We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Search for a good cause

I am now donating about $0.01 to the Mises Institute each time I do a search online. As my various writing committments require me to look things up at a rate of at least 20 a day, this means that I am raising a dollar a week (excluding weekends). Goodsearch, a Yahoo-based search engine, donates the money on the basis of the number of searches carried out. Details can be found here.

Most Samizadatistas will disagree with the Mises Insitute for being isolationist on foreign affairs, although this position is motivated more by a refusal to support collectivism (even the ‘good collectivism’ of a war of liberation) rather than the desire to see the USA lose, which is closer to the left’s position.

On the other hand, the Mises Institute is consistently against bad economics, government regulation, taxes and socialist theory as much as practice.

If the Mises Institute is too radically libertarian for your tastes, you can select another charity, you can even switch from time to time. Come to think of it, I could switch beneficiaries as I search different topics, or on different days of the week.

19 comments to Search for a good cause

  • Paul Marks

    I think you meant “support” rather than “oppose” – the Mises Insistute people refuse to support the collectivism of war even to liberate a country from dictatorship.

    Of course most of them do not oppose all war – if the United States was attacked they would support the war effort against the aggressor.

    I sometimes used to ask how how the Iraq war fitted in with the libertarian nonaggression principle (of couse one can make a legal case for it – on the grounds that the 1991 war never ended), but I simply had 9/11 shoved in my face.

    This rather depends on Saddam being behind 9/11 – which has never been proved to my satisfaction.

    A war to spread representative democracy does not interest me.

    However, your main point is well taken.

    People may have doubts about the wisdom of the choice to go to war without wanting the other side to win.

    The disgusting thing about the left is that they do want the other side to win.

    Their Marxism has degenerated into vulgar antiAmericanism.

  • You can also pick the CATO Institute if you don’t like Mises.

  • Here’s a nice little nanny-state campaign for you. Toronto Hydro’s effort to shame people into using less power- power they pay for, mind you. Note the police state undertones.

    I bring you “BUSTED!”

  • That the Mises Institute doesn’t want America and the West to lose is certainly a bonus, but the truth is that they don’t care enough about the preservation of Western freedoms to abridge their blind hatred of collectivism. If we were to follow the course of action they suggest, we would be far more likely to lose. The crux of it is that they don’t care enough to win and that’s rightfully enough for those with a “critically rational” perspective to dismiss them as excessively idealistic. Sometimes values must be abandoned to preserve even more essential ones.

    Anyway, goodsearch is pretty cool – thanks for the tip.

  • That the Mises Institute doesn’t want America and the West to lose is certainly a bonus, but the truth is that they don’t care enough about the preservation of Western freedoms to abridge their blind hatred of collectivism.

    “Western freedoms” traditionally included knowledge of the evils of collectivism, and why it was deserving of nothing but contempt.

    If we were to follow the course of action they suggest, we would be far more likely to lose.

    Which “we”, kemo sabe? Those who agree with you? Those who support the war on everything? Those who would “boss the grass in the wind about which way to blow”, who steal from their neighbors by proxy and go running to the police like frightened two-year olds when those same neighbors let their lawn go one inch over the median? Who cry murder when individuals exercise their right to defend themselves and their property; their rights of judgment and free association; their right simply to be left alone?

    The crux of it is that they don’t care enough to win and that’s rightfully enough for those with a “critically rational” perspective to dismiss them as excessively idealistic.

    “I got no need to beat you. Just want to go on my way.”

    Sometimes values must be abandoned to preserve even more essential ones.

    There is no such thing as the right to violate the rights of another. Abandoning principle leaves you on a foundation of sand. Come the flood, your house will fall, and great will be the fall of it.

  • snide

    Sometimes values must be abandoned to preserve even more essential ones.

    There is no such thing as the right to violate the rights of another. Abandoning principle leaves you on a foundation of sand.

    What a simple world you must live in. Sure there is. You shoot at me, I shoot at you. If someone gets caught in the cross fire, that’s a tragedy but it’s also (1) an accident on my part that does not reduce my right to defend myself or to strike back (2) your fault for shooting at me in the first place.

    So unless you can do better than that when someone kills 3000 americans, prepare to be consigned to the irrelevence you deeply deserve. I think the fashionable term these days is “moonbat”.

  • Kit

    Mises do have some problematic associtions with the far-right and far-left, as documented by CATO’s Tom Palmer:

    http://www.tomgpalmer.com/archives/cat_the_fever_swamp.php

  • Sigivald

    I’d rather just, if I was interested in donating to such organisations, just do so directly, rather than counting or pseudo-counting something unrelated like search engine queries and donating based on that.

    The very idea of donating to Mises or Cato based on searches is deeply weird, in that the two are utterly unrelated, and “give money to X if you do Y” schemes are usually instituted by people to get themselves to stop doing something they feel they shouldn’t, like swearing or smoking or eating sweets. And it seems very, very odd to lump effectively cost-less and generally beneficial search engine queries in with “sin tax” objects.

    Why not just give Mises 2 bucks a week and save on the transaction cost of counting queries?

  • damaged justice,

    I have no interest in discussing whether individualism is the crux of western freedom and it is irrelevant. The truth is that war is sometimes a necessary endeavor…yes it is probably the epitome of collectivism…yes it is murder en masse…yes it is sometimes necessary. Your inability to comprehend this forms the wall between your opinions and reality.

    Originally, I was hesitant of categorizing the hatred of collectivism some people have as ‘blind’. But your response ironically reinforced that characterization…since when is the feeling of contempt towards collectivism the basic foundation of western freedoms? I’m no history buff but such bold generalizations strike me as foolish and simple-minded. Plus dangerous because no idea can flourish without a certain degree of collectivism (defense to preserve the basic welfare of the society). Even the Greek states had to band together under Themistocles to fight off the Persian Barbarian Xerxes…they grudgingly abandoned their individualism to preserve it.

    In any case, when I say lose the war, I mean giving into fundamentalist Islam. With Iraq being such a spectacle and dominating the media, people have forgotten the broader picture (also Bush’s fault)…there is still a war on terror and I want to win it. No, it isn’t possible to absolutely kill every single person who hates America enough to strap bombs to his/her own waist and walk into a mall…but he who strives for perfection relentlessly will achieve excellence – and excellence is pretty damn good.

    I don’t know much about political philosophy or what not, but I do know that self defense is a moral mainstay of common sense. If someone attacks me, I not only have the right to kick his ass, but such an action is as moral as it is common sense.

    As for your irrelevant metaphor about sand and a flood…I’m sure the flood will avoid those that refuse to fight back at it ;)

  • Sigivald; the point surely is that this, to you, is a zero cost transaction. I run searches fairly regularly, if I use the google bar in Firefox, Mozilla get paid a small amount by Google. Now, if I use the Goodsearch install, then my favoured charity get a small amount instead. All at no cost to me except the time to install.

    Antoine, thanks for the heads up, I like the idea.

  • even the ‘good collectivism’ of a war of liberation

    Blimey!

    I didn’t realize that blowing up Iraqi children with cluster bombs and cruise missiles counted as being good. But now I know.

    Thanks for the information.

    I suppose everything I’ve read at http://www.iraqbodycount.net/ must be bad, then?

  • Washington Wonk

    I didn’t realize that blowing up Iraqi children with cluster bombs and cruise missiles counted as being good. But now I know.

    No, leaving mass murdering tyrants in power so they can do it with blowtorches and wood chppers and poison gas over another 25 years, that good, right? Asshole.

  • Sigivald

    Ah, yes, I see I misread/misunderstood.

  • washington wonk,

    you sound pretty convinced. I want to understand you so please explain:

    is it the *method* of the killing that makes it good/bad? (cluster bombs vs. blowtorches)

    or…

    *who* is doing the killing that makes it good/bad? (oil-loving american neo-cons vs. oil-loving tyrants)

    maybe you can help Sigivald see your point of view?

  • washington wonk, you sound pretty convinced. I want to understand you so please explain:

    is it the *method* of the killing that makes it good/bad? (cluster bombs vs. blowtorches)
    or…
    *who* is doing the killing that makes it good/bad? (oil-loving american neo-cons vs. oil-loving tyrants)

    maybe you can help Sigivald see your point of view?

  • washington wonk,

    you sound pretty convinced. I want to understand you so please explain:

    is it the *method* of the killing that makes it good/bad? (cluster bombs vs. blowtorches) or…
    *who* is doing the killing that makes it good/bad? (oil-loving american neo-cons vs. oil-loving tyrants)

    maybe you can help Sigivald see your point of view?

  • To all: sorry about the multi-posts. something was up with the forum posting mechanism when I submitted and it appeared to be rejected every time.

    A clarification to snide as I think he/she might be the one being naive. If someone shoots at me, and I retaliate and shoot back accidentally killing – say – 10 bystanders. I don’t think my ‘right to defend’ myself would save me from jail. Any retaliation must be shown to have had good cause, and be proportionate (At least that’s the case in the more developed countries).

    I might also like to add to my thrice-made post above and ask Washington Wonk whether there’s yet another reason why he might think killing innocents/civilians is “good”.

    Is it for the *reason* that they are killed? e.g. killing 100 civilians as a side-effect of assasinating one person is “good”, whereas killing 100 civilians as a side-effect of protecting a ruling party is “bad”?

    I would like to know where “Washington Wonk’s amazing moral line” actually is.

  • Is it for the *reason* that they are killed? e.g. killing 100 civilians as a side-effect of assasinating one person is “good”, whereas killing 100 civilians as a side-effect of protecting a ruling party is “bad”?

    In short (and admittedly a bit glib) my answer would be yes, that is correct.

    I cannot speak for Washington Wonk but the way I see it, being attacked does justify defence and if they defence results in the accidental death of an innocent bystander by the person legitimately defending themselves, then that may well be a tragic accident rather than manslaughter, provided appropriate care and attention were taken (and what is appropriate is very contextual: if you are fighting for your life in a darkened room and a bullet goes astray, that is just an unavoidable consequence of fighting for your life). I agree with the notion of proportionality, which in a civil situation clearly includes knives, pepper sprays, crowbars, enraged pitbulls, firearms etc. but does not include ‘area effect’ weapons like grenades, artillery or flamethrowers.

    In a state of war the degree to which care and attention can be exercised is rather different and what is proportional is also quite different: artillery, bombs, fuel-air explosives, scatterable mines etc. are acceptable because in many situations in war targets can ONLY be attacked using area effect weapons… but nuclear weapons and bio-weapons are generally (but not always) “disproportionate”.

    Moreover if a legitimate target (say, Saddam Hussain) places himself amidst civilians in the hope that would make him a “morally unattackable target”, that should not stop an attack just because innocents may be killed. If you are not prepared to cause unintended casualties when attacking a legitimate target, you have no business ever going to war under any circumstances as that makes you a functional pacifist… or more to the point you will simply lose every war you find yourself in if you will only attack targets which obligingly wear blaze orange “I AM A COMBATANT” vests and who guarantee that they will at all times remain at least 500 yards from the nearest civilian. The reality is that in war, information is nearly always very limited and that means attacking places where you think your targets is and often you will be wrong, sometimes with tragic consequences. Such is war.

  • Perry,

    That’s a good response. I’m willing to cede to somebody having a view that it’s the *reason* of the original aim why 100 civilian deaths change from ‘evil/murderous’ to ‘oh well/unfortunate’. I’d still disagree but at least it is being honest.

    If that is the case then it all depends on what you *think* the original aim of the action was. Here in England we’ve had a ‘moving feast’ of reasons, some worse than others and people are sadly having to make all sorts of things up. It is reasonable to assume that since the government reason for war keeps changing, the public isn’t yet convinced. Eventually they might hit upon the magic phrase that makes a sizable majority think “Oh yes, since I’ve found out the was was about [insert magic phrase here] then it’s completely justifiable. Those civilian dead are lucky Saddam didn’t kill them first. At least we had a good reason: [insert magic phrase here].”

    If one side truly has lofty goals that transend self-interests and self-preservation then it is clear that side should try harder at being (and being *shown* to be) fairer, more careful and more apologetic at the civilian deaths. After all if your aim is the ‘liberation’ of the ‘people’ then the accidental deaths of those same to-be-liberated people is not just unfortuate but cheapens your cause. The “we don’t do body counts” mentality does seem to confirm that liberating the Iraqis was not the aim, otherwise it is logical to assume that killing the very people you are supposed to be liberating should be treated with more than an “oh well, you know it’s war after all, shit happens”.

    Remember the justifyable outcry when the Beslan school siege ended with so many dead? In that scenario it is clearer who was the enemy and still the heavy handed approach by the Russian special forced of liberating those held hostage may have contributed to the innocent deaths: Just because it’s war, doesn’t mean that innocent lives matter less.

    Lastly I think you over-extend yourself with your point of becoming a functional pacifist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Thompson%2C_Jr.

    Hugh Thompson, Jr seems to have taken a similar decision to the one you cite, and he was commended for it. He was a soldier to be proud of, and not because he was a functional pacifist, but because he knew the different between “oh well, it is war after all, shit happens. Nothing to see here…” and “fucking christ they are killing unarmed civilians”.

    Mick.