Torture Can Be Justified…

... in abstract philosophical moral dilemmas, maybe, not in the real world by the real C-I-freaking-A.

Justice in War

There is no such thing, whether ad bellum or ad bello.

Torturing “Terrorists”

The people the CIA tortures are not "terrorists," as far as I am concerned, because their guilt was not proven in any court of law.

To say that being captured and tortured by the CIA is in itself a tell-tale sign that one is a terrorist is to beg the question.

Torture, 2

Whether a particular method of torture is effective at gathering useful intelligence is a technical question, to be resolved by the professional expert torturers in the employ of the CIA.

I have never tortured anybody and would have no opinion on how to do it most efficiently.

If you are picking a government agency to trust on the torture issues, why not the CIA?

War and Torture

If the premise that the government should start wars at its pleasure is admitted, the conclusion that interrogation of enemies of the state through torture is permissible follows naturally.

In a war, the military kills lots of people for no good reason. Being murdered by the military seems about as bad as being tortured by the CIA.

If people love the military and do things like constantly thank and praise the "veterans" for securing "their freedoms," then why wouldn't they be thanking and praising the CIA agents for supplying the intelligence that helps the war effort?

Garner

Yes, isn't it inconsistent for the left-liberals not to celebrate the death of a representative of the "evil" tobacco industry?

Militarized Cops

They are not only bad cops but bad soldiers, too.

John Goodman on Interventionism

In this important blog post, Goodman argues that government interventions that are direct, such as those that would prohibit individuals from drinking alcohol, are considered by the people to be intolerable invasions of liberty.

But indirect interventions, such as prohibiting sale and transportation of alcohol by business firms, though having identical effects, are treated as anodyne and even salutary.

Perhaps, people think the government is sticking it to the rich or "big corporations." They are deluded, of course: by ruining the ability of entrepreneurs to produce, the people still predictably harm themselves in their capacity as consumers.

It is the most general conclusion of the libertarian ideology that business, when left free, faithfully serves the consuming public in a way that cannot be improved upon. Regulation redirects the conduct of entrepreneurs away from satisfying the consumers toward satisfying government bureaucrats. This is anti-social.

But tell it to the leftists who (sometimes) decry the loss of individual "civil liberties," yet jump with joy at every decree intended to hamper private business.

Why the Scandinavians Are “Happy”

They are happy not because their desires have been satisfied, but because their desires have been extinguished by their egalitarian governments that have destroyed opportunities for these people to seek their happiness and improve their well-being.

They are happy as a stone is also content, without wills of their own.

In other words, theirs is the happiness of slaves.

Progress Report

I'm on Chapter 40 of what will be the 3rd edition of Summa Against the Keynesians, revising and improving a lot of good stuff.

I think a book of, as I now realize, such amazing ambition as this one needed a few more years to germinate in my mind.

Re: Dawkins

Science drops nuclear bombs on your city; religion makes you into a decent person and saves your soul.

Calling All Diabolical Elites Who Rule in Darkness

Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that if you loosen your interventionist controls over the economy, then in a short enough long run, you, too, will benefit from the economy's forces of creative destruction unleashed.

For example, Mises argues:

In the countries that have not yet entirely abandoned the capitalistic system the common man enjoys today a standard of living for which the princes and nabobs of ages gone by would have envied him.

Compared with the standard of living of your own children 40 years from now under laissez-faire, you are precisely those very princes and nabobs. Let our people go, and you will not believe how much your own family's standard of living will increase soon enough as compared with perpetuating our semi-feudal status quo.

Concludes Mises:

The peace-loving humanitarian approaches the mighty potentate and addresses him thus: "Do not make war, even though you have the prospect of furthering your own welfare by a victory. Be noble and magnanimous and renounce the tempting victory even if it means a sacrifice for you and the loss of an advantage." The liberal thinks otherwise. He is convinced that victorious war is an evil even for the victor, that peace is always better than war. He demands no sacrifice from the stronger, but only that he should come to realize where his true interests lie and should learn to understand that peace is for him, the stronger, just as advantageous as it is for the weaker.

Come on, you evil friends. Our interests are in harmony! Let's build capitalism together:

What makes the existence and the evolution of society possible is precisely the fact that peaceful cooperation under the social division of labor in the long run best serves the selfish concerns of all individuals. The eminence of the market society is that its whole functioning and operation is the consummation of this principle.

The State and the Soldier

Remember Rothbard wrote that it's not the state that protects the citizens; it's the citizens who enlist as soldiers who protect the ruling elite:

Especially has the State been successful in recent centuries in instilling fear of other State rulers.

Since the land area of the globe has been parceled out among particular States, one of the basic doctrines of the State was to identify itself with the territory it governed. Since most men tend to love their homeland, the identification of that land and its people with the State was a means of making natural patriotism work to the State's advantage.

If "Ruritania" was being attacked by "Walldavia," the first task of the State and its intellectuals was to convince the people of Ruritania that the attack was really upon them and not simply upon the ruling caste. In this way, a war between rulers was converted into a war between peoples, with each people coming to the defense of its rulers in the erroneous belief that the rulers were defending them.

This device of "nationalism" has only been successful, in Western civilization, in recent centuries; it was not too long ago that the mass of subjects regarded wars as irrelevant battles between various sets of nobles.

Let me suggest that the government is laughing its ass off watching soldiers willingly and eagerly sacrifice their lives just to protect Obama, his chief lieutenants, and his connected crony capitalists.

The Caligula in Me

Sometimes I wish the federal government had one head, so I might cut it off at a single stroke.

Truth vs. Beauty

I could have sworn I made a note of it already, but truth conforms us to the reality that beauty transcends.

Truth is to beauty as science is to art. And art is technique and technology by another name.

Science shows us the natural world (which may incidentally be God's art), while technology improves upon it.

Hence, beauty is first among equals.

Re: Airbnb Listings Mostly Illegal, New York State Contends

We live under a socialist regime in the US. The institution of private property is gone.

Why? It is clear that the authorities are willing to tolerate people's discretion in making use of their property only insofar as they use it in the ways the bureaucrats approve.

The moment someone comes up with a novel way to do business, they are accused of making "unsavory efforts to avoid regulation and taxes," and people clamor for bans and restrictions.

The government and only the government decides whether any change in the established routine will be allowed. The law is arbitrary and the lawgivers, unbound by any principles.

The government is for all intents and purposes omnipotent. No aspect of private life or business is outside its purview. No natural right is safe from government interference, and no economic law has enough weight not to be defied at the government's will.

Woe unto you, if you are unlucky enough to attract the attention of the "regulators" and taxers.

Paradise vs. Heaven

Paradise and heaven are different manifestations of the same blessed life.

The difference is that in paradise one has a body, while in heaven he exists as pure love.

Paradise is the perfection of active life: beauty of the body, gracefulness of motion, effortless power over nature, guilt-free physical pleasures.

Heaven is the perfection of speculative life: one contemplates the mysteries of God.

As I pointed out before, this trade-off is fully under control of a saint. As a result, he can switch between the two happy places at will.

Stranger, 3: From Faith

There is yet another issue. Suppose God values people who are well-specialized as producers and consumers.

So, let's say you spend your life thinking about economics. You've become master at it.

Then you die and go to heaven.

Guess what, there is no stock market there, and all your economic knowledge is worthless.

Perhaps you think economics is deductive a priori, and you've honed your intellect to deal with economic logic of this sort. This means that you are much less prepared to deal with the problems of physics which is inductive a posteriori, making you less interesting to God for that very reason.

Here is another piece of the puzzle: though accounts of near-death experiences are incredible and awe-inspiring, all of them are "near" death, not "after" death, and in none of them is the real everlasting life of the blessed actually described.

No NDE details "a typical day in the life of a saint."

We must, I think, fall back to the position that heaven is a Christian mystery. I don't understand heaven, but that's no reason to lack faith in the "resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."

Stranger, 2: From Reason

It's probably the price both of our specialization within the division of labor and of our unique consumer preferences.

It stands to reason that in creating heaven, God foresaw, took into account, and was directed by this universal feature of human existence and human diversity.

I wonder if in heaven, everything in me except some understanding of economic theory will be cut off; my mind will be joined to a heavenly computer which will be off and asleep except maybe for a couple hours every billion years, when a curious angel in a fit of abject boredom decides to engage my opinion about some rarefied economic problem.

Whatever Does Not Kill Us, Makes Us Stranger?

So, essentially, proposes Noah Millman.

The dead approach the Garden, housed in the body of their life, their deeds made flesh, and face the angel and the sword.

And with a burning stroke, he cuts out the blemishes of their transgressions, and leaves their flesh gaping. For we are told, that none with a blemish may approach the Lord..., and none with a blemish may be offered...

But their flesh gapes, for there is no Experience in the Garden, no way for souls to heal the gashes made by holy flame.

And this, perhaps, is what the four saw there: the maimed and crippled souls stumbling in Paradise.

The tongues that gossiped, the lips that spoke falsely, the eyes that coveted -- cut out.

The hands that struck in anger, the fingers that stole, the legs that ran to do evil -- lopped off.

And the poor souls who huddled in the dark, who buried themselves in their caves, so fearful of evil that they hesitated to do good; pale souls who pass almost unnoticed through the byways of the Garden, they live in the poor houses that their deeds built while they lived.

One in four? There is not one in a thousand who would not die, go mad, or lose his faith, gazing on the cauterized stumps of the saved.

Millman apparently became an atheist since writing this passage which at the time he considered a "parable of repentance," and now, only a "horror story."

But it raises a curious question about not so much our sins and vices but even our virtues.

C.S. Lewis argued:

Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.

Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it -- made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.

The body, as it ages, becomes disgusting, but where is the guarantee that our souls become beautiful during the same process?

In reality, in battling ourselves, and the flesh, the world, and the devil, as it were, do we not become irreparably weird, freaks? Of what use to God are these twisted pathetic excuses for rational animals? Is heaven a menagerie of curious oddities, fantastic aberrations? If the key is so misshapen, the lock must be an ugly place, indeed.