Non-Aggression 201 (was Re: Eliminating Coercion)

Michael M. Butler (butler@comp*
Fri, 23 Jan 1998 07:56:22 -0800

To riff on for a moment:

The whole issue of personal self-determination is a strange field (or, in
Hofstadter's term, a strange loop).

A big part of that strange loop, for someone who comes to appreciate the
N.A.P. (whether you capitalize Nonaggression Principle or not) is to
apprehend for oneself, at a deep level, that coercion is, given your
setting and goals, suboptimal *and* that better, effective alternatives

Examine each phrase there carefully. There are traps. The above is
necessary, but not sufficient--as a big ferinstance, if the alternatives
don't actually exist, you're lying to yourself/being lied to, which is
functionally crazy. And of course _coercing people to believe in
noncoercion_ is bogus, and also directly leads to functional crazy.

Now, it may be "impossible" for some people to apprehend that coercion is
suboptimal given their settings and goals.
And it may be verging on impossible for disparate cultures to agree on what
constitutes coercion.
Those are toughies.

Further, I keep harping on the not-very-subtext of Axelrod's _Evolution of
Cooperation_, too, the biggest parts of which are rough parity among
participants, punishment/negative consequences that *matter*, and no
certainty that this will be your only/last interaction. None of these go
without saying, and yet a lot of Axelrod-fanciers seem to put them aside.
In my view, they have to be placed squarely on the table.

IMHO, a lot of the "for your own good" people really haven't examined their
own lives properly. Some did it once and never checked up and wandered off
into the cornfields trailing paying customers. I do not name Ron or Werner
here. :)

I think these last three paras of mine relate to:

>Typically the people who think that psychotherapy is good (for everyone
>else), or that things should be such and so a way (for your own good), are
>usually motivated out of the best of intentions, and feel that they are
>somehow annointed to do so, no matter how conservative or liberal those
>people are, for the same reasona Columbus felt annointed to exterminate the
>Native Americans, for the same reason the Kennedy's are always in politics,
>for the same reason Lenin and Stalin did their deeds, and for the same reason
>religious nuts bomb abortion clinics, and Hillary tries to push health care
>'reform' on us.

My favorite reframing of much of this is "You can't trust
<people/yourself>, but you can trust MEEEeeeeee."

>> Any ideas how to practically do this? Self help books? (_Controlling
>> Coercion_: How Coercive Behavior is Self-Defeating)? Lots of Internet
>> sites on the subject, with lots of information on how to eliminate
>> coercive behavior in oneself? TV documentaries? Popularizing discussion
>> of coercion?

Fostering "the lights going on" is a toughie. Cults get started that way.
:) :)

Given what I said above, it's what is technically termed a "wicked"
problem. It's crying out for solution, but it's a minefield of local
maxima--what I call "payoff traps"--plus history, hormones and strange

I try to talk it and walk it, and am refining my ability to tell when the
lights are on in other people.

I try to maximize the payoff for others I know for whom the lights are on.

Is this an ivory tower, ghettoization, or freedom of association? :)


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