So I responded to a debate about “American law in the time of Suicide Killer Fascists”

by | Feb 22, 2006 | Stress Blog | 2 comments

This comes from a private discussion board I hang out on. It’s interesting to see how sometimes they have the sheen of Libertarians but for the most part they mean, ‘stop the drug war, but go ahead and kill middle eastern folks. They hate us after all’. Anywho, So I haven’t had any coffee yet and I see this as a new topic being posted. *sigh*

The poster is talking about the new book, “Preemption, A Knife that Cuts Both Ways” by Alan Dershowitz. The big point is that a ‘leftie’ is finally seeing the light. *sigh* I haven’t had breakfast either.

My response for what it’s worth:

Most likely, I will never post more than this on this thread. But it is something I have considered since waaayy before people were concerned about WMD or ‘terrorists’ so my opinion is not shaded by that.

There is an intersection of the amount of effort required to affect damage and the amount of damage that can be caused. That is to say for every X amount of damage you would like to create, there is a prerequisite Y amount of effort. Pretty simple. However this axis itself is on sliding scale and has been on such ever since we learned how to create weapons from stick and bone.

Ten thousand years ago, one person, even with the most highly developed atlatl (a cool weapon btw) could only do so much damage to his surroundings and other people. He was limited by physical ability, aggregation of targets, and resources required to find materials for and build such weapons. There was an easy equilibrium here in maintaining normal relations here.

As technology advanced over time, through copper, bronze, and iron. The damage a single person could inflict grew. The weapons were now more deadly. The part that most people forget is that they also lasted longer as well. Resource collection on the front end was taken care of. You and your buddies could take a bunch of spears, swords, and armor a thousand miles away and be just as effective as you had been at home even though you were away from your forge. This was the beginning of modern warfare, IMHO. It was now easier to carry damage elsewhere.

Enter chemicals, refining, steel, and special relativity. Now the damage/effort axis shifted exponentially. Not just because you could harvest the resources of an entire nation to fold into a weapon, but because the weapons themselves became so easy to use and the effort required (pressing a button at ‘kill time’) was so minimal compared to the amount of damage caused. A second factor during this age was the shift of the man to man kill-zone. You no longer had to actually see what you had done. Even for infantry the lethal perimeter grew to well over 100yds. While trench warfare and hand to hand combat was still needed. It was now used as a fallback or failed situation retrieval. “If it comes down to hand to hand, something went wrong.”

—–slight soapbox detour—–

Fundamentally this third stage is where I believe modern society has sown the seeds of its own destruction. Once you are removed from observing the details of damage you have wrought or have no contact or knowledge of the life you just eradicated, you cease to empathize as much. I would postulate that once you get past the seven degrees of separation or so where you don’t know the names or faces of the people you are destroying and better yet, will never see the consequences of said destruction, there is little incentive to care. Especially if the people around you are in the same boat and synergistically have no need to care as well. I see this in corporate culture and CEOS all the time. I would wager it applies to most politicians as well.

—–end soapbox detour—–

All that being said, the effort to damage ratio sliding scale has shifted so fundamentally now that it is not inconceivable at this point in time (I did not say probable… yet) that an individual’s actions could bring about the fall of modern civilization. A lone man or woman. And please, NO, I do not mean some terrorist or freedom fighter jackasss of today. Nothing that has been done to date by people of this genre even compares to what is possible.

We are reaching a point in time where nukes will seem ‘quaint’. Imagine one person or a small group with the ability to shift an asteroid or comet to hit the earth. This is just physics. The damage would be much more than anything anyone can imagine depending upon the size. How about one lone researcher for the CDC et al, hoping a plane to Bangkok, New York, LA, Paris, London, etc… carrying and spreading multiple lethal organisms. Not anthrax mind you. Mundane. I mean the things that we grow (and say we don’t) out at Dugway. Multiple vectors, multiple organisms… No one can be prepared for that.

Those are just examples. I’m sure if you reach, you can dream up more. The point is they’re possible if not probable at this time. And no amount of security is absolute. Sorry. You can pretend, but I do this for a living, and security is as all about perception. There is no such thing as being 100% secure. No matter how much effort you throw at it.

Now, back to the question at hand. Where do the natural rights of an individual reside when technology has taken us to a place where individuals can disrupt civilization itself? And I’m not just waxing patriotic about the modern concept of the nation-state here. I’m talking about the growing crops and surviving level of civilization.

It seem to me through observation the as this effort/damage axis slides to the right, there is also a declining value of absolute individual freedom. After all the nation-state must protect itself (it’s what it does best) as well as civilization. Through the course of my few years I’ve noticed or felt the slow ticking down of freedom and individual rights. To those that would argue we must suffer during this whatever-war and then it’ll cycle back the other way I would argue that we are in an unprecedented era of technology that is only moving in one direction.

My personal prediction is that Orwellian states are inevitable moving forward. I do not relish this, but frankly I do believe that’s where we’re headed. I also think that we should go kicking and screaming giving up our rights. I am an individualist and libertarian minarchist if you need to call me something. I believe in the individual and natural rights and that all law and governments should be based on this. Governments should serve their constituents and not the other way around. That being said, I think the future is bleak for human rights, and individual liberty. But I will keep fighting, if only so that I can tell my children someday what it was really like.

Sorry, I really shouldn