A response to Rafal Smigrodzki, Part 2

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@msx.upmc.edu)
Date: Thu Dec 27 2001 - 02:50:13 MST

From: Mike Lorrey <mlorrey@datamann.com> wrote:

Actually, before the arrival of the Conquistadors, Native North American
societies (not including Aztecans and points south) were rather
peaceful, with inter-tribal warfare limited to ritualistic
confrontations for 'counting coup' similar to the jousting typical of
northern europe in medeival times.

### I am not quite convinced about it. The recent discovery of physical
evidence of canibalism in North American Indians would make me wary of
trying to emulate their way of life.


Furthermore, as a historical counterexample, take medieval Iceland. The
sagas recount a really idyllic society with no government, merely an
informal priestly cast of 'umpires', where free trade was the norm and
the only coersion was that individuals honor their contracts. Nor was
this society isolated from the rest of the world, for the Vatican had
repeatedly sent a Bishop and missonaries to the island, and trade in
live animals (arctic falcons, etc) originating in Iceland spread as far
as Mecca and Istanbul.

### The Althing was an embryonic form of government. Can we trust the sagas
to accurately describe the amount of violence? And as soon as the population
density goes up, the idyll is over.


> ### How many thousands of years did take to invent the wheel (counting
> from the first emergence of ungoverned humans)?
> A government (usually a bad one) will form well before industry, and
> without stability offered by a good government, hardly any research
> will take place.

On the contrary, outside of agricultural trade in grain, olive oil,
wine, and many other goods, mining was the first heavy industry, traces
of which can be dated back as far as 5000 BC with simple metals like
gold, tin, silver and copper, while flint and obsidian mines have
operated for thousands of years into the Ice Age, trading their goods
over thousands of miles.

### But were they "ungoverned"? The village chieftain and his cabal can be
quite tough on the underdog.


Government is only created when some portion of the population
encounters conditions of scarcity in the local area. Humans had been
innovating and industrializing long before this became necessary.

### Yes, you are right here. But on the other hand, isn't population
pressure, population density and competition potent forces for innovation
and industialization? Can you have a development from an agrarian society
into a high-tech one, without a government developing along the way?

> -----
> ### Coercion always comes first - government comes later. This played
> out in hunter-gatherer and agrarian societies hundreds of times
> (again, Native Americans, Polynesians......)

Coersion IS government. What part of the word "en-force" don't you

### No. Government is a an institution, usually geographically defined,
claiming the monopoly for the use of force, usually in an area. You can have
force without the monopoly and government, and be that much worse for wear.

> ------

Unless their land is taken by force, landless individuals living in land
monopolies have only themselves to blame for selling out in the past.

### How about their equally landless children? Should they be blamed too?
> ------
> and other contractual
> agreements to ward off mergers and the like. (Sometimes, it's
> inefficient to do so, but beforehand, we can't always be sure that
> voluntary behavior is inefficient or that coerced behavior can do
> better.)
> ### Who is going to ward off mergers??? Why? How?
> We agreed there is no coercion allowed in this experiment, so you
> would have to be pretty smart, trying to stop landowners from
> consolidating their holdings by marriage.

The inaccurate assumption is that a merger of two firms will result in a
merger of two market shares.

### Explain?

> -------
> Two, land will go up in value if some want to buy more and more of it.
> The price will rise, meaning that owners of it will make more money.
> There's no way to tell how much, but this already shows how your
> scenario is a bit unrealistic.
> ### You are forgetting that the large landowners make more money than
> the small ones, both gross, and sometimes even per acre (they can
> afford the expensive, imported machines). The less land available for
> sale there is, the more difficult it is for the small operators to
> join the game.

Yet in your scenario, there are heaps of landless peasants available.
Machinery only does labor in place of man. If machinery is too
expensive, then human labor becomes competetive, and small operators are
also therefore competetive.

### Why do most farms tend to consolidate - as in the US now, no matter if
there are machines or not? Small means weak in the farming business.

> ------

This is inaccurate. Rags to riches to rags in three generations is a
phenomenon reported in such places as medieval Vietnam (up to the
present day, even), India, and many other cultures.

### In feudal societies this is not the way things are.


Actually, the rags to rags phenomenon will occur faster, on average,
when primogeniture is NOT prevalent. Think about it: the more a fortune
is divided with each generation, the quicker a large fortune for one
person dissolves into merely a fortunate but small windfall for many,
which is quickly consumed in many cases.

### I am sorry - I quoted clumsily, making my statement equivocal. I meant
to say exactly what you pointed out.

> -----
 Marginal land sometimes
> offers a refuge for subsistence farmers, but with enough pressure even
> they might end up being displaced.

But you just argued about there being a market balance. If there is a
balance, then displacement pressure will not occur.

### In Poland partial displacement occurred as a result of the division of
peasant-owned land due to population growth (making each of the son's
existence more precarious and liable to be forced to sell land to large


"J. R. Molloy" <jr@shasta.com> also wrote on the same subject:

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal
<<BTW, can you give valid historical evidence of the beneficial effects of
absence of a government on social development (I mean *total* absence of a
government resulting in great improvements in quality and quantity of human

Of course there is no such evidence. Nor is there evidence of the beneficial
effects of the *total* absence of disease, because disease is always present
in some form. Likewise, government is always present in some form. But we
still try to get rid of it.

### The analogy is imperfect.

 "Disease" is *defined* as a malfunction, something unwished-for, therefore
its absence, be it partial or (hypothetically), total, is by definition

 A government is defined functionally, without direct reference to its
beneficence, therefore its ethical value has to be established
independently, also regarding the consequences of its total absence.

It is incorrect to claim that the government is always present in some form.
"Lord of the Flies" explores one case of its total absence, with deplorable



This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:31 MDT