It’s commonly hypothesized that each of us live our own lives in the pursuit of prosperity, happiness, and comfort. Most of us are striving for such pursuits while attempting to walk in accordance to our own virtue, value, and faith; straying from this idealized path as little as possible. For the sake of compression, and to avoid a repetitive nature, I will henceforth summarize these ideals – virtues, values, faith – under the umbrella of ethics.
Your ethics, whether we see it or not, are vastly different from mine. There is surely some minor deviation between the two of us that (if built upon) would rapidly and dramatically divide our worldview – depending on the subject.
I have dubbed this explication “Statism: & Ethics”, and having established a rough definition of ethics, I’ll get to the point. Here, I’m talking about highly similar, but nevertheless competing ideals. Since ethics are the very foundation of everything we do, I’ll boil (these competing ideals) down into an example.
Let’s say that I value personal liberty, as well as providing help for those in need. Now, let’s say that you also value personal liberty, as well as providing help for those in need. Does this mean we share the same ethics? No, because the degree to which each of us hold individual ideals are almost always different; and our conceptualization of these individual ideals differ as well. We are constantly seeing this in action in contemporary society, and much more so as social media evolves. So, I’m going to be specific here, but I will not use names. I don’t want to have a fight about this, I’d just like to lay some groundwork.
So You and I both hold personal liberties and help for those in need in quite a high regard. However, Candidate A comes along and offers help to those in need in the form of Naturalization, increased welfare spending, or expansion of state-funded school curriculum. Candidate A has now caused a divide between you and I, however slight it may be. Hypothetically – I cannot support Candidate A solely because they are advocating for increased taxation, which after a certain point encroaches upon my personal liberties. I may also believe that such an encroachment sets a dangerous precedent for government control. Hypothetically – You support Candidate A because you believe that they have not encroached on your personal liberties, and you believe this taxation could do wonderful things to help those in need. You may also believe that the inherent purpose of government is to work towards the greater good, and that perhaps I am fear-mongering. However, I don’t want to talk about who is “right” and who is “wrong”; it all comes down to what you know, what you think you know, what you think you know is right, or good, etc. Though it has been laid out like so, fundamentally, this is not about Liberal or Conservative, nor is it about Democrat or Republican. Unfortunately, America currently chooses between two parties, and your candidate is bound to support things which you do not support.
There are no universal ethical systems from which every human derives a purpose. So I will describe what I believe to be the three most fundamental ethical principles in order to maintain functionality.
The Non-Aggression Principle
While the Non-Aggression Principle is believed by many to belong exclusively to Anarcho-Capitalists, I find it to be a great point of reference for both action and inaction. The Non-Aggression Principle is none other than the Non-Initiation of force – this being any action or inaction which asserts aggression. So, in short: I cannot attack you for no reason.
Voluntarism is any action in which two consenting parties, whether they are individuals, groups, businesses, or States, are engaged or have engaged in. Voluntarism strictly adheres to the Non-Aggression Principle. So, in short: We cannot trade if you do not want to trade.
Compliance With Contractual Agreements
Binding contracts are an extremely important part of present-day society, even though we may not know it. Yet often these agreements are broken. If you’re a parent, and you’ve let your twelve-year-old child watch a PG-13 movie, you’ve broken a contract with both the society and The Motion Picture Association of America (or MPAA). Contractual agreements are typically enforced as to not break the law, break ethical principles, or become an accomplice to breaking the law or ethical principles. Compliance with contractual agreements also strictly adheres to both the Non-Aggression Principle and Voluntarism. So, in short: I can’t let you jump out of this airplane if you haven’t signed this contract.
I have laid out the basic foundation above to say this:
The State is constantly initiating acts of aggression
You might be thinking “of course they do,” and you’d be right, but it really really goes much deeper than what can only be taken at face value. I’m not going to blow anybody’s mind with this, but I would like to connect it in reference to my essay on the Charlottesville incident. No matter how much you value being “yourself,” or being “an Individual,” The State is in a constant state of gradual Collectivization. I get that we’re not the same, and I understand that many will disagree with me about the use of tax money or perhaps my ethical framework. However, I would like to make these things known, and will most likely be writing another post about Free-Market Capitalism to help explain further.
Imagine that you’ve come across a mugger in a dark alleyway. You think to yourself: “What am I doing? Why did I walk down here tonight? This is all a coincidence!”. The mugger holds you at gunpoint and tells you: “Give me your wallet, or I’ll shoot you and take it myself.” Well, he’s violated the Non-Aggression Principle, but if you’re like most people, no matter how much money you have in your wallet – you’ll give it to him. What is the worst that can come of this? You lose four-hundred dollars, your identification is taken away, he’s got your credit card too. There’s a chance that he can steal your identity to buy loads of stuff, but get to the right person on time and you’ll be just fine.
This example doesn’t take imagination. When was the last time you went shopping? Did you need gasoline to get there? Where did you come from? What was there? When have you last looked at your paycheck, and how much did they take? What happens if you don’t pay? Say you go to jail for not paying taxes. Do you really have to go? Is it mandatory? What happens if you refuse? Say the police show up when you refuse to pay your taxes. What happens if you still don’t want to go? What happens when you run away? If you do get away, how much more information about you could they possibly have? State control is nothing more than the initiation of force at gunpoint.
I’m not advocating anything other than understanding, nor am I bashing any ideology. If you prefer more State power, more taxes, and the continued aggression of The State, I understand. This only means we have different ethical standards.