Among the purposes of this site is to show how to convey political views to those who not already inclined to agree with you. Sometimes I suggest quick little tricks, other times I delve more deeply into Principle. I’m currently delving into Principle, for I’m being respectfully confronted by somebody with whom there are fundamental disagreements. The tricks I teach are useless at best and destructive at worst if they’re not being used to convey Truth.
At the same time, I recognize that some of this may seem obvious my readers who are political allies. What we need to recognize is that what’s obvious to us is not necessarily obvious to others. In fact, much of our problem stems from our inability to recognize that what strikes us as painfully self-evident is anything but self-evident to others.
There are times to make your opponent look like a moron. This is not one of those times. It’s more fun to lash out, and for the time being you’ll have to take my word for it, but I’m really damn good at it. But as exhilarating as it can be to make somebody squirm, sometimes it’s counterproductive. I support productivity.
I’m participating in this debate because it’s largely substantive. Lotus (LarryE) brings up points that need to be addressed by libertarians and conservatives. When we make our points, others hear implications we don’t intend. Discussion and disagreement are about far more than the actual words expressed, they’re about the beliefs behind those words. Furthermore, they’re about what others perceive you believe. At no point can every hint and assumption be addressed, although they can be addressed more rapidly in person.
Hence, this discussion, which probably strikes many of you as a painfuly belaboring yet more of the obvious. Virtually all of my libertarian readers and most of my conservative ones have already, with little effort, understood what I mean by have to and force. Lotus and Daisy haven’t. This speaks to the fundamental difference in visions that separates us, how we think differently, why we find it so hard to communicate.
Of course, sometimes we simply misunderstand our opponents. Lotus did NOT suggest that I am a member of the 1%, but he DID suggest a superficial materialism often attributed to that 1% through statements like “cut the crap: We know what you’re actually about.” I am also entirely familiar with the concept of empathy, than you very much. There’s also plenty of reason to support strong property rights beyond simple greed and materialism (but I can’t hit on everything in one post).
So, straight to Larry’s Point 5:
The “‘have to’ thing” is an “effective” device only because, as I said, it’s easy to win an argument when you get to define the meaning of all the terms. Of course I didn’t deny that “If I want to do something, and you’ll shoot me if I do it, you’re using force to stop me,” because the statement is trival, the observation banal. You don’t respond to my argument, you merely cite it, then ignore it and just repeat your previous claim at greater length. The point, again, is that you allow for no meaning of “have to” other than force.
In the context of what I was explaining, the have to‘s to which I was referring were those of external obligation. Compunction. Force.
Is this the only sort of obligation that exists? No, and I never claimed it was. My point is that there are different forms of obligation and that it’s imperative for us to distinguish between them.
First, there’s the type to which Daisy alludes (“we HAVE TO live, we HAVE TO die, hello?”), simple physical law. If you jump off a building without a parachute, you have to fall to the ground. Someday, you’ll indeed “HAVE TO die”). Technology can restrict some of these (we no longer “have to wait around on a boat for months if we want to go to Spain), but the degree to which government affects these realities is of peripheral importance to the topic at hand. Congress could pass a law that we all MUST live to be 100 years old, but it wouldn’t change our life expectancies in the slightest.
Second, there is external compunction. Do this or I shoot. Fill out this form or I take your home. Install another sink or I close down your soup kitchen. Unlike the first type of have to, this depends on a person making you do something. Force.
Third, we have moral obligation, the have to you’ve got in your gut, the inability to steal the wallet even though you know you wouldn’t get caught, your drive to play the violin every night even when you haven’t slept in a week.
There are no moral “have to”s, no ethical “have to”s, no “I have to do this even though I don’t want to because it’s just the right thing to do, dammit”s, no social obligations (a word with which, as I said, libertarians seem singularly unfamilar) of any sort, no demands of conscience to restrict or direct behavior.
I’ve never said this, nor implied it. I’ve used have to in the force sense of the word in reference to government, but at no time have I suggested that that’s the only type of obligation that exists. In fact, to the strongly convicted, moral compunction can be even more forceful than physical compunction. The hearts of the civil rights protesters were stronger than the physical force of the dogs and fire hoses.
To use one of my favorite logical formations: All forms of force are obligations, but not all forms of obligation are force.
The obligations to which I have been referring are those of force implemented by the government, the “legitimate” use of force of man against man. Government does three things:
1. Stops people from doing something (force).
2. Makes people do something (force).
3. Other stuff that it could only in conjunction with, or resulting from, 1. or 2. (ostensibly nice things that it could only do if force weren’t somehow applied elsewhere).
Man obligating man is fundamentally different than man following his own conviction (even if that conviction is immeasurably strong). I’ve never argued against the existence of the latter, I’ve only drawn a distinction between it and the former and called attention to the FACT that government is a manifestation of the former. As I argue that government is a forceful actor, and in describing that force I sometimes use have to instead of repeating the word force force force force, in no way do I suggest or imply that there is neither physical law nor an individual conscience.
I guarantee that any libertarian or conservative reading this debate has readily grasped this and that virtually everyone who inclines towards Daisy and Larry’s views has not. (I don’t mean this to be an insult, it’s only a reflection of my own experience. Even though we differ substantially on other issues, Ron Paul would get what I’m saying immediately, John Bolton in five to ten minutes, Rick Santorum in fifteen to twenty. Dennis Kucinch would get it eventually. Nancy Pelosi, never.)
So for my initial question of “Why should I have to help the poor?”, for the purpose of clarification I’ll rephrase (although in person you don’t usually need to):
Why should I be forced to help the poor?
This question in no way precludes the existence of any sense of moral obligation I may or may not have, nor does it preclude the possibility that his moral sense may differ from mine. It claims neither that I am morally inferior nor superior. It makes no reference to God and what He may do to me if I fail to follow His commandments, nor what those commandments might be. It only calls attention to the FACT that income redistribution IS the act of one group of people REQUIRING other people to do what it thinks best.
Whether or not such requirements are a good idea is a valid topic for discussion, but it’s a different discussion. We all agree that sometimes force is justified (locking up axe murderers). But justified force is still force, and it’s important we recognize it as such.
As you can see, it’s extremely difficult to make this point in writing (I have no idea if I’ve succeed or not, and I may never know), but it’s substantially easier in person. Yes, you’ll have to go back and forth a lot, you’ll have to avoid forty-five attempts at subject changes and redirections, but you can generally get people to accept that government is force because it is. It’s not just some trick, it’s reality. Furthermore, it’s reality that sheds important light on nearly every political issue. It’s one of your fundamental Reality Frames.
Once the debate has been correctly framed as government=force, you can address the more pertinent question: what is the appropriate way for us to exercise that force. For example, Larry:
As a sort of PS, here is a question I hope you will address as part of that upcoming post: I think we agree that society as a whole, acting through government, has a responsibility to protect the “stuff” of the members of that society, that is, to protect them against crime (avoiding for the moment the philosophical argument about how what constitutes “crime” is a creation of that society). Can that same society, as a condition of providing that protection, require anything of those same members? Can it legitimately say they “have to” do something or not do something? (Note that “Yes, it can require them not to commit crimes” is not an answer because that is included in the universal protection already agreed and so is merely a restatement of the original premise.)
To put it differently, I assume you believe in contracts and that it’s proper and reasonable for each party to “have to” live up to their part of the bargain. Can society as a whole, as part of the social contract, legitimately tell an individual member that “in exchange for the protections you are given, you must do such-and-so even if you don’t want to?” If yes, what is the objection to “have to?” If no, why not? Why can people make demands on society while denying any necessity of offering anything in return?
These are perfectly valid, fundament, essential questions, and I will address them. In the meantime there are three basic debates, all of which can be put into sharper perspective from the understanding that government is force.
First, if we accept that government is the “legitimate” use of force, to what ends is the use of such force justified? To what extent do we have the collective right to regulate individual behavior, and if so, under what circumstances? After all, “no man is an island.” Our actions have economic, cultural, environmental, and moral consequences. Where do my rights begin and yours end? When does my business become our business, and what can or should we do about it?
Second, there are agents of force ranging from individuals with guns, local governments, state governments, the internal apparatus of national governments, to relations between those governments. Each has a claim to use force within a certain jurisdiction. Which unit of force has the right to supersede the others, and when? Which achieves what ends most efficiently?
Third, what is the purpose of government? To foster a moral society? To ensure economic equality? Or something else. I’ve addressed this to an extent already here: the purpose of government is to preserve individual liberty. Force must be utilized only insofar as it is required to ensure that force interferes with our lives as little as possible. I know that’s an assertion, and I know I’ll have to back it up. I will.
(Yes, force is required to combat force. The best way to ensure the liberty of the women who lived in the vicinity of Ted Bundy was to deprive him of his. If somebody wants to give me the “That’s like saying you have to fuck to preserve virginity” line, I reply only “Without fucking, how the hell are we ever going to make new virgins?”)
HOWEVER, although I believe that the purpose of government is to preserve individual liberty, there’s purpose that transcends mere politics. There’s more to life than being left alone. That’s just a starting point.
Liberty is just a starting point. There’s infinitely more at stake.
Brave post, and I think you made your point.
In my opinion government doesnt exist because it has a social purpose – it exists because it evolved from more primitive ploys of power. Long, long ago someone took the power of a tribe and centralized it, and expanded it, and then desired to rule everything. Then went from feudalism to monarchy to democracy to you have it, but it’s the same always, a few ruling them all, for the benefit of whoever is in charge. It didnt evolve as a group of people doing what’s best for most, but as a group of people with the desire to rule.
Voting for your ruler – voting to be forced on – its funny.
The role of a government should be similar to a gardener. They should keep the garden clean and prosper for the benefit of the garden itself. But that’s not how this was created. Otherwise people in politics would rank higher according to their managerial skills, instead of their charisma and political and power ploy skills. The government, the thing we currently have, is monarchy, its a dinosaur, it’s a personalities and bullshit game, it shouldnt be there, and conveniently it doesnt have mechanisms to remove itself.
My fix would be to destroy it and make it labor. Make it a service. Hire them as gardeners, keep them there as long as they are good, fire them if they fail, like in any other profession where you actually have to get the stuff done and get measured for it. This is *work*. You dont know who runs the electrical factory which fields your home, and you shouldnt need to, and shouldnt need to “vote” for that guy and you dont have the qualifications to do so. All you care is that you’re covered and that you can switch to a different provider or present and complaint and sue their asses if they fail at the service task they were hired for.
All the time in politics gets spent on charisma games and diversions while they make business behind the curtains. It needs a cleanse, and it wont come from themselves.
“In my opinion government doesnt exist because it has a social purpose – it exists because it evolved from more primitive ploys of power. Long, long ago someone took the power of a tribe and centralized it, and expanded it, and then desired to rule everything. Then went from feudalism to monarchy to democracy to you have it, but it’s the same always, a few ruling them all, for the benefit of whoever is in charge. It didnt evolve as a group of people doing what’s best for most, but as a group of people with the desire to rule.”
Partially correct. We’ve always needed an external control to keep us from killing each other, and this is a “social purpose.” However, to the power to stop us from killing each other is a form of power, and power as its own end is a desirable goal for many of us.
Hence the eternally unresolvable nature of government. it’s the requisite force necessary to limit force. Too much of it brings tyranny, too little and we’re in the Hobbesian state of nature in its most brutal form.
The beauty of the US Constitution is that it recognized this. The chaos of the Articles of Confederation was bad, but a new King George would be worse. Typically, the options have been Good King or Bad King, our Founders recognized that even a good King is bad. Power is simply too tempting.
“…it doesnt have mechanisms to remove itself.”
But our Constitution does require the government to limit itself, when we actually follow it. Unfortunately, the specific numerated powers of the UG gov’t have been usurped by the vague phrases of “general welfare”, “interstate commerce”, and “necessary and proper”
Because we’ve let it happen, our rules have become a type of democratic aristocracy. Our legislators are supposed to be farmers or businessmen who serve the public for a term or two, instead we have the Bushes, Kennedys, Murkowskis, Chaffees, and a whole bunch of other powerful families who have developed into their own power elite. The separation between these types and those on the right and left who believe that WE should be in charge, not them, is in many ways more significant that the differences between right and left. Insider vs. outsider is becoming a bigger divide than Republican vs. Democrat.
“We’ve always needed an external control to keep us from killing each other, and this is a “social purpose.””
That’s a social purpose, and the government has many other functions which are social, what Im addressing is why exists -> how it got there. I think you know this to a better depth than I do. Did the government get created because people needed to stop killing each other, or did it get created because the most powerful killer took charge of the town, and then added social purpose to keep things under control?
The way it’s structured makes me think it’s the latter. The original US constitution might be inspiring (french revolution language?), but in essence the men who ran it where the most powerful killers taking charge, and it transpires on how the thing operates.
“Did the government get created because people needed to stop killing each other, or did it get created because the most powerful killer took charge of the town, and then added social purpose to keep things under control?”
It probably started as the whole “powerful killer” thing, and then another “powerful killer” tried getting support with something along the lines of “being my slave will be better than being his slave.” Eventually people got more autonomy and other ideals got introduced, so the slavery thing became de-emphasized. But I’m theorizing and could be dead wrong.
“The original US constitution might be inspiring (french revolution language?), but in essence the men who ran it where the most powerful killers taking charge, and it transpires on how the thing operates.”
The Declaration’s language was actually quite a bit more inspiring, but I get your point. You’re right in that it was the most powerful killers taking charge, and that’s how it’s always been. What fluctuates is the “most powerful’s” amount of power relative the “powerless” (can people defend themselves, are their constraints on or within the govt itself), and the moral constraints those in power place on themselves.
Really powerful moral folks are great, and they exist. Just don’t count on it.
I look forward to the post of yours addressing the last part of his comment. Its always self apparent to most conservatives and libertarians that yes, if you make demands of the government you should be offering society, what the government SHOULD be in place to nurture (debatable as per yohamis comment), something of value. This is a fundamental concept to most ideas of the two political views.
Politics of the left completely leave the idea behind. Poor have the right to demand resources without offering anything. So do any disenfranchised minorities. To the left they have the right to take from those that ‘disenfranchised them’ without offering anything in return to society from those disenfranchised they’re giving resources to.
To their credit, some on the left believe that they’re making the transaction on a type of social credit card, that because the people get the resources they should and will go on to give back to the society that assisted them in a time of need. You’ve already addressed this in your writings on A and G.
No matter what their reasoning though, leftist theories and practices always ignore that if you want productive citizens you do two things: remove barriers preventing people from being productive and incentivize productivity. They mistakenly put up barriers through ‘assistance’ thay also disincentivizes being productive.
Though I have no idea how to make a liberal see anything close to the truth on this particular topic
Would it matter either way, Yohami?
I ask this solely because either way, you need to incentivize both leader and follower positions involved with government/people. Those in government need reasons to take on the stress and extra work of governing – Definitely power and usually money as well. The followers have to believe (doesn’t necessarily need to be true), that following the leaders is better for them than not following.
Of course, real reasons to follow are easier to upkeep than systems founded on lies, but I’d be surprised if any system ever had a distinct lack of either. Right now though, most western governments seem to be based on too many lies for the people to whole heartedly believe them. While the general populace seems to still buy in to the lies, it is done so more reluctantly by many. More and more you have the population dividing into fanatical supporters of the pretty lies who ignore the truth, or people searching for the truth.
Some care about the poor, some don’t. I’ve drawn the distinction here:
Part of the reason I put such emphasis on the “force” thing is that once it’s recognized, it’s harder for the Benighted to think of themselves as supporting love and charity. Your values may be wonderful, but you need to consider that government doesn’t just promote your values, it IMPOSES them. Big difference.
“To their credit, some on the left believe that they’re making the transaction on a type of social credit card, that because the people get the resources they should and will go on to give back to the society that assisted them in a time of need.”
This is important, and from time to time it actually works out that way. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on it happening consistently.
I completely agree on the importance of incentives. I try to get lefties to understand that although people should derive their actions from a moral sense, they typically act based on rewards/punishments. Make something more expensive (hiring people), get less of it.
Which rewards/punishments the govt is justified in administering is another question altogether.
I doubt they give a crap. They are repeating the party speech, because the party gives them a share of power. I doubt the lefties care about the poor as in, addressing the issue and doing the job and fixing the issue. I suspect the whole issue is only there because it adds glue to the cohesiveness of their emotional connection to the party – without deep scrutiny or analysis and no thought about repercussions and no long term planning. The angle is not about getting the job done, it’s not about the issue (poverty, guns, frontiers, etc), but getting in power and making your party win, so you win along with them.
For those in politics I’d agree with you that many lefties probably dont care and that most people I meet on the streets care so much and are so emotionally attached they’re unable to be intellectually attached. But I do think that they believe it really is the way to get the job done. Whats more, they think it’s the ONLY WAY to do so.
Meanwhile, they think that private, non government solutions are only ‘one way’. They fail to see that private sectors develope diverse solutions that are able to diversify and atrack problems on multiple fronts far more effectively than bloated ‘all the eggs in one basket’ government programs bound by red tape and a need to grow and prolong problems so as to increase their size and keep their jobs.
Very true. This stems from their view that most people are largely incapable of self-government. It’s assumed that the rich will never do enough and that the poor will never be able to exercise the necessary initiative to advance themselves. The external forces holding down the poor will always be stronger than the poor themselves.
The solutions will therefore require collective, obligatory action. As individuals we’re relatively powerless, as a collective, we can eliminate poverty, make the oceans recede, etc.
Conservatives and libertarians hold the opposite view: as individuals we’re capable of amazing things, but as a collective we’re largely inept. This is why I’m not totally with Sowell in his use of “constrained” and “unconstrained” in “A Conflict of Visions”. He’s correct in our respective views of humanity as a whole (society, govt is constrained to the right, unconstrained to the left), but incorrect regarding individuals.
damnit, meant to reply to yohami’s comment, not my own.
Leap, Im just trying to get to the core of the issue and this has been on my mind for a while, and frankly still going through it, as it doesnt make sense.
The valuable aspect of government is the social purpose – but it’s structure is different and circles around something else. The reality of politics is having a father figure, a god representative, a focus, a ruler. Which is valuable from the instincts / security side of things, but useless from the social purpose angle. The two are disconnected.
If we need water and electrical facilities in a town and there are murders, we need water, electricity and cops.
What do people do instead of addressing such things? they pick a father figure to solve it for them, someone they can plead to, and they chose this figure not because his service skills or proven combat experience, but because of his charisma and connections or blood quality or metaphysics and the quality of his elevator pitch. The two polarities are not just unrelated but in conflict.
In politics we have the leader / follower dynamics without the actual substance nor the actual addressing of the problems the situation was calling for.
We have this stuff about hiring people on merit, pick the right man for the job (the JOB). Then why in politics, where the job to be done is social service, the whole thing is built (BUILT, not by accident) to do other kind of choices?
Take your current experience with the theatre biz. Imagine that the rulers of the theaters are “elected” for reasons which have nothing to do with the theatre biz itself, and then the owners keep doing power plays and get positions as art directors and choreographers and keep making promises and saying how everything is going to be different and or better, but none of them really know wtf they are talking about, and dont know the difference between shakespeare and tarantino and cannot be bothered with calculating the economics of running a show and have no artistic purpose and not even a commercial purpose etc. Their approach is just to get into the seat, run a few shows, collect what they can and then run for the seat again.
While Im sure there are cases like that happening, that kind of model will ruin any business pretty fast, just like politics are ruining every country.
Now imagine this political kind of leadership approach was set in the theatre world as a default, with NO OTHER ways to addressing the business. You want to run a theatre and make some plays and art and make money? sorry kid, what you need to do is wear a suit and align to some existing party and promise something good. You want to give electricity and protect the town from murders? sorry kid, get more charisma and make more connections. etc.
No wonder the winners of that game have the charisma and connections but none of the actual skill set. The skill set is never put to use. Yet we keep needing the social service they dont provide. And voting them on their promise.
Say. You’re in the show biz. theatre companies run by leaders, and employees.
“Say. You’re in the show biz. theatre companies run by leaders, and employees.” discard that, older idea.
Imagine you’re hiring people to build your own theatre company. You need to address lighting, vestuary, etc, but you set up a process when screening the applicants that filters only the ones with the most narcissistic traits, and then let a crowd elect them for you.
Great analogy. The problem you cite stems from our inability to distinguish between A and G. Government is an earthly institution, but we yearn for somebody or something to create Heaven on Earth, to make it all okay. Hence our tendency to grow government and to place too much faith in political leaders.
This is part of why the secular left is more likely to fall for cults of personality (Stalin, Mao, Castro, Kim Jong Eew, etc.) Watch the National Geographic documentary “Inside North Korea” and you’ll see people literally worshipping an earthly god.
If it’s the state’s job to do everything (including require us to be virtuous), then our leaders will mean EVERYTHING to us.
However, even though we already know that we should never worship our political leaders, we do need to recognize that people crave leaders and want to believe in something greater than themselves. I address this here:
Curious, how would you impliment a job system such as you describe? Closest thing I can think of is an electoral system of sorts. Individuals are allowed a voice in chosing people at a set level. Say one of the following: city, county, state. From there the only people with votes are those in the positions putting forth others of their level to higher positions. Continue it upwards. That way people are put into positions only by those that know and have worked with them before.
Then, to get ‘fired’ those a level below the positions have to appeal for such a decision. Build in, say, a set time before such a decision is allowed so that they don’t get scapegoated for previous occupants mistakes. Otherwise, if they’re doing a good job, positions can last for life if desired.
Been thinking of what such a system would be like all day. Is it similar to what you’re thinking or far off the mark?
Just so you know, I did come here, I did read. I doubt I’ll continue the discussion because, as I said before, I have been on this merry-go-round too many times before and I expect that the chance of either of us convincing the other is roughly zippo.
I’ll just note here that having acknowledged that “have to” can encompass moral and ethical obligations as well as some kind of external force, you might consider that the reason “lefties” respond to “that’s why I should support the poor but why do I have to” with “silence” is because, having cited such obligations, they don’t understand why it is you imagine they haven’t answered the question.
Oh, wait, one other thing as a topic for discussion: You say “the purpose of government is to preserve individual liberty.” In that context, what constitutes “liberty?” What is the connection among “liberty,” “freedom,” and “rights?” Under that definition of “liberty,” in what way can one person’s exercise of their liberty hinder another person’s ability to do the same? Is it possible for one person’s *failure* to act to impinge on the liberty of another? In either event, how do you (and can you) protect the liberty of the latter without limiting the liberty of the former (and who or what agency does the limiting)?
You may have already through through all of these questions to you own satisfaction, i.e., arrived at answers that seem right to you, but I thought they were worth raising anyway.
Oh, wait, one more thing before I go: I enjoy the wit you put into the titles you give to your posts. 🙂
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I am not withdrawing from this discussion, for the record. I am interested in Martel’s reply to the last quote from Larry, in this post.
To me, this goes to the heart of the disagreement between left and right.
Yes, we HAVE to eat, we HAVE to drink, and if someone had not harvested that food and fed me as a child before I could afford to feed myself, I would be dead. Interconnectivity and interdependency is the state of life on earth. When individualism is presented in a vacuum “do I have to feed others?”–it ignores the very real fact that someone fed YOU, and I find it bizarre.. I also find it remarkably similar to three year olds who are given toys by adults, and then when you ask them to share with the other children: “DO I HAVE TO? THEY’RE MINE.” But they were not yours until I GAVE them to you, and that little fact seems to have been forgotten.
According to Christianity, nothing belongs to us, all belongs to God, since it was generously given to us by Him. Yes? No? If so, it really IS incumbent on us to share, and yes, we HAVE TO, according to Scripture.
I am really puzzled at the way Christianity has been totally ignored in this discussion… are you an atheist?
“…and if someone had not harvested that food and fed me as a child before I could afford to feed myself, I would be dead.”
And the more we treat adults like children, the more they act like children. People who AREN’T children and are perfectly able to take care of themselves, don’t.
If you have a child (or are one), there’s an intrinsic relationship between the two of you. You’re responsible for those that YOU brought into this world. i have no such relationship with some herion addict in Kansas City.
“But they were not yours until I GAVE them to you, and that little fact seems to have been forgotten.”
You didn’t build that? An entrepreneur doesn’t really deserve his stuff because we GAVE it to him? He’s being a child because he won’t give it up, and we’re redistributing his stuff to another child who needs it? Who gets to be the parent? Who gets to distinguish between the selfish greedy children and the helpless victim children? Because apparently, all of us are kids in need of a mommy to tell us what to do, and once we select/appoint/elect that mommey she’s gonna have a LOT of power.
“If so, it really IS incumbent on us to share, and yes, we HAVE TO, according to Scripture.”
So there’s a Biblical mandate that requires me to make other people adhere to Christian principles? Obviously, nobody would ever abuse their power over others as God’s Instrument on Earth.
Do you seriously still not understand the difference between Fred making Bob and Bob making himself because he believes he should? Do you still not get how the former incorporates force (even if it’s justified) but the latter does not?
“I am really puzzled at the way Christianity has been totally ignored in this discussion… ”
Maybe because Mark 12:17. I’m discussing what I have the right to force other people to do. In no way does anything I’m saying in any way contradict the precepts of the New Testament..
Part of the reason I put such emphasis on the “force” thing is that once it’s recognized, it’s harder for the Benighted to think of themselves as supporting love and charity. Your values may be wonderful, but you need to consider that government doesn’t just promote your values, it IMPOSES them. Big difference.
I can’t help but ask, do you feel this way about the things God “forces” you to do? God imposes values. The Church imposes values and upholds them. Is God therefore a fascist too? Is the concept of The Church fascist, to you?
Not trying to be sarcastic or snarky, honest question.
Im an atheist, and the state is not God nor should it be.
I find it amazingly easy to distinguish between the Deputy Vice Chairman of the Department of Bureacratic Paperwork and God.
I see churches trying to persuade me to adhere to certain moral obligations. These churches tell me I will pay dearly if I don’t comply.
But I see no Christian churches putting guns to my head threatening to shoot me or confiscate my property if I don’t comply. They figure that if I don’t do what they say, God will take care of it.
Martel, Daisy’s avoidance of the subject means that she sees it.
It might. This is the type of realization that can literally floor people once they get it. The reaction I’ve most commonly seen in person is sadness, but I’ve also caused hysterical fits where the person literally begs me to stop.
You could be right. Maybe we’ll see.
No, you are just not adhering to scripture. According to what *I* was taught, that means you are not any more trustworthy in your theory than I am.
But I see no Christian churches putting guns to my head threatening to shoot me or confiscate my property if I don’t comply
The Catholic Church used to, of course.
I think your Protestantism is obvious. Its only been relatively recently in human/church history that there was anything else.
We could go there sometime, if you want… but I can hear my old priest saying, what do you expect from a schismatic who has an incomplete Bible? 😉
“No, you are just not adhering to scripture. According to what *I* was taught, that means you are not any more trustworthy in your theory than I am.”
If we’re equally untrustworthy, then we should go with me because I don’t advocate using FORCE to make other people do stuff unless it’s necessary. All things being equal, shouldn’t we follow the course of less compulsion?
“The Catholic Church used to, of course.”
And were things better back then? Those grand old days in England where Catholics and Protestants were burning each other at the stake for heresy? After all, if politicians see themselves as God’s Enforcement Wing here on Earth, then making sure that they get and retain power is of the utmost importance, as is keeping the heretics from being able to usurp that same role.
I find it ironic that to refute me a member of the left resorts to largely theocratic arguments.
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I have been following and reading (as I said I would) wthout, obviously, commenting, but I’m just going to throw this in strictly to provoke further philosophical explication. First, though:
If we’re equally untrustworthy, then we should go with me because….
Sorry, no. If you’re equally untrustworthy, then the point at issue becomes moot. You can’t say “we’re equally untrustworthy but here’s a way to say I’m more trustworthy” because that “way” contradicts the premise. But never mind that, here’s the philosophy bit:
All things being equal, shouldn’t we follow the course of less compulsion?
Why? Seriously. Why? Why shouldn’t greater compulsion, why shouldn’t the ability to compel, be the standard for deciding otherwise-unanswered questions? If you want to lay down “follow[ing] the course of less compulsion” as a baseline moral or ethical principle, you surely can; indeed all moral and ethical standards, when pushed far enough, eventually come to a point of “it’s right just because it is,” but still then you have to present it as such, not as a logical argument. But if it’s not to be a baseline, if it’s to be a conclusion, an argument from underlying principles, then how do you show that less compulsion is better than, more ethical than (recall the word “should” implies some sort of ethical judgment), more complusion without simply assuming it is?
And then there is the phrase that cuts to the heart of things: “unless it’s necessary.” Who decides when force is “necessary,” for what reason it’s necessary, and what level of it is necessary? Can “necessary” involve the ethical, the for lack of a better term spiritual, or must it be merely the physical (and why or why not)?
Could not, to put that in more direct terms, a society decide that there is a moral necessity to see to it that none in that society lack adequate nutrition and then decide that taxation to finance the needed aid is “the course of least compulsion” toward that end, a means preferable to sending armed guards to your house to rifle through your cabinets and just take some of your food for redistribution? If not, why not? (Note that appeals to private charity do not answer the question since such a society would by the very premise have already determined that private charity is inadequate to the necessary end. The question here is who gets to decide what’s “necessary.”)
Although I suspect folks here would have at least some inkling of how I would address these questions, I’ve tried to raise them in an at least reasonably neutral way to provoke further discussion. I’ll be reading. 🙂
I find it ironic that to refute me a member of the left resorts to largely theocratic arguments.
Why? Ever heard of the Catholic Worker movement or MLK Jr? Amnesty International?
Certain strains of the American Left have a very strong Christian streak, and I have been affiliated with these factions at various times.
Either you obey God or you obey Man. And you seem to have chosen Man, because God in Human Form, ordered us to take care of the poor. Period. The End. No wiggle room given on that, as there was none given on any other direct order.
My question is why you are overlooking that and/or deciding that part of scripture is something you will deliberately disobey?
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