Thread: The Second Precept and Anarcho-Capitalism

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    The Second Precept and Anarcho-Capitalism

    The second precept states:

    "2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

    I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given."

    Does this mean that as Buddhists we should only accept charity and not welfare, since welfare payments are forceably taken whilst charity is freely given? If so, then does this precept then lend support to the ideology of anarcho-capitalism?

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    I think it does not because welfare is not "taken". It is offered ("given") and accepted. If anaracho-capiitalists want to make an issue around this it should be to talk about how governments buy support in the ways they spend their money.

    I think that perhaps a better expression of the intent of the precept would be: "I undertake the precept to refrain from claiming ownership over that which is not offered."

    chownah

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    Hi clw-uk

    I think it is important to understand the principle behind the precepts which is ultimately not to do harm, like the killing of animals for food :-


    "Since the very beginning of Buddhism over 2500 years ago, Buddhist monks and nuns have depended on almsfood. They were, and still are, prohibited from growing their own food, storing their own provisions or cooking their own meals. Instead, every morning they would make their day's meal out of whatever was freely given to them by lay supporters. Whether it was rich food or coarse food, delicious or awful tasting it was to be accepted with gratitude and eaten regarding it as medicine. The Buddha laid down several rules forbidding monks from asking for the food that they liked. As a result, they would receive just the sort of meals that ordinary people ate - and that was often meat.

    Once, a rich and influential general by the name of Siha (meaning 'Lion') went to visit the Buddha. Siha had been a famous lay supporter of the Jain monks but he was so impressed and inspired by the Teachings he heard from the Buddha that he took refuge in the Triple Gem (i.e. he became a Buddhist). General Siha then invited the Buddha, together with the large number of monks accompanying Him, to a meal at his house in the city the following morning. In preparation for the meal, Siha told one of his servants to buy some meat from the market for the feast. When the Jain monks heard of their erstwhile patron's conversion to Buddhism and the meal that he was preparing for the Buddha and the monks, they were somewhat peeved:

    "Now at the time many Niganthas (Jain monks), waving their arms, were moaning from carriage road to carriage road, from cross road to cross road in the city: 'Today a fat beast, killed by Siha the general, is made into a meal for the recluse Gotama (the Buddha), the recluse Gotama makes use of this meat knowing that it was killed on purpose for him, that the deed was done for his sake'..." [1].

    Siha was making the ethical distinction between buying meat already prepared for sale and ordering a certain animal to be killed, a distinction which is not obvious to many westerners but which recurs throughout the Buddha's own teachings. Then, to clarify the position on meat eating to the monks, the Buddha said:

    "Monks, I allow you fish and meat that are quite pure in three respects: if they are not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. But, you should not knowingly make use of meat killed on purpose for you."[2]

    https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma3/meat.html
    As taxes are taken and welfare is distributed from the gathered pot as government sees fit, it is not in the control of the welfare recipients to affect directly the collection of the monies they receive and it would be taken whether or not they recieved it, possibly spent on much less worthy causes than relieving poverty.

    In as much as it needs a state organisation to actually take and distribute the monies, it does go against the idea of anarcho capitalism, I personally think bad as capitalist governments are, it is preferable to the anarchy of the survival of the fittest, or most powerful, given the current examples of unfettered human nature we can see in the world today
    Last edited by Aloka; 10 Sep 17 at 10:40. Reason: formatting

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    Just a quick comment. In general anarchists do not promote anarchy and in general anarchism does not promote anarchy.

    chownah

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    mcKmike -

    Thanks for your reply. The recipients are only taking what is legally given to them true, but the state forcibly took the funds from someone else to give to them. Is it against the Dhamma to accept money or materials if the person given it has forcibly taken it from another, and we are aware of this fact?

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    Isn't the issue as you frame it alot wider? If there is a thief in your community and you know that this thief supports itself through thieving then should one associate with this thief at all?

    Taking "goverment" to be the thief for the purposes of this analogy should one pay taxes at all? Should one cooperate with the police? If called to court should one cooperate with the preceedings? If a football match is being held in a stadium which was partly financed by the government should one watch it on TV?

    I'm just asking. I am not trying or wanting to support non-engagement with the government.

    chownah
    Last edited by Aloka; 13 Sep 17 at 03:25. Reason: abbreviated words

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chownah View Post
    Isn't the issue as you frame it alot wider? If there is a thief in your community and you know that this thief supports itself through thieving then should one associate with this thief at all?

    Taking "goverment" to be the thief for the purposes of this analogy should one pay taxes at all? Should one cooperate with the police? If called to court should one cooperate with the preceedings? If a football match is being held in a stadium which was partly financed by the government should one watch it on TV?

    I'm just asking. I am not trying or wanting to support non-engagement with the government.

    chownah

    Interesting dilemmas. In reality we do not have much of a choice but to co-operate, otherwise we face prison and ruined livelihoods. Still, that doesn't make it ethical. Perhaps in our society the only way to be true to the 2nd precept is to renounce the world? The monks life is one of voluntarism, where they only take what is freely given.

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    You can't properly renounce the world.

    We have to live, work, earn and spend in the society we find ourselves. For society to remain stable there has to be government (preferably a fairly elected one), and government has to be paid for by taxation.

    Monks think they have renounced the world, by having no possessions and living as they do, but they depend on the offerings of the people otherwise they would starve and cease to be.

    I think we have to compromise in our life-choices. I see that as part of following the Middle Way.

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