virus: Guns for Peace

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 25 Mar 1999 11:36:22 -0500

>Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999 12:53:45 -0500
>From: "Eric Boyd" <>
>Subject: Re: virus: Guns for Peace
>The non-experience of pain is not what we want -- what we want is the
>absence of coercion (the psychological state of being forced to enact
>a theory while a rival theory remains active in your mind).

Really? What if I have a theory that I want another person's property, or that I want to hurt someone? Surely it is necessary to coerce people with actions and words in these cases. Isn't that what every mature human being learns to do...coerce themselves? Don't we supress our more primitive actions in favor of our more sublime? Even so, do we escape our more primitive theories?

Is there such a gulf between what goes on in our own mind and what goes on in our societies? Perhaps you should think a while on how "independent" you thick a line do you draw between yourself and the rest of the world? Is such a line rational, or do we share more than we might think? I believe people live out their lives, to a great extent, in the lives of the people that surround them...we live in each other's cognitive and emotional universes.

Given this, and your insistence that we cannot "force" people to think or act a certian way...what are our options? Do we let the wolf eat our children?

>Negative. What we want to do is let people *choose*, but not *fend*
>for themselves -- as Huxley says in _Brave New World Revisited_: "But
>societies are composed of individuals and are good only insofar as
>they help individuals to realize their potentialities and to lead a
>happy and creative life".

Agreed. But, I wonder what Huxley's definitions of happy and creative are. In my experience, people tend to define these things as "more like me" or "more in a way that I feel superior".

> Smacking people silly is exactly a step in
>the wrong direction -- instead of punishing individuals for mistakes,
>we should be helping them to learn from them; indeed doing all that we
>can to place individuals in non-coercive learning environments.

Agreed, but what do you do with people who don't respect other people's rights? What do you do with people that coerce their peers and lessers. If everyone were as you would like, there would be no need for authority...but we aren't all like that, are we?

>Incorrect. BNW is a "utopia" where everyone gets what you tell and
>train them to want.

Do you HONESTLY think that you want anything you haven't been programed by your genes or environment to want? Do you think you have some original, independent, novel character that chooses and creates things that you were never told or trained? If so, may I can this divine spark of individuality your "soul", for lack of a better term. Do you have such a soul? Do you have such a thing which comes, ordered and passionate from nothingness or from where we know not?

It's important. If you do have a soul, in the sense I've presented, then I can understand your meaning. If you don't, then you aren't any different from the zombies of BNW...except that the zombies are programmed to want things they can have, where you are programmed to want things you can never have.

>What you are missing (again) is that punishment and pain, per say, are
>not helpful -- they do not help people learn, instead they induce
>coercion damage, destroy creativity and make people less rational.

Agreed. But, sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils.

>Mistakes will be made. The goal of a utopian society would be to
>ensure that the individuals learn either (1) the easy way, from
>others, or (2) as quickly and painlessly as possible from their own

I don't think one can learn painlessly. Real learning is a struggle against the world within and the world without. The painless part is memorizing facts and learning rhetoric.


  Reed Konsler