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                                   Chapter 6 
   * Some Ethical Concepts Defined  
   * Philosophy Underlies Society  
   * Foundation of Law  
   * Stateolatry  
   * Miscellaneous Ethical Topics  
    * The "Nothing to Hide" argument  
    * Voting  
    * Majority Rule - Democracy  
    * Abortion  
    * Ethics as Black-and-White  
    * Honesty vs. Dishonesty  
    * Crime - The Criminal Mentality  
    * Hate Crimes  
    * Conspiracy  
    * What is a Slave?  
    * Profound Ethical Concerns  
    * Charity - Egalitarianism - Welfarism  
    * Coerced Compassion  
    * Effect of Social Complexity on Statism  
    * The Philosophical Chameleon  
    * Dual Ideologies  
    * Hallmarks of a Conservative  
    * Libertarian Foreign Policy  
    * The Ethical Carnivore  
    * Voluntary vs. Coercive - Trade vs. Theft  
    * Self-Defense  
    * Preemptive Force  
    * Rules vs. Principles  
    * Polygamy vs. Monogamy  
    * Forgiveness  

   Thoreau might have written only yesterday about our government today. 
What makes his commentary so timeless in its application is that he saw 
beneath the superficial manifestations of government to its underlying 
principles of operation. 
   What is important is to define the condition toward which the human 
community should be advancing, to set the social goals toward which the men 
and women of good will should strive, to identify the general relationships 
that should exist between human beings, to produce a schematic for civilized 
life, a set of instructions. This is the intent of my writings on Ethics. 

   * Some Ethical Concepts Defined 

   term:                  genus:                differentia: 

   ethics             human behavior           interpersonal 
   politics           human behavior           the organization of society 
   libertarianism     political principle      voluntary 
   statism            political principle      coercive 
   anarchy            political structure      voluntary 
   government         political structure      coercive 

   Ethics is the study of interpersonal human behavior. There are several 
such forms of behavior: sexual, economic, and political, to name a few. In 
each of these behaviors an interaction occurs between two or more people. In 
sexual behavior, for example, the interaction involves erotic stimulation. 
In economic behavior the interaction involves material wealth. And in 
political behavior the interaction involves human liberty. In each case 
there are two fundamental manners in which the interaction can transpire: 
coercively or voluntarily. In sex I would identify these as rape vs. 
consensual sex. In economics I would identify them as theft vs. trade. And 
in politics I would identify them as statism vs. libertarianism. 
   Libertarianism is the statement of a political principle. As John Hospers 
described it: 
   "...a philosophy of personal liberty--the liberty of each person to live 
according to his own choices, provided that he does not attempt to coerce 
others and thus prevent them from living according to their choices. 
Libertarians hold this to be an inalienable right of man; thus, 
libertarianism represents a total commitment to the concept of individual 
   Libertarianism, as a political philosophy, is concerned with the 
appropriate use of force. It asks one question: Under what conditions is the 
use of force justified? And it gives one answer: Only in response to 
   The opposite of libertarianism is statism, the principle that it is 
proper for a selected subgroup of the community to coerce the behavior of 
the others. 
   Anarchy is a narrower term, contained within the context of 
libertarianism, and referring to the social institution by means of which 
the principle of libertarianism would be implemented. 
   Government is the social institution by means of which the principle of 
statism is implemented. In practice throughout history, the fundamental 
distinguishing characteristic of government has been that it is an 
institution comprised of the strongest gang of aggressors in a particular 
area at a particular time. Government is not itself a principle but is the 
institutionalization of an ethical principle. A gang of bandits becomes a 
government when it establishes a social institution for the purpose of 
implementing its principle of coercion. 
   Consider that when people live together in a society, that is, a group in 
which interactions can take place among all the members, there must be 
institutionalized a set of ethical standards of behavior designed to inhibit 
actions which would result in the violation of freedom. This is the 
ostensible (but NOT historical) purpose of a legal system. 
   A society can have either non-aggression or coercion as its standard of 
behavior. In accordance with the first (libertarian) alternative, the social 
institution (legal system) for implementing that standard of behavior will 
be an anarchy. On the other hand, if coercion is the standard of behavior 
then a government will be the implementing institution. 
   An anarchic society is not a Utopia in which the inititation of violence 
is impossible. Rather, it is a society which does not institutionalize the 
initiation of force and in which there are means for dealing with aggression 
justly when it does occur. The absence of government does not mean the 
absence of violence. It simply means the absence of an official, legal, 
institutional tool for its imposition. 
   A statist society is one in which aggression is institutionalized. 

   * Philosophy Underlies Society 
   Philosophical principles are food for the mind in just the same sense 
that there is food for the body. It is not necessary that you eat poison to 
be sick--it suffices merely that you fail to eat the proper food. For 
example, you will suffer if you fail to eat vitamin C. In just the same way, 
an individual person--or a social organization--will suffer not only if it 
implements wicked philosophical principles, but also if it simply fails to 
implement proper philosophical principles. 
   In the case of an individual, that failure will be manifest when a person 
acts on the basis of his principles. To the extent that the principles do 
not correspond to reality, the actions he takes will fail to achieve 
beneficial values. Thus it is that a philosophical failure will have 
destructive consequences to individual existence. 
   In the case of a society, the danger ensues from the fact that there will 
always be individuals whose personal beliefs lead them to perform actions 
which violate rights. Wicked people are drawn toward the state because the 
state is able to protect them from the costs of their choices and save them 
the expense (or potential danger) of implementing their wickedness. Many 
individuals would behave wickedly if they could. However, the institutional 
arrangements within which they live their lives determine whether or not 
such abuses can actually be carried out. If social institutions fail to 
accomodate this fact, the actions of the wicked individuals will be 
detrimental to the society. Further, the deliberate institutionalization of 
rights-violating behavior (e.g., government) is akin to the dietary failure 
of actually eating poison. Thus it is that a philosophical failure will have 
destructive consequences to social existence. 
   Society doesn't function because government intervenes occasionally to 
resolve disputes. Rather, the vast majority of people depend on continuing 
relationships wherein it's customary to keep one's word, treat others with 
respect, and comply with mutually beneficial norms. These privately-
developed norms are the glue which holds society together, by and large in 
spite of the interference of government. 
   Here are examples of two different norms, each of which produces a 
completely different type of ethical behavior, depending on the acceptance 
or rejection of government interference in an interpersonal relationship. 
They show that your ethics depends, in large part, simply on what you have 
been brought up to believe. 
   Consider a man and a woman who have lived together in a state of intimacy 
for 20 years. At the end of that time, they decide that the best thing for 
them to do would be to go their separate ways and each live independently of 
the other. So what happens? Each hires a lawyer, goes to court, and attempts 
to induce the government to use its coercive power against the other. This 
sort of divorce occurs so frequently that it is considered a natural 
process--to be expected--even inevitable. But in fact there is nothing 
natural, expectable, or inevitable about this conflict. It is simply the 
result of a mistaken cultural norm which could easily be corrected by a 
fundamental alteration in the individuals' perspective on government. 
   Consider a man and a woman who have lived together in a state of intimacy 
for 20 years. At the end of that time, they decide that the best thing for 
them to do would be to go their separate ways and each live independently of 
the other. In this case, it would be unthinkable for them to go through the 
above described legal process. Why unthinkable? Well, don't you see, they 
are not husband and wife, but father and daughter (or mother and son). 
   These scenarios show that people DO know how to live together without 
government. (They also illustrate the contention that many of society's 
problems would simply vanish within a libertarian context.) But people just 
don't or can't think about how to extend or generalize that knowledge beyond 
specific relationships. Their situation is just as much a state of mind as 
it is an imposed political condition. People CAN live peaceful, productive, 
and cooperative lives--once they cease to regard government as an acceptable 
arbiter of their interpersonal relationships. The Hutterite sect of 
Christianity, which has existed for over 400 years, has never experienced an 
act of murder by one of its members. 

   Many people consider philosophy to be very largely an affair of acquiring 
and then displaying certain clever techniques of logico-linguistic 
proficiency. Or they seem to want a philosophy resembling the multiplication 
table or the periodic table of the elements. They want it to be such that 
all philosophy is mechanistically determinate. So that whenever faced with 
an alternative they can simply consult this "look-up" table and thereby be 
relieved of the necessity of intellectual effort. They want an answer to 
every question--even before it has been asked. Maybe what they really DON'T 
want is the recognition of personal responsibility. They want a philosophy 
that takes this burden off their shoulders. Responsibility must come from 
within, as a commitment to one's own values, rather than from the outside, 
as a duty to God, family, or government. Responsibility in action flows from 
a sense of self-ownership, motivation by values rather than duties, and 
independence of mind. The perspective of personal moral responsibility for 
one's actions is being abandoned--it has nearly been culturally lost--and 
the result is what you see in everyday newspaper headlines: mayhem and 
   Richard Adams, in his book WATERSHIP DOWN, made a profoundly important 
identification of a connection between the individual and the group: 
   "The current that flows (among creatures who think of themselves 
primarily as part of a group and only secondarily, if at all, as 
individuals) to fuse them together and impel them into action without 
conscious thought or will." 
   This is the connection that explains why people will do things when in a 
group context that they would never do when acting as individuals: How a man 
will behave in a social context depends very much on his self-image. 
   Branden maintains that the fundamental moral "sin" is the failure to 
choose to think (see THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-ESTEEM, chapter 4). I would draw 
a parallel to this contention in the field of ethics and maintain that the 
fundamental ethical "sin" is the failure to choose to judge. Specifically, 
the failure to make judgments about the ethical propriety of your own 
behavior, and instead to allow yourself to become merely an instrument of 
someone else's judgments. Rand observed that the most contemptible man is 
the man without a purpose. I believe the most evil man is the man who allows 
his purpose to be determined by others. This is the man who implements in 
practice the ideas proposed by men who would otherwise be impotent. Without 
these men, the Hitlers of the world would each have to do his own murders 
personally, and would not be able to act through a social institution 
comprised of people trained to accept any judgment--any choice--governing 
their behavior. Any judgment, that is, except their own. 
   The most widespread excuse for this failure is the claim that "I was only 
doing my job." I call this the "Nuremberg Defense" as it was the most common 
defense offered by the Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg trials. 
Whenever you hear this claim, what you are hearing is an attempt to justify 
ethical viciousness on the grounds that the perpetrator has abandoned his 
own judgment and accepted the propriety of acting according to the judgment 
of someone else. The Nuremberg Defense tries to divorce action from choice 
and thus avoid the assignment of guilt. This "default of judgment" 
phenomenon lies at the base of all government police agencies and all 
military organizations. 
   But this process works only with "group man." It does not work at all 
with the individualist. The individualist is the person who has a higher 
allegiance to his own conscience than to the rules others set down for him. 
The individualist thinks and judges independently, valuing nothing higher 
than the sovereignty of his own intellect. He does not allow others to 
determine his ethos. He is not the sort of chaff that makes good fodder for 
a tyranny. 

   * Foundation of Law 
   Natural Law is the grounding of human values in physical law--the facts 
of reality and of human nature. A physical law is a necessity imposed on an 
entity by the entity's nature. It is a cause which mandates an effect: 
appropriate behavior. The law arises from the interaction of the facts of 
the entity's nature with other facts of reality: those of its environment. 
Thus a natural law is practical--it must always "work"--because it relates 
to things as they really are. This is why, as Rand observed, the moral IS 
the practical. 
   While it is generally recognized that man's physical and even his mental 
nature are subject to the rule of natural law, it is just as generally 
assumed that the area of ethics is completely outside the scope of natural 
law. This assumption is held tacitly, rather than being identifed and 
defended, simply because it CAN'T be rationally defended. It is quite 
foolish to assert that man is a being with a specific nature and therefore 
subject to the rule of principles derived from that nature in all areas 
except his dealings with other men. Do men cease to have a specific nature 
when they come into relationship with other men? Of course not! Natural law 
does indeed apply to human relationships, and it is just as objective, 
universal, and inescapable in this area as in any other. The proof of this 
is that actions have consequences--in the realm of human relations as surely 
as in the realm of human medicine. No matter how cleverly a man schemes, he 
will suffer if he insists on acting in a manner which contradicts the nature 
of human existence. The consequences may not be immediate, and they may not 
be readily apparent, but they are inescapable. 
   The law of supply and demand, and all other market laws, are really 
natural laws, arising from the nature and needs of man. The fact that market 
laws are natural laws explains why a free market works and a controlled-
market doesn't: natural law is always practical--it always "works." 
   "True law is right reason, consonant with nature, diffused among all men, 
constant, eternal." .... Cicero 
   Thus man-made law must be identified rather than invented or decreed, as 
is the case with government legislation. Law is necessary for the survival 
and development of individual liberty, but decreed legislation is its 
nemesis. Arbitrary legislation destroys the very certainty that we seek from 
natural law: People can never be certain that the legislation in force today 
will be in force tomorrow. As a result, they are prevented not only from 
freely deciding how to behave but also from foreseeing the legal effects of 
their daily behavior. Legislation also often disrupts established inter-
personal conventions that have hitherto been voluntarily accepted and held 
to by individuals. Even the possibility of nullifying these conventions 
tends to induce people to ignore them, no matter how they may have come into 

   Man's only duty is to respect others' rights and man's only right over 
others is the enforcement of that duty. 
   A free society exists when people recognize, through the implementation 
of natural law, that individuals have the right to own property and to use 
their bodies and minds as each sees fit. Their recognition of this right 
consists in their accepting a duty not to interfere with these free actions 
of individuals. This natural law has the enormous advantage of being the 
only collective rule compatible with individual freedom and autonomy. This 
is the only rational way in which society can cope with the problem posed by 
nonagreement about "The Good." 
   Every bit of human progress has happened for a single, simple reason: the 
elevation of the status of the individual. Each time civilization has 
stumbled into another age that is a little better, a bit more enlightened, 
than the ones before it, it's because people respected other people as 
individuals. When they haven't, those have been the times of cultural 
   One of America's greatest shortcomings is that almost everything nowadays 
is geared against the individual and in favor of the big institutions--big 
corporations, big unions, big banking, big government. So not only does an 
individual have trouble getting ahead and staying there, he often has 
difficulty merely in surviving. And whenever bad things happen--inflation, 
devaluation, depression, shortages, higher taxes, even wars--it isn't so 
much the big institutions which get hurt, it's the individual, every time. 
   More and more, individuals are being deprived of the power of autonomous 
decision, and being allowed only the power of choice among the things 
government permits. The more they depend on government, the more limited 
those choices become. What must be reinstated is the opportunity for the 
individual to make decisions that count. Small wonder that many people in 
big cities seem so despairing: nothing they see indicates any care for what 
the individual thinks or desires. 
   Hitler: "The individual must finally come to realize that his own ego is 
of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the 
position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the 
nation as a whole... that above all the unity of a nation's spirit and will 
are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an 

   * Stateolatry 
   The opposite of libertarianism is statism, the principle that it is 
proper for the community (or a selected subgroup thereof) to compel the 
behavior of its individual members. 
   The most firmly held myth in the world today is that society cannot 
possibly exist without government. This myth is as decisive as belief in God 
was for the people of Medieval European Society. This myth is held so firmly 
and fundamentally by many people that they are entirely unaware even that 
they hold it. 
   The stateolatrist is so devout a statist that he views government as an 
object of almost religious worship. He regards government as being the 
ultimate foundation of morality and ethics, and as an absolute prerequisite 
to civilized human existence. He is unable to conceive that the time could 
ever come when government will fade into an anonymity as deep as that of its 
humblest subjects. He is one manifestation of what Eric Hoffer described as 
a "True Believer." 
   A hallmark of the stateolatrist is the inability to perceive the 
fundamental similarity between government viciousness and criminal 
viciousness. He is not merely a patriot who loves his country, he is so 
overwhelmed by his devotion that he cannot see the vicious reality of that 
which he loves. 
   PATRIOT GAMES by Tom Clancy is a remarkable book. Not for the story 
itself, but for what it shows about the mentality of the author. Never have 
I seen such a blatant display of the stateolatrist syndrome. Clancy, who is 
an excellent writer and storyteller, portrays with great clarity the nature 
of terrorist behavior and the exactly identical nature of government 
behavior, but then distinguishes between them with such a transparent film 
of verbal gloss that in many places I laughed out loud with amazement. 
Clancy's writing is an unparalleled example of a devout statist who is 
totally self-blinded to the fundamental identicality of terrorism and 
   In describing terrorists, one of Clancy's characters remarks: 
   "They don't relate to the people around them as being real people. They 
see them as objects, and since they're only objects, whatever happens to 
them is not important. Once I met a man who killed four people and didn't 
bat an eye; but he cried like a baby when we told him his cat died. People 
like that don't even understand why they get sent to prison; they really 
don't understand. Those are the scary ones." 
   Clancy would be appalled at the idea that this same description could be 
applied to the FBI and the BATF "terrorists" guilty of the Waco massacre. 
   For another good illustration of this syndrome see Heinlein's CITIZEN OF 
THE GALAXY, pg 180. Here you can see a character to whom government is so 
unquestionably pervasive that he describes human culture without reference 
to it, just as you might describe society without reference to the air we 
   Everyone is so immersed in the context of statism that no one really 
knows the other alternative. Even though the peoples of the former Soviet 
Union might WANT to establish free markets, they simply do not know what 
they are. Most people do not realize they could even HAVE any control over 
their own economic situation. Because their life is so wrapped up in 
bureaucracy and law, no one has any idea that government could be 
circumvented. So long as people cannot perceive alternatives for comparison 
they will never even become aware that they are oppressed. They will not 
only lack any impulse to rebel, they will lack even the power of grasping 
that the world could be other than what it is. As Orwell observed: "You will 
lose the ability to think certain ideas, and then you will be totally 
incapable of ever trying to act on those ideas." 
   The only way out of this statist situation is for people someday to 
realize that governments are NOT necessary for civilization--that in fact 
governments are an impediment to civilization. When the day comes that 
enough people are disillusioned with government, government will simply 
cease to exist. It will go the way of Alchemy, Phrenology, the Flat Earth, 
and other similar errors that were eventually discarded as being useless. 
This is why I do not think anarchism to be utopian. Today it is only a 
dream, a dream that will not soon come true, but if the idea is preserved it 
will be used in the future. 
   Consider this: all government is founded upon Lies. But a lie will not 
fit a fact. It will only fit another lie derived for the purpose. Therefore 
the life of a lie, and of government, is simply a question of time. Nothing 
but truth is immortal: 99.9 percent of all the laws ever passed by 
governments have vanished from the society of mankind. But Aristotle's laws 
of logic, Archimedes' laws of buoyancy, and Euclid's laws of geometry 
persevere immutably. 

   * Miscellaneous Ethical Topics 

   * The "Nothing to Hide" argument 

   When proposing an augmentation of government power, especially an 
increase in the government's intrusions into personal lives, statist-minded 
people frequently use the argument: 
   "There is nothing to be concerned about, as long as you have nothing to 
   But everyone has something to hide - as long as the government has the 
power to make victimless crime laws. Such laws can affect EVERY individual's 
personal life, past, present and future. Once they outlawed whiskey, then 
they legalized it again and outlawed gold. Then they legalized that and 
outlawed marijuana. Next week it may be the cheese police that we all must 
fear, when the Department of Homeland Security outlaws Swiss Cheese. 
Potentially everyone has something to hide! It may be anal sex in Georgia, 
medical marijuana use in Oregon, or a gay/lesbian marriage anywhere in the 
country. NO ONE is safe from victimless-crime laws. No one. 
   The list of things that have been turned on and/or turned off legally 
(sometimes repeatedly) in various places throughout the history of the USA 
is too long to enumerate here. EVERYONE has something to hide! 
       Pinball machines 
       Gambling in any of its forms 
       Sexual activities 
       Mail delivery 
       Marriage relationships 
       Economic interactions of any kind 
       Various food additives 
       Vacations in Cuba 
       Various medical drugs 
   Please don't fault me for failing to list your favorite example - I just 
don't have space for them all! As I note in Chapter 7, there are LOTS of 
them!    See reference 

   * Voting 

   Voting is an indicator of personal intellectual and moral inadequacy: 
anyone whose memory is strong enough to recall the claims made during past 
elections--and what was subsequently done by the winning candidates--will 
realize full well the fraudulence and futility of electoral politics. 
   By voting, you advocated an undertaking you didn't fully understand. You 
were a participant in an activity you failed to supervise. You did not check 
on the behavior of a man whom you knew from experience to be a liar, and you 
permitted that man to screw around with the most dangerous technology in 
human history. I'd say you shirked your responsibility. 

   There is a conflict in voting which is not found in the marketplace. 
Market choices conflict only in the sense that buying a given good leaves 
you LESS money (not NO money) for the purchase of other goods. While you can 
buy some pretzels and some pizza, you can't vote for some Bush and some 
Clinton. In a market, the individual is never placed in the position of 
being a dissenting (and powerless) minority. In America, voting is an all-
or-nothing proposition: you either win all or you lose all. If you can get 
51% of the vote, you get 100% of the power. No matter whether an office is 
filled by an 80% voter turnout or by a 15% voter turnout, the office holder 
has the full power of the office. If you are on the losing side--the 
minority--you get nothing. The alternative presented to the voter is 
absolutely exclusive: the selection of one TOTALLY precludes the other. 
   Electoral politics is the opportunity to choose among rulers none of whom 
you want, and the obligation to accept the ones you end up with. 

   Participation in electoral politics serves to legitimize the entire 
political process and the existence of government. Voting cannot do 
otherwise than reaffirm the government's supposed legitimacy. If people did 
not vote, the democratic theory of government would lose its legitimacy and 
politicians would have to justify their rule on the basis of something other 
than the alleged consent of the governed. This, hopefully, would make the 
true nature of the State more obvious to the governed. And such a revelation 
might have the potential to motivate people to challenge or evade government 

   To commit a crime by proxy is to have someone else impose your will for 
you. The most convenient and frequent manner of committing acts of harm by 
proxy is to use government to commit the crimes you want done. All you have 
to do is vote for whichever criminal promises to use force in the way you 
wish. The very act of voting is an attempt on the part of voters to delegate 
to another person a power that they could not justly possess themselves. 
   When you vote you participate in the selection of an officeholder. Thus 
you acquire responsibility for his subsequent behavior--regardless of who 
gains the office. Your participation is your concession that there should 
indeed BE elected officials with the power of coercion. In voting, you give 
your sanction to the institution that enables the officials to coerce. Even 
though you may not approve of the particular officials who attain office, 
you DO approve of the enabling institution. Government is based on coercion, 
but individuals should not have the authority to coerce others, and 
therefore they should not put themselves in a position to delegate such 
authority to third parties, which is the essence of voting. Every time you 
step into a voting booth you license a potential killer or thief. 
   Some advocates of voting, when faced with the accusation that they are 
perpetrating this evil, will counter with the assertion that your means of 
control over the situation is to exercise your right to vote, and that if 
you don't do so, you have no right to complain about the situation ("If you 
don't vote, don't complain!" is what they say). Consider the nature of the 
demand they are laying on you: your alternative is either to participate in 
the wickedness (by voting) or refuse to participate and thus be condemned to 
submit in silent acquiescence to being victimized by the wickedness. In 
fact, only those who do NOT vote have a legitimate moral right to complain: 
they are the only ones who give no sanction or support to their persecutors. 
   Imagine a neighborhood in which two bullies dominate and intimidate 
everyone. But they're democratic-minded bullies: they allow all (well, 
almost all) the neighbors to vote every four years in an election to 
determine which of the bullies will be empowered to possess a big stick and 
for the next four years to rule the neighborhood, beating and robbing all 
the residents. Now imagine that one poor persecuted resident complains about 
being beaten and robbed, and in response is told: "Well, if you don't like 
bully D then next time express your preference for bully R--but unless you 
choose one of these bullies, you have no right to complain about being 
beaten and robbed." 
   Such a demand for willing self-immolation is an act of inexcuseable 
viciousness--worse even than the beating and robbing! 
   When they tell me "If you don't vote, don't complain!" I simply quote 
Thoreau to them: "I cast my whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but my 
whole influence." If you don't Shrug, don't complain! 

   Voting is a willing participation in your enemy's social institution. It 
is a form of collaboration. When you vote, you are devoting a part of your 
time and energy to making a contribution to the political system. Your 
participation itself constitutes that contribution, regardless of the intent 
of, or specific form of, that participation. Like they say, it doesn't 
matter who you vote for, as long as you vote. Any participation in the 
electoral process can be used by tyrants as evidence of sanction for their 
actions. After all, they won--fair and square--didn't they? 

   If you consider voting to be acceptable, then you must consider it 
acceptable for the winning candidates to hold power in a coercive 
government. The ultimate political issue is that of the Individual vs. the 
State. But the voter, by virtue of his behavior, has already cast his lot 
with the State. Each candidate wants to use the State in a different way--
but each wants to use the State. Obviously, this is a game in which only the 
State can win. By playing the game, you demonstrate your conviction that the 
game should be played. 

   The difference between a bullet and a ballot is that a bullet can be 
precisely aimed at a deserving target whereas a ballot attacks innocent 
third parties who must endure the consequences of the politician who has 
been put into a position of unjust power over their lives. Whoever puts a 
man into a position of unjust power--that is, a position of political power-
-must share responsibility for every aggression he perpetrates thereafter. 

   There is plenty of mass-media crowing about the "high voter turnout" 
(about 55%--that's high?), as an "affirmation of the system," and a "strong 
endorsement of democracy." Nobody mentions the message of the 45% 

   It is often said that refusal to vote means that one is left with no 
voice at all. But that implies that having a voice in the coercive 
proceedings of government is proper and desirable. 

   If voting could have kept this totalitarianism from happening, we 
wouldn't have the police-state we have got, because people are forever 
voting and they've certainly had enough opportunities to stop it or turn it 
aside if that was possible. On the contrary, it is the process of voting 
that has made it possible. 

   Back during the Vietnam era, the protestors used to say "What if they 
gave a war and nobody came?" That represents only a superficial analysis of 
the political system. A more fundamental analysis is represented by the 
question "What if they gave an election and nobody came?" (But then, 
Australia has an answer for that!) 

   John Galt (Part3, Chapter8): 
   "It's the attempt of your betters to beat you on YOUR terms that has 
allowed your kind to get away with it for centuries. Which one of us would 
succeed, if I were to compete with you for control over your musclemen? .... 
I'd perish and what you'd win would be what you've always won in the past: a 
postponement, one more stay of execution, for another year--or month--bought 
at the price of whatever hope and effort might still be squeezed out of the 
best of the human remnants left around you, including me." 

   From Ayn Rand's notes for ATLAS SHRUGGED: 
   By accepting his decisions, which she knows to be wrong, then by helping 
him to carry out bad ideas well, she only helps him to run the railroad 
badly and thus contradicts and defeats her own purpose, which was to run it 
well. She postpones the natural consequences of his bad decisions and thus 
leaves him free and gives him the means to do more damage to the railroad by 
more bad decisions, and worse ones. A bad thing well done is more dangerous 
and disastrous than a bad thing badly done. For example: an efficient 
robbery is worse for the victim than an inefficient one. 

   Thoreau (Civil Disobedience): 
   "All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a 
slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral 
questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters 
is not staked, I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not 
vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it 
to the majority. Its obligation, therefore never exceeds that of expediency. 
Even voting FOR THE RIGHT is DOING nothing for it. It is only expressing to 
men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the 
right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of 
the majority. There is but little virtue in the actions of masses of men.... 
It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the 
eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have 
other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his 
hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it 
practically his support.... Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper 
merely, but your whole influence." 

   A black African guerilla, commenting on voting: 
   "Vote, what is a vote? I don't have a vote in Mozambique. They don't have 
the vote in Zambia or Zimbabwe or Angola or Tanzania. Nobody has the vote in 
Africa, except perhaps once in a man's life to elect a president-for-life 
and a one-party government. Vote? You can't eat a vote. You can't dress in a 
vote, or ride to work on it. For two thousand rand a month and a full belly 
you can have my vote." 
   Only if people are viewed as exclusively political creatures is the view 
correct that democracy is an important criterion of human rights. 

   Voting is like going into a room through one of two doors. Whichever one 
you choose you end up in the same room. 

   A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new 
master once in a term of years. 

   Voting would make ME feel like a swim in the sewer. It would leave me 
with a sense of spiritual pollution. 

   * Majority Rule - Democracy 
   In America, it is claimed, we have "majority rule." Just what do we have 
in fact? 
   To find out, let us analyze a recent presidential election. I chose the 
Johnson-Goldwater election of 1964 because the winner of that election 
received the greatest plurality of votes of any recent (during the past 
half-century) election: Johnson received 61% of the votes cast. But was this 
landslide victory an expression of "majority rule"? I think not. 
   Certainly Johnson can be said to represent a majority of the voters--61% 
is, after all, almost two-thirds. But when you consider the total number of 
eligible voters you discover that Johnson represents only 37% of them (they 
didn't all choose to vote, you see). So Johnson represents only a bit over 
one-third of the voting-age population of the country. That can hardly be 
said to be a majority! 
   But even this is not a fair assessment of the situation. Johnson was, 
after all, not merely president over those who chose to vote for him; not 
merely president over those who were qualified to vote; he was president 
over EVERYBODY! And out of that "everybody" how many actually expressed a 
choice to have Johnson as their president? 22%. Yeah, only about one person 
in five expressed a choice for Johnson. 
   As I said, I deliberately picked this election as an example. Any other 
recent election shows even more strikingly that this so-called "majority" is 
a quite small fraction of the population. 
   The notion of "majority rule" is hogwash! 
   As L. Neil Smith observed: "The REAL majority always loses." 

   Shortly after the 1964 election I realized that the American electoral 
process contains a fundamental flaw. When you vote, the only choice you have 
is to vote FOR one candidate or FOR another candidate. There is no way you 
can vote AGAINST any candidate. There is no "NO" choice on the ballot, only 
"YES" choices. This realization was one of the things that turned me off to 
the idea of politics. You have no doubt heard (many times) of a disgruntled 
voter going to the polls to choose "the lesser of two evils." I realized 
that the lesser of two evils is still an evil, and to express a preference 
for that evil is to don the cloak of moral culpability for his subsequent 
   I observed with interest a peculiar electoral quirk during the 1976 
elections. The LP, after the expenditure of an enormous amount of time, 
energy and money, was able to get "None of the above" placed on the ballot 
in Nevada. Thus there were three options available to the Nevada electorate 
when they went into the polling booth to elect their congressman: the 
Democrat, the Republican, and None of the Above. The outcome of this 
election was very interesting: the Democrat received 23% of the votes, the 
Republican received 29%, and NOTA received a whopping 47%. Can you guess 
what happened? Very simple: the Republican went to Washington as the 
congressman from Nevada. As of 1990, NOTA is still on the ballot in Nevada, 
but the winner of every election is that PERSON who gains the greatest 
number of votes. Votes cast for NOTA are simply wasted. 
   It is intrinsic to the American Constitution that there MUST be a 
government. The people CANNOT choose "No Government"--that is not provided 
for in the Constitution. Sure, the Declaration of Independence observes the 
right of the people to "alter or abolish" their government, but the 
Declaration of Independence is not a legal document. 
   I found it fascinating to watch the first post-Soviet general elections 
in Russia. They had an explicit choice on their ballots: Yes or No for any 
(and all) particular candidates. Such a large number of the Communist 
candidates (who ran unopposed) received a preponderance of "No" votes that 
run-off elections were held a couple weeks later. Those "No" votes were 
indeed counted--unlike the NOTA votes in Nevada. 
   I found it fascinating also to watch the subsequent Hungarian elections, 
which were held with the stipulation that unless at least 51% of the voting 
population did participate, the elections would be invalid. The Hungarian 
government has a more acute sense of "majority" than does the American 
government. In a recent election for the Fremont County, Wyoming, 
government, only 13% of the population voted, and yet the government 
selected by a majority of that tiny percentage does indeed rule Fremont 
County. Some "majority rule" that is!! 

   American voter turnout as percent of voting age population, during 
national off-year elections: 
   1966 47.9 
   1970 47.9 
   1974 38.9 
   1978 45.9 
   1982 48.5 
   1986 46.0 
   1990 45.0 

   Since 1972, when 18-year-olds first went to the polls, their election 
participation has steadily declined. In 1990 less than 19% of the 18 to 20 
age group voted. 

   The majority is invariably wrong. Consider the fact that every major 
breakthrough in man's understanding of the world has always been greeted 
with indifference or opposition by the majority. When private individuals in 
18th century England introduced the "barbaric" practice of inoculating 
against smallpox, the majority, including virtually the entire medical 
profession, was appalled. Advances are made by individuals or by small 
groups of cooperating people who are obliged to overcome majority opinion or 
indifference. The fact that the majority is invariably wrong has interesting 
implications for the concept of democracy--a system which means, in fact, 
State control of the individual and his property in accordance with the 
supposed wishes of the majority. In a word, where majority rules, progress 
stops. The goal of free men should not be majority rule at all, but self-
rule, a society in which not political action but individual action 
   Political freedom for the individual has become merely a charming legend 
from the early years of the Republic when individual liberty--rather than 
the will of the majority--was actually considered the core of democracy. 
Nowadays, acceptance of the legitimacy of individual autonomy is a notion 
wholly intolerable to the democratic ideology. Under a democracy, when a man 
looks into a mirror he sees one ten-millionth of a tyrant, and one whole 
   Democracy has nothing to do with freedom. Simply because democracies, 
like all governments, maintain control by the threat and application of 
violence and imprisonment. 

   Some of the devastating consequences of the Ambiguous Collective fallacy 
can be observed in the phrase "we are the government," where the otherwise 
useful collective term "we" has enabled an ideological camouflage to be 
thrown over the naked exploitative reality of political life. The government 
does not in any meaningful sense "represent" the majority of the people. But 
even if it did, crime is still crime, no matter how many citizens agree to 
the aggression. There is nothing sacrosanct about the majority; a lynch mob, 
too, is the majority in its own domain. 

   * Abortion 
   One of the major debate subjects of the day is the argument about 
abortion. By and large, the discussions are merely diatribes of emotional 
invective, containing very little in the way of reasoned analysis (see the 
remarks below, by George Bush). This subject, perhaps more than any other 
bone of contention, illustrates the importance of contextuality within 
principle. You will VERY rarely see a debate on abortion that is founded on 
a principle being applied within a real-world context. 
   Personally, although I dislike the idea of abortion, I am very strongly 
opposed to the laws which forbid abortions. The consequence (and perhaps the 
intent) of such laws is to enslave women into the condition of motherhood. 
   Libertarians are equally "pro-life" AND "pro-choice." We value equally 
life AND liberty, and we should not permit ourselves to be dislodged from 
this principled foundation by the simpleminded and deceptive slogans of 
those who do not share our values. When I find it necessary to express my 
view on abortion in a nutshell (for someone with a brain the size of a 
peanut), I ask him why, if he advocates mandatory motherhood for all 
pregnant women, he does not also advocate coerced conception for all non-
pregnant women. 

   Here are the best arguments I have found on this subject: 

   The "Human Rights" argument: 
   A fetus is a human being, and is therefore possessed of rights. 
   There are six points of development at which a fetus can be claimed to 
acquire the status of "human being." Any argument from this premise must 
choose and justify one of these points: 
   1. Fertilization 
   2. Implantation in the uterine wall 
   3. Brain-wave activity 
   4. Quickening (when the woman becomes aware of the fetus' movement) 
   5. Viability (when the fetus can be withdrawn and survive) 
   6. Birth 
   To put the issue in perspective, consider these extremes: on one hand, 
the advocacy of euthanasia for unwanted infants, retardates, senile elderly 
and other "defective" people, and on the other hand, the Roman Catholic 
Church, which condemns even contraception as a sin. Any point between these 
extremes selected as a threshhold of rights possession is vulnerable to this 
dilemma: how can we be confident that a given act is ethically proper one 
second before the threshhold, yet murder one second later? Can we actually 
measure that point with sufficient precision to make such a judgment?  Any 
changes which are a matter of degree rather than of kind are inadequate for 
a legal theory which requires a definable point of enforcement. 

   The "Personhood" argument: 
   Whether or not the fetus is a human being, it is not a "person" i.e., is 
not possessed of the complex of psychological characteristics that 
distinguish any one human being from all others--in short, the fetus, 
although a human being, does not yet have a soul. 
   Aquinas, rejecting the notion of a "fertilized-egg equals person" 
equivalence, observed that "the body alone is begotten by sexual 
procreation, and that after the formation of the body the soul is created 
and infused." 
   Rand viewed "selfhood" far more broadly than mere possession of a 
physical life. She saw selfhood in the sense of personhood, and human rights 
as not rights of a mindless body, arising from physical processes alone, but 
rights of selfhood, or of personality. The realm of ethics does not apply to 
entities which do not possess a human level of consciousness--hence, neither 
do rights. That's why Rand regarded the mother, not the fetus, as possessing 
rights: only the mother is truly, fully human (i.e., a "self"). 

   The "Potentiality" argument: 
   Let us not confuse a potentiality with an actuality. The most you can say 
about a fetus is that it is a potential human being. What exists at the 
moment of conception, and for some time thereafter, is not a human being, 
and so destroying it is not murder. If we forbid a woman an abortion, we are 
sacrificing the actual--the adult woman--for the sake of the potential--the 

   The "Supersession" argument: 
   The rights of the woman supersede any rights possessed by the fetus. Does 
not a woman have a primary right to her own life? The right to determine the 
circumstances of her own body? 

   The "Parasite" argument: 
   Even if the fetus is a human being, it is a parasite and therefore does 
not possess human rights. What human has the right to remain, unbidden, as 
an unwanted parasite within some other human being's body? The fetus does 
not have any right to be fed and nourished, because such a right would make 
the woman its slave, and nobody has the right to force another person to be 
his slave. Since the only means of refusal is to expel the fetus, what the 
woman is doing in an abortion is causing an unwanted parasite within her 
body to be ejected from it. 
   This argument could be extended to include euthanasia for seriously ill 
adults and dependent elderly people, as well as all those whose continued 
existence requires material support provided by other people. 
   This argument is sometimes countered with the assertion that parasitism 
is a perfectly natural phenomenon (Mankind is itself a parasite upon the 
earth) and therefore parasites do indeed have rights--the fetus has as much 
right inside its mother as does man on mother earth. Both are in their 
natural habitat. 

   The "Infanticide" argument: 
   A live, born child cannot in principle be distinguished from a viable 
late-term fetus; they both have an unconditional need for material support. 
Therefore, if abortion is acceptable, so also must be infanticide. 

   The "Biological Component" argument: 
   An essential characteristic of an individual is that it be a discrete 
entity, a thing in and of itself. Until the point of birth, however, the 
fetus is not a separate entity; it is a biological component of the pregnant 
woman. As long as the fetus is physically within the woman's body, nourished 
by the food she eats, sustained by the air she breathes, dependent upon her 
circulatory and respiratory systems, it does not possess individual rights 
because it is not an individual. It is part of the woman's body and thus 
subject to her discretion. Only at birth does the fetus become biologically 
autonomous and a self-owner with full individual rights. Even though it 
cannot yet survive without assistance, this does not affect its biological 
independence; it has simply the social dependence that any helpless 
individual experiences. 

   The "Contractual Obligation" argument:   
   Conception and pregnancy are foreseeable consequences of even careful 
sex. By willfully causing a fetus to exist, parents implicitly recognize its 
need for support; it's a package deal. When parents mutually enable their 
sperm and ova to join, the parents are not enslaved--they have volunteered. 
   And its rebuff, the "Choiceless" argument: 
   How is it that the fetus, which is an entity incapable of making choices, 
can be said to be a participant in any contract? 
   But the issue of contract is irrelevant. The protection of rights is 
independent of contract. I do not have to contract with my neighbors not to 
kill me or steal from me; my body and property are mine by right. Contract 
enters the picture only when I desire something to which I have no right. 
Through contract, I acquire a negotiated claim on another person. If 
individual rights are possessed by the fetus, then a contract is superfluous 
to the protection of those rights. If the fetus does not possess individual 
rights, then no contract is possible since a contract is a voluntary 
agreement between two individuals. 

   The "Positive Obligation" argument: 
   The woman placed the fetus in the condition it is in now. It is her 
responsibility to get the fetus safely through it. Each of us ought to be 
allowed to reach an age where we get to make our own choices. 
   However, any "right" to reach such an age imposes a positive obligation 
on someone else to bear the cost. One acquires such a responsibility in one 
of only two ways: via contract, or via tort. But both of these concepts 
imply relationships only among rights-bearing entities. 

   The "Emergency Need" argument: 
   Suppose a person becomes comatose in the home of another and dies as a 
result of being forcibly removed therefrom. What if the owner could have 
saved the comatose person's life by waiting nine minutes for an ambulance? 
Nine months? What if she could have done this only at significant 
uncompensated cost to herself? Risk to her health? Her life? 
   The Objectivist response: Nothing justifies making YOU a slave to MY 
medical needs. 

   Other considerations: 

   There is no principled way in which rape can justify an abortion. If it 
does, what about artificial insemination? Or accident, such as a broken 

   When couples who both carry the mutation for Tay-Sachs disease decide to 
have children, they typically elect to have prenatal testing. If a fetus has 
the disease, they usually abort it rather than give birth to a child who 
would succumb within five years to a slow and horribly painful death. 
Because it is always so uniformly hideous in its progression, extremely few 
people believe a child afflicted with Tay-Sachs should be brought into the 

   Scientific American, April 1996, contains an essay on frozen embryos. 
   "Test-tube" embryos, in the two- to eight-cell stage of development, are 
placed in liquid nitrogen and kept in suspended animation until needed by 
couples for subsequent attempts at in vitro fertilization. As the number of 
frozen embryos grows (there are about a million worldwide) it has become 
obvious that a sizable number of them will never be required. The essay 
makes three references to cryopreservation being "fraught with ethical and 
philosophical complications" but makes no specific mention of just what 
these complications might be. (See this chapter's section on * Profound 
Ethical Concerns) 
   See reference 

   The view of the Religious Right, as expressed by George Bush (LA TIMES, 
12/12/88): "Well, it (may) appear to be a double standard to some, but I, 
that's my position, and it's, we don't have the time to philosophically 
discuss it here, but... we're going to opt on the side of life, and that is, 
that is the, that really is the underlying part of this for me. You know, I 
mentioned, and with, really from the heart, this concept of going across the 
river to this little church and watching one of our children, adopted kid, 
be baptized. And that made for me, and it was very emotional for me. It 
helped me in reaching a very personal view of this question. And I don't 

   Also to be considered are the inevitable medical consequences of anti-
abortion laws, since within the legal context created by such laws many 
abortionists are dangerous and disreputable practitioners resorted to by 
desperate people. 
   As many as 60 million abortions are performed annually throughout the 
world, at least 50% of them clandestinely in the 100 or so countries where 
the procedure is illegal. Unsafe abortions account for between 105 and 168 
maternal deaths for every 100K births in the Thirld World countries. This 
constitutes between 25% and 40% of all maternal mortality. In some countries 
the complications of unsafe abortions cause the majority of maternal deaths, 
and in a few countries they are the leading cause of death for women of 
reproductive age. In general, the maternal death rate is ten times higher in 
countries where abortion is illegal. 
   Every year, in six of the Latin American countries where the practice is 
illegal, about 2.8 million women have abortions and half a million are 
hospitalized for related complications. 
   In the USA, the abortion rate for Catholic women is 29% higher than that 
for Protestant women. A study in Boston and Long Island showed that 66% of 
women having their first abortions are young, single Catholics opting for 
abortions rather than sinning repeatedly by using birth control. 70% of 
those who have a second abortion are Catholic. 
   Each year in the USA, out of a total of approximately 6.4 million 
pregnant women, 1.6 million choose to have an abortion. About half of all 
women in the USA will choose to have an abortion at some time in their life. 

   The Great Abortionist: 
   One out of every three human pregnancies ends in a miscarriage (at or 
before the blastocyst stage, therefore mostly unknown to the woman) caused 
by genetic defects. If God really frowns on abortion, why does He perform so 
many Himself? 

   Even people who claim to be libertarian hold opposite opinions on this
subject. There are some very well-presented arguments at these two websites: 
   Doris Gordon against 
   Wendy McElroy for 
   For Ayn Rand's view see: 
      The Objectivist Newsletter Feb 1969 
      The Objectivist Forum Jun 1981 

   * Ethics as Black-and-White 
   Moral principles are requirements of man's survival proved by reference 
to the most fundamental aspects of his existence and to the deepest premises 
of philosophy. They are life-or-death absolutes. But while the standard and 
the principles of ethics (and morality) are black-and-white, as black-and-
white as are the laws of nature, the personal judgments, choices and actions 
through which an individual implements those abstract principles are matters 
of degree.  

   * Honesty vs. Dishonesty 
   Truth is sometimes so dangerous as to need a bodyguard of lies. 
   There are times when a lie is not only ethically justifiable but is 
actually morally obligatory. "What?! What?!" I hear you croak. "Is this guy 
out of his mind?" Well, let me explain. Imagine that you set out to go 
downtown, having in your left pocket $10 and in your right pocket $100. As 
you are trudging along the street a hoodlum snatches you into an alley, 
claps his revolver (a Quickfire Arms Corp. Saturday Night Special) up 
against the side of your pretty little head and wheezes softly into your 
ear: "Allright, Cutie, your money or your life!" So you, trembling in fear 
and terror, reach into the left pocket and produce the ten-spot. "Arrgh!! He 
gasps, wafting into your nostril the stench of cheap Sicilian wine, "Izzis 
alla dough ya got, kid?" I maintain that at this point your answer not only 
COULD morally be "yes," but that it actually SHOULD be "yes" and that if you 
answer "no" you are behaving in an immoral, self-destructive fashion. 
   Under ordinary circumstances a lie is an attempt to coerce someone--that 
is, an attempt to separate him (without his consent) from some rightfully 
achieved value. In the context of my little story, the lie is not a 
coercion. Your money is not the hoodlum's rightfully achieved value, and you 
have NO ethical obligation toward him. Your only moral obligation is to 
extricate yourself from the situation in the least self-destructive manner 
possible. Thus we see that a lie can be a perfectly proper act to protect a 
value against an injustice; not a desire to gain a value by faking reality, 
but a fully contextual recognition of the relevant facts of reality. 
   That's why a lie is always legitimate in dealing with tyrants, because HE 
is dealing in coercion, not reason. 
   For the same reasons, there are times when it is justified to kill. There 
are also times when killing is not merely justified, but is obligatory: When 
the people you are killing are about to cause the death of you or your 

   But beware! Dishonesty--for any reason, and with whatever justification--
can have detrimental effects on your mental health. Your true feelings tell 
others what your weaknesses are, and there are always those who will use 
this knowledge against you--and so over the years you might hide them more 
and more, until eventually you have few, if any, true feelings left. 
   Many people lie so much that they scarcely know what the truth is. They 
are comforted by familiar surroundings--in an illusory world where they feel 
more at ease within the substance of a lie than with the truth. And so it 
can come to pass that when they see truth they can't recognize it. 

   * Crime - The Criminal Mentality 
   "If two men had walked down Fifth Avenue in March 1933, and one of them 
had a flask of whiskey in his pocket and the other had a hundred dollars in 
gold coins, the one with the whiskey would have been considered a criminal 
and the one with the gold a law-abiding citizen. If these two men, like Rip 
van Winkle, slept for a year and then walked back up Fifth Avenue, the man 
with the whiskey would have been considered a law-abiding citizen and the 
one with the gold coins a criminal." 
   Here is the explanation: In June, 1933, a law was passed outlawing the 
possession of gold, then in December, 1933, the Prohibition law was 
repealed. Thus, between early 1933 and early 1934, the legal status of each 
man was reversed. 
   This little story illustrates the fact that "crime," if defined by 
reference to  government laws, is a non-sensical concept. The concept has 
meaning only if it is defined by reference to a fundamental ethical 
   And it is useful in understanding "psychological" analyses of crime. Any 
definition of "crime" that is founded within the legal positivist context 
cannot ascribe a psychological basis for crime, because nothing about the 
psychology of either of the two men changed during the course of their nap. 
If the definition of crime includes victimless activities, then the analysis 
must account for the Rip van Winkle phenomenon. If the definition does NOT 
include victimless activities, then the analysis must consider as criminals 
those people who enforce victimless crime laws, and it will have to 
recognize the criminal nature of much of government behavior: tax collectors 
as thieves--business licenses as extortion. 
   Either the distinction between crime and non-crime is one of arbitrary 
edict (in which case it does not exist in principle) or sociologists are 
looking at the wrong people, because they do not examine the government's 
acts of coercion and they ignore the fact that half the prison population 
are merely lawbreakers, not criminals. 

   * Hate Crimes 
   A function of a system of justice should be to protect potential victims. 
Here the idea of "group hate" is relevant. Someone who hates and kills a 
cheating lover or an abusive spouse does not necessarily have a motive for 
killing anyone else. In contrast, someone who kills a homosexual because he 
hates all homosexuals has a proven motive to kill and kill again. The proper 
function of the concept of "hate crimes" is to guide the courts in 
reconciling justice for the criminal with safety for potential victims. 

   * Conspiracy 
   I regard all conspiracy theories with a great deal of skepticism. Keep in 
mind that the president of the USA (Richard Nixon), with all the power 
available to him, could not cover up a simple second-story burglary. Is it 
really likely that any of the so-called "conspirators" are intelligent 
enough and/or competent enough to perpetuate the globe-girdling conspiracies 
and cover-ups that are attributed to them? I think not. 

   If a field of study is dominated by the premise of collectivism--the 
premise that the group (rather than the individual) is the basic unit of 
analysis--then researchers in that field will tend to perceive conspiracy 
where in fact there exist only individuals behaving in similar manners. 
There is no conspiracy--it is merely the case that the fundamental beliefs 
of the actors are similar, therefore their attitudes and behavior are 
similar. (Thus you won't find a priest in an abortion clinic, or an atheist 
in a convent.) 
   The fact that many individuals with similar interests tend to advocate 
roughly the same solutions to the same problems should be neither surprising 
nor puzzling. Each is merely advocating what he sees to be obvious remedies 
to the problems he perceives. There is no deliberate collusion involved in 
this behavior. It seems like a conspiracy simply because many people acting 
in accord with the same principle will all behave in a similar manner. But 
it's no more a conspiracy than is a traffic jam: it's merely several people 
each acting independently while striving to achieve the same goal. 
   It is a mistake to assume from this similarity of behavior that there 
exists a collusion. The cooperation results not from a conspiracy of men, 
but from a similarity of basic premises--and the power directing it is 
logic: if, when faced with a practical problem, some men point to a course 
of action logically necessitated by certain basic premises, those who share 
the premises will rush to follow that course of action. 
   Practical problems merely confront man with the need for action; they do 
not determine what the action will be. It is the predominant philosophy (of 
a man or of a country) that determines the action. For example: Hunger will 
impel a man to take some kind of action--but it will not dictate precisely 
what that action should be. The man's knowledge and ideas will be the 
governing factors in what he chooses to eat. Another example: Loneliness 
doesn't tell you who you need, only that someone is missing from your life. 
It is up to you to define the emptiness of your soul, and make an 
appropriate choice of companions. 
   America in the last quarter of the eighteenth century was confronted with 
the need for social change. The most influential set of ideas in the minds 
of the men who implemented change was the philosophy of John Locke. America 
was ideologically ripe for Jefferson. The intellectual groundwork had been 
prepared by half a century of education in Lockean philosophy. 
   On the other hand, although the post-WorldWar1 situation in Germany 
necessitated some kind of major changes in the country's institutions, it 
was the philosophy of Immanuel Kant that had prevailed. Thus Germany was 
ideologically ripe for Hitler. The intellectual groundwork had been prepared 
by a century of education in Kantian philosophy. 
   If one knows the principles behind a given phenomenon, one can predict 
the direction it will take and its ultimate results. If you know a man's 
convictions, you can predict his actions. If you understand the dominant 
philosophy of a society, you can predict its course. 
   Faulty basic premises, if left unchecked, can force the logically 
rigorous--especially the logically rigorous--down destructive paths of 
thought and behavior. 
   For the great majority of men the influence of philosophy is indirect and 
unrecognized. But that influence is real. 

   It is important to remember that social institutions do not have goals. 
Only individual human beings have goals; political and cultural institutions 
merely provide a framework enabling the participating individuals to pursue 
their commonly-held goals. Institutions provide the incentives, 
opportunities and constraints that guide the behavior of goal-seeking 
individuals, but the institutions do not possess goals of their own. 

   * What is a Slave? 
   I see two fundamental distinguishing characteristics of a slave: 
   1. He is compelled to do whatever his master commands him to do. 
   2. He is forbidden to do anything without having permission, explicit or 
implicit, from his master. 
   I will leave it as an exercise for you to determine to what extent these 
two characteristics describe your own situation. Keep this in mind: Just as 
the truly damned are those who are happy in hell, so the truly enslaved are 
those who believe their enslavement is freedom. 

   * Profound Ethical Concerns 
   See reference 
   You will frequently hear people claim that certain issues are fraught 
with "profound ethical concerns." Issues such as research using fetal 
tissue, DNA manipulation, organ transplants, etc. Watch carefully and you 
will see that either they don't specify those concerns, or the concerns they 
do name are simply irrelevant. 
   Here is an example of a rare instance wherein a proponent of such 
"profound ethical concerns" actually made a sensible statement of the 
concerns he imagined:

   Gene therapy raises profound ethical concerns. For instance: 
   1. Should therapy be applied simply to improve one's offspring, not only 
to prevent an inherited disease? 
   [He implies that the elimination of an evil, "an inherited disease," is 
perhaps acceptable, but the implementation of a positive good, "to improve 
one's offspring," is of questionable propriety. Why does he object to a 
   2. Who would be empowered to decide? 
   [Here he clearly implies that someone is to have the authority ensuing 
from "empowerment." Why must such an authority exist? Who, after all, is 
"empowered" to decide which people shall be permitted to wear shoes?] 
   3. Is society willing to risk introducing changes into the gene pool that 
may ultimately prove detrimental to the species? 
   [In fact, Yes. Not only does the willingness exist, but the perpetuation 
of such detrimental genes is actually legally compelled by implementation of 
medical techniques that preserve the existence of severely retarded people.] 
   4. Do we have the right to tamper with human evolution?  
   [Everyone who ever selects his/her spouse on the basis of "He would make 
a good father" or "She would make a good mother" is "tampering" with human 
evolution. Why does he object to this selectivity?] 

   Here is another example: 
   As artificial livers emerge into common medical use, they raise difficult 
ethical issues. 
   1. Is it ethical to deny a liver to someone who has cirrhosis in order to 
transplant it into a hepatitis victim who would have died but for an 
artificial liver device? After all, the hepatitis victim may recover 
spontaneously, whereas the cirrhotic patient almost certainly will not. 
   2. Is it ethical to refuse to put a dying patient on an artificial liver 
when there is a good chance that she will revive only enough to require a 
new liver? 
   [What this ethicist ignores is the fact that the liver in each case is a 
piece of property and the resolution of these "difficult ethical issues" can 
be accomplished by the simple application of property rights.] 

   These are by far the most comprehensive statements of the "profound 
ethical concerns" syndrome I have ever seen. Usually no precise ethical 
applications are specified at all. I surmise that the people who make these 
assertions have strongly-felt objections to the action under consideration, 
but they have no rational arguments to support their feelings, so the only 
attack they can make is an unsubstantiated one. Often, their hand-wringing 
over such matters as genetic engineering and other new technologies is the 
result of ignorance about the basic scientific principles underlying the new 
techniques. The problem might be that, while simple things like bone-setting 
are understood by the ethicists, the science underlying genetic engineering 
is not. Thus, in typical fear of the unknown, a Luddite hue and cry against 
the new technology is raised. 
   Un-anchored as their precepts are to anything real or rational, those 
precepts can and do undergo vast changes depending on political conditions, 
self-interest, etc. Viz. these comments from a symposium on medical ethics: 
   "A discussion of ethical principles in biomedical research that ignores 
the socioeconomic heterogeneity of society is not ethical and not worth 
   "The ethics of health management differ within and between industrialized 
and developing countries because of their different economic capabilities." 
   "There were charges of ethical imperialism that ignored the realities of 
economic conditions in the developing world." 
   "When applied to specific circumstances, these ethical guidelines may 
conflict with one another." 

   * Charity - Egalitarianism - Welfarism 
   Ayn Rand: "Millions are given each year to charities which help crippled 
children, old people, blind people and all kinds of disabled unfortunates; 
which is a perfectly worthy cause. But, on the other hand, has anyone given 
much thought to the crying, desperate need of helping the exact opposite 
type of human beings--the able, the fit, the talented and unusual ones 
crushed by purely material circumstances? That idea of hardships being good 
for character and of a talent always being able to break through is an old 
fallacy. A talented person has to eat as much as a misfit. A talented person 
needs sympathy, understanding and intelligent guidance MORE than a misfit. 
And the question arises: who is more worthy of help--the subnormal or the 
above-normal? Who is more valuable to humanity? Which of the two types is 
more valuable to himself? Which of the two suffers more acutely: the misfit, 
who doesn't know what he is missing, or the talented one who knows it only 
too well? I have no quarrel with those who help the disabled. But if only 
one tenth of the money given to help them were given to help potential 
talent--much greater things would be accomplished in the spirit of a much 
higher type of charity. Talent DOES NOT survive all obstacles. In fact, in 
the face of hardships, talent is the first one to perish; the rarest plants 
are usually the most fragile. Are talented people born with tough skins? 
Hardly. In fact, the more talent one possesses the more sensitive one is, as 
a rule. And if there is a more tragic figure than a sensitive, worthwhile 
person facing life without money--I don't know where it can be found." 

   Here is a response to an unwanted plea for charity: 
   Tax bills continue to take more of my time, hard work and earnings each 
year. Because of this, I have less to contribute to the cause of charity. In 
light of this increasing burden of taxation, I have decided to make 
contributions only to those organizations which do not receive any funds 
from government agencies. Since organizations which do receive such funding 
already benefit from my involuntary contributions, I believe that I have 
provided sufficient support to them. If your organization is one which I 
identify as being free of tax dollar dependency, you can look forward to a 
contribution from me in the near future. Otherwise, good wishes and enjoy my 
tax money. 

   In considering which organizations to support, it would be a good idea if 
you contribute not on the basis of NEED, but on the basis of POTENTIAL. Ask 
which organizations have the greatest potential for achieving goals that you 
deem to be of value. 
   In the case of an individual, "If you choose to help a man who suffers, 
do it only on the ground of his virtues, of his fight to recover, or of the 
fact that he suffers unjustly; then your action is a trade, and his virtue 
is the payment for your help."... Ayn Rand 
   There is nothing wrong with an individual doing charity work. But charity 
is not a moral ideal, nor does human life depend on it. Achievement is the 
moral ideal because man's life DOES depend on it. 

   Demands for "social justice" take two different forms, which can be 
called egalitarianism and welfarism. The difference in these two conceptions 
of social justice is the difference between relative and absolute levels of 
well-being. Neither of these conceptions recognizes the distinction between 
equality of opportunity and equality of reward. 

   Egalitarians are concerned with RELATIVE well-being. According to 
egalitarianism, the wealth produced by a society must be distributed 
equally--it is unjust for some people to earn fifteen, or fifty, or a 
hundred times as much income as others, and since laissez-faire permits and 
encourages these disparities in income and wealth, it is therefore unjust. 
The hallmark of egalitarians is the way they use statistics to describe the 
distribution of income. For example, in 1989, the top 20 percent of U.S. 
households on the income scale earned 45 percent of total income, whereas 
the bottom 20 percent earned only 4 percent of total income. The goal of 
egalitarianism is to reduce this disparity; greater equality is always 
regarded as a gain in social justice. Egalitarians have often said that of 
two societies they prefer the one in which wealth is more evenly 
distributed, even if that society's overall standard of living is lower. 
Thus egalitarians tend to favor government measures, such as progressive 
taxation, which aim to redistribute wealth across the entire income scale, 
not merely at the bottom. They also tend to support the nationalization of 
goods such as education and medicine, taking them off the market entirely 
and making them available to everyone more or less equally. 
   The welfarist, on the other hand, has a much more absolutist view of 
social justice. He demands that people have access to a certain absolute 
minimum standard of living. As long as this floor or "safety net" exists, it 
does not matter to the welfarist how much wealth anyone else has, or how 
great the disparities are between rich and poor. Welfarists are primarily 
interested in programs that benefit people who are below a certain level of 
poverty, or who are sick, out of work, or deprived in some other way. 
   To the welfarist, rights are conceived as rights to possess and enjoy 
certain goods, regardless of one's actions; they are rights to have the 
goods provided by others if one cannot provide them oneself. Accordingly, 
welfare rights impose positive obligations on other people. If I have a 
right to food, someone has an obligation to grow it. If I cannot pay for it, 
someone has an obligation to buy it for me... etc. From an ethical 
standpoint, the essence of welfarism is the premise that the need of one 
individual is a claim on other individuals. The claim is an unchosen 
obligation arising from the mere fact of his need. The ethics of welfarism 
does not assert an absolute right to pursue the satisfaction of human needs. 
The "right" asserted is, rather, a conditional one: those who DO succeed in 
creating wealth may do so only on condition that others are allowed to share 
that wealth. The goal is not so much to benefit the needy as to bind the 
able. The implicit assumption is that a creative person's ability and 
initiative are social assets, which may be exercised only on condition that 
they are aimed at the service of others. 
   The egalitarian arrives at the same principle as the welfarist, but by a 
different logical route. The ethical framework of the egalitarian is defined 
by reference to justice rather than rights--by the idea that people are to 
be treated differently only if they differ in some MORALLY (not 
economically) relevant way. The most common position is a presumption in 
favor of equal outcomes, and that any departure from equality must be 
justified by its benefits to other people (as opposed to its benefits to the 
individual who created the departure). But we can see that this is the same 
principle that lies at the basis of welfare rights: the principle that the 
productive individual may enjoy the fruits of his efforts only on condition 
that those efforts benefit other people as well. 
   Both of these social schemes rest on the premise that individual ability 
is a social asset--that the individual must regard himself as a means to the 
ends of others. And here we come to the crux of the matter. By respecting 
the rights of other people, I recognize that they are "ends in themselves," 
and that I may not treat them merely as means to my own satisfaction, in the 
way that I treat inanimate objects. Why then is it not equally moral for me 
to regard myself as an "end in myself"? Why should I not refuse, out of 
respect for my own dignity as a moral being, to regard myself as a means to 
the ends of others? An honorable person does not offer his needs as a claim 
on others; he offers an exchange of value as the basis of any relationship. 
Nor does he accept an unchosen obligation to serve the needs of others. No 
one who values his own life can accept an unchosen, open-ended 
responsibility to be his brother's keeper. The principle of trade is the 
only basis on which humans can deal with each other as independent equals 
rather than as objects of property. The only social constraint a free market 
imposes is the requirement that those who wish the services of others must 
offer value in return; that no one may use the State to forcibly expropriate 
what others have produced, nor claim a right to compel others to serve him 
   "What about someone who is poor, disabled, or otherwise unable to support 
himself?" This is a valid question to ask, as long as it is not the PRIMARY 
question asked about a social system. There is no ground in a rational 
ethics for considering the poor and the sick to be the foundation of 
society, or for regarding their needs as primary. It is in fact self-
defeating to think that the primary goal of a society should be the 
treatment it gives its least productive members. We must remember that the 
needs of the poor and the sick CANNOT be met unless someone chooses to 
produce the means of meeting those needs. Thus the social prerequisites of 
creativity and productivity MUST be accomodated FIRST if charity is to exist 
at all. 

   When Menon, a Hindu, arrived in Delhi in 1947, he discovered that every 
rupee he was carrying had been stolen. He approached an elderly, 
distinguished-looking Sikh, explained his plight and asked for a loan of 15 
rupees to cover his train fare. The Sikh gave him the money. When Menon 
asked for his address so that he could pay it back, the Sikh said, "No. 
Until the day you die, you will always give that sum to any honest man who 
asks your help." Almost 30 years later, just six weeks before his death, a 
beggar came to the Menon family home in Bangalore. Menon sent his daughter 
for his wallet, took out fifteen rupees, and gave it to the man. He was 
still repaying his debt.  

   * Coerced Compassion 
   Consider the vast majority of those who turn to State power to remedy 
distress. Every one of them will say they act purely because of their 
concern and compassion for those on the lower rung of life's ladder. Can 
they not trust their own compassion to express itself? Apparently not, for 
it seems, when they turn to government, they are insisting that they must be 
forced to do that which they claim they already want to do. An absurdity! 
People who want to control other people's lives never want to pay for the 
privilege. What they usually expect is to be paid for the "service" they 
impose upon their victims. What they never recognize is that the individuals 
who are forced by government regulation to submit to their "compassion" are 
the very "public" which is supposed to benefit from the government controls. 
   In any case, if you are going to do good for someone, it really should be 
THEIR idea of good, not yours. In all cases, it should be the other person 
who initiates the interaction--by asserting THEIR perception of their own 

   The other side of this coin is the issue of mandated discrimination. 
   Why was it necessary to have laws to FORCE racists to practice racism? 
After all, the employers, landowners, businessmen, etc., were overwhelmingly 
from the dominant group and were free to segregate and discriminate on their 
own. The answer is that the voluntary structure of economic incentives in a 
free market works against this behavior. As long as SOME producers and 
consumers were free to act spontaneously in the context of a free market, 
there were economic costs for discriminating against minorities, and 
likewise, economic benefits for avoiding discriminatory practices. Only a 
coercive legal system could overcome these costs and benefits. 

   * Effect of Social Complexity on Statism 
   One reason socialism must always fail is that any society large enough to 
be economically and technologically civilized is too large and complex to be 
contained within the minds of any subgroup. The competence of government 
began to decline precipitously after the First World War as society's 
technological complexity began to increase exponentially. It will be the 
final irony of the statist system that, once headless after a catastrophic 
collapse, it will be unable to save itself. The centralized control of all 
aspects of the country will prevent people from asking the questions that 
must be answered before any organized recovery can begin. 

   * The Philosophical Chameleon 
   THE EVENING NEWS by Arthur Hailey (Dell book #20851) contains a very good 
description of the "Stockholm Syndrome." Hailey mentions Patty Hearst as an 
example of that syndrome, and I found it interesting to observe that he 
mentions only the FIRST of her two conversions. I have never seen anyone at 
all refer to her SECOND conversion. That seems to be completely invisible to 
all other students of this phenomenon. 
   I refer to this process as the "Philosophical Chameleon" syndrome. 
   Most people have no firmly-fixed principles of their own but merely 
"adopt" the philosophy of whatever "significant other(s)" are most 
influential in their immediate social environment. I do not fully understand 
why people behave this way, but I have no doubt that what Nathaniel Branden 
described as "social metaphysics" has a great deal to do with it, and that 
it rests ultimately on what Branden identified as the failure to choose to 
   Its occurrence, in a somewhat milder form than that manifested either in 
Stockholm or by Ms. Hearst, is actually quite widespread. The milder form of 
chameleonism (milder, because it does not involve one's fundamental 
philosophical principles but merely his superficial behavior) can be 
observed quite frequently, such as when people do something for no other 
reason than that somebody suggested it without their having noticed the 
suggestion. For example: Observe a line of customers at the counter of a 
fast-food restaurant. If the first one up just asks for "a Whataburger," 
most people behind her will likewise order a generic item from the posted 
menu. But let one individual qualify her order, and say something like: "Oh, 
yeah, could you hold the mustard and give me extra pickles on that 
Whataburger," and all the customers in line behind her will make requests 
for changes in the menu item as well--all without consciously realizing why. 
This may continue until a more strong-minded person comes along and breaks 
the chain of behavior with her own actions. 
   Apparently a large amount of human behavior is carried out with only 
partial involvement of the higher centers of judgment. While this has no 
sinister consequences most of the time, when people "choose" their religion, 
political parties and candidates, beliefs about race, or stands on freedom, 
they are unfortunately very likely to be behaving like a chameleon. Thus you 
will see a man assent to conservative ideas while he is conversing with a 
Republican, and then just a few days later avow quite the opposite liberal 
precepts while in a discussion with a Democrat. But no deliberate deception 
is involved--the man is merely taking on the political "color" of his 
immediate social environment. 
   A study conducted in 1997 showed that U.S. students substantially changed 
their opinions of pieces of music in an attempt to imitate more socially 
admired people. The students revised their ratings of popular compact disc 
recordings after being told that they scored lower than most of their peers 
on an inventory of positive personal attributes. 
   After male interlopers stole control of a monkey troop, they seized and 
killed the infants. Curiously, the infantless mothers soon became sexually 
receptive again. Moreover, the mothers willingly mated with the conquerors, 
grabbing the chance to bear new young. Thus, by eliminating the young, the 
dominant males acquired the opportunity to spread their genes. 
   This phenomenon is portrayed by Shakespeare: In Richard III, soon after 
Richard murders the husband of Lady Anne, he begins to woo her. To his 
amazement, she succumbs. Richard muses, "Was ever woman in this humor woo'd? 
Was ever woman in this humor won?"  Yes. Females in 35 species breed with 
their conquerors - even after their infants have been massacred. 
   The "head game" of one-upmanship is sometimes a form of the Chameleon 
syndrome. The player says, in effect, "Not only am I doing the same thing 
you are, I am doing it better than you!" 
   A chameleon is much more likely to be a fanatic than a strong-minded 
person, simply because he has no other standard of judgment than that of his 
host. The strong-minded person has his own judgment to rely on if he is 
dissatisfied with that of his significant other. 
   You may discover to your dismay that your own friends are sometimes 
different people than you think they are. Some of them are halfway made-up, 
trying to be what they think you'd like them to be. 
   The police have made use of this psychological syndrome for generations, 
in what they call the "good cop/bad cop" interrogation process. But what 
makes a true chameleon difficult to recognize is that usually they are quite 
serious; they are not, like the police, knowingly fraudulent. They really 
have no clearly and firmly defined "self." They literally do take their 
identities from other people. 
   You can see the process deliberately used as a discussion technique: 
   "Well, of course I, like you, am an advocate of individual freedom, 
but...."  I refer to this particular phenomenon as the "ego quoque" lie. 
   The movie "Bridge On The River Kwai" is an excellent portrayal of the 
Chameleon Syndrome. 
   A distinction must be made between Mimicry, which is merely the (usually 
harmless even though thoughtless) imitation of what someone else DOES, and 
Chameleonism, in which you pretend to be (or sometimes actually become) what 
someone else IS (or wants you to be). 
   Pickles on your whataburger are not important, being merely a superficial 
irrelevancy, but when you adopt basic character attributes or fundamental 
philosophical principles, you are taking on another's "self-hood" as a 
replacement for your own. 
   There is a long way from the simple picklemimic to the fundamentally 
amorphous philosophical chameleon, but I believe it is very important to be 
continually aware of and continually on your guard against the pernicious 
aspect of this society which Rand so astutely described as "cultural value-
deprivation." If you do not safeguard and preserve the structure of your own 
character you will wake up one day to find that you have been culturally 
deprived of your most basic value - your soul. 

   (See * Social Metaphysics in the DICT file.) 
   See reference 

   * Dual Ideologies 
   The claim that countries which call themselves capitalist are guilty of 
misdescription reflects the fact that politicians use dual ideologies--those 
that actually guide their actions and those that are used as instruments of 
deception in waging social conflict. The theory of a political system is 
almost always its surface ideology, and it may be a deeply, if not 
necessarily intentionally, deceptive facade. 
   People almost automatically assume that the goal of a political system is 
to advance the welfare of at least a majority of the population. But this is 
because some such goal is almost universally propounded in surface 
ideologies, and, being credulous, they allow themselves to be taken in by 
the surface ideology and never perceive the real motives that actually guide 
the behavior of the State. 
   Much of the government's "crime-prevention" behavior can be explained by 
the idea that the State has forbidden to the individual the practice of 
wrongdoing, not because it desires to abolish wrongdoing, but because the 
State desires to monopolize it. 

   * Hallmarks of a Conservative 
   A hallmark of a conservative is the phrase "too much." If you press him 
until you can get him to identify the core of his social philosophy, you 
will find that it is founded on a statement containing some variation of the 
phrase "too much": He is not fundamentally opposed to slavery, just what he 
perceives to be "too much" slavery. He is not fundamentally opposed to 
government interference in private lives, just "an excessive amount" of 
interference. He is not fundamentally opposed to tyranny, just a level of 
tyranny that is "far beyond" what he judges acceptable. I call this the "too 
much" syndrome, or the "uncalibrated quantification" fallacy. 
   An excellent example is the following quote from FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton 
and Rose Friedman (page 61): 
   "Some restrictions on our freedom are necessary to avoid other, still 
worse, restrictions. However, we have gone far beyond that point." 
   But consider that the distinction between an acceptable level of 
restriction and an unacceptable level is an arbitrary one, because such a 
distinction is based on a mere variation in quantity rather than a 
difference in quality. The "point" the Friedmans refer to is an undefinable 
position. To such people there is no wall between freedom and tyranny, just 
a fuzzy line in their imagination. Such a mind-set inevitably leads to the 
acceptance of tyranny, because to the man who holds it, first one thing 
doesn't seem too wrong, then another thing doesn't seem too wrong. And 
eventually nothing doesn't seem too wrong. He has nowhere to draw a line. 
   Ben Franklin wrote in 1766 that "if Parliament has the right to take from 
us one penny in the pound, where is the line drawn that bounds that right, 
and what shall hinder their calling whenever they please for the other 19 
shillings and eleven pence?" 
   The very best way to distinguish between a conservative and a libertarian 
is to observe the presence or absence of the uncalibrated quantification 
fallacy in his ideas. The libertarian is opposed to ALL tyranny, not just 
"too much" tyranny. The conservative thinks he can make some compromise 
between freedom and tyranny, but his belief that there is a happy middle 
somewhere in between is wrong. That is not how compromise works. (See 
Chapter 3) 
   See reference 

   A second characteristic by which a conservative can be recognized is his 
reliance on religion. Almost all conservatives have religious belief as a 
major foundation stone of all aspects of their philosophy. A noticeable 
exception are the Randites, who are both conservative and atheist. But they 
are atheists who have a god named Government. 

   A third characteristic by which a conservative can be recognized is that 
politically, he is an "anti-". If you ask him what his political philosophy 
is, he will usually reply that he is an anti-communist. This is what makes 
conservatives attractive to philosophically superficial libertarians. Such 
libertarians (who are themselves opposed to communism) see no deeper than 
the "anti-communist" label presented by the conservative and conclude that 
the conservative is their philosophical ally. 
   The libertarians have the idea that to be allies it is not necessary to 
have a noble goal in commmon, but only to have a common enemy; that if your 
ally defines himself only as an "anti-" you can use him without fear that he 
will corrupt your purpose. Sometimes this can be true: an ally of 
convenience, who merely shares with you a common enemy rather than a common 
goal, can be useful--if you're careful. You have a big advantage: he knows 
only what he DOESN'T want--you know what you DO want. But the flaw in 
applying this idea lies in the philosophical superficiality of the 
libertarians. They do not probe beneath the surface label of the 
conservative to observe that fundamentally what he is FOR is the imposition 
of some form of coercive social institution. This mistake on the part of the 
libertarians is what has resulted in their being co-opted by the 

   If ethics consisted of social customs and traditions to which individuals 
must conform, rather than principles which they grasp and accept by means of 
reason, then it would be vital for a society to maintain a high degree of 
uniformity in customs and traditions. This explains why the conservatives 
are such strong advocates of immigration limits. An influx of people with 
different customs and traditions poses a severe threat to the conservative 
notion of ethics. 

   The conservative believes that achievement of values is OK, as long as 
you don't ENJOY that achievement--too much. (If you enjoy your achievement 
too much you commit the Christian sin of Pride.) This points out a seeming 
similarity between Objectivism and conservatism: they both approve the 
achievement of values. But to equate the two philosophies on the basis of 
this observation would be grossly superficial. It would be to equate 
opposites by substituting nonessentials for their essential characteristics. 
Conservatives always make this equating when they claim to be Objectivists 
or libertarians. In fact, the Objectivist and conservative theses on the 
fundamental nature and purpose of human values differ greatly. 

   * Libertarian Foreign Policy 
   Robert Ringer: "I am in favor of complete freedom of trade between 
companies and people throughout the world, but not under the umbrella of 
political partnerships between governments." 
   Thus a proper libertarian policy toward trade relations (a foreign 
policy, as expressed by a free society) should be: We will trade with 
individual people or with private companies, but we will not engage in any 
exchange which is subject to the control of a government. 

   * The Ethical Carnivore 
   The man who eats meat but who won't kill an animal is often described as 
an immoral person with unintegrated values who condones a wickedness by 
enjoying the result of it. He is accused of being equally guilty of the 
   This label of "immoral" smacks of original sin. In fact, it is simply 
impossible to live in America today without taking advantage of knowledge 
that was gained by experiments (many of them quite horrifying) performed on 
animals. Much of chemistry, and almost all of medicine, rest on such 
   For example, here is a note from a researcher on nervous systems: 
   "Some mammals (such as the common laboratory rat) can have their entire 
forebrain excised and are still able to walk, run and even maintain their 
balance to some extent. Although they move with a robotic stride, without 
making any attempt to avoid obstacles placed in their path, these animals 
are fully able to operate their leg muscles and to coordinate their steps." 
   Personally, I would find it completely impossible to conduct such 
experiments. Yet I study and learn from the results of them, with the 
explicit knowledge of how those results were obtained. Although this 
knowledge makes me feel depressed, it does not make me feel guilty. I have 
eaten the Apple, and I must live with it. Am I a hypocrite? 

   What insuperable line prevents humans from extending ethical regard to 
animals? The relevant question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? 
but, Can they suffer? Infants and the mentally ill do not possess the 
attributes of "normal" or "typical" humans, but they are not left out of the 
realm of rights. Why then omit animals? If there is something one would not 
do to a severely incapacitated child, then neither should one do it to an 
animal that would suffer as much. 
   A scientist who did cancer studies on mice recounts that whenever he had 
doubts about his work, he had only to think about the terminally ill 
patients in the children's cancer ward. This assuaged his conscience. 
   Veterinarians are particularly sensitive to the ethical problems of 
dealing with animals--love of animals, after all, was what brought most of 
them into the field. Vets point out that their job is not to prolong life 
but to reduce the suffering of as many animals as possible. Human medicine, 
they aver, is in many ways more heartless: "We're allowed to give suffering 
animals euthanasia, but physicians are required by law to keep their 
patients alive no matter what the cost." 

   "Sooner or later man will be going outside the solar system. Sooner or 
later we will meet types of intelligent life much higher than our own, yet 
in forms completely alien. And when that time comes, the treatment man 
receives from his superiors may well depend upon the way he has behaved 
toward the other creatures of his own world." ... Arthur C. Clarke 

   Sagesse oblige. 

   * Voluntary vs. Coercive - Trade vs. Theft 
   As a starting point, here are some dictionary definitions: 
   Acting on one's own initiative. 
   Controlled by or subject to individual volition. 
   Proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent. 
   Resulting from one's own free choice; given or done of one's own free 
will; freely chosen or undertaken. Self-determining. 
   Acting willingly and without constraint or legal obligation or other 
external compulsion. 

   Synonyms: deliberate, intentional, spontaneous, willful, willing. 
   Deliberate implies full consciousness of the nature of one's act and its 
   Intentional stresses an awareness of an end to be achieved. 
   Spontaneous refers to behavior that seems wholly unpremeditated, a 
natural response and a true reflection of one's feelings. 
   Willful often implies headstrong persistence in a self-determined course 
of action. 
   Willing suggests acceding to a course proposed by another, without 
reluctance or even eagerly. 

   Coercion: A relationship in which a person is subjected to physical force 
(or the threat of it) in order to compel him to submit to the choices of 
another person. The separation of a person from his rightfully achieved 
values without his voluntary consent. Any course of action calculated to 
inflict physical injury, regardless of whether or not the action succeeds in 
its intent. 

   Fraud: Obtaining material values without their owner's consent under 
false pretenses or false promises. Receiving values then refusing to pay for 
them and thus keeping them by force (by physical possession) not by right, 
and without the consent of their owner. 

   What bothers me about such concepts as "willingness" or "voluntary" is 
that they can be identified only by examining the contents of a person's 
mind. But this is not possible; hence my attempts to define them in terms 
which are objectively verifiable, such as the observable result of a choice 
and the observable conditions of the context within which that choice 
   How can the existence of willingness be determined? A man with a gun to 
his head (or whose values are indirectly threatened) will most likely ASSERT 
willingness, but does his assertion really signify the existence of 
   To determine whether or not something is voluntary, we should examine two 
things: the person's behavior (both word and deed) and the context within 
which that behavior occurs--including the temporal context: the person may 
be operating under a threat laid on him in the past, and which is not to be 
manifest until sometime in the future. 
   The concept "voluntary" cannot apply to any context in which coercion 
occurs as part of the relevant environment. If a person's behavior is 
mandated, regardless of her personal choice, then her behavior cannot 
properly be labeled voluntary. No contract--whether direct, indirect, or 
implied--is valid if it is coercively imposed, or if it is acquiesced to by 
default within a context of coercion. Meaningful consent does not exist 
under these conditions. 

   The fundamental distinguishing characteristic which separates the two 
categories is the relevance of choice to the preservation of values. 
   For example: If I put a gun to your head and demand your money, the 
situation is such that your choice has no relevance: you lose a value no 
matter how you choose. Either your money or your life. 
   If your choice is to give me the money, then you lose the money. 
   On the other hand, if your choice is NOT to give me the money, then you 
still lose the money--and your life, too. 
   No matter how you choose, you lose. That's what makes the situation 
   If a person's choice is NOT relevant to the loss vs. non-loss of a value 
then the transfer is a theft. If the person's choice IS relevant, then the 
transfer is a trade. 
   There is a situation in which choice seems to be relevant, but 
nonetheless the transfer cannot be termed a trade: when the transfer occurs 
within a context of deception. This is fraud. 
   In considering the nature of deception, we must keep in mind that rights 
impose no obligations on other men except of a prohibitive nature. Rights 
are not a claim to affirmative action. Each man is obliged only to AVOID the 
violation of the rights of other men. Therefore, in my dealings with others: 
   I have no obligation to convince them of anything. 
   I have no obligation to educate them about anything. 
   My only obligation is to refrain from telling them anything I know to be 

   Nozick proposes three conditions for a just transaction: 
   1. It must be freely entered into by both parties. 
   2. There must be no deception on either side. 
   3. The goods traded must have been justly acquired--that is, acquired in 
circumstances that accord with the first two conditions. 
   His third condition raises a critically important idea: the problem of 
coercion cannot be solved "out of context," that is, outside the general 
context of the social institutions that shape our culture. Before such 
problems can be fully solved, society must be restructured away from 
institutions of government and toward ethically rational institutions. 

   Keynes described aggregate demand management as "the one kind of 
compulsion of which the effect is to enlarge liberty." 
   Edmund Burke wrote, "Liberty too must be limited in order to be 
   Rousseau, in The Social Contract: "Men must be forced to be free." 
   Page 3 of the 1993 IRS form 1040A starts out with this statement: "Thank 
you for making this nation's tax system the most effective system of 
voluntary compliance in the world." 
   The words "liberty," "freedom," "voluntary," etc. have been appropriated 
by would-be tyrants who use those words to designate the opposite of their 
cognitively correct meanings, thus leaving the majority of people with no 
way to distinguish libertarians from our totalitarian enemies. The only way 
I can see to combat this dismal situation is to attack it not on its 
surface, by making futile attempts to persuade people of the correct 
definitions of those critical words, but at its roots, by presenting the 
idea that DEFINITIONS ARE NOT ARBITRARY. Unless your audience realizes this, 
any argument you engage in will be merely a verbal battle of wits with your 
adversary--the outcome dependent on who can make the most clever use of 
eloquent phrases which are nevertheless meaningless in the minds of the 

   In some cases, it is claimed that my behavior must be voluntary because I 
do not exercise the alternative of departing from the social context in 
which the behavior occurs. (America: love it or leave it!) But by what right 
does my oppressor demand the abandonment of MY homeland as the price I must 
pay to get HIS coercive government off my back? 
   I take my motive from Thoreau, who stated: "Know all men by these 
presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of 
any incorporated society which I have not joined.... If I had known how to 
name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies 
which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find a complete 

   Gulliver's Travels: "They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft, 
and therefore seldom fail to punish it with death; for they allege, that 
care and vigilance, with a very common understanding, may preserve a man's 
goods from thieves, but honesty has no defense against superior cunning; and 
since it is necessary that there should be a perpetual intercourse of buying 
and selling, and dealing upon credit, where fraud is permitted and connived 
at, or hath not law to punish it, the honest dealer is always undone, and 
the knave gets the advantage." 
   Solon believed that "being seduced into wrong was as bad as being forced, 
and that between deceit and necessity, flattery and compulsion, there was 
little difference, since both may equally suspend the exercise of reason." 

   * Self-Defense 
   Libertarianism is not a pacifist philosophy. 
   There are two very different kinds of force: one is coercive or 
aggressive force--that which is initiated against other people, and the 
second is retaliatory or defensive force--that which is used to protect 
human rights. Libertarians oppose only the first of these. 
   The Objectivist stand is quite clear: 
   "The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may 
INITIATE the use of physical force against others. No man--or group or 
society or government--has the right to assume the role of a criminal and 
initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man." (From "The 
Objectivist Ethics," in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS.) 
   Thus we are not opposed to force when it is used in self-defense. In 
fact, we recognize the inevitable necessity of such force: it is necessary 
to use defensive force to preserve civilized life against those who embrace 
the use of coercive force. 

   Compare the appalling behavior of government with the plausible 
alternative of self-defense: 
   Private handguns are successfully used for self-defense 645K times each 
year. Ninety-nine percent of the times when a private citizen uses a gun to 
prevent a rape, robbery or burglary, no one is shot. 
   Women use guns over 400 times per day to defend themselves against 
rapists. The Federal Justice Department found that of 32K attempted rapes, 
32% were actually committed. But when the woman was armed with a gun or 
knife, only 3% of the attempted rapes were actually committed. In 1966 a 
highly publicized safety course taught women in Orlando Florida how to use 
guns. Orlando's rape rate declined 88% during 1967. 
   In 1982 the city of Kennesaw Georgia passed a law allowing heads of 
households to keep a weapon in the house. Ten years later, the residential 
burglary rate was 72% lower than it had been in 1981. 
   Since the passage of Florida's concealed-carry law in 1987, over 258K 
people have received permits to carry guns. Of those 258K, only 18 have used 
their guns to commit a crime. The homicide rate in Florida has fallen 22% 
during that time. A similar Georgia law, passed in 1976, was followed by a 
21% drop in its homicide rate. 
   A gun kept at home is 216 times more likely to be used for defense 
against a criminal than to cause the death of an innocent member of the 
   Each year, more criminals are lawfully shot by private citizens than are 
shot by police. But fewer than 2% of gun owners ever kill someone 
   Eleven percent of people who are shot by police are innocent of a crime. 
Two percent of people who are shot by private citizens are innocent of a 
   In 1985 the National Institute for Justice reported that 57% of the 
felons polled claimed that they were more worried about meeting an armed 
citizen than they were about encountering the police. 
   Society is safer when criminals don't know who's armed, but government 
will always be opposed to self-defense because any force not under the 
government's control poses a potential threat to the government, and thus 
self-defense must be outlawed. Consider what must be the real intent of gun-
control laws, in view of the facts that 90% of violent crimes are committed 
without a handgun, and of those committed with a handgun, 93% of the guns 
used were obtained through unlawful means. 

   A society where peaceful citizens are armed is far more likely to be one 
where Good Samaritans will flourish. But take away people's guns, and the 
public--disastrously for the victims--will tend to leave the matter to the 
police. In a recent survey, 81% of the Samaritans polled were owners of 
guns. If we wish to encourage a society where citizens come to the aid of 
neighbors in distress, we must not strip them of the actual power to do 
something effective. Surely it is the height of absurdity to disarm the 
peaceful public and then, as is quite common, to denounce them for apathy. 
   Even worse are the insidious consequences of the denial, by law, of 
individual self-responsibility and self-authority. In a society where the 
individual is forbidden to act freely on his own authority within his own 
personal sphere of influence, a sense of apathy MUST be the inevitable 
result--both a local apathy, regarding his interpersonal relationships, and 
a more generalized apathy, regarding his community. People who are prevented 
from solving their own problems will not solve the problems of their cities, 
   As Kropotkin put it in his book MUTUAL AID: 
   "In proportion as the obligations towards the State grew in numbers the 
citizens were evidently relieved from their obligations towards each other. 
Under the theory of the all-protecting State the bystander need not intrude: 
it is the policeman's business to interfere, or not. All that a respectable 
citizen has to do now is to pay the poor tax and to let the starving starve. 
The result is, that the theory which maintains that men can, and must, seek 
their own happiness in a disregard of other people's wants is now triumphant 
all round. It is the religion of the day, and to doubt of its efficacy is to 
be a dangerous Utopian." 

   When I see a mugging I view it as an infringement on my personal view of 
how the world should, and should NOT, be. The criminal is not just attacking 
a stranger; he is attacking something I value. He fills me with indignation, 
because he and his sort are undermining the world I wish to live in. I can't 
walk past such a sight indifferently; and the fact that I don't know the 
victim personally is irrelevant. It is not the victim I so intensely value 
here: it is my world as I want it to be. 
   Similar considerations go into risking my neck to save a stranger in 
peril during an emergency. I don't know anything about the stranger. I do 
know that I am making a personal statement against the triumph of raw 
circumstances over human life--and over my volition. What jumps into my head 
is not, "I have a ethical obligation to the stranger," but rather, "Not if I 
have anything to say about this!" You see, it's my world that's under 
   Now, some might ask: "Isn't this irrational? By what standard do you 
project your personal value onto things which, objectively, have nothing to 
do with your personal survival--things which, in fact, could actually 
jeopardize your personal survival?" My answer is that I value these things 
because in sum they comprise the framework of the community I live in. If I 
do not act to preserve that framework in a proper condition then I will in 
future be unable to act within that framework for the achievement of my own 
personal values. 

   Gun control: 
   The right to keep and bear firearms is not fundamental. It is DERIVED 
from the more basic right to defense of person and property. Thus, any 
weapon which CANNOT be used against an aggressor without endangering 
innocent persons violates the basic right of self-defense of the endangered 
people. The issue of gun control then becomes a technical one of identifying 
which--if any--weapons NECESSARILY constitute a threat to innocent 
bystanders. Nuclear devices and chemical/biological weapons would seem to 
fail the test. (As would voting, as I explained above.) 
   See reference 

   * Preemptive Force 
   Preemptive force is defensive force applied before an aggression actually 
occurs. Within the context of the libertarian ethic of non-aggression, how--
if at all--can the use of preemptive force be justified? Must you wait until 
your assailant actually shoots you before you can take any forceful action 
to prevent his aggression? 
   If an ethical principle requires you to abstain from self-defense, can 
that principle be valid? Can any philosophy whose practice results in the 
death of the body or the spirit be moral or correct? As Rand pointed out, 
the only valid morality is one that is life sustaining rather than life 

   The significance of Time: 
   Man cannot live range-of-the-moment. He needs to support his life by the 
continuous use of reason. He must make correct identifications of reality 
which can then serve to guide his behavior through time. 
   "'Man's survival qua man' means the terms, methods, conditions and goals 
required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his 
lifespan...." (Rand, in THE OBJECTVIST ETHICS) 
   Man is obliged, by his nature as a rational being, to take account of the 

   The point in time at which an event occurs is not philosophically 
fundamental. It is the principled nature of the event that you must consider 
in order to properly evaluate it. To be philosophically contextual you must 
judge the event on the basis of the underlying principles manifested 
therein. You must adhere to the principled distinction between coercion and 
self-defense, whether the defensive force takes place before or after the 
coercion. You must remember that when you defend yourself you are not 
fighting for control over your enemy, you are not fighting to compel your 
enemy's behavior, you are not fighting to separate him from a rightfully-
achieved value, you are fighting only to PREVENT your enemy from coercing, 
either in the present or in the future. You are fighting for the 
preservation of your rights, your freedom, and your life through time. 

   In my discussion of Rights (in Chapter 5) I claimed that the foundation 
of all human behavior--both moral and ethical--lies in the Law of Identity. 
Proper behavior is that which is consistent with this Law; improper behavior 
is that which attempts to contradict it. The violation of rights involves a 
contradiction of the Law of Identity. However, it is consistent to take an 
action which eliminates such a contradiction, even if that action, when 
considered out of context, could itself be a negation of the Law of 
Identity. In ethics, as in the propositional calculus, one negative cancels 
out another. (I find it personally distasteful, but I can see no way to 
avoid the conclusion that two wrongs can indeed make a right.) Thus to lie 
to a man who is trying to rob you, or to kill a man, when defending your own 
life against his aggression, are ethically legitimate (i.e., logically 
consistent) actions. 
   See reference 
   To limit your response would be a form of the pacifist thesis: the self-
destructive notion that you must restrict YOUR behavior while your enemy has 
no restrictions on his. If there is a general principle involved, it must 
apply to both parties, not merely to one (you). Your enemy enters the 
relationship operating on the principle of coercion. If you cling to an 
unrealistic principle of non-aggression that prevents you from defending 
yourself against his coercion, then your enemy will always have the 
advantage of you and you will be destroyed. Such behavior cannot be 
ethically proper. 

   Consider forceful action in response not to previous coercion, but in 
response to the threat of coercion. If we consider threat to have the same 
status as coercion itself, then the use of preemptive force is justified. 
   If someone is pointing a gun at you, it can be argued that this in itself 
constitutes the initiation of force, because it is certainly an effective 
form of coercion--even though he has not (yet) pulled the trigger. And 
therefore if you use force against him you are reacting defensively, not 
   When a man threatens you by asserting an intent to coerce, and has 
available the means to coerce, then you have a right to believe he intends 
to do what he says. If he SAYS it, you HAVE to believe he MEANS it. The 
alternative is to place yourself in a value-destructive situation. 

   A good illustration of this problem appears in THE PROBABILITY BROACH by 
L. Neil Smith. The scene on pages 218 to 220 depicts an application of the 
principle of non-aggression that precludes preemptive defensive actions on 
the part of the intended victims. 

   * Rules vs. Principles 

   A PRINCIPLE is a general and fundamental truth that can be used as a 
standard of judgment in deciding conduct or choice. 
   A RULE, usually a precept adopted or enacted, is (or should be) the 
specific application of a principle.
   Thus, as Tonie Nathan observed: Proper laws are enunciations of 
principles of justice. 
   A rule is a self-contained prescription about concrete actions or 
situations, telling you what to do or how to do it. In contrast to 
principles, rules are specific and limited in scope, prescribing a 
particular type of action in a particular situation. Because they are so 
specific, no set of rules could possibly cover every situation and action to 
which the corresponding principle applies. 
   Rules are formulated for specific contexts, but because humans are not 
omniscient they can never fully specify the parameters of that context. As a 
result, rules almost always have exceptions and they often conflict with one 
another. Someone trying to follow rules without the benefit of broader 
principles will have no way to determine when he is faced with an exception, 
or how to resolve conflicts among rules. 
   By contrast, a principle gives us comprehensive guidance across a vast 
number of circumstances that could not be covered by even a very long list 
of discrete rules, and it tells us how to identify exceptions to the rules. 
Properly formulated, a principle states the relationship between an action 
and a goal. It is a statement of cause-and-effect, and thus a principle has 
no exceptions. 
   If it's possible to have an exception to your principle, then it's not a 
principle. Within its defined context, a principle is absolute. If you have 
an exception, then it's not a principle; it's a rule. A rule is something 
that is frequently true, but not necessarily true. That's the difference 
between a rule and a principle. 

   To appreciate the problem, consider the Ten Commandments. 
   Leaving aside the first few, which deal with the worship of God, the list 
is not unreasonable, as far as it goes. It's generally a good idea to honor 
your parents, and not to steal, kill, commit adultery, bear false witness, 
etc. But these rules hardly cover the whole of life. Honoring your parents 
is normally a matter of justice as well as affection: giving them what they 
are due for having given you life and nurture. But the fourth commandment 
has exceptions: some parents treat their children with such cruelty or 
neglect that no honor is due them; quite the contrary. But the commandment 
gives us no guidance on this point. The principle of justice does. 

   Because it is so abstract, a principle must be applied to a particular 
situation by the exercise of judgment, taking into account the specific 
parameters of the situation. 
   The exercise of judgment cannot be eliminated from human life, and the 
attempt to do so by erecting a detailed network of rules always has 
destructive consequences in public as well as private affairs. 

   Unless rules are anchored in principles, they cannot be rationally 
justified, and will be experienced by individualists as externally-imposed 
constraints--limitations on their pursuit of happiness. To be non-arbitrary, 
a moral code must be validated by reference to a fundamental fact--an 
ultimate good to which all other goals of action are the means. For 
Objectivism, that ultimate good is the individual's own life, thus 
Objectivist moral principles identify the requirements for living 
successfully, given man's basic needs and capacities: Production is a virtue 
because it provides for our needs. Conceptual knowledge is a value because 
it makes production possible. Rationality is a virtue because it is the only 
way to acquire and maintain a conceptual grasp of reality. Honesty and 
integrity are virtues because they are the only way of keeping one's actions 
tied to one's grasp of reality. 

   A critic of rational ethics complained: 
   "If an ethical principle requires me to abstain from self-defense in 
certain cases, then those cases constitute a reductio ad absurdum of said 
principle, and I won't apply it to them. In fact, for any imaginable 
principle, one can devise scenarios in which it will give absurd results and 
must be abandoned. Thus it's impossible to devise principles of ethics which 
will always work." 
   Principles of physical law (such as Archimedes' principles of bouyancy) 
cannot be carried to such "reductio ad absurdum." They ALWAYS work. What 
does this say about so-called ethical "principles" which CAN? It says that 
they are not principles at all, but merely arbitrary rules. 

   The refusal, or inability, to distinguish between rules and principles is 
a manifestation of the concrete-bound mentality that Barbara Branden 
analyzed in her lectures PRINCIPLES OF EFFICIENT THINKING. 

   * Polygamy vs. Monogamy 

   It is with some apprehension that I use the word polygamy, because it 
smacks of Mormonism (especially in this part of the country). I am NOT a 
Mormon, and what I am advocating is profoundly different in principle from 
the ideas underlying the Mormon practice of polygamy. As a hard-core 
libertarian, I am strongly opposed to any kind of patriarchal or 
exploitative social interactions, sexual or otherwise. I firmly advocate 
personal autonomy and psychological independence. 

   Here are two concepts useful in contemplating this subject: 
   Polyfidelity - A polygamous marriage lifestyle in which all partners are 
of primary value to all other partners and the sexual fidelity of each is to 
the group. 
   Compersion is sort of the opposite of jealousy. It is the positive 
feeling a person experiences when observing two or more of her loved ones 
enjoying their relationship with each other. I became aware of this concept 
when I observed a young mother watching her two sons, ages 3 and 4, playing 
together in loving harmony. The look on her face told me volumes about her 
love for her sons and her emotional response to their interaction. 

   Emotions, especially love and sexual desire, are the result of a man's 
basic values. Thus he will naturally respond positively to ALL the women 
that he perceives to manifest those values. There is no inevitable conflict 
between what a woman feels for one man and what she feels for another, if 
she is responding to the SAME values manifest in both men. Thus it IS 
psychologically possible for one person to be deeply and romantically in 
love with two or more others at the same time. (Just imagine serial monogamy 
compressed in time so that the relationships overlap.) 
   Francisco to Dagny: (ATLAS SHRUGGED, Part 3, Chapter 2) 
   "You still love me.... I'm still what I was, and you'll always see it, 
and you'll always grant me the same response, even if there's a greater one 
that you grant to another man. No matter what you feel for him, it will not 
change what you feel for me, and it won't be treason to either, because it 
comes from the same root, it's the same payment in answer to the same 
   Of course Dagny will prefer Galt most of the time, but would she EVER 
choose intimacy with Francisco or Rearden? Yes, for two reasons: She DOES 
love them also; and Galt won't ALWAYS be available or disposed to be with 
her. In a monogamous marriage, she would be limited to only one man with 
whom to satisfy her needs for sex, companionship and psychological 
visibility. That's a lot even for a John Galt to provide a woman of such 
depth of character, all by himself. In polygamy, on the other hand, Dagny 
would have three different men to care for and be cared for by. Interests 
one husband does not share with her might be shared with another. Needs not 
fulfilled by one man may be met by another. In short, polygamy would provide 
her with the opportunity to be more completely understood, appreciated and 
loved than she could expect from any monogamous marriage. Polygamy offers a 
variety of intellectual, emotional and physical contacts through which needs 
left unsatisfied by one spouse may be met by others. 
   Polygamy has several other advantages also: It offers the economic 
opportunities of increased division of labor within the family and of per 
capita reduction of expenses like homes, cars and appliances. In the event 
of the death of one spouse, it offers more financial and emotional security 
to the others than can be obtained from a monogamous marriage. 
   The emotional bonds that can form between same-sex partners can be 
likened to those between brothers, sisters, best friends, or maybe something 
totally new. Polygamy is the only lifestyle that can provide bisexual people 
with the opportunity to fully develop and express their sexuality. 
   Finding partners for a polygamy should be easier than finding a partner 
for a monogamy. In seeking a single partner, you have to find a person who 
has ALL of the characteristics you need in a relationship. In selecting for 
a polygamy, you can pick a person who has only SOME of the characteristics 
you need, since other partners can provide the other characteristics. 
   Any way you describe it, polygamy offers choices which are unavailable in 
any other relationship format. 

   One of the greatest practical benefits of polygamy is its potential 
benefit for children. Studies of the Israeli kibbutzim show that it really 
is psychologically healthier for children to have multiple adult role 
models. And, as Heinlein noted, in an extended family it is nearly 
impossible for a child to become an orphan. 
   In modern American society, where the support systems of extended family, 
neighborhood, and community are no longer generally available and quality 
childcare is in short supply and often unaffordable to a single parent, 
multiple parenting inside a group marriage could become an increasingly 
attractive option. In a libertarian society, where parents would no longer 
have to surrender their children to a monolithic school system, the 
children, instead of being absorbed into large impersonal social 
institutions, could grow up in smaller, more intimate groupings. 
   Polygamy is not only safer for children, it is more flexible for adults. 
As one woman in a polygamous family observed, "Polygamy is a feminist 
lifestyle. I can go off 400 miles to school, and the family keeps running." 
   If the nuclear family represents the last stronghold of patriarchal 
values, the alternative values of polyfidelity may well rescue us from the 
alienation and social despair created by the current way of life in America. 

   Genuine self-esteem is a prerequisite of polygamy. This is no lifestyle 
for emotional second-handers who derive their self-esteem from comparisons 
and conflicts with others. If you have insecurities, neuroticisms, or any 
other lack of authentic self-esteem, then this type of relationship is not 
for you. Nor is it for you if you are non-libertarian. In a polygamous 
relationship the libertarian precept becomes supremely important: each 
person MUST fully accept that each other individual has an unqualified right 
to live her life according to her own choices. When we are legally and 
morally obliged to love and have sex with only one other person, the notion 
of the other as our personal property follows almost naturally. And from 
this follows the necessity of sacrifice on the part of the other person. 
   "If you begin by sacrificing yourself to those you love, you will end by 
hating those to whom you have sacrificed yourself." .... G.B. Shaw 
   Going against your own true nature never works in the long run, and 
inevitably creates great stress within an intimate relationship. The 
pressures for self-sacrifice are burdensome enough in a neurotic monogamy; 
in a neurotic polygamy they could become overwhelming. You could end by 
hating those for whom you sacrifice yourself. 
   As I pointed out above, polygamy offers greater scope for value-
achievement than does monogamy. A polygamous person may be MORE selective, 
MORE discriminating, than any monogamist, in that she can be eclectic in her 
relationships among her family, as contrasted to the exclusive commitment to 
one person demanded by monogamy, which often forces people to stifle 
interests not shared with their only spouse. A polygamist need make no 
sacrifices in the name of marital "fidelity."  He is free to choose 
relationships among partners and select the ones that best satisfy his 
specific needs--not frozen into an emotional/intellectual/sexual status quo 
wherein his freedom to select and discriminate is delimited by his sole 
spouse's range of interests and capabilities. 
   "I shall love and cherish, but neither command nor obey. And we shall 
join hands when we wish, or walk alone when we so desire." .... ANTHEM 

   Creating a more loving world containing social tolerance for cultural and 
intellectual diversity is a daunting challenge. We can cocoon ourselves into 
our homes and approach the next millenium as insulated as possible from the 
dark ages mentality which is becoming ever more prevalent: a mentality 
wherein individual freedom is trashed and Christianity, hand-in-hand with 
gargantuan government, supports stultifying educational and political 
tyranny, making schools and families into places of conflict and abuse to 
run away from. Or we can stand as representatives of choice, creativity, and 
psycho-social innovation by developing new and better ways to live together, 
ways which enhance individual self-determination in a context of 
decentralized social institutions. 
   Polyfidelity is one part of the answer. 

   "The Ethics of Polygamy" by Paul L. Gross, REASON Magazine, July 1973 
   THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS by Robert Heinlein, Berkley 0 425 06262 7 
   THE NEW FAITHFUL by Ryam Nearing, Box 6306, Captain Cook, HI 96704 
     This book contains a very interesting and useful bibliography. 
   Fictional portrayals of strife-filled situations to which polyandry would 
provide a clear and effective remedy: 
   These two movies: FIRST KNIGHT and PEARL HARBOR 
   THE EVENING NEWS by Arthur Hailey, Part1 Section5     Dell 440-20851-3 
   Of the 1154 human societies in the Human Relations Area Files of Yale 
University, more than 1000 practice some degree of sanctioned polygamy, and 
polygamy is the preferred choice in 70% of those. 
   For a larger, and more interesting, presentation of this idea, see the 
Wikipedia article on "Polyamory." 

   * Forgiveness 
   In consulting various dictionaries, I observed that underlying all their 
many "definitions" of the term "forgive" was a plea to either forget a 
misdeed or to pretend it didn't happen. But on giving the subject some 
thought, I realized that there is another alternative: To plea for 
forgiveness is to request "Do not judge me by this act alone." 
   Should a person be judged on the basis of a single act, or the long-term 
accumulation of his behavior? 
   A man may be extremely moral and rational, but, because he is neither 
omniscient nor infallable, once in a while he may do or say something 
thoughtlessly harmful (e.g., unfairly insult his wife). By a narrow-minded, 
either-or criterion applied to the entirety of his character, that single 
blemish alone could constitute sufficient grounds to condemn him. The 
Randites are infamous for this sort of judgment procedure. To them, his 
action "proves" that he is not "in principle" committed to reason--hence, he 
is irrevocably irrational. Furthermore, he is judged to be just as extremely 
irrational as Stalin was: both are described as having crossed the only 
boundary line that matters, the "essential" boundary line of morality. Since 
the only thing that matters is the fact that a moral lapse has occurred, 
nothing further need be considered. 
   Such lump categorizing into "moral vs. immoral" categories is a context-
dropping logical non-sequitur. It implies that one part equals the whole--
that an isolated misdeed in an otherwise virtuous life proves a totally 
corrupt character--and thus spares the accuser the need to make a 
conscientious effort to determine ALL the relevant facts underlying a 
person's behavior before condemning him. This, of course, saves the fanatic 
much time and mental effort. He need not weigh carefully a person's total 
moral character, balancing a lifetime of virtue against a momentary lapse. 
   Along with the other errors the Randites make, they are guilty of being 
unrealistic. There ARE degrees of good and evil in this world, and they do 
matter. Our response to an individual guilty of some petty lapse should be 
to encourage his return to integrity--not to gleefully damn him to an 
eternity in Hell. 
   I emphasize "petty" because obviously, chronic or serious irrationality 
deserves our wholehearted condemnation. In considering irrationality, we can 
make several distinctions: A petty misdeed would be an act, such as an 
insult to one's spouse, that results merely in some emotional upset. A 
graver misdeed would be one that causes physical harm or property damage. 
Greater still would be a misdeed for which restitution could not possibly be 
made. How could you really forgive something that couldn't ever be undone? 

   Assuming that the perpetrator is guilty merely of an isolated misdeed, 
but is not the kind of person who is fundamentally and consistently immoral, 
what can he do to make amends? 
   First of all, make restitution. Restore the loss that you have caused. 
Then initiate a series of actions designed to prove that the one act is not 
representative of your character. Construct a behaviorial context in which 
the one misdeed pales into insignificance in relation to the full context of 
all your other acts. 
   Do not depend on your past actions to indicate this. You must initiate a 
series of new actions in order to re-establish the lost confidence. You must 
convince your associates both that the one act does not truly represent your 
character and also that the one act does not signify an impending change in 
your character. 
   The most important thing is that you do not dissociate ideas from action, 
that you actually DO something to remedy the situation. Not just talk, but 
ACTION is what is required. Merely saying "I'm sorry" is not enough. 

   Many people in this society have mixed premises; they are sometimes 
rather decent, sometimes thoughtless, dishonest, or even cruel. It is 
probably impossible to avoid some contact and interaction with them. In such 
interactions, you are faced not so much with the issue of forgiveness but 
with toleration. (This is especially true in employee/employer 
relationships.) You have to weigh the benefits against the costs of dealing 
with such people and decide how much of their wretchedness you are willing 
to tolerate. In these dealings, it has always helped me to have a firm 
heirarchy of values. This has provided me with a sound basis for my 

   Here are two other perspectives on this subject: 
   "The Cult of Moral Grayness" in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS 
   TRUTH AND TOLERATION by David Kelley 

   On to Chapter 7
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