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 


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.


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.

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?

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.

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

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
« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 12:25:52 pm by mellyrn »

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 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
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.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 01:37:05 pm by macsnafu »
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

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

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.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 07:16:58 pm by sam »

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 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.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 09:07:51 pm by Homer2101 »

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.

Homer2101 on January 06, 2012, 12:21:19 am
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.
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.

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.

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.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 06:58:57 am by SandySandfort »

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.)

 

anything