Re: Justice and Punishment

den Otter (
Sat, 4 Apr 1998 16:33:59 +0200

> From: John K Clark <>

> "den Otter" <> On Fri, 3 Apr 1998 Wrote:
> >Centralized systems are not inherently bad
> Tell that to the impoverished people of the former USSR.

The USSR malfunctioned for many reasons, but probably most of
all its redicilous communist ideology. This doesn't mean that
centralism automatically lead to poverty. Many European countries
make this point just fine. Flawed? Certainly. Impoverished? Hardly.
Centralism is what you make it, and it does not necessarily
exclude the free market (after all, there's plenty of free market
in centralised Europe and the US, for example), but it means
that some crucial things just aren't left to chance (free market
forces). In itself, I think that is a sound idea. Since no-one
has ever set up a centralized system based on _transhumanistic_
ideas we simply cannot say that it won't work yet, comparing
centralized transhumanism to centralized communism is silly;
the ideologies coundn't differ more.

By the way, before I'll get tangled up in the devil's advocate stuff again,
I'd like to state that I don't _oppose_ anarcho-capitalism in itself. It's
a great idea, but I just don't think it will ever work properly in this world
with these people. As I stated earlier, anarcho-capitalism requires
active participation by rational, independent individuals. The very fact
that history (including the present) is a long list of oppression and
ignorance makes me seriously wonder whether humanity is ready
for this experiment, whether it just won't lead to even worse situations
than we know today.

> >A centralized system can be benevolent in its intentions, anarchy,

> >like nature itself, doesn't give a crap about fairness or individual

> >well-being.
> I'm interested in results, I don't give a damn about intentions. I hope I
> don't come across sounding too cynical but any system that must rely on
> people loving each other is not going to work.

I think my system with all its surveillance etc. is cynical enough to take on
the real world. Anarcho-capitalism on the other hand is IMO based on the
false premise that people will just turn en masse to libertarianism once
they get the chance (or have been "educated"). Well, it ain't gonna happen.
Just like you can tell people all about cryonics and how rational et al it is,
explain every stupid detail x times and still get nowhere, you can hammer
all the libertarian wisdom you want into the masses and they'll still follow
the first guy with some smooth red/reli/whatever talk. The proof is on the
table. Dispite (undoubtedly) heroic efforts, anything only vaguely resembling
a libertarian party is pitifully small in any country of significance.

> The farmer grows my food, the
> trucker moves my food and the grocer sells my food, none of these people love
> me, yet the free market plunges them into a conspiracy to put food on my
> table.

First of all, if you think my system is based on "love" please read again. It's
based on a rather cynical idea about human nature really. Furthermore, all
the people you mentioned (and then some) will be out of a job in a couple
of decades bedause machines can do it a lot better & cheaper, and unless
you either want to shoot them or let them become a very desperate and dangerous
layer of society, you will need some kind of welfare to support them. (the
free food etc. handouts I mentioned in another thread come into play here).
Release these people into anarcho-capitalism and they'll likely become
the loyal supporters of the first would-be dictator that happens to come
along with promises of a better life.

> >Anarchy is inherently unstable
> The Internet is an anarchy, it seems to work.

The internet owes its existence to the computernetworks of centralized states,
mainly the US. It can also "work" because it's very limited, all bits 'n'bites and
no physical contact. Also, it is still a playground of the more advanced
layres of society; most people are *not* connected. But most of all, the net
is something you can turn off and ignore with the touch of a button if you don't
like it. The real world on the other hand is somewhat harder to switch off...

> >>Me:
> >>In other words we want our judges to have a highly developed sense

> >>of justice, well it's hard to disagree with that, but the question

> >>is how do we obtain it.
> >By selection on the desired criteria, continous training in the most

> >difficult cases, continous surveillance
> Continuos surveillance would be enough to stop most from going into that line

> of work, it would certainly stop me.

Well, fortunately there is diversity and thus plenty of people who would do it.
I can well imagine that many "secret" government jobs are a lot worse,
add what to think about cops and soldiers etc, risking their butt for a fraction
of the pay and privileges.

> >(to prevent corruption), excellent pay,
> High pay won't stop corruption, regardless of how much money you have it's
> never enough.

A good thing we have electronic surveillance then, and people that are (finacially)
motivated to detect flaws in the system...The pay is merely an extra.

> >Good surveillance brings out the saint in anyone
> I'd rather be a sinner.

So you want to be corrupt, steal, rape and murder? Just about anything else is
legal you know.

> >and all judicial candidates are subject to intensive psychological

> >profiling, not just one but continously.
> 1) Psychological profiling is crap.

That depends...With the aid of brainscans and the like we'll be able to
reduce the vagueness in psychology. The rest must depend on good old
common sense (and yes, there *is* something like "common sense").

> 2) Who profiles the psychological profiler?

Checks and balances, so several teams of profilers who's salary depends
on the results of their work (actually, this is something that would apply to *all*
government employees -- pretty radical, eh). do the testing. So a good profiler
gets wealthy, while a bad one sees a reduction in payment followed by "the boot" if
the bad results continue. Judges, cops, clerks etc. -- the same. Just like in a
normal company. This would take on bureaucratic inefficiency at its root.

> >The free market is no magic bullet, not by far. Many a good product

> >has failed for trivial and/or incomprehensible reasons.
> The reasons they failed are often comprehensible and never trivial.

They can be as trivial as placing the right ad at the right time. Ads say
nothing about the quality of the product, they are the commercial
equivalent of smooth talking politicians. A smooth ad campaign can
make people buy crap and make them ignore the good stuff, who's
inventor didn't happen to have an extra $10,000,000 to advertize it all
over the place. Also, sometimes good products are suppressed
because they threaten the position of some big powerful company
that happens to operate in the same niche. Only a powerful state
can put these things right, thus achieving a higher level of progress
and product quality for the consumer to enjoy. Sometimes market
forces just aren't enough, and a healthy dose of ideology is required.

> >The free market is basically commercial democracy: you let the
> >people vote for products.
> No, there is a fundamental difference. Elections are dumb, an idiotic way of
> communicating your wishes, there are much better ways. Every day I send
> hundreds of exquisitely precise messages to the Free Market telling it what I
> want it to do.

Most consumers aren't as critical or emancipated as you are, they'll buy crap
and vote crap, all the same to them. That's why there's so much crap around.

> I also get to compare brands, I can't do that In a democracy
> because I'm not voting for goods or services or even policies, I just get to
> choose between two grab bags of promises every 4 years, and democracy is the
> best form of government, the best of a bad lot.

For the time being, yes.

> When I "vote" in the economy by making a purchase I am sure to get it, I
> always win.

Unless you buy crap of course.

> When I vote for the grab bag I may or may not get it. At any rate,
> the chances that my vote will influence things is so small that it's not
> worth my time to study the issues very deeply, the result is that the
> politician with the best hairdo gets to make the decisions.

Indeed, democracy sucks and I should rule the world.

> >First of all, how do you want to achieve a state of anarchy? After

> >all, the nation states aren't going to roll over and die just like

> >that.
> I don't need to achieve it, like it or not I see no way to stop it. I think
> we'll soon find out if my optimistic assessment of a world without government
> is correct, because I don't see how the traditional nation state can continue
> much longer, they will go the way of the city state.

City states were absorbed by nation states, so you're saying that we're about
to have a gobal state. That's indeed a considerable possibility, which would make
the net a lot more controllable, btw.

> Nations will die not with a bang but with a whimper because modern worldwide
> communication, cryptography and untraceable digital cash and signatures will
> make it increasingly difficult to collect taxes, the balance is tipping away
> from the tax collector and in favor of the tax evader.

Sounds o.k, but many other seemingly good predictions about the demise of
the state have turned out to be duds so I'll don't hold my breath just yet.

> Governments will undoubtedly draft many new laws to try to protect themselves
> in this brave new world, but making rules is easy, enforcing them is not.
> Short of dismantling the Internet and confiscating all home computers it's
> impossible to dictate what form of encryption or digital cash you must use
> in your home. Regardless of the rules, you can't collect the tax if you can't
> find the money. Even the traditional standby of "tax by inflation" would
> not work as people would just switch to a competing currency (untraceable of
> course) that suited their needs better. The tribute that could still be
> extracted, like property taxes and building permits, would have to be
> increased to astronomic levels and collected with a heavy hand, I think a
> tax revolt would follow. Without money government will grind to a halt.

I must say it sounds convincing, but somehow I don't think that it will be
this simple. People are more obedient and scared of anarchy than you
think, and the state will prey on their fears to curb the flow of untaxable
transactions. After all, with full control over the real world (where you live
and can get hurt etc.) and with the same problem facing all governments
they'll have the motivation and probably also the means to turn the tide
of coming anarchy. In the worst case scenario violence and another
cold war and/or increased terrorist activity (all set up of course) may be
used to justify all sorts of draconanian measures, and the sheeple _will_
take it once more. If they tolerate such crap as the "war on drugs", then
why not this too? Sanctimoniousness and fear can so easily be exploited...
If this fails, there may be temporary _violent_ anarchy indeed -- followed
by good old totaltarianism. I can assure you that to stay in power the
governments of the worlds will sacrifice almost any number of lives and
new technologies, including the net. If nothing else works they'll simply
hit it so hard that it will be reduced to what it once was: a toy for a small
number of techno buffs. Brute force gets you a long way.

> >Centralized governments don't *have* to be bureaucratic.
> I think they do, certainly they always have been. If you're a bureaucrat it's
> to your interest to increase the bureaucracy, the same is true of your boss.

Any employee has interest in the prospering of his company. Whether that's
the state, PPA, or some other business isn't really relevant. Like I said before,
government workers (like police etc.) would be paid according to the amount
and quality of their work, and be fired when found inadequate, just like in any
market-oriented company. This and maximal automatization should elliminate
most of the problems associated with bureaucrats.

> >"Anarchy" in any form is unstable (it's simply a power vacuum),
> Anarchy means no government, your statement would be true only if government
> was the only form of power, fortunately it's not.

It also quite appropriately means "social and political disorder". The main point is
however that a power structure where the relation between payment and service
is vague (like it is with government and taxes) seems to be the most "natural" one
for humans. Time and again we have seen social experiments fail, even if the
basic principles may have seemed sound. I'm quite sure your PPAs would either
be a minority from the start (the rest being totalitarian clans, citystates and
full- blown countries) or that many, possibly all, would quickly degenerate into a
flock of hardworking, meek/scared sheep ruled by an elite of enforcers. Logical,
because many people are insecure, uneducated and vulnerable to any slick
talker or bully with a gun. In *theory* you might move from a region if you don't
like the resident PPA, but in reality it may proof too difficult/dangerous. I think
the advocates of anarcho-capitalism badly overestimate the rationality and
emancipation and (practical means like income) of the average man. And I
assure you, there are a *lot* of average and sub-average men out there. I can
hear the new Hitler smack his lips already...

> >Since there's only your PPA to deal with instead of a huge government

> >that's all over I might try to take you out either myself or I may

> >hire as many destitute souls as my budged allows to do it for me.
> I would not have dreamed of slandering you, or even set foot outside of my
> house if I didn't think my PPA was strong enough to deter you or anybody else
> from killing me.

Yes, the strongest PPA wins. Well, this reminds me that even without full-flung
turf wars there can be hostile takeovers and the like, one PPA directly
(and secretly) damaging the reputation (sabotage) of another, causing some people
to leave it etc, and then buying its owners out and absorbing it (with enough of
its structure and customer base in tact to make a profit) or simply disbanding it.
Of course financial problems could also arise due to other causes which would
spare the "hostile" PPA a lot of trouble. Imagine Microsoft as a PPA for ex,
providing mediocre yet somehow "appealing" services and taking out competition
left and right by any means necessary. Such a PPA would become more like
a nation state with every takeover or alliance it achieved. Indeed, this is the way
that today's great nation states were formed...slowly, by force, by cunning and
sheer luck.

> A member being murdered is bad business for a PPA, the
> murderer remaining unpunished is VERY bad business for a PPA. If I though
> that my PPA wasn't pulling out all the stops in its investigation of a
> murdered member I'd change my PPA so fast it'd make your head spin.

*If* you're indeed in a position to do so. I can well image that many folks would
have debts with their PPA, just like with the mob/state etc.No way that you
will leave in one piece, and even if so what other PPA would dare/want to
accept you in this state...unless you make even more debts and become
in fact a slave.

> Incidentally, my PPA forbids torture but not the death penalty.

Since mine allows both (under certain circumstances) I can imagine would-be
criminals being better behaved on my turf, and a generally more polite treatment
of my customers.

> >>Me:
> >>I don't understand. Does everybody get 3 trials, even those found

> >>guilty the first time?
> >You:
> >No. Unless new hard evidence comes up (before the execution in
> >capital cases).
> So I must go to trial 3 times and receive 3 innocent verdicts before I can go
> home but if I receive only one guilty verdict I'm dead meat. Doesn't seem
> quite right.

It *does* make sense: normally, there's one trial and one verdict. To avoid
endless appeals on death row and the trouble they cause to all parties
involved, executions must follow within a relatively short period after the verdict.
Within this period you have the right to appeal for a retrial, but only if there
is new evidence. There is no limit to presenting new evidence in order to avoid
rediculous situations where everyone knows that the defendant is innocent, but
the crucial evidence has only been found after the 3rd retrial so he has to
die anyway. The 3x limit only applies to the prosecution (in cases where
the verdict was "not guilty"), in order to avoid a situation where someone
has to face trial every couple of months for the same crime.

> >>Me:
> >>Which decision of the 3 trials do we accept?
> >You:
> >The one that is best argued and supported by the most/hardest facts.

> That immediately brings to mind an obvious question, a question I have asked
> of you before but received no answer, a question so obvious I won't repeat it.

I don't know if this is what yo mean, but yes, I belief there are such things as
objective facts and well-argued cases. Without this assumption, there can
simply be no justice system.

All in all, the moral of the whole story is: PPAs and other anarcho-capitalist
goodies may be great in *theory*, but are in fact ivory tower productions that
don't take human nature into account and will thus fail as have many before
them. Most people are no libertarians, and have not the slightest intention
of becoming libertarians. Hell, many so-called "libertarians" are probably
wolves in sheep's clothing (or sheep in wolf's clothing) when it comes down
to it. If people want the state, well let them have it! You can always move
to a private island if you're really serious about your freedom, and later even
to outer space...Back on earth, I think a centralized and maybe somewhat
totalitarian system based on values of maximal freedom (allow anything as
long as no-one gets hurt without consent) is the best way to go. Utopic?
Sure. But not any more than anarcho capitalism. The former may fail because
of corruption of the leadership, while the latter fails because the common
man just ain't no libertarian (just like he ain't no communist either -- that's
why *that* idea failed).

I'll eat my cap if I'm wrong on this one.