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Hogarth judge

December 2017

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I won't be forced to breed children!

Activists

This deserves to be a separate post.

I probably need to expatiate on that subject a bit more. But the basic problems caused by activists all stem from the fact that they are dissatisfied with the way things are and have various ideas in their heads about the way things ought to be. They therefore use politics in an attempt to change the world. They don't, of course: it won't budge. But they don't give up trying, either.

In an ideal republic, the policeman on the corner is a friend and ally in time of trouble: because there is no major discontinuity between the ideals espoused by public law, and the way people conduct their private affairs. Law is held in check and only prohibits unreasonable actions. To the extent that you might not want him poking around in your garden, blame an activist.

Activists are why the speed limits don't reflect the way people actually drive, and are instead set to the way somebody thinks they ought to be driving. Maybe it's for "safety", or maybe for "conservation". It makes no difference.

You don't like the human fondness for getting drunk or stoned. It might be unfortunate. So you pass a law, and turn the policeman into the enemy of your neighbors.

And so on, ad infinitum. Activists turn government, which ideally ought to be the same from one decade to the next, into something everyone has to monitor, the subject of constant attention. Ideally, the Congress should sit once a decade, for a couple weeks. But there are too many people out there who have all sorts of wonderful ideas about how you ought to be running your life, and they all want to be heard.

Journalists love activists. Without a perpetual motion government, some days they'd have to run cake recipes on the front page. So they call up some activists, who are eager to give an earful of their opinions about what's wrong with society and their great plans to fix it. And the paper runs an "investigative" article on the Scandal of X and the editorial column issues a Call for Reform.

All of the activists, from the animal rights nuts to the anti-abortion nuts, want the government to declare war on some subset of their neighbors. All of them imagine it's mighty important, and needs to be done now. I repeat: "an activist is a person who makes enemies lists."

Activists, broadly defined, are responsible for most of the trouble caused by government:

— from the war in Iraq (lobbied for by the Israeli government and its apologists for some time)

— to the reprehensible metric system (the epitome of top-down "rational planning," whose flaws are the result of its arbitrary, lofty abstraction and consequent neglect of human scale.)

Yes, all activism's bad.

Comments

Sure. The whole "nanny state" thing. You must wear a helmet, or fasten your seat belt, if I choose to do those personally it's one thing, but I don't want Big Brother on my ass if I choose not to. Keep Off The Grass. No Loitering.

We call Pavilion an activist group, but is this incorrect? We don't want the government to do anything about it, we're not trying to get laws passed, just want people to see a different perspective. Get some different views on television so that people don't just think Sybil or the psych party line. Is it still wrong, because it's trying to change the way things are? Or should it not be called "activism"?

Also, a more general question: This sounds as if you think there shouldn't be laws that are based on morality because the first question is whose morality (e.g., prohibition, sodomy laws, prostitution, abortion, gay marriage). That I can agree with. But what laws do you think should exist, then? What about things that are malo in se like murder? I mean, how should it work?

Also, what about things that really are unjust, how would you fix those? What would be a better method for things like civil rights?
In my ideal republic, I'd probably require:
  • A large supermajority - at least 75%, and 90% seems even better - requirement to pass new criminal laws;
  • Any new crimes that weren't already crimes at common law - the list in Blackstone, purged of constitutionally weak stuff like blasphemy and adultery - would have sunset provisions, and lapse after five years, unless re-enacted with the same supermajority.
  • If the law lapsed, anyone sentenced under it would be freed at that time.

This has more to do with keeping the misuse of criminal law for social engineering in check generally, and less to do with the activist mind per se. The point is, activists have enemies and make enemies. They are out to punish people who get in their way as they try to remake the world according to their ideals. Freedom is ultimately founded on the perennial human tendency to break the laws.

No, Pavilion is not an "activist group" by my understanding. Social warfare is not really its objective.
I especially like re-evaluating the laws every five years. The supermajority idea is great, but I'm wondering if it would make things like civil rights laws harder to get passed.

What should we call Pavilion instead? The last thing we want is social warfare, we're trying to get people to think differently. Awareness group?
Awareness group?

Just so long as you don't have a ribbon logo. :)