There seems to be a point where many communities, especially those of a political, ethical, or philosophical nature, make the ultimate mistake of declaring they have discovered truth. What inevitably results is a form of tribalism, whereby any divergent beliefs are eradicated by any means necessary.

I am reminded of two articles on; Undiscriminating Skepticism and Guardians of Ayn Rand, which describe how closed systems and tribal beliefs emerge even in the most rational and well intentioned groups of individuals.

I recently observed this phenomenon in a community that I love and enjoy. Throughout the early history, the community was a place where diverse ideas were treated with respect and kindness. Even the most trollish of individuals were treated as honored guests, and their ideas, no matter how flawed, were treated with empathy and responded to with care. Those who disagreed often stayed and felt comfortable and were allowed to retain their diverse points of view.

Two Disagreements

Within this community there were two primary points of disagreement and discussions on these disagreements were as friendly and empathetic as any other discussion. Both sides would voice their views, and explore the other side, without ever feeling threatened or the need to make a solid commitment. For the most part, people sought common ground and came to the conclusion that our central 'ethic' did not dictate a conclusion on either side of the debate.

The Brewing Storm

What's wrong with some minor ambiguity? Last I checked, most of us weren't strict utilitarians who see everything as black and white, and balance their entire ideology on the head of a needle.

What is the measure of labor necessary to legitimately homestead a land? What is the measure of labor necessary to maintain your claim? Is ridiculing another person a violation of the N.A.P.? Is a concert ticket physical property, a contract, intellectual property or something else? At precisely what point during a trespass can you (a) hit an intruder (b) threaten an intruder, or (c) kill an intruder?

The free market is an unpredictable, unknown, diverse, wild beast which may act in extremely unexpected ways, and that is the beauty of the free market. Why must we play the ridiculous central planner role? Or the role of the priest, dictating ethics to the masses? I understand the comfort of having black and white answers, however I also understand the beauty of a full spectrum of alternatives that might not neatly fit into predefined boxes.

We're humans, not machines. Maybe there is an imperfect balance between abortion and anti-abortion, and pro-I.P and anti-I.P. Maybe it's not a clear line, where one thing starts and another stops, but that's life!

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