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Can we agree?

Arguments are getting quite heated among libertarians about the claim that the US is a potential threat to freedom versus the view that the US is the best guarantor of freedom in the world today. I happen to agree with both statements.

It would be absurd to claim that the US is a worse place to live than peacetime Iraq, unless one happened to enjoy being part of a quasi-fascist police state. It is reasonable to worry about the potential threat to freedom posed by the world’s only superpower: there is no one to overthrow that state if it should go rotten.

I am disappointed in the complacency of some US libertarians and conservatives who ought to remember that wartime is the time when most encroachments on freedom can be justified. I have been accused of hype for using Hillary Clinton as an example of what a horrible US could be. Surely there can’t be anyone who thinks that none of Presidents Lincoln, Wilson, Hoover, F.D.Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Bush senior and Clinton were ever a threat to freedom? Or that no one will ever be elected to the US presidency who is a bad person?

I certainly wish the US forces in the Middle East a speedy and successful trip. I equally hope that the plan is to remove the tyrant with no or low civilian casualties, both for humanitarian reasons, but also because a post-Saddam Iraq will be less resentful of US troops if there hasn’t been carpet-bombing, or bad target intelligence.

I remain convinced that the British forces will either be as symbolic or ineffective as the Piedmont-Sardinian contingent during the Crimean War, or worse that they are headed for a repeat of Isandlwana, Majuba Hill, or Dunkirk. Bluntly the best troops in the world are cannon fodder when they run out of ammunition, the comms equipment doesn’t work and their boots have melted in the sun.

As for ID cards for use against terrorism. Yes they can help. Yes they are also a violation of personal liberty. But I would be rather more convinced if the British government weren’t providing safe havens for terrorists whether leftist, Islamist or Irish.

40 comments to Can we agree?

  • I do not buy this notion that the Iraqi ‘people’ (whatever that means) are going to be keeping some score card on how many civilians are killed and this will determine if the war to remove Saddam Hussain is a ‘popular success’ or not…and even if that was true, so what? After the strategic air bombing of Germany, the German people were, at least in West Germany, still better off that under Hitler.

    Yes, we are all aware of the flaws of the United States (Waco, Ruby Ridge, RICO laws, Civil Forfeiture without due process, extra-territorial taxation, the IRS’s Stazi-like tactics, preaching free trade whilst at the same time erecting new trade barriers etc. etc. etc.) but the notion the USA poses a threat comparable to Iraq or North Korea or, lets say it as it is, Communist China, is daft. Sure, the US is indeed a threat to liberty but then so is every nation-state in the modern world, so that is hardly a revelation.

    Realistically, the main threat to the liberty of nearly everyone who dos not live in one of the world’s flash points (such as the Middle East) comes from their ‘own’ government (the one which claims them as a subject), not some other nation… even the United States.

  • Tom

    Nice post, Antoine. It also needs to remembered even by Americophiles like me that the US. has screwed up plenty of times and propped up some unpleasant regimes albeit in the purpose of opposing the Soviet bloc.

    I love the US and mostly admire that great and friendly nation for helping to preserve the freedoms of my country. But Antoine is right, there’s no need to be starry-eyed.

  • S. Weasel

    Eh. I blame the education industry. An increasing number of people seem unable to make realistic qualitative comparisons between all sorts of things. It’s the Jesus approach – if you’ve ever done anything wicked, you’re as wicked as the wickedest man alive.

    So, since the US has made mistakes, it can’t be any better than Iraq.

    Once again, the marketplace gives us the best true indicator. A good measure of any country might be…how many people are trying to get in, and how many are trying to get out? And how hard do they have to try?

  • Della

    Is America a threat to the UKs freedom: No, they are not going to invade us or do anything particularly bad to us.

    Is America a threat to Iraq’s freedom: No, even though they’re going to invade Iraq. Their administration of that country is probably going to be imperfect, and maybe even far from libertarian, but I just can’t see them being worse than the bloodthirsty genocidal dictator that currently runs the place.

    So long as America goes around kicking the asses of only brutally opressive regimes then that ass kicking is a net gain for freedom of the world. The only people who lose freedom are dictators, and the operators of torture chambers, and other machinery of brutally oppressive states.

  • George Peery

    Good post. Libertarians need to remember that liberty alone isn’t enough. What is needed, nationally and internationally, is ordered liberty. I’m American, and I find it discouraging that — in times like these for us — many Americans don’t understand the need to balance individual freedom with security. As I read somewhere the other day, maybe American needs “two, three…many WTCs”. That would be dreadful, but many of us are not yet awake to the threat we face.

  • T. J. Madison

    I keep hearing “those that survive will be better off” around here. This notion concerns me.

    The goal is maximizing freedom for everyone. Dead people (as far as we can empirically observe) have little freedom. Plans to increase liberty by sacrificing population will appear better than they really are, because the dead won’t be around to complain!

    When people advocate “balancing liberty with security” what they usually mean is that everyone coughs up a little freedom of action to decrease the overall body count. It sounds great, except that the sacrifice in freedom of action is known and the increase in safety is nebulous.

    This is complicated by the reality that there is no meaningful defence against terrorism. Anyone on this forum is intelligent enough and has access to enough resources to kill 1000 people before the end of the year (an exercise left for the reader). No amount of “Homeland Defense” short of a complete police state can stop reasonably intelligent people from doing this — and police states kill people MUCH FASTER.

    This is why the “balancing liberty with security” thing causes problems. It’s cyclical: People die, and the cry goes out for “more security”, which likely has no effect but to decrease liberty — often the liberty to protect oneself! This leads to more people dying. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    The relative scarcity of effective terrorist attacks tells me that the number of semi-sentient terrorists is very few, which is good news! The bad news is that our “security services” are largely incapable of protecting us from more terrorism — we basically have to suck it down. The State can hunt down specific threats that have hit us before, and it can generate new enemies to threaten us in the future, and that’s about it.

    (Even the 9/11 guys weren’t very smart. Had they been clever, they would have hit Congress during the State of the Union and got EVERYONE. There wouldn’t even have been many civilian casualties, making it less like terrorism and more like a decapitatory strike. Had they been EXTRA BONUS CLEVER, they would have SURVIVED the attack. But they’ll never get that chance now.)

  • Antoine,

    I find it disturbing that you lumped carpet bombing and bad target information in the same category. One is an honest mistake, and we should not hold grudges over it, unless there was gross negligence or incompetence or somesuch.

    Perry,

    I still don’t see how you can call the US a threat to liberty when the counter-factual world without the US would have less liberty than this one.

  • David Carr

    Excellent post from Antoine and I largely agree. I, too, am a little worried at the prospect of all this power getting into the hands of the Hildebeast.

    However, war is not necessarily the health of the state. Here in Britain, we have witnessed the gradual construction of a police state apparatus around our ears. Much of this was ushered quietly in during an era of unprecedented peace.

  • Russ Goble

    Antoine, I read your post last week (which I guess is what motivated this post) and thought I had wondered over to Indymedia. Just kidding.

    But, I do think there are several problems with your analysis. Your concern seems to be based on what would happen if a bad president made the U.S. much more interventionist than we’ve ever been, with the threat and use of military force. And this concern makes it sound like all it takes is a bad president to decide to go to war with nations that seemingly are not a threat, and thus inhibit freedom in foreign lands, (your example I think were the Swiss). Basically, you are concerned with a foreign nation (the U.S.) infringing on your civil liberties whereas Perry seems to be speaking of civil liberties being infringe upon domestically. Do I read that right?

    So, just look at what it has taken to get the U.S. on the brink of war with easily the most deserving dictator in the current world. Wether you think Bush is right or wrong, he has had to jump through unbelievable hoops, congressionally, internationally, and what have you.

    I mean, give the Americans a little bit of credit. Our population is by nature isolationist, or perhaps self-absorbed is a better phrase. We are extremely self critical. And, most importantly, our government structure has all sorts of constitutional limitations preventing the type of administration you fear.

    Sure, we should be a little concerned about a hyperpower. But, when that hyperpower is the U.S. and given our overall track record, our population’s historical disposition towards the outside world, our free and highly critical press, and the various checks and balances in our government, your concern really just sounds like a cheap shot. It’s not just a hypothetical, it’s a fantasy.

    Perry’s point about nation-states is well taken, but still, his point has more to do with individual liberty being infringed upon by our OWN governments. Now, that is very real concern. But, concern over ANOTHER government inhibiting your freedoms, especially when that government is the U.S., that really just doesn’t pass the smell test.

    If the U.S. has another Constitutional Convention or an actual real live coup (not the make believe coup we had in 2000), then fear away my friend. But, until then, keep your eye on the real dangers in the world.

  • Elliot Temple: I still don’t see how you can call the US a threat to liberty when the counter-factual world without the US would have less liberty than this one.

    Huh? You seem to have missed my point completely. I agree that the world would ‘have less liberty’ if there was no USA. However I am saying that all nation-states are intrinsically a danger to liberty but mostly to their own subjects, not to people in other countries! The USA is no different in either regard.

    The USA is no danger to the liberty of people in Iraq (quite the contrary in fact) and certainly not to people in the UK, but it is most definitely a danger to people in the USA! If the IRS comes a knockin’ at your door, I guarantee you it was not sent to visit you by Saddam Hussain.

  • Julian Morrison

    The USA is no threat to any liberal democracy with whose policies it agrees. But lets suppose britain voted hardline libertarian. Do you suppose the USA would be no threat to a country with no respect for copyrights or patents, an open and unregulated drugs trade, money laundering industry, tax haven industry, porn and gambling industry, and arms trade? Especially since these would tend to be exported via air and sea free-ports and via the internet.

  • Perry,

    I meant my comments to apply for the US people, as well as to the world overall.

    And government is *not* a threat to individuals liberty of its citizens, by any sensible use of the word. Like all traditions, there will be random variance. But it is an evolving tradition approaching more consent and more liberty. It seems to me you are calling a path to goodness a threat, just because the path is not always straight.

  • David Mercer

    Elliot, what planet are you from? Govt. not a threat to individual liberties of its citizens? Can’t grow certain non-toxic plants, can’t ingest certain non-toxic chemicals that make you think “different” things…banned books, “hate speech” laws, alcohol prohibition (past in the US, and currently in some other places), extreme regulation of business activities, gun bans, etc. ad nauseum.

    Who has done and continues to do these things to people?
    Governments! Who else has the power to take away liberties at the point of a gun??

  • David Mercer,

    Elliot, what planet are you from?

    Earth.

    Govt. not a threat to individual liberties of its citizens?

    Right. Because it is part of a tradition to create liberty and consent, and although there is sometimes variance, the trend has been and will continue to be more liberty and more consent.

    Can’t grow certain non-toxic plants, can’t ingest certain non-toxic chemicals that make you think “different” things…banned books, “hate speech” laws, alcohol prohibition (past in the US, and currently in some other places), extreme regulation of business activities, gun bans, etc. ad nauseum.

    Laws are an immense force for good, for consent, and for liberty. Of course, there are mistakes. But all traditions and institutions have those. The things you mention are all held to be morally wrong by many people, and the fact that these people are wrong does not make government bad. Do you think without government, they would ignore their view of morality? (Remember they are mostly not libertarians, and mostly do not believe in the non-initiation of force principle.)

    Who has done and continues to do these things to people? Governments!

    It’s not as if everyone used to have lots of liberty, and then some thugs set up governments to oppress everyone. Rather, people formed governments intentionally to have better lives than they did previously. The governments may not be perfect, but they help.

    Imagine Jack is living in an AnCap society. His neighbors have a practice of having children, making them miserable, and then murdering them at age five. Jack sees this as morally wrong, and correctly puts a stop to it.

    And if most people think that smoking pot is morally wrong and worthy of force, guess what happens…

    Who else has the power to take away liberties at the point of a gun??

    Anyone with a gun.

  • blabla

    Right. Because it is part of a tradition to create liberty and consent, and although there is sometimes variance, the trend has been and will continue to be more liberty and more consent.

    What consent? When did I give the govt consent to extort me, rob me, throw me in jail for doing things to myself, take away my guns, dictate how much water I flush my toilet with, determine who is a good doctor for me, etc?

    It’s not as if everyone used to have lots of liberty, and then some thugs set up governments to oppress everyone.

    Govts that tax income at a rate of 50% of more and murder 200 million people a century are a new phenomenon.

    Imagine Jack is living in an AnCap society. His neighbors have a practice of having children, making them miserable, and then murdering them at age five. Jack sees this as morally wrong, and correctly puts a stop to it.

    There is the difference between individual morality and collective morality.

    Govts are, and have always been, the greatest threat to individual liberty.

  • blabla,

    What consent?

    See my explanation here.

    Govts that tax income at a rate of 50% of more and murder 200 million people a century are a new phenomenon.

    WRT taxes, individuals have more wealth than ever before, so I don’t understand this complaint. Are you saying, in a counter-factual world without taxes ever having been thought of, you would be richer? If so, please sketch out what you think history would have been like, that would have led to you having more wealth than you do now.

    WRT deaths, this was originally about the US, and what I’ve said applies to modern capitalist democracy kinda places. But definately not to commies and not to dictators.

    There is the difference between individual morality and collective morality.

    If it is legitimate for me to stop my neighbors from doing something, it is also legitimate for me to get help in doing so. Like from a few friends, an organised alliance, or an army.

  • blabla

    Elliot,

    I have to disagree vehemently with your linked posting. You seem to think that govts start out of a collective public-goods problem necessity but evolve towards individual freedom over time. Looking at history over the last 250 years shows the opposite. Govt started out as a voluntary association to fight the public-goods problem of common defense, but has become more and more coercive over time to the point where it invades every facet of our lives. Our freedoms are decreasing, not increasing with time.

  • Things generally considered immoral tend to be illegal. This is good. Now, some of these things are wrong, but that can’t be helped. Yes, you may know better, and you may convince me you do, but, for reasons we all know (I presume, tell me if I’m wrong), it would not be a good idea for you to be a Dictator of laws.

    And, social programs considered a good idea, morally right, and economically sound by a lot of people sometimes get implemented. You, again, may know better, and I may agree with you, but that does not mean the social programs should never be implemented.

    There is no system to avoid all mistakes. Even mistakes where you and I know they are mistakes as they happen.

    So, please tell me what you suggest would be better than government. And don’t say “ancap” without explaining how to implement it *in the present*. (And if you had a way to make the world ancap now, I assume you would have done it already.)

  • Julian Morrison

    “Things generally considered immoral tend to be illegal. This is good.”

    In a pigs eye.

    Oh and I’m working on ancap. http://fling.sourceforge.net is a start in that direction – and it’s a finger raised to the morality police.

  • Julian,

    “In a pigs eye” — I don’t understand your objection. Could you be more clear?

  • Johnathan

    Good point by David Carr on the issue of “war is the health of the state” argument often used by libertarian isolationists. As David says, there has been a steady loss of civil liberties in the UK long before 9/11, while the British armed services have been downgraded, so much so that they are seriously over-stretched.

  • Julian Morrison

    Elliot Temple: “I don’t understand your objection. Could you be more clear?”

    Me: I could, I won’t. The distinction between immorality and breach-of-rights, and the reason why only the latter should be illegal, has been explained repeatedly by better philosophers than me. If you don’t know it, which I doubt, then it’s not because the info is unavailable. I’m not about to do your research for you.

  • Elliot: I couldn’t agree more.

    Perry and others: Hospitals kill people too. In fact, far more British or American people are wrongfully killed by hospitals than by any other type of institution. So, by your standards, ‘all hospitals are intrinsically a threat to health’. You rightly criticise people who see no difference between a hospital practising modern medicine and one practising faith healing, but you refuse to see the difference between a modern hospital and an empty field.

    One day there will be a way of running hospitals such that practically every person entering will emerge alive and well. One day there will be a way of running society where no one will claim a monopoly of force. In both cases, the knowledge required to do that is enormous and currently lacking. In both cases it can only be created by an incremental process of conjecture and error elimination, not by wishing it were so and declaring all the existing practitioners to be by definition evil because they kill people.

  • David

    Wow!

    L Neil Smith and David Deutsch in the same week

    Samizdata has definitely “arrived”!

  • Tom Grey

    Antoine, fine job. Funny how your “Can we agree” has sparked such a vigorous disagreement!

    I think there is an inchoate, visceral fear of many Europeans, and especially their elites, at a world in which there is but a single Superpower.
    We are in that world, for maybe 20-30 years (?), until Russia, China, and India catch up. (I’m really not sure which one of the first two will be next; I know about China growth arguments, etc., but I suspect already thoroughly industrialized Russia, with a low 15% flat rate tax, could start cranking out 7%+ growth soon, annually…)

    But the points are: Americans and others who’ve lived awhile in America understand the unlikeliness of direct US domination, in the old model (new Iraq model?) of occupation. But IMF/ World Bank “austerity” measures, coupled with blank check support for local dictators, coupled with WTO “free trade” which is devilishly mercantilist against the poor in poor countries — there’s lots a room to resent the New Am. W. Order. I fear it not; the hoops Bush jumped through will likely get higher & tougher.

    The loss of liberty in the US due to the war on terror is a definite problem; but worse w/o an attack.

    But I tend to agree with Elliot about how, under anarchy, most anarchists would soon be shot for not agreeing with the local popular leader, however selected and in violation of whatever “principles” are attempting to substitute for laws & cops.

    The Iraqi survivors who’ve lost husbands/ brothers/ sons/ women/ children — and perhaps especially the friends of such survivors, are more likely to resent Americans more. Killing fewer is better; much better.

  • themic

    This is the problem with simplified statements. Couldn’t it be possible that the United States is a fairly large and complex entity? That the interests and actions of different parts of its government, its corporations, its NGOs, its personal investors, the opinions of each of its citizens, might actually disagree or conflict with eachother? Heaven forbid we can’t simplify the United States into a 7 word sentence. Hell, this reminds me in a roundabout way of Andrew Marlatt’s article.

    — brendan

  • I don’t think “an incremental process of conjecture and error elimination” (David Deutsch) can describe increasingly entrenched irrational destructive anti-growth memes like Big Government and Taxes = Morality.

    Things in general might be getting better, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t necessarily disastrously bad things waiting to jump out at us and seriously set back our growth, which we shouldn’t try to do anything about. Things in general have always been getting better, but there has been pretty nasty crossfire along the way. Like, whole states and groups of people collapsing, sometimes (?)

  • Gil

    I agree with Alice.

    While part of what governments do is good for us, much of what they do is bad for us, and the trends have been mixed, but we must be vigilant to preserve our freedoms. We should continue to point out, and try to correct the bad (for individuals) trends that we find.

    I think there is some confusion about the evolution of governmental institutions. Without conscious changes on our part, it will NOT evolve so as to make life better for *us*. It will evolve to make itself less susceptible to changes from *us*. This is a *bad* thing. The “natural” course of things will be for governmental power to increase and individual liberty to decrease. This conservative aversion to interfering with institutions is, in this case, a grave mistake.

    We SHOULD interfere with government’s evolution whenever it threatens our liberties, before it gets to the point of being impossible to do peacefully.

  • Agree with Alice & Gil. States or governments are not biological entities evolving according to some internally governed rules that we can only nudge a little bit here and there.

    The more I see the ‘evolution’ of the state in Britain, the more I wish there was a place left in the world where one can retreat after giving the finger to the government…

    David Deutsch:
    Perry and others: Hospitals kill people too. In fact, far more British or American people are wrongfully killed by hospitals than by any other type of institution. So, by your standards, ‘all hospitals are intrinsically a threat to health’

    This is not the logic we employ. The state is intrinsically bad not on utilitarian grounds, i.e. how many people it kills but on a threat it poses to individuals. I feel threatened by increasingly intrusive state interference in my life, daily I feel forced to do, pay or accept something in the interest of the common good i.e. the government’s attempts to stay in power.

    Also, I am not an anarchist. Arguing that state is intrinsically bad does not mean I do not see its use in certain limited ways. We have said often enough on Samizdata.net that as minarchists we accept defence and law enforcement as justifiable functions of the state.

  • Specific laws can be bad, and it’s fine to argue why they shouldn’t exist. It’s slandering government in general I object to. And also blaming bad laws on government in general, instead of the people who think they are a good idea.

    Knowing better is not enough to prevent mistakes. You need to persuade others. The alternative would by tyranny.

  • The more I see the ‘evolution’ of the state in Britain, the more I wish there was a place left in the world where one can retreat after giving the finger to the government…

    Have you considered wishing a little harder? Perhaps closing your eyes and crossing your fingers and toes while doing so? :)

    Seriously, though — do you have any reason to believe that all the other people who are likewise wishing for this place agree with you on the matter of when violence is or is not legitimate? And on how disputes about the legitimacy of violence should be resolved? That they may agree on certain forms of words is insufficient, because we see in this very forum that even people who identify themselves as belonging to the same, small political faction, a faction whose defining property is (purported) agreement about this issue, nevertheless disagree profoundly about what is necessary self-defence and what is out-and-out murder, and on what the legitimate jurisdiction of entities that adjudicate such issues is.

  • hatter

    I admit to being somewhat confused about the “government is good” thread. It seems to me that the argument is similar to … we’ve had increasing murder rates for the last 500 years…but look at all the progress. Clearly murder rates increasing is good.

    Where is my analogy wrong?

    Also, it seems that there is a great deal of discussion of what a government is doing as an agent of the people…whereas what the other side seems to be discussing is what government does (as a matter of being government) against the interests of most of the people (Public Choice Econ, etc.).

  • David Deutsch: Hospitals kill people too. In fact, far more British or American people are wrongfully killed by hospitals than by any other type of institution. So, by your standards, ‘all hospitals are intrinsically a threat to health’. You rightly criticise people who see no difference between a hospital practising modern medicine and one practising faith healing, but you refuse to see the difference between a modern hospital and an empty field.

    Nope. The intended objective of a modern hospital is to heal patients. This is an imperfect process due to the limits of our understanding and technologies and thus sometimes they kill rather than cure. The OBJECTIVE is to cure, however.

    The objective of a modern state however is not the enabling of liberty but rather to ‘do stuff’, such as redistribute wealth (i.e. extract money with violence and give it to someone else), educate according to some directed master plan (i.e. conscript children under threat of violence), fund TV stations (such as the BBC), give tax money for Islamic extremists hostile to western civilisation to come to this country, regulate the shape of bananas etc. etc. etc…

    Unlike a hospital, which by design tries to heal (an objective good), by DESIGN a modern state is inimical to liberty… some more than others of course, but there is not yet such a thing as a nation-state which does not have as its objective the abridgement of some of my liberties.

    As a minarchist I think a minimalist state-like structure which exists to support individual liberty is possible (which is why I am interested in Kritarchist ways of intermediation as a way of dealing with the problems inherent in any social grouping)… thus I see a big difference between a ‘hospital and an open field’. I see comparing a modern nation-state and a more liberty conducive minimal ‘state’ as more akin to comparing a blackboard to a hippopotamus, i.e. one is not a ‘better ‘version of the other, they are ‘designed’ with completely different objectives in mind.

  • Perry,

    Have you considered that many people consider wealth redistribution morally right, and consider it morally right to use violence to achieve it?

    Hatter,

    The argument is not that there is a correlation between more government in history, and more wealth. It is that governments actively create consent. How do you think disputes would be resolved without them? (Referring to some ancap ideal won’t work — the institutions to implement that don’t exist now and certainly didn’t many years ago)

  • Gil

    Elliot,

    What is the point of your question to Perry?:

    “Have you considered that many people consider wealth redistribution morally right, and consider it morally right to use violence to achieve it?”

    What argument are you making?

    It couldn’t be that Governments, like Hospitals designed to cure people, are designed to rob people; because I can’t see how that would support your position that we should be careful to avoid tampering with this grand tradition.

    And, I don’t think you are intending to appeal to moral relativism to make a substantive point; although I’m glad it gave him a chance to make a nice reply to that aspect in a subsequent post.

    So…what is it?

  • Gil,

    The point is that libertarian NAP morality is not self evident. And so, in the absense of government, most people would *not* act like libertarians. And Perry would not be left alone to do as he liked. Would likely not even be tax-free — some gangs of socialists would tax whole geographic areas (and if you think you’d have the numbers to fight them off, why aren’t there enough votes to get rid of most taxes now?)

    Most people like taxes, think welfare is morally right, think allowing others to starve is morally wrong, and think using force to enforce these ideas is legitimate.

    And if it’s not an empty field Perry wants, then what is it?

  • _Felix

    I like the image of socialists hanging around in “gangs” on street corners, looking for people to tax, discouraging smoking, and cleaning up graffiti.

  • Gil

    Elliot,

    I think Perry has said what he wants. Libertarian minarchism. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t criticize current governments, or point out the threats that they pose.

    You urge a radical change in the parenting tradition, but that doesn’t mean we should assume you want to abolish parenting or that you’re wrong to want to make drastic changes to such an old and implicit-knowledge-laden tradition, or that each of your criticisms represents a slander to to that tradition. Does it? How should we respond if you say something like “The greatest threat to children is their own parents”?

    What exactly do you propose that’s different from what Perry proposes? I see you arguing, but I don’t know what exactly you’re arguing for, or against.

  • In a main entry, Perry wrote:

    The only reason I am not out shooting people and putting bombs in cars is a purely utilitarian cost/benefit analysis that it is not the most effective way to secure my liberty and the liberty of others.

    It seems he wants government destroyed (but would lose a fight). I consider it good. Is that a clear enough difference in position?

    Also, I think it’s Perry’s position that government is a threat to our liberties. Whereas, I disagree again.

  • Daniel Schmidt

    The vitality of this argument is mildly amusing to me, since it seems that the confusion is only semantic. I think Perry is saying not that government should be destroyed, but that it is much larger and more intrusive than it should be in a perfect world. It is because of this deviation from the ideal that government is a threat to its citizens’ liberty, not just because it exists.