Re: [sl4] Re: Property rights

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Tue Jul 08 2008 - 10:06:44 MDT

Stathis writes

>> In America, we saw exactly what happens in large cities filled with
>> recent immigrants (e.g. Chicago in the 1920s) or with people whose
>> small town experiences of democracy were insufficient to meet the challenges
>> of urban life. It became very easy for criminal elements to
>> infiltrate the local law establishment, and even coerce newspapers
>> and others into seeing things their way. And today in Los Angeles,
>> if you want to really know who controls a neighborhood or controls
>> the streets, very often it's by no means the police or any lawfully set up
>> organization.
> I agree with this appraisal, but I think the problem is at bottom due
> to human psychology rather than particular cultural and historical
> factors. Utopian projects will fail because they don't take into
> account the fact that people are greedy, lazy, dishonest and
> inconsiderate. Few people *want* to be this way, but they can't help
> it. Like drug addiction, they know that it's bad and they keep doing
> it anyway because it makes them feel good.

Not only that, but it's in their *immediate* (if not long term)
interest to continue to "be practical". If everyone else around
you is taking bribes, and those who do not get beaten up, it's
just easier to go with the flow. My own martyrdom capacity,
for example, is extremely limited.

> but if they could feel just as good doing something that in their
> ideal world they consider positive, why wouldn't they? There
> is huge pressure for people to be good even now that being
> good is often difficult and being bad can be so tempting: how
> much greater would the pressure be if it were just a
> trivial exercise to make good more attractive than bad?

But take even very honest, good, and idealistic politicians
today in some country with a long history. (Italian history
is twice as long as American history, for one example, and
New York history is twice as long as California history.)
Those new politicians *must* learn the system, *must*
learn to compromise their principles, and *must* learn
to exchange morally dubious favors.

> To take your particular example, how would the gangsters have managed
> to corrupt police if the police had been able to render themselves
> immune any temptations they might have been offered?

And just how would your ordinary Chicago cop in 1926 have done
that? Take a magic pill? Be brave and not worry about repercussions?
Suddenly find the allure of a few hundred to a few thousand completely

> How would they have been able to keep the local population cowered
> if cowering could be turned off at will?

If I had a pill that would turn off my cowering in such a situation,
I would not take it, for very likely the result would be my own death
or maiming.

> How would they have been able to recruit employees, or indeed
> how would they have got into the profession themselves, if it were
> possible to *just decide* to derive as much satisfaction from doing
> something more socially acceptable and less risky?

What do you have in mind?


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