I’ve been thinking about ethical boundaries. When it comes to eating meat, vegans have the strongest ethical convictions. I say this from the perspective of someone who has taken an ethical stance on this issue. I only ever eat free range meat and animal products, but I don’t have my head buried in the sand. I know there are far reaching considerations such as what happens to all the baby chickens born from free range egg farms, or what happens to the unwanted calves born in the milk industry who are torn from their mothers the moment they’re born. I know the answers to those questions, but I drew a line in the sand and took a position (not that I’m overly proud of myself).
When it comes to politics and governments, voluntaryists hold the strongest ethical convictions, more so than libertarians who believe in limited government, and far more so than anyone who believes in big government.
Voluntaryists believe all humans should have both personal and financial freedom and no one else has a right to force another person to do anything, even the most noble causes must be supported voluntarily. The ethical standard here is one of non-violence. If violence is bad, it is bad in ALL circumstances. Laws are enforced through the threat of violence. If you don’t comply, you will end up with a gun pointed at you.
Back in the day, religion was defined geographically (and often still is). There were catholic states, protestant states, muslim states, hindu states etc etc. People living within those geographical boundaries were forced to worship in a prescribed way. Now, for most of us reasonable people such a concept as coercive religious worship is truly horrendous. Of course we should have freedom of religion (or no religion if we are so enlightened).
So why, then, should we be forced to comply with the government as defined by a specific geographic boundary? In vast expanses of the world such boundaries are not just arbitrary, but divide tribes, separate families, and displace people resulting in conflict and suffering. And yet, perfectly (seemingly) reasonable people actively support the forcing of government on their neighbours.
My sister works for the CIA. Actually, she doesn’t. She works for a particular international organisation that even she admits is a pawn for the CIA. From her position she has been exposed to all kinds of underhanded dealings, supposedly good governments (like the US) doing shady stuff with corrupt governments (weapons trading, propping up one warlord over another, that kind of thing).
She’s a very clued in woman, this sister of mine. She asks the question is she the only one with x-ray vision when it comes to these things, or is everyone else just doing a very good job at pretending not to notice? Whatever the case, she then goes on to say that she is willing to accept such shadowy stuff because it limits organised crime and terrorism.
I can’t even find the right words to respond to her, because (as a voluntaryist and, therefore, the most ethical of all political types) I can’t accept that (a) the end justifies the means, and (b) that organised crime or terrorism is limited at all. In fact, wasn’t it the US government that propped up the Taliban? Wasn’t it prohibition that gave power to the mafia? Isn’t it the War on Drugs that creates the perfect swill in which drug lords prosper? What’s the difference between the government (who enforce laws at the threat of violence) and other gangs, anyway?
Clearly my sister has drawn her line in the sand and stands firmly on one side of ethics while I stand on the other. She is a vegetarian, so she’s more ethical on the meat issue than I am. Where do you stand?
Links to help you decide:
The Gun in the Room – How government operates at the threat of violence