Assassination Politics Part 6

A frequent initial belief among people who have recently heard of my "assassination politics" idea is the fear that this system will somehow be "out of control": It would end up causing the death of ordinary, "undeserving" people.

This system, however, will not be without its own kind of "control." Not a centralized control, decideable by a single individual, but a decentralized system in which everyone gets an implicit "vote." A good analogy might be to consider a society in which everyone's house thermostat is controlled to operate at a temperature which is set for the entire country. Each person's control input is taken as a "vote," whether to get hotter, colder, or to stay the same temperature. The central control computer adjusts the national setpoint temperature in order to equalize the number of people who want the temperature colder and hotter. Each house is at the same, nationally-set temperature, however. Clearly, no one individual is in control of the setting. Nevertheless, I think it would be generally agreed that this system would never produce a REALLY "off the wall" temperature setting, simply because so many people's inputs are used to determine the output. Sure, if a group of 10,000 kids decided (assisted by the Internet) together to screw with the system, and they all set their houses' thermostat inputs to "hotter," they could SLIGHTLY increase the overall setting, but since there are probably about 100 million separate dwellings in the US, their fiddlings will be drowned out by the vast majority of the population's desires. Is this system "out of control"? True, it is out of the "control" of any single individual, but nevertheless it is well within the control of the population as a whole.

It turns out that "assassination politics" actually has a rather similar control mechanism which, like the one I've described above. First, I've pointed out that if I were to operate a centralized system such as this, I'd only accept donations naming people who are in violation of the "Non-Initiation Of Force Principle" (NIOFP), well known to libertarians. By this standard, government employees (who have accepted paychecks paid for with funds stolen from citizenry by taxes) and criminals whose crimes actually had a victim would be included. Let's call this hypothetical organization "Organization A," or OrgA for short.

True, somebody else might be a little less scrupulous, accepting donations for the termination of ANYBODY regardless of whether he "deserves" his fate. (Hypothetically, let's call them, "Organization B," or OrgB, for short.) However, I suggest that if it were explained to most potential donors (who, I suggest, would have "typical" levels of scruples) that if he patronizes OrgB, his interests wouldn't be protected. For example, OrgB (if it survives and thrives) might later come back to target HIM, because of some other donor. OrgA would not. Naturally, our "ethical" donor doesn't want this, so he would choose to give his donation to the most "ethical" organization who will accept it. This maximizes the benefit to him, and minimizes the potential harm.

Since BOTH organizations will accept donations for "deserving" victims, while only OrgB will accept them for "just anybody," it is reasonable to conclude that (capitalism being what it is) OrgB's rates (the percentage of the price it keeps as profit) can be and will be higher for its donations. (that's because there is less competition in its area of specialization.) Thus, it would be more economical to target "deserving" people through OrgA , and thus donors will be drawn to it. In addition, OrgA will become larger, more credible, believeable and trustworthy, and more potential "guessors" (assassins?) will "work" its system, and for lower average potential payments. (all else being equal.) Even so, and ironically, the average donation level for people listed by OrgA would likely be higher, since (if we assume these are "deserving" people) more people will be contributing towards their demise.

After all, if a potential donor wants to "hit" some government bigwig, there will be PLENTY of other donors to share the cost with. Millions of donations of $1 to $10 each would be common and quite economical. On the other hand, if you just selected a target out of the telephone directory, an "undeserving" target, you'll probably be the only person wanting to see him dead, which means that you'll probably have to foot the whole bill of perhaps $5K to $10K if you want to see any "action." Add to that OrgB 's "cut," which will probably be 50%, and you're talking $10K to $20K. I contend that the likelihood of this kind of thing actually happening will be quite low, for "undeserving victims."

Now, the die-hards among you will probably object to the fact that even this tiny residual possibility is left. But consider: Even _today_ it would be quite "possible" for you to pick a name randomly out of a list, find him and kill him yourself. Does this frequently happen? Apparently not. For just one thing, there's no real motive. Unless you can show that the application of "assassination politics" would dramatically increase the likelihood of such incidents, I suggest that this "problem" will likely not be a problem after all.

For a while, I thought that the "lack of a motive" protection was momentarily overturned by a hypothetical: I thought, suppose a person used this system as part of a sophisticated extortion scheme, in which he sends an anonymous message to some rich character, saying something like "pay me a zillion dollars anonymously, or I put out a digital contract on you." For a while, this one had me stumped. Then, I realized that an essential element in this whole play was missing: If this could be done ONCE, it could be done a dozen times . And the victim of such an extortion scheme has no assurance that it won't happen again, even if he pays off, so ironically he has no motivation to pay off the extortion. Think about it: The only reason to make the payment is to remove the threat. If making the payment can't guarantee to the target that the threat is removed, he has no reason to make the payment. And if the target has no reason to make the payment, the extortionist has no reason to make the threat!

Another, related (and equally simplistic) fear is that political minorities will be preferentially targeted. For example, when I pointed out that "establishment" political leaders would probably "go" quite quickly, one wag suggested to me that "libertarian leaders" could likewise be targeted. Such a suggestion reflects a serious misunderstanding of political philosophy, and libertarians in particular: I consider it obvious (to me, at least) that libertarians NEED no leaders. (You don't need leaders if you don't want to control a population, or achieve political power. The only reason libertarians "need" leaders today is to take places in the government and (then) to shut it down.) And if my idea is implemented, "libertarian leaders" represent no more of a threat to anyone than the average libertarian citizen.

Fully recognizing this, another (and far more credible) person thought a while, and in a proud revelation suggested that one way that the establishment would "fight back" is to convert to a government that is based on fully decentralized authority, as opposed to the leader-centric system we have today. Such a system could not be attacked by killing individual people, any more than you can kill a tree by pulling off a single leaf. His "solution" was, in effect, to totally disband the current government and turn it over to the public at large, where it would be safe from "attack." My smile reminded him that he had, in effect, totally re-invented my original idea: My goal is a highly de-centralized system that is not controlled by a tiny fraction of the population in a structure called a "government," essentially identical to his idea. So in effect, the only way the government can survive is to totally surrender. And once it surrenders, the people win. And in practice, it will have no alternative.

Will this idea be "out of control"? To a great extent, that depends on what your definition of the word, "control," is. I have come to believe that "assassination politics" is a political Rorshach (ink-blot) test: What you think of it is strongly related to your political philosophy.

[end part 6]

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