Sunday, October 05, 2008

Post 1500

Well it has been three years since I started blogging, meaning I have blogged, on average, more than one post a day. My main inclination was to have an outlet for my endless rants on global, NZ and UK politics, and it has grown a little bigger than that. It is intended to reflect my own profound beliefs in personal freedom, the role of the state and belief in reason and that the highest value is life, and the pursuit of the enjoyment of it - within the bounds of reason and respecting the same right in others.

You see my views on both the NZ and US elections are influenced by that set of beliefs. It starts, you see, with values. My highest value is life - the protection of life, and the enhancemet of it. I don't believe my life exists for anyone else, nor should anyone else's. Your life is yours, and you should enjoy it, as much as you can, as long as you do not interfere with the right of others to do the same.

You see this is where rights come in. Your right to life is fundamental, and in order to realise that life your body is owned by you - it carries life and is your greatest instrument, because it contains your brain. So you must control what your body does, what you ingest and your interactions with other bodies Quid pro quo that others have no right to your body.

So your right to life means your right to control your body, and those rights end with other people's bodies.

Of course you can't survive with body alone, for human beings to survive they need to apply their brains to the environment, and collect, farm, hunt or otherwise produce. So you need to have the right to what you produce - that is called property rights. So you have a right to not have your property stolen or vandalised.

So the right to life means your right to control your body and your property.

Now to maximise your life you almost certainly need to interact with others, but the only person who best knows your interest is you. So all of your interaction should be voluntary. Surely you should own what you produce, and trade on terms and conditions that are mutually agreed.

Reason is the means by which human beings must survive. You can't escape it. Faith wont work. Reason is why human beings know how to hunt, how to farm, how to trade, transport, how to combat disease, prevent disease - how to live longer, how to have enough time for leisure.

The antithesis of reason is force. Force is the tool of the murderer, rapist, thief and government. It is the tool of the censor, the warmongerer, the bureaucrat. Force denies debate, discussion or agreement.

So it is important for people to be protected from force. That is the right to self defence. However, when people commit crimes of initiating force or fraud, it often isn't clear who the perpetrator was, and that person needs to be caught, and tried. That is what government is for- to protect citizens from each other. It arbitrates disputes on contracts, it provides the objective legal framework that clearly delineates rights of property, contracts and relationships.

Anything beyond that by government is the initiation of force. It isn't human beings interacting voluntarily. Democracy isn't that either, it is the counting of votes for who you want to govern - it doesn't give a right to take away the rights of others to not have force initiated against them.

This is why I am a libertarian and an objectivist. I believe all adult human interaction should be voluntary - it doesn't mean I agree with it all, or like it, but it does mean that, fundamentally, what consenting adults do personally, contractually or in trade is not my business.

That's why I despise the cheerful statism of the Greens and the Labour Party, both loving how government can "do" things, meaning use force to make people pay for what they otherwise wouldn't choose to pay for, or to make people do things or ban them from doing things that, fundamentally, are not about initiating force or fraud. National ought to be opposed to this, but it is not much different, ACT is somewhat - but it isn't consistently committed to individual freedom.

So I'll be blogging from THAT perspective - the one that says freedom matters, whether it makes you uncomfortable, or whether it reveals failures in our current set of property rights (public nudity being one), or whether it means you have to convince people to care for others. It's a different way of thinking - the idea that you can't just force change on people - but you need to convince them - and that you can't force people to pay for things, you have to convince people.

Next time you get a chance to ask a politician about a policy ask him or her, why do you have to make people do this? Why can't you convince them, and if you can't, why is it moral to use force?


PC said...

Post 1500: Congratulations. :-)

ZenTiger said...

Nice post.

Freedom as you describe it is important, but we also see where limitations on freedom also work for the benefits of society.

The parents need some form of compulsion to help raise their children. Where that compulsion is exercised in an environment of love and understanding, it is beneficial and essential.

Sadly, only some children become adults in the sense of reason and rationality.

And if everything is to become someones property in your world, the issue is who acquires it and why? How exclusive can the world's limited resources truly be?

And with Freedom comes responsibility. How responsible is it to kill another because your contraception failed? What about a month after birth, because according to some, such beings haven't been able to apply reason, or even understand their individuality? Is the line 4 weeks before, on, or 4 weeks after birth?

And societies are the results of a complex set of standards that reflect moral and ethical patterns of thought that have contributed to the functioning of society, and wiping these out can have deeper ramifications - sometimes freedom exists because of some of the restrictions we work within.

In any event, I look forward to the next 1500 posts.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate having your well thought out posts to read. Having ready access to a different perspective through blogs such as yours is great. Thank you for taking the time out to post. Although I seldom comment, I am sure there are many like me who look forward to reading your posts.

Sus said...

Bravo, Scott! Beautifully put.

Zen: Once again, you attempt to divide freedom up somehow. To create a series of sub-clauses. Freedom is a moral absolute. It *cannot* be divided.

You either have freedom or you don't. You can't be partly dead. Neither can you be partly free.

It's one or the other.

And to briefly address your questions as I see it:

1. Children are not adults. Adults will raise their children as they see fit, bound only by laws to rightly outlaw menace.

2. Property: where's the problem with private ownership? Isn't it always more desirable/successful than public ownership? Technology allows us to do things formerly never dreamed of. I have faith in the power of humans to resolve problems that constantly arise.

3. Abortion: Oh dear. The individual mother herself must have rights over the child she carries. Not the state, nor any church. The day that men carry children is the day that changes. Not happy? Choose your partner very carefully, then. It works well for most. It's called, dare I say it, acting responsibly.

I wonder at people who would interfere with freedom, or try to temper or prune it, as if it was something to be afeared.

Much like the markets, it's best left alone. Problems occur as a result of its being tampered with.


ZenTiger said...

Hi Sus.

1. Don't look at it as dividing freedom up, look at it as an understanding that freedom isn't the solution to every situation - although I don't disagree that it is an important perspective to work from.

For example, it seems like you agree you can't raise children simply by giving them freedom.

2. Regarding property rights - there is a distinction to make between rights and ownership. I'll try to cover this in a proper post to debate this in full.

3. Abortion. Oh Dear. The mother must have rights, because that is the best answer in an imperfect solution. It's not a solution we need to be happy with, as it still means killing an individual. Not happy? As a society we need to educate women to the awesome responsibility they have, and that starts with them making decisions, and dare I say it, acting responsibly. That though, is always debatable, so we debate.

You accept freedom isn't the answer to raising children, and you have a nice cute reason. So all I have said is freedom isn't appropriate for every solution. There may be others we get to debate the limits on.

Or put it another way, freedom is desired in every situation, but we need to fully understand the consequences and be prepared to modify our behaviour based on that.

The Objectivists and Libertarians limit freedom by agreeing to support property rights, do they not?

I'm not actually far off from this position myself, my toolkit is just a bit broader than property rights.

Eric Olthwaite said...

Top effort Scott, look forward to the next 1500.