George Dance at the Nolan Chart- The Social Contract: The Myth

Originally posted at The Nolan Chart:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” That may be the most famous thing Gandhi ever said (even if Gandhi never actually said it). Certainly it was true of Gandhi’s own movement; and it seems true of many others as well.

In my years as a libertarian, I have seen our movement go through three of those four stages. For a long time, libertarian thought was mainly ignored. Then came a period of articles making fun of those silly libertarians wanting to ‘privatize sidewalks’ and the like. Now it seems that we are definitely in the ‘fight’ stage. Not a week goes by without some article on the Web bitterly assailing libertarians and libertarian ideas.

Normally I ignore; but a while ago I read a most remarkable article that calls for comment: “The Libertarian Delusion” by a Mr. James Luko. What is remarkable is not that Luko dislikes libertarian ideas – his biography does identify him as a career bureaucrat, after all – but how he argues against them.

Luko takes umbrage with an earlier article,”The Delusion of Consent” by libertarian James Goodfellow, who argues that the power to tax is illegitimate because it is based on coercion; to which Luko responds:

this does not make it true just because Libertarians say so. There is a big difference in what libertarians assert as government being coercive and having a government which uses force legitimately…. If the government’s use of force was NOT legitimate – the author would be correct, but since it is legitimate then the author is incorrect.(1)

What makes government’s use of force legitimate, according to Luko, is something called the “social contract”:

“The Delusion of Consent” soundly ignores the theory of Social Contract, whereas the author asserts that collection of taxes is plunder, stealing, illegitimate coercion…. where coercive action is taken in relation to taxes, and the implicit threat of its use by the state, is NOT plunder nor illegitimate delegation of power – but rather “enforcement of a contract” that in return for government goods and services – one pays taxes…. The author’s argument ignores the theory of social contract, yet, that is what the author himself participates in.

Indeed, if it were true that Goodfellow and other libertarians have all agreed to pay taxes, and even made a contract to do so, then they should just shut up and pay up. But, of course, a claim is not true just because Luko says so, either. So, since Luko urges us to “separate rationalism from empiricism,” and since his claims that this “social contract” exists and that we all participate in it are undoubtedly empirical, let us see what empirical evidence he offers for them. Before we do that, though, it may be useful to take a look at what exactly that “contract” is supposed to be.

The “Social Contract”As Luko claims a historical knowledge not possessed by the average libertarian (“How little you know of history and government,” he tells one libertarian critic of his article), one might expect him to share the history of the “social contract” theory. Surprisingly, he does nothing of the kind. But no matter; let us do that for him.

While the concept can be traced back to Plato, discussion of the theory usually begins with the 1651 book, Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Hobbes’s archaic diction is not all that quotable; but this is a fair summary of his book’s thesis:

Hobbes speaks of a “Covenant;” he does not use the term “Social Contract.” The latter term comes from a later writer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1775), author of Du Contrat Social (1762). Rousseau has sometimes been called a libertarian because of that book’s famous opening line: “Man is born free, and is everywhere in chains;” however, its content has little to do freedom, and more with justifying the chains. Here is Rousseau description of the “contract” and its terms:

Properly understood, these clauses come down to one — the total alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to the whole community…. Each man in giving himself to everyone gives himself to no-one; and the right over himself that the others get is matched by the right that he gets over each of them…. Filtering out the inessentials, we’ll find that the social compact comes down to this: ’Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.'(3)

Hobbes and Rousseau disagree on who gets to form the government – Hobbes wants an absolute monarch, while Rousseau prefers “the whole community” – but both are equally “totalitarian,” as Jenkins puts it. Both agree that individual people have no rights against their government – that government may do whatever it wants to them – because they consent, or agree, to let it do so.

Luko’s “Contract”

Luko may object that he doesn’t want that kind of a contract, and his own variant does sound milder; his terms are simply that “the government is not a private citizen and has the people’s consent to collect taxes – in return for government goods and services.”

But consider: Who decides how much tax a government can collect? That government. And who decides what “goods and services” a government shall provide, and to whom? The same government. So what Luko’s “contract” comes down to is: The people consent to their government taking whatever money and resources it wants, from whomever it wants, and doing whatever it wants with them.

A rather “totalitarian” view. And why should it be limited to taxes? If one believes that everyone consents to government doing whatever it wants to them, on this one matter; on what basis can one deny that everyone consents to government doing whatever it wants to them, on any matter? If a government bans some product you like to use, or some action you like to perform: didn’t you consent to that ban? If a government puts you in prison: didn’t you go voluntarily? If a government agent kills someone: wasn’t that really a form of suicide?

Who would ever agree to such terms? Who is ever asked to agree to them? Well (surprise, surprise!), in Luko’s view no one has to agree – no one even has to be asked – because it turns out we have already agreed.

When, where and how? Did any of us sign such a contract? Of course not; but Luko claims that such formalities can be dispensed with:

One does not need to sign a contract in order to have a “bilateral agreement” and the social contract model is just such a case, in return for protection – goods and services – citizens pay taxes – this needs no further confirmation, signings, acknowledgements, etc. etc…. tacit acceptance of the American social contract does give consent to the legitimacy of taxation – just as consent to any contract gives legitimacy of enforcement of a contract.

Fair enough; we can make and keep agreements without signing a contract; but (“tacitly” or not) we have to have agreed to the “social contract” at some time, somewhere, somehow. So when, where, and how is that supposed to have happened?

Luko’s argument from voting

Luko first claims that we consent by voting: “we have elections which confirm the legitimacy of the government at all levels“. But that will not do: one cannot infer explicit consent to anything from the fact of an election. Many people (sometimes a majority) do not vote at all; of those who do vote, many (often a majority) do not vote for the side that wins; even many of those who do vote for the winners are really just voting against someone else. So how is this evidence that everyone consented to anything?

Why, it turns out to be “tacit” consent in every case: on the “social contract” view, voters for the winning and losing candidates, and non-voters, too, are all consenting in their own way. Herbert Spencer poured scorn on such reasoning almost 200 years ago:

Perhaps it will be said that this consent is not a specific, but a general one, and that the citizen is understood to have assented to every thing his representative may do, when he voted for him. But suppose he did not vote for him; and on the contrary did all in his power to get elected some one holding opposite views — what them? The reply will probably be that, by taking part in such an election, he tacitly agreed to abide by the decision of the majority. And how if he did not vote at all? Why then he cannot justly complain of any tax, seeing that he made no protest against its imposition. So, curiously enough, it seems that he gave his consent in whatever way he acted — whether he said yes, whether he said no, or whether he remained neuter! A rather awkward doctrine this. Here stands an unfortunate citizen who is asked if he will pay money for a certain proffered advantage; and whether he employs the only means of expressing his refusal or does not employ it, we are told that he practically agrees; if only the number of others who agree is greater than the number of those who dissent. And thus we are introduced to the novel principle that A’s consent to a thing is not determined by what A says, but by what B may happen to say!(4)

Luko’s argument from residence

Perhaps Luko sees a problem with that argument, because he offers another: one consents to a government’s actions by living on its territory: “since the author of “Delusion of Consent” has not left America, he accepts the social contract theory. Unless the author is revolting or emigrating from America, the author is consummating the legitimacy of our government – end of story.”

That is hardly the “end of story,” as Luko doubles down on the claim: “Unless you leave the United States, which you are perfectly able and free to do so, you are “voluntarily” consenting to the American social contract – therefore – NO coercion.”

Just for good measure, he triples down: “The USA, unlike North Korea, is NOT forcing you to stay in America, nor to work, you remain in the USA because you like the end product that American government gives you – better than Canada, Mexico, Russia – etc. otherwise you would have moved to those countries. The stamp of consent is all over your life without hesitation.”

Given Luko’s claimed historical expertise, he must know that David Hume (1711-1776) dealt with that argument more than 200 years ago:

Can we seriously say that, a poor peasant or artizan has a free choice to leave his country, when he knows no foreign language or manners, and lives from day to day, by the small wages that he acquires? We may as well assert, that a man, by remaining in a vessel, freely consents to the dominion of the master; though he was carried on board while asleep, and must leap into the ocean and perish, the moment he leaves her.(5)

Luko’s argument from non-violence

Luko does seem aware of the problems with using residence (as well as voting) as evidence of consent; and seems to concede that his use of those phenomena as evidence of consent was mere handwaving. For, when questioned, he abandons both and comes up with a third bit of supposed evidence. That occurs in a supplement to his article, in which he argues that the government of North Korea – which has no elections, and, as he already noted, does not allow its citizens to emigrate – also governs purely by consent:

Who said social contract does not apply to non-democratic nations? Social contract does apply – and when people “reject” the social contract – they rebel [if] they don’t have the option of leaving or voting or changing the government by peaceful means…. So yes, even nations like North Korea and Cuba are legitimate governments employing the social contract model…. internal legitimacy is wherein the majority of the population acquiesces to the current government and generally follows that government peacefully – that is true in Russia, Cuba, Vietnam, China, North Korea – as well as the United States and Canada.

So there we have it: Unless a man is rebelling against the government, and using force against it (claims Luko), he is “consenting” to whatever force it chooses to use against him.

Lest Luko, or anyone else, call this a misstatement, let us quote him once more:

the free market has indeed spoken – as most people do pay their taxes and most people have not revolted – it’s a RESOUNDING YES vote for the current system of government. The tiny minority of WACKO Waco Texas and the bombers of the government buildings in Oklahoma have not sparked a general revolt among the masses.

Most people are not robbing the government, shooting its agents, or blowing up its buildings. Therefore, Luko theorizes, they must be consenting to its agents robbing them, shooting them, and blowing up their homes (should it choose). To him, that is the only available explanation of the evidence. Alternative explanations – say, that most people do not engage in robbing, shooting, or bombing simply because they think that robbing, shooting, and bombing, are wrong – never seem to occur to him.

Luko’s argument by analogy

But enough of theory. Luko claims that his “social contract” is not mere theory, after all, but based on “empiricism”. So let us ask: is there any actual empirical evidence – as opposed to his theoretical interpretations of why people vote (or not), why they live where they do, and why they are not rebelling – that such contracts exist? Particularly, is there anything in the “free market” analogous to this “social contract” and its “tacit” consent?

Luko does offer one analogy, so it behooves us to examine it.

where coercive action is taken in relation to taxes, and the implicit threat of its use by the state, [it] is NOT plunder nor illegitimate delegation of power – but rather “enforcement of a contract” that in return for government goods and services – one pays taxes. Enforcing a contract is NOT coercion to steal your money, this is not plunder. If you contract to pay for cable TV and then later refuse payment because you say the cable company has no power over you – the cable company will take you to court to “enforce” the contract and get the money from you. This is “due process” and legitimate use of coercion.

Cable companies are a good example, because, like governments, they are territorial monopolies (at least here in Canada). If one wants cable, one has to deal with the cable company; just as, if one wants those government-monopolized goods and services, one has to deal with the government. So let us imagine a cable company taking someone to court who didn’t “pay his bill”:

Lawyer: Your honor, this miscreant owes my client, the cable company, over $5,000 for services we provided.
Judge: My, that is a large amount. Can you show the court his signed contract agreeing to pay for these services?
Lawyer: No, we can’t; because we don’t have one. But we don’t need one, because he agreed to pay for them anyway.
Judge: You mean you have his verbal agreement on tape?
Lawyer: Oh, no, nothing like that. In fact, he has never spoken to my client.
Judge: Indeed? So just when did he agree?
Lawyer: Why, when he agreed to our social contract, of course.
Judge: Your “social contract”? What are you talking about?
Lawyer: Well, your honor: he could have bought stock in our company and elected the people who set the rates, and he didn’t; so that shows he had no problem with paying whatever rates we charge.
Judge: And that is all of your evidence?
Lawyer: No, your honor. He has lived in our territory for over four years, although he could have moved out at any time; which also shows that he agreed to pay for our services for all of that time. And he hasn’t paid a thing.
Judge: So he lived in your territory, and he didn’t participate in your elections. Is that your only evidence for this “social contract”?
Lawyer: No, your honor: there is one more thing. He has never bombed our offices, or killed any of our representatives. Surely that is conclusive proof that he agreed to pay whatever we wish to charge him.

If Luko can produce one example of a cable company taking someone to a court, making an argument like that, and being able to “get the money,” then he has a sound argument by analogy. Until then, he has nothing.

Conclusion

Despite Luko’s invoking of “empiricism”, he presents absolutely no empirical evidence for the “social contract” as he imagines it. End of story?

Not quite; for, lost in the middle of his article, there is one other quotation that calls for comment:

A stable society indeed consents to “legitimate coercion” by the state, empowered by the people to enforce socially acceptable and traditional common laws.

This sounds like a much different “contract,” postulating not the totalitarian type offered by Hobbes, Rousseau, or Luko (an unlimited “consent of the people” to whatever a government does to them), but only a limited, hypothetical consent to obey certain “acceptable” laws. For all the absurdity of Mr. Luko’s totalitarian arguments, such a limited consent just might exist. Exploring that idea, though, will have to wait for another time.

Notes
(1) All quotations in italics are from: James Luko, “The Libertarian Delusion: A Response to The Delusion of Consent,” Nolan Chart, November 19, 2015. Web, Jan. 12, 2017.

(2) Martin Jenkins, “Hobbes’ case for an absolute monarch,” Ask a Philosopher, Ethical Dilemmas, April 15, 2014. Web, Jan. 12, 2017.
Hobbes’ case for an absolute monarch

(3) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (translated by Jonathan Bennett), Early Modern Texts, December, 2010. Web, Jan. 12, 2017.
http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/rousseau1762.pdf

(4) Herbert Spencer, “The Right to Ignore the State,” Social Statics, 1851. Constitution Society, Web, Jan. 12, 2017. http://www.constitution.org/hs/ignore_state.htm

(5) David Hume, “Of the Original Contract,” 1748. Web, Jan. 11, 2017.
http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~pa34/HUME.pdf

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About Caryn Ann Harlos

Caryn Ann Harlos is a paralegal residing in Castle Rock, Colorado and presently serving as the Region 1 Representative on the Libertarian National Committee and is a candidate for LNC Secretary at the 2018 Libertarian Party Convention. Articles posted should NOT be considered the opinions of the LNC nor always those of Caryn Ann Harlos personally. Caryn Ann's goal is to provide information on items of interest and (sometimes) controversy about the Libertarian Party and minor parties in general not to necessarily endorse the contents.

35 thoughts on “George Dance at the Nolan Chart- The Social Contract: The Myth

  1. Chuck Moulton

    I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent here while there isn’t much action on IPR and the armchair philosophers seem to like pontificating.

    I have a problem and I would like to get the libertarian and the NAP take on it.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is spam: unsolicited bulk email. I’ve had a long history fighting spam.

    When in college I had a lot of free time on my hands, so every time I was sent spam I would investigate all the domains and IP addresses involved, report it to everyone involved, find the home address and phone number of the spammer, and call him at 3 am every night harrassing him until he begged me to stop and took me off his list. This was highly effective: apparently spammers were so afraid of me that I was put on a “don’t fuck with this guy” list amd they avoided me for around 5 years.

    Unfortunately the landscape has changed. First, it is a lot harder to identify spammers. Instead of coming from an obvious source domain and promoting an obvious destination domain, every email from the same spammer has different domains. Even though domains are required by ICANN to list contact info, most avoid this with “private registration” whereby they pay a service to hide their email addresses and phone numbers. Even when spammers can be tracked down, many are based overseas in India or China. For a while many spammers would respect “unsubscribe” links. Now many either don’t include such links or the links do absolutely nothing and they keep spamming you — even more so now that you’ve verified the address is active.

    The worst part is when you can actually get contact info for a spammer and you email his personal address or call him on the phone (often international), he no longer has any shame. He doesn’t acquiese to removing you from his spamming lists. Instead he taunts you, points out there is nothing you can do, and subacribes you to many additional lists.

    This December I was getting a spam every single day to a fake shopping site pandering knick knacks I don’t give a damn about. When I tracked down the offender and asked him to stop, he added me to a bunch more lists. Now instead of getting 1 spam a day from that guy, I literally get 5 emails an hour — all with no opt-out link.

    Here is how this ties in to libertarian philosophy:

    I think we all agree the government does some things that it shouldn’t. It may be moral (though not legal) to flout some laws. For example, if the government bans oral sex, a person may be justified in ignoring that law. On the flip side, perhaps the government does not do some things that it should. For example, if the government declines to do anything about murder, rape, or robbery, we might be outraged. In that case, vigilante justice may be reasonable. For the anarchists, it may be looked at not as government declining to do its job, but rather government getting in the way of enforcement — as when rape is not prosecuted, but those who seek to punish the rapist with violence are prosecuted.

    I believe spammers may fall in these holes. They do not abide by ordinary societal norms. Corporations decline to help. Governments do nothing. Spammers believe they may be assholes with impunity.

    Because spam is one of my pet peeves, I would be more than happy to pay someone in India $200 to go beat the shit out of a spammer. On some days I wouls be eager to have a spammer murdered. Having given the spammer every opportunity to stop, in my opinion it would not be a violation of the Non-Agression Principle to beat the shit out of or kill a spammer because such force would be respinsive and justified rather than an initiation.

    From a legal point of view, I’m also fairly confident that using jury nullification no American jury would convict me of beating the shit out of or kill a spammer. I am less confident a jury in India would allow me to take care of the problem without repercussions.

    So my questions are these:

    1) Is it moral to beat the shit out of a spammer?

    2) Is it moral to kill a spammer?

    3) Would it violate the NAP to beat the shit out of a spammer?

    4) Would it violate the NAP to kill a spammer?

    5) How should a libertarian society deal with spammers?

  2. Chuck Moulton

    Thunderbird has about 50/50 success flagging spam.

    However, I read my email on my iPhone while on the go. That has zero spam filtering.

    The time I waste every day sorting through spam adds up. I am seriously considering vigilante action because I don’t seem to have any alternative that would actually address the problem.

  3. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    We all have pet peeves. I hate cyclists who zip through Stop signs. When I drive a car, I stop at every Stop sign. Then it’s my turn to go. But if I see cyclists coming, I know they won’t Stop at their sign, and if I go on my turn, I’ll hit them. So I’m forced to wait for them to go on my turn.

    Cyclists break many other rules of the road. They drive outside the bike lanes (side by side, rather than in tandem, as required by law). This forces cars to drive slowly behind them. They zip across streets, from alley to alley. They ignore red lights. They drive alongside and between cars, rather than staying to the side of the road.

    It all accumulates, such that drivers lose much time on the road, slowing for them, waiting for them.

    Chuck would like vigilantes to go after spammers. I’d like them to go after cyclists. I’d even be willing to pay more taxes to the State if they aggressively ticketed cyclists.

    Every libertarian — every anarchist — wishes the State would enforce certain laws more aggressively (even if they don’t want to call their enforcer a State).

  4. Chuck Moulton

    It was a philosohy comment on a philosophy thread, which makes it a heck of a lot more germane than more than half the comments here.

    Tangental, yes. Spam, no.

  5. DJ

    If you go the nolanchart website you’ll see that Luko is a pretty sharp (read intelligent) person…. that said, I disagree with his belief in the social contract belief. I don’t disagree with his premise or the legitimacy of his claims just his beliefs, which cloud his judgement…. and no, Luko, I’m not going to get into a war of words with you.

  6. Jill Pyeatt

    We get spam faxes at the office, and my office manager is vigilant about faxing back to ask them to take us off the list. She recently tracked down where to make a complaint and documented all 9 faxes one company has sent over the past two months. I’m curious if anything will come of it.

    Perhaps it will help if you think about the fact that the individuals are just trying to make a living. The person on the other side might be disabled and has to work from home. They’re not doing it to annoy anyone.

  7. Jill Pyeatt

    My biggest pet peeve right now is police chases. They have them several times a week here in Lops Angeles County. Every stupid station covers it, and preempt normal programming to watch this desperate person try to get away, and posssibly get shot when he finally gives up.The police have a choice whether to chase this person, sometimes for just some small traffic transgression, thereby endangering all the cars and pedestrians on the roads they chase on. Innocent people are involved in accidents and even are killed because of them much too often.

  8. dL

    Every libertarian — every anarchist — wishes the State would enforce certain laws more aggressively (even if they don’t want to call their enforcer a State).

    Not this one…

  9. dL

    Here is how this ties in to libertarian philosophy:

    I think it better ties into common sense. Segment you email messaging across different accounts pertinent to the type of communication. For example, I use company email for business and e-commerce. Gmail for developer stuff. Yahoo for the bullshit/social media. Employ heuristic filtering at both the provider layer and the client software. For example, we host our we host our own company email. Filter at both the server level and w/ the client software. As a result, maybe 5% of my primary inbox ==spam. I get NO spam w/ my developer Gmail account. Yahoo account is shit. But I don’t care b/c I rarely read it.

    Better than raging murderous fantasies against anonymous criminals and complaining no one is doing anything about the problem. There is plenty of private, cooperative action being done to combat the problem. If there wasn’t anything being done, smtp messaging protocol would be completely useless. As it is, to take advantage of what is being done, the user bears the nominal burden of using a provider that filters and client software/app that filters. If you fail to protect yourself, it is bit like going out into harsh winter weather naked and complaining to god about the inevitable frostbite your are going to get.

  10. Andy

    “Lee
    January 16, 2017 at 13:34
    My new pet peeve? Irrational moderators who remove comments for no discernible reason whatsoever. ”

    LOL! I bet that you are the person, or one of the people, who has been trolling here for years. I would not be surprised if some of your past fake names were “Vernon” and “Randy” and Magnus” to name just a few.

    There are multiple posters here who have either met me in person, or who have seen me in person. Who in the hell are you?

    Show up at an LP meeting anywhere in the country so we can have it video recorded. I suspect that you are full of shit, so I am calling you out.

  11. Andy

    “Lee” said: “bashes immigrants with racial innuendo,”

    This is a gross mischaracterization of reality. I “bashed” foreign born socialists and theocrats, but I did NOT bash immigrants in general, just as I frequently “bash” natural born Americans in the same categories. If you go back through posts here, you’d find that I ENDORSED Chinese immigrant Lily Tang for US Senate in Colorado.

    I get attacked online by trolls due to my effectiveness, and due to the fact that I come a lot closer to the truth on a whole lot of issues than a lot of people do.

  12. Jill Pyeatt

    Please stop responding to Lee/Nathan Norman. It looks ridiculous to keep your comments after I’ve deleted Lee’s, but if we leave Lee’s up he becomes emboldened and starts getting ruder and ruder.

  13. Jill Pyeatt

    Paulie, I know you don’t like someone deleting the troll’s comments after someone comments, but I have done so today because Nathan’s impersonating someone.

  14. Chuck Moulton

    Jill Pyeatt wrote:

    Perhaps it will help if you think about the fact that the individuals are just trying to make a living. The person on the other side might be disabled and has to work from home. They’re not doing it to annoy anyone.

    Jill,

    I’d be happy to forward you the 100+ spam emails I get every day and you can look at the content to try to find any redeeming value. These people are the scum of the earth. They aren’t even advertising useful products. Most of the links go to malware. There is no way of opting out. All of the reply to addresses are fake. There is no identifying information.

    If a disabled person feels the best way to make money is to waste people’s time, try to scam them, and generally be an asshole, then he should go do the world a favor and drown himself in a river. Plenty of disabled people contribute positively to society. It would be no excuse for making everyone’s life miserable.

  15. Chuck Moulton

    DL wrote:

    I think it better ties into common sense. Segment you email messaging across different accounts pertinent to the type of communication. For example, I use company email for business and e-commerce. Gmail for developer stuff. Yahoo for the bullshit/social media. Employ heuristic filtering at both the provider layer and the client software. For example, we host our we host our own company email. Filter at both the server level and w/ the client software. As a result, maybe 5% of my primary inbox ==spam. I get NO spam w/ my developer Gmail account. Yahoo account is shit. But I don’t care b/c I rarely read it.

    What makes you think I don’t segment my email? I have used role based forwarding addresses for decades.

    If you really think this is no big deal, I’m sure I can get you subscribed to the 100+ of spam emails I currently get every day.

    This is not a murder fantasy. This is a philosophical question and a search for a solution to a problem. If someone can come up with a better solution or persuade me it is morally wrong to seek retribution against asshole spammers, I’m all ears. If not, within a few weeks someone I hire will be beating the shit out of every spammer I uncover. At this point death seems too far… but I’m more on the fence about death vs. beatings than about beatings vs. letting asshole spammers walk around scott free.

  16. Jill Pyeatt

    Chuck said: I’d be happy to forward you the 100+ spam emails I get every day and you can look at the content to try to find any redeeming value.

    No thanks. Between my two businesses and home, I’m sure I get 100 spams a day, too.

    In retrospect, it does seem my comment about someone being disabled was condescending. I apologize. It does help me to remember, however, that annoying solicitors on the phone and spammers are just trying to make a living. The same with the people who walk past the “No solicitors” sign at work and come in to bug us about office supplies or fruit from Mexico or some dumb toy.

    Obviously, some people’s mileage varies. But that’s how I handle it.

  17. Luke

    I get more than 100 spam emails an *hour* but it takes me only 2 minutes an hour at most to zap them.

  18. Chuck Moulton

    Luke wrote:

    I get more than 100 spam emails an *hour* but it takes me only 2 minutes an hour at most to zap them.

    2 minutes an hour every hour adds up over time.

    That would be 7 x 24 x 2 = 672 minutes = 111.2 hours per week. It would be 672 x 52 = 34,944 minutes = 582.4 hours = 24.26 days per year.

    Assuming you value your time at a modest $10/hour, that would be $5,824 stolen from you every year. I myself value my time at considerably more than $10/hour, and expect larger compensation for annoying, unpleasant tasks than for things I enjoy. Your mileage may vary.

  19. dL

    What makes you think I don’t segment my email? I have used role based forwarding addresses for decades.

    Change your provider. Who is it? Why aren’t they implementing heuristic filtering?

    If you really think this is no big deal, I’m sure I can get you subscribed to the 100+ of spam emails I currently get every day.

    No, email spam is one of the biggest headaches of network/sys administration. That I’m not interested in getting 100s of spam mail into my inbox/day is why I use providers that filter heuristically. That people like you might threaten me w/ spam is one reason I segment my email accounts. I could give a rat’s ass if you spam my yahoo account, and my other accounts, you don’t know them… and I doubt you want you spend ur time trying to one up me b/c i’m more l88t than you in all likelihood.

    This is not a murder fantasy. This is a philosophical question and a search for a solution to a problem. If someone can come up with a better solution or persuade me it is morally wrong to seek retribution against asshole spammers

    Spam, to some extent, is the price we pay for an open internet. 20-25 years ago, it was hackers port scanning for misconfigured relays. Now it a lot of it is generated by zombified devices. There is no panacea, short destroying the open internet, to throttle it at the source. Working yourself up into a rage isn’t going to alleviate the problem. And your rage is hardly unique. And it often can be misguided.

    Last year, I accidentally published sendgrid dev credentials to a github repo. Of course, that mistake was almost immediately slobbered up by some hackers. Generated an apple app store phishing scam on my behalf. SendGrid caught it, but not before thousands of scam emails went out w/ my real return address. For the next week, I received hundreds of raging venom worse than yours in my inbox. Read about 20 of them and just ignored the rest. In between wanting to cut off my scrotum, report me to DHS or hunt me down to righteously dispose of me, I figured it was a bit pointless to respond to any of them.

    Bu to answer your question:
    (i) murder/physical violence is not a proportional response. Retribution would make you a murderer.
    (2) you could very well track down the wrong sap
    (3) if you are as a skilled as you think you are, you would spend your opportunity costs retaliating w/ your own bot countermeasures…if you are into wasting the spammer’s time and money as a better form of rewarding retaliation

  20. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    RTAA: Every libertarian — every anarchist — wishes the State would enforce certain laws more aggressively (even if they don’t want to call their enforcer a State).

    dL: Not this one…

    Do you not wish the State would enforce the laws against burglars more aggressively, such that it would catch more burglars?

    Or do you prefer that some Other Entity enforce laws against burglary? Because that Other Entity would be a State, even if you instead called it an Anarcho-Enforcer or Voluntaryist Officer or Free Market Police Force.

    Individual rights are incompatible with a purely voluntary, anarchist society. Rights require non-voluntary enforcement, because no burglar or murderer would voluntarily consent to being arrested for their crimes.

    I remember raising this topic on IPR before, and someone suggested the “purely anarchist solution” of free market assassins. It all sounded very loopy to me.

  21. paulie

    Or do you prefer that some Other Entity enforce laws against burglary? Because that Other Entity would be a State

    Only if it has a territorial monopoly. Come on, you knew that.

    Individual rights are incompatible with a purely voluntary, anarchist society. Rights require non-voluntary enforcement, because no burglar or murderer would voluntarily consent to being arrested for their crimes.

    Are we now going to pretend that you don’t know the difference between retaliatory force and initiation of force?

  22. dL

    Do you not wish the State would enforce the laws against burglars more aggressively, such that it would catch more burglars?

    No…catching burglars AFTER the fact doesn’t provide restitution. It’s just retribution. Catching them BEFORE the crime would likely entail “pre-crime” methods that could also sweep me up in the million and one crimes against the state. The state is a prosecutorial agency that you pay to harass you.

    Or do you prefer that some Other Entity enforce laws against burglary? Because that Other Entity would be a State, even if you instead called it an Anarcho-Enforcer or Voluntaryist Officer or Free Market Police Force.

    Proper crime prevention is a function of home security, which has nothing to do with the police. Effective security is supposed to prevent the burglary. If a burglary occurs, I doubt you are likely to get restitution for the crime after the fact, state police or private police. If you have valuables, secure them and then insure them. In the event of the crime, I would prefer a policing mechanism that would allow me to seek restitution from the perpetrator in lieu of some state prosector who claims to represent the people in the matter of retribution. There is NO “debt to society. “

  23. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    paulie: Only if it has a territorial monopoly. Come on, you knew that.

    No, I didn’t. I don’t see how that makes a difference.

    paulie: Are we now going to pretend that you don’t know the difference between retaliatory force and initiation of force?

    I don’t see that the issues of “territorial monopoly” or “retaliatory vs. initiation of force” negate my points.

    Any enforcement of rights requires non-voluntary force against an alleged criminal. The same problems remain — the person on the receiving end of the force might be innocent, might suffer brutality at the hands of over-zealous enforcers, and though innocent might be found guilty by a biased or incompetent jury.

    It doesn’t matter to the person on the receiving end of force whether it’s “retaliatory” or “initiatory” in the minds of the enforcers, be they state police or an agorist cadre. Nor does it matter whether one or more enforcement groups claim jurisdiction over the territory, not when those batons are coming down on you.

    George Zimmerman might be seen as a “free market” enforcer, unaffiliated with the state, or even with a private security company. In his supporters’ minds, he was engaged in preventive, non-initiatory force. That didn’t help Trayvon Martin.

    Zimmerman demonstrates that the same problems that exist with State enforcement can/will exist with any “market alternative.”

  24. paulie

    No, I didn’t.

    I call BS. You’ve been around IPR, the LP and the movement way too long to have never encountered the difference between non-initiation of force and literal pacifism. Or how a voluntary legal order differs from a state. That’s as basic as it gets and we have had these conversations way too many times here and in the movement in general.

    I don’t see how that makes a difference.

    Because that is the literal definition of a state. If you have an option to take your business elsewhere, including volunteer networks, the incentives change drastically.

    The same problems remain — the person on the receiving end of the force might be innocent, might suffer brutality at the hands of over-zealous enforcers, and though innocent might be found guilty by a biased or incompetent jury.

    These issues have been explored in great deal elsewhere. Is there some point to recreating that here? You know how to use search engines.

    And it’s hardly a revelation that a free society wouldn’t be perfect. Businesses make all kinds of mistakes, but they have a better set of incentives that keep those mistakes in check more so than coerced monopoly governments.

    Nor does it matter whether one or more enforcement groups claim jurisdiction over the territory, not when those batons are coming down on you.

    That doesn’t make anyone who gets into a physical fight a state any more than having a product/service review site makes you a regulatory bureaucracy, even though they fill some of the same functions.

    Zimmerman demonstrates that the same problems that exist with State enforcement can/will exist with any “market alternative.”

    Problems have scale. Zimmerman is a thug, as his actions before and after the Martin incident make abundantly clear. There have always been thugs, but that is not the same thing as a state and you haven’t considered – or would like us to believe you haven’t considered – how a free society may find much better ways to minimize thuggery than our socially distorted (by the ripple effects of coercive regime violence) social order does. However, lots of other people have considered that question in great detail and you can find many of their writings online if you look. And even better than that, consider that freedom can create solutions that we can’t even consider or conceive at all right now since the voluntary spontaneous order is far smarter than even the smartest central planner.

  25. George Dance

    Arthur DiBianca -“The social contract theory can be used to justify almost any aspect of tyranny.”

    Oh, indeed. Since there aren’t any terms specified anywhere, anyone can imagine whatever terms he wants there to be.

    The good side of that is that the theory can also be used to justify almost any aspect of resistance. There’s no reason would-be tyrants and their supporters should be the only ones allowed to interpret the contract.

  26. Marc Montoni

    Chuck,

    I’ve been on the receiving end of the hate due to spam. I think there’s too much room for error for “revenge” for spam.

    First, a lot of people are sent email because they asked for it. Like people who inquire about the LP and provide their email address and ask to be kept informed of LP activities. Then, when they are sent notices of LP activities, they mark it as spam — which with most webmail providers then adds the LP to blacklists. If 1,000 people are getting their LP messages and want to continue getting them, but ten people have marked them as spam, tough fucking luck to the other 990 because the LP domain has been blacklisted.

    Second, you’re well-familiar with the listing of contact information on the LPVA website. It’s necessary so that our members, reporters, prospects, etc are able to get in touch with us.

    However, spammers routinely harvest emails off of websites and then use them as the “FROM:” address. That gets us blacklisted also. Even turning the links into graphics that can’t be read by text harvesters isn’t particularly effective — spammers can also use OCR for those.

    I agree with the comment above that spam is the price we pay for an open internet.

    Not sure what else there is to do about it.

  27. James luko

    Normally I ignore; but a while ago I read a most remarkable article that calls for comment: “The Libertarian Delusion” by a Mr. James Luko. What is remarkable is not that Luko dislikes libertarian ideas – his biography does identify him as a career bureaucrat, after all – but how he argues against them.

    (more as a “field officer- UN human rights investigator during and after the war in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo- worked mostly alone- not much of a bureaucrat)

    Right, we are talking about laws and amendments that have been duly passed to regulate and make LEGAL taxation including a graduated income tax. A democracy does not require 100% approval, it rules by the rule of law and “majority” consent…and the “minority” AGREES to majority consent otherwise it would leave the country or rebel…as we see in Syria, Iraq, Yeman,,etc. etc.

    Right, but the discourse is not about Hobbes and Rousseau…It’s the general concept of “social contract” that in return for government protection and services…the public gives its consent to obey the rules and pay taxes…that is what we are talking about in real life, although Libertarians often speak about theories in the fantasy life which can create any straw man paradigm it wants for the sake of argument…but ONLY that far…and is WHY there isn’t a SINGLE example anywhere anytime of a Libertarian form of government right?

    But consider: Who decides how much tax a government can collect? That government. And who decides what “goods and services” a government shall provide, and to whom? The same government. So what Luko’s “contract” comes down to is: The people consent to their government taking whatever money and resources it wants, from whomever it wants, and doing whatever it wants with them.

    Yes who decides? The People through their representatives…a constant and ongoing mechanism of citizen’s consent- one which your argument totally ignores when you constantly ask—when did I agree to this or that…sorry my friend, it is your DUTY to be informed of laws and the constitution and any changes or disagreement comes through the mechanism of your elected representatives…so the consent is CLEAR and AMPLE.

    A rather “totalitarian” view. And why should it be limited to taxes? If one believes that everyone consents to government doing whatever it wants to them, on this one matter; on what basis can one deny that everyone consents to government doing whatever it wants to them, on any matter? If a government bans some product you like to use, or some action you like to perform: didn’t you consent to that ban? If a government puts you in prison: didn’t you go voluntarily? If a government agent kills someone: wasn’t that really a form of suicide?

    Simply not true, NO one consents to government doing “WHATEVER: it wants to them…laws are passed or not passed by Congress which is the direct representative of the will of the majority- unless that will violates the constitution and the fundamental rights and protections given all..including the minority- in the constitution. It’s as if Libertarians never read the constitution an dits functions. No the government does not murder, the government reflects the will of the majority as I said, it is not acting on its own, there is a “balance of power” system in place right? So there is Congress and the Supreme Court to PREVENT a government from doing “whatever” it wants as you say.

    and how is that supposed to have happened?
    Citizens AGREE to the social contract by participating in it each day, stopping at a red light, not murdering other people, sending your kids to school..oh well a hundred ways that you’ve consented to the contract. If you use a taxi knowing it costs money- and the taxi driver forgot to ask for the fare several times…by mistake- can the taxi driver get compensation- yes of course! So if you USE the services and protection provided by the government – i.e. police, army. Etc. then YOU”VE consented. So from the taxi example…when you step into the taxi—MUST the taxi driver say to you—hey man,, sign this agreement that you agree to pay the fare if you use my taxi? NOPE…Its tacit consent by USING the taxi KNOWING it costs money to operate it and therefore you understand implicitly that you will need to pay the taxi fare—a passenger would not say—upon being asked for the fare—hey man I didn’t sign a contract to pay for your taxi ride… where and when did I agree to pay the taxi fare..RIGHT??? so the consent issue is pretty clear. The arguments about “where and when” did we agree to consent to government rule is full of holes- I mean…full of holes and therefore “doesn’t hold water.”

    So there we have it: Unless a man is rebelling against the government, and using force against it (claims Luko), he is “consenting” to whatever force it chooses to use against him.

    No, WRONG, the government does not use “WHATEVER” force it chooses—you are totally 100% wrong…the government uses “legitimate” force regulated by the Constitution and rule of law…so totally wrong assertion.

    Judge: So he lived in your territory, and he didn’t participate in your elections. Is that your only evidence for this “social contract”?
    Lawyer: No, your honor: there is one more thing. He has never bombed our offices, or killed any of our representatives. Surely that is conclusive proof that he agreed to pay whatever we wish to charge him.

    Totally wrong, the cable company would easily be granted a compensation judgement for the client knowingly using a pay for use service…just as my taxi example illustrated.

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