Monday, June 10, 2013

Criminalizing reality- wisdom from an unlikely source

"So think about this. What happens when you make something illegal that is just a natural part of the world? You may as well make flies illegal. Or sweat. Or Monday morning." 

Profound quote, isn't it.  Where would you think I came across that one?

In a kids movie: The Tale of Despereaux.  I recommend it.

I like to imagine that little things like this slip into a kid's brain.  And maybe, just maybe, sit in there like a seed.  Sprouting and taking root.  I know my daughter surprises me all the time with things she remembers that I thought she didn't even notice.

And I hope those kids then realize that there are two kinds of things that are a "natural part of the world".  There is the coercive and the consensual.

Aggression and theft- unfortunately- both seem to be a "natural part of the world", but a part that should be opposed.  Or at least not engaged in.  Laws that make them illegal don't make them go away, though.  They only give written justification for defending yourself from those who engage in them- justification that is not necessary.

Then there are the things like Cannabis, self defense, defense of property, consensual sex, etc., that are not valid targets for "law".  They are a "natural part of the world" and any "law" against them is pointless, at best, and destructive in the majority of cases.  Trying to make them illegal is like the example of making flies, sweat, or Monday mornings illegal.  You'll never get rid of those things; you'll hurt a lot of innocent people in the process and make yourself look stupid and irrelevant.

But control freaks and those who throw law tantrums and legal hissy fits are slow learners- if they can learn at all.



  1. Great article. I have a minor quibble over tow of the three things allegedly part of the world. Flies are concretely real to any observer. Even an alien who doesn't use language.

    Sweat is less real. There is a flow of water vapor from inside a human's skin to outside or vice versa. The conditions that the water beads up for a time on skin being called sweat, would not seem to be an ideal way to capture this complex phenomenon, but nevertheless, sweat as an abstract concept is still real. It requires significant language to explain what it is though. You can't merely point at it with any level of confidence.

    Monday mornings would not seem to be very real at all. It is already Tuesday in much of the world. If you were to observe the Earth from a spaceship one light year away, the illusion of there being a day at all disappears.

    Using illusory concepts dependent on being on the surface of a planet is too close to mystical thinking, and shouldn't be engaged in by an objective libertarian.

    The aggregation of seven of them into a week is also completely arbitrary. At the very least call these 23.9 hour rotations: Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and Sun, day, so there is something of tangible reality involved to partially ground the fictional construct of "weekday".

  2. The point Hawk makes is simple: "The State" is an abstraction consisting of parasites. Parasites cannot engender "rights". However, 90% or more of the uninformed serfs think they can. So, "laws" have the illusion of being a good thing to a large segment of the unwashed masses, who cheerfully allow themselves to be enslaved by the parasites who steal from them (and who steel from you and me).

    "Rights" are the antidote for "wrongs". Stealing, for instance, is "wrong". I have a "right" to defend against theft and attempt to retrieve that which has been stolen from me.

    That principle would work relatively well if all I had to defend myself from was "free-market" thieves. They do not enjoy that 90% approval rating by my neighbors, friends and many family members.

    Parasitic thieves ("government", "the state", "my country", "our-great-nation") present an entirely different set of problems and barriers with which to contend.

    A major solution, as Hawk points out, is to instil an attitude of honesty into the developing minds of young folks. They retain so much more than we adults often credit them with.

    We teach our children early on to never accept candy or rides or other things from strangers. Now it's time to urge them to always Abstain From Beans.


  3. Torsten-
    I understand your "minor quibble", but if you're going to quibble about sweat or Monday mornings you could just as easily quibble about the "reality" of flies, too. After all, they are just a temporary configuration of atoms (and energy), which at their foundation are (probably) just a configuration of vibrating "strings" of spacetime. They only have a reality because of your location in spacetime.

    Sweat is a substance produced by sweat glands, whether or not it beads on the skin. Monday morning is just a convenient way to keep track of days for scheduling purposes.

    Even from a perspective away from Earth the human body follows a circadian rhythm of approximately 24 hours. And I have watched wild animals follow a 7 day cycle without any concept of "week" and without any apparent human influence.

    Back away far enough and everything becomes just as arbitrary as "Monday morning" because your frame of reference is too different. Outside the Universe, what would your opinions or names for "energy" and "matter" matter?

    But, I didn't choose the particular examples of things it would be silly to make illegal. The movie's writer did that.

  4. Awesome Kent, thanks for indulging me. I'm watching the movie on Novamov right now thanks to the Agorists.