Homer2101 on February 01, 2012, 07:32:00 pm
First, there's a big difference between a genuine 'newbie' who may be unfamiliar with the concepts and a troll who either can not or will not accept the premises raised.

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

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

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

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

See also Usage section at:

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

And don't even get me started about Ms....
The English language is not a monolithic construct. There is no "Academy of the English Language" to derive or formulate rules, definitions and usages that all English speakers must thereafter follow or be labeled ignorant. The modern English language has several valid forms for the singular gender-neutral pronoun, and their acceptability depends in large part on personal preference and target audience. I find constructs such as "s/he" awkward, and using "they" alongside singular nouns feels uncomfortable, so most times I use "he" for the sake of simplicity. Others have their own preferences, and they are no more wrong than you and I in the grand scheme of things.

sam on February 01, 2012, 07:42:02 pm
First, let me be the devil's advocate for a moment here... I find that some version of the statement that "existing government is inefficient" is recurrent in making the case for AnCap, but from what I know, and to paraphrase another member of this forum, this is a feature (albeit costly) of the democratic system of government, not a bug: the system has been designed to be inefficient to prevent abuse of power.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would argue that the remarkable stability of the Anglosphere is rooted in the compromise of the restoration, which compromise has now been abandoned, hence in future we are likely to have normal levels of instability.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 07:43:54 pm by sam »

Eonknight on February 03, 2012, 09:52:09 pm
Allright :)
I apologize in advance for the length of this answer.

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

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

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

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be relatively safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Point taken.

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

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

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

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

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

The overabundance of obsolete/ridiculous/unneeded laws is nothing a good, dedicated cleanup couldn't fix. This would certainly make enforcement more efficient for the remaining, "good" laws.

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

I see your point, but consider that while being associated with the USA exposes you to its enemies, it also lets you call onto its allies. It may be less obvious for the USA, but some countries have arguably benefited from being associated with wealthier, more powerful neighbors, for example.

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

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

The Civil War could be considered the exception that confirms the rule. The Darfour and Somalia tragedies are powerful images, but these countries and a lot of others have been engulfed in this kind of conflict almost constantly for a very long time. And that is not counting the countries where there is/was less blood but more oppression,  like the former Soviet states.

About the possibility of another imminent conflict, I don't know enough to argue.

And as for the state of democracy, you see it that bad? I need to think more on this.

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

No argument here, but they can and will stretch it for a long while still, IMHO.

With less creative statistics, looks like we were most prosperous some time around 1994-2000.  See Shadowstats.com   Some aspects of science and technology have been in decline since 1972-1974.  The tallest buildings were completed back then, the coolest cars were built back then, the last man left the moon back then.  Today, rather more aspects of science and technology are in visible decline.  Sometimes, to get the latest and best medical technology, you have to leave the USA and do some medical tourism.  Science is increasingly just politics proclaimed with priestly authority, for example animal fats, anthropogenic global warming.  When you try to get the data on which these holy proclamations are based, they will not tell you.  Official truth replaces truth by replication.

Thanks for the site, I'll check it out. But how do you figure that aspects of S&T are in decline? I need more info. How is the height of buildings representative of scientific decline? I find that it can be interpreted both ways: bigger is not always better, especially on the environmental front. Same thing for the cars: it depends on what you think is "cool"; internal combustion engines have never been so efficient and the Tesla roadster is a pretty damn cool car. We don't have anyone on the moon, but we have people living year-round in a space station and are receiving info from probes sent to the very borders of our solar system. Availability of medical technology is not a problem of scientific decline, but one of regulation. In this, it constitutes an argument in favor of AnCap. As for the state control over information, it is nothing new, and existed long before our modern concepts of government. Government is just one more tool for these people to use to control information. AnCap would at least remove that tool.

If, however, we look backwards, we see that for all the non English speaking world, there have been lots of surprises and lots of drama.  Most governments outside the English speaking world are rather recent creations, because the previous governments collapsed, often in an unpleasant fashion, and sometimes there was a lot of unpleasantness in replacing them.

I would argue that the remarkable stability of the Anglosphere is rooted in the compromise of the restoration, which compromise has now been abandoned, hence in future we are likely to have normal levels of instability.

Not sure I follow you, particularly the Anglosphere vs rest of the world comment. Care to elaborate?

Again, sorry for the length of this post.

« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 09:54:29 pm by Eonknight »

sam on February 04, 2012, 01:46:18 am
the fact remains that at the (theoretical) core, our system of government is built around the concept that citizens appoint leaders, give them a part of their livelihood (money, grain, livestock, whatever) and ask their elected leaders to deal with some things.

I never agreed to any such deal.

And I am quite certain I would never have agreed to a deal in which I pay such an astonishingly large amount for these alleged services. 

Your argument was more persuasive back in the days of Charles the second, when taxes were considerably lower, and when it was possible to know what was legal and what was illegal.

If government is doing stuff for us, why is it that the things that it does for us today require enormously more laws, enormously higher taxes, and vastly more police and prisons, than the things it did for us in 1910?

What are these things I want done that I spend far more money on them than I spend on my children?

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

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

The Civil War could be considered the exception that confirms the rule. The Darfour and Somalia tragedies are powerful images, but these countries and a lot of others have been engulfed in this kind of conflict almost constantly for a very long time.

That the US is better than Sudan is not an impressive recommendation.  Sudan is on the bloody borders of Islam, and has always had armed conflict between Christians and Muslims - something we are beginning to see in Thailand, France and Sweden, and have been seeing for the last several hundred years in the Philippines.  If a country is roughly fifty percent Muslim and fifty percent non Muslim, like Sudan, you get a lot of bloodshed.  If it is one hundred percent Muslim, like Somalia, you are still apt to get a fair bit of bloodshed as one Islamic sect attempts to make itself the government over other Islamic sects, the main problem in Somalia at the moment being that al Qaeda trying to form a government.  At ten percent Muslim, significant bloodshed begins.  This is not a problem that government causes, except in the sense that Islam is theocratic and insists on being the government, but neither is it a problem that government can solve - observe the US government efforts to solve it in Afghanistan.

And as for the state of democracy, you see it that bad?

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

No argument here, but they can and will stretch it for a long while still, IMHO.

I estimate that the collapse comes around 2026

A republic requires a virtuous electorate.  With a decadent electorate, elections turn into advance auctions of stolen goods, which buggers up the economy, as we are now seeing, and causes the government to run out of money, or government printed money to become worthless, as we are about to see.  Eventually it comes to pass that the government cannot pay the army, or pays them in worthless money, as happened in Chile.

An officer has an obligation to obey legitimate authority.  But he also has an obligation to see his troops get paid and fed.  And so the army goes into politics, and having gone into politics, may find it difficult to get out of politics.

But how do you figure that aspects of S&T are in decline?

Cars were getting more impressive in that energy conversion technologies were converting more energy per unit mass - hotter engines.  War machines, planes, spacecraft and cars were getting faster, Now, after 1972, conversion technologies are stagnant or in decline.  Solar cells and batteries are advancing, but they are low energy density technologies.

One might suppose that they hit a natural limit, that there is only so much power you can get out of an engine, but new technologies that had promise for extreme energy density and high efficiency, such as the turbocharged two stroke diesel, are frozen with little improvement since the 1960s, arguably some regress.

it depends on what you think is "cool"; internal combustion engines have never been so efficient and the Tesla roadster is a pretty damn cool car.

Despite enormous subsidies, no one wants to buy the Tesla Roadster.  Therefore not a damn cool car.

If, however, we look backwards, we see that for all the non English speaking world, there have been lots of surprises and lots of drama.  Most governments outside the English speaking world are rather recent creations, because the previous governments collapsed, often in an unpleasant fashion, and sometimes there was a lot of unpleasantness in replacing them.

I would argue that the remarkable stability of the Anglosphere is rooted in the compromise of the restoration, which compromise has now been abandoned, hence in future we are likely to have normal levels of instability.

Not sure I follow you, particularly the Anglosphere vs rest of the world comment. Care to elaborate?

The English government claims its origin in William the conqueror, 1066, though one might suspect it originated in the restoration compromise of 1660, which makes it at least three hundred and fifty two years old, and arguably a lot older.

The US federal government claims its origin in the constitutional convention of 1787, though one might suspect it originated in Lincoln's seizure of power in 1861, which makes it at least two hundred and fifty one years old, and arguably a lot older.

Other governments around the world are for the most part less than seventy years old, and often a lot of people were killed and a lot of property destroyed in forming them.  France is on its fifth republic, fifty four years old, which is longer than most French forms of government have lasted.  The origins of the fifth republic were relatively peaceable, but the origins of the fourth republic were not so nice.

mellyrn on February 04, 2012, 10:47:00 pm
Quote
I also agree that abuse is abuse, but there IS a scale to abuse. A man/gang coming into my house, raping my wife and daughter, kidnapping/killing my sons and beating/torturing me is a whole different kind of abuse than the cop that gives me an unwarranted speeding ticket or the government raising my taxes. Therefore, I consider the (so far) minor archogenic crime I can't defend myself from, the price I pay for protection against much more serious threats that I would have a hard time defending against at present.

An unwarranted speeding ticket or a raise in taxes?  Is this a case of, "if it didn't happen to me, it didn't happen"?  Because

"Last September, Dana announced that the autopsy report showed O'Loughlin was the victim of a homicide. He said the report showed O'Loughlin sustained 12 separate injuries to his head, chest, abdomen and legs during his arrest, including the lacerated liver that caused him to bleed to death.

"'In short, Ryan was beaten to death,' Dana said at the time.

"During the arrest, Dana said, O'Loughlin never assaulted any of the officers but only refused to put his hands behind his back. He said toxicology tests showed O'Loughlin had no drugs or alcohol in his system". [emphasis added]


is, at least to me, rather more than a wrong ticket. The article explains that the grand jury declined to find the police at any fault.  And, please, this is only one of a sadly extensive collection.  Wanna hear about the guy, arrested for public drunkenness, who was pepper-sprayed to death in the police station?  How about the guy tasered (true, not lethally) by a park ranger apparently because his two little dogs weren't on a leash?  The young man who spent the night in jail because he asked a policewoman for directions, she refused, and he had the gall to then try asking her partner for directions?  The 12-year-old arrested and taken from school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk?  (These are the only sort of incidents it's OK to discuss; any mention of things like "clintoncide" or "being Wellstoned" or the curious relationship of the Bush and Hinkley families immediately triggers the "omg you are one of those conspiracy theorists!" antibodies.  Though Nixon's "enemies list" is apparently fair game.)

Then of course there's still the matter of the bailouts, imposed on us by our "representatives" despite all our efforts to say, "No, we don't want this".  That's also a bit more than an "unwarranted ticket". Consider Irish Journalist Vincent Browne Vs. The ECB: "Explain Why The Irish People Have To Bailout Billionaire Bondholders!" Why, indeed?  Does that count as an unwarranted traffic ticket or a raise in acceptable taxes?  And now there's the NDAA where the government can disappear me and even kill me on my merely being accused of "terrorism" (and, honestly, any action that would alter the status quo must be seen as terrifying to those whose fortunes depend on the status quo, sooo. . . .)  So, no, I don't think you're really considering archogenic crime in this society.  'Cos even in the worst dictatorships, most people most of the time are not directly affected by the dictator's brutality (may consider their poverty their own fault, not his), never have any dealings with the secret police nor any fear of being on the "enemies list", and probably wonder what all the fuss is supposed to be about.  Like you, they probably consider whatever they have to deal with as being "the price they pay".

And, as sam pointed out, it's governments which launch wars and, in so doing, generate threats to their own citizens that wouldn't have been there before.  Is being a real live toy soldier in some overgrown boy's RL fantasy wargame also a price you pay to "protect" you from "more serious" threats?

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As to the revolution from the bottom up, we seem to be coming back around to the question "How much blood is too much?", which I'm afraid will only not be definitively answered anytime soon..

A guy recently calculated his taxes as being about 74% of his income.  And to think that the colonists who launched the American revolution found 2% excessive.

And as to when the question "How much is too much?" will be answered, consider Romania in December of 1989 -- as the month began, things were SSDD or snafu or whatever you'd like to call it, Ceaucescu securely in power as he'd been for the last quarter-century; two weeks later, on Christmas Day, he and his wife were executed by the revolution.  Might not go that fast, as that was probably rather an outlier; nonetheless, it does show that it ain't impossible.


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I never agreed to any such deal.

Nor did I.  At least churches, if you're born to them, tend to put you through a First Communion or adult baptism or the like, where you do agree to the deal.  A human society requires that you not gratuitously beat up ("harm") other members of the society.  What can authentically be demanded beyond that?

sam on February 04, 2012, 11:30:52 pm
Then of course there's still the matter of the bailouts, imposed on us by our "representatives" despite all our efforts to say, "No, we don't want this".  That's also a bit more than an "unwarranted ticket". Consider Irish Journalist Vincent Browne Vs. The ECB: "Explain Why The Irish People Have To Bailout Billionaire Bondholders!" Why, indeed? 

Digressing, bailouts are bad because they encourage politically influential lenders who lend to politically influential borrowers, or politically important voting blocks, or both, to lend irresponsibly.  A bailout today guarantees that a bigger bailout will be demanded tomorrow.  If you think the recent crisis was a lot of money, wait till next time.

Similarly, a business bankruptcy is supposed to transfer assets and manpower from unproductive use to productive use.  In the GM bankruptcy, what should have happened is that the factories should have been sold to a car maker who believed he could use them to make a profit.  Instead, GM is still running under the old management and the union who ran it into the ground in the first place, and who are now busily running it into the ground all over again.

Homer2101 on February 06, 2012, 05:24:11 pm
I am not going to reply to all the points individually. I wrote up individual responses for some of them, but the results were even more repetitive than usual and not very interesting. So I will instead try to address the big points in one more or less coherent post, and if there is anything I have missed, please say so and I will respond to the point in question as best I can.

Mellyrn, we seem to be at risk of getting into a circular argument over whether the state or private entities kill more people. It's not an argument I want to get into, not so much because it's circular but because I never argued that a state apparatus would always be peaceful, or that government would always be benevolent. I am not that naive. Both individuals and states kill people; I won't go into numbers because it's a futile exercise. The website you linked earlier proves the point -- was Genghis Khan really a state actor, or was he a very effective leader who unified a nomadic people much as individuals attract followers today, save on a much greater scale? The answer is entirely meaningless. I suppose I view the state as sort of like a firearm -- it's a neutral tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, good, neutral, and bad.

I do argue that institutionalized methods of dispute resolution are essential in a modern industrial society. The nature of the mechanism does not matter, but its presence and legitimacy do matter quite a bit. On a theoretical level, dispute resolution that does not involve one party coercing the other is a form of cooperative behavior. Cooperation as a rule requires (1) symmetry of power and (2) iterative interaction between participants. Axelrod'sEvolution of Cooperation is one of the definitive theoretical texts on cooperative behavior, and the wiki article links to the paper on which the book is based, so I won't make a hash of trying to summarize why iterative behavior is important here. I will say that symmetry of power is important because if the power balance is heavily skewed towards one party in a dispute, the more-powerful party has little reason to cooperate in order to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome, absent other considerations which alter the cost-benefit calculus.

In practice, this means that while a dispute between neighbors can usually be resolved peacefully and to mutual advantage without involving a third party, disputes between relative strangers or between parties of asymmetric power can require some dispute resolution mechanism. And even well-meaning individuals might have trouble resolving their differences. I raised earlier the example of how "harm" can be interpreted in different ways in situations which are all to common in industrial society, to the point where one party might not even think it is causing any sort of harm.

A legal system establishes a basic set of rules for such disputes, whether through precedent or laws, but it must maintain the appearance of fairness and impartiality, else it becomes perceived as a Dickensian domain of drunk judges, biased juries, and soulless attorneys selling "justice" to the highest bidder. But fun descriptions aside, point is that a complex society needs a commonly-accepted dispute resolution mechanism that is seen as legitimate -- as impartial and fair. Not everyone has to agree that it is fair, and the losing party will almost always complain about the injustice of it all, but that's a universal aspect of every system of dispute resolution.

That sort of dispute resolution system as far as I am concerned will not be any different from a state, because it still involves an entity legitimizing one party's use of force against another in order to enforce an outcome it deems fair. Such a system would also homogenize a society's "rules," to borrow Mellyrn's terminology, at least within its jurisdiction so long as decisions create precedent. It might be a very amorphous, minimalist state, but a state nonetheless. How fair such a system will be in an an-cap depends on its particulars, same as for any real-life justice system. In sum, at the local level individuals do resolve disputes on their own; but that doesn't happen in many cases, which is why parties seek arbitration, or mediation, or go to court, and will seek to do so regardless of the type of government they live under, or whether there is a government at all.

Certain problems posed by modern industrial society may also be better solved in advance, rather than by waiting for a harm to manifest so that the mechanisms of traditional litigation (or arbitration, or whatever else) may be invoked. Apologies to macstafu for not fully addressing his earlier point. It would be more correct to say that the solutions, or lack thereof, offered by the market have been consistently rejected by the people of every industrial society. I find many of Marx's theories naive, but his writings illustrate very well the complaints many people had against the near-unrestricted capitalism of the mid-nineteenth century; they are well-worth reading, if only for a historical perspective. Much of the legislation enacted under pressure from the Progressive movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States was a response to the inequities and problems posed by the free market. Modern environmental legislation is a response to the perceived inadequacies of litigation as deterrent to harmful behavior. We may see new workplace legislation and stricter enforcement of such rules in China within the next decade.

A society might find the negative effects of unrestricted capitalism acceptable, of course. But historically that hasn't been the case.

I do not argue that everything a government does will always be good, or that every problem can be solved by more legislation or additional state intervention. In many cases state intervention causes more harm than good. But in many cases the state prevents greater harm as well. Ostrom's Governing the Commons provides an interesting perspective on how people solve common-pool-resource problems using mixed public-private approaches.

State violence against its own citizens is frequently brought up here. Unfortunately, we do not know how much violence the state prevents in developed countries, since there's no available example of a working industrial society that's not covered by a state as far as I am aware. We do know that breakdown of state authority is associated with significant increase in violence by private entities against individuals and other entities, whether it is the complete breakdown of state authority in Somalia, or lack of enforcement in early 90s Russia or in some inner cities of the United States during that same time period.

The cost of having a state under a democratic government is the need for eternal vigilance against unacceptable use of the state's police powers. The cost of not having a state is the potential for violence and the lack of a framework by which to address various problems that the market doesn't solve adequately. It is, yet again, a matter of costs and benefits. My own experience growing up in Russia following the dissolution of the USSR is that people will embrace an autocrat if he protects them from random violence, doubly so if the autocrat also promises economic stability; for all the talk of democracy in Iraq, quite a few Iraqis are very ambivalent about the whole concept -- people did not have to worry about sectarian death squads or bombs under Saddam, since Saddam's brand of violence tended to be fairly rational and systemic. Of course, the degree of violence expected under in a developed society that embraces an-cap depends heavily on assumptions. A society composed of individuals who all seek to be left alone and who strive to avoid harming others doesn't need laws or rules; in my experience people can ostensibly "harm" one another even when their goals are commendable.

That about summarizes my argument, and I hope also addresses all of the responses. To repeat: I am not arguing that more laws are thee answer to all of our problems. Most problems faced by society can and should be solved at the local level, sometimes by deciding to not do anything at all. But there are times when the state's intervention is desirable. Similarly, I am not arguing that states are nonviolent, but rather that experience so far suggests that when subject to appropriate institutional and social safeguards, a state is fairly good at severely reducing or eliminating violence, mitigating conflict, and resolving problems.



I won't go into detail explaining why it's not a problem if a voter only agrees with his chosen candidate some of the time, and is possibly a good thing. Federalist No.10 was written by a very smart person struggling with the problem of how to get people of contrary interests to exhibit cooperative behavior, and how to avoid both autocracy and mob rule in the process. Considering how the past two hundred years turned out, he seems to have been on to something. Aldrich's Why Parties is probably more interesting, if only because he uses modern English language; he recently published a follow-up book which I will have to pick up at some point. Fact of the matter is that sometimes elected officials have to make choices the electorate overwhelmingly does not support, in order to avoid outcomes the electorate also does not support. Sometimes a representative will have multiple constituencies, especially in a two-party system where both parties are large umbrella organizations. Perhaps more importantly, we elect officials to run the country; if they mess up, we usually toss them out, at least in the developed world.

Also going to avoid discussing legitimacy of political systems. So much has been written on the subject that it's easier to just suggest using JSTOR or Ovid or another similar database.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 05:34:12 pm by Homer2101 »

SandySandfort on February 06, 2012, 07:00:33 pm
Mellyrn, we seem to be at risk of getting into a circular argument over whether the state or private entities kill more people. It's not an argument I want to get into, not so much because it's circular but because I never argued that a state apparatus would always be peaceful, or that government would always be benevolent.

How in the heck is there a circular argument here? A circular argument assumes what it is attempting to prove. Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_reasoning then check back with us.

A conservative estimate of the number of people killed during the 20th Century, by state action not including war, is 170,000,000. Do you really think that private murders killed even 1% as many people? Proportionality is highly relevant when the numbers are so damning.


sam on February 06, 2012, 11:19:19 pm
I will say that symmetry of power is important because if the power balance is heavily skewed towards one party in a dispute, the more-powerful party has little reason to cooperate

And since these days, most of our interactions are with the state, this seems like a pretty good argument for anarchy.

In practice, I and the merchant I do business with have a fairly symmetric relationship with Visa and Mastercard, since if Visa pisses on either merchants or customers, it goes out of business.  So Visa arbitration is fast, cheap, efficient, and fair (well it is pretty unfair if, as with many internet transactions, there is no real documentation, but that cannot be helped)

Because the state is so much more powerful, it can piss on both merchants and customers, and, lo and behold, that is exactly what it does.  Most people are reasonably happy with Visa arbitration.  No one is ever happy with small claims court arbitration.


mellyrn on February 07, 2012, 06:58:28 am
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My own experience growing up in Russia following the dissolution of the USSR is that

of a woman -- a very old woman at that -- who has lived her entire waking life wearing a corset, who one day decides not to.  She finds she can't, she physically can't support her own trunk.

To conclude from the chaos of the collapse of a restrictive system that restrictive systems are "necessary" to prevent social chaos, is functionally equivalent to concluding that corsets are "necessary" to women's structural support.

You asked how we get to an anarchy.  Part of that is going to have to be a kind of rehab, as the corset-shedding woman needs.  It should actually be easier than physical rehab, though.  Get people to recognize that 99.44% [I keep using that figure, hoping someone will catch the reference, but oh well] of everything they do is done pretty much without any reference to the state machinery at all -- that they already are standing on their own two social feet without holding on to Big Brother's finger -- and then they can walk away free.

macsnafu on February 07, 2012, 10:48:33 am


I do argue that institutionalized methods of dispute resolution are essential in a modern industrial society. The nature of the mechanism does not matter, but its presence and legitimacy do matter quite a bit. On a theoretical level, dispute resolution that does not involve one party coercing the other is a form of cooperative behavior. Cooperation as a rule requires (1) symmetry of power and (2) iterative interaction between participants. Axelrod'sEvolution of Cooperation is one of the definitive theoretical texts on cooperative behavior, and the wiki article links to the paper on which the book is based, so I won't make a hash of trying to summarize why iterative behavior is important here. I will say that symmetry of power is important because if the power balance is heavily skewed towards one party in a dispute, the more-powerful party has little reason to cooperate in order to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome, absent other considerations which alter the cost-benefit calculus.

In practice, this means that while a dispute between neighbors can usually be resolved peacefully and to mutual advantage without involving a third party, disputes between relative strangers or between parties of asymmetric power can require some dispute resolution mechanism. And even well-meaning individuals might have trouble resolving their differences. I raised earlier the example of how "harm" can be interpreted in different ways in situations which are all to common in industrial society, to the point where one party might not even think it is causing any sort of harm.

A legal system establishes a basic set of rules for such disputes, whether through precedent or laws, but it must maintain the appearance of fairness and impartiality, else it becomes perceived as a Dickensian domain of drunk judges, biased juries, and soulless attorneys selling "justice" to the highest bidder. But fun descriptions aside, point is that a complex society needs a commonly-accepted dispute resolution mechanism that is seen as legitimate -- as impartial and fair. Not everyone has to agree that it is fair, and the losing party will almost always complain about the injustice of it all, but that's a universal aspect of every system of dispute resolution.


An anarchic system can also have a legal system.  A common or customary legal system is largely based on precedent.  How good is a dispute resolution system if the arbitrator can override both of the disputing parties and make whatever decision it wants that is enforced on both parties.  Does the "symmetry of power" have no meaning when it comes to the arbitrator himself?
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

Eonknight on February 07, 2012, 02:45:11 pm
Sam:
I never said you personally agreed to any deal. This is like me saying I did not personally cause any direct tort to the Amerindians or the Africans. We all inherit both the good and the bad that our forefathers did. This argument would carry more weight if we were "building" a society, but we are looking at "renovations".
And everything costs enormously more, etc. because the world has changed, and the government and it's role changed (read expanded exponentially). Not justifying, here, mind you, merely explaining. And I never said the existing system was perfect (in fact, reading back, I expressly stated that the system was full of bugs and something needed to be done). "Questioning" one system is not an automatic endorsement of another system.

And if the fact that North America is doing better than the great majority of the world's countries is not an impressive recommendation, what would be?  :)  But I will repeat here that the fact that we're presently doing arguably better than most of the rest of the world does not mean the system is flawless, not by any measure.

I definitely do not have access to any information that would allow me to calculate when North America's collapse will happen with any semblance of credibility, so I won't argue your figure. But I will say that ANY political/social structure requires a virtuous membership to work as designed (I mean, do you seriously see ANYONE, having Tobi's level of power, voluntarily use the "headbomb"? I certainly don't, not for many generations to come)

Again, measure of coolness is subjective. You say no one wants to buy the Tesla roadster, but this $100,000-plus car, using relatively unproven technology from a brand new firm that has no history to sell on managed to deliver 1500 cars to 30 countries in 6 years, with the first 200 cars sold out in just about a year from the introduction of the prototype. No too bad, I would say. As for the "hotter engines" being more efficient (unless I did not understand your statement) in the 70'S-80's, again, I would have to double check, but I think that the recent direct injection engines put out more HP per liter of displacement than was thought possible in the 80's.

Mellyrn,
For some reason, I have the feeling I offended you. If I did, I am sorry. Please believe I never intended to.
I never said anywhere that police abuse did not exist. But I think the events you refer to, while they are very real and unacceptable, are "anecdotal" when you look at the big picture. Out of the hundreds of thousands of police interventions that occur daily, from traffic tickets to drug busts and the rest, these abuses are relatively rare. Think of the bad rap Harley riders have suffered (and to a degree still suffer) because of Hells Angels and other criminal gangs. However, I don't have the statistics on hand to back my opinion. I'll try a few searches if I have time...

Contrary to any dictatorship, I am not afraid when my children walk to school, and I am not afraid when I have to call the cops because of a stupid and dangerous neighbor. I can say from personal experiences and from first person accounts that life in a dictator-run country is very much about constantly looking over your shoulder and watching what you say. They very much consider their situation not like a "price they pay", but like a "the first chance I get that has more than XX% chance of success, I'm out of here!". So I guess our experiences differ on that level.

Again, you seem to be thinking that because I nuance my opinions, I automatically think our system is good enough the way it is and doesn't need to be improved/changed. This is not the case, I assure you.

Mr Sandfort, I am very interested to read on that estimate; can you point me in the right direction?

At any rate, this is a very interesting and instructive discussion, on an interesting and entertaining comic. This discussion would deserve much more study than what my 5 children (4 of whom are under 10) and sometimes more-than-full-time job afford me.  :)
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 02:49:46 pm by Eonknight »

SandySandfort on February 07, 2012, 03:00:48 pm
An anarchic system can also have a legal system.  A common or customary legal system is largely based on precedent.  How good is a dispute resolution system if the arbitrator can override both of the disputing parties and make whatever decision it wants that is enforced on both parties.  Does the "symmetry of power" have no meaning when it comes to the arbitrator himself?

You could have an appeal system for a trial de novo or other review procedures.

P.S. Ivory soap is (was?) 99.44% pure. The actual words used in TV commercials was (is?), "Ivory soap is ninety-nine and forty-four one hundredths percent pure." Porn star, Marilyn Chambers, was the model for the original box illustration--before she was a porn star.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 03:08:55 pm by SandySandfort »

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on February 07, 2012, 03:40:42 pm
My own experience growing up in Russia following the dissolution of the USSR is that

of a woman -- a very old woman at that -- who has lived her entire waking life wearing a corset, who one day decides not to.  She finds she can't, she physically can't support her own trunk.

To conclude from the chaos of the collapse of a restrictive system that restrictive systems are "necessary" to prevent social chaos, is functionally equivalent to concluding that corsets are "necessary" to women's structural support.

You asked how we get to an anarchy.  Part of that is going to have to be a kind of rehab, as the corset-shedding woman needs.  It should actually be easier than physical rehab, though.  Get people to recognize that 99.44% [I keep using that figure, hoping someone will catch the reference, but oh well] of everything they do is done pretty much without any reference to the state machinery at all -- that they already are standing on their own two social feet without holding on to Big Brother's finger -- and then they can walk away free.

I prefer the metaphor of someone with a large tumor; one sufficiently large that removing it immediately would be life threatening -- both because of the structure it provides and because it is tightly entwined with healthy tissue.   In such a case, the recommended treatment is to use other methods (radiation, chemotherapy) to reduce the size prior to excising it.

This, I propose, provides a good model for how to deal with the problem -- assuming of course we want the patient to survive (at some point that might not be an option, but "starting over from scratch" has many more risks).

The short term goal needs to be to shrink, but not yet eliminate, government.  As it shrinks over time (and I think the time needs to measured in years, but hopefully not decades), it will be replaced with healthy structures.  I would concentrate on first eliminating regulation (including laws against consensual activity), then reducing non-defense military and internal social programs (the former faster than the latter), using the savings to cover debt, replace the criminal legal system with civil penalties, then transitioning defense directly to the citizenry and and finally completing the privatization of the court system. 

In the US, I would also use the existing 50-state infrastructure to decentralize these responsibilities along with that; as this occurs, each state can be reduced in parallel but at rates controlled locally.

Of course, a lot more detail is needed.  For example, as regulation is removed, regulation which prohibits or restricts private competition with regulation, e.g., private certifications would need to be removed before the base regulations are removed entirely; this will allow government experts to transition to the private sector and also reduce egregiously dangerous actions due to the sudden absence of any sort of regulatory guarantees at all.

This would, of course, need to be monitored and adjusted as the process of government shrinkage continues; as far as I know there is no concrete model of this approach being used and unforeseen  problems will undoubtedly crop up and need to be addressed.


 

anything