[extropy-chat] Rational force?

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Dec 11 06:59:36 UTC 2006

Samantha writes

> On Sun, 2006-12-10 at 20:33 -0800, Lee Corbin wrote:
>> The Geneva Convention, for example, was expressedly designed to
>> rely upon the civilized conventions of modern advanced nations. It's
>> the ultimate in foolhardiness for highly civilized nations to abide by it
>> when the brutes are cutting people's heads off in the most painful,
>> barbaric, and horrific manner that they can devise.
> Do you then find common cause with those in the US who justify torture,
> detention without charges, arraignment or trial of all we simply call
> "enemy combatant" or "suspected terrorist" with no burden of proof
> required?

No, in general:  I agree with you that we must abhor torture, keep it
illegal, and abstain from detaining our citizens without charges. But
those caught on the battlefield under the flag of no country have, in
my opinion, none of the legal rights of American civilians.

>> This has always been a fatal flaw in the Western psyche and in Western
>> traditions. Barbaric mobsters were able to take over many neighborhoods
>> in Chicago and New York in the 1920s and 30s simply because the
>> civilized law-abiding people of Illinois and New York State could not
>> understand that the circumstances were no longer as the American founders
>> assumed.
> You mean back when the government was so barbaric as to foist the
> Prohibition on the people?

That's the time period in question, yes.  "Barbaric"?  Prohibition was "barbaric"?
Shortsighted it was, but enacted in the most civilized way realistic.

>  This notion that liberty and rights should disappear because somehow
> things are like in the times of the founders shows a singular lack of
> understanding of liberty imho.

Yes, there are risks whenever orderly due process is suspended. But if
the alternative is to be ruled by gangsters and criminals---well, then, you
see you've lost your exalted controls anyway, haven't you?

Think of it as a revolution.  After the criminals have taken over San Francisco
(say it's 1850), or Al Capone's and rival mobs have taken over Chicago, 
think of it as revolutionary activity against an illegal government:  and, as you
know, as as the founders knew, you cannot hope to win in the King's courts
or depend upon a syndicate meeting of gangsters to redress your grievances.

> Stop the War on some drugs and much of the problem will lessen
> considerably. 

Quite true.  But there is no guarantee that south central LA will be reclaimed
to civilization simply by outlawing drugs. The National Guard needs to surround
the entire area, and drive all suspected gang members into concentration camps
and restore order.  Then one by one, those found not guilty of belonging to 
gangs can be released. 

The alternative is to wait until slowly all of society looks the way it does there.

>> All that seems to matter to some people is that their own government play
>> by all the niceties, no matter what ultimate loathsome consequences obtain, 
>> and that their own hands remain lily-white. 
> It is our own freedoms from unfettered government evils that we protect
> not the lily whiteness of our hands.  Do you not understand that?

I do understand that government poses a spectacular threat, don't misunderstand
me.  Indeed, the people must occasionally rise up by force every once in a while
(Thomas Jefferson recommended every fifty years or so.)

Meanwhile, we *must* recognize an even greater evil that the probably 
(but not certainly!) temporary suspension of a few civil rights for some 
people;  Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt understood this---
why can't you?

>> Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.
> Evil triumphs when people forget about freedom from fear of government
> power and consider freedom and civil rights as optional niceties.

Yes, I agree totally.  But not all evils are "government power", Samantha.
You have to keep the other evils also from triumphing.


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