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eyes black and white

Justice, Police and Government

Some people, including many libertarians, argue against the principle of "Preemptive Strike". To be just, you should never strike first, they say, for justice is about doing to culprits according to what they've actually done, and not according to speculations about what they could have done. Yeah, right. With such a principle, you should wait for the suicide bomber to kill hundreds and more, before you may punish him? I hope you can put together the bits to which he was the first to be blown. And a woman should wait for the rapist to rape her, before she may react? And then what, for a perfect reciprocal justice, what she gains is the right to rape him in return? How utterly stupid! Sure, Justice never strikes first. Judicial prosecution against innocents is a bad joke; it isn't Justice to kill a menacing criminal, or to put to jail a burglar who failed at his burglary, or a would-be rapist who was arrested before he could have his ways, or a fraud who failed to deceive his target. No it ain't Justice, and those who claim it is are morons or frauds indeed. But there is such thing as Police, and Police is exactly what these things are: preventing villains from doing harm.

Police action against threatening enemies is quite desirable, and it may sometimes include killing. And when the threatening enemies are organized on a large scale, the police operations may themselves be organized on a large scale, too. When is a threat enough to justify force, and what force? Good question. Sometimes, the answer is easy: if someone wields a gun, and you know he'll be trying to shoot you, you better shoot him before he shoots you. Sometimes, the answer is less easy: if he says he'll come in your sleep and slit your throat, and he really means it, and you know you'll otherwise be defenseless, you may be well advised shoot him on the spot, while you still can. Sometimes the answer is quite difficult: if some people from a loose group make general but serious threats, but you can't be sure exactly how far they'll go, and when they'll strike whom, then you're in trouble.

So when the answer is difficult, you may react too little or too much, or against the wrong people, or at the wrong time. If you react too little, the sanction will be your being victim of aggression. If you react too much or otherwise wrong, the sanction will be you'll have to repair your wrongs. And in the latter case, as always, if you can't settle with someone who says you've wronged him, you'll have to face Justice. There is nothing particular about Police actions here, really: when you do wrong, you have to repair your wrongs. Justice and Police are quite independent things, and confusion is only brought by government monopoly. And based on this confusion, the french "justice" system releases dangerous serial rapist-killers who "did their time", whereas it secures for decades peaceful and productive citizens who are not a threat to their fellow citizens, and are prevented from compensating their victims — or worse, who are injustly imprisoned for defending themselves rather than let the State "defend" them.

In any case, in Police operations as in any Human Action, though principles may guide you, the only way to ultimately find out the outcome of an action is to try it out, if you dare — and face the consequences. So you better do the best you can think of. In a free society, you may subscribe an insurance against such reparations and prosecutions; this way, you may share it with other people who are ready to voluntarily share yours (presumably under the condition that you share theirs); but your subscription fee will necessarily increase if you keep being wrong. And so ultimately, you can't evade your responsibility. Tough nuggies. That's life. Blame Nature. Blame God. But you just can't cheat with Reality.

Some people are afraid of taking such risks and facing the consequences. They call for a magic solution to take these risks away from them: Government. But Government won't take away the intrinsic costs, risks and uncertainties in Human Action — it will only concentrate these costs, risks, uncertainties. And then, you find the same people who say they want to be relieved by Government complain that Government doesn't do what it should — go figure! Truth is, Government is but a con game, whereby the mass of citizens bear the costs, risks and uncertainties, whereas those who play the Game of Power and Parasitism will reap the benefits. The risks are still there, it's just not the people who decide who bear them anymore — unaccountability.

As the citizen of some Government, you're probably a victim of this con game. Do you pride yourself as not being a victim? You're probably deluded. If not, well, then, which is worse, you're a criminal; for forcing other people to do your police work, through taxes, laws, draft, etc., is nothing but racket and slavery. And since you're a criminal, don't be surprised the day your victims come for justice, or the day they decide they better take police action against you. Oh, you may deceive a lot of people for a long time; but when you spread stupidity amongst people, you spread something you can't control, and that will ultimately turn against you, too. Tyrants, you can't last eternally; your days are numbered.

Comments

You just jumped in to the hot debate of what constitutes a threat. To some an intense glance, however momentary is, to others, a man with a gun, is not. To think a line can be drawn with reason here is madness. Sure there are some clear cut cases. But many, i'd venture to say even the majority, are not as clear cut as we'd like to imagine.

Drawing the line

With or without reason, a line IS being drawn at every instant, in every action of every man, whether you like it or not. So it better be with reason. I certainly don't claim that it will be drawn out of "pure" (what's that already?) "context-independent" (why such a ridiculous constraint?) reason. Justice is not to be restricted to Praxeology, though Praxeology can certainly tell us things about Justice.

So yes, you better not let loose in Switzerland a random albanese brute who'll stab an innocent bystander because he didn't like the way the victim looked at him (sadly, a real event) -- police is cheaper and less riskier when it's done enough in advance than when it's done at the last minute (if that bystander had a gun and were fast to use it). Maybe it is legitimately considered a life-threat to be looked at oddly in some retarded societies (though I doubt even albanian mountains are THAT retarded), but it isn't in advanced countries like Switzerland. In each case, the line is clearly drawn, but at a different place -- and apart from an odd particularly stupid immigrant who should never have been allowed in, everyone knows the local rules.

(Anonymous)

Re: Drawing the line

Faré, you're disingenuous. It's not about whether or not you shoot down the plane before it hits the building. It's about whether or not it is justified (ane intelligent...) to shoot down a plane because there are unsavoury charachters onboard.

melodius

What relevance?

Though your remark is correct, I can't see any relevance of it to the topic being discussed, or to any topic whatsoever -- I fear you're setting up a straw man.

(Anonymous)

Re: What relevance?

What straw man ?

Your spectacular metaphor doesn't work (because what it stands for doesn't work either), that's all there is to it.

No need to be bad tempered because I pointed it out.

melodius

Re: What relevance?

What spectacular metaphor? Just what do you think it stands for? You didn't point out anything. If you want to reply to the article, do it. Otherwise, you're replying to straw men that confort your own preconceptions.

(Anonymous)

Re: What relevance?

Yeah, sure.

Lemme quote you:

"Some people, including many libertarians, argue against the principle of "Preemptive Strike". To be just, you should never strike first, they say, for justice is about doing to culprits according to what they've actually done, and not according to speculations about what they could have done. Yeah, right. With such a principle, you should wait for the suicide bomber to kill hundreds and more, before you may punish him? I hope you can put together the bits to which he was the first to be blown. And a woman should wait for the rapist to rape her, before she may react? And then what, for a perfect reciprocal justice, what she gains is the right to rape him in return? How utterly stupid!"

Indeed, how utterly stupid. That's precisely the reason why nobody, and certainly no libertarian that I know of, has ever defended anything like that.

The discussion has always been about what exactly constitutes a threat, and about how avoiding threats to start with. You don't blow a plane out of the air just because there are some nasty people onboard. You don't shoot a man approaching you because he has genitalia and might - theoretically - rape you. You only attack when there is a "clear and present danger". In the case of Iraq, the "pre-emptive strike" you're trying to justify, there was no such danger whatsoever.

Since you are intelligent enought to realize that, let me ask you a question : who is using a straw-man here ?

melodius
http://chacun-pour-soi.blogspot.com/

The point is about JUSTICE, POLICE, and GOVERNMENT

The discussion is not just about threats. It is about distinguishing justice and police. Libertarians and other people who argue against preemptive strikes based on arguments of justice completely and utterly miss the point. Some great specialists in libertarian justice seem totally and wilfully unaware of the notion of police and what it entails.

As for your examples: because nasty people are on board doesn't justify shooting a plane if they are passengers, but fully justifies shooting down the plane if they control the cockpit (assuming the plane will explode over an uninhabited area rather than be crashed into a high-density building). Just because someone has genitalia doesn't warrant killing him, but if he's a serial rapist killer, it does, even if his behaviour poses no clear and present danger to anyone in particular. If you see a dictator with a vengeance against you, who in the past has been a mass murderer, funding terrorism, you may quite legitimately topple him. Actually, you may quite legitimately topple any dictator whatsoever. Each of these actions is perfectly 100% legitimate, even in absence of any clear and present danger.

You might complain that such an action is not economically desirable. The action itself is still legitimate. You might complain that it is not affordable to conduct such an action equally on all earth. The action itself is still legitimate. (And why such a sudden egalitarian streak? The action was obviously affordable in this particular case, since it was actually afforded.) You may complain that it is illegitimate that there be a monopoly on making the choice to fund or not fund such action. The action itself is still legitimate. You may complain that it is illegitimate that funding of such action come from extorted funds. The action itself is still legitimate.

Growing crops is a government monopoly in a few country (North Korea, Cuba, etc.), and a heavily subsidized and controlled activity in many countries. It is nevertheless a legitimate activity. Police is a government monopoly in almost every countries. It is nevertheless a legitimate activity.

People differ on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and the costs and benefits of toppling him in such or such way. That's OK. In a free society, not everyone has to agree on everything. That's why some people would fund toppling him (in such or such other way), and some would not. But the activity of toppling him is legitimate nevertheless.

I dispute your very notion of clear and present danger. No danger whatsoever justifies any action of justice. And any slightest danger is enough to justify an according action of police. Your line of reasoning seems to be based on a corruption of justice, with imminent threat replacing actual facts, as a make do for having justice do a few of the jobs of police, whereas you deny legitimity to police action.

The evil in Police State is State, not Police. And State is just as evil when it prevents war as when it starts it.

(Anonymous)

Re: The point is about JUSTICE, POLICE, and GOVERNMENT

First, allow me the courtesy of articulating my own views. I "might complain" about a lot of things, but I do like to do it myself.

I disagree with your definition of "police" which I think is completely arbitrary.

You cannot separate "police" from justice, since the whole point of policework is to prevent unlawful actions and to bring people who have committed unlawful actions to justice. If the slightest danger was enough to warrant violent action, as you pretend it is, I'd have a right to shoot you in the legs when you start the engine of your car, since your driving your car might potentially hurt or even kill me.

As for Iraq, you misrepresent my views. You pretend to believe that I think all state wars are unjustified. Whereas the fact that the state is involved is a huge minus point that has to be taken into account, I do not deny that sometimes it might be the lesser of two evils, as was the case in Afghanistan for instance.

The reason why the war in Iraq was unjustified is because Iraq was no threat to any of its neighbors anymore, let alone to the West. Moreover, the consequences of this war are already overwhelmingly negative, and we have seen nothing yet.

As for the victims of the SH regime, I find it only mildly amusing that, since the WMD and all other crappy excuses were exposed for the lies they are, so-called libertarians, who oppose social engeneering at home, enthusiastically defend it when it is practised by the US gov't in third world countries. Anyone who believes that Iraq can be remodeled in the USA's image at gunpoint is a fool.

"We are here to help the Vietnamese, because inside every gook there is an American trying to get out."

melodius
http://chacun-pour-soi.blogspot.com/

Your corrupt view of the world

Your conception of police as a subsidiary to justice is the failure of your education as a statist lawyer. Check your assumptions. Police and Justice are quite independent concepts, their context, their goals, their methods, etc., are alien to each other. Neither is a subsidiary to the other, except in the corrupted minds of power-worshippers who can understand but hierarchies as the only possible kind of relationship, and consider drowning people under layers upon layers of bureaucracies as the proper way to control otherwise free and responsible individuals.

The slightest danger DOES warrant action, but not ANY action. And lack of action as well as action bears responsibility. It is RIGHT to shoot in the legs of someone starting his car to run over you. It is RIGHT to shoot someone who intends to to run over you even before he started his car or does anything. Of course, your shooting will probably be disputed if you can't show strong evidence that the guy did intend to run over you. That's a problem with the difficulty of building public knowledge (not to tell about building your own knowledge -- can you read minds?); it's not at all problem with the legitimity of shooting criminals in itself. Anyone can freely shoot any criminal -- even before said criminal acted.

I'm glad you admit that war can be justified, even done by a state. This is not the kind of argument I usually hear from pacifist libertarians. I dispute your silly national-statist notion of neighbours as being of any relevance whatsoever in considerations of justice, police and war. Most criminals don't target policemen, which is no reason why policemen should not go after them -- it is the very definition of policemanship to go after criminals for the sake of other people.

Finally, as of consequences being positive or negative, these are things that are rather subjective, and that have absolutely no relevance to legitimacy or lack thereof. I have the right to shoot myself in the foot, to pay someone to whip me 'til I bleed, to consume drugs that will destroy my mind, or to watch TV all day. These are all perfectly legitimate things to do, though you may argue that they have overwhelmingly negative things to do.

As for excuses to the war -- it requires none else that SH being a dictator. I don't condone insisting on widely-shared suspicions of infringement of UN rules as the official reason to go to war, for I think the UN deserves only one thing: dissolution and imprisonment of its gang of robbers and dictators. Of course the UN would never agree to a war against a dictator qua dictator! I think the US government should never have so much as tried to attract the good graces of these gangsters, and instead should have arrested all of them long ago.

Considering social engineering, there has never been anything wrong with it. What is wrong is use of coercion against innocents, independently of the purpose. Moreover, the lack of active ideological counter-propaganda against islamism, nationalism, socialism, etc., shows that there is specifically no social engineering happening in Iraq by foreigners -- which is all for the better from the US government, and all for the worse from the civil societies of civilized countries, and for the iraqis.

PS: Don't you Vietnam me. Ever.

(Anonymous)

Re: Your corrupt view of the world

You are losing your cool my dear friend. Moreover, you are starting to use ad hominem "arguments" and even to threaten me. I'll "Vietnam" - or, more accurately, "Full Metal Jacket" - whomever I like, whether you appreciate it or not. Or are you pretending to believe I am using some kind of racial slur against you ?

As for the few arguments in your rant worth answering, the sentence "Anyone can freely shoot any criminal -- even before said criminal acted." is a perfect example of more or less everything that is wrong with your static way of reasoning in this matter. One is not born a criminal, one becomes a criminal, by committing a criminal act. Someone who hasn't done anything cannot be a criminal. So what is it you are advocating, shooting everybody just to be sure ?

You dispute my definition of what policework is, even though it is fairly banal. You do fail to explain what is wrong with it, except by questioning my credentials as a "statist lawyer" - a rant that has more than a faint smell of "bourgeois science" about it, by the way. So please elaborate, or even better, provide me with your definition, so we can have a meaningful debate instead of a shouting match.

As for the moral status of an action, you are right that you have the right to inflict whatever harm you wish upon yourself. But you fail to appreciate that war is about inflicting harm upon others, so that doesn't wash either.

I hope we can continue this discussion in a civilized way and am looking forward to read your answer.

melodius
http://chacun-pour-soi.blogspot.com/

Re: Your corrupt view of the world

I claim you are an ignorant twit who don't know a fraction of what I know about the ins and outs of the Vietnam war, and that this is the last topic you should be invoking in an argument with me. I propose that your joke is an insult to all those who have fought for liberty in Vietnam, most of them Vietnamese people, as well as to all those who ever have suffered from communism.

I don't care whether a criminal is criminal because of inborn, acquired, or chosen features; these are meaningless questions for stupid pseudo-philosophers and crooked lawyers who believe or make believe these aspects could be separated. Once a person is identified as a criminal, because of his past conduct or his demonstrated criminal intents, anyone may shoot him or get rid of him in any way whatsoever (modulo respect of third party property). Saddam Hussein has no right to live, neither has Marc Dutroux; their survival is to be owed to the mercy and interests of their victors, and not to any right they might retain.

The idea you defend, that one should wait for a criminal to accomplish his evil act before something might be done to stop him, equates to recognizing the imprescriptible right of criminals to never be stopped until too late. It is the cornerstone of your corrupt view of the world. You fail to understand the distinction between police and justice. You claim your confusion is commonplace, argumentum ad numerum. I do not deny this, and I precisely say it is of the essence of the statist tradition of corrupting the proper notions of law.

As for your views on war, you seem to be swimming into your own kind of accounting fallacies, which isn't surprising considering your education as a tort accountant. Torts are a sad part of life, and torts caused during a war should be paid for, based on an economic calculation. They do not in anyway undermine the legitimacy of a justified war, though they may contribute to make the war less economically desirable to those who wage it.

I am yet to convince that you are able to discuss in a civilized way. I know by experience several of your friends are not.

eyes black and white

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