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Re: Los Angeles Times article on Helsingius and anon.penet.fi

>Either that, or the fear that authorities are no longer necessary unless
>they can point to something dangerous that they're protecting the rest of us
>from - with the plausibility of the Godless Communist Threat waning, it
>becomes necessary for drug sellers and people with fringe politics to appear
>more threatening.

I don't think the same case can be made for the drug sellers and
militias providing a political justification for the military
industrial complex in the same way the USSR did. It is
true that the USSR was always a more credible threat to hawks
in the pentagon than to people who analysed the situation, many 
of whom realised that the USSR was facing a terminal crisis
before Afghanistan. Even so I don't think that the drug or millitia
threat could every be hyped to a level which would justify huge
subsidies to Boeing, McDonnald-Douglas, Ratheon etc.

>Can you
>imagine the military spontaneously downsizing, or failing to oppose
>reductions in force? 

Its interesting that none of the candidates in the current election
are willing to address the question of whether the US really needs
to maintain the military budget at its cold war levels even after
the alledged threat has collapsed. Indeed the Republicans are 
suggesting spending several billion on building an anti-ballistic
missile system when none of the alledged "threats" has a ballistic
missile with appropriate range in the first place. The likely nuclear
scenario is for someone to smuggle a bomb in in a truck.

>While domestic terrorist events may bring a sharper focus to discussions of
>the merits and costs of politically motivated violence, your fantasy that it
>will somehow bring about a change in someone's substantive politics is

US contributions to NORAID dropped by a half in the wake of the 
Lockerbie incident. Its difficult to make any conclusions about the
current drop in funding since they might be due to the peace process,
domestic terrorism or both. 

>Further, your notion that "terrorism" has somehow been limited to "far-off
>irredentist struggles" of concern only to expatriates is ridiculous. Have
>you not noticed the arson, bombings, and shootings at abortion clinics in
>the US? Or the history of violence on the (neo-) left, e.g., the Weather
>Underground, etc.? Or the history of the KKK and race-motivated
>lynchings/beatings? Or the Unabomber? 

With the possible exception of the activities of the KKK I don't think
you make your case. The KKK explicitly persued a strategy of terror 
to create a political effect through intimidation. The Unabomber was
probably just a crank for whom the political ideology was merely an
excuse to indulge in psychopathic behaviour, in the absence of a
political motive another would have been found. While this supports
my general comment that terrorism in general is caused by psychopaths 
rather than people with legitimate grievances I don't think
that the Unabomber fits the normal profile. He was a single individual,
not a group. 

>Isn't it wonderful that "one" unavoidably "reaches conclusions" which
>eliminate moral and political arguments you find uninteresting? 

I don't find the arguments themselves uninteresting. I just find the
mode of argument superficial. If people are arguing in terms of "rights"
but cannot justify why something is a "right" then they are simply
promoting their conclusions to axioms, its begging the question. The
argument is uninteresting because it is not an argument, it is merely
a restatement of the original claim. Arguing the right to bear arms on
the basis of the right to bear arms is not an interesting "argument".

>Boy, if we could just figure out the right combination of procedural rules,
>we could simply abandon all of this problematic "rights" stuff. Wouldn't
>that be a lot simpler? These pesky "rights" keep getting in the way of
>legitimate government needs. Shit.

If you read Mill's "On Liberty" you will find that he is very clear that
rights are the consequence of a social/governmental process and that it
is not possible to talk of "rights" outside the context of laws. 

The difficult philosophical questions of "rights" is recognising when
there is a conflict between rights and deciding which right to
favour over another. I assert that every child has a right to food,
shelter and education, I do so by recourse to a Utilitarian argument
but I could equally well ground my argument in terms of 
Contractarianism or use a Kantian argument. Now if you assert that
the right of the individual to opt out of society and not pay taxes
is paramount this creates a problem, how is the conflict between 
the right I propose and the right you propose resolved?

>Don't forget that it's necessary to adopt an exaggerated version of your own
>position, such that you can "compromise" your way to "agreeing" on exactly
>what you wanted in the first place.

No, that is not necessarily the case. It is usualy usefull to set out
a bargaining position that is maximalist and to avoid being more
reasonable than the opposition. But to stake out a completely extreeme 
position means that the conclusion may be reached that agreement is not 
possible at all and that consequently there is no purpose in negotiation.

In order for the pro/anti-abortion camps to become entrenched in the
political process in the manner they have it was necessary for the
anti-abortion people to deliver the Republican party a block vote of 
about 2 million voters through the Christian Coalition. Its only
possible to take an absolutist position if you can deliver a well 
defined voting block. The Internet cannot currently deliver such a