AMG, statism, fuzzy thinking, etc.

Perry E. Metzger (
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 11:07:43 -0400 (EDT)

I have no problem in principle with the existance of statists like
AMG. AMG is free to continue believing his attempts and those of
others to regulate people's lives to be "good for them" or whatever he
wishes. On the other hand, I'd frankly prefer that he not hang around
here if that's what he believes.

Occassionally, I find it interesting to actually debate things with
statists. That is to say, I occassionally enjoy demolishing their
arguments, and since their arguments are nearly always very poor, this
is not very stressful. However, I tend to pick the time and place for
such things when *I* wish to do so, not when others do.

The question has been brought up "is this a clubhouse or a recruitment
effort". It's obviously a clubhouse, or at least was originally
intended as such. I must admit that the original intent might not
matter, and that many institutions evolve and that answering a fuzzy
non-eprime question like "what IS this thing we call the extropians
list" isn't even possible.

However, for those that care what my original intent was, back in the
mists of time, when I asked Max for permission to open the doors on
the electronic discussion ground for readers of "Extropy" magazine,
I'll re-iterate it:

The world is a big, dark cold place full of statists, deathists,
Rifkinites, etc. Every day, all of us do battle with that world, in
greater or lesser ways. Every once in a while, its nice to kick off
the shoes and have some intelligent discussion with people who
basically agree with you. There are VAST areas of unexplored terrain
just within the "extropian sphere". How *do* you deal effectively
with things like the defense problem in an anarchist framework? What
are possible strategies for creating the first assemblers? Are there
nootropics that are actually of real use? (Those just off the top of
my head without any real pause for thinking.) Sure there are places
for discussing all this stuff elsewhere, but they are vastly
outnumbered by the number of places where even mentioning you're an
anarchist or mentioning you are trying to live at least as long as
the unverse continues will get you hostility.

There is also the issue of pure cameraderie. Simon Levy recently
mentioned to me that the biggest tangible long-term benefit to him of
the Extropians mailing lists was the set of long term friendships he
forged through it with like-minded people, and I tend to agree with
him there. I can meet statists like AMG any time or place I like --
how easy is it, though, to meet fellow anarchocryonicists?

Lastly, there are a lot of things I've legitimately learned through
exposure to lots of other smart people who basically share my world
view, and lots of opportunities I've gained over time to refine my
ideas and in some cases alter or abandon them. Although one might not
think it, my viewpoints on a lot of topics, and many of my practical
every-day attitudes, changed a lot because of my exposure to smart
people who were coming from the same direction but who disagreed with
me on particular points.

There is nothing wrong with "recruitment" and such, but there are
valid functions in the world for both places where one debates ideas
like the extropian world view and for places where one kicks back and
relaxes with one's fellow extropians. This is not to say that the
extropian world view should be a dogmatic fixed set of ideas
unamenable to debate or change, but only that *CONSTANT* debate about
things people already basically have their views set on is tiresome,
and one wants a place to get away from it periodically. An idea set
that is defended from questioning is doomed to become an encrusted
dogma, but one doesn't want to spend every minute of one's entire life
questioning every premise, either.

Andrea (as she so often does -- thank goodness we have a rational head
or two about) points out that I'm perhaps romanticizing the turbulent
past of the list and that there has ALWAYS been conflict between the
periodic interloper who thought that democratic socialism was the
bee's knees or some such, and that we shouldn't think there ever was a
"golden age". Fair enough. However, whether or not in the past we had
less or more "junk" posted isn't ultimately important -- what is
important is "what do we want". [As an aside, although I remember the
problem being smaller years ago, I must admit that my memory isn't
what it once was -- oh, for a limitless solid state infrastructure
instead of this limited cranium full of squishy neurons!]