Signed up: 10 years ago (10/12/04)
Last signed in: 1 year ago
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28 year-old male from Manhattan, NY
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Backwashed ThoughtsMongo:
You failed to to see how your comments would be taken, and instead of trying to rephrase or clarify, you start going after people for opinions they do not have.
Incorrect. It is indeed the opinions they must have if they do not wish to be considered wrong. This is simply the reality of the situation. I do not believe they view slavery as a not-so-bad thing, but in all this confusion they are indeed saying either that or are arguing something that is factually incorrect (that slaves did not receive anything from their masters). I presented them three options in post 5222. Option 1, that slaves received nothing from their masters, is clearly wrong. Slaves did have shelter, food, clothing and other goods and services provided either by their master or through their own labor that was not appropriated by the master. I subscribe to Option 2, that slaves did receive goods from their masters (which is correct), and that being a slave still sucked (my value judgment, which I imagine everyone here shares).

Chi, DoNothing and others may choose Option 1, 2 or 3. If they choose 1, they are wrong. If they choose 3, they believe slavery was not-so-bad. If they choose 2, we are in agreement and there does not need to be any discussion. I imagine they would all choose 2, despite their repeated suggestions that by arguing a slave received goods, his lot in life must not have been so bad.

It is also precisely my concern that my comments have been taken in such a gross way. If people here cannot read a simple, declarative statement like, "A slave in America got shelter, food, clothing, medical care and other benefits," and address the accuracy of the statement instead of reacting to what the statement may imply given other facts or values, how can there ever be any substantive discussion?

Imagine we're discussing the American Civil War. I write, "In the battle at Fredericksburg, 12,653 men in the Union army died." A person then responds, "So the Civil War wasn't worth it? We should have just let slavery continue!?" How valuable do you anticipate this discussion to be? Do you expect it go anywhere worthwhile?

And how was I to rephrase and clarify that which I never said? I did say several times, in very clear language, that I never judged the slaves' condition as being not-so-bad. Am I to say it in French or Japanese to lay the matter to rest?

To DoNothing and Chi_Mangetsu:
Do you disagree that, by choosing to work, a slave believed he would continue to enjoy these goods and keep his family and his body safe from harm?
Could either of you please tell me how the word enjoy can be read to mean anything other than "to have the use or benefit of"? Does it make any sense to interpret my statement as saying, "If slaves did not work, they would no longer gain any happiness from shelter, clothing, etc"? When you consider that little thing called context, it is all too clear that I am saying that, if a slave did not work, he would no longer have the use of the shelter, food and other goods provided by his master.

It's certainly possible I wrote a non-sequitur and, in the midst of arguing that slaves worked to keep using the goods given to them, I wanted to argue that, should a slave not work, he would still have the use of shelter but would suddenly find that it grants him no happiness. But a person looking for an honest debate and not an easy diversion from answering the simple questions posed to him must presume that the opponent's arguments are coherent, unless there is simply no other way to take it.

Regardless, I ask you two: Suppose I did argue that a slave gained happiness from having shelter and food and clothing. Do you contend that a slave, being a slave, was unable to enjoy anything in life, no matter how miserable his general condition may be relative to others? A slave simply was incapable of deriving any enjoyment from the use of clothing or shelter or food or a lashed-free back? He was always and forever unhappy?

A simple yes or no would suffice. That requires fewer keystrokes than evading the question and calling me a fucking idiot.

Back to Mongo:
You categorically define government as coercion and the free market as purely voluntary action. It's not even a thought to you that the markets can be as (or as I believe, worse) coercive as government.
You misunderstand. By definition, the market is indeed purely voluntary action.* The market is only catallactic action - that is, voluntary exchange conducted with money. Non-catallactic action, such as listening to your girlfriend in the hopes of getting busy or mugging a man on the street, is not part of 'the market,' despite the fact that both can loosely be called exchanges.

Coercion, then, is necessarily excluded from the market. If a person enslaves another, it is not considered part of the market. If a person takes money from another, it is not part of the market. If something is done absent money or involuntarily, it is not being done in the market. This is not to say that, in a society absent the state, it is impossible for there to be slaves or thieves or frauds. We only say that such actions are not part of the market, as we say that a person flying a plane is not engaged in the act of sailing.

That widespread social order cannot be effectively provided through the market process is an understandable objection. That people in a stateless society would run rampant, coercing one another into doing things they would rather not do, is a perfectly acceptable argument for you to make. I must clarify, however, that such behavior does not qualify as market activity, and that when I say that something should be done through the market, I do not mean it should be done by any means other than through the institution of the state. I necessarily mean it should be done with a respect to property and contract and with the benefit of monetary calculation.
4 years ago  |  Comments (5)  |  - 4 Lame
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Name Michael J. Green
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