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Re: The problem of playing politics with our constitutional rights

> From: David H Dennis <[email protected]>
> I must confess that I'm wondering what Seth Finkelstein, Pro-Government Warrior,

	I resent this part of the description, but let it pass.

> able to jump over 50 Libertarians in a single bound, 

	able to out-flame 5 or so Libertarians in a single thread is
more accurate.

> thinks of all this. Crypto restrictions are natural to oppose in a
> Libertarian world, due to our fundamental distrust of government.
> Where do they fit in a Liberal one?

	I'm *solidly* against such restrictions. Hey, if *Lizard* recommends
me here, you've got to believe it :-).
	Here's a quick political lesson: Being a Liberal in the US
means very roughly ONLY that one believes that the government has some
role to play in moderating the excesses of the market. It does not
particularly *make* you a civil-libertarian. However, because Liberals
think about general social power and the abuse of it, they are very
often led to the civil-libertarian view. In the opposite direction,
sometimes they just want power themselves. It is with great regret
that I must debunk the myth that being a Liberal makes you a saint (it
only seems that way in comparison to everyone else around ... :-) )
	It also helps that Liberals are *predominantly* drawn from
ranks of those who are the targets of both public and private
abuses. So they often both favor government action against business
abuse, and strong civil-liberties guarantees to keep government power
in check. It is *possible* to be a Conservative civil-libertarian, but
this much lesser group, and has in the past decades very much been purged
from the Republican party by the theocrats and hence from the national scene.
	The net result of this process: Not all Liberals
are civil-libertarians, but civil-libertarian opposition will almost
always come from Liberals (read this sentence several times until you
understand it. I get so tired of people attacking the strawman that
all Liberals are civil-libertarians, nyah, nyah, look at e.g. Dellums).
	Now, when you comprehend that, we go on to the next lesson:
The Fundamental Problem in American politics is GET-A-MAJORITY. It
is not "be a constitutional scholar", it is not "construct and defend
the most rigorous argument for your position in terms of axiomatics from
first principles", it isn't even "know what you're talking about". It is
	Old joke: After a campaign rally, a supporter told Adelai Stevenson
"Mr. Stevenson, you've got every thinking man's vote!". He replied
"That's not enough, I need a majority."
	Semi-digression: Business is "make a profit" - if you do that
by throwing widows and orphans out into the street, it still works.
What matters is how many dollars are made, not people affected. This
is why Liberals view a population-based civil system as a necessary
constraint on the imperatives of capital. Because ultimately we're
people, not dollars.
	The goal of GET-A-MAJORITY is in great tension with
intrinsically minority-rights, anti-majoritarian concepts such as
civil-liberties. Any politician ignores this at great peril. Thus,
Liberals who don't have to be elected can be a lot more vocal
civil-liberties supporters than those who need to GET-A-MAJORITY.
Thus even Liberal, civil-libertarian politicians may *vote against
their principles* (do I hear gasps from the peanut gallery) because
of electoral imperatives.
	Corollary 1: Detonating a nuclear device in DC will not solve this
problem. The surviving government will just have a very good excuse for
	Corollary 2: Repeated Libertarian rantings won't solve it either.

	Now, personally, you're probably not going to be seeing me on
the crypto-barricades in the future. Is it because I'm a
Big-Brother-loving government-worshipper? No, not at all. I was
thinking today about what I could do on the issue. And I came to the
conclusion that I'm basically so crippled and exhausted as a
net.activist that I shouldn't do more (general statement, but set off
by this particular topic). I can't stand a huge number of the people
I'd have to work with, and I just don't have the patience and energy
to keep pounding grains of understanding into them, it's like filling
a sandbag with tweezers. But don't you dare assume support for crypto
restrictions from that, it's rather coming to the point of being
completely fed up with the drain of electronic activism on my life.

Seth Finkelstein
[email protected]