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Property Rights and the 'BUT YOU DROVE ON ROADS' Objection

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Do you consider stone and wood to be capital? A person could fashion spears, bows and arrows, and axes from stone and wood.

Wikipedia: "In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services."

So by that definition, I guess it wouldn't be capital. But what I mean is that one needs capital to produce modern weapons. Sticks and stones wouldn't do much good these days (nor would they have 300 years ago when capitalism started to become the dominant economic form).

Are you familiar with the concept of "economies of scale"?

Otherwise, what entitles mom-and-pop stores to any given amount of market share, local or otherwise? Besides, this in no way supports, let alone proves, your implicit assertion that "bigger" landlords (i.e. those who own more land) will acquire land from the "smaller" landlords (i.e. those who own less land). Can you support this assertion or not?

I never said mom-and-pop stores are legally entitled to a given market share (I assume you are being consistent with your definitions). Obviously they are not. If they were, what entitles them is the decision of lawmakers, per your definition of entitlement.

Don't you think agriculture is dominated by big farms more today than it was 200 years ago? You don't think these big farms acquired land from small farmers? If big farms can sell produce for cheaper, then it would be hard for small farmers to compete. It might make more economic sense for them to sell their land to big farmers than to continue farming for a living. Do you not agree?

Do I need to repeat myself? I guess I do. Please support the notion that a company that can get away with violating its contract to its workers will necessarily (i.e. all companies, at all times and places) be more profitable.

I'm not going to support a notion I never put forward. Do companies only adopt policies that necessarily at all times and places increase profits? It only needs to be generally true, not "necessarily" true. Otherwise I could ask you the same questions: Do all states necessarily at all times and places violate the property rights of their citizens?

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Jul 24 2011 11:30 AM

Fool on the Hill:
OK, let me go through this. Clayton initially claimed that the state was illegitimate because there is no contract between the state and its citizens. I suggested that this objection could be resolved if the state drew up a contract with its citizens. Clayton then backtracked and said the state has signed a contract with its citizens but that it is still illegitimate because it has gotten away with violating the contract. As I now understand it, Rothbard suggests third party "private courts" will function as arbitrators between a business and its employees (as well as between other relations) in an ancap society. If such arbitrators justify the existence of businesses because they safe guard against contract violations, then it seems to me that a similar arbitrator will justify the existence of the state. I initially suggested the UN, but now I think that the United States, France, China, etc. would be more analogous. If a business arbitrates in business/employee disputes, then the equivalent would be a state arbitrating in state/citizen disputes. Clayton asked who would enforce the contract between the arbitrating state and the state/citizen subjugate contracting with it. I agree with you that this agreement to arbitrate is a contract, but I thought Clayton was referring to some other, more general contract. So is the question who will enforce this arbitration contract between the state arbitrator and the state/citizen subjugate in a statist society? I'd turn the question back and ask, Who will enforce the contract between a business arbitrator and the business/employee subjugate in an ancap society? The answer to the second question should imply an equivalent to the first question. Thus, the logic of Clayton's reasoning cannot justify the abolition of the state without also justifying the abolition of business.

As far as I can tell, Clayton was not referring to some other, more general contract. But only he knows what he was really referring to, so I'll defer to him in this instance.

Turning the question back is not a way to answer the question. It's a way to avoid answering the question.

In any case, my point was the same as what I see Clayton's as being - to agree to arbitration implies a contract. It cannot be otherwise.

Fool on the Hill:
This is what I actually said: "Why would capitalists sell weapons to the laboring class (or to a defense agency that protects them)? As you state, the main purpose of this agency would be to guard the laborers against the capitalists. Why would they sell weapons to their enemies, risking both their lives and their power?" Nowhere did I say all laborers would necessarily stealeverywhere at all times. I never even used those four words. The US government won't sell arms to al-Qaeda because it considers them enemies. That doesn't mean that all al-Qaeda members will necessarily at all times everywhere carry out attacks against the United States.

You didn't have to use those four words. They were implicit in your statement, given that you used the noun "capitalists" without qualification. I was simply making explicit what you had made implicit.

Again, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that "capitalists" as a class consider "laborers" as a class to be enemies.

Fool on the Hill:
But that said, I think you could argue that the Adam Smith quote does imply that capitalists and laborers are necessarily enemies. He states that they have opposite goals--one wants to raise wages the other to lower them. People who have opposite goals are by definition enemies. Now you might say they aren't at all times trying to achieve those goals, but if we're going to use that definition, then no one could ever be considered enemies. [Emphasis added.]

Since no two people ever have all of the same goals, by your reasoning, we're all enemies all the time. Glad to see you here with us, Mr. Hobbes.

Fool on the Hill:
Again, I don't need to prove that they will do it all the time. It happens enough that businesses must adopt policies against it. That's the point.

See above. I think it's the crux of our dispute.

Fool on the Hill:
Will [expanding my definition of "property" beyond territory] help? Will any of my arguments fall apart when if I use your definition of property? If you want to provide me with a definition, I can use it from this point on. I don't want to confuse you.

I'm not trying to ensure that any/all of your arguments fall apart. What I am trying to do is make sure we're both on a consistent logical basis. Using multiple definitions for the same word in a debate goes against that goal, as it constitutes equivocation.

So I really don't care which definition you use for "property". I only care that you use a consistent definition for it.

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Jul 24 2011 11:43 AM

Fool on the Hill:
OK, we'll use your definition. I'll adjust the discussion thusly:

Me: It's not so much intrusion, but that in a pure capitalist society a large segment of the population have no freedom because they are not entitled to anything other than their bodies.

Andris: How comes they are left without any property other than their bodies? Bad luck? What happened to charities?

Me: One isn't born with any property or possessions other than one's body.

I have no disagreement with your final assertion. No one is ever born with any property or possessions other than his own body. I don't see how it could ever be considered otherwise. (Caveat: I'm not trying to imply here that either "property" or "posession" is anything but a human concept - i.e., neither has any separate physical existence outside of the human mind.)

However, what I do disagree with is that having no property or possessions other than one's body necessarily constitues a lack of freedom. This means that you and I each have a different definition for the word "freedom".

Fool on the Hill:
You're defintion of freedom seems to imply that everyone always has the same amount of freedom. If that's so, why call yourself a libertarian if there is just as much freedom under an authoritarian society? How can the actions of libertarians increase freedom if freedom is merely nonaction?

I consider "freedom" to refer to an inherently social concept. More specifically, I consider it to refer to the absence of aggression. This means that I don't consider impersonal physical phenomena like gravity, hunger, or the amount of means at my disposal to be constraints on my freedom.

Fool on the Hill:
Under your definition, would you say that people are entitled to not have their property infringed upon? I don't care if we throw out the word enitlement. I just mean to say that the obligation to not interfere with another's property (or possessions) and the obligation to perform "charitable" works are on the same level.

Yes, I'd say that people are entitled to not have their property infringed upon. Your last sentence is what I disagree with. When I say that I think people are entitled to not have their property infringed upon, I mean that I think they're entitled to use force to prevent such infringement. However, I don't think people are entitled to use force to compel others to perform charitable works. Does that make sense?

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Jul 24 2011 11:52 AM

 

Fool on the Hill:
Wikipedia: "In economicscapitalcapital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services."

So by that definition, I guess it wouldn't be capital. But what I mean is that one needs capital to produce modern weapons. Sticks and stones wouldn't do much good these days (nor would they have 300 years ago when capitalism started to become the dominant economic form).

By that definition, stone and wood indeed do not constitute "capital". But they're still means at our disposal, aren't they? And if you really meant modern weapons, why didn't you say so? However, I think a stone knife could cut a person's throat just as well as a stainless-steel knife could. On the other hand, there are ways to kill people without using any weapons at all.

Fool on the Hill:
I never said mom-and-pop stores are legally entitled to a given market share (I assume you are being consistent with your definitions). Obviously they are not. If they were, what entitles them is the decision of lawmakers, per your definition of entitlement.

Don't you think agriculture is dominated by big farms more today than it was 200 years ago? You don't think these big farms acquired land from small farmers? If big farms can sell produce for cheaper, then it would be hard for small farmers to compete. It might make more economic sense for them to sell their land to big farmers than to continue farming for a living. Do you not agree?

When I use the word "entitlement", I mean in what I'd call a moral sense, which concerns the legitimate use of force. So if a mom-and-pop store were considered entitled to a certain market share, that means it could legitimately use force to obtain/ensure it.

Regarding your statements on agriculture, I don't see the problem. Do you think the big and small farmers should be forced from coming to such mutual agreements?

Fool on the Hill:
I'm not going to support a notion I never put forward. Do companies only adopt policies that necessarily at all times and places increase profits? It only needs to be generally true, not "necessarily" true. Otherwise I could ask you the same questions: Do all states necessarily at all times and places violate the property rights of their citizens?

When conducting logical debate, which is what I'm (hopefully) doing, there is no such thing as "generally true". As far as I can tell, you've been making categorical statements about the world and the people in it, which means you're making logical statements. If that's not the case, then you're arguing based on emotions and personal preferences, at which point I'll simply say I disagree and there can be no debate about it.

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Turning the question back is not a way to answer the question. It's a way to avoid answering the question.

No, I need the answer to the second question in order to compare it with the answer to the first question. My point is to show that the ancap position is logically inconsistent. You're the one avoiding questions by constantly asking me to define my terms when you know full well what I mean.

You didn't have to use those four words. They were implicit in your statement, given that you used the noun "capitalists" without qualification. I was simply making explicit what you had made implicit.

You made this statement in another thread: "My understanding is that the Spanish Anarchists did not allow inheritances in land (or anything else)."

Should I take that to mean that all Spanish Anarchists necessarily at all times and all places did not allow inheritances in anything?

Since no two people ever have all of the same goals, by your reasoning, we're all enemies all the time. Glad to see you here with us, Mr. Hobbes.

I said people with opposite goals are enemies. Opposite goals are not synonymous with different goals. If I understand your reasoning, one can never be an enemy.

I'll try to attempt an argument more to your liking. Capitalists and laborers are enemies when they are engaging in the capitalist/laborer relationship. That relationship is defined by conflicting goals, according to Adam Smith (and Karl Marx). Of course someone you might call a capitalist and someone you might call a laborer could, say, go out for a drink together and not be enemies at this time. However, it wouldn't be correct to refer to these two people as a capitalist and a laborer because they are not necessarily at all times and places a capitalist and a laborer. Thus, someone is only a capitalist when he is functioning as a capitalist. When someone is functioning as a capitalist, he by definition is necessarily an enemy of his employed laborer. Thus, all capitalists necessarily at all times and all places are enemies of their laborers. When they are not enemies of their laborers, they are not capitalists. 

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I consider "freedom" to refer to an inherently social concept. More specifically, I consider it to refer to the absence of aggression. This means that I don't consider impersonal physical phenomena like gravity, hunger, or the amount of means at my disposal to be constraints on my freedom.

If I held up a loud air horn to your ear, would you consider that an act of aggression? My understanding of proprietarian arguments is that this would be an act of aggression because I infiltrated your ear with sound waves without your permission. It being aggression not because it hurt but because it violated your self-ownership. If the volume of the air horn is irrelevant in constituting aggression, then my speaking to you also constitutes a form of aggression, a violation of your freedom from having sound waves penetrate your ear. Of course speaking to you wouldn't constitute a form of aggression if i got your permission first. However, I can't get your permission to speak to you without speaking to you first! Thus, by your definition, a society without speech is necessarily more free than a society with speech. "Freedom of speech" is then contradictory because it means freedom to violate someone else's property. Proprietarian arguments can only justify freedom from speech.

Yes, I'd say that people are entitled to not have their property infringed upon. Your last sentence is what I disagree with. When I say that I think people are entitled to not have their property infringed upon, I mean that I think they're entitled to use force to prevent such infringement. However, I don't think people are entitled to use force to compel others to perform charitable works. Does that make sense?

I think so.

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By that definition, stone and wood indeed do not constitute "capital". But they're still means at our disposal, aren't they? And if you really meant modern weapons, why didn't you say so? However, I think a stone knife could cut a person's throat just as well as a stainless-steel knife could. On the other hand, there are ways to kill people without using any weapons at all.

But this is straying from the point I was making, which is that the superior weapons that many capitalists would have would constitute a bargaining advantage over their employees.

Regarding your statements on agriculture, I don't see the problem. Do you think the big and small farmers should be forced from coming to such mutual agreements?

I don't think they should be prevented from making the agreements. But I don't see any reason for me to recognize such agreements or to act in any way to uphold them. If a small farmer agrees to sell his farm to a large corporation but then refuses to leave his farm, I'm not going to assist the corporation in kicking the farmer off the land. In fact, I might join the farmer in his defense. For my part, the agreement is virtually meaningless.

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Jul 24 2011 3:27 PM

Fool on the Hill:
No, I need the answer to the second question in order to compare it with the answer to the first question. My point is to show that the ancap position is logically inconsistent. You're the one avoiding questions by constantly asking me to define my terms when you know full well what I mean.

How can you compare the answer to the second question with the answer to the first question when you haven't yet answered the first question?

Please point out exactly which questions you think I've avoided so far. Otherwise, if I'm asking you what you mean by things, obviously I don't know "full well" what you mean by them. If you want to think that I'm somehow being dishonest (intellectually or otherwise) and therefore want to write me off, I can't stop you. But I'll gladly pick up where we left off if you ever decide to come back.

Fool on the Hill:
You made this statement in another thread: "My understanding is that the Spanish Anarchists did not allow inheritances in land (or anything else)."

Should I take that to mean that all Spanish Anarchists necessarily at all times and all places did not allow inheritances inanything?

Yes, although "did not allow" does imply "after they were in a position to allow/disallow such things".

Fool on the Hill:
I said people with opposite goals are enemies. Opposite goals are not synonymous with different goals. If I understand your reasoning, one can never be an enemy.

What do you consider to be "opposite goals", then?

I consider someone an enemy if he's aggressing against me or directly threatening to do so.

Fool on the Hill:
I'll try to attempt an argument more to your liking. Capitalists and laborers are enemies when they are engaging in the capitalist/laborer relationship. That relationship is defined by conflicting goals, according to Adam Smith (and Karl Marx). Of course someone you might call a capitalist and someone you might call a laborer could, say, go out for a drink together and not be enemies at this time. However, it wouldn't be correct to refer to these two people as a capitalist and a laborer because they are not necessarily at all times and places a capitalist and a laborer. Thus, someone is only a capitalist when he is functioning as a capitalist. When someone is functioning as a capitalist, he by definition is necessarily an enemy of his employed laborer. Thus, all capitalists necessarily at all times and all places are enemies of their laborers. When they are not enemies of their laborers, they are not capitalists.

I assume the other side of the equation is true: Someone is only a laborer when he is functioning as a laborer. When someone is functioning as a laborer (so your argument goes), he by definition is necessarily an enemy of his capitalist employer. Thus, all laborers necessarily at all times and all places are enemies of their capitalist employers. When they are not enemies of their capitalist employers, they are not laborers.

Now, while you can certainly define "capitalist" and "laborer" in mutually-recursive terms as enemies of one another, this doesn't explain why they are enemies of one another to begin with. However, I believe I understand why you're characterizing them as enemies - because the capitalist wishes to pay the laborer as little as possible for as much work as possible, and the laborer wishes to be paid as much as possible for as little work as possible. But this relationship is just an example of a supply-and-demand relationship. If I go into a store, you can bet that my goal is to buy as much as possible for as little money as possible. In the limit, this means I'd like to get everything in the store for free. On the other hand, the owner(s) of the store would like to have everything of mine in exchange for nothing. By your reasoning, then, the store owner(s) and I are enemies. Furthermore, all producers are the enemies of all consumers, and vice-versa.

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Jul 24 2011 3:34 PM

Fool on the Hill:
If I held up a loud air horn to your ear, would you consider that an act of aggression? My understanding of proprietarian arguments is that this would be an act of aggression because I infiltrated your ear with sound waves without your permission. It being aggression not because it hurt but because it violated your self-ownership. If the volume of the air horn is irrelevant in constituting aggression, then my speaking to you also constitutes a form of aggression, a violation of your freedom fromhaving sound waves penetrate your ear. Of course speaking to you wouldn't constitute a form of aggression if i got your permission first. However, I can't get your permission to speak to you without speaking to you first! Thus, by your definition, a society without speech is necessarily more free than a society with speech. "Freedom of speech" is then contradictory because it means freedom to violate someone else's property. Proprietarian arguments can only justify freedom from speech.

If I thought you were going to sound off said air horn right outside my ear, I certainly would consider it an act of aggression. Why is that? Because I wouldn't want my ear to be subjected to a painfully loud sound.

Onto the larger point. While you may think you're making a reductio ad absurdum, I can assure you that I see it as no such thing. An anarcho-capitalist society would have no "freedom of speech" as it's understood in the modern leftist sense - i.e., an entitlement to say whatever one wants wherever one is. If I invite you over for dinner, and you proceed to talk about things that I don't want you to talk about, I'd say I'm within my rights to then tell you to leave. Any protestations of yours about "freedom of speech" would fall on deaf ears at that point.

Fool on the Hill:
Yes, I'd say that people are entitled to not have their property infringed upon. Your last sentence is what I disagree with. When I say that I think people are entitled to not have their property infringed upon, I mean that I think they're entitled to use force to prevent such infringement. However, I don't think people are entitled to use force to compel others to perform charitable works. Does that make sense?

I think so.

Okay, so does that mean you agree with it? Or does it just mean that you see it as being logically consistent?

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Rcder replied on Sun, Jul 24 2011 3:37 PM

Thus, all capitalists necessarily at all times and all places are enemies of their laborers. When they are not enemies of their laborers, they are not capitalists.

Talk about a paradox.  Capitalists are always enemies of labor except when they're not.  Is there some magic line drawn around every factory where, depending on which side the individual crosses it, someone instantaniously turns from a capitalist to a normal person or from a laborer to a normal person? 

Revistionist Marxism makes my head hurt.

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Jul 24 2011 3:38 PM

Fool on the Hill:
But this is straying from the point I was making, which is that the superior weapons that many capitalists would have would constitute a bargaining advantage over their employees.

Do you think people are entitled to never be at a bargaining advantage or disadvantage?

Fool on the Hill:
I don't think they should be prevented from making the agreements. But I don't see any reason for me to recognize such agreements or to act in any way to uphold them. If a small farmer agrees to sell his farm to a large corporation but then refuses to leave his farm, I'm not going to assist the corporation in kicking the farmer off the land. In fact, I might join the farmer in his defense. For my part, the agreement is virtually meaningless.

If the small farmer agrees to sell his farm to a large corporation, but then refuses to leave the farm, I see only two legitimate outcomes. One is that the small farmer returns the money he received from the purported sale, and he and the large corporation are back to square one. Another is that the corporation prosecutes the farmer for theft, as he took the corporation's money without upholding his side of the agreement. Do you think it's fair for the small farmer to take the money and then renege on his mutual obligation? I don't.

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How can you compare the answer to the second question with the answer to the first question when you haven't yet answered the first question?

My answer is: the equivalent party that will enforce the contract in an ancap society.

What do you consider to be "opposite goals", then?

If I want to move a painting on the wall up and my roommate wants to move it down, I would say we have opposite goals. We can't both achieve our goals. However, if I wan to move the painting up and my roommate wants to move it left, we have different but not opposite goals. We can both achieve our goals.

By your reasoning, then, the store owner(s) and I are enemies. Furthermore, all producers are the enemies of all consumers, and vice-versa.

Sure. We could use the term competitors if you feel enemies is too harsh. If I walk into a a used car dealership with a gun, it might have an impact on the price I get for a car. So my point still stands.

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Onto the larger point. While you may think you're making a reductio ad absurdum, I can assure you that I see it as no such thing. An anarcho-capitalist society would have no "freedom of speech" as it's understood in the modern leftist sense - i.e., an entitlement to say whatever one wants wherever one is. If I invite you over for dinner, and you proceed to talk about things that I don't want you to talk about, I'd say I'm within my rights to then tell you to leave. Any protestations of yours about "freedom of speech" would fall on deaf ears at that point.

Ah, so you've already taken the appropriate step to increase you're freedom.

Okay, so does that mean you agree with it? Or does it just mean that you see it as being logically consistent?

The latter. But I do agree with this statement: "I don't think people are entitled to use force to compel others to perform charitable works." I think that people are entitled to obtain food when they are hungry in the same sense that you think that people are entitled to use force when their property is infringed upon. If I get you right, you don't think that a third party should be forced to defend other people's property. Similarly, I don't think a third part should be forced to give up their food to a starving person.

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Do you think people are entitled to never be at a bargaining advantage or disadvantage?

No. But I wasn't making a normative claim in this instance.

Do you think it's fair for the small farmer to take the money and then renege on his mutual obligation? I don't.

I think it could be fair depending upon the circumstances.

Many people in this thread (perhaps yourself included) feel that it's OK to move to a city, use the roads that the city built, and then renege on their obligation to pay city taxes.

(Can you believe I returned this thread to its original topic?)

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Talk about a paradox.  Capitalists are always enemies of labor except when they're not.  Is there some magic line drawn around every factory where, depending on which side the individual crosses it, someone instantaniously turns from a capitalist to a normal person or from a laborer to a normal person?

I don't see the paradox. When they're negotiating over a contract (which is what the whole gun point was about) they're acting in their roles as capitalists and laborers.

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Jul 24 2011 9:16 PM

Fool on the Hill:
Ah, so you've already taken the appropriate step to increase you're freedom.

If you're not going to take this seriously anymore, why should I?

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Rcder replied on Sun, Jul 24 2011 11:33 PM

I don't see the paradox. When they're negotiating over a contract (which is what the whole gun point was about) they're acting in their roles as capitalists and laborers.

The fact that you continue to insert platitudes like these into your posts shows that you have abandoned all attempts at maintaining rational discourse.  You are more concerned about red harrings and prolifigating talking points than you are about ideas.

I don't know why Autolykos is wasting his time with you.  Just report your "victory" to RevLeft and leave us alone.

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If you're not going to take this seriously anymore, why should I?

My point that speech is a violation of property rights under your definition is a serious criticism, which I don't feel like you have refuted.

 

Premise 1: Someone who has caused sound waves to enter a person's ear without his/her permission has violated his/her property rights.

Premise 2: Someone who initiates speech has caused sound waves to enter someone's ear without his/her permission.

Conclusion A: Someone who initiates speech has violated someone's property rights.

 

Premise 3: One is entitled to use force against one who violates one's property rights.

Premise 4: Someone who initiates speech has violated someone's property rights.

Conclusion B: One is entitled to use force against one who has initiated speech.

 

Premise 5: A society with no property rights violations is more free than one with property rights violations.

Premise 6: The existence of speech necessitates property rights violations.

Conclusion C: A society with no speech is more free than one with speech.

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The fact that you continue to insert platitudes like these into your posts shows that you have abandoned all attempts at maintaining rational discourse.  You are more concerned about red harrings and prolifigating talking points than you are about ideas.

I claimed that capitalists wouldn't sell weapons to their laborers, because when you sell weapons to someone with opposite goals, it undermines your ability to achieve your goals. I was challenged on the notion that capitalists and laborers have opposite goals. I tried to show that they do. What is the red harring? If I'm not being clear, I'd like to have the opportunity to rectify it.

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