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Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: wdg3rd on December 16, 2011, 08:28:26 pm

Title: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: wdg3rd on December 16, 2011, 08:28:26 pm
Why is the phrase "Neannie Get Your Gun" invading my head?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: TMIAHM on December 19, 2011, 11:31:08 pm
Are lawyers human?  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

AWESOME LINE!

I worked that out and came up with NO!  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on December 20, 2011, 07:56:56 am
Are lawyers human?  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

AWESOME LINE!

I worked that out and came up with NO!  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

No, but they are a great source of emergency protein! ;)
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on December 20, 2011, 02:38:56 pm
No, but they are a great source of emergency protein! ;)

Unless they go into politics, where it rapidly transmutes to rock-embedded fat (above the neck) and hot air.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: spudit on December 20, 2011, 07:02:27 pm
This arc sounds really good and I hope it is a nice long one.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: knoodelhed on December 21, 2011, 01:31:49 am
Quote from: tobi
So how do we know all this?

Let me guess.

"One of our moles has been in communication with the girl."
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Big.Swede on December 21, 2011, 09:39:48 pm
The fact that they are trying to justify it with her not "being human" is troubling in more ways than might first appear. Let´s see if i can make my thoughts understood here.

She is sentient, that much is obvious. But, if she is classified as not human, and that makes it within the "law" to kill her without reprisal. Then what is to stop "lawfull" murders on other sentients that would not classify as human? Other biologicals, AI´s and extra terrestials/dimensionals would be under direct threat. Or how about enslavement? Those rules only apply to humans, not "others".

And how soon would it be untill someone made up a hominid embryo with just enough non-homo sapien sapien DNA in to not classify as human and then start selling them of as cheap labor that has no rights.

And once that slope has been propperly oiled... What kind of DNA code does truly classify as human? Does yours? Does mine? Or would it just be the fat cats with money to burn on getting their will through?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: ContraryGuy on December 22, 2011, 01:25:31 am
The fact that they are trying to justify it with her not "being human" is troubling in more ways than might first appear. Let´s see if i can make my thoughts understood here.

She is sentient, that much is obvious. But, if she is classified as not human, and that makes it within the "law" to kill her without reprisal. Then what is to stop "lawfull" murders on other sentients that would not classify as human? Other biologicals, AI´s and extra terrestials/dimensionals would be under direct threat. Or how about enslavement? Those rules only apply to humans, not "others".

And how soon would it be untill someone made up a hominid embryo with just enough non-homo sapien sapien DNA in to not classify as human and then start selling them of as cheap labor that has no rights.

And once that slope has been propperly oiled... What kind of DNA code does truly classify as human? Does yours? Does mine? Or would it just be the fat cats with money to burn on getting their will through?

Big Swede raises great points; points that have and are being being raised all around in both fiction and real world.

Its those last two paragraphs that sound an awful like like Sandy's Anarcho-capitalist society.

"Do as thou wilt, without harm or aggression to others, shall be the whole of the law"

How does an AnCap society enforce basic morals and ethics on people or companies (or companies who are also people) who have enough money to do as they please?

Before everyone corrects me by saying "AnCaps dont enforce anything on anyone", I know that.
But, in an AnCap society, slavery is not only legal, but practiced; both personal and economic.

"He who has the gold, makes the rules."

In a sci-fi setting where the technology for such things exists, how do AnCappers prevent clone slaves?  Are they human, and thus worth protecting, or are they merely creations who mimic life, like Tickle Me Elmo.
No goes to jail for beating up a Tickle Me Elmo; would the same apply to a cloned slave?

What if clones are raised to adult-hood merely so rich people can have rejection-free replacement organs?
This is clearly allowed and probably acceptable in an AnCap society.  Theres no authority to say otherwise.

"He who has the gold, makes the rules."
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Bob G on December 22, 2011, 05:45:43 am
Aaand the troll is back. . .
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: wdg3rd on December 22, 2011, 06:26:26 am
The fact that they are trying to justify it with her not "being human" is troubling in more ways than might first appear. Let´s see if i can make my thoughts understood here.

She is sentient, that much is obvious. But, if she is classified as not human, and that makes it within the "law" to kill her without reprisal. Then what is to stop "lawfull" murders on other sentients that would not classify as human? Other biologicals, AI´s and extra terrestials/dimensionals would be under direct threat. Or how about enslavement? Those rules only apply to humans, not "others".

And how soon would it be untill someone made up a hominid embryo with just enough non-homo sapien sapien DNA in to not classify as human and then start selling them of as cheap labor that has no rights.

And once that slope has been propperly oiled... What kind of DNA code does truly classify as human? Does yours? Does mine? Or would it just be the fat cats with money to burn on getting their will through?

Suggested reading:

Friday by Robert A. Heinlien
Sims by F. Paul Wilson
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on December 22, 2011, 09:13:43 am
There's no way someone in an AnCap society could be prevented from vat-growing slaves by the dozens, or doing what he wanted with them unless your AnCap society has enforcement mechanisms (aside from lynch mobs) to prevent that sort of thing.

It's not a question of DNA makeup. The answer depends on whether your hypothetical society is a "true" anarchy where everyone can do whatever they want and no-one has power over anyone else, or whether it still has some sort of a state apparatus, for example in the form of courts with the power to force participation by all involved parties and to enforce its decisions. I'm not sure how the court system in EFT works, and what would happen if someone refused to attend or to abide by the court's decrees. Peer pressure only goes so far to force compliance, and inevitably you'd get a social movement advocating for disregarding court decisions, so that social norms and peer pressure alone probably wouldn't work as an enforcement mechanism.

Because humans fundamentally seek to force their world views on others at least to some extent, you'd inevitably get state-like organizations, unless you either assume very heavy indoctrination or ignore human nature. We see that process at work with gated communities that try to dictate everything from the number of pets you may own, to the type of trees you may plant, to the color of your house, and in some instances even to the number of children you may have. But that's a discussion for another time.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on December 22, 2011, 10:56:34 am
There's no way someone in an AnCap society could be prevented from vat-growing slaves by the dozens, or doing what he wanted with them unless your AnCap society has enforcement mechanisms (aside from lynch mobs) to prevent that sort of thing....

Asked and answered, counselor. Please read some of the basic literature about anarcho-capitalism (market anarchy). Much of the basic writings have been referenced in this Forum or you can just start out with Wikipedia. Do your homework and if that does not educate you on the enforcement of rules in an anarchist society, then ask your questions.

Just a couple of definitional concepts. In my writings, "anarchy" means literal anarchy, i.e., "no rulers" (not "no rules")

The basic organizational basis of the Belt, as portrayed in EFT, is "market anarchy"/"anarcho-capitalism"/"anarcho-libertarianism"/etc. Attacking EFT as though it were based on some other sort of anarchism is making a straw-man argument, at a minimum or is a form of intellectual dishonesty, if done intentionally.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on December 22, 2011, 11:31:06 am
Aaand the troll is back. . .

Back, and asking the same questions that have been asked and answered before. 
Maybe it's selective amnesia...
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: quadibloc on December 22, 2011, 03:01:39 pm
Just a couple of definitional concepts. In my writings, "anarchy" means literal anarchy, i.e., "no rulers" (not "no rules")
And, of course, I make the opposite mistake when looking at AnCap.

I take it as given that AnCap society has the ZAP as its basis, and thus of course cloned humans have the same rights as anyone else - acts against them are defined as aggression. Thus, anyone who feels like it - and almost everyone is armed - and the people almost unanimously believe in the ZAP - will enforce the ZAP against an egregious offender. Less egregious ones might survive to make it to an arbitrator.

So instead of forgetting the "not no rules" part, I tend to forget the "no rulers" part and imagine that the ZAP enforces itself. Without understanding how the two things balance, though, I don't know what AnCap is enough to be sure it's desirable.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on December 22, 2011, 06:32:13 pm
I take it as given that AnCap society has the ZAP as its basis, and thus of course cloned humans have the same rights as anyone else - acts against them are defined as aggression. Thus, anyone who feels like it - and almost everyone is armed - and the people almost unanimously believe in the ZAP - will enforce the ZAP against an egregious offender. Less egregious ones might survive to make it to an arbitrator.

Bingo.

So instead of forgetting the "not no rules" part, I tend to forget the "no rulers" part and imagine that the ZAP enforces itself. Without understanding how the two things balance, though, I don't know what AnCap is enough to be sure it's desirable.

Well, that's the $64 question, isn't it? I think, yes, but maybe the first approximation isn't good enough. However, at that point, I still do not see anything better on the shelf.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on December 22, 2011, 07:59:27 pm
There's no way someone in an AnCap society could be prevented from vat-growing slaves by the dozens, or doing what he wanted with them unless your AnCap society has enforcement mechanisms (aside from lynch mobs) to prevent that sort of thing.

Probably true, despite Sandy's theory that we can have complete freedom and still not let anybody get away with anything that the twenty first centurian might disapprove of, but the question presupposes that those good bureaucrats will be better than mere mortals.

Observing state interference in families, the interference is generally harmful rather than beneficial to children, so on the whole, chance's are the technology is likely to be used less for evil purposes the less it is a state monopoly.

All the problems that could happen with cloning are rather similar to the problems that already happen with conventional reproduction.

Disagreeing with both you and Sandy:  How come an anarcho capitalist society will supposedly both allow abortion and forbid infanticide?

Will anarcho capitalist societies enforce the marital contract or not?  And if they are going to enforce it, it is going to be enforced largely through families, hence marital contracts to the extent that they exist, will necessarily be patriarchal.

Let us consider US reproductive law at present:  Abortion is a woman's right to choose, but child support is not a man's right to choose.  If you have drunken sex with some anonymous woman in your car behind a club, she can stick you for the pregnancy if she has enough information to trace you - and if she does not have enough information to trace you, she can stick it to her husband even though she has refused to have sex with him for over a year.

Is that going to happen in an anarcho capitalist society - and if you can enforce that on men, what can be enforced on women?

Sandy seems to think that all politically correct rules that currently apply, will continue to apply in anarcho capitalist society - that no one is going to be allowed to do anything currently deemed bad by the politically correct. such as get women pregnant and then tell them to get lost, while everyone will be allowed to do stuff that is currently deemed OK, such as abortion without the consent of the husband, female infidelity, and female serial monogamy.

I also notice that no one in "Escape from Terra" uses potentially dangerous recreational drugs.  Come on Sandy.  Surely in the belt Coca Cola really will be the real thing?

So, in answer to ContraryGuy's questions, you probably could get away with creating clones for bad purposes, but clones are expensive, therefore valuable, therefore not lightly mistreated.  Further, they have minds of their own, so would not necessarily comply with mistreatment.  So producing them for the purpose of mistreatment might be a costly failure.

On the other hand, producing them for sexual purposes would probably work fine, since women are naturally inclined to the purpose - and with the appropriate hormone treatment and upbringing would be even more inclined to the purpose.

And, as for evil things people might do under anarchy, consider that the state now favors diagnosing male children as transexual before puberty, chemically preventing puberty from hitting, and "sexually re-assigning" them - which is to say castrating them.

I notice that female to male transexuals who take testosterone tend to turn rightwards.  I bet the state will not be nearly as enthusiastic about handing out testosterone to young females as it is enthusiastic about cutting off the balls of small boys.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: stsparky on December 23, 2011, 12:36:19 am
Aren't Selknams better related to Neanderthals than Aboriginal peoples? And would hybrid vigor be better suited to the bad guys' designs?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on December 23, 2011, 09:06:15 am
There's no way someone in an AnCap society could be prevented from vat-growing slaves by the dozens, or doing what he wanted with them unless your AnCap society has enforcement mechanisms (aside from lynch mobs) to prevent that sort of thing.

It's not a question of DNA makeup. The answer depends on whether your hypothetical society is a "true" anarchy where everyone can do whatever they want and no-one has power over anyone else, or whether it still has some sort of a state apparatus, for example in the form of courts with the power to force participation by all involved parties and to enforce its decisions. I'm not sure how the court system in EFT works, and what would happen if someone refused to attend or to abide by the court's decrees. Peer pressure only goes so far to force compliance, and inevitably you'd get a social movement advocating for disregarding court decisions, so that social norms and peer pressure alone probably wouldn't work as an enforcement mechanism.

Peer pressure and ostracism is a lot more effective when the legal system isn't busy undermining it.

Quote
Because humans fundamentally seek to force their world views on others at least to some extent, you'd inevitably get state-like organizations, unless you either assume very heavy indoctrination or ignore human nature.
I don't see this.  I see that people seek to reinforce their own views in their circumstances, and that obviously extends to other people in their lives, but only if they are in conflict with their views.  I don't see most people trying to force their views on the cashier at the grocery store, for example, and when it comes to neighbors and relatives, I see people who go out of their way to be polite and to not force their views on other people. Instead, if it's someone that conflicts with their world views, they generally just prefer to minimize their contact with them, which is also a part of the purpose of a gated community. 

Those who are actively trying to force their views on other people tend to be people who are in positions of power over other people. Without that power, they are forced to be less demanding and more persuasive, or else to be quiet.  Thus, what you see would seem to be human nature, but only under certain circumstances, and not in all circumstances.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Gillsing on December 23, 2011, 01:57:08 pm
... and if she does not have enough information to trace you, she can stick it to her husband even though she has refused to have sex with him for over a year.
Wouldn't a paternity test be able to stop something like that?

... clones are expensive, therefore valuable, therefore not lightly mistreated.  Further, they have minds of their own, so would not necessarily comply with mistreatment.
Clones who are only made to be spare parts could probably be kept literally brainless, or at the very least have brains that are rudimentary enough to not count as sapient. Though in that line of thinking you'd expect there to be less controversial methods of growing spare parts.

On the other hand, producing them for sexual purposes would probably work fine, since women are naturally inclined to the purpose - and with the appropriate hormone treatment and upbringing would be even more inclined to the purpose.
Now there's a creepy thought. But if it is deemed by society that such hormone treatments constitute an abuse, there would probably be ways to detect it, and then the clones could seek compensation through arbitration. I wonder if such hormone treatments are already being done today to children? At first I figured that the science would be too advanced, but I guess it's a lot like steroids, except the opposite. And no one would be checking for it, since the girls subjected to it wouldn't be competing in any athletic championships.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Bob G on December 23, 2011, 04:20:23 pm
Mt Carmel? Mt Carmel? What's the point of *that* reference?

Everybody knows those crazy Branch Davidians shot and immolated themselves. After all, the government said it, so it must be true.

So what you must be saying is that the Abos 'disappeared' themselves.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on December 23, 2011, 05:32:34 pm
... and if she does not have enough information to trace you, she can stick it to her husband even though she has refused to have sex with him for over a year.
Wouldn't a paternity test be able to stop something like that?

Not under current law in the English speaking world.

On the other hand, producing them for sexual purposes would probably work fine, since women are naturally inclined to the purpose - and with the appropriate hormone treatment and upbringing would be even more inclined to the purpose.
Now there's a creepy thought. But if it is deemed by society that such hormone treatments constitute an abuse, there would probably be ways to detect it, and then the clones could seek compensation through arbitration.

Yes, could happen, but there is no one who has a financial incentive to make it happen, and there are people with a financial incentive to stop it from happening.

In an anarchic society, it is hard to enforce public opinion unless there is a particular member of the public whose own particular ox is gored.

I wonder if such hormone treatments are already being done today to children? At first I figured that the science would be too advanced, but I guess it's a lot like steroids, except the opposite.

In much of Africa, husbands pay a substantial bride price for virgins.  In much of Islamic Africa, there is therefore an effort to induce puberty, or the appearance of puberty, as fast as possible, by force feeding very young girls.  Excess fat produces estrogen, and sufficient fat will produce breasts on anyone of any age, male or female.  The same result could be achieved more aesthetically by giving them growth hormone, then, when they were large enough, estrogen.  Since it can be done, probably is being done.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on December 23, 2011, 05:46:57 pm
Aren't Selknams better related to Neanderthals than Aboriginal peoples? And would hybrid vigor be better suited to the bad guys' designs?

I'm not sure of your point. First, the Selknams are aboriginal people. Second, who cares who the Neanderthals are related to? It shouldn't make that much difference if you are gestating a baby. Think about mules and hennies. If they ever clone a mammoth, the segregate mother will probably be an elephant. The clone was done in the middle of nowhere, for security, not genetic similarities.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on December 24, 2011, 12:44:52 am
There's no way someone in an AnCap society could be prevented from vat-growing slaves by the dozens, or doing what he wanted with them unless your AnCap society has enforcement mechanisms (aside from lynch mobs) to prevent that sort of thing.

It's not a question of DNA makeup. The answer depends on whether your hypothetical society is a "true" anarchy where everyone can do whatever they want and no-one has power over anyone else, or whether it still has some sort of a state apparatus, for example in the form of courts with the power to force participation by all involved parties and to enforce its decisions. I'm not sure how the court system in EFT works, and what would happen if someone refused to attend or to abide by the court's decrees. Peer pressure only goes so far to force compliance, and inevitably you'd get a social movement advocating for disregarding court decisions, so that social norms and peer pressure alone probably wouldn't work as an enforcement mechanism.

Peer pressure and ostracism is a lot more effective when the legal system isn't busy undermining it.
Doubtful that it would make a difference. Peer pressure is just not all that effective, and the absence of other systems of enforcement won't change that.

The effectiveness of peer pressure mostly depends on the exact makeup of the society and the tools it has at its disposal. Highly homogeneous societies tend to be able to bring peer pressure to bear more easily and with greater weight than diverse societies, because true diversity makes it more difficult to form a true consensus, and thereby reduces the weight of social authority which can be brought to bear by the society as a whole. I don't get the sense that there is a very wide range of perspectives in EFT Belter society in any meaningful way, but could be wrong, since readers usually see only a small fraction of a fictional universe. Yet even for homogeneous societies, peer pressure only works as long as the costs of non-conformity exceed the perceived benefits.

I assume that peer pressure does not include the threat of mob violence, because mob violence is as bad or worse than a coercive state apparatus -- both involve the use of force, often by a majority, to dominate a weaker party. So in our hypothetical anarchist society peer pressure will only work so long as the non-compliant person values his membership in the social group more than what he would get from continued non-compliance. It should not be difficult to imagine such a situation. And if the non-compliant person can also easily change his place of residence, the costs of non-compliance approach zero because he can always move to a community of like-minded persons and change his social group to one which won't oppose his actions. Thus, somewhere out in the EFT universe there could well be a self-sufficient enclave of Terran expats practicing slavery and female genital mutilation, and there'd be jack-all anyone could legally do aside from forcibly evicting them.

True anarchist society could have no legal system as we understand it, because all modern legal systems depend on a state apparatus to enforce court decisions. Doesn't matter if that apparatus is a U.S. Marshal's Office or Granny's Goon Squad LLC; once your court has the power to enforce its decisions without consent of the affected party, it becomes the very sort of state institution which is anathema to anarchist society. At most, there might be a universally-accepted forum for settling disputes, but that forum could have no enforcement authority.

Quote
Because humans fundamentally seek to force their world views on others at least to some extent, you'd inevitably get state-like organizations, unless you either assume very heavy indoctrination or ignore human nature.
I don't see this.  I see that people seek to reinforce their own views in their circumstances, and that obviously extends to other people in their lives, but only if they are in conflict with their views.  I don't see most people trying to force their views on the cashier at the grocery store, for example, and when it comes to neighbors and relatives, I see people who go out of their way to be polite and to not force their views on other people. Instead, if it's someone that conflicts with their world views, they generally just prefer to minimize their contact with them, which is also a part of the purpose of a gated community. 

Those who are actively trying to force their views on other people tend to be people who are in positions of power over other people. Without that power, they are forced to be less demanding and more persuasive, or else to be quiet.  Thus, what you see would seem to be human nature, but only under certain circumstances, and not in all circumstances.
All people have views of how the world should be, and virtually all would be more than happy to put those views into practice if given the chance. Most people in real life never get that chance beyond voting for a representative they most closely agree with, and spend most of their lives avoiding conflict because they cannot achieve anything through conflict. So people obviously don't try and start arguments in the middle of a grocery store because they have no means of forcing their world views in that setting. 

But we can see what happens when people do get into positions where they can force their world views onto others. As I pointed out in a previous post, local governments have tried to control virtually every aspect of a person's life as far as they legally could in one way or another. I am not speaking of gated communities, but of regular towns and villages whose elected officials did not seek to avoid conflict but instead tried to force their wills onto other community members. You can posit an anarchist settlement with no government, but I guarantee you that within a year it will generate a proto-government comprised of people who think that their world-view is the right one and who will not hesitate to force that world view against the unwilling, and backing that proto-government will be those very same people who you say would prefer to minimize conflict. Else it will become a completely homogeneous society by driving out anyone who does not conform.

And like I said at the beginning of this post, a society of atomized "gated communities" of like-minded persons will have no way of preventing someone from doing more or less whatever he wants, so long as there is a community out there whose members share his world views in that particular regard.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on December 24, 2011, 08:29:28 am
You can posit an anarchist settlement with no government, but I guarantee you that within a year it will generate a proto-government...

Exactly what are the terms of your "guarantee"?  ;D

Thanks for playing, but I am going to give your posts short shift, unless you shore up your assumptions with some evidence. Otherwise, your claims are just as vacuous as your "guarantee." You might start with your unsupported claim that social pressure requires a homogeneous society. Might be true, but unless you provide a modicum of evidence, I remain dubious. As far as I can tell, a large percentage of people who strongly believe in the ZAP should be all the homogeneity you need.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on December 24, 2011, 10:45:45 am
I take it as given that AnCap society has the ZAP as its basis, and thus of course cloned humans have the same rights as anyone else - acts against them are defined as aggression.

Of course - but who has the incentive to enforce this principle?

Sandy is reluctant to acknowledge that any bad things will happen - even in situations, such as family matters, where people disagree about what is bad, about what should be permitted, and what should be suppressed.

Cloning type bad things happening are rather like family type bad things happening today.  It seems to me that today a lot of family type bad things happen, but more of them happen because of the state, than in spite of the state.

In anarchy, some bad family type things will happen because of the absence of the state, and some will be prevented because of the absence of the state.

Thus, anyone who feels like it - and almost everyone is armed - and the people almost unanimously believe in the ZAP - will enforce the ZAP against an egregious offender.

Quite so.  But what is egregious?

Is abortion an egregious offense?  If not, is infanticide an egregious offense?  And if one is, and the other is not, what is partial birth abortion?

I would expect rather little busy bodying in anarchy - people will defend themselves, and defend those that they are morally or contractually obligated to defend, but will be disinclined to defend strangers that they have no obligation to.

And if there are strangers that nobody has any obligation to, other people will tend to adopt a moral code that bad behavior to such people is permissible.  You get in less trouble that way.

Is killing a stepchild an egregious offense?  If a couple of lesbians "adopt" a male child, and then castrate him before puberty, is that an egregious offense?

Now I rather think that the former is a less egregious offense than the latter, but current state policy, in which gays are more politically correct than heterosexuals, and transexuals more politically correct than either one, means that former is vigorously repressed where it can be detected, and the latter rather forcefully encouraged.

Though of course the eradication of inconvenient stepchildren mostly cannot be detected. There is today a startlingly large rate of "accidental" death among children who have "father figures" rather than fathers, and neither the presence, nor the absence, of the state is likely to make step children safer or less safe, though I suspect that absent the state intruding in families to break them up, there would be fewer broken families.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on December 24, 2011, 10:02:20 pm
True anarchist society could have no legal system as we understand it, because all modern legal systems depend on a state apparatus to enforce court decisions.

Obviously we are likely to have groups of people organized to defend rights - vigilantes, heroes, rentacops, detective agencies, and so forth.

Let us suppose that most routine ordinary everyday enforcement is done by rentacops and detective agencies, done for pay, as a job.

Let us also suppose that most people sign up in advance, like insurance.  You don't get insurance against burning your own house down, and you won't get insurance against trouble that you yourself started.

So to determine whether a client should be defended or not, the defense agency has to determine fault - so the defense agency wants to determine fault accurately, which is to say justly.  It wants law abiding and peaceful clients, and does not want criminal clients, because criminal clients create cost and work.

If the defense agency determines its client is at fault, the client is likely to protest, accusing the defense agency of welshing on its obligations.  So the defense agency wants justice to be done and to be seen done.

Contrary to the way things are depicted in the comic, I expect that in most cases, the determination will usually be done out of hand in a casual and informal way, because that is the way credit card agencies and credit rating agencies do it.

On the other, when what is at issue is someone's life or freedom, rather than a small amount of money, perhaps they will be more formal.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on December 26, 2011, 09:27:15 am
There's no way someone in an AnCap society could be prevented from vat-growing slaves by the dozens, or doing what he wanted with them unless your AnCap society has enforcement mechanisms (aside from lynch mobs) to prevent that sort of thing.

It's not a question of DNA makeup. The answer depends on whether your hypothetical society is a "true" anarchy where everyone can do whatever they want and no-one has power over anyone else, or whether it still has some sort of a state apparatus, for example in the form of courts with the power to force participation by all involved parties and to enforce its decisions. I'm not sure how the court system in EFT works, and what would happen if someone refused to attend or to abide by the court's decrees. Peer pressure only goes so far to force compliance, and inevitably you'd get a social movement advocating for disregarding court decisions, so that social norms and peer pressure alone probably wouldn't work as an enforcement mechanism.

Peer pressure and ostracism is a lot more effective when the legal system isn't busy undermining it.
Doubtful that it would make a difference. Peer pressure is just not all that effective, and the absence of other systems of enforcement won't change that.

The effectiveness of peer pressure mostly depends on the exact makeup of the society and the tools it has at its disposal. Highly homogeneous societies tend to be able to bring peer pressure to bear more easily and with greater weight than diverse societies, because true diversity makes it more difficult to form a true consensus, and thereby reduces the weight of social authority which can be brought to bear by the society as a whole. I don't get the sense that there is a very wide range of perspectives in EFT Belter society in any meaningful way, but could be wrong, since readers usually see only a small fraction of a fictional universe. Yet even for homogeneous societies, peer pressure only works as long as the costs of non-conformity exceed the perceived benefits.

I assume that peer pressure does not include the threat of mob violence, because mob violence is as bad or worse than a coercive state apparatus -- both involve the use of force, often by a majority, to dominate a weaker party. So in our hypothetical anarchist society peer pressure will only work so long as the non-compliant person values his membership in the social group more than what he would get from continued non-compliance. It should not be difficult to imagine such a situation. And if the non-compliant person can also easily change his place of residence, the costs of non-compliance approach zero because he can always move to a community of like-minded persons and change his social group to one which won't oppose his actions. Thus, somewhere out in the EFT universe there could well be a self-sufficient enclave of Terran expats practicing slavery and female genital mutilation, and there'd be jack-all anyone could legally do aside from forcibly evicting them.

True anarchist society could have no legal system as we understand it, because all modern legal systems depend on a state apparatus to enforce court decisions. Doesn't matter if that apparatus is a U.S. Marshal's Office or Granny's Goon Squad LLC; once your court has the power to enforce its decisions without consent of the affected party, it becomes the very sort of state institution which is anathema to anarchist society. At most, there might be a universally-accepted forum for settling disputes, but that forum could have no enforcement authority.

Quote
Because humans fundamentally seek to force their world views on others at least to some extent, you'd inevitably get state-like organizations, unless you either assume very heavy indoctrination or ignore human nature.
I don't see this.  I see that people seek to reinforce their own views in their circumstances, and that obviously extends to other people in their lives, but only if they are in conflict with their views.  I don't see most people trying to force their views on the cashier at the grocery store, for example, and when it comes to neighbors and relatives, I see people who go out of their way to be polite and to not force their views on other people. Instead, if it's someone that conflicts with their world views, they generally just prefer to minimize their contact with them, which is also a part of the purpose of a gated community. 

Those who are actively trying to force their views on other people tend to be people who are in positions of power over other people. Without that power, they are forced to be less demanding and more persuasive, or else to be quiet.  Thus, what you see would seem to be human nature, but only under certain circumstances, and not in all circumstances.
All people have views of how the world should be, and virtually all would be more than happy to put those views into practice if given the chance. Most people in real life never get that chance beyond voting for a representative they most closely agree with, and spend most of their lives avoiding conflict because they cannot achieve anything through conflict. So people obviously don't try and start arguments in the middle of a grocery store because they have no means of forcing their world views in that setting. 

But we can see what happens when people do get into positions where they can force their world views onto others. As I pointed out in a previous post, local governments have tried to control virtually every aspect of a person's life as far as they legally could in one way or another. I am not speaking of gated communities, but of regular towns and villages whose elected officials did not seek to avoid conflict but instead tried to force their wills onto other community members. You can posit an anarchist settlement with no government, but I guarantee you that within a year it will generate a proto-government comprised of people who think that their world-view is the right one and who will not hesitate to force that world view against the unwilling, and backing that proto-government will be those very same people who you say would prefer to minimize conflict. Else it will become a completely homogeneous society by driving out anyone who does not conform.

And like I said at the beginning of this post, a society of atomized "gated communities" of like-minded persons will have no way of preventing someone from doing more or less whatever he wants, so long as there is a community out there whose members share his world views in that particular regard.


You are making broad assertions.  You can doubt what I say all you want, but as Sandy said, why should anyone believe your assertions are more likely than mine?  You seem to be just another doom-and-gloom pessimist who thinks that man is basically evil.  You're not even really addressing my points, just dismissing them, so really, unless I plan to write a thesis, there's not much here for me to actually respond to.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: NotDebonair on December 27, 2011, 11:20:00 am

Peer pressure and ostracism is a lot more effective when the legal system isn't busy undermining it.


Takes me back to my youth, when a champion back on a local high school team was suspected of multiple rapes of grade school girls.  Since the victims were all of African descent, it was decided that the ruin of a promising young man's career was too high a price to pay for anything that had happened to the girls.  A very dignified, elderly lady at out church said "they are all going to grow up to be common property anyhow," a statement that still depresses me deeply as I remember. 
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on December 27, 2011, 11:21:41 am
Quote
Because humans fundamentally seek to force their world views on others at least to some extent

and

Quote
Thus, somewhere out in the EFT universe there could well be a self-sufficient enclave of Terran expats practicing slavery and female genital mutilation, and there'd be jack-all anyone could legally do aside from forcibly evicting them.

I believe that you chose the examples of slavery and female mutilation because you, personally, disapprove of them to the point of wanting to force them out of existence #AND# you believe that this audience agrees with you enough that we're having to say, Well, maaaybe some government. . . .

You are plainly one of the humans you mention, who "fundamentally seek to force their world views on others".  You are projecting this desire onto all of us.

Being female myself, I do have Views on female "circumcision":  not me, and not my kids.  In an anarchic society, no female-circumcisionist can impose it on me.

And in all human honesty, I have to note that the female-circumcisionists -- male and female -- do believe it's for the best.  A government of such people can impose it on me.

You seem to think you have some duty or obligation to "fix" them, to cure them of their mistaken ideas.  I don't.  If such a family moves into my neighborhood, I will duly grieve for their girls -- and I will do jack-all to "correct" them.  If I attempt such a correction, I am announcing -- in that "actions speak louder than words" way -- that I believe it's OK for Joe to impose his views on Jack and therefore it's OK for them thar female-circumcisionists to attempt to correct me, and my kids.

And likewise for slavery:  if somebody owns slaves in my anarchic society, he can go right ahead . . . for as long as he can.  'Cos if they escape and come to me, ain't no way I'll hand them back.  I do believe slavery is wrong, but my opinion isn't worth the breath to express.  Happily, slavery is also bloody stupid; e.g., no slave will ever produce as close to his greatest potential as a paid employee.

I don't even wish to force an anarchic society on you.  If you want to live in a state (i.e., under the notion that the best way to deal with human nature is to give a select Few human cusses -- who will still, you know, remain human cusses -- extra power over the Many), go right ahead.  Please don't attempt to include me:  even if you are successful, you won't get my best (see above comment on slavery) and I might even prove actively subversive.

As evil and wrong as things like slavery and female circumcision may be, I for one regard forcing world views onto people even worse.  Capiche?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on December 27, 2011, 05:06:24 pm
Since the victims were all of African descent, it was decided that the ruin of a promising young man's career was too high a price to pay for anything that had happened to the girls.  A very dignified, elderly lady at out church said "they are all going to grow up to be common property anyhow," a statement that still depresses me deeply as I remember. 

Truth is so depressing.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on December 27, 2011, 05:45:14 pm
Thus, somewhere out in the EFT universe there could well be a self-sufficient enclave of Terran expats practicing slavery and female genital mutilation, and there'd be jack-all anyone could legally do aside from forcibly evicting them.

And in our universe, ninety percent of Egyptian women are genitally mutilated, and there is jack-all anyone can do about it.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: ContraryGuy on December 31, 2011, 03:42:44 pm
There's no way someone in an AnCap society could be prevented from vat-growing slaves by the dozens, or doing what he wanted with them unless your AnCap society has enforcement mechanisms (aside from lynch mobs) to prevent that sort of thing....

Asked and answered, counselor. Please read some of the basic literature about anarcho-capitalism (market anarchy). Much of the basic writings have been referenced in this Forum or you can just start out with Wikipedia. Do your homework and if that does not educate you on the enforcement of rules in an anarchist society, then ask your questions.

Just a couple of definitional concepts. In my writings, "anarchy" means literal anarchy, i.e., "no rulers" (not "no rules")

The basic organizational basis of the Belt, as portrayed in EFT, is "market anarchy"/"anarcho-capitalism"/"anarcho-libertarianism"/etc. Attacking EFT as though it were based on some other sort of anarchism is making a straw-man argument, at a minimum or is a form of intellectual dishonesty, if done intentionally.


Yay, the cranky old man defense: "I'm a cranky old man, so I dont have to answer your questions!"
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: ContraryGuy on December 31, 2011, 04:23:25 pm
Since the victims were all of African descent, it was decided that the ruin of a promising young man's career was too high a price to pay for anything that had happened to the girls.  A very dignified, elderly lady at out church said "they are all going to grow up to be common property anyhow," a statement that still depresses me deeply as I remember. 

Truth is so depressing.

Why are you depressed?  Yout earlier views indicate that you would happily replace "african descent" with "latino descent"; lationo in your view should " grow up to be common property anyhow".
So you're OK with mistreating latins and gays, but not blacks?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on December 31, 2011, 05:22:23 pm
 A very dignified, elderly lady at out church said "they are all going to grow up to be common property anyhow," a statement that still depresses me deeply as I remember.  

Truth is so depressing.

Why are you depressed?

It would be nice to live in a world where all men were created equal, and women created equal to men.

If, however, one believes in Darwinian evolution, race differences will in general be comparable to, though less than species difference, since as Darwin explains there is no hard and fast distinction between a species difference and a race difference.

That two kinds are two rather different races, rather than two very similar species, is not a fact about nature, but a fact about human language, a fact about where we choose to draw somewhat arbitrary lines on nature.  That blacks are the same species as whites is, as Darwin explains, not an empirical fact, but a choice of definition.

Observe that just as there is cline between whites and blacks, there is a cline between coyotes and grey wolves.  Similarly, attempting to separate Eucalyptus trees into distinct species gives us total chaos, since there are clines connecting just about every eucalypt to almost every other eucalypt.

For rather different reasons, it follows from natural selection that women are not equal to men.

Progressivism, like life after death, is a wish fulfillment fantasy.  Attempting to order society by this fantasy will necessarily fail, and we are getting rather close to the point of social collapse.  Accusing me of wishing that certain groups were inferior is like the Jesuits accusing protestants of wishing for eternal damnation.   

If inferior groups really were equals, western civilization would not be collapsing.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Azure Priest on January 02, 2012, 09:38:44 am
Since the victims were all of African descent, it was decided that the ruin of a promising young man's career was too high a price to pay for anything that had happened to the girls.  A very dignified, elderly lady at out church said "they are all going to grow up to be common property anyhow," a statement that still depresses me deeply as I remember.  

Truth is so depressing.

Why are you depressed?  Yout earlier views indicate that you would happily replace "african descent" with "latino descent"; lationo in your view should " grow up to be common property anyhow".
So you're OK with mistreating latins and gays, but not blacks?

Actually, there were White Euro slaves before there were Black African ones. Slavery based on race is a relatively recent concept. Slaves traditionally were "spoils of war." Different tribes of the same race enslaved one another.

Africans enslaved Africans, "Indians" (Native Americans) enslaved other "Indians." It wasn't until AFRICANS sold their slaves to European traders (the Shaka Zulu tribe was infamous for this, many neighboring blacks ran TO the slavers, because if they stayed in Zulu lands, they died.) that slavery by race took hold.

As for slavery vs indentured servitude.. The distinction is very blurry, but a good rule of thumb, Indentured servants, though having no choice in their employment, still have certain rights and privileges. Slaves have none.

Ok, since Bert and Ernie named the bee guide "Big Bird," and there's a social "movement" going on, does that mean we're going to see some "Occupy UW" man in a dumpster named Oscar?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on January 02, 2012, 10:42:26 am
Ok, since Bert and Ernie named the bee guide "Big Bird," and there's a social "movement" going on, does that mean we're going to see some "Occupy UW" man in a dumpster named Oscar?

Shhh! Don't spoil the surprise for the others! ::)
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on January 02, 2012, 10:50:58 am
Ok, since Bert and Ernie named the bee guide "Big Bird," and there's a social "movement" going on, does that mean we're going to see some "Occupy UW" man in a dumpster named Oscar?

Shhh! Don't spoil the surprise for the others! ::)

Okay, but if a snuffleupagus shows up, I'm out of here! 

 :D
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Azure Priest on January 03, 2012, 08:15:38 am
Ok, since Bert and Ernie named the bee guide "Big Bird," and there's a social "movement" going on, does that mean we're going to see some "Occupy UW" man in a dumpster named Oscar?

Shhh! Don't spoil the surprise for the others! ::)

Okay, but if a snuffleupagus shows up, I'm out of here! 

 :D
He was a purple mammoth, wasn't he?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Scott on January 03, 2012, 11:13:26 am

Takes me back to my youth, when a champion back on a local high school team was suspected of multiple rapes of grade school girls.  Since the victims were all of African descent, it was decided that the ruin of a promising young man's career was too high a price to pay for anything that had happened to the girls.  A very dignified, elderly lady at out church said "they are all going to grow up to be common property anyhow," a statement that still depresses me deeply as I remember. 

I gather that, unless you're significantly older than I am, the laws on the books regarding child rape were not much different then than they are now (leaving aside the modern "sex offender registration" laws). But I'll also guess that, unless that high school was located in certain particularly benighted areas of the Deep South, that church lady would never think of saying anything like that out loud TODAY. And that champion player might actually have faced a trial.

The difference between then and now being not so much the statutory law, as the changed social conventions. Overt racism is no longer acceptable in polite company (in most of North America, and even though covert racism rages on), and social conventions do trump statutory laws.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on January 03, 2012, 11:48:08 am

Takes me back to my youth, when a champion back on a local high school team was suspected of multiple rapes of grade school girls.  Since the victims were all of African descent, it was decided that the ruin of a promising young man's career was too high a price to pay for anything that had happened to the girls.  A very dignified, elderly lady at out church said "they are all going to grow up to be common property anyhow," a statement that still depresses me deeply as I remember. 

I gather that, unless you're significantly older than I am, the laws on the books regarding child rape were not much different then than they are now (leaving aside the modern "sex offender registration" laws). But I'll also guess that, unless that high school was located in certain particularly benighted areas of the Deep South, that church lady would never think of saying anything like that out loud TODAY. And that champion player might actually have faced a trial.

I agree with Scott's assessment, but I really doubt the story's validity, to begin with. It sounds like one of those "just so" stories that gets passed around. "Well, I didn't personally see it, but a friend's uncle's barber swears that it's true."

Why don't I believe it? Because if you rape a kid and the law does nothing, there is a high probability that the victim's kin will kill the son of a bitch. With "multiple rapes of grade school girls," the odds of extra-judicial execution goes up geometrically.

So NotDebonair, who, what, where and when? How did the church lady even know about the rapes, the rapist and the victims? Newspaper articles? Police reports? Your friend's uncle's barber? ;)
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on January 03, 2012, 01:47:02 pm
Ok, since Bert and Ernie named the bee guide "Big Bird," and there's a social "movement" going on, does that mean we're going to see some "Occupy UW" man in a dumpster named Oscar?

Shhh! Don't spoil the surprise for the others! ::)

Okay, but if a snuffleupagus shows up, I'm out of here! 

 :D
He was a purple mammoth, wasn't he?

He was a woolly mammoth, but without tusks or ears.  And I thought I remembered him as being purple, but everything seems to indicate that he's a light brown color.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Apollo-Soyuz on January 03, 2012, 08:40:48 pm
And I thought I remembered him as being purple, but everything seems to indicate that he's a light brown color.

See? That's what huffing will do to you. (j/k)

You must be intermingling memories of both Snuffleupagus and Barny the purple pedophile T-rex
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on January 04, 2012, 09:08:07 am
And I thought I remembered him as being purple, but everything seems to indicate that he's a light brown color.

See? That's what huffing will do to you. (j/k)

You must be intermingling memories of both Snuffleupagus and Barny the purple pedophile T-rex

I'm too old for Barney--he wasn't any part of my childhood memories.

The Jetsons, however, is another story.  Saw them on Saturday morning cartoons.  I think it's very cool to see a Jetson flying car in the strip.  It probably even makes that disctinctive sound.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 04, 2012, 03:20:03 pm
You can posit an anarchist settlement with no government, but I guarantee you that within a year it will generate a proto-government...
Exactly what are the terms of your "guarantee"?  ;D

Thanks for playing, but I am going to give your posts short shift, unless you shore up your assumptions with some evidence. Otherwise, your claims are just as vacuous as your "guarantee."

Not sure what the quotation marks are supposed to mean, but as far as I understand that is the correct use of the verb "guarantee (http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/82126?rskey=Ty5NnX&result=2&isAdvanced=false#eid)."

I could dredge up various studies on the matter, but like macsnafu I'm not going to write a dissertation on the subject, because of time constraints and because I'm not here to convince anyone. I merely find the discussion interesting. So I'll try and explain in more detail why I think state-like organizations are inevitable.

On a theoretical level, it's generally accepted that humans will form institutions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institution) to achieve certain mutual goals. That goal may be as simple as companionship -- the elderly gentlemen who always play chess in the park on Saturday mornings can be as much of an institution as is the U.S. Congress. Both are fundamentally human constructs that organize human behavior in pursuit of certain goals. A corporation such as Microsoft is similarly an institution, with the [nominal] goal of enriching its shareholders. You don't have to accept this as true, but then you might as well stop reading now because nothing I write will make any sense otherwise.

For example, most grassroots movements begin as a collection of people with a common set of goals or grievances, whatever they may be. Partnerships consist of people working together for mutual profit. In videogames, people form guilds and clans to further their in-game goals, whether they be socialization or conquest. Gated communities often have exhaustive lists of what their members may and may not do so that the character of the community may be maintained in perpetuity.

And such organizations will change in response to both internal and external pressure, usually becoming more centralized in order to improve reaction time and reduce internal conflict.

For example, the Occupy movement began as a collection of people with a more or less common set of goals or grievances but with virtually no central organization even at the very local level; yet over the past few months it has developed rules governing participant behavior and organically grew a fairly centralized control structure in response to its needs, because without them Organize would have imploded under its own mass. The United States started out as a fairly loose collection of states not unlike the modern European Union, albeit with a common language and more or less common culture; yet over the past two hundred years it has steadily become more and more centralized in response to changes in technology and new [perceived] external threats.

So take an anarcho-capitalist town with no central government and no similar institutions. Give that town a classic common resource problem, like local road construction and maintenance [assuming no free indestructible roads]. Somehow, someone has to pay the workers who build those roads, and someone has to pay the workers who maintain those roads. A private company wouldn't be able to do that on its own, for fairly obvious reasons -- paving the stretch of road belonging to paying property owners and leaving the other parts as a dirt track is pointless, because it defeats the purpose of having a paved road if only parts of it are usable by vehicles when it rains; the company cannot practically exclude non-compliant property owners from using the road if it paves the whole thing; it might install EZpass-like scanners at every street corner, but then we've just arguably violated the ZAP by forcing property owners who don't use that road to pay for it anyway. A local business association might decided to take up road maintenance, provided its willing to pay for non-member businesses (classic free-rider problem), but how is that arrangement more fair than simply levying a tax on all residents in that town, and how many businesses would agree to pay thousands of dollars in taxes every year to maintain roads for someone else. 

Similar problems will arise with natural monopolies such as sewer, gas and telephone lines. I won't even go into the problems such a society would run into if a utility company were to try and acquire an easement for power lines, except to say that in an an-cap society where private property and freedom of contract are paramount, nothing short of armed force would stop a few homeowners from holding a utility company or a developer hostage.

You can always say that such problems would never arise, because the hypothetical an-cap society consists of well-mannered, educated, community-minded folk who wouldn't dream of fleecing their neighbors. Or technology might render them moot -- EFT's society probably doesn't need power lines because everyone has a personal fusion reactor in their basements. But otherwise those are problems which a real an-cap society would have to deal with, or decide not to deal with and accept the consequences.

You might start with your unsupported claim that social pressure requires a homogeneous society. Might be true, but unless you provide a modicum of evidence, I remain dubious. As far as I can tell, a large percentage of people who strongly believe in the ZAP should be all the homogeneity you need.

If an entire society subscribes to a particular ethical structure, then it is by definition homogeneous for our purposes, because we're talking about volitional human behavior, which is fundamentally governed by the ethical rules inside a person's head. Those rules may have developed internally through trial and error (you've done something and observed the reaction) or may have come from external sources (laws, religion, parents), but they're there. Your society's members may represent all the colors of the rainbow and a hundred creeds, but if they all subscribe to the same basic set of principles, whether it be the ten commandments or the ZAP, then they are ethically very similar, if perhaps not entirely homogeneous. Most people follow the broad principles of the ZAP anyway, so positing a society where everyone subscribes to the ZAP is not that big of an assumption. But the exact definition of aggression might vary quite widely from individual to individual, and that is where a society all of whose members strongly believe in the ZAP might very well stop being homogeneous. So if everyone in a society strongly believes in the ZAP, and their definition doesn't vary much, then that society is essentially homogeneous.

Ethical homogeneity is important for social pressure to work, because implicit in enforcement through social pressure is the threat of ostracism, where a deviant might be excluded from society for non-compliance. Human beings are fundamentally social creatures, with true misanthropes making up a very small fraction of the population, so fear of exclusion is quite strong whether or not we recognize it within ourselves. Not to say that social approval is the only thing people care about, but it's rather important. In a homogeneous society, violation of a commonly-held principle is going to result in virtually universal disapproval, so the pressure against deviating is very strong. But in a heterogeneous society, that might not be the case.

For example, in a ZAP society most people would probably consider premeditated murder without cause to be a bad thing; most would consider theft to be wrong. But a fair number might not consider unconscionable adhesion contracts to be aggression even if they might just as surely deprive a signatory of property as would ordinary theft. For a real-life example, consider cheating in schools and colleges, such as the SAT cheating ring (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/23/sat-cheating-scandal-widens-as-20-students-charged-in-new-york/). If everyone considers cheating to be unacceptable, then the pressure on the few deviants remaining to comply would be very great, and they would only cheat of the benefits outweigh the costs of social disapproval and the risks of getting caught. But if a good portion of the school's students consider cheating to be common-place, if not entirely acceptable, then the costs of deviation decrease because "everyone" is doing it. Or, we can consider a fictional schoolyard -- bashing a fellow student's head with a brick will probably get you ostracized by most others (assuming no other consequences, since it's a student-run school with no teachers or rules); but if there are even a few others who consider such behavior acceptable, then you might just go hang out with them instead.

Or for a more personal example.  I was, some years ago, a member in a community service organization whose fundamental purpose was performing [obviously] community service. Yet in any given semester no amount of prodding, cajoling, or incentives could get even half of its members to do even twenty hours of community service because there were no repercussions for non-compliance -- there were no sanctions by the organization, and half the membership treated the service requirement as a joke, so there was no real pressure to comply.

My ultimate point is that social pressure alone isn't going to replace other enforcement mechanisms for two reasons. (1) The perceived costs of ostracism might be less than the perceived benefits of deviation. (2) Ostracism doesn't work if there are other social groups which will take you in. This might not be seen as a problem; for example, mellyrn proposes a society where personal autonomy over one's property, including presumably minors, overrides all other considerations. Such a society might well deem the cost of enforcement beyond peer pressure to be too high. But if it is seen as a problem then your hypothetical society will have to deal with it somehow.

You are making broad assertions.  You can doubt what I say all you want, but as Sandy said, why should anyone believe your assertions are more likely than mine?  You seem to be just another doom-and-gloom pessimist who thinks that man is basically evil.  You're not even really addressing my points, just dismissing them, so really, unless I plan to write a thesis, there's not much here for me to actually respond to.

I am, like you said, a pessimist. But I don't think human beings are fundamentally anything, evil or good. They are human beings, which means they can be selfish, petty, cruel, biased, and irrational as well as noble and selfless.

From what I understand, you assume that human beings are fundamentally good. That assumption will lead you down a completely different path of reasoning than mine. Whether humans are good or evil is one of those questions which smarter people than I have been unable to fully answer, and so I'm not going to try and answer it here. Which means I can't really refute your argument, because I have no means of challenging its underlying assumptions.

But consider the history of democratic governments that did not take a pessimistic view of human nature. Most of them are not around anymore. Few, if any governments whose framers assumed that human beings are fundamentally good have lasted for very long. The U.S. Constitution is considered something of a freak in political science because it has endured for so long, and its durability comes in no small part from the very pessimistic view it takes of human nature. The Constitution was not designed for good people; and so it is able to channel the selfish desires of human beings towards generally constructive ends, or at least to limit their destructiveness. So in my view, if your society assumes that all of its members will be angels, then you're setting that society up for failure. But I could be wrong, and in any case fictional societies do not have to reflect reality in all respects, but only in those necessary to the story.

On a sort of related note, the quote below offers an interesting perspective that I sadly have to agree with (link to full article beneath):

Quote from: The Mittani
EVE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eve_online#Griefing) posits a post-scarcity world full of immortal capsuleers. You can’t truly die, you can only lose what you choose to put at risk, and your avatar requires no sustenance or maintenance. Our fictions tell us that in such an environment people will flourish into compassionate individualistic beings that are beyond hierarchy. Yet the reality of the sandbox provides a sneer-inducing carnival of cruelty, folly and subjugation, dizzying in its shameful permutations. . . .

In an environment of near-absolute freedom, we rush headlong off a cliff due to sheer blind stupidity, or we gleefully pursue the loving embrace of violent autocracy. . . .

[T]he players choose Stalin over Bakunin every time, and have done so consistently since the servers opened.
Link to full article. (http://www.tentonhammer.com/eve/spymaster/65)

I believe that you chose the examples of slavery and female mutilation because you, personally, disapprove of them to the point of wanting to force them out of existence #AND# you believe that this audience agrees with you enough that we're having to say, Well, maaaybe some government. . . .
Not entirely. I do disapprove of those particular activities, not just because I find them morally reprehensible but because I consider them socially harmful; most likely, most people reading this would agree. I could have picked ritual infanticide instead, or even vanilla murder. But I wasn't arguing that such conduct could only be stopped by centralized authority, only that an an-cap society would have to confront such conduct at some point. And that society might well follow your choice and decide that individual autonomy trumps all else. Or it might turn to vigilante justice. Or it might adopt a wait and see attitude, and allow escaped slaves to sue their former owners Although how a court or arbitrator could enforce its decisions against an unwilling defendant in an an-cap society is an open question.

You are plainly one of the humans you mention, who "fundamentally seek to force their world views on others".  You are projecting this desire onto all of us.
You yourself have an idea of what society should be. But the amount of effort people are wiling to put into achieving their perfect society can vary quite a bit. Some will go to great lengths to organize and influence, others will not.

But if you think that humans fundamentally want to be left alone, consider a typical zoning board of appeals meeting involving any sizable project. Such meetings can sometimes involve scores of people, all of them arguing that the proposed project will hurt property values and pose a danger to their children without a shred of evidence, regardless of whether it is a housing complex to be built on an abandoned firing range or the paving over of a a bar's back yard to create extra seating. If people wanted to be left alone, there would be no mass petitions to companies seeking to change their practices, no neighborhood organizations, and no zoning laws. And Westboro Baptist Church (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church) would not exist. 

And likewise for slavery:  if somebody owns slaves in my anarchic society, he can go right ahead . . . for as long as he can.  'Cos if they escape and come to me, ain't no way I'll hand them back.  I do believe slavery is wrong, but my opinion isn't worth the breath to express.  Happily, slavery is also bloody stupid; e.g., no slave will ever produce as close to his greatest potential as a paid employee.
Some people don't care about raw output. Some types of work don't require much skill or thought or more motivation than not having a cattle prod shoved up your posterior. Look at working conditions in garment factories in New York City in the late nineteenth century if you think that good working conditions are necessary for a company to make profits, or at working conditions in garment factories in the developing world today. Or consider the living standards in North Korea. And a slave won't get far if his owner pays to have an explosive implanted in his abdomen and hooked up to an invisible fence. So there's little reason to think that slavery or any other similar institutions are somehow impossible in a modern society.

Anyways, I think we both agree that slavery and genital mutilation is bad. But you think that personal autonomy is more important. I disagree, because to me personal autonomy is not an end in and of itself, but I'm in no way more right than you are.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 04, 2012, 04:45:39 pm
On a theoretical level, it's generally accepted that humans will form institutions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institution) to achieve certain mutual goals. That goal may be as simple as companionship -- the elderly gentlemen who always play chess in the park on Saturday mornings can be as much of an institution as is the U.S. Congress. Both are fundamentally human constructs that organize human behavior in pursuit of certain goals. A corporation such as Microsoft is similarly an institution, with the [nominal] goal of enriching its shareholders. You don't have to accept this as true, but then you might as well stop reading now because nothing I write will make any sense otherwise.

But the state is not an institution.  It is a gang sufficiently formidable as to intimidate all other gangs within a geographic area.

In a peaceful circumstance, two corporations can merge, with one paying the shareholders of the other money or shares, but a monopoly of violence, necessarily implies violence against other providers of defense services, thus while the rational response to a corporate merger is to discuss terms, the rational response to a merger aimed at creating a monopoly of violence is to start bombing people with poison gas..

Now if we look at how, historically, monopolies of violence arose, they did not come about lightly and easily, but at best required something like Sherman's march to the sea:  Slaughter the enemy army, burn the crops, burn the houses, artificial famine.,

More commonly, to create a state, you need to kill the males, rape the women, burn the houses, burn the crops, slaughter the cattle, cut down the orchards, and poison the wells with the bodies of children.

Historically no one has ever succeeded in creating a monopoly of violence except by means that were at least as dreadful as those of Sherman, and usually immensely worse.

To intimidate all other gangs takes terrible and extraordinary violence, usually a whole lot worse than Sherman's march - the usual formula is not merely artificial famine and leveling towns, but also mass murder and mass state sponsored rape.  The history of our pacification of Germany gets rewritten to make it kinder and gentler.  Unlike the Soviets, we did not use mass state sponsored rape, but we used most of the usual means, artificial famine, flattening towns, and so forth, and in the end, unlike the Soviets, we did not entirely get our way.  Maybe we really should have used mass state sponsored rape as well.

Things went easier in Japan because the emperor remained in power and cut a deal with us.  Had he gone like Saddam, and fought to the end leaving chaos behind, we would have found it very difficult to recreate a state in Japan - observe what is happening in Afghanistan.  

When we re-established a state in Iraq  (well it is not altogether clear that we have re-established a state in Iraq, but supposing that we have) we did so by closing our eyes and looking the other way while militias used Saddam style methods.- mass rape, and mass murder.

That is what state building takes.  Recall how we established a monopoly of violence in the Philippines, which procedure was a lot closer to Stalin's state building methods than Sherman's.  That is what it usually takes.

The EU represents an attempt to merge states peacefully, as if they were normal corporations, normal institutions.  Clearly it is not easy, and it is not apparent that they will succeed.  At the moment they are papering over irreconcilable differences by printing ever increasing quantities of money.  Chances are that when hyperinflation hits, they will either each go their own way, or else resort to the usual methods for creating a monopoly of violence - most likely resort to the usual methods - mass murder, mass destruction, artificial famine, and mass state sponsored rape.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on January 04, 2012, 08:22:58 pm
Your predictable and pedestrian assumptions still have no evidence to back them up. Also, you seem to confuse voluntary arrangement--such as homeowners associations--and agencies that use force (meaning the initiation of the use or threat of physical force) to get their way.

As Gedankenexperiments go, I don't find yours very compelling. You might want to actually read about the ZAP to see why your assumptions miss the mark.

Out of courtesy, I waded through your opinions. I probably won't do so again, however, unless you can drop the shotgun approach, pick an topic and stick to it. I will read cogent post on single issues, at least until they become repetitive or present no supporting evidence. I'm not putting any effort into convincing anybody to adopt my point of view, either. I write stories, to the extent that they have a point of view, you are free to accept or reject it.

BTW, the quotation marks were intended to convey irony.

One last comment. You wrote:

I could dredge up various studies on the matter...

Easily said, but I seriously doubt such studies exist or if so, that you have read them or that if you have, you are correctly quoting their conclusions. All I am seeing is unsupported conjectures, i.e., opinions.

“What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!”
― Robert A. Heinlein 

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: ContraryGuy on January 04, 2012, 09:09:51 pm
Since the victims were all of African descent, it was decided that the ruin of a promising young man's career was too high a price to pay for anything that had happened to the girls.  A very dignified, elderly lady at out church said "they are all going to grow up to be common property anyhow," a statement that still depresses me deeply as I remember.  

Truth is so depressing.

Why are you depressed?  Yout earlier views indicate that you would happily replace "african descent" with "latino descent"; lationo in your view should " grow up to be common property anyhow".
So you're OK with mistreating latins and gays, but not blacks?

Actually, there were White Euro slaves before there were Black African ones. Slavery based on race is a relatively recent concept. Slaves traditionally were "spoils of war." Different tribes of the same race enslaved one another.

Yes, of course there were.  I am not disputing that.  Sams peculiar point of view is that its OK to mistreat social sub-cultures, but it isnt OK to mistreat people based on skin color.

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As for slavery vs indentured servitude.. The distinction is very blurry, but a good rule of thumb, Indentured servants, though having no choice in their employment, still have certain rights and privileges. Slaves have none.

This is true.  Once the term of your indenture is finished, you are free to go (or stay).
But I wasnt talking about that.  Its all about sam, and his irrational viewpoints.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: ContraryGuy on January 04, 2012, 09:26:30 pm
 A very dignified, elderly lady at out church said "they are all going to grow up to be common property anyhow," a statement that still depresses me deeply as I remember.  

Truth is so depressing.

Why are you depressed?

It would be nice to live in a world where all men were created equal, and women created equal to men.

So you are saying that The Declaration of Independence is wrong? That a century of discussion and enlightened thought is (maybe not wrong but) mis-guided?
That "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." is incorrect?

Or are you going to be a pedant and say that that only applies to men?  If so, you must also exclude all men except those of the white, land-holding persuasion.

Physically, there are differences, but, there are women who are every bit the equal of some men.  And better than some.
Just because there are some physical differences, does not mean that women are not nor cannot be equal to men.  Of course they can be; sometimes it s to advantage that they not be.

In terms of society, of course they are.

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If, however, one believes in Darwinian evolution, race differences will in general be comparable to, though less than species difference, since as Darwin explains there is no hard and fast distinction between a species difference and a race difference.

That two kinds are two rather different races, rather than two very similar species, is not a fact about nature, but a fact about human language, a fact about where we choose to draw somewhat arbitrary lines on nature.  That blacks are the same species as whites is, as Darwin explains, not an empirical fact, but a choice of definition.

Observe that just as there is cline between whites and blacks, there is a cline between coyotes and grey wolves.  Similarly, attempting to separate Eucalyptus trees into distinct species gives us total chaos, since there are clines connecting just about every eucalypt to almost every other eucalypt.

For rather different reasons, it follows from natural selection that women are not equal to men.

Progressivism, like life after death, is a wish fulfillment fantasy.  Attempting to order society by this fantasy will necessarily fail, and we are getting rather close to the point of social collapse.  Accusing me of wishing that certain groups were inferior is like the Jesuits accusing protestants of wishing for eternal damnation.   

If inferior groups really were equals, western civilization would not be collapsing.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 05, 2012, 12:16:04 am
It would be nice to live in a world where all men were created equal, and women created equal to men.

So you are saying that The Declaration of Independence is wrong?

Demonstrably so

The more thoroughly equality is imposed, the more obvious it becomes that men are not equal.   Disaster ensues, for example Detroit, 9/11, and the mortgage crisis.  More of the same looms.

Physically, there are differences, but, there are women who are every bit the equal of some men. 

Perhaps equal to some men with one foot in the grave.

Woman can do some things better than men - apart from the obvious, that they alone create life, they can find things better, hence the much heard plaintive cry "Honey, where did I put my keys", but other things, such as run a business, women really cannot do, as gets demonstrated with great regularity now that they regularly get affirmative actioned into running businesses.

We have recently seen it demonstrated that "firefighters" cannot or will not fight fires.  Only firemen fight fires.  And as for women in science, the poster girls that feminists are reduced to coming up with demonstrate that women cannot really do science.  If women could do science, feminists would not be reduced to making up ludicrous tall tales about Lise Mitner and one of Einstein's numerous wives.

Women can no more advance science, than men can make babies.  If they could, why the need to make up stuff about Lise Mitner?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Azure Priest on January 05, 2012, 07:23:58 am
It would be nice to live in a world where all men were created equal, and women created equal to men.

So you are saying that The Declaration of Independence is wrong?

Demonstrably so

The more thoroughly equality is imposed, the more obvious it becomes that men are not equal.   Disaster ensues, for example Detroit, 9/11, and the mortgage crisis.  More of the same looms.

Physically, there are differences, but, there are women who are every bit the equal of some men. 

Perhaps equal to some men with one foot in the grave.

Woman can do some things better than men - apart from the obvious, that they alone create life, they can find things better, hence the much heard plaintive cry "Honey, where did I put my keys", but other things, such as run a business, women really cannot do, as gets demonstrated with great regularity now that they regularly get affirmative actioned into running businesses.

We have recently seen it demonstrated that "firefighters" cannot or will not fight fires.  Only firemen fight fires.  And as for women in science, the poster girls that feminists are reduced to coming up with demonstrate that women cannot really do science.  If women could do science, feminists would not be reduced to making up ludicrous tall tales about Lise Mitner and one of Einstein's numerous wives.

Women can no more advance science, than men can make babies.  If they could, why the need to make up stuff about Lise Mitner?

The declaration of independence does NOT claim that men are equal, it says they are CREATED equal, which if you took even one lesson in BIOLOGY, would know to be factually correct, Sperm+egg. It is physically, practically and pragmatically impossible to guarantee equal outcomes, however. ANY system that attempts to do so is inherently unjust. The Soviet Union, North Korea, and Nazi Germany are good examples. They all tried to MAKE everyone equal except for an elite few. What they succeeded instead was making everyone equally miserable, as opposed to the utopia that they promised.

As for your patently sexist statements, women can INDEED do science, when they are permitted, and have an inclination/talent to do so. Or do you think Madam Curie, who discovered radiation, was just some guy who cross-dressed?

There is very little that one sex can do that the other can not.

Your comments on affirmative action are correct, not because women are inherently inferior to men, but because affirmative action, as implemented, is based on quotas not qualifications. "Have this percent [minority] in your business or we will close your doors" as opposed to "hire based on merit regardless of skin tone or gender."

If you're going to state Affirmative action to prove one group inferior to another, you might as well wear that bedsheet and pointy hat now.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on January 05, 2012, 08:23:10 am
I always took the Declaration to be stating that men are politically equal, not that they are equal in all ways.  But that could just be interpretation on my part.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 05, 2012, 08:54:49 am
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Not sure what the quotation marks are supposed to mean, but as far as I understand that is the correct use of the verb "guarantee."

I suspect the quotation marks indicate that, while the word successfully conveys your degree of conviction on the matter, you have no, hmm, means of paying off? if a state should fail to form.  True, the dictionary.com definition does not specify anything beyond "promise" or "assurance"; it does not call for some performance should the promise or assurance fail; but I for one would prefer not to use the word if I did not have means to pay off/up in the event of failure.  Hence Sandy's irony.

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So I'll try and explain in more detail why I think state-like organizations are inevitable.

Perhaps we may look at other organizations that have formed, and how they have arranged themselves.  You may liken yourself (in your own person, I mean, without reference to any other human) to "a" Borg -- a hive of cells (though the Borg's "cells" can move physically independently, whereas your cells tend to die upon "achieving" independence).  So might a tyrannosaur be considered.  Yet other arrangements are possible; slime molds come to mind.  What might the social equivalent of a slime mold look like and why would a hierarchical uber-organism be "inevitable" instead?

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For example, the Occupy movement began as a collection of people with a more or less common set of goals or grievances but with virtually no central organization even at the very local level; yet over the past few months it has developed rules [....] [emphasis added]

Sigh.  "An-archy" means "without an archon", i.e., "no rulers".  As has been said -- repeatedly -- it does not mean "no rules".  This is one of the things causing us to doubt your degree of self-education on the topic.  It's possible that you may indeed have read deeply, but a slip like this indicates that such reading has failed to in-form (form or shape your thoughts on the matter) you.

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And such organizations will change in response to both internal and external pressure, usually becoming more centralized in order to improve reaction time and reduce internal conflict.

You might enjoy The Sovereign Individual.  One of its theses is that certain external conditions favor the development of large centralized organizations like the Egyptian or Roman empires, and some favor decentralized networks like the Greek city-states.  The development of mass-production factories required centralization of equipment, material, manpower; otoh, a software company could consist of globally-scattered individuals who never met face-to-face, much less congregated in one spot. 

If you're looking for state-like organizations, you're going to see them, because they do arise.  It might be worth your while to investigate the circumstances under which they do so -- and under which they do not, to say nothing of those under which they collapse:  Joseph Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies is pricey, but probably available by interlibrary loan.

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But I wasn't arguing that such conduct could only be stopped by centralized authority, only that an an-cap society would have to confront such conduct at some point.

Who, anywhere, has been arguing that an an-cap society would have no dubious conduct to consider?  No one here is suggesting, "Go an-cap and there will never be any more problems!"  We're suggesting, rather, that an an-cap society is going to have more -- in my view, far more -- resources to bring to the discussion.

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But if you think that humans fundamentally want to be left alone

Humans are almost-eusocial beings who tend to die if left alone.

I do, however, think humans fundamentally want to choose for themselves which church to join, and resent having one forced on them; I think humans fundamentally want input into the, yes, rules of their community and resent having a few Humans On High make and impose them.  Even two-year-olds have a sense of autonomy and do not like having it overridden, and those who grow up liking to be ordered about are not admired but despised.

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But you think that personal autonomy is more important. I disagree, because to me personal autonomy is not an end in and of itself, but I'm in no way more right than you are.

So, you do think someone -- perhaps Someone, some maybe more-than-human human? -- has the Right ideas and ought to impose them? 

There was no point in mentioning "vanilla murder" -- no one thinks "murder" is right (if the killing is considered "right", then it isn't "murder" -- it's "state execution", or "war", or "self defense" or something).  It's things like genital mutilation (and I for one consider male circumcision just as much "mutilation") and ritual infanticide and gay marriage and cigarette smoking -- all of them activities that some people, some time, somewhere, have dead seriously advocated as positive goods for their people -- that get interesting. 

You're quite convinced that you're right about female genital mutilation (perhaps less so about the male?).  Those who perform it are convinced that they are right.  How do you suggest an impartial outsider choose between you?  I.e., how do you get a truly "right" viewpoint worthy of overriding someone's autonomy for?

That's why I suggested you were being a bit disingenuous in choosing "evils" that you were pretty sure would find no defense on this board.  So, never mind vanilla murder -- let's go with something else that some people, here on this board, consider dead wrong and others consider either right or at least harmless.  Try war, capital punishment, male genital mutilation, gay marriage (or, heck, just marriage itself), marijuana, abortion -- and then tell me when & why it's OK to force one side to live by the other side's choice?

I respect your autonomy because I know I don't have All The Right Answers.  I just have my "right" answers.  I believe you have yours.  I request that you not tread on me (flag reference intended).  I decline to tread on you.  What do you see as wrong (or, it may be, merely inadequate) with that arrangement?



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So you are saying that The Declaration of Independence is wrong?

Demonstrably so

The both of you are conflating "equality before the law" with "equality of personal giftedness".  The Declaration of Independence did not mean to suggest the patently stupid idea that a math genius is perfectly equal in all respects to the mechanic whom he needs to hire because he can't tell an alternator from a tire, but only that society shouldn't fawn on one while kicking the other in the legal teeth.

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What they succeeded instead was making everyone equally miserable

 :D
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on January 05, 2012, 11:45:55 am
I could dredge up various studies on the matter, but like macsnafu I'm not going to write a dissertation on the subject, because of time constraints and because I'm not here to convince anyone. I merely find the discussion interesting. So I'll try and explain in more detail why I think state-like organizations are inevitable.

On a theoretical level, it's generally accepted that humans will form institutions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institution) to achieve certain mutual goals.
...

And such organizations will change in response to both internal and external pressure, usually becoming more centralized in order to improve reaction time and reduce internal conflict.
Sure, and so?  People work with other poeple for common goals.  That's as true in anarchy as in any other system.  Centralization makes sense to a certain degree, but centralization in itself hardly leads to governments or states.  As long as individuals are free to leave the organization and start their own organization, there's no real problem here.  It's when they are forcibly prevented from doing so that you have something like a state or government.
 
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So take an anarcho-capitalist town with no central government and no similar institutions. Give that town a classic common resource problem, like local road construction and maintenance [assuming no free indestructible roads]. Somehow, someone has to pay the workers who build those roads, and someone has to pay the workers who maintain those roads. A private company wouldn't be able to do that on its own, for fairly obvious reasons -- paving the stretch of road belonging to paying property owners and leaving the other parts as a dirt track is pointless, because it defeats the purpose of having a paved road if only parts of it are usable by vehicles when it rains; the company cannot practically exclude non-compliant property owners from using the road if it paves the whole thing; it might install EZpass-like scanners at every street corner, but then we've just arguably violated the ZAP by forcing property owners who don't use that road to pay for it anyway. A local business association might decided to take up road maintenance, provided its willing to pay for non-member businesses (classic free-rider problem), but how is that arrangement more fair than simply levying a tax on all residents in that town, and how many businesses would agree to pay thousands of dollars in taxes every year to maintain roads for someone else.  
Just because you don't know how to resolve an apparent problem doesn't mean that it's irresolvable.  Maybe you just lack imagination.

There are different kinds of roads.  Break them down into those different kinds, and some solutions become more apparent.  Why shouldn't a housing association be responsible for the maintenance of the roads just in their housing edition?  People in the housing edition would pay the HA for the maintenance, and thus wouldn't have to pay for roads all over the city, just the roads they use.  Businesses in industrial sections could do something similar.  And retail businesses would naturally want to make sure that their customers can reach them, else they don't have any customers.  And so forth.  

And for that matter, if you want to talk about roads, you might also want to consider the larger issues of transportation and communications, and how cities are "planned".  Cities have a tendency to create zoning and other regulations that do much to restrict transportation choices and living arrangements and help create the typical traffic jams.  Getting rid of these restrictions would in itself do much to relieve traffic congestion.

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Similar problems will arise with natural monopolies such as sewer, gas and telephone lines. I won't even go into the problems such a society would run into if a utility company were to try and acquire an easement for power lines, except to say that in an an-cap society where private property and freedom of contract are paramount, nothing short of armed force would stop a few homeowners from holding a utility company or a developer hostage.
Again, you seem to lack imagination when considering these apparent problems.  Looking at the early development of the phone system in the U.S. for example, you will see that there were several telephone companies building phone lines and trying to provide phone service.  Sure, they realized the impracticality of trying to run multiple phone poles and lines, but that in itself doesn't make it a "natural monopoly".  Instead the phone companies were busy developing ways to work together and share the poles and lines, until Bell Telephone managed to get the government to step in and create the legislation that mandated local monopoly phone service.  This was done on the grounds that it was a natural monopoly, but the actual monopoly was political, not natural, as the problems were being resolved by the phone companies themselves.  The result was that customers did not benefit from true competition and paid higher prices, the incentives for efficient service were reduced, and the expansion of phone service in the nation was slowed down, especially for the less profitable rural areas.

Issues that governments consider to be problems are considered to be opportunities for entrepreneurs, who realize that they can make money by serving areas that remain unserved.  
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My ultimate point is that social pressure alone isn't going to replace other enforcement mechanisms for two reasons. (1) The perceived costs of ostracism might be less than the perceived benefits of deviation. (2) Ostracism doesn't work if there are other social groups which will take you in.
Sure, this is true IF the perceived costs are not high enough to enforce compliance.  But there are various ways of ensuring that the costs are high, and in any society that wants to maintain order, these ways aren't all that difficult to pull off.  But if you have a government that is coercively enforcing punishment, this actually undermines the power of peer pressure in society, and diminishes the value of ostracism.  Systems of punishment also tend to focus more on punishment than on restoring the victim of the crime.  Crimes are considered to be crimes against the state, not crimes against particular victims.  What kind of justice is that?

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I am, like you said, a pessimist. But I don't think human beings are fundamentally anything, evil or good. They are human beings, which means they can be selfish, petty, cruel, biased, and irrational as well as noble and selfless.

From what I understand, you assume that human beings are fundamentally good. That assumption will lead you down a completely different path of reasoning than mine. Whether humans are good or evil is one of those questions which smarter people than I have been unable to fully answer, and so I'm not going to try and answer it here.
I think my view of human nature is a little more sophisticated and realistic than that.  I think that humans are born morally neutral, and that morality is something that is learned in one's circumstances while growing up.  I think that people tend to be more good than evil because they discover that it pays off better in most situations.  

Given that, it should be clear that government is a great threat to morality in society.  First of all, government shows people that as long as you have enough political power, you can get away with almost anything. Furthermore, government creates certain moral hazards in society.  Why should banks be conservative in their lending if the government will bail them out if they get in trouble?  Why should young, single mothers work to improve their skills and get good jobs if they can get a substantial monthly welfare check, and a large Earned Income Credit for their children come tax time?
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Quote from: The Mittani
EVE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eve_online#Griefing)
posits a post-scarcity world full of immortal capsuleers. You can’t truly die, you can only lose what you choose to put at risk, and your avatar requires no sustenance or maintenance. Our fictions tell us that in such an environment people will flourish into compassionate individualistic beings that are beyond hierarchy. Yet the reality of the sandbox provides a sneer-inducing carnival of cruelty, folly and subjugation, dizzying in its shameful permutations. . . .

In an environment of near-absolute freedom, we rush headlong off a cliff due to sheer blind stupidity, or we gleefully pursue the loving embrace of violent autocracy. . . .
Irrelevant,  We are not postulating a post-scarcity world, but a world where scarcity is better-managed. Also, I wonder if you understand what we mean by freedom.  Freedom from coercion means freedom for everyone from coercion, not that some people are able to do absolutely anything they want without consequence.  This universality of the principle ensures that this "absolute freedom" you envision does not occur.  Freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 05, 2012, 03:31:56 pm
As for your patently sexist statements, women can INDEED do science, when they are permitted, and have an inclination/talent to do so. Or do you think Madam Curie, who discovered radiation, was just some guy who cross-dressed?

A man discovered radiation - actually several men, but one of the most important of them was Professor Curie, who if he can be said to have discovered radiation, discovered it long before he hired Marie Curie as a research assistant.

In politically correct myth, Marie Curie supposedly discovered radium, not radiation.

In actual fact, Marie Curie was the wife and bottle washer of the man who led the team that discovered radium.  

Before history was adjusted to be more politically correct, here was the man who discovered radium  http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=990CE0DA113EE733A25751C2A9629C946797D6CF&scp=4&sq=discoverer+of+radium&st=p (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=990CE0DA113EE733A25751C2A9629C946797D6CF&scp=4&sq=discoverer+of+radium&st=p)

And you have not heard of the men who discovered radium, for precisely the same reason as you have not heard of the men who discovered the other one hundred elements.

Quite possibly Marie Curie did more than wash bottles, but the tendency to leave her husband, her professor, and her supervisor, the great scientist professor Curie, out of the story inclines me to doubt it.

Giving her not one, but two Nobel prizes for discovering radium, when no one remembers who discovered radon demonstrates that she got the Nobel for being female, not for doing science.

The fact that they made such a big deal out of her supposed discovery of radium should have tipped you off that the story was a lie.  

The fact that you have heard this story, and not the story of the guy who discovered radon, a similar but considerably more important discovery, for radon revealed that radioactivity was a manifestation of the transmutation of elements, should have led you to suspect that like all politically correct history, it is a lie.

The difference between the Lise Mitner myth and the Marie Curie myth is that Lise Mitner stopped washing bottles for the team that discovered nuclear fission, long before it discovered nuclear fission, making the myth ridiculous, while Marie Curie was on the team that discovered radium (as its most junior member) washing bottles from the beginning to the end, giving the myth a small grain of truth in the big pile of lies.

She was on the team that discovered radium, not for any accomplishments in science, but because the team leader was great scientist who married one of his research assistants.  Perhaps he had a brilliant assistant, but while we have ample evidence that she had a brilliant supervisor, we have no independent evidence that he had a brilliant assistant.

If women could do science, they would have better poster girls than Marie Curie.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 05, 2012, 09:03:15 pm
As Gedankenexperiments go, I don't find yours very compelling. You might want to actually read about the ZAP to see why your assumptions miss the mark.
Which is the problem with any sort of thought experiment I might be able to raise, and any example I can offer. Whether or not a reader finds them compelling is beyond my control, although I try to come up with hypothetical examples based on what I know about human behavior. So if they're not compelling it may be because we disagree on how people will behave in given circumstances.

As for the ZAP, it runs into the same definitional problems as any other ethical system, and everything turns on the exact definitions which you use, so of course my assumptions might be questionable. If your version of the ZAP only prohibits unwarranted physical force, then the outcomes will be different than if everyone subscribes to a ZAP which also prohibits non-physical force. The stock ZAP as I understand it treats any nonconsensual impact on a person on his property as force, but that's unworkable in practice for the same reason that the stock definition of trespassing in common-law torts breaks down in many cases. Is a golf ball that falls on your property force? What about cigarette smoke that you inhale? Or particulates thrown up by passing vehicles that lands on your crops? What about depletion of common resources? ZAP alone does not deal well with such issues, and its strict application quickly descends into absurdity. That is not to say that a legal system based on the ZAP would be bad, but it would probably be fairly similar to the current common-law legal system, so I'm not sure if it would be better, though that depends on other factors which, for the sake of avoiding shotgunning I won't go into.  

Anyways, I usually assume that when someone refers to ZAP or similar doctrines, they mean a ZAP which requires meaningful harm to justify force, and requires the responding force to be proportional. If that assumption is wrong, then please correct me.

Your predictable and pedestrian assumptions still have no evidence to back them up. Also, you seem to confuse voluntary arrangement--such as homeowners associations--and agencies that use force (meaning the initiation of the use or threat of physical force) to get their way.
Then show how I'm wrong. So far I've gotten two posts from you saying I'm wrong, and the obligatory Heinlein quote. I do apologize for the scattered nature of the previous post, but it seemed best at the time to try and reply to all the previous posts at once, rather than tackle them individually and argue the same things each time. That was, in retrospect a mistake.

That said, there is no confusion between voluntary and involuntary arrangements. But I did not make the argument clearly enough, and once again apologize.

There is no meaningful difference between how institutions which can and cannot use force function. Both of them are institutions designed to achieve goals, and they will adapt to achieve those goals by their very nature. A homeowners' association is no different than a town council -- both seek to further certain interests. The homeowners' association seeks to further the interests of its members; a town council seeks to further the interests of the people who elected it. And in seeking to further those interests, all institutions will inherently seek to expand the scope of their powers which ultimately means seeking the coercive powers. The trend has always been towards greater centralization, more hierarchical structures, and greater scope of authority. It is very rare for any institution to willingly surrender power.

This is why I brought up the Occupy movement -- in just a few months it developed a hierarchical structure in response to institutional goals and the needs of its members, who wanted a set of rules by which they could organize camp-ins and the ability to kick out rule-breakers, and who wanted to raise funds and manage external relations [and you don't want to give thousands of people unrestricted access to common-pool money], among their other needs. Similarly, homeowners' associations and town governments can and do expand their powers, usually to protect existing property uses against perceived threats. Similarly, the US federal government has steadily expanded the scope of its powers in pursuit of old institutional goals while also expanding the scope of those goals. For example, the original Commerce Clause was intended [arguably] to allow the federal government to regulate navigable waterways and to prevent states from imposing tariffs and other restraints on commerce which would hinder the development of a national market; the modern commerce clause is so expansive that it gives the federal government authority to regulate a subsistence farmer, both because the American economy has become much more integrated over time and because the entities which comprise the federal government gave it additional goals, such are the prevention of child labor. See Wickard_v._Filburn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn) for an example. Who exactly are the controlling members of the federal government is of course a complex question, and I won't go into it here. The European Union has similarly grown more and more centralized, in a similar process and for similar reasons. We are seeing this process of expansion at work with the TSA [may it be abolished in the near future]. The TSA started as a replacement for a patchwork of private airport security arrangements and now claims the authority to inspect all modes of transportation, all in pursuit of public safety; law enforcement agencies have used that argument for decades to expand their powers, so it's nothing new. I can bring up other examples, each of which can be discussed at book length, but presumably those interested can do their own research, as I have been advised to do.  

Which raises the inevitable question of why a homeowners' association would behave differently from a typical government in seeking to expand its powers. And as far as I am aware there is no reason for why it would behave differently unless its members both choose to limit its expansion and are able to prevent its expansion. But both coercive and non-coercive institutions have goals, and will seek to further those goals. As their members give those institutions new goals, or as impediments to existing goals arise, those institutions will also seek more power.

Take the aforementioned voluntary homeowners' association as an example. The usual goal of a homeowners' association is the preservation of property values, though it is usually wrapped up in somewhat more pleasant language. You say that a homeowners' association is a voluntary institution, and I assume that means our hypothetical homeowners' association is completely voluntary, so buying a property in its sphere of influence does not require membership and a member may leave at any time for any reason with no penalty. To start, assume for the sake of simplicity that the homeowners' association covers a town or subdivision that has no government or similar institutions, and that everyone subscribes to the ZAP so that use of force except in response to force is prohibited, especially to harm someone's property rights. What can that homeowners' association do if a property owner decides to build a rock quarry, or a crematorium, or the classic undesirable "tattoo parlor" or "bowling alley"?

Even if the homeowners' association has rules requiring that it approve use changes, or even a blanket prohibition on the property owner can simply quit the association because it is completely voluntary. The association can have no power over him in and of itself because membership is completely voluntary. It can pass resolutions, censures, form picket lines and what have you, but in the end all of its permitted actions will have as much effect as a typical UN General Assembly resolution.

So presumably the homeowners' association would seek to have some sort of mechanism for actually achieving its purposes.

There are ways a homeowners' association can try to prevent someone from building a giant smokestack in the middle of the neighborhood without using force, some of which are used in real life. In many cases, membership in a homeowners' association is required to buy a property in a new development. In such cases membership is usually part of a contractual arrangement, which even in the modern-day United States can include all sorts of interesting provisions, and in anarcho-capitalist society can require almost anything. In the not too distant past, sale of property could involve a contract barring the buyer from transferring or renting his new property to non-whites, for example. So assume our property owner bought his property when the development was built, or the town was founded, or what have you, and so is bound by a contractual provision which requires that nonresidential uses be approved by the association and that he can only sell his property to buyers who also join the association and sign its agreement. That contract is probably independent of membership, or should be if its drafters are competent.

If membership is still completely voluntary, the property owner can always leave the association and tear up the contract, and we're back where we started. Ditto if the property owner sells his property.

Which leaves us with contract enforcement, because I assume the contract it was drafted well enough to not be voided if a signatory leaves the association. The contract could specify that a homeowners' association member who violates the membership contract forfeits his property, or has to pay a fine, or has to demolish the noncomplying structures or cease the prohibited use. It goes to an arbitrator who rules in the association's favor. There's no sheriff to enforce the contract, but presumably in an an-cap society there would be private enforcement businesses who could come in with guns and take the property.

How is this outcome any different than what would happen if a town government were to seize the property or fine the homeowner? You might say that the homeowners' association is a voluntary association, but by that logic you voluntarily agree to comply with a town's zoning laws when you buy a house within its boundaries. In both cases purchase of a property binds the new owner to certain obligations and restricts his use, and the only alternative is to not buy the property at all.

And if there are no means of contractual enforcement, we're back at square one with a homeowners' association which cannot do its job. So the homeowners' association would inevitably either seek power to force compliance or would resign itself to being completely useless. Both of which are valid outcomes, but as I've written before, people tend to get rather passionate whenever someone threatens to change the character of their neighborhood.

Which in the end gives us four possible outcomes. The association might never have come into being because all residents believe in property rights and are willing to put up with noxious uses; the residents might sue for damages later if the property owner's noncomplying use hurts property values, is detrimental to residents' health, or otherwise causes demonstrable harm. The association might throw up its hands because its members value personal autonomy over all else or because there are no means of enforcement, or for other reasons. The association might seek contractual enforcement, in which case it is not very different from a government. Or the association might seek to develop its own enforcement powers.

All four are valid outcomes. But considering that zoning laws and contractual restrictions on property use came into being a century ago precisely to deal with such cases, only the last two outcomes seem to me to be probable. And that is the basis for my aforementioned guarantee that there will inevitably be state-like institutions unless the majority of a society's members truly value personal autonomy above all else or would never put personal gain above social welfare. Granny's Goon Squad enforcing an adhesion contract is no less coercive than the sheriff's office enforcing zoning laws. You can argue semantics, but the nature of the thing does not change when it is renamed. The most likely outcome is some mixture of one and three, where most property owners in a community are contractually bound, and the rest can be sued in court. That would more or less satisfy the ZAP in any sense I can think of.

I am probably missing other means of enforcement without resorting to coercive contracts, and would be very happy to read them.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 06, 2012, 12:05:03 am
As for the ZAP, it runs into the same definitional problems as any other ethical system, and everything turns on the exact definitions which you use, so of course my assumptions might be questionable. If your version of the ZAP only prohibits unwarranted physical force, then the outcomes will be different than if everyone subscribes to a ZAP which also prohibits non-physical force.

What is non physical force?  Disapproving of certain people and activities, such as homosexuality and woman who spawn fatherless children, and minimizing contact with those people?

Sandy is apt to find glib rationalizations why the Zero Aggression Principle forbids everything a twenty first century moderate progressive would disapprove of, and allows everything a twenty first century moderate progressive would approve of, but seems to me the meaning is pretty clear:
You don't interfere with me and my stuff, and I won't interfere with you and your stuff.  And if you do interfere, then ...

Where are the definitional problems?  They only arise with shared stuff, and if shared stuff leads to conflict, stop sharing, or share only with cooperative people.


The stock ZAP as I understand it treats any nonconsensual impact on a person on his property as force, but that's unworkable in practice for the same reason that the stock definition of trespassing in common-law torts breaks down in many cases. Is a golf ball that falls on your property force?

If it breaks something of mine, or risks doing so, yes, which is why when kids playing ball break a neighbors window, the parents of the careless kids will make it good, and why actually existent golf courses minimize the risk of errant balls.

Your ball breaking my window is classic initiation of force, even if unintended.  You harmed me or mine.  Your ball landing lightly on my grass does not harm me or mine.  Everyone who lives in suburbia knows this.  It is an existing problem, already solved.

What about cigarette smoke that you inhale?

That can only happen in an enclosed shared space.  If an enclosed shared space, someone enclosed it and maintains it, typically the barkeeper, in which case, of course, the barkeep should decide.  And if some whining bastard does not like the barkeeper's decision, he can leave that enclosed space. The problem leads to conflict in our society only because the state violates the barkeepers property rights, a classic initiation of force, to privilege some people over other people.  It cannot arise in a society that respects property rights.

Or particulates thrown up by passing vehicles that lands on your crops?

Crops do not mind particulates, and there are seldom many vehicles passing near crops other than the vehicles of the farmer and his immediate neighbors.

Or What about depletion of common resources?

Limited resources are only "common" when the state initiates violence against those that create wealth.  The existence of valued "common" resources arises through acts of aggression, and necessitates and justifies war.  Common resources must cease to be common, by destroying those who make "common" claims upon them, or else must themselves be destroyed

The existence of "common" resources of commercial value and limited supply is a manifestation of ongoing and profitable aggression and violence, which must be met by defensive and retributive violence sufficient to make such aggression unprofitable.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 06, 2012, 12:21:19 am
On a theoretical level, it's generally accepted that humans will form institutions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institution) to achieve certain mutual goals. That goal may be as simple as companionship -- the elderly gentlemen who always play chess in the park on Saturday mornings can be as much of an institution as is the U.S. Congress. Both are fundamentally human constructs that organize human behavior in pursuit of certain goals. A corporation such as Microsoft is similarly an institution, with the [nominal] goal of enriching its shareholders. You don't have to accept this as true, but then you might as well stop reading now because nothing I write will make any sense otherwise.

But the state is not an institution.  It is a gang sufficiently formidable as to intimidate all other gangs within a geographic area.
A state is both an institution and a "gang," and one does not preclude the other. A common criminal street gang is an institution as well as an instrument of violence because it consist of multiple human beings operating under a set of rules in pursuit of a common purpose. I define the term "institution" broadly; that definition may be found on Wikipedia and in most good dictionaries, and is commonly used in research.

It is true that a state by definition has a monopoly on the legal use of force within its territory, however, so I agree with you in that regard.

In a peaceful circumstance, two corporations can merge, with one paying the shareholders of the other money or shares, but a monopoly of violence, necessarily implies violence against other providers of defense services, thus while the rational response to a corporate merger is to discuss terms, the rational response to a merger aimed at creating a monopoly of violence is to start bombing people with poison gas..

Now if we look at how, historically, monopolies of violence arose, they did not come about lightly and easily, but at best required something like Sherman's march to the sea:  Slaughter the enemy army, burn the crops, burn the houses, artificial famine.,
Not necessarily, as you've illustrated further in your post with the example of the European Union, which is state-like, although it is not yet a state. The United States is another example of a state that was not created through large-scale organized violence, but by the voluntary replacement of one institutional scheme -- the Articles of Confederation, with another -- the Constitution; the very limited violence against civilians which occurred during the American Revolution itself was not carried out by organs of the state, and no force was used to compel the various states to become a singular entity.

Similarly, state violence against other states does not have to involve the deliberate targeting of civilian populations, although it may involve civilian casualties. For example, the United States has gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Civilian populations were targeted during the second world war in large part due to the crudity of contemporary technology. The formation and consolidation of nations is more likely to produce large civilian casualties, because national identity still often involves race and religion and thus national boundaries cannot be changed except through mass murder, forced migration, or greater population growth. For example, ethnic violence in Rwanda was spectacularly bloody without any meaningful state involvement.

That said, you seem to assume that businesses are fundamentally non-violent creatures, or at least abhor the use of force. This is not true. Corporations and businesses use all the means at their disposal to achieve their goals; they do not resort to violence in no small part because the state apparatus forbids it. Before the state stepped in at the turn of the twentieth century, businesses would routinely use force against workers, for example. In the mid-nineties, businessmen in Russia sometimes used quite direct violence against competitors. Organized criminal organizations sometimes use quite lethal violence against competitors, since they already operate outside the law and so the prohibition against the use of violence isn't terribly effective except insofar as it may draw greater state scrutiny. The old European trading companies are perfect examples of for-profit enterprises which maintained powerful armed forces and were not afraid to use them. History abounds with examples of private enterprises and individuals using very lethal force against competitors.

As with anything else it does, a business will use force when the benefits of doing so are perceived to outweigh the risks. A state's monopoly on the legal use of force usually makes it too costly for a business to use force. As far as I am aware, there are no polities with well-developed economies where the state does not have a monopoly on the use of force, however, so whether or not businesses would use force in the absence of a state prohibition is an open question.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 06, 2012, 04:11:17 am
Now if we look at how, historically, monopolies of violence arose, they did not come about lightly and easily, but at best required something like Sherman's march to the sea:  Slaughter the enemy army, burn the crops, burn the houses, artificial famine.,
Not necessarily, as you've illustrated further in your post with the example of the European Union, which is state-like, although it is not yet a state.

The same was true of the united states.  For the United States to truly become one state, required Sherman's march to the sea.  The EU will probably require considerably worse, because of the greater economic and cultural diversity that needs to be crushed.

The United States is another example of a state that was not created through large-scale organized violence, but by the voluntary replacement of one institutional scheme

Before the Sherman's march to the sea, people did not say "The United states is ...".  They said "The United States are ..."

Similarly, state violence against other states does not have to involve the deliberate targeting of civilian populations, although it may involve civilian casualties.

We have never succeeded in creating a monopoly of force without deliberately targeting the civilian population and systematically destroying their property.

The least violent operations were probably the Boer war, which gave us the word "concentration camp", and the Malaya emergency, in which we systematically destroyed civilian housing, and detained all civilians we suspected of hostility, imprisoning a major portion of the population.

The other extreme was the Philippine American war, where we killed everyone and destroyed everything wherever we encountered resistance, though we refrained from the Soviet tactic of state sponsored mass rape.  The pacification of Germany was intermediate between the Malayan emergency and the Philippine American war, in that we deployed the classic Soviet tactics of artificial famine and the mass destruction of housing, though unlike the Soviets we refrained from mass state sponsored rape.

For example, the United States has gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties during the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

We aspired to create a state, but were reluctant to deploy the dreadful means that are necessary for state building.  In the end, however, we outsourced the creation of large scale civilian casualties to Iraqi militias while we looked the other way.  And today's headlines cast doubt on the claim that state building in Iraq succeeded. It looks like very shortly we will see some quite massive civilian casualties before Iraq is truly unified.

The most likely outcome is that our Iraqi state building will stick, but only after repeated episodes of mass destruction, mass murder, artificial famine, and state sponsored mass rape in the very near future -  which we will let someone else take the blame for.

you seem to assume that businesses are fundamentally non-violent creatures, or at least abhor the use of force.

Force is expensive.  To fund the aggressive use of force, you need to confiscate property, either as a mobile bandit or a stationary bandit.  State formation is mobile bandits aspiring to become stationary bandits.[/quote]

Corporations and businesses use all the means at their disposal to achieve their goals; they do not resort to violence in no small part because the state apparatus forbids it.

If businesses employ the means that states employ, they will find mergers and contracts as difficult as states find mergers and treaties.

Before the state stepped in at the turn of the twentieth century, businesses would routinely use force against workers, for example.

Bullshit.

If you check out what actually happened, it was the other way around.  The union would attempt the mass murder of non union business employees and the seizure and destruction of business premises, and the business would defend those premises.

Thus, for example, in the Homestead incident, which is probably the incident that you have in mind, the union fired cannons at barges that they were believed were transporting non union workers to reopen the plant.  Then they broke down the wall surrounding the plant, and seized the plant.  The barges arrived, and Pinkertons landed, attempting to recover and secure the plant, whereupon the union opened fire on the Pinkertons.

The union kept control of the plant by steel and fire.  Eventually the governor called out the militia, and sent in six thousand troops to seize the plant from the union and restore it to its owners.

So if anyone attacked the workers, it was union, and the attack on the union was not that made by the Pinkertons, but by the governor.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on January 06, 2012, 06:55:43 am
As for the ZAP, it runs into the same definitional problems as any other ethical system, and everything turns on the exact definitions which you use, so of course my assumptions might be questionable. If your version of the ZAP only prohibits unwarranted physical force, then the outcomes will be different than if everyone subscribes to a ZAP which also prohibits non-physical force. The stock ZAP as I understand it treats any nonconsensual impact on a person on his property as force, but that's unworkable in practice...

This is what in informal logic is called a straw man argument. First, you make up a false definition, then "defeat" it. Read the third-party literature. This subject comes up regularly in the Forum. I don't know if you can search the postings (never thought about it), but if so, you can read how the ZAP is used in EFT.

Anyways, I usually assume that when someone refers to ZAP or similar doctrines, they mean a ZAP which requires meaningful harm to justify force, and requires the responding force to be proportional. If that assumption is wrong, then please correct me.

Mostly wrong. Read the third-party literature. Start with Wikipedia. I have problems with the ZAP article, but it frames the issue well enough to to begin discussion. Start there then let's talk. Without an understanding of the ZAP, it is pointless to discuss how it applies to home owners associations and the Occupy movement.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 06, 2012, 09:00:56 am
Quote
you seem to assume that businesses are fundamentally non-violent creatures, or at least abhor the use of force.[...] Corporations and businesses use all the means at their disposal to achieve their goals

You seem to assume that states are fundamentally non-violent creatures, or at least abhor the use of force.

Under some conditions, the EROEI (energy return on energy invested) on violence is positive.  In other circumstances it is negative.  An agent (business, state, individual human, wolf, bacterium) that makes a bad call suffers a net loss of energy; if it makes enough bad calls (or a sufficiently bad one), it fails/dies.

Corporations, businesses, AND STATES (as well as individuals) will use violence if they think the net return will be positive.  An armed citizenry is an effort to make state violence against individuals yield a negative return.

To argue for a state is to argue that we'll ALL be safer when a few of us have a better return on violence than the most of us.  Or, if you think that the citizens' power to vote, say, exercises sufficient restraint on the officials, it's to argue that we'll all be safer when we're each holding the leash of our neighbor in a big circle.

(Most state apologists seem to write as if "the state" were an entity unto itself, capable of action, and forget that "the state" is only a phrase, shorthand-speak for "all the various human individuals holding some sort of government office" -- i.e., the very creatures, humans, who are supposedly in need of being governed.  Anarchists are people who get this joke.)
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on January 06, 2012, 09:11:21 am
As with anything else it does, a business will use force when the benefits of doing so are perceived to outweigh the risks. A state's monopoly on the legal use of force usually makes it too costly for a business to use force. As far as I am aware, there are no polities with well-developed economies where the state does not have a monopoly on the use of force, however, so whether or not businesses would use force in the absence of a state prohibition is an open question.

A business is in the business of making a profit.  Homeowners' associations exist to further the common goals of the homeowners.  The outright use of force is expensive, which is why big business likes having a government around to do the dirty work for them.  It's cheaper because the government socializes the costs of enforcement through taxation.  Without a government, businesses cannot shift the costs and effort of violence onto some other organization.  The costs of using force eat into profits, so, while you may be right that they will turn to force if it furthers their goals, to a large degree it will *not* further their goals.  This is especially true if their customers decide that they do not want to do business with a criminal organization that is so willing to use force.  Thus, such force as most businesses will be willing to use will be minimal, and hidden as much as possible to minimize the damage to their reputation.

As for homeowners' associations, what goals could they have that would be furthered by force?  They may want to minimize crime in their area, certainly, but that would be justified force, for the most part.  They may want to stop some people in the housing edition from doing certain things, but I can't see force as being necessary except as a last resort, and thus not used very often.  Contractual arrangements and requirements would be easy to set up for anyone who wants to move into the edition, and persistent violators of the contract will usually find it easier to straighten up or move out long before the last resort of force ever comes up. 

In short, your assumptions are true, under certain circumstances.  But those circumstances are generally not going to be commonplace under anarchy.  If anything, it is the existence of government that increases the chances of the use of force.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on January 06, 2012, 09:39:27 am

There is no meaningful difference between how institutions which can and cannot use force function. Both of them are institutions designed to achieve goals, and they will adapt to achieve those goals by their very nature. A homeowners' association is no different than a town council -- both seek to further certain interests. The homeowners' association seeks to further the interests of its members; a town council seeks to further the interests of the people who elected it. And in seeking to further those interests, all institutions will inherently seek to expand the scope of their powers which ultimately means seeking the coercive powers. The trend has always been towards greater centralization, more hierarchical structures, and greater scope of authority. It is very rare for any institution to willingly surrender power.

Even if the homeowners' association has rules requiring that it approve use changes, or even a blanket prohibition on the property owner can simply quit the association because it is completely voluntary. The association can have no power over him in and of itself because membership is completely voluntary. It can pass resolutions, censures, form picket lines and what have you, but in the end all of its permitted actions will have as much effect as a typical UN General Assembly resolution.


You continue to say funny things--at least they seem strange to me.
You act as if contractual agreements are coercive and in violation of the NAP (or ZAP if you prefer).
Also, you seem to forget that even without government, there still exists other people and organizations in society that will not approve of everything that some people and organizations choose to do. 

If a homeowner's association does not have ownership or control over the housing editions they serve, then yes, their power to enforce certain rules will be limited.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the people in those editions value more freedom in their personal lives than otherwise. 

On the other hand, some people do prefer more order in their personal lives, and would prefer a situation that has more rules on their neighbors.  A gated community, or a housing edition where the HA has more control, will be more preferable to SOME people.  If people are required to obey certain rules when moving into a particular housing edition, this is not a violation of the NAP.  It's just another contractual arrangement.  And such a contractual arrangement calls for certain rights and limits on the HA as much as it does for the individual homeowner or renter.   

This is still a far cry from a government or state. 
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 06, 2012, 10:22:11 am
humorous (I hope) "homeowners association" story --

The little town nearest me has a Historical association, and all buildings in town are required to conform to historical -- approximately Colonial -- design strictures.

So this hippie couple bought a run-down ex-garage, made a tidy little house of it, and painted the tin roof a gorgeous, rich purple.

Naturally, the Town got all up in arms, aghast at the purple roof --

-- until the hippies showed how they'd taken that exact color from the "acceptable Colonial colors" brochure of the Association itself.


It is very purple.  I love it.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Killydd on January 06, 2012, 01:08:03 pm
As with anything else it does, a business will use force when the benefits of doing so are perceived to outweigh the risks. A state's monopoly on the legal use of force usually makes it too costly for a business to use force. As far as I am aware, there are no polities with well-developed economies where the state does not have a monopoly on the use of force, however, so whether or not businesses would use force in the absence of a state prohibition is an open question.

A business is in the business of making a profit.  Homeowners' associations exist to further the common goals of the homeowners.  The outright use of force is expensive, which is why big business likes having a government around to do the dirty work for them.  It's cheaper because the government socializes the costs of enforcement through taxation.  Without a government, businesses cannot shift the costs and effort of violence onto some other organization.  The costs of using force eat into profits, so, while you may be right that they will turn to force if it furthers their goals, to a large degree it will *not* further their goals.  This is especially true if their customers decide that they do not want to do business with a criminal organization that is so willing to use force.  Thus, such force as most businesses will be willing to use will be minimal, and hidden as much as possible to minimize the damage to their reputation.

As for homeowners' associations, what goals could they have that would be furthered by force?  They may want to minimize crime in their area, certainly, but that would be justified force, for the most part.  They may want to stop some people in the housing edition from doing certain things, but I can't see force as being necessary except as a last resort, and thus not used very often.  Contractual arrangements and requirements would be easy to set up for anyone who wants to move into the edition, and persistent violators of the contract will usually find it easier to straighten up or move out long before the last resort of force ever comes up. 

In short, your assumptions are true, under certain circumstances.  But those circumstances are generally not going to be commonplace under anarchy.  If anything, it is the existence of government that increases the chances of the use of force.

The use of force is not that expensive:  if it was, bars wouldn't have bouncers.  Admittedly, it can become expensive if resistance occurs, but the first bit is cheap. 

Now let's look at this HA:  a gang starts vandalizing the area.  The HA decides it would be cheaper to hire a couple of security guards than to clean up after them.  To fund this decision, they levy a fee on the homeowners, which they all agree to because their own property is being damaged.  Okay, maybe some disagree and don't sign on to the new contract so part of the area is protected and part isn't.  But suddenly, by moving into the area, you are now part of a state with a police force and taxes.  Or by being born into it. 
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 06, 2012, 02:22:49 pm
As for the ZAP, it runs into the same definitional problems as any other ethical system, and everything turns on the exact definitions which you use, so of course my assumptions might be questionable. If your version of the ZAP only prohibits unwarranted physical force, then the outcomes will be different than if everyone subscribes to a ZAP which also prohibits non-physical force. The stock ZAP as I understand it treats any nonconsensual impact on a person on his property as force, but that's unworkable in practice...

This is what in informal logic is called a straw man argument. First, you make up a false definition, then "defeat" it. Read the third-party literature. This subject comes up regularly in the Forum. I don't know if you can search the postings (never thought about it), but if so, you can read how the ZAP is used in EFT.
I brought up that particular definition of the ZAP because you mentioned physical force in a previous post. As I said in the quoted post, there are multiple ways of construing the ZAP, some of which make more sense then others. That particular one quite didn't make sense to me, because it seemed to lead to an absurd outcome, but I could be wrong. 

I haven't been able to find anything specifically on how the ZAP or similar doctrine is used in the EFT universe, but will keep looking.

Anyways, I usually assume that when someone refers to ZAP or similar doctrines, they mean a ZAP which requires meaningful harm to justify force, and requires the responding force to be proportional. If that assumption is wrong, then please correct me.

Mostly wrong. Read the third-party literature. Start with Wikipedia. I have problems with the ZAP article, but it frames the issue well enough to to begin discussion. Start there then let's talk. Without an understanding of the ZAP, it is pointless to discuss how it applies to home owners associations and the Occupy movement.

Quote from: Wikipedia
Aggression, for the purposes of the NAP, is defined as the initiation or threatening of violence against a person or legitimately owned property of another. Specifically, any unsollicited actions of others that physically affect an individual’s property, including that person’s body, no matter if the result of those actions is damaging, beneficiary or neutral to the owner, are considered violent when they are against the owner’s free will and interfere with his right to self-determination, as based on the libertarian principle of self-ownership.
Essentially, self-defense (which presumably is force of some kind) is justified in response to (1) unsolicited (2) actions which (3) physically affect (4) a person's person or property (5) regardless of whether or not the action is harmful. That's the Wiki definition. Not sure if it's the one you're looking for, but I used it in the previous post. I dislike such an approach because it justifies a response for any unsolicited action regardless of whether or not it's harmful, but it could work if the response at least must be proportional to the harm. And most of its terms are vague and subject to interpretation, specifically "unsolicited," "actions," and "physically affect." But vagueness is a problem with any rule when applied to real society. It is not an insurmountable problem in our society because the court system consolidates differing interpretations and more or less distills a "social consensus," though that consensus still changes over time as new cases arise and society changes. It is a bigger problem for an an-cap society which relies on social consensus for enforcement, as some here have suggested. 

Which is the point I was trying to make -- saying that a society follows the ZAP is like saying that a society follows the Ten Commandments, or any other list of rules. Eventually someone will disagree about the meaning of "honor" and say that an grandparent is neither a "mother" nor a "father." Rivers of ink have been spilled litigating every single word in the tax code's definition of "income." Since the day after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, people have been arguing about what is incorporated into "due process." Even something as apparently straightforward as "murder" can be made amazingly murky when dealing with real people in real circumstances. So why would something as broad as "aggression," "contact," or "harm" be any different in a ZAP-based society, considering that the meanings some of those words have been litigated in Anglo-American courts for centuries?

As I've explained earlier, if a society relies solely on peer pressure to enforce an ethical code, then it need social consensus, where the vast majority of the population agrees on the meanings of the terms of the ethical code, or ethical homogeneity. Social consensus requires ethical homogeneity at least on that particular ethical rule you're seeking to enforce. Otherwise someone who deviates from the postulated ethical code will not actually be a deviant because a significant part of the society will support him. If there is no social consensus, for example if half the population thinks that gay marriage is okay and the other half thinks that it is wrong, then the pressure on a homosexual couple to not marry is not going to be nearly as high as it would be in an ethically homogeneous society where virtually everyone thinks gay marriage is wrong. Gay marriage may be replaced with anything else, but the broad principle should hold true.

That is why relying on peer pressure alone is unworkable in a diverse society, to go back to a much earlier issue. In a fairly small community like EFT's Ceres, or small-town America, social pressure can be very effective against individuals. As someone said earlier, the costs of moving tend to be rather high in reality, so a person is usually "stuck" with the community within which he lives. If that community is small and most people agree on what is and isn't appropriate, then deviating from the norm and risking exclusion for most people is too expensive. But in a diverse community that process breaks down because people will disagree on what is and is not acceptable, especially if there is religious diversity, since religion almost always carries its own set of ethics which may or may not be congruent to the ZAP. But even if everyone broadly adheres to the ZAP, there will still be divergence of opinion which will increase over time. I am not questioning whether a society based on the ZAP which is enforced through social pressure could exist, but whether it could survive over time except in some limited circumstances. That is, can that system work for a diverse city like New York, or is it limited to small and homogeneous communities.

My argument is not that the ZAP is bad, but that relying solely on peer pressure to enforce it will not work in the long run without making some fairly questionable assumptions or postulating a homogeneous community where everyone agrees to what specifically the ZAP allows and prohibits.

From what I understand, an-cap society also punishes rule-breakers through contractual enforcement, and by allowing claims for personal injury against unwilling participants. Neither are perfect solutions and both arguably have significant problems in practice that to me outweigh their benefits.

Compensatory justice has fairly self-evident problems, which I won't go into here.

Freedom to contract is a meaningless phrase, and has two major problems. The first is that for most people, their "freedom" of contract extends to signing at the dotted line and no further. Most contracts involving private individuals are not negotiated, because of the asymmetry of power between the author of the contract, which is usually a business, and the individual. The individual usually needs what the contract-writer offers much more than the contract-writer needs the individual. Thus unskilled workers almost never negotiate their contracts, consumers do not negotiate their software agreements, and none of us have negotiated the terms of service for these forums. We do not have meaningful choice in most contracts, except to either accept or reject the contract, which is no different from having a choice to accept a town's laws or move elsewhere. And such a regime is in practice no less coercive than what we have now.

The second problem is that under an unrestricted freedom of contract, an individual may be forced to agree to almost anything, and not just because the language of most contracts is illegible to the average person. A choice to become functionally an indentured servant or to starve is no choice at all. This (http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7977980754704945463&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr) is the kind of outcome unrestricted freedom of contract invites when combined with strict contractual enforcement. An-cap's guarantee of personal autonomy is meaningless when a person can be forced or induced to sign it away.

These might not be seen as problems, of course. For a very long time the U.S. Supreme Court barred states and ccities from regulating wages, working conditions or any other terms of a labor contract on the theory that freedom of contract was a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, for example. Or society can deem that unconscionable and exploitative contracts are a reasonable price to pay. 

To bring up a final example, take honor killings. Some people think they're no different from murder; some people think they're fine and dandy. From what I understand, that's the sort of disagreement which causes mellyrn to throw up her hands and say "do what you want." Which I don't like, but understand why it's a choice some would make. I can see two ways of the ZAP applying to an honor killing, but correct me if I'm wrong.

(1) The straightforward approach would be to label the killer as aggressor, which would justify the use of physical force against him. Who would be justified in doing so is a different question. Under the scheme of compensatory justice which most here seem to endorse, if the deceased was in no ongoing economic relationships then only her family would have standing to sue, and only if the family either derived economic benefit from the deceased's existence or if compensatory justice also allows compensation for loss of companionship. In quite a few cases honor killings are endorsed by virtually the entire family, and the pressure to conform with the majority would be quite strong because a deviant could well be killed by the majority, so such killings could well be deemed "victimless" because no-one has standing and is willing to file a claim against the killer.

(2) If I take Sandy's advice and use the Wiki version of the ZAP, then I could quite easily argue that the deceased was the aggressor, depending on how "effect" is construed, and whether the ZAP applies only to people or also to organizations. It becomes even easier if we use common sense and require harm rather than mere "effect" in order to avoid the golf-ball problem I raised earlier. The family can say that dishonoring the family caused harm, and the only rational response was to kill the person dishonoring them. This is not a "straw man" argument -- people have made similar arguments in murder cases involving cheating spouses, for example. And if you insist on unnamed "third parties" as authority, someone will simply cite the third party supporting their position.

Definitions are very important to an ethical system, because how a term is defined determines whether certain actions are acceptable. 
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 06, 2012, 03:21:18 pm
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you seem to assume that businesses are fundamentally non-violent creatures, or at least abhor the use of force.[...] Corporations and businesses use all the means at their disposal to achieve their goals

You seem to assume that states are fundamentally non-violent creatures, or at least abhor the use of force.
Not at all, and I acknowledged as much in the very post you quoted. A state, like a business, has interests it will advance by any means it deems appropriate, up to and including force. Sam implied that businesses were fundamentally peaceful; I dismissed that notion as patently silly. Throughout history, individuals and profit-seeking enterprises have used force whenever the benefits of doing so outweighed the costs, just like states, although states are motivated by more than just profits. And some violence is motivated by fear, religion, or any number of other factors which have nothing to do with profits and where traditional cost-benefit analysis breaks down. So removing the state will not somehow eliminate or even reduce organized violence. In those cases where the state has lost its monopoly on the use of force, the result has almost always been widespread violence, rather than peace.

Under some conditions, the EROEI (energy return on energy invested) on violence is positive.  In other circumstances it is negative.  An agent (business, state, individual human, wolf, bacterium) that makes a bad call suffers a net loss of energy; if it makes enough bad calls (or a sufficiently bad one), it fails/dies.

Corporations, businesses, AND STATES (as well as individuals) will use violence if they think the net return will be positive.  An armed citizenry is an effort to make state violence against individuals yield a negative return.
Agreed. Although people tend to overstate the effectiveness of an armed citizenry, especially against a determined entity, whether it is a state or a business. The Chechens found out to their regret that some states do not care about casualties or atrocities, and will not hesitate to level entire cities to keep what they deem is theirs. But businesses are not dissimilar, and history abounds with examples of for-profit enterprises and profit-seeking individuals committing all the same atrocities, albeit usually on a smaller scale.

To argue for a state is to argue that we'll ALL be safer when a few of us have a better return on violence than the most of us.  Or, if you think that the citizens' power to vote, say, exercises sufficient restraint on the officials, it's to argue that we'll all be safer when we're each holding the leash of our neighbor in a big circle.

(Most state apologists seem to write as if "the state" were an entity unto itself, capable of action, and forget that "the state" is only a phrase, shorthand-speak for "all the various human individuals holding some sort of government office" -- i.e., the very creatures, humans, who are supposedly in need of being governed.  Anarchists are people who get this joke.)
Human institutions behave similarly in some ways to living beings, and it's easier to write about them as such, than to spend time specifying how the interests of a state's component parts affect what the state does. Does anyone actually want to read that? (Does anyone read what I write at all, for that matter?). Anyway, the "state" at its broadest encompasses all the people who have a voice in its decision-making process, not merely those who hold government office or are in its employ.

And I think therein lies our disagreement -- what is a state and how it behaves. I treat states as nothing more than human institutions, no different in their core behavior from any "voluntary" association, and so I do not buy the argument that a voluntary association by its nature could never become a state, could never become coercive, and would never expand the scope of its powers if allowed to do so. I especially do not accept such an argument if the proposed society allows for coercive mechanisms against individuals who cannot give meaningful consent.

I also do not accept the argument that a state will inevitably restrict the rights of others, just as I have never argued that other human institutions will inevitably become more state-like, merely that both are probable outcomes without a very positive view of human behavior. A true democratic state is fundamentally responsible to all of the people within it, no different from how a homeowners' association is responsible to all of homeowners within it. If the people within either allow expansion of power, or give their respective organizations more duties, then both the state and the association will inevitably expand. This is why good homeowners' association bylaws and good constitutions limit the scope of authority granted.

There is no theoretical or practical reason for why a state of very limited authority could not produce a society with all the same personal freedoms people claim an-cap society would allow. And no-one so far as offered a reason as to why an an-cap society wouldn't eventually develop institutions with coercive power and the ability to use them, except to say that "the people" wouldn't allow it.



Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 06, 2012, 08:43:11 pm
The use of force is not that expensive:  if it was, bars wouldn't have bouncers.  Admittedly, it can become expensive if resistance occurs, but the first bit is cheap. 

Aggressive force is expensive, because if one submits to aggressive force, worse force is likely to follow, so victims of aggressive force are apt to escalate radically.  It is also expensive, because if one uses aggressive force it makes you a threat to everyone, so everyone is apt to start using extreme measures against someone who uses aggressive force.

A state is a body of men, wherein other people accept their right to use aggressive force.  To get into that position however, typically requires dreadful and extraordinary means.  Sherman's march to the sea is about a mild as it gets.

A state, which is to say a monopoly of force, once established is very profitable, but it is extremely costly to establish.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 06, 2012, 08:50:49 pm
And I think therein lies our disagreement -- what is a state and how it behaves. I treat states as nothing more than human institutions, no different in their core behavior from any "voluntary" association.

The state claims the right, and genuinely believes it has the right, to use aggressive force.  Normal people don't, and if they make that claim, other people kill them.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 06, 2012, 09:05:27 pm
a gang starts vandalizing the area.  The HA decides it would be cheaper to hire a couple of security guards than to clean up after them.  To fund this decision, they levy a fee on the homeowners, which they all agree to because their own property is being damaged.  Okay, maybe some disagree and don't sign on to the new contract so part of the area is protected and part isn't.  But suddenly, by moving into the area, you are now part of a state with a police force and taxes.  Or by being born into it. 

No you are not.  If you agree to fund the defense forces, they give you a decal, which tells the gang that if they vandalize your house, the defense forces will come after them.

If you don't have a decal, you might put up a sign announcing you are armed and dangerous.  If  a lot of people feel as you do, you and they might form your own defense association.

You have heard the saying, when seconds count, police are only minutes away.  Maybe not having a decal is not such a big problem.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 07, 2012, 07:32:20 am
Quote
self-defense (which presumably is force of some kind) is justified in response to [emphasis added]

Self-defense, while (often) force, is not aggression.  It is not the initiation of force.  ("Preemptive" self-defense, otoh, is Orwellian for "aggression".)

Quote
where traditional cost-benefit analysis breaks down

Entropy never breaks down.  Even a state can expend energy unsustainably.  If it makes a sufficiently bad cost-benefit analysis (i.e., disregards entropy), it will fail/die.  Period.  The USSR did.  I believe the USA and EU are in their death throes because we are entering conditions that put large centralized entities at a relative energetic disadvantage.

Cheetahs pursuing gazelles don't break out calculators to decide whether to keep chasing.  A "cost-benefit analysis" is not necessarily conscious and deliberate, not even by humans or human states (and even when it is, it isn't always right).  But the inexorable energy relationship exists nonetheless.

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people tend to overstate the effectiveness of an armed citizenry, especially against a determined entity, whether it is a state or a business. The Chechens found out to their regret that some states do not care about casualties or atrocities, and will not hesitate to level entire cities to keep what they deem is theirs

I suspect that in Chechnya, the rebels reached their entropic limit before the state did -- but that doesn't mean the state must always win just because it doesn't care about atrocities.  I wonder how close the state was to its entropic limit?  A slight change in parameters, and the rag-tag ad hoc revolutionary army defeats the world's then-greatest army at Yorktown.  The American colonists did make imperial control prohibitively expensive for George III.

Quote
if the proposed society allows for coercive mechanisms against individuals who cannot give meaningful consent.

I'm open to defining a state as an association that does exactly that, or at least including that in the definition.  Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan breaks down if the sovereign cannot force people.  When the homeowners' association can forbid me to move away, or make moving away prohibitively expensive (such as, I can't take any of my own wealth -- such as it may be -- with me), it's become a state.

Sam put it so succinctly.

Quote
And no-one so far as offered a reason as to why an an-cap society wouldn't eventually develop institutions with coercive power and the ability to use them, except to say that "the people" wouldn't allow it.

Well, right now we're up against the prevailing meme that we humans "need" government, that we need to be governed; thank you Thomas Hobbes.  At least you, sir, are merely arguing that government is functionally inevitable, instead of necessary, for which I do indeed thank you (now that I'm clear on it). 

We're also up against 5000 years of history, which has mostly been the story of states, the way we tell it.  Let us not underestimate the power of the stories a people tells itself -- no wonder states look inevitable to you.

Only, now, here, some new stories are starting to arise.  Here's this fictional one of Sandy's, which will help loosen the grip of the stories of states on the imaginations of at least some of his readers, who may then go on to write their own, in an ever-growing new genre.  There is what's happening in Fairbanks -- a guy whose rather unusual name keeps escaping me; I knew I shoulda bookmarked the youtube videos -- where an alternative court system, very like EFT's mediations, is in place, not overthrowing the state system but hoping to simply make it obsolete.

People brought up to believe they need to be governed will certainly allow a state to form out of a voluntary association.  People brought up to believe in their own sovereignty may be the ones to impose that state on them.  People brought up to believe in everyone's personal sovereignty -- well, hmm?

There are those who argue that everything -- rocks, birds, comets, electrons -- exist because we believe they do.  That's a bit extreme, if you ask me -- but as for things than we humans create?  Of course we create things we believe in (insofar as we can); how could it be otherwise?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 07, 2012, 07:27:36 pm
I suspect that in Chechnya, the rebels reached their entropic limit before the state did -- but that doesn't mean the state must always win just because it doesn't care about atrocities.  I wonder how close the state was to its entropic limit?  A slight change in parameters, and the rag-tag ad hoc revolutionary army defeats the world's then-greatest army at Yorktown.  The American colonists did make imperial control prohibitively expensive for George III.

Sometimes the state wins, sometimes it does not:  A recent example being the Russians in Afghanistan.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: rah on January 09, 2012, 06:49:11 am
The Very Model Of a Modern Major cypherpunk In-joke, Number 667: Public Exploder.

Heh.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Killydd on January 09, 2012, 11:45:29 pm
Mellyrn:  I suppose my view is closer to that some form of a government will exist regardless of attempts to banish it.  It may indeed become less formal and more natural if an effort is made in that direction, but it will still exist.  There will always be the people adapting and interpreting the rules to specific circumstances which may be changing, whether it is an autocrat, a group of elected officials, or just people that have earned respect and a reputation for being wise.  The amount of trust said rulers place in people will however give the range of results you suggest:  a great deal of trust will yield rules that allow for great personal freedom and responsibility, whereas a low amount of trust will become quickly codified into few choices.

As far as your definition of a state, I can without excessive difficulty move into a different state with different laws.   Does this mean I am not part of a state? 

Sam, as far as being part of a state in that example, let's assume that to keep funding stable, the contract to fund it is established in perpetuity, or at least for a long time scale so that it would be part of selling a property as well.  Which solution is chosen depends partly on the character of the people that live in the area. 

Of course, as far as personal armed response goes, you might be hours or even days away from being able to respond to a threat to your property.

And I think therein lies our disagreement -- what is a state and how it behaves. I treat states as nothing more than human institutions, no different in their core behavior from any "voluntary" association.

The state claims the right, and genuinely believes it has the right, to use aggressive force.  Normal people don't, and if they make that claim, other people kill them.

So if they believe they have the right to aggressive force, why is it always (in the "civilized" world) made with an attempt to justify it as being in the defense of others?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 10, 2012, 02:58:38 am
Sam, as far as being part of a state in that example, let's assume that to keep funding stable, the contract to fund it is established in perpetuity

Land does not fight, people fight.  So a defense contract needs to  be established wiith the person, not the land.

Contracts with land are make sense for drains, and fences and suchlike.  The new owner of the property inherits from the previous owner the obligations resulting from drains going under his land and suchlike.   It does not make sense that he inherits the obligation to defend the people the previous owner is obligated to defend, and it may well be hard to make him do it.

As I remarked previously, establishing that sort of one sided deal always requires something at least as bad as Sherman's march to the sea - mass destruction of civilian property and artificial famine, and usually requires mass destruction, mass murder, artificial famine, and mass state sponsored rape.

If a monopoly of force is inevitable, it is not because such monopolies come into being quietly and easily.

The state claims the right, and genuinely believes it has the right, to use aggressive force.  Normal people don't, and if they make that claim, other people kill them.

So if they believe they have the right to aggressive force, why is it always (in the "civilized" world) made with an attempt to justify it as being in the defense of others?

The state only makes the defense of others argument when attacking the subjects of other states.  It considers it has every right to do as it pleases to its own subjects.

Consider the Kelo case.  Did they bother explaining they were defending someone?  The state claims the right to attack any of its subjects for any reason or no reason at all, and is genuinely indignant and outraged should such unprovoked attacks be resisted.


Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 10, 2012, 07:18:30 am
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Mellyrn:  I suppose my view is closer to that some form of a government will exist regardless of attempts to banish it.

At the moment, all I can make of your view of "some form of a government" is almost an equation with "some form of society".  Humans always live in society (the few exceptions, hermits and mountain men, are extremely rare and are looked upon with one form of awe or another).  The society will have rules.  Will the rules forcibly (and enforced by my neighbors) require me to refrain from certain actions, actions that actively harm my neighbors?  Of course.  Will the rules forcibly, and enforced not by my neighbors but by specially-appointed agents, require me to take certain actions, and/or refrain from actions that actively benefit (or please) me & mine and which don't harm the neighbors?  Well, now we're getting into what I might mean by a state.

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As far as your definition of a state, I can without excessive difficulty move into a different state with different laws.   Does this mean I am not part of a state?

I wasn't pinning "forcibly prevent relocation" to "state" so much as "forcibly prevent relocation", with the relocation issue just an example. A HA that made living there so attractive I couldn't possibly want to move would be quite another matter.  :)  I apologize for the distraction.

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Of course, as far as personal armed response goes, you might be hours or even days away from being able to respond to a threat to your property.

If you are that far away, in what sense is it "your" property?  Ah, well, states are good for enforcing that level of, hmm, abstraction, hey?

Out in the asteroid belt, maybe Bert & Ernie could find a chunk of ice and stick a "claimed" sign on it.  Perhaps I come out and, before they can get back to it, carve up all the ice and sell it.  I'm not entirely certain a mediator would find me in the wrong, here:  the ones who found it, found it when they couldn't do anything about it (for whatever reason); I found it when I could make use of it; maybe "first" only matters to three-year-olds and "actually able to use it" matters more.  Possibly Bert & Ernie only hoped their sign would impress next-comers.  All I'll say for myself is that I have no business expecting my similar signs to be respected, and I'd think myself a hypocrite if I put one out.

But under a state, a good lawyer could sue the dickens out of me -- and, likely, take most of the money, with just enough going to Bert & Ernie to keep them playing the lawyers' game.  Perhaps you consider that that game will always arise -- that people will always be chumps? -- but, I dunno:  let's give new stories, memes, a millennium or so to spread and see where we go.

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So if they believe they have the right to aggressive force, why is it always (in the "civilized" world) made with an attempt to justify it as being in the defense of others?

The very act of justification means that the justifier doubts, at least on some level, that the act is in fact good.  The state justifies its use -- even its abuse -- of force in order to convince onlookers that it did indeed act correctly and not abusively.  I could get shrinky and say that the justification is also done to convince the enforcers of their own rightness.  I might also say that (up to a point, at least) the worse the act, the louder the justification.

When we do things that we genuinely perceive as right, we don't bother to offer an explanation.  Who "justifies" (without being asked for a justification, I must note) helping a friend move, offering a sweater to someone who is cold, setting out free tomatoes or zucchini in the break room at work?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Killydd on January 10, 2012, 02:30:56 pm
Sam:  Land does not fight, but often people don't wish to fight either.  This is why for some people it would be simpler to sign off on a monthly bill than to agree to defend someone else's property in return for the same.  Of course, if people dislike tying something to the land so much, perhaps it is simply a long term contract with penalties for withdrawal, that you are free to transfer to the new owner of your property.  Admittedly, the argument is slightly ad hoc, but people would negotiate any contracts rather than simply taking the first terms that pop into someone's head. 

Hm, something about Sherman's March just occurred to me:  it took place some sixty years after the formation of the state.  Evidently there are circumstances which can at least delay such atrocities. 

Reading through the Kelo case summary as you suggested, I did notice a few things.  The justification was certainly couched in terms of economic defense, that more people would benefit.  The actual results are immaterial.  I also noticed that each court that ruled did so very narrowly:  not everyone bought the excuse.  And in general there was enough opposition to enact further restrictions in many places to keep it from happening. 

Mellyrn:  I suppose that you're right in that I say a society will always have some form of archon.  How large is your group of neighbors?  Are the people that live a hundred miles away that are experiencing increasingly acid rain(raising maintainance and damaging their crops) your neighbors?  (To clarify, suppose that your factory is proven to be a contributor to the effect.)  Is the difference now whether their representative to you is a specially appointed state agent or a private firm? 

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with the relocation issue just an example.
No, you are right in that relocation, or more accurately, being able to quit a group, is quite important.  The issue really is simply that states have claimed all habitable areas currently. 

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If you are that far away, in what sense is it "your" property?  Ah, well, states are good for enforcing that level of, hmm, abstraction, hey?

That depends.  Do Bert and Ernie have property on Ceres right now, even though they're certainly hours away?  Can you own a vacation home in a different city, make some money on renting it out, and only visit occasionally?  Can you work at a job where it would be difficult to impossible to take off in the middle of the day and travel half an hour or more to protect your property?  If the answer to any of these is yes, then I don't think there is any abstraction involved.

Your example of claimjumping is more involved certainly, and it is definitely why people tend to leave a guard at a claim if they depart for some reason.  Of course the reason that lawyers could get involved is because most people do agree that a sign saying "this is mine" should be enough.  But your system of belief could grow in force if some group just started planting a flag on every little hunk of rock they came across and said "eh we'll work out if it's worth coming back here later based on our quick survey." 

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When we do things that we genuinely perceive as right, we don't bother to offer an explanation.  Who "justifies" (without being asked for a justification, I must note) helping a friend move, offering a sweater to someone who is cold, setting out free tomatoes or zucchini in the break room at work?
Some acts require no justification.  But some acts taken by themselves are wrong, but are justified by circumstances.  Say I shoot someone:  at first glance, it is a wrong act.  On the other hand, I may justify the act by proving that he was in the act of mugging me. 
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 10, 2012, 03:34:17 pm
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I suppose that you're right in that I say a society will always have some form of archon.

A friend has lately been telling me of certain Great Basin tribes who don't operate that way.  They have (well, had) advisory boards of elders, kind of thing, but no particular penalty for going against their advice.

The FGC -- Friends General Conference, a branch of Quakers -- and its constituent groups don't have archons.  There is someone called a "clerk" (as in "clerk of the Meeting") who serves for two years as sort of a coordinator, but by no means as a leader.  We don't call ourselves an anarchy, but we pretty much are.  You may say we're pretty homogeneous (despite some of us being self-identifying Buddhists, Jews and others) -- and to the extent that introverts are overrepresented among us, I guess we are.

Just some other views for you to consider.

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How large is your group of neighbors?

Mine?  How large is the universe?

OK, that's a bit philosophical.  On a more practical level, my "neighbors" include anyone I can conceivably influence and by whom I can conceivably be influenced.

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Are the people that live a hundred miles away that are experiencing increasingly acid rain(raising maintainance and damaging their crops) your neighbors?  (To clarify, suppose that your factory is proven to be a contributor to the effect.)  Is the difference now whether their representative to you is a specially appointed state agent or a private firm?

If I find out that my factory is complicating the existence of tree frogs, who don't send me any representative for obvious reasons, I will take steps to clean up our practices.  It's just good housekeeping.  People on the other side of the world, who maybe can't be meaningfully affected by my effluent directly, nonetheless may quite possibly have friends & resources within my sphere of influence.  Or maybe I'd like to expand into their area some day, so if they see my current practices as being mindful, they may welcome me more than the arrogant inconsiderate other guy.

Or they may not, but, as the man said, I am not polite to others because they deserve it; I am polite to others because I am a gentleman.

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The issue really is simply that states have claimed all habitable areas currently. 

Hence one great service provided by decentralization:  it is easier to move from Kansas to Missouri if Kansas declares abortion and all birth control methods illegal, than it is from Kansas to, say, Canada if the US federal gov't declared likewise.

If states had to woo customers (citizens) the way competing coffee shops must, we'd have more happy citizens.  And a happy citizen is a much better-behaved citizen than an unhappy one.

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If the answer to any of these is yes, then I don't think there is any abstraction involved.

I take your point, though I still think it's an abstraction.  For myself, I don't "own" anything.  Legally I do, of course, but I'm speaking here of my personal morality.  There are some things I directly control right now.  My home, being 1.5 hours away, is not right now one of them.  My car is just a minute's walk out the door but in one sense I have even less control over it than over my house because it's much easier for someone to hotwire my car and take it than for them to take my house. 

I would rather trust my neighbors (and here I'm meaning the people within a few minute's walk of my home, who know me, my dog, my car, my house and like that) to object to a stranger's moving into my house while I'm away on vacation, than any police force.  It means I have to actually get to know them, and let them know me -- i.e., form a community with them.  Otherwise we live sad, separate lives as next-door strangers to one another.  How cold.

I suppose I'd call police if my car were stolen.  I'd probably get better results if I called a PI, though.


On reflection, the existence of American police enables the uprooted isolated American lifestyle.  It would be interesting to consider how the absence of police would affect the shape of a society.  I'm already attracted to a cohabiting kind of living, and we are in the early stages of planning to live with a couple of other families; presumably we will coordinate who's minding the ranch at any given time.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 11, 2012, 03:35:44 pm
Hm, something about Sherman's March just occurred to me:  it took place some sixty years after the formation of the state.

No it did not.

Before Sherman's march to the sea, people said "The United States are".  It was less unitary than the EU, and as we are seeing, the EU is not very unitary. After Sherman's march to the sea, people said the "The United States is"

Before Sherman's march to the sea, the federal government did not have a monopoly of force.  After Sherman's march to the sea, it did.

Before Sherman's march to the sea, the United States was not a state.

And similarly, for the EU to truly unite, for it to be one state with one army, will require more blood that was spilled in the war between the states, because of the greater racial, cultural, institutional, and linguistic differences between the states of the EU.

The EU will break up, or else be united by fire and steel.  Peaceful unifications are rare, and apt to be preceded by grave bloodshed in living memory.

In the late medieval period, peaceful unifications were managed by the royalty and leading aristocracy exchanging daughters, and were a chancy business that took a long time.

Reading through the Kelo case summary as you suggested, I did notice a few things.  The justification was certainly couched in terms of economic defense, that more people would benefit.


The supremes did not rule that the state could destroy people's houses if its rationale was true.  It sufficed merely that the state could piously proclaim a rationale.  The rationale was that the state would get new revenues from the more intensive use of land, but after existing use of land was destroyed, it was revealed that no one had any very urgent or coherent idea as to how the seized land was going to be more intensely used, merely some pretty pictures with no real business plan.  They simply had not thought through what the land would be used for after they flattened the existing buildings, any more than the marines had rebuilding plans for Fallujah.  The city of New London  had a dream, not a plan, for what was going to happen to Kelo's property.

Eminent domain is in practice usually simple aggression.  Stuff gets destroyed.  Any subsequent rebuilding is an afterthought, which if it happens at all, gets carried out belatedly and is poorly done.  Observe that after Kelo, they were swift to destroy, yet never got around to rebuilding, revealing that the purpose, the intent, the desire, was to destroy, to punish, to make people suffer, not to build something where those people formerly lived.

What we did to Kelo is what we did to our enemies in Fallujah.  Kelo is what we should have done to our enemies in Afghanistan.

If the supremes were seriously arguing that the City of New London could attack landowners for the greater good, they would have at least insisted on a coherent, concrete, and achievable plan that would advance the greater good, rather than vague and pious hopes.  The essence of the Supremes ruling in Kelo is that the state can destroy your stuff because it is the state, and you are not.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 18, 2012, 05:15:40 pm
Apologies for the late reply. Workload and getting sick sadly are a rather bad combination when trying to make a coherent post.

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self-defense (which presumably is force of some kind) is justified in response to [emphasis added]

Self-defense, while (often) force, is not aggression.  It is not the initiation of force.  ("Preemptive" self-defense, otoh, is Orwellian for "aggression".)
There are still definitional issues. For example, is preemption in response to a clear and imminent threat aggression, or is it self-defense? Amassing armaments and training soldiers is an early step in the process of initiating the use of force, but it's not the use of force. And how imminent should such a threat be? And I must again ask whether the threat must only involve force, or whether force can be used in response to other threats as well. These are questions which smarter folk than I have been struggling with for centuries, and there is still no good answer to any of them in practice.

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where traditional cost-benefit analysis breaks down

Entropy never breaks down.  Even a state can expend energy unsustainably.  If it makes a sufficiently bad cost-benefit analysis (i.e., disregards entropy), it will fail/die.  Period.  The USSR did.  I believe the USA and EU are in their death throes because we are entering conditions that put large centralized entities at a relative energetic disadvantage.

Cheetahs pursuing gazelles don't break out calculators to decide whether to keep chasing.  A "cost-benefit analysis" is not necessarily conscious and deliberate, not even by humans or human states (and even when it is, it isn't always right).  But the inexorable energy relationship exists nonetheless.
It is true that no-one can ignore basic economics, and a state operating beyond the resources available will eventually run into problems. However, collapse is not the only response available to a state which runs into resource limits. A state is a problem-solving institution, to borrow Tainter's language. It is also a self-perpetuating institution. A resource limit for a state is just another problem to be solved. The United States is solving it by shrinking operations and increasing efficiency; New York has been doing that for several years. Arbitration and mediation provisions are promoted by American courts because they reduce the workload on the court system. Collapse from unsustainable operations will occur when a state fails to deal with it and it is detrimental to those who can assure the state's survival. A state will collapse only if its continued survival is no longer in the interests of those who can ensure its survival. The USSR did not collapse because it was on the wrong end of the return-on-complexity curve, or even because it was experiencing falling living standards, but because those in power were no longer interested in maintaining the USSR as a single entity. The EU will collapse only if its existence is no longer beneficial to its core members.

Anyway, my point was that cost-benefit analysis does not help to predict behavior in circumstance where the perceived benefits are very subjective, because the entire concept of costs and benefits in such a case becomes meaningless.

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people tend to overstate the effectiveness of an armed citizenry, especially against a determined entity, whether it is a state or a business. The Chechens found out to their regret that some states do not care about casualties or atrocities, and will not hesitate to level entire cities to keep what they deem is theirs

I suspect that in Chechnya, the rebels reached their entropic limit before the state did -- but that doesn't mean the state must always win just because it doesn't care about atrocities.  I wonder how close the state was to its entropic limit?  A slight change in parameters, and the rag-tag ad hoc revolutionary army defeats the world's then-greatest army at Yorktown.  The American colonists did make imperial control prohibitively expensive for George III.
A state does not have to win, but the modern state has such an enormous resource base available that it will win in the end so long as it has the willpower to keep fighting. And regardless, the price of victory for the locals will usually be enormous. This is why every decent work on guerrilla warfare emphasizes that victory can only be accomplished in a contest of wills, not a contest of resources.

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if the proposed society allows for coercive mechanisms against individuals who cannot give meaningful consent.

I'm open to defining a state as an association that does exactly that, or at least including that in the definition.  Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan breaks down if the sovereign cannot force people.  When the homeowners' association can forbid me to move away, or make moving away prohibitively expensive (such as, I can't take any of my own wealth -- such as it may be -- with me), it's become a state.
Most states in the developed world nowadays do not really restrict population movement. Yet they are still states. There is no meaningful difference between an association which claims the right to enforce certain rules against a supposedly sovereign individual, and a state which claims the right to enforce laws, because they are doing the same exact thing, and the result is the same.

You said earlier that an anarchist society will still have rules, but it will not have a government. "Public will" demonstrably does not exist in any meaningful way for most things, because people will disagree on just about anything, often quite vehemently, especially when their interests are involved. So where would rules come from, if there is no government to make them? A citizen-council which operates by consensus is still a government, albeit a limited and potentially a fairly benign one. A modern-day arbitrator is not very different from a judge, and though he is limited less by laws and more by the provisions of a contract's arbitration clause, regular folk rarely have a say in the arbitration clause's terms.

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And no-one so far as offered a reason as to why an an-cap society wouldn't eventually develop institutions with coercive power and the ability to use them, except to say that "the people" wouldn't allow it.

Well, right now we're up against the prevailing meme that we humans "need" government, that we need to be governed; thank you Thomas Hobbes.  At least you, sir, are merely arguing that government is functionally inevitable, instead of necessary, for which I do indeed thank you (now that I'm clear on it). 
Depends on what you mean. I do not think that humans have some sort of metaphysical or biological need for a government. However, so far humans have always organized into states and have formed governments if given the chance, even in fictional worlds where they do not have to do so. Virtually every other aspect of human society has changed through the centuries, sometimes quite dramatically, but there have always been states and governments. That is very strong evidence that states are very good at solving certain types of problems which societies tend to run into. The form has varied, but there has always been some sort of decision-making body, and some form of rule enforcement, in every society.

We can imagine stateless societies. But the likelihood of such a society emerging and enduring under real-life circumstances is very small. I suspect that a true an-cap society has even greater requirements than a true democracy, which itself requires certain levels of socio-economic development. EFT is a great work of fiction, and makes the reader ask some very interesting questions about our current society. But I cannot see the an-cap society which EFT proposes working under current conditions.

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At the moment, all I can make of your view of "some form of a government" is almost an equation with "some form of society".  Humans always live in society (the few exceptions, hermits and mountain men, are extremely rare and are looked upon with one form of awe or another).  The society will have rules.  Will the rules forcibly (and enforced by my neighbors) require me to refrain from certain actions, actions that actively harm my neighbors?  Of course.  Will the rules forcibly, and enforced not by my neighbors but by specially-appointed agents, require me to take certain actions, and/or refrain from actions that actively benefit (or please) me & mine and which don't harm the neighbors?  Well, now we're getting into what I might mean by a state.
Both types of societies have states, and presumably have some sort of mechanism for determining what the rules are. It's a difference of scale, not a difference of kind. A minimalist state which only forbids clearly harmful actions like murder is still a state. A government of expressly enumerated powers is still a government. But that may be because I define such things very broadly.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 18, 2012, 10:22:29 pm
However, collapse is not the only response available to a state which runs into resource limits. A state is a problem-solving institution, to borrow Tainter's language. It is also a self-perpetuating institution.

All organizations, with the passage of time, tend to get worse and worse at solving problems, become ever stupider, ever less efficient, and ever less sane.  They succumb to bureaucracy and Parkinson's laws.

Whom fortune wishes to destroy, she first makes mad.

Government originates in a stationary bandit, a bandit king, a bandit so  successful he deters or exterminates all competition.  The government at  first consists of little more than the bandit himself.  Taxation  consists of him suggesting that the eminent give him and his boys land  and money, thus taxes, though capricious and erratic, are quite low.  Laws are few, verging on nonexistent, but enforced with brutal  efficiency, the main law being that no one else does any banditry.

Over time bureaucrats, laws, taxes, quasi governmental organizations,  and regulations multiply like vermin. Eventually, laws, taxes and  meddling bureaucrats become a serious burden, and the bureaucrats face  the need to persuade everyone that a horde of bureaucrats is a good thing.

The left is the bureaucracy's PR apparatus - a collection of government  sock puppets and astroturf. Its mission is to persuade us that six hundred pounds of  fat is a healthy and handsome physique, and that government has never  been better, that more laws are good for you, the government is here to  help you, and more government will help you more.

Ever since the original bandit chieftain, government has moved ever further leftwards, and will always move ever further leftwards until checked by crisis and collapse
A resource limit for a state is just another problem to be solved. The United States is solving it by shrinking operations and increasing efficiency;

You could have fooled me.  The budget looks like it is explosively expanding operations and decreasing efficiency.  Government spending is not just increasing, but increasing explosively.

New York has been doing that for several years.

For several years New York has been spending ever increasing amounts of money on performing ever fewer tasks, resulting in a steadily diminishing tax base as the productive flee.  When people talk about "cuts", they do not mean cuts, they mean that whereas previously they proposed to expand spending by 43.24%, they will instead expand spending by 43.23%,  The lunatic ultra extreme far far right proposes to expand spending by 43.12%, and gets accused of practicing witchcraft, is dismissed by the press as insane, and has no hope of winning pre-selection, let alone election.  New York is proceeding upon the same path as California, and the US as a whole upon the same path as New York and California.

The USSR did not collapse because it was on the wrong end of the return-on-complexity curve, or even because it was experiencing falling living standards, but because those in power were no longer interested in maintaining the USSR as a single entity.

Bullshit.  The USSR could not defeat the Muhahiden nor the Contras.  When people saw this, every man and his dog started rebelling.  The Soviet Union was held together by fear. Thus if one domino falls, every other domino trembles, as the people underneath start to wonder what they can get away with. The USSR relied on fear.  When people stopped being afraid, it fell.

Observe the timeline:

In May 1988, a few days after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan began, Hungary had another go at doing the things it tried in 1956 - they took a big risk of war, but this time was not crushed.

They reason they were willing to take this big risk is that they judged that war was less likely, and if war ensued, victory more feasible. They took this gamble within days of the Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan beginning. The connection is direct and obvious.

In January 1989, a few months after Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan began, and a few days before the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan, Hungary's parliament voted to allow freedom of association and independent political parties. One month later, the Hungarian Central Committee approved a new constitution that omitted mention of the leading role of the communist party.

Hungary chose to risk war, doing things that had previously led to war, because they saw less chance of war, and more chance of victory.

The Hungarians took risk of war. When war did not eventuate, everyone joined in.

One domino fell immediately after the first, and then another domino, in a cascade, pretty good evidence that one domino caused the next.

Afghanistan made the Poles unafraid. Poland made the Hungarians unafraid. Afghanistan, Poland, and Hungary made the East Germans, Czechs, and Bulgarians
unafraid, each domino leading to the fall of the next.

Anyone who considered opposing the fall of communism was thinking "what if I wind up like those poor gits trapped in Kabul?" And, of course, Ceausescu did oppose the fall, and did wind up like those poor gits trapped in Kabul.

The Soviets ruled by fear - and proof of this is that when people stopped fearing them, the Soviets stopped ruling.

Subsequently, in a more dramatic provocation, Hungary cut the barbed wire on
1989 May 3rd, seventy seven days after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan
was completed, again testing Gorbachev's willingness to start a new war
directly after defeat in Afghanistan, and Gorbachev again blinked, a classic
illustration of the domino effect.<

Hungary cuts the wire 1989 May 3rd, testing Soviet will.

Gorbachev announces Sinatra doctrine 25 October 1989

Soviets began withdrawing 1988 May 15, and withdrawal was completed in 1989
February 15.

The "war of the laws" - Soviet puppet organizations publicly cutting their
puppet strings began around May 1989, about sixty days after withdrawal from
Afghanistan was completed, and the "war of the laws" escalated directly into the
collapse of the Soviet Union one year later.

A state does not have to win, but the modern state has such an enormous resource base available that it will win in the end so long as it has the willpower to keep fighting.

Towards the end, the Soviet army was underfed and under equipped.  The first sign of the fall was the Soviet Army hijacking Soviet potato trucks.  When Soviet potato trucks could no longer get past Soviet troops, I knew the Soviet Union was falling.  Whether because of Reagan's strategy of fomenting wars all over the place, or because of innate social and economic decay, the Soviet elite could no longer get light bulbs, and the Soviet soldiers no longer get potatoes.  

People rebelled because they no longer feared the Soviet Army, and the Soviet Army was no longer fearsome in large part for lack of potatoes.

You said earlier that an anarchist society will still have rules, but it will not have a government. "Public will" demonstrably does not exist in any meaningful way for most things, because people will disagree on just about anything, often quite vehemently, especially when their interests are involved. So where would rules come from, if there is no government to make them?

People will form associations to defend themselves and their stuff.

Signing up with a protection agency in advance is going to be like signing up with an insurance company. As with medical insurance, if someone has not signed up with a protection agency in advance, and signs up after trouble occurs, he is going to find protection is limited and expensive. One contracts with an agency before trouble arises, in order to deter potential trouble makers – as with medical insurance, one contracts with an agency hoping never to use its services, and the agency hoping never to provide them. The agency therefore prefers to lose customers who commit crimes.

Insurance companies will not insure you against deliberately burning your own house down, and if they did, it would cost too much, and similarly protection agencies will not protect you when you yourself start a conflict. Therefore protection agencies will always need to have some reasonable arrangements for determining fault. They will do this not out of concern for the general good but out of concern for their own particular good, and the good of their clients or members.

Protection agencies will want clients who are peaceful, and law abiding (just as credit card agencies want clients who pay their just debts and health insurance companies want healthy clients) and will have mechanisms in place to discriminate against the lawless. One such a mechanism is a system for determining justice in a dispute. Such a mechanism will effectively fine the somewhat lawless, and will leave the intolerably lawless unprotected and subject to private violence. If you are determined to be at fault, you will have to pay compensation or face grave danger of possibly lethal violence. Of course you might find a protection organization with a different opinion of you, but they have an incentive to form accurate opinions. Their diverse institutions and procedures for ensuring the accuracy of these opinions is the system of justice in an anarchic society.

If a client has a permanent relationship with his defense agency, in which the defense agency, like an insurance company, bails him out in trouble, then both defense agencies in a conflict have an interest in justice – one defense agency seeking that justice be done and seen to be done for the accuser, one seeking that no injustice be done nor seen to be done to the accused. If, however, the relationship is like that between a client and a lawyer, where the client hires the agency after trouble arises, then the agency has an excessive interest in getting good results for its client regardless of justice, and, like lawyers, an excessive interest in trouble. I expect that in anarchism, defense agencies would usually be based on long term relationships, rather than charging by the incident, because someone who relied on by-the-incident defense would be vulnerable to someone with superior resources. When he really needed defense, no one would want to provide it. Payment-per-incident creates an dangerous incentive for the defense agency to defend its client even when he is in the wrong, but it also creates a dangerous incentive for the client to refrain from seeking punishment for those who have wronged him even when he is in the right, and thus makes it likely that others will believe they can wrong him with impunity. An insurance type defense contract, where the defense agency does not charge for particular incidents, however costly they may be, will get you a little decal to put on your property and your contracts and so forth, a decal which will deter evildoers because the contract it represents deters evildoers. Such a contract represents determination to be avenged, payment in advance committing oneself and one's defense organization to future vengeance.

For defense organizations to have the right incentives, most people, or at least most people with something to protect and ability to pay, must sign up in advance, and for most people to sign up in advance, institutions for protecting those that have not signed up in advance (heroes, vigilantes looking to build a reputation, charities, and commercial defense agencies doing pro bono work) cannot be overly effective.  Predation on those that have not signed up has to be a serious problem, so that someone who declines to sign up with one group or another needs to devote unusual effort to self defense, and effort to building a reputation that he is willing to resist aggression and predation.   Having a decal proving you have committed in advance to an organization that is committed in advance to avenging you has to be worth something, in order that people have incentives to make the necessary commitments, which means that not having such a decal has to cost something.  Too much pro bono work by well intentioned heroes would undermine the system.  There needs to significantly less justice and security for those that are not signed up, in order that individual people individually have incentive to make the necessary payments and commitments - which means there needs to be significant semi tolerated predation on those who merely have by-the-incident protection.

Anarcho capitalism as envisaged by Sandy Sandfort is a little too nice for people to have the necessary individual and personal incentive to individually and personally defend their freedom.  It has too damn many do-gooders of excessive virtue.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 19, 2012, 07:13:50 am
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For example, is preemption in response to a clear and imminent threat aggression, or is it self-defense?

Why was being a "quick draw" important in an American "Western"?

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Amassing armaments and training soldiers is an early step in the process of initiating the use of force, but it's not the use of force.

True; if we change "soldiers" to "fighters" or "minutemen" or the like, it is also an early step in defense.

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And I must again ask whether the threat must only involve force, or whether force can be used in response to other threats as well. These are questions which smarter folk than I have been struggling with for centuries, and there is still no good answer to any of them in practice.

There is no good a priori answer; that is to say, there is no way to say in advance, "Doing [X] will always be the right thing."  Hence arbiters -- whether you call them judges and dress them in funny wigs & robes and fund them with taxes, or mediators in jeans and funded some other way.

We make all these laws so that we know what to do, and yet when it comes down to it, even under a government with a written constitution and more law books than any one human could read in a lifetime, the law is whatever the judge says it is and we go to effective arbitration anyway.

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A state is a problem-solving institution, to borrow Tainter's language. It is also a self-perpetuating institution. A resource limit for a state is just another problem to be solved. .... A state will collapse only if its continued survival is no longer in the interests of those who can ensure its survival.

Not all resources are just another problem to be solved.  The growing complexity of the state is, in and of itself, a drain on resource.  Cf Ilya Prigogine and the development of complex systems (from human institutions down to water flowing) -- one pattern of behavior will handle more and more input, less and less well, up until it can't handle it any more.  Then it breaks down, order collapses into chaos.  It may reorganize in a different way, capable of handling the larger load.

I'd say the British Empire did this -- broke down and reorganized.  It certainly broke down; the reorganization seems to be much more consensual than the original.

I have a standing bet with a friend that the US will collapse by 2016.  We'll see, hey?

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The USSR did not collapse because it was on the wrong end of the return-on-complexity curve

I think it did.  Davidson & Rees-Mogg make the case that the birth & development of the USSR and the 20thc rise of the USA were both responses to the larger factors of the 20thc (booming energy inputs, booming population, loss of frontiers).  They liken the collapse of the USSR to "watching one of a pair of fraternal twins die of old age", the USA being the other twin, of course.

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So where would rules come from, if there is no government to make them?

Oh, dear, and you're serious, too.

Reread that sentence, and see that you're proposing that "government" is some  -- shall I say supernatural? -- well, at least extra-human agent that dispenses rules ex cathedra to us monkeys of chaos.

And yet even monkey troops have behaviors they recognize as "acceptable" and "unacceptable".  Rules, I say, are just verbal expressions of the patterns which we already know will either get us good will from other humans or piss them off.

I recognize that individual humans are likely to object to certain of my possible actions (e.g., taking what they consider to be "their" stuff).  I know that I already know what many of these actions are, and I can (and, in fact, I do) adjust my behavior according to whether I'm OK with upsetting them or not (I may value their good will more than I value their stuff, see?  So many statist arguments seem to suppose humans to be, as Hobbes falsely said, inherently solitary, creatures who think they exist in a kind of vacuum where they don't need other and friendly people around them -- !!)  I also know that other people will sometimes surprise me -- I'll think I'm being a good neighbor in a certain way, and yet my neighbor may find what I do (or don't do) upsetting.

I also know that, no matter how many laws we write trying to reduce that element of surprise, it's no use:  there will always be surprises and we'll just have to go to arbitration.  Query:  is the frequency of going to court directly or inversely proportional to the number of laws?  My intuition is, it's a direct proportion.  The Tao Te Ching says, "The more rules, the more rule-breakers."  This must be one contribution to state breakdown -- too much time & energy diverted to settling internal conflicts.

I believe my fellow humans want to write laws in order to reduce or even eliminate that element of surprise, of being not-in-control.  I believe that in order to live in an anarchy, I'm going to have to find other people with a higher tolerance for uncertainty.  I believe that teaching tolerance for uncertainty is a) possible and b) desirable -- because, after all, life is uncertain, so we might as well learn to roll with it.

If you come to live at my house, you'll learn the "house rules" by observation.  You are hard-wired to do this.  Sometimes other members of the household will say something explicit, but far and away most rules will be unspoken.  I may not even know some of them, explicitly, myself, and will only discover that we have them when you "break" them just by doing whatever it is that you're used to.  There will be some friction, sure.  But I live in a pretty hoopy household, and we're good at rolling with stuff, so we'll work it out.

Eventually, when you become comfortable with your status as "accepted here", you will venture to introduce changes, rules of your own.  We'll work these through, too, without any kind of tribunal.

When a group gets large enough, they may want to codify (fossilize?) things.  So far, that's what we humans have done.  I submit that we do so today because we always have.  But, as you no doubt know, the past does not equal the future.  It's plain & obvious that the existence of rules, even with enforcers, does not guarantee freedom from problems.  It evidently worsens the problem of rule-wrangling.  What have we got to lose from trying a different approach? If we fall back into a state of statehood, what will that be but habit?

Anyway, that's where rules come from:  they emerge from society; they do not cause society.

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A citizen-council which operates by consensus is still a government
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But that may be because I define such things very broadly.

Broadly enough that I'm finding this to be a distinction without a difference.  I concede that humans, being social animals just short of "hive" animals, will always form societies, which will of course have some degree of organization.

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We can imagine stateless societies.

I'd be genuinely interested in what you imagine a stateless society to be like.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 20, 2012, 10:08:58 pm
And yet even monkey troops have behaviors they recognize as "acceptable" and "unacceptable".  Rules, I say, are just verbal expressions of the patterns which we already know will either get us good will from other humans or piss them off.

If there are truly no laws at all, then theft, assault, and robbery will fairly reliably get the death penalty, in which case there are truly laws most firmly enforced.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 24, 2012, 06:01:25 am
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And I must again ask whether the threat must only involve force, or whether force can be used in response to other threats as well. These are questions which smarter folk than I have been struggling with for centuries, and there is still no good answer to any of them in practice.

There is no good a priori answer; that is to say, there is no way to say in advance, "Doing [X] will always be the right thing."  Hence arbiters -- whether you call them judges and dress them in funny wigs & robes and fund them with taxes, or mediators in jeans and funded some other way.

We make all these laws so that we know what to do, and yet when it comes down to it, even under a government with a written constitution and more law books than any one human could read in a lifetime, the law is whatever the judge says it is and we go to effective arbitration anyway.
A society was proposed that enshrines the right to retaliate in force as a fundamental right, and that has absolute respect for individual sovereignty. Either it can form a consensus on when force may be used, or it's going to develop major conflicts due to divisions in opinion. A functioning democratic government provides a means of distilling some semblance of consensus from many diverging opinions, judges and arbitrators exist to respond to ambiguities left in that consensus, and the apparatus of the state is used to enforce the consensus, which altogether makes for a stable framework. It does not matter how the consensus is achieved, ambiguities resolved, and the whole thing enforced, so long as the framework is there and accepted as legitimate by most. It is irrelevant whether the rules are generated in a town-hall meeting, whether they're argued before a judge or an arbitrator, and whether enforcement is handled by the police or by a private security agency or by your private arsenal of deadly things.

The reason I keep raising definitions is because the an-cap societies I have seen proposed so far have no consensus-building institutions, so their core principles have to be accepted by virtually everyone and defined concretely enough to survive future problems. Lack of consensus-building institutions might not be a problem for a small group, but it might be a big problem in a complex society unless assumptions are made about human nature which as far as I am aware do not hold true. I will address this in more detail at the end of this post.

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A state is a problem-solving institution, to borrow Tainter's language. It is also a self-perpetuating institution. A resource limit for a state is just another problem to be solved. .... A state will collapse only if its continued survival is no longer in the interests of those who can ensure its survival.

Not all resources are just another problem to be solved.  The growing complexity of the state is, in and of itself, a drain on resource.  Cf Ilya Prigogine and the development of complex systems (from human institutions down to water flowing) -- one pattern of behavior will handle more and more input, less and less well, up until it can't handle it any more.  Then it breaks down, order collapses into chaos.  It may reorganize in a different way, capable of handling the larger load.
As I've said in the quoted post, a state's response to a problem need not result in increased complexity, seductive as that conclusion may be. Increased complexity is one of many problem-solving responses a state has at its disposal. Limited resources are a fairly typical problem that all states and all societies have to deal with on a regular basis. For example, the American court system has been dealing with limited resources for decades, and its response has not been greater complexity in most cases; instead, the court system has relied increasingly on alternate dispute resolution mechanisms such as contract-enforced arbitration to reduce its caseload. Similarly, the criminal justice system has been increasingly relying on alternatives to incarceration for a number of crimes, such as special programs for veterans and drug users, in response to resource limitations. New York has been consolidating municipal services and agencies, and reducing staff, especially where demand for state services has fallen due to population decline. The federal government  is also increasing efficiency, although the current political climate may stall such efforts; even if that fails, current tax rates are so low that the entire budget "crisis" could be largely solved simply by raising taxes to pre-2001 levels or reducing subsidies in the tax code. Increase in complexity is not inevitable, although states do have a tendency of expanding the scope of their authority unless limited in some way, usually by good institutional design combined with strong socio-economic networks.

I agree that complexity carries parasitic costs, but increased complexity is not the sole response available, though I think you've said as much, so don't think we disagree on that.

Will check out Prigogine tomorrow. Many thanks for the suggestion.

I'd say the British Empire did this -- broke down and reorganized.  It certainly broke down; the reorganization seems to be much more consensual than the original.

I have a standing bet with a friend that the US will collapse by 2016.  We'll see, hey?
The British empire broke down over almost a century, and its reorganization was hardly chaotic or disorganized. The reorganization was motivated by resource limits -- Britain following World War I simply couldn't maintain a world-spanning empire or ensure British hegemony, but alongside resource limits was the fact that the Empire in its prewar form no longer benefited Britain or its colonies. Hitting the resource wall can change the cost-benefit calculus for the entities which maintain and support a state, but just because a state hits that wall does not mean that it will automatically become undesirable.

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The USSR did not collapse because it was on the wrong end of the return-on-complexity curve

I think it did.  Davidson & Rees-Mogg make the case that the birth & development of the USSR and the 20thc rise of the USA were both responses to the larger factors of the 20thc (booming energy inputs, booming population, loss of frontiers).  They liken the collapse of the USSR to "watching one of a pair of fraternal twins die of old age", the USA being the other twin, of course.
Will check it out. Sounds like an interesting theory, though not sure how valid it is. The USSR was in most ways a continuation of the Russian Empire, and its behavior in most ways wasn't very different, at least in regards to the titular ethnic republics which comprised the USSR and to the various client states which bordered it. Of course, the formation of the USSR was a very complex process, driven by economics, population movements, ideology, personal relationships, history and other factors, so no single theory can adequately explain it. Frontier theory certainly doesn't explain the USSR, because Russia in all of its incarnations never had a true "frontier" in the American sense; geographic mobility was almost always quite limited on an individual level, which is why Russia has historically exported people despite a rather low population density.

It is true that the USSR was suffering from economic stagnation, caused by (as always) a number of factors. The system itself was grossly inefficient, but not simply because it was centrally organized; central organization in itself can be beneficial, as evidenced by the  prevalence of highly successful centrally organized firms. In simple terms, the system was set up to lie to itself, and managerial incentives were not geared towards meaningful productivity. There was also major ecological damage caused by unrestrained industrialization, much as occurred in the US during the nineteenth century but on a much greater scale. And there was the infamous demographic wall which Russia hit sometime in the late 70s and which the US has avoided only through immigration. Among other factors. And that economic decline and loss of living standards certainly put pressure on the state, but it did not directly cause the USSR to dissolve.

However, economic decline does not inherently lead to collapse of a state or even a society. North Korea is a classic example of a state with a basket-case economy that has endured seemingly against all odds, and most likely will endure so long as the necessary segments of the armed forces support it. A fair number of third-world states have endured even though they are little more than protection rackets. China faced problems similar to those of the USSR in the 1980s, yet unlike the USSR, China responded with increased economic liberties and greater repression of everything else, with good results for the state and arguably for the people.

The USSR's immediate collapse came about because its components could not maintain or or did not want to maintain the USSR. Gorbachev thought that he could maintain power by limited democratization and rapid shift to a market economy. The result, in retrospect rather predictably, was economic chaos and increased discontent, which in turn put more pressure on the state, including the governments of the various "republics" which comprised the USSR. The people of those republics never were terribly happy with being under de-facto Russian control; their governments were no longer interested in maintaining the USSR because it was not in their interests to do so once the threat of force was gone. And while the military was historically used to maintain control, in 1991 large parts of the military were at odds with the very state they were supposed to maintain. Most importantly, perhaps, the USSR was a Russian creation, and once Russia chose to withdraw from the USSR its fate was sealed. Economic problems were a factor in the collapse of the USSR, but the real cause was that the constituent republics of the USSR were no longer interested in maintaining the USSR, and the center lost the power to do so on its own.

It's a causation issue. Too many states have survived despite being such parasites as to make the USSR a paragon of efficiency, for me to accept simple economic inefficiency as a major determinant of state collapse. 

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So where would rules come from, if there is no government to make them?

Oh, dear, and you're serious, too.

Reread that sentence, and see that you're proposing that "government" is some  -- shall I say supernatural? -- well, at least extra-human agent that dispenses rules ex cathedra to us monkeys of chaos.

Apologies it sounded like that. It was mostly a rhetorical question. A government is a rule-making body controlling the apparatus of the state, which at its heart is a compulsory political organization with a monopoly on the use of force that's meant to solve certain problems. Nothing supernatural about people getting together to make or codify rules, or one person deciding to make rules, or any combination thereof.

When a group gets large enough, they may want to codify (fossilize?) things.
A government does not merely codify rules. A government is a means of achieving an acceptable compromise which everyone can live with. Rules do not emerge from the aether. In a family or a small tribe they may emerge from daily interaction. In a homogeneous society where people generally think and act the same, such as the stereotypical American suburb, there is no need to try and distill consensus for most things because there is no meaningful divergence of opinion. But a complex society cannot rely on informal rulemaking because, as you've so succinctly put it, people generally want to have some sort of predictability in their daily interactions, and a complex society has too many potential interactions for it to be left in the air. Contracts exist because businesses want to regulate their commercial relationships. Laws serve a similar function. A business owner generally wants to know its responsibilities and obligations before making an investment; I doubt many would want to determine what they can and cannot do through social osmosis. And few towns will want to wait for a factory to start dumping waste before taking action.

However, a government doesn't merely make behavioral rules; contrary to what some may think, it is not some nefarious machine that infringes on personal freedoms for the sake of doing so, although it can be used in such a manner. A government is a tool for using the apparatus of the state to solve problems which society wants to solve, and which society perceives are not being solved by existing mechanisms. Common defense is a standard goal of the state, as is protection against random violence. Public pension plans were created in part because large segments of society decided that leaving retired workers to starve was not acceptable. Environmental laws serve to manage common-pool resources such as water and air. On a smaller scale, consider alternate-side parking in cities -- a parking ticket is a much more benign way of forcing someone to move their car so that streets can be cleaned than a baseball bat through the windshield.

A government is in both cases a means of achieving a socially-acceptable decision on how to deal with a problem, even if the decision is to not do anything at all. The existence of codified rules quite obviously does not solve all problems, but it does tell members of a society what is and is not expected of them, and how disputes between them will likely turn out.

In a society where everyone is polite there would be no need for government, because such a society wouldn't have any problems to deal with. But human beings do not behave that way. Laws generally do not create conflict, although badly-written laws can make things worse. The Two property owners in a boundary dispute did not get into that dispute because there was a law on the books about adverse possession. I agree that society creates the rules. But a law can solve a boundary dispute without need for violence, or even the expense of arbitration/litigation.

  But, as you no doubt know, the past does not equal the future.  It's plain & obvious that the existence of rules, even with enforcers, does not guarantee freedom from problems.  It evidently worsens the problem of rule-wrangling.  What have we got to lose from trying a different approach? If we fall back into a state of statehood, what will that be but habit?
We both seem to agree that any realistic human society is going to have rules, and rules are going to be meaningless if they're not somehow enforced. The existence of codified rules isn't going to make problems go away, but neither will the absence of codified rules. You suggested earlier a correlation between the number of rules and amount of conflict, which is only true to a point. Excessive regulation can create conflict, as can laws which senselessly create additional reasons for people to sue one another, but for the most part laws tend to attempt to mediate conflict, rather than encourage it. Lawyers arguing over a point of labor law is a better outcome, at least to me, than workers burning down company offices.

There is also a direct correlation between technological advancement and the number of laws, which has been documented quite extensively, because modern industrial development creates new problems which affect not merely a few individuals but potentially entire regions, and which may be best solved proactively through rulemaking than retroactively through litigation. A society can accept the costs of virtually unlimited individual freedoms, although I doubt that any society will actually agree to do so in practice for long.

As for what we have to lose -- the past sixty years have seen many badly designed states fail because they did not account for human greed, stupidity, and laziness. I do not have a problem with imagining anarchist/libertarian/Marxist/whatever utopias. I have a problem with prescribing them as solutions to real-world problems without accounting for potential problems that state-less society would bring about.

I'd be genuinely interested in what you imagine a stateless society to be like.
Depends on the core assumptions. A functioning anarcho-capitalist society can exist under certain circumstances. But that statement in itself is meaningless. A functioning Marxist society can also exist under certain circumstances, but that doesn't mean the writ of Holy Marx should be used to shape our institutions. I suspect that with the right indoctrination, over several generations it might be possible to create a successful anarchist society where everyone respects one another. On the local level, I don't doubt that individuals can organize along anarchist lines.

More realistically, I suspect that the results of a breakdown of the state apparatus would depend on the country in question. Civil-economic society tends to be fairly well-developed in developed countries, and odds are that one or more states would quickly emerge from the ashes. Failed states such as Somalia present examples of what has so far happened in the developing world when central authority collapsed.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on January 24, 2012, 07:38:28 am
Your post is too damned long and verbose. Pick an issue, state you premise or evidence and then don't beat it to death by over-talking it. Otherwise, I--and a good many others on this forum--will roll our eyes then move on to a post that has less words and more content.

In skimming your post, I ran across this rather odd presumption:

The reason I keep raising definitions is because the an-cap societies I have seen proposed so far have no consensus-building institutions...

And yet, you fail to define consensus and you do not tell us why it is necessary for a society to exist. However, if you mean the prevailing ethos or guiding principles of a society, then I will reply that consensus is an emergent quality of individual human interactions in a group context. No institutions are required. In fact, I think that an institution that tries to "build" a consensus is on a fools errand.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 24, 2012, 08:28:10 am
Lots of interesting stuff.  Our posts are getting longer and more complex.  This is me breaking down, and strenuously resisting interacting with all the interesting bits and just keeping what are most interesting to me.  If I missed one that you are more interested in, please bring it back up and we'll drop the others.

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Contracts exist because businesses want to regulate their commercial relationships. Laws serve a similar function. A business owner generally wants to know its responsibilities and obligations before making an investment; I doubt many would want to determine what they can and cannot do through social osmosis. And few towns will want to wait for a factory to start dumping waste before taking action.

They're asking for the moon.  There are some things you can know in advance, which you put in the contract.  Then life blindsides you.  Few towns may want to wait for a factory to start dumping waste but every last one of them did -- partly because the dumping practice preceded (by centuries or millennia) the awareness of the toxicity.

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Laws generally do not create conflict

Yes, they do -- they don't create violent conflict, but they do open up brand new avenues for disagreement.  Here, I'll show you:

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But a law can solve a boundary dispute without need for violence, or even the expense of arbitration/litigation.

It will also create boundary disputes by creating new boundaries.

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modern industrial development creates new problems

No, it does not.  There is only one problem, ever:  do no harm.

What you want laws for is to spell out, a priori, what that means.  Got kids?  Tell a kid, "Don't touch Mommy's vase."  So he goes and gets a stick, and touches the vase with the stick.  He's not in violation of your law, now, is he?  "Don't touch it with anything."  So maybe he blows air at it, to see if air "counts".  How about jumping up and down so that the floor vibrates, and the table, and the vase?  See what I mean by the existence of a law opening up disagreements?  You can send the kid to his room (because he knew damned good and well what you wanted), but you can't send an entire society to its collective room -- and we all do this, not just fractious three-year-olds.  How about Mr. Silverstein of World Trade Center fame, with his towers insured against acts of terrorism, arguing that the two plane strikes were two separate events so he should be paid double, and the insurance company arguing that it was all one event?  No matter how detailed your contract, you can always always always find some new hair to split.

I say that the more details you have, the more hairs there are to split.  Laws will therefore multiply problems just by defining more and more of them, smaller and smaller.

One law:  do no harm.  Then if I think you have harmed or wronged me, I tell our community that I feel injured or endangered or whatever it is.  I make my case to them, you make yours, and either they tell me I'm being oversensitive, or they tell you you're being a jerk, or they tell us that we're both idiots, or whatever it is.  It's what we do in court anyway, except that we have to pay lawyers through the nose for the use of the specialized language of The Law.

If there were more specific laws in place, you could harm me by doing the "I didn't touch the vase, the stick did" trick and maybe no lawyer would take my case because they could see you weren't technically in violation.

Or maybe they would, seeing an opportunity to soak us both.

Or maybe they would avoid the political hot potato of contradictory laws:  for example, the 5th Amendment says you may not be compelled to provide evidence against yourself.  But the IRS demands such information every year.  But you have the right not to do that.  But the IRS will take your house if you don't. . . .

Here -- IRS vs Constitution -- we have the State itself in violation (one way or another).  But the State controls the courts, and the laws, and the enforcers.  Who or what enforces the law upon the enforcers of the law?  Please when considering crimes, do not omit the archogenic ones -- the ones committed by the law enforcement institution itself.  >Here (http://hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM)< is a bit of a study claiming that, in the 20thc, you were 6 times as likely to be killed by your own government than in a war.  Even if I were less in conflict with my neighbor thanks to laws, now I have a new neighbor, the State, with which I can be in conflict, a neighbor created by law, and one which can kill me with impunity.

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Lawyers arguing over a point of labor law is a better outcome, at least to me, than workers burning down company offices.

You see these as the only two options?  It's either laws and police and chiefs-of-police, or wanton destruction?  Huh.

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I'd be genuinely interested in what you imagine a stateless society to be like.
Depends on the core assumptions. A functioning anarcho-capitalist society can exist under certain circumstances.

Does not answer the question.  I was having trouble with your distinction between human society and government. I want you to either make an equation, society=government, or to tell me what the difference is.  I'm not concerned with the circumstances that you think could give rise to an anarchy, nor to your estimate of its likelihood of arising/existing/surviving.  I just want to know how you would know one if you saw one.  You ride into town and -- ? What do you find?

If you have to drop anything, I'd rather it not be this one.  This is my big interest just now.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on January 24, 2012, 09:22:19 am
Lots of interesting stuff.  Our posts are getting longer and more complex.  This is me breaking down, and strenuously resisting interacting with all the interesting bits and just keeping what are most interesting to me.  If I missed one that you are more interested in, please bring it back up and we'll drop the others.

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Contracts exist because businesses want to regulate their commercial relationships. Laws serve a similar function. A business owner generally wants to know its responsibilities and obligations before making an investment; I doubt many would want to determine what they can and cannot do through social osmosis. And few towns will want to wait for a factory to start dumping waste before taking action.

They're asking for the moon.  There are some things you can know in advance, which you put in the contract.  Then life blindsides you.  Few towns may want to wait for a factory to start dumping waste but every last one of them did -- partly because the dumping practice preceded (by centuries or millennia) the awareness of the toxicity.

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Laws generally do not create conflict

Yes, they do -- they don't create violent conflict, but they do open up brand new avenues for disagreement. 

Good points.  The statement ignores the question of just *where* law comes from.  If, as in a common or customary legal system, law is 'discovered' or derived from the community, then you already have a consensus of sorts, and much less conflict, because most people have already agreed to abide by these laws.  However, if legislators are creating laws, then who knows how they are creating these laws, or how many people will agree to abide by them?  It's a much riskier way of creating law, and will require more effort for enforcement, especially if more people don't agree to these laws.  Legislation creates strife and chaos, not peace and order.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 24, 2012, 11:40:28 am
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if legislators are creating laws, then who knows how they are creating these laws, or how many people will agree to abide by them?  It's a much riskier way of creating law, and will require more effort for enforcement, especially if more people don't agree to these laws.

Elegant.  I'ma keep this one for future quoting.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 24, 2012, 05:36:56 pm
The reason I keep raising definitions is because the an-cap societies I have seen proposed so far have no consensus-building institutions, so their core principles have to be accepted by virtually everyone and defined concretely enough to survive future problems.

Consensus building is only a problem if you want to use violence in controversial ways.  Controversial uses of force should be dangerous.  That is a feature, not a bug.

In an anarchic society, we normally only use violence on muggers, thieves, and robbers and suchlike - more generally to deal with anyone who commits crimes that in California are legally defined as a "first strike" - then we don't need any consensus, since almost everyone agrees with using violence on those that commit a first strike.  The list of first strike crimes is, pretty much, the list of crimes that have been uncontroversially criminal in all societies at all times.

And if we suppress only first strike crimes, then the remainder can be in substantial part be dealt with by reputational penalties.  There is no very pressing need to have efficient use of force against crimes other than first strike crimes.  Inefficient, erratic, and inherently controversial use of force against other offences is acceptable, unlikely to cause problems for most people.

We might behave piratically to outsiders, or outsiders might behave piratically to us, or enough outsiders in a certain group behave piratically to us that we suspect all outsiders in that group, and are tolerant of insiders behaving piratically against members of that outside group, which is the anarchist equivalent of a state of war between groups, but while such situations are possible, and indeed quite likely, we really don't want efficient and safe methods of dealing with such problems.

That an anarchic society has no mechanism for creating a consensus that makes it safe to use violence in inherently controversial ways is a feature, not a bug.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 24, 2012, 05:57:10 pm
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That an anarchic society has no mechanism for creating a consensus that makes it safe to use violence in inherently controversial ways is a feature, not a bug.

!!  The community is smokin' today!
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 24, 2012, 06:12:58 pm
central organization in itself can be beneficial, as evidenced by the  prevalence of highly successful centrally organized firms.

Survivorship bias.  Most firms fail to make central organization on a large scale effective, with the result that most firms fail to grow past a certain size, a size at which bureaucracy, red tape, and dilbertism sets in.

Firms that succeeded in making large scale central organization efficient, due to the leadership of a great man, for example Sam Walton, usually find that the successors of that great man are not so great.

Central organization can work on a large scale, but you need a great man to make it work, and there is a shortage of great men.

And, supposing you find a great man, finding a successor seldom works out so well.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 25, 2012, 12:16:00 am
Your post is too damned long and verbose. Pick an issue, state you premise or evidence and then don't beat it to death by over-talking it. Otherwise, I--and a good many others on this forum--will roll our eyes then move on to a post that has less words and more content.
The members of this forum are not a captive audience, and don't have to read anything they do not feel is worth their time. However, if someone responds to one of my posts, it seems polite to answer in as much detail as possible. I can condense arguments, but then someone will probably complain that I don't provide enough support, so I try to be thorough rather than concise. Will try and condense things, but no promises.

In skimming your post, I ran across this rather odd presumption:

The reason I keep raising definitions is because the an-cap societies I have seen proposed so far have no consensus-building institutions...

And yet, you fail to define consensus and you do not tell us why it is necessary for a society to exist. However, if you mean the prevailing ethos or guiding principles of a society, then I will reply that consensus is an emergent quality of individual human interactions in a group context. No institutions are required. In fact, I think that an institution that tries to "build" a consensus is on a fools errand.
Someone will probably complain about using a non-American source, but the Oxford English Dictionary definition (http://www.oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/39516) seems as good as any. The first entry is perhaps more useful, because to me the essence of consensus isn't agreement, but rather acceptance.

I should have been more specific, and apologize. Consensus-building involves members of a society deciding on a course of action which all of them can live with, at least as far as I define it. In small groups consensus does emerge from human interaction, but that process doesn't work above the tribal level because people only interact with a small number of other individuals in depth. I may "interact" with a cashier in a supermarket once a week, but that interaction has nothing to do with building consensus. Which means that a complex society must have some means of arriving at outcomes which most of its members can accept. Unless that society is made up of individuals who either share a gestalt mind or are so alike as to be indistinguishable.

Even a complex society will probably have "natural" consensus on some guiding principles, but those guiding principles do not exist in a vacuum. They must be applied to real-world problems, else they're little more than empty words. The interaction between general principles and a perceived problem is where most disagreements will arise in any society, and especially in a diverse society, because reasonable minds will differ on what the "best" outcome is for many situations. I raised examples where concepts such as "harm" and "aggression" can be interpreted in multiple reasonable ways in earlier posts, and will not repeat them here, as requested.

A society will need a mechanism for dealing with problems in ways that most can live with. I say "dealing with" because a society can decide to not respond to a problem -- for example, a legislature might decide that the state should not provide access to healthcare; that is a response, and presumably one most in that society can accept even if they do not agree with it. "Problems" in this context might be a dispute between two individuals over the sale of a cow; so long as those individuals accept the result as valid, their problem has been dealt with. Society may not be the best term to use here, but writing "people who matter" in every other sentence is a bit too wordy even for me. Should be obvious that in a country of illiterate dirt farmers ruled over by a nobility, the opinions of the farmers don't matter unless the farmers make themselves matter. Modern society is much more complex than a preindustrial one, the number of relevant individuals is enormous, and in an an-cap society based on individual sovereignty every individual's opinion theoretically matters, much as individual opinion is very important under a democratic government.

Anyways. It does not matter whether disputes are resolved in a courtroom, or at a duel at midnight, or by casting finger bones. That in itself is a consensus-building institution so long as most members of society accept the outcomes as valid; in industrial societies people tend to want some sort of rational result, though. Most societies have considerably more than an institution for resolving disputes -- a legislature is a consensus-building institution for determining how to use the apparatus of the state to deal with a perceived problem, or whether to deal with it at all, for example.

A society can theoretically exist without such mechanisms, but only at a very limited level, because otherwise divergence of opinion will lead to armed conflict. I am not saying that a society must have the entire paraphernalia of the modern state, but that some sort of consensus-building institution will have to exist for it to function as a coherent whole. Else the differing minds of that society will split and the whole thing will fragment because individuals cannot reach outcomes which they find acceptable.

To insert the obligatory Heinlein quote:
Quote from: Podkayne of Mars
Politics is just a name for the way we get things done . . . without fighting. We dicker and compromise and everybody thinks he has received a raw deal, but somehow after a tedious amount of talk we come up with some jury-rigged way to do it without getting anybody's head bashed in. That's politics.

Apologies for the length, but that's about as concise an argument as I can make.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 25, 2012, 12:32:27 am
Lots of interesting stuff.  Our posts are getting longer and more complex.  This is me breaking down, and strenuously resisting interacting with all the interesting bits and just keeping what are most interesting to me.  If I missed one that you are more interested in, please bring it back up and we'll drop the others.
I find more or less everything in this thread interesting, so it's all fair game. If I don't address something, please poke me and I'll get to it.  

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Contracts exist because businesses want to regulate their commercial relationships. Laws serve a similar function. A business owner generally wants to know its responsibilities and obligations before making an investment; I doubt many would want to determine what they can and cannot do through social osmosis. And few towns will want to wait for a factory to start dumping waste before taking action.

They're asking for the moon.  There are some things you can know in advance, which you put in the contract.  Then life blindsides you.  Few towns may want to wait for a factory to start dumping waste but every last one of them did -- partly because the dumping practice preceded (by centuries or millennia) the awareness of the toxicity.
A good contract is proactive, and any good drafting attorney will provide for contingencies and for unexpected events, or else make sure that there are default rules in place which all parties to the contract find acceptable. Similarly, a good law is proactive and provides for rules before things get out of hand. While not all contingencies can be predicted, it's possible to provide for default rules for situations which can be foreseen, which usually are the ones most likely to occur anyways. We might not be able to anticipate all future pollutants, but we can make laws for those we know of, create defaults for future ones, and then make a system for amending the entire law if necessary. Just because we cannot anticipate everything does not mean that we shouldn't think of the future at all. A good system is sufficiently flexible that it can adapt to new circumstances.

Not talking about pre-industrial societies, mind. The toxicity of industrial byproducts was well-known in the nineteenth century. The factory operators simply didn't care, and at the time it was considered an acceptable cost of industrialization.

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Laws generally do not create conflict

Yes, they do -- they don't create violent conflict, but they do open up brand new avenues for disagreement.  Here, I'll show you:

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But a law can solve a boundary dispute without need for violence, or even the expense of arbitration/litigation.

It will also create boundary disputes by creating new boundaries.
A law is a codified rule arrived at through discussion and compromise, and by being codified allows for predictability. Subsequent disagreements which are resolved through litigation/arbitration/whatever increase predictability because individuals can look back on cases similar to theirs and see how their own case will turn out. Obviously any rule is subject to interpretation, but that doesn't create conflict in any meaningful sense any more than would an unwritten rule. To go back to boundary disputes, people will argue over ownership regardless of whether or not the law of adverse possession exists, but that law allows individuals to determine what their rights are without resorting to violence, which is more than I can say for a law that says simply "do no harm".

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modern industrial development creates new problems

No, it does not.  There is only one problem, ever:  do no harm.

What you want laws for is to spell out, a priori, what that means.  Got kids?  Tell a kid, "Don't touch Mommy's vase."  So he goes and gets a stick, and touches the vase with the stick.  He's not in violation of your law, now, is he?  "Don't touch it with anything."  So maybe he blows air at it, to see if air "counts".  How about jumping up and down so that the floor vibrates, and the table, and the vase?  See what I mean by the existence of a law opening up disagreements?  You can send the kid to his room (because he knew damned good and well what you wanted), but you can't send an entire society to its collective room -- and we all do this, not just fractious three-year-olds.  How about Mr. Silverstein of World Trade Center fame, with his towers insured against acts of terrorism, arguing that the two plane strikes were two separate events so he should be paid double, and the insurance company arguing that it was all one event?  No matter how detailed your contract, you can always always always find some new hair to split.

I say that the more details you have, the more hairs there are to split.  Laws will therefore multiply problems just by defining more and more of them, smaller and smaller.

One law:  do no harm.  Then if I think you have harmed or wronged me, I tell our community that I feel injured or endangered or whatever it is.  I make my case to them, you make yours, and either they tell me I'm being oversensitive, or they tell you you're being a jerk, or they tell us that we're both idiots, or whatever it is.  It's what we do in court anyway, except that we have to pay lawyers through the nose for the use of the specialized language of The Law.

If there were more specific laws in place, you could harm me by doing the "I didn't touch the vase, the stick did" trick and maybe no lawyer would take my case because they could see you weren't technically in violation.

Or maybe they would, seeing an opportunity to soak us both.
The things people could do to harm one another increased exponentially with industrialization, as did the scale of the harm. Preindustrial societies have to worry mostly about intentional harms, or at worst relatively minor negligent acts that cause harm; any decent survey of old Anglo-American law shows as much. In comparison, an industrial society has to worry about unintentional harm that can level an entire city. Transport of toxic chemicals, for example, can result in very severe harm on an enormous scale even when the transporter exercises utmost care. Ditto for nuclear energy plants. In such cases, a government-made law can reduce uncertainty by providing rules, such as immunity for chemical transporters who exercise due diligence, and regulation for how such things should be transported to minimize risk to people. A court can do the same thing after the fact, of course, but anticipatory legislation is more useful because it reduces uncertainty and encourages development.

More generally, it's a matter of abstraction.  "Harm" is a deceptively simple concept that in practice is so ambiguous as to be meaningless. It does form the basis for most laws in one way or another, though. Anglo-American tort law does more or less what you suggest should be done in an ideal society -- two parties are brought before a neutral person or panel, present their arguments, and a decision is rendered which both parties are required to accept. However, such a system requires predictability, because a system of dispute resolution which is perceived as arbitrary or biased will not be able to maintain legitimacy; a system whose results are not accepted will not survive for long without assistance. Which means the "community" will still have to follow precedent and at least try and appear objective, same as any modern court. In the long run the system will be no different than the modern judicial system.

A law can be drafted very broadly, of course, same as any rule. That usually is not a good thing. Good laws, like good rules, should be written with a reasonable degree of specificity. For example, a U.S. state whose name escapes my mind at one point enacted a child porn law written so broadly that it arguably criminalized possession of written descriptions of fictional minors engaging in sexual activities. The state attorney general of course argued that his office would never try and prosecute anyone under such a construction. Shortly after the law was passed, the state predictably prosecuted a man because of his dream journal under just such a law.

Same with the vase example. A rule made absurdly specific will not cover all eventualities, so it has to be reasonably broad. "Do not harm" is however even more subject varying interpretations than "do no touch." Yet the rule still has to be specific enough that it doesn't lead to unwanted results. Ditto for contracts. Silverstein and the insurance company might argue over the exact compensation he is entitled to, but the contract still served its purpose of protecting his property. Just because it did not predict all possible outcomes does not mean that a contract is a failure.

Just because we cannot predict everything, does not mean that we should not try and anticipate for eventualities. No method of arranging human relations is going to be perfect. But that doesn't mean we should give up. Yet the system you've suggested, of individuals presenting their case before a presumably impartial body, isn't different from our current system, so not sure we're really in disagreement. I do think such a system would essentially be a copy of our current judicial system, with precedents and odd points of law and considerations of social policy, though.

Or maybe they would avoid the political hot potato of contradictory laws:  for example, the 5th Amendment says you may not be compelled to provide evidence against yourself.  But the IRS demands such information every year.  But you have the right not to do that.  But the IRS will take your house if you don't. . . .
Not going to go into Fifth Amendment interpretation. I am not as familiar with the subject as I'd like. According to Wikipedia, an individual can be required to provide non-incriminating information such as his annual income, but might not have to provide incriminating information such as the source of that income. That more or less matches what I know about income tax law, since the IRC requires individuals to report all "income" however obtained, but not necessarily its sources.

It shows how reasonable minds can differ in interpreting even something as seemingly-simple as "[N]or shall [any person] be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."

Here -- IRS vs Constitution -- we have the State itself in violation (one way or another).  But the State controls the courts, and the laws, and the enforcers.  Who or what enforces the law upon the enforcers of the law?
Depends on the state. In New York an individual can bring an Article 78 proceeding, and probably has other remedies I am sadly not aware of. At the federal level, individuals can sue agents of the state under a number of theories, though their success may vary. In almost all cases there are also administrative procedures to address violations by agents of the state.

In general, a lot depends on the state and its controlling government. Well-constructed state institutions are designed to be limited in power, have mechanisms for limiting the potential for abuse, and allow private citizens to recover damages and punish violations. Separate enforcement agencies, separation of interests and of purpose, and other tools can be used to good effect. I usually speak of the state apparatus as a single whole, but the state is made up of multiple parts. In well-constructed states there is some tension between those parts, which can be harnessed to reduce potential for violations.

Strong civil and economic societies also help restrain the state, especially under a democratic government, because they provide an additional layer of powerful oversight. Citizen-watchdog groups are a prime example.

 
Please when considering crimes, do not omit the archogenic ones -- the ones committed by the law enforcement institution itself.  >Here (http://hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM)< is a bit of a study claiming that, in the 20thc, you were 6 times as likely to be killed by your own government than in a war.  Even if I were less in conflict with my neighbor thanks to laws, now I have a new neighbor, the State, with which I can be in conflict, a neighbor created by law, and one which can kill me with impunity.
A state is neither inherently benign, not inherently evil. It's a tool to be used by those who control it. Some of the links on that site are dead, but it's an interesting resource, and thanks for pointing it out. Am roughly familiar with most of what the site author talks about. I disagree with some of the author's methodology, at least skimming the site, because he seems to lump things together inappropriately to arrive at a large number purely for shock value. A lot of people were killed during the Great Leap Forward from famine, but those deaths should not be lumped together with deaths from the Thirty Years' War, for example.  

The simple answer would be that individuals can also kill a lot of people, and private organizations can be very efficient at doing so. Pogroms in eastern Europe and the Balkans were often carried out with little state support -- the state would merely look the other way and let individuals do what they would. The African slave trade is another example, and one where the state actually moved in to ban the practice despite opposition from individuals.

The best answer I can provide in this space is a continuation of my response above to your question of who enforces laws against the state. The apparatus of the state is controlled by a government. The best government is built in such a way that mass murder against its own citizens is made virtually impossible. I say "virtually" because with human beings anything is theoretically possible. True democracy helps; separation of powers horizontally between branches and institutions and vertically between federal, state and municipal levels helps even more. Enumeration of powers, limitation of authority, and other tools can be used to restrict the government's ability to abuse the power of the state. The electoral system's interaction with the social, economic, political, ethnic, geographic and religious divisions within a country is very important, and a good electoral system must account for the composition of the electorate and its various interests.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution were very much concerned with how to make an effective government that would neither become a vehicle for mob rule, nor a dictatorship that would abuse its powers. They mostly succeeded. A state isn't doomed to perpetuate crimes against its own citizens.

It is also incorrect to infer that states do not protect individuals from violence merely because in the aggregate more have died from the actions of the state than from actions of individuals. There are numerous examples of "stateless" societies where the risk of violent death is quite high.

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Lawyers arguing over a point of labor law is a better outcome, at least to me, than workers burning down company offices.

You see these as the only two options?  It's either laws and police and chiefs-of-police, or wanton destruction?  Huh.
Sort of. Without a means of arriving at a peaceful resolution to their conflict, the only remaining alternative to the parties involved is force. If an arbitrator reaches a decision which becomes precedent, and can enforce his decision against an individual, he is not far removed from being an agent of a real-life government, even if enforcement is merely a writ "allowing" the winner of a dispute to use force. I prefer a system where disputes can be handled peacefully.

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I'd be genuinely interested in what you imagine a stateless society to be like.
Depends on the core assumptions. A functioning anarcho-capitalist society can exist under certain circumstances.

Does not answer the question.  I was having trouble with your distinction between human society and government. I want you to either make an equation, society=government, or to tell me what the difference is.  I'm not concerned with the circumstances that you think could give rise to an anarchy, nor to your estimate of its likelihood of arising/existing/surviving.  I just want to know how you would know one if you saw one.  You ride into town and -- ? What do you find?

If you have to drop anything, I'd rather it not be this one.  This is my big interest just now.
A society in that sentence is a group of people who interact with one another on a fairly regular basis. That's about as narrow a definition as I can come up with. A government is, broadly, a means of achieving a socially-acceptable solution to problems; it's also the control mechanism for the apparatus of the state.

As far as I understand it, the defining characteristic of an anarchist society is the absence of a state apparatus and the government which would control it. The results of such a state of affairs will vary depending on assumptions. Not sure if that's the answer you're looking for. I won't go into what I think such a society could look like, because that doesn't seem to be what you're looking for, and because it'd be an entirely subjective answer dependent on too many variables.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on January 25, 2012, 01:35:08 am
The reason I keep raising definitions is because the an-cap societies I have seen proposed so far have no consensus-building institutions, so their core principles have to be accepted by virtually everyone and defined concretely enough to survive future problems.

We might behave piratically to outsiders, or outsiders might behave piratically to us, or enough outsiders in a certain group behave piratically to us that we suspect all outsiders in that group, and are tolerant of insiders behaving piratically against members of that outside group, which is the anarchist equivalent of a state of war between groups, but while such situations are possible, and indeed quite likely, we really don't want efficient and safe methods of dealing with such problems.

That an anarchic society has no mechanism for creating a consensus that makes it safe to use violence in inherently controversial ways is a feature, not a bug.
It's true that a society can accept the above as the cost of near-absolute freedom. The results however might be rather unpleasant in practice, so not sure how many people would actually find the costs acceptable. People have always banded together for protection, in large part because people have historically destroyed or absorbed weaker neighbors, and have perpetrated all sorts of cruelties on one another for no objectively good reason. Freedom is pointless if someone with a bigger stick can take it away.

Lots of interesting stuff.  Our posts are getting longer and more complex.  This is me breaking down, and strenuously resisting interacting with all the interesting bits and just keeping what are most interesting to me.  If I missed one that you are more interested in, please bring it back up and we'll drop the others.

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Contracts exist because businesses want to regulate their commercial relationships. Laws serve a similar function. A business owner generally wants to know its responsibilities and obligations before making an investment; I doubt many would want to determine what they can and cannot do through social osmosis. And few towns will want to wait for a factory to start dumping waste before taking action.

They're asking for the moon.  There are some things you can know in advance, which you put in the contract.  Then life blindsides you.  Few towns may want to wait for a factory to start dumping waste but every last one of them did -- partly because the dumping practice preceded (by centuries or millennia) the awareness of the toxicity.

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Laws generally do not create conflict

Yes, they do -- they don't create violent conflict, but they do open up brand new avenues for disagreement. 

Good points.  The statement ignores the question of just *where* law comes from.  If, as in a common or customary legal system, law is 'discovered' or derived from the community, then you already have a consensus of sorts, and much less conflict, because most people have already agreed to abide by these laws.  However, if legislators are creating laws, then who knows how they are creating these laws, or how many people will agree to abide by them?  It's a much riskier way of creating law, and will require more effort for enforcement, especially if more people don't agree to these laws.  Legislation creates strife and chaos, not peace and order.
The decisions made by elected officials represent social consensus as much as would a direct poll of the electorate. Legislatures are actually better at determining social consensus because they can sit down and work things out; an electorate of even a few thousand people would have a much difficult time reaching an outcome that most can live with, especially for a diverse population. Elected officials can of course be influenced by bribes and such, but so can an arbitrator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Arbitration_Forum#Public_Citizen_study) in an an-cap society. Strong civil institutions can limit the impact of bribes and such, because an elected official in a true democracy depends on the favor of his constituents for survival no matter how many millions in campaign contributions he may receive. An an-cap society . . . does not generally have as many mechanisms for ensuring that dispute resolution is fair, and it should not be hard to imagine a situation where arbitrators are little more than rubber stamps for corporations, or where "private security" is a polite euphemism for gang-like protection rackets.

As for agreeing to abide by the laws, that is where consensus-building comes in. We as individuals do not have to like a piece of legislation, so long as it is acceptable. I might not like the Citizens United decision, but I will abide by it; some corporations may not like legislation restricting their ability to donate funds, but they'll mostly abide by the law and seek to subvert it through legal means. Of course, bad or arbitrary legislation will create problems, but I never argued that the current system is perfect.

Which brings me to the second point: a government doesn't merely exist to pass negative legislation which prohibits certain behavior. A government also uses the apparatus of the state to solve problems which the market and private organizations cannot solve. All transportation is subsidized to some degree through tax-paid funds and use of eminent domain, which is a good thing because the benefits of a good transportation network are enormous but building one is prohibitively expensive and unprofitable.  Common defense is a traditional problem which private entities cannot easily solve, for what should be obvious reasons. It takes one warmonger to start a war, and he won't bother to count the ADT signs before carpet-bombing a city, so all those private insurance companies and security firms an an-cap society will rely on for defense will either have to defend all the free-riders in that city or, more likely, take their money and run. Social Security was implemented to reduce the burden on individuals of supporting retirees.

As I've said before, the state is a problem-solving institution which, harnessed to a well-constructed democratic government is able to deal with problems which cannot be handled through other means in a way people find acceptable. A real-life an-cap society therefore would have to either deal with problems the state currently handles, or accept them as costs of freedom.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 25, 2012, 09:29:32 am
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It is also incorrect to infer that states do not protect individuals from violence merely because in the aggregate more have died from the actions of the state than from actions of individuals. There are numerous examples of "stateless" societies where the risk of violent death is quite high.

States obviously do not protect individuals from violence, because they do in fact injure and kill (including outside the laws that allow them to) their members.  That stateless societies also involve the risk of violent death does not mean that archogenic violent death does not occur!

What death-by-state-agents means is that the claim that states do protect individuals from violence is false.  At best, states protect individuals from harm inflicted by unauthorized individuals. 

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It's true that a society can accept the above as the cost of near-absolute freedom. The results however might be rather unpleasant in practice, so not sure how many people would actually find the costs acceptable....Freedom is pointless if someone with a bigger stick can take it away.

It's true that a society can accept government as the cost of protection. The results however have been seen to be unpleasant in practice.  Security is meaningless if someone with a badge and an office can imprison and/or kill me and/or take my stuff on mere suspicion, or for "the greater good" (eminent domain?), or for no reason at all.

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Without a means of arriving at a peaceful resolution to their conflict, the only remaining alternative to the parties involved is force.

True.  You seem to say, though, that a government, with lots of very specific laws and, of course, archons and policemen, is THE means of peaceful resolution, and that an anarchy has no access to peaceful resolution, as in:

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law allows individuals to determine what their rights are without resorting to violence (emphasis in the original)

And yet I settle disputes with neighbors all the time without either law or violence.  My goats got out and destroyed a couple of my neighbor's trees.  I replaced them, without either of us invoking cops or property law or anything beyond valuing each other's good will.  He could so easily have called Animal Control or something.  And it's not like we're close friends, either.

Now, I concede that that won't always happen; humans can be such jerks.  You want laws and enforcers to protect yourself from jerks.  I get that.  I want a lack of laws and enforcers to protect myself from the jerks who get badges and uniforms and titles.  If you think jerkishness goes away with a badge and uniform, you are believing in magic.  If badged uniformed agents of the state behave better than the rest of us, then give us all badges, uniforms and official titles.  If it does not -- then your solution to human-on-human violence comes down to "give some of us jerks special power over the rest of us".  Wow.

In an anarchy, I can defend myself against ALL the jerks (insofar as my ability allows).  Under government, if I resist the enforcers even when they are breaking the law, even though I am technically within my rights, I am awfully likely to be found guilty of the crime of "resisting arrest".  The state is in a position to find itself innocent, whether the ordinary people agree that it is or not.

Show me why violence is the ONLY resource the members of an anarchic community have.

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The decisions made by elected officials represent social consensus as much as would a direct poll of the electorate.

!!!  What planet are you from?  In 2008, the year of the bailouts, calls to congresscritters were running, according to some pundits, 300-to-1 AGAINST.  Other pundits joked, "The calls are split 50-50:  50% 'no' and 50% 'hell no'!"  And yet the bailouts passed.   Just for one example.

We make jokes like, "How can you tell when a politician is lying?  His lips are moving!"  That's funny because it's so close to true.  Which makes your statement above desperately disingenuous.  I guess you really do believe in the magic that holding office removes jerkishness.

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A law is a codified rule ... and by being codified allows for predictability.

The one thing we can predict is that someone, somewhere, some time, will dispute what it means.  Probably before the ink is dry.

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arrived at through discussion and compromise

Q: Why does the discussion and compromise have to happen in advance? 
Q: There are many, many laws that never achieved public discussion -- I certainly never had any say in them, and yet I am expected to obey them even when I think they are positively harmful to me.  As I never in any practical sense consented to that contract, why should I be held to it?

A law should be a codified rule arrived at through discussion and compromise.  And, at first, the laws may well be that.  They aren't now.  A codified system will be co-opted by psychopaths (simply because psychopaths, by definition, are willing to do absolutely anything to get what they want, and normals, with consciences, aren't).  At least, in an anarchy, there isn't a "system" to be co-opted.

>Here is a case where doing away with laws reduces harm. (http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,448747,00.html)<  Call it an experiment in anarchy.  And it seems to be working.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on January 25, 2012, 10:37:38 am
The decisions made by elected officials represent social consensus as much as would a direct poll of the electorate. Legislatures are actually better at determining social consensus because they can sit down and work things out; an electorate of even a few thousand people would have a much difficult time reaching an outcome that most can live with, especially for a diverse population. Elected officials can of course be influenced by bribes and such, but so can an arbitrator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Arbitration_Forum#Public_Citizen_study) in an an-cap society. Strong civil institutions can limit the impact of bribes and such, because an elected official in a true democracy depends on the favor of his constituents for survival no matter how many millions in campaign contributions he may receive. An an-cap society . . . does not generally have as many mechanisms for ensuring that dispute resolution is fair, and it should not be hard to imagine a situation where arbitrators are little more than rubber stamps for corporations, or where "private security" is a polite euphemism for gang-like protection rackets.

A true democracy would have no elected officials!  Everyone would be a legislator and would vote directly on the issues.  Instead, we have something more akin to a representative democracy, where people vote for the officials who then vote on the issues.  And there are ever so many issues, and usually only two or three candidates running for any particular office.  So you agree with candidate A about 70% of the time, and candidate B about 40% of the time.  Naturally, you vote for candidate A, and luckily, a majority of your fellow voters agree, and A becomes a Congressman. 70% of the time, he votes the way you want on the issues, 30% of the time, he doesn't.  A big issue comes up, like SOPA, for example, and he votes contrary to your wishes, even though you wrote him or called him up and told him your preferences.  Okay, he's up for re-election in, say, a year after this big vote took place.  You still only agree with candidate B 40% of the time--are you really going to vote for B because A voted against your wishes on that one big issue?  A still goes 70% your way.  And regardless of how you vote, your fellow voters also have a vote.

So where in all this electoral nonsense does democratic consensus and accountability come into it?  I didn't even bother to worry about corruption and bribes, just the way the system is *designed* to work.  With private arbitration, there are multiple arbiters, and you don't have to wait until election time to switch if one seems to be unduly influenced.

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As for agreeing to abide by the laws, that is where consensus-building comes in. We as individuals do not have to like a piece of legislation, so long as it is acceptable. I might not like the Citizens United decision, but I will abide by it; some corporations may not like legislation restricting their ability to donate funds, but they'll mostly abide by the law and seek to subvert it through legal means. Of course, bad or arbitrary legislation will create problems, but I never argued that the current system is perfect.
And the corporations have a lot more influence on legislators than you do.  If they don't like legislation, there's a LOT more they can do to get it changed than you can, and that's assuming they weren't already in there in the first place helping to create the initial legislation.

And, after all, who decides exactly what constitutes a problem that government needs to solve, and who writes the legislation that gets voted on?

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Which brings me to the second point: a government doesn't merely exist to pass negative legislation which prohibits certain behavior. A government also uses the apparatus of the state to solve problems which the market and private organizations cannot solve. All transportation is subsidized to some degree through tax-paid funds and use of eminent domain, which is a good thing because the benefits of a good transportation network are enormous but building one is prohibitively expensive and unprofitable.  Common defense is a traditional problem which private entities cannot easily solve, for what should be obvious reasons. It takes one warmonger to start a war, and he won't bother to count the ADT signs before carpet-bombing a city, so all those private insurance companies and security firms an an-cap society will rely on for defense will either have to defend all the free-riders in that city or, more likely, take their money and run. Social Security was implemented to reduce the burden on individuals of supporting retirees.
Many issues lumped into this.  Suffice it to say that Social Security is doing a lousy job of supporting retirees, especially with central-bank controlled inflation. Transportation has not been solved by government, but unnecessarily complicated.  I've covered transportation in detail in other posts, but transportation is a service, and as such, people will get what they pay for.  Eminent domain is too easily abused, and is unnecessary anyway, assuming city zoning and city planning and other regulations do not interfere in the land market, and how people arrange their living and working situations.  But since they do, it should be obvious that government is creating the problems that it then subsequently tries to solve, not solving problems that the market cannot handle.
Wars are started and fought by governments.  That one warmonger can only start a war if he has dictatorial control over a governmental power structure.  Otherwise, he's just some idiot who doesn't get along with other people very well.

Quote
As I've said before, the state is a problem-solving institution which, harnessed to a well-constructed democratic government is able to deal with problems which cannot be handled through other means in a way people find acceptable. A real-life an-cap society therefore would have to either deal with problems the state currently handles, or accept them as costs of freedom.
As indicated above, many problems government "solves" are problems that government created in the first place.  Freedom entails responsibilities, but it affords more opportunities for problem-solving over this complicated governmental structure that *requires* a power structure that can legally violate peoples' rights, and ends up having unintended consequences, and the ever-present threat of tyranny looming over its citizens.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 25, 2012, 01:24:10 pm
Quote from: Homer2101 link=topic=668.msg18152#msg18152
Consensus-building involves members of a society deciding on a course of action which all of them can live with, at least as far as I define it.

The market solution is that some people do one thing and some people do another.  If, for example, the state provides "free" lunches, they will theoretically provide the same lunch to everyone, and we have to have "consensus".  Observe that in practice in those states where the state provides the food, in order to ensure that everyone has enough to eat, in actual practice rather than equal food, all those with the least power starve, because in practice, consensus can only work in small groups no larger than a large family.

The state is not mechanism of consensus, but of violence.  It generally originates in a bandit who is so successful that he sticks around, for example William the conqueror, a bandit who is so successful that people accept that he has the right to use violence in ways that others may not.

According to official history, the state then got better and better.  Supposedly government is good for you, and more government is better for you, but arguably it got worse and worse, as more and more parasitic bureaucratic vermin multiplied, the state got more and more expensive and less and less efficient and less and less effective.

Politicians are not a consensus building apparatus - observe how they foster division and conflict, dividing the people against each other.  They are some of the state's public relations officers.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on January 25, 2012, 07:33:23 pm
That an anarchic society has no mechanism for creating a consensus that makes it safe to use violence in inherently controversial ways is a feature, not a bug.

It's true that a society can accept the above as the cost of near-absolute freedom. The results however might be rather unpleasant in practice, so not sure how many people would actually find the costs acceptable. People have always banded together for protection

In an anarchic society, people will often choose to band together for protection - but each will individually choose who to band with, and whether to band or not.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Tucci78 on January 27, 2012, 09:12:34 am
Aaand the troll is back. . .

Back, and asking the same questions that have been asked and answered before. 

Maybe it's selective amnesia...

Not really a problem, is it?  These kinds of repetition keep the fundamental philosophical issues in play. 

I'm always mindful of the "beer money" character of science fiction mentioned by writer Poul Anderson a few decades ago, in which he emphasized that the cost of an average book was about the same as that of a quantity of beer, and it was incumbent upon the writer to provide the reader with at least as much entertainment value as the reader might've gotten from putting his spending power into the rental of said quantity of suds.

Now, the proprietors of this Web site aren't demanding monetary payment of the readers visiting this virtual locus.  Nonetheless, they're conscientious about providing the requisite entertainment value.  So what are they "receiving" in compensation for their entertaining efforts?

The way I see it, nothing more - or less - than the conscious consideration of the anarcocapitalist (AnCap) philosophy.

That being the case, the sorts of opportunities for explicit discussion of AnCap sociopolitical systems provided by - for example - this troll are pretty much precisely what this site's proprietors are trying to develop and exploit.

No matter how repetitious these discussions might seem to the regulars, they're didactic as all hell, and can be of great value to newcomers directed to this site by one means or another.

Much as I dislike the overworn expression "teachable moment," I've got to admit that as a preceptor myself I've used 'em to the hilt whenever I've come across them.

Why should they not be so exploited here? 

Bless the trolls.  Nothing helps set the lesson in the student's memory like an egregiously bad example.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on January 27, 2012, 10:20:09 am
Now, the proprietors of this Web site aren't demanding monetary payment of the readers visiting this virtual locus.... So what are they "receiving" in compensation for their entertaining efforts?

The way I see it, nothing more - or less - than the conscious consideration of the anarcocapitalist (AnCap) philosophy.

Well yeah, but even more, we would really like to get popular and sell a lot of books; maybe get a movie deal and make mucha plata.  ;D
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Bob G on January 28, 2012, 08:10:58 am
Aaand the troll is back. . .


Not really a problem, is it?  These kinds of repetition keep the fundamental philosophical issues in play . . . the sorts of opportunities for explicit discussion of AnCap sociopolitical systems provided by - for example - this troll are pretty much precisely what this site's proprietors are trying to develop and exploit . . .

Bless the trolls.  Nothing helps set the lesson in the student's memory like an egregiously bad example.

First, there's a big difference between a genuine 'newbie' who may be unfamiliar with the concepts and a troll who either can not or will not accept the premises raised.

A polite newbie will try to scan FAQs (hint to webmaster(s)) or previous threads to see if hisher questions have already been addressed. It's possible they have not, or heshe couldn't find answers in the jumble.

I for one am willing to respond, with luck being able to 'point' the questioner to previous threads and/or outside references.

A troll raises the same objections again and again (and again and again and . . .), here usually couched in or reducible to the idea that, "If we didn't have Government to do 'X', it wouldn't get done." This either demonstrates the troll's inability or unwillingness to allow that there may be other paths to a free and just society than by the one we currently have, or hisher contempt for the other folk on the forum in that heshe perceives the others as stupid for not accepting hisher worldview, or hisher childish glee in 'stirring the pot' for entertainment's sake.

In any case, I have neither the time nor the patience to deal with them.

Newbies are cool, and welcome. Screw the trolls.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on January 28, 2012, 11:05:08 am
First, there's a big difference between a genuine 'newbie' who may be unfamiliar with the concepts and a troll who either can not or will not accept the premises raised.

I agree with your point about newbies and trolls, but I have an English usage nit to pick about this:

A polite newbie will try to scan FAQs (hint to webmaster(s)) or previous threads to see if hisher questions have already been addressed. It's possible they have not, or heshe couldn't find answers in the jumble.

I loathe politically correct neologism such as hisher, heshe, s/he, etc. This "problem" was solved half a millennium ago:

Long before the use of generic he was condemned as sexist, the pronouns they, their, and them were used in educated speech and in all but the most formal writing to refer to indefinite pronouns and to singular nouns of general personal reference, probably because such nouns are often not felt to be exclusively singular: If anyone calls, tell them I'll be back at six. Everyone began looking for their books at once. Such use is not a recent development, nor is it a mark of ignorance. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/they

See also Usage section at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/They

And don't even get me started about Ms....
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on January 30, 2012, 02:05:31 pm
A troll raises the same objections again and again (and again and again and . . .), here usually couched in or reducible to the idea that, "If we didn't have Government to do 'X', it wouldn't get done." This either demonstrates the troll's inability or unwillingness to allow that there may be other paths to a free and just society than by the one we currently have, or hisher contempt for the other folk on the forum in that heshe perceives the others as stupid for not accepting hisher worldview, or hisher childish glee in 'stirring the pot' for entertainment's sake.

In my experience this is a sign that those making such arguments hold their differing opinion for reasons other than those which they argue.  Thus, one can defeat their arguments effectively and repeatedly and make no headway, since the real reason(s) are kept well-hidden.  In some cases the actual reason(s) for the position are not consciously known by those who are arguing (appearing to them as a generalized fear or discomfort), and in others it is because they doubt the truth of those reasons and/or they have invested their own sense of personhood or self worth in those ideas, and counters to those ideas are personally wounding.

For example, a government employee might give arguments of the form that "'X' wouldn't get done", when the real reason is that "without government, I will be unemployed, and have to 'start over'".

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on January 30, 2012, 05:31:16 pm
Quote
a government employee

Or anyone who feeds at the taxman's trough:  arms merchants, state-run-medical beneficiaries, bankers and other businessmen who get bailouts, and so on.  Those whose de facto day care is government-run school.  All them.

Speaking as a gov't employee myself, though, I'd (much!) rather become unemployed and start over in an anarchy, than have the current system continue even if it never got any worse than it is.  I can't think of any way I could cause the change (at least, nothing more direct than participating in an education like this forum), so I won't -- and if I knew of any way to prevent the change, I wouldn't.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Eonknight on February 01, 2012, 03:48:58 pm
Hi all.

I've been reading the comic and following the forums for a while now, and I find all this discussion very interesting. Now I'm not nearly as knowledgeable as I'd like on this subject, so please bear with me.

First, let me be the devil's advocate for a moment here... I find that some version of the statement that "existing government is inefficient" is recurrent in making the case for AnCap, but from what I know, and to paraphrase another member of this forum, this is a feature (albeit costly) of the democratic system of government, not a bug: the system has been designed to be inefficient to prevent abuse of power.
Moreover:

Quote
Firms that succeeded in making large scale central organization efficient, due to the leadership of a great man, for example Sam Walton, usually find that the successors of that great man are not so great.

Central organization can work on a large scale, but you need a great man to make it work, and there is a shortage of great men.

And, supposing you find a great man, finding a successor seldom works out so well.

I would respond that so far, in EFT, all the dicey situations have been handled by exceptional characters: Reggie, Babette, Libby, Bert and Ernie, Ed Turner et al., people that are leaders in their own right. So it seems the same can be said of AnCap. Big problems, regardless of the system used to address them, will always call for great men. Hence, I don't consider these valid arguments against government...

Second, the statement that the existing government is "violent" also doesn't sit too well with me. Let me explain: I do understand the context and what is meant by this statement, and I've always believed strongly that because someone else has it worse doesn't mean that I can't have it better. But please consider this: for all it's shortcomings (and boy, does it have some!), this system is what allows us, men, women and children alike, to be relatively safe. The possibility of us having our Darfour or Somalia moment is remote, to say the least. We (North Americans, especially) have never been so prosperous as a society as we are now, historically, despite the recent downturn. While I did suffer some minor, government-sanctioned abuse, I presently consider it the price I pay for relative safety and prosperity - in practice. Dealing in speculation - in this case "we would be even more safe/prosperous/technically advanced if AnCap had been implemented" is moot, as we will never have confirmation.

Lastly, as I believe has been said before, like socialism before it, AnCap sounds very good in theory but has a significant potential to go wrong. However, the problem I see is not so much with the system itself, but with the transition to such a system from our present situation. It goes without saying that the existing "powers that be" won't go down quietly, but it goes beyond that. In my opinion, the evolution of the so-called "western" society has made it such that people are now, more than ever, centered on their own well-being, far ahead of any sense of collectivity. While AnCap is centered on the individual, its birth will have to be brought about by people who put collective well-being before their own (at least to some degree). I can hardly see this change being brought about from the top down, and any attempt to bring it about from the bottom will probably be met with considerable resistance.

So while I welcome any attempt to improve our condition, and while AnCap seems promising, how do we get there?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on February 01, 2012, 05:31:53 pm
Quote
all the dicey situations have been handled by exceptional characters

Maybe.  Maybe they become great in the handling.  Thing about a state, however, is that you NEED a great man, to stand between you and the psychopaths that will ineluctably coopt the power.  An AnCap society doesn't have a power nexus to be coopted.

Quote
be relatively safe

You, like others before you, discount archogenic crime (crime committed by the state, either by, say, policemen with delusions of grandeur, or by the state for the statecronies).  I maintain that the level of safety or danger is independent of the political system in place (we're all humans here, whether we have badges & titles or not), with the qualifier that, under government, I have no defense against archogenic crime and under AnCap I may defend myself against whomever I can.

Quote
I presently consider it the price I pay for relative safety

The "safety" of not defining "minor, government-sanctioned abuse" as "abuse, period".

Quote
like socialism before it, AnCap sounds very good in theory but has a significant potential to go wrong.

You imply that a representative republic ("We (North Americans, especially)") does not have a significant potential to go wrong.  I see not only that it has such potential, but that it already has gone wrong.  No society goes from being free to being a police state in one move, so you have the boil-the-frog problem.  As of today, I guess you don't think the water in the pot is all that hot, and apparently don't think it can reach a boil.  How bad does it have to get before you say Oops?  Even I see that the current system could be lots worse (I'm glad I wasn't born in Gaza) but that doesn't make me complacent about what we've got.

However, this
Quote
So while I welcome any attempt to improve our condition, and while AnCap seems promising, how do we get there?
is an interesting question.  I start with education:  anarchy =! chaos and destruction, for one.  And I think that, absent being able to escape from Terra, the way forward is very much from the bottom up.  So what if there is resistance at the top?  What can 1% do when 99% go a different way?  What happened to the Brits in India?  Which reminds me -- how many people died in India's emancipation from Britain, and how many do you think would have died if they'd tried to fight their way free?  What will happen when we engage in peaceful noncooperation?

Almost none of my day-to-day activities have anything to do with government in any form; nearly everything I do is just plain ol' human gettin' along.  When more of us realize that "government" really only plays a vanishingly small part in life (and that mostly negative -- forget abuse, I just mean here taking money from us to do what we'd rather not have done anyway), we can walk away from it, like a Dumbo's Feather we no longer need in order to fly.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on February 01, 2012, 07:32:00 pm
First, there's a big difference between a genuine 'newbie' who may be unfamiliar with the concepts and a troll who either can not or will not accept the premises raised.

I agree with your point about newbies and trolls, but I have an English usage nit to pick about this:

A polite newbie will try to scan FAQs (hint to webmaster(s)) or previous threads to see if hisher questions have already been addressed. It's possible they have not, or heshe couldn't find answers in the jumble.

I loathe politically correct neologism such as hisher, heshe, s/he, etc. This "problem" was solved half a millennium ago:

Long before the use of generic he was condemned as sexist, the pronouns they, their, and them were used in educated speech and in all but the most formal writing to refer to indefinite pronouns and to singular nouns of general personal reference, probably because such nouns are often not felt to be exclusively singular: If anyone calls, tell them I'll be back at six. Everyone began looking for their books at once. Such use is not a recent development, nor is it a mark of ignorance. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/they

See also Usage section at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/They

And don't even get me started about Ms....
The English language is not a monolithic construct. There is no "Academy of the English Language" to derive or formulate rules, definitions and usages that all English speakers must thereafter follow or be labeled ignorant. The modern English language has several valid forms for the singular gender-neutral pronoun, and their acceptability depends in large part on personal preference and target audience. I find constructs such as "s/he" awkward, and using "they" alongside singular nouns feels uncomfortable, so most times I use "he" for the sake of simplicity. Others have their own preferences, and they are no more wrong than you and I in the grand scheme of things.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on February 01, 2012, 07:42:02 pm
First, let me be the devil's advocate for a moment here... I find that some version of the statement that "existing government is inefficient" is recurrent in making the case for AnCap, but from what I know, and to paraphrase another member of this forum, this is a feature (albeit costly) of the democratic system of government, not a bug: the system has been designed to be inefficient to prevent abuse of power.

It seems perfectly efficient at abusing power.  Consider Kelo v. City of New London, where the supreme court ruled that the government could confiscate property from unfavored people and give it to more favored people if they kind of vaguely felt it was all for the greater good, without any need for such obstructive inconveniences as a coherent and sound business plan for actually using the property.

Similarly, police can kick down your door, shoot your dog, and if you object arrest you for obstructing police, and if it should turn out that their warrant was issued in error and they got the wrong address for the wrong warrant, you are still in jail for failure to adequately cooperate and for contempt of cop.  I see no inefficiency in the abuse of power whatsoever.

However, government seems to be quite inefficient at doing the stuff it is supposed to do, for example $600 toilet seats, issuing SSI pensions to "totally and permanently disabled people" who spend their time doing extreme sports in Hawaii.

Regulations tend to be tightened at very frequent intervals by a very small amount each time, and every time they are changed, you cannot just comply and say you are complying, you also have to hire expensive "consultants" who have the right political connections to prepare a report saying that you are complying.  There is a small army of "consultants" who are connected to the people issuing the regulations, and every time things are tightened, you have to pay off this little army of well connected "consultants".  Supposedly the US is transparent, and other regimes are corrupt, but this looks mighty corrupt to me.  It is absurd that the US, (where you have this army of regulatory "consultants" feeding bribe money into the bureaucracy) gets a better transparency rating than Singapore (where any such influence peddling "consultant" would be flogged).

Quote
Firms that succeeded in making large scale central organization efficient, due to the leadership of a great man, for example Sam Walton, usually find that the successors of that great man are not so great.

Central organization can work on a large scale, but you need a great man to make it work, and there is a shortage of great men.

And, supposing you find a great man, finding a successor seldom works out so well.

I would respond that so far, in EFT, all the dicey situations have been handled by exceptional characters: Reggie, Babette, Libby, Bert and Ernie, Ed Turner et al., people that are leaders in their own right. So it seems the same can be said of AnCap.

None of them are attempting to run an entire society.  Their problems are more human sized.  Only one leader is running a large business.  The one that is running a large business is depicted as a great man, but no other businesses mentioned in the story are all that large.  Except for the large business, there is no substantial bureaucracy implied or needed.

Big problems, regardless of the system used to address them, will always call for great men.

Indeed, but having a big intrusive government makes every problem big, for it has to be solved from the top down for everyone, and everyone has to submit to the solution, whereas in an anarcho capitalist society, every problem is small, because everyone has to solve their own problems for themselves.

Second, the statement that the existing government is "violent" also doesn't sit too well with me. Let me explain: I do understand the context and what is meant by this statement, and I've always believed strongly that because someone else has it worse doesn't mean that I can't have it better. But please consider this: for all it's shortcomings (and boy, does it have some!), this system is what allows us, men, women and children alike, to be relatively safe.

Every middle class person is committing about one felony a month.  If you are a middle class person with investments and doing business, probably three felonies a day.  The fact that the government has so many laws and regulations that it has no hope of enforcing them all is not the kind of safety that makes me sleep easy.

Further, governments make everyone "safe", only so long as there is no internal or external challenge to governmental power.  From time to time, governments necessarily engage in wars, thereby exposing their subjects to enormous danger.  Since the government of the USA supposedly represents everyone in the USA, people who have quarrels with the US government are apt to target anyone and everyone in the USA, and just about everyone in the world is likely, sooner or later, to have some quarrel with the US government.

The possibility of us having our Darfour or Somalia moment is remote

The War between the States killed six hundred and twenty thousand out of a population of twenty seven million, nearly one male in twenty, which is in the same league as Darfur, and it looks to me that another great internal conflict is coming up fast.  Democracy is the same bad state is it was in the Roman Republic around seventy BC, and the arguments over what follows democracy are likely to get out of hand.

We (North Americans, especially) have never been so prosperous as a society as we are now, historically, despite the recent downturn.

Right now the government is buying peace and tranquility and the superficial simulation of prosperity with its supposedly bottomless no limit credit card.  When the no limit card finally hits its limit, chances are that peace and tranquility will not continue.

With less creative statistics, looks like we were most prosperous some time around 1994-2000.  See Shadowstats.com (http://Shadowstats.com)   Some aspects of science and technology have been in decline since 1972-1974.  The tallest buildings were completed back then, the coolest cars were built back then, the last man left the moon back then.  Today, rather more aspects of science and technology are in visible decline.  Sometimes, to get the latest and best medical technology, you have to leave the USA and do some medical tourism.  Science is increasingly just politics proclaimed with priestly authority, for example animal fats, anthropogenic global warming.  When you try to get the data on which these holy proclamations are based, they will not tell you.  Official truth replaces truth by replication.  The system is increasingly dysfunctional.  Crisis approaches as the money runs out.  Democracy becomes advance auctions of stolen goods, as an increasingly degenerate electorate of fatherless children on welfare votes itself goodies, leading to socialism and insolvency.  We are going broke because more and more of the voters are bastard spawn sucking on the teat of the state, or overclass potentates also sucking on the teat of the state, like those parasitic "consultants" I mentioned earlier.  At some point the money is going to run out, they are going to be thrown off the teat, and probably shortly thereafter, off the voting rolls, one way or another way, assuming there still are such things as voting rolls by the time that happens, which there probably will not be.

Lastly, as I believe has been said before, like socialism before it, AnCap sounds very good in theory but has a significant potential to go wrong. However, the problem I see is not so much with the system itself, but with the transition to such a system from our present situation.

Our current system is headed for a precipice.  The transition is going to bloody regardless.  Likely the transition will be to Bonapartism or Caesarism, with a Sulla or two during the transition.  If, instead, we transition to anarcho capitalism, the transition, though bloody, is apt to be less bloody.

The least bad conventional outcome would be to a Caesar Augustus, or to a Napoleon the second.  But before you get a Caesar Augustus, you are apt to get a Sulla then a Caesar, and before you get a Napoleon the second, you are apt to get a red terror, followed by a Napoleon the first.  A republic can only function with a sufficiently virtuous electorate, which we do not have.

In the world of the comic strip, the United Worlds government is a continuation of our present government, with continued social decay and economic decline, but no collapse, the future of least surprises and least drama.  If, however, we look backwards, we see that for all the non English speaking world, there have been lots of surprises and lots of drama.  Most governments outside the English speaking world are rather recent creations, because the previous governments collapsed, often in an unpleasant fashion, and sometimes there was a lot of unpleasantness in replacing them.

I would argue that the remarkable stability of the Anglosphere is rooted in the compromise of the restoration, which compromise has now been abandoned, hence in future we are likely to have normal levels of instability.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Eonknight on February 03, 2012, 09:52:09 pm
Allright :)
I apologize in advance for the length of this answer.

Mellyrn:
Quote
all the dicey situations have been handled by exceptional characters

Maybe.  Maybe they become great in the handling.  Thing about a state, however, is that you NEED a great man, to stand between you and the psychopaths that will ineluctably coopt the power.  An AnCap society doesn't have a power nexus to be coopted.

This is not clear to me. In EfT, Tobi and Reggie could be considered nexuses, and no doubt some people would try to use these two's wealth and/or influence for their own ends... But I see your point.

Quote
be relatively safe

You, like others before you, discount archogenic crime (crime committed by the state, either by, say, policemen with delusions of grandeur, or by the state for the statecronies).  I maintain that the level of safety or danger is independent of the political system in place (we're all humans here, whether we have badges & titles or not), with the qualifier that, under government, I have no defense against archogenic crime and under AnCap I may defend myself against whomever I can.

[...]
The "safety" of not defining "minor, government-sanctioned abuse" as "abuse, period".

Sorry if I wasn't clear (English is not my mother tongue). I do not discount archogenic crime; I consider it a price paid. I agree that we're all human regardless of badges and titles, and I agree that the overall level of safety/threat is independent of the political system. I also agree that abuse is abuse, but there IS a scale to abuse. A man/gang coming into my house, raping my wife and daughter, kidnapping/killing my sons and beating/torturing me is a whole different kind of abuse than the cop that gives me an unwarranted speeding ticket or the government raising my taxes. Therefore, I consider the (so far) minor archogenic crime I can't defend myself from, the price I pay for protection against much more serious threats that I would have a hard time defending against at present. It's not a very good deal, but it is the best one available at the moment.

Quote
like socialism before it, AnCap sounds very good in theory but has a significant potential to go wrong.

You imply that a representative republic ("We (North Americans, especially)") does not have a significant potential to go wrong.  I see not only that it has such potential, but that it already has gone wrong.  No society goes from being free to being a police state in one move, so you have the boil-the-frog problem.  As of today, I guess you don't think the water in the pot is all that hot, and apparently don't think it can reach a boil.  How bad does it have to get before you say Oops?  Even I see that the current system could be lots worse (I'm glad I wasn't born in Gaza) but that doesn't make me complacent about what we've got.

I hear you. "Not too bad" doesn't mean we should get complacent, indeed. I do see the potential of democracy to go wrong. Its decline started a long time ago. Your question of "How bad does it have to get/How much blood is too much?" is a very pertinent one, and not easily resolved. I'll just say that I'm not convinced democracy is beyond redemption just yet, though this is a personal opinion and I accept that you may not agree.

However, this
Quote
So while I welcome any attempt to improve our condition, and while AnCap seems promising, how do we get there?
is an interesting question.  I start with education:  anarchy =! chaos and destruction, for one.  And I think that, absent being able to escape from Terra, the way forward is very much from the bottom up.  So what if there is resistance at the top?  What can 1% do when 99% go a different way?  What happened to the Brits in India?  Which reminds me -- how many people died in India's emancipation from Britain, and how many do you think would have died if they'd tried to fight their way free?  What will happen when we engage in peaceful noncooperation?

Almost none of my day-to-day activities have anything to do with government in any form; nearly everything I do is just plain ol' human gettin' along.  When more of us realize that "government" really only plays a vanishingly small part in life (and that mostly negative -- forget abuse, I just mean here taking money from us to do what we'd rather not have done anyway), we can walk away from it, like a Dumbo's Feather we no longer need in order to fly.

Especially since I'm educating myself on the topic, I would say that education indeed IS a great first step! :)  As to the revolution from the bottom up, we seem to be coming back around to the question "How much blood is too much?", which I'm afraid will only not be definitively answered anytime soon... And I need to brush up on India's history! :P

Sam:
First, let me be the devil's advocate for a moment here... I find that some version of the statement that "existing government is inefficient" is recurrent in making the case for AnCap, but from what I know, and to paraphrase another member of this forum, this is a feature (albeit costly) of the democratic system of government, not a bug: the system has been designed to be inefficient to prevent abuse of power.

It seems perfectly efficient at abusing power.  Consider Kelo v. City of New London, where the supreme court ruled that the government could confiscate property from unfavored people and give it to more favored people if they kind of vaguely felt it was all for the greater good, without any need for such obstructive inconveniences as a coherent and sound business plan for actually using the property.

(... truncated to keep length of post under control...)

Supposedly the US is transparent, and other regimes are corrupt, but this looks mighty corrupt to me.  It is absurd that the US, (where you have this army of regulatory "consultants" feeding bribe money into the bureaucracy) gets a better transparency rating than Singapore (where any such influence peddling "consultant" would be flogged).

I'm not familiar with this case. I will look it up.
I never expressed a judgement as to the efficiency of said method. Evidently, from the way the governments treated and still treat Aboriginals to the more minor abuses we are all victim of, this system is not perfect. However, I feel there are distinctions to be made. The government levying taxes and all, this is part of it's mandate. You may not agree with the amount levied or the way the public monies are spent, but the fact remains that at the (theoretical) core, our system of government is built around the concept that citizens appoint leaders, give them a part of their livelihood (money, grain, livestock, whatever) and ask their elected leaders to deal with some things. Again, it's not a perfect system, not by a very long shot, but that's the (grossly oversimplified) way it was designed, as far as I know. The division of the powers (source of most of the "inefficiencies") has been designed as a reaction to monarchy, to prevent the advent of a Nero type of leader. That is not to say that there is no abuse of power in the government.

True, a significant amount of people will take any opportunity they can find to subvert the system/abuse their power. But that has happened throughout history, regardless of political system, size of group, country, etc... I suspect it will still happen in AnCap.

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Firms that succeeded in making large scale central organization efficient, due to the leadership of a great man, for example Sam Walton, usually find that the successors of that great man are not so great.

Central organization can work on a large scale, but you need a great man to make it work, and there is a shortage of great men.

And, supposing you find a great man, finding a successor seldom works out so well.

I would respond that so far, in EFT, all the dicey situations have been handled by exceptional characters: Reggie, Babette, Libby, Bert and Ernie, Ed Turner et al., people that are leaders in their own right. So it seems the same can be said of AnCap.

None of them are attempting to run an entire society.  Their problems are more human sized.  Only one leader is running a large business.  The one that is running a large business is depicted as a great man, but no other businesses mentioned in the story are all that large.  Except for the large business, there is no substantial bureaucracy implied or needed.

Point taken.

Big problems, regardless of the system used to address them, will always call for great men.

Indeed, but having a big intrusive government makes every problem big, for it has to be solved from the top down for everyone, and everyone has to submit to the solution, whereas in an anarcho capitalist society, every problem is small, because everyone has to solve their own problems for themselves.

Yes, but ergo, then all these solutions are also small. Food for thought...

Second, the statement that the existing government is "violent" also doesn't sit too well with me. Let me explain: I do understand the context and what is meant by this statement, and I've always believed strongly that because someone else has it worse doesn't mean that I can't have it better. But please consider this: for all it's shortcomings (and boy, does it have some!), this system is what allows us, men, women and children alike, to be relatively safe.

Every middle class person is committing about one felony a month.  If you are a middle class person with investments and doing business, probably three felonies a day.  The fact that the government has so many laws and regulations that it has no hope of enforcing them all is not the kind of safety that makes me sleep easy.

The overabundance of obsolete/ridiculous/unneeded laws is nothing a good, dedicated cleanup couldn't fix. This would certainly make enforcement more efficient for the remaining, "good" laws.

Further, governments make everyone "safe", only so long as there is no internal or external challenge to governmental power.  From time to time, governments necessarily engage in wars, thereby exposing their subjects to enormous danger.  Since the government of the USA supposedly represents everyone in the USA, people who have quarrels with the US government are apt to target anyone and everyone in the USA, and just about everyone in the world is likely, sooner or later, to have some quarrel with the US government.

I see your point, but consider that while being associated with the USA exposes you to its enemies, it also lets you call onto its allies. It may be less obvious for the USA, but some countries have arguably benefited from being associated with wealthier, more powerful neighbors, for example.

The possibility of us having our Darfour or Somalia moment is remote

The War between the States killed six hundred and twenty thousand out of a population of twenty seven million, nearly one male in twenty, which is in the same league as Darfur, and it looks to me that another great internal conflict is coming up fast.  Democracy is the same bad state is it was in the Roman Republic around seventy BC, and the arguments over what follows democracy are likely to get out of hand.

The Civil War could be considered the exception that confirms the rule. The Darfour and Somalia tragedies are powerful images, but these countries and a lot of others have been engulfed in this kind of conflict almost constantly for a very long time. And that is not counting the countries where there is/was less blood but more oppression,  like the former Soviet states.

About the possibility of another imminent conflict, I don't know enough to argue.

And as for the state of democracy, you see it that bad? I need to think more on this.

Right now the government is buying peace and tranquility and the superficial simulation of prosperity with its supposedly bottomless no limit credit card.  When the no limit card finally hits its limit, chances are that peace and tranquility will not continue.

No argument here, but they can and will stretch it for a long while still, IMHO.

With less creative statistics, looks like we were most prosperous some time around 1994-2000.  See Shadowstats.com   Some aspects of science and technology have been in decline since 1972-1974.  The tallest buildings were completed back then, the coolest cars were built back then, the last man left the moon back then.  Today, rather more aspects of science and technology are in visible decline.  Sometimes, to get the latest and best medical technology, you have to leave the USA and do some medical tourism.  Science is increasingly just politics proclaimed with priestly authority, for example animal fats, anthropogenic global warming.  When you try to get the data on which these holy proclamations are based, they will not tell you.  Official truth replaces truth by replication.

Thanks for the site, I'll check it out. But how do you figure that aspects of S&T are in decline? I need more info. How is the height of buildings representative of scientific decline? I find that it can be interpreted both ways: bigger is not always better, especially on the environmental front. Same thing for the cars: it depends on what you think is "cool"; internal combustion engines have never been so efficient and the Tesla roadster is a pretty damn cool car. We don't have anyone on the moon, but we have people living year-round in a space station and are receiving info from probes sent to the very borders of our solar system. Availability of medical technology is not a problem of scientific decline, but one of regulation. In this, it constitutes an argument in favor of AnCap. As for the state control over information, it is nothing new, and existed long before our modern concepts of government. Government is just one more tool for these people to use to control information. AnCap would at least remove that tool.

If, however, we look backwards, we see that for all the non English speaking world, there have been lots of surprises and lots of drama.  Most governments outside the English speaking world are rather recent creations, because the previous governments collapsed, often in an unpleasant fashion, and sometimes there was a lot of unpleasantness in replacing them.

I would argue that the remarkable stability of the Anglosphere is rooted in the compromise of the restoration, which compromise has now been abandoned, hence in future we are likely to have normal levels of instability.

Not sure I follow you, particularly the Anglosphere vs rest of the world comment. Care to elaborate?

Again, sorry for the length of this post.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on February 04, 2012, 01:46:18 am
the fact remains that at the (theoretical) core, our system of government is built around the concept that citizens appoint leaders, give them a part of their livelihood (money, grain, livestock, whatever) and ask their elected leaders to deal with some things.

I never agreed to any such deal.

And I am quite certain I would never have agreed to a deal in which I pay such an astonishingly large amount for these alleged services. 

Your argument was more persuasive back in the days of Charles the second, when taxes were considerably lower, and when it was possible to know what was legal and what was illegal.

If government is doing stuff for us, why is it that the things that it does for us today require enormously more laws, enormously higher taxes, and vastly more police and prisons, than the things it did for us in 1910?

What are these things I want done that I spend far more money on them than I spend on my children?

The possibility of us having our Darfour or Somalia moment is remote

The War between the States killed six hundred and twenty thousand out of a population of twenty seven million, nearly one male in twenty, which is in the same league as Darfur, and it looks to me that another great internal conflict is coming up fast.  Democracy is the same bad state is it was in the Roman Republic around seventy BC, and the arguments over what follows democracy are likely to get out of hand.

The Civil War could be considered the exception that confirms the rule. The Darfour and Somalia tragedies are powerful images, but these countries and a lot of others have been engulfed in this kind of conflict almost constantly for a very long time.

That the US is better than Sudan is not an impressive recommendation.  Sudan is on the bloody borders of Islam, and has always had armed conflict between Christians and Muslims - something we are beginning to see in Thailand, France and Sweden, and have been seeing for the last several hundred years in the Philippines.  If a country is roughly fifty percent Muslim and fifty percent non Muslim, like Sudan, you get a lot of bloodshed.  If it is one hundred percent Muslim, like Somalia, you are still apt to get a fair bit of bloodshed as one Islamic sect attempts to make itself the government over other Islamic sects, the main problem in Somalia at the moment being that al Qaeda trying to form a government.  At ten percent Muslim, significant bloodshed begins.  This is not a problem that government causes, except in the sense that Islam is theocratic and insists on being the government, but neither is it a problem that government can solve - observe the US government efforts to solve it in Afghanistan.

And as for the state of democracy, you see it that bad?

Right now the government is buying peace and tranquility and the superficial simulation of prosperity with its supposedly bottomless no limit credit card.  When the no limit card finally hits its limit, chances are that peace and tranquility will not continue.

No argument here, but they can and will stretch it for a long while still, IMHO.

I estimate that the collapse comes around 2026

A republic requires a virtuous electorate.  With a decadent electorate, elections turn into advance auctions of stolen goods, which buggers up the economy, as we are now seeing, and causes the government to run out of money, or government printed money to become worthless, as we are about to see.  Eventually it comes to pass that the government cannot pay the army, or pays them in worthless money, as happened in Chile.

An officer has an obligation to obey legitimate authority.  But he also has an obligation to see his troops get paid and fed.  And so the army goes into politics, and having gone into politics, may find it difficult to get out of politics.

But how do you figure that aspects of S&T are in decline?

Cars were getting more impressive in that energy conversion technologies were converting more energy per unit mass - hotter engines.  War machines, planes, spacecraft and cars were getting faster, Now, after 1972, conversion technologies are stagnant or in decline.  Solar cells and batteries are advancing, but they are low energy density technologies.

One might suppose that they hit a natural limit, that there is only so much power you can get out of an engine, but new technologies that had promise for extreme energy density and high efficiency, such as the turbocharged two stroke diesel, are frozen with little improvement since the 1960s, arguably some regress.

it depends on what you think is "cool"; internal combustion engines have never been so efficient and the Tesla roadster is a pretty damn cool car.

Despite enormous subsidies, no one wants to buy the Tesla Roadster.  Therefore not a damn cool car.

If, however, we look backwards, we see that for all the non English speaking world, there have been lots of surprises and lots of drama.  Most governments outside the English speaking world are rather recent creations, because the previous governments collapsed, often in an unpleasant fashion, and sometimes there was a lot of unpleasantness in replacing them.

I would argue that the remarkable stability of the Anglosphere is rooted in the compromise of the restoration, which compromise has now been abandoned, hence in future we are likely to have normal levels of instability.

Not sure I follow you, particularly the Anglosphere vs rest of the world comment. Care to elaborate?

The English government claims its origin in William the conqueror, 1066, though one might suspect it originated in the restoration compromise of 1660, which makes it at least three hundred and fifty two years old, and arguably a lot older.

The US federal government claims its origin in the constitutional convention of 1787, though one might suspect it originated in Lincoln's seizure of power in 1861, which makes it at least two hundred and fifty one years old, and arguably a lot older.

Other governments around the world are for the most part less than seventy years old, and often a lot of people were killed and a lot of property destroyed in forming them.  France is on its fifth republic, fifty four years old, which is longer than most French forms of government have lasted.  The origins of the fifth republic were relatively peaceable, but the origins of the fourth republic were not so nice.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on February 04, 2012, 10:47:00 pm
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I also agree that abuse is abuse, but there IS a scale to abuse. A man/gang coming into my house, raping my wife and daughter, kidnapping/killing my sons and beating/torturing me is a whole different kind of abuse than the cop that gives me an unwarranted speeding ticket or the government raising my taxes. Therefore, I consider the (so far) minor archogenic crime I can't defend myself from, the price I pay for protection against much more serious threats that I would have a hard time defending against at present.

An unwarranted speeding ticket or a raise in taxes?  Is this a case of, "if it didn't happen to me, it didn't happen"?  Because

"Last September, Dana announced that the autopsy report showed O'Loughlin was the victim of a homicide. He said the report showed O'Loughlin sustained 12 separate injuries to his head, chest, abdomen and legs during his arrest, including the lacerated liver that caused him to bleed to death.

"'In short, Ryan was beaten to death,' Dana said at the time.

"During the arrest, Dana said, O'Loughlin never assaulted any of the officers but only refused to put his hands behind his back. He said toxicology tests showed O'Loughlin had no drugs or alcohol in his system". [emphasis added] (http://www.theday.com/article/20120202/NWS01/302029518/1018)

is, at least to me, rather more than a wrong ticket. The article explains that the grand jury declined to find the police at any fault.  And, please, this is only one of a sadly extensive collection.  Wanna hear about the guy, arrested for public drunkenness, who was pepper-sprayed to death in the police station?  How about the guy tasered (true, not lethally) by a park ranger apparently because his two little dogs weren't on a leash?  The young man who spent the night in jail because he asked a policewoman for directions, she refused, and he had the gall to then try asking her partner for directions?  The 12-year-old arrested and taken from school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk?  (These are the only sort of incidents it's OK to discuss; any mention of things like "clintoncide" or "being Wellstoned" or the curious relationship of the Bush and Hinkley families immediately triggers the "omg you are one of those conspiracy theorists!" antibodies.  Though Nixon's "enemies list" is apparently fair game.)

Then of course there's still the matter of the bailouts, imposed on us by our "representatives" despite all our efforts to say, "No, we don't want this".  That's also a bit more than an "unwarranted ticket". Consider Irish Journalist Vincent Browne Vs. The ECB: "Explain Why The Irish People Have To Bailout Billionaire Bondholders!" (http://dailybail.com/home/irish-journalist-vincent-browne-vs-the-ecb-explain-why-the-i.html) Why, indeed?  Does that count as an unwarranted traffic ticket or a raise in acceptable taxes?  And now there's the NDAA where the government can disappear me and even kill me on my merely being accused of "terrorism" (and, honestly, any action that would alter the status quo must be seen as terrifying to those whose fortunes depend on the status quo, sooo. . . .)  So, no, I don't think you're really considering archogenic crime in this society.  'Cos even in the worst dictatorships, most people most of the time are not directly affected by the dictator's brutality (may consider their poverty their own fault, not his), never have any dealings with the secret police nor any fear of being on the "enemies list", and probably wonder what all the fuss is supposed to be about.  Like you, they probably consider whatever they have to deal with as being "the price they pay".

And, as sam pointed out, it's governments which launch wars and, in so doing, generate threats to their own citizens that wouldn't have been there before.  Is being a real live toy soldier in some overgrown boy's RL fantasy wargame also a price you pay to "protect" you from "more serious" threats?

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As to the revolution from the bottom up, we seem to be coming back around to the question "How much blood is too much?", which I'm afraid will only not be definitively answered anytime soon..

A guy recently calculated his taxes as being about 74% of his income.  And to think that the colonists who launched the American revolution found 2% excessive.

And as to when the question "How much is too much?" will be answered, consider Romania in December of 1989 -- as the month began, things were SSDD or snafu or whatever you'd like to call it, Ceaucescu securely in power as he'd been for the last quarter-century; two weeks later, on Christmas Day, he and his wife were executed by the revolution.  Might not go that fast, as that was probably rather an outlier; nonetheless, it does show that it ain't impossible.


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I never agreed to any such deal.

Nor did I.  At least churches, if you're born to them, tend to put you through a First Communion or adult baptism or the like, where you do agree to the deal.  A human society requires that you not gratuitously beat up ("harm") other members of the society.  What can authentically be demanded beyond that?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on February 04, 2012, 11:30:52 pm
Then of course there's still the matter of the bailouts, imposed on us by our "representatives" despite all our efforts to say, "No, we don't want this".  That's also a bit more than an "unwarranted ticket". Consider Irish Journalist Vincent Browne Vs. The ECB: "Explain Why The Irish People Have To Bailout Billionaire Bondholders!" (http://dailybail.com/home/irish-journalist-vincent-browne-vs-the-ecb-explain-why-the-i.html) Why, indeed? 

Digressing, bailouts are bad because they encourage politically influential lenders who lend to politically influential borrowers, or politically important voting blocks, or both, to lend irresponsibly.  A bailout today guarantees that a bigger bailout will be demanded tomorrow.  If you think the recent crisis was a lot of money, wait till next time.

Similarly, a business bankruptcy is supposed to transfer assets and manpower from unproductive use to productive use.  In the GM bankruptcy, what should have happened is that the factories should have been sold to a car maker who believed he could use them to make a profit.  Instead, GM is still running under the old management and the union who ran it into the ground in the first place, and who are now busily running it into the ground all over again.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Homer2101 on February 06, 2012, 05:24:11 pm
I am not going to reply to all the points individually. I wrote up individual responses for some of them, but the results were even more repetitive than usual and not very interesting. So I will instead try to address the big points in one more or less coherent post, and if there is anything I have missed, please say so and I will respond to the point in question as best I can.

Mellyrn, we seem to be at risk of getting into a circular argument over whether the state or private entities kill more people. It's not an argument I want to get into, not so much because it's circular but because I never argued that a state apparatus would always be peaceful, or that government would always be benevolent. I am not that naive. Both individuals and states kill people; I won't go into numbers because it's a futile exercise. The website you linked earlier proves the point -- was Genghis Khan really a state actor, or was he a very effective leader who unified a nomadic people much as individuals attract followers today, save on a much greater scale? The answer is entirely meaningless. I suppose I view the state as sort of like a firearm -- it's a neutral tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, good, neutral, and bad.

I do argue that institutionalized methods of dispute resolution are essential in a modern industrial society. The nature of the mechanism does not matter, but its presence and legitimacy do matter quite a bit. On a theoretical level, dispute resolution that does not involve one party coercing the other is a form of cooperative behavior. Cooperation as a rule requires (1) symmetry of power and (2) iterative interaction between participants. Axelrod'sEvolution of Cooperation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_cooperation) is one of the definitive theoretical texts on cooperative behavior, and the wiki article links to the paper on which the book is based, so I won't make a hash of trying to summarize why iterative behavior is important here. I will say that symmetry of power is important because if the power balance is heavily skewed towards one party in a dispute, the more-powerful party has little reason to cooperate in order to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome, absent other considerations which alter the cost-benefit calculus.

In practice, this means that while a dispute between neighbors can usually be resolved peacefully and to mutual advantage without involving a third party, disputes between relative strangers or between parties of asymmetric power can require some dispute resolution mechanism. And even well-meaning individuals might have trouble resolving their differences. I raised earlier the example of how "harm" can be interpreted in different ways in situations which are all to common in industrial society, to the point where one party might not even think it is causing any sort of harm.

A legal system establishes a basic set of rules for such disputes, whether through precedent or laws, but it must maintain the appearance of fairness and impartiality, else it becomes perceived as a Dickensian domain of drunk judges, biased juries, and soulless attorneys selling "justice" to the highest bidder. But fun descriptions aside, point is that a complex society needs a commonly-accepted dispute resolution mechanism that is seen as legitimate -- as impartial and fair. Not everyone has to agree that it is fair, and the losing party will almost always complain about the injustice of it all, but that's a universal aspect of every system of dispute resolution.

That sort of dispute resolution system as far as I am concerned will not be any different from a state, because it still involves an entity legitimizing one party's use of force against another in order to enforce an outcome it deems fair. Such a system would also homogenize a society's "rules," to borrow Mellyrn's terminology, at least within its jurisdiction so long as decisions create precedent. It might be a very amorphous, minimalist state, but a state nonetheless. How fair such a system will be in an an-cap depends on its particulars, same as for any real-life justice system. In sum, at the local level individuals do resolve disputes on their own; but that doesn't happen in many cases, which is why parties seek arbitration, or mediation, or go to court, and will seek to do so regardless of the type of government they live under, or whether there is a government at all.

Certain problems posed by modern industrial society may also be better solved in advance, rather than by waiting for a harm to manifest so that the mechanisms of traditional litigation (or arbitration, or whatever else) may be invoked. Apologies to macstafu for not fully addressing his earlier point. It would be more correct to say that the solutions, or lack thereof, offered by the market have been consistently rejected by the people of every industrial society. I find many of Marx's theories naive, but his writings illustrate very well the complaints many people had against the near-unrestricted capitalism of the mid-nineteenth century; they are well-worth reading, if only for a historical perspective. Much of the legislation enacted under pressure from the Progressive movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States was a response to the inequities and problems posed by the free market. Modern environmental legislation is a response to the perceived inadequacies of litigation as deterrent to harmful behavior. We may see new workplace legislation and stricter enforcement of such rules in China within the next decade.

A society might find the negative effects of unrestricted capitalism acceptable, of course. But historically that hasn't been the case.

I do not argue that everything a government does will always be good, or that every problem can be solved by more legislation or additional state intervention. In many cases state intervention causes more harm than good. But in many cases the state prevents greater harm as well. Ostrom's Governing the Commons (http://www.worldcat.org/title/governing-the-commons-the-evolution-of-institutions-for-collective-action/oclc/021409003) provides an interesting perspective on how people solve common-pool-resource problems using mixed public-private approaches.

State violence against its own citizens is frequently brought up here. Unfortunately, we do not know how much violence the state prevents in developed countries, since there's no available example of a working industrial society that's not covered by a state as far as I am aware. We do know that breakdown of state authority is associated with significant increase in violence by private entities against individuals and other entities, whether it is the complete breakdown of state authority in Somalia, or lack of enforcement in early 90s Russia or in some inner cities of the United States during that same time period.

The cost of having a state under a democratic government is the need for eternal vigilance against unacceptable use of the state's police powers. The cost of not having a state is the potential for violence and the lack of a framework by which to address various problems that the market doesn't solve adequately. It is, yet again, a matter of costs and benefits. My own experience growing up in Russia following the dissolution of the USSR is that people will embrace an autocrat if he protects them from random violence, doubly so if the autocrat also promises economic stability; for all the talk of democracy in Iraq, quite a few Iraqis are very ambivalent about the whole concept -- people did not have to worry about sectarian death squads or bombs under Saddam, since Saddam's brand of violence tended to be fairly rational and systemic. Of course, the degree of violence expected under in a developed society that embraces an-cap depends heavily on assumptions. A society composed of individuals who all seek to be left alone and who strive to avoid harming others doesn't need laws or rules; in my experience people can ostensibly "harm" one another even when their goals are commendable.

That about summarizes my argument, and I hope also addresses all of the responses. To repeat: I am not arguing that more laws are thee answer to all of our problems. Most problems faced by society can and should be solved at the local level, sometimes by deciding to not do anything at all. But there are times when the state's intervention is desirable. Similarly, I am not arguing that states are nonviolent, but rather that experience so far suggests that when subject to appropriate institutional and social safeguards, a state is fairly good at severely reducing or eliminating violence, mitigating conflict, and resolving problems.



I won't go into detail explaining why it's not a problem if a voter only agrees with his chosen candidate some of the time, and is possibly a good thing. Federalist No.10 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_No._10) was written by a very smart person struggling with the problem of how to get people of contrary interests to exhibit cooperative behavior, and how to avoid both autocracy and mob rule in the process. Considering how the past two hundred years turned out, he seems to have been on to something. Aldrich's Why Parties (http://www.worldcat.org/title/why-parties-the-origin-and-transformation-of-political-parties-in-america/oclc/31207518) is probably more interesting, if only because he uses modern English language; he recently published a follow-up book which I will have to pick up at some point. Fact of the matter is that sometimes elected officials have to make choices the electorate overwhelmingly does not support, in order to avoid outcomes the electorate also does not support. Sometimes a representative will have multiple constituencies, especially in a two-party system where both parties are large umbrella organizations. Perhaps more importantly, we elect officials to run the country; if they mess up, we usually toss them out, at least in the developed world.

Also going to avoid discussing legitimacy of political systems. So much has been written on the subject that it's easier to just suggest using JSTOR or Ovid or another similar database.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on February 06, 2012, 07:00:33 pm
Mellyrn, we seem to be at risk of getting into a circular argument over whether the state or private entities kill more people. It's not an argument I want to get into, not so much because it's circular but because I never argued that a state apparatus would always be peaceful, or that government would always be benevolent.

How in the heck is there a circular argument here? A circular argument assumes what it is attempting to prove. Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_reasoning then check back with us.

A conservative estimate of the number of people killed during the 20th Century, by state action not including war, is 170,000,000. Do you really think that private murders killed even 1% as many people? Proportionality is highly relevant when the numbers are so damning.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: sam on February 06, 2012, 11:19:19 pm
I will say that symmetry of power is important because if the power balance is heavily skewed towards one party in a dispute, the more-powerful party has little reason to cooperate

And since these days, most of our interactions are with the state, this seems like a pretty good argument for anarchy.

In practice, I and the merchant I do business with have a fairly symmetric relationship with Visa and Mastercard, since if Visa pisses on either merchants or customers, it goes out of business.  So Visa arbitration is fast, cheap, efficient, and fair (well it is pretty unfair if, as with many internet transactions, there is no real documentation, but that cannot be helped)

Because the state is so much more powerful, it can piss on both merchants and customers, and, lo and behold, that is exactly what it does.  Most people are reasonably happy with Visa arbitration.  No one is ever happy with small claims court arbitration.

Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: mellyrn on February 07, 2012, 06:58:28 am
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My own experience growing up in Russia following the dissolution of the USSR is that

of a woman -- a very old woman at that -- who has lived her entire waking life wearing a corset, who one day decides not to.  She finds she can't, she physically can't support her own trunk.

To conclude from the chaos of the collapse of a restrictive system that restrictive systems are "necessary" to prevent social chaos, is functionally equivalent to concluding that corsets are "necessary" to women's structural support.

You asked how we get to an anarchy.  Part of that is going to have to be a kind of rehab, as the corset-shedding woman needs.  It should actually be easier than physical rehab, though.  Get people to recognize that 99.44% [I keep using that figure, hoping someone will catch the reference, but oh well] of everything they do is done pretty much without any reference to the state machinery at all -- that they already are standing on their own two social feet without holding on to Big Brother's finger -- and then they can walk away free.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: macsnafu on February 07, 2012, 10:48:33 am


I do argue that institutionalized methods of dispute resolution are essential in a modern industrial society. The nature of the mechanism does not matter, but its presence and legitimacy do matter quite a bit. On a theoretical level, dispute resolution that does not involve one party coercing the other is a form of cooperative behavior. Cooperation as a rule requires (1) symmetry of power and (2) iterative interaction between participants. Axelrod'sEvolution of Cooperation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_cooperation) is one of the definitive theoretical texts on cooperative behavior, and the wiki article links to the paper on which the book is based, so I won't make a hash of trying to summarize why iterative behavior is important here. I will say that symmetry of power is important because if the power balance is heavily skewed towards one party in a dispute, the more-powerful party has little reason to cooperate in order to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome, absent other considerations which alter the cost-benefit calculus.

In practice, this means that while a dispute between neighbors can usually be resolved peacefully and to mutual advantage without involving a third party, disputes between relative strangers or between parties of asymmetric power can require some dispute resolution mechanism. And even well-meaning individuals might have trouble resolving their differences. I raised earlier the example of how "harm" can be interpreted in different ways in situations which are all to common in industrial society, to the point where one party might not even think it is causing any sort of harm.

A legal system establishes a basic set of rules for such disputes, whether through precedent or laws, but it must maintain the appearance of fairness and impartiality, else it becomes perceived as a Dickensian domain of drunk judges, biased juries, and soulless attorneys selling "justice" to the highest bidder. But fun descriptions aside, point is that a complex society needs a commonly-accepted dispute resolution mechanism that is seen as legitimate -- as impartial and fair. Not everyone has to agree that it is fair, and the losing party will almost always complain about the injustice of it all, but that's a universal aspect of every system of dispute resolution.


An anarchic system can also have a legal system.  A common or customary legal system is largely based on precedent.  How good is a dispute resolution system if the arbitrator can override both of the disputing parties and make whatever decision it wants that is enforced on both parties.  Does the "symmetry of power" have no meaning when it comes to the arbitrator himself?
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: Eonknight on February 07, 2012, 02:45:11 pm
Sam:
I never said you personally agreed to any deal. This is like me saying I did not personally cause any direct tort to the Amerindians or the Africans. We all inherit both the good and the bad that our forefathers did. This argument would carry more weight if we were "building" a society, but we are looking at "renovations".
And everything costs enormously more, etc. because the world has changed, and the government and it's role changed (read expanded exponentially). Not justifying, here, mind you, merely explaining. And I never said the existing system was perfect (in fact, reading back, I expressly stated that the system was full of bugs and something needed to be done). "Questioning" one system is not an automatic endorsement of another system.

And if the fact that North America is doing better than the great majority of the world's countries is not an impressive recommendation, what would be?  :)  But I will repeat here that the fact that we're presently doing arguably better than most of the rest of the world does not mean the system is flawless, not by any measure.

I definitely do not have access to any information that would allow me to calculate when North America's collapse will happen with any semblance of credibility, so I won't argue your figure. But I will say that ANY political/social structure requires a virtuous membership to work as designed (I mean, do you seriously see ANYONE, having Tobi's level of power, voluntarily use the "headbomb"? I certainly don't, not for many generations to come)

Again, measure of coolness is subjective. You say no one wants to buy the Tesla roadster, but this $100,000-plus car, using relatively unproven technology from a brand new firm that has no history to sell on managed to deliver 1500 cars to 30 countries in 6 years, with the first 200 cars sold out in just about a year from the introduction of the prototype. No too bad, I would say. As for the "hotter engines" being more efficient (unless I did not understand your statement) in the 70'S-80's, again, I would have to double check, but I think that the recent direct injection engines put out more HP per liter of displacement than was thought possible in the 80's.

Mellyrn,
For some reason, I have the feeling I offended you. If I did, I am sorry. Please believe I never intended to.
I never said anywhere that police abuse did not exist. But I think the events you refer to, while they are very real and unacceptable, are "anecdotal" when you look at the big picture. Out of the hundreds of thousands of police interventions that occur daily, from traffic tickets to drug busts and the rest, these abuses are relatively rare. Think of the bad rap Harley riders have suffered (and to a degree still suffer) because of Hells Angels and other criminal gangs. However, I don't have the statistics on hand to back my opinion. I'll try a few searches if I have time...

Contrary to any dictatorship, I am not afraid when my children walk to school, and I am not afraid when I have to call the cops because of a stupid and dangerous neighbor. I can say from personal experiences and from first person accounts that life in a dictator-run country is very much about constantly looking over your shoulder and watching what you say. They very much consider their situation not like a "price they pay", but like a "the first chance I get that has more than XX% chance of success, I'm out of here!". So I guess our experiences differ on that level.

Again, you seem to be thinking that because I nuance my opinions, I automatically think our system is good enough the way it is and doesn't need to be improved/changed. This is not the case, I assure you.

Mr Sandfort, I am very interested to read on that estimate; can you point me in the right direction?

At any rate, this is a very interesting and instructive discussion, on an interesting and entertaining comic. This discussion would deserve much more study than what my 5 children (4 of whom are under 10) and sometimes more-than-full-time job afford me.  :)
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: SandySandfort on February 07, 2012, 03:00:48 pm
An anarchic system can also have a legal system.  A common or customary legal system is largely based on precedent.  How good is a dispute resolution system if the arbitrator can override both of the disputing parties and make whatever decision it wants that is enforced on both parties.  Does the "symmetry of power" have no meaning when it comes to the arbitrator himself?

You could have an appeal system for a trial de novo or other review procedures.

P.S. Ivory soap is (was?) 99.44% pure. The actual words used in TV commercials was (is?), "Ivory soap is ninety-nine and forty-four one hundredths percent pure." Porn star, Marilyn Chambers, was the model for the original box illustration--before she was a porn star.
Title: Re: The New (12/12/2011) Arc on EFT
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on February 07, 2012, 03:40:42 pm
My own experience growing up in Russia following the dissolution of the USSR is that

of a woman -- a very old woman at that -- who has lived her entire waking life wearing a corset, who one day decides not to.  She finds she can't, she physically can't support her own trunk.

To conclude from the chaos of the collapse of a restrictive system that restrictive systems are "necessary" to prevent social chaos, is functionally equivalent to concluding that corsets are "necessary" to women's structural support.

You asked how we get to an anarchy.  Part of that is going to have to be a kind of rehab, as the corset-shedding woman needs.  It should actually be easier than physical rehab, though.  Get people to recognize that 99.44% [I keep using that figure, hoping someone will catch the reference, but oh well] of everything they do is done pretty much without any reference to the state machinery at all -- that they already are standing on their own two social feet without holding on to Big Brother's finger -- and then they can walk away free.

I prefer the metaphor of someone with a large tumor; one sufficiently large that removing it immediately would be life threatening -- both because of the structure it provides and because it is tightly entwined with healthy tissue.   In such a case, the recommended treatment is to use other methods (radiation, chemotherapy) to reduce the size prior to excising it.

This, I propose, provides a good model for how to deal with the problem -- assuming of course we want the patient to survive (at some point that might not be an option, but "starting over from scratch" has many more risks).

The short term goal needs to be to shrink, but not yet eliminate, government.  As it shrinks over time (and I think the time needs to measured in years, but hopefully not decades), it will be replaced with healthy structures.  I would concentrate on first eliminating regulation (including laws against consensual activity), then reducing non-defense military and internal social programs (the former faster than the latter), using the savings to cover debt, replace the criminal legal system with civil penalties, then transitioning defense directly to the citizenry and and finally completing the privatization of the court system. 

In the US, I would also use the existing 50-state infrastructure to decentralize these responsibilities along with that; as this occurs, each state can be reduced in parallel but at rates controlled locally.

Of course, a lot more detail is needed.  For example, as regulation is removed, regulation which prohibits or restricts private competition with regulation, e.g., private certifications would need to be removed before the base regulations are removed entirely; this will allow government experts to transition to the private sector and also reduce egregiously dangerous actions due to the sudden absence of any sort of regulatory guarantees at all.

This would, of course, need to be monitored and adjusted as the process of government shrinkage continues; as far as I know there is no concrete model of this approach being used and unforeseen  problems will undoubtedly crop up and need to be addressed.