Re[4]: POLI: Random democracy

Guru George (
Wed, 19 Feb 1997 20:26:12 GMT

On Tue, 18 Feb 1997 17:21:02 -0800 (PST) (Robin Hanson) wrote:

>Guru George writes:
>>Surely the claim
>>that slavery is evil stands on its own, and likewise re. govt.?
>What happened is that people were informed in more vivid detail about
>the conditions of life of real slaves, which convinced them that they
>didn't want to live in a state/nation/etc where those sort of things
>happen to people. Concrete facts were more persuasive that abstract
>arguments about what is or is not "evil" in principle.
Sorry, this just doesn't wash. People knew damn well what was going on
(well enough to know it was wrong), same as in Germany and Poland where
they had concentration camps next door. They just rationalised/justified
it, same as people rationalise/justify government. What changed things
was people *declaring* that it was wrong, and declaring that the
rationalisations and justifications were excuses for evil.

>>It just makes no sense at all to argue about how to make something evil
>>more efficient, whether we've got it at present or not.
>Here's a news flash: it may not be possible to eliminate all evils in
>the world anytime soon. Even if war is evil, for example, it makes
>sense to seek ways so wars kill fewer people when the happen.
It's not that I object to finding ways of making govt. do less damage (I
am a gradualist myself); it's just that I heard no moral condemnation
in your original post. I think you've got to speak plainly on these
issues: "Look, this government business is evil, we must get rid of it,
but for various reasons we can't do so in one stroke, so here's some
stuff we can do meanwhile to lessen the evil, on the way to stopping it
for good."

It makes more sense to talk that way, I think, than to sort of fall
in with the general line while sneakily trying to subvert it.

Guru George