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

From: Michael Lorrey (
Date: Tue Feb 13 2001 - 13:37:11 MST

Neal Blaikie wrote:
> Michael Lorrey wrote:
> > 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.
> Thanks for clarifying your position on that. I am in full agreement with
> you. However, I am concerned
> with this: how do we accomplish limiting the ability of one gang of
> thugs ("the government" in this case)
> without leaving things so wide open that another gang of thugs (perhaps
> a "corporation," perhaps the
> "greens" or "anarchists") can just move in and take over? It is at this
> nexus of change that I see the
> most potential danger, which is why I am cautious about pronouncing any
> one action a solution.

Since you admit that government, in reality, is merely a gang that uses
words to 'legitimize' itself. What you are saying is that you think that
in the absence of government, one or more groups will always vie to
'king' itself, as if government is a default mode of human existence,
especially monopoly government. Why is it so difficult for people to
grasp the concept of a competetive government services market? Most all
functions of government today were once performed on a competetive basis
(they became sociallized not necessarily due to classical natural
monopoly theory, for example, governments will tend to try to control or
regulate channels of communication and commerce not because trade and
communication are better conducted by a monopoly, but because
controlling those markets helps serve governments monopoly on the market
of force). Fire fighting, for example, is generally considered a
government function today, yet was conducted as a business for the vast
majority of human history. The Roman Consul, Crassus, rose up from plebe
caste status because he expanded the fire fighting company he used in
his construction business to provide fire fighting services to the
people of Rome. He would negotiate fees at the scene of the fire, and
subsequently became the largest landowner in Rome. Benjamin Franklin
founded a fire company in Philly, as another example, and even today in
rural areas, many communities rely on volunteer fire groups that pay for
their equipment by billing those who have fires or need rescue services.

> > Remove government's ability to do so, and corporations will be
> > unable to victimize and abuse without just retribution.
> This seems naive to me, but I honestly hope you are right.

Its rather easy to understand: government currently limits the ability
of the individual to use force, while it places far fewer on
corporations. Corporations, for example, need no background check to be
done to buy machine guns.

> > 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.
> How can either one of us decide this? Isn't this really only something
> that each individual Indian can answer for him or herself?

Yes, in so far as India's society doesn't impact the rest of the world.

> > 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.
> Again, how can we really say? The deed (colonization) is already done,
> and the complex system we are left with is too slippery to get a
> handle on. Perhaps you're right about what would have happened to
> India if left uninfluenced, but since that cannot now happen, there's
> really no way to know. Maybe the individuals
> of that country could have solved their own problems. With the added
> burden of colonization to overcome,
> it's not surprising at all that many of the old problems still remain.

Why do you assume that colonization is a burden? The British provided a
significant level of industrialization, infrastructure development, and
political and legal training that didn't exist whatsoever prior to their
arrival. They ended slavery, wife burning, religious genocides, and
increased the agricultural yeild of the nation such that it no longer
suffers famines every 11 years.

> > 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.
> Are you actually saying that people in colonized nations would be less
> civil and humane if they had been left to their own devices?
> That for some reason they aren't as "well behaved" as we are?
> I don't want to believe it, but sometimes it really seems like you
> are suggesting that some people (yourself, for example) can and
> should be left to their own devices but that other
> groups of people (pre-colonial
> Indians, for example) should be colonized. Again, it sounds to me like
> you are defending imperialism,
> which is a form of oppression and removes individuals' liberty. This
> seems to contradict your libertarian position.

I think that everyone can and should be as free as possible. Many, IMHO,
would dutifully choose to reaccept their chains and socio-cultural
baggage rather than accept the responsibilities of individual liberty.
Most immigrants who come to the US these days couldn't give a fig about
the concept of individual liberty. They come to get a job or get on the
dole. They mouth the words of their oaths of citizenship then
immediately go about promoting ideas that directly contravene the
Constitution they have just sworn to protect and defend from all

It is true that libertarian concepts of individual liberty are primarily
western european in nature. What is naive is, for example, to presume
that a country like, say, Russia, would just automatically pick up
western ideas of individual liberty and sovereignty, free markets, etc.
and not just twist them into a shape that allows traditional cultural
practices to continue under new names and faces.

> > 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.
> Since I never mentioned the Native American deaths that were due to
> epidemics, it seems odd you would
> bring this up. Of course this isn't genocide, just a sad side-effect of
> an already bad situation. I am
> referring to the deaths that can be attributed to the direct actions of
> the conquerors, and I would use
> the term genocide for quite a number of specific incidents.

Total the numbers and compare. Aztec society, and most Carribean
societies, regularly practiced slavery, human sacrifice, body
mutilation, and cannibalism. The level of accepted violence in the
conquered societies as a matter of every day ritual was at least as
severe as that practiced by eurpeans on them as a matter of systematized
Most revisionists tend to try to count epidemic deaths in their blame
games when accusing europeans of 'genocide'. The fact is that one
quarter to 90 percent of local populations perished when exposed to
western diseases over a period of a few decades, long before anyone had
any idea of how disease was transmitted.
What conflict actually occured is more properly described as low level
warfare, with one side almost constantly losing (indeed, the first
British colonies in NA were under attack almost from the start).

> > Clinging 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?
> Well, I'm with you on the humane over inhumane idea. I'm glad to hear
> this. And I would never claim it's
> all black and white. Quite the contrary, which can be evidenced by
> looking at my other posts. Looking at
> things only in black and white terms is one of the things I am objecting
> to here. Again, I think we are
> in agreement, but that you won't let go of your defense of imperialism.

While you don't seem to be able to let go of the idea that in every
situation, leaving despotic and evil cultural practices in place
unmolested is better than educating and improving through nation
building efforts. Thats a rather black and white position you hold.

> If you believe that denying
> individuals their liberty is wrong, why can't you say that imperialism
> was wrong for doing this despite
> the fact that centuries later we can point to some positive things that
> grew out of it?

Imperialism wasn't about denying individuals their liberty, it was about
transforming non-western societies so that they could appreciate the
concept of individual liberty more. Sometimes that involved conflict and
violence dealing with adherents of the old order who wanted to retain
their 'right' to continue to oppress their people. If you insist that
they have the right to oppress and be oppressed, then you must also
accept the idea that some cultures cannot become libertarian or
democratic, and that some people cannot appreciate individual liberty.

> As for Jefferson,
> well, no, I wouldn't call him an "abominable criminal." That's too
> simplistic. I prefer to honor him for
> the good things he did, while at the same time recognizing that slavery
> was wrong, he participated in it,
> and is therefore responsible for his actions. He denied other human
> beings their liberty by owning them,
> was intelligent and educated enough to know it was wrong to do so, and
> yet did it anyway. This doesn't
> make him an abominable criminal, especially when taking into account the
> larger culture in which this took place; it just makes him wrong.

Ah, 'taking into account the larger culture in which this took place'.
Damning the past from our own perceptions is a game that applies to all.
We could condemn the US for the idea of MAD, yet those doing the
condemning can think of no possible alternative that deals with
totalitarian socialists bent on world domination as well, just as,
ironically, they view concepts of Mutual Assured Survival as if defense
is not more moral than offense and that MAD (which the claim to despise)
is a better idea.

I find it funny that leftists who claim to hate imperialism seem to
worship the idea of ancient Athens and its democracy, despite the fact
that Athens was an imperialist nation that dominated the Greek world
with its Navy, while the Sparta that leftists decry as militaristic, etc
was purposely structured to help avoid imperialism despite their
superiority in military arts.

> > > Why do you feel the need to label me a communalist when I have never once claimed to be one?

Communists have always claimed to not be communists until they took
power. I judge by what you say and do, not by what you claim about
yourself. If you espouse concepts that are communistic, socialistic,
etc. then you label yourself. Revisionism, subjectivism, relativism, etc
are all propaganda tools of socialists and communists and are rather

> >
> > 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.
> Since I've not once made the claim that government is good and private
> individuals are prone to do evil
> things if left to their own devices, I'm confused as to why you would
> say this. If you read my posts here
> you will not find this anywhere. This seems more like an empty retort
> than an actual substantive
> observation. Why do you feel the need to respond this way? I'm not
> attacking you. I'm merely trying to have a sincere discussion.

So am I. You regularly (as many 'anarchist' socialists do), pay lip
service to opposition to government tyranny of the individual while
continually decrying corporate abuses of individuals and more
frequently, groups, despite the fact that governments abuse far more
people than corporations ever have. You regularly claim that abuses
committed by governments are actually just the governments being the
lackeys of corporations. This focus on corporations as if they are the
primary source of power is indicative of your primary orientation (and
that of 'anarchist' socialists in general). The gentleman who kicked me
off that anarchist list was responding to my posts that said that since
government is the nexus of the distribution of power that government
should be the primary focus of anarchists, and that if they focus on
eliminating government oppression, then corporate oppression will
subside as a result. Their refusal to accept this idea, and claims that
I am thus 'anti-capital' is rather indicative of their true motivation.

> > 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.
> You are wrong in your impression of me. Please read my posts more
> carefully. I've never once said that a
> corporation is more prone to do evil, just that they can and sometimes
> do commit evil acts.

People can and sometimes do commit evil acts. Should we thus confiscate
all individual liberties? I didn't think so. Governments and
corporations are made up of people. They are both tools for
concentrating power. Governments concentrate more power than
corporations, and can concentrate it more absolutely, with no avenues of
appeal that they do not control. Portraying corporations as the greater
evil is thus disingenuous. I don't deny that any concentration of power
greater than that of an individual is more prone to abuse than that
likely from an individual with no more power than their own.

> And, of
> course, this is always in collusion with whatever government in in
> power. I'm just saying I'm not ready
> to totally blame government for all of our ills, any more than I would
> be willing to blame any one group
> or cause. The world is a complex system, and we humans have made it even
> more so. Thus I always try to
> look at things from as many angles as possible, rather than trying to
> fit what I see into any one ideological box.

I don't blame government for all of our ills. Most of our individual
problems we heap upon ourselves. That is the bitter root of our liberty:
we are each free to choose our own miseries and their consequences.
Trying to protect people from the consequences of their actions does
nothing but build up a debt of consequences that are devastating when
they (and the accrued interest) come due.

Life in general is caveat emptor. Refusing to accept this is as futile
as trying to refuse to accept gravity or e-mc^2. If you want to live a
better life, guess what? Its best done do-it-yourself.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:39 MDT