Chaim S. Responds on Circumcision and the Non Aggression Principle

In response to my post on circumcision being a violation of the NAP with accompanying Halachic proof from the case of a baby born circumcised, Chaim S. writes the following, references at bottom. I don’t agree with it all, but Chaim is obviously a knowledgeable libertarian and knows a bit about the halachic system. I make a few notes in bold. I think the core difference between me and him is that he believes, as I once did, the Platonist version of the Halachic system, which believes that there is an ultimate system at its peak and that we need to reconstruct it. I am more of a constructivist, which does not mean I am Conservative or Reform, but I do believe that Halacha is more bendy than he makes it out to be. My tendency is that anything in Halacha that violates the NAP I bend away, unless I really, really can’t, like circumcision. I believe this is legitimate halachically. He may not.

Anyway, here are his words:

Rafi says God commanded us to “violate it [the NAP] in the case of circumcision” [6]. On EPJ [2] you add: “I believe God has commanded me to follow the NAP in (almost) every other case I can think of”. I agree. But this cannot be compared to “Minarchy” – which you started off with [3].

The only acceptable Torah model is a zero state! There is a senate (Sanhedrin) and constitution (Torah), whose members must be accepted by the public, but these are purely religious, and so have delineated duties of ensuring the public welfare (physical and spiritual). This is equivalent to membership in a community with its own rules. I disagree with the nascent Sanhedrin’s political model [4]. There is no parliament nor mob rule, no congress nor dictatorship. “Theocracy” (as put by Josephus) is a neat description, but not in the Iranian sense of a clericalist dictatorship. See more on the democratic nature of criminal justice in Chazon Ish Yoreh Deah 2:16 (end). Law enforcement, to exist, must be regarded by all as excessively lenient.

By the way, while we suffer from a state in the meantime, we ought to fight to separate religion and state [5], for many reasons, but mainly so as to free religion from outside control (Yeshayahu Leibowitz).

The king (or quasi-king, like Moshe and the Shoftim), too, is but a religious figure (as proven by Hak’hel, etc.). His sole purpose is to ensure the Jewish people do not sin. Of course, a king is a necessary evil, anyway, including Moshiach, and his monarchy is a limited one. God forbid any secular statehood be considered legitimate, even after the coming of the Messiah, contra Satmar. Yes to Jewish sovereignty, as an autonomous society (Yad Yisrael tekifah); no to any form of coercive state.

Note, I am not saying one form of government is more prosperous or peaceful than another. We accept the yoke of the Torah with its obligations and prohibitions, and coercive taxation is always theft.

Rafi says [6] he will deviate “Up to here, and no further”. But Judaism and libertarianism diverge in other areas, as well. Both Judaism and libertarianism are prescriptive. How can they not be contradictory at times?

Indeed, there is a huge chasm between Natural-Rights (or Hoppean) libertarians and Jewish Libertarians. Our point of departure is that Judaism assumes freedom and non-aggression only as the approximate default position, to be continually re-examined on a case-by-case basis. The freedom philosophy must be subsumed under the “Derech Eretz” categorization of Torah law to have any validity whatsoever. Our Rabbis have many legalistic explanations as to why one may not trespass, steal or damage property. The non-aggression axiom or negative rights is the axiology behind much of monetary and war jurisprudence, but with many exceptions and divergent applications.

Property rights in one’s own person conflict with prohibitions against harming oneself (“את דמכם לנפשותיכם”), because the body is considered to be partly owned by God. God owns us, therefore we may not own Jewish slaves for too long, we may not commit suicide, “Evictionism” is even more wrong for Jews, and more.

Even our national ownership over the land of Israel is not without caveat, see here [7]. In truth, we are not “plumb-line libertarians” at all, but Jews who believe we have uncovered more of the true meaning of Judaism with the help of libertarian insights (as “Chochma” permissible for us to accept, but not as “Torah”).

[Why the "chauvinism" regarding the non-Jew? One may not remain a non-Jew. (Rafi's note: I do not understand this point. One may of course remain a non Jew.) The courts try to discourage conversion, yes, but only because one must convert for the sake of Heaven. I stand with Yeshayahu Leibowitz in rejecting the supremacy of any manmade morality over the Omni-supremacy of Torah law (which has what to say about everything!).]

I am somewhat unsure about the conclusions of Walter Block’s essay, even for non-Jews, as I will explain below. But no matter. Arguendo, Bris Milah is the perfect proof that Block is wrong when he claims [8], with Rothbard, that it doesn’t matter at all how one came upon libertarianism, only that one did. He further wrongly asserts [9] that any religion is fully compatible with libertarianism. As Rafi justly pointed out, what about Milah?

Here [10] is another illustrative example, straight from Block: “Suppose that Martians beam down a message to us earthlings: “Kill innocent person Joe, or we blow up the entire earth.” (Stipulate that they have the power to do this, and we are unable to stop them.) One would hope that a hero would arise to murder Joe, so as to save the planet. We would then hold a ticker tape parade in his honor. Afterwards, the heirs of Joe would have the right to exact full punishment against our hero.”

In the Torah view, one may not kill Joe at all. Instead they should all give up their lives. Joe’s murderer would be treated the same as any other murder (and parades are “Innui Hadin”, of course…). I assume Joe is Jewish (Yerushalmi Shabbos p. 77a).

Let us continue. Judaism disallows the free market choosing its own medium of exchange (seashells, rocks, prison cigarettes, etc.), obligating a national gold standard so as to observe the obligations of Ma’aser Sheni, etc., see Chazon Ish Yoreh Deah 72. (Rafi’s note: I’m not so sure about that from my own study of Perek HaZahav, but do not know enough yet to rebut. Just because the Chazon Ish said something doesn’t mean it’s הלכה למעשה)

Many believe [11] that “The Biblical maxim to ‘love your neighbor’ and the libertarian principle of non-aggression are essentially synonymous.” To Xtianity, perhaps this is so, but the true Torah admits no such thing. The verse refers to Jews alone, and this stems from love of God leading to love for fellow co-religionists.

Finally, Austrian economics seems to be simply more accurate scientifically. Our scriptures and history are laissez faire capitalistic, too. Judaism is concerned with the real world, so, obviously, we are partial to real science as opposed to Keynesianism.

An additional value of libertarianism is in its being a great beginning foundation for the laws non-Jews are commanded to write for themselves (in the seventh Noahide commandment).

[For the record, current mainstream Judaism is lost in stygian interventionism, antinomianism, etc. I speak here of Judaism as it used to and ought yet to be, not as it is currently construed.]

As pledged, I will now comment on circumcision, as regards libertarian legal theory. This will become relevant when libertarians “rule” the world.

First to Rafi [6]:

Yes, the act is necessarily violent. So what? If it can be established that it is a “clear benefit to the child”, the NAP is cancelled out by the guardianship rights of the parent (as Block explains). As I wrote in my previous comment regarding the NAP, “it is a theory of punishment”. Again, there is no just cause for compelling [2] war against religious Jews, only meting out punishment, if the child (who is the sole victim) actually demands it when he matures, no more.

Incidentally, Jews aren’t the worst offenders of the NAP. Blockian Libertarian Nuremburg Trials will be plenty busy with other “criminals”… Clean your own backyard first!

Now to Block [12]:

Before I start, let me echo Rafi, Shimshon Weisman (in comments on the EPJ) et al. in affirming loyal Jews will forever flout the NAP in this regard (as explained above).

As for the legal question, firstly, I restate what I said before [1]. Aside from societal conformity being a sufficient justification for surgery for Polydactyly and the like, which are done routinely, the legitimate Jewish ערל (as in his two younger brothers died after Milah and he is left uncircumcised legally) is forbidden from eating the Korban Pesach, prevented from prophesy, etc. Also, yes, he may indeed regret the circumcision later (as apostasy, likely, but not simply for lessened sensual pleasure!), but the pain endured should he later wish to circumcise (highly likely) is severely more than that of an infant. Circumcision reversal without surgery, which Block pays no attention to, is usually painless [13]. The acceptable boundary of aggression probably suffers from ye olde “Continuum Problem” (a neonatal lack of intellect lessens the pain, “Veyosif da’as yosif mach’ov”).

Second, the data assembled suffers from selection bias. The core medical evidence presented does not overwhelm; some of it is tentative or based on procedurally faulty statistics, which are also quite dated (medicine has gotten a lot better since 1950, and this will continue). Expert Mohalim (solely for Jews) vastly reduce the dangers he mentions, too, which the numbers overlook.

Enough said,

Chaim S.

1. http://thejewishlibertarian.com/2014/07/27/why-im-an-anarcho-capitalist-but-love-minarchists/
2. http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/07/walter-block-and-rafi-farber-on.html
3. http://thejewishlibertarian.com/2014/07/27/why-im-an-anarcho-capitalist-but-love-minarchists/
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_attempt_to_revive_the_Sanhedrin
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_state
6. http://thejewishlibertarian.com/2014/08/03/halachic-proof-that-circumcision-is-a-violation-of-the-non-aggression-principle/#comments
7. http://www.rabbibrand.022.co.il/BRPortal/br/P102.jsp?arc=25585
8. http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/26/rp_26_4.pdf
9. http://www.lewrockwell.com/2012/07/walter-e-block/is-libertarianism-anti-religious/
10. http://libertarianpapers.org/articles/2009/lp-1-17.pdf
11. http://www.humblelibertarian.com/2009/11/10-reasons-i-am-libertarian-christian.html Ron Paul thinks so, too:http://www.amazon.com/Liberty-Defined-Essential-Issues-Freedom/dp/B009WH7IDE
12. http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/06/pat-testa/dont-mutilate-your-baby-boy/
13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreskin_restoration

Awesome New Name Suggestions for the Washington Redskins

Bob Wenzel is out with a new post of his top ten suggestions for a name change for the Washington Redskins. They are these:

10. The Washington African Americans
9. The Washington Transgenders
8. The Washington Lesbians
7. The Washington Public School Teachers
6. The Washington Keynesians
5. The Washington Union Pension Fund Managers
4. The Washington FOMC Members
3. The Washington Libwaps
2. The Washington Drone Shooters
1. The Washington AIPAC Lobbyists

Here are some more:

  1. The Washington Registered Sex Offenders
  2. The Washington Retards
  3. The Washington Chickenskins
  4. The Washington Football Players
  5. The Washington Minorities
  6. The Washington LGBTQ’s
  7. The Washington Jews
  8. The Washington Gentiles
  9. The Washington Gun Enthusiasts
  10. The Washington Same Sex Marriages
  11. The Washington Bible Thumpers
  12. The Washington Abortion Enthusiasts
  13. The Washington Necrophiliacs
  14. The Washington Politicians

The Chinese Government is Killing its Golden Macau Goose

My latest article on CalvinAyre about why Beijing is killing the Macau gambling market via its power grabbing stupid capital controls. Basically, capital controls are limits that the Chinese government places on rich people looking to gambling lots and lots of money. So instead of taking the money from China to Macau (which is illegal) where they can gamble, they go to a junket operator in Macau who gives them money, and promise to pay them back in China if they should lose money.

China doesn’t recognize gambling debts so there is no judicial redress in the event of a dispute, and things get really nasty.

Now China is clamping down on capital controls in order to deal with the nastiness, instead of letting go of the capital controls and letting disputes be solved in court as opposed to the street.

Here’s an excerpt.

While a Macanese junket operator does typically perform the legitimate function of catering to the swanky needs of superrich VIP’s (everything including those little paper margarita umbrellas), that is not the main reason for their existence. The main reason for the existence of a junket operator is not as a swanky butler, but as a financial middleman performing a function a lot more shady. Beijing places strict limits on the amount of capital that can be taken from the mainland at any given time, restrictions that are being more strictly enforced as time goes by. This forces the superrich to employ the services of a junket, because that way a VIP gambler can take loads of cash from a junket operator who has capital already in Macau, and pay him back later when they both return to China. That way, capital does not technically cross the border from China to Macau.

This presents one huge and dangerous problem. Since the whole process is very dark grey, and since Beijing does not recognize gambling debts incurred by skirting its own capital controls, junket operators cannot exactly defer to the courts in order to settle gambling debts. Things therefore can get very nasty if a conflict ensues. I would venture to guess that this nastiness, caused by Beijing in the first place by necessitating the use of junkets due to arbitrary capital controls, is the very selfsame “corruption” that the government is cracking down on in the first place.

Continue reading here…

Money Supply beats Fundamentals and Technicals

My latest article for TheStreet hits the homepage must read section. In it, I discuss why, before fundamentals, technicals, sentiment, chart patterns or anything else, what matters most is money supply. If the money is not there, stock prices cannot go up.

Here’s an excerpt.

Before fundamentals, technicals, interest rates, sentiment or anything else, the bottom line of why stock prices go up or down is money supply.

If money is available, one of the places it can go is the stock market. That is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the market to rise. But if not enough loose money is available, all the fundamentals and technicals in the world won’t matter. The market has to go down.

Continue reading here

 

The most powerful line from tonight’s Manhigut Yehudit meeting with Moshe Feiglin

I sat down tonight with a group of about 40 people, Feiglinite activists. As usual Moshe was able to cut through all the circus crap with one sharp line. That is one ability of his that is unmatched.

Ready for the line? Here’s the line.

“Of the 120 Knesset members, 119 of them are incapable of saying the simple phrase ‘This is our land, including Gaza’. The hardest of the right wing will only go so far as saying ‘Let’s conquer Gaza and give it to Abu Mazen.'”

The question we must answer before we even try to win a war is who does Israel belong to? The left wing and the right wing both agree. It belongs to the Arabs.

And on the other side, there’s Moshe Feiglin.

 

Halachic Proof that Circumcision is a Violation of the Non Aggression Principle

Someone commented on a previous post:

There are many justifications for Milah vs. NAP. I wrote a lot about this for the drawer, so just ask, and i can write it here. To start, it is a clear benefit to the child in the social sense, the same way extra fingers are removed. Having it later is more painful.

In that post I had said the following about circumcision.

And in the end, Judaism forces me to be a minarchist, of a sort. To draw a line from my own personhood instead of from something outside myself. To have just a little intuition of my own. I circumcised my son without his consent, and thereby broke the NAP, the holy of holies of libertarian law. I hated it. I cried. And then even I, the uncontrollable libertarian radical teeming with hatred of the State, drew a line from within to circumscribe power. I did, and will do brit milah, and that’s it. I can’t explain why in any logical terms other than God told me to. And I will not go any further than that into the realm of power over other men. Not ever. Not one inch.

Anyone who wants to read my back and forth with Walter Block on bris milah can do so here, at Economic Policy Journal.

My position is that a bris on an 8-day old baby necessarily violates the NAP. It is an unnecessary surgery, and despite the benefits of circumcision, there are also drawbacks. Never mind what they are, the fact is that the kid has no say in whether to do it or not, and it should be his decision. Other issues such as dressing, bathing, feeding, putting in a crib by force, disciplining, etc. are issues of safety and child rearing, and if these are not done, a child will have serious problems in life.

The other side claims as this commenter did, that it is a clear benefit to the child socially. Perhaps so, but a child can decide this when he is, say, 6 or 7 when he may begin becoming embarrassed by having an ערלה (foreskin) for whatever reason. If he decides to do the surgery then voluntarily then fine. That wouldn’t violate the NAP at all, assuming a 7 year old has the capacity to voluntarily do something. (Let’s not complicate things.)

But this kind of argumentation is beside the point. There are obviously ways to justify circumcision as not violating the NAP, whether you make a medical, social, or child rearing argument, none of which I accept, but let’s assume I do. Still, there is the halachic issue of what a bris actually is, and here we get into a more Talmudic form of argumentation.

Taking the case of a child born circumcised, or an adult conversion where the man is already circumcised, we clearly see that one קיום (fulfillment aspect) of a bris is itself the violence of the act. Why? Because a child born circumcised still needs to be wounded by his father. A convert who is already circumcised also needs to bleed in order to be converted. Without a הטפת דם ברית, (drawing of covenant blood) a father does not fulfill the mitzva of circumcision on his son who is born circumcised.

Now say what you want about circumcision itself. Wounding a baby for the sake of wounding a baby for no purpose other than to fulfill a mitzvah is clearly a violation of the NAP. And it is an integral part of the bris. Blood must be drawn. This is also why a Gomco clamp is considered פסול (unsatisfactory) for circumcision, because with a Gomco there is no bleeding.

Clearly then, one kiyum of a bris is violence. Certainly, it is absolutely minimal. One prick, one drop of blood, and nothing more than that. But it is still there. One point of a bris is to violate the NAP, and therefore my point still stands. Judaism forces me to be a minarchist of a sort, and draw a line demarcating violence from within myself.

Indeed, to say עד כאן. “Up to here, and no further.”

To reinforce the idea that above the NAP is God Himself, and as sure as He is the One Who commanded me to observe the NAP, He is also the One Who commanded me to violate it in the case of circumcision.