The following is the Backwoods Home website exchange between Kitty Antonik Wakfer and Claire Wolfe that developed out of Claire's blog entry on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011, "More Pure than Thou", which is her response to Kitty's article, "Are Principles Unaffordable?" Had Kitty not noticed a particular website referral to our personal index page (one of the few on which we have a tracker) she probably would never have known that this rather prolific blogger had taken offence at the Focus article.
Kitty posted a comment on January 29th to Claire's blog, having taken several days to prepare it (with Paul's usual editing assistance) while also doing other tasks:
> More pure than thou
It was only by chance that I discovered that this response by you even existed, since you did not notify me (my email address is at the bottom of every MoreLife.org and SelfSIP.org page) which would have been a courteous thing to do - or at least made a short comment at the RRND item of notice on my article w/ a link to here for the full blog entry. I'm several days behind reading my Inbox and even when I did finally see RRND's 1/26 copy (after beginning this reply), the inclusion of this blog entry of yours gave no indication that it was in response to my article. I'm responding inline - using your blog quotes so as to not take anything you wrote out of context.
As to your title, no, I and Paul are not more "pure" - just more consistently principled in wanting to actually attain a totally free self-ordered society without rulers.
> January 25th, 2011 by Claire
> Kitty Antonik Wakfer whacks all of us who say we support WikiLeaks and
> Bradley Manning, but who haven't cancelled our Amazon and PayPal
> accounts or cut up our MasterCards and Visas.
First and foremost, I do not do hatchet or "whack"-jobs in my writings (nor does Paul). I want people to improve, to act in accordance with what will maximize the lifetime happiness of each, the purpose of each person's life whether or not s/he realizes it. (For the foundational basis of this stated purpose, please read Paul's treatise "Social Meta-Needs: A New Basis for Optimal Interaction" - http://selfsip.org/fundamentals/socialmetaneeds.html - and the links from it.) I do not seek out, nor take any pleasure in pointing out, the errors in another's verbal or written statements. I would much have preferred in this current situation to actually have discovered that only a few liberty promoting writers were acting in contradiction to their stated approval of WikiLeaks, but unfortunately this was not the case. And I included the request that readers notify me of liberty-promoting (or otherwise) writers that have actually done as I show is needed.
The "cut up our MasterCards and Visas" is a considerable exaggeration. I never suggested that anyone "cut up" their MasterCards and Visas, or simply cancel their accounts without that symbolic gesture - but perhaps this is an attempt to to get readers at the very beginning of this blog entry to feel "whacked" by me. I wrote in (and provided a link to) my comment at the RawStory article on Anonymous (did you read it?), "While we have not canceled our Bank of America Visa credit card nor our  other Visa and MasterCards through other institutions [(US and Canada - Paul is a legal Canadian resident)], they are on an emergency-only use basis." This is because there are some things that appear to be virtually impossible to accomplish without use of a credit card (renting a car is one that comes readily to mind). I also have an over $10K credit limit on one card and about the same again between the others and am loathe to give up that emergency use capability. Besides, if I do not use the cards then having this emergency credit available is not supportive of Visa or MasterCard in any manner. But yes, previous moderately frequent use of all our credit cards is on hold and will not resume unless Visa and Mastercard change their ways. I even went so far as to get a debit card with my credit union, only to realize after getting it that it uses Mastercard to accomplish the transfer from the credit union. Since MasterCard does get some remunerative benefit from its use (from the merchant, but less than for a credit card), I no longer use the debit card except to get gas when I am in a real hurry (such as a few days ago when ice cream was melting because we forgot the cold box ice packs).
> She does one very good thing, which is to provide a list of possible payment
> alternatives - even if many of them haven't reached the point of
> sustainability (and may never)
How do you know they are not yet sustainable? And if you and others do not patronize them, then how will they ever reach that point? Are you waiting for the "cannon fodder" of people (who *you* clearly think are foolish) to pave the way for you?
> and others aren't really applicable.
Only one was not of use for payments within the US - XOOM.com - but since there are liberty-promoting individuals and websites outside the US (yes, there really are!), those individuals and websites can receive money from USers using this method. As for the others, how do you know that they "aren't really applicable" until you fully investigate and maybe even try them out. Ah, but its so much easier to just continue to use the already known - never mind that they have shown themselves to be totally unworthy of association. The road to liberty is strewn with boulders and every one of us will need to push and tug our way along or we will certainly never get there.
> But the whole piece also does one very bad thing. It implies that because she
> has chosen the course of boycotting businesses on behalf of WikiLeaks,
"[O]n behalf of WikiLeaks" is not the correct way to put it. I have discontinued associations with these businesses on behalf of *myself* - because my pride, my honor, my self-esteem requires that action. I never even hesitated when I first read of Amazon's and PayPal's actions. I was aghast that they would do that without any formal government action against them - and disgusted that they would be so cowardly. Claire, were you not equally aghast and disgusted?!
> others who haven't are wrongheaded at best, and hypocrites and defeatists at
Yes, all of that and with some even more. They are wrongheaded because the mission of gaining a truly free self-ordered society without rulers is so difficult that nothing less than constant and total fidelity to the task in every word and deed can possibly attain the goal. Some are hypocrites because they are not practicing what they preach. When the going gets tough, they show themselves to be weak cowards. Some, such as Rockwell, are even worse than hypocritical. Rockwell openly admits that he has *never* preferenced against tyranny. I used to think he was an honorable man. No more! Most socialist humanists have far more honorable behavior than he apparently does.
> She rips into Lew Rockwell, Wendy McElroy, the Center for a Stateless
> Society, Rational Review News, and a bunch of others. Never gets around to
> me. But I felt the barb, anyhow.
Good to this last! A guilty conscience can be very useful.
Actually I purposely pointed out the positive actions that Wendy McElroy and Brad Rodriguez along with Tom Knapp at Rational Review News have taken on their respective websites. But, yes, I think that they can move away from PayPal and I do hope that they found the provided information as beneficial in doing so.
> I haven't dumped Amazon or PayPal and I don't plan to. I love Amazon.
How can you "love Amazon" any longer? Sure I too used to think Amazon was great, but there are certain actions which are of the "make/break" kind. They are simply *unacceptable* and are unforgivable, unless and until the actor admits the error, apologizes and seeks to make reparations in some appropriate manner. If Amazon had simply required the government to get a court to *order them* to terminate the hosting service for WikiLeaks, then they would be clean and I would still have my account there. Even now if they admitted fault and made a substantial restitution payment to WikiLeaks, then they would be showing the right stuff (honor and courage). I would think that under those circumstances most people who left them would then return. I know that I would, because, yes, Amazon has always had excellent services and prices.
> Hate PayPal.
We never liked it much either for some of their repeated practices, but only used it for the convenience of others. We find Xipwire to be every bit as good for transferring (to and from), cheaper and the people to be much more responsive and friendly - real actual people with names and faces!
> And yes, my conscience pricks me for not joining the boycott. I like to live by
> my principles. But the simple, pragmatic point is that I need Amazon and
Claire, since your "conscience pricks me for not joining the boycott", there is a definite reason for this and for everyone when this happens - it is a signal from your background processors that there is a conflict/contradiction taking place between the programming of your emotions (yes, emotions are habits programmed by the mind) and your conscious thoughts/decisions.
However there are no conflicts of *consistent and coherent* principles with reality nor between emotions and intellect - in much the same way that there are no conflicts of interests between rational people. Besides, it is ridiculous for anyone to say that they *need* Amazon and PayPal (in the sense of cannot possibly do without them) when both have been in existence less than 15 years!
> The $30 or $40 they regularly bring in (more around the holidays) is a big
> deal to me. The alternatives Wakfer mentions won't replace them.
How do you know that unless you try! Do you really want to continue to receive funds from people who also do not have sufficient honor and consistency of principle that they too would want to abandon both Amazon and PayPal? Claire, you are really selling your supporters short here and effectively encouraging them to continue ignoring principled action - or at least forgiving them ahead of time for not taking principled action.
> When it comes to alternative payment systems, it's not just the Catch-22 of
> "they won't become viable until people use them and people won't use them
> until they're proven viable."
Okay. It's good to see that you recognize that.
> It's that, one after another, highly promising and highly touted digital money
> or payment systems have fallen due to mismanagement, flawed concepts, or
> the federales.
So it is important to continue to help more viable alternatives come into existence, so long as one does not risk too much (this is where the pluses and minuses of overall strategy are correctly considered - there is no matter of ethical or moral principle involved here).
> (I've got $500 or so in precious metals sitting in an e-gold account I'm no
> longer allowed to access because the feds imposed stupid identity rules on
> them. Anybody want to figure out how to retrieve that money for me, eh?)
What would be wrong with you acceding to the ID requirements in order to retrieve the money and then terminating your account with e-gold? If you will describe the downside, then perhaps a solution can be worked out. Paul has a 30+ year history of finding ways out of such things. We never used e-gold because it seemed to be mainly of value to much wealthier people and we could see no places where we bought anything that would take e-gold.
> Now, I would love to see a business with better customer service and a less
> cozy relationship with the feds compete wildly successfully with PayPal. But
> you know what? In this case, I'm not willing to play King Canute against that
> particular tide.
The metaphor is totally misplaced! The actions of the State are not inevitable and unstoppable like the tide. If one does not buck the State (evade, avoid and undermine it) in every possible manner that does not harm oneself as to make life unbearable or its continuance impossible, then one is not really actively working towards a much freer society. And more alternatives are a prerequisite for more true freedom in the sense of more available actions - something that all people want and that the State is constantly preventing from coming into existence.
> I'll support WikiLeaks and Manning with my words and my donations and ask
> others to do the same. But that's it.
By not doing more to influence others, Claire, you are effectively weakening, rather than multiplying your own efforts.
> Now, I don't know Kitty Antonik Wakfer. She may be a terrific human being. I
> hope she is. Her heart's in the right place.
On the subject of "know[ing]" someone, while I have never met Tom Knapp or Wendy McElroy (for instance) in-person, I have read a significant amount of their online writings and engaged both of them in discussions and therefore quite reasonably consider that I "know" them both. It is not necessary for someone to have been in the same room, shaken hands and exchanged chit-chat to say that s/he "knows" another person, particularly when actually meaningful information sharing rarely takes place that way. In fact, the degree to which one person "knows" another is greatly varied and even many domestic partners of many years length often are surprised by the amount of information they do *not* know about each other.
> But I would ask all the "more pure than thou" freedomistas of the world: Have
> you walked a few years in my shoes?
Paul has been actively walking in his own liberty-seeking shoes for some 35 years and I for more than 10 since joining him, though I was definitely a minimal governmentalist since discovering Ayn Rand in 1961 at age 16. Those who are most vocal on the Internet are not necessarily the ones doing the most anti-State activities. We have not been silent on liberty-promoting/seeking these past 9 years - a web search easily reveals this - and we are quite open about ourselves, including many identifiable photos, in order to enable anyone to determine for him/her (hir) self if we are "terrific human beings" and worth associating with.
The next portion of Claire's response is interesting and the hodge-podge of actions raised need to be addressed if only to analyze and separate them meaningfully(which I may do in a separate response). However they are not relevant to my original article. I will only say I know from Paul that he became fully anti-State in about 1980 after becoming convinced that *each and every* State action is harmful to all humans because it is effectively anti-liberty and anti freedom enlargement. At that point he did some deep thinking about whether and how it was possible to live an ethical existence in current society. (Ethical meaning never acting in such a way as to harm others.) His decision was this was only possible if one went off into some kind of wilderness, where one could avoid all contact with State enforcers, and lived off the land in a totally self-sustaining existence. Otherwise if one had any value exchange contact with those within a State society, one could not avoid some part of the value of that exchange going to support that State (and consequently harm all humans). Since he could not bring himself to live (actually it would hardly be "living" for a science and hi-tech minded person) that way, he chose to then start doing in turn (sometimes all together) all and more of what Claire has listed below. Since I joined him in 2000 together we have done some of those anti-State actions which are easier to action without incurring undue hardship or high potential risk of incarceration.
But the worst problem about Claire's raising of this multitude of diverse anti-State actions is that for most of them there is no alternative at all (ie using the State owned common property, or even using the State money for that matter). Whereas for the action of boycotting various service businesses there are clear alternatives as my article pointed out and provided. It is when there are viable alternatives and yet a so-called anti-State person continues voluntarily to use a pro-State service or to comply with a State edict that my criticism for lack of principle applies.
> Say you're a libertarian or a free-market anarchist. Surely, you object to
> paying taxes - especially for wars of aggression or government handouts.
> Surely you object to having a government ID number. Drivers license? Auto
> registration? You know darned well those are clear violations of your right to
> travel freely.
> So tell me: Do you care enough about your principles to live without all those
> things? Do you refuse to file your 1040? Refuse to use an SSN or get
> government ID? Refuse to make your vehicle "legal" with the government?
> Refuse to send your kids to public school or to comply with your state's
> homeschool curricula requirements? Of course, if you live by your principles
> on that level, it also means you can't open a bank account, can't travel
> internationally (unless you sneak), can't hold a regular job. It means every
> time you drive you'll be watching for cops and taking alternate routes in an
> attempt to avoid them. It means the state might come and take your kids away
> from you. It means you'll be a refusnik in your own society.
> But heck - You believe in living according to principles, right? So what's the
> problem? If you can pat yourself on the back for closing your Amazon
> account and imply that everybody who didn't follow your lead is a hypocrite,
> surely you'll be willing to take your principles all the way, wherever they might
> lead - to prison or penury .. or freedom. Or all of the above.
> Ask me how I know.
> For 15 years, I increasingly lived according to my principles. I did those hard
> things. Went without numbers and ID. Became an exile in my own land. Got
> by with a little help from my friends (and sometimes a lot of help from them).
> And every one of those friends was less "pure" than I; but they should kick my
> ass if I ever have enough nerve to damn them for their lack of purity.
> It takes all kinds. It literally does: Ghosts, Agitators, Moles, and even the
> occasional Cockapoo.
> I no longer live like that. Got tired. Went broke. Became weary of being an
> outcast - weary of knowing I'd have to fight through every little tiny thing that
> others take for granted. I'm older and ready for a little calm and comfort. I
> don't regret one minute of trying to live free. I'm glad I did it. But it didn't make
> the world freer. And for me, that time is done.
> Today I resist taxes by making very little money rather than by saying an
> in-your-face NO. I showed a passport to travel to Panama last year. I comply
> with just about all of the little everyday compliances demanded of modern
> American serfs (though living in a small town, there are blessedly few such
> demands). I contemplate becoming a Cockapoo, though I haven't yet brought
> myself to that point and may never. Today I'm more Agitator than Ghost.
> Anybody who wants to condemn me for that is perfectly welcome to.
> Thing is, even in my most hardcore days, I wasn't as "pure" as some folks. Go
> to the Mental Militia forums and look up the postings of suijurisfreeman if you
> really want to see hardcore. And I defy anybody to find me one, single
> freedomista on this earth who never violates a principle - never pays a sales
> tax for a purchase, lives on property which is neither taxed nor subsidized,
> totally ignores the existence of the state and all its works, drives boldly down
> the highway sans license and registration and doesn't bother to stop when
> the red light flashes in the rear window because to stop would be to obey the
> unjust state. Show me the person who goes through life without a single
> compromise of principle. Show me.
> The closest person I know to that ideal is my friend Joel. And even he
> survives amid compromise.
> And unless you are that perfectly pure person whose life is the epitome of
> principle every moment of every day, then don't go around condemning
> others for failing to take a step that you consider proper and necessary - but
> that also doesn't cause you any huge inconvenience.
This last is false. It is always correct to urge people to take more actions which aim to bring about a totally free self-ordered society without rulers and to chastise them for not seeking and taking alternatives to the supporting of businesses which have taken pro-State actions.
After entering the above comment that was accepted immediately, 4:45pm (local time) January 29th - she has posted at Claire's blog at least once before, Kitty entered short comments at the Rational Review News Digest's notices for both her own article and Claire's.
The next morning, January 30th, Kitty checked Claire's blog comments and saw that just under 4 hours after her own comment, Claire had made a response:
January 29th, 2011 at 8:41 pm
Kitty, I'm glad you can have you say here, but I don't see why you think I
should have contacted you. Did you contact Lew Rockwell, Wendy McElroy, and all
the others before you held them up as bad examples?
On the other hand, I completely agree that it's a good thing to urge people to
take actions that lead toward a free, self-ordered society. I just think that
(taking the case of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning as an example) there can be
multiple ways of doing that. Boycotting Amazon or PayPal is certainly one way.
However, it's a way that shows support but doesn't directly contribute to the
defense of Manning or Assange or the continuation of WikiLeaks. Others might
feel they're doing more by sending money directly to Manning's defense fund or
WikiLeaks. Yet others might prefer to join a protest march or a letter-writing
campaign. To each his own.
You're quite right also that a large part of my post wasn't in any way a direct
answer to you. In fact, in a way, my post wasn't an answer to you at all. Your
article just triggered other thoughts.
Nevertheless, I still perceive you as having said, or at least very strongly
implied, in your original piece that anybody who didn't join you in your one
particular method of support for WikiLeaks was wrong-headed, hypocritical, and
defeatist. I reject both that conclusion and the "my way or the highway"
approach to freedom that I've seen from purist freedomistas so many times - and
still see when I re-read your article.
The tone and content of Claire's response did not really surprise Kitty. In fact she would have been more surprised, though very pleasantly, if Claire actually had shown some indication that she had gone back over what the Kitty had originally written using some analytical thinking - not merely "re-read[ing] your article". Even so Kitty attempted again to reason with Claire and posted that reply just before retiring for the evening, noting that the website response to her comment:
Kitty Antonik Wakfer Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
January 30th, 2011 at 11:13 pm
> Claire Says:
> January 29th, 2011 at 8:41 pm
> Kitty, I'm glad you can have you say here,
But Claire, you have been highly selective in what you are responding to among the *many* items I addressed in your blog entry, actually all of them in one manner or another. You have addressed almost none of what I wrote in reply, not even to acknowledge agreement except weakly in two instances. You didn't even answer the questions, "Claire, were you not equally aghast and disgusted?!" and "How can you "love Amazon" any longer?" and two others. Did I need to state that these were not rhetorical questions? And that is not a rhetorical question either.
This avoidance is what takes place very frequently in online discussions and which I see as highly contributing to miscommunication and very often to dissension. As Paul has written in describing why we insist on response to everything on our own groups/blogs: "Inline response is required because it is the best fully practical method to enable Internet dialog to have the same good manners as is commonly used in face-to-face discourse. Such a good mannered approach includes responding to all questions or points addressed to you (once you have either begun a conversation or have already responded to one with respect to a given person), rather than ignoring the other person. The only exception is a simple statement of the form: "I will no longer respond to you", ideally giving reasons for such a statement."
> but I don't see why you think I
> should have contacted you. Did you contact Lew Rockwell, Wendy
> McElroy,and all the others before you held them up as bad examples?
Claire, this is another example where your logical analysis seems to be incapable of differentiating adequately. The difference is that you were specifically responding directly to something I wrote. Whereas with respect to those you mention, if you recall from my article I was writing in general about the fact that I had found no liberty promoting writers/websites who were not supporting, by their usage, the named corporations (PayPal, Visa and MasterCard) that had specifically caused harm to WikiLeaks. Lew Rockwell, Wendy McElroy and the others mentioned were merely a few examples of some that I read or have read fairly often in the past. I was not doing a critique of a blog entry of any of them, something Paul has done on several occasions and then has always notified the writer.
(BTW An enterprising individual could provide a service of letting writers/activists/promoters/etc. know when they have been mentioned anywhere on the Internet.)
> On the other hand, I completely agree that it's a good thing to urge
> people to take actions that lead toward a free, self-ordered society.
It's more than just "a good thing", It is *imperative* for liberty promoters "to urge people to take actions that lead toward a free, self-ordered society" if the liberty-promoters and those they are trying to influence *really* want "a free, self-ordered society". Otherwise, the "liberty-promoters" are inconsistent in their goals and principles and a self-ordered society will be a *very* long time, if ever, coming into being.
> I just think that
> (taking the case of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning as an example)
> there can be multiple ways of doing that. Boycotting Amazon or PayPal
> is certainly one way. However, it's a way that shows support but
> doesn't directly contribute to the defense of Manning or Assange or
> the continuation of WikiLeaks. Others might feel they're doing more
> by sending money directly to Manning's defense fund or WikiLeaks. Yet
> others might prefer to join a protest march or a letter-writing
> campaign. To each his own.
Mixing ideas up as you have done here (and previously) and disconnecting them from particular principles, I contend, is a cause for your confusion and contributes to even more of the same. Also, keeping straight the points made by another in a written discussion is easier to do if a person responds inline as I did with your original blog entry. (This corresponds to how a verbal in-person discussion would take place.) Boycotting PayPal, Visa and MasterCard is in no manner exclusive of "contribut[ing] to the defense of Manning or Assange or the continuation of WikiLeaks" as I pointed out by way of the alternative money transfer methods. And if one is a true liberty-promoter, one will *not* continue to use private services of corporations that are working with government to destroy WikiLeaks by not allowing their customers' own money to be transferred to WikiLeaks. You have not provided any valid reasoning for how one can be a true liberty-promoter *and* continue to make use of these corporations as long as this is their practice.
"[J]oin[ing] a protest march or a letter-writing campaign" is also *not* exclusive of withdrawing voluntary association with PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and Amazon. Again, if one is a true liberty-promoter, one will *not* continue to use private services of corporations that are *working with* government to destroy WikiLeaks by acceding to government suggestions or hints rather than (ie. PayPal, MasterCard and Visa) requiring the government to get a court to *order them* to refuse to transfer customer money and for Amazon to terminate the hosting service for WikiLeaks. These actions of corporations requiring court actions by government was not done, and, Claire, you have not responded to this very fact. Yes, requiring the "rule of law" within a democratic society is far from the best social arrangement, but it is still far better than a society of rule by the whims and non-legal requirements of individual bureaucrats ("rule by men"). And until we can get a State-less society into existence, it is the best we have and should be required to act as it is supposed to according to the laws and court precedences.
"To each his own" is an easy cliche to repeat but has no application here when addressing true liberty-promotion. One is not promoting liberty when continuing to voluntarily associate with businesses and with individuals - especially government enforcers - who are actively working with/for government in their efforts to destroy WikiLeaks and are promoting/performing the many other physical harm-doing actions of governments world-wide.
> You're quite right also that a large part of my post wasn't in any
> way a direct answer to you. In fact, in a way, my post wasn't an
> answer to you at all. Your article just triggered other thoughts.
Then it would have been more honest to have stated that right off - that my article "just triggered other thoughts". However, you have not been consistent in your thinking and that was a major portion of my reply, again to which you have not responded.
> Nevertheless, I still perceive you as having said, or at least very
> strongly implied, in your original piece that anybody who didn't join
> you in your /one particular method of support/ for WikiLeaks was
> wrong-headed, hypocritical, and defeatist. I reject both that
> conclusion and the "my way or the highway" approach to freedom that
> I've seen from purist freedomistas so many times - and
> still see when I re-read your article.
At no time in my article did I reject or disparage "letter writing campaigns" and/or "street march[es]", but I have written other places - http://selfsip.org/focus/protestsnotenough.html - that and why these are not enough. It was also obvious in my recent article that financial support of WikiLeaks *is* desirable or else I would not have worked for several days to provide information on money transfer alternatives that had not refused to relay to WikiLeaks. (BTW I have taken part in several letter campaigns for Bradley Manning and have monetarily supported his defense fund via echecks - as well as that of other war resistors previously by PayPal.)
Your metaphor - "my way or the highway" - is totally inappropriate in this situation, as is so often the case when writers/speakers use metaphors. That metaphor is *only* appropriate when the speaker/writer is on hir own property and referring to actions taking place on hir property; s/he has the entitlement to set the rules for actions taking place on hir property and if such rules are not acceded to then it's "the highway" (the exit to hir property) for the action-taker. It is this kind of analysis of statements/analogies/metaphors that is truly needed (and so often missing) by liberty-seekers and promoters (and all writers, for that matter).
Of course you can state your "reject[ion]", but without clearly stated *reasons* for why my statements and conclusions are wrong (which pointed out where and why yours in your original blog entry are in error), you are simply asserting your continued defiance of using reasoned thinking. This does you no longterm benefit and is a disservice to your readers.
Use of cutesy terms like "purist freedomistas" does the user no real longterm benefit, nor the reader/listener, since it really conveys nothing of substance for the discussion at hand or any other. You seem to be implying via it that a person who is consistently principled (?"purist"?, though I previously pointed out your error in using this word) in hir promotion of "freedom" - I would say liberty, absence of physical constraint by another with regard to any available action, is the more appropriate term (see Paul's discussion of the differences between freedom and liberty at: http://selfsip.org/solutions/socialcontract_annotations/freedom.html) - is some sort of tyrant/dictator. But a tyrant or dictator employs enforcers to initiate physical force on others or actually uses it hirself. I think you very well realize that I cannot do anything but persuade in writing or speaking others to change their behavior - I cannot initiate physical force on readers/listeners to abandon PayPal, Visa, MasterCard or Amazon for any reason. I am not a *ruler* (the State). All I can do, and encourage others in the same situation, is to not voluntarily associate with those who are actively working against liberty and even those who are not truly promoting liberty to the extent that these latter are not doing so.
Therefore, what is the purpose of using phrases - ie. "purist freedomistas" - that bring up images of initiators of physical force? It surely cannot be for improving and expanding discussion of the principles and methods by which a self-ordered society may be attained.
Claire I seriously encourage you to carefully read again my original article and respond to it one paragraph at a time in an inline manner. Take each sentence separately and be sure that you understand what I have written. (I do not use words carelessly. Paul is very careful about that himself, and since we edit each other's writings he goes over mine with as much care as he does his own writings.)
If there is something I have written that does not "sit right" with you, stop and think about it. Write it down and then state what you think is in error and why. I urge you to repeat this for the entire original article and then for the reply I made above to your blog entry.
If, during such critical analysis of my writing, you find what you think is a logical error, make yourself understandable in presenting it and I conclude that you are correct, be assured that I (and Paul) will publicly state that and will revise our thoughts and actions accordingly. Neither one of us is wedded to our current decisions in the sense that we will refuse to change our behavior if shown that our thinking in that area is truly in error. (I was very sure up until about 11 years ago that a minimal government - armed forces, police and courts - was essential for an orderly society but I came to realize that this is not true.)
At the same time, note in writing where you agree with me. By doing both of these we - and those reading the exchange - clearly know where we both stand and why. In the process we both learn about each other - "come to know" each other - and therefore gain.
I write the above as a proposal, Claire, not as some sort of debating challenge. I do not debate; I am not interested in scoring points. I read, discuss and raise points to any liberty-promoting writer/activist in the hopes of improving the thinking and behavior of that person (or myself, if I am wrong), *only* for the purpose of making true movement towards attaining a self-ordered society of total liberty - that and nothing more.
Lastly, I will be putting this entire exchange at the Self-Sovereign Individual Project's Dialogues Miscellaneous Discourses on Social Order Section - http://selfsip.org/dialogues/misc/index.html - since it has potential benefit to others by being read in the future.
The fact that Claire had put a moderation hold on Kitty's comment did not come as a great surprise. It was clear to both her and Paul that Claire was not comfortable with letting Kitty's remarks be visible at her blog for any lengthy period without getting in her own comments to them. She had whipped back a reply in 4 hours to Kitty's first comment, and its content indicates that she had done no analysis of what Kitty had written in them nor of the original article. She addressed very little and then only in the most off-hand manner. So Kitty held no expectations that this reply of hers would stimulate anything more in and from Claire, but there was always some hope.... and maybe too, some readers would do the analytical thinking that is all too lacking in many bloggers.
Upon looking at her computer about 10AM the next morning, Monday, January 31st, Kitty saw that her comment was out of moderation. Unfortunately, the response to it from Claire was another avoidance of substance:
January 31st, 2011 at 6:28 am
Kitty Antonik Wakfer wrote: "But Claire, you have been highly selective in what
you are responding to among the *many* items I addressed in your blog entry,
actually all of them in one manner or another. You have addressed almost none of
what I wrote in reply, not even to acknowledge agreement except weakly in two
instances. You didn't even answer the questions, "Claire, were you not equally
aghast and disgusted?!" and "How can you "love Amazon" any longer?" and two
others. Did I need to state that these were not rhetorical questions? And that
is not a rhetorical question either."
Well, yes, Kitty. It's true that I didn't answer every point you made. Here are
my reasons: I don't have either the time or inclination to get into a long
discussion; People who read what both of us have already written can draw their
own conclusions from what we've already said; I don't feel that I owe you
anything (including time or answers); and above all, it appears to me that you
so completely missed the point of what I originally wrote that I can't see how
it would help to engage in the lengthy debate you appear to want - despite your
disclaimer that you don't debate.
Liberty-promoting/libertarian writers/bloggers come in all variations of willingness to develop and use critical thinking in their presentation of arguments for a self-ordered society (if they even use this phrasing at all) and in their consistency of applying to their everyday lives, the underlying principles needed for such a society to both come about and be maintained. Some actually try to do so on a regular basis - I put myself in that category even if I do at times have it pointed out to me that I've slipped up. Paul had a recent online discussion with Tom Knapp, who had replied to Paul's article, "Libertarians Need less Strategy -- and more Principle!" While Tom does not always agree with Paul, he often does come to agree after some thought on his part and reasoned respectful dialogue between them. Unfortunately consistent critical thinking and discussion for the purpose of discovering the truths of reality is often missing with certain other writers/bloggers who still think that they are adamant in their desire for a "free" society. These individuals, Claire Wolfe is one and Stephan Kinsella another, not only are rigidly inconsistent in their thinking they are also frequent users of terms and phrases intended to deride a person who has pointed out errors in that thinking. (Kinsella "dislikes" boycotts in general and has illogically written that "Amazon is just a victim of the state" in regard to its cancellation of webhosting services to WikiLeaks.)
Claire likely does not see her enthusiasm for boycotting flying but her unwillingness to boycott Amazon and PayPal (and presumably Visa and Mastercard, though she never mentioned my inclusion of these when she attempted to rebut my argument) as inconsistent:
October 27th, 2010 at 11:28 am
Mass boycot[sic] of the airlines is the only answer. No one flies. Period. Like the sort
of things done during the Civil Rights era.
When the airlines see their planes sitting empty, day after day, they will beg TSA
to stop. I've noticed the cops seem to have a special 'grudge' against women these days.
Just find another way to travel.
--------end of comment------------
Claire urges her readers to "just find another way to travel" and apparently she does so rather than fly commercially - though this is in question since she referred to "show[ing] a passport to travel to Panama last year" and I doubt very much that she drove that distance or went by boat. Maybe she has use of a private plane....However she was adamant in her refusal to "find another way to [obtain products online or transfer money]" or to encourage others to do so, despite Amazon and PayPal (plus Visa and MasterCard) being fully cooperative with the State in trying to harm WikiLeaks, an organization whose continuance is highly harmful to the continuance of governments (at least in their present nefarious form) throughout the world. Whereas the situation with flying is mostly a source of aggravation and a waste of traveller time and not flying is not going to effect any great reduction or termination of overall State power and methods.
I have concluded that Claire Wolfe is very much like most social workers and very many physicians, both of whom do not really want to see their clients/patients successfully solve their social/physical problems. For if those clients/patients were to succeed, they would no longer have any use for the social workers and/or physicians - except the latter for the very infrequent physical trauma requiring expert medical knowledge. Claire Wolfe has been earning a modest living (by her own description in this online exchange) writing articles, books and blogging on subjects related to political activism and surviving the State - here is a brief listing of these. I do not find any reference to a career or productive work field, only this type of writing. While it is true that there is an overwhelming need for a self-ordered society in order for each individual to be able to truly maximize hir lifetime happiness, writers who are not critical thinkers themselves and therefore do not encourage that in their readers, resemble the social worker who seeks to keep hir clients always in a dependency position, seeking hir advice - ie seeking merely more fan/followers.
How does one get the message across to liberty-promoting writers that the ability to critically analyze is essential for discerning the make/break issues (those of critical and great importance) - of which WikiLeaks is one - and understanding that principles really do matter and are affordable? The only answer I know is to keep on writing original articles making these points and also commenting when and where there appears to be some likelihood that readers, if not the writers, will get the message - and act on it.
Comment by Paul on Claire's last short response:
> Well, yes, Kitty. It's true that I didn't answer every point you made. Here are
> my reasons:
> I don't have either the time or inclination to get into a long discussion;
The only rational purpose of writing is to expound truths, influence readers to agree that one's statements are true and to attract rational conversants in order to discover additional truths or have one's own statements rebutted, verified and/or described in different, perhaps better, phrases and examples. Therefore a writer should logically not write on something (and specifically not enter into a dialogue, which Claire did as a direct result of her initial blog entry criticizing Kitty's article) unless s/he does have both the inclination and the time to continue with any resulting discussions for as long as necessary to answer all cordially posed, on-topic information-containing replies of all hir respondents or to give logical (or even emergency arising) reasons for not doing so. To not be so prepared is to be irresponsible to oneself (one's purpose in writing), one's correspondents and one's readership.
> People who read what both of us have already written can draw their
> own conclusions from what we've already said;
While this is true and will undoubtedly happen, any responsible writer will not want to leave unanswered questions and ambiguities for readers, but instead will want to support hir own views of the truth as strongly as possible in order to aid and guide the conclusions of hir readers.
> I don't feel that I owe you anything (including time or answers);
No, Claire does not *owe* anything to Kitty except perhaps the common courtesy which should be extended to anyone with whom one initiates a discussion.
One of the problems with Internet discussions (actually any kind of verbal exchange where the correspondents are not physically near each other) seems to be that corespondents generally appear to highly disregard the norms of one-to-one in-person discussion. In such in-person discussion, very few people would ever think of totally disregarding a question that is asked of them by their interlocutor and such people who do that are quickly called on it or ignored for the purpose of further discussion. Since such partial responding appears to have become the Internet discussion norm, one can only conclude that the purpose of such lack of response is to evade responding to points which one does not agree with (or simply dislikes the conclusion) but for which one has no logical refuting response. The remote and time-delayed response form of the Internet simply enables people to more easily "get away with" such evasion and so many people take the opportunity to irresponsibly practice such evasion tactics.
> and above all, it appears to me that you
> so completely missed the point of what I originally wrote that I can't see how
> it would help to engage in the lengthy debate you appear to want - despite your
> disclaimer that you don't debate.
Here Claire attempts to "put over" two tactical ploys. First, after responding to little of the *substance* of either Kitty's original article or her detailed point-by-point reply, Claire now contends (without any description or examples) that Kitty "completely missed the point of what I [Claire] originally wrote". Second, Clair refuses to even acknowledge Kitty's distinction between a discussion and a debate.
Kitty has taken the only reasonable course of action by not continuing to converse any longer with such as Claire Wolfe. Claire was given the chance to show that she could be a responsible discussant and has failed the trial. Unless we see clear evidence of a positive change, I doubt that either I or Kitty will bother with her irresponsible writing and behaving again.