Wolf DeVoon Posted January 31, 2008 Share Posted January 31, 2008 The best of questions, and I thank youPosted by: Wolf DeVoon on 22 May 2002 at 12:09:24 AMIn-Reply-To: Official: nothing can stop another terrorist attack posted by decimon: Please explain to me why I'm to care about what are your concerns? I have no children. At the age of 56 I've lived the better part of my life. There is no afterlife to bother me. It is in my rational self-interest to do nothing so why am I to care about you or your child? We've not become altruists, have we? I'm 52 this year, so I understand the point about having lived the better part of my life, with the proviso that there is something I want to do for my own sense of fulfillment and achievement before I become too infirm to make the attempt. Thank you for referencing Objectivism. Thank you also for asking the right question. I offer the following merely as a statement of opinion, hastily composed. One of the intellectual traditions (and unprecedented material wealth made possible by millions who joined the American Experiment later and observed that tradition) we inherited free, gratis, was bequeathed to us by Jefferson, who spoke of our innocent posterity and the commonweal. Such concepts are not meaningless to me. I am among Jefferson's free and equal posterity, recipient of more than I could possibly produce in payment. At the base of my theory of justice, echoing the valid progress of legal reasoning throughout the centuries, is the presumption of innocence and fundamentally fair if not perfectly objective trial of fact. You and every other person including the corporate "person" of the state stand theoretically equal before the law in this Anglo-American tradition of due process. For your own sake, I would argue, it behooves you to acknowledge the distinction between guilt and innocence. In early English common law, it was accepted that "A dead thing can do no felony," which exonerated inanimate objects (swords, knives). Recently reacquainted with a newborn's limited powers, I'm persuaded that they, too, are incapable of serious crime. I have argued that the force of law is weak; culture is strong -- and liberty inalienable. When all three are aligned, the commonweal is observable and a cause for celebration of demonstrable, measurable social achievement. Undoubtedly, some individual(s) made it possible through first-mover innovation. But culture is not a personal work. In the heart and mind of every American, surely there is an awareness, however dimmed by confusion, that our prosperity, civility, and evolving aspirations are as much the received "blessings of liberty" and a vast scientific and capital infrastructure inherited from others, as they are also our individuated, unprompted and personal achievement(s). Without Ayn Rand, I could have done little or nothing, in my opinion. Without Fleming's penicillin, I wouldn't be here at all, because I contracted scarlet fever as a child. There is no doubt in my mind that our society with others is only partly voluntary or deliberate, especially as minor children. I acknowledge a child's legal right to say "No!" however ill-advised and a child's right to petition the courts for relief. But the concept of legality did not commence with me. Roscoe Pound did the heavy lifting, citing Grotius and many others. The specific issue at hand, raised by your question, is whether you or any other individual has -- for lack of a better word -- some civic obligation in respect of the truly innocent. I do not think it matters whether one has biological children or not. I find it difficult to turn a blind eye to suffering, and on the past board I agreed with Scott Miller that benevolence if not charity makes life more pleasant. My house sits between two shacks. If either shack burned to the ground, mine would not, because I've taken selfish preventative measures. But I could not remain indifferent to the fate of my poorer neighbors or their children. While there is no positive obligation to do anything at all, my ex-wife and I have been busy on and off for three years raising money to buy (at least to transport and refurbish) a fire engine for the village. I'm also interested in the suppression of crime and dangerous drug use, which does not affect me personally, because I have superlative provision for personal safety, but could deeply wound the mood and tenor of the community at large if allowed to grow unchecked. So far, everything I've cited could be interpreted as selfishness. I want a peaceful, cheerful place to live. As an influential and trusted member of the community, like others who are similiarly situated, the future is mine to provide or neglect. But there is a dimension of dignity that transcends one man's wish for local peace and prosperity. It is often observed today that the world has become a global market, a global village, by virtue of low-cost transport and wide diffusion of knowledge. Remarkably, this forum is regularly joined by real-time participants from three or four continents. Remarks in Congress are relayed everywhere on the planet and are monitored closely by millions of people, whose fortunes, for better or worse, are intimately linked to U.S. domestic economic and foreign policy. I asked you to participate in ending an injustice as I understand it, partly to limit our national exposure to Arab terrorist attacks in particular, but generally to advance certain principles of American political health. If you believe that individual freemen residing in the US have no power to influence the outcome, I will not argue it down. Much of my work has consisted of encouraging people to shrug. Eddie Willers ("Don't let it go!") is not my model of heroism or propriety. It is only in the context of opportunity that I suggested we raise as many voices as possible in objection to cabalistic, corrupt government. A democracy implies public debate -- especially now. Having said too much, it comes down to this. I would prefer to die someday secure in the knowledge that I made an effort to defend the innocent. Countless children will inherit whatever we choose to provide or make an effort to provide, without the assurance of success. Jefferson looked at this continuity of history, past and future, and concluded he could not inflict, by indifference, certain servitude and degradation upon future generations. I am sometimes a poor spokesman for human rights. My first concern was, properly, my personal ambitions and interests. But the puzzle of property brought me around to consider the dimension of "general consent" -- a widely shared agreement that does not bind any freeman, but supports his and others' claim to just possession. David Friedman thinks good laws and customs are inevitable. I don't. Utility is plain conjecture, and pragmatism a specific evil. General consent, if it means anything, is the slow, steady evolution of reason, pioneered by the few and transmitted to the many. Please transmit. That's all I ask. W. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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