Sunday, September 07, 2008

Don't Force It

The difference between cooption and coercion is the same as --
the difference between donation and taxation;
the difference between volunteer service and draft;
the difference between altrusism and burden;
the difference between being responsible for one's own actions, and "just following orders;"
the difference between freedom, and something less.

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A discussion I have had in the comm box of the blog Civics Geeks regarding the definition of "political community" reminded me of an idea that is central to my political thinking. That in all cases, cooption is preferable to coercion. That is not to say that cooption can be used in all circumstances, but that it is the preferred state.

A person who gives time, talent and treasure of his own free will derives spiritual benefit from the act. One who has those goods coerced from him will often feel unjustly deprived, no matter how good the cause.

I believe the Church is the ultimate coopting organization. Members of the Church are voluntary members, and can separate themselves at will. Membership in the Church, at least in the United States in the 21st century, is an exercise of free will.

In the political arena, I want a candidate who is less likely to coerce me into doing the right thing, and more likely to attempt to convince me to do the right thing, even though the latter is the harder task.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Zach said...

Thanks for the conversation and the shoutout.

I should say that I think I agree with you. Ideally, society should be free from (almost?) all coercion.

But isn't the coercive force of the state at least a qualified good? Isn't it necessary sometimes? e.g. keeping the unhinged murderer away from families, etc.

Rather obtusely, I was trying to argue against anarchy, which I think is a dangerous idea.

5:07 AM  
Blogger DMinor said...

Hey Zach,

Thanks for dropping by. I am mulling over your question "Do you think the Church should be a model for the state?" and would like to give it a good answer.

I've really enjoyed the discussion.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Gregory said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Gregory said...

"I want a candidate who is less likely to coerce me into doing the right thing, and more likely to attempt to convince me to do the right thing"

I've really never heard the desire for a good candidate put that way. Quite eloquent, and I agree wholeheartedly.

As for the church being the ultimate coopting body, yes membership is voluntary. However, I've been to a few churches and some of them, once you're in, resort very quickly to using guilt to enlist your services.

I have to say, it's a very effective technique.

6:20 AM  
Blogger DMinor said...

Gregory,

Thanks for dropping by. I do agree that churches can use guilt as a tactic. But it is only effective if the individual has buy-in to the church's philosophy; the individual must be able to be "guilted." On the other hand, the state has much tougher means at its disposal.

7:41 PM  

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