Outsourcing the Empire

Neverfox channels me in order to combat Danny Shahar on metaethics.

Anarcho-communist db0 replies to some comments from me and Kevin Carson.

I should comment on these. But not now.

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25 Responses to Outsourcing the Empire

  1. Anon73 May 17, 2009 at 11:37 pm #

    I’m not sure I understand what db0 is saying there. He says friends don’t charge each other rent for lending stuff, ergo anarcho-communism is not on the same scale as Lockianism?

    • william May 18, 2009 at 1:29 am #

      > friends don’t charge each other rent for lending stuff

      > all social relations should imitate the relations of friends

      > ergo, rent is bad

      One might be inclined to take issue with the second statement, but I think it’s a distraction; what we really need to attack is the first. (Because friends CAN charge each other rent albeit, like most other friendly relations, informally.)

      It doesn’t matter if we live in a world of angels with perfect intentions, Math is Math. If those angels want to maximize pareto while coping with material scarcities they’ll damn well have to use markets.

      • Richard Garner May 18, 2009 at 11:44 am #

        Of course, rent is a price, and prices co-ordinate supply to meet demand. I can generally predict when my friends want to borrow something, but when it is strangers thousands of miles away, how am I supposed to know when more needs to be lent, or less?

  2. Anon73 May 18, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    The reluctance to charge friends rent is real, though, I’ve experienced it myself. Somehow that makes me think I wouldn’t fit in very well in Galt’s Gulch…..

    • Richard Garner May 18, 2009 at 11:46 am #

      I can’t see why not charging people who borrow stuff equates to communism. I can lend something to somebody right now, not charge them rent, that won’t alter the fact that I a) could have charged them rent if I wanted, or b) still own what has been rented.

      • Mike D. May 18, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

        Even more bizarrely, db0 appears to be asserting that it is the act of charging rent that causes the change in ownership of the rented item. So, if I am reading him correctly,

        1. A lends his car to B. The car still belongs to A, and B must return it.

        2. A rents his car to B. A is no longer making use of the car, and therefore has no claim on its ownership (or “possession,” or whatever). B is the car’s rightful owner.

        • Anon73 May 18, 2009 at 4:28 pm #

          Yes I believe he is asserting exactly that. He said elsewhere that using something enough basically gives you ownership of it, so if I use your car for a day it’s still yours but if I use it for a year and pay you some cash then it becomes mine. It’s sort of like an involuntary purchase, I come and take your stuff and it belongs to me if I A) leave you some cash and B) use it for a long time.

          Anyway I still don’t think he’s established his claim that occupancy and use is not commensurate with Lockianism (Lockeanism?).

  3. Hamza May 18, 2009 at 3:40 pm #

    What about the “grey area?” One cannot charge across the board, but limits/boundaries should be set.

  4. MBH May 18, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    Roderick, what I don’t understand is your bottom line. Sometimes it seems like it’s equality in authority; sometimes it’s statelessness. Maybe you think that equality in authority necessarily presupposes statelessness. But you’ve said that equality in authority is a moral fact. So if that’s the case, then shouldn’t the bottom line be something like–or as close as possible to–a popular recognition of that moral fact? Maybe you think that recognition would necessarily manifest as statelessness. But you would still, I think, have to admit that the recognition is logically prior to statelessness (at least) or that statelessness is a by-product of the recognition of that fact (at most). If that’s the case, then the focus ought to be the popular recognition of that moral fact. Maybe it would take alternative institutions to package the idea, but what if conventional institutions were to adopt the idea? At that point, I find it awkward to say, “well, forget the conventional institution.” Especially if equality in authority could spread much more efficiently and effectively through conventional institutions–even if, god forbid, that includes the state.

    I don’t know that I agree with db0’s bottom line either. It seems to be founded on a belief that once the system changes, then it’s likely that everyone will recognize the moral fact of equality in authority. While I agree that it would generate a shift in popular perspective, it would unlikely be universal.

    So, until I see more compelling arguments, I still find it most sensible to work within the existing framework–as fucked up as it is. I would like to take your ideas and db0’s: stir them together. Then pour them, as a sauce, on top of Saul Alinsky’s ideas. I’ll eat that all day.

    I would love to know if I’ve gone wrong in assessing your bottom line and how you feel about my recipe. Will you taste it?

    • Roderick May 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

      Can you tell me what you mean by “bottom line”? Are you talking about a principle? a goal? a strategy? a reason?

      As for building alternative institutions vs. working within conventional ones, what do you think of Charles’ argument in the above video?

      • MBH May 18, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

        A goal.

        Where is the video?

        • Roderick May 18, 2009 at 6:07 pm #

          A goal.

          In that case, statelessness is one of my goals; recognition of equality of authority is another one. They’re importantly related, but distinct. I have other goals too, variously related to those two. Should I have just one?

          Where is the video?

          Oops, I was getting my posts mixed up. It’s here.

        • MBH May 18, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

          Should I have just one [goal]?

          I don’t know. I guess that’s fair. I’ve always assumed that we ought to have one ultimate end: evolution, equality, excellence, peace, whatever. And whichever we reason to be the ultimate end, then the other options are naturally means towards that end. I guess it’s not crazy to hold more than one. But it might be senseless to have more than one ultimate goal.

          It’s here.

          This Charles character is quite good. Yet, what I hear him saying is that statelessness is a means to equality in authority. Statelessness, he seems to suggest, is not some far off goal, but something that we can experience to greater or lesser degrees right now. And I think that bit torrent is an awesome example.

          However, counter-economics is equality in authority for those who participate in counter-economics. Call me Dagny, but I can’t help but feel that covert statelessness creates a different kind of inequality–between those who participate in counter-economics and those who don’t.

        • Roderick May 18, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

          Well, I agree that we should have (and do have) just one ultimate end, namely eudaimonia; but that end has many different constitutive means, i.e., means that are part of the end. See here.

          Incidentally, it would be weird to have either statelessness or equality as one’s single ultimate end. Once we achieved it, what would we do?

          Re counter-economics — well, agorists try to get everyone to practice counter-economics. They’re just not waiting for everyone else to do it before they start themselves. If that’s a violation of equality, what wouldn’t be? Should advocates of equality refrain from promoting equality until everybody else is promoting equality? That could be a tad awkward.

        • Roderick May 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

          Re Charles — you and he may have overlapped at Auburn. What was your last year here?

        • MBH May 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

          Re eudaimonia–agreed.

          Re counter economics–fair enough.

          Re my last year at Auburn–spring 2005. My last semester was the same as Zack’s. I finish undergraduate degree online in July. I look forward to reading the paper you linked. For now, I have to finish finance homework. Ugh.

        • MBH May 20, 2009 at 2:25 am #

          Re Happiness in Austro-Athenian Perspective — I can’t help but think of this in terms of satyagraha and swaraj. Gandhi thought of satyagraha as a means to the end of swaraj, but in some sense, wherever satyagraha is present, so is a touch of swaraj.

          In that way, the striving itself–done skillfully, consistently, morally, and towards something objectively valuable–is something like an end in itself.

  5. Anon73 May 18, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    The main problem with counter-economics is it’s mostly dominated by states-in-training like cartels and mafias, and to some extent that makes sense because the state constantly wages violent, aggressive war on anything it perceives as a threat to its authority. The bittorrent thing only works because the state has chosen not to just take over the internet, preferring the economic advantages it currently brings in. However, no amount of economic advantages would ever persuade the state to ignore a direct threat to itself. So I’m not sure the bittorrent thing is a good model for getting started.

    • Roderick May 19, 2009 at 2:40 am #

      The high-profit parts of the counter-economy tend to be dominated by mafias, but most of the counter-economy goes on peacefully and invisibly.

  6. John Higgins May 18, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

    Anon73 – have you read Alongside Night?

    The idea isn’t to get the state to ignore the counter-economy. In fact, the ultimate goal is the direct conflict of the counter-economy and the state. The idea is to build, in advance, the institutions that will allow us to thrive without a government, and be prepared for the inevitable collapse of the state.

  7. Anon73 May 18, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    I haven’t but I should – it looks like a great book. I see what you’re saying, I just question the practicality of it – look at what happened to e-gold for example. The state violently attacks anything that it perceives as a threat, and barring some utopian technology like forcefields and such it’s just hard for me to see the practical hope in agorism.

  8. Neverfox May 19, 2009 at 12:20 am #

    Thanks for the plug. Channeling you is the right way to describe the post. I’ve been listening to your lectures so much to get certain points sorted out that I’ve nearly got them memorized. I should mention that I listened to them in double-speed and so I will forever struggle not to think of you as sounding like Alvin the Chipmunk (or maybe Simon is better).

    Have you spent any time with the work of Max Scheler? I keep reading about his concepts of a priori values, value ranking (sounds vaguely Austrian), similar diagnosis of Kant’s “sternness”. Chap. 5 of his Formalism in Ethics discusses “Eudaemonism”. Could there be some synergy there? I don’t know enough to say myself.

    • martin May 19, 2009 at 1:08 am #

      I should mention that I listened to them in double-speed and so I will forever struggle not to think of you as sounding like Alvin the Chipmunk (or maybe Simon is better).

      Maybe you should check out Amazing Slowdowner:

      It can change the speed of mp3’s without changing pitch. (Upward as well as downward.)

      • Neverfox May 19, 2009 at 1:47 am #

        Thanks, martin.

        Re: Scheler, I came across this paper at LvMI comparing Mises and Scheler. Seems the latter was into anti-psychologism.


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