Re: Where we lost America

From: Alex F. Bokov (
Date: Sat Oct 27 2001 - 19:58:32 MDT


Perhaps the role of anarcho-whateveritists is as the loyal opposition,
the foil to concentrations of power... but to be effective at that, we
cannot focus solely on governments and ignore the other main power
base in our world. That's the main point.

On Sat, 27 Oct 2001, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:

> Oh great. Lets kick the big corporations and big government again.
> How many corporations do you think there are that could afford to
> spend $100 Million on the development of an entirely new computer
> architecture such as Blue Gene. How many governments are farsighted

This is what I call the Apollo Argument, which is what prevented me
from accepting anarcho-libertarian memes until late into my college
years. The argument is: "Could anarchists have pulled off the Apollo

Observing the spontaneous emergence of the open source movement, we
now have an answer for this question: "Yes, anarchists can create
things of a complexity on the same order as the Apollo Program,
provided the barriers to entry are sufficiently low."

> enough to spend $75 Million constructing a Terascale/TeraGrid
> supercomputer and make it available to academics? How many
> *individuals* are sufficently educated in the United States that
> they would be able to effectively or optimally allocate their tax
> dollars between the NIH and the DoD??? You are an Extropian (presumably)

Hey! Hey now.

> and that means you want to optimize the production of complexity.
> Extending lives does that -- but you have to do that by balancing
> the allocation of resources against resisting those unthinking
> microbes trying to rob you for reproductive materials with the thinking
> efforts of people who are trying to destroy you because you disagree
> with their fundamental philosophies.

I know what you're saying, and it's a dilemma I struggle with, and
have raised in earlier posts. It boils down to: under a perfect free
market system, without entrenched interests, corruption, bureaucracy,
ignorance, and friction resources would be distributed far more evenly
than they are now... however, are we sure that equal distribution won't
result in *slower* progress toward extropic goals?

I don't have a comprehensive answer for this.

One response is that just as desires that are pointless outside the
the context of their evolutionary origins motivate humans,
corporations can be equally short-sighted and equally capable of
blundering into a giant civilizational dead-end. Perhaps more so,
given that their power appears to increase faster than their vision.

Another response is that the interests backing the status quo are
sufficiently powerful to prevent a shift all the way to the "people's
capitalism" extreme where everybody is a perfectly rational, perfectly
well-informed individual actor and there are no inefficiencies that
can be profitably exploited, so nobody even tries to innovate. I'm not
even sure we've analyzed this hypothetical extreme correctly.

Also, note that I'm not against corporations. Until we have an eBay of
labor, resources, and ideas, (aka one big emergent corporation) they
serve a purpose. I am only against corporate personhood. I am also
questioning limited shareholder liability, though I don't feel that
I'm sufficiently informed on shareholder liability to have a strong
opinion at this time.

> *HOW* do you expect the average American to be able to make informed
> decisions with regard to that? Can you make the case that an
> "uninformed" decision is optimially extropic?

The same emergent collective intelligence that (if the assumptions
of anarcho-capitalism are correct) allows stockholders to assess the
prospects of a publicly traded company, and that allows consumers to
set a fair price for a good sold on the free market.

> I'm going to cite one of the Islamic cleric's, I think from the U.K.,
> who in the light the recent attacks realized that his positions were
> unjustifiable. Blanket criticisms of the U.S. were potentially
> inflamatory and therefore likely to be counterproductive. The
> same could be said for criticisms of multi-national corporations
> or "big" government.
> State *precisely* what you think is wrong.

The media (in the West) being an oligopoly rather than a free market,
making it difficult to be informed about world events in an unbiased

The private sector's effective power to censor its critics.


Government and corporate attempts to curtail free electronic speech,
free electronic assembly, and freedom from unreasonable electronic
search and siezure, threatening to do to the internet precisely what
they have done to the radio spectrum (in the name of copyright
protection, anti-terrorism, war on drugs, protecting children,

The very concept of a victimless crime.

There being more of an incentive to pass new laws than to repeal
obsolete ones.

An ongoing assault on second ammendment rights.

No measurable criteria for evaluating the CIA's and State Department's
progress toward their supposed goals of making the world safe for
democracy and free markets.

The entrenchment of priviledge threatening to get numerous markets
(e.g. software, labor, music) stuck in local minima.

The fact that legal protections against being fired for reasons
unrelated to the quality of your work are weak (except perhaps on the
basis of race, sex, and religion... and those sure were long in coming
and not Constitutionally guaranteed-- for chrissakes they had to use
the INTERSTATE COMMERCE CLAUSE to push some of these protections
through!)... and there will never be legal protections for people who
feel their boss is paid too much or has a lousy taste in ties.

> State *precisely* what you think might be a solution.

I'm looking for them, like many here are.

Some possible solutions:

1. Crypto, anonymity, and anonymous e-cash.
2. Jury's power of nullification.
3. In a way the Extropian Fire Drill-- not all triggering conditions
would necesserily be external ones.
4. Petitioning to revoke the charters of corporations, and placing the
burden on them to prove that they contribute to the "public good"
5. Reexamining the enforceability and usefulness of intellectual
property laws.

> I suspect there are many more construction workers than molecular
> biologists or military officers in the U.S.A. [This is not intended
> as any comment towards construction workers on the list]. Will
> someone here who is in the anti-corporate, anti-government camp
> *please* explain to me how having the construction workers vote on
> how much of their tax dollars get collected or where those tax dollars
> get spent (if they get collected and spent at all) is going to result
> in a greater extropic vector in health care *or* defense than the
> current system?
> This, to me, is the fundamental problem with libertarianism is that
> there is an *implicit* assumption that a free market economy is
> optimal. But a free market economy is one that is primarily in ones
> own self-interest -- and *most* peoples' own "self-interest" (predisposed
> by genes, warped by social experiences) *DOES NOT* remotely resemble
> an extropic idea platform. Lets be realistic -- humans are programmed
> for survival, sex and fun -- not complexification.

This is a question I don't have the answer to. However, if it takes an
enlightened caste to guide these construction workers toward a better
world, things look bleak. Not that we wouldn't make a competent (and
entertaning) ruling class... but the job is already taken, by
individuals more ruthless and less visionary than us. Individuals who
think locally and act globally... construction workers in posession of
nuclear launch codes.

> Note -- I am not arguing the current system is "optimal". I *am*
> arguing that the current system is better than a 1 person = 1 vote
> system where the average person gets to vote on things they are
> ill-qualified to evaluate.

I don't know. I look forward to learning a lot in the giant thread
that's sure to spawn off on this topic.

> In preparation for the criticisms -- yes, scientists could spend
> more time educating people so they want to support their efforts.
> But there is only so much time in a day and the time one spends
> educating individuals uneducated in ones area of expertise is time
> that cannot be spent exercising that expertise productively.

Hell, scientists barely have time to educate the grad students they're
tasked with right now.

> I believe I've stated it before, perhaps in alternate forms, and
> I'll state it again. If you want to vote on it you have to be able
> to demonstrate sufficient knowledge to cast such votes in a considered
> and rational manner. *THAT* is what extropianism is about.

But then you're faced with the dilemma on whom to put on the
evaluation committee.

Actually, peer review might hold the answer. For instance on the
various slash-sites, you don't get to vote on other people's posts
unless enough people have voted for *your* posts, and there are
multiple tiers of membership. Meta-democracy.

> Just because your atoms happen to be organized in the form of a
> "human being" doesn't inherently give you extropic voting rights
> in my book (and Anders can come down on me all he wants for this
> statement). One has to demonstrate that one isn't inherently
> un-extropic (e.g. bin Laden) and then further demonstrate an
> extropic behavior history before one gets to cast votes in an
> extropic allocation of resources (at least IMO).

Well, in a anarchistic milieau, nothing prevents many Extropians from
pooling their resources and reallocating them to the most Extropic
ends, with votes weighted according to expertise and reputation. Or
at least, that's what I'd argue if I had a blind faith in anarchy.

> (I will add that there are many people on this list that I would
> willingly defer to with regard to an extropic allocation of some of
> the resources I might contribute to the pool. As I've suggested
> in other threads it all goes back to trust relationships -- who
> do you trust to allocate your resources responsibly? Speaking
> honestly -- I do not have the knowledge of, or interest in, many
> areas to know how to optimally allocate resources for those areas.
> I would much rather delegate this responsibility to someone with
> the expertise who can be trusted to handle the job responsibly.)

Ditto here on not having knowledge to allocate resources extropically.
A market can be a trust network as well, though. Your level of trust
for an individual is reflected in discounts or premiums in the price
you agree on. But whatever would be better-- government by Slashdot,
government by market forces, government by direct vote on absolutely
everything... it cannot evolve without displacing or
disintermediating our current quasi-democracy. It could evolve in an
anarchy (then again so could Mafiosi and Warlords, and probably

- --
* I believe that the majority of the world's Muslims are good, *
* honorable people. If you are a Muslim and want to reassure me and *
* others that you are part of this good, honorable majority, all *
* you need to say are nine simple words: "I OPPOSE the Wahhabi cult *
* and its Jihad." *

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