I came across this interesting clip from a Western journalist interviewing a Soviet physicist in the 1960s. The part that caught my attention:
It amuses me when I go abroad for conferences and hear my American colleagues prattle on about the “scientific method.” I don’t doubt their sincerity. They genuinely believe that the “best science” will rise to the top through experiments and an objective weighing of the evidence. They genuinely believe that there could be a physics without politics. But in reality, of course, physics–and all science, regardless of the discipline–is whatever the dominant group says that it is. If some scientists believe Theory A, while others believe Theory B, then there are only three possible outcomes: (1) The proponents of one theory bite their tongues and pretend to believe in the oppose theory, or (2) they forfeit their academic positions or (3) they emigrate to another country where their preferred theory is the dominant one. No other outcome is possible. All science is coercive.
Now, does anybody buy the above view of science? Living as the Soviet physicist did, in a highly politicized world, you can understand why he would utter such nonsense–but clearly it is nonsense.
I don’t think Gene (and Daniel) are being fair to sophisticated versions of Rothbardian libertarianism; Mattheus von Guttenberg tries to make the case here. But I have a much simpler response: Gene and Daniel don’t even mention the fact that there are real-life pacifists who not only reject explicit violence but also hatred itself. (If you don’t believe me, skim this story.)
If Gene and Daniel were simply making an empirical claim that in practice, a non-coercive society would break down, that would be one thing. But if you read their posts, it sounds like they are saying far more than that. Indeed, they seem to be saying that by its very nature social life requires coercion.
In order to rebut this view, I will re-post some of my old essays on pacifism.