These opinions warrantied for the lifetime of your brain.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Susan Hogarth's Spine

To Susan Hogarth
Susan, I wrote about "spinal reflexes and phantom limbs" on TPW yesterday before you wrote that "the LP needs to grow a spine".  Anyone who's followed any of our past discussions can decide for himself whether I'm under any illusion that you are an attentive reader of my arguments against LP radicalism.  If you don't like your metaphors ricocheting back at you, well, you should pay more attention to where you aim them.
It's understandable why you find it "annoying" to reveal whether you consider the fundamental principle of libertarianism to be 1) absolute abstention from force initiation vs. 2) actively opposing and minimizing force initiation.  After all, it's only the core argument I've been making for the last three years against deontological radicals like you.  I'll drop the pretense that I don't know which of these two positions you take, if you drop the pretense that you haven't already taken it.  (You can also drop the pretense that you don't know what words like "consequentialist" and "deontological" mean.  So much for the Radical Caucus mission of "educating LP members about the Party's core principles".  Educator, educate thyself.)  You told us here on March 4 that you are not
SH) an omniscient being who could See All and Know All and understand perfectly the interplay between cause-and-effect perfectly – oh, and who could predict how individual humans with their supposedly free will would react as well.  [...] I’m afraid my Magic 8 Ball isn’t good enough for that sort of moral calculus, so I’ll have to content myself with trying not to aggress at all. [...] I can only strive to add a “+1” to the non-aggressors column, and convince others to join me. (SH
Only a month later, you completely flip-flopped when you published your Radical Caucus Key Points document saying: "there is no essential separation between rights and utilitarianism - that is, the morally correct choice will always yield the most benefit for the greatest number of people."  (Hint: for the purposes of this discussion, you can treat "utilitarianism" and "consequentialism" as synonyms.)   It seems that you are a fair-weather utilitarian, and I'm your own personal rain cloud.  :-)
Interestingly, the ellipses in your words above were precisely the same red-herring smear you wheel out against me now: the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  I'll just cut and paste below my rebuttal from last year that you've never attempted to answer, but first some observations.
1) It's, um, interesting for your Key Points document to say that "hiding or abandoning our principled positions is ineffective", and then desperately grasp for any excuse for you, "Murray Rothbard's intellectual love child", not to answer whether you agree with Rothbard that parents should have a legal right to starve their own children.  Do you "hold high the banner" of principle, or not?
2) My position is that unique historical circumstances created a forced choice to attack "a major supply and logistics base for a militarized society completely mobilized in support of a war of territorial conquest and racist genocide".  Your characterization of "deliberate slaughter" of "cities full of civilians" is inaccurate and unfair -- but par for the TPW course these days.
3) Truman's was a forced choice in 1945 under a unique one-time set of historical circumstances that have never been, and will never be, repeated.  By contrast, somewhere in America an abusive parent subjects a child to mortal neglect probably every day.  As a declared wanna-be Advertising and Publications Review Committee censor, you either have the spine to tell delegates where you stand on this topic, or you don't.  I'm sure we're all quite impressed that you have the spine to oppose the "deliberate slaughter" of "cities full of civilians".
4) Invoking my position on Hiroshima is a clumsy red herring, as I am not running for office in Denver, and so my personal positions and judgments do not need delegate scrutiny -- even though I'm flattered about any I receive, and always happy to answer it.  I predict that you'll still be leaning on this Hiroshima red herring all the way through Denver, and will very likely feature it in printed handouts that attack me personally as weak substitute for criticizing the Platform Committee's proposal.  If you do, then I will get to brag about how well my "Crystal Ball" works.
My position on Hiroshima is the same as my position on the Trolley Problem or the ticking-nuclear-terrorist-time-bomb or any other forced-choice lifeboat thought experiment.  It is this: the moral agent should do what he thinks is right under the circumstances, and then turn himself in to face possible trial by a jury of his peers.  I absolutely oppose any legislation authorizing anyone, especially agents of the State, to have legal carte blanche to decide to kill one innocent in order to save even one billion innocents.  That is a question for a jury, not for a legislature or an executive.
I repeat the argument that I would make to Truman's jury:
The citizens of Hiroshima were living in a major supply and logistics base for a militarized society completely mobilized in support of a war of territorial conquest and racist genocide.  In addition to all the Japanese troops and civilians whose lives were saved by not having to invade the imperial homeland, the bombing also stopped the deaths of over 100,000 Asian noncombatants each month living under Japanese conquest -- as well as the lives of hundreds of allied prisoners under orders to be executed upon invasion.  The atomic bombings killed about 200K Japanese.  The projected fatalities for invading Japan included hundreds of thousands of Americans, and over a million Japanese. Leaving Japan alone would have been better for people in North Carolina, maybe -- at least those whose primary concern is their clean hands.   Not so good, however, for the hundreds of thousands of slave laborers controlled by the Japanese, or the tens of thousands of "comfort women" abducted from Korea and China for use in Japanese army brothels.  Not so good, especially, for the roughly 100K Asian non-combatants who were dying each month under Japanese military occupation, joining the six to ten million Asians that had already been slaughtered by Japanese aggression.  See the Wikipedia article Japanese_war_crimes if you can stomach further details.