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“Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here.
Here goes a new year of columns for EVC — and a heartfelt Thank You goes out to Skyler Collins, and all who make EVC what it is, giving me an opportunity to participate.
In this essay we will talk more about Ender’s Game, an extremely significant novel and a somewhat less impactful, but long awaited, movie. In particular we will look at Ender as a creature of the state, but more critically, as an individual.
We will continue the series on logic fallacies by looking at the appeal to authority, and we will use that fallacy to segue into a real life episode that was engendered in large part by this logic fallacy. We will examine the state and Federal siege, onslaught, and massacre at Waco, Texas.
We briefly touched on my viewing of the movie, Ender’s Game, in my last column. And if you are an Orson Scott Card fan, or a fan of the novel or tetralogy, you may find much of interest in the movie. I really liked the implementation of the gravity-free battle simulation room. But, on the other hand, the film producers didn’t make much of the development of Ender and his team through their training time. This disappointment pretty much encapsulates my comparison of the movie to the book. If you have only seen the motion picture, and had your curiosity piqued in some way, you definitely owe it to yourself to experience the book. And that’s a good word for the comparison — you see the movie but you experience the book.
Of course, the flick and the book, seen in retrospect, preserve an antiquated paradigm — one that became obsolete after World War I — life is a game played by jet jockeys. War and survival is made up of a series of aerial or interspace dogfights. A lot of this view stems from arcade games and probably the fact that the earliest simulators were flight simulators and Luke Skywalker. Life is far more complex.
But, as in any really good book, there is a moral to the story, and in the case of Card’s tale it is far more than a nearly lost paradigm. The crucial elements circle around the criticality of Ender (Andrew Wiggins) and the development of his personality. Even though his very existence is owed to the central planning of the state — he is the very rare instance of a third child in a family because the state was using his parents for genetic engineering. Then he is committed as a trainee of the state and removed from his family, and lastly he is manipulated into perpetrating genocide on behalf of the state. The story is that of a creature of the state, who nevertheless becomes a truly unique individual. He is the embodiment of the failure of central planning as well as the exemplar of unforeseen consequences.
Appeal to Authority
We can see in Ender’s Game that one of the major techniques of the deceit inflicted on Ender is the logic fallacy of appeal to authority. There is always, in a top down organization, the presence of this fallacy. There is always an assumption that there is an expertocracy and that the mere passage of time and rote instruction will cause this organization to evolve to meet pre-conceived, centrally planned objectives.
Simply put, the appeal to authority is an avoidance of evidence by saying the evidence is known (and well understood) by someone other than the recipient of the instruction. A very innocuous example would be, “The inspection certificate for this elevator may be seen in the Building Superintendent’s office.” Someone in authority, and who maybe is also responsible and accountable, has your back on this. The entire idea of responsibility and accountability, and how organizations finesse it, is a variation on the appeal to authority.
I once heard a long-forgotten comedian wonder, “Have you ever thought that the pilot of your plane may be as big a screw-up as you are?” That’s a dagger in the heart of the appeal to authority, eh? Now try to not think about this next time you are flying somewhere.
Of course, the most egregious appeal to authority is practiced, with industrial strength, by the Federal Government. Where de facto, everyone is considered guilty of pre-crime subject to violence, threat of violence, incarceration, threat of incarceration, confiscation, threat of confiscation, death at the point of a gun, and threat of death at the point of a gun by the forces of authority.
Unnatural laws, which I call legislation (to distinguish them from natural law), civilized law, or constitutional law, are the very epitome of the appeal to authority fallacy. “Because I said so,” is the parental version of this authoritarian fail.
Do not let anybody get away with this in your life, please!
As usual Lysander Spooner has something for us in this regard:
The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves; a contest, that—however bloody—can, in the nature of things, never be finally closed, so long as man refuses to be a slave.
One of the great tragedies of our age occurred because of the unexamined forfeiture of reason before authority. I and some other good voluntaryists recently had a knockdown and drag out argument on Facebook with some libertarians, who have not come to grips with the anathema of the state, about the legitimacy of the government’s behavior in the case of the Waco siege, the 21st anniversary of the conclusion of which will happen this April. I don’t pretend in any way to be an expert on this event.
The problem is that those who have a bias against Koresh and a bias for authority will never allow the fulcrum of the debate to shift to the question of whether the state behaved legitimately. The severely tragic outcome suggests that they did not. Surely there must be some lessons learned here.
The folks who argue the side of law enforcement (and I use the term advisedly) keep repeating, like parrots, the term “lawful warrant.” Never once can we address the legitimacy of the warrant. How in a living space protected by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution can we have a warrant based on a charge of “accumulation of weapons for rebellious purposes?” First of all an accumulation of weapons is absolutely protected by the Constitution of the USA. Second of all “for —— purposes” is that strained construction of legislation that establishes a motive before the fact, it is nullification of the presumption of innocence until found guilty by due process.
Those who want to bury Waco in the same sand where their head is buried want to dismiss any argument of right and wrong based on the probability that some negligent law officer got some trumped up warrant from a negligent judge. And there were other trumped up charges added to the mindblowingly egregious example in the above paragraph.
Please! Please note that I am not defending Koresh and his cult. I have no idea of their guilt or innocence since none of them lived to have a fair trial. But has anyone here thought about how easy it is for law enforcement to say they have a warrant? Another thing I wonder about, if there is to be true equal treatment before the law, shouldn’t suspects have the right to shop judges to get a warrant requiring the law enforcement agency to show actual cause?
I am not a lawyer, but I play one in my columns. The truth, to me, is that our entire monopolistic state justice system is based on one or more logic fallacies which have one goal in mind, the illegitimate elevation and preservation of the process over the interests of the people.
I hope that I have given some things to think about as you continue to cultivate your voluntaryist outlook. One of the things that has happened with me is that the movie, Ender’s Game, caused me to rethink the far more estimable novel as a voluntaryist. I had not really solidified my pursuit of a self-grounded life when I encountered the book years ago. And this was despite the obvious appearance of the film as a pale pastel sketch compared to the very vivid, complex book. And then, the consideration of the appeal to authority served as a fine bridge from Ender’s story to the real life Waco atrocity. You must come to grips with the degree to which logic fallacy is imposed upon you. It is truly propaganda of the most deliberate sort. Further you must review history with an understanding of how fallacies are used to cloud your development as an individual.
Read more from “Finding the Challenges”: