What If You Had To Explain 21st Century Humanity to a Smart Alien?

I went through about a half-dozen potential post titles and that one remained A in the A/B self-mental test, throughout. So there. And yes, I do have a next post in the series we've been commenting about (Whooooooa! 655 and still trickling), but I require more deliberation before I put it out there. So I'm taking a break of sorts.

As someone who writes probably more than a writer who makes a real living at it, I've had a number of fiction books in the back of my head for years, now. One of them, in general, is contact with an alien civilization who visits us...and rather than try to take us over, destroy us, eat us, or whatever...what if they were smarter, more enlightened, more peaceful...more anarchist, than us? In fact, so much more enlightened, that our behavior—to them—is tantamount to what we observe in the wild, when we watch The Animal Channel, Discovery, Science, etc?

This, in essence, is why I don't think we would ever be contacted by anyone with the means to do so. Why in the hell would they bother? Do you have envy of walking into the jungle, trying to strike up a conversation with chimps? And even supposing you could, what would you have to gain vs. what it would cost you...and I dunno, but I'm assuming that intergalactic travel, if even possible, is damn bloody expensive in terms of time and expense: i.e., conscious lives.

So let's suspend disbelief and imagine what it might be like if a civilization so advanced as to be able to do so, really did contact us. I've watched and laughed about 3 times; but then, I have a geek streak in me, and I have more time on my hands than most, I suppose. But I think it might make you think.

Did it make you think a bit, raise questions? Did it queue the ironic in you?

...So that's the more or less practical. In other words, the alien is appealing to an enlightened sense of ethics and morality, and finds it perplexing that the practicalities don't really follow from stated premises. This is at base a lesson in proclaiming allegiance to values you think are cool & all, when convenient, but aren't really to be followed when you get a reward when you don't, or it costs you more to do so than not. That's probably human nature, which is why we really have only societal evolution to count on. Hopefully, refraining from killing, stealing and enslaving in the context of human conscious intelligence turns out to be the best selection strategy in the long run, but we'll have to see.

The alien is a practical guy. But, he's dealing with primitives, and zeros in on contradictions that go wholly unanswered or resolved. So, to solve that little dilemma, here is exactly and precisely what the alien is talking about from his enlightened, universal-rational perspective.

So the comment threads are open, as always, and I welcome all challengers—unmoderated—as always.

Comments

  1. Ernest Fata says:

    Total agreement. There is no cohesive moral argument to make in support of government. I’m a huge fan of the fact that your bullshit detector does not stop functioning when it comes to the mystical state. Keep the anarchist posts coming, keep them pissed.

  2. Gordon says:

    “Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves – or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.”
    Ayn Rand

    Vive la révolution!

  3. If government were just another business, they would have gone out of business a long long long time ago. Yet they are still here and growing in power. Why do we not hold them up to the same standards we expect in the rest of our lives?

    What makes us sheeple so afraid of giving government the bird?

    J Stanton said it best. We don’t get what we deserve. We get what we are barely willing to tolerate.

    • JS is shortsighted (respectful disagreement). We deserve only the minimally tolerable.

      • Shortsighted is a long way from my perception of JS based on online discussions I’ve had with him. But then I haven’t had your discussions with him, so agree to disagree.

        What do you mean by we deserve only the minimally tolerable? I read it as “We made our bed, now lie in it”, but I’m pretty sure I’ve missed the mark.

      • Uh, Bixy, perhaps you could settle down an let a friend jab another?

        We’re guys. We do that shit.

      • Ha ha no worries, I am terrible at taking shit too literally in print. Need to remind myself of this from time to time…or you could do it for me :)

  4. Who pays for the care of those in need through no fault of their own?

    • Ernest Fata says:

      Those willing to take on the burden peacefully. The reality is that governments, from the very beginning, have been a mechanism for the strong to take from the needy. Look at the world we live in.

    • What does “fault” have to do with anything?

      Besides, why is the payee at “fault” in your scenario?

      • … or the payeer?

      • I was distinguishing between scroungers and the genuine needy.
        What if nobody was willing to take on the burden voluntarily?
        I disagree that governments have been a mechanism for the strong to take from the needy.

        Political beliefs are like religious beliefs – based on opinion. Opinions are like anuses – everybody has one and everybody thinks that everybody else’s stink.

      • “I disagree that governments have been a mechanism for the strong to take from the needy.”

        Oh, that’s brainy.

        How long did it take you to figure out that politicians don’t go where the money is not, Nigel?

      • Ooh, about…

        Anyway, I’m not going to pursue this topic, as I remember what happened the last time. I mentioned politics once, but I think I got away with it!

      • Not all politicians are as bent as nine-bob notes. I detect bias.

        The political system in the US is riddled with corruption, which is why you lot are so pissed about it.

      • Adam J. says:

        Mr. Kinbrum,

        Pursuing such a complex discussion in a realm where there’s already an almost religious, orthodox view of Government as this elusive, higher evil power — when private enterprise can be/and is just as rampant — remains futile in venture.

        I keep hearing about all government being bad. All politicians being bad. Taking from the poor and weak. Let’s see now. . . I’ve run into plenty who’ve probably been — in time of need — actually supported by ‘teh ebul guberment’ while getting shafted by some opportunistic capitalist. Can we start using that line of observation to support a diametrically opposite thinking = all private enterprise is BAAD?

        I wish people would actually listen to you rather than the sub-text mandate of the status quo of ‘Anarchism’. Anarchism needs to be rescued from such over-simplistic thinking before it becomes bird food for the philosophical mediocrity.

      • “Pursuing such a complex discussion in a realm where there’s already an almost religious, orthodox view of Government as this elusive, higher evil power — when private enterprise can be/and is just as rampant — remains futile in venture.”

        Ah, so nice you have poison for the well in your first paragraph of your first comment.

        It might interest you to know that my record of writing about corporatism is pretty damn solid.

        What’s amusing about you is that you’re years away from realizing they’re the same thing.

        But hey, if you begin like that, then to your own ignorance you go.

      • MissBrooks says:

        Actually, there’s history providing empirical evidence on which to base one’s political beliefs, unlike religion.

      • The goodness/badness of all historical events is subjective.
        Do you consider WWII as being good or bad?

      • MissBrooks says:

        To some extent, yes. But to apply that to all events is to be willfully blind to the fact that some actions are good, and some are bad. Which they are. And some political implementations have universally bad outcomes, such as communism.

        Do you mean the whole war? What aspect of the war?

      • WWII started with the invasion of Poland by German & then Soviet forces ultimately controlled by a bunch of megalomaniacs.

        Was it wrong or right to declare war on Germany?

      • “Was it wrong or right to declare war on Germany?”

        For and to whom?

      • Was it wrong or right for the Allies to declare war on Germany?

        “to whom?” What?

      • I’m not in a position to say, if you’re asking me personally and that’s the only one I can speak for. I wasn’t there. It certainly would have been wrong to involve me in it against my will.

      • There’s no way of knowing what might have happened if enough people in Allied countries had not been conscripted/drafted.

        I believe that the outcome would have been bad for Europeans.

      • “I believe that the outcome would have been bad for Europeans.”

        How ironic then.

        A monster like Hitler, or any of the other democidal monsters of history that killed upwards of 170,000,000 of their own citizens (excluding war!)…

        http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

        …doesn’t just magically happen. It’s the natural result of collectivist tendencies people seduce themselves with, where at base, everyone attempts to live at the expense of everyone else.

        And then when nature takes its course and the shit hits the fan, they continue right down that same path of living at the expense of others to the ultimate only recourse: get huge numbers of young men killed to save their sorry asses.

      • Madmen can be extremely persuasive. There have been several.

        1) All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. This is why there is conscription/drafting.

        2) You knew exactly where my questions were heading. You evaded answering the question “Was it wrong or right to declare war on Germany?” with “wrong” or “right”. I say “right”. Sadly, many good men died doing the right thing.

        You have become just like a politician. Now that’s ironic.

      • I don’t speak for other people, Nigel. You do, just like politicians.

        All that’s required is for good men to do nothing? So how come they didn’t let it go at that, hope there were enough of these men to volunteer, and let the chips fall where they may? Who needs a bromide like that when you can simply force people to die for the state?

      • I don’t know. Where human nature is concerned, anything is possible.

        You’re still evading answering the “Declaring war on Germany: wrong or right?” question. I’ll leave it there. I got away with it once. I don’t think I’ll get away with it twice.

      • Yep, I evade speaking for others where I have no right to do so, Nigel.

        You got me.

        You go ahead, even for the thousands of British soldiers who died, many of whom never even got to see what it was like to tongue a pussy and see it, and the connected body respond in a glorious way.

        Hope you memorial services assuage the conscience. They owed you’ I guess,

      • A lot of the 170 million deaths were not by democratically-elected governments, at a time when the world’s population was much lower.

      • That’s a relief. We’ll always count on you to be an apologist for the rest of the despotic murderers, K Niel?…because no comfort at the expense of others and their one and only life is too great for you.

      • Eh? My argument is that your argument is invalid. Humans have been slaughtering lots of other humans long before democratic governments existed. It’s human nature. Why do you not “get” it?

      • Eh?

      • You wrote “That’s a relief. We’ll always count on you to be an apologist for the rest of the despotic murderers, K Niel?”
        Richard, I know that “eloquent” isn’t my middle name (it’s “pithy”) but how in the name of everything that’s wholly did you interpret my preceding comment as an apology to despotic murderers? seriously, WTF?

        You interpret everything that I write in the worst possible way. I’ll leave it to marie, Adam J, Geoff, Nick, Samson, Robert, Montaigne et al to thrust & parry with you on this subject from now on.

        I didn’t expect anybody to stick-up for me in this discussion. And if that isn’t the most blatant cue ever for a witty one-liner, I don’t know what is!

      • “You interpret everything that I write in the worst possible way.”

        You clearly haven’t considered all the ways you could be interpreted.

        How’s that?

      • “You clearly haven’t considered all the ways you could be interpreted.”
        I’d have to be a mind-reader to do that.

      • Well, you said I always interpret you in the worst possible way….

      • I see what you did, there…

      • Nigel, pithy works just fine and a big thank you for it.
        You said it somewhere back there :
        “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing”.
        End of story.

      • Adam J. says:

        History is a coverage of facts — often slanted and debatable.

        The theories that resonate from those facts are often controversial and at conflict. We’re back to ideology, JUST like religion.

        Later.

      • “Later”

        Promise?

    • Nigel:

      Is your desire to help those in need so very great as to cause and motivate you to actually get up off your ass, step outside, reach into your pocket–maybe even provide some rational counsel. Or, is it only so great as to rally, vote, cheer and admonish others to do so?

      • I’m helping people in my own nerdy way.
        I blog about some of the things that go on in the world and some of the things that I do, to try to make the world a better place for those less fortunate than me.
        That’s a not very subtle hint, Richard!

      • BigRob says:

        Great point Richard.

        Often the people talking about the needy, through no fault of their own, getting government help are the same ones not going out and doing shit to help anyone.

        Not speaking about you Nigel.

      • I should have been more pithy:

        Is your desire to help others so great as to actually help them, or only so great as to force others to do so?

      • Speaking for myself, the concept of a social safety net is less about my desire to help those in need and more about my desire to not die were I to end up in that position as a result of circumstances outside of my control (or within my control I suppose). It’s also a logistical solution to crime reduction.

        We can only do so much to prevent immoral actors from committing crimes, but the crimes that we definitely can prevent are those are done of of necessity. If someone is dirt poor, unable to feed his kids or pay for the surgery to fix his kid’s broken femur, he will do whatever it takes to prevent his kids from dying. I don’t want to die in a bank robbery that is a result of this type of situation. So in the same way that legalizing and taxing drugs is a more effective policy for dealing with the externalities of drug use than, for example, a “war on drugs,” an adequate level of social safety net is a more effective policy for lowering crime than taking that money and spending it on beefing up police presence.

        I go into more detail on this subject in my blog post here: http://www.armchairphilosophizing.com/2011/08/designing-moral-government-part-2.html. Would love to hear your thoughts.

      • I am helping people. How are you helping people?

      • Hey’ I’m helping yu even, Nigel. Otherwise you wouldn’t even be here.

      • Lol! Good point (and well made).

      • P.S. I hope I’ve helped you, too!

      • Of course. I like robust comments.

    • Jennifer says:

      “The small minority of adults who are unable rather than unwilling to work, have to rely on voluntary charity; misfortune is not a claim to slave labor; there is no such thing as the right to consume, control, and destroy those without whom one would be unable to survive.”-Ayn Rand| Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 26

      And charity funded through theft is NOT charity….just sayin;-)

      And IMO those in need through NO fault of their own is a very small number. Most people are in need due to poor choices.

      • Sure, such as the poor choice to work for a large company for 20 years and get laid off in their fifties when hardest to get re-employed, in the middle of a recession no less. Or perhaps the poor choice to live in a country with no universal health care so that a cancer in the family exceeds either the private insurance cap that they had or they can’t afford the 80/20 split, either way causing bankruptcy (the majority of bankruptcies in this country are from medical expenses) and reliance on local bake-sale or kid’s team fund drive even to survive.
        These are my neighbors, my coworkers, my friends, my kids’ parents. But I guess that’s my poor choice in my living environment. As is my poor choice to volunteer in inner city schools twice a month for science outreach, seeing first hand the poor choices of those kids born into violent, poor, drug-infested environments.

      • Typo: “my kids’ parents” would be like one of those children’s puzzles :-).
        It should read : “my kids’ friends’ parents”.

      • It’s not just about poor choices. Circumstances are plain adverse. Shit happens.

        None of that implies a mortgage on my life or anyone else’s . Nor do my misfortunes have anything to do with anyone else.

      • Agreed.
        At issue was only the Reason for not supporting a social safety net.
        There are several ethically sound and logically coherent reasons to support a safety net or to Not support one, “it’s their fault” just isn’t one of them.

      • The poor choice comes in working for a company for 20 years and NOT putting money aside. My folks taught me something when I was young, and that was that of every dollar I make, the first 10 cents goes to the Lord (or charity, if you prefer) and the second 10 cents goes in the bank for hard times.

        As for universal healthcare, it’s a joke. Even if it were as efficient and cost-effective to let a group of bureaucrats run everyone’s healthcare (big damn if) instead of doctors, nurses, and patients, it would still be wrong because the guidelines they put out for what you can and can’t eat as well as things like when and how you should exercise are WRONG. And if you don’t follow those WRONG rules, you go to the back of line for treatment.

        Your comment also ignores the simple fact that this recession was made by poor governmental decisions over areas of our lives that they are neither qualified nor authorized to control. If the government weren’t allowed to poke its over-long nose and grubby fat fingers into our lives, recessions, depressions, over-regulation, and over-taxation simply wouldn’t be happening.

      • Who said they didn’t put money aside, what an assumption! And much more than that 10c per dollar in the bank for hard times. Remember that Hard times extend indefinitely at that age, the only jobs available become service jobs and while those help, it’s nowhere near enough to keep the house AND to put 3 kids through college AND deal with any medical problems (too young for medicare) etc. Hard times? Yes, quite.
        I agree absolutely that this recession was made by poor governmental decisions – we just disagree on what we can do prevent that : you want to abolish or limit government as a whole, where I want people to be involved in government and pay attention to proposed legislation in order to make government work for US.
        We are lucky enough to live in a country whose very constitution is actually set-up to work for us and with checks and balances that Allow us to direct government, if only we exercised those rights!

      • . . . as if sending your kids to college is a right . . .what a joke,

        guess that’s the government’s job too . .

        maybe you should set your expectations of what you and your family deserve down a notch, you wouldn’t feel so cheated

      • Wow. Did you bother reading any of the arguments by any of us above, or are you just trying to find an opportunity to get in some personal snide remarks.
        We were talking about many people, colleagues, neighbors and friends.
        The whole point being that these aren’t isolated instances anymore.

        Which brings to mind the phrase ” there, but for the grace of God, go I ” .

        Sorry to disappoint you, I can’t feel cheated myself, I have a secure job, extensive personal/family resources and no expectations other than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
        Those rights that are being eroded every year by apathy, ignorance and fear/hate.

      • then give them a hand . . .sacrifice

        the government’s bankrupt . . .but apparently it doesn’t stop folks from asking for more . .as long as they continue on with the phony american dream

      • O.k., I give-in. That must be what we’re talking about, people asking for handouts.
        Well I don’t know any, so I can’t speak to that.

      • You know, it just didn’t occur to me that people would put money aside to send their kids to school. It’s not part of my family culture and I didn’t think of it. So, I’m sorry for that.
        However, having said that, if you’re up against hard times, why on earth would you? I don’t see why a young adult can’t pay their own way through, by getting loans, scholarships, grants, joining the military, or whatever other way they want to pay for themselves. The idea of extending childhood/adolescence into the mid-20s is one I’ve never understood. I can understand why someone else would make that choice, but it IS a choice and they have to live with the consequences.

        Everyone goes through hard times, and the question is how you deal with them. I’m going through my own hard times, but I’m not going to toss the sob story up here, because it’s irrelevant. My hard times are not a bill I can present to someone else. They are MINE. And as sorry as I am for your friend who’s obviously got trouble, that trouble is not a claim check he can present and demand that others take care of him.

        I’m looking at the overall picture here, and that is that commodities are not, CANNOT BE, rights. If a commodity is a right then all commodities can be declared rights, and we’ve gone from being a group of free and independent creatures to being slaves to the people with the worst troubles. And I’m not a fan of that plan. I’d rather sink or swim on my own, or with the voluntary help of people who care about me.

      • +1^2

      • Which is still 1, just fatter.

      • Besides which, Andrea, I think college is way overrated in many areas. Sure, probably the best way to get started in science or medicine, but is an enormous waste of time and money for a whole lot of people.

        I’ve yet to see a smart motivated person not do well in life who didn’t have a college education or even who didn’t finish high school in many cases.

      • Andrea and Richard, thanks for bringing this discussion back on track.
        What can I say, we can all still find service jobs, Unskilled ones still account for about 35% of those still around, or maybe go for Unskilled farm labor.
        The vast majority of our modern, ‘knowledge-based’ economy now requires a college education (you know, the ‘information age’ that has us all able to discuss this on the net :-). This trend is increasing, globally (nope, we can’t move somewhere else). But you know that, because you do have the internet and can pop up those numbers any time.
        And you know it ‘personally’…because you see that laptop, that cell-phone, that central heat, car, plane etc. etc…
        So while we let our knowledge base erode (because yes, of course we can, temporarily) the innovations that drive every next industry vanish and so there go the service jobs too – who does the store-owner sell to in 5 years? Not the farmer anymore (that worked up to a hundred years ago), and less and less the manufacturing worker (we’re out of those too, that worked up to maybe 40 years ago)…. This is happening to us, now.
        Yet, college tuition has Tripled in the last 10 years alone. So much for funding that on scholarships and part-time work (as I did, back in the day).
        I know, my grand-father too made good with only a partial high-school, education. So did most people back then.
        The times, they are-a-changing :-)

      • Thank you for that Andrea and let me say, you’re eloquent, so it makes it interesting to discuss with you even though (maybe especially though) we clearly disagree at a fundamental level.
        So let me ask you, say you, personally, received now money from a government safety-net, some of which or maybe all of which (depending how long you’d worked and at what pay level) you had payed for.
        That’s how any government safety-net works, right? It’s the broadest-based insurance so we get that economy of scale, otherwise such insurance is prohibitively expensive.
        Well, if you received that money now during your hard times, getting relief from livelihood stress for a while, would you perhaps be able to focus on starting a small business, say something you’ve always been good at, or maybe learn a trade (you might already know a lot of it, but that certificate or degree is now required to land you the job), or….move somewhere you happen to know your skill or unskilled labor is in demand?
        Or would you “sit on your butt” until that assistance runs out?
        And if you would indeed do any of those things or something else to help you get back to being productive, do you think Most other people wouldn’t?
        And do you think that helping people to get back to being productive is about charity, kindness, or such? Consider maybe that it could be Primarily about our own self-interest, because they shop from us, or hire us, or provide us with goods or services that we use. We’re all connected, so “sinking or swimming on my own” doesn’t seem to work anymore. When you sink, especially when many sink, I drown, and vice-versa.

      • Marie, your assumptions seem to be that a) giving money to the government to hang onto is like putting it in the bank for a rainy day, and b) charity and government money are the same thing.

        Paying into the government “safety net,” I would certainly have been forced to hand over more than they are going to give back to me. The people who contribute the most to those schemes get the least out of them, generally speaking.
        If I make about $40,000 a year, and have been for 10 years, and am paying almost 40% in taxes, then I have paid the government roughly $150,000. If I lost my job and went on unemployment, my state’s rules are that I can receive up to 12 months’ unemployment benefits. The benefit is half of the average of my weekly salary over the last four quarters. Assuming I was granted the maximum, I would receive roughly $20,000. What happened to my other $130,000?
        On the other hand, if I were allowed to keep the 40% of MY income that the government currently requires that I hand over, I would have been able to do lots of the things you listed with the money that I exchanged MY time for.
        As far as kindness and charity goes, it is not kind to require one person to carve off portions of their life to give them to someone else. And charity extracted at the point of a gun is not charity; it’s a mugging. The money and time that I give to people who need help is my offering, given out of love for my God and fellow man. To equate that to government-controlled armed robbery is abhorrent to me.

      • The blog commenter in me is flattered. The mathematician in me has a headache.

      • Crap, this was supposed to be under Richard’s “which is still one” comment. Fail.

      • Not your fault. You reached the max level of nesting so from that point, everything piles down chronologically.

      • Uncephalized says:

        “If I make about $40,000 a year, and have been for 10 years, and am paying almost 40% in taxes, then I have paid the government roughly $150,000…”

        Where the hell do you live that your real tax rate is 40% of income at $40,000 dollars? Remind me not to move there. Even including sales tax I don’t think my 2011 liability will be anywhere close to that…

      • Andrea, yes on assumption a) and a resounding no on b). Charity and government, that is, charity and a public safety-net, are not the same thing. Helping people get back to being productive is in our self-interest – that right there is not charity. Of course we could just let everyone who isn’t productive mooch off us (out of our sense of charity), die or turn to crime, but since that’s abhorrent to us, helping them regain productivity is in our self-interest.
        Of course, unemployment is only part of the safety-net.
        Those are some skewed numbers there, only a tiny portion of your taxes go to unemployment insurance (see payment stub).

      • Uncephalized, I am an independent contractor, which means I don’t get my employer’s help paying taxes. I also have my own small business. So, all those federal, state, and local income taxes, along with state and local taxes on property, gas, sales, business licensing fees, vehicle registration, sin taxes for my alcohol and tobacco, well, I did the math once and I found that 37 or 38 % of the money I make goes to one government agency or another.

      • strike “local” from the list of income taxes. Failure to correctly revise and edit.

      • Yep, the self employed get whacked an additional 7.5% or so for social security.

      • Uncephalized says:

        Ah, makes sense.

      • I have read several accounts from US citizens saying that they had to follow their docotor’s advice or their health insurance would be void. The NHS gives advice on health and nutrition which you are free (like me) to ignore. You are treated regardless,there are no death panels or any other febrile nonsense.
        To my knowledge the United States has a very high per capita spending on healthcare compared to other western or industrialised countries. I have lived in both systems for many years at a time.

      • Just to make it clear I am not necessarily advocating a nationalised health system I just find some of the arguments against are rather like the “humans can’t kill animals with claws” arguments one hears from vegans.
        There are plenty of good arguments against nationalised health care (I for one would hate to have a system dreamt up by the current whitehouse imposed on me) but arguments about cost or death panels don’t make ses to those who live with such systems, the facts refute these claims.

      • Yes, quite. I emigrated to the US from Canada, a place with a terrific national health care system.
        The arguments against universal health-care that get the most air-time over here are fear-based. There are of course rational ones, as you say, we just don’t hear them above the noise. I wonder why such fear has been whipped-up….

  5. Ernest Fata says:

    Like North Koreans?

  6. Not picking on Nigel or his comment in particular, but it’s comments like his that illustrate why we (I use “we” in a loose sense) allow the continuation and proliferation of a system that so blatantly contradicts the very fundamental ethical values that most of us accept: too many people think government is necessary, that there are so many problems that would not be addressed if there were no government; meanwhile being unable or unwilling to see that (1) many of these problems are created by government, (2) the government has a piss-poor record in addressing and fixing them, and (3) a free (or freer) society just might do a pretty decent job of addressing and fixing them (if not outright preventing them coming about in the first place).

    That said, the video is phenomenal. I’m always happy when paleo voices apply the framework of evolutionary mismatch to our political system.

  7. Just a thought: let’s try substituting the word ‘government’ for ‘democracy’ in the famous quote : “Democracy is a terrible system…..except for all the others.” It works either way.
    As for controlled “by whom”, short answer: by anyone who can (unfortunately).
    I’m just thinking along the lines of the idea that once humanity grew past small, spread-out family bands (which didn’t have intense competition for resources) into “large dense populations”, we created the conditions for the Spontaneous emergence of leaders/gang-leaders/war-lords/kings/governments of every stripe.
    We see such emergence all the time, even today, whether in our inner-cities or in devastated countries.
    It’s not a matter of being afraid of “the few who would steal, kill and enslave”…..because ‘they’ are not few and all of history seems to say that ‘they’ are ‘us’.

  8. I’m trying to keep down to one hot-link per post to avoid the dreaded spam filter.

    Why is the US population a bunch of consumerist sheeple?

    Watch the third video in How did we get to where we are today?

    Then watch the others.

  9. Nice video, even though I don’t completely agree with the ancap philosophy ;)

    But this reminds me of something I really find annoying in sci-fi, which I read a lot of. The cliché of humans being the only violent race in a galaxy of species or making first contact with an alien race that is simply shocked, shocked I tell you, at humanities wild streak of individualism and cruelty.

    This goes back to the hippy meme from the sixties that humans are the only species to kill its own kind, which is total bullshit.

    If there is a more advanced civilization out there, it’s more likely they are MORE individualistic than humans. Which is probably how they got to be more advanced in the first place. They’d probably view humans as a hive colony which is really what we are. Our modern civilization more closely resembles an ant colony than a pack of wolves. And it is getting more and more hiveish, not the reverse. The aliens might say, ‘Yeah, I see you are still in that stage where you think the only collective action has to come from this primitive government thing, we evolved beyond that millions of years ago’.

    Do we ever see libertarian aliens, no, it’s almost always aliens who wonder why we don’t have a single world government with everyone working together in perfect harmony and singing kumbaya, cause that’s what all the advanced species do. Why haven’t we reached perfect socialist utopia like every other kool species in the galaxy?

    As far as violence goes, I find it very hard to imagine a world where a species could develop without having been winnowed by millions of years of competition. And competition means violence along with other things. Life is a struggle, all life is a struggle. Sure, some species might have evolved beyond inter-species war, but I seriously doubt they would find the concept bizarre. It’s all speculation of course, but the sci-fi cliché of humans being the roughest, most individualistic, violent and least advanced species in the Galaxy gets really tiresome. How about humans as the most conformist, unoriginal, passive, self-deceptive and consensus-obsessed species in the Galaxy? Cause that’s the direction we are headed.

    • Very interesting, that’s a nice insight.

    • I agree, Sean.

    • “Do we ever see libertarian aliens…”
      Do we ever see aliens? ;-p

      • Yeah, I’ve seen it several times.

        Hudson: Seventeen *days?* Hey man, I don’t wanna rain on your parade, but we’re not gonna last seventeen *hours!* Those things are gonna come in here just like they did before. And they’re gonna come in here…

        Ripley: Hudson! This little girl survived longer than that with no weapons and no training.

        Hudson: Why don’t you put her in charge?

    • Did you watch “The Century of the Self” Parts 2, 3 & 4?

    • +1

    • ” …find it very hard to imagine a world where a species could develop without having been winnowed by millions of years of competition.” Yes, except for humans right here on earth, where in the most recent stage of evolution it was cooperation, not competition, that created unprecedented survival and expansion success, by allowing us to modify our environments.
      We’re the only ones capable of doing that, so it is perhaps not surprising that we are the only ones where cooperation maybe more important, or at least as important, as competition?
      Nor surprising either that the colder the climate, the more that cooperation has been “selected-for” – Scandinavia, Canada….eh? :-)

      • Well, genetically speaking I think the Scandinavians who are famous for having strong welfare states in the 20th century are the same as the Vikings who were famously violent and rapacious a few hundred years back.

        There could be something genetic or culturally related there, though. A welfare state is a result of good intention of fairness. It gets badly applied on a large government level and ironically has the opposite effect from its origins, IMO.

        A sense of fairness for a hunter-gather tribe or say a localized post agricultural culture helps to eliminate free riders. People help out their less fortunate neighbors but they also resent free riders. This works well for small communities where people know each other. Now let us hypothesize that in harsher northern conditions a stronger sense of fairness would be selected for. People need more help in tougher times and free riders need to be dealt with more harshly, so this trait could be more strongly selected for. This sense of fairness is what leads people to believe that a socialist state is necessary, but in the socialist state free riders aren’t dealt with, instead they are encouraged.

      • All fair points Sean, you are a joy to engage in debate, thank you!
        Though to quibble : Vikings seem to not have been aggressive within their ‘tribe’.
        Insider cooperation, outsider competition?

      • Read the sagas chaps,like the actual Paleolithic we don’t need to guess all the information is there. The Norse culture was incredibly acquisitive and competition was rife within nations/tribes. The Norse were obsessed with laws and the appilcation of law. Iceland voluntarily gave up it’s independence because of internal competiition and strife.
        Tales of the violence of the Norse appear to have been grossly overstated, there appears to have been a religious element to the first centuries of viking raids due in part to 1; anger over Charlemagne’s persecution of pagans and 2; fear over christian expansion in the south.

      • Neal, yes! Help out here. How Viking society developed to today is not the central theme we started with but it’s a very interesting aside and I’d like the opportunity to pick your brain if I may.
        So the Norse ‘violence’ in foreign raids is grossly overstated, but the idea of internal cooperation within a tribe is also wrong. Yet they were intense in their lawfulness? That’s what somehow had stuck in my mind as ‘internal cooperation”, but I see that’s jumping to conclusions. They fought within tribes? How big were these tribes and is that strife why they “obsessed with laws and the application of law?” In which case, it would seem competition made their society develop a strong social structure – that seems paradoxical on the face of it, but I can see it here…is it right?

      • I’m a bit busy today but will reply later on. Norse Iceland should be a “reader” for anyone interested in anarchy

      • I haven’t read the sagas, Neal probably know way more about this than me. My information mostly comes from my History of the World by JM Roberts.

        While Roberts qualifies the Viking expansion as being as much about colonization and trade as plunder, he goes on to say it still had a very violent impact:

        None the less, however such considerations are weighed, it is indisputable that the Viking impact on northern and western Christendom was very great and very terrifying…At its worst, think some scholars, the Viking onslaught came near to destroying civilization in West Francia; certainly the West Franks had to endure more than their cousins in the east and the Vikings helped to shape the differences between a future France and a future Germany. In the west their ravages threw new responsibilities on local magnates, while central and royal control crumbled away and men looked more and more towards their local lord for protection.

        So it helped to usher in the age of feudalism.

      • Thank you. I’ll look into that. I just have the general background from a round of history electives…a long time ago for me!
        I always thought Iceland was socially/politically interesting, almost like a human psychology lab ‘in the wild’. However, it’s relatively small size and relative remoteness and isolation, made it, I thought up to now, rather hard to compare to other envirnments (as in, if it happened in Iceland…well, maybe it could only happen in Iceland and a few similarly situated others?). Of course, it’s essentially an immigrant country too, in fact wasn’t that why they named it such, to disguise the fact it actually had fertile/warm lands so as not to get overun? I’m looking forward to your thoughts.

      • yes, I only have the general history background too and violence gets center-stage there. The phrase at the end there “…men looked more and more towards their local lord for protection” made me think “there’s the need for protection, again”.
        It’s interesting, don’t you think, that no matter where you look in history (from Herodotus forward, in the west) and across the globe (apart from small, highly localized agricultural groups) we keep hitting that ‘protection’ need as defining the social structure?

      • “It’s interesting, don’t you think, that no matter where you look in history (from Herodotus forward, in the west) and across the globe (apart from small, highly localized agricultural groups) we keep hitting that ‘protection’ need as defining the social structure?”

        Protection or self defense can be provided as a good/service just like anything else. It’s silly to assume that it holds some magical quality that makes it such that liars, thieves and murderers are the only ones to be entrusted with it.

      • Ouch. I don’t consider most of our troops or their commanders in the military like that, my own step-son did 3 rounds of duty in Iraq. You do include the military when you’re talking about protection, yes? Not just police/the local level?
        It’s already provided as a good/service, don;t you think? In most western democracies it’s no longer a conscript army. And of course at the internal/local level, your local taxes pay for your police and firemen. Economy of scale makes it so we share the expense through taxes, rather than each person or each business or each small group hire their own.

        But no matter, we’ve been around and around this. It comes down to the idea that it just doesn’t seem to matter if you or me Entrust anyone with it, the protection or the government. Not a choice. If we don’t have it, we get invaded/enslaved/robbed, so then we suddenly get it, but not to our liking. Sheer size and expense means we can’t have the external protection under local control, it gets centralized…again, whether we like it or not because the Bigger ones take us over.

      • I don’t have a problem with employees of government in roles that we would pay for anyway (police, teachers, defense, etc.). It’s the politicians (every single one, fed, state, local–and Ron Paul should go find honest work) and bureaucrats (every single one).

      • O.k., but it’s a size thing – centralization means bigger means bureaucrats. The politicians are meant to control and monitor the bureaucrats and we are meant to control and monitor the politicians. Basically.

      • “and we are meant to control and monitor the politicians”

        LOL.

      • I shouldn’t have written tribes as it gives the wrong idea though it is more or less the same thing. Think extended family and dependents. They fought and feuded over resources (Njal’s saga is a great example). Njal’s saga is one of the best and I is about many of the themes in this comment list,blog and our society in general.
        As an aside given how many bloody useful Robon Hood films there are why are there no films of the sagas?
        An argument over wood becomes murder, compensation is negotiated but bitter feeling remains and a simmering feud continues engulfing nearly everybody involved.
        The parliment has no enforcing arm, rule and decisions are obeyed by consent. Fines are the main form of punishment as in all compromises no one is left totally happy. Everyone is armed and can fight (I think that this is important) it is a violent society with a warrior religion. Peoples power at first comes from their influence and personality though the wealthy few are the main voices heard. Wergild is paid to the relatives of those killed (which I think would be a fine substitute for jail in our society) with the most extreme censure being outlawry which is really bad.
        In Njals’ saga the law is being used to try and control the massive and imminent violence to maintain some kind of stability.
        I don’t really have time now to go into this as much as I want. Suffice it to say that an awful lot of laws made seem to be about stability and fairness with some “quality controls” .
        Land was “owned” by powergul men Godi’s who leased and divvied up land among their friends and allies. Feudalims though apparently an invention of the normans does not seem to be any different the the social systems that preceded it. I don’t think it is right to say viking raids precipitated its spread in Europe. Francia being part of the Carolingian Empire would be high on the list of (religious) enemies. I also believe the empire had a hard time when Charlemagne died.
        The power of Icelandic and other norse chiefs appears to have come from the their economic control of an area rather than their military might.
        Uncontrolable competition for power among the leading Godis is given for the appeal to the Norweigan king to “take over” iceland.
        not very succinct, and Tuchman’s law applies

      • when was the last time the professional military provided a service to the people that was worth the price paid for it? ? The military have been used by the politicians ON the people repeatedly through history and then when the shit really hits the fan, conscription!
        Even though numerical superiority beat them the Finns show what a handful of motivated, hunting outdoorsmen can actually do.

      • Wow Neal, that was enlightening. Makes it seem all the more amazing how they got from there to here. Extreme to opposite extreme.

      • It reads very disjointed, not really the proper medium for this sort of thing and maybe I shouldn’t have written it while trying to feed my girl her breakfast.
        There are endless accounts of heathen atrocities in contemporary English books (“the heathen ravaged sheppey” is one of my favourites but it probably doesn’t travel) but evidence outside this is thin on the ground.
        Sean is right that beserkers , among others, used honour duels as ameans of bullying and extortion. Beserkers were eventually banned in Iceland. They were greatly favoured by kings as troops though.
        I’m not sure why the northern countries have seemingly stonger or more socialistic social structures the same could be said for Scotland too. it might be that a great deal of hard work form marginal returns in a very marginal environment forces a greater deal of interdependence.
        Or has my learned Psychologist friend says “theyve got it out of their system” I’m paraphrasing I don’t know enough to go quoting him, but it was more or less that.

      • Yeah, I’ve noticed why the Scots seem to lean heavily to the left, I always wondered what was up with that. I mean they have to be the most contrarian people on Earth and yet they are all closet Marxists.

      • Ah, that brings us right back around to what started this thread, the idea that
        “it might be that a great deal of hard work for marginal returns in a very marginal environment forces a greater deal of interdependence ” . I like “interdependence” better than my “cooperation” which can imply too many things.

      • there’s not much closet about it, that said I have been planning to move back for years.

      • Neil, are you planning to move into the closet or out of it?

      • very good!

      • I suppose they don’t have a problem with anarchists as long as they are sufficiently contrarian ;)

      • Whoa – Ron Paul is only a politician because he sees our country going down a slippery slope and felt like he needed to step in and offer a completely different view.
        He was an OBGYN doctor, left his practice when Nixon cut our counterfeit money tie with gold, because he was worried gov. would over spend us into a depression.
        He’s only running for president now and in 2008 to wake people up to the fact that government is not the answer. Don’t understand why people on this site don’t like him….he’s all about local farming, raw milk, private sector health care, government stay out of your business.

      • Thanks Marie.

        As far as insider cooperation goes, I recall reading that there was a big problem with the holmgang the Norse honor duel. To quote Wiki: “Professional duelists used holmgangs as a form of legalized robbery; they could claim rights to land, women, or property, and then prove their claims in the duel at the expense of the legitimate owner. Many sagas describe berserks who abused holmgang in this way.”

        So that doesn’t sound like a an extremely cooperative culture, at least not along the lines of a modern socialist welfare state. Apparently honor was extremely important, the most important thing, as is typical in a warrior society. Also they freely engaged in slavery, which is the opposite of cooperation, of course. In fact, the strength of the Vikings might have been their rather individualistic culture along with some important advancements in technology like the longship.

        In fact, they probably resembled the warlords of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. An aristocracy of landowners that cooperated because it was a touchy alliance of fiercely independant elites whose culture revolved around courage, honor, property and plunder, propped up by a hierarchy of slaves, higher status serfs or indentureds, etc.

      • Yes, those are characteristics of most warrior societies, as first exemplified fully (as far as we know) and codified by the Homeric Greeks. I’m not too sure about the courage and honor at the time of the tyrannical city-states (Homer wrote down stories that were passed down for generations by word of mouth, so the social norms at his time probably colored them, yes?). However, I’d agree property played central role by default (any neolithic society…) and so did plunder – and slavery back then was largely war spoils and pre-industrial land-owner economics.
        No matter, what I’m getting at is that slavery didn’t have the ‘racist’ aspect of the last 4-5 hundred years. Not in that part of the world. Either way, I don’t see how that has to do with cooperation?
        But let me define what I do mean by cooperation, it’s the bare-bones of the term, without any of the derivative concepts we’ve come to associate with it.
        So, I’m just using it to mean that people work together towards a larger goal. This does require, at the least, the ability to visualize the future (to see the advantage). The idea that I brought up at the start of the thread was that somewhere along the line of our evolution, cooperation became so highly advantageous to the group’s success (and so, at that first stage, to the individual’s success) because it allowed us to significantly modify our environment, so that any human traits that favored it would have been selected for. These don’t have to be some kind of ‘pacifist’ traits.
        Within the tribe, for any individual it’s economic self-interest that is still the driving force for cooperation.
        Whether these proto-humans or any groups thereafter had a ‘cooperative mentality’ in all aspects of their interactions (other than work) isn’t part of that. Nor would it affect their approach towards other groups. In fact, a strong sense of tribe, of ‘us’ vs. ‘other’, would have had to evolve at the same time, I would think.
        So perhaps the modern socialist welfare state, based as it usually is on ideals or principles, when it fails it does so exactly because it wasn’t based on that economic self-interest that drives cooperation at it’s most basic, rather, it may rough-shod over it….

      • Heh, I’ll let Neal and Richard deal with the anarchic/libertarian points.

        As JM Roberts pointed out:

        Homer shows us a society of kings and aristocrats, but by his day this was already anachronistic. The title of king sometimes lived on, and in one place, Sparta, there there were always two kings at once, it had a shadowy reality which sometimes was effective, but by historical times power had passed from monarchs to aristocracies in almost all the Greek cities.

        It’s also interesting to note that the people depicted in the Homeric sagas weren’t really the same people of classical Greece, who venerated these sagas, as the area was conquered by an Indo-European people during the Greek dark ages, the Hellenes. So the heroes of Illiad were being venerated by a people who conquered their descendants.

        I agree that cooperation could and probably was selected for and this isn’t necessarily coterminous with selecting for pacifism.

        A strong us vs. them mentality would probably have an evolutionary advantage, in the prisoner’s dilemma sense. Do tribes of other primates have this also?

        For me the most logical argument against socialism in general is the Hayekian economic argument that it destroys information. This bypasses the argument based on principles, not letting people starve or go without medical care, or fairness, that is the core argument for socialism.

      • For the win! More information leads to better long-term results (even if a few morons like me have to blow up in the process of dealing with it).

      • Oh good, I’m glad on the ‘cooperation’ bit, I was worried I’d fumbled the point by choosing too loaded a term.
        I’m not sure ‘tribes’ applies to other primates, so I don’t know about that – the group size is limited by very close family relationships (so “10’s” to our 150 or much more).
        But on a complete aside > I thought “Hellenes” is a term applied to the collection of 4 key (out of several) Indo-European ‘races’ that settled in the area, so basically the Dorians, the Aeolians, the Ionians and the Achaeans. Grouped together for sharing similar dialects/ proto-Greek language. But I thought that this happened between 2000 and 1000BC? Before and during the estimated time of the Illiad. Didn’t Schiller’s excavation of Troy find ‘greek’ art, coins etc or was that only in the upper rebuilds and not all the way down to the level that might represent the Illiad’s Troy?
        I do know that the “Hellenistic period” was many centuries later, starting with Alexander’s death. But all these peoples, from Troy/Illiad forward (archaic period, classical period, Hellenistic period) were after the arrival of those Indo-European tribes, weren’t they? I don’t know why the naming is so messed up, perhaps because it sounded better to say “Hellenistic period” rather than “Hellenization” period (when other cultures adopted much of “greek” culture)?

      • Was there a point here I missed, Marie?

      • Sorry Richard! I was replying to Sean and apart from confirming a common understanding of forces of ‘cooperation’ and ‘tribalism’, I just was taking the opportunity to pick his brain on history (his reference to Hellenes). It’s the fact we’ve exceeded another thread size I think that’s making the sequence of replies look kinda funky, yes?

      • Or perhaps you mean I should take this “off-line” ? – I’m sorry, it’s too easy to get carried away when interested and hopping in and out between work and home and such. Wasn’t paying attention to how far down a tangent I was going.

      • Marie, I’d love to take you offline but I’m married.

        Seriously, Richard, if this is getting too off topic just give the word.

        The Hellenistic Period does indeed refer to the post-Alexandrian era. Hellenes (Ἕλληνες), however, is the term classical Greeks used (and still use) to refer to themselves. A really awesome series of books set in the Greek golden age is Gene Wolfe’s Soldier series.

        The civilization the Hellenes displaced is usually referred to as Mycenaean–but they may have been the Achaeans Homer referred to in the Iliad.

        To quote Wikipedia, “Intense scholarly debate has surrounded the question of which portions of the poem preserve genuine traditions from the Mycenaean period.”

      • ooh la la!
        Just as well I guess, my Cretan husband might also find that objectionable…sigh. :-) :-)
        I’m part Greek too (and European mutt ancestry, before Canada). But there’s always some (or much) difference in how a culture teaches it’s own history, so I wanted a look at a reasoned ‘outside’ perspective. Thank you for that. Gene Wolf’s series > what a fascinating concept! The college-age kid and I will be looking into it…
        A coincidence just occurred to me : so we have examples in two very different climates-environments of particularly aggressive tribes eventually ‘evolving’ to becoming astoundingly ‘civilized’ (however we define that term) – but the timeline is similar too, isn’t it, something like 800-1000 years? Real Coincidence or maybe a function of communications means at the time (which are used to spread learning generation-to-generation and local region-to-region) or a function of something else…

    • DoktorBill says:

      Read ‘Ringworld’ by Niven/Pournelle & learn of the Kzinti, also see Mote in God’s Eye for interspecies violence/intraspecies contact

  10. I would probably have savings if it weren’t for income tax. Just putting it out there :|

    • Uncephalized says:

      Nearly everyone would have savings if they were willing to live within their means. I know very few employed people with incomes of whatever level who do not own a large TV, live in a larger house than they require for basic shelter and comfort, drive a newer, larger, or fancier car than they need to get around, eat at restaurants regularly, and generally have the attitude that they “deserve” this, that and the other thing they do not actually have the money to afford.

      I’m not saying you in particular are not legitimately on the edge of poverty–I don’t know your circumstances–nor am I arguing for income taxes per se. But most people seem to think along the lines of “if I just had more money I would be able to put some in the bank” when the reality is that they are already ignoring countless opportunities to avoid spending the money they are already making in favor of saving it. Most people, in the face of increased income, simply increase discretionary expenditures to match, in my experience. In other words, spenders tend to spend, and savers tend to save, no matter what their actual cash-flow numbers look like.

      • The money somebody earns is the money they earn. If they choose to save it or spend it, it is up to them, they earned it. Nobody is better off losing $230 to income tax a month, if they earn minimum wage.

        Even if that money didn’t get saved, it would be spent by the person who earned it, and that’s all that matters. Whether a big screen tv, or not having to eat eggs every night due to budget constraints, it would only help the person who earned it.

        Personally, I’m probably going to wind up in the military to afford school, cause minimum wage doesn’t cut it.

  11. Alpha Carotene says:

    America deserves government.

  12. That Philosophy of Liberty video just pissed me off, not from the concept, but because the You Tube channel hosting it seems to indicate this is Ron Paul’s philosophy. If so, how can he also want to ban abortion? He wants the government to take away my right to choose what parasite I allow to grow in my body, thus turning me into a slave to an embryo.

    Ron, have you turned down a request for a kidney donation? You have implicitly by not volunteering bits of yourself to the ever-present need of other fully alive people. Why don’t you spin a fortune wheel every time you have sex and when that pointer lands on “donate an organ” go check in to hospital? That is similar as you will get to my feeling about carrying an accidental pregnancy to term. People can choose to donate organs and people can choose to get pregnant and/or allow an embryo become a fetus and then become an infant. Anything else is slavery. Until anti-choice libertarians get that, fuck the lot of them, driving to rallies on government built roads.

    I hope to see humans evolve beyond tribalism and cognitive dissonance. I don’t know whether we’ll be more anarchistic or socialistic – I think it will be a blend that cannot yet be conceptualized.

    • Rella:

      While I share you views generally about abortion (as a guy, my position is that it’s basically none of my damn business), I don’t speak for Ron Paul and I don’t see any need to shoot the messenger because, as a number have done, turned what was originally a flash animation into a YouTube and used in support of whatever.

      Here’s the creator’s site, and it is available in something like 37 languages.

      http://www.jonathangullible.com/

    • beans mcgrady says:

      First, for the record I believe abortion should be legal.
      That said, there is a logical and defensible reason that under the principles of liberty one would not allow abortion.
      It all depends on the definition of when life begins. This is something that is not settled, but some believe that a fetus or embryo is a being.
      I don’t have a strong opinion on that and think it is an unnecessary argument, legal abortion is certainly the safest option.
      I must point out that your characterization of an embryo as a parasite is absolutely abhorrent. Parasites invade the host. In the case of pregnancy (excepting rape) a choice was made, whether it was to take a chance or to actually have a child.

      • In fairness–and most cannot bring themselves to confront the reality–a fetus is technically a parasite, physiologically. I don’t know of anything a fetus does but take.

        …Then they’re born, and you’ve got another 18 years of parasitism :).

        Of course, the former is probably true and the latter, tongue in cheek hyperbole.

        It’s really only when you apply context expanded to an entire human life and the trade offs, and cycle, and how if things work out, they take care of you when it’s time that everything comes into focus in my view.

        I find abortion unfortunate, but it’s not my business. I find infanticide amongst primitives unfortunate (not abhorrent…CONTEXT), but it’s still not my business.

      • beans mcgrady says:

        “I find abortion unfortunate, but it’s not my business. I find infanticide amongst primitives unfortunate (not abhorrent…CONTEXT), but it’s still not my business.”

        And going back, yes. Technically. However, in reality, the parasites that tend to end up on the hairline, or in the gut are by nature invasive. This is not in the definition. So technically a fetus is a parasite.

        However, that characterization promotes a disdain towards the results of our own decisions.
        I think that your approach, finding abortion unfortunate, makes good sense, I feel the same way. But looking at a fetus as an unnecessary burden and a parasite only promotes a disrespect for responsibility, and perhaps life. I find having disdain towards the fruits of our own decisions abhorrent. Blaming the fetus has little to do with personal responsibility.

        That said, unwanted pregnancies happen, and I do believe it is best to let the grown-ups decide.

        I should mention as a long time reader and new commenter that this is not my thing, just something that struck me. And good luck with the potatoes, I am curious as to how it will all play out.

      • Uncephalized says:

        I don’t think it’s about “blaming” the fetus, or blaming anyone for that matter. At least, it shouldn’t be. Only conscious entities are capable of even deserving blame or praise. It’s about making the best possible decision given your current situation and your best guess of the consequences.

      • Unchephhalkzed:

        Try this on for size, as a speculation.

        Infanticide has been widely practiced. We know this from even observation, no anthro needed. Men typically do the dirty work, so that is what it is.

        As horrific as it is in our way of thinking, its really no more different in the wide context of survival than cannibalism or any other thing like that. Or, even, a clinical setting where a woman can dispatch something she is not prepared to handle.

      • I think calling it a parasite is probably a way to make it easier to justiify removing it. Only a baby if you want it to be.

        Still believe in a woman’s right to choose to be a mother or not. Just like a man should have the choice to be a father or not, and not pay child support if they don’t want anything to do with the baby.

        Anything else, would be slavery.

      • “Still believe in a woman’s right to choose to be a mother or not. Just like a man should have the choice to be a father or not, and not pay child support if they don’t want anything to do with the baby.

        Anything else, would be slavery.”

        I used to argue this years ago, calling it “male abortion.” Just as a female ought to have unilateral right to bear the child or not, the male ought to have the shame period of time in which to decide to support it of not (of course, choosing the later rightly means he never has a right to so much as lay eyes on the child).

      • +1. There’s no way around that argument, I totally agree abortion choice goes with parenthood choice for both.
        Mind you, I’m not quite sure how to deal with the idea that, well, the choice of abortion comes automatically at a high price for the woman, but deciding to not support a child seems to have no /little cost for the man…which would remove the incentive towards his taking personal responsibility in his sexual behavior in the first place. Any thoughts on that?

      • “Any thoughts on that?”

        Not everything is perfectly equitable & fair.

      • “I’m not quite sure how to deal with the idea that, well, the choice of abortion comes automatically at a high price for the woman, but deciding to not support a child seems to have no /little cost for the man…which would remove the incentive towards his taking personal responsibility in his sexual behavior in the first place. Any thoughts on that?”

        It’s ultimately a matter of personal responsibility. No easy answer, but if you have a womb that you know can get pregnant, and you don’t want that to happen, then it’s up to you to make sure you take the necessary precautions or deal with the consequences (abortion or baby).

        The man has no choice over what the woman does with her body, he can’t control her actions, so he can’t be held responsible for them.

        As it currently stands, he’ll wind up paying child support even if he doesn’t want to have the kid. He has no choice in the matter really, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. So better study up on how well the pull out method works.

      • beans mcgrady says:

        The Pull out method is only about 1-3% less effective then condoms.
        So cream that belly!

      • beans mcgrady says:

        than

      • “Not everything is equitable and fair”.
        That’s been my standard answer too, seems obvious to me. Some things we don’t like just exist, they are unavoidable, like death…or government :-)

    • Ron Paul personally doesn’t believe in abortion. He doesn’t want to “ban” abortion he thinks it is something that ought to be left up to the states.

      I doubt Ron Paul thinks people ought to be doing heroin, he’s not “pro-heroin” in that sense, but he thinks it ought to be legal, that the WoD has caused way more damage than it has prevented. How many “pro-choice” politicians do you know of who have been willing to state this publicly?

      To call Ron Paul an anti-choice libertarian is naive or willfully stupid. If you want to bask in self-righteous fervor, and it seems like you do, then have at it, I won’t bother to argue the point, but Ron Paul is all about personal choice.

  13. Richard,

    We do go into the wild and try to interact with other animals. That is how zoos come about.

    While I generally agree with a lot of your statements on this subject, I do think that a government is necessary to protect life. We are at a point in our evolutionary history where we want the greatest minds in the world focused on innovation, and we want them to have that focus without fear that the fruits of their labor will get taken from them by someone who was more physically gifted or just had more time on his hands to get better at violence. Centralizing protection comes with massive economies of scale.

    So while I very much agree that our government has overstepped the boundaries of its charter, I do not consider it impossible to rework the structure of our government to rein it back in and get it back on track.

    More of my thoughts here: http://www.armchairphilosophizing.com/2011/06/defining-government.html

    More of my thoughts on the subject here: http://www.armchairphilosophizing.com/2011/06/defining-government.html

  14. LeonRover says:

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    We require Leviathon to restrain snakeoil salesmen – from Ponzi thro’ Madoff and Stanford.

    • Who guards the guardians.

      • Who polices the police and who governs the governors and the government?

      • Yea right.

      • If everybody watches each other in a circle, that reduces the chance of one going bad.

        Or what marie wrote.

      • We guard the guardians. We police the police. We govern, period.
        Or we are supposed to, except in this country we’ve abdicated that responsibility.
        And now that we’ve done such a monumentally bad job, we even blame our instrument (‘government’).
        This isn’t exactly a new concept, we figured out over 2500 years ago that if the citizenry is not actively engaged in government, they will get tyranny.
        The fundamental problem of anarchism is that it’s predicated on the idea that we choose (or not) to have government. Yet, the only evidence we have throughout history across the globe is that government arises spontaneously when local populations reach critical mass (in adequate resources, that happens at around 120-150 people and at much smaller numbers if strained resources). This happens to be the point at which specialization becomes economically advantageous. We specialize in everything, from food production and crafts to protection.

      • That’s not how government got started, Marie. It got started because thieves wished to protect assets from othert thieves.

      • Well now, if what you say were true it would again make government a consequence of human nature and not a choice…forcing us to acknowledge that we either manage our own government or have one imposed on us.

      • make sure you vote there marie . . .as if it makes a damn bit of difference . .

        so righteous . . .and naive

      • Why thank you Robert ..
        so encouraging….and witty :-)

      • It’s a consequence of not effectively dealing with theres. Today, it’s a consequence of not recognizing thieves as thieves, i.e., ignorance and poor ethics.

  15. BigRob says:

    Its all about control. Everyone has it and no one wants to lose it.

    • BigRob says:

      Or rather.

      It’s all about control. Not everyone has it and no one wants to lose it.

    • I believe a very wise philosopher once said it best:

      “When I was 17, I did what people told me…Did what my father said, and let my mother mold me…But that was long ago”

  16. Paul C says:

    What if the non-violent, or non-government system of the alien is just as problematic for our health as agriculture? Would a peaceful non-government be diverting from our coding enough to cause a different set of chronic health issues?

  17. I would hand the alien the collected works of Kurt Vonnegut and tell him “Other than that you’re on your own.”

  18. Razwelll says:

    UNmoderated? LOL ! Yeah right !

    • Razwell, I have no dog in your fight with Colpo.

      I would love not to have to put you through my screening (currently you are the only one). But you have convinced me it’s necessary if only because you post a dozen comments saying the same thing, and you do it on multiple posts.

      C’mon, man.

  19. Razwelll says:

    OK, Richard . Fair enough. :)

    I will not do these dozens of posts in different topics saying all the same thing. My word. My beef never was with you. I can see your point. Too much clutter all over.

    • Yeah, you better watch it, dude, or Richard will go all Jimmy Moore on your ass. ;)

  20. I have been following this blog and other paleo sites for some time, and find this streak of libertarianism interesting. I feel there is a terribly large amount of hypocrisy in the discussion. I believe that once you understand the idea of what is now being refered to as ancestral health it becomes obvious that we should apply that idea to the entire way and world in which we live. Yet many seem to cling to very unpaleo things, cars, iphones, property rights, the idea of money, and other neolithic things we probably are not very well adapted to. We have built ourselves the worst possible zoo, and we want out, but are ok keeping others in it. We drink down oil from countries where not only government but also religion opresses human animals, and buy toy gagets (iphone) from companies who do buisness with communist regimes. We want to leave the cage but keep the airconditioning and the cheap bananas. Government is a function of the zoo. If we want out of government then we need to leave every aspect of the zoo behind, not just the parts of it we dont like.

    • The more I think about this issue, the more it seems to me that pursuing the positive side of this reality (life is better when you don’t require government) is ultimately better than dwelling on the negative (the government messes with my life). The less I rely on and need the government, the better. The less they care about me, the better. The more I do to make my own circle of family and friends healthy without government intervention, the better.

      From my perspective, the worst result of government is the ‘tragedy of the commons’ that goes on when people assume that ‘someone else will make my life nice’ and proceed from there. I have nothing against people helping each other, even when this occurs through government. But I personally don’t want to be the kind of person who is useless to those around me until someone else has passed a bill somewhere, forcing me to do my devoir (and fill out a form or twenty). The real problem is not that ‘we need someone to tell us what to do’ — it’s that many of us assume this to be categorically, unquestionably true, to the extent that we don’t bother to learn or do anything on our own. We sit back on the sidelines and grouse, no matter who’s in office or what is happening. I remember especially all the nonsense on the news when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans; people sat on their butts and cried (because “George Bush didn’t come to get me!”). Where is the panache in that? Where is the life? Where is the liberty? Where is the heroism? It was out there, but not with these people.

      When I get to the end of my life (whether that is today or many years from now), I don’t want to have lived as the appendage of some other person (no matter how great). I don’t want to look back and see myself complaining at every critical moment because some superhero failed to cover my back (or stabbed me in the back: it amounts to the same thing). I don’t want to live vicariously through celebrities. I want my own experiences. I want to laugh and cry over my own life (the one in which I did things, good and bad, and took the consequences — perhaps with help, but never demanding it as some kind of right).

  21. Yes Nick, “Government is a function of the zoo” – perfect phrase, thank you!
    Government is a function of civilization, of any self-organizing social group of specialists.
    It’s not a matter of choice, it’s part and parcel of the whole. All the evidence supports this, not one exception as far as we know (natch! ever the scientist, leaving room to revise that opinion if any exceptions are ever unearthed ;-)
    So from what we know, the only choice is between civilization or not.
    Full disclosure > some days, I’m leaning towards not…

    • …. if it weren’t for malaria, a variety of parasites, no recourse for impacted wisdom teeth, no recourse for child-birth complications, exposure to the elements etc, let alone no hot water, electricity, cars or internet :-)

    • Marie

      Government is wholly Neolithic and human social structures are millions of Year’s old. Unfortunately, the propensity to be fooled is also millions of years old.

      • Well of course human social structures are millions of years old. But human social structures of Specialists are only neolithic, hence, as you say, government. If it weren’t for agriculture, we wouldn’t have the specialization (or groups larger than a couple of hundred, which makes the specialization favorable). That’s the point.

      • Specialization and division of labor are social developments, as monogamy in general and not copulating on public anymore. There’s nothing inherently violent in any of it. Government, on the other hand, is principally about force. It is an imposition on the many by the few.

      • Just to be clear, I don’t think that government is a ‘good’ thing.
        What I think is that arguing for or against the existence of government is moot.
        We will have a Tyrannical government imposed on us because of the very existence of property, unless we fight to form/control a Representative government.
        That’s the only evidence we have, those are the only two models in operation since neolithic times.
        You believe however, if I understand correctly, that we can have significant property (which comes from specialization, which, as agreed, comes from agriculture/neolithic culture) including infrastructure (goods of shared use) without government. So without administration (which is a form of protection) and without overt protection.
        That’s where we differ.
        It doesn’t have to be an imposition on the many by the few. That’s where “involved citizenry” comes into play. You know, Scandinavian countries, Canada, Switzerland…. :-)

      • Oh, and permanent specialization is an economic development enabled wholly by agriculture. For a fun read in anthropology, with special concentration around agriculture (that’s also extremely well researched) I think you’d really enjoy “Guns, Germs and Steel”.
        Yes, not copulating in public is likely a social development ! :-)

      • There’s nothing in the technological advance of agriculture that per se requires government. All agriculture did was create something to steal.

      • Yes, which created our reality : that we will either be invaded/enslaved/robbed or we will develop protection.
        Government is imposed either way.
        I just don’t see a way around this.
        So I guess it’s to my advantage to spend some thought and energy trying to help direct/control/monitor government.

      • “So I guess it’s to my advantage to spend some thought and energy trying to help direct/control/monitor government.”

        Tilt at as many windmills as you like.

        I prefer to spend my time engineering my life in such a way as to reduce the impact of government as much as possible while remaining a social animal.

        Harry Browne wrote a book back in the 70s called “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World.” I recommend it as a guide towards a mental attitude of looking at the state not as something that has any real upsides for you, but mostly downsides that far surpass any positives you can imagine and rather than try to “work within the system” to change it, you simply step away in every way you can.

        I think Joseph posted a comment on this thread to that effect.

      • laf. O.k., but you forget Richard, I emigrated here from Canada. I’ve actually been raised in a country where this isn’t tilting at windmills.

      • And I don’t think it’s a choice. If we just step away, if we don’t monitor and control, all we do is let government go rampant – it will come after you. How far can you retreat?

      • Sure it is. Theyre just different windmills. Last time I checked, Canada still has tons of laws that don’t involve one person or group doing violence or fraud to another person or group, taxes, jails, etc.

      • “if we don’t monitor and control, all we do is let government go rampant ”

        Facepalm.

      • Mais non, really?
        “…a mental attitude of looking at the state not as something that has any real upsides for you, but mostly downsides that far surpass any positives you can imagine ”
        Yup, agree. No argument, none.
        The argument is about thinking that you can disengage/not vote/
        “step away in every way you can” .
        Government is like an incurable disease, you can treat it and so live better or longer, but you can’t ignore it because it will kill you all the sooner.
        Better?

      • I don’t vote and haven’t since I can remember. Not worth my time. Don’t write “my representatives”, don’t agitate for “hope” and “change.” I don’t watch the cable news, the local news, or read newspapers or new magazines. Important news manages to find its way to me.

        Go to YouTube and search “George Carlin Doesn’t Vote” I’d give a link but it’s a pain in the ass on the iPad.

      • I loved George Carlin, was very sad when he died. Obviously I didn’t agree with everything.
        It’s not that I’m not familiar with this approach, it’s that I still don’t “get it”.
        You see, it seems to me that only in a country where previous generations successfully fought to establish a basic set of rights and freedoms do we even have the luxury of imagining that we can ignore government.
        This is because it is not for the most part driving us into abject poverty and subsistence living….so we seem to forget that it can and will if we let it.
        History, and even the sorry state of recent governments, teaches us that it takes constant vigilance, or else we will find ourselves Again under an overt dictatorship/kleptocracy/aristocracy (take your pick).

      • Marie:

        Humans have fought for survival in every conceivable way since time immemorial and if you ask me, I doubt the last few hundreds years were anywhere near the toughest (I’ll take the state over an ice age any day).

        I’ve never ever really given a runny shit about any of that. They did what they perceived they had to do for their own survival, well being and if luck would have it, prosperity.

        I do exactly the same in the one tiny little life I have. I don’t owe anyone a fucking morsel of my life.

        And I don’t but the “future generations” bullshit either. They’ll be on their own too, just like me, and I can’t even begin to imagine what obstacles and opportunities they have.

        So much of this hand wringing over the price past generations paid and the perceived costs and hardships future generations face over our actions now is so much mental masturbation to me.

        Go outside. Do something. Stop worrying. I just shopped. Had $100 worth of Macy’s gift cards to dispense with after the recent holidays and birthday. So it was a good day.

      • Well, I wasn’t suggesting we do it for some future generations but for us, now, the impact is already being felt in our life-times and will only get worse.
        it doesn’t take long.

        But you’re right, it’s a lovely day, the sun up here in ‘snow-land’ was actually shining (!) I have a week off for spring break and just got a return from my taxes – it’s dinner and a movie for the whole family (would you believe, The Lorax?!..go on, have at it, I’m setting-myself up with that one, I know!) :-) :-)

      • Don’t know what to tell you Marie. You cant vote yourself free, otherwise, everyone would be doing it. Have at it. Write and call them Congressman (they laugh at you privately, you know-they know where their bread is buttered and it’s not in your house).

        The name Lorax sounded cool. Then I Googled it.

      • Ah, yes, you googled it. Poor Richard!
        I knew you have no kids so Dr.Seuss tales not likely to be familiar. It was a cruel, cruel trick to play :-) :-)
        We are in line right now – my husband says I’m a mean woman at heart, you have sympathy there for being exposed to this.
        But look, I grew up on such ‘save-the-world fairy tales’, and, well, on Lafontaine tales (moralistic much?) and on Brs.Grimm (dark, harsh) – quite the well balanced variety ;-)
        No religious tales, at least.

      • “my husband says I’m a mean woman at heart”

        Over the last couple of weeks, the starch I’ve been eating seems to have made me more…shall we say, amenable to diverse opinion.

        I consider that an adverse consequence of carbohydrate consumption.

      • Oh no!
        You must stop the potatoes immediately.
        And restart the drink.
        Oops, wait…. whiskey = agriculture. So you are For government after all, as Nick below would say (yes, giddy mood, it’s that Lorax and a tub-full of movie popcorn carbs…adverse consequences :-)

      • In the defense of Dr. Suess and all of his subversive prose, I was never forced to buy or read any of his books. Also, I just bought The Lorax and in the end an individual was presented an opportunity and a choice rather than Truffula tree planting regulations and Thneed factory emission caps.

      • Drew, that’s an interesting angle to this, thank you!

      • Population growth, density & diversity are wholly Neolithic.

  22. Richard I’m sorry! I don’t know what happened there. Can you delete the duplicate?

  23. Charlene says:

    “No one rules if no one obeys.”

  24. The “not copulating in public” statement was a total red hearing, but I will respond by saying that it is merely cultural and has nothing to do with the sociobiology of humans, nor does monogamy. Agriculture requires property rights, and property rights lead to civilization which leads to government. A person or group of people will not plant a crop unless they are guaranteed to be able to harvest that crop. This is only possible with property rights. Otherwise I might just come by and take some of their crop or run my cows over it. Agriculture equals government. If you like your stakes from the store, grassfed or not, you are for government. One more thing, yes the development of culture is paleo, but culture is not civilization.

    • I doubt it, nick. I don’t think agriculture was necessary to develop a more intimate experience in copulation, which I would attribute to large brain, not agriculture.

      • What now? I’ve heard of large feet or even large noses related to, ehrm, the copulation experience, but large brain?! So those big-headed aliens…

      • Agriculture has nothing to do with it. I dont think I was indicating that I believe that it did. What I said was the idea that sex is best done in private is purely our culture and has nothing to do with biology. All of which has very little to do with the original discussion of freedom vs government, but if you would rather talk about sex I am fine with that.

      • Ok, well it’s not a red hearing either,since you wish to backpedal..

      • I dont understand your post. Are you pointing out the fact that I miss typed herring? I dont think I would consider trying to stay on the orginal topic backpedaling. I would be interested in a Free the Animal post and following discussion on your ideas about paleo sexuality, but I thought we should discuss the topic at hand. The point I was trying to make is that it is very easy to complain about government but it is probably here to stay. So, how do we deal with it. How much civilization are we willing to give up to live free?

      • I may not have understood your point or something. I’ll just move on.

  25. Richard you need to get your hands on some classic sci-fi: Eric Frank Russell’s ‘The Great Explosion’ – it deals with a similar theme except that in this insightful short story, the government types are the ones dropping by on a planet where people are muuuch more ethically developped. Basically, it goes “Hey you, take me to your leader. – Hmm ok, what’s a leader ?” Hilarity ensues.

  26. Dan Linehan says:

    Government is just a codified tyranny of the majority. Which is generally considered to be better than regular tyranny of the majority.

    Good video, and I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t offer any solutions, it just scopes out a few modern problems. Eventually humans may evolve beyond government, at the least we’ll gradually evolve beyond corrupt government before too long, but that process is an technological and cultural evolution, like anything else nowadays.

    Remember that massive negative externalities exist in the modern, capitalistic world, ones which are difficult to fully appreciate the long-term effects of. CFCs that could decimate the ozone layer in a few short decades come to mind.. generational abuse doesn’t have a free market solution.

  27. Trilobyte o' ram says:

    Sorry for the threadjack, but I’ve been away from the paleo scene for a couple years. IIRC, the last time I was keeping up with things was when Kurt Harris was blogging from his old PaNu site.

    It’s amazing to see the nice evolution (plus De-evolution in regard to one certain blog, lol) of approach among the various blogs I followed pretty regularly. Potatoes, some legumes, and rice are now acceptable? Yes, it’s a change, but here are some reasons why… this is great. Good science is always in a state of flux.

    Compare this to the stagnation in the vegan movement at large. Nothing changes; the message only gets more dogmatic and narrowly focused. Heretics are cast out, but it’s very rare–at least in my limited experience–to see three of the blogs you used to follow regularly evolving and changing up the routine.

    But I have to ask… what in the fuck happened to primal wisdom? The shit is surreal. Is it a long-play troll, or is Don a full-on vegan? I knew he was never on board with dairy, but his latest post on raw milk is such rampant bullshit and clearly exposes an agenda on his end.

    • “But I have to ask… what in the fuck happened to primal wisdom?”

      The power of pussy.

    • This post and the comments should give you pretty much the complete history of Don’s fight to the dark side.

      http://freetheanimal.com/2011/12/farewell-to-debunking-paleo.html

      • Trilobyte o' ram says:

        Holy shit, I just read all that, including every comment. Fuck me.

        Thanks Richard for directing me to the link and the subsequent others. I’ll try not to beat a dead horse here , but have you guys seen his new diet recommendation page? It is the boilerplate bullshit vegan diet! The exact fucking opposite of what he used to discuss! http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/p/primal-diet-guide.html

        I totally agree with you guys in the comments–there’s an external influence at work here. Has to be–only explanation; I mean the guy constantly used to write about how veganism failed him after trying it for ten years or so, and yet he embraces every tenet of it again suddenly out of nowhere. I have been totally out of the loop with everything “paleo”wise for two years, give or take. I know it’s been said but the complete 180 is shocking, especially when you get it with the shotgun to the face like I’ve done. I used to love Don’s blog and followed it regularly, even though at the time I was mostly utilizing the PaNu approach, save for occasional white rice and either kidney benas or black eyed peas.

        His dumping on and sudden decrying of eggs hurts the most. WTF? Nothing screams vegan indoctrination/vegan psychosis more than the banning and defamation of the humble egg, which is, I dunno, something humanity and our evolutionary progenitor has been consuming for how many thousands of millenia? Jesus christ.

        Okay, end rant. Just had to get it off my chest.

        I’m going to listen to that interview with Jimmy next. I have some time on my hands so maybe I’ll do a time mark play-by-play of the coaching… that’s really sad and unsettling if it’s as obvious as the comments by multiple people make out. RIP Don. You will be missed.

        Sorry for the derail!

        On another note, re: aliens… I’m totally with Hawking. We need to stop sending shit out there to attact them. Assuming they are carbon based, need a nitrogen/oxygen atmosophere, and have the ability to travel light years, we’re all fucked.

  28. I don’t see how doing away with government would work because 1) We are dependent on each other for our quality of life 2) We have animal instincts that are aggression, fear, conquest, nurturance, and the need to belong. At worse they cause violence, wars, rape, theft, and murder. They always underlie emotional anguish of some sort.

    Part of the purpose of having rules, and the government to enforce them, is to control the worst that our animal instincts can do. Without government, there are no collective rules, and each person is much more vulnerable to people who let their animal instincts take control. Unfortunately, even with a government, those in power don’t always feel the need to follow the rules because power enables a person to think they are above everything.

    If government were done away with, it would simply return in a few years. The most powerful people would physically fight for power, dominate, and form a collective mind around the newly formed government (those who won’t subjucate the government en masse). Just as it is today.

    To reduce the undesireable characteristics of government, one solution is for each individual to exercise the power of their pre-frontal cortex, try to be totally rational, and not let their animal instincts run loose. But we all know that’s not going to happen. The instincts are much much too seductive. Another alternative is to find a way to eliminate or reduce the strength of the animal instincts relative to our pre-frontal cortices. And once we can do this, it would all start at the level of the individual, changing him and her self, beginning with an altruistic decision to make society better.

  29. “I don’t see how doing away with government would work”

    For whom?

    At any rate, there’s no way to “do away with government.” It’s tantamount to sitting in prison with prisoners proposing to do away with the prison. There’s only individuals ignoring it, skating around it as much as possible, never supporting it under any circumstances, never voting, never writing a congressman, paying as little attention as possible, setting an example.

    And hopefully, future generations will smile at the vile monkeys we were.

    And they’ll be amazed at how people so slovenly cheerlead for such a genocidal institution at heart.

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

    • Damn, can’t help it, will rise to the bait….again (have I mentioned how much I enjoy your blog? :-)

      O.k., so we agree that government is unavoidable.
      The rational approach is to leave it free reign?… aka we are fat and happy and so apparently feeling invincible? After all, what can government possibly do to us or what can possibly happen to our comfortable world. How well did that work for the Romans and every other empire in history?

      Grappling with government, strongly/weakly/in any shape or form, has never been naive (revolutions happen regularly…constitutions, reformations….the rise of the middle class ) and it’s not about charity, kindness or even ethics, frankly. It’s just about self-interest.

      • “The rational approach is to leave it free reign?”

        The rational approach _for me_ is to let all you worry about it, be a “free rider” on your so-called activism (if that’s how you choose to look at it), and enjoy my life. Looking back at America since the revolution and subsequent Constitution establishing federal, state and local governments that are a microscopic spec in comparison to what we have today, I’m not the slightest bit persuaded that government doesn’t have “free reign” already and y’all are just masturbating in voting booths.

      • Ah Richard, you’re the only one calling it activism. It’s simply self-preservation for many of ‘us’.

        “I’m not the slightest bit persuaded that government doesn’t have “free reign” already…”
        Really now? – spoken like someone who hasn’t ever lived in a military dictatorship.

        But yes, enjoy life, while you can, and enjoy your sometimes profane blog (‘we’ won’t let the internet get censored) and your terribly ‘seditious’ ideas (‘we’ won’t allow absolute power so that it can define what is and isn’t seditious simply for being ‘against government’).

        So you’re right, it works out well for you to let us all worry about it, ‘we’ will end up protecting you, not because it protects you specifically but because it protects each and every one of ‘us’ primarily. (O.k., for myself, maybe a little because it protects you specifically…since you let me sometimes tease you with psychedelic , loraxian, hippie redux ;-)

        But you’re well familiar with this notion of public action for self-protection, you had the same idea (because that one struck close to home) when you tried to alert everyone to Steve Cooksey’s troubles ….. activism, was it?!

  30. I don’t believe there is any amount of education , technology or philosophy that will prevent us from acting against our own self interest.

    We are animals you accept and know this, if we fully except our flaws and there are no perfect people, our self-imposed regulation or government is not separate from us it is simply all our fears manifested.

    Government can’t exist without fear , and I don’t think fear is going away any times soon.

  31. LeonRover says:

    “Government can’t exist without fear”.

    Indeed.

    And the goal is, that the cheaters – Ponzi, Madoff, Al Capone etc. – fear that their cheating will be found and punished.

    I definitely approve that Stanford is about to be put away for a long time. It is good that “the Dapper Don” died in a cold hard place. His son has not not yet learned that lesson – but epigenetics will out.

    • In a world of morons, it takes a cheater to punish a cheater. But if the morons stopped playing, then the cheaters would have no one to cheat but one another. The sooner we can get out of the way and let them eliminate themselves, the better.

      • Consider all the organized crime films. What if the FBI and other agencies, rather than confront directly has simply monkey wrenched them at all times, planting seeds that the other mobster was scheming behind his back. I’m sure there must have been some of this going on, but seems to me a far better strategy long term for keeping them at bay, pitting them against one another.

      • LeonRover says:

        “If” ? – This was an excellent black and white 1968 movie by Lindsay Anderson starring Malcolm McDowell, and featuring the musical sequence Sanctus from Missa Luba.

        Slightly misquoting Eliot

        “What might be is an abstraction. Remaining a perpetual possibility. Only in a world of speculation”

  32. As you are basically preaching to the choir it doesn’t surprise me that there is so little criticism of your political ideas.

    Let me first state that I’m disgusted with current politics and most politicians and highly skeptical of the idea that democracy is really going to work well some day. (now it only works so-so at best)

    Having said that I don’t see anything that would lead me to believe that any kind of anarchistic/ libertarian society is possible in the current context which is: high population density, the high mobility of people, resource scarcity, high (historically seen) technological advancement. I think those factors combined with human nature make it impossible for a fair and well functioning society to exist without some form of government. Now. You may say that thing aren’t going well now either and that is true enough, but that doesn’t mean that your idea would work any better. I think that at this time it would probably work even worse.

    That may also be one of the reason that an anarchistic/ libertarian society doesn’t really exist. It would simply be to fragile for the current global social/political climate.

    • Robert:

      I have been totally uninvolved in any and all anarchist/libertarian things of any sort for going on 15 years. Yep, I was bright eyed at first, wasted about 5 years of mental masturbation on all of that, but I eventually came to realize that anarchy begins at home.

      So I simply stopped participating in all of it and focussed on my own life and those of my loved ones, doing only what is absolutely minimally necessary to make a living and keep my ass out of jail.

      From time to time, I encourage others to try my long term self experiment in that regard. I have no designs for others, no Utopias to propose, no destruction to suggest and so on.

      So while it may be easy to simply paint me with the brush, it’s not what went down.

  33. I hate when religion gets mentioned with politics. All Religion originated from the study of the sky – which translated into the mythology that we know today. We should all know by now That “Jesus”/God is a direct interpretation of the movement of the stars/SUN??? (Winter Solstice anyone?) You know – the SUN and Moon gods etc.

    What does this have to do with Politics? (besides corruption?) Politics is now just business – little ponds controlled by money. You think your vote even matters nowadays?

    I always say – “vote with your wallet”

  34. Wolfstriked says:

    Wow was just thinking this today and seen this post.I think that the future is the internet and that the internet is the perfect tool for use as a new people’s government.Most people have access to a PC or other device that connects to the internet. Get rid of government and give people real freedom by putting the choices that the government makes for us in our hands by use of internet questionnaires.Would America be at war right now.Coming from NYC mindset I doubt it as most people here opposed it from the beginning.Now I am sure that many would vote for but then that truly is peoples government.

    Its scary to think that government is trying to stop internet freedom as I write this.
    http://www.internetfreedomcoalition.org/

    Internet makes people smarter and more importantly by a huge amount makes people realize that we are more alike then we are different.That is very powerful and I can tell you people go to music videos on Youtube and argue their point till it seems that the mindset of most changes….for good or bad though…but again its people’s type of government.

    • Wolkstriked:

      Before others pounce on you because of poor grammar and expression (which would be a a bit true), I just laid off a person in my company last week (things aren’t all rosy for me) and when I delivered the news I eventually ended up recounting to her that when I first saw her in the office, about 9 years before, with her tank top and tattoos all over I’d wondered who hired her and how quick she’d be gone. I literally could not understand anything she was writing in an email. But she worked hard and always improved.

      She made me wrong. Ended up being one of my most valued employees ever. She was basically illiterate at the outset in being able to write an email. A few years later, she was running a department with several people she supervised very well, and she always produced more than those she was supervising.

      Anyway, your comment made me think of that. I hate how it has all become qualifications and whatever. Those simply serve to create artificial barriers for the best people, people like her.

      Who are the best people? Those smart enough to lift a middle finger to all that life wasting crap and go out and find someone to work for that’s has a brain, or create your own work.

      • “Anyway, your comment made me think of that. I hate how it has all become qualifications and whatever. Those simply serve to create artificial barriers for the best people, people like her.”

        …and of coarse many of these barriers are created by government regulations through certifications, licenses, etc. It is a symptom of a fundamental flaw of government or directive/leader based thinking. The flaw itself is inability to create. Government can only react.

        The real skill to be learned is the ability to learn, adapt, and create quickly and efficiently. It is the real human progression. This creation comes only from the individual, never from government. When others see it and then adopt it voluntarily a new pattern of society emerges.

        Liberty is the denial of a Leader, regardless of its form(monarch=one, republic=few, or democracy= masses)
        Liberty is the acceptance of an emergent society.

        If birds can do it why not Humans? Efficient and logically operating flocks of birds are not lead by leader bird(s) with his/their rules the others must follow. The organization emerges from from basic developed desires of individual birds to remain a certain equidistant from the bird next them. That is how our “anarchy” would work also.

      • Wolfstriked says:

        Richard,you totally overlooked what I wrote to instead write that I have poor grammar and expression.Ok so,I am a 7th grade dropout and drive a truck for a living so I know I am not gonna score points for that stuff but you could actually read into a primitive mind if you try.;) I mean 25 yrs ago when I first started pushing LC,everybody ridiculed me.Even my parents would laugh and instill stupidity feelings into me that caused many yrs of trying and trying to fit in with the bagels and healthy whole grains.Government that allows people to vote on major political choices to my primitive mind seems like the next step in society and just felt this post was good to plant the idea,stupid or not.

        I find it funny your comment of the worker since that mirrors my life.People always ask me how I am still working with the company,especially being at the point of being fired monthly for past 10yrs.Yet I am still there due to being able to do twice the workload when called upon while so so many employees have gotten the axe.I make the company money plain and simple and so people overlook the lateness and absences etc.When I go on vacation it takes two guys to do my job.Why am I writing this…..dunno,I guess its just that I find people that are grammar police to be annoying.

        BTW “Girl with the dragon tattoo” is my fave movie due to showing that outcasts are actually down right bad ass.LOL

      • Wolfstriked:

        Actually, I didn’t overlook your comment. I agree with you. But reading it reminded me of what I wrote, so I put it out there.

        Hope you continue to kick ass.

  35. This is off topic for this post, but Richard, I like your blog, can you PLEASE cut back to twice a week?
    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/12/health/red-meat-shorten-lifespan/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

    • If that study is accurate I should have been dead five years ago.

      Funny, I don’t feel dead ….

    • Can’t recall where I saw it, I believe yesterday, but apparently there was a study that showed a strong association between owning or driving a car and heart disease, like 2x the risk.

      Yet nobody thinks cars cause heart disease. It’s something else people who happen to own cars do, that causes it. Yet, when a study like this comes out the media always pounce on it as though it’s a direct cause.

      As people often say, they never question what the meat is wrapped in, or what’s slathered all around it.

  36. Montaigne says:

    Richard,

    I think your ego’s getting the best of you here, man. I think underpinning all this anti-government sentiment is more of a quest for validation than anything else. You like the idea of a new world order that puts you at the vanguard. You like to think that whilst everyone else is stuck in the matrix, you’ve managed to escape it. And now you’re generously offering people the red pill if they want it. What false humility it is.

    You enjoy the attention you get via this blog. You enjoy being that ‘smart arse’ that has outwitted all them propagators of nutritional misinformation. It makes you special. And perhaps in someways you are. But I think you’re also spoilt. And you’ve taken it a little too far. You seem to have no appreciation for how lucky you are to live in a democracy and in this time. Progress has been made before your very eyes, but you seem too self-indulgent and cynical to see it.

    No doubt the system is flawed as fuck. But, dude, get over yourself.

    • “But I think you’re also spoilt.” Nail. Head. Hit.
      Having (a) kid(s) makes a person more caring for others. Once you have miniature versions of yourself on the planet, caring for them and the planet takes a higher priority. You no longer party like it’s 1999.

      • Not a realistic view given that the welfare of your kids and the planet in general is mostly out of your control (arguably entirely out of your control). You can care all you want but it won’t change anything.

        When you bring a child into the world the one thing you can be certain of is that the child will know suffering, everything else is a crapshoot.

      • “…the welfare of your kids … is mostly out of your control (arguably entirely out of your control).
        Seriously, WTF?

        As for the planet, people have had success campaigning against environmental damage.
        There are global climate change denialists, of course ;-D That’s another controversial, religion-like topic.

      • There’s a difference between denying climate change (undeniable, in my view and it’s probably always been changing) and being skeptical that man made emissions play a primary or major causal role.

        But I know, the science is “settled” and there’s “consensus.”

      • I meant to write “man-made global climate change”.
        I believe that man-made emissions do have a significant effect on the global climate – and not in a good way.

        Eating too much leafy veggies causes a huge increase in my CH4 emissions and a huge decrease in my social acceptability. :-D

      • You’re a one man global warming emitter, Nigel.

        I hope that was in keeping with interpreting your comments in the worst possible way.

      • That was the best possible way ;-p
        Look what’s just turned up… New theory: CO2 makes you fat

        Now are you going to cut your CO2 emissions?

      • I guess that’s why the dinosaurs were so big.

    • Welcome to pop psychology 101.

      • Montaigne says:

        That’s right, it’s pretty elementary stuff. And, of course, it oversimplifies things. As does the above post on the validity of government. The point is, with all due respect, I don’t think your heart’s in the right place with this one. And I think it’s worth reflecting on.

      • Then I’ve been living to live with my heart in the wrong place for about 15 years.

        You can’t even imagine how much I dismiss all your various needs and thankfulness for being stolen from and booted around.

        I understand that people are readily acclimated to the zoo. I understand it’s safer.

      • Montaigne says:

        The system is flawed, but I wouldn’t put it in the terms you do. Quite ‘sensational’ – to borrow a term you’ve used quite liberally in your last post.

        Safer? Yeah, accepting the current framework – as arbitrary as it seems – is probably safer in the sense that it’s the most sensible place to start. But it’s not about resigning oneself to the status quo or sitting idle. It’s about pursuing improvement realistically. It’s about understanding that change occurs gradually and organically over long periods of time, and that the current framework is pretty much just as good (or bad) as any.

        I’d argue that what is more significant a factor than the framework is the spirit of the people. And, Richard, your choice to abstain from voting, your apathy, your self-indulgence, seems to be reflecting right back at you in the state of politics in the US.

      • “It’s about pursuing improvement realistically”

        Yep. And that’s exactly what I do in my own scope of influence, which is myself and my friends and family.

        I’m not interested in everyone’s “system.” Not a bit, never will be. I’m not interested in spending my time attempting to have the bigger mob, such that we can impose our values on others.

        When people ask why I don’t vote, my immediate answer is always the same: because I wouldn’t do that to you.

  37. We (humans) are reaching a tipping point on several fronts. 1.. Population – we’ve exploded since the oil revolution and its exponentially increasing. 2.. Food – It’s all mass produced using oil (farming, shipping etc) 3.. Environment – We are doing a fantastic job of killing off everything that is supposed to support life – it really is a circular system.

    So what needs to happen? We need to run out of oil (which has allready started), then hopfully the human population drops to pre-oil numbers. If you stop and think about oil for one second – its in everything, not just the engines in our machines. Are we going to power those big tractors on batteries? How will we make tires?? The current money system is and will continue to collapse (just look around) as it only works when there is growth – time to kill our interest based system all together because that “legal tender” paper in your pocket won’t really be worth a damn thing. If you think the planet warming up at this rate is natural, you need to bang your hand on something now! Every scientist agrees that shit is about to hit the fan. So how has technology actually helped us?

    So are we anything more than just a parasite taking over a host that can’t sustain us for much longer??? Are you ready for natures natural correction?? We have evolved into thinking we can’t “love thy neighbor” without “government” and bullshit religion (which actually demonizes non-belivers) LOL. We are the only species on earth that can’t maintain harmony within its environment or any sustainable means of survival…

    And we think we are special :)

    Its time to get real.

    • I pretty much disagree with all of that, mark.

      Sorry.

      • K. I feel better now.
        For a second there I thought us humans were going down the wrong path after “seeing” all these things with my own eyes…. Then for a second I had this scrazy idea the US(and others) may be going into yet another war because of oil – but I must be mad. I just hope their isn’t another staged demolition like 9/11 that knocked down “3” buildings and instead decide to go with the “weapons of mass destruction” angle.

        I mean really – Are our eyes this closed nowadays? Must be something in the water I’m drinking – Scary…

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