Why I’m Not Really Much of a Libertarian; The Definitive Guide

I get tagged with it all the time: "Libertarian." And word has it, my real age is somewhere between 5 and 16 (if you read the latest psychodouche on the Intertubes).

...I wish.

It just so happens, that range of time period roughly coincides with my own youthful formation, here. That's a link to an interactive Google map of where this blogger got his first taste at a real human life. Here's a screen clip. (You can click for the full size, or go to the link and get a bigger view altogether. That's a current pic. Back then—60s and 70s—it was far less developed, -80% so. Far more open fields, many with horses in them.)

House on the Truckee
House on the Truckee

I grew up in the place at the very lower left corner (4040 Goodsell Ln, Reno, NV, built by my parents on land given them by my grandfather as a wedding present in around 1960), and it didn't have the garage behind it. The place next to it, right on the river is new. In the 60s and 70s when I lived there, it was a modest house on the river (a quintessential river house) my grandfather built himself, with a small workshop behind it: where he and one, sometimes two, employees hand painted all the signs for all the casinos in Reno at the time (as well as on the doors of their cars & trucks, and sides of buildings). He was an artist at heart.

..."Grandpa, draw me a horse"....or this and that, and he would. He could also draw—perhaps even with more ease and enthusiasm—a hotly decked out casino showfloor-performer. ...He had a lot of his drawings of women in his shop, here and there. As a young boy, I was expert at finding them and looking at them all, when no one was watching me. I spent a lot of time there, as it was hugely educational on many levels.

He was a flirt, flatterer, or "asshole"—whenever whichever one seemed to suit him best at the time, and which was never when he was fishing—his first love. And perhaps, that's what I learned the best from him. Some measure, but only some.

But anyway, that whole greenbelt you see between the river and highway, all the way from those houses to just above the top end of the photo, was my grandfather's property. That's where I spent my early life—barefoot, bareback, and in cutoff jeans in the summer. I had "scary" experiences with girls my parents and grandparents never had a hint of. In looking at the picture, put a 4-5ft human kid in that open space. It was enormous, to me. ...And after that, we moved to a place north of Reno with a 5,000 sq ft garden; and chickens, goats and rabbits. I was the chief executioner, at about 15.

None of it was the african savannah.

Rather, it was my own real slice of life that I loved, and that I cherish to this day. I didn't grow up in an urban or suburban environment—being indoctrinated daily in how to be a better and better thief and manipulator of "the system." Many others did, it seems, now wringing hands over how to justify the propriety of their formation. In fact, what they got was a sterile, burgeoning corporatist environment: a gov-corp alliance. And I did not, so much. I didn't...so lump it. I'm not responsible for that...but they are—those who still want to be thieves or live off thievery.

And I'll have none of it, ever, and I introduce the foregoing into evidence as to why. But one more thing, first. All those roads you see were privately owned. They (gravel roads initially) were built by the people who came first, and then maintained by my grandfather and his brother—and a few helpful property owners in the area—who got it all paved in the early 70's when my grandfather and the aforementioned interested parties wrote checks to a contractor who did the work. Yes, in case you didn't know, private citizens can actually build and maintain roadz!!! There's another cool aspect to private roads, too. You can drive on them without a state license, or interference from feral pigs of city and state. I did, from about the age of 8 or 9 on my dad's Honda 50 scooter...later my grandfather's Honda 90...and even later, cars and trucks and stuff. I'd driven thousands of miles long before I was ordained by the State of Nevada to "learn to drive" at 15.

Suckers!

...And thieves (people) wonder why I fart in their general direction. I do not need them...those not in my tight circle. They have nothing to offer me beyond being just another bunch of thieves, like everybody else who claims the mantle of "adult maturity."

I'm not much of a "libertarian" for three reasons off the top of my head:

  1. Utilitarianism.
  2. Euphemism.
  3. Collectivism.

Utilitarianism

Let me use a word many readers are more likely to recognize and identify with: efficiency. I'll quote a recent blog comment from Martin Kilpatrick.

Nikoley you bell-end, how about the next time you decide to start spouting off about "collectivism" and "socialism" (i.e. giving a shit about other people other than your own selfish ass), why don't you check your facts you moron. Progressive socialized health care is not only more effective than your "personal responsibility" Yankee Doodle dog-eat-dog bullshit, but it actuallys SAVES your precious tax-payers money. [...]

And by the way Nikoley, give the flag waving a rest mate. Freedom? You don't even know the meaning of the word.

Real freedom is waking up every day without having to worry about whether you have enough money to pay for treatment if you get hit by a bus or struck by lightning. Freedom is having peace of mind. Now if you can't handle freedom, if you don't wake up every day loving the sweet smell of freedom, then why don't you fuck back off to Russia and shove a turnip up your ass!

Now, everyone always gets to judge for themselves, but I basically see a guy who doesn't really want to deal with a real, honest-to-god human life. Judge that for yourself. One of my longtime readers and friend, Bill, well answered the latter part of Martin's queef.

Fascinating, Martin. So for some reason you think people are out there "having to worry..." And what weird things to worry about.

I don't wake up worried over anything. Why would you? And I certainly don't wake up thinking "OMG, what if I get hit by a bus today!?!" Not high on my list of concerns.

Do you actually wake up worrying about these things? If so, I suggest a good counselor will do much more for you than socialized medicine.

When I was broke, unemployed, in debt, with the landlord calling the night before to tell me I was being evicted, I didn't wake up worrying. Maybe that's why all of those things are not the case today.

A simple question. They have a dispute over freedom. Who's more free?...And isn't it essentially New-Speak; Orwellian, on some level? "Freedom," now, is what's most efficient, most comfortable, and not having to "worry"? Really? Or, are things only more comfortable, efficient, carefree...because society is organized in such a way that the intellectually and connivingly cleverest get the spoils: and we now call what might better be called unearned privilege, "Freedom"?

Another utilitarian/libertarian bugaboo is the notion of efficient laws. One of the greatest examples of pure efficiency in lawfulness, to me, is the history of the Wannsee Conference, dramatized in the excellent film, Conspiracy. My take: 'Hitler is messy, unstable. Let's clean up after him and make the Jewish extermination efficient. More importantly: let's make it legal.'

Go check it out for all the calls for efficiency and obeisance to law in the commission of atrocities. Do it, because you really need to stop using those words (efficiency, law) as though they mean something beyond the importance of a hammer. That is: hammers are important. They're amoral. Just a tool. They don't come with automatic morality so's that you don't have to think and be very circumspect in their use.

Principles matter.

The extermination of the Jews was both efficient and legal. All those who participated were efficient little minions of state authority, in full obedience of law. That's a simple real-inconvenient truth, whether you like it or not. So why did anyone complain? Youz guizes are always telling me what a child I am because I complain about such stuff—obviously lacking your breadth of adult nuance—so what's up? Tell me, please, because I'm apparently wallowing in my childish fantasies, here, and can't see forests for trees.

...Just as I'm often criticized for being too principled, or, hanging onto "first principles." It really makes me laugh a bit because principles, by nature, are a hierarchy of philosophical logic (good, bad, evil). The weird logic, to me, is that you can apparently hold some principles—just not their foundation—the "first ones," from which others are logically derived—and somehow be more effective and efficient than simply going The Full Monte.

I opine that the reason for not being principled lies in the desire to be seen as effective and efficient™. Oh, and caring and compassionate™. For example, who wants to say that maybe more people will suffer and die, but we ought to dump this and that anyway because it's just not right? Who wants to say that you might not be able to travel effortlessly on interstate highways, but we ought not steal from people to build them? Who wants to say say that they don't care that tax money goes to more "efficient" uses—to "create jobs" or "care" for people and such—but that you just don't steal to do anything, even save lives?

Libertarians have been an endless frustration to me precisely for what I'm criticized for the most: I don't care about "efficiency"...or "utility"—makes my hackles go up every time. It's not, and never will be my job to show anyone how they can have just as good of a deal if you take institutionalized, systemic theft, force and coercion out of the equation. My guess is that it will be better for some, worse for others—and human beings will get to be closer to being the human beings I thought I might be fortunate enough to be a part of when I was frolicking in the greenbelt and swimming in the river all summer long. ...Yea, childish.

I know. I'm such a child. I think it's bad to steal from people. So childish. See, way back when—maybe now still—we taught children not to take by force, and to at least try to be a bit charitable in their toy dealing with other children (share and the like). Little did I know that what we really meant was that you have to be systemic. That's sophistication, see. "You can't steal yet. You're not an adult and you don't yet know how to call it something else, much less pretend that stealing is helping." Once you achieve "adult" enlightenment, you get to steal far, far more from people...but it'll be sophisticated, adult style-stealing. Bonus: you'll get to call people who really don't like to steal, children.

We teach our children to not take toys. And to share them. We turn around and teach them how to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, cilvil workers on gold-standard pensions for life: to steal far more efficiently, effectively. We wrap it all up in a bow: it's better for everyone. That's how we work it out.

...John Durant, a blogger friend of mine, just let off a whole huge whiff of smelly, obnoxious steam on Twitter about the Obamanation of Obamacare (beginning 7/6/12), which is a bit part of the impetus for this post. You might want to check out his bits & pieces on that. I do like his take on it: reverse sexism. He's right. Check it out.

...And nobody should vote. Not men, nor women either. Nobody. Spooner saw this whole thing coming in 1877.

Women are human beings, and consequently have all the natural rights that any human beings can have. They have just as good a right to make laws as men have, and no better; AND THAT IS JUST NO RIGHT AT ALL. No human being, nor any number of human beings, have any right to make laws, and compel other human beings to obey them. To say that they have is to say that they are the masters and owners of those of whom they require such obedience.

The only law that any human being can rightfully be compelled to obey is simply the law of justice. And justice is not a thing that is made, or that can be unmade, or altered, by any human authority. It is a natural principle, inhering in the very nature of man and of things. It is that natural principle which determines what is mine and what is thine, what is one man’s right or property and what is another man’s right or property. It is, so to speak, the line that Nature has drawn between one man’s rights of person and property and another man’s rights of person and property.

This natural principle, which we will call justice, and which assigns to each and every human being, is, I repeat, not a thing that has made, but is a matter of science to be learned, like mathematics, or chemistry, or geology. And all the laws, so called, that men have ever made, either to create, define, or control the rights of individuals, were intrinsically just as absurd and ridiculous as would be laws to create, define, or control mathematics, or chemistry, or geology.

Word. Lysander Spooner—creator of the first private postal service, shut down by the feds—was a silly child, like me. Here, you can read the while thing if you like.

Again: principles matter.

Euphemism

This goes most recently to my posts about the Obamanation of "healthcare" and the stupid over stupid comments in so many cases. How do I even frame this? OK, here's a quick try.

"Richard, you're bullshit. Offer us a better system."

"System" is the quintessential euphemism.

Here, I can help: "Richard, you're bullshit. Offer us a better way that involves stealing less, but more efficiently."

That's basically what it boils down to. You see, when everyone who exists is basically a thief—one way or another—including myself (I didn't want to be, back in that idyllic childhood fantasy of mine)—that's what you get when you admonish people to stop their thieving ways: well, what are we going to do then?

And I delight in being a huge disappointment, because unlike all the Libertarian "think tanks," I have zero prescriptions for you. I'm sincerely sorry. I simply cannot show you how your life will be better if nobody is stealing for you institutionally, with corporations and government in bed with one-another—each pining for the other to to be a bit bigger and better in bed next time. ...I just don't know. How can I top that you get to go to a voting booth and a whole multi trillion dollar-corp-state-enterprise steals on your behalf? See, I can't, nor can anybody compete with your perception of the wonderful bounty it represents for you, and you'll never believe it's bullshit until your face is in the dirt, where perhaps we all rightly belong.

I suppose Paleo has effected me in this way because I prefer to be mildly proscriptive.

  • Paleo: Kurt Harris-esque; avoid grains, sugar, vegetable/seed oils.
  • Society: Avoid force, theft, coercion. Stop trying to live off it.

Other euphemisms abound, but you get the idea.

Again: it's not a "system." It's institutionalized theft.

Collectivism

This is basically related to the prior two points, but I thought I ought to have Three Reasons, so this serves as the wrap up.

While I suppose one could draw a valid distinction between libertarian philosophy and practical politics, and that I do still see value in the philosophical side, I just see nothing on the practical politics side that isn't essentially collectivist. So its claim to fame, I guess, is that it's less collectivist than what the DemoRebublicrats want.

It's still wholly collectivist, only: taxes should be lower, laws fewer, government smaller and oh yea...everybody should be able to smoke dope. And how does one go about accomplishing any of these goals? Voting. Yep, in some fantasy world somewhere in the universe, there may be a place where even though people could vote themselves the largess the politicians promise they'll take from others to give them, they don't.

But that's never happening on this world.

You will never, ever collectively vote your way out of collectivism. Everyone is always going to clamor to live at the expense of everyone else—there's your Tragedy of the Commons, right big & ugly up there in your face. Voting grows government. It always has and always will as a prime raison d'être; governments get bigger and bigger, budgets bigger and bigger, deficits bigger and bigger...and the whole despicable cannibal pot in general: bigger and bigger, so that more and more can be tossed in, so that more and more can feast on the values produced and stolen from others.

I'm for markets, or "free markets," to use what I consider a redundancy. Unfortunately, we have precious little of that around here. Basically, you've got Craig's List, eBay, garage sales, and private barter that largely constitute our only truly free markets. Everything else is so constrained by onerous regulation throughout the entire supply chain that nobody has any idea of what the value of something at the retail level really ought to reasonably be, because the costs of all that government intervention—from raw material acquisition, manufacturing, distributions, to product on the shelf—is baked into the cake.

Consequently, I'm not much of a "capitalist," either. Markets is really the only term I need to describe the way real humans ought to deal with one another as traders of values. The term capitalism is now so mired in corporatism—itself a creation of the state that shields owners and capitalists from personal liability for their directive actions—that I hardly know what to think of it, anymore.

I'm for businesses run as classic proprietorships or partnerships, where personal liability exists as a logical principle for doing business. And I'm for individuals and businesses dealing with one another as traders of values in markets. I don't need libertarian woo, i.e., state sanctioned and protected corporatism and capitalism, so-called "free markets" that have been "privatized" (a government contract with a state-protected corporation), or any of their other less-collectivist machinations.

I'm not interested in stealing less, regulating less, or any of the other unprincipled libertarian gibberish.

I'm interested in opposing theft and force unconditionally, at all times, with no exceptions ever and thus, I'm just not much of a libertarian.

Comments

  1. Mike C S says:

    You sound like an anarcho-capitalist to me. They are the Great Satan to the collectivists, who totally abhor the notion of such degree of freedom because it terrifies them.

    • Mike:

      Yea, I don’t totally hate the term, but I shy away from it. Market anarchist is better, free-market anarchist acceptable. I shy away from A-C because of the implication with corporatism (the big-corp state bedfellow alliance). Not an expert on all the tenets, but Agorism seems to describe how I think in many ways.

    • You beat me to it, Mike. Richard seems to be rejecting the entire system as corrupt rather than trying to work within it to improve it. I suspect he is familiar with this already though.

      So-called libertarians too often are really saying “Give me the power. I’ll use it better.”

    • “Give me the power. I’ll use it better.”

      Ha, yep.

  2. marie says:

    Enthralled. Had to shelve the sharpened knives .. of any nationality.
    I’m framing this, with the print-outs from the links.
    Worth the wait Richard.
    (and I personally appreciated Lysander’s background :)

  3. I started following your blog earlier today and this was a surprise! I thought you posted mostly about food (maybe you do). Anyway, I wanted to stop by and say hello, I’m following blah-blah.

    • Hi Lily.

      Yea, mostly about food/Paleo but I increasingly do a bit now and then about freedom, individualism, market anarchism and such.

      Welcome. There will be food this week. Maybe a rant. I’m seeing a bunch of stuff about Monsanto today, so I’ll have to look into it.

  4. I’m one of those skeptical of first principles in politics and philosophy (which are really the same thing)–so I end up being much more of a libertarian. Even the so-called natural rights that are the bedrock of libertarianism I consider to be very much an artificial construct. Unlike the speed of light in a vacuum or the (pretty well established) fact that gravity warps space, I’ve a hard time casting political/philosophical principles in stone. There is too much gray area for me to be comfortable.

    I believe in natural rights, I believe that the free market is inherently superior to socialism for the reasons Hayek and others espoused, etc. I believe in these things quite strongly. But at the same time I think they are artificial constructs that I’m not willing to equate with what I consider Platonic truths of science and mathematics. This is why I have a hard time taking philosophy seriously,why I’m not really interested in the ethics for or against veganism. It seems that many philosophers who work from first principles, from Plato’s fascist utopia to Rousseau’s proto-communism, Marx and the rest, end up justifying abhorrent behavior with their first principle arguments.

    I have, for example, no clear stance on abortion. I can’t really buy into the life begins at conception argument. When an egg is fertilized and splits into two cells it is suddenly a human life? I don’t buy it. On the other hand, late term abortions are pretty horrific. A first principles stand would take an either or position on abortion but I simply can’t internally frame this in black and white terms.

    So I’m skeptical of the first principles approach. Principles are fine things, and I like to think I’m a principled person, but I get leery of people who want to work out all right and wrong from first principles.

    • “Even the so-called natural rights…”

      Easy as pie.

      Natural rights is merely the recognition that humans, unlike other animals do not have automatic knowledge as to how to survive, nor do they have automatic drives for survival and procreation such that they cannot not do those things.

      They must consciously act, which means they must choose to act and that natural choice implies a natural right to choose. There’s nothing supernatural or woo about it. Natural choice implies natural right to choose, simple as that. Or, to state it another way, denying a human his natural right to choose is an act against nature.

      “I believe that the free market is inherently superior to socialism for the reasons Hayek and others espoused, etc.”

      I would still oppose systemic theft on principled grounds, even it could be proven that markets are destructive and socialism uplifting. How about you? Suppose it could be proven beyond all reasonable doubt that socialism is superior and you believed the proof. Would you become a socialist?

      Abortion. I’m a man. It’s none of my business, ever. See, that was easy. And for women: the only abortion that’s your business is your own abortion. Almost as easy.

    • Incidentally, there is only one natural right: the right to life. All others are corollary (property, freedom from coercion, etc.)

    • Robert Ve says:

      @sean
      This is pretty much how I think about it as well.

      @richard
      “How about you? Suppose it could be proven beyond all reasonable doubt that socialism is superior and you believed the proof. Would you become a socialist?”

      This is interesting. Why wouldn’t you become a socialist if it was really superior? Just because of first principles? Sounds pretty stupid to me.

      I don’t agree with your anti-utilitarianism stance. Who would complain if they lived in a restrictive society that produced deliriously happy citizens?

      I imagine this would be paradise with god lording over all.

    • “Why wouldn’t you become a socialist if it was really superior?”

      In the context of my argument, I mean superior on purely utilitarian grounds, i.e., more people are “better off” according to some set of adopted standards under socialism than some other system.

      So, since freedom from theft would certainly not be one of those standards, it can certainly not be superior to _me_.

      “I don’t agree with your anti-utilitarianism stance. Who would complain if they lived in a restrictive society that produced deliriously happy citizens?

      “I imagine this would be paradise with god lording over all.”

      OK, first of all the right to property (freedom from theft, to state it in corollary fashion) is merely a form of freedom. How important is freedom qua value, to you?

      Suppose you had the opportunity to live in the most beautiful mansion you can imagine, in a beautiful setting, all the amenities you could ever wish for, except one: freedom. You can check in, but you can never leave. Of course, that’s your business and your values, but I know it would be of no more interest to me than it would be for a wild animal to be locked up in my house, but given three meals per day, a soft bed, and security from predators.

    • Robert Ve says:

      “In the context of my argument, I mean superior on purely utilitarian grounds, i.e., more people are “better off” according to some set of adopted standards under socialism than some other system.”

      For me the ultimate standard is happiness/well-being. If to that standard socialism is absolutely superior than it would be logical to choose it over anything else.

      “Suppose you had the opportunity to live in the most beautiful mansion you can imagine, in a beautiful setting, all the amenities you could ever wish for, except one: freedom. You can check in, but you can never leave. ”

      Sure, if the mansion offered everything I could ever want. Why not?

      In a way we are already checked into the mansion, it’s called reality. In reality you don’t get everything you ever want. The fantasy mansion would be an improvement over that.

    • marie says:

      Oh Robert, where to start…. First off, practicality doesn’t trump ethics, ever. Because practical problems arise almost immediately, look :
      Your utilitarian “happiness/well-being” hits a big problem right away, happiness/well-being for Whom? Even if it’s a majority, that would mean there’s a tyranny of the majority over the minority.
      Next, how Much happiness/well-being (or for that matter, security, or comfort or…) would you accept in return for your freedom to manage your own life or to create your own happiness/well-being?

      Finally, along the practical theme, that mansion may have “everything (you) could even want” Now, which is why it’s even tempting, but tell me, were you born wanting everything you want now? Is it conceivable that later you will want other things? Is it a magic fantasy mansion that adapts to your needs always? In which case, logically, it will also provide you with the freedom to leave at some point should you wish it…and there the thought experiment implodes.
      Then you kinda side-step that by bringing up ‘reality’ in the context of compromise (“you don’t get everything you want”) and again with utilitarianism where the fantasy mansion is an improvement over reality.
      This still doesn’t let you out of the logical loop though, because it brings us back full circle to the first two points above, how much of an improvement, for whom and for how many?
      We can take utilitarian arguments to their conclusion….or, you know, just not make them :-)

    • Robert Ve says:

      Oh Marie, where to start….. Ha!

      “First off, practicality doesn’t trump ethics, ever. Because practical problems arise almost immediately, look”

      Yes, I agree there are practical problems, but to say that because of those problems practicality never trumps ethics is pretty strange. I can imagine many situation in which practicality trumps ethics. People do the unethical things all the time when forced to do it. If I put a gun to your head and make you do something against your moral code it would be practical for you to do it. Unless you’re a saint you will do it, because you don’t want to die.

      “Your utilitarian “happiness/well-being” hits a big problem right away, happiness/well-being for Whom? Even if it’s a majority, that would mean there’s a tyranny of the majority over the minority.”

      Sure, I’m not principally against it. There will always be people not happy in the current society, I’m sure even in a society where anarchy was the norm a minority would be unhappy. It sucks of course if you’re in the minority. The current system is good for almost nobody that is the problem.

      “Next, how Much happiness/well-being (or for that matter, security, or comfort or…) would you accept in return for your freedom to manage your own life or to create your own happiness/well-being?”

      This is a real and difficult question. I can’t give an answer to this. It would have to be an experimental thing. I would try to err on the side of freedom though.(but not principally, practically)

      “In which case, logically, it will also provide you with the freedom to leave at some point should you wish it…and there the thought experiment implodes.”

      Yes, indeed. So what? The mansion wasn’t my idea!

      “This still doesn’t let you out of the logical loop though, because it brings us back full circle to the first two points above, how much of an improvement, for whom and for how many?”

      Again, no easy answer. There is a limit to how much I care about other people, especially people I don’t know. So to answer you question of whom and how many: mainly me and my family and friends (the tribe I guess). The question of how much is simply not answerable without actual experience of the improvement. It would have to be tested. (In the movie matrix it is claimed that people were quite unhappy with paradise, maybe that would be the case in reality as well, no way to know)

      “We can take utilitarian arguments to their conclusion….or, you know, just not make them”

      However utilitarianism is especially not about static linear thinking. Things change, we don’t have all the information we need or the intelligence to process it: so live and learn, achieve the goals you have in the best way possible.

      It really comes down to this: sometimes the end justifies to means. And perhaps also this: power doesn’t need to justify. (i.e. the lion doesn’t need to ask permission to eat the gazelle.

      I’m enjoying this, thanks you for that.

    • marie says:

      Me too Robert, thanks for responding, it’s fun to get down to the nitty-gritty :)
      .
      Yes, I know the mansion wasn’t your example, but you used it to state “if the mansion offered everything I could ever want, why not?” You owned the gilded cage argument at that point.
      .
      There may be a misunderstanding about practicality – you discuss force overriding ethics.
      I don’t mean force, I mean practical choices versus ethical ones.
      Of course force trumps everything, I totally agree, that is because it removes choice.
      Yes, you can ‘choose’ to die (and a few have done just that in extreme ethical challenges, usually altruistic-family ones) but you are right, unless you’re a saint, force will win. So force does not actually allow choice…and that’s by definition eh?
      .
      . Mostly though, if we argue from the standpoint of “what is best for the most people”, we are making a practical, aka utilitarian, argument. Those are relativistic as far as I have seen (though I’m still looking, which is why I enjoy these conversations) but I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t peter-out as I follow it to it’s conclusion or get in a logic loop.
      Ethics is not relativistic. And so, while it provides a more consistent way to live, it remains more difficult to live ethically. But then, courage isn’t a weed, it takes some cultivating. So I’m hoping that one day, maybe, I’ll manage to grow me some ;)

    • marie says:

      Btw, with acknowledgment of caring for “mainly me and my family and friends (the tribe I guess)” you have the honest, fundamental roots of anarchy right there – or so I think, it’s kinda how I started down this road so I’m admittedly biased on that point:)

    • Robert Ve says:

      “Yes, I know the mansion wasn’t your example, but you used it to state “if the mansion offered everything I could ever want, why not?” You owned the gilded cage argument at that point.”

      That is true, but as it wasn’t really my argument I wasn’t particularly attached to it. So I threw it away.

      “I don’t mean force, I mean practical choices versus ethical ones.”

      Why make the ethical choice anyway? What is so great about being ethical?

      “but I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t peter-out as I follow it to it’s conclusion or get in a logic loop.”

      I see this rather as a strength, reality is too complicated for perfectly consistent answers. Also I wonder about the loop, can you give an example?

      “Ethics is not relativistic”

      I would say that they are. This is in fact shown in scientific research. Ethics are only absolute in theory (philosophy).

    • “the ultimate standard is happiness/well-being.”

      It actually is. I prefer to manage that for myself. I encourage others to do so as well, not have it asserted that I or anyone else is happy/well off. Of course, they do this already, because we already live in a benevolent sort of totalitarianism.

      “Sure, if the mansion offered everything I could ever want. Why not?”

      To my stipulation: you never have the freedom to leave. Might you ever want to? How do you know, and how could you make that decision for anyone else?

      Ever looked into the psychology where prisoners and slaves eventually come to admire an cooperate with their jailers and slaveholders? You might want to. Might be healthy.

    • “Why make the ethical choice anyway? What is so great about being ethical?”
      .
      Everyone already lives by some code of ethics, whether conscious of it or not : note the multitude of choices that we make just in everyday living automatically, we certainly don’t stop to reason-out each one.
      The only question then is, are these conscious ethics or patterned/imitated behavior. Some combination of the two for most people seems the norm. Now if you violate your ethics one of two things, at least, will happen: if they were unconscious then you have an unspecified sense of dissatisfaction/uneasiness and if conscious, you lose respect for you own self, guilt happens – ouch, that.
      Either way, you’ve answered yourself really, further up.
      It’s all about happiness.
      That is what is so great about being ethical.
      (keeping in mind the difference between passing pleasures and happiness)

    • Robert Ve says:

      “To my stipulation: you never have the freedom to leave. Might you ever want to? How do you know, and how could you make that decision for anyone else?”

      Than no, I wouldn’t check into the mansion, and this would also be for an utilitarian reason, namely: possible future complications. I could make the decision for other people if I had the power. I just don’t see morals as absolute, that’s not to say that I would go around forcing people to do this or that even if I had the power. Morals are partly hardwired into the brain, but highly malleable to context and conditioning. That’s why I wouldn’t, that’s why most people don’t (in their personal life at least).

      “Ever looked into the psychology where prisoners and slaves eventually come to admire an cooperate with their jailers and slaveholders? You might want to. Might be healthy.”

      Am I suddenly suffering from Stockholm syndrome now?

      “It’s all about happiness.
      That is what is so great about being ethical.”

      1. I’m not convinced moral behavior leads to happiness.
      2. Ethics are not the same for every person or group of people.

      It might be that some evil bastard somewhere is pretty happy.

    • AH, the true utilitarian, answers two commenters in one go – well, you are consistent, hats off for that :)

      1. Of course some evil bastard somewhere is pretty happy, by reason of the fact that there are evil bastards. And murderous maniacs and thieving swine. But not most people, or we’d have gone extinct a long time ago. So for you and me who were having the conversation and for those who would even consider ethics in passing, ie. for most people, the argument applies. It’s about happiness.
      2. Yes, of course ethics are not the same for every person or group, culture matters and successful cultures lead to thriving groups, aka natural selection at the society level.
      However, some basics are the same, the same basics that are indispensable to the survival of any group, eg. no murder or theft. In the context of this post, these are the ones at issue. Not so much direct murder and theft as indirect, via government. Can’t see how social human beings can be happy with either. So again, even in this context, being ethical is about happiness.

    • Galina L. says:

      Probably you can be happy locked in your home if you saw nothing else and everybody else is locked too. I am not arguing about which way to manage capitalism is better, probably because it doesn’t matter what we think. Everything has a downside, too much market forces could be too cruel in application, too much regulations could act as a sand in mechanical clocks. Humans are notorious for not hitting a golden middle in anything.
      I just want to say I used to live during socialism, my childhood was amazingly safe, I was free to go everywhere by metro since age 10, to lectures in the Biology museum, to my art school, I went to do skiing in a beautiful safe park during winter, there were always children to play with in the yard next to my apartment building. When I became a young woman, limitations became more obvious, it was difficult to buy necessary products without standing in lines, I new I would never ever go abroad, it was difficult to buy a furniture when I got married, but since everybody else was equally constrained , it did not feel very oppressive, most people felt safe and happy despite lack of consumers choices. The main problem with socialism – it is not a vital society, build on utopian principals that complex system could be micromanaged in order to achieve a perfectly just way of living. It couldn’t last,( while it lasts there is a mindboggling nonsense everywhere ), and to live through unavoidable major changes is really painful, worse than socialism itself. During my lifetime people lost all their savings at least couple times. Right now there is a “wild west” in Russia, horrible corruption on the top of everything. Looking at life here in US and comparing it with what is going on at home, I think that whatever is going on in the US, it is the easiest place to live.

    • Robert Ve says:

      @marie

      1.I gave this one a bit of a think. (hence the late and perhaps too late reply) I will give you point 1. Ethics are important for happiness. Not being true to your own ethics is going to make you unhappy. That makes point 2 even more important and I’m afraid I will have to continue to disagree with you there.

      2.No-theft and no-murder may be pretty universal ethics, but what is considered murder and theft is not. This is the issue. I still claim that a society that has institutionalized murder and theft (which would of course not be considered to be murder and theft) could be a happy one. Why? Because that has been the case in the past. I bet that for most people the “free” wealthy western nation have been good for them. The problem is really that it was all a big pyramid scheme and a slippery slope to madness. Now the quality of life goes down so fast that people begin to worry and they should.

      But to get back to the main issue. Calling something murder or theft is already an value assumption. I personally don’t see taking-a-life and taking-resources as absolutely wrong. For me it really all depends on the circumstances and the goal. So yes, utilitarianism.

      @Galina L.
      Interesting post, kind of proves my point.

    • Robert Ve says:

      From the wiki:
      “Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes overall “happiness”. It is now generally taken to be a form of consequentialism.” and
      “Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence.”

      So utilitarianism taken to it’s logical conclusion is an uber (very) happy society. The fact that it so often doesn’t workout is a practical problem. Using the wrong strategy to achieve something is not a failing of utilitarianism.

      Richard and marie could be called utilitarians who favor ethics as the main strategy. And the problems with ethics is of course their relativity. Everything can be made ethical through conditioning (and who known in the future maybe literal rewiring of the brain) thus everyone is really a utilitarian.

      • “Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes overall “happiness”.”

        Right, i.e., not _individual_ happiness. That is, if 99 people can be made very happy by killing, dismembering and eating the 100th person, it’s utilitarian. There’s only a single unhappy one.

    • Robert, we seem to be learning from each other as we work things out, this is the best kind of discussion, thank you.
      Here’s my problem with point number two : “I bet that for most people the “free” wealthy western nation have been good for them. The problem is really that it was all a big pyramid scheme and a slippery slope to madness. Now the quality of life goes down so fast that people begin to worry and they should.” I make the point somewhere else about the illusion too. But, This seems to contradict your idea that a society that has institutionalized murder and theft (even so that they are no longer considered such) can be a happy one. Yes briefly, maybe, but that works on the individual level too where expediency (or even pleasures) trump ethics for a short time, but don’t lead to happiness.
      _
      About definitions : not all concepts involve a value assumption, but yes, we who are having this discussion are in the west and so can only use the western culture’s definitions of murder and theft – and they are not about taking-a-life or taking- resources. That’s killing and procuring, no?

    • Robert, “the problems with ethics is of course their relativity. Everything can be made ethical through conditioning”. Nope, way slippery slope, but I am bad at explaining that. Somewhere in these comments Richard discusses natural rights. That should work here, they are not relative and so ethics that are based on them can’t be.

    • Or maybe this edit explains my thinking :
      “Everything can be made *to be accepted as* ethical through conditioning” – it doesn’t’ mean that everything IS ethical. Ethics have their own internal consistency, or else they are not ethics, they maybe cultural norms or laws or memes or other transient constructs.

    • Until such time as the human animal evolves or devolves to the sort that is born without the natural trait of having to choose to act for its own survival and choose the appropriate values, then natural rights for humans are objective and the ethics that logically follow just as objective.

    • Re conditioning, see Milgram’s experiments.

    • Robert Ve says:

      “But, This seems to contradict your idea that a society that has institutionalized murder and theft (even so that they are no longer considered such) can be a happy one.”

      It doesn’t contradict it. I would agree that given the current state of humanity it wouldn’t work in the long run, but not because of the institutionalized lethal force and forced reallocation of resources. And there is a big difference between doesn’t work and can’t ever work.

      “Ethics have their own internal consistency, or else they are not ethics, they maybe cultural norms or laws or memes or other transient constructs.”

      That is really hijacking the term ethics. Saying: these are the ethics, because I say so. The fact that we can discus ethics already shows us that they are not absolute.

      Lets try a different mode of inquiry.How can ethics be absolute? Ethics are in the brain, the brain tells you what to do and when to do it. The brain is based on conditioning and genes. Neither of those are absolute, then how can ethics be absolute.

      Another way to see it is: 1. Ethics are rules of conduct. 2. Effective behavior is flexible and context depend.
      Then it just doesn’t make sense that ethics would be absolute?

    • Robert Ve says:

      @marie
      “Robert, we seem to be learning from each other as we work things out, this is the best kind of discussion, thank you.”

      Certainly. Really enjoying it.

      @Richard
      “Until such time as the human animal evolves or devolves to the sort that is born without the natural trait of having to choose to act for its own survival and choose the appropriate values, then natural rights for humans are objective and the ethics that logically follow just as objective.”

      Such a complicated sentence. So they are not objective (ethics)?

      • “Such a complicated sentence. So they are not objective (ethics)?”

        Depends on whether you’re talking about objective or subjective ethics (there are both, and both are valuable). For example, social or cultural taboos are examples of subjective ethics in many cases (not all).

        Objective ethics arise from objective natural rights. There’s only really one of those, the right to one’s own life. All else derives from there.

    • “Ethics are in the brain, the brain tells you what to do and when to do it. The brain is based on conditioning and genes. Neither of those are absolute, then how can ethics be absolute.”
      Physics laws are in the brain…but try stepping off a building and telling me gravity isn’t absolute. :)

      What I mean is, of course we use our brain to understand and discover the world, that doesn’t mean we ‘made it up’ – hence the difference between objective and subjective reality. You wish to define all ethics as subjective. I claim there are objective ethics. That is all.

      You are quite right on terminology, I may not universally define the term ‘ethics’ to mean objective ethics (that is, internally consistent ones) – this is because there are too many interpretations of the word ‘ethics’ and so I can only give the definition that I mean in a discussion. Which I have done.

      However, “the fact that we can discuss ethics already shows us that they are not absolute” – erhm, well, not if one of us is wrong, eh? :) But really, consider that we discuss physics too as we learn it, we probe and explore, the physics itself doesn’t change.

    • I am beginning to lose english syntax, the words themselves will go next. I am not feeling well. Please excuse a break that I may take next?

    • Robert Ve says:

      @marie

      I hope that you are feeling better. :)

      “Physics laws are in the brain…but try stepping off a building and telling me gravity isn’t absolute. ”

      Then I would say that our conception of the laws of physics is not absolute. A madman could try to defy gravity. However, we are talking about ethics and ethics do not concern the laws of nature, but complex social interaction. In a way gravity is very simple: what goes up must come down. Specific ethical behavior does not always meet with the same predictable response. That is why it is and must be flexible. It’s can’t and must not be considered absolute.

      “What I mean is, of course we use our brain to understand and discover the world, that doesn’t mean we ‘made it up’”

      Yes it does. Our view of the world is a subjective model. Accurate enough to allow is to operate in the world effectively, but subjective none the less.

      “this is because there are too many interpretations of the word ‘ethics’ and so I can only give the definition that I mean in a discussion. Which I have done.”

      You do more than that. You claim that it is the RIGHT definition.

      “But really, consider that we discuss physics too as we learn it, we probe and explore, the physics itself doesn’t change.”

      It’s just not correct to equate physics with ethics. Ethics are are rules on how to interact with each-other effectively. There isn’t just only one way to do this.

    • Thank you Robert, I am.
      Yes, of course I claim my definition is right, why would I bother arguing about it otherwise? :)
      So do you claim yours.
      It really just boils down to you claim all ethics are subjective and I claim some are objective – their objectivity by the way arises from human nature, just like the objectivity of other Natural laws.
      .
      And so, there’s nothing new under the sun, people have been debating ‘natural law’ and ‘natural rights ‘ versus common law/civic rights for millennia. Here :

      “Natural law, or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis), is a system of law that is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal. Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature — both social and personal — and deduce binding rules of moral behavior.”
      “Although natural law is often conflated with common law, the two are distinct in that natural law is a view that certain rights or values are inherent in or universally cognizable by virtue of human reason or human nature,
      while common law is the legal tradition whereby certain rights or values are legally cognizable by virtue of judicial recognition or articulation.
      Natural law theories have, however, exercised a profound influence on the development of English common law, and have featured greatly in the philosophies of Thomas Aquinas, Francisco Suárez, Richard Hooker, Thomas Hobbes, Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf, John Locke, Francis Hutcheson, Jean Jacques Burlamaqui, and Emmerich de Vattel. Because of the intersection between natural law and natural rights, it has been cited as a component in United States Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, as well as in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Declarationism states that the founding of the United States is based on Natural law.”
      And I’ll add Aristotle to the list…and others.

      More : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law

      And for a different twist on universal, natural morality, this from science, not ‘philosophy’ (though isn’t it all philosophia?…and I’m a scientist by trade :)) :
      Marc D. Hauser : Moral minds (it’s an evolutionary perspective, bringing insights from biology, primatology, anthropology, experimental psychology and linguistics)
      Steven Pinker (0f course!) : Blank Slate (he exposes that there is in no such thing).

  5. Travis Steward says:

    Richard is preaching the gospel here. The gospel of Dick. Powerful stuff.

    It’s funny how similar we are Richard. I too no longer really affiliate with the libertarian label. Yes, technically I am an “anarcho-capitalist” of the Rothbardian flavour, but even then I’m just somewhat tired of these concepts.

    I don’t know if I care about “society” anymore in the sense that I used to. There’s simply too much institutionalized theft to save/help/reform anything on some grand scale. The only power I see that I have against it is to get myself and those I care about free from this matrix we’ve all been plugged into.

  6. Richard, if put in the 4040 address, it’ll pin-point our former house.

  7. Richard, may I ask why you single out property rights? That is just one of a multitude of cultural norms people have.

    Already granting property rights leads to quit a big government. What if your friends at Monsanto take a 1 % risk per year of blowing up all of Nevada to make a nice profit and the managers just hope that it does not happen during their watch. Some personal liability after the fact will not stop them.

    Just because the state is not working well in the US, you do not have to make a philosophy out of it. All your rants only make it worse. Why would good people join the government if they are seen as bad people? And it everyone expects you to do the worst, why would you act good? Treat people like children they will behave like children. Keep on call civil servants and politicians thieves and they will wonder why they are the only ones not stealing.

    • “Richard, may I ask why you single out property rights? That is just one of a multitude of cultural norms people have.”

      Property is pretty basic, the very first corollary after the natural right to life. If you have a natural right to life, you must be able to dispose of property (food, clothing, shelter, etc.). If you don’t, you don’t have a right to life. That is, no human being under any sort of state has a true, unequivocal right to life. We all exist at the mercy and largess of the state, financed via the systematic theft of property.

      But, yes, there are other corollary rights, and there are cultural norms and such. Important ones. Look, I have’t a qualm in the world, for example, if a bunch of people wish to get together and live commune style. After all, our HG ancestors were probably pretty commie. But those were in groups of 30-60 people or so where each member could account for the values and actions of every other member and every individual had a real potential of being able to influence the action and direction of the entire group.

      Actually, I quite love the “social glue” of culture. Whether through shame, wanting to be a part, self respect or whatever, there is far, far more power in culture than in laws and the state. And if you ask me, the state is the very largest threat to the erosion of culture.

      So, good point and I think we agree on that.

      “Already granting property rights….”

      I’m an anarchist. There’s nobody to “grant” anything. There is the good of the protection of property against would-be aggressors. Protection and security are goods, values, just like food, clothing, TVs, etc. Competent security and protection needs to be produced, just like any other good or service.

      “What if your friends at Monsanto take a 1 % risk per year of blowing up all of Nevada to make a nice profit and the managers just hope that it does not happen during their watch. Some personal liability after the fact will not stop them.”

      First, I spoke to this issue somewhat in a Facebook comment on the Paleo + Libertarian Group…

      “Absent a state, you would not have corporations (you might have large proprietorships or partnerships, but pretty unwieldy at the scale they exist today as multi-nationals). You also would not have publicly traded companies in any way that it’s configured today, along with the shielding of personal liability that stockholder’s enjoy. Yet, some A-Cs talk about business and markets as though they would basically resemble what’s on line today, at the scale it is today.”

      Monsanto is a state sanctioned entity, i.e., it is protected already by threat of force by a massive institution that’s financed through the theft of property.

      I think your scenario pretty far fetched. But here’s what’s not far fetched, because it’s history:

      http://freetheanimal.com/2012/02/whos-the-worstest-of-them-all.html

      excerpt:

      Rudolph Joseph Rummel is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii. He has spent his career assembling data on collective violence and war with a view toward helping their resolution or elimination. Rummel coined the term democide for murder by government (compare genocide, his research claiming that six times as many people died of democide during the 20th century than in all that century’s wars combined.

      Rummel does make entirely valid distinctions between totalitarian regimes and democracies. Not that the democracies don’t kill, but that they kill less. It’s a lot less, but I’ve been looking at his data for years and something strikes me. Totalitarian regimes kill more via democide, while democracies—particularly the US—seem to kill more via war.

      So what’s the toll? His main area of research is on the 20th century. But what’s to take note of, is that democide excludes death as a direct cause of war.

      Pre 20th Century, all Democide (excluding war): 133 million
      20th Century, all Democide (excluding war): 262 million

      You can go down as many rabbit holes into his research as you like, here: Death By Government.

      While not included in the figures as they don’t include war deaths, the American Civil War killed about 620,000 people.

      To backtrack a bit to that distinction between totalitarian regimes and democracies, I find it odd that people in democracies seem to attribute those hundreds of millions of deaths overall to singular personalities. Well, Genghis Khan, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot could not have together killed all of those people had they slit throats every waking moment all their lives. In fact, they personally killed few, if any people their whole lives. I refer you to Milgram, above. Get it?

      ~~~

      “Just because the state is not working well in the US, you do not have to make a philosophy out of it.”

      Philosophy (humans thinking about what they _ought_ to do, and why) predates the state.

      “Why would good people join the government if they are seen as bad people?”

      Well, hell, you could write a whole book on that. In fact, by far most people in government are “good people,” i.e., pretty much the norm you’ll find about anywhere else (and if people weren’t as a general rule “good,” humanity would have died out long ago). I think the trend is changing, though, and certainly not because of any philosophy except bad philosophy like “we’re all in this together,” “everyone is entitled to X,” “everyone has a right to have X whether they can fade value for it or not,” etc. Work now at the fed, state and local level here in the US embodies this kind of entitlement mentality, with the highest average pay in the country, the highest job security and the most insanely fat pensions you’ve ever heard of (by about 30 years of service in many places, continuing to work is like working for 10 cents on the dollar, cause you can retire and get 90% of what your highest pay was). So, government work is attracting more and more people interested in a pretty easy job, bullet-proof security, and a golden parachute—not so much a desire to be a service to people in the purview and jurisdiction of their job.

      However, on a practical level, this is really the only way anything is every going to change…for government to become so corrupt that the whole thing collapses. If that’s ever going to happen, perhaps sooner is better than later.

    • People can only push fantasy so far before it blows up in their faces. When things are going well, we can pretend that good government is responsible (and waste resources decking it out with perks for the alpha people in charge and their lackeys). When times are lean, it becomes obvious that the perks are useless, and they go away (when the leaders opt for austerity or get kicked out by new blood).

    • I’ve never understood why people constantly formulate social ideas around ‘rights’. It feels to me like we’re looking for places to put rules to live by where none truly exist. I don’t believe I have a right to life. I have life. Do I have a right to keep it? I’m not sure what that even means… that I then expect others to respect that right and not kill me? What if I have something someone else, who is stronger than me (or possesses a weapon), wants? Does my right to life stop them from shooting me and taking my stuff? No, I have to stop them, compensate someone else to protect me (this could mean private police, or just having tough friends), or use the state to stop them (fat chance there, state just mops up post facto).

      I honestly don’t cling to a right to property or liberty or life. I get what I can keep and so do you. Anything above that implies a social construct, a contract where we all agree to believe that people have rights to X or Y… but at any time someone can break that contract and go on a killing spree. Society works when the costs (not just material, but also psychological) for breaking the social contracts are higher than than the benefits. If I’m just not making it doing odd jobs then I start thinking about stealing things to make ends meet… but if I can make it, I generally won’t. There are obvious exceptions to this as all people are not rational actors, but (in my experience) by and large if people have options to survive and/or thrive without hurting others, they’ll do so.

      That said, does this tendency to refrain from hurting others to get what we want imply that we all have a natural right to property and life? I don’t believe so. It’s all up for grabs, it’s all relative, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t up for discussion. I think there are conflicts between people who like rules and dislike discussion and those like myself. Rule makers would rather have something written down to refer to and then hold others too. I am the opposite. I’d rather have discussions with those around me and determine what they think and how they are and cater my social behavior to fit them, (or move if I find them abominable, but that’s last resort). I do this knowing that negotiated social contracts are inherently mutable with time. You have to keep engaged, not just write down your ‘laws’ or ‘rights’ and then go back to ignoring everyone.

      -Tim

    • Tim:

      There’s nothing mysterious or woo about rights. It’s an abstraction, a concept derived from our own sensory perceptions of our nature as human beings. I gave a brief description of how that works out, here:

      http://freetheanimal.com/2012/07/why-im-not-really-much-of-a-libertarian-the-definitive-guide.html#comment-163572

      It’s just simple logic. It’s a simple recognition that the notion of “right” and “wrong” or should or ought (teleology) is a non-contradictory chain or hierarchy deriving from how things really are in nature (ontology).

      There’s only one reason I use it at all, and it’s to draw a distinction. Most people believe rights are something granted them by some power (god or state, typically). The god one I have less trouble with, actually, because they are at least coming from some sense of nature and natural order. But the state cannot grant a “right” unless it contradictorily denies that same right for another individual or group. The state could conceivably protect natural rights, and it does so in many instances, sometimes even competently, but the whole deal has gone far beyond that.

      If you check out Man Alive! carefully, I’m not sure Greg even uses the conception of rights at all. Rather, it’s more a focus on your self respect, or “self adoration” in his parlance. In other words, you may not murder, rape and steal because it’s “wrong,” or a violation of another’s rights, but because it diminishes _you_. Of course, people largely already feel this way intrinsically and/or culturally. It’s often referred to as “conscience.”

      To state it another way, if all the laws against murder, rape and robbery went away tomorrow, are you going to go out and do these things? Is the law, or fear of punishment the only thing keeping you from doing them? I doubt it.

      There will always be murder, rape and robbery, because there will always be sociopaths, evil people, those who never had the benefit of being imbibed with a rational human culture—or they were the offspring of other sociopaths. The only thing to do here is protect ourselves from them.

      But there’s one more thing. The pernicious aspect of the state is that it dominates, coerces, steals and even murders, but there is a disconnect, somewhere. People jump and cheer for a government to do things and that does these things they would never imagine doing themselves.

      At its essence, the state is the means by which people get to commit atrocities without getting their own hands dirty and thus, fool themselves into escaping the life diminishing consequences of performing those acts directly.

    • Oh I absolutely agree that the state (or any collective enterprise) is most definitely about coercion and power. The power to protect, the power to attack, the power to deny power and coerce service.

      I also agree that we humans routinely do things that a mechanically mathematically minded person looking at humans as rational automatons cannot fathom. Because we have those inconvenient gushy feelings. We usually don’t want to hurt others and we usually understand that not hurting others is both an extension of not wanting to be hurt ourselves and more than that. I don’t believe that an absence of written laws and police would instantly make everyone turn to crime. Some would though. And by those doing so, it would necessitate others to defend themselves, likely by banding together into groups.

      Unfortunately power structures are highly efficient in their application of force. Though many people are happier in small scale egalitarian settings they have a hard time banding together enough into a coherent defense force when the army from the organized state next door comes a-knockin’. (e.g. Spanish Civil war, etc. There are many examples) So the small communities who have any useful land or resources are then mopped up by the big states. I’m not saying this is good or bad. It just is.

      I have a short story on deck about this topic actually. The title will be ‘the perfect government’ and the progression will be: 1) alien device arrives on earth and finds a human proxy to tell all the right things to. 2) that human, gifted with all this knowledge becomes increasingly popular 3) that person becomes a world leader 4) that person becomes THE world leader, the world disarms. Perfect peace ensues everyone is happy. 5) the slave ships arrive.

      -Tim

    • Tim:

      The Trojan Horse meme lives on. :)

      best wishes with it.

    • Thanks. I’ve always loved the Trojan horse story. I much prefer solutions that use subterfuge to those centered on attrition… which of course I would being that I’m small and cerebral.

    • JofJLTNCB6 says:

      They’re probably just interested in our water anyhow…

  8. You think that you would be freer when the government collapses? Say hello to the new local war lord that collects his tributes and rapes, maims and kills your dear ones.

    The differences between organised crime, kings, war lords and government are gradual. Do not expect that no one will feel the need to boss over you and “steal” your resources. There will always be someone. After struggling for many centuries we (in the West) finally have governments that are no longer too dangerous for ourselves and actually do some useful things.

    Your rants and calls not to vote will only make us go back in the wrong direction. The people liking the Patriot Act, grain subsidies :-), an excessively sized military and ignoring police violence are voting.

    Could you explain a bit more how large corporations would disappear without a government? Organised crime seems to be able to build quite large organisations. People have a drive to build large organisation, if only because being in the largest group protects you against the other groups.

    • I’m okay with the raping and maiming and killing

    • marie says:

      Victor, I used to think in a similar way, even thinking that peaceful anarchy is fine but it fails practically because of the protection issue.
      Also along the lines of “democracy is a terrible system, except for all the rest” and many, when you think about it, saber-rattling arguments that are in support of what we have in the west today – yup, much better than what we had, say, during the dark ages, much much less death and suffering today…in the West.. except, the whole system Here supported by how much death and suffering Elsewhere?
      Smaller governments in many places certainly do some useful things and with much less waste and corruption than the big and remote governments of the largest countries. So I’d exempt the Scandinavian countries and even to some degree Canada (though I’m biased, being originally Canadian) from the worst evils of statehood, since in the balance of things they seem very beneficial to a very many, and they don’t base a large part of their economy (and so their social safety net) on brisk Foreign arms, drugs, oil or more lately financing, ‘trades’ like the states and major European countries (enforced, coerced, with violence and misery ensuing…elsewhere).
      .
      So our better West already is a bit of an illusion, no?
      Then, as even the ‘best’ countries grow, won’t they approach the same situation as we have in the States or eventually as in kleptocratic Russia or totalitarian (if more prettily dressed lately) China ?
      .
      This is one problem with utilitarian arguments, if you take the utility considerations to their logical limits, the arguments fail.
      As for protection, yup, crime/war lords aren’t going away and the largest group protects you against other groups…but Richard above and several philosophers have addressed this : people can freely collaborate to create/hire a large protective force. I know, that’s how countries started, but it doesn’t mean that now, with the experience of history, we need to go down the same path again. Of course, you hit the ‘who protects us from the protectors’ argument, aka, that force can turn on it’s own people…but there are many ways to have checks and balances there, without government. Government is the deal breaker, once you have that, any checks and balances are controlled by a few and so corrupted.

    • JohnC says:

      Exactly right Victor. I think Somalia might offer a good example. I don’t see a lot of people clamoring to emigrate there.

    • marie says:

      correction :
      “like the States and major European countries” , that is, the United States.

    • It is not a utilitarian argument. You will have to build a community with real people. You do not have to option of building it with idealised people. That was the socialist experiment, which failed.

      I am pretty happy living in a European democracy and have more freedom that I would ever have had in the past.

    • marie says:

      The socialist experiment failed because of the people? Not because authoritarian regimes, aka government or steroids, controlled it? That’s an interesting take. So hunter-gatherer groups today and our 200,000-year history of communal living was an aberration.
      O.k., your opinion, you are entitled to it.
      You are not entitled to living comfortably on the corpses of Somalians, Ethiopians, etc. whose regimes were once set-up and continue to be supported by Europeans …and France’s arms deals and Germany’s financiers and….come on, what freedom?
      Not to mention, how long do you think this deck of cards will last? Been feeling the vibrations lately?

    • Robert Ve says:

      @ JohnC

      Always with the fucking Somalia, like that proves anything. I’m just going to say you don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to Somalia.

    • marie says:

      ha, government *on* steroids…I need a new keyboard.

    • “You think that you would be freer when the government collapses?”

      That’s a ridiculously silly question. Of course everyone would be freer. That’s unequivocally true, axiomatically self evident, so I won’t even put up an argument. (Incidentally, what you’re thinking? Read Marin’s quoted comment in the post again).

      “Do not expect that no one will feel the need to boss over you and “steal” your resources.”

      You mean, want to steal and kill? You mean, like governments do in massive systemic amounts and ways? Listen. Governments didn’t just magically appear. They filled a vacuum of the perceived need for them, or by conquest and brute force. Everybody’s been there, done that, so it’s hardly some OMG challenge you raise. What you are talking about is already here. But all but the most despotic, totalitarian, exist in some measure because people childishly believe they are necessary. That’s my focus. I think they’re not. To the extent people come to realize this, government as we know it will increasingly become irrelevant.

      What if the held and election and nobody showed up? Hell, what if only 10% of eligible voters showed up? Now that would be a huge laugh. Imagine the contortions politicians would go through, and the news media.

      “Could you explain a bit more how large corporations would disappear without a government?”

      Instantly. They are statutory. That doesn’t mean the business structure or assets disappear, but they are actually a bigger target for looting behavior than the general population.

      “Organised crime seems to be able to build quite large organisations. ”

      And ever noticed how they don’t like to make waves? Ever noticed how they tend to self police and deal with their own issues. I don’t give a hoot if mobsters take out hits on one another. It’s rather Samurai/Bushido, if you ask me, and I’m fine with it.

      Besides that, other than protection rackets (which have been taken over by government), the mainstay of organized “crime” is prostitution, gambling, loansharking. None of those are crimes in my book and in fact, the big problem the state has with it is they can’t steal from the mob as they can licensed casinos, cathouses (Nevada), and finance companies.

      You’re worried about the mafia? The Federal Mafia is the largest organized crime ring in the history of the world, and they don’t like competition. Thus, they are pretty much a monopoly.

    • “Exactly right Victor. I think Somalia might offer a good example. I don’t see a lot of people clamoring to emigrate there.”

      “Oh, Somalia, again. JohnC, you really need to get out more and do some of your own thinking and research. From the World Bank, 2006 (6 years ago):

      http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTCPR/Resources/WP38_web.pdf

      It’s not perfect, but:

      “This collection of papers examines the role and impact of Somalia’s remittance system. After an introduction, Chapter II examines how a dynamic private sector, powered by remittances from abroad, has managed to thrive in a country that is a failed state and among the poorest in the world. Adapting well and even flourishing in a stateless conflict ridden economy, private sector activities have emerged in trade, money transfer services, transport and telecommunications. [...]

      “Chapter IV distinguishes myth from reality regarding Somali Remittance Companies, such as: the remittance businesses are owned by Somalis in Somalia; only the Somalia diaspora transfers money through them; that remittance organizations are not legal or registered and do not pay taxes; and that client funds are not safe. These companies are not as informal as often assumed. Instead, they have the full trust and confidence of their customers, have an extensive network of agents that service all towns and villages in Somalia, as well as all major cities in countries populated by Somali diaspora; run operations that are more efficient than traditional financial services; and most importantly, are well placed to serve rural areas that would be little served by traditional banking institutions.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Somalia

      “According to the CIA and the Central Bank of Somalia, despite experiencing civil unrest, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, based mainly on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies and telecommunications.[1][2] Due to a dearth of formal government statistics and the recent civil war, it is difficult to gauge the size or growth of the economy. For 1994, the CIA estimated the GDP at $3.3 billion.[3] In 2001, it was estimated to be $4.1 billion.[4] By 2009, the CIA estimated that the GDP had grown to $5.731 billion, with a projected real growth rate of 2.6%.[1] According to a 2007 British Chambers of Commerce report, the private sector also grew, particularly in the service sector. Unlike the pre-civil war period when most services and the industrial sector were government-run, there has been substantial, albeit unmeasured, private investment in commercial activities; this has been largely financed by the Somali diaspora, and includes trade and marketing, money transfer services, transportation, communications, fishery equipment, airlines, telecommunications, education, health, construction and hotels.[5] Libertarian economist Peter T. Leeson attributes this increased economic activity to the Somali customary law (referred to as Xeer), which he suggests provides a stable environment to conduct business in.[6]“

    • “But all but the most despotic, totalitarian, exist in some measure because people childishly believe they are necessary.”

      My take it that at least you will get a despotic, totalitarian regime. People can work hard for centuries and try to build a democracy out of it. How will your ideal libertarian state of the world appear? Just by not voting. To get back to the paleolithic you will have to kill 99% of the population, destroy all technology, all over the world. And even then I am still curious how you would like to prevent the same course of history starting again.

      Organised crime is not always as nice as your neighbour. Prostitution is no always voluntary, the collection of protection rackets is typically violent. Think of Mexico where the last years 50 Thousand people were killed and young women are tortured to death for the kick of it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_homicides_in_Ciudad_Ju%C3%A1rez

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/20/war-capitalism-mexico-drug-cartels

    • The idea of socialism was that even if you pay people equally, they would still work hard for the common good. Seems that people are not that way. The dictatorship of the proletariat was supposed to rule for a limited time until the people had “forgotten” capitalism and would joyously work for the common good.

      In the same way, your libertarian society would need to contain people who are not interested in bossing over others and have lost their natural urge to build organization, to defend and conspire against other groups.

      To ask directly, how will the transformation from the current system to a libertarian happen? How would it look like and how do you want to prevent people from building organizations and ultimately governments?

      I do not see any information on these crucial points. Thus I can only presume that all that libertarian talk is just a fad way of saying I do not want to pay any taxes, I do not care how much society has given me, I do not want to give anything back. Why not just become a classical liberal? That is not my position, but at least a defensible one.

      It is a bit surreal to have to defend democracy with people living in one. If the poor countries would complain about democracies, I would understand it. They have less strong organizations and suffer from our strength. That is exactly the dynamics that forces societies in the direction of larger structures and government. How do you want to stop this natural tendency?

    • I completely agree with you about the smaller governments. I’ve learned in my experience that size does matter when it comes to social constructs, a lot. I worked in a few very small corporations, a family owned enterprise and even as the only employee of a sole proprietor before later joining several mega global corporations. The greater the size the greater the necessary complexity and the greater the bureaucracy and the waste. All those stereotypes about government workers who surf the internet for hours and hours and waste money on strippers and booze happens in big corporations too, sometimes more so (especially in corporations where the revenue stream is virtually guaranteed and competition consists of a few other big players like a telecom, energy or cable company). Smaller marginal countries with high freedom and social justice, just like smaller more efficient corporations, are allowed to exist for two reasons: They don’t have anything worth taking and they aren’t threatening the big boys.

      For a while I imagined that the perfect government was one where the size of the government and the corporations allowed to operate in the society were hard limited in some way, by law or constitution. That was until I realized that over time those with the most to lose would forget why such things were important while those with the most to gain would eventually push through new laws or a constitutional amendment (or a new constitution if amendment wasn’t available, by hook or by crook). This is why I tend to think of history as more cyclical now. Big civilizations grow, increase in complexity until they can no longer sustain themselves and then they go bust, usually with a bang (or many). Then the survivors pick up the pieces and carry on until the next empire comes along.

    • Tim, keeping a democracy functional takes continuous work. The people interested in abusing the system also work continuously. Thus the population should also always be on its guard.

      If people start taking their wealth and freedom for granted and no longer work on keeping and improving their society, you will get such a boom and bust cycle. Where I am less sure about the boom. Progress is not guaranteed, many poor countries are stuck with a dysfunctional government.

      Keeping the (federal) government small is a totally different position as the libertarian dreams of no government. That may well be a good idea.

    • Victor,

      Oh I agree with you that functional democracy takes work and can work well. However, democracy works well with an informed populace who know the value of liberty and work hard to keep things free. Unfortunately those whose sweat and blood were shed creating the democracy only live for so long. Their children naturally grow up less attached to the fundamentals. Only so much cultural data can be transmitted. Some is lost, naturally. People lose connection, forget why keeping things small keeping money out (etc.) was so important, power starts to concentrate and corrupt, people lose faith in democracy to fix the issue, and lose the democracy.

      I think it’s important too to understand that there are people who like an authoritarian situation. They feel safe having a tough father figure in charge. They want to go to war to show everyone else how tough they are. They aren’t a majority (I don’t believe so anyway) but they do most definitely exist. These people chafe under a dithering democratic process because they have to deal with ‘compromises’ and ‘discussions’ about things. They’d rather see a decision made, regardless of whether it’s right than have to spend time and be part of a group trying to figure out the best decision. These people often find their zenith of happiness under a dictatorship. I am not one of these people, but I have met many of them.

    • “My take it that at least you will get a despotic, totalitarian regime.”

      Really. Humans are just helpless. What’s the difference, say, between the murderous regimes that pepper Africa, for example, and America as originally conceived?

      I’ll tell you: culture.

      Culture is by far the most powerful social force ever devised. The American culture is what created what was supposed to be a very limited state. Didn’t work out that way and now we have a situation where the state is corrupting and destroying the culture from the top down. This is really the most worrisome aspect.

      Victor, you only have human beings to consider here, and their cultures. If a culture it not up to the task of preventing the imposition of a despotic totalitarian regime, then it’s not my concern. Go find a new culture, a healthy one. And incidentally, the commies found out what happens when you attempt to use a totalitarian, egalitarian, collectivist state to devolve people into being more like ant hills and bee hives than humans. What you get instead, is a destruction of the culture and collapse of the entire civilization.

      “How will your ideal libertarian state of the world appear?”

      Forst of all, I have no visions of any state, any system, any ideal. I have my own ideal of myself. I wrote this in the post:

      “That’s basically what it boils down to. You see, when everyone who exists is basically a thief—one way or another—including myself (I didn’t want to be, back in that idyllic childhood fantasy of mine)—that’s what you get when you admonish people to stop their thieving ways: well, what are we going to do then?

      “And I delight in being a huge disappointment, because unlike all the Libertarian “think tanks,” I have zero prescriptions for you. I’m sincerely sorry. I simply cannot show you how your life will be better if nobody is stealing for you institutionally, with corporations and government in bed with one-another—each pining for the other to to be a bit bigger and better in bed next time. …I just don’t know. How can I top that you get to go to a voting booth and a whole multi trillion dollar-corp-state-enterprise steals on your behalf? See, I can’t, nor can anybody compete with your perception of the wonderful bounty it represents for you, and you’ll never believe it’s bullshit until your face is in the dirt, where perhaps we all rightly belong.”

      I’m against domination and imposition through coercion and theft. I don’t contradict myself by saying I’m against these things, so let me dominate and impose upon you, only it’ll be less, my “ideal.”

      Sorry to disappoint. I have no utopian designs, no ideals…and I understand freedom can be very messy.

    • “To ask directly, how will the transformation from the current system to a libertarian happen? How would it look like and how do you want to prevent people from building organizations and ultimately governments?”

      See the comment I just posted:

      http://freetheanimal.com/2012/07/why-im-not-really-much-of-a-libertarian-the-definitive-guide.html#comment-164044

      My aim is simple:

      1. I advocate that people not steal, not be thieves. To not dominate and coerce others.

      2. I advocate that people stove to righteously feel as good about themselves as they can.

      3. I advocate that they understand that having a state do the dominating and stealing is just passing the buck and to the extent they support that state, they are diminishing their own lives. In other words, I’m making an identification: you are a thief, living in part by means of domination, coercion, theft. You’re just not doing it directly.

      So, I’m not advocating or aiming for any sort of revolution, certainly not some restructuring of government. I’m aiming to revive and even surpass the quintessential American culture that came impressively close to getting self-governance right in the first place (until that stupid Constitution thingy that ruined it all). The DoI was pretty brilliant. They should have left it at that, called it the Founding Document of America.

      There is absolutely no way of getting around the necessity of culture, so this is all merely education and awareness. Ultimately, human nature will take its course one way or the other.

    • Culture? North and South Korea have the same culture. Taiwan and mainland China have the same culture. Europe before and after the WWII has the same culture. Also the people will be just as bad or good. The difference are the institutions. I prefer the cultures with the democratic institutions, because the offer much more Freedom. Institutions that make it more profitable to collaborate and exchange that to steal and cheat.

      I hate to say the S-word. But if you have no idea how to transition to a libertarian society, have no idea how to keep it at least somewhat peaceful and how to prevent groups from building into states again, it sounds to me you will end up in Somalian conditions. Before you destroy something, it is worth to think about what should happen afterwards. Otherwise your Freedom may turn out not to be that free.

      If you do not want to pay taxes, you are free to leave your society. Just go live in the Amazon as a real hunter gatherer. The money you make there in a year is what you really earn by working hard. The rest of what you made last year is because you live in a nice society. To contribute a little to society to keep it nice seems a small thing to me.

      Libertarians will claim that this contribution has to be voluntary, but in that case much less would be contributed to society. I am willing to give a higher fraction of my income to the community if everyone does so. This seems to be a general human trait. There is an economic game, the common good game, in which people can put money in a pot in the middle, the economists double this amount and spread it over all people playing. If someone does not contribute also the others stop collaborating. If it is possible to punish this cheating “libertarian”, people will do so, even if it costs them a lot and in this way the collaboration can be maintained.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_goods_game

      Thus also without a government people will “steal” from you and punish you if you behave like a selfish bastard. Which makes sense as humans thrive by collaboration. The ones who found the trick of collaboration reproduced.

      Why complain so much about taxes? In 20 to 30 years you will earn as much with taxes as you do now without taxes as long as the institutions for growth are there. Why don’t you libertarians complain more about civil liberties, about the Patriot Act, about the right to see a judge and a stop of arbitrary killings and torture by your state. Those things are much more harmful to freedom than a little money you do not need to survive.

    • Richard: “In other words, I’m making an identification: you are a thief, living in part by means of domination, coercion, theft. You’re just not doing it directly.”

      Have you ever heard the Japanese saying: “Only a warrior chooses pacifism; others are condemned to it.” ? My thrust being that one would expect the weak, i.e. those who can’t or won’t do their own killing to favor being part of a collective structure that will do it for them. Likewise I can call the thief holding a gun a coward for not facing me hand to hand… but he would be foolish to relinquish his gun. The same can be said for all those who benefit from the state. It’s easy for the intelligent and able bodied to say we should all take more responsibility for our own lives… because they can do so. Others cannot and will not.

      Take me. I’d love to live off some land and survive as an artist and a writer but I can’t because I have a Type 1 diabetic son who needs insurance. I can’t make insulin myself. I am tied to the state and the corporation that makes this (patented, highly expensive) elixir that keeps my son alive. I have no choice but to conform. I feel the coercion, I chafe at the yoke, but when they whip I pull… boy do I.

      -Tim

    • “North and South Korea have the same culture.”

      Nonsense. One need not even get up off the couch to know that’s BS. They _used_ to have the same culture. This was before the commies invaded, the US and allies decided to put up a fight, and everyone eventually set around the negotiating table and our side was seemingly happy to concede half the country and half the lives to the commies, like so much pawn-chattel. Hundreds of millions of lives and future lives utterly destroyed. That place is a fucking disaster, and it’s not the fault of the Korean culture, which is doing just fine.

      And by the way, I’m quite familiar with it, having lived and worked in Japan for 5 years and did 15 or so trips to S Korea in that time.

      “Taiwan and mainland China have the same culture.”

      Used to, not anymore. Taiwanese have a very capitalist, entrepreneurial culture (as does the Hong Kong Chinese…places I’ve also visited many times, and dog shit communist China once, in 1986, with everyone in their Mao uniforms), that mainland Chinese quite mixed in cultural terms, but getting better, from what I see. With any luck, the commies didn’t do permanent damage but it may take decades to know that for sure.

      “Europe before and after the WWII has the same culture. ”

      Oh, STOP already! Do you mean to tell me that the Germans, French, Spanish, Italians and English all have the same culture?

      Do you even know what culture IS, already?

      ….Fucking Somalia, again. I guess you din’t get the memo.

      http://freetheanimal.com/2012/07/why-im-not-really-much-of-a-libertarian-the-definitive-guide.html#comment-163795

      “Just go live in the Amazon”

      Spiro Agnew always shows up, just like he owns the place and always has.

      “Libertarians will claim that this contribution has to be voluntary, but in that case much less would be contributed to society.”

      Wonderful admission. Let’s cut through the euphemistic bullshit “contribution” because you can’t bare to admit that you’re a common thief who loves thievery:

      ‘If all contributions are voluntary, we won’t get as many as we would like; therefore, we have to steal involuntarily. (we’ll still wink & nod, and call them ‘contributions,’ just the same)’

      There, I fixed it.

      The public good game and other games like it all do the same thing: illustrate easily predictable human behavior in a collectivist social context. This behavior is a result of their natures, and of course, since all you thieves just want what you want, these illustrations serve not to tell you what fucking despicable despotic thieves you are, BUT HOW DEPRAVED HUMAN NATURAL BEHAVIOR IS, and of course it must be engineered by elites and their brown nosing sycophants like you.

      Other than that, they’re just games for wankers and government, the state is the largest tragedy of the commons ever.

    • “I can’t because I have a Type 1 diabetic son who needs insurance. I can’t make insulin myself. I am tied to the state and the corporation that makes this (patented, highly expensive) elixir that keeps my son alive. I have no choice but to conform. I feel the coercion, I chafe at the yoke, but when they whip I pull… boy do I.”

      They use the things we love against us.

      That’s the very essence of coercion.

    • Richard, you originally wrote: “What’s the difference, say, between the murderous regimes that pepper Africa, for example, and America as originally conceived? I’ll tell you: culture. Culture is by far the most powerful social force ever devised.”

      Now you write: “They [North and South Korea, red]_used_ to have the same culture. … Hundreds of millions of lives and future lives utterly destroyed. That place is a fucking disaster, and it’s not the fault of the Korean culture, which is doing just fine.”

      Which is exactly what I wanted to state. Culture does not help you, for North and South Korea the culture used to be the same, but the institutions now make it into very different countries. Institutions you want to abolish in America, well count on it that the culture will change.

      Which is also a good example for gharkness, who asked below: “Do you really give other people **that** much power?” The Koreans in the North and the South behave differently, they seem to give others that much power. Being ignorant of the influence of your fellows and community on your behaviour is not a good thing, it makes easier to manipulate you, better wake up.

      Thus America will not automatically stay a nice place after the destruction of all institutions due to its culture nor due to its wonderful innate ethically people. I expect that criminals and war lords would take over power, giving you less freedom and higher taxes.

      And because you just admitted that the public goods game shows HUMAN NATURAL BEHAVIOR, after this state of anarchy government would slowly develop again. Probably not in time for complex organisation to build again which are able to, for example, produce insulin. Maybe you could import the insulin from Europe if you are rich enough. Otherwise, Tim, your son will die because of Richard. Who is not only a thief, because the tributes will be higher than the current taxes, but then also a murderer because of your son and all the other people killed by the war lords. (We could also stop cursing and have a polite discussion on the advantages of democracies and anarchies.)

      I must say, I am not that impressed by some Somalis who are able to import all the technology needed for a mobile network. All they have to do is build up a few antennas and pay sufficient tribute to the local war lord so that he does not destroy the antenna and pay sufficient tribute for importing the mobile phones at the harbour and every internal boundary. Also if America descents into anarchy, you will be able to make a call and Rich will be able to keep blogging. Looking forward to reading posts from this beautiful new heavenly world. I truly hope you will survive some time and keep on blogging, Richard. War lords typically do not like people with a strong opinion that much.

      • “Culture does not help you, for North and South Korea the culture used to be the same, but the institutions now make it into very different countries.”

        The institutions in the North are the result of an invasion of the Chinese. American and allied institutions were unable or unwilling to prevent it. Korea was merely caught in the middle of geopolitical conflict that’s a direct result of the massive state.

    • Victor, you are obviously an intelligent, thoughtful, well-meaning man and your arguments make sense (and yes, emotions sometimes run high in these kind of discussions, so I wanted to make sure to say that).
      They just do not continue to their logical conclusions and you’re missing, I think, one Critical part, which I’m deducing from the ‘danger’ talk, like :
      “Thus America will not automatically stay a nice place after the destruction of all institutions due to its culture nor due to its wonderful innate ethically people. I expect that criminals and war lords would take over power, giving you less freedom and higher taxes.”
      Yes, classically some anarchists have actually advocated the active destruction of institutions and the danger you highlight is then very very real, so too if the system decays due to apathy, aka “no one watching’ –
      -but that’s not what’s being discussed here.
      Instead :
      *It takes the growth of a whole culture, education, in order for real freedom to work.*
      It’s not happening tomorrow, exactly because the culture for it isn’t there (or anywhere near there) and if some minority came along and tried to Impose it (violating, btw, every principle in that one act) then the system would of course react, violently, with the worst that it was keeping under wraps up to then, the war-lords and the kleptocrats.
      So it takes education, mind to mind, a slow process, until the concept expands to a majority of people such that it becomes sustainable – and it would be then, in that situation, because during that expansion, people living by these ethics naturally reach a critical mass where they find each other and form their own protective forces as needed.
      This is one ‘mechanism’ that can work. there are other mechanisms too, getting caught-up in the mechanics doesn’t help actually because whichever we look at, it is something that will occur naturally and the guiding principle remains the same :
      The culture evolves and in so doing it creates the political/social change.
      Not the other way around, not some ‘system’ imposed by a few (which has been most of our history…except around the revolution where we did come ‘close’ to freedom and natural human rights, influenced by the enlightenment in Europe).
      And if the culture doesn’t change in that direction, it doesn’t. Evolution will work, either way.

      This is the first time in history where we can even consider these concepts on a large scale and we have the bloody sacrifices of democracy’s defenders and the pervasiveness of information systems to thank for it.
      Of course democracy is the best of all systems humanity ever devised on a large scale, I don’t think anyone can argue that point! Now we can consider going beyond ‘systems’.
      I thank my parents weekly (two of those bloodied democratic defenders, btw) and my culture, but developing ethical ideas even further honors such traditions, it’s not destructive, it’s…well, evolution :)

    • Hmmm, so maybe that was a wee bit lengthy – I can only hope you’re a speed reader!

    • Marie wrote: “Yes, classically some anarchists have actually advocated the active destruction of institutions and the danger you highlight is then very very real, so too if the system decays due to apathy, aka “no one watching’ –”

      Good then we agree on the basics. That is why the calls of Richard to 100 thousand readers every month not to vote and to see politicians and civil servants are criminals and defenders of democracy as thieves is so dangerous.

      Improving our society is a good thing. Libertarians could start with reducing the rights of the police forces and secret services to spy on and harass citizens without initial suspicion and to incarnate people without the right to see a judge and to fly the abroad to be tortured in a “moderate” Arab Republic. That would be more freedom. Then you could reduce the excessive US army and their harassment of the rest of the world, which could save a lot of taxes given how large this part of the federal budget is. As we get richer, the internet makes communication easier and the economy gets more specialized and diversified, some of the protection of the population can probably be transferred from the government to private parties. Thus it should be possible to repeal some laws.

      Then you pay less taxes, but will have to pay these private parties. There is no free lunch. In Europe I would expect that in many cases the government can provide such services much more efficiently. Given the lack of trust in government in the US, less efficient, more bureaucratic private solutions may be preferred.
      For example, one health-care insurance or unemployment policy for all is much more efficient than having to write thousands of policies and then clearing the meaning of all these different formulations in court. If I were a lawyer, I would support libertarianism. But if you guys think it is worth it… Be my guest! And if you find the trick of cooperation, maybe you manage to boil things down to a small number standard policies.

    • Typo: Good then we agree on the basics. That is why the calls of Richard to 100 thousand readers every month not to vote and to see politicians and civil servants _as_ criminals and defenders of democracy as thieves is so dangerous.

      Marie: “I thank my parents weekly (two of those bloodied democratic defenders, btw) and my culture, but developing ethical ideas even further honors such traditions, it’s not destructive, it’s…well, evolution :)”

      You could also compare your parents with ancestral health and libertarians with processed food eaters or vegans. Sounds, tastes nice, but has not been tested and is probably deadly. ;-)

      Sorry, I will try to be reasonable again in my next comment and not block every new idea.

    • No Victor, quoting one part without it’s defining ending is plain wrong.
      I worry about the no voting too and for the same reasons, but I wouldn’t try to define what Richard promotes just by that – or reduce anyone’s arguments to sound bites for that matter.
      You can’t conceive of the political situation here, you are in a still Somewhat functioning Small democracy. Americans aren’t. They haven’t been for generations, but the gloves came off in the last couple of decades and it’s rather obvious.
      It’s so so easy to say “Americans got fat and happy and are losing their democracy to negligence and apathy” – that’s the accepted interpretation in Europe (and even Canada). But it’s not true – all those elements certainly exist, but they are not the reason for the loss – kinda like “correlation isn’t causation”, something paleo folks are all too familiar with :)
      Government on a large scale is the reason. It doesn’t work at all.
      Even on smaller scales it only works partly and sometimes – we can do better but it’ll take a lot of education to get there, if at all.
      The biggest countries in the world, the old USSR, China, India, the US are all dysfunctional in their own ways (like for families, misery finds many unique expressions).
      Size matters because even in a democracy, as government gets bigger and bigger for larger and larger population/economy, it gets further and further distant from the people, so institutionalized corruption overwhelms anything else.
      .
      Since size matters, we see the disfunction vividly in the big countries but can gloss it over in smaller countries -at least in the short term. Even in the smaller countries though, it is an illusion and pyramid scheme simultaneously : tell France to stop selling arms to every tin-pot dictator, see what happens. Get Egypt to give-up controlling the Nile so countries downstream don’t gets draughts, oh, wait, the Europeans have to use the Suez, scratch that thought. Let’s discuss Duetsche bank, international finance, tee-tottering European economies of Greece, Spain, Ireland….or maybe not. It’s painful and ugly after all. We can hide our heads in the sand and celebrate the achievements instead, for however long they last.
      Then when the ‘system’ implodes, we can pick up and start over, and over, and over…

    • Very, very good Marie. One mind at a time.

    • This was in answer to your 6:45 comment. Hadn’t seen the next one yet – but glad to hear of impending reasonableness! :-)

    • Richard,
      thanks, learning… :)

    • Marie, most of your examples show that democracies are not nice to other countries. They are not supposed to, they are designed to be nice to their own population, those are the people voting, people who do not vote are irrelevant, or at least nicer than a dictatorship. In praxis democracies tend to be nicer to other countries than similarly powerful dictatorships. Normal people seem to like violence less than elites.

      Anyway, I never claimed that democracies are ideal, just that they are better than anarchy. And if you complain about scaling a democracy to the size of continent, that would be my main concern for anarchy. Anarchy works nice for a group of up to 30 people, who know and care about each other. (And if the surrounding is peaceful because it is a democracy.) Maybe Richard can organise a militia to protect his village, but I do not see how you can get something like that working for a city. And if Monsanto sends out air planes with fuel bombs to destroy the harvest of Richards village (like Sudan in the Nuba Mountains), he will have to collaborate with surrounding villages to get some air defence. Before you know it, there is a government.

      And the American democracy is about as dysfunctional as you can get. This is not only due to the size, but also due to the two-party system (district voting system). This prevents competition by more competent new parties. Special interests only have to bribe both parties and the parties can be sure that it will have no consequences. I do not want to get too rude and the people here are an exception, but another main problem is that Americans are disinterested in what happens outside their street and badly educated. A friendly man in Richards home state asked me whether people in The Netherlands speak English. Then you can forget about checks and balances for foreign politics. Democracy does take effort. Filibusters and thus needing 60% of the votes to get a law passed also does not help. I guess you guys have more ideas for improvements.

    • Ah well Victor, at least we can agree on the importance of education :)
      Now, whether it will lead to somewhat better government systems in some places or to no system, that will be interesting to see.

  9. Im far from an expert when it comes to this stuff, or not sure if I’m going off on a tangent here, but if we were discussing say….. whats the best type of economy or society to live in ,would be interested to know if you ever heard of a resource based economy? If so, what you think of it?Would be interested to know from people that are more educated in this subject than me.This is the site http://thevenusproject.com/

  10. Victor Venema said: “And it everyone expects you to do the worst, why would you act good?”

    Are you serious? Is the only reason you behave yourself (if you do) is because someone expects it? What if that person dies, or goes away, or decides they want you to be bad? So all of a sudden you become a homicidal maniac, or thief, or rapist?

    Do you really give other people **that** much power?

    • “Are you serious? Is the only reason you behave yourself (if you do) is because someone expects it? What if that person dies, or goes away, or decides they want you to be bad? So all of a sudden you become a homicidal maniac, or thief, or rapist?”

      It’s a question I ask people when I get into these discussions, sometimes. “Is the only reason you don’t steal, rape, murder because there are laws against it? Or, suppose their wasn’t. Who’ya gonna rape first?”

    • marie says:

      Lord of the Flies redux.
      Amazingly persistent meme, despite the evidence of our own eyes, or even of science in the last decades.
      .
      But then, is some places it has been taught intently, it’s part of, or was until about 20 years ago that I know for sure, the British GCE curriculum (New Yorkers, think ‘Regents exams’ nationally).
      .
      And the evil nature propaganda I guess goes back much further in the west, to Hobbes Leviathan at least….and oh yeah, the Bible ?:)

    • No need to get personal, but yes, also I am human.

      The bureaucrats that organised the holocaust were normal people, most of them were not especially evil. The society and organisation they were in made them do bad things. I would love to think that if I lived in that time, I would have been in the resistance, but given how little people were, I doubt it.

      The last 60 years in Europe were peaceful and not because our suddenly genes changed. The system has changed and rewards good behaviour better than it used to do. Checks and balances. That is more than just laws, but also its enforcement, what your family, friends and neighbours would think, etc.

      On Econtalk, there is an interesting podcast about the King Belgium, who also personally owned Congo. In Belgium he worked on improving the democracy, in Congo he has killed 5 to 15 million Congolese. The situation influences how people behave.

      http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2006/08/the_political_e.html

    • marie says:

      I’m not sure I understand, do you mean by “and not because our suddenly genes changed” that you actually think that it is in our genes (our ‘nature’) to behave badly? Who exactly built this system that changed and rewards good behavior, just one question there.
      But mostly, have you missed the evidence of hunter-gatherer groups or of evolution itself? If anything, the only actual evidence on our natures is that, in the majority, we largely cooperative natures (of course assign all traits, there’s a distribution). Why is that so? Well, you wouldn’t be standing there if it weren’t because man is the weakest of all mammals, so if the ‘instinct’ (genes) for association and collaboration weren’t preferentially selected-for, our existence as a species would have been brief.
      Of course the situation influences how people behave, you contradicted yourself – it’s government/authoritarian coercion that causes atrocities, always has. If anything, government perverts human nature.

    • “In Belgium he worked on improving the democracy, in Congo he has killed 5 to 15 million Congolese.”

      See how amoral and practical government is?

    • I fully agree, but you missed the other, Belgium part.

    • “The last 60 years in Europe were peaceful and not because our suddenly genes changed. The system has changed and rewards good behaviour better than it used to do. ”

      Or that we have had nuclear weapons and that two world wars (the same war really) left Europeans with absolutely no taste for uncertain and highly destructive conflicts between like states.

    • Neal, well said.

    • I was thinking of no more wars between Germany, France and England. Irrespective of the nuclear weapons there were many wars between allies of the US and Russia.

      Also after the first world war there was not much appetite for a new war any more. Remember appeasement?

    • “but you missed the other, Belgium part.”

      Not at all. Amoral and practical applies to both his actions in the one, and in the other. In other words, his actions weren’t principled and moral.

    • Hi Victor
      Yes there were many wars between allies of the US and the Soviets and Britain, France Portugal etc carried on brushfire wars in their ex-colonies. I would however contend that the lack of major conflicts between large states in the post war period was due to the devestating consequences of any war rather than a general raised standard of living or political “enlightenment”. Do you think that if nuclear weapons hadn’t been invented there wouldn’t have been a third world war?

      Yes there was no appetite for war after the first world war but given the disastrous terms of Versailles there was unfortunatley an environment in which war became possible, then inevitable.

    • The nuclear weapons did not stop the wars outside of Europe, why would they have prevented the wars in Europe. I feel that the creation of the European Union and consequent increased collaboration between people in all nations is a more obvious answer. There were regular wars before Versailles.

    • The European Union with all its nasty institutions (Euro) have created the most hostile environment in Europe since i was born.

    • Paul, then you are probable younger than 50. My father tried to cross the French German border some years after WWII and the French refused to speak German until they saw that he was Dutch. They spoke German fluently.

      The Euro with so many participants was and is a bad idea. But let’s keep the EU and try to further improve it. Free trade, free travel, common environmental standards are good things. What is missing in my view are a joint fight against tax fraud and common standards for taxes on assets and corporations so that the peoples are not blackmailed by the rich and corporations, which will lower tax rates for most and which in the end also benefits the rich by better common goods.

    • Hi again Victor,
      There were plenty of wars outside of Europe betwwen nations that were not nuclear armed or indeed where only one side was but felt itself not to be threatened. There were seemingly perpetual wars through European history and the overall trend was for bigger and more costly conflicts, until a weapon was invented that meant that countries could totally annihilate each other.
      I would think that this “peace” has been made semi-permanent by the networks of trade and culture (EU) that have grown up since then.

    • Joao Eira says:

      Penn Jillete had a rant recently, about this issue precisely, on his Penn Sunday School podcast, related to people who ask atheists what’s from stopping them from murdering and/or raping other people if god doesn’t exist.

    • “The nuclear weapons did not stop the wars outside of Europe, why would they have prevented the wars in Europe. I feel that the creation of the European Union and consequent increased collaboration between people in all nations is a more obvious answer.”

      So much fucking nonsense. What prevented war in Europe post WWII is an American presence in bases, troops, material and weapons that dwarfed the total expenditures of all Euro nations put together. This, combined with our massive expenditures elsewhere in the world eventually BKd the USSR, it collapsed, became far less of a threat in terms of another march across Europe, and finally we were able to downsize (and let the Euro leeches pat themselves on the back)

      When I was an exchange officer to the French Navy, I used to laugh in their faces when they bragged about their massive social systems. Yea, who the fuck you think paid for them, without you having to defend your sorry asses?

      Always shut them up, actually made them nod knowingly. Of course, we were a lot closer to the prescient facts in 1991/2, with the USSR just beginning to collapse fully. And the Euro was still years from being put into place.

    • When someone keeps on diverting the topic of the discussion, you know he is loosing. I was not talking about the East-West conflict, but the traditional wars between the European super powers.

      At least now such wars could theoretically start again. Russia is no longer powerful (which many Americans do not seem to have noticed yet) and the American troops stationed in Europe are quite small be now and are mainly there for logistical reasons, to be able to make war with the rest of the world. That the traditional European wars do not start again is due to the European institutions around the EU, which make collaboration more attractive than conflict. Institutions are very important, destroying them is vandalism and destroys the freedom you claim to defend.

      It is funny that the libertarians have less problem with spending taxes on a huge standing army than on the fellow citizens. Makes me wonder whether libertarians simply do not understand evolution. Survival of the fittest is not survival of the most aggressive. Aggressive people tend to die before they reproduce.

      There is no need for America to spend just as much on the military as all the rest of the world combined. That is no longer defense. Europe is defended sufficiently. As a libertarian it would be logical if you would be against bullying the rest of the world and hypocritically call it policing. In your comment above you sound to be pretty proud of forcing your will on others, not very libertarian in my view.

    • The EU has done shit to prevent wars and won’t be able to defend itself in the future.
      What about the Kosovo conflict? The US Army helped us out. Europe was completely paralyzed.
      Yeah, those countries were not in the EU at that time (13 years ago) but do you really think the EU right now could prevent such a conflict?

    • Yes, the EU prevents armed conflicts between EU members. Do you see any danger of armed conflicts between EU members? As you already said yourself, nor Serbia, nor Kosovo are EU members

      The EU member states are perfectly capable of defending themselves (the EU does not have an army). The only army that would be a problem is the US army. (This is unfortunately not a hypothetical case, the US has a law that my home country, The Netherlands, will be invaded in case an American is trailed for human rights abuses at the international court in The Hague.) Even for the US invading Europe is difficult enough that it does not pay and it would hurt trade. Thus the elites would not support it. Kosovo was an offensive action, Serbia did not attack an EU member.

      At the time I was happy with the US helping in Kosovo. In retrospect we were badly informed by the media and it would have been better not to bomb Serbia into submission. The problems in Kosovo were much smaller as suggested at the time and the consequences of starting a war without a security council resolution for international cooperation were severe.

    • Your Country hosts US Nuclear Bombs and is a member of the NATO. How does Holland defend itself exactly? The US does. I’m not talking about 2nd Kosovo only but countries like Iran.
      How does the EU prevent wars between its members? Because there is a law against wars? Like a law against poverty or a law for Economic growth? As if that means anything.

    • Do you really expect an attack from Iran on an EU member state? I don’t think they have the logistics for that, only the US is able to fight wars over such large distances. They will not throw an atomic bomb on us because they have no reason to and because France and England would throw one the other way. If they are developing a bomb, the main reason will be as protection against American aggression. I am sure North Korea and Pakistan feel saver this way.

      The EU prevent wars by resolving conflicts in the initial stages. By encouraging collaboration over borders, making conflict too expensive for all parties and by cultural exchange which makes it more difficult to agitate peoples against each other. In other words, the same way that America prevents an attack on Reno by Richards libertarian militia, by providing much more productive ways to resolve conflicts of interest.

      • “…much more productive ways to resolve conflicts of interest.”

        There’s no such thing as a “conflict of interest” between honest players (that’s a reconstruction of a famous Rand quote). Basically, honest players want nothing unearned, don’t seek to dominate, accept the hand they’re dealt, etc.

        The first task in any “conflict of interest” is determining who’s being dishonest (could be both, and if you’re dealing with states, not individuals, it’s a sure bet).

      • Libertarianism may work with honest people, having a range of other beautiful character traits and no drive to build organizations. Almost any ideology will work if you work with ideal people. However, you will have to build a society with real people.

      • Galina L. says:

        The nature of people stays the same, except they may get much worse when they are squished in a tight corner(I remember how ruthless I became when it was a crisis in my country , survival became difficult and the survival of my family depended on my actions. I became quite different animal back then and survived) and better in a relaxing soft environment.
        It is a mythology there are some ideal people of nature somewhere, it is the same as to expect angels to protect drivers in a traffic and say – if there were more angels, we would not have a need for road signs.

  11. Bravo. That was a treat!

    • Greg:

      “Bravo. That was a treat!”

      Thank you, sir. Told you I needed to get that off my chest. Man Alive! resumes next Sunday on schedule. Six chapters down, six to go.

  12. Joe Bloom says:

    I’m in the same boat: don’t consider myself a Libertarian, but get labeled as one all the time.

    But, in the sense of acting in line with the tenets of an ideology, I guess I am more Libertarian than any of the self-proclaimed Christians I know.

  13. marie says:

    Richard,
    I’ll reiterate my admiration for your reasoning and this whole post.

    “I’m not interested in stealing less, regulating less, or any of the other unprincipled libertarian gibberish.” Word.
    And there’s another consideration : libertarianism has the Potential to be a prescription for the worst of all worlds, because by reducing government, a central tenet, they are actually reducing the number of people with power, so now power would be concentrated in fewer hands. Shudder.
    Yes, reducing government is supposed to be the path for reducing government power itself, but really, what’s to say that will happen? As long as there is any government, there has always been increasing power, that really is in the nature of the beast, the government beast that is.

    • Hey Marie.

      There is actually a common thread here with what Greg Swann is up to that I might oughtta shoulda put in the post (along with 100 other things I thought of over the 2-3 days thinking of it and the roughly 12 hours it took to draft, edit and finish it).

      There is really no solution to this, other than a recognition and sacred embrace of the essential human culture that sparked off an enlightenment.

      Most simply, can you really, really, adore yourself the most—to use Greg’s terminology—by living off the productive means of others, taken from them by force, coercion? I don’t think so and I think the few folks asserting how wonderful and carefree it is are either ignorant of how things play out (doubtful), or they don’t care (worrisome).

      The nearly universal human culture of cooperation, trading of values, a fair shake and deal exists already. It’s what built the essentials of western civilization. It merely needs to be reawakened, recaptured, reemphasized.

      You want to truly adore yourself? Begin by refusing to steal directly, and condemn all theft you benefit from indirectly because you have a life to live and loved ones to support and cherish.

    • Yes, I see the connection Richard. I’ve had issues with some of the delivery in that book (not the substance of it) and have enjoyed tremendously Greg’s discussions in comments in past posts and clarifications.
      .
      Meanwhile, in threads above I’ve been advocating your last two paragraphs, practically to a word.
      I arrived here starting from the humanist perspective (not a typical path and actually crosses some of Greg’s concepts in making the connection, so logical to me) .
      We are on the same page, yet again :)
      .
      BTW, not only can you not “adore yourself the most by living off the productive means of others taken from them by force, coercion”, but I think that the more utilitarian or just absent-minded Compromises anyone makes to their principles/ethics the more damage they cause to their selves, their minds. Frustration, dissatisfaction, sadness ensue, the “typical middle-aged angst”…..with depression, misery at extremes.
      Someone actually asked above, in a discussion contrasting utilitarianism with non-relativistic ethics, “why make the ethical choice anyway, what is so great about being ethical?” – easy, as you would say. It’s about personal happiness.
      It takes thoughtfulness though, a presence of mind, and courage. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Joseph Fetz says:

    Libertarianism is more of a continuum than something that can be pinned down to a single belief system, as can be seen by distinguishing between somebody like David Friedman and Noam Chomsky. Anarchist doesn’t quite fit in my mind, because I do not have a problem with governance or the rule of law, it is the state that I take issue with (i.e. monopoly governance). So, probably the best term that I can think of is “anti-statist”. I essentially prefer an emergent governance, because I see voluntary association through the market as the most just system of social order.

    It would be nice if all humans came to the understanding that cooperation without force is the most mutually beneficial means of proceeding, but alas, there will always be people who wish to steal, kill, maim, defraud, etc. To think different would be to accept utopia as an actual possibility (which is absurd). So, there will always be a need for protecting oneself from such people, and indeed there will be a need for services to do so, as well.

    I must take issue with one thing that you said, though. Libertarianism, as understood by right libertarians (the most well-known form), is a political philosophy that is concerned with the justified use of force, so I am not quite sure where utilitarianism comes in. I mean, I do know that many people who happen to also be libertarians are utilitarians, but that is usually a function of the economic beliefs (esp. if they’re influenced by somebody like Mises), not their libertarianism. As far as I know, all forms of libertarianism are primarily concerned with the individual, not society at large. And surely, libertarianism cares not a single wit about value judgements or morality. In fact, libertarianism has often come under fire as being immoral, to which libertarians say, “morality has nothing to do with libertarianism, as it is not a moral philosophy”. The first principles of right libertarianism, property and non-aggresion, are arrived at through a natural rights concept, not ethics. In fact, I would say that this is why Objectivism and libertarianism have always been at odds with each other. This is also why I think it’s hilarious when people call somebody like Ayn Rand a libertarian, when she was nothing of the sort (she arrived at her philosophical conclusions primarily through ethics). Indeed, this particular form of libertarianism has often been called “propertarianism” due to this reliance on property as basis of defining what aggression is just. But, that gets into an entire discussion about natural rights, the mind’s control over the body, and the extension of man’s body regarding the external world around him; certainly a discussion outside the realm of this post.

    But, like I said, it is more of a continuum. Also, an exact definition of libertarianism doesn’t actually exist in such a form that one could apply words like “utilitarian”, “efficient”, or “collectivist” to it, because the only logical definition of libertarianism would be derived from the Latin word liberalis, which merely means “freedom”. So, the only definition of libertarianism that makes any sense would be that it is a person who is a proponent of and advocates freedom. These other things may be attributes of libertarians, but they have very little to do with libertarianism.

    • Back to the killing and maiming.

      “So, there will always be a need for protecting oneself from such people, and indeed there will be a need for services to do so, as well. ”

      What if I want to opt out of the services and protect myself from the killing and maiming on my own, and some similar-minded people would like to do the same?

      Well we can’t, the service to protect us from the killing and maiming is pretty much mandatory (though there is no assurance it will actually prevent the killing and maiming).

    • “Anarchist doesn’t quite fit in my mind, because I do not have a problem with governance or the rule of law, it is the state that I take issue with (i.e. monopoly governance).”

      Greg Swann (the Man Alive! guy) said in either an email or blog comment in around 2003 of Friedman:

      “David saw a monopoly of force and decided the problem was monopoly.”

      Get it? I did, and I never forgot it.

      Related, he also blogged once: “If you want someone dead, then kill them yourself.”

      The problem is precisely “governance,” which is merely euphemism for domination through force and coercion. It matters not a wit to me whether it’s done by means of a democratic/socialist monopoly, or a bunch of private agencies that compete with one-another (and yes, I’m well aware of the argument that “force” is not their service; security and protection are, and force is a _cost_ of doing business and one attempts to minimize costs in the context of business). I’m simply not interested in being dominated by anyone, ever.

      “I must take issue with one thing that you said, though. Libertarianism, as understood by right libertarians (the most well-known form), is a political philosophy that is concerned with the justified use of force, so I am not quite sure where utilitarianism comes in.”

      Well, I didn’t want to make this overwrought with technical stuff. I could have included Consequentialism as well. I think Utilitarianism, however, pretty much ties everything together, including right libs who still want force. Why? Because they think they can do it better, in order to achieve whatever _socially useful_ (i.e., utility) ends they deem appropriate.

      I’ll take the criticism, however that my piece is not at all academic or rigorous on all the technical philosophic and political issues. I wanted at least someone to read it besides you. :)

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Hey, I understand your position of force. Also, while I’ve had some contact with Friedman, I do often disagree with him.

      I will add one thing regarding “governance”. I am against the initiation of violence/force, however I am supportive of defending against the initiation of violence/force. The problem as I have always seen it is that it would be a position that is against the nature of man to believe that force or violence would never occur, that all humans would believe that all force and violence is bad, therefore the need for governance will always remain (unless, of course, we evolve into something else, which is possible). The answer that I seek is to find the most just way of dealing with this under the current realities of human nature. So far all I can find is allowing the market to determine the answer. While I can of course theorize as to how such a thing would be handled by the market that doesn’t necessarily mean that that is the way it actually would be handled.

      To be honest, I have no idea what I’m doing. ;)

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      In a truly free society you can most certainly opt out, there is nobody forcing you to buy defense services just as there’s nobody forcing you to buy health services toda….. Oh wait! Oops. LOL

      Obviously, I am a proponent of voluntary associations and exchanges, so if you would rather defend yourself, that is fine. However, the division of labor exists for a reason, the same reason that you don’t build your own car, or sew your own clothes: some people who specialize in such things are indeed better at it. However, if you don’t purchase defense services and you cannot handle a certain threat on your own, don’t expect to free-ride on somebody else’s defense.

      I don’t wish to get into the whole free-rider problem or get into externalities, because that gets far more complex than is needed to express the point, which is that in a truly free society everybody should be free from external aggression, nobody should be compelled, coerced or forced into actions they do not wish to engage into, and all associations should be voluntary.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      My last comment ^^ was in response to rob.

  15. Jason Blanchard says:

    Hey Richard im curious what your thoughts are on Jacques Defrescus Venus project? not sure if youve heard of it or not. I got into it after watching the 2011 zeitgeist documentary moving forward, id really love to hear your thoughts on the whole shebang!

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Until Richard weighs in, I’ll give you my opinion. It is Marxism with robots (i.e. it isn’t even an original idea).

    • J and J, check-out comments further above, it’s been addressed.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Thanks, missed that. And, I agree with Richard. It is essentially made up of 3 failed and/or impossible things: collectivism, egalitarianism, and socialism. The only difference is the whole robots part, but even that isn’t very original.

  16. Glad you stepped away from your original type of post on this blog for awhile! I loved it, but this has been very educational, to say the least. I thought I was fairly well educated on political philosophies, but apparently I was GREATLY mistaken. Thanks Richard.

  17. John T. Kennedy says:

    This seems like more of an argument for not being a collectivist or utilitarian, not for not being a libertarian unless you think the former are required in the latter. You’re an individualist libertarian.

    • Hey JTK. It’s been a long time.

      Realize that my primary audience here are statists, to one degree or another. I realize I’m playing a bit fast & loose with some words here. I ask non-collectivist or utilitarian to recognize that.

      No, I don’t think the former are required in the latter. The essential problem I see is that as libertarianism seems to be gaining in some momentum and influence, I think most of that momentum and influence are from those who are still statists and all statism, too, me, has some degree of measure of collectivism and utilitarianism (and consequentialism).

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Yes, I’ve noticed that, as well. I’d say that a good 80-90% of those who today call themselves “libertarians” are still ardent statists. Trust me, it took a long while before I jumped into the whole anti-state position headlong, but I was certainly a libertarian long before that. I remember the day that I actually said to myself, “holy shit, I’m a freaking anarchist”. It kind of spooks you a bit at first, because you’ve been so attached to the idea that a state is necessary. However, like I mentioned above, I prefer to be called an anti-statist (I am certainly an individualist), because that best describes my position, I think.

  18. Funny how we create these bullshit labels based on ones belief. You covered this in one of your comments… Yes, it will collapse – the government and the financial systems. Hopefully we find a way to lower the population by 75% without pissing off too many people if we want to last much longer too :)

    Howès this for Paleo – This all started about 50 thousand years ago when we started to eat meat and grew a brain that thinks too fucking much – there is no saving us. We have lost nature, instinct and controls by natural selection through survival of the fittest. I think Suzuki had if right when he said: We are all passangers in a car at high speed heading for a brick wall while arguing who sits in which seat.

    • “In the long run we are all dead”

      – Keynes

      So long as the car doesn’t hit the wall in the next 30 years or so …

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Rob, don’t even get me started with that asshole (Keynes). ;)

  19. Pretty much sums it up for me in a song.

    The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHhrZgojY1Q

  20. Hey Richard, one reason paleo works so well is its acknowledgement of evolution and n selection as the primary factors in selecting the best diet. Could this not be applied to socio political questions as well?
    One natural law is that of ‘might makes right’. This is not something I like or should like or dislike– it simply IS.
    And your notion of freedom and human rights- given by whom? Who guarantees it? And if you dont like govt why dont you barricade yourself Waco style? Whose duty is it to defend you except yourself? And when the MAn comes after you and you say ‘that’s not fair?’ Who said anything about fair?
    Like it or not, when humans enter into a collective (society) – benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Lets look at it from a biological perspective. At one time all life existed as single celled organisms. Thru cooperation and entering into a collective the frist multicellular organisms evolved. The ‘Nikoley’ cells who valued their own freedom either died off or exist presently as single-celled organisms– see that speck of dust on your monitor? there may very well be a Nikoley cell there! :)
    Our bodies are like a vast collective of cells working together for the common good (to say nothing of our gut bacteria). Unfortunately, there will be parasites from time to time. [Again, its not 'good or 'bad' from nature's p of view- what's good is what survives best. ] That’s a job for the immune system to take care of (Army). And yes, there will be some collateral damage.

    ” The American culture is what created what was supposed to be a very limited state. Didn’t work out that way ” – I would argue ‘culture’ is one form of biological cooperation. My take is the culture itself wasnt bad, but that it has been hijacked by a parasite (to continue the Nature analogy). Parasitism as opposed to symbiosis is interesting, bc if the parasite goes too far and the host dies, then the parasite suffers as well. The most successful parasites are ones that exhaust the host but not so much so that the host dies.

    • That is a fascinating analogy. I’ll have to think about that. Did you come up with it or borrow it from someone?

      -Tim

    • For the libertarians please explain this conundrum: why do insurance companies not promote paleo? Would they not stand to save big $. Im not saying the the libertarian rationale is wrong, but when the facts dont fit, well, you must modify your hypothesis. If Im missing some simple piece of truth, please excuse my ignorance- i have no formal education in these matters.

    • the BORG from Star Trek man! (just kidding)

    • This was just what I was talking about above. States will develop, there is nothing you can do about that, there is a natural force to larger organisation because the offer better protection against the other organisations. You can see this as an evolutionary process of cultures.

      I have no idea what the optimal size is, but it is definitely larger than a hunter gatherer band. It may well be that the USA is too large for many problems and you would only like to have a small federal government. But also removing state and local government would be catastrophic and leads to less freedom.

      The choice you have is between war lords and bad government on the one hand and a functioning prosperous democracy on the other. The latter is a precious common good. Yes also democratic governments are not perfect and they never will be, but it is in every ones interest to improve them and not to destroy them.

    • Marnee says:

      Insurance companies don’t promote any details of a lifestyle. That is not what they are supposed to do and they could be held liable, anyway.

      What they do is work against a shit ton of actuarial tables. If they don’t have any actuarial tables about “paleo diet”, or whatever, then it doesn’t factor in. They just care about mitigating risk according to the data they have collected. This is more than reasonable.

    • “This is more than reasonable.”

      Ah, someone who understands what insurance is, and isn’t. It’s a business. It’s aim is to make a profit by spreading risk amongst a large client base such that the distribution is bell-curvish. Some people make out like bandits, to the far right, others, to the far left, get the shaft (pay in forever and never draw a benefit). But mostly is everyone right in the middle who, for the most part, pretty much get back somewhere close to what they put in, the difference being the company profit.

      In essence, the true purpose of insurance is to spread the cost of your own misfortunes, accidents, liabilities over a long period. It is in no way a means whereby you get something for nothing—which is pretty much how most people look at insurance, nowadays.

    • “States will develop”

      So far, so good in [gasp] Somalia, in sprite of the [gasp] “war lords.”

      http://freetheanimal.com/2012/07/why-im-not-really-much-of-a-libertarian-the-definitive-guide.html#comment-163795

    • “One natural law is that of ‘might makes right’.”

      Nonsense. Might is might. Right is right.

      “given by whom?”

      Nobody. They just are. Natural. Like the Earth revolving, wild animals, wild human animals. I’ve already derived natural rights at the top of this comment thread in a way that a kindergartner ought to be able to understand it. Go find it.

      “And if you dont like govt why dont you barricade yourself Waco style?”

      Hi Spiro Agnew. You have a new twist on acting like you own the whole place today, eh?

      “And when the MAn comes after you and you say ‘that’s not fair?’ Who said anything about fair?”

      Don’t put words in my mouth. I’ve never used that phrase once in my life. I’m not talking about the reality of brutality, rapists or murderers, or their apologist like you, which will always exist. I’m talking about identifying them by their nature, no euphemism.

      You’re a thief, you apologize and excuse the worst possible behavior or just shrug your shoulders and proclaim that’s just the way it is, so stop whining.

      “Like it or not, when humans enter into a collective (society) – benefits outweigh the drawbacks.”

      Speak for yourself, fuckface. To whom?

      “Thru cooperation and entering into a collective the frist multicellular organisms evolved.”

      Anthropomorphism. Ridiculous. Gibberish claptrap. You want to think of yourself as the equivalent of a single celled organism? Fine. You’ve convinced me.

      “Parasitism as opposed to symbiosis is interesting, bc if the parasite goes too far and the host dies, then the parasite suffers as well. The most successful parasites are ones that exhaust the host but not so much so that the host dies.”

      Fucking duh. I’ve been referring to politicians and government as a parasite squarely since 1991. Just because it doesn’t kill you doesn’t mean it ought not be eradicated out of existence. Of course it should.

      The distinction between a parasite and a symbiot is that the former offers zero of value to the host, only disvalue.

    • Lol. +1
      ;)

  21. and before anyone says- no Im not a socialist or a communist. I actually believe in constitutional republic w checks and balances and free press. “but that failed!” yes US is going down, but not bc the system is inadequate, rather- i believe it has been hijacked. Does anyone really believe we have a ‘free press’?
    And watch out bc the 1st and 2nd amendments are under attack! (patriot law,etc.)

  22. Kristina says:

    This was beautiful.

    The best way to ensure that personal accountability dies dead is to assume that everyone but you has none, and so you have to “help” them by removing any need to be personally accountable. Kills it with fire, or when it can’t do that, it makes it socially unacceptable. Apparently we can’t be accountable to ourselves and each other as far as our own well-being. We have to be accountable to stuff we invent to act bigger, better, and superior to us, whether its a religious scripture or governing body.

    I thought when I got into college that I’d see less and less of that fluffed up pansy bullshit and more independent thought and more accountability to oneself. Going into my fifth year of undergrad I’m finding that just about all my educated and enlightened peers are completely suckered into believing everything they hear or see, especially if it comes in 140 character, 1.5 minute spurts or less. I only have slightly higher hopes for med school.

  23. Libertarians think they have it all figured out, but the truth is they’re just another hand in the circle jerk.

  24. Revealing.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/carney-how-hatch-forced-microsoft-to-play-k-streets-game/article/2500453#.T_mSd8wBkuI.facebook

    An excerpt:

    “But it grated on Hatch and other senators that Gates didn’t want to want to play the Washington game. Former Microsoft employee Michael Kinsley, a liberal, wrote of Gates: “He didn’t want anything special from the government, except the freedom to build and sell software. If the government would leave him alone, he would leave the government alone.”

    This was a mistake. One lobbyist fumed about Gates to author Gary Rivlin: “You look at a guy like Gates, who’s been arrogant and cheap and incredibly naive about politics. He genuinely believed that because he was creating jobs or whatever, that’d be enough.”

    • Robert Ve says:

      That shows even If they didn’t want to play they have to. And everybody is always blaming the big bad corporations.

  25. Bastille day. Liberté, égalité!
    The only two that were constant.
    While “fraternité” was in the revolutionary cry for some, it wasn’t for others, there were many other terms at the time, unity, friendship, charity (!). Fraternity was officially added later to make the state motto, with controversy and arguments that this value does not match the first two as it is not a value of individual rights but of community.
    And round and round and round humanity goes….

  26. Hey Richard

    I LOVED this post.

    As a result, I want to personally invite you to my speech at the Austin 21 Convention, Sunday morning (first thing).

    Usually I talk about The 21 Convention itself … but this speech will be different. It will focus 100% on a politco-legal philosophy that I think you will find very appealing.

    It’s definitely in line with everything you’ve written in this post.