Sunday, January 30, 2005

War and the Fantasy of Protection

A few days ago, I was at lunch with a colleague, an ex-military man, and the talk got to politics. I mentioned that the government was never going to voluntarily shrink in size; it would only collapse in on itself through bankruptcy. He said that he had a lot of respect for Paul Martin, Canada’s Prime Minister, because Martin made some progress tackling the budget deficit in the 1990s. “I was very relieved,” he said, “because all our training in those days centered on containing civil revolt.”

I was, despite my two-decades long investigation into the nature of the State, shocked. I asked him what he meant. “Oh,” he shrugged, “the government was expecting a revolt, so we were all being trained to contain that. They really thought they were going to run out of money, so they wanted us ready to deploy just in case Canadians got real pissed off at them.”

I found that fascinating. And revealing, of course. As the Canadian government was trying to rein in its debt, it was also training its military to turn their guns on Canadians, just in case that didn’t work. Or in case it did work, but the Canadian people didn’t like the effects. No welfare checks. No old age pensions. That would be a recipe for revolution.

It is entirely to be expected, of course. Governments protect their own interests, not those of their citizens. However, it does illuminate an interesting point, which is that – despite the evidence of the 20th century – people still believe that governments exist to protect their citizens. It is an interesting – and eminently testable – theory. To put it to the test, let’s look at some of these State ‘protections’ throughout history. If State power exists to protect citizens, then State power should rise and fall relative to the threats those citizens face. If I say that my dentist drills my teeth because they have cavities, then obviously he should drill less – or not at all – if they don’t have cavities.

The first and gravest danger to a citizen is war. It is governments, of course, that always start wars, but those governments always say that they are protecting citizens from the aggression of other governments. In other words, other governments are bad, therefore war cannot be avoided – and so we must be partially enslaved by our own governments to protect us from these inevitable wars.

This premise is easily testable. If governments exist to protect their citizens from other governments, then as a particular country becomes more secure, its military should shrink in size. So, for instance, after the fall of the Soviet Union, European and NATO military budgets should have been reduced. Furthermore, a country like Switzerland, buried deep in the middle of fractious Europe, should have a military budget far higher than that of America, which has oceans to either side and friendly neighbours to the north and south. Or Japan, for instance, should have been a peaceful country throughout its history, since it is largely immune from invasion. The same goes for England.

Clearly, even the most cursory examination of history shows that no correlation can be made between a country’s security and its military spending. Since there is no relationship between military budgets and external threats, there can be no causality between the two. Thus governments do not have a military in order to protect their citizens from external enemies. The military must exist for some other reason.

Ah, perhaps you say, the Soviet Union has fallen, but what about the threat from Muslim countries? Well, that is also interesting. If our government exists to protect us from other governments, then our government should never sell arms to other governments. If policemen exist to protect us from criminals, then policemen should refrain from arming those criminals, right? A doctor cannot make people sick and then justify his income based on the fact that people are sick. Our leaders cannot use our money in order to arm other governments, while simultaneously claiming that they must take our money because other governments are dangerous.

This is usually countered by stating that only certain other governments are a threat. In other words, our leaders know how dangerous other governments are – both now and into the distant future – and are able only to arm those who will never harm their own citizens. Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Enough said. This position fails, since our leaders regularly arm those who turn out to be enemies.

There is one other argument that needs to be examined, which is whether leaders value their citizens’ safety more than citizens value their own safety.

Imagine a State that passes laws forcing its citizens to perform healthy actions such as exercising and eating well. Obviously, the implicit premise behind such laws is that the State cares more for its citizens’ health than they do. In order to justify this exercise of violence, we must accept that health is the greatest good, and that the State cares more for citizens’ health than the citizens do themselves – and that only State violence can achieve health.

However, no part of this argument is sustainable. Health is not the greatest good; if it were, then chocolate, potato chips, cars, skydiving, children and cigarettes would not exist. The greatest good, of course, is happiness, and sometimes health is sacrificed to that end – as we all know on occasion when we succumb to the dessert tray.

However, even if health were the greatest good, there is no guarantee that violence would be able to ensure it. At the most basic level, the stress of both inflicting and being subject to violence would probably eradicate any health benefits from exercise and better eating. And since health is not the greatest value, people would naturally try to avoid the violent infliction of healthy habits by trying to join those categories of people immune from such compulsion, those with sports injuries, depression, pregnancies, weak bones, diabetes, essential jobs etc. Doctors would be bribed to supply documentation for such excuses, lobby groups would grow to create exceptions, fake health clubs would hand out fake ‘exercise certificates’, and everyone’s behaviour would change to avoid the compulsions of the State.

Health cannot be achieved by violence, because happiness is the greatest good, and violence cannot achieve or maintain happiness either. (Save self-defense, which of course is not violence; it has the same relationship to violence that surgery has to a random stabbing; surgery aims to maintain health at the cost of short-term injury; self-defense aims to maintain happiness at the cost of short-term stress.)

However, to put the final nail in the coffin, let’s take the most extreme example, and imagine that health is the greatest good, and only violence can achieve it. If this is the case, there is absolutely no reason why only those in the State should be able to employ violence for this end. This is not an unprecedented premise. This is obviously the case in realm of self-defense, since a citizen can protect himself or his property without punishment. Thus if health is the highest value, and threatening people is the only way to help them maintain their health, then we should all be able to do it. I should be able to burst into my neighbour’s house and force him to drop his doughnut.

Let us take the lessons learned from this metaphor of health and return to the question of defense. Protection from violence is not the greatest good, and also cannot be achieved by violence, since violence is in itself a violation of protection. If I say that I must rob you in order to protect you, then I am immediately violating the very protection that I am claiming to offer.

However, if we accept that those in the State should be able to steal money from us in order to defend us, then everyone should be able to do so. If my neighbour does not buy a home-alarm system, then I should be able to go over there and force him to order one at gunpoint. In fact, the home-alarm company should be able to do the same thing. Obviously we would dislike that, since the conflict of interest would be obvious – just as it is with the State stealing money and providing services. So if you have a problem with the home-alarm company forcing people to buy its products, then the State can’t do it either, since both are just social organizations populated by people, who are all subject to the same moral laws and misgivings.

Finally, we come to the most important question: even if we accept that the State should protect its citizens, does the State leader care more for his citizens’ lives than they do?

None of us want to die, or be enslaved. Therefore we will take all the steps necessary to protect our lives and property. If someone demands that we give up this responsibility to him, it would only be a rational course of action if that person cares more for our lives and property than we do ourselves.

Let’s call the leader of our country Bob. If Bob cares more for our lives than we do – a position many parents hold with their children – then obviously he would be the first to sacrifice himself for us in times of war, just as parents often sacrifice their own interests for the sake of their children. In the realm of politics and war, this is obviously never the case, since leaders are never the first to die on the battlefield.

If Bob cares more for us than we do, he will be no less likely to wage war if he himself is threatened. Thus the proliferation of nuclear weapons should not have slowed down the rate of war between nations which possess them. Throughout history, certain countries have declared war on each other with depressing regularity. However, since the rise of nuclear weapons, not one single nuclear power has ever declared war on any other nuclear power. What has changed? The number of dead? Of course not – the First and Second World Wars killed tens of millions of people, and more people died in the conventional bombing of Tokyo than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It is not the scale of the suffering that has increased. Is it the long-term after-effects of nuclear weapons? That seems hard to fathom, since conventional weapons leave in their wake firestorms, plagues, lack of water and sanitation, landmines, pockets of mustard gas, poisons and other long-term after-effects detrimental to human life.

No, the only significant difference between conventional and nuclear weapons is that nuclear weapons threaten the direct and personal interests of political leaders. They can be killed, or their families, relatives and friends can be killed. In other words, the only difference between nuclear and conventional weapons is that the ruling class is threatened by nuclear weapons. (Of course what applies to nuclear weapons also applies to other weapons of mass destruction, which is why rulers speak about them with such horror.)

Thus it is clear that, when Bob’s own life and family would be threatened by war, he is miraculously able to refrain from declaring it. The answer that Bob is afraid of nuclear weapons not because of his own life, but because he wants to protect his country, is nonsense. If that were the case, then Bob would never declare war against other countries that did not possess nuclear weapons, which he tends to do with fair regularity.

To sum up, the idea that governments exist to protect their citizens is pure nonsense – and as long as we continue to believe it, we are in grave danger. Governments will grab at any justification for using violence against us, and defense is the most dangerous justification of all. The predations, robbery and despair of the welfare state is one thing; the murder, destruction and corruption of the military state is quite another. As long as we surrender our freedoms to governments for the sake of protection, those governments will continue to drum up threats against us, in order to further enslave us by ‘protecting’ us from the violence they provoke in the first place.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Morality and Society: A Liberating Elegy

When I was a teenager, and I was exposed to ideas as a simple as ‘taxation is theft’, I swallowed them as easily as a cold beer on a hot day. I devoured the whole world of rationality, objectivism, libertarianism and Austrian economics. I loved the whole system of logical analysis, because it made sense of the world, and gave me a framework for classifying and understanding all of the minutiae of data that come flying at us every day. The world became more than base preference; it became something scientific, clear, organized – and alarming.

For many years – too many, for a man with a scientific bent – I believed that I was like other people. Since I had so easily accepted the reality of certain obvious propositions, I assumed that such radiant truths would illuminate others just as they had illuminated me.

Of course, like all of us, I ran full-tilt into the blank irrationality of my fellow men. I would strive mightily to convince a person of a particular fact, gain their grudging agreement, and then find the next day that they had reversed their position without any reexamination. I was subject to the most bizarre psychological cross-examinations – i.e. what in your past makes you so addicted to these ideas? Well, yes, my mother was mentally ill, but so what? Even if that were my primary motivation, what effect would that have on the truth of my propositions? If a man finds a cure for cancer because it killed his mother, does that mean that his cure is illusory? Would those afflicted by cancer scoff and call his cure nothing more than the obsessive symptom of a psychological ailment?

I was also subjected to the usual ad hominim attacks. I was heartless, cruel, thoughtless, had never suffered myself, wanted their sick relatives to die etc etc blah blah. All just noise, since these attacks never dealt with the rationality of my arguments – thus did the Vatican attack Galileo’s theories for causing people to lose faith. The possible effects of ideas are always irrelevant. Should Einstein have refrained from publication because he feared the creation of nuclear weapons? Bill Gates wants a computer on every desktop – dictators, organized crime and the IRS also have desktops. Should he throw up his hands and close down his company?
I was also visited – if that is the right word – by the most staggering form of indifference. I know that I am intelligent, logical, creative, and a good writer – a combination which is not as common as it should be. Yet as I laboured through my undergraduate degree and graduate studies, I was ignored in a manner that was chilling at the time, but in hindsight was entirely logical. It took me months to find a thesis adviser, who then gave me an ‘A’ without reading my thesis, mostly to stop me from pestering him. I would argue for particular positions in class, and over and over receive a shrug and ‘well, that’s just your opinion.’ I was aghast at the idea that modern academics was all opinion, but of course I shouldn’t have been.

I’d like to share what I have learned since those dark, maddening days, because I think it will be helpful to all my secret friends out there who may be struggling with the same problems.
My particular issue was that I was rational enough to know the truth, but not rational enough to accept the facts. The fact that I was unwilling to swallow – despite ample and daily empirical evidence – is that people are very sick, very crazy, and very corrupt. I now believe that it is too late to save our current society, and we are too early for whatever is to come next. I don’t know how early we are, but I do know that we are too late by over a hundred years.

The simple fact I had such a hard time accepting was that people are just not interested in freedom or rationality. They don’t mind arguing about it as an academic exercise, but they just don’t like to think. They don’t know how to think – but they also don’t know that they don’t know how to think. And that is why I say that it is too late, and we are too early. If you are a doctor with a cure in the middle of a plague, but people don’t even know that they’re sick, what are you to do? Should you run around trying to stuff pills down everyone’s throat? You’d be arrested for assault! That, in a nutshell, is the modern world. People are sick, and we have the cure, but they don’t know they’re sick, so we appear dangerous and incomprehensibly obsessed. The more we insist that they’re sick, the more sick we look to them. There is no way out of this vicious circle.

You can change a mathematician’s mind about a particular equation if you present incontrovertible proof, but you can’t in any way even affect the mind someone who doesn’t believe in numbers. You are just shouting into the wind. You can change a smoker’s mind about smoking if you have convincing proof that puffing away causes cancer. You cannot change a smoker’s mind if he does not believe in medicine, cancer, health, his lungs, or even the existence of his cigarette – because, in this case, there is no mind to change.

This is perhaps a rather chilling realization, but it should come as no surprise to us logicians. Logical argument has no effect on people who do not believe in – or submit to – logic. And logic, like language, is not something that can be developed later in life. The reasons for that are complicated, but mostly have to do with the fact that a man can survive corruption only if he has never corrupted others, and later in life most men have, through their own irrationality, deeply harmed their children, spouses, employees, friends and so on. Once a man harms others, he cannot change, because he becomes the enemy he needs to fight. Moral sickness and mental stagnation is the inevitable price of corrupting others.

I used to place our goal – the development of a moral science – in a historical context; I saw that the physical sciences were doing well, but that the moral sciences were almost non-existent. The moral sciences were, to me, roughly where the physical sciences were during the early Middle Ages.

This was a grave mistake.

The moral sciences are the exact opposite of the physical sciences, because the physical sciences serve State power, while the moral sciences are in direct opposition to that power. During the late Middle Ages, the rise of the physical sciences corresponded with the discovery of the New World. The world had to be accepted as round so that States could sail soldiers off to rape and pillage the New World. This harmed the Church’s infantile cosmology in the short run, but the Church primarily serves the State, and so had to accept it.

As scientific and capitalistic progress swelled to serve State power, the State realized that it was gaining far more by taxing capitalists than it ever did from pillaging serfs. So the State encouraged the growth of the free market and the expansion of the scientific method – both for the increased wealth and better weaponry that capitalism and science produced. Even now, the modern State funds science and allows aspects of the free market to operate.

Since science and the free market served State power, they were allowed. However, the danger of freedoms in commerce and science is that they tend to spread to other areas of thinking. Since it turns out that commerce and science only thrive in the absence of a central tyranny, why wouldn’t society flourish without a central State? The simple moral rationality which would confirm this had to be killed in the crib.

So, over a hundred years ago, the State took over the education of the children.

This was the only step that could be taken. The State needed people to be rational in business and science, but not in morality. So it trained citizens in empty, formalistic, merely pragmatic rationality, but destroyed their ability to understand and integrate moral concepts. To save its own power, it prevented the development of people’s moral rationality – and so their ability to love, be good, be happy, and live lives of any real satisfaction.

In this light, my belief that the moral sciences were where the physical sciences were in the Middle Ages was entirely incorrect. The physical sciences were encouraged because they served the power of the State. Any rational moral science would destroy the State, and rational morality is – and will forever be – the mortal enemy of the State.

It is not paranoid to believe that those in the State act instinctively to protect their own power, since a knowledge of steps necessary to control and exploit others is a deep part of our instinctual apparatus. This is easy to see in the realm of families. Parents who beat or abuse their children are almost never exposed. They do not take special night courses on the steps required to maintain their children’s isolation and silence – it just comes naturally. The steps required are very complicated, but never have to be learned. Another example is that no secret State directive exists ordering teachers to ensure that students cannot think rationally, yet almost no student comes out of State schools with the ability to think. Destroying the natural development of rationality is a complicated process, but it comes so naturally and easily to us.
Simple biology explains this fact. There are only two survival strategies for any organism. Find/produce food, or steal food. Human beings can go either way – we can either be productive, or exploitive. If we are exploitive, it is a far better survival strategy to steal without combat, since we, as parasites, must by definition be far fewer in number than those we prey on. Thus we must steal without war – and for that, the moral subjugation of our prey is required.
As human beings, we have within us both the productive and exploitive instincts, which is why exploiting others is so easy – and the necessary steps so ingrained in our natures.
None of this analysis means that we shall never win. It just means that we are not about to win. We are not even close. The parasites currently run almost everything, and the successes in capitalism and the physical sciences should not blind us to the fact that they are allowed to succeed because they serve the greed of the parasites – and that our theories would unseat them utterly.

So in my view, we are too early. Perhaps a thousand years too early, who knows? But since we claim to be rational thinkers, we must work empirically, from all the evidence of our experiences. We are doomed to be the lonely keepers of a lonely flame, for all our days to come. We shall not prevail against the armed might of the modern State, because its violence has destroyed the concept of rationality in the minds of the vast majority. In the dark illiteracy that rises around us, we must keep the candle of our language alive. Not because we shall prevail in society, but because at this stage in human development, freedom is only possible for isolated individuals. We who are blessed with its bounty should experience all the joys that only we possess, because striving to share freedom only turns us into the slaves of those who hate and fear our gifts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Morality is Honesty: The Science of Ethics

The question ‘what is morality’ has needlessly baffled mankind for centuries, if not millennia. Morality seems to have little root in objective reality; it is usually perceived as a form of localized cultural preferences, along with certain dances, songs and costumes, or as a set of arbitrary rules handed down from some unverifiable but imposing cloud formation.
However, morality is not a subjective preference. It does not require a divine stamp for proof, universality or absolutism. It does not change throughout time. It is, in fact, as constant and absolute as gravity.

Human beings can act in defiance of morality, of course, but that does not make morality any less real or absolute. A man can act in defiance of gravity and try to fly by running off a cliff, but neither his madness nor his fall do anything to disprove the existence of gravity.
The truth of the matter is that morality is a science, a form of honesty, or logical theory which conforms with verifiable and empirical facts of reality. It is predictable, provable and can be identified and propagated without reference to any divine foolishness or cultural preferences. Morality is, in fact, a subset of the scientific method, and it is high time that it was subjected to the same rigour, effectiveness and respect as the rest of science.

The elegance and power of the scientific method is that it is a set of principles for determining truth that accept that physical entities have objective properties – and that laws determined as true for a particular set of entities must be true for all those entities. Furthermore, the scientific method also states that any logical subset of those entities must have specific properties common to all the entity-subset. In more plain English, this means that atoms are matter, and frogs are matter, therefore frogs are composed of atoms. Furthermore, if frogs which live in trees are called tree frogs, then all tree frogs must be frogs which live in trees.

Human beings, of course, have particular properties as well, the most important of which is that man is a rational animal, endowed with free will. Therefore, it is a truism to say that any conceptual property applicable to any particular human being must also be applicable to all human beings. In other words, if I say that human beings have only one head, then I cannot say that an entity with two heads is also human, unless I am willing to change my definition.

Now, since a human being is defined as a rational animal with free will, then it is impossible for anyone to argue that free will is a property of only some humans, but not others. In other words, it cannot be possible for Person A to exercise his free will, while not possible for Person B to exercise hers. Either all human beings can exercise their free will, or none can. Unless compelling and objective physical evidence can be found differentiating human beings into different species – such as those between men and apes – then the truth of reality is that all humans can exercise their free will.

It follows from this that it is a logical contradiction for one person to subject another to violence, to force another to obey under threat of force. If Person A enslaves Person B, then Person A is saying: I am human, and must be free to exercise my free will; this person is also human, but must not be free to exercise his free will.

Since this proposition is a logical contradiction, it can be dismissed as false without further investigation, just as if a biologist defined a mammal as a warm-blooded creature, but then argued that, for five minutes, a single lizard was also a mammal. It is impossible. This biologist might scream this proposition from the rooftops, and take other scientists hostage and force them to sign documents agreeing with him, but that wouldn’t make his proposition any more true.

Taken as a simple science, problems of morality are really not that difficult to solve. Human beings can own property – thus all human beings can own property. If a man steals from another, he posits a contradiction: As a human being, I can own property; as a human being, you cannot. The same goes for all other violent crimes, from rape to murder to assault. It is the creation of a ‘special exception’ rule which utterly contradicts reality. You are a mammal, I am saying, but I want to temporarily classify you as both a human being and something else – and then I want to classify you back as a human being again. Thus I will steal your property from you – and then try to evade you, since I know you will want your property back.
But of course a thief cannot change the physical, biological nature of his victim, who remains as human as he is throughout the encounter. The mammal never becomes the lizard, even for an instant, and so the thief is utterly wrong in what he is doing.

This elemental dishonesty is the essence of immorality. Immorality is acting contrary to reality in a manner that simultaneously denies other people the very right you are asserting. If you stop your car and ask me for directions, and I accidentally give you incorrect information, that is wrong, but not immoral, since I am not exercising my ability to accidentally give incorrect information while simultaneously denying that you have or deserve that ability. If I rape someone, however, I am simultaneously saying that I have the right to free choice, while my victim does not. It is the simultaneous nature of my irrationality that differentiates immorality from just being incorrect.

The reason that simultaneity is the essence of morality is that it is impossible to ignore – and so, since it is being ignored, irrational malevolence must be at its root. A man cannot steal a watch without wanting to own it – and yet as he steals it, he knows that his victim also wants to own it, since he does not simply ask for it directly. Thus he is simultaneously asserting and denying the right to property. Mad irrationality!

However, if I make an honest mistake in giving you directions, I am not simultaneously denying your ability to make an honest mistake – as you have probably done by asking someone as incompetent as me! Thus this is a simple mistake, not a malevolent contradiction.
To take a more commonplace example, we have all met people who are intolerant of mistakes in others, but are very forgiving about their own shortcomings. This is hypocrisy, wherein a double standard is being applied. However wrong this is, it is not immoral, since it does not pass the test of simultaneity. I am not simultaneously criticizing you and forgiving myself, since that is physically impossible. (This is why immorality is only possible in action, not in thought or word.) If I am a biologist, and I categorize a salamander as a mammal, and then as a lizard again, I am not a very competent biologist, but I am not utterly mad, as I would be if I categorized a salamander as both a lizard and a mammal simultaneously. Indeed, if I said that categorization was important, and then immediately destroyed such categorization by the insertion of opposite instances - i.e. a warm-blooded lizard - I would be more than wrong. I would be directly assaulting rationality and reality, and so would be judged corrupt and malevolent.
Thus there is an essential difference between sequential contradiction and simultaneous contradiction. They are both incompatible with the facts of reality, but only the latter is immoral.

The fact that morality is based in reality is often alluded to in moral clich├ęs. The idea of the ‘golden rule’, or that one should treat others as one would like to be treated, is obviously based on the universality of reality, and so morality.
The common complaint of the wronged – ‘how would you like it if I did that to you? – also falls into this category.
Kant’s famous dictum that one should only act as if one’s actions created a general moral rule is also related to the idea put forward here. However, none of the above moral theories tie into any physical facts of reality. None of them reference basic biological truths. Due to this crucial omission, no historical moral theory has ever become scientific, and the basic facts of moral reality have remained obscured, and subjective, and futile.

If moral rules are a simple recognition of reality, then they are not subjective – and they must be universal, as are all laws derived from physical reality.

The only question then remains: if this is all true, then why has it never been expressed before? The simple – and sad – answer is that rules are always ignored for the false benefit of those who break them. Sane human beings always benefit from the recognition of reality. Since the morality of humankind has always been defined in mad opposition to physical reality and simple logic, there is really only one conclusion that can be drawn. Sadly, what mankind generally calls ‘reality’ is nothing more than the manipulations of madmen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

One Faith, One Club: The Religiosity of Power

Those who desire power need only one faith to rule supreme over their flock: the belief that rulers are different in some irreproducible manner from those they rule. This differentiation is required to break the common morality of mankind, and cow the masses into uncomprehending submission. For priests, this differentiation is very simple: they are closer to God, or are appointed by those who are closer to God, and so their value cannot be reproduced by the uninitiated. For politicians it is more complicated. They must sink below the universal morality of mankind while seeming to be naturally elevated above it – no easy feat!

The first thing that is required is a double standard. For power to flourish, two opposing premises must be accepted: the first is that rulers are more moral than those they rule, and the second is that those they rule choose to submit to them. In other words, citizens must believe that they are surrendering their freedom to those who are more moral than themselves, because this is the only situation in which citizens could possibly benefit from being ruled. If rulers are less moral than the average person, or equally moral, then being ruled is a net negative for citizens. The negative consequences are obvious if rulers are less moral – but even if they are equally moral, citizens will inevitably suffer terribly. Since no one can be perfect, immoral choices are always possible. When individuals make immoral choices, the consequences are localized. When rulers make immoral choices, their choices are inflicted on the community as a whole. To add insult to injury, rulers and their phalanxes must be paid, so the individual citizen is forced to pay a high overhead for a greater risk of suffering from immoral choices.

However, what happens if we accept the premise that rulers are always more moral than those they rule, and that those they rule choose to submit to them? We quickly find that these principles contradict each other. If citizens choose to submit to their rulers, then they logically must be able to choose those rulers – otherwise how would the rulers know that the submission was voluntary? In other words, less moral people will always choose more moral people to rule them. However, if we turn this principle into a general rule – which, logically, we must, the foolishness of it quickly becomes clear. If less moral people will always choose more moral people; then criminals should choose policemen, wife-beaters should decide who single women should marry, and torturers should appoint surgeons. Asking an immoral person to choose a moral leader is to ask him to (a) identify and value a morality he does not himself possess, (b) choose a leader who embodies that morality and (c) submit to that leader’s enforced edicts. But if a moral person can identify and value moral principles, why does he need a leader to enforce them? If immoral people are wise enough to submit to a ruler’s superior morality, why would they not save the overhead and risk of a ruler and simply submit to morality itself? And if they are not wise enough to choose a moral leader, then they will choose an immoral leader, and that leader will then enforce immoral commandments – and so even the moral minority will suffer terribly.

Of course, rulers don’t say that we must be ruled because we are bad. Rather, we are told: you are good, of course, but you are outnumbered by bad people, and we will protect you from them!

Sadly, this does not solve the problem, since modern democracy is defined as majority rule. If good people are outnumbered by bad people, then the rulers chosen by the majority will be immoral. If challenged on this, rulers inevitably reply: well, there are in fact only a small number of bad people, but they are very dangerous! This solves the problem of voting, but not of morality. If the number of bad people are very small, then they can be dealt with without the danger of a appointing a ruler. We submit to risky medical procedures when our lives are threatened by illness, not when we have a cold. However, even if we accept the premise that somehow private citizens are unable deal with a small number of bad people, the problem still remains unsolved. Rulers always outnumber citizens; if there are only small numbers of bad people, and citizens create a State to protect themselves from them, why wouldn’t the bad people just take over control the State? The State holds a monopoly on violence, so surely the first goal of bad people would be to gain control over that monopoly. This is analogous to a child pulling a gun on a hardened criminal – who would immediately wrestle the gun away from him and steal even more.

Thus, as we can see, every avenue of questioning leads to the same place, the same fundamental contradiction. There is no way that citizens can be ruled by leaders who are more moral than they are. Therefore, morality cannot be used to justify the power of the rulers.

When pressed on this matter, the defenders of State power inevitably bring to bear another argument which is much harder to disprove, which is that the services provided by the rulers cannot be reproduced by any other person or persons.

If a ruler justifies his rule by citing specific services he provides, then it obviously makes no difference whether he provides those services, or someone else does. If a priest says that his power comes from his generosity to the poor, then he is just not that special, since anyone can give to the poor. In a similar manner, rulers always claim that only they can provide property protection, health services and aid to the sick and poor and so on. This is obviously false. The ruler does not provide these services himself; instead, he takes money by force and gives it to other people who provide these services, such as policemen and doctors. He adds nothing to the transaction except threats and overhead. Citizens would be far better off paying those individuals directly to recreate government services such as property protection and aid to the sick and poor.

Of course, the defenders of State power always argue that private companies are unable to provide those services, but that is a logical contradiction. Why would certain people be unable to provide what citizens want but other people be able to? What is the difference? Well, say some, the government is not motivated by profit, and so can do certain things that the private sector cannot. But that argument fails very quickly, of course, because motives ascribed to one group of people must logically be applied to all groups of people. If people in the private sector are motivated by self-interest, then so are people in the government. The only difference is that, as one voter among millions, the people in the government have very little interest in satisfying individual citizens in particular, whereas those in a private company must please the individual in order to get his or her money. Thus if human beings are motivated by self-interest, individuals shall fare far worse at the hands of the State.

Here, naturally, the argument is made that the government provides services which private companies would not be interested in because the recipients of those services don’t have enough money to pay for them. Very well. But if the people in the government are able to determine those people’s needs and give them money, then why would other people be incapable of doing so? If people in the government can be charitable, then why cannot private citizens be equally charitable? The standard answer is that people are selfish, but that doesn’t help the case for State power at all. If people are selfish, then people in the government are also selfish, and so will not really help the poor or the sick. If the argument is then made that private citizens are more selfish than those in the government, we are back to where we started, which is that the worse cannot choose the better, and so this is impossible.

There is one final logical problem. People in the government are legally allowed to take people’s money by force and redistribute it to others. But why is it that only people in the government can do this? If forceful transfers of income are to be allowed, then what is the State needed for? The poor should then be able to rob citizens directly. Ah, say State apologists, but the State is required to ensure that this violent income transfer does not descend into general chaos. However, this is already happening – and even if it were not, so what? Citizens can easily hire private security guards to turn back those who are stealing from them when they hit a certain percentage. But, comes the rebuttal, that would create a free-for-all where all the poor people would grab whatever they could and it would all turn to madness.

But if this is the case – if the existence of money that can be legally stolen turns the poor into mad greedy jackals – then why would it only turn the poor into mad greedy jackals? If a certain stimulus makes some people irrational, why wouldn’t it make all people irrational? In other words, if poor people go mad for free money, why not the people in the government? There is certainly enough evidence that this is currently the situation, so we shall rest the case here.

In conclusion, then, a democracy can never produce a society wherein the rulers are more moral than those they rule. The only chance for such a society to exist would be for the most moral people to seize power and rule by totalitarian edict. However, history has so effectively debunked the myth of the ‘moral dictator’ that we scarcely need to waste time here discussing it. There can be no justification for the existence of a State, since it will always and forever be populated by people far less moral than the citizens they point their guns at. Even a cursory logical examination of the facts damns the existence of this terrible institution, the most vicious and corrupting body of moral degenerates in the history of the species.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Challenge of Charity

Charity is a core concept in modern morality; it is one of the unquestioned virtues which demand utter adherence in all circumstances.

When examining moral concepts, there are only two real questions which need to be asked. The first is: is it universal? The second – inevitably – is: if not, who does it benefit?

Charity is defined as (a) generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also : aid given to those in need (b) an institution engaged in relief of the poor (c) public provision for the relief of the needy. As a moral commandment, it is not at all universal. It is a top-down directive, wherein goods or services are transferred from one person to another. The person who is ‘needy’ or ‘suffering’ receives the goods of the person who is less needy, or not suffering. Thus the sufferer gains a benefit at the expense of the donor.

How does the sufferer convince the donor to give him goods or services? Mostly, by completely avoiding the issue of responsibility. In other words, charity is virtuous regardless of the morality of the recipient. If an abusive man has become homeless because his wife has taken out a restraining order against him, he must be helped. If an old woman who beat her children lives in poverty because they want nothing to do with her, she must be helped. People who suffer as a result of their own evil actions must be helped as surely as those who suffer from no fault of their own.

How is this rather obvious problem avoided? First, the argument is made that evil people are not responsible for their actions. The murderer had a bad childhood, for instance. This may be true, but it still creates an insoluble contradiction. People argue for the virtue of charity because they believe in free will, conscience and responsibility – because any moral argument requires belief in these things. Thus they must believe that good people are responsible for their own actions, and can swayed through reason. But if good people have free will and reason, why don’t bad people have them? If bad people don’t possess free will, then some physical difference must be found to explain the difference. This is essential: if I say that some people have no skin pigmentation, I must find at least one albino to justify my belief. What would it mean for me to say that albino’s exist, but they are exactly the same colour as everyone else? Wouldn’t that be just an imaginary difference? If I claim that some people have free will, and some people don’t, but I cannot find any physical differences between them, then my distinction is pure imagination, and pure nonsense. I might as well say that some people have incorporeal hats on their heads, and some don’t.

Finally, if evil people are not responsible for their own actions, then they are more like pets than people. We don’t believe that animals have free will, but merely instinct. We do not allow dogs to vote, or hold jobs, or roam the streets alone. We round them up, try to find them homes, and destroy them if they are dangerous or unwanted. If a man claims that he has no free will, no problem – we simply take him at his word and treat him as an animal. It is likely that he will quickly rediscover his essential humanity.

Evil people have free will. They have chosen their paths – and those paths usually lead to suffering and want. How does that fact affect our charitable impulses?

Let us say that a man becomes desperately sick because he smokes, drinks, refuses to exercise and eats poorly. Furthermore, he becomes so sick that he will never become well again. Also, the moment his health improves, we know that he will return to his self-destructive habits. Would you give him a kidney? Of course not – it would be futile. He would destroy his new kidney as relentlessly as he destroyed his old one. In fact, you would now be part of his circle of self-destruction, since by his actions he would have roped your health into his downward plunge.

The medical metaphor only goes so far, however, since we are all subject to illness, regardless of our ethics. However, life failures as significant as homelessness, chronic joblessness or poverty, substance abuse and so on are almost always the result of moral failings, or of historical decisions so poor that they have effectively destroyed opportunity. A boy who regularly takes Ecstasy usually ends up with permanent brain damage. If this renders him unable to make a lot of money, he may want others to subsidize his income, but why? He was the one who voluntarily decided to trade in his earning potential for an exciting nightlife. I for one have no particular issue with his choice. There are times I would have loved to blow off studying and go party with mind-altering drugs. He made his choice, I made mine. I don’t really care about his choice. I mean, I disagree with it, but so what? I can’t go back in time and change his choice for him, so what does my opinion matter? He made it, got his benefits, and lives with the consequences – just as I have. I might as well disagree with Napoleon’s choice of hair style.

All choices have consequences, and poverty, excess children, ill health or mental derangement are just some results of some choices. All those negatives were preceded by positives – which is why they were chosen. A man may choose to be violent rather than examine his abusive childhood, but that is still a positive, in that he avoids the pain of examining his past. We may choose to avoid the discomfort of going to the dentist, but we cannot then rationally complain of toothache.

Since all choices have consequences, but not all choices are equally healthy, we certainly would prefer that better choices have more positive consequences. This is the great danger of charity, and its terrible capacity to corrupt and destroy rationality, morality and happiness. Charity is one of the most dangerous drugs that humanity possesses. Nineteen times out of twenty, charity blunts morality, numbs cause and effect, and rewards evil. It is a weapon wielded by horrible people to escape the consequences of their own corruption – and to destroy the empathy and judgment of those who give.

To take an current example, let’s look at the problem of the tsunami victims. The capitalist world has generated many billions of dollars in aid, which will go to the governments of the stricken countries. Will the money go to the victims? Of course not! If these governments had any concern for their citizens, they would not be corrupt and brutal dictatorships to begin with! Giving money to Stalin to help with the Ukrainian famine was equally mad – if he cared about the Ukrainians to begin with, he wouldn’t subject them to such tyranny that they couldn’t farm properly! What the general public does not seem to understand is that the reason so many people died in the tsunami disaster was because they were poor, and they were poor because they were enslaved.

Imagine this: a group of slave-owners lock their slaves in a barn every night. One evening, a fire breaks out and kills a number of slaves. Would we then give money to the slave owners? What if we gave money to the slaves? Would that be any better? Of course not – the slave owners would just confiscate it!

If we really wanted to help the slaves, we would focus on the real issue, which was not that people who were slaves died, but that they were slaves at all! By giving money to the slave owners, are we not implicitly approving slavery? Are we not legitimizing the corrupt and vicious state governments of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and others? We would be better off arming the slaves than giving money to the slave owners.

But of course, most of us can’t see that metaphor with any real clarity, since we are slaves as well, and our slave masters are simply giving our money to other slave masters – whom they are, for obvious reasons, unlikely to condemn.

This is the grave challenge of charity. Charity must begin with a moral foundation, which is that people are responsible for their own actions. Transferring resources from moral people to immoral people punishes the good and rewards the evil. Given that any rational morality must be concerned with increasing good behaviour and decreasing bad behaviour, providing resources to evil people is a purely immoral action. Charity, then, can only be morally provided to those whose ill fortune is not the result of their own actions.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Lies of Authority

Authorities tell us so many obvious lies that is seems amazing that we do not simply laugh outright at them. Here are a few, followed by some observations as to why our laughter is less common than it should be.

For the State to gain our allegiance, it must first create an imaginary enemy, and second reassure us that we are not in that camp. This is the trinity of power: the benevolent State, the terrible enemy, and the helpless dependent. First, the benevolence of the State is trumpeted, always by inculcating the young. Second, the power of the State is hidden, by a consistent refusal to point out the guns that are the source of that power. As the child grows, however, sooner or later he will understand the State’s dependent on the police, prisons and military. At this point, the enemy is introduced, in order to justify State violence. The child is reassured that State violence is only used against the enemy, and this seems believable at the time, since children do not pay taxes, and are not subject to regulations. As the child grows into adulthood, however, it becomes increasingly clear that State power is not primarily used against the enemies, but against the allies. The vast majority of State violence is designed not to punish the malevolent, but to rob the productive. The State does not tax citizens in order to protect them from enemies, but rather protects enemies in order to tax citizens. A large part of the State is dedicated to increasing the number of enemies, which is why laws and regulations continually expand. Every additional law adds to the number of enemies – and those enemies are commonly thought to be those who were formerly acting malevolently, but are in fact those who will in the future transgress the law, and so be subjected to threats, thievery or imprisonment. Laws, in other words, are not created by the State to protect citizens from thieving enemies, but rather to protect State revenue by inventing enemies and robbing citizens.

By far the best enemies the State can create are people whose ‘bad’ actions are increased by State violence. There are four major categories here: poverty, health care, education and drug use. The State has always used the existence of poverty as a threat with which to rob its citizens. Modern capitalism gravely threatened this threat by systematically eliminating all poverty but the most pathological. It was no accident that the Great Society was created in the 1960s; if the State had waited even another decade or two before stepping in, there would have been too few poor left to make it even remotely believable. Using violence to subsidize poverty has always resulted in an increase of poverty, and so the State was able to save one of its primary weapons against its citizens by creating the welfare state just in the nick of time.

The same is true of health care. In the 1960s, many governments took over health care – and again, just in time, since people were becoming so healthy that the costs of health care were becoming ludicrously low. Just as subsidizing poverty increases it – as well as decreasing wealth – so the subsidizing of illness increases it, and decreases health. It is no accident that the first generation of children to grow up in families with no direct memories of unsubsidized health care are so desperately unhealthy and overweight. Thus, along with poverty, health care is the perfect tool of State power, since the exercise of that power leads to an increase of demand for that power. Government-run health systems make people sicker, and so require additional coercion for funding.

Education is another prime example. State schools do not exist to serve the needs of either parents or children, but rather the greed of the State and its parasites. Citizens are not taxed for the sake of improving education; rather, education is forced to deteriorate so that citizens can be further taxed. Logically, this is not hard to spot. If a man claims that X is his goal, and Y his means, and he never achieves X, but continually achieves Y, it is obvious that Y is in fact his goal, and X his means. The State does not rob its citizens in order to improve education, but rather forces education to deteriorate in order to rob from its citizens. That much is clear, insofar as for the past half-century, education has continued to decline while taxes have continued to climb. Thus the goal must be the taxes, and education is the means. The State forces education to deteriorate by shooting anyone who wants to opt out, or anyone who wants to teach without paying a union, or wants a more personalized curriculum, or the introduction of objective standards or values and so on. Note that the State does not threaten to shoot people who wish such things – if all the State did was threaten, it would scare none but the most jumpy. It does in fact shoot people who disobey it. That much is clear to anyone who wants to follow the logical path from letters to calls to the ‘break, enter and kidnap’ tactics of people wearing particular clothing.

Drug use is also fertile ground for the creation of enemies. Making drugs illegal, of course, increases their value, and so increases the value of creating addicts. Again, there is no conceivable logic by which the State can be said to be dedicated to decreasing the amount of illicit drug use. Such drug use was far less before our current prohibitions, and has only been increasing since these laws went into effect. What has continued to increase, of course, are State drug-enforcement budgets, along with all the arbitrary powers of search and seizure that go along with them. Thus drug laws are not designed to protect citizens from drugs; they are designed to protect State income from a decline in drug use.

This is all perfectly obvious – the question is: why do so few people see this nonsense for what it is?

The main reason is two-fold. The first part is that there is little point having passionate opinions about things we cannot change. I may hate gravity, or dying, but getting all riled up about them won’t do me much good. It looks rather insane to get mad at things we cannot change. And the fact of the matter is that the average citizen can do absolutely nothing to limit the power of the State. We cannot resist well-armed State thugs. We cannot enter the system and change it, since the system has raised impervious barriers to anyone with integrity. No one with integrity will promise State loot to backers, and so will get no backing. Media will not publicize any substantial State criticism, since the State controls access to the airways through licensing and fines, and criticism of the State will result in a cut-off from the largest news source. Media may criticize this team or that team, but not the sport itself.

The second reason is pure – and rational – terror. Morally condemning the State is a dangerous hobby, since State power is so extensive. Imagine a student in government-run school exposing the violence at the root of the public education system. Imagine the reaction of a teacher being informed that she is being paid in blood-money robbed from the innocent at gun-point. What teacher would be able to respond to such simple and accurate moral condemnation? Pure rage would result. Through one mechanism or another, the child would either be severely disciplined, medicated, expelled or failed. Hate crime legislation would probably be invoked, and the child’s parents would also be culpable. The child and his parents would be subject to the most brutal and public kind of character assassination. He would be cut off from State education, and forced into home schooling. The child’s life would be ruined – and for what? Angering an inconsequential government teacher? Bewildering and alienating his classmates? He would not emerge victorious, since there are only two effective ways to oppose evil: moral condemnation and physical force. The first is not materially effective in isolation, and he is incapable of the second, and so his life would be destroyed for no purpose.

A third reason is that the spread of State violence utterly corrupts human relations – especially the bond of the family. Parental authority is undermined by student and adult welfare, while State schools implicitly teach children that violence is the most moral way to resolve differences of opinions. State schools, both by example and instruction, cannot teach children about win-win solutions, or the supremacy of peaceful rationality in dispute resolution. Their very existence proves the axiom that force is more moral than reason.

Thus children are taught that differences of opinion can only be resolved through violence and utter subjugation. This breeds the most stifling, claustrophobic and conformist types of relationships, where no values, fundamental ideas or important discussions can be allowed. Empty conversation displaces deep commonality of experience, and trivia, boredom, irritation and resentment take the place of stimulation, love, loyalty and integrity.

Such ‘relationships’ are brittle houses of cards, utterly opposed to any rational discussion of values, morals, ideas or deep experiences. Morals, if they exist, are imposed as mere absolutist and threatening prejudices. Families in particular, due to their relative longevity, become obsessed with ‘keeping the peace’ and defusing conflicts which cannot be resolved except through subtle emotional – or overt physical – dominance. Families, which should be the deepest relationships, become landmines of conflict carpeted over with silly stories, empty gossip, annoying advice and petty criticism.

It is for this reason that people also fear morally criticizing the State. The most abstract is also the deepest, and so for a child to criticize the violence of the State is to criticize the parents who placed him in a State school, or a brother who works for the State, or a grandmother on a State pension plan, or a cousin still in school, or a sister-in-law who is a teacher and so on. The State is now so powerful that a man cannot condemn the State without also condemning his family. State corruption has corrupted his family, as it has all his relationships.

Thus if a man criticizes the State, he must either retract his criticisms and destroy his own moral integrity, or face the inevitable unraveling of all his personal relationships. And those in the proximity of someone criticizing the State face the same choice. They must either condemn him, or stand with him in isolation.

Who among us is brave enough to stand for the universal morality of our common humanity and insist, over and over, that violence destroys all that makes life worth living? That violence corrupts our capacity for rationality, love and empathy. That we are ruled by petty dictators and threatened by brutal men in particular clothing. That what we call the State is nothing more than a club of criminals whose mad addiction to violence and power is eating away the very heart of morality, integrity and everything that brings a golden light to our lives.

Almost none of us choose to take this thorny, uphill, lonely and lovely path. We gain nothing but hostility, indifference, defensiveness, condemnation, attempted humiliation – and the truth. The truth, which makes it all, all worthwhile. For while violence rules, we are outcasts. But we must ready our trumpets for that glorious day when the State finally collapses from the weight of its own brutality, and we shall be free to speak with one another openly once more.

The State and the Family

The State and the family are two closely interrelated mechanisms for suppressing the moral authority of the individual. The State is a fairly obvious case, in that it corrupts the morals of children for over a decade so they end up, at best, resentful but compliant – and at worst, worshipful. The corruption of these morals is quite simply achieved, by creating imaginary enemies – corporations, environmental degradation, the rich, the free market and so on – and by creating imaginary victories over these imaginary enemies. Thus without the State, we would all be chained to factory benches, poor, sick, hungry and so on.

The corruption of morals is, in essence, the corruption of rationality, and so of empathy. Any rule of instruction regarding human beings must by definition be applicable to all human beings, or it is mere irrational prejudice. The creation of conceptual categories whose moral nature takes precedence over the actions of individuals makes no difference. If I say that lions eat meat, but that a pride of lions is vegetarian, does that make any sense? Of course not. However, if I say that one group of people are greedy and destructive – i.e. capitalists – while another group is noble and moral – i.e. the government – what have I achieved? I have said nothing more than that one pride of lions eats meat, while another is vegetarian. But how can I call both groups ‘lions’ then? If a lion is defined as a meat-eater, then all lions must be meat-eaters – and no group of lions can be vegetarian. The concept derives from the instance, and can add no other characteristics to that instance. Calling a group of stars a constellation does not change the physical characteristic of any particular star. A ‘constellation’ is a conceptual convenience for us, not a magic wand that changes the nature of matter.

By creating categories which change the moral nature of human beings – corporations versus the government – the State destroys the moral logic that children are innately capable of. Children have no problem developing conceptual thinking; they don’t think that the next piece of broccoli is going to taste like chocolate, or vice versa. The natural conceptual abilities of the human mind must be corrupted by an endless stream of propaganda which plays on two additional innate mental habits: fear and tribalism.

We are, of course, designed to be logical – but even more fundamentally, we are designed to survive. In primitive times, when danger was constant, we gathered together in tribes, because only numbers gave us a chance against other – mostly human – predators. Thus fear triggers subjugation to the group for the sake of physical survival, which requires the dissolution of both logic and the individual personality. We are afraid of being murdered, and so we fight. Yet peace is nothing more than the recognition of reality. We fear murder, and if we are rational then we understand that our opponents also fear being murdered. We believe that blind obedience to a leader will save us, but if we are logical then we also realize that it is the blind obedience of our enemies warriors that is what endangers us to begin with. Blind obedience is not our salvation, but what gets us killed. Or turns us into murderers; it is hard to know which is worse.

That State generally takes over the primary task of education when children are five or so years old. Children are usually fairly obedient by this time, so the question then becomes: what is it about the family that prepares children for subjugation to the State?

There are several characteristics of the family which create the irrational prejudice so central to subjugation to the State – and of course this irrational prejudice is primarily designed to serve the irrational authority of the parents first and foremost. The State is, initially, a mere grateful recipient of broken and slavish children. (Later, it turns the children against the parents, but we will deal with that shortly.)

Parents have near-complete control over their children, and parents are rarely logical, since logic is an innate art that has been largely scrubbed from the human soul over the past two centuries or so. Thus if parents were to train their children that reality, logic and the resulting empathy is the highest moral goal, then of course parents would have to be logical and empathetic to begin with, which they are not. In other words, corrupt parents will never teach their children that integrity is a value. They will punish things like inconsequential dishonesty, but only to exercise their own power to control and humiliate, not to underscore any moral or rational principles.

Families excel at training the children in the black art of irrational prejudice by claiming that family is more important than reality. Children are told that they must love their parents, their siblings, their extended family for no other reason than biological or physical proximity. Is this not the basest form of irrational preference? Children naturally love moral, rational and wise people; they do not have to be bullied into doing so. Children naturally withdraw from smelly grandmothers who are distant, false or unkind. Saying to a child: ‘go and give your grandmother a hug’ is irrational and destructive. It inflicts the terrible lesson: love your grandmother because she is your grandmother, and not for any other reason. But what sense does it make to love one’s own grandmother, rather than someone else’s grandmother? If every child must love his grandmother, then every grandmother is deserving of love, but not for any objective reason. Bobby must love his grandmother, but not necessarily Ralph’s. Ralph must love his own grandmother, but not necessarily Bobby’s. Thus what can Ralph and Bobby have in common? How can they empathize with each other’s experience of love? They cannot. Their experiences have been sundered, and they have lost the capacity to empathize with each other’s perceptions of love. In fact, it is even worse than that. If for some reason they end up empathizing with each other’s experiences of irrational preference, they will realize that they were told to love someone simply on the basis of blind prejudice, and will feel violated and angry. It is not just that empathy becomes more difficult – it actually becomes a negative experience. If I am told that I must love the tree growing in front of my house for no other reason than that it is growing in my front yard, what is my relationship to the child across the street, who is told the same thing? How can we avoid fighting each other? He is told to love his tree; I am told to love my tree – how can we understand each other? If we ever do end up truly understanding each other, what we will understand is that our families told us lies – a fact that will collide head-on with the first lie that our families told us, which is that our family is always better than anything else.

There are many corollaries to this first lesson – my family is best – and they spread out like ripples in a pool. The second, usually, is either my country is best – or, for immigrants, my culture is best, for racists, my race is best – or, for classists, my class is best. There are many permutations of this, all designed to give the child false pride in some attribute that he has not himself earned. This is crucial. If a child can be trained to develop a false sense of self based on unearned attributes, he will be far less likely to question the value of those attributes in any fundamental manner, since it will cause him great emotional pain and mental disorientation.

Sports also play their part. The child must be exposed to – and encouraged to participate in – the rank irrationality of sports-team preference. We want Team X to win, he is told. Why? Because they are like us, in some manner, either through cultural, racial or physical proximity. The desire of the opposing team to win – and the desire of their fans for that team to win – is not explored. Again, the child’s capacity to reason – and so empathize – is blunted. We want our team to win is an absolute which utterly divides the fans of both teams.

So, when the child is handed over to the State, his capacity for rationality, morality and empathy is already broken. He cannot grasp the emotional states and preferences of those he is told are unlike himself. He takes pride in inconsequential attributes he has not earned. His capacity for integrity and rational thought has been crippled. In fact, all of the above positive values are now a threat to him, since they utterly oppose the false values he has been taught. If he ever comes close to understanding this, then he will also come close to understanding that his family is corrupt, and destructive, and has crippled his natural abilities for the sake of their own petty and irrational power. That what he was taught was the highest value – family is best – is in fact a negative value, since irrational preference destroys morality. And no children – and very few adults – are capable of that kind of radical reevaluation.

And so, when the broken child is handed from the family to the State, he is ready for his miseducation to continue. The two central principles of irrational preference – that proximity is better, and so categories of people are utterly different – have been so drilled into his helpless mind that the government will have little trouble with him. They can tell him that corporations are bad, and that the government is good, and he will believe them, because he is in a State school, and closer is better. He also believes that groups of people can be utterly different, and so the irrational idea that those in the government are somehow better than those in corporations – that some groups of lions are vegetarian, and some are meat-eaters – is comfortably familiar to him.

However, it is a truth of history that the irrationality that parents force-feed their children will inevitably turn on themselves. If children are taught that they must be loyal to whatever is closer to them, and have no empathy for those who are defined as ‘different’ they will inevitably be trained by the State to turn on their own parents. This is the grim retribution that parents inevitably sow for themselves by breaking their children so early in life. At first, the State merely gratefully takes over these children – but later, in time, it takes over not only the children but the role of the parents as well. Where the parents teach the child loyalty to irrational but personal authority, the State will teach the child loyalty to irrational but institutional authority. The parents want to retain their own power over their children, but will inevitably find their power destroyed by the far greater power of the well-armed State. Their children will be sent to war, to prison camps, and set to work exposing their parents for a variety of ideological crimes. Although we believe that we secure our own power by crippling our children, the truth is that there are far more malevolent forces in the world than parents, who will take up the empty shells we have created, arm them, and turn them against us.

Loving the State: Leviathan and Optimism

Here in Canada, we are about to surrender our infants to the State. Government daycare will be imposed upon us, and now not even the needs of their newborns will keep our citizens from returning to the tax-galleys. Another cluster of unionized State leeches will attach themselves to the body politic, hoping to feed on us forevermore.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. I am dismayed, of course, because like all optimists I resist the lessons of history. For every civilization in history, the State has always expanded to devour the host society. It is an iron rule, without exception. But still I hope that somehow our State will go into a remission of sorts, stabilize and let us live our diminished lives as only partial slaves.

It will not be the case, of course. Like all addictions, irrationality and violence are inherently unstable, and inevitably expand to collapse. The true addict has to hit bottom before he has even the slightest chance of recovery. And there is no addict like the State. Thus it is inevitable that State power will grow until it self-destructs. To imagine otherwise is to imagine that the alcoholic will give up drinking while he is still flying high, or that a gambler will quit the casino while he’s on a winning streak. It is unthinkable.

So what is my relationship to the expansion of State power? Overall, I have come to accept that I have been forcibly wed to an addict, and that to experience shock and dismay every time my ‘spouse’ acts irrationally is, itself, irrational. If a man has been a lifelong drinker, to be appalled every time he reaches for a drink represents a foolish failure to learn from experience.

The only answer, of course, is to get a ‘divorce’ and get rid of the State completely. If we are wedded to a hopeless crack addict, and cannot get away, the only hope we can have is to encourage all his self-destructive habits until he is no longer a problem. It is risky, of course, but it is the only option. A woman who wants to be free of her alcoholic and abusive husband gets him drunk on snowy nights then gives him the car keys. If a slave-owning population is partial to cocaine, their slaves should grow it enthusiastically and supply it for free.

This approach has given me quite a bit of freedom, though it has been hard to accept. It feels somehow wrong to cheer and encourage failure, but in the case of the State, the fall of the few is the rise of the many, and I try to remember the multitude who will have a chance to flourish after the State collapses.

Therefore, I have changed both my attitude and arguments to the ever-expanding power of the State. I now passionately advocate the following positions:

1. Pay your taxes. The more money you give the State, the more it is able to borrow. The more it borrows, the quicker it will collapse.
2. Encourage State spending. I am now an enthusiastic advocate of corrupt schemes like State-run daycare. “It is a wonderful program,” I say, “because it will help bankrupt the State, and so set us all free!”
3. Demand additional programs. I want a video-game academy, and a Department for the Advancement of Amateur Haiku. I want subsidies for groups advocating subsidies. I want pork piled on pork. Let’s starve the Leviathan with its own insatiable greed!
4. Buy government bonds. The more people buy bonds, the more lenders will give to the government. More programs! Quicker bankruptcy!
5. Go to the doctor. Don’t take up much of his time. Complain about being ‘tired’. Or a light sleeper. Get in, get out, and get him billing the State! He’ll be more than happy to oblige.
6. Don’t give to charity. If you feel like helping the poor, give your money to a government welfare agency instead. You’ll be doing your part to help break the back of government aid, which is the best thing you can do for the poor anyway.
7. Advocate bizarre rights. The right to marry an ostrich. The right for a bachelor to claim an ‘equivalent to married’ deduction for his right hand. The right to parade down the Mississippi. Go for it. Get politicians commissioning studies, hiring think-tanks, pushing for funding inclusions in military spending bills.
8. Support US invasions. This is hard to stomach, I know, but think about it: tens of thousands of Iraqi’s died – and continue to die – as a result of the US invasion. Half a million died during the ‘peaceful’ sanctions of the 1990s. See? Fewer Iraqis are dying now than before the US invaded. Also, the UN isn’t giving Saddam billions of dollars for free. So everyone’s better off. Except Saddam.
9. Support your troops. Troops are expensive. The more troops the State deploys, the quicker the State will collapse – and the freer the world will become.
10. Be an entrepreneur. Start creating jobs. The more people you get paying taxes, the more money the State will imagine it has, and the quicker it will self-destruct.
11. Speculate in real estate. Land transfer taxes. Enough said.
12. Drink and Drive (though not together). Alcohol and gas taxes. Fuel the fire!
13. Support foreign aid. Because of the billions of dollars spent in foreign aid, Africa is a complete mess. Let’s keep it going! More! Free AIDS drugs! Free food! More money to dictators! Arms aplenty! The only chance poorer nations have is for the governments of the rich nations to implode and so stop funding the loathsome thugs that strangle them.
14. More money to artists! The government especially needs to fund artists, because no more tangible and revolting example of corrupt government waste exists. Wasting money doesn’t mean much. It’s not visceral enough. Too abstract. What we need is more statues made out of shit. More cows sawn in half. More crucifixes hung in piss. That sends the real message! It gives us that much less to miss when the State finally goes down.
15. Support money mischief. What, you’re not willing to swallow double-digit inflation to bring down the Leviathan? Where’s your love of freedom? Write your local representative and demand deficit financing. Demand the printing of additional money. Demand that interest rates be kept artificially low. Inflation will rise, and government debt payments will break the back of the beast. Sing as you roll your wheelbarrow of money to go buy bread! Short term pain, long term gain
16. Live forever. Old age pensions. Long term health care. Little chance of taxation. Don’t be healthy, but don’t die either. Linger on. Be demanding. See? Even the old and infirm have their part to play.
17. Support trade sanctions/subsidies. Basically, the more power the State has, the more it will be funded and corrupted by leeches intent on using that power to suck the lifeblood out of any productive person in sight. Farmers – sure, they need money, because there’s, like, you know, weather and stuff. The steel industry? Tariffs! Subsidies! If the State sells its favours, it will have more donations to use as collateral to borrow on. Let’s keep government and corporations nice and cozy. That way, when the brutal State goes, it will take the inefficient parasitic corporations with it, and we can all get back to doing something actually useful.

These are just some of the approaches I’ve taken to the ‘problem’ of the expansion of State power. Each and every one has been incredibly helpful to me. Now, rather than getting frustrated every time the State increases its power, I try to do everything I can to hurry it along. For out of the rubble of its self-destruction, we shall arise free. And surely that’s something we can all really get behind.

So the next time someone asks you what you think of some new government program, stand on your feet and applaud it. Cry your approval to the very skies! Praise every aspect of it. For the State is enslaved to its appetite, and it is only by feeding it to bursting that we shall finally end it, and become free.

De-Socializing Socialism - or - The Myth Of Being Nice

The current debate in Libertarian circles regarding whether the ‘origin of things’ is important or not misses the point. Whether the Fed came into being through corrupt political maneuvering, or whether State education was brought about by desperate and slightly incompetent teachers, or whether the income tax is legal or not, is all rather beside the point. The simple fact is that most of us are scared to make the moral case for freedom, because the simple fact is that this will utterly and irrevocably alienate most of our friends and families. And this is where the movement not only falters, but fails. Most of our friends and families are not Libertarian. They are, at best, pragmatists who shrug and praise and curse the world, but have no interest in understanding why things are the way they are, or how they could be better. For the most part, the world is populated by altruists who believe that subjugation is noble, or cynics who believe it is inevitable. If we cannot openly condemn the blindness of the altruist and the cowardice of the cynic, we have no place in the theatre of ideals.

Let us say that I have a brother who is a socialist. Or a mixed-market man. Or a generalized statist. How am I to deal with him? For most of us, the answer is to avoid politics at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and every year or two have a blowout argument which achieves absolutely nothing, except perhaps to give everyone the impression that philosophy is really just sibling rivalry with additional syllables.

Yet what is the truth of the matter as we define it? We argue that socialism leads to totalitarianism. To the enslavement of all by the government. To slave-camps, torture, war, genocide and the endless murders of the omnipotent State. How strong do our convictions appear when we sit down and chat amiably with those who fully support such monstrosities? If we are Jewish, and loath Nazism, but sit and talk and laugh with Nazis, don’t our convictions appear little more than inconsequential preferences, like our choice of a tie or haircut? If a woman opposes slavery, but goes every weekend to visit and laugh with her slave-owning family, what depth does her opposition really have?

There are really only two approaches to the world. The first is that the truth matters above all, and that our only loyalty is to what is just and right. The second is that we must strive to be as pleasant as possible, to speak our minds but embrace our enemies, to avoid condemning others and strive to avoid drawing any real moral lines between good and evil. In this view, ideas are really just abstract toys that happen to fascinate us. We love to explore and manipulate them, but they have no real importance in our daily lives. They are for History, or Mankind, or Society and other such non-existent and oft-capitalized abstractions. We like to talk about Economics, or People, or the Market – not Bob and Achmed and Sally and you and I. We like to say things like: ‘the market is more efficient,’ or that ‘government is force,’ – we really don’t generally say that ‘by defending public education, Bob, you are saying that, if I don’t agree with you, you would fully support someone putting a bullet in my brain.’

Is that extreme? Does it make you uncomfortable? But why should that be so? Isn’t that what we’ve been preaching for all these years? What could be more in line with our philosophy? For decades, we have railed against socialists for their habit of shrinking back from the inevitable results of their own premises. Why should we then excuse ourselves from the consequences of our own ideals? If government is force, then those who support government are supporting violence against us! Where does this logic break down? Government certainly is force. Those who support the actions of government are supporting violence. If you disagree with me, and I threaten to stab you, am I doing the right thing? Would you then be happy to come back to my house and debate some more? Should we forget our differences and go see a movie together? Wouldn’t any further interaction with me be rather insane? And wouldn’t it make your opposition to violence look rather anemic, if not utterly pathetic? If I wave a gun in your face, and you’re still chatty and pleasant with me, are you really opposed to violence? Of course not. If you claim to be against slavery, but are good friends with a slave-owner who regularly orders his slaves whipped, I can only assume that your objections to slavery are mere pretension.

What are our options? Well, if we are interested in the truth, and wish to live with integrity, we have only three options. We can either change our minds, our convictions, or our actions. In other words, we can either prove that government is not force, give up our opposition to violence or stop associating with people who support the use of violence.

For many years, advocates of political liberty have criticized socialists for clinging to their beliefs even when the facts of reality continually proved them wrong. One could be a socialist in 1900, we say, but surely now it is a ludicrous position. That spotlight, however, can as easily be turned on us. We believe that the government is inefficient. Has any fact in the last century disproved that? Or that the market works? Or that government continually grows? Or that increasing debt and financial instability are the hallmarks of that growth? What in the past century has disproved our contentions? Nothing. And yet still we hesitate in the face of social pressure. We continually approach political discussions as if violence were not at their root. We argue with people as if they were not recommending that we be shot for our opinions. As if they would not rather see us dead in the ground or in prison for believing that, say, anyone with legs can deliver the mail.

We continually hide the problem of violence, of bullets through torsos and blood on the ground – and then we have the audacity to argue that people like using the power of the State because the violence of that power is hidden from them! Who hides that violence more than we do? Who else sees it more clearly, but works as hard to obscure it from people? Who else claims to better understand the direct path from ideas to guns, but socially treats ideas as inconsequential?

Of course, our primary problem is that we still believe we may be wrong. And that is fine. It is healthy. Doubt is one of the healthiest ingredients in any rationality philosophy. But we must be rigorous, if we want to live with integrity. If a scientist doubts a theory, he does not argue it as if it were true, except as an academic exercise. If we do not believe that the State is violence, and that those who support State policies are advocating violence against dissenters, then we must examine this logic until we find a flaw. Perhaps the State does not use violence. Perhaps all State programs are voluntary. Perhaps when a person says ‘State’, he really means a charity, club, business or other such voluntary social group. You never know. But until we have resolved our doubts about our ideals, we cannot act as strong advocates for them. We do them far more harm than good, because not only do we discredit ourselves, but also we discredit those who come after us.

We are either in doubt or we are certain. If we are uncertain, then we cannot advocate what we doubt, but must examine our hesitations to ascertain their validity. If we are certain, then we must act with integrity, and refuse to associate with those who advocate the use of violence against us. We must first help them identify their error, and then, if they persist, we must condemn them in the strongest possible terms, and cut off all contact. No other action is possible, unless we are willing to utterly give up on rationality. False sentimentality will not save us when those around us finally get their wish, and we are dragged off to the concentration camps. For let us not deceive ourselves – it is us, not them, who will be the first to go.

The Blessing of Poverty

Two poor young men, Ralph and Bobby, each decide on very different courses. Ralph loves the party life; he drops out of high school, gets a menial job, goes out to bars, chats up women and generally has a great time. Bobby also takes a menial job, but takes night courses for years in order to get his degree. Then, he takes business and administrative courses. Finally, he gets a good job and begins to make a lot of money. Ralph, on the other hand, remains stuck at a lower middle class income.

An interesting question is: who is the wiser man? Who has made the best decisions? The standard answer is that Ralph is a short-sighted fool, while Bobby is hard-working and sensible. But why? Why is going to night school better than going to a bar? Sure, Bobby makes more money when he’s older, but Ralph has more fun when he’s younger. It is a foolish exercise to look at all the benefits of one decision and compare them with all the drawbacks of another decision. You can buy a house or rent an apartment; if you buy a house, you’re building up equity – but if you’re renting, you have all this additional money, which is also equity. Who is to say which is better? It’s a purely personal decision, like preferring blue over yellow. It’s not an objectively-quantifiable value. Refraining from murder, for instance, is always moral, no matter what the circumstances. Going to a bar rather than going to a library is not a moral choice, but rather a subjective preference, akin to aesthetics. If a man has only three months to live, we do not consider him a fool for failing to start taking night courses – in fact, we would wonder at his sanity if he started doing so. If I am rather dim, but physically strong, then manual labour is probably my best course, and night school would be a waste of both my time and the teacher’s time. Thus the taking of night courses is a subjective value, relative to a near-infinite number of other circumstances.

Thus life decisions like ‘education versus enjoyment’ cannot be subjected to objective determinations of value. They are not even subject to economic analyses, since a man who goes to university is giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars in opportunity costs, while the man who takes a job out of high school makes a fortune in comparison – especially if he invests the difference.

There is, however, one critical aspect which truly endangers the value of Bobby’s decisions. Let’s say that, after twenty years of hard work, Bobby ends up making 100k a year, while amiable party-guy Ralph is stuck at 35k a year. The fundamental problem is that Bobby’s gains are transferable, while Ralph’s gains are not. When Bobby was studying, and Ralph was out having fun, Ralph’s fun couldn’t be transferred to Bobby. However, now that Bobby is making a lot more money, his extra money can be transferred to Ralph. This disparity is central to the problem of State violence and corruption.

When Ralph looks at Bobby’s salary, he may feel hard done by because he makes so little in comparison. He suddenly forgets all the times he was out having fun while Bobby was sitting at home studying – for the simple reason that all of Ralph’s gains were in the past, while all of Bobby’s gains are in the present and the future. Ralph’s fun is beyond reclamation or redistribution, while Bobby’s money can now be taken from him in the present and given to Ralph.

It is this very capacity for redistribution which creates such imbalances in the political process, and causes the State to ultimately self-destruct. The degree of sympathy we have for those who make less money is because we so often remain blind to the value of having less money. Less money is often the result of less education, and since education isn’t always fun, all it means is that the poorer person has simply bought more fun by accepting a lower income. We don’t have a problem with people paying for fun by going to Disney World, do we? So how can we think less of a man for preferring fun to work? A woman may choose to be a poor philosopher because she prefers wisdom to money – all that means is that she has bought wisdom by deferring income. What is the problem with that? Is it objectively better to make money unwisely?

The problem is, of course, that those whose gains were in the past tend to focus only on what is currently lost, not what was previously gained. The purpose of life is to choose whatever moral course is most satisfying to us. Ralph may look at Bobby’s income and wish that he had himself worked harder when he was younger, but so what? Bobby might as easily look at Ralph’s life and wish he had had more fun when he was younger. Both perspectives are largely academic, however, because we know that Bobby has always done exactly what he wanted – and so has Ralph. How do we know that? Simply because they did what they did. In the past, we know for certain that that Ralph preferred partying to studying, because that’s exactly what he did. He might now wish that he had made different choices in the past, but what he really wishes is that he could have both his partying life in the past and Bobby’s money in the present, which as is impossible as a fat man wishing he can have both his cakes in the past and a thin body in the present.

Well, it is not impossible, but more a logical contradiction. A fat man might look at a dieter’s gains and say that he wants the dieter’s thinner body as well as all the unhealthy food he, the fat man, currently eats. Bobby is at a disadvantage because Ralph can steal Bobby’s money in the present, but Bobby cannot reach into the past and steal Ralph’s fun. Bobby’s money is as much a part of Bobby’s life as Ralph’s memories of fun are a part of Ralph’s – but only one of them is transferable. It is this general imbalance which makes the State so dangerous, and its corruption, violence and growth so inevitable. The State can grant Ralph his wish. Ralph can have all the benefits of his party life in the past as well as some of Bobby’s additional income in the present. The value of deferring pleasure thus becomes watered down, and so discipline and hard work become more and more useless, a sucker’s game, and freedom, wealth and morality are diminished thereby. (Also, since the pursuit of immediate gratification tends to disperse capital, by rewarding it, fewer jobs are created, which threatens Ralph’s long-term livelihood in a very powerful but subtle manner.)

So the question becomes: how does Ralph portray himself in order to gain sympathy for his desire to steal Bobby’s hard-earned money? Well, the first step is to vividly portray his present losses while never mentioning any of his past gains. “I’m poor, he’s rich, it’s not fair – in fact, he might well be rich because I’m poor!” Thus a sick smoker points out the pain of his illness while never mentioning the years of pleasure he derived from smoking. Veterans (except draftees) tend to make the same case. They talk of the horrors of wounds and wars, without mentioning the money, travel and moral praise they garnered through their dedication to the murderous arts.

The fact is that if a man speaks honestly of both the benefits and losses of his choices, we may listen with interest, but we will scarcely pity him. If a man says that adultery destroyed his marriage, but that he honestly preferred having an affair to being married, how can we pity him? We might disagree, but we wouldn’t see him as any kind of victim, because only children and those subject to violence can be victimized. Adults making choices can’t honestly claim victimization, since all choices have both benefits and drawbacks, due to the simple fact that both time and resources are limited.

The second argument that these people tend to make is that free will was, in their case, absent. They claim, for a variety of reasons, that they were unable to act in their own best interest. They didn’t go to night school because they were ‘underprivileged’, or because they didn’t know anyone else who did it, or because their parents were mean, or some other reason.

But if people are genuinely unable to act in their own best interest, it is hard to understand why they would then say to politicians: if you go and steal some of Bobby’s money and give it to us, we’ll be sure to vote for you.

It’s a breathtaking contradiction. If Ralph makes the above request, then he clearly recognizes that he would be better off if he had some of Bobby’s money. If he is willing to vote in a politician who will steal some of Bobby’s money for him, then he is certainly willing and able to act in a manner which maximizes his material benefits. Thus he is perfectly willing to take a certain action which benefits him materially – voting for a certain politician – and he is willing to forego other pleasures in order to perform that action. Thus it is hard to understand Ralph’s logic. How can he simultaneously be unable to make choices which benefit his own long-term interest (study instead of party) and yet also able to act to benefit it (vote for income distribution from Bobby to himself). The truth of the matter is that Ralph’s ‘value threshold’ is just very low. To gain a thousand dollars, he will cast a vote, but not work weekends for a month. To gain a million dollars, he will buy a lottery ticket, but not work eighty-hour weeks for five years building a company. Thus the difference between Bobby and Ralph is a difference in degree, not in kind. Both perform actions to maximize their self interest. And so how can anyone disagree with such a personal decision as to how much work a certain gain is worth?

It is very important to understand the vast and subjective array of ‘values’ that exist in society – there are, in fact, as many value combinations as there are human beings. The time that I have spent writing this article is time that can never be applied to the pursuit of any other goal. Thus to compare value choices is largely meaningless. If I choose to write this article rather than eat or clean my bathrooms, what is the point of my complaining that I am hungry and my bathrooms are dirty? The list of things that I can complain about being undone is almost infinite in length. All that I am confirming is that, when I choose to do one thing, I am also choosing to refrain from doing everything else. It’s scarcely a breathtaking revelation. Thus the idea of rewarding or punishing me for the choices that I have made – assuming I have not used force – is entirely irrational and destructive. And that is the central reason why the State always descends into a malevolent cancer of caustic self-destruction. Irrationality always seeks out and supports violence; violence in turn extends and supports irrationality, until the end comes. It is probably too late for us to avert the end, and so we must be content to merely be instrumental in creating a new and wiser beginning.