Monday, October 25, 2010

Different Worlds

Over the weekend I had a chance to spend some time with family over dinner and a bonfire. As always, it was really enjoyable. There's something about just being in the company of the people you love that makes time seem to stop. The only thing that could pull me away is the uncontrollable closing of the eyelids and a healthy worry about the drive home - that hit me at around midnight.

But among the playful banter around the fire, there was one somewhat political remark made that really caught me off guard. It didn't really offend me. It actually confused me. One of my relatives had asked me if I had ever read any of Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. I hadn't. He motioned that I would probably like the series based on its "libertarian" themes; and, if I heard him correctly, what he meant by that was that it was particularly non-pacifist.

In all honesty, I might have just heard him wrong - but I don't think I did. My first tendency was to engage the implicit notion that libertarians were anti-pacifist, but I was so confused that I forced myself to shut up, thinking to myself that he must have meant it the other way around, and that I had simply misheard him. So I kind of just let his synopsis float at that point.

But, having been plastered with the label of "social Darwinist" several times in my life, it didn't seem completely implausible to have my views framed this way I suppose. However, you do have to sit and wonder how a group so dedicated to the non-aggression principle as a tenet could be outed as "anti-pacifists." I couldn't help but think, "Most of the people I know who are actual pacifists are libertarian! Heck, my views are way more pacifist than your liberal-progressive views. What gives?"

It kind of occurred to me that if you are opposed to using violence to achieve certain ends, you may actually be regarded as violent to the extent that certain groups of people believe that non-action (or as I'd like to call it, pacifism) is actually violent in some instances. For instance, someone being against a person forcefully extracting payment from an innocent individual (via taxation perhaps) to fulfill a perceived positive right (food, water, housing, healthcare, etc.) is seen as a non-pacifist - as someone else (in their mind) has a rightful claim to it.

This is about the only way this labeling makes sense to me, and even then it seems to make little. If you believe that people have a "right" to the fruit of your labor; fine. That's an argument worth having. But it seems really weird to twist that view so much that you start believing that resistance to violence employed in achieving those ends is violent, or that violence in achieving those ends isn't violent at all. Then again, I think this is moderately close to how people with those positions actually feel; which I think accounts for precisely why people look at you as if you're crazy when you refer to taxation as theft.

It's amazing how our predispositions shape our perception of the world.

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