Saturday, February 25, 2012

Six! Five! Four! Three! It's the De-on-to-lo-gy!

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [dreaming] I am not a Frankenstein. I'm a Fronkensteen. Don't give me that. I don't believe in fate. And I won't say it.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: All right, you win. You win. I give. I'll say it. I'll say it. I'll say it. DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME! DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME!
Got the preceding from IMDB, quoting one of my favorite movies, Young Frankenstein (many thanks to my parents for turning me on to Mel Brooks in my youth).

Sometimes I find myself in much the same circumstance, having arrived at liberty via deontology. I recognize the consequentialist arguments for liberty, because I think liberty does produce better outcomes for all (including the poor). However...

...the end no more justifies the means in this case than it does in any other. Even if liberty were consequence-independent, I would be obliged to argue for liberty as the only possible moral arrangement.

Here's how it goes: We are, whether one believes (as I do) that one is made in the image of G_d, or at any rate inherent to one's nature as a human being, each of us endowed with the right to our own lives. More to the point, perhaps, there is no reliable or incontrovertible basis (none that I can find, at any rate) for saying, "This one is born to rule, that one born to serve."

I have said before and say here again that temporal authority claims are nothing more than warmed-over Filmer backed by naked force and more or less will to use it. One points to the talisman clenched in one's hand and says, "This thing in my hand, this (pedigree, patent of nobility, warrant/badge, electoral result) affirms that I am G_d's anointed, and you are morally bound to obey (again more to the point, one is bound to render up some portion of one's life, for my benefit, on pain of fine, imprisonment, door-kicking-in-at-3-am-and-dog-shooting-followed by imprisonment, or all of the above followed by death)."

If we each of us are truly endowed with the right to our own lives, then it follows that we are enjoined from aggressing against the life of anyone else. And if we each of us are enjoined from aggression, how do we delegate the right to use aggression to anyone, whatever talisman they might wave at us by way of justification?

The sole alternative to the non-aggression principle is, in the end: might makes right. It can't, in the end, be anything else.

What does this have to do with the title of the post? Because that way lies statelessness, and the unknown but potential consequences occasionally do weigh on me. I don't think statelessness necessarily leads inevitably to Somalia (and I certainly don't claim it will immanentize the Eschaton), but neither can I rule it out.

But neither can I start writing exceptions to non-aggression. All bases for exception are by definition arbitrary.

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