Math Buddha's Blather

Uh, I don't know, just read it and see for yourself.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A glimmer of hope.

Watching politics for the past six years has gotten me very depressed, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up or anything, but maybe some of the people in charge do care about the rule of law after all. This is some of the best news I've had all year.;_ylt=AlAZl5eNY5hbUNfZVLaevtOs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Objectivism, Anarchy, and the Impossible Dream

I've been having some conversation with a coworker who's reading a book called "The Politics of Jesus". The thesis of the book seems to be that Jesus was advocating a political philosophy as well as a theological system. A bold statement to be sure, and I admit I haven't read the book, but it seems pretty self-indulgent to me. That could be because he's admitted to me that he is a utopian anarchist at heart, and believes in an anarcho-communistic society where people could live out their dreams without interference from Big Brother. He was particularly cheesed off about seat belt laws.

SEAT BELT LAWS!!! Sorry, Robynsaddiction, but you're both going to lose that one! Of course his argument was sound enough and went something like this. If I hurt myself through negligence, that's my business. I pointed out to him that the government often picks up part of the tab for vehicular injuries, and he said that they should just not do that, then. OK, but what about injuries caused in cars by unrestrained passengers? No answer. What about...the government built the road you drive on and pays for its upkeep? No answer. Never mind then.

The bedrock that any such argument rests on is the resentment of the slightest amount of government control in one's life. I'll leave the psychology aside for now, so as not to offend, but let's consider the philosophical implications. The first and most basic question is "Is government necessary?" Dang, I'm going to need some psychology here, bear with me. If government is necessary, it is because people as individuals don't know what's right for them. Seems a bit silly, but what about violent murderers? Surely, everyone can agree that some form of police control is necessary as a bare minimum. My coworker, of course, might suggest that violent murders wouldn't happen if there were no government oppression, but I'm trying to keep the psychology to a minimum, so I'll leave that alone, too. So we must have some form of government.

The next question is a little trickier. "How can government be maintained?" Here I speak of money. Yes, yes, in theory, something else could be used, but it would still be some medium of exchange, wouldn't it? So money is necessary too. Here's where things get ugly. Where does the money come from? Boy do people get pissed off when asked that. The most obvious answer would be taxation, which is how it's done in any real government. At this point, my coworker would suggest that people would voluntarily conrtibute whatever resources were necessary if government weren't already making unjust demands.

He's not kidding, people.

Can I see a show of hands of people that would actually pay for the police if they didn't risk jail otherwise? Anybody? Anybody? Even I wouldn't do it. I could come up with excellent justifications too. I'm poor, let somebody else do it. I don't hurt anybody, so I don't need to pay to punish those that do. Morally, that last one is unsinkable. Pragmatically, it's bullshit.

So now you think that I'm a communist, but only if you don't know what communism is. Communism is an economic philosophy, not a political one. In communism, everyone naturally shares everything because they want to. Hence, taxes would be unnecessary.

You could call me a socialist and I wouldn't argue. But unless you can convince me that government is unnecessary, then you'll never convince me that taxation is unnecessary. And once those things have been conceded, the only questions that remain are who gets taxed how much and for what. I insist that these questions be answered as pragmatically as possible, since morality is no basis for discussion.

What about objectivism, you ask? How can this post be about objectivism when I've said nothing about it? What do you think I've been talking about? Objectivism = Anarchy. No way around it except allegiance to the government. That's why objectivism is well and good for personal life, but dysfunctional at the societal level.

I'm a Humanist. I believe as much as the next guy in the potential of humans, and more than most. Which is why I cannot believe in the utopian dreams of anarchists and communists who tell me that humans are naturally good and would naturally do what's right if they weren't forced by government (Who is this government anyway?). The potential of humans is greater than good alone, it encompasses all things. Evil and good proceed from the same source, but pettiness and greed are far older than either.