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My hunch about libertarianism and AnCap

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Wheylous Posted: Thu, Jan 3 2013 10:53 PM

Perhaps I am staying within the same circles too much. Maybe I'm visiting websites that already have my bias. Yet it seems to be that more and more the path of libertarianism points toward Anarcho-capitalism. I'm seeing Rothbard mentioned in many places (as well as For a New Liberty), I'm seeing clear expositions of libertarian stances on aggression and property (and if supporters of these stances are pressed, they could very well turn to AnCap), and I'm seeing very pure explanations of libertarianism which sound like voluntaryism.

And the thing is that I'm seeing these in many different places. FEE, Students for Liberty conferences, smaller libertarian websites, speeches of Ron Paul, etc.

If not AnCap, then we'll have a bunch of minarchists. That's not that bad.

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Wheylous:
If not AnCap, then we'll have a bunch of minarchists. That's not that bad.


Even better if we can talk them out of it once they get to minarchy.

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Are you a minarchist Wheylous?

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No, I'm an AnCap.

 

And I shall read that letter, MHGM. Thanks!

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Sphairon replied on Fri, Jan 4 2013 11:21 AM

You may be right, but that may not even be a good thing.

It means those who have stuck with the libertarian message are increasingly radicalizing and leaving comparatively fewer conduits between the mainstream and the hard core.


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Wheylous replied on Fri, Jan 4 2013 12:00 PM

I see it as a continual process, so the new guys get replenished :D

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z1235 replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 10:20 AM

myhumangetsme:

Wheylous:
If not AnCap, then we'll have a bunch of minarchists. That's not that bad.


Even better if we can talk them out of it once they get to minarchy.

 
Just a bump for the awesome link above:

 

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This is perhaps an effect of your trained perception.

By thinking so much about libertarianism all the time, you may be surrounding yourself consciously or not with pro-libertarian material or people, and paying more attention to any libertarian undertone of general purpose material.

It's like a paranoia, only that you don't perceive a threat, but something that you wish to happen.

"Blood alone moves the wheels of history" - Dwight Schrute
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hashem replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 11:53 AM

Wheylous:
If not AnCap, then we'll have a bunch of minarchists. That's not that bad

Few things are as pure evil as "necessary" evils. Minarchists (especially RP minarchists) in my experience fiercely oppose liberty, because they're so convinced that government is necessary to maintain order; this is compounded by their tendency to be opposed to any actual studying which might push them toward anarchism, because they're already so convinced; like most people who latch onto some moral ideology with emotional investment, they can't be bothered challenging something so obviously ultimate. They aren't interested in truth, just in emotional (read: moral) validation.

At least regular statism is obviously evil. But minarchism is insidiously evil and its supporters are fiercely defensive and irrationally opposed to further investigation. And of course power corrupts, so failing to overcome a problem and instead defaulting to institutionalized violence will always corrupt. And, naturally therefore, we shouldn't be surprised that minarchism has proved to be the most powerful resource for explosive government expansion.

Speaking of hunches about libertarianism and ancap, I'm increasingly leaning toward the view that both are "morally superior" backup statist ideologies, and are therefore prone to corruption and long term expanding centralization of evil power. A bunch of minarchists isn't as bad as a bunch of ancaps (ancaps are even more fiercely defensive and feel even more morally superior while still advocating institutionalized violence), so OP's right, a bunch of minarchists wouldn't be "that bad".

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Neodoxy replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 12:01 PM

"At least regular statism is obviously evil."

Why?

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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hashem replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 12:33 PM

People don't defend it with moral justification. When confronted, statists invoke a utilitarian defense, making it apparent that it's just institutionalized violence regardless of how immoral.

Worse is minarchism because its insidiously evil, invoking (pointless, invalid, et al.) moral rationalization for institutionalized violence.

And even worse is ancapism, having a seemingly thorough and consistent (but ultimately pointless, irrational) moral rationalization for institutionalized violence.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Clayton replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 12:41 PM

I'm opposed to all forms of aggression but I don't think anarchism (i.e. not even minarchism) necessarily follows; this is not to say that you can have a "really low tax" that is "morally OK"... it's just that I think you start running into definition issues at the low end of government-size. If you have a border patrol agency surrounding a contiguous, purely private property territory (a kind of regional-defense cooperative), is that agency a king? After all, they can set the parameters for expulsion from the territory and it could include expelling arbitrators that interpret the law in a way they don't like. And while the original defense cooperative may have started out as a wholly private institution, what about 3 or 4 generations down the road when the population has increased, when portions of the properties may have been subdivided and sold to outsiders? The later generations were not "party" to the original "pact" that created the defense co-op. You see where I'm going with it.

The point is that the realities of implementing this deceptively simple norm - "don't aggress" - are actually very complex. I think the root problem with most people who come to libertarianism is not that they don't strongly enough want elimination of aggression from society. I think the root problem is that they don't fully grasp the complexities of the issues (who does??) The inevitable byproduct of this shallow understanding is utopianism... the desire to "clean the slate and start from scratch." History is a terrible lesson in the futility and atrocity of even attempting to clean the slate and start from scratch. It can't even be done. And even if it could be done, it's not at all clear that it is the correct way forward.

To sum up, I'm against pushing the Big Red Button and I think Rothbard would have re-thought it had the inter-dependency of human relations been brought to his attention in response. We are all exising in a web of social relations that is in some very complex sense "balanced"... an overnight re-arrangement of that web would have massive, unpredictable - yet certainly very bad - effects on the real, existing human relations.

I think the fastest we can hope to really "expunge" the State (or at least push the pendulum to the point of inevitability) from society is one generation... but that's all! A generation is generally counted to be 25 years or so. And that's not bad. That fits easily within a human lifetime.

To explain why I say this, I'll point your attention to the idea of "brain plasticity" in neuroscience. Basically, the brain of a child is constantly massively reconfiguring itself in ways that will turn out to have lifelong consequences for the child's adult brain, once grown. Once grown, the brain stops this process and is no longer "plastic"... the neural connections are "baked in."

Think of all the children born into the world this year. Those children will be adults in 2030. Between now and then, they will be forming a social network - friends, family, associates, etc. By the time they are adults, this network will tend to settle down and "bake in". In other words, social networks exhibit a kind of plasticity. But not only do the social networks themselves exhibit this behavior but people's mores do, as well. Children are clearly meant to be learning "ought" and "ought not" from adults during childhood... these will have played a critical role in survival in the ancestral environment. All of this "bakes in" during childhood and is very "non-plastic" in adulthood, just like the brain itself.

The problem with the State that makes it so difficult to challenge is that most of the social machinery that makes the State work - the social norms and social connections held by many, disparate individuals and networks of individuals - is "baked in" already. In other words, there isn't much hope of convincing the retired guy down in Florida that fought in Korea and is collecting Social Security that "the system is aggressive and corrupt." It's already baked in. He's already spent an entire lifetime adjusting his own actions and beliefs to make the best of his circumstances - which is perfectly natural.

So, clearly, the answer is to not worry about changing these guys' minds. Step 1 is to simply exit politics. It's a waste of time... it's run by all the old fuddy-duddys who just want smooth sailing, they don't want headaches and changes... and who can blame them?

Step 2 is to appeal to the young adults who have not yet formed families and children. This is what Ron Paul has been doing to massive effect. But there is an unusual opportunity that has been created by the Ron Paul effect that we should not let slip through our fingers, because...

Step 3 is natalism! Producing the networks that these young Ron Paul supporters who are 18, 19, 20 years old today will need when they settle down and start to have children in order to teach those children how f'd up the system is and what can be done to change it. For example, a Misesean homeschool curriculum for social sciences would be a great resource in this direction. There are millions of homeschoolers in the US and those numbers will continue to grow as the government's schools inevitably become worse and worse. Imagine a growing percentage of those kids learning from elementary school about the subjectivity of valuation, about the mutual benefits of exchange, and so on.

So, if you really love liberty and you really want to change things, stop trying to clean the slate - there's already a "blank slate" right in front of you... the next generation. Get to work. Make "liberty for kids" YouTube videos. Get a PhD and put together a liberty-based social science homeschool curriculum. Start a meetup group for young liberty lovers in your area (it doesn't have to be SFL, maybe you have your own idea on how to go about it). Start a family and teach them about liberty! You get the idea...

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hashem replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 1:39 PM

Occasionally I agree with Clayton to some extent; this is one of this instances. Naturally a few critical thoughts also present, and this response doesn't fail in that regard.

Clayton:
History is a terrible lesson in the futility and atrocity of even attempting to clean the slate and start from scratch. It can't even be done. And even if it could be done, it's not at all clear that it is the correct way forward.

Absolutely. Hopefully I can demonstrate the irony of you having this view while simultaneously advocating the idea that the genetic traits which produce this fact can be overridden by impacting beliefs. Hopefully also, I'm not misunderstanding you and please believe I don't intend to misrepresent you.

Clayton:
The point is that the realities of implementing this deceptively simple norm - "don't aggress" - are actually very complex.

Absolutely...even impossible (absent genetic modifications). I want to argue that this is due to our genetics, not due to the beliefs of any given generation.

Clayton:
...root problem...neuroplasticity..."baked in"...

This is where I tend to be critical of your overall thought process. Disregarding the very real fact of the capacity of an adult brain for neuroplasticity and neurogenesis (especially in the future with bioengineering), I want to comment on the connection between a concept of "baked in" and the root problem. "Baked in" are our genes. Our genes produce societies of beings characterized by the tendency toward hegemonic dominance hierarchies. Naturally therefore, "power corrupts". The capacity of this tendency to manifest is restricted by various environmental factors, to be sure, but "baked into" our genes is the tendency toward corruption, not the environmental factors themselves. Thus the root problem isn't the beliefs of any given generation, it's the fact that we're genetically homo sapiens and on the whole we tend to prefer having more power than less, and tend to exhibit in-group loyalty and out-group hostility and all the psychological facts resulting in a species which exhibits the tendency to perpetuate hegemonic dominance hierarchies.

That this is even a "problem" may be considered a misunderstanding. That we have this tendency isn't a "problem" that needs to be "fixed". Rather, this tendency evolved for small groups, and so as we're increasingly linked in ever-larger groups through social networking technologies, and as we rely less and less on our natural genetic structure, the tendency toward HDHs may cause less tragedy for individual gene-carrying machines in the future.

Sure, bioengineering and social networking technologies may nullify the genetic tendency within a generation. But the tendency won't nullify itself through efforts to change the beliefs of a generation. That said, I do support the views that change starts with the individual, and to a limited extent that you be the change you want to see, and to an even more limited extent that you don't treat others as you don't want others to treat you.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Clayton replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 3:07 PM

@hashem: When I say "root cause" I do not mean root cause of the State, I mean, root cause of the fixity of the State order. In my view, the root cause of the State itself is natural (agricultural revolution) but the solution is moral (and exists). As far as genes go, I will simply point to other genetic dispositions which human beings have - such as the urge to rape or male jealous rage - and note that the social order can actually counteract even very powerful genetic tendencies, on the whole. This is why human beings have catapulted out of the primitive state of nature vis-a-vis all other species. Unlike those species, we have the mechanisms to alter our environment - including humanity itself (as just another aspect of the environment) and these mechanisms have given rise to extremely rapid alteration of the environment and the social order, relative to the rate of change of other genetic systems.

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hashem replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 4:17 PM

Point well taken, and in line with what I was getting at. Humans have genetic drives that are tempered by environmental factors. So I'm with you in that theoretically we can push the pendulum toward a peaceful ideology, and that since humans act based on their beliefs we can thus achieve a peaceful society. I would just clarify that the genetic drive toward statism hasn't therefore been overcome, just repressed when and to the extent that environmental factors continue to impress restrictions and proper incentives upon it.

Clayton:
we have the mechanisms to alter our environment - including humanity itself (as just another aspect of the environment) and these mechanisms have given rise to extremely rapid alteration of the environment and the social order, relative to the rate of change of other genetic systems.

Absolutely. What I've been arguing is that homo sapiens does tend to expand its sphere of power of the natural world, so it's nice to see someone else acknowledge this somewhat. Like you said, this has given and will continue to give "rise to extremely rapid alteration of the environment and the social order". I'm saying that the alterations relevant to "expunging" statism will be more along the lines of restrictions that are forced upon us as we move into ages of social networking technologies and genetic engineering, and less due to a sudden intentional change in the mindset of an entire society in a single generation. Because power is already well entrenched and established, in practice and in our genes, so it's not likely to be persuaded out of the mindset of society, and it's not likely that those in power will give it up so easily. But it is likely that we'll continue to advance social networking and genetic engineering, and society will experience a shift in the incentives toward violent power whether any given individual actively chooses to want that or not, because we'll be more interconnected and, as each person wants the best for himself, so society will want (and have the knowledge to properly choose) the best for everyone the more interconnected we become.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Clayton replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 4:41 PM

Those in power will never be persuaded to voluntarily lay it down. It has never once happened and never will. But it's not about those in power, since they are a negligible minority of the population... it's about humanity generally.

As far as changes being forced by circumstances, I somewhat disagree. I think that any technology can be turned to the use of those in power. The use of broadcast technologies such as radio and television for centralization of military and economic power in the 20th century are obvious examples. It's often taken for granted today that radio and television should have this effect but that is not what was envisioned the inventors of these technologies, who foresaw humanity becoming more intelligent, more well-informed, etc. (which has actually happened, by the way).

So, if technological changes are ultimately to be harnessed in a direction that serves the purposes of all individuals instead of the purposes of a tiny Elite, there must be self-conscious application of these changes in that direction. This is because the social order is, in fact, a "mixed economy". While no one can even come close to completely controlling the social order, the Elites are able to shift the social order this way or that way, using the immense resources at their disposal. Language is the perfect illustration of this tug-of-war. Language is inherently anarchic... no one controls it. No one "invents" the dictionary. Yet the Elite do, in fact, push the language in directions that suit their purposes. They don't have total control and they can't just dictate to people how they will use language but they can induce deep changes in language over time. The word "monopoly" is a great example of this in action as Rothbard and others have illuminated... but there are countless other examples. The feminist demonization of the gender-neutral use of "he" "his" "man" "-man" etc. in English is another great example. It will take some time before the feminist alterations "bake in" to English but at least some of them eventually will.

The unconscious process of social evolution is too immense to be arbitrarily rewritten as the Elites might like to do. They understand that. But the key here is time-scale. Just as culture can change much faster than genes, giving rise to the rapid evolution of the human social order, so the conscious action of the Elites responds much more rapidly than the unconscious process of social evolution. The Bush administration, for example, was able to twist language to suit specific agenda items in the War on Terror ("enemy combatant" "detainee" "military tribunal" "enhanced interrogation" etc. etc.) These language twists will certainly die in time but they have already served their purpose, so it doesn't matter.

Unopposed, this rapid process of conscious direction of the process of social evolution by the Elites will result in perpetual failure of the social order to give birth to a genuinely liberal society, as it naturally would do if it were not for the continual intervention of the Elites. Nevertheless, as the old saying goes "two can play that game." And, in fact, the job of the liberal "interventionist" is infinitely easier than the job of the Elites since all we need to do is simply undo what they're trying to do. No positive action is required to bring about a liberal social order, it will happen naturally because it is efficient. All we need to do is defuse the distortions of language, the corruptions of mores and culture, the dehumanization of the individual, and so on. They're the ones fighting gravity, not us.

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And as long as I'm shilling for Childs, Libertarianism.org recently released a very nicely priced collection of Childs' essays for the Kindle which I highly recommend.  It enthusiastically covers most of his writings before he turned to the dark side.  It's one of those collections that's so far outside of what you normally expect from Cato-think, it makes you wonder...

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hashem replied on Sat, Jan 5 2013 8:55 PM

Going with your point that the power elite are a minority, consider the implications of a few subsidiary assertions...

- The basic driving motives for action are power and pleasure

- The power elite are by necessity, not by desire, opposed to the flourishing of the masses, not because they value seeing others suffer, but because they enjoy power and pleasure, and given the current and historical state of technology flourishing masses threaten that power since it comes at their expense

- Humanity on the whole (maybe not necessarily for every individual in all circumstances at all times) tends to expand its sphere of power over the natural world

- Humanity tends toward social networking since that expands our capacity to achieve power and pleasure, and through technology we'll continue to expand our sphere of power over natural limitations to that tendancy

- Humanity (again, on the whole, not at the individual level) doesn't derive enjoyment from watching others suffer, but rather we do want power and pleasure and given the state of technology that currently comes at the expense of others. As a corollary, the power elite want power and pleasure, and violent subjugation of the masses has been a means to that end but it isn't the end in itself.

- Genetic engineering and biomechanical engineering will eventually lead us to overcome many (all, and more than we can even fathom right now?) natural genetic limitations

I find myself adding these ideas together and seeing a future where the masses are more interconnected, intelligent, and empowered. Simultaneously, the power elite will be able to achieve power and pleasure while gradually finding less and less incentive to cause suffering as a means to that end. So if humanity is tending to be interconnected and powerful (and as a corollary, more intelligent), then it will tend more and more to act as a unified being, the way billions of different organisms work together toward the flourishing of a body. And like you said the power elite are a minority,  so as humanity tends to have greater incentive to work together toward pleasure and power, so will they have less incentive to be, as you pointed out, the minority going against the flow.

I also think of progress in terms of creative solutions that don't require violent subjugation or force over others. So if there is in face a natural genetic drive toward violent subjugation, maybe we'll alter that genetically. Or maybe people will have access to virtual realities where they can be psychopaths there instead of meeting that need through violence or control of real people. Or any combination of the two or any other possibilities.

Obviously, like you said the power elite react to trends and changes in technology, and could theoretically (and do in fact, at least during the current state of technology where the incentive is to) use propaganda and technology to permanently limit the capacity of masses to oppose them. But I tend to feel like homo sapiens just wants power and pleasure, and the only reason violence and force are mainstream institutions is because of the lack of technology throughout history—in other words, due to the lack of technological capacity for creative, nonviolent, nonforceful solutions. I see that changing in the future, and I see the tendency toward social networking playing a major role in limiting the incentive toward violence (compounded by the fact that the elite are a minority necessarily opposed to the flourishing of said interconnected humanity).

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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I think you're right. This may be a kind of "golden age" for it.

Why that is, hard to tell (other than the obvious RP campaign); my guess, the fact that the system is obviously in a state of decline unparalleld in some time (60's maybe?) causing radicalism - mixed with the obviousness that left wingers are bat shit crazy, and it's somehow become slightly more difficult to hide behind their typical BS.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Clayton replied on Sun, Jan 6 2013 12:16 PM

 The basic driving motives for action are power and pleasure

I would cut this down to just pleasure. Power is actually a means, it is not an end in itself. Suppose Alice is pinning Bob down to the ground. She has power over him. For what end? Pinning Bob down as an exhibition of dominance could arguably be called a simple exercise of power for power's sake, but even here, we can safely say "because it brings her pleasure." So pleasure remains the only ultimate end of human action and power is a means.

I would say that liberty is the ultimate means to the attainment of pleasure. This is what makes liberty so important! And the line between liberty and power is conscience and law. In this sense, the Elites can actually be thought of as a kind of libertarian... they simply want to maximize their own liberty and if the masses do a bad job of defending their liberties, well, that's too bad for them. My point though is that in order to be able to distinguish between proper and improper means to the attainment of pleasure (liberty and power, respectively), we need a healthy context of social norms giving rise (through the division-of-labor) to morality and law.

We are definitely on the cusp of some astonishing technological achievements in genetics. But I would rather see us start to shift things towards liberty before we get there, if possible.... in other words, as soon as possible. I don't believe there is anything inherent in past technologies or in the fact of resource limitations that necessitates power. In fact, I hold that, logically, the wanton exercise of power (economic parasitism) can only go on unmitigated during periods of rapid expansion. As we reach the boundaries and there are no more frontiers left, power itself has to be scaled back. This is the inexorable logic of evolution... those organisms that permit themselves to be wantonly exploited by the parasites will be selected out of the population.

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hashem replied on Sun, Jan 6 2013 1:29 PM

Clayton:
I would cut this down to just pleasure. Power is actually a means, it is not an end in itself.

Fair enough.

Clayton:
Elites can actually be thought of as...simply want[ing] to maximize their own liberty and if the masses do a bad job of defending their liberties, well, that's too bad for them.

Precisely, that's what I'm getting at also. To maximize pleasure, the state of technology has required them to subjugate the masses. So the incentive toward violence will diminish as technology replaces violence as the primary means to the end of pleasure. This compounded by an increasingly interconnected humanity tending toward...whatever the term is in biology when the different organisms are connected to such a point that they form (or effectively form, as in a symbiotic relationship) a single being/body, and therefore what's best for one is best for all, producing the incentive to work together and eliminating the incentive to violently subjugate each other. Think of social networking as the nervous system of the future interconnected humanity, whereby the individual parts are aware of how to maximize their pleasure by maximizing the pleasure of the other parts.

I have to ask though, why do you make a dichotomy between power and liberty? It seems that power is a prerequisite for liberty, and power by no means implies violence... Power permits liberty (and/or the exercise of present liberty), which permits pleasure. If you want to fly, then having the power to do so permits you to be at liberty (or to exercise your present liberty) to do so, which pleases you.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 6 2013 1:44 PM

myhumangetsme:

And as long as I'm shilling for Childs, Libertarianism.org recently released a very nicely priced collection of Childs' essays for the Kindle which I highly recommend.  It enthusiastically covers most of his writings before he turned to the dark side.  It's one of those collections that's so far outside of what you normally expect from Cato-think, it makes you wonder...

Thx for the heads up. Just downloaded it. Especially curious about his "...late-in-life repudiation of anarchy."

 

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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 6 2013 1:55 PM

hashem:
Precisely, that's what I'm getting at also. To maximize pleasure, the state of technology has required them to subjugate the masses. So the incentive toward violence will diminish as technology replaces violence as the primary means to the end of pleasure.

You forget that, to a psychopath, one of the main sources of pleasure is the excercise of power over others. A psychopath cannot attain his ends (pleasure) without using other humans as means. IMO, the path to a free society is not by changing the psychopatic minority be it through argumentation (sure), genetic engineering, or technology, but through educating the productive majority about the manipulation methods of the psychopaths and persuading them that submitting to a psychopathic minority is not only not necessary but counter-productive as means towards the end of a flourishing society. Technology (internet, networks, access to information) helps with this process of education and persuasion. 

I have to ask though, why do you make a dichotomy between power and liberty? It seems that power is a prerequisite for liberty, and power by no means implies violence... Power permits liberty (and/or the exercise of present liberty), which permits pleasure. If you want to fly, then having the power to do so permits you to be at liberty (or to exercise your present liberty) to do so, which pleases you.

I assume he's talking about exercising power/force over others

 
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Malachi replied on Sun, Jan 6 2013 2:14 PM
Z, do you think that a prerequisite for a free society would be the conscious willingness of all individuals to take active mental responsibility for their own security?
Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 6 2013 3:07 PM

Malachi:
Z, do you think that a prerequisite for a free society would be the conscious willingness of all individuals to take active mental responsibility for their own security?

Security/defense is merely one of the goods/services demanded (subjectively valued) by humans. I think a prerequisite for a free society is "the conscious willingness of all individuals to take active mental responsibility for" anything they subjectively value (demand). However, this by no means precludes attaining those goods/services via division of labor and voluntary market exchange. 

 

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Clayton replied on Sun, Jan 6 2013 6:54 PM

Precisely, that's what I'm getting at also. To maximize pleasure, the state of technology has required them to subjugate the masses. So the incentive toward violence will diminish as technology replaces violence as the primary means to the end of pleasure. This compounded by an increasingly interconnected humanity tending toward...whatever the term is in biology when the different organisms are connected to such a point that they form (or effectively form, as in a symbiotic relationship) a single being/body, and therefore what's best for one is best for all, producing the incentive to work together and eliminating the incentive to violently subjugate each other. Think of social networking as the nervous system of the future interconnected humanity, whereby the individual parts are aware of how to maximize their pleasure by maximizing the pleasure of the other parts.

 

I don't see an a priori trade-off between technology and violence and I think history bears it out well that technology of any kind serves the ends of the political class just fine.

I have to ask though, why do you make a dichotomy between power and liberty? It seems that power is a prerequisite for liberty, and power by no means implies violence... Power permits liberty (and/or the exercise of present liberty), which permits pleasure. If you want to fly, then having the power to do so permits you to be at liberty (or to exercise your present liberty) to do so, which pleases you.

Well, the word power is not strictly necessary to the analysis. But the usage of the phrase "has power over" denotes a domination over someone, to have them at your beck and call, to impose your will upon them in the broadest possible sense. In order to distinguish between, say, Rasputin's "power" over the Tsar's family versus the Tsar's power over his vassals requires that we talk about human nature, something I think you and I have disagreed over. So, if you think the mind is a blank slate, you're going to have difficulty seeing any meaningful distinction between voluntary and involuntary power.

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Jan 6 2013 8:19 PM

"People don't defend it with moral justification. When confronted, statists invoke a utilitarian defense, making it apparent that it's just institutionalized violence regardless of how immoral.

Worse is minarchism because its insidiously evil, invoking (pointless, invalid, et al.) moral rationalization for institutionalized violence.

And even worse is ancapism, having a seemingly thorough and consistent (but ultimately pointless, irrational) moral rationalization for institutionalized violence."

So everyone is evil? And what is evil anyway?

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hashem replied on Mon, Jan 7 2013 2:54 PM

Neodoxy:
So everyone is evil? And what is evil anyway?

I tend to use it in reference to causing people to suffer who don't want to suffer. Closer to the third definition here than to the first or second. I wouldn't say I do a lot of evil, and I'd say the suffering that others experience if I do evil is probably minimal, and I'd say that I actively try to avoid doing evil, and I tend to oppose evil ideologies. So if evil can be thought of in terms of the severity of its effects, and the intent of the actor, I'd say some people are less evil than others.

z1235:
I assume he's talking about exercising power/force over others.

I thought so too, but I didn't want to put words in his mouth; and without meaning to put words in his mouth, I still feel that way after his explanation. In other words, power is may be used to restrict liberty, but it's always necessary for liberty (either to acquire liberty, or to exercise present liberty).

Also, re: psychopaths, I don't tend to think the power elite necessarily want to see people suffer. They really probably have better things to do. In my estimation they want pleasure, and in line with human nature they want at least what they're accustomed to and preferably more. So given technology in its current and historical state, elites have tended to exhibit psychopathic characteristics—but they probably aren't purely psychopathic, and they would probably be quite satisfied to acquire even more power and pleasure without having to make others suffer (especially as they're more and more convinced that the masses aren't a threat, which in turn will be a result of an increasingly unified humanity).

Re: evil and psychopaths, most things can be thought of in terms of varying degrees, and there's always the incentives to consider. Many "psychopaths" probably aren't purely psychopathic, and incentives probably exhibit strong pressure on determining the extent to which their psychopathic urges manifest.

@ Clayton

The reason I see a sort of "trade off" as you call it is based on my subsidiary assertions. Humanity, including the elites, don't tend to want to see others suffer for the sake of seeing others suffer; rather they want pleasure, and causing the suffering of others has been a necessary means to that end thus far in history. Why? Because of lack of technology. People can't just be in a state of maximum and growing pleasure all the time, because we haven't had the appropriate technology to facilitate that.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Clayton replied on Mon, Jan 7 2013 3:51 PM

@hashem: Hmm, I agree to an extent that technology relieves us of some of the burdens the Elites used to saddle us with... for example, the automobile performs the work once performed by slaves hand-carrying the ruler. However, I think that one of the chief pleasures that is sought by the Elites is security... not only in the sense of protection from martial threats but also in the insurance sense of protection in the event of catastrophe. They want the feeling that they are "the last in line to die" should some cataclysmic event occur or whatever. To maintain this kind of security requires the subjugation of all others and to remain "king of the hill", so to speak. So the drive to hierarchy is built in to the human psyche and when unshackled from the constraints of scarcity (by the use of political means), it expresses itself in subjugation and domination.

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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Jan 7 2013 3:54 PM

"I tend to use it in reference to causing people to suffer who don't want to suffer. Closer to the third definition here than to the first or second. I wouldn't say I do a lot of evil, and I'd say the suffering that others experience if I do evil is probably minimal, and I'd say that I actively try to avoid doing evil, and I tend to oppose evil ideologies."

But that ideology is evil if you actually try to prevent people from enacting evil ideologies.

"So if evil can be thought of in terms of the severity of its effects, and the intent of the actor, I'd say some people are less evil than others."

Well what ideology do you advocate that isn't evil, exactly?

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hashem replied on Mon, Jan 7 2013 10:09 PM

Clayton:
I think that one of the chief pleasures that is sought by the Elites is security... not only in the sense of protection from martial threats but also in the insurance sense of protection in the event of catastrophe. They want the feeling that they are "the last in line to die" should some cataclysmic event occur or whatever. To maintain this kind of security requires the subjugation of all others and to remain "king of the hill", so to speak. So the drive to hierarchy is built in to the human psyche and when unshackled from the constraints of scarcity (by the use of political means), it expresses itself in subjugation and domination.

A clever response... Ok but you'll at least concede that, therefore, as the expectation of catasrophy is minimized, the incentive to subjugate others in order to "maintain the hill" is marginalized? Or alternatively, as humanity is increasingly interconnected, then the way to minimize the possibility of/damage from catastrophe is explicitly to avoid harming others based on the concept that in a unified body what's good for the body is good for its parts?

Re: the drive to hierarchy; Of course you know by now I'm solid believer in the reality of this drive. But can you fathom scenarios where the drive is minimized or marginalized? Alternatively it can obviously be eliminated through bioengineering, but can you imagine scenarios where elites would no longer have the incentive to oppose that progress?

Neodoxy:
But that ideology is evil if you actually try to prevent people from enacting evil ideologies.

I agree. I'm not opposed to evil, certainly not on some superstitious mystical "rights" ground. What I mean is, I don't claim that to be evil is synonymous with "morally wrong". Further, I acknowledge that the world is unfair, and that staggering amounts of suffering will happen for the forseeable future, based solely on the human genome (aka human nature). As a member of the species homo sapiens, I am affected by the suffering of myself to the greatest degree, my family and friends to a lesser degree, and various other people to lesser degrees. So I'm not opposed to various degrees of violence being used to prevent the suffering of those people, but neither do I actively advocate that these people use violence. I simply acknowledge that people will act based on what their brain tells them to do, so if they use violence that's their choice, and if they don't then so be it. As for myself, I may or may not use violence to defend myself, I really can't say because I haven't needed to. But if I do use violence, I won't claim that I had some magical "right" to do so, I'll just be a man and acknowledge reality and accept that my brain calculated a decision based on information it's been processing since before I—my consciousness—ever showed up on the scene.

Neodoxy:
Well what ideology do you advocate that isn't evil, exactly?

I don't. I feel pacifism as the least-evil ideology, and the inevitable trend given so many factors about human nature (mainly the tendency to build technology to expand our sphere of control over natural factors, and also the tendency toward social networks) but I'm also realistic enough to acknowledge that given the current state of affairs in the history of humanity such an ideology is begging to be exploited. Really, I just advocate that people learn as much as they can and act in their best interest—and if you end up using violence, reflect on the experiences in your life, and the facts of reality beyond and within your control which resulted in you making that decision, and learn from that reflection to act in your best interest more effectively in the future. I'm living this life absolutely for me, fuck the world, the world is going to do what it's going to do regardless of my life—it just so happens that I don't feel motivated to cause others to suffer, and right now I'm gonna roll with that.

But I don't judge people who do feel motivated to cause others to suffer. I realize they have human brains and I try to empathize with what factors in their life caused them to be motivated that way; and I have various degrees of motivation to do something about it depending on the degree to which I feel connected to those suffering. I can imagine that if I was a super-elite, I'd minimize feelings for people who's suffering I gained by through working to be as abstracted and dissociated from thoughts of their suffering as possible.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Jan 7 2013 10:27 PM

Ah, nihilism and secular agnosticism. Nietzsche would be very disappointed in you Hashem, but at least your complete lack of real advocacy is internally consistent.

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Jargon replied on Mon, Jan 7 2013 10:38 PM

Land & Liberty

The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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Clayton replied on Mon, Jan 7 2013 11:02 PM

@hashem: As always, the only thing that will change human drives is genetics, and no, I don't think that genetic engineering of humans can address this, being as it is the most dangerous and unpredictable sort of central-planning. Other than that, we should deal with this drive in the same way as we deal with any other anti-social drive... by allowing the costs to be rationalized onto the responsible individual. When the costs of aggressing against others in order to subjugate are borne by the aggressor, the benefit of such aggression is drastically reduced.

I don't think that even technology in the capitalist economy mitigates the problem, either, because a catacylsm can be social, as well as natural... riots, revolutions, market crashes, wars, and so on. We all want to be safe, and the human brain is wired (and the wiring is probably more correct than we are comfortable acknowledging) to believe that being high on the social ladder is the best and surest safety of all.

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Neodoxy replied on Tue, Jan 8 2013 12:38 AM

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