[ExI] Conscientious objections

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Fri Nov 30 12:04:42 UTC 2012

On Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 4:27 AM, Adrian Tymes <atymes at gmail.com> wrote:

(Dan wrote)
>> But even allowing that you own the state -- or that you and the rest of the subjects of the state own it -- since Rafal is one of the subjects he owns it as much as you.

 (Adrian wrote)
> If he owns it, then it is his duty to attempt to control it.  To do
> otherwise is negligence.  That he is part owner along with hundreds of
> millions of others does not fundamentally change this, although it
> does dramatically minimize the degree of negligence.  (It's kind of a
> "micro-sin" - but a moral value of -0.000001 is still less than 0.)

### I don't own the state. I refuse and repudiate any claims that I am
complicit or co-responsible for the immoral and destructive actions of
the state. I am a victim and a prisoner of the state, not one of the
jailers, or one of the cooperating prisoners (a.k.a., Kapo).


>> Third, not voting doesn't really change his tax position.
> Irrelevant.  The subject at hand was the duty to vote, and I had noted
> that he is helping decide how *my* taxes were spent.  If he does not
> care how *his* taxes are spent, that is a different thing.

### You, as a voter, are responsible for the way your taxes are spent.
The blood of innocent people is on *your* hands, not mine.

I did not vote, I do not want to decide how to spend your taxes, I am
appalled at how my taxes are spent, I will not legitimize taxing me by
voting, and I am not guilty.

Also, the real issue is not whether taxation is "wrong" or "right" but
whether the hierarchical monopolistic bureaucracy is a smart (i.e.
well-working) or stupid (i.e. inept and dangerous) idea. So, yes, the
state is first and foremost a stupid idea, therefore it is a wrong
idea, therefore taxes are wrong, too.

In this context, I'd rather be smart than right.


> To the degree that it would be highly disruptive, perhaps
> life-threatening, to leave the country - guess what?  That's because
> the world at large inherently* imposes an unjust taking on you, me,
> and everyone we personally know just for existing.  This particular
> nation deals with it to a substantial degree, but imposes certain
> things - such as taxes, and a moral obligation to vote - in return.

### No, there is no physical law "inherently" imposing the existence
of government on us. It is not "the world at large" imposing an unjust
taking on me, it is you, through your own individual actions (voting),
and millions more of people like you, a band of robbers, who decide,
every four years, to perpetuate the taking, although each and every
time you all could, if you all wanted, cease your behavior. Contrary
to your claim, we *could* have a polycentric law system - not an
anarchy, but a superior, non-violent, non-state source of law and
order. It's not a physical law that prevents its existence, it is the
sum of individual choices that keeps us imprisoned.

Do you notice how our thinking differs? You see the mass of humanity
as an independent, suprahuman entity, "the world at large" that does
something to individuals. I see each and every human as a

> (There's also the false moral equivalence between taxes and robbery -
> but that's been debunked thoroughly by others, and does not need to be
> proven to show that there exists substantial differences of other
> kinds between robbery and taxes.)

### Eh, no, taxes and robbery *are* equivalent (in most of their
economic effects, and let's not drag morality into it) and nobody has
yet debunked the equivalence in a discussion with me.

> Let us say, for example, that you and I were together at a street
> corner, and zombies began attacking. <snip>

### You are using a form of the "lifeboat situation" here, an argument
well-known to me. It is not applicable - the zombies are not
attacking, you voted and they took my money to, among other execrable
actions, buy more ammunition to kill innocent people.

You are on the side of the zombies, Adrian.
(Dan wrote)
>> Scientists don't elect representatives to decide which theories are valid and which should be set aside. Yet complicated scientific theories are somehow invented, tested, refined, and spread (or rejected). How's that possible?
>> Well, it's a complicated issue, but it seems that it's a much similar process to how many other spontaneous orders work, including markets, language, and evolution.

(Adrian wrote)
> The difference is, spontaneous order in law and politics becomes rule
> of the strong, the enrichment of a few at the expense of the many.
> This has been demonstrated many times, both historically and in modern
> examples.

### You choose to apply the word "spontaneous" to autocracy and
tyranny but this is not the meaning that Dan used. "Spontaneous" order
in markets, language and evolution is completely different from
"spontaneous" emergence of despots.

Carefully engineering a society to maximize the wisdom of crowds (as
opposed to letting it get wasted in the voting booth) is definitely
not what you call "spontaneous order".

Dan wrote:
>> And were your argument true -- that some choices are so complicated and that somehow electing a tiny number of people to make them worked better than the alternatives -- why it should be applied more widely. We should comprehensive economic planning just like in the Soviet Union.

Adrian wrote:
> False Dilemma.  Just because it works well in many places does not
> mean it works well everywhere - and conversely, just because it does
> not work well in at least one field does not mean it does not work
> well elsewhere.

### This is perhaps the crux of our disagreement - you have a
difficulty, even theoretically, to imagine a decentralized, and
superior, law and order system, similar in principle to the
spontaneous organization of the scientific community, that works in
real life. I *can* envision it, including a lot of the technical
details needed or sufficient for its existence - even if I see it
cannot be implemented today. This vision leads me to argue in favor of
approaching that limit-libertarian system as much as possible - I can
see both the outline of a path, and the shining ideal at its end. You
think this is just an illusion, and for some reason you argue in favor
of changing today's status quo in the opposite direction, for example
by demanding that I vote and by forbidding me to use Intrade.

It is a difference of visions, indeed.

Let me suggest an exercise for you: Try to imagine Utopia. Try to
define what characteristics a society must have to be ideal - as much
as possible abstracting from the nitty-gritty details, the trade-offs,
the unavoidable evils. Once you form that vision, your theoretical,
ideal world, start adjusting it towards reality - making concessions
to physical laws first, then use your judgment to arrive at a society
that *could* in principle exist, given plausible technological and
social developments. This society should be your long-term,
ideological goal - not the society as it is now, not politics as
usual, but a society that could be built in the future. Once you have
that goal, you can choose your path towards it.

And one more notion - while the goal is defined in moral terms, the
path forward is "technical", not moral - moving on this path should be
driven by understanding of possibilities, not by short term moralistic
arguments. Don't accuse me of "negligence" - try to rely on more
technical reasoning about the results of my voting inaction, how it
potentially changes the future. Once you go through a detailed,
rational analysis you might be able to argue the likely results of my
actions, as opposed to arguing about your feelings on this matter, and
the discussion could move more fruitfully forward.


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