Genius

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I went to the window,
I peeped through the blind,
And asked him to tell me what’s on his mind
He said,
Money, honey, uh uh
Money, honey
Money, honey, if you want to get along with me…

 

 

Nightwatchmen

In the arena where Libertarian philosophy is debated in bloody bouts to the death, a night-watchman state (some people prefer the term Minachist state) is a theoretical model for a state whose ONLY function is to provide its citizenry with police, courts and prisons. And maybe a defense force (to protect it from other states that have a less ‘live and let live’ approach). The state would therefore be responsible for protecting citizens from assault, breach of contract and enforcing property rights.

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The term Nachtwächterstaat was coined by German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle in an 1862 speech in Berlin. He criticized the bourgeois liberal limited government state, comparing it to a night-watchman whose sole duty was preventing theft. The phrase quickly caught on as a description of capitalist government, even as liberalism began to mean a more progressive state. Ludwig von Mises later opined that Lassalle tried to make limited government look ridiculous, but that it was no more ridiculous than governments that concerned themselves with “the preparation of sauerkraut, with the manufacture of trouser buttons, or with the publication of newspapers”. Proponents of the Night-watchman state are minarchists, a contraction of “minimum” and -archy. Arche ) is a Greek word which came to mean “first place, power”, “method of government”, “empire, realm”, “authorities” (in plural: ἀρχαί), “command” The word “minarchist” was coined by Samuel Edward Konkin III in 1980. – Wikipedia

I REALLY like this concept of government. Everything else from health care to infrastructure would be left to local communities to decide for themselves. This is likely as far as I can bend my mind towards Anarcho-capitalism. (even if I am sympathetic to their ideals) Of course communities should be able to ‘opt-out’ of the Nightwatchmen state if they so desire (and they feel they can make something else work with the resources they have available) and either go more anarcho-capitalist or more controlled/socialist, as long as freedom of movement is a thing and they still adhere to and respect property rights and contracts, and obviously don’t try to inflict their ideology on their neighbors.

I also use the term ‘police’ in the opening paragraph quite loosely since I feel the concept of a community ‘sheriff’ type system to be superior form of law enforcement than a state run organization. Courts and Prisons are the only two that I think need to work a little differently. I don’t really like the idea of privately owned prisons (I don’t think anyone thinks this is a good idea, unless there is a massive public oversight component, and lets be honest, for the most part our interest in people we deem antithetical to the norms of our society starts to wane fairly rapidly). That and I think courts and our ability to resolve disputes between parties should always work independently from the ‘state’ or leadership and be sufficiently transparent and easy understand.

Massive countries and states are hard to manage and hugely inefficient. I’m inclined to believe a smaller community based societies would work much better because it harnesses our natural human instincts, ie our competitiveness (to improve and be better than our peers over yonder) and selfishness (we are more inclined to spend money if we see the benefits in our own community).

People are inclined to think this level community involvement and how we manage ourselves is unrealistic, because, well, people are lazy and so we farm out our responsibility to a bureaucratic class. This… may actually be a fair criticism and is also the reason that fans of libertarianism are largely dominated by entrepreneurs, freelancers and self starters who are inclined to believe everyone thinks the way they do. They struggle to understand people who wouldn’t want some level of self determination and responsibility for their fate.

There is also the criticism that successful communities would be over burdened by migration while poorer communities with less resources would just continue to decline. I’m inclined to see how things work out and that the ebb and flow of supply and demand would likely balance things out in the long term. But… people are loathed to trust in the economics and contentiously try and tweak and game the system, when they should just trust in the awesomeness.

 

Progress through conflict

I like capitalism. *Jo raises a bat in anticipation of having to ward off the thrown object(s)*

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I mean I like other things too, like puppies and… eh… (okay, I’m leaving this blank, I’ll come back to it later when I’ve thought of something else)

I’m inclined to believe that capitalism is largely responsible for driving humanity forward. Which sets a lot of peoples teeth on edge because capitalism also pollutes rivers, kills rhinos, exploits and disenfranchises. Personally I believe people do that. Capitalism isn’t religious dogma, mind-control or hypnotic suggestion. (although maybe it is and I’m just their mindless mouth piece or drone* and therefore shouldn’t be trusted) Capitalism is just a problem solving model, but like a lot of things it suffers from the spotlight effect.

*the ant kind. Not necessarily the one soaring up in troposphere on desert thermals and raining down death on weddings parties and daycare centres.

The spotlight effect, basically, is analogous to when you shine a spotlight on something the mind becomes visually zoned in on what is illuminated by the spotlight and you’re inclined to ignore everything else thats happening on or off stage.

Let me also say right near the beginning that I like lots of other philosophies waaaaaay more than capitalism. But these are all highly individualistic (and also often theoretical), and are very unlikely to take root on a global scale with its myriad of cultures. When viewed as a collective I don’t think we are an altruistic species. There are obviously exceptions to the rule and there is evidence to suggest there is reciprocal altruism in smaller groups, but when we add everyone together and consider things with a sense of Realpolitik, I think the statistics would skew towards the selfishness of the individual.

Surely the aliens would judge us by this metric instead of the aberrations to this rule? Ie the sum of the whole. Ergo we should stop pretending that we are something we are not and embrace the stuff thats proven to move us along our linear progression towards… eh… where do we want to be again? Has someone officially decided this? You know, the end goal we all agreed on in the strategy session. You’re not allowed to say heaven.

I recently read… or maybe I heard (it all starts to blur together) how the thing that really drives us forward, innovates and (eventually) makes our lives better is conflict (I think there is the assumption that we survive said conflict or are of a later generation than the combatants). And how our imagined utopian and peaceful society would eventually just stagnate and stop evolving for lack of conflict.

This has gotten me thinking. On a personal level I tend to believe in the motivating power of a good enemy. And maybe this is true for humanity as a whole? Maybe the best driver of progress isn’t capitalism, but rather conflict?

I am not a big fan of nationalism. (which tends to make people think I’m for globalism, which is not necessarily true, I think these issues are complicated) In any event nationalism, for all its benefits (and there really can be some profound benefits in terms of cooperation among individuals who think they are special and unique) overall, just promotes a dislike for outsiders and fosters this weird culture of taking credit for the ‘achievements’ of your ‘nation’ as something you’ve personally done.

Nationalism does lead to competition though. And when that competition spills over into hostility, generally, there is a huge leap in progress.

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I’m not going to wax on lyrically on how all the things we’ve designed to murder and maim each other have actually, down the road, become a huge boon to us all, because I think the evidence is largely irrefutable.

I do however think, upon reflection, that conflict between nations, in order to drive innovation on a sharp upward trend, needs to be a conflict of equals. Or at least perceived equals. Conflicts where one side just bombs the #$@% out of the other doesn’t really drive anything except the amount in the expense column.

Maybe these things are cyclical. Progress is initially driven by conflict, for example the space race between the USA and USSR and when space exploration ground to almost to a complete stop because there is no enemy to motivate, capitalism stepped in to pick up the slack.

Of course, there may be an important caveat to all of this in so far as, the weapons we now have now are planet killers, so any further conflict may be, self defeating. Or not. Destroying the earth would likely motivate us to become a space born, interplanetary species. This may after all be, at this point, be inevitable.

Postscript. I don’t really want to sacrifice myself in some conflict so that future generations can have a better time of it. But I am generally appreciative of the sacrifice that previous generations have made (in terms of dying en masse) so that I could have a car, iPhone and internet. Thanks guys.

Resisting Capitalism

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I don’t want to sound mean… but I think you’re going about this be-the-change-you-want-to-see-in-the-world thing all wrong. (Look at me getting my Gandhi on) But this has likely been pointed out many, many times before. Don’t worry, I was also young, dumb and full of… actually, I hope the last part of that axiom doesn’t necessarily apply to you. If I have any life advice (having now sired girl-children) be discerning about the boys that you allow access to your lady bits. We are extra-ordinarily single minded and some of us are very, very cunning.

I’m inclined to believe that people confuse consumerism, greed and excess with capitalism. Off the top of my head isn’t that a lot like blaming modern medicine for the opioid crisis? Which I suppose, some people might do. Oh, modern medicine and the fact that we don’t keel over and die (from pustulant, weeping lesions all over our body)… eh, direct result of capitalism, because while we want to believe that people do altruistic things for the good of humanity with no expectation of remuneration (and some of them do), capitalism blows these achievements out of the water in terms of sheer scale when we compare actual good done for humanity. Seriously its like comparing the sun to the moon and imagining them to be more or less equal… which for those of you who are not cosmologically minded… the difference is mind bendingly massive.

When you resist capitalism what you’re actually doing is denying humanism and obfuscating the only real (and proven) system available for people to pull themselves out of extreme poverty. You are the economic equivalent of an anti-vaxxer. Sure you can donate mosquito nets to poor people living in Africa (one of the effective altruisms goto projects for apparently getting the most ‘goodness’ bang for your buck). But really, in my opinion, poor people need free markets, liberalism, property rights and rule of law so they can pull themselves out of the pit of poverty and help themselves (and then buy their own mosquito nets). But all they (for the most part) get is fucked by their own authoritarian leadership, populist agendas and the vicious bureaucracy of their trade ‘partners’. But… I suppose with mosquito nets they will live long enough to die young from something else.

If you’re going #Resist something. Resist corruption. Or gerrymandering. Or fucken lobbyists. Or a jingoist foreign policy. Or tariffs. Or farming subsidies…  you know, all the things that are actual problems and lead to this perception that capitalism is the villain in the human success story.

Odyssean mechanics

I have a note scrawled in my journal that I’m going to attribute to Deirdre McCloskey. Mostly because it’s on a page that contains other McCloskey-isms that I feel more certain are in fact attributable to her. Hmm. This is actually the first time I’ve had to pronoun a trans-person, it feels less strange than I thought it might… and while I admit there is a small part of me that wants to be fractious about this and argue semantics, most of me doesn’t really care enough to get all bent out of shape. Although, to be completely honest, at least some of me wonders if this is personal bias and if I’d be as kind to someone whose work I didn’t necessarily admire. I like to believe I would be. (but who knows)

In any event she said something along the lines of ‘Households are socialist enterprises’.

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And also ‘this is smallest group at which this kind of regulation can really work’. Ie Authoritarian control over other peoples lives. I’m paraphrasing that last part from memory (which as we’ve established before in previous posts isn’t great)… so… if I’ve messed this up completely, apologies to Deirdre.

I think I mostly believe this to be true. (although I reserve the right to change my mind without prior notice about anything I’ve previously asserted to be certitude). In your typical nuclear family there is a set amount of income that is distributed by an authoritarian figure (or figures if your parents share the management role to some degree) to non-income earning dependents to satisfy their needs. It works because… well…

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…there are consequences for insurrectionist behaviour. Non income earning dependents have to take and accept what they are allocated (or face strangulation)

Once you start to add just one more family into the mix things start to get a little more challenging.

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Decisions are still made to distribute the shared income pool and allocated based on perceived need… only people perceive needs very differently and the human condition discerns slight and grievance very easily. That and you’re always going to try and favor your particular ménage first. It starts to get very complicated, very quickly.

I tend to believe human beings are extremely dichotomous. They can come together and co-operate to achieve amazing, truly awesome inspiring things. But group them together and have them decide how to divvy up money and things just go to hell in a hand basket.

Also socialism is bullshit.

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‘We don’t need no water…’

I am fascinated by ideological hypocrisy. I’m also fascinated by the occasional ingrown leg hair and how wickedly infected they can get when left to their own devices… so really my benchmark for fascination is relatively low

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I have however recently (in moments of levity) been wondering why the Taliban and ISIS dynamited ancient statues, destroyed literature and generally took a dim view of anything Western … but hoarded US Dollars and paid the wages of their adherents in the much vaunted and hallowed USD, the currency of their most hated enemy.

Isn’t this ink saturated paper as Western Capitalist as it gets? I realize this is likely quite subjective but  I’m struggling to think of another more representative icon. In any event, surely this particular currency should have been accumulated and then bonfired en masse on the pyre-of -principle™, coupled (obviously) with the ubiquitous chant of ‘Death to America’ and people firing their Ak-Su’s into the air.

Nothing says fuck you, like burning another nations currency. Assuming that countries currency still has some perceived value. Burning Zimbabwean dollars or Venezuelan Bolívar (for any reason other than to keep warm) seems a little silly.

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‘Its not about money, its about sending a message’ – The Joker

 

Dick move

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While I love Thomas Sowell. I want to edit this quote. ‘most of what they saved up’ and ‘rather than to their heirs?’. That seems more inclusive. Pretty sure girls can save as well (as far as I know).

In any event. No. I can’t explain why this is. It’s a total ‘Dick move’ in my opinion, double taxation and just… did I say ‘Dick move’ already? Well lets just underscore that for effect.

Its likely because the dead just lie there. And take it. Instead of rising up to feast on the living in a vengeful night of… well…  vengeance.

My strategies to counter this eventuality are two pronged (I mean taxation as opposed to the zombie apocalypse)

  1. Don’t ever die. Or
  2. Don’t have anything the government can take from me at the point of my demise.

Both of which are quite tricky.

Or we could you know… vote. And change (bad) laws. I have more faith in the not dying part of my strategy.

Of course you might (hopefully just initially) be inclined to argue that this is a ‘rich’ people problem and therefore doesn’t affect the majority of the population ergo, why should we care? Plus the rich people don’t care about poor people… so really ‘$%&# you’. There is also a school of thought that advocates total seizure of a dead persons assets and that there should be no inheritance of any kind ever… the idea being our society would be a lot more equal and that people should never get wealthier through luck of the draw (in terms of getting wealthy parents, good schooling etc) as opposed to having to (actually) work for it.

In my view it all depends on your view of freedom. And whether you believe in it or not.

Personally I believe that my stuff is my stuff.  Feel free to moralize over my hoarding tendencies… but taking half my stuff when I die is stealing. I should be able to decide what to do with my stuff. And if I want to distribute it to my heirs (being aware of the problems this might cause) that is MY decision. I can also give it to charity or burn it all on a giant bonfire should I so desire.

That’s freedom.