Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shattered Glass

I felt hung over on Monday because I was foolish enough to watch the news all Sunday, holding out hope that the Health Care Deform would be voted down. It's about like watching a train wreck about to happen, holding out hope that the school bus will somehow go 0-80 in 5 seconds to clear the tracks. Or, like watching election returns in 2008, just in case the tracking polls were way off. I at least saved myself some stress by changing the channels whenever a Democrat started spewing ridiculous horse shit. When Pelosi got up, I had to switch over to a Kung Fu movie for awhile, just to clear my brain of that ghoul's smiling visage and grating voice.

Over a decade ago, when I read others predicting impending tyrannies like this, I paid attention, though the vast majority dismissed them in Cassandra-like fashion. I took occasional opportunities here and elsewhere to echo such sentiments.

A few people recognize (for different reasons) that it is useless to hold out hope for a GOP majority in November 2010 and 2012 as a means to reverse this atrocity. For all the clamoring of Tea Partiers, media pundits, and innumerable bloggers, you can't vote your way to freedom. By the nature of democracy, that strategy is ultimately doomed to failure, but if ever there was a chance to put off this disaster for a generation or two, it's long since passed.

Many pragmatists recoil in horror at my decision not to vote. I read babbling about coming up with a better system, the ever-inane "love it or leave it", and, of course, charges that I don't really believe in the principles I espouse because I'm not shooting it out over every violation of my rights.

While I reserve the right to protect my rights and the rights of my family (and perhaps those of my neighbors), I see no value in getting myself or others destroyed for no real gain. Frankly, I would prefer civil disobedience on a massive scale to any sort of violence. As history shows, most civil wars or rebellions come at a heavy cost to innocents, and are almost always exploited by the less principled. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Starving the beast is the best option--if you can avoid its fangs.

At Sipsey Street Irregulars, Mike Vanderboegh is calling for a "Window War" in response to the audacious power grab by the Democrats. It's certainly more provocative than the mostly weak Tea Party demonstrations, though I've yet to see it gathering momentum. Without that momentum, it's a dud, which puts Mike and others in danger of losing their freedom (or worse), for what I consider to be insufficient gain. I recognize that it's their choices to make and I don't expect them to take council from someone like me, who prefers non-violent civil disobedience (whether en masse or on an individual, under-the-radar level).

In response to a post at "Walls of the City", Vanderboegh and a fellow irregular take exception to this so-called pragmatist, whose article contains the very opposite of pragmatism. A response from me:

I didn't see the word "sacred" in his remarks. That seems to be your word, not his. I would use a more common phrase: property rights are inalienable, like the rights to life and liberty.

But inalienable doesn't mean "in all circumstances" nor do I glean from his words that he makes such an argument. Again, those appear to be your words alone.

In addition, I don't see the objectivist argument as "pragmat[ic]" at all. It's the opposite: taking principles to their logical conclusion, instead of abandoning them when convenient (the hallmark of the pragmatist). Don't misconstrue what I just said. I'm not accusing you or brick throwers of abandoning principles, per se. I'd need more information to make such a judgment. The same applies to the objectivist author who, from what I'm seeing, has made some assumptions about intent.

Furthermore, unless the objectivist author has elsewhere expressed a desire "to shoot people for resisting in a way with which he disagrees," it's dishonest to put those words in his mouth.

I want to address some particulars, like the difference between "inalienable" and "in all circumstances."

If some crack head breaks into my house, he is violating my rights, thus his rights are superseded. That's one "circumstance" in which that man's rights don't apply--as a direct consequence of his choice.

It's all about context.

As for violence against property and violence against a person, I think he is correct that it is wrong to draw a moral distinction between the two. Suppose some arsonist burns down the house of an old lady. Take insurance and charity away. The consequence of violence on mere property is that she will die of starvation or exposure. That is effectively violence against her.

If you assert your moral right to do violence against the property of others, you thus assert the right to do violence against their person. For one obvious reason, the property owner may use deadly force against you if he sees you on his property with a brick. By your choice to do violence against his property, you have opened the door to the possibility that you will need to do violence to his person as a consequence of your choice.

Thus I would argue that you don't have cause to do harm to someone's property unless you have cause to do harm to him. That you draw a distinction between the two and decide that you'll do one and not the other, is a tactical decision, a personal value judgment. In effect, you decide to risk your life or liberty to inflict property damage, because you calculate that escalating would do harm to the message you want to send.

In other words, if you assert the right to do harm to the people who have done harm to you and your neighbors (via intolerable acts), but choose to limit your response to property as a tactic and a personal value judgment, you have not abandoned the principle of private property, assuming that your assertion is well-founded. If you consider what the Dems have done to be an initiation of force (by threat and by proxy), then your window breaking would be a reaction, not the initiation of force.

My ancestors fought in the American Revolution, with far less provocation. Personally, I think the Rubicon was crossed long ago and that only the strength of American individualism has proverbially kept Caesar's army from taking Rome until recent years.

Here is my take on the time of death.

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