Thursday, July 17, 2008 92 Comments

OLXIV: rules for reactionaries

Dear open-minded progressive, I hope you've enjoyed this weird excursion.

We all like to think we have open minds, but only a few of us are tough enough to snort any strange powder that's shoved under our noses. You have joined that elite crew. Fourteen weeks ago you may have been a mere space cadet. Today you are at least a space lieutenant, perhaps even a captain or a major. And what fresh galaxies remain to explore!

UR will return on August 14, 2008. But first: the solution.

Well, first the problem. This is a blog, after all. We can't really expect everyone to have read all the back issues. Repetition is a necessity, and a virtue as well. A true space lieutenant, surprised by the Slime Beast of Vega, has his acid blaster on full-auto and is pumping a massive drug bolus into its sticky green hide before he even knows what's happening. His reaction is not thought, but drill - the apotheosis of practice.

Our problem is democracy. Democracy is a dangerous, malignant form of government which tends to degenerate, sometimes slowly and sometimes with shocking, gut-wrenching speed, into tyranny and chaos. You've been taught to worship democracy. This is because you are ruled by democracy. If you were ruled by the Slime Beast of Vega, you would worship the Slime Beast of Vega. (A more earthly comparison is Communism or "people's democracy," whose claim to be a more advanced form of its Western cousin was perfectly accurate - if we mean "advanced" in the sense of, say, "advanced leukemia.")

There are two problems with democracy: the first-order and the second-order.

The first-order problem: since a governed territory is capital, ie, a valuable asset, it generates revenue. Participation in government is also the definition of power, which all men and quite a few women crave. At its best, democracy is an permanent, gunless civil war for this gigantic pot of money and power. (At its worst, the guns come out.) Any democratic faction has an incentive to mismanage the whole to enlarge its share.

Without quite understanding this problem, Noah Webster, in his 1794 pamphlet on the French Revolution, described its symptoms perfectly. Webster was writing during the quasi-monarchist Federalist restoration, when Americans had convinced themselves that it was possible to create a republic without political parties. The Federalists held "faction" to be the root of all democratic evils - much as their progressive successors are constantly yearning for a "post-partisan" democracy. Both are right. But complaining that democracy is too political is like complaining that the Slime Beast of Vega is too slimy.

Webster wrote:
As the tendency of such associations is probably not fully understood by most of the persons composing them in this country, and many of them are doubtless well-meaning citizens; it may be useful to trace the progress of party spirit to faction first, and then of course to tyranny.
[...]
My second remark is, that contention between parties is usually violent in proportion to the trifling nature of the point in question; or to the uncertainty of its tendency to promote public happiness. When an object of great magnitude is in question, and its utility obvious, a great majority is usually found in its favor, and vice versa; and a large majority usually quiets all opposition. But when a point is of less magnitude or less visible utility, the parties may be and often are nearly equal. Then it becomes a trial of strength — each party acquires confidence from the very circumstance of equality — both become assured they are right — confidence inspires boldness and expectation of success — pride comes in aid of argument — the passions are inflamed — the merits of the cause become a subordinate consideration — victory is the object and not public good; at length the question is decided by a small majority — success inspires one party with pride, and they assume the airs of conquerors; disappointment sours the minds of the other — and thus the contest ends in creating violent passions, which are always ready to enlist into every other cause. Such is the progress of party spirit; and a single question will often give rise to a party, that will continue for generations; and the same men or their adherents will continue to divide on other questions, that have not the remotest connection with the first point of contention.

This observation gives rise to my third remark ; that nothing is more dangerous to the cause of truth and liberty than a party spirit. When men are once united, in whatever form, or upon whatever occasion, the union creates a partiality or friendship for each member of the party or society. A coalition for any purpose creates an attachment, and inspires a confidence in the individuals of the party, which does not die with the cause which united them; but continues, and extends to every other object of social intercourse.

Thus we see men first united in some system of religious faith, generally agree in their political opinions. Natives of the same country, even in a foreign country, unite and form a separate private society. The Masons feel attached to each other, though in distant parts of the world.

The same may be said of Episcopalians, Quakers, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Federalists, and Antifederalists, mechanic societies, chambers of commerce, Jacobin and Democratic societies. It is altogether immaterial what circumstance first unites a number of men into a society; whether they first rally round the church, a square and compass, a cross, or a cap; the general effect is always the same; while the union continues, the members of the association feel a particular confidence in each other, which leads them to believe each other's opinions, to catch each other's passions, and to act in concert on every question in which they are interested.

Hence arises what is called bigotry or illiberality. Persons who are united on any occasion, are more apt to believe the prevailing opinions of their society, than the prevailing opinions of another society. They examine their own creeds more fully, (and perhaps with a mind predisposed to believe them), than they do the creeds of other societies. Hence the full persuasion in every society that theirs is right; and if I am right, others of course are wrong. Perhaps therefore I am warranted in saying, there is a species of bigotry in every society on earth — and indeed in every man's own particular faith. While each man and each society is freely indulged in his own opinion, and that opinion is mere speculation, there is peace, harmony, and good understanding. But the moment a man or a society attempts to oppose the prevailing opinions of another man or society, even his arguments rouse passion; it being difficult for two men of opposite creeds to dispute for any time, without becoming angry. And when one party attempts in practice to interfere with the opinions of another party, violence most generally succeeds.
Note that Webster (a) assumes that the problem of factions is solvable; (b) assumes that voters start with a generally accurate understanding of the problem of government, which will generate the right answer on all important questions; (c) assumes that voters will not form coalitions for the mere sordid purpose of looting the state, ie, "achieving social justice;" and (d), of course, demonstrates the correct or dictionary definition of the word bigotry.

All these assumptions, which in 1794 were at least plausible, are now anything but. (And our modern bigots are as diverse as can be.) Yet the juggernaut of democracy rolls on. New excuses are needed, new excuses are found.

This leads us to the second-order problem. While democracy may start with a population of voters who understand the art of government, as America indeed did (the extent to which 18th-century Americans understood the basic principles of practical government, while hardly perfect, was mindboggling by today's standards), it seldom stays that way. Its fans believe that participation in the democratic process actually improves the mental qualities of the citizen. I suppose this is true - for certain values of the words "improves."

The real problem with democracies is that in the long run, a democratic government elects its own people. I refer, of course, to Brecht's verse:
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
One way to elect a new people is to import them, of course. For example, to put it bluntly, the Democratic Party has captured California, once a Republican stronghold, by importing arbitrary numbers of Mexicans. Indeed the Third World is stocked with literally billions of potential Democrats, just waiting to come to America so that Washington can buy their votes. Inner Party functionaries cackle gleefully over this achievement. (BTW, isn't that photo of Frank Rich amazing? Doesn't it just radiate pure power and contempt? Henry VIII would probably have asked the painter to make him look less like Xerxes, King of Kings.)

But this act of brutal Machiavellian thug politics, larded as usual with the most gushing of sentimental platitudes, is picayune next to the ordinary practice of democratic governments: to elect a new people by re-educating the children of the old. In the long run, power in a democracy belongs to its information organs: the press, the schools, and most of all the universities, who mint the thoughts that the others plant. For simplicity, we have dubbed this complex the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is a feedback loop. It has no center, no master planners. Everyone, even the Sulzbergers, is replaceable. In a democracy, mass opinion creates power. Power diverts funds to the manufacturers of opinion, who manufacture more, etc. Not a terribly complicated cycle.

This feedback loop generates a playing field on which the most competitive ideas are not those which best correspond to reality, but those which produce the strongest feedback. The Cathedral is constantly electing a new people who (a) support the Cathedral more and more, and (b) support a political system which makes the Cathedral stronger and stronger.

For example, libertarian policies are not competitive in the Cathedral, because libertarianism minimizes employment for public-policy experts. Thus we would expect libertarians to come in two flavors: the intellectually marginalized, and the intellectually compromised.

Many of the LvMI types feel quite free to be skeptical of democracy. But they are skipping quite a few steps between problem and solution. They are still thinking in the democratic tense. Their plan for achieving libertarianism, if it can be described as a plan, is to convince as many people as possible that libertarian policies are good ones. These will then elect libertarian politicians, etc, etc.

When you say, I am a libertarian, what you mean is: I, as a customer of government, prefer to live in a state which does not apply non-libertarian policies. The best results in this line will be achieved by capturing a state yourself, and becoming its Supreme Ruler. Then no bureaucrats will bother you! Given that most of us are not capable of this feat, and given that the absence of government is a military impossibility, the libertarian should search for a structure of government in which the state has no incentive to apply non-libertarian policies. Obviously, democracy is not such a structure.

Thus a libertarian democracy is simply an engineering contradiction, like a flying whale or a water-powered car. Water is a lot cheaper than gas, and I think a flying whale would make a wonderful pet - I could tether it to my deck, perhaps. Does it matter? Defeating democracy is difficult; making democracy libertarian is impossible. The difference is subtle, but...

Worse, the most competitive ideas in the democratic feedback loop tend to be policies which are in fact counterproductive - that is, they actually cause the problem they pretend to be curing. They are quack medicines. They keep the patient coming back.

For example, Britain today is suffering from an "epidemic" of "knife crime." To wit: every day in Great Britain, 60 people are stabbed or mugged with a knife. (Admire, for a moment, the passive voice. Presumably the knifes are floating disembodied in the air, directing themselves with Jedi powers.) The solution:
On Tuesday, Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will publish her Youth Crime Action Plan. It includes a proposal to make young offenders visit casualty wards to examine knife wounds in an attempt to shock them into mending their ways.
I swear I am not making this up. Meanwhile, experts agree, prison terms should be abolished for minor crimes, such as burglary:
The Independent Sentencing Advisory Panel also said that there should be a presumption that thieves, burglars and anyone convicted of dishonesty should not receive a jail term.
I'm sure that'll help. Scientists around the world conclude:
It takes a multi-level approach to prevention. If you want to approach violence protection with juveniles, you need to engage in prevention early on – with social skills and anger coping lessons in schools from a young age.
The real experts, of course, are the yoofs themselves:
However, the government should be praised for not taking an automatically authoritarian approach. Their policy of getting young people to talk to stabbing victims rests on the belief that kids respond to education and are capable of empathy, something that the Conservative policy of locking anyone up caught carrying a knife doesn't seem to appreciate.
To say the least. It wouldn't be the first time the narrow-minded have defied scientific research:
But researchers at Manchester University's school of law found evidence which directly contradicts core assumptions of government policy.

Having spoken to and won the trust of more than 100 gang members, associates and informers, they concluded that in general gangs are not tightly organised; they do not specialise in dealing drugs; and their violence is not provoked primarily by turf wars. They also found no basis for the popular belief that most street gangs are black.
Robert Ralphs, the project's lead fieldworker, said: "Police and other statutory agencies respond to gangs as clearly identifiable groups of criminally-involved young people, where membership is undisputed.

"In reality, gangs are loose, messy, changing friendship networks - less organised and less criminally active than widely believed - with unclear, shifting and unstable leadership."

By failing to understand this basic structure, the researchers say, police mistakenly target and sometimes harass individuals who, though gang members, are not breaking any law; the police also repeatedly follow, stop and search the gang members' family, friends and classmates. This alienated both the gang members and their associates who might otherwise have helped police.
[...]
Judith Aldridge, who led the research, said: "They are mainly victims. So, there is a desperate need to appropriately assess the needs of these young people and their families - and not blame them."
Etc. I'm sure none of this is new to you. Britain makes such a wonderful example, however, because its descent into Quaker-thug hell is so fresh, and proceeded from such a height. Witness, for example, this lovely story from the Times archive, which is barely 50 years old - "in the lives of those now living," unless of course they have since been stabbed:
JUDGE ON RACE GANG WARFARE

7-YEAR SENTENCES

Two men were each sentenced at Central Criminal Court yesterday to seven years' imprisonment for their part in an attack on John Frederick Carter, fruit trader of Sydney Square, Glengall Road, Peckham, who received injuries to his face and head which required 60 stitches.

They were Raymond David Rosa, aged 31, bookmaker's clerk, of Northborough Road, Norbury, S.W., and Richard Frett, aged 34, dealer, of Wickstead House, Falmouth Road, S.E. The jury had found them both guilty of wounding Carter with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm.

Passing sentence, Mr. Justice Donovan said: "I have not the least doubt that there are other and very wicked persons behind you, but the tools of those persons must realize that if discovery follows punishment will be condign."

"MORE LIKE CHICAGO"

Summing up yesterday, his Lordship said that the facts of this case sounded more like Chicago and the worst days of prohibition than London in 1956.

Putting two and two together, the jury might think this was another case of race gang warfare. If that were so, then it raised the question of whether the reluctance of Mr. and Mrs. Carter to swear that the two men they had previously picked out were concerned in the attack was due to fear. It was that possibility which put this case into quite a different category. It put it into a category where gross violence had been perpetrated upon a man but after identifying his assailants he and his wife had expressed doubts in the witness-box. The jury were not concerned with the merits or de-merits of Carter. The issue was much wider than Carter's skin: it was simply one of the maintenance of law and order without which none could go about with safety.
Etc, etc. Notice that both of these miscreants are in possession of at least nominal occupations. Mr. Justice Donovan, honey, with all due respect, you don't know nothin' 'bout no "race gang warfare."

And finally, completing our tour of the British criminal justice system, we learn that:
Two South Africans who overstayed their British visas were jailed for life on Friday for the murders of two men strangled during a series of violent muggings.

Gabriel Bhengu, 27, and Jabu Mbowane, 26, will be deported after serving life sentences.
No, that's not a misprint:
A life sentence normally lasts around 15 years.
Orwell could not be more satisfied. "A life sentence normally lasts around 15 years." With not a hint of irony in the building. "A life sentence normally lasts around 15 years."

Something is normal here, and it is either 1956 or 2008. It can't be both. If Mr. Justice Donovan, or the Times reporter who considered a mere 60 stitches somehow newsworthy, were to reappear in modern London, their perspective on the art of government in a democratic society unchanged, they would be far to the right not only of Professor Aldridge, but also of the Tories, the BNP, and perhaps even Spearhead. They would not be normal people. But in 1956, their reactions were completely unremarkable.

What's happened is that Britain, which before WWII was still in many respects an aristocracy, became Americanized and democratized after the war. As a democracy, it elected its own people, who now tolerate what their grandparents would have found unimaginable. Of course, many British voters, probably even most, still do believe that burglars should go to prison, etc, etc, but these views are on the way out, and the politics of love is on the way in. Politicians, who are uniformly devoid of character or personality, have the good sense to side with the future electorate rather than with the past electorate.

And why are the studies of Professor Aldridge and her ilk so successful, despite their obvious effects? One: they result in a tremendous level of crime, which generates a tremendous level of funding for "criminologists." Two: they are counterintuitive, ie, obviously wrong. No one would pay a "social scientist" to admit the obvious. Three: as per Noah Webster, they appeal to the ruling class simply because they are so abhorrent to the ruled class.

And four: they are not disprovable, because if pure, undiluted Quaker love ever becomes the only way for British civilization to deal with its ferals, they won't leave much of Professor Aldridge. She might, like Judith Todd, regard her suffering as a Christlike badge of distinction. She would certainly, like Ms. Todd, express no guilt over her actions. But it won't happen, because Britain will retain the unprincipled exceptions and the few rough men it needs to keep it from the abyss for the indefinite future. And for that same future, Professor Aldridge and her like will be able to explain the debacle in terms of the "cycle of violence." As Chesterton put it:
We have actually contrived to invent a new kind of hypocrite. The old hypocrite, Tartuffe or Pecksniff, was a man whose aims were really worldly and practical, while he pretended that they were religious.The new hypocrite is one whose aims are really religious, while he pretends that they are worldly and practical.
From the perspective of the customer of government, however, it is irrelevant why these events happen. What matters is that they do happen, and that they do not have to happen. If statistics did not confirm that stabbings in London were not, in the lives of those now living, a routine event, that Times article should be sufficient. (In fact, I'll take one good primary source over all the statistics in the world.)

And this, in my reactionary judgment, makes NuLabour responsible for these events. As surely as if Gordon Brown and Professor Aldridge themselves had gone on a stabbing spree.

Consider the following fact: in April 2007, an American Special Forces captain, Robert Williams, forced his way into the home of a young Iraqi journalist, whom he raped, tortured, and attempted to murder. Williams ordered the woman to stab out her own eyes. When she tried and failed, he sliced up her face with a butcher knife. After asking her if she "liked Americans," he forced her to swallow handfuls of pills, which destroyed her liver, and when leaving the building after an 18-hour ordeal he tied her to a sofa and set a fire under it. She escaped only by using the fire to burn away the ropes around her hands.

And why haven't you heard of this event? Obviously you don't read the papers. Williams, it turns out, was linked to a fundamentalist Christian cell inside the US military, one of whose leaders, General William Boykin, was a mentor to none other than John McCain...

Okay. At this point, I am obviously just making stuff up. If this event had happened, you wouldn't need to read the papers. Or watch television. The only way you would not know of the event is if you were a hermit in the deep bush in Alaska, and it was the middle of winter. It would be the defining event of the American occupation of Iraq, and as soon as the snow thawed and the caribou came back, a dog-team would arrive at your cabin and bark out the news.

Unless the Pentagon covered it up. And given that this search produces almost 2 million hits, doesn't that seem a likely possibility?

It did happen, however. Not in Baghdad, but in Manhattan. The real Robert Williams is not a white supremacist, but a black one. The anonymous victim is a journalism student at Columbia. And how many stories in the local newspaper of record, many of whose employees must be Facebook friends of the victim, did these events generate? I found six. All of them buried deep in the "New York Region" section, whose crime reporters I'm sure are on the fast track to superstar status at the NYT. Not.

Note that this is exactly how the Pentagon, in our imaginary Baghdad rape, would have wanted the situation handled. A coverup is always a possibility, but risky. It can leak. Whereas if the journalists themselves agree that the event is not important, that it is fundamentally random, that it certainly does not deserve the crime-of-the-century treatment that the Times of London, in 1956, would have given the real Robert Williams.

It is very unfortunate, of course, that a Special Forces officer abused a young Iraqi woman. But it is the exception, not the rule. It has nothing to do with the Special Forces as a whole, or with General Boykin, or certainly with John McCain. A few stories in the back of the paper, and the whole sad event is documented for the record. And our troops continue their honorable work in Iraq, saving babies from gangrene and bringing happiness to orphaned goats.

Would I accept this whitewash? Probably not. But I would be more likely to accept it than the New York Times. Clearly, the real Robert Williams and his ilk have no enemies at the Times. But they have an enemy in Larry Auster, who wrote:
So here's a question that ought to be asked of Obama at a presidential debate:

Sen. Obama, you said in your speech on race last March 18 that as long as whites have not ended racial inequality in America, whites have to expect the sort of hatred and rage that comes from Jeremiah Wright, who identifies the source of evil in the world as "white man's greed."

In this country today, black on white violence is a fact of life, and in addition to the steady stream of black on white rapes and murders there have been racially motivated black on white crimes of shocking brutality and horror, including not only rape and sodomy, but torture, disfigurement, burning. Cases in point are the Wichita Massacre in December 2000 in which five young white people were captured and tortured, and four of them murdered, the torture-murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in Knoxville in January 2007, and the torture and disfigurement of a young women in New York City in April 2007.

Senator, is it your position that until whites have ended racial inequality in America, whites have to expect to be targeted by white-hating black thugs? In fact, aren't such criminals only acting out in physical terms the same seething anti-white anger, hatred, and vengefulness which has been enacted verbally by the pastor, and through whoops, yells, and cries from the congregration, every week in your church for the last 30 years, and which you have justified as an understandable and inevitable response to racial inequality?
If Sen. Obama has replied, I'm not aware of it. Perhaps he's not a VFR reader.

The crucial point is that your democratic mind handles these two identical crimes, one real and one imaginary, in very different ways. In the imaginary crime, your reflex is to extend a chain of collective responsibility to all the ideologies, institutions, and individuals who remind you even remotely of the criminal, or can be connected with him in some general way. (Capt. Williams was certainly not ordered to rape an Iraqi journalist.) In the real crime, responsibility extends only to the perpetrator, and perhaps not even to him - after all, he had a difficult childhood.

Dear open-minded progressive, this is how elegantly democracy has infected your brain. To the anonymous London reporter of 1956, the fact that this horrific crime could happen in Manhattan in 2008, and no one, not even the fellow Columbia-trained journalists a hundred blocks downtown, would find it especially important, would suggest some kind of anesthesia, some disconnection of the natural chimpanzee response of fear and rage. But this response has not been disabled in general - because we see it displayed in all its glory when an American soldier puts a pair of underpants on someone's head, somewhere in Mesopotamia.

Thus we are looking at selective anesthesia - by historical standards, our reaction to one offense is unusually sedated, and our reaction to the other is unusually inflamed. Of course, this does not exclude the possibility that in both cases, the old reaction was wrong and the new reaction was right. But it is difficult for me - perhaps only because I am insufficiently versed in progressive doxology - to construct an ethical explanation of the change. On the other hand, I find it very easy to construct a political explanation of the change.

Here's another way to look at the same issue. Suppose, dear open-minded progressive, that the San Francisco Police Department embarked on a reign of lawless terror, killing a hundred people or so a year, at least half of whom were innocent, and beating, raping, etc, many more. Would the good progressives of San Francisco stand for it? I think not. Because we don't believe that the police should be above the law. We believe that when they commit crimes, they should be tried and sent to jail just like everyone else.

So we believe that ethically, a policeman's crimes are no different from a street thug's. Or do we? Not as far as I can tell. I think San Franciscans are much more likely to express fear and anger at the idea of a policeman committing lawless violence. Don't you find this slightly odd? Which would you rather be hit over the head by: a policeman, or a mugger? I would rather not be hit over the head at all, thank you.

If the SFPD was as high-handed and above the law as the paramilitary gangs it (in theory) opposes, you, dear open-minded progressive, would agree that the only solution is a higher power: the National Guard. They have bigger guns, after all. But if you prefer martial law to the SFPD's reign of terror, why don't you prefer martial law to MS-13's reign of terror?

And this is exactly the problem. The reality is that almost every country in the world today - and certainly every major American city - could use a solid dose of martial law.

Because all are beset by criminal paramilitary organizations which (a) are too powerful to be suppressed by the security forces under the legal system as it presently stands, (b) if judged by the same standards as the security forces constitute a gigantic, ongoing human-rights violation, and (c) if associated with the civilian and nongovernmental organizations which protect them from the security forces, implicate the former as major human-rights violators.

So when a liberal surgeon in South Africa, whose trustworthiness strikes me as complete, writes:
i recently watched the movie capote. i enjoyed it. but, being south african, i was interested in the reaction the movie portrayed of the american community to the murders that the movie is indirectly about. their reaction was shock and dismay. their reaction was right.

but in south africa there is a similar incident every day. i don't read the newspaper because it depresses me too much. you might wonder why i, a surgeon, am posting on this. one reason may be because i often deal with the survivors (two previous posts found here and here). at the moment i have three patients who are victims of violent crime. one is the victim of a farm attack. an old man who had his head caved in with a spade. why? just for fun, it seems. but maybe the reason i'm writing this post is because i'm south african. this is my country and i'm gatvol.

just three recent stories. some guys broke into a house. they gagged the man. it seemed that whatever they shoved into his mouth was shoved in too deep, because as they lay on the bed violating his wife, he fought for breath and finally died of asphyxiation.

then there is a woman alone at home. some thugs broke in and asked where the safe was. they were looking for guns. she told them she had no safe and no guns. they then took a poker, heated it to red hot and proceeded to torture her with it so that she would tell them what they wanted to hear. because she could not, the torture went on for a number of hours.

then there is the story of a group of thugs that broke in to a house. they shot the man and cut the fingers of the woman off with a pair of garden shears. while the man lay on the floor dying, the criminals took some time off to lounge on the bed eating some snacks they had found in the fridge and watch a bit of television.
[...]
there is crime everywhere but the most brutal and the violent crimes without clear motives are almost exclusively black on white. this is one more thing the government denies and even labels you as racist if you say it. it may not be put too strongly to say it is very nearly government sanctioned.
We start to smell a small, ugly smell of the future. After all, if all the people in the world could vote, or if they all moved to America, the electorate would look a lot like the New South Africa - the "Rainbow Nation," the great hope for human oneness. Oops.

Unfortunately, our surgeon's database is a little out of date. America is no longer shocked by "In Cold Blood" events. There are simply too many of them. But there are nowhere near as many as in South Africa. (And even if I was not convinced by the surgeon's uncapitalized demeanor, other sources confirm the result.)

In fact the simplest way to evaluate a government for human-rights violations is to think of all violence as the responsibility of the state, whether it is committed by men in uniforms or not. Otherwise, employing paramilitary criminals to do your dirty deeds, for a measure of plausible deniability, is far too easy. And quite popular these days. There is no sharp line between an army and a militia, between a militia and a gang, and between a gang and a bunch of criminals. As the laws of King Ine of Wessex famously put it:
We use the term "thieves" if the number of men does not exceed seven, and "brigands" for a number between seven and thirty-five. Anything beyond this is an "army."
(A short course in actual Saxon history, such as that linked above, cannot come too late for many libertarians, who throughout the history of English legal theory have been overfond of construing the medieval world as a paradise of ordered liberty. Indeed we inherit many elegant constructs from medieval law. And one reason they are so elegant is that they had to operate in such a brutal environment of pervasive violence.)

There is no reason at all that a libertarian, such as myself, cannot favor martial law. I am free when my rights are defined and secured against all comers, regardless of official pretensions. Freedom implies law; law implies order; order implies peace; peace implies victory. As a libertarian, the greatest danger threat to my property is not Uncle Sam, but thieves and brigands. If Uncle Sam wakes up from his present sclerotic slumber and shows the brigands a strong hand, my liberty has been increased.

You see what happens when you open your mind and snort the mystery powder. You wind up on YouTube, listening to an effeminate, deceased dictator scream "¡Tendré la mano más dura que se imaginen!" I don't think that one needs much translation.

And how about this one:
Frankly, I begin to think that the U.S. is about ready for an Il Duce right now...
Except that when you follow the link, it's not at all what you think. At least, it has nothing to do with the "Pinochet Youth." The post is actually on a site for insider political gossip in New York State, which was linked from the NYT. And the author strikes me as, rara avis, a completely honest and dedicated career public servant, certainly an Obama voter, and certainly not a follower of Mussolini or any similar figure.

And yet the quote is not out of context at all. Read the essay. If I'm worth your time, Littlefield is too:
Letting go of one’s illusions is a difficult process that takes a long, long time, but I am just about there. From a young age I have been a believer in public services and benefits as a way of providing some measure of assurance for other people, people I rely on every time I purchase a good or service, of a decent life regardless of one’s personal income or standing. After all, I initially chose public service as a career. And I have been a defender of the public institutions when compared with those who were only concerned with their own situation and preference put in less, or get out more, as if the community was a greedy adversary to be beaten in life rather than something one is a part of. Now, however, I see that it is probably hopeless.
Admittedly, Albany is one of the worst Augean stables of bureaucracy in America. If Hercules had to clean it out, he wouldn't find the Hudson sufficient. He'd have to find a way to get the St. Lawrence involved. But is Albany that different from Sacramento, or from Washington itself? Of course not.

Of course, neither Albany nor Washington needs a Duce. It needs a CEO. Like any gigantic, ancient and broken institution, it has no problem that can't be fixed by installing new management with plenary authority. (It might help to move the capital, as well. Put it in Kansas City, or better yet San Francisco, so that progressives can see the future up close.)

But the reality is: this thing is done. It is over. It is not fixable by any form of conventional politics. Either you want to keep it, or you want to throw it out. Any other political opinions you may have are irrelevant next to this choice.

On that note, let's review our rules for reactionaries.

Rule #1 is the one we just stated. Reaction is a boolean decision. Either you want to discard our present political system, including democracy, the Constitution, the entire legal code and body of precedent, the UN, etc, etc, or you think it's safer to muddle along with what we have now. Either is a perfectly legitimate opinion which a perfectly reasonable person may hold.

Of course, it is impossible to replace something with nothing. I've presented some designs for a restoration of secure, responsible and effective government. What I like about these designs is that they're simple, clear and easy to understand, and they rely on straightforward engineering principles without any mystical element. In particular, they do not require anyone to be a saint.

But here is another simple design: military government. Hand plenary power to the Joint Chiefs. Let them go from there. This won't do permanently, but for a few years it'd be fine. That should be plenty of time to figure out what comes next.

Here is yet another: restrict voting to homeowners. Note that this was widely practised in Anglo-American history, and for very good reason. As John Jay put it: those who own the country ought to govern it. Mere freehold suffrage is a poor substitute for military government, and it too is not stable in the long run. But it would be opposed by all the same people, and it would constitute a very hard shakeup in exactly the right direction.

Here is a third: dissolve Washington and return sovereignty to the states. Here is a fourth: vest plenary executive authority in the Chief Justice, John Roberts. Here is a fifth: vest plenary executive authority in the publisher of the New York Times, "Pinch" Sulzberger. Here is a sixth: vest plenary executive authority in the Good One, Barack Obama. I am not altogether fond of the jobs that the latter two are doing with the limited authority they have now, but they are at least prepared for power, and real authority tends to create real responsibility in a hurry.

At present, any of these things is such a long way from happening that the choice does not matter at all. What matters, dear open-minded reactionary, is that you have had enough of our present government, you are done, finished, gatvol, and you want to replace it with something else that is secure, responsible, and effective.

In other words, rule #1: the reactionary's opposition to the present regime is purely negative. Positive proposals for what to replace it with are out of scope, now and for the foreseeable future. Once again, think in terms of the fall of Communism: the only thing that all those who lived under Communism could agree on was that they were done with Communism.

The advantage of rule #1 is that, applied correctly, it ensures a complete absence of internal conflict. There is nothing to argue over. Either you oppose the government, or you support it.

One exception to rule #1 is that the same coherent pure negativity, and resulting absence of bickering, can be achieved by opposing components of the government.

For example, I believe that both America and the rest of the planet would achieve enormous benefits by a total shutdown of international relations, including security guarantees, foreign aid, and mass immigration, and a return to the 19th-century policy of neutrality - an approach easily summarized by the phrase no foreign policy. I believe that government should take no notice whatsoever of race - no racial policy. I believe it should separate itself completely from the question of what its citizens should or should not think - separation of education and state.

These are all purely negative proposals. They all imply lopping off an arm of the octopus, and replacing it with nothing at all. If any of them, or anything similar, is practical and a full reset is not, then all the better. However, any practical outcome in this direction is at present so distant that it is hard to assess plausibility.

Rule #2 is that a restoration cannot succeed by either of the following methods: the Democrats defeating the Republicans, or the Republicans defeating the Democrats. More precisely, it cannot involve imposing progressivism on traditionalists/"fundamentalists," or traditionalism on progressives.

Traditionalism and progressivism are the two major divisions of Christianity in our time. Not all traditionalists are Catholics, and many progressives are, but "fundamentalism" today occupies the basic political niche of Catholicism in the European tradition, and progressivism is clearly the Protestant mainstream (historically Unitarian, Congregationalist, Methodist, etc; doctrinally, almost pure Quaker).

If secure, responsible, effective government has to wait until this religious war is over, it will wait forever. Or there will be a new Bartholomew's Day. Neither of these options is acceptable to me. Are they acceptable to you? Then you may not be a restorationist.

Of course, each of these Christian sects is intimately connected, exactly as Noah Webster describes, with a political party and a set of politically constructed opinions about what government is and how it should be run. Since progressivism is politically dominant, one would expect it to have the most political content and the least religious content, and indeed this is so. And as we've seen, in a democracy there is no reason to expect anyone's political opinions to have any relationship to the actual art of responsible, effective government.

Nonetheless, it is entirely possible to be an apolitical progressive. Progressivism is a culture, not a party. Charity, for example, is a vast part of this culture, and no reasonable person can have anything against charity, as long as it remains a purely personal endeavor and does not develop aspects of political violence, as it did in the late 20th century. Environmentalism is a part of this culture, and who doesn't live in the environment? Etc, etc, etc.

The fangs can be pulled without much harm to the snake. In fact, the snake has never really needed fangs, and will find itself much more comfortable without them.

Rule #3: in case this is not a corollary of rule #1, a reset implies a total breach with the Anglo-American political tradition.

The fact that an institution is old, and has carried the respect of large populations for decades or centuries, is always a reason to honor and respect it. That you oppose Washington, the real organization that exists in the real world, does not mean that you oppose America, the abstract symbol. (Nor does it mean you oppose America, the continent in the Northern Hemisphere, whose destruction would be quite the engineering feat.) It does not mean that you want to burn or abolish the flag, etc, etc, etc. Similarly, the fact that I'm not a Catholic doesn't mean that if I met the Pope, I'd say, "Fuck you, Pope!" As a matter of fact I would probably want to kiss his ring, or whatever is the appropriate gesture.

On the other hand, we have no reason to think that the political designs we have inherited from this tradition are useful in any way, shape or form. All we know is that they were more militarily successful than their competitors, which may well have been flawed in arbitrary other ways. If the Axis had defeated the Allies, a feat which was quite plausible in hindsight, we would face a completely different set of reengineering challenges, and it would be the Prussian tradition rather than the Whig that had to be discarded.

Historical validation is a good thing. But history provides an extraordinary range of examples. And there is no strong reason to think the governments recent and domestic are any better than the governments ancient and foreign. The American Republic is over two hundred years old. Great. The Serene Republic of Venice lasted eleven hundred. If you're designing from the ground up, why start from the first rather than the second?

A total breach does not imply that everything American (or everything Portuguese, if you are trying to reboot Portugal; but not much in the government of modern Portugal is in any sense Portuguese) must be discarded. It means everything American needs to be justified, just as it would be if it was Venetian. If you believe in democracy: why? If you favor a bicameral legislature, a supreme court, a department of agriculture: why?

Rule #4: the only possible weapon is the truth.

I hope it's unnecessary to say, but it's worth saying anyway, that the only force which can terminate USG by military means is the military itself. There is no reason to talk about this possibility. If it happens, it will happen. It certainly won't happen any time soon.

This means that democracy can only be terminated by political means, ie, democracy itself. Which means convincing a large number of people. Of course, people can be convinced with lies as well as with the truth, but the former is naturally the specialty of the present authorities. Better not to confuse anyone.

What is the truth, anyway? The truth is reality. The truth is what exists. The truth is what rings like a bell when you whack it with the back of a knife. It is very difficult to recognize the truth, but it is much easier to recognize it when it's right next to an equal and opposite lie. A certain device called the Internet is very good at providing this service.

Here is an example. The wonderful kids at Google, who are all diehard progressives and whom I'm sure would be horrified by the uses I'm making of their services, have done something that I can only compare to Lenin's old saying about the capitalists: that they would sell the rope that was used to hang them. Likewise, progressives seem determined to publish the books that will discredit them. As in the case of the capitalists, this is because they are good, not because they are evil. But unlike Lenin, we are good as well, and we welcome these accidental forced errors.

I refer, of course, not to any new books. It is very difficult to get reactionary writing published anywhere, even (in fact, especially, because they are so sensitive on the subject) by the conservative presses. However, as UR readers know, the majority of work published before 1922 is on-line at Google. It is often hard to read, missing for bizarre reasons that make no sense (why scan a book from 1881 and then not put the scans online?), badly scanned, etc, etc. But it is there, and as we've seen it is quite usable.

And there are two things about the pre-1922 corpus. One, it is far, far to the right of the consensus reality that we now know and love. Just the fact that people in 1922 believed X, while today we believe Y, has to shake your faith in democracy. Was the world of 1922 massively deluded? Or is it ours? It could be both, but it can't be neither. Indeed, even the progressives of the Belle Epoque often turn out to be far to the right of our conservatives. WTF?

Two, you can use this corpus to conduct a very interesting exercise: you can triangulate. This is an essential skill in defensive historiography. If you like UR, you like defensive historiography.

Historiographic triangulation is the art of taking two or more opposing positions from the past, and using hindsight to decide who was right and who was wrong. The simplest way to play the game is to imagine that the opponents in the debate were reanimated in 2008, informed of present conditions, and reunited for a friendly panel discussion. I'm afraid often the only conceivable result is that one side simply surrenders to the other.

For example, one fun exercise, which you can perform safely for no cost in the privacy of your own home, is to read the following early 20th-century books on the "Negro Question": The Negro: The Southerner's Problem, by Thomas Nelson Page (racist, 1904); Following the Color Line, by Ray Stannard Baker (progressive, 1908); and Race Adjustment: Essays on the Negro in America, by Kelly Miller (Negro, 1909). Each of these books is (a) by a forgotten author, (b) far more interesting and well-written than the pseudoscientific schlock that comes off the presses these days, and (c) a picture of a vanished world. Imagine assembling Page, Baker and Miller in a hotel room in 2008, with a videocamera and little glasses of water in front of them. What would they agree on? Disagree on? Dear open-minded progressive, if you fail to profit from this exercise, you simply have no interest in the past.

However, an even more fun one is the now thoroughly forgotten Gladstone-Tennyson debate. I forget how I stumbled on this contretemps, which really does deserve to be among the most famous intellectual confrontations in history. Sadly, dear open-minded progressive, it appears to have been forgotten for a reason. And the reason is not a good one.

You may know that Tennyson, in his romantic youth (1835), wrote a poem called Locksley Hall. Due to its nature as 19th-century dramatic verse, Locksley Hall is unreadable today. But its basic content can be described as romantic juvenile liberalism. Here is some of the pith, if pith there is:
Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new:
That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do:

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.
I'm not sure whether this is supposed to remind us more of the UN, the British Empire, or Star Trek. Perhaps all three. But you get the idea. The "Parliament of man" couplet, in particular, is rather often quoted.

Well. So, Tennyson was a romantic young liberal when he wrote this. In 1835. In 1885, when he wrote (adding ten years for some dramatic reason) Locksley Hall, Sixty Years After, he was neither romantic, nor young, nor - um - liberal. While the sequel is also unreadable today, for more or less the same reasons, here are some couplets from it:
I myself have often babbled doubtless of a foolish past;
Babble, babble; our old England may go down in babble at last.

Truth for truth, and good for good! The Good, the True, the Pure, the Just;
Take the charm 'For ever' from them, and they crumble into dust.

Gone the cry of 'Forward, Forward,' lost within a growing gloom;
Lost, or only heard in silence from the silence of a tomb.

Half the marvels of my morning, triumphs over time and space,
Staled by frequence, shrunk by usage into commonest commonplace!

'Forward' rang the voices then, and of the many mine was one.
Let us hush this cry of 'Forward' till ten thousand years have gone.

France had shown a light to all men, preached a Gospel, all men's good;
Celtic Demos rose a Demon, shrieked and slaked the light with blood.

Aye, if dynamite and revolver leave you courage to be wise:
When was age so crammed with menace? Madness? Written, spoken lies?

Envy wears the mask of Love, and, laughing sober fact to scorn,
Cries to Weakest as to Strongest, 'Ye are equals, equal-born.'

Equal-born? O yes, if yonder hill be level with the flat.
Charm us, Orator, till the Lion look no larger than the Cat.

Till the Cat through that mirage of overheated language loom
Larger than the Lion, - Demos end in working its own doom.

Those three hundred millions under one Imperial sceptre now,
Shall we hold them? Shall we loose them? Take the suffrage of the plow.

Nay, but these would feel and follow Truth if only you and you,
Rivals of realm-ruining party, when you speak were wholly true.

Trustful, trustful, looking upward to the practised hustings-liar;
So the Higher wields the Lower, while the Lower is the Higher.

Step by step we gained a freedom known to Europe, known to all;
Step by step we rose to greatness, - through tonguesters we may fall.

You that woo the Voices - tell them 'old experience is a fool,'
Teach your flattered kings that only those who cannot read can rule.

Tumble Nature heel o'er head, and, yelling with the yelling street,
Set the feet above the brain and swear the brain is in the feet.

Bring the old dark ages back without the faith, without the hope,
Break the State, the Church, the Throne, and roll their ruins down the slope.

Do your best to charm the worst, to lower the rising race of men;
Have we risen from out the beast, then back into the beast again?
Etc. Obviously, either someone has been reading Pobedonostsev, or great minds just happen to think alike. I don't think you have to be a Victorian liberal to see that this is highly seditious material. Inflammatory, even. Not bad for an old fart.

Well, Gladstone, who was both a Victorian liberal and an old fart himself, reads this, and of course he shits a brick. The poem might as well have been a personal attack on Gladstone himself - especially that bit about "Celtic Demos," which is not a terribly well-concealed reference to Home Rule.

And what does he do? He's not just a statesman, but a real aristocrat. Does he challenge Tennyson to a duel? A bit late in the day for that. No, he takes time out, from his busy duties as Prime Minister, to write a response. Not in verse, since taking on Tennyson in trochaic couplets is like challenging Chuck Norris in Fight Club. But Gladstone was a master of prose - listen to this wicked little intro:
The nation will observe with warm satisfaction that, although the new Locksley Hall is, as told by the Calendar, a work of Lord Tennyson's old age, yet is his poetic "eye not dim, nor his natural force abated."
Take note, kids. This is how you start out if you're really going to crucify someone. Gladstone continues by flattering the person for a few paragraphs. Then he flatters the poem for a page or so. Then he changes his angle slightly:
Perhaps the tone may even, at times, be thought to have grown a little hoarse with his years. Not that we are to regard it as the voice of the author.
Oh, no. Not at all. Then (page 319) Gladstone spends another page agreeing with Tennyson. Yes, the French Revolution was terrible. And the riots of Captain Swing. Etc, etc. But it all worked out in the end, didn't it? What bliss was it to be young, after the First Reform Bill? Etc, etc.

And then finally (page 320) Gladstone launches into full-on shark-attack mode:
During the intervening half century, or near it, the temper of hope and thankfulness, which both Mr. Tennyson and the young Prophet of Locksley Hall so largely contributed to form, has been tested by experience. Authorities and people have been hard at work in dealing with the laws, the policy, and the manners of the country. Their performances may be said to form the Play, intervening between the old Prologue, and the new Epilogue which has just issued from the press. This Epilogue, powerful as it is, will not quite harmonize with the evergreens of Christmas. The young Prophet, now grown old, is not, indeed (though perhaps, on his own showing, he ought to be), in despair. For he still stoutly teaches manly duty and personal effort, and longs for progress more, he trows, than its professing and blatant votaries. But in his present survey of the age as his field, he seems to find that a sadder color has invested all the scene. The evil has eclipsed the good, and the scale, which before rested solidly on the ground, now kicks the beam. For the framing of our estimate, however, prose, and very prosaic prose, may be called in not less than poetry. The question demands an answer, whether it is needful to open so dark a prospect for the Future; whether it is just to pronounce what seems to be a very decided censure on the immediate Past.
What follows is a rather amazing document - a compact and thorough defence of Victorian liberalism and democracy, and its prospects for the future:
In the words of the Prince Consort, "Our institutions are on their trial," as institutions of self-government; and if condemnation is to be pronounced, on the nation it must mainly fall, and must sweep away with it a large part of such hopes as have been either fanatically or reflectively entertained that, by this provision of self-government, the Future might effect some moderate improvement upon the Past, and mitigate in some perceptible degree the social sorrows and burdens of mankind. I will now, with a view to a fair trial of this question, try to render, rudely and slightly though it be, some account of the deeds and the movement of this last half century.
I should not attempt to abuse Gladstone by excerpting him. But one morsel - especially considering the above - stands out as particularly choice:
One reference to figures may however be permitted. It is that which exhibits the recent movement of crime in this country. For the sake of brevity I use round numbers in stating it. Happily the facts are too broad to be seriously mistaken. In 1870, the United Kingdom with a population of about 31,700,000 had about 13,000 criminals, or one in 1,760. In 1884, with a population of 36,000,000, it had 14,000 criminals, or one in 2,500. And as there are some among us who conceive Ireland to be a sort of pandemonium, it may be well to mention (and I have the hope that Wales might, on the whole, show as clean a record) that with a population of (say) 5,100,000 Ireland (in 1884) had 1,573 criminals, or less than one in 3,200.
Words fail me, dear open-minded progressive, they really do.

But try the experiment: read the rest of Gladstone's essay, and ask yourself what he and Tennyson would make of the last century of British history, and her condition today. Suffice it to say that I think someone owes someone else an apology. Of course, they're both dead, so none will be forthcoming.

In general what I find when I perform this exercise, is that - as far to the right of us as 1922 was - the winner of the triangulation tends to be its rightmost vertex. Not on every issue, certainly, but most. (I'm sure that if I was to try the same trick with, say, Torquemada and Spinoza, the results would be different, but I am out of my historical depth much past the late 18C.)

What's wonderful is that if you doubt these results, you can play the game yourself. Bored in your high-school class? Read about the Civil War and Reconstruction and slavery. Unless you're a professional historian, you certainly won't be assigned the primary sources I just linked to. But no one can stop you, either. (At least not until Google adds a "Flag This Book" button.)

I am certainly not claiming that everything you find in Google Books, or even everything I just linked to, is true. It is not. It is a product of its time. What's true, however, is that each book is the book it says it is. Google has not edited it. And if it says it was published in 1881, nothing that happened after 1881 can have affected it.

Here is another exercise in defensive historiography: skim this facile 2008 treatment of Francis Lieber, then read the actual document that Lieber wrote. The primary source is not only better-written, but shorter and more informative as well. (One page is mis-scanned, but one can make out the wonderful words "the utmost rigor of the military law"...)

You'll see immediately that the main service Professor Bosco, the modern historian, provides, is to deflect you from the brutal reality that Lieber feeds you straight. Lieber says: do Y, because if you do X, Z will happen. The Union Army did Y, and Z did not happen. The US in Iraq, and modern counterinsurgency forces more generally, did X, and Z happened.

The modern law of warfare, which Lieber more or less founded, has been twisted into an instrument which negates everything he believed. The results have been the results he predicted. I know it's a cliche - but history is too important to be left to the historians.

Rule #5: quality is better than quantity. At least when it comes to supporters.

Any political conspiracy, reactionary or revolutionary, is in the end a social network. And we observe an interesting property of social networks: their quality tends to decline over time. It does not increase. Facebook, for example, succeeded where Friendster and Orkut failed, by restricting its initial subscriber base to college students, which for all their faults really are the right side of the bell curve.

In order to make an impact on the political process, you need quantity. You need moronic, chanting hordes. There is no way around this. Communism was not overthrown by Andrei Sakharov, Joseph Brodsky and Vaclav Havel. It was overthrown by moronic, chanting hordes. I suppose I shouldn't be rude about it, but it's a fact that there is no such thing as a crowd of philosophers.

Yet Communism was overthrown by Sakharov, Brodsky and Havel. The philosophers did matter. What was needed was the combination of philosopher and crowd - a rare and volatile mixture, highly potent and highly unnatural.

My view is that up until the very last stage of the reset, quality is everything and quantity is, if anything, undesirable. On the Internet, ideas spread like crazy. And they are much more likely to spread from the smart to the dumb than the other way around.

One person and one blog is nowhere near sufficient, of course. What we need is a sort of counter-Cathedral: an institution which is actually more trustworthy than the university system. The universities are the brain of USG, and the best way to kill anything is to shoot it in the head.

To be right when the Cathedral is wrong is to demonstrate that we live under a system of government which is bound together by the same glue that held up Communism: lies. You do not need a triple-digit IQ to know that a regime held up by lies is doomed. You also do not need a triple-digit IQ to help bring down a doomed regime. Everyone will volunteer for that job. It's as much fun as anything in the world.

Solely for the purpose of discussion, let's call this counter-Cathedral Resartus - from Carlyle's great novel, Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Reclothed).

The thesis of Resartus is that the marketplace of ideas, free and blossoming as it may seem, is or at least may be infected with lies. These lies all have one thing in common: they are related to the policies of modern democratic governments. Misinformation justifies misgovernment; misgovernment subsidizes misinformation. This is our feedback loop.

On the other hand, it's clear that modern democratic governments are doing many things right. Perhaps in all circumstances they are doing the best they can. Perhaps there is no misinformation at all. The hypothesis that such feedback loops can form is not a demonstration that they exist.

Therefore, the mission of Resartus is to establish, using that crowdsourced wiki-power we are all familiar with, the truth on every dubious subject. Perhaps the truth will turn out to be the official story, in which case we can be happy.

The two sites today which are most like Resartus are Climate Audit and Gene Expression. Both of these are, in my humble opinion, scientific milestones. CA's subject is climatology; GNXP's subject is human biodiversity. There are also some general-purpose truth verifiers, such as Snopes, but Snopes is hopelessly lightweight next to a CA or a GNXP.

CA and GNXP are unique because their mission is to be authorities in and of themselves. They do not consider any source reliable on the grounds of mere institutional identity. Nor do they assume any institutional credibility themselves. They simply try to be right, and as far as I can tell (lacking expertise in either of their fields, especially the statistical background to really work through their work) they are.

CA - created and edited by one man, Steve McIntyre, who as far as I'm concerned is one of the most important scientists of our generation - is especially significant, because unlike GNXP (which is publicizing mainstream research that many would rather see unpublicized), McIntyre, starting with no credentials or academic career at all is actually attacking and attempting to destroy a major flying buttress of the Cathedral. And one with major political importance, not to mention economic. Imagine a cross between Piltdown Man, the Dreyfus Affair, and Enron, and you might get the picture.

If the fields behind AGW, paleoclimatology and climate modeling, are indeed pseudosciences and go down in history as such, I find it almost impossible to imagine what will happen to their promoters. Their promoters being, basically, everyone who matters. McIntyre is best known for his exposure of the hockey stick, but what's amazing is that CA seems to find a similar abuse of mathematics, data, or both - typically less prominent - about every other week or two.

The scientific achievement of GNXP is less stunning, but its implications are, if anything, larger. I've discussed human neurological uniformity and its absence on this series already. But let's just say that a substantial component of our political, economic, and academic system has completely committed its credibility to a proposition that might be called the International White Conspiracy. Statistical population variations in human neurology do not strike me as terribly exciting per se - a responsible, effective government should be able to deal with anything down to your high-end Homo erectus. Lies, however, are always big news. If there is a much, much simpler explanation of reality which does not require an International White Conspiracy, that is a problem for quite a few people - the vast majority of whom are, in fact, white.

At the same time, CA and GNXP and relatives (LvMI, though it's not just a website, has many of the same fine qualities) were not designed as general-purpose information-warfare devices. There is some crossover, but I suspect most CA posters are unaware of or uninterested in GNXP, and often the reverse. Many people are natural specialists, of course, and this is natural.

The idea of Resartus - which, as usual, anyone can build in their own backyard (contact me if you are interested in resartus.org) is to build a general-purpose site for answering a variety of large, controversial questions. A smart person should be able to visit Resartus and decide, with a minimum of effort, who is right about AGW or human biodiversity or peak oil or the Kennedy assassination or evolution or string theory or 9/11 or the Civil War or....

To build a credible truth machine, it's important to generate true negatives as well as true positives. For example, I favor the conventional wisdom on evolution and 9/11. On peak oil and the Kennedys, I simply don't know enough to decide. (Actually, I live in terror of the idea that someone will convince me that Oswald didn't act alone. So I try to avoid the matter.) Therefore, I would hope that any attempt to audit Darwin, as McIntyre audited Mann, would result in a true negative.

The easiest way to describe the problem of Resartus is to describe it as a crowdsourced trial. Indeed, any process that can determine the truth or falsity of AGW, etc, should be a process powerful enough to determine criminal guilt or innocence. Certainly many of these issues are well into that category of importance - in fact, I would not be surprised if one day we see legal proceedings in the global-warming department. There have already been some suspicious signs of "lawyering up."

A trial is not a blog, nor is it a discussion board. One of the main flaws of Climate Audit is that it does not provide a way for AGW skeptics and believers to place each others' arguments and evidence side by side, making it as easy as possible for neutral third parties to evaluate who is right. I am confident that CA is on the money, but much of this confidence is gut feeling.

In the evolution world, the talk.origins index to creationist claims has probably come the closest to setting out a structured argument for evolution, in which every possible creationist argument is listed and refuted. However, a real trial is adversarial. The prosecutor does not get to make the defense lawyer's arguments.

On Resartus, the way this would work is that the creationist community itself would be asked to list its claims, and edit them collectively, producing the best possible statement of the creationist case. Not showing up should not provide an advantage, so evolutionists should be able to add and refute their own creationist claims. Creationists should in turn be able to respond to their responses, and so ad infinitum, until both sides feel they have said their piece.

As an evolutionist, I feel that this process, which could continue indefinitely as the argument tree is refined, evidence exhibits were added, etc, etc, would demonstrate very clearly that evolutionists are right and creationists are blowing smoke. As a matter of fact, as someone who's served on a jury, I feel that such an argument tree would be far more useful than verbal lectures from the competing attorneys.

And if these structures were available on one site for a wide variety of controversial issues, it would be very, very easy for any smart young person with a few hours to spare to see what the pattern of truth and error, and its inevitable political associations, started to look like. It certainly will not be easy to construct a nexus of more reliable judgments than the university system itself, but at some point someone will do it. And I think the results will be devastating.

When I look at the thinking of people who disagree with me, and especially when I look at the thinking of the educated public at large (New York Times comments, on the few articles which they are enabled for, are an invaluable vox populi for the Obamabot crowd) I am often struck by the fact that their perspective differs from mine as a result of small, seemingly irrelevant details in the interpretation of reality.

If you believe that John Kerry was telling the truth about his voyages into Cambodia, for example, you will hear the word "Swiftboating" in a very different way. On a larger subject, if James Watson is right, our historical interpretation of the 1860s will simply have to change. Details matter. Facts matter.

Our democratic institutions today, though far more distributed and open than the systems of Goebbels or Vyshinsky, are basically designed to run on an information system that funnels truth down from the top of the mountain. This is a brittle design. If it breaks - if it starts distributing sewage along with the rosewater - it loses its credibility. If it loses its credibility, the government loses its legitimacy. When a government loses its legitimacy, you don't want to be standing under it.

The Cathedral is called the Cathedral for another reason: it's not the Bazaar. Coding, frankly, is pretty easy. Reinterpreting reality is hard. Nonetheless, I think this thing will come down one of these days. And I would rather be outside it than under it.

Again, UR will return on August 14. At this point it will be exclusively devoted to answering the accumulated questions, objections and catcalls, for at least a week and maybe more like four. (Hopefully at this point I will also have cleared out my inbox - although I have made this promise before.) Please feel free to post any reactions to the whole series on the thread below.

92 Comments:

Blogger Mitchell said...

Climate Audit strikes me as about as much of a threat to the Cathedral as a horde of angry bees would be to the architectural structure of that name. Occasionally one or two get inside and something has to be boarded up as a result, but in general they're just crawling around on the windowpanes futilely looking for a way in. A lot of ferocious buzzing is generated and not much else.

July 17, 2008 at 5:54 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

"What's true, however, is that each book is the book it says it is. Google has not edited it."

But, but, but... internal evidence clearly shows that that is simply not true (or else UR has himself indulged in such editing, which seems unlikely).

Consider the sentences "Take the suffrage of the plow" and "But in his present survey of the age as his field, he seems to find that a sadder color has invested all the scene". Tennyson and Gladstone were British; Tennyson would never have written "plow", and Gladstone would never have written "color". Now, I am not here condemning vulgar Americanisms - though of course I do deplore them - nor am I quibbling, though it may appear so at first sight. Rather, I am showing that these sources have fallen at the first fence. Remember the idea that whoever is faithful in little will also be faithful in much; here we have editing carried out for the most trivial of purposes, to Americanise the material. How much more, then, will the purveyors feel entitled - even required - to make alterations of a more material nature for what may well seem to them to be weightier reasons? I am thinking particularly of omissions and new juxtapositions, perhaps drawn from other pieces or even other possibly unattributed authors, rather than inserting entirely new material or paraphrasing old, though that too is possible - editorial material perhaps sincerely meant only to clarify - all conveying some new reading.

These sources are open to editing; they have in fact been edited.

On a lighter note, consider "If Hercules had to clean it out, he wouldn't find the Hudson sufficient. He'd have to find a way to get the St. Lawrence involved." That is just precisely how the Hudson valley was formed, in the Ice Ages when the St. Lawrence was blocked by ice; the Great Lakes forced their way out via what is now the Hudson. That valley was carved by a greater river far.

July 17, 2008 at 6:41 AM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

Actually, since I've commented on a part, and since it seems the big picture is more or less complete, I should try commenting on the whole.

But first, what is that whole? Democracy is the world's biggest problem today. Underpinned by a notion of human equality which derives from religion rather than science, it creates an atmosphere in which mass delusions thrive and attain power, in which life is never secure because the rules change with the crowd's whim, and in which the instinct to acquire and exercise power is not only indulged to a destructive degree, but in which this indulgence operates under cover of virtue. The United States has been the chief propagator of the democratic virus, and it is ultimately commanded by an intellectual establishment which (especially in financial economics, in climatology, and in its ideas about human nature) is not only corrupt but factually wrong, and is actually destroying civilization.

That is the essential critique of the present which we have been offered. The prescription is to abolish democracy, but there is some uncertainty as to what should replace it. Culturally, we should aim to revive the sensibility and common sense of pre-democratic civilization, because its ideas about politics, war, justice, relations between nations, etc., were truer in all respects. Politically, we should aim for a system in which the masses are not political actors, and we may wish to consider the new idea of the state as a sovereign joint-stock corporation, but even absolute monarchy would be better than what we have (so long as the monarch wasn't mad or evil).

There's the grand synthesis; what do I think of it? I may have to get back to you on that...

July 17, 2008 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

When you say, I am a libertarian, what you mean is: I, as a customer of government, prefer to live in a state which does not apply non-libertarian policies.

No. It is the state itself that has the incentive to "apply non-libertarian policies". Even your corporate states do: they want to extract maximum taxes, as you freely admit.

And for that matter, they also have plenty of incentive for electing a new people. Not just a law abiding people, although that is one margin of eugenics and ideological work they would have every incentive to undertake. Also a tractable people, to reduce the cost of maintaining power, and a productive people, to increase taxes. Basically, sheep.

the libertarian should search for a structure of government in which the state has no incentive to apply non-libertarian policies. Obviously, democracy is not such a structure.

Every structure of the state has the incentive to apply non-libertarian policies. Therefore, it is pointless and foolish for a libertarian to search for it. Statist libertarianism is one of your flying whales.

Fortunately, government and state are not the same thing. That men must be governed is given; that the state must exist is not. Anarchism is the libertarian's response, and one which I have yet to see you grapple with.

July 17, 2008 at 7:31 AM  
Anonymous skeptical said...

It was a marvelous series!

I've never commented on your blog before, but I just wanted to let you know that UR is one of the few such blogs that I find worth reading.

July 17, 2008 at 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

Jerry Pournelle has an excellent, concise definition of democracy here:

The purpose of modern government is to take money from the folks who save and pay their bills and live within their means, and use that to hire government workers; and to keep their power by using the money to buy votes from those who do not save and pay their bills and live within their means.

Here is yet another: restrict voting to homeowners.

Too easily hacked. The Cathedral will just inflate the housing bubble via cheap loans to minorities and punishment for banks that refuse to lend to minorities who are credit risks, i.e. just about all of them. Part of the reason they wanted to inflate the housing bubble was to draw in additional immigrants, and if they needed to own a house in order to vote, you better believe the Cathedral would find a way to ensure every American owned a house.

And there are two things about the pre-1922 corpus. One, it is far, far to the right of the consensus reality that we now know and love. Just the fact that people in 1922 believed X, while today we believe Y, has to shake your faith in democracy. Was the world of 1922 massively deluded? Or is it ours? It could be both, but it can't be neither. Indeed, even the progressives of the Belle Epoque often turn out to be far to the right of our conservatives. WTF?

This is where the progressives chime in with "not everything the majority wants is morally correct - the majority of the people in 1922 believed in many evil things, but thank God the morally correct minority views ultimately prevailed over the reactionary majority!"

I live in terror of the idea that someone will convince me that Oswald didn't act alone.

Try reading Zirbel and McClellan.

July 17, 2008 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Robert Williams' crime is horrific, but there's not the slightest bit of evidence, as far as I know, that Williams is a "black supremacist", or that his actions were supported by any organization whatsoever. Whereas in relatively recent memory, equally horrific crimes were committed by whites against blacks, with the full support of law enforcement and the white community and power structure. People brought the kids and printed up postcards. So indeed times have changed, but not entirely for the worse.

July 17, 2008 at 9:37 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

there's not the slightest bit of evidence,[...] that his actions were supported by any organization whatsoever.

I think Mencius's point is that this crime is (1) part of a larger pattern; and (2) buried by the media, which makes them almost complicit.

Yet, when random criminals killed Matthwe Shepard ten years ago in a similar (though much less sadistic) manner, it was all over the national news. What's different here?

Interestingly, the poor victim of the apartment break-in was a Columbia journalism student. Presumably very progressive. Still the media crickets chirp. You've got to admire the progressives' ability to "take one for the team."

July 17, 2008 at 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

So indeed times have changed, but not entirely for the worse.

Let's see, about 4700 lynchings in about 80 years, compare to about 30,000 black on white homicides (plus on the order of 170,000 black on black homicides) in 30 years from 1976 to 2005. I'm, uh, hard pressed to see how things are "not entirely worse" now. Seems to me they are manifestly a lot worse.

July 17, 2008 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger C Bowen said...

An ambitious series of articles, attempting to undo the social democrat mind, using the medium of our moment the blog. Well done.

I look forward to the day when an heir will have at his finger tips, that ability to work in imagery from the past as well as music, as otherwise forgotten as the poetry and books employed here--in itself a truly large contribution to this genre of discourse.

July 17, 2008 at 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Blode said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention La Griffe du Lion. He's much closer to one of your central issues - crime and the official coverup of the patterns of crime - than Gene Expression or Climate Audit.

Actually, my strategy for fighting the Cathedral has basically been bringing up La Griffe's (and Lawrence Auster's - thanks for mentioning him) points in every day conversation. Ditto for VDare - the "is" and the "ought" of immigration aren't quite the same ... amazing!

The Cathedral tried to chase every middle-income white away from the media centers of power, by allowing crime to fill the power vacuum left when the police were handcuffed. They succeeded. Only people with criminal ties and/or the money to afford penthouses and gated communities are safe in the areas near the biggest Party Organs.

Of course, the actual hatchetmen that the Cathedral uses tend to be immune to organization by their limited IQs, so the linkage is hard to see. It's only when you see what the Cathedral sees fit to report, and doesn't, that you see how anti-white they are. Remember, when a white kid hangs a noose from a tree to taunt another white kid, that more-or-less justifies the six-on-one disfiguring beating of a completely different white kid, as long as they assailants are black.

Black = saintly ... simple math. The only complex math is to figure out which white person is responsible for whatever bad things the black person does. Non-racism = the belief that only whites have free will. I've been scratching my head over that one for years.

I'd love to see the crime rates in the cities around the major mainstream media HQs. Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles. All you really have to do to be called a redneck by those people is live in an area with a low crime rate.

Disarming is to follow exiling. Only those willing to break the law and/or the money to afford licensed bodyguards are safe, etc. Mencius, you don't seem to care too much about gun control but I'm not sure.

July 17, 2008 at 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Lugo, good point about lynchings.

It is also worth pointing out that motivation is a significant factor to be considered. Lynching is itself a lawless act, but it at least nominally is done with the motivation of restoring an order that has been breached, presumably because of the impotence of regular law enforcement. This distinguishes it from other types of extra-legal violence. And, if nothing else, at least some victims of lynching had to have been guilty of the crimes for which the mobs lynched them.

There is an interesting passage in Tocqueville that sheds some light on the phenomenon:

"In America, the means available to the authorities to uncover crime and to arrest criminals are small in number... However, I doubt whether crime evades punishment less often in any other country. The reason for that is that everyone feels involved in providing evidence of the offense and in apprehending the offender. During my stay in the United States, I saw inhabitants of a county where a major crime has been perpetrated spontaneously form committees with the aim of arresting the guilty man and handing him over to the courts. In Europe, the criminal is a luckless fellow, fighting to save his life from the authorities; the population, to a degree, watches as he struggles. In America, he is an evemy of the human race and has everyone entirely against him."

Obviously "spontaneously form[ing] committees with the aim of arresting the guilty man and handing him over to the courts" is not the same as stringing him up from the nearest convenient tree without further ceremony. Here, nonetheless, in the settled America of 1835, we see the genesis of what was to become in wilder places and less settled times, the genesis of lynch law. Our ancestors had a much stronger preference for order than people do today, and a much less dainty regard for forms and processes.

As Charles J. Bonaparte addressed the graduating class of Yale Law School in 1890:

"Judge Lynch may make mistakes, and his mistakes can be corrected by no writ of error, but if the number of failures of justice in his Court could be compared with those in our more regular tribunals, I am not sure that he need fear the result. I believe that very few innocent men are lynched, and, of those who have not committed the past offense for which they suffer, a still smaller proportion are decent members of society. It is, of course, an evil that the law should be occasionally enforced by lawless means, but it is, in my opinion, a greater evil that it should be habitually duped and evaded by means formally lawful."

Can we imagine such an address at Yale today? O tempora, o mores!

July 17, 2008 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Gerard said...

I note that restartus.com is already held by restart.us.

However, I found that restartusa.com was not held and have purchased it.

Let me know if you want to do any really, and I mean REALLY, serious with it.

July 17, 2008 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Gerard said...

One of the really basic truths of the INet age being...

"If it don't have .com
It won't be the bomb."

Org. I mean, really.

July 17, 2008 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Gerard said...

"Yet, when random criminals killed Matthwe Shepard ten years ago in a similar (though much less sadistic) manner, it was all over the national news. What's different here?"

What's different here is that nobody feels easy saying what's different here.

This is how minds are certified as colonized.

July 17, 2008 at 3:41 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

As usual, there are so many flaws in MM's posts that one only has time to point out a tiny fraction of them. It is far easier to write vast tomes of reckless nonsense than to correct such voluminous errors. But today let's go with this one:

many libertarians, who throughout the history of English legal theory have been overfond of construing the medieval world as a paradise of ordered liberty.

Not so. In fact the vast majority of libertarians have been Whigs who discounted medieval institutions as illiberal "feudal" affairs with no redeeming value. And, with you here, they have failed to distinguish between the early and late medieval legal and political order. Late medieval England was not a terribly violent place. Counting the entire spectrum from individual criminals to armies, it probably had less deaths per capita per year from violence than England in the first half of the 20th century.

Incidentally, medieval law after the Norman conquest was quite a different affair from that prior to the Norman conquest -- most of late medieval law came from (the area that is now) France via Normandy. It is MM who needs to learn some things about real medieval history -- not trivia like who was king when, or soap operas about who killed and married whom, but actual history of institutions such as law and political structure.

Indeed we inherit many elegant constructs from medieval law. And one reason they are so elegant is that they had to operate in such a brutal environment of pervasive violence.),

What twisted logic takes you from this to advocacy of scrapping these elegant constructs? Your naive advocacy of destruction is like saying our genetic code is imperfect, so we should just scrap it and trust Mencius Moldbug to design for us a new species from scratch.

Speaking of the entire spectrum from individual criminals to sovereign states, where is your evidence that sub-sovereign entities have in the most recent century been responsible for more acts of violence than states? Or for that matter, that the dictatorships you champion are responsible for less violence than democracies?

As a libertarian, the greatest danger threat to my property is not Uncle Sam, but thieves and brigands.

MM, your mind lives in a galaxy far, far away from reality. Having actually been mugged once, I must point out that the ratio of property taken from me by governments to that taken away by private muggers over my lifetime exceeds 1,000:1. This is probably not far from the U.S. average.

July 17, 2008 at 3:43 PM  
Anonymous Blode said...

Ack, Leonard, I'm intrigued by your ideas but I don't like the feeling that I'm talking to an elderly master of some esoteric philosophy or martial art.

"Statist libertarianism is one of your flying whales. Fortunately, government and state are not the same thing. That men must be governed is given; that the state must exist is not."

Pro-government libertarianism is then more like a swimming whale? It's an interesting thought but I'm worried that if I follow up the lines of thinking, my discoveries will mainly be semantic, to wit, that when government is a pain in the tush we call it the state and when it isn't, we don't. Is this something about the difference between localist vs. centralist governments? Or between governments which demand faith, hope, and love (I mean, pro-government doublethink) versus those that just require decent outward behavior (i.e. not being violent or stealing)?

July 17, 2008 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger KevinV said...

There is a lot to say here, and no time for me to say it, but a quick note on the discussion of lynching above.

As it happens, I had a relative visiting me over the week-end. She has just moved to a new town where her husband has accepted a job as city manager.

In her first few weeks in this troubled town, certain elements of the town's citizens, who she called "taggers" have engaged in para-military operations on three occasions. In all three incidents, the gang members fired semi-automatic pistols and long guns at police officers in their cars. The last incident occurred in a public park, with children playing on the playground.

There is talk of hiring more police and attorneys and, above all, obtaining the services of a "gang expert" to help stamp this out.

Eveyrone involved knows exaclty who these para-military members are, who their families are, who their supporters are.

Given this state of affairs, you would have to do a lot of explaining to me on how, exactly, the European-American citizens of this town are living in a state of modern superiority over their beastial ancestors.

July 17, 2008 at 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Blode said...

"Given this state of affairs, you would have to do a lot of explaining to me on how, exactly, the European-American citizens of this town are living in a state of modern superiority over their beastial ancestors."

I think we risk another iteration of TGGP relating how Steven Pinker has shown that violence now is fairly low by historical standards. But of course, Mencius isn't contrasting the current state of affairs with history in general, but rather with the standards of the late 19th Century UK when crime was extremely low. Put crudely, life sucks now compared to the Victorian Era, but isn't so bad compared to caveman violence.

July 17, 2008 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Statsquatch said...

Blode,

Has La Griffe posted in the last year? I think he has left the field to half sigma, audacious epigone and the inductivist. This is too bad as he was much more thorough. Maybe he is in a reeducation camp.

July 17, 2008 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Wahrheit said...

Gerard,

The play on words, resartus and "restart US" and "reset" is really quite delicious.

It is encouraging to see you commenting here. Whether anyone will feel it is encouraging to see me commenting is another matter. But enough mites add up to the world's GNP, after all.

July 17, 2008 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger John S. Bolton said...

There needs to be an elucidation of the feedback loop, especially since it would have to run on different fuels as between government schools and major media.
I've long said that this process is indeed a positive feedback mechanism, but that it traces back to Prussia 1717. The means of mass indoctrination, and the reciprocating power-enhancement effects are very slow-acting. Jefferson founded UVa, turning just that one system into an engine of propaganda for state power, required officials to give money, as scholars gave pleas for more state power, and more money and more jobs, for each further increment of pleas for more power, but in a slowly reciprocating feedback way. To detail this would be the history of ideas of the last 300 years, but you would see Germany and not our provincial Whiggery, as the repeatedly detonating impetus.

July 17, 2008 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Saturday's Anonymous said...

john-

That's a great point about Prussia. Especially relevant since MM used Prussia's Frederick the Great as an example of an ideal, CEO-like ruler. Another point about Federick the Great is that he implemented conscription ( and this was pre-French revolution/democracy). We can't pin nationalism/slave armies entirely on the demoists. MM, if you're out there, do you have a rebuttal?

July 17, 2008 at 7:42 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

Mencius isn't contrasting the current state of affairs with history in general, but rather with the standards of the late 19th Century UK when crime was extremely low. Put crudely, life sucks now compared to the Victorian Era, but isn't so bad compared to caveman violence.

Then why does MM not advocate a return to the institutions of a largely ceremonial Queen Victoria, a mostly powerful Gladstone, and an independent judiciary, rather than a return to a (very ahistorical) vision of totalitarian "Stuart" dictatorship?

July 17, 2008 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Politically, CA shares a David vs. Goliath role with GNXP. But scientifically, CA resembles those who disagree with GNXP. Granted, in the case of the Hockey Stick (arguably, CA's raison d'etre), which was an ill-advised overreach on the part of certain cocky climatologists, McIntyre scored big. But otherwise he's basically nitpicking at the edges of a pretty convincing body of evidence.

July 17, 2008 at 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Saturday's Anonymous said...

Put crudely, life sucks now compared to the Victorian Era, but isn't so bad compared to caveman violence.

One thing I've noticed is that the best periods seem to have been when the Progressives and the Reactionaries were in balance. Upon MM's recommendation, I was reading Stefan Zweig's "the World of Yesterday" about World War I and the end of the Hapsburg Dynasty. The best time seemed to be right after the lower classes gained the right to vote, and were able to cut down their work day and gain a few more liberties. But all too soon the jingoist, anti-semitic, and socialist politicians had poisoned the minds of the masses. The result was disastrous.

The same goes for Rhodesia. In the early 1900's life sucked for blacks as the whites stole all the good land. After 1980 things started sucking for blacks after universal suffrage led to tyranny. But 1960-1980 was pretty good. The progressives put enough pressure on the Rhodesian whites to treat the blacks well and allow them to advance if they had the ability. But whites still had the bulk of the control, maintained rule of law, and promoted the general prosperity.

Unfortunately, it seems, a good balance of power between the aristocracy and the demos seems to be a highly unstable equilibrium. No society yet has really figured out the solution. MM, as an elite, is very willing to err on the side of the aristocrats.

July 17, 2008 at 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Blode said...

"Then why does MM not advocate a return to the institutions of a largely ceremonial Queen Victoria, a mostly powerful Gladstone, and an independent judiciary, rather than a return to a (very ahistorical) vision of totalitarian "Stuart" dictatorship?"

Oh, geez, good question. I guess it is because he believes the Gladstone/Disraeli regimes were inherently unstable, and used up the goodness of its era. The Whig and Tory governments had an electoral incentive to enfranchise as many of their potential supporters as possibility, until everyone was enfranchised, and both traditional Whiggery and traditional Toryism were pulled under a Wet Tory / Labourite tidal wave just a few decades into the 20th Century.

In a pessimistic vein, I wonder if good government (and therefore all government) is inherently unstable. When people don't know how good they have it, they tend to give up the good. Who, in the era of Jack the Ripper, would have called the UK a safe place? And end to piracy on the high seas was probably considered a sad thing, at least by schoolboys who were dying to meet a pirate.

I think if someone were to return to the high-growth, pro-middle class, tough-on-crime policies that produced the Belle Epoque (however those policies might be introduced) it may well create the same blindness which allowed the rabble in the front gate last time around. Wouldn't people say "Oh, the masses, they're not so bad. Look, they've reduced their crime rates. Shouldn't they be reenfranchised? It was a wondrous time when we all could participate." Low though the crime rates might be, a few employees in demonstrably dangerous might get killed in nasty ways. People would say this called for government-created opportunities - "gateways out of poverty" - and who better to control the programs than the beneficiaries?

The Jacobite / neocameralist reset would have to create dramatic, measurable improvements in every aspect of quality of life, or you'd risk your next generation of rulers looking back longingly at the multiparty democracy, back when taxes were lower or the earlobe cancer rate was below 0.3% or whatever. I've never quite figured out how MM feels about Royally-chartered monopolies, quite common in Elizabeth I's time (don't know about the Stuarts). They certainly constitute state-as-profitmaking-business, and I'm not sure how neocameralism would handle that temptation.

Hard to really figure it out with Moldbug not doing the whole chit-chat thing any more. Frown.

July 17, 2008 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Oh goody, we are arguing in favor of lynching now, all in the name of "order". Keep up the good work, that is certainly the kind of thinking that's going to enhance the popularity and stature of your ideology. That's just what the American people are looking for.

Personally, if we're going to bring back gruesome family entertainment, I prefer the French variety.

July 17, 2008 at 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Saturday's Anonymous said...

Then why does MM not advocate a return to the institutions of a largely ceremonial Queen Victoria, a mostly powerful Gladstone, and an independent judiciary, rather than a return to a (very ahistorical) vision of totalitarian "Stuart" dictatorship?

MM loves himself the Bella Epoque, but believes that Parliament was the cancerous institution that destroyed the medieval conception of rule of law. The overall argument against returning to the system of jurisdiction as property - as you propose - is how do you prevent the sovereign ( ie the security forces) from violating the arrangement and appropriating the property? The military situation today is quite different from the age of limited monarchies.

Nick - One thing you'll also note is that MM likes to argue the most extreme case (Fnargl, restore the Stuarts, the receiver) so that then the less extreme cases ( government by trustees, trying out a single neocamerlist city-state) sounds downright reasonable. MM has not convinced me yet to put the entire United States under corporate control, but he has opened up my mind enough so that something like your Juristopia sound very interesting, which is a major shift in my views from a few months ago. I actually created a counter-proposal to MM that was very close to your Juristopia and unpredictable elections idea ( You can read it here.

Are you of the mind that reform at the Constitutional/system level is necessary? I think, as MM was saying, the important thing is to agree that systematic reform is necessary, along some kind of propertarian lines, and then in time we can hash out what the exact solution might be.

Having actually been mugged once, I must point out that the ratio of property taken from me by governments to that taken away by private muggers over my lifetime exceeds 1,000:1.

Well, MM might still be labeling taxes as "rent". But also, you're not taking into account all the people who were driven from the cities by high crime ( and how zoning laws are used to drive up prices and keep the underclass out). The cost of this - in terms of home prices, increased transportation costs, schools, new construction - has been immense.

July 17, 2008 at 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Saturday's Anonymous said...

If anyone wants to work on the Resartus idea, I'd be up for it. I can code and have some free time. I've actually had a very similar idea to Resartus long before I stumbled across this blog, and even started to code it.

The tricky part of Resartus is figuring out the control aspect - who gets to actually post the arguments for each side of the debate. The user interface is also a bit tricky ( in terms of laying out the argument tree).

If anybody is interested, shoot me an email at libravox at dot com gmail

July 17, 2008 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Mencius- thanks for the wonderful blog. I'm a huge fan.

I wanted to thank you for a particular insight that I owe to you (and which you may freely think of as bullshit). I'm a linguist -- although a computational one, since I have had no desire to bind my fortunes to the rituals of what I now happily call the Cathedral. Linguistics, as you are certainly aware, experienced a sort of explosion in popularity in the 1950's driven in part by a new conceptualization the field that originated with Chomsky. Whatever Chomsky's many sins are, his work in linguistics has contributed a great deal to human understanding of how language works, and, at least in its most fundamental level, is based on a sound observations of reality. Thus because of its reality-based foundation, Chomsky's linguistic work is also deeply troubling to broad swath's of college campuses, despite its founder's exalted position in the Cathedral's cardinalate (which he earned through his politics, not his linguistic research). The fundamental insight of the Chomskyan "revolution" is that each person's language cannot be merely the product of historical accident and his socialization. Equipped with only a "blank slate", a child learning a language simply could come up with too many ways to explain the words he heard (leaving out completely these words relationship to "power structures" and "gender roles" that so many of Chomsky's less reality-based linguistic critics insist must be intimately tied to our knowledge of language). Anyway, the point of all this is, I'm periodically confronted by well-meaning (but perhaps not so open-minded) progressives who insist that Chomsky must be wrong, because "to posit an innate bias for language is just crazy". There is no argument per se, just an invocation of a sort of vague political threat along the lines of "if you really think that, then maybe Hitler was right" or something equally outrageous. On these occasions, I've always been very sympathetic to biologists who must contend with creationists. We have both spent a great deal of our lives observing reality, and whatever the flaws of our theories may be, there are certain facts of our observations (i.e., that evolution happened/is happening or that language learning is too complicated to succeed without some innate biases) that demand explanation. So it's always bother me that the creationists and the caring, well-meaning progressives were acting the same. From your blog, I now appreciate that it is because they are the same.

July 18, 2008 at 10:49 AM  
Anonymous m said...

Best blog on the internet. Although it's not a problem for me, everyone I link it to finds it meandering and verbose, though...fyi.

July 18, 2008 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

blode,

Yes, "pro-government libertarianism" is, or rather can be, more like a swimming whale. But as you infer, this turns ona semantic distinction, between the meaning of government as versus state. Most people today conflate the two, which is natural, for two reasons that I'll mention shortly.

However, we -- especially we moldbuggers -- can make fine distinctions.
Government is simply the state of being governed, and also, the institutions which impose said government. The state is a particular institutional form of government, where one group gets a monopoly over the legitimized use of violence.

(Note that I use a slight variant of the Weberian definition of the state; in his the state is the group with legitimate use of violence; in mine it is merely legitimized. A true moldbugger should appreciate this difference, since who do you think does the legitimization? The state itself, and its apologists!)

As I said, most people today conflate the concepts of government and state. This is, I think, for two reasons. First, the big flashy uses of legitimized violence are all done by the state, of course. Even though we are governed by all sorts of means outside of the state, it is the state that ultimately backstops many of these.

Second, though, is of course the moldbuggian reason: the state has no interest in anarchism. Therefore it stands to benefit from making it unthinkable. It is clear to most people except perhaps the most educated that at least some men must be governed -- criminals. Given that at least some men must be governed, there must be government in some form. If the state manages to identify government with the state, then it makes itself that much stronger. Thus, anarchism in the popular mind has come to mean nihilism; the complete lack of any order; bomb-throwing wreckers who'd lay us open to criminals.

July 18, 2008 at 1:22 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

Saturday's Anonymous: The overall argument against returning to the system of jurisdiction as property - as you propose - is how do you prevent the sovereign ( ie the security forces) from violating the arrangement and appropriating the property?

The answer is that in Juristopia there is no sovereign. There is not even a single security force -- it is divided between continental armed forces (responsible for invasions and very large insurrections only) and a wide variety of police forces that are local, specialized, or both (responsible for crimes, terrorism, and small insurrections), with essentially complete separation between them based on political property rights. There is a commander-in-chief of the armed forces and there is an extraordinary court (hearing only claims of both a procedural and constitutional nature, e.g. trespass on political property rights), there are numerous police forces (based on political property rights), there are numerous normal courts (hearing normal cases), and complete separation based on peer-to-peer relationships (i.e. property relations) between all of these.

To be entitled to the political property right to bear military arms, all security forces swear an oath to to the (heavily amended) Constitution, and thus to protect political property rights. There is no more reason to expect them to violate their oaths than U.S. forces violate their oaths to uphold the Constitutution today (and for the Commander-in-Chief there is less reason,because the Commdander-in-Chief is _only_ a Commander-in-Chief of the continental forces, with no role in domestic politics).

The military situation today is quite different from the age of limited monarchies.

Political property rights were destroyed primarily by Parliament (wielding its very abusive power of arbitrary legislation, which would not exist in Juristopia) and secondarily by the King's Courts (trespassing on the political property rights of franchise courts because unrestrained by a written constitution limiting their power to extraordinary cases, which Juristopia would have, and because of conflicts of interest between their political property rights and substantive jurisdictions, which in Juristopia would be separated). Military power had nothing to do with it, except in the sense that the Channel gave England more luxury in crafting its political and legal structures to meet concerns other than external security, e.g. individual liberty.

I actually created a counter-proposal to MM that was very close to your Juristopia and unpredictable elections idea ( You can read it here.

This is pretty good, except that I strongly disagree with the idea that the States (or anybody else) should be sovereign. Indeed States and counties should be abolished and replaced by a wide variety of political properties. Many political property borders would for convenience coincide with the borders of the old States and counties, but just as at the federal level states would be very trimmed down and divided into a number of completely separate political property rights over different subject matters in the same territory (e.g. criminal law would be a complete different political property than tort law, the two just happening to share the same physical boundaries corresponding to the old States).

Are you of the mind that reform at the Constitutional/system level is necessary? I think, as MM was saying, the important thing is to agree that systematic reform is necessary, along some kind of propertarian lines

Yes we need reform, but MM's political communism (all political property vested in the Receiver, or in the heir to the Stuarts, or some other dictator) makes a mockery of political property rights. Real property rights are peer-to-peer, symmetric (at level of the rules) relationships, quite the opposite of the master-servant relationships you'd get by having an overall boss.

July 18, 2008 at 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Blode said...

Juristopia sounds fascinating but I think it needs a name change. Anything word related to "utopia" will always be understood as a dystopia by people used to the release of a major dystopian movie or novel about once a month. I'll try to think of a better name but don't hold your breath! Thanks for posting Nick.

July 18, 2008 at 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Saturday's Anonymous said...

Nick-

I left the existing states in tact, because dissolving the federal government and the state governments at the same time seems to make the new constitution even more difficult to pass.

Ideally, I was thinking you'd divide the continent into around 500 city-states. Each city-state could be a monarchy, republic, neocamerelist, juristopia, etc. depending on what kind of constitution the citizens voted on at the beginning. There would be a set of Intrastate Courts that would judge disputes between the citizens and the state. The state would announce beforehand which court was the official court of that state, and could change courts with one year notice. Any set of judges could apply to the Continental Council to become an official court. The state could only select from among these approved courts. I'm trying to solve the dual problems of 1) a state cannot be a judge of its own case 2) if a supreme court has full power, it then becomes the sovereign. Thus the state gets to choose the court that hears it cases, but must select from among courts that have been approved by the Continental Council.

By having 500 city-states, you would give a citizens a substantial power of the feet, which would help ensure good governance.

I'm trying to grasp more precisely how your system works. Let's use Cleveland, Ohio as an example. So first we dissolve the state government. Then do we privatize the Cuyahoga River and give property rights over it to some entity? What do we do with the roads, privatize and grant to another entity? And give the power lines to someone else?

And then I suppose we'd have a "Cleveland Protection Agency" that would do law enforcement? Or would we have multiple police forces? Who controls the police force? How do they get paid? And who determines if they have the right to arrest someone? Are criminal courts limited by geographic jurisdiction, or do they have overlapping jurisdictions?

Is there any entity that has rights of taxation? Is there any entity that could do things to promote the city in general - create tourism campaigns, attract industries, build parks - and then collect part of the gains in taxes? Or would this all have to be done by voluntary cooperation, such as that of the chamber of commerce?

Would there be any zoning laws? Or would that be settled through the torts courts?

Would there be any power of eminent domain? If not, how would you deal with the holdout problem? It's hard to imagine any kind of road or rail getting built without eminent domain ( but I haven't really studied the issue).

July 18, 2008 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

@Chris,

There are many progressives who manage to reconcile the fact of biologically innate capabilities with left-wing political views. This group would inclde Chomsky, of course, as well as Robert Trivers, one of the leading theorists of evolutionary psychology who was also one of the few white members of the Black Panthers. George Lakoff, a leading cognitive scientist focused on embodied cognition, also founded a thinktank dedicated to producing better metaphors for the progressive movement (the Rockridge Institute). Progressivism no doubt has inherited some bad ideas from the older Blank Slate theories of mind, but does not depend on them in any essential way as you suggest.

July 18, 2008 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger master_of_americans said...

It's obvious that anyone would feel fear and anger at the prospect of being hit over the head by a mugger. It's a triviality which hardly merits expression. The fact, then, that people do not comment on it so often does not strike me as very telling.

Would I rather have martial law or MS-13's reign of terror? I would rather not have either, thanks.

July 19, 2008 at 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am no one of consequence, merely a reader of the blog. I share some of Mr. Moldbug's intellectual interests, and I have noted that he keeps returning to a particular idea: that Westerners have been indoctrinated for generations to be feckless weaklings.

I must therefore wonder whether Mr. Moldbug, or others here, have read Neal Stephenson's long sprawling essay, "In the Beginning was the Command Line." It is mostly about computer operating systems--another interest of Mr. Moldbug's, I have noticed--but also towards the end goes off on a fascinating tangent about popular culture and certain rather disturbing messages he has discerned written rather unsubtly into the propaganda that passes for entertainment. The propaganda is childish, crude, obviously didactic--it makes Stalinist agitprop murals of the musclebound New Soviet Man on the wall of People's Glorious Tractor Factory #47 look positively subtle and nuanced--yet inescapable short of throwing away your television set and never attending a Hollywood movie nor reading a newspaper again. It even creeps in around the edges in things like the murals one gazes upon while in line for the rides at Disneyland, he notes with some small consternation. He may use different terminology but I think he may have noticed the existence of the entity Mr. Moldbug calls the Cathedral.

I must therefore ask whether anyone else has read this essay and found it thought-provoking. I have read it and found it to be stimulating indeed. Anyone wishing to read it can find it trivially with Google.

Thanks.

July 19, 2008 at 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Blode said...

Dear Mr. Stephenson, please quit promoting your material in this dishonest manner.

Just kidding. I did like the article. I had never heard of BeOS so that angle was interesting although I'm sure I didn't get the finer points. It was a little hard to find the points that No One of Consequence is referring to (I read about the first third, skipped to the last quarter, and went back and found that the relevant section is surely "The Interface Culture").

He uses the Eloi-and-Morlock metaphor - one of the most commonly used early SF references I've seen - in a fresh way. (Usually it's with Eloi as young affluent women trained to trust violent criminals, and Morlock as the young men who stop just short of cannabilism.)

What Stephenson performs is pretty much the same body slam that nihilism and multiculturalism deserve and are increasingly getting, thanks to the web. (Heather MacDonald does it too, in a more direct way.)

Says Mr. Snow Diamond, "The lesson most people are taking home from the Twentieth Century is that, in order for a large number of different cultures to coexist peacefully on the globe (or even in a neighborhood) it is necessary for people to suspend judgment in this way. Hence (I would argue) our suspicion of, and hostility towards, all authority figures in modern culture.... It comes through as the presumption that all authority figures--teachers, generals, cops, ministers, politicians--are hypocritical buffoons, and that hip jaded coolness is the only way to be."

Good stuff. I wrote an essay once, tragically rejected by Vanity Fair, in which I argue much the same, also adding that of course it is easy to convince people of anything if you convincingly wear the disguise of anti-authoritarianism. Anti-authority authority figures convince children to slice their bodies with knives ... a point just about midway between absurdity and atrocity.

Moldbug hasn't talked a lot about the common-culture aspects of leftism. He's more into warnings about crime, violence, crime, Nazis, and things that aren't legal because they are violent. I'd love to hear his take on promiscuity, literacy, self-esteem, self-loathing, etc. (As to Stephenson's ostensible topic, I think Moldbug uses a Mac.)

July 20, 2008 at 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ideally, I was thinking you'd divide the continent into around 500 city-states.

So how does this work when the rest of the world is not divided into tiny city states? Heck, forget China, even Mexico is a superpower compared to any given city in the southwest. This is an open invitation to foreign meddling and for each city state to invite foreigners to arbitrate disputes with its neighbors. A nightmare!

The Federalist papers (e.g. #3 to #9) explain quite clearly and correctly why a union provided much more safety than did 13 separate colonies. This is even more true for 500 city-states than if you devolved into 50 separate states.

July 21, 2008 at 9:13 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

It all goes back to a simple formula for a successful state, one that MM for some reason isn't mentioning: either stay as an ethno-state or run things with a dominant market majority.

July 21, 2008 at 2:43 PM  
Anonymous MLR said...

@ 9:13 Anon

MM earlier mentioned a system whereby nuclear states would form treaty organizations that would govern international relations. Other nations wouldnt have to break into smaller component pieces for, say, the Serene Republic of St. Louis to purchase a place under the nuclear protection of Cheyenne/Greater Wyoming (an area that might not have much by way of industrial or finance oomph, but could sure make a pretty penny selling nuclear protection to smaller city states; under MM's model, those smaller, non-nuke states would also pledge to forgo the dev of their own nuke programmes. All this is in an earlier post, all stable, all very well explained, I thought).

It would only take one nuke to ruin, say, Mexico. And as MM has postulated, it would ultimately take only the (certain, formalized) threat of a single nuke to prevent aggression in the first place.

July 21, 2008 at 3:00 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

saturday's anonymous: I left the existing states in tact, because dissolving the federal government and the state governments at the same time seems to make the new constitution even more difficult to pass.

I don't disagree with this as a practical matter. Juristopia is a theoretical construct, a design as if one had to start from scratch. But I very much disrecommended actually implementing any political or legal system designed from scratch.

I'm trying to solve the dual problems of 1) a state cannot be a judge of its own case 2) if a supreme court has full power, it then becomes the sovereign.

The antidote to sovereignty is to not give anybody full power -- or even anything close to it. One can, for example, have multiple Supreme Courts with jurisdiction over different kinds of disputes. For example substantive cases involving { disputes between States }, { disputes between citizens and States }, { disputes between citizens of different States }, etc. each could have their own different and independent set of courts. Another way to divide this up is by subject matter: criminal vs. civil, substantive vs. procedural, and various subsets of same. (I'm using "States" here for convenience; one could substitute other kinds of entities such as courts having political property rights over the subject matter of the dispute but over different territories, with these "federal" courts getting jurisdiction what in legal lingo we call "diversity" cases, i.e. disputes between different jurisdictions or citizens of those jurisdictions as listed above).

My "topmost" court, if it makes sense to call it that, is the Extraordinary Court. It hears only issues that are both procedural and Constitutional (the Constitution here being a bare-bones federal constitution covering relationships between States etc.) Another way to put it is that it hears only disputes over political property rights that can't be otherwise arbitrated or settled. It can never render a final verdict over a substantive case, it can only remand them with instructions about how to resolve the relevant political property rights dispute (e.g. which court gets jurisdiction). Any substantive verdicts it issues will be ignored by any security personnel following their oaths to uphold the Constitution.

July 21, 2008 at 3:04 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

saturday's anonymous: I left the existing states in tact, because dissolving the federal government and the state governments at the same time seems to make the new constitution even more difficult to pass.

I don't disagree with this as a practical matter. Juristopia is a theoretical construct, a design as if one had to design from scratch. But I very much disrecommended actually implementing any political or legal system designed from scratch.

I'm trying to solve the dual problems of 1) a state cannot be a judge of its own case 2) if a supreme court has full power, it then becomes the sovereign.

The general antidote to sovereignty is to make sure that nobody has full power -- or even anything close to it. Divide it up and design protocols for how the divided powers can deal with each other on a largely peer-to-peer basis. (The good news is that political property rights provide a very general set of such peer-to-peer protocols). One can, for example, have multiple Supreme Courts with jurisdiction over different kinds of disputes. For example substantive cases involving { disputes between States }, { disputes between citizens and States }, { disputes between citizens of different States }, etc. each could have their own different and independent set of courts. Another way to divide this up is by subject matter: criminal vs. civil, substantive vs. procedural, and various subsets of same. (I'm using "States" here for convenience; one could substitute other kinds of entities such as courts having political property rights over the subject matter of the dispute but over different territories, with these "federal" courts getting jurisdiction what in legal lingo we call "diversity" cases, i.e. disputes between different jurisdictions or citizens of those jurisdictions as listed above).

Juristopia's "topmost" court, if it makes sense to call it that, is the Supreme Extraordinary Court, which presides over a small system of local Extraordinary Courts (ECs). The Supreme EC is modelled on what the old English King's Court would have been if it had been stripped of all substantive jurisdiction, leaving only its procedural jurisdiction, i.e. its responsibility in making sure other entities wielding political power stay within the bounds of their political properties. (Note that the subject matter boundaries of political properties are even more important than their territorial boundaries -- in this sense these properties are more like patents than like real estate, although they do have physical borders as well). ECs hears only issues that are both procedural and Constitutional (the Constitution here being a bare-bones federal constitution covering relationships between States and certain individual procedural rights that all wielders of coercive power must respect). Another way to put it is that ECs hear only disputes over political property rights that can't be otherwise arbitrated or settled. It can never render a final verdict over a substantive case, it can only remand such cases with instructions about how to resolve the relevant political property rights dispute (e.g. which court gets jurisdiction, or whether a court has exceeded the boundaries of its political property). Any substantive verdicts an EC issues will be ignored by any security personnel following their oaths to uphold the Constitution.

BTW, it helps to think of constitutions as charters or deeds granting political property rights -- indeed the U.S. Constitution was inspired just by such charters.

Besides normal property relationships (e.g. against trespassing on the territory or subject matter of another political property), think of the basic building block of these protocols as writs. To own a the political property right to issue a certain kind of writ is to have the right to issue a specific narrow kind of command to certain others (as specified in the charter). They are very special and very narrow kinds of commands. If they are the proper command they must be obeyed but all improper commands can and must be ignored.

For example the writ of habeus corpus is a command from a court that owns the political property right to issue that writ, to somebody holding a prisoner,to produce that prisoner in front of the court and demand justification for the imprisonment. A related writ gives the court the further power to command release of the prisoner if insufficient justification is given -- and may specify what kinds of justification are and are not proper. Just because a court owns the right to issue one specific kind of command to certain specific people (and to have that command obeyed) does not give the court any other powers.

In Juristopia there are a wide variety of normal writs which the Extraordinary Courts (ECs) can't issue. ECs can only issue the following extraordinary writs:

Habeus corpus to any other person, as well as the right to demand release of the prisoner if the prisoner's political property rights have been violated by breach of the procedure that define the bounds of the political property rights of the arrestor(s) and imprisonor(s). The power to issue the writ of habeus corpus is shared concurrently with some other courts (for example a number of lower-level ECs, see below), but the Supreme EC's writ takes precedent. This writ is granted to the ECs because the physical liberty of an individual is a basic and highest-level political property right (and because of the historical precedent of English courts).

Trespass on the EC's jurisdiction -- This is a tricky one since it involves the EC being a judge in it's own case, but may be a narrow enough exception to the rule. Still, if workable we should give this power to a peer court, and give the EC power to judge trespasses on that peer court.

Trespass on others' political property rights -- There is a hierarchy of political property grants, starting with powers granted by the highest-level charter (Constitution). The Supreme EC hears only appeals of cases involving political property at the top of the hierarchy -- there are lower EC's that hear cases further down the grant hieararchy.

Quo warranto This is a title challenge to political property. In other words, it allows a person to challenge the right of another person to exercise a political power, even if no alleged trespass (i.e. no exercise of the disputed political power) has actually occurred. As with trespass on political property, the Supreme EC hears only cases involving the highest-level charter, the Constitution.

That's it. The ECs do not hear general appeals, they do not hear substantive issues, and they don't even hear most procedural issues. For 99% of legal issues they are not a Supreme Court that gets the final word. The EC can free an individual from jail but it can never throw anybody in jail, except for contempt of court in failing to pay a fine or follow an injunction stemming from a jurisdictional trespass. The EC has no jurisdiction over cases involving non-political property. They don't have jurisdiction over any torts or crimes except, concurrently, false imprisonment and kidnapping (via habeus corpus) and the tort of trespass on a political property. They don't have jurisdiction over contracts, unless the contract involves and the dispute raises an issue of political property rights, and then only to resolve that particular point, not to give a general verdict in the case.

One can think of this as a "microkernel" or "nanokernel" government. The ECs address only the most basic and abstract of issues, only enough to provide a political property rights protocol for coordinating the many and varied wielders of substantive political power.

July 21, 2008 at 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Blode said...

Dang, Nick, I'm hungry for more already. If you're not going to start a blog (or if you are going to start one, but like me, haven't got round to it), at least tell me who should pick judges. Saturday Anon's plan is for a (very) indirectly elected council to pick the judges. Others have suggested a judges picked by a combination of lottery and standardized test. How about you?

You mention the need to learn "actual history of institutions such as law and political structure." Good point. Where to start? I'm thinking in particular of English (and Scottish, I suppose) law and justice from, say, 1066 to 1607 (William the Conqueror to Jamestown). I bet there's no Idiot's Guide to Plantagenet Jurisprudence, but something along those lines. :)

July 21, 2008 at 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Saturday's Anonymous said...

Nick-

I second Blode's request for a reading list :-)

Blode - Nick has a wonderful blog ( it's worth reading his entire archive ). You can read his original post on Juristopia here.

July 21, 2008 at 6:50 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

As it turns out I do have a blog, Unenumerated. Here's an early and somewhat fantastic version of Juristopia.

The justices can initially be chosen by an unpredictable election method or straight lottery from a pre-existing slate of lower court judges, and thereafter may choose their own successors (like the Catholic Church's College of Cardinals). This cuts them off completely from serving as agents of another set of politicians. Or successive members might be chosen by an unpredictable election as follows: a large-scale direct vote (one vote per dollar of tax paid), lottery, a smaller vote by members of the legal bar (to weed out people who aren't expert at law), another lottery, another large-scale direct vote by taxpayers, final lottery.

It's also important that the EC courts be physically separated from other politicians: in Juristopia there are no capital cities, instead courts and other political properties are scattered around the continent as widely as is economically feasible. This prevents Beltway-like political monocultures from forming.

As for relevant legal and institutional history, there's plenty out there, but Juristopia was primarily inspired by my own original historical research on the late medieval and early modern English legal system, much of it written up in my paper Jurisdiction as Property -- it describes the real-life medieval and renaissance English version of Juristopia (but with kings) and the real versions of the writs I have briefly described above. Indeed it covers practically the same timeframe you cite, starting a bit after William during the reign of Henry II and ending early in the 17th century under James I.

July 21, 2008 at 6:53 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

Ha -- saturday's anonymous beat me to it. :-)

Here's a bit of a reading list, although due warning, they involve both archaic language and legal language, often both at the same time, so they will keep you busy in Google and it wouldn't hurt to have the big version of Black's Law Dictionary standing by. (You can also try the online law dictionaries, but for medieval law terms what I've seen in them so far, which is admittedly not much, has not been very impressive).

William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England. This is a good reference for the English common law after the period I cover but before the modern, specifically the mid 18th century. Even just looking through the table of contents is very illuminating. Even though the entire English system of government is described by Blackstone, there is no heading labelled "the government" or "the state" or similar. Even in the late 18th century the functions we now identify with "government" still legally emerged from "the rights of persons", i.e. the political property rights of the king and others. In other words, English government worked the way it did because of a long evolution of interactions between various holders of English political property rights, not because "the people" wanted "a government" and designed it that way. Although Crown and Parliament by the time of Blackstone were dominant, what was left of political property rights law beyond the Crown and Parliament by then can be found under incorporeal hereditaments -- search the text for "franchise".

Here are some references covering certain aspects of franchises (among other topics) during the time period of my paper:

Helen Cam, Law Finders and Law-Makers in Medieval England (Barnes and Noble 1962)

Donald W. Sutherland, The Quo Warranto Proceedings in the Reign of Edward I, 1278-1294

Steve Sheppard, ed., The Selected Writings of Sir Edward
Coke, v.s I & II 762 (Liberty Fund 2003)

A good general history of the common law is W.S. Holdsworth, A History of
the English Law (Little, Brown & Co. 1908), especially v. I which covers private jurisdictions.

If you are really ambitious you can do what I did and read the original law cases yourself (in modern English translaction alongside the actual Law French and Latin used by medieval lawyers) in Seldon Society volumes such as this one. If you can gain access to a good law school library you will find a large number of these Seldon Society volumes: look especially for cases on trespass, habeus corpus, prohibition, and quo warranto.

It's also useful just to Google terms like "quo warranto", "prohibitio", "infangthief", "soc and sac", "withernam", "the sheriff's pleas", "pleas of hue and bloodshed", "return of royal writs", "county palatine", and so on, as there are many interesting sources online, and most interestingly a number of medieval charters which have been translated and put online -- these are are basically deeds of political property rights and give a good feel for the system, although what has survived and been put online is heavily biased in favor of grants from the king rather than grants lower down in the grant hierarchy. The American Colonial charters and many other British colonial charters are also online.

I still recommend as an introduction to all this my own paper, which links all the various pieces of the English law of political property rights together into its basic structure.

July 21, 2008 at 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Blode said...

Oh, duh, Nick = Nick Szabo. Looks like I'm not making obvious connections this week, although in my defense I haven't been to Unenumerated in months.

Thanks for the information.

July 22, 2008 at 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Moden_Justice said...

Yes, the British are 'nice' to criminals... well no. They are nice to the criminals that are necessary to scare the public. Or necessary for mass-immigration. Or if those in charge feel like it.

Ah, but what if those in charge DON'T feel like it? Well then anyone in the public can be 'put-down' by his betters for any reason... or no reason.

Keyword:
Operation Ore

Based on the Iron Clad Super-Evidence, coming from Americans, of some English having their credit card numbers used to pay to access 'child' porn-sites, the police arrested and destroyed hundreds of mens lives. Naturally, the police immediately contacted these mens employers, about the possibility that they were child-rapists. The men were, of course, immediately fired.

Let's try to ignore, for a second, wether I care that a man looked at a picture of a naked SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD 'girl'. Or wether, even if wrong, this is sufficient grounds to destroy his life. Or wether the Englishman from 50 years ago would think it was sufficient justification.

Let's instead look at the 'evidence'. Credit card numbers are like fingerprints. Decisive, and absolute identification for any individual. I mean, how could someone steal a credit card number?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Offences_Act_2003
'The definition of child pornography has been changed to also include images of 16 and 17 year olds (note that the age of consent remains at 16).'

The age of consent remains at 16!
So remember 18 year old men, you can bang your 17 year old girlfriend but no nudie pictures on the computer! IT'S THE LAW! That child you just had sex with would feel cheap and exploited! Really, I'm having trouble controlling my desire to REALLY make fun of this.

Modern Justice is neat, you can do whatever you want.

July 22, 2008 at 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MM earlier mentioned a system whereby nuclear states would form treaty organizations that would govern international relations. Other nations wouldnt have to break into smaller component pieces for, say, the Serene Republic of St. Louis to purchase a place under the nuclear protection of Cheyenne/Greater Wyoming (an area that might not have much by way of industrial or finance oomph, but could sure make a pretty penny selling nuclear protection to smaller city states; under MM's model, those smaller, non-nuke states would also pledge to forgo the dev of their own nuke programmes. All this is in an earlier post, all stable, all very well explained, I thought).

I guess you are referring to this post about "nuclear neocolonialism".

One of the problems with this approach is that the American nuclear deterrent cannot be "devolved" such that Cheyenne is a viable nuclear power (or any of the other nuclear airbases, missile fields, or sub bases). ICBMs, nuclear weapons, the command and control infrastructure, and the space-based early warning systems are not built in Cheyenne or even all of Wyoming! Nor does Cheyenne alone have the technical expertise (contractors and military operators) to build, maintain and operate the ICBMs and nukes at the local base. These weapons, their builders and operators, and the supporting systems are the result of a national effort that involves the human, financial, and material resources of the entire USA. If you broke the US down into 50 states (let alone 500 city-states) the US nuclear deterrent would almost instantly become non-viable. Cheyenne would have nothing to sell, and the other city-states would have nobody to protect them, unless they appealed to other nuclear nations such as Russia or China or France, but this is exactly the problem I referred to in my previous post - devolving the country creates a vast opportunity for foreign meddling.

By the way, as soon as the USA announced its "devolution", the other nuclear powers (China, Russia, France, Britain) would announce that they are sending multi-national teams to secure the former US nuclear arsenal and prevent the threat of "loose nukes". Cheyenne, Minot, Malmstrom, Bangor, King's Bay, Barksdale, Whiteman - give 'em up, or face our combined wrath. You will be well paid for your trouble, and your nuclear experts given fine new homes in London, Paris, Moscow and Beijing!

Option B, of course, is that as soon as the USA devolves, Russia or China would wait until the US early warning satellites and radars went away - which would only be a matter of time if the USA was not building and maintaining them - and then hit the nuclear facilities with a preventive strike. There are not a lot of US nuclear facilities, and without early warning, such a strike would have an excellent chance to succeed. Then they offer to put the rest of the city states of the former USA under their benevolent protection for a "nominal fee".

It would only take one nuke to ruin, say, Mexico. And as MM has postulated, it would ultimately take only the (certain, formalized) threat of a single nuke to prevent aggression in the first place.

Well, no, it wouldn't take only one nuke to ruin Mexico. But let's say somehow Cheyenne has enough nukes to ruin Mexico, however many that is. All Mexico has to do is team up with the Chinese for nuclear protection, and the Mexicans then take San Diego. If Cheyenne nukes Mexico, China nukes Cheyenne. What is Cheyenne's incentive to risk getting nuked for San Diego? None whatsoever. It is not even remotely credible to argue that a city-state can provide a nuclear umbrella for others. All Cheyenne can hope to do is use its nukes to deter invasion from its immediate neighbors and perhaps threaten to blow itself up, making any invasion pointless.

All this leaves aside the issue mentioned above, that if Cheyenne had nukes at all, it would not have viable delivery systems other than trucks for very long after the "North American devolution".

July 23, 2008 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger peco said...

One of the problems with this approach is that the American nuclear deterrent cannot be "devolved" such that Cheyenne is a viable nuclear power (or any of the other nuclear airbases, missile fields, or sub bases). ICBMs, nuclear weapons, the command and control infrastructure, and the space-based early warning systems are not built in Cheyenne or even all of Wyoming! Nor does Cheyenne alone have the technical expertise (contractors and military operators) to build, maintain and operate the ICBMs and nukes at the local base. These weapons, their builders and operators, and the supporting systems are the result of a national effort that involves the human, financial, and material resources of the entire USA. If you broke the US down into 50 states (let alone 500 city-states) the US nuclear deterrent would almost instantly become non-viable. Cheyenne would have nothing to sell, and the other city-states would have nobody to protect them, unless they appealed to other nuclear nations such as Russia or China or France, but this is exactly the problem I referred to in my previous post - devolving the country creates a vast opportunity for foreign meddling.

Well, since Cheyenne could get an enormous amount of money from the other city-states in exchange for protection, it could use most of the money to hire people from neighboring city-states to maintain its nuclear arsenal. It can buy the infrastructure from the other city-states and profit from doing this. All this assumes that Cheyenne is the first city-state to start offering protection, but if it isn't, the other city-states are already protected anyway.

What is Cheyenne's incentive to risk getting nuked for San Diego? None whatsoever.

The other city-states will stop buying protection if they see that Cheyenne can't protect them. Cheyenne won't be completely destroyed if it gets nuked (unlike Mexico) because it gets a lot of money from the other city-states. Also, why would China agree to protect Mexico? Cheyenne would threaten to nuke China instead, and China would stop threatening it.

By the way, as soon as the USA announced its "devolution", the other nuclear powers (China, Russia, France, Britain) would announce that they are sending multi-national teams to secure the former US nuclear arsenal and prevent the threat of "loose nukes". Cheyenne, Minot, Malmstrom, Bangor, King's Bay, Barksdale, Whiteman - give 'em up, or face our combined wrath. You will be well paid for your trouble, and your nuclear experts given fine new homes in London, Paris, Moscow and Beijing!

How would the nuclear powers get their hands on the weapons without getting nuked? The U.S. has enough nukes to nuke them all, so the city-states with nuclear weapons would cooperate.

July 23, 2008 at 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, since Cheyenne could get an enormous amount of money from the other city-states in exchange for protection,

No, they wouldn't get that money. Once the other states were not forced to contribute by the Federal government, there would be an enormous free rider problem in which the city-states not on the front line with Mexico would contribute little or nothing, just as the smaller members of military alliances always do. Why would Peoria want to pay Cheyenne to protect San Diego? The San Diegans are a far away people about which Peorians know nothing!

it could use most of the money to hire people from neighboring city-states to maintain its nuclear arsenal. It can buy the infrastructure from the other city-states and profit from doing this. All this assumes that Cheyenne is the first city-state to start offering protection, but if it isn't, the other city-states are already protected anyway.

You obviously don't understand the magnitude of the commitment required to create and maintain an effective nuclear strike system. Historically this has required a major effort by continental-sized powers, and the lesser states that achieved this only did so with significant help from outside parties. Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea are far more significant powers than any North American city state would be, and their nuclear deterrent forces are barely credible if they actually exist at all. The US government spent about $8 trillion in 2008 dollars to create its strategic weapons complex, and you think the devolved North America is going to band together and recreate this complex - or even a significant fraction of it - in one city? It's laughable. The US government spends about $35 billion a year in 2008 dollars to maintain and operate its nuclear forces, and you think the devolved North America is going to band together and sustain some fraction of this in one city? It's laughable. Keep in mind that you're trying to do this with the cheapest system, the ICBM. If Bangor Washington wanted to maintain its own missile sub fleet, or Whiteman Missouri wanted to maintain its own B-2 bomber fleet, their costs would be astronomical compared to what Cheyenne would have to spend. Plus with each additional potential "nuclear protector city", you require all the other non-nuclear cities to pay to duplicate the single research, development, production, command/control/communication, and space-based intelligence system that the US has to support its strategic forces. Not cost effective, not plausible. In short, the US nuclear arsenal exists because the US Federal government exists, and as soon as the US Federal government stops existing, the US nuclear arsenal will stop existing.

Cheyenne won't be completely destroyed if it gets nuked (unlike Mexico) because it gets a lot of money from the other city-states.

What are you talking about??? One small city will not be completely destroyed if it gets nuked, but a whole country will???

Also, why would China agree to protect Mexico? Cheyenne would threaten to nuke China instead, and China would stop threatening it.

How can you possibly argue that Cheyenne would agree to protect San Diego but China would not agree to protect Mexico?

To use MM's terms, Mexico would have an affiliation with the China nuclear sovorg. China would have vastly superior nuclear capabilities to Cheyenne - there would be no uncertainty about the outcome of a nuclear conflict between China and Cheyenne. China could easily execute a disarming strike on Cheyenne, but Cheyenne could not execute a disarming strike on China. Nuclear war would be suicide for Cheyenne, but not for China. Therefore, the idea that Cheyenne could threaten to nuke China, and this would make China back off, simply is not credible. China says, hey Cheyenne, Mexico is going to eat San Diego, you feel like committing suicide over that? Cheyenne says, hmmm, no, guess not, even the opportunity to pull a bunch of hair out of China's scalp on San Diego's behalf isn't worth it, carry on.

By the way, as soon as the USA announced its "devolution", the other nuclear powers (China, Russia, France, Britain) would announce that they are sending multi-national teams to secure the former US nuclear arsenal and prevent the threat of "loose nukes". Cheyenne, Minot, Malmstrom, Bangor, King's Bay, Barksdale, Whiteman - give 'em up, or face our combined wrath. You will be well paid for your trouble, and your nuclear experts given fine new homes in London, Paris, Moscow and Beijing!

How would the nuclear powers get their hands on the weapons without getting nuked? The U.S. has enough nukes to nuke them all, so the city-states with nuclear weapons would cooperate.


THERE IS NO UNITED STATES! You have presupposed that the US has devolved into 500 individual city states. The idea that some large number of city-states could cooperate to maintain the US strategic force is laughable for the reasons I mentioned above - it's simply too big of an effort for anything short of the Federal government to do. Very shortly after the devolution, a lot of the nuclear forces would become totally ineffective through lack of maintenance, and thus the outside powers would really only have to concentrate on a few of the city states. If any given city state has a choice between (a) giving up its nukes and receiving aid and protection from China in return, or (b) attempting to simultaneously assemble a coalition of nuclear-armed city states, coax billions of dollars out of the non-nuclear-armed city states, and threaten to commit suicide in a confrontation with China, that's not a hard choice. Any sensible city state will say that cooperation and nuclear disarmament are far easier and more profitable than a defiant effort to become North America's nuclear Godfather.

The breakup of the USSR is somewhat instructive. In both Kazakhstan and Ukraine, there was some sentiment that they should keep the Soviet nukes based on their soil as a hedge against future Russian threats. The US dangled promises of aid and security if they gave up their nukes, and ultimately, they did. They didn't make any infantile threats about nuking anyone who tried to take their nukes, they rolled over and took the cash. Hard to see why any city-state in a devolved North America would do otherwise.

July 24, 2008 at 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Reimer said...

Philosophers and the masses calling time on Communism in E Europe? I still haven't come across an account of how or why the Eastern Bloc's guard changed so quietly & quickly that is congruent with how easily that entire realm's guard marched in in the first place AND with what has been accelerating in the West ever since (something like Communism V2.0, the post-Fordist derivative). Should I be reading about changes in how national debt is treated by the finance mavens to understand why the Sovbloc elite agreed to the makeover?

July 24, 2008 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger peco said...

No, they wouldn't get that money. Once the other states were not forced to contribute by the Federal government, there would be an enormous free rider problem in which the city-states not on the front line with Mexico would contribute little or nothing, just as the smaller members of military alliances always do. Why would Peoria want to pay Cheyenne to protect San Diego? The San Diegans are a far away people about which Peorians know nothing!

Peoria pays Cheyenne to protect itself. If only San Diego bought protection, Cheyenne could charge a lot of money.

You obviously don't understand the magnitude of the commitment required to create and maintain an effective nuclear strike system. Historically this has required a major effort by continental-sized powers, and the lesser states that achieved this only did so with significant help from outside parties. Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea are far more significant powers than any North American city state would be, and their nuclear deterrent forces are barely credible if they actually exist at all. The US government spent about $8 trillion in 2008 dollars to create its strategic weapons complex, and you think the devolved North America is going to band together and recreate this complex - or even a significant fraction of it - in one city? It's laughable. The US government spends about $35 billion a year in 2008 dollars to maintain and operate its nuclear forces, and you think the devolved North America is going to band together and sustain some fraction of this in one city? It's laughable. Keep in mind that you're trying to do this with the cheapest system, the ICBM. If Bangor Washington wanted to maintain its own missile sub fleet, or Whiteman Missouri wanted to maintain its own B-2 bomber fleet, their costs would be astronomical compared to what Cheyenne would have to spend. Plus with each additional potential "nuclear protector city", you require all the other non-nuclear cities to pay to duplicate the single research, development, production, command/control/communication, and space-based intelligence system that the US has to support its strategic forces. Not cost effective, not plausible. In short, the US nuclear arsenal exists because the US Federal government exists, and as soon as the US Federal government stops existing, the US nuclear arsenal will stop existing.

Wyoming got about $1 billion in tax revenue in 2007 (see this. That isn't enough, but Wyoming could ask all the city-states in California to give 1% of their GDP for protection. California's 2006 GDP was %1.7 trillion, so this would be $17 billion. This is enough to give basic protection to everyone. The cost per city-state decreases as you have more city-states sign up. The U.S. spent 3.7% of its GDP (all statistics from Wikipedia) on its military in 2006, so 1% of GDP isn't too expensive. If the city-states need another 2% of GDP to stop revolutions, it will still only spend 3% of its GDP.

The breakup of the USSR is somewhat instructive. In both Kazakhstan and Ukraine, there was some sentiment that they should keep the Soviet nukes based on their soil as a hedge against future Russian threats. The US dangled promises of aid and security if they gave up their nukes, and ultimately, they did. They didn't make any infantile threats about nuking anyone who tried to take their nukes, they rolled over and took the cash. Hard to see why any city-state in a devolved North America would do otherwise.

The money would be very good for "central North America." The other countries will offer more money than the U.S. did because central North America already has a lot of money (compared to the former USSR).

Very shortly after the devolution, a lot of the nuclear forces would become totally ineffective through lack of maintenance

Wyoming/Cheyenne could offer free protection in exchange for their nuclear-weapons-related infrastructure (and the weapons themselves, of course).

Hard to see why any city-state in a devolved North America would do otherwise.

Once there is only one city-state left with nuclear weapons, it could charge a moderately high price (like 2% of GDP) for protection and eventually make much more money than the other nuclear powers will give them. If they did give that much money (2% of U.S. GDP), Cheyenne would become much bigger.

Any sensible city state will say that cooperation and nuclear disarmament are far easier and more profitable than a defiant effort to become North America's nuclear Godfather.

2% of U.S. GDP is a lot of money for one city-state (at least 200 billion dollars. Exxon Mobil made 390.3 billion dollars in 2007. If Cheyenne also protected other states (South America?) its revenue would be even higher.

China could easily execute a disarming strike on Cheyenne

Cheyenne can buy access to other nuclear facilities. It could probably launch a few nukes before China's nukes hit, even if it gets disarmed, and even a few nukes would be devastating for China. Cheyenne also has much less to lose from getting nuked, because most of its income will come from the other city-states. (Cheyenne itself isn't worth much.)

July 24, 2008 at 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peoria pays Cheyenne to protect itself.

Peoria thinks somebody else will pay Cheyenne to protect everyone. Too bad everyone thinks that, and nobody pays Cheyenne. That's how the "free rider" phenomenon works. A great many cities are simply not going to feel threatened at all, and will give nothing to Cheyenne.

If only San Diego bought protection, Cheyenne could charge a lot of money.

Cheyenne can try and ask for the moon if it wants, but San Diego doesn't have enough money to pay for Cheyenne's nuclear deterrent by itself.

Wyoming got about $1 billion in tax revenue in 2007 (see this. That isn't enough, but Wyoming could ask all the city-states in California to give 1% of their GDP for protection. California's 2006 GDP was %1.7 trillion, so this would be $17 billion. This is enough to give basic protection to everyone. The cost per city-state decreases as you have more city-states sign up. The U.S. spent 3.7% of its GDP (all statistics from Wikipedia) on its military in 2006, so 1% of GDP isn't too expensive. If the city-states need another 2% of GDP to stop revolutions, it will still only spend 3% of its GDP.

How is the whole common defense thing working out in Europe right now? You would think the other countries would pay France and Britain to maintain their nuclear deterrent forces, but gee, they don't. Instead most of the European countries cut their defense spending to the bone and assume that the big boys (France, Germany, Britain, the USA) will protect them. The big boys have to protect the little guys whether or not the little guys contribute anything, so hey, surprise surprise, the little guys do basically nothing. Why you think a conglomeration of 500 city states could do better at defense cooperation than Europe and be immune to the free rider phenomenon is mysterious indeed.

The assumption that the sum total GDP of the independent city states would be the same as that of the USA is extremely questionable for a lot of reasons, but let's leave that aside. The assumption that the amount of defense that you could buy with the combined city states would be the same as the USA is definitely false. The USA as a whole has efficiencies that the city states would never be able to realize without a level of "cooperation" that essentially requires reforming the Federal government. The city states would have to buy a lot of redundant defense measures that would eat up all their defense spending and leave them nothing to give to the "nuclear protector" cities.

What applies to nuclear weapons applies equally well to other sorts of weapons - ships, combat aircraft, tanks and armored vehicles, helicopters, missiles, you name it. These are all national industries. Defense companies deliberately spread themselves all over the United States so they can get political support from key Congressional districts. Both the B-2 bomber and nuclear aircraft carriers, to take just two examples, have components made in all fifty states. The idea that these industries could produce anything if this required negotiation and cooperation between many dozens of independent cities is simply absurd. These cities would very quickly have nothing but the personal weapons found in their people's houses. They are not going to have nuclear weapons, they are not going to have any kind of heavy conventional weapons. They're just not. This is a fantasy, OK?

The money would be very good for "central North America." The other countries will offer more money than the U.S. did because central North America already has a lot of money (compared to the former USSR).

I read this as you agreeing with me that in a devolved North America, city states with nukes would rather take China's money and give up their nukes than defy China and keep them.

Wyoming/Cheyenne could offer free protection in exchange for their nuclear-weapons-related infrastructure (and the weapons themselves, of course).

It is totally implausible to contend that the 500 city states would agree to pay to relocate the multi-hundred-billion-dollar US nuclear weapons supporting infrastructure to Wyoming. But wait, they can't just do it for Wyoming! Cities in Washington State, Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Montana where nuclear forces are based ALSO need the supporting infrastructure, so you're going to have to recreate it many times over. Very, very expensive. How do you plan to convince the other states to give their weapons to Wyoming? Why should they agree to that? They will argue that Wyoming should give its weapons to them, and you have a multi-sided intractable squabble. And how do you plan to base nuclear ballistic missile submarines in Wyoming - drag them down the interstate? How do you plan to move ICBMs from other bases to Wyoming? They can't just sit out in the parking lot at a strip mall, they have to have silos and supporting command / control. That's, um, gonna cost you a lot to recreate in Wyoming. In short, it would be vastly costly and impractical to move everything to Wyoming, even if everyone agreed this was a good idea.

Once there is only one city-state left with nuclear weapons, it could charge a moderately high price (like 2% of GDP) for protection and eventually make much more money than the other nuclear powers will give them. If they did give that much money (2% of U.S. GDP), Cheyenne would become much bigger.

You may get to one city state with nukes, but you will not even have one city state with usable, effective nukes. Moving all the supporting infrastructure and expertise there would be impossibly costly and impractical, and there are some things you simply cannot move (such as early warning and command systems).

2% of U.S. GDP is a lot of money for one city-state (at least 200 billion dollars. Exxon Mobil made 390.3 billion dollars in 2007. If Cheyenne also protected other states (South America?) its revenue would be even higher.

It is only in your fantasy world that the rest of North America is (a) going to have this money to give, and (b) going to be willing to give this money to Wyoming. It is only in your fantasy world that such "protection" would be credible and effective. There are dozens of different ways that even Mexico, a non-nuclear state, could stop Cheyenne from using its nukes if Mexico was determined to do so. Mexico doesn't exactly have any problems infiltrating North America even when the Federal government exists!

Cheyenne can buy access to other nuclear facilities.

Oh Lord, the fantasy gets more bizarre by the minute. Who are we talking about now, and why do they have functioning facilities? Is this some other city state that has another copy of the whole US nuclear infrastructure magically crammed within its boundaries?

It could probably launch a few nukes before China's nukes hit,

No, it couldn't. Cheyenne has no way to see China's nukes coming. No radars, no early warning satellites. I can hear you mumbling that Cheyenne could pay to create or have access to such systems, but this is an idle fantasy. Only the Federal government could organize something like that, and it requires access to a very large swathe of North American geography if it's going to work.

Moreover, China can always do something interesting and non-detectable like putting nuclear weapons on commercial jetliners inbound over Cheyenne, or even on trucks parked downtown. Bye, bye! This would not work against the USA as a whole, but Cheyenne is a point target and easily decapitated. Who's going to give the order to launch now?

even a few nukes would be devastating for China.

That's not what the Chinese think. And it would be worth it in order to eliminate the nuclear potential of North America for all time. Once China does that, China can order the rest of the North American city states to surrender, and what are they going to do about it? They will pay and pay and pay in order to repair the damage done by Cheyenne's nukes. They will be defenseless cows who can be milked forever if they are allowed to exist at all.

Cheyenne also has much less to lose from getting nuked, because most of its income will come from the other city-states. (Cheyenne itself isn't worth much.)

Uh, what? Cheyenne has literally everything to lose from being nuked. You are arguing that the population would happily agree to commit mass suicide to protect other city states. That simply is not credible. I know if I'm a resident of the Cheyenne city state, I'm leaving town as soon as the city fathers start thumping their chests at the Chinese. You guys can stay here and get vaporized if you want, I'm outta here.

Bottom line for me is that nothing short of the Federal government is going to provide effective nuclear deterrence for North America. Your concept that 500 city states could "cooperate" and make this happen wildly understates the difficulties to say the least, and glib assertions that the city states could solve all their problems by throwing money at them are totally unconvincing. Thinking more broadly than just the nuclear deterrence issue, there is nothing in history that suggests to me that a "devolution" of North America would be anything less than a total disaster for all concerned, militarily, financially, and socially. Good thing it's only an idle fantasy.

July 24, 2008 at 10:53 PM  
Anonymous mlr said...

@ Anon 10:53

If you're the same as a number of previous anons, the problem I have with your argument is that you seem to not have read the earlier link (thank you for digging that up, btw) that explains MM's idea of an international treaty system that would govern relationships between nuclear powers and their dependants. It's a good read, and I encourage you to go through it.

Another difficulty I have with your posts is that in a number of places, they seem to not be an accurate description of reality.

Your concern with free-loading is dealt with in MMs model. Those non-nuclear capable states who do not align under the protection of a nuclear power are subject to invasion. In fact the system creates an incentive to do so. If it is more profitable for Peoria's neighbours to leave it as a non-aligned free-loader, then a free-loader it shall be (something that small would probably be more profitably incorprated into a larger state, maybe the Duchy of Chicago - more on size later); but a big juicy target like NYC or LA would obviously be looked at differently if it were freeloading - why wouldn't the Republic of Texas place a freeloading LA under its jurisdiction, and if it found the arrangement unprofitable, restructure a new Los Angeles Inc that required it's participation in the Texan defence network?

You next draw a comparison between mutual defence arragnements in Europe and our hypothetical, devolved USA. Currently, NATO states have an incentive to contribute because greater contributions are understood to translate into political capital at NATO meetings. As I am not a Brussels bureaucrat, I can't begin to guess at the algorithms used in the corridors of power there. But I don't understand why states in a devolved USA, arranging defence on neo-cameralist, formalist principles, would have any use to measure anything in terms of political capital. What we're discussing here are hypthetical relationships between corporations, using the only currency corporations know - numbers. Political capital can't be quantified, but the arrangements made between states in a devolved USA certainly can be, if MMs formalist system for the use of nukes were to be the framework. There is no need for politics to enter into it (though it may, in ways), whereas in NATO, politics is square one.

You describe the idea that corporations spread between newly independant states cooperating to build complex infrastructure and weapsons systems to be absurd fantasy. Corporations will follow profit, and act in ways that maximize profit. This statement accurately describes reality. If the devolved states of the USA determine that it is profitable to use weapon systems X, Y and Z to defend themselves, and the industrial infrastructure to develop and maintain those systems is physically and legally spread out, then there will be new arrangements made to achieve profit. I don't need to fill in the blanks, that basic statement accurately describes what is real. If you disagree, please provide examples of where this is not, demonstrably, the case.

Next, you begin describing potential interstate squables. First, I only mentioned s single example of one city arranging nuclear protection from one other. There is no reason to assume that multiple states would not keep the nuclear systems based within their territory - and so be declared nuclear powers, and enter into protection agreements with other states, etc etc. I also don't see why states would not pay to have them removed if they determined that keeping them would be unprofitable, long term. Clearly states in the former USSR made such calculations - how much better would neo-cameralist states, unencumbered by politics, make just such a determination? Why on Earth would you image nuclear subs being transported to Wyoming? Are you so bereft of imagination?

Right around here is where I should probably disabuse you of the idea that the largest component pieces of a a devolved USA would be cities. You seem to getting stuck in it, over and over, like a car in a rut. This again betrays a limited imagination. The principle in neo-cameralism that suggests the idea of governance at the city-state level/scale is not localism, or some romantic fixation on Sparta or Venice or Singapore, but rather the priciple of profitability. It assumes that the contintal USA is too large to constitute a potentially profitable corporation, and could not be effectively governed as a neo-camerilist entity, as is. Any corporation that large and unwieldy would reorganize itself to be more lean, with the oal of profit. And so neo-cameralism envisions much smaller states. There are plenty of urban centres that would make for great city states, I think. But more than a few of them would include vast tracks of surrounding suburbs, and some would be largely rural and may span several states (my reference to "Greater Wyoming" might be centred on Cheyenne, but may include parts of Colorado, Montana and the Dakotas, if that were determined to be profitable). Just as the USA is probably too large a bloc to be effectively neo-cameralist, Peoria would be too small, and could be expected to merge, with the goal of profit and efficiency.

Mexico, next, reveals itself as possibly a more potent boogy man in your mind than devolution itself. To this I will say that newly neo-cameralist states would have no reason to conduct themselves as the Federal US govt has thus far, in as much as those policies would be unprofitable. If it was profitable to shoot, without warning, those crossing the border outside approved channels, I can certainly see a Republic of texas effecting just such a policy. Effectively. If not, not.

As for the things Mexico could do to undermine states in the US, you'll have to share with us your dark visions, for I'm afraid my imagination fails me on that score. Certainly the prosepct of a very independant and very determined Texas Air National Guard would make it very precarious for any Mexican president to toy with the internal affairs of it's neighbour(s). Beyond the scenario of a retaliatory strike on Mexico City by the TANG, I have trouble seeing what benefit would allow such reckless machinations in Bosque de Chapultepec in the first place.

Oh yes, your other boogy man, China... I spent two years there, just got back a couple weeks ago. I'm not an expert. And yet, describe to me how you see China launching a nuke first strike against the USA to the point where it's plausible enough to throw out the idea of neo-camerlism. There's too much in that nightmare scenario that doesn't conform to anything I see, in reality, anywhere. I have no love for the thugs in Zhongnanhai, but I don't see [b]why[/b] they would do to the hypothetically DEWless and devolved USA what the USA [b]could[/b] have done many times to China over the years, and has not. Nation states do not have morals, friends, or enemies - they have interests. How is it in China's interest to attack the US, when it's never been in the US's interest to do the same to China? China's leaders are many things, most of those things bad (contra the views of our host MM), but among their qualities good and bad is pragmatism to a degree I see rarely in the West, other than my own country (Canada). You'll simply have to give more meat to this scenario before we're expected to incorporate it into our considerations here, fantastical though they may be.

July 25, 2008 at 6:52 AM  
Anonymous c23 said...

Suppose there's a sovcorp (or sovcorps) that specializes in nuclear deterrence, making its living by providing protection from nuclear attack, or by extorting other states with the threat of nuclear attack. A specialist state could invest in underground housing and stockpiles of food and supplies so that it would come out on top of a nuclear exchange.

A small specialist city-state could afford to do so (the mostly-underground city of Coober Pedy, Australia is halfway there already - suppose they partner with a city state that inherits a large proportion of the US nuclear arsenal), but it would be extremely expensive for a large state like China, which might find it cheaper just to pay the protection.

Also, the nuclear extortionist state could solve the problems caused by their small geographical size as outlined by the previous anonymous (that they would have no radar and could be taken out by a single smuggled nuke - assuming that the underground bunker doesn't protect them) by outsourcing to other countries. There's no reason that they can't make a deal with another state to put their nukes or radar in that state. Deals like that are made all the time in the business world, except that they generally don't involve nukes at present.

If Peoria won't pay Cheyenne for protection from Mexico, maybe it'll pay Cheyenne for protection from Cheyenne.

July 25, 2008 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger peco said...

Peoria thinks somebody else will pay Cheyenne to protect everyone. Too bad everyone thinks that, and nobody pays Cheyenne. That's how the "free rider" phenomenon works. A great many cities are simply not going to feel threatened at all, and will give nothing to Cheyenne.

Actually, Cheyenne can tell everyone that it won't protect people who won't pay. Neighboring states who won't pay may be invaded.

In short, it would be vastly costly and impractical to move everything to Wyoming, even if everyone agreed this was a good idea.

You don't have to move anything. Wyoming just gets permission to use the nuclear infrastructure, and it nukes anyone who won't let it. Also, none of the city-states with infrastructure will pay anything (they will get free protection, and all transport costs, etc. will be paid by Wyoming).

Uh, what? Cheyenne has literally everything to lose from being nuked. You are arguing that the population would happily agree to commit mass suicide to protect other city states. That simply is not credible. I know if I'm a resident of the Cheyenne city state, I'm leaving town as soon as the city fathers start thumping their chests at the Chinese. You guys can stay here and get vaporized if you want, I'm outta here.

The population doesn't decide anything. People from other city-states or countries do, and they won't get killed if Cheyenne gets nuked. As long as a few people remain in Cheyenne, Cheyenne has enough people to maintain a few nukes.

That's not what the Chinese think. And it would be worth it in order to eliminate the nuclear potential of North America for all time. Once China does that, China can order the rest of the North American city states to surrender, and what are they going to do about it? They will pay and pay and pay in order to repair the damage done by Cheyenne's nukes. They will be defenseless cows who can be milked forever if they are allowed to exist at all.

If Cheyenne gets access to a lot of nukes (>200), it could wipe out China completely.

Your concept that 500 city states could "cooperate"

They can cooperate if the city-states with nukes force them to.

July 25, 2008 at 7:22 AM  
Anonymous incredulous said...

Since this is getting long, I will uncloak and use a tag. I call myself "incredulous" because of the amazing number of unbelievably absurd things I have just read.

the problem I have with your argument is that you seem to not have read the earlier link (thank you for digging that up, btw) that explains MM's idea of an international treaty system that would govern relationships between nuclear powers and their dependants. It's a good read, and I encourage you to go through it.

I have read it and it doesn't convince me. I am especially unconvinced that it applies to a conglomeration of city states that are supposedly spontaneously cooperating to maintain the former US nuclear deterrent. Both that theory and the theory that 50 / 100 / 500 US city states could maintain and operate a viable nuclear deterrent are completely divorced from reality.

Your concern with free-loading is dealt with in MMs model. Those non-nuclear capable states who do not align under the protection of a nuclear power are subject to invasion. In fact the system creates an incentive to do so. If it is more profitable for Peoria's neighbours to leave it as a non-aligned free-loader, then a free-loader it shall be (something that small would probably be more profitably incorprated into a larger state, maybe the Duchy of Chicago - more on size later); but a big juicy target like NYC or LA would obviously be looked at differently if it were freeloading - why wouldn't the Republic of Texas place a freeloading LA under its jurisdiction, and if it found the arrangement unprofitable, restructure a new Los Angeles Inc that required it's participation in the Texan defence network?

That is not how the freeloading would work. Peoria would say, yes, we're aligned with Cheyenne - and then give Cheyenne either no or a trivial amount of money. Throughout the Cold War, the Europeans were aligned with the US in NATO. The US constantly badgered the Europeans to spend more on defense, the Europeans agreed they were going to, and then the Europeans didn't follow through. Cheyenne would have no power to force Peoria to pay any more than the US had the power to force Denmark to pay. How can a protector (be it Cheyenne or Texas) force anyone to pay? Is Cheyenne going to send its army to occupy Peoria (and every other city state under its protection) and collect its protection money at gunpoint? Sounds expensive, and Cheyenne doesn't have the manpower to do that anyway. Is Cheyenne going to withdraw its protection? If they do, that doesn't solve their problem, because Cheyenne will still be starved of funds and its nuclear forces will still decay.

(Later I see the plan is for Cheyenne to nuke Peoria if they don't pay. Great. And people here seem to believe, in all seriousness, that such a threat would work, that people would want to be part of such a program, and that a system of government based on this is desirable. Oy vey...)

Besides, I thought the whole point of devolving into city states was to remove coercion and taxation from the Feds. Now you're telling me that Texas is going to coerce and tax Los Angeles. Why even have this system if that is the case - why not just keep the Federal government?

You next draw a comparison between mutual defence arragnements in Europe and our hypothetical, devolved USA. Currently, NATO states have an incentive to contribute because greater contributions are understood to translate into political capital at NATO meetings. As I am not a Brussels bureaucrat, I can't begin to guess at the algorithms used in the corridors of power there. But I don't understand why states in a devolved USA, arranging defence on neo-cameralist, formalist principles, would have any use to measure anything in terms of political capital. What we're discussing here are hypthetical relationships between corporations, using the only currency corporations know - numbers. Political capital can't be quantified, but the arrangements made between states in a devolved USA certainly can be, if MMs formalist system for the use of nukes were to be the framework. There is no need for politics to enter into it (though it may, in ways), whereas in NATO, politics is square one.

It is wildly implausible to argue that politics can be eliminated and that the interactions between city states and between the city states and the outside world would have no political component. How can collective defense against potential outside aggression not be a political issue? The city states have to agree on what the threats are, what to do about them, and how much to spend to counter them, and these are all political questions. "How much is enough" on defense is a political question, not just in the "bad" sense, but in the sense that people have to make judgments that cannot easily be quantified. How, exactly, is the for-profit corporation of Peoria going to quantify in a precise manner the various threats that should induce Peoria to give some of its profits to Cheyenne? Frankly, every corporation regards "security" as an overhead expense, and they spend as little as possible on it. Thus, overall, you are going to get much less money spent on defense if America is run as a conglomeration of for-profit corporations than if it is run by the current Federal government. What Peoria will do is look at its internal priorities, and various competing factions within Peoria will argue that the money should go to them - this is called "politics", and it happens within every corporation! - and somebody at the top will decide how to resolve the disputes and allocate the money. Most likely "money for Cheyenne" will be a low priority; few of the factions within Peoria will argue that this money should be sent to Cheyenne rather than spent on them.

You describe the idea that corporations spread between newly independant states cooperating to build complex infrastructure and weapsons systems to be absurd fantasy. Corporations will follow profit, and act in ways that maximize profit. This statement accurately describes reality. If the devolved states of the USA determine that it is profitable to use weapon systems X, Y and Z to defend themselves, and the industrial infrastructure to develop and maintain those systems is physically and legally spread out, then there will be new arrangements made to achieve profit. I don't need to fill in the blanks, that basic statement accurately describes what is real. If you disagree, please provide examples of where this is not, demonstrably, the case.

First of all, spending on defense is never profit. For a country, for a corporation, for a person, all money spent on security is consumption - money down the rathole. Sometimes necessary, but always money ultimately wasted rather than invested or distributed as a dividend. Secondly, the only viable arrangement that can build, maintain, and operate the current US strategic deterrent is the United States Federal government. A group of newly independent states that tries to do this will ultimately be driven to recreate the US Federal government! The idea that somehow other unspecified arrangements could be made such that the conglomeration of city states could build, maintain, and operate complex weapons systems is such a breathtaking handwave it's beyond belief. Do any of you guys actually work for a large corporation? I do. I work on a program that has offices in about 40 cities in 20 different states. If each one of those cities was an independent country, and we had to "negotiate arrangements" with 40 separate governments, and there was no over-arching Federal government, the amount of friction and expense this would generate would be huge. We'd never get anything done, we'd spend all our time negotiating! We have an unbelievable amount of bureaucratic and legal crap to deal with as it is, and you want to introduce two orders of magnitude more bureaucratic and legal complexity. I just don't see how we could do business under such conditions. And a major military program will have dozens of contractors and tens of thousands of suppliers all over the country. Good luck negotiating with all those sovereign entities!

Next, you begin describing potential interstate squables. First, I only mentioned s single example of one city arranging nuclear protection from one other. There is no reason to assume that multiple states would not keep the nuclear systems based within their territory - and so be declared nuclear powers, and enter into protection agreements with other states, etc etc.

Oh Good Lord, I was trying to explain how impossible that would be to the other guy, and it's obvious that you don't get it, either. Every single one of those states that wants to be a nuclear power would need to reproduce the supporting infrastructure that currently exists to support the US national deterrent. At minimum, research, design, development, testing, production, maintenance, and operation of nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, and their command / control / communications / intelligence, plus the training of everyone associated with this (designers and operators), plus you need a significant nuclear power industry to generate fissionables, plus a significant conventional armed force to protect all of the previous systems. I don't know why you guys think this would be so easy. Well, yes I do, it's ignorance. This just is not a simple and cheap enterprise.

I also don't see why states would not pay to have them removed if they determined that keeping them would be unprofitable, long term.

Well yeah, I already said that the city states that had nuclear weapons on their territory would get rid of them one way or another.

Clearly states in the former USSR made such calculations - how much better would neo-cameralist states, unencumbered by politics, make just such a determination?

The difference is that the states in the former USSR that gave up their weapons did so under the assumption that they would have protection from the US government. Who is going to protect North American city states if the US government does not exist? They simply are not going to protect themselves effectively without the US Federal government. Americans are used to acting on other countries, not being acted on by them, but this is because they live in a Great Power. The moment North America devolved into 50 / 100 / 500 city states, each one would quickly discover what it means to be acted upon by other countries. I dare say they wouldn't like it! As I said before, the devolution would create a vast arena for foreign meddling to the great detriment of the safety and well-being of the current inhabitants.

Again, there is no such thing as a human organization that is not encumbered by politics.

Why on Earth would you image nuclear subs being transported to Wyoming? Are you so bereft of imagination?

Because that other nitwit thinks it would be simple and easy to relocate the entire US nuclear deterrent to Wyoming, and it was necessary to point out that some parts of the deterrent can't be moved there!

Right around here is where I should probably disabuse you of the idea that the largest component pieces of a a devolved USA would be cities. You seem to getting stuck in it, over and over, like a car in a rut.

I'm just responding to saturday's anonymous assertion "Ideally, I was thinking you'd divide the continent into around 500 city-states", so there's no need to be a fukkin jerk about it. Talk to him about limited imagination, not me.

rather the priciple of profitability. It assumes that the contintal USA is too large to constitute a potentially profitable corporation, and could not be effectively governed as a neo-camerilist entity, as is.

Well, I disagree. A continent is more easy to run profitably than a state or a city, not less, if you have a mind to do so. If you eliminated government interference, you would have a lot more large corporations in this country (and they would be very profitable indeed!), and a lot fewer "small businesses", especially those that exist mainly because they are run by women / minorities / disabled veterans etc.

Just as the USA is probably too large a bloc to be effectively neo-cameralist, Peoria would be too small, and could be expected to merge, with the goal of profit and efficiency.

The most efficient and profitable corporation of all - if it were run along neo-cameralist lines - would consist of the current USA plus Canada!

Mexico, next, reveals itself as possibly a more potent boogy man in your mind than devolution itself.

It was just an example, chief. It's a good one, since it is a country with irredentist claims on the Southwest that can only be realized if the US Federal government dissolves. But pick any foreign country you like (or hate). There will be a lot of them looking to meddle in the devolved neo-cameralist states of the former USA.

To this I will say that newly neo-cameralist states would have no reason to conduct themselves as the Federal US govt has thus far, in as much as those policies would be unprofitable.

Unprofitable? Right now illegal immigration is profitable economically and politically to various groups within the USA. "Profit" is exactly why the US Federal government has the immigration policy that it does! Can't think why it would be any different for neo-cameralist states. They wouldn't need to pander to voters, but they would no doubt want some low-paid helots.

As for the things Mexico could do to undermine states in the US, you'll have to share with us your dark visions, for I'm afraid my imagination fails me on that score.

This from the guy who snidely accuses me of having a limited imagination! I feel sure that Mexico would not lack such imagination. The world's 12th largest population and 13th largest economy would have plenty of resources at its disposal if it wanted to meddle in the internal affairs of the now-fractionated US states on its borders. To contend that a large power would not seek to influence and control its smaller neighbors is to ignore every lesson of history, and quite ironically, the history of US relations with Latin America. Has the US ever sought to undermine its much smaller and less powerful Latin neighbors, and interfere in their internal affairs? Hmmm, let me think. But the Mexicans are better than that! One simply can't imagine them being anything other than the best of Good Neighbors if the shoe was on the other foot.

Certainly the prosepct of a very independant and very determined Texas Air National Guard would make it very precarious for any Mexican president to toy with the internal affairs of it's neighbour(s). Beyond the scenario of a retaliatory strike on Mexico City by the TANG, I have trouble seeing what benefit would allow such reckless machinations in Bosque de Chapultepec in the first place.

In a very short period of time, Texas will not have an Air Force at all. To build, maintain, and crew an Air Force is complex and expensive. A lot of countries have gotten out of the business of building combat aircraft entirely, and prefer to buy them from countries - like the US - that can afford to have this capability. Fighters are not built in Texas, they are assembled there. They are built all over the country, and in the case of the F-35, also in foreign countries. For Texas to have an autonomous fighter production capability would require a lot of time, trouble, and expense, and the idea that this problem could be quickly and easily solved is as clownish as imagining that Wyoming could have its own independent nuclear deterrent.

Furthermore, there would be a lot of things Mexico could do in the realm of covert meddling that would make a "retaliatory strike" pointless and irrelevant, and would brand Texas as the aggressor in the eyes of the world (for whatever that's worth).

Oh yes, your other boogy man, China... I spent two years there, just got back a couple weeks ago. I'm not an expert. And yet, describe to me how you see China launching a nuke first strike against the USA to the point where it's plausible enough to throw out the idea of neo-camerlism. There's too much in that nightmare scenario that doesn't conform to anything I see, in reality, anywhere. I have no love for the thugs in Zhongnanhai, but I don't see [b]why[/b] they would do to the hypothetically DEWless and devolved USA what the USA [b]could[/b] have done many times to China over the years, and has not. Nation states do not have morals, friends, or enemies - they have interests. How is it in China's interest to attack the US, when it's never been in the US's interest to do the same to China? China's leaders are many things, most of those things bad (contra the views of our host MM), but among their qualities good and bad is pragmatism to a degree I see rarely in the West, other than my own country (Canada). You'll simply have to give more meat to this scenario before we're expected to incorporate it into our considerations here, fantastical though they may be.

The main point is that the consequences of "devolution" are entirely unpredictable from the international relations standpoint, except to say that the elimination of the world's leading power - the USA - would certainly prompt every other major country to evaluate the huge opportunities that this new situation created. They would certainly seek to influence the new states in North America - however many of them there are - and play them off against each other. Each major foreign power would also strive to exclude the others from influence in the North American states. This is all very basic international relations theory, it should be no surprise. You guys seem to think that the existence of at least one "nuclear protector" in North America would prevent such meddling, and I disagree entirely. The nuclear forces of a fractionated US would not be the same in quantity or quality of those of the current US. Even if there were, let's say, five nuclear states in North America with about the same number of nukes total as the US has now, that would not provide the same deterrent effect as the nuclear forces of the US do now. It is not clear at all that a nuclear state in North America could provide "extended deterrence" - that is, put an umbrella over other states rather than just having a last-ditch weapon to use if its own immediate survival was threatened. You are the ones who blithely assume all this is going to work, and it is your job to prove that it will (and not by just waving your hand and saying that somehow "the arrangements would be made if it were profitable to do so").

As for China, you are comparing apples and oranges. How the US treated China in the past is not analogous at all to how China, in the future, would treat umpteen (50? 100? 500?) different devolved North American states. I don't have any problem at all imagining the Chinese at least contemplating the elimination of North America's nuclear potential, and turning the remaining states into its vassals. It would be irresponsible of China not to consider such a course of action! And, devolving America into one or a few smaller, geographically limited nuclear states would make a first strike on these states much easier to accomplish and much more tempting.

Suppose there's a sovcorp (or sovcorps) that specializes in nuclear deterrence, making its living by providing protection from nuclear attack, or by extorting other states with the threat of nuclear attack. A specialist state could invest in underground housing and stockpiles of food and supplies so that it would come out on top of a nuclear exchange.

Aside from the fact that this is a crazy idea - who the hell would want to live as one of the robber baron mole people? - other states would immediately demonstrate to you that it is not difficult at all to annihilate your underground bunker with nukes, so no, you're not going to survive let alone "come out on top".

Is this the great dream of neo-cameralism? Is this why we should want to dismantle our current government and reorder our society from scratch? So we can be like the mutants in Beneath the Planet of the Apes who worship the bomb, and so we can make our living preying on others? Keep it coming, guys, that's even better propaganda for the cause than the advocacy of lynching!

A small specialist city-state could afford to do so

Sigh. A small city state is the state that can least afford to be involved in a nuclear war. How many bombs would you need to take out Monaco or Singapore?

Also, the nuclear extortionist state could solve the problems caused by their small geographical size as outlined by the previous anonymous (that they would have no radar and could be taken out by a single smuggled nuke - assuming that the underground bunker doesn't protect them) by outsourcing to other countries. There's no reason that they can't make a deal with another state to put their nukes or radar in that state.

That does not solve the problem that the extortionist state would be annihilated! Is it really actually plausible to you that a state would say to another state, "Give me all your money or we both die?" Why the hell would anyone want to live in the extortionist state, knowing that their economy is based on threatening national suicide, and this bluff would eventually be called? The first time the extortionist tried to pull this nonsense, I guarantee you the world would band together to eliminate this evil nuisance, no matter what they had to do to solve the problem.

As for outsourcing, that just makes the oursourcer a target, too! What is their incentive to join the "extortion through threat of mutual suicide" club? What amount of money would make it worth it to make oneself a target for obliteration and the object of the world's fear and hatred?

Your whole idea here is fascinatingly stupid, I give it that much.

Deals like that are made all the time in the business world, except that they generally don't involve nukes at present.

Sonny boy, you watch too much 24 and Law and Order. Corporations do not act like this in the real world. Just try telling the shareholders you're doing something that could get them all killed, they'll just looooove hearing that.

Actually, Cheyenne can tell everyone that it won't protect people who won't pay. Neighboring states who won't pay may be invaded.

How does that solve Cheyenne's problem that it needs money from Peoria, and in fact needs Peoria more than Peoria needs Cheyenne?

Instead of one state that is not threatened, is easily capable of defending itself, and is not subject to foreign interference, you have created 50 or 100 or 500 statelets that are threatened, are not capable of defending themselves, and are subject to lots of interference. Yaaaay! Way to go! The world is better under neocameralism!

You don't have to move anything. Wyoming just gets permission to use the nuclear infrastructure, and it nukes anyone who won't let it. Also, none of the city-states with infrastructure will pay anything (they will get free protection, and all transport costs, etc. will be paid by Wyoming).

Absurd, infantile, and totally implausible. Now we're holding our protection scheme together with threats of nuking people? Everyone working in the hundreds of cities that are part of the infrastructure knows that Cheyenne will nuke them if they don't do a good job? That's really going to motivate your highly skilled workforce - rocket and nuclear scientists and engineers - to do a good job! What are you going to do if they all say, up yours, we quit?

The population doesn't decide anything. People from other city-states or countries do, and they won't get killed if Cheyenne gets nuked. As long as a few people remain in Cheyenne, Cheyenne has enough people to maintain a few nukes.

Somehow I suspect that the people from other city states and countries are going to find a way to eliminate those "few people" in the cabal that is putting a nuclear pistol to everyone's head.

Do you really even believe what you're saying here? That you could sustain a system based on nuclear extortion? And, as I asked the other guy, do you really and truly believe this would be better than the system we have now? This is good government in your world view? Words fail me...

If Cheyenne gets access to a lot of nukes (>200), it could wipe out China completely.

You just said Cheyenne would only have a "few" nukes. Now it has hundreds. Which is it? Either it needs a large population, or it doesn't. Whatever the size of the population, though, they all have to agree to make their living on a fundamentally immoral scheme of extortion, threats of mass suicide, and threats of genocide. (Gee, how do I join that team?)

They can cooperate if the city-states with nukes force them to.

Forced cooperation? Is that like mandatory voluntarism?

Wow, this neocameralism thing is great. Anyone can see how such a system would be way better than "democracy".

July 25, 2008 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Erin H. Yu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 25, 2008 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger peco said...

Is Cheyenne going to withdraw its protection?

They can threaten to withdraw their protection. If Peoria doesn't pay, withdrawing protection would not harm Cheyenne.

How can a protector (be it Cheyenne or Texas) force anyone to pay?

It can offer protection only as long as people pay (just like a landlord offers land only if the tenants pay). There is no way for a city-state to not pay and still get protection.

Instead of one state that is not threatened, is easily capable of defending itself, and is not subject to foreign interference, you have created 50 or 100 or 500 statelets that are threatened, are not capable of defending themselves, and are subject to lots of interference. Yaaaay! Way to go! The world is better under neocameralism!

The statelets can merge together again if they find that they are too small.


You just said Cheyenne would only have a "few" nukes. Now it has hundreds. Which is it? Either it needs a large population, or it doesn't. Whatever the size of the population, though, they all have to agree to make their living on a fundamentally immoral scheme of extortion, threats of mass suicide, and threats of genocide. (Gee, how do I join that team?)


They don't have to threaten the states they protect with nukes. Once Cheyenne gains access to several city-states, it will have many nukes (if not 100, easily enough to give China a huge problem).

How does that solve Cheyenne's problem that it needs money from Peoria, and in fact needs Peoria more than Peoria needs Cheyenne?


Peoria actually needs Cheyenne more, because it could be invaded by Canada/Mexico/whoever without Cheyenne's protection. Peoria would only supply a small fraction of Cheyenne's money.

Do you really even believe what you're saying here? That you could sustain a system based on nuclear extortion?

Yes, you can (slavery, except not). Slavery was based on extortion, and it was pretty sustainable (obviously I'm not promoting slavery). Extortion can work if one group has an overwhelming advantage over another (like nukes).

Everyone working in the hundreds of cities that are part of the infrastructure knows that Cheyenne will nuke them if they don't do a good job?

Why would Cheyenne nuke them? They would just get fired.

Sigh. A small city state is the state that can least afford to be involved in a nuclear war. How many bombs would you need to take out Monaco or Singapore?


This gives me an idea. If Cheyenne were to sell its nukes to North American Nuclear Protection Agency, Inc., which has no territory (it is not an urauthority), a hostile nuclear power would need to use many more nukes to destroy NANPA. Every city-state that donates its infrastructure or buys its service would essentially be getting nuclear weapons at a much lower price. NANPA could launch all the nukes in a region before moving on to the next one, which would minimize the number of city-states getting nuked. (Instead of launching from states A-Z and getting them all nuked, it launches 5 nukes each from A-E and one from F).

July 25, 2008 at 4:33 PM  
Anonymous mlr said...

Incredulous,

I appreciate the energy you've put into this conversation, and I admire the incredulity you ground your observations in. If I were to 'fisk' your last post, it would stretch to lengths beyond what would be useful, and I scarcely see myself doing it justice. So I'll attempt to restate some guiding principles that I think best describe formalism and neocameralism, and invite MM to address a number of the worthwhile objections you raise.

I believe MM has made the case that democracy, as it stands now, is a system of organizing power that is dangerous. The design is flawed. Is this a point on which you agree? You ask "is this the best neocameralism has to offer" in response to a number of outrageous posts by others, and rightly so. Do you agree, though, that the way power is engineered, presently, in the West, is unstable?

A number of posters here raise spectres of 'forcing' 'cooperation' and so on, which you adpetly blasted. The whole line of reasoning belies a thinking rooted in Terminator movies, not reality, and certainly not a future I would welcome. I'm glad you called that fantastical thinking for the nonsense it is.

You say that a hypothetical Cheyenne would have no way to force Peoria to pay any more than Denmark could be forced by the US to contribute more within current NATO frameworks. Other posters get carried away with nonsense talk about forced copperation etc. But a neocameralist framework would create an incentive for Peoria Inc that the Kingdom of Denmark doesn't have: stock prices. If Peoria failed to live up to its commitments to pay a line item in its budget, its stock would take a hit. Peoria's stock would be labeled by regulators as high risk.

Where I mentioned things like takeovers of a free-loading LA, I did so with reference to MM's model that saw states removing themselves from the framework as 'rogue' states. I can see such a rogue state's stock suffering if it chose not to cooperate with such a model, allowing other states to buy those cheaper shares and restructure the corp (those participating in the framewok would be protected, under MM's model, from 'hostile takeovers'). MM has posted previously on his formalist take on int'l law and relations, but I don't think armed action would be a part of such a takeover.

My point is, the neocameralist design would create stability through the same mechanisms that govern corporate behaviour. If there are posters here talking about extortion or other destablizing nonsense, I invite you to set that aside and consider this formalist mechanism (profit, not force). Do you really think it would not have a chance of governing the behaviour of devolved states in a healthy, violence- and conflict-reducing way? Where do you see the model breaking down?

All that being said, I think MM could flesh out why he thinks a world devolved into smaller states would be better.

On the other hand, I'm not convinced that a devolved, neocameralist North America could not produce three or more sovorgs able to maintain effective nuclear deterrents (silos, planes, and subs). I accept that security spending is never profit, as you put it; I can't imagine a stock not failing if the officers of that corp weren't prepared to invest in security. The motivations driving a sovcorp to spend on being part of a nuke framework would be investments that shareholders would insist on. I don't imagine it would be a system that would tolerate it's technicians falling asleep on the job, either (great job that Federal gov't is doin'... oh wait, the phrase is "heckuva job," isn't it, when the Federal gov't is doing a job that - you've insisted - only the Fed govt can do effectively? Pass the incredulity, please).

I agree that the outcomes of a devolved neocameralist NA would be, as you say, unpredictable in terms of int'l rel. I am describing here the best possible model that I understand, given what I know. I'm not obliged to advocate what might realistically come about (it probably won't resemble much hat we're disucssing here). The dissolution of the USSR began a series of unpredictable events, as well, and if anyone had asked 11-year-old-me what I thought (they didn't, fools), I'm sure I would have been filled with lots of precocious ideas that bore little resemblance to how things panned out - but nothing would have obliged me to advocate some compromised version of what I understood to be best. Those are the two key things that guide my participation in this discussion: nothing I say matters to anyone that will actually influence events as they will play out (I matter as much as I did when I was 11 and the USSR fell - not at all); and I'm not obliged to make an argument that compromises what I think would be best, not least because I bear zero responsibilty for the outcome. We're intellectuals, entertaining each other; we're living. That's what can be expected of us. It doesn't sadden me that my advice in these matters will never be heeded.

Finally, in discussing the relationship between the USA and China, I am not, as I see it, comparing apples and oranges. States are things. There is nothing that imbues either with some special quality that would cause them to act in a way not in accordance with their interests. Devolved or not, I do not see what incentive or opportunity China would have to subject North Am sovcorps to vassalage, now or far in the future (assuming of course that the Chinese, who are just loving their recently-begun fling with that generous mistress, profit, would not see a profitably governed neocameralist North Am and follow the trend).

Are you saying that the Chinese would resist the temptation to reorganize themselves along neocameralist lines for several decades, which is roughly how long it would take to develop the fleet needed to exert influence beyond the South China Sea? That such developments would happen in a vacuum? Look at American cities: gutted and crime ridden. I can certainly envision a future where a USA more closely resembling crime wracked South Africa instead follows SA's lead and rids itself of its own nukes and invites Chinese interference, in the worst way. I don't see the USA as stable, as is. Can you see a future USA resembling South Africa? Hiring quotas for disadvantaged inner city youth to staff nuke silos, and more on the job zzzs, and the future I paint is dystopian and invites possible interference? My dear, I've seen the thugs that run the PRC and they are least of your worries.

July 27, 2008 at 12:47 PM  
Anonymous incredulous said...

It can offer protection only as long as people pay (just like a landlord offers land only if the tenants pay). There is no way for a city-state to not pay and still get protection.

Not enough city-states would pay enough to make Cheyenne viable. A lot of the city states are going to low-ball Cheyenne and dare them to cut off protection. We give you 20% of what you asked for, and if you cut off protection you get nothing.

The statelets can merge together again if they find that they are too small.

So basically, you devolve only to find that you are driven to recreate the Federal government.

They don't have to threaten the states they protect with nukes.

Previously you said threatening to nuke the "protectees" was the way Cheyenne convinced them to pay, and threatening to nuke suppliers of nuclear materials expertise was the way Cheyenne sustained its nuclear force. If you admit this isn't going to work, then there simply is no way for Cheyenne to force anyone to pay.

Once Cheyenne gains access to several city-states, it will have many nukes (if not 100, easily enough to give China a huge problem).

No, it won't, because it won't have the supporting infrastructure to maintain a viable deterrent, you vastly underestimate the cost and difficulty of doing so, and Cheyenne won't have the survivable forces and the command / control / communications / intelligence needed to give China a huge problem.

Peoria actually needs Cheyenne more, because it could be invaded by Canada/Mexico/whoever without Cheyenne's protection. Peoria would only supply a small fraction of Cheyenne's money.

Under the US government, Peoria is not threatened by invasion by anyone, does not have to maintain a local defense force, and does not have to bid for nuclear protection (they already have it). But things are better under a devolved neo-cameralist regime!

Do you really even believe what you're saying here? That you could sustain a system based on nuclear extortion?
Yes, you can (slavery, except not). Slavery was based on extortion, and it was pretty sustainable (obviously I'm not promoting slavery). Extortion can work if one group has an overwhelming advantage over another (like nukes).


Well, you have just admitted you are fundamentally not serious intellectually. But we already knew that, since the whole "Cheyenne can have a viable and effective nuclear deterrent" thing is not serious intellectually. It is absurd to posit that a state could base its existence on nuclear extortion, and even more absurd to posit that this would be superior to the situation that exists right now. Slavery was ended, in large measure, because it became repulsive to the elites of the day and because sufficient military force existed to suppress it. A nuclear extortionist state would be even more repulsive to the world than was slavery, and believe me, it would be suppressed militarily in short order.

Everyone working in the hundreds of cities that are part of the infrastructure knows that Cheyenne will nuke them if they don't do a good job?
Why would Cheyenne nuke them? They would just get fired.


I dunno, you tell me! You are the one who said "Wyoming just gets permission to use the nuclear infrastructure, and it nukes anyone who won't let it." How long is Cheyenne going to remain a nuclear power if it does that?

If I were to 'fisk' your last post, it would stretch to lengths beyond what would be useful, and I scarcely see myself doing it justice.

Please do. I'd like to see some better arguments than I've seen so far.

I believe MM has made the case that democracy, as it stands now, is a system of organizing power that is dangerous. The design is flawed. Is this a point on which you agree? You ask "is this the best neocameralism has to offer" in response to a number of outrageous posts by others, and rightly so. Do you agree, though, that the way power is engineered, presently, in the West, is unstable?

Yes, it is a flawed system, but as Churchill said, it's the worst possible system except for all the others. The discussion here has not convinced me that neo-cameralism as envisaged by certain puerile commentators would be less bad than democracy as currently implemented. MM may have a better vision for how it would all work, but thus far he has been much better at diagnosing the disease than the cure.

As for stability, I feel that the current US Federal government is far more stable and secure than the "devolved" system described by some of the commentators.

You say that a hypothetical Cheyenne would have no way to force Peoria to pay any more than Denmark could be forced by the US to contribute more within current NATO frameworks. Other posters get carried away with nonsense talk about forced copperation etc. But a neocameralist framework would create an incentive for Peoria Inc that the Kingdom of Denmark doesn't have: stock prices. If Peoria failed to live up to its commitments to pay a line item in its budget, its stock would take a hit. Peoria's stock would be labeled by regulators as high risk.

Ah, but Peoria would pay what it had committed to pay - but this would be much less than what Cheyenne desired and required it to pay, and (ultimately) less than required for Cheyenne to maintain a viable, effective nuclear force.

Where I mentioned things like takeovers of a free-loading LA, I did so with reference to MM's model that saw states removing themselves from the framework as 'rogue' states. I can see such a rogue state's stock suffering if it chose not to cooperate with such a model, allowing other states to buy those cheaper shares and restructure the corp (those participating in the framewok would be protected, under MM's model, from 'hostile takeovers'). MM has posted previously on his formalist take on int'l law and relations, but I don't think armed action would be a part of such a takeover.

The question I have is how does a state that lives and dies by its "stock price" survive in a world where other states don't care what their "stock price" is? The shareholders will only let the company spend so much on security, so what happens when they confront a state that can outspend them because it has no shareholders, and in the worst case, has no electorate that it is responsible to?

My point is, the neocameralist design would create stability through the same mechanisms that govern corporate behaviour. If there are posters here talking about extortion or other destablizing nonsense, I invite you to set that aside and consider this formalist mechanism (profit, not force). Do you really think it would not have a chance of governing the behaviour of devolved states in a healthy, violence- and conflict-reducing way? Where do you see the model breaking down?

Firstly I would note that corporate behavior is regulated by outside forces - Federal, state, and local governments - and disputes between corporations are adjudicated by a neutral arbiter (the courts). Who would regulate the behavior and arbitrate the disputes of the devolved neo-cameralist states? More importantly, who will regulate the actions of non-neo-cameralists states towards the neo-cameralists and arbitrate the disputes between neo-cameralist states and non-neo-cameralist states? Can states driven by profit exist and flourish among states that are not driven by profit but by power, ideology, or "public opinion"?

I would feel a lot more comfortable with a devolution to neo-cameralist city-states in North America if the same thing happened simultaneously worldwide. This seems unlikely.

On the other hand, I'm not convinced that a devolved, neocameralist North America could not produce three or more sovorgs able to maintain effective nuclear deterrents (silos, planes, and subs). I accept that security spending is never profit, as you put it; I can't imagine a stock not failing if the officers of that corp weren't prepared to invest in security. The motivations driving a sovcorp to spend on being part of a nuke framework would be investments that shareholders would insist on. I don't imagine it would be a system that would tolerate it's technicians falling asleep on the job, either (great job that Federal gov't is doin'... oh wait, the phrase is "heckuva job," isn't it, when the Federal gov't is doing a job that - you've insisted - only the Fed govt can do effectively? Pass the incredulity, please).

We have seen in this comment section that few people understand what a nuclear deterrent consists of, what it does, how it works, and how much it costs. The nuclear sovorgs would have a lot of work to do to educate the shareholders before the shareholders would be willing to spend money on it. But let's say they do spend, collectively, about as much money as the US government spends now. That still does not mean that the resulting force would have the same deterrent effect as the US force does now! A system with two large powers facing each other is more stable than a system in which one large power faces three smaller powers each about one-third the size of the large power. In the latter case, the large power can start playing the small powers off against one another, and in the event of a crisis, the three powers are unlikely to agree to alert their forces to the same level, and thus the large power would have an opportunity to execute a successful first strike on one or even all of them (whereas such an opportunity would not exist versus a single large power on alert).

Incidentally, the story you cite in no way demonstrates that the Feds are doing a bad job in the nuclear deterrence department. Least of all does it demonstrate that some crazy scheme to operate the US deterrent "cooperatively" between X number of neo-cameralist statelets would work at all, let alone as good or better than how the Feds do things now.

Finally, in discussing the relationship between the USA and China, I am not, as I see it, comparing apples and oranges. States are things. There is nothing that imbues either with some special quality that would cause them to act in a way not in accordance with their interests. Devolved or not, I do not see what incentive or opportunity China would have to subject North Am sovcorps to vassalage, now or far in the future (assuming of course that the Chinese, who are just loving their recently-begun fling with that generous mistress, profit, would not see a profitably governed neocameralist North Am and follow the trend).

Let's say China has a power of 100 and the USA has a power of 100. How China deals with the USA is completely different from how China deals with 100 devolved statelets each with a power of 1 - or three states with a power of 33, however you want to divide it up! That is why it is apples and oranges. Dealing with a fractionated continent is infinitely preferable from the Chinese standpoint than dealing with a unified continent. "Divide and conquer" is not exactly a new strategy for empires. If the US "devolves", it is dividing itself, and the incentive for an attempt at conquest - if not by China then someone else - is totally clear to me.

It is certainly a mistake to believe that the Chinese are now governed by profit. They are governed by the Communist Party's will to power. No "example" the US sets will change this. A unified US has much more potential to threaten their power than does a fractionated US. A fractionated US that has been denuclearized has no ability at all to threaten their power, and thus would be a dream come true for them.

Are you saying that the Chinese would resist the temptation to reorganize themselves along neocameralist lines for several decades,

Of course! The idea of China becoming neo-cameralist is far more implausible than the US becoming so.

I can certainly envision a future where a USA more closely resembling crime wracked South Africa instead follows SA's lead and rids itself of its own nukes and invites Chinese interference, in the worst way. I don't see the USA as stable, as is. Can you see a future USA resembling South Africa? Hiring quotas for disadvantaged inner city youth to staff nuke silos, and more on the job zzzs, and the future I paint is dystopian and invites possible interference?

It may be possible to imagine "worse" futures than a fractionated neo-cameralist USA becoming a playground for foreign adventurism, but that doesn't mean the latter scenario is the least-worst possible future, or indeed, better than the situation we have now.

My dear, I've seen the thugs that run the PRC and they are least of your worries.

If you have seen them and know anything about them, you wouldn't be talking about them "going neo-cameral" at all! They'll give their local neo-cameralists a pistol shot to the back of the head and send their families a bill for the bullet.

July 28, 2008 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger peco said...

A lot of the city states are going to low-ball Cheyenne and dare them to cut off protection. We give you 20% of what you asked for, and if you cut off protection you get nothing.

The supermarket won't let you pay 20% of the price, and neither will Cheyenne.

No, it won't, because it won't have the supporting infrastructure to maintain a viable deterrent, you vastly underestimate the cost and difficulty of doing so, and Cheyenne won't have the survivable forces and the command / control / communications / intelligence needed to give China a huge problem.


You can buy a lot of things with 2% of U.S. GDP.

A nuclear extortionist state would be even more repulsive to the world than was slavery, and believe me, it would be suppressed militarily in short order.

How? It's not worth getting nuked.

Under the US government, Peoria is not threatened by invasion by anyone, does not have to maintain a local defense force, and does not have to bid for nuclear protection (they already have it). But things are better under a devolved neo-cameralist regime!


People in Peoria would pay less taxes, and most things would stay the same (after it gets protection it will be mostly like the U.S.).


Ah, but Peoria would pay what it had committed to pay - but this would be much less than what Cheyenne desired and required it to pay, and (ultimately) less than required for Cheyenne to maintain a viable, effective nuclear force.


Peoria would be paying a fair price for nuclear protection. Cheyenne doesn't get as much money as it wants, but it is still adequate (otherwise Cheyenne could make more money by charging more). Even if each city-state only paid 0.5% of GDP, it would still be enough to maintain many nukes.

That still does not mean that the resulting force would have the same deterrent effect as the US force does now!

If it makes sense to do so, all the city-states can give money to one non-sovereign organization to do exactly what the U.S. used to do. The organization could employ the same people and own the same land, so nothing would change.

Suppose the U.S. was split into three sovorgs, two with about 45% of U.S. GDP, and one with all the nuclear weapons, all the people who maintain nuclear weapons, the entire U.S. military and California. The three states could maintain a nuclear arsenal just as well, because one state gets everything it needs to do so. Although most ways to partition the U.S. don't work, as long as one does, the final result is the same (assuming the people partitioning the U.S. know what they are doing). (respond to this paragraph)

My posts contradict each other because some of your points were very good (like how nuclear extortion wouldn't work). I changed my mind on those points, but I didn't tell you that.

July 29, 2008 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger peco said...

puerile

>.>

I'm 14.

July 29, 2008 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Ad hominems are still ad hominems even if they are true.

July 30, 2008 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Gerard said...

Oh, shut up, you tempestuous old slag. Your argument is purely puerile.

July 30, 2008 at 10:35 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

I haven't checked this in a while, so maybe it's dead and I'm too late, but I'll respond to incredulous anyway.

Aside from the fact that this is a crazy idea - who the hell would want to live as one of the robber baron mole people?
There's already a city called Coober Pedy in Australia where it's so hot that people live underground. Apparently some people like being mole people. People are some strange people.

other states would immediately demonstrate to you that it is not difficult at all to annihilate your underground bunker with nukes, so no, you're not going to survive let alone "come out on top".

Yes, the success of my nuclear extortionist state is much more likely if it can defend itself from nuclear attack. 15 minutes of research turns up this:

Saddam Hussein's bunker would have required 16 direct hits with nuclear cruise missiles
Proposed bunker buster nuke would cause incredible devastation, not just to Cheyenne but to everybody a few thousand miles downwind, would not necessarily destroy the deepest bunkers (this "ultimate bunker buster" was never actually built, btw). This would give nearby states another reason to cooperate with Cheyenne w.r.t radar and dispersing Cheyenne's nukes - they would need to deter potential attacks on Cheyenne, because they would go down with Cheyenne.

The cost of boring underground is dropping, making it easier to build the requisite bunkers.

The take home message is that it doesn't appear to be impossible to build facilities that are essentially invulnerable to attack. Yes, you could nuke the site over and over again until you dug down to the bunkers, but that could take some time, and your country might not exist by then.

I don't think it would necessarily be impossible for a nuclear extortionist to profit without effective protection - other states may decide it's cheaper to pay it off than fight it - but you'd have to have balls of steel to try it. I wouldn't want to be downwind of such a state.


Is this the great dream of neo-cameralism? Is this why we should want to dismantle our current government and reorder our society from scratch? So we can be like the mutants in Beneath the Planet of the Apes who worship the bomb, and so we can make our living preying on others?

No. I'm not a neocameralist. But I do think it would be interesting. I think there would be a variety of states filling different niches, contrary to MM's lazy assumption that all governments would try to attract the best and brightest by having the nicest neighborhoods. Some of them would be nice, and some not so nice.

A small city state is the state that can least afford to be involved in a nuclear war. How many bombs would you need to take out Monaco or Singapore?

A more relevant question is, how much would it cost Monaco or Singapore to protect an acceptable proportion of their assets, given that it's possible, compared to how much it would cost China to do so? China's options would be analogous to shooting a mosquito that's sucking blood out of it, with predictable side effects, or just letting it suck.

Everything else you said which related to my comment was basically predicated on the assumption that it's impossible to defend your assets by going underground. Given that, AFAICT, that's not the case, there's not much else to be said, unless you know something I don't know about easily destroying deep bunkers.

July 30, 2008 at 11:13 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

One more thought - the nuclear extortionist would probably not think of itself as a nuclear extortionist, and would not portray itself to the world as such. It would probably think of itself as providing protection from other nuclear extortionists, which it would actually do. It would also think of itself as a world cop, threatening states that do something naughty (like threatening its nuclear monopoly or oligopoly) and thus keeping order. What we have been calling extortion would be portrayed as a way to keep states from freeloading.

This is roughly analogous to how the government portrays itself - the difference between taxation and extortion. Most people (libertarianish people excluded) buy into it, and don't have a lot of sympathy for tax resistors.

Who knows, if the extortionist state provided enough value and asked for a reasonable amount of money, maybe some people who don't live there and get their news from its version of Pravda would buy into it.

July 30, 2008 at 11:26 PM  
Anonymous incredulous said...

The supermarket won't let you pay 20% of the price, and neither will Cheyenne.

Cheyenne needs the money more than Peoria needs the protection.

If you contend that Cheyenne can dictate the price for protection to every single city-state in the former USA, how is this better than the current Federal government dictating the price for its protection? How is this system better than the current system in view of the fact that devolving into city-states will introduce costly inefficiences in defense spending?

You can buy a lot of things with 2% of U.S. GDP.

We've already gone through this. Faulty premise, faulty conclusion.

A nuclear extortionist state would be even more repulsive to the world than was slavery, and believe me, it would be suppressed militarily in short order.
How? It's not worth getting nuked.


If you assume that an extortionist state is willing to risk getting nuked to achieve a positive goal - not merely to defend itself, but to coerce others - then I don't see why you don't believe other states would risk getting nuked to achieve a much more worthy positive goal - getting rid of the extortionist and protecting the world from its threats. A nuclear extortionist would create extremely powerful incentives for other states to band together to eliminate it, and there are many ways for a powerful state to get rid of such a nuisance that would minimize the risk of being nuked.

People in Peoria would pay less taxes, and most things would stay the same (after it gets protection it will be mostly like the U.S.).

You propose a fundamental change in the political, economic, and social structure of North America, and then claim that afterwards "most things would stay the same". This can only be described as deluded nonsense. The United States is an integrated economic entity just as it is an integrated military entity. "Devolution" would have profound - and in my view, profoundly negative - economic effects just as it would have profoundly negative military effects. Far from "staying the same", a large number of people in Peoria are going to be out of a job, and everyone is going to pay more for everything from basic commodities such as food and energy to imported goods of all kinds (after all, once Peoria is an independent nation, pretty much everything is an imported good).

Even if each city-state only paid 0.5% of GDP, it would still be enough to maintain many nukes.

North America is not going to have the same GDP after it devolves as the US does. The money spent on defense will not be spend efficiently. The city-state's nuclear forces would not be as survivable or effective as those of the current US.

If it makes sense to do so, all the city-states can give money to one non-sovereign organization to do exactly what the U.S. used to do. The organization could employ the same people and own the same land, so nothing would change.

It does not make sense to do so! The problems with such a scheme are myriad, and the last conclusion I would draw is that "nothing would change" compared to the current US military. Such a statement can only reflect profound ignorance of how the US military is manned, equipped, trained, and operated. What does decades of experience with transnational organizations suggest about the viability of such a scheme?

Today, the US spends a lot of money training people to operate its nuclear forces, and ensuring that they are loyal, stable and reliable. Who will do the training under your scheme? Where will it occur, who will pay for it? Is every city state going to have a program to ensure that people who join the nuclear force are stable and reliable? Who are they loyal to - their home city state, or some nebulous transnational organization? Do you really want to fractionate the loyalty of a nuclear force, or have them loyal to some weird transnational organization? Right now, people are willing to sit in silos or spend months on submarines because they are patriotic Americans. What reason is there to think they'd be willing to accept these hardships on behalf of some transnational protection society? Oh, they're going to be paid a lot more than they are now. Great, now we have to trust people with nuclear weapons because they are being paid a lot. Like Blackwater, but with nukes! Why does that idea not fill me with good feelings about the neo-cameral devolution? And hey, here comes Osama, and he says to these guys, "I'll pay you a lot MORE than you're paid now if you give control of that nuke to me, and I promise never to use it against your city state..."

Suppose the U.S. was split into three sovorgs, two with about 45% of U.S. GDP, and one with all the nuclear weapons, all the people who maintain nuclear weapons, the entire U.S. military and California. The three states could maintain a nuclear arsenal just as well, because one state gets everything it needs to do so. Although most ways to partition the U.S. don't work, as long as one does, the final result is the same (assuming the people partitioning the U.S. know what they are doing). (respond to this paragraph)

Um, and just WHY do you want to do this, again? What does this get you? Why is it better than what we have now? If we have three sovorgs that are presumably neo-cameral, why not just have one that comprises the entire territory of the former USA?

I changed my mind on those points, but I didn't tell you that.

Yaaay!

Ad hominems are still ad hominems even if they are true.

I do not say that his claims are false because they are puerile. They are false because of their flaws in logic and fact. That they are puerile is simply icing on the cake. Ergo, no ad hominem fallacy, and your claim that there is an ad hominem fallacy is itself fallacious. But, have fun shrieking "ad hominem, ad hominem!" until you choke on your own self-righteousness.

There's already a city called Coober Pedy in Australia where it's so hot that people live underground. Apparently some people like being mole people. People are some strange people.

Do they make their living by robbing the passers-by? No, they have productive occupations that any decent person would be proud to do. That's what makes it worth it for them to live underground.

Saddam Hussein's bunker would have required 16 direct hits with nuclear cruise missiles

This article is stupid and irrelevant for a lot of reasons. Firstly, they weren't going to use any kind of nukes against Saddam. If they did, they wouldn't have used cruise missiles, they would have used ballistic missiles. A single 335 kiloton Peacekeeper warhead detonated 3 meters below ground level would kill everyone in that bunker, even though they were 100 meters underground. End of story.

Proposed bunker buster nuke would cause incredible devastation, not just to Cheyenne but to everybody a few thousand miles downwind,

So what? The extortionist state does not care about inflicting casualties - in fact, the whole basis of their economy is the credibility of their willingness and ability to cause as many casualties as possible among their potential victims. To deter such creatures, you must be able to show that you are willing and able to kill them regardless of any collateral damage. This can easily be done! It is a simple matter to kill a single target like the mole people's underground complex if you know where it is (and its opponents will know, such a thing could hardly be kept secret) and you don't care about collateral damage.

The only country that cares about collateral damage is the United States. If the US goes away, and some post-US mole people start threatening to nuke people (or actually doing so), Russia or China can easily demonstrate the capability to kill everyone in a deep underground bunker. They certainly would not care about the "incredible devastation", not least because all the devastation would land on the former USA and none of it on Russia or China. These were the people who planned to use hundreds or thousands of nuclear weapons in the event of nuclear war with the USA, and were ready to kill tens to hundreds of millions of Americans, so the idea that they would hesitate to pop one nuke on the creepy extortionists, even if hundreds of thousands of innocent people died as a result, simply isn't plausible at all.

would not necessarily destroy the deepest bunkers (this "ultimate bunker buster" was never actually built, btw).

Nukes already exist capable of killing the deepest bunkers. The problem is doing it without collateral damage. Anyone taking out the mole people would not care about collateral damage.

If one accepts the claim of the report you cited that the proposed RNEP would only be able to destroy bunkers 1000 feet deep or less, that does not mean there is no RNEP that can destroy bunkers deeper than 1000 feet. If you know how deep the mole people are digging - which would be easy to determine - it is a simple engineering problem to build an earth-penetrating nuke able to kill them.

This would give nearby states another reason to cooperate with Cheyenne w.r.t radar and dispersing Cheyenne's nukes - they would need to deter potential attacks on Cheyenne, because they would go down with Cheyenne.

More like it gives them a reason to stop Cheyenne's crazy extortionist plan at any cost.

The cost of boring underground is dropping, making it easier to build the requisite bunkers.

Where I live (northern Virginia), the government recoiled at the $875m cost of building a subway tunnel for a few miles under Tyson's Corner. It is one thing to dig a subway tunnel a few tens of feet underground that is not designed to withstand attack or support a population that permanently lives there. It is another thing entirely to create a deep underground structure in which a whole city can live over the long term (forever!) and which can survive nuclear explosions. The latter project would not be cheap, to say the least.

The take home message is that it doesn't appear to be impossible to build facilities that are essentially invulnerable to attack.

Nope, wrong message entirely. That project would be difficult and expensive, and in the end, still vulnerable to attack.

Yes, you could nuke the site over and over again until you dug down to the bunkers, but that could take some time, and your country might not exist by then.

Here again you argue, in the face of all common sense, that the crazy extortionist mole people would be willing to risk death to achieve not the negative goal of self-defense, but the positive goal of coercing others, and yet nobody else would be willing to take any risks to step them. If the moles are willing to die to coerce money out of others, why should the Russians or Chinese (or anyone else with a nuke) not be willing to die to extend their deterrent to cover anyone threatened by the mole people? In fact, a defensive Russian threat - "you mole people attack anyone and we'll nuke you" - is much more credible than an offensive mole people threat - "give us your money or we'll nuke you".

It does not matter how many nukes it would take to kill the mole people (in fact, it would probably only take one). If the mole people know they are going to die if they try to put their extortion scheme into action, they're just not going to do it. To argue otherwise assumes a level of suicidal determination rarely seen in history, and such an attitude would be an even more powerful incentive for the world to crush them than if they had a normal aversion to death.

I don't think it would necessarily be impossible for a nuclear extortionist to profit without effective protection - other states may decide it's cheaper to pay it off than fight it - but you'd have to have balls of steel to try it. I wouldn't want to be downwind of such a state.

It is the extortionists who have to have a wildly implausible level of ballsiness, not everyone else.

I think there would be a variety of states filling different niches, contrary to MM's lazy assumption that all governments would try to attract the best and brightest by having the nicest neighborhoods. Some of them would be nice, and some not so nice.

The best and the brightest will devote their considerable energies to putting an end to the types of vicious parasites you think are "interesting".

A more relevant question is, how much would it cost Monaco or Singapore to protect an acceptable proportion of their assets, given that it's possible, compared to how much it would cost China to do so? China's options would be analogous to shooting a mosquito that's sucking blood out of it, with predictable side effects, or just letting it suck.

China could very cheaply ensure that Monaco or SIngapore were 100% guaranteed to be 100% obliterated in a conflict with China. Monaco or Singapore would have to spend vastly more to ensure guaranteed 100% destruction of China - and they probably couldn't even achieve anywhere close to that level of destruction. Singapore could probably build the capability to protect itself from Chinese coercion or conquest, but it could not build the capability to coerce China or anyone China protected.

Everything else you said which related to my comment was basically predicated on the assumption that it's impossible to defend your assets by going underground. Given that, AFAICT, that's not the case, there's not much else to be said, unless you know something I don't know about easily destroying deep bunkers.

Yeah, your assumption that building an underground city would be easy and cheap is highly questionable. The assumption that anyone trying to get rid of the mole people would not accept the risk of large-scale fallout that does not even fall on them is flatly wrong. The report that you think says it is impossible to kill the mole people actually describes the difficulties of using EPW in the way that the US proposes to use them, but the way nukes would be used against the mole people would be completely different. Anyone attacking the mole people would use bigger bombs, and if necessary, more of them, than the US would use in the scenarios for RNEP employment.

One more thought - the nuclear extortionist would probably not think of itself as a nuclear extortionist, and would not portray itself to the world as such. It would probably think of itself as providing protection from other nuclear extortionists, which it would actually do. It would also think of itself as a world cop, threatening states that do something naughty (like threatening its nuclear monopoly or oligopoly) and thus keeping order. What we have been calling extortion would be portrayed as a way to keep states from freeloading.

Uh huh. If that's what it takes to make this absurd fantasy plausible to you, have fun.

July 31, 2008 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Oh, shut up, you tempestuous old slag. Your argument is purely puerile.

Is this supposed to be convincing?

Or effective?

Also, who is 'you'?

July 31, 2008 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger peco said...

If you assume that an extortionist state is willing to risk getting nuked to achieve a positive goal - not merely to defend itself, but to coerce others - then I don't see why you don't believe other states would risk getting nuked to achieve a much more worthy positive goal - getting rid of the extortionist and protecting the world from its threats. A nuclear extortionist would create extremely powerful incentives for other states to band together to eliminate it, and there are many ways for a powerful state to get rid of such a nuisance that would minimize the risk of being nuked.

Cheyenne has less to lose from getting nuked because it does not make much money from its own territory.

Cheyenne needs the money more than Peoria needs the protection.

Can you explain? Peoria will only give a tiny percentage of the money that Cheyenne needs, just like how an individual customer only gives a tiny percentage of the money that the supermarket needs. On the other hand, Peoria depends on Cheyenne for protection (so it doesn't get invaded by a tiny country). If Peoria threatens to pay less, Cheyenne can threaten to stop protecting them. Peoria will suffer a lot, and Cheyenne won't, so Peoria will pay the full price.

On Resartus, the way this would work is that the creationist community itself would be asked to list its claims, and edit them collectively, producing the best possible statement of the creationist case.

Here is a list of my claims (people who are "on my side" here should edit them to make them better):

1. Having several small countries instead of one large country has several benefits (maybe someone else could list them).
2. Some city-states would have nukes if the U.S. is split up.
3. The city-states would not have enough money to maintain the nukes by themselves, so they have to sell protection to non-nuclear states (maybe including non-U.S. countries, like Brazil).
4. Since small city-states are very vulnerable, they will be willing to pay a reasonable price (1% GDP) for complete protection.
5. As the number of city-states paying a certain nuclear city-state goes up, the nuclear city-state can lower prices.
6. A small lead in the number of "subscribers" can become a huge lead in a moderate amount of time because of this.
7. The number of city-states offering protection will decrease, and the price of protection will drop.
8. Countries like China and Russia are not willing to nuke the U.S. preemptively because they will be destroyed or greatly harmed.
9. The nuclear city-states can defend against any country because it is stupid for a country to get itself nuked in order to get San Diego.
10. All the city-states (except the stupid ones) are protected, and the other benefits of splitting the U.S. make the city-states better overall than the current U.S.

July 31, 2008 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Gerard said...

Mon cher alrenous,

I would ask you not to be the embodiment of the ancient French expression, "Les chiens ne comprennent pas des plaisanteries."

After all, we are remaking the United States of America here.

Merci bien,
Moi

July 31, 2008 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Unfortunately, in addition to being a philistine with regards to poetry, I am a philistine with regards to French.

Translation please?

July 31, 2008 at 7:16 PM  
Anonymous incredulous said...

Cheyenne has less to lose from getting nuked because it does not make much money from its own territory.

It has literally everything to lose from being nuked! 100% of the population dead, and 100% of its territory a radioactive wasteland! (Plus of course its moneymaking nukes would also go away.) You want me to believe the population of Cheyenne - even its Dr. Evil ruling clique - will not care about this?

Can you explain? Peoria will only give a tiny percentage of the money that Cheyenne needs, just like how an individual customer only gives a tiny percentage of the money that the supermarket needs. On the other hand, Peoria depends on Cheyenne for protection (so it doesn't get invaded by a tiny country). If Peoria threatens to pay less, Cheyenne can threaten to stop protecting them. Peoria will suffer a lot, and Cheyenne won't, so Peoria will pay the full price.

Peoria provides a small fraction of the money Cheyenne needs, but the sum total of all the city-states like Peoria that lowball Cheyenne on its protection will not be sufficient to sustain Cheyenne's nuclear capability.

If Peoria is threatened with invasion from a tiny country, this tiny country must be very close to Peoria - probably the next city-state over. Now Cheyenne is going to "protect" Peoria by dropping megatons a few miles away in the next city-state? Gee, thanks! Hey, about that fallout that's landing on us... and that is killing millions of people in city-states hundreds of miles downwind who had nothing to do with this dispute... oh, you can't do anything about that, but you're sorry. Good plan, chief, thanks for the protection!

As the next city-state over, my plan is to do a lightning invasion of Peoria, and take it over before Cheyenne can react. I then transfer all the Peorian women of reproductive age to my city, so that if Cheyenne nukes me, Peoria loses their breeders. I also tell my army that if their home city gets nuked, they should kill everyone in Peoria. To stop this kind of plan, Peoria needs enough conventional forces so that it can't be quickly overrun. In fact, every single city state will have to maintain such conventional forces. All these hundreds of city-state micro-armies need to be trained and equipped. Needless to say, no such armies exist now, or need to exist. Thus, by devolving the continent, you have created a giant inefficiency - vast numbers of men under arms are required, where few were required before - and a vast source of expense. All the money spent on this is not available to give to Cheyenne or for any other profitable activity. Yaaay, devolution!

1. Having several small countries instead of one large country has several benefits (maybe someone else could list them).

76 comments into this thread and I am STILL not clear on why you people want to do this. Please, please, list those benefits! So far this is a giant pig in the poke.

2. Some city-states would have nukes if the U.S. is split up.

Provide a full explanation of how the nuclear weapons and their delivery means would be designed, tested, manufactured, deployed, based, and operated. Fully discuss the recruitment and training of contractor and military personnel. Fully describe the supporting employment doctrine, command / control / communications / intelligence systems, and survivability of each city-state's nuclear forces. Explain why the city-state's nuclear forces provide not merely the capability for self-defense, but the capability to provide credible extended deterrence to others against all types of aggression.

8. Countries like China and Russia are not willing to nuke the U.S. preemptively because they will be destroyed or greatly harmed.

And yet the "protector" city state does not care about the certainty that it will be totally destroyed if it tangles with Russia or China! Madness, I say, madness.

9. The nuclear city-states can defend against any country because it is stupid for a country to get itself nuked in order to get San Diego.

Yet somehow it is not stupid for Cheyenne - and every country under Cheyenne's "protection" - to risk getting nuked for San Diego.

Just look at the Cold War. "Stand alone" US nuclear protection - that is, reliance on US nuclear forces with no conventional force backup - under massive retaliation lasted about 15 years. After the Soviets developed the means to nuke the USA in the late 1950s / early 1960s, that type of US nuclear protection went out the window. The US decided, correctly, that the idea that we were going to nuke the USSR, or one of its proxies, if the USSR or one of its proxies misbehaved was crazy because we'd get nuked, too (as well as being regarded as an international pariah). We didn't even bother to make threats along those lines, because we knew they were not credible! Did we threaten to nuke North Vietnam or the USSR when North Vietnam started messing with South Vietnam? Heck, no. So, a continent-sized superpower like the 1950s-1960s USA was not willing to make nuclear weapons the sole basis of its security guarantees, but somehow in the future a puny city state will be able to do so? And you wonder why I don't take you seriously?

10. All the city-states (except the stupid ones) are protected, and the other benefits of splitting the U.S. make the city-states better overall than the current U.S.

Dear God, what inna name of all that's holy are those "other benefits"???? Why, oh why, do you want to do this? Why is devolution necessary, as opposed to mere "neo-cameralizing" of an undivided USA?

August 1, 2008 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger peco said...

It has literally everything to lose from being nuked! 100% of the population dead, and 100% of its territory a radioactive wasteland! (Plus of course its moneymaking nukes would also go away.) You want me to believe the population of Cheyenne - even its Dr. Evil ruling clique - will not care about this?

No! Most of its nukes will be elsewhere (it will have merged with many other nuclear city-states). Obviously Cheyenne does not want to get nuked, but the corporation governing Cheyenne might still be profitable if Cheyenne is nuked.

Peoria provides a small fraction of the money Cheyenne needs, but the sum total of all the city-states like Peoria that lowball Cheyenne on its protection will not be sufficient to sustain Cheyenne's nuclear capability.

Unless all the city-states cooperate to lower prices, that won't happen--Cheyenne will just stop giving protection to all the uncooperative city-states and get the money it needs from the cooperative ones (even if half of the city-states stopped paying, Cheyenne could just borrow money for a while or shrink its arsenal). If the uncooperative city-states actually need protection, they will agree to pay the full price.

If Peoria is threatened with invasion from a tiny country, this tiny country must be very close to Peoria - probably the next city-state over. Now Cheyenne is going to "protect" Peoria by dropping megatons a few miles away in the next city-state? Gee, thanks! Hey, about that fallout that's landing on us... and that is killing millions of people in city-states hundreds of miles downwind who had nothing to do with this dispute... oh, you can't do anything about that, but you're sorry. Good plan, chief, thanks for the protection!

Why would the tiny city-state start an attack in the first place if it knows it will get nuked? Cheyenne can agree to pay for any damage caused by its nukes to the states it is protecting. With 1% of U.S. GDP, it could easily restore Peoria.

As the next city-state over, my plan is to do a lightning invasion of Peoria, and take it over before Cheyenne can react. I then transfer all the Peorian women of reproductive age to my city, so that if Cheyenne nukes me, Peoria loses their breeders. I also tell my army that if their home city gets nuked, they should kill everyone in Peoria. To stop this kind of plan, Peoria needs enough conventional forces so that it can't be quickly overrun. In fact, every single city state will have to maintain such conventional forces. All these hundreds of city-state micro-armies need to be trained and equipped. Needless to say, no such armies exist now, or need to exist. Thus, by devolving the continent, you have created a giant inefficiency - vast numbers of men under arms are required, where few were required before - and a vast source of expense. All the money spent on this is not available to give to Cheyenne or for any other profitable activity. Yaaay, devolution!

If this happens, Cheyenne could just nuke the state anyway and encourage people to move to Peoria (it would pay a lot of money, but it would only have to do this a few times at most before people learn not to do this).

Provide a full explanation of how the nuclear weapons and their delivery means would be designed, tested, manufactured, deployed, based, and operated.

Do the same thing the U.S. is doing now, except with less weapons.

Fully discuss the recruitment and training of contractor and military personnel.

Contractors can be hired with money. There are also enough trained military personnel in the U.S. right now for each nuclear city-state to hire enough if some of them merge. (If there are only enough for 5 nuclear city-states, it will be profitable for nuclear states to merge until there are 5.)

Fully describe the supporting employment doctrine, command / control / communications / intelligence systems, and survivability of each city-state's nuclear forces.

I'm assuming "employment doctrine" means how a state decides when to use nukes. A state would use nukes if one of the states it is protecting gets attacked and the attacker will not stop attacking and pay the state that was attacked, or if a state is attacking Cheyenne's customers for the second time. This is to stop states from attacking one customer, stopping, and then attacking another customer. Nukes would also be used if the attacking state used nukes first. This is to stop states from attacking one customer, stopping, and then attacking another customer. Nuclear weapons would be launched by contractors or military personnel with the permission of the directors. The nuclear city-states can share communication infrastructure and intelligence, since sharing increases profits for all the states that sharing (including the non-nuclear ones, which get free protection). The city-states can hire contractors to maintain the communication infrastructure. Two nuclear city-states can make their nuclear forces more survivable by keeping part of each of their arsenals on the other state's territory and requiring that both city-states give permission before a nuclear weapon is launched if the nuclear weapon is not on its owner's territory (so that state A won't get nuked just because state B launches a nuke from its territory--they will both have to say that state B launched it before state A allows it to be launched). Obviously, state A would agree to pay state B a lot of money if state B gets nuked (and vice versa), and each state would launch the nukes from its own territory first.

And yet the "protector" city state does not care about the certainty that it will be totally destroyed if it tangles with Russia or China! Madness, I say, madness.


The protector state will lose all of its profits if it doesn't launch nukes because all of its customers will stop buying protection. If it launches nukes, it will get destroyed, but it will still have all of its customers (it might even get more because everyone will know that the protector state will actually protect them) and the nukes that it stored in other city-states. The protector state would buy some uranium/plutonium from the other states and continue making money. Therefore, a rational state will launch nukes. A sovcorp cares about its profits, not its territory.

Yet somehow it is not stupid for Cheyenne - and every country under Cheyenne's "protection" - to risk getting nuked for San Diego.

Just look at the Cold War. "Stand alone" US nuclear protection - that is, reliance on US nuclear forces with no conventional force backup - under massive retaliation lasted about 15 years. After the Soviets developed the means to nuke the USA in the late 1950s / early 1960s, that type of US nuclear protection went out the window. The US decided, correctly, that the idea that we were going to nuke the USSR, or one of its proxies, if the USSR or one of its proxies misbehaved was crazy because we'd get nuked, too (as well as being regarded as an international pariah). We didn't even bother to make threats along those lines, because we knew they were not credible! Did we threaten to nuke North Vietnam or the USSR when North Vietnam started messing with South Vietnam? Heck, no. So, a continent-sized superpower like the 1950s-1960s USA was not willing to make nuclear weapons the sole basis of its security guarantees, but somehow in the future a puny city state will be able to do so? And you wonder why I don't take you seriously?


See the previous response. A sovcorp will make more money if it launches nukes to protect its customers. Its customers probably won't get nuked if the sovcorp isn't launching weapons from their territory. If they do get nuked, the sovcorp can pay the customer all the money they used to make (since the protector state makes so much more money). Cheyenne is different from the U.S. because it is rational for Cheyenne to actually use its nukes if one of its customers get attacked.

Dear God, what inna name of all that's holy are those "other benefits"???? Why, oh why, do you want to do this? Why is devolution necessary, as opposed to mere "neo-cameralizing" of an undivided USA?

More states = more competition.

August 1, 2008 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Gerard said...

Incredulous rightly asks: "76 comments into this thread and I am STILL not clear on why you people want to do this. Please, please, list those benefits! So far this is a giant pig in the poke. "

Cher incredulous,

As I am almost sure you have figured out already there are two elements to these posts.

The first element is the post itself which has a lot of interesting ideas and a lot of interesting, seldom seen references and links by M. Moldbug. Found within this is a good deal of very compelling analysis in a fresh way written in a slightly arcane tone that does much to make them refreshing.

The second element is the "discussion" in which many comments actually take this stuff at face value and try to see how they would put this into actual practice. This sort of thing invariably attracts a kind of mental gymnast that leaps, flips, and misses the bar because there is no bar there in the first place.

Overall, this kind of thread is what some note as an exemplar of the disease "Intellectual Insanity," or -- as it is known in England - "wanking."

Fret not in quest of sensible answers and details for there shall be none.

August 1, 2008 at 4:27 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

incredulous, the core issue is still whether it's possible for a small state to come out ahead in a nuclear exchange with a large state. Your criticisms of my analogy to Saddam's bunker are valid, but (imagine Dr Evil's voice here) this time I have a better example: behold.... THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE!!!

http://www.slate.com/id/2173108/pagenum/all

Transfer ONE MILLION DOLLARS into my bank account, or the world is doomed!

MUHAHAHAHA!!

(end Dr Evil).

Here's another article about Mt Yamantau that says:
It has been built to resist a half dozen direct nuclear hits, one after the other in a direct hole.
http://www.mondovista.com/yamantau.html

The Soviets (and post-Soviet Russians) apparently thought that digging 3000 feet into a mountain would protect them, or they wouldn't have bothered. I suppose they did more research on this subject than my 30 minutes or your (apparently) 0 minutes of googling.

Also, digging in some cruddy Northern Virginia soil is not the same as digging in a desert or mountain. I have read that it's much faster for modern equipment to dig through rock than wet or soft soil. If building little tunnels always cost billions, there wouldn't be mines that go miles underground, unless they're mining pure platinum (plenty of deep mines around that could be bought, so the job of digging is already partially done).

I think you would be nuts not to just pay off these people, if the amount of money they asked for wasn't nuts (which it probably wouldn't be, for the same reason that Laplanders don't drink enough blood to kill the reindeer). Libertarians don't want to pay taxes either, but most of them just grumble and do it.

Unless you care to provide some evidence (assertions based on your intuition don't count) that this wouldn't work, or some argument that doesn't depend on the alleged fact that it's easy to build a nuke that destroys bunkers at arbitrary depths, there's really no point in continuing this.

August 3, 2008 at 2:19 AM  
Anonymous mlr said...

c23,

I think it needs to be pointed out that your scenario is far removed from anything proposed by neocameralism and formalism as it has been described on this blog. Please do feel free to share with us your wild fantasies, but don't expect Incredulous, or anyone else, to epxend energy mucking around with an argument that is besides the point...

... mole people, indeed, yeeesh~

Don't feed the tro... err... mole-people.

In any case, I think alot of interesting ideas have been raised, and I really look forward to MM dealing with them when he returns.

August 3, 2008 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

I thank "incredulous" for injecting some realism into the discussion of nuclear devolution. Think of it like this: the nomos does not permit it. And we're all supposed to be pronomian here, right?

"It has been built to resist a half dozen direct nuclear hits, one after the other"

Except perhaps North Korea, every nuclear weapons state on Earth has far more than half a dozen nukes. Yamantau is a fallback command center for a continental great power which possesses thousands of other assets which will make life interesting for any attacker, and which also possesses many other places where the leadership might hide. But any hypothetical city-state-with-nukes is a sitting duck if its deterrent ever gets neutralized, and is certainly thereby vulnerable to coercion by geographically larger powers.

August 4, 2008 at 4:28 AM  
Blogger peco said...

But any hypothetical city-state-with-nukes is a sitting duck if its deterrent ever gets neutralized, and is certainly thereby vulnerable to coercion by geographically larger powers.

Yes, but this can be avoided if the city-state pays another state a lot of money to hold some of its nukes (obviously that state might get nuked, so a lot of money would be paid).

August 4, 2008 at 6:56 AM  
Anonymous incredulous said...

No! Most of its nukes will be elsewhere (it will have merged with many other nuclear city-states).

This is just a pathetic attempt to avoid the issue. Just as Cheyenne would have literally everything to lose, so would any other city-states that joined the Cheyenne cabal. They would no more want to be nuked than Cheyenne would, and would have everything to lose from being nuked, just as Cheyenne would.

The idea that somehow Cheyenne would "hide" its nukes on someone else's soil is ridiculous. It's a little hard to move ICBM silos and secretly put them somewhere else. Maybe they somehow have a bomber or some warheads elsewhere, but a bomber base is not exactly inconspicuous either. How does Cheyenne ensure command, control and communications? How does Cheyenne ensure that the weapons will be used if Cheyenne is vaporized? How does Cheyenne stop this other states from confiscating the weapons or refusing to allow them to be used? (Cue the ritual chant, "well, they would pay them a lot of money...")

Obviously Cheyenne does not want to get nuked, but the corporation governing Cheyenne might still be profitable if Cheyenne is nuked.

What is a corporation? A bunch of people. If they are all killed, the corporation is gone. If the people in Cheyenne are not members of the corporation, then the people elsewhere, who are the corporation, are the ones who are going to get nuked.

Unless all the city-states cooperate to lower prices, that won't happen

They don't have to cooperate actively. The same incentive - to pay as little as possible - operates the same way on all of them.

Cheyenne will just stop giving protection to all the uncooperative city-states and get the money it needs from the cooperative ones (even if half of the city-states stopped paying, Cheyenne could just borrow money for a while or shrink its arsenal).

The whole point is that Cheyenne cannot get enough money to operate an effective arsenal. That arsenal is going to be in a financial death-spiral from day one. It won't have enough money to keep going, so it will be progressively less effective, and as it becomes less effective people are less interested in paying for it, driving the effectiveness down even more.

Why would the tiny city-state start an attack in the first place if it knows it will get nuked?

Because it does not believe the threat of being nuked is credible, and it's not (except in your fevered imagination).

Cheyenne can agree to pay for any damage caused by its nukes to the states it is protecting. With 1% of U.S. GDP, it could easily restore Peoria.

Oh please, that's just fatuous. No amount of money can restore the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dead people plus those suffering from radiation sickness, cancer, and those maimed in the blast. Peoria, and a great deal of territory downwind, would be essentially unusable for decades.

You've really outdone yourself in the realm of childish fantasy here. Congratulations.

If this happens, Cheyenne could just nuke the state anyway and encourage people to move to Peoria (it would pay a lot of money, but it would only have to do this a few times at most before people learn not to do this).

Wow, that sure solves Peoria's problem. The lesson everyone learns is, Cheyenne can't protect you, it can only kill you.

Provide a full explanation of how the nuclear weapons and their delivery means would be designed, tested, manufactured, deployed, based, and operated.
Do the same thing the U.S. is doing now, except with less weapons.


Bzzzzzt, wrong. I knew that was going to be your answer, too.

Fully discuss the recruitment and training of contractor and military personnel.
Contractors can be hired with money. There are also enough trained military personnel in the U.S. right now for each nuclear city-state to hire enough if some of them merge. (If there are only enough for 5 nuclear city-states, it will be profitable for nuclear states to merge until there are 5.)


Your answer to every social and political and military problem is "pay a lot of money". What are you, 16? Have you ever had a real job, or served in the military? Some things in this world cannot be achieved just by throwing money at them.

In fact, there are not enough trained personnel to maintain a significant number of independent nuclear states. The US has trouble maintaining just one nuclear complex, and the scientific and engineering workforce is increasingly older and with low morale. If the US disintegrated, a lot of these people would simply go and do something else.

I'm assuming "employment doctrine" means how a state decides when to use nukes. A state would use nukes if one of the states it is protecting gets attacked and the attacker will not stop attacking and pay the state that was attacked, or if a state is attacking Cheyenne's customers for the second time. This is to stop states from attacking one customer, stopping, and then attacking another customer. Nukes would also be used if the attacking state used nukes first. This is to stop states from attacking one customer, stopping, and then attacking another customer.

As mentioned before, using nukes is going to kill a lot of innocent people besides the "aggressor", and very likely anyone who attacked one of Cheyenne's clients would itself have a nuclear protector who could intimidate Cheyenne into backing off.

Were US client states, supposedly under our protection, ever attacked during the Cold War? Yes, they were, many times. So the idea that Cheyenne's nuclear threats are a silver bullet that will stop any aggression is wildly implausible. In the real world, two nuclear states have themselves been attacked but did not use or even threaten to use nukes. Did Britain tell Argentina, give back the Falklands or we'll nuke you? No. Did Britain tell Nasser, give back the Suez Canal, or we'll nuke you? No. Did Israel, in 1973, tell Egypt and Syria, quit attacking us or we'll nuke you? No. Could Britain even use nukes to protect its client states against aggression or foreign-supported terrorist subversion in, for example, Borneo, Oman, Aden, or Cyprus? No. Obviously nukes are a lot less useful than you think they are. That being the case, the willingness of people to pay for their "protection" is seriously questionable.

Nuclear weapons would be launched by contractors or military personnel with the permission of the directors.

Any foreign enemy is easily going to be able to kill these people and disrupt their communications with their nuclear forces.

Contractors loyal to who? You better believe any contractors who have anything to do with US strategic forces are thoroughly investigated to ensure that they have good character and are loyal to the USA. How do you know this contractor, who you have trusted to launch the nuke, isn't loyal to the state you are attacking, and will refuse to fire, or worse, will fire it at you? Fractionating the US into 500 states makes the loyalty issue 500 times worse than it is now.

The nuclear city-states can share communication infrastructure and intelligence, since sharing increases profits for all the states that sharing (including the non-nuclear ones, which get free protection).

Again with the ignorant contention that profit is all. Such a shared infrastructure is, by definition, neither secure nor reliable. Without total control of the C3I infrastructure, a state wishing to use its nuclear forces cannot guarantee that it receives the accurate and timely intelligence, and that it has the accurate, timely, and secure communications, needed to do so. Needless to say, this is intolerable.

The city-states can hire contractors to maintain the communication infrastructure.

Same loyalty problem mentioned above.

Two nuclear city-states can make their nuclear forces more survivable by keeping part of each of their arsenals on the other state's territory and requiring that both city-states give permission before a nuclear weapon is launched if the nuclear weapon is not on its owner's territory (so that state A won't get nuked just because state B launches a nuke from its territory--they will both have to say that state B launched it before state A allows it to be launched). Obviously, state A would agree to pay state B a lot of money if state B gets nuked (and vice versa), and each state would launch the nukes from its own territory first.

That does not necessarily make them more survivable, it just means more people are going to get killed. It also introduces command / control complications, because both states have to agree to fire their weapons, and if an attack is inbound, you have just doubled the chance that one state won't launch in time before the forces are killed.

The idea that state B would permit basing of nukes on its territory for profit, and that it would be fine with being nuked so long as state A paid them afterwards, is just laughable. No country that accepted foreign nukes on its soil during the Cold War did so for money! They always did so because they thought their national survival was at risk, and they shared a common ideological bond with the provider country. The US was never stupid enough to insult Britain, Italy, Turkey, Germany, or South Korea with the promise "hey, don't worry if you get nuked, we'll show up with suitcases of money afterwards and make it all better." I mention this only to underline the preposterousness of your thought processes.

The protector state will lose all of its profits if it doesn't launch nukes because all of its customers will stop buying protection. If it launches nukes, it will get destroyed, but it will still have all of its customers (it might even get more because everyone will know that the protector state will actually protect them) and the nukes that it stored in other city-states. The protector state would buy some uranium/plutonium from the other states and continue making money. Therefore, a rational state will launch nukes. A sovcorp cares about its profits, not its territory.

It will not have the nukes it stored elsewhere. Those will be attacked, too. The people in the protector state, and everyone in the states where it stored nukes, will be dead, dying, or desperately struggling for survival, at which point "profit" becomes moot. If it somehow tries to buy uranium, this will not matter, because its weapons production facilities will have been nuked, and all its scientists and engineers will be dead.

A sovcorp and the people who comprise it (shareholders and directors) have an identical interest in not being dead. If you are dead, "profit" becomes meaningless. To whom do the "profits" accrue? As a "shareholder" in Cheyenne, it will be cold, cold comfort indeed to learn that even though I am dead, the CEO and the Board are still making fine profits. Yaaay, CheyenneCorp! Would I wish to be employed by a corporation that was willing to risk me being vaporized in order to make money? F**k, no way. That's crazy. Nobody rational is going to have anything to do with that.

See the previous response. A sovcorp will make more money if it launches nukes to protect its customers. Its customers probably won't get nuked if the sovcorp isn't launching weapons from their territory. If they do get nuked, the sovcorp can pay the customer all the money they used to make (since the protector state makes so much more money). Cheyenne is different from the U.S. because it is rational for Cheyenne to actually use its nukes if one of its customers get attacked.

What is the point of "making money" if all the people who would ostensibly benefit are dead? If the Cheyenne shareholders are dead, so what if they "made money"? As a "customer", I don't give a damn how much money they offer to pay me if I am dead, dying of radiation poisoning, or living in a radioactive wasteland and waiting to die of cancer. NO amount of money can make that "all better". That's just crazy talk. It is far less rational to talk about risking being nuked for money than for other reasons, since the rational man knows that dead men can't enjoy a fat bank account.

Dear God, what inna name of all that's holy are those "other benefits"???? Why, oh why, do you want to do this? Why is devolution necessary, as opposed to mere "neo-cameralizing" of an undivided USA?
More states = more competition.


You have not demonstrated that the "benefits" of this "competition" outweigh the obvious costs. Moreover, it is clear that the city states are not just competing with each other, but with other non-neo-cameral countries outside the former USA, and the city-states are at a clear competitive disadvantage with the non-neo-cameral countries.

Here's another article about Mt Yamantau that says:
It has been built to resist a half dozen direct nuclear hits, one after the other in a direct hole.
http://www.mondovista.com/yamantau.html

The Soviets (and post-Soviet Russians) apparently thought that digging 3000 feet into a mountain would protect them, or they wouldn't have bothered. I suppose they did more research on this subject than my 30 minutes or your (apparently) 0 minutes of googling.


I know more about Yamantau than you do, and it does not prove what you think it does. Killing Yamantau would not, by itself, win a war with the USSR, and therefore the US did not devote a lot of attention to it. Killing such a facility would, however, win a war with the robber baron mole people, and therefore their opponents would devote the necessary resources to making sure they could do so. If that took a dozen nukes - or two dozen - so be it, those nukes would be made available and Yamantau would die. It is a lot easier to build ICBMs than it is to build underground cities.

Also, digging in some cruddy Northern Virginia soil is not the same as digging in a desert or mountain. I have read that it's much faster for modern equipment to dig through rock than wet or soft soil. If building little tunnels always cost billions, there wouldn't be mines that go miles underground, unless they're mining pure platinum (plenty of deep mines around that could be bought, so the job of digging is already partially done).

Well gee, nobody plans to live permanently and self-sufficiently in a mine, do they? Ya think it would be more expensive to build something that people would actually want to live their entire lives in than to dig a narrow tunnel with no life-support systems just to get at the opals or diamonds or whatever?

I think you would be nuts not to just pay off these people, if the amount of money they asked for wasn't nuts (which it probably wouldn't be, for the same reason that Laplanders don't drink enough blood to kill the reindeer). Libertarians don't want to pay taxes either, but most of them just grumble and do it.

Past experience with such predatory aggression shows you'd have to be crazy to pay them, because once you pay them, they keep coming back again and again, asking for more each time. Once you pay the Dane-geld, you never get rid of the Dane. The full Kipling poem is relevant:

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Unless you care to provide some evidence (assertions based on your intuition don't count) that this wouldn't work, or some argument that doesn't depend on the alleged fact that it's easy to build a nuke that destroys bunkers at arbitrary depths, there's really no point in continuing this.

Uh, dude, you are the one operating on arbitrary and crazy assumptions, not me. The effects of nuclear weapons depend on the laws of physics, and are well understood. You tell me how deep the hole is, and I'll tell you how big the bomb needs to be and how many I have to use to do the job.

Yes, but this can be avoided if the city-state pays another state a lot of money to hold some of its nukes (obviously that state might get nuked, so a lot of money would be paid).

Again with the idea that money solves every problem. Obviously the recipient here is pretty stupid (and irrational) if they think there is some amount of money that makes being dead, poisoned, and genetically damaged worthwhile.

August 5, 2008 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger peco said...

This is just a pathetic attempt to avoid the issue. Just as Cheyenne would have literally everything to lose, so would any other city-states that joined the Cheyenne cabal. They would no more want to be nuked than Cheyenne would, and would have everything to lose from being nuked, just as Cheyenne would.

The idea that somehow Cheyenne would "hide" its nukes on someone else's soil is ridiculous. It's a little hard to move ICBM silos and secretly put them somewhere else. Maybe they somehow have a bomber or some warheads elsewhere, but a bomber base is not exactly inconspicuous either. How does Cheyenne ensure command, control and communications? How does Cheyenne ensure that the weapons will be used if Cheyenne is vaporized? How does Cheyenne stop this other states from confiscating the weapons or refusing to allow them to be used? (Cue the ritual chant, "well, they would pay them a lot of money...")


Would two city-states make more money by sharing their nukes or by not sharing their nukes? Each city-state would make enough money to pay the other one for any damage caused by nukes, and their nukes will work much better if they are spread out, so they share nukes and agree to pay each other if they get nuked. Cheyenne could also buy (completely) a few city-states that are far away.

What is the point of "making money" if all the people who would ostensibly benefit are dead? If the Cheyenne shareholders are dead, so what if they "made money"? As a "customer", I don't give a damn how much money they offer to pay me if I am dead, dying of radiation poisoning, or living in a radioactive wasteland and waiting to die of cancer. NO amount of money can make that "all better". That's just crazy talk. It is far less rational to talk about risking being nuked for money than for other reasons, since the rational man knows that dead men can't enjoy a fat bank account.

MM said that the shareholders would be living in other countries, so...

Again with the idea that money solves every problem. Obviously the recipient here is pretty stupid (and irrational) if they think there is some amount of money that makes being dead, poisoned, and genetically damaged worthwhile.

THE RECIPIENTS ARE THE SHAREHOLDERS OF THE STATE, WHO WON'T GET NUKED (they live in other countries, and sorry for shouting). They don't have to care about what happens to the people living in their city-state if they have a reason not to. There is obviously an amount of money that you can pay a corporation to make sure that the amount of money it makes stays the same.

Well gee, nobody plans to live permanently and self-sufficiently in a mine, do they? Ya think it would be more expensive to build something that people would actually want to live their entire lives in than to dig a narrow tunnel with no life-support systems just to get at the opals or diamonds or whatever?

Nobody actually has to live in the mine. People can work there for part of they day and leave, but you can still put supplies in there to last a long time if the city-state gets nuked (the people won't leave then, obviously). You could hire people from other nuclear city-states to control the nukes while staying in their original city-state, so that a country would have to nuke many mine shafts to stop you from launching nukes. You could buy worthless land and dig deep holes and store your nukes there so you would have a lot of space.

You could let a very large group of people launch nukes at a predetermined set of targets if a country is launching nuclear weapons at you (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Hand_(nuclear_war)).

Basically, if Cheyenne buys worthless land, digs lots of holes, and spreads its employees out, it will be very hard to destroy its nukes.

You have not demonstrated that the "benefits" of this "competition" outweigh the obvious costs. Moreover, it is clear that the city states are not just competing with each other, but with other non-neo-cameral countries outside the former USA, and the city-states are at a clear competitive disadvantage with the non-neo-cameral countries.


Are the other countries competing to sell protection? It would be very good for the people in the former U.S. if another country decided to protect them. If by "competition" you mean that they are trying to take land, they can't do that peacefully because only individuals can be shareholders (of the city-states, anyway). If they try to do it non-peacefully, they will be attacked by the nuclear city-states if they don't have nuclear weapons, and they won't risk getting nuked by them if they do (it's not rational for them to attack (do you agree?) because they won't get anything, but large states do obviously irrational things sometimes then some city-states will launch nuclear weapons even if it is irrational to do so).

I know more about Yamantau than you do, and it does not prove what you think it does. Killing Yamantau would not, by itself, win a war with the USSR, and therefore the US did not devote a lot of attention to it. Killing such a facility would, however, win a war with the robber baron mole people, and therefore their opponents would devote the necessary resources to making sure they could do so. If that took a dozen nukes - or two dozen - so be it, those nukes would be made available and Yamantau would die. It is a lot easier to build ICBMs than it is to build underground cities.

By the way, China only has about 200 nuclear weapons, so if Cheyenne built more than 34 or so very deep bunkers, China would use up all of its nukes attacking the bunkers and there would still be some left. I don't think Cheyenne could build that many, but all the nuclear city-states combined might be able to build enough to stop most the world's (non-Russian) nuclear weapons.


It will not have the nukes it stored elsewhere. Those will be attacked, too. The people in the protector state, and everyone in the states where it stored nukes, will be dead, dying, or desperately struggling for survival, at which point "profit" becomes moot. If it somehow tries to buy uranium, this will not matter, because its weapons production facilities will have been nuked, and all its scientists and engineers will be dead.


It's too risky for a country to attack them if they spread out their nukes (maybe they can buy some land in Montana). Since the shareholders don't live in the city-state that the corporation owns, the shareholders won't be killed if the city-state is nuked.

The idea that state B would permit basing of nukes on its territory for profit, and that it would be fine with being nuked so long as state A paid them afterwards, is just laughable. No country that accepted foreign nukes on its soil during the Cold War did so for money! They always did so because they thought their national survival was at risk, and they shared a common ideological bond with the provider country. The US was never stupid enough to insult Britain, Italy, Turkey, Germany, or South Korea with the promise "hey, don't worry if you get nuked, we'll show up with suitcases of money afterwards and make it all better." I mention this only to underline the preposterousness of your thought processes.

All of those countries are much bigger than Peoria, and they are democracies. Since the government is controlled by the people living there, they really don't want to get nuked. It would be impractical for the U.S. to pay them that much, but Cheyenne can easily pay Peoria because it has more money.

Bzzzzzt, wrong. I knew that was going to be your answer, too.

Why wouldn't that work? If it wouldn't, do this: if people who have more access to the weapons are killed, people with less access will be authorized to use nukes (make it so that you can launch a nuke from far away without anyone nearby). This could go on until everyone in all neutral countries could launch a nuke over the Internet (so unless you kill everyone everywhere, someone will always be able to launch nukes).

Any foreign enemy is easily going to be able to kill these people and disrupt their communications with their nuclear forces.

Contractors loyal to who? You better believe any contractors who have anything to do with US strategic forces are thoroughly investigated to ensure that they have good character and are loyal to the USA. How do you know this contractor, who you have trusted to launch the nuke, isn't loyal to the state you are attacking, and will refuse to fire, or worse, will fire it at you? Fractionating the US into 500 states makes the loyalty issue 500 times worse than it is now.


Some of the directors might live in Indonesia and others in Poland. I don't think Indonesia or Poland will like it if you kill one of their citizens. (Also read the previous response; if all of the directors are killed, other people will be able to launch nukes.)

Obviously you need to check the contractors for loyalty, but you can stop them from launching nukes at places you don't want to nuke by only allowing directors (and the CEO, and then a few other loyal people) to actually launch nukes (unless they all die or are captured--then you let several contractors launch nukes so at least one does, and you kill anyone who launches nukes at you). Since you only allow a few people to launch nukes, you can probably figure out who did it--if you can't, kill more than one person.

Again with the ignorant contention that profit is all. Such a shared infrastructure is, by definition, neither secure nor reliable. Without total control of the C3I infrastructure, a state wishing to use its nuclear forces cannot guarantee that it receives the accurate and timely intelligence, and that it has the accurate, timely, and secure communications, needed to do so. Needless to say, this is intolerable.

Have multiple sources of information and only give a small part of the infrastructure to each contractor.

Your answer to every social and political and military problem is "pay a lot of money". What are you, 16? Have you ever had a real job, or served in the military? Some things in this world cannot be achieved just by throwing money at them.

In fact, there are not enough trained personnel to maintain a significant number of independent nuclear states. The US has trouble maintaining just one nuclear complex, and the scientific and engineering workforce is increasingly older and with low morale. If the US disintegrated, a lot of these people would simply go and do something else.


If you paid each and every employee five times the amount of money they were paid before, I think a lot of them would continue to work for you. If there are barely enough employees, some nuclear city-states can merge to use their employees more efficiently. Even if there were only enough to support one protector, you could just have one protector and 499 customers.

I'm 14.

Because it does not believe the threat of being nuked is credible, and it's not (except in your fevered imagination).


I already explained why it is--if the protector doesn't do anything, it will lose all its customers, and if it does, it won't. Most of its revenue comes from its customers, not from taxing people on its territory, and the shareholders won't be affected if Cheyenne gets nuked because they don't live there.

That does not necessarily make them more survivable, it just means more people are going to get killed. It also introduces command / control complications, because both states have to agree to fire their weapons, and if an attack is inbound, you have just doubled the chance that one state won't launch in time before the forces are killed.

If the probability of destroying any one group of nuclear missiles is 99% and getting nuked is 50 times worse than not taking whatever city-state you are invading, you would only need 3 groups of nukes to make it not worthwhile to attack you. You could get by with less if you knew beforehand that they might launch something (if China might launch a nuke at you, set the silos to automatically attack China in 5 minutes, and then cancel the order if China doesn't attack--that way, if all the directors get killed, the nuke will be launched).

Wow, that sure solves Peoria's problem. The lesson everyone learns is, Cheyenne can't protect you, it can only kill you.

It solves the problem that Peoria's shareholders are having, since they will still get the same amount of money.

Oh please, that's just fatuous. No amount of money can restore the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dead people plus those suffering from radiation sickness, cancer, and those maimed in the blast. Peoria, and a great deal of territory downwind, would be essentially unusable for decades.

You've really outdone yourself in the realm of childish fantasy here. Congratulations.


The shareholders make all the decisions, and they DON'T LIVE IN PEORIA. If they don't live there, many of your arguments don't work.


Past experience with such predatory aggression shows you'd have to be crazy to pay them, because once you pay them, they keep coming back again and again, asking for more each time. Once you pay the Dane-geld, you never get rid of the Dane. The full Kipling poem is relevant:

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"


I agree.

This is just a pathetic attempt to avoid the issue. Just as Cheyenne would have literally everything to lose, so would any other city-states that joined the Cheyenne cabal. They would no more want to be nuked than Cheyenne would, and would have everything to lose from being nuked, just as Cheyenne would.

The idea that somehow Cheyenne would "hide" its nukes on someone else's soil is ridiculous. It's a little hard to move ICBM silos and secretly put them somewhere else. Maybe they somehow have a bomber or some warheads elsewhere, but a bomber base is not exactly inconspicuous either. How does Cheyenne ensure command, control and communications? How does Cheyenne ensure that the weapons will be used if Cheyenne is vaporized? How does Cheyenne stop this other states from confiscating the weapons or refusing to allow them to be used? (Cue the ritual chant, "well, they would pay them a lot of money...")


This is why Cheyenne only stores its nukes in other nuclear city-states (because nuclear city-states make most of their money from the people in other city-states, not from the people in their own city-state).

The whole point is that Cheyenne cannot get enough money to operate an effective arsenal. That arsenal is going to be in a financial death-spiral from day one. It won't have enough money to keep going, so it will be progressively less effective, and as it becomes less effective people are less interested in paying for it, driving the effectiveness down even more.


In that case, it will merge with other city-states to increase efficiency. The city-states will continue merging until there is one left, if that is necessary.

What is a corporation? A bunch of people. If they are all killed, the corporation is gone. If the people in Cheyenne are not members of the corporation, then the people elsewhere, who are the corporation, are the ones who are going to get nuked.

THE SHAREHOLDERS DO NOT LIVE IN CHEYENNE. THEY WILL NOT GET NUKED.

They don't have to cooperate actively. The same incentive - to pay as little as possible - operates the same way on all of them.

The same incentive operates on the people who buy food from a supermarket, but supermarkets still exist. If one state pays less, it will lose protection, and it will not hurt Cheyenne much. If all of the states pay less, however, Cheyenne will be forced to charge less. A five-person strike doesn't work because the company can just fire them without losing much.

SHAREHOLDERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM LIVING IN THE CITY-STATE THAT THEIR CORPORATION OWNS.

SHAREHOLDERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM LIVING IN THE CITY-STATE THAT THEIR CORPORATION OWNS.

SHAREHOLDERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM LIVING IN THE CITY-STATE THAT THEIR CORPORATION OWNS.

SHAREHOLDERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM LIVING IN THE CITY-STATE THAT THEIR CORPORATION OWNS.

SHAREHOLDERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM LIVING IN THE CITY-STATE THAT THEIR CORPORATION OWNS.

SHAREHOLDERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM LIVING IN THE CITY-STATE THAT THEIR CORPORATION OWNS.

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January 31, 2009 at 9:57 PM  
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February 12, 2009 at 1:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 2, 2009 at 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 6, 2009 at 6:42 AM  

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