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Are there innocents within war?

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[...] the context includes the fact that the U.S. perpetrates some evil acts. And if it is the act of a nation, then the nation is responsible.

A 'Nation' cannot be resposible for anything unless each and every individual that comprises it willingly propagated action.

I never said that. You don't have to outrun the U.S., you can leave any time you like. If a robber sticks a gun in your face and you can get away but choose not to, whose fault is it? Certainly the robber is to blame, but you are also for not taking the best option open to you.

You talk about dropping context when you are doing that very thing.

You forget that leaving the U.S. involves entering some other morally depraved (to a greater extent) country.

If the thief that points a gun at me and asks for money (taxes) and my only other option is throwing myself off a cliff I'm am going to pay up.

I was born into this country and I had nothing to do with the moral failure of the people who came before me. I was born with a gun at my head and am actively, to the extent of my ability and knowledge, fighting the weilders of the gun.

You are holding my choice of the greatest degree of life available to me, as a moral black mark on my integrity. By the fact that that which is available to me is not perfect.

I am being 100% moral in the context of my existence, a context of which degree there is no greater.

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Your premise is that if one can outrun the armed robber, then one cannot say that one is being forced.  That is a non-sequitur.  The ability to escape a threat does not mean the threat does not exist.

I never said that. You don't have to outrun the U.S., you can leave any time you like. If a robber sticks a gun in your face and you can get away but choose not to, whose fault is it? Certainly the robber is to blame, but you are also for not taking the best option open to you.

I have taken the best option open to me. I am here in America. Since there is no option for escaping the robber, explain why I become morally responsible for the robber’s future actions.

Well, it is good to know where you stand.  You condemn people in proportion to their productivity and rationality.  That is a profoundly evil and disgusting notion.

I'm just want to make it clear that I never said that, and that words are being put into my mouth. A private trade is not the same thing as the effect that private trade has on the nation in which it occurrs.

I said:

Am I to be damned for the sin of producing?

You answered:

Sure, to the degree that you produce that which initiates force or is used to initiate force. For example: your taxes which are used to fund the PLO, or the fruits of your productiveness which may be consumed by others who use it to contribute to the initiation, such as weapons builders, their contractors, and so on. Everything in an economy based on division of labor is supported by everything else.

This would mean that I am volunteering to be robbed unless I move somewhere where the robbers cannot get me.

I never said that either. This drops a mass of context that has already been brought up in this thread that I will not bring up again.

Here is your statement: “Good, because you volunteer to pay U.S. taxes by staying in the U.S.” How is that different from saying that one volunteers to be robbed if one lives in an area where there are robbers?

This means that you have made the choice to live, be productive and remain free evil.  So man’s life is not the standard of your morality.

This means that the choice to produce goods makes you liable for the possible consequence of having them stolen and misused.  Since man's life requires production, you have turned the decision to live into a liability. 

I never said any of those things, either. I know you'd like to believe I said them, but again you drop context, and insert assumed context which I did not intend. Perhaps it is my failure for not being a clearer writer.

What context is being dropped? You have made it clear that you think moral culpability for the nation’s actions attaches to anyone who pays taxes. Since the only way to avoid taxes is to die, become a parasite or go to jail, you have indeed declared that some sort of evil attaches to the decision to live, be productive and free.
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So ideas don't make a man evil, just his actions?  Who does that smack of?

I don't know for a fact that it is your idea.

Incidentally it is not my idea, just the one you are inserting by means of ignoring half of what I've said and isolating out only a small part of it, and then twisting it into what you think I'm saying.  Can you say MUP?  I knew you could.
I don't know what MUP refers to.

I do know that statements like, "Get over it", and "Sorry if it is too complicated for you" and "I knew you could" are not valid arguments.

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Not to mention the fact that the gun the U.S. points at you for its taxes is the gun you give it in the first place.  Or should we find someone else to blame for that too?  Perhaps the founding fathers were evil for creating this monster?

It's ridiculous to drop all this context.  As long as it continues, so will the evil.

According to you, little or no guilt attaches to the founding fathers because they paid little or no taxes. It is only those of us paying a lot of taxes that have to take the blame.

What context is being dropped?

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I regret that I could not participate in this conversation earlier today, as it seems to have really exploded since I last posted. I would, however, like to state for the record, that I am in complete agreement with AisA, Felipe, and Proverb.

The idea that all citizens of an evil nation should be considered implicit its evil deeds is collectivistic. The idea that we can be held responsible for choosing life over imprisonment/death is evil.

Edited by Moose
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It is this commonly held belief that citizens of an immoral nation can be seen as moral that cause so many of a morally superior nation's troops to be needlessly killed.

You know that from everything you will produce as a working citizen and everything that you will purchase, will promote the continuance of your nation. Be it from your taxes or goods to be used by the more immoral of your fellow citizens. Is it not you who provided them with materials, services, and goods to promote their evil ways? Does this mean that you should stop? Hell no, for as most of you have already stated, youve done your cost/ benifit analysis and found that it is best to live this way. Your right you do have a gun pointed at your face when it comes to paying taxes, but this does not mean you are bereft of choice. Even if you know that all other options will lead to the termination of your life, the choice remains.

It is when a nation partakes in an immoral act of war against another nation that that nation has the right to defend itself and destroy the destroyers. Remove the threat. A common baker living in this immoral nation, who, for all of his life has opposed his nations for its immorality and has taken steps to see its demise, remains none the less evil in that for all of that time he has produced the bread that went to the mouths of the nations citizens, leaders, and army; and has in all likely hood provided tax money for his immoral nation. For the defending nation to see him as guiltless in his nations doins is absurd. No matter how minor his role was in his immoral nation he bares some of the guilt and thus is to be seen as an evil entity by the defending nation seeking to remove the threat that has risen up against it. Is it logical to see an immediate need to kill this mere baker? In all likelyhood no. But is the defending nation morally obligated to risk its citizens/ soldiers lives for the sake of seeing that no harm come to these supposed "morally innocent" people? Hell fucking no. He has performed his cost/ benifit analysis and chosen to stay. It could be that certain death awaited him if he didnt stay. But he took his choice. It could be that his choice bought him many years of life for lacking the knowledge of what his country would cause to reign down on his nation. But it was his choice, so the defending nation has the moral authority to shoot on site at this mere baker because perhaps only one of that nations soldiers or citizens appeared to be harmless and in fact had a bomb strapped to their chest and killed the defending nations soldiers. So it should be with no hesitation that the defending nations soldiers could kill all on site to remove the threat.

Is it at all likely that this defending nation would go out of its way to do so? no. It would be a waste of resources to attack the citizens. But if the enemy soldiers chose to hide in a schoolhouse, it should be without any hesitation that the defending nation obliterate it if it was presumed to bring about the end of the threat to the defending nation. And the moral responsibilty for those children is then layed upon the citizens their country. So no matter how nominal an individuals role in his countries affairs, shares in the evil in having promoted it. The only moral innocents in war are children incapable of fully reasoning, and their death is on the hands of their parents and country.

But as we live in the USA, the most moral of all nations, it is doubtful that anyone would be put in such a situation. But those who don't and provide even the most miniscule of services still all add up to form a nation that is held in place by the production of goods from those nominally roled invididuals who choose to stay.

Cost/ benifit analysis.

Edited by miedra
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People can and do escape, and if they choose not to try they have made their cost/benefit analysis and must suffer the consequences of that decision either way.  If they decide to stay and help support a state which is culpable in an initiation of force, then they are also culpable.
So have you retracting your earlier mistaken claim that there are no innocent civilians in a war? Certainly those civilians who have not decided to stay and have also not decided or acted to support the repressive government would be innocent. The same reasoning that allows you to claim that Kira was innocent because she did not fully realize the nature of the Russian Revolution is as logically applicable to the millions of captives in slave nations who, too, are struggling to escape their bondage, or who do not yet understand the nature of their government. Those who do not participate in the repressive slave nation, and who are merely the captives of that nation, are indeed 100% moral. The context that you have dropped is that not all people present in prison have chosen prison. Once you restore that context, you should understand that there can be innocent civilians, and, to bring this back to the original question, their fate is determined by the acts of the repressive government, not the liberating forces.
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miedra, I agree with you.

However, I do want to add that a Cost/Benefit analysis needs to be continuous.

I need to apply my judgement to every action of the country in which I reside. If my country acts immorally (in such a way that I did not have control of, the ability to prevent, or to stop) that tips the scale of my C/B analysis and causes me to change my position, it has no weight on my integrity or on the morality of my decision to reside in my country until said juncture.

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I don't know for a fact that it is your idea. 

At least you'll admit that much.

I don't know what MUP refers to.
I'm not surprised.

I do know that statements like, "Get over it", and "Sorry if it is too complicated for you" and "I knew you could" are not valid arguments.

Mighty presumptuous of you, that I was actually trying argue with that.

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So have you retracting your earlier mistaken claim that there are no innocent civilians in a war? Certainly those civilians who have not decided to stay and have also not decided or acted to support the repressive government would be innocent.

No. Certainly they would not be.

Edit:

OK, there is one extreme edge case for an innocent civilian. A political prisoner. He cannot act to support the government because he has no freedom to be productive. But this is not the norm. Further, he will most likely welcome the incoming bombs because he wants his government to change.

The civilians who work productively within the nation ARE acting to support the repressive government. They ARE supporting it. There's no way to deny this simple fact. When you make a decision to do something, you have to accept ALL of the consequences that come with that decision, you don't get to pick & choose which ones you like and which ones you don't. The universe doesn't work that way for anything else, why for this?

Objectivism is not a way for you to rationalize your decisions such that you come out looking squeaky clean doing whatever you feel like. In order to actually make yourself a better person and be happier, you have to be able to identify the errors you do make and work to correct them. You have to know when and where you are doing something bad so that you can do your best to stop it. Making yourself a better person starts with the question, "What bad things do I do?" Physically supporting a government that initiates force is one of them.

Working productively within the U.S. means that you are supporting all of the actions the nation takes as a nation. Some of them are good, some are not -- but you physically support them all nonetheless. There's no way to argue the point that your tax dollars are used to do some evil things. They are YOUR tax dollars, they ARE used for bad things. Be aware of this, don't just shrug it off because you don't agree with it. Be vocal, blog, write your congressmen, speak out in social gatherings, do all of those things. Make sure everyone in earshot knows its not OK. Remember all those people in Atlas who exclaimed "It's not my fault!" That's what you're doing, and it will enable the government to get worse.

The government is SUPPOSED to represent the people. If enough people want the government to change, it will change. When the people don't care and shrug it off, the government gets nasty. That is what is happening, and that's what we all need to contribute to putting a stop to. And it starts by admitting that we are the cause. We cause the government to exist, we cause it to be what it is, we put the gun into its hands in the first place, and we can change it if we want to.

The rationalization that there's no moral sanction because there's currently no alternative to a gun pointed at your face anywhere puts the nail in the coffin of freedom forever. The alternative you ask for is this: if you DO fight for freedom, someday it WILL exist, because it is possible and man is generally benevolent.

Edited by TomL
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What is it with the claim that there exists NO choice that would present another option to a U.S. citizen?

There isn't any other option? Would anyone care to back up that claim? I mean sure, there aren't options with big economies or a lot of infrastructure or good colleges, but how can it be claimed that there are NO other options?

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Since you are the making the positive claim, namely that there exists a freer alternative to the US, why don't you live up to the burden of proof? Even then, that it would be freer doesn't change the arguments here in the slightest. What would change the arguments would be if you found an alternative that did not involve the point of a gun.

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Good. Let's read very carefully what Ayn Rand said about this topic:

Q: What should be done about the killing of innocent people in war?

Ayn Rand: This is a major reason people should be concerned about the nature of their government. If by neglect, ignorance, or helplessness, they couldn't overturn their bad government and choose a better one, then they have to pay the price for the sins of their government—as all of us are paying for the sins of ours.

That's why we have to be interested in the philosophy of government and in seeing, to the extent we can, that we have a good government. A government is not an independent entity: it's supposed to represent the people of a nation.

If some people put up with dictatorship—as some do in Soviet Russia and as they did in Germany—they deserve whatever their government deserves.

The only thing to be concerned with is: who started that war? And once you can establish that it is a given country, there is no such thing as consideration for the "rights" of that country, because it has initiated the use of force, and therefore stepped outside the principle of rights.

Your conclusions select neglect as to what you do about your government's evil. You will pay for the sins of your government, and in as much as you put up with it, you deserve what comes from it.

Q: Assume a war of aggression was started by the Soviet Union; assume also that within the Soviet Union, there were many that opposed the aggressive work of the ruling group there. How would you handle that type of problem?

Ayn Rand: This question is so blatantly wrong that I cannot understand how anyone can entertain it seriously. It assumes that an individual inside a country can be made secure from the social system under which he lives and which he accepts (because he hasn't left the country). It is the idea that others must surrender to aggression—in other words, be goddamned pacifists, who won't fight, even when attacked, because they might kill innocent people.

In Soviet Russia, there aren't very many innocent ones—and they're mainly in concentration camps.

If you could have a life independent of the system, so that you wouldn't be drawn into an unjust war, you would not need to be concerned about politics. But we should care about having the right social system, because our lives are dependent on it—because a political system, good or bad, is established in our name, and we bear the responsibility for it.

Nobody has to put up with aggression and surrender his right of self-defense for fear of hurting somebody else, guilty or innocent. When someone comes at you with a gun, if you have one ounce of self-esteem, you will answer him by force, never mind who he is or who is behind him. If he is out to destroy you, that is what you owe to the sanctity of your own life.

Edited by TomL
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Precisely, no one is denying that all of us pay for the sins of the government, but the extent to which we are guilty for these sins corelates with the extent to which we put up and sanction the government. Within this country, at least, where the rule of law is still respected to a large extent, a hostile takeover is insane and immoral (to the extent that it's a sacrifice of one's life). That being said, one can and should (in order to be moral) oppose our government through all legal avenues available based on their value hierarchy (that is, based on a cost/benefit analysis).

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And the answer is that this question is secondary to: "How can we quickly, efficiently, win this war?" .... if after this analysis a free nation determines that it would be too costly or, far more likely, impossible to do so, it can morally go on with the war even if it means the death of guiltless people.

This may be true of the political prisoner, but he will receive a bomb in his lap with open arms. He wants it to come.

For the regular everyday man, acting to physically support his nation, who shrugs the responsibility for what his government does -- he deserves what he gets -- and that goes for whether its a bomb in his lap, or prosperity and happiness.

You can't deserve the prosperity and happiness and not the bomb in your lap when they are caused by the same action -- the action of supporting your nation.

Edited by TomL
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Tom, I completely agree with your position, just as you have phrased it. A friend of mine asked me about this a few years ago, and I told him just what you told everyone here: that I know this fact and it is my choice to remain here. It is, just as you said, a cost/benefit analysis. I know that I could die or suffer at the hands of someone who righteously opposed an immoral action of my government. This is a risk that I take. I believe that the benefits of remaining outweigh the risks.

On the spiritual side of things, I do what I can to change things. I intend to make a career of it someday.

As to those who say that there is NO other place on earth a person could live where their rights are more respected, I doubt this but as Felipe points out, I lack the expertise to say for sure. What I DO know is that the option remains to "shrug." You could live in the USA like the filthy hippies do: "off the grid." There are ways of not supporting the system in which we live. I recognize that I have a choice and I have made my choice and I, like Tom, accept the responsibility for this choice.

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