A Pagan's Blog

A Pagan's Blog


A Pagan Perspective on Rand Paul, Civil Rights, and Libertarianism

posted by Gus diZerega

For a former libertarian such as myself Rand Paul’s attack
on Civil Rights legislation is to be expected, except perhaps for its political
idiocy.  For that latter quality I
am grateful because it weakens his candidacy.  But there are interesting issues floating around the
kerfluffle Paul’s comments to Rachel Maddow raised.

 More than almost any other political position, libertarians
take pride in the rational derivation of their political views from “first
principles” of human rights or some other ethical position.  The best libertarians are highly
ethical people and hold views like Paul’s with absolutely no personal racism.
They are our allies on issues of religious freedom.  Nevertheless, their position (which I used to hold, years ago)
is radically incoherent.  And why
it is incoherent is particularly important for us Pagans to consider.  But for those of you who are interested
in how this applies to Pagans but uninterested in political theory, scroll down
to Relationships Are Primary at the
bottom.


Nevertheless it explains why not
only am I no longer a libertarian as I was in my youth, but why no libertarian could be a hard-core libertarian if they are intellectually rigorous.  Coming from a Pagan perspective, where
the world has value beyond what we assign to it makes this critique more persuasive, but it applies to secular libertarian individualists as well.

Libertarians base their criticisms
of anti-discrimination laws on property rights.  Assuming just property rights, they argue, any voluntary
transaction between consenting adults is OK, and any coerced act impinges on their freedom.  The critical issues are
that the property be justly held and the transactions be voluntary.  It all sounds very noble and
principled, and noble and principled people believe this – as well as some who are neither.

But there is a gorilla in the
closet, one that reduces the argument about the injustice of civil rights
regulations on private businesses, or equivalent measures to so much hokum.

The problem is where the argument starts- it assumes “just” property rights without ever figuring out very seriously why
one set of rights is just and another is not.  A key assumption is that property comes in tight little packets with
easily discernable boundaries we can either choose to respect or to aggress against.  And this assumption is simply wrong.  I will give two examples that, when thought about, reduce rigorous libertarianism to gibberish.

Letting Some Light Shine on the
Matter

You and I are next door
neighbors.  I like loud stereos and
play my music at all hours.  You
like to keep your back yard brightly lit by floodlights all night long because
you have a paranoid fear of prowlers and burglars. (I pick the examples, so I
am the less neurotic of the two of us in them.)  I like to watch the stars in the night sky and you are a
light sleeper and open the windows on hot nights.

Each of us is a problem for the
other.  Each of us refuses
reasonable compromises, saying our property is ours to do with as we will. I have a “right” to watch stars from my back yard and to play my music.  You retort you have a right to illuminate your backyard and get a good night’s sleep.

Clearly each of us is in the wrong
because, in libertarian terms, we aggress across another’s boundaries, I with
my loud music. You with your bright lights.  But in the day time far more light pours into my yard, and
if you had your floodlights on, no noticeable harm would be done.  During the day, when the environment is
far noisier, my music is lost in the din. 
This leads to certain important questions anti-government libertarian
theory has no way of answering in such a way as to morally commit the loser to
following the principle arrived at.

1. How much light constitutes too
much?  At what hour, if any, does
this change?

2. How much sound constitutes too
much?  At what hour, if any, does
this change?

The way we do it in a democratic
community is have people elected by fair rules ultimately be responsible for
setting noise and light ordinances. 
As a rule they do this based on a sensitivity to community standards as
to what constitutes appropriate behavior. 
That way losers will usually feel the procedure was fair even if they
did not like this particular outcome. 
It is an attitude that helps preserve civilization.  What makes it fair? At least at some
point everyone had equal input on the matter of either deciding the law or
deciding who will decide the law.

Clearing the Air

The next example is quite real,
and the principle it spotlights is not all that unusual.  Missoula, Montana
sits in between mountains where, once the population grew big enough, the air
became increasingly dangerous from trapped wood smoke hanging over the city in
the winter.  Originally there were
too few people for this to matter, and everyone had wood burning stoves. (Wood
is plentiful and cheap.)  As
Missoula’s population grew people with breathing difficulties increasingly had trouble, and some might die prematurely from the pollution.  Burning wood, a use of property once harmless and practiced universally, had become dangerous once
enough people did it.

Missoula’s city government banned
the use of wood burning stoves and fireplaces in new buildings.  The air would remain dirtier than some
liked but far cleaner than some would have preferred so long as they could have
a fireplace.  ANY point between
zero regulation and no regulation could be criticized as inferior to some other
point along some principle or another. 
Air that interfered with some people’s views might still be safe enough
to tolerate.

What matters in such cases where a
range of options can appear reasonable is that the procedure for deciding the
issue be regarded as fair.  Democratic procedures are more fair
than unanimity because, as James Madison pointed out, requiring more than a
majority can hold a majority hostage to an unprincipled minority, as California
and the US Senate have both discovered to their sorrow.  Anything requiring less than a majority
means a minority could rule.

Relationships Are Primary

Property rights are not between me
and what I own, they are between me and you.  They facilitate cooperation.  Robinson Crusoe did not need them until Friday came
along.  They draw the line between appropriate
relationships and inappropriate relationships.  These principles are not “objective” but they are
fundamental to human life, and they need to be determined by some means.  Democratic principles have been found
to be the most fair way to do so because losers on a particular issue can
believe they get a fair shake, and might even be winners the net time around.Therefore they can peacefully accept decisions with which they disagree.

In general, libertarians appear
to be intellectually rigorous in their
thinking because they dodge the tough initial issues, assume they are solved,
and then proceed as if these more fundamental issues no longer existed.  In reality they are intellectually
rigorous once they have made arbitrary assumptions about the nature of
reality.  In this libertarians are like the brighter Fundamentalists in interesting ways.

In all honesty I think it is even
harder to be a hard-core libertarian Pagan
than a libertarian in general, though I have known some and they were often
nice people.  In Paganism as I
understand it and have experienced it the non-human world is also sentient and
alive to a degree denied by mainstream society.  This means that issues of appropriate and inappropriate
relationships penetrate even more deeply into our interactions with the world
than they do for the average Christian or secularist.  For Pagans issues of appropriate relationship include
plants, animals, and for some, myself included, the earth itself.  The libertarian assumption that my
property is what I own and control appears as morally immature and even childish.

 



Advertisement
Comments read comments(34)
post a comment
Apuleius Platonicus

posted May 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm


I think you absolutely hit the nail on the head: relationships are primary. And extending this to the non-human world (based on the assumption that life and consciousness exist there, too, even in “inanimate” matter) is foundational for a Pagan view of what “relationships” entail.
I used to consider myself a libertarian socialist, like Emma Goldmann. But even that is too anti-social for my tastes these days.



report abuse
 

Ali

posted May 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm


Excellent post! You basically said more succinctly and calmly the same things I was ranting to my partner about last night when he brought up the issue. ;) I’ll be forwarding this post to him, of course. :)



report abuse
 

Siegfried Goodfellow

posted May 21, 2010 at 2:21 pm


Electing an official to set ordinances is not the only way of dealing with this. The courts were traditionally the way to adjucate property claims, and I see no reason why a jury of one’s peers adjucating a specific case and controversy would not be preferable to an official creating a once-and-for-all law for everyone.



report abuse
 

Triptych

posted May 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm


You seem utterly unaware of what libertarianism actually is, and so what you’ve done here is to set up a little straw man and knocked him down. Bravo. I’m sure we’re all really impressed down here, I can assure you.
Perhaps you might want to restrict your critiques to issues you actually understand. This post simply illustrates your lack of familiarity with the subject. Crack a book!



report abuse
 

Gus diZerega

posted May 21, 2010 at 4:27 pm


Siegfried-
Why should I agree to a court jurisdiction that goes against my desires – especially if I believe I am in the right? . Am I not a peaceful person who is thereby coerced? And how does a jury of my peers deal with the Missoula example?
In addition, say I am a Black man in the South – the jury system really worked out well for them. Also- jury duty is not voluntary. If it is voluntary there is the problem of how the jurors will be paid if you want a steady supply as necessary. And who picks the jurors? Once again, I think a libertarian response avoids the hard questions.
Triptych-
Have you ever read libertarian literature? Or do you just like identifying with the name?. Give reasons why my argument is wrong not ad hominem attacks, or stay off this list. There are Tea Bagger sites who’d welcome you, but not here.



report abuse
 

David Dashifen Kees

posted May 21, 2010 at 5:15 pm


Another point re: the courts, in reference to the post above by Siegfried Goodfellow. As juries are made of human jurors, the court system seems to be an obtuse way to try and produce consistent results based on a similar situation. Granted, as with Gus’s example of a Blank man on trial in the South, sometimes consistency might be easily achieved but for the wrong reasons.
This is not to say that ordinance or law cannot be written and applied in a haphazard way, but succinctly written ordinance, e.g. no music exceeding X decibels after Y PM and Z AM, can be easily enforced and remain consistent for all individuals barring a lack of enforcement, a separate issue, I think, to the one at hand. A jury, on the other hand, can be swayed based on the situation or a person in ways that I, personally, would not be comfortable with in such a limited, civil problem.
Now we just have to get ordinance and law to be written succinctly, but that, too, is a problem for another day.
Excellent post, Gus. Thank you very much.



report abuse
 

Jim

posted May 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm


Dear Gus:
One of the unfortunate things about Rand Paul’s obtuse outburst is that it derails an intelligent discussion of the public versus the private sphere. One thing that libertarians and liberals agree on is that there should be a private sphere, that is to say a sphere of individual action, which the state should not impinge upon. For example, both libertarians and liberals would agree that the state should not publish a list of acceptable novels to read, complete with legal punishments if you read from off that list. In this case libertarians and liberals would both argue that the novels an individual reads belong to the private sphere.
How far that private sphere extends, how far it should extend, is open to discussion and debate. In general libertarians would place the boundary of the private sphere farther out than liberals would (I’m not including conservatives in this discussion because they do not believe in the existence of a private sphere). But the point I want to make is that liberals and libertarians do have a basic philosophical agreement on the existence of such a sphere and it is on the basis of that agreement that a good discussion could ensue, one that I think could be philosophically productive.
Thanks for the excellent post,
Jim



report abuse
 

Faren

posted May 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm


Once again, Gus, you and I have a different perspective on this issue.
To put it as succinctly as possible, I will refer to your own analogy about the obtrusive neighbors. You proceed, as many liberals do, from a false assumption. That assumption, in a nutshell, is that you are forever bound to live in that particular house, and you have no capacity, no freedom, no right to move.
This is a victim mentality. It belies an underlying agreement that you are not in control of your own destiny and that you don’t have the right to make a different choice for yourself, now that you’ve discovered your first choice had unexpected consequences.
You, as the stargazing yet noisy neighbor, are free to move to any neighborhood you want. Hopefully, you will choose one with other noisy stargazers, so you don’t really disturb each other. You are free to start your own Noisy Stargazer development in whatever town you choose. It is incumbent upon you, however, to want to do this badly enough and then have the energy to follow through on your desires.
What you are not free to do is tell your neighbor how HE should live. The idea that government, which is only made up of the same narrowminded people who can’t stop leaving their lights on at night, somehow has the magical ability to transcend its genetic make up and become godlike in its wisdom, is utter foolishness. Your neighbor, who desires a well lit background, is also free to move away from you if he chooses.
Eventually, the two of you will end up living in areas that probably have much lower property values, or much greater space between houses. These are all things to seek if these are your actual living goals.
But to tell other people how to live… that’s as bad as telling people they have to attend an Abrahamic church. You are the one who has compromised your principles. You mis-portray the Libertarian philosophy with your false claims here. The true Libertarians have it spot on right, and it doesn’t involve anyone having the authority to tell someone how they should live on their own property.
I know you’ll disagree vehemently, but open minded people will see the truth in what I’ve written. Hopefully, eventually, you will too.



report abuse
 

Marlon Hartshorn

posted May 22, 2010 at 12:39 am


Faren: I don’t think Gus was assuming in the above example the neighbor was bound to live the house forever. I think he was assuming the solution would be a pragmatic one given the scenario. It’s not always practical for people to just up & move, and of course people have the right to move, we live in America. People either have to compromise or have a legal body make the decision for them. Most legal cases boil down to just that: a conflict that isn’t getting resolved. Our system is an inherently good one: taxes pay for fire, water & police protection. I feel it’s a privilege now that I earn more, to pay more into the system. The system supported ME when I was a teen and in my 20′s, so now I can give back to IT. Governments are not inherently nonsensical or without conscience, look at how our own democratic republic came to exist, what a rocky road! But we are making inroads. You and Triptych seem to be more interested in ranting than in presenting a reasonable or well-formed argument. The art of persuasion is being suffocated by pseudointellectuals who point fingers without realizing 3 fingers are pointing back at themselves.



report abuse
 

truddick

posted May 22, 2010 at 8:37 am


Another hypothetical–more illustrative–that I wish our author had included.
If the right to control personal property is absolute, then there is nothing to prevent a multi-billionaire from buying up all of the property surrounding yours–or for that matter, all of the property surrounding a city.
The owner of that surrounding property could then restrict your movement and prevent the delivery of goods to you.
In essence, you’d be enslaved. You would have to do whatever the owner of the property that surrounded you demanded–or starve–or break the law by trespassing on his property (and according to strict Libertarians, risk your life doing so).
Libertarianism, applied in this way, employs perfect logic; all conclusions derive from rigorous application of major and minor premises. It is, however, unsound; meaning that the major premises (private property rights are absolute and government should be minuscule) are not true in the real world.



report abuse
 

Myriad

posted May 22, 2010 at 8:46 am


Excellent post, Gus, and I’d like to quote a bit and put up the URL in a post of my own. It will be on Open Salon under the name Myriad. (Probably on Monday, in a probably vain hope of making the site cover and Spreading the Word.)
Faren – I think your comment is a good example of the unrealistic idealism of Libertarianism detached from real life. It supposes that we all have the ‘freedom’ to move away from an annoying neighbor. Such ‘freedom’ requires bountiful finances. (This is also the ‘freedom’ that anti-healthcare people tout – freedom of financial wherewithal and freedom from things one has no control over.) And suppose I’d lived there for 50 years and the neighbor moved in last week. Are our rights to annoy each other of equal weight? Libertarianism seems to involve cut-and-dried absolute, whereas the world and its inhabitants are messy and multifaceted.
The neighbor example reveals another unrealistic aspect of the Libertarian stance – the idea that I am free to live however I wish on my property because it’s only MY business. However, my noise or floodlights do not stop at my property boundaries, but flow over and outrageously invade the other person’s. Saying s/he has the freedom to move is not a solution. (S/he has the freedom to punch you in the nose, too. Hurt my ears and eyes, I’ll hurt your nose, so there.) (Thus demonstrating the need for rules and government institutions – the police – to enforce them.)
There is also the fundamental question of property – a human invention, not some existential right. As Gus says, for Pagans it is an objective idea that we do not own the earth – it is an entity (not necessarily ‘living’ in the regular sense, but also maybe it is – or even in a bigger sense than we are – and are only agreeing among ourselves as to our human-derived rights to squat on this piece or that piece… We are not only our brother’s keeper, but our Mother’s keeper too…



report abuse
 

Faren

posted May 22, 2010 at 9:17 am


In the usual “fairness” imposed by leftists in power, my posts are being deleted.
How strong can your position be if you can’t accept alternative views?
How sad. You know what you’ve done. I am sure this one won’t be posted, either. But it will be read, and you will know that you are acting as a censor of ideas.
So typical of a leftists. Free speech only applies to them, and to ideas they approve.
Remember: Hitler was a LEFT WING Fascist. He started just like you, thinking he was more enlightened.



report abuse
 

Faren

posted May 22, 2010 at 9:29 am


Well… now that my post has shown up again, let me give an abridged version of what has not been posted.
In answer to Marlon:
Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are documents of RESTRICTIONS on government. That is the only thing “good” about them with regards to what the government can do.
Your dollars that you pay into this system aren’t going to help anybody. They go to bailing out (read “kickback bribes”) large industries like banks or insurance companies, or to nationalizing industries, like General Motors. The government is using your tax dollars to enforce eminent domain laws (read “steal”) land from farmers to “protect our border”… with CANADA! In Vermont a farmer is being forced to relinquist 5 acres of his protected farm land so that a new border patrol station can be built… to monitor 40 cars a month!
Regulations strangle our businesses (see the new rules on 1099s starting in 2012 that will add over 200 hours of labor to even the smallest businesses bookkeeping expenses), and then the use of those anticipated funds to just hire 16,000 new IRS agents to police the new policies! You think this helps people?
We need to keep the government out of everybody’s business. If you think this is pseudointellectualism, then I suggest your moral relativism is leading you into a serious state of confirmation bias. The Libertarian principles are clear, and have been clearly misrepresented here. Government cannot create laws that force responsibility on people. Our culture is rapidly losing its focus on personal responsibility, with hundreds of entitlement programs that do everything from provide free day care to EVERYONE or free medical care to ANYONE for any service they need, regardless of income or insurance. Whenever anything bad happens, it is somebody ELSE’S fault (look at the blame game going on between BP and the White House right now), and somebody must “pay” for it.
No. You can’t tell your neighbor how to live. Arguing for this is exactly opposite a good, self-responsible, Pagan perspective. Period.



report abuse
 

Jim

posted May 22, 2010 at 10:12 am


Dear Faren:
As a libertarian I would have thought that you would recognize the inherent right of bloggers to the absolute control over what they allow in the comments section. After all, it is the blogger’s property, so if they want to delete someone’s post it is their absolute right to do so from a libertarian perspective. It has nothing to do with censorship; it is an application of property rights.
Going further, I would like to suggest that there are other models that explain human relationship to property that are more effective than a rights based view. Instead of property rights I would suggest the model of “privileges and obligations”. Property rights tend to be based on the idea of an autonomous self-sufficient individual; but there is no such thing as a completely autonomous individual. All individuals live dependent upon others and upon myriad causes and conditions. The view of privileges and obligations recognizes this dependence upon others and that therefore privileges for the use of property are limited and permeable to the interests of others, giving rise to the obligations such usage would naturally entail.
Best wishes,
Jim



report abuse
 

Gus diZerega

posted May 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm


Faren-
I have not deleted a single one of your posts. Not one.
Sometimes someone sends a post that for some reason gets shunted to me to approve before it appears. Once one of my posts was shunted to me to be approved. So the system is drunk. I checked – no post was shunted to me.
If I can allow intellectual garbage like Tryptich’s blatherings to be posted here, I can allow what I consider to be wrong headed counter-arguments to mine to be published here. I have confidence that most readers are able to decide intelligently for themselves and perhaps my critics will change my mind. It’s happened on this space before – but not here so far.
You owe me an apology.
You also do the typical right wing ploy- you do not address the question, you obscure it. You avoid one part of the argument (Missoula?) and distort the other – as you did and have been called out on. And then you try to change the subject by complaining that big business – usually lauded as saints by free marketeers – games the system.
Gus



report abuse
 

Faren

posted May 22, 2010 at 1:29 pm


“I have not deleted a single one of your posts. Not one.”
It just never appeared. Actions of a particular web deity? Perhaps…
“If I can allow intellectual garbage like Tryptich’s blatherings to be posted here, I can allow what I consider to be wrong headed counter-arguments to mine to be published here.”
Wrong headed. And you and yours have a contractual monopoly on right headedness? If I had said that, would you consider it arrogant?
“I have confidence that most readers are able to decide intelligently for themselves and perhaps my critics will change my mind. It’s happened on this space before – but not here so far.”
Well, maybe if the posts I had put up actually made it to the board, things would be different. Who’s to say?
“You owe me an apology.”
I owe you nothing. However, in the spirit of furthering the discussion, I will retract my accusation of bias, since I trust that you would not come on as you’ve done had you actually deleted my post.
“You also do the typical right wing ploy- you do not address the question, you obscure it.”
Actually, I’ve addressed the question directly by examining the premise of your argument, proving it was false, and thusly debasing the rest of your argument.
If someone writes a fifty-page argument with the premise that pigs can fly, I need not address all fifty pages. I simply have to show that pigs don’t fly. Everything else falls of its own accord.
“You avoid one part of the argument (Missoula?) and distort the other – as you did and have been called out on.”
And wrongly so, as I demonstrated in the post that ended up traveling to Andromeda, or wherever it eventually landed.
“And then you try to change the subject by complaining that big business – usually lauded as saints by free marketeers – games the system.”
No, the government is gaming the Big Businesses. How else have they handed over so much of their freedoms, rights and abilities for the last century? The Statist government promises them incentives, bonuses or tax breaks for doing things that eventually prove to be incredibly unhealthy. Can you say “mortgage debacle”?
The government serves only those who seek power. It masquerades as a beneficent creature, but in the end, it is just a powerhungry monster, seeking to control, dominate and profit for itself and those who belong to the “right” parties.
It hasn’t changed in over 4000 years. This is just the latest incarnation of the same thing that led to the demise of Egypt, Greece, Rome, England and now, Western European culture as a whole.
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. And, as Ben Franklin once wrote:
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
I deserve both. My Constitution says so.
Faren



report abuse
 

Gus diZerega

posted May 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm


Faren-
I will address only one point while awaiting the so-called rebuttal of the Missoula argument. Hopefully it will do a bit better than your “rebuttal’ of the light and sound case – where my point was there is no objective measurement of what constitutes trespass and what does not – therefore it needs to be a decision made on decision rules reasonable people regard as fair. You completely ignored that central issue to come up with an arbitrary suggestion one side was right and the other was wrong, and that I could move. Why couldn’t the other guy move? Not to mention other people’s well taken comments.
Historically big business has been the strongest force for political centralization in the modern democratic world other than during wartime. Why do we have national standards for organic food? Because national businesses regard one standard, one they can manipulate more easily, as preferable to 50. That is why it overrode state standards. This is one example of a great many. Big business likes standardization and a single market where uniform standards apply. Therefore big business likes subordinating all state regulations to national ones. Fella- that’s a FACT.
You made a false accusation – one that if I were guilty would never even have appeared because I would also delete it – a kind of logical contradiction. You admit your claim was false. Then you distort again. You did not accuse me of bias – of course I am biased – you accused me of deleting your post. But still no apology. In the language I speak – English – wrong headed means wrong ideas – and I do indeed consider you wrong headed. And also too insecure to apologize.



report abuse
 

will shetterly

posted May 22, 2010 at 4:28 pm


Gus, please use a capital “L” when speaking of the rightwing Libertarian Party; they are to Libertarianism what the often-undemocratic Democratic Party is to democracy. I think it would be very easy to be a libertarian socialist pagan. Left-libertarianism and right-libertarianism share a belief in personal liberty, but they disagree entirely on responsibility to the community and the privileges of wealth. Rand Paul wanting Obama to be nicer to BP speaks volumes.



report abuse
 

Eli

posted May 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm


Concerning your first example:
It is within my, and my neighbor’s, best interest to cooperate with each other. If you believe that it is in the best interest of both people that the government should come in and impose regulations on both of us, then it is also in the best interest of both people to simply explain to each other what the problems with each other are and work them out peacefully.



report abuse
 

Gus diZerega

posted May 23, 2010 at 12:45 am


Will-
I know there are left and right libertarians. I thought from referring to Rand Paul I was pretty clearly targeting the right. Further, that is my own background (Murray Rothard in the 60s, etc.) Left libertarians include everyone from anti-capitalist anarchists like Murray Bookchin to free market libertarians who have a broader sense of relevant issues and problems than those on the right. It’s less well defined to me. But I am referring here to ANY kind of right libertarian OR left anarchist because I think these issues are universal.
Eli-
There are two problems here. First, not everyone is reasonable. Just look at American politics – or any other for that matter. A certain number of people could do very well with next to no government. But not all.
Second, the problem is that good people can disagree as to where lines should be drawn because lines do not draw themselves. What counts as a trespass varies with the attitude of the person who may or may not believe he is being trespassed. What drives one person up the wall has little impact on another. Disagreement is built in to life. To take the first example, in reality we are dealing with communities and not two isolated home dwellers – which I used to simplify the point about boundaries. In reality on issues like that people will be all over the map. Just working out compromises will take time and effort many people would prefer to delegate- sort of like Oscar Wilde’s objection to socialism “too many meetings.” Yes, it could be done that way, but most of us would prefer simply setting standards and working within them, even if they are not ideal.



report abuse
 

Becky Glaser

posted May 23, 2010 at 2:06 am


Anent the neighbor example: in our youthful excess of libertarian fervor, some of us believed that such disagreements could be resolved given proper reverence for property rights. Now I live in the woods. When I moved here, I had several neighbors that didn’t like each other. Two grumpy old men with adjoining properties just plain resented each other’s existence. They each sat on their porches and shot at the base of redwood branches over the other’s house. This behavior expressed their disaffection short of summoning the sheriff. If they had not been dead certain that the sheriff would drive the 45 minutes out here if they shot each other, they would have. Point is, some disagreements do not have a reasonable solution. Living on the physical fringe of civilized society makes that abundantly clear. Most out here have firearms and big dogs, but we all know the limits.



report abuse
 

Beldapriest

posted May 23, 2010 at 10:09 am


I don’t think anyone has a right to speak for all Pagans. Regardless of the point you make, you do not speak for all of us. To state “A Pagan Perspective” infers that you are doing the thinking for all of us. You are simply speaking for your personal beliefs, and claiming we all agree with you.



report abuse
 

Franklin Evans

posted May 23, 2010 at 10:41 am


A common sense view of basic courtesy — that is, some minimum level of respect offered unconditionally to strangers — puts to shame every attempt to use neighbors impinging on each others’ privacy as an example of or rebuttal to the libertarian ideals.
What came first is the starting point, not who was there first. If neighbor A does a thing that impacts neighbor B, then common sense dictates the response: If A is doing a thing that has no objective value — leaving the lights on might deter burglars or keep unwanted critters out of the vegetable garden — then B has a common sense rebuttal to that action. If B refuses to leave his lights on, does A have valid grounds to complain and force B to put them on? I leave the common sense answers to both sides of the question to the reader, as an exercise.
Um, yes, I’m being curmudgeonly here. My view of common sense is that any attempt to explain it means that I’m doing others’ thinking for them. Only slightly less vile-tasting than reading their minds, in my experience/opinion…
Oh, and the “freedom” arguments make me think that my original interpretation* of YMMV was right (it actually means your mileage may vary). Such arguments are thinly-(if-at-all)veiled bully tactics. I ignore them unless they require a further response similar to the one any bully deserves.
* You make me vomit.



report abuse
 

Faren

posted May 23, 2010 at 11:52 am


Gus wrote:
“I will address only one point while awaiting the so-called rebuttal of the Missoula argument.”
Then I’ll take them in the order you prefer.
“Hopefully it will do a bit better than your “rebuttal’ of the light and sound case – where my point was there is no objective measurement of what constitutes trespass and what does not – therefore it needs to be a decision made on decision rules reasonable people regard as fair.”
Actually, I rebutted your entire argument by demonstrating your flawed premise. I guess you missed that part.
“You completely ignored that central issue to come up with an arbitrary suggestion one side was right and the other was wrong, and that I could move. Why couldn’t the other guy move? Not to mention other people’s well taken comments.”
He can move. So can you. It’s a question of who decides to move first, and then what happens after.
But to argue that the government should intervene uninvited in a private relationship between two neighbors, which is really what you’re saying here, is absolutely contrary to the Libertarian perspective, and also against the very spirit of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
“Historically big business has been the strongest force for political centralization in the modern democratic world other than during wartime.”
Ah, what a fascinating caveat. “During wartime”. I would amend that to “time of crisis, whether real or fabricated”.
What was it Rahm Emanuel said recently? “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste”, was it?
Yes. Where was big business involved in that particular instance, hmmm?
“Why do we have national standards for organic food? Because national businesses regard one standard, one they can manipulate more easily, as preferable to 50. That is why it overrode state standards. This is one example of a great many. Big business likes standardization and a single market where uniform standards apply.”
Of course. That explains the FDA, the EPA and the tax code perfectly.
Oh, wait. Have you actually ever tried to get anything approved by the EPA or the FDA? Their “one code” is nigh on impossible to follow, and serves to keep small business people out of the arena. Do you think this actually serves the larger companies? Yes, to a limited extent, but mostly it serves the government by concentrating wealth and employment into a few large companies that can be more easily regulated and controlled. I suggest you’re reading the influence backwards, Gus. Have you considered that it just might be going the other way?
“Therefore big business likes subordinating all state regulations to national ones. Fella- that’s a FACT.”
Facts are facts, Gus. But how we INTERPRET them can make a big difference.
Now, I’m going to snip the rest of your post because it’s nothing but obfuscation laced with ad hominems. However, I will get around to your Missoula example now, since that is what you asked of me.
The answer to that one is surprisingly similar to the answer to the other one. So much so, I’m a little disappointed I have to explain it to you.
What law existed in Montana that forced people to live in Missoula? What was the penalty for leaving? Jail time? Fines? Death?
None of the above?
Ah… so what actually happened was by a vote of “mob rule”, a group of individuals got together and decided to use the law to coerce their new neighbors to follow rules that they, themselves, did not have to obey. Do I have that right?
And you’re okay with that? Double standards? One group of people paying for the mistakes and irresponsibility of others?
Is that also why you’re probably okay with 47% of Americans not paying any income tax whatsoever? (while still retaining the right to vote for politicians who promise them more benefits on the back of others)
I’m very interested in your answers to these questions. I’m sure it will sound reasonable, but will it hold up to logical scrutiny?
We’ll see.



report abuse
 

Piotch313

posted May 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm


Yes, relationships are primary.
Looking at the world that we live in and the situations that we live in–Everybody, every living being, is downstream of somebody, some other living thing. Nobody, no living being, is upstream of everything.
When I worked in the High Sierra, pretty far out into the wild woods, there were always signs that some other folks had been out there before, sometimes roads, sometimes tracks and firepits and bits of trash. However far I went, somebody was living farther out. No place, I discovered, was so remote as to have never been walked or visited. Even atop the peaks, a drink of untreated water could give you
giardia.
Yes, we do go by appearances and make assumptions. But they can misguide us sometimes. Those mountains taught me about trying to be aware of how much more goes on than I thought there was.



report abuse
 

Gus diZerega

posted May 23, 2010 at 12:40 pm


Faren-
In my opinion, for sane people you have rebutted yourself. People who have lived in Missoula all their lives can be forced to move to preserve their health because others have moved in and fouled the air. No violation of property right, no aggression against anyone, just a massive mess and poor health so you can worship your true god, the Market. Not private property, not nonaggression, not respect for individuals, not ‘freedom’ – simply The Market.
I am really at a loss for words that someone with so little appreciation for other peoples’ lives could take such a stand. We really do have little to say to one another.



report abuse
 

Faren

posted May 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm


To Jim, who wrote:
“After all, it is the blogger’s property, so if they want to delete someone’s post it is their absolute right to do so from a libertarian perspective. It has nothing to do with censorship; it is an application of property rights.”
I’m a firm believer in ethics, no matter what the form or forum. If someone is portraying their blog as a discussion site, then they really have no right to hide information that defeats their purpose. It is dishonest. It is propaganda masquerading as debate. If that happens, I think it is my right to call them on it in whatever forum I can find that has the quickest impact. Yes, they still have the right to keep deleting the posts, and even to ban me from posting, but in the meantime, I have the same right as anyone else to post at said site.
Their discrimination will land them with their own consequences. Big believer in Karma, I am.
“Instead of property rights I would suggest the model of “privileges and obligations”. ”
I think that is a fascinating argument, but it is theoretical, not practical. Our Constitution is the governing paradigm for our property rights. If you wish to have a system based upon your “privileges and responsibility” philosophy, you’ll have to either start your own country, or perhaps create such a system within a particular state, deferring to the 10th Amendment as your foundation. I don’t think it would work, frankly. The 3rd, 4th and 5th Amendments make property rights fairly clear, by implication of what the government cannot do.
I would say that your concept violates, at least in spirit, the 5th Amendment: “nor shall private property be taken for public use”.
Having said that, I have to confess that I personally agree with the philosophy. It’s just not the way our country was designed. Can you suggest another country where this philosophy is in place?
Faren



report abuse
 

Faren

posted May 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm


Gus?
Do I read you right, then, in that you are perfectly fine with ONE group paying the price for ANOTHER group’s poor choices?
And that big government is the way we should make that happen?
You think that shows concerns for “other peoples’ lives”?
I personally think it would be up to the community to work together to come to an agreement that all responsible people accept and to which they agree to adhere.
Do you think it is that hard to do? Be responsible for one’s self?
Maybe I just have a more positive view of people than you do. I’ve done some pretty good things in my communities, and I never had to coerce anyone with a law to get it done.



report abuse
 

Gus diZerega

posted May 23, 2010 at 8:11 pm


Faren-
The way communities work together to come to agreement as to how to address a common problem is called democracy.
You write of “poor choices” – please identify my poor choice if I grew up in Missoula, the town grew, air pollution became dangerous, and I suffered for it because of newcomers’ pollution. Or my new born baby suffered because of weak lungs. Or an elderly parent I support who has emphysema. The COMMUNITY acted through the town government. And you complain about ONE group oppressing another group.
Your alternative method seems to simply be domination by the most ruthless and self-centered, who can make life miserable enough that their neighbors move rather than learning to take other people into consideration. And there is no shortage of such bullies. They are not a majority but neither are they rare in this culture. And you call that ethical?
Please. Spare. Me.



report abuse
 

Faren

posted May 24, 2010 at 5:01 pm


Gus wrote:
“The way communities work together to come to agreement as to how to address a common problem is called democracy.”
No, it’s called responsible negotiation. Democracy is majority, or mob, rule. It is an abhorrent form of government and should be avoided at all cost.
“please identify my poor choice if I grew up in Missoula, the town grew, air pollution became dangerous, and I suffered for it because of newcomers’ pollution.”
It was as much your pollution as any newcomers. If you noticed the town growing, why didn’t you get rid of your fireplace? Only the NEW people had to live by the new rules put in place by the “majority” in the “democracy”.
Mob rule. Minorities lose.
And you defend this… why?
“Or my new born baby suffered because of weak lungs. Or an elderly parent I support who has emphysema. The COMMUNITY acted through the town government. And you complain about ONE group oppressing another group.”
Yes. Because that’s what happened. Are you so Machiavellian as to think the ends justify the means?
“Your alternative method seems to simply be domination by the most ruthless and self-centered, who can make life miserable enough that their neighbors move rather than learning to take other people into consideration. And there is no shortage of such bullies. They are not a majority but neither are they rare in this culture. And you call that ethical?”
I think you’ve completely misrepresented what I’ve written. Are you that desperate to maintain your flawed premise that you can’t even iterate my argument properly?
And while speaking of the beneficent government that you trust so much, allow this to be read:
“AOL News also has learned through documents and interviews that the Food and Drug Administration has known of the potential danger for as long as a decade without alerting the public, which the FDA denies.”
Oh, so trustworthy.



report abuse
 

Gus diZerega

posted May 24, 2010 at 6:33 pm


Let’s bring this to a close. By any standards I take seriously, your position is immoral or amoral, representing libertarianism at its most willfully blind and/or sociopathic. From MY perspective you are utterly ignorant as to what any intelligent discussion of what democracy is.
I assume you believe the same for me. Whether you do or not I have reached a point of radically diminishing returns. So I take the responsibility of closing our discussion right now.
Good bye.



report abuse
 

Faren

posted May 27, 2010 at 9:11 pm


Gus,
I don’t need to insult you to make my point. I can just make my point and wish you would give it the serious attention our Founding Fathers thought it deserved.



report abuse
 

just a nomad

posted May 30, 2010 at 11:48 am


Private property is in response the government. Libertarians believe we must protect our freedom, without private property this is impossible. Your pagen view will always blind your politcal one. The opinions expressed here is your right but you can’t even hold down an argument wothout insulting someone, how morally immature, or even childish. Unfortunately communist anarchy will never work sir, I’d like to be able to protect myself from my neighboor, especially if it is you.



report abuse
 

Gus diZerega

posted May 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm


HOW is private property in response to government? Can you give a REASON? EVIDENCE? You know, things other than having us have to believe you are infallible to accept your statements?
HOW does being a Pagan blind my politics?
If you look at the tone of my arguments, I think I can safely say I have NEVER insulted someone who was civil themselves. In Faren’s case I ultimately said I found his arguments morally objectionable. I did and I do. I believe s/he also found my arguments, or their implications, morally objectionable. After a time we got diminishing returns and in my view no new light either of us could shed- we were talking to one another. I believe I let Faren have the last word.
YOU on the other hand have made no arguments at all but been pretty free with the unsupported claims and the insults. Do you think you are setting a good example for libertarian arguments?



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting A Pagans Blog. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: The Latest on Pagan and Earth-Based Religions Happy Reading!!!

posted 9:39:40am Jul. 06, 2012 | read full post »

Earth Day and the Sacredness of the Earth
I think Earth Day is a particularly important moment for contemplation and commitment by us Pagans.  Often American Christian critics accuse us of “pantheism,” and in a important respect they are right.  We do find the sacred, most of us, in the earth without reference to any transcendental sp

posted 11:57:03am Apr. 20, 2012 | read full post »

Instructive examples on why interfaith work is a good idea
I deeply believe the problems in our country are more of the heart than of the head. Here are some youtubes courtesy of John Morehead of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy on Facebook. They speak more eloquently than anything I can write that interfaith work is a good

posted 1:08:25pm Apr. 12, 2012 | read full post »

The controversy over Pink Slime - and what it means.
The controversy over pink slime is helping educate Americans to the fact that corporations are as beneficial to agriculture as they are to politics. Tom Laskawy put it pithily: “What pink slime represents is an open admission by the food industry that it is hard-pressed to produce meat that won’

posted 4:03:07pm Apr. 11, 2012 | read full post »

How the "war on religion' backfired into a war on women
Here  is a really good article by Tina DuPuy on how the Republicans got themselves into such a mess with America's more intelligent women.  Left undiscussed is how the extreme pathological masculinity of both their deity and their leaders made that slip so very easy.

posted 12:12:35pm Apr. 11, 2012 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.