on principles

I read a blog comment recently.   Then I remarked on the incongruity of watching a self-described conservative argue against the principles of free trade and states’ rights.  This is Through the Looking Glass stuff.

As you might expect my point was sidestepped and belligerience ensued.  Too close to the nerve?  Below is the thread that followed.  I have slightly [edited] my response below for clarity, grammar and typos.  I have also inserted a few  {editorial comments}.

what “principles” do you have?

An excellent question, and one I encourage everyone to think about and maybe even post [on that blog].

  • non-aggression principle: do not initiate force/coercion on other people. Defend oneself, others, and property if required.

  • respect [for] private property

  • minimal, constitutional federal government restricted to enumerated powers. Leave the states to be the “laboratories of democracy” since people can move between them

  • free markets in trade, in ideas, in currency, etc.

  • [leaving] consenting adults to pursue their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

  • [thinking] for myself, forming opinions based on evidence and reason rather than partisan talking points, dogma, emotions, gods, or free-floating [aggression]

  • [calling] out hypocrisy where I see it (including in myself)

  • [engaging] others civilly unless they indicate they prefer it otherwise

  • [responding] to what people write rather than what I think they wrote or what I wish they wrote because it’d be easier to answer

  • [looking] for common ground with folks of differing opinion, so we can build on it and move forward

that anyone you don’t like or agree with can be beaten savagely, sprayed with bear mace, ostracized, called nazi, racist, etc.? those kind of principles?

See the “non-aggression principle” answer above.

{I put violent acts in a different category than ostracism, or calling out nazi or racist behavior.  I mean, if a person is wearing a swastika and giving the Nazi salute it does not seem inappropriate to call them a Nazi.}

i shake my head when self-described “tolerant” people prove to be violently intolerant and hateful.

I shake my head when anyone is violent or hateful. Actions speak louder than words.

by the way, democrats founded the ku klux klan, it seems like you are keeping score so mark that down. then maybe move to a long-time democrat enclave like chicago and detroit and live under your own rules

Partisans assume everyone else is partisan. {psychological projection?} I do not belong to any political party, as I have said before on [that] blog. I [have] zero interest in keeping score on which corrupt, republic-endangering party has done what. They are all scourges, as Pres. Washington warned us they would be. They thrive because straight-ticket voting is easier than thinking for oneself, and spouting belligerent talk show soundbites is easier than meaningful discussion.

{The KKK criticism was valid, BTW.  Anyone interested in where those Democratic racists went can google “southern strategy” or listen to Lee Atwater’s interview on the matter.}


So, if you’re still with me:  here is what President Washington said about parties (“factions”), emphasis added:

All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to **organize faction**, to give it **an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation**, the **will of a party**, often a **small but artful and enterprising minority of the community**; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the** ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction**, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests. ... However **combinations or associations** of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are **likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people**, and to **usurp for themselves the reins of government**; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion. ... I have already intimated to you the **danger of parties in the state**, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and **warn you in the most solemn manner** against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally. This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, **in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness**, and is truly their worst enemy. The **alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge**, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the **most horrid enormities**, is itself a frightful despotism. But this **leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism**. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually **incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual**; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of **his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty**. Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the **common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party** are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to **distract the Public Councils**, and **enfeeble the Public Administration**. It **agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection**. It **opens the door to foreign influence and corruption**, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

At this very moment we are in the bullseye center of ill-founded jealousies, false alarms, kindled animosity, fomented riots, and foreign influence / corruption that Washington predicted.  I have little faith we will recover.  There are too many powerful players who put personal, partisan, and corporate gain above our shared American republic.