Print Media

On Voting for Less Violence

|

Here's an eloquent bit of editorializing on government, violence, and coercion from Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle.

The debate over the size and scope of government, then, is an argument over when to use violence to change things and circumstances consensual activity cannot. Liberals (broadly speaking) find inequality odious and think the government should use force in the economic arena by redistributing wealth but leave individuals alone in matters of personal morality, such as whom they have sex with. Conservatives (broadly speaking) are less troubled by inequality and disdain the redistributive uses of government power. But social conservatives are outraged by immorality, as they define it, and therefore think the state should use the threat of violence to enforce personal moral codes by banning prostitution, homosexual sodomy, and the like.

Then there are a small minority of diehard libertarians who would like to minimize government involvement in both arenas, and a small minority of diehard communitarians who think government should dictate behavior of every stripe…

Force is sometimes necessary. We must have police and courts and national defense and environmental protection and so on. But government at all levels does much more nowadays than is strictly necessary, because both liberals and conservatives delight in using it to make other people do what they would not do through mutual consent.

In the wake of the butchery in Tucson, it has been nice to hear many people say we should not speak so well of violence. It would be even nicer to hear more say we should not vote for it quite so often, either.

NEXT: Taxes=Bad, Infographics=Good, Infographic on Bad Taxes=Good?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. …and a small minority of diehard communitarians who think government should dictate behavior of every stripe…

    “Communitarians”? Really?

    1. Oh, and I remember a Cato poll that showed something like 56% of people self-identified as “fiscally conservative/sociall liberal”.

      aka…

      “Then there are a small minority of diehard libertarians who would like to minimize government involvement in both arenas

      So 56% is a “small minority” now? Well, there may be a small minority who actually call themselves “libertarian”.

      1. It’s easy to say you’re fiscally conservative, and just about everyone does. Get into support for meaningful cuts to government programs, and the points drop off quickly.

        1. Go suck a dick, Tony.

          1. He really is right, for once. Almost everyone wants their own giveaway more than they want to cut out someone else’s.

            1. My wife has been influenced by my political bent the last 10 years or so but she still wants NY State to pass a budget because her employer, a nursing home, says no one gets raises until the states knows what Medicare payments will be. I told her it will be better for everyone if the whole thing implodes. And, she isn’t gonna get a raise this year anyway because they won’t agree on any budget until it’s too late.

        2. Much like “egalitarian” liberals who want to cut off trade with China so they can go back to subsistance farming.

        3. Nothing but military spending should be cut, because cutting anything else is racist.

          1. Tony is right no this time. But why not be a dick anyway?

        4. Tony|1.21.11 @ 2:53PM|#
          “It’s easy to say you’re fiscally conservative, and just about everyone does. Get into support for meaningful cuts to government programs, and the points drop off quickly.”
          Quick bragging about your strawmen, asshole.

      2. The only problem is that nobody actuall votes that way.

        In my experience, practically speaking “fiscally conservative” and “socially liberal” are in conflict with each other, because “socially liberal” seems to encompass redistribution from the rich to the po’, as well as just about any government program that can be pitched, however implausibly, as being for the Little Guy.

        And when fiscally conservative comes into conflict with socially liberal, socially liberal always seems to win.

        1. You’re either mostly a statist, or you mostly aren’t.

        2. Most people use a fairly useless definition of fiscal conservative: “I’m against spending money on things I’m against spending money on.”

          1. Let’s get fiscal, fiscal.

            1. Let me hear your bank account talk…

              1. Let me hear your state default?

            2. Damn you Pro, that is going to be in my head the rest of the day, but that was your plan, wasn’t it?

              1. Plans within plans within plans.

                1. COTTON EYED JOE

        3. “The only problem is that nobody actuall votes that way.”

          They do more than you give them credit for. This is how politics in America works: Democrats win when Republicans start wars. Republicans win when Democrats enact sweeping social programs. My realistic political ideal is a Democratic president with a Republican congress, and I’d be willing to bet a majority would share that ideal.

          1. My political ideal is a turd sandwich president with a douchebag Congress…

            1. Well then you must be absolutely thrilled right now.

            2. My political ideal is omnipotence, invulnerability, and total world domination. Since I can’t have that, apparently, I’m a libertarian.

          2. Historically, it’s been the opposite more often. Republican President and Democratic Congress.

    2. a small minority? Really?

  2. “Liberals . . . leave individuals alone in matters of personal morality . . .”

    Unless they want to smoke or eat junk food or own guns, of course.

    “Conservatives . . . disdain the redistributive uses of government power.”

    Except for the military-industrial complex, corporate farms, and an other business that contributes to their campaigns.

    There, FIFY

    1. Indeed.

      “Liberals (broadly speaking)… think the government should… leave individuals alone in matters of personal morality, including and essentially limited to whom they have sex with as long as there is no exchange of cash.”

  3. HAH! Now we see the madness unleashed by the Citizens United ruling!

    Or something…?

  4. Violence by proxy is still violence.

    1. My dingbat grandparents were Socialist Pacifists. The contradiction never occured to them. Hell, even Marx knew enough to call it the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”.

  5. On Voting for Less Violence

    Not going to happen, not as long as we’re badly-evolved shrieking apes.

    Note to self: start the Violence Party as soon as I turn 35, then run for president.

    1. as soon as I turn 35

      Damn meddlin’ kids.

      1. Well, then, you start it, oldypants. I’ll be your VP, and I promise not to murder you until I turn 35.

        1. Fool me once…

    2. Start the Violence Party now, drum up support, and then when you’re 35, run for president.

      1. The Saxon Violence Party.

        1. I can’t wait to perform the Blood Eagle on my defeated enemies.

          1. I just want to dick-rape their still-beating heart.

            1. I have money to donate to the campaign lots of rich contacts we can shakedown for big bucks who will gladly back the effort.

              I’d also like to volunteer my services to coordinate propoganda advertising and fundraising.

  6. Communitarians?that is, people who believe in the moral primacy and imperative of community?should be the last people to advocate the use of coercive force to impose communal standards.

    True community consists of moral equals coming together for a common purpose. The authority to keep people in line by force creates social hierarchies.

    People who advocate the use of force to impose social and/or economic polices are authoritarians.

    1. Communitarians are authoritarians not that silly made-up definition in your premise. They were quite above board about it back in the 1990s. I recall Etzioni or another of his ilk explaining that communitarians were fine with liberals and conservatives but that libertarians were a dangerous enemy of community and order.

      1. Libertarianism isn’t about a preference for living alone and shooting out the television set when Barry Manilow sings. A lot of libertarians might be individualists, but that’s got nothing to do with the broader philosophy. There’s nothing incompatible about libertarianism and living an Amish like lifestyle. You can just as easily mutually consent to live in groups, wear the same clothing, and worship flying monkeys as you can mutually consent to live alone and build your own jet pack.

  7. Force is sometimes necessary. We must have police and courts and national defense and environmental protection and so on. But government at all levels does much more nowadays than is strictly necessary[…][!!!]

    So much for the “and so on.”

    Gotta love these statist fucks – they sure are not ashamed of contradicting themselves in the very same paragraph.

    To me, “strictly necessary” does not include “environmental protection”, as the so-called “environment” is a pretty [and conveniently] vague concept.

    [Nor would it include police as it shows to be incompetent, and courts, as they show to violate people’s rights at the drop of a reelection bid…]

    1. Exactly, you could say that protection of property rights is strictly necessary but “environmental protection” is not.

      1. To the extent that aspects of the environment are treated as a commons (air, waterways), you could just as easily say it is.

        1. Yeah, if pollutants in the air and water would just nicely only invade my property, or if they would nicely let me know every source they are coming from when I’m in common areas or on other people’s property, then I could easily sue the Grand Polluter for violation of property rights.

    2. I assure you that Bart is not a statist. He’s dealing with limited column-inches. Only so much he can write in the space alloted for his op-ed pieces.

  8. Using a tragic act of violence to score cheap political points? Hurrah! Libertarianism has become mainstream!

    1. Actually we’re scoring points off of other people scoring points off of Tucson.

      1. We’re metascorers.

        1. And you always will be.

  9. “Liberals (broadly speaking) find inequality odious and think the government should use force in the economic arena by redistributing wealth but leave individuals alone in matters of personal morality, such as whom they have sex with.”

    Which means liberals are pimps, as they take your money but lets you keep the honey.

  10. All governments are agents of force. The government of a free society uses that force to protect the persons and property of its citizens. A government that makes its mission the acquisition of this man’s property to compensate that woman’s misfortune (real or alleged), is not the government of a free society.

    1. Re: D.R.

      All governments are agents of force. The government of a free society uses that force to protect the persons and property of its citizens.

      There’s a contradiction there, D.R. If governments rely on force, then they cannot emanate from a free society. A free society is one that exercises freedom of action, and that implies that individuals do not initiate force against one another. Governments thus only emanate from a society that is not really free, where the initiation of force exists, is ubiquitous and is the norm.

      1. But OM, the government protecting people from aggressors is not initiating force.

        1. The government doesn’t initiate force against the aggressors — it initiates force against the protected.

          I’m just sayin’.

    2. The government of a free society
      ROTFLMAO!

  11. “A developer cannot take your property by eminent domain; only government can.”

    Oh, not so fast there, gai.

  12. I want the government to provide me with Scarlett Johansson, and to use any violence necessary to do so. So, am I asking for too much?

    1. It can be done. All you need to do is buy a few steak dinners for the right congress critters.

      1. All of Congress buried under steak dinners. Full report at 11.

  13. The Nolan chart way of looking at conservatives and liberals no longer applies today. Both groups have become far more similar because they both moved towards the statist spectrum. Mainstream liberals care less and less about social freedom. Mainstream conservatives care less and less about economic freedom.

    1. I think that applies more to the political class and their respective media outlets. The rest of the country… who can say?

  14. …and a small minority of diehard communitarians who think government should dictate behavior of every stripe…

    Too bad they’re a vast majority of politicians, then. I wonder how that happens…

    1. If you go by voting patterns, I would say there is a sizable majority of communitarians in this country.

      I tend to believe revealed preferences over stated preferences, but that’s just me.

  15. Voting itself is a form of violence.

    /pack of wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner

  16. We must have police and courts and national defense and environmental protection and so on.

    Must we?

    Are tax-funded police forces the best way to protect our lives and property, or do they start by taking our property?

    Are tax-funded courts the best way to provide justice, or are there more efficient and fair means of settling disputes or publicly trying suspected criminals before punishing them?

    Does tax-funded national defense make us safer in practice, or does it create new enemies and inspire them to attack us?

    Does tax-funded and legislatively enacted environmental protection really protect the environment, or does it merely allow the politically connected to violate the property rights of others without compensation?

  17. Thanks for this informative post. I am currently using Thesis, and I am really excited with it. I am sure going to signup to the affiliate program you suggesting.

  18. Simply excellent. You have had a nice thoughts. Hope you contribute to post nice interesting stuff. relationship advice

  19. Hi.. It is a great post. Your explanation is easily understand for users.I got lot of information from this site. Thanks for sharing with me.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.