Turning Zeno’s Paradox Against Itself

The essay is written by Chris McKenzie, and is reproduced here with his permission.  On the bottom, I add my own comments.
Stuart K. Hayashi 

This is Bartolomeo Carduci’s fresco of Zeno of Elea (he is the old man leading the young men).

Chris McKenzie explains:

Zeno’s Paradox is as follows.  The ancient Greek philosopher Zeno stated that in order to cross a room, one must first cross half the room. In order to cross the remaining half, one must cross half the remaining distance, and so on — infinitely. Zeno concluded that one can therefore never cross the room.

Let’s change Zeno’s numbers but keep his intent: In order to cross a room, one must be first cross 99% of the room. In order to cross the remaining 1%, one must cross 99% of the remaining 1%, infinitely.

Zeno has a problem though, and it’s one he’s smuggled in. Why does Zeno think you can cross 99% of the room? After all, if you treat 99% as a whole, you must first cross 99% of the new whole. The end result is that you can’t move at all because in order to move you must first move through 99% of whatever infinitesimally small space you’ve chosen to move through — say the first 1% of the distance.

Now to the claim that “nothing is certain” or we can only be 99% certain. It’s easy to explode this claim with a single question: Are you sure? However, we can see that the 99% certainty claim suffers from the same problem as Zeno’s room: In order to be 99% certain, you must first be 99% of 99% certain. Which is to say, you must be wholly certain of a certain whole (the first 99%).

Or, you could just walk across the room and proudly claim, with 100% certainty, “I did it.”


Stuart K. Hayashi adds:

As Chris said, we can turn this around on Zeno.Every fraction is, in another context, one whole.  That is, Y may be a fraction of X, but Y is still one whole of Y.  If the room is 30 feet across and I only walk “half its distance,” that is 15 feet.  But that “half distance” is actually “the entire distance” of another measurement:  15 feet.  Therefore, every time you travel a distance, you traverse the entirety of that distance.  Every measurement is, in at least one context, “100 percent.”


UPDATE  from the Same Day:

Robert Nasir wrote the following comments to me.  I am quoting them here with his permission.

Similarly, if you can travel half the length of a given room, then you can travel what is half of twice the length of the room.

The real issue is the integration of the discrete and the continuous. Everything is discrete. Entities are discrete. The distances they travel (to the extent they’re measurable) are discrete.

Mathematics treats space (and time) as continuous. That’s fine, it’s useful (and arguably necessary) to do so.

But to understand why apparent paradoxes arise, one must never lose sight that math is method, not metaphysics.

Great Artists Originate and Don’t Steal: How You Know This Is True

Stuart K. Hayashi


“Good artists copy; great artists steal.”

–Insipid Cliche

“The best artists originate.”

This is a colored pencil drawing I did in 1998. The man depicted is supposed to be the young Howard Hughes, an original artist and inventor.

When people say everything in art is a copy of everything else — frequently expressed in the cliche “Good artists copy; great artists steal” — it’s not just inaccurate; it offends me, because the implication is pernicious. First, it relies on a straw man. Secondly, it denigrates the originality that is one of the greatest attributes of man qua man.


The Familiar and the Strange

Here is my theory on what makes an artwork interesting to you, and it itself is not particularly original, as Teller (of Penn & Teller fame) said something similar: an artwork interests you when it has the right mixture of both familiar and unfamiliar elements. As Teller phrases it, “ Aristotle used to say that a good show is a mixture of the familiar and the strange.”

The artwork needs to be somewhat familiar to you so that you can relate to it. It has to remind you of some part of your life that you already understand. If an artwork is completely unfamiliar, I will say, “This has nothing to do with me; why should I care?” Likewise, if a new invention is completely unfamiliar, I will say, “I don’t see how anyone benefits from this. It hasn’t earned my attention.”

Often, for the artwork to make itself sufficiently familiar to you, it places itself in an already-established genre, such as, say, “domestic comedy.” It might be said that, to the degree that an artwork is making itself accessible to you by utilizing tropes that are already familiar to you, it is “unoriginal.” By that standard, an artwork that is “100% original” would not register with you, because that would mean “100% unfamiliar.” That would mean there would be no aspect of it to which you could relate; it would be incomprehensible, comparable to all the sensory data bombarding you as you exited the womb.

I take an interest in a work of fiction when the characters are somewhat like me; that makes it easy for me to imagine myself in that position. When artworks are categorized by genre, I notice specific patterns: I find that I like artworks in Genre 1 at a greater frequency than instances where I enjoy artworks in Genre 2. Hence, as a consumer, I end up seeking out more works from Genre 1. If artists find that Genre 1 is more popular than Genre 2, they might decide, even before starting their next piece, that it will belong in Genre 1. Then, as he crafts this piece, he will add familiar tropes that have already been established as hallmarks of that genre.

However, an artist can go too far in making an artwork “familiar.” If one “action movie” is too much like all the others, then my reaction will be, “I have seen it all before.” If all the movies were exactly like my life, then I would think, “I don’t have to watch this; I already know what happens. The movie is superfluous.” Therefore, there has to be some element that is new — novel.

This is the passage from Aristotle’s Poetics — Part 22 — to which Teller referred:

The clearest style is that which uses only current or proper words… That diction, on the other hand, is lofty and raised above the commonplace which employs unusual words. By unusual, I mean strange (or rare) words, metaphorical, lengthened — anything, in short, that differs from the normal idiom [expression]. Yet a style wholly composed of such words [flowery language] is either a riddle or a jargon; a riddle, if it consists of metaphors; a jargon, if it consists of strange (or rare) words. For the essence of a riddle is to express true facts under impossible combinations. Now this cannot be done by any arrangement of ordinary words, but by the use of metaphor it can. … A diction that is made up of strange (or rare) terms is a jargon. A certain infusion, therefore, of these elements is necessary to style; for the strange (or rare) word, the metaphorical, the ornamental, and the other kinds above mentioned, will raise it above the commonplace and mean [mean as in mundane], while the use of proper [normal] words will make it perspicuous [clear, easy to understand]. But nothing contributes more to produce a cleanness of diction that is remote from commonness than the lengthening, contraction, and alteration of words. For by deviating in exceptional cases from the normal idiom, the language will gain distinction; while, at the same time, the partial conformity with [ordinary] usage will give perspicuity [clarity, easiness to understand].


How This Applies Elsewhere

That principle even applies to experiences, friends, and technologies. If I want a friend or even a lover, that person has to have some commonalities with me. We are able to communicate based on those shared interests. If we’re completely unalike, we have nothing to talk about. However, if everyone is exactly like me, then I wouldn’t discern a need for one more friend. I would say, “I don’t need that duplicate of me; I already have me.” When someone is the right combination of similar and different from you, the similarity allows for bonding and communication, and the differences allow you to experience excitement and learn something new.

That is also the case with new technologies. New technologies build upon older technologies and, to make themselves accessible for use to consumers, there have to be aspects that are already familiar. Guglielmo Marconi did not actually refer to his invention as “the radio”; he called it “the wireless telegraph,” just as the first automobiles were called “horseless carriages.” The first automobiles had an element that was already familiar to people: it had wheels like carriages do; the new feature was the motor. The radio was like the telegraph in that it transmitted communicative messages over long distances through electric signals; the difference is that Marconi’s wireless telegraph (which produced only a few simple sounds, not enough to produce discernible speech) transmitted those signals through the air and not a wire.

For a new technology to be accessible to users, it has to have similarities with a technology with which those users are already familiar. When I was three years old, I had not yet seen a mobile phone; I only knew of landline phones. The first telephone I ever saw and used was a rotary phone. Then I saw a phone where, to enter someone’s number, you pressed buttons. The new attribute was that I used buttons instead of the dial; the familiar feature was the Arabic numerals. Then I saw a cell phone. The familiar property was that, to enter a number, I still pressed buttons labeled with Arabic numerals; the new attribute was that I could carry the mobile phone with me and the sounds were converted to electric signals sent through the air. If a new technology was completely unfamiliar to us — 100% novel — it would be comparable to presenting a mobile phone to a newborn and expecting the newborn to know what it was and to start using it immediately. The same would apply to an artwork that is 100% new and unfamiliar.

Therefore, yes, everything that maintains your interest remains a combination of the familiar and the strange.

One might think of the “familiar” aspects as the “unoriginal” part and the novel aspects as the “original” part.

When people say all artwork is a copy, or that “Good artists copy; great artists steal,” they expect you to pay attention to only half of that consideration.


“Great Artists Steal” = “You Didn’t Build That”

Every single time I say that I object to the cliche “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” someone presumptuously starts a lecture he assumes I have never heard before: No artwork is created ex nihilo. Every artwork hailed as original still relied on familiar, already-used elements. As those aspects had already been applied before, the extent to which that artwork utilized them was the extent to which that artwork was unoriginal. Therefore, you ought to stop overstating the importance of originality — pretending not to notice the ways in which you have copied your forebears — and give more respect to such ideas as pastiche and homage.

For example, The Jazz Singer is considered a historically important motion picture on account of its being the first to have sound. But it was not the first story ever told about a man disappointing and worrying his father by taking on a career choice the father deems risky, now was it? Nor was it the first motion picture ever, now was it? Here, one might say that it “stole” storytelling elements that were already familiar. It wasn’t 100% novel after all, now was it?

That is actually a way of saying “You didn’t build that.”

Many people who recite that argument seem to be talking about themselves and practicing what they preach, because they are reciting the tritest of cliches.

The argument is a straw man because no one who celebrates originality ever claimed, while hailing an artwork or technological innovation as original, that this new work was created ex nihilo. It was not so much as implied. Nor has the celebration of any innovator’s originality ever implied denigration of predecessors upon whose works that innovator built. Celebrating Isaac Newton does not imply disrespect for the “giants” on whose “shoulders” he stood.


How Do We Know There Is Still Originality in Art?: Artists Do Make Use of Ideas That Did Not Have Precedent in That Medium

When people say “Good artists copy; great artists steal,” it is not a plea that, when we praise someone as a genius, we should also recognize the people who helped that genius. It is, in its implication, primarily an attempt to downplay the importance of novelty and originality.

Here is the problem with saying “Everything is a copy.” If it were true, no one would ever achieve anything unprecedented.

It is true that as I try to identify “the first ever model” of some invention, such as the sewing machine, in history it turns out that every time I think I have identified the first-ever model, someone later finds a record of a still-earlier model. But the fact remains that unprecedented events do happen. There was a time when there were no sewing machines. Now there are sewing machines. More dramatically, there was a time when there were no airplanes. Now there are airplanes.

One might say, “But that’s technology; not art. It’s much harder to be original when it comes to art.” But unprecedented innovations even happen in art.

For example, we are accustomed to a storytelling device called “the flashback.” When it comes to motion pictures and even written works, this refers to a story not being told in chronological order. Rather, the tale is set mostly in one particular chronology but, at some point in the narration, we are treated to a story-within-that-story that took place earlier. The first motion pictures were straightforward narratives where the events were depicted in chronological order, even if the scenes were not filmed in that same order. But there came a point where there was some first motion picture to make use of the flashback narrative device.  The first silent picture to use a flashback sequence might have been made the pioneer Col. William N. Selig. The first “talkie” to use that storytelling device might have been City Streets in 1931.

Whatever was the first motion picture to do that, it is the case that, subsequent to the invention of motion pictures, there was a time when no motion pictures made use of that literary device. Then some artist made use of that literary device which, in this medium and context, was unprecedented. Afterward, other people began using that same storytelling device. If, in the early twentieth century, everyone believed that everything is a copy and it’s impossible for artists to do anything unprecedented, no one would have thought of adding “flashbacks” to their storytelling repertoire to begin with.

The first motion picture to make use of the “flashback” storytelling device did build that. That was not copied or stolen; it was originated.


Update Notes:  On Saturday, December 10, 2016, I added the quotation from Aristotle’s Poetics, Part 22 about combining familiar words and strange words.

Why You Have a Natural Right to Immigrate: The Right to Immigrate As Implementation of the Right to Live

Stuart K. Hayashi

Screen shot from the motion picture “Born in East L.A.,” prod. Peter Macgregor-Scott, dir. Cheech Marin, (Universal Pictures, 1987).

In the comments section of a website I often frequent, I was struck by this comment, as it demonstrates so much of what so many “immigration skeptics” either do not understand or wish not to understand:

I really don’t see what facts of reality give rise to the idea that one has a natural right to cross a foreign border. That’s about as correct as thinking he has a right to a roof over his head. I hate to start from an abstraction here, but to short cut, I think we all agree at least that a man has a natural right to his life. That is not a right to my life or to any of those that make up my group, America.

The presumption in that statement is that your peaceable immigration imposes a burden on other people, comparable to demanding that other people provide you shelter at their own expense. It implies that your ability to immigrate to the United States must be incumbent upon everyone else — or, more accurately, the State — granting you permission. Mark Steyn states this more explicitly, “…immigration has to benefit the people who are already here” (emphasis Steyn’s).

No, there is but one condition that can rightfully be placed upon the implementation of your plan to immigrate: you must do it peaceably. Were someone to immigrate to the United States for the conscious purpose of commencing a planned terrorist attack, of course that person has no right to immigrate. This is because the sole condition that a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State can morally plan on any action is that the action must be peaceful, not initiating the use of force upon anyone else.


Presuming That Immigrants Are Crooks Justifies Restricting Immigration? A Presumption of Guilt Is Not Enough
Many people try to stereotype immigrants as rapists or terrorists, and say that this presumption of guilt would justify the United States banning immigration from countries with which the USA has not so much as declared war.  In actuality, the legal presumption of innocence that all U.S. citizens deserve does rightfully apply to non-citizens from nations at which the U.S. is not at war. Note that the United States Constitution properly recognizes that if someone suspects a would-be immigrant of desiring to commit a crime, that the would-be immigrant deserves the same legal presumption of innocence as a native-born citizen.  The Fifth Amendment states,

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger;…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use… [emphasis added].

Observe the second word. The Bill of Rights does not say “No citizen shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime…nor deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process…” It says no person. That includes non-citizens: human “aliens.” That is, if the United States has not formally declared war against a country, the U.S. government must treat those born of that country with the same legal presumption of innocence as it does its own citizens.


Freedom Means That, Legally, You Need No One Else’s Permission to Do What Is Peaceful
Yes, you do have a right to cross over the parts of a national border that are not private property. In a free society, freedom of action is the default. The default is: non-involvement on the part of the State. If someone wants to use State violence to restrict your freedom, the onus is upon that person to justify the exercise of State violence upon you. If the migrant is intruding upon your private plot and trying to be a squatter on your private property, that is a trespass against you, and you would have the moral right to call the police and ask the police to dispense force to protect you. But if the migrant crosses into my private plot and I consent to that, it is not incumbent upon me or the migrant to beg for the permission of people outside of my private plot that the migrant be allowed by third parties to lodge on my private plot.

Here is the fallacy in how the first quotation conflates my right to immigrate with a demand on my part that the State compel you to provide me shelter and other forms of wealth. If I said I have a right to a roof over my head at your expense, that would be initiating the use of force to compel action on your part. If I cross the national border and find refuge on the private plot of someone who consents to me being on the private plot, that does not violently compel any action on your part. It actually happens without your help.


What About When People Cross Over Private Plots That Are Along the Border?
There are private plots along parts of the U.S.-Mexican border, though, and sometimes impoverished people from south of the border do have to resort to a quick crossing over the landholders’ private plots in the absence of the landholders’ permission. Some landholders consider this intolerable and demand federal action to stop it. In most cases I would side with the landholders. However, there are important considerations in these cases that merit attention.

First is the “coming to the nuisance” doctrine. That is the legal doctrine stating that if a “public nuisance” already existed in a particular location, and then you choose to move yourself to that location, you implicitly consent to the nuisance and thereby rightfully forfeit the legal authority to take action against that. Suppose there is a factory emitting soot; it has been there for fifty years. Then, last year, I chose to move next to that factory, failing to anticipate how much the air pollution would bother me. I would be forfeiting the authority to sue the factory’s owner, as I was the one who “came to the nuisance”; the factory’s actions have been grandfathered in. In the case of private homes on the U.S.-Mexican border, those border crossings have already been numerous since 1965; this has already been recognized throughout the 1980s. were it the case that I moved to one of those plots in the year 2004 and only then started to notice the border crossing, I would be coming to the nuisance, and it would be silly for me to demand State action only now.

Second, there are cases of emergencies where the law should take the emergency into consideration and grant leniency where it would otherwise judge that someone violated private property rights. Suppose that you were on the continental United States in winter in the wilderness and, through a rare error in judgment, you found yourself caught in a snowstorm. However, you find a secluded cabin and recognize that the one way for you to survive the night is to enter the cabin. You find that no one is in it. If you break into the cabin and stay there for the night, that would normally be recognized as violating private property rights. However, if this is an unusual occurrence for you and the cabin’s owner, the law should take into consideration both that rarity and the urgency of the situation.

Ordinances and statutes are not deontological categorical imperatives that the State is duty-bound to enforce for their own sake.  Ordinances and statutes must exist and be enforced only for the greater end that is maximizing each person’s ability to live freely in the long term. For you to demand that other people always provide you food, shelter, education, and health care over the course of years is an entirely different matter — that is not a sudden emergency situation. For people in Third World kleptocracies, the choice is either to immigrate to a freer country or die. In the cases of impoverished people in Ecuador and Syria, they are in an emergency situation. I don’t find it proper for any government to demand that people give them long-term housing and social services. But considering that their choice is to migrate or die, their decision to cross borders — sans any government’s approval — is reasonable.

To the degree that impoverished, desperate people — people who would otherwise die early if not for the migration — are resorting to trampling over private land to reach the United States, the long-term solution is to make it easier for such people to enter the USA legally so that they can do so over no one’s private land. That would involve removing the cap on the number of visas issued annually or, better yet, abolishing the visa system altogether.

And much of the U.S.-Mexican border is not private property.


The Right to Migrate Is the Right to Live
Hence, the first commenter contradicts herself with these two statements: (1) “I really don’t see what facts of reality give rise to the idea that one has a natural right to cross a foreign border” and (2) “a man has a right to his own life.”

A man’s right to his own life is the very fact of reality that gives rise to the idea that one has a natural right to cross a foreign border.

That is, the right to immigrate peacefully is a logical corollary to the right to live peacefully. Peaceful immigration is a noble enterprise, and to deny free immigration is to deny free enterprise.

Recall that in an earlier post, I asked you to imagine the following: that you are a slave in the early 1800s but have a relatively benign master. For the most part, the master lets you do what you want: the master lets you open your own business on the side and you can keep most of your own money. The master allows you to read and write. The master allows you to speak your mind and argue back at him without violent reprisal. The master lets you do what you want in ways similar to a permissive parent permitting adolescent children to do as they please.

This would raise the question over whether your situation would be considered relative freedom, and the answer is no. You do what you want, but this is merely at the master’s mercy. If the master undergoes a change of heart, or if legal control over you changes hands to another party, it may be the case that you won’t have as much leeway in the future. Even if we assume that your master will outlive you and will not change in temperament, it is unjust that what you do, you do merely at the master’s permission. A free man or woman is free to do what he or she wants peaceably in the absence of anyone’s permission — that is what it means to have a right to one’s own life.

To live is to take peaceable action. That is, in order to live, you must take peaceable actions — you must find a means of obtaining food, either as gifts from willing givers, or growing your own food, or exchanging your services for such food. You must make choices on whether you will marry and, if you marry, whom that will be. You must make choices on whether to have children and, if you do have children, you must make choices on how to raise them. And, if you were born in a country that is impoverished due to a kleptocratic government discouraging long-term entrepreneurship and investment, you must make a choice on whether to remain in this danger or to immigrate to a freer place such as the United States. Insofar as your legal ability to perform these actions actually hinges on permission from the State, you are not free to perform these actions. Nay, you are free to perform these peaceable actions insofar as other people are unable to request that the State veto these actions of yours.

When you immigrate, that is no less of an action that you take to live than is your choice to start a business or to write a poem or to marry. The right to start a peaceful business — even without anyone else’s permission — is an implementation of the right to live. The right to express oneself freely — even without anyone else’s permission — is an implementation of the right to live. The right to immigrate — even without anyone else’s permission — is an implementation of the right to live. And to deny my right to peaceful immigration is to deny my right to live.

For the benefit of someone like the first commenter, that cannot be stated often enough. To have freedom does not mean that, as a consequence of other people continually approving your requests, you are largely able to go through life doing what you want. To have freedom means that your legal authority to perform any peaceable action required no one else’s permission in the first place.

What this means is that if I want an immigrant to stay on my land, and that immigrant travels from his own country to my plot of land, the immigrant has a moral right to do this — regardless of what the federal laws are concerning visas — no matter how much that first commenter disapproves and wishes the State would quash this action.

For those who have not yet read Ayn Rand’s We the Living, I caution that I will provide a spoiler in italics:

when Kira Argounova decided that she would attempt to cross a national border illegally, she implicitly and properly recognized that the justness of that action required no one else’s approval. She sought no one else’s permission; the idea did not so much as enter her mind. Nor should it have.  Her survival and freedom are what mattered. That was a direct consequence of Kira Argounova cherishing her right to her own peaceable life as paramount.

Equally unjust is Mark Steyn’s presumption that a person’s right to immigrate to another country — that is, that person’s right to live — must hinge on whether the people in that country believe that this will be of benefit to them. If I want an immigrant on my land, and that immigrant agrees to lodge on my land, that immigrant is living justly even if it is widely believed that the immigrant is benefiting no one but himself.

Poor people migrate to freer countries because they are trying to avoid an early death — that is, they migrate to freer countries to live. To say that they have no natural right to do this peaceably — that their ability to migrate must be at your mercy — is to deny them their right to their lives.

A Memoir of Being an Extra Appearing in the 2014 American Godzilla Movie

Stuart K. Hayashi

This is adapted from an e-mail I wrote in late 2013.


While it was by no means a panacea for problems in my life, a childhood dream came true for me on Wednesday, July 10, and Thursday, July 11, 2013. :’-D

Ever since I was a little boy, I appreciated a particular movie franchise, one starring a character who is similar to a dragon and yet is not explicitly called a dragon; he is more often compared to a dinosaur. We knew that back in 1998, TriStar claimed to come out with a big-budget American adaptation of the character with its own movie, only for us to find that the beastie in the TriStar offering looked and behaved nothing like the dragonesque character at all. Then in 2010 they announced that they would again do another big-budget American adaptation. Upon seeing an interview with the new director, Gareth Edwards, I felt more optimistic. He said everything correct — that TriStar’s 1998 adaptation failed because it wasn’t true to the character and, far worse, it disrespected longtime fans. Edwards said that his version would actually look and behave like the character I had grown up loving. [In retrospect, this movie was, in one important respect, the opposite of Godzilla Resurgence. The monster in Godzilla Resurgence looked passably enough like Godzilla but did not behave like Godzilla. By contrast, the monster in the 2014 American Godzilla movie did not really look like Godzilla, but it did behave enough like Godzilla.]


Captain Nobody
The Saturday, June 1, 2013 edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that there was an open casting call for a movie. The movie company didn’t want the actual identity of the movie to be widely known; its employees referred to it in public as Nautilus. In Honolulu, the company even worked through a shell corporation called Captain Nemo Productions. Evidently the movie company wanted to fool people into believing that they were doing a remake of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. However, Hawaii’s news media were not fooled; the newspaper very explicitly said it was probably Godzilla.

This announcement was made on very short notice — the day before the casting call went out. Still, I decided that if I refrained from standing in line for the casting call, I would come to regret that decision in my old age. I therefore decided to be a part of it. The casting call was supposed to go on from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., but it ended up being extended later into the afternoon.

The lines were literally around the block, winding around corners of buildings and into at least three different parking lots. Ahead of me in line was a very talkative old man who introduced himself as Mike Crozier, saying he was a State Senator in Hawaii until 1992. I didn’t recognize his name; his political career was l-o-n-g before my time.

I got really sunburned. Fortunately I only had to stand in line for four hours in order to fill out two forms for five minutes. I really did get dangerously burned by radiation — unintentional method acting on my part.

The mural is of a dissected shark, for some reason. o.O
This is less than a third of the line.

In the first week of July, I received a phone call from Katie Doyle Casting informing me that of the 2,000 people who had filled out forms at the open casting call, I was among the 200 selected to be an extra for the movie. That’s 1 out of 10. I couldn’t believe my luck. :’-)

They shot the scenes in Waikiki at Duke Kahanamoku Beach on Wednesday, July 10, and Thursday, July 11.


Day One

Me on the morning of July 10, 2013, before getting the destination. I hold up the instructions that Katie Doyle’s company gave me. In Microsoft Paint I blacked out some sensitive bits of information.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 6:00 a.m. — Getting ready to remove my backpack and get on the bus that would take me to the set. Little did I know what awaited me there.

I was told that in the movie, a monster swims to Honolulu and wreaks devastation. At the time, I was not informed of the identity of any of the monsters in the picture — I had not heard the name “MUTO.” At Duke Kahanamoku Beach, the crew built a whole set of building rubble, complete with wreckage of a helicopter. #REKT

A screen shot of the finished motion picture, with my captions added.

I was cast as one of the Honolulu residents wounded in the devastation. The props department put bandages on me and the makeup department drew wounds and gashes on my face and arms. They also threw dirt and ash in my beautiful hair.

I remembered how horribly sunburned I was waiting in line for the casting call. This time I came prepared and had sunscreen all over my face, neck, and arms. But I didn’t anticipate that the wardrobe department would insist I change out of my clothes — a T-shirt and jeans — and into the beige button-down shirt and baggy shorts they wanted me to wear. Hawaiian people don’t dress like that, but the movie people wanted everyone there to wear the sort of clothes that mainland Americans inaccurately expect Hawaiians to wear. Anyhow, I had neglected to put sunscreen on my legs, and they became terribly sunburned anyway.


“It Was Meant to Be”
Since the scene is of a disaster area, there are police officers, soldiers, and FEMA employees all over the place. The movie studio cast real-life police officers, National Guardsmen, and soldiers as extras, though they didn’t wear their real uniforms. I came across a really talkative, incessantly jokey, stocky policeman there who introduced himself as “Tony.” I said to him, “But your uniform says ‘K. Thomas’ on it.” He said, “We’re real police officers, but we’re not allowed to use our real uniforms for the movie; these are from the wardrobe department.”

Tony was an African-American but he spoke with a really thick pidgin Hawaiian dialect. In our first scene, the assistant director told Tony and this other officer, a middle-aged white officer (I don’t know his real name, but the fake uniform said “D. Dornan” on it) to escort me, as an injured person, to the FEMA tent.

The movie crew actually put up these little railroad tracks in the middle of the pavement, and then they put this platform onto the railroad tracks. On the platform went this large crane, with the camera at the end of it. That’s how the camera moved forward and backward.
When the white officer and Tony were making other small talk, the white officer said, “When did the last Godzilla movie come out?”

I said to him, “Do you mean the most recent Godzilla movie, or do you mean the horrible 1998 version TriStar made?”

The white officer said, “The American one.”

I replied, “That was in 1998. But the most recent Godzilla movie from Japan was made in 2004.”

Then Tony said, “Ho! You one Godzilla aficionado?”

I smiled and said, “Yes. Ever since I was a little boy, I appreciated Godzilla. When I learned that they were shooting the new movie here, I stood in line for three hours. By luck, I was chosen to be an extra. And now I’m here.”

Tony said, “Ho! This is destiny! It was meant to be. Time for your loyalty to Godzilla to be rewarded. I’m going to help make sure that you get into the camera’s view when they’re filming.” He said that teasingly, but as the day went on, he actually did scheme for us to be in the camera’s view. We did multiple takes of the same scene. And, before any of the takes were even recorded, we did rehearsed takes, complete with the camera moving into the same position that it would be in during actual filming. Tony kept timing it so that we would be in the correct position as the camera passed by — where we would be right behind the main actor as the camera focused in on him.

The assistant directors weren’t completely consistent about continuity. At first they stressed that when they edited the different takes together, they wanted accurate continuity. Therefore, after we shot the first sequence, we had to remember where we stood when the director said “cut.” Then, we they began filming the second sequence, we had to start in the exact place where we were when the first sequence finished filming. At least, that’s what the assistant directors claimed they wanted. But eventually one assistant pointed to a place 70 feet from us and said, “There is too much empty space over there; not enough is going on. Therefore we want you guys to be in the background in those scenes, too.” The assistants therefore moved us. When you watch the finished movie and spot me, you find out I’m all over the place, as if I have teleported every which way around the movie’s lead human actor, Aaron Taylor-Johnson. That’s because the assistants expected that no one would notice that the people in the background immediately appear and disappear from one place to another in microseconds.

The two cops and I are east of Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Tony and I got behind Aaron Taylor-Johnson as he talks to the soldier (we are still east of him). How did we get there so fast?
Tony and I are west of Aaron Taylor-Johnson all of a sudden! This is at the 1:00:05 mark of the motion picture on the DVD.


Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Back on June 1, I read the Honolulu Star-Advertiser‘s list of the people cast to star in the movie. Of the names, I recognized only Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston (to me, he will always be Dr. Tim Whatley from Seinfeld as well as the voices of monsters from the first 1993 season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). Also cast was the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen . Of all the stars there, though, only one appeared at our shooting — some young British actor named Aaron Johnson. I did not recognize his name.

One of the extras pointed out, “That’s the main actor. He was that guy in that movie.” I didn’t recognize that actor. Then the extra said, “He was the star of that movie . . .Kick-Ass.”

Then it hit me. Oh, my God(zilla). Kick-Ass was the only movie and I ever went to see with someone whom I care about, but who has scared me through make various morbid gestures (suicidal, self-harming, and body dysmorphic) in a very public fashion. It was her kind of movie — really bloody, unpleasant, and cynical. We watched Aaron Johnson on the big screen. And, at this moment, Aaron Johnson was, in the flesh, just a few feet from me. Not even when I’m in this movie can I escape from something that brings up memories of that person I care and worry about.

It was a really hot day, and the movie people had Aaron Johnson wear a really hot leather jacket. As soon as the camera stopped rolling, Aaron Johnson would remove the jacket. Underneath that he was also wearing a hot, bulky sweatshirt. What’s the deal? In his scene, he was carrying a little Japanese boy in a red T-shirt. He takes the boy to a FEMA tent and says, “This boy been separated from his parents.” Then a Japanese couple, playing the boy’s parents, walk by. The mother screams in relief, “Akio!” and the boy jumps into her arms.

It was important that the other extras and I didn’t begin moving when the assistant director Alex Rayner (who, at the time, I mistook for the main director Gareth Edwards) said “Action.” First he said, “Action!” Then main director Gareth Edwards (whom I thought was assistant director Alex Rayner) yelled, “Sound!” The sound crew yelled, “Rolling!” in near-unison. Then the assistant director would say, “Background.” Background refers to us extras in the background. That’s when we extras would begin moving and doing what the assistants told us to do. When the shooting stopped, the director did say “Cut.” Then he would say “Reset,” which means we had to return to the spot we were last in before the last time the assistant director said “Background.”

At the end of the first day of shooting, we were all done, but a woman from Katie Doyle’s company (I don’t know if it was Katie Doyle herself) said, “Nobody is leaving yet. I don’t know what the reasoning is, but I have clear instructions that none of you can be paid unless you leave after sundown.” This guy sarcastically shouted out, “Yayyyyyyyyyy!!” and then he sarcastically applauded. That was infectious, because then about forty extras sarcastically applauded with him.

In the evening, we left the set and the bus took me back to the location where the extras first gathered together. Here, you can see the movie makeup. In the morning, I only looked beat-up. By the evening I FELT that way.


Day Two
On the second day of shooting, they did the continuation of that scene. Three waves of soldiers walk in formation. Aaron Johnson goes up to the man in front of the first wave and says something like, “I’m in the Navy. I need to get back to the mainland.” The soldier in front says something to the effect of, “You’re in luck, because that’s where we’re going. We’re all monster-hunters now.”

On the first take, Tony maneuvered me right behind Aaron Johnson as he was talking. You know the sound guy who holds that big pole with a microphone at the end, and the microphone has this weird fluffy covering on it? The back end of the pole almost hit me in the face. Then I would have had real bruises there to match the fake ones.

I said to Tony, “Why do they put that fluffy thing on the microphone?” Tony replied, “That’s because when the wind hits the microphone directly, the impact makes that staticky feedback noise. When they put that fuzzy thing over it, the fuzzy thing absorbs the impact of the wind and the noise isn’t made.” Later he went directly to the sound guy to ask him about it, and the sound guy confirmed that that was correct.

Then many crew members began telling me that I had them worried because my eyes were so bloodshot. People have often told me my eyes are red and watery. Hence I initially didn’t think it was a big deal. But then the crew actually brought in their on-call medic — not one of the many extras playing medics — to look at my eyes. That got me worried. I took out my contact lenses but my eyes didn’t get less red.


Stand-In Boy Meets the Big G
The Japanese boy — Jake — had two stand-ins, both also in the same red T-shirts. I thought they were triplets, but they weren’t related. Tony was talking to the parents of one of the stand-ins, and he pointed to me and said, “My boy Stuart right here is a Godzilla expert. I’m helping him get into as many shots for the movie as possible.” The mother looked at me and said, “Our son still hasn’t seen Godzilla yet.”

I facetiously pantomimed a look of horror and exclaimed, “Unacceptable!”

The mother said, “Which Godzilla movies do you recommend we show our son? I don’t mean that horrible American one from 1998.”

I said, “In Godzilla: Final Wars, they have the real Godzilla fight that fake American Godzilla, and the real Godzilla defeats him really easily. And a character says of the fake Fraudzilla from TriStar, ‘I knew that tuna-eating monster was weak!’ ”

The mother said, “What was that movie?” She took out her iPhone and said, “Tell me the title of that movie.” I told her Godzilla: Final Wars. That movie is very far from the best entry in the series, but I figured it was the one that little boys are most apt to like. The parents also took a photo of me with the boy with their iPhone.


“I Consider All of You Here My Family!”
It turns out that Aaron Johnson had been filming the movie for 80 days; this was his 81st day. The director Gareth Edwards (who looked so young in person that I mistook him for the assistant director) got a microphone and said, “Everyone, this is a special day. For many of us, this is the end of filming.” He said, “This is Victor’s final day of shooting.” Then he handed a microphone to Victor, who was dressed as military personnel, and said, “What was your favorite part of filming?” Victor said, “My favorite part was shooting up Godzilla!” Everyone laughed.

Then Gareth Edwards chuckled and said, “What are you talking about? The movie is called Nautilus.”

Then Gareth said, “This is also Aaron Johnson’s last day of filming,” and he gave the microphone to Aaron Johnson. Speaking into the microphone, Aaron Johnson addressed all of us extras and said in that rather cloying way that actors talk, “This has been a great journey for me, and I consider all of you here my family.”

Then Gareth went up to the little boy (the main one) and announced, “This is also Jake’s last day of filming.” He said to the boy, “What was your favorite part of making the movie?”

The boy said in a very breathy voice, “My favorite part was . . . was . . . ” Then he said nothing. Everyone laughed about his cuteness.

Gareth said, “Okay, ‘Cut.’ ‘Reset.’ What was your favorite part?” Then again the boy said, “My favorite part was . . . was . . . ” Nothing.

Gareth said, “That part with the train was good, wasn’t it?” The boy said, “Yes!” and everyone laughed about his cuteness again.

All in all, it was quite an adventure.

And I don’t want to do anything like it again any time soon. ^_^

The movie company’s instructions forbade any picture-taking on the set or of the set. But I still wanted the moments captured. That’s why you see these photos of me getting onto and off the bus.

My return from the second day of shooting. I was tired yet invigorated. My makeup wound was bloodier on the second day.

At the start of the shoot, I only looked beat up. By the end of it, I felt that way, too. The dragon-like creature has beaten up many worthy opponents in his time — Mothra, Rodan, and King Kong. And now me. ^_^


When I watched the movie in the theater, I didn’t see myself, but John Paul Cassidy (who has an excellent contribution in August Ragone’s excellent biography of Godzilla/Ultraman special effects director Eiju Tsuburaya) assured me that he saw me. I got the DVD for my birthday and, sure enough, I spotted myself.

September 24, 2014.

I have appeared in my favorite movie franchise — in a motion picture that grossed half a billion dollars worldwide. One of my two great childhood dreams was finally accomplished. ^_^ Now I can move on to trying to accomplish the second childhood dream, which is a much easier feat: becoming a millionaire. 😉

If All Slave Masters Were Nice, Slavery Would Still Be Evil; If No Husbands Were Abusive, Women’s Rights Would Still Need to Be Codified

Stuart K. Hayashi

We know the horror stories about slavery. The details of “close packing” are horrible (note that the very term close packing is very misleading in how it conceals the brutality of what was done). But I want to make another point: even looking at a case of a relatively benign master genuinely concerned about the well-being of his slaves demonstrates what is wrong with slavery.

“Benevolent” Slave Masters?
Robert McCormick and his son Cyrus McCormick receive credit for the mechanical reaper machine named for them. However, Cyrus McCormick’s grandson, Cyrus McCormick II, wrote a family history in which he said that much of the credit for co-invention actually must belong to a black slave of the family named Jo Anderson.

There is evidence that the McCormicks genuinely cared about Jo Anderson’s well-being: “According to some accounts, Anderson and McCormick were more like brothers than slave and master. … Family records show that McCormick purchased a log cabin on a small plot for Anderson in his later years and that McCormick and his son supported Anderson until his death sometime after 1888.”

If Your Master Was Never Violent Toward You, Your Position As Slave Would Still Be Wrong 
Let’s pretend, for argument’s sake, that we could wave a magic want that would not have abolished slavery back then but would have suddenly made all slave masters genuinely caring about their slaves, and the more on the benign side, such as the McCormicks. Would that make slavery okay? No, it would not. Let’s imagine that you are a slave, and you have one of the more benign masters. For the most part, you can do what you want without him punishing you. Would that make your situation okay? No, it would not. Never mind that even when a slave had one of the more benign masters, it was still the case that if he wandered too far beyond the plantation, he could come across vigilantes who could get away with murdering him without legal recrimination.
It would still be the case that every time you take a bite of food, it is considered a handout from the master. If the master lets you start your own business and keep what you earn from it, it is still the case that you are only doing this at his permission — whim, really — and that, if one day on some whim he decided to revoke all these “privileges” from you, the law would be on his side. That’s why it was not sufficient merely to ask masters to be more benign. If you were a slave and all the masters chose to be more benign, it would be the case that you remain completely at their mercy and it is only by their mercy that you are not starved, beaten to death, or destroyed. Even if you have the world’s nicest master, nothing would justify anyone having that much authority over you and your peaceful actions in the first place.

This Also Applies to the Rights of Women As Independent Entities 
 The same principle applies to how women are treated by the law. Let’s imagine you are a woman and married to a very rich man who is also the world’s nicest man. He could legally get away with beating you up, but he doesn’t because he’s so nice. Would that mean your situation is fine? No, it would not be, because you should not have to count on anyone being nice — you should not be at anyone’s mercy — when it comes to you taking your own peaceful choices and looking peaceably out for your own well-being. Regardless of how nice or mean anyone is, the law should recognize that you own your life and it is yours by right — not merely at others’ charity or mercy.

Choosing America

Stuart K. Hayashi


If you have seen the drawings of mine that I have uploaded onto Instagram, you might have noticed my conspicuous method for signing each piece.

Every drawing says “Stu’s Art” on it.  Below that is usually two weird symbols.  What are those? Stars?  Those are supposed to be trees.  That is Japanese kanji.  My last name, Hayashi, means “the woods.”  Those two trees represent “the woods”; they are my family name written in kanji.

I have been told that, technically, it is not proper for me to write my Japanese surname in kanji, as I was born outside of Japan.  Japanese katakana is used for foreign, non-Japanese words (and for the names of monsters, such as Godzilla/GO-dzi-lla).  Technically, I am supposed to write my Japanese family name in katakana to let people know I am not a native Japanese person.

That got me thinking:  I do believe in American exceptionalism. Margaret Thatcher pointed out that most nations are founded on “history” and not “philosophy.” By this she meant that thousands of years ago, some tribe split off from a bigger tribe, fought off neighbors, and drew a border around its territory. The nations were established by a shared kinship, a shared blood, even if those countries are now trying to get away from that by promoting what they believe to be a “multiculturalist” policy.

By contrast, the American republic was different from inception.  As Leonard Peikoff observes, “America is the only country in history created not by meaningless warfare or geographic accident, but deliberately, on the basis of certain fundamental ideas.” Those fundamental ideas were a specific philosophy: the individual rights of man, as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence. This document said that what established this republic was not blood but adherence to a philosophy based on liberty, the principles of the Enlightenment.

We remember Bono saying, “Rock star preaches capitalism. Wow. … But commerce is real. … Commerce, entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid. Of course we know that. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse. It’s not just in their interest; it’s in ours. It’s in our national security interest.” In that very same speech Bono showed he understands what the United States of America is about:

…America is an idea, isn’t it? I mean, Ireland’s a great country, but it’s not an idea. Great Britain’s a great country, but it’s not an idea.  That’s how we see you around the world… as one of the greatest ideas in human history. Right up there with the Renaissance… right up there with crop rotation… The Beatles’ White Album… That idea, the America idea, it’s an idea. The idea is that you and me are created equal…  

The idea that life is not meant to be endured, but enjoyed. The idea that if we have dignity…if we have justice…then leave it to us, we can do the rest.  …

This country was the first to claw its way out of darkness and put that on paper. And God love you for it. Because these aren’t just American ideas anymore. … You’ve brought them into the world. It’s a wide world now. I know Americans say they have a bit of the world in them. And you do. The family tree has a lot of branches. But the thing is… the world has a bit of America in it, too. These truths… your truths… they are self-evident in us.

My Japanese teacher from high school is the one who told me about how native Japanese would think that I ought to write my surname in katakana rather than kanji.  She also told me that I could move to Japan and become very well assimilated — even try to mimic the dialect of the region I live in — and I will still never be considered fully Japanese, as I was born in a foreign land. I have been told that you can be a gaijin who lives in Japan for forty years, and everyone you know there can love you genuinely — you still will not be Japanese in their eyes. It is said that you can choose to live in Japan but that you cannot choose to be Japanese.  Insofar as that might be true, that is Japan’s loss.

By contrast, you choose to be American. You can be born elsewhere, and speak with a strange, heavy accent for the rest of your life. When you exercise independence and go about your life peaceably, people in America and elsewhere recognize you as an American in spirit.

The United States of America is the republic of choice — including the choice on whether or not you choose America itself.

In a video interview titled “What Is the Alt Right?”, I heard Theodore “Vox Day” Beale tell a fawning Stefan Molyneux that since the late nineteenth century, this has been the USA’s weakness. To him, the recognition that you choose to be American “is absolutely abhorrent, because what it’s saying is that America’s historical people [whites] and America’s historical culture [which Vox Day conflates with whites] doesn’t exist.” He says it is great that “if you were to move to Italy, and you were to get your Italian citizenship, you would still not be an Italian” — and that that attitude is what the United States should adopt.

The reverse is the case. As Baroness Thatcher observed, this sanctification of your freedom of choice is exceptional in the best manner possible.  That you choose to be American is the glory of America.



The section on Bono was added on September 22, 2016 The quotations of eugenicist racist Theodore “Vox Day” Beale were added on December 6, 2016.

Violence Cannot Be Privatized

Stuart K. Hayashi


Suppose you knew someone in childhood and, as an adult, became reacquainted with her. Imagine you suspect that, even as an adult, she is being regularly beaten by her spouse. Upon confronting her about this, she says, “This is something for my household alone; it is my private affair; it is none of your business!” Now consider another scenario. Imagine you learn that a young woman was raped by her own relative, and you have enough evidence to make you find it plausible that that relative may rape someone else. When the young woman learns of what you know, she screams that she will never forgive you if you go to the police or tell anyone else about this. She yells, “My relative didn’t rape you or anyone in your family. This is my private affair; it is none of your business! You have no right to go to the police about this.”

Are the women in the above two scenarios correct? The implication in the victim’s assertion is that because she is the one victim of which she is aware, she is the only party who has any right to take action against the aggressor. Because the aggressor did not initiate the use of force upon you or your family directly, says the victim, this is entirely her business and no one else’s. You and the government ought to butt out of this. Is she correct that this is nobody’s business but her own? No, she is not. Any use of violence, be it initiated or made in self-defense against the initiator, is necessarily everyone’s business. It is necessarily your business, and, to the degree that a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State has jurisdiction, it is necessarily the business of that government. The reason is that no use of violence, be it initiated or made in self-defense, can properly be privatized.


How Libertarians Propose Retaliatory Violence Can Be Privatized: Replace All Criminal Law With Civil Law
I did not always understand this. For many years I was beholden to an argument that Dr. W. Alan Burris leveled in his book A Liberty Primer. In this work, Burris argues the following. Imagine that Ralph steals $100 from Jake. If Jake does not merely file a civil suit against Ralph, but presses criminal charges as well, then the lawyer who prosecutes Ralph will not be an agent working exclusively on Jake’s behalf; the prosecutor will be representing the entire municipal government, the entire community, against Ralph. The implication is that Ralph’s victims are not limited to Jake; Ralph victimized the entire community.

Such a conclusion is wrongheaded and collectivist, W. Alan Burris says in A Liberty Primer. Dr. Burris “corrects” the record by telling us that, in reality, Jake remains Ralph’s sole victim. Therefore, concludes Dr. Burris, applying individualist principles requires that criminal law be abolished completely, replaced entirely by civil law. Dr. Burris continues that the reality is that Jake was the sole victim and therefore, if Ralph initiated the use of force against Jake, it is incumbent upon Jake to file a lawsuit against Ralph to make himself whole again. The same principle would apply if Ralph raped Jake. Again, Jake should seek justice by filing a civil suit against Ralph; not proclaim that when Ralph raped Jake, Ralph somehow victimized everyone in the community as opposed to Jake himself.

Libertarians who advocate that civil law replace criminal law completely even have thought of what should be done with respect to homicide. If there comes a day when Ralph kills Jake, Jake cannot sue Ralph from beyond the grave, right? Thus, suggest civil-law libertarians, Jake can specify in his will that should he be murdered, the executor to his estate will gain the power to file suit against the party the executor judges to be culpable for the death. Jake can specify in his will that if he is slain, his wife will gain the power to sue on his behalf. Should Jake’s widow be unable to carry out this task, then the responsibility will fall upon their eldest child. Anyhow, the point is their is an entire line of succession.

Beguiled for years by a charismatic Rothbardian, I actually agreed with this and came up with my own “What if?” scenario: What if Jake is a complete recluse and has no friends or family left? If he expires, what recourse would he have? Here is the “solution” I thought up: it is very unlikely that Jake would be the only recluse in his community; there would probably be others. Jake can hire a law firm specializing in estate law. They sign a contract stipulating that if Jake is murdered, the law firm will sue the culprit on his behalf. There will be many such law firms competing against one another. Insurance companies can also be involved. Jake can sign a contract stipulating that if he is murdered and the culprit is not sued successfully, the insurance company will have to pay insurance money to an organization of Jake’s choice. Because the insurance company does not want to pay out so much money, it would probably be cheaper for the insurance company to hire a lawyer to sue whomever killed Jake. Should the insurance company win the lawsuit, it will not have to provide the large stash of insurance money to the organization that Jake selected. If Jake is murdered, of course, he will not be around to observe whether the law firm or insurance company followed through with the contract.

How, then, would the law firm or insurance company be incentivized to carry out the arrangement? The “answer,” I rationalized, would be competition. There would be other recluses in the community observing what the law firm or insurance company did on Jake’s behalf. If the law firm or insurance company failed to carry out Jake’s wishes, similar recluses would take note of this failure and refuse to patronize that law firm or insurance company; they would take their business to a competitor. That, I rationalized to myself, demonstrated that civil law could indeed replace all criminal law. I was incorrect, and the correction came from an unlikely source: a man somewhat unfairly maligned as a symbol of tyrannical government and violence, an alleged enemy of liberalization.


Hank Rearden Refutes the Civil-Law Libertarians
The correction came from the ancient Greek lawgiver Draco. He was allegedly too harsh in punishing crime, and therefore a government acting too harshly is said to be draconian. However, Draco set a precedent that is actually important to having a truly free, constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State. It turns out that prior to Draco’s time, the ancient Greeks largely agreed with W. Alan Burris that murder was a private matter. The ancient Greeks believed that if, say, Ralphius murdered your brother Jacius, it was not as if Ralphius had threatened the safety of the entire community; his lone victim was your brother Jacius. Therefore, if you wanted justice for Jacius, it was left to you and your family to seek out some personal vengeance against Ralphius. To this, Draco objected. Draco said that if Ralphius murdered Jacius, Ralphius necessarily victimized everyone in the community, and therefore the State, representing the entire community, was right to avenge the entire community against Ralphius.

This is true. If Ralph steals from Jake, then everyone else in the community has probable cause to fear that Ralph may steal from them as well. If Ralph rapes Jake, everyone else in the community has probable cause to fear that Ralph may rape them as well. And if Ralph murders Jake, everyone else in the community has probable cause to fear that Ralph may murder them as well. Even if Ralph publicly issues a serious threat of violence against Jake and has yet to carry it out, the rest of the public has probable cause for fearing that Ralph may carry out that threat against them as well. Therefore, any initiation of the use of force does, perforce, victimize everyone in the community.

Even in a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, there might be some initiations of the use of force that might only be settled through civil suits. For example, presently in the United States, if someone breaches contract with you, you have no recourse but a civil suit. Yet, as John P. McCaskey explains, breach of contract is an indirect initiation of the use of force. Suppose you and I draft a contract stipulating that you shall pay me money and then I shall perform a service to you. You make a down payment, and then I refrain from providing the service at all. In effect, the force involved was your having been manipulated into the action of providing me your private property when I have not fulfilled my side; you relinquished your money, your private property, only under the condition that I fulfill my side of the agreement. Hence, breaches of contract are initiations of the use of force in the USA that presently are addressed mostly through civil cases and not criminal ones. In a purely rational constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, rational legal theorists may quibble over what sorts of infractions should merely be subject to civil suits and which should also be criminally prosecuted. Nonetheless, the principle remains: there are some initiations of the use of force that are so severe that, should Ralph commit them against Jake, Ralph demonstrates himself to be a threat against everyone else in the community, not merely Jake. On that understanding, when the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State claims to represent the entire community in criminally prosecuting Ralph for what Ralph did to Jake, the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State is not collectivistically usurping the authority to represent individual community members against their consent.

Hank Rearden got it right in his courtroom speech: “…when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the rights of all…” Martin Luther King, Jr., also had the right idea when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The initiation of the use of violence — by anyone against anyone — indeed demonstrates itself to be a threat to everyone in the community and not merely the most direct victim of that violence. If Ralph beats up Jake, there is sufficient evidence for you to worry that you could be the next victim of a beating from Ralph. And even if you, personally, believe that Ralph would never do this to you or your children, your next-door neighbor is reasonable in worrying that she might become his next punching bag. Violence cannot be privatized — any act of violence inexorably imposes repercussions for people other than the violence’s most direct victim.

If Ralph beats up Jake, the threat that Ralph poses to the rest of the community is what economists should identify as an “externality” — Ralph brutalizing Jake invariably imposes a cost on people in the community other than Jake. This is an externality that cannot be “internalized” by merely allowing Jake to sue Ralph. The ramifications of every act of violence are unavoidably “collectivized” or “socialized.” Ralph imposed a cost on everyone in the community, and the closest we can come to transferring that cost back to Ralph — to “internalizing” the cost that this externality imposed — is to have a constitutional liberal republican institution, the Night Watchman State, act as an agent of the community in general in responding to Ralph. This principle also has implications for self-defense and for ascertaining who is or is not deserving of what is believed to be “retaliatory force.”

If Ralph bruises his wife, he might rough up other people as well. Therefore, if you learn of this abuse, it is necessarily your business and the business of everyone else in the community. You are right to take action even in defiance of the wife’s protests. Contrary to her assertions, she is not the exclusive victim. The same applies if you learn a young woman was raped by a relative. Even if she sternly pronounces she is the solo victim and therefore it is not your place to intervene, that is not accurate. It is your business and everyone else’s.

The only sorts of instances when people truly can consent to being acted violently upon are sporting events and rough sexual acts. Two men and their agents can all mutually sign contracts affirming that the two men consent to getting into a boxing ring and bashing one another for the audience’s amusement. Likewise, two or more people might consent to rough S&M. Note that, due to the riskiness of such actions, it is legitimate for there to be some government oversight when people allegedly explicitly consent to the risk of becoming objects of physical harm. It is legitimate for the government to investigate the contractual capacity of a man who says he consents to entering a boxing match. Likewise, it is incumbent upon participants in BDSM to agree upon safe words ahead of time and to take precautions to ensure that no one is physically harmed beyond what he or she reasonably expected.


Is a Constitutional Liberal Republican Night-Watchman-State Initiating the Use of Force Against Private Vigilantes?
We say that it is evil to initiate the use of force, but that there is moral justification for retaliatory force against the party that initiated the use of force. That is correct, but this principle is widely misunderstood by too many libertarians, particularly those who proclaim that it would be evil for a “monopolistic” constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State to “monopolize” the issuance of such force.

Imagine that a gang called the Lombards mugs me and give me black-and-blues. Subsequent to some healing, I round up a group of friends and, without telling our constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, my friends and I seek out the Lombards to return the favor. That would be justice, correct? It would simply be issuing retaliatory force against the Lombards, correct? Therefore, say many libertarians such as Murray N. Rothbard, we should consider how wrong it would be when, as my friends and I seek out the Lombards for vengeance, the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State sends out police to arrest my friends and me. The constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State would arrest us on the grounds that we are petty vigilantes. This is wrong, cry Rothbard and his followers. My friends and I were not initiating the use of force, but merely intended to issue retaliatory force. Therefore, goes the Rothbardian conclusion, when the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State arrests my friends and me, it is the State initiating the use of force against my friends and me, and for the purpose of maintaining its MONOPOLY on violence, to boot!

Here is what the Rothbardian argument overlooks: in the long term, there can be no morally justified issues of retaliatory force unless the widespread adherence to Due Process takes priority. Moreover, adherence to Due Process is inherently “monopolistic.” I will explain what I mean by that.

In most instances where a private citizen initiates the use of force against someone, this is done in secret. If Ralph murders Jake, he will probably not do this out in the open — he will do this someplace hidden and then dispose of the body in such a way that it will not be obvious that Ralph committed the misdeed. The same goes for rapes. If Ralph rapes Jake, this will probably be out of view of most people. The same applies to most forms of theft committed by private citizens. Therefore, when a private citizen is accused of initiating the use of force against yet another citizen, it is seldom obvious that the accusation is true. And that is the snag that bedevils all vigilante gangs that, in commissions of violence, claim to be issuing what is merely retaliatory force against the party that initiated the use of force.

Suppose that a man named Cletus catches his daughter, Emma, having sex with a low-status man, Alfonzo, who is of a racial minority. Cletus is horrified, and then Emma immediately tells Cletus that she was not consenting; she insists to her father that Alfonzo was raping her. Alfonzo professes on his innocence, shouting to Cletus that Emma gave affirmative consent. Cletus immediately believes Emma over Alfonzo. Cletus gets together his neighbors and they corner Alfonzo, breaking everyone bone in his body.

Here, a Rothbardian might rationalize the following: if it turns out that Emma was lying, and that Alfonzo was telling the truth, then what Cletus and the mob did to Alfonzo was wrong. Cletus and the mob initiated the use of force against a wrongfully accused man. However, continues the Rothbardian rationalization, if it later turns out that Alfonzo really had raped Emma, then what Cletus and the mob did was OK, however reckless they were in rushing to judgment. Because it turned out that Alfonzo had initiated the use of force against Emma after all, what Cletus and the mob did to Alfonzo was merely issuing retaliatory force, which renders the actions of Cletus and the mob justified.

Is that reasoning correct? No, it is not.

In rushing to judgment — carrying out the full brunt of violence so quickly in the absence of evidence, Cletus and the mob were acting so recklessly that they gave everyone a probable cause to ascertain that Cletus and the mob are a violent threat to everyone. It is wrong to conclude, so simply, that the violence that Cletus and his neighbors issued was justified if it later turned out that Emma’s rape accusation was true. There are cases of people being falsely accused of all sorts of initiations of the use of force. There were many cases of black men being falsely accused of initiations of the use of force in the South during the Jim Crow era, and they were lynched by vigilante mobs — by private parties acting independently of, or in “competition” against, the “monopolistic” federal government.

Should it be the case that Alfonzo was falsely accused, it is obvious that Cletus and the mob initiated the use of force against him. However, if it turned out subsequently that Alfonzo did rape Emma, that would not let Cletus and his neighbors off the hook. Because they got away with behaving so recklessly this time, there is nothing that would discourage them from behaving at least as recklessly once someone else in the community makes a similar accusation — more likely, this angry mob will feel emboldened. Every time Cletus and his neighbors exact what they judge to be “private” vigilante justice — retaliatory force in the absence of Due Process — it ratchets up the likelihood of Cletus and his neighbors violently injuring a falsely accused person on the subsequent occasion.

Issuing supposedly retaliatory violence, in the absence of Due Process, is so reckless a violent threat that, regardless of the status of the accused, it poses a violent threat to everyone. You have probable cause to believe that if a private party exacts “private” retaliatory force with impunity, absent Due Process, you are at risk of being that private party’s next target. Therefore, for private parties to issue ostensively “retaliatory” force, absent of Due Process, against someone accused of initiating the use of force, is itself an initiation of the use of force. This, too, violently imposes a cost on everyone; it is a violently imposed cost on society that is “collectivized” or “socialized.” That principle applies regardless of whether the object of the private vigilante gang’s wrath was in fact guilty of the infraction for which he was initially accused.

Moreover, if Emma lied about being raped, she would be an accessory to Cletus’s initiation of the use of force against Alfonzo. If you go around seriously accusing someone of having initiated the use of force against you, you create the great likelihood that someone — either private acquaintances or the government — will threaten violence upon the accused. Hence, falsely accusing someone of initiating the use of force is not free speech but itself an initiation of the use of force.

It is a fact that when someone is accused of initiating the use of force, it is seldom obvious whether he was guilty of doing what he was accused of doing. This fact is what renders the principle of legal Due Process to be all-important. Due Process is the single most significant safeguard against the implementation of the most brutally violent punishment of people who are falsely accused. Due Process is thus essential to minimizing and preventing the initiation of the use of force. If you are to stop or minimize the initiation of the use of force, you must prioritize Due Process over any imaginary right to “compete” with the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State in the “industry” of issuing “retaliatory” force.


Killing an Assailant in the Middle of His Attack Does Not Bypass Due Process
If you are being immediately assaulted, you have every right to defend yourself violently; you need not wait for the police or any judges; you should simply act as soon as possible. Doing so, though, is not acting absent of Due Process in a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State. Should you kill an assailant, Due Process requires that the police at least question you about it afterward. If their investigation leads them to suspect that perhaps your violent act was not in self-defense, they might gather the evidence and have you tell your story on the witness stand. Thus, immediate acts of self-defense, where you kill an assailant, remain subject to Due Process rules in a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State.

The same principle applies if you intervene during an assault. If you catch Alfonzo holding a knife to Emma’s throat and forcing himself upon her, you need not wait for police; you would be justified in attacking Alfonzo immediately. Once again, that would not be bypassing Due Process — the police of a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State would question you afterward.

The immediacy of the threat justifies that you act before any explaining can be done to police or a judge. The same cannot be said of any supposedly “retaliatory” violence that takes place after the fact — that is, any supposedly “retaliatory” violence that takes place hours or days after the initial initiation of the use of force had already commenced and ended. If Emma tells Cletus on Monday that Alfonzo raped her hours ago, and then Cletus and his neighbors hunt after Alfonzo on Tuesday, that is issuing vigilante violence after the fact. These vigilantes would not have the excuse that there was still an emergency that justified that they act immediately, independent of police or judges.


Initiations of the Use of Force Cannot Be Minimized in the Absence of Due Process
I will go briefly over what happens during Due Process. Due Process requires that before police can issue the full brunt of violent punishment upon an accused person, the police must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the accused truly did initiate the use of force as accused. In the process, the police must conduct an investigation. There is potential for abuse in any investigation, and that is why the courts exist as a check against police and overzealous prosecutors. Before the police can search anything related to someone suspected of initiating the use of force, the police must first obtain a warrant. They obtain this warrant by presenting sufficient evidence to a judge that there is probable cause to discern that the accused might be guilty. Should the police fail to present enough evidence, the judge can deny the warrant and thwart the police’s efforts. It is true that if the police obtain a warrant to search my home, when I have been falsely suspected of initiating the use of force, the police do impose some threat of violence upon me, an innocent man. If they get a warrant to search my home and I violently defend my home against their intrusion, they become authorized to increase the violence against me. Still, there is no way around this; nongovernmental parties have done no better.

Once the police gather enough evidence to make them confident that they can win a conviction, they make an arrest, and Due Process continues to apply. The police often must read Miranda rights when apprehending the suspect; the suspect is to get a phone call and, if he cannot afford his own counsel, it is provided to him by the State itself. The police must then unload all their evidence before a judge and jury. Should the judge and jury discern that the police and prosecution have failed to prove, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the accused did indeed commit the initiation of the use of force, the judge or jury can override and veto the police and prosecution by refusing to acquit.

Although the police and prosecution do impose some threat of force as they conduct the investigation and then apprehend the suspect, as well as in subpoenaing witnesses, the Due Process procedures nevertheless place a sequence of procedural roadblocks to prevent the police and prosecution from implementing the full brunt of force that a vigilante gang would; they cannot unload brutally violent penalization right away as a vigilante gang would. Despite the imperfections of how a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State allows for police to investigate, the Due Process is a great improvement over what lynch mobs and other vigilante parties have done. Due Process is therefore integral to protecting people from the severest initiations of the use of force from private parties. Absent of the Due Process, people would frequently be falsely accused of initiating the use of force and then be “punished” with extreme violence. That would maximize the initiations of the use of force.

It is true that sometimes not even Due Process being followed consistently has been enough to forestall all wrongful convictions. Someone being wrongfully convicted is an initiation of the use of force against the wrongfully convicted. There are therefore two notes to make about this. First, this is a good reason why there should be a moratorium on scheduled executions. If someone is wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison, only for him to be exonerated 20 years later, that is horrifying and tragic, but at least the wrongfully imprisoned convict can be released. By contrast, if someone is executed and later shown to be innocent, there is nothing that can be done to repair that. Secondly, more-liberal republics have behaved worse than private vigilantes no more than the degree to which those more-liberal republics have veered away from strict adherence to the principles of a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State. To the degree that a government has adhered to the principles of a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, it has behaved no worse than have private vigilante mobs.

I have previously argued that it is possible for a government to deny freedom consistently to citizens even as it upholds Due Process.  I stand by that argument.  Still, it is also the case that, in the long term, freedom cannot survive in the absence of Due Process.  That is:  Due Process can be maintained even when freedom is eliminated, but freedom cannot be maintained if Due Process is eliminated.


Minimizing Initiations of the Use of Force Requires That Information on the Context Behind All Acts of Violence Be Accessible to the Entire Literate Public
Constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman States also institute another safeguard in Due Process: the public accessibility of information on cases dealing with violence. Note that criminal trials are public information. Should Ralph be accused of something terribly embarrassing that stigmatizes him — such as him being accused of rape — the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State is to make all information on the case available to the public. Some might say that such information being publicly available is cruel because it will publicly shame Ralph and stigmatize him. In reality, the information being publicly available is for the protection of everyone in the community, including Ralph himself.

Suppose I see Eli and Wilson getting into a public altercation. I did not witness the start of the battle, but I am seeing what is probably the end of it. Eli is winning the battle, beating Wilson to a pulp. I immediately conclude that Wilson is the innocent victim of Eli, and I go and beat up Eli. Eli protests that actually he was minding his own business when Wilson came at him with a knife. Eli insists that I came upon them soon after Eli disarmed Wilson and simply continued beating up Wilson to ensure that Wilson would not be strong enough to renew his attack. Wilson insists that Eli is lying — it was Wilson who was being peaceful when Eli sprang upon him. As I beat up Eli, another passerby — George — sees us. George instantly concludes that Eli is an innocent victim whom I took the initiative to launch an attack on, and therefore George rushes to Eli’s rescue and pummels me. Then another passerby catches sight of us and rushes in. This can go on and on.

When witnessing a violent dispute between two parties, people can immediately pick a side and join the violence. When someone picks a side, he believes he is fighting on behalf of the aggrieved party against the aggressor who initiated the assault. Most likely, though, he is recklessly acting on insufficient knowledge and endangering everyone violently just as Cletus and his pals did in the prior scenario.

Therefore, people need to have a single place in their municipality where all the germane information about the dispute between Eli and Wilson can be accessed, and where impartial investigators can ascertain who initiated the use of force. That is why it is important to have Eli and Wilson go to court and each explain their respective cases and present their own evidence. Consistent with the principles of a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, everyone in the community is to know that if they want to learn who was the aggressor and who was the victim in the Wilson-Eli confrontation, they can retrieve it from the same source: the courthouse.

If you have been threatened with violence, or if it has already been inflicted upon you, you may be justified in fearing that if you come forward to authorities with this information, that it might put you at risk of being subjected to violent reprisals from the assailant. For that reason, in the short term it may be rational that you tell but a few people about this circumstance and ask them to keep it secret in the foreseeable future. However, that can only go so far. There is probable cause for the law to inquire as to whether this alleged assailant may pose a violent threat to parties besides you and therefore, in the long run, the protection of every peaceful person’s rights requires that this information ultimately be publicly available. On that basis, a right to privacy does not extend to any credible accusation that you can level about someone either threatening violence or having committed it.

Upon objective examination, impartial investigators — the judge and jury — should also ascertain what is the proper punishment for the party that initiated the violence. If not for impartial investigators conducting an objective examination, private vigilantes will easily become overzealous in deciding what is the righteous punishment. For instance, if someone accidentally dings my car, I might decide it is morally justified retaliation to chop off all that person’s fingers. Part of having cases held before the public, and having public representatives — a jury and judge — deciding on the proper punishment, is to practice the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State principle of stopping mindless violence, meting out no more violent punishment than what properly befits the proven charges.

Returning to the risk of wrongful convictions, the information from criminal trials being publicly available is another Due-Process guard against that. You can follow a public trial on your own accord. If you ascertain that there was anything amiss in the procedure that led to the conviction — that the evidence was insufficient or tainted — you can go through republican channels to help the convict receive another trial or to have the case reopened. If we are to stop two factions — one siding with Eli and the other siding with Wilson — from entering into a tit-for-tat sequence of violent reprisals against one another, each side believing it is fighting for the one who started as an innocent victim, then information on who initiated the use of force against whom must be publicly available. Likewise, in order to guard against an innocent person receiving the full brunt of violence as punishment for an infraction for which he was wrongfully convicted, the details of his trial must be public. Those two considerations are further evidence that violence cannot be privatized Once again: violence, even in self-defense, is inevitably a public matter and is everyone’s rightful business to know about.

Vigilante violence is justified only to the degree that the government is too corrupt to follow Due Process anyway. If you live in a kleptocracy such as Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, and your property is stolen, it is unrealistic to expect the police to catch the culprits. They will only do anything for you if you bribe them first. Only when the system is so corrupt that vigilante action cannot be more dangerous than the illiberal government itself, can vigilante action be justified. By contrast, the degree to which a government is a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State is the degree to which it has eliminated corruption. Insofar as you live under a Night Watchman State that consistently practices constitutional liberal republicanism, vigilante action cannot be justified.


A State’s Ability to Minimize Initiations of the Use of Force on Its Own Territory Is Weakened to the Degree That It Tolerates Neighboring States’ Disregard for Due Process
Also notice that whenever people in a region feel aggrieved and demand “retaliatory force” against aggressors, justice can be served in that region no more than the degree to which the parties issuing retaliatory violence adhere to the principles of Due Process. Consider two U.S. states adjacent to one another — say, Utah and Colorado. Imagine that Utah strictly adheres to Due Process while Colorado lets private vigilante mobs issue what they capriciously deem to be retaliatory justice. Also imagine that there are many homes along the border separating Utah from Colorado. If vigilantes run rampant in Colorado, then there will eventually develop a long-running feud where, as in the case of the Wilson-Eli example, two factions go to war, committing reprisals against one another, each side believing to have aligned itself with the initial victim. (Note that this was the mentality behind many long-running mutual grudges, animosities, and wars between rival American Indian tribes, such as the Pequot versus the Narragansett.) There will come a day when these mutual reprisals reach the homes along the Utah-Colorado border, and then Utahns will be affected. Therefore, if Utah practices Due Process whereas Colorado ignores it, it is not the case that Utahns can merrily enjoy their own freedom while remaining oblivious to the violent chaos in Colorado. If your society is a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State that practices Due Process, whereas states adjacent to yours avoid Due Process, it is the case that those neighboring states’ avoidance of Due Process will cause a spillover; there will be initiations of the use of force that originate in the neighboring states and encroach upon your own state.

That is why, the more ubiquitous a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State’s Due Process rules become, the safer everyone becomes. If Colorado becomes a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State that consistently enforces Due Process, that does not merely render Colorado safer; it commensurately renders Utah safer as well. It is therefore in Utah’s interest for Colorado to be a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State that adheres to Due Process. For a more real-world example, consider the U.S.-Mexican border. Many of the genuine problems that exist along the border are wrongfully blamed on immigration per se or on Mexicans speaking a different language and peaceably practicing customs not so familiar to native-born U.S. citizens. To the degree that there is real violence along the border, it is a consequence — sometimes direct, sometimes indirect — of Mexico’s failures at being a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman States that maintains Due Process. This is not to say that the United States has some duty to annex Mexico to itself and impose its own liberalization on Mexico. This is to say, though, that the degree to which Mexico becomes a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, enforcing Due Process, not merely benefits Mexicans but likewise benefits the United States. Moreover, although the USA’s influence over Mexico is no more than indirect, the fact that the USA is more politically and militarily powerful than Mexico does allow for the USA to exert some indirect influence over Mexico’s policies. Although Mexico is nowhere near as constitutionally liberal republican as the USA would prefer, Mexico would probably be liberalizing at a slower rate than it is presently, were it not for the example that the USA sets for it.


All Violence, Even in Self-Defense, As Inherently Monopolistic
This indicates how the wielding of violence is inherently “monopolistic.” When one violence-issuing agency possesses firepower superior to those of other violence-issuing agencies around it, that one most powerful violence-issuing agency is able to influence the policies of those other violence-issuing agencies, be it directly or indirectly. The most direct form of influence is annexation, wherein the metropole conquers the other violence-wielding agency wholly and annexes that other violence-wielding agency to the empire controlled by the metropole. An example would be Great Britain conquering India. If the dominant violence-wielding agency does not annex the other agencies directly, it can still influence the other agencies, indirectly, to change their policies by reminding them that the dominant agency could defeat the other agencies in battle if they refuse to comply with the dominant agency’s wishes. An example of that would be how a particularly powerful Islamic theocracy can influence nearby Muslim-majority countries even if it does not rule them directly.

Sometimes even when two adjoining nation-state seem diametrically opposed in governing philosophy, the stronger nation-state can influence the actions of the weaker. For example, South Korea is a more-liberal, more-capitalistic republic. By contrast, North Korea might be the most consistently communist nation-state on the planet. It would therefore initially seem that South Korea exerts zero influence over the North. Still, South Korea is able to exert influence in one respect: its superior firepower has been able to hold North Korea at bay. If not for South Korea’s superior firepower, or the fact that U.S. troops are stationed near the border, the dictator of North Korea could expand his own reach, pushing his borders out and overtaking the rest of Asia. South Korea and the United States still influence North Korea subtly in that they keep North Korea’s dominion relatively contained. The dictator of North Korea wants more of a regional monopoly on power, but this is challenged by the greater monopolistic power of South Korea and the USA.

Here is a more basic example of how violence is inherently monopoly-seeking. Suppose a man named Barnie is trying to beat me up for no reason. Clearly he is monopolistically imposing his own will upon me. However, if I fight back in self-defense, or call the police to defend me, I am also being monopolistic. By acting in defense of my own rights to be carry on peaceably, I am monopolistically, violently imposing my own constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State principles upon Barnie. If you are advocating the principles of a liberal republican Night Watchman State, there is one respect in which you are in a zero-sum competition against everyone who holds a differing interpretation of what constitutes a just model of society. You are in disagreement with all rival interpreters of what constitutes a justified use of violence and what constitutes an initiation of the use of force. Thus, if you get your way, then the opponents of the constitutional-liberal-republican Night-Watchman-State philosophy cannot have their way — and, vice versa, you cannot have their way if the opponents of the Night Watchman State philosophy have their way.

If Bernie Sanders influences what happens in your government, he monopolistically imposes his interpretation upon you — you have to live under his rules, which will be violently enforced. By contrast, if you get to institute a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, you will be in the right, but your principles will still be violently — monopolistically — enforced on socialists who insist that there is no right to private property and no one can be said to have rightfully earned a billion dollars’ worth of assets. If socialists say they are going to take what is rightfully theirs by violently raiding your mansion, what you call self-defense will still be considered by those socialists to be a violent, monopolistic imposition of your philosophy upon them.

Just as it is said that nature abhors a vacuum, all violence — even in what I judge to be rightful self-defense — is necessarily a monopolistic assertion of the will of the person using the violence, the will being monopolistically asserted upon the object of that violence.

Furthermore, for argument’s sake, we might imagine the following: suppose, in a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, a private party decides to conduct its own investigation on whether another party initiated the use of force. However, this private investigating party scrupulously decides to avoid being a vigilante mob rushing to judgment. This private investigative party adheres to all the necessary rules of Due Process. Should this private investigative party conduct itself in this manner, it ceases to be a private party acting in competition against the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, as it is necessarily playing by that (monopolistic) constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State’s rules. Therefore, the degree to which that private investigative party acts in accordance with the principles of the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State is the degree to which that investigative party ceases to be “private” and instead becomes a mere agent of that constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State. Hence the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State maintains its monopolistic authority over interpretation of what constitutes proper criminal justice procedures in the region.


Competing Justice Systems?
Now, there are apologists for the notion that all government — including that of a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State — should be replaced by a system of competing, private protection agencies. When I bring up the issue of Due Process, there are two factions among the competing-protection-agencies apologists. One camp answers that it is not necessary to have Due Process be ubiquitous throughout all such agencies. The other camp answers that all such agencies will follow Due Process but they will not converge into any sort of monopolistic hegemony. I will address the former camp first.

The first camp is represented by David D. Friedman (son of Milton Friedman) in The Machinery of Freedom. David Friedman says that a major selling point of the competing-protection-agency system is that you will be able to shop for a wide variety of different types of legal systems. You could pledge yourself and your children to live by the rules of a socialist protection agency. You could sign up yourself and your kids to a religious fundamentalist protection agency, whereby you contractually agree that if you or your kids are caught masturbating, you contractually consent to the perpetrator receiving some violent punishment. You could sign up yourself and your 14-year-old daughter to a protection agency that says that you contractually agree that if your 14-year-old daughter is caught receiving an abortion, the protection agency will come down hard on both your daughter and whomever is administering the abortion.

David D. Friedman argues that product differentiation and service differentiation are forms of competition. I will give an example of this in my own phrasing (this is my analogy; not David Friedman’s): cola is a distinct flavor. If you do not like the flavor of orange juice, you can purchase a beverage with the flavor of cola. By the same token, different protection agencies would compete by offering different sets of rules — rules which you contractually agree you can be violently punished over if you break them. David D. Friedman is indeed correct that differentiation in features among products is a form of competition. If we follow that logic, though, that means that the more alike the different brands become to one another in the same industry, the less competitive they become. If all fossil fuels become fungible regardless of the brand selling them, that makes them less competitive. Therefore, the more alike the competing brands become — the more they converge in having all the same features — the more they become a cartel. That is, they become more like a monopoly or, in the case of agencies that sell “protection,” the more they act as a single cartel-lish hegemony.

That is where the difficulties begin. David D. Friedman argues that there are two major selling points to what he proposes:

  1. Having competing private defense agencies will maximize consumer satisfaction by tailoring their sets of laws to what individual consumers want. This could result in many different types of justice systems.
  2. This will reduce the initiations of the use of force against everyone.

David D. Friedman fails to observe that 1 and 2 contradict one another. If the head of a household can contractually pledge that his own children can be violently punished by the agency hired if those children break the agency’s rules, then the rights of children will be violated by any agency that does not adhere to the standards of a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State. Suppose Mack contractually agrees that the private protection agency he chose may violently punish Mack’s 10-year-old son, Zane, if Zane is caught masturbating. Then Zane is caught masturbating. Therefore, the protection agency issues corporal punishment upon Zane. Thus, selling point 2 is violated — allowing for people to sign up their children for justice systems other than a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State one will result in initiations of the use of force being applied to children.

By contrast, imagine what would happen if all the competing private defense agencies ended up adopting the standards of the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, including Due Process. They would cease to come in so many different “flavors.” By becoming more alike, they would become more of a cartel, more of a monopoly. And having a monopoly was what the apologists of competing private protection agencies were trying to avoid from the outset.

They also presume that all the different agencies would be roughly equal in terms of their firepower and influence. As we noted earlier, some governments are more powerful than others, and a particularly powerful government can end up influencing other governments’ policies. In the nineteenth century, such a tiny metropole as England was able to influence the policies in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, and vast regions throughout Africa. England’s influence was so vast that it was said that “the sun never sets on the British Empire.” Centuries earlier, the metropole of Mongolia influenced the laws in China, Russia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and even Austria. Prior to the end of World War Two, the metropole that was Japan influenced the policies in Burma, China, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

There is no reason to believe that this situation would change under supposedly “competing” private defense agencies. If private protection agency A can overwhelm B, C, and D, it can influence them two ways. A can overthrow their managers and annex their clients outright. However, if all four of these agencies fear open conflict, it does not follow that B, C, and D have escaped A’s influence: A can remind them that B, C, and D would likely lose in open conflict with A, and therefore it is best that B, C, and D adopt some policies A wants them to adopt. Should that happen, A will still be exerting monopolistic, hegemonic influence over the other agencies — what was supposed to be avoided.

Conversely, if B, C, and D join forces and vanquish A, it will be the case that insofar as B, C, and D act in concert, they themselves are joining together to act as a single hegemonic cartel. Competition between two agencies that issue violence should not be thought of as being a baseball game where both teams play by the same rules. Rather, it will be the case that the team with the most points after the first four innings will have the opportunity to rewrite the rules for both teams and even force the losing team to play by a different set of rules.

Now suppose that there are people subscribed both to agencies A and B who live in the same geographic region. Also suppose that proclaims itself to govern under constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State principles whereas B allows parents living under its system to molest their own children. In such a case, what the pro-competing-agencies’ advocates have touted as Selling Point 2 — that the protection of individual rights against force will be maximized — will fail to materialize. Note that not even the people living under agency A will have maximum protection against the threat of the initiation of the use of force, and this is for the same reason that not even the freer Utahns were maximally safe under my prior scenario about Utah and Colorado. In this case, because people under both agencies A and B dwell near one another, the illiberalism of B will spill over into the lives of people dwelling under A, imposing the initiation of the use of force onto the people trying to get by under A. People under A would gain maximum freedom if A pressures B into being more of constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State — but then A would be acting as a monopolistic hegemony, and that is the condition that the competing-agencies partisans wanted abolished.

Now, let us return to the topic of children’s rights. Suppose the Parsons family subscribes to Protection Service A, which does not recognize 8-year-olds to be contractually competent to consent to sex with fully grown adults. Conversely, Protection Service B does believe that 8-year-olds hold the contractual capacity to engage in sex with adults. The 8-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Parsons runs away to live with a 40-year-old lover subscribed to Protection Service B. Mr. and Mrs. Parsons demand that Protection Service A retrieve their daughter from the clutches of her adult lover. In turn, the adult lover asks Protection Service B to stop Service A from forcibly seizing his 8-year-old lover. After all, since Service B considers the 8-year-old to be living with and having sex with the 40-year-old man on her own free will, it follows that B should interpret A’s forcible retrieval of the 8-year-old as A’s attempt to abduct the 8-year-old.

David D. Friedman assures readers that should such a disagreement emerge between two protection agencies, no violent skirmish will result. There will be no violent skirmish, say David Friedman and Murray N. Rothbard, because both agencies realize that, upon a cost-benefit analysis, they will lose more money and lives by fighting for their beliefs rather than trying to work out some compromise. Ergo, conclude Rothbard and David Friedman, they will work out some compromise; a violent skirmish is precluded. That is false reasoning, as Sir Norman Angell shows us.

In the years leading up to the First World War, Sir Norman Angell penned his book The Great Illusion. This work argued that, on a cost-benefit analysis, if Germany fights a war against Great Britain, Germany will incur a net loss from the conflict even if Germany wins the war. Critics therefore assumed that Sir Norman was saying that it was impossible that an Anglo-German war would erupt; they said that the war breaking out refuted Sir Norman. But Sir Norman did not say what critics assumed he did. He did not say that the cost-benefit analysis precludes Germany from warring against Great Britain. What he said was that if Germany did war against Great Britain, Germany would incur a net loss from the war even if it won. That is an important distinction. Just because many people consider it obvious that A will incur a net loss if it engages in a skirmish against B, it does not follow that this consideration precludes A from engaging in said skirmish.

Suppose, for argument’s sake, though, that Protection Services A and B both decide not to defend their respective principles relentlessly; instead they try to negotiate. The clientele on each side will be disappointed. Mr. and Mrs. Parsons ascertain that their daughter, not being contractually competent, is being violated by sex with the 40-year-old adult, and their daughter has an absolute right not to succumb to statutory rape. Conversely, the 40-year-old and the little girl believe they have an absolute right to their sexual activity. If Protection Services A and B negotiate some compromise, both services will fail to uphold the principles they promised to uphold.

The problem is not solved if both protection services agree to take the case to a private arbitrator who will wholly rule in favor of one side over the other. Both disputing parties will say, “What is there to hash over? We already know the facts of the situation; the only disagreement is over the principle of whether it is right to allow a 40-year-old to have sex with an 8-year-old. Our side already knows it is morally right. Thus, this can only be settled through force, and the one satisfactory solution is for our side to emerge wholly victorious in the violent conflict, the other side granting an unconditional surrender.”


The Conflict of Interest for a Private Protection Agency
This brings to light the flaw in the other rejoinder I receive: that I should be OK with competing private violence agencies because they will become nearly uniform in upholding Due Process and avoiding skirmishes against one another. Never mind that their becoming so alike will reduce their competitiveness and make them more like a cartel and therefore the monopoly that was supposed to have been precluded. The complication arrives when apologists for this system proclaim that both of the following outcomes will be reached:

  1. Every private, for-profit firm recognizes that the customer is always right. Therefore, each private protection agency will seek to accommodate the tastes of its clients as much as possible, catering to what they want. A private protection agency will loyally protect its clients more fiercely than any constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State would, since that Night Watchman State would be a complacent and sluggish monopoly not driven by the utmost market-based incentives.
  2. Initiations of the use of force will be minimized; defenses of individual rights will be maximized.

Any private protection agency that aspires to fulfill both outcomes will ultimately find itself in a conflict of interest. There will come a day when the firm will gain a client who has indeed initiated the use of force. That client will not ask that his own protection agency punish him, but that the protection agency shield him from any punishment.

Here is a basic example. I am subscribed to Protection Agency A. Wayne is subscribed to Protection Agency B. I burglarize Wayne’s home; I take his television set, computer, paintings, and other valuables. I readily admit to Protection Agency A that I engaged in this theft. Now, because I have already paid Protection Agency A with good money (money I had stolen from previous victims), I expect Protection Agency A to protect me when Protection Agency B seeks to retrieve for Wayne his stolen property.

Here, again, the apologists assure us that there will be no violent skirmish between Protection Agencies A and B. Instead, they will try to negotiate some deal. I tell Protection Service A, “That is not what I am paying you for. There is no need for some fact-finding mission. I admit to everyone that I took Wayne’s property. You agreed to defend me against force. I expect that from you. Do your job.”

If Protection Agency A is offended by my demand and extradites me to Protection Service B, that will fulfill Agency A’s mission of upholding everyone’s rights, but it will renege on Protection Service A‘s promise to maximize consumer satisfaction.

The apologists for the competing-protection-agency system will reply that for the maximization of individual rights protection to be achieved, it is not the case that any of the protection agencies must explicitly promise to uphold everyone’s individual rights. The competing-agency proponents reply that each protection agency will only be loyal to its own clientele, and when each agency cares only about its own clientele, the inadvertent result will be that individual rights protection will be maximized. They liken this to how, if both buyers and sellers each look out for their own interest and not the others’, this will still result in a compromise on price where the fairest price is reached. Likewise, one might say that republicans expect the maximization of individual rights protection to emerge in courts when both the prosecution and defense care only about itself and not about justice in general.

The apologists’ argument fails to acknowledge what is absolute and what is not. Vendors want to charge the highest possible price, and consumers want to pay the lowest possible price. They end up compromising somewhere in the middle on price, but that compromise does not violate anyone’s principles or show any leniency to the initiation of the use of force. By contrast, if both Protection Agencies A and B are both aware that I initiated the use of force upon Wayne, and yet they both still haggle over how I can make this up to Wayne, then the implication is that Wayne’s individual rights are subject to compromise. But individual rights are absolute, rendering them nonnegotiable; to compromise them is to violate them utterly. If your Protection Agency is willing to compromise what you believe to be your rights, then your Protection Agency does not believe that those are your rights.

Defenders of the competing-agencies system might also say that republicans expect the maximization of individual rights protection to emerge in courts when both the prosecution and defense care only about itself and not about justice in general. They can say, “Both prosecution and defense only care about winning, and yet the republic expects that justice will emerge as a result of each side only caring about its own victory. How is that worse than expecting justice to emerge as a result of Protection Services A and B prioritizing its own victory above any common interpretation of what is objectively just?”

Yet it is not true that in the court system, the prosecution unconditionally seeks a conviction. When new evidence turns up to exonerate a defendant, the prosecution is to drop the case. The reason is that in a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State, the stated purpose of the prosecution side is not to imprison every defendant at all costs, but simply to protect the entire commonwealth from the threat of those who would initiate the use of force. The system tolerates the defense attorney trying to win at all costs because there is a power imbalance between the State, which the prosecution represents, and the private defense counsel. The defense normally has an uphill battle, and the handicapping — letting the defense try to win, while insisting that the prosecution drop weak cases — is to even the odds. If, confronting new evidence of a defendant’s innocence, the prosecution drops the case, the prosecution is not succumbing to a conflict of interest, as the prosecution’s goal is to uphold everyone’s rights.

By contrast, if, in the interest of protecting rights as a whole, Protection Service A surrenders me to Protection Service B, Protection Service A is indeed succumbing to a conflict of interest: it breaks its pledge to cater to what the clients want. There are many people who want to get away with initiating the use of force, and they are willing to pay money to thugs who would protect them against justice — there is a lot of consumer demand for that. If Protection Service A decides to negotiate the terms of my surrender — trying to negotiate Protection Service B into showing me some mercy — that is still an instance of Service A betraying me. If apologists for the competing-protection-agencies system insist that the final result of their system will be maximum justice and maximum individual rights protection for all, then they must abandon their attempt to argue, as a selling point, that their system is also good on account of each protection service being incentivized to fight harder and better for its clients than would a defense counsel provided to a defendant in a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State.


Anything Peaceful Is Private and Should Be Nongovernmental; All Violence Is of Public Importance and Must Concern the Night Watchman State
The one crucial distinction between governmental and nongovernmental organizations is that governmental organizations have the threat of socially approved violence on their side. As we know, private parties can indeed initiate the use of force. But when they do initiate the use of force, this is properly considered wrong, and most people properly expect the government to punish those private parties. Contrariwise, when the government threatens violence to enforce its own rules, the government is acting in accordance with its proper job description. The government’s authority derives from its ability to threaten socially approved violence. Violence is what characterizes any and all government, including liberal republican Night Watchman States. Where there is no threat of violence, there is no government.

Because government is nothing but socially approved violence, any enterprise that can be performed peaceably can be performed absent of government involvement. Anytime you are involved in a peaceful activity, you are right to tell disapproving third parties that that they have no business to impose their disapproval violently upon you, and they ought to butt out. Thus, any worthwhile enterprise that can be achieved peaceably should be privatized. Your child’s education is an instance of this. If other people disapprove of how you educate your children, demanding that the State indoctrinate them in ways you do not wish, you should tell those third parties to mind their own business. Another peaceable enterprise is public libraries. Prior to city governments intruding in this area, massive public libraries funded themselves peaceably by charging periodic subscriptions to patrons who frequented these libraries and checked books out of them.

That which is peaceful is private and should therefore be absent of governmental interference. Yet, by the same token, any violence that occurs anywhere, even if inflicted in putative self-defense, can never be privatized and should therefore be of concern to the public and the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State.

That consideration is even how the term republic came to be. That which the ancient Romans considered private and nongovernmental, they called res privata — the private matters. At the same time, that which was violent and therefore necessarily of public concern was called res publica — the public matter. As violence is necessarily a public threat that cannot be isolated to private individuals or private resolution, any and every act of violence must be addressed by the “monopolistic” government of a free republic.