Response to Responses

4 Jan

My friend Michael Hamilton wrote a thoughtful response to my last post, and this post is my response to that one. I will also address a few comments from the Facebook comments section.

When you differ on the most fundamental level, as I do with Mike, disagreements are found everywhere. For instance, I even disagree with his use of the word “prudence.” Unfortunately, we aren’t having a conversation, where topics can be taken up with greater ease and questions be asked at every turn. So I will address what I think is the crux of his argument and our general disagreement.

” Vices are actions bad for the person doing something, crimes are actions that victimize a third party. Vices only deserve scorn, while violence can be rightfully used to stop crimes, even those not committed against you.”

The vice/crime distinction is arbitrary and depends on circumstance rather than principle. Let me explain: the smaller a political community, the more clearly we see that it needs the devotion of each citizen. In a group of 10, when one member lapses into indolence. his indolence has direct consequences for the group. The individual’s indolence weakens the group, and therefore harms the other citizens. In America, the vast commercial republic, the disintegration of thousands and thousands of lives can be outweighed by the work ethic and habits of millions of other members. Not to mention the extreme case of war, where a people “fights for its very existence.” In such cases the indolence and weakness of some members of a social-body clearly harms other members. Should those who wish for the health of the whole ignore the growth and spread of pernicious habits?

Our nation’s size makes it easy to say to oneself “my own private habits are nothing more than that, my own! If they are a problem, they are my problem. Bugger off.” This illusion disappears in certain cases, and will gradually disappear as weakness and indolence become the norm. Once it becomes very visible to the majority of citizens that indolence and bad habits are damaging to the whole, they finally respond. But this response often happens too late and at the end of the road. This end of the road response is often violent and it has historically been fascist. The people turn to fascism (or something similar) because the people see very clearly that each person needs to contribute and instead of trying to bolster the habits and social norms through persuasion, they turn to law (force) and ask it to accomplish everything. In the modern setting, this has horrible consequences. So the American Conservative always keeps in view that decayed liberal democracies turn fascist, and to avoid the weakness of decay and the terror of fascism, he (the American Conservative) uses his rhetoric to attempt to halt, slow, or reverse the decay. He might try to keep marijuana illegal now, so that in the future the government does not take the reigns and ask the law to do far more.

We see the weakness of the libertarian position in my friend’s professed love of blue states/cities. He loves the social decay that, as one of his commenters noted, always seems tied to invasive governments.

Nathan Kross: I have spent far too much time on the above and need to do something else with my day. I also feel inadequate, insofar as I think you are correct, but only in a way. The contrary position is nuanced and that nuance, along with the talent for bringing out that nuance, is beyond my capacities here. I offer a quote that addresses your concerns, but only in a way. It is a quote from Willmoore Kendall.



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