Re: The IFG - Still don't think.....

From: Neal Blaikie (
Date: Fri Feb 09 2001 - 16:54:06 MST

Michael Lorrey wrote:

> Name one corporation that did not have police powers granted it by a
> government that has ever committed genocide. You can't. Coercion,
> bribery, and murder occur when a corporation is sufficiently cozy with
> government to expect no significant investigation.

I never claimed that any corporation committed genocide (or any other crime) without
government-granted power. I think we're saying the same thing here, but in different ways. My point
was exactly that corporations have and do commit atrocities to further their own ends, but only when
they have co-opted the local government. How would it follow then that this makes the government the
culprit but not the corporation? It's collusion between the two groups, and they're both
responsible. My basic stance is that coercion, oppression and exploitation of people against their
will is wrong (or at least undesirable) no matter who is doing it. Certainly you can't disagree with
that? And laying all the blame on governments is no more useful for solving the problem than laying
all the blame on corporations. I'm trying to look at all the factors involved from as clear a
perspective as I can muster, rather than trying to make things adhere to any one ideology. Solutions
are more important to me than blaming and name-calling.

> But you do need a government to force private citizens to sit there and
> take it without any force in kind.

You can call it government, the anarchists can call it corporations; it really doesn't matter as
long as it is happening. But by limiting ourselves to only one interpretation, we could be missing
something important. Again, let's look for solutions.

> Each individual would be capable of defending themselves against
> corporate gangs.

This is unrealistic. Do you have your own private army?

> Corporate abuses occur because they have the power of government to
> support them. Remove the sovereign monopoly of government and corporate
> use of force withers away.

Are you saying that individuals and groups of people will always behave themselves (i.e., treat
other people's rights wth respect) as long as no one is telling them it's wrong to do so? Well,
maybe you would act that way and I would act that way, but can you really guarantee that everyone
will? This seems unrealistic and contradictory to your own philosophy (at least what I've seen
presented in this forum). Given an ideal state in which everyone shared the same basic values and
respect for one another, I suppose this is possible. But I believe you yourself said that an ideal
state is unstable. This seems contradictory.

> Yet you speak of genocide. Wife burning on the scale that occured in
> India prior to British conquest was on the same scale as many genocides
> that have occured in history. It belittles women's rights to say that
> this practice is not genocidal-equivalent and that it should be
> protected as some sort of 'cultural tradition' that is worthy of
> respect. Its pathetic relativist crap like that that is truly hogwash.

I would never condone wife burning in any culture, nor am I a cultural relativist when it comes to
such behaviors. I'm pretty sure I didn't make any such claims. As I tried to say, conquering a
country that indulges in this kind of behavior by committing equaly atrocious acts against them is
not really something to be proud of. And if you think this can be used as a justification for the
British conquest of India, you're simply wrong. There is no historical evidence that they conquered
India in order to keep women from being burned by their husbands. Rather, India was conquered to
further their own selfish ends, which makes them no better than any of the other oppressive groups
(like the communists) you've decried. This is the problem I have with imperialism, and it astonishes
me that you, a self-proclaimed libertarian, could defend it.

> There are, in fact, as many Native Americans in north america today as
> there were before the conquistadors. Native Americans today live an
> average of twice as long as their forebears, with a far higher standard
> of living.

So, because some of the descendents of the conquered people have a higher standard of living (again,
your definition), this justifies centuries of genocide? Why would you defend this? Isn't the
forcible removal of any individual's liberty antithetical to the libertarian position? And how many
Native Americans have you interviewed? There is a strong body of anthropological and anecdotal
evidence that suggests life has been pretty bad for most Native Americans since the white man came
(if this has changed for the better, it's been very recently). Why deny this? You're not personally
responsible, yet you seem to cling to out-moded rationalizations like your life depended on it. Why
is it so hard to admit what was done, even condemn it, and then use this knowledge to help us move
forward so we can all have better, longer, happier lives? This seems reasonable to me. But, hey, I'm
an optimist.

> Whether they become serfs or not is irrelevant. Were they abused by the
> imperialists more than they were under their local rulers? Look at Hong
> Kong, Singapore, and many other asian nations that were formerly
> colonies. The local rulers claim that political repression is a
> 'cultural tradition' when westerners protest against it. Bollocks.

How is any form of serfdom irrelevant? To claim that's it was okay for one group to conquer another
because they're not quite as bad is ludicrous. Aren't all forms of oppression wrong? We see to be
agreeing here, but I feel like you're clinging to something.

> I don't have a dark view of humanity, or of evolution. It seems you have
> a dark view of what I see as a natural system. Like a communalist, you
> assume that the natural system is dark, harsh, evil and bad in a very
> Calvinist/Puritan sense.

Why do you feel the need to label me a communalist when I have never once claimed to be one? This is
not only counter-productive, it is insulting. And to compare me to a Calvinist/Puritan is laughable.
I'm about as far from that position as Pluto is from the sun. If I said something that honestly
indicates this to you, please point it out to me and I will be happy to clarify it.

> Human nature doesn't need to be changed, it needs to be informed. It
> doesn't need to be chained, it needs to be unleashed and empowered.
> People are at their best when left to their own devices. It is only when
> you confiscate liberty and concentrate power that you get abuses and
> corruption arises.

I would never disagree with you on this, and am curious as to why you felt compelled to respond with
it. Do you think I said something to indicate otherwise? Very curious.

I'm beginning to suspect that we could go around and around with this for some time. I also think
that we are often arguing for the same things, but are simply coming at it from disparate points of
view. This is good. It's what makes us individuals, and what keeps healthy discourse interesting.

fun as always,

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:38 MDT