There are no free societies

April 29, 2014 § 97 Comments

Politics is the art of resolving conflicts which arise in communities when different people have different views on what ought to be done. Politics is therefore essentially  about discriminating between different notions of what ought to be done, exercising authority in favor of some choices while restricting others, and enforcing that authority with whatever formal or informal political apparatus is in place.

So in any given political state of affairs, many choices will be available and many will not.  Those who would prefer to make choices which are permitted, and have those choices supported politically (through courts, police, social convention and approval, etc), will see the situation as free.  Those who would prefer to make choices which are forbidden, however, will inherently see the situation as unfree.

Ultimately, then, there is no such thing as a “free society” in some general sense. There are only societies where what is permitted and forbidden is aligned with the good, and societies where what is permitted and forbidden is not aligned with the good.

There are good and bad societies, but there is no such thing as free or unfree societies.

§ 97 Responses to There are no free societies

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Surely some freedoms, such as freedom of conscience or of political discussion (there can not be politics in the first place without this freedom) are themselves components of the Good.

    Conflicts in a community may be resolved either politically, i..e through arguments or by brute force. Societies that lack political process may be called ‘unfree’. Such as Stalinist USSR or North Korea.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    Vishmehr24,

    I think the question is one of priority. For the traditionalist, goodness or virtue is prior to freedom because it is only by being good that we can be truly free.

    The fusionist in contrast, insists on the priority of freedom because virtue can’t or shouldn’t be coerced. The problem with this argument is that fundamentally undermines any and all moral norms. Why even have basic moral norms if it constrains my free choice into choosing the good?

  • Zippy says:

    vishmehr24:
    Politics is whatever means is used to resolve conflict: it isn’t limited to “argument”.

    Various ideas about various so-called “freedoms” have choice-constraining consequences for a whole society, including for those who would prefer things to be otherwise.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    zippy,

    To resolve conflicts by murdering one’s opponents isn’t usually called ‘Politics”.

    Eg
    “Regime-change can occur either politically or through violence. ”
    The binary “politics-violence” is real.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Zippy,
    I would recommend Belloc’s French revolution, first chapter, Political Theory of the revolution for the point that political freedom is a good of the polis itself.
    Doesn’t a polis exist for conversation about the Good?
    So there must be freedom in which such a conversation can proceed.

  • Zippy says:

    vishmehr24:
    I didn’t say that people murdering each other was politics. I was objecting to a reductionism which proposes that politics is nothing but argument. I can do that without proposing a particular “bright line” between politics and war myself: it isn’t necessary to oppose reductionism with an alternative reductionism in order to refute it.

    Concretely, for example, when police enforce the law that is an arm of politics; and the actions of police are not limited to argument alone. Therefore, quod et demonstrandum, politics does not reduce to argument alone.

    As for “free political speech”, what it appears to mean is a license to engage in verbal sedition without consequences as long as that verbal sedition is liberal. This obviously constrains the kind of society possible: people who prefer liberal incoherence and the triumph of the will will see it as “free”, whereas people who prefer otherwise will see it as unfree. So injecting the slogan “freedom” into it at all is merely to beg the question in favor of liberalism.

  • Mike T says:

    Within the exercise of authority, there are degrees of respect for freedom. An authority can give you freedom to join a profession without formal qualification under liability for negligence that’s fairly strict, impose basic licensure or go so far as to require very expensive formal education, licensure and place strict liability all over the professional’s misconduct. There is within that a distinction in terms of freedom. One is substantially less restrictive while another makes it impossible for many qualified men to pursue that work due to inability to afford the education. That’s just one example.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    On the other hand, professionals in a well regulated field will feel more free to practice without the presence of trespassing charlatans, and the public will feel more free to rely on professional standards being in place. This is similar to how farming is so much freer from the farmer’s perspective when property rights are strictly enforced; although the same situation seems less free to potential trespassers, squatters, environmentalists, etc.

    “Political freedom” is a pointless inherently relativistic obsession of liberals precisely because it distracts us from the good, the true, and the beautiful and makes preferences paramount.

    Or at least it makes the preferences of faithful liberals paramount. The preferences of the oppressor-untermensch don’t matter.

  • Zippy says:

    Politics just is the resolution of conflicts via discrimination by authority. Those who lose will always feel less free; those who win will feel more free.

    That’s why it is ridiculous to ask whether (e.g. ) enforcing property rights in a particular way makes people more free or treats people equally. It never does those things as something independent from what is substantively morally right: from justice. What matters politically is the good, period.

  • Svar says:

    Zippy, what do you think about Edmund Burke’s idea of “ordered liberty”. From what I recall he was a classical conservative like you or Joseph Maistre.

  • Zippy says:

    Svar:
    My impression is that Burke was more of a ‘fusionist’ than me. (Like Chesterton, Belloc, and their lot he also did not have the benefit of hindsight from 2014).

    I think a little bit of political liberalism is like being a little bit pregnant: it doesn’t show much in the first trimester.

  • Svar says:

    I was reading an article over at Chronicles that said that “freedom” for the American revolutionaries meant freedom from the Church which is something that I agree with. With that being said, most paleocons like those who write over at Chronicles(with the exception of the few Catholic monarchists) tend to be classically conservative-leaning fusionists as do some of the men at the Orthosphere. I am stating this because it’s all confusing and I partly thing that the outdated Left-Right dictonomy used in this country is adding to my confusion. For instance, if I believed highschool propaganda I would believe that the 1776 project was a classically liberal project based off of Greek democracy and Roman republicanism. But I personally doubt that to be the case because those two forms of government were implemented before the “Enlightenment” and that the founding fathers of America distorted or misinterpreted the past to fit their liberal pretensions(the same thing is being done with modern liberals with just about any issues but especially homosexuality).

    I personally think that movement similar to the Falangist movements of Spain, Lebanon, and Latin America or the National Integralist movement of Portugal is the best system but I am personally rather undecided what system is the best and whether or not a new system should be devised to fit both the temporal and eternal principles of life.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Zippy,
    ” when police enforce the law that is an arm of politics”

    In free societies, police apprehends criminals not political opponents.

  • Zippy says:

    vishmehr24:
    You do have a talent for adamantly refusing to get the point. Politics determines what the positive law requires, what is criminal, and therefore what the police enforce. (That’s why for example the Constitution grants Congress powers to “enforce” various things, not just to “argue about” various things).

    I realize that your position falls apart if politics is not reductively demarcated at argument alone; but politics is not in fact reductively demarcated at argument alone.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    There is a category “political criminals”.

    What I know is there are USA, Britain, India et al on one side and
    USSR, North Korea, Maoist China et al on the other side.

    There are no or very few political prisoners in the first category and are or were millions of them in the second category.

    I would say that you are engaging in reduction. You are denying the category of political crime and confounding it with crime (general).

  • Zippy says:

    vishmehr24:
    I’m not confounding anything. You are just throwing things I didn’t say at the wall as a red herring.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    That there are free and unfree societies has been recognized in Western thought ever since Herodotus.

  • That there are free and unfree societies has been recognized in Western thought ever since Herodotus

    Translation: I just named dropped a famous guy who disagrees with Zippy. He’s also from a long time ago.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Authority, ideally, is self-enforcing. That an authority is obliged to enforce itself, is a defect in the authority. The defect means that the authority is not regarded or recognized as the authority.
    Thus, coercion is extraneous to the notion of authority.

    Because a law-abiding people would accept the authority and would not require coercion.
    And to the outlaws and criminals alone, the authority appears as a coercive power.

  • Zippy says:

    Here is a comprehensive list of functional real world societies, past and present, which don’t authoritatively discriminate and whose politics involve only argument, with no enforcement of authority:

  • jf12 says:

    @Zippy, on the other hand, laziness often compensates for authoritarianism. I cannot back out of my driveway without technically violating the letter of a half dozen motor vehicle regulations. But most of us folks on my block practice “rolling stops” at the corner stop sign anyway.

  • Zippy says:

    jf12:
    I think it is true that the more the sovereign micromanages everyday behavior, the more he undermines his own credibility if not necessarily the legitimacy of his authority.

    (Of course liberal sovereigns undermine the legitimacy of their own authority in much more fundamental ways).

    The more diverse a society becomes, the less folks can count on preemptive conflict resolution through tradition, strong implicit mutual understanding, and social consensus. Therefore with diversity comes greater formal micromanagement by government.

    It follows that – ceteris paribus, with all the appropriate caveats – the more diverse a society becomes, the more dysfunctional and anti-subsidiarity it becomes.

    All of that is distinct from the point made by the OP though.

  • jf12 says:

    “All of that is distinct from the point made by the OP though.” Kind of. No sharp lines of distinction …

    There are freer societies, for example one in which that those things which are not enforcedly forbidden (of which there are fewer things) are permitted by at least toleration, as contrasted with unfreer societies, e.g. in which those things which are not permitted are intolerantly forbidden.

    “The more diverse a society becomes, the less folks can count on preemptive conflict resolution through tradition, strong implicit mutual understanding, and social consensus.” Unless one preemptively REQUIRES mutual understanding, for example by forbidding the filing of frivolous lawsuits, penalizing excessive tort claims, publically shaming road rage, etc. In my example if one new neighbor decided to camp out at the stop sign and document everyone running it, that new neighbor should not be invited to any bbqs, and be told why. Any we could bribe the kids to toilet-roll his house.

  • Zippy says:

    jf12:

    There are freer societies, …

    Only relatively speaking: that is, whether a given society is freer or less free depends on who you are and what your preferences happen to be. A society that is freer for Occupy Oscar is less free for Libertarian Larry, and vice versa.

    That’s why I keep pointing out that there is – and I mean this quite literally – no such thing as a “free society” in absolute terms.

    “But it is only bad people who aren’t free to satisfy their preferences in a good society” is the de-facto objection. But the objection itself proves my point: that there are no “free” societies, only good societies and bad societies.

  • Zippy says:

    Liberalism, of course, makes the equal satisfaction of whatever peoples’ preferences happen to be the priority rather than the satisfaction of objectively good preferences, that is, the good.

    This turns out to be self-contradictory; so the logic of liberalism explodes and liberal regimes end up instantiating the triumph of the will. This manifests itself in different ways depending on the actual context and on what is considered to be “common sense” without fundamentally challenging liberalism.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    Why did you use the word “politics”–with it’s bevy of meanings–instead of the word “governance”?

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    As an editorial choice “politics” connotes (at least in my mind) the actions of both sovereign and subjects, whereas “governance” is focused on the sovereign’s actions as distinct. The two women approaching Solomon – the actions of the women – are politics but not governance. Solomon’s actions are both.

  • Svar says:

    I thought politics was best defined as power struggle between differing group. I must say, I hate how words have so many subjective meanings to the point where no one know what everyone else is saying.

  • jf12 says:

    “Liberalism, of course, makes the equal satisfaction of whatever peoples’ preferences happen to be the priority rather than the satisfaction of objectively good preferences, that is, the good.” Great definition, btw.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Solzhenitsyn writes of one escapee from gulag that he went to British India “where there was freedom”.

    We must suppose Solzhenitsyn was a liberal.

  • Zippy says:

    If we are comparing imprisonment to freedom, Edward Snowden recently escaped the United States to Russia “where there was freedom”. There are more than two million prisoners in United States prisons.

    So the issue isn’t that some societies imprison people while some magical utopian ones don’t. The issue is whether a society imprisons people justly.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    Vishmehr24,

    I tend to think that many Indians would have disputed Solzhenitsyn’s declaration.

    Zippy,

    I should have posted this link in response to some of the recent right-liberal hysterics at the Orthosphere- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_of_1876%E2%80%9378

  • Zippy, I’d like to add something about Burke. I think you are right that he was a bit of a fusionist, but like you say, he did not have the benefit of hindsight from today. Given his time, he did probably about as well as he could in his attempts to make an increasingly liberal people consider the conservation of tradition and order. I think it is true that Burke’s attempt to “baptize” the Glorious Revolution was an exercise in wishful thinking, as was his disciple Kirk’s similar attempt on the American Revolution. However, we owe both men a great deal for their work.

  • Zippy says:

    Patrick Button:
    Agreed.

  • Mike T says:

    On the other hand, professionals in a well regulated field will feel more free to practice without the presence of trespassing charlatans, and the public will feel more free to rely on professional standards being in place. This is similar to how farming is so much freer from the farmer’s perspective when property rights are strictly enforced; although the same situation seems less free to potential trespassers, squatters, environmentalists, etc.

    Property rights are essential to a private farmer being able to farm in the first place. If he has no claim to the land, he has no claim to the fruit of his labor since any improvement or use of the land doesn’t rightly fall to him. In the other case, what you have is a “freedom” that is the result of not having to face a never-ending stream of new entrants of various quality as well as having to face the pressure of the market that comes from having a lower barrier of entry. In the case I cited, it was not a licensure of a profession wherein being a charlatan can cause irreparable harm as is the case with medicine, but rather ones in which incompetence or fraud results in little more than some lost money and a headache.

    But really, the issue here is that you are trying to take liberalism to its logical conclusion and in the process are sweeping up ideas that are not inherent to liberalism into that attempt to delegitimize liberalism. As a matter of objective reality, a political authority refusing to regulate something of minimal regulatory value that some faction wants regulated is not an act against their freedom. There is no broad natural right to impose one’s will; nature only extend the authority to impose on actual authorities and one random adult has no such authority to do so on another.

    This thread feels like an attempt to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Did you just make an argument that strict enforcement of property rights is a good thing, whatever people’s preferences happen to be?

  • […] Zippy brilliantly discusses the notion of a “free” and “unfree” society. […]

  • Mike T says:

    Yes…

    As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not really much of a liberal. I do believe preferences should be cheerfully disregarded when they conflict with the good. Where I tend to agree with liberals and disagree with traditionalists is that I don’t believe submission is morally mandatory when someone suffers felonious injustice at the hands of the authorities. Mainly because our Lord was the Lion of Judah who became a lamb for a reason, not because it was in his nature to be a doormat.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Where I tend to agree with liberals and disagree with traditionalists is that I don’t believe submission is morally mandatory when someone suffers felonious injustice at the hands of the authorities.

    I don’t think this can be generalized though. Specific situations are specific situations, and the only mild generalization I would make is that I have much more sympathy for a subsidiary authority (say a father) acting on behalf of the common good of the community for which he is responsible (say his family) than I do with just an atomized individual qua individual standing up and shouting “non serviam” in some misguided rant about his “rights”.

  • Mike T says:

    I used “felonious” to make it clear that we are not talking about minor injustices, but things which reasonable men cannot excuse. Speaking of fathers, one thing that comes up from time to time in stories about families getting raided by the police is the police threatening violence against wives and children for non-compliance. Usually phrased well, more like how one might expect gang-bangers to phrase it than a police officer. I don’t care how strong the case is against the father/husband personally, as a southerner I would reflexively vote “not guilty” against any man who responded with force against such a threat.

  • Mike T says:

    By the way, speaking of micromanaging, one aspect of that is the more numerous the laws, the greater the difficulty of obeying them. It matters not how just any of them may be individually; a system in which no man can reasonably be assured of his compliance if he acts in good faith is inherently morally problematic. That is to say, if an honest man of reasonable education cannot generally ascertain what is and isn’t criminal, the moral problem is with the system, not him.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    Mike T,

    You seem to be making a similar argument as made by the rancher Cliven Bundy and Zippy aptly sums up what was “at stake” in that fiasco:

    standing up and shouting “non serviam” in some misguided rant about his “rights”.

    And right-liberals Protestants like you and Lydia McGrew think us trad-con “authoritarians” are the problem? Give me a break.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Ziipyy,
    I failed to convey my point. Solzhenitsyn was not comparing imprisonment to freedom but asserting that there was religious and political freedom in India that was missing from Russia even for non-prisoners, and also Afghanistan (that the escapee needed to cross to reach India).

    Ita Scripta Est,
    India was politically a part of British Empire, true, but that in itself does not make the India “unfree”. India has often been under foreign imperial domination. Yet from 19C onwards English had introduced local municipal govt to Indian towns and in 1935 elections were held for provincial assemblies. The Indian nationalists did win power in many provinces.

  • King Richard says:

    In the end Liberalism is about the removal of restraints, including the removal of the restraints of hierarchy, leadership, servanthood, duty, honor, and morals. Regardless of whatever ephemeral framework erected by various adherents, it is ultimately just “I want/I don’t want” as an ideology.

  • CJ says:

    And right-liberals Protestants like you and Lydia McGrew think us trad-con “authoritarians” are the problem? Give me a break.

    This is hilarious given how much Mike gets on Lydia’s nerves over at W4.

    I find these discussions both fascinating and helpful because it’s really hard to know where to draw these lines. On the one hand, I think Cliven Bundy and the vast majority of tax protestors are full of it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind tarring and feathering cops responsible for some of the egregious abuses that are reported from time to time. If there’s one thing that keeps me from embracing trad-connery whole-heartedly, it’s the lack of (temporal) consequences for abuse of authority.

  • Mike T says:

    You seem to be making a similar argument as made by the rancher Cliven Bundy and Zippy aptly sums up what was “at stake” in that fiasco:

    Well, let’s see. Cliven Bundy stopped paying a fair fee to use public lands, had multiple run-ins with law enforcement under legitimate trespass laws and during those first few incidents they showed great restraint in making claims against his property. His “argument” is that he doesn’t have to pay the fee because states’ rights. As an ardent supporter of states’ rights, I fully support the federal enforcement against him because regardless of the merits and justice of turning that land back to Nevada, the fact remains it’s legitimate federal territory. F#$%er got caught trespassing for profit.

    But you’re right, that compares neatly with the scenario I raised which has been reported a disturbing number of times. Namely, a SWAT unit raiding a home over legal minutia (stuff that would have been textbook de minimus 50 years ago) and doing stuff like throwing children to the ground and screaming profanity like “motherf#$%er, I’ll shoot you if you don’t stop resisting” at said children.

  • Mike T says:

    If there’s one thing that keeps me from embracing trad-connery whole-heartedly, it’s the lack of (temporal) consequences for abuse of authority.

    For me, any ideology that says a man who witnesses the king making a serious pass at his wife cannot legitimately assault the king is an ideology that has no legitimacy. At the end of the day, my suspicion is that tradconnery is much like an inverse of liberalism not a real alternative. Where one focuses obsessively about “freedom and equality” the other focuses equally obsessively about “hierarchy and authority.”

  • Zippy says:

    I hate to break it to you, but it is illegal to assault people who do things you don’t like right here and now.

  • King Richard says:

    “…any ideology that says a man who witnesses the king making a serious pass at his wife cannot legitimately assault the king is an ideology that has no legitimacy.”
    As Zippy said, it isn’t legitimate to assault *anyone* making a pass at your wife. Your example says much more about you than tradcons

  • Mike T says:

    You two are going to seriously argue that in pre-modern times it was socially unacceptable for a husband to assault a man making a serious pass at his wife? Even today, in most of the US, that can form a valid starting point for a fighting words defense depending on how offensive the other man’s conduct is.

  • Mike T says:

    I can’t speak for other regions, but generally in the South fighting words are taken seriously. Courts tend to be rather lenient when you goad another man into fighting you with offensive conduct. I’m sure that’s just a sign of how Godless we southerners are.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    I hadn’t noticed anyone arguing anything at all about pre-modern times.

    It is an interesting data point about your views that you categorically require legalized assault based on a “them’s fighting words” standard.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    But you’re right, that compares neatly with the scenario I raised which has been reported a disturbing number of times. Namely, a SWAT unit raiding a home over legal minutia (stuff that would have been textbook de minimus 50 years ago) and doing stuff like throwing children to the ground and screaming profanity like “motherf#$%er, I’ll shoot you if you don’t stop resisting” at said children.

    I actually think the government showed remarkable restraint. The family’s behavior and beliefs necessitated such a show of force. All the lunatic milita men showing up bearing down their AR-15s on the BLM looked pretty ridiculous. But then American history is full of such examples.

    I would also like to note that the Bundy’s are Mormons. So this “the Constitution is divinely inspired” argument they make makes sense when placed in that context. I don’t understand why some Catholics think Mormons are “great allies” Mormons are a literal sect of America’s civil theology.

  • Mike T says:

    Ita Scripta Est,

    I agree. Considering how aggressive the Bundy family was in asserting absolutely fictitious rights, the government was entitled to consider more forceful options.

    Zippy,

    It is an interesting data point about your views that you categorically require legalized assault based on a “them’s fighting words” standard.

    I never said legalized anything. I was, however, too vague. What I was referring to was a moral obligation. That is to say, an ideology which says “if the king is trying to get your wife to f#$% him right in front of you, you have to just meekly take it.” Meaning he’s so special that even the most basic moral rules can be violated and all you can meekly do is beg him to not violate them.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Zippy,
    Are your views well-represented by the definition of Justice as minding one’s own business?

    That is, in a society where people mind their own business, the freedom that is proper to individuals and families and Churches naturally obtains.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    It is always such fun to see how your mind works. Your original statement was,
    “For me, any ideology that says a man who witnesses the king making a serious pass at his wife cannot legitimately assault the king is an ideology that has no legitimacy”
    Then it morphed into,
    “You two are going to seriously argue that in pre-modern times it was socially unacceptable for a husband to assault a man making a serious pass at his wife?”
    [I suspect that if I were to start bringing out actual case law from the common law courts of Europe and Asia that show that no, a pass at your wife was neither a “legitimate” nor “socially acceptable” reason for assault ‘pre-modern- would glide further and further back]
    And then it became,
    “I never said legalized anything. I was, however, too vague. What I was referring to was a moral obligation. That is to say, an ideology which says “if the king is trying to get your wife to f#$% him right in front of you, you have to just meekly take it.” Meaning he’s so special that even the most basic moral rules can be violated and all you can meekly do is beg him to not violate them.”
    Now, I know you are capable of simply stating that your use of ‘legitimate’ and reference to courts accepting it do NOT mean you were making a claim of legality although you obviously *were*; so let me just state – you were making a claim of social and legal acceptance and it is too obvious to deny and too late to back out.
    But let’s take a look at what we can learn about your stated thoughts on the matter of legitimate authority, hierarchy, social structure, etc.

    1) You think that if a man makes a pass at your wife the possible responses are binary – you either physically assault the speaker or you are a downtrodden peon.
    2) You think physical assault over words you don’t like is, or should be, legally and socially acceptable
    3) This is because you believe physically assaulting a man for offending you with words is a ‘basic moral obligation’
    3) Your only real stated complaint about tradcons is if the king were to flirt with your wife you might not be able to assault him.

    That’s pretty thin gruel even for a Liberal position.

    And please stop invoking “The South” – I am familiar enough with the law to understand that the American ‘fighting words doctrine’ is NOT a defense against the person initiating violence being charged with a crime but rather are usually the basis for a separate charge against the person uttering them.Or, in a similar sense, ‘incitement to riot is no excuse for a riot’.

    Listen, I understand – you want to do what you want to do; you never want to think of someone else as being in charge of you; you do not want to contemplate that rights and privileges come with duties and obligations *and* that those duties and obligations include the duty and obligation to obey. After all, those are the default Liberal and Modernist positions.

    I do have a question or two, though. Should your wife obey you? Should your children? What about a 17 year old son? Does a parent have the right to spank their child? What about a 17 year old son? Should a sergeant obey a captain? What id the order is to perform a mission that is probably lethal?

  • Mike T says:

    King Richard,

    I qualified my statement such that it precluded merely flirting. So my question for you is why do you take the modern position that a husband has no legal right to make enforceable demands that others not try to get his wife to violate her vows?

    But really, this has nothing to do with me wanting to do ad I please, but rather being unwilling to support an authority that is in the act of committing grave misconduct. That you believe a man should not even be able to tell a king to stay the hell away from his wife shows that you respect authority more than the moral law.

  • Mike T says:

    Legal or moral right

  • Zippy says:

    vishmehr24:
    Taken literally, “minding your own business” is what everyone should do, especially in the context of subsidiarity. Interpreted as “let everyone do what they want” though it quickly goes off the rails. The legitimate business of authority is to foster the common good of communities, that doesn’t mean just letting everyone do what they want all the time (which is just anarchy, that is, the abolishment of authority) and “mind your own business” in practice quickly degenerates into a slogan like “live and let live”. These make nice sentiments for well-separated neighbors on the frontier who never come into conflict, but, when taken as a political doctrine, are tantamount to malevolently self-contradictory liberalism.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    An alienation of affection tort is an entirely different matter from legally sanctioned assault.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    “I qualified my statement such that it precluded merely flirting”
    I quoted you directly, Mike,
    “…a serious pass…”
    “…a serious pass …”
    And I never used the word ‘flirting’. Stop trying to change your own words or add to mine.

    “…why do you take the modern position that a husband has no legal right to make enforceable demands that others not try to get his wife to violate her vows?”
    I made no such claim or statement. This is a distraction and has no bearing on my points. If you wish to know my positions, ask.

    “But really, this has nothing to do with me wanting to do ad I please, but rather being unwilling to support an authority that is in the act of committing grave misconduct”
    You have yet to add any support to your assertion that ‘making a pass’ is ‘grave misconduct’. You have yet to support your repeated claim that there is a moral obligation that allows you to assault people who say things you don’t like.

    “That you believe a man should not even be able to tell a king to stay the hell away from his wife shows that you respect authority more than the moral law.”
    I never said this nor implied this.

    Mike, I have noted this before in other threads. You are not responding to what I wrote, you are responding to what you *think* I wrote – and what you think I wrote is very different than what I *actually* wrote. Further, you do not support any of your statements with anything serious. You repeat, you change definitions, you change topic, and you attempt to make it about others, but you do not *answer*

    I asked very direct questions that can be answered with simple yes or not responses. Care to address them?

  • Mike T says:

    You have yet to add any support to your assertion that ‘making a pass’ is ‘grave misconduct’. You have yet to support your repeated claim that there is a moral obligation that allows you to assault people who say things you don’t like.

    Perhaps the fault is on my end. I’ve been trying to make it clear to you that I am referring to a rather aggressive attempt to bed another man’s wife. If you don’t see how a concerted effort to make a married woman commit adultery is a grave sin, then I don’t know what to tell you. Perhaps you don’t feel that way, but it strikes me as odd that you characterize a deliberate attempt to bed a married woman as something which I must first establish as a grave matter. Also, you quoted me, but you continued to address it as “a pass” when I specifically added a qualifier to it to convey that we are not talking about flirting, but a rather serious attempt. So I’m not sure what you were trying to convey there, but my meaning should have been at least reasonably clear.

    And no, I’m not saying it should be a first resort. I am, however, saying that any ideology which takes it off the table is illegitimate in my opinion just as one that crucifies someone for harming a spouse caught in flagrante is sufficiently divorced from the human condition to be legitimate.

    do have a question or two, though. Should your wife obey you? Should your children? What about a 17 year old son? Does a parent have the right to spank their child? What about a 17 year old son? Should a sergeant obey a captain? What id the order is to perform a mission that is probably lethal?

    Yes, on all counts as all of those are legitimate actions by authority. What I have been saying through this is that I do not agree that we must passively non-comply with a gross abuse of authority. I used an act of attempted or actualized adultery by a monarch as an example because sexual misconduct tends to be less ambiguous to Christians. Where you and I seem to disagree, is that I think that if the king is successfully seducing your wife, and you cannot get him to relent as you pull your wife away that you have a right to knock his lights out. His being a monarch does not, in my opinion, give him one iota of a right to pursue sexual relations with someone else’s wife. It also does not provide him any more moral coverage from the consequences than it would the poorest commoner in the realm.

    Apologies for not satisfying your questions earlier. Writing on a small tablet over a cup of coffee as my development environment gets set up in the morning is a real PITA sometimes…

  • Mike T says:

    * by gross abuse of authority, I’m primarily speaking of violent and sexual misconduct. I would like to think that if you saw a police officer kicking the head in of a suspect already handcuffed and pacified that you’d take whatever forceful action necessary to save the arrestee’s life and limb.

  • Mike T says:

    So I’m curious, King Richard, if you witnessed a monarch order an unequivocal murder of an innocent man in your presence, would you be willing to take whatever action necessary to stop it?

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    I don’t claim to speak for “trads” or any “movement”, but I don’t get where the panic over trads supporting abuse of authority comes from. I realize that liberalism sells itself as the onliest bulwark against abuse of authority: the narrative that if it weren’t for feminism women would just be brood mares getting raped all the time, for example. What I don’t understand though is why anyone who isn’t a raving liberal nutbar should buy into that narrative.

  • Mike T says:

    What I don’t understand is why you assume that criticism of tradcons can only come from a liberal background. It’s rather obvious that my argument for a moral right to stand up against severe abuses of authority does not come from liberalism as it is not a right of rebellion, but defense of natural rights (self-defense, property and familial authority).

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    I just frankly don’t know whose position or words you are criticizing. I don’t know of anyone who is advocating abuse of authority.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    Let me quote you directly again. Your initial statement was,
    “For me, any ideology that says a man who witnesses the king making a serious pass at his wife cannot legitimately assault the king is an ideology that has no legitimacy”
    Now, let me be very clear – neither I nor Zippy nor other here took this as an ambiguous statement and it seems very clear.
    Your most recent statement on the topic was,
    “…I am referring to a rather aggressive attempt to bed another man’s wife…. And no, I’m not saying it [physical assault] should be a first resort”
    This is a rather different statement. Yes – it is.
    You go on to state,
    ” …any ideology which takes it [physical assault] off the table is illegitimate in my opinion just as one that crucifies someone for harming a spouse caught in flagrante is sufficiently divorced from the human condition to be legitimate.”
    This is a radically different statement.

    Now that you have heavily modified your your statement from ‘making a serious pass’ and immediate physical assault as the response to
    ‘if a king takes a lot of time and effort and despite your other efforts your wife is letting herself be seduced physical violence is the legitimate response in the eyes of virtually anyone I think TradCons are illegitimate because they say in that clear case violence is not possible’ my response is….
    Who said that? Now that you have your imaginary scenario all set up to ludicrous depth with all sorts of modifiers and qualifiers – what TradCon told you that you couldn’t do that? No, don’t point to some historical figure from a period of relaxed morals that TradCons ALSO oppose. And no, the “neo-reactionaries” of the “Dark Enlightenment” probably don’t count, either, if they have even addressed such a topic.Because as far as I can tell, no one has.
    Why? Because all men are bound by natural law and this is a key element of Traditional Conservative morality and (yes) political theory.

    You go on,
    ” Where you and I seem to disagree, is that I think that if the king is successfully seducing your wife, and you cannot get him to relent as you pull your wife away that you have a right to knock his lights out.”
    Let me be blunt – you have no idea what I think about this scenario and, thus, have no idea whether I agree or not. First, your descriptions before this do not match the scenario above.
    Second, you tend to (inaccurately) tell me what I think, believe, and even get what I say incorrect.
    No, really, go back and re-read. All I have been saying is that physical assault on *anyone* for saying things you don’t like isn’t legitimate.
    To be clear, sure – if some guy is so sexually aggressive that you can’t separate him from your wife when you are *physically dragging her away* you probably *need* to punch him and call the cops.
    But that isn’t the picture you painted when you started.

    You ask,
    ” if you witnessed a monarch order an unequivocal murder of an innocent man in your presence, would you be willing to take whatever action necessary to stop it?”
    No – I would not take “any action”. I would take any moral action. Would I order the king’s immediate arrest? Sure. Warn all and sundry the order was illegal and immoral and that they could not obey? Certainly. Would I kill 12 innocent children to stop it? No.

    You wrote,
    “What I don’t understand is why you assume that criticism of tradcons can only come from a liberal background. It’s rather obvious that my argument for a moral right to stand up against severe abuses of authority does not come from liberalism as it is not a right of rebellion, but defense of natural rights (self-defense, property and familial authority).”
    A few reasons,
    – Your initial example wasn’t a ‘severe abuse of authority’.
    [No, the king sauntering up to your wife at a party and saying ‘Hey, babe. I’m rich, I’m powerful, and I am good-looking. Wanna’ f&*k?’ is not a severe abuse of authority. Caddish? Rude? Immature? Immoral? Sinful? Sure, all those. But not an abuse of authority, even if your wife accepts.]
    – The moral right to oppose and resist abuses of authority is so ingrained and assumed by TradCons that suggesting that it isn’t part and parcel of the worldview is to mark yourself as an outsider. It is as if you went to an Arsenal fan and chewed him out for encouraging Man to cheat – it makes no sense and is vaguely insulting.
    – You demonstrate the narrow, binary thinking common to Liberals. You seem to think that the TradCon position is that the King can do whatever he wants and the average person is a downtrodden peon and the alternative is – Liberalism.
    – As mentioned obliquely above, you seem ignorant of actual TradCon positions yet insist on arguing against them.

    I am more than willing to *tell* you what I think. Indeed, maybe I will talk to Zippy about that

  • jf12 says:

    Re: assault in defense of virtue being no vice, or something. Besides “a fighting words” justification, a newer thoughtcrime justification is prevention of harassment. It’s currently taught to be a Citoyen’s cultural duty to physically intervene any time any woman is flirted with, by a hetero man.

  • Mike T says:

    No, really, go back and re-read. All I have been saying is that physical assault on *anyone* for saying things you don’t like isn’t legitimate.
    To be clear, sure – if some guy is so sexually aggressive that you can’t separate him from your wife when you are *physically dragging her away* you probably *need* to punch him and call the cops.
    But that isn’t the picture you painted when you started.

    I can’t help what I painted in your mind. All I know is that “pulling someone away” doesn’t, at least not in vernacular English, default to a physical act of grabbing someone.

    But since apparently, I need be clearer, if you deal with such a man with civility at first as you try to extricate your wife from the situation, and he refuses to relent either verbally or physically he becomes an unjust aggressor. Once a man has been warned to leave a married woman alone and he persists in any fashion, he can be dealt with as an aggressor. Adultery is one of the most serious sins a human being can commit. It is closer to murder than a faux pas.

    [No, the king sauntering up to your wife at a party and saying ‘Hey, babe. I’m rich, I’m powerful, and I am good-looking. Wanna’ f&*k?’ is not a severe abuse of authority. Caddish? Rude? Immature? Immoral? Sinful? Sure, all those. But not an abuse of authority, even if your wife accepts.]

    It is an abuse of his position, which he is using as leverage to get what he wants the same way most fat and bald CEOs have no trouble seducing a hot 25 year old secretary when they want to cheat.

    – You demonstrate the narrow, binary thinking common to Liberals. You seem to think that the TradCon position is that the King can do whatever he wants and the average person is a downtrodden peon and the alternative is – Liberalism.

    I never said that tradcons believe that. What I implied is that tradcons’ priorities are to err on the side of authority over individual freedom, and that manifests in part as tending to be willing to tolerate abuse of authority.

    Let me be blunt – you have no idea what I think about this scenario and, thus, have no idea whether I agree or not. First, your descriptions before this do not match the scenario above.

    Funny how when I do to you what you and Ita Scripta Est freely do to me, it stings, doesn’t it? You fired the first such salvo in this fight and now you can’t complain when I respond in kind.

  • Mike T says:

    Or rather, to say that an abuse of authority is not in fact an abuse of authority. You displayed that quite well by justifying a wholesale disarmament of two English-speaking populations.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    What I implied is that tradcons’ priorities are to err on the side of authority over individual freedom…

    This “individual freedom” thing you keep talking about doesn’t exist outside a context of the good, and authority concomitant to the good. You are setting up the false dichotomy of the liberal, which is why you keep getting interpreted as liberal.

    It isn’t the kind of thing where it is possible to “err on one side or the other”, unless the two sides are reason and unreason.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you that I mean the title of this post quite literally.

    Men who prefer to hit on whatever women they want to without consequences will prefer one sort of society, and see it as freer. Men who prefer that there be consequences for men hitting on other mens’ wives will prefer a different sort of society, and see it as freer. There is no “erring on the side of freedom” possible in some general sense, because at any given point in the phase space of possible societies there will always be people whose preferences entail that that point is unfree (or less free), and others whose preferences will entail that that point is free (or more free).

    This “freedom” concept you keep invoking is substantively empty: it means literally nothing outside of the context of some authoritative concept of the good which trumps it absolutely.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    “if you deal with such a man with civility at first as you try to extricate your wife from the situation…” etc., etc., etc.
    Yeah – if you read what I actually wrote (again) you will see that I agree with *this* position. Indeed, the post I made before this was explicit.
    “It is an abuse of his position”
    Which is different than an abuse of authority, isn’t it? Of course it is.

    This nest quote, though, is the real money quote.
    “What I implied is that tradcons’ priorities are to err on the side of authority over individual freedom…”



    *Sigh*. You know what you call ‘erring on the side of legitimate authority over individual freedom’?
    ‘”Conservatism”
    You know what you call ‘erring on the side of individual freedom over legitimate authority’?
    “Liberalism”

    So, very simply, directly, and very clearly, your complaint about Conservatives is that they are Conservatives, not Liberals.
    This means your objection is from a Liberal position.

    And here we go again,
    “You displayed that quite well by justifying a wholesale disarmament of two English-speaking populations”
    As I stated about 5 times in that thread, I never called for or justified ANY SORT of armament, disarmament, registration, confiscation, etc. My only claims were
    1) Disarmament is not inherently immoral and
    2) Violence in a nation has more to do with its culture than its weaponry.
    Regardless of what I say or how often I repeat it you continue to argue against what you think I said

    Mike, I do not mean this as an attack nor as an insult, but based upon you inability to understand or remember what I have clearly stated and repeated I must conclude that you are either of limited capacity, dishonest, or both. Please assume from now on that I am not reading any of your comments.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    What I don’t understand is why you assume that criticism of tradcons can only come from a liberal background. It’s rather obvious that my argument for a moral right to stand up against severe abuses of authority does not come from liberalism as it is not a right of rebellion, but defense of natural rights (self-defense, property and familial authority).

    But Mike T your arguments frankly are from the liberal perspective. Indeed, in the above quote you disclaim liberalism, to only than fall back on a typical (classical) liberal argument.

  • Mike T says:

    I admit I misread what you said here:

    To be clear, sure – if some guy is so sexually aggressive that you can’t separate him from your wife when you are *physically dragging her away* you probably *need* to punch him and call the cops.
    But that isn’t the picture you painted when you started.

    I’m guilty of skim reading from time to time on threads like this. That I started a new job recently that’s demanded a considerable amount of my attention has greatly restrained the amount of time I have for casual Internet things.

    As I stated about 5 times in that thread, I never called for or justified ANY SORT of armament, disarmament, registration, confiscation, etc. My only claims were
    1) Disarmament is not inherently immoral and
    2) Violence in a nation has more to do with its culture than its weaponry.
    Regardless of what I say or how often I repeat it you continue to argue against what you think I said

    If you didn’t justify it, you certainly flirted closely with in several comments.

    Mike, I do not mean this as an attack nor as an insult, but based upon you inability to understand or remember what I have clearly stated and repeated I must conclude that you are either of limited capacity, dishonest, or both. Please assume from now on that I am not reading any of your comments.

    I suppose it never occurred to you as a possibility that many of those “position changes” were in fact attempts to elaborate on what I was trying to convey to you.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    This “freedom” concept you keep invoking is substantively empty: it means literally nothing outside of the context of some authoritative concept of the good which trumps it absolutely.

    I do understand the point of your post, and I’m not arguing that freedom of preferences can extend broadly on many things because most things have only a minor set of variations of preference that are compatible with the good. What I’m saying is that on many things, an authority can make obligations that are legitimate and aligned with the good, but do so in a pattern that results in substantially less freedom among preferences that are still aligned with the good.

    As one example, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a legitimate law. As far as I know, it is legitimate top to bottom. Nothing it does is inherently harmful to the good and it does in fact actually positive promote the good in some areas (some are debatable, to say the least). It contains stipulations that prohibit the creation of backup copies of things like DVD that are governed by DRM systems.

    Now most of the world finds this unacceptable. Indeed, most countries have strongly rejected the majority of the DMCA, and the US Government goes to great lengths to use every trade negotiation touching on IP to find some avenue to push acceptance of that regime.

    In this example, you have two valid authoritative decisions on copyright. One is a side that errs more on the side of freedom by permitting things which the DMCA prohibits, but the things prohibited by the DMCA may be prohibited as a valid exercise of authority. SOPA was significantly more restricted, but would also have been a legitimate use of authority (unfortunately).

    Fair use is another example of where authorities, on this topic, could greatly vary in how much freedom they tolerate.

    There is no “erring on the side of freedom” possible in some general sense, because at any given point in the phase space of possible societies there will always be people whose preferences entail that that point is unfree (or less free), and others whose preferences will entail that that point is free (or more free).

    I never said it was possible in a general sense. What I was saying is that within the range of possibilities that the good may permit, it’s possible for the state to take a variety of actions. It could permit broad choice, or it could outlaw all choices except the ones it formally approves.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy and King Richard,

    Upon reflection, I owe both of you an apology. I have a habit (which my wife can attest to) of making inflammatory comments just to get under people’s skin when they get on my nerves (that’s directed at King Richard, not Zippy) and then when it the spark starts a fire defending it out of pride. That’s more or less what I did here with the initial comment (and follow through) about the king hitting on another man’s wife.

    The fact is, King Richard, you have come off to me as someone who was content to attack me here from the git go. One of your first comments at me was a scathing attack that was almost non-sequitor in context to what I was discussing. But that is context now, more than anything else.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Don’t sweat it on my account.

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