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How can a free society protect itself?

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dbooksta Posted: Wed, Dec 17 2008 3:42 PM

In this age of suicidal terrorists who can arm themselves with devastating weapons (truck bombs, even bona fide WMDs), it is not realistic to say that we must wait until an act of mass murder is actually launched to take action against a malefactor.

But how can we preempt devastating criminal actions without the trappings of a police state?

How can we justify taking a man's freedom or property based only on his intentions?

In consideration of the terms of modern terrorism, it seems to me that you can't preserve life and property without sacrificing some liberty.  The only libertarian response I have gotten so far to these questions is, "Fear is the price of liberty, and I'll gladly pay it."  Which, in contrast to most of the libertarian agenda, is not a position that I think many reasonable people will accept.  So in the face of these threats is there a basis for sacrificing liberty in defense of life and property that preserves the libertarian spirit -- i.e., that does NOT expose us to a slippery slope that might encompass every other form of government we have seen and detest?

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this age of suicidal terrorism?  terrorism is on the decline.   has been since the 70's I believe.  this isn't realistically a huge concern.

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What you really mean by "How can a free society protect itself?" is "How can I coerce other people into doing what I believe is necessary for my protection?"

From actual foreign invasion, Lew Rockwell did a GREAT article on Swiss armed neutrality. http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/stagnaro5.html

Ok, Abdul drives a bomb-truck into a school, Mark breaks into a school with an FN Minimi, what is the difference aside from the fact that Abdul is foreign and "muslim" and Mark is local and "christian"? The Neo-Con answer is that one is a terrorist and one is a murderer. But they're wrong. They are both terrorists and they are both murderers.

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Sphairon replied on Wed, Dec 17 2008 3:52 PM

Here's the deal: even with cameras on every street corner, bugs in every apartment and unwarranted wiretapping of everybody, you will not have safety from terrorist attacks. Rapid technological development, the reason cited for all these police state measures, will be in constant struggle with any protection mechanism the state tries to implement, and at some point be able to outcompete it. Boom, then.

In the meantime, however, you have sacrificed your liberty for the false security of the state. By doing so, you've added a much more dangerous enemy to your list than a terrorist who is pretty much limited to operating within a costly and risky black market: the omnipotent state. Remember, the state is able to tax as much wealth out of you as it desires, it has a monopoly on force, it has shown its ability to secretly imprison, enslave and execute millions countless times in the 20th century only.

If you think it won't happen here, you're wrong.

So I don't see how your desire for security can in any way be reconciled with the means and ends of state governance.


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Damn straight. The British people trust the British state not to tyrannise them.

The problem is, it already does. 

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Stranger replied on Wed, Dec 17 2008 3:56 PM

dbooksta:

In this age of suicidal terrorists who can arm themselves with devastating weapons (truck bombs, even bona fide WMDs), it is not realistic to say that we must wait until an act of mass murder is actually launched to take action against a malefactor.

 

Free societies do not have terrorists.

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dbooksta replied on Wed, Dec 17 2008 4:58 PM

OK, I used too many loaded terms.  They don't have to be terrorists.  They don't have to be suicidal.

Granted, there will always be lone psychopaths that can't be found or stopped until they snap and actually do something.  Forget those cases.

Let me rephrase the question: Throughout the world there are small groups of people who would like to effect mass murder for various purposes -- not all of them justifiable.  Some of them broadcast their intentions ahead of time.  Others try to conceal them.  We know that there are "police state" measures that will deter or halt some of these plots.  When and what measures are permissible to deter or halt plots to commit mass murder?  Or is no threat great enough, no danger sufficiently clear and present, that people are justified in depriving someone of his liberty until he has actually committed a crime, no matter how horrific?

Let's take a step back and imagine a libertarian utopia in which a man freely declares that he hates the world and that he would like to kill everyone and let god sort out the mess.  Thought is not a crime, nor is speech.  Now suppose that he goes down to the local industrial supply counter and picks up a bunch of detonators.  Can we do anything?  Now he goes to the local farm supply warehouse and fills a truck with ammonium nitrate.  Still OK?  Now in broad daylight he puts the detonators in oil-soaked AN and parks the truck in front of a church just beginning Sunday services.  How about now?  You shouldn't be surprised when he detonates that truck bomb, and it's not just the people in that church who would say that any government or group of people would have been fully justified in putting a stop to this chain of events a little earlier -- indeed, most people would demand that we collectively maintain some sort of security apparatus to protect against such a clear and present danger.  And I don't think libertarians will get a lot of sympathy by saying, "No, you're mistaken, the cost and risk to freedom of even a modicum of security is not worth its potential in averting mass destruction."

Now, if you can draw a line in this chain at which we are justified in obstructing this guy's liberty, or taking his property, let's try a few other cases: What if two guys embark on this plot, and there is some "police state" technology with which we can detect the plot even earlier, because instead of it being in one guy's head there is some overt communication on the subject?

Oh, and is a truck bomb not compelling enough?  How about a small group of guys who conspire to build a nuclear bomb and detonate it in a population center?

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If protecting oneself from 'terrorism' is indeed possible, then it will be done by individual humans and the institutions that they accept.  I think the main thrust of the question is akin to asking 'how will a free society provide bread'.  Really, if you accept the economics, you don't even need to answer that.  The question demands one to know what the market solution in a future situation would amount to.  But this is impossible.

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In a libertarian society, if someone in my town said he wanted to destroy humanity and threatened to kill people, he wouldn't get as far as you've described. He would be refused goods or just shot dead. 

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Stranger replied on Wed, Dec 17 2008 8:34 PM

dbooksta:
Let's take a step back and imagine a libertarian utopia in which a man freely declares that he hates the world and that he would like to kill everyone and let god sort out the mess.  Thought is not a crime, nor is speech.  Now suppose that he goes down to the local industrial supply counter and picks up a bunch of detonators.  Can we do anything?  Now he goes to the local farm supply warehouse and fills a truck with ammonium nitrate.  Still OK?  Now in broad daylight he puts the detonators in oil-soaked AN and parks the truck in front of a church just beginning Sunday services.  How about now? 

When has this happened?

Please limit your hypotheticals to realistic cases.

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This is a wild post.

With all of the motive in the world, people aren't nuking US cities (let's face it, Americans do stick their noses and gun barrels in everywhere they don't belong).  So now in a stateless society, where no one has the power to invade another, let alone occupy them with an army, you think people are going to build nukes and such to terrorize people?

Who will you terrorize if you blow up the libertarian town of Wichita?  They will all be dead.  They have no connection per se with Dallas, or New York.  You might as well blow up Spokane or Naples.  It just doesn't make any sense.

I kinda feel for you.  You seem to be going through the pains of purging yourself of statism.  Been there.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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It's funny because stateless societies are, in a sense, like the market, impersonal and faceless. There is no person in the state, as there is right now. Just many free individuals interacting under many possible arrangements of their own choosing. A state to weld together disparate interests and force them to accept it as their mask will no longer exist.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Jayjay replied on Wed, Dec 17 2008 11:26 PM

liberty student:

I kinda feel for you.  You seem to be going through the pains of purging yourself of statism.  Been there.

I too am going through the purging process - I have one question relating to this topic. If, for example, a country 'converts' and becomes a true market economy - what's to stop their neighbour, who is still operating under statism, invading? Presumably their military force would be superior as they would have far more resources dedicated to that industry.

Is this something that has to be implemented on a global level to have a chance of working?

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Stranger replied on Wed, Dec 17 2008 11:32 PM

Jayjay:

 

I too am going through the purging process - I have one question relating to this topic. If, for example, a country 'converts' and becomes a true market economy - what's to stop their neighbour, who is still operating under statism, invading? Presumably their military force would be superior as they would have far more resources dedicated to that industry.

Why would people not devote resources to protecting themselves from foreign invasion?

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Jayjay replied on Wed, Dec 17 2008 11:44 PM

Stranger:

Why would people not devote resources to protecting themselves from foreign invasion?

Some probably would, but then again some wouldn't as everyone can choose for themselves. Some may underestimate the threat and under-spend, I doubt they would have perfect knowledge of their neighbours.

Hence wouldn't it be likely that a state-run military, where all of their resources are pooled for the sole purpose of invasion, would overrun this 'free' society? Wouldn't it be like a well-drilled team playing a team of individuals in football?

I'm just curious, some clarification would be nice.

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dbooksta replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 8:41 AM

liberty student:

With all of the motive in the world, people aren't nuking US cities (let's face it, Americans do stick their noses and gun barrels in everywhere they don't belong).  So now in a stateless society, where no one has the power to invade another, let alone occupy them with an army, you think people are going to build nukes and such to terrorize people?

Who will you terrorize if you blow up the libertarian town of Wichita?  They will all be dead.  They have no connection per se with Dallas, or New York.  You might as well blow up Spokane or Naples.  It just doesn't make any sense.

I kinda feel for you.  You seem to be going through the pains of purging yourself of statism.  Been there.

... and you seem to have lost touch with the reality of a world full of human beings.  There are plenty of people who do not behave in accordance with mainstream reason.  "It just doesn't make any sense" is often the sentiment that follows random acts of mass murder, but that doesn't stop such acts from being attempted.  You cannot simply assert that in a stateless libertarian utopia random acts of violence will cease.

For as long as there have been powerful weapons groups of people have tried to acquire WMDs, and many of those groups have in fact launched attacks using less destructive weapons.  I hesitate to bring the loaded word "terrorism" back into the mix, but that's what we have typically called attacks that aim to destroy large groups of people who have not directly done anything to the attackers.

For those who don't believe it's realistic for an individual to build a truck bomb and detonate it, please see here.  (If you sympathize with terrorists, please don't bother to comment.  Psychopaths can always draw some connection between an injustice they have perceived and some group of people.  And libertarians in general should not accept the fact that individuals who have been subjugated by a government are responsible for that government's actions.)

For those who say, "people who care and private enterprise will find a way," that's sort of the point of my question.  The solutions that people around the world have found work to detect and defuse mass murder plots involve "invading privacy" and curtailing the rights of individuals that have not actually committed a crime.  So fine, let's put ourselves in a libertarian utopia.  Can I form a corporation to protect my neighborhood against random acts of violence that evesdrops on people who have not consented to its work, or that detains people and takes property based on potential but unrealized threats?

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dbooksta:
... and you seem to have lost touch with the reality of a world full of human beings.  There are plenty of people who do not behave in accordance with mainstream reason.  "It just doesn't make any sense" is often the sentiment that follows random acts of mass murder, but that doesn't stop such acts from being attempted.  You cannot simply assert that in a stateless libertarian utopia random acts of violence will cease.

Well, I can assert it, but I don't believe I did.  I merely questioned your example, which did not seem to be grounded in reality.  America was attacked one time, and even that, 30 some % of Americans, don't believe the official story about that.  So this notion that there is a constant terror threat, doesn't seem to me, to be more than propaganda by the state.  Compound that with Prof. Robert Pape's reserearch (he does research for the Pentagon) at the Chicago center on Suicide Terrorism, and I'm led to believe, that a stateless society would dramatically decrease suicide terrorism, simply because (1) there would be less or little motive, and (2) it would be very hard to pick a target.

dbooksta:
For as long as there have been powerful weapons groups of people have tried to acquire WMDs, and many of those groups have in fact launched attacks using less destructive weapons.  I hesitate to bring the loaded word "terrorism" back into the mix, but that's what we have typically called attacks that aim to destroy large groups of people who have not directly done anything to the attackers.

The definition of terrorism, is political violence against non-combatants.  If you eliminate formalized politics, you seriously compromise the motive for political violence.

dbooksta:
For those who don't believe it's realistic for an individual to build a truck bomb and detonate it, please see here.  (If you sympathize with terrorists, please don't bother to comment.  Psychopaths can always draw some connection between an injustice they have perceived and some group of people.  And libertarians in general should not accept the fact that individuals who have been subjugated by a government are responsible for that government's actions.)

The American government perpetrates more terrorism than any other government or group in world history.  If you sympathize with the American government, I would say you are a terrorist sympathizer.  Just something to keep in mind.

dbooksta:
For those who say, "people who care and private enterprise will find a way," that's sort of the point of my question.  The solutions that people around the world have found work to detect and defuse mass murder plots involve "invading privacy" and curtailing the rights of individuals that have not actually committed a crime.  So fine, let's put ourselves in a libertarian utopia.  Can I form a corporation to protect my neighborhood against random acts of violence that evesdrops on people who have not consented to its work, or that detains people and takes property based on potential but unrealized threats?

It's getting a little annoying how you keep using libertarian utopia as though that is something any of us propose.  We're mostly big kids here.  No one is promising you happiness.  We're promising you an opportunity to be free, and to make the most of that.  If you're not interested in freedom, then libertarianism is not for you.  Period.  No one is so foolish as to think that anarchy would be a lack of violence, only that there would be no monopoly on violence, and hence no single point of failure (or attack) and hence, very little if any terrorism.

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Jayjay:
I too am going through the purging process - I have one question relating to this topic. If, for example, a country 'converts' and becomes a true market economy - what's to stop their neighbour, who is still operating under statism, invading? Presumably their military force would be superior as they would have far more resources dedicated to that industry.

Is this something that has to be implemented on a global level to have a chance of working?

Think about this for a minute, because it is pretty neat.

Imagine say, Italy.  Total anarchy.  Basically no political unit bigger than a suburb.

Now imagine Germany invades.  Who will they fight?  What will they try to capture?  How will they communicate their leadership to the Italians?  How will they know who is in Italy?

Simply, there is no state infrastructure to take over.

Then imagine that an anarchist or libertarian society is likely an armed one.  Then consider that libertarians are not peaceniks, we're actually going to have some kickass weapons, like Uncle Cletus' shoulder fired rocket launcher, and Aunt Bee's microwave cannon.  If we don't own them, we will probably contract a firm (could be an internal group of citizens) to purchase, maintain and be experts with such weapons.

Again, you have to go to the motives for invading.  Sure, you get ideological nutjubs like Bush or Hitler, but if you go deeper, there are usually economic reasons why these guys had the leeway and power they did.    What is the economic incentive to conquer peaceful people who would be very expensive to rule, and fight you every step of the way?

Btw, it only takes a couple nukes to keep the bad guys at bay.  In the nuclear age, no one messes with a nuclear power.  Not in a formal invasion type sense.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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dbooksta replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 9:18 AM

liberty student:

It's getting a little annoying how you keep using libertarian utopia as though that is something any of us propose.  We're mostly big kids here.  No one is promising you happiness.  We're promising you an opportunity to be free, and to make the most of that.  If you're not interested in freedom, then libertarianism is not for you.  Period.  No one is so foolish as to think that anarchy would be a lack of violence, only that there would be no monopoly on violence, and hence no single point of failure (or attack) and hence, very little if any terrorism.

Sorry, substitute "ideal libertarian conditions" when I say "libertarian utopia."

I agree that a libertarian state would likely reduce acts of terrorism.  (However it would also increase the facility for any individual to perpetuate random acts of mass murder.)

Back to my original question: Given the ease with which an individual or small group can commit random mass murder, and given that any population contains individuals disposed to such acts, I don't believe most people would accept the libertarian proposition if it provides no reasonable means for protecting them against such a risk.  So can people exercise any measures of prevention or deterrance against random mass murder without infringing the principles of libertarianism?

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Sphairon replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 9:32 AM

dbooksta:
Given the ease with which an individual or small group can commit random mass murder, and given that any population contains individuals disposed to such acts, I don't believe most people would accept the libertarian proposition if it provides no reasonable means for protecting them against such a risk.  So can people exercise any measures of prevention or deterrance against random mass murder without infringing the principles of libertarianism?


Please tell me: how exactly do you expect a violation of libertarian principles to "make you safe"?


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dbooksta replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 9:44 AM

Sphairon:

Please tell me: how exactly do you expect a violation of libertarian principles to "make you safe"?

Here's one way: Strict control of detonators.  The United States imposes criminal penalties on anyone who possesses detonators without explicit state permission to do so.  As a result many nutjobs who might whip up a truck bomb are unable to acquire one of the key ingredients.  But my right as an individual to build or buy detonators without state oversight is infringed.  My right to peacably possess detonators is also infringed.

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dbooksta:
So can people exercise any measures of prevention or deterrance against random mass murder without infringing the principles of libertarianism?

Own a gun. And pay for protection services.

dbooksta:
Given the ease with which an individual or small group can commit random mass murder, and given that any population contains individuals disposed to such acts, I don't believe most people would accept the libertarian proposition if it provides no reasonable means for protecting them against such a risk.

Libertarianism doesn't protect you.  Libertarianism empowers you to protect yourself.  No one can protect you, without stripping away your liberty.

That is the deal.  If you want to be free, you take on some risk.  Considering how ineffective state protection is anyway (corrupt, uncompetitive) I can't see how people could be any worse off.  As it is, the police spend more time and resources terrorizing citizens than they do criminals anyway.

 

 

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dbooksta:
Here's one way: Strict control of detonators.  The United States imposes criminal penalties on anyone who possesses detonators without explicit state permission to do so.  As a result many nutjobs who might whip up a truck bomb are unable to acquire one of the key ingredients.  But my right as an individual to build or buy detonators without state oversight is infringed.  My right to peacably possess detonators is also infringed.

The US also imposes strict controls on Marijuana.  How is that war on drugs working out?

Guy, you can get nuke specs on the internet.  A federal ban is meaningless.  The bad guys don't obey the law.

 

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Sphairon replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 10:06 AM

When detonators are outlawed, only outlaws will have detonators.

Seriously, it takes more than just a "nutjob" to plan and execute a terrorist attack with a car bomb. The great fallacy is to think that banning the possession of certain ingredients will cause them to disappear magically. That is not the case. They will simply become more expensive and of worse quality. Thus, maybe your bomb that was intended to destroy the US embassy instead destroys a kindergarten. Nothing gained here.


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Stolz25 replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 10:34 AM

dbooksta:
(However it would also increase the facility for any individual to perpetuate random acts of mass murder.)

No it wouldn't.  If I want to commit a random act of mass murder right now all i have to do is go someplace I know there aren't going to be any weapons around (like a school or college).  We live in a society where the lawless all have weapons and the law abiding citizens depend on the state to protect them.  In a free society most of those law abiding citizens would be armed and it would actually be much more dangerous to commit crimes.

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dbooksta replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 10:44 AM

The fact that some government has instituted an unjustifiable or ineffective ban (say on guns or marijuana) doesn't in itself mean that all bans are unjustified and ineffective.

Many plots to build bombs for nefarious purposes have been thwarted thanks to the extremely tight controls on acquiring and possessing detonators and refined nuclear material.  I would also suggest that the impact on individual liberty of these regulations has not been excessively negative.

So perhaps we can reduce the question to:

1. Either argue that unfettered access to refined nuclear material or to detonators will not increase the risk of random mass murder, or

2. Argue that the cost of maintaining coercive controls on these items exceeds the benefit, or else

3. Establish a clear and principled line on when coercive controls (which infringe liberty) are acceptable and when they are not.  E.g., detonators yes because XXX but small firearms no because YYY.

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dbooksta:
1. Either argue that unfettered access to refined nuclear material or to detonators will not increase the risk of random mass murder,or

I really don't see why, if it could've happened it already would've happened.

dbooksta:
2. Argue that the cost of maintaining coercive controls on these items exceeds the benefit, or else

Well this is just the classic argument on whether loosing freedom vs. security is worth it. And I personally believe that those who do not believe that full freedom is worth it will just enter in concentual union with others that believe the same and set up a more "secure" community.

dbooksta:
3. Establish a clear and principled line on when coercive controls (which infringe liberty) are acceptable and when they are not.  E.g., detonators yes because XXX but small firearms no because YYY.

I don't really see the point in establishing arbitrary boundaries, they'll obviously hold under XXXYYY but not under WWW or ZZZ, a small change in reasoning will render them useless. The crazy lunatic guy will get his hands on a detonator some way or another. I really don't think people will go around selling detonators to self-described maniacs, but the "terrorist" will be able to get his supplies. If you withdraw the political/religious pretext for these attacks, you'll be left mostly with the crazies, and although they're crazy, they're often easy to deal with.

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Stolz25 replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 11:14 AM

dbooksta:

The fact that some government has instituted an unjustifiable or ineffective ban (say on guns or marijuana) doesn't in itself mean that all bans are unjustified and ineffective.

You're right, but other theory does.  In a market (black or otherwise) what happens when you attempt to limit supply......?  Price goes up and people are more willing to take the risks to get that product because the payoff is higher.  Bans are losing battles for whoever is trying to enforce them.

dbooksta:
2. Argue that the cost of maintaining coercive controls on these items exceeds the benefit, or else

I just did.

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dbooksta:
The fact that some government has instituted an unjustifiable or ineffective ban (say on guns or marijuana) doesn't in itself mean that all bans are unjustified and ineffective.

Do you really believe this stuff?

dbooksta:
Many plots to build bombs for nefarious purposes have been thwarted thanks to the extremely tight controls on acquiring and possessing detonators and refined nuclear material.

Name 3.

dbooksta:
I would also suggest that the impact on individual liberty of these regulations has not been excessively negative.

That's your own evaluation, and the only person you are qualified to assess the impact of that, is on yourself.  Not anyone else.

dbooksta:
So perhaps we can reduce the question to:

1. Either argue that unfettered access to refined nuclear material or to detonators will not increase the risk of random mass murder, or

2. Argue that the cost of maintaining coercive controls on these items exceeds the benefit, or else

3. Establish a clear and principled line on when coercive controls (which infringe liberty) are acceptable and when they are not.  E.g., detonators yes because XXX but small firearms no because YYY.

Why can't we just make an argument for liberty?  Period.  Why does it have to be consequentialist?  Why does it have to be utilitarian?  Why can't there be a moral and ethical argument?

I mean seriously, you are arguing for coercion.  Which is a sin.  Which is a crime.  If it is wrong for me to coerce, why is it right for a government to do so?  What superior moral authority to do evil belongs to people when they work in a group?  Is a single killer a murderer and a gang of killers a government?

Maybe you're not quite ready yet for liberty.  You seem to think it is ok to hurt other people and steal from them, as long as it is for a purpose for which you approve.  That's statism, not libertarianism.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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dbooksta replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 11:43 AM

Stolz25:

In a market (black or otherwise) what happens when you attempt to limit supply......?  Price goes up and people are more willing to take the risks to get that product because the payoff is higher.  Bans are losing battles for whoever is trying to enforce them.

In principle and in general I would tend to agree, but in this case I believe the real world refutes your theory: The U.S. government has been winning the battle to restrict and control both detonaters domestically and refined nuclear material internationally.

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dbooksta replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 11:47 AM

liberty student:

Maybe you're not quite ready yet for liberty.  You seem to think it is ok to hurt other people and steal from them, as long as it is for a purpose for which you approve.  That's statism, not libertarianism.

I guess I'm not ready -- I didn't realize liberty is a religion.

I apologize for trying to consider libertarian principles in the context of a world in which people weigh the consequences of policies before agreeing to them.

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dbooksta:
I guess I'm not ready -- I didn't realize liberty is a religion.

It's not a religion.  It simply isn't compatible with coercion.

dbooksta:

I apologize for trying to consider libertarian principles in the context of a world in which people weigh the consequences of policies before agreeing to them.

The primary libertarian principle, is non-aggression.  You can try to frame it, and place it in whatever context you want, but if you are talking about coercion or aggression, you are not talking about liberty.  Regardless of whatever consequentialist, nationalist, or utilitarian arguments you make.

 

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Nitroadict replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 11:58 AM

dbooksta:

liberty student:

Maybe you're not quite ready yet for liberty.  You seem to think it is ok to hurt other people and steal from them, as long as it is for a purpose for which you approve.  That's statism, not libertarianism.

I guess I'm not ready -- I didn't realize liberty is a religion.

I apologize for trying to consider libertarian principles in the context of a world in which people weigh the consequences of policies before agreeing to them.


The defensive strawman is not needed; we were all new to questioning statism at some point, & we all eventually evolve as our respective knowledge bases increases.  Questioning Statism, & the basis of it's power, coercion, is a learning process, not an initiation ceremony.   

Coercion for your own convenience most certainly threatens the concept of liberty.  You have to look into this & determine whether or not you agree with it yourself, however.  Yes    

"Look at me, I'm quoting another user to show how wrong I think they are, out of arrogance of my own position. Wait, this is my own quote, oh shi-" ~ Nitroadict

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Stranger replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 12:03 PM

dbooksta:

liberty student:

Maybe you're not quite ready yet for liberty.  You seem to think it is ok to hurt other people and steal from them, as long as it is for a purpose for which you approve.  That's statism, not libertarianism.

I guess I'm not ready -- I didn't realize liberty is a religion.

I apologize for trying to consider libertarian principles in the context of a world in which people weigh the consequences of policies before agreeing to them.

Here's the question you must answer: are you prepared to go to war to ban a product that you fear would be used to make war on you?

To most of us that is nonsensical. We are not willing to fight people to take away their means to fight.

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dbooksta replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 12:31 PM

I can appreciate all of the appeals to principle, but many of the recent posts have stopped at principle to avoid answering a difficult question.  "Aggression/coercion is never justified" is a cop-out, like saying "Killing is always wrong" or "Violence is never the answer."  You're not going to convince anybody but co-religionists if you can't reason that your principles work in practice.

Stranger:

Here's the question you must answer: are you prepared to go to war to ban a product that you fear would be used to make war on you?

To most of us that is nonsensical. We are not willing to fight people to take away their means to fight.

Yes, that formulation does sound nonsensical.  But the items in question here are a little more nuanced.  True, detonators are required components of legitimate weapons.  But they also enable a single person to commit a mindless act of violence completely out of proportion to the means of his victims to anticipate or thwart the threat, or to retaliate or seek redress for it.

It may not be intentional, but I actually think the way the U.S. regulates detonators has a certain principled elegance to it: Private entities can acquire them, but only if they demonstrate that they have the means to safely handle and account for their use.

Similarly, refined nuclear materials pose a potential threat orders of magnitude higher than that of conventional explosives.  Hence, most people stand behind the effort of global authorities to ensure that nothing short of a state actor that can be held accountable for those materials gets access.

So my request stands: Offer a coherent argument, based on libertarian principles if you wish, that the cost of criminalizing the possession of these items exceeds the benefit.  I.e., imagine I am a completely rational person who has been told that I stand less of a chance of being randomly killed if I sign on to an entity -- call it government -- that aims to imprison any individual who acquires detonators without its sanction.

Or, if you agree that the benefit of control exceeds the cost, then offer a reasoned and principled theory as to when an item can be banned by a coercive entity.

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Stranger replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 12:34 PM

You did not answer the question. Are you ready to go to war in order to avoid going to war?

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dbooksta replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 12:47 PM

Stranger:

You did not answer the question. Are you ready to go to war in order to avoid going to war?

If I may rephrase it as a non-self-refuting question that applies to this discussion: Yes, I am willing to initiate aggression against a person in order to thwart his attempts to acquire the means to asymmetrically threaten me and my neighbors.

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Natalie replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 1:09 PM

dbooksta:
The fact that some government has instituted an unjustifiable or ineffective ban (say on guns or marijuana) doesn't in itself mean that all bans are unjustified and ineffective.

Even if the government can be relatively efficient in certain situation does it mean that the free market wouldn't be more efficient while at the same time free of various negative consequences such as the loss of freedom? Think about all the laws that actually prevent you from defending against criminals and terrorist. How many governments allow people to have guns to defend themselves? If the airline pilots were armed perhpaps September 11 wouldn't have happened. In fact, I'm pretty sure that hijacking is would be much harder to pull of in a free society because people would be more used to active defense instead of waiting for the police to help them.

Let's say that instead of one monoplist government who forces everyone to pay taxes to finance it you have a bunch of competing private defense agencies. They have to be profitable to survive and they have to find ways to serve their customers better than their competitors. Don't you think they'll try very hard to track violent individuals and transactions involving dangerous materials?

If I hear not allowed much oftener; said Sam, I'm going to get angry.

J.R.R.Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

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Natalie replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 1:13 PM

dbooksta:
If I may rephrase it as a non-self-refuting question that applies to this discussion: Yes, I am willing to initiate aggression against a person in order to thwart his attempts to acquire the means to asymmetrically threaten me and my neighbors.

You do realize that there's a difference between you as an individual (or even a private organization) taking preventive measures to protect yourself and a war started by a government  monopoly that can only exist by forcing you to pay for it?

If I hear not allowed much oftener; said Sam, I'm going to get angry.

J.R.R.Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

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Stranger replied on Thu, Dec 18 2008 1:30 PM

dbooksta:

Stranger:

You did not answer the question. Are you ready to go to war in order to avoid going to war?

If I may rephrase it as a non-self-refuting question that applies to this discussion: Yes, I am willing to initiate aggression against a person in order to thwart his attempts to acquire the means to asymmetrically threaten me and my neighbors.

We are not, and so I must sadly inform you that we will be on the side of the defense in this fight, and you will have to kill us to get your way.

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