Archives for category: Ethics

Against Mere Plausibility

“First they came for the Jews.”

We all repeat the poem, with reverence.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me. 

Martin Niemöller, “First They Came for the Jews,” see alternative versions available.

Oh, we are so uplifted by this bit of rhetoric. Why, we would never do that! We would never cave to the Nazis! We are Americans! We are civilized!

Here is the deal: by complying with the mask orders, and censuring those who do not “comply” with same, you are doing what Niemöller said. You are, in effect, letting the Jews be taken away.

You protest, though: “The Nazis were wholly evil, but masks save lives!” Well, no, certainly the latter is not true. I can and have pointed to scientific studies that show the masks are ineffectual and even dangerous — and worse yet, constitute a deep psy-op that turns us into serviles, preparing us for a corporatist totalitarian agenda.

This should be obvious, the idea being to set up compliance regimens that allow States (it is quite clear in Australia right now) to eradicate freedom in the name of safety, to abridge freedom of speech and press and free association. The next step after refusing to allow people to purchase food without mask compliance is to refuse to allow us to travel and associate and purchase food without vaccination compliance — and then to add universal tracking on top of (or, more ominously, along with) that. This is not the spinning of some fanciful conspiracy scenario. The plans are openly touted. Bill Gates has argued for all of these things.

It is “just a coincidence” that these same people publicly worry about over-population and seek to diminish the world population by half. It is only a small step for them to turn a vaccine into the instrumentality of genocide. Thanos was a fictional supervillain; but our supervillains are quite real, many are out in the open and widely respected, and some of them are your friends.

That is why the canary in this particular coal mine is not “the Jews” today — or trans people or some much-touted minority — but the mask non-compliant.

If you side against the mask-less, you are no better than the Germans who let the Nazis take control. I am not kidding, nor am I exaggerating. Your protest that the Nazis’ case against the Jews was never this plausible is idiotically naïve. The Nazis indeed had a case. If you cannot make it, you fail to understand history and, alas, only understand the “straw man” case for freedom. The Nazis had a plausible case and it convinced the Germans, yet they were wrong and they succumbed to grave evil.

So, do not pretend that a case for totalitarianism cannot be made. There is of course a plausible case for mandatory masks. But it is wrong. Just like the Nazis were wrong. The pretense these days is that the enemies of justice do not have a case. Deny, rather than argue. This is intellectual cowardice, and is the vice of people who prefer herdish belief to actual thinking.

Liberty possesses a logic that resists the “plausible” sounding rationalizations of medical totalitarians, or any other kind of totalitarian.

The proper step is to resist totalitarian controls. It is not enough to vote out the vile governors of our states (Inslee in mine). And we must do more than bring lawsuits against the government. We must now be civilly disobedient. Stop wearing the masks, at least if you are young and healthy.

If you go about complying, the next level of control will ratchet up, as will the next after that, and there will be no stopping it.

First, they demanded masks.

twv

…pulled off of Instagram….

I always think that life is like a fairytale. What should I do to come out from this assumption?

…as answered on Quora….

You could do worse. Fairy tales are folk horror stories so concisely told that usually their morals are fairly easy to discern. In fairy tales dangers abound. Magic is not the power of wish, but potency at great cost. Sometimes good triumphs, but only after a huge setback. Sometimes fairy stories are very sad. Even frightening.

Read the Grimms, Hans Christian Andersen, and Italo Calvino’s collection of Italian Folktales. I do not think you will come away from them with a need to purge them from your imagination, but with some wisdom you can apply their lessons to your life.

You will notice differences between them and your life. The dangers in the woods in the old European fairy tales can at best serve as metaphors for today’s dangers, and the malign and delusive magics in those stories need to be translated to somewhat more mundane if still quite potent dangers, such as fraud, ideology, and so much else of word work and imaging.

My favorite American writer is James Branch Cabell. In his The Rivet in Grandfather’s Neck: A Comedy of Limitations (1915), Cabell synopsizes a sad little Hans Christian Andersen story and then tells a romance set in Virginia (or “Sil.”) in the early 20th century. There you will see a master take a fairy story and apply it to life. After reading that book, I trust you will see a way to transcend superficial “fairy tale” mentality, and grow beyond naïvety. And in “The Music from Behind the Moon: An Epitome” (it can be found in The Witch-Woman: A Trilogy about Her [1948] and elsewhere) you may conclude that a fairy-tale vision is in no way enviable, but also, perhaps, not evitable. The themes in fairy tales are the stuff of life.

If you “always think of life as a fairy tale,” my suggestion is: study fairy tales.

For what I think you really mean is that you tend to think of life as offering up temptations as the magic in fairy tales tempts those that encounter it. If you look at the literature of fairy tales, you will see that in story as in life the magic is not what it seems.


https://guides.library.vcu.edu/cabell/cabell_bibliography

Hans Christian Andersen
Why was Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen’s tweet, “It is not enough to be passively not racist, we must be actively anti-racist” so controversial amongst libertarians?

…as answered on Quora….

I just read a number of libertarian answers, and I saw not one mention of the riots associated with Black Lives Matter.

Liberty is not just an opposition to the State — contra Rothbard, who I think was wrong on this. Very wrong. Liberty is the freedom we all can possess; those who initiate force from government, from criminal gangs, or individually, or from mobs all abridge freedom. And libertarians oppose them all. Including mobs. The riots are mob action of an unconscionable kind, and indeed constitute the insurrection of cowards and fools — and they are intimately associated with Black Lives Matter.

One of my goals as a libertarian writer has been to de-mystify gobbledygook and debunk confidence games. Much of statism along with much of ochlocracy (mobocracy) gains support from unrealistic fantasy, regrettable but repeatable error, strategic evasion, and outright lies. So I have no truck with folks who spread untruth combined with vitriol. Black Lives Matter spews lies/error about police killings of ‘unarmed black men.’ Not that this never happens, but that the numbers are simply not that special. The stats do not support the claim. I have a great many complaints about policing in our state-ridden society, but racism does not seem a warranted fixation, at least as regards shootings by the police.* And not irrelevant to this is the fact that nearly every one of the victims BLM lifts up to honor and defend has been a violent criminal killed in the process of resisting arrest** — from Michael Brown on. So, no thank you.

I believe it is the job of libertarians to offer truth as the avenue to peace and justice, not bigotry and error and paranoid fantasy. BLM is all spin and lies and violence, and libertarians supporting it strike me as gullible at best.

There is another reason I found the Jo Jo tweet eye-roll-worthy: if you define racism in a very specific way — a way that most people do not use the term — then it makes at least a modicum of sense. But otherwise, it is an immoral command.

For the essence of liberty isn’t your feelings about people of this race or that, or any race, for that matter. Nor even about discriminating for or against anyone. (Discrimination is a key concept in most folks’ definitions of racism.) Libertarians support freedom of association, and we are against racist discrimination only as it pertains to abridging freedom of association and perverting the unbiased working of the rule of law. Liberty, you see, is for everybody, racist or not. You may hate anyone you like. You just may not initiate force: rob, murder, defraud, etc.

I go further: Liberty is for the racists of all races. We want black anti-white racists as well as white anti-black racists all to co-exist in their separate or interpenetrating spheres (their choice), unmolested.

And the thing about racism? It is just another vice. Like greed or sloth or envy or intemperance. No decent libertarian as libertarian would spout nonsense like “it is not enough to be passively not greedy; we must be actively anti-greed.” And I say this despite thinking that greed, along with envy and a few other vices, is a major driver of both statism and ochlocracy. I think these vices are bigger problems than racism — which is indeed a problem. But being publicly anti-greed is not going to usher in liberty any more than being publicly anti-racist. Libertarians have an answer to a whole bevy of social problems caused by all the vices. It is the idea of justice as equal freedom — in a word, liberty.

Jo Jo and Spike have both proven themselves witless moralists just like conservatives in the days of my youth or the virtue-signaling lily-white progressives who live all around me.

A major disappointment. I probably will not vote for them. Further, I have adopted my old stance regarding the Libertarian Party: liquidationism. That was Murray Rothbard’s term, from the 1980’s, of the position I pushed later, in the 1990’s. Jo Jo and Spike have convinced me that reviving the liquidationist program could be the very best first step forward for a freer society. The Libertarian Party must be destroyed — liquidated — and replaced with one or more organizations far more effective and far less crazy.


* I actually suspect that systemic racism may be a problem, but because it is an invisible hand (unintended) and institutionally tacit process, the subject has to be dealt with very carefully and without a revolutionary mindset. The hatred and fury the concept elicits in leftists and the well-programed young suggest that they cannot think very carefully.

** A key problem in police-black relations is the ubiquity of the illicit drug trade, broken homes caused by a corrupting welfare state, horrendous public schools and insidious business-employment regulation that most people have no clue how they work or why they are bad. Libertarians have of course called attention and opposed these horrific state programs (the War on Drugs; state aid; government schools; the minimum wage, etc.) that have devastated inner-city African-American communities, and are well under way to destroy “white” communities. Further, libertarians have been consistent in opposing the qualified immunity doctrine that protects bad-apple police and corrupts the whole state apple-cart. But among those preventing reform in these areas are the race hustlers, such as the “Reverend” Al Sharpton, who have a confidence game going that requires that blacks not make progress. They gain at their “community’s” expense.

twv

Meme overkill: isn’t the truth rather different? This “meme” found on Gab.com suggests untruths.

Vaccination never works 100% of the time, on an individual basis. The more people who get vaccinated, though, the less likely a contagion will spread into an epidemic. The contagion has trouble spreading when most potential hosts block the spread with their own immune system’s antibodies. It is a matter of the modal potential host: if the modal possible victim of a virus is immune, the virus has trouble spreading, unable to quickly multiply in society. That is the idea of herd immunity.

It is the same as people who have encountered the disease in the wild, and develop antibodies from actually getting and fighting off the contagion: a disease even in a pandemic slows down its rate of spread and then wanes the more people develop antibodies. Even in the worst pandemics not everyone gets infected. Because the herd immunity threshold eventually gets reached.

Vaccination is an attempt to spur antibody growth without actual infection and the risks associated with suffering through the disease. As a mass program, vaccination often makes sense.

The actual incentives to the individual run this: I take the vaccine and hope it works, but others being vaccinated provides extra protection, but . . . others being infected and surviving is BETTER YET.

That is, me getting vaccinated and others suffering through the disease is the best egoistic strategy.

Extrapolate this out and vaccination would seem the most rational social action.

IF WE CAN TRUST THE VACCINE.

That is one big IF. And lack of trust of vaccine producers (merited or unmerited) throws a huge monkey wrench into our calculations of advantage.

Regarding the current “pandemic,” the disease is deadly only to a small set of the population — that set of people who suffer from co-morbidities such as diabetes and Vitamin D deficiency. Those who are healthy tend to do very well.

If healthy people were even a teensy altruistic, and not sniveling poltroons, they would valiantly risk the disease and let those in jeopardy cower in sequestration, waiting for a vaccine.

Meme engineers out to change human behavior use many techniques. The technique used in the visual meme at top is a cautionary case. It suggests something not true: that what is relevant is that “work” versus “not work.” There are degrees. The desire for others to be vaccinated is not irrational, contrary to the innuendo of the meme.

But there are even more rational strategies.

The most rational one is honesty. Not because dishonesty doesn’t “work” but because honesty encourages rationality generally. It works better.

Right now, we could use a lot more rationality. We are ruled by people whose strategy is to increase fear-based reaction and mass compliance to authoritarian demands. And we are surrounded by cowards who, so fearful, cannot accept new information or wait to make up their minds when actual contexts become clear.

These people have succumbed to the meme of servility. Which is worse than SARS-CoV-2 and its co sequent disease, COVID-19. Our civilization can survive even worse plagues, and has. But can we survive mass servility?

twv

How can a Libertarian ever work for the government without compromising his/her beliefs?

…as answered on Quora….

The libertarian might hold to some variant of “relative ethics” as written about in Herbert Spencer’s Data of Ethics. Libertarianism is a formulation of Spencer’s conception of “absolute ethics.”

Spencer gave several cautionary principles when discussing ethics. One of them is this: “A great part of the perplexities in ethical speculation arise from neglect of this distinction between right and least wrong—between the absolutely right and the relatively right.”

The principles of liberty depend upon conditions wherein equal freedom is possible, where there is enough reciprocity regarding forbearance and tolerance that sticking to strict principles makes sense. When most of the people around you will not grant you your rightful freedom, then, well, all bets are off. Spencer writes that the “perfect conduct which is the subject-matter of Absolute Ethics” is not always possible, and must be distinguished from “that imperfect conduct which is the subject-matter of Relative Ethics.”

We live in a messy world, filled with coercion and conceptions of authority that run against the grain of libertarian ethics. Must we confine ourselves to living as if all this did not exist? Spencer wrote, early in his career, of a “right to ignore the State.” But just give that a try. The State will crush you, destroy you. So, as compensation for the impositions it places upon us, seemingly demanding to make martyrs of us, perhaps a few benefits from the system is more than allowable.

Most libertarian ideologues I know bristle at this penultimate chapter to the Data of Ethics. But it has long seemed to me that much of this objection to relative ethics is just denial of reality. Many libertarians prefer the fantasy. But facts don’t care about our preferences. It is simply the case that “a large part of human conduct is not absolutely right, but only relatively right,” and we have to deal with that.

And it is worse, “we have to recognize the further truth that in many cases where there is no absolutely right course, but only courses that are more or less wrong, it is not possible to say which is the least wrong.”

So, a libertarian who understands the actual nature of our lived experience would not pretend that ethics must serve only a straitjacket that we are obliged to tie ourselves into while those who would do us much harm are comparatively free.

The truth of the matter of liberty is that it all depends upon a general practice of reciprocal forbearance from initiating coercive interference. When that forbearance is not forthcoming, then the relevance of libertarian justice loses its traction.

This is something libertarians generally do not acknowledge. I think they are wrong not to.

And, I suspect, when they do acknowledge this feature of the moral universe, their consciences will be free to make quite a few compromises that rub up against their principles. It is inevitable. Indeed, it is almost required, as Spencer noted: “Among people who are treacherous and utterly without scruple, entire truthfulness and openness must bring ruin.

If all around recognize only the law of the strongest, one whose nature will not allow him to inflict pain on others, must go to the wall. There requires a certain congruity between the conduct of each member of a society and other’s conduct. A mode of action entirely alien to the prevailing modes of action, cannot be successfully persisted in—must eventuate in death of self, or posterity, or both.

Hence it is manifest that we must consider the ideal man as existing in the ideal social state.

And that the ideal social state — the free society — does not exist. And its strictures cannot fully apply.

That being said, I have found it difficult to even conceive working for some realms of government. Take policing, a job that usually entails the enforcement of evil laws — malign and harmful both. I would find working for that kind of government a disgusting business. Even activities like teaching in heavily subsidized colleges strikes me as too much compromise. But I rarely criticize those who compromise differently than I. If your only talent is for teaching, for example, and you lack an entrepreneurial bent, you will probably find yourself teaching somewhere in a government school or at least in a tax-subsidized, government-controlled institution.

Ugh, I shudder. But such is this messy world.

We are so far from a perfect society that we can just barely conceive of perfect conduct. Which is what Absolute Ethics is all about. In this creaky, state-ridden world, we must make do with Relative Ethics.

twv

Notions of right and wrong, variously derived and changing with every change in social arrangements and activities, form an assemblage which we may conclude is even now in large measure chaotic. . . .

Originally, ethics has no existence apart from religion, which holds it in solution. Religion itself, in its earliest form, is undistinguished from ancestor worship. And the propitiations of ancestral ghosts, made for the purpose of avoiding the evils they may inflict and gaining the benefits they may confer, are prompted by prudential considerations like those which guide the ordinary actions of life.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 1, “The Confusion of Ethical Thought.”

If, instead of asking for men’s nominal code of right and wrong, we seek for their real code, we find that in most minds the virtues of the warrior take the first place. Concerning an officer killed in a nefarious war, you may hear the remark — “He died the death of a gentleman.” And among civilians, as among soldiers, there is tacit approval of the political brigandage going on in various quarters of the globe; while there are no protests against the massacres euphemistically called “punishments.”

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 1, “The Confusion of Ethical Thought.”

As the ethics of enmity and the ethics of amity, thus arising in each society in response to external and internal conditions respectively, have to be simultaneously entertained, there is formed an assemblage of utterly inconsistent sentiments and ideas. Its components can by no possibility be harmonized, and yet they have to be all accepted and acted upon. Every day exemplifies the resulting contradictions, and also exemplifies men’s contentment under them.

When, after prayers asking for divine guidance, nearly all the bishops approve an unwarranted invasion, like that of Afghanistan, the incident passes without any expression of surprise; while, conversely, when the Bishop of Durham takes the chair at a peace meeting, his act is commented upon as remarkable. When, at a Diocesan Conference, a peer (Lord Cranbook), opposing international arbitration, says he is “not quite sure that a state of peace might not be a more dangerous thing for a nation than war,” the assembled priests of the religion of love make no protest; nor does any general reprobation, clerical or lay, arise when a ruler in the Church, Dr. Moorhouse, advocating a physical and moral discipline fitting the English for war, expresses the wish “to make them so that they would, in fact, like the fox when fastened by the dogs, die biting,” and says that “these were moral qualities to be encouraged and increased among our people, and he believed that nothing could suffice for this but the grace of God operating in their hearts.” How completely in harmony with the popular feeling in a land covered with Christian churches and chapels, is this exhortation of the Bishop of Manchester, we see in such facts as that people eagerly read accounts of football matches in which there is an average of a death per week; that they rush in crowds to buy newspapers which give detailed reports of a brutal prizefight, but which pass over in a few lines the proceedings of a peace congress; and that they are lavish patrons of illustrated papers, half the woodcuts in which have for their subjects the destruction of life or the agencies for its destruction.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 1, “The Confusion of Ethical Thought.”

But side by side with the ethical conceptions . . . originating in one or other way and having one or other sanction, there has been slowly evolving a different conception — a conception derived wholly from recognition of naturally produced consequences. This gradual rise of a utilitarian ethics has, indeed, been inevitable; since the reasons which led to commands and interdicts by a ruler, living or apotheosized, have habitually been reasons of expediency more or less visible to all. Though, when once established, such commands and interdicts have been conformed to mainly because obedience to the authority imposing them was a duty, yet there has been very generally some accompanying perception of their fitness.

Even among the uncivilized, or but slightly civilized, we find a nascent utilitarianism. 

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 1, “The Confusion of Ethical Thought.”

Habits of conformity to rules of conduct have generated sentiments adjusted to such rules. The discipline of social life has produced in men conceptions and emotions which, irrespective of supposed divine commands, and irrespective of observed consequences, issue in certain degrees of liking for conduct favoring social welfare and aversion to conduct at variance with it. Manifestly such a molding of human nature has been furthered by survival of the fittest; since groups of men having feelings least adapted to social requirements must, other things equal, have tended to disappear before groups of men having feelings most adapted to them.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 1, “The Confusion of Ethical Thought.”

Survival of the fittest insures that the faculties of every species of creature tend to adapt themselves to its mode of life. It must be so with man. From the earliest times groups of men whose feelings and conceptions were congruous with the conditions they lived under, must, other things equal, have spread and replaced those whose feelings and conceptions were incongruous with their conditions.

Recognizing a few exceptions, which special circumstances have made possible, it holds, both of rude tribes and of civilized societies, that they have had continually to carry on external self-defense and internal cooperation–external antagonism and internal friendship. Hence their members have required two different sets of sentiments and ideas, adjusted to these two kinds of activity.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 1, “The Confusion of Ethical Thought.”

“[F]urther confusions . . . arise, not from the conflict of codes, but from the conflict of sanctions.”

Among uncivilized and semicivilized peoples, the obligations imposed by custom are peremptory. The universal belief that such things ought to be done, is not usually made manifest by the visiting of punishment or reprobation on those who do not conform, because nonconformity is scarcely heard of. How intolerable to the general mind is breach of usages, is shown occasionally when a ruler is deposed and even killed for disregard of them: a sufficient proof that his act is held wrong. And we sometimes find distinct expressions of moral sentiment on behalf of customs having nothing which we should call moral authority, and even on behalf of customs which we should call profoundly immoral.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 2, “What Ideas and Sentiments Are Ethical?”

Everywhere during social progress custom passes into law. Practically speaking, custom is law in undeveloped societies.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 2, “What Ideas and Sentiments Are Ethical?”

[I]f ideas of duty and feelings of obligation cluster round customs, they cluster round the derived laws. The sentiment of “ought” comes to be associated with a legal injunction, as with an injunction traced to the general authority of ancestors or the special authority of a deified ancestor. And not only does there hence arise a consciousness that obedience to each particular law is right and disobedience to it wrong, but eventually there arises a consciousness that obedience to law in general is right and disobedience to it wrong.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 2, “What Ideas and Sentiments Are Ethical?”

A trait common to all forms of sentiments and ideas to be classed as ethical, is the consciousness of authority. The nature of the authority is inconstant. It may be that of an apotheosized ruler or other deity supposed to give commands. It may be that of ancestors who have bequeathed usages, with or without injunctions to follow them. It may be that of a living ruler who makes laws, or a military commander who issues orders. It may be that of an aggregate public opinion, either expressed through a government or otherwise expressed. It may be that of an imagined utility which every one is bound to further. Or it may be that of an internal monitor distinguished as conscience.

Along with the element of authority at once intellectually recognized and emotionally responded to, there goes the element, more or less definite, of coercion. The consciousness of ought which the recognition of authority implies, is joined with the consciousness of must, which the recognition of force implies. Be it the power of a god, of a king, of a chief soldier, of a popular government, of an inherited custom, of an unorganized social feeling, there is always present the conception of a power. Even when the injunction is that of an internal monitor, the conception of a power is not absent; since the expectation of the penalty of self-reproach, which disobedience may entail, is vaguely recognized as coercive.

A further component of the ethical consciousness, and often the largest component, is the represented opinion of other individuals, who also, in one sense, constitute an authority and exercise a coercion. This, either as actually implied in others’ behavior, or as imagined if they are not present, commonly serves more than anything else to restrain or impel.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 2, “What Ideas and Sentiments Are Ethical?”

[E]thical sentiment and idea properly so called, are independent of the ideas and sentiments above described as derived from external authorities, and coercions, and approbations — religious, political, or social. The true moral consciousness which we name conscience, does not refer to those extrinsic results of conduct which take the shape of praise or blame, reward or punishment, externally awarded; but it refers to the intrinsic results of conduct which, in part and by some intellectually perceived, are mainly and by most, intuitively felt. The moral consciousness proper does not contemplate obligations as artificially imposed by an external power; nor is it chiefly occupied with estimates of the amounts of pleasure and pain which given actions may produce, though these may be clearly or dimly perceived; but it is chiefly occupied with recognition of, and regard for, those conditions by fulfillment of which happiness is achieved or misery avoided. The sentiment enlisted on behalf of these conditions is often in harmony with the proethical sentiment compounded as above described, though from time to time in conflict with it; but whether in harmony or in conflict, it is vaguely or distinctly recognized as the rightful ruler: responding, as it does, to consequences which are not artificial and variable, but to consequences which are natural and permanent.

It should be remarked that along with established supremacy of this ethical sentiment proper, the feeling of obligation, though continuing to exist in the background of consciousness, ceases to occupy its foreground; since the right actions are habitually performed spontaneously or from liking.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 2, “What Ideas and Sentiments Are Ethical?”

The prevailing ethical sentiment in England is such that a man who should allow himself to be taken possession of and made an unresisting slave, would be regarded with scorn; but the people of Drekete, a slave-district of Fiji, “said it was their duty to become food and sacrifices for the chiefs,” and “that they were honored by being considered adequate to such a noble task.”

Less extreme, though akin in nature, is the contrast between the feelings which our own history has recorded within these few centuries. In Elizabeth’s time, Sir John Hawkins initiated the slave trade, and in commemoration of the achievement was allowed to put in his coat of arms “a demimoor proper bound with a cord”: the honorableness of his action being thus assumed by himself and recognized by Queen and public. But in our days, the making slaves of men, called by Wesley “the sum of all villainies,” is regarded with detestation; and for many years we maintained a fleet to suppress the slave trade.

Peoples who have emerged from the primitive family-and-clan organization, hold that one who is guilty of a crime must himself bear the punishment, and it is thought extreme injustice that the punishment should fall upon anyone else; but our remote ancestors thought and felt differently as do still the Australians, whose “first great principle with regard to punishment is, that all the relatives of a culprit, in the event of his not being found, are implicated in his guilt”: “the brothers of the criminal conceive themselves to be quite as guilty as he is.”

By the civilized, the individualities of women are so far recognized that the life and liberty of a wife are not supposed to be bound up with those of her husband; and she now having obtained a right to exclusive possession of property contends for complete independence, domestic and political. But it is, or was, otherwise in Fiji. The wives of the Fijian chiefs consider it a sacred duty to suffer strangulation on the deaths of their husbands. A woman who had been rescued by Williams “escaped during the night, and, swimming across the river, and presenting herself to her own people, insisted on the completion of the sacrifice which she had in a moment of weakness reluctantly consented to forgo”; and Wilkes tells of another who loaded her rescuer “with abuse, and ever afterward manifested the most deadly hatred towards him.”

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 14, “Summary of Inductions.”

Among men at large, lifelong convictions are not to be destroyed either by conclusive arguments or by multitudinous facts.

Only to those who are not by creed or cherished theory committed to the hypothesis of a supernaturally created humanity will the evidence prove that the human mind has no originally implanted conscience. Though, as shown in my first work, Social Statics, I once espoused the doctrine of the intuitive moralists (at the outset in full, and in later chapters with some implied qualifications), yet it has gradually become clear to me that the qualifications required practically obliterate the doctrine as enunciated by them. It has become clear to me that if, among ourselves, the current belief is that a man who robs and does not repent will be eternally damned, while an accepted proverb among the Bilochs is that “God will not favor a man who does not steal and rob,” it is impossible to hold that men have in common an innate perception of right and wrong.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 14, “Summary of Inductions.”

“[T]he sentiments and ideas current in each society become adjusted to the kinds of activity predominating in it”

Where the predominant social cooperations take the form of constant fighting with adjacent peoples, there grows up a pride in aggression and robbery, revenge becomes an imperative duty, skilful lying is creditable, and (save in small tribes which do not develop) obedience to despotic leaders and rulers is the greatest virtue; at the same time there is a contempt for industry and only such small regard for justice within the society as is required to maintain its existence. On the other hand, where the predominant social cooperations have internal sustentation for their end, while cooperations against external enemies have either greatly diminished or disappeared, unprovoked aggression brings but partial applause or none at all; robbery, even of enemies, ceases to be creditable; revenge is no longer thought a necessity; lying is universally reprobated; justice in the transactions of citizens with one another is insisted upon; political obedience is so far qualified that submission to a despot is held contemptible; and industry, instead of being considered disgraceful, is considered as, in some form or other, imperative on every one.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 14, “Summary of Inductions.”

If any one says that the men who form the land-grabbing nations of Europe, cannot be ruled in their daily lives by an ethical sentiment, but must have it enforced by the fear of damnation, I am not prepared to contradict him. If a writer who, according to those who know represents truly the natures of the gentlemen we send abroad, sympathetically describes one of them as saying to soldiers shooting down tribes fighting for their independence — “Give ’em hell, men”; I think those are possibly right who contend that such natures are to be kept in check only by fear of a God who will “give ’em hell” if they misbehave. It is, I admit, a tenable supposition that belief in a deity who calmly looks on while myriads of his creatures suffer eternal torments, may fitly survive during a state of the world in which naked barbarians and barbarians in skins are being overrun by barbarians in broadcloth.

But to the few who, looking back on the changes which past thousands of years have witnessed, look forward to the kindred changes which future thousands of years may be expected to bring, it will be a satisfaction to contemplate a humanity so adapted to harmonious social life that all needs are spontaneously and pleasurably fulfilled by each without injury to others.

Herbert Spencer, The Inductions of Ethics (1892), Chapter 14, “Summary of Inductions.” [conclusion]

The Dirty Open Secret of Socialism was “proletarisation” — the process by which artisans, independent contractors, professionals, entrepreneurs would be forced to work for wages:

In order that the “Socialist evolution” may be realized, it is necessary that industry and capital should be concentrated in a few hands, and, on the other hand, that there should be a great mass of wage‐​earners, increasingly wretched and deprived of all personal property. Such is the process as determined by Marx and Engels in the “Communist Manifesto,” and confirmed by the Erfurt Congress in 1891.

But this phenomenon does not appear if the “artisan” works in isolated independence; neither does it appear if those who carry on small industries, working in their own houses, have not been previously absorbed in the proletariat crowd of workmen employed in the great industries; not does it appear if the small proprietor preserves his love of individual property. The prophesied social evolution miscarries; the heralded paradise of the socialization of all the means of production and exchange vanishes. Democracy and Socialism are antagonistic.

Have I invented and formulated this proposition for polemical purposes? It comes from a Socialist, Herr Werner Sombart.

“What should be the attitude of socialism with regard to the masses which have not yet fallen into the ranks of the proletariat, such as the lower middle class (petite bourgeoisie) and of that part of the population which may perhaps never exhibit any tendency to inclusion in the proletariat? Should the object of the proletariat be essentially proletarian or should it be democratic? If it become democratic, what becomes of its programme? Is it to be socialism or democracy? The fundamental contention is expressed in the opposition between these two points of view.”

Bernstein published a series of articles in 1905 under the title, “Will Social Democracy Become Popular?”

In order to obtain recruits for the Socialist army it is necessary to “proletariarise” those who carry on small industries as well as small trades, and the owners of small properties, all of whom display elements of resistance to the socialization of the means of production. The movement of concentration, which does not take place naturally, must be obtained by force, in order to arrive at the catastrophe foretold by Karl Marx, as “on the one hand a few large industrial establishments and on the other the masses who possess nothing at all, the former absorbing the latter without their being able to offer resistance.”

In order to reach this point, the simplicity and ignorance of the very persons is to be exploited whom it is proposed to ruin, and of their representatives in Parliament. And legislation is to be carried out on the lines of social insurance and regulation of labour, in such a manner as to annihilate the small men, to overburden them with general expenses and risks, to close their shops and businesses and to try by artificial means to bring about the concentration of industries to which economic liberty fails to lend itself.

Werner Sombart frankly recognizes this when he says that “a good system of workmen’s legislation is a weapon of the highest order for proprietors of undertakings on a large scale, wherewith to ruin the small men and disembarrass themselves of their competition.

M. E. Vandervelde also demands this factitious concentration. “We must, he says, “wish for, and even foster by legislative measures, the passing of the degenerate forms of individual production into the superior forms of production in common.”

Yves Guyot, Socialistic Fallacies (1910).

While there are elements of this at work today — leaders of the dirigiste state often conspire against independent contractors, as recently shown in California, with Assembly Bill 5, largely because independent contractors tend to be . . . independent — this is not the big move today.

The Dirty Open Secret of Woke Progressivism is the political-cultural necessity always to increase the number of people dependent upon subsidy — and the reliance upon those not proletarised and not made dependents.

For remember: old-time socialism was seen as everyone working for a central authority and receiving “just wages” for their work, whatever that could mean.

Today’s wokester progressives don’t like work much, and demand, instead, to give people stuff for free. Production is not really a big part of their system. It’s just the secret thing they tend to despise. Their ideal job is not even a tech job, it’s a government job: easy, great benefits, early retirement, and you get to boss other people (preferably cis-white males) around.

This makes their schemes completely reliant upon taxpayers, of course. And this entails, in economic terms, reliance upon the proletarians in the market but mainly upon the successful artisans, independent contractors, professionals, and entrepreneurs — and of course the despised hyper-“privileged” owners of land and capital (those who make their living by rent and profit).

Now, older progressives and “progressive conservatives” (really, conservative-minded progressives) once honored the contributors; they extolled those who succeeded and thus serve not only as vanguards of market progress but also as benefactors via charity and even (or, especially) via state redistribution.

Today’s progressives have taken from the socialists not the programs of centralized economic management (boring!) so much as the socialist hatred and envy for the productive who materially serve as benefactors — but offend by being successful when others are not. “The Top One Percent,” for example.

This puzzles conservatives, even enrages them, since it is the essence of conservatism to honor the productive, the achievers, and benefactors, to advance gratefulness. They see in today’s progressives nothing but ingrates.

They are correct. Progressives in the modern vein are indeed ingrates; they promote a system that cannot work, and offends against common sense by lacking gratitude, honor, or aspiration. They are moochers by nature. They are to be despised. As soon as the old pro-productivity element in progressivism goes, there is nothing left good in progressives. Even their desire to help becomes greed and envy and hatred.

We could talk and argue with the progressives who were technocrats, and with progressives who leaned conservatives and thought they were conservative.

It is much harder to argue with the new sort, just as it was nearly impossible to argue with socialists, real socialists.

For they have accepted unsustainable social attitudes as well as an unworkable system. They have embraced systemic anti-sociality.

What do I mean? Well, consult Oscar Wilde, whose embrace of an “individualistic” anti-property quasi-socialism entailed a complete rejection of the altruistic sentiment so common under the capitalism of his day, and who, deep down, seemed to hate capitalism because it required too much attention to others’ needs!

Yes, this new form of progressivism is inherently anti-social.

Oh, sure, a few social groups are fixated upon — you know, as Victims to be honored, secretly pitied, and formally subsidized and promoted. But with this victim cultism comes a target class, for subsidizing some must come at the expense of the non-victims and non-oppressors, who are (or were) the vast majority.

While libertarian theorists will look at woke-progressive demands as unworkable and indeed crazy, conservatives will judge progressive attitudes as ungrateful and uncivilized. And what of old-time progressives and socialists? They will be puzzled by the moral perversity, though unable quite to put their fingers on the problem, since they themselves have so many sub rosa fixations and assumptions that are embarrassing to be made public or even conscious, and which, in fact, gave rise to the new mobbing losers.

But most old progressives I know fall in line with the new woke progressivism of, say, the Squad — the Millennial Democrats in Congress. Old-time progressives have been flirting with socialistic critiques of freedom for so long, and are so addicted to redistribution and regulation that they have nothing left to defend themselves from the agendas of the wokester-barbarian horde.

This is the cultural contradiction of the time. It is fun to watch. It can be great fun to scorn the new ingrates and utopians in their “protest” mobs. But their danger is real.

All-too-real.

Now, I can see why many old-time progressive-symp libertarians (the beltway types) might think this period cannot last, that it’ll just fizzle. Meh, they say. Typical Gen X judgment.

And they are right to understand that woke-progressive ingrate redistributionism is doomed. No doubt. The current woke-progressive program and integral attitudes cannot be sustained.

But it may not necessarily fizzle. It could be an explosion. Or implosion.

The devastation could be vast.

twv

About once a week I catch myself posting to the wrong page on Facebook, to the wrong audience.

Usually I catch before I post. Sometimes after. That is embarrassing.

This sort of lapse is unfortunate when you post for different reasons, sometimes exploring an idea that most people find threatening or “offensive,” or when engaging in some irony or japery that most won’t get, or merely out of place, as when one discusses philosophy on an animal appreciation page.

When I worked at Liberty magazine, decades ago, much of the badinage there could not take place outside the rooms of that business. And shouldn’t. And some of what was said probably shouldn’t have been said. But most sins of speech were venial sins.

None of this is about First Amendment rights to free speech. But it is about a kind of free speech, and the erosion of the idea from public culture. 

Though the current “cancel culture” that says we must terminate the employment of anyone who says things we don’t like — no matter how legal — is mostly alien to me, I guess I can see why some people fall into this. Could it be because they want not an open arena of adults “agreeing to disagree,” but safe spaces where their ideas aren’t challenged?

Right now, one half the country has become increasingly intolerant while preaching tolerance; the other half has become increasingly tolerant of intolerance, because of the intolerance of the professedly tolerant. Generally, I’m on the side of the latter, not the former, because I cannot stand Ms. Grundys, and, like John Stuart Mill, think the culture of an open society should be generally tolerant, not “repressively tolerant” as in neo-Marxist nutbar Herbert Marcuse. 

But it is apparent that now is a Marcusian moment, not a Millian one. 

I realize that, in today’s environment, I am almost unemployable in a normal job that is subject to pressure by the woke mobs. This gives me pause.

Not long ago, a woman was fired by a private company for her very non-business-related posting of the “all lives matter” slogan on her Facebook page — and the Libertarian Party presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen cited, to a C-Span audience, this sad and intrusive event as an example of businesses resisting discrimination. How deeply messed-up this is? Hilarious. Which is why I’ve been joking about this with a few friends today, making elaborate goofy arguments back and forth. But the truth, all kidding aside, is that Jo Jo doesn’t understand the current cultural climate. De-platforming, doxxing, and similar bullying events are not examples of companies being “against discrimination.” (For one thing, the lady fired was truly against discrimination by saying “all lives matter”! There are many levels of hilarity here.) It is about kowtowing to pressure groups, to intransigent minorities.

First-Amendment free speech rights cannot long last in a society where one group is given license to prescribe the speech for all.

That is the current situation.

What we are witnessing is an ideological monoculture aiming for hegemony over the open society.

I prefer multiculturalism, actually, and free association, and think I could demonstrate, if required, how cultural diversity requires a small government and a general right of free speech and free association. But those who pretend to be multiculturalist are now pushing a political monoculture and are poised to use hate speech laws (as in Europe and the British Commonwealth nation-states) to proscribe free speech.

The idea that we should, as a courtesy, target our comments to the most receptive audiences is not a problem. But that we do so out of fear is a big problem.

We truly do live in interesting times.

twv

Be polite to polite people. Be cuttingly, bitingly polite to rude people. Avoid violent people, but be prepared for violence if avoidance is not an option.

Approach each encounter offering the best . . . but be ready for the worst. The rule, after initial encounter, is reciprocity, tit for tat. When asymmetry appears inevitable, defend, be prepared even to destroy. Anything else risks encouraging the worst behaviors.

We train strangers and even our enemies. As well as our friends. 

Some might say this is what it means ‘to be a man.’ But I am unclear how this would not apply to women.

twv

Why are many libertarians not marching in the BLM protests?

…as answered on Quora….

Many?

Any?

I cannot speak for others. I know why I regard the movement with deep suspicion. 

And would not join their marches, sit-ins and riots.

I am very concerned about the police abuse of citizens. I made most of my family members deeply uncomfortable with my views on the subject for the past ten years. But I am against unlawful killings regardless of the races of the victims or the perpetrators. Black Lives Matter activists seem only interested when the victim is black. So, we are not simpatico.

But mainly I despise initiated violence, disruptions of the peace — whether done by the police or by mobs. These protests have turned to riot all over the United States. Burnings, looting, assaults — despicable actions, largely against innocents. I am against all this. “Categorically,” as we used to say, we who lived through the Nixon Era.

Now, for one thing, the evidence from social and political science is that rioting reduces support for the cause over the long haul. Rioting in the late Sixties led to Nixon’s two wins, which was surely not what the rioters wanted.

Or was it?

But it is more basic than that. Rioting is evil, and a protest is OK only if it is lawful and obeys the rule of law. In America, we make much of the right to PEACEABLY assemble, and rightly so. Well, rioting is not peaceable assembly, and the protesters’ commandeering of private and public property without permission (license) is not covered in the right we know and love. And think about it, earnest protestors: you may not throw a brick, a punch, or a Molotov cocktail, but if after nearly every one of your protests others horn in and wreak havoc, committing mayhem, then you are doing it wrong.

Libertarians are smart enough not to get caught up in this mess.

Why aren’t the protesters?

Well, they get caught up in a mania. And they follow cues: from the corporate media, from a few politicians, from race hustlers, and from the madness of crowds.

Libertarians have many faults. Sometimes I wonder how a group of people with the highest average IQs among all the major political cohorts can be so uniformly ineffective. How dumb can smart people be?

Well, not dumb enough to fall for the major media push for a race war.

twv