The language of coercion

piqrcode8One of the more delightful aspects of physics is its objectivity. Politics, especially looter politics, is not objective. Religious conservatives use the word “liberal” in much the same way National Socialists pronounce the same word. But this is very different from the way the word liberal is used in England, Canada and Australia, or Barbados, Trinidad and India for that matter. The true definition is quite clear. Indeed the Liberal Democratic Party of Australia in its position on victimless crimes sees freedom/liberty very much like any standard dictionary owned by your average college student:

• (in a political context) favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform: a liberal democratic state.

So what is this liberty and freedom activists speak of? It is freedom from coercion, that is, freedom from the initiation of force. To an engineer, force is what changes the momentum of an article possessed of mass, such as a bullet. More simply, a charge of gunpowder accelerates a bullet. But what if the bullet strikes someone? Now we are talking about power, work and energy.

Work boils down to making, resisting or overcoming a force over some distance, as when water is moved to a higher elevation by overcoming its weight. To avoid having to constantly break everything down into Mass times Length divided or multiplied by Time we use Newtons, Joules and such as shorthand to condense the clear meanings into useful communicative language. So a brake slowing a car has to do the negative of work and change the kinetic energy of motion into heat. A bullet striking someone also does work, in this case damage, which often stops that person from being able to locally reduce entropy by electrochemical reactions.  In political parlance this is killing when they do it, but exercising authority when we do it. There is nothing objective about political language.

Still, some parallels remain. In physics power is the rate at which work can be done. But when someone in a small country remarks that Russia and America are powerful, they are referring to the instantaneous rate at which human beings may be reduced to cadavers by either or both governments. Politics as she is is not a pretty thing, but when you realize that every government is a monopoly on harmful, coercive, deadly force within its borders, then clearly its political power is measured in deaths per second just as an engine’s power is measured in its rate of doing work, such as Joules per second, Watts, Horsepower or whichever equivalent transformation best fits the context.

So when any politician says that a government needs for whatever reason to have more power, that politician is saying that the instantaneous rate at which that government can kill people needs to be increased.  This is one of those true generalities that are so offensive to people who dislike honestly dealing in the objective facts of reality. Yet when one looks at what is involved, it is higher taxes (and if you resist those you are arrested or shot)  to pay for increased numbers of men carrying pistols, rifles and badges. Those militarized police forces or men with guns, are as a result, even better positioned to bring additional deadly force to bear on their captive populations. None of this was mysterious to Boston attorney Lysander Spooner a century and a half ago, but modern looter politicians react with rage, denial or panic to any such simple recitation of the logical consequences of clearly-defined language.

Getting back to “liberal,”  German National Socialists used the term to mean “jewish,” and “laissez-faire capitalist” and “communist,” all three of which (like logical consistency) they took to be bad things. And when you examine the way American Religious Conservatives use the word, their use of “liberal” is pretty much the same. It is like one of those observations in mathematics that if each of two things is equivalent to a third thing, they are equal to each other.

Clarity is not oversimplification. Clarity is the handmaiden of that truth which will set you free once you know it.


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