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  • in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21273

    Hi Joe, of course I remember you, we spoke a few times last year at your LD meeting. In any case, it’s nice to run into you here as well! 🙂

    in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21270

    Thank you, I have listened to several of them, and they are quite interesting.

    in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21268

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    I am not sure why I should be disappointed in any of this. 🙂

    Good discussion, thanks again for your feedback!

    in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21266

    I am looking forward to any thoughts you have!

    I feel I need to emphasize that all these undesirable effects, and the State itself, all originate from simple, straightforward economic motivations.

    Libertarians have a tendency to put forward solutions that are ineffective against such fundamental and intrinsic forces.

    For example, “education is the answer”. “If only people really understood”.

    Or another example, “dispel the illusion”: “If only people would just withdraw their consent”.

    These solutions are ineffective against the much more fundamental and powerful economic motivations that create the undesirable affects and the vicious cycles that amplify them.

    I have a hunch why such solutions are commonly put forward by libertarians. On Tom Wood’s private Facebook group, I recently conducted a poll asking everyone their Myers-Briggs personality type.

    The results were not surprising. Basically, the INTJ personality type occurred more often than all the other personality types combined. And almost all of the remaining entries were some variation of the NT personality type. This is striking, because INTJs comprise only about 1% of the general population, and NTs overall less than 13%. The personality demographic of libertarians is OVERWHELMINGLY skewed toward this type, as compared to the general population.

    There are four core Myers-Briggs types:
    NT – tend to organize their life around internal mental models of reality / ideological frameworks, and assume it is natural for everyone else to do the same thing. INTJs in particular tend to take this to an extreme level.
    NF – tend to be guided much more by personal empathy and intuition
    SJ – tend to be guided more by duty and responsibility
    SP – tend to be guided more by social intuition

    SJs and SPs combined comprise about 75% of the general population,

    NFs tend to regard NTs as brilliant engimas, while SJs and SPs tend to regard NTs as somewhat naive idealists.

    These dynamics lead to misunderstanding and conflict, based on unrealistic and uncharitable assessments of other peoples’ thinking and behavior.

    When NTs observe that other people are NOT guided by an internal mental framework, they have an unfortunate tendency to conclude that those people are stupid or evil. (Is it any wonder that libertarians are seen as condescending and unrealistic at best, dangerous ideologues at worst?)

    My proposal is to find solutions that get to the root cause of the vicious cycles — namely, solutions that leverage economic motivations — and try to focus individual and political action in that direction. Educational efforts can be a strong support here, but are not enough on their own to create the sustained behavioral changes that will break the vicious cycles.

    For example, I have always been thrilled that Tom does so many “bonus episodes” on entrepreneurship. This strikes at the heart of the attitude of subservience inherent in the “money for work” employment paradigm. There are many other types of efforts along these lines that could bring great results, and could also broaden the personality base of the movement.

    in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21264

    You can see the full diagram here.

    Basically it describes the ultimate causes as economic, arising from the natural desire to specialize and delegate. As soon as someone starts freely delegating defense services to someone else, the chain of events is set in motion that leads ultimately to the State.

    Also, in your last post, you mention several undesirable effects associated with the establishment of the State:

      Herd instinct
      Yearning for paternal authority
      Tendency to gang up under a leader
      Fear of liberty
      Fear of responsibility
      Irksomeness of responsibility
      Desire for self-transcendence (misdirected)
      Human cascade
      Habit of obedience
      Ideological supports
      Culture of subservience (“born as serfs”)
      Consent to servitude

    I believe all of these have economic considerations at their root. Here is a diagram illustrating it.

    You can see the full image here.

    In other words, all these undesirable effects, and the State itself, all originate from simple, straightforward economic motivations.

    in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21262

    Here is the complete graphic. Still needs some work…

    To see the whole image in detail, you might need to right-click on it and choose “open image in new window”.

    Also, a “precondition” is simply a pertinent fact that relates to the chain of logic. At least, I *think* these are facts. 🙂


    in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21261

    Thank you, Gerard, this is very helpful. You have such a depth of the historical knowledge here, your feedback on my rambling thoughts is greatly appreciated! It’s prompted me to go read Aristotle and Rothbard and a bunch of other things. But I should probably just buy your new book! ?

    I suppose my overarching idea, in these last few threads, is basically this: we are already free.

    Free to think, free to act, free to choose. All of us. Regardless of the political system under which we live. There is always something free at the core of who we are as human beings.

    “Prosthetics” is a short story by Evgeny Zamyatin from the early Soviet period. As the prisoners were ushered into the gulag, they had to remove and register their prosthetic devices. These were early days, following WW1 and the Revolution, so most prisoners had one kind of prosthetic or another.

    But one of the prisoners had no prosthetics. He was chuckling the whole time. Finally his turn came: “What, I don’t have any prosthetics?! But I still have a soul. Do you want to take my soul?! I must apologize, you cannot have my soul!!”

    What’s the point?

    Even in the gulag, you are still free, if you choose to be free.

    Life will always present us with constraints of one kind or another. In fact, we cannot avoid them. Many of us have severe physical constraints. Many of us are constrained by the political or cultural or economic environment in which we find ourselves.

    But we are still free. Free to think. Free to respond. In fact, this is the only kind of freedom we really ever have: to choose how to respond to the situation in which we find ourselves. Even if they take away our life.

    And… what’s my point?

    Even though we are free, we have the State.

    It’s a universal phenomenon.

    This must mean there is some vicious cycle that brings it into being and causes it to perpetuate and metastasize as it grows. And at the heart of that vicious cycle, there must be some intractable conflict that causes it to persist, despite the best efforts of well-intentioned people over hundreds (thousands?) of years to preserve and protect basic human freedom and dignity.

    I came up with a tree of cause-and-effect that shows (or tries to show) that all it requires is a very few people to make the kind of foolish decisions we’ve been discussing — and it starts the avalanche rolling down the hill. And really, the reasons behind it are economic. People may be acting shortsightedly but not entirely without reason.

    The arrows represent cause and effect. A -> B means “If A, then B”. Read from bottom to top.

    I have a much more detailed version — this leaves out several steps in the logic but hopefully is detailed enough to get the idea.

    in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21259

    I ran across this succinct definition of the State by Murray Rothbard:

    I define the state as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as “taxation”; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area. An institution not possessing either of these properties is not and cannot be, in accordance with my definition, a state.

    It seems a Homeowners Association established by some kind of perpetual contract (such as a restrictive covenant) that includes some means to collect revenue to pay for common expenses, which also includes the provision of a private contracted security force, could easily meet these criteria.

    Is there a qualitative difference between such an HOA and a State?

    It would seem that an anarchist society would need to avoid certain kinds of contracts to avoid gradually taking on the characteristics of a State. And these HOA contracts would fall into that category. What other kinds of things would need to be avoided?

    in reply to: How we come to own ourselves #21238

    It’s precisely in the gray areas where a political/economic philosophy needs to be most robust. Otherwise it will prove inadequate to handle everyday life. It’s in the border cases that all the conflicts arise. If our philosophy can’t give strong guidance and best practice on how to resolve such conflicts while preserving the NAP, but instead must appeal to common practice and belief, then it has little practical value as a political philosophy.

    “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” When your plan meets the real world, the real world wins.

    in reply to: The rights of parents #21244

    Prayers for you and your family, Gerard.

    This topic is related to our other thread –

    And here you give a very clear example that the ultimate resolution to such quandaries lies in “taking our chances in a libertarian court”. At least, it appears that would be the final arbiter here.


    If (1) the NAP is logically derived from the idea of self-ownership,

    and (2) self-ownership is ultimately defined by the judgement of society and not by the self (for all practical purposes, at least),

    then (3) the foundation of libertarian society is the society’s customs and norms that inform the determination of self-ownership.

    That just doesn’t seem satisfactory to me. There must be another way to look at this.

    in reply to: How we come to own ourselves #21236

    I’ve been stewing for a good long while on this thread. (1.5 years?! LOL)

    Gerard wrote:

    the foundation concept of anarcho-capitalism is the NAP

    It seems to me that the idea of self-ownership is even more foundational than the NAP.

    In fact, the NAP derives logically from the concept of self-ownership. Is this not correct?

    And this is why the determination of self-ownership is so critical.

    With all these edge cases (discussed above), the problem is whether or not someone really has self-ownership — and who can make such a determination.

    Thus, the means by which we determine self-ownership is even more fundamental than the NAP.

    But in all the above discussion, the only practical means were basically leaving the question to the community, following its customs and norms. That seems entirely inadequate.

    And it doesn’t help to say the foundation is still the NAP. That is circular reasoning, as I have just illustrated.

    To have a consistent logical foundation here, the individual himself or herself must always unilaterally have self-ownership, and does not require anyone else’s permission or consent to assert this. However, this leads to many obvious conundrums described in the thread above.

    in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21258

    Yes, my main point was that the US Constitution was used deceptively as a force to nationalize the several states (as described in Tom’s latest podcast on Hamilton –

    The techniques for accomplishing this were sometimes planted in the Constitution deliberately, and sometimes read into the Constitution after the fact.

    It seems obvious to me that these techniques could also be used (and frequently are used) (whether in good faith or not) to interpret contractual agreements.

    The unavoidable outcome is that a society based on contracts will be dominated by whoever is most adept at interpreting contracts in such a way as to achieve their own objectives, and adept at persuading arbitrators to agree to such interpretations, regardless of the original intent of the signatories to the contract.

    This would not seem to be the intended outcome of those who advocate for an anarcho-capitalist society.

    Regarding restrictive covenants – in the podcast ( they go into quite some detail on
    – the real needs motivating people to create zoning laws
    – that these needs are legitimate
    – that there are many similar needs; and
    – the advantage of the restrictive covenant is a private means of achieving these ends without the need of a State.

    A simple example of other similar needs is an apartment building where apartments under private ownership but other things (such as roofs, outside grounds, and so on) are held in common and must be regulated by some kind of corporate agreement.

    In the podcast, they also discuss the various practical means of modifying and adjusting these restrictive covenants without necessarily requiring 100% consensus — such as the establishment of a “majority vote”, or the formation of a Governing Board for a Homeowner’s Association, with CC&Rs that govern how decisions are to be made.

    My point is that an ostensibly Stateless society comprising a network of such property arrangements would seem to have many characteristics of a State. In fact I am having a hard time identifying what makes it qualitatively different from a State.

    So I’m hoping someone can either (1) show me the mistake in my reasoning, or (2) show me any other arrangements based on the NAP that would achieve the desired ends without causing the undesirable State-like side effects.

    Thanks very much!


    in reply to: Contracts have same problems as Constitutions? #21256

    The consent issue wasn’t really my primary consideration, but it does seem important.

    Restrictive covenants are the only mechanism with which I am familiar for making collective decisions about property usage (e.g., zoning, Homeowners Associations, apartment complexes with common areas, etc.) in an anarcho-capitalist society.

    In such a society, I imagine that over time, most properties would have some kind of restrictive covenants attached to them, except maybe in undeveloped areas.

    In such a society, if you accept title to a property — or accept a rental agreement — or in general, if you accept the terms of usage of any given property — then you are giving consent to the restrictive covenants associated with those properties. Even if you didn’t read the contractual details, you are still giving implied consent.

    So if you are born into a developed area and either own property or use property in that area, you are giving consent (explicit or implied) to all the restrictive covenants involved in those properties.

    Is this correct?

    in reply to: How we come to own ourselves #20434

    Hi Mike,

    << This is a popular Venn Diagram, and a good starting point I feel, for the breakdown of different political concepts as discussed above:” >>

    Nice diagram, thanks!

    It seems that Voluntarism is equivalent to Anarcho-Capitalism?

    << Look into these classifications as a base line. Then your question exists in several different shades of Libertarian thought, and even beyond.>>

    I don’t think there are really so many shades. Either the answer is trivially easy to answer (assuming Minarchism or worse, wherein a community can simply decide on an arbitrary “age of responsibility”) or intractable, such as with Voluntarism.

    in reply to: How we come to own ourselves #20430

    Michael Tabone wrote:
    << I am not conceding anything to a social contract. I stated originally that I am coming from a minarchist perspective, which is still a Statists perspective. >>

    Good point. 🙂

    If we agree we need some kind of minarchist state, then the set of fundamental questions change — self-ownership isn’t the big fundamental question anymore.

    The questions shift to things like preventing a small, local, limited state from morphing into a large, national, powerful state — and you’ve already referred me to one of Rothbard’s books for that topic. So I suppose I’ll have to go read that, before I’ll be able to carry on a meaningful discussion here. 🙂

    Thanks again! I really appreciate the dialog.


Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)