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Comment: Drawing battle lines

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Drawing battle lines

I do NOT view social problems as battles between good will and hatred.

Most people "mean well." They want "what's best" for themselves, their families, friends, neighbors, countrymen -- the whole world. Where they differ is in their definition of what constitutes "what's best" -- and most particularly in the means they feel justified in using to achieve "what's best."

May I recommend to you, and anyone else who's interested, a short essay by David Friedman called "Love Is Not Enough". This essay radically changed the way I see the world -- and the way in which I define my personal battle lines.

Whatever people mean by "what's best" is determined by their personal moral code. What Friedman'e essay made me realize is that while personal moralities are endlessly various and often changeable, the means by which we can deal with other people to achieve our purposes is limited to only three choices: we can trade, steal or beg. (Government is NOT a fourth option; it is institutionalized coercion).

I am not concerned with what people use for their moral codes, or with what they do in their private lives with consenting partners. Worship any god you like, or none. Love as you will. Do anything you like with your own body, your own property or your own time. Your morality is your own affair . . . up to a point.

That point is: when your action impacts another person. At that point it falls into the very specific subdivision of morality which I call "ethics," which describes and defines the "proper" ways human beings should deal with one another.

Some people believe it is ethically proper to use force to achieve their purposes. Name them "thieves" and "thugs". Fortunately, such folk are a small minority. Unfortunately, many people believe it is ethically proper to use force to achieve their purposes -- through the magical machinery called "government." Name them "statists." For the most part, statists would be very offended to be called thieves or thugs, because they have been indoctrinated (K-!2) into the purely superstitious belief that "government" enjoys a special moral status, which turns murder into "foreign policy" or "war." It turns theft into "monetary policy" and "taxation." It turns enslavement into "regulation" and "conscription." And it turns abject obedience to your slavemaster into "your patriotic duty."

Educating statists (some of whom consider themselves "libertarians") to the ethical realities underlying "government" is my major aim here on the DP. Persuading them to read Larken Rose's book, The Most Dangerous Superstition, is my favored educational tool.

For myself, I hold to the ethical principle that trade and love are proper means for people to deal with one another -- and coercion is not. Ever.

So you see, it isn't hatred that I count as my enemy -- my enemy is the ethical belief that coercion should ever be used against honest, peaceable folk. That belief is what Larken names "The most dangerous superstition." I'm out to kill it. There's my battle line.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose