The Fundamental Differences Between UsSubmitted by sarx on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 10:14
When people disagree, one thing I always try to do is figure out what is the fundamental disagreement. If you get to the very bottom of an argument you will normally find the main presupposition upon which you disagree. I find this exercise extremely helpful in that it makes me think about my own position and it also helps me intelligently debate against the contrary opinion.
Let me give you an example of how this works. Let's take the issue of gun control. On one side you have those who advocate for a European style gun control and on the other you have those who advocate for the status quo or even less regulation on firearms. Why this disagreement? On both sides are people who are rational, intelligent, who love their children and truly want what is best for this country (of course their are malicious trolls on both sides as well). This is where it is helpful to get to the bottom issue. Let me walk you through what I think the foundational issue is.
The gun control advocates (I am generalizing broadly) want guns out of the hands of ordinary citizens. They don't want them around except for military and police. When I listen to these people and hear their arguments I think they basically believe two things: First, that it is primarily the government's job to protect you. This means it is not your job, at least not first. There is an assumption by this group that the protection of life and property are primarily to be protected by someone else, i.e. the police. The second assumption they have is that the people in power can be trusted. In limiting who may have weapons there is an assumption on their part that the 'authorities' are trust-worthy and good. So, to sum up their foundational argument it goes like this: it's the government's job to protect you, and we can trust those in power.
Now, let's look at the gun advocate side. It's basically the opposite view. Why must a citizen be able to have a weapon (besides that it is an inherent right, ect.)? It is for two basic reasons: First, it is primarily the individual's responsibility to protect one's life and property. This implies that it is not the government's job, at least not primarily. If someone breaks into my house I will get my weapon and call the police, in that order. I want the police to come, but it is my responsibility, right, and duty to protect myself, family, and property first. The second reason is this; people are basically bad. There is a lot of garbage out there saying people are basically good deep down. But this simply is not true. We have great capacity to do good, this is true. However, we are deep down bad. We tend towards evil, not good. This is true of those in power as well. History teaches us that power corrupts. It teaches us that those in power will eventually abuse it and subjugate their people. While their are many people in power in the US who are good, responsible, and decent, they still have the tendency to do bad. I am not a fatalist, but the reality is; people are bad, and given the opportunity, they will do wrong. This premise urges me to arm myself, not as some crazy militant, but as one living in the reality of the world. So, to sum up the gun advocate/libertarian position; it is primarily your responsibility to protect your life and property, and people are basically bad.
Until we begin to engage on the foundational issues, we will never make progress in spreading liberty. We can debate facts, we can get emotional, but the most profitable thing we can do is get people to talk about the fundamental differences between us. What do you think?