Thursday, November 13, 2008 226 Comments

Patchwork: a positive vision (part 1)

I'm afraid UR has been a bit, well, grim, of late.

One can flirt only so long with Confederate racist fascism, before eliciting a few jitters. Is our reader really going to be dragged into this horrible, subterranean universe? Is she even comfortable having it on her computer at work? And then we took this awful, bumpy ride into the eel-infested deeps of Obama Derangement Syndrome, which can't have helped matters.

So this week, I thought it would be nice to be positive. Therefore, let me present Patchwork: the Mencist vision of a political system for the 21st century. At the risk of being accused of a sales job, I will paint Patchwork in warm, glowing, Obamatronic pastels. Rather than our usual chilly, Machiavellian cynicism. Yes, I know, this is unfair. But here at UR, we're always closing.

To start the hype machine, let's just say that if anyone can build anything like Patchwork, even a tiny, crude, Third World ripoff of Patchwork, it is all over for the democratic regimes. It'll be like East Germany competing with West Germany. (Funnily enough, the financial relationship between the US and the Gulf/East Asia, the most Patchwork-like part of the world at present, is oddly reminiscent of that between the OECD and the Warsaw Pact: the latter borrow from the former to buy cheap consumer goods, supplied by the former, for the latter's serfs.)

Children growing up in the Patchwork era will learn a new name and a new history of the democratic past. They will date the period to the Dutch invasion of England (1688), which ended the span of legitimate continuity in English government that began with William the Conqueror, replacing it with eternal, degenerate Whiggery and the quisling, "constitutional" or ceremonial Hanover princes. And they will surely call it something cool, like the Anglo-American Interregnum. Insulting it with the name of "democracy" will be coarse and over-the-top.

Said Interregnum, which we are of course still in, has been a period of global monotonic decline in official authority. As in the late Roman period, declining official authority, declining personal morality, and increasing public bureaucracy are observed in synchrony. This is not in any way a coincidence. The combination is an infallible symptom of the great terminal disease of the polity - leftism. Leftism is cancer. At least in its present adult, sclerotic and non-fulminating form, it is extremely slow in its progress, but the end is not in doubt.

On theoretical grounds alone - the feat has never really been achieved, at least never for good - the only cure for leftism is complete and permanent excision. Success implies complete absence of the organism from the body politic. This does not mean there are no leftists in the country; in a well-governed country which is at peace, people can think or say whatever they damned well please. It just means that, if there are for some reason leftists, their views are completely without influence on government policy. So people laugh at them, and call them names.

(Isn't this a lovely vision? A Lennonesque feat of delirious, constructive imagination? A world without leftism? Imagine! It's hard to imagine only if you have trouble imagining a Nazi John Lennon - a feat which taxes my imagination not at all. But maybe I've been reading too much Hitler. It really is a tough call to say who was more coherent, Lennon or Hitler.)

Acceptance of this goal, which I will not attempt to justify today, but which I think Patchwork can achieve, is the difference between a conservative, ie a fellow who thinks he can beat melanoma with an emery board, and a full-bore reactionary such as myself. If you happen to be wrong, you have leaped the rail of sanity. So it is incumbent on us to argue carefully.

But I'm sorry. I am being intentionally abrasive again. As an extremist, I prefer this harsh, confrontational rhetoric to any kind of honeyed cozening. The basic goal of UR, I don't mind admitting, is to convince people who are now progressives to abandon their delusions. Since progressives equate those who accept the reactionary narrative of recent history with acolytes of the Great Goat-Lord Abaddon, one must tread carefully. And if you must come as an Abaddonite, the only way to set your quarry at ease is to constantly confess your vileness. That way the progressive might even just clasp you to his heart - along with all the satanic murderers he is so keen to embrace.

(Consider, for instance, the case of Jose Luis Dorantes. Masters! Mighty masters! Lord Barack, Lady Michelle, and their new puppy too! Father who art in heaven, your Lordships! How have we offended you? When did we sin? What penance must we say? Which word of yours did we cross - to have a Jose Luis Dorantes inflicted on us? And how in grievous error may we repent? Another diversity-training session, perhaps, or three?)

Anyway. Obviously I am just trying to get you wound up, dear reader. I'm sorry. I know. It is crass. So let's have a look at Patchwork.

The basic idea of Patchwork is that, as the crappy governments we inherited from history are smashed, they should be replaced by a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries, each governed by its own joint-stock corporation without regard to the residents' opinions. If residents don't like their government, they can and should move. The design is all "exit," no "voice."

(I'm not aware of any specific writer that has proposed exactly this, but it is certainly not an original or interesting idea in and of itself. I've certainly read about six zillion science-fiction books in which this is the general state of the future. The devil, however, is in the details. We will go into the details.)

The essential inspiration for Patchwork is the observation that the periods in which human civilization has flowered are the periods in which it has been most politically divided. Ancient Greece, medieval Italy, Europe until 1914, China in the Spring and Autumn Period, and so on. Burckhardt once observed that Europe was safe so long as she was not unified, and now that she is we can see exactly what he meant.

Small is good. Local is good. Different is good. We know these things. These are not controversial assertions - even in the hippest streets of Williamsburg. Heck, President Obama is probably a Slow Food man himself. (Once my daughter, aged four months, was in a bakery in the Castro and met Alice Waters. Alice Waters smiled and told Sibyl she was very cute. Which Sibyl is - she might as well be on the Gerber bottle. And Alice Waters might as well be a duchess. Heck, Alice Waters probably laughs at duchesses.)

So how, exactly, did all these Obamaniacs, these whiterpeople, these Burning Man regulars, these young, hip progressives, convince themselves that when it comes to government, bigger is better? That in fact we need a world government, toot sweet? That international public opinion is all that really matters in the world, that America should lead the world, feed the world, and be governed by the world?

But somehow they did. The issues that matter to them - the composition-of-the-atmosphere question, and the like - always tend to be transnational. As big as possible. As Peter Gabriel put it, they think big thoughts. (We reactionaries, when we act locally, would rather think locally as well. Always best to think about what you're actually doing.)

This paradox is just one more stimulus for a complete replacement of the State. We have had enough. We are done with the present system of government. We want a reboot. And, anarchy being both impossible and un-reactionary, we can't even talk about a reboot until we've specified what operating system to boot next.

So we can think of Patchwork as a new operating system for the world. Of course, it does not have to be installed across the entire world, although it is certainly designed to scale. But, it is easier and much more prudent to start small. Innovations in sovereignty are dangerous.

A patchwork - please feel free to drop the capital - is any network consisting of a large number of small but independent states. To be precise, each state's real estate is its patch; the sovereign corporate owner, ie government, of the patch is its realm. At least initially, each realm holds one and only one patch. In practice this may change with time, but the realm-patch structure is at least designed to be stable.

Of course, Italy in the fourteenth century was anything but stable. Anything like a patchwork needs a strong security design to ensure that it does not repeat the constitutional solecisms of feudalism, and nor will it be subject to the same pervasive violence or meet the same demise. In a worst-case scenario, we could end up right back at liberal democracy! But don't worry - we will discuss this issue in considerable detail.

To be a reactionary is not to say we must reinstall the exact political structure of the fourteenth century tomorrow, although that would surely be an improvement on what we have now. To be a reactionary is to borrow freely across time as well as space, incorporating political designs and experience from wherever and whenever. As Nick Szabo has observed, the most interesting, detailed and elegant European forms are found in the period we call feudal, and thus it is only natural that a reactionary design for future government will have a somewhat feudal feel.

But Patchwork is something new. It will not feel like the past. It will feel like the future. The past - that is, the democratic past - will feel increasingly gray, weird, and scary. (This is how it would feel to you already, if you didn't have a bag of demotic morphine dripping into each carotid. Don't worry - we will try to get you out of the Matrix before we turn off the anesthetic.)

In the future, the fact that once, you would probably be attacked if you went into Central Park at night, will seem preposterous. The idea that millions of random people who were not even authorized to be in the country were wandering around, driving gigantic SUVs at triple-digit speeds after ten or fifteen drinks, and murdering random musicians on motorcycles, will seem as weird as the idea that a pride of wild lions would march into Carnegie Hall in mid-symphony, close off all exits, and systematically slaughter the audience. Graffiti will be a matter for the museums, as will gangs, of course. The streets will have no cars or very few, they will be safe, at night they will be bright and full of lively, happy people. Wine will be cheap, restaurants will be unregulated, and fine Eskimo marijuana will be sold at Dean & DeLuca. Etc, etc, etc.

These kinds of descriptions apply to the kind of city I would like to live in. They may or may not seem intriguing or attractive to anyone else. You may prefer to live in a gritty, urban city which is corrupt, dirty, dangerous, and generally difficult to live in. If there are enough people like you, there will be a market for this lifestyle. If not - not. I suspect, however, that you are outnumbered. And I imagine the new management of Manhattan would take the distance from Dinkins to Giuliani and multiply it by ten or twenty. There would surely be no such thing as a "bad neighborhood," at least in the sense of an unsafe one. Oh, no. Absolutely impossible.

Why hasn't this happened already? Why isn't Manhattan in 2008 half Disneyland, half Paris, half imperial Sodom? Don't you think one or two people share these tastes? But the problem is that Manhattan is not governed in the interests of Manhattan. Capital, in short, is being squandered. In the Patchwork this is most unlikely to happen.

The historical and political reasons why democratic governments are such a mess are complex. I won't go into them today. But perhaps, for a little intuitive perspective, let's introduce ourselves to Herbert Croly's Promise of American Life.

Croly was one of the founders of 20th-century progressivism, and of the New Republic in specific - a magazine never out of favor in the corridors of Washington. Observe the extent to which Croly's optimistic, energetic vision of positive change has decayed into the superficially happy, but contentless and enervating, hippie-Starbucks-Unitarian mien of his 21st-century successors at the same office. I have linked directly to Croly's conclusion, which is all you really need to read anyway. Here is a typical breathless passage:
Do we lack culture? We will "make it hum" by founding a new university in Chicago. Is American art neglected and impoverished ? We will enrich it by organizing art departments in our colleges, and popularize it by lectures with lantern slides and associations for the study of its history. Is New York City ugly? Perhaps, but if we could only get the authorities to appropriate a few hundred millions for its beautification, we could make it look like a combination of Athens, Florence, and Paris. Is it desirable for the American citizen to be something of a hero? I will encourage heroes by establishing a fund whereby they shall be rewarded in cash. War is hell, is it? I will work for the abolition of hell by calling a convention and passing a resolution denouncing its iniquities. I will build at the Hague a Palace of Peace which shall be a standing rebuke to the War Lords of Europe. Here, in America, some of us have more money than we need and more good will. We will spend the money in order to establish the reign of the good, the beautiful, and the true.
"Athens, Florence and Paris!" Imagine a progressive today saying he wanted to turn anything, let alone New York of all God's Augean stables, into "Athens, Florence and Paris." Imagine telling Herbert Croly that in 2008, progressivism had triumphed beyond his wildest dreams, that the stick-in-the-mud isolationists of the Midwest were forever defeated and heard of no more, that Tammany was a schoolbook memory, that all agencies of government now operate under the close supervision of the universities and the press.

And then imagine trying to explain that despite all this, NYC looks more like a combination of Paris, East Berlin and Port au Prince. And is in many places extremely dangerous at night. What on earth would the good man tell you? What would he even begin to say? I don't know, but I'd sure as heck like to find out. "The good, the beautiful and the true."

The patch in Patchwork that is Manhattan, however, would be the good, the beautiful and the true. The Athens, the Florence and the Paris. Because Athens, Florence and Paris sell. Even imperial Sodom sells. East Berlin doesn't sell, and Port au Prince really doesn't sell.

The foreign, forgotten lesson we are extracting from Croly is not that progressivism is the cure-all for all ills, but that progressivism, the eternal poisonous chameleon, in its 1911 incarnation espoused the civic values of 1911. All the better to convince its innocent hosts that it was anything but a lethal parasite. But we are very good at reading progressive discourse, and when we read Croly we see the values of 1911, not the malignant expansion of the State that Croly was trying to justify in the names of those values. (BTW, when anyone tries to use the phrase "reality-based community" on you, I recommend pointing him at this.)

Our lesson is just that the civic values of 1911 are the naive, obvious values of good government. (At the very least, they are far less warped than their post-1945 replacements.) Thus they are at least a fair proxy for the values of competitive government. "Athens, Florence, and Paris" sounds pretty good to me, although there has to be some kind of room for industrial death metal and heavy-duty psychedelics. But this does not mean you need to worry about being raped and killed by some barbarian thug on your way home from the club.

Anyway. Enough anecdotes and generalities. Let's take a harder engineering look at the anatomy of Patchwork. The basic engineering problem is: while one can fantasize ad libitum about the way in which this system should be governed, how will it actually be governed?

This entire problem can be described as one of security. We postulate some structure of authority for the Patchwork. It sounds good. If the above propaganda is not appealing to you, all I can say is that we have very different tastes and perspectives. But is the result stable? If we set it up in some state, will it remain in that state? Stability and security are the same thing: if the structure of authority changes in any authorized way, it is not really changing at all.

The designers of the Constitution of 1789 were political engineers, too. They were neither stupid, nor ignorant, nor inexperienced. But the government they designed diverged immediately and irreversibly from the envelope in which they intended it to operate. Surely the risk of divergence is even greater for a multipolar framework - not an architecture with a good historical record of stability.

Anything like a patchwork can merge into a single centralized state. It can degenerate into an asymmetric form in which one state dominates the others. It can split into two factions which fight a civil war for the world. Individual states can turn evil and try to turn others evil. Etc. History tells us that all kinds of awful stuff can happen, and probably will.

Because of these dangers, Patchwork's philosophy of security is simple and draconian. It is built around the following axioms, which strike me as too self-evident to debate.

First, security is a monotonic desideratum. There is no such thing as "too secure." An encryption algorithm cannot be too strong, a fence cannot be too high, a bullet cannot be too lethal.

Second, security and liberty do not conflict. Security always wins. As Robert Peel put it, the absence of crime and disorder is the test of public safety, and in anything like the modern state the risk of private infringement on private liberties far exceeds the official of public infringement. No cop ever stole my bicycle. And this will be far more true in the Patchwork, in which realms actually compete for business on the basis of customer service.

Third, security and complexity are opposites. A secure authority structure is as simple as possible, so that it is as difficult as possible to pervert it to unanticipated ends.

Bearing these principles in mind, let's separate our security overview into two parts: the internal management of realms, and the relationships between realms.

A Patchwork realm is a business - a corporation. Its capital is the patch it is sovereign over. The realm profits by making its real estate as valuable as possible - whether it is Manhattan or some ranch in Oklahoma. Even the oceans can and should be divided into patches; a naval realm is sovereign over, and profits by taxing, all economic activities within a patch of ocean.

But how should realms be administered? The answer is simple: a realm is a corporation. A sovereign corporation, granted, but nonetheless a corporation.

In the 21st century, the art of corporate design is not a mystery. The corporation is owned and controlled by its anonymous shareholders (if you've ever wondered what the letters SA stand for in the name of a French or Spanish company, they mean "anonymous society"), whose interests in maximizing corporate performance are perfectly aligned. The shareholders select a chief executive, to whom all employees report, and whose decisions are final. In no cases do they make management decisions directly.

It is at least probable that this joint-stock design maximizes corporate efficiency. If there existed a more effective structure - if firms were more productive when managed not by a committee but by an executive, or by the collective decisions of their customers or employees, by separate legislative and judiciary branches, etc, etc - we would know. Someone would have found a way to construct a firm on this design, and it would have outcompeted the rest of the stodgy old world. (In fact, I think one of the most plausible explanations of why the Industrial Revolution happened in England, not in Sung China or the Roman Empire, was that the latter two never evolved anything quite like the joint-stock company.)

Our great difficulty, though, is that history records nothing quite like a sovereign joint-stock company. Perhaps the closest examples were the chartered companies of the classical era. But even a colonial chartered company was chartered by a sovereign, though it operated outside that sovereign's realm.

Rather, I think the best way to think of a realm or sovereign corporation is as a modified version of monarchy. A royal family is to an ordinary family business as a Patchwork realm is to an ordinary, nonsovereign, public corporation. Joint-stock realms thus solve the primary historical problem of monarchical government: the vagaries of the biological process. In other words, they assure that the overall direction of the realm will always be both strong and responsible - at least, responsible in a financial sense.

A joint-stock realm simply cannot have anything comparable to a weak monarch of the classical era. Realms will certainly recruit their executives from the same talent pool large companies now draw from. How many Fortune 500 CEOs today are regularly bullied and led by coalitions of their nominal subordinates, as (for just one example) the French monarchy so often was? Zero is probably too easy an answer, but at least an approximation.

Note, however, that we are not considering anything like the watered-down "constitutional" (ie, again, ceremonial) monarchies of the democratic period. If the joint-stock realm is like a monarchy, it is like a true, "absolute" or (most pejoratively) "divine-right monarchy."

With all due respect, dear reader, the probability that you have a sound understanding of the case for divine-right monarchy is approximately the probability that a large white goat will fall out of my ass. This means you need to read the great English exponent of absolute government, Sir Robert Filmer, and his masterpiece Patriarcha.

Filmer was the baddest-ass reactionary who ever lived. Frankly, he makes Carlyle look like a liberal. Just the title of Patriarcha is cooler than Jesus Christ himself, and the contents don't even begin to disappoint: we launch almost immediately into hardcore Anglican theology. If Filmer isn't winter beach reading, I don't know who is.

I mean, seriously, how do you justify divine-right monarchy to an atheist? Is it anything like selling refrigerators to Eskimos? Since I am both an atheist and a believer in divine-right monarchy, I'd better be able to square this circle.

One of the major doctrinal thrusts of European Christianity, in all ages and phases of its career, and certainly even in the thinly-disguised, crypto-Christian Unitarianism that has become the religion of the world's ruling class (eg, if ever you meet a "moderate Muslim," he is really a Unitarian), is the quest to justify the political structure of the world.

What makes a king a king? Why should the king be the king? Why can't I be the king, or at least my cousin Ricky? Do we even need a king? And so on. People have strong emotional feelings about these questions to this day - at least, they have a strong emotional feeling about the last one. Not answering them is certainly not acceptable.

But Filmer, and the divine-right monarchist in general, comes as close as possible to not answering. Moreover, his reasoning is impeccable for the orthodox:
If it please God, for the correction of the prince or punishment of the people, to suffer princes to be removed and others to be placed in their rooms, either by the factions of the nobility or rebellion of the people, in all such cases the judgment of God, who hath power to give and to take away kingdoms, is most just; yet the ministry of men who execute God's judgments without commission is sinful and damnable. God doth but use and turn men's unrighteous acts to the performance of His righteous decrees.
Note that this is basically a 17th-century way of saying: "shit happens." God being omnipotent etc, if Dickweed over there is king, it is obviously because God wanted Dickweed to be king. And who are you to disagree with God?

But an atheist, such as myself, has a simpler way of getting to the same result. Really, what Filmer is saying, is: if you want stable government, accept the status quo as the verdict of history. There is no reason at all to inquire as to why the Bourbons are the Kings of France. The rule is arbitrary. Nonetheless, it is to the benefit of all that this arbitrary rule exists, because obedience to the rightful king is a Schelling point of nonviolent agreement. And better yet, there is no way for a political force to steer the outcome of succession - at least, nothing comparable to the role of the educational authorities in a democracy.

In other words, to put it in Patchwork terms, the relationship between realm and patch is no more, and no less, than a property right. A patch is a sovereign property, that is, one whose proprietor has no defender but itself. Nonetheless, in moral terms, we may ask: why does this realm hold that patch? And the answer, as it always is with in any system of strong property rights, will be not "because it deserves to," but "because it does." Note that whatever the theology, Filmer's model of government captures the property-right approach perfectly.

(Also, one must admire Filmer's wicked gall in starting out by describing the "right of rebellion" as a Catholic heresy. Catholicism being admitted, at least by all fair historians, to be the creed of your average divine-right monarchist, as Protestantism is of vile democracy. So Filmer's move here is wildly misleading, but pure fun - not unlike comparing liberals to Mussolini. Nothing to do with anything, but it sure gets a rise out of 'em, and moves SKUs like no one's business.)

The invention of this spurious right was perhaps the first tiny crack in the philosophical girders of the classical European monarchies. Filmer deftly points out that this is an engineering error, the ancient political solecism of imperium in imperio - which is now, in a typical democratic propaganda maneuver, lauded as that bogus political panacea, "separation of powers":
Thirdly, [Bellarmine] concludes that, if there be a lawful cause, the multitude may change the kingdom. Here I would fain know who shall judge of this lawful cause? If the multitude — for I see nobody else can — then this is a pestilent and dangerous conclusion.
Filmer, writing for an educated audience, does not bother to remind them of the basic premise of Roman law: nemo iudex in causa sua. Meaning: "no man can be a judge in his own case." And no multitude, either. Pestilent indeed!

These political three-card monte tricks, in which sovereign authority is in some way divided, "limited" (obviously, no sovereign can limit itself), or otherwise weakened, in all cases for the purported purpose of securing liberty, have no more place in a Patchwork realm than they do at, say, Apple. They are spurious artifacts of the Interregnum. Their effect on both a realm and its residents is purely counterproductive. Begone with them.

In reality, no sovereign can be subject to law. This is a political perpetual motion machine. Law is not law unless it is judged and enforced. And by whom? For example, if you think a supreme court with judicial review can make government subject to law, you are obviously unfamiliar with the sordid history of American constitutional jurisprudence. All your design has achieved is to make your supreme court sovereign. Indeed if the court had only one justice, a proper title for that justice would be "King." Sorry, kid, you haven't violated the conservation of anything.

Indeed, as Filmer points out, the unity of chief executive, chief lawmaker, and chief justice is simple, natural and elegant:
There can be no laws without a supreme power to command or make them. In all aristocracies the nobles are above the laws, and in all democracies the people. By the like reason, in a monarchy the king must of necessity be above the laws; there can be no sovereign majesty in him that is under them; that which giveth the very being to a king is the power to give laws; without this power he is but an equivocal king. It skills not which way kings come by their power, whether by election, donation, succession, or by any other means; for it is still the manner of the government by supreme power that makes them properly kings, and not the means of obtaining their crowns. Neither doth the diversity of laws nor contrary customs, whereby each kingdom differs from another, make the forms of commonweal different unless the power of making laws be in several subjects.

For the confirmation of this point, Aristotle saith that a perfect kingdom is that wherein the king rules all things according to his own will, for he that is called a king according to the law makes no kind of kingdom at all. This, it seems, also the Romans well understood to be most necessary in a monarchy; for though they were a people most greedy of liberty, yet the senate did free Augustus from all necessity of laws, that he might be free of his own authority and of absolute power over himself and over the laws, to do what he pleased and leave undone what he listed; and this decree was made while Augustus was yet absent. Accordingly we find that Ulpian, the great lawyer, delivers it for a rule of the civil law: Princeps legibus solutus est ("The prince is not bound by the laws").
[...]
Besides, all laws are of themselves dumb, and some or other must be trusted with the application of them to particulars, by examining all circumstances, to pronounce when they are broken, or by whom. This work of right application of laws is not a thing easy or obvious for ordinary capacities, but requires profound abilities of nature for the beating out of the truth — witness the diversity and sometimes the contrariety of opinions of the learned judges in some difficult points. Since this is the common condition of laws, it is also most reasonable that the lawmaker should be trusted with the application or interpretation of the laws, and for this cause anciently the kings of this land have sitten personally in courts of judicature, and are still representatively present in all courts; the judges are but substituted, and called the king's justices, and their power ceaseth when the king is in place.
So much, in other words, for Montesquieu. (And note how the democratic doctrine, now assumed by all, simply twists Ulpian's axiom into its polar opposite. Hey, hippie! Who knows more about law? You, or Ulpian? I'm reminded of Einstein's gem, found on so many a Prius: "One cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war." Or as the Romans put it: sic vis pacem, para bellum. And we wonder how the world got so screwed. Stick to physics, Al.)

A Patchwork realm, or any modern corporate sovereign, is no more bound by the laws it imposes on its residents than Linden Labs is bound by the terms-of-use policy it enforces in Second Life. (In fact, it is probably less so bound, because a terms-of-use policy creates at least the vague suggestion of liability. Whereas suing a sovereign is yet another of these political solecisms.)

This is not at all to say that a Patchwork realm does not enforce the rule of law. (Except, of course, under conditions of martial law that involve a general security threat. A state of siege is an option anywhere, any time, for any reason.) To enforce a law is not to be bound by a law. These are two completely different things. I don't feel I can repeat this too often.

Patchwork realms can be expected to enforce a fair and consistent code of laws not for moral or theological reasons, not because they are compelled to do so by a superior sovereign or some other force real or imaginary, but for the same economic reasons that compel them to provide excellent customer service in general. Real estate on which the rule of law prevails is much, much more valuable than real estate on which it doesn't, and the value of a realm is the value of its real estate.

(I suspect that in a well-run realm this is almost literally the case, because I suspect that a well-run realm makes its take via the world's fairest, least-intrusive tax: property tax. In fact, while I don't know that this has ever been tried, it is easy to design a perfectly fair and perfectly non-intrusive property tax regime. Require real estate owners to assess their own property, offering it for sale at the assessed price, and set the tax at a percentage of that price. No muss, no fuss, no IRS. Since no one can live or work without real estate, it should be straightforward to tune this self-assessed property tax (SAPT) to extract the Laffer maximum.)

To live on a Patchwork patch, you have to sign a bilateral contract with the realm. You promise to be a good boy and behave yourself. The realm promises to treat you fairly. There is an inherent asymmetry in this agreement, because you have no enforcement mechanism against the realm (just as you have no enforcement mechanism against the United States). However, a realm's compliance with its customer-service agreements is sure to be a matter of rather intense attention among residents and prospective residents. And thus among shareholders as well.

For example, I suspect that every customer-service agreement will include the right to remove oneself and one's assets from the realm, at any time, no questions asked, to any other realm that will accept the emigrant. Possibly with an exception for those involved in the criminal-justice process - but this may not even be needed. Who wants a criminal? Not another realm, surely.

Suppose a realm unilaterally abrogates this right of emigration? It has just converted its residents into what are, in a sense, slaves. It is no longer Disneyland. It is a plantation. If it's any good with cinderblocks, barbed-wire and minefields, there is no escape. What do you say if you're stuck on this farm? You say: "yes, Massa." A slave you are and a slave you will be forever.

This is terrible, of course. But again, the mechanism we rely on to prevent it is no implausible deus ex machina, no Indian rope-trick from the age of Voltaire, but the sound engineering principle of the profit motive. A realm that pulls this kind of crap cannot be trusted by anyone ever again. It is not even safe to visit. Tourism disappears. The potential real-estate bid from immigrants disappears. And, while your residents are indeed stuck, they are also remarkably sullen and display no great interest in slaving for you. Which is a more valuable patch of real estate, today: South Korea, or North Korea? Yet before the war, the North was more industrialized and the South was more rural. Such are the profits of converting an entire country into a giant Gulag.

One of the most common errors in understanding the premodern era is the confusion of monarchy with tyranny. Nothing like Stalinism, for example, is recorded in the history of the European aristocratic era. Why? Because Stalin had to murder to stay in power. Anyone, certainly any of the Old Bolsheviks, could have taken his place. The killing machine took on a life of its own. The tyrant, the mafia boss, stands at the apex of a pyramid of power, each block in which is a person who hopes to someday kill the boss and take his job. In a tyranny, murder and madness become part of the fabric of the State. In a monarchy, however, the succession is clear, and if by some accident of law and fate there are multiple candidates, they are at least each others' relatives. This rules out neither murder nor madness, but they are the exception and not the rule.

Obviously, a joint-stock realm faces completely different problems in maintaining internal security. Internal security can be defined as the protection of the shareholders' property against all internal threats - including both residents and employees, up to and certainly including the chief executive. If the shareholders cannot dismiss the CEO of the realm by voting according to proper corporate procedures, a total security failure has occurred.

The standard Patchwork remedy for this problem is the cryptographic chain of command. Ultimately, power over the realm truly rests with the shareholders, because they use a secret sharing or similar cryptographic algorithm to maintain control over its root keys. Authority is then delegated to the board (if any), the CEO and other officers, and thence down into the military or other security forces. At the leaves of the tree are computerized weapons, which will not fire without cryptographic authorization.

Thus, any fragment of the security force which remains loyal to the shareholders can use its operational weapons to defeat any coalition of disloyal, and hence disarmed, employees and/or residents. Ouch! Taste the pain, traitors. (Needless to say, the dependence of this design on 21st-century technology is ample explanation of why history has not bequeathed us anything like the joint-stock realm. It was simply not implementable - any more than our ancestors could build a suspension bridge out of limestone blocks.)

With this basic background in Filmerist government, and with the (as yet unjustified) assumption that a patch is safe against external aggression, let's start to look at what a 21st-century corporate sovereign might actually want to do.

For simplicity and for my own personal amusement, let's call the realm Friscorp, and say its patch is the present city of San Francisco - pop., about 750,000.

Obviously, Friscorp would like to turn SF into the coolest, most hoppin', and definitely most expensive city on the planet. Call it a combination of Paris, Monaco, and Babylon. Destroying ugly postwar buildings, for example, and reconstructing them in appropriate historical styles, will definitely be high on Friscorp's agenda.

The first and touchiest problem, though, is just deciding who gets to live in San Francisco. Friscorp's answer is simple: anyone who isn't dangerous to others, and can afford to live in San Francisco. It is probably also nice if they speak English, but considering the exigencies of the second constraint, they almost certainly will. Friscorp may also import menial laborers, as Dubai does today, but they are not to be confused with the actual residents.

Here we face a slight predicament. There are quite a few people presently in San Francisco who do not meet the second constraint, are pretty iffy on the first as well, and have no labor skills to speak of. What do we do with them? Sell their slums out from under them, obviously; demo everything, spray for roaches, rodents and pit bulls, smooth the rubble out with a bulldozer or two, and possibly a little aerial bombing; erect new residential districts suitable for Russian oligarchs. Next question?

But where do they go? Since their customer-service contract gives them the right of exit, these people - call them bezonians - can of course emigrate to any other realm in the Patchwork. This presumes, however, that said realm is willing to accept them. And why would it be? If our design does not provide for the existence of a large number of human beings whose existence anywhere is not only unprofitable, but in fact a straight-up loss, to that realm, it is simply inconsistent with reality.

The design faces an existential challenge. On next week's episode, we'll present the shocking but ineluctable solution, and figure out the second half of our security problem: the relationships between realms.

226 Comments:

Blogger Trurle said...

The basic idea of Patchwork is that, as the crappy governments we inherited from history are smashed, they should be replaced by a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries, each governed by its own joint-stock corporation without regard to the residents' opinions.
If the troubles with the democratic form of government can be explained by the fact that the democracy is void and in the reality we have a civil service rule, how your proposal is any different? The joint-stock corporation is indistinguishable from the civil service rule, in its distilled form, isn't it?

November 13, 2008 at 5:50 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Trurle:
One word: incentives.

November 13, 2008 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Trurle:

another word:

Ownership.

The civil service folks don't own anything -- they just collect a paycheck -- all they care about is that, profitability and stability are of no or little concern.

The js owners of a patch have a vested interest in the profitability of their venture.

November 13, 2008 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger Allen Short said...

A pretty picture. Resting your political engineering on a piece of weapons engineering that hasn't happened yet lends an air of utopianism to the project, though. I don't believe we even have software systems capable of bearing this kind of weight, even if the hardware side of the problem were totally solved (which it obviously isn't).

I recall you mentioning this idea before: how do you deal with the myriad failure modes (the simplest of which is the deployment of weapons from the previous century)?

November 13, 2008 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Allen --

read through the archives -- there was a lovely argument about whether or not computer-locked guns were possible or preferable or what-have-you.

the answer to your second question is simple -- the sovcorp forces will always have superior, locked weaponry. The masses will have unlocked weapons -- as there is no reason to disarm them because there is no reason to believe that they can do any harm with their inferior weaponry.

Also, the sovcorp model (with a replaceable director) prevents the purpose of assassination (that is, citizen violence against the state) -- as a new leader can be instantly put into place.

November 13, 2008 at 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

We had a big argument about cryplocking in the Open Letter #6. Not sure I'd agree that it was resolved one way or another. But I tend to lean towards MM in this, that it would be possible to control the security forces.

Basically you'd lock all their weapons, but leave the small stuff (handguns, maybe rifles) unlocked most of the time. The heavy weapons (machineguns, RPGs, etc.) would remain locked, but physically available. Possession and trafficking of unlocked heavy weapons would be illegal. Citizens would be allowed to arm themselves with small arms as they like, and probably even encouraged to do so -- why should the realm pay extra for police to do what any free man can and should?

Incidentally, I also proposed a second scheme back in that thread for securing primary property: the nuclear poison pill. The idea is for the sovcorp to emplace cryptographically controlled nuclear weapons in its own turf, and threaten to nuke the patch if the stockholders lose control of the corp by any means (foreign invasion, coup, mob action, etc.). This is novel, AFAIK, but for some reason, nobody liked it. :) But I still think it would work, and I have the feeling that MM might like it.

November 13, 2008 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger Trurle said...

To G. M. Palmer
another word: Ownership.
Employees of the proposed joint-stock sovereign company also don't own anything substancial, their power would be derived from the sovereign one, exactly like with the modern civil service. With the realms ruled by the brute force, there would be no constraints on the sovereign actions and privileges, making the disaster inevitable. And yes, in any society more complex that isolated, autarchical village, the sovereign has no other option but to rule through civil service.

For the realms built like shared stock companies, the problem appear to be solved by the limits put on the executive by the stockholders. Unfortunately, while the idea seems to be appealing, one can't help but notice that the stockholders can be called citizens all the same and so we have executive branch elected by the citizens, like in the conventional democratic regime.
The amusing part is that the corporations mimic the US political structure: they have executive branch, leaded by CEO, legislative branch called "the board" and some sort of courts. The importance of courts in the sovereign joint-stock corporation is more pronounced, for two reasons: first, modern corporations can outsource some legal processing to the state courts, and the sovereign joint-stock corporation decisions are encompassing.
There is still some difference between sovereign corporation and the democratic state: in the later, in its' modern form, citizenship covers almost all population and suffrage has a universal tendencies.
The problem is that it is not universal suffrage that caused a problem, so limiting the suffrage would not solve anything.

November 13, 2008 at 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

IMO, the biggest weak point still unaddressed by MM in his neocameralist idea is the matter of joint stock control.

We know how this works for secondary corps, and it works fine. If someone tries any number of schemes for monkeying with the stock, the state steps in and stops it, probably imposing punishments for fraud.

But that cannot work for a sovcorp. So, as I suggested back in OL6, there is this problem:

Consider the following "hack" to a standard JSC: I go to the yearly meeting, and propose the following: the smallest shareholder shall be dispossessed of all shares, his share(s) to be repossessed by the company.

Or this hack: The company shall issue 1 million new shares, unequally: they shall be given to the N owners of the largest blocks of stock, in proportion to their ownership. (Presumably N should be large enough to get to 51%.)

Either way, you can see that the process can iterate, and thus there's a race to dictatorship, all done perfectly above board. Of course, such dealings might violate the corporate charter -- if it was a secondary JSC. But there can be no charter for a primary JSC (there can be a piece of paper, but there's no higher law to enforce it). The only limit on such dealings would be that stockholders, even those in the majority which would benefit, would be afraid to tamper with the Schelling point of "no monkeying with current shares". But that's a rather large thing to hang the security of your government on, don't you think?

Are you thinking of cryptographically controlled shares? I'm not sure about this, but conceivably it would be possible to set up a voting system so that it would be mathematically impossible to create or destroy voting shares. If so, then this problem is solved, given adequate tech.

November 13, 2008 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Actually MM fixes this by disallowing citizens to own stock in their sovcorp.

November 13, 2008 at 9:17 AM  
Anonymous raistthemage said...

While super low exit costs would be ideal for liberty, it sounds like this suffers from the same military feasibility problem (though not to nearly as great an extent) that "ancapistan" does (and ancapistan has other problems too).

The city state for better or worse lost its military feasibility with the invention of cannons.

What I think would work is a confederation of mostly independent principalities.

November 13, 2008 at 9:18 AM  
Anonymous raistthemage said...

To clarify it would be a problem of internal security, such a realm wouldn't be able to defend itself against a bigger one.

November 13, 2008 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I hate to echo right-wing nuts, but I still haven't seen a good answer to this question: Why do you hate America so much?

I'm serious. The standard of living is incredible for the average American, and much better for people like you and me. At any moment, an American can get access to practically any text ever written, any movie filmed, any kind of food, etc. He can go after a different gorgeous woman every day or choose just one and start a family. He can practice religion or not, he can start a blog openly advocating revolution, or he can play Tetris 24 hours a day.

Even the laws we have which do restrict personal freedoms like drug laws or anti-gambling laws can be pretty much avoided by anyone with a tiny bit of care.

It's true that we had a civil war, but that was a long time ago, and there's no indication that we're heading for another one outside the heads of some nutso white supremacists.

What exactly is the problem that makes you eager to throw it all away to test your novel theories of government?

I mean this seriously. I don't get it. Is it just taxes? Because it doesn't seem to me that they're high enough to justify a reboot. Is it that you hate (illegal) immigration so much? Do you really fear a coming war? What is it?

November 13, 2008 at 9:25 AM  
Anonymous c23 said...

It's nice to see MM finally acknowledge the ugly side of his proposals - the potential for a patchwork to become a North Korea-style shithole, and the fate of economically unproductive losers (which we have to wait a week to find out, but unless MM is more clever or less honest than I think, "Soylent Green is people!").

To this I would add a greater potential for war, particularly nuclear war, in a multipolar world and the economics of human extinction in a post-singularity world (which lots of people here got mad at me for discussing earlier, so I won't belabor the point here). Probably others that we're not thinking of, just as Vint Cerf didn't conceive of DDOS attacks and rickrolling in 1972.

None of this is to say that MM's ideas are necessarily a net lose - just that there's a downside which had not previously been discussed by MM.

November 13, 2008 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

JA:

Detroit.
Chicago.
Washington D.C.
Miami.
L.A.
any inner city.

Rape, theft, and murder rates that were impossible to imagine 250 years ago.

November 13, 2008 at 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Quercus said...

the fate of economically unproductive losers (which we have to wait a week to find out, but unless MM is more clever or less honest than I think, "Soylent Green is people!").

Slavery might be cost-effective, depending on how cheaply the realm can maintain its slaves and how much value the slaves can add to some economic operation.

The more squeamish may contemplate deportation of the underclass to some other patch. This requires either violation of the sovereignty of that patch's ruler or finding an unruled patch (analogous to the foundings of Sierra Leone and Liberia).

Another realm, motivated by non-profit motives, may take members of the underclass having a particular demographic or cultural marker. Do worry if the other realm conscripts its new arrivals as Black Panthers/Waffen SS/etc.

To this I would add a greater potential for war, particularly nuclear war, in a multipolar world

A greater potential for war, possibly. (A Black Panther/Waffen SS realm would pay for its armed forces by plunder). But nuclear war not so much. Nuclear weapons, either as poison pills or a defense-of-last-resort, would deter most attackers.

November 13, 2008 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

g.m. palmer:

Rape, theft, and murder rates that were impossible to imagine 250 years ago.

Cite?

Even assuming it's true, which I am skeptical of, is that really your answer? We need to create an entirely new system of government in order to bring down urban crime levels?

November 13, 2008 at 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The basic idea of Patchwork is that, as the crappy governments we inherited from history are smashed, they should be replaced by a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries, each governed by its own joint-stock corporation without regard to the residents' opinions.

What stops aggressive non-sovcorp neighbors from eating each patchwork nation?

The essential inspiration for Patchwork is the observation that the periods in which human civilization has flowered are the periods in which it has been most politically divided. Ancient Greece, medieval Italy, Europe until 1914, China in the Spring and Autumn Period, and so on.

Uh, didn't all these example mini-nations eventually get eaten by a large, aggressive neighbor?

The corporation is owned and controlled by its anonymous shareholders (if you've ever wondered what the letters SA stand for in the name of a French or Spanish company, they mean "anonymous society"), whose interests in maximizing corporate performance are perfectly aligned.

I work for a large corporation. We have a lot of "interests" that conflict with maximizing corporate performance. Perhaps many of these (e.g. diversity) would go away if we weren't swimming in the toxic pool of 21sr century democracy...

the mechanism we rely on to prevent it is no implausible deus ex machina, no Indian rope-trick from the age of Voltaire, but the sound engineering principle of the profit motive. A realm that pulls this kind of crap cannot be trusted by anyone ever again.

The guy who owns a slave state obviously is not interested in profit per se, but in personal power. Kim does not care that the DPRK does not "make a profit"! Any security design must be able to prevent such people from gaining control of the Sovcorp.

There are quite a few people presently in San Francisco who do not meet the second constraint, are pretty iffy on the first as well, and have no labor skills to speak of. What do we do with them?

Since Friscorp is being run for profit, the obvious solution is indentured servitude. The useless mouths shall build roads and bridges, pick up the trash, etc., until they have paid off their indentures.

how do you deal with the myriad failure modes (the simplest of which is the deployment of weapons from the previous century)?

This is like asking how the US government would deal with an uprising of peasants with pitchforks.

The idea is for the sovcorp to emplace cryptographically controlled nuclear weapons in its own turf, and threaten to nuke the patch if the stockholders lose control of the corp by any means

What a great way to attract people to your city!

November 13, 2008 at 10:21 AM  
Anonymous hothr said...

You say there would be a contract between the residents and owners of a realm. You also say a king is not bound by his own laws. Since contracts are only enforceable by law, such a contract is meaningless.

Your model of the world is a legal code, with occasional perturbations. This is not incorrect per se, but may not be the most useful model, and might become meaningless after a lot of social upheaval.

It may be justifiable, e.g., by explaining why crime would be low in an authoritarian society, or why wars between patches wouldn't occur. There are many questions however, such as the latter, that I feel are not answered.

(You also seem to express this legal code in terms of property. Again this may be possible, but may not be practical. )

November 13, 2008 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

ja

Mencius has already cited them, search the archives.

And have you ever lived in an inner city?

Also, the education system alone is reason enough to scrap the government.

November 13, 2008 at 11:06 AM  
Anonymous raistthemage said...

There are two types of economically unproductive losers.

1) Willfully indigent

2) The deserving unemployed

I don't think those in category 2 would have trouble finding jobs in Moldbug's city states. Most unemployment is caused by bad government policies.

November 13, 2008 at 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

JA, I urge you to read back into the Moldbug archives. (I rather thought you had been long enough, but I guess not.)

There are really two answers to your question.

First, it's not that there's that much wrong with America right now. Yes, there are blighted spots, but as you say, we can largely avoid them. And why should comfortable white people, who can watch any movie they want, care about crime in the inner cities? Like those that live in Omelas, we might consider consigning 10% of the citizenry to lives of ignorance, squalor, dependence, and danger to be a fair price to pay for our exaltation. W

No, the problem is the direction. If you accept Moldbug's analysis of the problem, which is basically this:
democracy + progressivism --> shit
then you should be fearful for our future. The blight will not be restricted to the inner cities. Progressivism does not and cannot stop.

But I think a second answer may be more telling.

MM is an engineer. He's thought of a wonderful widget. Not only does he want to build it, but it's painful for him to deal with the existing widget now that there's such a superior one in his imagination.

It's like programming in C once you've used C++, or maybe Lisp. It's like using a 15" monitor once you've used a 22". It's like driving a rented American crap car when you drive a BMW back home. It's like administering Windows when you've administered Unix.

November 13, 2008 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

GMP:

Mencius has already cited them, search the archives.

Little help? Can't find anything on point.

And have you ever lived in an inner city?

Depends what you call "inner." Not sure how that's relevant.

Also, the education system alone is reason enough to scrap the government.

Baby, bathwater. You've got to be crazy to throw out the great thing we've got going to try some harebrained scheme from some eccentric genius blogger.

November 13, 2008 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

leonard:

JA, I urge you to read back into the Moldbug archives. (I rather thought you had been long enough, but I guess not.)

Pretty sure I've read all of the posts except the poetry. Maybe I've skimmed a few sections on the financial stuff.

First, it's not that there's that much wrong with America right now. Yes, there are blighted spots, but as you say, we can largely avoid them. And why should comfortable white people, who can watch any movie they want, care about crime in the inner cities? Like those that live in Omelas, we might consider consigning 10% of the citizenry to lives of ignorance, squalor, dependence, and danger to be a fair price to pay for our exaltation.

You're trying to tell me that MM and his fans want to reboot the country out of selfless concern for inner-city minorities? Come on.

No, the problem is the direction. If you accept Moldbug's analysis of the problem, which is basically this:
democracy + progressivism --> shit
then you should be fearful for our future. The blight will not be restricted to the inner cities. Progressivism does not and cannot stop.


So let's reboot if his prophecy comes true, not while things are still great. He's not the first guy to announce the end of the world is nigh.

MM is an engineer. He's thought of a wonderful widget. Not only does he want to build it, but it's painful for him to deal with the existing widget now that there's such a superior one in his imagination.

It's like programming in C once you've used C++, or maybe Lisp. It's like using a 15" monitor once you've used a 22". It's like driving a rented American crap car when you drive a BMW back home. It's like administering Windows when you've administered Unix.


Hey, I'm an engineer too. And I think it's more like having one of the best widgets that's ever been seen on the face of the earth and imagining you can do better... except you're proposing to destroy the one you have to create the new one. If MM wanted to create some new country on a deserted island as a proof of concept, I'd say more power to him. But he wants to destroy OUR incredibly successful widget that has a few features/bugs that annoy him to create a new one.

You don't destroy something that works to implement the beautiful vision in your head. You create prototypes, and then test, and then user test, and then release.

November 13, 2008 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger William A. Sigler said...

Filmer’s argument for the divine right of kings makes perfect, impeccable sense to this new age cosmonaut—something positive to help me get on with my life free of the sordid dualities of machine politics. But when MM tries to tailor the argument for today’s fashionable atheism, it turns to utter nonsense—i.e. one must obliterate the status quo because there is no questioning of the status quo.

As a ponder this, I think the disconnect is the degree to which the argument is really about aesthetics, rhetoric and perception, vs. actual structures and reality. To my mind, the actual political structure is no different today than in the days of the monarchies, after all, there are but a few hard and fast rules that power obeys. But as a symbol of how power is deployed, and the nature of the emollients handed out to the people, the munificent, heavy-crowned sovereign and his magnificent stallions of death has been replaced by the scientists of consumption and the focus groups of endless distraction that we call modern democracy.

The question for me becomes why, and an initial, provisional answer comes from the weary words of the Architect in “The Matrix Reloaded” to the effect that, unfortunately, people will only accept the program if they are given the illusion of choice. They prefer the right to be irrational over a world that was literally perfect in its conditions.

In this way, and this way only, I suppose, would the supposedly distinct realms of San Francisco and Dubai be different. In one, the dispossessed know they have no choice, but accept it and keep out of the residents business because, hey, it’s a relative paradise. In SF, they think their dispossession is their doing, so they dirty the noses of all they see with an approximation of the hell they feel.

But then again, maybe reality is perception, after all, as they say here in decidedly non-democratic corporations.

November 13, 2008 at 12:10 PM  
Anonymous A.Simon said...

Mrs. du Toit is discovering mencius site
her reaction here:
http://www.mrsdutoit.com/index.php/main/single/3671/

November 13, 2008 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

You're trying to tell me that MM and his fans want to reboot the country out of selfless concern for inner-city minorities? Come on.

I cannot speak for MM. But as a fan, I do think that this is a motivation. Not all, but part of it. I got much the same brainwashing as I imagine you did, although I am no longer a progressive due to my aberrant autodidacticism. But still, that kind of early religion is hard to shake in toto. I actually would like to make change for the better.

MM had a progressive upbringing, at least, although he is clearly now apostate. So it's likely he also has the crazy urge to help his fellow man.

let's reboot if his prophecy comes true, not while things are still great.

If could just push a red button and get a reboot, I'm not sure I would. At least not America -- I'd reboot, say, Iceland along neocameral lines in a second if I could. As you say, test the thing out before committing to it. Iceland is close enough that I could move there and still be able to get back here to see friends & family remaining here in pwoggiedom.

I don't know what MM would do given such a red button for America. I expect he'd push it -- he's just a bit arrogant that way.

In any case, no such button exists. So, all this talk is not actually a conspiracy to overthrow the USA right now. It's to lay the ideological groundwork for the future. Things will get worse. Eventually, even you will want a reboot. When the apparat has given up its belief in progressive democracy, then maybe change will happen.

And your analogy is inapt, in that this particular widget must replace an existing one. There is no sovereignty for sale, anywhere on Earth. You cannot just grab a desert island. You can test only via replacement of an existing regime, or perhaps via leasing sovereignty somewhere.

November 13, 2008 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Dan Weber said...

I think it's odd that we had a series of financial points in which the run on a (MT) bank is taken as a given; yet we are supposed to assume that patchwork states won't degenerate into slave states merely because there is usually incentive not to.

I'm pretty sure I could set up a parallelism in which people fleeing the country is substituted in for depositors wanting money, and the nation fearing the loss of its citizens replaces the bank's inability to call in all its loans, and the fear of other people doing the first reinforces the changes of the second. If you think the government is going to turn confiscatory, that fear is the most likely thing to trigger that outcome.

November 13, 2008 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

JA

Are you suggesting we should only treat cancer once it has metastisized?

MM's diagnosis is on -- having been in education for a decade, I see only decline and insanity from "progress."

I'm not so sure about his cure, though. I don't think corporations have a very good track record of not abusing their clients.

November 13, 2008 at 1:57 PM  
Anonymous terry north said...

dan weber:

The mechanics of an emigrating populace and a bank run are similar enough that they deserve examination.

In a run on a Bagehotian bank run, the bank does not have currency to satisfy its lenders and is forced to sell some of its assets. Due to the nature of the situation (see prior posts at UR for details), the marginal value of its assets decrease as it sells them.

The reason, then, that people withdraw money from banks in a run is due to herd effects. They understand that banks don't have enough money to pay everyone - as a bank begins to settle its debts, its solvency decreases, giving current outstanding debts a lower expected value.

In the case of a state with a populace that fears the state will increase exit costs there is no similar herd based mechanism. As more and more people emigrate, the remaining residents become more wealthy (the marginal cost of land decreases if nothing else).

The similarity to a bank run must exist in the incentives for the state to increase exit costs. In particular, it would have to be true that the best way for a state to boost its discounted future Laffer maximum tax revenues is to increase exit costs (possibly atomically to infinity). Here you run into a problem of efficiency. As Mencius put it,

And, while your residents are indeed stuck, they are also remarkably sullen and display no great interest in slaving for you. Which is a more valuable patch of real estate, today: South Korea, or North Korea?

The problem with making the case for slavery is that it is pretty well settled that better management (including not making slaves out of your residents) produces dramatically higher productivity, particularly in the presence of sufficiently advanced technology. In a traditional monarchy, there is no possibility for a better solution. If the owners get out of the king business, they usually lose their heads.

In the patchwork, though, owners of a slave state should be able to sell their shares for greater than their expected discounted future Laffer maximum tax revenues, if the transaction is done en mass so as to convincingly transfer ownership to a new party.

Since residents who are afraid of becoming slaves are prima facie more valuable to a state than slaves the sale of shares should happen at this point instead of later on when the owners would presumably get a lower price.

This is not to say that a slave state is impossible under the patchwork system. However, it would be difficult to achieve. It would require that a majority of shareholders in a state be of common cause and that they would desire to make slaves of their residents to the detriment of their own wealth. It would also have to successfully ward off hostile takeovers; a decreasing level of wealth in said state making such a prospect increasingly unlikely.

November 13, 2008 at 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

G. M. Palmer and I come at this both from the same direction - education. I imagine he's familiar with the same kind of mental rot that I am - progressive thinking about education, in which every school is a welfare state and every special education department is a TANF agency.

A student wants more resources devoted to him (at the ages I know best, it usually is a boy), all he has to do is fail a little, or a lot. Break some rules, forget to do some homework. Of course, he doesn't care about resources, he just likes to make adults make those faces - the faces of concern and indulgence adults always make when they face a particularly special challenge.

Progressive policies are not as bad as progressive thinking. Recently, some Federal policies have begun dictating welfare-style special-ed. These policies are of minor importance. The rot began long ago.

Consider Moldbug's assertion that Dalits are used by the Brahmin as their Stasi. Would something like this occur at a junior high school? In my experience ... yup. Schools are a network of loosely-enforced rules, and anyone who gets away with more than his share of violations is instantly popular among his peers. So if any group of students is favored by the staff, well, you know or can guess, right? In most schools, an altercation between two students is not going to be settled with a body slam. It will be settled by someone backing down or both students getting punished. Presto - conflicts are won by the student who is least concerned with getting respect from adults.

The least mature students are thus the stasi for the progressive staff, because it is progressive to constantly forget any student's disciplinary record and treat him as a blank slate. Punish the perp and the victim "equally"; the perp will be apathetic or thrilled at the new street cred, the perp will be humiliated and bewilidered. Victims seem to have lower self-esteem and better social skills than perps (I'm going to try to dig up some stats on this). Well-run schools increase the level of punishment with repeat offenses, but expulsions are rare (as are well-run schools).

The upshot? Progressivism is necessarily anti-intellectual, anti-maturity, anti-personal responsibility, pro-apathy. Leftists are often derided as "effete intellectuals" but that is a thin veil for their profound lack of interest in academic excellence.

If I could reboot American thinking without touching its worst policies, I would do it. When someone forks over their money to the intrusive IRS who uses it to pay benefits to someone who has managed to parlay 13 years of the most expensive free education system imaginable into unemployment (and a growing family), I at least want the taxpayer to grumble about it. The taxpayers who think Federal programs help to fight poverty really scare me.

November 13, 2008 at 4:38 PM  
Anonymous zawy said...

Trurle, Lawful Neutral and G. M. Palmer,

I don’t really view the difference as being incentives or ownership. The one word you’re looking for is: exit.

For me, the key to the success of such a system will be how easy it is to exit to other realms. If people can easily leave and find other places to go, and rulers can’t have much recourse to preventing them to stay, or have technological barriers to doing so, then I think the system could prosper enormously.

Leaders can’t muck about too much because their subjects will just up and leave, harming—and possibly destroying—their economies. The leaders won’t be able to do too much evil simply because evil destroys economic value. A country that spends its budget enforcing law and order and making the realm nicer will be more attractive than a country that wastes its money bombing other places. People will simply move to the realm where their money is spent on nicer parks rather than on destroying faraway lands.

I can imagine this sort of arrangement having two equilibrium points, and the choice between the two would depend almost entirely on the degree of freedom to exit. If exit is easy, we would have largely peaceful realms all competing to produce more economic value with very prosperous and happy citizenry. If exit is difficult, you can envision an equilibrium of extreme disparities ranging from extreme affluence to slavery, with lots of wars and conflict and bad things happening. In fact, we can see the second equilibrium as today’s world. There is very little realistic option of exit in today’s world, and so we will forever be stuck with Tanzania, Syria, France, Peru, Cambodia and countless other dysfunctional hell-holes.

Perhaps the closest example to the first equilibrium could well be the United States of America (don’t laugh). Movement of persons and goods has always been free within this country and neither state nor local governments could ever do anything about it. Bad towns went bust, badly-governed states depopulated till they reformed, well-governed places grew enormously and prospered. It is that, I think, which made America so prosperous. While on the Federal level the government could, and always has, done enormous harm, on local and state level government has largely been neutered by the threat of exit. The reason the whole place is going to the dogs currently (and has been for a while) is because the Federal government has grown enormously in scope.

Back to our question, an optimist could possibly point out that in the bad equilibrium, the rich parts would prosper so much that they could become capable of taking over the bad parts, and running them more effectively. In the long run, maybe there could only be one good equilibrium.

November 13, 2008 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

quoth raistthemage:
There are two types of economically unproductive losers.

1) Willfully indigent

2) The deserving unemployed

I don't think those in category 2 would have trouble finding jobs in Moldbug's city states. Most unemployment is caused by bad government policies.


This is the kind of Pollyanna crap that annoys me about some libertarians (neocameralists or whatever MM's fans call themselves this week are close enough). You're neglecting a significant segment of the population - the unwillingly indigent. Take, for example, just about anyone in a long-term care facility, or the mentally ill, just to name a few. From an economic point of view they are no better than healthy young men who refuse to work, and a manager looking to cut costs would treat them the same way.

Under a non-progressive system, those people are basically fucked. Hint: socialism did not become popular because people wanted able-bodied men to be able to loaf around on the dole. Dickens wrote about Tiny Tim, not Drunk-ass Tim.

Personally, I don't necessarily find this to be a deal breaker, but get real about what you're advocating. Neocameralism or libertarianism don't result in the free market providing flying ponies for everyone.

Also, I don't see why neocameralism would necessarily put an end to the business cycle and the resulting periodic spikes of unemployment. You'd probably have unwillingly unemployed able-bodied men from time to time. It's not obvious how a manager would deal with them, because they're temporarily worthless but may become valuable later.

November 13, 2008 at 7:08 PM  
Anonymous raistthemage said...

[i]"This is the kind of Pollyanna crap that annoys me about some libertarians (neocameralists or whatever MM's fans call themselves this week are close enough). You're neglecting a significant segment of the population - the unwillingly indigent. Take, for example, just about anyone in a long-term care facility, or the mentally ill, just to name a few. From an economic point of view they are no better than healthy young men who refuse to work, and a manager looking to cut costs would treat them the same way."[/i]

Their relatives, churches, other charities, or the circus would see to the care of such people.

November 13, 2008 at 8:06 PM  
Anonymous raistthemage said...

Im used to using the Vb html tags...

November 13, 2008 at 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Take, for example, just about anyone in a long-term care facility, or the mentally ill, just to name a few. From an economic point of view they are no better than healthy young men who refuse to work, and a manager looking to cut costs would treat them the same way.

People have always found the motivation to work when they were sufficiently hungry. So I would not worry much about healthy young men who refuse to work.

I also see no problem with the "unwillingly unemployed". The state will still want them, because its goals are long run. So long as they pay more in taxes over their lifetime than they use in services, they are a net plus and worth having as subjects. This is a low bar.

As for the business cycle: it is, in the Austrian analysis, an artifact of interest rate falsification. If neocameral states support fractional reserve banking, or any other kind of MT such that interest rates are falsified, some malinvestment must necessarily result. But I don't think they will do this.

Of course, interest rates can go wonky for reasons other than government manipulation. But we should not expect such deviations to be as large or as common.

As for other types of indolents, I see no reason why a neocameral state would subsidize any of them. Certainly it would allow them to continue to be residents if they are paid for (by themselves earlier in life, or by others). Otherwise, it would have the incentive to forceably expatriate them, or kill them.

MM has addressed this detail in the past. You can imagine that a nice sovcorp would give some shares to various charity groups. They would then have the money from dividends to be able to do various relief work. As a formalist, MM thinks that as part of reformalizing any existing government, this would happen.

But in the abstract, I see no necessary reason why any sovcorp would give shares to charity. So at least initially, depending on how they started, you might see some very unprogressive nastiness. Death penalty for vagrancy?

It is worth noting, though, that in a sovcorp where charity was insufficient, you'd expect a lot of focus from the charities there on getting rich people to give them sovcorp shares as charitable bequests. And the philanthropists, seeing the need, would do so, instead of giving their money for other uses. Since a sovcorp would be a far better place than current states to conduct business, we should expect them to be able to get better economic growth on average than we get. So there should be a lot of money sloshing around to potentially end up going to charity.

November 13, 2008 at 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mencius,

Do you really like Singapore that much?

Even after stories like the following:
http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_299479.html?vgnmr=1

November 13, 2008 at 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you really like Singapore that much?

The answer is, ideally there will be some city states where such acts are forbidden, and others where such acts are permitted, and people are free to choose which state they wish to live in.

November 13, 2008 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Curve:

Amen.

Zawy,

I've commented a lot about exit strategies -- how are you going to rent new property in a new sovcorp if your old one turns into Detroit, etc?

There's no real good answer, other than you live on a couch for a few months and work your ass off.

I think your point about movement between the states is ideal. Also ideal would be for governors to grow some and tell the fed to fuck right off and suck on the 10th.

November 13, 2008 at 8:57 PM  
Anonymous m said...

I've noticed a trend among Mencius's writings: a continuous pushing-back of the start of Progressivism. He has it now pegged at the Dutch invasion of England (1688), which is laughable. At the very least it dates back to the beginning of the Reformation, but I would argue instead that it's germ is fundamentally rooted in Christianity itself: turn the other cheek, the brotherhood of man, etc. Jesus was nothing if not a radical, seeking the overthrow of the established order. Thus: as TGGP has argued persuasively in the past, what Mencius actually and slyly seeks is the overthrow of the Western Christian order, replacing it with a system which is in essence Islamic (Monarchy? Check. Clear, unbending, bright-line rules? Check. Patriarchal? Extremely. Resistant to Progressivism? Definitely)

Jewish Atheist, does this answer your question?

November 13, 2008 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

m: MM has preceded you. For example, back in June of 2007, wrote:
Christianity, to me, is half Roman state religion, half communal ecstatic fraternity. I find the Anglican terms high church and low church useful in describing these phenomena, even outside the bounds of Anglicanism proper...

Elements of both these strains can be found in every Christian tradition, not least because (a) no one has found a way to live without government, despite all efforts; and (b) so much of the emotional appeal of Christianity is in the fictive-kinship idea that all men (or, depending on your theology, all Christians) are brothers.

Another, slightly harsher, way to put this is that the New Testament includes a complete and tested blueprint for a revolutionary communist cult.

November 13, 2008 at 9:25 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

"It is at least probable that this joint-stock design maximizes corporate efficiency. If there existed a more effective structure - if firms were more productive when managed not by a committee but by an executive, or by the collective decisions of their customers or employees, by separate legislative and judiciary branches, etc, etc - we would know. Someone would have found a way to construct a firm on this design, and it would have outcompeted the rest of the stodgy old world. (In fact, I think one of the most plausible explanations of why the Industrial Revolution happened in England, not in Sung China or the Roman Empire, was that the latter two never evolved anything quite like the joint-stock company.)"

That's a case of the old saying, "it ain't what you don't know that'll hurt you, it's what you do know that ain't so". It's just come up in relation to another matter, in this and later comments. The British Industrial Revolution took place in times when corporations were eschewed, and apart from railway companies (that were handled as special cases, and came late in the period) they weren't significant for the Industrial Revolution. What joint-stock companies actually optimise is ground cover plant behaviour to thwart other approaches (via quicker capital raising and assistance from the legal framework), not operational efficiency. Neither quicker capital raising nor assistance from the legal framework is relevant to the "patchwork" scheme, as it assumes things have already been set up, and there is no broader framework to help carry the corporations.

(Oh, and it's not "sic [sic] vis pacem, para bellum", it's "si vis pacem, para bellum".)

November 13, 2008 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Are you suggesting we should only treat cancer once it has metastisized?

I'm suggesting that the "cancer" is hypothetical, the patient is one of the healthiest people who has ever lived, and MM is suggesting a radical new treatment that's never been tested. Oh, and it involves stopping the patient's heart and shocking his brain.

November 14, 2008 at 6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm suggesting that the "cancer" is hypothetical,

You haven't noticed any ominous economic, social, or political trends lately? Oh well. I guess if you're just going to stick your head in the sand and hope for the best, MM has nothing to say to you.

November 14, 2008 at 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

JA: You're right; it's far from reactionary to tear society down in order to rebuild it according to the tastes of a mad guru. On the other hand, it's not like MM's followers are bombing universities or assassinating NPR reporters or doing anything to cause or hasten society's collapse. If MM's taught me anything, it's that the reactionary cause cannot possibly hope to defeat Univeralism/progressivism/ultra-Calvinism/whatever.

No, if the current order is going to collapse, it's going to collapse of its own volition. If it doesn't, that's obviously a very good thing. Destroying the world to build the New Jerusalem should be our opponents' plan, not ours.

November 14, 2008 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Bitcrafter Extrordinaire said...

This appears to be similar to Alastair Reynolds' "Demarchy". I like the idea, but there are very, very large operational gaps.

I look foward to hearing more.

November 14, 2008 at 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Thus: as TGGP has argued persuasively in the past, what Mencius actually and slyly seeks is the overthrow of the Western Christian order, replacing it with a system which is in essence Islamic (Monarchy? Check. Clear, unbending, bright-line rules? Check. Patriarchal? Extremely. Resistant to Progressivism? Definitely) - m

I myself am not persuaded. Islam seems no more favorable to monarchy than Catholicism; Shintoism is vastly more pro-monarchy than either. A lot of the most politically-oriented Muslims are quite pro-republic, seeing monarchies as essentially decadent places where princes drink imported whiskey, etc.

Moldbug's rules are unbending and bright-line, but there aren't nearly as many as in Islamic fundamentalism. Nor are they particularly arbitrary. Surely there is more to a strict regime than how strict it is? Moldbug abhors violence, political machinations, and factionalism. To these Islam seems neutral or favorable. Muslims abhor homosexuality and usually atheism; a lot also abhor Western arts. Mencius is neutral or favorable to these things.

Then there's the whole banking issue. Remember, Muslims are often still against usury, like Christian war a few Centuries ago. I see no sanctity of the private contract in Islam.

Islam doesn't seem very resistant to progressivism. Arab socialists like the Ba'ath and the Egyptian governing parties are nominally secular, but they have succeeded in Islamic countries, even as fundamentalism has grown in those countries. You can't really blame the mullahs for socialism, but it's not like they've done much good even in this small area.

And patriarchy...? Where are you getting Moldbug being patriarchal? As far as we know, Moldbug's friends are all riot grrrls and part-time dominatrices. (I've known a ton of urban lefty women who claim to be "part-time dominatrices". Say they make TONS of money. I chuckle a little when they're out of the room.) OR, as far as we know, Moldbug feels like women should behave like they did during his favorite era (the Victorian). How many Margaret Sangers and Marie Curies has Islam produced?

Without really saying much about it, Moldbug is a cultural conservative. I bet he'd wince at the label, but it fits. The achievements he really respects seem to mainly be European, and they happened either in spite of Islamic aggression (in the Renaissance) or after it had been quelled. There are some exceptions of course; I'm sure he respects algebra and he may be one of those people who thinks Hindu Numerals are an Arabic invention (I bet the Hindus are bitter about that!)

Point is, I've never heard him breathe a positive word about Islam.

November 14, 2008 at 8:51 AM  
Anonymous raistthemage said...

what Mencius actually and slyly seeks is the overthrow of the Western Christian order, replacing it with a system which is in essence Islamic (Monarchy? Check. Clear, unbending, bright-line rules? Check. Patriarchal? Extremely. Resistant to Progressivism? Definitely)

The essence of Islam is shariah law, which contains a lot of pointless and stupid rules that Mencius never suggested and would not support. He hates fanaticism of all kinds so I think this is a very bad ad hominem.

November 14, 2008 at 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Ugh, bad editing. I wrote, "Then there's the whole banking issue. Remember, Muslims are often still against usury, like Christian war a few Centuries ago."

I meant, "... like many Christians were a few Centuries ago."

But I see raistthemage has already echoed me in a much more concise manner!

The other thing is was going to say was:

Confucianism!

If you're looking for a philosophy, religion, mental discipline whatever from outside Europe that is in line with Moldbug's, look no further. In fact, I think he should own up to his allegiance, maybe by prefixing an appropriate philopher's name onto his nym.

(Feeling puckish today.)

November 14, 2008 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

The Security of Peel
Prime Minister Peel was an example of the mistake of supposing that even the highest practical abilities are sufficient, without philosophical insights, to save a politician from grave errors. The weakness of the practical mind is that while it clearly sees the existing circimstances of the case, it has small powers of foresight--Lord Hugh Cecil

Security is the chief enemy of mortals--Shakespeare
The way to be safe is never to be secure--Franklin

November 14, 2008 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Ben Wheat said...

Found your blog via a comment posted in reponse to a post on another blog, the little cog (it's a small world). EXTREMELY interesting (should I say shocking?) read, great great stuff. Trying to find as many of these sorts of blogs as I can to digest, I've linked to your site on my blog, The Children Of The Revolution.

You're added to my reading list, sir.

November 14, 2008 at 10:25 AM  
Anonymous zawy said...

Curve of Freedom,

Your post on Islam makes a ton of mistakes and overgeneralizations. If you wanted to realize how wrong your mixing of all sorts of Muslims together into sweeping statements, try to imagine someone talking about America in these terms, bundling Obama, David Duke, Joe Lieberman, Mencius, Paul Krugman and Pat Robertson into one big monolithic America thinking and acting as one.

Socialist, progressive, nationalist and liberal Muslims are all very distinct groups from each other, and all very distinct from Islamic and religious groups and ideologies. Their history is very complex.

On private contracts in Islam, you're very wrong. Islam has always had pretty extensive contracting frameworks and laws.

November 14, 2008 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Hmmm...found your blog about a week ago and have really enjoyed your viewpoint. It's shockingly original and often correct.

Here, though, I wonder what would prevent the various "realm" corporations from consolidating. The goal of any business is to maximize profits. That entails increasing revenues, and the best ways to increase revenues are to raise prices or to find new customers. Obviously the companies couldn't raise rent forever, so they will have to find new customers. Even if a utopian state is created and everyone who can moves there, eventually the population density will get very high and standards of living will fall very fast. The state will therefore need new territory to keep adding new customers without sacrificing customer service. Some of the takeovers would happen by force, and some would be peaceful buy-outs, just like in the current corporate world.

I think your ideal of a numerously multi-polar world is not sustainable. The more successful governments will always attempt to oust the least successful ones, no matter where their power comes from.

November 14, 2008 at 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous Coward said...

Mencius, I don't know where to begin. This idea you've put forth is terrible at so many different points.

Furthermore, I assume your beef with leftism is the rise of something like the "nanny state". If it's not, then I really don't understand at all why you have a problem with democracy. If it is the "nanny state", I don't see it as being a leftist growth. Most people, regardless of political ideology, think there "ought to be a law" about something stupid.

At this point, I've read every single post on your blog here, even visiting most of the links (including all required reading). I still haven't figured out a.) what you consider Progressivism (or Whiggery) and b.) why you consider it harmful.

If there's some post I've overlooked, please, please direct me to it. Any explanation is going to have to be devoid of your routine sarcasm because, honestly, it is not going to translate if the person reading it doesn't know you or doesn't already think the way you do.

For what it is worth, I really enjoy both reading your perspective on history and your explanations about our crazy financial system.

November 14, 2008 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Statsquatch said...

I have seriously contemplated the idea of a nuclear armed REIT governing Frisco and one thing is clear: I am a few sandwiches short of a pick nick. How about we dig up Emperor Norton, compare his DNA to everyone in the 23andme data base, hand the city over to his closest descendent, and give them nuclear weapons?

November 14, 2008 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

MM is an engineer. He's thought of a wonderful widget. Not only does he want to build it, but it's painful for him to deal with the existing widget now that there's such a superior one in his imagination.
I think that's right, and it's the root of the problem.

Designed-from-scratch political systems have a poor track record. Societies are not very amenable to engineering techniques. The raw material is not well-behaved. You can't erase existing history, culture, and social relationships, at least, not without the techniques of a Pol Pot, so "rebooting" is a fantasy.

For some reason this brings to mind Ursula LeGuin's novel The Disposessed, which describes a society structured de novo around values that are pretty much the exact opposite of Moldbuggism. But in order to make this scenario remotely plausible, she had it being formed by having the people who wanted to live that way emigrate to a habitable but unoccupied moon of their home planet.

Compared to Moldbug, skeptics like JA and me are conservatives -- we think it's probably not a great idea to thow out something that is known to work, however badly, in favor of some untried scheme that looks good on paper. Moldbug is a radical, no matter what he calls himself.

November 14, 2008 at 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Your post on Islam makes a ton of mistakes and overgeneralizations.

This is always the way it is, isn't it? You have included zero of my quotes. How about "Islam seems no more favorable to monarchy than Catholicism"? Is that an "overgeneralization"? Or just a generalization? My quoted statement is, of course, a reference to the many strains of democratic and republican thought that occur among Muslims and in Muslim countries, which apparently it is okay for you to point out but not for me.

And why have you objected to what I said about Islam and not what I said about Catholicism? I am forced to conclude that you believe that any generalization about Islam is a mistake ipso facto, but that you tolerate generalizations about other groups.

If you wanted to realize how wrong your mixing of all sorts of Muslims together into sweeping statements, try to imagine someone talking about America in these terms, bundling Obama, David Duke, Joe Lieberman, Mencius, Paul Krugman and Pat Robertson into one big monolithic America thinking and acting as one.

I do love a challenge! Neither Obama, Duke, Lieberman, Mencius, Krugman, nor Robertson pray to Mecca. Americans who are like them do not either. There, I have made a generalization. But your characterization of a generalization as a statement that asserts different people act as one is wrong. That's not a what a generalization is.

Here are some generalizations about "American thinking as one":

Americans do not generally think the creator of the universe has forbade banking interest.
Americans do not generally find it acceptable for a man to have four wives.
Americans do not generally find stoning to be an appropriate punishment for adultery.

I wish these generalizations were more true, but alas, exceptions abound. Even rules have exceptions, and I didn't assert any of the above generalizations as rules.

Socialist, progressive, nationalist and liberal Muslims are all very distinct groups from each other, and all very distinct from Islamic and religious groups and ideologies. Their history is very complex.

Very complex in ways that make Moldbug's ideology remeniscent of any of them? Surely this isn't "too complex" to even talk about? (Kind of hard to even begin talking about something without a gen_ralizati_n or two.) Would you say Islam is overwhelmingly favorable to monarchy? If not, would you then agree with my opening statement, or do you feel the need to disagree just to back up your assertion that it is a "generalization" and thus wrong?

On private contracts in Islam, you're very wrong. Islam has always had pretty extensive contracting frameworks and laws.

I made a reference to "sanctity". An interest-bearing loan is a contract. It is also impermissible under many traditional Muslim rules. If you want to make the case that most Muslims assign as much importance - a quasi-religious reverence - to the private contracts as American libertarians do, be my guest.

So now tell me, how do you feel about what m said about Islam?

November 14, 2008 at 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it is the "nanny state", I don't see it as being a leftist growth. Most people, regardless of political ideology, think there "ought to be a law" about something stupid.

Um, dude, the reason people think that is 80 years of Leftist propaganda in schools and the media. People did not always think "the gummint oughta do something", but more and more of them have come to think that way as the Left's death grip on the information organs has tightened.

Designed-from-scratch political systems have a poor track record.

Well, if you're an American, you're living in one right now. If a reboot could work in 1776, why not now?

November 14, 2008 at 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Libra said...

Jewish Atheist-

Murder rates by location and time:

Baltimore 1911: 5.8
Baltimore 2006: 43.3

Philadelphia 1911: 4.4 Philadelphia 2006: 27.7

New York 1911: 5.9
New York 1990: 30.7
New York 2006: 7.3

Newark 1911: 4.0
Newark 2006: 37.4

Chicago 1911: 9.0
Chicago 2006: 16.4

Washington DC 1911: 7.8
Washington DC 1996: 81
Washington DC 2006: 29.1

London 1916: .13
England & Wales 1910: .8
England & Wales 1997: 1.4

Singapore 1997: .43

"Indictable Offenses" England & Wales, 1900: 2.4
"Indictable Offenses" England & Wales, 1997: 89.1

In many of our great cities, murders increased by an order of magnitude. Only in New York, where the finance boom priced out the poor are homicide rates down ( the crime all went to Newark and other ring cities). The great cities of the United States collapsed into burned out, dystopian ruins, which look like something out of the late Roman empire ( see The Ruins of Detroit for a small taste - http://detroityes.com/home.htm - but it is the same story in many other cities).

If Philadelphia, Baltimore and DC had the crime rates of Singapore or 1916 London, there would be 2,000 fewer deaths per year. Those cities are getting hit by a September 11th, every single year. These cities are effectively in a state of civil war.

Source for 1911 stats: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F07E5D91E3FE432A25754C0A9649D946395D6CF

For 2006 stats: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_cities_by_crime_rate

And stats from England:
http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp99/rp99-111.pdf

And more stats from 1920:
http://books.google.com/books?id=Poy_16kUIV8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=crime+in+america+fosdick

November 14, 2008 at 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Libra said...

mtraven and Jewish Atheist:

I'm with Leonard - the current situation is not bad enough yet to punch the Red button for the entire United States.

But let's say there was a bill that would make New Hampshire a Special Economic Zone run as a join stock corporation. Under terms of the bill, New Hampshire would pay 10% year taxes to Washington for defense and tribute, but would otherwise get no government aid - ( no pork, no highway money, no welfare money, no grants, no research, no student aid, etc). New Hampshire would not be bound by any federal regulations ( the only caveat being that it couldn't do stuff that harmed other states, such polluting the rivers that run into Massachusetts).

The government structure of New Hampshire would be a joint stock corporation, along the lines that Mencius has proposed. All current voters would receive equal shares. There would be ample severance pay for any government employees who were no longer needed.

Would you support this plan? Why or why not?

November 14, 2008 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous terry north said...

mtraven (and JA):

I'm curious, what would you have conservatives do?

It seems incontestable that progressives have been beating up on conservatives politically for the last 1000 years or so; that trend doesn't seem likely to change in the absence of some sort of catastrophic collapse.

What should conservatives do, particularly if they want to leave a better country for their grandchildren than what they were born into?

November 14, 2008 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I'm curious, what would you have conservatives do?

Conservatives have a very useful role in keeping progressivism responsible. It's counterproductive to oppose welfare, for example, but it was quite useful to get welfare reformed in the 90s. The general trend of progressivism is probably inexorable, but it must be moderated to prevent waste, etc.

Quit fighting to keep the latest group of people (gays, now) from full equality and start fighting to hold progressives to responsible standards. You're never going to get your lily-white free market Robert Heinlein utopia, so why not do something useful like making sure all the fat is trimmed from the upcoming universal healthcare?

The big problem Republicans have now is two pronged: they have abdicated their natural role as a responsible check on Democrats by becoming less responsible; and Democrats have become much more responsible, making it harder for Republicans to take that role. If the Republicans are right about Obama being some kind of pinko commie, there will be plenty of opportunity for them to return to power by fighting his excesses.

Personally, I think y'all are just going to have to wait for the next bad Democrat. Obama's not going to give you much to work with.

November 14, 2008 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

libra:

No, I wouldn't support it, because I think it'd be a disaster for Vermont's citizens.

November 14, 2008 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

(Um, I mean New Hampshire's, obviously.)

November 14, 2008 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

If I may make a 4th comment in a row, the central problem the right faces now is that they have become idealogues. The country overwhelmingly supports some form of progressive taxation, but half the Republican party thinks it's socialism run amock. There's no question that gays are going to have full equality within a decade or two, but conservatives are fighting them tooth-and-claw.

It's just counterproductive. Pick something achievable and work on that instead of throwing a hissy fit that the united states isn't a libertarian or Christianist or monarchist or corporatist paradise.

November 14, 2008 at 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Libra said...

Jewish Atheist-

Imagine you are the CEO of Vermont. You are driven by pure greed. Your only goal is to maximize the share price of Vermont Inc. What would you do?

Perhaps I lack the imagination, but when I run the thought experiment myself, nothing that I think of would be that nefarious. I'd probably borrow from Paul Graham's playbook and try and grow a Silicon Valley. That would be incredibly profitable for the shareholders of Vermont Inc, and also great for the actual residents.

November 14, 2008 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Imagine you are the CEO of Vermont. You are driven by pure greed. Your only goal is to maximize the share price of Vermont Inc. What would you do?

Well, assuming I don't answer to a higher law, I'd kill everybody who was a drain on the economy -- the sick, the old, etc. as expeditiously as possible while maintaining morale. I'd externalize costs as much as possible to outside of Vermont and/or the future. I'd squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of every resident whether they liked it or not and I'd cut wasteful spending on anything leisure-related except what was absolutely necessary to maintain sufficient productivity.

Why do conservatives always forget about things like taking profits now and pushing costs to the future? The federal government's been modeling that behavior for decades. Public corporations, too. Better have better numbers this quarter than ensure the company stays afloat 20 or 30 years from now.

November 14, 2008 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

me: Designed-from-scratch political systems have a poor track record.

anonymous: Well, if you're an American, you're living in one right now. If a reboot could work in 1776, why not now?

Revolutionary America had a fairly unique situation, comparable to the fictional scenario I described. They were physically separated from their host country and had a whole continent that they could treat as unoccupied, and had a populace that was self-selected to favor self-sufficiency. In that situation, it is easy (relatively) to invent from scratch. But a reboot-in-place is more likely to end up like the French Revolution.

I find it weird to be a progressive arguing for conservative values on a (purportedly) reactionary blog, but at my advanced age I am becoming temperamentally conservative -- I am really not eager for major changes in the social system, because of the general conservative principle that any change is likely to be for the worse, and the more drastic the change, the better the odds are that it will be for the worse. So, from a very pragmatic perspective, I favor careful, incremental change -- you know, progress. Boring, I know.

And you conservatives want a revolution. Please consider that in a real revolutionary situation, the old order gets swept away but there is no guarantee that whatever new order emerges is going to be one that you want. Other people have other ideas.

November 14, 2008 at 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Libra said...

jewish atheist-

For the sake of this thought experience let's assume that corporate governance is strong and that your goal as the CEO is really to maximize the share price. Your bonus is structured to prevent him from gaming the short term P/E ratio at the expense of longer term profits. Your bonus will be paid in installments 0,5,10,20 years after you retire based on the share price at those times. This may or may not be a good assumption, I make it solely so that we are only debating one thing at a time.

I'd kill everybody who was a drain on the economy -- the sick, the old, etc. as expeditiously as possible while maintaining morale.

Would you move to a Vermont that was doing this? Do you know anyone who would? Do you personally know anyone who would have high morale if the state was killing off the sick and old? Personally, me and my high tech engineering skills would be fleeing the state as quickly as possible if the state started killing the sick and the old. I can't imagine any American who would put up with this.

Vermont would quickly turn into a ghost town. The share price would drop to zero.

I'm seriously, try and play along with the though experiment. Do you, Jewish Atheist actual believe that killing the sick would be profit maximizing? You might save a little bit of money, but you'd lose the entire tax base.

I'd squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of every resident whether they liked it or not

How would you do this? You mean by raising taxes? Or actually getting out the whips? And again, why wouldn't everyone flee? Why would new businesses move in? Why would people start businesses?

I think it's pretty obvious what a truly profit maximizing CEO would do. The great tax bases in the world are the finance centers ( New York, London) and the high tech centers ( Silicon Valley, Route 128, Seattle). Therefore, I'd try and turn Vermont into one of those regions.

I'd drop the corporate tax rates down to 10% and make the income tax 15%. I'd start an engineering college and poach the smartest students, grad students, and professors from MIT, Stanford, etc. I'd start a couple VC funds to support high tech companies.

I'd expect many high tech companies to either relocate or open up branch offices to take advantage of the low taxes and skilled work force. Vermont Inc would become rich.

The amount I would save from totally cutting off the sick and the old would be rounding error. I certainly would make the social programs more efficient, and try and offload it to charity. But the engineers that I want to move to Vermont are very conscious of social issues, so I would go out of my way not to have bad PR. "Don't be evil" would be the corporate policy of Vermont Inc.

November 14, 2008 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

The government structure of New Hampshire would be a joint stock corporation, along the lines that Mencius has proposed...Would you support this plan? Why or why not?
If I lived in New Hampshire, definitely not. If I lived in Massachusetts or Vermont, I'd laugh and say "don't let the door bang your ass on the way out". Since I live in California, I don't much care.

Please understand that the economy of New Hampster consists of tourism, a few dairy farms, and being a low-tax bedroom community for the high-tech region around Boston. Everything non-quaint there depends on being close to the high-tax, urban, blue, federally-funded center of civilization that contains MIT, Harvard and Mass General. Living in southern NH and commuting in is a good deal if you don't mind the far suburbs, you get the benefits of civilization without having to pay high taxes or live near poor people. It would be a considerably less sweet deal if Massachusetts decided to limit the number of guest-workers it would allow through the border, or imposed tariffs.

New Hampshire is a pefect libertarian fool's paradise, in fact. Many people there delude themselves about their staunch independence from government handouts. Fine. They can cut themselves off and go back to selling pictures of the Old Man of the Mountain if they want.

November 14, 2008 at 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Libra said...

mtraven-

Please understand that the economy of New Hampster consists of tourism, a few dairy farms, and being a low-tax bedroom community for the high-tech region around Boston.

I grew up in northeastern Massachusetts and went to school in New Hampshire. New Hampshire's manufacturing and tech base is as healthy if not more so than the average state. Admittedly, the tech industry is not as big as the route 128 region, but it is still quite strong. Also, if NH was independent, it wouldn't have to pay the federal income taxes, so it could create its own MIT rather than having its tax dollars funneled to Massachusetts via the NSF and DOD. New Hampshire gets about $.71 back for every federal tax dollar spent, one of the lowest rates in the country.

Also, Massachusetts' own tech and manufacturing base is slowly disintegrating. Its economy is based on the universities, finance, and hospital bureaucracy - ie, the Cathedral.

November 14, 2008 at 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Libra said...

mtraven-

Here is GDP broken down by state and sector. Frankly, there's not a big difference between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. NH has a bit bigger emphasis on manufacturing, retail, and utilities (it exports a lot of electricity to Mass). Mass relies a bit more on "professional and technical services". It's not a huge difference either way though. Your argument that NH would have no economy without Mass is completely unjustified.

November 14, 2008 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

libra:

For the sake of this thought experience let's assume that corporate governance is strong and that your goal as the CEO is really to maximize the share price.

Well, okay, as long as we recognize it's an assumption that would rarely be true in the real world.

Would you move to a Vermont that was doing this? Do you know anyone who would? Do you personally know anyone who would have high morale if the state was killing off the sick and old?

Why do we need immigrants to Vermont? I've outlawed contraception and abortion and fertility is skyrocketing.

Personally, me and my high tech engineering skills would be fleeing the state as quickly as possible if the state started killing the sick and the old. I can't imagine any American who would put up with this.

No, no, no. Nobody's allowed to leave. I've installed a border fence and guards ordered to shoot to kill.

I'm seriously, try and play along with the though experiment. Do you, Jewish Atheist actual believe that killing the sick would be profit maximizing? You might save a little bit of money, but you'd lose the entire tax base.

Well, okay, I wouldn't *kill* them, maybe. Not so crudely, anyway. I'd just make sure we didn't provide them any expensive medical treatments and I'd put them up in crappy hospitals.

How would you do this? You mean by raising taxes? Or actually getting out the whips? And again, why wouldn't everyone flee? Why would new businesses move in? Why would people start businesses?

The whips.

I think it's pretty obvious what a truly profit maximizing CEO would do.

If you're lucky enough to get a good one. Dictatorships are always good if you have a great leader.

The great tax bases in the world are the finance centers ( New York, London) and the high tech centers ( Silicon Valley, Route 128, Seattle). Therefore, I'd try and turn Vermont into one of those regions.

Um, then why not govern Vermont the way those places are governed instead of like a worse version of Singapore?

I'd drop the corporate tax rates down to 10% and make the income tax 15%. I'd start an engineering college and poach the smartest students, grad students, and professors from MIT, Stanford, etc. I'd start a couple VC funds to support high tech companies...

The amount I would save from totally cutting off the sick and the old would be rounding error. I certainly would make the social programs more efficient, and try and offload it to charity. But the engineers that I want to move to Vermont are very conscious of social issues, so I would go out of my way not to have bad PR. "Don't be evil" would be the corporate policy of Vermont Inc.


Well I'm glad you recognize that the people you want are mostly social liberals. With that AND "don't be evil" I don't see why you don't just leave Vermont the way it is.

It's like you're trying to create Democratic area success with Republican policies. Sounds like lunacy to me.

November 14, 2008 at 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous Coward said...

If it is the "nanny state", I don't see it as being a leftist growth. Most people, regardless of political ideology, think there "ought to be a law" about something stupid.

Um, dude, the reason people think that is 80 years of Leftist propaganda in schools and the media. People did not always think "the gummint oughta do something", but more and more of them have come to think that way as the Left's death grip on the information organs has tightened.


You are wrong on the point that "People did not always think the government ought to do something."

They have always thought this. Shit, almost every religion is a system of government designed to enforce things the priest thought "there ought to be a law about."

Now, whether you mean "the Federal Government ought to do something" vs "the local government ought to do something" is a different story.

Yes, the trend is for more and more Federal Laws because that makes things more consistent across the United States - at the very least, it facilitates trade. (Plus, it means less rules for citizens to memorize or be aware of when they travel.) It's why global world government of some form is inevitable.

Not that I welcome such a thing!

November 14, 2008 at 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous Coward said...

@ Jewish Atheist

Don't forget to use brainwashing in your regime. People are incredibly gullible and it's very easy to convince them to do something the rest of the world would find reprehensible.

Why try only to maximize profits internally? Why not just train an army and start conquests. You really could be more imaginative :-)

November 14, 2008 at 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous Coward said...

@ Jewish Atheist, again

I almost forgot: genetic engineering. No reason you shouldn't have an army that enjoys perfect sight, perfect hearing, and superhuman strength. Just make sure they stay dumb as rocks and have an unending supply of loyalty. Once you start heading down that path, the rest of the world is going to lose because they'll be limited by their quaint ethics.

Or, if that would require too much investment in R&D, just impose a very aggressive mate selection plan. You'd still end up with soldiers who were superior in almost every way to the populace outside of your area.

And then there are nuclear weapons.

Yes, when things start going down the wrong path, they get really wrong, really fast.

November 14, 2008 at 3:04 PM  
Anonymous terry north said...

Conservatives have a very useful role in keeping progressivism responsible.

As a question, get an answer.

That being said, I don't think any conservatives aspire to being pork-free liberals. For those people who actually believe that conservative principles result in better government, I have yet to hear a more realistic means to that end than what Mencius is proposing.

November 14, 2008 at 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Jewish Atheist asks, why does MM want to throw "all this" away? His unstated assumption is that the high standard of living that Americans enjoy is the result of the current American system of government. That is quite dubious.

As far as I can tell, MM does not wish to tear down and reconstruct American civil society in all of its economic, cultural, technological, and other aspects. He just wants to replace the American system of government. Revolutions and coups-d'etat rarely alter the pre-existing society in all aspects - though Bolshevism and Maoism strove bloodily to do so, most others (including the American revolution of 1776) did not even bother to try.

I suggest that most of the high standard of living that Americans enjoy has very little to do with the structure of the U.S. government, whereas many of the undesirable aspects of our lives are its direct results. The standard of living of a society is directly proportional to its economic productivity. In what ways has the U.S. government caused productivity to increase? We may name far more in which it has obstructed it.

The legal framework that supports a productive economy - laws safeguarding private property, ensuring the freedom to make contracts and the ability to enforce them, and preventing the restraint of trade - represents the residue of a previous governmental order, just as did the retention of most of the English common law in America after the revolution of 1776. We may be thankful for the inertia that has preserved such laws, but should recognize that they are diametrically opposed to the spirit of today's government. They have suffered great erosion since 1933, and that erosion will not only continue but accelerate.

Whether MM's proposals would or would not encourage productivity - and hence an improved standard of living - we're not likely to discover, at least in the immediate future, since there is very little chance of their being implemented, short of the utter collapse of American government in a fashion comparable to that of the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. However, I'm sure that his proposals are intended to create a governmental climate more favorable to productivity.

The same cannot be said for the prevailing direction of the current American political system, which seems set upon giving all the wrong incentives, and destroying rather than creating wealth.

November 14, 2008 at 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Matt Carlin said...

Also, why hasn't prosperity and good society flourished in Somalia?

It certainly has an open market of competing states.

Do you have some reason why it's an exceptionally poor implementation of Patchwork?

November 14, 2008 at 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Matt Carlin said...

(My first post was lost. Darn it)

In the 21st century, the art of corporate design is not a mystery. The corporation is owned and controlled by its anonymous shareholders (if you've ever wondered what the letters SA stand for in the name of a French or Spanish company, they mean "anonymous society"), whose interests in maximizing corporate performance are perfectly aligned. The shareholders select a chief executive, to whom all employees report, and whose decisions are final. In no cases do they make management decisions directly.

I would think the startups would teach you the opposite lesson.

I'm not saying Small is better than Big (in particular, Small can't compete on volume), but it's really obvious that personally accountable (dictatorial) management kicks the crap out of corporate anonymous management in almost every competition.

November 14, 2008 at 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt C said...

Require real estate owners to assess their own property, offering it for sale at the assessed price, and set the tax at a percentage of that price. No muss, no fuss, no IRS. Since no one can live or work without real estate, it should be straightforward to tune this self-assessed property tax (SAPT) to extract the Laffer maximum.

Dear sweet merciful Jesus no. There's no good time interval between assessments. If the interval is small (re-assess as often as you want), owners will pay no tax until sale time. If the interval is large (assess once) you will completely fail to capture market fluctuations in the value of the property. Anything in between creates a hedge game, which is probably unhealthy and certainly warps the true property values. You've basically killed the free market in property.

November 14, 2008 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

terry north,

For those people who actually believe that conservative principles result in better government, I have yet to hear a more realistic means to that end than what Mencius is proposing.

That's a hell of an indictment of conservative principles, if you ask me.


michael s.

Jewish Atheist asks, why does MM want to throw "all this" away? His unstated assumption is that the high standard of living that Americans enjoy is the result of the current American system of government. That is quite dubious.

No, to be precise, my unstated "assumption" is just a fact -- that "all this" exists. Whether it's because of government or in spite of government, I'm saying it's crazy to reboot. You want to gamble that the government is a net drag on the economy, go right ahead.

In what ways has the U.S. government caused productivity to increase?

Government played a pretty big role in the tech boom, right? And more recently, in the bio boom, whose results we'll be feeling for decades or centuries. Government also played an enormous role in making the U.S. an attractive place for the best and the brightest from all over the world to flock to (and of course, to keep ours from leaving.)

I think this comment thread has brought up an issue I don't think I've seen MM mention: that the best and the brightest tend to be liberals who want to live in a country like ours and generally support things like progressive taxation and social liberalism. Hell, just imagine all the Jewish minds you'd lose by having a more conservative country. Even MMs parents would never have stayed here.

November 14, 2008 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

@Libra: New Hampshire's manufacturing and tech base is as healthy if not more so than the average state. Admittedly, the tech industry is not as big as the route 128 region, but it is still quite strong.

You are confused. Sure, New Hampshire has some economic activity that registers in those tables. Most of that is because southern New Hamphsire is within the economic sphere of the greater Boston area. Check out this very interesting map if you don't believe me. That map is instructive, because it shows the real economy is clustered around urban areas and doesn't pay too much attention to state boundaries (not that surprising, since states can't impose tariffs). If you wanted the greater Boston metropolitan region (which would include southeastern NH) to secede and become an independent city-state, that might make a little bit of sense. But New Hampshire by itself is not an interesting economic entity.

Also, if NH was independent, it wouldn't have to pay the federal income taxes, so it could create its own MIT...

Yeah, and if my town of 60,000 people declares its independence, we can have our own MIT too! In fact, why shouldn't there be one in every neighborhood?

The world can support only a certain number of world-class institutions and world-class cities. Natural patterns of growth tend to concentrate resources in these centers. Everything gravitates towards them, which is why despite the high crime figures someone posted, people still want to live in these cities, a fact reflected in their real-estate prices.

You might want to read up on power law distributions some time.

Cities, governments, and universtities are all social technologies for concentrating and making use of resources. They've done that job for thousands of years. Corporations are a relatively new invention for doing something similar. While they do some things well, there's no particular reason to think they can peform the functions of government better than actual governments, and a lot of reasons to think they can't.

Also, Massachusetts' own tech and manufacturing base is slowly disintegrating. Its economy is based on the universities, finance, and hospital bureaucracy - ie, the Cathedral.

Ha. Rumors of the Cathedral's death are somewhat exaggerated. Have you been to Cambridge recently? I have. Both Harvard and MIT have built out enormously over the last 5-10 years -- around MIT, they have started wedging new buildings into courtyards between older buildings, and Harvard is building a huge new campus across the river. If they are dying, somebody forgot to inform them of the fact.

November 14, 2008 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

terry north asks: I'm curious, what would you have conservatives do?

JA gave a good answer to this, but let me add:

- if you are a neoconservative, you should dig a hole and throw yourself in.

- if you are a social conservative, you should move to some benighted red state like Alabama or Utah where your views are popular. Then if you all want to secede and form Jesusland, be my guest.

- if you are a small-government conservative, you should wake up to the fact that the Republican party has been playing you like a $2 banjo for the last 30 years, and you should think about joining the ACLU.

- if you actually interested in conserving something important, you should join the environmental movement and see what you can contribute to the effort to slow down global warming and preserve endangered habitats.

- if you just hate the modern cosmopolitan world, or believe it's going to collapse of its own problems, you should start a survivalist cult and build a compound out in the country somewhere, and learn to live off the grid.

If you are some other kind of conservative, explain yourself and maybe I can come up with some helpful advice for you.

November 14, 2008 at 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Libra said...

Jewish Atheist-

As member of the board, I fire you as CEO. The cost of closing the borders would be significant. Even more so, it would dramatically increase the cost of exports. Perhaps it would still be possible to export milk and Ben & Jerry's, but the border controls would significantly increase the costs. Even worse, you would eliminate the prospect of new companies like Ben & Jerry's being founded. Can you imagine them being whipped into starting the company? How would they do business deals, raise foreign capital, make sales calls on eternal markets? How you the college engineering graduates needed to run the factories? The professors to teach the students? Tourism also would be completely dead. The net result is a dramatic reduction of foreign exchange. The Vermont Dollars that the Vermont Inc paid out to shareholders would be worthless.
The only examples of prison states we have are Cuba and North Korea, which have a fraction of the per capita GDP that Vermont has. Even if you increased the total tax burden from the current 30% to something like 75%, you'd still would lose a ton of money.


The GDP of San Jose is about $120 billion. Let's say I reduce taxes in Vermont the current 30% to 20%. I adopt the healthcare system of Singapore. Singapore has universal coverage, the average person lives five years longer, and yet the government only spends 1% of GDP on healthcare ( compared to 7% in the United States). I would also setup an education system that is far better than San Jose's ( contrary to popular belief, creating great schools is not a hard problem). I'd drop a billion a year to setup a technical university to rival Caltech and MIT. I'd dedicate another $500 million year to start a venture capital industry. Finally, I would open up immigration to high skilled workers from around the world.

With these policies, I'm pretty confident I could raise Vermont's GDP up to $120 billion in ten years. Even with the tax cut, revenue would grow from $6 billion to $24 billion. Despite the additional couple billion spent on healthcare and the university, Vermont Inc would still be gushing cash.

Well I'm glad you recognize that the people you want are mostly social liberals. With that AND "don't be evil" I don't see why you don't just leave Vermont the way it is.

First, Vermont would only attract profitable new residents if it promised a significant improvement in quality of life. Silicon Valley has a great economy, but the cost of living is insane, the urban planning is awful, and quality of schools is often subpar. Any person who moved would see a significant improvement in quality of life ( otherwise they would not move in the first place).

The current Vermont residents would also be enormous beneficiaries. The total revenues of Vermont Inc would be $24 billion. Even if profit margins were only 50% ( I think it would be much higher), that's $12 billion in profit each year. There are 390,000 current Vermont voters who would each be issued shares the date of the conversion. Thus the total profit comes out to $30k, per current voter, per year. That's a pretty sweet windfall.

Thus we have a policy that could make life much better for people around the world who could move to Vermont. It would be insanely profitable for the current Vermont residents. Why not at least try it in one small state?

November 14, 2008 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

K, diddums. . .

First of all, JA and mtraven are bluepill progressives who are trying to convince us to come back to the loving, (s)mothering arms of Nanny and Big Brother.

It's nice of us to try to point out why they're wrong, but really, who gives a shit?

To that regard, I nominate Libra to keep talking to JA -- s/he seems to be at least digging well.

Also -- JA, many of the "best and brightest" are here, posting. And, apart from you and mtraven, most of us are definately not liberals.

and mtraven -- no one was saying the cathedral was dead or dying, only that MA's economy is no longer based on manufacturing anything but bullshit.

matt c.

You misunderestimate. The way it works is

1) your house is always for sale. at no point is it ever not for sale

2) you set a price on your house

3) if at any time someone wants to buy your house at that price they can and will.

4) at tax time, you pay the taxes on the valuation of your house

If people were dumb enough to try to revalue their houses at tax time, enterprising vultures would simply wait for the final time of valuation and snap up as many houses as possible.

It's an elegant method.

November 14, 2008 at 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Libra said...

Cities, governments, and universities are all social technologies for concentrating and making use of resources. They've done that job for thousands of years. Corporations are a relatively new invention for doing something similar.

The city is the primary economic unit. That's why mismanagement of cities is an incredible squandering of wealth. Imagine every software company was legally required to use a co-op structure rather than a joint stock structure. I doubt the software industry would have ever existed. We would never know what we were missing. Since the joint stock form works so much better for tech corporations, why not try it for a few municipal corporations?

I still think New Hampshire would be fine as an independent state, it's not like Massachusetts would throw up trade barriers and cut off a primary source of electricity. And new cities can grow very quickly when their potential is unlocked. When the Pearl River Delta SEZ in China was created, the ShenZhen grew from a small fishing village into a city of 3 million in a mere twenty years. But at any rate, for the sake of argument, we can talk about setting up a special economic zone in an existing Metro, like greater Boston.


The world can support only a certain number of world-class institutions and world-class cities.

True, but I believe at the moment we are significantly underachieving. I think we could create a world class city that combined the crime rates of Singapore with the liberal values of San Francisco. I think such a city would out compete existing cities. Existing cities would be forced to clean up their act, or turn into a backwater.

Ha. Rumors of the Cathedral's death are somewhat exaggerated.

That's what I said. Tech and manufacturing are slowly fading away in Mass. The Cathedral is now the major industry.

November 14, 2008 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Oh yeah,

and mtraven,

learn to read.

November 14, 2008 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Libra --

You're right on about underachieving as far as a lack of quality MIT-like schools. My backwater ass "little" town has what amount to the top three high schools in the country. We have so many kids score perfect on the SATs each year that it hasn't been news since long before my wife and 3 others of her graduating class did back in the 90s (indeed, she didn't even know it was an impressive feat until I [who graduated from a far worse off public school system] told her so -- and even then it took 8 years for her to believe me).

But do we have a top college? Hell, we've only got one really top-notch college in the state for something besides the humanities, and as good as UF is, we still don't have any hard hitters entrenched in any field. You think we'd do better.

But I don't think that's because MIT and Harvard cause a brain drain on Florida -- I think it's because resources are woefully and criminally mishandled. Why do we spend 50% more on a child who will never learn how to read than one who can read at the age of 3? What societal benefit sense does that make?

M

(note, the immediate above example is exactly what is wrong with progessives -- they think that being "nice" has something to do with being "good")

November 14, 2008 at 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Anything in between creates a hedge game, which is probably unhealthy and certainly warps the true property values. You've basically killed the free market in property. - matt c.

Whoa, sounds like the free market in property is pretty fragile. Yet somehow it survives the completely artificial process of assessment by civil servants, who make little attempt to match likely sale prices at all. In comparison, the process of figuring out the likely maximum sale price of your property in the next year and tacking on an extra 10% seems pretty mild. If property values surged in a given area, some people would get bought out, but these would be the people least willing to pay for government services.

Prices for various houses in the region would be available to the public at the local tax office; the only question that would remain would be, could you get the owner to sell for less than the value s/he'd been taxed on by generally be a pleasant buyer. Haggling, and thus transaction costs, would fall. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, all around.

Effects: Make home-buying more transparent. Cause homeowners to make conscious choices between "growing roots" in an area and avoiding taxes. Cause quick falls in property value on the heels of any local tax increase. (To maximize transparency, a government could require tax assessments from everyone in January, while setting tax rates every November. That would increase trust and thus increase that city-state's desirability.) Parcels in high-tax, low-value areas could be carved up for "small footprint" businesses that could still make a profit (like bank outlets, law firms, all sorts of web-based businesses, etc.) City-states compete with each other to have the lowest taxes.

Generally pretty good things.

November 14, 2008 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Curve --

You must have the benefit of teaching smarter kids than me. I just figured he didn't understand the basic premise of how the system would work.

I bow to your superior explanation.

November 14, 2008 at 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they have abdicated their natural role as a responsible check on Democrats by becoming less responsible; and Democrats have become much more responsible, making it harder for Republicans to take that role. If the Republicans are right about Obama being some kind of pinko commie, there will be plenty of opportunity for them to return to power by fighting his excesses.

So the only proper role for conservatives is to be the slave in the back of the progressive chariot, whispering "remember, you are mortal"? Screw that.

If you think Republicans can "correct" or fight Democratic excesses, just look at California. Republicans have been completely unable to halt or even check the crazy excesses of liberalism, and thus the state is going down the tubes faster than a greased pig. This points to the fundamental problem with the idea that Republicans can check progressivism (and indeed, the fundamental problem with democracy) - the Democrats can always import more voters and swamp the "reformer" Republicans.

the central problem the right faces now is that they have become idealogues.

Uh, and the Left hasn't? Or it's not a problem that they're ideologues?

I love the way whenever conservatives try to stick to their principles, this is called "being an ideologue". Surrender to us, and be a good little pragmatist!

The country overwhelmingly supports some form of progressive taxation,

And the country overwhelmingly has it!

half the Republican party thinks it's socialism run amock

It is.

And you conservatives want a revolution. Please consider that in a real revolutionary situation, the old order gets swept away but there is no guarantee that whatever new order emerges is going to be one that you want. Other people have other ideas.

If we reach a point where the old order is intolerable, then why not roll the dice and take our chances?

You are wrong on the point that "People did not always think the government ought to do something."

No, it is manifestly true. There was a revolution in attitudes after FDR.

almost every religion is a system of government designed to enforce things the priest thought "there ought to be a law about."

Which is not the same as saying that the people always want the government (or God) to "do something".

the trend is for more and more Federal Laws because that makes things more consistent across the United States - at the very least, it facilitates trade.

And, not coincidentally, concentrates power in Washington. Yaaay, concentrated power!

(Plus, it means less rules for citizens to memorize or be aware of when they travel.)

Oh yeah, there are hardly any Federal Laws compared to the number of state laws. I have all the Federal laws in a little card I keep in my shirt pocket in case I need to consult them.

It's why global world government of some form is inevitable.

As inevitable as a boot stamping in a human face, forever.

I suggest that most of the high standard of living that Americans enjoy has very little to do with the structure of the U.S. government, whereas many of the undesirable aspects of our lives are its direct results.

Agree.

Also, why hasn't prosperity and good society flourished in Somalia? It certainly has an open market of competing states. Do you have some reason why it's an exceptionally poor implementation of Patchwork?

Obvious answer is "human factors". But then I don't expect the commenters who, apparently in all seriousness, suggested setting up a neo-cameral paradise in Cuba and Ghana will accept the view that not all humans everywhere are suitable material for such social experiments.

You might have some luck imposing neo-cameralism on an already functioning society. On a Third World hellhole, hmmmm, probably not.

November 14, 2008 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Oh hell,

You think I meant that we should use the majority of Cubans to populate and make profitable our experimental neo-cameralist state?

I thought I made that abundantly clear -- Cuba is simply the easiest and closest place to get a hold of.

M

November 14, 2008 at 6:38 PM  
Anonymous terry north said...

mtraven:

if you are a social conservative, you should move to some benighted red state like Alabama or Utah where your views are popular. Then if you all want to secede and form Jesusland, be my guest.

I recall people tried this once before. It didn't seem to work out very well for them. What makes you think it would work now?

if you are a small-government conservative, you should wake up to the fact that the Republican party has been playing you like a $2 banjo for the last 30 years, and you should think about joining the ACLU.

There is a difference between conservatives and policies of the Republican party, which seems to combine the worst aspects of conservative and liberal political theory.

This advice is pretty much the same that Jewish Atheist gave: lose. I suppose I shouldn't have expected any different from a liberal, but I hope you understand the reticence most conservatives would have at taking your advice.

November 14, 2008 at 6:46 PM  
Anonymous terry north said...

Apologies. Somehow this part didn't end up getting quoted:

if you are a small-government conservative, you should wake up to the fact that the Republican party has been playing you like a $2 banjo for the last 30 years, and you should think about joining the ACLU.

November 14, 2008 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Libra said...

mtraven-

BTW, the case for a joint stock state still applies even if the market for world class cities is saturated.

Imagine as CEO of Vermont I run the models and discover it simply won't be profitable to build a university and re-create Silicon Valley. I am stuck with the economy I have. Let's also say I find the current tax burden of 30% is the optimizing amount. Any higher and smart people start leaving for greener pastures. Any lower, and I leave money on the table. I think in reality, the optimal tax rate would be lower than 30%, but we can use 30% for the sake of argument, since it is the current rate. Also, at the starting point Vermont Inc expenses are 30% of GDP.

As CEO, I can increase profits in two ways: 1) reduce expenses without reducing service ( if I reduce service, residents will leave for better states, and my tax base will erode) 2) increase taxes but make a corresponding improvement in resident satisfaction. For instance, if I raise taxes by 5% of GDP but alter health care regulations to lower the cost of health care by a corresponding amount, this is neutral to all residents. The tax increase will not drive away my tax base, because it results in no net increase in the cost of living.


The first thing I do as CEO is adopt the health care system of Singapore. In Singapore, the government spends 1% of GDP and the individuals spend 2% of GDP on healthcare. In the U.S. its 7% and 7%. By adopting the Singapore healthcare system, I save residents 5% of their income, which I can then tax! Vermont Inc spending now falls from 30% of GDP to 24%. The tax rate is now 35%. The quality of life has not been changed.

Second, I notice that if we redo zoning laws and urban planning, we can create more walkable cities. This results in a higher quality of life, but actually reduces transportation expenses. I can raise taxes again! Taxes are now at 40%, quality of life is as good as ever. The relaxed zoning laws also allow housing supply to increase, driving down the price of renting or buying land. Again, I can seize this surplus. Taxes are at 45%, quality of life is still the same.

For education, I notice that many private schools provide superior education for less money. I drop education spending from 15% of GDP to 10%, but spend the money all in the form vouchers - people can send their kids to school wherever they want. Vermont Inc expenditures have now fallen from 24% of GDP to 19%, quality of life is the same.


Finally, there's another portion of current government spending that's pure waste - farm subsidies, homeland security, NASA, housing projects, etc. Again, I can cut much of this. Expenditures are now down to 16% of GDP.

The rest of expenditures - some roads, the remaining money for schools, tribute to Washington to pay for the military - probably can't be cut much further.

In summary, we started with 30% taxes and 30% expenses. We ended with 45% taxes and 16% expenses. Each increase in tax was made with a corresponding improvement in quality of life, making the increase completely neutral to current residents.

Finally, Vermont Inc distributes the profits to all shareholders - ie, the current voters. This is an enormous amount - it's equal to 29% of GDP, about $7 billion. Thus the net result of turning Vermont in a joint stock state is 1) the same quality of life 2) $16,000 per voter in extra pocket change. That's a pretty sweet deal.

November 14, 2008 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

This advice is pretty much the same that Jewish Atheist gave: lose. I suppose I shouldn't have expected any different from a liberal, but I hope you understand the reticence most conservatives would have at taking your advice.

The question you asked was what conservatives should do since they've been losing to progressives for centuries. We're offering some suggestions of what to do while you continue losing. It's not our fault you've picked a philosophy at odds with human nature.

November 14, 2008 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Here is a question to Jewish Athiest and others like him. It's the late twenty-first century. You are in charge of the national government. A small organization of a few thousand people have aquired 64 square miles of land. They decided that they are sovereign and possess a dozen homemade nukes (or equivalent thereof) as a deterrent. Other small organizations of "your" citizens have also done the same thing within your nation-state. Will you send in your SWAT teams or would you recognize these little territories as sovereign microstates?

I will be waiting for your answer.

November 14, 2008 at 10:47 PM  
Anonymous nazgulnarsil said...

libra why would you tax at 45% and then give all but 16% back to the vermont citizens with associated frictional costs? at that point wouldn't you reduce personal income tax and corporate tax even more to make vermont even more competitive further fueling the feedback loop?

November 15, 2008 at 1:49 AM  
Anonymous nazgulnarsil said...

Jewish atheist, it may very well be that self determination is ultimately at odds with human nature (over the long run). If so, i wouldn't consider unmodified humans worth saving.

November 15, 2008 at 1:51 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

This whole thing seems like a retread of your earlier posts on neo-cameralism. Except you've introduced yet ANOTHER neologism. And what does this word "Patchwork" add? How will this degree of decentralization and shrinking the ratio of volume to surface area come about? Who knows!

the Dutch invasion of England (1688)
"the color of UR is and always will be orange - the one revolution which ever was glorious"
You never explained what made you change your mind about that.

As in the late Roman period
So you agree that a republic whose actions were limited by the rule of law was superior to an empire featuring hereditary and hand-picked succession that gave its executive supreme power and reduced its legislature to a glee-club?

increasing public bureaucracy are observed in synchrony
As any student of de Tocqueville or de Jouvenel knows, the rise of bureaucracy coincided with the innovation of "absolute monarchy" that had been out of the reach of the first-among-chiefs that nominally ruled medieval states. That was a positive development for rationalists like Voltaire or Mill, but not for pluralists like Burke or Acton. Though you don't want to admit it, your words scream "rationalist liberal", albeit one indulging in conspicuous outrage.

The combination is an infallible symptom of the great terminal disease of the polity - leftism.
The late Roman Empire was leftist? Seriously?

The basic goal of UR, I don't mind admitting, is to convince people who are now progressives to abandon their delusions
That line was not very convincing. Progressives are free to avoid reading your blog, and you're perfectly aware of the irrational antihistamines that scream NAZINAZINAZI and cause their brains to shut down to either flee in horror or grab a stick to start swinging. You diagnosed that as the problem with conservatism. So why are you throwing yourself completely into something you already stated was counter-productive?

Ancient Greece, medieval Italy
Both of which were characterized by republics, not absolute monarchies (even the author of The Prince had invested his lot in the Republic of Florence and promoted republicanism in Discourses).

If residents don't like their government, they can and should move. The design is all "exit," no "voice."
That seems to be the idea behind Seasteading and much of Critical Review. I have to say I agree.

We reactionaries, when we act locally, would rather think locally as well
Isn't that inconsistent with your occasional advocacy of imperialism?

it does not repeat the constitutional solecisms of feudalism, and nor will it be subject to the same pervasive violence or meet the same demise
What's wrong with feudalism? And feudalism was killed by absolute monarchy, which you advocate here.

In a worst-case scenario, we could end up right back at liberal democracy!
Our liberal democracies have by far the highest standards of living ever known to man, and the far worse systems of totalitarian communism are within living memory.

In the future, the fact that once, you would probably be attacked if you went into Central Park at night, will seem preposterous
I don't think there was ever a time when the ex ante probability was greater than 50% and you should know very well that there's been a lot of gentrification going on in that area, with the underclass being pushed out to places like Buffalo or Newark.

The idea that millions of random people who were not even authorized to be in the country were wandering around, driving gigantic SUVs
Which reminds me that while libertarians are good at dismissing cant about public rail transportation, they fall short when it comes to public roads. THAT is the major cause of death, not violent crime in inner cities (whose victims tend to be violent criminals themselves).

Manhattan
I thought you were going to criticize New York more broadly, as that would include the crappier boroughs. I thought Manhattan was a ritzy place that rich people like to live in. I have to admit I've never been to New York and don't plan on it as I hate big cities.

First, security is a monotonic desideratum. There is no such thing as "too secure." An encryption algorithm cannot be too strong, a fence cannot be too high, a bullet cannot be too lethal.
That sounds a bit like you're trying to deny the existence of trade-offs, which is generally the mark of a crank.

crime and disorder
Those are kind of vague and you should define them. Do heavy-duty psychedelics and industrial death metal not count? Chewing gum and spitting it on the sidewalk?

No cop ever stole my bicycle
They might kill your dogs if you're a mayor, and kill you and try to frame you if you're not. Try to enlist their assistance to deal with local drug-dealing gang-bangers, and get yourself arrested and strip-searched. And if you're a prostitute, boy oh boy. You seem to have some Nixon-era view that the cops are on Our Side against those bad old liberals. Righties in England seem to know better. The English were right to cry foul at the introduction of professional police and a suspiciously French form of governance, as you can read about in Bruce Benson's Enterprise of Law.

Someone would have found a way to construct a firm on this design, and it would have outcompeted the rest of the stodgy old world.
Couldn't that argument also apply to your ideas like Patchwork?

How many Fortune 500 CEOs today are regularly bullied and led by coalitions of their nominal subordinates, as (for just one example) the French monarchy so often was?
What you are deriding sounds like feudalism or aristocracy, a quite admirable system of government. Also, in modern Fortune 500 companies the CEO is to a very large extent a figure-head, as it is nearly impossible for him to really manage the activities of such a large organization, so he defers to the bureaucracy. That is exactly what you seem to hate about the American system of government.

if you want stable government, accept the status quo as the verdict of history
Which means you must accept our "sclerotic Brezhnevism", and if there is a bloody revolt of the antinomians you've just got to accept that to.

And better yet, there is no way for a political force to steer the outcome of succession
I recall Bruce Bueno de Mesquita disagreeing.

nothing comparable to the role of the educational authorities in a democracy
Your claims about the powerlessness of elected officials compared to entrenched career civil-servants seems to be in tension with the importance you place on public opinion.

SKUs
What are those?

this spurious right
All rights are spurious. See the republished edition of The Myth of Natural Rights by L.A Rollins, featuring a preface from your's truly. Buy a copy today!

the basic premise of Roman law: nemo iudex in causa sua. Meaning: "no man can be a judge in his own case."
But that's just what an absolute monarch does for himself. And doesn't this notion conflict with the legal theories of Bruno Leoni (that's not a rhetorical question, I haven't actually read him), which you claimed to base your ideas on when you started blogging?

These political three-card monte tricks, in which sovereign authority is in some way divided, "limited" (obviously, no sovereign can limit itself), or otherwise weakened, in all cases for the purported purpose of securing liberty, have no more place in a Patchwork realm than they do at, say, Apple
Has removing limits on the power of the executive ever worked well for any political system? And didn't you propose requiring the keys of shareholders/boardmembers to be used in conjunction, as with the protections on nuclear missiles? That's a form of divided authority that I think works pretty well.

In reality, no sovereign can be subject to law
But you can have competing authorities with the ability to thwart the ambitions of one another. And I'd say that the intentional design of that into our Constitution has served us far better than most of our contemporaries. That logic is in part why the invisible hand works, but you are recommending that be replaced with glorious monopoly without even showing that monopolies have produced more consumer surplus than oligarchic competition.

the senate did free Augustus
Note that this the beginning of the Roman empire and the decline from their republic. They didn't get to Nero or Caligula by introducing democracy, but by removing their pre-existing legislative power and rule of law (which was made publicly viewable to ensure that the government obeyed it).

Patchwork realms can be expected to enforce a fair and consistent code of laws not for moral or theological reasons, not because they are compelled to do so by a superior sovereign or some other force real or imaginary, but for the same economic reasons that compel them to provide excellent customer service in general
I'm sure Kim Jong Il will see the light of day any time now.

Require real estate owners to assess their own property, offering it for sale at the assessed price, and set the tax at a percentage of that price
Here's a problem: what if I cause my property to be far less valuable to everyone BUT me? Then I can offer it at a very low price and be satisfied that there are no takers. I don't actually have an incentive to make a deal because I don't want my house to be sold, but I do have an incentive to game the system. A more business-like way to go about it might be a head-tax in exchange for the service. To maximize income just set it high and let those who can't pay get squeezed out. This assumes that there really is a patchwork of competing government-providers.

To live on a Patchwork patch, you have to sign a bilateral contract with the realm.
What about the people already born there? That's how governments get most of their subjects.

The realm promises to treat you fairly
Why the hell would they agree to that or follow through?

For example, I suspect that every customer-service agreement will include the right to remove oneself and one's assets from the realm, at any time, no questions asked, to any other realm that will accept the emigrant
The example of totalitarian communism suggests that will not be the case at all.

Which is a more valuable patch of real estate, today: South Korea, or North Korea?
Am I supposed to be happy that at least my tyrannical ruler is in charge of a piss-poor domain? No! I will only be reassurred by evidence about the low probability of a patch degenerating into North Korea, and you haven't actually given it. NK's dictator could elect to do things differently, but he doesn't. South Korea's system of government is in part the result of succesful student protests of the sort you hate (and the South Koreans still work hard, riot hard)

Nothing like Stalinism, for example, is recorded in the history of the European aristocratic era
Artistocracy is superior to absolute monarchy. The latter killed off the former. Stop advocating it.

Because Stalin had to murder to stay in power. . Anyone, certainly any of the Old Bolsheviks, could have taken his place.
The medieval era was pretty rife with assasinations and rebellious nobility. So was the golden age of Italian city-states (Machiavelli was tortured and exiled for his role in the republic). No Soviet premier died violently. The only communist ruler I can think of who did was Romania's.

if by some accident of law and fate there are multiple candidates, they are at least each others' relatives
Those "accidents" were rife and such relations were generally quite tenuous (the rival candidates were frequently major political figures from rival countries).

At the leaves of the tree are computerized weapons, which will not fire without cryptographic authorization.
You identify rampaging crowds as the major problem to be fixed and firing on them as the solution. A great many revolts have succeeded because troops declined to fire on the crowds. Turning off their weapons cannot serve to solve that problem.

Other people's comments to be responded to at a later date, most likely not this Saturday. If you're odd enough that this long block of text did not satisfy your urge for my blathering about Mencius see my most recent post.

November 15, 2008 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger togo said...

All other considerations aside,
doesn't the current economic crisis sort of suggest that the current
New Deal-Great Society-PC/Multicult welfare-warfare state is unsustainable? And the Savior shows no signs of even reducing the warfare component of the monster.

He is even on record calling for
a large increase in active duty personnel. For those who need further details on Obama's dedication to the empire there are plenty at antiwar.com and lewrockwell.com.

P.S. No one should act so faux moronic as to blame the GOP. The GOP has been the sham opposition
to the revolution since 1933-with the exception of 1964. Recall again that Reagan didn't reduce social spending, didn't dismantle any part of the New Deal or Great Society and didn't even try to eliminate the Dept of Education as he had promised.

November 15, 2008 at 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

But you can have competing authorities with the ability to thwart the ambitions of one another. And I'd say that the intentional design of that into our Constitution has served us far better than most of our contemporaries. That logic is in part why the invisible hand works, but you are recommending that be replaced with glorious monopoly without even showing that monopolies have produced more consumer surplus than oligarchic competition.

The Constitution hasn't protected states' rights because the states aren't sovereign, the Supreme Court is, especially when there is a career civil service willing to back up its orders (unlike the Jackson administration, which was filled with his handpicked appointees).

I don't think Patchwork is a monopoly. Most of the criticism of Patchwork center on the rulers building fences and banning emigration. But do you think hotel owners would do the same thing, even if they could? If a weird loophole in the law allowed a hotel to extend a guest's stay until they ran out of money, would a hotel corporation do that? Maybe an individual proprietor would, but the managers of a Patchwork city-state are responsible to a board representing shareholders who live elsewhere. I don't know enough about corporate management to know the means by which shareholders control BoDs, which control management. So I don't know if this would work. The point is, the Patchwork proposal is different from Moldbug's thoughts on absolute monarchy. He has an emotional longing for absolute monarchy; he merely proposes privatization of states.

Here's a problem: what if I cause my property to be far less valuable to everyone BUT me? Then I can offer it at a very low price and be satisfied that there are no takers. I don't actually have an incentive to make a deal because I don't want my house to be sold, but I do have an incentive to game the system.

I've thought about that too, but I don't think it would happen too often. Under the status quo, homeowners can reduce their tax assessments in some ways now, by removing rooms from their house and the like. Never heard of anyone doing it. Under self-assessed tax, you could poison your land, say by polluting your own soil, but if this leached into groundwater I assume it would violate state law (Moldbug is very skeptical of environmentalism but good customer service seems pretty demanding of a good environment). You could build your house in an eccentric manner that would make it attractive only to you, but some buyers seem to like oddball houses ... and some buyers buy with every intention of razing every last doghouse on a piece of property and building condos.

"The realm promises to treat you fairly"

Why the hell would they agree to that or follow through?

Sounds like you should have phrased this as a statement, a la: 'I don't believe that city-states would really compete for customers the way hotels do.' That is, by providing security, transparency, predictability (i.e. honesty), and cleanliness. The latter may be why Singapore has banned spitting on the street. But other city-states may want to attract other types. Some would appeal to people by allowing sex boutiques; some by banning them.

I don't like putting words in your mouth, but you've been around here long enough that I don't think this is a question any more.

"For example, I suspect that every customer-service agreement will include the right to remove oneself and one's assets from the realm, at any time, no questions asked, to any other realm that will accept the emigrant"

The example of totalitarian communism suggests that will not be the case at all.

I can't think of any totalitarian regimes the size of city-states. Nor can I think of any that became totalitarian all of a sudden. Fences don't go up over night and it can be hard to find good mercenaries. As a regime became totalitarian it would hemorrhage residents and investors. I have no doubt that there would be a miniature North Korea from time to time.

But again, I'm still unclear on some of the stock-exchange-type details of the Patchwork. Do stocks in a city-state trade on the own bourse, everyone else's, or everyone's? Where does the board of directors meet? I think the system would work best if the board were fairly large relative to the number of shareholders, but that's sort of a gut reaction.

November 15, 2008 at 7:33 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Just Mencius showing off again. You think I have time to decode this crap?

November 15, 2008 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous anspirit said...

JA Wrote

No, no, no. Nobody's allowed to leave. I've installed a border fence and guards ordered to shoot to kill.

Installation of a strict border control mechanism is a very expensive, multi-year project. Very few countries have real border control. US spent billions on its border and it didn't help at all. So, if a city-state would turn prison, citizens will have years to leave, before the border will be really closed

November 15, 2008 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

You underestimate me. We'll build the fence to keep out all the dirty Mexicans. Only after the fence is built will it be used to keep people in.

November 15, 2008 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

robert:

Why would I let a hostile territory holding nuclear weapons to have sovereignty within my own country? I'm not crazy.

November 15, 2008 at 2:16 PM  
Anonymous anspirit said...

JA wrote
You underestimate me. We'll build the fence to keep out all the dirty Mexicans. Only after the fence is built will it be used to keep people in.
You underestimate the intelligence of people big time. In the case of non-democratic profit seeking city-state, people will very quickly figure out that super-expensive border control project doesn't make sense to keep few Mexicans out.

November 15, 2008 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

JA

You don't understand the point and purpose of the BOD. Why would they leave you in power? I would expect at the point of radical price drop you find yourself out of a job or, in some cases, quite dead.

November 15, 2008 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Jewish Athiest said:
Why would I let a hostile territory holding nuclear weapons to have sovereignty within my own country? I'm not crazy.

So you have decided to send in your SWAT teams into territories with nuclear deterrents? You certainly are crazy.

Remember, all they did was declare their own sovereignty and seceded from your nation-state. What do you think is going to happen?

November 15, 2008 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Jewish Athiest, To help you understand why I think you are crazy for sending your national enforcers into territories with nuclear deterrents, I am going to ask a question.

If a nuclear ballistic missile submarine launches its nuclear missiles, did it succeed in its mission?

November 15, 2008 at 3:04 PM  
Anonymous The Ashen Man said...

My goodness, the proggies have come over all Burkean since November 5. How can
conservatives be revolutionary?
, they ask. Well, there are 2 options for the reactionary in a thoroughly progressive society: either become a pathetic National Review type, forever trying to wind the clock back 10 years, or else have a clear idea of the type of society you would like to restore and be willing to do whatever is necessary to do so. There is no point in our being Burkean in a social democracy; at a certain point we have to fight our conservative temperaments and admit that there is nothing left worth conserving.

Tggp, I'm pretty sure Mencius meant the Ukrainian Orange revolution in his earlier post (the revolution of those, incidentally, who called Stalinists 'conservative'). And as regards states, neocameral or other, laying claim to people who are born in their territory - their parents accept the contract of citizenship or residency on their behalf, until they are old enough to renounce it if they so choose.

November 15, 2008 at 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

I've had this argument with JewishAtheist in this same space in the past but I'll give it another go.

I understand why you would oppose Mencius' plan for a new society; the United States is the most successful large nation in history. Present day, it's the most technologically advanced, wealthiest, etc.

On the other hand, people who you sympathize with and who I have nothing but disdain for have been working for 140 years to make changes to the United States that will inevitably make the country worse in many many ways (ways in which Mencius points out very skillfully). At all of these points, the United States could have been fairly described in the same way as today: advanced in technology and living conditions beyond all other countries. Why is it then that all of the changes that got us from there to here are sacrosanct? Why is it that you'll advocate more and more changes ad infinitum?

Technological progress (and subtle but extremely effective propaganda) has masked a massive decline in the quality of governance in this country and the countries that were conquered and had governments installed by this country.

The problem is how to go from here back to there when we all know that there led us here. Clearly, massive change is needed because the trajectory of modern government is clear (and horrifying).

November 15, 2008 at 6:31 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

G.M. Palmer: and mtraven -- no one was saying the cathedral was dead or dying, only that MA's economy is no longer based on manufacturing anything but bullshit.

What a depressingly moronic statement. I can't even imagine what goes on in the head of someone who can say something like that. Rebuttal seems superfluous; but what the hell: At least two major pharma corporations (and we all admire corporations here, right?) have opened major research labs in Cambridge in the past decade: Novartis, and Pfizer. Genzyme has had a manufacturing plant in Allston longer than that, and there are dozens of smaller biotech companies in the area. So that's just one industry that is in MA and is presumably producing something other than bullshit.

It seems to me that some of you people are so bought into MM's ideas about "the Cathedral" that you reject all intellectual activity whatsoever. That's pretty sad, although in keeping with the conservative tradition.

November 15, 2008 at 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter Thiel, the founder of Paypal, reveals in a recent Forbes article how the investment bank meltdown of the past few months demonstrates the existence of the Polygon. It's one of the most explicit acknowledgments of the Polygon I've seen in the mainstream press.

http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/11/05/thiel-gop-weakness-oped-cx_pr_1106robinson.html

Peter's thesis is that the most Republican investment banks suffered the most.

"Why? Why did the most Republican banks suffer mortal wounds while the least Republican survived? "I have three explanations," Peter said. "I'm not sure which one is right, but I am sure at least one of them is."

1. A hostile federal bureaucracy. Despite almost eight years when a Republican has occupied the White House, the bureaucrats who staff the regulatory agencies, the Treasury and the Fed remain unfriendly to the GOP. Consciously or not, they proved unforgiving toward Bear, Lehman and Merrill but sympathetic toward Morgan and Goldman.

2. An inability to accept reality. At the most Republican institutions, the principals believed in free markets--only too devoutly. Even Milton Friedman would never have argued that markets work perfectly all the time, only that they work a lot better than government intervention. But at Bear, Lehman and Merrill, folks became convinced that the markets possessed almost magical properties. When trouble started, they literally couldn't believe it.

3. Uncoolness. All the investment banks recruited at the same elite universities, and political correctness at such schools is profound. (If you want proof, just look at the last election cycle. The faculty at Harvard contributed to Democrats over Republicans by a ratio of 93 to seven.) At Yale, Berkeley and Wharton, the Democratic Party is cool; the Republican Party, decidedly not. The least Republican investment banks were therefore able to snap up the best talent, leaving the most Republican firms to pick through the leftovers. "In big financial institutions," Peter said, "it could be that a Republican profile now correlates with technocratic incompetence."

A hostile federal bureaucracy, an inability to accept reality, or acute uncoolness."

November 15, 2008 at 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

"Clearly, massive change is needed because the trajectory of modern government is clear (and horrifying)."

Let me agree, and clarify, and elaborate. I say massive change is needed in the way opinion makers perceive the world. I am not saying the change needs to be Moldbuggian; I am not sure what particular kind of change their needs to be in our institutions, procedures, etc. I'm talking about changes in thinking.

My prediction is that there will be no big upheaval, no moment of truth where everyone learns who they can trust. The MSM will continue to treat black-perpetrated hate crime as simple robberies gone awry (like they did recently in the murder of the Marine sergeant and his wife; apparently money was the motive in her rape as well). Social security will break, and its would-be beneficiaries paid off by confiscatory taxation of whatever demographic group the mob has chosen to blame that year. People will increasingly choose where to live on the basis of their perception of crime risk. The US military will continue to be a bastion of racial harmony as long as they continue to use IQ tests; when the left figures out how important these tests are, they will ban them, and the military will tear itself apart just as our cities have.

Sounds ugly, but America has survived upheavals in the past. At the end of it all, books will be written with the same content as The Bell Curve and The Blank Slate, only the second time around, the authors will be celebrated as great original thinkers; Godwin's Law need not be invoked at all in describing them. People will wonder how anyone could have missed the obvious nature of these truths. Progressivism will not die, as such, nor will it apologize, but the Racialist Phase of Leftism (approximately 1965-2015) will come to be seen as an embarrassment.

Why the optimism? Several reasons, good and bad.

1. It feels better than pessimism. An important reason to me, but arguably meaningless to others.

2. The Human Genome Project will yield a whole lot of evidence - way too much for the blankslaters to explain away. It will demoralize and divide them; they will turn on each other like bonobos on a reduced calorie diet. New conspiracy theories will have to be created to account for science's recalcitrant insistence on describing a reality the leftists don't see. The left will be discredited by this sort of thing for years - in way that may cross the tipping point. (The tipping point is when a certain fact begins getting taught in public high schools.)

3. Obama has a pretty narrow road to travel, maybe to narrow for his particular motorcade.
If he hires too many of his community organizer friends, the de facto corruption that underlies victimology will remain largely below the surface. But when the independent media (the web, some irritable tabloids, etc.) get a hold of a couple of the iceberg's tips, the feeding frenzy will do to Obama what previous presidential scandals have done. (Remember when stuff like the Bert Lance Affair was considered a big scandal?)
If he hires mostly wonky types with friendly ideologies but few connections, he'll be abandoned as a sellout by his base. Expectations of him are gloriously high and will fall with quite a thud.

November 15, 2008 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

robert:

Obviously if I didn't think the SWAT teams could take out the nukes before they were launched, I wouldn't send them in.


steve johnson:

On the other hand, people who you sympathize with and who I have nothing but disdain for have been working for 140 years to make changes to the United States that will inevitably make the country worse in many many ways (ways in which Mencius points out very skillfully).

Um, no. For 140 years progressives have been making changes that made the country better (for the most part) with conservatives railing against each one as the end of the universe as we know it. Frankly, you guys have a pretty bad track record.

At all of these points, the United States could have been fairly described in the same way as today: advanced in technology and living conditions beyond all other countries. Why is it then that all of the changes that got us from there to here are sacrosanct? Why is it that you'll advocate more and more changes ad infinitum?

It's not just random change, it's change in a particular direction. Change towards increased wealth for all and change towards making the motto of the founders ring true: that all men are created equal. (No, I'm not talking Harisson Bergenon absurdities here -- just that people shouldn't be discriminated against for arbitrary attributes like race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc.)

Clearly, massive change is needed because the trajectory of modern government is clear (and horrifying).

It's apparently "clear" to you and MM, but I just don't see it. Maybe I'm the blind one, but I just don't see looking back through history the conservatives yelling "Stop!" ever having been right. (In broad strokes, obviously. Not every progressive initiative has been correct at every moment.)

November 15, 2008 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Jewish Athiest said:
Obviously if I didn't think the SWAT teams could take out the nukes before they were launched, I wouldn't send them in.

Ah, so now you understand. The possession of such effective WMD's in the hands of small groups of individuals would effectively make them sovereign. If you actually noticed current trends in twenty first century technology, such WMD's (homemade by desktop fabricators of course) would become increasingly common in the late twenty first century. Thus killing off the current bureacratic nation-states that exist today.

As more and more of your citizens break away from your nation-state and form their own micro-states thanks to these superweapons, the less and less tax revenue is collected by your national government. Without such revenues, your governmental power-structure withers on the vine.

November 15, 2008 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger BarbarianPhilosohper said...

Brilliant, Beautiful and inspiring, apply capitalism to government.

November 16, 2008 at 1:31 AM  
Anonymous semtex said...

"... but I would argue instead that it's germ is fundamentally rooted in Christianity itself: turn the other cheek, the brotherhood of man, etc. Jesus was nothing if not a radical, seeking the overthrow of the established order."

See Norman Cohn's 'The Pursuit of the Millennium': http://books.google.com.au/books?id=tDVaYvh4qj0C

Goes back to the Jews (if not probably further).

Progressives are nothing more than millenarianists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millenarian) without a god.

November 16, 2008 at 6:30 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

I think this comment thread has brought up an issue I don't think I've seen MM mention: that the best and the brightest tend to be liberals who want to live in a country like ours and generally support things like progressive taxation and social liberalism.

Nonsense, JA! MM has often made the point that this is exactly what makes progressivism so powerful and insidious. To take one of many, many examples, he wrote in April 2007:
My beef with progressivism is that for at least the last 100 years, the vast majority of writers and thinkers and smart people in general have been progressives. Therefore, any intellectual in 2007, which unless there has been some kind of Internet space warp and my words are being carried live on Fox News, is anyone reading this, is basically marinated in progressive ideology.

Perhaps this might slightly impair one's ability to see any problems that may exist in the progressive worldview.

November 16, 2008 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

robert said: If you actually noticed current trends in twenty first century technology, such WMD's (homemade by desktop fabricators of course) would become increasingly common in the late twenty first century.
Oh, desktop fabricators are going to be capable of making nuclear weapons? How is that going to work, are they going to pull U-235 out of thin air?

The level of sheer nonsense in these comments is overwhelming. Maybe you should get the basic facts about the world straight before you go about reinventing it.

Now, if you were talking about biological weapons, you would be somewhat right, except that desktop technology for making those will be here a lot sooner than 2050. However, such weapons are quite unsuitable as a means of strategic deterrence, and would be even more so for the smaller states you seem to like. Ie, it's conceivable that China (say) could use bioweapons on the US if they wanted to, without worrying about infecting their own populace. But (to continue with our New England theme) could Manchester NH use them on Boston? Not very likely.
More fundamentally: do you really think a world in which every duchy, principality, amd motorcycle gang has access to WMDs would be a good thing? Why? On the contrary, the existence of such weapons is a powerful argument in favor of strong, centralized states with the power to repress small breakaway groups. The fewer organizations that have accces to them, the better.

I also don't understand why you folks think small states are any better, or more likely to arise, than large ones. In the corporate world there are powerful forces of consolidation at work, and we have Starbucks and Walmart rather than the local independent equivalents. What makes you think the same economies of scale and management techniques wouldn't apply to corporate governments? Furthermore, while I might prefer a smaller state because it is theoretically more democratically responsive, you folks don't believe in democracy, so what difference is it to you whether your corporate owner is the size of New Hampshire or the size of the United States? And how do you stop New Hampshire and Massachusetts from merging and forming NewEngCo?

November 16, 2008 at 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question you asked was what conservatives should do since they've been losing to progressives for centuries.

Centuries? Just how far back do you date progressivism? Even 100 years is a stretch in my book. There weren't a meaningful number of "progressives" in this country until 1933.

It's not our fault you've picked a philosophy at odds with human nature.

Given that "progressive" ideas haven't been around all that long, and have been victorious politically for an even shorter amount of time, it's a bit of a stretch to say that human nature demands progressivism.

Very few countries have real border control. US spent billions on its border and it didn't help at all.

You are assuming that the gov't actually wants to control the border, and the money being spent is actually going towards this purpose. Neither is true.

For 140 years progressives have been making changes that made the country better (for the most part) with conservatives railing against each one as the end of the universe as we know it. Frankly, you guys have a pretty bad track record.

The fact that the suicide cult known as liberalism hasn't destroyed the nation yet is evidence of the strength of the nation. Might take a few more decades for liberalism to drive the country completely into the ground, but we'll get there (not that the liberals will ever admit it's their fault).

Change towards increased wealth for all and change towards making the motto of the founders ring true: that all men are created equal.

Um, they mean equal before the law not equal economically.

And if progressives are trying to move towards increased wealth for all, how do we explain the fact that income inequality has been on the rise since 1970?

The level of sheer nonsense in these comments is overwhelming. Maybe you should get the basic facts about the world straight before you go about reinventing it.

Yup. And never mind that even if these geniuses in their little city states somehow happily cobbled a few nukes together, they would not have survivable delivery systems or C3I systems (which are, um, difficult and expensive to create to say the least).

I also don't understand why you folks think small states are any better, or more likely to arise, than large ones. In the corporate world there are powerful forces of consolidation at work, and we have Starbucks and Walmart rather than the local independent equivalents. What makes you think the same economies of scale and management techniques wouldn't apply to corporate governments? Furthermore, while I might prefer a smaller state because it is theoretically more democratically responsive, you folks don't believe in democracy, so what difference is it to you whether your corporate owner is the size of New Hampshire or the size of the United States? And how do you stop New Hampshire and Massachusetts from merging and forming NewEngCo?

Exactly. I think we've asked this question before, and never got a good answer. If you can run a "for profit" city, why wouldn't a "for profit" state or "for profit" nation be even more profitable? Economies of scale, and all that.

November 16, 2008 at 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Last anonymous, whom I'll call For Profit Nation until I am corrected, raises a goodpoint. While for-profit nations may be as profitable (or more) than for-profit city-states, they defeat the goals of the Patchwork: increases in prosperity and stability and reductions in crime (while maintaining civil rights, and roasting marshmallows over the cheery bonfire of political rights).

FPCSs must treat their people well or they lose them to nicer places. JA has proposed an East German-style way an FPCS ruler could prevent this; a couple of us don't buy that it would really work. But an FPN would naturally have much higher exit costs, which could defeat the power of the Desirable Citizen to force good government.

Is government -> business terms:
a democratic state is nominally a co-op (managed by its customers) and really a collective (managed by its employees);
a for-profit nation is an unregulated corporate monopoly;
a for-profit city-state is a corporation in an environment of imperfect competition (aka "monopolistic competition", a term I don't really like).

What is it that stops monopolies from forming? I don't know how Moldbug would answer. My answer is admittedly weak:

Either nothing but inertia would prevent the city-states from forming into big ol' countries like globs of olive oil floating in balsamic vinegar, and competition would be replaced by monopoly, and the Singapores would disappear and be replaced by, y'know ... something like RoboCop or something....

Or the poltical culture would prevent this. A lot of standards of behavior are placed on people (and companies) by society, rather than by the state. What prevents you from buying a videocassette that won't fit your VCR? Business practices. VHS is the standard, and AFAIK it wasn't dictated by any government.

If people move to pro-Patchwork stances, presumably they agree with Moldbug that city-states are the best way to do things. So stockholders avoid investing in over-large corporate governments. Maybe, corporate raiders come along and break up big for-profit states, and sell off chunks of them. Maybe, as an FPCS grows and starts attracting other city-states to its globule, the best residents usually get uneasy, and start moving away. Then the stockholders get uneasy, and the price falls.

Anyway, I'm not sure if this would work. I can't stand the idea of a for-profit country (or an unregulated corporate monopoly either, which is why I more or less agree with Adam Smith on "trust-busting through laissez faire" ... which may not work for governments).

November 16, 2008 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Paypal anonymous:

Either Mencius is Peter Thiel or Mr. Thiel has been reading his Mencius. Either is pretty all right, though if MM is PT, I want to know what happened to paypal billpay.

mtraven:

I was explaining someone's post to you.

November 16, 2008 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Nonsense, JA! MM has often made the point that this is exactly what makes progressivism so powerful and insidious.

I know that's HIS hypothesis, but I disagree. I find the hypothesis that most Western intellectuals are progressives because progressivism makes sense simpler and more plausible.

November 16, 2008 at 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While for-profit nations may be as profitable (or more) than for-profit city-states, they defeat the goals of the Patchwork: increases in prosperity and stability and reductions in crime (while maintaining civil rights, and roasting marshmallows over the cheery bonfire of political rights).

We already know that a low-crime, prosperous, continent-sized nation is possible, because such a nation has already existed: the United States prior to (say) 1960. Other examples include Canada and Australia. What reduces prosperity and increases crime is not the size of the nation, but how it is governed. It is not intuitively obvious that a "for profit" USA would be worse from the standpoint of peace and prosperity than a patchwork of city-states across the former USA.

an FPN would naturally have much higher exit costs, which could defeat the power of the Desirable Citizen to force good government.

If we accept this as true, we still have to ask whether the higher profitability of the FPN would outweigh these exit costs. If it costs me $3000 to leave the country but my annual salary is $5000 higher than in any other country I might move to, do I still want to leave?

November 16, 2008 at 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

My alternate suggestion (which I will try to keep brief) is a riff on another Moldbug suggestion: old-fashioned monarchy.

A caveat: I'm using "monarchy" loosely. I don't mean either of the points of the false dichotomy of "titular monarchy" (blech!) or "absolute monarchy" (yipe!). I'm talking about a hereditary executive, not necessarily a country with only one of them.

Okay, so, the proposal, in brief:

I. Do away with directly-elected executives. Fill the Presidency and all governorships with nobles selected by primogeniture.

II. Revert the US Senate to election by state legislatures.

III. Elect the US House and state legislatures from a limited franchise consisting only of net taxpayers and veterans.

IV. Cut political parties out of the process entirely. Require people to make a money depost to get on the ballot; return the deposit to the candidate if they get a certain fraction (5 or 10%) of the votes. Don't label party affiliation or anything else on the secret ballot.

V. Give power over legislative agendas to the executive. Floor managers would be appointed by and responsible to the executive. (Vetoes would almost never be necessary.)

VI. Select the Federal judiciary this way: have each judicial vacancy filled by appointment. The official doing the appointing would be a randomly-selected governor, who could select anyone from a different state. (Maybe a panel of law school deans would be allowed to reject nominees if they found them unqualified; better yet, come up with a set of qualifications in terms of years of experience, bar exam scores, etc., which would limit the choice of appointees beforehand.)

November 16, 2008 at 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Of course, the USA doesn't really have any nobles. So where to get them? Of course, this is all a thought experiment, so I figure I'll keep riffing:

Allow people to apply for noble status. Only married citizens need apply (and each couple would be get a collective ranking). Rank all applicants on IQ, physical health, and citizenship. Measure citizenship mainly on tax-deductible contributions (I can't stand the income tax but at least it provides useful information), but put on big citizenship penalties for infractions and misdemeanors (and total disqualification for felonies). Race, gender, income, and education would play no part (because they are irrelevant, IMHO) and artistic and other subjective contributions would play no part (because they are too subjective).

Then take the top 1000 families by rating. They'd all get noble status and 51 of them, randomly selected (again!) would become rulers. Upon the death of each ruler, rulership would pass to the eldest healthy child (for the first generation I think I'd have a William-and-Mary style corulership).

I'm a little tongue-in-cheek with this, because it would never happen, but I do think it would be a net good if the devilish details were sorted out (like how to numerically evaluate health). (Sort of the same attitude Black Sea had toward his "Four Votes" proposal.)

November 16, 2008 at 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Jewish Atheist writes:

"...the best and the brightest tend to be liberals who want to live in a country like ours and generally support things like progressive taxation and social liberalism."

If this be true why do not the best and brightest flock to the European social democracies in even greater numbers than they are present here? Why are not Sweden, Germany, and France the economic leaders of the world rather than the United States of America - which has less redistributive taxation, and is more socially conservative, than they are?

A hint: this is a less, rather than more egalitarian society than are those of western Europe. Merit is rewarded here more generously.

Amidst all the bleating from the left about rising economic inequality in the United States it is seldom noted that the reported inequality is not the result of abject deprivation amongst the poor, but of the great growth in the wealth of the rich. In the United States the poorest 10 per cent on average earn 39% of the median income. In Sweden and Finland the poorest 10 per cent on average earn 38% of the U.S. median income. Accordingly, the American poor earn about as much as do the poor in two of Europe's most egalitarian social democracies.

What this should tell us is that attempts to tax high earners at higher rates, as believers in 'progressive' taxation advocate, may well bring down the incomes of the top one or two per cent, but it will not improve the earnings of those on the bottom - and it will drive the 'best and brightest' members of society to move to places where their labors will be rewarded. Relatively low marginal tax rates attract, rather than repel, such people. The United States illustrates this. So, within the European Union, does Ireland, which used to be one of the poorest European countries and is now one of the most prosperous.

Unfortunately, the trend is now against the very policies that have previously made America prosperous. Just as I earlier posted, these reflect a previous political order; to the extent their effect is still felt, it is the result of the same sort of inertia that preserved most of the English common law in this country long after the American revolution.

The next few years will show the folly of trying to finance increased social welfare expenditures by taxing the top 5% more highly. We already have a tax structure that is quite 'progressive' and excessively dependent upon high-income taxpayers. Increased rates will not yield the revenues their advocates expect. The incomes of the very rich fluctuate far more than do those of middle- and low-income taxpayers. There will be no capital-gains tax revenues if there are no capital gains - no dividend-income tax revenues if there are no dividends. Both these sources of income, and hence of tax revenue, are highly rate-sensitive. One may decide not to realize a capital gain - if one does not, there is no tax due. If owners of a corporation decide it does not yield them an acceptable return to pay dividends to themselves, they will cut or eliminate dividends. In any event, the ability to realize capital gains depends upon there being realizable gains. The ability to pay dividends depends upon there being actual corporate earnings from which to pay them. In a recession the likelihood of such circumstances is markedly reduced. The current economic downturn will disproportionately affect - and has already affected - higher-income taxpayers, and hence will mean lower tax revenues.

The European social democracies achieved more economic equality at the expense of their overall prosperity. At times when the U.S. unemployment rate was 4.5% or lower, their average unemployment rates were in the range of 10%. Even now, the U.S. unemployment rate is a relatively modest 6.1%. Social democratic policies and more extensive regulation have, moreover, not spared those countries from the economic panic of the past two months. In just about all of them, financial asset deflation has been even more severe than it has been here. Compare the fall of the Dow Jones or S&P averages with those of the European indices.

Those who want the U.S. to follow the European path exemplify the reasoning described by Nock, when he noted that there are those who believe that if a spoonful of prussic acid will kill you, a quart of it is just what you need to put you in blooming good health.

November 16, 2008 at 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

In government -> business terms, the state I advocate would be sort of a family-owned hotel chain with a formalized process whereby the hotel manager would not change customer service policies without the consent of his best guests (i.e, those who pay their bills on time). A family would have a monopoly on chains in their area.

All the hotel chains would be organized into a big trade association, with loose but enforced rules for how they all give customer service.

Unlike many around here, I do retain some faith in constitutions and courts with powers of judicial review. I think the main problem with the way the US Supreme Court is composed is that Presidents are more politicized and activist than the founders wanted them to be, a consequence of political parties, popular indirect voting, and unrealistic expectations for Federal intervention (e.g. "When is the President going to fix the economy?" and other questions from B- civics students).

While law interpretation (and constitutional review) would be in the hands of courts, I'm thinking my noble class would have the power of Federal constitutional amendment. (Haven't worked out which ones would be involved in amending state constitutions.)

As far as defense forces go, I see no reason to modify Madison's ideas too much. Basically, the Royal President would command all the professional (paid) soldiers, and a Noble Governor would command all the volunteer (unpaid) in that state. So there's more of an oligopoly on force than a monopoly. (Other state monopolies would be constitutionally prohibited, if the nobles had any sense. No central banks, post offices, monopoly schools, or any of that nonsense.)

So basically, I have created a bizarre hybrid of impeccably republican ideas from colonial American and glued them to the arch-conservative ideas of the old liberal aristocrats of Europe. It is up to the reader to decide if these ideas as sterile as a mule, or as fertile, intelligent, and friendly as a hand-raised feral puppy, or if they are just implausible, like the dragon-donkeys in the last Shrek movie.

November 16, 2008 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

mtraven said:
Oh, desktop fabricators are going to be capable of making nuclear weapons? How is that going to work, are they going to pull U-235 out of thin air?

That's why I said WMD's in general. And you don't need U-235 or Pu-239 for a bomb trigger if it is a pure fusion bomb. As for bioweapons, they are mainly effective against Third World countries, at least for now. Nanite weapons are another matter.

mtraven said:
More fundamentally: do you really think a world in which every duchy, principality, amd motorcycle gang has access to WMDs would be a good thing? Why? On the contrary, the existence of such weapons is a powerful argument in favor of strong, centralized states with the power to repress small breakaway groups. The fewer organizations that have accces to them, the better.

As long as the WMD makes it easy for small organizations to massacre the enforcers of the central state, the central state dies. The central state can't repress anything if its infrastructure and its enforcers are destroyed. The "strength" of the strong national state is its enforcers and their supporting infrastructure. Kill the enforcers and there is no "strong" in the strong national state.

November 16, 2008 at 3:47 PM  
Anonymous LIbra said...

The main problems I see with MM's proposals are:

1) Keeping the military loyal to the corporate management

2) Preventing management or large shareholders from ripping off the average shareholder.

3) Multi-polar politics tend to be very unstable and violent.

4) The unknowns of for-profit management. I'm 90% sure it would work pretty well, but since we've just thrown away the vote, their is no way to go back if we're wrong.

That said, I do think that a system that combined freedom of movement/exit with for-profit management, would maximize customer service and efficiency. There would be a huge, Pareto optimal gain, of switching to such a system.

Here's my modified version of MM's plan:

Divide the government into three branches: the military, the Supreme Court, and the Trust.

The head of the military and the head of the justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by a citizens council. The council members are appointed for a one year term. Members are chosen by a combination of tests, lottery, and a secret, unpredictable elections.

The Trust is a for-profit corporation that is the property manager of the United States ( or perhaps just New Hampshire for starters). Its revenues are rent ( ie taxes). The big difference between my plan and MM's plan is that the Trust must obey the law, and does not get to judge itself in cases. The Supreme Court judges all cases involving the Trust, the charter of the Trust, and contracts between the Trust and the citizens.

The shares in the Trust are distributed as follows: 50% of the shares are non-transferable, non-voting, preferred, dividend paying stock. These shares are given evenly to all citizens. Upon death of a shareholder, shares are returned to the Trust and then reissued to citizens turning 20 years of age. The other 30% of the shares are distributed to foundations - charities, research institutions, museums, parks, etc. Again, these shares are non-transferable, non-voting, preferred. The final 20% of shares are auctioned off in an IPO. These shares are fully transferable, voting, common shares.

The board of directors of the trust are chosen by the voting shareholders. The board then appoints a CEO.

My plan has many of the benefits of MM's plan. The profits of the government are distributed as dividends, rather than as patronage jobs and regulatory favors. This is a huge net efficiency gain that makes everyone better off. Voting shares will tend to accumulate in the hands of people who manage their money well, which will make them well suited for choosing a board that will run the Trust well.

The big advantage over MM's plan is that it does not require crytographic weapons and contracts. Residents will support the government because they will be getting nice dividend checks. Powerful institutions will also support the government because they will be living off the dividends. The military will support the regime because the citizens do, and it is a natural Schelling point. If a soldier supports a rebellion, his parents, friends, and family back home will be the one's losing their dividend checks, and it will be the general who profits.

The weakness of my plan is that the Supreme Court is sovereign. In theory, the court should be checked by the citizens council. But I'd worry overtime the Supreme Court Justices would take it upon themselves to re-engineer society to their liking. Still, my proposed system seems more robust than the design of the American Constitution. Just getting rid of party politics is a major win.

November 16, 2008 at 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Libra said...

Curve of Freedom-

Who would run the civil service? Does the executive now actually have the power to hire and fire?

Basically, it seems the political system you propose is Britain circa 1870. That doesn't seem to be a stable situation. There is a rachet effect with the franchise - its much easier to give it to new voters than it is to take away. Thus soon the legislature would be popularly elected, by all voters. That means a return of violent party politics and all the other nastiness of democracy.

November 16, 2008 at 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Libra -

Excellent points. I've been mulling over the civil service question. My first pass at it is: I accept the difference between politics and administration in public employees, just not the dichotomy. Let's say the top 5% of civil servants serve at the pleasure of the executive; the next 15% have tenure of pay and a position, just not a specific one. They can be rotated around (or promoted to the top 5% rank) by the executive, but not fired. The bottom 80% are regular old merit hires who can only get sacked for cause and can't be rotated freely. Thus the ruler has latitude to influence the civil service's ideological bent but not as much opportunity or need to pick his friends.

Your comparison to the UK 1870 is interesting. I happen to like Britain in that era so of course I run the risk of repeating their errors.

Important differences between Curveland and the land of Queen Victoria:

Curveland has a written constitution dictating Royal and Noble powers. No need to have wooly conventions evolve to describe who has what power.

Curveland has a class of home-grown nobles who would presumably be jealous about power. It would be up to them to write the constitutions. Britain's crown surrendered its power over centuries, of course, but that really kicked into high gear under the Georges, who were foreigners with excessive ties to the Whigs. A Royal veto under King George would have meant a foreigner thumbing his nose at a centuries-old parliament which had passed a painstakingly crafted law and "humbly" presented it for his rubber stamp. Royal/noble control of legislative agendas allows no such collision.

Curveland's Senate functions like the old US Senate, and its election method can't be changed by elected legislature, only be hereditary governors. Should protect against excessive power.

As to the franchise "expanding by ratchet", this is a matter which has troubled me. I'd say, put the franchise in the constitution and teach it to schoolchildren as gospel. "In the olden days, people were allowed to vote who didn't even contribute to its upkeep!" Schoolchildren gasp. The men who expanded the British franchise owed their position to voter approval (twisted as it was by rotten boroughs and gerrymandering). The men who control Curveland constitutions are hereditary.

But your critique certainly has traction. I'm basing a lot of my plan on what Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn advocates. I don't think he's explicit about the franchise, and I see no evidence that he's against manhood suffrage (or in favor of my hereditary federalism). He seems to think that an executive monarch would be sufficient bulwark against socialism. I think he's overconfident on that count. He pays no mind to another bulwark of liberty: jurisdiction as property as described by Szabo. (Also note that his idea of how to choose supreme courts is different than that for Curveland; he advocates their selection by the university faculties in law and theology departments. He is obviously thinking of a different time and place than I am!)

But if I continue I run the risk of squashing this thread under the weight of my paragraphs.

November 16, 2008 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Yup. And never mind that even if these geniuses in their little city states somehow happily cobbled a few nukes together, they would not have survivable delivery systems or C3I systems (which are, um, difficult and expensive to create to say the least).

If one has a desktop fabricator (in the late twenty first century) capable of constructing a nuke or equivalent WMD, then it can also build the necessary delivery and control system to carry it. Assuming of course one chose a missile as a delivery system, there are other ways. Sneaky ways.

Currently, nukes are difficult and expensive to build and maintain. As are their delivery systems. If one can print out a pure fusion bomb, then making its delivery system isn't difficult at all. You don't need to be a genius to read the desktop fabricator's display screen and click "print". You just have to know how to read and have a basic understanding of what you are doing.

On the topic of the nation-state's decline, globalguerillas.com blog is a good start.

http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/

November 16, 2008 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

And how do you stop New Hampshire and Massachusetts from merging and forming NewEngCo?

If the people in two micro-states want to merge, they can if they share the same exact values.

November 16, 2008 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

raistthemage:
The city state for better or worse lost its military feasibility with the invention of cannons.
Walls of stone became obsolute, but dirt-based geometric "star-forts" of the type designed by Vauban took their place. Quoting from Space, Time and Architecture: "The Renaissance was hypnotized by one city type which for a century and a half—from Filarete to Scamozzi—was impressed upon all utopian schemes: this is the star-shaped city." The Rennaissance was of course the golden-era of the Italian city-states. The Greek city state of Sparta did not even have any walls, as they had such confidence in their heavy infantry.


Jewish Atheist:
Why do you hate America so much? I'm serious. The standard of living is incredible for the average American, and much better for people like you and me.
EXACTLY! He once summed up the reason why government has to go in that it was lying to us. Stop the fucking presses! A government that isn't completely honest to its citizens? Well, I never!


G. M. Palmer:
Rape, theft, and murder rates
Incredibly low by historical standards (ask Pinker how high they were in MM's vaunted feudal/monarchical era or Diamond how high they are among hunter-gatherers/primitive agriculturalists). The "great Sixties freakout" was indeed a jump away from the normal trend, but it has subsided. Right now if you are not a N.A.M male involved in criminal activity, your likelihood of being the victim of a violent crime is near nil. If you're worried about being hit by a drunk (or non-drunk, really) driver, that's a whole 'nother story.


Anonymous (get a goddman handle!):
This is like asking how the US government would deal with an uprising of peasants with pitchforks.
They don't even necessarily need to wield pitchforks. The Kapp Putsch was based on keeping civilians in line with jackboot and rifle, but it failed when confronted with a non-violent general strike. And just to reiterate, the freikorpers involved in the coup were not liberals averse to civilian bloodshed.


G. M. Palmer:
the education system alone is reason enough to scrap the government
Private schooling, homeschooling and unschooling are all options. Most people just don't feel like putting up with the cost when they already pay taxes for public school. I don't think it really makes much of a difference in how kids turn out.


William A. Sigler:
Check out Robin Hanson on democracy and Daniel Klein's Romance of the People.


Leonard:
MM had a progressive upbringing, at least, although he is clearly now apostate. So it's likely he also has the crazy urge to help his fellow man.
Reminds me of the neo-conservatives. RUN LIKE HELL!


terry north:
The problem with making the case for slavery is that it is pretty well settled that better management (including not making slaves out of your residents) produces dramatically higher productivity, particularly in the presence of sufficiently advanced technology
According to Time on the Cross, that's not the case. The author has an EconTalk podcast with Russ Roberts here.


Curve of Freedom:
Consider Moldbug's assertion that Dalits are used by the Brahmin as their Stasi
What policy does MM usually point to concerning the inevitability of Universalist triumph? Gay marriage. Are the Stasi enforcers of gay marriage dogmatism? Far as fuck from it. Are they on the lookout for global warming (another of MM's bugaboos with Universalism) heretics? Shit no.


Leonard:
People have always found the motivation to work when they were sufficiently hungry
See Caplan on Szasz and how Mao dealt with drug addiction.


m:
He has it now pegged at the Dutch invasion of England (1688)
AKA the "Glorious Revolution", which MM once claimed to support. My Straussian interpretation of MM is in this post. I had a later post arguing for Hinduism rather than Islam as MM's substitute for Christianity here.


P. M. Lawrence:
Nice to see you here. Now I can make Kevin Carson references and expect someone to understand!


Lawful Neutral:
If MM's taught me anything, it's that the reactionary cause cannot possibly hope to defeat Univeralism/progressivism/ultra-Calvinism/whatever. No, if the current order is going to collapse, it's going to collapse of its own volition.
That was what he initially said, when he just wanted to formally cement the Polygon's power. More recently he has been talking about a military coup.


Curve of Freedom:
Islam seems no more favorable to monarchy than Catholicism; Shintoism is vastly more pro-monarchy than either
Hitler once said Shinto and Islam were his favorite religions. Shinto never had that much of a grip (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and whatnot arguably had greater adherence in Japan) and the Japanese seem to have become quite Univeralist. The Islamic world, in contrast, is possibly the most anti-Universalist place on earth. There is no Catholic or Shinto equivalent of the Saudi or Jordanian monarchies today.

Moldbug abhors violence, political machinations
He has said he thinks modern Westerners are too anti-militarist in contrast to someone like Ernst Junger. As mentioned, he also put great hopes in a military coup.

Remember, Muslims are often still against usury, like Christian war a few Centuries ago
Fractional reserve banks (which MM opposes) lend money that has been deposited to other people. Those people pay back a high amoutn of interest, and the bank pays the depositors interest. In the warehouse model that MM prefers that would not happen.

I see no sanctity of the private contract in Islam.
It is the religion created by merchants, so I think there's some of that in there. I wouldn't necessarily consider it capitalist, but for Schumpeter or Brink Lindsay's reasons I don't know if MM would actually want that.

Arab socialists like the Ba'ath
Those were actually founded by Arab Christians, who also created the somewhat fascist Lebanese falange (remind you of Spain?) movement. If you follow MM in considering fascism genuinely reactionary rather than left-wing, than the Ba'ath are reactionaries. They even hate labor unions.

And patriarchy...? Where are you getting Moldbug being patriarchal?
Read my linked post on Wrangham, who explains the feminist angle and the trend from personalist orders often explicitly rooted in patriarchy (with monarchies being the clearest example) to the depersonalized, democratic bureaucratic state which is openly on the side of women.

Point is, I've never heard him breathe a positive word about Islam
I don't seriously think he's a fan of it and I don't believe in Straussianism. The point of the exercise was something of a reductio on MM's ideas.


raistthemage:
He hates fanaticism of all kinds so I think this is a very bad ad hominem.
Is there anybody he considers TOO reactionary? Too enthusiastic in being a reactionary? A lot of his ideas would seem extreme and fanatical to others, and MM seems to revel in appearing so.


Curve of Freedom:
Confucianism! If you're looking for a philosophy, religion, mental discipline whatever from outside Europe that is in line with Moldbug's, look no further.
See my linked post on Hinduism. The Confucian "Mandarins" are a near-perfect analogy to our Brahmins, and their system of governance fits how he defined the ideal of Leftism/Progressivism.


Curve of Freedom:
Americans do not generally find it acceptable for a man to have four wives
Americans have no problem with Donald Trump's "serial monogamy" and mistresses, nor Hugh Hefner's eight girlfriends.


Anonymous (again, get a goddamn handle!):
Um, dude, the reason people think that is 80 years of Leftist propaganda in schools and the media
Long before public education the Founding Fathers worried about giving the masses the right to vote. The least educated (so least exposed to that kind of propaganda) tend to be the least libertarian and most prone to "there oughta be a law" sentiment.

If a reboot could work in 1776, why not now?
It wasn't a reboot, it was a conservative revolt for maintaining the status quo privileges of local government i.e secession.


Jewish Atheist:
It's counterproductive to oppose welfare, for example, but it was quite useful to get welfare reformed in the 90s.
Welfare only got reformed because there was enough opposition to triangulate.

The country overwhelmingly supports some form of progressive taxation, but half the Republican party thinks it's socialism run amock.
Ron Paul does not comprise half of the Republican party. Very few Republican politicians actually support getting rid of progressive taxation, that's why it's so laughable for McCain (who explicitly supported more progressive taxation than Bush) to make that charge. The difference between Republicans and Democrats is mostly rhetorical.


terry north:
I don't think any conservatives aspire to being pork-free liberals
That would be aiming far too high for most GOP pols.


Matt Carlin:
Also, why hasn't prosperity and good society flourished in Somalia?
I'm VERY glad you asked. In fact, Somalia improved under anarchy. See Better Off Stateless. Relative to the U.S, post-Deng China is poor, but you have to compare to how it was under Mao.


Jewish Atheist:
the best and the brightest tend to be liberals who want to live in a country like ours and generally support things like progressive taxation and social liberalism
I think the dim are less likely to be in favor of social liberalism. But I don't know of any evidence that they're less favorable toward progressive taxation.


mtraven:
if you are a neoconservative, you should dig a hole and throw yourself in
Not before producing something analogous to "The God That Failed".

if you just hate the modern cosmopolitan world, or believe it's going to collapse of its own problems, you should start a survivalist cult and build a compound out in the country somewhere, and learn to live off the grid
That's sort of my plan, though I have to save up some money first. I'm not sure why MM isn't more into that.


G. M. Palmer:
JA, many of the "best and brightest" are here, posting
I would have thought they'd have better things to do. I agree with Sailer though that nerds are more square than boho.


terry north:
I recall people tried this once before. It didn't seem to work out very well for them. What makes you think it would work now?
Exactly. But the proggles get all their panties in a bunch when anybody questions the legitimacy of forcing the South back into the Union or talks about seceding again. Someone call the Southern Poverty Law Center!


Jewish Atheist:
It's not our fault you've picked a philosophy at odds with human nature.
I'd say there's a good argument for social conservatism being extremely compatible with human nature. Communism may be attractive to people, but human nature makes it unworkable. Capitalism is the opposite.

I'll respond to stuff that came after my first comment later.

November 16, 2008 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Most of the posters here are writing about how a fractured world might work. I'm just writing on how it may come about.

November 16, 2008 at 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Libra said...

curve-

The trouble is that once you give Parliament the power of the purse, there is endless room for negotiation and compromise so that Parliament ends up getting what it wants. And of course, the Parliament represents The People! Which side is the military going to support when push comes to shove? The People, or some rich old fogies?

The other problem is that monarchs lose out because politicians are selected for power drive, while the monarchs are selected by random genes. The monarch does not always have a great incentive to train himself to be a wise and effective ruler. Often he delegates to those more power hungry.

The appeal of MM's CEO ruler is that it selects someone strong enough not to cede power, and then it channels that strength into corporate profits that go back to all share holding citizens.

Any system that has any sort of mass election scheme misses the core problem. As MM as pointed out, elections are gang wars with coup sticks instead of knives. Its the antithesis of good government, even with a somewhat restricted electorate.

Here is a system I propose in an earlier thread:

For the election, I was envisioning that each candidate would create some kind of application. It would include test scores, a resume, recommendations verified by the election administration, and a set of essays. After the initial lottery, each candidate remaining would receive a package of 10 randomly assigned applications from other candidates. The candidate would then rank each application, and submit the results. The candidates with the top 20% of overall votes would then move on to the next round. This could be all done within a day. There would be no speeches - we want someone with a solid resume, not a messiah :-) After several rounds, you would end up with a council of nine, who would appoint the judges and the military commander. The council members do not need any special abilities or expertise. They simply need enough sense to keep the judiciary and the military honest. The election needs to be quick to prevent any opportunity for bribery.

What do you think of my scheme over all ( including the part I wrote above about the idea of a Trust corporation)?

November 16, 2008 at 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one has a desktop fabricator (in the late twenty first century) capable of constructing a nuke or equivalent WMD, then it can also build the necessary delivery and control system to carry it.

Wow, a preposterous premise leads to a preposterous conclusion, how about that. As soon as we actually have "desktop fabricators", I'll think about basing a social system on them, 'kay?

Assuming of course one chose a missile as a delivery system, there are other ways. Sneaky ways.

Like a Desktop TeleporterTM?

If one can print out a pure fusion bomb, then making its delivery system isn't difficult at all.

Again, a preposterous premise leads to a preposterous conclusion. Can we focus on reality here, please?

November 16, 2008 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Togo:
All other considerations aside, doesn't the current economic crisis sort of suggest that the current New Deal-Great Society-PC/Multicult welfare-warfare state is unsustainable?
No, that's probably pessimistic bias.


Curve of Freedom:
The Constitution hasn't protected states' rights because the states aren't sovereign
States rights were fairly protected until the Civil War. After the interlude of Reconstruction they came back (with Lochner vs New York being a reversal against that reversal which many libertarians are nostalgic for) and were still fairly strong before the second half of the 20th century.

unlike the Jackson administration
The Supreme Court, along with the military, is far more respected among the general public than any of the elected parts of the government. I'd say that poses the problem for defying it nowadays compared to the "Age of Jacksonian Democracy".

But do you think hotel owners would do the same thing, even if they could?
Hotels have guests, not permanent residents born there. For more on this issue see Peter Leeson on vertically-integrated proprietary communities.

You could build your house in an eccentric manner that would make it attractive only to you
A maze or lock requiring knowledge only you possess would be one angle. It's a truism that our own farts don't bother us as much as other people's, so if you could permeate it with something similar that bothered others more than you it could work. Of course I am merely musing on a blog, in real life people would be strongly motivated to come up with such methods.

I can't think of any totalitarian regimes the size of city-states
Sparta might be the closest example, although I think Zwingli might have had something like that as well. MM hasn't explained why he thinks the city-state model will come back either. There's an argument for that with seasteading, but he hasn't shown much interest in it.


anspirit:
Installation of a strict border control mechanism is a very expensive, multi-year project
Mencius, myself and others here favor border control for the U.S right now, so you're really arguing against his ideas rather than in defense of them.

You underestimate the intelligence of people big time
That's a difficult feat.


The Ashen Man:
Tggp, I'm pretty sure Mencius meant the Ukrainian Orange revolution in his earlier post
Why are the Protestants of Northern Ireland called "Orangemen"? Because of the Protestant King, William of Orange. His coming over was the "glorious revolution", and MM references "the only revolution that ever truly was glorious". MM has very little regard for the Soros-Sharp mob-actions.


Regarding the banks and the Polygon:
Here's some of a recent exchange between Mencius and I
Me: Murray Rothbard was always going on about the connection between the bankers and foreign policy and how the government finances wars. As I note in my response to you and Burke, that was a major factor in English political history and also plays an important role in Bertrand de Jouvenel's On Power. The empowerment of the money-lending bourgeouis was (wrongly, in my opinion) interpreted by Franz Oppenheimer as heralding the defeat of the political means by the economic means or the end of the State. Vampire of the Continent (in which I've admittedly only gotten to chapter 7) has a much more mercantilist analysis than any of those types, but also places great emphasis on the English financiers of war. You however, despite your focus on monetary matters, don't seem to devote any interest to the finance-sector as a power-bloc or interest group. A long time ago you listed the members of the Iron Polygon, which included the banks, but since then your description of the Polygon has mostly reduced it to the Cathedral. I find that odd.
MM: Yes, you're right - I should be more explicit about the incestuous nature of the financial-government complex. I guess it's just too obvious. But nothing is too obvious.
I would also put more stock in Thiel's theory if he had actually bet on it beforehand. I'd also like to see his numbers he was using to determine how Republican those institutions are. I suppose that could be found at opensecrets.org


Curve of Freedom:
the military will tear itself apart just as our cities have.
One of my uncles was in the military at a U.S base during Vietnam. He actually tried to be transferred to Vietnam like his older brother (not my dad, who was younger) because he thought he'd be SAFER. A guy staying in his bunk had his throat slit in a case of mistaken identity. Some of the soldiers were members of the Black Panthers and had grabbed some mobile artillery from the armory and wrecked part of the base with it, so a soldier with a machine-gun was moved into the armory to fire on any one who did follow proper procedure when entering. Some pretty fucked up shit.

The Human Genome Project will yield a whole lot of evidence - way too much for the blankslaters to explain away
I think the evidence has been there for a long time (at least since the Bell Curve or Jensen before them). Even if the racial aspect of leftism goes away, you correctly note that it existed before then and will likely continue afterward.


Jewish Atheist:
For 140 years progressives have been making changes that made the country better (for the most part) with conservatives railing against each one as the end of the universe as we know it. Frankly, you guys have a pretty bad track record.
If the anti-federalists can stand in for us, I think they have a pretty good track record when it comes to prediciton. When the direct income tax was introduced, opponents cried foul but proponents said it would only be limited to the wealthiest and it would only be a rather tiny percent of income. Hubert Humphrey promised to eat Civil Rights legislation he supported if it turned out the way it eventually did. Kennedy was similarly wrong in his assurances about the 1965 Immigration act. Woodrow Wilson claimed WW1 would make the world safe for democracy. MM has repeatedly thrown the "Stop juvenile delinquency with public housing" in the face of people calling themselves the "reality-based community". Aid to dependent mothers turned out very differently then its proponents thought. Affirmative action was supposed to be a temporary corrective but shows no signs of going away, as it's not actually solving the problem. Blacks raised their soceioeconomic status at a fairly high rate before the 60s Civil Rights acts, but fell behind afterward. Their unemployment rate was equal to or lower than the white one between the Civil War and the 60s. Communism was a massive failure popular with many progressives which they know generally admit was wrong, bussing is a less extreme example implemented in our own country. And you have the gall to tell us to learn from our mistakes!


Anonymous (FUCK YOU UNTIL YOU GET A HANDLE):
There weren't a meaningful number of "progressives" in this country until 1933.
You're an idiot. Teddy Roosvelt ran under the Ticket of the Progressive Party, and took second place resulting in Wilson's victory. Those were the original "progressives", well before the New Deal.


Curve of Freedom:
and veterans
How about just the net-taxpayers. I don't want folks dependent on a government check voting on how much money the government takes in. We can do without a Bonus Army.

November 16, 2008 at 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you don't need U-235 or Pu-239 for a bomb trigger if it is a pure fusion bomb.

Too bad no such weapon exists even though the US spent billions of dollars over forty years trying to create one. No Uranium or Plutonium, no bomb, sorry.

Please, it doesn't add to the credibility of your case to spout such balderdash.

November 16, 2008 at 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amidst all the bleating from the left about rising economic inequality in the United States it is seldom noted that the reported inequality is not the result of abject deprivation amongst the poor, but of the great growth in the wealth of the rich.

Don't forget the great growth in the numbers of illiterate Third World peasants we have imported!

November 16, 2008 at 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're an idiot. Teddy Roosvelt ran under the Ticket of the Progressive Party, and took second place resulting in Wilson's victory. Those were the original "progressives", well before the New Deal.

The idiot is the person who thinks the "progressives" of the TR era bore any meaningful similarity to the "progressives" of today.

November 16, 2008 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous(GET A HANDLE FUCKHEAD) said:
Again, a preposterous premise leads to a preposterous conclusion. Can we focus on reality here, please?

Only an ignoramous who isn't aware of current technological trends would think desktop fabricators are impossible.

November 16, 2008 at 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Supreme Court, along with the military, is far more respected among the general public than any of the elected parts of the government.

Say what??? Only 32% of likely voters say the Supreme Court is doing a good job. That's practically Dubya Bush levels of unpopularity! Meanwhile, 79% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the military.

Note to TGGP: engage brain before running mouth.

November 16, 2008 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous (GET HANDLE IDIOT) said
Too bad no such weapon exists even though the US spent billions of dollars over forty years trying to create one. No Uranium or Plutonium, no bomb, sorry.

Please, it doesn't add to the credibility of your case to spout such balderdash.

Of course I know it doesn't exist today. If you knew reading comprehension, you would know that already. Fusion reactions can be started without a fissionable trigger. The trick is to make a bomb out of it. The first fission device was nuclear pile that demonstrated criticality, not a bomb. You haven't paid attention to current trends have you?

November 16, 2008 at 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only an ignoramous who isn't aware of current technological trends would think desktop fabricators are impossible.

Great, let me know where I can buy one!

Lots of things are theoretically possible, but basing a social system on a hypothetical device that is nowhere close to actually existing is nothing less than absurd, and not even worth talking about. You know that opponents of progressivism are intellectually bankrupt when they have to base their proposed alternative regime on such moonshine.

November 16, 2008 at 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course I know it doesn't exist today. If you knew reading comprehension, you would know that already. Fusion reactions can be started without a fissionable trigger. The trick is to make a bomb out of it.

Um, if you read that wiki article, you know that the entire United States government never mastered that simple little trick over 40 years and with billions in resources. If you can make a fusion bomb without a fission trigger, then you are smarter than the entire US weapons design complex, and I suggest you take your proposal to the Defense Department immediately. You'd be rolling in dough and you wouldn't need to spout your nonsense here!

Sheesh, much as I am in sympathy with the non-progressives politically, their brainpower leaves a lot to be desired. No wonder the progressives have been running rings around them politically for decades if this is the level of thought...

November 16, 2008 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous (GET A FUCKING HANDLE) said:
Lots of things are theoretically possible, but basing a social system on a hypothetical device that is nowhere close to actually existing is nothing less than absurd, and not even worth talking about. You know that opponents of progressivism are intellectually bankrupt when they have to base their proposed alternative regime on such moonshine.

Nowhere close to actually existing? You are an ignoramous. Fablabs and other precursors to the desktop fabricator are currently available jackass. Plus if you had competent reading skills, I wasn't proposing a social system based on such technology, I said that the current Nation-state system would decline and the world would fragment as a result of such trends in technology. Learn how to read and get A HANDLE.

November 16, 2008 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous said:
Um, if you read that wiki article, you know that the entire United States government never mastered that simple little trick over 40 years and with billions in resources. If you can make a fusion bomb without a fission trigger, then you are smarter than the entire US weapons design complex, and I suggest you take your proposal to the Defense Department immediately. You'd be rolling in dough and you wouldn't need to spout your nonsense here!

You have to know how to make a fusion reactor achieve criticality first before you can make a bomb out of it. Your opinion on pure fusion weapons is fine if a fusion reactor cannot attain criticality. But I wouldn't bet on that for the late twenty first century.

It isn't that hard to get a handle.

November 16, 2008 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fablabs and other precursors to the desktop fabricator are currently available jackass.

Uh huh. And these "precursors" are to the technology you propose - which would enable anyone to "print out" a fusion bomb - as the Saturn V is to faster than light travel.

I wasn't proposing a social system based on such technology, I said that the current Nation-state system would decline and the world would fragment as a result of such trends in technology.

You are proposing a patchwork of city-states to replace the current nation state. Sounds like a new social system to me. And it only requires three technologies that aren't anywhere close to existing yet, yaaay!

The Cathedral takes great comfort in knowing that those who oppose it are living in total fantasyland. They might actually be dangerous if they perceived reality clearly and acted on it!

November 16, 2008 at 6:46 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous said:
Uh huh. And these "precursors" are to the technology you propose - which would enable anyone to "print out" a fusion bomb - as the Saturn V is to faster than light travel.

Apparently you are ignorant of such technology.

And it only requires three technologies that aren't anywhere close to existing yet, yaaay!

It isn't "just three technologies" moron. There's whole lot more. It is also weaknesses within the Nation-state system itself and its ability to handle things that it cannot handle itself. globalguerillas.com does a much more detailed description of it.

November 16, 2008 at 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to know how to make a fusion reactor achieve criticality first before you can make a bomb out of it.

That hasn't been done either! No fusion reactor yet created has produced more thermal energy than electrical energy consumed.

But hey, thanks for introducing yet another "really hard" step between today and your sophomoric dream of desktop fusion-bomb fabricators.

Your opinion on pure fusion weapons is fine if a fusion reactor cannot attain criticality.

It's not "my opinion". It is the opinion of the US government. They spent a lot of money and brainpower to reach that opinion.

November 16, 2008 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently you are ignorant of such technology.

You must be, too, or you'd be linking me to the website of the company that is on the verge of building these commercial desktop fabricators. I want to go work for them and get in on the ground floor of their IPO!

It isn't "just three technologies" moron. There's whole lot more.

Even more impossible things are required before your dream can be realized? Do tell...

globalguerillas.com does a much more detailed description of it.

I hope they're more scientifically literate than you, but somehow I doubt it.

November 16, 2008 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous (GET A FUCKING HANDLE)said:
It's not "my opinion". It is the opinion of the US government. They spent a lot of money and brainpower to reach that opinion.

Argument from authority doesn't work. Look up "gold plated". Throwing money at a cost-plus contract doesn't increase progress. If you're not going to use logic and a handle what's the point with arging with ignorance?

November 16, 2008 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger master_of_americans said...

The basic premise of anarcho-capitalism, it seems to me, is civil disobedience. Laws are laws, and you might be powerful enough that no one can come in and force you to obey the law, but the people around you will know that you broke it and will refrain from cooperating with you. So, you can either obey the law and live peacefully with your neighbors, or you can break it and have to expend effort constantly trying to get them to comply with you.

Now, I realise there are a lot of potential problem with this idea (other commentators need feel no particular compulsion to explain them to me), but I still think that this is basically a more robust idea for building an equilibrium among many small, disparate centers of power than is the Mencist plan of joint-stock companies and cryptography. On the other hand, I see no reason to treat these ideas as exclusive; if an anarcho-capitalist (private law) society were ever achieved, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a preponderance of corporations as land-owners.

November 16, 2008 at 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

What policy does MM usually point to concerning the inevitability of Universalist triumph? Gay marriage. Are the Stasi enforcers of gay marriage dogmatism? Far as fuck from it. Are they on the lookout for global warming (another of MM's bugaboos with Universalism) heretics? Shit no.

This is a strange combination of points and I'm not sure I follow you. AFAIK Moldbug is with the Brahmin on gay rights and against them on AGW. The Stasi is with them on neither, and it doesn't matter, because they don't really call the shots. They are manipulated by the Cathedral. I don't think the Cathedral was hurt by Prop. 8; it was probably helped in some ways.

Hitler once said Shinto and Islam were his favorite religions. Shinto never had that much of a grip (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and whatnot arguably had greater adherence in Japan) and ....

I don't know enough to agree or disagree with you here.

... the Japanese seem to have become quite Univeralist.

Not in the ways Moldbug feels are most important and dangerous. Their policies aren't driven by demographic guilt. They don't tolerate street crime. They don't scoff at property rights. They don't use "corporate" as a dirty word. They do welcome foreigners, sing happy pop songs, and all that - stuff I think Moldbug is neutral or favorable to.

The Islamic world, in contrast, is possibly the most anti-Universalist place on earth. There is no Catholic or Shinto equivalent of the Saudi or Jordanian monarchies today.

Okay, maybe, but Islamic revolutionaries are still revolutionaries who rely on mobs, ban random things in a way that makes for bad governmental "customer service", etc.

He has said he thinks modern Westerners are too anti-militarist in contrast to someone like Ernst Junger. As mentioned, he also put great hopes in a military coup.

Military coups can be bloodless. I think he looks to the standoff between heavily armed Great Powers as the key to peace in his favorite era (and yes, you've made the point before that he doesn't favor the governmental structures of the 19th Century).

Fractional reserve banks (which MM opposes) lend money that has been deposited to other people. Those people pay back a high amount of interest, and the bank pays the depositors interest. In the warehouse model that MM prefers that would not happen.

If you say so. AFAIK under traditional Islam low rates of interest are prohibited as well. Furthermore, fractional reserve banking has been implicated in inflation, which makes for high nominal and low real interest rates. I think Moldbug favors low nominal and real interest rates. (I am out of my league on all monetary questions.)

I'll just quote myself here: "I see no sanctity of the private contract in Islam."

Those were actually founded by Arab Christians, who also created the somewhat fascist Lebanese falange (remind you of Spain?) movement. If you follow MM in considering fascism genuinely reactionary rather than left-wing, than the Ba'ath are reactionaries.

Okay, maybe the Ba'ath was a bad example. In any case I consider fascism to be neither left nor right, properly. I believe their claim to be a third way! (And it's one I heartily dislike - corporatism mixed with quasi-religious rhetoric about their country.) For what it's worth, I would expect socialists to love unions while fascists love syndicates, or whatever they call them.

Read my linked post on Wrangham, who explains the feminist angle and the trend from personalist orders often explicitly rooted in patriarchy (with monarchies being the clearest example) to the depersonalized, democratic bureaucratic state which is openly on the side of women.

Moldbug is big on property rights, and the sorts of feminist who use "patriarchy" most are not, so I'll hazily concede your point.

November 16, 2008 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous said:
You must be, too, or you'd be linking me to the website of the company that is on the verge of building these commercial desktop fabricators. I want to go work for them and get in on the ground floor of their IPO!

Perhaps you should tell that to Popular Mechanics's advertisers.

November 16, 2008 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous troll said:
Even more impossible things are required before your dream can be realized? Do tell...

Silly me, I guess nanotechnology is just voodoo.

November 16, 2008 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Hey anonymous troll, since you want to use the U.S. government as an argument, maybe you should tell Professor Neil Gershenfeld he is full of shit.

http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/faq/

As for the comment of the Saturn V and ftl, that's a strawman argument. Apparently no one taught you logic, probably the reason why you hide in anonymity. According to the laws of physics, ftl isn't really possible. Fabrication techniques are a different manner.

November 16, 2008 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous (FUCKING GET A HANDLE) said:
I hope they're (globalguerillas) more scientifically literate than you, but somehow I doubt it.

So John Robb is a dummy eh? Why don't you say so on his blog then? Since you love using the U.S. government as an argument and John Robb is a dummy, why are they using him as an advisor on security?

November 16, 2008 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

See my linked post on Hinduism. The Confucian "Mandarins" are a near-perfect analogy to our Brahmins, and their system of governance fits how he defined the ideal of Leftism/Progressivism.

I think Moldbug vastly oversimplified when he defined leftism as the notion that we should be governed by scholars. His corporate governing folks are likely to be quite well-read and philosophical (like him) although also business-oriented and skeptical of claims of merit through academic achievement.

I think he should have defined leftism as the notion that human relations and personalities can be improved through engineering directed by scholars.

Confucian mandarins seem a lot more like the permanent civil service that, per Moldbug, both makes democracy a lie, and makes democracy less lethal to prosperity and the rule of law. The philosophy under which the mandarins govern is crucial. Progressive-idealism and Confucianism seem diametrically opposed on the stuff UR is concerned with - order, honor, self-government vs. imposed law, etc.

November 16, 2008 at 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Argument from authority doesn't work.

I am certainly humbled by the compelling power of your ad hominem attacks (ignoramus, moron, jackass, etc.).

Look up "gold plated". Throwing money at a cost-plus contract doesn't increase progress.

Well, if you want to argue that something is technically do-able when the US government has spent a lot of time and money on it (and really, really wanted to do it) then the burden of proof is on you, not me. The bar is pretty high for proving that such a bomb is feasible, and you're not even close to clearing it.

If you're not going to use logic and a handle what's the point with arging with ignorance?

So wait, I am ignorant when I observe that a technology that you claim exists (or could exist) does not actually exist? And you are not ignorant or illogical when you claim such a technology is possible, but offer no proof beyond the statement that it means nothing to you that the US government couldn't make this technology work? Whatever. Point me to a single source that backs your claim that such a bomb is feasible. Is any country even working on it now?

Perhaps you should tell that to Popular Mechanics's advertisers.

Heh. You reject argument from authority, and then you cite Popular Mechanics as an authority? ROFLMAO! You'll have to do better than that, really.

I guess nanotechnology is just voodoo.

There's a little daylight between the current nanotech state of the art and your magic desktop fabricator. Anybody with the slightest knowledge of science won't let you get away with that handwave, sorry.

since you want to use the U.S. government as an argument, maybe you should tell Professor Neil Gershenfeld he is full of shit.

Point me to the exact place where he says we'll soon be able to fabricate fusion bombs on a desktop.

I don't even see where he says when the "ultimate goal" ("developing programmable molecular assemblers that will be able to make almost anything") will be possible.

As for the comment of the Saturn V and ftl, that's a strawman argument.

Nah. It roughly encompasses the technological gap you want to jump over with your so-called argument.

So John Robb is a dummy eh? Why don't you say so on his blog then? Since you love using the U.S. government as an argument and John Robb is a dummy, why are they using him as an advisor on security?

Don't know the guy (and don't care). Let him come here and advance his case. What does not fly is you saying all kinds of crazy things will soon be possible, and then citing this guy as your authority. Frankly, your arguments here have been so logically and factually faulty that I doubt you are representing his arguments correctly anyway.

November 16, 2008 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Bureaucracy is not bad, progressivism is.

A follower of Kung would live by the (ignored by the Universalists and damn near everyone else) Christian doctrine of "take the log out of your own eye."

The progressive mantra of telling others how to live would truck no cotton with a Confucian.

M

November 16, 2008 at 8:09 PM  
Anonymous semtex said...

LOL@Robert.

Don't try to pull the whole "you mustn't be learned in logic" schtick. Otherwise someone here might rip your pathetic arguments to fucking shreds. Actually ... allow me too, since you are such an annoying fucking 'tard and you would be better off in some other lesser blog like reddit or something.

Where do I begin:

"So you have decided to send in your SWAT teams into territories with nuclear deterrents? You certainly are crazy."

Cool, an assertion without a premise to back up why he is crazy.

"Jewish Athiest, To help you understand why I think you are crazy for sending your national enforcers into territories with nuclear deterrents, I am going to ask a question. If a nuclear ballistic missile submarine launches its nuclear missiles, did it succeed in its mission?"

Again, no premises that imply why JA is crazy. Perhaps you haven't been trained in logic Robert. Ring a-ding ding Robert, school is in, and here is a fucking tip for young players: you need premises that actually lead to the conclusion you are stating. You haven't provided any. Away to the dunce corner with you.

"Ah, so now you understand. The possession of such effective WMD's in the hands of small groups of individuals would effectively make them sovereign. If you actually noticed current trends in twenty first century technology, such WMD's (homemade by desktop fabricators of course) would become increasingly common in the late twenty first century. Thus killing off the current bureacratic nation-states that exist today. As more and more of your citizens break away from your nation-state and form their own micro-states thanks to these superweapons, the less and less tax revenue is collected by your national government. Without such revenues, your governmental power-structure withers on the vine."


Wow, serious. Just the weapons are necessary and sufficient conditions for killing off the nation-state? Citizens then break away from the state *because of* those weapons?

Wow. That's the biggest conditional leap I've ever seen.

Again, no premises that tie the two together. Just one big meatholes style logical leap. Perhaps there is room for a sub-genre of porno called logicholes. Where large dicked alpha males like myself and other commentators here fuck the extremely large holes in beta male arguments like yourself.

"Only an ignoramous who isn't aware of current technological trends would think desktop fabricators are impossible."

Somebody called you out Robert and you respond with a Red herring and ad hominem? THAT'S MEGA-LOGICAL. But the best bit that shows your stark idiocy and ties in with the above sentence is this paragraph:

"Of course I know it doesn't exist today. If you knew reading comprehension, you would know that already. Fusion reactions can be started without a fissionable trigger. The trick is to make a bomb out of it. The first fission device was nuclear pile that demonstrated criticality, not a bomb. You haven't paid attention to current trends have you?"

Really? Trends, trends, trends. I've noticed you've used trends twice now, and you've also argued about logic. Hmmmm. I'm just curious how you go about tieing together inductive reasoning of trends with your claims that it is deductively logical? Do you have a system of logic to present to us robert that will revolutionize our thinking?

It's also amazing that you arguing from purely technological premises (rapture of the nerds OMG THERE WILL BE HOMEMADE NUKES SPOOOOGE) to cultural/societal/political conclusions of the fall of the nation state.

Again, if it hasn't escaped your Soundwave-transformer-like "Robert superior. Anonymous inferior" AI logic box in your head, you need premises that lead to your conclusion. Purely technological ones don't. And arguing inductively is essentially even MORE shaky. Since you really don't know what the future is going to hold.

" It is also weaknesses within the Nation-state system itself and its ability to handle things that it cannot handle itself. globalguerillas.com does a much more detailed description of it."

ROH ROH Scraggy, you've just changed your argument when someone called you out again.

What happened to your purely technological premises?

What you've done is known as the self-sealing fallacy. Here is an illumination of the concept: http://www.class.uidaho.edu/morourke/404-phil/Summer-99/Handouts/Philosophical/Self-Sealing-Arguments.htm

Perhaps you should take logic classes Robert. Also, argument by authority. You explain it to us Robert. We are questioning your specific argument. You may quote GG and John Robb, but we are looking for why your premises lead to your conclusion.

Please indulge me as I will enjoy ripping your argument to shreds when you present it. The rest of your posts are yibber yabber and more fallacies.

Here's a tip Robert. If you don't respond with a fleshed out argument of your position then perhaps you should go back to /. or reddit where you can parrot lines like "HURF DURF YOU DON'T KNOW NO LOGICS SON" while at the same time are unable to make cogent arguments on your own behalf, yet are probably sitting there with a smug sense of satisfaction after you parrot such lines.

But I'll explain it for you in simple plain english and a commonplace metaphor: Fuck off Robert. Idiots like yourself shouldn't throw stones from within glass houses.

November 16, 2008 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Anonymous dolt that refuses to use a handle:
The idiot is the person who thinks the "progressives" of the TR era bore any meaningful similarity to the "progressives" of today.
Then Mencius Moldbug is also an idiot, because he describes the New Deal era as the Progressive wing of the Republican party hijacking the Democratic party. The Progressives were the ones that pushed aside classical liberalism and changed the word to refer to modern liberalism. In Europe the word "liberal" is associated with fans of Milton Friedman.


Anonymous, possible the same moron as above, but who knows, because he DOESN'T GIVE US A NAME TO REFER TO:
Say what???
http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.28729/pub_detail.asp
That link has numbers for both the Supreme Court and the military on one page. You give two different links, and the first one doesn't show the Supreme Court behind any other branch (it's ahead of Congress). The second was taken on FUCKING VETERAN'S DAY! Honestly, are you playing a joke about poor use of surveys?
http://www.gallup.com/poll/108142/Confidence-Congress-Lowest-Ever-Any-US-Institution.aspx
That link shows the Supreme Court with less than 50% support, but it's still ahead of both the President and Congress, and those are the relevant branches we're discussing.

Note to TGGP: engage brain before running mouth.
Note to you: GET A FUCKING HANDLE. Then once you've gotten around to that, try and find somewhere where I said that the Supreme Court was more respected than the MILITARY rather than any ELECTED BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT.


Anonymous dude engaged in a running argument with Palmer but who refuses to make it possible to distinguish from other Anonymous:
No wonder the progressives have been running rings around them politically for decades if this is the level of thought...
See my post (and comments following it) here. The Republicans used to be a smarter party, the migration of the brainy to the Dems is fairly recent.


Curve of Freedom:
This is a strange combination of points and I'm not sure I follow you.
It's just that the supposed Stasi do not really enforce obedience to the Polygon/Cathedral. They're not very "liberal". If he is then reduced to just saying that they are being used as a weapon by Brahmins against Vaisya through simple street-violence (which would nullify his point about affirmative action parrallels to Nazi coordination), you would expect some evidence that these paramilitaries are less likely to attack Brahmins. That simply isn't the case.

Not in the ways Moldbug feels are most important and dangerous
I suppose they have retained a significant amount of their conservatism. But most Japanese oppose removing the prohition on having a military forced into their Constitution (that's part of why Mishima was so disgusted with his countrymen that he tried to overthrow the government then committed seppuku), they had a very active New Left that included both the rioting student Zengakuren and the terrorist Japanese Red Army, they have nothing close to a "religious right" or militarist faction opposing liberalism, their weapons law states "No-one shall possess a fire-arm or fire-arms or a sword or swords" and as in England most police don't carry guns, and finally Kyoto. The World Values survey shows Japan to be right by Protestant Europe

Islamic revolutionaries are still revolutionaries who rely on mobs
Quite true, but MM has given up any claim to Burkean opposition. After they got into power they cracked down on any open dissent.

I would expect socialists to love unions while fascists love syndicates, or whatever they call them.
Syndicalism is a leftist movement, it's usually short for "anarcho-syndicalist". Sorel was unquestionably a leftist, and Mussolini got into syndicalism when he was a leftist. The melding of syndicalism with Catholic corporatism (not the same thing left-libertarians refer to with that word) produced fascism.

Moldbug is big on property rights, and the sorts of feminist who use "patriarchy" most are not, so I'll hazily concede your point.
I've recently been involved in an argument about the compatibility of libertarianism with feminism, but MM has explicitly renounced libertarianism in favor of authoritarianism. Wrangham's book (which MM recommends) in as far as it discusses our own society is less concerned with property rights that the nature of governing authority.

Confucian mandarins seem a lot more like the permanent civil service
Exactly. They're not "business-oriented and skeptical of claims of merit through academic achievement" in the slightest.

November 16, 2008 at 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

"Confucian mandarins seem a lot more like the permanent civil service"

Exactly. They're not "business-oriented and skeptical of claims of merit through academic achievement" in the slightest.

Mmm, not quite getting my point across here. I think Confucian meritocracy is pretty close to Moldbuggian meritocracy. You joined the Chinese civil service by way of a test, not a degree, which is a reform Moldbug advocates for the small civil service he tolerates. But we probably largely agree on this matter.

November 16, 2008 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Hey semtex, if you think the nation-state is going to remain intact by the end of the twenty first century, be my guest. But you haven't proven that decentralized manufacturing is impossible. It has already been proven possible and it is improving. Thus the trend.

semtex said:
Wow, serious. Just the weapons are necessary and sufficient conditions for killing off the nation-state? Citizens then break away from the state *because of* those weapons?

Such weapons make it *easier* to break away. There always have been groups of people who wanted to secede but weren't strong enough to massacre the enforcers of the strong national state.

semtex said:
Again, no premises that imply why JA is crazy. Perhaps you haven't been trained in logic Robert. Ring a-ding ding Robert, school is in, and here is a fucking tip for young players: you need premises that actually lead to the conclusion you are stating. You haven't provided any. Away to the dunce corner with you.

It's not my fault that you don't understand the concept of deterrence and MAD.

semtex said:
Blah blah blah, Robert is using illogical arguments against anonymous troll.

I'm just playing the same game as anonymous. But hey, you don't want to assert that such trends are impossible do you?

anonymous said:
Well, if you want to argue that something is technically do-able when the US government has spent a lot of time and money on it (and really, really wanted to do it) then the burden of proof is on you, not me. The bar is pretty high for proving that such a bomb is feasible, and you're not even close to clearing it.

Apparently you know nothing about government waste.

Anonymous said:
I am certainly humbled by the compelling power of your ad hominem attacks (ignoramus, moron, jackass, etc.).

Hey why not. I am certainly humbled by your attacks.

Anonymous said:
Nah. It roughly encompasses the technological gap you want to jump over with your so-called argument.

You are comparing something that is physically impossible with something that is impossible. Do you even know how impossible ftl is?

November 16, 2008 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I said:
You are comparing something that is physically impossible with something that is impossible. Do you even know how impossible ftl is?

Correction, You are comparing something that is physically impossible with something that is possible.

November 16, 2008 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

semtex said:
Again, no premises that tie the two together. Just one big meatholes style logical leap. Perhaps there is room for a sub-genre of porno called logicholes. Where large dicked alpha males like myself and other commentators here fuck the extremely large holes in beta male arguments like yourself.

Big dick alpha males fuck beta males means fablabs are impossible. Good one.

semtex said:
It's also amazing that you arguing from purely technological premises (rapture of the nerds OMG THERE WILL BE HOMEMADE NUKES SPOOOOGE) to cultural/societal/political conclusions of the fall of the nation state.

That argument doesn't disprove the phenomenon of super-empowered individuals/groups as a cause of the nation-state's decline.

November 16, 2008 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

semtex said:
But I'll explain it for you in simple plain english and a commonplace metaphor: Fuck off Robert. Idiots like yourself shouldn't throw stones from within glass houses.

You bitch at me for using an ad hominem in response to anonymous's illogical arguments, then you add one yourself. Nice.

November 16, 2008 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Since semtex and anonymous thinks desktop manufacturing is impossible, here is a start to understand what it really is.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_manufacturing

November 16, 2008 at 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Libra: What do you think of my scheme over all ( including the part I wrote above about the idea of a Trust corporation)?

Thank you for the link. I have read the "OLX" thread, and I am thinking right now your system is at least as good as the one I have proposed. "The legislative branch was fundamentally a mistake." Hard-hitting, and yet I am attached to legislative branches for aesthetic reasons!

You've made clear the advantages of your system. Over your system mine has only one real advantage: hereditary rulers are a familiar idea with much more of a track record than what you're proposing. It's not really a great track record since all those systems died out.

No matter. We don't have to long for the exact form of the past (I do, for the aforementioned goofy aesthetic reasons, but I can usually separate longing from policy pretty well).

The Trust is an interesting mod. Makes for a direct and obvious bonus to budget surpluses. If your plan's weakness really is the sovereign Supreme Court, then it's not half bad. I don't believe it's the nature of courts, even Supreme ones, to try social engineering. The US Supreme Court is just tempted to social engineering by the mass of statutes it sits atop of, and by the fact that they come from Cathedral law schools. They would have few tools to monkey around with if they were just adjudicating interestate suits and the like.

A lot will depend on your citizens' council, which means a lot will depend on getting the anti-judicial-activism message out, as well as the anti-blank-slate message. Even getting across a basic property-rights message would help. These things depend on non-mainstream media, which I suppose is what we're doing.....

November 16, 2008 at 11:55 PM  
Anonymous terry north said...

robert et al.:

If the RepRap project is any indication we'll be waiting far into the second half of the 21st century before distributed fabrication approaches the capabilities of today's factories, not to mention the advances in factories in the intervening years. I very much doubt that the benefits of centralized manufacturing will be neutralized within my lifetime.

About the nukes - this is silly. The whole point of WMD is to make an effective poison pill - to make invasion unprofitable. This can be done many ways; biological weapons is probably my favorite at the moment. Several orders of magnitude less expensive to develop, manufacture, maintain and deploy. It took the British something like 50 years to clean up Anthrax island, and there are a bunch of people who think it still isn't safe to go there.

mtraven:

However, such weapons are quite unsuitable as a means of strategic deterrence, and would be even more so for the smaller states you seem to like.

From the abstract of the paper you linked to:

First, it is extremely difficult to prevent the spread of biological warfare capabilities to actors that want them and these actors tend to be motivated by a desire to challenge the status quo. Contrary to conventional wisdom, biological weapons have utility across the spectrum of conflict and are well suited to supporting asymmetric strategies against stronger opponents.

The rest of the issues besides the lesser deterant effect (which is impossible to change without the help of Hollywood) can easily be mitigated by choosing the correct agent. In this instance, Anthrax is probably optimal. Although it has significant downsides (it's very heavy compared to viruses, it requires a high number of spores to infect someone, etc.), some of those (the weight) are advantages in this case, helping to prevent unwanted spread of the agent. Additionally, in its spore form, Anthrax's lifespan is measured in decades or centuries as opposed to hours significantly increasing the cost of dealing with such an attack.

What makes you think the same economies of scale and management techniques wouldn't apply to corporate governments? Furthermore, while I might prefer a smaller state because it is theoretically more democratically responsive, you folks don't believe in democracy, so what difference is it to you whether your corporate owner is the size of New Hampshire or the size of the United States?

I think Mencius made some noise about efficiency being a countervailing force against economies of scale; I'm not sure how much I buy it. My guess is that if lots of little states survive next to eachother at all, it will be because there are lots of strong cultures which would make anexation quite costly.

The reason many (and hence small) states are prefered is to make exit costs low, which would depress the Laffer maximum tax rate as well as be an additional check on tyrany.

tggp:

terry north:
"The problem with making the case for slavery is that it is pretty well settled that better management (including not making slaves out of your residents) produces dramatically higher productivity, particularly in the presence of sufficiently advanced technology"

According to Time on the Cross, that's not the case. The author has an EconTalk podcast with Russ Roberts here.


The author only makes the case the slavery is profitable - a claim I never contested - not that it has superior productivity to free labor. The other thing he implies in the interview is that slavery is only good for gathering crops or raw materials.

My point, which I perhaps didn't make clearly enough, is that for most of history technology hasn't give people that much of an advantage in productivity over one another. Under those conditions slavery makes much more sense - productivity is largely a result of the number of warm bodies that are working.

As far as I know, slavery has never successfully competed against free labor in the factory setting, not to mention among knowledge workers. Even gathering raw materials and crops nowadays is probably largely unprofitable for slaves given the absolutely enormous gains in productivity that can result from the use of modern technology and the application of Lean Manufacturing.

terry north:
"I don't think any conservatives aspire to being pork-free liberals"

That would be aiming far too high for most GOP pols.


I figure one thing that almost everyone here can agree on is that the Republicans have to go.

jewish atheist:

How would you do this? You mean by raising taxes? Or actually getting out the whips? And again, why wouldn't everyone flee? Why would new businesses move in? Why would people start businesses?

The whips.


See above.

November 17, 2008 at 1:42 AM  
Anonymous semtex said...

Firstly, lets begin with this comment:

"You bitch at me for using an ad hominem in response to anonymous's illogical arguments, then you add one yourself. Nice."

Ad hominem is a perfectly suitable method of argumentation in rhetoric. And it is rhetoric you are using, as you are trying to persuade others of a crappy argumentative position behind the veneer of truth and logic. One of the major uses of ad hominem in classical rhetoric was to deflate the appeal to ethos: in this case you are making an appeal to your apparent use of "logic," as if your personal character walked cleanly above the argumentative muck in a white suit and top hat of truth. Since you are just parroting talking points and stating your opponents are not using logic, that gives me an open hunting season to deflate your sense of ethos and call you the idiot that you are.

"Hey semtex, if you think the nation-state is going to remain intact by the end of the twenty first century, be my guest. But you haven't proven that decentralized manufacturing is impossible. It has already been proven possible and it is improving. Thus the trend."

Strawman. Where did I say the nation-state would remain intact? I didn't, not that I expect you to be able to read. What I have a problem with is you and your argument, I couldn't give a rat's ass about your trends and prophecy. What I have a problem with is your smarmy arrogance to throw around terms like logic, when your arguments lack it.

Oh, and I'll get straight on proving to you something about the future as well. Once again, the burden of proof is on you logic-boy.

You also have not shown the logical step from technological premise to a total societal/political conclusion. I don't think you have one. You are just parroting John Robb talking points. He's good like that. I wonder if Robb talks like a powerpoint presentation as well. His acolytes like yourself surely act as if they have been brought up as powerpoint talkers.

Seriously, lay out your argument explicitly. You know what an argument is right? If P then Q etc.

Actually you know what ... I'll take an absolutely different stance on this.

Think of me as a completely drooling fucking idiot who has never encountered your argumentative position before. I'm sure you already believe this in your heart and soul, so it should be easy for you. Give me your argument in plain terms. From first premises and reasons to your conclusion. Lay it out man. I'm fucking thick and stupid. Give your position so even I -- a complete fucking moron -- could understand how your premises force your conclusion, cause at this stage I just can't see how your reasons lead to your conclusion.

I asked you the first time and you didn't do it.

"Such weapons make it *easier* to break away. There always have been groups of people who wanted to secede but weren't strong enough to massacre the enforcers of the strong national state."

It doesn't follow that just because you have weaponary that it'll be easy for them. Read Luttwak's 'Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace' or Gray's 'Modern Strategy'. There is more to winning conflict than the technological level of war. The neo-nazi scumbags who fantasized about a strike with strategic consequences on Obama also had weaponary. Does that mean they could employ them tactically? Operationally? No it doesn't. In fact they failed, as there is more to conflict than who has the bigger boomstick.

"It's not my fault that you don't understand the concept of deterrence and MAD."

Cool man, perhaps you'll lay out how that infers that JA is crazy, as it still doesn't.

"I'm just playing the same game as anonymous. But hey, you don't want to assert that such trends are impossible do you?"

Actually, the only thing I see anonymous doing wrong is his lack of a handle. He seems to be pwning your argument though. Also, strawman, where'd I say that such trends were impossible. I didn't. I said your argument is fucking crap. There is a difference. The trends could be true and your argument can still be pathetic. That doesn't mean I reject your position, just your shitty argumentative skills.

"Big dick alpha males fuck beta males means fablabs are impossible. Good one."

Strawman.

"That argument doesn't disprove the phenomenon of super-empowered individuals/groups as a cause of the nation-state's decline."

The truth values of a position and material implication are two different things. I thought you knew about logic Robert? Surely you should know this.

I also see now that you've added yet another concept into your argument: Super-empowered individuals (SEIs). Cool, hopefully you'll lay this out in an explicit argument like I asked you the first time, and have asked a second.

I also like the word 'cause'. Now we are getting somewhere. In other words you've said:

SEIs will be a cause of the nation-state's decline.

Perhaps you can unpack this for me and give your explicit argumentation that shows the nation-state will decline, as in the truth value of the its decline is true, and that SEIs are one of the conditionals for that decline. I expect some good argumentation to show the causality chain from today and into the future. You do have arguments for this right? And not just parroting John Robb? Your argument on future causalities will be an interesting and pathbreaking one, no doubt.

November 17, 2008 at 2:09 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

TGGP wrote "Our liberal democracies have by far the highest standards of living ever known to man..." - no, just the highest mean, median or mode standards of living.

Curve of freedom wrote "I can't think of any totalitarian regimes the size of city-states. Nor can I think of any that became totalitarian all of a sudden." - maybe not recently, but theocratic Geneva and Munster came close.

Anspirit wrote "...if a city-state would turn prison, citizens will have years to leave, before the border will be really closed" - no, not years from the point of swinging into action; the Berlin Wall shows this.

Steve Johnson wrote "...At all of these points [the last 140 years], the United States could have been fairly described in the same way as today: advanced in technology and living conditions beyond all other countries" - no, only the last 100 years or so.

Mtraven asks "Oh, desktop fabricators are going to be capable of making nuclear weapons? How is that going to work, are they going to pull U-235 out of thin air?" - actually, even very small aqueous homogeneous nuclear reactors work, for a while (they currently have corrosion problems, but those look soluble). If that sort of fabricator were available, I would expect they could support repairing small aqueous homogeneous thorium breeder reactors that got their starter stock of fuel (and maybe heavy water) from running earlier versions, just as they would get the fabricators. As for "Again, a preposterous premise leads to a preposterous conclusion. Can we focus on reality here, please?" - well, those small reactors don't actually require fabricators, just a kick start from more conventional reactors and regular maintenance and/or corrosion proofing. Technically, that particular genie is already out of the bottle; all the reality needs is the first batch of materials.

Curve of freedom wrote "Over your system mine has only one real advantage: hereditary rulers are a familiar idea with much more of a track record than what you're proposing. It's not really a great track record since all those systems died out." - no, consider Bhutan, Brunei, various Arab states...

Terry North wrote "As far as I know, slavery has never successfully competed against free labor in the factory setting, not to mention among knowledge workers". It did pretty well in the (few) CSA heavy industry works, mostly in Richmond. And specialised slave labour was actually the norm in most slave societies in recent centuries (e.g. an Italian slave clockmaker was observed in central Asia in the 19th century), with exploited peasants doing the simple stuff for taxes and rents - the cash crop plantation pattern was the odd one out, because it still matched a set of economic constraints that had mostly vanished elsewhere, i.e. having more land than labour while still not having enough labour saving capital.

November 17, 2008 at 4:12 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Curve & Libra,

I think a reboot with the removal of the (at least federal) legislative branch from the Constitution would likely suffice to "fix things."

The only problem of the lack of a legislative branch is checks on the executive/military -- even if the executive can't make laws de jure, he can still make laws de facto because he's "got the bombs."

So the question comes back to how do you hamstring the interventionist tendencies of humanity (we know better than you)?

MM's notion that profitability trumps this would be sound were it not for progressivism in general (Kyoto, for instance, disproves it).

I for one am not sure, and can't really see, how to take the nanny out of the state once she has taken up residence -- barring some sort of massive catastrophy -- a plague or military action that eliminates food production and distribution, etc.

But that's what I try to keep harping about -- from Robert to Mencius we keep saying "the end is nigh!" And we can certainly see the decline

but

where is the end? If no one can agree on the end of the Roman Empire (the 250s? 476? 1453?), however will we thought experimenters see the reset for the trees?

Or are buggers going to come and scour China just enough to get us all into a reorganizing spirit, allowing Peter, ahem, Mencius, to govern us all?

:D
M

November 17, 2008 at 4:21 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

a note about slaves:

And ancient (and even recent) slaves were always being used to manage properties, etc. -- surely putting into question the Uncle Tom's Cabin brand of slavery.

M

November 17, 2008 at 4:24 AM  
Anonymous anspirit said...

P.M.Lawrence wrote

Anspirit wrote "...if a city-state would turn prison, citizens will have years to leave, before the border will be really closed" - no, not years from the point of swinging into action; the Berlin Wall shows this


No, you are mixing apples and oranges. Berlin was occupied by soviet troops during the war - there were a lot of them, they were efficient and they didn't care about expenses or profits
Now a city-state will not be at war (at least we are not talking about this case), will not have many soldiers (expensive!) and those soldiers will not be efficient (think US border patrol). In order to turn prison, a city-state will need to be militarized, which will take quite a long time. Also rapid militarization efforts will require huge expenses and will kill the bottom line of the for-profit city state

November 17, 2008 at 7:32 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

The idiot is the person who thinks the "progressives" of the TR era bore any meaningful similarity to the "progressives" of today.

As TGGP noted, the "idiot" interpretation is a canonical truth of Moldbuggism. But we're not dogmatic here; judge for yourself.

Read the 1912 platform of the Progressive Party and see if you can detect any progressivism. If you can't, then you are so marinated in progressivism that you can't think straight. In fact it is far more interesting to look at that document and try to find points where it is contradictary to modern progressivism.

November 17, 2008 at 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a quick note for the enuretics here who think it is "wrong" or in some way incorrect to post anon. The owner of the blog sets the rules. Since MM permits anon posting, you have no basis for complaint if people post anon. Not your blog. Not your rules. STFU.

November 17, 2008 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

No, it is just lame.

November 17, 2008 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

The reason many (and hence small) states are preferred is to make exit costs low, which would depress the Laffer maximum tax rate as well as be an additional check on tyranny.

Small sovcorps will be stable only if they can tax at near to the Laffer maximum. Otherwise, the drive to increase in size (via merging with or conquest of other sovcorps) will be directly profit-driven. (By assumption, large enough states can tax at the Laffer maximum.)

I can think of some possible counterarguments. For example, it may be that inefficiencies of some sort in large states offset the gains from taxes, even though the Laffer maximum does increase with size. Or it may be that there is no increase in Laffer maximum until a certain scale is achieved, and the "patches" would for some reason not be able to transition to that scale. These counterarguments seem weak.

We libertarians tend to be sympatico with many aspects of a patchwork of sovcorps, but "low taxes" as such should not be one of them. Rather, the argument should be that the high taxes will be extracted in a manner which will minimize deadweight losses, and the taxes will not be spent in a deranged manner, and thus are nowhere near as objectionable as taxes imposed by and paid to progressive states.

Me, I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the idea of a high-tax state with easy exit. I have the feeling it's not possible, but I really have not thought about it much. Definitely you'd want to tax only immobile objects (i.e. "land") at any serious rate. That much is clear. Would there not be a race to the bottom in property taxes just as in any other kind? Seems like it.

November 17, 2008 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

it's hard to race for the bottom when some large interest can simply buy all of the property when it becomes cheap --

which leads to a possible problem in the set-your-own-value scheme -- what's to stop a corporate/government collusion from either threatening to buy houses (therefore making revenue increase with self-set housing price increases) or deliberately lowering home value (say by buying a plot of land near some McMansions and turning it into a landfill)?

M

November 17, 2008 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous The Ashen Man said...

TGGP: Why are the Protestants of Northern Ireland called "Orangemen"? Because of the Protestant King, William of Orange. His coming over was the "glorious revolution", and MM references "the only revolution that ever truly was glorious". MM has very little regard for the Soros-Sharp mob-actions.

That's funny - I thought I remembered Mencius redefining the Eastern European uprisings, approvingly of course, as 'restorations.' I then connected his references to orange with that. But if you're right, as seems to be the case, then he certainly has got some 'splaining to do. Not that we can ever expect him to do it.

I have to nitpick on a detail - 'Orangemen' normally refers to members of the Orange Order rather than NI Protestants in general.

Robert/Semtex: You are dragging this blog down to the level of a Youtube comments thread.

All: How about just ignoring commenters without handles?

November 17, 2008 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

Since MM permits anon posting, you have no basis for complaint if people post anon.

Since MM permits whining about anon posting, you have no basis for complaint if people whine about anon posting.

Get a nym. You're just as untrackable using name/URL with a random URL.

November 17, 2008 at 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

which leads to a possible problem in the set-your-own-value scheme -- what's to stop a corporate/government collusion from either threatening to buy houses (therefore making revenue increase with self-set housing price increases) or deliberately lowering home value (say by buying a plot of land near some McMansions and turning it into a landfill)?

I haven't worked out a reply to your second question. As to the first, I'd say there would be a constant threat of buying, which would naturally keep assessed home prices pretty high. (I'm not sure if selling would have to be to the highest bidder; could someone bitter at "purchase threats" price himself out of their market, pay the additional taxes, and then turn around and sell for less to his pal?)

Still, I think the that Laffer maximum applies to total tax taken in, not the rate. Is that right? What I mean is, if a government tried to keep its rate deceptively low (to attract immigrants, say), and then rake in the bucks by always looking ready to buy, it would drive homeowners out just as if it just set the rate high in the first place. Some people might be fooled, and some people might buy land just because they'd know it would be easy to "flip" if they wanted a chance of scene. But I think in general people could always look at property values and see for themselves if they are worth it. Land with prices inflated by government raiders (odd concept!) seems pretty unattractive.

I like self-assessed property tax a lot, but there are some thorny questions about it.

November 17, 2008 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Curve --

I'm in the same boat -- and since I'm friends with some RFL folks who are looking at platforms, I'm trying to flesh out all the problems with a property-tax-only scheme.

November 17, 2008 at 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then Mencius Moldbug is also an idiot, because he describes the New Deal era as the Progressive wing of the Republican party hijacking the Democratic party.

Which is not to say that the "progressives" back then are the same as the "progressives" right now! A 1908 progressive would be considered a hopelessly reactionary dinosaur today!

Then once you've gotten around to that, try and find somewhere where I said that the Supreme Court was more respected than the MILITARY rather than any ELECTED BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT.

You linked the Supreme Court and the military together, which is wrong, since the approval ratings of the military are head and shoulders above those of SCOTUS. This poll lists public confidence in the military at 71%, and you will note the poll was NOT taken on Veteran's Day:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/108142/Confidence-Congress-Lowest-Ever-Any-US-Institution.aspx

SCOTUS is at 32% compared to 26% for the President and 12% for Congress, and even at that, SCOTUS approval is certainly artificially inflated, since unlike Congress and the Presidency, SCOTUS doesn't come to people's attention very often (only when there is a controversial decision).

Hey semtex, if you think the nation-state is going to remain intact by the end of the twenty first century, be my guest. But you haven't proven that decentralized manufacturing is impossible. It has already been proven possible and it is improving.

Decentralized manufacturing may be possible, but this does not establish that your idea of desktop fabricators (no doubt based on some sort of nanotech) are possible or imminent.

It's not my fault that you don't understand the concept of deterrence and MAD.

Your claim that individuals or city-states could have a viable nuclear deterrent (based on home manufacturing!) shows an exceptionally poor understanding of deterrence and MAD. The very idea is laughable.

I'm just playing the same game as anonymous.

My game is called "making you prove what you say". Your game is called, "shout ad hominems, make wild claims about technology, and refuse to substantiate any arguments with actual fact".

Well, if you want to argue that something is technically do-able when the US government has spent a lot of time and money on it (and really, really wanted to do it) then the burden of proof is on you, not me. The bar is pretty high for proving that such a bomb is feasible, and you're not even close to clearing it.
Apparently you know nothing about government waste.


So now your claim is that anything and everything the government has ever tried to do is actually technologically possible, and only "government waste" stands in the way of its fulfillment?

Sorry, but the fact that government waste exists does not prove that pure-fusion bombs are technologically feasible.

You are comparing something that is physically impossible with something that is impossible. Do you even know how impossible ftl is?

You have not established that your "desktop fabricator" is physically possible. And no, extrapolating from the manufacturing techniques that exist today does not prove this.

Since semtex and anonymous thinks desktop manufacturing is impossible, here is a start to understand what it really is.

This does not establish that your idea of "printing out fusion bombs" is possible.

even very small aqueous homogeneous nuclear reactors work

The link says they require Uranium or Plutonium for their operation, so mtraven's objection stands.

Robert/Semtex: You are dragging this blog down to the level of a Youtube comments thread.

I would add TGGP to that list.

Since MM permits whining about anon posting, you have no basis for complaint if people whine about anon posting.

I'm not complaining, just indicating my total indifference to the complaints of others.

November 17, 2008 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Complainonymous,

The whole idea of progressivism is to progress -- each iteration is farther down the spiral.

With all of that, TR's progessives were certainly for big and intrusive government -- proggies to the core.

November 17, 2008 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole idea of progressivism is to progress -- each iteration is farther down the spiral.

Yeah, no duh. But all progressives are not the same across the decades. Progressive views have evolved and become more extreme. The "progressives" of the TR era at some point became mainstream.

November 17, 2008 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Um, yes. MM covered this quite some time ago -- in pointing out why the outside party is completely pointless -- it's just the inner party of 30 or 40 years ago.

November 17, 2008 at 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, yes. MM covered this quite some time ago -- in pointing out why the outside party is completely pointless -- it's just the inner party of 30 or 40 years ago.

Um, then why are you taking issue with what I say? Just being contentious for its own sake?

November 17, 2008 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Terry North said:
If the RepRap project is any indication we'll be waiting far into the second half of the 21st century before distributed fabrication approaches the capabilities of today's factories, not to mention the advances in factories in the intervening years. I very much doubt that the benefits of centralized manufacturing will be neutralized within my lifetime.

I would have to agree with you. My original question assumed "late twenty first century".

November 17, 2008 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous said:
The link says they require Uranium or Plutonium for their operation, so mtraven's objection stands.

Actually, the link shows that there are designs of these reactors that use naturally available Thorium.
From the link:

"Should methods and/or materials be developed to solve their difficult corrosion problems, they would be excellent breeders of uranium-233 fuels from thorium, and also be incapable of net, or bomb grade, plutonium production. The ability to extract medical isotopes directly from in-line fuel has sparked renewed interest in aqueous homogeneous reactors[1]."

So you take Thorium and breed U-233 from it.

U-233:
"It is also possible to use uranium-233 as the fission fuel of a nuclear weapon, although this has been done only occasionally. The United States first tested U-233 as part of a bomb core in Operation Teapot in 1955.[1] Uranium-233 compares roughly to Plutonium-239: its radioactivity is only one seventh (159 200 years half-life versus 24 100 years), but its bare critical mass is 60% higher (16 kg versus 10 kg), and its spontaneous fission rate is twenty times higher (6x10E-9 versus 3x10E-10) - but since the radioactivity is lower, the neutron density is only three times higher. A nuclear explosive device based on Uranium-233 is therefore more of a technical challenge than with plutonium, but the technological level involved is roughly the same. The main difference is the co-presence of uranium-232, that makes uranium-233 very dangerous to work on, and quite easy to detect."

U-233 will need more shielding than Pu-239(bred from U-238) to handle it and hide it.

November 17, 2008 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

If you can't figure out that invading nuclear armed territories is crazy, I'm not going to bother arguing with you semtex.

November 17, 2008 at 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ashenman

Ah, we are discussing ideas, but let's ignore the ideas of others if they are anonymous. What a very contradictory position.

Please ashenman don't degrade this conversation to the level youtubery as the others have done. Let the ideas stand for themselves or not. Yours is an aesthetic position, nothing more.

November 17, 2008 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Only not quite --

The progressive positions of TR's time became "mainstream" -- but the progressives progressed on.

The idea behind Moldbugginism is to scrap progressivism all together and go with a workable, stable, fixed system. (while avoiding the pitfalls of other such systems throughout history)

November 17, 2008 at 7:33 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Anspirit believes that my mention of how quickly the Berlin Wall went up from the point of swinging into action is "mixing [sic] apples and oranges", on the grounds that the Soviets were already militarised and it would take some time to miltarise, during which things would be noticed. But that was nothing to do with the military aspect, only the business of construction. You don't need a military to build emigration barriers!

One of the anonymouses (anonymice?) thinks that my "even very small aqueous homogeneous nuclear reactors work" is countered by "The link says they require Uranium or Plutonium for their operation, so mtraven's objection stands".

That's a bait and switch. The objection Mtraven made was "How is that going to work, are they going to pull U-235 [emphasis added] out of thin air?" I pointed out that you don't need to do that, because it is practical to make small reactors that don't need that. What those need is either U-233 bred from Thorium, Plutonium bred from U-238, or plain ordinary undepleted Uranium (which let the first breeders get started). The reactors get round the problem of getting U-235.

November 17, 2008 at 9:53 PM  

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