There are no compelling objections to anarchism
Debate Rounds (4)
The resolution for this debate will deal with anarchism and whether it would have a legitimate possibility of effectively and qualitatively providing various social services which are generally recognized as necessary for the existence of civil society.
In this debate, Pro is tasked with establishing a general framework for the effective production of these services (as well as their plausibility, just saying it's possible that everyone would get along is insufficient) while also refuting Con's arguments. Con's burden is to both attempt to refute Pro's framework, as well as to forward and defend one or more compelling objections to anarchism.
Anarchism in the scope of this debate does not concur with the vulgar use of the term (referring to chaos or lawlessness), but instead with the political philosophy advocating a form of social organization without a territorial monopoly on the provision of law, defense, arbitration, or any other services. More specifically, I will be defending free market anarchism when more non-institutional specifics are brought up.
The term State refers to an institution which holds an aggressive monopoly on the provision of law, defense, arbitration, and in most instance other services (such as roads or mail delivery). Aside from monocentric control of the provision of these services, a State also has the power to tax the inhabitants under its control.
A compelling objection in this instance will refer to an objection levelled against anarchism which shows it to be incapable of providing necessary social services (such as law and order) effectively or qualitatively. I don't think Con will be guilty of this but just in case, an argument along the lines of saying that some service X would be 5% more efficient then anarchist service X wouldn't be considered compelling. The term compelling implies a strong difference between the respective provision of the given services which sways strongly in the State's favor.
1. Drops will count as concessions.
2. Semantic or abusive arguments will not be counted.
3. New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted.
4. R1 is for acceptance. Argumentation begins in R2.
5. BoP is shared between Pro and Con.
In this round I'll provide a rough constructive case in favor of anarchism and its viability. I trust Con realizes the BoP is shared as per the R1 explanation of the resolution.
Contention I. Polycentric vs. Monocentric Organization.
One of the main differences between statist and anarchist social and legal theory is that states operate under a monocentric legal and political system. This simply means that within a given geographical region, a single institution (called a government or state) manages and controls how the legal, police, and court systems are organized and operated. This doesn't mean citizen input isn't used (as in the case of democracy), just that the institution charged with carrying out of these duties and with providing these services is singular. This may be contrasted with polycentric law, the legal system posited by anarchism. Under polycentric law, multiple institutions exist without monopolistic jurisdictions, similar to how other commodities are provided.
There are a few reasons why this form of social organization would be viable, and possibly even superior, to monocentric law. Gustave de Molinari wrote: "That in all cases, for all commodities that serve to provide for the tangible or intangible needs of the consumer, it is in the consumer"s best interest that labor and trade remain free, because the freedom of labor and of trade have as their necessary and permanent result the maximum reduction of price." and that "That the production of security should, in the interests of the consumers of this intangible commodity, remain subject to the law of free competition."
One could counter that technically states are open to competition. This might be accepted in a sense, though not in the sense advocated by laissez-faire. Under monocentric law, the provision of services is subject to a geographical monopoly, even if not a universal one. For instance, in a city A, if there was only one gas station B, this would surely be considered a monopoly. This is even given the fact that gas station B technically has competition with some gas station C over in another town or gas station D,E,F,G.... in further cities or states. The competition is in name only or at least inferior to a situation in which gas stations (or states) were more geographically competitive.
Contention II. Exceptions and Public Goods.
One possible counter to the above argument (that competition generally fairs well) is that certain services and commodities are special, that they are public goods. This means that it is not possible (or highly impractical) to exclude others from using a service. For instance, a common service thought to be a common good is national defense. That is, when seeking the funds to produce such a service, my contribution to the funds will not by itself guarantee that it is produced. Many other people also have to chip in. But since national defense is just that, national, I will benefit from its production even if I don't chip in at all. Therefore I have more to gain if I don't chip in but everyone else does. The problem is everyone else thinks this as well which turns individual rationality into collective irrationality. Everyone does what's in their best interest and the good is never produced. Therefore, it is argued, there must be some centralized coercive organization to force every citizen to pay (via taxation).
The first problem with this argument is that it fails to take into account the possibility of non-necessitated incentives. The game-theory analysis shows that it's rational for one not to pay, but irrational if everyone chooses the same. However, switching these incentives leads to the opposite conclusion. This is the method employed by the concept of dominant assurance contracts. What happens is, one agrees to pay for a service (through contract) if and only if enough others also agree to pay for it whereby it would be sufficient to produce. One only gets access to the service by paying for it, therefore it becomes individually as well as collectively rational to chip in.
The second problem with this argument is that (a) it proves too much and (b) it is inconsistently applied. If we accept the logic behind this conclusion, monocentric government cannot itself be the solution since this logic has been shown (through public choice theory) to apply just as well to liberal government (both republican and democratic). The only difference is the public good. We move from national defense to "good policies" or policies which serve the overall interest of the community.
The point comes about by an analysis of the various roles in a politic, citizens, politicians, and special interests. Via the large number of voters (and subsequently the relative uselessness of an individual vote) combined with the fact that not everyone can be expected to really understand such out of reach issues as the geopolitical situation in the Middle East, voters are taken to be what is called rationally ignorant. Even if you take all the time to learn everything there is about the Middle East in order to make a rational decision, this is the exception not the rule. And since this wouldn't bring positive utility benefits, it becomes individually irrational to do so, even if it is collectively rational.
Analysis towards politicians and special interests yields equally distressing results. Since in a democracy, politicians are in most cases elected to office (barring how so whether direct or through republican means), a large amount of time must be devoted to re-election. Even if you have all the right ideas, you can't do much if you're not ever elected. In doing so the interests of the politician align with those of the special interest. In devoting money to politician A's campaign, special interest B curries favor while politician A ups their chance of election. We can even see this in the most recent Presidential election.
No system is perfect, but the criticisms levied against anarchism are generally either self defeating or not rigorously applied. Anarchism is supposed by the critic to be a system without rules or order, whereas the state is supposed to a system of rules and order, applied by politicians and kept in check by the citizenry. But this is rarely the case in practice. Furthermore, the legal system proposed by anarchismitself the outgrowth of the logical implications of the classical liberal move toward laissez-faire and free enterprise. Ifiscompetition is a favorable condition, it must apply to any other service, even law. The public goods counter applies just as well to the state, the exact thing prescribed in anarchisms stead.
 "The Production of Security" by Gustave de Molinari. Available online: http://praxeology.net...
 "The Private Provision of Public Goods via Dominant Assurance Contracts" by Alexander Tabarrok. Available online: http://mason.gmu.edu...
 "The Myth of The Rational Voter" by Bryan Caplan. Available online: http://www.cato-unbound.org...
The cost of a polycentric law would far surpass that of a monocentric law for two reasons: a) no single set of moral, theological, or ideological beliefs is held and affirmed by everyone; b) there is no neutral or independent mechanism for evaluating and establishing one person's doctrinal allegiances as better or more true than another person's doctrinal allegiances. Therefore, a polycentric law would produce a multitude of conflicting legal systems to represent the different moral, theological, and ideological beliefs in society. The result would be twofold: at once an increase in the cost of law and a society in which wealth and money determine the governing moral, theological, and ideological doctrine of the day.
If two persons with conflicting beliefs cannot agree to use the same legal system, the dispute would inevitably reduce to an issue of legal enforcement: the victor in any dispute would be determined by the power of each side to enforce their particular legal doctrine, making it impossible to ensure equality or fairness of legal representation for everyone (this is the moral issue at stake here). Thus, the ability to pay for mercenaries to defend and fight for specific legal doctrines (i.e. wealth) would dictate the governing moral, theological, or ideological doctrine. Furthermore, since the cost of law would include legal enforcement, competition among conflicting legal systems would require an ever greater economic investment in enforcement, dramatically increasing the cost of law. There is therefore a dangerous moral and economic cost to having a polycentric law.
Pro says, "If competition is a favorable condition, it must apply to any other service, even law." The theoretical framework Pro requires for this claim is unsustainable and incoherent. There are many conditions that are favorable in some situations and not favorable in others. What reason is there to believe a favorable condition in textile industry would remain a favorable condition in law? It is necessary to have exceptions to every general principle, not only as a matter of practical application, but as a matter of theoretical consistency. If there is no stable (i.e. non-competitive) mechanism to prevent the creation of a monopoly, there is no way to guarantee that competition continues. The idea that competition can be applied to "any other service" is theoretically incoherent in the same way that toleration of any religious practice is theoretically incoherent: both allow mechanisms to emerge from within their framework that undermine and collapse the framework itself.
Pro's framework is not sufficient to establish the theoretical or practical viability of anarchism. What would prevent people from committing murder? What would prevent the wealthy from dictating the governing morality, theology, and ideology? What would protect the fundamental human rights of minority groups? How would religious freedoms be protected? Pro's framework cannot provide an acceptable answer to any of these questions, since it does not provide an incentive for the wealthy to refrain from bribery, theft, or murder. The lack of an independent mechanism of accountability suggests an anarchist society would ultimately reduce to either an unstable oligarchy or a military dictatorship.
Multiplicity in Law
Con's first counter contains two essential points. First, Con argues that ideological structure wouldn't be singular in a state of polycentric law. The second point is similar to the first, but instead argues that a neutral mechanism or arbiter wouldn't be possible under polycentric law. The main point of both contentions though is that, Con claims, under anarchism, law enforcement and defense would be both higher in cost and that it would result in wealth influencing legal outcomes and lack of fairness in the justice system.
(A) The first problem with Con's counter has to do with his point regarding ideological, moral, or theological heterogeneity. He argues that without some homogeneous set of rules and guidelines, legal arbitration would be reduced to wealth and power.There are two reasons for the falsity of this contention. The first reason is that it is false- the cause and effect which Con has laid out. The second reason stems from the fact that Con's point actually works against the state, not anarchism.
(i)-The reason the effect of ideological and legal heterogeneity is not as Con claims is because social convention isn't causally posterior to the given legal system, it's prior. Con has his whole conception backwards. Taking the U.S. legal system as an example, we can see that it's based originally in English common law. The U.S. and other nation states do not operate respectively under singular legal systems because some government has decreed so (though I don't deny that these governments have decreed so obviously, I only deny the causal relationship). It is because societies generally favor singular underlying social conventions that a nation state is erectable in the first place. So Con's claim that government is all that keeps wildly differing social conventions and legal systems at bay is fallacious.
(ii)-As stated in my R2 case, the public goods problem works against statism in the same sense that some say it works against markets or anarchism. I won't waste space reiterating it here, readers may feel free to check R2 where I expanded on it in full. My point in relation to Con's counter though is the end result, that is the wealthy and politically influential ultimately having unfair control over policy, resulting in an overall detrimental state of political affairs. Polycentric law is actually the only form of governance which doesn't fall into this problem.
(B) Neutrality of arbitration is another problem regarding conceptual problems under polycentric law which Con argues for. I really don't see where this claim comes from. Polycentric law actually insures neutrality by allowing for truly third party arbitration in disputes. This is of course contrasted with the non-neutrality of monocentric law which allows for governments to be the judges in their own case. When a singular institution controls the institution of law, obviously all legal disputes will be arbitrated by that institution (even if it be a different part of that institution). Polycentrism allows for arbitration to be left to an agreed upon third party. This is what insures neutrality.
Favorability of Trade
Con has argued that exceptions to general principles are somehow always necessary. Besides this rule itself being internally incoherent (i.e., is there an exception to that principle), Con fails to make an adequate case for why this rightfully applies to the case of law. For instance, Con claims that a non-competitive institution is necessary to make sure that monopolies don't form in the market. But Con doesn't apply this to that non-competitive institution itself. If we take it as a premise that monopolies are bad, then introducing a monopoly to solve the problem of monopolies is itself incoherent.
Furthermore, Con is guilty of conceptually misrepresenting a free market. The problem of monopolies is state-born. Ludwig von Mises writes:
"With the progress of specialization, the area served by an individual supplier must continue to widen. The market supplied by a textile mill that produces only a few kinds of fabrics must be larger than that served by a weaver who weaves every kind of cloth. Undoubtedly this progressive specialization of production tends toward the development in every field of enterprises that have the whole world for their market. If this development is not opposed by protectionist and other anticapitalist measures, the result will be that in every branch of production there will be a relatively small number of concerns, or even only a single concern, intent on producing with the highest degree of specialization and on supplying the whole world."
If Con wishes to claim that markets tend to create monopolies, I invite him to provide some sort of reasoning or evidence for this. If Con wishes to bring posterior evidence in support of his claim, a free market would obviously need to be the model on which to find it. If the evidence be a priori, I invite Con to provide his reasoning.
Con is again guilty of arguing from a fantastical view of government, while ignoring the harsh realities which we actually see. He asks how a polycentric legal system would prevent things like murder, rule of the wealthy, the subjugation of minority rights, the violation of religious freedom, etc. But how well does the state fare in these fields? Tens of millions of civilians killed by their governments in the 20th century alone, public choice problems allowing for the rule of the politically well connected and wealthy, and numerous instances of human rights violations. We have clear empirical evidence of the evils and horrors of states, those of anarchism are merely unsupported hypotheticals. Con's reasoning in favor of why they might come about are themselves just as applicable to states and in fact fail to take into account the mechanisms under anarchism which would fare much better against these problems than statism.
 "Liberalism" by Ludwig von Mises. Ch.2, sec. 7. Available online: http://mises.org...
2. Pro claims that social convention is prior to any given legal system. I never argued otherwise. I argued that the "prior" existence of conflicting moral, theological, and ideological doctrines will inevitably produce ("posterior") conflicting legal systems. Pro therefore concedes that the existence of conflicting moral, theological, and ideological doctrines would produce conflicting legal systems.
3. Pro claims that the wealthy have an unfair control over policy in statism. The wealthy, however, have more power in anarchism than statism. This means the wealthy exert a greater degree of unfair control over policy in anarchism than statism. In anarchism, there are no laws in place to prevent the formation of monopolies; no laws to prevent the wealthy from establishing dominant legal systems by hiring better legal enforcement; no laws to prevent the wealthy from hiring military contractors and establishing themselves as dictators. The point I'm making here is very simple and straight-forward: in anarchism, the wealthy would be able to rule through an unchecked ability to influence every aspect of life. The reason statism is preferable to anarchism, then, is because statism can create laws and institutions to prevent or inhibit the power of the wealthy. Pro claims that the wealthy would nonetheless be able to influence politics unfairly through campaign contributions. Pro's argument is fallacious because it relies on false assumptions: Pro assumes that political leaders must be elected (they could be chosen in other ways that are fair, such as a lottery). Pro's argument, in effect, relies on the false assumption that statism cannot create laws that treat all people fairly and equally. The problem with anarchism is that there is no way to prevent the wealthy from creating unfair legal systems. In anarchism, there is no way to prevent the wealthy from enforcing their chosen legal system on the poor (since the only people paying for legal enforcement would inevitably be the wealthy). The basic civil rights of the poor would be lost entirely in an anarchist society.
4. Pro claims that polycentric law ensures neutrality because it allows for third party arbitration. The problem with Pro's argument is that it does not account for the many cases where third party arbitration cannot be agreed to by the two parties. If person X and person Y cannot agree to use the same legal system, there is no way for X to force Y to use X's legal system, and there is no way for Y to force X to use Y's legal system. The victor of such legal disputes would be whoever has the stronger legal enforcement. In other words, whichever legal system is better able to enforce its laws on people who do not accept it as a legal system would do best. The best legal systems would inevitably be those supported by the wealthy, since the wealthy would fund better legal enforcement. The other outcome of a polycentric law is that the costs of law would go up, since decisions would be rendered through legal enforcement. Whichever legal system spent the most money on legal enforcement would typically become the victor of all legal disputes. This would make the cost of winning disputes go up, since the competition between different legal systems would drive the demand for legal enforcement up. The price would inevitably go up as well. Pro does not address this argument, even though I made it in Round 2.
5. Pro misrepresents my argument. I did not say that monopolies are inherently bad. I said that anarchism (not statism, but anarchism) rests on the assumption that monopolies are inherently bad. The problem with anarchism is that it would become statism the moment a monopoly forms over the law. Pro must prove that a market would not produce dominant monopolies that undermine anarchism itself. I argue this cannot be guaranteed in an anarchist society because there is no mechanism to prevent the formation of monopolies. I myself am not arguing that monopolies are bad. Pro completely misrepresents my argument. I maintain that anarchism is theoretically incoherent because its framework undermines itself.
6. Pro claims that free markets do not produce monopolies. Pro says monopolies are "state-born," and quotes Ludwig von Mises, as if that somehow proves monopolies are not produces through markets. I'll counter with a quote from economist Milton Friedman: "Monopoly arises to some extent because technical considerations make it more efficient or economical to have a single enterprise rather than many."  Pro claims that markets do not tend to create monopolies. Milton Friedman claims otherwise. Pro does not offer an argument other than an appeal to authority to prove markets do not produce monopolies. I also make an appeal to authority, but in my case, it is supported by a better authority (Milton Friedman was more of an expert on free markets than Ludwig von Mises) and an actual argument (monopolies arise because they are more efficient and economical). I've already explained why a monocentric law would emerge because it is more efficient and economical, but I'll reiterate the argument: the resolution of disputes between parties who operate within distinct legal systems would become a dispute between the ability of each legal system to enforce its laws on others. The problem of resolving disputes is the same problem we witness between two nations with distinct legal systems who cannot resolve their dispute through third party arbitration: they go to war. The same thing would happen on a mass-scale in anarchism, and the wealthy would always emerge victorious since they would be the ones who can afford the best military contractors. The result of the competition among distinct legal systems would be a dramatic increase in the cost of law. Why? Well, think about it: if I pay X amount for legal enforcement, then someone else would have to pay X+1 amount if they wanted to win a legal dispute against me. This would force me to pay X+2. The demand for legal enforcement would drive the price of the law up. At some point, it would become clear that a monopoly over the law would be preferable, since it would offer not only more fair and equal representation for everyone, but it would also be more economical solely in terms of the market. Pro must prove that anarchism would not lead to monopolies (since Pro justifies polycentric law by arguing that monopolies are inherently bad). Pro must also prove that a polycentric law offers more fair and equal representation for people, and that it would cost less than monocentric law. Pro also has the burden to prove that polycentric law would lead to less bloodshed and war than monocentric law. As of yet, none of these points have been proven.
7. Pro claims I am "ignoring the harsh realities which we actually see." I would argue that Pro is ignoring the "harsh realities" that would inevitably emerge in anarchism. Pro does not explain how a polycentric law would prevent murder, rule of the wealthy, or subjugation of minority rights... Pro offers no defense for anarchism. Instead, Pro offers empirical evidence that states are bad. Pro ignores the large amount of evidence that states are good. There are many states that have limited some evils through constitutional governments. These governments are ruled by principles that the wealthy cannot influence, principles which themselves protect the basic civil rights of everyone (including minorities), and principles which prevent murder by categorically criminalizing it. Anarchism does not limit evils, statism does.
 Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom
(A)- Con here fallaciously conflates two separate concepts, underlying general singularity in social convention and the existence of a single monolithic institution to carry out these conventions. Just because social convention generally lends itself to a singular set of norms (a fact which Con has not disputed), doesn't mean that this necessitates the carrying out of those norms by a single institution inasmuch as the simple fact that most retail chains sell more or less similar diapers doesn't necessitate that one mega-chain solely be responsible for diaper distribution. Furthermore there are other factors in play, for instance the beneficial checks of competition to take one example.
(B)- I'm honestly not sure where Con's logic is behind his point here. He argues that since conflicting doctrines exist prior to a legal system, they would lend themselves to a dominant monolithic legal system (i.e., a government). But this runs contrary to my previous point which Con conceded, that is, that a dominant set of legal and social norms generally arise in a given society, lending itself to a more singular set of legal norms. Again, this does not mean a singular institution to carry out those norms (singular set of social/legal norms =/= singular institution charges with upholding them) would be necessitated, it simply refutes Con's supposition that without a monolithic legal system, a disorienting array of conflicting customs would be thrown into the picture.
(C) Con's claim is essentially that "in anarchism, the wealthy would be able to rule through an unchecked ability to influence every aspect of life." My opponent is again making the mistake of simply throwing claims at anarchism without substantiation. It's true that anarchism wouldn't have concrete legal barriers to the wealthy influencing decisions (a claim which completely backfires against statism given the public choice problems which Con hasn't even attempted to deny). But that doesn't mean there wouldn't be barriers nonetheless i.e., in relation to alternatives like statism. I've already shown that statism itself isn't a barrier, but a key to the unfair control by the wealthy, so on that note anarchism is preferable by default.
-On the claim that whoever spent the most money on legal enforcement would become the victor in legal disputes is false (or at least unsubstantiated) since Con is essentially dismissing the entire idea of judicial arbitration and going straight to whoever has the biggest guns. Therefore his conclusion from this that "cost of law" would go up is unwarranted. I addressed this argument in R3 by showing that Con's related points of chaotically conflicting legal norms and non-possibility of neutral arbitration were flawed.
(C) On the problem of non-agreement in judicial arbitration, Con argues that in the case that disputants can't agree to arbitration, whoever has the most money or highest recourse to force would be the "legal victor", giving unfair advantage to the wealthy and driving up legal enforcement costs. I don't deny that in some instances agreement won't be possible. However, Con's point inevitably proves too much. For in instances of legal disagreement between parties in different nations, there would technically be no singular legal code which everyone would by default be forced to agree to. Therefore, if Con's point were to be brought to it's logical conclusion, it wouldn't so much justify the existence of states as it would justify the existence of a world State. I don't see why Con decides to draw the line between mono- and poly-centrism at nation-states when the supposed problem he finds in legal competition applies just as well to inter-state disputes.
(D) Con's claim here is that since anarchism rests on an anti-monopoly premise, it collapses in on itself since it possesses no legal mechanism to stop the formation of monopolies. Con then goes on to argue that the burden of proof rests on the Pro to prove that markets would not produce legal monopolies. Of course, this is completely contrary to how a burden of proof actually works. If Con actually thinks that legal monopolies would form under anarchism, I invite him to inject empirical evidence or logical reasoning to substantiate such a position. But it's certainly not my burden to disprove the possibility of legal monopolies just as much as it isn't Mitt Romney's burden to disprove the claim that he hasn't paid taxes in 10 years just because Harry Reid makes such a claim without evidence of his own (topical I know but it enforces the principle I'm getting at).
(E) Con next claims that my quoting of Mises was an appeal to authority. First, it doesn't matter even if it since it's not my burden in the first place to prove markets wouldn't lend themselves to legal monopolies seeing as it's Con's claim to defend. And second, the quote itself doesn't just say "Markets don't make monopolies- Mises". It actually provides concise reasoning. But on to Con's restatement of his more general argument for the efficiency of monocentric law, it runs into several distinct problems.
(i) It makes the mistake of conflating incentive structures between private and public organizations. When nations have disputes they go to war, therefore, supposedly, private organizations must do the same. There's no reason to think though that an organization funded entirely by voluntary contributions for services (and one vulnerable to competition) would possess the same incentive structures as an organization funded the same regardless of service (through taxation) and open to no geographical competition. We see that when one is forced to pay the cost of violent conflict, one becomes more open to peaceful resolution. Con has certainly given us no reason to think otherwise.
(ii) I have already refuted this above but it deserves mention again. Con is conflating the existence of multiple organizations with the purpose of enforcing social/legal norms with chaotically different co-existing social/legal norms. Again, the latter doesn't follow from the former and Con has never provided any reason to think so. So there might be institution A and B charged with mutually enforcing dominant social norms X, but that doesn't mean there must necessarily (or even plausibly) be other dominant social norms Y, Z, ....etc.
Con's refutations runs along fallacious reasoning. Con claims that anarchism would lead to rule of the wealthy but ignores both the empirical evidence suggesting States are even worse off in this department as well as the theoretical reasoning which seemingly necessitates this trend among States. Furthermore Con claims that the costs of legal enforcement would increase under anarchism, ignoring both the economic results of monopoly (in legal enforcement) which turn against Statism as well as the fact that applying public incentives to private organizations is non-analogical and misleading. Con's other claims, that multiple institutions charged to defend legal norms somehow means the same thing as multiple dominant legal systems, that I am somehow charged with positively refuting Con's own unbacked claim about monopolies, along with Con's unwitting justification of world government by means of his disagreement in legal enforcement fail to offer any compelling objections to anarchism or polycentric systems of governance. Therefore I urge a Pro vote.
Thank you to Fourtrouble for doing this debate with me, as always it was a pleasure.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Smithereens 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con gave win to Pro in comments.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I'll put this on my read list but for now, Conduct to Pro for the final round forfeit.
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