The Need For Balance

3 Jan

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

-CS Lewis

This isn’t what I was planning to write, but with 2016 now over I think it merits examination.

What, if I may start with a question, is the difference between fascism and communism?

There isn’t one, save for the lies told to maintain the system.

I think a few people may disagree with that assertion, but I think it is basically true. Fascism is a system in which all the resources of the nation are bent towards the needs of the state, a command economy where individuals are seen as nothing more than interchangeable nuts and bolts. Communism is a system where all the resources of the nation are gathered up by the state and used to serve the people, a command economy where – in theory – “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” In both cases, the important issue is that there is a command economy (in the belief that a person or group of persons with absolute power can fix everything) – and that such an economy invariably brings dictatorship.

Why? People don’t like having their goods and produce confiscated, either for the good of the state or for the benefit of faceless masses they don’t know. The leaders of the society, therefore, have to choose between building enforcement arms (the Gestapo, the NKVD/KGB, assorted religious police forces) or accepting the collapse of their society. In almost all cases, particularly when the leaders are unable to back down (they’re ideologically driven or at risk of being brutally lynched), they choose to build the enforcement arms and use them. If they haven’t already developed bad habits, they do now. Violence and brutality lead to corruption and social decay.

And at that point, they are either already dominated by a dictator or a power-hungry official is readying his bid to take over.

The lies told to the public are different, of course. Hitler spoke of the Fatherland; Lenin and Stalin spoke of socialism and communism; Khomeini spoke of Islam (Islamism is effectively a form of fascism). Some dictatorships are more successful than others. But the underlying truth is that extremism – whatever the political/religious base – eventually leads to tyranny. One may argue that fascism is more honest than communism (or Islamism) From the point of view of the people groaning under its weight, it hardly matters. All that matters is survival – and eventually breaking the dictatorship.

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Those of us on the right will recoil- and roll our eyes – when we hear a leftist suggesting that the eventual end result of right-wing politics will lead to a Somalia-like state. No laws, lots of guns, the strong bullying the weak … all in all, a pretty shitty place to live. And, like most childish arguments, it can be countered quite easily. The eventual end result of left-wing politics will lead to a Soviet Union-like state: lots of laws, no guns, the strong bullying the weak … all in all, a pretty shitty place to live.

Both arguments miss the point. There is a need for balance between the right and the left (insofar as such terms are useful these days), between freedom and security, between rights and responsibilities, between individuals and governments. And it is that balance which is steadily being eroded into nothingness.

My regular readers know that my wife and I (and our son) divide our time between Britain and Malaysia. Britain is, in many ways, an over-regulated society; Malaysia, by contrast, is an under-regulated society.

Here’s a very simple example. The place we rented last year was a two-story apartment – we had the bottom, someone else had the top. They also had a garden. During our stay, the people above us did a number of relatively small modifications to their driveway and garden. None of our business, you might think? That didn’t stop the local council from sending notes around asking if we had any concerns or objections before granting planning permission. I don’t think that any reasonable mishaps during construction would have posed a threat to either the building or us personally. And yet getting planning permission – and completion certificates – is a bureaucratic hassle.

The obvious rejoinder to this is that there might have been a threat to our house (which we didn’t actually own). But there was none. The owners owned the property. And yet they still had to grovel to the council for permission to make even a minor set of changes! If they had wanted to do something which did pose a threat, it would be a different matter. But they didn’t.

In Malaysia, things are different. Planning permission is a joke. No one gives much of a damn if landlords change things at whim. But there’s also a significant lack of safety standards and feasibility studies. On one hand, near Kuala Lumpur, there are a number of homes and shopping malls that stand empty, that will probably never be filled; on the other, there have been reports of houses, shops and even stadiums collapsing because the builders skimped on the materials. Many places I have visited, in Malaysia, struck me as terrifyingly unsafe.

There has to be balance.

Consider tolerance, for example. It’s a virtue, right? And yes, there is something to be said for being tolerant – particularly of things that don’t actually affect you. But it is extremely dangerous to tolerate intolerance, to tolerate things that pose a very real threat to the rest of the population. Where does one draw the line?

People have the right, IMHO, to do whatever they like, as long as it is done between consenting adults in private. Maybe it’s a bad choice – and there’s no promise of happiness -but it’s theirs to make. But what happens when it isn’t between consenting adults in private? And I don’t just mean sex. What about guns or drugs or religion? A person may have the right to drink, but they don’t have the right to try to drive home afterwards. And yet, what if they claim they do? Or what if a person’s religion demands intolerance? Or what if …

This isn’t a question many find comfortable. Indeed, there are factions on the right that love drawing lines and factions on the left that refuse to even consider drawing lines. And vice versa. There is, again, a need for balance.

Politeness is another issue. People should be polite to one another. But, at the same time, people should not hesitate to call out problems, to challenge others over issues that need to be discussed, even – perhaps especially – if they make people uncomfortable. Declaring entire regions off-limits for rational discussion is not helpful.

And while too many government regulations can be lethal, so too can too few.

There is a need for balance, a need to keep society stable. And both sides of our increasingly fractured political system have forgotten that. Indeed, in an era where compromise is regarded as a sign of weakness, even those who remember that are reluctant to try to compromise for fear it will be used against them.

Society is a pendulum. If pulled too far to one side, it swings back to the other twice as hard.

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34 Responses to “The Need For Balance”

  1. Glen Romero January 3, 2017 at 9:04 pm #

    I’m on your side for balance because your right about the right being to right and the left being to left. I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle seeing the errors of both paths. I know from experience that you can lose your job though no fault of your own and need some help. I’ve also seen the people that get int he trap of living off this support that should only be a net. I seen how unions save jobs that have no meaning like farriers for a power company that hasn’t used horses in decades, and I’ve seen them fight management trying to take from their laborers and not willing to take from themselves. Unfortunately I’m not sure we can get balance without drastic measures because the corruption in my government won’t weed itself out.

  2. Ian Strange January 3, 2017 at 9:39 pm #

    Karl Marx and Frederick Engels said that a communist society is classless, stateless, and moneyless. True communism is not a command economy. The fact that ‘communist state’ is an oxymoron should indicate how communist the USSR actually was, same with the PRC. Your assertions apply to communist states, which are not actually communist societies, but not to the actual ideology of communism. It’s useful to keep in mind that communist states are only communist in the sense of claiming communism as the end goal. However, in most cases, the actual idealists and revolutionaries (e.g. Lenin) if they ever did exist, died off and were replaced by people who didn’t want communism so much as power (e.g. Stalin), making the communist ideology of the state a lie to control the people, as you said. However, these so-called ‘communist states’ should not represent communism in general, as the USSR under Stalin, for instance, was very far removed from the vision of Marx and Engels.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 3, 2017 at 10:01 pm #

      IMO there’s not much difference between “Lenin wanting power to create his vision of a better society” and “Stalin wanting power for himself”.

      Of course, I consider the “vision of Marx and Engels” completely unrealistic and the fact that no “true communistic society” has existed is evidence of that.

      But then, we also hear that the Soviet Union would have “worked” if the right people were in charge. 😦

      • chrishanger January 5, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

        It couldn’t have worked. Either the party started out monstrous or it becomes monstrous.

        Chris

      • bc January 7, 2017 at 6:37 pm #

        Yeah, if only the right people were in charge is also the claim of an absolute monarchy. Even if they could find the right people, what happens when they get old and die? And how many more millions of people must be thrown on the bonfire before they get their brief period of “true communisim”?

    • Drowe January 4, 2017 at 5:29 pm #

      I agree that from an ideological standpoint, communism is very much unlike fascism. But achieving this utopian society is impossible as long as there is such a thing as scarcity of resources and energy. If technology is so advanced, that you can fulfill all your basic needs without having to work for it, then communism might be possible. Although I doubt this will ever happen and it would lead most likely to a complete stagnation once there is nothing to strive for anymore.

      Until such a point is reached, communism inevitably leads to a dystopian society.

      • shrekgrinch January 5, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

        “Although I doubt this will ever happen and it would lead most likely to a complete stagnation once there is nothing to strive for anymore.”

        People will strive for more abstract things. Craftmanship, artwork, research, skinny dipping contests, etc.

        In other words, the Rise of the Eloi but with fabbers and more bar fights!

        Also, the lower the real stakes are about something the more likely the conflict. Hence why I said, “more bar fights”. Just hope the soccer fan wars don’t go nuclear.

    • Vapori January 4, 2017 at 7:24 pm #

      Karl Marx and Engels were actually, quite good in laying the finger in the wounds of capitalism and a class Society.
      They cleary saw the mistakes, and tat is ingreed a great achievement
      Still they were not able to correct them.
      There versions of improving that state proved to be unworkable and unrealistic.
      Every Comonistic country or movement failed to archive the goals. and there were quite a few who tried.

  3. BobPM January 3, 2017 at 11:32 pm #

    I believe Khrushchev claimed communism would bury the west, and in the 50’s it looked like it might, but when many years later Brezhnev was asked what happened his answer was that they did not expect the west to adopt so many socialist policies. If you read Marx, many of his complaints about the robber baron style capitalism of the 19th century were accurate, but his remedy failed to account for the goals and motivations of men.

    Unfortunately, the fall of communism removed a philosophical pole and has led in the US to the idea of the triumph of pure capitalism as opposed to modern capitalism that included a social safety net and the regulatory state. I totally agree with your position on the need for a balance between laissez faire capitalism and regulation, but fear the argument is drifting in the wrong direction. When Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” we had serious problems to address. Today we have forgotten just what food safety, workplace safety, environmental rules, securities regulation and the like do to encourage fair competition.

    I would also recommend looking at Francis Fukuyama’s “Origins of Political Order” that looks at the influence of bureaucracy in creating ancient human civilizations from China, to 18th century Europe. Its particular emphasis is on the development of a meritocratic civil service that displaces, and sometimes falls to paternalism.

  4. Anarchymedes January 4, 2017 at 12:07 am #

    A legend from my martial arts past.
    There was once a great samurai who never lost a battle (Miyamoto Musasi himself?) When a young warrior asked him what makes him unbeatable, he answered, two inches. When my opponent cuts the air around me, he said, I cut his clothes; if he cuts my cloths, I cut his body; if he cuts my body, I cut his bones; and if he cuts my bones, I hack him into halves.
    The way I always understood this, you should always be two inches ahead: if someone is nice to you, be by two inches nicer to them; if someone is being an a**hole… well, you get the picture. That’s all I have to say about balance: tolerance, pluralism, respect, and so on. And the division on “lefties” and “righties” who now see political messages everywhere sound silly to me. No offense.
    Plus, I’ve done my time under Communists, and I can say two things. First, humans remain humans. They may ban till the’re green and blue, but people will do what comes naturally regardless. The only difference is, the prohibitions will send things like, say, prostitution totally underground, which means, out of any control.
    And second, all control freaks, no matter what they call themselves: Communist, fascists, kings, priests, or just bosses, are never satisfied telling people what to do. They must also tell people what to think, and how to feel. And if they sense that they can never truly control how you think and feel, you’ll be their mortal enemy. That’s my personal experience, both in the former USSR and in the West.
    P. S. So much romantisied Sparta was a classic fascist state that discarded sick babies. Just saying.

  5. PhilippeO January 4, 2017 at 2:27 am #

    Agree with you on need of balance. I think most people with very minor exception ( Leftist who read Jacobin on the Left, Ayn Rand fanatics on the Right) believe on need of balance.

    The problem is equilibrium of balance is different between each person. A Sanders supporters could argue that Scandinavia economy is equilibrium between Somalia and USSR. An night-watchman staters could also argue that his position is also in balance and New Deal is too close to communism for comfort. Most people believe his position is ‘moderate’ one while the other is ‘radical’.

  6. Billy January 4, 2017 at 4:01 am #

    Where the balance was broken is Obamacare , it broke it.

    It was not anything in Obamacare. If you had a choice to buy Obamacare or not to buy it.
    (Bad as it was) then it would not have been a problem. If you could take it or leave it.

    The government is forcing us to buy it or face fines that go up exponentially every year.

    This is the first time in the USA history that the government forced everyone to buy a product or else be punished.

    And the fact that the product (Obamacare ) is a flawed mess with super high deductibles and higher price that anyone wanted to pay was just too much.

    They (Obama and our government) forgot how the USA even became a country. A different country was forcing us to pay a tax without asking us if we wanted to do that. And so we had the Boston Tea Party.

    So we had a Trump Party. Everyone who voted for Trump is Trump (Except without all that money) we are imperfect people , which is why we overlook his imperfections.
    (He is doing and will do what we would do if we could)

    Which is why at his (Trumps) rally s, you have 50,000 people canting USA ! USA ! USA !

    With Trump right in the middle of the rally. (I saw that on TV, talk about power.)

    Trump is our King David who has just took out Goliath and the next 8 years will be something to see.

    • Anarchymedes January 4, 2017 at 7:51 am #

      ‘Trump is our King David.’
      Wow. To be honest, it scares me when a 21st-century individual talks like that. Leaving alone Stalin, who was ‘our father’ for some, as far as I remember, wasn’t there something in the Bible, about ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me?’

      • kell January 4, 2017 at 9:15 am #

        He didn’t say that trump was a god. In the 21 st century you can’t have a faith?
        While I am not as gung ho about trump the anology is acuarate as is historical contect. Essentially an underdog with the giant being the media and all of the political elite. All of the the liberals comparing him to Hitler. Way too far. Yet he won even though all the polls were against him. Its actually a good comparison.
        Of course you could say he might end up like king David who started off great but eventually made mistakes that eventually set his country up for failure down the road.Along with destroying his family…

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 4, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

        The way some Democrats talked about Obama sounded like he was their God-King.

        For that matter, Obama seemed to believe that he was one and nobody in his circles seemed to call him on it.

      • shrekgrinch January 4, 2017 at 7:05 pm #

        What was scary was the Dems WORSHIPPING Obama like he was some sort of messiah or even God. A couple of schools under the thrall of teacher union hacks even started having their students sing praise songs to Obama that were practically right out of a North Korean newsreel.

        VERY scary.

        Yet, I doubt you had any problem with that at the time. Am I correct?

      • Anarchymedes January 5, 2017 at 8:27 am #

        Well, to me personally, neither Obama nor Trump are kings, or gods, or fathers – but then I’m not an American. And I do have a huge prejudice against any personality cult – which is why I’ve never been a ‘fan’ of any celebrity: a ‘fan’ is the short for a ‘fanatic,’ and one of my favourite sayings goes, not every fool is a fanatic, but every fanatic is a fool. Once again: no offence, fan clubs. 🙂

  7. BobStewartatHome January 4, 2017 at 4:43 am #

    Another way to frame the problem is who owns who. The remarkable thing about the American Revolution was that it was based on a premise that individuals, all individuals who are citizens that is, own the government. This was a departure from the the Magna Carta in which the ruler agreed that he had a responsibility to rule wisely and for the benefit of his subjects. It went much farther. It has been thrown away since the rule of FDR. Now “good social policy” is judged by some Supreme Court Justices as justification for discarding individual rights. Under FDR, a farmer could no longer grow wheat for his own use, say as feed for his animals, because it diminished the interstate commerce of wheat. The American ideal prior to FDR was that all rights are vested in individuals, and the central government was limited in the degree to which it could usurp these rights. This is gone, and has been gone for 80 years. In fact, the rule of law has been largely discarded in order to facilitate the regulatory state. Agencies of the Federal government act as prosecutor, judge and jury in those areas assigned to their “expert” management. The issues are considered “civil” and not “criminal”, but the consequences for the individual are bankruptcy and confinement in Federal prisons. There are no rights of the accused. All of the silly “rights” provided by the Supreme Court for felons are denied those whom the unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats decide to ruin.

    National Socialism or Communism, call it what you will, are based on the premise that the state is everything, and the individual is nothing. It is presumed that material endowments are the purpose of all life, and the argument is made that central control of society will inevitably result in greater efficiencies and more material wealth. This presumed efficiency is, of course, false, as we have seen time after time.

    Islam is a different kettle of fish. It is basically a self perpetuating form of government for those who would steal from their neighbors rather than be productive themselves.

    So if we want to make a graph of these ideas, let the “y” axis be the place of the individual in society. Place the American ideal at plus one (y=+1), and the socialist governments at zero (y=0). If the “x” axis is productivity, then Islam is at zero (0), and the other forms of government would fall in the positive range, with Capitalism being the leader, say at plus one (x=+1). We have seen that the socialist forms fall short of this ideal by a significant margin. In terms of our governments today in the normal (x,y) fashion, I would place ISIS at (0,0), the US at (.8,.3), and the Nazis and the Soviet Union at (.5,0).

    It is also the case that Capitalism cannot exist without significant individual rights, especially the rule of law and right to own property. If we use history as our guide, we can conclude that high productivity is only achieved via individual initiative and the right to benefit from the fruits of one’s labors. So any form of government that does not honor the individual will inevitably fall short of achieving significant levels of productivity. In WWII, the U. S. and Britain used competition as the means for eliciting the best from our arms suppliers. In Germany and Japan, slave labor and central control consigned them to the ash heap of history. The Soviet Union only survived due to materiel supplied by the Allies. That and the brutal sacrifice of millions of her soldiers fed into the machines of slaughter.

    It is a terrible mistake to pretend that National Socialism and Capitalism are somehow aligned. They differ fundamentally, whereas National Socialism and International Communism differ only in their prospective audience.

    • Anarchymedes January 4, 2017 at 7:32 am #

      Here comes the balance again: individual rights are everything. Well and good, but humans are tribal species (don’t want to say ‘pack animals,’ correct as it may be from the purely biological viewpoint). One of the major survival advantages of humans over most non-sentient species is the ability of an individual to sacrifice him/herself for the sake of the tribe.
      On the other hand, when an individual is nothing, then how can a tribe – or pack, or whatever – make decisions? It needs a leader, who is, of necessity, an individual, which brings us to the reality of all forms of totalitarian rule: all individuals are nothing, but some are less nothing then the others.
      Humans can’t exist in total isolation, and the levelling pack suffering from the tall poppy syndrome eventually becomes self-destructive. My personal idea is that there is simply a critical mass of humanity (the population size) beyond which the society can’t help but become volatile and, ultimately, suicidal; and the solutions are: 1. a world war that culls the flock, or 2. developing an FTL drive and getting away from each other. Chris, you’re a sci-fi author: the ball is in your court. 🙂

  8. kell January 4, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    Shoot I was at work on down time talking about current events the government and the election which was not against company policy bit we were still called out cause somebody might say something that would offend someone else despite the fact that we were all being friendly and we were just talking. Sigh our freedom of speach is being chipped away. If you have an opinion can just shut you down by saying you are a racest or a biget. If your religious and you are not for people teaching about homosexualality in schools you our obviously a homophope and hate gay people. If you our uncomfortable about sharing a bathroom with a man whether he calls himself a woman or not you our clearly a hateful person who doesn’t care about trans peoples safety having to go to a male bathroom. Sigh There will always be people who will have different beliefs or opinions. Shutting people up just cause they don’t agree with you. I just like when we couldn’t criticize kings or ruling classes. Sigh neither the left Nor the right our acting very tolerent. Though I think were just reacting to each other. The more one side pulls the other tugs away harder. We really do need a real third party.

  9. kell January 4, 2017 at 9:31 am #

    Shoot I was at work on down time talking about current events the government and the election which was not against company policy but we were still called out cause somebody might say something that would offend someone else despite the fact that we were all being friendly and we were just talking. Sigh our freedom of speach is being chipped away. If you have an opinion people can just shut you down by saying you are a racest or a biget. If you’re religious and you are not for people teaching about homosexualality in schools you our obviously a homophobe and hate gay people. If you our uncomfortable about sharing a bathroom with a man whether he calls himself a woman, or not you our clearly a hateful person who doesn’t care about trans peoples safety having to go to a male bathroom. Sigh There will always be people who will have different beliefs or opinions. Shutting people up just cause they don’t agree with you. Its just like when we couldn’t criticize kings or the ruling classes. Sigh neither the left Nor the right our acting very tolerent. Though I think were just reacting to each other. The more one side pulls the other tugs away harder. We really do need a real third party.

  10. Brad January 4, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    Wow. Lot’s of commentary here, and great reading (some, anyway). I recall being taught that fascism and communism were on the opposite ends of a scale of political/social structures. Fuzzy recollection, as it was so long ago. My belief now is that there is not a continuous line, with opposites on end, but rather a circle, with fascism and communism next to each other. Weird concept maybe, but I agree that the two systems are similar in operation.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 4, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

      Elsewhere some body said that Fascism is “For The State” and Communism is “For The People”.

      Of course, in both situations the Leaders decide “What’s Good For The State or What’s Good For The People”.

      Neither situation allows the average person to have a voice in deciding what the “Good” is.

  11. Johnz January 4, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

    Rules do not apply if there is nobody to follow or enforces it.

    Just last year my country postponed for forth time a law that mandated company owners to log in to their public email. This public email should provide a communication channel between government organizations and company owners. The reason was no government organization used this channel and there were to few company owners logged in (less than 10 percent).

    One point from the “communistic block”. People never lived under communism. Communism never happened, people were building communism. Future dream of utopic state. That is how propaganda was selling misery. Regulated media broadcasted only bad news from abroad. The message was: “Yes it is bad, but you are building a dream and outside it is worse.”

    People that lived and worked under this rule often say: “If just these bad things never happened this system would work. If just…”.

  12. shrekgrinch January 4, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

    Unless you have a very static society, there can never be balance as you propose. The pendulum will swing one way or another, always.

    • Vapori January 4, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

      that is very true, democracy is after all just the right to get it good and hard and be disappointed in the end.

      People will vote for a candidate, roughly 50% of the voters will be displeassed, because they wanted another candidate.
      Then the elected candidate will have some mild successes.

      Obama for example can claim that he introduced a public healthcare, with some minimum standards no matter how flawed it is.

      Bin laden died.

      He didn’t held some other’s. like closing Guantanamo bay or closing some holes in the taxing laws.

      Then the pendle swings back, as it did Globally and, now Mr Trump is in charge.

      I guess, he will have some mild successes, as well maybe building the wall to mexico or changing the trading laws, but some things he promised will be impossible to hold.

      And when some of the Trump voters will change sides, the pendle might swing back, in one election, or maybe a decade later.

      Also I think that, the true problem, is that certain parts of socity are drifting appart.

      And they don’t understand each other anymore while they argument a bit like this.

      I am a rational/good human being.
      Because I am a rational/good human being, I believe X.
      If you do not believe X, you are either ignorant, stupid, or evil.
      Because you are ignorant, stupid, or evil, it is useless to debate with you and pointless to listen to you.

      (actully a quote from Marion G Harmon, but I think it hits the nail.)

      • shrekgrinch January 4, 2017 at 9:54 pm #

        When I refer to ‘static society’, I was thinking of Ancient Eqypt and Ancient China. That included active clamping down of any disruptive innovation.

  13. Bewildered January 5, 2017 at 7:42 pm #

    I’m not convinced as regards your point about tolerance and manners. You said it was dangerous to tolerate intolerance, but isn’t that intolerant itself, after all who decides what is or is not intolerance? Aren’t you therefore simply saying that some forms of intolerance are good? Take your point about religion demanding intolerance for instance. Many, perhaps even most religions condemn adultery, however is that a matter of intolerance or standards of right and wrong? Are we intolerant of murderers and rapists, or do we simply have standards in our society? And if we do say adultery is wrong, are we bigots for saying so or are the bigots those who insist that adultery is a natural orientation and it is wrong to condemn it? Bill Clinton rather springs to mind! If condemning adultery is an act of intolerance, yet we say that Clinton et al are great guys, just prone to wrong acts, are we still intolerant? I guess I must be strongly right as IMHO society cannot exist without clearly delineated lines. You say the left refuse to consider lines, yet isn’t that a line in and of itself? As for politeness, why can’t you call out problems and still be polite? You seem to have conflated subjects.

    Now get back to writing, I’m waiting for the next installment! 😀

    • chrishanger January 8, 2017 at 8:23 am #

      My general rule is that anything that takes place between consenting adults in private is fine . There’s a lot of perfectly legal things that can be done between adults that disgust me.

      Where religion is concerned, for example, you have the right to practice, but not the right to harm others.

      Chris

      • Bewildered January 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

        The question is where the ‘harm line’ lies. Everyone, certainly most, would accept that violence constitutes harm. The real issue is whether it constitutes acceptable harm, and the view of ISIS and Quakers for instance would differ. Perhaps the other extreme would be Dawkin’s view that teaching religion as fact counts as abuse versus a failure to ground your kids in Truth and reality is abuse (neglect). If we can’t agree on whether violence is harm, nor the kind of teaching that counts as abuse how are we to agree about what’s harmful for society in general? Is harm determined by majority consensus of the ruling elite?

        To put the issue into Zero Blessing terms, that world appears to feel that transfiguration spells don’t count as abuse, but that a punch in the nose is never acceptable, though obviously views do differ – and those not of the elite may especially disagree. While it is true a transfiguration spell may not cause physical damage what of the mental damage inflicted? And while a punch may cause physical damage, if the act is to correct a wrong how is it harm?

      • chrishanger January 20, 2017 at 3:49 am #

        It’s something that has to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

        Chris

  14. Billy January 6, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    Wow, Trumps intelligence briefing has been leaked to NBC’s Cable channel MSNBC .

    And Trump has not even had the briefing yet.

    Talk about mad.

    Heads are going to roll January 20 th, Trump fires people , unlike Obama.

  15. nick012000 January 8, 2017 at 4:46 am #

    >I think a few people may disagree with that assertion, but I think it is basically true. Fascism is a system in which all the resources of the nation are bent towards the needs of the state, a command economy where individuals are seen as nothing more than interchangeable nuts and bolts.

    That’s not really true, you know. At the very least, it is a vast over-simplification. It would be more accurate to say that National Socialists believed that capitalism was generally a good thing, but that it could go too far and become predatory and parasitic on the people of the country; it’s not too dissimilar to the opinion you expressed on government regulation in this post.

    They supported the “good” capitalists that actually made things that supported the good of the country; if you wanted to open a factory making cars, a bakery that makes bread, or a farm that grows food, great! They totally supported you; you were more than welcome to make as much money as your talents and the market allowed you. On the other hand, if you wanted to make money without contributing anything of real value (e.g. bankers and stock speculators leeching off of other people’s money), or if you wanted to make money off of other people’s suffering and degradation (e.g. pimps and pornographers making money off of exploiting and degrading women), they weren’t for that: they nationalized the banks, and banned the sex trade.

    Once the war started, the needs of the wartime economy started to change that, of course, but that happened in all the Western nations, including America and Britain; rationing books were issued to the people of America and Germany alike.

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