Do You Support the Use of Violence Against Me for Disagreeing? — A Response to Entitlements
By Paul Moroni
Nicholas St. John’s article, Entitlements — Damage Control by a Pro-American Liberal, and his subsequent comments on the West is the Best Facebook page, are a textbook example of leftist debating performances. Anyone who has ever gotten suckered into one of these conversations will know what I’m talking about.
Step one; a leftist proclaims support for some government program:
St. John: Most Americans would agree that no child that is starving should go hungry without Food Stamps, that no disabled veteran should go homeless without Disability, and that no poor woman should be forced to forgo medical care for her children without Medicaid.
Step two; you point out how their preferred government ‘solution’ isn’t practical. The leftist dismisses your initial points with claims of bias or flawed data:
Moroni: Weak appeals to emotion. Obesity is highest among the poorest segments in the U.S. Don't give me the "Yea it's because unhealthy food is cheaper" nonsense either. The poorest 10% in America are among the wealthiest, most entitled 10% globally. Most homeless are so because of mental issues, not the lack of social and government supports. And no one in America is forced to forgo basic medical care so long as ERs exist.
St. John: I’m worried about Americans first. If you go to the ER and don’t pay, your credit gets destroyed, and further pushes you into poverty.
Step three, you take to Google, returning after an hour with reams of data on how the government program in question hasn't achieved what its proponents claimed it would; how there is evidence that free market alternatives would have achieved the desired end state more effectively; and how the program has resulted in many negative unintended side effects.
By this point your carpel tunnel has started to ache and you have a caffeine headache, induced by the half gallon of Mountain Dew now making its way through your bloodstream.
Your reward for all this?
Your interlocutor waves his hand and says ‘Ah, but come on dude! It’s a social contract.’
St. John: I support America’s system. Yes, that means using force sometimes to make the minority of viewpoint holders follow rules made by the majority.
Well, at least he’s an honest authoritarian.
You then delude yourself into thinking some progress can bemade, and so pivot to the moral case against the government program in question – the initiation of the use of force is immoral, etc.
Right when you think the ‘Aha’ moment should be emerging, the leftist hits you with their second and final big copout: they say they don’t care if their positions are immoral. So, far as they are concerned, morality is stupid: ‘I’m a collectivist bro! The greatest good for greatest number.’
St. John: Not to be dismissive, but I prefer ethics based governance over moral. Morality is for the individual not collective.
In that moment you realize, he has just been messing with you. This entire time, he has had the gun of socialism hidden in his waistband.
Like a crook who responds to your FSBO on Craigslist. You two meet in an HEB parking lot and haggle for ten minutes, only for him to pull a pistol and attempt to rob you at the last minute.
It is mental masturbation. These leftists could save us all a lot of time by pointing out up front that they have no problem initiating violence against people they disagree with.
But where’s the fun in that? This mental masturbation is a favored pastime of the left. Morality is too cut and dry for them; too ‘individualistic’ they might say.
St. John prefers “ethics.”
When a leftist says the word “ethics,” what they mean is they like to think up all sorts of bizarre and outlandish hypothetical scenarios about improbable catastrophes that might befall some poor benighted soul. Then they tell you the only ‘solutions’ available to save that poor soul are ones in which a hapless third party must be robbed or murdered.
Take a (hypothetical) example: What if there’s a poor disabled vet with no job and no family, and no charities, and they end up freezing to death on a curb in the middle of winter? Do you want that person to die?! No? Well, to avoid that, we need a multi-trillion dollar welfare state.
Reinforcing this moral relativism is so essential to the maintenance of socialist propaganda that entire university courses are built around this nonsense. At Harvard for example, professor Michael Sandel teaches a freshmen survey course called “Justice.” Young impressionable minds are served a semester long buffet of hypothetical ethical ‘dilemmas’ designed to lead students to the seemingly irrefutable conclusion that there is no such thing as universal morality.
Here is one of my favorite such hypotheticals: Suppose, there’s a runaway train barreling into the station, and a bunch of workers are out on the tracks and they can’t move on time to save themselves. You are standing next to a giant fat person, whom you know is fat enough to stop the train dead in its tracks. Should you push the fat man to save the workers?
Blah blah blah.
Spouting off anecdotes like these can be fun at parties. But when masquerading as serious moral conundrums, they cause us to forget the universal moral principles we all learn in Kindergarten: don’t lie, don’t hit, and don’t steal. These principles are not invalidated by socialist appeals to meaningless buzzwords like “collective.”
The lesson I continually find myself relearning is that you cannot reason a leftist out of their positions. You cannot reason someone out of a position they were never reasoned into to begin with.
It is only the emotional disgust of having the true nature of socialism revealed that can drive people away from the left.
There is a playlist on YouTube called “Leaving the Left,” which showcases the personal stories of various right leaning public figures that were once leftists of one flavor or another. Bar none, these people made the switch not after some shellacking in a pedantic online debate, but because of a personal experience of working in a failed socialist system, or being targeted by a leftist mob, or becoming friends with conservatives they once knew of only through leftist caricatures.
But, this is an impractical strategy for red-pilling the masses. It’s too likely to backfire, too risky, and requires too much of our lives being spent hanging out withlefties.
There is another way, though. It is to induce that emotional revulsion in the course of a debate or discussion; to make the leftist see that they are that meth-addled would be robber at HEB.
Stefan Molyneux calls it the “Against Me” argument.
It goes something like this:
To Nicholas St. John I say,
I support your right to like biking paths, and solar panels, and moon rockets. No problem. You want to write checks to pay for these programs; you are free to do so.
Do you support my right to not pay for these programs? Am I free to disagree with you, and to act on my disagreement by not writing checks to pay for this stuff?
Or are you willing to come and commit violence against me to force me to pay for your bike paths, and solar panels, and moon rockets? Would support the police coming to my house and arresting me for not wanting to write a check for your infrastructure projects? Shooting me dead if I refused to submit? Is a bike path worth that much to you?
If you are willing to afford me the same respect to disagree that I am affording to you, then we have found common ground.
If you do not afford me that respect, then there is nothing to debate, nothing to negotiate. And I can help you save some time on your next article. All you need is four words: “I am a socialist.” That will tell us everything we need to know.
People are able to understand this argument very easily when it is applied to government policies they already oppose. For example, advocates for legalized drugs often talk about the immorality of the drug war. On the topic of illegal aliens, critics of stronger enforcement of immigration law can often be heard saying something to the effect of ‘What are you going to do, go to peoples house and arrest them and take them away from their children?’
Yes, that is often what happens to people who refuse to obey the law – the government uses violence or the threat of violence to force compliance.
But the left compartmentalizes these debates, missing the point – such use of force is not peculiar to the drug war or immigration enforcement. On the contrary, that’s what laws are – the use of, or threat of, force.
Don’t make the mistake I too often make. Don’t get suckered in to exchanging distracting data points with socialists. Next time a lefty is twisting themselves into a mental pretzel in an attempt to justify their socialist schemes, tell them you will not pretend to debate with someone holding a gun to your head.