Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A rare and unusual mistake

Blackdragon's blog is one of the best sources of advice out there for introverted guys like me about dating, money, investing, and a number of other things. I'm also a fan of his books- if you're looking to develop your online game, his ebooks are outstanding value for money. And I have great respect for his writing and his point of view, he writes well and always publishes thought-provoking posts that might just force you to question certain fundamental assumptions.

His latest post was no exception, but in this case I found myself very much disagreeing with his conclusions:
All this hand-wringing about society is very silly. I’ve seen it my whole life from left-wingers, right-wingers, and centrists alike. 
Society will take care of itself. It always does. Human beings have been around for 120,000 years and human civilization has been for 7,000 years, and I notice that society is still here. Human beings have not died out due to plague, war, nuclear weapons, terrorists, global warming, evil governments, poverty, drugs, guns, lack of babies, or Honey Boo Boo. Regardless of all these things, society is still chugging right along, despite all the millions of people now and throughout history who have chosen to do things in their personal lives that were “not good” for society...
As I said above, you can try to convince this woman that what she’s doing is bad for society. That’s totally fine. Some women may listen, some won’t. I try to convince people of all kinds of things all the time. Some people listen, some people don’t, some people get pissed and call me names, some people eventually come around, some never do. Their choice. It’s all part of this wonderful, imperfect, integrated system called “personal freedom”. 
This is why I will never support a society that restricts women’s freedoms at the governmental level. (Again remember, that doesn’t mean women can commit violence or forcibly take things away from people). Society cannot force women to have babies (or not have them) or limit women’s right to work or vote or whatever because of what “society” needs or wants. Society can go fuck itself. In a contest between the individual and the collective, I’m going to support the individual 95% of the time, woman or man. (That remaining 5% is only when someone is committing violence, theft, or similar.)
Blackdragon's basic point is that the arguments within the Manosphere, particularly from the more vocal MRAs, about restricting or even removing women's right to vote, are dangerous and disingenuous. He does have a point- in a free society, one cannot force anyone to do anything he does not want to do. And that is the fundamental reason why he disagrees with the idea of restricting the right to vote, even though he completely agrees with guys like me when we point out the predictable disasters that have followed from giving women the vote.

There is, however, one major flaw in this logic. There is an implicit assumption here that voting is somehow benign, when it is most assuredly not. Voting is an act of force, nothing more, and nothing less.

Think about this carefully. When you cast your vote in favour of some politician's policies, you are using force and coercion to achieve certain ends. That is what government is- force. It is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. It doesn't matter if you're voting for or against the candidate who wants to lower people's taxes; it doesn't matter if you're voting for or against the candidate who wants to go to war in some God-forsaken land populated by barbarians; it doesn't matter if you vote for or against the candidate who wants to socialise your health care system. Ultimately, you are using government force to achieve ends that you desire.

This is where things get very tricky for a lot of libertarians. Libertarians like me (and Blackdragon) are all about human freedom. The core of our belief system comes down to the idea that Man lives best and most happily when left to his own ends. And that belief is the only one that truly makes sense. I firmly believe that it is the only one that is compatible with the will of our Lord; the Supreme Judge of the Universe, in His wisdom, gave us the gift of reason, and with it the ability to choose to live our lives in accordance or at odds with His Law.

However, there is also the reality that men are not angels; as James Madison pointed out, if they were, we would not need government. Governments are instituted among men, subordinate to the will of the people, to preserve them from each other. That is the entire sum of government's purpose and reason for existing. No other reason is necessary. Government is not a redistribution mechanism, it is not a system of favours, it is merely a guardian of ancient, timeless freedoms given to us by the hand of the Almighty, and can be taken from us only by Him. To assign any other purpose to government is to betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of government.

Yet we are still left with the sticky question: even if government is force, to what degree should ordinary people be given access to that power? Less mature libertarians might argue that no government is necessary at all; as I have pointed out before, this is unworkable in practice.

An even more immature response would be to argue that everyone should be allowed such access, and this is exactly where I take issue with Blackdragon's argument. Blackdragon openly acknowledges that, when given the vote, women tend to vote for socialist and liberal political causes that immediately act to reduce human freedom, and he is completely correct to note this. (To be as judiciously fair as possible, it's not just women who fall afoul of this affliction- visit my home country some day and see what happens when you give the right to vote to 700 million poor people.) Yet far from affirming his point that it is immoral to restrict women's freedom to vote, he undermines it.

Let me explain why. The reality is that the only philosophically coherent, practicable, and intellectually consistent approach to human freedom is to adopt a system of government that permits the maximum in individual freedom compatible with law and order. This means that some degree of government is inevitable. It literally can't be avoided; for a society to function properly, there have to be universal rules, and they have to be consistently enforced.

It also means that access to government power must be restricted to those with skin in the game.

And that, by definition, must mean restricting the vote only to those who have an incentive to use it responsibly. And yes, historically, that meant restricting the right to vote to wealthy landowning white men.

It also means that institutions of power must be balanced against each other- placed at loggerheads with the specific intention of ensuring that no one group becomes too powerful. This exact philosophy was the guiding principle behind the most successful power structures in history, including the oligarchy of Sparta, the Roman Republic, the Parliament of the British Empire, and eventually the original structure of the Federal government of the United States.

Note carefully what I am saying, and more importantly what I am not saying. I am saying that the right to vote should be restricted- absolutely. It should be restricted to those who own property, for a start, simply because they will have less incentive to use that right to take the property and wealth of others. This automatically excludes most young people, and most women. I am saying that the right to vote should be denied to women, for the simple reason that no good can come of it. I am not saying that the right to vote should alone determine government acts; at every point in the structure of power, there must be counterbalances, pitting the Federal government against the State, the State government against the local, and the local government against the individual. Only in this contentious, competitive environment can people truly understand the value of their freedoms, and the need to defend them to the last breath. For instance, I would love to see the Federal government try to take people's guns if they found themselves having to pass the hurdles of State, local, and finally individual sovereignty, especially when everyone and his mother is free to buy and carry a gun.

It is unfashionable in the extreme to argue that freedoms, of any kind, should be restricted to anyone. The best answer I have ever seen to that line of argument comes from one of my favourite books, Starship Troopers:
Both for practical reasons and for mathematically verifiable moral ones, to permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster; to hold a man responsible for anything he does not control is to behave with blind idiocy. The unlimited democracies were unstable because their citizens were not responsible for the fashion in which they exerted their sovereign authority . . . other than through the tragic logic of history.
The bottom line that Blackdragon and others like him do not account for is the fundamental link between responsibility and authority. If a woman- or anyone else, for that matter- cannot demonstrate that she can responsibly wield the authority she is given, she does not deserve it and should not have it. End of story. And if universal suffrage has demonstrated anything over the last hundred years, it is that giving the irresponsible, the reckless, the stupid, and the unmanly the right to determine the destinies of nations was and always will be an incredibly stupid idea.

I leave it to Walter Bagehot to have the last word:
History is littered with the remains of great civilisations that gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness


  1. Salient points.

    This is an extension of HBD.

    I am not an idiot, therefore don't put me on the same level as an idiot for some such notion of "equality".

    There was a reason the Founders explicitly denied the vote to women and others that didn't own property and it damn sure wasn't because they were racist or sexist(lol).

    They did it because they were smart and knew what stupid or emotionally led(same thing?) people would do with it.

    Freedom and equality aren't the same thing and exclusion of certain groups is only natural.

    If someone wants to give the fools and females the vote fine: go start your own country and watch how quickly it slides into decay like the US has in the last 60 years.

    I had some better points but I spent all day at interviews so my brain has been annihilated by a tsunami of social interaction and isn't working quite right.

    Again, good post; it illustrated well how easily someone can slip into false modes of perception.

    Always question one's basic assumptions.

    1. There was a reason the Founders explicitly denied the vote to women and others that didn't own property and it damn sure wasn't because they were racist or sexist

      Quite. The Founder were basically trying to preserve and protect the constitutionally derived rights that they had always believed to be theirs as free-born Englishmen. These traditions came from documents like the Magna Charta, which were most definitely NOT trying to promote equality, but were instead trying to ensure that basic liberties were preserved through balances of power.

      If someone wants to give the fools and females the vote fine: go start your own country and watch how quickly it slides into decay like the US has in the last 60 years.

      The only consolation I can offer is that if you think it's bad here, wait until you see what it's like in my country, where literally 700 million very poor people all have the right to vote. As one would expect, they tend to use their votes to favour whoever offers up the most of other people's money to buy their loyalties...

      I had some better points but I spent all day at interviews so my brain has been annihilated by a tsunami of social interaction and isn't working quite right.

      Oy vey. My sympathies, mate. Hopefully there weren't any quite as bad as this one character I had to interview recently. The idiot had no idea what he was talking about, and had no real interest in the actual role. Had to be one of THE worst interviews I've ever done- and this time I was the one doing the interviewing.

  2. The Founders Era was completely different. It was an agricultural era. Men didn't just simply own property. Their property was their livelihood. Most landowners owned many acres of land and had built their own homes. They weren't just casting a vote based on a piece of property, they were casting a vote that tied directly to their living. They had a serious responsibility as well. Their votes effected their families as well.

    Women got the right to vote in the Industrial Era. Most women still were in charge of their households but the poorer classes of women had to work in factories or in their family businesses.

  3. "It is unfashionable in the extreme to argue that freedoms, of any kind, should be restricted to anyone."

    And now you realise why the very idea of Lockean rights is so damaging. Regardless of how vile, damaging or stupid it is, people will defend anything so long as it's framed as a right - and it's a sneaky way to introduce policy changes that would otherwise be unpopular.

    No. No more rights. Noblesse oblige, chartered freedoms, duties and allegiances. No more rights.

    I would personally take it one step further: abolish democracy/republic and reinstitute monarchy. We already have an aristocracy that enjoys all the benefits and bears none of the burdens. For someone truly talented and worthy, access to the formal levers of power were never out of the question - either entering the aristocracy through marriage or purchase of land.


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