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]

Sex, choices and why I am not a conservative

Kevin Holtsberry writes in Sex and Libertarians that he does not agree with the views that I expressed in Sex makes (some) people stupid back on December 25th, about a 15 year old boy in Australia who was dying of cancer being provided with a prostitute.

I really think this sums up the difference between us. She describes sex between a 15 year old and a prostitute as “casual physical intimacy.” I guess I am a prude because I see sex as an important and consequential physical and emotional act that should not be entered into lightly or flippantly.

No, that is not what sums up the difference between us at all. I have no desire to force my views on anyone else, but Kevin wants his views to have the force of law, that is what sums up the difference between us.

Although it does bother me a bit that Kevin does not feel more empathy for that poor boy wanting to do something so human, it certainly does not bother me at all if Kevin does not conduct his social life the way I do. It does not even bother me that he would almost certainly not approve of the twists and turns of my complex love life. Kevin disapproves of casual sex and presumably feels it should happen only within deep and emotionally engaged relationships. Well I am certainly all in favour of deep and emotionally engaged relationships! But life is just not that simple, at least not for me and I think for most people. If I choose to have a relationship with someone, does that mean I have to marry them? Why? Can we not just be friends? Maybe we are just indulging mutual infatuations for a while and we both want it to be non-consequential because we are adult enough to realise we are not well suited for a deeper relationship. And pretty much the ultimate in non-consequential low risk relationships without a future, would have to be a boy about to die of cancer experiencing sex with a prostitute. Sex does not get much safer than that.

I also believe that it is not something that 15 year olds should be engaged in. A terminal illness does not change the fact that he is a 15-year-old boy and that sex with a prostitute is illegal and wrong and not likely to help him any.

The problem I have with Kevin’s views are that they are based around the idea that it is perfectly okay to force moral ideas on others. This boy was 15 years old, not 5 years old, so he will have had more than enough time to contruct a valid even if incomplete world view of his own, along with moral ideas to go with it. Kevin too has moral ideas, as all people do, but which part of that morality allows him to support using force to impose his views on someone else?

I grew up in a world in which the Communist Party stood as the sole provider of morality and of truth itself. Like most people, I saw it for what it was and lived my life in spite of, rather than according to, the state. I understood intuitively long before I read the books that explained why the state was wrong to try to force me to see things its way. People make mistakes and states are made up of people, which means states make mistakes… and when states make mistakes, they tend to ruin lives and kill people on a far greater scale.

So when Kevin says that something is illegal and wrong in the same breath, I wonder if he thinks that everything that is illegal is also wrong? If he does think that, then I guess he thinks I am very wicked indeed for having not obeyed all sorts of laws that the Yugoslav Communist Party tried to force me to obey, like when I read certain books or forbidden magazines. But if you think I did the correct thing, then I guess you agree with me that morality, not law, is what matters and that law and morality are not the same thing at all.

People have different ideas about how things work, what is moral, what things mean and so on. If someone disagrees with you, you argue and maybe one or both of you changes their mind. Or maybe not. But unless you never make mistakes, what gives you the right to use force to make the other person act the way you want unless they are trying to do the same to you? Yet Kevin do not seem to think this boy can choose what he believes to be correct at all, but rather must do what he is told by people whose views he obviously does not share. He becomes not a boy but just a human shaped animal that has no choices to make at all.

How about some counseling on his mortality and how to deal with it appropriately? Was this out of the question or was he so stuck on sex that he couldn’t think about anything else? Is that the key to dying in peace – have sex? To me this seems shallow.

I have always been chilled when I hear some Americans call for ‘counseling’ when someone else does something they do not approve of. It suggests that only experts can actually understand the truth of a matter and us mere lumpen should listen and learn from them. Kevin should be entitled to die as he pleases, but why does he feel it is important to force his views on how to die appropriately on other people? Morality, as my editor is always saying, is objectively derived, and if not then what passes for morality is just quaint custom to be followed or ignored as one deems prudent [That does rather sound like me, Ed.].

I believe society has the right to define boundaries for the community as a whole – and keep 15 year olds from having sex with prostitutes seems like one we should keep. I for one am glad that prostitution is illegal in this country (USA) and I am also reassured to know that someone still considers it troubling to supply young people with prostitutes. (more on society, boundaries etc. later).

And there we have it: Kevin uses ‘society’ and ‘state’, for only states make laws, interchangeably*1 like all socialists of both left and right. That is why the word ‘socialist’ is such a sick joke: it is the negation of anything ‘social’ and it’s replacement by ‘state’. What Kevin specifically values may be different to that of a bunch of European communists but the underlying philosophy is based on that oh so familiar subjective collectivist matrix, just painted a different colour.

By meeting with political activists the state did not approve of in a private room in somewhere, I might have been arrested and thrown in jail by the now vanished communists. And by meeting a woman in a room in Australia in order to have sex and then paying her, a boy and prostitute might be arrested and thrown in jail by conservatives even though both parties are willing and know what they are doing. Communists and conservatives agree that it is okay to arrest people for free association with other people of whom they do not approve. Same music, just played in a different key.

[*1 Editors note: see Common Sense by Tom Paine]

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