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Re: [azsecularhumanists] Re: rights v. power struggles

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  • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
    ... Arbitrary control of a population where none is needed is obviously unnecessary. There is very little of that anywhere in the world, because it is not
    Message 1 of 24 , Dec 8, 2002
      >Have you considered the possibility that less use of force = less
      >control of the population, and that a less controlled population
      >creates more prosperity than a more controlled one? You seem to take
      >as a given that the population will be (is) controlled, and the only
      >variable is how much force it takes to accomplish that control.

      Arbitrary control of a population where none is needed is obviously
      unnecessary. There is very little of that anywhere in the world,
      because it is not profitable to anyone. Where members of a population
      have a conflict of interest, however, it is vital that one side or
      the other of the conflict establish control. If the workers and peasants
      want to control the value of their labour, but the factory owners and
      the landlords also want to control it, there will be conflict, and one
      side or another must take control. If the owner and landlord dominated
      government simply elected not to use force, the result would be that their
      profits would be minimized. That is what drives class struggle.

      >> It is
      >> far easier to keep unruly workers in line by bribing them with
      >> superprofits exploited from the third world than by shooting them
      >> and imprisoning them.
      >
      >I had a professor in college who had spent some years living in China
      >and studying Chinese social theory and economic practice. She threw
      >out a line very similar to the above, and then asked everyone to
      >define "exploitation". As you can imagine, she got as many different
      >answers as there were students in the course.
      >
      >The use of ill-defined words like "imperialism" and "exploitation" do
      >more to confuse than to enlighten. Let's stick to specific actions
      >and words with precise definitions.

      These words have been well defined in the works of Marx, Engles and Lenin.
      If those claiming to be friends of working people often choose to distort
      the definitions for their own ends, that will not keep me from using these
      words.

      Exploitation: The extraction of surplus value from labour.

      Imperialism: The extraction of surplus value from whole nations.

      >For instance, if a government
      >exerts control over the natural resources rightly owned by
      >individuals in another country by the use of military force, kills
      >some of the local population and redirects the profits from those
      >resources to a few well-connected businessmen then indeed some
      >terrible crimes have been committed. Those crimes are THEFT and
      >MURDER, on a trillion-dollar, international scale. Call it what it
      >is, "theft" and "murder", not "exploitation" and "imperialism".

      Neither theft nor murder is appropriate. Theft is expropriation of
      resources when not sanctioned by the state. Murder is killing not
      sanctioned by the state.

      >If
      >you are opposing theft and murder committed by government, you will
      >find in me committed ally.

      Since theft and murder by definition cannot be committed by government,
      your use of these words makes little sense.

      >On the other hand, if a business opens a factory in a third world
      >country because the labor is cheaper there, and the locals choose to
      >work in that factory rather than doing whatever they were doing
      >before, then no theft has occurred. Sure, the businessman may get
      >rich but he has not done so through the use of force, he has simply
      >engaged in trade and commerce. You may (and I'm sure do) have other
      >reasons for opposing the businessman getting rich while the employees
      >work for low wages in his factory...but it's not the same situation
      >as forceful killing and murdering.

      Yes it is. Killing will come into factor if the workers fight to get
      their surplus value back.

      >It has been my experience that terms like "exploitation"
      >and "imperialism" are used in an attempt to blur the lines between
      >peaceful trade and military force, between economic differentiation
      >and forced subjugation. This harms rather than helps the cause of
      >peace.

      There is no distinction. One supports the other.

      >> This also could not explain
      >> why a prosperous society such as ours would be so brutal to people
      >> in third world countries to secure profits. Evidently "rights"
      >> that apply within this prosperous country are not being
      >externalized.
      >
      >Indeed they are not...and to the extent that the U.S. Government
      >fails to respect the rights of others, either domestically or abroad,
      >I am among its harshest critics.

      You may indeed be a harsh critic, and if you are, I consider you my
      ally, but you still don't explain your reasoning about the supposed
      existence of natural human rights. Evidently if there be such things,
      they are honoured primarilly in the breach. The supposed right of
      non-participants not to be killed in war is the most glaring example,
      as I don't know of a single war in which they have been spared.

      >Kevin, it is clear that you are not really in favor of peace. You
      >simply want someone other than the U.S. to "win" a war based on
      >class, or race, or nationality. I don't advocate there to BE any
      >war. You want some "class" other than the one currently in power to
      >take power by force. I don't advocate there to BE anyone empowered
      >to commit such horrible crimes as are being committed by our
      >government and other governments worldwide. The lessons of the
      >Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, et. al. show us what happens
      >when the attempt is simply to empower the "worker class". Mass state-
      >sponsored murder and poverty is the result. No thanks, you can keep
      >your "worker's paradise".

      It is foolish to disdain the system that showed the world that
      backward countries can rapidly industrialize without enslaving
      themselves to capital and which brought about in a formerly backward
      country the first manned spaceflight. The current crises in Cuba
      and People's Korea and the counterrevolutions in Russia and China
      are only proof that socialism can successfully be embargoed, blockaded,
      and otherwise attacked from without. So was the French Revolution.
      That didn't prove that capitalism and republicanism were inferior to
      feudalism and monarchy.

      >You accused Mike of wanting to "split the peace movement", but to be
      >part of the peace movement you have to be in favor of PEACE. The
      >peace movement is not the "Anti-America" movement, or the "Worker's
      >class uprising" movement; it's the "Anti-WAR" movement. Someone who
      >wishes to violently destroy America is just as much of a warmonger as
      >someone who wishes to violently destroy Iraq. If you want to claim
      >that being consistently anti-war is unrealistic, you're entitled to
      >your opinion. But claiming to be part of the peace movement while
      >calling hostile, waring actions by one side "heroic" is inconsistent,
      >whether the side you're cheering is the U.S. or al-Qaida.
      >
      >Rather than a few people benefitting from criminal American military
      >actions, you attribute the prosperity of the entire nation to "third
      >world exploitation". I don't see evidence of that, rather I see
      >evidence that our relative prosperity is primarily attributable to
      >our inventiveness, resulting from a culture and public policy of
      >relative individual freedom. You attribute the majority of the
      >suffering of those in the third world to American "imperialism". I
      >don't see evidence for that as the MAJOR cause. Most of those people
      >have always been impoverished, and have their own corrupt,
      >kleptocratic governments to blame for it as much or more than any
      >outside influence. Does that excuse the crimes of those individuals
      >who have used military force to enrich themselves? Of course not.
      >Nor does it minimize the suffering of the individuals victimized by
      >that force. But to characterize it as you have, as the primary cause
      >of both US prosperity and third-world suffering, is inconsistent with
      >what I know of the world.

      Given that many of the terrible governments in the third world are
      maintained by imperialist money (so-called foreign aid, which does
      more to harm than help), imperialist financed coups d'etat (e.g. Chile),
      and the threat of sanctions and outright war against governments that
      refuse to comply (Yugoslavia, Iraq, People's Korea etc.), this is
      entirely consistent with what I know of the world. The prosperity of
      Europe was built on the backs of the labouring peoples of Africa,
      India, and Asia. The prosperity of North America was built on genocide
      and expropriation of large quantities of free and very rich agricultural
      land and virgin resources.

      For all these differences, Jason, we are soldiers in the same trench.
      I do not require that my allies be Communists, and many of my allies
      have serious disagreements with me on major issues. David Duke would
      hardly approve of Communism either, and neither would members of
      the Aryan Nations or al-Qaida. I am not a pacifist, it is true. I
      have never pretended to be one. I am in the peace movement to oppose
      American imperialist aggression, and we have this in common, even if
      you are not comfortable using the word "imperialism". Mike Renzulli
      is also my ally, even if he considers himself to be my enemy. He has
      made the grave mistake of driving out allies, and of trying to divide
      those who are opposed to American imperialist aggression. This
      coming war with Iraq is the immediate crisis, and I am against it,
      even if you and Mike Renzulli think it is for the wrong reasons.

      By excluding those who are against the war for reasons which you or
      Mike find morally repugnant, you are only weakening the anti-war cause.
      While some of what we have discussed is relevant to secular humanism
      (which was, in fact Muhammed Atta's philosophy, not Islamic fundamentalism),
      this debate should really be going on in the azpeace room. As I
      am excluded from it, this obviously isn't possible at the moment.

      --Kevin
    • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
      ... I believe human rights exist independently (indeed supercede) any state. Theft is expropriation of property that is rightly owned by another. Murder is
      Message 2 of 24 , Dec 8, 2002
        --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
        > Neither theft nor murder is appropriate. Theft is expropriation of
        > resources when not sanctioned by the state. Murder is killing not
        > sanctioned by the state.

        I believe human rights exist independently (indeed supercede) any
        state. Theft is expropriation of property that is rightly owned by
        another. Murder is killing another person except in self-defense.

        > Since theft and murder by definition cannot be committed by
        government,
        > your use of these words makes little sense.

        Theft and murder are MOST OFTEN committed by government.

        > You may indeed be a harsh critic, and if you are, I consider you my
        > ally, but you still don't explain your reasoning about the supposed
        > existence of natural human rights.

        I thought I made it clear that rights are rules of social conduct
        that, when observed, result in increased human well-being. To claim
        that there are no rights is to claim that no such beneficial rules of
        social conduct exist. In other words, any arbitrary rules of social
        conduct, or even having no rules of social conduct whatsoever, are
        equally likely to produce human well-being. Such a rights-less idea
        strikes me as ludicrous on its face, but being a pan-critical
        rationalist I'm willing to consider it if you can offer a more
        satisfying explanation for the highly variable effectiveness of
        different societies at producing human well-being.

        > Evidently if there be such things,
        > they are honoured primarilly in the breach. The supposed right of
        > non-participants not to be killed in war is the most glaring
        example,
        > as I don't know of a single war in which they have been spared.

        No human right is completely observed at all times anywhere...nor is
        any human right completely violated at all times anywhere. In
        evaluating the usefulness of any purported natural right, we must
        compare societies that observe it relatively more often to societies
        that observe it relatively less often. This becomes difficult in the
        case of war, because the effects of one society observing a civilian
        right not to be killed ("right to life" just has way too many
        religious connotations) can be seen only in the other, enemy,
        society. I speculate that this is a reason why that right has been
        so poorly respected throughout history. Nevertheless, if you
        consider two separate wars: "War A" in which both sides make no
        distinction between military and civilian and simply try to
        annihilate each other, and "War B" in which both sides avoid
        targeting civilians (though some of course would still die as
        collateral damage), I think most rational human beings would
        choose "War B", presuming "No War" was not an option of course. In
        other words, they would consider themselves better off in a war where
        the right of civilians not to be killed was relatively more respected
        than in a war where such a right was relatively less respected. This
        is not definitive, but I consider it good evidence for the right in
        light of the notion that the right of civilians not to be killed in
        war is merely a subset of the right of peaceful human beings not to
        be killed by anyone else. In regards to that broader right, we have
        lots of empirical data to go by. People are very desirous of moving
        from areas with high murder rates into areas with low murder rates.
        They would rather live in areas with a relatively better record of
        honoring the right not to be killed, which is convincing evidence
        that honoring a right not to be killed makes people better off. And
        of course one of the best ways to honor the right not to be killed is
        not to have war at all, which is part of my point.

        > >Kevin, it is clear that you are not really in favor of peace. You
        > >simply want someone other than the U.S. to "win" a war based on
        > >class, or race, or nationality. I don't advocate there to BE any
        > >war. You want some "class" other than the one currently in power
        to
        > >take power by force. I don't advocate there to BE anyone
        empowered
        > >to commit such horrible crimes as are being committed by our
        > >government and other governments worldwide. The lessons of the
        > >Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, et. al. show us what
        happens
        > >when the attempt is simply to empower the "worker class". Mass
        state-
        > >sponsored murder and poverty is the result. No thanks, you can
        keep
        > >your "worker's paradise".
        >
        > It is foolish to disdain the system that showed the world that
        > backward countries can rapidly industrialize without enslaving
        > themselves to capital and which brought about in a formerly backward
        > country the first manned spaceflight.

        At the cost of how many millions of lives outright slaughtered or
        starved out of existance? I'm pretty ignorant of Russion history,
        but I have heard about the Chinese "Great Leap Forward" in which
        several million people starved as a result of a government plan to
        force people off of farms and into industry.

        > The current crises in Cuba
        > and People's Korea and the counterrevolutions in Russia and China
        > are only proof that socialism can successfully be embargoed,
        blockaded,
        > and otherwise attacked from without. So was the French Revolution.
        > That didn't prove that capitalism and republicanism were inferior to
        > feudalism and monarchy.

        At one time the socialist states covered, in one form or another,
        nearly half the globe. They controlled far more territory and
        resources than the fledgling republics that replaced feudalism and
        monarchy did in the heyday of that transition. If socialism was such
        a superior system, the Soviet Union really would have buried the west
        as they claimed they would. Instead, it collapsed as a result of its
        own internal inconsistencies. People weren't risking their lives and
        all their posessions to get TO the socialist states, as they did to
        get to the Republics in the age of monarchs. Quite the contrary,
        people were risking all they had to get OUT of those societies, some
        were even killed by their own governments for trying to leave.

        > The prosperity of
        > Europe was built on the backs of the labouring peoples of Africa,
        > India, and Asia. The prosperity of North America was built on
        genocide
        > and expropriation of large quantities of free and very rich
        agricultural
        > land and virgin resources.

        Out of curiosity, how was the prosperity of Hong Kong, or Singapore
        built? It seems to me we have a fundamental disagreement about where
        prosperity comes from. It is my contention that relative prosperity
        is dependent upon relative economic freedom and respect for
        individual rights. It is (apparently) your contention that
        prosperity is dependent upon expropriation of the resources of
        others. Either the rich expropriate from the workers (capitalism) or
        the workers expropriate and collectivise everything (communism).

        > For all these differences, Jason, we are soldiers in the same
        trench.
        > I do not require that my allies be Communists, and many of my allies
        > have serious disagreements with me on major issues. David Duke
        would
        > hardly approve of Communism either, and neither would members of
        > the Aryan Nations or al-Qaida. I am not a pacifist, it is true. I
        > have never pretended to be one. I am in the peace movement to
        oppose
        > American imperialist aggression, and we have this in common, even if
        > you are not comfortable using the word "imperialism". Mike Renzulli
        > is also my ally, even if he considers himself to be my enemy.

        When one only desires peace, anyone who favors war is not really an
        ally. When you write in opposition to American military action in
        Iraq, I agree with you. But when you write praising the 9/11
        hijackers as heroic, I will object as strongly as I would to someone
        else who wrote of our actions in Iraq as heroic. When people stop
        glamorizing war as heroic and see it for what it really is -- nothing
        but death and destruction -- perhaps there will be less inclination
        to engage in it.

        > He has
        > made the grave mistake of driving out allies, and of trying to
        divide
        > those who are opposed to American imperialist aggression. This
        > coming war with Iraq is the immediate crisis, and I am against it,
        > even if you and Mike Renzulli think it is for the wrong reasons.

        I can't speak for Mike, but in regards to my thinking you miss the
        point. I am against war (again: war = "organized killing on the
        basis of arbitrary group identity".) Because it is an instance of
        war, I am against the specific war that the US is planning to wage
        upon Iraq. But I am far more concerned with successfully opposing
        the whole _idea_ of war and aggression as acceptable forms of human
        interaction than I am about opposing this _particular_ war.

        > By excluding those who are against the war for reasons which you or
        > Mike find morally repugnant, you are only weakening the anti-war
        cause.

        The anti-Iraq-war cause? Perhaps. The real anti-war cause?
        Unlikely. When the notion that one can be for peace and anti-war
        simply by announcing opposition to a single conflict or country goes
        unchallenged, the scourge of war upon the human race is perpetuated.

        Nevertheless, I have not done anything to exclude you from the peace
        movement (such as it is), nor do I have any intention of trying to.
        I do not participate on the azpeace board; their tendencies to
        exclude folks with ideas they don't like is evidence enough that it's
        not my kind of forum. I simply want to make my own feelings on the
        matter known, not even to convince you personally but because "the
        purpose of the debate is the education of the audience". It could
        not possibly benefit me to exclude anyone from the debate, as that
        would limit my own ability to get my ideas out and hone them for
        greater effect. :-)

        This board is usually little more than reposts of articles from other
        sources. It's certainly not been a hotbed of discussion on the
        principles and philosophy of secular humanism. I see no reason why
        this topic should be inappropriate for this board, as matters of
        philosophy and human well-being are clearly involved.

        Nevertheless, I won't be able to post as much as I have been these
        last few days. Gotta get back to work and...y'know...create some of
        that "surplus value" for the boss.

        --Jason Auvenshine
      • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
        ... rightful owner opens up a whole new can of worms. ... There are certain forms of conduct which are better for society than others, but I would not call
        Message 3 of 24 , Dec 8, 2002
          >
          >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
          >> Neither theft nor murder is appropriate. Theft is expropriation of
          >> resources when not sanctioned by the state. Murder is killing not
          >> sanctioned by the state.
          >
          >I believe human rights exist independently (indeed supercede) any
          >state. Theft is expropriation of property that is rightly owned by
          >another. Murder is killing another person except in self-defense.

          "rightful owner" opens up a whole new can of worms.

          >> Since theft and murder by definition cannot be committed by
          >government,
          >> your use of these words makes little sense.
          >
          >Theft and murder are MOST OFTEN committed by government.
          >
          >> You may indeed be a harsh critic, and if you are, I consider you my
          >> ally, but you still don't explain your reasoning about the supposed
          >> existence of natural human rights.
          >
          >I thought I made it clear that rights are rules of social conduct
          >that, when observed, result in increased human well-being. To claim
          >that there are no rights is to claim that no such beneficial rules of
          >social conduct exist. In other words, any arbitrary rules of social
          >conduct, or even having no rules of social conduct whatsoever, are
          >equally likely to produce human well-being. Such a rights-less idea
          >strikes me as ludicrous on its face, but being a pan-critical
          >rationalist I'm willing to consider it if you can offer a more
          >satisfying explanation for the highly variable effectiveness of
          >different societies at producing human well-being.

          There are certain forms of conduct which are better for society than
          others, but I would not call them "rights", because they are not
          immutable. In certain cases it is best to kill people, as their
          existence poses a threat to others, and this often goes beyond immediate
          self-defense.

          >> Evidently if there be such things,
          >> they are honoured primarilly in the breach. The supposed right of
          >> non-participants not to be killed in war is the most glaring
          >example,
          >> as I don't know of a single war in which they have been spared.
          >
          >No human right is completely observed at all times anywhere...nor is
          >any human right completely violated at all times anywhere. In
          >evaluating the usefulness of any purported natural right, we must
          >compare societies that observe it relatively more often to societies
          >that observe it relatively less often. This becomes difficult in the
          >case of war, because the effects of one society observing a civilian
          >right not to be killed ("right to life" just has way too many
          >religious connotations) can be seen only in the other, enemy,
          >society. I speculate that this is a reason why that right has been
          >so poorly respected throughout history. Nevertheless, if you
          >consider two separate wars: "War A" in which both sides make no
          >distinction between military and civilian and simply try to
          >annihilate each other, and "War B" in which both sides avoid
          >targeting civilians (though some of course would still die as
          >collateral damage), I think most rational human beings would
          >choose "War B", presuming "No War" was not an option of course. In
          >other words, they would consider themselves better off in a war where
          >the right of civilians not to be killed was relatively more respected
          >than in a war where such a right was relatively less respected.

          I would contend that this is not the case, if War A will be ended faster
          than War B or result in a conclusion more favourable to one side.
          For example, the blockade on Germany during World War One targetted
          primarilly civilians, and it succeeded faster than the actions that
          were primarilly targetted against soldiers. Morale on the home front
          broke down faster than on the war front, and strikes paralyzed Germany's
          ability to prosecute the war. One of the soldiers in that war, then
          corporal Adolf Hitler, called this the "stab in the back" and blamed
          Jews and Communists for the loss of the war, as he could see around
          him that the soldiers were still willing to fight. He was partly right,
          but he neglected to consider the privations the civilian population were
          enduring that made them receptive to these agitators. In this case,
          making war on civilians was favourable to the Allies. Of course,
          the Central Powers used similar tactics in U-boat warfare to try to
          starve British civilians. The only difference is they didn't succeed.
          Without warfare directed against civilians, the war would most likely
          have gone on longer, and the result may have differed.

          In any case, as we cannot expect any beligerent party to observe this
          so-called human right, so accusing anyone who makes war of violating
          it is meaningless and can only serve as useful propaganda for the other
          side.

          >This
          >is not definitive, but I consider it good evidence for the right in
          >light of the notion that the right of civilians not to be killed in
          >war is merely a subset of the right of peaceful human beings not to
          >be killed by anyone else. In regards to that broader right, we have
          >lots of empirical data to go by. People are very desirous of moving
          >from areas with high murder rates into areas with low murder rates.
          >They would rather live in areas with a relatively better record of
          >honoring the right not to be killed, which is convincing evidence
          >that honoring a right not to be killed makes people better off. And
          >of course one of the best ways to honor the right not to be killed is
          >not to have war at all, which is part of my point.

          It is indeed true that avoiding the killing of people is the best
          policy in ordinary times. There are times when it is a lesser evil,
          particularly if someone is already killing your people. I would say,
          in this specific instance, that as people are being killed in Iraq
          and Palestine at the behest of Zionism and imperialism, it is in
          the best interests of the world's people, that people who are supporting
          same be killed in as large numbers as possible.

          >> It is foolish to disdain the system that showed the world that
          >> backward countries can rapidly industrialize without enslaving
          >> themselves to capital and which brought about in a formerly backward
          >> country the first manned spaceflight.
          >
          >At the cost of how many millions of lives outright slaughtered or
          >starved out of existance? I'm pretty ignorant of Russion history,
          >but I have heard about the Chinese "Great Leap Forward" in which
          >several million people starved as a result of a government plan to
          >force people off of farms and into industry.

          That is a lie. What is the truth is that capitalism starves 15 million
          children each year. At least that's what UNICEF says. The Great Leap
          Forward demonstrably saved tens of millions of lives in China. Before
          the Great Leap Forward there were disasterous famines in China every
          few years. Since then there haven't been any.

          >> The current crises in Cuba
          >> and People's Korea and the counterrevolutions in Russia and China
          >> are only proof that socialism can successfully be embargoed,
          >blockaded,
          >> and otherwise attacked from without. So was the French Revolution.
          >> That didn't prove that capitalism and republicanism were inferior to
          >> feudalism and monarchy.
          >
          >At one time the socialist states covered, in one form or another,
          >nearly half the globe. They controlled far more territory and
          >resources than the fledgling republics that replaced feudalism and
          >monarchy did in the heyday of that transition. If socialism was such
          >a superior system, the Soviet Union really would have buried the west
          >as they claimed they would. Instead, it collapsed as a result of its
          >own internal inconsistencies. People weren't risking their lives and
          >all their posessions to get TO the socialist states, as they did to
          >get to the Republics in the age of monarchs. Quite the contrary,
          >people were risking all they had to get OUT of those societies, some
          >were even killed by their own governments for trying to leave.

          There was some emigration, usually to prosperous capitalist states.
          In essence they were waging war on Communism by offering some superprofits
          from the third world as bribes for people willing to defect from it.
          Indeed the whole Soviet Union had the prospect dangled before them of
          advancing to western European prosperity if they abandoned socialism.
          We can see what the result of that was. There was indeed considerable
          betrayal from within in the Kruschev era and thereafter. Nonetheless
          the achievements of the USSR and People's China for the first couple
          generations were most impressive. Stalin came to power in the most
          backward country in Europe and died in a superpower with the second largest
          economy in the world. Gorbachev came to power in a superpower with the
          second largest economy in the world. A few years after he left power,
          the economies of the Fifteen Republics were a shambles, and they were
          the most backward countries in Europe.

          >> The prosperity of
          >> Europe was built on the backs of the labouring peoples of Africa,
          >> India, and Asia. The prosperity of North America was built on
          >genocide
          >> and expropriation of large quantities of free and very rich
          >agricultural
          >> land and virgin resources.
          >
          >Out of curiosity, how was the prosperity of Hong Kong, or Singapore
          >built? It seems to me we have a fundamental disagreement about where
          >prosperity comes from. It is my contention that relative prosperity
          >is dependent upon relative economic freedom and respect for
          >individual rights. It is (apparently) your contention that
          >prosperity is dependent upon expropriation of the resources of
          >others. Either the rich expropriate from the workers (capitalism) or
          >the workers expropriate and collectivise everything (communism).

          Hong Kong, Singapore, southern Korea, and Japan had their economies
          rebuilt with superprofits exploited elsewhere and with very hard
          labour of their own populations. The imperialist bourgeoisie had
          an interest in doing this as a counterweight to Communism in Asia.
          While it was good for the people in those countries, it is not the
          solution to third world poverty, as only a few countries can be
          bribed in this way.

          >When one only desires peace, anyone who favors war is not really an
          >ally. When you write in opposition to American military action in
          >Iraq, I agree with you. But when you write praising the 9/11
          >hijackers as heroic, I will object as strongly as I would to someone
          >else who wrote of our actions in Iraq as heroic. When people stop
          >glamorizing war as heroic and see it for what it really is -- nothing
          >but death and destruction -- perhaps there will be less inclination
          >to engage in it.

          I do not contend that our alliance is permanent, but for the time being,
          we are on the same side.

          >> He has
          >> made the grave mistake of driving out allies, and of trying to
          >divide
          >> those who are opposed to American imperialist aggression. This
          >> coming war with Iraq is the immediate crisis, and I am against it,
          >> even if you and Mike Renzulli think it is for the wrong reasons.
          >
          >I can't speak for Mike, but in regards to my thinking you miss the
          >point. I am against war (again: war = "organized killing on the
          >basis of arbitrary group identity".) Because it is an instance of
          >war, I am against the specific war that the US is planning to wage
          >upon Iraq. But I am far more concerned with successfully opposing
          >the whole _idea_ of war and aggression as acceptable forms of human
          >interaction than I am about opposing this _particular_ war.

          Nonetheless to the extent that we oppose this particular war, we have
          a common cause.

          >> By excluding those who are against the war for reasons which you or
          >> Mike find morally repugnant, you are only weakening the anti-war
          >cause.
          >
          >The anti-Iraq-war cause? Perhaps. The real anti-war cause?
          >Unlikely. When the notion that one can be for peace and anti-war
          >simply by announcing opposition to a single conflict or country goes
          >unchallenged, the scourge of war upon the human race is perpetuated.
          >
          >Nevertheless, I have not done anything to exclude you from the peace
          >movement (such as it is), nor do I have any intention of trying to.
          >I do not participate on the azpeace board; their tendencies to
          >exclude folks with ideas they don't like is evidence enough that it's
          >not my kind of forum. I simply want to make my own feelings on the
          >matter known, not even to convince you personally but because "the
          >purpose of the debate is the education of the audience". It could
          >not possibly benefit me to exclude anyone from the debate, as that
          >would limit my own ability to get my ideas out and hone them for
          >greater effect. :-)
          >
          >This board is usually little more than reposts of articles from other
          >sources. It's certainly not been a hotbed of discussion on the
          >principles and philosophy of secular humanism. I see no reason why
          >this topic should be inappropriate for this board, as matters of
          >philosophy and human well-being are clearly involved.

          I did not mean to imply that what we have been saying is inappropriate
          here. I only think it is more appropriate to the azpeace board.
          It should also be posted there. I thank you for candidly expressing
          your views. You are right that there has not been a serious discussion
          here for quite some time.

          >Nevertheless, I won't be able to post as much as I have been these
          >last few days. Gotta get back to work and...y'know...create some of
          >that "surplus value" for the boss.

          I am on vacation now, but soon will be back to that myself :-)

          --Kevin
        • snail@aztec.asu.edu
          i enjoyed reading the talk between jason and kevin. even though your both from different sides of the specrtum you both stated your positions and exchanged
          Message 4 of 24 , Dec 9, 2002
            i enjoyed reading the talk between jason and kevin.

            even though your both from different sides of
            the specrtum you both stated your positions
            and exchanged your positions and reasoning
            in a good manner.

            before this debate between jason and kevin
            happened on the azsecularhumanist listserver
            i told the folks on the azpeace listserver
            that they instead of kicking kevin
            off the listserver because of his posts
            about jews they should ask kevin
            the reasons why he made his statements.
            and if they disagreed with them to
            use logic and reason to explain why they
            think kevin is incorrect in his logic.
            and of course allow kevin to respond to
            their statements.

            but instead they chose to kick kevin off
            the listserver.

            i think the debate or talk between kevin
            and jason on this listserver shows its much
            better to exchange ideas with people you
            disagree with than to call them names.

            mike

            ps - sorry i cant objectivelly look at the
            debate between kevin and jason because
            i am a libertarian exterimist and have
            pretty much the same views as jason
            has

            ps2 - the azpeace people seem to kick out
            andbody from their group that they
            dont consider politically correct.
            when the azpeace folks held a civil
            rights protest at the phoenix fbi
            building they tried to kick out some
            libertarians who showed up wearing
            guns.

            i told them it was stupid to
            exclude people who supported the
            second amendment from the civil
            rights protest.

            that was the reason i dropped out
            of azpeace.

            ps3 - the odd thing about azpeace is its
            about a fourth of the people in it
            i know from atheist groups like
            american atheists, hsgp and arizona secular
            humanists. and since joining it i have
            discovered that about another fourth
            of the group are atheists making about
            half the hard core members being atheists.

            that is probably a good reason to shoot
            dont the comments that christians make
            that atheists are evil uncaring people.

            also none of the atheists in the group
            asked that kevin be kicked off the
            listserver.

            --
            "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;
            when the government fears the people, there is liberty "
            Thomas Jefferson
          • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
            Comrade Mueller is not formally a member of this board due to time considerations, but I often forward material on this board to him and articles and comments
            Message 5 of 24 , Dec 10, 2002
              Comrade Mueller is not formally a member of this board due to time
              considerations, but I often forward material on this board to him
              and articles and comments of his to this board. In forwarding this
              response to him, I shall make a few comments of my own.

              >Human rights include all of the areas more commonly known as economic
              >rights ("free markets"), personal rights ("personal freedoms"), and
              >political rights ("civil rights"). My definition of human rights,
              >(rules of conduct that, when followed, lead to greater human well-
              >being than when they are ignored) does not circumscribe the types of
              >rules or the spheres in which such rules apply.

              Apart from the contention that the right of civilians not to be killed
              in warfare is a natural human right, we are thus far in the dark as to
              exactly what Jason regards as being the natural human rights. Thus
              we can only speak in general terms at this stage unless Jason wishes
              to discuss specific rights in addition to those he has already discussed.
              Given that we may not perfectly understand what rules of conduct lead
              to greater human happiness, it follows from this philosophy that there
              may be natural human rights whose existence is yet unknown.

              >If I may summarize his lengthy and informative message, your friend
              >Eric seems to agree that economic prosperity can arise from economic
              >rights/economic freedoms, but also notes some broad classes of
              >significant problems that appear to arise when such rights are
              >observed:
              >
              > (1) Businesses produce dangerous or shoddy products
              > (2) Businesses destroy the environment
              > (3) Respect for personal and political rights do not correlate with
              >respect for economic rights in a society
              >
              >I would agree that all of the above are very real problems, though we
              >may disagree as to their causes and appropriate remedies. Taking
              >each in turn:
              >
              > (1) Businesses produce dangerous or shoddy products
              >
              >The cause of this is clearly (to me :-) the deliberate mechanism for
              >deflection of personal responsibility known as the corporate form of
              >business. Forming a corporation accomplishes two primary things
              >entirely by government fiat:
              > * The legal separation of owners and managers.
              > * The elimination of personal liability for both owners and managers.
              >
              >Both of these purported corporate benefits serve only to insulate the
              >individuals involved from the full and just consequences of their
              >decisions and actions. As a bone to throw the consumer, wealthy
              >individuals so insulated will often consent to certain minimal health
              >and safety government regulation of their industries -- regulations
              >which are at least as effecive at stifling competition from smaller
              >firms as they are at insuring only healthy and safe products reach
              >the marketplace.
              >
              >It amazes me how many problems are laid at the feet of a free
              >economy, problems which are actually due to the unjust special
              >protections and benefits that governments everywhere heap on
              >individuals who fill out a little paperwork entitling them to call
              >themselves "corporations". Absent the corporate veil (and, I
              >suppose, corruption in the legal system which is also present in
              >greater or lesser degrees worldwide), marketing a product with
              >undisclosed dangers would bring unmitigated financial ruin upon all
              >those involved in its production. Owners and managers would be
              >jointly and severally liable for harm caused by such products. Such
              >a system would constitute a far superior deterrent to the production
              >of dangerous products than either regulation or nationalization of
              >industry, with none of the negative impacts on the competitive
              >environment.
              >
              >Most so called free-market proponents (ie conservatives) aren't
              >really in favor of a free market at all because they cherish the
              >corporation, the biggest and most unjust government intervention in
              >the free market ever invented. Such individuals are rightly viewed
              >as "corporatists" or the slightly more antiquated "mercantilists"
              >rather than free marketers. It's a huge educational task to inform
              >the world of just how anti-freedom and anti-rights the concept of the
              >corporation really is; I have only recently come to fully understand
              >it myself.
              >
              >As somewhat of a side comment, it is also my opinion that most of the
              >left's concerns about worker exploitation and concentration of
              >capital are attributable to the existance of corporations and the
              >protective/regulatory regimes that they inevitably engender, rather
              >than the effects of a free market economic system per se.

              Interesting concept, capitalism without the corporation. Modern industrial
              capitalism is dependent upon corporations. There have been a few cases
              of large scale firms being run as sole proprietorships until recent times
              (the Krupps managed to remain a sole proprietorship until 1967), but
              the industrial revolution, at least its later stages, would have been
              seriously hobbled without the corporation. It allowed the pooling of
              capital for capital-intensive projects where it might not have been
              available in private hands in sufficient quantities (and where banks would
              lack confidence in loaning so much money to one individual who had
              little collateral). The only other way I could see to concentrate capital
              for the large industries that form the commanding heights of an industrial
              society is the collective ownership of the means of production, but then
              again, that's not capitalism :-)

              In short, I don't see a corporate-free capitalism as workable, at least not
              at our level of technology. In any case, I am also not convinced that
              the problem is solely based on the legal ability of corporate stockholders
              to evade some of their responsibilities. Sole proprietorships and
              partnerships get away with many of these abuses also, if by no other means
              than bribing officials and in desperation filing for bankruptcy.

              > (2) Businesses destroy the environment
              >
              >The cause of this is the ability of businesses, usually corporations,
              >to pollute without bearing the true economic costs of such
              >pollution. They are able to do so because the areas they are
              >directly polluting are considered "public" (owned by everyone...or no
              >one...depending on what context you ask). What this amounts to is a
              >free license to pollute, which of course an astute businessman will
              >take full advantage of. As with corporate liability protection, the
              >beneficiaries of the free license to pollute often consent to some
              >minimal government regulation, as a bone thrown to the rest of
              >society. Corporate liability protection also contributes to the
              >pollution problem, as even when liability for harm caused by
              >pollution is assesed to a corporation, the individual assets of the
              >owners and managers who caused the pollution are protected from
              >confiscation to pay the just debt so incurred.
              >
              >The solution, in addition to eliminating the corporation's special
              >liability protection, is to create ownership rights in areas which
              >have traditionally been deemed "public" and then allow the owners to
              >sue for property destruction. In the case of open sewers flowing
              >hazardous waste through a city, it's clear that the owners of
              >properties affected by the fumes have suffered a loss, which should
              >be financially recoverable. The owner of the sewer would be liable,
              >giving him/her an incentive to regulate what businesses could put in
              >it and charging them an appropriate fee. More likely the owner would
              >find it more economical to cover the sewer and avoid the problem.
              >
              >Nor should the property rights end at the seashore, since if property
              >rights were extended at least out to the beginning of international
              >waters, twelve miles if I remember correctly, the waste couldn't just
              >be dumped where it's likely to be consumed.

              I don't see that private ownership of every body of water or cubic metre
              of air is any more practical than the current system, and it would be
              difficult to prove which factory polluted my air and by how much and
              to how much damages I am entitled for same. That would only encourage
              frivolous lawsuits on the one hand or destruction of the right to sue on
              the other, depending on how the legal system responded. That would also
              add another can of worms with respect to people having to pay tolls to
              travel everywhere to the point at which travel would be paralyzed.

              > (3) Respect for personal and political rights do not always
              >correlate with respect for economic rights in a society
              >
              >This isn't a problem with economic rights or economic prosperity per
              >se, simply an observation that respect for economic rights doesn't
              >guerantee (or perhaps even predict) the observation of other rights
              >which may be equally important to human well-being. This is quite
              >true, and another area in which the public must be educated. Rights
              >and freedoms are not simply a one dimensional measure of the ability
              >of business to make a profit.
              >
              >Without a doubt, many societies with a relatively high degree of
              >respect for economic rights have little or no respect for other
              >rights, with a correspondingly negative impact on the well-being of
              >the subject population when compared to economic status alone.
              >Conversely, many societies with a relatively low degree of respect
              >for economic rights have comparitively more respect for other rights,
              >with a correspondingly positive impact on the well-being of the
              >subject population when compared to economic status alone.
              >
              >Such a situation in no way indicates that economic rights are not
              >valuable or should not be observed...simply that there is much more
              >to be concerned about than just economic rights.
              >
              >--Jason Auvenshine

              I would contend that making the unrestricted use of private property a
              basic human right would per se prevent members of society harmed by same
              from having the human right to avoid such harm. In the end, that which
              cannot practically be achieved, however great its theoretical benefits to
              humanity, cannot be a human right. To think it were would be anti-
              materialist. I would certainly apply that criterion to considering the
              right of civilians to be unharmed in warfare, as the history of warfare
              shows that this is unobtainable, even if it were desirable.

              --Kevin
            • snail@aztec.asu.edu
              ... the libertarian platform says people should be responsible for their actions. if i damage you i should be required to pay or fix the damages i caused to
              Message 6 of 24 , Dec 11, 2002
                >Interesting concept, capitalism without the corporation. Modern industrial
                >capitalism is dependent upon corporations. There have been a few cases

                the libertarian platform says people
                should be responsible for their actions.

                if i damage you i should be required
                to pay or fix the damages i caused to
                you.

                in a libertarian world if a group of
                people ban together to do some type
                of business venture they and the group
                should still be accountable for their
                actions.

                if the group sells you shoddy products
                that dont work, or products that
                malfunction and hurt you the group
                should be expected to either return
                your money if the product doesnt work,
                or if malfunctioning product hurt you
                pay you to fix the damages.

                i dont have anything against that group
                of people calling itself a corporation.
                but the corporation should be liable
                for any damages it causes to people.

                now if the government gives corporations
                special right and says corporations dont have
                have to be accountable for their actions
                i have major problems with that.

                and the government often does that. for
                example the government has passed laws
                making nuclear power plants not liable
                for ALL of the damages they cause when
                accidents happen.

                and in the case of this homeland security
                bullshit the government wants to say
                the corporations that produce the
                small pox vaccination are not liable for
                any damages it cause.

                both of those laws are wrong.

                --
                "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;
                when the government fears the people, there is liberty "
                Thomas Jefferson
              • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                Part 1 of a topic split, will address the issues of corporations and private property in a second message... ... killed ... to ... discussed. ... lead ...
                Message 7 of 24 , Dec 11, 2002
                  Part 1 of a topic split, will address the issues of corporations and
                  private property in a second message...

                  --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                  > Apart from the contention that the right of civilians not to be
                  killed
                  > in warfare is a natural human right, we are thus far in the dark as
                  to
                  > exactly what Jason regards as being the natural human rights. Thus
                  > we can only speak in general terms at this stage unless Jason wishes
                  > to discuss specific rights in addition to those he has already
                  discussed.
                  > Given that we may not perfectly understand what rules of conduct
                  lead
                  > to greater human happiness, it follows from this philosophy that
                  there
                  > may be natural human rights whose existence is yet unknown.

                  Natural rights are of course a subset of the general concept of
                  rights. Thus I believe there are two aspects to the question of
                  natural rights: First, is the general concept of rights valid?
                  Second, if the general concept rights is valid, are natural rights a
                  valid subset of rights, being those whose definition is dictated by
                  nature?

                  In regards to the concept of rights, you seem to be dubious of the
                  entire concept of rights because rights are violated with
                  regularity. This, I believe, misses the point. Rights are rules of
                  human conduct that, when observed, make human beings better off.
                  Rights can be astoundingly trivial in some cases, and in those cases
                  it's easier to discuss them because there's little emotional
                  attachment to the ideas involved. For example, in an intersection
                  with a traffic light, the cars in the direction of the green light
                  have the "right of way", and the cars in the direction of the red
                  light do not have the right of way. Though trivial and definitely
                  not a natural right, the term "right of way" is in fact quite
                  appropriate to this situation because when the right of way is
                  observed, human beings are better off than when it is not observed.
                  Does the "right of way" associated with a green light cease to be a
                  right (useful rule for improving human well-being) simply because
                  people run red lights with some regularity? I would say not. The
                  concept of right of way is useful in improving human well-being
                  regardless of the rate at which it is observed. The extent to which
                  it _actually_ improves human well-being is dependent upon the rate at
                  which it is observed. A right which is never observed would in fact
                  have zero actual benefit to human well-being. That fact, however,
                  invalidates neither the general concept of rights nor the specific
                  right which is not being observed.

                  The other key aspect to understanding rights as rules of conduct is
                  the recognition that the existance and knowledge of such rules does
                  not, in itself, control human behavior. That depends upon the extent
                  to which an individual believes honoring the rule with respect to
                  others is beneficial to his/her own existance, which is in turn quite
                  often dependant upon the reaction of others in the society to a
                  violation of the rule.

                  Once it is established that a given right will, if followed, improve
                  human well-being, the next important question is what do the rest of
                  us do when that right is alleged to have been violated? There seems
                  to be near universal recognition that some violations are worse than
                  others, and in fact some violations may be justified by a more
                  important right. Considering the trivial example of rights of way,
                  few would disagree that someone would be justified in running a red
                  light if there appeared to be no cars coming in the other direction
                  and he was attempting to transport a gravely injured passenger to the
                  hospital in time to stop him from bleeding to death. In the case of
                  all but the most trivial of alleged rights violations, it is
                  generally understood that a group of people (commonly called a jury)
                  must decide whether the violation actually occurred, and if it did
                  occur whether it was justified by some other, more important, right.
                  In some cases, the jury also decides the punishment and in other
                  cases it is a judge. The point is that rights do not cease to exist
                  because there may at times be a justification for violating them; a
                  system needs to be in place to evaluate and punish violations as
                  appropriate to the specific situation.

                  Assuming that I have convinced you that the underlying concept of
                  rights is a valid one, we turn to the question of the existance of
                  natural rights. Obviously, the association of a "right of way" with
                  a green colored traffic light is entirely arbitrary. It might just
                  as well have been (and sometimes is) a "go" sign, a raised bar, or a
                  flag. Or we might have decided to make all of our intersections
                  continuous flow, wherein the right of way consisted solely in
                  traveling in the correct direction. Are all valid rights as
                  arbitrary as traffic signals? I don't think so.

                  Human beings have two aspects to their nature which I believe bear
                  directly upon the right not to be killed. The first aspect is a
                  strong innate desire not to be killed, so strong in fact that most
                  human beings will inflict great destruction on others in order to
                  avoid it. The second aspect is that we are innately tribal, meaning
                  that we innately respond to an act against someone close to us
                  (family, sometimes close friends) as strongly and sometimes even
                  moreso than an attack on ourselves. These two aspects of human
                  nature arose from our evolutionary history and are not changeable at
                  least in the short term. When you combine them, what you get in
                  absence of a right not to be killed is escalation of violence. One
                  person decides to kill someone else, so that person and all his
                  family/friends retaliate against the attacker and all of his
                  family/friends. The conflict escalates until something external (a
                  lack of remaining combatants, physical distance, etc.) causes it to
                  cease. This is obviously very bad for human well-being. Most people
                  think of war as a valid exception -- two groups essentially agree to
                  settle a difference by trying to kill each other until one side or
                  the other gives up. It does not seem to me that this exception
                  benefits human well-being, hence I am "anti-war".

                  I think the traditional "life, liberty, and property" is a good start
                  at a high level list of natural human rights. Discussing additional
                  specific natural rights is rather pointless, however, if you don't
                  recognize the concept of natural human rights as having any
                  validity. If you don't recognize a right of peaceful people not to
                  be killed, then you're certainly not going to recognize any other
                  rights.

                  Finally, there absolutely could be, and probably are, natural rights
                  whose existance is yet unknown, though I suspect these would be more
                  like applications of old natural rights concepts to new technological
                  developments. A hypothetical example would involve cloning,
                  particularly of the currently science-fictional variety -- a "copy"
                  of one person with all of their memories and skills -- as opposed to
                  the currently real variety where a new organism is grown from a
                  single cell and shares only the DNA of the source. Would an exact
                  duplicate of one person have all the same rights as a separate
                  person? Or would the copy be "owned" by the source in some way? Or
                  something else? I would speculate that such questions may involve
                  the recognition of heretofore unconsidered rights.

                  > In the end, that which
                  > cannot practically be achieved, however great its theoretical
                  benefits to
                  > humanity, cannot be a human right. To think it were would be anti-
                  > materialist. I would certainly apply that criterion to considering
                  the
                  > right of civilians to be unharmed in warfare, as the history of
                  warfare
                  > shows that this is unobtainable, even if it were desirable.

                  Again, the question is not whether or not total respect for the
                  rights of civilians is obtainable, but whether or not we're better
                  off having the rule (recognizing the right) than not having the
                  rule. It is true that in every war civilians are harmed
                  (gee...another great reason to oppose war), but fewer civilians are
                  harmed than would otherwise be, because of the existance of a
                  recognized difference between civilians and combatants.

                  --Jason Auvenshine
                • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                  Part 2 of the topic split... ... industrial ... cases ... times ... been ... I believe the prevalence of corporations is a case of crowding out rather than one
                  Message 8 of 24 , Dec 11, 2002
                    Part 2 of the topic split...

                    --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                    > Interesting concept, capitalism without the corporation. Modern
                    industrial
                    > capitalism is dependent upon corporations. There have been a few
                    cases
                    > of large scale firms being run as sole proprietorships until recent
                    times
                    > (the Krupps managed to remain a sole proprietorship until 1967), but
                    > the industrial revolution, at least its later stages, would have
                    been
                    > seriously hobbled without the corporation.

                    I believe the prevalence of corporations is a case of crowding out
                    rather than one of necessity. If the government is offering an
                    essentially free benefit (liability protection), those who do not
                    take advantage of it are at a competitive disadvantage.

                    Mike is also right in saying that there's nothing wrong per se with a
                    group calling itself a corporation and doing "corporation-type
                    things" like pooling capital. The problem is related to the
                    liability protections, however ALL corporations receive the basic
                    protection which goes much further than the specific laws to which
                    Mike referred (which heap badness upon badness, IMHO :-).

                    > It allowed the pooling of
                    > capital for capital-intensive projects where it might not have been
                    > available in private hands in sufficient quantities (and where
                    banks would
                    > lack confidence in loaning so much money to one individual who had
                    > little collateral).

                    What is it about the pooling of capital which necessitates liability
                    protection? There's nothing to prevent one business from being owned
                    by a very large number of limited partners. Absent government
                    liability protection, it is likely that investors would opt to
                    purchase liability insurance, the premium of which would be
                    proportional to both the size and the risk of their investments. As
                    it is now, the consumer bears the risk of unsafe products. Absent
                    corporate liability protections it is reasonable to presume that
                    investors would bear some of that risk, reducing somewhat the
                    propensity of people to invest. Thus, the total pool of capital
                    might be somewhat reduced. However, and more importantly, that
                    capital would be directed towards investments which pose a
                    comparitively smaller risk of injuring consumers, and away from
                    projects which pose a comparitively higher risk of injuring consumers.

                    > In short, I don't see a corporate-free capitalism as workable, at
                    least not
                    > at our level of technology. In any case, I am also not convinced
                    that
                    > the problem is solely based on the legal ability of corporate
                    stockholders
                    > to evade some of their responsibilities. Sole proprietorships and
                    > partnerships get away with many of these abuses also, if by no
                    other means
                    > than bribing officials and in desperation filing for bankruptcy.

                    I did include the caveat about corruption in the legal system, which
                    includes officals who take bribes. I believe joint and several
                    liability addresses most of the concerns of bankruptcy, since unless
                    ALL of those involved go bankrupt and have no liability insurance,
                    someone is still on the hook to pay. Furthermore, personal
                    bankruptcy (as opposed to corporate bankruptcy, which is a joke) is
                    disruptive enough to one's financial well-being that those who
                    cherish wealth are likely to take great care to avoid it.

                    No system guarantees safe products. Dangerous products will get made
                    under capitalism, communism, or any other system you or I could
                    devise. When evaluating any system the relevant question concerns
                    the incentives of that system, in this case regarding product
                    safety. The incentives of the system determine the likelihood of
                    unsafe products being made, and are almost exclusively determined by
                    who bears the costs of the harm caused by unsafe products. I believe
                    a market system wherein corporate liability protection was not
                    available would provide the best possible dis-incentive to the
                    creation and manufacture of unsafe products, by directing to the
                    greatest extent possible the costs of that harm in the direction of
                    those who caused it.

                    > I don't see that private ownership of every body of water or cubic
                    metre
                    > of air is any more practical than the current system, and it would
                    be
                    > difficult to prove which factory polluted my air and by how much and
                    > to how much damages I am entitled for same. That would only
                    encourage
                    > frivolous lawsuits on the one hand or destruction of the right to
                    sue on
                    > the other, depending on how the legal system responded.

                    Ever been in a "chain reaction" accident where one car slams into
                    another, causing another car to slam into it, etc.? If you're the
                    fifth guy back, you usually don't sue the guy who caused the accident
                    in the first place, you sue the guy who directly caused you harm, who
                    in turn sues the guy in front of him, etc. until you get to the guy
                    that caused it in the first place. How this relates to pollution is,
                    if noxious fumes enter my property from someone else's property, I
                    have a cause of action against that person whether they created the
                    fumes or not. Of course, they then have an incentive to prove it
                    wasn't them by proving where it actually came from. In actual
                    practice, it's rather hard to "secretly" significantly and regularly
                    pollute the air. It's somewhat easier to pollute water, but water
                    rights are typically owned by far fewer individuals with a far
                    greater incentive to monitor the integrity of their property on an
                    ongoing basis and track sources of pollution to their source.
                    Because of these reasons I believe knowing WHO to sue would not
                    problem.

                    On the other hand, establishing fair damages, as well as handling the
                    sheer number of lawsuits, do in fact pose problems. Such problems
                    are likely to be mitigated by a "loser pays" system of court funding,
                    coupled with the ability of groups to file class action suits. This
                    provides a disincentive to frivolous suits and individual suits of
                    small magnitude, while forcing polluters to pay for small amounts of
                    harm caused to large numbers of people.

                    > That would also
                    > add another can of worms with respect to people having to pay tolls
                    to
                    > travel everywhere to the point at which travel would be paralyzed.

                    Whenever the topic of private ownership arises, somebody always
                    brings up roads. :-) People think of having tollbooths every 50
                    feet, which is totally silly and would never happen. We already have
                    the technology and the business model to handle fully private roads
                    in a convenient and cost-effective manner: it's called the cellular
                    telephone. Do you have any idea how many different actual owners
                    there are for cell phone towers and other infrastructure in this
                    country? No, of course not, because you don't have to. There are
                    many owners, and they have internal agreements with each other so
                    that customers can "roam" from one system to another when necessary
                    without being bothered by the details. You pay a monthly fee for a
                    certain amount of use in your "home" area, and when you travel your
                    phone usually just works. Depending on the plan, you may or may not
                    pay an extra fee when you roam. If you talk a lot, you pay extra for
                    that too. But you don't have to come up with a quarter every minute,
                    you don't get 10 different cellular bills, and your costs are usually
                    pretty reasonable and commensurate with your use of the system. A
                    private transportation infrastructure could function similarly.

                    > I would contend that making the unrestricted use of private
                    property a
                    > basic human right would per se prevent members of society harmed by
                    same
                    > from having the human right to avoid such harm.

                    The point at which the use of private property harms others, it
                    ceases to be simply the use of private property. For example, if I
                    own a baseball bat I can swing it around as much as I like. But if
                    it hits your head, I've infringed on your rights. Similarly, I can
                    pollute water that I own as much as I like, but if that polluted
                    water mixes with someone else's water then I'm liable for the harm
                    that causes.

                    --Jason Auvenshine
                  • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                    ... Which would indicate that rights are dependent upon power struggles. If this is the case, perhaps the entire discussion has been mere misunderstanding.
                    Message 9 of 24 , Dec 11, 2002
                      >
                      >Part 1 of a topic split, will address the issues of corporations and
                      >private property in a second message...
                      >
                      >Natural rights are of course a subset of the general concept of
                      >rights. Thus I believe there are two aspects to the question of
                      >natural rights: First, is the general concept of rights valid?
                      >Second, if the general concept rights is valid, are natural rights a
                      >valid subset of rights, being those whose definition is dictated by
                      >nature?
                      >
                      >In regards to the concept of rights, you seem to be dubious of the
                      >entire concept of rights because rights are violated with
                      >regularity. This, I believe, misses the point. Rights are rules of
                      >human conduct that, when observed, make human beings better off.
                      >Rights can be astoundingly trivial in some cases, and in those cases
                      >it's easier to discuss them because there's little emotional
                      >attachment to the ideas involved. For example, in an intersection
                      >with a traffic light, the cars in the direction of the green light
                      >have the "right of way", and the cars in the direction of the red
                      >light do not have the right of way. Though trivial and definitely
                      >not a natural right, the term "right of way" is in fact quite
                      >appropriate to this situation because when the right of way is
                      >observed, human beings are better off than when it is not observed.
                      >Does the "right of way" associated with a green light cease to be a
                      >right (useful rule for improving human well-being) simply because
                      >people run red lights with some regularity? I would say not. The
                      >concept of right of way is useful in improving human well-being
                      >regardless of the rate at which it is observed. The extent to which
                      >it _actually_ improves human well-being is dependent upon the rate at
                      >which it is observed. A right which is never observed would in fact
                      >have zero actual benefit to human well-being. That fact, however,
                      >invalidates neither the general concept of rights nor the specific
                      >right which is not being observed.
                      >
                      >The other key aspect to understanding rights as rules of conduct is
                      >the recognition that the existance and knowledge of such rules does
                      >not, in itself, control human behavior. That depends upon the extent
                      >to which an individual believes honoring the rule with respect to
                      >others is beneficial to his/her own existance, which is in turn quite
                      >often dependant upon the reaction of others in the society to a
                      >violation of the rule.

                      Which would indicate that "rights" are dependent upon power struggles.
                      If this is the case, perhaps the entire discussion has been mere
                      misunderstanding. I have never disputed that generally speaking
                      some forms of conduct are more useful than others (e.g. if we went
                      around killing everyone who even slightly displeased us, society wouldn't
                      work well). As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
                      there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
                      the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
                      person through a red light). I would say that the same is true of
                      killing people and that fighting imperialism is a goal worthy of the
                      lives of some thousands of people in the WTC, most of whom were
                      aiding and abetting imperialism. Certainly this means that we agree
                      that there are no inalienable rights.

                      >Once it is established that a given right will, if followed, improve
                      >human well-being, the next important question is what do the rest of
                      >us do when that right is alleged to have been violated? There seems
                      >to be near universal recognition that some violations are worse than
                      >others, and in fact some violations may be justified by a more
                      >important right. Considering the trivial example of rights of way,
                      >few would disagree that someone would be justified in running a red
                      >light if there appeared to be no cars coming in the other direction
                      >and he was attempting to transport a gravely injured passenger to the
                      >hospital in time to stop him from bleeding to death. In the case of
                      >all but the most trivial of alleged rights violations, it is
                      >generally understood that a group of people (commonly called a jury)
                      >must decide whether the violation actually occurred, and if it did
                      >occur whether it was justified by some other, more important, right.
                      >In some cases, the jury also decides the punishment and in other
                      >cases it is a judge. The point is that rights do not cease to exist
                      >because there may at times be a justification for violating them; a
                      >system needs to be in place to evaluate and punish violations as
                      >appropriate to the specific situation.
                      >
                      >Assuming that I have convinced you that the underlying concept of
                      >rights is a valid one, we turn to the question of the existance of
                      >natural rights. Obviously, the association of a "right of way" with
                      >a green colored traffic light is entirely arbitrary. It might just
                      >as well have been (and sometimes is) a "go" sign, a raised bar, or a
                      >flag. Or we might have decided to make all of our intersections
                      >continuous flow, wherein the right of way consisted solely in
                      >traveling in the correct direction. Are all valid rights as
                      >arbitrary as traffic signals? I don't think so.

                      There are numerous examples of the use of different types of signal
                      devices, and during the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese changed
                      the traffic lights so that red meant go and green meant stop.
                      (yellow presumedly still meant caution, as too much nationalism
                      can be bad for the revolution :-)) Still, I think the conduct
                      involved is not specifically "going against the light" but violating
                      right of way, whatever standard had been decided. I would agree
                      that generally speaking obeying the established right of way is
                      useful conduct though there may be exceptions. The manner in
                      which society dictates who has the right of way may be arbitrary,
                      but the idea not to violate it is not. In this I don't see any
                      real difference with the so-called right not to be killed except
                      perhaps in degree (and, of course, not yielding right of way
                      does occaionally cause death, so they are not entirely separate
                      issues).

                      >Human beings have two aspects to their nature which I believe bear
                      >directly upon the right not to be killed. The first aspect is a
                      >strong innate desire not to be killed, so strong in fact that most
                      >human beings will inflict great destruction on others in order to
                      >avoid it. The second aspect is that we are innately tribal, meaning
                      >that we innately respond to an act against someone close to us
                      >(family, sometimes close friends) as strongly and sometimes even
                      >moreso than an attack on ourselves. These two aspects of human
                      >nature arose from our evolutionary history and are not changeable at
                      >least in the short term. When you combine them, what you get in
                      >absence of a right not to be killed is escalation of violence. One
                      >person decides to kill someone else, so that person and all his
                      >family/friends retaliate against the attacker and all of his
                      >family/friends. The conflict escalates until something external (a
                      >lack of remaining combatants, physical distance, etc.) causes it to
                      >cease. This is obviously very bad for human well-being. Most people
                      >think of war as a valid exception -- two groups essentially agree to
                      >settle a difference by trying to kill each other until one side or
                      >the other gives up. It does not seem to me that this exception
                      >benefits human well-being, hence I am "anti-war".

                      Then again, if there is no way to prevent wars, being anti-war would
                      be an anti-materialist position. I might very well wish that no one
                      could die before age 150, but it would be just as absurd.

                      >I think the traditional "life, liberty, and property" is a good start
                      >at a high level list of natural human rights. Discussing additional
                      >specific natural rights is rather pointless, however, if you don't
                      >recognize the concept of natural human rights as having any
                      >validity. If you don't recognize a right of peaceful people not to
                      >be killed, then you're certainly not going to recognize any other
                      >rights.
                      >
                      >Finally, there absolutely could be, and probably are, natural rights
                      >whose existance is yet unknown, though I suspect these would be more
                      >like applications of old natural rights concepts to new technological
                      >developments. A hypothetical example would involve cloning,
                      >particularly of the currently science-fictional variety -- a "copy"
                      >of one person with all of their memories and skills -- as opposed to
                      >the currently real variety where a new organism is grown from a
                      >single cell and shares only the DNA of the source. Would an exact
                      >duplicate of one person have all the same rights as a separate
                      >person? Or would the copy be "owned" by the source in some way? Or
                      >something else? I would speculate that such questions may involve
                      >the recognition of heretofore unconsidered rights.

                      Or be the cause of hitherto unanticipated power struggles.

                      >> In the end, that which
                      >> cannot practically be achieved, however great its theoretical
                      >benefits to
                      >> humanity, cannot be a human right. To think it were would be anti-
                      >> materialist. I would certainly apply that criterion to considering
                      >the
                      >> right of civilians to be unharmed in warfare, as the history of
                      >warfare
                      >> shows that this is unobtainable, even if it were desirable.
                      >
                      >Again, the question is not whether or not total respect for the
                      >rights of civilians is obtainable, but whether or not we're better
                      >off having the rule (recognizing the right) than not having the
                      >rule. It is true that in every war civilians are harmed
                      >(gee...another great reason to oppose war), but fewer civilians are
                      >harmed than would otherwise be, because of the existance of a
                      >recognized difference between civilians and combatants.
                      >
                      >--Jason Auvenshine

                      A recognized difference between civilians and combatants does not reduce
                      the number of civilians killed and has not in any war. The mere
                      existence of war indicates that there is no greater "society" (power)
                      capable or willing to stop it or impose rules on it. If civilians are
                      spared in war, it is simply because it is not worthwhile to kill them
                      and military strategy in that case indicates it is better to concentrate
                      one's fire on soldiers. If, on the other hand, civilians get in the way
                      (saturation bombing), or taking measures that will harm them allows the
                      war effort to continue (confiscating crops from peasants to feed troops),
                      or attacking them directly may aid the progress of the war (sieges and
                      blockades), they invariably come to harm.

                      There have been some public relations sham trials to try to persuade
                      the public that those who have allegedly or in fact targetted civilians
                      in time of war are punished, but these invariably involve the victor
                      putting the vanquished on trial for having been the vanquished, and is
                      simply a disguised form of power struggle and propaganda trick, not an
                      enforcement of any "rights". Generally crimes which did not occur
                      are invented, or crimes which did occur are grossly exaggerated (e.g.
                      the Holocaust myth at Nuremberg and the "ethnic cleansing" myth at
                      the Hague trials), and in other cases attack on civilians that were
                      done by the vanquished are punished while the victors are never
                      prosecuted for similar acts (Admiral Nimitz so testified at the defense
                      of Admiral Donitz at Nuremburg, but Donitz got ten years anyway; Donitz
                      was punished for ordering U-boats to sink civilian American and British
                      shipping; Nimitz did the exact same thing to civilian Japanese shipping
                      and got away with it). It would be a mistake to think that "war crimes"
                      could ever be punished in an even-handed way and that any lesson could
                      be learnt by such trials except to be sure not to be victorious or not
                      to be taken alive.

                      --Kevin
                    • snail@aztec.asu.edu
                      nice example jason. another good example is the internet which we are using. millions of people own it yet our messages get shipped free of charge all over the
                      Message 10 of 24 , Dec 12, 2002
                        nice example jason.

                        another good example is the internet
                        which we are using.

                        millions of people own it yet our messages
                        get shipped free of charge all over the
                        world with out us having to pay any
                        stinking tolls.

                        sure somebody pays for it. but those people
                        work out agreements amoung them selfs
                        to keep the systems working so it benifits
                        all the people that use it.

                        if the roads went from being publicly owned
                        to being privately owned (the libertarian
                        way, for kevins sake) i would hope it would
                        end up working the same way the internet does.

                        people would make the road systems work
                        so it gives THEMSELFS the most benifit.
                        some road would remain private and only
                        the owners would use them. some roads
                        though privately owned would be public
                        roads because the owners would benifit
                        when other people used them (ie the
                        road to kmart and other shopping
                        centers where they benifit if you use
                        the road to go to their store and
                        buy stuff). and of course some roads
                        would probably be toll roads.

                        its kinda of how parking lots work
                        now. if you go to walmart in tempe
                        they let you park for free cuz
                        they want your business.

                        if you use a parking lot in downtown
                        phoenix or manhattan they wont let
                        you use it for free and make you
                        pay to park. probably because land
                        is expensive in those areas.

                        and if you try to park at the honeywell
                        plant in phoenix they wont let your
                        park there unless you work there.
                        ie only honeywell people are allowed
                        to use it.

                        >Whenever the topic of private ownership arises, somebody always
                        >brings up roads. :-) People think of having tollbooths every 50
                        >feet, which is totally silly and would never happen. We already have
                        >the technology and the business model to handle fully private roads
                        >in a convenient and cost-effective manner: it's called the cellular
                        >telephone. Do you have any idea how many different actual owners
                        >there are for cell phone towers and other infrastructure in this
                        >country? No, of course not, because you don't have to. There are
                        >many owners, and they have internal agreements with each other so
                        >that customers can "roam" from one system to another when necessary
                        >without being bothered by the details. You pay a monthly fee for a
                        >certain amount of use in your "home" area, and when you travel your
                        >phone usually just works. Depending on the plan, you may or may not
                        >pay an extra fee when you roam. If you talk a lot, you pay extra for
                        >that too. But you don't have to come up with a quarter every minute,
                        >you don't get 10 different cellular bills, and your costs are usually
                        >pretty reasonable and commensurate with your use of the system. A
                        >private transportation infrastructure could function similarly.

                        --
                        "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;
                        when the government fears the people, there is liberty "
                        Thomas Jefferson
                      • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                        ... Actually the internet transmissions go through state- regulated monopolies (Cox, Qwest, etc.) The alternative would be needless duplication of lines or
                        Message 11 of 24 , Dec 12, 2002
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >nice example jason.
                          >
                          >another good example is the internet
                          >which we are using.
                          >
                          >millions of people own it yet our messages
                          >get shipped free of charge all over the
                          >world with out us having to pay any
                          >stinking tolls.

                          Actually the internet transmissions go through state-
                          regulated monopolies (Cox, Qwest, etc.) The
                          alternative would be needless duplication of lines
                          or allowing the utility to charge whatever it wanted.

                          >sure somebody pays for it. but those people
                          >work out agreements amoung them selfs
                          >to keep the systems working so it benifits
                          >all the people that use it.
                          >
                          >if the roads went from being publicly owned
                          >to being privately owned (the libertarian
                          >way, for kevins sake) i would hope it would
                          >end up working the same way the internet does.

                          Unlikely given how difficult it is to duplicate
                          a road.

                          >people would make the road systems work
                          >so it gives THEMSELFS the most benifit.
                          >some road would remain private and only
                          >the owners would use them. some roads
                          >though privately owned would be public
                          >roads because the owners would benifit
                          >when other people used them (ie the
                          >road to kmart and other shopping
                          >centers where they benifit if you use
                          >the road to go to their store and
                          >buy stuff). and of course some roads
                          >would probably be toll roads.

                          And which business would own Indian School between
                          28th Street and 32nd Street? And what would happen
                          to you if they wouldn't let you use it? Living on
                          a cul-de-sac, I'm in an even worse position than you :-)

                          >its kinda of how parking lots work
                          >now. if you go to walmart in tempe
                          >they let you park for free cuz
                          >they want your business.
                          >
                          >if you use a parking lot in downtown
                          >phoenix or manhattan they wont let
                          >you use it for free and make you
                          >pay to park. probably because land
                          >is expensive in those areas.
                          >
                          >and if you try to park at the honeywell
                          >plant in phoenix they wont let your
                          >park there unless you work there.
                          >ie only honeywell people are allowed
                          >to use it.

                          This results in the riddiculous, if tolerable
                          situation, in which one is obliged to move one's
                          car several times if one wishes to visit several
                          businesses in the same area. I'd much prefer if
                          parking lots were owned collectively.

                          --Kevin
                        • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                          Well I guess Eric is bowing out of the private roads debate. --Kevin ================= Begin forwarded message ================= Dear Kevin, I won t go into
                          Message 12 of 24 , Dec 12, 2002
                            Well I guess Eric is bowing out of the private roads debate.

                            --Kevin

                            ================= Begin forwarded message =================

                            Dear Kevin,

                            I won't go into details on the issue of private roads
                            and private ownership of rivers, lakes, ocean, etc.
                            This I must confess, to me, seems to be an interesting
                            excursion into Never-never land, will all due respects
                            to the Libertarians who do, at least, oppose the
                            aggression against Iraq, unlike the "realists" who
                            supervise our current system.

                            It brings to mind, however, the idea of tribal control
                            of resources within its own area. Under that
                            arrangement, if you cross the tribe's territory, you
                            pay them some toll or bribe or fee, in return for
                            which they allow you to cross their territory and
                            partake of the well-water, etc.

                            By the way, the tribal peoples of North Africa applied
                            the same system to the seas and ocean adjacent to
                            them. These people were dubbed by the 18th and 19th
                            century Americans "Barbary Pirates."

                            The North Africans simply expected any ship crossing
                            "their" swathe of sea space to pay for the privilege.
                            Most European states seem to have understood the
                            background for this and paid money to the respective
                            Sultans or whatever to allow the safe passage of their
                            shipping. The US, however, under its first presidents
                            seem to have deliberately misunderstood this,
                            regarding "free trade" on the sea as sacred and
                            refusing to pay "tribute."

                            Several American ships were taken into custody, and
                            their crews enslaved (they could have been killed for
                            such a violation) and the US went to war.

                            The US won, of course, and I suppose Europe thanked
                            America for saving them from having to pay tolls.
                            Pretty soon it was a moot point, however, since the
                            French invaded and conquered Algeria in the 1830s and
                            spread out from there to control most of Morocco and
                            all of Tunisia within a few decades.

                            I don't believe that any of America's presidents had
                            any complaints about that arrangement. It wasn't
                            "piracy," I suppose -- that's when you raid ships and
                            it is abhorrent to all "civilized nations" of course
                            to do that.

                            But colonialism was the subjugation and exploitation
                            of whole peoples in a systematic way -- and therefore
                            quite acceptable in respectable circles.

                            I mention all this simply because we have a way of
                            looking at groups or individuals and their practices
                            through "our own" criteria, and conceiving of rights
                            in ways that are familiar, agreeable, and profitable
                            to "us."

                            The North Africans (and actually the little tribal
                            groups that oversaw shipping in the Arabian Gulf too,
                            until Britain defeated them all) were considered
                            "pirates"; the Americans and Europeans who invaded and
                            colonized however, were on some kind of civilizing
                            mission. And the history books still haven't been
                            substantially rewritten. The Marines still sing about
                            the "shores of Tripoli" in commemoration of their war
                            on North African tribal leaders and blowing open the
                            door for French colonialism.

                            Similarly today, rebels of the kind who attacked the
                            world trade centre are "terrorists" who must be rooted
                            out everywhere, while the US military who camp out in
                            other countries and topple governments, not just
                            buildings, are "respectable."

                            I know, Jason also would condemn the "respectable" US
                            military people, but the folks who are actually ready
                            to take on the US empire are the so-called terrorists.

                            Comradely,

                            Eric
                          • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                            ... is ... does ... extent ... quite ... struggles. No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power struggles. Rights themselves are not. ...
                            Message 13 of 24 , Dec 13, 2002
                              --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                              > >The other key aspect to understanding rights as rules of conduct
                              is
                              > >the recognition that the existance and knowledge of such rules
                              does
                              > >not, in itself, control human behavior. That depends upon the
                              extent
                              > >to which an individual believes honoring the rule with respect to
                              > >others is beneficial to his/her own existance, which is in turn
                              quite
                              > >often dependant upon the reaction of others in the society to a
                              > >violation of the rule.
                              >
                              > Which would indicate that "rights" are dependent upon power
                              struggles.

                              No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power
                              struggles. Rights themselves are not.

                              > If this is the case, perhaps the entire discussion has been mere
                              > misunderstanding. I have never disputed that generally speaking
                              > some forms of conduct are more useful than others (e.g. if we went
                              > around killing everyone who even slightly displeased us, society
                              wouldn't
                              > work well).

                              This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights, only
                              power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that whoever
                              obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do. Note that
                              my position is _not_ the antithesis of your quote, "There are no
                              power struggles, only rights", which would have the equally absurd
                              implication that rights are always honored regardless of who is in
                              power or what they do. Rights exist because of man's nature
                              specifically and characteristics of the physical universe more
                              generally. It is quite often a power struggle to enforce those
                              rights.

                              > As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
                              > there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
                              > the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
                              > person through a red light).

                              Yes...just don't confuse violation of a right with the non-existance
                              of that right.

                              > I would say that the same is true of
                              > killing people and that fighting imperialism is a goal worthy of the
                              > lives of some thousands of people in the WTC, most of whom were
                              > aiding and abetting imperialism.

                              I would strongly disagree, one of the primary reasons being that you
                              and I define imperialism quite differently, and as a result define
                              the group who are "aiding and abetting imperialism" differently.

                              > Certainly this means that we agree
                              > that there are no inalienable rights.

                              I don't see how that follows. Though included in the famous line
                              from the Declaration of Independance, I think the attribute of
                              inalienability is rather tangential to the concept and application of
                              rights, at least in the modern world. "Inalienable" simply means
                              that such rights are not transferrable. For example, if you're a
                              condemned murderer, I can't give or sell you my right not to be
                              killed and die in your place so that you can go free (gee, where have
                              we heard that kind of nonsense before? :-). Non-transferrability is
                              entirely consistent with the conception of rights as rules of human
                              conduct. I don't see how any of what we have discussed implies that
                              all rights must be transferrable.

                              > I would agree
                              > that generally speaking obeying the established right of way is
                              > useful conduct though there may be exceptions. The manner in
                              > which society dictates who has the right of way may be arbitrary,
                              > but the idea not to violate it is not. In this I don't see any
                              > real difference with the so-called right not to be killed except
                              > perhaps in degree (and, of course, not yielding right of way
                              > does occaionally cause death, so they are not entirely separate
                              > issues).

                              You are correct in that the concept "right of way" arises from the
                              nature of the physical world; two cars cannot occupy the same space
                              at the same time, and if they attempt to do so great harm will
                              result. What is arbitrary about "right of way" is under what
                              circumstances you have the right of way and what circumstances you
                              don't have it. I would argue that it is _not_ arbitrary when you
                              have a right not to be killed, and when you don't. That is the
                              difference between the two.

                              > >Most people
                              > >think of war as a valid exception -- two groups essentially agree
                              to
                              > >settle a difference by trying to kill each other until one side or
                              > >the other gives up. It does not seem to me that this exception
                              > >benefits human well-being, hence I am "anti-war".
                              >
                              > Then again, if there is no way to prevent wars, being anti-war would
                              > be an anti-materialist position. I might very well wish that no one
                              > could die before age 150, but it would be just as absurd.

                              Thousands of rapes happen every year. I believe that it is
                              impossible to totally prevent rape from ever occurring. Does that
                              mean that it is an anti-materialist position to be "anti-rape"? I
                              argue that it does not. Like being anti-rape, being anti-war means
                              that I don't personally engage in it, and that I attempt to
                              discourage others from engaging in it.

                              > >Would an exact
                              > >duplicate of one person have all the same rights as a separate
                              > >person? Or would the copy be "owned" by the source in some way?
                              Or
                              > >something else? I would speculate that such questions may involve
                              > >the recognition of heretofore unconsidered rights.
                              >
                              > Or be the cause of hitherto unanticipated power struggles.

                              I agree.

                              > A recognized difference between civilians and combatants does not
                              reduce
                              > the number of civilians killed and has not in any war. The mere
                              > existence of war indicates that there is no greater "society"
                              (power)
                              > capable or willing to stop it or impose rules on it. If civilians
                              are
                              > spared in war, it is simply because it is not worthwhile to kill
                              them
                              > and military strategy in that case indicates it is better to
                              concentrate
                              > one's fire on soldiers. If, on the other hand, civilians get in
                              the way
                              > (saturation bombing), or taking measures that will harm them allows
                              the
                              > war effort to continue (confiscating crops from peasants to feed
                              troops),
                              > or attacking them directly may aid the progress of the war (sieges
                              and
                              > blockades), they invariably come to harm.

                              Civilians are indeed harmed in every war, but I find it hard to
                              believe that no military commander has ever altered his strategy for
                              the sake of saving the lives of civilians. I fear that further
                              argument on this subtopic would be akin to an argument about how many
                              angels can dance on the head of a pin. Even if decisions _not to_
                              target civilians are always made for strategic military
                              considerations, it still doesn't imply that a decision _to_ target
                              civilians is properly characterized as "heroic", which was my beef in
                              starting this whole thread.

                              > There have been some public relations sham trials to try to persuade
                              > the public that those who have allegedly or in fact targetted
                              civilians
                              > in time of war are punished, but these invariably involve the victor
                              > putting the vanquished on trial for having been the vanquished, and
                              is
                              > simply a disguised form of power struggle and propaganda trick, not
                              an
                              > enforcement of any "rights".
                              <SNIP of more information concerning war crimes>

                              I agree. The trial of war crimes has been largely a sham.

                              --Jason Auvenshine
                            • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                              ... If there is no enforcement of rights, there are no rights. ... It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles determine the norms of
                              Message 14 of 24 , Dec 13, 2002
                                >No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power
                                >struggles. Rights themselves are not.

                                If there is no enforcement of rights, there are no rights.

                                >> If this is the case, perhaps the entire discussion has been mere
                                >> misunderstanding. I have never disputed that generally speaking
                                >> some forms of conduct are more useful than others (e.g. if we went
                                >> around killing everyone who even slightly displeased us, society
                                >wouldn't
                                >> work well).
                                >
                                >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights, only
                                >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that whoever
                                >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.

                                It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                                determine the norms of human interaction.

                                >Note that
                                >my position is _not_ the antithesis of your quote, "There are no
                                >power struggles, only rights", which would have the equally absurd
                                >implication that rights are always honored regardless of who is in
                                >power or what they do. Rights exist because of man's nature
                                >specifically and characteristics of the physical universe more
                                >generally. It is quite often a power struggle to enforce those
                                >rights.

                                Since power struggles are part of the physical universe, it would be
                                foolish to separate the two.

                                >> As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
                                >> there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
                                >> the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
                                >> person through a red light).
                                >
                                >Yes...just don't confuse violation of a right with the non-existance
                                >of that right.

                                If you believe a violation would be justified, as evidently you do,
                                then it is not a right. It is simply a rule that works well MOST
                                OF THE TIME.

                                >> I would say that the same is true of
                                >> killing people and that fighting imperialism is a goal worthy of the
                                >> lives of some thousands of people in the WTC, most of whom were
                                >> aiding and abetting imperialism.
                                >
                                >I would strongly disagree, one of the primary reasons being that you
                                >and I define imperialism quite differently, and as a result define
                                >the group who are "aiding and abetting imperialism" differently.
                                >
                                >> Certainly this means that we agree
                                >> that there are no inalienable rights.
                                >
                                >I don't see how that follows. Though included in the famous line
                                >from the Declaration of Independance, I think the attribute of
                                >inalienability is rather tangential to the concept and application of
                                >rights, at least in the modern world. "Inalienable" simply means
                                >that such rights are not transferrable. For example, if you're a
                                >condemned murderer, I can't give or sell you my right not to be
                                >killed and die in your place so that you can go free (gee, where have
                                >we heard that kind of nonsense before? :-).

                                Christianity? :-)

                                >Non-transferrability is
                                >entirely consistent with the conception of rights as rules of human
                                >conduct. I don't see how any of what we have discussed implies that
                                >all rights must be transferrable.

                                Inalienable does mean that, but it also means that they can't be taken
                                away. Does the person who is condemned to death have the right to life?
                                Maybe you would think so if you are against capital punishment.

                                >> I would agree
                                >> that generally speaking obeying the established right of way is
                                >> useful conduct though there may be exceptions. The manner in
                                >> which society dictates who has the right of way may be arbitrary,
                                >> but the idea not to violate it is not. In this I don't see any
                                >> real difference with the so-called right not to be killed except
                                >> perhaps in degree (and, of course, not yielding right of way
                                >> does occaionally cause death, so they are not entirely separate
                                >> issues).
                                >
                                >You are correct in that the concept "right of way" arises from the
                                >nature of the physical world; two cars cannot occupy the same space
                                >at the same time, and if they attempt to do so great harm will
                                >result. What is arbitrary about "right of way" is under what
                                >circumstances you have the right of way and what circumstances you
                                >don't have it. I would argue that it is _not_ arbitrary when you
                                >have a right not to be killed, and when you don't. That is the
                                >difference between the two.

                                I would not say there is a difference between the two. Generally
                                speaking killing others is not good for society, but there are times
                                when it is.

                                >> >Most people
                                >> >think of war as a valid exception -- two groups essentially agree
                                >to
                                >> >settle a difference by trying to kill each other until one side or
                                >> >the other gives up. It does not seem to me that this exception
                                >> >benefits human well-being, hence I am "anti-war".
                                >>
                                >> Then again, if there is no way to prevent wars, being anti-war would
                                >> be an anti-materialist position. I might very well wish that no one
                                >> could die before age 150, but it would be just as absurd.
                                >
                                >Thousands of rapes happen every year. I believe that it is
                                >impossible to totally prevent rape from ever occurring. Does that
                                >mean that it is an anti-materialist position to be "anti-rape"? I
                                >argue that it does not. Like being anti-rape, being anti-war means
                                >that I don't personally engage in it, and that I attempt to
                                >discourage others from engaging in it.

                                Within a society there are practical means to discourage rape, so it
                                is materialist to be anti-rape, as one can mitigate it even if it is
                                not possible to eliminate it. Do I say then that we cannot possibly
                                reduce the number of wars? We can, but ironically the only way to do
                                that is to fight the class war to overthrow the imperialist bourgeoisie.
                                As Mao Zedong said, "To put down the gun, we must first pick it up."
                                I don't see resisting war, no matter what kind of a war it is and
                                no matter who wants to fight it, as a practical way of mitigating war.
                                If someone in the imperialist countries wants to do that, that person
                                is my ally, because it will hinder the war effort by the imperialists.
                                Nonetheless I would not take that position with those who would hinder
                                the war effort by those who seek to overthrow imperialism.

                                >Civilians are indeed harmed in every war, but I find it hard to
                                >believe that no military commander has ever altered his strategy for
                                >the sake of saving the lives of civilians. I fear that further
                                >argument on this subtopic would be akin to an argument about how many
                                >angels can dance on the head of a pin. Even if decisions _not to_
                                >target civilians are always made for strategic military
                                >considerations, it still doesn't imply that a decision _to_ target
                                >civilians is properly characterized as "heroic", which was my beef in
                                >starting this whole thread.

                                If there have been military commanders who put the welfare of civilians
                                over military considerations, I don't know about them, and there can't
                                have been all that many. Since "civilians" often help the war effort,
                                attacks on them can make a difference in the outcome of a war. Those 19
                                people gave their lives to try to stop a system, which by its own admission,
                                has already killed nearly to million Iraqis and thousands of Palestineans.
                                Their sacrifice was greater than that of the ordinary soldier in the
                                battlefield. That soldier knows he MAY NOT survive. Those 19 people
                                knew they WOULD NOT survive, and they carried out their mission anyway.
                                That to me is heroism. Then again, whether you think so may depend
                                on which side you take.

                                --Kevin

                                >I agree. The trial of war crimes has been largely a sham.
                                >
                                >--Jason Auvenshine
                              • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                ... We seem to be going in circles. A right exists whether it s enforced/observed or not. Using the right of way example, consider the situation where
                                Message 15 of 24 , Dec 14, 2002
                                  --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                  > >No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power
                                  > >struggles. Rights themselves are not.
                                  >
                                  > If there is no enforcement of rights, there are no rights.

                                  We seem to be going in circles. A right exists whether it's
                                  enforced/observed or not. Using the right of way example, consider
                                  the situation where there's no enforcement at a particular traffic
                                  light (ie no police around). This does not mean that no right of way
                                  exists. If you violate the right of way, the chance of getting in an
                                  accident is higher than if you do not violate it. In that sense,
                                  nature enforces its own consequences for the violation of rights.

                                  > >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights, only
                                  > >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that whoever
                                  > >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.
                                  >
                                  > It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                                  > determine the norms of human interaction.

                                  Sorry, but to me the phrase "there are no rights..." means there is
                                  no right way to treat another human being, only the whim of whoever
                                  is in power.

                                  > >> As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
                                  > >> there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
                                  > >> the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
                                  > >> person through a red light).
                                  > >
                                  > >Yes...just don't confuse violation of a right with the non-
                                  existance
                                  > >of that right.
                                  >
                                  > If you believe a violation would be justified, as evidently you do,
                                  > then it is not a right. It is simply a rule that works well MOST
                                  > OF THE TIME.

                                  You seem to persist in the thinking that for something to be a right
                                  it must never be violated. A right is simply a rule we are better
                                  off with than without. Of course there are going to be times when
                                  people violate rights...and sometimes those violations are acceptable
                                  because more important rights are involved.

                                  > >Non-transferrability is
                                  > >entirely consistent with the conception of rights as rules of
                                  human
                                  > >conduct. I don't see how any of what we have discussed implies
                                  that
                                  > >all rights must be transferrable.
                                  >
                                  > Inalienable does mean that, but it also means that they can't be
                                  taken
                                  > away. Does the person who is condemned to death have the right to
                                  life?
                                  > Maybe you would think so if you are against capital punishment.

                                  This gets a little more into the attributes of the specifc natural
                                  right not to be killed than is apt to be useful to someone who thinks
                                  there is no such thing. I would argue that the attributes of the
                                  right not to be killed are such that the right can be forfeit by one
                                  who is engaged in the conscious act/attempt of violating another's
                                  right not to be killed, or has previously violated the same.

                                  > >What is arbitrary about "right of way" is under what
                                  > >circumstances you have the right of way and what circumstances you
                                  > >don't have it. I would argue that it is _not_ arbitrary when you
                                  > >have a right not to be killed, and when you don't. That is the
                                  > >difference between the two.
                                  >
                                  > I would not say there is a difference between the two. Generally
                                  > speaking killing others is not good for society, but there are times
                                  > when it is.

                                  And I would argue that those times are determined by the nature of
                                  man and the physical universe, not by the whims of whoever is in
                                  power.

                                  > >Thousands of rapes happen every year. I believe that it is
                                  > >impossible to totally prevent rape from ever occurring. Does that
                                  > >mean that it is an anti-materialist position to be "anti-rape"? I
                                  > >argue that it does not. Like being anti-rape, being anti-war
                                  means
                                  > >that I don't personally engage in it, and that I attempt to
                                  > >discourage others from engaging in it.
                                  >
                                  > Within a society there are practical means to discourage rape, so it
                                  > is materialist to be anti-rape, as one can mitigate it even if it is
                                  > not possible to eliminate it. Do I say then that we cannot possibly
                                  > reduce the number of wars? We can, but ironically the only way to
                                  do
                                  > that is to fight the class war to overthrow the imperialist
                                  bourgeoisie.

                                  Well, then I'd say we agree that it is materialist to be anti-
                                  war...we just disagree on the means to achieve it.

                                  > As Mao Zedong said, "To put down the gun, we must first pick it up."
                                  > I don't see resisting war, no matter what kind of a war it is and
                                  > no matter who wants to fight it, as a practical way of mitigating
                                  war.
                                  > If someone in the imperialist countries wants to do that, that
                                  person
                                  > is my ally, because it will hinder the war effort by the
                                  imperialists.
                                  > Nonetheless I would not take that position with those who would
                                  hinder
                                  > the war effort by those who seek to overthrow imperialism.

                                  Now perhaps you see why I don't consider us allies. You simply want
                                  different people to control the U.S. government and the world by
                                  force of arms -- a "Pax Communista" instead of a "Pax Americana".
                                  Our goals bear about as much resemblence as a broken clock does to
                                  the time: Sure, they're in sync twice a day...but that fact is of
                                  little use.

                                  --Jason Auvenshine
                                • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                  ... They you would be saying there is enforcement. ... No, that implies no such thing. If you insist it does you are using the word rights in a manner
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Dec 14, 2002
                                    >
                                    >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                    >> >No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power
                                    >> >struggles. Rights themselves are not.
                                    >>
                                    >> If there is no enforcement of rights, there are no rights.
                                    >
                                    >We seem to be going in circles. A right exists whether it's
                                    >enforced/observed or not. Using the right of way example, consider
                                    >the situation where there's no enforcement at a particular traffic
                                    >light (ie no police around). This does not mean that no right of way
                                    >exists. If you violate the right of way, the chance of getting in an
                                    >accident is higher than if you do not violate it. In that sense,
                                    >nature enforces its own consequences for the violation of rights.

                                    They you would be saying there is enforcement.

                                    >> >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights, only
                                    >> >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that whoever
                                    >> >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.
                                    >>
                                    >> It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                                    >> determine the norms of human interaction.
                                    >
                                    >Sorry, but to me the phrase "there are no rights..." means there is
                                    >no right way to treat another human being, only the whim of whoever
                                    >is in power.

                                    No, that implies no such thing. If you insist it does you are using
                                    the word "rights" in a manner inconsistent with the common usage in
                                    the language, and that only confuses people.

                                    >> >> As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
                                    >> >> there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
                                    >> >> the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
                                    >> >> person through a red light).
                                    >> >
                                    >> >Yes...just don't confuse violation of a right with the non-
                                    >existance
                                    >> >of that right.
                                    >>
                                    >> If you believe a violation would be justified, as evidently you do,
                                    >> then it is not a right. It is simply a rule that works well MOST
                                    >> OF THE TIME.
                                    >
                                    >You seem to persist in the thinking that for something to be a right
                                    >it must never be violated. A right is simply a rule we are better
                                    >off with than without. Of course there are going to be times when
                                    >people violate rights...and sometimes those violations are acceptable
                                    >because more important rights are involved.

                                    None of the rules you have proposed is always valid. Therefore I
                                    contend there are no rights. Sometimes the violation of a right
                                    of way is justified by a higher good. Thus so is the killing of a
                                    human being often justified by a higher good.

                                    It is different to say "Every human being has the right to life."
                                    and "Generally speaking killing human beings is a bad thing, but
                                    there are times when it is to the greater good of other human beings
                                    that it be done."

                                    >> >Non-transferrability is
                                    >> >entirely consistent with the conception of rights as rules of
                                    >human
                                    >> >conduct. I don't see how any of what we have discussed implies
                                    >that
                                    >> >all rights must be transferrable.
                                    >>
                                    >> Inalienable does mean that, but it also means that they can't be
                                    >taken
                                    >> away. Does the person who is condemned to death have the right to
                                    >life?
                                    >> Maybe you would think so if you are against capital punishment.
                                    >
                                    >This gets a little more into the attributes of the specifc natural
                                    >right not to be killed than is apt to be useful to someone who thinks
                                    >there is no such thing. I would argue that the attributes of the
                                    >right not to be killed are such that the right can be forfeit by one
                                    >who is engaged in the conscious act/attempt of violating another's
                                    >right not to be killed, or has previously violated the same.

                                    That being the case those who have knowingly profited from acts which
                                    have killed large numbers of human beings and have done nothing to
                                    stop it, rather actually encouraged it, would forfeit their "right
                                    to life". I contend that is the case with most of those in the WTC.

                                    >> >What is arbitrary about "right of way" is under what
                                    >> >circumstances you have the right of way and what circumstances you
                                    >> >don't have it. I would argue that it is _not_ arbitrary when you
                                    >> >have a right not to be killed, and when you don't. That is the
                                    >> >difference between the two.
                                    >>
                                    >> I would not say there is a difference between the two. Generally
                                    >> speaking killing others is not good for society, but there are times
                                    >> when it is.
                                    >
                                    >And I would argue that those times are determined by the nature of
                                    >man and the physical universe, not by the whims of whoever is in
                                    >power.

                                    There I would agree.

                                    >> >Thousands of rapes happen every year. I believe that it is
                                    >> >impossible to totally prevent rape from ever occurring. Does that
                                    >> >mean that it is an anti-materialist position to be "anti-rape"? I
                                    >> >argue that it does not. Like being anti-rape, being anti-war
                                    >means
                                    >> >that I don't personally engage in it, and that I attempt to
                                    >> >discourage others from engaging in it.
                                    >>
                                    >> Within a society there are practical means to discourage rape, so it
                                    >> is materialist to be anti-rape, as one can mitigate it even if it is
                                    >> not possible to eliminate it. Do I say then that we cannot possibly
                                    >> reduce the number of wars? We can, but ironically the only way to
                                    >do
                                    >> that is to fight the class war to overthrow the imperialist
                                    >bourgeoisie.
                                    >
                                    >Well, then I'd say we agree that it is materialist to be anti-
                                    >war...we just disagree on the means to achieve it.
                                    >
                                    >> As Mao Zedong said, "To put down the gun, we must first pick it up."
                                    >> I don't see resisting war, no matter what kind of a war it is and
                                    >> no matter who wants to fight it, as a practical way of mitigating
                                    >war.
                                    >> If someone in the imperialist countries wants to do that, that
                                    >person
                                    >> is my ally, because it will hinder the war effort by the
                                    >imperialists.
                                    >> Nonetheless I would not take that position with those who would
                                    >hinder
                                    >> the war effort by those who seek to overthrow imperialism.
                                    >
                                    >Now perhaps you see why I don't consider us allies. You simply want
                                    >different people to control the U.S. government and the world by
                                    >force of arms -- a "Pax Communista" instead of a "Pax Americana".
                                    >Our goals bear about as much resemblence as a broken clock does to
                                    >the time: Sure, they're in sync twice a day...but that fact is of
                                    >little use.
                                    >
                                    >--Jason Auvenshine

                                    Our long-term goals are very different, but our immediate goal is
                                    the same--to hinder the American effort to make war. That makes us
                                    allies, however temporary the alliance. It is of great use now,
                                    and for as long as American aggression lasts.

                                    --Kevin
                                  • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                    ... only ... whoever ... is ... whoever ... From www.dictionary.com, the definition of right in the context we are discussing is: 2. That to which one has a
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Dec 15, 2002
                                      --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                      > >> >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights,
                                      only
                                      > >> >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that
                                      whoever
                                      > >> >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.
                                      > >>
                                      > >> It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                                      > >> determine the norms of human interaction.
                                      > >
                                      > >Sorry, but to me the phrase "there are no rights..." means there
                                      is
                                      > >no right way to treat another human being, only the whim of
                                      whoever
                                      > >is in power.
                                      >
                                      > No, that implies no such thing. If you insist it does you are using
                                      > the word "rights" in a manner inconsistent with the common usage in
                                      > the language, and that only confuses people.

                                      From www.dictionary.com, the definition of right in the context we
                                      are discussing is:

                                      2. That to which one has a just claim. Specifically:
                                      (a) That which one has a natural claim to exact. There are no
                                      rights whatever, without corresponding duties. --Coleridge.
                                      (b) That which one has a legal or social claim to do or to exact;
                                      legal power; authority; as, a sheriff has a right to arrest a
                                      criminal.
                                      (c) That which justly belongs to one; that which one has a claim to
                                      possess or own; the interest or share which anyone has in a piece of
                                      property; title; claim; interest; ownership. Born free, he sought his
                                      right. --Dryden. Hast thou not right to all created things? --
                                      Milton. Men have no right to what is not reasonable. --Burke.
                                      (d) Privilege or immunity granted by authority.

                                      While I have some problems with this definition, and I'm sure you do
                                      too...it is clear that if you say "There are no rights..." you are
                                      saying that there is nothing to which a human being has just claim.

                                      > None of the rules you have proposed is always valid. Therefore I
                                      > contend there are no rights. Sometimes the violation of a right
                                      > of way is justified by a higher good. Thus so is the killing of a
                                      > human being often justified by a higher good.
                                      >
                                      > It is different to say "Every human being has the right to life."
                                      > and "Generally speaking killing human beings is a bad thing, but
                                      > there are times when it is to the greater good of other human beings
                                      > that it be done."

                                      To some extent the confusion is perhaps due to some sloppiness on my
                                      part. Let me try to clear things up in regards to the "right not to
                                      be killed." At times, I may have referred to this in a more lengthy
                                      and complete form, "the right of peaceful people not to be killed."

                                      If an individual initiates an unprovoked attack against me with a
                                      deadly weapon (say, a mugger with a gun) and I kill him in what would
                                      commonly be termed self defense, have I violated the mugger's right
                                      not to be killed? No. The mugger forfeited his right not to be
                                      killed by engaging in an act of deadly aggression against another.
                                      He no longer qualifies as "peaceful".

                                      Now, suppose I use a gun in defending myself against the mugger and
                                      one of the bullets I fire at the mugger hits him, exits his body and
                                      strikes and kills a woman standing behind the mugger. Have I
                                      violated the woman's right not to be killed? YES. Is my action
                                      resulting in her death likely to be considered justified? I'm no
                                      lawyer, but my understanding is that it would be considered justified
                                      in the sense that it was the consequence of a criminal act by the
                                      mugger, not by me. In other words, the mugger is responsible for
                                      putting me in the situation of having to kill him to protect my own
                                      life, and he is therefore at fault for my bullet unintentionally
                                      striking the woman even though he didn't personally fire it.

                                      The point of this little thought exercise is the following:
                                      Sometimes, an individual takes actions which forfeit his/her right
                                      not to be killed, at which point killing that person does not
                                      constitute violating the right. Also, unintentionally violating the
                                      right not to be killed may also be justified in certain situations.
                                      However, neither of those facts implies that intentionally targeting
                                      peaceful individuals for death is ever justified.

                                      > >This gets a little more into the attributes of the specifc natural
                                      > >right not to be killed than is apt to be useful to someone who
                                      thinks
                                      > >there is no such thing. I would argue that the attributes of the
                                      > >right not to be killed are such that the right can be forfeit by
                                      one
                                      > >who is engaged in the conscious act/attempt of violating another's
                                      > >right not to be killed, or has previously violated the same.
                                      >
                                      > That being the case those who have knowingly profited from acts
                                      which
                                      > have killed large numbers of human beings and have done nothing to
                                      > stop it, rather actually encouraged it, would forfeit their "right
                                      > to life". I contend that is the case with most of those in the WTC.

                                      Then I think our difference of opinion is not about the existance and
                                      validity of a right not to be killed/"right to life", rather our
                                      disagreement concerns the conditions under which an individual has
                                      forfeit that right.

                                      --Jason Auvenshine
                                    • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                      ... Only that privilege or immunity granted by authority can be taken away by that authority and that what is perceived to be a legal claim can be ruled
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Dec 15, 2002
                                        >
                                        >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                        >> >> >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights,
                                        >only
                                        >> >> >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that
                                        >whoever
                                        >> >> >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.
                                        >> >>
                                        >> >> It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                                        >> >> determine the norms of human interaction.
                                        >> >
                                        >> >Sorry, but to me the phrase "there are no rights..." means there
                                        >is
                                        >> >no right way to treat another human being, only the whim of
                                        >whoever
                                        >> >is in power.
                                        >>
                                        >> No, that implies no such thing. If you insist it does you are using
                                        >> the word "rights" in a manner inconsistent with the common usage in
                                        >> the language, and that only confuses people.
                                        >
                                        >From www.dictionary.com, the definition of right in the context we
                                        >are discussing is:
                                        >
                                        >2. That to which one has a just claim. Specifically:
                                        > (a) That which one has a natural claim to exact. There are no
                                        >rights whatever, without corresponding duties. --Coleridge.
                                        > (b) That which one has a legal or social claim to do or to exact;
                                        >legal power; authority; as, a sheriff has a right to arrest a
                                        >criminal.
                                        > (c) That which justly belongs to one; that which one has a claim to
                                        >possess or own; the interest or share which anyone has in a piece of
                                        >property; title; claim; interest; ownership. Born free, he sought his
                                        >right. --Dryden. Hast thou not right to all created things? --
                                        >Milton. Men have no right to what is not reasonable. --Burke.
                                        > (d) Privilege or immunity granted by authority.
                                        >
                                        >While I have some problems with this definition, and I'm sure you do
                                        >too...it is clear that if you say "There are no rights..." you are
                                        >saying that there is nothing to which a human being has just claim.

                                        Only that privilege or immunity granted by authority can be taken away
                                        by that authority and that what is perceived to be a legal claim can
                                        be ruled otherwise. I'm sure that's what Mao Zedong meant when he
                                        said, "There are no rights, only power struggles."

                                        >> None of the rules you have proposed is always valid. Therefore I
                                        >> contend there are no rights. Sometimes the violation of a right
                                        >> of way is justified by a higher good. Thus so is the killing of a
                                        >> human being often justified by a higher good.
                                        >>
                                        >> It is different to say "Every human being has the right to life."
                                        >> and "Generally speaking killing human beings is a bad thing, but
                                        >> there are times when it is to the greater good of other human beings
                                        >> that it be done."
                                        >
                                        >To some extent the confusion is perhaps due to some sloppiness on my
                                        >part. Let me try to clear things up in regards to the "right not to
                                        >be killed." At times, I may have referred to this in a more lengthy
                                        >and complete form, "the right of peaceful people not to be killed."
                                        >
                                        >If an individual initiates an unprovoked attack against me with a
                                        >deadly weapon (say, a mugger with a gun) and I kill him in what would
                                        >commonly be termed self defense, have I violated the mugger's right
                                        >not to be killed? No. The mugger forfeited his right not to be
                                        >killed by engaging in an act of deadly aggression against another.
                                        >He no longer qualifies as "peaceful".
                                        >
                                        >Now, suppose I use a gun in defending myself against the mugger and
                                        >one of the bullets I fire at the mugger hits him, exits his body and
                                        >strikes and kills a woman standing behind the mugger. Have I
                                        >violated the woman's right not to be killed? YES. Is my action
                                        >resulting in her death likely to be considered justified? I'm no
                                        >lawyer, but my understanding is that it would be considered justified
                                        >in the sense that it was the consequence of a criminal act by the
                                        >mugger, not by me. In other words, the mugger is responsible for
                                        >putting me in the situation of having to kill him to protect my own
                                        >life, and he is therefore at fault for my bullet unintentionally
                                        >striking the woman even though he didn't personally fire it.

                                        This is the concept of collateral damage.

                                        >The point of this little thought exercise is the following:
                                        >Sometimes, an individual takes actions which forfeit his/her right
                                        >not to be killed, at which point killing that person does not
                                        >constitute violating the right. Also, unintentionally violating the
                                        >right not to be killed may also be justified in certain situations.
                                        >However, neither of those facts implies that intentionally targeting
                                        >peaceful individuals for death is ever justified.

                                        No, it does not imply that, but I would nonetheless contend that there
                                        are times when it is for the greater good of humanity to intentionally
                                        target peaceful individuals for death. If, however pure the intentions
                                        of these people, their actions or existence aids a great threat to
                                        humanity, I would say it is better to kill them than leave them be.

                                        >> >This gets a little more into the attributes of the specifc natural
                                        >> >right not to be killed than is apt to be useful to someone who
                                        >thinks
                                        >> >there is no such thing. I would argue that the attributes of the
                                        >> >right not to be killed are such that the right can be forfeit by
                                        >one
                                        >> >who is engaged in the conscious act/attempt of violating another's
                                        >> >right not to be killed, or has previously violated the same.
                                        >>
                                        >> That being the case those who have knowingly profited from acts
                                        >which
                                        >> have killed large numbers of human beings and have done nothing to
                                        >> stop it, rather actually encouraged it, would forfeit their "right
                                        >> to life". I contend that is the case with most of those in the WTC.
                                        >
                                        >Then I think our difference of opinion is not about the existance and
                                        >validity of a right not to be killed/"right to life", rather our
                                        >disagreement concerns the conditions under which an individual has
                                        >forfeit that right.
                                        >
                                        >--Jason Auvenshine

                                        That is one of our disagreements, but not the only one. I would say
                                        that a person with good intentions who objectively is harmful to humanity
                                        should be killed.

                                        --Kevin
                                      • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                        ... away ... So you are claiming that Mao was only talking about government granted rights when he stated There are no rights... ? That seems unlikely, given
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Dec 17, 2002
                                          --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                          > Only that privilege or immunity granted by authority can be taken
                                          away
                                          > by that authority and that what is perceived to be a legal claim can
                                          > be ruled otherwise. I'm sure that's what Mao Zedong meant when he
                                          > said, "There are no rights, only power struggles."

                                          So you are claiming that Mao was only talking about government
                                          granted rights when he stated "There are no rights..."? That seems
                                          unlikely, given the common objection to Communism that it infringes
                                          on natural rights. It seems to me more likely that Mao was saying
                                          that there are no rights (including natural rights) other than those
                                          granted as a result of a power struggle (by government). This is the
                                          position I have been attacking as unreasonable.

                                          Certainly I'd agree that government doesn't do anything without a
                                          power struggle, including granting rights. All I have been saying is
                                          that there are certain rights that arise from man's nature and
                                          physical reality -- rights that greatly affect human well-being and
                                          preceed and exist independant of whether or not a particular
                                          government grants/recognizes/enforces them.

                                          > No, it does not imply that, but I would nonetheless contend that
                                          there
                                          > are times when it is for the greater good of humanity to
                                          intentionally
                                          > target peaceful individuals for death. If, however pure the
                                          intentions
                                          > of these people, their actions or existence aids a great threat to
                                          > humanity, I would say it is better to kill them than leave them be.

                                          What if one considers, as I do, the killing of peaceful individuals
                                          to itself be one of the greatest threats facing humanity?

                                          > >Then I think our difference of opinion is not about the existance
                                          and
                                          > >validity of a right not to be killed/"right to life", rather our
                                          > >disagreement concerns the conditions under which an individual has
                                          > >forfeit that right.
                                          >
                                          > That is one of our disagreements, but not the only one. I would say
                                          > that a person with good intentions who objectively is harmful to
                                          humanity
                                          > should be killed.

                                          I believe the evidence of history shows that a person is objectively
                                          harmful to humanity only when that person infringes upon the rights
                                          of others.

                                          --Jason Auvenshine
                                        • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                          ... The mere fact that it is a common objection does not mean it is a truthful objection. ... The context of the essay in which Mao said this is that we must
                                          Message 20 of 24 , Dec 17, 2002
                                            >
                                            >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                            >> Only that privilege or immunity granted by authority can be taken
                                            >away
                                            >> by that authority and that what is perceived to be a legal claim can
                                            >> be ruled otherwise. I'm sure that's what Mao Zedong meant when he
                                            >> said, "There are no rights, only power struggles."
                                            >
                                            >So you are claiming that Mao was only talking about government
                                            >granted rights when he stated "There are no rights..."? That seems
                                            >unlikely, given the common objection to Communism that it infringes
                                            >on natural rights.

                                            The mere fact that it is a common objection does not mean it is a
                                            truthful objection.

                                            >It seems to me more likely that Mao was saying
                                            >that there are no rights (including natural rights) other than those
                                            >granted as a result of a power struggle (by government). This is the
                                            >position I have been attacking as unreasonable.

                                            The context of the essay in which Mao said this is that we must
                                            struggle for any gains we hope to have in our condition and cannot
                                            expect governments to recoginze our having rights (natural, legal,
                                            or otherwise).

                                            >Certainly I'd agree that government doesn't do anything without a
                                            >power struggle, including granting rights. All I have been saying is
                                            >that there are certain rights that arise from man's nature and
                                            >physical reality -- rights that greatly affect human well-being and
                                            >preceed and exist independant of whether or not a particular
                                            >government grants/recognizes/enforces them.
                                            >
                                            >> No, it does not imply that, but I would nonetheless contend that
                                            >there
                                            >> are times when it is for the greater good of humanity to
                                            >intentionally
                                            >> target peaceful individuals for death. If, however pure the
                                            >intentions
                                            >> of these people, their actions or existence aids a great threat to
                                            >> humanity, I would say it is better to kill them than leave them be.
                                            >
                                            >What if one considers, as I do, the killing of peaceful individuals
                                            >to itself be one of the greatest threats facing humanity?
                                            >
                                            >> >Then I think our difference of opinion is not about the existance
                                            >and
                                            >> >validity of a right not to be killed/"right to life", rather our
                                            >> >disagreement concerns the conditions under which an individual has
                                            >> >forfeit that right.
                                            >>
                                            >> That is one of our disagreements, but not the only one. I would say
                                            >> that a person with good intentions who objectively is harmful to
                                            >humanity
                                            >> should be killed.
                                            >
                                            >I believe the evidence of history shows that a person is objectively
                                            >harmful to humanity only when that person infringes upon the rights
                                            >of others.
                                            >
                                            >--Jason Auvenshine

                                            That is a tautology, as you believe that by harming humanity, that person
                                            infringes on rights. I would conclude, that one may not intentionally
                                            infringe on rights to be a menace. The Jewish children blown up in
                                            the martyrdoms in Tel-Aviv are doubtless without malice. Nonetheless they
                                            are future generations who will serve as soldiers of Zionism, and killing
                                            them while young is as valid as killing them while old.

                                            --Kevin
                                          • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                            ... objectively ... rights ... person ... intentionally ... Nonetheless they ... killing ... You are correct, it is a tautology as stated. What I left out was
                                            Message 21 of 24 , Dec 20, 2002
                                              --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                              > >I believe the evidence of history shows that a person is
                                              objectively
                                              > >harmful to humanity only when that person infringes upon the
                                              rights
                                              > >of others.
                                              > >
                                              > >--Jason Auvenshine
                                              >
                                              > That is a tautology, as you believe that by harming humanity, that
                                              person
                                              > infringes on rights. I would conclude, that one may not
                                              intentionally
                                              > infringe on rights to be a menace. The Jewish children blown up in
                                              > the martyrdoms in Tel-Aviv are doubtless without malice.
                                              Nonetheless they
                                              > are future generations who will serve as soldiers of Zionism, and
                                              killing
                                              > them while young is as valid as killing them while old.

                                              You are correct, it is a tautology as stated. What I left out was
                                              the definition of specific right(s) in question.

                                              So, let me rephrase the statement with a specific right for our
                                              discussion:
                                              The evidence of history shows that a person is always objectively
                                              harmful to humanity if that person infringes upon the right of
                                              another peaceful human being not to be killed.

                                              Based on your paragraph above, I assume it would be fair to state
                                              your position as the opposite:
                                              The evidence of history shows that a person is not always objectively
                                              harmful to humanity if that person infringes upon the right of
                                              another peaceful human being not to be killed.

                                              For the sake of argument, let's examine your statement about Jewish
                                              children, ie that they will grow up to be "soldiers of Zion" whose
                                              operational defintion will be "a bad thing for humanity."

                                              The future is not predictable with certainty. It's possible that
                                              some of the Jewish children would grow up and be peace activists.
                                              Maybe a libertarian, or a communist, or an islamist. All of these
                                              things are possible, but of course you would say that becoming
                                              a "soldier of Zion" is the most likely outcome for a Jewish child, a
                                              claim which I cannot dispute. So let's assume that the probability
                                              is high.

                                              Humans are fallible. The most immediate possible fallacy is that the
                                              children in the blast radius might not all be Jewish. But again, the
                                              probability of them being Jewish is pretty high given the target area.

                                              So...the suicide bombers are with a high probability killing children
                                              who would otherwise grow up to be something we have defined for sake
                                              of argument as objectively harmful to humanity. Does this establish
                                              that the killings are objectively beneficial? Not by a long shot.

                                              Rights address how societies function -- the interaction between many
                                              human beings. Thus far we have considered only the Jewish children
                                              and the suicide bombers. How are the parents, siblings, and friends
                                              of the Jewish children likely to react to the situation? By becoming
                                              MORE violent, not less. This is the "escalation" factor I mentioned
                                              in a previous message. For every Jewish child killed by a suicide
                                              bomber, the family and friends are apt to attempt/support retaliatory
                                              actions that would result in a far greater number of Palestinians
                                              being killed.

                                              You may of course point out that the suicide bombings are only
                                              happening because the Israeli army is _already_ killing Palestinian
                                              children, both directly and indirectly. This would be correct, but
                                              it makes rather than refutes my point. Violence begets more and
                                              greater violence. I do not excuse violence initiated by Isreal (or
                                              the U.S.) and realize that much of what goes on currently is simply
                                              backlash. Are the Isrealis objectively better off for having killed
                                              Palestinian children? No. Are the Palestinians objectively better
                                              off for having killed Isreali children? Again, no. Not because
                                              they're not actually taking out likely soldiers for the other
                                              side...they are. But because they are continuing in a cycle of
                                              violence which, if unchecked, will result in massive bloodshed,
                                              destruction, and death on both sides until one side or the other is
                                              utterly vanquished.

                                              This ever-growing "backlash" for killing is one of the things that
                                              makes it objectively harmful to do so even when the person being
                                              killed is presumed to be objectively harmful but currently peaceful.

                                              The other reason why killing an objectively harmful, but currently
                                              peaceful person is itself objectively harmful is desensitization.
                                              History and human psychology tends to indicate that the more one
                                              engages in (in this case, orders) killing, the more indiscriminate
                                              one becomes about it. Thus, over time, we could expect those
                                              ordering the killings to get sloppy with their assessments about who
                                              is objectively harmful, and start killing peole who were simply a
                                              threat to their political power and such.

                                              --Jason Auvenshine
                                            • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                              ... Of course violence begets violence. It cannot be otherwise in war. It will end when one side or the other decides to give up. Since the imperialists need
                                              Message 22 of 24 , Dec 21, 2002
                                                >
                                                >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                                >> >I believe the evidence of history shows that a person is
                                                >objectively
                                                >> >harmful to humanity only when that person infringes upon the
                                                >rights
                                                >> >of others.
                                                >> >
                                                >> >--Jason Auvenshine
                                                >>
                                                >> That is a tautology, as you believe that by harming humanity, that
                                                >person
                                                >> infringes on rights. I would conclude, that one may not
                                                >intentionally
                                                >> infringe on rights to be a menace. The Jewish children blown up in
                                                >> the martyrdoms in Tel-Aviv are doubtless without malice.
                                                >Nonetheless they
                                                >> are future generations who will serve as soldiers of Zionism, and
                                                >killing
                                                >> them while young is as valid as killing them while old.
                                                >
                                                >You are correct, it is a tautology as stated. What I left out was
                                                >the definition of specific right(s) in question.
                                                >
                                                >So, let me rephrase the statement with a specific right for our
                                                >discussion:
                                                >The evidence of history shows that a person is always objectively
                                                >harmful to humanity if that person infringes upon the right of
                                                >another peaceful human being not to be killed.
                                                >
                                                >Based on your paragraph above, I assume it would be fair to state
                                                >your position as the opposite:
                                                >The evidence of history shows that a person is not always objectively
                                                >harmful to humanity if that person infringes upon the right of
                                                >another peaceful human being not to be killed.
                                                >
                                                >For the sake of argument, let's examine your statement about Jewish
                                                >children, ie that they will grow up to be "soldiers of Zion" whose
                                                >operational defintion will be "a bad thing for humanity."
                                                >
                                                >The future is not predictable with certainty. It's possible that
                                                >some of the Jewish children would grow up and be peace activists.
                                                >Maybe a libertarian, or a communist, or an islamist. All of these
                                                >things are possible, but of course you would say that becoming
                                                >a "soldier of Zion" is the most likely outcome for a Jewish child, a
                                                >claim which I cannot dispute. So let's assume that the probability
                                                >is high.
                                                >
                                                >Humans are fallible. The most immediate possible fallacy is that the
                                                >children in the blast radius might not all be Jewish. But again, the
                                                >probability of them being Jewish is pretty high given the target area.
                                                >
                                                >So...the suicide bombers are with a high probability killing children
                                                >who would otherwise grow up to be something we have defined for sake
                                                >of argument as objectively harmful to humanity. Does this establish
                                                >that the killings are objectively beneficial? Not by a long shot.
                                                >
                                                >Rights address how societies function -- the interaction between many
                                                >human beings. Thus far we have considered only the Jewish children
                                                >and the suicide bombers. How are the parents, siblings, and friends
                                                >of the Jewish children likely to react to the situation? By becoming
                                                >MORE violent, not less. This is the "escalation" factor I mentioned
                                                >in a previous message. For every Jewish child killed by a suicide
                                                >bomber, the family and friends are apt to attempt/support retaliatory
                                                >actions that would result in a far greater number of Palestinians
                                                >being killed.
                                                >
                                                >You may of course point out that the suicide bombings are only
                                                >happening because the Israeli army is _already_ killing Palestinian
                                                >children, both directly and indirectly. This would be correct, but
                                                >it makes rather than refutes my point. Violence begets more and
                                                >greater violence. I do not excuse violence initiated by Isreal (or
                                                >the U.S.) and realize that much of what goes on currently is simply
                                                >backlash. Are the Isrealis objectively better off for having killed
                                                >Palestinian children? No. Are the Palestinians objectively better
                                                >off for having killed Isreali children? Again, no. Not because
                                                >they're not actually taking out likely soldiers for the other
                                                >side...they are. But because they are continuing in a cycle of
                                                >violence which, if unchecked, will result in massive bloodshed,
                                                >destruction, and death on both sides until one side or the other is
                                                >utterly vanquished.
                                                >
                                                >This ever-growing "backlash" for killing is one of the things that
                                                >makes it objectively harmful to do so even when the person being
                                                >killed is presumed to be objectively harmful but currently peaceful.
                                                >
                                                >The other reason why killing an objectively harmful, but currently
                                                >peaceful person is itself objectively harmful is desensitization.
                                                >History and human psychology tends to indicate that the more one
                                                >engages in (in this case, orders) killing, the more indiscriminate
                                                >one becomes about it. Thus, over time, we could expect those
                                                >ordering the killings to get sloppy with their assessments about who
                                                >is objectively harmful, and start killing peole who were simply a
                                                >threat to their political power and such.
                                                >
                                                >--Jason Auvenshine

                                                Of course violence begets violence. It cannot be otherwise in war.
                                                It will end when one side or the other decides to give up. Since
                                                the imperialists need us to do the work for them, they can't kill
                                                us all, but since we don't need them, we can kill all of them. Thus
                                                it is logical to assume that there will be some Arabs left alive after
                                                every Jew is dead, or more likely, that the Zionists will give up the
                                                struggle and either return to Europe and North America or agree to
                                                live in a united, democratic secular Palestine without economic privilege
                                                without having killed all the Palestineans.

                                                On the other hand, what is the alternative? Not kill any Jews and suffer
                                                their oppression? That is a formula for continuing Zionist oppression,
                                                which is not conducive to the happiness of humanity. Kill only soldiers?
                                                That will result in a casualty rate lopsided in the favour of the Jews
                                                and will cause the defeat of the current struggle. Also soldiers also
                                                have loved ones, and when soldiers are killed there is also a call for
                                                vengeance and an escallation of violence, so the result will be just
                                                as bad for the Palestineans in the long run. Given that Israel practices
                                                universal conscription, there isn't much distinctions between soldiers
                                                and civilians in that country anyway.

                                                --Kevin

                                                Roses are red
                                                Violets are blue
                                                For every dead Arab
                                                Another dead Jew

                                                --National Alliance chant
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