Once upon a time, one of the more popular atheist sites on the web was The Raving Atheist. Then the blogger became the raving anti-abortionist, and most of his readership left — they even set up an independent forum where they could continue their discussions without the weirdo in charge of the blog butting in (uh-oh…I just gave you all an idea, didn’t I?).
Anyway, now the process of conversion is complete. Say goodbye to the Raving Atheist.
There’s an interesting analysis of the process of deconversion to be made here. I suspect he’s been getting a lot of personal support and attention from Christians actively interested in converting him over the years, and it’s that emotional massaging that convinced him to throw his brain out the window.
(Via the Raving Atheists Forum)
I don’t know. Do you in fact lick boots?
Sorry. I love off-handed, flippant comments a bit too much. What I meant to say was that I didn’t use those adjectives without thinking about them. Taxes are confiscated. Resources are redistributed (it’s a term). Regulations are, indeed must be, arbitrary and often are irrelevant; how can a law take into account each person’s individual circumstances? And “ill-considered” referred to the fact that laws are debated and passed by human beings who are not always as intelligent as we might wish, and are less pure than such an undertaking might ideally require.
And if you lick boots, then you’re a bootlicker.
Before this gets much farther off-topic, we should decide whether this is the proper venue for this argument. PZ says OK, I stay; he says “take it outside,” I stop. Good with everyone?
Sven DiMilo says
For the record, I do not, in fact, lick boots.
Nick Gotts, OM says
it’s you bootlickers who worship your governments who really take the cake – jcr
Your “worship the government” claim is as far from reality as most of what you say. Perhaps you would care to look back at what I have said about the current US, UK and other governments – particularly their wars, my frequently expressed contempt and hatred for Leninism, and apologise for this gross falsehood – I won’t call it a lie because I believe your religion prevents you recognising the truth.
Although I no longer call myself an anarchist, my views are very close to SCs, as you would have noticed if you were capable of removing your head from your fundament. Governments are, to a large extent, tools of the powerful within a given society. In capitalist societies, this means they are to that large extent tools of big business. In countries where there are reasonably free and fair elections, freedom of expression and so forth, they are obliged to take note of the views and interests of the population as a whole. It is plain fact that legislation, and other government action, can benefit people at large – as indeed, can markets. Your inability to see this is simply a symptom of your religious fanaticism, which is every bit as dangerous as that of the creationists.
On the contrary, libertarians want to remove as many of the removable obstacles to everyone’s wealth and well-being as possible. We consider central planning such an obstacle because it cannot be fair and beneficial to every individual at the same time. Only free association and free agreements between free and equal individuals, without arbitrary and confiscatory policies, can approach that ideal. – speedwell
There is actually little explicitly stated here I would disagree with. Where I disagree is, first, that central planning – assuming by that you mean a top-down, command economy – is the only alternative to market-worship; second, the obvious point (or it should be obvious) that once there are large differences in wealth, we are not dealing with “free and equal individuals”; third, the rhetorical flourish of “confiscatory”: unless you are an anarcho-capitalist, you believe taxation is justified for some purposes.
In fact, libertarians believe that people in need would be likelier to be helped by private charity, and those charities would be more likely to exist if the people who ran them and donated to them weren’t burdened by confiscatory, redistributionary, government taxes and hobbled by arbitrary, irrelevant, and ill-considered regulations. -speedwell
Private charity has never, anywhere, come anything like close to abolishing poverty in a society. Collective, tax-funded provision, has – notably in Scandanavia. This is exactly the sort of garbage I was referring to – you prefer your precious “principles” – if one can so describe opposition to taxation – to the real needs of living people.
Finally, I find it massively interesting that you claim not to believe in gods, but you do believe in sin. – speedwell
I don’t agree with ‘Tis Himself here.
Incidentally, speedwell, let me put to you the questions I posed to jcr, and which he answered so inadequately. How would the market have prevented the destruction of the ozone layer? How will it produce the radical cuts in greenhouse climate scientists say are necessary to halt anthropogenic climate change?
Patricia, OM says
Sven – I’ll bet a quarter you lick toes.
brokensoldier, OM says
That’s a great display of the libertarian veneration of and fixation on the individual – regulation cannot and should not be tailored to each individual they will eventually affect. Regulations are designed not for individuals, but for an industry or society as a whole in order to even the playing field as much as possible and protect whole classes of individuals.
And if taxes are always “redistributionary,” and you don’t like things that are redistributive, I assume you think taxes should be done away with? While I agree that our tax system needs an overhaul, to believe that we should do away with all taxes is impractical and would be severely detrimental to both the government, and individuals all across the nation. While the ones who currently have the wealth and prosperity they need, those who do not enjoy that kind of security depend – to varying degrees – on the types of benefits that taxes make possible.
If the last eight years have taught us nothing, they should have shown us that government is not the problem – corrupt and unresponsive government is the problem. And if you don’t want the government to take away the tools for individual betterment, your disdain for taxes – again – is misplaced.
And there is quite a difference between a government staying out of its individual citizens’ lives and a government staying out of its nation’s corporate and industrial sectors. To suggest otherwise is to conflate the two, and such conflation is yet another display of your form of libertarian fixation on the individual at the expense of an apt consideration of the larger overall picture. The former is desirable, the latter is detrimental – especially to individuals working for those entities who expect fair and decent treatment. Contrary to your notions, giving business a free hand will lead directly to a deterioration in the rights of the worker, because time and time again corporations and other businesses have proven that the dollar is at the top of their priority list, and they will favor it over all else, to include their own employees’ best interests.
And which police training course did you sit through, audit, or otherwise evaluate to come up with that nugget of knowledge? Besides the fact that citizens are “civilians,” exactly where did you get that all, or even a slight majority of police officers are trained to think of citizens as adversaries? That, to me, sounds exactly like a red herring argument that may be true in the cases of some police officers as a result of any number of flaws in those individuals, but inaccurate when discussing the general methodology of police training.
That is a statement of advocacy for pure majority rule, rights of the minorities be damned. If there is no governmental authority, what is to stop unscrupulous individuals from using your principles to justify removing rights from certain classes of people who are viewed by a majority of a society to be less worthy of respect and liberty than themselves? The plain fact is that until there are no such people in the world, there will be the need for some sort of publicly supervised oversight of the nation and its different segments, be they industry, medicine, etc… That will definitely never come to pass, so regulation is a necessary tool for fairness, safety, and protection. And since there is only one institution – the government – in which all citizens have a direct voice, that is necessarily the institution that is charged with the creation and maintenance of such regulation.
Nick Gotts, OM says
Police officers carry guns and are trained to think of citizens as “civilians” and adversaries, just like they would if they were soldiers occupying hostile territory. – speedwell
If you’ve been following this blog recently, you’ll have seen me complaining about the trigger-happy behaviour of some members of the London (“Metropolitan”) Police in Britain; I’m far from dismissing concerns about their role. Mostly, of course, British police don’t carry guns, and I hope we’ll keep it that way. I’ve myself been arrested and questioned for “trespassing” on a US military base in Britain; bitten by a police dog while trying to prevent the unloading of illegally-logged Brazilian timber; stopped and harassed on my way to demonstrations, etc.. On the other hand, if my house gets burgled, or I see someone being attacked by more or larger thugs than I could deal with (assuming they are not themselves police), who do you advise I call – my local “libertarian”? Typically, you talk as if the state were the only possible oppressor, which is, quite simply, tosh.
David Marjanović, OM says
I find this religious wording — which hasn’t appeared in Pharyngula comments by libertarians for the first time here! — very telling. It comes across as “we don’t even get the idea that we could try some empiricism; instead, we arbitrarily declare it an axiom that private charity would be more effective and then build on that”. Is that what you wanted to say…?
As often, when empiricism is applied, it turns out that assumptions which appeared oh so logical and self-evident are flat-out wrong; comment 505 gives concrete examples.
And how about effective? How many million people can you help?
It doesn’t need to — and the funny thing is that you agree that the market doesn’t need to care either!
It merely needs to consider its own long-term self-interest: if it helps people in an effective and sustainable way, it will much more likely be reelected than otherwise. It’s just like how corporations will go out of business if they keep producing trash — assuming there’s any competition, and (returning from the metaphor) assuming the government can be fired.
Just for the record, I don’t. However, I don’t have a problem with the term “evil”. My favorite example is that commenting on a thread without having read all previous comments is evil and — if it could be controlled, which it can’t — should be forbidden.
That’s why democracy is important. In a democracy, you can hire governments, and you can fire governments; you can even correct your own hiring mistakes.
Much like how competition is important in the market, so you can buy another company’s products if the ones of the company you previously bought from turn out to be trash.
We own the government. We have hired it to do a couple of specific jobs that none of us (juridical persons) can do alone. It works for us (or else it gets fired). The government is no longer King George III far away across the ocean; it is your employee.
'Tis Himself says
Since many of Speedwell’s whines have been answered, I’m going to respond to this comment:
One of the accusations that theists throw at atheists is “you have no basis for morality.” Most atheists, including me, deny this accusation and explain that we do have moralities. Part of morality is recognizing the difference between good and evil.
Quite often, when Catholics show up here, we throw the “your church actively aids and abets pedophile rapists” sneer at them. Why should we care about members of an organization do to each other? Because we recognize that child rape is evil. It’s immoral. An organization that claims to possess moral leadership should not be supporting immorality. This support of immorality is itself immoral.
Like most normal people (i.e., non-libertarians), I’m dismayed and disgusted by displays of immorality. To me, one of the greatest evils is to view other people as things rather than people. This is what I was referring to as “sin.” The Catholic Church’s hypocrisy toward pedophile priests is another example of sin. The concept of sin does not need a religious justification, just a moral one.
But only selected individuals–if you’re a poor Appalachian who doesn’t want corporations leaking thallium into the river near your home, libertarians don’t give a flying fuck what you think.
'Tis Himself says
Libertarians argue that radical permissiveness, like legalizing drugs, would not shred a libertarian society because drug users who caused trouble would be disciplined by the threat of losing their jobs or homes if current laws that make it difficult to fire or evict people were abolished. They claim a “natural order” of reasonable behavior would emerge. But there is no actual empirical proof that this would happen. Furthermore, this means libertarianism is an all-or-nothing proposition: if society continues to protect people from the consequences of their actions in any way, libertarianism regarding specific freedoms is illegitimate. And since society does so protect people, libertarianism is an illegitimate moral position until the Great Libertarian Revolution has occurred.
Is society really wrong to protect people against the negative consequences of some of their free choices? While it is obviously fair to let people enjoy the benefits of their wise choices and suffer the costs of their stupid ones, decent societies set limits on both these outcomes. People are allowed to become millionaires, but they are taxed. They are allowed to go broke, but they are not then forced to starve. They are deprived of the most extreme benefits of freedom in order to spare us the most extreme costs. The libertopian alternative would be perhaps a more glittering society, but also a crueler one.
Empirically, most people don’t actually want absolute freedom, which is why democracies don’t elect libertarian governments. Irony of ironies, people don’t choose absolute freedom. But this refutes libertarianism by its own premise, as libertarianism defines the good as the freely chosen, yet people do not choose it. Paradoxically, people exercise their freedom not to be libertarians.
The political corollary of this is that since no electorate will support libertarianism, a libertarian government could never be achieved democratically but would have to be imposed by some kind of authoritarian state, which rather puts the lie to libertarians’ claim that under any other philosophy, busybodies who claim to know what’s best for other people impose their values on the rest of us. Libertarianism itself is based on the conviction that it is the one true political philosophy and all others are false. It entails imposing a certain kind of society, with all its attendant pluses and minuses, which the inhabitants thereof will not be free to opt out of except by leaving.
If libertarians ever do acquire power, we may expect a farrago of bizarre policies. Many support abolition of government-issued money in favor of that minted by private banks. But this has already been tried, in various epochs, and doesn’t lead to any wonderful paradise of freedom but only to an explosion of fraud and currency debasement followed by the concentration of financial power in those few banks that survive the inevitable shaking-out. Many other libertarian schemes similarly founder on the empirical record.
A major reason for this is that libertarianism has a naïve view of economics that seems to have stopped paying attention to the actual history of capitalism around 1880. There is not the space here to refute simplistic laissez faire, but note for now that the second-richest nation in the world, Japan, has one of the most regulated economies, while nations in which government has essentially lost control over economic life, like Somalia and Russia, are hardly economic paradises. Legitimate criticism of over-regulation does not entail going to the opposite extreme.
Libertarian naïveté extends to politics. They often confuse the absence of government impingement upon freedom with freedom as such. But without a sufficiently strong state, individual freedom falls prey to other more powerful individuals. A weak state and a freedom-respecting state are not the same thing, as shown by many a chaotic Third-World tyranny.
Libertarianism has a lot to say about freedom but little about learning to handle it. Freedom without judgment is dangerous at best, useless at worst. Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving a theory of how to use freedom well because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal, which it cannot abandon except at the cost of admitting that there are other goods than freedom.
brokensoldier, OM says
Exactly. It seems that speedwell’s version of libertarianism ignores those that do not enjoy the level of comfort and security necessary to live autonomously, free from the assistance that government programs provide. In short, it is snobbery and class division hiding behind a dishonest political viewpoint that purports to speak for all individuals, when in all actuality it speaks only for those who are in their in-group already, whether socially, financially, or otherwise.
@ brokensoldier, OM
Is that why every Libertarian I have come across is a well off white male?
John Phillips, FCD says
spurge, pretty much, or at least already have all the trappings so they may as well be.
There is one thing I have always wondered.
Would libertarians be OK with a one time total redistribution of all wealth and resources in exchange for a libertarian world?
HA HA HA!
This is hilarious. I heard about this guy when he started blogging about me a few weeks ago, and I knew his blog was bullshit as an atheist forum when everyone there was prolife (Oh, and some praying for me).
Not that you can’t be prolife and atheist, but his sort of vehemence can only come from believing a fertilized egg has a soul.
brokensoldier, OM says
Posted by: spurge | December 27, 2008 3:54 PM
Probably so. I’d imagine that anyone not so well-off who espouses individual freedom and justice would simply call themselves a liberal. Not because they’re the same thing, mind you, but instead because they actually mean what they’re actually saying, instead of cloaking their intentions with lofty yet thinly veiled exclusionary rhetoric.
I wish we could have fewer threads derailed by libertarians.
It all boils down to two simple assertions. Government is always bad and the market is always good. That and their visceral hatred of all taxes.
How can you debate people who think in such black and white terms.
'Tis Himself says
I have met a female libertarian but they are a sparse breed. I have never met a poor libertarian.
brokensoldier, OM says
Easy – just talk in shades of gray. It might not be productive, but it sure is fun watching points and arguments fly right over their heads. Hey, if you’re not going to change their minds, you might as well have some fun! ;)
I can certainly see how all the regulars who post here have fun with that.
I am not very good at writing but I do find it fun to read other peoples posts.
I guess that is why I lurk far more often than I post.
I am a female libertarian, and I was a libertarian during a period of my life when I was actually homeless, refusing welfare and government services, and offering services (cleaning, cooking, child care, and secretarial) in exchange for lodging, food, and clothing. I’m also white, and if that’s a crime I suppose I’m guilty. Does being Jewish mitigate that sufficiently?
Other than answering the nasty ad-hominems above, I don’t propose to help you derail the thread anymore, unless you and Dr. Myers insist.
I’m sure you understand, however, that none of those anecdotes are actually data that support your assertions.
I’d be much more interested in seeing you answer David’s question above regarding what empirical evidence you can supply to support what you claim libertarians “believe”, as well as how you reconcile those beliefs with empirical evidence to the contrary.
I’m specifically interested in the mechanisms of how libertarianism/market forces can keep thallium out of the water table before a spill happens, as compared to only paying damages afterward.
'Tis Himself says
A common tactic with libertarians. Throw criticisms of their ideology at them, as I did in post #512, and they retrieve their spheroid and retire to their domicile.
Doc Smartass says
According to Wikipedia’s page on “The God Who Wasn’t There”
The following only appear on the DVD’s commentary track:
* Richard Dawkins is an eminent British evolutionary biologist and popular science writer. His best-selling books include The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, and The God Delusion. Dawkins is a staunch atheist and an established critic of creationism.
* Earl Doherty is a modern pioneer of the Jesus Myth theory. His 1999 book The Jesus Puzzle lays out evidence for a mythical Christ.
* The Raving Atheist is a lawyer and atheist blogger read widely in the blogosphere.
Pity his brain threw a rod.
I’m ashamed to say that 4 years ago I was trying to convert him. We actually sent some emails back and forth for a while. I was thinking about e-mailing him to tell him how I deconverted… but I guess he wouldn’t appreciate it now.
Nick Gotts says
Other than answering the nasty ad-hominems above, I don’t propose to help you derail the thread anymore, unless you and Dr. Myers insist. – speedwell
“She bravely turned her tail and fled!”
Fled? I think I said I would stay if PZ said stay and take this elsewhere if he preferred. It was someone else who claimed that libertarian talk was “derailing the thread.” Don’t crow on your dunghill quite yet.
OK, I’m going to try to answer some of the questions raised here. If the questions feel like attacks to me, I suppose that’s how you meant them. I would have expected no less in this forum, lol…
Nick @505: you first.
“…unless you are an anarcho-capitalist, you believe taxation is justified for some purposes.” Yes, I am an anarcho-capitalist, since it seems to me to be the most consistent and honest of the various libertarian viewpoints. I don’t see any difference between you declaring that you need my money for some “good cause” and arranging to have it withdrawn it from my paycheck without my explicit consent in the form of a transaction for which I owe a legitimate purchase debt, and “society” doing the same thing. I don’t agree that there is some sense in which the government has more right to my work and my property than I do. I do think that when someone else has the right to dispose of my person and my property without my consent, my liberty is compromised to that extent. If I explicitly agree that a certain cause is justified (including the cause of “running the state”) and I choose knowledgeably and voluntarily to contribute to it, then I may agree to contribute to it, either on my own or in conjunction with a group. In that sense, it wouldn’t be a “tax,” it would be a bill I’ve agreed to pay. But I think there are ideological inconsistencies with the notion that liberty and property ownership is compatible with arbitrary default taxation. Can you reconcile those two things?
“…you prefer your precious ‘principles’ – if one can so describe opposition to taxation – to the real needs of living people.” What, you don’t think principles are precious? Hmm, OK, I’ll try to keep that in mind… in any event, as I said, I would not be a libertarian if I didn’t believe that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” I have been in need myself… I’ve been destitute and homeless… and I have been singularly unimpressed with the bureaucratic nightmare surrounding the provision of services. I understand there are limited resources and seemingly unlimited needs, but that does not automatically exonerate the government for doing a poor job, and it absolutely imposes a responsibility on government to monitor its own staff and internal processes to eliminate delay, waste, and inefficiency. I don’t have to claim that private charity would completely eliminate poverty. I haven’t heard of any proposed solution that will do that (and I’d like to see you try). I only need to claim that private charity will do a better job than government will, and that is what I do claim. (It’s at least possible, I think, that local (village level) governments, the kind that can operate with less arbitrariness and more consent, may do even better in some locations, but in others it will not be up to the task.) Private charity that attempts to operate under circumstances where the government has first crack at everyone’s money is not a good counterexample. For private charities to work as intended, private individuals need to be able to choose which charities to support, and to be able to do so as a tax alternative, not as a tax supplement. US citizens are, by and large, surprisingly generous even with their shortened paychecks. I see no reason to suppose that they would be less generous if they were allowed to decide where their money should be spent.
“Collective, tax-funded provision, has [nearly eliminated poverty] – notably in Scand[i]navia.” It has? Super, let’s go to Nigeria and implement it there. Oh, Nigeria is different and it won’t work there? Why not, do you suppose? Could it be that there are more important factors at work here, for example, having a large and productive base of citizens who have sufficient wealth to tax heavily? How do you suppose those Scandinavians got prosperous in the first place? Whose wealth did their taxes redistribute to them? How did those wealthy people make their wealth? They can’t all have inherited it, been celebrity sports figures, or won lotteries. I don’t know a lot of Scandinavians (I know a few Norwegians) but the ones I know think that the successes of their system (and there are many) draw attention from the failures (and there are many of those, too).
“How would the market have prevented the destruction of the ozone layer? How will it produce the radical cuts in greenhouse climate scientists say are necessary to halt anthropogenic climate change?” How will your proposed solution do this? How is the current government doing this? The market is what is doing it now, to the extent it can still be done, and would do it better if the government didn’t enact asinine and counterproductive measures for the short-term benefit of polluters. In the absence of government pressure to suppress unpopular views, would scientists be better able to research and disseminate the issues, or less able? Do you really suppose government is likelier to listen to scientists than to big business? People believe that the government will protect them from the abuses of big business polluters. This is what you appear to believe, as well. In the largest, most egregious cases of polluting, we find exactly the opposite. We find government supporting the businesses that are the worst offenders, and suppressing the data and the efforts of those who are trying to oppose the offenses. Please don’t say out of one side of your mouth that the government will protect us, and then say out of the other that corrupt and unscientific elements in the government are making the problem worse. Governments are composed of politicians who serve the interests of the most powerful. That’s how it’s always been. I invite you to invent a plausible government that isn’t. (Democracy doesn’t count; it simply redefines “the big guy” whose rights and interests are being protected as “the majority,” and “the little guy” whose rights and interests are being at best ignored as the “minority.”)
More of the same libertarian tripe.
Government always bad market always good.
Plus the usual unsupported assertions.
Plus this gem proving my point about the inability of libertarians to think in terms other than black and white.
“Please don’t say out of one side of your mouth that the government will protect us, and then say out of the other that corrupt and unscientific elements in the government are making the problem worse.”
You clearly don’t understand that both of these things can happen.
When we elect people who want to make government work it will when we elect libertarians we get the aftermath of Katrina.
brokensoldier @ 507: Glad to see you posting, I hadn’t seen you much lately and I wondered what happened. I don’t read every single comment section so I might just have missed you. Let’s see how I can fare with your criticisms:
“Regulations are designed not for individuals, but for an industry or society as a whole in order to even the playing field as much as possible and protect whole classes of individuals.” How are you going to even a playing field unless you impinge on the rights of certain individuals and privilege certain others? You cannot ignore the fact that “classes” do not and cannot make decisions and act as a group. The individuals within the group make the decisions and do the actions. It’s convenient to take an average and then assign that to the group as a whole, but that is actually a fallacy. (If my neighborhood has a birthrate per individual of a certain number, for example, that does not mean my boyfriend will give birth to approximately that many babies.) Your notion that the rights of “whole classes” can be protected ignores the individual needs of the members of that class. You are doing the same thing that people complain about when they say libertarians ignore the needs of the needy minority.
…that we should do away with all taxes is impractical and would be severely detrimental to both the government, and individuals all across the nation. While the ones who currently have the wealth and prosperity they need, those who do not enjoy that kind of security depend – to varying degrees – on the types of benefits that taxes make possible. That’s what they said about slavery in the South, that it was impractical to do away with because the whole economic health of the society depended on it–and they were correct, it did. I don’t recall anyone in modern times claiming that the Civil War failed to destroy their system and impoverish all of its citizens for an extended period. Yes, the Civil War was a government action, but it has been shown that market forces were beginning to make the system impractical anyway. Slavery was becoming increasingly odious to educated people, and cheaper cotton was becoming increasingly available from other countries. The plantation system of the South would not have lasted. The War was over secession, not slavery–the slaves were basically freed in order to weaken the South and make it more tractable to other government interventions, not necessarily because it was the right and noble thing to do. (I do think that eliminating slavery was necessary and right, by the way; all people have the absolute right to liberty and the management of their own affairs without infringement by outsiders who pretend to have first claim on their life and their money. I’m just pointing out that people who oppose economic liberty reforms on the ground of “not practical” are the same sorts of cowards as the defenders of Southern slavery.)
“…government is not the problem – corrupt and unresponsive government is the problem. I suppose, while criticizing libertarianism for being an impractical utopianism, you think you can propose a system government free from corrupt and unresponsive elements? Libertarianism, because it reduces reliance on governments, reduces the likelihood that any corruption and incompetence can affect citizens. The real utopian is the person who pretends that governments, made up of politicians whose personal interests must often directly conflict with the interests of the governed, can consistently protect the interests of the governed.
“…giving business a free hand will lead directly to a deterioration in the rights of the worker…” Libertarians consider this a violation of liberty like any other. While castigating government for coercion and fraudulent practices, we don’t obtusely leave room for businesses (or individuals) to engage in force and fraud also. If I steal property or time from you, or renege on a contract, or collude with others to do so, then I am at fault. If a business does so, or a government does so, then they are also at fault. Businesses commit fraud in this way because the worker has value to them (otherwise there would be nothing to steal). There are many ways in which workers can retaliate against a business that engages in these practices. They can, for example, take their expertise and productivity to a competitor, or take part in the creation of a competing business. They can, for another example, advertise the abuses and encourage customers to take their business elsewhere. These remedies, among others, are much more powerful and useful when the government is not engaged in colluding with business owners against the interests of the employees. A business where the owners and employees are in conflict is sick, anyway. For any business to remain profitable and productive, the owners and the employees need to cooperate with each other in making the enterprise a success. That’s not libertarianism, it’s just good elementary business practices.
“…exactly where did you get that all, or even a slight majority of police officers are trained to think of citizens as adversaries?” I live in Houston. I have acquaintances who are cops, and are trying to be decent cops, but the culture of their job prevents them from doing this as much as they would like. There are two sorts of training, official and unofficial. The official trainers mostly pretend that the trainees are to protect the rights of “law abiding” citizens, however they define this, and the definitions can get pretty elastic. Mostly it means “obedient and cooperative.” Unofficially, the practice is as I’ve said, and “training” is done in the station, by the job culture, and on the job while working. The telltale word “civilian” shows you I have a point. As a soldier yourself, you know that police officers are themselves “civilians” in reality since they are not military. To view themselves as soldiers, they must view themselves as being in a war. War is hell and all means of subduing “the enemy” are justified. Since when did citizens become “the enemy?” I’m astonished to hear that you deny such a state of affairs exists. I’m interested in hearing what you think a viable solution should be, other than making police directly answerable to the citizens whose rights they are supposed to protect, rather than allowing them to become rogue mercenary forces at the beck and call of politicians in power.
That is a statement of advocacy for pure majority rule, rights of the minorities be damned. How in the hell did you get that out of what you quoted? Go back and read it again, please.
Nick @ 508: “Mostly, of course, British police don’t carry guns, and I hope we’ll keep it that way.”
How’s that working out for you, when crime is notoriously on the rise and all the criminals have the guns?
“…if my house gets burgled, or I see someone being attacked by more or larger thugs than I could deal with (assuming they are not themselves police), who do you advise I call – my local libertarian?” Corrected that quote misuse for you; my correction strengthens your statement. Except for giving the citizens the means to protect themselves against crimes in progress, only micromanaging oversight has the best chance of completely preventing crime from happening, short of keeping the entire nation under permanent sedation, and only then if it is implemented properly. There are lots of cameras in London right now. Are they successful in stopping crime where they are planted? I actually lived in a medium-sized town where every household was legally required to have a firearm for home protection (Kennesaw, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta). Did every household have one? Could they all be used effectively? Decidedly not; the police did not go to each house to make sure the law was obeyed, and not everyone went to a training class. I was an underage college student in an apartment off campus with three students from other countries, and we did not have one. Nevertheless, there were enough citizens who did have them and could use them to deter crime in the town. The number of home burglaries and murders in the town each year I was there were each in the single digits, I understand, unlike the neighboring towns and vastly unlike the city. Gun violence and suicides by guns did not exceed the average level for the country.
“…you talk as if the state were the only possible oppressor…” Well, of course we all know that it is not. I thought that would go without saying, but in your overstrain to find things criticize, you had to go and make up something I did not say. We do know that the state can be an oppressor, and when it is, it can be the worst one imaginable. (My father lived in Hungary during the Revolution and under Communism, and he had a lot of stories to tell. My mother’s family is Jewish and from Russia and they, too, have a lot of stories to tell. Both own guns for personal protection and to potentially protect themselves and their neighbors from “door knocks in the night,” even though they are not, by and large, libertarians.) You yourself called the government “corrupt and unresponsive,” but you seem to be advocating that the citizens have no means of protecting themselves from criminals until the police get there, if they ever do, and if they can effectively protect you against criminals with guns when they do, since they are also disarmed. It’s that “level playing field” you mentioned.
'Tis Himself says
Now I know speedwell is in Never Neverland, where reality is an unwelcome guest. But she’s an anarcho-capitalist libertarian, the wackiest of the wackos, so her relationship with the real world is quite tangential. (Yes, that’s an ad hominem. It’s also true.)
If governments hadn’t stopped CFC production, it would still be going on. CFCs are efficient and cheap refrigerants so there’d be no reason for “the market” to use anything else. It took the government to stop CFC production and use because there was no incentive for corporations to do so.
It’s the same thing with other forms of pollution. The Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so polluted it caught on fire periodically. After the establishment of the EPA (both federal and state) and passing of the Clean Water Act and similar legislation, the Cuyahoga was cleaned up enough that the water is now potable. Some of the strongest lobbying against the Clean Water Act was done by corporations who dumped pollutants into the Cuyahoga. It cost millions to clean up that river and, guess what, the corporations didn’t want to spend the money.
Are there things that the market does better than government? Of course there are. As noted above, I’m as anti-Marxist as I am
anti-stupidityanti-libertarian. On the other hand there are some things that the market either cannot or will not do. These things have to be done by other organizations, including government.
Spurge @ 531: “When we elect people who want to make government work it will when we elect libertarians we get the aftermath of Katrina.> Oh, come on. Tell it to Sweeney. Libertarians did not cause the damage to New Orleans. The government did, by failing to arrange for adequate levees and then lying about it. Everyone knows that. As far as cleaning up afterwards… I live in Houston, dude, OK? I know the score. If private individuals and industry had been allowed to flourish in New Orleans the way it is being (partially) allowed to work in Galveston after Hurricane Ike, the “aftermath” would have been much shorter and much cleaner. After all, you don’t see news stories about Galveston and Baytown refugees in the news these days, do you. Don’t talk to me about hurricanes; all of us here know who mismanaged the cleanup after Katrina, and it wasn’t the libertarians.
OK, I’ve worked for two hours and I need to go do other things now because I have a life. More later, if you want. Actually, you’d prefer I just shut up so you can twit me about running away, but I prefer to try to honestly answer your objections, to the extent that you object honestly.
Nick Gotts says
Yes, I am an anarcho-capitalist – speedwell
So, a system in which the rich can hire armed thugs to ensure they keep and expand their wealth and power – and for that matter, steal all you have and enslave you – appeals to you? Just when, in much of the world, the people as a whole have succeeded in putting some (partial, imperfect) democratic curbs on the abilities of the state to do so. It doesn’t to me. Maybe you’re just confident you will be among the thug-hiring, stealing and enslaving rich?
Could it be that there are more important factors at work here, for example, having a large and productive base of citizens who have sufficient wealth to tax heavily? – speedwell
Wouldn’t do to compare like with like, now, would it? For example the USA with Western Europe? Both rich, and the USA with more natural resources (all of them stolen property, incidentally – why aren’t all American “libertarians” advocating the return of the country to the Native Americans from whom it was taken by force or fraud?) – yet somehow, poverty is much more extensive in the USA because of the antipathy to welfare state solutions. Or for that matter, compare Nigeria with Cuba – a dictatorship, true, but one where life expectancy and infant mortality rates approach those of the US. To solve at least severe poverty on a global scale requires a significant, but by no means huge, redistribution of resources. Ensuring everyone adequate food, clothing, shelter, clean water, sanitation, access to medical care, at least primary education, and the means to communicate with the wider world is technically quite feasible within a couple of decades. But since “the market” won’t do it – poor people exercise almost no effective demand – you’d much rather it wasn’t done.
How will your proposed solution do this [halt CFC production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions]? How is the current government doing this? – speedwell
Governments did, as a simple matter of historical fact, halt the production of the CFCs that were destroying the ozone layer. The market did not. Now, first of all, just admit the truth of that statement. Then, explain how the market would have done so – and with the necessary speed.
With regard to greenhouse gas emissions, the way in which governments can play a large part in solving this – I am not confident they will because of the many interests that will oppose their particular emissions being controlled – is by international agreement to reduce them. Different states may then meet their treaty obligations in different ways or combinations of ways: banning particular industrial processes, taxing greenhouse gas emissions or the products that cause them, establishing emissions quotas and artificial markets, transfering technology to poorer countries, protecting forests, directing or encouraging investment in energy efficiency, low-emission energy production, public transport, etc. They will not do so unless pressured by scientists – and by public opinion, to which, unlike corporations, they are, in democratic countries, directly accountable – and grassroots organisation.
The market is what is doing it now
How? I think we need some details here. Emissions are currently still rising – indeed, faster than ever up until the Great Crash of 2008. How is the market going to ensure that, as conventional oil runs short, it is not replaced by oil from tar sands, oil shales, or coal – which may well be the most profitable path to take, but would increase greenhouse gas emissions enormously. The thing is, many acts of individuals and businesses create negative externalities: greenhouse gas emissions being one of them. Controlling pollution is always a cost – so the businesses that don’t do it will, other things being equal, outcompete those that do. That is why measures to control all businesses’ pollution are necessary. Same with CFCs: it was not in the interest of any one company to halt production while others continued, nor would it have solved the problem. Even if the existing producers had got together and agreed to stop, others would have jumped in to exploit the market opportunity – and from your point of view, why not? What was needed, and fortunately for you as much as the rest of us was produced, was a ban on all production. But I guess you’d rather have seen the ozone layer destroyed than – oh horror! – see governments doing something useful and thus undermining your cretinous market-worship.
In the absence of government pressure to suppress unpopular views, would scientists be better able to research and disseminate the issues, or less able? Do you really suppose government is likelier to listen to scientists than to big business? People believe that the government will protect them from the abuses of big business polluters. This is what you appear to believe, as well. In the largest, most egregious cases of polluting, we find exactly the opposite. We find government supporting the businesses that are the worst offenders, and suppressing the data and the efforts of those who are trying to oppose the offenses. Please don’t say out of one side of your mouth that the government will protect us, and then say out of the other that corrupt and unscientific elements in the government are making the problem worse.
Dear me yes, it would be impossible to admit that governments do both good and bad things, wouldn’t it? Because then you would actually have to learn and think about specific issues, rather than knowing “the right answer” automatically.
Historically, the research establishing both ozone-layer destruction and anthropogenic climate change has been almost entirely tax-funded. Where governments (primarily, that of Bush) have suppressed results, they have done so at the behest of private interests. Denialist lies about climate change, by contrast, are being funded by “libertarian” think-tanks and corporations, notably Exxon. Despite this, almost every significant government now admits the reality of anthropogenic climate change; and their representatives will be meeting in Copenhagen later this year in an attempt to reach an agreement on cutting emissions. Still, don’t let mere facts get in the way of your commitment to your religious beliefs, will you?
What, you don’t think principles are precious?
I think you place your “principles” before the real needs of living people, as I made clear.
Governments are composed of politicians who serve the interests of the most powerful. That’s how it’s always been. I invite you to invent a plausible government that isn’t. (Democracy doesn’t count; it simply redefines “the big guy” whose rights and interests are being protected as “the majority,” and “the little guy” whose rights and interests are being at best ignored as the “minority.”)
I favour the extension of direct democracy on a global scale until government as a separate stratum becomes largely if not completely obsolete. But at present, democratic governments can be pressured to protect us from private interests that would rob us, poison us, or destroy the environment in their pursuit of profit. Even with direct democracy, we would still need curbs on the freedom of individuals and, much more important, private organisations such as corporations and religious cults. What if a minority decides that the science underlying the banning of CFC production is nonsense and they are going to produce CFCs in huge quantities in order to prove it? Or a mad or merely irresponsible biologist decides to see if he can engineer a virus which would kill all humans if released? Or, more simply, a minority decide they want to use more than a fair share of a limited resource?
Nick Gotts says
it has been shown that market forces were beginning to make the system [plantation slavery in the southern states] impractical anyway – speedwell
I’m sure the slaves would have been glad to wait another half-century or so for market forces to liberate them.
Nick Gotts says
Actually, you’d prefer I just shut up so you can twit me about running away – speedwell
No, as I would with any religious fanatic, I’d prefer you came to your senses.
since we’re talking about leeves and federal government vs. local government plus private….
please compare the entire Netherlands with the leeve-system along the Mississippi. The former is a national infrastructure funded and maintained by the government, in a country that’s almost completely below sea-level. the latter is a mix of private and local earth works or a relatively stable river system. guess which one works better.
The problem with the U.S. government is that one side believes the government can’t do no wrong, while the other believes the government can’t do nothing right. the result is generally that one side builds a promising yet flawed program, and when the other side gets their hands on it, they starve it rather than fix it. nothing can function like that, but that’s a problem with the annoying black-and-white vision typical for American government.
as for comparing African countries to Scandinavian ones… well DO you know why Europe and America got rich, while Africa is starving? I get the impression you don’t. The West was and still is jealously guarding its own business while raping the rest of the world and forcing it to play by Free Trade rules that don’t even allow the most basic safety net, thus exaggerating the boom-and-bust cycles typical to capitalism. and in a place like Africa, when there isn’t a safety net, the “bust” part means drought, starvation, riots, and eventually massive debt to recover. If we played fair and allowed them the same protections we have here, they could build up infrastructure and weather bad periods with more internal stability.
In places like the U.S., stability is taken pretty much for granted, but in poor nations it’s an essential and rare commodity. Only already rich nations can afford not having a safety net, and even then there’s a level below which the society begins to unravel.
And family anecdotes are not proving anything, either. I counter your “a few of my family are from beyond the Iron Curtain, and they’re rabid libertarians now” with “my entire family is from beyond the Iron Curtain, and the whole lot would rather throw themselves off a cliff than live in the U.S.”
Sven DiMilo says
As I’ve probably admitted before, I find political philosophy oh-so-boring (I regard this as a character fault, but, as with my many others, cannot seem to do anything about it), and I had never even encountered the term “anarch-capitalism” before. I guess my question about this particular extremist version of libertarianism–which just seem nutty on the face of it, and that’s a gut reaction involving very little reflection or thought–remains:
Do these people think that greed is good? Or that greed doesn’t exist? Or that competing greeds somehow cancel each other out? Or what?
brokensoldier, OM says
You’re missing the point, and your notion that since every individual cannot be accommodated, the whole regulatory system should simply be done away with is utterly ridiculous. We have seen time and time again over the past decade that less regulation only leads to more corruption, and that comes at the direct expense of the precious individual. When it comes down to it, in a society that is as fair as can be made, a worker’s right to safety on the job simply outweighs a CEO’s right to make a profit.
And protecting the rights of whole classes of individuals, such as workers, only ignores the rights of those who would exert them at the workers’ expense. As such, it is entirely fair that the former be valued over the latter. If it were not, profit pursuit would soon erode the ranks of the working class to the point that those CEOs’ rights to profit would soon be severely impinged upon by the lack of a work force with which to make their profits.
And the birth reference you tried to make is totally inapplicable, because we are not talking about collective behavior, we are talking about protecting rights that would otherwise be trampled in pursuit of wealth.
And there is a huge difference between favoring the rights of the many over the luxury of the few and ignoring a minority group’s rights in favor of a majority rule society. A CEO has all the rights a worker has, he or she simply does not have the right to overwork, underpay, or otherwise abuse his or her workforce in favor of more profit.
So then you’d propose that no institution – aside from your “market,” of course – should step in and rectify this violation? No, you simply rely on the good nature of the businesses to do right by the worker, and that if they do not, the “market” will correct their behavior. Your assertion has been demolished by the actions of the CEO’s of Adelphia, Enron, AIG, etc… The plain fact – that you choose to ignore – is that absent governmental regulation, many leaders of business place profit at the top of their priorities, above all else, and your ‘market’ is not only powerless to stop such behavior, in many cases it rewards it.
So your evidentiary support is: “I have some friends who say…” and “it’s really the ‘unofficial‘ training that I’m talking about…” Those are weak arguments, and do nothing to prove your assertion that police officers are trained to see citizens as enemies or hostiles.
The word “civilian” and your use of it only shows me that you’re displaying your ignorance not only on police training matters, but also on the very concept upon which you base your assertion – the attitudes and training of soldiers. The term “civilian” is not an enemy designator in the Army, but simply an identifier of a non-combatant. In fact, we have a whole other word for enemy – it’s enemy. In police terms, it is used to identify someone who is not a police officer. To police, I am a civilian on our streets, even in uniform. I can tell you that with 100% certainty, because twice in the past I have completed courses in police training – one two-month course with the IPTF (International Police Task Force) prior to going to Bosnia and one three-week course in a Florida police academy as an audit preparation for a week of ride-alongs with my local police department that my best friend belongs to.
And your ignorance of soldiers’ attitudes is even more maddening. Please tell me where you get that soldiers are trained to see civilians as enemies, and that “all means of subduing the enemy are justified”? Exactly how many hours have you spent being trained to be a soldier? How many classes did you sit through in which you were told by a military instructor that “all means” of defeating an enemy are justified? How many officers pointed at a civilian in a combat zone and told you to engage the enemy? Obviously you have no idea what Rules of Engagement are, how difficult the rules can be in a combat zone, and the moral, physical, and intellectual effort it takes to keep a unit full of young men and women – scared to death and extremely apprehensive – within the bounds of those rules. Even considering the difficulty, soldiers who are not criminals go so far as to put their very lives in danger to stay in accordance with those rules. I have placed myself between an ambush site and a school in Samarra, Iraq – ensuring that my convoy would get caught by that ambush, but also ensuring that the ensuing fight would not endanger the children in that school. I watched as an officer caught the full blast of an IED, unprotected, because he had thrown a girl of about 12 and her brother into a ditch nearby and did not then have enough time to escape the trap. He could just as easily gotten himself into that ditch, and then – at least by your ignorant and uninformed reasoning – he would have taken care of two more of the supposed “enemy.” Your accusation that soldiers care not for innocent bystanders is a generalization that applies the behavior of war criminals to the wider population of soldiers as a whole. There are soldiers that disobey the RoE and Code of Conduct, and while they are certainly still soldiers (you’ll find no ‘No True Scotsman’ argument here), they are criminal soldiers, and Army regulation provides for not only their trial and punishment if convicted, but that punishment also still includes the death penalty for the most serious cases. But hey, the death penalty isn’t really a definitive statement of opposition to criminal behavior – there’s always more soldiers, right? (Before you ask, 10 soldiers have been executed since 1951, all for charges that include premeditated murder, and some of which include rape. But by all means, keep asserting that soldiers who mistreat and abuse civilians are somehow acting in accordance with their training.)
You shouldn’t be, because as I have shown above, between the two of us I am the only one who has any actual first-hand knowledge of the situations you’re presuming to speak about.
Here you go – I’ll show you:
You posited this in rejecting any governmental authority for regulating the businesses that drive our economy. Your “free agreements” between “free and equal individuals” could only exist in a democracy, and since you’re so adamant about the individual and removing any government’s ability to impose fairness or even safety regulations, the only logical conclusion is that the majority opinion will necessarily win out, regardless of the opinions of the surrounding minorities. Please illustrate how else you believe these “free agreements” will be arrived at, and “the market” is an insufficient answer, for reasons already explained above.
I think I’m in love
brokensoldier, OM says
Posted by: Nick Gotts | December 28, 2008 11:20 AM
'Tis Himself says
You may say so, but many of your fellow looneytarians don’t think so.
Anarcho-capitalists are, in fact, simply capitalists who object to the State cutting into corporate profits by way of regulations and taxation. That is their sole gripe with the State. They see the bureaucrat as the nefarious boogeyman in their lives, motivated solely to enmesh the world in red tape–simply out of maliciousness alone.
Genuine anarchists dislike the term “anarcho”-capitalist, since they do not object to private property, to class distinctions, social stratification, concentrated wealth, and other bourgeois trappings in society. Their idea of a utopia is a world of unaccountable, unfettered corporate power where literally everything is up for sale and is negotiable.
Prostitution, e.g., selling your services for an anticipated monetary gain, is the definition of anarcho-capitalist empowerment. The ability to sell yourself however you want or need is the anarcho-capitalist idea of freedom.
Nothing would be free from market forces. Not families, not children, not the environment, and, of course, not you. Literally everything would have a price tag. Clean air, clean water, housing, human organs–each not an end unto themselves, but a marketable commodity: a product. In such a dystopia, anything which could not be readily translated into product would be cast out as pointless and without value (measured only in economic terms, of course).
Now let’s go back into Never Neverland, where fantasies and wishful thinking rule.
Two points about the above fantasy:
1. One glaring inconsistency of anarcho-capitalism is the absolute necessity of government interaction in corporate affairs. All rhetoric aside, laissez faire capitalists need the government to uphold contracts and defend property rights. Otherwise, there is nothing to prevent squatters from coming along and usurping someone’s holdings.
I know what you’re going to say, the corporations will provide their own protection. Besides having a bunch of robber barons fighting each other as in medieval times, that brings up the next point.
2. The corporations would rely on paramilitary mercenaries (Blackwater for instance) to protect their property. Now these latter-day Pinkertons would not be instruments of government oppression but rather employees of private firms. There are fewer safeguards with paramilitaries, because, unlike municipal police forces, these are paid employees of the capitalists in question. Thus, if their boss wants them to shoot strikers, they’ll do it or risk losing their employment. And you know what? This is exactly what happened during the golden age of laissez-faire capitalism in the late 19th Century, when the Pinkerton Detective Agency serviced industrialists across the United States. Ever hear of the Homestead Steel Strike?
Further, the anarcho-capitalists would still require a court system, and thus laws, to uphold property rights and contracts.
Finally, speedwell, I’ve noticed one difference between your arguments and Nick’s and mine. You talk in generalities. Nick and I give concrete examples from real life to bolster our arguments. That’s because there has never yet been a libertarian society (though one or two have come close to some libertarian ideas). I can’t be too impressed by an ivory tower ideology without practical experience.
my nerdiness is showing, but that line sooo reminded me of DS9 episodes that featured the Ferengi homeworld… especially a scene where Quark uses the staircase to climb a skyscraper because the elevator is too expensive! :-p
Nick Gotts says
How’s that working out for you, when crime is notoriously on the rise and all the criminals have the guns? – speedwell
You’ve been reading the Daily Mail, haven’t you? Actually, the picture is much more mixed, and it is certainly false that “all the criminals have guns”. From the British Crime Survey 2006-7:
“Figures published in the British Crime Survey (BCS) 2006-07 show that overall crime rates held steady in England and Wales over the past year. This is part of a long-term trend – crime rates peaked in 1995, then fell by 42% over the subsequent 10 years. The decline reduced the risk of the average person becoming a victim of crime by 41%, although that risk increased by one percentage point last year. Police recorded crime rates showed violent crime rates fell by 1% over the last year – the first fall in that category in eight years. The number of police recorded crimes involving firearms declined by 13% during the same time period. Some crime categories did show increases, but vandalism was the only category to show a statistically significant change over the year – vandalism reports increased by 10%. However, even with that increase, reports of vandalism are still 11% lower now than they were in 1995.”
Nick Gotts says
I think I’m in love – Jadehawk@543
Well if you want to preserve that state, don’t put my name into google images! (Unless you’ve got a thing for largely bald, grey-bearded, mid-50s men!)
when I put “nick gotts” into google, I get pictures of sheep from realclimate.org. fascinating.
Nick Gotts says
There are lots of cameras in London right now. Are they successful in stopping crime where they are planted? – speedwell
To some extent I believe they are, but they tend to displace it rather than prevent it. Most of them are privately owned and operated. I oppose their proliferation, whether state or privaely owned. They are a potential tool of state oppression, and there are much more effective ways of reducing crime, mostly to do with the design of streets and buildings, improving opportunities for disadvantaged young people, increasing local social cohesion, and legalising (but taxing and controlling) currently illegal drugs.
you seem to be advocating that the citizens have no means of protecting themselves from criminals until the police get there, if they ever do, and if they can effectively protect you against criminals with guns when they do, since they are also disarmed. It’s that “level playing field” you mentioned. – speedwell
Isn’t it odd that murder rates in the UK are so much lower than in the US? Statistically, the people most likely to be killed or injured by a householder’s gun are the householder and their family. However, restrictions on private gun ownership are among matters that are appropriately dealt with by democratic decision-making on a national or regional basis. If a majority of Americans want to allow it with little restriction, it is (literally) no skin off my nose. I prefer gun possession to remain as restricted as possible.
Nick Gotts says
when I put “nick gotts” into google, I get pictures of sheep from realclimate.org. fascinating. – Jadehawk
I’m the one at the back on the far left ;-)
The actual URL relevant is
The Sheep Albedo Feedback, posted on 1 April 2007 – but the comments unfortunately deteriorated into serious discussion of methane emissions from ruminants.
“Dr. Ewe Noh-Wat”, hehe, awesome.
'Tis Himself says
Yes, you look like a D.Phil in AI.
well, for fairness sake, if you put “Jadehawk” into google, you get an SUV, a BattleMech, and a really stupid haircut :-p
'Tis Himself says
I have just wasted 20 or more minutes looking for a picture of me on the web. Here’s what I finally found, but it’s not particularly good.
It’s kinda revealing what RA wrote in the last sentence of the post immediatly before his conversion post, on the same day:
Maybe he just chose lies.
Folks, if I was afraid to go where the facts led me, I wouldn’t be an EX-Christian today. I wouldn’t have changed my mind about a lot of things… I now advocate legal abortion, gay marriage, and children’s rights, for example.
But it’s really hard to try to sort the honey from the vinegar in your posts. It’s difficult to get the message when you’re one tick from screaming in frustration. Obviously we don’t agree. You guys are not stupid and your points are not without merit, even if I often can’t see the merit in them. I’m not stupid or meritless either. I’m willing to review all sides and try to come up with something legitimate. I thought that was what I had done, but since intelligent people disagree with me, I am prepared to admit that there is likely to be some grounds for that disagreement.
Can you steer me to some good popular resources that calmly explain the points you are trying to make? Please give highest weight to those writings that are professional, rational, and free of sarcasm, rancor, and spite.
Thanks very much.
Nick Gotts says
I appreciate the reasonable tone of your #557. I can’t at present think of any suitable texts. After all, anarcho-capitalism is a political philosophy held by a minuscule minority of the population, and is completely lacking in influence – I’m not sure why anyone would spend a lot of time writing a detailed refutation. To me, it seems obvious nonsense; some of the reasons for this I (and others) have gone into above. I’d guess your best bet would be in the modern anarchist literature. SC, if you read this, have you any suggestions?
To people who think he was never an atheist in the first place, was just interested in ranting against abortion or was probably incapable of rational arguments or lacking in knowledge of Christianity or atheism etc — I used to read his blogs about 3 years ago for a while, and he was well-known and respected among atheists on the net at the time, and wrote entertaining, intelligent pieces pointing out absurdities of religion. On his The God Who Wasn’t There DVD Brian Flemming called him the net’s most famous atheist as far as I remember. I can only assume his conversion is for emotional reasons; I would like to hear his explanation of it
Speedwell, have you read “Why I Am Not a Libertarian” over at Daylight Atheism?
Extremists hold onto a position with a death grip, and if they’re somehow convinced to change.