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. 

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.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 08:37:43 am by mellyrn »

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.

  • That is not economic defense, but aggression.  If I rape a woman, it may pleasure me more than it displeasures her, but if I were to make that argument no one would think that I was arguing that I was defending myself.
  • No one seriously believes that stuff.  That the confiscation will supposedly benefit the greater good is merely pro forma pieties.  The point of eminent domain is to threaten people with the destruction of their property, so as to shake them down or get their submission and compliance.  When the threat is actually carried out, stuff gets flattened, but is either not rebuilt, as for example Kelo's land, or rebuilt with dreadful slums, as for example the housing projects.

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.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2012, 08:08:50 pm by sam »

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.

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.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 11:11:22 pm by sam »

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.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 12:48:10 pm by mellyrn »

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.

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.

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.

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< 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.

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

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.

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.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 06:25:45 pm by sam »

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!

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.


 

anything