Lion of the Blogosphere

Utopia: The proper punishment for theft

Sir Thomas More, by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527

Sir Thomas More,
by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527

Apparently, 500 years ago, the death penalty was commonly believed to be the appropriate punishment for theft. (The TV series The Tudors has many scenes showing the shockingly harsh [to the modern viewer] punishments of the early 1500s.)

Raphael objects to this on several grounds: (1) death is too harsh of a punishment for the mere crime of theft; (2) it’s not a deterrent, because people steal because they don’t have enough food to eat, so the correct way to reduce crime is to ensure that everyone has a job so they can feed themselves; and most interestingly (3) if the death penalty is the same for both theft and murder, this encourages thieves to murder their victims, because the penalty is the same either way, but by murdering the victim you eliminate the witness to the crime and reduce your chance of getting caught.

It’s obvious that Raphael’s viewpoint has, for the most part, become the standard view of the modern world. In fact, the world has become so horrified by the death penalty that it’s rarely meted out even for murder, and the Europeans look down on us Americans for having the death penalty at all.

Also, there are no shortage of liberal criminologists who believe that all crime has roots in “poverty” and “socioeconomic deprivation,” despite the fact that we live in an economy vastly different from Thomas More’s time. Today, poor people are too fat, and liberals blame this on poor people being unable to afford “healthy” food. The poor people of the early 1500s could only dream about having so much to eat that they have to worry about being too fat rather than worry about starving to death.

One can still debate how well the modern-day punishments for crime correlate with the severity of the criminal act. For example, the consensual crime of selling drugs is punished much more harshly than crimes with actual victims such as theft, assault, and robbery. And we still punish the crime of rape almost as severely as the crime of murder, even though a woman’s virginity and sexual purity are no longer considered important the way they were in the past. There is still the incentive for a rapist to kill his victim and dispose of the body rather than leaving behind a witness to his crime of rape.

And what did Raphael propose as the better alternative to the death penalty as a punishment for theft? The answer is a life of slavery, with enough of a chance of being released eventually after years of good behavior such that the slave is motivated to behave well.

To demonstrate the soundness of the slavery idea, Raphael tells the story of the Commonwealth of the Polylerits (per the 1901 translation) which Paul Turner translates as Tallstoria. I like the Paul Turner translation better because it makes it obvious that Tallstoria is not a real country, and therefore you should ponder whether such a system of punishments would actually work, or if it’s just a tall tale with no basis in reality.

It’s my observation that modern-day criminals don’t behave well enough to be utilized for cheap labor, and could certainly never be trusted to behave well without armed guards watching over them all the time. But in the land of Tallstoria, the people sentenced to slavery are so well behaved that they can work independently without fear of them running away, and they rarely need to be whipped. Nope, not very likely.

In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean served 19 years of hard slave labor (with 4 unsuccessful escape attempts) for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sick nephew, and it’s portrayed as a harsh and unfair punishment for such a minor and justifiable crime. Yes, we’ve come a long way since the 1500s, haven’t we?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 8, 2016 at 10:52 am

Posted in Books

99 Responses

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  1. Not all stealing is the same.

    People that steal when they don’t need to exhibit a selfishness and lack of respect for others that would make them more likely to be murderers.

    What do you think about the claim made by the Indians that the Europeans stole their land?

    Do you think value transferrance stealing?

    Clay Carlin

    August 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

    • The North American savages regular tortured, enslaved, and exterminated each other; they’d sacrifice prisoners to their bug-gods and eat their brains. They never owned any land because they were too stupid to come up with the idea of owning land. They didn’t give a shit about “nature” either; we were the ones who looked at the trees, mountains, and canyons and found them awesome. Their earth-mother was a murderous bitch with a needle-toothed pussy; ours was cosmic Gaia.

      Garr

      August 8, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      • I’dont think it was fair for the Indians to control huge sparsely populated areas which they couldn’t put to good use. They needed to share with other races.

        Yakov

        August 8, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    • Do they make that claim? Could be selection bias, but in my experience, the idea that Europeans stole the Indians’ land comes from self-hating liberal whites.

      Hermes

      August 8, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    • Theft is a fluid concept. Armed robbery on a large enough scale is not considered theft.

      Clay Carlin

      August 8, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    • Theft, like murder, is a legal concept, although like murder it does have an extralegal connotation that implies unjust or immoral acts rather than mere unlawfulness. The victims will always tend to view the killing and seizure as murder and theft, regardless of legal status, while perpetrators will tend to regard it as mere killing, conquest, or seizure, without any legal status. It boils down to “who, whom”.

      Tom

      August 8, 2016 at 8:11 pm

  2. have you given up on trump? this stuff is boring.

    james n.s.w

    August 8, 2016 at 11:33 am

    • I’ve already written hundreds of posts about Trump.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 8, 2016 at 11:45 am

      • He’s in the process of doubling down on his insane economic policies. And his new economic advisory board is made up mostly of donors to his campaign. A lot of great stuff to write about.

        Magnavox

        August 8, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    • Looking at important works of literature and philosophy on this blog is a good idea. I also like the presidential race posts. It’s the “value transference” posts I think are boring and repetitive.

      Gozo

      August 8, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    • This is great stuff. Thank you for the detailed book review.

      It’s interesting to think about how great a span of time 500 years is for we mortal humans, but how insignificant it is in terms of geologic time or evolutionary time. Mastodons apparently walked the earth for 27 or 28 million years. Humbling.

      SQ

      August 8, 2016 at 7:43 pm

  3. Chiming in to disagree with James nsw. This type of stuff is why I read the internets. You can’t get this sort of discussion elsewhere. Please keep these posts coming.

    And the presidential election doesn’t happen until November.

    Ed

    August 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    • “You can’t get this sort of discussion elsewhere.”

      You could if you had majored in philosophy at a prestigious college. But you’d need to be able to go back in time and re-do college.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 8, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      • This sort of stuff would be considered philosophy-light at a university. Hey, why not read the NYT article “Pond Scum” on Henry David Thoreau who was loved by my fellow English class students, but whom I detested.

        CamelCaseRob

        August 8, 2016 at 5:31 pm

  4. I wonder what the median number of theft convictions is before someone actually does prison time? DA’s tell me that black defendants receive probation at least 2 or 3 times before they’re ever incarcerated, simply because of overcrowding. Folks in the 15th century would marvel at the way these stats are concealed. Life in America is absurd in so many ways.

    VIP Ltd.

    August 8, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    • It amazes me that theft just isn’t taken seriously these days. I was actually advised by a police officer that if I saw someone stealing something of mine (my bicycle, in this case), I should not chase him or attempt to tackle him, because I would receive a greater punishment for “assault” that would outweigh the loss of my property. That’s insane.

      Kyo

      August 9, 2016 at 2:50 am

      • Where is that? In Japan?

        Yakov

        August 9, 2016 at 11:38 pm

  5. The death penalty is obviously too harsh a penalty for theft but it (and any crime where there is a victim) should be punished harder than it is today. Also, I am very disappointed that the death penalty for murder is rarely used anymore. It seems even just 20 years ago most people had a genuine disdain for criminals. Today the “do not judge” mindset has taken over which is a symptom of moral decay.

    Jay Fink

    August 8, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    • I think a lot of murderers are put away for 30 or more years. That’s pretty good as punishments go.

      CamelCaseRob

      August 9, 2016 at 5:34 pm

  6. I don’t understand Moore – he was a Christian and was familiar with The Bible. According to the Biblical Law a theif is sold for six years and is freed in the seventh. Why would he want to be harsher then the law of Moses? True, that law was for the Jews, but hadn’t Jesus come to fulfill the law for the whole human race? So a man following Jesus should be harsher then Moses? Why?

    Today’s criminals would work just fine in Stalin’s gulag. The ones that refuse to work shouldn’t be fed and should die. Flogging is a wonderful correctional tool.

    Yakov

    August 8, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    • Most of the people dying in Stalin’s gulag were thought-criminals like Lion of the Turambar. The criminal-criminals were the ones flogging them.

      Garr

      August 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm

      • No, only 4.8 percent of the Gulag prisoners were charged with crimes related to article 58. Perhaps some “political prisoners” were convicted of non-political crimes.

        http://web.archive.org/web/20080611064213/http:/www.etext.org/Politics/Staljin/Staljin/articles/AHR/AHR.html

        Latias

        August 8, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      • Hundreds of thousands of people sent to the gulag were sent there for thought-crime, and they were the ones subjected to the worst brutality, because they were nerds, unlike Yakov. ([not aimed at you Latias: It’s come to this: “I like Trump, therefore I like Putin, therefore I like Stalin.”)

        Garr

        August 8, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      • Garr, it’s true that Russian professional criminals didn’t work and lived off the inmates, but that wasn’t the majority. If you threw your mother-in-law out the window or robbed a bank without being what was called ‘вор в законе’, you slaved like everyone else.

        Yakov

        August 8, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      • Well, Garr mate, you surprise me. It’s obvious that I at least have reservations about these chaps. It’s a complex world out there. I never said that I liked Stalin, but even he did a few things right.

        Yakov

        August 8, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      • ‘Hundreds of thousands of people sent to the gulag were sent there for thought-crime, and they were the ones subjected to the worst brutality, because they were nerds.’

        I don’t know their level of nerdiness, but the political prisoners numbered in tens of millions not hundreds of thousands.

        Yakov

        August 8, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    • I enjoy these posts too, and as Yakov says, the halakhic crime for theft is indentured servitude. LOL, Jewish websites always show this as humane.

      http://torah.org/torah-portion/ravhirsch-5770-mishpatim/

      Jewish liberalism is a thing of wonder!

      gothamette

      August 8, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      • Indentured servitude is nothing but jail. Actually, it is better than jail. One can be out and about, and if she keeps her nose clean can complete her sentence without too much discomfit.

        Notice that I referenced “she”. This is because most thieves are women. They get caught less because the things they steal are less valuable and they don’t try and strong-arm their way.

        Daniel

        August 9, 2016 at 7:03 am

      • @Daniel

        In Jewish Law only male theives are sold.

        Yakov

        August 9, 2016 at 7:58 am

    • “Why would he want to be harsher then the law of Moses? True, that law was for the Jews, but hadn’t Jesus come to fulfill the law for the whole human race? So a man following Jesus should be harsher then Moses? Why?”

      That’s an interesting question, and I wonder if the reason is simply that the Church has always tailored it’s message to the desires of the ruling classes, which in this case was for harsher punishments. One only has to see how Christianity has adopted positions as disparate as slavery and radical anti-racism to see how malleabe it is.

      Now I’m thinking about it, maybe this was part of the reason for the scriptures only being in Latin. It meant that the lower classes could not read scriptures themselves and challenge the ruling elites with exactly the sort of questions you have just described. Maybe this is the real reason that Martin Luther and his message were so explosive. It wasn’t just the threat to the religious authorities, but the challenge to secular power that the poor and uneducated could not even have known was possible at the time.

      prolier than thou

      August 8, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      • Now I’m thinking about it, maybe this was part of the reason for the scriptures only being in Latin. It meant that the lower classes could not read scriptures themselves and challenge the ruling elites with exactly the sort of questions you have just described.

        It was. The theological argument the Catholic Church made is that the Church’s authority is founded on the power Christ passed on to Peter. Since Peter, as the first head of the Church, preceded the scriptures, the Church’s authority must be based on the Holy See, not scripture.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        August 8, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      • The Bible was originally translated into Latin (from Greek) to make it readable to a wider audience.

        Until a relatively recent time, being literate in the West meant being literate in Latin. This probably created a larger barrier to learning how to read, but it meant being able to read a much wider range of texts and write for a much larger audience. Keep in mind that languages were evolving quickly and a lot more languages were spoken then than now.

        The lower classes were illiterate (as they always are, to varying degrees) and in any case didn’t have the wealth to acquire books even if they could read.

        For much of the middle ages, the upper class was illiterate as well. Only churchmen could read, such that, at times, being able to read a passage from the Bible was sufficient evidence to prove yourself a member of the clergy. This is not because the Church controlled the secret of reading, but because the upper class found it a less useful and interesting skill than learning how to kill people from horseback.

        All that said, the relative proximity in time and place of Martin Luther and Johannes Gutenberg is not coincidental.

        Wency

        August 8, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      • ” Since Peter, as the first head of the Church, preceded the scriptures, the Church’s authority must be based on the Holy See, not scripture.”

        Huh? The found of the Church is based on the exhortation given by Jesus, not when it was written down.

        Lion of the Turambar

        August 9, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    • True, that law was for the Jews, but hadn’t Jesus come to fulfill the law for the whole human race? So a man following Jesus should be harsher then Moses? Why?

      This is what caused Christianity and Judaism to separate into two different religions. The earliest Christians argued gentiles weren’t obligated to follow the Mosaic law like Jews were.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      August 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm

  7. Just chop off the right hand for theft like Saudi Arabia does and the problem is solved.

    Camlost

    August 8, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    • “Just chop off the right hand for theft like Saudi Arabia does and the problem is solved”

      Camlost

      But what about in the future when buying a new bionic arm may be as easy to future people as, say, buying a hat-stand or a fruit smoothie is for us? And these bionic arms may be even better for stealing. Imagine Inspector Gadget turned bad. You’d only have made the problem worse. Even now there is the example of Oscar Pestorius. If he stole your wallet would you be able to catch him?

      prolier than thou

      August 8, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      • The deterrent isn’t the actual loss of the arm, it’s the social stigma and shame attached to being identified as a criminal so easily.

        Camlost

        August 8, 2016 at 3:18 pm

  8. Oh wait a minute. I should have researched further. It’s servitude for Jews, death penalty for goyim. Sorry, that’s what it says:

    http://www.jewishmag.com/71mag/stealing/stealing.htm

    Ouch.

    gothamette

    August 8, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    • Because nonJews were already giving each other the death penalty. People are more lenient with their own family-members. Same with interest rates, everything else the Jewhaters hold against us — no, we weren’t treating the nonJews spitefully; rather, we were treating each other more kindly. The practices of the outside world continue; the practices of family-members in relation to each other become kinder. You really shouldn’t put this stuff out in places frequented by Jewhaters; there are several who regularly comment here.

      Garr

      August 8, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      • I don’t think you helped your case very much.

        destructure

        August 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      • What’s my case, destructure? Is this my case?: Jews are supposed to treat each other better than nonJews treat each other. Yes, that’s my case. Jews are an extended family. If you (not you in particular, nice, nice destructure) don’t like my family, fuck off. If you try to hurt my family, my family will fucking kill you.

        Garr

        August 8, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      • Garr,
        The Jewhaters can look up Google as well as I can. I think it’s important that we should know about the objectionable stuff in Judaism to counter them.
        I reject a double standard between Jewish & non-Jewish life. Screw the rabbis. Me bad Jew.

        gothamette

        August 8, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      • ‘Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;’ Proverbs (6:30).

        I don’t beleive in kabbalistic explanations, I’m a rationalist. I think the law of capital punishment for Gentiles needs to be contextualized. The Talmud is dealing with the law as it was at the time. It phrases the existing reality as ‘Theft is punishable by death by the sons of Noach’. This is a reflection of the reality of that time period, not a Divine decree. Proverbs reflects on the general human condition, not something unique to the Jews. Are we being counseled not to despise a thief and kill him at the same time? I don’t think so. Kabbalah is heresy, I hate it.

        Yakov

        August 8, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      • @gothamete
        The Word of G-d cannot be objectionable. We need to learn to understand.

        Yakov

        August 8, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      • There’s NOTHING objectionable there, gothamette, This is what I’m trying to explain to you. Don’t apologize for yourself. Don’t apologize for your family. Your family is awesome. A family without a “double standard” is sick. A mother who doesn’t favor her own child over another woman’s child is sick. A mother who doesn’t favor her own child over the child of another woman who hates her is doubly sick. Stop being sick. (Maybe it takes a half-Jew who’s been in fistfights with Guidos and Blacks to tell you this.)

        Garr

        August 8, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      • I’ve wanted to learn Latin for the reasons you mention. But I never got around to it because I’m doing other things. And when I’m not doing other things, I’m wanting to either vegetate or do fun things not learn Latin Ultimately, I wondered if it wasn’t a mistake to spend the time learning Latin when everything worthwhile was already translated into English.

        That wasn’t the case 500 years ago. 500 years ago, they didn’t have publishers translating everything into every language. People either wrote it directly in Latin or their native language and some translated it into Latin. If you wanted access to the common store of knowledge you had to learn Latin.

        destructure

        August 8, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      • I don’t treat strangers as well as I treat family either. But that’s because I do things to hep family not because I do things to hurt strangers. That’s true even if some strangers hurt each other. But it sounds like you’re not far off the Islamists who think it’s okay to abuse the “infidel”.

        destructure

        August 8, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      • Garr, we are all Americans. This ain’t the Wild Wild Middle East. What went for tribal people in the Middle East doesn’t go for now. Although your post did make me laugh. I come here for the LULz.

        gothamette

        August 8, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      • destructure, pay attention. How many times, and how carefully and slowly, do I have to explain that Jews are supposed to treat each other better than nonJews treat EACH OTHER? This does not imply spiteful treatment of nonJews; it implies extra-kind treatment of Jews, because Jews are family and family-members are supposed to treat each other extra-kindly.

        Garr

        August 9, 2016 at 6:50 am

      • @Garr

        There is no commandment for the Jews to treat each other better then Gentiles do. The Jews were given their Law and the obligation to observe it regardless. There is nothing to stop the Gentiles from having a similar or more ‘humane’ code of conduct. Our Law, similar to Common Law, has grown and developed through the ages. We can benefit from familiarity with non-Jewish legal reasoning, or at least this is what I think.

        Yakov

        August 9, 2016 at 8:50 am

      • @Yakov — right, there’s no GENERAL commandment to that effect. But the specific commandments all indicate a family-based-approach that in fact results in Jews’ treating each other more kindly than nonJews treat each other. Of course non-Jewish groups are welcome to imitate us in this respect, and many have tried to do so. But a group that’s too large (“White people”, for example) or too stupid (take your pick) will fail. (“White people” are not a family.) By the way — if you see me around the neighborhood, say hi: I’m about six and half feet tall, with long hair and beard in multiple bands.

        Garr

        August 9, 2016 at 9:44 am

      • Garr,
        I’m not sick and I don’t hate my family. I do think that Yakov’s explanation is a good one. But we don’t kill gentile thieves and indenture Jewish ones. I re-read your comment and you have a point – Jew-haters hang out here, they have frequently enraged me, and I shouldn’t make their life easier.
        It’s the Jew-haters that make the alt-right an impossibility. I think a lot of Americans would be receptive to many alt-right ideas except that you don’t have to read long before you encounter 1488 lunacy.

        gothamette

        August 9, 2016 at 3:45 pm

  9. Sorry, OT, but how many dignitaries can you spot in this video?

    https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=Cze3fMSa84w

    Marty

    August 8, 2016 at 1:33 pm

  10. In case you weren’t aware of it, Lion, that portrait of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger is hanging in the Frick Collection in Manhattan and you can go have a look at it. It’s really quite wonderful. The other stuff in the Frick is really excellent too.

    Veracitor

    August 8, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    • Henry Miller used to spend long periods of time staring at a portrait of Dostoyevsky, trying to gain insight into his hero’s mind; I like the idea of the Lion staring at More’s portrait, new ideas blossoming in his febrile brain with which to fill the interwebs.

      Gozo

      August 8, 2016 at 6:02 pm

  11. And I believe More says slaves should be bound in gold chains so as to condition people to associate gold with misery.

    Vince

    August 8, 2016 at 4:08 pm

  12. Lion have you considered the HBD implications of the medieval approach to the death penalty?

    For over a thousand years, about 3% of the male population was murdered by the government death penalty. Could this have bred into Western Europeans such traits as excessive paranoia about government, or excessive lawfulness?

    Libertarian theory assumes that people naturally have respect for institutions but also fear them. What if this is not natural theory but a result of eugenics? George W Bush asserted that all people desire freedom from government but only Western Europeans seem to express this in practice, what if there’s a reason why? Michael Moore asserted in Bowling for Columbine that white people were crazy with paranoia about government, what if this is true and partially genetic in origin?

    What if the Death Penalty carries within it the seeds of its own destruction, killing off the people that it protects most against, making removing the death penalty less costly.

    And what are the long term consequences of allowing populations that never had the long experience with the death penalty into your country?

    Rotten

    August 8, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    • Much greater HBD implications of monasticism. Think of all the brains going into onanism.

      gothamette

      August 9, 2016 at 8:07 am

      • Monks were not actually the smartest people of the time. And back then, many priests cheated on their vows of celibacy.

        Although, one explanation of why Jews became smarter than Christians is because the smartest Christian children were pulled into the celibate priesthood and prevented from having children and passing on their superior genes.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 9, 2016 at 9:07 am

      • Sexual drive cannot be suppressed by masses of priests. They might have aborted or killed the kids though. You can’t supress the most basic biological instinct. High IQ people have a heightened sex drive, just from empirical observations.

        Yakov

        August 9, 2016 at 9:21 am

  13. East Germany had a very low rate of non-political crime. In fact, most of the crime there was actually driven by those with aspirational desires to escape and experience the perceived higher living standards in the West.

    I guess East Germany affirms the liberal criminological paradigm on crime and poverty.

    Latias

    August 8, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    • I meant to say inequality.

      Latias

      August 8, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    • Odd that no one in the west was trying to escape to the east. The living standard in the west was perceived higher because it was.

      destructure

      August 8, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      • Life in the West isn’t just about the higher living standard. It’s about freedom! There were naive folks that immigrated to the Soviet Utopia. Most ended up in the Gulag as foreign spies. And it kinda made sense on Stalin’s part. I mean what normal person would leave, say, America and come the USSR? Must be a spy, no?

        Yakov

        August 8, 2016 at 8:44 pm

  14. OT: Trump is talking about tax cuts for the wealthy, getting rid of the inheritance tax. Bad move. Destructive appeal to people who aren’t going to vote for him anyway. Gotta get back on message. Talk about things good for the proles and whites.

    Daniel

    August 8, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    • Yeah, it’s very depressing. Shame on Trump.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 8, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      • He ain’t no William Jennings Bryan.

        gothamette

        August 8, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    • Republicans aren’t going to vote for Trump anyway?

      Magnavox

      August 8, 2016 at 7:39 pm

  15. Love this post! So much more interesting than your political or economic stuff.

    That being said, you assert that drug crimes are punished more severely than robbery or assault, which is categorically untrue. Most people largely skate on their first few drug charges. The reason a fair number of people are in jail “for drugs” is because a.) they were also convicted of something else and b.) they pled down to the drug charge because it’s easier for the prosecutor to prove.

    If you’re scooped up off the street for heroin possession, you are in a far better place than someone who is picked up for assault, robbery, etc.

    zz

    August 8, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    • This has become a big liberal talking point recently, the idea that the “war on drugs” is evil because we supposedly have millions of people locked behind bars for simple drug possession

      Hermes

      August 9, 2016 at 8:05 am

  16. Is this place like 70% Jewish? I didn’t realize it was such a turkey sausage fest.

    Does anybody have any predictions for Nehlen-Ryan? I think Ryan will win 62-38.

    Otis the Sweaty

    August 8, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    • I don’t think very many commentors are kosher

      Magnavox

      August 8, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    • ryan is a randian, and therefore should be in the GULAG.

      no soviet emigre did more to make stalin look good than the chain-smoking nympho ayn rand.

      in response to “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”

      one of her butt boys…and yes ayn rand has plenty of strap-on butt boys…that’s the kinda gal she was…

      Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.

      Trumpocalypse Now

      August 8, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      • It was surprising to hear him publicly deny love and affection for Ayn Rand when the Atlas Society had audio of him addressing their group.

        Vince

        August 9, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    • Yes. Most commenters here are jews who are anti gentile. jews really do hate us.

      blood on the streets

      August 9, 2016 at 9:51 am

  17. “if the death penalty is the same for both theft and murder, this encourages thieves to murder their victims”

    In practice England did not execute people too often just for non-violent theft. As with now, the maximum penalty was to encourage the accused to accept a plea.

    The other way the problem was dealt with is “death penalty” could mean a lot of different things, some quick, some first involving torture and then corpse mutilation. For the middle and upper classes, sometimes the death penalty meant loss of all your property and titles, other times it did not and they went to the normal heirs.

    As harsh as English justice was back then, “Better Angels” makes a good case that this harshness took out a lot of impulsively violent genes from the English stock, reducing murder rates by 90-98%.

    Lot

    August 8, 2016 at 6:04 pm

  18. I see from that painting that Moore, like George Costanza, liked to drape himself in velvet.

    Lot

    August 8, 2016 at 6:05 pm

  19. Yes, we’ve come a long way since the 1500s, haven’t we?

    It’s a common liberal fallacy to think that people from the past didn’t know what they were doing. First, because liberals are extremely arrogant. And, second, because liberals are prejudiced against the past. Of course, we have more knowledge and technology today. But that’s because those from the past discovered and invented it. Many beliefs and behaviors that we find questionable or even silly today only seem so in hindsight. They were actually rational based on the information they had at the time. And, in some cases, their beliefs and behaviors only seem questionable or silly because people don’t understand the historical circumstances. People from the past knew what they were doing more than they’re given credit for.

    (1) death is too harsh of a punishment for the mere crime of theft; (2) it’s not a deterrent, because people steal because they don’t have enough food to eat, so the correct way to reduce crime is to ensure that everyone has a job so they can feed themselves; and most interestingly (3) if the death penalty is the same for both theft and murder, this encourages thieves to murder their victims

    1) I generally agree that the death penalty is too harsh for theft. But it depends on social order. There are two components to deterrence: 1) the likelihood of being caught and 2) the severity of the punishment. The less likely it is that a criminal will be caught the more severe the punishment must be in order to prevent the crime. Less severe punishments are effective today because there is a higher chance criminals being caught. That wasn’t the case 5– years ago.

    2) Most people today don’t steal because they’re hungry. I’m not convinced hunger was ever the primary motive for most thefts. Not that there aren’t some people who do. But it’s largely a liberal fantasy. Liberals see that poor people are more likely to steal and assume poverty causes crime. It doesn’t. Poor people are more likely to steal for the same reason they’re poor — lower intelligence, lower impulse control, lower future time orientation, etc.

    3) Thomas More got the third one right. Sort of. No doubt criminals are more likely to murder their victims if petty theft carries the death penalty. But that assumes they have the impulse control or future time orientation to make the rational choice to avoid the death penalty for a simple robbery. And I’m not sure every criminal does. In fact, I think some criminals would risk the death penalty rather than risk spending any time in prison at all. After all, there are plenty of robbers who kill their victims today.

    destructure

    August 8, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    • Very good points about people’s silly superior attitude about people of the past and about incentives and disincentives for committing crimes, destructure.

      Gozo

      August 8, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    • 5– years ago = 500 years ago

      destructure

      August 8, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      • thanks for clarifying. otherwise it would’ve been unintelligible.

        as my hero steve martin said…

        solution to the population problem? death penalty for parking violations.

        Trumpocalypse Now

        August 8, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      • Yes, it’s a myth to think they didn’t know what they were doing. They knew exactly what they were doing.

        Repeat 5X.

        gothamette

        August 9, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    • in general economic crimes should be treated more leniently than other crimes, like rape and child molesting and killing people for fun, etc. depending on how much damage the criminal actually does. theft, prostitution, insurance fraud, and dealing drugs are examples of economic crimes.

      to date not a single person responsible for the giant mortgage scam has even been arraigned.

      the US has become by turns since 1980 a kingdom of thieves.

      Trumpocalypse Now

      August 8, 2016 at 8:12 pm

  20. Getting back on topic from comments on learning Latin from a few days ago, I think that studying Latin is worthwhile. It is extremely useful and relevant to study Roman history because of the vast time and space it occupied in the formation of western civilization. There is nothing political, human, social, whatever that we have passed thorough, are passing through or will pass through that the Romans did not deal with several times over. Now one could study Roman history without learning Latin, but I do believe that language has a great input on the thinking process of the culture. Latin is fully expressive – as much as English – but at the same time terse and succinct. Knowing latin helps one get into the mind of the Romans.

    That said, I have twice tried to teach myself Latin and given up both times, but I will try again. I intend, one day, to read Tacitus in the Latin. The standard translations of Tacitus are wonderful. His tone – in the translations – is one of resigned, deadpan, gloomy irony. At times his words are wickedly funny. I would like to see how this is done in Latin.

    If one wishes to learn Latin I recommend Wheelock’s grammar as a base. Additionally, I recommend a reader/grammar by a Dane Hans Orberg that is written entirely in Latin. The idea with Orberg’s book is total immersion. He doesn’t explain how or why grammatical constructs are used. He just uses them and through repetition and inference one will pick up how the grammar works. He starts out with very simple sentences, rearranges them to illustrate the declensions and strings them into simple stories, and builds from there. An effect pedagogical technique.

    Daniel

    August 8, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    • Inspiring, makes you feel like jumping right into it.

      Yakov

      August 8, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    • Learning languages is a waste of time.
      It is not high yield unless you want a job specific to that like a translator, or want to use language capabilities as a chance to signal.

      If I replaced every class I ever took in Spanish growing up with one in something useful like computer programming, how to balance a checkbook, accounting 101, how to cook a healthy meal, recess/gym class, or something related to my actual job field, I would be better off today.

      Lion, I love these posts, please keep them coming. Politics has gotten stale. Class and status is always always always interesting. Perhaps explore the use of language facility as status symbol? “Young Sabian is now in Mandarin submersion class, and he loves it– how about your children?”

      jjbees

      August 8, 2016 at 9:18 pm

  21. more preceded proudhon and “value transference”.

    for the most part america is now a criminal society run by clever thieves.

    this is not meant as a joke or an exaggeration at all.

    Trumpocalypse Now

    August 8, 2016 at 7:52 pm

  22. “) if the death penalty is the same for both theft and murder, this encourages thieves to murder their victims, because the penalty is the same either way, but by murdering the victim you eliminate the witness to the crime and reduce your chance of getting caught. ”

    This is also an argument FOR the death penalty when it comes to murder.

    Prole

    August 8, 2016 at 8:46 pm

  23. I wonder why he was given an Italian name?

    Bobo

    August 9, 2016 at 6:16 am

  24. The Paul Turner translation is available in Kindle format by searching for “Utopia (Penguin Classics)”.

    Utopia is interesting in that More is writing for a small group well known to him. I remember a paper on the Hottentot Venus being written in Latin so that it was ensure that the readers would have a certain level of sophistication and learning.

    The same holds here. More feels free to assume that this audience is familiar with a lot of things. Not only various Classical works he references and a book by Americo Vespuchi, but also various inside jokes and asides. He has Peter Gilles praise him in the letter to Busleiden for “correct and muscular Latin– especially as he is distracted by so many official and domestic responsibilities” and praising “More’s genius”. Clearly there is some joshing going on. I think especially in the case of the arguments ascribed to the Lawyer and the Friar.

    The other thing to consider is that More was at the bar and a judge for years and probably had depressing familiarity with the cases that of theft that he describes in the book as punished by death. Especially since he attributes the thefts to destitution caused by actions of the upper classes, it not surprising that he has thought of ways to fix things.

    The Turner translation is very readable. However he occasionally uses terms like “oligopoly” that are anachronistic and make you want to check out the other translation to validate.

    Lion of the Turambar

    August 9, 2016 at 11:51 am

    • “The Turner translation is very readable. However he occasionally uses terms like “oligopoly” that are anachronistic and make you want to check out the other translation to validate.”

      Indeed, when I came across “oligopoly” as well as “capitalism” and “communism,” my immediate thought was that Paul Turner overdid it with dumbing-down the Latin.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 9, 2016 at 12:08 pm

  25. “Europeans look down on us Americans for having the death penalty at all”

    Not entirely true. Even Europeans who do view it as immoral and barbaric will generally admit that if it was put to a vote of the population, every country in Europe would have a death penalty.

    J1

    August 9, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    • Elite Europeans look down on us… much to the consternation of elite Americans who for some reason give Europeans the moral high-ground, conveniently forgetting that Europeans massacred six million Jews.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 9, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      • They envy America.

        Yakov

        August 9, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      • then they’re delusional yakov.

        it used to be the US was envi-able. and in a few ways it still is.

        but nowadays most western europeans wouldn’t dream of emigrating.

        the portuguese are the only exception.

        Trumpocalypse Now

        August 9, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      • Elite Europeans regard Americans as materialistic, militaristic, religious, racist and provincial. They’ve always viewed Americans that way.

        Lewis Medlock

        August 9, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      • I do love it when Europeans call Americans racist, much like I love watching how fast their “tolerance” for other races/ethnic groups evaporates as the size of those populations increases in their country.

        J1

        August 9, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      • Elite Americans equate the Nazis with the non-elite Americans they look down on, not with contemporary Europeans.

        Hermes

        August 9, 2016 at 6:52 pm

  26. Tacitus is actually one of the hardest to read Latin prose authors because of his terse and succinct style. (Poetry like Horace or Virgil is often still harder, of course).

    But as has been pointed out, writing in Latin was not really special at all in the early 16th century. It was the official language of the church, of many legal documents and of European/international science and philosophy. This changed but fairly slowly in the 17th and 18th century (witness Newton writing the “Principia” in Latin but “Opticks” in English) but even in the 19th century a lot of academic writing was still done in Latin, because of tradition and because one could be far more sure that other scholars/scientists read Latin than English or German, not to start with Danish. (Latin actually is still used today, although basically only in Classics. I.e., if you get a critical edition of an ancient Latin or Greek text, the preface, comments and critically apparatus are usually in Latin.)
    In the 18th and 19th century French was also very common as a second language. I am pretty sure that English overtook French as most common *second* language only in the 1920s or 30s.

    parrhesia

    August 14, 2016 at 5:48 pm


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