Re: Frustration with politics explained

Geoff Smith (
Sun, 12 Oct 1997 12:52:11 -0700 (PDT)

On Sun, 12 Oct 1997, Dan Clemmensen wrote:

> Thanks for all the interesting commentary on this subject.
> It has helped me to clarify the nature of my frustration.
> First, while I'm not a libertarian, I'm not opposed to
> libertarian philosophy, either. My problem with political
> theory and economic theory is general, not directed toward
> any particular brand. My problem is that these fields
> do not appear to be based on any agreed-upon set of
> fundamental facts. They differ from disciplines such
> as physics, chemistry, biology, and geology, which each
> have an agreed-upon basis. Economics and politics
> are in the same category of fuzzy science with psychology
> and sociology.

I'm not sure I can totally agree with this statement. Politics is fuzzy,
no question about it; however, many concepts in economics are built on
strong empirical evidence, just like physics and chemistry. Economists
even employ the scientific method in the same way. First, you form a
hypothesis, then you gather data with multiple variables(say the
equilibrium price of two goods, their supply, etc...), then you graph or
compare those variables to look for a relationship. Any statement you
make connecting those variables is just as strong as a statement
connecting two variables in physics and chemistry.(as long as your
conclusions are verified by multiple sources, just like in other sciences)
It doesn't take a bunch of complicated graphs to see that any intervention
in the free market will cause it to be inefficient. There's nothing fuzzy
about that. What's fuzzy is the politics: when people say intervening in
the market is *worth* the inefficiencies that is causes.(for the sake of
human rights? for the sake of people dying in the streets?) To me, that's
pretty fuzzy!

> In my opinion, we will continue to disagree about these
> subjects, and we will have difficulty making any progress,
> until we have an underlying theory with the same predictive
> power as evolution in biology, atom theory in chemistry,
> or Newton's laws in physics, and plate tectonics in geology.

I would say it economics this is possible. In politics, it is

> Since this is true, debate makes little progress. Therefore
> we (humanity) should spend our time on technical progress.
> This will generate the tools we need to develop more intelligence.
> We (or our successors) can then figure out the appropriate
> underlying theories for what are now the fuzzy sciences.

I don't think figuring out the fundamentals of economics takes a
super-intelligence; however, extrapolating current economics trends up to
the singularity does.

> There are two types of political commentary that are IMO
> appropriate to this list. The first relates to short-term
> political activities that affect the short-term rate of
> technical progress. For example, an attempt to ban research
> on faster computers, or to outlaw strong cryptography, may
> qualify.

Yes. I agree, this is something I would like to see more of on the list.
"Ten things you can do to live an anaracho-capitalist life now!" What are
the current, practical things we can do to not be hypocritical against our
politics(or lack of politics) I would like to *make the assumption* that
anarcho-capitalism/libertarianism is the best system, and go from there.

For example, if the government out of the blue offers me a big grant to do
scientific research, do I say "No, I think scientific research should be
funded by private corporations" or do I say "Okay, I'm just getting all
the money back that I pay in taxes" or "I can put this money to better
use than someone else can." Any ideas?

> The second type depends on a belief that the nature
> of our successors may depend on our current non-technical
> beliefs or actions. If you feel that individualism is
> important and you want our successor civilization to include
> individuals, you may wish to discuss how to bring this about.
> Note, an "individualism is good" post is IMO useless. A post
> discussing ways to guide the nacent cizilization toward
> individualism may be useful.

Which goes along the lines of something John Clark once said (I
paraphrase) : "Anarcho-capitalism has become feasible because we have the
technology to maintain it." This statement says we have the *potential*
to maintain an anarchy, but how do we actually do it. Albania(I think)
had an anarchy in the last year(due to a bunch of collapsed pyramid
schemes), but it disappeared. Why?