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A Brief Introduction to Propertarianism
(Propertarianism’s Core Concepts for Libertarians.)
by Eli Harman
What is Propertarianism?
Propertarianism is a scientific, rational, empirical, approach to understanding and analyzing human behavior, incentives, norms, institutions, cooperation and conflict originated by Curt Doolittle and developed by him in cooperation with others.
What is Science?
Science, or the “scientific method” is an empirical method for gaining understanding of reality and access to truth. Many people, including many so-called “scientists” do not understand the scientific method, why it works, or why it is valuable. You can be sure you are dealing with a pseudo-scientist whenever you hear phrases like “settled science”, “scientifically proven”, or “the scientific consensus”. The errors of these pseudo-scientists are rooted in “justificationism” the philosophical belief that science is about acquiring factual support or supporting evidence to “justify” theories. In this view, truth is “justified true belief”. Not only must belief be true to qualify as knowledge, but it must also be “justified.” One must have a good reason for believing it.
In contrast, critical rationalism, an epistemology (philosophy of truth and knowledge) developed by Karl Popper and others, advances a standard of “true belief.” Knowledge, as “true belief,” does not need to be justified, because it cannot be justified. It only needs to be true. And the method of arriving at true belief is not justification, but falsification, “conjecture and refutation.” We advance towards the truth by identifying and discarding error, by process of elimination.
We acquire facts by observation and measurement. In order to understand facts, how they relate to each other and the world, and to predict the future, we need theories. Theories are causal models developed through conjecture and refutation to explain the relationships of facts to one another and to the wider world.
For any given set of facts, there may be many internally and externally consistent theories to explain them. Ancient astronomers, observing the apparent motions of celestial bodies from the vantage point of Earth, developed a geocentric model of the solar system (informed by their own biases and perception, of the Earth they inhabited as a fixed frame of reference).
As the precision of the observations increased, the complexity of the model had to increase, for example to explain observed phenomena like retrograde motion by adding epicycles. Eventually, enough facts were amassed through observation to falsify, or disprove, the geocentric model, and a new model had to be adopted, heliocentrism. As it turned out, heliocentrism also explained the facts a lot more simply and elegantly.
This is called parsimony. A simpler model is generally preferable to a more complex model, if they both account for the available facts. This is the essence of Ockham’s razor “entities are not to be needlessly multiplied”. A simpler model is easier to test or to falsify, but if it fails it can be salvaged with tweaks or ad hoc rationalizations that make it more complex, but save it from falsification. This is often an indication that something is wrong with the model.
However, it’s important to note that until geocentrism was conclusively falsified, both geocentrism and heliocentrism were able to explain the available evidence. If we have multiple theories to explain the facts, we are looking for more evidence to start dis-confirming, refuting, or falsifying some of them. Hopefully, what’s left is the truth. If we falsify all of the theories we have, we have to come up with more through conjecture.
Any source of conjectures is potentially valid, educated guesses, wild guesses, visions, dreams, drug induced hallucinations, “divine revelation,” you name it. But it has to be testable, it has to be falsifiable (capable of being falsified by some fact, observation, or measurement), and it has to survive falsification attempts in order to survive and be adopted as a theory. If we adopt a theory, that doesn’t mean it’s true. No matter how many subsequent observations, measurements, or facts agree with the theory, it will never be “proven” or “justified.” We can’t be sure that the next observation we make, the next measurement we take, or the next fact that we learn won’t falsify the entire theory. This is known as the problem of induction and has been discussed since at least David Hume. A theory that stands for a long time and survives many falsification attempts is not proven, it is simply not falsified, yet. This is because the truth of a theory depends on ALL of the facts, not just those that we know, but those that we don’t know, and even those that we don’t know we don’t know. On the other hand, a theory can be conclusively disproven or falsified by one or a few facts actually in our possession, or our personal, first-hand knowledge. Our theories are never proven, but the more they are disproved, hopefully, the better the remaining ones become, on average. This is how we acquire knowledge and understanding. It’s an evolutionary process that tends to improve our knowledge and understanding over time, but we can never actually be sure that we’ve finally got it.
Testimonialism is limiting your speech and communication to testimony of that which is your personal, first-hand, knowledge; free of assumption, bias, error, misunderstanding, leaps to conclusions, etc… For example, I took a phone call at my office one time from someone who wanted me to relay a message to a coworker. I realized I had no knowledge of the message’s content so instead of simply relaying the content without context I decided to report that it had been relayed to me. Then I realized the source, too, was not personally known to me. It could have been anybody on the phone, for all I knew. So the email I eventually sent my coworker read “I received a message from someone identifying themselves as so-and-so who wanted me to tell you such and such.” As it turned out, the message was accurate and the source was who they said they were. But if you limit yourself to testimony it’s easy to speak truthfully, to place your statements in the proper context and communicate your confidence in them along with the content. Whereas, if you do NOT practice testimonialism it’s easy to pass on error, deception, bias, or imaginary content without caveat or without realizing it.
A good heuristic for practicing testimonialism is to use E-Prime, which is basically English purged of the verb “to be.” Instead of talking of how things ARE, speak of how they seem, how they appear, or how you perceive them. This is more accurate testimony. Existential claims about things’ ultimate nature are usually extrapolations, assumptions, or errors… That’s theory, not fact, and we have a whole discipline of science constructed around being careful with how we construct and state theories.
There is an old joke; An astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician are on a train in Scotland. The astronomer looks out of the window, sees a black sheep standing in a field, and remarks, “How odd. All the sheep in Scotland are black!” “No, no, no!” says the physicist. “Only some Scottish sheep are black.” The mathematician rolls his eyes at his companions’ muddled thinking and says, “In Scotland, there is at least one sheep, at least one side of which appears to be black from here, some of the time.” (I think the joke has the mathematician as the voice of wisdom because of the statistical problems with generalizing from a single example. But more typically, mathematicians are rationalists, concerned with internal consistency, while scientists are empiricists, who deal in external correspondence with reality.)
Testimonialism is important because there can be many aspects of the truth and each of us may perceive them differently, or may perceive different aspects of the same question, from different perspectives. If we make leaps or assumptions and assume our perception IS reality then anyone with a different perception is wrong and we have to fight about it. But if we simply report accurate testimony of our perceptions we can compare it to the testimony of others without having to assume they are wrong. Even if they differ we don’t have to assume one or more are false but can use both to help build a more accurate or complete picture or model of reality.
Operationalism means speaking in operations or actions, like a recipe or a computer program. Science is operational because a proper, non-pseudoscientific, science paper is basically like a recipe. “Set up this experiment in this way and conduct it just so and you should observe these results.” If someone follows the recipe and observes different results, the conclusion will have to be revisited.
People frequently do NOT speak operationally. They speak in metaphors, analogies, meanings, or existence claims, instead of actions and operations. When you do not speak operationally it is easy to engage in error, bias, wishful thinking, suggestion, conflation, fraud, or deception.
Consider the phrase “I love you.” There is a lot of moral and emotional content in that short but highly meaningful utterance and I’d wager most people who use it, most times, aren’t thinking about all of that or its many weighty and subtle implications. “I love you” is frequently not an honest statement, either for reasons of willful duplicity or out of simple ignorance. But if we break it down in operational terms we can gain a more precise understanding of its meaning and benefit from employing it more correctly and conscientiously.
I think that “love” (noun) refers to the condition in which one’s happiness depends on another’s.
Therefore “to love” (verb) must mean to act in a manner consistent with this condition prevailing.
So we can put “I love you” in operational terms and say that it means “I promise that if you test the hypothesis that my happiness depends on your own against my actions, you will not find it untrue”.
Propertarianism Grew Out of Libertarianism.
Curt Doolittle and many of his students are former libertarians or students of the libertarian project, which is itself descended from and something of a reboot of enlightenment classical liberalism.
Classical liberalism evolved into progressive liberalism and eventually postmodern liberalism, as classical liberalism’s concerns with individual liberty and individual rights evolved into preoccupation with individual self-expression and the immediate satisfaction of individual desires.
Somewhat dismayed with this development, libertarians sought to restore enlightenment classical liberalism and place it on a firmer moral and theoretical foundation. The culmination of this project is arguably Anarcho-capitalism, the analysis and advocacy of a totally stateless, private, free-market, social, political, and economic order.
The problem is the moral and theoretical arguments made by libertarians are not scientific. They are rationalist, justificationist, pseudo-scientific, and moralistic.
Libertarians frequently start out from what they consider irrefutable moral or praxeological axioms and then attempt to reason out comprehensive systems of moral imperatives or theoretical understanding through deductive logic; which they then regard as apodictically true, or irrefutable. Unfortunately, this methodology leads to building intricate castles in the sky based on magnification of subtle errors in assumptions or reasoning. Where these impressive, but often useless, and sometimes harmful, edifices of intellectual effort disagree with observable reality, libertarians hand wave the discrepancies away because logically, their conclusions MUST be true.
Libertarian moral and descriptive theories are usually internally consistent, but not externally correspondent with observable reality. They are not scientific. They are not empirical. Like Marxism, they are rationalism and moralism.
To correct these errors, Propertarianism seeks to reconcile what is salvageable from the libertarian project, from classical liberalism, and from pre-enlightenment Aristocracy, by subjecting it to the scientific method, falsifying what is false, retaining and incorporating what survives into a new body of theory, knowledge, understanding and practice necessary and sufficient for the restoration of Western Civilization (and others.)
Propertarianism is not a political program in its own right. It is a methodology for understanding, analyzing and discussing political institutions, recommendations, and proposals, as well as other aspects of human behavior, laundered of error, bias, wishful thinking, and imaginary content (just as science, more generally, is a methodology for understanding anything, laundered of error, bias, wishful thinking, and imaginary content). Propertarian methods can be used to analyze, construct, or discuss proposals, recommendations, and institutions informed by libertarian, conservative, progressive, aristocratic, populist or any other preferences or values. Propertarianism is a descriptive approach. It is not a prescriptive approach. Propertarianism can tell you what is truthful, and what is possible, and what is untruthful and what is impossible, but people are still always going to differ on what is GOOD or what is DESIRABLE. The aim of
Propertarianism, is that people may, by discussing and negotiating truthfully, cooperatively arrive at productive solutions that accommodate their respective preferences and values, through reciprocal exchange. The alternatives are conflict, compulsion, fraud, parasitism and theft.
Preferences and Values
Facts are objective. They are gathered from observation and measurement of objective reality. Theories explaining facts are objective, though they may be true or false. But preferences and values are subjective. They are internal and particular to specific actors, agents, and entities. Moral theories are generally moralisms. They aim to universalize the particular, subjective, preferences and values of some groups or individuals to others, so that they may assert that their preferences and values are binding and obligatory upon others and obtain what they want at a discount, by not accommodating the preferences and values of those others, but demanding that those others accommodate theirs. This is what progressives are generally doing when they demand handouts, benefits, or respect; what libertarians are doing when they demand liberty and property rights; and what conservatives are doing when they demand moral or traditional behavior. This is contentious because it is not reciprocal. When you demand what you want from others, you are seeking to impose a cost, if only an opportunity cost, or extract a benefit. But if you do so without offering them something they want in return, you are demanding that they do so at a loss. People seek to avoid losses and so they will resist you.
Propertarianism eschews moralizing, and instead focuses on stating facts, values and preferences truthfully, as facts, values, and preferences, so that people may negotiate exchanges to accommodate their differing values and preferences, based on agreed upon facts. That is reciprocal. Moralisms are not reciprocal. Moralisms aim to influence the behavior of others by justifying behavior that is in the moralizer’s interests and delegitimizing behavior that is contrary to the moralizer’s interests in order to induce others to serve the moralizer’s interests, even at the expense of their own, without compensation, or at a large discount relative to productive exchanges negotiated honestly.
Reciprocity and Cooperation.
All cooperation is based on reciprocity. You must give in order to receive. Exchange or trade is how cooperation is brokered, with each party giving, in their own estimation, in light of their own preferences and values, less than they receive, so that the result is mutual benefit. The law of reciprocity is the foundation of cooperation. When reciprocity is violated, cooperation breaks down.
For example, libertarians often defend “price gouging” on the grounds that it’s a natural consequence of supply and demand, helps to prevent or alleviate shortages, and prices are still the most efficient way of rationing scarce resources, even under extreme or unusual circumstances. This is largely correct. However, it ignores that “price gouging” is a violation of reciprocity. Under normal circumstances people don’t mind interacting with profit maximizing actors because competitive profits in equilibrated markets, or producer surpluses, are roughly proportional to consumer surpluses, or the benefit derived by the consumer from the transaction. Furthermore, people have options, they can choose not to transact or to transact with other suppliers. Mutual benefit, or reciprocity, are in full effect. But when people suffer misfortune, they start to resent others profiting from their misfortune (even if that alleviates it somewhat) rather than sharing in it. Abiding by market rules is actually a form of altruism, whereby participants forego certain benefits (like the proceeds of theft, fraud, defection, or nonperformance) for the benefit of other individuals in order to obtain some longer term rewards (the benefits of ongoing, productive, cooperation and exchange.) When price gougers ask consumers to continue respecting their property rights and to pay higher prices to ration their consumption, insure availability for others, and incentivize the flow of resources to where they are most needed, they are asking consumers to behave MORE altruistically then normal, to bear larger costs, and forego larger benefits, for the sake of others, while they themselves only PROFIT more than normal. In other words, price gougers behave less altruistically than normal while they demand their customers behave more altruistically. This is the violation of reciprocity that people intuit that leads to anger, retaliation, violence, looting, and vigilantism rather than paying elevated prices. Some other solution to local shortages after catastrophes or emergencies will have to be found. Either regulate “price gouging” to keep it moderate and supplement it with non-price rationing, and/or tax the proceeds of “price gouging” and redistribute them to everyone affected, or publicly provide critical supplies so people have a ready alternative to paying elevated prices. But just leaving things to “the market” in this case, doesn’t end best.
The Ternary Logic of Cooperation.
People can interact in 3 different ways:
- Cooperation. (Altruism, exchange, trade.)
- Noncooperation (Disassociation, boycott)
- Conflict (War, fraud, parasitism, theft, crime.)
People will generally follow their incentives and choose the mode of interaction that is most profitable for them. If you wish to cooperate with others, you must create incentives favoring cooperation. You must have something to offer them so that cooperation is preferable to noncooperation. And you must have something to threaten them with so that cooperation is preferable to conflict. (The carrot and the stick.)
But there is no categorical imperative to cooperate instead of not cooperate, or even instead of conflicting. Sometimes, with some people, we might prefer to conflict. If what someone demands in exchange for their cooperation is not worth what they’re willing to provide, and they’re not willing to leave you alone, conflict is the only solution. People follow their incentives.
What Makes Propertarianism Propertarian?
One of the central insights of propertarianism is that all rights are property rights, and that human cooperation, actions, and conflicts can be modeled as property transaction, or conflicts over property, or as attempts to preserve, increase, transfer, redistribute, loot, seize, destroy, defend or avoid losing inventories of property.
The libertarian “life, liberty, and property” are obviously property rights, pertaining to and deriving from “self-ownership” and ownership of personal, private, property. The leftists’ assertions that “workers own the means of production” or “workers are entitled to the surplus value their labor creates” or “healthcare is a human right” are simply rival property claims that often conflict with the libertarian ones. Conservative concerns for protecting norms, security, order, culture, nation, and ethnicity are less obvious because these are forms of shared, common, often intangible, property, but they are still things over which people demonstrate a sense of ownership and which they will defend by retaliating against violations of or attacks against.
What is Property?
Property is that which individuals and groups demonstrate a willingness and ability to defend. Territoriality is common behavior among animals and the behavior takes a prototypical form. First, there will be a claim. A wolf will go out and piss on the boundaries of the territory he claims. This is a promise, that if another member of his species enters his territory and attempts to make use of it, there will be a conflict. If this occurs, the claim is defended, and the conflict is settled with a fight. The original claim will be upheld, or it will be overturned and the rival claim sustained in its stead.
The only difference with human property is our territoriality can take much more varied and sophisticated forms and be given all sorts of different expressions. We’re not limited to pissing on territory. So property could be physical, private, property, or it could be the market value of the same. It could be physical, common, property, like a park. It could be common, intangible, property: like public order and decency, the integrity of our language or culture, truth in the “marketplace of ideas,” the ancestral gene pool, or something else. It could be private but intangible: reputation, intellectual property, honor, etc…
Libertarians have a theory of legitimate private property originating in original appropriation and subsequent exchange. This is sometimes called “Intersubjectively Verifiable Property” (IVP) which means “property people can agree who owns” and it basically limits the scope of “legitimate” property to personal, private, property. But people will intuit assaults on or theft of common and intangible property as a loss and they will retaliate against it. So if the purpose of property rights, norms, and regimes, is to minimize conflicts by codifying who owns what, and consequently, who may do what, where, and why, then libertarian IVP fails as a property regime and a property norm, because there are whole categories of conflict it does not address nor prevent because it does not codify property rights in things that people value (with good reason) and conflict over, but actually licenses parasitism, theft, destruction, and freeriding in these domains by prohibiting retaliation against it.
Property in Toto.
Propertarians speak of “Property in Toto” or property in all of its forms, to include everything over which people lay claim, everything over which people demonstrate ownership, everything people defend and everything over which people conflict.
If someone wants to fight you because you are insulting his woman’s honor, it’s pointless to maintain that he has no “right” to fight you because you have a “right” to say whatever you want to about her. He’s going to want to fight you, and he probably will, all your protests or arguments to the contrary notwithstanding. “Rights” arguments are generally a means of trying to get your way or justify and license your own behavior without paying its full costs (one cost of insulting someone’s woman is the cost of defending yourself from retaliation in defense of her honor.)
The fact that someone wants to fight you to defend his woman’s honor demonstrates that he considers this his property. Your critiques of its legitimacy as property are irrelevant. Your antagonist regards it as property and is willing to defend it. His violence is demonstration of his sincerity and conviction. It’s time to shut up and put up. You have violated his property and you can either apologize and attempt to make amends, or you can defend yourself from his retaliation and attempt to assert, sustain and defend a rival or contradictory property claim.
Likewise, it will do you no good to argue that people “shouldn’t” defend the market value of their property by getting together and forming homeowner’s associations, or zoning boards, to regulate and retaliate against activities that diminish the value of nearby properties. If someone starts doing something nearby that’s noisy, smelly, ugly, or that imposes some other cost on you and your property, it’s going to decrease the value of the property because other people are going to reckon it as a cost as well and they’re going to be willing to pay less for your property at sale. So if people can preserve the value of their property by preventing or punishing such activities in populated areas, they will. Libertarians see this as a conflict between rights over physical property (to do what you want with it) and some kind of intangible property (value) which they regard as illegitimate. But there is no reason the physical property is more legitimate. People value things subjectively and there is a great deal of inter-subjective agreement on the things people value and don’t value. It’s not totally arbitrary. This case does present us with a trade-off between different values. But that’s nothing unusual. Life is full of trade-offs, and it’s probably economically efficient to incontinence people to do cost-imposing things in underpopulated areas where there is nobody to complain. The value of a populated area is chiefly its value for living and working in ways that don’t impinge on others. And if others impinge on you, that reduces the value of living in a populated area. So if you want to obtain the most value from living in such an area, you must give up the value of being able to do just whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want. You can smelt copper or slaughter hogs pretty much anywhere, and the cost of being far away from other things are small compared to the costs you would impose on them by being close.
These are just a few examples of property in toto, property in all its forms. But they are not the only examples.
This is a factual, descriptive, conception of property, not a moral one.
In practice, you have the property and property rights that the people around you are willing to concede that you have, and willing to help you defend and uphold. One man cannot stand alone against the world. But enough in confederation can hold hostile hordes at bay indefinitely. Property and property rights are obtained in exchange. You recognize and uphold mine and I’ll do the same for yours. The necessary standard to make property rights durable is mutual insurance, not just “respect mine and I’ll respect yours” but “DEFEND mine and I’ll DEFEND yours.” Practically speaking, you can’t have any rights without positive duties and obligations. Libertarians go wrong when they make a distinction between “positive” and “negative” rights. All rights are positive rights because NO rights can be enjoyed without enforcement and defense; and enforcement and defense must be proactive and have positive costs (although the benefits may be greater.)
Any claims by libertarians that rights are “natural,” “God-given”, “innate,” “inalienable,” “selfevident,” or anything of the sort are moralistic attempts to obtain rights at a discount, without paying the full cost of asserting, maintaining, and defending them, by convincing others to PROVIDE them at their expense. But there can be no such thing, in practice, as a right not to contribute to the maintenance and defense of rights that one demands. Rights, in practice, have to be maintained and defended. Non-contribution to the maintenance and defense of rights is not conducive to their maintenance and defense. Demands for rights while refusing to enter into reciprocal duties and obligations to defend rights is a violation of reciprocity and an act of parasitism, not conducive to long term cooperation. Without cooperation, no rights can successfully be maintained and defended.
Non-Aggression vs. Non-Parasitism
Besides the different conceptions of property and rights, the main point of departure of propertarianism from libertarianism is rejection of the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP.) The NAP is in some sense question begging, because it depends critically on a theory of property. Without a theory of property you can’t tell what is aggression and what isn’t, what is defense, retaliation, etc… So libertarians and communists, for example, could conflict bitterly without ever engaging in aggression (against their own respective theories of property) but only to defend, on the one hand, property homesteaded by original appropriation or acquired by subsequent exchange, and, on the other hand, the surplus value created by labor and various equal or universal entitlements…
But there is also no reason to extend enemies the benefit of non-aggression if they will not extend the same to you. That’s non-reciprocal. That’s a cost without benefit. You have to forego the benefits of aggression against your enemies, either preempting their aggression or actually plundering, looting, enslaving, or killing them, and you don’t get anything in return for your generosity or forbearance. They certainly won’t avoid doing any of that to you if they have the opportunity.
Libertarians maintain that voluntary transactions and exchanges are always mutually beneficial (or if not, they’re simply, one-off errors and not systematically non-beneficial, or non-mutual.) So “voluntary” is the only requirement transactions have to meet in order to be productive, according to libertarians. This is consistent with the Non-Aggression Principle. But fraud by asymmetry of information is certainly possible, even if someone makes no explicit representation of the suitability of their product or service for a particular purpose, it’s possible to offer one that SEEMS so suitable, and only the individual or firm offering it knows better or knows different (until the fraud is discovered.) Libertarianism would license such fraud by prohibiting retaliation against it (because it does not rise to the level of aggression or explicit fraud.) But there might be
good reason to prohibit and suppress parasitism and fraud, in all of their forms, even at the cost of committing aggression, to limit people to genuinely productive behavior.
So to the condition of “voluntary” we must add “fully informed” and “warrantied.”
Finally, transactions and exchanges have costs and benefits not only to those directly party to them (who are in charge of making the decision to transact or exchange) but also to others, not party. If the interests of those others are to be accounted for when the decision is made to transact or not to transact, they must have redress, if the decision imposes a cost on them, or deprives them of some benefit.
So we must add another condition to our “non-parasitism principle”
“Nothing but voluntary, fully informed, warrantied, transactions, free from negative externality… else we fight.”
If you will permit me to speak metaphorically, the cold hand of Darwin will punish us just as surely for not engaging in aggression judiciously as for engaging in aggression injudiciously. Libertarians are content to leave the benefits of judicious aggression on the table for the sake of principle. But a principle of leaving benefits on the table is not an evolutionarily competitive one and that’s why libertarianism has never gone anywhere and never will.
In high trust markets, warranty is typically offered by producers to vendors, and by vendors to consumers. This is a promise that the product or service will meet some expectation and compensation if it doesn’t. Basically, the producer assumes full responsibility to the vendor, and the vendor to the consumer, that the product or service will fulfill its stated purpose or function to a specified degree.
Warranty is productive because producers have more information about the product or service and more control over quality than vendors and vendors more than consumers. So warranty incentivizes the achievement of the best outcomes at lowest cost by making the cost of failure incident explicitly upon those able to deliver success.
The alternative, caveat emptor, “buyer beware” is tremendously costly and inefficient in comparison, and leads to wasteful duplication of effort, as every consumer has to do extensive and costly research before every transaction.
This is the standard that prevails in low trust markets, where haggling is the norm, all sales are final, return policies are non-existent (and probably cannot exist, because they would be abused) people rely on relatives and extended family for most needs, crime, violence, fraud, corruption and nepotism are rife, etc… All this leads to very high transaction costs and standards of living suffer because many trades that might otherwise occur do not.
A negative externality is an imposed cost. Anything you do which imposes a cost on others, whether noise, odor, unsightly or distracting imagery, risk, or what have you, is a negative externality. Profiting personally from imposing negative externalities on others is parasitic. You are accumulating property in Toto by diminishing the inventories of property held by others. Those others might rather you did something productive, which benefited you and others but did not impose a cost on them, or at least compensated them for their loss (which creates productive incentives and makes losses calculable.) But if you don’t do something productive, and if you don’t compensate people for the losses you cause, they will retaliate against you, or they will demand the government retaliate against you on their behalf.
To use just one example; there was a bit of a flap a few years ago about an app someone had created to enable people to auction “their” public parking spaces in San Francisco.
Some libertarians were defending the creator and users of the app by saying they were creating and selling information about the location of available parking spaces and/or that the spaces were public and therefore unowned.
Building parking places and auctioning off their use is a productive activity that increases the supply of parking spaces to meet demand. Profit is, in this case, both the signal that guides production and the incentive to be productive. But looking for common parking spaces to park in and then demanding payment to move is not a productive behavior, it is theft of commons and free-riding. The profit one may earn doing this is neither an incentive to increase the supply of parking spaces nor a reward for doing so, it is simply taking of what is already there from those who are already using it. That behavior *reduces* the availability of parking spaces for those using them according to generally accepted rules and offers to selectively stop reducing the availability, for a fee. If the whole reason you are in a parking spot, or still in a parking spot, is so that you can charge someone to move, then you are not simply offering to find and sell information on parking spot availability, you are the cause of it, but you can only create availability by first creating unavailability, imposing a negative externality. People who impose a cost and then offer to stop imposing it, for compensation, are rightly regarded as knaves.
Another example: if you run a crack house in a nice neighborhood you are profiting from imposing negative externalities on your neighbors. There is noise, odor, strange, unsightly, untrustworthy, people coming and going, petty crime, risk, intoxicated people stumbling about, a degradation in safety, security, order, and public decency. A libertarian might maintain that it is your “right” to run a crack house, because it is your house. And besides, the costs are largely imposed by the customers you’re not responsible for their actions. If you have a problem with them, take it up with them. But of course the things are causally related. No crack house, no customers… And so it is totally rational for neighbors to retaliate against the crack house for the costs imposed by its customers by kicking in its doors and shutting it down, or as the case may be, delegating that prerogative to the government to exercise on their behalf.
If you do not address externalities, imposed costs, and parasitism by some means, either by law, or by informal retaliation, then people are going to demand authority to address the issues for them.
Libertarians really shoot themselves in the foot, even on their own terms, by defending property norms or non-aggression principles that license parasitism or negative externalities (by prohibiting retaliation against them) because that will only increase the demand for either informal retaliation or authority. Libertarianism, as typically articulated, increases the demand for authority. Another instance where this is the case is open borders and mass migration, which many, but not all, libertarians support. People will experience the erosion of their culture and language and the diminishment of their ethnic group (relative to others) as well as political externalities arising from demographic subjugation and displacement by alien ethnic groups under democracy, the loss of social trust and intensification of ethnic rivalries from diversity, and other consequences of open borders or mass migration as costs or losses of property. This will increase demand for authority in the form of militarized police to deal with crime, terrorism, ethnic strife and disorder and eventually to enact border and immigration controls.
If liberty is your goal, which is freedom from arbitrary authority, don’t propose policy changes which will increase demand for arbitrary authority. This is an example of a proposal failing a test of existential possibility (more on that later.)
In order to have any property, and in order to have any rights, individuals team up into groups capable of asserting and defending their rights and their property claims together against all challengers.
Naive collectivism holds that the group is primary and individual are secondary; that group interests and rights are primary and individual interests and rights are secondary. But this fails methodological individualism. Factually speaking, only individuals have interests because only individuals hold preferences and values (although they may share these in a group.) Individuals form cooperative groups because it is in their individual interests to do so.
Individual vs. collective is a trade-off. Sometimes, what’s good for the individual is not good for the collective, (other individuals) and they may profitably restrain or impose upon the individual.
But it is in the interest of the individual to be part of a good collective. So as long as the benefits of being in a collective outweigh the costs (including opportunity costs) then the individual will remain in the collective.
The same is true in the other direction. So long as the benefits of retaining an individual in a collective exceed the costs of doing the same, then the collective will do so.
The smaller and more numerous and more varied the collectives, the more closely they can match every individual’s preferences and values.
But the smaller the collectives, the less able they are to assert and defend the rights and interests of their individual members against others. Here, as elsewhere, we are faced with a trade-off.
Naive individualism or atomistic individualism holds that the individual is SO primary that it is never in his interests to form or to enter into any durable collective or group. Only ad hoc or temporary cooperation is worthwhile, beneficial, or permitted.
But this too, fails methodological individualism. Empirically, as a matter of fact, individuals DO form collectives and groups. And many of these collectives and groups prove durable. Productive collectives, those that serve the interests of individual members, are competitive relative to atomistic individuals who won’t enter into collective. History furnishes no example of a society of atomistic individuals remaining atomistic individuals in competition or conflict with individuals who have group identity and solidarity. If it were desirable or possible, there should be some.
In truth though, all *three* of the principal western political orientations are profoundly and fundamentally individualistic.
Leftism is individualism for those with instantaneous time horizons. Food and shelter and medicine and college and debt forgiveness and status and orgasms for ME, right now, regardless of the costs to others or to society or to my future self.
Libertarianism is individualism for those with intermediate time horizons, who recognize some of the incentives and conditions necessary for engaging in production and exchange: so all of that *through* and *because* of property rights and markets over so many years as may be necessary to organize their production, without regard to the costs to tradition, culture, extended family, (ethnicity) commons or future generations.
Rightism is individualism for people with very long time horizons, who recognize (or intuit) the full spectrum of conditions and incentives necessary to engage in production and exchange not just NOW, but for generations to come. So all of that for ME AND MINE, securely, now and for the future, for generations to come, by drawing on the hard won, evolutionary-gleaned wisdom of the past, and maintaining the various commons (things like public decency, good order, and common defense) that give us our competitive advantages over others who do not share our values or have our best interests at heart.
This is what Curt calls the…
“Intertemporal Division of Perception and Cognition.”
Different people are specialized for perceiving and addressing different concerns on different timescales. A mother with a crying baby is going to be focused on the immediate desires and needs of that baby, and that is a good focus, for that particular problem. But for other problems, longer term views, taking account of remoter causes and consequences, may be more useful. If your problem is a crying baby that needs to be fed, it makes sense to treat it like a crying baby that needs to fed, because you want it to grow. That’s a good solution. But if your problem is NOT a crying baby that needs to be fed, you probably don’t want it treated like one, because you don’t want it to grow. That’s no solution.
Propertarianism recommends the use of various tests to filter out bad statements, claims, proposals, etc… These tests are Identity (non-conflation) Internal Consistency (rational, noncontradiction) External Correspondence (empirical, “reality check”) Existential Possibility (selfsustaining vs, self-defeating) Morality (Non-Parasitism, reciprocity) Full Accounting (not fraud by omission) Parsimony (simplicity). If you can warranty that your statements and proposals pass these tests then your statements and proposals are as truthful as statements and proposals can be. They may not be TRUE, but at least you aren’t engaging in willful or negligent fraud, only honest error.
Identity and non-conflation.
A is A. A is not not A. Not A is not A.
“Social justice” is not justice. If it were justice you wouldn’t need to qualify it. This is just a verbal conflation or sleight of hand to give injustice the imprimatur of justice. Justice can be defined objectively as the clear, impartial, consistent, administration of rules.
Every civilized society administers the death penalty for stepping in front of a moving bus. Is this just? Yes, the rule is clear, impartial, and (pretty) consistently administered. It may be severe and even disproportional, but just pay attention not to violate it and you will be fine. However “social justice” (besides failing reciprocity, full accounting, internal consistency, external correspondence, existential possibility, and parsimony) is not justice. It is arbitrary, unclear, ever changing, and obscure, quite the opposite of Justice…
“Domestic Terrorism” is not “terrorism.” It’s just an attempt to rhetorically conflate resistance or rebellion against unaccountable or unpopular rule (something towards which many people are favorably disposed) with hostile aggression by foreign, non-state, actors (something people are much more usually against).
White identity is not the same as white nationalism which is not the same as white supremacy. If you look in the AP style guide (used by mainstream journalists) under the entry for “alt-right” it’s clear that they understand the distinction, but they advise to conflate them anyway. At this point, the advocates of “social justice” have succeeded in mostly conflating colorblind egalitarianism as “white supremacy”. If you’re not anti-white, you’re “white supremacist” Why conflate everything which is not one extreme as the other extreme? Well, they want you to support “THEIR” extreme. That’s easier if they can conflate everything else away into a false dichotomy and then load the other side of that dichotomy with all the moral and emotional baggage of the worst that it encompasses.
An “earnings gap” is not the same as a “wage gap” and once you control for the relevant variables, including career field, time away from work, risk, hours worked, lower frequency of female outliers, etc… There is no evidence of a substantial “wage gap” between men and women, there is a minuscule one, at most (single digit percentages). But we constantly hear from lying, rent-seeking, feminists, attempting to justify demands for more, about their “77 cents on the dollar”.
You never have to look far to find examples of conflation employed for duplicitous or self-serving ends. In contrast, Propertarianism aims for deflation, to clarify and enlighten for productive ends rather than to confuse and obscure for parasitic ends.
With a test of existential possibility, we are looking for any reason why an idea might be impossible in practice. For example, communism is impossible because of well-known incentive and calculation problems (hence the common excuse that “it wasn’t real communism” in defense of trying again).
Equality is impossible because even if we succeed, somehow, in equalizing material conditions, people have differing preferences and values and hence, would reckon those conditions differently. We would have succeeded only in creating inequality of a different sort. That being said, people tend to perceive inequality negatively and so there might be some targeted measures to reduce inequality that are worthwhile, to increase social harmony and stability, or for some other reason. But we’re just going to have to insist people give up equality, per se, as an objective.
Another thing we could look at would be the evolutionary stability or instability of a strategy. Non-reciprocal altruism is evolutionarily unstable because if we are not enforcing reciprocity and reciprocity is not somehow self-enforcing (like it is between kin, who share genes, and therefore help other instances of their own genes by helping each other) then there is no reason to reciprocate and people will not. Their incentive is to parasitize and freeride off of us, abusing our generosity without returning the favor, until we are consumed. And then we won’t be able to continue engaging in non-reciprocal altruism.
Eugenia and Dysgenia
Eugenia and dysgenia are a special case of the existential possibility test, pertaining to the quality of genes passed on and how this is altered or influenced by proposed changes.
I would suggest that *every* policy, norm, tradition, practice, etc… Is either eugenic or dysgenic, and not just in terms of someone’s opinion. We might say a policy is objectively eugenic if it selects for the genes or other traits that are necessary for its own maintenance, and objectively dysgenic if it selects against them.
For example, we might say that a policy of feeding the poor, without imposing limits on their reproduction, is objectively dysgenic, because somebody has to feed them, and such a policy penalizes those who are able to do so in order to subsidize the relative increase of those who are unable, so it must sooner or later reach a tipping point and break down catastrophically.
On the other hand, the old western practice (around the north sea) of a man not marrying until he had his own home (the English word “husband” literally means homeowner, “house bond”) is objectively eugenic. Establishing a minimum bar for reproduction is only going to cause the population to improve and more and more people in each succeeding generation to meet the old standard.
A classification of “eugenic” or “dysgenic” is therefore a useful metric for evaluating any policy or practice.
And to suppose that “eugenic” is the thing which is bad, or something to be ashamed of, is exactly backwards.
Objective morality is reciprocity and non-parasitism. These are prerequisites for cooperation. It is never in one’s interests, long term, to continue cooperating with non-reciprocal parasites. People follow their incentives. Even if one wanted to continue cooperating with non-reciprocal parasites, there would eventually come a time when you could no longer afford to continue cooperating on those terms. Therefore, cooperation with non-reciprocal parasites is not existentially possible and it’s hard to see why anyone would consider it desirable, since cooperation with reciprocal, productive, friends and allies is much more profitable.
Morality is not mandatory. Morality is only mandatory for cooperation, and cooperation is not mandatory. Well, some cooperation is probably mandatory, since some cooperation is better than none. A better strategy is always more evolutionarily stable, but no particular cooperation is usually mandatory. You usually have some choice about which cooperation to pursue.
Full accounting is making a complete and accurate accounting of costs AND benefits. Quite often you will see someone arguing the benefits of proposals they favor without mentioning the costs. Or they will argue the costs of what they oppose without acknowledging the benefits. Scott Adams calls this a “half-pinion.” It’s also possible to mention costs and benefits, but inaccurately or incompletely.
Not everyone is committed or even open to truth and non-parasitism. Some are dedicated to deception, parasitism, and fraud. Here are a few of the top culprits and their methods:
Feminine rhetorical devices and feminine rhetorical strategies, such as nagging, scolding, shaming, rallying, emotional appeals, popular appeals, insults, ridicule, gossip, moralisms , and so on and so forth, have no special utility for discovering or propagating truth. But they have great utility for spreading and propagating self-serving lies, because they have no built-in error testing or correction. So when nagging, scolding, shaming, rallying, emotional appeals, popular appeals, insults, ridicule, gossip, moralisms, etc, are used by women, and by other effeminate creatures; we classify them, not as good faith participants in debate, but as lying, totalitarian, parasites.
Their aim in employing nagging, scolding, shaming, rallying, emotional appeals, popular appeals, insults, ridicule, gossip, moralisms, etc., is not the mutual discovery of truth, but simply to GET THEIR WAY. The manner in which they accomplish this is by imposing costs, social costs, psychic costs, energy costs, time costs, until you simply relent and give them what they want. The reason they employ these means is to avoid the high cost of offering VALUE in exchange for what they DESIRE. That is why we call nagging, scolding, shaming, rallying, emotional appeals, popular appeals, insults, ridicule, gossip, moralisms, etc… The feminine means of COERCION, for they are analogous to the masculine means of coercion (namely violence.)
But the masculine (violent) means of coercion are not inherently duplicitous or parasitic. They require strength to employ, and the strong are always able, and often willing, to offer something of value in exchange instead. Violent means MAY be used for parasitic ends and MAY be directed by lies or aim at sustaining lies. BUT the greatest strength REQUIRES truth and cooperation. Lies and parasitism sap strength, while cooperation builds strength, and truth is a logical requirement of cooperation (it is not in the interests of others to cooperate with self-serving deceivers.) No individual or group who spurns truth and cooperation can ever be truly strong in comparison to ones who embrace them.
In contrast, the feminine means of coercion are the implements and the refuge of the weak. The weak are intrinsically less able, and less willing, to offer value in exchange, and weakness has no lower limit. Parasitic lies make people weaker, which only makes them likely and liable to employ even more parasitic lies.
The proliferation of the feminine means of coercion, and the concomitant proliferation of parasitism and lies, are attributable mainly to one factor; women and other effeminate creatures are less subject than they once were, to violent retaliation and suppression using the masculine means of coercion.
Postmodern deception makes use of a variety of related means to advance and sustain falsehood by raising the cost of refutation without addressing the points of contention.
This can include the feminine means of coercion (rallying, shaming, scolding) to raise the social cost of disagreement, or it can include obscurantism, pseudoscience and fallacy to raise the cognitive and time cost of refutation (Pilpul).
Another common technique is framing (conflation and incomplete accounting) to advance a false narrative or picture, loading ( adding moral or emotional – imaginary – content) and overloading (repetition) to overwhelm the rational faculties and suggest the desired conclusion by elicited emotional response. This is a staple technique of media and political figures.
One of the most destructive techniques of postmodern deception is the heaping of undue praise. Whether the undue praise is heaped upon the “noble savage” (who is often anything but noble) or upon the perverted sexual deviant, or the morbidly obese feminist, it is always and only a way of robbing praise from those to whom it is due. It is a way to attack and critique and undermine and tear down the worthy and the exemplary without seeming to be doing anything of the sort. After all, there is no insult at all, they are only paying a compliment! A compliment to the wrong recipient is always an implied insult to the correct one. To make the worse seem better makes the better seem worse.
The techniques of postmodern deception, taken together, allow their practitioners to “hack” the “marketplace of ideas” so that the good ideas don’t win. The good ideas, the nuggets of truth and wisdom, are surrounded by so much bullshit that hardly anyone can find them. And the bad ideas are protected by feminine coercion so that people fear to challenge them; all as they are blasted out on all channels, and all frequencies, all the time.
The root problem is that people can bullshit faster than anyone can shovel. Lying can be very cheap and easy. Truthfulness is expensive, demanding, and difficult. So the only way for truth to prevail is for the truthful to take their shovels, not to the bullshit, but to the bullshitters. Make it costly to lie and people will stop. Make it cheap, and even if you don’t fall for the lies, the liars can just go lie at someone who will and come back with enough strength and numbers to beat you. “Free Speech” was a noble idea. But it failed.
Free TRUTHFUL speech only.
Socialism is usually sold in moralistic, rationalistic, idealistic terms. In these terms, it is always a lie. You are not entitled to anything because no one is entitled to anything. Furthermore, while you can organize to claim and defend entitlements over the objections of others, at whose expense they are coming, the socialist means of doing so have well known problems.
However, some socialist concerns can be addressed by productive, mutually beneficial, trades. And some socialist policies can be constructed as mutually beneficial exchanges, and some socialist preferences can be accommodated by cooperation (not conflict) between classes. By these means, the most pernicious forms of socialism can be robbed of much potential support.
People are not going to support a system that does not seem to work for them. And if some people are being “left behind” because they cannot meaningfully participate in production (or for whatever reason) then they are likely and liable to revolt, riot or loot, rather than die quietly or languish in poverty amidst splendor.
But if you pay them to behave, and pay them not to reproduce, that can be a productive exchange. The productive classes can say: “Look, we’ll subsidize your lifestyle as long as you don’t get in the way, you don’t disrupt the peace, order and stability we need to produce, and you don’t pass your inability to produce on to the next generation, so that this subsidy is really and truly a solution to the problem.” That is a win win.
Another option is to pay the lower classes for military service. Don’t impede the production of the middle classes or the rule of the upper, but fight to defend them, and you may share in a portion of the benefits.
Much could be, and has been, said about feminism, enough to fill volumes. I have already addressed the issue of feminine coercion above.
What has to be understood is that feminism originates primarily with inferior women, women who cannot obtain what they want from men in exchange because they have little of value to exchange (whether because they are fat, old, infertile, ugly, lazy, obnoxious, or what have you.)
Their aim is twofold:
First, to obtain what *they* want from men at a discount using the feminine means of coercion (nagging scolding, shaming, rallying, gossip, etc…)
Second, to sabotage their competition, women of value to men, by filling their heads with destructive nonsense, and induce them to throw away their value in exchange for nothing.
Seen in this light, much that is incomprehensible about feminism makes sense. Do they really think they can “redefine” men’s “standards of beauty”? Maybe, maybe not. One thing they DEFINITELY can do is persuade other women to take less care of their own, and that makes them look better in comparison.
A lot of people think that feminism started out alright but it has “gone too far.” Well it started out using feminine coercion to obtain the franchise. Feminine coercion is dishonest and parasitic. But it’s also trivially easy to show that women’s suffrage is a long term existential impossibility. That argument depends on only a few, fairly obvious, points.
- 1) Voting either directs violence, or is a substitute for it.
- 2) The preponderance of actual violence is supplied by men, and the preponderance of potential violence is *not supplied* by men.
- 3) Men and women vote differently, on average.
All three of these points are, I think, incontrovertible.
There is certainly much more which could be said on the matter. But this is all that actually needs to be said, to show that women’s suffrage is unstable, and necessarily ends in violence. The more women vote to advance their interests, or impose their priorities, as they see them, at the expense of men’s, the more tension will build, and it can only build until it breaks, because it is men who are asked to supply the actual violence which carries the outcomes of elections into effect, or to refrain from potential violence to prevent the outcomes of elections from being carried into effect.
But we don’t actually HAVE to do either. We can do the opposite.
Women obtained the vote on the back of the lie that their former exclusion had been arbitrary and baseless, and therefore unnecessary and unjust, and that is the lie it is now necessary to debunk. But that lie stems from an ignorance (perhaps deliberate) of context.
In fact, women had been excluded from politics because political institutions had been created by men, as a compromise and an alternative to warfare, which is a male domain.
Voting and politics can be an economical alternative to warfare, as long as the winners do not seek either to take, or to impose enough to make warfare preferable for the losers.
It can be a win-win, the winners win more, and the losers lose less, than they can by warfare, because they do not have to try the matter by a contest of arms, and politics, therefore, can be stable and productive, so long as it remains within those bounds.
Women do not participate in warfare (and it is best that they do not) so it was never necessary to cut them in on the spoils of politics, and doing so is to grant them a great and unearned boon; a benefit that they could not obtain by other means. It was a pure indulgence, and an expense with no countervailing benefits. Women’s violence did not need to be bought off because they don’t threaten violence.
Because they are ignorant of the context, and of the domain, having never, historically, participated, and because they do not understand that warfare is the alternative, and politics only a means of avoiding warfare, and can always return to warfare, women recognize no limits. They always demand more. They always seek to impose more.
Further, women bring no spoils to the table, they only make off with them. They contribute nothing, they risk nothing, and they threaten nothing. Therefore it is only right and proper that in this arena, they get nothing.
Past generations of men thought they could afford to indulge women in this way, but the expense has only ever grown, and only ever will. Now, we can no longer afford it, even if we wanted to. The price would be our civilization and our future, and that is too high a price to bear.
The further the results of elections continue to diverge from the likely results of war -and women make those results diverge -for they participate in elections but not in warfare -the greater the incentive for those with the means (men) to stop playing democracy and start playing war. That’s a game we can win, and if all we need to do to win is switch games, then sooner or later we will switch games. It is a foregone conclusion.
That is why, and that is how, women’s suffrage shall end. It is inherently unstable, and fleeting. But men must know why they must fight.
When men vote, we’re saving each other money, saving each other’s lives, by not fighting about shit. When women vote, they’re getting something for nothing. Soon we will have nothing left to give, but plenty to take, our own way.
Ending democracy, egalitarian, majority rule, is always advisable and a step in the right direction.
Democracies have mal incentives (Hoppe.) But even more damaging in the long term, democracies breed dysgenic people because democracies are vote farms and (if all votes count the same) the most economical way to farm votes is to breed dependent parasites.
Lysander Spooner said “a ballot either signifies a bullet, or it signifies nothing.”, but a bullet is more honest.
All states require the voluntary consent and support of enough individuals and groups to compel the submission of the remainder.
And the coalition that performs this function always arises by negotiation and exchange (you want this benefit, or that, to participate in our coalition? Well, we want these concessions in return.)
Democracies actually set a fairly low bar for popular support at 51%. And a democracy will never be ruled by a coalition much larger than 51%. If you’re getting more than 51% of the vote, you’re leaving rents on the table. You could take more, or give less, and still win the election.
Additionally, if your aim is to maximize the profitability of an electoral victory, in terms of rents extracted, you will build your coalition of the cheapest votes, the most worthless and parasitic individuals.
A rich man’s vote is expensive, you have to not take most of his stuff. But if you do, you can buy many votes.
As the 51% feed on the productive, their numbers will grow. That’s what happens when you feed parasites. As we said, you don’t want to win more than 51% of the vote, so the ruling coalition in a democracy is always in the position of being able to give its most productive members the boot and throw them to the wolves, to begin consuming them in turn. This is why democracies always become weaker and more parasitic, why “Cthulhu only swims left” and we can observe, in every democratic polity, a persistent “ratchet effect.”
In contrast, a wise authoritarian will begin building his coalition of supporters with the best. And while he need not attract 51% support to maintain his rule, there is no reason to stop there.
Support is generally less costly and more profitable than submission.
So a sensible authoritarian will continue bargaining for support until there is no one left in need of compulsion except those who have nothing to offer which is worth what they demand in exchange for peaceful cooperation, whose demands are too costly or unreasonable to merit entertaining; in short, people who probably should be coerced.
So I do expect authoritarian regimes, on the whole, to be more honest, productive, and less parasitic than democratic ones.
This expectation is borne out by an examination of historical monarchies, especially European ones.
Houses of Government and Government by Exchange
A better solution to representative government than Democracy (majority rule) is a government of houses representing different classes. Traditionally, western nations were thought to be composed of three “estates of the realm:” those who fight, those who work, and those who pray; aristocracy, commoners, and clergy. Variations on this are possible. The English lumped the aristocracy and clergy together into the nobility. That’s why Parliament only has two houses. And India (which derives from the same proto-Indo-European root culture) has a fourth class, the untouchables. But three is the standard.
Democracy can only select whose interests are to prevail and whose are to be subordinated or sacrificed. Democracy, monopoly, majoritarian government, can never ever, NEVER EVER reconcile conflicting interests. Where interests are aligned and homogeneous, democracy can work fine. That’s why it works fine for a corporation, because shareholder interests are more or less perfectly aligned, towards maximization of profit. There is no way for some to profit at the expense of others. And for the same reason, Democracy generally works fine in very homogeneous nations.
As soon as interests differ and clash, you’re going to need houses of government, sharing power, in order to negotiate exchanges between classes, or classes and individuals will clash. If members of one class wants something from another, they can propose an exchange, offering something in return to make it worth their while. If they offer nothing, or don’t offer enough, their proposal will be vetoed.
If cooperation and exchange break down, than things revert to warfare, or conflict, as above in the case of women voters. Only, in this case, this is understood by all parties instead of being concealed behind parasitic, moralistic, appeals to the divine right of majorities.
Common law is judge and jury discovered law; evolutionary law. Basically, the common law is “don’t do anything twelve random people and a learned jurist would agree to retaliate against you for doing.” If someone perceives a behavior as imposing a cost or as a theft or destruction of property (according to the propertarian conception of property) then they can take their case before a court. If the court agrees with their evaluation, then the law is updated to define that behavior as criminal. Common law can rapidly and accurately adjust to innovations in property norms, parasitism and criminality.
Of course, people can and do differ on what they think impositions, property, or legitimate and proper grounds for retaliation. When such differences are discovered, they are settled over a longer period of time by debate, discussion, moral suasion, migration, self-segregation, or failing that, conflict.
If my friends and I think a law is good, and you and your friends think a law is bad, and we disagree too strongly to “agree to disagree” then we are at war. Whoever is more right, all other things being equal, is more likely to “win” (defining victory to include memetic, genetic, economic, social, cultural, political, and military outcomes.) This is the principle of discovered law, evolved law, the common law. Legislation, on the other hand, has no such corrective tendency, until it culminates in total catastrophe, and is much less adaptable and slower reacting.
The Market for Violence and Negative Subjective Evaluations
It’s an article of faith among many libertarians that violence, and particularly aggressive violence, is necessarily negative sum.
Prices contain information and markets broker them (in a subjective utility maximizing way.) Violence only short circuits that, disrupts markets, destroy price signals, and makes everyone worse off.
But this is not correct.
In the first place, market transactions aren’t necessarily positive sum. If they are fraudulent or create negative externalities for those not party, they can be negative sum.
In the second place, violence is itself a signal, and transmits information. A threat expresses a subjective evaluation just as an offer does in the marketplace. “Hey, don’t do that or we’re going to fight.”
And the initiation of hostilities demonstrates the authenticity of that information just as a payment does in the marketplace. One undertakes real cost, and real risk, in resorting to violence. (In contrast, whining, and playing the victim DO NOT demonstrate the authenticity of grievances in the way that resorting to violence does, and so are liable and likely to prove negative sum, if indulged, just as theft is liable and likely to prove negative sum, in the marketplace, because it does not make a sufficient demonstration and exchange of value).
Markets and prices on the one hand, and violence and threats on the other, are both necessary components to a stable, functional, and efficient society and economy. To suppress either wholly in favor of the other, would be to forego the benefits they offer, and to pervert incentives towards destructive outcomes.
No society which does either will be able to compete, long term, against one which makes a more sensible trade-off between them, making best use of information supplied by both exchange and conflict.
Violence is the means of expressing the subjective evaluations not captured by price signals, which are as vast and varied as those which are.
A prosperous and functional society needs a price system, but a price system without a threats and violence system is as dysfunctional as a threats and violence system without a price system.
Borders are analogous to property lines. Both are arbitrary social constructs which exist only by convention. Both nevertheless exist because Darwin rewards people who practice their use.
Property lines exist when individuals claim territory and succeed in defending it.
Borders exist when groups claim territory and succeed in defending it.
If property lines are the boundaries between property holdings, borders can be thought of as the boundaries between property regimes.
In practice, you have the property and property rights that the people around you are willing to concede that you have. One man cannot stand alone against the world, but a few in confederation can hold the looters, parasites, and destroyers at bay indefinitely; provided no one lets them into their midst.
So one reasonable condition people may demand for recognizing and upholding your private property (in addition to you recognizing and upholding their own) is help in upholding shared borders.
You don’t have to assent to that condition, but if not, you might find your position very lonely.
Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism
Altruism is rarely found in nature except for kinship altruism, because kinship makes reciprocity evolutionarily self-enforcing. A gene coding for altruistic behavior towards kin will help out instances of itself and therefore help itself to propagate and persist (while those other instances of it, in turn, will help it). Kinship also makes defection evolutionarily unstable because it is selfpunishing, or self-limiting. Genes which code for defection behaviors towards kin will harm other instances of themselves and therefore suffer a competitive disadvantage relative to others.
Accordingly, we will expect to see greater altruism towards kin and greater trust between kin (because trust is a form of altruism, it entails taking risks and bearing costs for others in the hope of reciprocation) than we do towards or between non-kin or more distant kin. This does seem to be what we observe EVEN in highly ethnocentric (clannish, tribal) low-trust, conflict riven, societies.
Western nations are less ethnocentric, less clannish, less tribal, and they are higher trust, more productive, more peaceful, more stable, than some others, but this does not imply that perfect (abstract) universalism and individualism would be higher trust or more productive, or more peaceful still…
Western societies are higher trust than tribal societies. But this is not because kinship is not a factor, rather, because of normative out breeding, you simply have larger kinship groups, this permitted the universalization of kinship altruism and kinship trust within homogeneous, outbred nations. Everyone is at least distantly related to one another, and very few people are radically more or less related to you than others. So close kin will always be more cooperative, more altruistic, and enjoy higher trust than distant kin or non-kin, but what you see in western nations is high trust because in-groups are larger.
Tribal societies probably have higher trust in-group, but they have very small in-groups, and lots of them, so they conflict.
Reciprocity can be enforced technologically (through proactive monitoring and enforcement) at greater distances in terms of relatedness, but at some cost. The cost of cooperative behavior is inversely proportional to relatedness.
That makes the demarcation of in-group/out-group boundaries along racial, ethnic, or national (kinship) lines rational, productive and stable, in order to capitalize on high in-group trust and economize on low in-group transaction costs. As much as some people like to claim this is a dated atavism, it is simply not so. None of the evidence is consistent with that hypothesis.
I would serve the lord who would serve me. A hierarchy based on reciprocal duties, loyalties, and obligations, and where the sovereign understands his power depends on maintaining the loyalty of his subjects by discharging his duties and obligations faithfully so they will discharge their duties and obligations willingly, can be a productive hierarchy.
Hierarchy can be productive because it can provide economies of scale in the provisions of certain commons and public goods (principally defense). Hierarchy can also provide decision in undecidable cases (where there are no objective or agreed upon intersubjective criteria for decision) and then people can get over it and move on to capture gains from cooperation in more decidable cases instead of getting bogged down. Sometimes it’s more important to be on the same page than the best page, or there is no best page. But even if the hierarchical solution is not best, for you, it may nevertheless be less costly than a prolonged and possibly pointless conflict
As long as hierarchy is productive, it will persist and grow. When it ceases to be productive, but becomes parasitic, subordinating the interests of some, systematically, for the benefit of others, sooner or later, it will probably crumble and split, or fall.
Incremental Suppression is a marginal approach to enforcement, a bologna slice strategy. If you are powerful, you identify the most egregious instances of violation and go after those first, working your way down the list until it’s no longer worth the cost. If you are not powerful, you identify the violators within your reach and begin suppressing them, working your way outward as your power grows and your enemies’ diminish.
Western civilization CAN be reclaimed and restored, through truth, science, violence, hierarchy, ethnocentrism, nationalism, and law, by incrementally suppressing all forms of parasitism, fraud, deception, and freeriding, including democracy, feminism, socialism, postmodernism, pilpul, feminine coercion, and more (which we have not yet addressed) by building and maintaining commons and accumulating and defending other property to serve and protect the long term interests of our in-groups, cooperating through trade, and negotiating honestly, and by disassociating or bitterly conflicting with those who will not.
“Truth is enough.” ~ Curt Doolittle
Truth and Violence To Enforce It