Libertarian insight

In case there’s anyone out there who hasn’t yet seen this quote from Andrew Zalotocky (at Samizdata, or Instapundit):

If you want to introduce someone to libertarian thinking, encourage them to try this experiment. Spend a few days reading nothing but technology news. Then spend a few days reading nothing but political news. For the first few days they’ll see an exciting world of innovation and creativity where everything is getting better all the time. In the second period they’ll see a miserable world of cynicism and treachery where everything is falling apart. Then ask them to explain the difference.

An introduction to libertarian thinking? Discuss.

ADDED: And it’s not only libertarians who are sounding like neoreactionaries — here‘s Jonah Goldberg on the (utterly fascinating) ‘Ferguson Affair’:

What I find interesting about the Ferguson controversy is how disconnected it is from the past. Even academics I respect reacted to Ferguson’s comments as if they bordered on unimaginable, unheard-of madness. I understand that we live in a moment where any negative comment connected to homosexuality is not only wrong but “gay bashing.” But Ferguson was trafficking in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago. Now, because of a combination of indifference to intellectual history and politically correct piety he must don the dunce cap. Good to know.

Goldberg’s whole post is excellent, but he misses one very significant case of Cathedralist persecution attending this argument (that homosexuality can be expected to shorten time horizons): Hoppe.

WRM goes full Cathedral on the issue. (Because he’s smart, and intermittently honest, I sometimes forget he’s the enemy.)

May 5, 2013admin 32 Comments »
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32 Responses to this entry

  • James Goulding Says:

    One difference is that the “economics” of political power and coercion is more complicated than catallaxy, hence it is less well-understood and more difficult to perfect. Secondly, individual incentives in the game theory of power are often zero- or negative-sum, unlike in catallaxy. Thirdly, and deducible from #1 and #2, it is hard for the technological ratchet to reverse and this is rarely in anyone’s interest, whereas benign polities can easily decay and this often serves elite interests.

    Fourthly, the type of political news that interests people is negative, and the type of technology news that interests them is positive. I rarely if ever see news stories celebrating, apropos nothing, the fact that we live under a highly evolved system of law rather than tyranny. Items about technological stagnation do appear, but not especially often, despite the fact that some economists and entrepreneurs (e.g. Cowen and Thiel) think that this is a serious problem.

    Although I am sympathetic to that region of idea-space, none of these differences seem like persuasive evidence in favour of libertarianism.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Among the many discussion points in this comment, one especially protruded for me: “we live under a highly evolved system of law.” I think this is absolutely true, in a Burkean and Hayekian way, but it is also entirely consistent with the observation that law is radically and rapidly decaying. The loss of common law assumptions (supplanted by the Statist principle of legislation), the conjuring up of essentially socialist ‘positive rights’, the hysterical expansion of legislative bureaucracy in every dimension of quantitative inflation, the truly abhorrent notion of ‘disparate impact’ as a phenomenon of legal relevance … the modern history of law makes the entire neoreactionary case on its own.

    You’re right to begin with a reference to Catallaxy. It’s the axial topic here, and requires a dedicated discussion (or several).

    [Reply]

    James Goulding Reply:

    The law seems to be gradually decaying, and perhaps that is due to loss of the Exit-abundant conditions in which memetic selection caused good common law to proliferate. Facilitation of ex ante legal competition, jurisdictional diversity and Exit—and not highly specific, rationally constructed designs like Neocameralism—may be the long-term, game-changing innovation that reactionaries (and the like) should push for, since this would cause production of law more closely to resemble catallaxy and thereby reverse its decay.

    Or as David Friedman puts it, government doesn’t make cars so why should it make law? His idealistic solution probably wouldn’t work, but the idea points in a useful direction.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Yes.

    James Goulding Reply:

    Two amongst many problems, then, are how to make (controlled) alignment of law-creation with quasi-catallactic processes a way for young, intelligent people to gain status, and something that we can reason about confidently.

    The requisite political science is unlikely to be produced by Cathedral professors and state-funded research. A Kickstarter clone might do the trick, down the line.

    Status and power-wise, a positive feature of such a polity is that it distributes political authority federally, rather than bureaucratically and across a nebulous sea of NGOs and information organs. Moldbug says,

    Young supporters continue to be attracted to progressivism, because progressivism offers them impact, ie, power. Very small slices of impact. Very, very small. Ie: bogus internships at second-tier polar-bear foundations. But – still. The magnitude is very small, but the probability is 1 by definition. The Structure rules, and apparently will always continue to rule.

    Obviously, after becoming the Establishment itself, our old revolutionaries have very little free power to offer. Everything they could get their fangs on, they have sucked and discarded. The remaining prey is very small, very elusive, and very indigestible. The progressive movement is rapidly experiencing a crisis of power starvation – its supporters, who feed on victory, demand action. But there are precious few victories left to win.

    A reboot strategy, such as the Reaction, offers a slice of impact in a more probabilistic way. Although it has a low probability of victory, the magnitude of victory – a whole new regime to construct – is so large that their perceived product is not insignificant. At least, it should be comparable to the starvation rations of the progressive. Let alone to those of conservatism, in which the probability of victory is significant but the magnitude of the victory is negligible.

    The other possibility is that the democratic will to power is not inherently poisonous, but needs to be channeled through an appropriate structure. The structure doesn’t exist because our political science isn’t good enough, and hasn’t even attempted to address this problem. The objective is to bootstrap a system in which young supporters can gain status and shreds of political authority by executing or making p2p law, and otherwise contributing to the stability and vitality of the constitution.

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    Nick,

    Do you know of any books/resources that cover the recent d-evolution of the history of law (ideally from a Nietzschean angle)?

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2013 at 1:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    What’s that? The difference between having kids and not is “the closest to being from different universes”? Ferguson’s apology is an odd combination of cryptic(ish) half-apology (“it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations”) and snivelling climb down. Having a reputation can be an awful burden…

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    This ‘apology’ BS is vile beyond description.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2013 at 2:43 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Allow me to post a comment at my blog.

    *************************************

    Saddam Hussein’s Whirling Aluminium Tubes May 4, 2013 at 17:51 (Edit)
    It’s both the capitalists and the Cathedral. The capitalists no longer have a sense of noblesse oblige, so they can do some amazingly destructive stuff in the pursuit of short term profit.

    Did you ever read the story of Postville, Iowa?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/magazine/postville-iowa-is-up-for-grabs.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

    Orthodox Jews buy meat packing plant in tiny town. The native whites won’t work there as the wages and conditions are too bad. Russians and Ukrainians are brought in, but they quickly move on for the same reasons. Illegal Mexicans and Guatemalans are brought in, but eventually the factory is raided by immigration and the Mexicans and Guatemalans leave. Native Americans (Amerindians) and students from Kyrgyzstan are recruited but they quickly quit due to the low wages and bad conditions.

    Micronesians from Palau are flown in from 8,000 miles away, arriving in shorts and flip flops. Somalian refugees and homeless people from Texas are brought in. Eventually the owner of the plant goes to prison for bank fraud and the Paluans end up on the street with no money, no way to get home and no where to stay.

    The story closes with the plant open under new management, a town full of Somalian refugees and the locals wishing that the illegal Mexicans and Guatemalans were still around.

    You wouldn’t think that it would make sense for capitalists to fly in Micronesians from Palau in order to avoid paying a decent wage and maintaining a safe clean working environment. But it happened

    ******************************
    Capitalism isn’t only technology news.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    OK, I get it (really!). If I didn’t get it, I’d be a pure Techno-Commercial triumphalist (or untroubled libertarian), and not at all a Trichotomy systematizer. When I said that each extreme of the triangle has the best case against the other two, I meant it. The argument that capitalism destroys populations by importing cheap labor is a serious one. I promise not to ignore it.

    “Capitalism isn’t only technology news.” — and this fiasco isn’t only capitalism.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    I tried to play techno-commercialist at my blog this week and got a nice 100+ comment beating. You should check it out.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I’m still recovering from three days of Anshun Internet connectivity. What’s worse, there’s an Wulumuqi ‘jaunt’ coming up to throw things back into chaos next week. But I still think I managed to infiltrate your TC comments thread, didn’t I?

    By “100+” you mean (at least) “156” — which is simply terrifying

    Posted on May 5th, 2013 at 2:46 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    Trichotomy systematizer

    So (to be clear) this is the project? Because at the moment, having been on another wonderful adventure over the last day or so (apologies – can I say that? – for more untidy splurges), I can understand that it all connects if you’re able to follow all of the threads for long enough, but we (or I) don’t have enough energy to do so. And I get the solution to that – more power/intelligence. Are you sure there’s no eschaton? Seems to me something pretty amazing happens when it all connects (I just don’t fully know what!) even if humans are at that time in history already.. history?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “… this is the project?” — or a sub-project of something that remains occulted (i.e. that provides us with cryptic material to think about).
    Eschatology is too thoroughly baked into world history to conveniently disappear.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2013 at 3:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    “If you want to introduce someone to libertarian thinking, encourage them to try this experiment. Spend a few days reading nothing but technology news. Then spend a few days reading nothing but political news. For the first few days they’ll see an exciting world of innovation and creativity where everything is getting better all the time. In the second period they’ll see a miserable world of cynicism and treachery where everything is falling apart. Then ask them to explain the difference.”

    “technology news” – spiel, hype: the shopping catalogue of Earth Inc.: very good if you have the kapital to access the products: you don’t? well get with the programme, then!

    “political news” – war, on every level: the space where you are supposed to identify with an ‘interest’, and engage in battle.

    I’m not political, but I spent two days archiving ‘Outside in’. I’m hoping to get a perspective on the issues, as articulated by those who think differently to myself, through the lens you’ve created here. To be honest, I prefer your more ‘philosophical’ contemplations, but they permeate all your writing, to one degree or another, anyway.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Maybe think less of technology as an expensive toy and more of its transformative effects?

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    fotrkd, I’m a believer in the efficacy of technology. I grew up reading SF. There was always an awareness of the potentials of technology. Life extension technologies, enhancements, augmentations, computing, medical advances, all of these things were being worked on in the 70s. They were discussed (OMNI magazine). Raymond Kurzweil, people like that, were interviewed. All great stuff. I wrote to NASA as a kid, they kindly sent back an info pack full of the future. None of it has happened, bar the Space Shuttle. No permanent Moon colony, no manned base on Mars. Nothing. What about asteroid mining? Nothing.

    Instead, what do we have? Mobile phones and computors are fairly prevalent. The number of obese people is now greater than the number of undernourished people. The actual nourishment value of food has gone way down since the 70s. Oil companies block the development of new energy implementations. Etc..

    Science, in itself, has never been the problem. It’s people, stupidity, greed, all the cliches that are discussed to no avail. Intelligent application of science would never have allowed environmental degradation: It is the insular vanities of anthropic culture that are responsible.

    So when I disparage “technology news” it isn’t science or technology that I dismiss, it is the PR rubbish churned out by the dream factories, that they never deliver on. This is the 21st century – World Population: 7 billion, Global Online Population: 2 billion. The problems in the ‘World’ are not due to a lack of technology, but wholly due to the stupidity and malice of global administrations, that means people and their ideas. I very much doubt that ‘libertarianism’ or any of the other ‘neoreactions’ are going to be of any use. The root problems are at another level. There’s no point trying to isolate the ‘success’ factor down to, say, an Amero-Euro pioneering mentality creating the ‘New World’ out of a bricolage of European bourgeois institutions, Darwinian acquisition of foreign resources, all powered by Calvinist desires. The whole world is that way now. It won’t work. America is precisely the way it is because of those ideologies. If you can change the above figures, without cutting them, so that they are identical: okay, maybe not everone wants to be online, but if you can show that technology has been allowed to eradicate world poverty, then I might be able to take the “technology news” seriously. Until then, I have no option but to register the distinct lack of true civilisation and the global hegemony of stupidity.

    @. Nick B. Steves “but at least you can trust the sci-fi.”

    I agree.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    OK – that helps (found your position pretty inscrutable until now) and I agree with you to a large degree. But you make the neo-reactionary argument yourself, e.g. “Intelligent application of science would never have allowed environmental degradation” and railing against “PR rubbish churned out by the dream factories”. But you then seem to still want to believe in these dreams – e.g. ending world poverty. Neo-reaction (I think) says to forget all the universalist lies (all the childhood dreams of what NASA might do); you’re right about anthropic vanity, all the rest of it – so lets see what can be salvaged and built upon. But you can’t take all of humanity with you. Presumably your position is that even if this was (somehow) achievable, human nature would inevitably lead us back down the same path – so look at the transformative effects of technology on human nature – (even) computers and mobiles have begun to seriously rewire us. IF we’re the problem then you know what needs fixing…

    “The root problems are at another level” is an intriguing phrase. Can you tie the goals of neo-reaction into this other level?

    Scharlach Reply:

    I’ll try to be nice, Artxell, I really will . . . (Why, friends, am I responding to a Cathedral infiltrator?)

    No permanent Moon colony, no manned base on Mars. Nothing. What about asteroid mining? Nothing.

    Post-1965, the Cathedral quickly re-aligned its priorities. Check out the NASA budget since 1966. Down, down, down. Bush the First tried to raise it, but Clinton put the kabosh on that. There’s a poem somewhere: “What is the Moon Landing to a Negro?” or some such. That set the stage for much r/d policy that wasn’t military related (though I love the military stuff, too, don’t get me wrong). America would be terra-forming Mars by now if we hadn’t devolved into a welfare democracy.

    Instead, what do we have? Mobile phones and computors are fairly prevalent. The number of obese people is now greater than the number of undernourished people. The actual nourishment value of food has gone way down since the 70s. Oil companies block the development of new energy implementations.

    My best friend’s life was saved because mobile phones allowed us to get an ambulance to our remote location; my sister was quite happy to Skype with her husband while he was in Iraq instead of waiting for months between letters like our grandparents did in the 40s. So. Let’s show some respect for the consumer technology you seem to deplore.

    Also: anyone who has traveled to a third-world country will tell you that fat poor Westerners dining on Burger King is far preferable to emaciated children huddled over pools of dirty water.

    Also also: Oil companies don’t need to block the development of alternate energy because alternate energy is not a threat to them. The minute an alternative becomes viable on a mass scale, ExxonMobil will invest, invest, invest. To think otherwise is to demonstrate one’s ignorance of corporate strategy.

    Science, in itself, has never been the problem. It’s people, stupidity, greed, all the cliches that are discussed to no avail. Intelligent application of science would never have allowed environmental degradation: It is the insular vanities of anthropic culture that are responsible.

    The entire point of science is mastery of environment. If the Enlightenment had been ‘green,’ it never would have gotten very far. Now, I’ll admit to having environmentalist sympathies. I grew up in Southern California, so I hold pristine spaces at a premium. But I know that New Science is the best way to clean up whatever messes Older Science leaves behind. These messes are not the result of greed or stupidity; they are simply the by-products of people trying to figure shit out and trying to figure out how to put the shit to use.

    if you can show that technology has been allowed to eradicate world poverty

    The natural state of humanity is abject poverty. Don’t believe it? Spend a few weeks with one of the ‘uncontacted’ tribes in the Amazon or South Asia. Technology is the fons et origo of humanity’s rise out of abject poverty. It cannot, however, be blamed for not having risen everyone everywhere out of it.

    admin Reply:

    Since poverty is ultimately a choice, although typically a tacit one, the only way to “eradicate world poverty” — even in principle — is to control people to a near-totalitarian degree. Given the inevitability of perverse outcomes, in practice even that wouldn’t work.

    Posted on May 5th, 2013 at 5:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    “Technology news” is spun. “Political news” is spun… by similarly educated mid-witted spin-sters. If the PR folks actually explained the technology, it would not be news, but some arcane journal paper. If the PR folks actually explained the politics, dismembered heads on pikes would line the streets of suburbia.

    But politics is the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, and the shit that we flush. There is no “technology news” without “political news”… there is no news of any kind without “political news”.

    I think the libertarian perspective is best gained by reading sci-fi. “Technology news” gives off a similar frisson, but at least you can trust the sci-fi.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2013 at 8:12 pm Reply | Quote
  • Scharlach Says:

    I love Goldberg’s point about “indifference to intellectual history.” I would extend that Cathedral indifference to all of history. For instance, many of my colleagues honestly seem to think that the Muslim and Christian worlds started colliding in earnest only after Bush took office. Even my historically literate interlocutors–who knew about things like the Crusades—had never heard of La Reconquista or known that, if you want to split hairs about it, the Muslim world started this whole blood-feud with the West in the eighth century AD when it invaded Visigoth Hispania.

    “Visi-whaddaya whaddaya? Hispanics and Moors? What the hell are you talking about?!”

    I pointed them in the direction of the history of the Caliphate, and it simply did not compute.

    “B, b, b . . but only Europeans do imperialism, don’t they?”

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2013 at 10:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • Peter A. Taylor Says:

    @Scharlach: A former boss once said that the Apollo program ruined NASA. It changed NASA from an organization that did things for technical reasons to one that did things for political reasons. I would add that (1) as difficult as the physics is, the economics of space industrialization is much harder than the physics, and (2) throwing money at an economics problem often makes the problem worse. Look at the Space Shuttle as a cautionary tale, and be careful what you wish for.

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    Yes, NASA was conscripted to fight the Soviets. But lunar HSF couldn’t be done inside one election cycle, thus it was necessary to make it a larger part of the permanent government, spread across many districts in several states, so that it could never be dismantled.

    If anyone has not already read this excellent series by our host, please spend the time to do so. It is well-researched and gets to the economic crux: at some point of investment, the capital stays “out there” — the ROI is only realized by those who leave. At some point we’re talking about investments far beyond what any democracy would commit, given it would never realize political gain. Given that, no surprise that HSF has been relegated to PR stunts in LEO for the last few decades.

    [Reply]

    Scharlach Reply:

    @ Peter Taylor and Thales

    Yes, I know I should be careful when extolling NASA. In theory, it’s my favorite government program because it delivers more tangible (material, cultural, intellectual) returns on tax payers’ investment than, say, Medicaid. However, it’s always good to remember that NASA is still a wing of the Cathedral and thus essentially a political organization, as Peter points out.

    Still, if we’re going to have a huge centralized government spending lots of money on things, I’d prefer a government spending lots of money on space tech and other r/d. As it stands, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development is about $40 billion a year, while NASA is about $17 billion a year. As a comparison, the Transportation and Security Administration (whose task is to screen old white ladies at airports and feel my crotch when I go through security) has a budget of around $8 billion. So, US gives NASA only twice as much as they give the crotch-feelers.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 6th, 2013 at 1:13 am Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    “But you make the neo-reactionary argument yourself, e.g. “Intelligent application of science would never have allowed environmental degradation” and railing against “PR rubbish churned out by the dream factories”.”

    Well, I guess those observations are ‘reactions’, or ‘responses’, and it looks like my own tentative forays into the political quagmire (“Towards A Critique of NewColonial Manifestation – Introduction”, “Contours of Colonial Coercion and Beyond”) could be called “neoreactive”? And it even seems that I’ve been using ‘Neo-‘ and ‘New’ a lot, in formulations like ‘NeoPolitical’, ‘NewColonial’, etc.. But
    I’m not coming from any tradition really when I approach these things. I’m sure most of you are much more au fait with political traditions than me. To be honest, fotrkd, I don’t think the two statements you’ve quoted are reactionary. They’re just observations. My basic thesis was that there are no technical or scientific reasons why poverty hasn’t been eliminated. It’s purely a matter of ‘politics’, not lack of resources or know-how.

    “But you then seem to still want to believe in these dreams – e.g. ending world poverty.”

    You’re right, I do, because of the reasons given above.

    “Neo-reaction (I think) says to forget all the universalist lies (all the childhood dreams of what NASA might do); you’re right about anthropic vanity, all the rest of it – so lets see what can be salvaged and built upon.”

    Firstly, I want to say that most of my thinking was done in childhood, before I ever read any philosophy. I know a little more now about various phiolosophical traditions, but none of it has undermined the approaches developed in childhood, which I ‘believe’ were right.
    The NASA possibilities were achievable, but there was no ‘political’ will to realise them.
    About the “universalist lies”: it’s a big universe, and it offers more than a single ‘truth’: the ‘lies’ have a raison d’etre, too. Let’s not get too comfortable with any form of compelling evidence, there are always other possibilities…

    “Presumably your position is that even if this was (somehow) achievable, human nature would inevitably lead us back down the same path – so look at the transformative effects of technology on human nature – (even) computers and mobiles have begun to seriously rewire us. IF we’re the problem then you know what needs fixing…”

    I’m not so sure if ‘human nature’ is such a fixed concept, I started with SF, so was always aware of transformative possibilities. This is why I’m quite happy to dispense with the concept as a Latin regi-mentation. The Indian traditions which developed Yogic practices, are relatively independent of that regi-mentation, if not of others. Although, I’m sure, links could be made, but there are differences.
    I’m not so sure it’s so simple to localise ‘problems’ in any but the most banal, perspectival ways. Sure, if you’ve got a delimited field of variables in a machine you’ve built, even a social machine, you can specify difficulties. And that has to be done, but that’s just the beginning. Indexing a symptom alone does not provision a fuller, holistic understanding.

    ““The root problems are at another level” is an intriguing phrase. Can you tie the goals of neo-reaction into this other level?”

    I’m not sure what “neo-reaction” is yet, so I can’t answer that now.

    fotrkd, I thank you for your clear and insightful questions. These answers are the best I could do, for now.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 6th, 2013 at 10:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    @Scharlach,

    “There’s a poem somewhere: “What is the Moon Landing to a Negro?” or some such. That set the stage for much r/d policy that wasn’t military related (though I love the military stuff, too, don’t get me wrong). America would be terra-forming Mars by now if we hadn’t devolved into a welfare democracy.”

    You seem to be blaming racial minorities and social welfare for the deprivation of interplanetary possibilities? I do remember it being said that America spent more on cosmetics than on the Space Programme: it being the 70s, this would imply that the culture of female appearance and stylisation took precedence over space exploration and development. Are you going to blame women, too, for wanting to look ‘good’? And who do they want to look good for? Who gave birth to you?
    If we’re honest, the Apollo missions were a military exercise, the Soviets were first into space, and the USA had to better that. And it did! The history of Afro-American involvement in space exploration is excellently summarised in this short documentary – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX_687HwX9c

    “My best friend’s life…”

    The mobile phones and computors were given as an example of 70s dreams that were realised. The following examples outlined dystopic developments that, indeed, are “deplorable”. Should’ve have written it more clearly.

    “Also: anyone who has traveled to a third-world country will tell you that fat poor Westerners dining on Burger King is far preferable to emaciated children huddled over pools of dirty water.”

    It could be said that the majority of “Third World” problems are the after-effects of prior colonial interventions and continuing economic exploitations. How things would have developed without such incursions is difficult to assess, especially in the case of culturally isolated regions. Your example is reductive, it merely contrasts two states, offering preferential evaluation that shows cultural bias. There’s a lot behind those two images.

    “Oil companies don’t need to block the development of alternate energy because alternate energy is not a threat to them. The minute an alternative becomes viable on a mass scale, ExxonMobil will invest, invest, invest. To think otherwise is to demonstrate one’s ignorance of corporate strategy.”

    Oil companies are sitting on alternative energy patents. The notions of viability you speak of are determined by specific corporate interests struggling to survive in the space of competitive commerce, rather than any concept of general well-being. That’s a very different ethos. If you think differently, why would there be any need for an ‘oil lobby’. And why something like this – http://www.alternet.org/print/story/67793/democratic_leaders_poised_to_sabotage_hope_for_renewable_energy

    “The entire point of science is mastery of environment.

    I would of thought science attempts to understand and ‘know’ the ‘environment’. The potential application of resulting ‘knowledge’, the ability to produce ‘effects’, constitutes what you’re calling ‘mastery’. Is not science ‘itself’ a feature of the environment, neurophysics wants to say it is a development of it? There’s lot more that could be said here.

    “If the Enlightenment had been ‘green,’ it never would have gotten very far.”

    Wouldn’t a true ‘enlightenment’ render unneccessary any ‘green’ oppositions?

    “Now, I’ll admit to having environmentalist sympathies. I grew up in Southern California, so I hold pristine spaces at a premium.”

    You like deserts? “at a premium”: nice to see the way you evaluate “pristine spaces”. lol.

    But I know that New Science is the best way to clean up whatever messes Older Science leaves behind. These messes are not the result of greed or stupidity; they are simply the by-products of people trying to figure shit out and trying to figure out how to put the shit to use.”

    Sure, there’s ‘trial and error’ in the learning process. But fetishising an ignorant and impoverished concept of Science, “new lamps for old”, only characterises a blinkered and avaricious utilisation.

    “The natural state of humanity is abject poverty. Don’t believe it? Spend a few weeks with one of the ‘uncontacted’ tribes in the Amazon or South Asia.pace Odyssey Technology is the fons et origo of humanity’s rise out of abject poverty. It cannot, however, be blamed for not having risen everyone everywhere out of it.”

    I disagree, you’re just focussing on instances of the apparently undeveloped, counterposing them to a monolithic concept of “technology”, which you’re attempting to represent. Things are more complex than that. What your schematic does show is a simplistic ‘deprivation’ ethos, one that usually drives “blinkered and avaricious utilisation”. Sure, you can abstract someone out of society and place them, unacculturated and unprepared, in the ‘wilderness’, give them a lesson in those ‘harshnesses’, those ‘drivers’, of ‘evolution’ or whatever: but that wouldn’t mean anything. And the ‘bone-to-spaceship’ narrative of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, say, isn’t the only explanatory narrative available for technology. Again, things are more complex than that. But they aren’t for a mindset based on addiction, deprivation, and the exclusion of other possibilities.
    Technology can’t be blamed for anything, but people , the ‘operators’, can.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 7th, 2013 at 6:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    @Nick Land

    “Since poverty is ultimately a choice, although typically a tacit one, the only way to “eradicate world poverty” — even in principle — is to control people to a near-totalitarian degree. Given the inevitability of perverse outcomes, in practice even that wouldn’t work.”

    I’m not sure you’re right. Although, I can imagine all the examples you could give that would show that. And, really, I would say that totalitarian procedures are well evidenced in current setups, anyway. Chomsky’s phrase, “manufacturing consent”, indicates why that is tolerated. Wars are won through incessant production, in culture, too. The culture doesn’t even have to be any good, it just has to work.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 7th, 2013 at 6:59 pm Reply | Quote
  • Scharlach Says:

    @ Artxell

    Thanks for confirming my belief that it’s really pointless to argue these things on an internet forum. We’re obviously in disagreement on very fundamental issues. Most of your response was a critique of my framework, which indicates that any meaningful discussion we might have would need to be prologued by addressing a lot of fundamentals and definitions. And quite honestly, all a prologue would do is force us to realize that we simply inhabit different universes. For example, where I see the obviousness of pre-modern ‘deprivation’ (e.g., the Sentinelese off the coast of India haven’t even figured out how to make fire), you don’t even see ‘no deprivation.’ You’d probably rather talk about my “representation” of the Sentinelese, my “monolithic concept” of technology, and the “blinkered avarice” of my priors.

    And that’s fine. I can play the same game. Continuing with the same example, I might say that your refusal to recognize the intellectual and material poverty of tribal and third world living probably arises from your blinkered class privilege—you’ve never actually spent a year without hot water or refrigerators, so you take them for granted and have no problem framing peoples who live without them as simply existing in “alternate ways-of-being.” I might say that you begin all your musings with a vision of how the world should be according to your utopian view rather that with a vision of how the world simply presents itself; therefore, every philosophical step you take (whether logical or not) is already limned by a peculiar brand of utopian morality.

    So on and so forth. But this kind of talk gets us nowhere. It simply devolves into each person psycho-analyzing the other and the other’s motives. It devolves into arguments about each person’s “representations” and “ethos” and forsakes any attempt at addressing the material reality that exists regardless of how we represent it. If you’re ready to have a conversation about that reality—ready to attempt to triangulate our partial views on it to come to a consensus, to match our “representations” with the underlying facts as best as we are able—then we can have a dialogue. However, so long as you’re more interested in non sequiturs about cosmetics spending and in putting “quotes” around words in order to deconstruct the binary at the heart of my social and linguistic constructions . . . there’s really no point.

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    @ Scharlach

    I appreciate the earnest sincerity of your response. That communicated a lot. It opened up a lot, too. It got me thinking beyond what was said, and beyond what is written here. I think that’s good. But then I’m just a dreamer.

    “critique of my framework”

    My critique, as you call it, is not so much about you and your articulation of frameworks, it is about those frameworks themselves. I’m not saying they’re necessarily wrong, in any wholesale way. But there are others, and I’m trying to be careful. It’s a way of keeping an awareness of them being in play, just in case.

    ” the obviousness of pre-modern ‘deprivation’ (e.g., the Sentinelese off the coast of India haven’t even figured out how to make fire), you don’t even see ‘no deprivation.’”

    Of course I don’t deny the fact that there is deprivation. There’s deprivation in First World countries, too. I came across the Sentinelese last year, there are a lot of tribes in and around India.

    “This is a list of Scheduled Tribes in India, as recognised the Constitution of the Indian Republic; a total of 645 district tribes. The term “Scheduled Tribes” refers to specific indigenous peoples whose status is acknowledged to some formal degree by national legislation. A collective term in use locally to describe most of these peoples is “Upajati” (literally “clans/tribes/groups”).”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Scheduled_Tribes_in_India

    Thanks for bringing up the Sentinelese again, I’ve learnt something new this time around. They’re an amazing tribe. Locked away for 40-60 000 years, an absolute hostility to outsiders, their language hasn’t been deciphered yet, etc.. And, yeah, they have no fire, though they’re fiery. But they can survive tsunamis, and no-one else knows how. It’s tempting here to go into SF territory and dream a bit…

    …The Sentinelese inhabit a different region of ontological possibilities. Their isolation from others, their relative undeveloped state, opens them up to a set of possibilities and interactions with the ‘world’ that are lost to the particular forms of ‘development’ exemplified by other human groups. Among these possibilities, is the ability to survive tsunamis. Perhaps they have a ‘group-mind’ of some sort: that arises from their unique configuration of culture, location, history, etc.: being itself is changed for them: they are aware of other humans as aliens from another dimension: emissaries of a threatening process thrown up by the world around them, to which they have to be hostile. If they allow the aliens in, they lose their ability to survive tsunamis, perhaps other things, too. They don’t ‘know’ this exactly, they experience it in a visceral sense, according to a different ‘viscerality’ from other humans. The way they inhabit ‘Nature’ is different, and ‘Nature’ gives them different things than it does us. Other humans are ‘supernatural’ to them, they experience things ‘supernatural’ to other humans, like the ability to survive tsunamis…

    It’s the kind of story Brian Aldiss would have written, perhaps Ian Watson. You get the drift. It keeps things open. We’re in a different space now, one which contextualises both mainstream humans and the Sentinelese. From this space, present understandings of ‘reality’, mainstream tribal understandings, are localised, too. And from such a space, it is possible to discern differences more clearly, to see both the mainstream and the Sentinelese as expressions. Perhaps it is even possible to learn something from these considerations, to see something that mainstream development has neglected, or is deficient in? So, we’ve had a bit of fun, but we’ve been roused out of the habits that can constitute the blockages of insularity, a bit anyway. Now, I’m well aware that it is possible to reverse everything I’ve said here, and go back to those ‘habits’, just as the Sentinelese do, with their bows and arrows.

    What can we say? That mainstream habits are better? That their deprived lives will be improved through whatever mainstream ways have to offer? That their current ‘autonomy’ is worthless, they should be assimilated? To quibble about this is just anthropological romanticism of the other? That the only scale of values by which these things are to be measured is that deriving from mainstream valorisations? Because we know better, our concepts of knowledge work, and they’ve gained dominance, after all?

    Okay. But you see how that could apply to neoreactive calls for autonomy? That any group seeking independence from the “Cathedral” is reacting just like the antisocial Sentinelese? That any appeal to exceptionalism of any kind is a romantic mystification along the lines of the SF idea above: one that generates biased interpretations of data governed by the ethos of such mystification: or disingenuous, enforced, and manipulative selection of characteristics claimed by the exceptionalism, and overly valorised? And so on…

    If one were to get ‘real’, as it were, question the Sentinelese survival factor as not being ‘supernatural’, as being down to something that is assimilable by mainstream understanding, and then justify their forced assimilation and integration, citing all the benefits of ‘modern’ culture for them: assuming the ‘superiority’ of the mainstream by citing, in the final analysis, the mainstream’s greater resources, technologies, military capability, etc., in short, the Hegelian might-makes-right that governs Occidental culture and derives from the metaphysics of ‘reality’: then one has to question why there is any neoreaction against the “Cathedral” at all? Especially when this “Cathedral” is depicted as being the epitome of power? Or why complain about the banks and finance system, the ‘victors’ of the Darwinian race?

    “I might say that you begin all your musings with a vision of how the world should be according to your utopian view rather that with a vision of how the world simply presents itself; therefore, every philosophical step you take (whether logical or not) is already limned by a peculiar brand of utopian morality.”

    Well, I’m definitely using the theoretical spaces from which both present and utopian perspectives can be derived. What else can I do? If I’m trying to understand?
    And I don’t think that the ‘world’ is only a matter of simple ‘presentation’. Simplicity is available, but it’s always connected with the possibility of complexity, by definition. I don’t think simplicity is necessarily some magical Occam’s key to Being or Truth or whatever. It can be, but the inflexible and unquestioning worship of what are held to be its persuasive examples (the successes of scientific method, etc.) aren’t so much to do only with the way things ‘are’, but rather with the systematic way they need to be approached to gain an understanding. I’m not going to go into these issues here, they’re complex.
    What is simple for one, can be complex for another, and vice versa.

    “peculiar brand of utopian morality”: do you think it’s a bad thing, I guess you do, Nick Land almost certainly feels that I am barking up a mystical tree, I would imagine?

    “psycho-analyzing the other and the other’s motives.”

    I don’t mind if you do that, perhaps I’ll learn something.

    “It devolves into arguments about each person’s “representations” and “ethos” and forsakes any attempt at addressing the material reality that exists regardless of how we represent it.”

    I don’t think that “representations” and “ethos” are so easily separated from “material reality”? I’m not so sure if “material reality” is quite such a monolithic beast, either. Again, I’m being careful.

    ” If you’re ready to have a conversation about that reality—ready to attempt to triangulate our partial views on it to come to a consensus, to match our “representations” with the underlying facts as best as we are able”

    I can only do what I do. I’ve only just archived “Outside in”, and its linked articles. It’s going to take time to go through. A fact is “a thing made”, as is a fiction, it’s best not to be unnerved by them.
    There is no need for a forced or false consensus. I’m not censoring anyone, I’m not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with anyone (whether “Neoreaction”, the “Cathedral”, or whatever), I am trying to understand.
    I don’t have a view, as such, really, that I can express in conventional ways. So I don’t ‘know’ that I can come to a consensus with anyone, not that I would rule out consensual effects.
    “It’s not what you think, but that you think, that is the source of all things.” Zen saying.

    “non sequiturs about cosmetics spending”

    What I meant is that it is possible to question all non-NASA expenditure. The person who made the point about cosmetics was implicitly considering them frivolous, in contrast to NASA projects. Your points about welfare spending and significance of NASA projects to Afro-American males, likewise, implicitly considers them as frivolous, in contrast to NASA projects. Or, in all cases, as frivolity is not stated, the juxtapositions do imply the non-NASA expenditures to be drains on general spending, whether government or private, and leave open the possibility of questioning.To be honest, I think NASA was making the cosmetics point in answer to the question: “How can we justify the Moon missions when there are starving people?” The cosmetics point answers: “If you’re all so concerned, do you think buying make-up is more important than feeding people, because that’s what you’re doing?

    ” and in putting “quotes” around words in order to deconstruct the binary at the heart of my social and linguistic constructions . . . there’s really no point.”

    I use the quotes as indicators that the term could be problematic, I’m using the term gently, carefully. Or I have left something unsaid. Or it is a quote. Or it’s an irony. Damn, why do I do that!? I haven’t really read much Derrida, either, just “Positions”, which I like. lol It’s just what I do.

    And to merely indicate the constructed nature of any ‘point’ or ‘position’ is not necessarily a rejection, or an acceptance.

    The space of pointlessness provides understanding of all points. To proceed only according to a particular point, within its ambit, is to be governed by it, is to be a drone in its economy. Drones neither create nor solve. There’s no need to be a ‘drone’.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 7th, 2013 at 10:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • Scharlach Says:

    @ Arxtell again

    Although I did love the NASA video . . .

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    I’m glad. It’s brilliantly done.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 7th, 2013 at 10:06 pm Reply | Quote

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