I have got to tell you, my co blogger on this site, IanB, sometimes pisses me right off. There I am, getting on with my life, all safe and secure in my smug and insufferable superiority towards my fellow man (and woman)(fellow woman? Hmm. Let me think about that), and I come across a posting or a comment by Ian which brings me right back to Earth. I read his words and, again, yet again, have my nose rubbed in the reality that there really are people out there with a level of insight way beyond mine.
Time and time over, in the presence of Ian’s musings, I find myself wondering why I didn’t think of that, and feeling annoyed that he did first.
So, it is with the most inordinate pleasure I find myself, possibly, being able to address a question he has declared himself unable to answer.
A post over at Charlotte Gore’s gaffe ask for discussion of one of the most vexing collectivist arguments- well at least I find it one of the most vexing anyway. It started me thinking very hard, as this is one collectivist position I’ve had intensely frustrating arguments about, but have never been able to score a palpable hit. It came up over and over again at one particularly progressive-liberal place I used to frequent, and my opponents would always ride off with a triumphant smirk while I was left mute and stymied, despite being certain I was right somehow. In a nutshell it goes like this-
“The state can bring in whatever laws it likes, as everyone is a signatory of the social contract who empowers the government to legislate. If you don’t like it, you are free to leave”.
Now libertarians don’t accept any of this of course. But the issue is; can we prove it wrong?
I think I can, and it is all about the validity of the ‘social contract’ itself.
First of all, we are presupposing a state where I, in my small way as a citizen, have an equal input into the policies the state pursues. This could happen in a number of ways, but lets just, for ease, call them all democracy. This is important, because if I have no say then there is no contract, only forcible coercion, and the question is moot.
So, we have our democracy, and the people in electorates assembled make their decisions using whatever means they have decided are fit. Now, when contributing my mite to the decisions, the more perfect the information available to me the better will be the quality of my decision making. The less perfect the information available to me the more questionable the decision I, and everyone else, makes.
If we are lied to, fed disinformation or am otherwise deprived of pertinent information the less valid will be the choice I and everyone else makes. If the state, through one means or another, acts to limit or degrade the information available the less valid will be the contract between me and all other parties in the wider society, because that contract won’t be an informed agreement. If the state, through its representatives, acts to limit my freedom and reduce my access to information I, or they, may have considered pertinent, then the social contract is abrogated.
If we jointly elect a repressive government, then fine, the contract is intact. However, the instant that government enacts mildly repressive legislation, affecting my ability to make fully informed decisions, the contract is diminished. As repression builds, and information is degraded, so the contract is whittled away, until the state abolishes it completely.
So, there we have it. The social contract cannot be used to justify anything other than requiring the state to leave us to our freedom. Any other course of action by the state is a breach of that contract.
Now, I fully accept that this thesis isn’t complete, It needs a great deal of work done expanding it to cover areas of repression where information degradation isn’t immediately obvious, but still, it is a start.
Ian, I would appreciate being shown where I am wrong.