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June 16, 2008

Comments

Guido Fawkes

Interesting, but I don't follow where you get the idea that if you lean towards "cosmos" you are "are relaxed about the breakdown of the nuclear family, believing people choose the best family structure for themselves".

I think rising family breakdown is partly a function of the welfare state. If the welfare state did not subsidise family breakdown it would not pay to break up.

Katie

Surely there's something inherent in man's progressive (not lefty, but advancing) nature to want to control and order and classify? Agriculture is a better invention than the wheel any day but the imposition of order on nature required more order to be imposed on nature e.g. settlements with walls.

In short, as any single girl in Manhattan knows, after a lot of cosmos people need some taxis.

Sorry, bad pun, but I couldn't resist...

dearieme

You must be joking.

"Those who are relaxed about the breakdown of the nuclear family, believing people choose the best family structure for themselves": in what sense can children be said to choose that best structure?


"Supporters of the legalization of drugs, who doubt that such a policy would lead to greater addiction": I incline to favour the legalisation of drugs, not because I think that it will lead to no more addiction, but because I think it might lead to less social damage in all. For instance, it might lead to a little more addiction but a lot less corruption in politics, courts and police, reduced muggings and burglaries, and so on.

Bob B

"those who favour 'cosmos', the order that arises spontaneously when free individuals are left to themselves."

Sadly, I suspect the order that arises spontaneously when free individuals are left to themselves would come to look increasingly like the situation that came to prevail in William Golding's The Lord of the Flies (1954):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Flies

Or Anthony Burgess's novel, Clockwork Orange (1962):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clockwork_Orange

By reports, Britain has one of highest binge drinking rates in western Europe as well as the highest rate of teenage pregancies, and all that despite having the largest per capita prison population in western Europe.

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“Supporters of cosmos include not only free market economists but also:
…Those who are relaxed about the breakdown of the nuclear family, believing people choose the best family structure for themselves”

Those who believe “people choose the best family structure for themselves” would presumably object to efforts by the state to control or regulate freely chosen family structures, such as banning gay and polygamous marriages, overriding pre-nuptial agreements etc. They might also object to the subsidisation of some arrangements over others.

Since the state does do all of this, it is not necessarily true that they would be relaxed about whatever they believe to be the results of this state interference.

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“Sadly, I suspect the order that arises spontaneously when free individuals are left to themselves would come to look increasingly like the situation that came to prevail in William Golding's The Lord of the Flies”

Bob, strictly speaking, our social structures must be a result of self-organisation by individuals, if were not bequeathed to us by some creator. The question is whether some individuals should attempt to organise relationships between other individuals. If you do not trust people to organise their own lives, how can you trust them to organise those of others?

(In the unlikely event that memory serves me well, William Golding did intend to show the behaviour of Man without God.)

Bob B

"William Golding did intend to show the behaviour of Man without God"

Whatever Golding intended, he graphically described a Hobbesian state of nature where life is "nasty brutish and short".
http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/hobbes/leviathan-c.html

There is, unfortunately, little to show from the growing number of examples of failed states that humankind in the absence of government is inclined to spontaneously generate benign and orderly social arrangements, let alone the familar supporting institutions, trappings and trusting sentiments of civil society.

Burgess's Clockwork Orange now seems to have been a remarkably prescient vision of prevailing youthful behaviour in many parts of Britain now:

"A 15-year-old boy has been found guilty of murder for his part in gang attack that ended with a 20-year-old woman being kicked to death simply because she was a Goth."
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/boy-15-murdered-student-because-she-was-a-goth-801764.html

QuestionThat

If you do not trust people to organise their own lives, how can you trust them to organise those of others?

I've never come across a convincing answer to this question.

It's one of the main reasons I am a libertarian (and well over on the 'cosmos' side of the spectrum using the definitions in the post).


See also the tagline of my blog: "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves into a position of power
should on no account be allowed to do the job." (Douglas Adams)

In other words, if a human being desires power over other human beings, chances are their motivation isn't entirely benevolent.

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“There is, unfortunately, little to show from the growing number of examples of failed states that humankind …”

True. Then again, most crimes require that someone find themselves in the power of another. In which case, they are not a “free individual”.

In a “state of nature” two people are not likely to both be free for long…

sbw

" ‘no longer between left and right’ but ‘between liberal and authoritarian’.”

If true, in America, it is the left -- the American liberal -- that is authoritarian, and the right -- the American conservative -- that is a classical liberal.

reason

sbw...
George Bush and especially Dick Cheney? The patriot Bill? Not to mention the ACLU? Or the Dominionists?
I think the picture is clearly more complex than you choose to see it.

Will Pickering

Your attempt to reframe the dichotomy is too theoretical and doesn't map much better than left/right onto the actual practical politics that Collins and Nelson are talking about.

Most practical liberals recognise that their beloved cosmos would unravel in pretty short order without any law at all - conversely, scratch an authoritarian and you'll generally find someone who believes *other people* should be regulated to within an inch of their lives so that he can maintain his status at the top of the heap.

Dipper

"If you do not trust people to organise their own lives, how can you trust them to organise those of others?"

Isn't the problem that without the state too many people are busy organising the lives of others?

Ethnic groups that effectively operate outside the state are not known for being beacons of liberty, but on the contrary dens of oppression as rich and powerful groups oppress everyone else.

Surely the reason socialists believe in the state is because the state can give the individual the liberty that would otherwise be denied to them?

Dain

Dipper,

States can't give anything, as they are dependent on the people they rule over for all of their material resources.

You can make the case that the state can take from some to give to others - it undoubtedly does this - but the empirical reality is that it primarily TAKES from the middle class and GIVES to the middle class. This is of course no accident, as the poor are as a rule unable to organize and articulate their interests.

Anarchy is undeniable, because one must ask just WHO is watching over the watchers? If one says "the people in a democracy", then they are essentially positing a checks-and-balances argument, where nobody rules over anyone else: anarchy. If this isn't the case, and nobody is watching the watchers, then they are self-enforcing. This is called anarchy. It's inescapable. It's simply a matter of degree to which anarchy exists. Most actual "anarchists" want to push it to the max.

Dipper

Dain - I disagree. I just think your argument is woolly.

Consider the recent story about the British Embassy in Pakistan. Girls in their early teens are being sent to Pakistan to be forcibly married. Many girls object, and the British Embassy has acted to rescue them from the situations in which they find themselves.

I think this is a good example of how a state can act to protect individual liberty. The absence of the state has not lead to some wonderful anarchic Utopia, but has lead to real oppression. What's your take on this?

Dain

My take would be that "wonderful...Utopia" is a straw man.

The state can be nothing more than the aggregate of the goodness/darkness in the hearts and minds of the individuals that make it up.

As for the example of the British embassy, this isn't an example of the poor organizing on their own behalf, but of a wealthier strata of society coming to their rescue. This is all to the good, but doesn't refute my argument about the state being ultimately about the interests of the relatively wealthy. In this case the interests of the poor and the wealthy converge, but it's the wealthy doing the rescuing. There is a plethora of examples of the well intentioned westerner getting the interests of the poor "other" completely wrong.

I don't think you've answered my criticism of the de facto existence of anarchy in some degree. We either have rule by "the people" - keeping the government in check via transparency, etc. - in which case nobody "rules" anybody else (anarchy), or there is indeed a largely autonomous ruling class, in which case the absence of a "meta-ruler" and the reality of cooperation among members of the ruling class is testimony to a mistaken notion of the "chaos" of anarchy. In reality it is rather ordered (well, depending on the habits and norms of the society in question).

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