Monday, March 23, 2015

De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est

I ran across a quote today on IMDB that seemed to me to encapsulate perfectly the origin of all authoritarian thought:
'As my History professor used to say in college... "there are no dull topics, only dull minds"'

Heh, I've yet to encounter an intellectual elitist who doesn't spout some variation of this. There's no such thing as a dull mind, people just employ theirs differently. It's easy to sneer at people who don't subscribe to your worldview, but those who do it just can't seem to accept that these so called "dull minds" can do things they can't.

So what if somebody prefers poorly scripted/acted action movies, and *SHOCK* doesn't have your taste, groundless assumptions about their personality do nothing but reveal a deep insecurity in you. It's easy to put people in brackets because it's just too hard to think of them as human, different from you and possessing abilities you don't.

The very fact that you dismiss an individual as dull-minded on the basis of their distaste for ONE film speaks volumes about you, and you've managed to prove their point about no intellectual discussion on IMDB quite impressively.
Now, I know, on the surface, this seems to be about snobbery in film criticism, but there is a much deeper thought here. When you go from disagreeing about matters  of taste and instead think that those who disagree with your values are dull or stupid or "just wrong", then you have started down the road that leads to totalitarianism.

And let's face it, all of our interventionist actions rest on such shaky premises. For example, employment is always a voluntary agreement between two individuals, no one forces one to work, or the other to employ. However, if A thinks a given wage is acceptable, and B does as well, by what right can the state step in and say "no, that's too low" and force a higher wage? Simply because the two who agreed were obviously foolish, or wrong, or maybe evil. Or, to put it in the usual terms, and evil exploiter forced a job at a low wage on an unenlightened and ignorant employee. So, rather than accept that maybe they thought it was a fine agreement, we must change it to match our beliefs about what is right.

I have said it before many times, the point of government is protect rights, and that's it. Anything more is to force the views of one group upon the rest of us, and that is always the first step to the total loss of freedom. And yet, time after time, some nominal conservative will agree, and then tack on "..but in the case of..." and insist their hobby horse must be included in government powers. Be it prostitution or drugs or regulating stocks or whatever, some matter exists where they just must force their views upon others, because it is "just right".

What they never seem to realize is, once you allow one person's "just right" or one group's, what is to prevent another from doing the same? And since those holding liberal views seem to represent a slight majority at the moment, they seem to forget that allowing in that camel's nose is also to give away the whole store. Not that it would be a good idea if conservatives predominated, it would still be a terribly foolish thing, but with liberals holding a slight edge, at least among the politically vocal, it is even worse.

Doubtless saying this will win me no friends, but, as always I can't tailor my beliefs to suit the current trends, or to appeal to readers. And so, for better or worse, I can only say what I have all along, the moment you go beyond protecting rights, you might as well simply write totalitarianism into the founding documents. No matter how much you might think your own personal beliefs are just common sense, and must be held by all right thinking souls, there is someone else out there who feels just the same about ideas you loathe, and they will gain the same right to force those views on you that you do on them. Once you admit the logic, there is nothing to stop them but simple numbers, leaving us in the end fighting a war of all on all, each side trying to make sure it gets to force its views on others before others do the same to it. (See "The Road to Violence", "The War of All Against All", "The Single Greatest Weakness", "Hard Cases Make Bad Law", "Tyranny Without Tyrants")

POSTSCRIPT

Before anyone creates some straw man argument, I do not believe that society should accept any and all behaviors, I simply believe government is not the tool for stopping behaviors that do not violate the rights of another. I have argued this many times, and yet time and again, the moment I say government should not do this, it seems everyone imagines I have said "everything is allowed". Social controls have exerted a very strong power over people since the dawn of time, and do so even now. From how we dress to how we behave, 95% or more of our behavior is controlled by societal expectations, not laws, and yet people imagine that somehow if the laws go away there will be total chaos. Yet, we have laws now and people often violate them, so how effective are laws in stopping behaviors? No, if anything, laws are a poor tool for changing behaviors, but using them in that way is a sure way to destroy our rights. (See "Government Versus Culture - A Forgotten Distinction", "Volunteer Fireman, Barn Raisings and Government", "Another Look At Exploitation", "An Immature Society", "Collective Ventures Versus Government", "Selfishness as Reason - 'Wants', 'Needs', 'Fairness' and Other Guises for Arbitrary Decisions", "The Consequences of Bad Laws")

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