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

From: Michael Lorrey (
Date: Sat Feb 10 2001 - 12:22:32 MST

Neal Blaikie wrote:
> 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.

No name calling intended. I am looking at the flows of power, where is
the nexus? In government, not in corporations. Government is a lever,
its laws, constitution, and legal precedents being a fulcrum. How big
that fulcrum is, and where it is placed, determines who controls power.
Limiting liberty of the individual gives great mechanical advantage
against the individual to any that seek to profit from doing so.

> > 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.

I am in full agreement with concepts of limiting the power of
corporations. Where do they get that power? From governments. The
solution is in limiting the ability of governments to grant power to
anyone but individuals in excess of the power posessed by an individual.

> > Each individual would be capable of defending themselves against
> > corporate gangs.
> This is unrealistic. Do you have your own private army?

Not necessary, as anyone with military experience can tell you,
especially those who have studied unconventional warfare. Gangs are not
interested in dying, they are interested in getting paid, making a
profit on their risk. You need not kill all of them in order to deter
their agression. Making the risk exceed the benefits is all that is
needed. In an attack/defense situation, the defender always has the
advantage in the order of 10 to 1 up to as much as 100 to 1 or more.

> > 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.

No, in a situation where any individual has the ability to mete out
force against agressors that is not limited by police forces or laws
about legitimate levels of force, then people and groups will act far
more civilly than when individual liberty is restrained by government
police forces, leaving them open to victimization by larger groups. Do
you think that corporations would not behave in a world where there were
no anti-terrorist laws, no anti-union laws, no anti-protest laws? Police
forces, the data proves, serve mostly to protect criminals from the
righteous anger of their victims, not to protect innocent people from
criminals. Likewise, government's job in reality (not ideally) is to
limit the individual's ability to resist domination by larger groups or
individuals, to force people to grin and bear it when they are getting
screwed. Remove government's ability to do so, and corporations will be
unable to victimize and abuse without just retribution.

> > 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.

The question with India is to ask if it is in better condition than if
the British had never dipped their hands in, no matter how selfishly.
All of the problems that India has, in my view, tend to be problems
caused by cultural practices remaining that predate the British era.
Left uninfluenced, India in my view would have currently become a rather
nasty combination of Balkan politics and African chaos and brutality.

As a Scot whose family was brutally persecuted and forcibly removed from
the Gordon lands after Culloden, shipped to Nova Scotia and left
abandoned, I would never claim that the British colonial mentality was
in any way considerate of individual rights or cultural heritage.
However, I think its rather indicative that survive assimilation in
British colonized nations tend to be far more civil and humane
individuals than groups left to their own devices.

> > 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.

Most all of native american deaths occured during the Conquest period
when conquistadors were not only completely unaware of the cause of
diseases that killed off millions of natives in virgin field epidemics,
they were typically hundreds if not thousands of miles away from most of
the deaths when they happened. Calling this genocide is like accusing
some ancient Babylonian of genocide for playing with rats.

> > 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.

Clining to the idea of being humane versus inhumane. Its not all black
and white. Do you claim that Jefferson was an abominable criminal for
owning slaves?

> > 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.

You seem to cling to this idea, like many on the left, that government
is good and private individuals are prone to do evil things if left to
their own devices, so government of some sort is needed to save them
from their own corruption. This is crap.

> > 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.

I hope I am wrong in my impression of you, but it seems ludicrous to me
that someone could claim that a group like a corporation, which has no
inherent rights in and of itself, is more prone to commit evil acts than
some group like a government, which is duly delegated power by all
individuals in society, which is the body that empowers corporations to
do the things they do. Anyone who feels thus can only logically do so if
they posess some innate distrust of the individual as an evil creature
in need of restraint.

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