The Instigator
clsmooth
Pro (for)
Losing
27 Points
The Contender
Ragnar_Rahl
Con (against)
Winning
33 Points

Individualists and anti-collectivists should be opposed to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/14/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,908 times Debate No: 443
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (20)

 

clsmooth

Pro

If capitalism is defined as the voluntary and non-coercive exchange of goods and services for the mutual benefit of all parties involved, then clearly, war represents a failure of capitalistic principles.

Wars are funded with involuntary taxes -- wealth expropriated from the productive class -- or worse yet, inflationary fiat-money creation. These both go against individualist, libertarian, and Objectivist principles.

War and armies are inherently collectivist. They are hierarchical and deny the individual freedom of expression -- necessarily so. Throughout much of history, wars were fought by slaves (conscription). But even now, the U.S. military consists of volunteers, but volunteers who are paid by confiscatory taxation and wealth-eroding inflation.

Ayn Rand was against all taxation. She believed in an ultra-minimalist state that would be funded by voluntary contributions. An Objectivist may be able to make an argument in favor of the current wars in the Middle East, or the pending war in Iran, but how can he/she make such an argument when he/she knows that the only way to fund such wars is through involuntary taxation and inflation? Surely, you must admit that these wars' unpopularity would preclude them from being funded voluntarily, even in the absence of taxation.

In conclusion, let me say this: Individuals will take proactive measures when they think their lives, liberty, or property are at risk -- including voluntary contributions to the raising of private armies.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

Capitalism requires the defense of human life, and its consequences of liberty and property. War in a completely capitalist world would of course represent a failure of capitalism, but war in a partially capitalist (or a completely noncapitalist) world is the way such things are brought about. If you are assaulted, do you regard it as a failure of your morality that you were assaulted, or a failure of the morality of the one who assaulted you?

Wars are not necessarily funded by involuntary taxes- they might be at the moment, but a whole lot of other things are too. You don't worry about a slow-growing cancer in your side when a rattlesnake just bit you, you reach for antivenom, even if it's in a room full of carcinogens. The US government, however harmful the taxes it raises are, has that antivenom; and 9/11 was one hell of a rattlesnake bite-- Obama might hate your freedom, but Osama hates it more. What I want, is for the wars against the people who sponsor Osama and co to be resolved quickly (see my debate "Leave Iraq immediately, and a while ago if possible") in order to remove that threat, and then we'll worry about the welfare state and it's taxes.

Nothing about the hierarchical nature of militaries implies collectivism, any more than the hierarchical nature of corporations, orchestras, or Objectivist values themselves do. It simply implies that a military, to be effective, must act in concert to achieve the goals to which every individual that sponsors it (ideally anyway, though not at the moment) subscribe.

To understand why I can support these wars, even though there is no time to switch the state to voluntary methods of funding them, you would have to note the different ethical nature of emergencies. My life is in more immediate danger from the enemies being fought in the middle east than it is from taxes. This doesn't mean I'll forgive the people who brought to pass the situation in which I had a choice between death and taxes (the framers of the 16th amendment among others)- it just means the matter will wait a little while. Put it this way- if we don't defend ourselves, at some point some nation out there conquers us. If we get conquered, we're gonna be taxed even more, for even longer. Patience is often prudent. If we had had better politicians long ago, we would have established a government that is voluntarily funded already, in some effective way (such as, for example, the one laid out in Rand's Virtue of Selfishness).

And no, if taxes weren't the norm, the war's relative unpopularity would not bar voluntary funding. You know why? Because it's more popular among rich people :D. Pornography is often unpopular if you take an opinion poll, but it still finds a way to get funded. It's easier to get funding than it is to get a majority vote, for things that make sense anyway.

Individuals will take such proactive measures, yes, but right now the government forbids them. So it's appeal to the government for the measures necessary and hope to fix the problem when you have more time, or go without the necessary measures and see what happens to ya.
Debate Round No. 1
clsmooth

Pro

It is legitimate to use retaliatory force, either as an individual, or as an agent of the limited state on behalf of a victimized individual. It is not legitimate, however, to murder the aggressor's family or whole neighborhood, and destroy the property of non-aggressors, in pursuit of the aggressor. This is the effect that war produces.

I find it chilling that Objectivists now use the same logic of neoconervative forebear, William F. Buckley -- whom Ayn Rand despised: "Buckley acknowledged that he favored 'Big Government for the duration' of the Cold War, owing to the Soviet threat. Heavy taxes and centralized power were the order of the day, and Buckley's individualism was nothing more than pleasant rhetoric." (http://www.lewrockwell.com...) You have simply substituted the Soviet menace with an even less frightening foe, and made the same rationalization for big government, centralism, and heavy taxes: "The US government, however harmful the taxes it raises are, has that antivenom; and 9/11 was one hell of a rattlesnake bite-- Obama might hate your freedom, but Osama hates it more." Do I hear an echo?

QUESTION: Is it moral to support a war that could not be funded voluntarily? You suggest that the Iraq War and the "War on Terrorism" COULD be funded voluntarily, but could you support these wars if you were convinced that they couldn't?

You also say "rich people support the war more than average" -- I would like some evidence to back this up. And when providing it, you will need to exclude the "rich" people who make their riches from war -- everyone connected with the military-industrial complex, and everyone whose part of the fiat-money empire. Of course they support the war -- that's how they receive their welfare! No wars, no welfare for the rich. Excluding this group of societal leeches, there aren't a whole lot of "rich" people left, and they certainly would not be able to financially support the war.

Additionally, I will argue that terrorists pose no real threat to your life or liberty. GOVERNMENT IS THE THREAT. I'm certain Ms. Rand would agree.

"... you're more likely to drown in your bathtub than be killed by terrorists. In fact, as many people have died of allergic reactions to peanut butter than have died at the hands of terrorists, according to government statistics. But billions of dollars are spent looking for Osama bin Laden and stringing up Saddam Hussein, while jars of peanut butter are much bigger threats . . ." SOURCE: http://www.lewrockwell.com...

In response to 9/11, people who would have normally flown opted to drive instead. As a result of this increase in traffic activity, 1500 people died who wouldn't have -- almost half as many as died on 9/11! SOURCE: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com...

Consider the crazed school/mall shooters. Now imagine if Al Qaeda had been behind those killings. Would that have made the killings more sinister? Would we be at any more risk? If not, then why are we not as paranoid over these recent killings, as you are over the supposed risk presented by terrorism?

Final question: Why do the terrorists desire to do us harm? Do Objectivists really believe the "because they hate our freedom" B.S. of the neo-Trotskyist/neocons? I though Objectivists were rational and observed objective reality -- not paternalistic and demonstrably untrue platitudes designed to propagandize and inspire irrational fear.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

Oh? So one is to surrender one's life just because one isn't sure no one other than the aggressor will be adversely affected? Especially when the "others" in question offer shelter or aid to the aggressor?

The fact is, the innocents run away from the states that shelter those we are fighting whenever they can, and if they really are innocent they recognize that the risk of collateral damage is less than the risks of continuing to live under their current oppressors. The aggressor made the rules, we have no choice but to win by them or die by them.

I am not familiar with this Buckley character (other than his botched attempt at destroying Atlas Shrugged, but let's take a look at him since you seem to want to throw him in my camp. He might have a superficially similar argument for military action, but you want to tie to me his advocacy of raising taxes, centralism, and "big government." That is not in fact the case with me, that is not how this war is to be won. We need to slim down our military, and focus not on occupation (which is what's costing us so much) but on killing the enemy in question. This requires at most a delay to changes in the tax code. Buckley supported war production boards and such, I don't, in fact I regard them as inherently incompatible with winning. Furthermore, the war effort could easily be used as the perfect oppurtunity to find such programs as social security as expendable, in their most vulnerable moment, where otherwise they'd be entrenched.

If I were convinced that the narrowed wars on Iraq that I advocate could not be voluntarily funded were it not for the government monopolizing the money in question, no I wouldn't support it, because such a fact would only follow from the idea that people like me wouldn't find it worth their money. Keep in mind the war I'm talking is a lot cheaper than what we have now. As for the "war on terrorism," that's a floating abstraction. Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy, even if your enemies happen to be terrorists. We are at war with Al Qaeda, we were at war with the Baath party and the Taliban (which, being gone, means we should be out of Iraq and on to the next place by now, and would be if it weren't for the insistence on Iraqi welfare programs). We are at war with Iran because it is funding various groups who are at war with us, even if we haven't shown the resolve to prosecute the war.

The profiteers would obviously support the war, and they would fund it voluntarily, so it's hardly relevant whether it would be supported excluding them. Keep in mind wars, even in a capitalist system, are still a government's job, and thus a voluntarily funded government could fund a war it deemed necessary out of it's general fund even if no one wanted to "donate" to the war cause specifically.

Government is the threat, but terrorists are part of governments, and terrorist acts occur in order to establish a new, in this case more threatening, order of government. If you don't think terrorists pose a threat, tell it to the people the 9/11 terrorists killed. If you don't think Al Qaeda is a governmental threat, tell it to their platform which consists of establishing a world government by Sharia law.

Terrorist attacks not being the only manner these organizations operate, the current likelihood of dying by terrorist attack isn't really relevant, even if you think those people who would die in terrorist attacks automatically lose their rights (as they would under your argument) just because they are a small minority. Also, there is a lot of money lost every time a skyscraper or some such blows up, and probably would be more if we didn't act in some manner to deter such things, so the monetary costs aren't as simple as you describe.

The fear that killed those drivers resulted directly from the terrorist attack, and thus is factored into the cost.

If you have a program for stopping the crazed school and mall shooters, feel free to propose it. But in any case, the reason Al Qaeda is more of a concern, is because it is acting with a specific purpose, one that threatens far more people than have died so far. AIDS starts as just a small number of T-Cells getting taken over. If you don't think terrorist tactics can help accomplish a larger program for better or worse, you need to read up on the inspiration the American Revolution drew from the Boston Tea Party, and then imagine what an Jihad Revolution entails. That is precisely what millions of children are being trained for in the parts of the world where our enemies hold power. I don't see anyone trying to organize for a "school and mall nutcase revolution."

Different portions of our enemies hate us for different things, but yes Al Qaeda does "hate us for our freedom," even if the philosophy behind it is a bit more sophisticated. Sayyed Qutb, the philosopher who inspired Bin Laden (as well as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad, explained quite thoroughally the reasons for his hatred of America. As Wikipedia puts it, "Qutb was extremely critical of many things in the United States: its materialism, individual freedom, economic system, racism, brutal boxing matches, poor haircuts,[10] triviality, restrictions on divorce, enthusiasm for sports, "animal-like" mixing of the sexes (which went on even in churches),[11] and lack of support for the Palestinian struggle[12]." Except for racism, all of these occur as a consequence of freedom. The slogan might have been invented by neocons, but the enemy has done nothing but provide evidence to favor it.

Why, what do you think makes them hate us?
Debate Round No. 2
clsmooth

Pro

What makes them hate us? Your wars. Occupation. Intervention. Overextension of our government's authority into their sovereign nations. You cite some cleric from years ago -- I'll cite Osama. Our occupation of Saudi Arabia and military/financial support for Israel (funded through non-voluntary taxation) are the reasons he has cited for hating America. After defeating the Nazis (and we should defeat Al Qaeda), we took a look at the policies we had engaged in that led to the rise of Nazism (the heavy sanctions on Germany following WWI), and resolved not to allow these conditions to arise again. So, too, should we look at these root causes of terrorism, and it cannot be doubted that foreign interventionism and our government's overstepping of its constitutional bounds into the domestic affairs of sovereign nations are the primary causes. You are arguing for a perpetuation of the causes of terrorism, until what? "They" are all dead? We kill one terrorist and fifty innocents, and some of the loved ones of those innocents become terrorists -- and we then kill them along with 500 innocents, and... Ad infinitum.

Of course, in your view, the Iraqi people being killed are not "innocent," and that is the immorality on which your advocacy of war is premised. This is different from the traditionalist moralist who believes the Iraqis are innocent, and we are fighting "to liberate them." The basis for warmongering is different, but the result is the same: Murder of innocents at the hands of the state.

Again, to broach the subject of "rich people support the war more than average people." You were unable to provide any evidence to suggest this, so it is nothing other than an assumption you're making. And when calculating whether "the rich" could support this war, voluntarily, the military-industrialists and fiat-money fraudsters have to be excluded, because their wealth is created through expropriation of the working class's wealth, and/or government's inflation of the money supply (expropriation of savers' wealth). It is impossible to "voluntarily" fund a war with money that either would not exist in the absence of taxation, or must be created coercively, through an illegitimate government monopoly such as the Federal Reserve System.

Although I admire your adherence to principle, I do believe your logic is flawed. The voters shall decide, but I believe I have demonstrated why involuntarily funded wars are inherently collectivist; indeed all wars are collectivist because they pit an "us" versus a "them." When you are willing to look at massive swaths of humanity as "collateral damage" or hold them guilty because they do not flee their property under the coercive threat of U.S. bombs being dropped on them, you are guilty of collectivism. Furthermore, I believe I have provided ample evidence to strongly suggest that, at least when it comes to Iraq and Iran, these wars could not be funded voluntarily. Thus, the question is "should individualists support the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the pending war in Iran?" While collectivists may be able to logically support them, individualists, I believe I have shown, cannot.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

Sayyid Qutb was not a cleric. He was a philosopher. Osama's close friend, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, publicly declared that they had studied under Sayyid's brother (whose career essentially consisted of promoting Sayyid's ideas,) and that Sayyed was the man who had "most influenced" their generation.

Osama might state those as some of his reasons (I am unaware, however, that the US is occupying Saudi Arabia, can you find a source?). Our support for Israel is of course bad military doctrine and should cease immediately regardless of the moral arguments for and against (which are complex because Israel's enemies are really really evil, and Israel itself is also really really evil :D). This does not mean these are his original reasons however. His teacher in spirit, Qutb, came up with his ideas after a visit to America and a look at all the sex and money that shocked his Muslim sensibilities. Such foreign policy matters (some of which were legitimate) of course are the personal reasons for many lower- end recruits of the enemy, but they are not the reasons of the leaders. If they were Osama would be bound to be consistent with them, and thus NOT try to create a world state by Sharia law.

You claim to be a reader of Ludwig von Mises. Why then do you share the odd delusion that the post- WWI sanctions lead to the rise of Nazism? As Mises points out in Omnipotent Government, the sanctions in question were never enforced, and indeed if they had been Germany would have had more difficulty raising a military threat. The essential intellectual characteristics of Nazism (socialism + racism + living in a relatively overpopulated state) were the norm of German society not just after WWI, but through much of the 19th century as well. The only essential difference the Nazis brought to the table was resolve and acumen.

If the causes you describe were accurate, the essential policies our enemies take would be consistent with those causes. They are not, and so what I am arguing to perpetuate is not the causes of terrorism. I do not advocate slaughtering "one terrorist and fifty innocents," I advocate slaughtering one terrorist and whoever helps them commit terror. If a man shelters our enemy in his home, knowingly, he is not an innocent, he is ipso facto another enemy. If he does it unknowingly, he'll get out of the way once he realizes who he let into his home-- and in the future he'll learn to be more wary of his guests. We are not responsible for the fact that our enemy hides among civilians, he is and so are any civilians who enable it. There are of course occasional murders, Haditha for example, and the parties involved should be punished, but these occur not just in a war zone but also in everyday life. Those who would place their bodies in front of our enemy to protect him are as guilty as he is himself. There are Iraqi innocents, but they are not the ones being killed in the course of legitimate military action. I'm not holding people guilty because they don't flee their property, I'm holding them guilty because they let our enemy on their property in the first place. If that enemy forced his way on, he is the one at fault and he is the one who should be made to compensate for the damage to property once they do flee (there is no other response to an aggressor, of course, than fight or flee). Besides, no legitimate private property exists in Iraq except that established since the US invasion, Saddam ran a socialist state. The only people who were considered to "own" anything significant were those who got it by helping Saddam, thus being eo ipso our enemy.

What we can do to minimize the risk to innocents, of course, is open up immigration. There are thousands of Iraqi refugees waiting, who have been helpful to our cause, and the government should rightly be condemned for barring their entrance.

It is entirely possible to voluntarily fund a war with profits attendant that war, once it is established that the war itself can be voluntarily funded. Because the war profits would exist in the absence of taxation, they just wouldn't take the form of fiat money.

US bombs aren't dropped, as far as I know, on private property or whatever semblance of it remained in Iraq. They were dropped on military targets. Just because wars pit an "us" versus "them" does not make them collectivist in any meaningful sense. Because a group gains legitimacy through the voluntary membership of each individual in it. The question of whether something is collectivist is not whether it references a group, but whether a group is considered to matter beyond it's component individuals rights. My support for this war goes as far as and no further than the rights of the individuals that make up the war effort.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by A-ThiestSocialist 9 years ago
A-ThiestSocialist
Putting my pressuppositions behind me, my ballot goes to the PRO simply because his whole point about government being the problem stands with individualist and anti collectivist problems in relation to national movements. Good debate though guys, very very close!
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