Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Problem of Evil part I

Evil. It is pervasive. It has always existed. It has been a part of human existence since our very beginning. Regardless of your religious or spiritual belief system, or lack thereof, there are some generally agreed upon evils which good men and women fear. Rape. Assault. Murder. Theft. Fraud. Arson. What is this fear rooted in? How does government address the very real danger of evil men? How could a society without government address it? This discussion may at times become dark and challenging, but it is one we must have.

What is it about these crimes which makes them so fearful to us. I propose that it is the theft of the only thing which is ours by natural right. Our lives. We must gain through labor every other thing in our world. But our lives, our bodies, our manifest energies are ours from birth. They are given to us, free of charge, and all the days which follow from that are ours to create.

Certainly, they are not completely free. Our mothers must ingest a huge amount of energy in order for their bodies to create the tissue necessary for us to come into being. Our parents spend an enormous amount of their resources educating us, feeding and clothing us, sheltering and protecting us. But the body itself, it is ours. And every breath and every day we have to cherish as our first, and most true possession.

And when someone commits evil against us, they attempt to take that singular possession away from us. Either through tortuous action, such as rape, through deprivation of our future potential, in murder, or through confiscation of the physical embodiment of our energies, in property crimes. We must learn to understand the root of our fear, and why it is so wrong for these evils to be committed against us, if we are to truly understand how best to defend against them, and how to make ourselves whole once we have suffered them.

Humans fear their mortality. Much of human history has been an effort either to defeat death, or to be remembered after we die. Artists have filled museums, legions have conquered foreign lands, and statues have been erected in the honor of great men, all in an effort not to be forgotten after they were gone. It is the subject of every major religion, and has been addressed by poets, authors, and scientists throughout time. Some scientists believe that in the future we will be able to achieve some kind of immortality, but for now, many people live in fear of losing their life.

It is precisely that fear which drives this challenge to a stateless society. Without the state to protect me, what will keep evil men from taking either my life itself, or the symbolic representations of it? It is this fear that prevents fair, intelligent, open minded individuals from rationally considering and discussing any alternative to the state law enforcement apparatus as a viable means of protection and justice system. Passion rules reason, and so, they find themselves trapped by their fears. I will seek to address some of those fears, and show how a stateless society could not only prevent evil more effectively, but also address it more justly after it has occurred.

In my response to the bigger gun challenge, I laid out a case for the inability of the government to deter crimes before they are committed, protect you from crimes while they are being committed, or adequately resolve crimes after they have been committed. I have repeatedly pointed out that your self defense is your responsibility, and only yours, always. I know it may seem I belabor the point, but it is important to do so, because many people have chosen to abdicate that responsibility in the mistaken belief that others will take up the mantle for them. It simply will not happen.

No one else can ever be as concerned with your well being as you can. No one else is as personally invested, and everyone else has their own well being to address first. Even if you decide not to act in your own defensive self interest, that doesn't alleviate you of the responsibility to do so, or make it any one else's obligation. Even if you actively hire bodyguards and security personnel to protect you, it is still your responsibility to make yourself safe. Relying on any other force, private or public, to act in your defense, even if they are contractually obligated to do so, while refusing to act in your own defense is folly. You must rely on yourself.

So the first and most important thing that people living in any society, stateless or otherwise, must do is prepare for their own defense. This doesn't mean that everyone has to be a gun toting martial artist, although I strongly advocate both firearms ownership and self defense training. Instead it means that you must make decisions in your life which limit the dangerous situations you put yourself in, understand fully how your decisions impact your safety, and maximize your chances of surviving danger when you encounter it.

Everyone has the right to engage in dangerous behavior. If you wish to walk around a dangerous part of town with large quantities of money while drunk, you certainly have that right. And just because you are engaging in dangerous behavior doesn't give anyone the right to victimize you. At the same time, when they do, you must accept the fact that you have put yourself into a situation which increases your chances of being victimized. It never excuses evil when innocent people make themselves easy targets, but making yourself a hard target can go along way towards limiting your encounters with evil men.

But sometimes evil things happen. Evil people break into homes where no one is doing anything to make themselves a target. Sometimes, even when a person is doing everything right, they can still become the victim of evil. So how would a stateless society address these instances of truly, unmitigated, random violence?

First, we must classify crimes as crimes of forethought and crimes of passion. Deliberate evil action requires planning, motive, opportunity, and means. Crimes of passion occur generally without prior preparation and are the result of a person improperly responding to stimulus they are unprepared for. Crimes of forethought are the result of evil, while crimes of passion are generally the result of an inability to cope.

Many of the crimes which occur are the result of government prohibition. Without government, there are no more vice laws. This means that all non-violent vice crimes evaporate immediately. Additionally, because the extremely high profits of vice crime are the result of prohibition, and these high profits fund a large number of related criminal activity, much related crime evaporates as well.

Take for example a drug dealer. He is able to sell his product with an extremely high profit margin because of the difficulty the customer has in acquiring it. Under the current system he is forced to resolve all business disputes extra-legally, because he is prohibited from appealing to the state law enforcement apparatus. Often, this results in violent action.

Under a stateless society, he is able to sell his product legally, which means others are too. Remember, in free market capitalism the goal isn't to make as much profit as possible, it is to make as little profit as possible, and make your fortune by increasing your volume. If you have too high a profit, then your competitors will undercut your prices and put you out of business. So now he's competing for customers with the general store and the pharmacy. Now when he has a business dispute, he is able to hire a private arbitrator to resolve the dispute. He needn't resort to violence, and if he does, his customers and competitors can pursue legal action against him, which they are unable to do under the rule of the state. Suddenly the cost of criminal activity surpasses the cost of honest business, and with his legally acquired profits, he can no longer afford to fund criminal behavior.

Many other crimes occur as the result of our depressed currency. When people are unable to afford basic services, they may turn to crime in desperation. It doesn't excuse their decision, but it is important to understand the factors which may motivate people to steal. Without government, their currency would have more value, and 70% or more of it wouldn't be going back to the government. Now affording basic services is no longer the burden it was before, and people are less likely to resort to theft when a few hours of work could produce better results, without the risk of legal repercussions.

But property and vice crimes aren't really what concern people. Rape, assault, and murder are what concern people.

So what factors contribute to rape, assault, and murder?