Justifing violence based on hypothetical scenarios


Mark T. runs a blog;

http://pieceofmind.wordpress.com/

He is an articulate supporter of political action to solve some human problems.  I’m honored that he finds the time to visit here and provide his thoughts.

He offered a reply to one of my posts here, and I think it offers an abundance of talking and thinking points – so I’d like to highlight it as a specific post of mine.

There are problems not of our making and for which we collectivity (not unanimously! choose to address by means of what you call “force”and “violence”.

By the belief that violence is an acceptable tool to solve non-violent problems will create a society where violence constantly becomes the tool to solve all problems.
The more mankind uses violence,it creates violent consequences, demanding more use of violence to mitigate the violence until society eventually collapses.

In society we have established this truth:
The only legitimate use of violence is to defend one’s self from the initiation of violence.

Though society has been successful in applying this truth upon individuals – and thus creating civilization – the grave threat to society has been that the people have failed to apply this truth upon institutional entities.

Instead, we have centralized the violence and legitimized it – called it ‘government’; with the consequence that today, the threat of its violence is so great, it risks the extinction of our species.

As an industrial society, our capacity for production of material wealth far exceeds our own consumption needs.

This view is a mistake.

Our capacity of production has not exceeded our consumption. We know this because inventories do not grow indefinitely.

For your position to be true, inventories must continuously increase every year and accumulate.

But they do not. Everything that is produced is consumed.

Industrial society lowers the cost of production. This provides capacity to increase choice. It supports a vibrant environment that allows innovation and new products to be created.

As a new product is introduced, other inferior products are removed.

The new product, to displace the incumbent, must solve the consumer’s problem better. It uses resources better in its production and/or allows the consumer to use the product better, more effectively, more economically.

The new product must do this, or the consumer would not buy the newer product (an unknown) to replace an incumbent (well known) for no gain!

In other words, an industrial society is best able to use the resources of the earth better. A pre-industrial society is very ineffective in its use of resources, creating massive amounts of waste.

The ability of better resource use allows a surplus of wealth.

We can save this wealth (which allows products to be available for their consumption in the future as this wealth is lent or invested to entrepreneurs who work to build future products) or we can spend our surplus of wealth to improve our human life and style.

But we’re not equal, some simply cannot produce enough to satisfy life and retirement demands, either through circumstances they cannot control, or those they can.

I cannot discern the past decisions or which decision or which series of decisions are the direct cause that created the consequences of another persons life. No one can. It is impossible.

Thus, all arguments that start with a series of hypothetical knowledge that is impossible to know in reality which is then used to prove that violent action can be justified are all incredibly dangerous fallacies!

It is dangerous, because since objective proof cannot exist, one needs to accept a fantasy as satisfactory proof for violent action.

If one accepts a fantasy as reality, and uses that acceptance to do real damage, any well-presented, emotional appeals that are wholly nothing but fantasy will also be used to justify the use of real violence.

Burning people at the stake because they are called witches….we are appalled at those that used precisely the same argument type as you’ve present – the use of hypothetical knowledge to justify horrific violence.

Most of us never reach our productive potential, and instead become labor cogs in a system where the wealth thereby created flows upward and is captured by others. (Is that not a system of violence too?)

The question back would be “did the labor have a gun to hits head to force the work”? If not, then no, it is not a system of violence.

Man must earn his living.

He must go and find the food (resources) he needs to live. It is not a matter of right or wrong that one man can climb a tree and get fruit and another man cannot climb and must dig in the dirt for grubs.

To blame the man who can climb for the other man’s inability to climb is to assign a guilt to a mere mortal that should instead be placed on God.

I believe it is very dangerous to add God-power to mere mortals.

Therefore, creating systems that assign guilt upon one man for the lack of ability of another to justify violence on men to seize their earnings poisons the order of society, and will eventually collapse society and civilization.

Ludwig von Mises in Socialism (1922):

To the intellectual champions of social insurance, and to the politicians and statesmen who enacted it, illness and health appeared as two conditions of the human body sharply separated from each other and always recognizable without difficulty or doubt. Any doctor could diagnose the characteristics of ‘health.’ ‘Illness’ was a bodily phenomenon which showed itself independently of human will, and was not susceptible to influence by will. There were people who for some reason or other simulated illness, but a doctor could expose the pretense. Only the healthy person was fully efficient. The efficiency of the sick person was lowered according to the gravity and nature of his illness, and the doctor was able, by means of objectively ascertainable physiological tests, to indicate the degree of the reduction of efficiency.

Now every statement in this theory is false.

There is no clearly defined frontier between health and illness.

Being ill is not a phenomenon independent of conscious will and of psychic forces working in the subconscious.

A man’s efficiency is not merely the result of his physical condition; it depends largely on his mind and will. Thus the whole idea of being able to separate, by medical examination, the unfit from the fit and from the malingerers, and those able to work from those unable to work, proves to be untenable.

Those who believed that accident and medical insurance could be based on completely effective means of ascertaining illnesses and injuries and their consequences were very much mistaken.

The destructionist aspect of accident and health insurance lies above all in the fact that such institutions promote accidents and illness, hinder recovery, and very often create, or at any rate intensify and lengthen, the functional disorders which follow illness or accident.

Feeling healthy is quite different from being healthy in the medical sense, and a man’s ability to work is largely independent of the physiologically ascertainable and measurable performances of his individual organs. The man who does not want to be healthy is not merely a malingerer. He is a sick person. If the will to be well and efficient is weakened, illness and inability to work is caused. By weakening or completely destroying the will to be well and able to work, social insurance creates illness and inability to work; it produces the habit of complaining – which is in itself a neurosis – and neuroses of other kinds. In short, it is an institution which tends to encourage disease, not to say accidents, and to intensify considerably the physical and psychic results of accidents and illnesses. As a social institution it makes a people sick bodily and mentally or at least helps to multiply, lengthen, and intensify disease.

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3 Responses to “Justifing violence based on hypothetical scenarios”

  1. Mark T Says:

    Much material here to digest.

    Violence and government: Your repeated statements that the taxation of one individual to an extent that he does receive value in return is a form of “violence” is nothing more than rhetoric. The process is not violence. You simply think it unjust and apply that harsh tone. In so doing, you relegate all of human society to the waste bin of tyranny.

    I think it is more basic, far more complex than you imagine. Humans all tread on the commons, benefiting from each others’ labor. Some produce more than others, some receive money income in excess of what they produce. Some simply inherit the work of their forebears.

    I’ll give you de Tocqueville:

    At the period of which we are now speaking society was shaken to its centre: the people, in whose name the struggle had taken place conceived the desire of exercising the authority which it had acquired; its democratic tendencies were awakened; and having thrown off the yoke of the mother-country, it aspired to independence of every kind. The influence of individuals gradually ceased to be felt, and custom and law united together to produce the same result.
    But the law of descent was the last step of equality. I am surprised that ancient and modern jurists have not attributed to this law a greater influence on human affairs. It is true that these laws belong to civil affairs; but they ought nevertheless to be placed at the head of all political institutions; for, whilst political laws are only the symbol of a nation’s condition, they exercise and incredible influence upon its social state. They have, moreover, a sure and uniform manner of operating upon society, affecting, as it were, generations yet unborn.
    Through their means man acquires a kind of preternatural power over the future lot of his fellow-creatures. When the legislator has regulated the law of inheritance, he may rest form his labor. The machine once put in motion will go on for ages, and advance, as if self-guided, towards a given point. When framed in this particular manner, this law unites, draws together, and vests property and power in a few hands; its tendency is clearly aristocratic. On opposite principles its action is still more rapid; it divides, distributes, and disperses both property and power.

    He was talking about inheritance, or rule from the grave, and specifically primogenitor, arguing for dispersed inheritance, but I take it further, saying that those who reap more than they sow owe a debt to all of us in the form of higher taxes. The market is far from perfect, and even if it were perfect, and even if the results reflected sowing/reaping efficiency, I woudl still hold out for our right to change it You call that violence, I call it democratic governance – if we don’t do it, we all end up slaves of the wealthy.

    Our capacity of production has not exceeded our consumption. We know this because inventories do not grow indefinitely.

    As Smith makes abundantly clear, war and war toys are the products of surplus production, that soldiers consume wealth and do not produce it. War might being benefit to one society at the expense of another, but that’s a zero-sum game. That’s why our inventories do not increase – we go out and blow them up.

    You didn’t address the Social Security system specifically, but I assume you did so generally by citing von Mises on health and sickness. On this matter we must agree to differ. I see a duty beyond family to take care of those who are sick and aged. I believe this to be a valid government function. I see no violent outcomes.

    I do see people about me who consume the crappy food the market prices down for them who are overweight and suffer from diabetes. But these people are responding to price messages. Good food costs more than bad food. People also smoke, but smokers die younger and are not so much a burden to us in their dotage as non-smokers. Same with excess drinking and drug use. But things like cancer, heart conditions, auto-immune disorders environmental diseases are hardly brought on one’s self.

    We agree on much, your words carry weight with me and I don’t set anything aside lightly or claim wisdom beyond yours. Only a different outlook. On this we agree: The arbitrary ability to draw a boundary and claim all people within that boundary as subjects against their will, as the Israeli’s do with the Palestinians, as Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria do with the Kurds, as India does with the Kashmirs … and on and on and on … is violence that begets real violence and is the cause of much of our wars. Government is indeed a problem.

  2. Black Flag Says:

    Violence and government: Your repeated statements that the taxation of one individual to an extent that he does receive value in return is a form of “violence” is nothing more than rhetoric. The process is not violence. You simply think it unjust and apply that harsh tone. In so doing, you relegate all of human society to the waste bin of tyranny.

    Tax is violent, no less than a mugger demanding money.

    The threat of violence (as demonstrated by historical and wholly observable actions against any tax defaulter) is always forefront.

    Voluntary does not have shades of gray. If you are forced – by violence or its threat – it is an act of coercion.

    Further, all government is violent. If voluntary action was all that was necessary, government force would be redundant and unnecessary to compel it.

    The fact that where government acts, it must also enforce – makes it compulsory, the use of force to compulsion requires it to use the threat or actuality of violence.

    All law is the use of violence to enforce an edict.

    I think it is more basic, far more complex than you imagine.

    Complexity does not relieve violence. Certainly making an atomic bomb is complex – but it remains a violent weapon nonetheless.

    Humans all tread on the commons, benefiting from each others’ labor.

    Benefiting from another labor is not an act of ‘commons’.

    It is an act of charity, an act of voluntary economic commerce or an act of slavery.

    The measure of this act is wholly based from the point of view of the labor – and not from the POV of the receiver.

    That is, we do not judge the action from the POV that receive – they would always see benefits as a good, by definition. If we trap ourselves in measure ‘good’ by the view of the receiver, we will justify slavery.

    Some produce more than others, some receive money income in excess of what they produce.

    You must have some definitions here which do not match my economic ones.

    How can receive money in excess of produce?

    Money is traded for another’s produce – thus recieves precisely what the trade agreement states. There can be no excess.

    One may subjective declare “they made a great deal” by receiving more value than they apparently gave away – but both sides can (and do) declare this simultaneously, or else the deal would never happen in the first place.

    Some simply inherit the work of their forebears.

    I cannot inherit the work of my forebears.
    I inherit the consequence of that work.
    I inherit the wealth of my forebears.

    They converted their effort to wealth, and they give that to me (or whomever they desire to give their property)

    ….

    He was talking about inheritance, or rule from the grave, and specifically primogenitor, arguing for dispersed inheritance, but I take it further, saying that those who reap more than they sow owe a debt to all of us in the form of higher taxes.

    I believe that he identified a danger – named it “power” inheritance – as in power of legislation by government as codified by those in past, ruling over those today and in the future and not wealth.

    Wealth has the power of influence, but not of violence. It can buy violence, to be sure, but let’s expand here.

    If I use my money to buy violence, it comes in the only two forms that exist already in society. Important: wealth does not create a new form of violence. It can only buy what already exists.

    The two forms of violence in society that exists is;
    government-legitimized violence
    or
    criminal-illegitimate violence.

    If money buys criminal violence, it becomes criminal, and society has laws regarding criminal violence already. (I call these laws, Natural laws, as they deal with man’s natural rights resisting initiations of violence – self defense and all its corollaries.)

    Money can also buy government violence. But that can only occur if government violence exists. Money nor wealth does not create government.

    As long as violence by government exists, it will be bought. It is very desirable. The ability to use violence on the non-violent and at the same time be declared rightful in such a use is infinitely more desirable then being declared a criminal.

    True, the price of such government violence is high, and the price demanded increases as the growing extent of government violence and power increases. The greater the extent of government power, the more valuable it becomes, and thus, higher the price.

    At some point, only the extremely wealth can accumulate such a fee.

    Government violence is not the fault of wealthy. If government violence was cheap, everyone could buy it – but at that price, its usefulness (that is, its extent) would be minimal and approaching ‘nothing’.

    Because government’s extent is huge and growing, it is valuable. Yes, that means the price goes up as well, leaving ‘everyone’ behind except for the wealthy.

    The answer to the problem is not to use more government power to steal from the wealthy – that will only, again, increase government’s extent of power, and raise its value even more to a price that is astronomical (and hence, only available to the super-elite; a Global Governance of the Super-wealthy) but by reducing (or best, wholly destroying) the extent of government – making it less valuable. When it has become valueless, everyone can have it.

    The market is far from perfect, and even if it were perfect, and even if the results reflected sowing/reaping efficiency, I woudl still hold out for our right to change it You call that violence, I call it democratic governance – if we don’t do it, we all end up slaves of the wealthy.

    The free market is perfect to the maximum of human capacity. To believe a human can design the market, which is ademand that it can be managed by human brains, means you must also believe that infinitely complex systems can be knowable. But, that is impossible.

    Hence the deadly contradiction. If one cannot understand a system to the level that is required to manage it – yet, attempts to manage such as system as if one had such knowledge – this action, with total certainty, will destroy the system.

    Your complaint of the wealthy, as already detailed, is misplaced.

    Even worse, you believe the answer to the voluntary concentration of wealth by those that – to obtain such wealth have solved consumer problems the best – is to destroy the wealthy by stealing their earnings.

    The consequence will also be the destruction of the best solutions to economic problems of society.

    Our capacity of production has not exceeded our consumption. We know this because inventories do not grow indefinitely.

    As Smith makes abundantly clear, war and war toys are the products of surplus production, that soldiers consume wealth and do not produce it. War might being benefit to one society at the expense of another, but that’s a zero-sum game. That’s why our inventories do not increase – we go out and blow them up.

    War consumes wealth, this is true. And as such, decreases wealth (inventories, too).

    However, we do not ‘blow’ up our own cities to manage inventory.

    You didn’t address the Social Security system specifically, but I assume you did so generally by citing von Mises on health and sickness.

    Correct. The same (il)logic – determination of ‘need’ – is the fault in all Socialist economic thinking. It cannot be done. Thus, Socialist planning will always be inferior to free market systems – and as such, will build in fundamental mistakes and thus, will degrade the system to be inferior to the free market.

    1

    On this matter we must agree to differ. I see a duty beyond family to take care of those who are sick and aged. I believe this to be a valid government function. I see no violent outcomes.

    To force me to take care of you requires violence.

    Declaring that you can use government force to compel me also grants me the use of government force to compel you to do what I want, too. The deadly blade cuts both ways.

    By declaring government force to valid will invalidate every complaint you have about government force no matter where it applies. You are not arguing against violence at all – you are merely arguing for or against who will suffer from it.

    I do see people about me who consume the crappy food the market prices down for them who are overweight and suffer from diabetes. But these people are responding to price messages. Good food costs more than bad food.

    Bad food is subsidized by government. I will provide an interesting ABC expose on the subject.

    For example, corn is so subsidized that the bag holding the corn cost more than the contents.

    This distortion has led to the replacement of sugar made by cane or beets with corn sugar – a far inferior nutrient – but far, far cheaper due to subsidies. $60 billion in subsidies to corn and grain farmers – $0 to vegetable farmers.

    Again, government distorts the market so bad that the consumer cannot escape it unscathed.

    People also smoke, but smokers die younger and are not so much a burden to us in their dotage as non-smokers. Same with excess drinking and drug use. But things like cancer, heart conditions, auto-immune disorders environmental diseases are hardly brought on one’s self.

    Equally, they are not my fault either.

    Because I am healthy and you are not makes you believe I should pay for you. But that destroys my ability to care for those that I wish to care for – which does not necessarily include you and the 300 million others like you.

    Society works best if you take care of yourself and I myself.

    We agree on much, your words carry weight with me and I don’t set anything aside lightly or claim wisdom beyond yours.

    Likewise!

    Thanks, Mark T.!

  3. Jim Davidson Says:

    Taxation is theft and violence to the extent that any individual, any single person, does not consent to be taxed. Taxation is theft because it is not voluntary. Taxation is violence because it is coercion.

    Ask any merchant what happens to his business if he doesn’t send the state the sales taxes he has “collected” for them at the point of a gun. Ask any tax protestor (you’ll find many in federal prisons) what happens if they tell others not to file tax forms.

    If taxation were not theft and violence, why was the IRS called before Congress to testify about its extreme brutality in many documented instances of abuse?

    Any externally imposed coercive form of government is wrong. Dance with evil if it pleases you, Mark T., but remember the last dance is hell.

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