jamesd on November 07, 2010, 03:34:27 pm
Having only two real choices is not a mere accident; it's an innate part of winner-takes-all voting.

The outcome of a vote has to be one decision made for all, imposed on all.  The flaws in the various voting systems are reflections of this basic problem.  Things like proportional representation (resulting in irresponsible parties) just move the problem around, they don't solve it.

dough560 on November 21, 2010, 11:08:49 pm
One change I'd like to see:  For a bill to pass the vote must be 80 % or better.  For a law to be repealed.  40 % for repeal.  Wouldn't that change the shape of a democratic republic.

quadibloc on November 24, 2010, 10:59:34 am
The outcome of a vote has to be one decision made for all, imposed on all.
That's not a flaw, that's a design feature.

Voting systems aren't intended to solve, or even address, this problem. They're intended to eliminate the other problem - the one of having only two real alternatives at a time.

In the book Seven Years in Tibet, Heinrich Harrer noted that twice a year they had ceremonies where the Dalai Lama would announce it was time for everyone to start wearing their winter clothing, and that it was time for everyone to stop wearing their winter clothing. This is silly, since the weather can change unexpectedly, and some people are more sensitive to the cold than others.

So even a statist like myself agrees: some decisions are best left to private initiative. But only if all decisions are like that can we do without a state.

That is, of course, if the costs of having those decisions done by individuals, instead of being imposed by common agreement, are greater than the cost of the risk of the state expanding to take care of decisions that are best handled privately.

Opponents of AnCap take the former position, because they think abolishing taxes and conscription will make a society unable to defend itself well enough to avoid being easy pray to the deadly sharks out there like Hitler and Stalin.

Supporters of AnCap take the latter position, because they see the chance to vote once every few years as a slim protection against the obvious venality of politicians, even in the democracies held up by statists as shining examples.

Without AnCap having really been tried, these are largely subjective perceptions which can't be conclusively settled by argument.

jamesd on November 24, 2010, 04:16:53 pm

The outcome of a vote has to be one decision made for all, imposed on all.
That's not a flaw, that's a design feature.

… abolishing taxes and conscription will make a society unable to defend itself well enough to avoid being easy pray to the deadly sharks out there like Hitler and Stalin.

Well, if the pacifists in this group got their way, probably true - but suppose instead the pacifists run the government.

The government arms itself but disarms the people. 

If it is willing to use arms and use them well, like Charles the hammer or Sobieski, well that is a good solution.  But lack of will may prevent it from using arms, and diseconomies of scale may prevent it from using them well. 

The vastness of empire prevented Charles the great from using arms well, and so what he did was delegate to the men on the spot, issuing authorizations to settlers, adventurers, pirates, and brigands, to acquire lands currently possessed by Dar al Islam, the landgoing equivalent of letters of Marque and reprisal.

In the long history of war between Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb, strong central government does not seem to have served either side well.  Regimes that fought this war successfully tended to delegate heavily to settlers, adventurers, and mercenaries.

It may be unwilling to use arms due to weakness and fear, or due to moral qualms, (a surprisingly common problem with Christian theocracies, which tended to recall Christ's commandment to turn the other cheek at the most inopportune possible moment).  It may cut a deal with powerful enemies favorable to itself and unfavorable to its subjects - which is what today's western regimes seem to be doing.

SandySandfort on November 24, 2010, 04:36:55 pm
Well, if the pacifists in this group got their way, probably true - but suppose instead the pacifists run the government.

Whoa there Foghorn! I may have missed it, but I don't think anyone on this Forum has ever self-identified as a pacifist. Further, I don't recall anyone saying they believe that all violence is wrong/immoral/unethical/ineffective. (The generally understood meaning of "pacifism.") So, I assume you are just name calling.

Maybe you do not understand the ZAP. I suggest you educate yourself about it. As a ZAPian (I just made that up), like a pacifist, I won't initiate force against another. However, unlike a pacifist, I have no qualms about using violence in self-defense or the defense of another. I have taken four combat firearms courses of one sort or another. I have guns, know how to use them and will do so if sufficiently provoked. So Señor Leghorn, please "out" these mythical pacifist of whom you speak. Bet you just made 'em up.   ::)

jamesd on November 25, 2010, 03:58:27 pm
I don't think anyone on this Forum has ever self-identified as a pacifist. Further, I don't recall anyone saying they believe that all violence is wrong/immoral/unethical/ineffective. (The generally understood meaning of "pacifism.") So, I assume you are just name calling.

War is conflict between groups.  In a war, you have to kill people on the basis of group membership, not on the basis of proven individual crimes, or else you will lose  And it only takes one side to have a war.

If you are not prepared to kill or imprison people on the basis of apparent group membership, not prepared to fight a war.

SandySandfort on November 25, 2010, 10:02:35 pm
I don't think anyone on this Forum has ever self-identified as a pacifist. Further, I don't recall anyone saying they believe that all violence is wrong/immoral/unethical/ineffective. (The generally understood meaning of "pacifism.") So, I assume you are just name calling.

War is conflict between groups.  In a war, you have to kill people on the basis of group membership, not on the basis of proven individual crimes, or else you will lose  And it only takes one side to have a war.

So apparently, you are giving up on your claim that there are pacifists on this Forum. Pacifism and war are orthogonal. All your hand waving isn't going to change the fact that you are wrong about pacifists here. So it just boils down to name calling after all. See,

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Intellectual_dishonesty

jamesd on November 26, 2010, 04:21:16 am
War is conflict between groups.  In a war, you have to kill people on the basis of group membership, not on the basis of proven individual crimes, or else you will lose  And it only takes one side to have a war.

So apparently, you are giving up on your claim that there are pacifists on this Forum.

In practice, people only claim to be pacifists in relation to wars.  If someone opposes all collective violence on the basis that it is collective, he is a pacifist, just as much as if he opposed all collective violence on the basis that it is violent.

If group A attacks group B, and a member of group B says that it is only OK to use violence on members of group A that have been proven guilty of directly, personally, and individually engaging in acts of violence, his conditions are unlikely to be met.

quadibloc on November 26, 2010, 10:38:29 am
So apparently, you are giving up on your claim that there are pacifists on this Forum. Pacifism and war are orthogonal. All your hand waving isn't going to change the fact that you are wrong about pacifists here.
He did use the wrong word.

Sometimes people do use the wrong word because the word they're looking for isn't in the dictionary.

Not all anti-nuclear activists are pacifists. They might accept that a country, if invaded, can legitimately defend itself through conventional means. But a hydrogen warhead, carried on an ICBM to a major city, can't help but kill thousands of innocent women and children. And so, they take the position that nothing can justify the use of such a horrible weapon, and they campaign in the democracies either for their unilateral disarmament with respect to nuclear weapons, or for their concluding disarmament agreements with totalitarian regimes even when these agreements would have inadequate provisions for inspection and control.

A number of forum participants here have declared that it's wrong for even the "good guys" in a war to attack civilian targets. Not just undesirable, to be avoided if it can be avoided - if the other side respects this limit too, so that respecting it doesn't put your side at a disadvantage, therefore interfering with the all-important objective of victory - but wrong: not to be done under any circumstances.

As such a constraint appears likely to have interfered with the achievement of Allied victory in World War II, it is untenable. An Allied defeat in World War II would have been equivalent to the total extermination of the human race, on the grounds that it is morally indecent to take the attitude that "oh, I'm not Jewish, so it doesn't really matter".

Thus, World War II is useful as a limiting case which allows us to test ideas which tend in the direction of pacifism for their plausibility.

J Thomas on November 26, 2010, 09:54:13 pm

A number of forum participants here have declared that it's wrong for even the "good guys" in a war to attack civilian targets. Not just undesirable, to be avoided if it can be avoided - if the other side respects this limit too, so that respecting it doesn't put your side at a disadvantage, therefore interfering with the all-important objective of victory - but wrong: not to be done under any circumstances.

As such a constraint appears likely to have interfered with the achievement of Allied victory in World War II, it is untenable. An Allied defeat in World War II would have been equivalent to the total extermination of the human race, on the grounds that it is morally indecent to take the attitude that "oh, I'm not Jewish, so it doesn't really matter".

Thus, World War II is useful as a limiting case which allows us to test ideas which tend in the direction of pacifism for their plausibility.

No, your fantasies about WWII are not a good limiting case. You might as well make up your fantasies from scratch.

Imagine for example that the USA had managed to build 500 nukes quickly, and we nuked the 500 largest cities in Germany to win the war. We would have argued afterward as you just did that if we had done something else we would have lost the war and therefore it was justified, because whatever we do is justified if it saves the Jews.

There's no limit to the fantasies you can construct if you want to justify something. Like, say that the US military realizes that we lack the troops to occupy Iran, but occupying Iran is utterly necessary if we want to keep them from getting nukes. And so the strategy they come up with involves dropping nerve gas on Iranian population centers, killing say 50 million people and reducing the occupation problem to a manageable level. Afterward you would argue that it was necessary because otherwise Iran would inevitably get nukes, and would inevitably nuke Israel, and Israel would inevitably nuke them back resulting in even more Iranian casualties. So we can't say it's wrong to drop nerve gas on cities full of civilians, because if we hadn't done it we would have inevitably lost the war and Israel would inevitably be damaged or destroyed.

This is a general-purpose argument. For any disgusting military tactic which does not itself destroy the USA, you can make up a situation where the USA would lose a war unless we use it. Then point out that the alternative to using the disgusting tactic is that the bad guys would win and the good guys would lose. Since it's "morally indecent" for the good guys to lose, whatever war crime is at issue must be OK.

But of course it is not OK for bad guys to use any effective technique since it is "morally indecent" for them to win.

Your argument boils down to simple chauvinism, to jingoism. It is worthless.

jamesd on November 27, 2010, 12:14:48 am
Imagine for example that the USA had managed to build 500 nukes quickly, and we nuked the 500 largest cities in Germany to win the war. We would have argued afterward as you just did that if we had done something else we would have lost the war and therefore it was justified, because whatever we do is justified if it saves the Jews.

Screw the Jews.  It would be justified because it would have saved us and saved the lives of a lot of US troops.

That Japan surrendered after the second nuke was a tossup.  If the coup had succeeded, they would not have surrendered.  In which case we would have fried Japan from one end to the other, and been fully justified in doing so.

terry_freeman on November 27, 2010, 12:20:00 am
Claiming that the world would have been destroyed if the US had not "won" WW II is one of the more asinine pieces of counterfactual idiocy to clutter the landscape.

The reality is that the atom bomb made the world safe for Chairman Mao and Josef Stalin - two of the most bloodthirsty individuals on the earth, who slaughtered far more people than Hitler did. Their blood be on your hands, you freaking win-at-any-cost lunatics.

quadibloc on November 27, 2010, 03:28:47 pm
The reality is that the atom bomb made the world safe for Chairman Mao and Josef Stalin - two of the most bloodthirsty individuals on the earth, who slaughtered far more people than Hitler did. Their blood be on your hands, you freaking win-at-any-cost lunatics.
That's only because Josef Stalin managed to get his hands on the atom bomb.

Using atomic bombs on Germany, say, after it invaded the Sudetenland, would have saved the lives of innocent people in Czechoslovakia, in addition to Poland and France and so on. The people of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, and so on were not to blame for Hitler's decision to commit aggression. They therefore were under no obligation, none whatsoever, to endure one single casualty as the result of the decision of the German government to attack them.

They had every right to just push a button and make the whole problem go away if they could.

It would be nice if that button would summon angels who would just take all the Nazis away, and any German soldier who tried to use a weapon in aggression. In the real world, though, we often have to settle for less.

Ultimately, the safety of the German people is the responsibility of the German government. Other people will first take care of their own safety before trying to feed the Germans at their own expense, say, if their crops failed. Just as a bad harvest in Germany doesn't create an obligation on the part of the rest of the world to, at their own cost, feed the German people - even though we might think it nice of them if they did pitch in - so a bad government in Germany doesn't create an obligation on the part of the rest of the world to endure getting shot at in order to reduce German civilian casualties.

Basically, no one gets to get away with making a nuisance of himself. If peaceful people see soldiers with guns coming to their village to disturb them, they have the right both to stop those soldiers - and make sure there are no more coming from wherever it is they came from.

In order to eliminate any possibility that Germany could send any more soldiers marching outside its borders to shoot at people, and to do it from a distance so as not to expose a single one of your own people to enemy fire, it is probably going to be necessary to use clumsy means. But if we aren't obligated to feed the hungry at our own expense, why are we obligated to put our lives at risk to make things easier on the victims of a bad government?

J Thomas on November 27, 2010, 08:24:11 pm
Imagine for example that the USA had managed to build 500 nukes quickly, and we nuked the 500 largest cities in Germany to win the war. We would have argued afterward as you just did that if we had done something else we would have lost the war and therefore it was justified, because whatever we do is justified if it saves the Jews.

Screw the Jews.  It would be justified because it would have saved us and saved the lives of a lot of US troops.

I don't think Quadibloc would be willing to screw the Jews. He appeared to consider saving the jews a primary justification to win WWII.

How many US troops would it have saved? As it was, we lost about 150,000 troops total in the european theater. Throw in another 2000 in africa/middle-east? Here is an admittedly flawed argument which still has some truth to it -- the germans sent 3/4 of their troops to the eastern front, because that was the bigger threat. If the western forces had looked weaker, Germany would have sent more troops to the east and fewer troops west. They timed it so that both armies would meet near Berlin, and it would have happened that way except we delayed to let the Russians get their first, as part of our diplomacy with them.

If we had looked too weak the germans would have tried to push us into the sea -- as in fact they did try. But failing that, we would have advanced about the same rate even if we had fewer men available to become casualties. The germans were losing a two-front war and balancing their forces to fall back at the correct rate on both fronts. Though they did not admit they were doing so, of course.

If we had agreed to a separate peace, we could have taken Germany with essentially zero casualties. We would probably have had to make some concessions -- reduced war crimes trials, survival of the german high command, etc. But we weren't willing to double-cross our good ally the USSR.

Bomb 500 german cities to save 150,000 troops? Well, but we would not estimate 150,000. We'd estimate we'd lose millions. Maybe 3 million. Maybe 5 million. It's easy to get counterfactual estimates.


Quote
That Japan surrendered after the second nuke was a tossup.  If the coup had succeeded, they would not have surrendered.

Could the coup have "succeeded"?  What would it mean for it to succeed? I claim there was no way in hell that could have succeeded, but it could have delayed a surrender for perhaps a few weeks while they got things sorted out. How many more cities would we bomb in the meantime? I dunno. How many more bombs did we have? I did a quick search and got some hints there might have been one more bomb or maybe none. We definitely didn't have U235 for another of that kind. I don't know whether we had another plutonium bomb or not.

Quote
In which case we would have fried Japan from one end to the other, and been fully justified in doing so.

Japan was very useful to us during the cold war. I am not much interested in what JamesD considers a moral justification. He and I tend to disagree about that, and anyway it's a personal thing -- moral justifications for nations turn into just things for citizens to argue about. But in terms of what's useful -- it's hard to say whether dropping 2 bombs on Japan was useful to us. Maybe so. We had the chance to scare Stalin, and lost the chance to use it as a secret weapon. But I'm clear that dropping 500 nukes on Japan would not have been useful even if they did not surrender immediately.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 08:28:30 pm by J Thomas »

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on November 27, 2010, 09:22:05 pm
So apparently, you are giving up on your claim that there are pacifists on this Forum.

In practice, people only claim to be pacifists in relation to wars.  If someone opposes all collective violence on the basis that it is collective, he is a pacifist, just as much as if he opposed all collective violence on the basis that it is violent.

Jamesd's definition of "pacifism" is akin to those whose definition of "isolationism" excludes those who are willing and even eager to trade with outsiders, but not send military forces in to subjugate them; it suits his own ends as the expense of accuracy and reality.