Friday, June 19, 2015

My Views About Death

So I was having a philosophical discussion The De Anza Philosophy Club with members Pedro Enriquez Alberto and Austin Riley Green, and a topic came up which, although I wish we had more time to discuss it, reminded me of how deceptively simple certain core features of life such as "death" and "existence" can be. For example, one can say with confidence that there comes a moment when a life form, such as a human, is definitely dead. Yet does this mean that death, as a meaningful concept, actually occurred? In this post I will examine this issue more in depth.
Consider first the cells of the body, which although they still die, we consider the human to still be alive; rather than saying "they died a little", or when they grow new cells, "they became a little more alive", we disregard the death and regeneration of cells as units which only have meaning in relation to the concept of "death" when they sustain the body as a whole. Thus, cells dying is not considered the death of the human, but a heart stopping, or a brain ceasing to function, might be considered definitive means of gauging death; furthermore, as Austin noted, eventually all the cells will totally die without a living body to support them, and the consciousness will fade into oblivion long before that.
But let's take things a bit further: If the body is a form by which we define matter that fulfills characteristics necessary for us to deem a thing "living", or more specifically, "human", then limiting what entity can experience "death", or the death of which can be experienced as such by others, is arbitrary. After all, we have already determined that although cells die, it is not cells that experience or relate to death, but humans. So expanding this further, we can say that if a person dies, but their ethnicity, culture, religion, or to be as comprehensive and biologically accurate as possible- their species- will continue to live. The species- for this is where the ultimatum of the unit of humanity is most complete- does not "die a little bit" or "live a little bit more" when the mortality rate, life expectancy, or birthrate change. The human species, if we were to directly compare to how we view the human body, simply exists or does not exist.
This does not of course say death does not exist, or has not occurred. Rather, it means that death does not have the meaning that people suggest it has. After all, people do not experience their own death- they are alive up until the moment they are not, and their death is not experienced or appreciated by themselves, but by other people. Thus, one cannot experience death in the individual sense, even though it occurs. This is the same as how one cannot experience the death of one's cells because you are not actively aware of their death, nor the loss of their parting, and you are not aware of their regeneration, nor appreciate the gain of the new life thereof. So essentially, when we speak of "death", we are speaking of a death that is not experienced, because we are not referring to the body dying at all- for which death is not experienced- but for the LOSS of a member of society, of family, of friendship, etc.
This is intriguing, because it follows from my hypothesis, introduced both at the beginning of this post, and also in the philosophy meeting, that death as actually experienced (the appreciable concept of death) does not actually refer to the ceasing of a discrete body, as people generally think of it as, and which is plainly obvious "common sense" to what Pedro referred to as the "Collective Subjectivism" of societies and cultures, but to the loss of a "cell" of society; thus, while people may perceive the person as dying in terms of a discrete body, the actual experience of death they are having is more akin to the death of a sociocultural cell than to the death of a body.
So why do we experience loss of a "cell" of society in this manner, when don't feel the same type of loss of our own bodily cells, given how appropriate the analogy is for describing the actual experience of death? The answer lies in communication: we aren't able to communicate with our cells, as they do not have consciousness, but we can communicate with other humans, as they have separate consciousness. As such, what we are actually differentiating, and thus the reason for giving privilege to the appreciation of the death of other humans, is the loss of consciousness, and thus of communication and interaction with other human beings which we previously benefited from sharing ourselves with, and became sufficiently attached to, resulting in the feeling of loss. When compounded to the sociocultural level, a collective subjective viewpoint on death based on the prevalent experiences of loss for people who have had loved ones die, conditions us to associate death in such a manner.
This perspective is further supported by the fact that people treat the death of other living things differently than the death of humans. Animals which humans perceive as being closer to them (such as cats and dogs) are perceived as dying more than animals which humans consume for meat, and plants are barely perceived as dying at all- often we only can conceive of a plant being "killed" when the death of plants is critically evaluated. Having established an alternative explanation for "what is death", and why we understand death differently than we actually experience it, I will now move to an evolutionary explanation for the paradox concerning the subjective interpretation and experience of death.Human beings are optimized for survival, as evidenced by our ability to thrive after millions of years of natural selection.
One characteristic which has proven more than any other to be critical to the success of the human species has been the ability to consciously communicate with each other, share experiences and preserve them through language; this was later expanded through technology to writing, and since then technology has accelerated our ability to communicate, resulting in the most amazing technological advances in the world. Drawing from these facts, I note that as death as-actually-experienced (not as a discrete body, but as a member of society) requires communication and the preservation (through memory) of the record of each others' ideas, beliefs, values, and character. This social memory of individuals, coupled with the need to recognize their death in order to motivate the preservation of the contents of their existence, is what makes culture possible. The collective experience of death as a loss of the community is thus the cornerstone of humanity.
I believe this explanation is good because it affirms what Pedro noted about the value of collective subjectivism, recognizes Austin's conception of a discrete unit (a human body) dying, while still holding to my own conception of death, which recognizes every layer of death as relative and objectively true, but only challenging the way that we understand death as-actually-experienced. The cell dies, the body dies, the culture dies, the species (though thankfully not human) dies, but we should recognize and appreciate death not how it is materially presented to us, which is superficial and misleading, but through the emotional response to a sociocultural loss, which is the true experience of death that we are actually identifying as death, even if we do not consciously affirm it as such.
To quote Plato on a topic which I resonate strongly with on this topic,
"He who has been instructed thus far in the things of love, and who has learned to see the beautiful in due order and succession, when he comes toward the end will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous beauty (and this, Socrates, is the final cause of all our former toils)-a nature which in the first place is everlasting, not growing and decaying, or waxing and waning; secondly, not fair in one point of view and foul in another, or at one time or in one relation or at one place fair, at another time or in another relation or at another place foul, as if fair to some and-foul to others, or in the likeness of a face or hands or any other part of the bodily frame, or in any form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any other being, as for example, in an animal, or in heaven or in earth, or in any other place; but beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting, which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is imparted to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other things. He who from these ascending under the influence of true love, begins to perceive that beauty, is not far from the end. And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is."
(From Plato's "Symposium")
Death is not an emotional reality, (*LOSS* on the other hand is a very real and devastating experience that I am very familiar with and has nothing intrinsically to do with death!); rather death is a culturally transmitted interpretation of the permanent loss of bodily functionality. I don't believe in death because what people describe as death isn't death at all but rather the loss of life, and what is actually experienced as a result of death has nothing to do with the end of bodily functionality at all, but the resulting social disconnect. In other words, people conflate death with loss, and as a result fear what is not and cannot be experienced (death) while not truly acknowledging and appreciating what is actually experienced (loss); additionally, this conflation causes people to take life for granted because they are more focused on fearing what they cannot experience (death) instead of savoring the limited time of what is experienced (life and the loss thereof).
In many cultures, they celebrate death because they recognize that to fear death or escape thoughts of it is distorting the nature of life and as a result causes people to take it for granted. I believe this is one of the reasons why there is so much violence and killing in the United States, because our distorted conception of death has caused us to lose our love and respect for life. Again, by understanding it as death instead of as loss, we misunderstand both, and that is what I take issue with.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Most Powerful Critique of Private Property Rights

While I definitely enjoyed this wonderful critique by Professor Matt Zwolinski of libertarian views on pollution in relation to private property rights, what I found most interesting is the fact that when the logic discussed in this video is applied to every aspect of life, ABSOLUTE private property rights, especially when encompassing the core libertarian principle of self-ownership, is shown to be impossible.

Let me explain: In the video, Zwolinski notes that if a person's property is harmed or tainted against their will, including their own body, then their private property rights have been violated. It then follows that pollution which is undesired, including dumping waste on a person's lawn, releasing smoke through their window, playing music a person is annoyed by, and emitting carbon dioxide which degrades the integrity of people's property- all of these are violations of property rights. Thus, when libertarianism is taken to its extreme, it is truly environmentally friendly, but it is also impractical and in some respects impossible to implement.
Such arguments are impressive and certainly effectively demonstrates a critical flaw in core libertarian principles which needs to be amended, expanded upon, or as I'm sure Matt Zwolinski would agree, transformed to be practical and beneficial in the world. But let's take that same logic and apply it to every other aspect of life: Every individual in some way contributes to the conditioning of the environment in which other individuals live. Furthermore, the vast majority of conditioning that takes place is not consented to by others, and in fact they are not even aware that it is taking place. Thus, when private property rights are taken to their absolute extreme, they are impossible to enforce, because everyone necessarily modifies, develops, and violates the property and person of others, whether we want to or not. It's an inevitable fact of life.
This is a powerful critique of private property rights which rigorously proves that even if private property rights are "natural" as natural rights proponents hold, they are not absolute or unrestricted; that is, private property rights must be restricted so they do not violate the rights of others, and at the same time, they must not be absolute, as we have already established this to be both impractical and logically unfeasible. Private property rights are a crucial part of a free society, as they facilitate free trade, minimize transaction costs, protect investments, and serve as the foundation for the defense of rights. But for private property rights to be beneficial, they must strike a balance, as the arguments above (and those given by Zwolinski in the podcast) demonstrate. We need to redefine private property rights to be more consistent with a rational view of rights which best serves individuals and is most beneficial to society.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Property Rights and The State

So long as there are rights, there need to be agencies to arbitrate them. You might, for example, argue that property rights can be defended and arbitrated by private security firms, but in the absence of a central government, the arbitration of rights would depend on which security firms have the most power to defend properties, which at the root is fundamentally driven by, among other factors, military force. An argument that follows from the "private security firm" argument, is that the state is the sanctioned monopoly on force.

First of all, this is incorrect. The state does not have a monopoly on force any more than the IEEE standards body has a monopoly on computing. The state contracts out private security and paramilitary firms, and the vast majority of the weaponry of most government is developed by the private sector. The very fact that there is a such thing as private security firms goes against the claim of a monopoly.

Well you might claim that it's a monopoly because the state is the single agency with the most force, and this is ensured by law. Now, this might actually be true of the United States, due to our bloated military budget. However, this is not a problem with the state, but with the U.S. Federal Government. In many other states, they have an extremely small military, and in others, such as Japan, their military is entirely privatized. As for the police, they are far more decentralized, existing chiefly on a city/town basis, with some exceptions for certain regions which have municipality police.

But even then, these city-states have no more power than IEEE- they have power only because they are recognized by state protocol as the official arbitrators. We still have private security firms, and our police do not have the majority of the power because they have a legal monopoly on it, but because most people depend on the police (and the government, for that matter) for the defense of rights.

Now, the real question which not addressed, and one that actually reveals the reason why the state exists, is "why do the people rely on the state for protection instead of having their own private security firms?" Private security firms are legal, and can be hired for the defense of property, and probably will do a better job than the police or Federal government will, simply because their employment is optimized for the defense of property rights.

There are a few reasons for this:

1. because for most people, a centralized institution for the defense of basic rights is more intuitive and convenient.

2. Because the defense of rights is not something that should be competed for. A person should not lose their rights because the firm they depend on for the defense of rights does not have enough power to be "competitive", or "goes out of business".

3. Because for entrepreneurs and businessmen to make long-term investments in countries, a region needs stable institutions to ensure the conditions that determine the success of their investment (the "rules of the game") are clearly understood and reliable.

4. (perhaps the most important reason) Because cooperative endeavors require an agency to set the standards and protocols for cooperation, so as to ensure all efforts are compatible with and complementary to each other.

Regarding #4, the protocols (institutions) that the state is most necessary to universalize the standard for in the interest of preserving the defense of right, fostering trade, providing a secure environment investors, and ensuring the health and well being of the people:

a. Property
b. Money
c. Roads
d. Police
e. Military
f. Education
g. Healthcare

Of course, the state is accepted as the primary agency for these institutions, but it is not by any means the only one-

a. Property rights can be defended the security firms.
b. Private money is legal in most states and even encouraged in some.
c. Roads on private property can built and maintained privately and funded by tolls.
d. Private police have long been a commonly hired by the affluent (and even the average joe can hire bodyguards if he's paranoid enough for it to be worth the investment).
e. Paramilitary corporations are legal and even contracted out by the state when there is a shortage of resources (in the case of Japan, their military is entirely private, made possible by military protection of the U.S.)

f. In the US, public education may be the norm, but private schools abound and provide excellent formal education, and parents also have the right to home-school their children and have that education recognized. g. Even as Obamacare is implemented, the government doesn't even provide healthcare. They instead set standards regarding the coverage insurance companies must offer, and a requirement that all Americans making over a certain income must have coverage meeting those standards or else pay a penalty fee. The healthcare actually provided in the U.S. is private sector- only the insurance coverage itself is regulated.

Perhaps this was a bit drawn out, but I think these points are all too often ignored by libertarians and anarchists. If you want to get rid of the state, you need to understand its functions, and why the vast majority of people support the state in spite of its many shortcomings. Above all, the greatest function of the state is the provision of the institutions necessary for society to function and encourage long-term investment.

For people to invest in a region, or even to be willing to live there, they need to be able to know that the "rules of the game" that they build their lives on will hold true. They need to know they can live in peace and work hard to achieve goals without having to worry about their dreams being shattered by other people who don't play by the same rules.

The state arbitrates many institutions to establish the rules for interactions between people, but chief among these institutions is Property. One could argue that without the existence of property, the other institutions would be unnecessary, because the need for security, the need for a consistency and stability regarding the institutions of society, it derives from ownership. Without ownership, there is no competition for resources, and thus no conflict of interests. The friction between people that necessitates the defense of rights, creates problems when people don't play by the same rules, and necessarily results in "winners" and "losers"- it is founded in ownership.

The very fact that ownership is recognized as a "right" is the reason why states exist, why force exists, why crime exists, and why conflict exists. This is not to say we can magically get rid of all the problems in the world by getting rid of ownership- to begin with, ownership is part of human nature, a territorial instinct, and these problems persist chiefly because of this flaw in humanity. The purpose of civilization is chiefly to minimize the flaws of humans and to provide a framework for us to evolve past them. By recognizing this primitive notion of "ownership" as a right, we are devolving ourselves into beasts that use force against and kill each other in an act of what is little more than the human equivalent of territorial pissing.

If we are to evolve into a fully mature, stateless society, we need to stop recognizing ownership as legitimate, the same way we have stopped recognizing murder or rape as legitimate. Sure there will likely always be some people who still rape and murder, and by the same token there almost certainly will always be some people who believe in ownership, but we can at the very least eliminate recognition for these elements of human nature sufficiently to establish a stateless world.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Difficulties of Achieving Intellectual Solidarity

A while back, I read about a scientific study showing that, contrary to popular belief, academic literacy does not necessarily lead to agreement about the issues. Put in layman's terms, even if all of us were experts, that doesn't mean we'll agree. Even scientists and researchers dedicated to their respective fields hold different opinions about the evidence, and the interpretation thereof; in many cases, the so-called "scientific consensus" refers not to even to general agreement among scientists, but sufficient agreement to be considered the "official" opinion of the scientific community.

In this sense, academia has changed over time from the rigorous and passionate quest for knowledge, to the democratization of academically acceptable views. Additionally,  the scientific community isn't even truly democratic, but meritocratic, and for views to be widely accepted, they generally must appeal to the authority of respected academic figures; such a system suppresses original, organic knowledge, requiring scientists to build their work upon that which is already accepted.

This same kind of problem is present in all the fields of knowledge, from politics to economics, from technology to anthropology.

Economists who hold views different from the mainstream, Keynesian interpretation, particularly Austrian economics, are not taken seriously simply because to the mainstream economic experts, Austrian ideas simply do no make sense. When all of history is interpreted from the Keynesian perspective, as it is by most economists, every depression recession, period of deflation or inflation, crisis, meltdown, or market contraction is seen as being caused by market dysfunction, and could have been prevented by informed, prudent government intervention.

Austrian economists are just as much of experts as Keynesians are, and yet they hold such different views. The academically accepted view is presently Keynesian, with Austrian thought considered an alternative, or "heterodox" view. Even though these academics have about the same level of expertise and knowledge, access to the same statistics and economic studies, and the same history, they cannot agree, because they interpret the knowledge and academic resources differently. Knowledge cannot cause people to agree, because it is principles, values, and perspectives that give knowledge meaning, not academic literacy.

This problem is quite frustrating, as it appears to have no solution; at the very least, there is no solution that is easy or obvious, and almost certainly not one without compromise. No matter how knowledgeable we are about science or economics or political theory, we will disagree at least some of the time, and there will always be a core issue that all of us disagree about. We will disagree because there is no firm relationship between knowledge and agreement. We might agree about issues for which the facts are clear, but most of the time, knowledge is open to interpretation. Even a field of knowledge as rigorous and objective as science is highly dynamic in its interpretation; those who hope that getting rid of ignorance will lead to widespread agreement, are doomed to be disappointed.

This disconnect between knowledge and understanding is sadly taken for granted, or often denied outright. Perhaps because such a truth is too harsh for most to accept, the pervasive belief that conflict exists only because people are ignorant, that people commit crime because they don't know any better, that politicians passing legislation we strongly disagree with are "psychopaths" or "idiots", or that conspiracy theorists are just ignorant lunatics who haven't properly reviewed the evidence and developed rational conclusions. We can be the biggest experts in the world and still disagree, and until we accept that, we won't be able to work towards reconciling our differences of views.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A 44-point rebuttal of Stefan Molyneux in 48 minutes

I am disappointed that +Stefan Molyneux would take this approach to "rebutting" the article in question.. Rather than addressing the points made head on, he attacks the rhetoric and style of the authors, without addressing the underlying reasons for their criticisms. Here are a few examples of this:

Note:* While the following 44-point breakdown is intended to be objective, not taking a side either way, it might appear to be supporting statism because it is almost entirely composed of criticisms of Stefan Molyneux’s so-called “debunking”, and aims for a pragmatic and centrist approach to achieve a high degree of neutrality on the issue of libertarianism vs. statism.

1. The claim libertarianism doesn't glorify personal freedom: While I'm sure libertarians (or at least, many libertarians) believe personal freedom to be not only a pragmatic virtue in society, but a natural right, there are those (including the authors of the post) who
understand freedom as a threat to society, a radical ideal at odds with civilized behavior, and more conservatively speaking, an irresponsible paradigm.

Rather than addressing this point, Stefan expects the authors of the article to go along with his assumption that freedom is inherently just, and good, and a natural right, and upon that assumption makes the claim that because they are pretending to think freedom isn't a natural law, they are using sophistry to bypass that "fact". It is not a fact, because he hasn't been proven, Stefan. Just because they don't agree with your view of freedom, doesn't mean they are
in denial of the obvious. If you wish to effectively argue against their attacks on freedom, you should understand why they feel freedom is such a radical, socio-politically irresponsible ideal.

2. He then implies that less personal freedom necessarily results in more freedom for other entities or constructs. This is not true. A healthy society is one in which freedom is restricted for all, and even in complete anarchism, for society to function, all members must
willfully restrict their personal freedom sufficiently to coexist and cooperate with other members peacefully and productively.

3. He attacks their use of the word "ideology" by stated that ideology always has a negative connotation, and ideology implies it is not fact-based. Both are untrue:

a. Definition of ideology:

a system of ideas and ideals, esp. one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.
b. visionary speculation, esp. of an unrealistic or idealistic nature.
c. the science of ideas; the study of their origin and nature.

Notice that:

a. nowhere in those definitions is the claim ideologies are inaccurate or factually incorrect,

b. that one some definitions carry an (arguably) negative connotation [and incidentally, one that Stefan didn't address, from point (1)], and

c. The third definition of ideology explicitly defines ideology as scientific (fact-based).

Additionally, Stefan, since the self-affirmed values of libertarianism are considered ideological by definition, according to the scientifically well-evidenced interpretations of sociology (and society generally) utilized by the authors of this article, the burden of proof is on you to either show that freedom is a natural and necessary part of a healthy, functional society as you claim, or demonstrate that the freedom of libertarianism and the freedom criticized by its detractors, are different.


One last note before moving on: Stefan, stop with the endless examples, they distract from the core points, and more important, they make it seem that you are deliberately using diversionary tactics to avoid actually addressing your detractors.

4. He claims communism was not adopted, but in fact, it was adopted by some, and those that adopted it imposed it upon the rest.

[I am here using "communism" as commonly defined- the original communism actually was adopted by everyone who subscribed to it voluntarily; Marxism was inspired by, though it is largely antithetical to the original (utopian) communism.]

5. He claims that "extremism" is meaningless, when it carries a very strong connotation of uncompromising conviction and belief, coupled with the aggressive drive to impose these convictions and beliefs on others. How is that meaningless?

6. Contrary to what Stefan claims, Individual Liberty, while not necessarily the most important principle for all libertarians, is the only universally held principle of libertarianism. Many libertarians disagree with the non-aggression principle, holding that (among other arguments) a degree of aggression is necessary to uphold liberty.

6b. Additionally, not all libertarians believe in property rights, and some libertarians even find the concept of "property" to be antithetical to libertarianism.

[Another side note: Stefan- making hyperbolic assumptions about the so-claimed framing of words by your detractors, is not a rebuttal. Donald Trump is not in the article, and neither are card games. Unless there is some evidence of such a metaphor in play, you should understand and address the words as they are commonly defined.

7. The use of "radical" libertarian does not refer to all libertarian, as Stefan implies. There are radical proponents of just about anything that attracts zealotry. This isn't framing, this is zeroing in on a particular demographic of the libertarian movement.

8. Fan is derived from "fanatic", and considering we are talking about radicals (see point 7), it's natural for them to be "fans" of whatever they are proponents of, due to the nature of a zealot (extremist).

9. He claims that because divisions of groups/people/etc. are rational, they are not made up. This goes contrary to scientific understanding of perception, which is "the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment."

Perceptions are cognitively developed by individuals, and while they are generally compatible with each other sufficiently to not become a barrier to meaningful interaction, they are not "natural" in the sense of being innate, but developed overtime as part of the development of
consciousness made possible by interactions of the individual with the environment, and the cumulative adaptations to facilitate more efficient and meaningful future interactions.

10. Especially in a socio-economic system such as we see in the world today, where money really can buy power, an economic vacuum (created by the deregulation that libertarians advocate) could theoretically increase the power of the 1% (the economic "royalists"), and this is a legitimate concern, particularly for progressive liberals. Rather than addressing this concern, Stefan simply contradicts it, saying "libertarianism isn't like that".

11. A lot of libertarians endorsed the trickle-down economic policies of Ronald Reagan (Reaganomics), most notably Ron Paul, so again, ignoring a legitimate concern that modern-day

libertarians are trying to repackage a system that does little for the people besides create more inequality. Libertarians already have a track record for promoting such policies, so it's understandable for critics to be wary of a possible "repackaging".

12. Stefan, when they appealed to the need for a moderate amount of liberty, that is something called "diplomacy" or "willingness to compromise". When you frame liberty as "only good", and suggest that your detractors are saying "yes, freedom is a good thing, but too much good is bad". You are creating a straw man, attacking an argument they never made.

They are saying that liberty, like all values, are only good in moderation. We need to regulate our principles to ensure they are beneficial instead of detrimental to us; this is particularly true in society, where the diversity of opinions makes any kind of absolutism, even be it of liberty, morality, or happiness, incompatible with society, and even destructive and destabilizing.

13a. "The argument for moderation is...just nonsense": Yet you refuse to explain what is nonsense about it. Is this a rebuttal, or just a libertarian vanity show?

13b. The axe-murdering/rape analogy is a clear-cut straw man. ANY axe murdering is already extremism, making your "argument" invalid to begin with.

13c. Drawing from point (12), YES, that's what it's about: diplomacy, negotiation. Social democracy is a result of the compromising of different views of what works best for everyone. It's not "a little bit of axe-murdering", it's a synthesis of opposing views. Just because you
don't agree with the synthesis or don't think compromise is a good thing, doesn't change the fact that this is how the present system came about.

14. "Self described or not, what does it matter"? People often describe themselves differently than they actually are, for various reasons, and many people who describe themselves as libertarians, hold values generally considered incompatible with libertarianism. But here's a more vivid example: Rick Santorum was a self-described conservative, yet Ron Paul attacked him for being a "fake conservative". So yes, "self described" draws an important

15. The reason they feel libertarianism is nihilist is likely because the absence of government removes a great deal of existing social structure, and as structure is the means that we generate and preserve meaning, a promotion of "meaninglessness", while definitely a hyperbole, is not an entirely unwarranted concern.

16a. The following points, which note "misunderstandings of how societies work, and utter failure to adapt", underlines the fact that point (15) was indeed their concern, and the reason why they referred to libertarians as "nihilists".

17. When they say "the free market has an utter failure to adapt to changing circumstances", they are referring to laissez faire, which is the system in which the market has little to no regulation. This is generally true; historically, the absence of regulation has led to economic inequality, instability, and even insolvency. A moderate degree of regulation has proven to be the most economically efficient means of maintaining a healthy economy.

18a. How do I understand their point of view without my head exploding? Hmm, maybe because I'm objectively analyzing both points of view to develop reasonably accurate and balanced

18b. It's amazing how people locked inside some ideological bigotry (in your case, Stefan, of regulation and a state-structured economy) can say the most absurd things.

19a. Claiming they are assuming is an argument, specifically, an argument for the lack of evidence supporting (in this case) that humans are wired only to be selfish.

19b. Incidentally, the philosophy upon which this assumption is based (Ayn Rand's Objectivism) has been universally rejected by the scientific community as pseudoscience, and there is an
immense body of work demonstrating biological altruism as naturally occuring, and a natural survival instinct evolved to adapt to a social environment.

20a. Stefan: "The free market...fundamentally relies on cooperation" NO. The free market fundamentally relies on the psycho-social inverse of cooperation, competion.

20b. "small amount of competition" you'd better provide some kind of proof for this bold assertion. I look forward to it, should you respond to it here, because I'm certain you won't respond to it in this video.

20c. Yes, you can argue that people cooperate with others to compete against others. That is coopetition. But this is not cooperative in principle, it is the limited use of cooperation to augment competitive ability.

20d. If you were to make the argument that "the free market is competitive, but has cooperative elements", that is defensible. To argue the inverse, that the free market is cooperative with
some competition, would require some kind of evidence to be credible.

20e. Purchasing products or services from people is neither cooperative or competing with, but exchanging with.

21. Do you really need selfishness to be defined to understand their arguments? Really?

22a. "Cooperation requires voluntaryism". Generally, but not necessarily. A person could choose to cooperate simply because they don't like the alternative, and that is how most governments
coerce the cooperation of its citizens.

22b. Raising your voice doesn't make your arguments more objectively accurate.

22c. You seem to be drawing a distinction between "cooperation" and "coercion", arguing that if a person has the choice to either cooperate or suffer the consequences, it's not cooperation, it's coercion. I think this is a bit simplistic and idealistic distinction (there are consequences to everything, so this distinction feels a bit too much like "credit card companies are coercing me to pay my debts, because if I don't I won't even have the credit to buy a house or have a cell phone contract".

While the distinction is essential to libertarianism, taking for granted that the distinction is obviously important in general, makes for a weak argument against the rejection thereof.

22d. Libertarianism can be considered anti-cooperative because government laws, regulations, and taxes are in place to coerce state cooperation in national issues. In the absence of government structure, there are no clear protocols and standard for cooperation, making it more fragmented and difficult.

23. Democracy, if implemented correctly, is the most efficient known form of socio-political cooperation. This has been demonstrated through extensive historical analysis of government paradigms and their overall impact on the well-being of society and advancement of

24."When there are no rulers, there are no rules". I'm not sure if I should attack this silly assertion, or just leave it alone. Stefan, have you taken a good look at history? Every ruler in existence had rules. The most obvious and universal rule: they (the ruler) are the ruler- that is, their authority to rule cannot be questioned.

Often, the rules didn't apply to the rulers, but that doesn't make the rules any less real. Also, even for rulers that didn't follow their own laws, they could only do so to the extent that public favorability permitted it.

25. Actually, the most stable form of governments recognized are (in this order) the Republic and the Democracy; the current form of government for most modern nations is a hybrid of these two. The longest the most successful anarchist/libertarian society, the "Free Territory"(Makhnovia), lasted 3 years.

26. "The state is the biggest single enactor of rape, theft, assault, and murder".

STOP. Stefan, weren't you just saying several minutes ago, that arguments which anthropomorphize non-living constructs are [fallacious] and sophistic? The state is a construct, it doesn't exist any more than a forest exists without the trees. I agreed with you
on that point, but now that you're directly contradicting that fact to support your arguments...

Argumentum ad absurdum.

Let's just try to ignore your clear lapse of judgement with that comment, and stick with the original idea: The state is a non-living construct. The state does not rape, steal, assault, or murder anyone. People use the state to do that. The state is a nonliving construct, so while it's easy to scapegoat the state for these problems, these problems are a function of people, not the state. One could theoretically say that without the state it would be more difficult to commit these crimes, but even then, that would be a difficult argument to prove, considering there's also religion, society, human instinct, brainwashing, etc. to take its place,

27a. Ireland was not stateless for 1000 years. Their state may have been primitive by today's standards, but not stateless. It was dominated by Gallic tribal confederations:

"The fundamental unit of Gallic politics was the tribe, which itself consisted of one or more of what Caesar called pagi. Each tribe had a council of elders, and initially a king. Later, the executive was an annually-elected magistrate. Among the Aedui, a tribe of Gaul, the
executive held the title of Vergobret, a position much like a king, but his powers were held in check by rules laid down by the council.

The tribal groups, or pagi as the Romans called them (singular: pagus; the French word pays, "region", comes from this term), were organized into larger super-tribal groups the Romans called civitates. These administrative groupings would be taken over by the Romans in their
system of local control, and these civitates would also be the basis of France's eventual division into ecclesiastical bishoprics and dioceses, which would remain in place—with slight changes—until the French Revolution."

28b. Somalia is not stateless, it was a failed state- that is, an unstable state that is constantly in a state of temporary anarchy due to political volatility. Presently Somalia has a state, known as the "Federal Republic of Somalia", though it remains to be seen if this state will be able to maintain its power.

29. "Slavery is a holdover from...tribalism". But just a minute ago, you were claiming in the defense of libertarianism that the Gallic tribes lasted for a thousand years. Well, to be fair they weren't stateless, but these are your arguments we're addressing here, not mine.

30a. Nowhere in the article does it suggest that "you can use violence to solve complex social problems". Another straw man neutralized!

30b. "This is the logic of statism" No, there is nothing about the existence of the state that necessitates violence or any of the other problems you unwittingly have anthropomorphized it

31. They already made the arguments of why removing the Internal Revenue Service would be bad. It's because it interferes with the universal cooperation/coercion regarding the funding of
national needs.

32a. You just admitted that the problems with pollution are being solved by environmental regulations, coerced by the government. That's another argumentum ad absurdum!

32b. Just because existing regulations solve some problems, doesn't mean it solves all of them. To ensure our environment is in optimal health, we need to ensure that the approach we take
addresses the issues as comprehensively as is practical.

33. First you used Somalia as a bright and shining example of how Somalia's so-called stateless society was one of the best in African (even though technically it wasn't stateless, but a
failed state), with comparably better life expectancy, quality of life, health, etc.--

Then you claim Somalia is a horrible example of libertarian stateless policies, that it's like judging atheism based on Nazism.

Which is it? Bordering on another argumentum ad absurdum, and it hasn't even been 30 seconds!

34. Actually, I would claim that you've been arguing against a lot of straw men, many of which I'm passing over to avoid too much repetition in this critique.

35.No, the government laws don't debate with individuals about how to deal with the complexities of poverty, because that's inefficient. They instead debate with each other, and the people who debate these issues are elected by the people through the democratic process. It's a more effective (if far less direct) means of solving the same issues in a manner that the people can agree upon most.

36.There's no gunpoint, Stefan. If you don't like being taxed, you can go to court, and appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Even if you lose, no one's going to shoot you. They might imprison you for failure to cooperate with tax system, but this whole gunpoint hyperbole is getting a bit old.

37.Again with the straw man. No reasonable person is debating whether or not we should rape each other, or how many to rape. Government politicians/officials/etc. debate universal issues
for which there are widespread differences of opinion about.

38. "Why are we introducing communitarianism here?" That's the whole premise of the article, to show how libertarianism is a repacked communism.

39.The first point "you only get to vote for who will boss you around" is a valid, albeit a contentious point". However, the claim that the state's politicians are necessarily "bought and sold by special interests groups". While it is true that most states are driven to some
extent by special interest groups, many states have very little special interest influence, and special interests are not inherently a function of the state. Libertarianism is a special interest group itself, and it advocates statelessness/the lessening of state power.

40. The single largest funding of Barack Obama came from unions, and Wall Street funded both Republican and Democratic candidates equally.

41. "Bought and paid for, you don't get to choose-" While special interests groups influencing elections and government policies are a major issue, to throw out choice entirely is a hyperbole.

42. They weren't saying "sometimes government is good, and sometimes it's not". They were saying some issues are best resolved by government intervention/influence, and some issues are best resolved without state intervention.

43. If you were arguing against the illegality of marijuana, then you would have a good point. But the state isn't what makes marijuana illegal- there are actually a few countries where marijuana is legal, and it's likely that in a few years, given the current state-level support for it, the federal government of the U.S. will be forced to legalize it as well.

44. The paradigm that individualism should be balanced by collectivism is not an endorsement of rape, theft, or murder.

For all of you reading this, this is not a criticism of libertarianism, but of Stefan Molyneux's "arguments", which are probably some of the most pseudo-intellectual defenses of libertarianism I've seen. His half-assed, self-contradictory, fallacy-ridden, hyperbolic arguments are even more sophistry-ridden than those of the detractors he mocks, and are as much of a disgrace to libertarianism as the arguments of Richard Dawkins are to atheism and evolutionary theory.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

"Socialism" and "Communism" has been hijacked by Marxism, and its various implementations

I hope my libertarian friends won't take this as an endorsement of socialism/communism, on the contrary, I am supporting the free-association of liberty-loving free thinkers who, in response to the socio-economic oppression of a corrupt system, a capitalism which had subverted the free market, have opted to voluntarily band together into communities where they could peacefully and freely live with like-minded individuals, immune to the intervention of the state and corporations alike. This was the original communism, that Karl Marx and his supporters perverted into the most oppressive ideology the world has ever seen!


*Does anyone realize that the terms "Socialism" and "Communism" have historically been hijacked by Marxism, and its various implementations?*

It's actually somewhat difficult to find source material that accurately conveys what socialism/communism originally was, and correctly documents and analyzes its evolution into, what is quite frankly antithetical to its original form.

I find it extremely disturbing that people can find Marxism and communism as synonymous, considering that prior to Marx, and to this day (where the same principles of the original communism that were practiced, are still practiced, apparently without recognition of their roots).

I'm going to have to do some extensive editing of Wikipedia to correct this lack of information, and resulting misinformation, but for now, I'll leave you all with an account from Karl Marx, chapter 3 of the so-called "Communist Manifesto", where he explains in detail what _*real_* communism/socialism was. It's ironic that the original version of communism/socialism isn't given recognition, as these communes, and the ideals that they were built on, provided Marx with the inspiration to create his own ideology in the first place!

*3. Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism*

We do not here refer to that literature which, in every great modern revolution, has always given voice to the demands of the proletariat, such as the writings of Babeuf and others.

The first direct attempts of the proletariat to attain its own ends, made in times of universal excitement, when feudal society was being overthrown, necessarily failed, owing to the then undeveloped state of the proletariat, as well as to the absence of the economic conditions for its emancipation, conditions that had yet to be produced, and could be produced by the impending bourgeois epoch alone. The revolutionary literature that accompanied these first movements of the proletariat had necessarily a reactionary character. It inculcated universal asceticism and social levelling in its crudest form.

The Socialist and Communist systems, properly so called, those of Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen, and others, spring into existence in the early undeveloped period, described above, of the struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie (see Section 1. Bourgeois and Proletarians).

The founders of these systems see, indeed, the class antagonisms, as well as the action of the decomposing elements in the prevailing form of society. But the proletariat, as yet in its infancy, offers to them the spectacle of a class without any historical initiative or any independent political movement.

Since the development of class antagonism keeps even pace with the development of industry, the economic situation, as they find it, does not as yet offer to them the material conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat. They therefore search after a new social science, after new social laws, that are to create these conditions.

Historical action is to yield to their personal inventive action; historically created conditions of emancipation to fantastic ones; and the gradual, spontaneous class organisation of the proletariat to an organisation of society especially contrived by these inventors. Future history resolves itself, in their eyes, into the propaganda and the practical carrying out of their social plans.

In the formation of their plans, they are conscious of caring chiefly for the interests of the working class, as being the most suffering class. Only from the point of view of being the most suffering class does the proletariat exist for them.

The undeveloped state of the class struggle, as well as their own surroundings, causes Socialists of this kind to consider themselves far superior to all class antagonisms. They want to improve the condition of every member of society, even that of the most favoured. Hence, they habitually appeal to society at large, without the distinction of class; nay, by preference, to the ruling class. For how can people, when once they understand their system, fail to see in it the best possible plan of the best possible state of society?

Hence, they reject all political, and especially all revolutionary action; they wish to attain their ends by peaceful means, necessarily doomed to failure, and by the force of example, to pave the way for the new social Gospel.

Such fantastic pictures of future society, painted at a time when the proletariat is still in a very undeveloped state and has but a fantastic conception of its own position, correspond with the first instinctive yearnings of that class for a general reconstruction of society.

But these Socialist and Communist publications contain also a critical element. They attack every principle of existing society. Hence, they are full of the most valuable materials for the enlightenment of the working class. The practical measures proposed in them — such as the abolition of the distinction between town and country, of the family, of the carrying on of industries for the account of private individuals, and of the wage system, the proclamation of social harmony, the conversion of the function of the state into a more superintendence of production — all these proposals point solely to the disappearance of class antagonisms which were, at that time, only just cropping up, and which, in these publications, are recognised in their earliest indistinct and undefined forms only. These proposals, therefore, are of a purely Utopian character.

The significance of Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism bears an inverse relation to historical development. In proportion as the modern class struggle develops and takes definite shape, this fantastic standing apart from the contest, these fantastic attacks on it, lose all practical value and all theoretical justification. Therefore, although the originators of these systems were, in many respects, revolutionary, their disciples have, in every case, formed mere reactionary sects. They hold fast by the original views of their masters, in opposition to the progressive historical development of the proletariat. They, therefore, endeavour, and that consistently, to deaden the class struggle and to reconcile the class antagonisms. They still dream of experimental realisation of their social Utopias, of founding isolated “phalansteres”, of establishing “Home Colonies”, or setting up a “Little Icaria”(4) — duodecimo editions of the New Jerusalem — and to realise all these castles in the air, they are compelled to appeal to the feelings and purses of the bourgeois. By degrees, they sink into the category of the reactionary [or] conservative Socialists depicted above, differing from these only by more systematic pedantry, and by their fanatical and superstitious belief in the miraculous effects of their social science.

They, therefore, violently oppose all political action on the part of the working class; such action, according to them, can only result from blind unbelief in the new Gospel.

The Owenites in England, and the Fourierists in France, respectively, oppose the Chartists and the Réformistes.

Collectivism As a Paradigm Driven By Free Association

Since a collective is made up of a group of persons or individuals, it implies that collectives are voluntary. If a collective isn't voluntary, furthermore, it can't be considered a collective by the very nature of a collective, which requires all members of the collective to be like-minded (part of the cohesive element of collectivism, which you should be familiar with from a more in-depth, academic understanding of collectivism theory.

Collectivism is, incidentally, a crucial element of the free market; here's a piece on the collectivist nature of the free market, from a libertarian point-of-view:

There are a wealth of works by individualists who claim that collectivism is forced or coerced, but interestingly enough, no collectivism advocates so much as hint at the possibility that collectivism is imposed upon people; additionally, many moderates, and even some individualists (such as in the paper above) recognize that coercion is, at the very least, not necessarily part of collectivism.

One could argue that a collective can be forced, but the vast majority of historical collectives were not forced, and those that were forced or coerced, have always proven historically to be dysfunctional. Coercion is a dysfunctionality of any society, individualistic or collectivistic.

The Soviet Union was dysfunctional and wasteful, had communication and social integration problems, and ultimately fell due to the societal entropy caused by the lack of collective cohesion, due to its coercive nature. Forced collectives never succeed, because they're not healthy or stable.

On the other hand, free association collectives, such as the democratic process, unionization, political parties, the stock market, the free market generally, the U.S. constitution, free software development, user-generated content (such as YouTube, Wikipedia, and social networks like Facebook), etc.-- these are all crystal clear examples of historical collectives that continue to survive and thrive, precisely because they maintain the supporting element of free association, for any collective to remain healthy and stable.

So, perhaps to prevent any further misunderstanding, I will clarify: All healthy and functional collectives are necessarily decentralized and free associating. A collective is unstable, dysfunctional, and corrupt in proportion to its lack of adherence to these two principles, especially the principle of free association.