Re: Liberty vs. Extropy

Raymond G. Van De Walker (
Tue, 25 May 1999 23:01:27 PDT

On Mon, 24 May 1999 11:47:55 -0500 "Billy Brown" <> writes:
>The other fundamental barrier I see is the problem of restraining the
>use of force in the anarchist society. The problem is that market
>are the only available means for restraining violence in an anarchy . .

But the market is powerful. I read about historical and current anarchic economic systems that regulate force by means of boycotts: The Law Merchant did this, and still does. For example, if a government refuses to repay foreign loans, my understanding is that currency traders then boycott that country. The result is that the country becomes unable to trade. Sovereignty is irrelevant.

Likewise, boycotts can sanction merchants and banks, under the administration of commercial arbiters.

Boycotting sounds lame until you can' t buy food, shelter or ammunition.

>We've got some of the 'low-hanging fruit', but we are still far short
>of the point of diminishing returns.

Economically, I agree. Socially, I'm not so sure. I still see many problems caused by the goal-free nature of our government. Our government, for example, is not even sure that a long life is good, let alone an intelligent electorate. What's the likely response to real transhumans !?

<snip stuff about liberty not providing guidance>

> As a purely political philosophy this is actually a
>strength - it means that anyone who recognizes individual rights and
>human fallibility can take part in the system, regardless of the details
>their personal ethics.

Sure, but wishy-washy forms of utilitarian ethics offer wide appeal with positive guidance thrown in for free. E.g. many arguments that support libertarian reform are- utilitarian, not libertarian. E.g. when someone
argues that we should be libertarian because it's more efficient, that's a utilitarian
argument, because it promises more benefits from less work. Likewise when someone promotes an ethical system as more promotable, that's a variation of the efficiency argument, and thus- utilitarian.

I speculate that you might be a closet utilitarian! Consider yourself outed!

Libertarian ethics -are- less likely to offend, but they also seem less flexible at suggesting reforms, precisely because real libertarians are pinned to a
framework of principles based on a theory of natural rights.

I think that ethics based on natural rights give base men rhetorical advantages over honest men. I think that most people sense natural rights by sentiment. Sentiments are real, but can easily be distorted by rhetoric. Honest orators won't do this, but base orators will not hesitate, and a political system based on natural rights is really too tempting to honest men.

So, to me the whole structure of libertarian ethics looks perilously flimsy, subject to manipulation by orators. And, in fact, I think that this is what happened in the U.S. over the last 200 years.

Rational self-interest, on the other hand, is -much- harder to confuse.

>Actually, it would be illegal for you to build or operate a spacecraft
> you need a few tens of thousands of pages worth of permits and
>before you'll be allowed to play with toys like that.

*sigh* I thought that it had gotten better with the legislation that centralized it in the Dept. of Commerce, but you may well be right.

Ray Van De Walker

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