- it was survival rather than (as is usual in a lot of fiction) victory. Why did you make that choice?

Steven Barnes said...

I think I wrote GREAT SKY WOMAN as I did because I sensed it was half a story...the second half is SHADOW VALLEY, published next May. Hope you liked it!

Mark Jones said...

I'm a libertarian as well, and I also don't recall ever hearing the "blacks should just leave the South" POV. Which is, yes, incredibly stupid and lacking in empathy. I can believe people said it, I've just never heard it.

I say that absolutely the federal government should have interceded if the states weren't protecting the rights and lives of black citizens. That's one of the few valid roles of government, imho.

When you ask about private police and a woman who can't afford them, you're talking about an anarchist theory, not (very) small government libertarianism, which is where I stand. That's a big difference.

I think Michelle's point about "the people" providing support for one another distinct from either government-run institutions or profit-oriented ones (if I understand her correctly) is worth considering. Suppose, for instance, if instead of getting your health insurance through your employer, you could band together with your fellow Moose, Elks, union members, neighbors (like a credit union) to buy it? Maybe clubs and associations would make a big come-back with practical uses like that. You could still shop around for the best fit/price, wouldn't be dependent on a job that could vanish any day, and wouldn't be dependent on government-run or subsidized help either.

That would be a way of demonstrating that the community (or a community, at least) cares about you without requiring the intervention of the state, which is an unwieldly tool at best.

Dan Moran said...

Anyone else think it's folly to privatize the prison system? Where in the living hell is their motivation to drop the recidivism rate?

There is none -- but there really isn't one in the public system either. The prison population drops, you're out of work either way.

In fact, it would be irresponsible to their stock holders not to create a revolving door. The cornerstone of any business is repeat customers.

I've heard this actual argument presented with a straight face as to why the criminals running the oil companies are really OK Joes. If the market makes it possible for them to collude with other oil companies to jack up the price of gasoline, they'd be remiss in their responsibilities to their stockholders to not do it.

Ditto, if you're in a privately run prison business, and you're profiting off each prisoner, you're remiss in your responsibilities to your shareholders by letting prisoners go one second before you're forced to. If forcing the prisoners into inhuman conditions, causing them to revolt, and extending the length of their sentences with new charges is the cost of that, well, they'd pretty much have to do it.

Maybe some things aren't best suited to the private market. I throw that out as a thought to our libertarian friends.

Hugh said...

Frankly, one of the most disturbing things I have heard white Conservatives with Libertarian leanings say (and I've heard it many times) is that blacks should have just left the south.

That's a point of view that doesn't remember the Boston bussing riots.

A response to Mark's "purchasing club" model of health insurance: like many libertarian ideas, this assumes that health insurance is an individual good, rather than a group benefit.

A perfect counterexample is childhood vaccinations. Yes, vaccines provide a net individual benefit, but they really are effective when the entire population is vaccinated. You can probably think of other examples. Healthcare is a form of national defense, despite how we treat it currently.

Government is a way to let a million people live on a section of land that would support a few hundred hunter-gatherers. I suspect most libertarians are people who are used to thinking of themselves as members of the select few hundred.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

The incentives for private prisons are bad, but not quite that bad. After all, the prisoner you abuse is pretty likely to end up in someone else's prison, thus not producing any profit for you.

I suspect the problem is that the government could have anti-recidivism incentives for private prisons, but doesn't bother, possibly because they just want the prisons to be as cheap as possible, possibly because the voters are punitive, and possibly because the private contractors push to get simple goals and standards.

I'm not sure how you get good anti-recidivism incentives in general, let alone in a society where punishment is an extremely high priority for a lot of people.

For another angle, see this. It says that one of the reasons people may come out of prison more criminally inclined than they went in is that the way they're treated by the staff and administrators is dishonest and arbitrary.

Kami said...

Like others have said, Libertarians don't believe in total privatization. That would be, um, anarchy. Some folks find anarchy appealing, but not me.

Health care is an interesting situation because it's absolutely true that there's a common good involved. If preventative care becomes a priority I could see it working, but then there's the issue of how to prevent abuse. The government has a much tougher time investigating abuse because we as Americans prefer to keep the government out of our private lives as much as we can. On the other hand we don't want private companies deciding that some people shouldn't be given health benefits because it hurts the bottom line. There have to be checks and balances. I strongly feel that both government and private groups should hold shared power in something as big and important as health care.

Police, fire, and other emergency services I think should remain government run, as well. Taxes should be managed by public employees. The military should be under the governmental system. Private armies in the USA? I shudder at the thought.

Part of being libertarian (at least for me) is thinking a lot about what must be run by the government, what might be run by private groups and how to limit abuse--government abuse, individual abuse (fraud and other criminality) and corporate abuse. Naturally one of the big sticking points for libertarian politics is that A. not everyone agrees what should be in what category and who will watchdog it and B. because it's complicated it doesn't make for sexy headlines.

As for blacks leaving the South, this is the first I've heard of it and it's got my panties in a knot. What jerk(s) supposedly speaking for libertarians put that out as a viable solution? Sounds more like an anarchist idea, actually. (BTW, there are sane anarchists--but they're drowned out by some seriously rabid folks.) When a group is being attacked physically, economically, whatever, that is precisely where I want government to step in and support the moral high ground.

I just put government and moral high ground in the same sentence. Obama must have really brightened my outlook! :-)

Kami said...

BTW I don't know about big federal and state prisons, but in our county prison system, the corrections officers are constantly looking over their shoulders trying not to get sued for stuff, and the inmates are always looking for reasons to sue. I do believe that staff and administrators can be selfish, vicious, or to add more components that people don't think about, lazy or not very bright or scared and outnumbered and just trying to get by in a job that looked like great wages and benefits and turned out to be the worst decision of their lives. The smart ones who can't handle it leave, while others try to cling to the wages and benefits and scrabble for desk jobs, use lots of sick time, etc. There are also fabulous officers that thrive in that environment and make the environment safer and more bearable for both inmates and staff. I know several such officers.

The question is, regardless of who holds the keys (and who should hold the keys, btw?) is how to deal with people who get into legal trouble, especially violent offenders? There have been some studies (I have to ask my esteemed hubby to track them down) where they've taken large groups of inmates and given them job training, drug rehab, education--every program they could think of. There was no effect on recidivism. Behind this very depressing statistic is this--it echoes alcoholism. AA has no better numbers than folks who hit rock bottom and on their own decide to sober up.

Here's another thing. A lot of inmates are good guys. Seriously. They're just very messed up. A lot of them are so unfocused and out of control they deliberately get caught to clean up, get healthy, and be in a safe (or to them, safer) environment for a while. A lot of them, when they leave, fully intend to stay sober, but they don't. A small percentage never come back because they pull it off. Again, those numbers are unaffected by special programs, different treatment, the color painted on the walls and whether there's a community garden at the jail.

What do we do?

Mark Jones said...

Re Kami's point about private armies:

The book "The Sovereign Individual" (I forget the author) pretty much made the unrebuttable (as far as I can tell) argument for the necessity of the state. Which is: the reason why the nation-state is the dominant form of government is because it's the form best suited* to accumulating and expending the resources necessary to fight a war. Better than tribes, clan, feudalism, pretty everything else humans have tried. And since even the most peaceful nation needs to be able to keep the bad guys at bay, that's pretty important.

*And the very features of the state that are most disliked by libertarians (taxation, conscription and the power to regulate individual behavior) are the ones that make states so effective at fighting.

So, no--no private armies, please.

And I can't speak for all or, really, any, libertarians except myself. But no, I don't think of myself as part of the select few hundred. I just don't believe that government force is the best (or even a good) way to get many things done.

Brian Dunbar said...

Frankly, one of the most disturbing things I have heard white Conservatives with Libertarian leanings say is that blacks should have just left the south

I can see the attraction - if you're not welcome or wanted then leaving sounds like a mighty fine idea. As an abstract idea it's great.

Unless you have a clue as to what you're talking about.

I assume the speakers are talking about the Reconstruction period? Blacks may or may not have been welcome in the South - but they were already there. They weren't wanted in the North, that's for sure.

Anyone else think it's folly to privatize the prison system? Where in the living hell is their motivation to drop the recidivism rate? From a business perspective, the smartest thing they can do is produce professional criminals

Government-run prisons have the same deal. Bureaucracies naturally want to increase in size - the more people and budget the better.

Anonymous said...

On the prison question : there is a hell of a motivation to drop the recidivism rates. many programs and models that are attempted fail because their are simply too many prisoners. Example state of maine switched to a direct care model. simply put placing several staff in a living "pod" with the inmates. as opposed to an indirect model with staff and inmates separated by bars. this has been done on a federal level with success. lowered rates of assault, improved interaction between staff and inmates. it should have worked in maine. it didnt. instead of having 3-7 staff in a pod providing high levels of interaction we had 1-2. so instead of focusing on the inmates staff has to focus on house keeping paperwork ect. assaults inmate on inmate and inmate on staff went way up. on a jail level aca standards go out the window because there are too many prisoners. having prisoner sleep in hallways libraries ect is a real security hazard but it is done because their is no other way crowding is too much.

the article Nancy linked, Prisons are evil? over simplified pov. yes staff and admin sometimes lie. yes there is corruption. I have been a co at the state county and military levels their is a camera on you at all times. an aggreived prisoner can talk to family case workers lawyers ect. a staff member can be thrown under a bus by the admin if it is expedient so he / she better know the rules have a good union behind them. and stay on their ps and qs. I have never worked in a private facility so i cant imagine how they deal with certain issues. my personal view is prisons have to remain in public jurisdiction. a part of The problem is schools churches family these are where crime is stopped and these institutions are failing. no easy solutions either. far easier to point a finger away than towards ourselves. we are in some ways a really screwed up culture. we value material things, abhor consequences ect. This is the price we pay.

Langdon

Vérité Parlant said...

Men tend to be visual creatures, turned on by the visual. Whenever a man tries to be politically correct to the point where he denies that his head turns when his idea of the right proportions on a woman walks by, I get suspicious and figure he's a liar.

Women like what's easy on the eyes also, but many women tend to be more turned on by aural stimuli, talk, talk, talk, and the promise of financial security. Humans lately go to great lengths to deny our differences. It's part of our madness, I suppose, a desire to prove we're more enlightened than apes.

Whenever we generalize we're in danger of getting into arguments, but I think there are general rules regarding common human behaviors. While we may know of exceptions to the rule, most folks are the rule.

Anonymous said...

If you could swap the whole Affirmative Action system for a 100% black tax cut (=be black, pay zero tax), which would you choose?
I'm not libertarian. Liberty is a vector, not a place. Like social solidarity. But if Libertarians had been in power and pushing the '64 Civil Rights act, (I think) they'd have done it by tax cut. It's a missed opportunity, like '40 acres and a mule'. (More a 'what if', of course).
And it's what I'd like to see today's Affirmative Action evolve into.

Bruce Purcell

Vérité Parlant said...

Affirmative Action

Since I took a big hit on taxes last year, I first thought 'I'll take no taxes, Bruce.' :-)

But then I thought what good would zero taxes have done me if no one would've hired me in the 60s because they had no incentive to do so and thought discrimination was acceptable? I may not have to pay taxes anyway because I'd be underemployed or unemployed.

Lester Spence said...

derrick bell proposed something like this. instead of a black (anti) tax he would have proposed a discrimination tax. if you want to discriminate you can, but you'd pay a tax that would go indirectly to the discriminated group.

Paul Gibbons said...

Mark Jones said: "...the reason why the nation-state is the dominant form of government is because it's the form best suited to accumulating and expending the resources necessary to fight a war. Better than tribes, clan, feudalism, pretty everything else humans have tried. And since even the most peaceful nation needs to be able to keep the bad guys at bay, that's pretty important. And the very features of the state that are most disliked by libertarians (taxation, conscription and the power to regulate individual behavior) are the ones that make states so effective at fighting."

Let's look at this for a second...
The nation-states you are referring to here are run by governments that accumulate these war-fighting resources how? By coercion backed by deadly force called 'taxes'. If the thing that governments are best at is fighting wars, than wouldn't it follow logically that if you eliminated the ability to accumulate resources by force, you would eliminate war? Just a thought...

And btw, if you "just don't believe that government force is the best (or even a good) way to get many things done.", I invite you to make the case (with logical argument rather than 'well, everybody knows...') that government force is a good way to do anything?

The bottom line is, that if you get the real basics wrong, the system can never be fixed. Please address these questions:

Who owns you? Who can claim the moral right to your life or property if you behave in a manner that harms no one?
Is evil a necessary component of a just and prosperous society? Why or why not?

www.freedomainradio.com

Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression;
http://ruwart.com/Pages/Healing/

Brian Dunbar said...

If the thing that governments are best at is fighting wars, than wouldn't it follow logically that if you eliminated the ability to accumulate resources by force, you would eliminate war? Just a thought...

I'm missing something, clearly.

Countries A, B and C follow your program. Country X does not.

Country X - granted they are throwbacks but they're now heavily armed throwbacks - have all kinds of incentive to strong-arm A, B and C.

It does not seem that you've eliminated 'war', but only A B and C's ability to wage war.

What keeps the acquisitive Country Xs in the world from having it all their own way?

Steven Barnes said...

Is evil a necessary component of a just society? Sure, if it's composed of fallible human beings, who do things, and who interpret the things that others do, as evil.

Marty S said...

I really don't understand how this libertarian society is suppose to work. In these posts you talk about privatizing the prisons. But before you send some one to prison you need to first catch and try them. Who does this. Are the courts and police also private. Before you can catch and try someone you have to define what is a crime. Who decides what is a crime. Who pays for this and who decides how much everybody involved gets paid.
Is there a good write up,not too long, that answers these questions.

Brian Dunbar said...

Is there a good write up,not too long, that answers these questions.

When all else fails, wiki it!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian

I don't know if the wiki page is too long but - man Libertarians are a cranky and divisive bunch. There are probably 3-4 'mainstream' answers for each of your questions.

Marty S said...

Brian: The wiki article is just general libertarian stuff. What I would be interested in is something that describes what a Libertarian justice system would look like and how it would be financially supported. In 30 pages or less. Any references.

Brian Dunbar said...

Marty, I'm no Libertarian. I googled and found this

http://www.strike-the-root.com/columns/lopez/lopez_archive.html

Four essays, reasonably short length that seem to cover what you're looking for.

Mark Jones said...

Brian--exactly. If you magically cause all governments to vanish, you're left with isolated individuals...for about as long as it takes some of them to organize themselves and start robbing and ruling others by violence and threats thereof. That's inescapable as long as humans are humans. Unless you can find an organized group large enough to fend them off, you're screwed. That's why I'm not an anarchist.

I'm a libertarian--I accept the necessity for (limited) government, if only to fill the power vacuum that would otherwise be filled by armed gangs of thugs with an organization that is as minimally intrusive as possible. So questions about how a "libertarian" society of private prisons and private police and private jails would function are pointless; those would be features of an anarchist society--but I'm not an anarchist and don't need to defend that position.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

So it isn't that men want unreasonable standards of beauty from women. They want it from their sexual partners. Guys who like sheep probably like really pretty sheep. Nothing personal, ladies.

Yeah, nothing in the world cuter than male sexuality.

I've been decently treated by men in spite of my public and utterly disgusting failure to be tall, thin, or blond, but the public thing makes me crazy.

The most recent thing turned up in Lee Child's recent Bad Luck and Trouble. I'm going to be talking spoilers, and he's one of the best action adventure writers, so if you care about such things, you might want to read the book.

Anyway, part of the plot involves Dean, a man who's being blackmailed by threats to have his daughter gang raped. After the threat has been defused, Jack Reacher (the hero) sees a photograph of the daughter. She's 14 and a little gawky, but she's going to be beautiful in two years (blond and tall and presumably thin) and for thirty years after that.

"Reacher understood Dean's distress...."

This reads to me as though Dean caring about his daughter would have been harder to understand if she's been plain.

Reacher is presented as a compulsive drifter, but basically sane about women and a good guy.

Paul Gibbons said...

"Is evil a necessary component of a just society? Sure, if it's composed of fallible human beings, who do things, and who interpret the things that others do, as evil."
I'm curious, Steven, what is your methodology for determining good from evil? And could it be applied as a general principle?

Paul Gibbons said...

"What keeps the acquisitive Country Xs in the world from having it all their own way?"
Brian, I understand your question comes from a genuine desire to have a practical world. But what seems practical to us is greatly influenced by our beliefs; if these are flawed than the conclusions we draw may be in error. I am reminded of Bastiat's treatise 'What is Seen and what is Not Seen' in which he points out that Foresight can be a gentler and more effective teacher than Experience.
For instance, given the scenario you propose; "Countries A, B and C follow your program. Country X does not", what can we reliably predict about the conditions in these regions? Countries A, B and C, being free of coercive force would enjoy the benefits of prosperity and would have their populations engaged in the better survival of their families which would necessarily include the protection of their lives and property. Such people would not be unaware of the potential threat presented by the government of 'X' and would be likely to marshal some resources (provided on a free market basis) to meet it. Further, if the people of 'X' found themselves surrounded by nations of peace and prosperity, how long would it take for the exodus from tyranny to become a flood? What is generally not seen in these hypothetical constructs is that it is not the people who go to war but it is the rulers of their governments who promote and organize wars. People who are not forced to surrender their property to a 'ruler' have no economic interest in violent conflict; it's bad for business. War can only be effective if there is a 'government' to 'take over'. Individuals co-operating on a voluntary basis make poor spoils as there is no infrastructure of violence (taxes, incomprehensible laws against victimless crimes, etc.) to help the victor work his hard won 'gold mine'. If you think it through, you will discover that the moral values (I suspect)you hold; armed robbery is bad, liberty is good and people who are harmed deserve compensation (all of which are systemically violated by 'governments') are actually true and eminently 'practical'!
What do you think?

Mark Jones said...

Even if Nation X did not attack Nations A, B, and C, you're ignoring homegrown bad guys. Does the phrase "organized crime" mean anything to you?

Are you willing--and able--to successfully resist the mafia when they decide, in the absence of a government that's even _trying_ to restrain them, to take ownership of your successful business? How? You may be bigger and badder than any single mafioso, but you can't beat all of them. And that's assuming they didn't just shoot you out of hand, or threaten your family.

You and your friends could organize as well, but now we've stepped up to gang warfare or rival factions fighting for control of the environment.

No, the only long-term answer (as imperfect as it is), is a government as benign and responsive to its citizenry as we can make it, with power enough to restrain the worst would-be offenders, and with enough limits on its authority that it doesn't turn out to be a cure worse than the disease.

I know the anarchist argument is that it is, pretty much by definition. And as a libertarian, I have a lot of sympathy for that position. But human nature being what it is, I believe that anarchism--like communism--is a hothouse flower that cannot function in the wild.

Brian Dunbar said...

What do you think?

Pretty much what Mark said. If I may add: if you think what you're describing is workable you're deluded.

If I may cherry pick ..

Such people would not be unaware of the potential threat presented by the government of 'X' and would be likely to marshal some resources (provided on a free market basis) to meet it.

People are friggin' blind to their own problems until they smack them in the face.

Further, if the people of 'X' found themselves surrounded by nations of peace and prosperity, how long would it take for the exodus from tyranny to become a flood?

You are ignoring very recent history and human nature. Berlin Wall? Where is the exodus from China since they went into 'poverty and isolation mode' after WW II?

War can only be effective if there is a 'government' to 'take over'.

I can name a score of cultures and societies that were over-run by acquisitive Europeans. The indios didn't have a government in the modern sense for the invaders to take over but they had natural resources that were coveted - slaves to Chrisianize, gold to mint, land to own.

Pagan Topologist said...

A few months back, there was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about how around 1900 many communities drove black residents out at gunpoint. I think Nancy Lebovitz told me about this a few weeks before it appeared in the newspaper. (Nancy, do you recall where you found it?)

So, suggesting that black people leave the South may have been the least offensive approach here.

Marty S said...

Brian: Just got back from vacation and read your response. Thanks for the link, but I can't seem to follow it. I can get to http://www.strike-the-root.com/
but when I try to bet to the columns page I get a you don't have permission message. Were you able to get there and if so what do I need to do. Thanks again.

Paul Gibbons said...

Mark Jones: "Does the phrase "organized crime" mean anything to you?"
Yes, it's a group of men and women who intimidate others by force of arms and collect tribute called 'takes'...no, wait, that's the 'government...
But to answer in a way that you probably intended, this 'organized crime' you speak of really got its start in this country as a result of prohibition. Take a product or service that people are willing to pay for, hire a bunch of armed troops to prevent honest 'ordinary' people from engaging in the trade and voila; you create the environment for 'organized crime'.
From the gangsters of the 1920's to the thugs on our streets today pushing drugs, it is the government that is creating the conditions for enormous profits to be had filling the demand for these products. Make all the 'moralistic' complaints you want about how alcohol and drugs are bad for society; you fly in the face of evidence that the cure is indeed worse than the disease. Once they have an economic base, yes, they then stand to threaten other innocent people to protect their 'turf'. Just as violence abated after prohibition, so it would once we recognize the current folly of persecuting people for 'victimless crimes' (talk about an oxymoron...).
The bottom line is, you cannot morally support initiating violence against someone for doing what you think is just a bad idea.

p.s. to Marty S:
To get the articles Brian linked:
go to
http://www.strike-the-root.com/
click on the link 'Root Strikers' on the right side of the page near the top, then click 'John Lopez' from the list of names; you will see the four articles listed.
And, while you're there, you might look for the name Stefan Molyneux and check out his article addressing most of the issues you and Brian expressed called 'Everyday Anarchy, Part 3'.
Only if you dare!

Marty S said...

Paul: Thanks for the help I was finally able to read the five articles. They have convinced me that democracy is indeed the worst form of government. Except for all the rest. And I will believe in a society with no government when I see a successful example. Molyneux mentions Darwin. Well Darwin's survival of the fittest concept would suggest societies work better with a government since all surviving societies have some form of government.

Mark Jones said...

The bottom line is, you cannot morally support initiating violence against someone for doing what you think is just a bad idea.

Sure you can, if your moral code considers some things worse than coercing others. And many--most--people do. As it happens, I agree that victimless crimes are a bad idea. But even a libertarian government would still be a government, would still establish laws and enforce them.

Marty's Darwinian point is correct. In the real world, anarchism doesn't work. Humans have tried countless forms of social organization--but there's never been a real, functioning anarchist society on any but the most primitive and small scales. If you cannot protect your society from threats internal or external, your society is doomed no matter how ethically pure it may be. Anarchism, like communism or complete pacifism, is a hothouse flower; it cannot survive in nature, only where protected from threats by isolation or larger, less pure institutions.