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Legitimate boundaries for state action

ronyaronya Arrrrrrf.the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
edited May 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
Splitting off from the burqa thread because the line of argument has nothing to do with burqas or the French regulation in particular:

Warning: text. I'll attempt to summarize them at the end, but I am likely to misrepresent my interlocutors so let me reproduce what has been said first:
ronya wrote: »
moniker wrote: »
ronya wrote: »
moniker wrote: »
ronya wrote: »
moniker wrote: »
ronya wrote: »
MrMister wrote: »
Julius wrote: »
I guess I'm weird in that I don't believe that crazy people's antics shouldn't be provided for by any public instance.

Which sounds better: liberal tolerance, or the wars of religion? I'd go with liberal tolerance.

Alternate answer: religion is generally a fundamental part of people's identities and self-conceptions. If we place any value on personal autonomy at all, then we'll allow people to freely exercise their religion.

I'll bite the bullet and assert that states have a legitimate authority in shaping the nature of national, religious and cultural identity if the democratic polity so decides; obviously, the decisionmaking process should exercise caution, and the measures taken minimally intrusive where possible, but I think the legitimacy of any resulting relevant legislation here should not be considered invalid on the sole grounds of individual liberty.

To sketch the argument in principle, and I should emphasize that I do not wish to draw any far-fetched analogies here - modern states are complicated institutions that implicitly require that cultural expression fall within certain bounds; capitalism requires a carefully inculcated alienation and submission to private authority, secularism requires a maintained dissonance over how certain your religious convictions really are, welfare requires an moral identification with your poorer brethren, etc. It wasn't so terribly long ago that one's inherited career was a fundamental part of one's identity and self-conception but obviously modern economies would have a great deal of trouble working with this.

To pick an easy example - consider India. It is a deeply embedded cultural practice for families to favor sons; in a background where sons no longer die rapidly to conflict and disease, this is a problem. Infanticide is easy to ban but ultrasounds and sex-selective abortions are harder technologies to seal away. Obviously this doesn't weigh in favor of any imaginable intrusive intervention, but if the democratic government of an Indian state decided to punish sex-selective abortions, subsidize having daughters, or bombard new couples with progressive propaganda, I daresay it has every legitimate authority in doing so. We have some knowledge of what the institutions of a modern liberal state should look like. Why wait?

Again, I am contesting the principle that individual expression of identity and self-conception override state interests; my choice of example has nothing to do with burqas. To drag in burqas would require some presumptions that are dubious at best, especially an argument that the practice is likely to spread. The argument for harm is simple - status quos are capable of exercising social pressures and the entrenchment of an overtly religious status quo enforced through the wearing of a prominent restrictive garment would not be desirable - but two thousand burqas do not threaten the independent communal identity of the French Muslim subcommunity, never mind the French nation.

I rather regard that if France had done nothing and twiddled on its thumbs in this matter, burqas would likely remain fringe. The full-body veil did become entrenched in the Arab world apparently abruptly, but in those states gangs of prowling religious enforcers played a part and this does not seem likely to occur in France. I do think that, despite my lack of personal belief that the threat is real or imminent, that the French government has the legitimate authority to legislate here.

And I strongly disagree because the institutions of a modern liberal state should ideally promote Majority Rule with Minority Rights. This specific issue tramples on the rights of individual women as well as a minority religion. I don't quite see how the same frame holds true for outlawing sex-selective abortions or dedicating funds to pamphleting. If the French government wanted to spend $Riviera on PSA's telling Muslim women to throw off the shackles of a veil and embrace French fashion I'd be perfectly fine with it. It does not. It uses the authority of the State to dictate acceptable wardrobes in a facially neutral language that happens to target a specific minority. That is horrible and an abuse of the legitimate function of how the State interacts with individuals.

At risk of utterly breaking an analogy which I specifically avoided because analogizing hasn't really improved discourse in this thread, I daresay the closer element would be to the outlawing rather than to the pamphleting (trivia: it is, actually, illegal to conduct or have sex-selective abortions in many states in India).

I'm not seeing how it might be acceptable to tell women what to do with their bodies in one case due to a perceived cultural fault but not acceptable in the other. Is it the minority aspect here that is the key difference?

And I just don't see how the contexts are similarly applicable. I don't believe nor am I arguing for individual liberty uber alles as the basis for my disagreement with the burqa ban or similar. I agree with you that the State has a legitimate role in creating laws that abridge individual rights/liberties under certain circumstances. My argument is that the State has to cross over a pretty high bar in order to justify restrictions and so forth. I also believe that this requirement should be on a sliding scale depending upon the subject. Issues of free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion should force any attempt at curtailing them to be excessively high because it doesn't really infringe upon anyone else's rights (you do not have the right to not be offended) and because of my conviction that an open marketplace of ideas is necessary for a democracy to thrive.

To complicate matters more and make even worse analogies that aren't really analogous: There is no library large enough nor with a budget big enough to contain the entirety of published works. This means that they have to decide on what to collect and what to keep out and balance it with the principle of open access to the world's knowledge. The difference between selection and censorship is very fine. It is also extremely important.

Wait, so do you concede the right of the state to abridge individual rights and liberties in the areas of freedom of speech, expression and religion or not? Saying "the state has a right to restrict X but any attempt to restrict X should be subjected to a test that should be excessively high so that it will fail it" doesn't meaningfully allow for "the state has a right to restrict X".

In extremely tightly defined circumstances, yes I do. These are pretty much solely those that are necessary for a functioning society. Meaning perjury when addressing a criminal justice system built on the assumption of truthful testimony and expressions of imminent lawlessness. Note that this isn't just general lawlessness, but actual incitement to riot for which the police would have no reasonable time of preparation.
ronya wrote: »
My point is not just that states have a right to restrict expression and religion, but that states have a legitimate right to do so in pursuit of the explicit goal of reshaping individual identities; the proposal-specific test I would prefer applied would that of practical efficacy in engineering an outcome from which the marketplace of ideas can carry out the rest - placing a thumb on the scales to achieve a desired outcome or get it to adjust faster to a desired outcome, so to speak. At some point restrictions have to be lifted or legitimized, as a moral and practical democratic matter. It is too my conviction that an open marketplace of ideas is necessary for democracy to thrive; I am skeptical of how well it can function in the short run, though. Cultural evolution takes generations.

This I disagree with completely. (Well, not the last sentence, mind.) The State does not have a legitimate right to restrict expression solely on the basis of social engineering or pushing desired social outcomes. It is blatantly viewpoint discrimination and using force of law to prevent ideas from being voiced. Again "Let's all kill that guy over there with this knife I have in my hand right now!" is not legitimately protected speech, but only due to the fact that violence would be imminent. "Somebody should knife Bernie Madoff" is, and by right out to be, protected speech that the State cannot legitimately use its power to curtail. Even though the sentiment of murdering Bernie Madoff is (arguably) not in the State's interest.

Yes, it is viewpoint discrimination; my conviction is that we can safely judge that some views are definitely not going to win in the marketplace of ideas given long enough and so pressuring these views to go away faster is a legitimate goal of the state.

It is a common libertarian pretense that legal recognition of some set of individual rights and the protection of said rights from physical attack is the be-all and end-all of liberty; well, no, nonstate institutions are quite capable of exerting restrictions on individual liberty, and one hardly needs to have a knife waved at one's person in order to be intimidated. A media personality exhorting a massive audience to knife Bernie Madoff can reasonably expect that at least one of his listeners may take the advice to heart; if Bernie Madoff is then knifed, to assert that the personality bears no moral culpability seems to me implausible.

Libertarians argue that civil rights violate personal liberties - freedom of association, in particular - and well, yes they do; I would defend this violation on the same grounds; you may dislike interacting with protected groups but to hell with your personal disposition here - the state has every right to coerce you into doing otherwise, even if no substantive material harm would come to those protected in the absence of state action (they could always shop elsewhere, but that's not the point). I do recognize that such restrictions are, in practice, ineffective at actually fighting discrimination - their primary effect is in forming a new status quo in social interaction; identically any attempt at social engineering must consider the same pragmatic issues: one cannot change minds easily, but it is much easier to nudge the status quo so that the single violator becomes the one breaking social norms rather than the single protected individual.
Lawndart wrote: »
ronya wrote: »
...

That's a difficult question for me, however the advantages of having roughly equal numbers of men and women in the various age cohorts of a society are more readily apparent and less up to personal interpretation than the advantages of having no women being allowed to wear certain garments of clothing.

I do think that outlawing gender selection as a stated reason for abortion is thus more acceptable a use of governmental power than establishing the anti-burqa (or pro-burqa) fashion police, but if push came to shove I'd also agree that other governmental programs to improve the conditions of women and alter cultural perceptions of female worth might be a less coercive and perhaps more effective way of reaching the same goal.
MrMister wrote: »
ronya wrote: »
MrMister wrote: »
ronya wrote: »
Spoiler:

I don't think that the examples you use actually have any traction. After all, it is allowed in our society that one might reject the capitalist paradigm and move to a commune, and, further, that is exactly the sort of freedom the liberal writers cherish. It may be the case that were we not to have certain compassion, then we could not sustain a welfare program, but, fortunately, we do have such compassion, and as such we are willing to sustain a welfare program: as such a welfare program is consistent with our autonomous choice. Furthermore, far from family careers being dead and gone, many people do in fact take pride in their careers, and especially in careers that are familial, but this is perfectly consistent with liberalism and personal autonomy. What would be inconsistent with liberalism would be enforcing a caste system wherein labor options are closed off by birth: however, simply allowing people to make their family traditions, including the career, a central part of their lives is most certainly allowable. It is, again, exactly the sort of diversity in modes of life that liberal writers cherish.

There are a number of rationales for why we should have this sort of personal autonomy, and why your expansive view of state power must be wrong. The first, and perhaps most practical, is that people never actually agree on what the good life is, let alone which religion is correct. So if we want to live together in peace and never repeat the bloodbaths of the wars of religion, then we've got to figure out how to live and let live as much as possible. Second, and still rather practical, whatever the good life is, we do not really trust the state to figure it out--this is especially true if the good life varies from person to person. The best way of living possible is better left to the discovery of a marketplace of ideas where radically different conceptions are allowed to freely compete and prove themselves. Finally, perhaps a bit more abstractly, autonomy itself is valuable. Living the very best human life involves making free choices among competing conceptions of the good.

I think that, in fact, all of these arguments are good. So there is a superabundance of reasons to be a liberal political theorist, and as such, there is a superabundance of reasons to take the state to be limited in its legitimate intrusions into the individual's pursuit of happiness.
ronya wrote: »
Spoiler:

As far as I see, there are two ways to go for the liberal theorist.

1) The sex imbalance literally threatens the continued ability of the state to provide for the needs of its citizens. If this is so, then certain liberal values may have to give. John Stuart Mill and Rousseau, for instance, both think that there are certain populations which are simply not governable by liberal social systems--they are too conflict-torn, barbaric, intolerant, and ignorant to benefit from a liberal political framework. It may be that the population of India is one such population. That would be the case if the cultural value on having boys were such that it would literally destroy their society were it allowed to go on uninterfered with.

2) Sex-selective abortions should be legal. This, I have to say, strikes me as more plausible.

On the first point - yes, it is acceptable in the liberal developed world to reject the capitalist paradigm; my sense that this acceptability arises from the fact that doing so is resolutely fringe and likely to remain so. But being that our material welfare is dependent on people being amenable toward the capitalist mode of economic production, were this to threaten to become widespread, states that fail to reinforce an inculcated acquiescence would fare much worse than states that do, and I have no doubt that a post hoc popular outlook would condemn the former.

We associate recessions and depressions with great suffering but even very damaging recessions can entail only a few percentage points of national income lost. Normal unemployment is somewhere around 4%, 8% is a political crisis, 12% would be a national emergency - we are, as a society, materially sensitive to failures of modern institutions to deliver. In practice such failures are rare, of course, but this would be because liberal states have become extremely effective at acculturating their people into accepting the restrictions necessary for this to be the case. The social acceptance of the phenomenon of industrial unemployment and job search is hardly a natural instinct. Neither is alienation of labor. Nor mass compulsory education, at that. We do, in fact, close off some options at birth: you are not allowed to abandon formal education at the age of ten to apprentice yourself to your family career, even if you and your family are unanimous in this desire.

The traditional liberal arguments for compulsory education, actually, are that it increases personal autonomy. An illiterate person, for instance, is extremely limited in their life choices. That is not to say that compulsory education does not close off some options. But the doors it closes must be balanced against the doors it opens, and the doors it opens seem more important to individual self-determination than vice versa. But that is not to say that things can never go in the other direction. You say that we never allow children to drop out of school, regardless of their family or life plans, but since Wisconsin v. Yoder the Amish have a constitutionally protected right to withdraw their children from school after the 8th grade.

Compulsory education represents a certain sort of balancing: balancing the closing off of certain options against the closing off of others, and trying in the end to leave open the most numerous and most important of them. But there is also balancing across people. Liberal political philosophers typically advocate for the most possible individual autonomy so long as it is consistent with similar autonomy for others. The autonomy of others present boundaries to the sorts of freedoms consistent with a liberal society. For instance, it is simply not possible for a liberal society to allow a religious order which seeks to punish apostasy with death. There is one sort of autonomy which liberalism does not recognize, and that is the autonomy to coerce and terrorize others.

This restriction explains the cases you raise of segregated neighborhoods and the right to work. The liberty to segregate your neighborhood is inconsistent both with the liberty of others to free movement and the liberty of your neighbors to sell their property to whomever they see fit. The right to hold a particular job is inconsistent with the liberty of the employer. This sort of balancing is often difficult to do at the margins of liberal political theory, and you are right that the boundaries often evolve alongside social attitudes. But that fact does not implicate the liberal political theorist in any form of hypocrisy or self-contradiction: they are thoroughly consistent in their desire to promote individual freedom insofar as is compatible with a scheme that grants equal such freedom to others.
ronya wrote: »
We willingly romanticize the inherited career but when labor demands that economic change halt so that an important element of their personal identity may continue to support their lifestyle - itself likely an element of their personal identity - society collectively shrugs and suggests a job search while on the dole; we may identify with our careers but by societal judgment we are not owed it. Our career is not, in fact, ours. Mass acceptance that one is entitled to an unemployment check but not employment is an engineered result of decades of bitter political strife, not self-evident natural law. We celebrate the historically ethnic neighborhood but when residents demand the right to manage who their new neighbors may acceptably be, we deny them that right, and instead demand that they accept that their neighborhood identity may be irrevocably altered through demographic shift and there is nothing there that is owed to them.

Inculcating the acceptance of all this - that these are things that you may consider yours or your individual perogative or responsibility, and those are not, regardless of their impact on your lifestyle or identity - is very much an artificial practice and the scope of said things has changed before and will probably change again. Don't make the mistake of internalizing this inculcation to the point where you mistake for the state of nature!

On the second - society does not need to be literally destroyed for there to be perceptibly undesirable changes, surely! Societies can tolerate a great deal of suffering before being plausibly said to be destroyed. And states can certainly continue to provide for their citizens despite said suffering simply by diminishing to a minimum level of provision. But if you would tolerate this over submitting to state-led cultural engineering, I daresay your requirement for giving up classical liberalism is too strict. Liberals make good citizens of a classically liberal state, but people are not generally born classically liberal; sometimes you will have to force the issue.

(My own tolerance for such illiberal paternalism is, I admit, probably higher than yours. I do think yours is implausibly low compared to what might be considered reasonable, though. We're both making ambitious extrapolations from some underlying instincts here, albeit in opposite directions)

Liberals typically agree that the state has business in regulating behaviors which cause direct harm to others. So there is no danger that we are going to let looters run wild because that is their autonomous choice. So, if the suffering that you are describing takes the form of harm to others, then there is no problem here.

But, however, if the 'undesirable changes' you describe the state to be undergoing do not consist in direct harm to others, then no, the state has no business intervening. The ruling coalition may find an increase in homosexuality undesirable; they do not thereby obtain the right to raid gay bars. The ruling coalition may find the spread of a minority religion undesirable; they do not thereby obtain the right to persecute it. The ruling coalition may feel more affinity for business than for labor; they do not thereby obtain the right to assassinate union organizers. Topically, the ruling coalition may find a certain religious mode of dress distasteful, but they do not thereby have the right to levy fines against it.

That you would entrust to the state such broad powers is fairly shocking. I cannot think of a single American president in my lifetime to whom I would entrust the authority to deem harmless activities undesirable and deploy coercive force accordingly. Nor can I think of a time wherein too much liberal tolerance lead to mass suffering and atrocities, but I can certainly think of times where too little liberal tolerance did. Even if our paternalists are well-intentioned, which they rarely are, we still cannot trust them to get it right. Alan Turing was given court-ordered hormone therapy for his own good. Whoever wants to live in such a state? Whoever thinks that is the very best form of state?

Woof. Okay. Quick summary: I am arguing that there is a legitimate role of the state in pursuing social engineering (via the state monopoly on the use of force and its ensuing powers); moniker and MrMister disagree and argue (I think) a classically liberal position built on individual autonomy.

Some heretofore unstated context here: the intellectual framework I am arguing from is that of institutional economics, where we have reason to believe that some sets of social institutions are compatible with improvements in material welfare and/or modern liberal democratic politics and some are not. This does not entail an inevitable One True Way at the end of history a la Fukuyama; there can be and apparently is institutional diversity; the assertion is that of all the institutional arrangements which we may observe existing, there are some which don't 'work' to produce wider outcomes that may be considered acceptable (remember that the consequence of material stagnation is not an idyllic escape from consumerist materialism: the consequence is endemic poverty, as per most of the history of human civilization and indeed the majority of humanity today). Given the unacceptability of waiting for cultural change to take place at an individual pace, and the developed-world refusal to readily integrate individuals into their societies, the developmental state can and is morally obliged to act: to dissolve traditional schools and rural institutions by force, to industrialize even at the expense of disrupting the existing implicit social bargain between rich and poor, or to forcibly demobilize existing power brokers organized along (say) ethnic lines. If this entails prohibiting the free practice of religious traditions along the way, then so be it; funeral ceremonies that absorb a fifth of an average laborer's lifetime income are a real thing, reinforced by a sense of social shame if a family member's funeral is insufficiently gaudy.

The difference between the developmental state and the developed state would be one of degree, not kind, in my view: the problems of maladapted institutions are smaller and thus the measures taken should be less intrusive, but there may be legitimate interventions nonetheless.

MrMister has mentioned the Wars of Religion twice, which would be consistent with a classically liberal outlook; the danger here is not the persistence of bad institutions but instead state power being mobilized toward oppression of groups not favored by the ruling regime. We therefore restrain the power of the state via recognizing a given set of individual rights which may not be violated through the currently prevailing regime, thus (I presume) preventing the persistent chaos of organized groups struggling for the power to violently eliminate all their competitors. No side would feel obliged to risk everything for power, because the cost of them being briefly relegated to the loyal opposition would not include their life, limbs, or property. Thus we have the foundation of a liberal democracy: liberal for its guarantee of a minimum of individual autonomy, and democratic for submitting all other matters to the sovereignty of the popular vote, violating either of these only in the gravest of national emergencies.

We are both invoking civil rights legislation as examples of our preferred outlooks; MrMister identifies these as protecting assorted freedoms covered under individual autonomy, such as liberty of movement. I daresay that even a bare minimum of civil rights protection violates freedom of association, and so be it; furthermore, any attempt to rapidly create an environment conducive to egalitarian levels of individual autonomy would necessarily entail dismantling existing discriminatory environments: secularizing privately-run parochial schools, say. It would not suffice to demand that schools be secular or even just non-discriminatory as a condition of state funding if popular schools need no such funding (an outcome more common outside the US, where traditional schools can have nontrivial endowment funds). The existing state of the world matters.

MrMister's latest salvo is written from the perspective of one living in a classically liberal utopia, which is unexpected. We do in fact let American federal and state administrations exercise coercive force against harmless activities - with aggressive protections for religious harmless activities, due to the history of the republic, but generic harmlessness is no protection. We can readily contest the merit of these policy moves, but the legitimacy of the state in doing so is surely not being contested here, is it? There is no constitutional legal test encapsulating the Harm Principle.

The statements "the state may legitimately do X" and "the state should do X" are quite different creatures unless one subscribes to a wholly utilitarian approach to state legitimacy, which I think nobody here does. Utility enters only in the sense of classes of actions containing at least one plausibly desirable possibility for the state to pursue, isn't it: states may raise taxes, but individual tax proposals can be terrible ideas? American states can prosecute you for possessing prohibited substances in the privacy of your own home, harming no-one, but the individual substance proposed for prohibition may be a Prohibition-level disaster? And so on.

And the state should possess, legitimately, the power the pursue cultural engineering through its coercive powers; whether a given proposal to do so is remotely beneficial would be another question entirely.

Post edited by ronya on
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Comments

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Wheel of Time Book 12 by Ronya

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  • Dr Mario KartDr Mario Kart Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm not entirely sure whats going on, but I'll issue some thoughts that occurred while reading the OP.

    In a democracy, the government can do anything that a majority of people/representatives can pass as long as its constitutional - social/cultural engineering is largely not exempted from any constitutions, so they do have that power. And by they, I mean the people. I dont draw a particularly sharp distinction between the state and the people in a democracy, even though that assumes a rather Utopian ideal of democracy. Minority rights are only protected by the constitution, and laws passed provided they are constitutional. I'm pretty much for 50%+1 doing whatever the hell they want, even if its harmful, provided they stay within that legal parameter.

    The core act of democracy though, voting, somewhat undermines personal autonomy - Whether or not you voted, you've got to go along with the majority now, even if the outcome is not to your liking. In talking to a lot of my libertarian friends, I've found that many of them may in reality be anarcho-capitalists. They seem to think that dollars voting in the marketplace is preferable to actual voting.

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    And the state should possess, legitimately, the power the pursue cultural engineering through its coercive powers; whether a given proposal to do so is remotely beneficial would be another question entirely.

    I'm not sure how you could have a modern. western government that didn't do "cultural engineering." I mean, that's basically the libertarian fantasy, right? A government unable to make any kind of social policy?

    I'm not even really sure what this argument is about, to be honest; assuming nobody is in favor of the libertarian roads/tanks/courts form of limited government.

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  • Chaos PunkChaos Punk Registered User
    edited April 2011
    The core act of democracy though, voting, somewhat undermines personal autonomy - Whether or not you voted, you've got to go along with the majority now, even if the outcome is not to your liking. In talking to a lot of my libertarian friends, I've found that many of them may in reality be anarcho-capitalists. They seem to think that dollars voting in the marketplace is preferable to actual voting.

    I know most people that post on this board are more or less progressives, so out of a sign of respect I put my rather lengthy response in the spoiler so you can choose to view it or skip it.

    Thanks
    Spoiler:


    I Welcome any thoughts/debates,

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Any ideology that attempts to reconstruct human instinct and behavior, regardless of how mathematically sound it appears in format, is doomed to inevitable failure.
    I believe a good structure of law... enables private citizens by allowing them freedom of consumption and expression, inhibits wanton cruelty against citizens (whether perpetrated by the state, employer or other citizens), and moderates legal discrepencies that cannot be resolved between citizens in a court of law.

    These two statements appear contradictory.

    also

    If you (apparently) don't think the state should be enforcing "compulsory submission" to its laws, what use is the state at all?

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
    I'll burn'em for the return of my investment funds
  • Andy JoeAndy Joe Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Anti-gambling laws, pitbill and rotweiller bans, outdoor cooking bans, smoking bans, anti-drug laws, anti-homosexual laws, speech codes, gun control, etc, etc are all good examples of the state losing its composure and resorting to micromanaging, and then utilizing violence to ensure that their "benevolent" orders are followed.

    Some level of animal control, drug regulation, gambling restrictions, pollution restriction, and gun control are obviously necessary and within the legitimate purview of the state. The label "micromanaging" you have applied to this list has no content; I can see no reasonable basis for distinguishing this sort of "micromanagement" from law against violence, fraud, theft, and nuisance. Legitimate resort to the initial use of force is inherent to the capabilities of a state, and I have never understood why it engenders so much hysteria among libertarians.

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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Chaos Punk, surely you are implicitly assigning every group of individuals some set of rights here, that may not be legitimately contravened by other groups - and then concluding that such a contravention would be illegitimate and thus the state is entitled only to act in those cases? There is a circularity here.

    When groups use force to revoke the liberties of another group, they typically believe this use of force is in a legitimate defense of their own rights. Perhaps they believe they are entitled to rottweiler-free public spaces, and thus to introduce rottweilers into public spaces is a invasive intrusion upon their right. This is wholly consistent with a libertarian defense of property. Your implicit theory of what individuals may presume to be their right is doing all the ethical heavy lifting in your approach, I daresay.

  • AtomikaAtomika Hypercritical Queen Bitch of Cinema Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Ronya's going to hate me for this because I'm not addressing his OP, but I thought this line of inquiry fit too closely with his thesis to rate giving it its own thread. My apologies, Ronya.


    An interesting case was brought to my attention yesterday at one of the partnership hospitals in the system that I currently work for. A 12-year old girl who had be raped and impregnated was going into early labor at 36 weeks. She delivered the baby just fine, and her health and the baby's is not an issue. However, my concern was with the fact that her parents, being fiercely pro-life, were forcing this girl (who was 11 at the time of the rape) to carry this child to term.

    What, if any, is the appropriate boundary for state response in cases like these? Should parents be restricted from making decisions on their pregnant child's behalf? And if so, can we reasonably expect pregnant children to make safe and informed decisions about their own health? Or should the state have the authority to intervene in the process? Are the girl's parents guilty of child abuse?


    So many questions.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Well, thanks for the startlingly clear example of Unclear Individual Rights, I suppose :P

  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Andy Joe wrote: »
    Anti-gambling laws, pitbill and rotweiller bans, outdoor cooking bans, smoking bans, anti-drug laws, anti-homosexual laws, speech codes, gun control, etc, etc are all good examples of the state losing its composure and resorting to micromanaging, and then utilizing violence to ensure that their "benevolent" orders are followed.

    Some level of animal control, drug regulation, gambling restrictions, pollution restriction, and gun control are obviously necessary and within the legitimate purview of the state. The label "micromanaging" you have applied to this list has no content; I can see no reasonable basis for distinguishing this sort of "micromanagement" from law against violence, fraud, theft, and nuisance. Legitimate resort to the initial use of force is inherent to the capabilities of a state, and I have never understood why it engenders so much hysteria among libertarians.

    You can't just proclaim that drug regulation is a legitamit use of force for the state. This thread is a discussion about the legitamit use of force of the state.

    To answer your question "why it engenders so much hysteria among libertarians," well it's because we're libertarians. We believe that if someone is going to fine you, send people at you with guns, break into your home and arrest you until you admit how wrong you were for smoking a drug and how the government was right to take you from your family and incarcerate you, is pretty evil.

    And it is not only harmful to the user, but also the part of the community they were apart of.

    Here's a non-libertarian (libertarian-lite) idea that maybe you'll accept...

    What if instead of breaking into poor people's homes and arresting them for crack dealing, the government instead offered them services. So they don't send cops to the house. They don’t scare the kids or the neighbours. The government just has big advertising campaigns, and rewards-programs for people who give up dope.

    Or public praise, a medal, whatever they think will work. Just not jail, fines or forced medication.

  • AtomikaAtomika Hypercritical Queen Bitch of Cinema Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    Well, thanks for the startlingly clear example of Unclear Individual Rights, I suppose :P

    Yeah, no problem. <img class=" title=":lol:" class="bbcode_smiley" />

    And the state should possess, legitimately, the power the pursue cultural engineering through its coercive powers; whether a given proposal to do so is remotely beneficial would be another question entirely.

    To at least join in the discussion of the OP, I think you know I agree with you on this point, with the caveat that there is likely no grand unifying policy or blanket precedent that can be applied to support that position, and concordantly every instance of top-down motivated social coercion should be taken on a very specific case-by-case basis to best vet its merits, expected ends, and potential counterproductivity.

  • JepheryJephery Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Here in the US we've taken the commerce clause and, with good reason, stretched it to include the power to regulate essentially everything (ok, not everything, but we're going in that direction) regarding transactions between people (except regulations the state is explicitly forbidden from), and the Supreme Court has upheld that interpretation (well, not always). As it turns out the power to regulate commerce is all you need to perform cultural engineering, so as long as the state legitimately has that ability it can and will use it for this perpose.

    }
    "Orkses never lose a battle. If we win we win, if we die we die fightin so it don't count. If we runs for it we don't die neither, cos we can come back for annuver go, see!".
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    You can't just proclaim that drug regulation is a legitamit use of force for the state. This thread is a discussion about the legitamit use of force of the state.

    To answer your question "why it engenders so much hysteria among libertarians," well it's because we're libertarians. We believe that if someone is going to fine you, send people at you with guns, break into your home and arrest you until you admit how wrong you were for smoking a drug and how the government was right to take you from your family and incarcerate you, is pretty evil.

    And it is not only harmful to the user, but also the part of the community they were apart of.

    Here's a non-libertarian (libertarian-lite) idea that maybe you'll accept...

    What if instead of breaking into poor people's homes and arresting them for crack dealing, the government instead offered them services. So they don't send cops to the house. They don’t scare the kids or the neighbours. The government just has big advertising campaigns, and rewards-programs for people who give up dope.

    Or public praise, a medal, whatever they think will work. Just not jail, fines or forced medication.

    Is your dispute with the manner in which the state goes about carrying out its responsibilities, or with the responsibilities the state is claimed to have? Because there are violent and intrusive ways in which the state enforces things like property, too - violence against homeless squatters, for instance - and that does not, in itself, invalidate the concept that the state should protect property claims.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Ronya's going to hate me for this because I'm not addressing his OP, but I thought this line of inquiry fit too closely with his thesis to rate giving it its own thread. My apologies, Ronya.


    An interesting case was brought to my attention yesterday at one of the partnership hospitals in the system that I currently work for. A 12-year old girl who had be raped and impregnated was going into early labor at 36 weeks. She delivered the baby just fine, and her health and the baby's is not an issue. However, my concern was with the fact that her parents, being fiercely pro-life, were forcing this girl (who was 11 at the time of the rape) to carry this child to term.

    What, if any, is the appropriate boundary for state response in cases like these? Should parents be restricted from making decisions on their pregnant child's behalf? And if so, can we reasonably expect pregnant children to make safe and informed decisions about their own health? Or should the state have the authority to intervene in the process? Are the girl's parents guilty of child abuse?


    So many questions.

    Yes, they are very much guilty of child abuse, and I don't see why the case wasn't handled like we would handle cases regarding Jehovah's Witnesses or Christian Scientists. Actually, scratch that, I do know why - the two aforementioned groups are on the fringe, while the rabid pro-lifers are mainstreamed.

    We really should be using guardians ad litem a lot more than we do.

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  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Chaos Punk wrote: »
    For example, the transfat ban in New York City. Any vendor or restraunt must cease using transfats in their recipes for the good of public health (Nanny State) resulting in fines and penalties for any restaurant who disobeys. If they refuse to pay the fines, the police will literally break their doors down and arrest them (Police State). Anti-gambling laws, pitbill and rotweiller bans, outdoor cooking bans, smoking bans, anti-drug laws, anti-homosexual laws, speech codes, gun control, etc, etc are all good examples of the state losing its composure and resorting to micromanaging, and then utilizing violence to ensure that their "benevolent" orders are followed.

    I find the mention of anti-homosexual laws somewhat interesting considering the mainstream libertarian stance on the Civil Rights Act.

    You seem to have an issue with the entire concept of law enforcement. The police arresting people for refusing to pay a fine(ignoring the many steps between fines being issued and a police raid) does not a Police State make. Failure to obey a lawful court order needs to be met with police action for any form of law to be possible, unless every offense will be grounds for immediate arrest and prosecution.

    I'd rather not have paid my speeding ticket, but the eventuality of an arrest warrant being issued had I continuously refused to do so, doesn't make Racine county a Police State.



    I think the biggest flaw with the libertarian viewpoint is it seemingly presumes that all situations can be fixed via the courts after the fact. For example: while I think breed-bans on dogs are misguided(though living in a less nice area of Chicago and seeing the quality of dog ownership and breed preferences there I am reconsidering this), when a pit bull escapes and mauls a child to death, what possible recourse is there.

    Property law style libertarians have it backwards, personal property issues should be far behind public health and safety issues as far as state concerns go. If I steal your car you can buy a new car, if my workplace doesn't follow OSHA safety requirements while doing a pressure test on a vessel and shoots a piece of steel 1/4 mile and through your office window killing you, you're dead.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Chaos Punk wrote: »
    The core act of democracy though, voting, somewhat undermines personal autonomy - Whether or not you voted, you've got to go along with the majority now, even if the outcome is not to your liking. In talking to a lot of my libertarian friends, I've found that many of them may in reality be anarcho-capitalists. They seem to think that dollars voting in the marketplace is preferable to actual voting.

    I know most people that post on this board are more or less progressives, so out of a sign of respect I put my rather lengthy response in the spoiler so you can choose to view it or skip it.

    Thanks
    Spoiler:


    I Welcome any thoughts/debates,

    And you wonder why you don't get taken seriously.

    Let's take your transfat argument. Not once did you note that it has been shown - scientifically - that transfat are extremely harmful. There is also the fact that there are other alternatives to them that are not as dangerous. Finally, there is the issue of information asymmetry - if I want to avoid transfats, how do I know who is and isn't using them? Or let's take smoking - its a fact that smoking is harmful not just to the smoker, but to both individuals and objects around them. For an example, it cost millions to renovate the roof of Grand Central Terminal due to buildup of smoke residue.

    Some bans are bad, like bans on dog breeds, but that is because based on bad facts and prejudice, not because the underlying authority is wrong. The simple fact is that society needs to balance individual freedom with protecting the whole...and an imbalance in either direction is bad.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
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  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    It seems to me that there are different 'tiers' of rights, and there's a different standard that must be met to restrict them, but in the end if the debate doesn't come down to specific rights on individuals, you're doing it wrong. If your justification for restricting individual rights, especially basic human rights, is "but think of society!", you're probably bullshitting to push restrictions on an agenda you personally disagree with.

    In other words, 'But then the gay agenda will take over and their will be no kids and society will crumble!' is not a justification for outlawing homosexual relationships, and 'But they explicitly say women should obey men!' is also not justification for, say, revoking tax exempt religious status.

    Shortly, social policy =/= broad social engineering that restricts basic rights.

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote:
    Some heretofore unstated context here: the intellectual framework I am arguing from is that of institutional economics, where we have reason to believe that some sets of social institutions are compatible with improvements in material welfare and/or modern liberal democratic politics and some are not...

    If this entails prohibiting the free practice of religious traditions along the way, then so be it; funeral ceremonies that absorb a fifth of an average laborer's lifetime income are a real thing, reinforced by a sense of social shame if a family member's funeral is insufficiently gaudy.

    As I have noted, political liberals allow that certain forms of social organization are inconsistent with political liberalism. For instance, rampant graft would be one example. There cannot be a politically liberal society whose government runs on graft, as the practice is itself intrinsically illiberal. So if, for instance, we had a society where graft was truly rampant, that might justify illiberal means to reducing graft, since what we would have in the first place was a society which, as it stood, could not benefit from political liberalism. Similarly, if a society is, for instance, on the brink of a genocide, that may justify illiberal measures like nightly curfews or limits on assembly. Again, in that case, we would be dealing with a population which is not capable of fully instantiating the traditional liberal values, and so we would be justified in abandoning them to some extent.

    Notice, however, that these are by and large not matters of degree. Either a society is so rife with graft that we simply cannot institute a liberal political system, or it is not. If it is not, the existence of some graft certainly need not be tolerated, but it does not justify and abandonment of liberal values. Graft only justifies an abandonment of liberal values when it is so extreme as to make the upholding of those values literally impossible. So I would reject your contention that the difference is a matter of degree, and hence, that there is some degree of illiberalism justified in any society.

    Furthermore, it is important that issues like graft are not only undesirable, but that they directly undermine the possibility of liberalism. It is not the case that any old undesirable practice is such that we may abandon liberalism in order to exterminate it. If that were the case, then liberalism would be entirely vacuous. The entire point of liberalism is not to put the state in the business of exterminating practices merely because it takes them to be undesirable. What sort of liberty would we have, if our liberty were only to do the things of which the state approves?

    You mention funerals that consume 20% of a laborer's lifetime income as an example of a practice to be extinguished. But what licenses you, or the paternalistic apparatus of the state, to decide how much money is appropriate to spend on a funeral? Twenty percent may strike you as unreasonable, however, from another view it may be the case that the funeral is the most important event of a person's life, and that the very best funerals involve the most expense. I myself find many ways that people in our contemporary society spend money to be utterly ridiculous--for instance, the costs of weddings strike me as more or less insane, but I am certainly not about to turn the firehoses on the young bride and groom.
    ronya wrote:
    We are both invoking civil rights legislation as examples of our preferred outlooks; MrMister identifies these as protecting assorted freedoms covered under individual autonomy, such as liberty of movement. I daresay that even a bare minimum of civil rights protection violates freedom of association, and so be it; furthermore, any attempt to rapidly create an environment conducive to egalitarian levels of individual autonomy would necessarily entail dismantling existing discriminatory environments: secularizing privately-run parochial schools, say. It would not suffice to demand that schools be secular or even just non-discriminatory as a condition of state funding if popular schools need no such funding (an outcome more common outside the US, where traditional schools can have nontrivial endowment funds).

    I admit that civil rights legislation involves curtailing some liberties, such as, for instance, the freedom of association. However, my contention is that such curtailing of liberties is justified precisely because it is necessary for the existence of others: ultimately, the liberal theorist must, in these cases, balance competing liberties against one another and ultimately decide which are to be preserved. But this still counts as liberalism because the end goal is the maximization of individual autonomy, not the top-down enforcement of a vision of proper behavior from the state.

    This sort of balancing may, as you allege, license the dismantling of private parochial schools. I do not think that it is clear that it does. But this is a difficult question, and as I understand it different philosophers have gone different ways on it.

    There is a danger that a broad reading of what counts as a harm will render political liberalism vacuous. For instance, if the act of wearing a burqa harms even those women who do not do so, then traditional liberal logic would hold that wearing the burqa might be justifiably banned. If we take the increasing of insurance premiums to be a harm, then traditional liberal logic would hold that exercise might be legally compelled. But these are exactly the sort of intrusion into the private sphere that liberalism is trying to protect against. I don't have much to say about this, other than: we have a fairly intuitive idea of the sorts of things that should not fall under state purview, and spelling out the details of this can be very difficult, but so too is spelling out the details of any particular position, and, regardless of this difficulty, liberalism remains the most compelling position available.
    ronya wrote:
    American states can prosecute you for possessing prohibited substances in the privacy of your own home, harming no-one

    Yeah, ask me what I think about the legitimacy of those laws.

    In any case, you seem to be arguing that we should abandon liberalism for the purpose of securing the benefits of, for instance, exterminating a social practice we find undesirable. However, this seems deeply wrongheaded to me. The consequences of an abandonment of liberalism may, in some isolated incidence, be salutary--but you cannot count the hits and ignore the misses. The consequences of an abandonment of liberalism in general will be the purposeless persecution of unpopular religions, sexualities, and general ways of life, and the stagnation of the intellectual culture under the heavy hand of propriety. To even assume that in this particular case we are right (and if we are right in this case, why not act!) is to assume that we are essentially infallible. After all, someone who was, in fact, wrong could deploy the exact same reasoning, and would, if given the chance.

    Liberalism protects the quakers, the gays, the blacks, the jews, the communists, the transgender, the academics, and the atheists. These are the people who will suffer from a general abandonment of liberalism. And they will not suffer for a greater purpose. There will be nothing their suffering obtains, other than some small, mean pleasure for the majority of contented Christians, who see the arbitrary punishments and persecutions they inflict as the natural expression of their sacred truth.

  • Andy JoeAndy Joe Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    You can't just proclaim that drug regulation is a legitamit use of force for the state.

    I can and I do. That's a far cry from saying I agree with current drug policies of course; marijuana, at least, should probably be legal. But there definitely need to be some standards for production and distribution for reasons of public safety, on everything from aspirin to heroin.
    To answer your question "why it engenders so much hysteria among libertarians," well it's because we're libertarians. We believe that if someone is going to fine you, send people at you with guns, break into your home and arrest you until you admit how wrong you were for smoking a drug and how the government was right to take you from your family and incarcerate you, is pretty evil.

    I'm not talking about policy here. Do I think it's wrong to arrest people for things that are not harmful? Of course. But how is it decided what is and is not harmful? The political process, within certain limits placed on it by fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.
    What if instead of breaking into poor people's homes and arresting them for crack dealing, the government instead offered them services. So they don't send cops to the house. They don’t scare the kids or the neighbours. The government just has big advertising campaigns, and rewards-programs for people who give up dope.

    As a matter of policy, I think that might be more effective some of the time. As a matter of legitimacy, I cannot say the government is limited to that option.

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    I admit that civil rights legislation involves curtailing some liberties, such as, for instance, the freedom of association. However, my contention is that such curtailing of liberties is justified precisely because it is necessary for the existence of others: ultimately, the liberal theorist must, in these cases, balance competing liberties against one another and ultimately decide which are to be preserved. But this still counts as liberalism because the end goal is the maximization of individual autonomy, not the top-down enforcement of a vision of proper behavior from the state.

    I want to make sure I understand how the term "liberalism" is being used here. It appears that you're not merely saying that individual personal liberty is a primary value, but is the primary value... that political liberalism holds individual personal liberty in the highest esteem, above all other possible social values.

    Is that an accurate summation of your position?

    Edit: I want to be frank; I do want clarification but there's also a Socratic motivation here. I have a handy counterargument against that conception of liberalism in my arsenal. I'd rather not deploy it until I've verified my target.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    But this still counts as liberalism because the end goal is the maximization of individual autonomy, not the top-down enforcement of a vision of proper behavior from the state.
    Does second hand smoke not limit my autonomy in the same way as doused with a milkshake would in the 60s? Does smoggy air, not limit the autonomy of the elderly?
    You're trying to move away from harm-prevention to autonomy-enabling as the metric, but they are the same thing.


    Does prohibiting me from drinking beer while driving not limit my autonomy? Who gains autonomy from my loss?

    What license does the paternalistic aperatus of the state have to decide a 10 year old is to young to work 40 hours a week during school? Or be required to attend school for that matter? Or is too young to be brother Jacobs 4th wife?

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    As I have noted, political liberals allow that certain forms of social organization are inconsistent with political liberalism. For instance, rampant graft would be one example. There cannot be a politically liberal society whose government runs on graft, as the practice is itself intrinsically illiberal. So if, for instance, we had a society where graft was truly rampant, that might justify illiberal means to reducing graft, since what we would have in the first place was a society which, as it stood, could not benefit from political liberalism. Similarly, if a society is, for instance, on the brink of a genocide, that may justify illiberal measures like nightly curfews or limits on assembly. Again, in that case, we would be dealing with a population which is not capable of fully instantiating the traditional liberal values, and so we would be justified in abandoning them to some extent.

    Notice, however, that these are by and large not matters of degree. Either a society is so rife with graft that we simply cannot institute a liberal political system, or it is not. If it is not, the existence of some graft certainly need not be tolerated, but it does not justify and abandonment of liberal values. Graft only justifies an abandonment of liberal values when it is so extreme as to make the upholding of those values literally impossible. So I would reject your contention that the difference is a matter of degree, and hence, that there is some degree of illiberalism justified in any society.

    Furthermore, it is important that issues like graft are not only undesirable, but that they directly undermine the possibility of liberalism. It is not the case that any old undesirable practice is such that we may abandon liberalism in order to exterminate it. If that were the case, then liberalism would be entirely vacuous. The entire point of liberalism is not to put the state in the business of exterminating practices merely because it takes them to be undesirable. What sort of liberty would we have, if our liberty were only to do the things of which the state approves?

    Must one wait for a genocide? Would not a pogrom suffice? And you would a state twiddle its thumbs in a permanent state of entrenched poverty as long the mob isn't threatening to murder each other? If you would disregard the importance of material prosperity in all its forms, at least keep in mind that it would buy your people healthcare (which may be only viable when provided paternalistically, at that, but let's not get into an argument about single payer in the developing world).

    Your mention is graft is bizarre; there are examples aplenty of countries where graft is entrenched and endemic but the state proceeds nonetheless, without collapsing into illiberalism. India is infamously plagued by it. Is it an unfree state?

    You do accept that graft could hypothetically be so entrenched that it renders a pure liberalism impossible; would you also accept that it could be so entrenched that it renders liberalism merely very, very costly? That is, after all, the primary effect of graft: to render the process of government more costly than it would be otherwise; rent-seekers seek rent, not destruction. Again one could easily be said to possibly afford to meet those costs, as long as you are willing to impoverish enough people to fund enough bribes. Is the magnitude of this cost truly utterly irrelevant in your analysis?

    What sort of liberty would you have - why, you might have exactly the sort of liberty that you probably enjoy right now, since you do, I presume, live in a real-life state which is not classically liberal and has historically never been (are there any?). There are, contra your binary perspective, a spectrum of somewhat-liberal and more-liberal states. The developed world generally never limits one to permitted activities, but it does regularly limit one from prohibited activities; are there no liberal states in the world today?
    MrMister wrote: »
    You mention funerals that consume 20% of a laborer's lifetime income as an example of a practice to be extinguished. But what licenses you, or the paternalistic apparatus of the state, to decide how much money is appropriate to spend on a funeral? Twenty percent may strike you as unreasonable, however, from another view it may be the case that the funeral is the most important event of a person's life, and that the very best funerals involve the most expense. I myself find many ways that people in our contemporary society spend money to be utterly ridiculous--for instance, the costs of weddings strike me as more or less insane, but I am certainly not about to turn the firehoses on the young bride and groom.

    You ever read a Keynesian account saying that a state might desire to "increase investment" or "increase savings" - via, possibly, the state's carefully-maintained monopoly on the price of loanable funds? What did you think that meant, exactly?

    Of course such a funeral is the most important event in that person's life; it would be phenomenally unlikely for individuals to dedicate that much of their hard-earned resources to an unimportant event. But it is a form of consumption, and a form of competitive conspicuous consumption, at that; if one is at all interested in promoting spending on some other causes - education, investment, whatever - then limiting competitive conspicuous consumption is much preferred to non-specific disincentives on consumption. Of course one should be cautious in doing so - policy often has additional unforeseen effects. Caution might suggest enforcing a tax instead of a prohibition, or resorting to propaganda instead of legal disincentives; all of these would of course be paternalistic but equally legitimate methods to the same goal.

    Do you genuinely think there are no macroscopic goals which a state might be entitled to pursue? Fast growth, full employment, and price stability are the important and well-known goals that modern states pursue, via state apparatuses enforced through coercion and systemic manipulation of private contracts; are these illiberal and illegitimate goals? Or are only macroeconomic goals acceptable but other social outcomes are not? Whence such an arbitrary distinction?
    MrMister wrote: »
    I admit that civil rights legislation involves curtailing some liberties, such as, for instance, the freedom of association. However, my contention is that such curtailing of liberties is justified precisely because it is necessary for the existence of others: ultimately, the liberal theorist must, in these cases, balance competing liberties against one another and ultimately decide which are to be preserved. But this still counts as liberalism because the end goal is the maximization of individual autonomy, not the top-down enforcement of a vision of proper behavior from the state.

    ...

    There is a danger that a broad reading of what counts as a harm will render political liberalism vacuous. For instance, if the act of wearing a burqa harms even those women who do not do so, then traditional liberal logic would hold that wearing the burqa might be justifiably banned. If we take the increasing of insurance premiums to be a harm, then traditional liberal logic would hold that exercise might be legally compelled. But these are exactly the sort of intrusion into the private sphere that liberalism is trying to protect against. I don't have much to say about this, other than: we have a fairly intuitive idea of the sorts of things that should not fall under state purview, and spelling out the details of this can be very difficult, but so too is spelling out the details of any particular position, and, regardless of this difficulty, liberalism remains the most compelling position available.

    No, it's just a top-down enforcement of a vision of proper behavior from the state-favored liberal theorist. Thou shalt not refuse to associate with, etc. Wars have been fought over the right to have your favored liberty reign supreme.

    How on earth might 'maximization of individual autonomy' constitute a bright line identifying what may be considered to be harm? I disagree that we have an independently intuitive idea of the sort of things that should or should not fall under state purview; that the nature of these things is very much inculcated by state action was rather the point of my original objection. People are not born with the democratic and secular capitalist welfare state seared into their tabulae and a casual inspection of the fringe refugees from mainstream society is, I think, strong evidence of this point. Quite the contrary, people default toward something else.
    MrMister wrote: »
    In any case, you seem to be arguing that we should abandon liberalism for the purpose of securing the benefits of, for instance, exterminating a social practice we find undesirable. [...] To even assume that in this particular case we are right (and if we are right in this case, why not act!) is to assume that we are essentially infallible. After all, someone who was, in fact, wrong could deploy the exact same reasoning, and would, if given the chance.

    Not to rehash the point that liberalism is not a binary state of affairs - the contention that policymakers are infallible and thus policymakers should do nothing does not spare you from making an judgment on cultural or social values or disparities: it requires that you endorse what that exists as acceptable! That, in itself, says nothing about liberalism: we may endorse liberally, of course (ha-ha). But fallibility is a sword that cuts both ways here. The solution to uncertainty is to characterize it and then hedge it away, not to run screaming from the act of making a decision.

  • Metal Gear Solid 2 DemoMetal Gear Solid 2 Demo Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Chaos Punk wrote: »
    The core act of democracy though, voting, somewhat undermines personal autonomy - Whether or not you voted, you've got to go along with the majority now, even if the outcome is not to your liking. In talking to a lot of my libertarian friends, I've found that many of them may in reality be anarcho-capitalists. They seem to think that dollars voting in the marketplace is preferable to actual voting.

    I know most people that post on this board are more or less progressives, so out of a sign of respect I put my rather lengthy response in the spoiler so you can choose to view it or skip it.

    Thanks
    Spoiler:


    I Welcome any thoughts/debates,

    And you wonder why you don't get taken seriously.

    Let's take your transfat argument. Not once did you note that it has been shown - scientifically - that transfat are extremely harmful. There is also the fact that there are other alternatives to them that are not as dangerous. Finally, there is the issue of information asymmetry - if I want to avoid transfats, how do I know who is and isn't using them? Or let's take smoking - its a fact that smoking is harmful not just to the smoker, but to both individuals and objects around them. For an example, it cost millions to renovate the roof of Grand Central Terminal due to buildup of smoke residue.

    Some bans are bad, like bans on dog breeds, but that is because based on bad facts and prejudice, not because the underlying authority is wrong. The simple fact is that society needs to balance individual freedom with protecting the whole...and an imbalance in either direction is bad.

    Pretty much this, the problem ChaosPunk seems to have is arbitrary authority, but in a lot of the examples cited the authority used is typically based on some previous facts. This point also reveals the contention one may have with the free market. Without regulation or intervention, why would, say, a fast food or junk food corporation list whats in their product? What recourse would individuals have when the system is actively working to fool them into buying their product? How can the individual educate themselves in choosing the best product in the free market when the methods of education - television, radio, internet, and all other forms of news media - are owned by the same corporations that are implanting bad things into their products.

    Spoiler:
  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    Loklar wrote: »
    You can't just proclaim that drug regulation is a legitamit use of force for the state. This thread is a discussion about the legitamit use of force of the state.

    To answer your question "why it engenders so much hysteria among libertarians," well it's because we're libertarians. We believe that if someone is going to fine you, send people at you with guns, break into your home and arrest you until you admit how wrong you were for smoking a drug and how the government was right to take you from your family and incarcerate you, is pretty evil.

    And it is not only harmful to the user, but also the part of the community they were apart of.

    Here's a non-libertarian (libertarian-lite) idea that maybe you'll accept...

    What if instead of breaking into poor people's homes and arresting them for crack dealing, the government instead offered them services. So they don't send cops to the house. They don’t scare the kids or the neighbours. The government just has big advertising campaigns, and rewards-programs for people who give up dope.

    Or public praise, a medal, whatever they think will work. Just not jail, fines or forced medication.

    Is your dispute with the manner in which the state goes about carrying out its responsibilities, or with the responsibilities the state is claimed to have? Because there are violent and intrusive ways in which the state enforces things like property, too - violence against homeless squatters, for instance - and that does not, in itself, invalidate the concept that the state should protect property claims.

    Both. And it’s kind-of the same thing.

    If the state passes a law, any law, there are always provisions if the law-breaker doesn’t submit to the state.

    If there is a law that says your basketball net is too close to the curb, the ultimate outcome, if you refuse to submit, is that the state will come with police and tear down your net.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0ZZHGO5sXw

    The state makes the rules, enforces them arbitrarily, and when it chooses to enforce them you either submit or they’ll do whatever it takes to make you submit up-to imprisonment.

    Social rules are much better because there is a constant internal negotiation and the consequence of breaking the rules doesn’t ratchet all the way up to “submit or else”. For example – being rude to old people breaks a social rule. If you violate it, your community will think you’re a jerk and ostracize you. Some will tell you off. And the odd person will think you’re hilarious and be your friend. But whatever happens, the push and pull of society’s constant negotiation comes to good outcomes. Today, hardly anyone is rude to old people, no government force necessary.

    Drug prohibitions should be handled in the same way. Most people I know who consume drugs handle it well. The ones who don’t I don’t associate with until they handle it well. But the real risk of trying a drug is jail or being forced to associate with criminals and sharing dirty equipment, not addiction. Government creates the 3 biggest risks to drug use. Addiction and health problems are real concerns but they are the 4th and 5th risk.

    Also, what’s wrong with enjoying your senses? Or experiencing altered states of consciousness? I’m not a user, but I can understand why someone might want to MDMA. They shouldn’t have to be a criminal to try it. It’s their body and their life.

    If they start mugging people or breaking windows while on MDMA, then sure, send the cops to tackle them. But if they’re just raving or wasting away in a basement, then that is a problem that their family will be uniquely able to solve (and there isn’t anything wrong with taking some drugs and dancing).

    At one time, having gay sex was illegal. A man having sex with a man was a criminal act. Your homosexual sex-life was not protected under privacy laws in the U.S. If you published pro-homosexual material it was censored under “obscenity” laws and you were declared mentally ill by the medical establishment (a diagnosis the psychiatrists no-doubt thought was charitable, kind and progressive because “it’s not their fault”)

    AND there were the kinds of social-pressures against being gay I mentioned above. So there were two arms of our keeping gays down. And one of them had the “legitimate” use of force.
    The state shouldn’t be credited with promoting gay rights because it was the state that had anti gay-rights policies in the first place.

    The biggest problem with progressives is that they think that the state can somehow be enlightened while people’s attitudes are intolerant. That’s impossible. The state’s interests are made up of the people’s attitudes. And the state gets its information from the people in a sloppy way.

    So if your society is prejudice, your government will be prejudice and drag it’s knuckles.

    Imagine a government that was weaker than any single citizen. Imagine how it would reach agreements with smokers, fast food sellers or homosexuals to facilitate society the same way a host facilitates a good party.

    And if a criminal commits theft or assault then society can legitimately defend itself with necessary force. That may include police. But police don’t have any extra rights or powers than citizens.

    I think it would work much better. Or at very least the better system lies in this direction.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Are you arguing that social ostracism is somehow effective against people-who-are-rude-to-old-people but not effective against, say, gay people? Or that states are necessarily less enlightened than the people? That last statement is puzzling; do you really think civil rights legislation has nothing to do with declines in overt racial discrimination?

    "Society" isn't a homogenous thing, you know - government is almost always systematically more wealthy, more urban and more educated than the median. That would affect the nature of policy, surely?

  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    Are you arguing that social ostracism is somehow effective against people-who-are-rude-to-old-people but not effective against, say, gay people? Or that states are necessarily less enlightened than the people? That last statement is puzzling; do you really think civil rights legislation has nothing to do with declines in overt racial discrimination?

    "Society" isn't a homogenous thing, you know - government is almost always systematically more wealthy, more urban and more educated than the median. That would affect the nature of policy, surely?

    Of course social ostracism is effective against gay people. Social ostracism + government force is even stronger than that.

    The state took a shitty attitude of society and made it stronger. That's what a democracy does. It takes what society wants, good or bad, and intensifies it with "the legitamit use of force".

    And yes the state in a democracy is neccessarily less enlightened than the people because it gets it's inputs from the people. (Garbage in, garbage out). A democracy won't do something completely outside of the mindset of the population, because the population issues the state its goals.

    In other words - if your society is full of voting assholes, your democratic government will pass asshole laws. If your society is full of communists, your democratic government will pass communist laws. The attitudes start with the people first and the people's handling of problems is more nuanced then government's.

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    Imagine a government that was weaker than any single citizen. Imagine how it would reach agreements with smokers, fast food sellers or homosexuals to facilitate society the same way a host facilitates a good party.

    And if a criminal commits theft or assault then society can legitimately defend itself with necessary force. That may include police. But police don’t have any extra rights or powers than citizens.

    I think it would work much better. Or at very least the better system lies in this direction.

    It wouldn't reach agreements. Think of it less like a party, and more like a nightclub. What your saying is take away the bouncers and everything will be fine.

    Your argument is illogical. You are saying that a powerful state can be subverted by people, to ill effect; yet if we just leave those people alone they will work it out amongst themselves in a way that doesn't violate any of the principles that they would have violated had they wrested control of the government.

    Its like you have no knowledge of US history after the civil war.
    Hint: When the federal government left, a lot of blacks got lynched.(Which from the crowds that showed up, and the people who picnicked while viewing the bodies, was perfectly socially acceptable)

    Do you think BP would have set aside $20b for oil cleanup if they had been able to get away with not paying it?
    That the tobacco industry would have stopped marketing/selling to children?

    In WI, drunk driving is barely a crime and every few months you get the "8 time convicted drunk driver kills family of 4", but heaven forbid the scary cops had imprisoned his ass; before he hit and killed people. Social rules my ass.

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    I want to make sure I understand how the term "liberalism" is being used here. It appears that you're not merely saying that individual personal liberty is a primary value, but is the primary value... that political liberalism holds individual personal liberty in the highest esteem, above all other possible social values.

    More or less, yes, although traditional liberal theory also has a heavy emphasis on equality. Rawls thought we were all free and equal citizens cooperating for mutual advantage; autonomy is the "free," but there is also the "equal."

  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    Imagine a government that was weaker than any single citizen. Imagine how it would reach agreements with smokers, fast food sellers or homosexuals to facilitate society the same way a host facilitates a good party.

    And if a criminal commits theft or assault then society can legitimately defend itself with necessary force. That may include police. But police don’t have any extra rights or powers than citizens.

    I think it would work much better. Or at very least the better system lies in this direction.

    It wouldn't reach agreements. Think of it less like a party, and more like a nightclub. What your saying is take away the bouncers and everything will be fine.

    Your argument is illogical. You are saying that a powerful state can be subverted by people, to ill effect; yet if we just leave those people alone they will work it out amongst themselves in a way that doesn't violate any of the principles that they would have violated had they wrested control of the government.

    Its like you have no knowledge of US history after the civil war.
    Hint: When the federal government left, a lot of blacks got lynched.(Which from the crowds that showed up, and the people who picnicked while viewing the bodies, was perfectly socially acceptable)

    Do you think BP would have set aside $20b for oil cleanup if they had been able to get away with not paying it?
    That the tobacco industry would have stopped marketing/selling to children?

    In WI, drunk driving is barely a crime and every few months you get the "8 time convicted drunk driver kills family of 4", but heaven forbid the scary cops had imprisoned his ass; before he hit and killed people. Social rules my ass.

    I'm pretty sure that the cops were also racist. Probably looked the other way with a lot of lynchings. In the Bloods vs Crips documentary (on Netflix), they paint a picture of L.A. cops enforcing that black people kept to their own neighbourhoods, and defending the violently racist white people. And housing laws that prevented private citizens from selling their home to "undesirables".

    Society's shitty attitude towards black people, backed up with the force of government ruined them. And it's spread far and wide, their are Bloods and Crips "franchises" all over North America. Even in Toronto.

    I don't doubt that there were lynchings in the U.S. Do you think the police weren't involved? They are somehow less racist than the community they come from?

  • Andy JoeAndy Joe Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    I don't doubt that there were lynchings in the U.S. Do you think the police weren't involved? They are somehow less racist than the community they come from?

    That raises the question of how you define "community", of course. To look at another example, in the 1960s and 1970s federal agents that enforced civil rights law in the south were definitely less racist than a lot of the white people living there. Were those agents from the same "community" as the white racists? And if not, does that mean that sometimes it's necessary or desirable for a certain set of views to be imposed on the community from outside?

    EDIT:
    And yes the state in a democracy is neccessarily less enlightened than the people because it gets it's inputs from the people. (Garbage in, garbage out). A democracy won't do something completely outside of the mindset of the population, because the population issues the state its goals.

    In other words - if your society is full of voting assholes, your democratic government will pass asshole laws. If your society is full of communists, your democratic government will pass communist laws. The attitudes start with the people first and the people's handling of problems is more nuanced then government's.

    What is your view on constitutional limitation of democratic powers? Is it totally ineffective, or just less effective than you'd like, and why?

    XBL: Stealth Crane PSN: ajpet12 3DS: 1160-9999-5810 NNID: StealthCrane
    Pokemon Y Name: Morgan
  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote:
    No, it's just a top-down enforcement of a vision of proper behavior from the state-favored liberal theorist. Thou shalt not refuse to associate with, etc. Wars have been fought over the right to have your favored liberty reign supreme.

    Liberalism traditionally requires that the state only impose the thinnest notion of the good possible: that it allow individuals autonomy insofar as is possible to pursue their own ends. But isn't the idea of free autonomous agents itself a conception of the good, and so doesn't imposing conditions of freedom and autonomy itself constitute the imposition of some state-sanctioned idea of the good life? In some sense it does. However, there is nothing illegitimate or self-contradictory about that. Liberals are allowed to appeal to the truth of their own theory--which is just to say, liberals do not have to make the state apparatus neutral on the question of liberalism itself.

    Indeed, we see this explicitly acknowledged in Rawls. It cannot be left up to the individual, Rawls says, whether to live in a community governed by rules of religious absolutism or whether to live in a free and open society. Communities governed by religious absolutism generally attempt to enforce their rules indiscriminately against their members, whether consenting or not, and this is itself fundamentally at odds with liberalism. So when a particular view of the good life--say, the view wherein we live on the compound and people who try to escape are hunted down--conflicts with liberalism, then we can reject that view of the good life without compromising out liberal ideals.
    ronya wrote:
    Do you genuinely think there are no macroscopic goals which a state might be entitled to pursue? Fast growth, full employment, and price stability are the important and well-known goals that modern states pursue, via state apparatuses enforced through coercion and systemic manipulation of private contracts; are these illiberal and illegitimate goals? Or are only macroeconomic goals acceptable but other social outcomes are not? Whence such an arbitrary distinction?

    There is a distinction, though it is not arbitrary. Liberals generally allow the state the authority to attempt economic goals, with limitations as consistent with whatever concept of property rights that liberal happens to hold. In fact, many liberals require that the state effect certain economic goals, as, for instance, do those who hold that autonomy and equality require massive redistribution of wealth.

    However, the liberty of conscience is taken to be distinct. Can you really see no difference between the state, say, attempting to hit an inflation target, and a state attempting to popularize a particular religious creed?
    ronya wrote:
    You do accept that graft could hypothetically be so entrenched that it renders a pure liberalism impossible; would you also accept that it could be so entrenched that it renders liberalism merely very, very costly? That is, after all, the primary effect of graft: to render the process of government more costly than it would be otherwise; rent-seekers seek rent, not destruction.

    A society rife with graft is not illiberal because it is wasting money, a society rife with graft is illiberal because it makes access to the offices and effects of the government contingent on personal wealth. We are not free and equal citizens if the wealthy can systematically buy off public officials.
    ronya wrote:
    What sort of liberty would you have - why, you might have exactly the sort of liberty that you probably enjoy right now, since you do, I presume, live in a real-life state which is not classically liberal and has historically never been (are there any?). There are, contra your binary perspective, a spectrum of somewhat-liberal and more-liberal states.

    I do not deny that there are degrees of liberalism. That there are states of varying degrees of liberalism is no objection to the notion that states are morally required to be liberal: it just means that those states which fall short of liberalism by degree also fall short of social justice by a corresponding degree. Nor is the claim that there has never been a fully liberal state an objection to the idea that the fully liberal state is the best state. States, like people, often fall short of their duties. It would be no great surprise if there did not exist any perfect one.

    And, indeed, I find our deviations from liberalism to universally be wrong. It is wrong that some states honor the christian sabbath by restricting the sale of alcohol on that day; it is wrong that a child's school can punish her for juxtaposing christianity with drug use; it is wrong that drugs used in native american religious rites are illegal; it is wrong that the state offers differential treatment to homosexuals. In our past, we can say that it is wrong that the japanese were interned; it is wrong that the communists were blacklisted; it was wrong that sedition and anti-draft sentiment were punished; it was wrong that gay bars were raided and their patrons beaten; it was wrong that racial barriers to voting were implemented.

    We are well acquainted, from both past and present, with a laundry list of illiberal injustices. But where are the injustices caused by being too liberal? When has the state ever done grievous wrong by taking a liberal stance?

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    Loklar wrote: »
    Imagine a government that was weaker than any single citizen. Imagine how it would reach agreements with smokers, fast food sellers or homosexuals to facilitate society the same way a host facilitates a good party.

    And if a criminal commits theft or assault then society can legitimately defend itself with necessary force. That may include police. But police don’t have any extra rights or powers than citizens.

    I think it would work much better. Or at very least the better system lies in this direction.

    It wouldn't reach agreements. Think of it less like a party, and more like a nightclub. What your saying is take away the bouncers and everything will be fine.

    Your argument is illogical. You are saying that a powerful state can be subverted by people, to ill effect; yet if we just leave those people alone they will work it out amongst themselves in a way that doesn't violate any of the principles that they would have violated had they wrested control of the government.

    Its like you have no knowledge of US history after the civil war.
    Hint: When the federal government left, a lot of blacks got lynched.(Which from the crowds that showed up, and the people who picnicked while viewing the bodies, was perfectly socially acceptable)

    Do you think BP would have set aside $20b for oil cleanup if they had been able to get away with not paying it?
    That the tobacco industry would have stopped marketing/selling to children?

    In WI, drunk driving is barely a crime and every few months you get the "8 time convicted drunk driver kills family of 4", but heaven forbid the scary cops had imprisoned his ass; before he hit and killed people. Social rules my ass.

    I'm pretty sure that the cops were also racist. Probably looked the other way with a lot of lynchings. In the Bloods vs Crips documentary (on Netflix), they paint a picture of L.A. cops enforcing that black people kept to their own neighbourhoods, and defending the violently racist white people. And housing laws that prevented private citizens from selling their home to "undesirables".

    Society's shitty attitude towards black people, backed up with the force of government ruined them. And it's spread far and wide, their are Bloods and Crips "franchises" all over North America. Even in Toronto.

    I don't doubt that there were lynchings in the U.S. Do you think the police weren't involved? They are somehow less racist than the community they come from?


    Right but your 'alternative', doesn't have any mitigating factor for this. Thats the entire point, deleting the cops doesn't make the lynchings not occur. Where as the return of the police state FBI in the 60s and 70s did, a recourse unavailable in your reality.

    I can't think of a better way to state this.
    Your argument is illogical. You are saying that a powerful state can be subverted by people, to ill effect; yet if we just leave those people alone they will work it out amongst themselves in a way that doesn't violate any of the principles that they would have violated had they wrested control of the government.

    In your limited-government scenario the problem people act completely different for NO FUCKING REASON, except to show how much better it would be.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    I want to make sure I understand how the term "liberalism" is being used here. It appears that you're not merely saying that individual personal liberty is a primary value, but is the primary value... that political liberalism holds individual personal liberty in the highest esteem, above all other possible social values.

    More or less, yes, although traditional liberal theory also has a heavy emphasis on equality. Rawls thought we were all free and equal citizens cooperating for mutual advantage; autonomy is the "free," but there is also the "equal."

    Okay, would this imply that liberty (and possibly equality) are chosen as the most desirable values because they promotes the common good? If liberty is desirable because it promotes the common good, then it is conceivable that liberty may not promote the common good in every context. You said something to this effect above - with the discussion of graft. John Rawls explored this idea, but with an eye on competing notions of good (thereby avoiding a hedonic utilitarian definition of "good"). In this case, liberty is itself not categorically different from other values - happiness, life, health, equality, whatever - and it is possible to weigh liberty against these other values. In that case, it's conceivable that liberty might not win out in every calculus. That's generally how mainstream liberalism is practiced - we put restrictions on workplaces, for instance, between the freedom to work in an unhealthy environment if you so choose is not a particularly valuable liberty compared the health of workers exposed to contaminants.

    Liberty remains valuable because, like Rawls, we understand that humans are fallible. We may conclude that in general (though not 100% of the time) it's better to take a do no harm attitude towards social engineering, since the price of a mistake is high and the sciences of people in groups (economics, sociology, etc.) still have a long way to go. We may conclude that in general (though not 100% of the time) individuals have a pretty good idea of what constitutes "good" for themselves, though sometimes we may say "no, you don't get to do that, no matter how much you think you want to" as when somebody wants to ride a motorcycle without a helmet or a flight attendant wants to work on a smoking plane so she can light up on her breaks. And we understand that sometimes, letting people do what they will in the absence of clear evidence of harm allows us to gather information that teaches us something about human nature - for instance, we know that sexual reassignment surgery is a good thing because the people who have gotten it have turned out happier and healthier than people who have tried to treat gender dysphoria through cognitive therapy alone.

    This leads us to a conclusion that is much closer to ronya's - social engineering, violating the principle of liberty, may be permissible, even in non-extreme situations. We have to be cautious, we have to be very sure of the information and theory that we're basing our social decisions on, but we cannot justify a principled stand against all social engineering on the basis of liberty. Liberty is a very strong guideline more than it is an inalienable rule.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Andy Joe wrote: »
    Loklar wrote: »
    I don't doubt that there were lynchings in the U.S. Do you think the police weren't involved? They are somehow less racist than the community they come from?

    That raises the question of how you define "community", of course. To look at another example, in the 1960s and 1970s federal agents that enforced civil rights law in the south were definitely less racist than a lot of the white people living there. Were those agents from the same "community" as the white racists? And if not, does that mean that sometimes it's necessary or desirable for a certain set of views to be imposed on the community from outside?

    EDIT:
    And yes the state in a democracy is neccessarily less enlightened than the people because it gets it's inputs from the people. (Garbage in, garbage out). A democracy won't do something completely outside of the mindset of the population, because the population issues the state its goals.

    In other words - if your society is full of voting assholes, your democratic government will pass asshole laws. If your society is full of communists, your democratic government will pass communist laws. The attitudes start with the people first and the people's handling of problems is more nuanced then government's.

    What is your view on constitutional limitation of democratic powers? Is it totally ineffective, or just less effective than you'd like, and why?

    I would trade all of my complaints for strict adherance to the constitution and for municipalities to gain the power to levy sales and income taxes. Those taxes would be balanced by reductions in Federal/State(provincial) taxes.

  • Chaos PunkChaos Punk Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Andy Joe wrote: »
    Anti-gambling laws, pitbill and rotweiller bans, outdoor cooking bans, smoking bans, anti-drug laws, anti-homosexual laws, speech codes, gun control, etc, etc are all good examples of the state losing its composure and resorting to micromanaging, and then utilizing violence to ensure that their "benevolent" orders are followed.

    Some level of animal control, drug regulation, gambling restrictions, pollution restriction, and gun control are obviously necessary and within the legitimate purview of the state. The label "micromanaging" you have applied to this list has no content; I can see no reasonable basis for distinguishing this sort of "micromanagement" from law against violence, fraud, theft, and nuisance. Legitimate resort to the initial use of force is inherent to the capabilities of a state, and I have never understood why it engenders so much hysteria among libertarians.

    my reply:
    Spoiler:

    We are all the man behind the curtain.... pay no attention to any of us
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Chaos Punk wrote: »
    Andy Joe wrote: »
    Anti-gambling laws, pitbill and rotweiller bans, outdoor cooking bans, smoking bans, anti-drug laws, anti-homosexual laws, speech codes, gun control, etc, etc are all good examples of the state losing its composure and resorting to micromanaging, and then utilizing violence to ensure that their "benevolent" orders are followed.

    Some level of animal control, drug regulation, gambling restrictions, pollution restriction, and gun control are obviously necessary and within the legitimate purview of the state. The label "micromanaging" you have applied to this list has no content; I can see no reasonable basis for distinguishing this sort of "micromanagement" from law against violence, fraud, theft, and nuisance. Legitimate resort to the initial use of force is inherent to the capabilities of a state, and I have never understood why it engenders so much hysteria among libertarians.

    my reply:
    Spoiler:

    Do you even know the definition of the word "externality"?

    And social inertia, like its physical cousin, is a cruel mistress.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    ronya wrote:
    No, it's just a top-down enforcement of a vision of proper behavior from the state-favored liberal theorist. Thou shalt not refuse to associate with, etc. Wars have been fought over the right to have your favored liberty reign supreme.

    Liberalism traditionally requires that the state only impose the thinnest notion of the good possible: that it allow individuals autonomy insofar as is possible to pursue their own ends. But isn't the idea of free autonomous agents itself a conception of the good, and so doesn't imposing conditions of freedom and autonomy itself constitute the imposition of some state-sanctioned idea of the good life? In some sense it does. However, there is nothing illegitimate or self-contradictory about that. Liberals are allowed to appeal to the truth of their own theory--which is just to say, liberals do not have to make the state apparatus neutral on the question of liberalism itself.

    Indeed, we see this explicitly acknowledged in Rawls. It cannot be left up to the individual, Rawls says, whether to live in a community governed by rules of religious absolutism or whether to live in a free and open society. Communities governed by religious absolutism generally attempt to enforce their rules indiscriminately against their members, whether consenting or not, and this is itself fundamentally at odds with liberalism. So when a particular view of the good life--say, the view wherein we live on the compound and people who try to escape are hunted down--conflicts with liberalism, then we can reject that view of the good life without compromising out liberal ideals.
    ronya wrote:
    Do you genuinely think there are no macroscopic goals which a state might be entitled to pursue? Fast growth, full employment, and price stability are the important and well-known goals that modern states pursue, via state apparatuses enforced through coercion and systemic manipulation of private contracts; are these illiberal and illegitimate goals? Or are only macroeconomic goals acceptable but other social outcomes are not? Whence such an arbitrary distinction?

    There is a distinction, though it is not arbitrary. Liberals generally allow the state the authority to attempt economic goals, with limitations as consistent with whatever concept of property rights that liberal happens to hold. In fact, many liberals require that the state effect certain economic goals, as, for instance, do those who hold that autonomy and equality require massive redistribution of wealth.

    However, the liberty of conscience is taken to be distinct. Can you really see no difference between the state, say, attempting to hit an inflation target, and a state attempting to popularize a particular religious creed?
    ronya wrote:
    You do accept that graft could hypothetically be so entrenched that it renders a pure liberalism impossible; would you also accept that it could be so entrenched that it renders liberalism merely very, very costly? That is, after all, the primary effect of graft: to render the process of government more costly than it would be otherwise; rent-seekers seek rent, not destruction.

    A society rife with graft is not illiberal because it is wasting money, a society rife with graft is illiberal because it makes access to the offices and effects of the government contingent on personal wealth. We are not free and equal citizens if the wealthy can systematically buy off public officials.
    ronya wrote:
    What sort of liberty would you have - why, you might have exactly the sort of liberty that you probably enjoy right now, since you do, I presume, live in a real-life state which is not classically liberal and has historically never been (are there any?). There are, contra your binary perspective, a spectrum of somewhat-liberal and more-liberal states.

    I do not deny that there are degrees of liberalism. That there are states of varying degrees of liberalism is no objection to the notion that states are morally required to be liberal: it just means that those states which fall short of liberalism by degree also fall short of social justice by a corresponding degree. Nor is the claim that there has never been a fully liberal state an objection to the idea that the fully liberal state is the best state. States, like people, often fall short of their duties. It would be no great surprise if there did not exist any perfect one.

    And, indeed, I find our deviations from liberalism to universally be wrong. It is wrong that some states honor the christian sabbath by restricting the sale of alcohol on that day; it is wrong that a child's school can punish her for juxtaposing christianity with drug use; it is wrong that drugs used in native american religious rites are illegal; it is wrong that the state offers differential treatment to homosexuals. In our past, we can say that it is wrong that the japanese were interned; it is wrong that the communists were blacklisted; it was wrong that sedition and anti-draft sentiment were punished; it was wrong that gay bars were raided and their patrons beaten; it was wrong that racial barriers to voting were implemented.

    We are well acquainted, from both past and present, with a laundry list of illiberal injustices. But where are the injustices caused by being too liberal? When has the state ever done grievous wrong by taking a liberal stance?

    The entire fucking gilded age was basically the result of over liberalism. Company towns, monopolies, trusts, child labor, horrific working conditions. Triangle Shirtwaist fire, the Titanic, basically anything that killed a bunch of people cause company X was doing Y which is now illegal. Our environment is in such sad shape because of the complete lack of restrictions on pollution for decades before the EPA was formed.

    Also many of those injustice were enabled by liberal policies, and only correct via illiberal action. Slavery in the US only ended, because the North said fuck your states rights, and forced the south to stop. Reconstruction FAILED when the north handed control back to the local southerners. Little Rock High School was integrated by the 101st Air Born.

    Remove DOMA and full faith and credit will/should force shit-hole Alabama to recognize the marriage of 2 men from Mass. What is liberal about the people of New England forcing the people of the South to recognize that marriage?

    All anti-discrimination laws are illiberal, All safety laws are illiberal, all environmental regulations are illiberal. Laws governing working hours and pay are illiberal.

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    All anti-discrimination laws are illiberal, All safety laws are illiberal, all environmental regulations are illiberal. Laws governing working hours and pay are illiberal.

    We do not understand the word liberal to mean the same thing. I am talking about elements mostly common to the political theories of Locke, Mill, and Rawls-they do not condemn those things.

    Mill might be against laws governing working hours, but then again, he might not. Locke most certainly would require environmental regulations. Rawls is all about laws governing working hours and pay, not to mention anti-discrimination, which is just about the cornerstone of his entire theory.

  • SliderSlider Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm not going to read that giant wall of text. What is this about? Summarize.

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    This leads us to a conclusion that is much closer to ronya's - social engineering, violating the principle of liberty, may be permissible, even in non-extreme situations. We have to be cautious, we have to be very sure of the information and theory that we're basing our social decisions on, but we cannot justify a principled stand against all social engineering on the basis of liberty. Liberty is a very strong guideline more than it is an inalienable rule.

    I don't have the time right now to give this post the response it deserves, but suffice it to say: I don't know that I actually disagree with you as a matter of kind rather than degree. Despite temporarily adopting the liberal mantle, I am not actually myself liberal on all issues. I think, however, that they are onto something that is at least partially right, and furthermore, regardless of the ultimate truth of pure liberalism, I find the cavalier attitude towards state power ronya takes to be disturbing.

    Recall that this entire line of discussion came out of the French burqa bans--there we have an almost perfect example of exactly why and how liberals are almost always exactly right, even if on very rare occasion they may not be.

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