The statist disease, not yet sterilised

There are a few nice people who seem to be confused about rights and in particular, the rights of exchange, association and property.

This confusion manifested itself today over the matter of an American charity that is paying ‘drug addicts’ to be sterilised.

The Libertarian position on this is straightforward.

  1. You own your own body.
  2. You have the absolute right to voluntarily associate with whomever you like without interference.
  3. You have the absolute right to voluntarily exchange with whomever you like without interference.

This means, for example, that prostitution (accepting money for sexual favours) should never be illegal, since it is the consenting act of trade between two people. It means that if you want to sell your hair, a kidney, or both of your kidneys, you have the right to do so since you have a property right in your own body.

It also means in relation to this story, that you have the right to give or accept money in exchange for a medical procedure (in this case vasectomy or some other sterilisation procedure).

And none of this is the business of the state or anyone other than the consenting parties

If you accept that the state has the power to tell you that you may not sell one of your kidneys to someone, then you accept that they own you, like cattle.

If you accept that the state has the power to prevent people offering money to individuals (in this case sterilisation) then you are conceding that the state has the power to interfere in your right of exchange and free association.

You cannot on the one hand, be FOR Home Education, where you freely associate with other people or no people, rejecting the power of the state to tell you how and where you educate your children, and at the same time be FOR the state telling a charity that they cannot offer sterilisation to individuals with their own money. If you concede the latter, you cannot ask for the former and remain logical and coherent.

One patient person claimed that this charity was ‘exploiting’ people, and that using money in this way was ‘exploitation’. The person also claimed that “money and power were connected” Neither of these is the case.

Lets go to the dictionary.

Exploitation

ex·ploi·ta·tion   
[ek-sploi-tey-shuhn] Show IPA
–noun
1.use or utilization, esp. for profit: the exploitation of newly discovered oil fields.
2.selfish utilization: He got ahead through the exploitation of his friends.
3.the combined, often varied, use of public-relations and advertising techniques to promote a person, movie, product, etc.

[…]

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/exploitation

This is a charity, so number one does not fit.
This is an unselfish act on the part of the people who are running this programme, so two does not fit.
Three does not fit.

Lets try another dictionary.

Definition of EXPLOIT

1: to make productive use of : utilize <exploiting your talents> <exploit your opponent's weakness>
2: to make use of meanly or unfairly for one's own advantage <exploiting migrant farm workers>

Number one doesn’t fit.
Number two doesn’t fit either; these people are not being mean or ‘unfair’.

By the dictionary definition alone, this charity is exploiting no one.

Now for money and power.

Money is a tool, just like a hammer. You can use it to build a house or murder someone. It is not a living entity. What people do with money is an excrescence of their personality and motives; money is just the means to do it.

Power is force. When the state tells you you must send your children to school, they have the power to do so because they have a monopoly on violence. They send the police to your house, break down the door and take your children to school if you refuse to obey them. This charity has money, but it has no power whatsoever. They cannot force anyone to be sterilised against their will, any more than they can force a person to do anything. They simply make an offer which you can either take up or refuse.

The fact of the matter is, as long as you are not being taxed to pay for something like this (NHS abortion on demand, NHS sterilisation of drug addicts and all other social engineering) what private people plan and get up to voluntarily is none of your business.

Private people getting together to solve the tasks that they perceive as problems is absolutely normal and natural. They have the right to do so, because they are human beings, just like you are. If you do not like the idea of people offering sterilisation to drug addicts, then you are free to organise your own counter charity that gives money to drug addicts to $insert_your_plan_here. You could even organise yourself to pay for radio ads against this charity, and a poster campaign to warn drug addicts that they are being hunted. If you were minded to.

This charity is not stealing from you via the tax man. They are not forcing you to believe what they believe, or to be sterilised yourself. They do not want to control you, or exploit your family like the extremely dangerous fake charities. They do not want anything from anyone, except from the people who think that ‘drug addicts’ should not be left to produce children since they are ‘irresponsible’, from whom they ask for voluntary donations.

This is completely different from the state mandating sterilisation, and some people have a problem separating the evil operations of the state and the non evil work of charities that are funded purely. It is also completely different from the operation of the ‘=fake charities that use ‘your money’ to come after you in your own home. These confused people are the same people who do not understand the difference between choosing to carry a credit card or a supermarket loyalty card and being force to carry a government issued ID Card. We have been over this before; voluntary acceptance of a service through contract is completely different to compulsion by the state.

What is completely unacceptable to all moral people is the idea that because you do not like the behaviour of other people, you should call on the state to stop them from doing whatever it is they are doing voluntarily, that has nothing to do with you.

This is the schizophrenic mindset of some people, who want freedom for themselves and their own peculiar ways of life, but who will instantly call upon the state to smash the lives of other people with whom they disagree; and lets be frank; in the end, this is what it always comes down to; calls for organised surveillance and threats of violence from the state made by those people who cannot stand free association unless its their flavour of free association.

Note that in all of this, I do not take any position on wether or not sterilisation of human beings is a good thing or not, wether prostitution is moral or immoral, or wether it is a good or bad thing to be a ‘drug addict’ bearing children, or anything else to do with an opinion on the details; they are all irrelevant.

This is a question purely of rights; do people have the right to organise, associate, exchange money for goods and services? Libertarians say ‘Yes’ people do have these rights, and they should not be interfered with by anyone.

We may or may not agree with the work of this charity, but if you want to preserve your own way of life, then you have no choice but to support their right to say what they like, give money to whom they like, and associate with whomever they like.

If you do not accept their right, you are irrational, illogical and will not have a leg to stand on when someone who does not share your ideas turns the eye of Mordor upon you and your ilk, claiming that the way they see the world is the only correct way, and you must obey them or face violence, for the sole reason that they hold beliefs that are different to yours, and can muster a violent gang to force you to obey them.

Update! Clarification!

An attentive person has pointed out that that this charity is not paying for sterilisation, but that instead, the sterilisation procedures are taking place at taxpayers expense on the NHS, and that somehow this invalidates the sense of part of this post.

That is of course, not the case.

First of all, these are the precise facts about exactly what happens when a drug addict encounters this charity and takes up their offer. In order to collect his £200 he has to:

“provide a medical certificate of drug dependency and another certifying that they have had tubal ligation, vasectomy or a contraceptive implant.”

[…]

http://www.practicalethicsnews.com/practicalethics/2010/04/embrace-the-controversy-lets-offer-project-prevention-on-the-nhs.html

This means that what is happening is that a drug addict, upon presenting documentary evidence that he or she is in fact a drug addict and has been sterilised, receives money from this charity. Where he gets this procedure is not mandated in the terms, though its clear that a drug addict is highly likely to get it done for ‘free’ on the NHS (A vasectomy operation in a private hospital or clinic in the UK will cost in the region of £300 to £900 inclusive of hospital charges and consultant’s fees)

Most importantly,

  • No coercion is involved.
  • Its a private, voluntary exchange of money for documentary evidence.

The fact that the taxpayer is paying for these procedures is an entirely separate issue, of the legitimacy of socialised medicine; the sterilisation on offer at the NHS is already a fact. If you have a problem with that, its a completely separate discussion to wether or not this charity should ask for money from private people to offer drug addicts in exchange for proof that they are drug addicts and have been sterilised.

This charity is not forcing you to pay for the sterilisation of drug addicts; the state is. If you do not like this, then you have to do something about how the NHS is funded. The charity’s contract with the drug addicts to produce documents is still a completely voluntary and private arrangement between consenting adults, and should be vigorously protected by everyone who wants to continue unmolested with their own peculiar ways.

It is completely wrong to say that these people should not be able to come to their own arrangements, understandings and contractual agreements for money or not.

Once again:

They are not exploiting anyone, since what they are doing is entirely voluntary. This charity is not stealing from you, since by asking people to take advantage of something that is already their (according to those who think that the NHS is entirely legitimate, and who do not understand rights) ‘right’ to sterilisation on the NHS they are getting something that they are already entitled to.

If you disagree with the premiss of the NHS, then the drug addicts and everyone else who uses it for plastic surgery, dentistry or sterilisation is stealing from you wether or not this charity operates in the UK or not.

The logic of this post stands. People have the right to voluntarily contract with each other for anything and on whatever terms they like. You cannot on the one hand, ask for this to be controlled or say that, “it isn’t a transaction which has no effect outside of the charity and the addicts”; this is exactly the same logic that the people who want to ban Home Education use. They say that the children of Home Educators, as members of society, have an impact on that society if they are not educated in the school system and so therefore, Home Education is not a private matter, but is within the remit of the state to control on behalf of society, and parents have no right to Home Educate. If you accept that this charity should not be able to operate, or should be in any way constrained, attacked, scorned, chided or anything else, you are opening yourself up to the same attacks from the people who want to control you and your life, what you and how you solve your problems in ways that are ‘strange’, or ‘out of the norm’.

UPDATE AGAIN

The very wise Ali P, who taught us that Home Educated children are not pupils, pulls our her foil:

The Libertarian position on this is straightforward.

1. You own your own body.
2. You have the absolute right to voluntarily associate with whomever you like without interference.
3. You have the absolute right to voluntarily exchange with whomever you like without interference.

This means, for example, that prostitution (accepting money for sexual favours) should never be illegal, since it is the consenting act of trade between two people. It means that if you want to sell your hair, a kidney, or both of your kidneys, you have the right to do so since you have a property right in your own body.

As it happens, I agree with much of this in principle, but in practice, I believe coercion is frequently used to secure ‘consent’, whether it is statist coercion or other private or ‘charitable’ coercion. The ‘willing’ acceptance of home visits by some home educators, and the ‘advice’ of some charities to agree to these visits, is one example of what I mean by this.

I also agree that there is a parallel with prostitution, which is AFAIK not illegal in this country, although soliciting is. However, for practitioners of the oldest profession, it is not always a straightforward choice to enter voluntarily into a contract for the provision of services, since coercion, threats and even violence are routinely employed in the sector as effective techniques of persuasion.

When a ‘power over’ situation exists, whether it is overt as in forced marriage, human trafficking, domestic servitude (do they all sound familiar?) or more subtle as in cash for organs, sterilisation or whatever, it matters not IMO whether it is the state or A.N. Other who bribes, coerces, forces or otherwise extracts the individual’s apparent consent. And like it or not, some individuals are more vulnerable to such coercion, often through through age, illness or incapacity – drug addicts, for example.

I’d be interested in what others think about this.

Why not?!

We must be clear when we talk about these matters, using words only in their strict meaning, whilst also being careful to separate different classes of entity. The things we need to define in this mater are the two entities (a private group and the state) and exactly what coercion is and how free a free choice is.

By definition, a private charity cannot coerce someone to be sterilised:

co·er·cion   
[koh-ur-shuhn] Show IPA
–noun
1. the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.
2. force or the power to use force in gaining compliance, as by a government or police force.

[…]

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/coercion

As we can see from the dictionary definition of coercion, force or intimidation (threats of force) are necessary to make an action fall into the category of coercion. The second part of the definition explicitly mentions the state.

What this charity is doing is not coercion, but it could be classed as persuasion. This is a very different matter to coercion by the state, with its monopoly on violence.

Persuasion is at the centre of a civilised interaction between human beings. It means swaying someone purely by argument alone, the final freely made choice being made by the persuaded person.

To use the UK ID Card example once again, the state claimed that ID Cards were not compulsory, but you would not be able to get a passport without one, and would therefore not be able to travel to other countries. That is clear coercion, this time, with the threat of violently barricading you inside ‘your’ country.

The willing acceptance of home visits by some home educators, falls into this category; if you do not accept a visit from us, we will violently take your children from you. That is coercion pure and simple, and of the same kind, from the same source; the evil state.

As for charities giving ‘advice’ to agree to these visits, this is an example of lying, which is not coercion, but perhaps collusion. If Home Educators had their own legal defence fund and lawyers on tap, this would not be an issue of course.

The parallel with prostitution is very deep in this matter; this charity, according to the byzantine ‘thinking’ of some people and laws of the UK, could be accused of soliciting drug addicts to self mutilate… but I digress; the circumstances by which prostitutes become prostitutes is not relevant to this subject, when we are talking about people who choose that life, as we have seen recently. When people are forced to act as prostitutes through violence, this is unambiguously evil violence, and is not part of this discussion.

Once again, we must cleanly separate coercion, violence and free choice when we have discussions on these matters.

Some confused people say that if someone is poor, they do not have a free choice to refuse money for sterilisation or anything else, by virtue of their desperate need. This is simply not the case. For certain the pressure on them is much greater, but they still have a free choice to not participate in anything that they do not want to. These very weak minded arguments undermine Liberty and act as a foot in the door of everyone’s lives for the nanny state.

With reference to ‘power over’ situations, once again, its important not to conflate a group of different phenomena that are wildly disparate in their cause and natures.

‘Forced marriage’ is an unpleasant idea for the British and people from the culture of the west, where marriage is done out of love and not familial duty.. In other countries however, marriage is quite a different thing, and to them, ‘John meets Jane’ marriages are anathema.

How other people choose to marry in other countries has nothing to do with coercion as defined here. Human trafficking (which is much better termed slavery) is pure unambiguous violence; in the minds of the people whose culture accepts arranged marriages (which is the correct term, not ‘Forced marriage’) slavery is, for the most part, seen strictly as a sin.

Domestic servitude which appears to be yet another unnecessary way of saying slavery, once again is unambiguously evil, and the tests for it are straightforward and beyond this discussion.

Cash for organs and sterilisation for money are nothing to do with any of this; these are entirely legitimate, voluntary exchanges of property, over which a third party should have absolutely no say. To say otherwise, is to engage in slavery; the slavery where your body, and the bodies of your children belong to the collective, to do with what they please, as they please, when they please.

As for individuals being vulnerable, indeed drug addicts with their addled brains and diminished powers of reason are vulnerable to persuasion; this does not mean that all of us who are not drug addicts should not have the freedoms that are our right. Down this line of reasoning, comes the logic that since this class of person cannot reason for themselves or protect themselves, someone has to protect them from the predations of these charities. Of course, the other class of people who cannot reason for themselves or protect themselves are children; hey ho, whaddyaknow, y’ just made Lord Soley’s argument for him; children belong in schools because, “we have to know they are safe”.

This is the big danger of accepting as ‘common sense’ the immoral reasoning of collectivism (and this is explicitly not aimed at A.P.) embrace it at your peril, and do not complain when they come to take your children, using your own parroted arguments about ‘vulnerable people’ as the pretext.

In Libertarianism, you have a complete way of approaching every possible human interaction that has unassailable logic that protects you, your rights and your relationships with other people. It provides a platform for the maximum prosperity without any violence or coercion. Those who are against it are normally either confused or explicitly violent types – you know the sort, the ones that think restaurants should be licensed by the state ‘because someone might get sick’.

Unfortunately for many, Libertarianism means throwing out years of accumulated presumptions and frameworks, most learned by rote and repeated without any thought. Libertarianism gives you the tools to parse the world and penetrate the reams of nonsense that are spewed out on every subject, like this one. If you take the time to get to grips with it, and have the intelligence and the strength to throw away your bad thinking, you will be rewarded with a set of tools and a philosophy that are is formidable as it is unassailable.

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One comment on “The statist disease, not yet sterilised
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ruth O'Hare, Beautyon. Beautyon said: The statist disease, not yet sterilised http://bit.ly/cHn32E < BLOGDIAL on the charity paying 2 sterilize 'drug addicts' #projectprevention […]

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