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.

« Last Edit: December 27, 2011, 06:31:00 pm by sam »

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!"

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?

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.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2011, 05:33:43 pm by sam »

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?
« Last Edit: January 02, 2012, 09:42:19 am by Azure Priest »

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! ::)

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
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

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?

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.


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? ;)

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.
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

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

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.
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

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."

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 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. 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 posits a post-scarcity world full of immortal capsuleers. You canít 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.

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 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.

sam on January 04, 2012, 04:45:39 pm
On a theoretical level, it's generally accepted that humans will form institutions 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.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 05:20:01 pm by sam »