The Hypocritical Expediency of Statist Foreign Policy Monday, February 25, 2008Part of the modern statist dogma is the sanctity of political boundaries. Within a political boundary lies the "sovereign" power of the State in question, and outside that boundary is the Other. The State is imagined as unitary and thereby acquires rights and powers that only actual individuals could ever exercise in reality. To violate the boundaries of the sovereign State is to violate the property rights of an individual-- thereby, the use of force in self-defense is justified.
This is the doctrine underlying immigration regulation, for instance, and this is the excuse given for violently, if need be, repelling a potential foreign immigrant crossing the sovereign State's boundaries without its permission. This belief is also the justification given for statist warfare. To threaten the sovereign State, either implicitly through saber-rattling, or explicitly through penetration of the State's boundaries, is akin to attacking the sovereign, unitary State itself.
Therefore, I find the following news summary of the latest violence in Iraq from AntiWar.com to be perplexing:
Turkish forces continued to battle PKK forces in northern Iraq, as the White House urged Turkey to limit the incursion. The actual number of casualties is unknown as both sides are giving conflicting figures. At least 26 Iraqis were killed and 31 more were wounded in the latest attacks, but no Coalition deaths were reported.Three supposed sovereignties are involved here: the State of Turkey, the State of Iraq and the State of the United States of America. Normally, according to statist doctrine, violating a sovereign's boundaries is an act of war. The State of Iraq is, viewed as a unitary entity, being coerced by the State of Turkey.
Yet, all that happens is that the State of the USA "urges" the State of Turkey to stop. As for the State of Iraq itself, it seems to be unaware that it is even being attacked, or else unwilling or unable to do anything about it.
Where is the outrage? Where are the declarations of war by the State of Iraq or the State of the USA, its protectorate-master?
Statists don't seem to take their own dogma seriously. Why should I?
And of course, if the State of the United States of America really believed in the sanctity of sovereign boundaries, it never would've invaded the State of Iraq in the first place.
You can't get to there from here! Saturday, February 09, 2008A recent comment on an older post is one in one sense similar to nearly every critique of libertarianism. Our commenter writes,
"Actually, the drug issue is only one reason I, personally, am instinctively averse to full-throated libertarianism.I won't address the straw man here. The more egregious error is one often made even by libertarianism's more astute critics. For example, Ezra Klein has recently written that
I'm naturally leery of any utopian screed, no matter whether they get there by leftist or rightist methods.
The libertarian open-borders policy, it's pro-drug stance, and most telling, the fact that every libertarian whose work I have read dreams openly of a world where all religion, but especially Christianity, is neutered and socially toothless, are more than enough to raise a stink."
"[Libertarians think] individuals are a whole lot more rational and economically capable than I do. I think folks, in many circumstances, need a bit more help, and that, as beings fairly aware of our own irrationality, lapses in long-term attention, and assorted other deficits and shortcomings, we often smartly conclude that the whole is stronger and wiser than the one, and build communal institutions that sacrifice some autonomy but create structures better fitted to the messy and occasionally disappointing ways in which we actually engage the world."Again, I'll leave off whether or not this is an apt characterization of libertarians.
This point I want to make is a different one: Libertarianism is generally a position on the use of coercion and specifically a position on the use of coercion by people in governments. In order to for a critical argument to reach a conclusion contrary to the libertarian position on coercion, that argument needs to involve some premise concerning the use of coercion. If that argument is to reach a conclusion about coercion by people in governments, it needs also to involve a premise concerning people in governments.
Now I doubt that Ezra Klein or RHJunior would support all forms of coercion regardless of who is doing the coercing to whom. Surely, they don't believe their views about moral theology or behavioral deviations from utility maximization imply that I should be free to coerce them! Presumably, they only favor coercion of people outside of the governemnt when it is committed by people in the government. In order to show why their view is superior to libertarianism, they need to show why this special case is so special as they claim.
Question for discussion: How would one show that coercion by governments and only coercion by governments is acceptable without simply assuming it from the get go?
Just Pull That Lever! Tuesday, February 05, 2008It's difficult to escape politics these days, no matter how hard you may try to just be left alone about the topic. Expecting to find sanctity in the weight room, even there I had to suffer audio paeans to the Great God Democracy via a local disc-jockey on a classic rock radio station urging listeners to go to the polls this "Super Tuesday."
"Guys, get out there and vote. Be a part of it and make yourself heard. I don't care who you vote for, just pull that lever!"
What is with this irrational devotion to the religion of mobocracy more commonly known as democracy? What compels people to advise others to "just pull that lever," damn the consequences?
I wonder if people like the DJ, who believe democracy is so good that everyone should participate whether they participate thoughtfully or not, have really considered what they're advising people to do.
What if there was a racist or two on the ballot? What about a homophobe? What about a man who openly desires to push the government toward theocracy should he assume power? What about a would-be fascist dictator trying to get to power without the whole bloody-revolution thing? Do the democrats still want people out there pulling that lever if they plan to pull it for those people?
I can't believe the DJ would still be saying "I don't care who you vote for" if Idi Amin was on the ballot, or Mr. Zedong. But even though there are no people as brash as Amin or Mao Zedong on the ballots this election, there are plenty of people who are only slightly less hardcore socialists who are on the ballot, like Clinton, Obama, Romney, McCain and Giuliani. Even Ron Paul, as freedom-minded as he is, still believes in a little bit of the old socialism, however minimally.
What if I went for a write-in, say "Mr. Spaceman" or even "Nobody in particular" and then pulled the lever? Would the eternal democrat congratulate me in my moment of electoral political success?
Does the knowledge a potential voter has of the issues and a particular candidate's position on the issues matter to a democrat? Do they expect voters to understand what is at stake when they pull the lever? Or is it okay for someone who just woke up from a 30-year hibernation period to walk right into a voting booth, pick a candidate and pull the lever? Is that what "making your voice heard" means?
Democracy offers its adherents a false promise of paradise through participation. Pull that lever, make your voice heard! But if you happen to be part of the minority of lever-pullers on a given issue, your voice isn't heard. Your voice is rejected, and violently so. You will have your property stolen from you (taxation) and then that stolen property of yours will be used to implement a policy you disagree with. At that point, what does it matter if you "voiced" your concern or not?