Monday, June 28, 2010

Mutually Assured Destruction

The underlying indictment of this blog is in broad systems and economies that dictate certain stances on human rights, as an inevitability. So for example, 9/11 happens, and the center moves right. The centrists are still centrists and they can still claim that the fact that they're in a large crowd - the center - suggests that the decisions the center comes to are most likely to be correct because regular people are pragmatic and sensible and tend to come to the correct answer after weighing the obligations and the possible approaches. I would say, watch out. This center can hold anything at all. And you sometimes have to take the propositions on a case-by-case basis. If you have a dichotomy between things that "shock the conscience" and things that are ordinary and methodical, what are you gonna do when a vast center decides that things that shock the conscience ARE ordinary and methodical? Combined with a Congress that will only do centrist things, this sounds like moral checkmate to me.

And throughout this blog, I am trying to suggest a pragmatic, self-interested motivation for doubting, questioning and sometimes saying "no" to state power to hurt, kill or interfere with "other" people on a careful and targeted basis, if it is a double standard and you wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of the inevitable accidental false positives and/or deliberate false positives in carrying that policy out. Be careful. Don't be so sure you know that the rates and ratios of those regrettable, banal, friendly-fire incidents and mistaken-identity incidents will fall within the zone you consider to be worthwhile on balance.

Of course the quandary I see and maybe acknowlege is that every action that gets us in deeper and checkmates us more, may have been brought on as a well-meaning reaction to a previous thing. So we want to expand the kinds of energy we use, possibly to reduce interdependence with the Middle East, so we go and use corn for fuel, thereby reducing the amount of corn available as food. Or we want to take decisive action so there is never again another holocaust, and end up with a state so protected by special language and with such a national identity of defensiveness that they start taking it out on other cultures, many, many decades later. Rumsfeld is hanging out with Saddam, Saddam is a CIA guy, but there were thoughful considerations that went in to figuring out whether or not we should try to use him as a barrier against some OTHER problem, and presumably the intelligence and government officials who weighed that scale were also trying to protect families from whoever, maybe Iraq as a barrier against Iran. We fund and arm Noriega and then turn around and take him down. Bin Laden too, against the Soviets. The argument being "we do these things because we HAVE to."

It doesn't matter - I'm saying that the equations are too whacked. International systems should be judged by their collateral-damage potential. Bland centrist journalists like, let's say, David Gregory, are carrying on representing the sensible middle, to the expense of applying the moral/ethical smell test to the new normal.

So what do I favor instead - seasteading?? Some kind of separatist colony or as Mark Shahinian once pointed out, the Green Mountains and the White Mountains of Vermont form a natural barrier to I don't know what, nuclear fallout, and any community in the middle is probably going to be OK. (Ha- but if you have a colloidal suspension, tiny particles of surveillance spread equidistant over a saline/freedom base, and technological breakout capability for anything for anywhere from anywhere, even rural Vermont may not escape the eye.)

Also, I mentioned earlier that I acknowledge the problem of genuine crime taking advantage of strong encryption. So let's say you did have a bunch of people standing athwart history yelling stop, only with the human rights declaration in their hands rather than National Review, and they set up some kind of little community, doesn't that little libertarian community then have to be monitored so that it isn't a "safe haven" for attacks that also kill innocent people?

Strong encryption is all we have. SETAZ = Strongly encrypted temporary autonomous zone is the only freedom zone. Perhaps.

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