Free Talk Live Interviews Sam Seder

Free Talk Live‘s recent interview with Sam Seder of the Majority Report is somewhat frustrating but still enjoyable entertainment. It was frustrating because the FTL hosts were not able to strongly challenge many of Seder’s rebuttals to the non-aggression principle.

At around the 30-minute mark, for example, I would agree with the point Seder (I think) is getting at that only a single code of social conduct can be enforced within a single territory (because of the monopolistic nature of force). However, I would disagree with Seder that we necessarily give up liberty by joining civil society. The purpose of a proper civil society is to better secure people’s liberty in extending social cooperation.

The hosts of Free Talk Live made the mistake of proposing to organize society around the “simple rule” to bar the initiation of force. Seder then questioned why that rule should stand. He played on the idea that other societies do not bar the initiation of force. It is not a universal rule, contrary to what one of the hosts had said, so Seder concluded that it is a subjective opinion that aggression should be prohibited. If the rules that are enforced have no objective basis and only a single code of social conduct can be enforced within a political territory, by Seder’s logic, the aggregated opinion of the members of that political territory should be responsible making those rules. Seder’s false dichotomy, that the proper use of force is either universal or it is subjective, went unchallenged. If anything, Seder’s point that some societies approve of aggression gives us reason to be cautious of conceding to whatever kinds of rules that democratic majorities enact.

A better approach for the FTL hosts would have been to explain that individuals do not have the right to initiate force, so they cannot individually or collectively delegate a non-existent right to a government or anybody else. Has anyone else had success using a different approach?

Fundamentally, Seder is a statist, believing that the proper standard for judging the merit of a policy is its aggregated effect on the members within the given political body, regardless of the consequences on the lives and freedoms of the individuals within that aggregate. At one point, he calls it regrettable but necessary that tax protesters would have to jailed for not providing financial support for war-making. While I guess that makes his “liberal totalitarianism” more amenable than a brute authoritarianism, his standard does not appreciate that it still has to be decided what information is relevant to include in the political calculation and what the algorithm for making trade-offs between competing values should consist of. The people making those decisions will be the masterminds of the political class, and you can guess in whose interest their decisions will be made.