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Induction and Anarchism as an Ideal By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 06/02/2012 I’ve come to a realization recently after having discussions with several anarchists, and the realization is that some of them are not being rationalistic (thinking of principles divorced from the facts), but rather they are making an inductive generalization based upon their own experience of dealing with various governments who insist on getting in their way of leading their lives in a rational, independent, and productive manner. What generally happens is that they seek to do something – like opening up a business in a convenient location – and the government steps in and tells them they cannot do that without specific permission from the government (local, regional, or national). For example, I once had a boss who decided to move his picture framing gallery across the street to a smaller venue. No problem getting the lease and the business name and signage and all that stuff, but the trouble was that the venue did not have a rear entrance to be used in case of emergencies, so the local government would not let him move in until they had an investigation. Said investigation took over eight months to come up with a legal solution, so he lost revenue for all of that time. Fortunately for him, he had a second location that was doing OK, but can you imagine not getting paid for eight months due to a government technicality? I’ve heard of similar stories, and while not all of the victims turn to anarchism, some definitely do, stating that it would be better if we had no government at all, which they think would solve the problem. According to The Logical Leap by David Harriman, it does not take a lot of the same types of facts to be aware of to come to an inductive generalization. Turning on several light switches in a house can get even a young child to come up with the generalization, “Flipping the light switch will turn on the lights.” So, even a few times of dealing with a government can lead one to realize the generalization that, “The government is preventing me from living my life!” Is this a valid generalization? One based on the facts in terms of causation? And what should one do about it? An Objectivist would say to advocate for better government based upon upholding individual rights in such a way that the individual is free to live his life as he sees fit so long as he does not initiate force against others. To many people who turn towards anarchism (no government), this seems like a very far-fetched way of getting rid of entrenched governments who violate individual rights. However, a contextual research into the early decades of the United States (the first 150 years) will show that just such a government did indeed exist (sans slavery and taxes). That is, a government geared towards an extension of self-defense in an institutionalized manner did exist, and was lost over the years. But what made that loss possible; and, indeed, what made the United States possible in the first place? Basically, it was the ideas of The Enlightenment that made such a free country possible, as the individual became sovereign in all walks of life due to the rational influence of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, who advocated that each man’s individual mind was capable of knowing reality unaided by Divine Intervention or government edicts. Prior to that, with the possible exception of Ancient Athens, there was a top-down approach to government whereby the government would set the terms for the life of the individual in that society – of the individual being the servant of the State instead of the opposite idea that the government ought to be the servant / protector of the individual. It was the Founding Fathers of the United States and the political theories they understood and advocated that led to the individual protection type of government. Unfortunately, these ideas really required a more philosophical approach – basically a new rational philosophy and a rational morality – to ideally translate into a politics that would stand the test of time and not become eroded as reason and individualism wavered due to bad philosophies (primarily Kant and his collectivism). Without that fully rational basis, the Founders presented the case of rights as being self-evident – as it states in The Declaration of Independence – whereas the concept of individual rights does require a whole host of more fundamental ideas to be completely validated. Lacking such a base, the political ideals of the Founders became chipped away almost from the beginning, but especially after the ideas of Kant swamped the field of philosophy. And I think it is because the ideas of individual rights and proper government are not self-evident that collectivism on the one hand or anarchism on the other hand begin to take precedent in people’s mind. They tend to think that we need either more government (total socialism) or get rid of government altogether (anarchism) to solve the current problems. I have written elsewhere why I do not think that anarchism or competing governments will work, but I do think the anarchists just cannot conceive of a proper government or say that it has been tried and has always failed. Due to this, I think their initial inductive generalization is a false one, that the alternative is not Socialism versus Anarchism, but rather upholding individual rights in a fully institutionalized manner (Constitutional Republic) or dispensing with them in fully institutionalized manner (Communism). The idea of institutionalized protection for the individual is very difficult for the confirmed anarchist to accept, as individualist as some of them are, but anarchism is not the solution. A government dedicating to protecting the legitimate rights of the individual would leave one free to live one’s own life according to one’s own ideals while preventing others from interfering with said decisions with force (as this would be illegal and punishable by law). Anarchism, on the other hand, would not provide for such protection. Some anarchist claim to have thought it all through and have come up with solutions based on market principles, but I have yet to see a worked out solution that would not eventually lead to outright violence in the streets as one segment of individuals attempts to protect themselves from other individuals in an effort to protect their rights, which they claim were violated (real or imagined). With a Constitutional Republic and institutionalized systems of protecting the individual (police force, military, and courts for resolving disputes peacefully), I don’t see how one can protect oneself for large-scale enterprises, like a corporation that exists, say, in all states of the United States; nor for one’s own individual life as these competing agencies of force vie for protecting the individual without any sort of institutionalized system of resolving disputes (the court system). So, both myself and fellow Objectivists are for a clearly limited Constitutional Republic rather than anarchy.
Morality and War By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 05/24/2012 I’ve come across and interesting moral dilemma presented by individualists who love Ayn Rand’s rational egoism and think that the individual ought to be free to pursue his life using reason and reality to benefit themselves ardently. The moral dilemma is usually put in the form of an application of individualism and self-defense. How can an such an individualist be in favor of having a war, when the individual enemies cannot be sought out to be killed in the name of retaliatory justice, and one winds up having to kill a vast number of people on the other side not directly involved in killing members of an individualist and moral country? In other words, in their version of applying rational justice, it would be moral to kill enemy soldiers attacking a peaceful country in the name of self-defense – like shoot down their air force or their tanks or their armies – but leave the rest of their country alone, since the rest of their country is not attacking us. And this sounds quite reasonable on the face of it. If a murderer comes and kills your loved one; you don’t go kill their loved ones or their grocer or their teachers or their neighbors. No, you hunt him down and deliver justice, by either killing him or by throwing him in jail. And that is the way these anti-war individualists think about fighting a war. So, why not fight a war that way? Why not just live and let live for the rest of their country, and kill only their soldiers? I think the issue here is one of context – the facts governing how one is to think about a particular moral issue. In the case of a lone gunman who kills your loved one, there is no implication that he is attacking a whole neighborhood, let alone a whole country; no, he kills that one person (or maybe several in the immediate vicinity) and doesn’t declare war on the neighborhood or the whole country. So, it is rational to treat that lone individual as a lone individual, and not take it further, unless it can be shown that he had accomplices helping him to carry out his evil act. For example, if a bank robber uses a car as a getaway, and killed the teller in the process of robbing the bank, not only is the robber guilty of murder, but the getaway driver is also held as an accomplice to murder – even if he didn’t go into the bank. In a similar manner, one could defend oneself against a cadre of bank robbers and their support system, say if a group of them got together to plan a heist and lived together and encouraged each other to go rob banks; teaching each other how to use a Tommy gun and how to avoid the police and how to control bank customers at the point of a gun, etc. In other words, everyone involved in the bank heist cadre would be guilty of being accomplices. Nonetheless, it is still only individuals attacking individuals, and has to be handled by the police rather than the armed forces. In the case of a foreign armed forces attacking a peaceful nation, the implication is entirely different – instead of just attacking those particular people who they bomb, their intent is to destroy the entire peaceful country. Hitler sought to overthrow Poland, for example, and burst through their border to do so; killing many Polish people along the way. But his intent was to get all of Poland to surrender to Germany. He attacked a country, and not just a few individuals. In that sense, he was not like a gang leader who attacks a neighborhood, his plans were much more grandiose – he wanted all of Poland. And so all of Poland – qua country – had the moral right to fight back in self-defense. And let’s say Poland did this, they fought back and destroyed that particular army. Would it be over? Would justice have been served? For the immediate moment, perhaps. But, Germany is still there, and Hitler still wants Poland, and so he puts together another army, and they attack Poland again. And let’s say this goes back and forth a few times. How long is Poland supposed to put up with these continuous attacks? The source is coming from Germany, who is out to destroy Poland, and their factory workers continue to make tanks and fighter planes and war ships and guns and ammunition, etc. There is a whole support system there. And there is encouragement from the German people to take over Poland. They cheer on their armed forces; they agree with Hitler that Poland ought to be taken over with force. So, who is Poland supposed to kill in their pursuit of self-defense? In a manner similar to the cadre of bank robbers, there are many accomplices involved. Is Poland supposed to go into Germany and arrest all the military factory workers, the munitions plant workers, the people cheering them on, or what? And how are they to do this anyhow? I think Germany would have something to say about that, and seek to prevent it. So, more Polish people get killed. And they weren’t doing anything except minding their own business and trying to institute justice. So, when you come right down to it, such attacks on peaceful countries can only be repelled by all out war against the aggressor nation. And by implication of the people of that aggressor nation supporting their troops in various ways, as mentioned above, they are all a fair target. Justice will only be served in the Germany / Poland case if Germany is made to stand down their attacks on Poland. And the only way to do this is to take away the German people’s moral fortitude to attack Poland, to let them know in no uncertain terms, that what they are doing is morally wrong and that it will not be tolerated. And maybe it is unfortunate that many of them will have to be killed for them to realize they have done something wrong, but they supported Hitler’s reign, and they will have to pay a heavy price for it. Similarly for our current War on Terror. Americans, by and large, have been minding their own business around the world, and being attacked time and time again by Muslim Fundamentalists. The height of these attack were the mass terror attacks of September 11, 2001; where over 3,000 Americans were killed for doing nothing but taking care of business in a peaceful manner. And like the Poland example, it was an attack on America qua country, rather than qua individuals, and there is a whole support system there to train them and to encourage them to make such attacks. In fact, one could almost make a case that the entire Middle East stood behind the attacks, with the exception of Israel, as they cheered in their streets as those towers fell. How long was America to put up with it? And since these particular Islamicist soldiers died in the attacks, is justice served by the fact that the terrorists are dead? In a way, like the Poland example, perhaps. But there will be more of them, and there already have been many of them, and there is a whole ideology behind them, and entire countries are giving them moral and material support. Are these people innocent bystanders? I think not. Not by a long shot. And they need to be taught that we will not put up with these continuous attacks against Americans; and they will have to be taught by force, along whoever are their accomplices. One final note about the truly innocent who had absolutely nothing to do with the whole mess, such as the children and the babies. If the terrorists and their accomplices grouped together, leaving the children out of it, then we could kill only them and only them. But that is not the way war operates. Like I’ve said, in a sense, their whole country attacked us or encouraged others to do so and idolized their suicide bombers and their following of Islam and the killing of the infidel. We don’t have a method of aiming only at the bad guys and their accomplices – we have to bomb buildings and villages and cities to get them to stand down. And it is not our fault that they carry their women and children with them. It is the terrorists who put such people in harm’s way, not us. Now are we to stand down until no one can possibly get hurt except for the terrorists and their immediate accomplices? How many Americas are supposed to die before that type of event will happen? Realistically, it can’t be done. When it is kill or be killed – for an entire nation, one way or the other -- it’s all of them as targets or all of us as targets. And personally, I don’t like being a target just because I live in a semi-free country that the enemy literally hates with religious passion. They can lay down their arms – and the truly innocent can encourage the terrorists to lay down their arms – or they are dead. It’s as simple as that. It’s either the USA survives as a nation, or some hell-hole in the Middle East survives as a nation. And I know what side I’m on. So, I fully support our troops in their efforts to defend America by fighting abroad. If you want to save the babies over there, then be against the terrorists, not the American Soldier who is killing the terrorists and their support system. Besides, I really think such baby defenders ought to be more concerned with American babies than Islamicist babies. http://www.appliedphilosophyonline.com/morality_and_war.htm