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Compromising Principles

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At what point is acceptance of government force no longer tolerable? Is there a point at which one must morally choose to rebel? My first reaction is to assume it's different for everyone, but as I began writing this reply I became less sure.
I am sure that it is different for everybody, because the alternative view is that values are absolute (thus intrinsic). Besides, "rebel" is pretty vague -- it could mean "start throwing bombs and shooting police" or "protest". It's way past time to start protesting, and way too soon to start throwing bombs. When life qua man becomes possible and you are forced to live as a slave (really, and not in the metaphorical sense that people say that they are slaves to the government now), when the use of reason to change the government is no longer possible, then armed resistance is appropriate.

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I am sure that it is different for everybody, because the alternative view is that values are absolute (thus intrinsic).

Granted, but if one chooses his life qua Man as his highest value wouldn't it be morally required of him, if he is to follow his moral principles, to engage in whatever resistance necessary to achieve that goal; whether it be protesting, or throwing bombs?

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Granted, but if one chooses his life qua Man as his highest value wouldn't it be morally required of him, if he is to follow his moral principles, to engage in whatever resistance necessary to achieve that goal; whether it be protesting, or throwing bombs?
The key here is "necessary" and "(in order) to" (implying something about effectiveness). The reason why I don't think one is morally required to spend all of his free time picketing at the IRS is that it is not effective (some time, picketing, more time writing LTEs or otherwise arguing against taxation, for sure). And bomb throwing is not necessary. But evading the problem is not really a proper choice.

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Referencing David Odden's posts:

Both your last two posts have been exceedingly on the money. As to when to go armed would probably be when two conditions are met: 1) There is no alternative method of dealing with the government. 2) you have the training and militial reosurces to do so.

As to the first. we live in the age of distributed tyranny; the instruments of tyranny are spread out amongst agencies and bodies. The EPA should never have existed. Congress talking about cap and trade or any carbon regulation over the last 4 years, given the actual climate dynamics ought to be removed from power and replaced, which is why the Senate was originally an appointed body since the founders had been aware of things like the Tulip Mania. The Treasury Department aided by Congress is in the midst of a power grab over the whole financial sector led by a tax cheat. It's not like Chavez or Castro doing the one-mann power-grab thing. Now, it may come to military intervention: Going in with guns and bayonets to root these individuals out and kill them and it's going to have to spread to the universities, where such things are created and the media which whips up the mobs, which is why I refer to the "university-media-totalitarian complex". We are approaching that point. Failing a political solution and a military one. then the citizenry may need to take up arms. This was put in by the founders. The second amendment was not about the right of self-defense; that was a given. The arms that it referenced were aimed at the Federal Government to keep it in line. Certainly if it came to the need for armed action. it were better done by the military since they are a legitimate political instrumentality. Private armies can be anything from John Galts to Whacky Jacky and his Aryan Mujihadeem for Peace and a Cleaner Environment Under God. Look at Afghanistan; and that goes back to the time of Kipling.

The second issue is another matter. For the last 40 years i've heard legitimate Rightist though on armed rebellion and persons stocking up on food, guns and ammo. Good luck! this is going to have to be organized and directed. That means the kind of discipline and group action that I don't think modern "individualists" are capable of. There is also the matter of "lines of communication' which means moving supplies and personnel to the battle zones, Intelligence and the wholde C3I thing. This has to be in place by the time you're ready to go or what you'll have is a string of Goliad's and Alamo's, which Sam Houston told the participants in those debacles not to do because he could not support them militarily. You also need strategic and tactical doctrine and someone seeing the "Big Picture". This is not a game for weekend warriors: This is 24/7/52. You may have to fight in Alabama then a week later be in New Jersey (New England could use a liberation squad before it becomes a Venezuelan protectorate).

So, think long and hard and prepare well. To see what you face: The fact that Waco happened in Texas and the ATF Gestapo (Reason 19810) stormtroopers even lived long enough to do the deed speaks volumes about the people. When Texans allow tyranny to stand, what is there to say?

Edited by Space Patroller

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The quote from Rand that applies perfectly here has already been used, so I'll try a different argument:

Would you rather go to jail than pay taxes? Or rather, would you rather sacrifice ALL of your freedoms just because one (oops, did I say "one"?) of them has been taken from you?

Nobody wants to pay taxes. At least, I should think nobody does. But we all do, because we'd rather give up some money than spend years in a dank cell somewhere, being especially careful not to drop the soap. People came in with guns and said, "Some of all of the money you make is going to Hobo Ted." You had less guns, and no votes.

This is not a compromise, because we're dealing with force here. "Morality ends where a gun begins," after all. Had we a say in any governmental affair at all, would we be paying taxes?

Besides, I'm not misanthropic enough to prefer going to jail over paying some taxes. The IRS is always laughably insane, anyway.

NEW QUESTION: Are we compromising our freedom when we obey speed limits? Or are we just ensuring our safety? Or are we just hoping to avoid blame if we get in an accident? Hm...

(Sorry. I just couldn't resist.)

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Would you rather go to jail than pay taxes? Or rather, would you rather sacrifice ALL of your freedoms just because one (oops, did I say "one"?) of them has been taken from you?

I think the "oops, did I say 'one'?" is telling. It really isn't just "one," is it? Yes, we are relatively free compared to the rest of the world. But the history of our country (perhaps all countries?) has been to move from greater freedom to less and less. At what point do we say, "Enough is enough. My principles state that I am an end in myself, not the means to some other's, or others', ends. It's time I abide by that principle."

I agree with Mr. Odden (if I'm indeed paraphrasing him correctly) in that it's not pragmatism to fight at some level - letters to the editor, educating others, speaking out against initiative government force, etc. - and still hold fast to principles. I just wonder what threat to those principles requires action of a more confrontational sort. Moreover, I realize I'm the pragmatist in that I don't do all that I could to uphold my principles while remaining on the right side of a cage.

I look to the heroes Rand provided. Roark: wouldn't sanction his accusers in any sort. He would not recognize he was being tried; wouldn't recognize the court's authority in any way. The threat of force was there, as it is with taxes, but he would rather stand by his principles and suffer the punishment than abandon them. Galt: preferred his own suicide to abandoning his principles. Ragnar: became an outlaw to live by his own principles. In fact, all the great producers became outlaws to live their principles. Now, things had to get pretty bad for most of them, but the instigators, like Galt, Ragnar, and Francisco all worked actively to live their principles to their fullest.

A few have argued, "Well, that was fiction, this is real." Or, "We don't have a hidden valley to escape to." These strike me as pragmatic arguments - we'd rather live our principles, that would be ideal, but it would be hard to do it, so we'll settle for something less ideal.

Nobody wants to pay taxes.

I don't think that's true. I want to pay taxes, as long as those taxes are used to protect my rights.

This is not a compromise, because we're dealing with force here. "Morality ends where a gun begins," after all.

But do our principles end where a gun begins? I live for my life, and my love of it - Mr. Odden brought that to the fore. However, when that becomes hindered due to the actions of an oppressive, well-armed collective, don't I have a moral obligation to protect myself?

NEW QUESTION: Are we compromising our freedom when we obey speed limits? Or are we just ensuring our safety? Or are we just hoping to avoid blame if we get in an accident? Hm...

I think this is a dangerous question in this context. The roads are owned by the government. We obey speed limits because those are the rules for using that property. Your question, in this context, seems to imply that we pay taxes because the government owns the country and that is the price for using that property. A proper government provides services - protection from foreign and domestic abuse of our rights, and law courts to adjudicate differences among citizens. We should rightly pay for those services. But to argue we should pay for the right to live here, which is how I interpret your question, is improper.

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The problem is a regular Ship of Theseus--at what point are we giving in to evil, rather than just bearing a large burden?

It's tough to use fictional characters here, because they are acting in the context of how life ought to be, rather than how it is. Were we to act similarly to Galt, Roark, and Ragnar, we'd fail and suffer heavy penalties

In response to the question "do our principles end where a gun begins" I'd have to say, "Everything you do beyond the point where a weapon is introduced is in self-defense." You just have to remember one thing: it's you versus the White House. If I was one to gamble, I'd have to admit I'd put my money on the White House. Yes, you have an obligation to protect yourself, but remember that you're defending yourself against a country that isn't adverse to the use of nuclear weapons. Pursuing an antagonistic course here is, I think, a bit too suicidal to be called rational (at least, for right now. Once we reach that point I mentioned above, though, we morally have to revolt. See: the American Revolution).

When I mentioned that nobody wants to pay taxes, I meant "right now". As in, I don't want to pay MANDATORY taxes, but I'm fine with VOLUNTARY ones. (Which raises an interesting question: is it practical for a new country to make taxes voluntary from the get-go, or does it make sense to have a short period of mandated taxes to get the government on its feet before gradually making taxes optional?)

As for my questions, I was just being a jerk, which was why I apologized. I just like to wonder about road laws. You have to remember that the government extorted the money they used to build the roads, extort money to keep them running, and are, by owning them, breaking one of the rules of the government, because the ownership of roads doesn't have anything to do with using force to protect citizens from the use of force or fraud. But I could be wrong. In any case, please ignore my questions. Again, I'm sorry.

But if you want a good discussion question, I'll try again: Say that taxes are in fact voluntary, and the government actually has a surplus of monies. The government is a good one, and only pays for its police force and military, along with the meager salaries of its officials. Simply: assume it is the ideal government. With this surplus money given willingly by the people, can the government set up a board that gathers unbiased data about products to give a factual report to the public? Imagine an FDA that doesn't regulate anything, just gathers data about a product after it is put on the market and makes it (the information) available to anyone who wants it. This doesn't have to do with protecting citizens from the use of force, so is it legal? Can the definition of the government's duties be expanded to include free public services paid for by legally obtained money?

Although this question could actually be an easy one....

(Edited for clarity, and to remove a "6".)

Edited by Inertiatic

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(Which raises an interesting question: is it practical for a new country to make taxes voluntary from the get-go, or does it make sense to have a short period of mandated taxes to get the government on its feet before gradually making taxes optional?)

If you're at the point where you have enough support that you can do something like that why would you ''need'' taxes?

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It's tough to use fictional characters here, because they are acting in the context of how life ought to be, rather than how it is.

Isn't that pragmatic? Aren't we supposed to live moral lives? If we're going to argue living a moral life isn't possible because the world isn't moral then what's the point? If we're not striving for the ideal, if we're not trying to live moral lives, then what's the purpose of morality? What's the purpose of having an ideal if we're not willing to gain it; either because we'd fail or "suffer heavy penalties?"

Once we reach that point I mentioned above, though, we morally have to revolt. See: the American Revolution).

I'm sorry, but I missed that point. Would you mind restating it?

Say that taxes are in fact voluntary, and the government actually has a surplus of monies. The government is a good one, and only pays for its police force and military, along with the meager salaries of its officials. Simply: assume it is the ideal government. With this surplus money given willingly by the people, can the government set up a board that gathers unbiased data about products to give a factual report to the public?

No. Providing such a service is something the private sector can do. In fact, it's something the private sector does quite well right now.

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Isn't that pragmatic? Aren't we supposed to live moral lives? If we're going to argue living a moral life isn't possible because the world isn't moral then what's the point? If we're not striving for the ideal, if we're not trying to live moral lives, then what's the purpose of morality? What's the purpose of having an ideal if we're not willing to gain it; either because we'd fail or "suffer heavy penalties?"

My moral status is completely determined by my own actions. To submit to the petty compulsions of the state does not affect my moral status precisely because they are compulsions.

The purpose of morality is not to guide us to live a moral life. That is a circular and rationalist understanding. The purpose of morality is to guide your actions to achieve life, your own particular life. Life and morality do not award points for martyrdom operations. There are no morality points by which to keep score of your moral status, only your life. The ideal to be striving for is your life, not a morality apart from life.

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My moral status is completely determined by my own actions. To submit to the petty compulsions of the state does not affect my moral status precisely because they are compulsions.

The purpose of morality is not to guide us to live a moral life. That is a circular and rationalist understanding. The purpose of morality is to guide your actions to achieve life, your own particular life. Life and morality do not award points for martyrdom operations. There are no morality points by which to keep score of your moral status, only your life. The ideal to be striving for is your life, not a morality apart from life.

So, if the state compelled you to give all of your poduction to someone else, effectively making you a slave, your moral principles would direct you only to stay alive? It would be morally acceptable to live as a slave rather than die fighting for your freedom?

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The principle is, "Never live for the sake of another, nor ask another to live for mine." I interpreted the quote to mean something like, "I will never allow others to use me, nor will I use others."

This is a faulty interpretation (I am drawing on the context of what you wrote in this thread).

This statement is a rejection of the morality of altruism. It does not mean that you will never let yourself to provide for another and it also does not mean that you will never accept the benefit of a social program (or somebody's good will). It does mean that you don't accept providing for others as your moral duty and you don't expect others to provide for you as their duty.

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This is a faulty interpretation (I am drawing on the context of what you wrote in this thread).

This statement is a rejection of the morality of altruism. It does not mean that you will never let yourself to provide for another and it also does not mean that you will never accept the benefit of a social program (or somebody's good will). It does mean that you don't accept providing for others as your moral duty and you don't expect others to provide for you as their duty.

I understand now my interpretation was too limited, as I noted shortly after the quote you provided. However, I don't see how my morality would allow me to accept the benefit of a social program (which is not someone's good will) when I know that benefit is not provided out of any care or concern for me, but has been forcibly taken from someone else.

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I understand now my interpretation was too limited, as I noted shortly after the quote you provided. However, I don't see how my morality would allow me to accept the benefit of a social program (which is not someone's good will) when I know that benefit is not provided out of any care or concern for me, but has been forcibly taken from someone else.

It is certainly a virtue to avoid government handouts when possible (trying to avoid using government roads, for example, is not practical). However it is not immoral to get back some of the money you paid into the system. For example, a lot more people would have been able to afford a private school for their children if they did not have to pay taxes (also because in the absence of the public system - private schools would have been a lot more affordable) but under the current situation they simply can't. There are many examples of this.

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It is certainly a virtue to avoid government handouts when possible (trying to avoid using government roads, for example, is not practical). However it is not immoral to get back some of the money you paid into the system. For example, a lot more people would have been able to afford a private school for their children if they did not have to pay taxes (also because in the absence of the public system - private schools would have been a lot more affordable) but under the current situation they simply can't. There are many examples of this.

This seems like rationalism to me. The way things are, none of us are paying into a system which if we stopped paying into for X number of years we could expect to still receive benefits. The money we've "pain-in" was "paid-out" a long time ago. In fact, the money we'll pay in for the next several lifetimes has already been "paid-out." Just because I've paid taxes in the past, even overpaid, doesn't grant me a claim to the production of some future worker.

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Just because I've paid taxes in the past, even overpaid, doesn't grant me a claim to the production of some future worker.
And nobody here is claiming that you have a right to state-paid schooling for your children. That future worker had no right to the schooling that he is receiving now, paid for by my taxes.

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So, if the state compelled you to give all of your poduction to someone else, effectively making you a slave, your moral principles would direct you only to stay alive? It would be morally acceptable to live as a slave rather than die fighting for your freedom?

No, but that's why I said "petty compulsions". Somewhere, a line gets crossed between the petty and the serious tyrannies that compels rebellion in a self respecting man. That threshold can be different for everyone depending on other obligations to provide for dependents and prospects for successful action. The current situation is not close to that threshold for anyone because it is still possible to live and speak out without oppression.

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And nobody here is claiming that you have a right to state-paid schooling for your children. That future worker had no right to the schooling that he is receiving now, paid for by my taxes.

I'm not quite sure I understand your point here. As I understand it, and if I may paraphrase Miss Rand, we can view the government as our agent - providing services for which no private solution is rational or possible. A proper government will provide only national defense, police and law courts and we should pay for those services. If we pay for them, shouldn't we have a right to receive them, just as if I pay for a burger at Micky D's I have a right to receive it?

If my taxes are being used to pay for the service of schooling my children, then don't I have a right to receive that service? Of course, this lays my argument bare in that, if my taxes are being used to pay for the service of providing for me should I not have the resources to provide for myself, then I should have a right to receive that service - i.e. I should have the right to receive welfare money.

The problem I see with this is taxes shouldn't be used for public schooling either. Therefore, it would be just as wrong for me to accept public schooling as it would be for me to accept welfare money.

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