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Monday, February 01, 2010

Dispatches from Libertopia: An Anthology of Wingnut Chestnuts and Democratizing Remedies

I. Wherever government is meant to be of by and for the people, to be anti-government always means to be against the people.

II. Whenever a right wing politician declares all government wasteful, criminal, and corrupt you should pay close attention, because he is announcing his plans.

III. Anti-tax zealots are the ones who think that civilization is the only free lunch.

IV. To declare that money is speech is to ensure that only money talks.

V. To declare that corporations are persons is to ensure that actual persons are serfs.

VI. One will never go far wrong when confronted by a self-described libertarian in America simply to assume that by this term they mean to say they are just another Republican asshole, but one who also wants, sensibly enough, to smoke pot or chew some hooker's foot without fear of arrest.

VII. Gay Republicans are usually white guys who experience "homophobia" primarily as their heartbreaking exclusion from white-racist patriarchal class privileges to which they feel themselves otherwise perfectly entitled.

VIII. "Free Market" ideologues always begin as a criminal conspiracy and always end as a suicide pact.

IX. Any “big-tent” organization big enough to accommodate right-wing ideology will soon be a big tent empty of almost anybody but right-wing zealots.

X. However much they insist on their difference from conventional conservative politicians no American-style market libertarian argument will ever have any life in the actual world except to the extent that it is appropriated by conservatives for conservative ends.

XI. Staunchly "anti-war" market libertarians tend to be sublimely indifferent to the extent to which modern war-making is an essentially entrepreneurial activity.

XII. The only way to end modern wars is to make war-making unprofitable. It would be curious indeed to mistake free marketeers for allies in such a struggle.

XIII. Nobody who believes society to be a competitive war of all against all will ever truly collaborate in the work to end the competition that is war.

XIV. Freedom is not a matter of making a selection from a menu provided by others.

XV. The difference between investment and speculation is the difference between an effort and a scheme.

XVI. Wherever the prose of pricing prevails the poetry of meaning is menaced.

XVII. It is curious the number of Republicans who claim to disdain vast corrupt soulless bureaucracies but who celebrate multinational corporations.

XVIII. The wealthiest one per cent of the world population seem to imagine themselves indispensable. One wishes they would test this article of faith by going away.

XIX. There is no such thing as a natural market.

XX. "Homo Economicus" is a mythical being, and a good thing, too. Just look at the damage done by those entities in reality that come closest to incarnating the fiction of "Homo Economicus" -- that is to say limited-liability corporations -- to see the proof of this.

XXI. Those who begin in a declared belief in "spontaneous order" end in declaring orders they believe should be obeyed spontaneously -- and immediately.

XXII. Those who would dismantle all democratic government and those who would demand good democratic government will point to many of the same instances of government abuse, corruption, malfeasance, and violence in making their separate cases, but it is only a fool who in noticing this would mistake them for allies.

XXIII. We are all beholden to accomplishments and problems we are heir to but unequal to, we are all implicated in the efforts of the diversity of peers with whom we share the world. It is delusive to imagine oneself the singular author of one's fortunes, whether good or ill. And so, only in a world in which the precarious are first insulated from the catastrophic consequences of ill-fortune in which we all play our parts can we celebrate or even tolerate the spectacle in which the successful indulge in the copious consequences of good fortune in which we all, too, have played our parts.

XXIV. It is always magical thinking to declare an outcome need only be profitable for it to be possible.

XXV. Pre-emptive war adventuring is to legitimate defense as hyperbolic financial speculation is to substantial production. It is no accident that pre-emptive war would suffuse public discourse in an epoch of bubble-economics. War hysteria and irrational exuberance are kindred pathologies.

XXVI. Those who declare taxes to be theft either forget or fail to grasp that it is taxes that pay for the maintenance of those institutions on which legitimate claims of ownership or theft depend for their intelligibility and force in the first place.

XXVII. Taxes are not, however annoying they may seem, violations of our freedom so much as indispensable enablers of freedom -- and hence they are a precondition for the constitution of the very experience of the "voluntary" on which notions of the involuntary depend in the first place.

XXVIII. Taxes pay for the administration to basic needs that ensures the scene of consent is non-duressed by deprivation, inequity, or insecurity. Those "libertarians" who declare whatever passes as a market outcome voluntary and nonviolent by definitional fiat -- whatever the conditions of relative deprivation, inequity, insecurity, ignorance, or misinformation that duress its terms in fact -- reveal themselves to be poor champions of an impoverished and profoundly uncivilized notion of "liberty."

XXIX. Ours is a world so sensibly arranged that it is only the ones who could afford to pay for everything who are assured escape from paying for anything.

XXX. The pace at which the tidal forces of supply and demand, or the correction via unprofitability of ignorance and error, or the rationalization via capital flight of panics and bubbles, or comparable market mechanisms manage to compensate for disruptive events, bad information, and irrational conduct is too different from the pace at which metabolism is maintained in human bodies and struggle is enacted in human history for these mechanisms to sustain those lives and that history in a human way, however wholesome they may be in their own inhuman term. This is the long term in which Keynes remarked we are all dead.

XXXI. The point of departure for political economy is the interminable reconciliation of infinite ends in a finite world. The point of departure for market anti-politics is the delusion that an infinite growth satisfies infinite wants, eventually if not actually. The displacement of reconciliation by aspiration in market ideology is satisfied to treat as satisfying even a ubiquitous dissatisfaction so long as it keeps promising imminent satisfaction.

XXXII. What is revolutionary about the market imaginary is its demand that we experience as revolution the interminable deferral of revolution, that we experience as satisfaction the interminable frustration of satisfaction.

XXXIII. Capitalism is everywhere, but it never arrives.

XXXIV. To those who say they would shrink government without end, who say they would deregulate enterprise without end, who say they would cut taxes without end, it must forcefully be said, in the end, that you cannot have a civilization and eat it too.

XXXV. "The free market" does not exist. It has no historical, actual, or even logically-possible reference. Utterances offered up on its behalf have no more substance than utterances on behalf of god. And as with godliness whatever flesh, whatever reality market-fundamentalist assumptions and aspirations assume are carved into the broken bodies and invested in the distressed spirits of the ones made to bear the worldly weight of the lies of the faithful.

XXXVI. So long as Congress is filled with millionaires it will never represent the interests of an America filled with non-millionaires.

XXXVII. It should go without saying that it is perfectly possible to be a member of the Republican Party without being an idiot, a bigot, a hypocrite, and an asshole. But it must also be said that it is unfortunately no longer possible at all to be a member of the Republican Party without being at least one of these and usually more than one.

XXXVIII. Market fundamentalists are pickpockets who like to decry taxes as theft to distract you when their hands are in your pocket.

XXXIX. Randian "Objectivists," "Social Darwinists," and market fundamentalists often fancy themselves supremely materialist rather than the fantasists they palpably are, just as social conservatives and Christian fundamentalists often fancy themselves supremely anti-materialist even as they jockey ferociously for bigger slices of the material pie. These ostensibly opposed factions are, of course, always only engaging in sectarian skirmishes within Movement Conservatism more generally over just which self-appointed priestly elite gets to rule the worldly toypile in the name of just which imaginary deity.

XL. There has never once been an outcome attributed to the Invisible Hand of the Market in which the Heavy Hand of the State did not play an indispensable part, and in which all too many are not sure to discern the Hidden Hand of Conspiracy.

XLI. I am not offended by the faiths of the faithful -- since we should all have the consolation of the poetry which moves us -- but I am profoundly offended by those who would peddle their faiths as evidences and so strive to steal the archive of and hope for a commonplace, commonsense, commoncause, commonwealth from the shared world, peer to peer.

XLII. To be a consumer most of all is to be a criminal first of all.

XLIII Few who have more keep more because they deserve more than most who have less.

XLIV. Anyone, even an admirable or accomplished person, can attract the momentary attention of masses of people, but to be a celebrity for long usually demands one be a profoundly ruthless, relentless, and terribly misguided sort of person, and most likely a straight-up sociopath.

XLV. Every winner is lost.


XLVII. If you want to understand what is going on around you, all you have to do is learn who is making the money, look where the guns are pointed, and listen to the stories the losers have to tell.

XLVIII. The enabling delusion of every historical empire is that it is history's umpire.

XLIX. Nobody truly happy has any inclination while they are happy to tell you how to be happy so stop listening to those who promise you such things. There is no such thing as an earning or an accomplishing or a deserving of happiness in any case, and so it is always better simply to enjoy happiness whenever it briefly appears in life and recall it gratefully whenever it is long gone.

L. To be a civilized person is first of all to say or do what you judge to be righteous or beautiful or true in the world, and to declare things right or beautiful or true for what you take to be good reasons in the hearing of the world, come what may. Civilization is the contest and accumulation of such acts and assertions. Never forget, then, that at the heart of freedom is artistry, and at the heart of judgment is style.

LI. I do not want to smash the state, I want always to democratize it.

LII. Republicans: "Keynes is dead." Keynes: "Your Republic is dead."

LIII. An anarchist's convictions usually have little but their hypocrisy to redeem them.

LIV. Ronald Reagan was an asshole, and it’s high time liberals stopped trying quixotically to score cleverness points by declaring him a better asshole than the assholes the Republicans are now.

LV. At this point, to be a registered Republican is to admit proudly and in public to the kind of sweeping ignorance that should send you back to High School, to the kind of sociopathy, narcissism, and anger management issues that should send you into serious counseling, and to a penchant for fraud, looting, and assault that should send you to trial with a fair prospect of incarceration. Not only can Republicans no longer be trusted to administer the state, one begins to wonder if they should all be wards of the state.

LVI. As a policy matter, austerity measures are nothing but a kind of pseudo-scientific bloodletting, treating as a treatment the weakening of the weakest. As a moral matter, austerity measures are nothing but a kind of brutal bullying, treating as a treat the weakening of the weakest.

LVII. The intolerant always demand tolerance for their intolerance. Bigots always decry as violence and as bigotry the restraint of their bigotry from the worst of its violence. Racists always declare racist the exposure and denunciation of their racism. This is all very clever, if you are very stupid.

LVIII. Mine is an anti-capitalism that will be quite content to build an environmentally sustainable social democracy in which universal healthcare, education, income, expression, recourse to law and franchise is funded by steeply progressive taxes even if everybody decides to call that outcome "capitalism" for whatever reasons perversely appeal to them.

LIX. When everything is a casino everybody loses everything.

LX. If it is usually true that control corrupts, it is absolutely true that only the corruptible covet control.

LXI. That the greedy decry all judgments of their misconduct as expressions of envy is hardly surprising, since in giving in to greed they had first of all to give leave to kindness.

LXII. "Let the Market Decide" Always Means "Let Rich People Decide."

LXIII. Movement Republicanism was born in hostility to governing and dies incapable of governing.

LXIV. Republicans are divided between the rich ones who want to pretend they are giving when they are taking, and the poor ones who want to pretend they will be rich so they are not getting taken.

LXV. When you criticize a successful thief it is not "success" that you are attacking, but thievery.

LXVI. Any institution too big to fail should either be broken into manageable portions that are not, or nationalized so that its successes will be shared as widely as its failures will.

LXVII. Gun-nuttery is the ruggedization of the individualized cyborg-protagonist in Ayn Raelian "free market" nightmare-fantasies.

LXVIII. Anarchy is a perspectival effect -- the rule of elites is always spontaneous or natural and hence no-rule from their vantage.

LXIX. It's stupid to have a big gun because you think that you and your gun can fight the state when you can't, but it's just as stupid to want a big gun when much of what the state is for is to ensure no citizen has any legitimate need of one.

LXX. Defense spending is the disavowed public face of the founding bad faith of Republican Big Government championed as "small government," just as Forced Pregnancy Zealotry is the conspicuous private face of the founding bad faith of Republican Big Government championed as "small government."

LXXI. Of course, what the GOP has always meant by "smaller government" has never been anything other than "less democracy."

LXXII. Funny how often survivalists and people around them don't survive.

LXXIII. Kennedy Rephrased for Greedheads: Brag not what you think you do for this country just by being rich, admit how much you depend on this country for being rich.

LXXIV. "The Market" without "The State" might be a fair, if it is small, or a gang, if it is bigger, and that is all. To say otherwise is not to have an interesting perspective on markets and states, but to reveal you don't know enough about either economics or politics for anybody but a good teacher to pay attention to.

LXXV. The best words to describe your average Ayn Rand fan are "government beneficiary," although occasional splashy success stories among her readership do sometimes also manage to be government employees or government contractors.

LXXVI. Is there any sweeter song in all the world than elites peddling predation and denial as "optimism"?

LXXVII. Scandal is austerity's glamour.

LXXVIII. Just as I have always found it hard to sustain any interest in the interest others have in my queerness, and yet I remain utterly fascinated by the quandaries of the diversity of desire for politics, so too I have always found it hard to sustain any interest in the interest others have in my atheism, and yet I remain utterly fascinated by the quandaries of the diversity of secularity for politics.

LXXIX. If you are an atheist who believes in free markets or who believes evolution applies to history or culture you are not an atheist after all.

LXXX. It isn't an accident that "Un-PC" is the tag always accompanying an ugly lie someone privileged uses to bully someone precarious.

LXXXI. Security without freedom is insecurity.

LXXXII. Democrats are the ones who want to get together through their government to help people, Republicans are the ones who want to get together through their government to harass people.

LXXXIII. Doctrinal "anarchism" seems to exist primarily to provide Republicans with endless rationalizations for irrepressible greed and to provide Democrats with endless rationalizations for irresponsibly not voting in mid-term elections.

LXXXIV. Corporatists are forever confusing profiteerism with patriotism, just as militarists are forever confusing patriotism with prosperity.

LXXXV. Until unemployment no longer holds out the prospect of death or dishonor every employment contract is made under duress.

LXXXVI. Republicans are fighting for elections that are fairer... of skin.

LXXXVII. Getting Republicans to agree on anything is like herding clowns.

LXXXVIII. Libertarianism might have a chance at real world success if only libertarians were fuzzy and cute. As witness the utopia of total greed that is my cat's life.

LXXXIX. For "entitlements" you need look no further than individuals who depend for their wealth on commonwealth but think paying taxes is slavery.

XC. The formalization of an indebtedness of all to some is the forgetfulness of the ineradicable interdependence of all with all.

XCI. A Transparent Society in which indifference and distraction prevail will be opaque, in fact, to all but its elites.

XCII. In the absence of social justice, "Openness" is always emptiness.

XCIII. Every US generational cohort is described as re-discovering libertopian anti-governmentality. That is, after all, the default of insulated ignoramuses.

XCIV. Given that inequity always reveals inefficiencies, it is curious how often efficiency rationalizes inequities.

XCV. Things are so simple in the GOP. Human rights begin at conception. And unless there is a white penis present, they end at birth.

XCVI. A rising stock market is always an unmistakable indicator of economic success… of plutocrats over the vast majority of people who work for a living.

XCVII. Every second Social Security is discussed as a problem to be solved is a second lost to the necessary celebration of Social Security as the ongoing solution to the problem of poverty for our seniors.

XCVIII. Until privacy advocates absolutely refuse the assimilation of privacy politics to privatization politics we will not contribute to freedom.

XCIX. Strange the way people on the right inevitably claim "the left likes mass shootings" whenever we decry the mass shootings they endlessly enable.

C. Republicans talk about Big Government and Small Government to avoid talking about Good Government and Our Government.

CI. Precarization is a terrorism, multinational plutocracy one more terror-network.

CII. Even though more government doesn't always mean more democracy, less government always means less democracy.

CIII. A society is failing when it is only by failing at living gracefully that can one succeed in society.

CIV. You say "feckless," and I say "efficacious," let's call the war thing off.

CV. There is no natural, spontaneous, abiding reality that is either "the internet" or "the market" -- and it is no surprise that arguments presumably defending, saving, promoting "the free internet" are made so often by the same people who make arguments defending, saving, promoting "the free market" and so often in ways that re-enact the false, facile terms defending, saving, promoting "the free market."

CVI. Whenever a white dude pines for a "simpler time" -- and I am including the ones who call themselves anarchists and eco-radicals -- I assume he's got a gun pointed at me.

CVII. When "tax and spend" is reduced to a punchline, it is always plutocrats who have the last laugh.

CVIII. Anarchists on the right want a nation of guns, not laws. Anarchists on the left see a nation of guns, not laws. Both are wrong.

CIX. Open Carry aspires to be the twenty-first century lynch mob of the reactionary right, terrorism in defense of white supremacy and patriarchy.

CX. The invisible hand is the heavy hand.

CXI. Capitalism is always, like, talk to the invisible hand.

CXII. It is hard to think what apart from racism reconciles the wingnut contempt for failed states with their work to make their own state fail.

CXIII. Funny how go getters get got.

CXIV. When money is speech, words are less for making sense than for making bribes.

CXV. Republican antics are about as exciting as watching blood dry.

CXVI. Ever notice how many upward sailing risk takers turn out to be upward failing risk fakers?

CXVII. If liberalism and conservatism are a distinction, neoliberalism and neoconservatism are a loop. There is no neoliberalism without neoconservatism. Every "free" global market is maintained by the threat and reality of global arms and armies.

CXVIII. There is no article of faith more fancifully supernatural than belief in a natural free market.

CXIX. The market has spoken. It hates markets.

CXX. When we say "let the market decide" we are deciding to forget that markets are nothing but our decisions, the better to let others make for us the decisions we should be making for ourselves.

CXXI. The expectation of privacy is not a refusal of scrutiny but a refusal to be reduced to any authority's profile of us. The expectation of publicity is that we are made more capacious in our responsiveness to scrutiny than we can know from our present profile of ourselves.

CXXII. Initial regressive distributions of wealth are no less the product of government intervention than are subsequent progressive redistributions of wealth.

CXXIII. People love calling libertarians "Idea Guys." It pays to remember that every single libertarian "Idea" is an ad campaign to peddle plutocracy to majorities it harms.

CXXIV. The liberty of the libertarian right is an empty deception: its figure is empty space, its impossible project a control to compensate bottomless fear. The freedom of the democratic left is a public work: its figure is assembly, its interminable project enabling equity-in-diversity as an expression of love.

CXXV. Americans can no longer distinguish optimism from advertizing.

CXXVI. The sole purpose of "The Political Compass" is to get you lost enough to espouse right-wing positions without grasping that you are.

CXXVII. That a guaranteed income would end hopeless poverty is a reason to support it, that it would begin endless hopeful enrichments is another.

CXXVIII. "Pro-Life" is the brand name of a death cult. It is foolish to expect truth in advertizing.

CXXIX. Whenever the profits of plutocrats are purchased by the precarity of the people, money is always speech and speech is always moneyed. Securing a basic income guarantee would create conditions under which for the first time it would be possible for money NOT to be speech.

CXXX. The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: "I'm from a corporation and I'm here for profit."

CXXXI. Every time a company advertizes a feature they were forced to provide by government regulations they fought reality withdraws another inch.

CXXXII. DIY is great until it becomes an excuse for Denial of Interdependence Yammering.

CXXXIII. Free marketeers console themselves they may be dogs but at least they're dogs who are eating. When it's dog eats dog, every dog gets eaten.

CXXXIV. Indebtedness, like Original Sin, is a state of abiding existential insecurity enormously useful to the schemes of (market) faithful elites.

CXXXV. Sometimes I think the Right may well bore us to death before they manage to starve us to death.

CXXXVI. Every single person who declares themselves "beyond left and right" is either a secret shill for the right or a perfect dupe for the right.

CXXXVII. It is in our possessiveness that we are dispossessed.

CXXXVIII. An old joke declares that young liberals mature into conservatives, but the true joke is that conservatism is a permanent infantilism.

CXXXIX. The arc of history bends from just us.

CXL. So many manifestos, so few manifestations.

CXLI. Back when I was still dating I used to want to take out a billionaire. Alas, I never got close enough to kill.

CXLII. The rich take everything, but they can't take a joke.

CXLIII. Privatization always kicks you in the privates.

CXLIV. Reactionaries emphasize the potential costs of doing something to solve shared problems in order to distract from ongoing costs of doing nothing to solve shared problems.

CXLV. Take "civil" from "liberties" and what you get is taken.

CXLVI. Republicans never die, they finally manage successfully to secede from the Union.

CXLVII. Republicans campaign in fantasy and govern as foes.

CXLVIII. Conspiracists get right that incumbent elites are capable of anything, but get wrong how incapable incumbent elites are of everything.

CXLIX. The Southern Strategy was a long and murderous road to a short and suicidal destination.

CL. For every market, always a military.

CLI. Protest voting usually reveals incomprehension of both protest and voting.

If you enjoy these bits and pieces of anti-libertopian and hence anti-authoritarian snark, you may also enjoy my Futurological Brickbats anthology, epigrammatically dissecting and deriding corporate-militarist "futurology" and Robot Cultists.


Chad Lott said...

VI is pretty much the best description of the libertarian party I've ever heard.

Derek Wall said...

Great list of wisdom, do look at Elinor Ostrom from an apparent libertarian background she is great on commons and won a Nobel Prize for her wisdom.

Poor Richard said...

A lot of very quotable stuff, Dale.

XX. "Homo Economicus" is an altogether mythical being...

I had some fun with this mythical beast (among others) in my "Economical Bestiary" page on H. Economicus


Dale Carrico said...

Thanks! I like your pages and mean to delve deeper in coming days. Not so long ago, I taught an undergraduate course at Berkeley on mannered comedy from George Etherage to AbFab called Homo Economicus: Setting the Stage of Enterprising Modernities which you might have appreciated.

jollyspaniard said...

XVII. It is curious the number of Republicans who claim to disdain vast corrupt soulless bureaucracies but who celebrate multinational corporations.

Never mind that the Department of Defense is arguably the biggest bureaucracy in human history. Some people don't want to think of the military as a bureaucracy because it's the only part of the government they like. Here wasteful government bureacracy is a pejorative to be applied to bureacracies they don't like while bureacracies they do like are put into different categories.

XVIII. The wealthiest one per cent of the world population seem to imagine themselves indispensable. One wishes they would test this article of faith by going away.

That's what Atlas Shrugged is for. The world would collapse without them, we know this because it's been proven in a novel. We also know that Muslims are going to take over the world and behead us all. That's been proven in novels too.

It's a depressing time to be alive, never in my lifetime has this thinking been so toxic. Well it's always been toxic but while house prices were rising people were complacent.

Now there's a lot of anger which I can see going two ways New Deal politics or Berlusconi style crony capitalism and muscular racism. So far Crony Capitalism is in the lead hands down.

frankania said...

With due respect CHAD LOTT, but libertarians are NOT republicans. We libertarians do not trust reps or dems or any "big govt" types.

We can clearly see that govt, even well-meaning govt, does things in an inefficient and usually counter-productive manner. Thus, we trust individuals and sometimes VERY local govts who we know and can watch and interact with to govern us.

No wars except strictly defensive, no handouts to ANYONE, corporations, charities, other countries, or individuals.

Individuals and private groups can of course help anyone, even other countries, they want, using their own donated money and efforts.

And, of course, we don't want big-brother telling us what not do ingest, or not to gamble except on govt lotteries or pay for consensual sex, or what we can't do on Sunday etc. etc.

Dale Carrico said...

I am happy to let Chad speak for himself, should he see this and see fit to say anything about it, but permit me a word or two of my own if you will.

First --

There are many Republicans who identify as market libertarians, whether you are offended or not by that fact, and there are many Republicans who make anti-tax anti-government arguments influenced by precisely the same texts with which libertarians identify.

Dale Carrico said...

Second --

You will forgive me for lacking sympathy for arguments about inevitable government inefficiency that cash out in the real world as support for vast bloated corporate bureaucracies.

Third --

Again, you will forgive me if I refuse to share in your contempt for "well-meaning" citizens seeking to collaborate through the legitimate agencies of representative governance to solve shared problems when the alternative so often on offer is at best the neglect of such shared problems or at worst their creation or exacerbation by those who are not well-meaning at all but only interested in parochial profit-taking.

Dale Carrico said...

Fourth --

I am happy to hear that your libertarianism has made you personally skeptical of war-making, but for reasons sketched above you must forgive me when I declare those who fancy the world a war of all against typically all make unsteady allies in anti-militarism, especially to the extent that war-making is so profitable and so many market libertarians, so-called, declare profit-taking the key to both ethical and instrumental optimality. Again, it is not that I disbelieve you, but I mistrust you. If you are as appalled by war as I am, I daresay you will respect such a sentiment.

Dale Carrico said...

Lastly --

To declare taxes a kind of involuntary charitable donation is to testify to so profound an ignorance or confusion about governance that it is hard to know how to proceed in a discussion with you. The nonviolent adjudication of disputes, including disputes as to what counts as violence, fall to institutions different in character from for-profit ventures or loving intimate ones, for they must be equitable in the face of the ineradicable diversity of the peers who share the world.

Dale Carrico said...

We are born in societies that precede and exceed us, speaking languages which speak us as much as we do them. We do not choose to care about choosing, we do decide to value autonomy, we do not hit upon our individuality individually but in company and in concert with others, upsetting though that may be.

Dale Carrico said...

We are interdependent beings whatever our independence, we none of us are capable of making the world on which we depend ab initio, we none of us could form alone the conception that we would be better off in solitude. We are none of us the sole authors of either our treasures or our tragedies.

Dale Carrico said...

We rely on the collective heritage of our history, on the shared resources of our planet, on the sustaining effort and investment of our colleagues peers and fellow citizens.

Dale Carrico said...

Set aside these facile intuitions of a worldly rugged individuality, of competition yielding optimal political outcomes as though they were engineering problems. To do so is to speak as a child, it is not yet to assume a place at the table where politics as a distinctive discipline with a distinctive substance and distinctive problems are discussed.

I realize that here in America you can get away with talking such nonsense, and even fancying yourself superior in your grasp, but that is because Americans are very anti-intellectual and badly educated and superficial in consequence.

That this ignorance and sloppy-thinking truly matters after all is quite clear by now from the catastrophic state of paralysis we are in even when solutions are so clear at hand as well as in the debased state of our discourse even when so many so clearly want seriously to participate in matters of public interest.

frankania said...

Well Golly, Dale,
You sure convinced me. From now on I will pay my taxes, avoid doing anything that is against the law (all 120,000 pages of laws) stop smoking grass, stop playing poker with my buds, apply for food-stamps and move back to the USA (which I left in 1988). Good luck, amigo!

Dale Carrico said...

Thanks, good luck to you, too. Democrats struggling to end the racist war on (some) drugs could use your assistance on marijuana legalization (about which I have written here several times). I am fortunately gainfully employed unlike many victims of the deregulatory corporatism of Reagan and Gingrich and Bush, who spent more time talking like you do than not, and so I have no need of food stamps -- although I do understand macroeconomics enough to know that the material infrastructure and legal/normative infrastructure of law on which I do depend cannot arise or be maintained spontaneously from parochial for-profit calculations, as for playing poker, I believe that is played across the USA even under Obama's skeery islamofemicommunazism. If the nice homophobic science-denialist anti-government GOP keeps at it, we may have soon to join you in some more sensible foreign country, but I for one would prefer to make change here where I was born, where I am a responsible citizen, where our vast resources render even a last minute effort at planetary problem-solving worth serial humiliations and frustrations in the meantime. Again, best to you, d

admin said...

Those "libertarians" who declare whatever passes as a market outcome voluntary and nonviolent by definitional fiat -- whatever the conditions of relative deprivation, inequity, insecurity, ignorance, or misinformation that duress its terms in fact -- reveal themselves to be poor champions of an impoverished and profoundly uncivilized notion of "liberty."

It should be obvious (to anyone who thinks about it for more than a few minutes) that minarchist systems would ineluctably lead to slavery. I'm not being hyperbolic, either. I mean real, actual slavery. Sure, sure, we can't own people. We're modern, sophisticated, and ethical. We would never allow it. Except libertopians would do away with most limits on "voluntary" contracts. If you remember, the slavery of a few centuries ago also began as a contractual relationship called indentured servitude. Duressed by indigence and deprivation (created by increased income inequality in the hyper-market), this master-servant relationship of the rich over the poor would be inevitable.

When libertopians speak of freedom, they of course mean their freedom to exploit the poor. Kind of like that island that they want to invade.

jimf said...

> XX. "Homo Economicus" is an altogether mythical being...

Ah, but don't forget, to the extent that real humans diverge
from Homo Economicus, they're just being irrational.

Come the Singularity, when everybody has Overcome Bias
and become Less Wrong (or at least, when the Robot God,
or the Webmind [*], or whatever, has taken the reins),
those economistical equations will work like a

[*] I sat on my ass this weekend in Barnes & Noble
reading Robert J. Sawyer's WWW trilogy (WWW:Wake,
WWW:Watch, and WWW:Wonder )
The author thanks Ben Goertzel for allowing the emergent AI
to choose the name "Webmind" (and thereby offend the Chinese).

(And sorry, no, the identity of this commenter has not
been Verified By Webmind[TM])

jimf said...

> Except libertopians would do away with most limits on "voluntary" contracts.. . .

". . . Phaethon forced a smile. 'But I am not about to die, Father. Even if no one will sell me food or water, my armor can produce --'

'Orpheus Avernus has dumped your extra lives. You are no longer in the Mentality.'

'W-what. . .?'

'Read the hypertext and fine print of your contract with your bank. They are obligated to delete the stored lives of anyone who falls under Hortator prohibition. It is a standard clause for all contracts with Orpheus; it was Orpheus who first gave the College so much social influence.'

Phaethon opened his mouth to protest. Surely the Sophotechs, infinitely wise, would not simply stand by and let him die?

He closed his mouth again. He knew what the Sophotech logic would say. Phaethon had not invented the Numerical Recording system. Orpheus had. It belonged only to Orpheus, and he was free to dispose of his property in any peaceful and lawful fashhion he saw fit. He could not be compelled by force to give his services or his property or his lifework to anyone with whom he did not wish to deal.

And Phaethon had freely signed that contract.

'As of this moment, my son, you are no longer immortal.'

. . .

One of the Eleemonsynary Composition stood. 'Phaethon's body is stored aboard a segment of the ring-city we own. The water, and air, and the cubic space belong to us. He shall not be allowed to purchase any of this.'"

-- John C. Wright
_The Golden Age_


Dale Carrico said...

No need to turn to science fiction of course... tho' it is almost always a pleasure to do so! After all, the definitive experience of "voluntary submission to the terms of a contract" in which the parties are actually far from equally free or one side may even be profoundly duressed, far from equally informed or one side may even be profoundly misinformed, is ubiquitous in our own everyday lives and observations as well as throughout history. No need to speculate about it, it is the way things are.

Given that libertopians declare such profoundly inequitable transactions as models of consent, non-violence, and liberty it is little surprise to observe the sorts of dysfunction, inequity, exploitation, humiliation, meanness they are all too happy to tolerate and even celebrate in the name of their mutilated vision of freedom.

Roderick T. Long said...

Libertarianism -- and I mean free-market libertarianism -- is essentially an ANTI-corporate, ANTI-capitalist movement. Libertarians understood this in the 19th century and lost sight of it in the 20th. But we're back. Your attacks on the version of libertarianism that is thankfully dying don't address the more authentic version of it that's being reborn.

Dale Carrico said...

You can stipulate all you want to the contrary, but the results are in. This isn't the first time libertopians have contemplated the world of shit enabled by their ideology and then disdain responsibility for the result and magically rediscover "the truer true truth" that would be magic and not shit and demand a do-over, this time gooder and harder and for-true, only to arrive in the shit once again as night follows day, after the usual scammers indulge the usual fraudulent skim, natch. Just so you know, what it really looks like when people really learn lessons like the one you are claiming to have learned is that you actually learn it and act differently as a result, you don't re-embark immediately thereupon on the same madness expecting different result this time, this time, this time! -- of course, the truth is you just want to dream your dumb feudal dream and learning doesn't come into it. We're onto you. Also, too, is your name really Long Rod or is that just your porn name?

jimf said...

> . . .magically rediscover "the truer true truth". . .

Ah, there's a Ken McLeod blurb on the Web site. So this is
**left-wing** libertarianism (a.k.a. anarchism).
A la Noam Chomsky, I suppose.

Well, good luck taking the name back from the right-wing
variety. Good luck even talking about it in a coherent way
if you're not allowed to talk about "right wing" and "left
wing" in the first place.

And good luck talking about a world in which private entities
(wealthy individuals and/or hierarchical groups of such
individuals) do not aggregate power to themselves and
exploit their own rank-and-file without restraint, if
you're not allowed to use the word "government".

Dale Carrico said...

Noam Chomsky would scarcely be inclined to describe his anarchism as "free market libertarianism." Noam Chomsky eats libertopians like Long Rod for breakfast.