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Philosophy

Libertarianism and Conservativism – foes or friends?

F.A. Hayek at the end of his “Constitution of Liberty” (1960) wrote “Why I am not a Conservative” – which is odd as Hayek had (perhaps without knowing it) a good grasp of what actually is a positive conception of conservatism, and a poor grasp of libertarianism.

Hayek rejected the word “libertarian” as “artificial” which is just as well as he was not a libertarian – philosophically or politically.

Philosophically Hayek was a determinist (like so many 19th century and early 20th century thinkers, he assumed that “science” mandated determinism). Hayek took David Hume literally (whether Hume should really be taken literally is a hotly contested issue), the “I” (the human person) is an illusion, as is human choice – a thought does NOT mean a thinker (a reasoning “I”) and as there is no agent (no human being – no reasoning “I”) there is no agency (no free will), actions are predetermined by a series of causes and effects that go back to the start of the universe – and humans (who are not beings) can do no other than we do (we could not have done otherwise – as choice is an illusion).

Politically Hayek claimed to an “Old Whig”, but is hard to see how his philosophical views are compatible with the Whig point of view – which was based on the MORAL value of human free will (it is not an accident that David Hume was not a Whig) . The determinist (such as the Thomas Hobbes) holds that “freedom” is just an absence of external restraint – for example when a dam fails the water is “free” to rush out and destroy towns and so on. “Freedom” (in the determinist view) is not a matter of moral choice (remember choice is an “illusion”) so “freedom” is like taking one’s hand off a clockwork mouse and letting this clockwork mouse go around on the floor. It is hard to see how this “freedom” can be of any moral importance at all – if any view of politics can be based upon it would be a politics of tyranny (exactly the politics that Hobbes did base upon it), after all walls of water from broken dams (and so on) does not sound very nice.

Still does Hayek say anything else about his politics? Yes he does – again in the “Constitution of Liberty” we are told that he supports the “limited state” not the “minimal state”, because (according to Hayek) the minimal state can not be defined and the limited state can be defined.

Hayek is just wrong – the minimal state is easy to define (although very hard to achieve or maintain – an anarchist would argue impossible to maintain or achieve). The definition of a minimal state is one that just uses force only against the violation of the non aggression principle (attacks on the bodies or goods of people or groups of people). It is actually the “limited state” that is hard to define. Limited to what?

Hayek does make some vague efforts to define the “limited state” – for example he says that such a state applies “general rules” that apply to everyone.

O.K. then – everyone is to have their head cut off. Is that a good example of a “limited state”?

Hayek also says that a limited state does not seek to have a monopoly of any service.

O.K. then – everyone but the children of Mr Smith of 25 Silver Street to go to a state school?

Unfair example? O.K. – how about the state hands education and healthcare “free” (at the expense of the taxpayers), but you are free to pay twice (i.e. pay again on top of taxation) to go private? Is this the limited state?

How about you can go to any doctor you like and send your children to any school you like, but the state pays the bill (no matter how big it is), is that the limited state?

Such a state (one that seeks to provide or pay for education, healthcare, old age provision and on and on) will end up spending half the entire economy (and still fail). That does not sound very limited or sustainable – and Hayek (in his attack on the Welfare State) shows he understands this. However, his “limited state” is not defined in a way that prevents it.

Oh dear this post seems to have turned into “why Hayek is crap” which is unfair as anyone (even the best of us) looks terrible if one just concentrates on errors and weaknesses. I will leave the above out if I ever give a talk on this subject (because it sounds terribly negative) – but it needed to be put on record.

So why is Hayek (perhaps without knowing it) insightful about Conservatism?

Hayek’s own definition of Conservatism (given in “Why I am Not a Conservative”) is not good. He just defines it as being opposed to change – so (for example) a North Korean conservative now would be a socialist (or that is the system they have) and a British conservative I (say) 1870 would be a free market person – as this was the system of the time.

Whatever Hayek may have believed that is not a serious definition of Conservatism. But Hayek (again perhaps without knowing it) does give a description of Conservatism – in “Constitution of Liberty”, “Law. Legislation and Liberty” (and other works).

Cosmos not Taxis – spontaneous order (evolved over time) not top down planning. What Hayek called the results of “human action not human design” (it would be have been better to say the results of voluntary action not forced action – but Hayek had philosophical problems with even voluntary design).

Or (in the language of the conservative writer M.J. Oakeshott) a Civil Association not Enterprise Association, a Societas not a Universitas.

Institutions and customs that evolve over time often without people knowing the reasons they are useful – till they are broken.

As Tolkien’s (Tolkien being a Catholic Conservative) character “Gandalf” puts it in the “Lord of the Rings” – “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom”.

This is what Conservatism is about – a preference for evolved custom and ways of doing things (ways of living) over imposed “rational” planning by the state.

The state (in the Conservative view) is like the Thrain of the Shire (Tolkien’s) and the Mayor.

The Thrain does nothing in peacetime (in war it is different) – he just farms his estate. And the Mayor is the leading figure at formal dinners (like those of the old Closed Corporations that were the only “urban local government” before the Act of 1835 in England and Wales), he does not order folk about. Families govern their own affairs and do not attack each other (police forces were not compulsory on the counties of England and Wales till 1856). There is plenty of (moral – traditional) authority, but little naked “power”.

I think it is obvious show this view of Conservatism is close to libertarianism (hence “Tory Anarchist”) – a friend not a foe. But is it tied to Hayek and his philosophical opinions?

No it is not – which is why I mentioned Oakeshott and Tolkien (two Conservatives with very different philosophical opinions to Hayek). Both Oakeshott and Tolkien believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise).

Even in the 18th century Conservatives did not follow the philosophical opinions of David Hume (again IF they were his opinions – I repeat this is hotly contested). Neither the Tory Conservative Dr Johnson or the Old Whig Conservative Edmund Burke (a real Old Whig – unlike Hayek) accepted determinism and the denial of human personhood (moral choice – the ability to choose to do otherwise). Edmund Burke and Dr Johnson (the Whig and the Tory) both believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise) and were moral universalists (not just Dr Johnson – but Edmund Burke also, for the T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson view of his is totally wrong, to Burke it did not matter if something happened in the Middle Ages or right now, in India or America – right was right and wrong was wrong).

Is this the only view of Conservatism?

Of course not – there are other views of Conservatism. For example the statism of Disraeli (with his life long commitment to “social reform” – yuk).

However, that is hardly “doing nothing” (against those who do not themselves aggress against others). The Tauist Old King Log sitting in the shade – rather than Young King Stork “helping” his subjects by eating them.

Agorism

A New Libertarian Manifesto

Chapter 1

By Samuel Edward Konkin III

Read by Mike Gogulski

Ken Ham takes his dogma for a walk

Bill-Nye-vs.-Ken-Ham-Debate

Periodically, the intellectual conflict between science and religion comes to a head in the form of a debate and the results of such debates are often quite interesting and lead into areas of enlightenment that are surprising. Those who say scientists should not take part in such debates are fascists, morons and idiots.

I classify myself a lapsed-Catholic agnostic atheist (that is someone who fundamentally does not believe in god, but as a good scientist cannot prove or disprove his/her non-existence, it’s a very good form of rhetorical macramé), as such the debate between Bill Nye, the Science Guy and Ken Ham CEO of the Creation Museum piqued my interest.

At 2½ hours it is quite a long debate, but you need to go through it all to get a real flavour of the thing, the excerpts simply do not do it justice. As you would expect, neither side expected to win over their opponents, but this was a genuine debate for serious stakes, with the minds of children in classrooms at stake.

(more…)

How to be human 101 – Empathy

Bad RobotIn my early years I had an all encompassing belief that the universe revolved around my arse. Apparently this is quite common among single children and ‘tail end charlies’ like myself, whose elder brothers were nearly 10-years older than me.

It also didn’t help that I came into my mothers life at a very difficult time when she was being physically abused by my father, as she told me in later years, I was the raft that she clung to during the storms of her turbulent marriage. She finally divorced my father when he was coming up for retirement as she couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck in the house with the miserable old bastard 24/7. (more…)

How William James of Harvard helped undermine moral responsiblity – agency.

Most libertarians (and conservatives) have some idea of the harm Harvard University (in spite of the good elements that have always existed there) has done to the United States and (by extension) the rest of the West.

For example, Harvard (via its relationship with Cambridge in England) helped push Keynesian “economics” thus undermining real economics – and leading to the credit bubble nightmare the world now faces.

Before this Harvard Law School actively discouraged study of the text of the Constitution of the United States and the other writings (showing the intentions) of those who wrote that text – pushing the study of “case law” instead, thus undermining constitutional limitations on government power in the United States.

It is true to say that both in economics and law many other American universities followed the example of Harvard – because of its prestige (based, in part, on its being the first American university and its vast resources).

However, before the harm it did in economics and law, Harvard did great harm in the study of human beings themselves (in what was called the study of the “nature of man”) – in philosophy and psychology.

Once American philosophy had been dominated by those who believed and defended three great principles.

The objective nature of the physical universe.

The objective nature of good and evil.

And the ability of humans to choose between good and evil – that humans were beings (agents) that they had the capacity (if they made the effort – a big “if”) to choose good and reject evil.

Both the Aristotelians who dominated Catholic education and the “Common Sense” thinkers who dominated Protestant education (sometimes called followers of “Scottish philosophy” of John Reid and so on – although the principles go back to 17th century thinkers such as Ralph Cudworth and before).

Harvard took the lead in attacking these principles – by the rise of the American “Pragmatist” School.

The “Pragmatists” are best summed up in the words of William James (one of the leading members of the group) “the right is just the expedient in our way of thinking” – and by this William James meant both “the right” in the sense of truth (there was no objective truth – whatever it was useful to be “true” was “true”) and in the sense of “good and evil” (right and wrong – in both senses), to the Pragmatists objective good and evil did not exist – they were “myths” just as objective truth was a “myth”..

The European “philosopher of violence” Sorel, was later to make use of this doctrine of “useful myths” – what did it matter if one told lies (to incite violence) if truth and lies did not really exist? If what was “true” was just what was “useful” to  the cause.

Mussolini did the same thing – what did it matter if both reason and evidence had refuted socialism? So much for reason and evidence! He might move from strict Marxism (because it was too easy to refute – at least for people who believe in such things as objective truth), but his new form of socialism (“Fascism”) would do – it would be based upon “myths”  and if there was no objective truth. lying was O.K. (indeed a new “truth”).

One can even see this in the writings of the Oslo murderer (he wanted his name to be famous – so I never use it) – William James was his most favoured philosopher (on his Facebook page – before it was taken down). So what if the people he murdered were unarmed kids – if his “truth” was that they were armed foes, and he was a “Knight Templar” was not his “truth” as valid as the “truth” of anyone else? And was not his “good” (murdering unarmed kids) not as valid as the “good” of anyone else?

Not even religious people were immune from the spell of William James – as Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out, one was more like to hear the name William James than Saint James in the Churches of the Progressives.

How can it be objectively wrong to murder millions of helpless people – if there is no such thing as objective wrong (or objective right)? Besides it is not convenient to try and save the helpless people being murdered – one might be hurt (or even killed) trying to save them, so it may be “your truth” that they should be saved, but it is not “my truth”.

Besides “modern scientific thought” had “proved” that one could not choose between good and evil (which do not objectively exist anyway) – choice is an “illusion”, one is really controlled by impersonal social forces of “class” and/or “race” in one’s “historical period”.

The Schoolmen (the scholastics) had been fond of saying “natural law is the law of God – but if God did not exist natural law would be EXACTLY THE SAME” – the “new” way of thinking (actually this evil is as old humanity – but I will not go into this here) held that natural law (right and wrong, good and evil) did not really exist for the religious or for atheists – and that (even if they did exist) humans were not beings (not agents) and could not choose between them anyway – choice (morality) being an “illusion”.

Thus the fury (righteous fury) of Dietrich Bonhoeffer with the “Christians” who either murdered the innocent (after all “what is innocence?” said the smooth talking scum) themselves, or stood by and did nothing as the innocent were murdered in front of them.

And it was not just in Germany. in the United States the eugenics movement was welcomed by the “religious progressive” – both the holding down and cutting up of women for being “inferior” (only Justice Pierce Butler, the “arch reactionary”, voted against forced sterilisation – the other eight Justices on the Supreme Court thought it was fine) and even plans to actively exterminate the “inferior” – even if this “inferiority” was actually a “useful myth”.

And even if is evil (although objective evil does not exist……) we do not “really” choose our actions – choice is just an “illusion” (so it is not my fault that I pushed these children into the gas chamber and then murdered them).

But how did William James (and his “intellectual” friends) undermine moral responsibility – agency. the courage to choose good and reject evil? To stand against the “social forces”?

How did the philosophy (and the psychology) of “Common Sense” thinkers such as James McCosh (the once famous President of Princeton) and Noah Porter (the once famous President of Yale) get replaced?

One looks in vain for in “Psychology” (1892) for a formal refutation of (for example) Noah Porter’s “The Human Intellect: With An Introduction Upon Psychology And The Soul” – which, before the work of William James, was the standard work on psychology in the United States. Indeed the name “Noah Porter” is not even mentioned in the book.

Instead we get this……..page 457 “Psychology” by William James (1892).

“But a psychologist cannot be expected to be thus impartial, having a great motive in favour of determinism. He wants to build a Science; and Science is a system of fixed relations. Where ever there are independent variables, there Science stops. So far, then, as our volitions may be independent variables, a scientific psychology must ignore that fact, and treat of them only so far as they are fixed functions. In other words, she must deal with the general laws of volition exclusively; with the impulsive and inhibitory character of ideas; with the nature of their appeals to the attention; with the conditions under which effort may arise, etc.; but not with the precise amounts of effort for these, if our wills be free, are impossible to compute, She thus abstracts from free-will, without necessarily denying its existence. Practically, however, such abstraction is not distinguished from rejection; and most actual psychologists have no hesitation in denying that free-will exists.”

The word “psychology” goes back to Ralph Cudworth in the 17th century – the great defender (against Thomas Hobbes) of human agency, the great denier that humans were just machines (not beings). And. by the way, the great attacker of the “chopping up” of the human mind between “will” and “reason” ( a perhaps mistaken practice of the scholastics). Noah Porter (the most famous writer on psychology in America ) had only died a couple of years before this book by William James was published, James McCosh (the great “Common Sense” philosopher) was actually still alive (he died in 1894). Reason (agency) had defenders (at that time) in almost every university in America – yet William James comes out with this tissue of lies – and that is what (thanks to Harvard – and its influence) future generations of students would be taught.

I will now translate what William James wrote into English – I will give its “practical” sense, to use his term. “Practically” (without his cowardly evasions – such as “without necessarily denying its existence”).

Humans are not beings, human volition (agency) does not exist. Humans are just machines – all of whose actions are predetermined. There is no real “choice” (it is an “illusion”). There is no moral difference between a human and a clockwork mouse. And we need not be concerned with enslavement of humans by the state – because humans are slaves (indeed machines – not beings) by nature anyway.

The utter denial of human freedom – no agency, no moral responsibility.

The victory of evil – total and absolute.

That is at the heart of modern academia (of “Nudge” by Cass Sunstein and all the rest of it) – and it came long before (indeed was the cause) of the corruption of such things as law and economics.

Why should humans make the great effort (suffer the terrible pain) required for agency (for standing against evil) if this is impossible? If humans are not really beings (not really agents) at all.

This is the heart of evil.

What happens when a Turing Machine meets a Blackhole?

A while back I promised to write this. It has taken some time.

Well the short answer is nobody knows. In principle. Let me explain…

But seeing as this is not QI and I am not the curly haired loon Alan Davis I’d best try to explain why…

There are questions that are unanswered and there are the unanswerable.

Magic don’t exist. Science does and it is a kinda magic (or is that Queen?). Robert Oppenheimer certainly proved that. Well, with his pencil he certainly wielded more power than Dumbledore did with a twig. Real science is magic and it is magic beyond anything these sort of numpties could dream of.

In 1995 at Nottingham University a geezer dressed in a manner that would make Arch-Chancellor Ridcully look under-dressed handed me a piece of paper that was the official recognition of my getting the keys to the Universe. It was emotional, I can tell you. It was a BSc in Physics.

So what I am getting at in this preamble is that magic is real and it’s magic because it doesn’t always make “common sense”.

So, to the point!

Black-holes are essentially collapsed stars that have all their mass within their Schwarzchild radius. This is the radius which even classically, light can’t escape from because as you know Neil, Buzz and Mike had to go rather fast to get off this rock but seeing as the speed of light is a cosmic speed limit once the gravity of a collapsed star gets to that having an escape velocity above that of light then you are in it for the duration. By the way I’m sticking with the non-charged, non-rotational solutions here. Hence Schwarzchild will suffice.

If you really want to muck about with Kerr-Newman metric then knock yourselves out. We’ll keep it without angular velocity (or charge). Now I appreciate the revolutions of Beyonce’s twerking her fundamental singularity as much as the next person but for the current porpoise the entertainer on the stage might as well be Noel Coward in a dinner-suit singing some old nonsense that the late Queen Ma would like.

Because the simple truth is black holes have a property which is awesome. It brings information theory (one of the grandest achievements of C20 maths) into a kind of conflict with one of the grandest achievements of C20th physics. And it’s dead simple. By which I mean it lacks complexity. Now, modeling weather is complicated because modeling multiple processes is. This is a different kind of hard. It does not involve the kind of recursive computation that gets a Julia Set on screen. It is conceptually hard rather than computationally so. Hold that thought – it will matter. There are incredible complicated things that are hard and there are simple things that are hard. Things can be hard in qualitatively different ways.

Now, in the 1930s Alan Turing came up with a theoretical model for computers. I’m typing on one now. Now Turing proved (as did Alonzo Church) by a different route (and Kurt Gödel had a look in too) proved this. Now some of this was purely formal such as the disproof of Peano Arithmetic which set out to prove essentially that the mathematics of integers can be based on a single finite and logically consistent axiom-set. That this was a bit of an embuggeration (especially to David Hilbert) is to say the least. Hilbert had proposed a program in which he hoped all mathematics could be reduced to a single axiom set. Peano Arithmetic was a jolly good punt at that. Essentially he’d proposed an idea to develop something much like the characteristica universalis of Leibniz. Essentially an attempt to reduce everything to rule-following. The idea was this…

When the Peano axioms were first proposed, Bertrand Russell and others agreed that these axioms implicitly defined what we mean by a “natural number”. Henri Poincaré was more cautious, saying they only defined natural numbers if they were consistent; if there is a proof that starts from just these axioms and derives a contradiction such as 0 = 1, then the axioms are inconsistent, and don’t define anything. In 1900, David Hilbert posed the problem of proving their consistency using only finitistic methods as the second of his twenty-three problems. In 1931, Kurt Gödel proved his second incompleteness theorem, which shows that such a consistency proof cannot be formalized within Peano arithmetic itself

That’s from wikipedia

So it is entirely a bust flush. Or is it?

Anyway, I realized I’m hundreds of words in and haven’t answered the question! Sorry, but I had to foreground and the essential problem is to do with words like “definable”, “consistent” and especially “infinite”. Now the final one is the impenetrable. Now way back when Galileo realized infinity was a tough nut to crack when he put as an aside the idea (which is true) that the set of Naturals had exactly the same cardinality as the set of Perfect Squares. Now the first set is {1,2,3…} and the second starts {1,4,9…} but both have the same number of members. Huh? You might be thinking there are more of the first because of the gaps in the second? But as Galileo argued and Cantor proved the cardinality (the size of the sets – sort of) can be proven to be the identical for both because both can be put in an exact 1-1 bijection – essentially for each member of the first set there is a one on the other side – kinda like the perfect tea-dance – with integers He (Cantor) called this number Aleph-null. The first of the transfinite cardinals (there are many more cardinals – more than they have in Rome – and some are fucking enormous – a technical term I owe to a Leeds University number theorist). I am getting a bit OT here but I must mention a collection known (and I know this sounds rather “Father Ted” but there are, amongst many others, ineffable cardinals. Please read this because it conveys the total Woo-Woo.

Yes, there are numbers that are infinite in ways that can’t be uttered but must exist, logically. Yes this sounds mystic and it is but it is provable. This is not homeopathy. This is reality.

What was that paragraph about? Well it was really about trying to say (and this is relevant) that there. In an arguably similar way General Relativity contains solutions (such as those due to Kurt Gödel which include the possibility of time-travel but whilst mathematically impeccable do not pertain to our Universe, but could in principle, just don’t). Now that is interesting. So interesting I wrote an MSc thesis on it. What was dear old Gödel up to? Fuck knows! I don’t know fuck so I don’t. It is all a piggy-rotten mystery and no mistake. It’s like Windows 8. No bastard groks that one.

Anyway Blackholes are simpler. Once you cross the event horizon you is doomed and I mean proper Frazer doomed. Not only are you not getting out but you can’t really communicate out either. Because nothing can get out of an event horizon. It’s kinda like dropping car keys down a toilet. Now I’m on my uppers here (but promised to write this piece) but my understanding is that in the vicinity of an event horizon time slows as seen by an external observer but seems the same for the subject falling in. They also get gravitationally red-shifted and dim into the IR. So if you chuck your mate into a blackhole and they wave back at you it seems ever slower and ever redder until you can see nothing of them. Now this time dilation is kinda like working a 36hr day and then a 48hr day and then a 72hr day so you get more done. Essentially any computable problem accelerates (i.e. breaking a code and not whether Miley Cyrus ought to wear pants) because the effective time the Turing machine’s rate of knots has becomes asymptotic because time has slowed for it – though not for the observer at a safe distance. So it can actually solve or get round the likes of the Entsheidungsproblem

Except. As the Turing machine (and if you are reading this – you have one – just not a local blackhole – I hope) hits max and goes infinite it is going beyond the event horizon so you never get to know the results. I know. It sucks. Of course you could leap in after it but you’d never be able to get the data out so what is the point?

Now I have no idea whatsoever where my trash goes. But if it were to be chucked in a blackhole then nothing of it would remain to the external observer other than mass, electric charge and angular momentum. This applies to anything. This applies to pork bellies, gold ingots, the works of Shakespeare and your Aunty Gladys. All meaningful information is lost to the Universe. In a very real sense that is why blackholes are something else. And that is why a Turing machine can achieve infinite speed (even that dreadful Acer you bought five years ago) but anyone outside the hole can do nothing with it. And if you are past the event horizon neither can you.

And for my next trick I have this cat and this box ;-)

The New Shadow

JRR Tolkien started writing a sequel to the Lord of the Rings.

I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall [of Sauron], but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless – while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors – like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going round doing damage. I could have written a ‘thriller’ about the plot and its discovery and overthrow – but it would be just that. Not worth doing.

I think that says as much about our World as Middle Earth. No moment of triumph ever lasts. It’s a second law of thermodynamics for societies.

Cartoon of the week.

Sorry folks, couldn’t find a better way to display this one. I think you’ll like it though.

 

H/T Alisa, Samizdata long time commentator.

Sowell: “Studies Prove…”

Often we hear that “all the experts agree” that A is better than B or that “studies prove” A to be better than B. ….

A fascinating discussion of the fact that statistical studies can be interpreted and presented in various ways…with varying degrees of rigor and of intellectual honesty…for various reasons. Dr. Sowell provides some excellent examples in this three-part article.

Part 1: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell080906.php3

Part 2: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell081006.php3

Part 3: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell081106.php3

Might We Have Free Will?

I hope no one is wasting time this evening listening to the Sith, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing much worthwhile.

. . .
Prefatory Notes:

1.  One thing I cannot stress enough: There is no, NO, non-trivial and logically consistent system of thought that does not rest upon postulates: unproven presumptions about existents within the system and relationships between them. These postulates are the foundational “givens” of the system. This is as as true of moral philosophy as it is of any other system. In reasoning about the nature of humans and their faculties (such as free will) you will always hit up on an unprovable assumption.

2.  Note this also: It is the nature of the human mind that, having formed a concept and then having found the concept logically problematic–or wanting in some other respect–it will seek a different angle, a change to the concept so as to get around the problem. This cannot always be done, but in the case of the concept of Free Will, I think the conventional concept is based on a misunderstanding and must be re-cast slightly if we are to maintain our belief that we live in a cause-and-effect (that is, a rational) universe and yet hold to the idea that real choice exists for each of us, and that we are indeed properly held accountable for the choices we make.

3.  My own belief, and starting premise, is that we are part of the physical universe and as such are systems made up of matter and energy like everything else in it, and that all of our constituent parts, whether considered as isolated or as subsystems, are subject to the same laws of cause and effect. The following is written from that point of view.

. . .

In the more common, or conventional, or traditional conception of “free will,” there is some faculty of human beings which serves as a prime mover–i.e., it is causeless–and yet, simultaneously, it is under the control of the human, the moral agent, the actor. This has been a problem for Western (at least) philosophers since the Greeks. Miss Rand, among others, tried to get around this by saying No, the faculty is not “causeless”–it is caused by the human will. But this begs the question (i.e., the argument already assumes that which is to be proven), because the “causeless” faculty under discussion is the will itself. The question, as always, is, How comes the Will to will as it does?

For religions which posit the existence of a “soul” distinct from the physical body, this need not pose a problem; for them, the Soul is the essence of what we are and the driver of what we do, and Free Will simply means that God or the gods allow the Soul to direct, or at least to strongly influence, the person’s actions as it will, without His or their intervention. And they are quite welcome to their understanding, their fundamental postulate; the following analysis is not for them, but for those who are trying to square a reliable principle of cause-and-effect with “Free Will,” whose existence is to most of us (I think) self-evident.

The “soul-body dichotomy” is implicit even in Miss Rand’s own insistence upon the existence of traditionally understood “Free Will” (though without any gods). And she spoke forcefully against any idea of “determinism” as applicable to human beings, because, in her view, not only would a deterministic view invalidate the very concept of logic, but also it would make morality “a sick joke.”

But we see that people “make choices.” One guy goes left at the
crossroads, the other goes right. What then? How can there be choice without freedom to choose?

Now note: I’m limiting the following discussion to include only entities which we commonly think of as possibly having some sort of “mind.” Humans, dogs, mice if you think so…; fish are an open question. * That’s to keep the discussion from becoming as long as the OED. (In a posthumous volume I will discuss the free will of creeping juniper, celery, and sacks of hammers. )

To the observer, whether external or internal, the actions of the entity being observed are not 100% absolutely knowable in advance. I know that you are about to go out, and that it’s raining, and that there’s an umbrella by the door. Still, I can’t say with absolute certainty that you’ll take the umbrella with you, let alone use it. This is the result of the fact that you do have a choice–a real choice.

That choice exists because there is no mechanism external to yourself that would prevent your taking the umbrella or that would force you to take it; along with the fact that you have the biological capacity to develop the motivation to pick it up or to leave it, and the capacity to exercise your muscles in accordance with the motivation. It’s the lack of absolute external compulsion, combined with your internal capacity to evaluate and to act according to your evaluation, which together constitute the availability of your choosing.

(Of course I may well know from previous experience that you ALWAYS–or, conversely, NEVER–in the past have taken the umbrella when it’s raining. But that only allows me to say that “knowing you, I know you will [or won't] take the umbrella”–you are not CONSTRAINED to take it, or not take it, by circumstances external to your physical self.)

. . .

Yet we often say, “I had no choice; I HAD to do it.” In this case, the entity finds itself FEELING constrained by the fullness of circumstance to act in a certain way. One person says, “I had no choice”; another, in a virtually identical situation, says, “I felt I had no choice.” And the latter formulation, I believe, is the accurate one, and it points out very well the real meaning we ought to attach to the concept of “choice.”

Contrast this with the genuine experience of being literally unable to act upon the capacity of choosing, because external constraints prohibit it. The two experiences FEEL entirely different. (I’ve been there.)

“Free Will” arises from the fact that a being possessing the faculty of “will” is not completely constrained from without to behave in a certain manner. It–the being, the entity–is constantly faced with choices. “Shall I turn east or west? Shall I hunt for a job or go on welfare?” It is the system of internal mechanisms, considered in their totality as the system of which the acting being consists, which both enable and require that being to act as it does in any given situation.

Thus, in what I believe is a much better conception of “Free Will” than the common one, it is the whole man, not some human subsystem or ancillary system, that has “free will” or the ability to “choose”; and this “free will” lies in the perception of the observer, whether he is some other person external to the actor or is the actor observing himself, and not in the disconnection of some subsystem of the acting entity from physical reality and the laws of cause-and-effect which make that reality available to human reason.

There is a real capacity to choose, and there is real free will, in that it is only the acting individual himself who picks and then acts upon one particular alternative among the ones, plural, available.

. . .

PS. Contra Miss Rand (and many, many others), this viewpoint specifically does NOT disallow judgments about the morality or responsibilities of persons, which are based on observations of the whole person and what he does or has done.

PPS. One of the delights of growing older is discovering that other, brighter guys than oneself have long since made similar observations and come to similar conclusions. :>)))

PPPS. Lengthy discussion on this issue yesterday and today at

http://www.samizdata.net/2013/02/16650/#comment-292671

Liberalism and Nationalism – a fatal 19th century alliance?

Libertarians sometimes say that we are really “classical liberals”, “19th century liberals”.

Of course if I actually found myself in Victorian Kettering my political opinions (against the establishment of a School Board, anti prohibition of booze, hostile to land nationalisation or even taxation…….) would mark me as a “Conservative” indeed an “arch Conservative” or a “blackhearted reactionary Conservative” (which, of course, is exactly what I am).

But let us leave aside these irritating “fact” things, and go off into generalities…..

There was a  strain of 19th century liberalism that was pro freedom (even if I can not find much evidence that it ever existed in Kettering – centre of the universe). Indeed “Liberalism” was the international movement that declared itself pro freedom – dedicated to reducing the size and scope of government.

In Britain such things as 1835 Muncipal Reform Act were intended to sweep away the corrupt Tory dominated closed corporations and lower the rates (the property taxes). Of course the actual result (in Manchester and virtually everywhere else) is that the rates went UP – but the intention was good. And, indeed, such Liberal party leaders as Gladstone really did work to reduce government spending and taxes – and with some success (at least till 1874). And some Conservative party leaders (such as Disraeli) were vile statist ………

However, the major liberal thinkers in Britain in the 19th century (at least the mid to late 19th century) present a confused picture. The thought of people such as J.S. Mill and Walter Bagehot (and so on) seems pro freedom when one first glances at it – but the more one examines it in detail the less pro freedom (pro driving back the size and scope of the state) it is.

But it would take an essay (or book) to show fully what I mean…………………………………………………………..

In Europe and Latin America also “Liberal” meant the party of freedom – but it does get a bit harder to argue the case in practice.

In Latin America “Liberal” basically meant “someone who robs the Church” as that is what Latin American Liberals seem to have concentrated on – with anticlericalism being a sort of religion in-its-self with them. But there were some Liberal (as in freedom) aspects – for example in the 1850s the Columbian Liberals got rid of slavery (also done by Liberal forces in other Latin American countries – the first being Chile in the early years of the 19th century). But there does seem to have been an obsession with “nation building” – with Liberals being associated with state education systems, and “national this” and “national that”.

In Europe the picture is not wonderful either.

In France things are best in terms of what “Liberal” meant – with the French “Liberal School of Political Economy” being solidly libertarian, the Say family, Bastiat and so on. And having a positive influence in the United States (the leading American free market economist of the 19th century was A.L. Perry – a follower of Bastiat). Even as late as the 1920s 1930s Irving Babbit (the leader of the “New Humanism” in literature) was a follower of French civilisation – and an enemy of the statism he associated with German thought.

Hard for us to think of French thinkers as defenders of “capitalist” civilisation – but perhaps we should remember such modern thinkers as Bertrand de Jouvenel and (leaving economics but not the defence of civilisation) Jacques Barzun – who died in Texas last year, the last living link with the old French civilisation, the civilisation that all those left bank degenerates revolted against.

Once French “Liberal School” thinkers (not British thinkers – as British liberal economic thought was a bit of a mess, Walter Baghot, J.S. Mill, Alfred Marshall) were indeed the main counter weight to Germanic statist thought in the United States.  It is only later that the “Austrian School”  took on the antistaist role of the French School in American thought – with, perhaps, the first Amercan thinker to be an open follower of the “Austrian School” being Frank Fetter.

People such as Richard Ely (and his followers “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson) may have wanted to destroy Germany – but only because they wanted to turn the United States into a new (and more extreme) version of Germany. Of course a more extreme version of Imperial Germany was eventually created, but not in the United States (as the Progressives were pushed back by Conservative forces in America) – but by the National Socialists in the 1930s, who adopted many American Progressive ideas (such as the extermination of the “inferior”) which had met determined opposition in the United States itself (almost needless to say, the true evil of the American Progressive movement does not appear in mainstream American history books – where they are presented as true “liberals”).

But in Switzerland, Germany and Italy things were less clear than in France.

In Switzerland – liberalism became associated with centralisation (with the destruction of the independence of the Cantons after the was of 1947 – in order to persecute Catholics, religious persection of the Jesuits may be “Liberal” but it is not libertarian) and the increase in the size and scope of the Central government after the 1874 Constitution – and in stages since then. Although, it should be pointed out, that the 20th century Liberal party in Switzerland was opposed to further centralisation – and was considered the opposite of the Social Democrats who became part of the Swiss govenrment in 1959 (and still are part of the Swiss government).

In Germany things were not good either. German liberalism was obsessed with nationalism. This became clear in 1848 – when the energies of the liberals were entirely devoted to building up a “nation called Germany” (an idea about as positive as the obsession with a “nation called Europe” is now).

Such a “unification” could only lead to higher taxes and so on (because of the reduction of tax and regulation competition between the various polities of the old Germany) – but the liberals (for the most part) did not seem to care about that.

Indeed even the opposition (it is wrong to call it resistance – as the liberals did not fire a shot) to the extra Parliamentary taxation (plundering) of Bismark after 1861 was not opposition to higher taxes as such, but just over who should increase the taxes.

That taxes “had to be” increased, in order to build up the Prussian Army to “unify” Germany (by such things as attacking Denmark, Austria and France……) was taken for granted by most Germans “liberals”. They just wanted to be in charge of doing it.

The Prussian liberals eventually split – into the “National Liberals” (who were Bismark’s slaves – till he turned on them as a “party of Jews”), and the “Progressives” who just went on about “civil liberties” (keeping rather quiet about the private property rights upon which civil liberties really depend) who eventually became the slaves of the Social Democrats (who, it should be remembered, were full socialists in Germany till the conference of 1959 when they moderated their position).

Bismark’s takeover of places such as the Kingdom of Hanover (and the increase in taxes upon the local people) do not seem to have produced much opposition from German Liberals.

Even the later creation of the Prussian Welfare State (with its roots in the “Police State” thinking of Frederick the Great and so on – long before) and Progressive (graduated) income taxation – seem to have only been opposed by a few isolated Liberal thinkers (not the mass of Liberal thought).

It is somewhat of a mircle that the few isolated thinkers that were all that was left of  “economic liberalism” in Germany by the Second World War (in the face of the German “Historical School” effort to wipe them out) were able to lauch such a comeback after World War II – although they were helped by the utter collapse of the National Socialists (the Nazis) and the wretched mess that the international socialists (the Marxists) produced in  East Germany. People (especially Catholic Conservatives) were looking for something else – and the few pro private enterprise (as opposed to Progressive) “liberal” thinkers in Germany provided it.

People (not just big “capitalists”) all sorts of people were looking for ideas that WORKED (a very German demand – as in the positive side of the German spirit) and the, relatively, free market policies offered to Germany from 1948 onwards did work.

And 19th century Italy?

Perhaps worst of all.

Mussolini was to say that his Fascism (all power to the state) was the “opposite of liberalism” (with its desire to reduce the size and scope of the state).

But there is little evidence for this in 19th century Italy (bar a few islolated thinkers) – on the contrary Italian Liberalism was obsessed with “unification”.

What did this mean in practice? In meant language persecution (with places like Venice having Tuscan forced down upon the people – as “standard Italian”), it meant conscription (for example Sicily did not have conscription before “unification”), it meant plundering (of Churches in Rome – and of private banks in Naples, whose wealth went to the new “Italian Treasury”) and it meant HIGHER TAXES.

Taxes in the South of Italy (the old Kingdom of Naples and Sicily) basically doubled – no wonder so many Southern Italians fled their “liberation” to go all the way to the United States. But a century and a half of brainwashing state eduation have made Italians forget all this – and resistance (which lasted for decades in Sicily) is written up as “bandit activity”.

In spite of its high taxes, the Liberal Kingdom of Italy was always on the verge of bankrutpcy – going from pratfall to pratfall till it collapsed in the face of the Fascists in the 1920s.

What to make of all this?

Well Karl Marx had no trouble explaining the contradiction between the pro freedom words of the Liberals and there less than pro freedom actions.

To him liberalism was just an “ideology” representing the “interests of the capitalists” – so governments would do what was in the interests of these “capitalists”.

The trouble with the Marxist account is that it is not true. For example some big business enterprises may have gained by Italian government’s Imperial adventures – but most big business enterprises lost by the high taxation and the messed up national finances.

In Germany Bismark never ruled in the interests of business – on the contrary he secretly subsidized the first socialists (whose movement he only turned against when it became powerful) in order to scare business people into not imposing his high tax policies (it is me or the Reds lads), and the people who followed Bismark were worse than he was. It is always possible to find business enterprises who benefit from statism – but that does not alter the fact that most of “big business” LOSES by it.

So what does explain why liberalism fell so short of its promise?

Anti clericalism is part of it – for example in Germany the Liberals mostly strongly supported Bismark’s “War of Culture” persecution of the Roman Catholics. Hardly a libertarian position – and one that made their own position, as Liberals, an isolated one. After all why should the Catholics support the Liberals when Bismark turned upon the latter as a “party of Jews”? The Liberals had not supported the freedom of the Catholics. And the Catholics (from 1891) fell more and more into forms of economic interventionism of their own – becomming the divided group of people they still are (Catholic “Social Teaching” is actually riven by rival “interpretations”).

But the main factor was the obsession with the “nation”.

Liberals rejected loyality to the old Kings and Princes (or to the little Free Cities) and they certainly rejected loyality to an international Church.

But they had a loyalty of their own – to the new “nation state” (whether in Latin America, Europe, or the “New Nationalism” and “New Freedom” of the American Progressive moverment which corrupted American liberalism – once American liberals had opposed the Progressives, but by the 1920s they had become one and the same, only the most reactionary elements in American life, the American versions of “Colonel Blimp and the old school tie” stood up in defence of Civilisation against the Progressive onslaught of eugenics and other horrors – much as the Hapsburgs, and other such, stood against it in Europe).

This Progressive nationalism (the interests of “the nation”, “the people”), not the “squalid interests of the capitalists”, eventually became the guiding light of liberalism.

But it collapsed in the horror of the unlimited “total wars” – the First World War and the Second World War.

“Well at least liberals have rejected nationalism now Paul”.

Yes they certainly have – so totally that they have forgotten that they were nationalists – and, sadly, they have replaced it with something WORSE.

There was always an elment in the New Liberalism (Progressivism) that was not satisfied with nationalism – after all some nations might collapse into “reactionary” forms of thought (perhaps even such “absurdities” as “natural law” like the more reactionary Catholics, Protestants and Jews).

The most “learned” (in the sense of the vile twisted “wisdom” one gets from, say, studying the works of Sauron – the basis of so much social sciences and humanities work in the universities and schools….) Progressives were never really satisfied with the tup thumping Proto National Statism of someone like “Teddy” Roosevelt – a man whose bark was often worse than his bite – for example he might not with agreement to an argument that blacks were inferior, but exterminate them? not a chance, he “even” used the same toilets as black people – which an “intellectual” such as Woodrow Wilson would never do. Deep down there was still something of the reactionary “gentleman” about T. Roosevelt (for all his Progressive ideas). And there was a fear that such people could never “rise above” the petty and weak ideas of their national traditions.

A true Progressive intellectual (such as Woodrow Wilson) thought on a WORLD scale.

They still worshipped the state – but it was (in their muddy dreams) a WORLD state. With nowhere, anywhere, for the “reactionary” and “inferior” to flee to.

Only a world state could ever truly be the new “God” – to replace the old fashioned (“bearded man in the sky”) view of God, that Progressive “Social Gospel” thought wished to transform into a religion of “the people” and “collective salvation”.

Even Woodrow Wilson never quite “freed himself” from the “moral chains of good and evil” that had been taught to him in childhood – and by the habits of his nation.

Marxism and other developments of international collectivism really made an impact later – cutting off the last links with concepts of “good” and “evil” in terms of personal conduct and honour.

The world state would not be a “state” – it would be “the people” the new “God”. And good would be (as with extreme theological “voluntarism” which is similar to legal and philosophical “Positivism”) whatever served the interests of this new “God” as worked out by the “enlightened elite”. Whether they called themselves, Marxist, Progressive, or “Liberal”.

As terrible as the 19th century alliance between Liberalism and Nationalism was – the 21st century alliance between Liberalism and COLLECTIVIST “internationalism” may prove to be even worse.

Roman law, modern law and “Feudal” law – a hint as to what that wild madman Paul Marks is on about.

I am no legal expert (“we have noticed Paul”), but I do want to give an hint about what I am on about when I mention the words “Feudal law” or Roman law or modern law – it if be wrong….. well see later for my “get out of jail” card on that.

Before I say anything more I had better state that one can have serfdom without feudalism (for example the Emperor Diocletian established de facto serfdom by declaring that peasants could not leave the land – and many other legal systems had done this before him) and one can have feudalism without serfdom (places like Sark, feudal to only a couple of years ago, were not known for serfdom).

“Feudalism” is (if it is anything – other than just a word) a system where people swear loyality (they make an active choice) it is a MILITARY thing at base, and “feudal” law is about (fundementally) such blood contracts (after all one is swearing to defend someone to the death – one’s own death, and the other side of this contract, the obligations of one’s lord, has to be fundemental also) are based on tradition and custom – made into formal law. That is why (by the way) “Feudal” law can be different in different places – different old customs and traditions.

“Feudal” law can not, logically, be anything else (than old customs and traditions presented as formal law). as if this law can be changed by “the Prince” (either a Roman Emperor or a modern “legislature”) then they can not be part of a contract – as they are, effectively, “above the law” (because the can change it whenever they feel like doing so).

One swears to defend one’s lord to the death and he (or she – for a fedual overlord can be female) swears to unhold the law (as, for example, Henry the First of England did in his formal charter of 1100 – in order to get the people to rally to him against his older brothers) – if the “the law” is simply whatever they say it is (as with a Roman Emperor or a modern Parliament or other legislature) then this is not Feudalism – any more than the “my honour is loyality” of the SS was the warrior code of Northman (indeed, as Tolkien noted, to pretend that there is no difference between honour and loyality – and to hold that loyality is unconditional, i.e. that one will do dishonorable things if ordered to do so, is a direct and deliberate MOCKERY of the traditional honour code). One swears to to defend one’s lord to the death (one’s own death) in return not for “protection” (that is a Roman view of law – or a modern one – after all if one is promising to shed one’s life’s blood for someone else personal protection is not the main thing in play), but for JUSTICE for the upholding of tradition and custom. Seen as a manifestation in this world of divine and universal justice (different in details from place to place – but not in fundemenal PRINCIPLE and, for the same reason, not changing fundemenally over time). This is why the oath is a sacred thing – based on the creator of the universe and the natural law itself.

“All theory Paul – what does this mean in PRACTICE?”

Very well.

First for Roman law (i.e. late Roman law – the law of the Empire). For this I will turn to “Justinian’s Institutes” (Cornell University Press 1987). By the way this is only a tiny part of Roman law of the time – there were many volumes of the writings of previous law officers and the legislation of Emperors (actually the truth of the so called “Code of Justinian” is that most of it is not from Justinian and it is not a code, the “Twelve Tables” back in 450 B.C. may or may not have been a code, but the endless rules and regulations that Romans lived under more than a thousand years later certainly were not a code).

In this work it is stated (Book Two, section one “The Classification of Things”) that neither the seashore or rivers can be privately owned.

So no private beaches under Roman law – and no protected fishing (or protection of water supply from rivers) either.

Anyone may fish where they like – and no private person or association (what Romans would call a “collegia” – spelling alert) may restrict water supply by stating that it is private (they can do that with a well – but not with a river).

In the modern age such thing as Spanish law (that holds that no river is private) and even supposedly Common Law New Zealand (where the last Labour party government nationalized the sea shore) follow the idea that neither rivers or the sea shore (the beaches) can be private property.

It is very different under Feudal law – the notion of “private property” may not be formally stated (that depends on the exact type of “Feudal” law we are talking about – for example it was stated under the law of Norway) the King (as lord of lords) may (or may not) formally “own” everthing – but he certainly can not BEHAVE as if he does (more on that later).

And rivers and beaches can be de facto owned under Feudal law.

For example under Scots law (inherited from their local version of feudal law) right up to 1845, if you wanted to sell something you gave a public display of what it was – remember most people could not read.

And if you wanted to sell private fishing rights (something that can not exist under Roman law) you, as well making a speech before witnesses (plus anyone who wanted to turn up to the river to watch the former owner of the fishing rights sell them to someone else) you handed over a fish.

For land it was some earth (on the site you were selling – again before witnesses), for the hunting rights of birds it was a bird (again….) and so on.

Also under Roman law the owner of a transport service (say someone who makes their living with a couch or carts) or the owner of an inn (or other establishment of business) could not turn away a customer – could not “discriminate” against them (to use modern language) as the owner of a transport service was a “common carrier” and the owner of an inn provided “public accomidations”.

Feudal law does not even know what “common carriers” and “public accomidations” are.

If you owned a cart (or some such) you could transport people or goods. And if you owned a building you could put people up (in return for payment).

But you did not have to do so – if you did not want to.

Owning a cart did not make you part of a special caste that served the state (indeed the term “state” does not really fit into feudal thinking – it is a Roman term or a modern term).

Ditto if you owned a building and put people (if you had a mind to) in return for money, that did not mean you were a special sort of animal called a “public accomidations” person serving the needs of the state (whatever “the state” is supposed to be).

But all the above misses the point anyway……..

As the point is – if Justinian (or some other Emperor) had decided (on a whim) to change the above “legal principles” they could (they were above the law – and could make the law whatever their WILL wished it to be).

If a feudal overlord said one day “I have decided to change the law – after all the law is whatever I say it is”. People would have thought they had gone mad – they might even have called a priest to fight against the demon or devil that had taken over the mind of their lord.

Of course one would fight to the death to save the life of one’s lord – but the lord had no rightful power to “change the law”. After all that would mean a power to overthrow custom and tradition – the manifestation in the land (the spirit of the land) of the law of God, the natural law of the universe. This might manifest itself differently in different lands (depending on the customs and traditions of that land and people), but the fundemental principles of the law were divine and universal.

Of course Roman legal thinkers (like Greek Stoics and Aristotelians before them) also accepted the existance of natural law – but they held that state law trumped it.

“Feudal” thinking (when understood the concept of “the state” at all – which it did not really) held the exact opposite.

The King might give orders in battle and war (and so on) – but if his orders went against the law, they were void (at least to a man of honour). That is why “the spirit of Nurenberg” (“I was only obeying orders”) might be fine from a Roman point of view – but does not make any sense from a “feudal” one.

The lord may call upon you to fight to the death – indeed he should not have to call (you should do that without him asking). But he may not order you to rob or murder someone else – to commit an injustice.

Of course terrible injustices (mass murder, rape and so on) might still occur. But if someone said “what I did was lawful because the Prince (or council or….) told me to it” then they simply showed (even to a person with no learning at all) that they simply did not understand what the words “right” and “law” meant – and were, at best, insane.

Canon Law (church law – and it is impossible to understand “feudal” law without understanding the influence of religion upon it – whether Christian or PAGAN) held the same view – see Brian Tierney’s “The Idea of Natual Rights” (Emery University 1997).

Like Roman Law, Canon Law held that there was positive law (the commands of the Prince – of council in a Republic like Venice) and natural law.

But (like “feudal” thinking) it turned the Roman law thinking on its head.

Far from “positive” law trumping natural law – natural law trumped the “will of the ruler”.

Hence more than a thousand years of Church-State disputes (or disputes between Canon Lawyers and Roman Lawyers – in spite of them, in many ways, shareing the same tradition) they looked at things in reverse ways.

“That was just because the Church wanted to declare what natural law was – as a power grab”

Partly YES – but the Church always made a distinction between Christian practices (the rules of the Church) and the universal laws of God – that applied to nonChristians as much as to Christians (indeed even to nonChristians AGAINST Christians).

Of course some Popes and so on were corrupt scumbags guilty of every crime known to man – but some were not, and even the worst of them held that there were things they should not do (even if they did them) the idea that their WILL was law, would have been denounced as the vomit of the Devil (even by the worst Popes.

Canon lawyers (like “Feudal” ones) would have regarded the pretensions of modern Parliaments (and “human rights” courts) to change fundemental law as they see fit – as, at best, insanity and (more likely) as clear evidence that these “legislatures” and “judges” were agents of the Evil One.

And one must not think that such people were stupid or filled with silly fancies. Many of the Popes and theologians of the past were profound legal thinkers and philosophers – not every Pope spent their time chasing girls and murdering rivals (and even the oness that did often did good work also).

Still back to “Feudal” law – and a single example to come to the end of this post……

I draw from “A Summery view of the feudal law, with the differences of the Scots law from it; together with a dictionary of the select terms of the Scots and English law, by way of appendix” (John Dundas 1710).

As a general rule of thumb – the older an account of “feudal” law the better. As old accounts are more concerned with just laying the thing out – not (like Maitland and his, Blackstone influenced [no wonder the Founding Fathers of the United States despised Blackstone - with his doctrine that whatever Parliament declared was law], crew “explaining” what law “must” be i.e. whatever the state, Parliament, says it is).

Difference number 80.

“By the Feudal law no Man is forced to part with or sell his Few [fief of land] or any part of it.

By our law [i.e. law made by Parliament and so on] a vassel may be forced to give some part of it for High-ways and if his Neighbour be building a Park, or Inclosure, he may be forced to sell an adjacent corner of his Grounds to him, to perfect it”.

This is much like the so called “Edict of Quierzy” (877) which repeated the “old right” that not even a King of France could take the land of one person and give it to another (or himself).

To a Roman lawyer this makes no sense.

To a modern lawyer (such as that scumbag Maitland – and I am right to call him a “scumbag” after all he claims that no Act of Parliament “has ever been passed” that was irational or evil, so there is no need for any judge or jury to oppose an Act of Parliament as being against natural justice, a concept he scorns anyway – I could name a hundred Acts of Parliament passed before Maitland wrote that Devil-vomit lie, that were utterly evil and against basic natural justice) it makes no sense also.

As Maitland says, mocking the upholders of the “speculative dogma” of natural justice “We can  (its upholders seem to say) concieve that a statute might be so irational,  so wicked, that we would not want to enforce it; but as a matter of fact, we have never known such a statute made.”

Pages 107-108  “A Sketch of English Legal History” G.P. Putnam and Sons, New York and London (1915) chapter five (written by Maitland rather than his coarthor Francis Montague) on “Statute and Common Law”.

Oh you dog Maitland,  you pig  – may you be burning, even as I type these words,  for your lies. What of the Statute of Labourers that tried to reduce all peasants (including those who had always been free – such as the people of Kent) to serfs? Much in the manner of the Emperor Diocletian. Or the Stature of Artificers under the first Elizabeth that tried to turn all people (bar the rich) into de facto slaves – forbidden to practice any other trade than that of their father, and forbidden to leave the parish of their birth?  What of the “Black Act” (passed as late as the 1700s) that punished some two hundred crimes (some quite minor) with death?

What of so many other Acts of Parliament – both so irational and so wicked that no one (other than a monster) would uphold them?

However,  I hope the idea of law as trying (in the circumstances of  time and place) to give effect to the principles of jusice (NOT the WILL of the ruler or rulers – in the mannor of the late Roman Empire or of Thomas Hobbes and his “Legal Positivists” with their Hell vomit doctrine that whatever the “legistlature” declares is law)  makes a some sense to libertarians.

As for my errors – no doubt many and terrible……

I offer the words of John Dundas.

“If this Treatise should happen to be less correct, the Reader would be pleased to give himself the trouble to mend the Errors, and excuse what is amiss, this Book being given to be printed by a certain person when the Author was our of Town, and knew nothing of the publishing of it, not having designed so soon to send it abroad into the world.”

Two bad cases of the DTs

From The Telegraph on the subject of the predecessor to the Bloodhound SSC project…

Thrust SSC was, at 4m wide and 10 tonnes – powered by twin Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines, more commonly found beneath the wings of an F-4 Phantom II jet aircraft – an unwieldy beast. Rather than simply tweak its design, Noble and Green opted to begin from scratch. A slimmer, lighter car could, they reckoned, significantly outstrip Thrust. But first they needed jets.

This is what an F-4 Phantom looks like:

Do you see any engines under the wings? Now obviously I knew this already but finding that (and many more) images took 5s with Google. And it’s not like it’s an obscure ‘plane so anyone writing on this sort of stuff ought to know anyway.

If I were editor of the DT I’d carpet Mr Ross for such sloppy idleness. Now I’m a fair man so I’d give him a start before I released the hounds and wouldn’t spray his genitals with aniseed first. I reserve that as a unique punishment.

The second is this gem of bollocks reporting and woo-woo headlining.

Look, you numpty, this is what the USA thought of doing… They were going to detonate a kT range-yield nuke (I hate the term “atomic bomb” which is used in the article) to show the Soviets that the USA could hit the Moon or even in principle weaponize it. Bear in mind this was the ’50s when serious popular science journals were considering the (stupid and unworkable) idea of missile batteries on the moon. Unworkable because it took an entire Saturn V rocket to get three men there and stupid because it took three days to get there (or back). Who wants to launch a nuclear strike giving the other side that much notice? Of course in those days small (and not so small) boys were reading action comics in which the USMC (Space Division) and the Spetznaz (Space Division) would be slugging it out (with ray-guns, natch) over Copernicus Crater.

It all goes back perhaps to Arthur C Clarke (and maybe John Wyndam) and the concept of orbital weapons. Again a militarily ridiculous concept if you think about it*. Ultimately technical, military and economic logic won though against SF dreams and the sub-orbital ballistic missile was born. Couple that with a nuclear powered submarine and you have a far more potent weapon at orders of magnitude less money. You think a Vanguard or Ohio class submarine is expensive? Compare with the cost of building nuclear silos on the Moon…

I guess it hit a popular Zeitgeist based, perhaps, on the feeling that we’d gone from the Wright brother’s stick and string to Sputnik in half a century and from lobbing hand-grenades from primitive biplanes to Little Boy in even less time.

“Everyday it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller coaster”

-Buddy Holly.

Perhaps it’s also down to other little boys fantasizing about using their ray-guns to waste some tentacled horror and win the heart of the alien princess who might be green but that’s OK because she has unfeasibly large breasts (that’s Zero-G for you!). Seriously, the interaction between popular culture, fashion, trends in aerospace and governmental policy can’t be underestimated. Perhaps whoever wrote this Telegraph schlock was one of those little boys but of course this persisted long after the ’50s. Consider two films from about 1980. There was a sort of proto-”Deep Impact” movie (I forget the name) which featured pre-existing Soviet and US nukes being turned against an incoming meteor or some such and also of course “Moonraker” with the USMC in space-combat with Drax’s mob. Drax also has deadly weapons in space. Of course he does! And he wears a Mao suit.

Instead we had Apollo. You know they left medals commemorating lost cosmonauts as well as the astronauts who died in the Apollo oxygen fire?

Back to Earth! The wider problem I see with this hopelessly sloppy reporting on aerospace related issues by the dear old DT is that this is a subject I know a lot about. And it isn’t just the DT. They are all at it. The contempt the MSM scribblers show for basic fact checks and employing anyone competent** in the first place is staggering. And this is something I know about so I can chortle but what about the huge numbers of things I don’t really know about? That’s a worry. I don’t have the internal knowledge to appraise immediately nor the time to acquire it. They can’t sell me a load of pony on certain things but on others… And the same dear reader applies to you. None of us are polymaths anymore.

But as to the aerospace specifically, suspect deep-down it is a symptom of an ingrained belief amongst the “serious” papers (the ones without unfeasibly large breasts – more honest – you know where you are with a tit) that the really important stuff only happens between Whitehall and Wapping and getting actual facts – easy, non-controversial, non-debatable facts correct about all that nasty, complicated stuff with “like sums with letters in them” doesn’t really matter to their journalism trained minds. Something Michael Gove said is ever so much more important. No. It. Isn’t. When the Govester and his EBacc are mere footnotes in Hansard (some other wanker will be re-arranging the deckchairs by then anyway) studied only by the dullest of graduate students people will remember Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins.

Well, that tech-stuff does matter and I’d much rather read something written by someone with no qualifications in journalism but an understanding of the area they are reporting on anyway. As I said, in many areas I don’t know what to think because I don’t trust what I read not just because it is propaganda or lies or deranged opinion but because I can’t accept the basic, verifiable, “truths” they use within the piece as real or otherwise because I know how sloppy they are on things I do know because I know they don’t even care to find out an F-4 Phantom has fuselage mounted engines rather than under-wing ones. I’ll leave the penultimate words to a quote from Bertrand Russell (I think this is about right),

I’d rather be reported by my worst enemy in philosophy than someone ignorant of it.

Quite, Bert.

Without facts to argue from analysis and opinions are devoid of meaning. Without a respect for facts analysis and opinions range from doubtful to disingenuous to out-right “Noble Lies” (in the Platonic sense).

I want to know truth and not an unreality built upon a lack of genuine, objective facts. Every ignoring of reality (whether deliberate or through idleness or stupidity) contributes towards an “invented reality” so let’s ultimately hear from Jorge Luis Borges.

Ten years ago, any symmetrical system whatsoever which gave the appearance of order — dialectical materialism, anti-Semitism, Nazism—was enough to fascinate men. Why not fall under the spell of Tlön and submit to the minute and vast evidence of an ordered planet? Useless to reply that reality, too is ordered.

- Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

PS. I know this rambles. I’ve spent too long on it.
PPS. I know (see PS) this is posted after Levenson introduced (BBC – “His long-awaited enquiry results”. Not by me it wasn’t. I wasn’t calling for the DT to be taken to task by the “Regulators” (think Western movies) over these inexcusably bad pieces of journalism. No. I was calling for the likes of us to point out and laugh because, like a small boy who sees a potentate in the nip.

*Either geostationary over Moscow and DC or in predictable orbits or burning lots of fuel to vary orbit which would mean a very limited life-span or some form of space refueling.
**In the first article there is some wibbling about “Computational Fluid Dynamics”. Clearly the author hasn’t a clue what he is on about.

The terrible year of 1986.

A post on an often overlooked year – 1986. A year in which events occured that had (and are having) terrible consequences.

A British person when hearing of the date “1986″  will think (if they think of anything) of the “Single European Act” – formally it came into effect in 1987, but the agreement was made in 1986. Mrs Thatcher was told that the agreement with the European Economic Community (as some still called it at the time) would lead to free trade, an open market, and was, therefore a good thing for a free market person to agree to.

Of course Mrs Thatcher’s information came from officials – note to all politcians, the moment you start to rely on official information (and interpretations) you are lost. For you are no longer really in power – the officials are.

This is not hidesight – I remember as a university undergraduate knowing what the Single European Act was really about, and my friends all knew as well. We all knew that it meant that the EEC (EC – now EU) would be able to impose any regulation it liked in vast areas of life (the British veto having gone  – in these areas) and under vague words like “health” the Euros would be able to crush liberty in this land. The later works of such people Christopher Booker and Richard North just confirmed what we expected to happen. Lord Denning (and many others) had predicted the crushing of Common Law principles by Euro edicts (of course happily extended by British officials – overjoyed to have all restraints on their power destroyed by the Single European Act) at the time.

It was not an open market – it was a “single market” (a very different thing). In an open market customers decide what they want to buy – in a single market officials decide what customers should buy.

However, other terrible things happened in the year 1986.

The other great evil to hit Britain in 1986 was the “Big Bang” in the City of the London – the financial centre.

“But that was deregulation Paul” – it was deregulation, if by “deregulation” you mean government intervention ripping up the rules of private clubs and subtituting its own rules – a government definition of a “free market” defined not by what people had actually evolved over time (by voluntary interaction), but by following the “perfect competition” model from neoclassical economics text books.

There is some evidence that even the people who originally thought up the perfect competition conception only thought of it as theorectical tool (not as a picture of how the world was – or should be), and certainly the Austrian School of economics disputes the concept from start to finish – but the government went ahead anyway. It knew what a market “should” be – and if the people who actually built the markets thought differently, they must be wrong.

Remember although the London stock exchange was created in 1801, there was no law preventing anyone setting up a rival stock market (not before 1986 anyway). And also no law preventing people buying and selling shares “off exchange”. So the City of London (with all its guild like “restrictive practices”) was actually a voluntary institution. In fact a series of private clubs – covering the selling stocks and shares, insurance, commodities (and so on).

What had “deregulation” actually brought? The end of the great partnerships that created the City (the investment banks) – the partners sold up and ran away (not exactly a vote of confidence in the new order – from people some of whom had been in the City for generations). And the self employed stock brokers (who bought shares for the public) and stock jobbers (who sold shares for companies) were replaced by enterprises that did both (no conflict of interest there) and whose employees tended to have no lasting relationship with clients (they see them as cash cows – no more). And, of course, thousands of pages of government regulations (Financial Services Acts – and agencies to enforce them) with endless box ticking.

Somehow this not really seem like “deregulation” to me – in fact I think it will be the death of the City of London. But only time will tell.

Turning to the United States….

An American will say “1986 is that the year the Republicans lost control of the United States Senate?” – yes it was, but I am not concerned with party politics here. I am concerned with policy.

In 1986 an amnesty Act was passed by the Congress (including the Republican Senate) and signed into law by President Reagan. It was not descibed as an amnesty Act of course – the people who voted for it (and Reagan when he signed it) thought they were “controlling immigration” from this point onwards – and (to start from a clean slate) people who had been in the country a long time (and were nice and good – and had puppy dogs with big eyes) would no longer fear being dragged from their homes by evil jack booted thugs from the government. After all this was how officials (and the media – following academia) explained everything to the politicians, just as they had during the 1965 immigration law debate – which first messed up American immigration law.

“But what is wrong with this Paul – free migration, sounds very libertarian”. So it might be – had the Supreme Court (5-4 some years before 1986) not ruled that government (local, State and Federal) had to give “free” (i.e. paid for by taxpayers) education and other benefits to illegal immigrants – otherwise it was “discriminating” against them.

And the few nice illegals (the ones with the puppy dogs with big eyes – the people who love America dearly and do not wave the Mexican flag and pray for the destruction of the United States, not even slightly) who got amnesty? There turned out to be three million of them and (of course) many more millions of illegals followed them into the United States, believeing that they would eventually also get amnesty. As Comrade Barack is doing by Executive Order right now, after all the illegals vote for him even though they are not citizens, thanks to the “Motor Voter” (a driving license is enough to vote) Act he supported as a Senator.

“We should try to win their support Paul” – a person (regardless of ethnic background) who loves the United States can enter legally right now (join the military – serve your term, and you have citizenship). Yes the American immigration system is a mess (and has been since at least 1965 – the Teddy Kennedy Act), but 1986 made it worse – and made it farcical.  Someone who believes the United States unjustly took land from Mexico in 1848 (ignoring the fact that the Mexican government, a military dictatorship,  also wanted war – and had its own expansionist plans) are not likely to vote for people who do not hate the United States. Odd that they are so eager to vote for Barack Obama – of course not odd at all. But have “free migration” as long as there are no government benefits (“free” education for the children and so on) – except, oh dear, there is that Supreme Court judgement  (see above) of some 30 years ago.

Lastly there is the another major Act of Congress from 1986 – one that may help to destroy civilisation, and not just in the United States.

Again neither the people in Congress or President Reagan understood what they were supporting (the officials, media, and academia – advised them again). They thought they were supporting an Act that prevented evil hospitals throwing women on to the street in the middle of giving birth (seriously – that is how the Act was presented to them, after all it is so wonderful for the reputation of a hospital to throw a women who is the middle of giving birth on to the street, they were doing it all the time……).

What did the Act really do?

It made “emergency” treatment (without proof of payment) compulsory at all private hospitals with an ER (formally a hospital was not covered by the Act if it in no way had anything to do with government schemes – in the age of Medicare try and avoid any involvement with government schemes…..).

Wonderful – free treatment for the poor (indeed for anyone – one might try and chase them up afterwards, but about half of them never pay so what is the point….). Accept someone has to pay to pay for all this “free” treatment – so the bill (as with all government mandates) got passed on to the people who were paying their bills. The people who had carried on with private insurance in spite of the previous government interventions – such as Medicare and Medicaid (which has the same effect on health cover costs as government backing for student loans had on college tuition fees – they sent costs into the upper atmosphere) and the endless regulations (insurance mandates and so on) that have so increased costs. No surprise – insurance bills (that now carry all the “free” treatment) have exploded since 1986.

American government (State and Federal) interventions have been pushing up the cost of healthcare since doctor licensing spread from State to State like a plague (that this is about “protecting the sick” was exposed as a lie by Milton Friedman – more than half a century ago, it really has the same purpose as lawyer licensing, to increase producer incomes by keeping people out of the market) and the FDA (this agency was made even worse in 1962 – turning the development of new medical drugs incredibly expensive and delaying their introduction for years, thus costing tens of thousands of human lives). However, it was the Act of 1986 that really sent American health cover into a death spiral – that pushed the costs of insurance (for the old mutual aid “fraternal” system had long been undermined) beyond the reach of ordinary people.

Most people still oppose “Obamacare” (which will complete the destruction of independent health care in the United States – replaceing it with crony capitalist “private providers” who will depend upon the government – till the government decides to get rid of the crony capitalists, as it already has with the providers of government backed student loans), but the majority of people that are opposed was not a big enough majority to stop it (let alone repeal it). After all  everyone agrees that “something must be done” and the “something” is always even more collectivism – “free” health care for all “children” up to the age of 26 (SCHIP on steroids – but paid for by the insurance companies, i.e. by their customers) no “denial” (i.e. honest priceing) of medical cover for “pre exiting conditions” and on and on – the honest insurance companies (oh yes there are some) will be bankrupted over time, and only the cronies (those in bed with the government – hoping to become “private providers” for government funded health cover) will remain. Already more and more employers are dropping health insurance for their employees – as they have worked out that the fines will be cheaper than paying the inflated (inflated by Obamacare regulations) costs of medical insurance.

Does anyone really believe that Mitt “Romneycare” Romney is going to be willing or able to repeal all this?

So American health care will fall – and more than this will fall. For this entitlement program is added to all the existing entitlements – the ones that are already bankrupting the United States.

So the United States will go into de facto bankruptcy. And it will not fall alone – most other major Western nations stand on the knife edge of economic collapse already. The fall of the United States will drag us over the cliff with it.

So, overall, 1986 was not a good year. It may even lead to the “Progressive” dream (of Richard Ely, mentor of  “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, more than a century ago) of the desruction of “selfish capitalism”. For the history of the last century (including 1986) has not been an accident – and nor has it been some hole-in-the-wall “conspiracy”.  On the contrary it has been out in the open  – for those who bothered to look.

The Progressives were open in their aims – and even in their means. They openly said in their books (the century old books that, for example, Glenn Beck tried to bring to public attention) that they would use schools, universities and the newspapers to fundementally transform society – by manipulating opinion (both public and political elite opinion). Truth does not matter to the Progressives (it has never mattered to them) only their cause matters – and they will use any lie and distortion to further their cause – the cause of the destruction of existing society, of “selfish capitalism”. The Fabians in Britain had much the same aims – and used much the same methods. Including the desire to dominate education – not just at university level, but at school level (via text books and “teacher training” – step forward Comrade Bill Ayers and “social justice” education).

The books are more subtle today – such books as “Looking Backward”, “Philip Dru: Administrator” and “New Deal” (oh yes there was such a book) were a lot more blatent in their love of tyranny and hatred of freedom (sorry hated of selfish capitalism) than “Freakonomics”,  “Nudge” and “Thinking – Fast and Slow”, but they have the same message. The message is as follows …. most people are vermin (“Homer Simpson” types) they are bound to be maniputed by someone (most likely by greedy capitalists) so why should not the noble we (the enlightened elite) manipulate them – for their own good. “Thinking Fast and Slow” is the most fundemental of the lot – it openly denies that people (apart from, nudge and wink, the noble author and his noble readers) are human beings, they do not really think (they do not really have free will) so someone must control them – for their own good……. Yes it is “So You Think That You Think” the fictional collectivist book (aimed at making people accept that they are vermin – fit only to be controlled by an enlightened elite) that Ayn Rand makes up in her novel “Atlas Shrugged” back in the 1950s (the collectivists never really change – and their “science” is actually as old as Plato).

“But Paul – how do you know the authors of Freakonmics and Nudge share the idealogy of the author of Thinking – Fast and Slow?” Errr  – the praise they give the latter work (on its front and back cover – and when interviewed) is a little hint. I did tell you that this was not a hole-in-the-wall conspiracy – it is quite open, if you look. What more do you want – for the evil elite to have glowing red eyes and tenticles? Sorry, but they look like ordinary folk – and have gentle voices full of charming wit (whereas their enemies, people like me, sound like old storm crows).

The Progressives may not share the doctrines of the Marxists (although modern Frankfurt School “cultural” Marxists do not seem to make a big thing of the actual doctrines of Karl Marx either) – but they share their aim (the destruction of selfish capitalism). Ditto the alliance with the Black Flag people (the so called “anarchists” who happily cooperate with the Red Flag Marxists in such things as the international “Occupy” movement and the unions the collectivists control, for you see the Black Flag “anarchists” do not really oppose collectivism, they just want to rename the state “the people” and then get on with the looting and killing) – the Progressives may (privately) sneer and their uncouth allies – but leading Progressives (such as Mr George Soros and the other rich people who fund such things as the “Tides Foundation”) still fund them. And Progressive teachers and college Profs understand that both the Red Flag Marxists and the Black Flag “anarchists” are allies – allies against “selfish capitalism”, the old world they must destroy in order to build their perfect world.

Of course I am a reactionary – I do not believe that the interventions (the ever higher government spending and ever greater regulations) make the world a better place. And many of the Progressives do not believe that either – they believe (along with the Marxists who follow the “Cloward and Piven” doctrine and others) that the ever greater statism will destroy the present world – and, thus, (in their minds) leave things open for the building of the perfect world.

The “Fabian Window” (perhaps the most blatent example of evil turned into a work of art – and the Fabians were natural allies of the Progressives) makes this clear – wolves in sheep’s clothing, trickery and lies (openly praised), the world held over a fire and beaten with hammers (in order to create a better world – regardless of the human cost). George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells openly talked of the tens of millions of human beings they wished to kill (not because they hated them “I do not hate anyone” said Shaw), but simply because they were in the way – in the way of creating the perfect world (the Heaven on Earth). And these evil people remain “liberal” heros to this day – ever seen a television show or a Hollywood film where they are shown as “bad guys”?. And, of course, they went on to support the Soviet Union – with Mr and Mrs Webb pretending that tens of millions of people were not being murdered (remember lying is O.K. if it is for the Progressive cause). Mrs Webb had some doubts, over the mass killings in Poland when the Soviets invaded in 1939 – you know when they were the allies of Adolf Hitler, but Mr Webb simply told her that “in a century no one will even remember this”. All was justified to build the “New Civilisation”.

And the American Progressives were the same. With Hollywood personalities busy doing such things as justifying the Soviet invasion of Finland – “I have been there and it seemed a little Fascist Republic to me” said Lillian Hellman (wife of  Dashiell Hammett [1929 "Red Harvest" evil capitalist America "Poisonville"] – together they made the prototype “celeb” Progressive power couple, both in Hollywood and in literary circles). One could always tell when Hellman was lying – her lips moved, not only was Finland not Fascist but Hellman had not been there.

One could go on and on – and people may already be bored (although in 1986  – and 2012 the Progressive celebs are just as powerful in cultural circles). And there is the standard defence (made by “anti McCarthyites”, even though Joe was actually interested in Communist agents of influence in the government not in the culture,  since the 1940s) “they are not Marxists”.  And they may not be – they may not have read a page of “Das Kapital” . The “Progressives” just share the objectives of the Marxists – the extermination of the existing society of  “selfish capitalism” (and anyone who defends it – rich or poor “henchman of the capitalists”), and the building of the wonderful new perfect world.

However, I am such a reactionary that I not only believe that that their interventionism (their ever higher government spending and ever more regulations) makes the world worse (not better) than it otherwise would be -  I also believe that their wonderful new perfect world (the one they dream of creating on the ashes of the existing world) would be Hell on Earth.

Self ownership

I have an issue with the ‘All rights are property rights’ argument. There is a problem, a big problem, with the Rothbardian claim that the basis of rights is self ownership. A fundamental of ownership is the right to dispose of property, and that I cannot dispose of myself, sell myself, demonstrates that I do not own myself.

I am not complaining about this, I am committed to the conviction that that humans are not, and cannot be, property; that ownership of a human being can be vested in nobody and property rights simply do not apply.

It is the case that although convention allows a live person to specify the means of disposal of their remains, ownership of the corpse is vested in no one, not even the estate, and what is true of a dead body cannot be any less true of a living one.

Does this harm the arguments for freedom? Nope, not at all. Far from it defeating the ‘I own myself, therefore your interfering with me is an interference with my property’, it simply modifies it. Instead, it is a matter of ‘neither you, nor anyone else, may ever have any ownership authority over me, therefore you may never have basis to interfere’.

I would argue the non ownership argument strengthens my right to live my life without interference, rather than weakening it.

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