Re: Property Rights

Michael S. Lorrey (
Mon, 24 May 1999 11:20:34 -0400

"O'Regan, Emlyn" wrote:

> I wrote:

> >Any good engineer knows that it is far easier to work with the forces
> >involved rather than try to combat them. Opposing natural forces is a
> >stressful, unstable, temporary thing. This is why free market capitalism
> >works best, it doesn't try to fight human nature, but it tries to take
> >advantage of it to fullfill all needs (including altruistic ones).
> >
> >We are learning with computing that evolved systems are capable of
> >becoming the most powerful systems ever, far beyond the capabilities of
> >targeted purposeful design.
> >
> >Extropy is not anti-evolution, but for enhanced evolution.
> >
> Actually, that's quite interesting. Enhanced evolution, yes, I can go
> with that (although as an interested observer, since evolution from the
> individual's perspective is all about being squashed like a bug, just
> ask a bug).

Evolution does not depend on the bug getting squashed, but upon a bug's mutation giving it the ability to AVOID getting squashed better than other bugs.

> My only problem with evolution is that it needs individual failure to
> work. I'm not really interested in failing (lethaly) for the good of the
> group, so I'm hoping there's a better way for humanity to move forward.

No it does not depend on failure. Evolution is all about success, not failure. Becoming more successful than others does not make those others failures.

> I would make the statement that the forms of capitalism currently
> practised in the world are not perfect. I hope others would agree. That
> is not to say that they are necessarily fataly flawed. Just imperfect.

  1. Nothing is perfect, so your criticism on that basis is worthless. So long as humans are involved no system will ever be perfect.
  2. Evolution of any type, and any economic system that is to survive adversity, catastrophe, and change, must be imperfect. There must be sufficient variation in the population of participants such that if some unforseen threat develops, only a portion of the participant population may be damaged or destroyed. The imperfection of these systems are their strengths, not their weakenesses.

> Then the concept of enhanced evolution, when applied to the market (as
> it would need to be, given imperfection), implies a path to "perfection"
> littered with the corpses of the "failures".

Not at all. You must be one of those people who believe that 'the rich get richer and the poor get poorer'. The fact is that in a mercantilist/capitalist economy like ours, the poor get richer too, just not as quickly as the rich do. In a more purely free market economy, the middle class tends to grow much more.

> >From the viewpoint of a long (infinitely long?) lived individual, there
> is a big flaw in the idea of a competitive system. The flaw is that we
> are all doomed to failure. If the probability of failure for us is
> greater than zero in an evolutionary "trial", then it must approach 1
> over time, as the number of trials increases. And the probability of
> failure in a trial must be greater than zero, if just to account for
> forces out of individual control.

Life is a trial with probability of failure greater than zero. Even if we acheived immortality, the average life span would be around 4600 years, due to the odds of accidental death that is unrevivable (typically severe brain damage). Too bad. Economically, even if you become the richest person on the planet, there are still going to be things you CANNOT buy.

> In my own individual, greedy, selfish way I think that this individual,
> greedy, selfish economic system is a bum-deal, because it dooms me to
> eventual (multiple) failure. If that failure can be fatal (and it can),
> then I'm really worried.

That's life. Even 'immortal' life is eventually fatal, as described above. I think though that this post of yours says more about your own confidence in your odds or capability of success than it does about the system you denigrate. Life is like a video game, it challenges you, eventually we all run out of quarters, and absolutely nobody gets a perfect score in this game, but its no fun if you refuse to play.

> Hey, maybe we could cooperate. Oops, I've been watching too much Sesame
> Street.

Or Pravda Street. Actually, capitalism is far more about cooperation than socialism or communism is, because every action is voluntary. In the communal systems, action is forced, which is not cooperation, but enslavement.

Mike Lorrey