A River Runs Through it

The Egyptian government’s ability to cut its subjects off from the internet is the bad news. But the good news is that modern economies are so intertwined with the internet that states can’t afford to suppress it for long without wrecking their own source of revenue. More here. And here.

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22 Responses to A River Runs Through it

  1. Brandon February 2, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Chromium 11.0.652.0 Ubuntu 10.10

    Just a note about the Egyptian protests. Today one of the DemocracyNow correspondents submitted a piece in which he talked about how security, garbage cleanup, food distribution etc. is being handled by the huge crowds spontaneously, independent of the Mubarak government.

    Here’s the video, and the reports start around 20:40, although you really should watch the whole thing.

  2. Anon73 February 2, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Firefox 3.6.13 Windows XP

    Yeah the whole people-withdrawing-consent and voluntary-action-providing-services seemed like something RLong or C4SS would be all over, but so far nary a peep has been heard. :(

    • Black Bloke February 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

      Safari MacIntosh

      Still, not as much as I would’ve expected. But perhaps I expect too much.

      • MBH February 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

        Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

        That’s what happens when you focus exclusively on anarchy. The truth is that Open Source movements are what actually work. That’s what’s happening in Egypt. But it works precisely because it’s not anarchy; it’s a non-electoral strategy that places a government of consent in control.

        For instance, ask yourself why Proudhon considered himself a federalist after revolution. If Proudhon is any authority — and I’m assuming he is — then Open Source would be the contemporary counterpart to his ideology. Unfortunately, some around these parts have been too caught up in the word ‘anarchy’ to notice what’s actually working today!

        • Black Bloke February 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

          Safari MacIntosh

          So you’re saying that the reason that there hasn’t been a lot of talk by the likes of prof. Long and C4SS, about the self-organization seen on the ground, is because prof. Long and C4SS are focused on anarchy?

          That sounds like an absurd leap. I think it would simply make more sense to say that they haven’t had the time or the resources to cover things in the detail that they or I’d like.

          Being a combination of thick/left/agorist/libertarian anarchists a focus on spontaneous non-state provisions of public goods is a natural addition to any news about the absence of rulers. There wouldn’t be any separation expected.

          But it seems (from your numerous links to open source) that you’ve found what you expected to see. But you’re on your own if you think that this stuff isn’t pretty much what would be expected from the freeing of people from the grip of statism. Someone interesting, perhaps an authority, once said, “Competition is the absence of oppression.” Well, here it is.

        • MBH February 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

          Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

          But you’re on your own if you think that this stuff isn’t pretty much what would be expected from the freeing of people from the grip of statism.

          The problem is that 100% anarchists are not just focused on statelessness, but instead statelessness and governmentlessness. How often do we talk about stateless government? Do you want to say that the thick/left/agorist/libertarian anarchists don’t conflate statism with the presence of governments? If I’m not mistaken, they say that the simultaneous presence of statelessness and governments is an idiosyncratic conception. How else am I supposed to interpret ‘idiosyncratic’?

          Sheldon mentions that not all left-libertarians are anarchists, and I appreciate that. But come on. Don’t act like you guys treat anti-state pro-government left-libertarians as anything other than idiosyncratic. At least Charles says it explicitly. When is it not implicit? Seriously. When?

        • Black Bloke February 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

          Safari MacIntosh

          I think that’s because that view is totally idiosyncratic.

          I’m not sure what you mean by the words “state” and/or “government”. What in the world would a “stateless government” be? Is it something like a DRO? If it’s not that, then it seems you might be using it in a totally idiosyncratic way.

          Not all left-libertarians are anarchists, and not all anarchists are left-libertarians, but there is an overlap that represents a significant and growing number of people.

          Don’t act like you guys treat anti-state pro-government left-libertarians as anything other than idiosyncratic.

          This would make a very funny status update :-)

        • MBH February 4, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

          Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

          I think that’s because that view is totally idiosyncratic.

          Ugh. Well, at least you agree that you treat it so.

          Is it something like a DRO?

          Drag Racing Organization is the only acronym I can find. It’s not that.

          What in the world would a “stateless government” be?

          Watch Egypt. If the protesters are satisfied by, say, Mohamed ElBaradei-as-president, then they’ll have a stateless government. I think that the reason that anarchists aren’t jumping up and down about what’s happening in Egypt is that they know it represents something they can’t account for: statelessness and government.

          Call it idiosyncratic all you like. But call it idiosyncratic while you watch the hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for the removal of a dictator. I’d call that idiosyncratic.

        • MBH February 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

          Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

          I think my last status update is almost as good as the one you’ve suggested:

          21st Century Revolutions: Legs Not Required

        • Black Bloke February 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

          Safari MacIntosh

          DRO stands for Dispute Resolution Organization. And I think you’d get further if you defined just what you mean by “state” and “government” and by extension “stateless government”.

          I hold to the standard Rothbardian definitions of “state” and usually hold “government” to be a synonym. If there’s a different meaning for the word “government” I use a Nockian sense of the term. But in a Nockian sense the closest I can get to a “stateless government” is something like a DRO.

          And Egypt is certainly not looking like a DRO, especially if they simply form another state under El Baradei. It’ll be the same monopolist with a new administration.

        • MBH February 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

          Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

          And Egypt is certainly not looking like a DRO, especially if they simply form another state under El Baradei. It’ll be the same monopolist with a new administration.

          Let me dig in here. To say that an ElBaradei administration would be the same monopolist state as before is just incorrect. First, a state is something that you cannot consent to; without these protests, the Egyptian state would remain for who knows how many more years — manifest in the dictatorship of Mubarak’s son. If the people get what they want, then they implicitly consent to the government — meaning that it will not be the manifestation of a state. Second, Mubarak doesn’t allow free trade. ElBaradei will allow free trade. So that right there takes a huge chunk out of the existing monopolies.

          Obviously you’ll argue that ElBaradei will still monopolize legal services. That’s true, but the people will have already consented to the government. Thus, even monopolized legal services can exist in a stateless society.

          To me, “state” is a cancer that cannot be touched by man, only manifest into certain institutions and ways of life. It is an evil. And when governments are manifestations of “state” — which they often, but by no means exclusively, are — then the government is also evil. But it’s by no means necessary that the government be a manifestation of “state.” It won’t be in Egypt should ElBaradei become president and the protesters be pleased by that.

          If you’re unwilling to call this a stateless government, then you’ll understand why I think that you’re being intellectually dishonest. If you stick with the Rothbardian inability to distinguish, say, the current Iranian government qua government from a potential ElBaradei government qua government, then I’ll just deduce that you’re super-glued to an outdated mode of thinking.

        • MBH February 4, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

          Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

          I should add that if the new government finds 99% consent and allows the other 1% the opportunity to form their own legal services — even though this would be less likely — one would be hard pressed to say that the ruling body of the 99% is not a government. Especially since the Egyptians would consider it their government.

        • martin February 5, 2011 at 10:18 am #

          Opera 11.01 Windows Vista

          MBH,

          Drag Racing Organization is the only acronym I can find.

          Maybe you should try open source

        • MBH February 5, 2011 at 10:28 am #

          Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

          Statist.

        • Black Bloke February 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

          Safari MacIntosh

          First, a state is something that you cannot consent to…

          Okay, but that certainly isn’t the only feature of a state. It’s not even a primary feature. Can you give me a brief definition of what you mean by “state” and “government”?

          If the people get what they want, then they implicitly consent to the government — meaning that it will not be the manifestation of a state.

          Implicit consent? And unanimous at that? And just what is it that they consent to, and for how long? Are they consenting to be aggressed against when this government demands support in the form of taxation and lives? I’m assuming that you’re familiar with the Rothbardian definition of a state, just how is this government not a state according to that definition? Even if consented to?

          Obviously you’ll argue that ElBaradei will still monopolize legal services. That’s true…

          Then end of story.

          Thus, even monopolized legal services can exist in a stateless society.

          Perhaps, but what definition of “monopoly” are you using? In the Austrian sense it’s not just the fact that there is only one provider of a good or service, it’s that there are barriers to entry into competition with the one provider.

          To me, “state” is a cancer that cannot be touched by man, only manifest into certain institutions and ways of life. It is an evil.

          Well, this is closer to a definition, but it’s not quite there yet. And in what way is this usage of “state” and/or “government” not idiosyncratic?

          Perhaps my terms have gone out of fashion in the past 16 years (and one month), but I doubt that they have.

        • MBH February 5, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

          Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

          I’m assuming that you’re familiar with the Rothbardian definition of a state, just how is this government not a state according to that definition?

          Say that 99% of Egyptians agree to be governed by the ElBaradei regime. If, hypothetically, ElBaradei turns to the other 1% and says, “you’re free to select the government you’d like to be ruled by,” then we’re into fuzzy territory. The 1% wouldn’t be creating legal services, but selecting them from already existing governments.

          100% anarchists will want to say that we’re no longer talking about governments. I don’t think that makes much sense. If a portion of the 1% say that they would like to be ruled by Turkey’s government — which is still monopolizing its legal service in Turkey — you’d be hard-pressed to say “the Turkish government is no longer a government.” And yet, the portion in Egypt that choose it, do so by consent, and do so without a state on their back.

          I understand the tendency to say that once you’ve got competition in governments, you’ve got anarchy. But the Egyptian who chooses Turkey’s government is not in anarchy, but she’s not ruled by a state either.

          And in what way is this usage of “state” and/or “government” not idiosyncratic?

          Insofar as your use doesn’t account for the situation I just mentioned, my use can’t be said to be idiosyncratic. Insofar as you’re going to make a semantic move to re-define Turkey’s government into a DRO — when they’re still functioning as a monopoly in Turkey — then you’re starting to look more idiosyncratic than me.

        • Black Bloke February 5, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

          Safari MacIntosh

          Again, no clear definition for “state” or “government”.

          The 1% wouldn’t be creating legal services, but selecting them from already existing governments.

          I don’t see why that’d have to be the case. If ElBaradei deigns to “allow” people to be free to do as they wish they may very well make their own form of defense provisions/DRO. If they’re choosing the protection of some other state then they’re under another state (well, at least those who vote are, and that adds another layer of complexity).

          It’s a highly unusual situation where one state allows another state to provide a service in a territory, but it does happen.

          …you’d be hard-pressed to say “the Turkish government is no longer a government.”

          Well, I wouldn’t say that it was no longer a state/government. Nothing has changed about the Turkish government’s situation. Turkey is still a state, even if people it rules don’t live in Turkey. Even if people choose the services of a state, the nature of the state of Turkey has not changed.

          …my use can’t be said to be idiosyncratic.

          Idiosyncratic use means that you’re using it in a way that no one else does. Who else is using the words like you are?

        • MBH February 5, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

          Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

          Again, no clear definition for “state” or “government”.

          I think Will Wilkinson hits it indirectly when describing the benefits of WikiLeaks,

          To get at the value of WikiLeaks, I think it’s important to distinguish between the government—the temporary, elected authors of national policy—and the state—the permanent bureaucratic and military apparatus superficially but not fully controlled by the reigning government. The careerists scattered about the world in America’s intelligence agencies, military, and consular offices largely operate behind a veil of secrecy executing policy which is itself largely secret. American citizens mostly have no idea what they are doing, or whether what they are doing is working out well. The actually-existing structure and strategy of the American empire remains a near-total mystery to those who foot the bill and whose children fight its wars. And that is the way the elite of America’s unelected permanent state, perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth, like it.

          Does that go far enough?

          Idiosyncratic use means that you’re using it in a way that no one else does. Who else is using the words like you are?

          Are you telling me I’m using ‘idiosyncratic’ idiosyncratically?!? :)

        • Brandon February 6, 2011 at 12:07 am #

          Chromium 11.0.658.0 Ubuntu 10.10

          Can you offer a link or some kind of reference to that “Will Wilkinson” quote, please? Not that I don’t trust you…

        • MBH February 6, 2011 at 12:29 am #

          Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

          It was from The Economist — three months or so ago.

  3. MBH February 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

    Egyptian Dictatorship vs. Google.

  4. MBH February 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Chromium 9.0.597.84 Linux

    Implicit consent from the Jewish community: Rip, rip through Egypt, rip through it. :)

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