Re: Extropian political theory vs. Libertarianism

Mike Linksvayer (
Sun, 05 Sep 1999 00:33:31 -0700

Craig Presson wrote:
> To minarchists, the main challenge is to define how to contain government.

To libertarian theorists, anarchist and minarchist alike, the challenge is to consider how to contain coercion.

> To libertarians in general, of course, the main challenge is how to get there from here.

And that's quite a different challenge.

I subscribed to extropians years ago because discussion largely revolved around three of my primary interests at the time: anarchocapitalism, extreme technology, and extreme self improvement. (A discussion which also included my fourth primary interest at the time, extreme music, would have been too much to ask for...)

I'm no longer nearly as interested in anarchocapitalism, or in libertarianism or politics in general. While certainly I think it is useful to think about challenges to and replacements for (where desirable) every single facet of the state, anarchocapitalism simply seems really irrelevant right now. I also can't really call myself an anarchocapitalist (or anything else) anymore. Given the paucity of examples of "there", it seems preposterous to zealously advocate any one "there" or stable libertarian system. One could even argue that there's no there anywhere, libertarian or otherwise, i.e., there is no stable political system.

What we're left with is constantly trying to ferret coercion out of society, without claiming to have knowledge of a "... and they lived happily ever after ..." system. One could draw a probably deeply flawed analogy to fallibilism.

I actually think anti-market anarchists set a reasonable example here: they have even less in the way of solid plans or historical precedent. What they do have is an ongoing committment to oppose whatever they (often mis-)perceive as authoritarianism.

I didn't mean to go off on this track, but here I am, so one more very tenuous point on libertarianism and anarchism: Bartely (pancritical rationalism) argues that a justificationist metacontext gives irrationalists an excuse to reject rationalism and be no less rational than rationalists, since rationalism cannot justify itself. It seems that a similar argument could be made about any libertarianism that claims to possess ultimate moral answers. It's very easy to argue that libertarianism cannot be consistently applied -- rather than "at what point do we allow an irrational committment?" the question is "at what point to we allow coercion to have been initiated?" If libertarianism is viewed as an ongoing committment to root out coercion, then the aforementioned argument against libertarianism, and excuse for any amount of coercion, is eliminated, in the same manner that Bartley's pancritical rationalist metacontext eliminates a major argument against rationalism and for irrational committment.

My interest in extreme technology has not waned. However, I'm much less certain that a singularity-like situation will occur real soon now. This in spite of the many remarkable advances of the last several years. I figure I'm just older.

What interests me most these days is extreme self improvement. Realistically I can't personally do anything to immanetize the eschaton, but gosh, even given current technology and this society, I have more things to do to make myself healthier, stronger, wiser, more skillful, more learned, and more ecstatic than I need to fill up a heretofore normal lifespan.

Which leads me to ask ... are there any examples of people committed to radical self change and improvment as a primary goal without any prospect of indefinite lifespan or supernatural immortality? It would seem to indicate that the human spirit is lacking if there aren't many examples, that the prospect of a greatly extended lifespan was required to make people consider radical self improvment a worthy lifetime goal.

See From: and Organization: above.