Thursday, May 24, 2007

Gain and Loss 5: Agorism vs Anarchocapitalism

Anarchocapitalists often look at agorism and say "But that is anarchocapitalism. Why do they call themselves something different?" Why indeed? It's difficult to explain to an anarchocapitalist why agorism is different and better in the sense that an agorist can percieve the difference. I've had a hard time putting my finger on it until now: Agorism is a more gain-oriented perspective.

For an example of this, it helps to understand the agorist's view of the post-revolution economy.

The ancap's typical view of a post-state economy is that not a great amount of change will take place. Some price changes will obviousy occur where the state had been favoritist and discriminatory, of course, but otherwise, people will carry on as they do now.

The agorist's typical view of a post-state economy is different. Agorists see a post-state economy of entrepreneurs replacing what Marx called the proletariat - an entrepreneurait, in agorist terms - comprising most of the economy, just as was the class of counter-economists which brought about the revolution in the first place. Contrast the entrepreneur with the employee. The idea of a job as we know it is a loss-oriented concept, it trades away both higher wages and more freedom for a kind of "safety", hiding behind the veil of the entrepreneur, not holding the employee responsible in case of loss. Society would largely do away with jobs as we know them.

Consider insights gained from Gain and Loss 4, a post about thought and action.

C-ancaps are loss-oriented thinkers. They're probably just interested in the theory of it. They love the intellectual discourse and comfort of sitting at home talking and reading about market anarchism. Or they may be so afraid of the state that they fear doing something about it may get their name on a secret government list. In any case, they are doing little more than thinking and talking.

B-ancaps are loss-oriented actors, often activists. In this category you'll find most Free State Project members. Obviously anyone willing to move, to act, for liberty is not going to be in the C-class. They enjoy talking about it every bit as much as the C-ancaps, but they go out and protest the actions of the state, they protest laws, they spead libertarian literature, they are out there acting to prevent the state from taking away more of their freedom.

A-ancaps are gain-oriented thinkers and actors. This is where you find the agorists. They are not just saying it, they are LIVING it. They're not just talking about how the War on Drugs is keeping drug prices high, they're out there getting in on the profits. They're not just talking about how taxation is theft, they're researching or practicing the ways to stop paying taxes. They're not just protesting a new law, they're professionally subverting the state, and making money doing it. They're not just thinking about how alternative institutions would work, they are pouring the foundations. They're the ones out smashing the state for fun and profit.

Many anarchocapitalists are political, in that they advocate "working within the system", generally pay their taxes, apply for the necessary permits and licensing, vote, and so forth. This is a loss-oriented position of course, giving in to your fears of potential loss.

Agorists don't participate in the existing political system. To the maximum extent possible, no voting, no taxpaying, no obedience. Contrary to the ancap view of disobedience as a loss, agorists see it as a gain, as profit. It's more gain-oriented.

For another good example of agorism's gain-orientation, consider the treatment of socialists by ancaps as contrasted with agorists.

The ancap says to a socialist, "You are my enemy. You stand for theft and oppression. You stand for illegitemate authority, and support the good of one class at the expense of another. You are the antithesis of everything I believe." (On a related note, most socialists react the same way to capitalists.)

The agorist says to a socialist, "You are my friend, to the degree you agree with the non-initiation of force. You stand with me, in opposition to systematic theft and oppression. You stand with me, on the side of liberty and equality. You are my ally."

The ancap position is negative; the agorist position is positive. The ancap is often quite happy, and even ready to deliberately cause the misconstrual of words in an attack upon the socialist in order to feel victorious. The agorist, who is seen as almost socialist by anarchocapitalists, attempts to understand and think about what the socialist is actually trying to say. And the agorist, using this understanding thereby gained, seeks the help of the socialist in fulfilling the shared goals. The ancap seeks to deepen the ravine between the left and the libertarian political movements. The agorist seeks to bridge it. The ancap is a loss-oriented thinker. The agorist is a gain-oriented thinker.

Frederick Mann, whose works I see on BuildFreedom and BigBooster when I visit those sites, is very much a gain oriented individual. He speaks of the economic means to freedom, not the political means to less slavery. He talks about "the strange 'job' concept" dismissively, as he rightfully ought to dismiss such an idea as a job, which is rooted in the pursual of security, stability, the prevention of loss, not the achievement of gain, which he discusses in the same articles under the name "real free-enterprise" business, which you do not need a "job" for. I don't think a word I've read that was written by him has been loss-oriented. The lack of loss-orientation probably alienates a lot of readers from him, but draws in the right ones anyways.

Frederick Mann also advocates, interestingly enough, agorism in practice. While I have never seen him use the word, or agorist vocabulary like "counter-economy" or "entrepreneuriat", he advocates the same thing for the same purpose. I'm adding a link to BuildFreedom to my blog.

This is essentially why I think agorism is superior to anarchocapitalism. Those attracted to the agorist ideas tend to naturally be more gain-oriented, thus the agorists will be the more effective group, even if they are fewer in number.

Gain and Loss 4: Thought and Action

Many kinds of gains require very little change in the world around and outside us. When I write things for this blog, I just get a kick out of doing it, out of learning from it, and out of people harassing me for not telling them I wrote something new (a good sign!).

But often times we need something to change outside us. Monetary gain is a perfect example. Thinking will not earn you an income, acting can.

Loss-oriented thinking impedes action. If you are worried about what you might lose by taking a certain action, you are guaranteed at least, that you will lose time, effort, and often comfort, to do so. So you are ensured that you will lose something at least. If you are unsure of whether or not you will gain, as you always are, the potential exists of losing and not gaining. When infected with chronic loss-phobia, this leaves people dead in the water. Inertia ovecomes them, and they do not act. And so, they do not gain.

Loss-oriented action is often overcautiously executed. All erring is done on the side of safety. This is generally for when inaction is not an option, or is so deplorable an option as to be considered to be a loss itself.

Gain-oriented thinking doesn't promote inactivity. All gain takes place after action is taken. If you are looking for gain, you must act. A gain-oriented thinker is a gain-oriented actor. The potential to gain is unlimited. Opportunities need not present themselves, a gain-oriented thinker will pursue them if none are readily visible. A gain-oriented thinker may even create opportunities for others in the process.

An interesting parallel exists with something I recall hearing from the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. Robert Kiyosaki says there are three kinds of people who invest or plan for their future.

C-type Investors: Thinks about it, does nothing.
B-type Investors: Looking for safe investments.
A-type Investors: Looking for problems to solve.

In relevant sense:

C-type: Loss-oriented thinker
B-type: Loss-oriented actor
A-type: Gain-oriented thinker (and thus actor)

Although it is possible for people to fall into more than one of these categories by appproaching different subjects than investing in different ways, for instance being a C-type thinker, a B-type worker, and an A-type woman chaser (no doubt a common comination).

What substantially differentiates a C-type from a B-type is that the B-type has a lower time prefrence. They can look into the future and percieve loss, and so they act now to prevent it. The C-type looks only at the loss of the present inconvenience. Thus, C-types are called procrastinators and lazy and so forth.

So, which type are you? Can you think of any parts of your life where you might be a C-type, even though you're a B-type or A-type in others? If so, it just can't hurt to try to fix it. Libertarians need to be A-types. Statists do not.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Agorist Revolution

One of the things that makes agorism a superation upon Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism is the theory of revolution that was added. It is outlined in New Libertarian Manifesto by Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3).

As I see it the agorist revolution is not just one revolution. There are multiple revolutions involved. Let me try to explain it.

The agorist revolution in the first sense is an event which will happen a billion times. Libertarianism being individualistic, and agorism being libertarian, the agorist revolution is necessarily an individualistic revolution. In accordance with the proverb that before changing the world, you must change yourself, the first agorist revolution is when you change yourself, when you become a libertarian, when you choose to live free from state control, to disobey, to accept responsibility for your own acts and disreguard authority from above, that is the first agorist revolution. It's a thought.

The revolution in the second sense is not an event as the first was, but a process. It's just the conversion of that thought into action. Not just saying "Live free or die" but actually living free. On an individual basis, it's a matter of practicing what you preach, because what you preach is practical, and what you preach is true. It's an action. It's non-aggressive human action which is forbidden by the State.

There exist four sectors of the market: Red, white, gray, and black. The red and white markets constitute the economy. The red market is the market of overt violence, the white market is the market of implicit violence. The gray and black markets constitute the counter-economy. The gray market is the voluntary market of legal goods and services provided illegally (in violation of regulations or taxation), the black market is the voluntary market of illegal goods and services. The counter economy is "the sum of all non-aggressive Human Action which is forbidden by the State", to use a definition from agorist literature. It's all the people practicing what you preach, living free.

The state refuses to provide justice or protection, which it has a virtual monopoly of, in the gray and black markets. However the counter-economy will not be without conflict, so justice and protection will be needed by the counter-economy. The counter-economy is not yet big or obvious enough for non-state justice or protection to be a very profitable enterprise, because of the economy-of-scale effect. The non-state justice system will not form until the counter-economy it gets it's income almost exclusively from grows large enough that it can be provided on a mass-scale broad enough to support it.

It is interesting to note that a number of other proposed roads from here to there, from statism to anarchy, can all fall under counter-economics. Mass civil disobedience, education, protection agencies, et cetera, are all just parts of the more complete concept of the counter-economy.

Once non-state protection appears, non-state protection will drive out state protection. It will protect the counter-economy from the state in what will likely be a relatively small geographical region. Konkin called it "small condensation" With this protection, the growth of the counter-economy will accelerate, into larger condensation and higher densities.

The immediate goal of the agorist is to grow the counter-economy, so that the protection agencies, who will be opposing the state (and profitably doing so at that) will grow to the point that they can protect people best by destroying the state.

The second agorist revolution, the process outlined above, eventually leads to the third sense of the agorist revolution: The end of the State.

This is the plan for revolution outlined in New Libertarian Manifesto by SEK3. But I'm seeing that it might not happen like that. The above plan assumes an extremely stable society; so stable that it would likely only be that stable for long enough for the counter-economy to grow that it's only in theory that it happens as written.

There are two events that I see coming in the next 30-50 years that might offer the possibility of a slightly different agorist revolution.

The first is a political revolution.

During a political revolution the State has essentially lost it's ability to enforce the law well. This should be obvious; if it could, then how is an illegal resistance force present? It's resources are diverted away from law enforcement and into rebellion subversion. As this would likely be sustained, agorist entrepreneurs have much to gain from providing the market protection that will no doubt be in great demand. This will allow the Agora to establish itself. The agorists would be able to take advantage of the situation created by the angry revolutionaries; the revolutionaries need not be working with the agorists for the agorists to benefit. It will make the protection agencies cheaper to form. There will likely be two classes of revolutionaries; attackers and defenders. Attackers would take the fight to the state, defenders would be those willing to defend their homes, families, and communities. An oversupply of defenders will make finding people willing to do the job for the agorists much cheaper, and thus tend to increase profitability during the political revolution.

After the political revolution, but before the final agorist revolution, if the politicals attempt to set up a new state, this new state will be the weakest the state will ever be, as from this point it will only grow, as states do. If the agora's protection agencies are powerful enough to defend the agora against the new state, then the state will eventually lose due to it's inability to compete. The agora will grow in population as outsiders desert the state in favor of the superior economic and legal conditions made possible by the agora. It will grow in territory, as residents on the border of the agora and the state will tend to prefer the agora as better for their bank account, and will defect. The new state will slowly lose it's host population if it does not do something about it, and if it does something about it, it will lose it even faster.

And so the third agorist revolution takes place. The state either is crushed by the agora, or crushes itself.

The second possibility an economic revolution; I'm talking about the technological singularity.

I believe it to be most likely that the state attempts to prevent the singularity. I believe this more likely because the singularity would be a disaster for the state. Empowering all the rest of humanity as such an event as that would doubtless do, it weakens the state relative to it's host population and thus makes the host population simultaneously less dependant and more able to resist. The state does not want this to happen. Politicans who understand this will find any excuse to hold it back. They already restrict industry in general in the name of Global Warming. They are looking for any excuse to ban stem cell research. They would shut down cryogenics labs by crying fraud. They would suppress the knowledge that this event is even taking place to the best of their ability. Failing that, state puppets in university posts and PBS documentaries would talk about how this must be regulated so that all of society can benefit equally from it, rather than the few greedy capitalists getting all the benefit from it. So I believe it likely that the state will attempt to prevent it.

And you libertarians know what that means! Black-market singularity! The singularity will be confined to the counter-economy. It's benefits will be largely confined to it, the limitless growth afforded by it will be confined to it, the counter-economy will expand rapidly, bringing forth the counter-economic protection and abitration that will eventually suppress the state. And with the rapid advances in defense technology that the counter-economy will get, the protection agencies will tend to be better armed in case of direct confrontation. The agorists would have every advantage.

And then there's the possibility of the two happening at the same time. A weakened, post-revolution state attempting to impose it's will upon a technologically superior agora?

Or perhaps the reverse. If the state could divert most of the singularity toward itself, the mass of the people would have even more reason to attempt a revolution, as the state would use that technology as states do, that is, to oppress the people. More people would be more vehemently on board with the revolution effort. As the state would have revolutionaries within it's ranks as well as in the general population, the state will not stand much of a chance. The revolution will release the rest of the singularity into the market, as the agorists attempted condensation. With the new state, it would then be a more balanced fight between the two, to the maximum degree that a profit competition between Fedex and the Post Office can be considered balanced.

I hope I am right, and that I may actually see absolute liberty in my lifetime.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Gain and Loss 3: Education

I believe myself fortunate to have had an independant mind through most of my life. Taking nothing I was told as fact, but merely stashing it in my mind under "what I have been told", and trusting my own ability to percieve and reason to provide me with the actual facts, I was able to form my own opinions of things. Such ideas as "homosexuality is evil", from the time I became aware of it, were given to me as facts, but never recieved as such. I had a somewhat detatched view of the world. This independant, detatched view served me well in isolating me from the ideas given to me through the public school system.

The grading system itself is wholly loss oriented. You start with 100%, and whenever you are wrong, you lose. Furthermore you do not lose because you put something at risk and made a wrong decision. You lose something you never owned nor wanted to risk, and your loss is not metaphysical justice but human-imposed retribution. When this item, your grade, is risked, there is no opportunity to gain, as there is in reality, you cannot get a 105% on most assignments, and certainly not a 125% that a dedicated gain-oriented thinker can pull, you are capped at 100%, amounting often to just defending the status quo.

It is irrelevant to the grading system how much you improve. Attempts at improving your ability are not rewarded except as you improve your ability to not lose, thus encouraging loss-oriented thinking. If every question is gotten wrong on a test, and you can then look at the test and realize the mistake you made and correct and learn from your mistakes, they don't care. You screwed up. Your attempt at gain afterwards goes wholly unrewarded. A student soon learns that gain is not to be sought. The goal is not to win, but to not lose.

In some cases, arriving at the correct answer in the "wrong" way, is punished. Thus, attempts at innovation are not only left unrewarded, but quite effectively dissuaded. Finding new ways to solve an equation that work and require less effort were not allowed in most of my math classes. It is analagous to setting me at the start of an obstacle course and telling me all I had to do was get to the finish line, and then punishing me for walking around the outside edge of the obstacle course and crossing the finish line from the other side. Someone with no patience for trudgery will take the path of least resistance, even when that path is the least obvious one. This is just a variant of innovation. In a real-world situation, if the goal really was "get to the finish line", my actions would have been rewarded to the degree that I cut down on the time and effort needed to do what I did. In this artificial fantasy world of public schools, where action has no consequences except as those actions are judged by others, where self-defense is prohibited, property rights do not exist, you are a slave to the state, to be told when and when not to visit the bathroom, when they say jump, you ask how high, when they say "don't run", you walk, when you're late for class because you couldn't run, they punish you, if you break their mold, they break you.

People make mistakes, and people learn from these mistakes. Under a system where mistakes are punished, mistakes are not made, and thus no learning takes place. Worse yet, under a system where mistakes are punished, it causes whoever made the mistake to not think, but to feel. To feel bad, for having lost. This suppresses their ability to think, their ability to understand their mistake, and to learn from it. It has the effect of closing their mind to the potential of learning. It has the effect of making them prefer submission and obedience, because if they do as they are told, any mistakes that are made are not their mistakes, but the mistakes of those who ordered them around.

Loss-oriented thinking is force-fed to kids for over a decade in their most formative years, drilled so deeply into their view of the world as to often paralyze their ability to think in a gain-oriented fashion.

It is high idiocy to give a student information in such a way that destroys their ability to process it correctly, to make them unable to think and to act.

To me, one thing is certain: A new way of teaching is needed. An objectivist method of teaching, in the sense that it is reality-based and not opinion-based.

It would be consistent between it's means and ends. It would not claim the banner of reason and then use force, the negation of reason, in order to compel it's teaching.

In reality-based education, perfect action is rewarded, imperfection is rewarded less, and big mistakes are not rewarded at all.

In current education, perfect action is given zero punishment, imperfection is punished slightly, and big mistakes are punished harshly.

Is it any wonder kids hate school? Is it any wonder mistake-phobia is so common? Is it any wonder kids come out of school with a loss-oriented mindset, trying not to lose, as they have been taught to do?

The destruction of minds that comes from the public school system must NEVER be underestimated. I would venture so far as to say that next to the military, the institution of public schooling is the most destructive government program ever. And I'm not even sure that the military has been more destructive. I think it's actually that bad. The military's destruction manifests more obviously to all as a major loss (just look at any warzone). The schools' destruction manifests in reduced creativity, reduced productivity.

How much better off would America be if the 200 million or so people that went to school had not been force-fed loss-oriented thought? Where would we be if they were seeking liberty and not security? If they were seeking entrepreneurship and not employment? If they were thinking and not fearing? If they were seeking problems to answer rather than answers to problems?

It's really amazing me how many recurrent themes I'm noticing when I write these...

Gain and Loss 2

In "Gain and Loss", I said that a relationship existed between gain-oriented thinking and libertarianism and atheism and individualism. I'd like to expand upon that. Libertarians not only are gain-oriented, they must be. This is to me, a logically unproven but empirically true rule. One of the things libertarians should be doing consistently is gain-oriented thinking rather than loss-oriented thinking. Loss-oriented thinking is lazy thinking. Gain-oriented thinking is better. But this isn't very specific or easily understood, so allow me to use an example:

I've been thinking about this Dispute Resolution Organization (DRO) idea put forward by Molyneux and fans. It looks to me like a good example of loss-oriented thinking. What the DRO system amounts to is statism without the state. It operates in very much the same way. The idea is that people should have some organization with purpetual jurisdiction over them for purposes of contract and tort enforcement, by signing what amounts to a social contract. It is the state in practice, without the geographic monopoly or forced payment. The idea that it is necessary to have such an organization is saying "The government is necessary" while changing what is needed to make it such that the government is no longer the proverbial "necessary evil". Ironically, they're implying that government is necessary and not evil in contradiction to the libertarian manta of evil but not necessary. And the lie of the social contract, an idea created in defense of the state, is accepted as true with the libertarian condition that it must actually be signed. That is lazy thinking. The bare minimum of thinking that needs to be done to arrive at libertarianism is done, and not a bit more. The problem is solved, an objection is no longer valid, what more needs to be done?

To put it another way:

Objections (potential losses) arise about how the world will work without the state.

A gain-oriented person has the goal of seeking insights as to how the world could work without a state. "What are all the potential solutions?" he asks. "Have they all been thought up? Let's look for more. The more we have the better the chances of finding the best system possible."

A loss-oriented person has the goal of invalidating the objection, cutting off the threat to the worldview, with as little effort as possible. They will fall back on existing structures, modifying them as little as need be, to give a merely adequate response to the objection. Additional thinking is not necessary, so why do it? The goal, the narrow, loss-preventive goal, has been met. And in the process, almost no useful insight has been gained.

This suggests that loss-orientation isn't mutually exclusive with gain-orientation. You can be extremely gain-oriented, but if you become loss-oriented in the final stages, you still will not win, at least not as much as you should have. It's possible to be extremely loss oriented and become a fascist, highly loss-oriented and become a conservative or socialist, somewhat loss-oriented and become a centrist, somewhat gain-oriented and become a libertarian, highly gain-oriented and become a minarchist, or extremely gain oriented and become an anarchist. And then go further.

Gain-oriented thought correllates extremely strongly with human success. All of the greatest things done in history were done by gain-oriented people acting in a gain-oriented manner. The Agrarian Revolution. The Industrial Revolution. The Enlightenment. The Rennisance.

Loss-oriented thought correllates extremely strongly with human failure. All of the worst things done in history, and the greatest failures in history, have come from loss-oriented thought. Slavery, religion, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, every single war in the history of the world, terrorism, all based primarily on the prevention of loss or the results of that kind of thinking.

I've held as a person principle what I now realize to be a gain-oriented way of debating. My mindset is "I would rather be proven wrong now than continue to spread ideas which are false." This mindset resulted in my quick adoption of anarchism. Because I had to give up any time I found that I was wrong or inconsistent, I had to adopt the alternative presented to me which corrected the problems. But I notice a lot of people approach discussion and debate with a different mindset. It's as if they are thinking, "I am right and you are wrong. I will concede nothing. Every idea of mine is valid irrelevant of my ability to defend it. I will end this discussion in a draw before I will lose to you. I will not lose."

Which of the two perspectives is more gain-oriented? Which is more likely to result in success? Which is more futureminded? Which is more thought-related as opposed to feeling-related? Which sounds like an atheist and which sounds like a theist?

Are you, the reader, gain-oriented or loss-oriented?

Actually Existing Capitalism

I'm going to address some socialist ideas about the market and hopefully this can be illuminating for both socialists and libertarians.

Here, I am not using "Capitalism" to mean a free market of private property. I am using it in the sense of "Actually Existing Capitalism" or the market as we see it today. Because that is usually what socialists are talking about when they say capitalism, and this is about socialist ideas. Any mention of the free market from them is rarely if ever an attack on a truly free market, but an attack upon the "free market" that libertarians help them to conflate with "capitalism" which to them means what they see around them. So let's use their definition of "capitalism" and use the free market to mean something different.

It can properly be said that the capitalism is exploitative. Let's take the socialists' definition of exploitation, so that everyone can understand each other.

Exploitation - n.
1. The expropriation of value by a person in a position of power from a person in a position of subjection

The common socialist cry of "exploiting the workers" is often met by libertarians with the response along the lines of "they are like peers meeting and trading money for labor, it is not involuntary as it would have to be to be exploitation." Now, who is right here?

The socialist is talking about actually existing capitalism, that to which they are opposed. The libertarian is talking about the free market, that which they are actually supportive of. And so in the confusion of the vocabulary, communication breaks down.

It's important that neither the libertarian nor the socialist conflate the free market and actually existing capitalism. Kevin Carson, a mutualist, has noted the issue in his formation of the term "vulgar libertarianism", pointing out that libertarians often forget from one moment to the next whether they are defending the state capitalist system or the free market, two very different things, and that they often end up defending state capitalism unwittingly.

It must be conceded to the socialist that under actually existing capitalism, exploitation is taking place. For under this statist system, where licensing and regulation make it unduly difficult to actually be entrepreneurial, a disproportionate number of those who would otherwise be entrepreneurs become wage labor. This creates an oversupply of wage labor as opposed to entrepreneurial activity.

This gives the capitalist class an unfair advantage in two ways. First, it reduces the amount of competition on the market, increasing the capitalist's market share and prices with little effort on the part of the capitalist. Second, it reduces the amount of bargaining power the wage labor has. Because there is an oversupply of wage labor, wage labor is more easily replaced than it would be on a real free market, and wages are depressed. This amounts to an effective expropriation of value by the capitalists (who are in a state-created position of power) from the consumers on the one hand (through reduced competition and higher prices) and from the workers on the other (who are underpaid and have less than their fair amount of inflence) and even doubly due to the fact that the workers ARE consumers when they are not on the job.

In a free market, where more gain-oriented thought was present, where more entrepreneurs were around seeking to take from the reduced supply of voluntary wage labor workers, the capitalists would no longer have this unfair advantage. The workers, being scarcer, will thus command higher wages and more influence upon the employer, making it a much more fair system, the libertarian's view of it as an interaction between peers would be true.

Libertarians should recognize immediately the common theme that libertarians always love to discover as it proves correct their eternal theme: The state is at the heart of this particular form of oppression which manifests in the market. But they should and often do not recognize that it's manifestation in the market does not make the statism causing it something to defend, even implicitly. Socialists should recognize that any libertarians who defend the current setup should not be considered representative of the consistent libertarian position, but what Carson calls "vulgar libertarians", who are confused by the socialist vocabulary into attempting to defend actually existing capitalism.

Personally, I favor that the word capitalism just be gotten rid of. That would be wonderful. Every usage of the word "Capitalism" can be replaced by "Free market", "Mixed economy", "Fascism", or something else.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Identity Theft

Alright, I've told some people what I think about names and it seems like it takes more explaining than I hoped it would.

As I see it, we identify people by their minds. For example, if we put Adam's brain in Ben's body, we would still call him Adam. If Adam's brain could control both his original and another body, we would address both of them as Adam, because that is the mind we are talking to.

Every mind has it's own separate identity. We use names to differentiate between them. I use the word "names", but really any method of differentiating between two minds is what I'm talking about. It could be a number, a name, anything that will work like that.

The body is just a piece of property. The property is owned by the mind.

Alright, now let's suppose Ben goes around claiming to be Adam. What he is saying in effect is "The body before you which is speaking to you is property of the mind known as Adam." This implies "Adam is to be held responsible for the actions of this piece of property (the body)." To then proceed to act in a way that would have people hold Adam responsible or to damage or impede Adam's ability to reach his goals by falsely pretending to be him, would be fraud, and a crime.

If a dog attacks someone else, the owner is held responsible.
If my dog attacks someone else, and I say "it is Adam's dog", I might be able to trick people into holding him accountable. But I cannot then retract that statement and say "No, this is my dog" once the debt has been paid.

The same should apply to human bodies.

If you claim that your body is property of someone else (in everyday thought where we conflate mind and body into identity, we would normally see this as claiming to be someone else, using their name, pretending to be them), you should then give your body to that someone else as property. That means, you become their slave. For however long you pretended to be them, you deserve to become their property. Because it was supposedly someone else's property when you had control of it without their permission, you stole from them, and owe restitution.

Now, I know that a lot of people have the same name. I'm not talking about that kind of thing. Names are not unique in all cases. If two people share the name "John Smith" then anyone else purporting to be "John Smith" and holding someone known only as "John Smith" accountable could not prove which of the two "John Smith"s was to be held responsible, who had ownership of that body. If it cannot be said that either one of them had ownership of the body, neither of them can be held responsible.

But in the case of unique names, like my old handle "Keti 'Kotaree", which was stolen on more than one occasion, and I do mean stolen, we're not talking about some coincidence of naming, then you are claiming to be property of a specific person, and you deserve to become that person's property for the duration of time you spent pretending to be them.

Of course, you can buy yourself back from them, if they'll sell you back your time, and just give them money. But they have the right to refuse to sell it back to you at any price, until your time as their slave is up.

If the possibility of becoming a slave doesn't deter identity theft, I don't know what will.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fatal Instability

Sorry for being gone for so long. I haven't had a terrible lot to write about. Fortunately I've got a pretty good one here, addressing an objection almost 10 years old at least, but still nagging some people.

A commenter here sent me to where he (Paul Birch, not the commenter) has page about anarchocapitalism being unstable because of restitution ratios in market justice. Well, I'm going to try to refute this as best I can. If you want to see the original, it's located here:

First, it should be noted that Birch loves the common law. He loves talking about it and referring to it. But the common law isn't exactly the perfect libertarian law code. My understanding is that it allows for theft and enslavement without the owner's consent, merely on the basis of the owner's inaction. Now, something similar to common law but without the provisions for theft and enslavement would probably be a good thing for libertarianism. But alas, we don't have that, and discussions of common law today are not discussions of a libertarian ideal of law. This is relevant because a purely stateless justice system would probably not work exactly the same way common law courts do. In this case, I think the false assumption is that the finding of any court is automatically made binding upon the offender, who may not even be aware that a case has been tried. We anarchists like to call two people agreeing to deprive a third of life, liberty and property, "conspiracy", even if one claims to be a victim and one claims to be a court.

The second point I take issue with is how he says that the offender must pay for all the enforcement, restitution, and court costs. I do believe the offender should ultimately be paying for their offenses, but I do not believe it must necessarily be done directly as the statement implies. If done indirectly, the restitution war can be easily averted. Another issue on this same point is his insistence that the court must provide immediate restitution to the victim, to pursue repayment from the accused afterward. First problem with this is that I can find no basis for immediate restitution as opposed to restitution later, with interest. The second, and slightly more pressing problem, is that of economic calculation. Justice is a good or service which is subject to scarcity. The same problem of a government "Cost-plus" contract appears here, the court has no reason to keep it's costs low because someone that is neither the producer nor consumer is going to be paying the bill. Also, there would be little way of telling when more people are in the judicial industry than is efficient. If there are too few, or too many, the prices paid by the consumer (the victim) cannot go up and down to reflect the shortage or surplus and motivate more or less people to go into law. On the same token, the customer has no reason not to go with the most expensive courts (in terms of resources used, not in terms of money, for the latter won't be realized by the customer), or to use the time and money tied up in the courts to enforce relatively petty contracts, for example using $60 worth of resources to enforce a $10 debt, when it would make more sense to either get it done out of court, or lump it with a number of similar unpaid debts and do them all at once. Indeed, with the full cost paid by the accused, the customer has motivation to waste the resources, and pass the costs on to the accused, as revenge.

My third issue starts when he discusses "Justice in an Ultraminimal State", where the State consists of a court which has a monopoly, a court of final appeal, but with most courts being private. Then in the section "Justice in an Anarcho-Capitalist Society" he says "There is no final court of uniform code of justice can be enforced." Implying of course, that things like restitution ratios (how much the offender pays the victim as restitution, for example with a restitution ratio of 2, an offender which steals $100 will be expected to repay $200 to the victim) can be altered at will. He is right in that there is no court of final appeal, but he takes this as if to mean there is no appeal but perhaps to another part of the same court as handled the case for the victim.

Predicting an anarcho-capitalist society is difficult because, as Birch rightly notes nearer the end, there's way too many factors to consider to be able to see them all at once. But what I believe would happen was outlined in my earlier post "Supplanting the State: Courts and Law". In the system I predict will appear, there would up to three courts, one court chosen by the victim (and in most cases, the accused would probably submit to it), one by the accused (for when the accused suspects a corrupt court), and possibly a third court to settle any dispute between the first two. The court chosen by the accused would be the defacto court of appeal, able to find the first court to either have authorized illegitemate siezure of property, or to have found incorrectly if action has not yet been taken. Potential items of dispute between the courts would include guilt and restitution owed.

My fourth problem is a point of negligence on his part. Under the section "Justice an an Anarcho-Capitalist Society" he says, "...there is no guarantee that an anarcho-capitalist society will be just." And he is right. However, he failed to point out the same in the immediately prior "Justice in an Ultraminimal State". There is no guarantee that an ultraminimal state will be just anymore than the same can be said of anarchocapitalism. I say it's a point of negligence because I'm going to be nice and not assume he's taking the justice of an ultraminimal state as a truth which needs no proving, because that wouldn't be negligent, that would be stupid. So I'm calling him negligent. But you know, this really isn't basis to refute his idea. It just shows that the alternative won't be better. I thought the point needed to be made.

Now onto the restitution war. Birch predicts that courts will offer, for example, 150% restitution, at the offender's expense. Victims will flock to the 150% court and not use the 100% (restitutional "unity") courts. In his words: "And why not? After all, it's the criminals who pay. Who cares about them?"

This is where the non-commonlaw, indirect, market-version appeal process comes in. A man expected to pay 150% restitution could take suit against the court that demanded such payment for unjustified theft (assuming the property siezure has taken place, if not, then this would be an appeal) by going to a different court. The victim's court would then likely be found (especially if they have been advertising it to attract customers) to have been unjust in demanding payment, and the offender's court will demand the excess 50% be returned (or, pending the siezure, dropped). It may have to go to a third court, and the third court will in all likelihood not be attracting customers (the other two courts) with 150% restitution ratio, as both courts would need to agree on it.

I think this sufficiently demonstrates why a restitution war will not happen. To make it short, courts that do that, will get sued. Ironic, sorta. I'm inclined to believe that this didn't occur to Mr. Birch because he was still operating within the statist court-of-final-appeal mentality. As he says in the Ultraminimal State section, "The state court will enforce its judgements against all other courts; but no other court can enforce its judgements against the state court." This may have accidentally carried over to his analysis of anarcho-capitalist justice. This statist idea that the courts are not people themselves, able to bring suit and to be sued, but some entity above the people at large, metaphorically similar to a god passing judgement, is easy for even anarchists, and especially statists, to fall into when discussing anarcho-capitalism. It's so easy to do because we never see courts suing each other under statism. Private courts are contractually obligating upon both parties from the outset, and hierarchal state courts merely overturn decisions without punishing bad judgement, and certainly nothing like suing the court, so it's easily missed that it is possible.

However, I'm going to keep going through this, because even if we assume that he has been correct up to this point, which I do not believe he has, he makes more mistakes.

The most notable one for me is what he says and what he does not say right before predictions of the collapse of civilized society into chaotic violence and gang rule. What he says is, that the courts which do not raise the restitution ratio go out of business and whoever has the highest restitution ratio will become the monopoly court or virtually so. I really have no idea what reason led him to that conclusion, since it seems to me that raising the restitution ratio would be a simple matter of policy adjustment. But the point is moot because courts can be sued. Anyways, the notable mistake is where he says that the last court will go "belly up", and then there's no courts. I personally don't get it. If there's a surge in demand for courts, then the price will go up and new courts will pop up like weeds. High demand + Low Supply = High Price = High Incentive for new courts to appear. The predicted crime wave never happens because there will never be no courts on the free market.

Billy-mae and Billy-bob waking up Grandpa Boo for his wisdom in a dispute over who gets to sit in front of the 1937 Ford Pickup on cinderblocks in the backyard right next to the outhouse is as much a court hearing as the professional organizations with suits, lots of wood furniture, and juryboxen. There won't be licensing of courts. There won't be the same situation as if every licensed doctor died tomorrow. Because there would always be the black market, and under anarchy, the black market is just "the market".

My favorite part of the page is the sixth section, "Conclusions", in which he basically gave an ornate version of "I don't really know what's going on here (paragraph 1), but I know I'm right (paragraph 2), but I hope I'm wrong (paragraph 3)." His conclusions speak for themselves, folks.