[ExI] The Circle of Coercion

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Wed May 6 18:19:10 UTC 2009

--- On Tue, 5/5/09, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> 2009/5/6 Dan <dan_ust at yahoo.com>:
>> This actually tells us why private charity would be
>> better: it's inherently much more self-limiting.  Those who
>> really need it -- and, to be honest, I've relied on it in my
>> life (and I've also helped others) -- will accept it, while
>> those who don't (and this is subjective, of course) will be
>> less likely to accept it.
> Would it be better if insurance companies only had
> to pay out if they felt kindly towards you, even
> though you have have a contract?

The analogy you're seem to be attempting has, for me, a flaw.  If you're trying to say the government has a contract with you to support you (under certain circumstances), the problem is it uses force against third parties to support you.  That'd make the contract invalid.  Insurance companies as insurance companies would not be using force as such to fulfill their contracts.  In fact, insurance companies who don't fulfill their contracts -- as in they really do owe you (in the liberetarian just sense) a payment and decide they're not feeling kind toward the payee -- would be initiating force, specifically, using indirect force to keep what justly belongs to someone else.

Why you would attempt this analogy is strange.  Do you believe that the libertarian view is buyers should pay sellers because they should be kind?  (All of this is not to say charity isn't a virtue.  Unlike justice (in the libertarian sense), however, coercion can't be used to correct a lack of charity.)
>> The key point is: it's forced.  The whole system is
>> based on coercion and on perpetuating coercion: you were
>> robbed, so you're entitled.  Where does your entitlement
>> come from?  Well, from robbing others to keep the system
>> going.  From an Extropian perspective, is this the kind of
>> thinking and system we want to perpetuate?
> I wasn't robbed, I paid for a service.

I'm not so sure about that.  Did you have the option not to pay and continue to do whatever activity was involved?

> True, I had to pay for the
> service if I wanted to work, but that's the case with
> thousands of
> commercial transactions. I have to pay for professional
> indemnity
> insurance; I have to pay for renovations to the building in
> which I
> own an apartment, or I can be sued and ultimately
> imprisoned; I have
> to pay for insurance in case the plane crashes as part of
> the price of
> the ticket whenever I fly, even if I'd rather pay less and
> take a
> risk. I can look for a different job, apartment or airline,
> but this
> might be inconvenient and costly, if not impossible. I have
> the same
> choice if I don't like the taxes in the state where I live:
> I could
> change the way I work or I could move, although that might
> be
> inconvenient, costly or impossible.

I think you're confusing choices that have to be made in life regardless of state (or other) coercion and coerced choices imposed by the state.  Of course, there's a lot of mixing here; we live in societies dominated by nation states that attempt to micro-manage many choices.  Under such conditions, coercion enters almost every choice.  But there's a difference between say, "If you want to do business with me, you must do X, Y, and Z" and "If you want to do business with me, even though it'd harm no one else (in a libertarian rights sense not in the idiotic, meaningless sense of anything anyone does affects everyone else) and both of us agree that the government requires you to do X, Y, and Z (because some bureaucrats or a session of the legislators decided that you must)."  (Or if you please, let's say the local mob boss requires you to do X, Y, and Z.  Thus, to avoid the shallow reply that I'm merely anti-statist or I'm ignoring non-state coercion.*) 
 In the former case, you might still find someone else to do business with -- someone who doesn't require X, Y, and Z.  Or you might not.  Or you might find someone who will only work with you if you X and Y, but not require Z.  And so on.

But in the latter case -- where the government requires X, Y, and Z -- you don't even have the choice to seek out or persuade others.  (Admittedly, you can petition the state to change the policy, but that's a huge barrier to leap for most people.  Why make it hard to change here?  Why bake in to the system some beaucrats' or legislators' whims and make it hard for the people on the ground -- the one's who have to wear the yoke -- to find better ways of doing things?)
>>> If I don't want to pay either I
>>> don't have to work.
>> That's sort of like saying, "If I don't want to pay
>> the local crime syndicate, I can just avoid having a
>> business in town."
> The crime syndicate is not chosen and supported by the
> citizens who live there.

True, but democracy is to a large extent merely a propaganda method used to legitamize the elite and rule of the many by the few.  You get to select your master.  Well, actually you don't.  The majority of voters get to select it.  So, at least some of the voters lose.

But let's follow the analogy a little further.  Imagine the local crime syndicate decides to run elections.  Let's say the alternative is no elections, but the syndicate keeps doing whatever it does -- e.g., breaking knees, stealing from local businesses, and the like.  So, now life is so much better.  You get to have your vote added into with thousands or millions of others and there might be a tiny chance your vote will make a difference.  Of course, to be certain, the candidates offered are pre-selected so that no one too radical -- say, like no one who'd push for the crime syndicate to stop stealing or stop breaking knees.

The point is that just because you have some voice in the overall coercive system -- be it a local crime syndicate or a national one (a nation state) -- does make it non-coercive.  In fact, the only way to make it non-coercive would be for all subjected to its activities (citizens is a loaded term; it makes it seem like governments only rule over their citizens and not uncounted others) expressly consented to it.  (In the same way, if someone asks three people for a dollar and two agree (a clear majority!:) to five him one, this doesn't entitle him to the holdout's dollar.  Were he to take it from the holdout, he would be coercing that person.  But if he gets all three to consent, then there's no coercion involved.)



*  It should also be noted that organized crime (aside from government itself) thrives under government.  Were it not for outlawing various so called vices in the US (e.g., illegal drugs, prositution, and gambling), I think most organized crime would disappear.  Yeah, there'd still be some of it around, but it'd be a pale shadow of its former self.  I don't expect that minimizing or abolishing the state will make the world perfect, just much better under most circumstances.


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