Thursday, October 15, 2009

Attack of the Conscience

Today I was at a store checking out when the woman at the register asked "What do you do?" It's a fair question since I doubt I look like someone anyone would hire.

So, I answered that I write. Then I immediately felt guilty, and felt as though I had lied to her.

I do write. I even get paid (a tiny bit) to write. So why did i feel like a liar?

Aggression is always wrong, but not all wrongs are aggression

Aggression is always wrong, but not all wrongs are aggression

Initiating force is always wrong, but not every wrong involves initiating force. This brings up a mistake I made recently in a note I sent to L. Neil Smith. He, quite correctly, set me right. Being an opinion I have held for a long time, it is perhaps surprising I let it go so easily.

My mistake involved trying to put all wrongs under the umbrella of "initiating force" instead of realizing that "initiation of force" is just one aspect of things that are wrong to do. You also have things such as fraud.

I was making the incorrect connection that fraud is "economic initiation of force". L. Neil pointed out to me that Marxists have made the claim to him that not handing over the necessities of life to the poor is the same thing. The obvious flaw in this line of thought is that the Marxist's demands place an obligation on someone else and therefore can't be force initiation. You have no right to something that has to be provided by others.

He also mentioned that some people claim that advertising forces mentally weak people to change their money-spending habits. Brainwashing, maybe- force, no. Advertising is as likely to make me NOT want a product as it is to make me want it.

I don't fall for those claims, obviously, so it made me re-evaluate my other view. L. Neil explains that in order to keep things clear and less confusing, we need to keep initiation of physical force separate from other things that may be just as wrong, but which involve no physical attack.

Theft obviously can involve initiation of force, but it doesn't always. Theft is the act of having part of the product of your life taken from you by 1) physical force, 2) threat of physical force, or 3) deceit. Therefore the act of theft is only a violation of the ZAP in cases 1 & 2, but not in 3. Breaking and entering, or a "con", wouldn't violate the ZAP; mugging would. A mugging, or taxation for that matter, depends on force or the threat of force. A burglary, where no contact between the thief and the victim occurs, doesn't involve any physical force against another human being. It is still wrong, which makes me wonder: how much force could be used to resist such an act? Is a booby-trap then an initiation of force?

Fraud, such as a "con" or "fractional reserve banking", relies on lying. I have never considered lying to be an initiation of force by itself, although it is usually wrong.

This makes me think there should be a corollary to the ZAP that asserts that no human being has the right, under any circumstances, to steal from another person, using force or deceit. Government certainly doesn't get a "pass" on this rule, either.