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

From: Neal Blaikie (
Date: Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:43:32 MST

Michael Lorrey wrote:

> Why is it so difficult for people to
> grasp the concept of a competetive government services market?

I have no trouble with this concept at all, and have never indicated otherwise. But I'm more
interested in discussing how to achieve it rather than dismissing people by calling them names. To me
this involves being open minded and examining many different angles, rather than just vehemently
adhering to a fixed ideological position and lashing out at anyone who disagrees with me. I also
think it's important to be mindful of the many ways this system, like any system, could be
compromised or corrupted in order to keep it from happening. That's why I'm cautious, but optimistic.

> 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.

As far as I'm concerned, James Corbally's excellent response to the imperialism issue is pretty much
the final word. Since neither you nor I have experienced colonization, we're both being pompous and
arrogant to think we can say anything valuable on the subject. Since you continue to try to speak for
at least one group of conquered people, I can only assume you don't agree with this.

> 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
> enemies.

Since you can't honestly speak for everyone, this paragraph seems like a knee-jerk response to me,
and frankly, comes across as bigoted. If that's not your intention, I apologize.

> 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
> policy.

So if we conquer these people and make them our slaves, it's okay because they're terrible anyway?
Talk about crap. How about letting people decide their own fates? This, to me, is what liberty is all
about. It doesn't mean you or I have to like or accept their way of doing things, just that we have
to let them work out their own destinies. How would you like it if someone who disapproved of your
way of life were to conquer you "for your own good"? Think about what you're saying here. Try to see
beyond your own biases.

> 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).

And why was there warfare? Because an outside group came in and tried to take over their land.
Wouldn't your response to this be the same? Wouldn't you fight the intruders?

> > 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.

Okay, Michael. Try to focus here. In the quote from me above, I say that I would never claim it's all
black and white and that, in fact, this B&W way of looking at things is one of the things I am
objecting to here. Then you go right on accusing me of having a black and white position. Am I not
writing clear sentences here? I believe we speak the same language. And another thing, where exactly
do I say that "leaving despotic and evil cultural practices in place unmolested is better than
educating and improving through nation building efforts"? Nowhere. Please do not put words in my
mouth. All I have ever contended in regard to this (now rather tiresome) subject is that acts of
oppression cannot be justified in this way. Taking away someone's (or some group's, or some nation's)
liberty is wrong. Period. I don't care what positive outcomes can be pointed to centuries later by
apologists. If we are going to take the position that denying someone's liberty is wrong, then how
can you continue rationlizing colonization and imperialism? This does not compute. Even if you want
to call imperialism "nation building efforts."

> 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.

Oh please, give me a break. This is just more rationalization through hindsight. Why can't you, a
self-proclaimed advocate of liberty and self-determination, see how specious an argument this is?

> 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.

Again (yawn), I'm not saying this. Please don't put words in my mouth.

> 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.

I'm not doing this. I'm saying that even though Jefferson was wrong to own slaves, his actions can
only be understood in the broader cultural context of his day. In his society, slave-owning was
acceptible and "normal," and only changed when enough of his contemporaries (and later generations)
worked to affect a change. This doesn't make his actions any less wrong, it simply provides a context
in which we can look at the situation critically rather than just damning him from our (more
enlightened) perspective.

> 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.

Hmmm. Where did this come from? Since I have neither claimed to be a leftist, or mentioned ancient
Athens, I'm wondering why you threw this in. By the way, I agree with your assessment.

> > 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
> indicative.

Oh, I see. I'm a communist because you say I am, even though I repeatedly tell you I'm not. This is a
weak and embarrassing way to conduct a discussion, and seriously undermines your credibility. And
just because certain rhetorical techniques are abused as tools of propaganda (which we all engage in
all the time, by the way, including you) by certain groups, it doesn't mean that anyone who uses them
AT ALL is somehow (unknown to themselves) a member of said group. This is ridiculous, and is the kind
of useless labeling I will continue to call you on. Oh, and I'm not interested in "taking power" over
anything except my own life.

> 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.

Oh, so now I'm an "anarchist socialist"? Geez, make up your mind. And again, you totally
misunderstand and misrepresent what I said. I have clearly and repeatedly decried tyranny of all
kinds, not just that perpetrated by governments or corporations. Is this too clear for you? I'm not
interested in keeping a tally sheet on which group abuses people more, and I have agreed with you
more than once that governments have and continue to be worse than any other group. I have just
stated (and will state again) that this does not excuse the abuses that ARE committed by
corporations. Is this too subtle a distinction?

> 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).

Again, I have never said this. Why do you feel the need to make me into something I'm not? If you
need an enemy that fits this description, look elsewhere. All I have ever claimed in regard to this
matter is that corporations have and do commit acts of oppression, but ALWAYS in collusion with
governments. And I have repeatedly said that I am interested in looking at all factors, not just
blaming one group or another. Again, is this too subtle?

> People can and sometimes do commit evil acts. Should we thus confiscate
> all individual liberties?

Of course not.

> Portraying corporations as the greater
> evil is thus disingenuous.

Again, I never said this.

> 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.

I'm glad we agree on this.

> 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.

I agree with you on this, and have never indicated otherwise. All I am calling for is a balanced
approach to examining the problems we are discussing here, one that doesn't resort to name-calling,
labeling or rigidly adhering to any one ideology. If this seems to fit your description of a leftist,
or a communist, or an anarchist, well, whatever. I prefer to think of myself as someone who tries to
think outside the box. Call me eclectic.

fun as always, Neal

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