Contradictory Social Contracting

social contract

Social contract theory (the violently-enforced kind) is the slaver’s number one preferred method of convincing other people that slavery is unavoidable, a practical necessity, or most absurdly, something you actively choose.

The “volunteer slave”.

Of course they will never call what they propose slavery, or more accurately, sophisticated slavery. They will polish it up and call it something else. And yet, a piece of shit with specks of gold in it, is still a piece of shit.

I’d like to use this post to share what commenters on this blog have said about social contract in the past. I won’t provide commentary within, but I will lead with an introduction of sorts.

That introduction is the antithesis to social contract. Not a particular argument, the best argument, that must be presented whenever “social contract” is brought up. It must be brought up because it is of primary importance, for all of history, and especially right now.

That argument is : social contract, in the common use and meaning of the term, is illegal (and impossible).

By it’s supporter’s own definition, social contract is a contract. By further non-contradictory examination (and this will drive people nuts, so be prepared), contracts can only include that which can be contracted; that which is contract-able in the first place (duh).

For example, you cannot contract possession of the 19th century. Such a thing can be written into a contract, and yet, it is entirely meaningless. Meaningless to the point of being laughable.

Following this trail of non-contradictory thinking, it is therefore true to state that unalienable rights cannot be contracted.

  • Cannot be contracted because they cannot be delegated.
  • Cannot be delegated because they cannot be *alienated*.

They can be destroyed (death, or murder), violated, and even suppressed, but they cannot be separated from their original location and position, which is with an individual human being.

They key here is that they cannot be separated by any means, even if you desire to separate them. You simply do not have a say in the matter, the same way you did not have a say in when, where, and by whom you were born.

While lesser men will take this as a “limit” on their freedom, it is in fact one of the greatest freedoms man has ever, and will ever know. Whether you like it or not, your rights are yours, and no matter what happens, they cannot be any other person’s — not even with a gun raised to your face.

Here is the commentary from an older TDL post (since taken down to draft status, to be updated or left dormant). The comments are a great discussion. I have excluded my own sparse comments in the thread. The comments are presented in order, although some comments are not included (from the 60+ original comments).

~~~

From Geoff

Anyway, if you want to discuss specific ideas, I’m happy to engage you, because I really do enjoy talking about this stuff, but lets keep it to the facts. For example, this post is an outgrowth of a comment of mine on a post of yours about taxation, where you stated that taxation is immoral because it is involuntary, and I stated that it is voluntary based on the fact that we voluntarily choose to reside in a particular country.

To me, living in a country without paying taxes is kind of like eating at a restaurant and skipping out on the bill. It’s literally stealing. So we are agreeing that involuntary taxes are immoral, and a voluntary tax would be moral. Our only difference of opinion is with respect to whether taxes can be considered “voluntary.” This is a perfect example of how we basically share the same moral framework, and our disagreements are downstream of that moral framework. Not really as different as life and death, in fact, it’s a pretty minor, factual disagreement. I think my case is pretty solid, but if you have a different way of looking at it, I’m happy to hear it.

From Kevin

Geoff, was going to say something about fighting over the internet but decided to instead watch the proverbial fireworks.

Meanwhile, it seems you missed the point when you failed to recognize Anthony’s stance on taxation (stated previously) seeing forced taxation as fundamentally wrong. You are proclaiming that this wrongdoing (federal taxation) is already a given, essentially proclaiming to ‘look around at everyone doing it’ to imply that the only thing left to do now is to figure out where to trim the fat to fit some set of arbitrary moral standards.

Given the present circumstances, one cannot decide not to pay taxes without punitive consequences. This much is obvious and is well understood, yet the theme of this blog as far as I see it is about going beyond what may currently be and towards the ideal.

From Geoff

I really don’t see your chain of logic there at all. How does “taxes are voluntary as a result of the fact that one chooses voluntarily to live in a particular country” turn into “taxes are cool because everyone is doing it?” Also, you still haven’t really offered any kind of refutation of the former.

From MC

“taxes are voluntary as a result of the fact that one chooses voluntarily to live in a particular country”

Saying that is to assume that the country somehow owns the population or has a right to own them. Just so you know, a country doesn’t exist without people to name it as a country. Government doesn’t exist without people. A country, as well as government are constructs designed for people. People are not constructs designed for a country.

Being born in a country doesn’t mean the country has a right to own your life. The country doesn’t exist without people, so to imply the country owns you is to say the people own you.

What government can do however, is make available certain services for those that are willing to pay a tax for them voluntarily. Those that don’t want to pay the tax, won’t have access to those services, or only receive the services on a per transaction basis(for one larger fee, while those who want access to the services year round can choose to pay a tax).

From Geoff

No, that is a complete non-sequitur. It doesn’t assume that the country owns the people. It assumes that there is a contract between a government and its people. A contract that is passively accepted by virtue of living in the country and consuming its services.

From Kevin

Is it ironic to be ‘missing the point’ by accusing someone of committing a logical fallacy? You don’t accomplish much by labeling a coherent and directed response to the content of your argument as completely unrelated. It makes me think of you as cornering yourself.

Since when is it just for any free man to be bound by an enforced government contract of taxation by simple virtue of living? Are you hearing yourself here?

From Geoff

It’s not a coherent and direct response. Our disagreement is on the question of whether the taxes are voluntary or involuntary. Ownership does not logically follow from being in a contract with another party. That is why it is a non-sequitur.

For example, I have a contract with Netflix. I voluntarily entered into that contract with Netflix. Just because I am in a contract with Netflix, does not mean that Netflix OWNS me. If I so choose, I may exit my contract with Netflix and sign a contract with Blockbuster. In that situation, Netflix still wouldn’t own me.

Maybe you’re the one who needs to reread what he has written…

From MC

If you’re born in a country, you’re living in it voluntarily? I don’t think you had much choice in the matter. That’s about as much choice as your airplane crashing on an island, being greeted by a savage, going hunting and killing your own kill, only to have the savage come along and hack off a large part of your kill and stating, “if you don’t like it, you can leave.”

And leaving isn’t as easy as switching over to blockbuster.

What if Netflix charged you forcefully for movies without you signing a contract with them? What if Netflix just assumed you had a contract with them cause you were born in Florida? What if you didn’t watch any of their movies, but because other people did, Netflix charged you anyways?

What if there’s a better option? What if those who want to enter a contract with Netflix could pay a regular recurring fee if they choose to? Those who don’t pay that regular recurring fee, can still watch movies, but because they aren’t getting charged by Netflix regularly, they could pay on a per transaction basis what amount Netflix deems reasonable.

I don’t know shit all about Netflix, but I just used them to get my point across.

From Jah

His point is that you passively agree to the contract by remaining in it.
It’s like with religion:
Most children are born and baptized into a religion.
Some Grow up and decide to leave the religion, while most will simply go along with the contract that you were not consciously choosing yourself.

The point is the difference between a passively agreed upon contract. Like a social contract, e.g. the contract that you will associate with your family, or the one where you count yourself as belonging to a Nation-state. These are generally not consciously picked, except in rare cases, but they still remain voluntary.

You can opt out of one country and seek to become a citizen of another. (I don’t think you’ll have an easy time becoming a non-citizen)

Yes it is much like your savage, but would you then argue that you should be entitled to a “fair share” of the island, his island, just because you’re there ?

After all, you chose to travel with an unsafe airplane, and thus it a consequence of your own actions and choices that you are there.

From MC

“His point is that you passively agree to the contract by remaining in it.”

I know what his point is, and I believe it’s wrong, and immoral. Especially considering this “contract” doesn’t exist, was never signed or agreed to, is not tangible, and is also illegal.

“You can opt out of one country and seek to become a citizen of another. (I don’t think you’ll have an easy time becoming a non-citizen)”

Forced to leave your own property because if you don’t, people will steal from you, doesn’t put you in the wrong. It puts the people stealing from you in the wrong. Saying I’ve given you permission to steal from me, because I didn’t move to a better neighborhood does NOT justify you stealing from me. Saying I’m passively agreeing to being robbed is just stupid.

“Yes it is much like your savage, but would you then argue that you should be entitled to a “fair share” of the island, his island, just because you’re there ?”

I don’t think he’d have a claim to the island, and all the animals on the island. I’d understand if he had his own huts set up, and I’d stay away from them. If he wanted to take away the right to my life, and hunting for my own sake, then I wouldn’t care if he owned the island, he’d have to risk being killed if he stole from me.

“After all, you chose to travel with an unsafe airplane, and thus it a consequence of your own actions and choices that you are there.”

Yes, I walked into an airplane that read “unsafe, enter at own risk….”

……

You do realize I was comparing this to being born. Your plane suddenly going down in an explosion is not something you’ve chosen, I’d assume. Just like you can’t choose what country you’re born in, it’s completely out of your control. Specifically the being born thing, which the airplane explosion was just an analogy of.

From Geoff

The contract does exist, it’s called the legal code.

“Forced to leave your own property because if you don’t, people will steal from you, doesn’t put you in the wrong.”

No one is stealing from you. Taxes are the price of living in the country. They pay for the roads you drive on, the police force you call when your house is robbed. The fire department that comes to put out the fires you set. And yes, the food stamps and welfare checks you receive if you hit a bad run and go broke. You are welcome to debate the merits of all of these policies, but what you cannot debate is that you are passively accepting them by remaining here under those laws. Don’t really see how this qualifies as involuntary.

From MC

“The contract does exist, it’s called the legal code.”

Legal doesn’t equate to lawful. And there is a difference between a law, and a contract. You actually have to sign a contract. No one can state you’ve entered into their contract because you were born in a certain place, stepped onto a piece of property, said a certain word. It’s especially unethical to make someone automatically a part of a contract without their consent.

“You are welcome to debate the merits of all of these policies, but what you cannot debate is that you are passively accepting them by remaining here under those laws. Don’t really see how this qualifies as involuntary.”

If you’re born in a country, you had NO say in the matter. To state you’ve entered into such a contract as soon as you were born VOLUNTARILY, is a load of bullshit. “Passively accepting” it by staying in the country is nonsense as well. It’s the equivalent of stating a slave is voluntarily being enslaved because he doesn’t run away, and then telling that slave to save up his money and maybe he can get on a plane to another country and see how things work out.

I also know it’s not so easy to get a work permit when you’ve moved to another country.

“No one is stealing from you. Taxes are the price of living in the country. They pay for the roads you drive on, the police force you call when your house is robbed. The fire department that comes to put out the fires you set. And yes, the food stamps and welfare checks you receive if you hit a bad run and go broke.”

I just found it a little funny that I don’t own a car, have never called the police or been robbed to have to call them, have never called the fire department, have never used food stamps or welfare checks even when I did go broke. Sounds like a lot of my money is going to someone else.

You’ve been arguing for the slave owner and justifying his actions because he uses the money the slaves earn him, to feed them.

Though I’ve mostly been speaking of income tax.

In Canada, we didn’t have income tax until 1917. The country was doing fine before then. Income tax was only adopted because of the World War, and it was supposed to be “temporary” but even after the war ended, the powers that be thought all this money coming in was just dandy, and they should keep taking it. The people had roads, had police, had fire fighters before that tax took place.

From Jah

It’s not a discussion of the morality of the situation.

Whether it is “wrong” is completely uninteresting.

Yes. You’re born into a world that may or may not cohere to your senses of morality. Regardless, saying that they are wrong won’t make them go away.

The World is Anarchy, by nature, with us human beings projecting our “systems” onto it.
They only work the way we agree to work them, but ultimately there is no Wrong or Right, just the question of whether you belong to the bigger group of apes.

Tough fucking luck, but that’s life.

What you can do is argue and go the way of Politics, idealistically trying to export your morals onto the rest of society around you. Have an influence. What you cannot, practically, do is opt out.

You live in this world; you can either help shape it, or you can get fucked. Play the game by the rules set by the major forces until you have a circle of influence that is enough to alter the way the world moves.

Do it by words, by action, by non-action, but you’ll need the support of numbers anyway.

Illegal is just a word for what is against law. Law is determined by Power. There is no such thing as objective Morality. Just the relative, argumentative values of right/wrong dependent upon the collective ability to empathize or not.

I’m not saying that it becomes legal to steal if you live in a crime-ridden neighborhood, but I would say it is one of the aspects you are forced to accept or do something about. Move the world if it speaks against your moral fiber, but don’t pretend there are laws writ in stone that you can refer people to, because there aren’t.

From Geoff

There is absolutely an objective morality. We are all the same species, and our emotions, our drives, our desires are all hard wired into our brains for the sake of proliferation and survival of the species. The rational, objective conception of morality starts with the ethical statement that human life, and those things that further and preserve it, is good. Life is the standard of value: http://www.armchairphilosophizing.com/2011/07/premises-part-2-objective-morality.html.

The fundamental disagreement here is a matter of implementation of this morality. Anthony is attempting to frame my implementation as compromising, as giving up my life to the whimsy of the state. I’m attempting to frame him as an emotional zealot who is ignoring reality and using logical fallacies to attempt to defend an indefensible position that contradicts the concept of life as a standard of value.

From Jah

Objective in a sense, yes.

However the Philosophical Realism (Objectivism), I do not consider to stretch into the constructs of Morals.

Yes, I agree that it is correct to talk about Objective Morality when you accept the axiom that “Human Life and flourishing is positive”. In the same way that you can talk about “Good Health” similarly defined.

But. This does not imply that there are universal truths which can stand forever as statements about Morality.

Morality is dependent upon how it influences the life-forms which falls under it’s domain, and all life-forms will continue to change and evolve. Thus making Morals a variable, not a constant.

Morality, thus defined, is dependent upon the Human beings at this point in space and time.

Through Democracy, ideally, we are the state.

What other system would people here propose in order to have a steady form of influence onto questions of Morality, Law, taxes, or whatever ? (ideally, not practically.)

From Kevin

You are free to re-read it as many times as you need to wrap it around your head. maybe replace ‘cool’ with ‘a given’ and my meaning may stand out more. Accepting taxation by saying ‘well you don’t HAVE to live here, where you may or may not have been born, so just deal with the way things are or leave’ is a defeatist way to look at something that is inherently wrong regarding individual freedom.

Your picture shows a healthy, young guy. Fan of Obama-care? Involuntarily being forced to pay up for everyone else and their sick brother is ridiculous, especially if that individual is putting out a greater effort to sustain their own health.

The point? your take on the morality of voluntary taxation is questionable. Things that have a net positive effect are not bound to the current system. I would imagine an ounce of creativity would go a long way here in imagining the unfamiliar world of having the freedom to choose within a PRACTICAL frame. Think outside the box.

From Geoff

@MC

“If you were born in this country, you had no say in the matter.”

True, but your parents, who own you before the age of 18, did have say in the matter. Now that you’re 18, you are free to leave and start a contract with another country, assuming they are interested in entering into a contract with you.

Further, this idea that you cannot choose where you’re born, or more specifically, who you are born to, is an extremely important one. The genetic lottery is exactly why we need to have a social safety net to protect the poorest of the poor. http://www.armchairphilosophizing.com/2011/07/designing-moral-government-part-1.html.

@Anthony

I’m not saying that this is the only way of offering these services. I am saying that these are basic services that protect life, and as such are well within the scope of government. They are most efficiently offered by government because of economies of scale. You keep insisting that these services are paid for with involuntary taxes, but you still haven’t offered a good argument that they are involuntary. Because of this, your “at the point of a gun” statement really just does not apply.

Look, it’s possible to create a private version of these services, and make it such that you don’t have access to them if you didn’t pay into them. But that is not how we chose to do it, because we do not want to let people suffer when it is within our capacity to help them. We choose to protect life. I’ve actually heard a story about a guy whose house burned down because his county had a fire department that required a yearly fee that he didn’t pay. The fire department sat out in front of his house, and didn’t act until the fire was starting to encroach on his neighbor’s house (the neighbor paid for the service). Though well within the rules, that is a cruel way of doing business. It is anti-life. I much prefer the way that the NYC fire department is run.

From MC

“True, but your parents, who own you before the age of 18, did have say in the matter. Now that you’re 18, you are free to leave and start a contract with another country, assuming they are interested in entering into a contract with you.”

I guess I’m under the assumption that no one can own anyone else, whether it’s parents or anyone else for that matter. There is a difference between having responsibility over someone, like a teacher is responsible for their children, but they don’t own them.

If I have children someday, I sure as hell wouldn’t consider myself as owning them nor would I. You can just chalk that to a difference in views between us.

Though my parents didn’t have a say in the matter either. They didn’t sign any contracts. No one is voluntarily paying income tax. They are paying it because if they don’t, they’ll deal with some not so good consequences. No different then the mafia coming to collect “their” share of your pizzeria. You don’t want to piss off the mafia.

“Further, this idea that you cannot choose where you’re born, or more specifically, who you are born to, is an extremely important one. The genetic lottery is exactly why we need to have a social safety net to protect the poorest of the poor.”

By all means, if you want to spend your money helping the poor, then do it. There are plenty of people that have no issues spending money on charities and raising money for charities. However forcing someone to “donate” to a charity is just immoral.

From Geoff

When we are born, we are completely helpless. We are incapable of survival on our own. At some point, we become completely capable of self sufficiency. Whether that age is 18 or not is completely debatable, but I think we can agree that there is a point when children should not have the same rights as adults.

At the end of the day, we’re just bags of meat. We are capable of rational thought, but we are not beings with a soul, or some form of mystical consciousness. All of our drives, our desires, our needs are shaped by evolution with the purpose of perpetuating our DNA. This is why the idea of “selflessness” is total nonsense, a complete impossibility. This is also why taking care of ones own children is a biological imperative.

I’m done arguing this point of voluntary vs. involuntary taxes. You’re not making any kind of a case that taxes are stealing by just stating it over and over again. You’re saying that people pay taxes because if they don’t, they will get hunted by the police. While I assume that is true for some people, that is not true for moral actors. Moral actors pay taxes because they don’t believe in stealing. They don’t run out on the check after they’ve eaten at a restaurant, even if it’s more than they would have liked it to be. They pay the check, and use that check as information to inform the decision as to whether they eat at that restaurant again.

Again, it’s not forcing someone to donate money. This is the system we created with the goal of market efficiency. It may be off in some areas, but having some low level of social safety net is not one of them. When people are too poor, crime goes up. This hurts market efficiency, and is well within the scope of government, as a monopoly on force, to fix. The problem is, threatening people with jail time or death only goes so far when you’re talking about the poorest of the poor, people who will die within the next week if they don’t eat. This is just not an effective means of preventing crime from the poorest people (I imagine you can see how similar an argument this is to the case for legalize and tax in drug legislation).

A more effective way of fixing this would be to have a good public healthcare option, a good public education option, a base level public food and shelter option, etc. Because the externalities hurt us all, fixing the problem helps us all. We choose to pay a little more to do this, never mind how effective or ineffective our *current* policies are, you can see how if a government was run properly and morally, they would be.effective. But these are laws that we created, laws drafted and signed by our designated representatives. We did not directly sign the contract with government, but our delegates did, and by choosing to live under them, we passively accept them.

From MC

“You’re not making any kind of a case that taxes are stealing by just stating it over and over again.”

I’m not making any kind of case? Please read what I’ve actually written. You’re the one ignoring my arguments in favor of “just leave the country” “you don’t have to be here.”

“At the end of the day, we’re just bags of meat.”

Whatever you want to call it, human beings are the most intelligent, most emotional, creatures to exist in reality that we know of. But we’re not a bee hive. We’re not here to serve and live under a queen. Each human being is an individual, unlike any other animal out there. We have our own passions and desires, our own unique abilities. Some are great painters, some great scientists, others great architects, or even poets.

People have different personalities, body types, features, thoughts, talents, dreams. No other animal comes even close to the level of differences among humans. To claim that humans are ” just bags of meat with rational thought” is short sighted at best. It’s easy to justify taxing people’s wages against their will as “necessary” when you view human beings as such a lowly creature, fit for a bee hive.

I don’t think I’ll be changing your views anytime soon, nor will you be changing mine from the looks of it. So agree to disagree, cause this isn’t going to go anywhere.

From Geoff

That is such a sensationalist rebuttal that has no bearing on the discussion at hand. Exactly the same type of rebuttal that you have given every time. You haven’t offered any counter point to the idea of taxation being a part of a contract that is passively accepted between government and citizen. All you have done is find new and creative ways to call it “stealing.” Not once did you address the eating at a restaurant and skipping out on the check analogy, nor the idea that things like healthcare are not market goods, which is the basis of capitalism. Because you can’t. You’re not using reason, you’re an emotional zealot.

From MC

“That is such a sensationalist rebuttal that has no bearing on the discussion at hand.”

It was a response to Anthony’s comment, where in my attempt to end our conversation I said “agree to disagree.” Which was unnecessary for me to say. It wasn’t meant to add to the discussion.

The rest I intended to post in his “Dichotomies” topic, but chose to just post it wherever, knowing he’d see it. If that’s the post you’re talking about that is. Unless you’re talking about the one above it..

“You haven’t offered any counter point to the idea of taxation being a part of a contract that is passively accepted between government and citizen. All you have done is find new and creative ways to call it “stealing.””

I’m saying it is stealing by the fact that money if being taken from you that should not be taken, that no one should have the right to take. Whether they call themselves “the government” or “Joe” I’ve already explained enough about the immorality of what you’re presuming. Your presumption of a mystical contract that doesn’t actually exist, can’t be signed, seen, or even destroyed. Since your only solution to leave the “contract” is to run away from the people imposing it on you, you don’t have much of an argument for it’s legitimacy.

If I said you passively accepted being robbed, because you chose to stay and live in a bad neighborhood, even if I was right that you would be better off moving to another neighborhood, I’d be wrong to assume it’s okay that the robbers had taken your money.

I’m only repeating myself because you seem to keep missing what I’m saying.

“Not once did you address the eating at a restaurant and skipping out on the check analogy”

Has a restaurant ever charged you “in case” you eat at their restaurant sometime in the future or out of an assumption that you’d be eating there eventually? An individual shouldn’t be charged for a service they may or may not use. However if you actually eat at the restaurant, then you’d be expected to pay.

“the idea that things like healthcare are not market goods, which is the basis of capitalism”

Healthcare is a service, and you should charge for that service like any other service. When you use it. You shouldn’t be charged for a service you may or may not use.

“Because you can’t. You’re not using reason, you’re an emotional zealot.”

……..’_’

From Jah

You make unsupported claims about the emotional richness in a bee-hive.

Where do you get your rights ? Your rights to be free, to procreate, to live as you desire, to fulfill your dreams, to have dreams at all…

Yes, we have potential for many great things, but these things are not something granted to us from birth. We, mankind, have struggled for large parts of our existence, first against each other as tribes, as families, as states, as nations, as worlds. We struggle so that we may be free at the expense of others, and now we are learning that the others are ourselves.
Then we have become forced to accept that there is nothing special about our group that grants us a special claim to freedom. We are logically obligated to grant others the freedoms we desire for ourselves.

However, there is no magic behind this, so anyone is free to argue to the contrary.

If I have a world-view that grants me and my nation, or whichever society I consider myself belonging to, special rights, then there is nothing you can do to argue against this. (since your arguments will be coming from “lesser” people, dependent upon how I define the in- and out- group.)

All animals are individuals. Even bees and ants.
All animals have individually shaped desires, needs and urges.
Some animals have this to a lesser and more predictable degree than us humans.
Some animals may have this to a greater degree than us. (more clearly individualistic.)
This alone grants no special rights.

Your speciesism offends me. We are like any other social pack-animal (like crows, chimps, dolphins, etc.). Born into a group, though our group is expanding, and thereby obliged to adhere to the group’s rules (obliged in a relative sense, that you are isolated and shunned by going too much outside the social kilter)

What’s so special about humans ?

From Kevin

All life forms are similar in the sense that they are prescribed to a certain direction of DNA expression. Humans luckily landed on developing a bigger and more creative brain, risking the extra expense of maintaining it (enter cooked foods to make this possible). Being able to reflect for predicting and planning, and develop languages for our progressively complex social structure (cooperation, diplomacy, etc…), among other advantages, gives Humans a distinct advantage in survival. Enter domination of the planet’s resources and here we are – counting the days until the apes take over ;) .

“If I have a world-view that grants me and my nation, or whichever society I consider myself belonging to, special rights…”

It is only when one subjects the truth (any truth, for that matter) of individual freedom, morality, etc. to his own personal beliefs that there are issues. Food for thought: what does it means to ‘believe the truth’ (notice no capitalization)? The point is to realize that there is no actual “in- or out-group” other than those constructed by yourself in an effort to define your own identity. Our nationality, our family, our friends, these are all transient ideas we construct through rational reflection (I was born in the US, raised by X, and grew up with Y). This discussion reveals that some of these ‘constructs’, such as income tax and the draft, are created independently of us and yet are sort of sold to be part and parcel of the legitimate ones (You certainly ARE a US citizen, so you are ALSO an obligate tax payer, because all US citizens pay this invented tax and that’s just how it is!). Smells fishy in here, doesn’t it?

From Geoff

Not really, because these policies were created by elected delegates.

Our system is broken in other ways: particularly campaign finance, which leads to irrational corporate welfare. But just like it’s not immoral for Israel to require that its citizens serve in the army for a couple of years because it is part of the social contract between government and citizen, it is not immoral for the US government to tax us, though specific taxes may be irrational and/or immoral if they do not meet the criteria I have laid out here: http://www.armchairphilosophizing.com/2011/08/designing-moral-government-part-4.html.

“Enter domination of the planet’s resources and here we are – counting the days until the apes take over ;) .”

Not sure how comfortable I feel about joking about the end of the human species, because it probably will happen. I predict that it will take the form of a nuclear holocaust as a result of food shortages as the world’s population approaches 20 billion. I think that we can all agree that this is a fate worth preventing, and evangelism of rationality is probably not a sufficient preventative measure, particularly in the face of people who believe in god and an afterlife. Of course, on the flipside, instigating wars without cause is probably not a very good solution either.

From Jah

Take for a moment the standpoint that all truth is subjective.

(of course there are subjective unversalities, things which will be equally true in all subjective assessments, but these are rare and far between. These are what we argue in order to find, common ground/standards.)

nitpicking: Apes already dominate.

That’s the point.
The groups are defined by ourselves.

I actually like paying tax.
I would be willing to pay more.

But; The contract that taxation is demands two sides.
For the money I pay in tax, I demand certain standards.
I demand a functioning Health-service, elementary Security and Legal constructs, Roads, Firemen, etc.

Now I might want to argue with my providers whether or not they are actually providing the services as per my standards, or whether they are too far removed from my situation to understand my needs. Which in turn affects my desire and willingness to pay taxes. (Even if I were to pay 50% in taxation, I consider the deal I’m getting a fairly good one. Do some Game-Theory and find out what your limits are.)

Now, I have to consider, would I be better off getting 100% of what I earn, straight in my pocket, and from there choosing which services I consider important enough to pay for.
A world without government.

Well; we can look to the Italian situation, where corruption is high. You pay feudal lords (mafia) for protection and the “right” to work in an area. They have no real rules/laws which tell you what to expect from them in return, just a “gentleman’s agreement” that you give them money, they don’t beat you up or run you down.

Is that desirable ?

Ideally we would not need Government, at all.
However this demands that all individuals reflect on civic “duties” and support each other in building a better society.
That all seek a common goal, and have common interests.

Like all social animals, when you go too much against the societal norm, you get trampled, destroyed.
Having a Government, with a functioning legal-system, may prevent that, but you’ll always have to deal with the bigger group and the stronger leader.

We’re not at a place in time and mental evolution where we are able to put down our hierarchical structures, stop listening to authority and consider ideas on their own merit. We are, naturally, predisposed towards Authorities, and the majority will continue to be this way for a long time.

From MC

@Jah

You make unsupported claims about the emotional richness in a bee-hive.”

The point I made wasn’t to discuss whether or not bees can feel emotion. It was to point out that our lives should be free to live for our own purpose. Every bee is only there to live for the hive, to live for the queen. My point is we aren’t, and shouldn’t be bees. To live for the tribe, for government, for a king shouldn’t be your idea of ideal.

“Where do you get your rights ? Your rights to be free, to procreate, to live as you desire, to fulfill your dreams, to have dreams at all…”

I get them from myself.

“Then we have become forced to accept that there is nothing special about our group that grants us a special claim to freedom. We are logically obligated to grant others the freedoms we desire for ourselves.”

Respect your own right to freedom, and you automatically respect other’s right to freedom. Freedom cannot be given to you by some other person, otherwise that would mean you had been enslaved. Freedom given to you by some other person, is more akin to abandonment. “I no longer want to deal with you slave. I’ll LET you be free.” You cannot grant someone else freedom. Freedom is your birth right.

“All animals are individuals. Even bees and ants.”

What I stated was “each human being is an individual, unlike any other animal out there” and “no other animal comes even close to the level of differences among humans.” I didn’t say other animals cannot be individuals or have individual characteristics.

“All animals have individually shaped desires, needs and urges.”

“All” animals? If you can find two bees that have just one desire, need, or urge that is different, I would be surprised.

“Some animals have this to a lesser and more predictable degree than us humans.
Some animals may have this to a greater degree than us. (more clearly individualistic.)
This alone grants no special rights.”

Who’s granting who rights? Somebody else should have a say as to whether you should be allowed to live, or be free?

“Your speciesism offends me.”

If taking pride in the fact that humans are more then “sacs of meat with rational thought” offended you, then I couldn’t care less, since my comment was only meant to address the comment that Geoff made which regarded humans as something I wouldn’t even call an animal. A “sac of meat.” Even animals deserve better sentiment then that.

“We are like any other social pack-animal (like crows, chimps, dolphins, etc.). Born into a group, though our group is expanding, and thereby obliged to adhere to the group’s rules (obliged in a relative sense, that you are isolated and shunned by going too much outside the social kilter)

What’s so special about humans ?”

Humans have something all those animals you listed don’t have the ability to realize. The ability to transcend nature. The ability to not be subject to the concept of “group rule” and living under a leader/king that can decide their fate “for the sake of the group.” We can actually combat the ruthless aspects of nature. We have the ability to shape this world towards an ideal. We have the ability to discover things that would be outside the grasp of any animal. We have the ability to create.

From Jah

I disagree.

Mostly for the sake of argument, but also because I do think there is a difference between the motivation of every single individual construct and aspect of nature.

As long as the entity is in an individual location in spacetime it doesn’t matter whether or not it has completely similar neurology, it will still act differently and be affected by reality in a different way than it’s twin.

Anyway;
our ability to “transcend” is not truly an ability outside nature is it ? (nitpicking I know, but I’ve got a point hidden here)

I argue that as long as we are an aspect of nature (which we will remain for all foreseeable future, in my view) we will be subject to nature’s laws. As long as you do not allow the invocation of supernatural entities, and I don’t, there is nothing inherit in nature which grants you rights to do anything.

Your rights have to be argued forth between you and your equals, and if you find yourself unable to argue them, or find yourself unable to be accounted for as an equal, you have no rights.

Rights are mental/memetic constructs.
They are relative, in the way that all memetic constructs are, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to uncover a fundamental, objective standard to them.

To take a concrete example.
in 2007 there was a push to include a clause in the UN declaration of Human Rights. The clause, you might remember, was to include universal laws against Blasphemy, or more diplomatically: “Combating the Defamation of Religion”.
Had this been voted forth and accepted, your Human Rights would include a right to Not have your religion be offended.

Our rights are subject to argument, struggle and diplomacy. We do not uncover articles writ in stone, we have to write them ourselves, amend them and test our beliefs.

It is impossible to state that something is Morally True forever, and will always be so.
Or that you have an Eternal Right. (whatever the fuck that might mean.)

Would your argument extend if it turned out that e.g. Crows could create societies, and discover/uncover laws of nature through dialogues and scientific thought ? (hypothetically)

What is your criteria for having these rights extended to another species ?

From MC

“our ability to “transcend” is not truly an ability outside nature is it ?”

By transcend nature, I meant transcend what would otherwise be impossible without human intelligence. Like the ability to build a giant metal structure that can propel itself to outer space and make a landing on the moon.

A giant metal rocket was not a natural born instinct of any human. It was an idea put forth by an individual who had to think.

“Our rights are subject to argument, struggle and diplomacy. We do not uncover articles writ in stone, we have to write them ourselves, amend them and test our beliefs.”

My view is that no one should be able to argue over your rights in the first place. No one should have the right to take away your life, unless you try and take away their right to life first. I extend this same right to any animal. If I try and eat a bison for food, it has every right to defend itself and even kill me to prevent itself from being eaten.

That is a natural right. You also don’t have the right to take away my freedom of expression. To do so, you would have to enact force on me first, therefore I have the right to defend my right. Government should be here to defend our natural born rights. Not to fuck around with them, and decide which rights we can/cannot have.

“It is impossible to state that something is Morally True forever, and will always be so.”

I think I just did the impossible.

“Crows could create societies, and discover/uncover laws of nature through dialogues and scientific thought ? (hypothetically)

What is your criteria for having these rights extended to another species?”

I really haven’t taken the time to think out how rights should/shouldn’t work for animals to any significant degree. However, every animal does have the right to defend itself. That’s not a right I’ve given it, it’s just a natural right it would freely act upon. However, humans and animals can never get along perfectly, for the same reasons lions and gazelles will never get along perfectly.

Animals will eat other animals, steal food from other animals, mark their own territories, and defend their territories. We are no different to that extent. My point in transcending nature is preventing negative aspects of nature that may effect humans negatively, or be morally wrong.

Meaning we as a species, have the ability to say, “hey that guy worked hard to hunt down that deer, so he earned that deer. We don’t have the right to just take it.” While a lion won’t care if a hyena took out a gazelle, the lion will just think to scare the hyena off so it can eat the gazelle for itself.

The lion might be doing what it is doing out of the need for survival, and partly out of laziness to hunt it’s own gazelle. We as a species have the capability of realizing what makes natural moral sense. Stealing is wrong, therefore people shouldn’t be allowed to steal. It is your natural right to not be stolen from. This right is not given to you, you are born with it. If someone tries and take away your right, you have the right to defend yourself with lethal force if necessary.

From Geoff

“If someone tries and take away your right, you have the right to defend yourself with lethal force if necessary.”

Yes, but in those situations, whether you successfully defend your life or get killed is never assured. For this reason, we would prefer to not have to defend our life, which is why we have created a monopoly on force to defend it for us. The threat of force from our government in response to acts of force from other individuals prevents said acts, and gives us the breathing room we need to use our minds to create and add value to the world. Creation happens during times of peace. Pax Romana, Pax Mongolica, Welcome to Pax Americana.

The important point here is that WE created the government, and we did so for this specific reason. We pay created this system voluntarily, and we choose to live under it voluntarily. The question of taxation is totally amoral because it represents the terms of a contract voluntarily agreed upon by both parties.

This pseudointellectual fear mongering is misplaced, and it cockblocks your agenda. There are immoral laws, and there are immoral taxes, but the concept of law in the abstract, like the concept of tax, is not immoral in and of itself.

From MC

“Yes, but in those situations, whether you successfully defend your life or get killed is never assured. For this reason, we would prefer to not have to defend our life, which is why we have created a monopoly on force to defend it for us. The threat of force from our government in response to acts of force from other individuals prevents said acts, and gives us the breathing room we need to use our minds to create and add value to the world. Creation happens during times of peace. Pax Romana, Pax Mongolica, Welcome to Pax Americana.”

Yup.

“The important point here is that WE created the government, and we did so for this specific reason. We pay created this system voluntarily, and we choose to live under it voluntarily. The question of taxation is totally amoral because it represents the terms of a contract voluntarily agreed upon by both parties.”

When you say “we” you mean people other then you and I. No one agreed to most forms of taxation. In Canada, income tax was something that was created out of World War, and once it was no longer necessary, it should have been abolished. The people didn’t get together and vote to have their income taxed.

The first emperor of China I believe took the weapons of his citizens, and made it illegal to own a weapon. He did this so no one could threaten his rule. Again, no one voted for it, or chose for that to happen voluntarily. You’re saying that everything government does is is voluntarily agreed upon? No, people do it because they feel they have no choice, but to go along with it or suffer the consequences.

“This pseudointellectual fear mongering is misplaced, and it cockblocks your agenda.”

……..’_’

“There are immoral laws, and there are immoral taxes, but the concept of law in the abstract, like the concept of tax, is not immoral in and of itself.”

To quote myself: “make available certain services for those that are willing to pay a tax for them voluntarily. Those that don’t want to pay the tax, won’t have access to those services, or only receive the services on a per transaction basis.” I never said all tax is the devil, must kill.

From MC

“As it should. Not paying taxes is literally stealing.” – Geoff

If you actually read what I wrote, several times now, than you would have read how you would still pay for the things you use, but only when you actually fucking use them. You wouldn’t pay for another person’s health care via taxes, you would pay for your own health care when you need it. You wouldn’t pay for a service you might need in the future, you pay if you actually use it. Per transaction.

For those that want access to those services year round, even if they don’t use it, then they can pay up a tax “just in case.”

“Of course when you skip out on the check, you’re going to be penalized. Not paying taxes makes you a parasite.”

You mean that check they’re charging you, even though you haven’t eaten at their restaurant, but they’re assuming you’re going to eventually? That check?

If I don’t go to the doctor’s office ever or rarely, and a lot of people go every few months, and it’s my money going towards other people’s health care, I’m the parasite? I’m being a parasite by claiming I want to take care of myself, and use the money when I actually need the services? By not accepting other people’s tax money as well to pay for my shit, I’m being a parasite?

From Geoff

“If you actually read what I wrote, several times now, than you would have read how you would still pay for the things you use, but only when you actually fucking use them.”

Ordering services in a piece-wise fashion is makes them more expensive, so that’s number one. More importantly though, the reason why we pay “just in case” is because if you have read what I have written over and over again, the things that taxes are paying for are not market goods. If one needs them, it means his life is in danger. You still haven’t provided any argument in response to the assertion that something like healthcare is not a market good and as such cannot be efficiently traded without using LIFE as a bargaining chip.

Further, it is impossible to not consume any government services. By virtue of living within a country’s borders, you are using its military, police, roads, environmental agency, its checking account insurance, etc etc etc.

From MC

“Ordering services in a piece-wise fashion is makes them more expensive, so that’s number one.”

More expensive for who? The people who frequently use the services, that’s who. As it should be.

“More importantly though, the reason why we pay “just in case” is because if you have read what I have written over and over again, the things that taxes are paying for are not market goods. If one needs them, it means his life is in danger. You still haven’t provided any argument in response to the assertion that something like healthcare is not a market good and as such cannot be efficiently traded without using LIFE as a bargaining chip.”

It’s a service. When you go to the doctor, you pay the doctor for the service that doctor provided. Somebody’s paying the doctor either way. It should be the people that actually need and use that doctor that pay for him.

“Further, it is impossible to not consume any government services. By virtue of living within a country’s borders, you are using its military, police, roads, environmental agency, its checking account insurance, etc etc etc.”

At the end of the day, government services are essentially a bunch of different individuals getting paid. The government itself is just serving as the middle man. Cut out the middle man, and the people that actually use the services should pay for them.

 

Bonus tip : “the law” is not a floating abstraction, as conventional wisdom would have you believe. Not only can you not contract unalienable rights … you, we, I, him, her, all of us, cannot make “the law” whatever we so desire.

This is a fundamental mistake most people today make, even “strict constitutionalists” (who believe the federal constitution can be amended any way a group of people so choose: false).

What does this mean?

It means that while it is important that “you didn’t sign shit”, it is more important that even if you “signed shit”, social contract would still be illegal and impossible.

Please allow that last sentence to sink in.

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at TheDreamLounge.net and Declarationism.com.

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2 Responses to Contradictory Social Contracting

  1. Aiston March 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    The Manosphere is a big pimper of “social contract”. They say women have an obligation to provide affection and sex to men simply because those men exist in the same society and/or do things that “nice guys” do like work a job and don’t commit crimes. Simply existing entitles these men to any woman of their choice, at least they think so. That this is not the case gave birth to the Manosphere.

    They’d also think the government should assign them girlfriends/wives, like off an assembly line. See here;
    http://governmentsgetgirlfriends.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/a-call-to-us-involuntary-celibates/

    As far as taxes, it might be a better system if we could choose which areas our individual taxes go to. I wouldn’t give a single cent to military expansion and wars. I probably would check off Health Care as something to contribute to provided it included chiropractic and other forms of alternative medicine like Ayurveda.

    The ancient East Indian self-sustaining village mini-republics was probably the best form of social organization this planet ever knew. But then the population boom poses a problem for re-instituting that system today world wide.

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