These opinions warrantied for the lifetime of your brain.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Opposition to X vs. absolute abstinence from X

Starchild wrote:

SC) You seem to demand that the NAP must either be absolutely perfect or be completely discarded (SC

You yourself admit that there are situations in which absolute abstinence from so-called force initiation is inadvisable, and all I'm doing is advocating that we not formally pretend such situations never exist.

Furthermore, every single one of the cases in which I advocate what a Rothbardian would call "aggression" are in fact situations in which I'm trying to protect individual rights against aggression:

  • enforcing a due-process-observing monopoly on retaliatory force;
  • protecting the right of the accused to subpoena witnesses;
  • policing of forms of aggression (e.g. pollution) too distributed and cumulative to allow tort-based prevention;
  • collection of the ground rent of exclusively-possessed land, in order to compensate those unjustly excluded from it and finance the protection of life, liberty, and property.
To pretend that opposition to aggression isn't my most fundamental political principle would be to admit that my actual positions are too libertarian for you to argue against.
SC) I think you're misrepresenting me a little bit here. [...]  I  don't have any problem with someone "formally" admitting the same --  I simply don't make the jump from there to the notion that the LP should cease to promote the Non-Aggression Principle. (SC
I've never said that the LP should not have as its fundamental principle the idea that aggression is undesirable.  To pretend otherwise would be simply dishonest.
SC) Yet even though the tub is practically empty, you urge us to throw  the baby out with the bathwater. (SC
Not true.  Please stop making stuff up about what I advocate.
SC) It's as if you were saying in response to the Christian admonition to "love thy neighbor," that since we can identify instances when this is  unrealistic or one would do better not to behave in such a fashion, that Christian churches should no longer preach the doctrine. (SC
Yawn.  Wake me when you stop making stuff up about what I advocate.
SC) If opposition to aggression is your most fundamental political principle, then you should applaud and welcome the teaching,  promotion, and emphasis of that principle within the party (SC
I DO.  You're simply conflating 1) advocating OPPOSITION to aggression and 2) advocating ABSOLUTE ABSTINENCE from aggression.  I've been trying for almost three years to get you to face this distinction, and I'm out of ideas for how to get you to notice it.  Here are two more attempts:
1) I dare you to say "If one doesn't advocate absolute abstinence from X, then one cannot claim to oppose X."  If you can't say this, then I don't see where you're disagreeing with me.
2) Needles cause pain.  Doctors use needles.  Do you conclude that doctors do not have a fundamental goal of minimizing pain?
SC) to give up on the goal of a free society in which the amount of force-initiation over a period of time is as low as 
possible. (SC
Minimizing the incidence of force-initiation **IS** the goal that I **ALWAYS** argue for against ZAPsolutists -- who instead argue for absolute abstinence from force-initiation, regardless of the (allegedly unpredictable) consequences in terms of an increased amount of force-initiation.  I wrote to you in Sep 2005:
I dispute your apparent premise that the Non-Aggression Principle (or Zero-Aggression Principle) is the essence of libertarianism. I would say that the essence of libertarianism is the Anti-Aggression Principle, which says that the role and incidence of aggression in society is to be minimized. (This is precisely equivalent to saying the role and incidence of liberty in society are to be maximized.)
As far as I can tell, our only real difference is hinted at by your comment here:
SC) You also leave out the caveat that I think that accepting the initiation of force should always be seen as a less-than-ideal outcome, a human failure  to come up with acceptable alternatives that do not require the NAP to be violated, and that we should never stop looking for alternatives to force-initiation for those circumstances which seem to demand it. (SC
I actually agree with every word of this as well.  Like you, I wish that force-initiation didn't exist and that the strong never preyed on the weak and that rational self-interested agents didn't tend to consume/congest/pollute the commons and that every child had a pony.  I guess we just disagree about how realistic such wishes are.
You wrote to Kevin:
SC) I had you pegged as one of the LP members wanting to abandon the Non-Aggression Principle. From your response, and what you've written below, I see I was mistaken. (SC
You're mistaken about me, too.  From what you and Kevin have written here in the last 72 hours, I no longer have any evidence that the three of us have any substantive difference whatsoever in the principle we advocate concerning aggression.