John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright
johncwright

Hail! Hail! Freedonia! Land of the Free and Self-Centered!

Our hedonist friend has answered my challenge, and extensively, and here, for the first time in my argumentative life, I wonder if I am adequate to answer, merely because time does not permit.

Intending no discourtesy to my honored opposition, for reasons of time (and not because the questions he asks are not good ones, and not because the comments he makes are not worthy of being engaged) I must pick only those comments to answer that, in my opinion, express the crux of the dispute. Other misunderstandings will be left unanswered.

I am not going to bother, for example, to answer his questions about the relation of law and justice. I assume we both believe the basic Lockean idea that laws are instituted among men to preserve natural rights, and that laws destructive of those rights should be changed or overthrown. I assume we both believe the theory of limited government, which holds that there are areas where, no matter what good it could do or might do, certain things should be beyond the orbit of public power, such as free speech, or the sanctity of private property.

Here is the crux of the matter. Angloamerican legal tradition holds that the rights of freedom of speech and of property are not absolute, but have to be weighed, with a nicety of judgment, against competing rights and interests.

Freedom of speech is limited by a law against libel and slander, for example, but also by copyright laws, espionage laws, pornography laws, laws forbidding the incitement to riot, laws punishing the conspiracy to commit crime, and even laws that serve other public policy interests, such as discouraging the sale of tobacco to minors, or preventing assemblies in times and places that threaten the public peace.

I would argue that such limits on freedom are a necessary evil.

Let us call my position, merely to give it a name, "Tanstaaflism." In the same way that there aint no such thing as a free lunch, my position is that there is a cost to every right and every liberty: and, by a cost, here, I do not mean a price in money. I mean that no right is so sacred that it can be allowed to trample competing rights and interests with impunity.

One such right, which I hold to be of very high value indeed, but not to be an absolute, is liberty the freedom from force or the threat of force against yourself or your property by someone, private or police, acting not in his own self-defense against you. Call this the principle of nonaggression.

My honorable opposition seems (if I understand him) to be arguing in favor of a total nonaggression principle. His ideas have elements of libertarian and epicurean theory in it, but you may read his words and judge for yourself. Let us call his position, merely to give it a name, "Absolute Liberty." I will gladly use a different name if this one causes discomfort. Any name that is not misleading will do. 

As best I can tell, he allows for no exceptions, even in extreme hypothetical cases, to the principle that one ought not to initiate violence, and the actions of the police and the courts of law fall under what he defines as violence: the correction or control of another's behavior by force or threat of force, rather than by bribe or persuasion. I am merely going to assume that he will include fines, or carrying off the property of another, or using force to prevent his use and enjoyment of his property, to also be included in this definition. It is not what most people mean when they use the word "violence", but let us allow this definition for the purposes of argument.

It is worthwhile to note that men have never yet erected a commonwealth where the state was limited to the Absolute Liberty position. Whether this is due to the moral shortcomings or the moral wisdom of the founders of new constitutions and the reformers of old constitutions is a matter not here under debate: all we can say is that is has not been reflected in the decisions of founders and reformers who have acted so far.

What this means, in effect, is that my honorable opponent and I are directing our arguments toward reformers yet unborn, those who have not yet acted on the stage of world history, those who currently dream, but who have not yet done.

He is urging a radical reformation of the current constitution; I am urging at most a moderate reformation, a return to traditional first principles, or, in most cases, no action at all. I am urging that we accept the necessary evil, because it is necessary, while we forever attempt to minimize the evil that cannot but come of it.

You who read these words, reformers of the future, may not be in the position of Lycurgus or Moses or Jefferson or Madison, to write the laws and the constitution of the commonwealth on a blank slate. No matter. You certainly are in a position either to support or to oppose, in word and deed, the constitution, customs, and laws, you inherited. You get to pick which constitution, customs and laws you will pass along to your posterity. We are all immigrants to the future.

My worthy opponent is asking you to place your children in Freedonia, the Land of Absolute Liberty. I am asking you to place them in Tanstaaflia, the Land of Necessary Evil. You are selecting where your children will live. Chose wisely, because you chose not just for yourself, but for them.

He and I both agree, if I read him correctly, that government must be limited, the Leviathan must be chained. We disagree as to where the boundary lies. I would argue that his philosophy would shorten the chain of the Leviathan so tightly, that the results would be dishonorable, even dangerous.

Let me speak first, if briefly, to the dishonor. The Absolute Liberty position implies, albeit it does not require, a hedonistic moral theory. Such a moral theory is inadequate on every level for the real tragedy of human life. Logically, hedonism cannot be supported and encouraged, either by one man or by the social consensus, unless normal human pain and suffering are ignored, or are regarded without pity: this is a matter of logic, as I said, because one cannot both emphasize pleasure as the source and goal of human action, and regard those pains which cannot be escaped by any human effort, sin and sickness, grief and death, as significant in the human condition. You cannot regard suffering as insignificant and also have a significant degree of pity for it. Tragedy and comedy are mutually incompatible as world views.

Let me speak next to the danger. By "danger" I mean that your chance, if your parents live in Freedonia, the Land of Absolute Liberty, of you living a full life to ripe old age and dying peacefully in bed are less, everything else being equal, is less than if your parents lived in Tanstaaflia, the Land of Necessary Evil.

The laws and customs of the Land of Necessary Evil will protect your life in at least four areas where the laws and customs of the Land of Absolute Liberty offer you no protection: suicide, child-rearing, war, and infirmity.

The first area is suicide. The Absolute Liberty position requires that no moral judgment be made on any matter that does not affect another person. By this logic, the rightness or wrongness of suicide is not a moral question at all; it is merely a matter of taste, like preferring pie to cake.

A quote:

  "So it is better for the man to live in despair than to die? Not all despair is fixable. Sometimes you can't escape a no-win scenario. Why shouldn't a man be the judge of his own best option?"

This is, simply put, the pro-death position. His claim is that we humans do not have the intelligence, or perhaps we lack the moral authority, to prevent by force a brother or son of ours from committing suicide. Myself, I so not see why I should have more respect for my brother's despair than I have for my brother's life.

A dead man cannot feel despair; this is an activity or personality trait of living men. Nothing of value survives the death of a man who dies for the sake of despair: the purpose of suicide is self-destruction. It is not some act of martyrdom or heroic sacrifice where a man spends his life to create and maintain something greater than himself that will live after him. 

Let us say it was you. Your name is Harry Vincent. You are young, and you have run up a gambling debt you cannot pay. There is no way out. There you stand on a bridge, trying to nerve yourself to throw yourself down to certain death in the turbulent river below, when, out from the night, a black-garbed figure emerges, a sinister figure in a black-brimmed hat, a living shadow. The Shadow grabs you with rough violence, and throws you back away from the brink. He says that, since he saved your life, you are honor bound to aid him in his dangerous and ruthless war against gangland crime.

In Freedonia, this act by The Shadow is impermissible. He committed a battery, and, strictly speaking, a kidnapping (because he moved you by force from one place to another, even if it was only a few steps). You can sue him or have him arrested, perhaps by some Detective named Joe Cardonna.

In Tanstaaflia, on the other hand, The Shadow did you a good turn, because your life is valuable in and of itself. You placed a low value on your life in your moment of despair, but, in Tanstaaflia, we would say your estimation was WRONG. While the laws might not actually require you to work for him, the customs and the sense of honor would certainly approve of you if you did, because, after all, he did just save your life.

I am not arguing that the laws of Freedonia are innately wicked, foolish or cruel. I believe them to be, but I am not making that argument here: time does not permit. Instead, I am merely pointing out that, as a pragmatic matter, if you parents raised you in Freedonia, you are greater danger to your life whenever some momentary despair overwhelms your love of life.

The philosophy in Freedonia tells you your life has no innate value; it is only of value to you when you love it, and only to the degree that you love it, so no one is really in a position to talk you away from the brink. If you are the one who sees Harry Vincent on the brink, you are in breach of the laws if you reach out your hand, and, without his consent, use force to restrain him from self-destruction.

Logically, if suicide is permitted in Freedonia, all lesser and included acts of self-destruction are permitted: drug abuse, drunkenness, Russian Roulette, what have you.

Logically, if suicide is an arbitrary personal choice in the philosophy of Freedonia, having no more innate meaning than preferring pie to cake, then all lesser acts of self-destruction and self-betrayal are likewise matters of nothing but personal choice. You have no duty to live well, no duty to live up to your highest potential, no duty to be honest to yourself, no duty to be thoughtful and kind, no duty to be temperate, modest, moderate, just, brave, or anything else. You live for your dick.

The hedonist philosophy has no logical basis for offering criticism of the passions and appetites. If you have no inclination, at the moment, to value your life, the logic of hedonism offers no one grounds to tell you that you ought to value your life despite your inclination. Such choices are beyond criticism.

Hence, all personal ethics, all ethical questions that only directly affect you and no one else, all those things that you ought to do even though you have no natural inclination to do them, according to the philosophy of Freedonia, are merely matters of personal inclination. Hence self-destruction is not only permitted, but also beyond criticism.

Absurdly enough, this type of crass hedonism simply assumes that human beings are atomized and isolated from each other. There are no families, no friendships, no debts. When Harry Vincent commits suicide, the grief of Mrs. Vincent, his mother, is a matter of no significance at all. The hedonist will say Harry owes nothing at all to his mother. For that matter, the crew team that was depending on Harry for the Big Meet next Saturday also are owed nothing. The friends who miss him, the nephew he promised to help build a model airplane, the girl he was going to marry: all the people emotionally scarred for life by his sudden and violent self-destruction all mean big fat Goose Egg according to the philosophy of selfishness.

In that philosophy, nobody needs each other, and all human relationships are burdens, not joys. The only thing a hedonist says about another human relationship is this: he gets a suspicious look in his eye and warns you not to impose on him, because, as we all know, only those efforts which we voluntarily shoulder for the purpose of pursuing mutual self-interest are obligatory. Everything else one does or does not do merely as fancy suits one.

Your life is in danger in Freedonia, if you are prone to despair. Not only can The Shadow not use force to drive you back from the brink, he cannot even talk you out of it, not on any grounds that hedonism finds logically compelling.

The second area is child-rearing.

A quote: "A person who conceives a child has not yet agreed to the contract of its care, and until that happens, he has every right to decline any relationship with the potential child."

If I read this correctly, it means not only that a father can abandon his pregnant lover and her unborn child to their fate, it also means the mother can abandon the born child to his fate, provided only that she has not agreed to the contract of its care.

No age range is mentioned, at least, not in this quote, so I assume the mother is free to leave her children in the dumpster, or in the middle of a snowy field, for any reason or no reason, at any time from birth to majority, unless a contract provides otherwise.

If my worthy opponent wishes to say that the act of sexual reproduction in the eyes of the law is a contract that binds the lovers to carry out the moral obligations their act sets in motion, then, in effect, he is saying marital obligations bind any man who has sex with a woman. A paternity law would require he carry out the obligation to rear the child, or pay out child support money as a substitute. This would contradict my opponent's core axiom, the Principle of Absolute Nonaggression, because the force and violence used to exact paternity payments from a tardy and reluctant father clearly offer violence to someone who offers no physical violence to any other.

If my worthy opponent wishes to adopt some intermediate position, such as allowing for children to be aborted or killed or abandoned under certain conditions and not others, we need not visit those details. No matter what my worthy opponent defines as a circumstance under which leaving a baby to die of exposure, my main point still stands: if your parents live in Freedonia, your chances of making it alive from conception to majority and dying peacefully in bed are less, everything else being equal, than if they live in Tanstaaflia. Because we who live in the land where There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch believe in shotgun weddings. If you make a baby, you take a baby.

If my worthy opponent adds the provision that no one may abandon his child except to the hands of someone else willing to care for it, then this raises additional problems. Hedonism offers no logical basis to justify charity. No hedonist can give a reason, within hedonist morality, to foster the orphan or aid and protect the widow. You may do so if you are so inclined, but nothing in the philosophy says you ought to be inclined if you happen not to be.

The third area is the danger from war and crime.

The quote:

" Human beings are either created or effected by something non-human. We may have been made in god's image or evolved up from the primordial ooze. Or left on Earth by aliens, or some other explanation. In any case, our configuration as humans are not self-determined. The same entity, by design or by chance, that configured us with reason configured us, or at least me, with lusts. Therefore to say that lust is profane while reason is sacred is to second-guess our configurations. It is to weigh one part of humanity over another arbitrarily."

My worthy opponent is here simply saying that is it arbitrary to make any judgment between the various passions and appetites, the demands of reason, and the voice of conscience. In other words, in his total and pure agnosticism on ethical questions, he can see no reason to prefer listening to reason over listening to a momentary impulsive appetite, even a self-destructive one.

If perhaps we were prelapsarian men, as pure as Adam before the fall, whose every impulse and lust and appetite were moral and just and could lead to no bad consequences, this utter abandonment of reason and conscience and judgment could be justified. Otherwise, it is merely a stupid comment, for it says no one can chose between good versus evil, long-term versus short-term, selfish versus selfless, thrifty versus wasteful, self-destructive versus self-preservative, honorable versus shameful, etc., etc.

If you live in Freedonia, you live surrounded my men who think like this. In time of war, men of this lack character will be in the foxhole with you. In time of crime, men of this lack of character will serve on the jury with you, or serve on the vigilance committee or police force with you. These are the men on whom you are relying to avenge your injuries and to terrify scofflaws into obedience.

The fourth area is old age and infirmity.

Let us suppose you are on your sick-bed, perhaps even in a coma. At that point, you have no ability to protect yourself from anyone who means you harm. For that matter, you have no ability to protect yourself from merciful partisans of euthanasia, who seek to spare you pain (or seek to spare themselves inconvenience and expense) by shutting off your food and water.

I will quote the first quote again, changing only one thing: "Therefore to say that contempt for human life is profane while respect for human life is sacred is to second-guess our configurations. It is to weigh one part of humanity over another arbitrarily."

All I have done is substitute one base human desire (lust) for another base human desire (indifference). All I have done is substitute one noble human trait (reason) for another (respect for life). I submit to you, reformers of the future, that the same logic applies to both. No philosophy can claim reason and lust are equal, but then turn about and say respect for human life in innately better than indifference to human life.

The paradox at the core of the hedonist philosophy now hoves into view. 

Hedonism, according to this quote, does not allow us to elevate reason into a special position above lust. To chose between the two is arbitrary, so it says. And yet my honored opponent does not pay the same deference to choler and wrath and vengeance and other human emotions and passions that form part of our human "configuration" just as much as lust or any other appetite.

If my young son were being propositioned by a pederast, who lived next door to me, and sold or published photo-shopped images of him engaging in sex acts, which he also displayed on a billboard visible from my front door, I assure you that the "configuration" of a choleric gentleman like me, a Virginian, would involve a shotgun, a shovel, a remote spot of ground, and a moonless night.

You can argue, if you wish, that law or justice requires me to tolerate the neighborhood pederast targeting my son, using his likeness without permission, and slandering him, but then, to what in me are you appealing if you ask me to choke back my choler and my sense of outraged justice? What duty do I have toward the pederast that is greater than the duty I owe my son to protect him from public shame and from sexual predation? You cannot possibly be appealing to my reason or my conscience. If my reason has no authority to check my lust, what reason can you give me to convince me that my reason has authority to check my wrath?

(For that matter, if reason has no special claim over our whims, on what grounds can you argue with me about any topic at all? Why is my desire to believe a flattering falsehood any more base than the desire like lust or wrath? You cannot argue in favor of a lack of intellectual integrity and at the same time rest on the intellectual integrity of your audience to consent to your argument, due to its merit, if they are not inclined, due to their desires, to admit fault.)

Come now, my reformers of the future. When you are six years old, or eight, who would you prefer as your father: the man who would prevent, by force if need be, the gigantic photo-manipulated posters showing you drinking semen form looming over your house, or flyers with the same picture being distributed to your mates at school; or the father who does nothing, and live in the land where the police can do nothing?

Here is the second of the two quotes on this point:

Quoting me: "Hedonism cannot comfort the prisoner in the dungeon or the cripple in the sickbed or the beggar in the gutter. Mine can. Telling a man who lives with daily cancer pain that pleasure is what he should live for is a sick joke." My opponent answers: "What a limited and depressing view that sees the patching of sores as the sole aim of human existence. What of the man who does not have cancer, poverty, or chains? What of the man in a civilized society, who earns enough for his needs and his caprices?"

Now, a careful reading will show you where my opponent merely misreads what I wrote. I say that hedonism is insufficient as a philosophy to explain real life. Real life contains both ups and downs, both healthy and sick, both the quick and the dying. My point is that hedonism, the pursuit of base pleasure, is not merely insufficient, it is foolish and ugly philosophy to try to apply to someone like a cancer patient in a terminal ward, for whom base pleasure is not possible.

Instead of an answer, we merely get an expression of contempt for the sick and the dying. We are told that life also consists of healthy and happy people.

Why, and so it does! The happiest people of all are married people, which is an institution my opponent seeks to undermine. Happier is he who is raised by his parents than he was as a child is left to die out in the snow, which is an option my opponent seeks to justify.  Happier still is the man whose neighbors are selfless, heroic, choleric, and patriotic, for they will fight the enemy at home and aboard, who otherwise wait to rob and despoil. And happy again is the village and town with no pornographer, no pederast, no drug culture, no gamblers, no drunks, no slanderers, because not only can those people not tempted by these things raise their children without a constant expectation of innocent & impressionable minds being exposed to abhorrent filth, but also the people tempted by these things can be kept from self-destructive habits, whether they like it or not. They may still have the itch, but even they will admit that scratching makes it worse, not better.

You see, my opponent is arguing that Christianity, a world view that does comfort the sick and reform the sinner, a faith that does allow the cripple to take up his bed and walk, is somehow unfair to the healthy and righteous men, the people who are not cripples. Where he gets this notion, I have no idea: it is certainly not in anything I said.

Nor is that my experience. We Christians are surrounded by ceremony and festivity, including ceremonies of joy and of mourning; there are baptisms and marriages, but also funerals. There are fast days and feast days. We may mourn and put on sad countenance on Good Friday, but we dance in the streets on Mardi Gras, and we are so happy on Easter Sunday that we gather together and sing hymns of praise and thanksgiving.

So, I ask you, reformers of the future, to dwell for a moment on the sheer, stark, astonishing, amazing inadequacy of my opponent's response.

I will remind you of the exchange once again. I said that a life of selfish pleasure offers nothing to a man in a sickbed: no comfort, no hope, no guidance. It does not even offer any guidance to a boy who is lovesick or to a man who just lost his favorite dog. To tell these people to seek selfish pleasure is a sick joke, a monstrosity.

Imagine Job, sitting in the ashes, all his life's work ruined, all his children dead, scraping with a pot shard at the boils and running sores erupting over his diseased flesh. In comes the mighty whirlwind, full of thunders, and reveals the almighty truth from heaven: "Eat, drink and fuck! Serve your dick, Job! That is what life is all about!"

"But, sir, my male member is covered with unsightly pustules. I have a toothache in every tooth, and cancer is eating my bones. All my children are dead. Besides, I am married."

"No, no! Go find a Playboy Bunny and a sixpack! Have an orgy! Party on, dude! PAAAR-TAAAY!"

Now, this is not to say that Christianity, or, for that matter, the normal sense of decency that every honest man, religious or not, feels in his heart, cannot offer guidance to the healthy and wealthy and wise. Any real philosophy can speak both during happy days and sad.

The shocking inadequacy here is that when I asked my opponent how his philosophy deals with the tragic side of life, for once he does not answer honorably, he merely shrugs the question aside, and then acts as if he had to defend the healthy and happy people of the world from something I said.

This is not an accident of this particular man. This is a value built in to the root of every hedonistic system. Hedonists ignore the tragic side of life, or else they feel contempt for human suffering. Their philosophy is shallow.

When you ask them, "Here a ninety-nine sound men: but what do we do about the one hundredth, who is a leper? How do we comfort him, save him, show him compassion? How do we love him?" They answer, "That is not my job. I could care less" or they answer, "It is his fault he suffers," or they answer, "I will not sacrifice my happiness for the leper," which is an answer that particularly reveals their moral and mental shallowness, especially if no one is asking him to sacrifice any form of true happiness.

To return to the point, if your family raises you in the land of Freedonia, where people think and talk this way, the moment you fall sick, you are an unperson. Their philosophy will seek to blot you out of their memory and attention. They are busy swiveling Playboy Bunnies and chugging beer. PAAAR-TAAAY! No one wants you and your sores and your smells cluttering up their little corner of Eden.

Surely you do not expect a hospital to take you in at public support? To gather taxes for these purposes, perhaps for any purposes, would violate the nonaggression principle. Surely you do not expect for there to be Churches in Freedonia, hospitals run by nuns and missionaries to care for the sick because of the compassion Almighty God command His people to show? In case you cannot tell, Freedonia and the Church will never have anything to do with each other. Do you expect people to be charitable and volunteer their  help and support for non-religious reasons, merely out of human sympathy and decency? Aha! That is a fine thing to think of your fellow man. There are many decent and sympathetic secular humanists. But humanism is NOT hedonism. The governing philosophy in Freedonia is not the principle that all men are brothers and that human life is what gives the inhuman universe value. Secular humanists live for the dream of human aspiration, progress, enlightenment, world peace. They live for the greater glory and the greater happiness of man. They live for the future, and they have a concern for our remote posterity: Environmentalism in my opinion is a new type of paganism, a nature-worshiping religion: but it is as honorable as paganism: these pagans think in terms of the remote future on a routine basis. Why should the hedonists of Freedonia think about anyone except Mr. Trouser Willie?

I have already written longer than I can afford.

I cannot speak to the dishonor involved here, but it should be obvious from these last few paragraphs. Freedonia is not merely a set of laws. It is also a moral theory, or, to be specific, it is a theory that morality is not open to reason. It is moral agnosticism. All the Freedonian can say when questioned is that no human should ever dare to criticize or correct the choice another human makes between self-preservation and self-destruction. Any vice, no matter how much pain it causes you or your loved ones in the long run, is a matter for your private choice only, and the choice is one with no standards.

Even Ayn Rand, arch-libertarian, would not go so far as this. She valued human reason and human liberty above all things, but she was a strict moralist. Her philosophy stated that it was not mere physical survival that was the source of human morality, but "human survival qua man", which she defined as being those acts of survival suited or fitting to a rational and productive life. Surviving at the expense of others, without honest labor, she dismissed as unworthy, even in particular cases where it might serve one's short-term self-preservation and self-interest.

Whatever our questions about Ayn Rand or about real libertarians, we need not reach here. My opponent is not supporting Eudemonism or Epicureanism, which hold that certain pleasures are unworthy to pursue because they lead to long-term displeasure or shame. No. Read the quote about "composition" again. My opponent is advocating radical moral agnosticism: his claim is that it is arbitrary and wrong to govern one's appetites for any reason, spiritual or pragmatic. Even delayed gratification is out of the question, if we take his stance literally.

(Such is my interpretation of comments such as this: "So it is better for the man to live in despair than to die? Why shouldn't a man be the judge of his own best option?") 

He makes the same error several times: instead of merely saying that the laws should be concerned only with the harms men might do one to another, he says instead that morals and ethics should be concerned only with the harms men do one to another, and that any harm a man does himself is a matter of total moral agnosticism, up to an including self-deception, opium addiction, self-betrayal, sadism toward animals, and outright suicide.  All these are totally arbitrary personal choices no more open to criticism or philosophical examination than an arbitrary taste for pie over cake.

There is no contradiction to say, as most libertarians do, that personal integrity and rationality is necessary for a happy life and a just one, but that the guardianship of public morality and decency is a private matter. The fact that my opponent speaks of organizing boycotts against pornographers or dog-burners shows, on the one hand, that he has some notion of an ethical standard that applies to individuals, and that, on the other hand, he has not yet realized the implication of that notion.

Let us briefly look at the core axiom of the Freedonians. It is a mere assertion, as an axiom, that freedom from aggression is an absolute that outweighs all other competing rights and considerations.

In the paragraphs above, I have not sought to prove that this axiom is right or wrong. All I have done is proved that, if liberty from aggression is held to be more valuable than any competing value, then it is held to be of more value than life itself, in those particular cases where the two values clash. If this is so, the axiom cannot be defended on Eudemonistic grounds.

You can say, if you wish, that liberty is an absolute good, trumping all other values; but you cannot say that liberty is a good because it supports the higher values we call human life and happiness.

So far I have only made the limited argument that, in these cases, Freedonian children have less chance of surviving to old age than children in Tanstaaflia. I have not even addressed a much larger issue, that the atomization of the family and the nation into a group of self-centered solipsists, as jealous as Jehovah of any impositions on their precious individual rights, cannot help but form a nation more vulnerable to raids and attacks by ambitious neighbors than would be, for example, a like number of Spartans, or even Englishmen from the time of Victoria or Cromwell. If two nations, in all other respects equal, differ because one is filled with patriots willing and eager to serve, and the other is filled with the Me First Whine Most Generation, which would you prefer as your protector and ally in time of war and tribulation?  

Since the principle of Absolute Nonaggression is an axiom, and since I do not know why I (or anyone) should accept that axiom, I can only address one comment against it:

Absolute Nonaggression is in direct and logical contradiction with the other axiom of his system, the Principle of Total Moral Agnosticism. Since we cannot use reason to overcome lust, or any other self-destructive emotion, and since we cannot even criticize, correct, or instruct other people, ergo we are left unable to justify the sanctity granted to total non-aggression.

Certainly we cannot conclude, without some clearer argument, that total nonaggression has any survival value over a more traditional view of government's role being a necessary evil, that can sometimes contradict this principle.

Naturally, there are other things in life, aside from survival value, that the idea of base hedonism, total selfishness, total moral agnosticism and absolute nonaggression offend, but time does not permit. I leave those arguments as an exercise for the reader.

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