I changed my mind. This is no longer my slice of the American Dream pie. It is now just a place for me to bitch.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Definition of Government

You can throw out your old poli-sci book, here George Orwell defines the nature of government perfectly:

I understand how," said Winston Smith, the pathetic heretic of Nineteen Eight-Four, "but I don't understand why." Why does the Party do all this? One of its leaders explains:

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others were cowards and hypocrites. They never had the courage to recognize their motives. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. How does one man assert his power over another? By making him suffer. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. In our world, there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement—a world of fear and treachery and torment. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever."

Orwell may have been a socialist, but not even the most ardent libertarian could find fault with this characterization.

11 Comments:

Blogger handsome joe said...

no one could find fault? can you say that? if somebody's motivated enough they can find fault in anything. just because you say they can't doesn't give what you've written anymore merit. but that aside; "the object of torture is torture." and "how does one man assert his power over another? by making him suffer." well to make someone suffer is to torture them, but the object of torture is clearly not to assert one's power but rather it is, in and of itself, the means and the end, at least according to his previous statement. unless he meant that the object of torture is power, and the object of power is to torture to assert this power. that seems to make more sense, but that's not what he's saying. i hate writing in this little box, it's too hard to review thoughts. fuck it.

8:24 AM

 
Blogger handsome joe said...

well now i can see what i just wrote above, so i'll continue. okay, so maybe the whole "object of persecution is persecution. object of torture...." thing was all for literary effect, i can buy that, i appreciate it what for it is. as it pertains to power though, it's a very narrow minded view of power. power isn't limited to "fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement." a parent has power over a child, but surely love and compassion come into play somewhat. it is obvious that the goal of power is power, but the nature of that power, and the motivation behind gaining it, isn't always as treacherous as orwell defines. power has to be achieved to impose order, which can be unrestricting as freedom of religion, or as restricting as to condemn murder. power isn't inherently evil, and neither is government. just bush and chenney.

8:47 AM

 
Blogger Dennis Shoup said...

Wrong Joe old bean, first I said that an ardent libertarian couldn't find fault with this characterization, even though it was made by a socialist. Secondly, you shouldn't conflate suffering and torture. It is true that torture causes suffering but so do many other shitty things done by the state, torture only applies to actions taken against a particular individual to produce anguish. Orwell's point was that those who hold the levers of power are not interested in "bringing about a better world" or any of that crap, they simply want to push you around. And yes in the end this is what all governments are about, not just the current bunch of goons. Remember Clinton sent troops all over the world to kill people as well, with pretexts just as flimsy as those used by Bush for his Iraqi misadventure. You talk about a parent having power over a child, and this is also somewhat innacurate. Power implies the ability to force someone to act in a certain way. Parents have an authority rooted in their status as provider (food shelter and whatnot) and custom (children tend to go along with their parents' wishes but it is not based in brute force. It may be argued that parents can spank their kids or whatever, but who but a barbarian would confer on parents the power to brutalize or kill their children at their discretion? Governments take this type of power for granted, the only thing that restrains their infamies is the need to avoid rocking the boat too much, but even this weakens over time, they regulate the media, they control the schools, they involve us in wars which breeds an atmosphere where dissent is classified as sedition and lunatics call for the death of anti-war activists. While there may be the occasional "good guy" in a government post, and there are big businesses that make money of government action, these interests don't steer the ship. They serve the purpose of confering respectability on the government and provide it with the material means of furthering its own power respectively. Power (the ability to coerce someone into an action for any reason other than defense) is always evil. Government is rooted in theft and brutality, therefore it is also intrinsically evil ex objecto. Bush is no different from any of the other thugs who have sat on the throne in Mordor (DC) they just didn't have the convenient excuse of Sept 11 to use to further their quest for power. Look behind Bush and see the greater evil- the state.

11:19 AM

 
Blogger handsome joe said...

Ok, I know what you said, I read it, my point is that you often say that the opposing party would have to agree with certain points in order to help solidify them, which isn't necessarily true. Though, sometimes it might be, so whatever. As for the torture for tortures sake argument, I still don't agree. You said "torture only applies to actions taken against a particular individual to produce anguish," and Orwell says "how does one man assert his power over another? By making him suffer." and you tell me not to conflate the two? You both are saying the same thing respectively about each term. You're both talking about actions against an individual to cause physical or mental anguish as a means of punishment or coercion. Apples and apples. As far as parents go, it is fear and implied use of force that causes children to obey. “Do you want me to get your father?!” Those words will stop a kid in his tracks, and not because the kid respects his father as a provider or out of respect for what is considered customary. It’s because his father can potentially inflict much pain and discomfort. A parent can limit freedoms. A parent can rescind privileges. A parent can eliminate comforts that we have come to take for granted. How is this not power? If it is power, is it not motivated by more than the acquisition of more power. My point was I don't agree that the only reason to possess power is to be powerful. -- I'm trying to make this short because I've been meaning to reply, but have been hella busy at work.— It is impossible to do good without power, even if doing nothing is the best course of action one has the ability to do something, and therefore still has the power.
My point is that people are just as bad as they are good, and that someone needs to control the masses one at a time. Not to protect them from themselves, but to protect them from me, and vice versa. If government is indeed evil, then it is a necessary one. And since people are not wholly good, neither can we expect our government to be. Unfortunately there is no black and white. Good and evil are matters of theory. We can’t expect government to be perfect, and we can’t expect it to disappear. Things will always be governed by those with power; all we can do is attempt to give power to those who will use it most virtuously, which again can very well be a matter of opinion. Unfortunately the solution to government is also the root of a slew of other problems. So in the words of the late great Bobby McFerrin – Don’t worry, be happy.

12:00 PM

 
Blogger Michael David Petrovich said...

You guys still arguin' down here?

2:32 PM

 
Blogger handsome joe said...

i told you, i've been busy. barely enough time to photoshop bowling balls over here.

3:07 PM

 
Blogger Dennis Shoup said...

Joe, you are wrong about the parents thing. i did not say that a parent lacked the ability to beat his child, and that this might prove a disincentive for a child to misbehave (though more likely it will turn him into a thug in later life), my point was that there is no such thing as legitimate arbitrary authority, A parent beats his kid, what is to keep the kid from simply running away or joining a family that will treat him better? Absent the gestapo tactics of the state, the only recourse of the father is to kill the kid or cripple him or something to prevent him from leaving. Now if you subscribe to the notion that the father's authority rests in his ability to inflict harm you can not say that he is out of line in using any amount of violence against his kid for whatever reason at all. If however you assume that the child has rights as a human being you must concede that the only reason that he acquaieces to his parents' demands is that he views them as legitimate because he gets something (food shelter, etc.) from the arrangement. Continuing on, you describe the need of some force to keep people from killing eachother. Very well and good, the problem is that you assume this is compatible with the state. Well the state killed 200 million people in the 20th century, that's a hell of a lot more than private murderers did. Law and state are separate, and actually mutually exclusive concepts, if law is to exist it must apply evenly, if the state exists (as a monopolist on the use of force) the law only applies to it to the extent it says it does. Where does this lead us-- all kinds of bad shit. I will concede that there is no such thing as perfect, but it is entirely possible and vastly preferable to live in a society without a state. I don't think I addressed all of your concerns, I might later, but for now I grow tired of this.

11:13 AM

 
Blogger Michael David Petrovich said...

Joe has won by attrition! I got the feeling he was in it more for distance.

1:17 PM

 
Blogger handsome joe said...

Oh snap! Alright, are you kidding me about the parent thing? Seriously, you think a three year old gives a damn that their dad pays the heating bill? Or that they think it's even a possibility that they would be cast out of the household, or starved? No, they don't. I’m not saying it is necessary to beat children, and it is definitely not necessary to kill them or cripple them. Hell, if you’re good enough at punishing and manipulating children you may never have to lay a hand on them, but you will have to assert your authority in some way. Whether it is by restricting freedoms or the use of physical violence, maybe it escalates to a spanking, heaven forbid, but the child will need And I “can’t say he is out of line using any amount of violence against the kid for whatever reason at all”? Of course I can, and I can say the same about the state. The state shouldn’t use, oh, what’s it called, cruel and unusual punishment, but they should and must have the authority to enforce certain restrictions of behavior for the greater good. And I don’t mean to limit it to murder. I don’t like getting raped and robbed much either. In fact, I don’t even like to have a stranger walk up and punch me in the face, maybe that should be illegal as well. But to simply say it’s illegal means nothing without consequence for noncompliance.
So the state killed a lot of people, huh. That’s bad. But so is being a Nazi, so I’m kinda glad they did like they done in a couple of instances.
-got called into a meeting, now I too grow tire of this.-
I like what you said about law and state, preach on, but I think we might be able to go back and forth on some of the other stuff for awhile. I’m going home, then I’m going to mardi gras, so I’m done for awhile. Take it easy like George and Wheezy

2:54 PM

 
Blogger Dennis Shoup said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:19 PM

 
Blogger Dennis Shoup said...

Alright Joe, I guess that instead of starting a whole new thread I will try to address your question about the rights of parents and children. Y9our claim, if I do not misunderstand, is that like it or not the parent child relationship is governed by the superior brute force that the parent can muster. Okay, question, by what right does the parent claim to be allowed to boss the kid around? It has to be more than "because I said so". If that is the standard than whoever can beat you up or produce more guns or whatever has the right to command you to do anything. No Joe, the parents' authority rests in the fact that they provide food and shelter. While a three year old might not be aware of the outside world a ten year old sure is. If the ten year old says "I've had it up to here with your stinking rules!", absent government intervention he would have every right to leave and go out on his own, or find someone else willing to take him in (hopefully not a mincing pedophile). The parent has no metaphysical claim on the child, one assumes that if it is a functional family the parents and child won't part ways until it is mutually agreeable but the bond is not properly enforcable by some outside agency. Authority rests in consent or it doesn't, if it does then there is no such thing as a legitimate government, if it doesn't then might makes right and whoever is the strongest gets his way and we just have to live with that. If you google slow loris there is a link to a shitload of pictures one of them is an albino slow loris.

8:25 PM

 

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