Re: Free Markets: Extro-Nazi's or Extro-Saints

Hagbard Celine (
Thu, 11 Sep 1997 01:44:10 -0400

Holly Pearson wrote:

> Hagbard Wrote:
> People are stockholders in corporations. As corporations do well, so
> do their stockholders. You're funny. You care about the people you are
> obsoleting? Stake your claim now, the moral high ground is disappearing
> fast! But you don't care that much, right? Or else, you wouldn't be doing
> it, would you? I think a social conscience is just that, a social
> conscience. It has zero praxis. Its easy to feel bad about "plights." What is
> your guilt accomplishing?
> Me: Its accomplishing quite a bit! I think my guilt, to what degree I
> have any, is having the encourage to see these problems which many on
> this list are too afraid to acknowledge even exists (I hear Marie
> Antoinette again).

Exactly my point. Your guilt is accomplishing quite a bit for yourself,
but little for anyone else.

But you neglect the point I was initially making which is that
corporations have stockholders. To make money you have to start
somewhere. Do you agree that anyone with a little money can buy a few
shares of stock?

Then you wrote:

> Hagbard: Again, the fact that you *DO* care about the majority of
> humanity is useless.
> Me: You should be ashamed to call yourself Hagbard (after the
> Illuminatus! Character I presume). The real Hagbard cared very deeply about
> the state of humanity. Tell me, how is caring about ones fellow human
> beings useless?

For the record, Hagbard Celine (from RAW, as you so astutely fingered)
is, inter alia, a pragmatic-idealist. When I say useless, I mean
non-utilitarian. Your initial post was an exercise in sanctimony --
idealism for the sake of idealism. It made several proclamations,
without ever saying anything with utility in relation to your view on
the "plight" of humanity. This is what I am taking issue with --
idealism without praxis is useless. Do you disagree?

> My compassion has led me to several projects that have
> directly benefited people - including my stint with Habitat for Humanity
> and the Peace Corps.

Well, now we're getting somewhere. Here, you have found praxis. You've
allayed a measure of your guilt for the time being with altruism. I
don't have a problem with this, and in fact, give you credit for
admitting that your guilt was the reason. So then, given that I value
extropy and do care about humanity, what should I do?

> Hagbard: Free-market not needed by the people? What is your
> alternative? I mean there's pure communalism, pure capitalism and all the fuzzy
> gradations in between. Take your pick.
> Me: If there is no third alternative then we are in big trouble!

Okay, I'm operating here from what I know. If you know of another
alternative (Eliezer has been considering this as well) please let me in
on it. If you know of no other alternative, and have no ideas
germinating, then you are wasting bandwidth with mere proclamations.
Maybe you'd like to outline your view of the ideal economic system, or
at least the values that such a system would uphold?

> Hagbard: Holly, you must have missed my earlier post (actually, this
> morning), on Godwin's Law of Nazi Apologies. What little credibility you
> might've had just went out the window in my eyes.
> Me: I just signed up on this list today, so I missed your post. If
> you base a persons credibility on one post then you are very shallow
> person indeed.

Here's a summary of my earlier post:

In a Wired magazine article, Mike Godwin from the Electronic Frontier
Foundation described his efforts in memetics, watching ideologies
replicate from Internet-based communities into society-at-large. He
formulated "Godwin's Law of Nazi Apologies" which states "As an online
discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis
or Hitler approaches one." He cites also Cliff Stoll, author of "The
Cuckoo's Egg" as "..the law that states that once a discussion reaches a
comparison to Nazis or Hitler, it's usefulness is

I was referring to your bipolar characterization of extropian thought --
either saintly or Nazi. By Godwin's law, a discussion reaches a
non-utilitarian point when the Nazi comparison is made. You didn't
explicitly call extropians Nazis, but you did insinuate that it was
possible. And this at the very end of ONLY ONE POST! You lost
credibility by suggesting, after one day on the list, that I might be
capable of genocide. That is no substitute for cogent argument, agreed?

Boat drinks,