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The problem with being entrenched in a political ideology

  1. Don W profile image81
    Don Wposted 4 years ago

    This is a continuation of a conversation from another thread, which morphed into a discussion about political ideology:

    One of the main lessons we have learned about ideology, a lesson which draws on evidence from throughout history, is that 1) a single ideology is seldom ideal for every condition and state of affairs, and 2) when people act as though it is, ideology quickly descends into blind dogma.

    I do not believe it is beneficial for groups or individuals within society to adhere to a single ideology, or to any ideology. Such adherence very quickly becomes entrenchment, which results in those same groups or individuals refusing to take action for the good of society, not on the grounds that those actions would not be beneficial, but on the grounds that they do not adhere to the principles of their ideology.

    Within the process of making group decisions for the benefit of society, i.e. politics, the criteria for action must be the benefit that action brings to society. To determine what actions would be beneficial we must enlist the help of the brightest minds, the most exceptional innovators, the most gifted entrepreneurs, the most talented artists and all the other talent that exists in society. Not fall back on a formula for action, which is what ideologies are in their essence. Each action must have its own solution, not a formulaic one. At times the best solution will fit some ideology or other. At times it won't. At times the best solution will be clear. At times it wont. And that's when we must be prepared to compromise.

    Entrenchment in ideology is the enemy of compromise. Not only does it blind our decision makers from seeing beneficial actions, it also reduces the political forum to a battle of ideologies that weakens our ability to make group decisions and actions for the benefit of society. The ability to make such decisions and actions is the reason d'etre of the political apparatus.

    So I have nothing against ideology per se, only the blind loyalty it engenders. I care not if an idea is libertarian, or capitalist, or communist, or any other variety. I care only that it works to the good of society. But if you give me an ideology, as if its principles represent the best course of action in every situation, I will tell you that a single ideology is seldom ideal for every condition and state of affairs.

    1. Don W profile image81
      Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Note: if you cannot see the above quoted response, switch to "Chronological" view. Alternatively see:
      http://hubpages.com/forum/post/2291875

      1. Don W profile image81
        Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Note: if you cannot see the above quoted response, switch to "Chronological" view. Alternatively see:
        http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/107530? … ost2292376

    2. profile image61
      retief2000posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      This view, in and of itself represents a political ideology.  The notion that society is best run by an elite making decisions for its betterment is itself an ideological view.  The atomistic nature of a vibrant society discounts the effectiveness of elites making decisions for its betterment.

      Is society the product of a political body of elites guiding it?

      Or is a society the sum total of all the billions of decisions made second by second, day in and day out by the millions of individuals in it?

      How will this elite body enact its decisions?  Government, by its nature, is force.  A government without the ability to compel compliance with laws, regulations, etc...is impotent.

      Will this governing elite have a police force?

      How does a government of elites guarantee individual freedom when its decisions run a society? 

      How does one determine who is to be among this body of decision makers?  Democratic process, where the benighted masses so needing guidance chooses from their number a body who will make the important decisions?  With the exception of the most important decision of all, who will make the decisions. 

      How is this flawed society of incapable and ordinary people to identify those great among them who should be running things if they are incapable and ordinary?

      Must there be an interim government of self appointed elites that sets society in order and then permits a democratic process?  Would such a government risk the chaos of having the ordinary actually ruin things by voting?

      Will this ruling body run the economy?  Governments invariably believe that economies are more effectively engineered by governments than allowed to run as the organic and chaotic things they actually are. 

      Will "artists" make economic decisions for the millions of members of a society? 

      Will this government remove economic decision making from the individual?

      How is any of this not ideological?

      ---- on a side note---What practical and useful knowledge does an artist bring to the practical world?  Art itself is an outgrowth of leisure. Would one recommend that the best television watchers for the position of ruling elite?  Or athletes?  Bartenders?  Artists are no more qualified to make important decisions than bricklayers.  One could argue successfully, that some artists, even among the "best," are far less qualified to make decisions, even for themselves, than are bricklayers of any ability level.

      1. Don W profile image81
        Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        "This view, in and of itself represents a political ideology. "

        Nope. It's a single rational principle, not an ideology.

        "The notion that society is best run by an elite making decisions for its betterment is itself an ideological view."

        That's a misrepresentation of what I said. The rest of your post is based on that misrepresentation and is therefore a straw man argument.

    3. profile image61
      retief2000posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      "Within the process of making group decisions for the benefit of society, i.e. politics, the criteria for action must be the benefit that action brings to society."

      The role of politics is to benefit society, is an ideological assertion.

      "The benefit of society" is not "the benefit to society" - society exists because it benefits the individual.  A life devoid of society is brief and mean.  A government - political body - that seeks to benefit "society" has only two real choices regarding the individual within society.  One, compel the individual to further conform to government's goals for society or two, free the individual to work out his own place within a civil society without seeking its destruction.  If government places its goals on society than it reduces the individual to a function of political policy and goals.  If the individual is free to act within a civil society and governments sole role is the maintenance of that civil society - not the compulsion to steer it - than the individual is paramount and society is vibrant.  Greater government power over society limits freedom and therefore, society and the advance of civilization.

      "To determine what actions would be beneficial we must enlist the help of the brightest minds, the most exceptional innovators, the most gifted entrepreneurs, the most talented artists and all the other talent that exists in society."

      "enlist the help...."  this is indeed an establishment of elites.  In the civil society free from government goals for it , the best and brightest act within the society as free individuals not as navigational aids for the political bodies to steer society.  An established elite, with political authority - direct or indirect- must compel conformity to the social order planned by it for everyone else. 

      The idea that there is one person or group of people better equipped to determine the whole course of society is an ideological idea.  The idea that society is malleable at the hands of a powerful enough body to "benefit" it is to reject the reality of societal chaos.  Society does not emerge nor benefit from forces arrayed to steer it but rather from the fact that there are hundreds of millions of choices each individual will make in the course of his life that move society.

      It is a comfortable little niche one carves when one says, "it is a principle" as if "principles" regarding human society are immutable laws of the physical universe and then employs that dodgy and subjective assertion to avoid addressing arguments to the contrary.

      1. Don W profile image81
        Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        "The role of politics is to benefit society, is an ideological assertion."

        No, as I said, it's a rational principle. It could only be a political ideology if you change the definition of "principle" or "political ideology".

        "A government - political body - that seeks to benefit "society" has only two real choices regarding the individual within society."

        False dichotomy. It does not have only two "real" choices regarding the individual. It has a multitude, some of which are beneficial to society as a whole, some of which are not.

        "If government places its goals on society than it reduces the individual to a function of political policy and goals."

        If government is of the people, by the people and for the people, then its goals will not be anything other than those of "the people'". Therefore Government has no goals, other than those belonging to the groups of individuals that make up society, and the individuals who represent their interests.

        "If the individual is free to act within a civil society and governments sole role is the maintenance of that civil society - not the compulsion to steer it - than the individual is paramount and society is vibrant." 

        Straw man. It is not Government vs. the individual. Government is simply a mechanism by which groups of individuals within society can make group decisions that affect society as whole.

        "Greater government power over society limits freedom and therefore, society and the advance of civilization."

        Straw man again. Groups of individuals, and the individuals who represent them determine what "power" Government has. If individuals and the groups they are part of collectively choose to restrict some of their own freedoms in order to benefit society as a whole, then that is their choice. If they collectively choose not to, then that is their choice. If some groups would choose the former and some the latter, then that will be a test of the process of group decision making.

        "enlist the help...."  this is indeed an establishment of elites."

        Nope. Asking an expert about a particular problem is just being rational. The decision-making remains in the hands of the individuals who represent groups of other individuals. And the process also includes "the other talent that exists in society", which effectively  means everyone. The rest of your point about is made on misrepresentations of the above points, so is again a straw man argument.

        "The idea that there is one person or group of people better equipped to determine the whole course of society is an ideological idea."

        Misrepresentation. No such idea has been discussed. The rest of your point is based on that misrepresentation, so is another straw man.

        "It is a comfortable little niche one carves when one says, "it is a principle" as if "principles" regarding human society are immutable laws of the physical universe and then employs that dodgy and subjective assertion to avoid addressing arguments to the contrary."

        No, having a principle to base one's line of reasoning on is simply rational. No more. No less.

        1. profile image61
          retief2000posted 4 years ago in reply to this

          "But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."  James Madison Federalist #51

          It is the obligation of government to control itself in which all governments fail.  Power is seductive and corrupting.  To place in the hands of any governing body the power to steer society in any way is to court corruption.  Society is not a thing that can be tuned and run like an engine.  It is vast, organic and unpredictable.  What government hasn't out stripped its obligation to restrain itself?  A people is insufficiently powerful to control a government that chooses to remain uncontrolled.  History bares this out.

          An inviolable principle is required if government is to remain controlled.  This has been abandoned by those who seek to idealize political flexibility over ideology.  If there are no inviolable principles there can be no freedom.  A dedication to strict interpretation of the Constitution is ideological and essential for maintaining a free society.  It is not ideology that makes us less free but the stripping from the civil society a strict and inviolable principle that present  in the individual are natural rights not contingent upon government, politics, experts or the popular vote.

          If anything, subjecting a civil society to the machinations of a political body devoid of strict limits is to throw out any idea of  identifiable natural rights and, instead, reduce the individual to little more than another, interchangeable cog in a machine run by consensus among "experts" and enforced by government.  To place in the hands of the group the fate of each individual is to pursue tyranny.  The majority rule will eventually oppress the minority, unless there is a controlling, immutable and unyielding limit on it.

          It is the firm, predictable limits on the cupidity of the powerful that keeps people free not the removal of those firm and predictable limits.  It is the clear understanding that our flawed nature and the rights nature confers upon the imperfect individual cannot produce a perfect system of any kind - especially by intent.   A society becomes prosperous, productive, vital, efficient, etc...because the individuals in it are free, by their nature, to pursue these qualities(personally and individually) - without regard to the opinion of experts or the control of an over weening government.

          1. Don W profile image81
            Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            "There are four things, which I humbly conceive, are essential to the well being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States as an independent power:

            1. An indissoluble union of the states under one federal head.

            2. A sacred regard to public justice.

            3. The adoption of a proper peace establishment.

            4. The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some instances,to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community."

            George Washington

            So, among other things, "Mutual concession" and sacrifice "to the interest of the community" are essential.

            "To place in the hands of any governing body the power to steer society in any way is to court corruption. "

            Again, that's a misrepresentation of what has been said. If Government is of the people, by the people, for the people then it is simply a mechanism by which groups of individuals within society can make group decisions that affect society as whole. It therefore represents "the people" steering society the way "the people" choose. The rest is based on the same misrepresentation so is again a straw man argument.

            "An inviolable principle is required if government is to remain controlled."

            An inviolable principle is not the issue. Seemingly inviolable ideologies are.

            "This has been abandoned by those who seek to idealize political flexibility over ideology." 

            False dichotomy. An ideologue can be pragmatic, and a pragmatist can be an ideologue. The issue is ideological entrenchment. Being ideologically entrenched requires being an ideologue, but being an ideologue does not require being ideologically entrenched.

            "If there are no inviolable principles there can be no freedom."

            Principles are not ideologies. See above.

            "It is not ideology that makes us less free . . ."

            Misrepresentation. I said ideological entrenchment is the issue, not ideology.

            ". . . but the stripping from the civil society a strict and inviolable principle that present  in the individual are natural rights not contingent upon government, politics, experts or the popular vote."

            Straw man. There has been no discussion of "stripping" society of anything.

            The rest of your post relates solely to what you have misconceived the discussion to be about, and not what the discussion actually is about. So straw man.

    4. profile image0
      Sooner28posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      I tend to agree with the poster who said your idea is a political ideology.  You could basically call it pragmatism, which gives clearance to being completely contradictory in your beliefs, as long as it achieves some nebulous "greater good," without quite being a pure utilitarian, because you probably aren't willing to experiment on 100 healthy people to advance our knowledge of cancer.

      If you are a libertarian, I'd expect you to vote against all tax increases.  Though, based on the harm principle, one could NOT vote against environmental regulations, because that affects other people (John Stuart MIll).  Likewise, if one is a socialist, I'd expect every tax increase, at least on the rich, to be supported.

      This is Democracy, and it's why many of the great thinkers of the past weren't crazy about it as a political system.  A creationist has the same potential to be elected as Stephen Hawking.  Any system that produces that is seriously flawed.

      I also have no idea what you mean by a distinction between a "rational" and "political" principle.  Ideally, our political beliefs will be the most rational possible, given the available evidence in the world and our limits as human beings.  You seem to think there is a clear dichotomy between the two, which I don't think is a tenable position.

      1. Don W profile image81
        Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        "I tend to agree with the poster who said your idea is a political ideology."

        Then you are not alone, but pragmatism is more a philosophy than a political ideology. Essentially it doesn't matter. The issue is not ideology, but being entrenched in ideology, to the point where every idea must fall within that ideology, regardless of its practical merits. That paralyses the process of group decision making.

        "If you are a libertarian, I'd expect you to vote against all tax increases."

        Exactly my point. Surely the criteria for deciding whether taxes should be increased, should be the benefit it will be and the strength of the evidence for and against. Not a default "yes" or "no" based on an ideology. As I said the principles of a single ideology seldom allow for all ideas in a given situation. There may be times it would not be most helpful to raise taxes. Another time it may be. It depends on the circumstances. Surely decisions like these should be evidence based, not based on someone calling themselves a "Libertarian", or "Liberal" or "Conservative" etc. Decisions should be based on what works.

        "I also have no idea what you mean by a distinction between a "rational" and "political" principle. Ideally, our political beliefs will be the most rational possible, given the available evidence in the world and our limits as human beings.  You seem to think there is a clear dichotomy between the two, which I don't think is a tenable position."

        No I don't think there is a dichotomy, but I think ideological entrenchment can prevent people from making rational decisions. For example, ask a Libertarian if they will vote against taxes in 5 years time, and they will say yes, simply on principle, even though it's impossible to know what the state of affairs will be then, i.e. they have no evidence as to whether raising taxes in 5 years would be a helpful decision or not. It's impossible to tell. I consider that irrational political decision making. Ask me that question and the answer will be that I would have to see what the conditions are, and then weigh up the evidence for and against before giving an answer. I believe that's rational political decision making.

  2. cynthtggt profile image79
    cynthtggtposted 4 years ago

    What a wonderful reply.  It ought to be memorialized as one of the best answers on any forum thread.  Kudos!

  3. EmpressFelicity profile image83
    EmpressFelicityposted 4 years ago

    "Therefore Government has no goals, other than those belonging to the groups of individuals that make up society, and the individuals who represent their interests."

    You're forgetting that governments and their hangers-on are made up of people, many of whom have their own agendas (acquire more power, build up a nice fat pension, get that post-prime ministerial consultancy job with JP Morgan (£400k per year thankyouverymuch)).

    And yeah, "for the benefit of society" is an ideology.

    1. Don W profile image81
      Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      "You're forgetting that governments and their hangers-on are made up of people, many of whom have their own agendas (acquire more power, build up a nice fat pension, get that post-prime ministerial consultancy job with JP Morgan (£400k per year thankyouverymuch))."

      Indeed. That's why I said "if Government is by the people . . ." etc.

      "And yeah, "for the benefit of society" is an ideology."

      Out of context. The original comment was about the criteria for collective actions being the benefit that action brings to society. That single rational principle is only an ideology if you change the definition of "ideology".

      1. EmpressFelicity profile image83
        EmpressFelicityposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        And how do you ensure that it is "for the people"? Who will govern the government?

        Answer: it's impossible. Not only because the more power you give something, the more it wants, but because "by the people, for the people" is so hard to pin down. What the people want one day, they won't want the next. And vice versa.



        "And yeah, "for the benefit of society" is an ideology."



        Dictionary.com:

        "i·de·ol·o·gy
        [ahy-dee-ol-uh-jee, id-ee-] Show IPA
        noun, plural i·de·ol·o·gies.
        1. the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
        2. such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.
        3. Philosophy .
        a. the study of the nature and origin of ideas.
        b.a system that derives ideas exclusively from sensation.
        4.theorizing of a visionary or impractical nature."


        OK, so for the purposes of this thread we can ignore nos. 3 & 4, but 1 & 2? "The greatest good of the greatest number" (which is what you're advocating, no?) is definitely a doctrine in my book.

        ETA: On second thoughts, no. 4 sounds bang on.

        1. Don W profile image81
          Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          ". . . it's impossible. Not only because the more power you give something, the more it wants, but because "by the people, for the people" is so hard to pin down. What the people want one day, they won't want the next. And vice versa."

          This is not a discussion about government. You'll notice the OP does not mention government once. I have mentioned government only in response to being asked about it, because other posters have also misconceived the subject as being about government. I am interested in the process of group decision making, i.e. politics, and how ideological entrenchment negatively affects our ability to make such group decisions. If you have anything to contribute to that discussion, I'd be delighted to see it.   

          "1. the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group."
          One principle is not a "body of doctrine".

          "2. such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation."
          See above.

          "4.theorizing of a visionary or impractical nature."
          It's actually the opposite.

          prag·ma·tism 
          /ˈpragməˌtizəm/
          Noun
          A pragmatic attitude or policy: "ideology was tempered with pragmatism".
          An approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.

          The idea that the criteria for collective actions, should be the benefit that action brings to society, is not an ideology, just a rational principle, which also happens to be a pragmatic one.

          1. EmpressFelicity profile image83
            EmpressFelicityposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            What is government if not an example of group decision making? You can't avoid discussing government (however much you might wish to do so), because it's a prime example of what you claim you're talking about.





            But it is a "belief".




            It's an impractical one, however much you might try to deny it.

            1. Don W profile image81
              Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

              "You can't avoid discussing government (however much you might wish to do so)"

              I seem to have managed it in the OP. Individuals making decisions out of blind loyalty to a given ideology, as opposed to evidenced based decision making, is the  subject. I'm not interested in the apparatus through which group decisions are made (government), but the process by which group decisions are made (politics). Others seem more intent on discussing the virtues (or lack of) in government, which is fine. But that's not what I'm particularly interested in.

              "But it is a "belief"."
              Equating any single belief to an ideology would make the belief I had toast for breakfast this morning an ideology, which is nonsensical. While an ideology necessarily entails belief, belief does not necessarily entail ideology.

              "It's an impractical one, however much you might try to deny it."
              It isn't, however much you might try to assert it..

              1. EmpressFelicity profile image83
                EmpressFelicityposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                But how governments make decisions is a key example of what you're talking about, so I'm afraid that you can't simply exclude governments from the discussion.

                OK, to generalise: as an individual, it's relatively easy for me to make decisions on my own behalf and where necessary/relevant, on behalf of my immediate family. It becomes harder if I have to start decision-making on behalf of a greater number of people. It becomes harder still if it's not just me making the decisions, but me in conjunction with a whole lot of other people. Especially if the thing I and my fellow decision-makers are dealing with is a complex entity that is constantly evolving and developing different needs. Like a company... or a country. If you're talking about something as complex and large as a country, then it actually (in my view) becomes impossible to garner enough evidence to get the decision-making process right, every time. In the end what happens is that the decision makers filter everything through their own ideologies (that word again). The more dishonest ones just take kick-backs, and the frightened ones do what their party whip says.

                tl;dr: The greater number of people involved in decision making, the less likely it is that any decision made will be truly evidence-based.




                Throughout this thread, you've been saying that you believe that group decisions should be made "for the benefit of society". Sounds like an ideology to me.

                1. Hollie Thomas profile image59
                  Hollie Thomasposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  It becomes harder if I have to start decision-making on behalf of a greater number of people. It becomes harder still if it's not just me making the decisions, but me in conjunction with a whole lot of other people.

                  Yes, but our politicians are whipped into shape so to speak. It isn't really the case that Pm's or leaders of the opposition have to comply with, or even consider for the most part, the opinions of back benchers- often it's the other way around. Although I do agree that on the front benches they have to make decisions in conjunction with a whole load of other people, but they are rarely members of the party or the public.

                2. Don W profile image81
                  Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  "But how governments make decisions is a key example of what you're talking about, so I'm afraid that you can't simply exclude governments from the discussion."

                  I've already said I'm interested in the process of group decision making (politics). Whether those decisions are made by a group authorised to govern (government) or a religious group, or a Corporation is irrelevant. But just because I'm not particularly interested in one particular group over another, doesn't mean I want to exclude any particular group from the discussion either. I just don't want it to become another rant about the virtues/evils of big government vs. small government. That's not what the thread is about.

                  "If you're talking about something as complex and large as a country, then it actually (in my view) becomes impossible to garner enough evidence to get the decision-making process right, every time. In the end what happens is that the decision makers filter everything through their own ideologies (that word again)."

                  I agree, and there's no problem with "filtering" things through whatever ideology we subscribe to. But there is a problem when people agree or disagree with an idea based solely on whether or not it fits their ideology. In other words, when people become so entrenched in an ideology that they can't ever entertain any idea that is contrary to it. As I said in the OP, a single ideology seldom allows for ideas which are beneficial in every given situation. If someone is a Capitalist, they should still be able to acknowledge a useful idea, even if it stems from Socialist ideology. And vice versa with a Socialist.

                  In group decision making, ideas should be judged on their merits, not on whether or not they sit within our own pet ideology.

                  "The greater number of people involved in decision making, the less likely it is that any decision made will be truly evidence-based."

                  If evidence does not point to a clear "best" solution, then decisions can also be based on what is most likely, or unlikely to be the case, or on the experiences of others. If there is absolutely no indication at all, then the decision making process should be equipped to deal with that. It should not result in inaction in the face of an issue that everyone recognises is an issue.

                  "Throughout this thread, you've been saying that you believe that group decisions should be made "for the benefit of society". Sounds like an ideology to me."

                  Non sequitur. The fact it "sounds like" an ideology to you does not make it one.

                  Moreover, evidence of previous experience suggests putting my unprotected hand into a fire is detrimental to my health. I therefore avoid such action. My avoidance is rational, not ideological. It's also pragmatic. Burning my hand is proven to be unhelpful relative to the goal of maintaining a fully functioning, healthy body.

                  Evidence of previous experience throughout history suggests blind allegiance to, and application of a single ideology is detrimental to society. So avoidance of such action is rational, not ideological. It's also pragmatic because ideological entrenchment is proven to be unhelpful relative to the goal of achieving a thriving society.

                  Single rational, pragmatic principles do not equate to ideology.

                  1. EmpressFelicity profile image83
                    EmpressFelicityposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    But the point I was making is that on a large, national scale, it can be extremely hard or impossible to judge ideas "on their merits" (in your terms, i.e. on outcomes) because of lack of information, and lack of knowledge about possible unforeseen outcomes.





                    So the motto is always "Do something!" even though you may not have any idea of what the outcome is going to be and whether what is going to happen will actually result in an improvement.




                    A simple action (putting your hand in the fire) which always has one outcome (a burned hand) isn't the same as the management of a complex, evolving entity like a country's economy/government. Apples and oranges.




                    In your world, those rational pragmatic principles will in practice be the ideology of whoever has the biggest stick or the largest media budget.

                    Another thing: what is this thing called "society" anyway? Who gets to define what a "thriving society" is, and how it's to be achieved? THIS is the problem I have with arguments like the one you're putting forward. In the end, the definition of "thriving society" is a moveable feast, and will depend on the whim of whoever gains the reins of power. If Hitler (yeah, Godwin's law - I know) was in charge of the country, you can just imagine how would define a "thriving society" and the means he would use to try and achieve that.

  4. EmpressFelicity profile image83
    EmpressFelicityposted 4 years ago

    I don't remember anyone asking "the people" of Britain whether they wanted to go to war against Iraq in 2003. And yet judging by the number of people who demonstrated against that war, the majority of us were against it.

    1. PrettyPanther profile image84
      PrettyPantherposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Yes, but didn't the majority vote for those who approved of it?  You can vote them out if you dislike their policies.

      1. EmpressFelicity profile image83
        EmpressFelicityposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        ...and vote in a bunch of other people who always seem to end up doing similar things.

        1. PrettyPanther profile image84
          PrettyPantherposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          I don't know about the politics in Britain, but I am amazed at who people will vote for here in the U.S.  Some people don't bother to learn what politicians truly believe; they vote on just one or two issues.

          1. EmpressFelicity profile image83
            EmpressFelicityposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            Agreed, and I think it's the same in any democracy. I am more and more coming to realise that democracy is inherently flawed though - partly because the people who go into politics are either corrupt to begin with, or they get corrupted along the way by lobbyists and so forth. And a lot of people vote based on "what's in it for me?" rather than on principles.

            Funnily enough, I also think that domestic politicians actually have a lot less power than we think they do. In the UK, much of our legislation comes via Parliament from the EU - it doesn't originate within this country. People believe that the government of the day is solely responsible for the economy, for example. What goes on in today's economy is down to a whole load of other factors: the decisions made by previous governments, the actions of central banks/stock markets, international trade deals, and plain old human behaviour (housing/stock market/other bubbles etc.).

            1. innersmiff profile image77
              innersmiffposted 4 years ago in reply to this

              Democracy is the 'argumentum ad populum' fallacy applied to politics.

              1. innersmiff profile image77
                innersmiffposted 4 years ago in reply to this
              2. profile image61
                retief2000posted 4 years ago in reply to this

                and that argument is rarely challenged.  When it is challenged the very first word from Democracy's defenders aimed at the critic is, "Fascist."  IF nothing else the absurdity of the world is an endless source of entertainment.

          2. Hollie Thomas profile image59
            Hollie Thomasposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            In the UK, successive governments have a history of saying one thing in their manifesto and then implementing policies which are in complete contradiction of everything they've stated in their manifesto, once they've been elected. Example, New Labour fully supported free higher education. The Conservatives were going to be the Greenest Government ever, and the NHS was safe in their hands. The Lib Dems pledged to scrap tuition fees and then, once in coalition, voted with the tories to raise tuition fees three fold.

            They all lie through their teeth and then do whatever they want once elected. So, in part, yes it's down to individuals who should do a little more research before voting- but our politicians are just liars, full stop.

            1. innersmiff profile image77
              innersmiffposted 4 years ago in reply to this

              How come government is the only institution in the world that is not legally obligated to fulfil its contract?

              1. Hollie Thomas profile image59
                Hollie Thomasposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                There not, look around you, the world appears to be full of institutions that couldn't give a fig about fulfilling their contract.

                1. innersmiff profile image77
                  innersmiffposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  They are at least required by law to do this, even if it is not enforced. There is very little recourse if governments do not fulfil their promises, principally, the withdrawal of funds will be met with violence. Corporations do not have the right to arrest you if you decide not to trade with them anymore.

                  1. Hollie Thomas profile image59
                    Hollie Thomasposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    Agreed, but corporations use the state; ie- the police and intelligence agencies to suppress dissenting voices.

  5. innersmiff profile image77
    innersmiffposted 4 years ago

    Repost from the other thread. I'm enjoying this discussion:

    For brevity I’ll make the general argument that I feel responds to a lot of what you’ve said: your aim is for the best people to come together to work solutions for the good of society. My view is that to ascertain “good” and “best”, which are value judgments as opposed to empirical ones, it is necessary to hold a consistent ideology, as this is the area in which morality operates. Due to this, this “agreed effective method” needs an ideological framework also. The argument from effect can never be consistently applied, because actions may have different degrees of benefits for some parties, and negatives for others. If you’re saying “benefitting most people, most of the time”, this is getting somewhere close to an ideology, but it’s still not consistent. The argument from morality is the only argument where you’re going to get close to ‘should’ and ‘should not’, which is entirely what the Libertarian anti-prohibitionist argument is: “thou shalt not commit aggression”. But you’ve revealed something that gets to the real argument we’re having here: “There is no wrong or right, i.e. correct/incorrect.”. Are you denying morality? You seem to acknowledge it in your last point but reject it for ‘helpful’ and ‘unhelpful’ actions, so I’m a tad confused.

    Why deny morality in societal decisions? Slavery is a very cheap way of producing cotton - it was extremely ‘effective’ for the white majority that bought and sold it. But it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.

    “The assumption that being against prohibition will always, under every circumstance be the correct position to adopt. That rule is not based on
    any proven practical merit. It is a theoretical notion, an idealised notion that has no grounding in the real world.”

    Practicality is not what libertarians are primarily interested in (though we believe libertarianism is infinitely more practical than statism), we’re interested in what is right. ‘Morality’, the ‘should’ and ‘should not’, is universal, the same in all circumstances, otherwise it doesn’t deserve to be called ‘morality’. Caveats and provisos can’t be part of morality, because part of the definition is ‘universal’. We don’t need to assess it using the ‘brightest minds’ or through democracy, if we’ve already arrived at that decision using reason. If you have a problem with this, then your problem is not with ideology but with morality.

    “Compromise” is not something I rate when it comes to my  fundamental beliefs. Compromise is good with general convenience, helping people get along without violating anybody’s rights, but not when it comes to ‘violate your values or bust!’. The biggest problem with congress is not that they don’t compromise enough, but that they compromise far too often on things that are destructive and immoral. Despite ‘many reservations’ Obama had with NDAA, he passed it to ‘make a compromise’. That’s the citizenry’s basic civil liberties violated thanks to ‘compromise’. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to compromise by letting the state have the ability to indefinitely detain citizens without trial. It’s just wrong.

    “Which is why Libertarianism has nothing useful to offer.”
    I don’t know what you’re referring to here. Quotes would be helpful.

    In addition, I would like you to respond to my original point about prohibition violating individual rights, in particular, right to free association and property rights.

    “If we're assuming that an individual has the right to one's self, we have to assume that they have the right to engage in any voluntary association with a willing individual, and trade with them with justly owned property.”

    I was responding to your argument that banning certain clip sizes would not be a violation of rights. How can it not?

    1. Don W profile image81
      Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      "your aim is for the best people to come together to work solutions for the good of society"

      Nope. I have no aim, other than to express my opinion that the criteria for group action should be the extent to which that action helps or hinders society to achieve rational goals.

      "My view is that to ascertain “good” and “best”, which are value judgments as opposed to empirical ones, it is necessary to hold a consistent ideology, as this is the area in which morality operates"

      No, "good" and "best" can be relative to how well things help achieve agreed goals. Those agreed goals are what will ultimately determine what "good" and "best" mean, which is why it makes sense that they be rational goals.

      "If you’re saying “benefitting most people, most of the time”, this is getting somewhere close to an ideology, but it’s still not consistent. "

      The criteria is how well an idea helps achieve an agreed goal, not how well it meets the principles of any particular ideology. That's the difference. Pragmatism is not an ideology.

      "“There is no wrong or right, i.e. correct/incorrect.”. Are you denying morality? You seem to acknowledge it in your last point but reject it for ‘helpful’ and ‘unhelpful’ actions, so I’m a tad confused."

      As indicated, wrong and right in that sentence is used as correct/incorrect. i.e. in accordance with fact or truth. That is not a value judgement and has nothing to do with morality.

      "Why deny morality in societal decisions?"

      Straw man. This question and the rest of your point are based on a misconception of what I said.

      "Practicality is not what libertarians are primarily interested in (though we believe libertarianism is infinitely more practical than statism), we’re interested in what is right."

      I understand that, and I am asserting that such blind allegiance to Libertarian ideology is not rational.

      "Caveats and provisos can’t be part of morality, because part of the definition is ‘universal’."

      So prohibiting a child from walking out onto a busy road is immoral according to Libertarianism?

      "“Compromise” is not something I rate when it comes to my  fundamental beliefs."

      That's the hallmark of fundamentalism, which evidence has shown throughout history is detrimental to society.

      "“Which is why Libertarianism has nothing useful to offer.”
      I don’t know what you’re referring to here. Quotes would be helpful."

      This refers to your comment: "I’m right, and the prohibitionists are wrong. There’s no two ways about it and there is no compromise that could possibly be reached."
      That is the reason Libertarianism has nothing useful to offer.

      "In addition, I would like you to respond to my original point about prohibition violating individual rights, in particular, right to free association and property rights."

      Don't know what your original point was. By all means repeat it. But suggesting association and property rights are the main criteria  to determine whether something is acceptable is absurd. Are you suggesting that selling crack cocaine on street corners is acceptable as long as there are willing customers? Or giving cigarettes to kids outside schools is acceptable if the kids take them freely? Or that child pornography is acceptable if the child agrees?

      1. innersmiff profile image77
        innersmiffposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Okay, we’ve settled that your ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are relative to determined practical goals. However, your view needs some kind of ideological framework no matter how you shape it. The principles of libertarian ideology are not based on pre-conceived societal goals because they believe that the individual alone, or in voluntary agreement with others, can, and should be able to, determine their own goals. There is a difference between this and your ‘aim’, ‘idea’, ‘principle’, ‘belief’, whatever you want to call it (frankly, I’m getting confused with how you’re defining what you are proposing), and to choose between them one needs a framework of ideas and principles - ‘should’ - which lies somewhere in ideology. But as I’ve explained before, ideology needn’t be blind nor irrational. It is possible to arrive at an ideology through reason, and conclude that it is suitable for all situations. If the principles within it are rational, there is no reason to suggest that the assertion that it is suitable for all situations is irrational in and of itself. It all depends on the principles. If you want to argue the principles, we can, but I think this particular line of argument concerning ideology is redundant and avoiding the issue.

        “"Caveats and provisos can’t be part of morality, because part of the definition is ‘universal’."

        So prohibiting a child from walking out onto a busy road is immoral according to Libertarianism?””

        It gets a little tricky concerning children, as they cannot be said to be the same as grown adults retaining their faculties.  For one, they are, in a sense, owned by their parents. Morality should also take into account the ability to make a choice. Because of course, when you’ve got no choice, your ability to make a moral action is compromised. With children, it can be said that in many cases that ‘they don’t know what they’re doing’, so it is right to make decisions on behalf of them that are in their perceived best interest. This is the same with adults who have mental issues, and the extremely elderly. If you want to call that a caveat, I’ll have a hard time proving you wrong, so you can have that one.

        However, with your example, it’s not necessary to confront the above conundrum. Preventing someone from walking into immediate danger is only a violation of rights if that person was intending to do it. And if that person is appreciative of the intervention, the action cannot be said to be aggressive. It doesn’t violate that person’s will.

        “"“Compromise” is not something I rate when it comes to my  fundamental beliefs."

        That's the hallmark of fundamentalism, which evidence has shown throughout history is detrimental to society.”

        Always? I would question that. Some principles have to be right, in and of themselves, regardless of circumstance. Is there anything particularly wrong with holding tightly the fundamental belief that ‘rape is wrong’, for instance? Or is there a compromise one could reach on that particular issue?

        “That is the reason Libertarianism has nothing useful to offer.”

        Oh no? You don’t believe that your right to life and liberty are useful? Denying libertarianism as a whole is to deny basic rights that one takes for granted, including your right to say what you want to say on here. I’m sure has to be of some use to you.

        My point was responding to your assertion that banning certain clip sizes was only a ‘restriction of choice’ rather than a violation of rights. I declared that this was a violation of property rights and right to free association. When a person is prohibited from holding a large clip that they acquired non-aggressively, this is a violation of property rights. The denial of this person’s ability to buy or sell this clip to another is a violation of free association.

        In a roundabout way you’ve made a statement on whether violating property and association rights is sometimes a good thing, rather than whether banning certain clip sizes actually does this. I wanted to make sure that we agree that banning certain clip sizes does violate property and association rights before we went off on whether this action should happen, just so we know we’re on the same page.

        “But suggesting association and property rights are the main criteria  to determine whether something is acceptable is absurd. Are you suggesting that selling crack cocaine on street corners is acceptable as long as there are willing customers? Or giving cigarettes to kids outside schools is acceptable if the kids take them freely? Or that child pornography is acceptable if the child agrees?”

        The first point is a straw-man. Libertarians differ greatly on what we deem are ‘acceptable’ and ‘non-acceptable’ actions, but mostly share the view that non-aggressive actions should not be prevented using violence.  One’s person, associations and property are simply criteria in which they define what is an aggressive action. Many may agree that selling crack cocaine is an undesirable action, but we may also agree that we should not prevent one from doing so, seeing as it is their right. It is the same principle that grants a person freedom of speech even if others find what that person says abhorrent.

        On the other hand, if you’re defining ‘acceptable’ as: ‘this action should be legal’, then yes, as long as the person in question has justly acquired or made the crack, owns the street corner,  or has permission from the owner, most libertarians believe they should be allowed to sell it to willing customers without molestation. The actions involving children are an entirely different thing, as extrapolated upon above. The same points apply to your two examples: children do not possess the correct faculties to understand the cost/benefit of their actions, so are excluded.

        1. Don W profile image81
          Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          "But as I've explained before, ideology needn't be blind nor irrational. It is possible to arrive at an ideology through reason, and conclude that it is suitable for all situations."

          Contradiction. It cannot be reasonably concluded that a single ideology is suitable for all situations. Unless you have knowledge of every situation that will ever arise between now and the end of humanity, such an assertion is merely wishful thinking. The most you can assert is that an ideology might be suitable for any given situation, which renders it no more than a tautology.

          "If the principles within it are rational, there is no reason to suggest that the assertion that it is suitable for all situations is irrational in and of itself."

          See above.

          "With children, it can be said that in many cases that ‘they don’t know what they’re doing’, so it is right to make decisions on behalf of them that are in their perceived best interest. . . .  If you want to call that a caveat, I’ll have a hard time proving you wrong, so you can have that one."

          Contradiction. You previously asserted that: "Caveats and provisos can’t be part of morality, because part of the definition is ‘universal’." If you hold that to be true, and accept a caveat exists relating to children, then Libertarian 'morality' does not meet the standard you yourself have asserted for morality. Your position is therefore self-defeating.

          "However, with your example, it’s not necessary to confront the above conundrum. Preventing someone from walking into immediate danger is only a violation of rights if that person was intending to do it."

          That's a proviso, so your position remains self-defeating. See above.

          "Some principles have to be right, in and of themselves, regardless of circumstance."

          Contradiction. You have already said there are caveats and provisos in Libertarian 'morality'. Therefore, according to the standard you have presented, the Libertarian ideal of 'no aggression' is not 'right in and of itself' regardless of circumstances. 'No aggression' is in fact only right depending on the circumstances.

          "Is there anything particularly wrong with holding tightly the fundamental belief that ‘rape is wrong’, for instance? Or is there a compromise one could reach on that particular issue?"

          The issue is not about holding something to be 'wrong', it's about irrationally sticking rigidly to specific ideals at any expense. Think about it abstractly. If a allowing single instance of something you considered 'wrong' could prevent five million deaths, what is the morally correct course of action? Allow 1 immoral action and save 5 million lives, or prevent 1 immoral action at the expense of 5 million lives? If you are rigidly locked into the Libertarian ideology (as you seem to be) you have no choice in this scenario. So how many lives is your desire to label yourself a 'Libertarian' worth?

          "Oh no? You don’t believe that your right to life and liberty are useful? Denying libertarianism as a whole is to deny basic rights that one takes for granted, including your right to say what you want to say on here. I’m sure has to be of some use to you."

          We arrive at the right to life through rationality. Indeed Rene Descartes argued, through pure reasoning, that we exist when he asserted 'Cogito ergo sum'.  We don't need 'Libertarianism' to arrive at the right to life and liberty. But we do need people like George Washington who understood that liberty must be tempered with concession and compromise in order for society to work properly. He said:

          "There are four things, which I humbly conceive, are essential to the well being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States as an independent power:  . . . . 4. The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community". 

          Nothing wrong with holding an ideology, but blind allegiance to a single ideology is foolish and detrimental to society.

          "My point was responding to your assertion that banning certain clip sizes was only a ‘restriction of choice’ rather than a violation of rights."

          I still hold that view. If you want to live on a desert Island with a group of other like minded people, and take a Lord of the Flies approach to society, that's your choice. But within modern, civilised society people have a right to liberty, only within the confines of agreed laws and social conventions. They do not have a right to do anything they choose to do.  Therefore the 'right' you speak of does not exist, and has never existed. In fact the 'right' you espouse has never existed in any organised society, anywhere at any time in history.

          "I wanted to make sure that we agree that banning certain clip sizes does violate property and association rights before we went off on whether this action should happen, just so we know we’re on the same page."

          Same as above. In civilised society you do not have the 'right' to own anything you want, just because you can afford to buy it, and someone is willing to sell it. Not being allowed to own an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile, for example is, one of the costs of living in a civilised society,with all the benefits that entails. People are of course free to live in other societies in which anyone can own anything they like. Such societies are prevalent among developing nations.

          "Many may agree that selling crack cocaine is an undesirable action, but we may also agree that we should not prevent one from doing so, seeing as it is their right. . . as long as the person in question has justly acquired or made the crack, owns the street corner,  or has permission from the owner, most libertarians believe they should be allowed to sell it to willing customers without molestation."

          So according to Libertarianism, people should be allowed to sell crack cocaine on street corners. This is the problem with fanatic loyalty to ideology. It causes people to abandon reason and common sense. I think it's more useful to review the peer-reviewed, academic papers which look at drug use as a public health issue, listen to the testimony of people who are affected by drugs, and garner the opinions of health professionals who treat people for drug addiction etc., than to just say let's make it legal because my pet ideology says it should be, even though empirical evidence points to the contrary. I find such surrender of reason to pure ideology abhorrent.

          1. innersmiff profile image77
            innersmiffposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            “"But as I've explained before, ideology needn't be blind nor irrational. It is possible to arrive at an ideology through reason, and conclude that it is suitable for all situations."

            Contradiction. It cannot be reasonably concluded that a single ideology is suitable for all situations. Unless you have knowledge of every situation that will ever arise between now and the end of humanity, such an assertion is merely wishful thinking. The most you can assert is that an ideology might be suitable for any given situation, which renders it no more than a tautology.””

            If the ideology was arrived at, through reason, and taking account truths and laws of this world, only a scenario that defied these laws of physics  and truths could violate the ideology.

            “Contradiction. You previously asserted that: "Caveats and provisos can’t be part of morality, because part of the definition is ‘universal’." If you hold that to be true, and accept a caveat exists relating to children, then Libertarian 'morality' does not meet the standard you yourself have asserted for morality. Your position is therefore self-defeating.”

            I believe only an adult carrying full mental faculties can make a moral or immoral action as they have the required ability to choose. It’s not a caveat because the choices made by children do not meet the definition. I only conceded that it was a caveat to move the argument along, which on hindsight, was a mistake, as I see now that it is central to my point.

            “"However, with your example, it’s not necessary to confront the above conundrum. Preventing someone from walking into immediate danger is only a violation of rights if that person was intending to do it."

            That's a proviso, so your position remains self-defeating. See above.”

            This is not a proviso either. An action ceases be aggressive when each party is acting willfully. If this person was intentionally walking into traffic, to stop him would be committing an act of aggression. Two different types of action - one in fitting with libertarian ideology, and one that does not, depending on the intention of the person. A proviso is only so when the differentiation occurs due to some arbitrary measure not related to the definition.

            “The issue is not about holding something to be 'wrong', it's about irrationally sticking rigidly to specific ideals at any expense.”

            ‘Right’ and ‘wrong’ are exactly what I am talking about, that I believe are specific ideals, I don’t know about you.

            “Think about it abstractly. If a allowing single instance of something you considered 'wrong' could prevent five million deaths, what is the morally correct course of action? Allow 1 immoral action and save 5 million lives, or prevent 1 immoral action at the expense of 5 million lives? If you are rigidly locked into the Libertarian ideology (as you seem to be) you have no choice in this scenario. So how many lives is your desire to label yourself a 'Libertarian' worth?”

            More context? If the individual making the choice is being coerced, e.g. “Rape this woman, or we kill 5 million people”, the question doesn’t apply, because morality can only apply to actions when the individual has a real choice (not a proviso: it doesn’t meet the definition). If you’re talking about a ‘Dark Knight’ scenario, where the lives of innocent people are weighed up against criminals, it still doesn’t apply. The Joker, by forcing these people into the situation through threat of violence, is the immoral player.

            Secondly, the proposition is “thou shalt not”. The first action is still an immoral action, regardless of what that action might lead to. Presumably the individual isn’t literally killing 5 million people, so the moral question is: “should we do our best to prevent violence to others?”, which is entirely different, and can be weighed up against the other moral question. Your scenario does not appear to reveal any flaws in the non-aggression principle, alone, as a universal rule.

            “We arrive at the right to life through rationality. Indeed Rene Descartes argued, through pure reasoning, that we exist when he asserted 'Cogito ergo sum'.  We don't need 'Libertarianism' to arrive at the right to life and liberty.”

            The argument that one has a right to life is a libertarian viewpoint - it is part of the definition of ‘liberty’, that assumes one has a right to one’s self. This definition was arrived at through reason, just like Descartes, not deferred backwards from the libertarian ideology. Libertarian ideology is simply an extension of the definition of liberty, arrived at through reason in a series of syllogisms, i.e. if one has the right to life, one has the right to the product of their labour, etc. etc.

            "My point was responding to your assertion that banning certain clip sizes was only a ‘restriction of choice’ rather than a violation of rights."

            “If you want to live on a desert Island with a group of other like minded people, and take a Lord of the Flies approach to society, that's your choice.”

            The analogy doesn’t fit. The children of ‘Lord of the Flies’ operated a form of communal society rather than a strict adherence to private property. They also only had minimal division of labour. Liberty isn’t the absence of law and order.

            “But within modern, civilised society people have a right to liberty, only within the confines of agreed laws and social conventions.” [Summarising yours and George Washington’s views]


            One can not simultaneously hold the view that one has a right to self and that government/society grants the right to liberty (self). We’ve agreed that one arrives at the conclusion that one has a right to one’s self/right to life from reason alone. But think about what you are saying later : that the right to liberty/self exists amongst ‘agreed’ parameters. Presumably, in your society, it is possible that there may be an ‘agreement’ that the right to liberty must disappear, thus making the right to liberty non-existent. So you’ve revealed a contradiction: how can one have the right to self yet people can agree that one doesn’t? If the right to one’s self is reasonable, the number of people that agree makes no difference to it’s truth value. 1 + 1 = 2, regardless of how many agree that that is the case. Would you be in favour of a society that could define for everyone what 1 + 1 equals, or are there irrefutable truths that are beyond consensus?

            “They do not have a right to do anything they choose to do.”

            Straw-man. We have only suggested that one has the right to engage in voluntary actions on their own property, not ‘ do anything they want’.

            “Therefore the 'right' you speak of does not exist, and has never existed.”

            If you agree that one has a right to life, you’re arguing that it exists, regardless of agreement, as explained above. One has the right to one’s self. If we assume this to be true we have to assume that one has the right to the product of one’s self, as it would not have existed without the one’s self otherwise. No other individual or group is responsible for that property, so can not claim right over it. This is true, and ‘self-evident’, as described in the US constitution, intended to be protected rather than granted or ‘agreed upon’.

            “People are of course free to live in other societies in which anyone can own anything they like. Such societies are prevalent among developing nations.”
            Being forced by gunpoint to abandon one’s home for wanting to engage in a non-aggressive action cannot be considered a ‘free’ action. And consider that the US government, for instance, still claims ownership over expatriates’ property in the form of expatriation taxes, that nullify any financial incentive to leave in the first place. How this can be considered a viable alternative, or proof of the voluntary ‘social contract’ astounds me.

            “So according to Libertarianism, people should be allowed to sell crack cocaine on street corners. This is the problem with fanatic loyalty to ideology. It causes people to abandon reason and common sense. I think it's more useful to review the peer-reviewed, academic papers which look at drug use as a public health issue, listen to the testimony of people who are affected by drugs, and garner the opinions of health professionals who treat people for drug addiction etc., than to just say let's make it legal because my pet ideology says it should be, even though empirical evidence points to the contrary. I find such surrender of reason to pure ideology abhorrent.”

            Empirical evidence disproves the non-aggression principle? This is news to me - I’d be glad to see these studies that have proven that putting people in prison for a completely non-aggressive act is a moral decision. It seems to me that the individuals engaging in this activity are doing so voluntarily and all responsibility for the consequences of this action lies at their feet, and therefore ‘society’ has no right to interfere with it. If I’m wrong, show me.

            If you show me how crack cocaine is a dangerous drug, I’m sure I’d agree with you, but that says absolutely nothing about the act of selling it and whether it should be prohibited; ‘should’ invoking morality, not the argument from effect.

            1. Don W profile image81
              Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

              "If the ideology was arrived at, through reason, and taking account truths and laws of this world, only a scenario that defied these laws of physics  and truths could violate the ideology."

              The "truths and laws of this world" are changing as we discover more about the world through scientific study. Newton's laws advanced to the theory of relativity. General relativity advanced to quantum mechanics etc. So an ideology based on the "truths and laws of this world" is itself subject to change. It's applicability is subject to change, as our knowledge about the world changes. To suggest otherwise defies reason.

              "I believe only an adult carrying full mental faculties can make a moral or immoral action as they have the required ability to choose. It’s not a caveat because the choices made by children do not meet the definition. I only conceded that it was a caveat to move the argument along, which on hindsight, was a mistake, as I see now that it is central to my point."

              Are you suggesting children cannot be the subject of aggression because they are not moral agents? That implies they have no self-ownership, as self-ownership would mean they could be subject to aggression. If they have no self-ownership then, according to Libertarianism, they can be owned. Are you suggesting that children and mentally disabled people are property?

              "If this person was intentionally walking into traffic, to stop him would be committing an act of aggression."

              The child sees her toy in the road. She sets out to retrieve it by intentionally walking into the road. Is using physical force to stop the child entering the road an act of aggression or not?

              "More context? If the individual making the choice is being coerced, e.g. “Rape this woman, or we kill 5 million people”, the question doesn’t apply, because morality can only apply to actions when the individual has a real choice (not a proviso: it doesn't meet the definition). If you’re talking about a ‘Dark Knight’ scenario, where the lives of innocent people are weighed up against criminals, it still doesn’t apply. The Joker, by forcing these people into the situation through threat of violence, is the immoral player."

              The context is that the individual has to make a choice between killing 1 individual who is (unknowingly) carrying a deadly virus, or allowing them to live causing the deaths of 5 million people. What is the morally correct course of action? In this scenario allowing the deaths of 5 million people would the "right" course of action according to Libertarianism. That's why I believe Libertarianism is unethical. It requires the blind adherence to a moral principle, regardless of the outcome.

              "The argument that one has a right to life is a libertarian viewpoint - it is part of the definition of ‘liberty’, that assumes one has a right to one’s self. . . ."

              I understand that. I am asserting that Libertarianism is unnecessary for adopting the view that people have a right to life.

              "One can not simultaneously hold the view that one has a right to self and that government/society grants the right to liberty (self)."

              False dichotomy. It is not a choice between someone having a right to self, and society granting the right to self. Not allowing anyone to do anything they want (within the confines of Libertarianism) is not a restriction of their self-ownership. It is simply a condition of living within a specific environment, i.e. a modern, civilised society. In the same way not being able to swim in the sea every morning is not a restriction of someone's self ownership, but a condition of living far from the sea. 

              "We’ve agreed that one arrives at the conclusion that one has a right to one’s self/right to life from reason alone. But think about what you are saying later : that the right to liberty/self exists amongst ‘agreed’ parameters."

              Freedom of choice is affected by many different things, none of which may be a violation of the right to self. Within civilised society, liberty is tempered by concessions. That is one of the conditions of existence for human beings who live within modern, civilised societies.

              "Presumably, in your society, it is possible that there may be an ‘agreement’ that the right to liberty must disappear"

              "My" society the one I live in. I don't have a fantasy society that exists only in my mind. I leave that for Libertarians. I just think people (in current society) should be less entrenched in ideology, and more interested in doing things that work, less things that don't. Would people in current society vote democracy out of existence. I think it's practically possible, but the likelihood remote.

              "If you agree that one has a right to life, you’re arguing that it exists, regardless of agreement, as explained above. One has the right to one’s self. "

              Non sequitur. A right to do anything with one's own property etc., does not necessarily follow on from a right to one's self.

              "Being forced by gunpoint to abandon one’s home for wanting to engage in a non-aggressive action cannot be considered a ‘free’ action. And consider that the US government, for instance, still claims ownership over expatriates’ property in the form of expatriation taxes, that nullify any financial incentive to leave in the first place. How this can be considered a viable alternative, or proof of the voluntary ‘social contract’ astounds me."

              If you or anyone else does not like the society they are currently living in, they are free to sell up everything they have and go to live in a type of society they prefer. People in developed countries do exactly that when they emigrate to developed countries. No reason 'Libertarians' can't do the same thing. That's part of your 'right to self'. Whether you exercise that right is your choice. It may be a difficult choice, but it is a choice nonetheless.

              "Empirical evidence disproves the non-aggression principle? This is news to me - I’d be glad to see these studies that have proven that putting people in prison for a completely non-aggressive act is a moral decision."

              Libertarians are asserting that libertarianism is preferable to other political ideologies. So the burden of proof is on you. Prove your political ideology is preferable to others with objectively verified information.

              "If you show me how crack cocaine is a dangerous drug, I’m sure I’d agree with you, but that says absolutely nothing about the act of selling it and whether it should be prohibited; ‘should’ invoking morality, not the argument from effect."

              I think it's a matter of, does it resolve the problem in a way that sits within the agreed goals and parameters of society? If it does, then it 'should' happen. If some people don't like the agreed goals and parameters of society, they are free to try to change them using whatever group decision making process that society uses. Simply using moral absolutes can conversely lead to unethical actions.

              1. innersmiff profile image77
                innersmiffposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                “The "truths and laws of this world" are changing as we discover more about the world through scientific study . . . So an ideology based on the "truths and laws of this world" is itself subject to change. It's applicability is subject to change, as our knowledge about the world changes. To suggest otherwise defies reason.”

                As I said before, I’m open to a change in ideology if I am presented with the evidence to prove that principles are incorrect. I won’t be persuaded, however, by specific scenarios that don’t change definitions. Prohibition is immoral regardless of any recent tragedy. There are issues that bring up some grey area, for example, abortion: abortion could be considered a violation of the child’s right-to-self, but banning abortion would violate the mother’s rights too, and situations involving children (I’ll get to that in a minute), and can be worked out. I don’t have any qualms about declaring prohibition as immoral though. In every single scenario, according to the definition, it violates property rights.

                “Are you suggesting children cannot be the subject of aggression because they are not moral agents? That implies they have no self-ownership, as self-ownership would mean they could be subject to aggression. If they have no self-ownership then, according to Libertarianism, they can be owned. Are you suggesting that children and mentally disabled people are property?”

                Obviously they can be subject to aggression, presuming they’d rather live than be killed, rather not be abused, etc. But are they owned? I think a more accurate description would be ‘guardianship’. The parents make what they deem appropriate decisions on behalf of their children, as carers of mental patients do too. They have many of the same rights as mentally capable adults but can not be considered absolutely morally equivalent.

                “The child sees her toy in the road. She sets out to retrieve it by intentionally walking into the road. Is using physical force to stop the child entering the road an act of aggression or not?”

                No it’s not, because presumably the child didn’t want to be hit by a car, yet was not aware of the dangers.

                “The context is that the individual has to make a choice between killing 1 individual who is (unknowingly) carrying a deadly virus, or allowing them to live causing the deaths of 5 million people. What is the morally correct course of action? In this scenario allowing the deaths of 5 million people would the "right" course of action according to Libertarianism. That's why I believe Libertarianism is unethical. It requires the blind adherence to a moral principle, regardless of the outcome.”

                It would have to be proven without a shadow of a doubt that the individual would cause almost instantaneous death to 5 million people and that the only course of action to prevent this outcome possible is to murder that individual. Then, I’m sure most people would kill him. It is, in a sense, self-defense, which is perfectly in keeping with liberty.

                “I understand that. I am asserting that Libertarianism is unnecessary for adopting the view that people have a right to life.”

                That’s fair enough. But that view is a libertarian viewpoint whether you like it or not.

                “False dichotomy. It is not a choice between someone having a right to self, and society granting the right to self.”

                You are declaring this dichotomy by arguing that one has the right to self, but claiming that this right exists amongst ‘agreed parameters’. The latter suggests that the right exists due to consensus,  where before you agreed that it exists due to reason alone. These statements cannot be simultaneously true.

                “Not allowing anyone to do anything they want (within the confines of Libertarianism) is not a restriction of their self-ownership. . . .A right to do anything with one's own property etc., does not necessarily follow on from a right to one's self.”

                You are effectively denying property rights, for if there exists a power to restrict what one does on/with their property, the right is non-existent. So let’s break it down: assuming that one has a right to one’s self, we have to assume that one has the right to the product of that self, since that product is their sole responsibility. One’s product is the extension of one’s self, since the product could not exist without the self. I am responding to your argument, under the mutual assumption that you are responsible for what you say. Nobody else made that argument, so I’m responding to you. For if I were to deny that, I would be denying your existence. Your argument would simply be 'that' argument, existing in the collective ether.  In the same way nobody else can lay claim to your argument, nobody else can lay claim to your property by claiming the right to restrict your actions with/on that property. Denying the right to one’s property is the denial of right to self .

                “It is simply a condition of living within a specific environment, i.e. a modern, civilised society. In the same way not being able to swim in the sea every morning is not a restriction of someone's self ownership, but a condition of living far from the sea.”

                Seriously? Apple and Oranges - No, not even that - Apples and Orangutans. Prohibition is not a natural circumstance like one’s proximity to the sea. This ‘modern, civilised society’ is violently laying claim to property that it does not own - a right to one’s property that would be unfettered otherwise.

                “Would people in current society vote democracy out of existence. I think it's practically possible, but the likelihood remote.”

                I’m not especially interested in democracy, but if it is practically possible for society to vote liberty out of existence, the right to liberty can not be said to exist at all. The likelihood of it happening is not the point - it is the principle. We who like to hold to moral principle observe the tendency of prohibitors to argue, when their interventions go wrong, that they didn’t go far enough (a notable exception being the prohibition of alcohol, seeing as the destructive consequences of it were so close to home) and propose increasingly more draconian legislation. This is the ‘totalitarian tiptoe’ that has undone formerly free societies without the majority of citizenry noticing until it’s too late. This is the practical reason for being ‘entrenched’ in the non-aggression principle. Once a society has violated it, they have set a precedent. There is not compelling evidence to suggest that banning large clip sizes will make a significant dent in the amount of school shootings, if at all, and when legislators realise this, the most likely response will be to propose even stricter prohibition, and so on and so forth.

                “If you or anyone else does not like the society they are currently living in, they are free to sell up everything they have and go to live in a type of society they prefer. People in developed countries do exactly that when they emigrate to developed countries. No reason 'Libertarians' can't do the same thing. That's part of your 'right to self'. Whether you exercise that right is your choice. It may be a difficult choice, but it is a choice nonetheless.”

                Again, it’s not a difficult choice made by circumstance, but by violent monopoly. Individuals do not choose to be born under the government; neither do they choose to be subject to taxes once they’ve left the country. It is then an outside agency laying claim to one’s property.  It’s a ‘choice’ only for the richest of individuals. It’s not the same as being obliged to follow the health and safety rules of a private building, for instance, as the individual has entered the building voluntarily, and the landlord justly owns the building. Government, or ‘civilised society’, as you like to call it (not-so subtly implying that free societies are raging wildernesses with no law and order), is like somebody coming into your house with a gun, eating your food and sleeping in your bed, but claiming that you are still free because you have the right to move to a different house.

                “Libertarians are asserting that libertarianism is preferable to other political ideologies. So the burden of proof is on you. Prove your political ideology is preferable to others with objectively verified information.”

                I’m not the one claiming to be able to prove libertarianism through empirical evidence, you’re the one claiming to be able to disprove it. Liberty is arrived at through reason, not empiricism.

                “I think it's a matter of, does it resolve the problem in a way that sits within the agreed goals and parameters of society? If it does, then it 'should' happen. If some people don't like the agreed goals and parameters of society, they are free to try to change them using whatever group decision making process that society uses. Simply using moral absolutes can conversely lead to unethical actions.”

                Just as circumstance can be impossible to predict, what ‘agreed goals and parameters’ might be in the future are uncertain also. What if, in the future, the ‘agreed goals and parameters’ say that slavery, since it was so profitable for many people, should be legal? Do you not think there are some things that should be beyond democracy? It’s intellectual sloth to dismiss it because ‘it’s unlikely’. Is it unethical to enforce the universal rule that slavery is wrong?

                1. EmpressFelicity profile image83
                  EmpressFelicityposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  This is precisely what I was trying to say further up the page. It's the big problem I have with concepts like "the greater good" or "agreed goals and parameters". As a specific example I can see any Western government of today saying "well, our 'agreed goal and parameter' is to eradicate terrorism, so let's introduce a new law that says we can imprison any suspected terrorist indefinitely without trial and without recourse to legal defence."

                  Oh no, wait. I gather that new law has been introduced already. At least it has in the US:

                  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree … an-liberty

                  1. innersmiff profile image77
                    innersmiffposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    +1

                    A former constitutional and civil rights lawyer breaks down specific passages in NDAA, explaining how the vagueness of language is ripe for abuse:
                    http://www.salon.com/2011/12/16/three_m … tion_bill/

                2. Don W profile image81
                  Don Wposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  "As I said before, I’m open to a change in ideology if I am presented with the evidence to prove that principles are incorrect.  I won’t be persuaded, however, by specific scenarios that don’t change definitions."

                  It's those scenarios that test the applicability of your ideal. Abortion is one example. You say that can be "worked out". How? You said "Caveats and provisos can’t be part of morality, because part of the definition is ‘universal’", yet there are "grey areas". Doesn't sound very 'universal'.

                  "Obviously they can be subject to aggression, presuming they’d rather live than be killed, rather not be abused, etc."

                  So I repeat do children have self-ownership or not? If so, then the 'universal' non-aggression principle (NAP) is applicable. The definition of NAP is: "any unsolicited actions of others that physically affect an individual’s property or person, no matter if the result of those actions is damaging, beneficial, or neutral to the owner. . ." So if children have self-ownership, then prohibiting their free will is immoral, therefore stopping them from entering a road when they want to is also immoral according to NAP.

                  "But are they owned? I think a more accurate description would be ‘guardianship’."

                  That's a fudge. Again, do they have self-ownership or not? If they don't then they are property. If they do then it is immoral to prohibit them as per NAP above.

                  "The parents make what they deem appropriate decisions on behalf of their children, as carers of mental patients do too."

                  That suggests children do not have self-ownership. Again, do children have self ownership or don't they?

                  "No it’s not, because presumably the child didn't want to be hit by a car, yet was not aware of the dangers."

                  So according to libertarianism if a child is aware of the danger, a parent should not stop them running into the road as that would be immoral?

                  "It would have to be proven without a shadow of a doubt that the individual would cause almost instantaneous death to 5 million people and that the only course of action to prevent this outcome possible is to murder that individual. Then, I'm sure most people would kill him. It is, in a sense, self-defence, which is perfectly in keeping with liberty."

                  What do you mean "in a sense" self defence? Either it's self defence or it isn't. And what if you were personally immune to the virus. How would it be self defence if you were not personally in any danger?

                  "You are declaring this dichotomy by arguing that one has the right to self, but claiming that this right exists amongst ‘agreed parameters’."

                  'Rights' are conceptual. They have no existence outside the human mind, and human society. A wild lion does not have a duty not to kill you, and you have no right to not be killed by it. There are no 'rights' in nature, only survival or death. Likewise human beings have no more inherent right to live than a bird, or tree, or any other biological organism. Therefore there is no contradiction in suggesting rights are dependent on agreement and recognition, because 'rights' have no practical value without agreement and recognition.

                  "The latter suggests that the right exists due to consensus,  where before you agreed that it exists due to reason alone."

                  Rights exist due to the human mind's ability to conceptualise, but only have practical value if they are agreed and recognised.

                  "You are effectively denying property rights, for if there exists a power to restrict what one does on/with their property, the right is non-existent."

                  'Property rights' are another artificial construct which requires agreement within human society to be meaningful. In nature 'property' is anything you are able to take or prevent being taken by force. Your relationship to the thing is irrelevant. You have no intrinsic 'right' to anything. Only through agreement and recognition does the concept of "property rights" gain practical value.

                  "So let’s break it down: assuming that one has a right to one’s self . . ."

                  Why assume that?

                  "In the same way nobody else can lay claim to your argument, nobody else can lay claim to your property by claiming the right to restrict your actions with/on that property."

                  Anyone can lay claim to my argument, and anyone can lay claim to my "property". There is nothing stopping anyone from doing that except the recognition and agreement of certain concepts within human society. Those concepts include rights, morals, traditions, mores, conventions etc. None of them have any intrinsic practical value. They only have value within the context of human society.

                  "Denying the right to one’s property is the denial of right to self ."

                  What's the self? Prove it exists. If it does where is it found?

                  "Prohibition is not a natural circumstance like one’s proximity to the sea. This ‘modern, civilised society’ is violently laying claim to property that it does not own - a right to one’s property that would be unfettered otherwise."

                  Your "right to property" would not be "unfettered" outside of society. It would not exist outside of society. Try explaining your right to property to a hungry wild animal. As I said, outside of society "property" is whatever you can take, and keep by force. Prohibition is a natural circumstance of existence, and a necessary circumstance of society.

                  "I’m not especially interested in democracy, but if it is practically possible for society to vote liberty out of existence, the right to liberty can not be said to exist at all. "

                  Again, the right to liberty is a human construct. Human beings have no intrinsic  "right to liberty".  The existence of such a "right" depends purely on the human mind, and its usefulness depends purely on the agreement of those within society. Outside the mind it has no existence. Outside society it has no use.

                  "This is the ‘totalitarian tiptoe’ that has undone formerly free societies without the majority of citizenry noticing until it’s too late."

                  Slippery slope argument.

                  "Again, it’s not a difficult choice made by circumstance . . .  Individuals do not choose to be born under the government;"

                  Individuals do not choose to be born under the government no, so choosing to stay in that situation or remove yourself from it is in fact a difficult choice caused by the circumstances of your birth. As for expatriate taxes. There are ways around that, if you know what you're doing.

                  "Just as circumstance can be impossible to predict, what ‘agreed goals and parameters’ might be in the future are uncertain also. What if, in the future, the ‘agreed goals and parameters’ say that slavery, since it was so profitable for many people, should be legal?"

                  You are mistakenly assuming those agreed goals and parameters will somehow be set in isolation, and take no account of historical, social, cultural factors. That's not possible. You are also mistakenly assuming such goals and parameters can be set in isolation from the world community and any geopolitical ramifications. Again that's not possible. And lastly you are assuming such goals and parameters can be made in isolation from the general populace rather than in conjunction with the general populace. Again that is not possible.

                  "Do you not think there are some things that should be beyond democracy? It’s intellectual sloth to dismiss it because ‘it’s unlikely’."

                  No, but available historical evidence, and current events tell us that societal goals cannot be made without reference to the historicity of previous events, the attitude and actions of the world community, and the opinions of a general populace. Slavery has been abolished in every developed country, none of which had libertarianism as their political ideology (no country has ever adopted libertarianism as its main political ideology).

                  "Is it unethical to enforce the universal rule that slavery is wrong?"

                  It's unethical, unreasonable and irresponsible to blindly follow a single ideology regardless of circumstances, despite no evidence that said ideology has any practical value.

                  1. innersmiff profile image77
                    innersmiffposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    Admitting that we don’t know how a principle applies to a certain situation does not disprove its universality. The principle is still true - we just need to figure out which action to take. I admit I don’t know how the best method of punishment and rehabilitation, for instance, but I do know that whatever method chosen must adhere to the non-aggression principle. That may seem like entrenchment to you, but our definition of ‘best idea’ needs to come from somewhere, and I believe an ideology is necessary to formulate it. Then, the only difference between our views is that you believe the best ideas are formulated by consensus, whereas I believe the best ideas, like science, are beyond consensus. 1 + 1 exists only in a conceptual framework, but within that framework, 1 + 1 has to equal 2. We can all recognize that it does, but we cannot, through consensus, say that 1 + 1 = 3. It simply isn’t true.

                    Self-ownership is similarly non-debatable. Why assume that? Well, I thought we already agreed that self-ownership is arrived at through reason, and I was moving on from there to save having to write a proof of natural rights. You asked me to explain how property rights can be assumed from right to self - I did. Now you’re asking me to prove right to self. Maybe you should have started with the anti-natural rights argument.

                    In the debate as it stands, the existence or non-existence of natural rights is a non-sequiter. Either natural rights, including the right to self, exist, and society recognises it so, or they are conceptual constructs that society recognizes as true. The key point is if the right to self-ownership is recognised by the society, it can not then say that the right to property does not exist. It is a contradiction.

                    You said yourself that Nazism was based on pseudo-science. But there is nothing to say your ideal society would not adopt Nazism anyway, despite its contradictions. There is no protection against pseudo-science. And it is, by your declaration of ‘society’s’ right to fetter individuals’ self and property, even more possible for society to adopt Nazism. Libertarian societies, by their declaration of right to self and property, could never produce Nazism. There is one practical reason for Liberty right there. You say your society is too rational and would encompass history and science, etc, but I consider this wishful thinking. You underestimate ‘society’s’ ability to make the wrong decision anyway, despite access to historical, societal, cultural factors, geopolitical ramifications, and its conjunction with the general populace. Popular opinion can be shaped, distorted - so can history. But libertarians do not believe Nazism is wrong because it is unscientific. It is wrong because it is murderous. For what is the ultimate goal here? What could possibly be worse than the systematic extermination of millions of innocent people? Or should we keep that option open ‘just in case’?

                    “Do children have self ownership? . . .  So if children have self-ownership, then prohibiting their free will is immoral, therefore stopping them from entering a road when they want to is also immoral according to NAP.”

                    The issue not whether cases involving children invalidate the non-aggression principle, but whether the NAP applies to all situations involving children. The only beings that can be said to apply to everything are those that possess all the required faculties, and children do not. But clearly, their right to self has to be respected, even if they don’t hold all the same rights as adults. There’s a nuance, yet it doesn’t invalidate the NAP in the slightest.

                    The key part of the NAP definition is ‘unsolicited’, ‘intention’ being key to understanding it. Only if the person was attempting to commit suicide /intentionally hurt themselves would preventing them from walking into the road be a violation of the non-aggression principle. I think you’re clutching at straws.

                    “What do you mean "in a sense" self defence? Either it's self defence or it isn't. And what if you were personally immune to the virus. How would it be self defence if you were not personally in any danger?”

                    Defense of others is completely in keeping with NAP too.

                    “"This is the ‘totalitarian tiptoe’ that has undone formerly free societies without the majority of citizenry noticing until it’s too late."

                    Slippery slope argument.”

                    It recongises a very real phenomenon that occurs when ideologies with inherent contradictions are applied, taking into account history (societies that violate NAP almost always end up becoming totalitarian governments) and post-rationalisation (to accept one’s policy was wrong is less desirable than arguing that it didn’t go far enough).

                    Your “prohibition as natural circumstance” argument denies free will and culpability. Prohibition specifically defines individuals or groups who restrict the ownership of certain goods by force. Not being able to acquire a cow because you can not find one is not prohibition - having your cow taken away from you by force is. There is a key difference: the only morally culpable party, and in turn the only party that ‘society’ has domain over, is the individual who takes the cow by force.

                    The government, similarly, is not a natural circumstance. The government is a group choosing to claim ownership over one’s life and property. Presumably, they can choose not to. The “ways around that” do not deny the inherently violent nature of this set up.

                    “Slavery has been abolished in every developed country, none of which had libertarianism as their political ideology (no country has ever adopted libertarianism as its main political ideology).”

                    All of these countries banned slavery on the basis that every human has a right to their self, which is a libertarian axiom. Whether these countries went ahead and applied ‘right to self’ properly is another thing altogether. But, it wasn’t for some practical reason that slavery was abolished: as I’ve intimated before, the ‘argument from effect’ from slavery proponents was that slavery was an efficient way of picking cotton that provided economic growth and cheap products for the majority. Civil libertarians said: “well, we don’t really care about that because slavery is wrong”. Is slavery wrong or not?

  6. swordsbane profile image59
    swordsbaneposted 4 years ago

    All I know about what works in politics is that what we have now doesn't.  If you are going into surgery, you want the surgeon with the best track record for success in cutting people open and saving their lives.  When you're looking for a plumber, you look for the best plumber.  When your house burns down, you want someone from the fire department who will do their job regardless of their personal feelings or even concern for their lives.

    but when it comes to politics, we listen only to what the candidate says, and not what any objective observer says, we pick the one who's popular over the one who does his job and doesn't care what people think of him.  We pick the one that suits our own personal agenda over the one who has the interests of everyone in mind.

    A doctor becomes a doctor because he is trained, psychologically screened and demonstrates skill and commitment.  A fireman becomes a fireman using the same process.  The same with a policeman, engineer, even an EMT.  A politician becomes a politician because he gets people to like him.  He can literally kill or save dozens, thousands, even millions of people with the stroke of a pen.... and he gets his job because of a process less professional than Dancing with the Stars.

    Does anyone else see a problem with this?

    1. profile image61
      retief2000posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      The Nazis provided a very orderly government - please keep mine messy.

      1. swordsbane profile image59
        swordsbaneposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Godwins Law: you lose smile

        And the Nazi's problem was not with their ordered government.  It was with what they did with it.

        And I don't want an ordered government.  I want competent people in government, and I don't want a popularity contest favoring the incompetent people.  The Constitution protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority.  It does so because the Bill of Rights says that some things are true even if most of the people believe that they aren't true.  The concept of majority rules is NOT a fundamental of our government nor is it widely accepted as a good idea, so why do we accept it when we're choosing our leaders?

        1. profile image61
          retief2000posted 4 years ago in reply to this

          Elected officials are little more than the reflection of those who elected them.  If our concern is that our elected representatives and officials are corrupt, incompetent and self serving than it is because we have become corrupt, incompetent and self serving. 

          Isn't that part of the contemporary conflict over budgetary and policy priorities?  In the United States and the Eurozone the conflict is between those who believe that the purpose of government is to transfer property from those who earned it to those who did not and those who resent the confiscation and transfer of their property.

          A people gets the government it deserves.  It is evident that the government we have is the one we have created, and continue to maintain for ourselves, by remaining lazy, greedy, ignorant, resentful...etc and demanding that government solve our individual, personal failings.

          Inevitably an elective system that confuses democracy with republicanism and expands its hold on government courts the rule of men over the rule of law.  The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are not hallmarks of democracy but rather of republicanism.

          -------That is the first I have heard of Godwin's Law and I will keep that in mind in the future, after all the Swiss run a rather efficient and tidy government, but there aren't very many of them in that tiny country.

          1. swordsbane profile image59
            swordsbaneposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            The government we "deserve" is the best one we can get.  That doesn't necessarily point to any one process for getting that government.  On the other hand, if you had people "voting" for doctors, you'd get pretty shitty doctors.  Is the right politician and less important than the right doctor?

            It doesn't matter what you call our system of government.  It has aspects of democracy and aspects of a republic.  Labels don't concern me, and they shouldn't concern you.  Concern yourself with what works and what preserves our freedoms.  We cling to our electoral system because we believe it is fair and it gets us the best people for the job.  Neither is true.  We say that it is our RIGHT to vote, yet we say nothing of the responsibility that goes along with it.  Those that take their responsibility seriously are outnumbered by those who don't, and those who contribute to the decay of the government insist that it is their right to continue to do so, and those in power continue to encourage them to do just that.

            How is this system not broken?

            1. profile image61
              retief2000posted 4 years ago in reply to this

              Not to prove Godwin's Law ( or any corollary there of) but were Nazism, Fascism, Communism broken systems or were they the product of the societies from which they emerged?  The system is not broken it is "the people" that is broken.  Society is not a machine merely requiring tinkering, fine tuning or replacement parts to function well but rather an organism composed of billions of cells each with its own program, goals, purposes and life expectancy.  The body of American society is ill and the government merely reflects this.  It is ill because it has accepted the false idea that reality is malleable, not identifiable, objective and immutable.  It is ill because it has rejected the idea that there is a real right and wrong, that some choices harm society and civilization and some advance them.

              1. swordsbane profile image59
                swordsbaneposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                A broken system is one which works exactly the way it's supposed to, yet the results are bad and getting worse.  This system has gotten so bad it perpetuates it's own bad results.  The people vote the wrong way, and the people they vote in make sure that the people continue to vote the wrong way.  The flaw in voting is that it screens for popularity, not competence.  There is no mechanism in place to encourage responsible voting.  It is merely assumed that everyone will not only think critically about their choice but also has the skill and foresight to do so successfully, despite ample evidence that this is, in fact not the case.  If, by some miracle exactly the right people were voted in in the next election, if the voting system is not fixed, it still tends towards corruption, because it is easier for those people to get elected than someone competent who wants to do a good job.

                The system itself encourages the wrong people to get elected and discourages the right people.  That's a broken system.  Using your analogy of an organism, the voting process is like your immune system.  Whatever is wrong with the body, the voting process is supposed to fix it by selecting the right leadership.  It is not supposed to chose the right sickness to hit you with.  It's supposed to remove sickness altogether.

                Nazism failed because it was inherently unstable.  It accepted as true something that was not true, and it couldn't function the right way.  Fascism fails because it relies on the conscience of one person or a very small group.  Communism fails because it caters to the lowest common denominator, and is even more prone to corruption than our system.  Those are all inherently flawed concepts, not broken systems.

                Our republic itself hasn't failed (although it is headed that way) but parts of the system we assumed were secure have been proven not to be.  The voting system is like the Titanic.  People swear by it and are convinced that no matter what happens, it will prove itself indestructable.  But we've already struck the ice berg.  It is plain as day that if it ever did work, it's not working now and shows no signs of correcting itself.  The same sorts of bad people continue to get elected and there is no reason to believe that it will be any different down the road unless some fundamental changes are made.

  7. innersmiff profile image77
    innersmiffposted 4 years ago

    http://s3.hubimg.com/u/7502558_f248.jpg

    "Far from being immoral, libertarians simply apply a universal human ethic to government in the same way as almost everyone would apply such an ethic to every other person or institution in society. In particular as I have noted earlier, libertarianism as a political philosophy dealing with the proper role of violence takes the universal ethic that most of us hold toward violence and applies it fearlessly to government. Libertarians make no exceptions to the golden rule and provide no moral loophole, no double standard, for government. That is, libertarians believe that murder is murder and does not become sanctified by reasons of State if committed by the government. We believe that theft is theft and does not become legitimated because organized robbers call their theft "taxation." We believe that enslavement is enslavement even if the institution committing that act calls it "conscription." In short, the key to libertarian theory is that it makes no exceptions in its universal ethic for government." - Murray Rothbard.

  8. Charles James profile image85
    Charles Jamesposted 4 years ago

    A leader who has no ideology and no entrenched beliefs swings in the wind. A leader who has clear ideas and clear goals and can persuade others of the wisdom of his /her policies is more likely to succeed. Having an ideology is necessary.

    "Entrenched" in an ideology suggests that long after circumstances in the real world have changed the leader is trapped by his ideology and simply cannot see outside it.

    Someone who thinks they have no ideology has an ideology but fails to recognise the fact.

    I have an ideology but fortunately my ideology is right and sensible.

 
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