Chilling Effect, Next Steps, Final Steps, Hope

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Clark

Clark is an anarchocapitalist, a reader, and a man of mystery. He's not a neoreactionary, but he is Nrx-curious 'til graduation. All he wants for Christmas is for everyone involved in the police state to get a fair trial and a free hanging. Follow him at @clarkhat

87 Responses

  1. David says:

    It has more guns than the good guys (at least now).

    Who are the good guys?

  2. _Arthur says:

    A scientific paper, "Recursive Fury" by Stephan Lewandowsky has just been retracted by Frontiers magazine, not for any scientific reason (an ad-hoc committee by the magazine didn't find any), but because of complaints and because the "legal context is insufficiently clear".

    A scientific journal. Retracting a scientific paper. Because of legal threats.

    Hell-o chilling effets!

  3. Richard says:

    It is not necessary for anyone to to desire or plan a police state for a police state to arise. Men of good intentions can honestly attempt to solve problems on the ground and in doing so end up worsen the overall picture.

    Given this, if "the good guys," being "men of good intentions," manage to bring down the "[illegitimate] government," how do we know that they won't, in doing so, "worsen the overall picture?"

  4. babaganusz says:

    Meanwhile, all it took to get stupid France to riot was raising the retirement age by two years. "That's a really unsophisticated understanding of the issue." Shut it. I said shut it.

    i hereby regret not being introduced to TLP at least four years ago.

    Ask yourself if people of good will tried to reform the government in 1980, and 1990, and 200, and …

    a dig at Severus & Victorinus/Cao Cao/Jingu/other 'contemporary' disguised as a typo?

  5. babaganusz says:

    how do we know that they won't, in doing so, "worsen the overall picture?"

    you show your risk calculus, and i bet US$5 (adjusted for ) Clark'll show you his.

  6. Matthew says:

    "Note that no matter which party seems to win an election, the bureaucracy always stays in place, and has its own agenda."
    The designers of the current system would say that's a feature, not a bug. Back in the 19th century government jobs went to anyone who helped the current ruler enter power, encouraging a culture of corruption where neither incompetence, dishonesty, or even outright criminality was enough to deny a political staffer his job. Of course, the current system replaced the dishonest hacks with unaccountable bureaucrats…
    And yet I still believe that progress is possible. Keep in mind that there was a time in US politics when people were literally killed for trying to improve the system (See Kansas, Bloody, or James A. Garfield, Assassination of), something that tends to be frowned on these days. Progress is glacial in pace, but it does happen — but the first generation of advocates doesn't get to see it. Or the second, or the third, or often the fourth; in the US it took almost ninety years to move from "all men are created equal" to "all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State […] shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." Something I recommend people who believe that the system is "unreformable" would do well to keep in mind.

  7. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    Clark, if I may paraphrase your own axiom:

    Note that just because system A is far from perfect does not mean that system B (or the complete lack of a system) wouldn't be infinitely worse, and refuse to ever say "this will be better as soon as we remove the system" or "we just need no one in office".

  8. Anonymous says:

    Coming out and just saying you want to point guns at "the bad guys", then? Quite refreshing. (Well, coming out and strongly implying it. It could also be read as a request for people to Go Galt with a gratuitous mention of guns.)

    Also, that paper is fascinating, but is there anything in there to address that people might simply be moving to more privacy-friendly search engines, other than Google? As, you know, everyone told them to in the wake of the scandal? That, you know, seems like it might be relevant. I didn't notice anything along those lines when skimming it, but it's quite possible I simply missed it.

  9. babaganusz says:

    Who are the good guys?

    the Unwillfully(/Unwittingly) Disliberated? (i'm as yet a 'student' (bemused observer?) of the ancap loops; not sure if there's a special term for freethinking-necks-beneath-feet or something)

  10. Mike says:

    2) It is not necessary for anyone to to desire or plan a police state for a police state to arise. Men of good intentions can honestly attempt to solve problems on the ground and in doing so end up worsen the overall picture.

    Such as by noting that the Federal Register is 34,000 pages of "regulations bind with the force of law"* and then immediately parroting the very sensationalized title of a book–three felonies a day– largely about (judging from the reviews) prosecutions of non-average politicians and political figures?

    *minor quibble – assuming the FR is 34,000 pages, it is not 34,000 pages of binding law. In addition to regulations, it includes, inter alia, proposed rules.

  11. Rachel says:

    @_Richard

    My understanding is that the Lewandowsky paper was retracted because the authors did not inform the subjects of the experiment that they were indeed subjects.

    Obtaining informed consent from the subjects of social science research as well as informing subjects of the goals and design of the study is a major ethical requirement, and typically the first step taken before beginning research.

    Did Lewandowsky obtain informed consent?

  12. albert says:

    @David
    .
    The 'good guys' are the ones who know the system is broken and rotten to the core, and aren't afraid to stand up and say so. They are the folks who don't need the police kicking the shit out of them in the streets to know that something's wrong. They are the people who see the corporatocracy sliding into fascism, and are telling their friends and neighbors about it. (see Naomi Wolfe, "Fascist America, in Ten Easy Steps", http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/apr/24/usa.comment)
    .
    The Rulers of America live in a culture of fear, which fact one can only determine by their works, not their attitude and public presentation. (They are like the dogs that attack you without apparent reason; they attack out of fear, not because they don't like you). They look at the Arab Spring, the Ukraine, and other countries where uprisings have occurred, and think: 'We must ensure that these things don't happen here'. They fear losing control, because control is power. Power brings wealth, and wealth power, but wealth is not the primary goal.
    .
    The good guys are the ones who don't lionize the rich or the power elite; who recognize them as the moral cannibals who regularly sell their souls to the devil; who show that those elite never 'do the right thing' because they want to, but because they are forced to.
    .
    The first step in dealing with the Power Elite is to break their carefully constructed public persona. Despite the best efforts of our Supreme Court, businesses are still run by individuals, who are, at least, morally responsible for what they do. Folks need to 'put faces' on the corporation, to show that these companies are run by the executives, not by the anonymous stockholders.
    .
    The Power Elite are very similar to the gangs of today. The think they have the 'respect' of the citizenry, but it's really only the fear. If you imagine street thugs dressed up, shaved, living in nice neigborhoods, etc., then you have a very accurate idea of the kind of folks who run things around here.
    .
    I gotta go…

  13. To the point by Anonymous at 9:59am:

    An excellent point. We did in fact look for evidence of wider systematic adoption of privacy-protective search engines, like DuckDuckGo and so on. If there was a shift, it was undetectable in the data we found on browser market share. It could well be that certain highly privacy-sensitive people did shift their brand of browser, but our paper is analyzing search term use by the general population, so the scale of what we're looking at is too enormous to be shifted by a smaller pattern of that kind.

    Also: Clark, thank you.

  14. babaganusz says:

    drift!

    killed for trying to improve the system (See … James A. Garfield

    (emphasis mine)

    correlation, sure, but causation? has the "merely fell afoul of a frustrated/unhinged functionary" narrative been thoroughly debunked? (e.g., if "He chose to buy an ivory-handled .44 Webley British Bulldog revolver over a similar wooden-handled Webley because he thought it would look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination" is true, it may give a superficially political aroma to Guiteau's motives, but not a very ideological one…)

    but less tangentially (alert: if you reject the "they have more guns" stance on any level, you may be tempted to assume there is an inherent Massive Global Conspiracy Theory to the following train of thought – but there isn't):

    … killed for trying to improve the system … something that tends to be frowned on these days.

    so, 'back then' it was met with a shrug and/or wink? "these days" the PTB have established clearer or better-enforced disapproval? my guess is it only matters to individuals who (a) worry about how they (or their boss/tribe) will be portrayed if their 'silencing tactics' are exposed, (b) are uncertain about their access to resources for 'disappearing'/torturing enemies, giving a murder the appearance/cover story of accidental death, etc.

  15. Ryan says:

    A 5% drop seems like it could roughly correlate to the number of people who are concerned enough about the Snowden revelations to actually do something about it.

    Which makes me wonder if Tor / private VPNs have seen a 5% increase in their userbase.

    I am skeptical that people previously accustomed to doing thing X on the Internet and not experiencing consequences of it will suddenly stop doing thing X because governments may have access to that data… rather, I expect they will now utilize thing Y in order to be able to do thing X with less concern of being revealed.

    This pattern has happened with everything from porn to piracy to online TV to online newspapers… I don't expect that such a pattern would not occur with things like Google searches too.

    TL;DR: I think the scale of the shift as being too enormous to be shifted by a behavioural change is too simplistic an assumption. I would expect that some people may change their browsing behaviour to avoid certain subjects (at least temporarily; I am very skeptical this may become a permanent reducation), but I expect far more, having become accustomed to accessing those subjects, will just find more discreet means of doing so. And that appears to be something the authors have not attempted to measure.

  16. Anonymous says:

    To Alex Marthews@10:51 am: Ah, thank you very much! It's a shame; I'd have hoped for a larger shift in search engine preference. That possibly makes the chilling effect you found even more worrisome, if people just "gave up" instead of switching search engines.

  17. Clark says:

    @Matthew

    "Note that no matter which party seems to win an election, the bureaucracy always stays in place, and has its own agenda."

    The designers of the current system would say that's a feature, not a bug. Back in the 19th century…

    I understand the history, but I disagree with you that the designers would say that's a feature. The Founders most certainly did not forsee a standing army of bureacrats.

    Unless by "designers of the current system", you mean "the designers of USG3 and/or USG4". I myself am a USG1 / USG2 kind of guy.

  18. Clark says:

    @Richard

    It is not necessary for anyone to to desire or plan a police state for a police state to arise.

    Given this, if "the good guys," being "men of good intentions," manage to bring down the "[illegitimate] government," how do we know that they won't, in doing so, "worsen the overall picture?"

    I care more about capabilities than about actions.

    Defund the
    Ministerium für Heimatschutz, cut the NSA's budget to the bone, limit the BATF to twenty agents who can drive old Pintos around as they inspect tax stamps, and we'll be better off.

  19. Clark says:

    @babaganusz

    Ask yourself if people of good will tried to reform the government in 1980, and 1990, and 200, and …

    a dig at Severus & Victorinus/Cao Cao/Jingu/other 'contemporary' disguised as a typo?

    Hah!

  20. Clark says:

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    Clark, if I may paraphrase your own axiom:

    Note that just because system A is far from perfect does not mean that system B (or the complete lack of a system) wouldn't be infinitely worse,

    That is a legitimate and well-formed argument, but it is not a paraphrase. +1 point for attempting a rhetorical gotcha, -3 points for failing.

  21. Clark says:

    @Anonymous

    Coming out and just saying you want to point guns at "the bad guys", then? Quite refreshing.

    I have no problem what-so-ever at pointing guns at those responsible for criminal actions.

    Refreshing?

    Why? Has there ever been any doubt that I stand with 99.9% of Americans as a non-pacifist?

  22. Clark says:

    @Mike

    parroting the very sensationalized title of a book–three felonies a day

    Sensationalism is "the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy". In what way is the book title (or my use of it) inaccurate?

    largely about (judging from the reviews) prosecutions of non-average politicians and political figures?

    So you're saying that it's OK, because they're only coming for the trade unionists?

  23. Clark says:

    @Rachel

    Obtaining informed consent from the subjects of social science research as well as informing subjects of the goals and design of the study is a major ethical requirement, and typically the first step taken before beginning research.

    Replace "ethical" with "academic cultural", and I agree.

  24. Clark says:

    @albert

    @David

    The 'good guys' are the ones who know the system is broken and rotten to the core, and aren't afraid to stand up and say so. They are the folks who don't need the police kicking the shit out of them in the streets to know that something's wrong.

    Couldn't've said it better myself.

    You're either on the side of Kelley Thomas, or you're on the side of the cops who beat him to death because he wouldn't respect their authoritah.

  25. Clark says:

    @Ryan

    A 5% drop seems like it could roughly correlate to the number of people who are concerned enough about the Snowden revelations to actually do something about it.

    Which makes me wonder if Tor / private VPNs have seen a 5% increase in their userbase.

    Just to quibble with the math: I think a 5% drop in search would mean more like a 200% rise in Tor, etc.

  26. A Different Anonymous says:

    @Alex Marthews,

    Thanks for your response to the earlier Anonymous. However, if I read your response right, you seem to be using browser market share as a proxy for search engine use. To use myself for anecdotal evidence, I used to use Firefox with Google search; when I switched search engines for privacy reasons (among others), I used the new engine's plugin to Firefox without switching browsers. Would people like me show up in your data?

  27. Anonymous says:

    (Anonymous #1 again.)

    Why? Has there ever been any doubt that I stand with 99.9% of Americans as a non-pacifist?

    It's possible I have misinterpreted your past posts. If you have always been openly in favour of pointing guns at the bad guys and their enablers as you see them, I would like to apologise. You seem to have become more direct with your statements about how you feel about the system, is what I was trying to say.

  28. albert says:

    @Clark
    Thanks for the compliment :)
    .
    Regarding Kelley Thomas, I believe the issue is a little more complex. Thomas was mentally ill, and since 'we' can no longer care for mentally ill people*, 'we' let them fend for themselves, i.e. they become street people, where they are more likely to interact with police. The police are not trained or equipped to handle situations involving the mentally ill, or for that matter, the mentally/physically handicapped. I have lived with mentally ill people for many years. They are most often incapable of rational thought, following simple instructions, or even understanding what's happening to them, thus leading to fight or flight reactions. This throws all police procedures and training out the window. Ironically, despite their often fearsome behavior, most are not harmful; the violent ones usually being incarcerated rather quickly.

    Better police training would help, but dealing with the mentally ill is challenging, and perhaps best handle by professionals, not law enforcement.

    I gotta go…

    *'We' can afford $20K/year to incarcerate marijuana smokers, etc. most of whom are self-medicating anyway. Think about the millions of alcoholics self-medicating themselves every day. These are public health issues, swept under the rug.

  29. Clark says:

    @albert

    Better police training would help, but dealing with the mentally ill is challenging,

    That's certainly been my experience when I've had to deal with police…oh, wait. I think I misread you there.

    But seriously, I always get angry at the concept of "better police training". It implicitly accepts that cops are idiots who have no agency. I think that they do have agency…and the idiot part of the problem can be solved by hiring better people (and less of them).

  30. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Ryan

    A 5% drop seems like it could roughly correlate to the number of people who are concerned enough about the Snowden revelations to actually do something about it.

    Which makes me wonder if Tor / private VPNs have seen a 5% increase in their userbase.

    Searches using Tor/private VPNs would still show up on Google, although perhaps in a different country from the searcher.

  31. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Clark

    You're very right that I used the word "paraphrase" sloppily and incorrectly. Now how many points do you deduct from yourself for engaging in your own non-substantive gotcha rather than responding to the point? Your own advocacy against the "system" and for anarchy does tend to lean toward the it has to be better than what we have now variety, which I believe to be both unrealistic and shortsighted.

    Railing against the "system" is all well and good, but I think throwing your hands up and declaring it unreformable is both an easy out and ignores that fact that we have made enormous changes for the better in this country in the last two centuries.

  32. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Clark

    Obtaining informed consent from the subjects of social science research as well as informing subjects of the goals and design of the study is a major ethical requirement, and typically the first step taken before beginning research.

    Replace "ethical" with "academic cultural", and I agree.

    I'm not familiar with the study so I can't comment on it specifically, but there are good reasons why it's an ethical issue, and they don't boil down to just people not wanting to be guinea pigs.

  33. _Arthur says:

    Rachel, all the material collected on Lewandowsky's Recursive Fury article were mostly blog posts and blog comments on public blogs, like this one.

    Do you hold that it is unethical or illegal to use web articles and blog comments in scientific research without the consent of each and every blogger and poster ?

    What say the legal eagles gathered here ?

  34. Matthew: Keep in mind that there was a time in US politics when people were literally killed for trying to improve the system, something that tends to be frowned on these days.

    Why kill someone when you can use one of his daily felonies to bankrupt his family?

  35. Rachel says:

    @_Arthur

    You wrote: "Do you hold that it is unethical or illegal to use web articles and blog comments in scientific research without the consent of each and every blogger and poster ?"

    I know in social science research that it is standard practice to obtain informed consent before beginning research. As to the legality, I do not know.

    Did you know about this allegation of failing to obtain informed consent when you made your original comment?

  36. Devil's Advocate says:

    Do you hold that it is unethical or illegal to use web articles and blog comments in scientific research without the consent of each and every blogger and poster ?

    What say the legal eagles gathered here ?

    In the US, that would be an IRB call. More specifically, it would be illegal and unethical to do it without checking with the IRB, and it would be illegal and unethical to do it if the IRB doesn't approve.

    The issue here is the blog posts potentially contain personally identifying information, which is enough by itself to trigger IRB review. The IRB would be interested in knowing how that information would be used and whether anything in the resulting paper could be traced back to the original authors.

    My guess would be most IRBs would approve the research, but put some reasonable restrictions on personally identifying stuff.

  37. David says:

    Reformatted for simplification:

    @David
    The 'good guys' are the ones who
    (a) know the system is broken and rotten to the core
    (b) aren't afraid to stand up and say so.
    (c) don't need the police kicking the shit out of them in the streets to know that something's wrong.
    (d) the corporatocracy sliding into fascism
    (e) are telling their friends and neighbors about it.
    (f) don't lionize the rich or the power elite
    (g) recognize them as the moral cannibals who regularly sell their souls to the devil
    (h) show that those elite never 'do the right thing' because they want to, but because they are forced to.

    @albert
    Thanks for the reply to my question. Your answer remains ambiguous between (at least)

    (X) any person who does (a)-(h) is, for that reason alone, a "good guy" by definition,

    and

    (Y) among the many people of various ideologies who do (a)-(h), some proper subset consists of people who are "good guys" for additional, unspecified reasons.

    These are two very different claims. The former suggests that doing those 8 things confers (or makes manifest) this virtue. The latter suggests that people with this virtue are counted among those (including some not so virtuous) who happen to do those 8 things.

    Which do you mean? Or do you mean something else?

    If you mean X, then why should we think that doing (a)-(h) automatically makes someone a "good guy"? And if you mean (Y), then why should we think that any particular folks who do (a)-(h) belong to the subset of "good guys" rather than, say, the set of "cures worse than the disease"?

    (see Naomi Wolfe…

    Heh. Good one!

  38. Clark says:

    @Devil's Advocate

    In the US, that would be an IRB call. More specifically, it would be illegal and unethical to do it without checking with the IRB, and it would be illegal and unethical to do it if the IRB doesn't approve.

    It would, perhaps, be illegal.

    The IRB is not dispositive on what is and is not unethical (although that is, I think, news to the IRB).

  39. _Arthur says:

    Devil's A:

    Can I quote you on that ?

  40. Matthew says:

    @babaganusz and Anton Sherwood
    The point I was trying to make is that as time goes on, the level of violence in politics and "bigger-stick" resolution of social issues tends to decrease. For example, the US legally resolved the issue of woman's suffrage in 1920 after a heated debate that led to the ratification of the 19th amendment, while it legally resolved the issue of human slavery in 1865 after burning down most of its southern half and forcing the survivors to ratify the 13th amendment at gunpoint.

  41. Castaigne says:

    @Clark:

    Police states are not boolean: A society can be more or less of a police state. The presence of newspapers and absence of death camps does not mean that there is not something of a police state.

    The definition of a police state is a country in which the populace is kept under tight control by a government that seeks to limit social, political, and sometimes economic activity by the citizenry to a substantial degree. In a police state, human rights are subordinate to the will of the government (and, in some cases, the will of private interests with governmental authority to use force), and police brutality is not just accepted but also standard operating procedure, and the police force is partially or totally militarized. Generally speaking, police states don't have a separation of powers, and the executive is more or less unitary.

    A country that has SOME elements of a police state is not a police state, just as a country that has SOME aspects of anarchocapitalism is not an AnCap Paradise. Thus, I will not consider the USA to be a police state until it actually IS a police state, especially as such pronouncements and criticisms are driving the very term itself into the status of an ideologically charged buzzword.

    Do go read the Marthew's paper.

    An interesting paper, but like most people untutored in the technical aspects of the internet, he confuses behavioral advertising methods with government surveillance.

    Note that the NSA, the DoD, and the State Department are regulated by the government, but regulation does not work they way one might expect.

    Yes, administrative law operates differently than statute law and criminal law. What a remarkable surprise. It's also a remarkable surprise when one finds that others do not understand the role of the legislature in creating a corrupt bureaucracy. Or how banning lobbyists would alleviate most of the problem.

    Note that no matter which party seems to win an election, the bureaucracy always stays in place, and has its own agenda.

    A good bureaucracy is one that is not beholden to party politics. Trust me, you don't want that – see historical examples of when that occurred.

    Note that elections do not create moral government or consent.

    This assumes that the point of government is to be moral or to allow citizens to consent to being governed. I hold that it is not. The point of government is to provide order to society and prevent anarchy and ruin.

    If you want a moral government, create a theocracy and start executing everyone who will not obey your Godlaw.

    Note that the DNA of the government is not just the Constitution, but the extended phenotype of defense oriented firms, police departments, bureaucrats, dependents, and more.

    Nice theory, but Dawkins is a crank when acting outside his area of expertise. This theory has no place in political science.

    Also, The Last Psychiatrist, really? I quote from "The Straight Dope": He's a writer whose main skill is convincing people that he's smarter than he really is. He achieves this effect in three ways:

    1) Writing in a brash, arrogant style comprised almost entirely of declarative sentences.
    2) Making weird, esoteric historical, political, and pop culture references and then breezing along without bothering to explain them. He probably knows it's unlikely that any one person would be able to catch all the references he throws out, and would probably have to Google a couple (which is why good writers only use them sparingly, if at all), and I suspect he only includes them so people will think "Wow, that guy must be really smart! He's referenced Zarathustra, Popeye Doyle, and Katniss Everdeen in one paragraph!**" – What he doesn't realise is that anyone can pull this trick.
    3). Mixing heavy polysyllabic words like 'egalitarianism' and weirdly stilted academic phrases like 'Only a taught narcissistic psychology' in with conversational language like 'SPOILER ALERT' and 'Duh! That's the whole point!'

    His essays don't really stand up to any real scrutiny. I doubt they'd survive ten minutes in GD. The whole thing reads like a beginner's introduction to social psychology written by the guys from Cracked.

    More detail can be provided on that if you prefer.

    Ask yourself if people of good will tried to reform the government in 1980, and 1990, and 200, and 2010, and it has gotten larger and more intrustive every year, what effect people of good will trying to reform the government in 2014 will have.

    I'm going to be very honest with you. If you want government to be smaller and less intrusive, you will need to follow these steps:
    1) Determine what year of the American government you are comfortable with.
    2) Ban all further research into technology, period, full stop.
    3) Ban everything that relies on technology advances from that year forward.

    If you're not willing to do that, you cannot accomplish what you want, because no matter who you kill, government and replacement governments (and there WILL be replacements; anarchy is not sustinable and order will develop) will continually grow larger and more intrusive.

    Withdraw your consent from the system.

    No, thank you. I have no interest in renouncing my citizenship and leaving the country. If you means of "withdraw your consent" other than that, I can't help you there. You are certainly welcome to declare yourself a freeman on the land and go join a Sovereign Citizen movement if you want. I salute your sovereignty, Clark:Popehat-Blog!

    Note that the government can do whatever it wants to your body, because it has more men and more guns, but it can not force you to acknowledge its moral legitimacy.

    Government doesn't have moral legitimacy. No one outside of a church does.

    t has more guns than the good guys (at least now).

    There are no good guys. I am not a good guy. You are not a good guy. Evil is solely in the eye of the beholder.

    I understand the history, but I disagree with you that the designers would say that's a feature. The Founders most certainly did not forsee a standing army of bureacrats.

    Some of the Founders didn't. Hamilton most certainly did. Of course, out of all the Founders, each of whom held wildly different opinions, only 2 or 3 actually thought about the far future and technology. Jefferson feared it. Hamilton embraced it.

  42. albert says:

    @David;

    (a) through (h) pretty well covers it. I don't know of any of the Power Elite who could be accused of observing any of those behaviors, let alone all of them.

    Are there individuals who could conceivably 'practice' all of those points and not be a good guy? Yes and no. Someone could advocate all points, but demand violent overthrow of the system. But wouldn't that make them part of the system, moral cannibals who don't want to do the right thing? And what about those folks who agree with all those points, but don't do anything about it? Are they part of the 'good guys'? Or are they just afraid to rock the boat?

    I gotta go…

  43. Sami says:

    More guns than the good guys.

    Really? How many guns do the good guys have? How do you know they're that good? I'm guessing good guys are defined here as "guys who agree with you". (Me, I'm slightly more dubious of the "good guy" status of anyone who *has a gun*.)

    But in any case, are you suggesting that it would be better if the "good guys" had more guns than the government? Because that would go so fucking well. Just look at how awesomely things have turned out in Syria now that the good guys have lots of guns as well as the government having lots of guns! That's *exactly* the kind of nation America should aspire to be, amirite?

  44. Kratoklastes says:

    I saw "that elections do not create moral government or consent", with a link.

    Holding my breath, I hovered the mouse over the link: was it finally going to be someone referencing the Arrow Impossibility Theorem (whereby the aggregation of individual ordinal preferences does not generally result in a "social welfare function" that has the appropriate properties to be satisfactory)?

    Or perhaps the Gibbard-Satterthwait Theorem (whereby all voting mechanisms are corruptible through 'tactical' preference-ordering)?

    Or maybe somehow Clark had found my G+ comment on how democratic processes absolutely never result in national governments that receive the votes of the majority the eligible electorate? To wit: the average proportion of the electorate required to form government for [US, UK, Australia, France, Germany] = [28.8%, 37.0%, 44%, 35.9%, 26.75%] for all periods where data is available and the franchise is general.

    No such luck… it was some drivel about Soviet elections – despite the fact that turnover of incumbents in the Soviet Union was higher than it is in the US Congress.

    Democracy is a lie: it cannot (pace Arrow) do what it claims (reflect the 'general will' or some other such wet-minded tosh); it is peopled by, and attracts by its nature, people who have no desire or intention to 'reflect the general will' anyhow; and it is absolutely not driven by the votes of the majority.

    It is, like all artificial hierarchical systems, a mechanism by which megalomaniacal sociopaths validate their parasitism by a series of false tropes that appeal to the cognitively uncritical (and bewilder the layman) – depending on the Dunning-Kruger Effect and the availability heuristic to pre-emptively stifle the search for alternatives. See also: religion, State-administered "justice" and "law enforcement".

    Burn it all down.

  45. Clark says:

    @Kratoklastes

    Holding my breath, I hovered the mouse over the link: was it finally going to be someone referencing the Arrow Impossibility Theorem (whereby the aggregation of individual ordinal preferences does not generally result in a "social welfare function" that has the appropriate properties to be satisfactory)?

    I'm pretty certain that I HAVE linked to the Arrow theorem before.

    Democracy is a lie

    Agreed.

    Burn it all down.

    I'll buy that for a dollar.

  46. Stephen H says:

    A couple of comments:

    1. A two party "pass the parcel of government" system is not democracy, and is quite likely to be undemocratic. Douglas Adams points this out in discussing the society which "must vote for the right lizard, or the wrong lizard might get up". The fact is that the political jerrymanders in place in the major English-speaking democracies lock out the actual views of their voters, and protect the political status quo to our expense

    2. I suggest replacing the reference to Three Felonies a Day with another book about the failure of legal systems to protect people. Unfortunately, Three Felonies a Day does not focus upon the little but on the big – largely politicians getting in trouble for accepting bribes. What about the person who is followed by a police car for ten minutes, in the police officers' certain knowledge that a road rule will be broken in that time?

    3. Those who seek power are absolutely the wrong people to have power. We need to review how we select our leaders, and just as importantly how we select our administrators. I once worked with a lady who talked about how her ex-husband decided to change his career. He wanted to be a police officer, and when she asked him why his response was "for the power". We do not want sociopaths in such positions

    4. Justice delayed is justice denied. Likewise, justice is supposed to have some balance. A defendant should not have a choice between bankruptcy and pleading guilty – they should receive the same funding as the state spends on the case, and have the same opportunity to present their case. Plea bargaining should be impermissible – it is another opportunity for a state power to break arms and enforce its will. Sentencing laws should be sensible – otherwise you simply encourage plea bargaining and over-charging by prosecutors

    5. Governments are supposed to level playing fields. They are to protect the poor from the rich, the weak from the strong, the powerless from the powerful. Somehow this has been forgotten

    6. It is about people. Companies are not people, and should not have the same rights as people. Economies are not people, and we should not make decisions that favour "the economy" over "the people".

    Oh, and one more:

    7. Trust no-one. Anything you say online or in public (and in the privacy of your own home in many cases – especially if you have a webcam plugged in), you must be prepared to defend to your friends, family, employer, government, court of law.

    (Oops. How do I delete this list?)

  47. Stephen H says:

    Just as importantly as my previous comments, ask your favourite privacy-championing website to implement SSL. If they need it, offer money in support of getting enhanced SSL, implemented by an expert, to ensure that what you do on that site is protected.

    And ask if they would consider relocating their server to one of the nicer privacy-respecting European countries.

  48. Matthew says:

    @Krakolastes
    I find myself agreeing with most of what you say and still being repelled by your conclusion. The system sucks, but somebody needs to have the power to do stuff like deter violence and enforce property rights, and at least in a democracy the governors are at times somewhat accountable to the governed. I wouldn't advocate burning the system down until we have a clear idea of what to replace it with.

    @Castaigne
    You I flat-out disagree with. Clark's point was that a country can exhibit the worst tendancies of a police state without technically being one. Take separation of powers: the PotUS has little formal authority over Congress but is the single most important actor in the law-making process (take LBJ, who when faced with congressional opposition to his agenda began twisting arms until he got what he wanted). And because of the NSA's anti-terrorism "activities," he now has more dirt on Congress than Nixon had in his wildest dreams. And what does technological growth have to do with government power? Are computers more responsible for the War on Drugs than I realized? (Also, when discussing government bureaucracies, it's important to keep in mind that a worker who can't be fired over partisan politics often can't be fired over rank incompetence. One of the big challenges of today's age is probably going to be finding the point where one goal can be achieved without sacrificing the other.)

  49. 205guy says:

    "Now how many points do you deduct from yourself for engaging in your own non-substantive gotcha rather than responding to the point?"

    Advantage Dr. Nobel Dynamite.

    Castaigne: thank you for the link to rationalwiki.org (as well as all your good points in opposition to Clark's). http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Anarcho-capitalism did not disappoint.

  50. Interesting that Castaigne mistook a metaphorical use of one of Dawkins's biological concepts for an example of Dawkins's political views; and attributed to "The Straight Dope" (i.e. Cecil Adams) a passage written on the Straight Dope Message Board (i.e. almost certainly not by Cecil Adams). Neither of these observations shows that any of Castaigne's is wrong, but they raise a question of reading comprehension.

    Stephen H: #4 is an appealing idea, but I foresee the day when a Lawnorder pol says, "That criminal-coddling stuff, like no double jeopardy and requiring unanimous verdicts and so on, had its place in the bad old days; but now that the defense is guaranteed resources equal to the prosecution's [and even gets maybe a third as much in fact], the balance has swung too far."

    Matthew: You know, I've often read that LBJ "twisted arms" to get his way, but not what he literally did. Or did he literally send out a goon squad to arrest members of Congress so he could torture them?

  51. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    Watching Anarchists (of whatever sort) square off against The System (of whatever sort) always reminds me of The Taming of the Shrew, Moonlighting, The X-Files, etc.

    The two main actors circle each other constantly. The tension ebbs and flows. Will they or won't they? Do they know what the other feels? Do they even know what they want themselves?

    WHY DON'T THEY JUST KISS ALREADY!?

    (although you *really* hope they never do, because then it just gets lame)

  52. En Passant says:

    Clark's suggestion:

    1) Do go read the Marthew's paper. …

    NSA will store evidence that I read it, then government will prosecute me as soon as they make reading it a felony.

    So, no way. I don't read anything, ever. You can't be too careful these days.

  53. Xennady says:

    The definition of a police state is a country in which the populace is kept under tight control by a government that seeks to limit social, political, and sometimes economic activity by the citizenry to a substantial degree.

    This doesn't seem like a description of activities of the US government to you? Really? With millions of pages of regulations with the force of law intended to, well, keep the populace under tight control, and limit social, political and economic activities?

    I'm going to be very honest with you. If you want government to be smaller and less intrusive, you will need to follow these steps:
    1) Determine what year of the American government you are comfortable with.
    2) Ban all further research into technology, period, full stop.
    3) Ban everything that relies on technology advances from that year forward.

    Then I take it that you believe it inevitable that the government will continue to get ever larger and more intrusive, forever. Just where do you think that process ends, anyway? Hence I'm not sure why you'd disagree with Clark, except to perhaps complain that he's a little early. It seems to me pretty obvious about which way the wind is blowing in the United States, and I think this a pretty good description of current trends:

    In a police state, human rights are subordinate to the will of the government (and, in some cases, the will of private interests with governmental authority to use force), and police brutality is not just accepted but also standard operating procedure, and the police force is partially or totally militarized. Generally speaking, police states don't have a separation of powers, and the executive is more or less unitary.

    More and more, this seems to me to be an accurate description of how the US regime operates.

    I think this a bad thing. You, as far as I can tell, do not.

  54. the other rob says:

    I am skeptical that people previously accustomed to doing thing X on the Internet and not experiencing consequences of it will suddenly stop doing thing X because governments may have access to that data… rather, I expect they will now utilize thing Y in order to be able to do thing X with less concern of being revealed.

    Let me falsify that by example, for you. Shortly after the Snowden stuff started coming out, my wife happened to watch a National Geographic movie about events at a small place with the initials RR. I was mildly curious as to how accurate the movie's account of events, as described by her, actually was.

    Ordinarily, I'd simply have googled it. Post S, however, I feared winding up on a list of some description if I did so. Yes, I could have used alternate means, but I couldn't be bothered – I was only mildly curious and it wasn't that important to me. So I dropped it and what could have been an interesting conversation never happened.

    So, yes, people with a burning desire to do X might indeed seek out means Y. But, in my sample of 1, 100% of subjects with only a mild interest in doing X simply dropped the matter instead.

    That may not seem to be a big deal, but consider how many great cultural and scientific innovations came about as a result of somebody's mild interest leading them down a random path that eventually led to something special. Consider what innovations may never come to fruition if idle curiosity is curtailed. It seems to me that a thing does not have to be dramatic in itself to have dramatic consequences.

  55. piperTom says:

    Richard asked about those who would bring down illegitimate government: "how do we know that they won't … 'worsen the overall picture?'"

    The key is in the word "polycentric", which Clark used at the end. The hardest thing non-anarchists have to learn about anarchy is not that "there is no government", but that there is likely to be hundreds or thousands of governments. Everybody gets to pick his own — including the (lonely) choice of self-government. Competition is counted upon to weed out those that "worsen".

    Stephen H thinks "we need to review how we select our leaders…" What 'we' is that Stephen? I don't need to select a leader for you and you don't have a say in how I may select a leader. There IS no way that 'we' can fairly select 'a' leader.

  56. albert says:

    Sheesh! Here I'm trying to re-read the Constitution & Bill of Rights, and history thereof….

    the other rob@
    Providing there are no computers smarter than me at the NSA, what the hell is RR? Republic of Rwanda? Make this a 'Doh!' moment please. ('Rwanda' spell checks, which is convenient for quick scans of meelions of emails, as it saves having to decode 'ruwanda', etc.) Things like Tor do work, but they are not perfect. Communication Secrecy is a contentious field, with software creators on one side, and software breakers on the other, and they change roles often. The U.S. gov't uses Tor, as well as trying to defeat it.

    @Anton Sherwood:
    LBJ didn't have to literally 'twist arms'. He was the pols Pol. He knew everything about every pol on the Hill, and on the Hill, that's all you need to know.

    @Castaigne:
    You propose "…the definition of a police state…"; "…The point of government…"; "…no place in political science…". There's no science in 'political science', neither is there in social 'science', economics, anthropology, ….There can't be anything other than 'a' definition of police state, 'a' point of government,….

    That said, I do agree with you on some points: on lobbyists, on moral legitimacy. In fact, most of our problems with governance can be traced to the abuse of monetary power in the government, and, by extension, the judicial system.

    I gotta go…

  57. albert: So you're saying LBJ lived by blackmail, or what?

  58. Castaigne says:

    @Matthew:

    Clark's point was that a country can exhibit the worst tendancies of a police state without technically being one.

    It either IS a police state or it ISN'T one. You're a Catholic or you aren't. You work in IT or you don't. It's really that simple. Pick one.

    Take separation of powers: the PotUS has little formal authority over Congress but is the single most important actor in the law-making process (take LBJ, who when faced with congressional opposition to his agenda began twisting arms until he got what he wanted). And because of the NSA's anti-terrorism "activities," he now has more dirt on Congress than Nixon had in his wildest dreams.

    1) I don't know that any President has more dirt on Congress than Nixon had in his wildest dreams. I'd first need it proven. Speculation is well and dandy, but it remains speculation until proven. I spend my free time sifting through speculation over at RationalWiki. I have little patience for it.

    2) If you don't like it, you know how to change it. We have the legal mechanisms for doing so in existence.

    And what does technological growth have to do with government power? Are computers more responsible for the War on Drugs than I realized?

    Rule #1 for Technology: If a technological device/advance can be used for a specific purpose, it WILL be used for that purpose.

    Corollary to Rule #1: Even if you manage to get this group or that group not to use it for that specific purpose, another group will pick it up and use it for that specific purpose. The only way to eliminate that specific purpose is to ban the technological device/advance entire.

    Let's look at surveillance. It is only natural that the government would use currently available surveillance technology. So let's say we get the NSA disbanded and the government – all US government – stops using it. Corporations will just start doing the same thing. There's a lot of money to be made in a Panopticon society. Stop the corporations? Criminal groups will do it. Stop them? Private individuals, who eventually become corporations. Stop them? Religious groups. Stop them? Militias. Stop them? AD INFINITUM.

    It's the technology. It's how it works. You don't want it to surveil you, you have to get rid of the technology.

    ===

    @Anton Sherwood:

    Interesting that Castaigne mistook a metaphorical use of one of Dawkins's biological concepts for an example of Dawkins's political views

    Nope, that's not what I did. I a) pointed out the misapplication of the theory to political science which is what Clark did, and b) that Dawkins is a crank outside of his area of expertise (and sometimes within it, considering his misguided adherence to the gene-centered theory) and so his theory should not be applied outside of it.

    nd attributed to "The Straight Dope" (i.e. Cecil Adams) a passage written on the Straight Dope Message Board (i.e. almost certainly not by Cecil Adams). Neither of these observations shows that any of Castaigne's is wrong, but they raise a question of reading comprehension.

    So…when I refer to the message board "The Straight Dope", I'm referring in actuality to Cecil Adams and his blog himself? That's what you got from my statement?
    And I'm the one with poor reading comprehension? Ok, then.
    Pro-tip: When I refer to a blog, I reference the blog itself. IE, "The Straight Dope Blog". This should be obvious.

    You know, I've often read that LBJ "twisted arms" to get his way, but not what he literally did. Or did he literally send out a goon squad to arrest members of Congress so he could torture them?

    It's hyperbole. He was just very persuasive. His "Johnson Treatment" has been studied for its effectiveness.

    ===

    @Stephen H.:

    Those who seek power are absolutely the wrong people to have power.

    And yet those who do not seek power make the worst leaders ever, simply by their refusal to lead.

    Governments are supposed to level playing fields. They are to protect the poor from the rich, the weak from the strong, the powerless from the powerful. Somehow this has been forgotten

    I disagree. This has never been the role of government in history. The role of government has been to impose order; some have sought to do this by level playing fields and others have not given a lick about it. All that matters is, did their techniques achieve to goal of order in society and maintain it successfully?

    ===

    @Xennady:

    This doesn't seem like a description of activities of the US government to you? Really? With millions of pages of regulations with the force of law intended to, well, keep the populace under tight control, and limit social, political and economic activities?

    No. Primarily because I don't see this as tight control. I regard it as very loose control.

    Then I take it that you believe it inevitable that the government will continue to get ever larger and more intrusive, forever.

    Whatever technology allows, government or any other power group will do.

    Just where do you think that process ends, anyway?

    It doesn't. There are no beginnings and no ends, just a continuation that occasionally transmutes.

    Hence I'm not sure why you'd disagree with Clark, except to perhaps complain that he's a little early.

    I disagree with Clark because he's for anarchy, no government, no law. He doesn't want to "fix" the system; he wants to burn it down and live in the ashes, thinking it's paradise. I want orders, technological, industrialized civilization with laws and corporations and a rationalized society. They're opposites, as my goals require mass standardization, which are incompatible with Clark's ultimate individualism.

    The fact that he, like most anarchocapitalists, have a pollyanna view of human nature doesn't help any.

    More and more, this seems to me to be an accurate description of how the US regime operates.

    I don't agree with that at all. When we start approaching Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Franco's Spain, Pinochet's Chile, or Stalin's USSR, I'll let you know.

    ===

    @piperTom:

    The key is in the word "polycentric", which Clark used at the end. The hardest thing non-anarchists have to learn about anarchy is not that "there is no government", but that there is likely to be hundreds or thousands of governments. Everybody gets to pick his own — including the (lonely) choice of self-government. Competition is counted upon to weed out those that "worsen".

    Quote: Competing private courts enforcing competing polycentric bodies of law, as envisioned by David Friedman, presents an especially confusing mess. The implications of this are best left to the reader to imagine.

    Everybody WILL pick his own. Competition WILL weed out those that "worsen". And the ones that "worsen" will of course never, ever gain the upper hand.

    Just saying.

    ===

    @albert:

    ere's no science in 'political science', neither is there in social 'science', economics, anthropology

    Except that the scientific method and empirical experiments CAN be done with political science, economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and geography. And are frequently done.

  59. Rachel says:

    @Castaigne

    Over on the Michael Mann thread you made some assertions which seemingly have no basis in fact, or at least in any facts I can find by searching google.

    Perhaps you could meander back over to that thread and provide some links/sources to back up the statements you've made?

  60. Castaigne: If you believe that political systems can be described only in binary terms, that's your privilege.

    Is it always wrong to describe a political phenomenon with a biological metaphor? If you don't mean anything so sweeping, it would be kind of you to say how Clark's metaphor is inapplicable.

    (I'll note that Clark was a bit sloppy with it, using 'DNA' too broadly; I'd rewrite it, "Note that a full description of the government must include not only the Constitution, its ostensible DNA, but the extended phenotype . . .”. Arguably the metaphor is misapplied, in that the point of The Extended Phenotype – the one part of the trilogy that I could not finish – is, as I misunderstand it, that the termite mound is encoded by DNA no less than the termite's leg. So a better metaphor might involve the environment of symbiotes and parasites. The Framers, or some of them, presumably intended to be the symbiotes and parasites.)

    I've never heard of "The Straight Dope Blog" before. I'm guessing that you mean Cecil Adams's weekly column that has been running since 1973; and that you consider the column less central to the Straight Dope brand than the Straight Dope Message Board which was founded in 1999 for discussion of the column. Um, okay, so long as we know how you're using the terms.

    Please don't confuse the consequences of anarchy or polycencric law, as you foresee them, with the goals of anarchists. You can call us fools for thinking that people will not behave worse in the absence of the political threat of violence than people do behave with the political privilege of violence on their side, without (paradoxically) also misattributing to us a preference for permanent total war.

    I agree with rationalwiki that too much anarchist writing reads like that of Marxists in saying "this is how it will work because any other way would be wrong!". (That's why I like David Friedman's book best: it makes a conscious effort to avoid that fallacy, by considering the incentives of the various players.) It's amusing that rationalwiki follows Ayn Rand in assuming that private police services will never think in advance about how to avoid armed conflict with their peers.

  61. albert says:

    @Anton Sherwood:
    No, and I don't think he did. The one and only reason LBJ was JFKs VP was to be sure he didn't lose the Southern votes. LBJ was a master politician (and disliked by the Harvard Boys probably for that reason) and surely knew where the skeletons were buried. When he put his hand on your shoulder and said, "I really need your vote on this..", you knew the 'right' answer. It's not blackmail; it's the way it's done. Surely there was quid pro quo going on as well. You can find an interesting summary of him on wiki.

    I gotta go…

  62. Anony Mouse says:

    Ordinarily, I'd simply have googled it. Post S, however, I feared winding up on a list of some description if I did so.

    Oh no! A list!

  63. hohynym says:

    @Castaigne
    "Let's look at surveillance. It is only natural that the government would use currently available surveillance technology. So let's say we get the NSA disbanded and the government – all US government – stops using it. Corporations will just start doing the same thing. There's a lot of money to be made in a Panopticon society. Stop the corporations? Criminal groups will do it. Stop them? Private individuals, who eventually become corporations. Stop them? Religious groups. Stop them? Militias. Stop them? AD INFINITUM."

    In order to do anything, a thing has to have eyes to see, and arms to act, to paraphrase Altshuller because I don't have the time to look it up.

    The US government has very powerful arms – police forces, Army, etc. But take away its eyes ie mass surveillance capability and its capacity for harm is much reduced. Corporations, individuals, religious zealots etc may indeed try to develop surveillance capabilities, but they can't make you pay for them and their arms are weak and feeble compared to USMC, etc. Mostly they can only try to bribe you, which gives you the option to stay unbribed.

  64. hohynym: To be fair, it doesn't take guns to blackmail you.

  65. CJK Fossman says:

    @Clark

    The Founders most certainly did not forsee a standing army of bureacrats.

    Why would they not? The framers of the constitution were educated men. Certainly they were familiar with, for example, the Byzantine and Roman empires, both of which employed huge standing armies of bureaucrats.

  66. CJK Fossman says:

    @PiperTom

    there is likely to be hundreds or thousands of governments.

    Well here's the irony. You posted this comment using the World Wide Web, which is a child of the Internet, which was created by DARPA, which was a child of the hated federal gubbmint.

    So, please describe how one of your mini-governments will create the Internet. And don't give me any BS about enlightened self-interest. The result of that is AOL. Did you post your comment via AOL?

  67. CJK Fossman says:

    @Rachel,

    Can you play two tunes on that harmonica?

  68. CJK Fossman says:

    @Hohynym

    Corporations, individuals, religious zealots etc may indeed try to develop surveillance capabilities, but they can't make you pay for them and their arms are weak and feeble compared to USMC

    Really? Try being sued by Microsoft or Oracle or Chrysler. See how long it takes one of them to drive you to bankruptcy.

  69. An anarchist who uses the Internet is as hypocritical as a Protestant who uses the Latin alphabet, which was imposed on most of Europe by the Roman Church — otherwise, those nations would never have become literate, amirite?

  70. Manatee says:

    @Clark

    You're very right that I used the word "paraphrase" sloppily and incorrectly. Now how many points do you deduct from yourself for engaging in your own non-substantive gotcha rather than responding to the point?

    Honestly, this is one of the reasons I don't come by as much anymore. Clark doesn't really debate anymore. I don't know if that's a gradual thing that happened, or if he was always like this because I was too excited by the new regular contributor who seemed to share so many of my views on government. Clark often posts interesting source material that I like to check out, and sometimes he's making the very rant I wanted to do myself, but I'm generally disappointed with how rarely he'll address the difficult pointed comments and how much time he instead spends either patting people on the back for agreeing with him or just scoring cheap rhetorical points hitting the low hanging fruit (no offense to your low hanging fruit.)

    Either way, it's particularly disappointing that Clark doesn't engage the issues on a substantive level the way Ken and Patrick often do. Now that I have less free time and can't just read everything on Popehat the way I used to, Clark's posts are usually the ones on the topics I want to read about.

    Sometimes I wonder whether the persona of Clark is a Charles Carreon-esque piece of performance art meant to demonstrate the deleterious effects of unchecked power of human decency, much as the power of an unchecked police state must invariably corrupt even those with the noblest intentions.

  71. Docraulgun says:

    Every generation days "The System is unredeemable" but somehow society goes on. Giving up and not bothering to try to change "the system" is the problem. Apathy kills.

  72. albert says:

    @CJK Fossman:

    "…Microsoft or Oracle or Chrysler…"

    Haven't seen those words in the same sentence in a long time :)

    Where you hangin' lately, since groklaws demise?

    I gotta go…

  73. sinij says:

    Can I ask all the anarcho-libertarians to burn systems to the ground in their own backyards? I am fairly content with a status quo where my ability to protest government actions, protections for my property, personal freedom and due process, access to free media, and electoral system does not depend on my ability and prowess at cracking heads.

    Sure, none of the above-mentioned systems are absolute or work all the time. Still, I will take most of the time for most people of reasonable means and intelligence. I too would like these systems to be more robust and will support any activity to improve them while working within system.

    What I will never support is "Step 1: Burn the system to the ground", because your "Step 2. ????" will never lead to "Step 3. Libertarian Paradise", but instead will lead to "Step 3. Anarchy, with warlords, summary executions of non-believers". I think Bioshock's Rapture storyline covers likely outcome of such endeavor.

  74. Clark says:

    @sinij

    Can I ask all the anarcho-libertarians to burn systems to the ground in their own backyards?

    I, for one, only want to burn systems down when they step into my own backyard.

    It is the statists among us who support a government that burns systems to the ground in Waco Texas, Serbia, Iraq, etc.

    I am fairly content with a status quo [ with ] protections for my property, personal freedom and due process, access to [ clean ] electoral system

    Both by reading the news and by my own experiences I do not believe that any of these things exist in the United States. At least, not for people of my socio-economic level.

    Sure, none of the above-mentioned systems are absolute or work all the time. Still, I will take most of the time for most people of reasonable means and intelligence.

    Having seen the jaws of the State start to arbitrarilly close on me, on friends, and on strangers, I'm not as serene about the life-destroying error rate as you are.

    What I will never support is "Step 1: Burn the system to the ground", because your "Step 2. ????" will never lead to "Step 3. Libertarian Paradise"

    It did once, in 1776.

    but instead will lead to "Step 3. Anarchy, with warlords, summary executions of non-believers".

    If the current statist scumbags are included among the non-believers, I might even be willing to accept a tradeoff as bleak as the one you suggest.

    …but why should I believe that your belief is correct? Restated: on what evidence do you suggest that this is the best of all possible worlds?

  75. Clark says:

    @Docraulgun

    Every generation days "The System is unredeemable" but somehow society goes on.

    There's no contradiction here.

    E.g. the Roman Empire was (a) evil, (b) unredeemable, and (c) long-lived.

    Giving up and not bothering to try to change "the system" is the problem. Apathy kills.

    Uh…what?

    The system is unredeemable…but failing to try to redeem the system is a problem?

    I'm confused.

  76. Clark says:

    CJK Fossman

    @PiperTom

    there is likely to be hundreds or thousands of governments.

    Well here's the irony. You posted this comment using the World Wide Web, which is a child of the Internet, which was created by DARPA, which was a child of the hated federal gubbmint.

    So, please describe how one of your mini-governments will create the Internet.

    You're suggesting that in an era of Moore's Law, with both silicon and telecomunications getting cheaper by the month, if it hadn't been for one particular government program, no one would have ever thought to link various computers together?

    I find that suggestion laughably naive, and an example of the Great Man theory (I'd call it fallacy) of history.

    Note that was only one of dozens non-DARPA interconnection of networks. If DARPA hadn't jumped in front of the parade, the parade would have gone on with out it.

    Reading about the history of the internet is educational.

  77. Clark says:

    @CJK Fossman

    @Clark

    The Founders most certainly did not forsee a standing army of bureacrats.

    Why would they not? The framers of the constitution were educated men. Certainly they were familiar with, for example, the Byzantine and Roman empires, both of which employed huge standing armies of bureaucrats.

    My quote above, while correct, was in the context of responding to @Matthew, who said that the bureaucrats were a "feature not a bug", and cited 19th century patronage jobs. It was to this "feature!" argument I was responding.

    Yes, I admit that the Founders probably would have admitted the possibility of a parasite class of bureaucrats arising. On the other hand, the Founders also suggested that the Republic might not last, and that armed insurrection should be repeated at intervals.

  78. sinij says:

    If the current statist scumbags are included among the non-believers, I might even be willing to accept a tradeoff as bleak as the one you suggest.

    Why do you even ask me why, when your exact words clearly state intention.

    While, like you, I don't trust the government to have my best interest in mind, I trust irrational ideologues even less. Existing system might be slow to turn around when presented with clear evidence of something not functioning well, but it eventually does turn around. I am not convinced people of your ideology would ever turn around no matter how dire situation would get, based on my personal experience with Communism (growing up in the USSR), people building -isms rarely concerned with facts.

    You often raise good points about specific instances of government overreach, but your generalizations to "the system is beyond saving" are unwarranted.

    So keep up good work, but please keep system burning out of MY backyard. If the day arrives, I would also appreciate you speaking up on my behalf when libertarian thought police has my statist ass up against the wall.

  79. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Clark

    You're suggesting that in an era of Moore's Law, with both silicon and telecomunications getting cheaper by the month, if it hadn't been for one particular government program, no one would have ever thought to link various computers together?

    Sure, some private entities would have considered it, but given that there was no money in it, it wouldn't have happened in anything resembling the time frame in which the internet developed, and it wouldn't resemble the internet as we know it.

    In any event, if the invisible hand of the market was so readily capable of creating the internet (and I'm willing to be you think it would have done a better job), then why didn't it? Why wasn't there a private internet that provided a better alternative to the government-underwritten internet?

    I don't know–maybe anarchists wish we had a Disney internet and an AT&T internet and an IBM internet rather than one internet that works (for the time being) the same for everyone. Personally, I like the fact that the internet was designed the way it was designed, similarly to how I like the fact that the Interstate Highway system works the way it does.

  80. Clark says:

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    @Clark

    You're suggesting that in an era of Moore's Law, with both silicon
    and telecomunications getting cheaper by the month, if it hadn't
    been for one particular government program, no one would have ever
    thought to link various computers together?

    Sure, some private entities would have considered it, but given that there was no money in it

    But there was money in it. Note that AOL, Compuserve, etc.

    it wouldn't have happened in anything resembling the time frame in which the internet developed, and it wouldn't resemble the internet as we know it.

    I'm befuddled by your confidence in this.

    In any event, if the invisible hand of the market was so readily capable of creating the internet (and I'm willing to be you think it would have done a better job), then why didn't it?

    It did, several times. The one internet subsidized by the government ended up getting the attention and gave its name to the current worldwide noosphere, roughly zero percent of which is government run.

    This is like asking "if people are capable of developing roads with out the government, why don't they?" The answer is: they do! They did!

    The free market created the postal network, the telegraph network, the phone network, store-and-forward email networks, and more.

    Why wasn't there a private internet that provided a better alternative to the government-underwritten internet?

    It's hard to compete with free.

    I don't know–maybe anarchists wish we had a Disney internet and an AT&T internet and an IBM internet rather than one internet that works (for the time being) the same for everyone.

    But the current internet is a chain built entirely out of for-profit links and components. This drives me crazy about leftists: they think that anything the market does would necessarilly be nothing but walled gardens, paywalls, and blatant advertising.

    In fact, participants in the marketplace are human beings and know the kinds of experience that humans enjoy. It's hilarious that you list Disney in your dark and evil visions of a walled internet, because Disney was actually instrumental in removing paywalls in the amusement park world by getting rid of per-ride tickets and introducing flat rates.

    People running networks understand that the value of the network goes up with the square of the number of participants. Standards arise organically and promulgate better and faster than government could ever hope to achieve. Do fax machines interoperate because DARPA made them? Do stores cluster in malls to create convenient shopping for participants because DARPA made them?

    Personally, I like the fact that the internet was designed the way it was designed, similarly to how I like the fact that the Interstate Highway system works the way it does.

    You can lead a creationist to water but you can't make him drink.

  81. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Clark

    But there was money in it. Note that AOL, Compuserve, etc.

    Yes, there was eventually money in providing access to the internet, years after it had been created and the infrastructure developed. That is most definitely not the same thing as there being money in developing the internet.

    It did, several times.

    It's hard to compete with free.

    So private enterprise created a version of the internet, only it couldn't compete with the internet as we know it because it would have had to make a profit. I'm not sure this proves the point you think it proves.

    But the current internet is a chain built entirely out of for-profit links and components.

    Yes, it's a chain built on top of a (more or less) universal system. If you think AT&T and Disney and IBM and Microsoft would have made all their internets play nice with one another, then I'm afraid your worldview may be based on a larger degree of magical thinking than you're willing to admit.

    This drives me crazy about leftists: they think that anything the market does would necessarilly be nothing but walled gardens, paywalls, and blatant advertising.

    Not anything, and not nothing. But certainly more.

    This is like asking "if people are capable of developing roads with out the government, why don't they?" The answer is: they do! They did!

    Please do point out the private entity that created something resembling the Interstate Highway system. Thanks in advance.

    Disney was actually instrumental in removing paywalls in the amusement park world by getting rid of per-ride tickets and introducing flat rates.

    That's not removing a paywall, Clark, that's just using a slightly different pay structure. People still have to pay to ride Disney's rides, they just have to pay more at the gate in exchange for none per ride.

    The free market created the postal network, the telegraph network, the phone network, store-and-forward emailnetworks, and more.

    Of course, the fact that all these things' functionality was made possible by varyingly enormous amounts of public subsidy is neatly glossed over by those espousing a free market utopia.

  82. Anarchists need a reference site analogous to talkorigins.org.

  83. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    Please do point out the private entity that created something resembling the Interstate Highway system. Thanks in advance.

    I once saw something like this posted on a blog devoted to some flavor of goverment-cannot-do-anything-right political theory. Someone responded with two roads I'd never heard of and the Transcontinental Railroad. Subsequent posters clearly voiced that they thought that was adequate proof that government isn't necessary for the creation of such things.

    I looked up the two roads I hadn't heard of. Turns out they were both much shorter than you would expect for a response to the question, and they were built by state governments. Then I looked up the Transcontinental Railroad, and it turns out that bastion of private transportation was dreamed up by the US Congress and paid for with a truly enormous government giveaway.

    I was amused.

  84. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Clark

    Do fax machines interoperate because DARPA made them?

    I seem to remember a UN agency being pretty closely involved with that.

  85. By "something resembling the Interstate Highway system", do you mean something that subsidizes heavy trucks (and thus Walmart) at the expense of other vehicles?

  86. G. Filotto says:

    Clark, I think you forgot to add the required "Bazinga!" a la Sheldon from Big Bang