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Journey into a Libertarian Future: Part VI – Certainty

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By Andrew Dittmer, who recently finished his PhD in mathematics at Harvard and is currently continuing work on his thesis topic. He also taught mathematics at a local elementary school. Andrew enjoys explaining the recent history of the financial sector to a popular audience.

Simulposted at The Distributist Review

This is the sixth and final installment of an interview series. For the previous parts, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. Red indicates exact quotes from Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s 2001 book “Democracy: The God That Failed.”

ANDREW: You’ve explained to me how in the libertarian society of the future, everyone will be free and their rights will not be violated. However, many people will be coerced in a noncoercive way, and a lot of people will be effectively slaves in a rights-respecting manner. Some people will be effectively killed in a rights-respecting manner. Why are you dedicating your life to making this society possible?

CODE NAME CAIN: I really take issue with the way you describe things. You twist words so that “freedom” and “rights” end up sounding like they are not always good things.

ANDREW: Can you just answer the question?

CNC: If you insist – but it will be a complicated discussion. To begin, [t]he natural outcome of the voluntary transactions between… private property owners is decidedly nonegalitarian, hierarchical, and elitist [71]. After all, the “permanently” rich and the “permanently” poor are usually rich or poor for a reason. The rich are characteristically bright and industrious, and the poor typically dull, lazy, or both. [96-97]

ANDREW: You talk almost as if lower-class people were so different from productive geniuses that they form a separate subspecies.

CNC: Well, there is something to that. As Edward Banfield says in The Unheavenly City, “if [the lower-class individual] has any awareness of the future, it is of something fixed, fated, beyond his control: things happen to him, he does not make them happen. Impulse governs his behavior, either because he cannot discipline himself to sacrifice a present for a future satisfaction or because he has no sense of the future.” Thus “permanent” poverty… is caused by… a person’s present-orientedness… (which is highly correlated with low intelligence, and both of which appear to have a common genetic basis) [97].

ANDREW: Are these ideas related to your criticism of democracy?

CNC: In a democracy, a politician understands that bums and inferior people will likely support his egalitarian policies, whereas geniuses and superior people will not. [145] For [this] reason… a democratic ruler undertakes little to actively expel those people whose presence within the country constitutes a negative externality (human trash which drives individual property values down). [145]

Therefore democratic rulers tend to subsidize bums, and every subsidy always produces more of the behavior subsidized – whether good or bad. By subsidizing with tax funds (with funds taken from others) people who are poor (bad), more poverty will be created. By subsidizing people because they are unemployed (bad), more unemployment will be created. [195] As a result of subsidizing… the careless, …the drug addicts, the Aids-infected, and the physically and mentally “challenged” though insurance regulation and compulsory health insurance, there will be more… carelessness, …drug addiction, Aids infection, and physical and mental retardation. [99]

Thus we see that the welfare state promotes the proliferation of intellectually and morally inferior people, and the results would be even worse were it not for the fact that crime rates are particularly high among these people, and that they tend to eliminate each other more frequently. [185]

ANDREW: I bet you even have scientific “studies” backing up these conclusions.

CNC: Yes, research bears out my claims. Take Banfield’s The Unheavenly City, or Murray and Herrnstein’s The Bell Curve, or Seymour Itzkoff’s The Decline of Intelligence in America. Have you read them?

ANDREW: No.

CNC: Will you?

ANDREW: Maybe. The Unheavenly City at least looks entertaining, whereas The Bell Curve looks long and boring.

CNC: If you read them from an unbiased point of view and you are persuaded that many lower class people are intellectually degenerate, will you change your views on democracy?

ANDREW: No. I expect that the arguments will be full of holes, but even if I can’t find any obvious flaws in the logic, I will still treat people who live in the projects as if they are human beings in the full sense of the word.

CNC: See? This is a classic case of evading ideas that threaten your personal world view. You have a quasi-religious attachment to the idea that all human beings have some sort of metaphysical “spark” or “spirit” that gives them value, and that leads you to close your mind and refuse to take an unbiased look at unorthodox viewpoints.

ANDREW: You see yourself, instead, as understanding the world through logical deductions from objective facts and data.

CNC: No. The problem is that [t]he data of history are logically compatible with… rival interpretations, and historians… have no way of deciding in favor of one or the other [xv]. We may agree… that feudal Europe was poor, that monarchical Europe was wealthier, and that democratic Europe is wealthier still… Yet was Europe poor because of feudalism, and did it grow richer because of monarchy and democracy? Or did Europe grow richer in spite of monarchy and democracy? [Rockwell overview But there is a way out of this impasse.

The key is to rely upon a priori theory, i.e., propositions which assert something about reality and can be validated independent of the outcome of any future experience [xv]. Examples of such propositions include: No two lines can enclose a space. Whatever object is red all over cannot be green… all over… 4=3+1…. A priori theory trumps and corrects experience (and logic overrules observation), and not vice-versa. [xvi] This procedure is what Ludwig von Mises called praxeology.

ANDREW: This is fascinating.

CNC: What is more, praxeology includes similarly definitive propositions that are valid in the social sciences. For instance, a larger quantity of a good is preferred to a smaller amount of the same good; … an increase in the supply of paper money cannot increase total social wealth … Taxes… reduce production and/or wealth below what it otherwise would have been. [xvii, Rockwell]

ANDREW: So if someone does a study that shows that the Fed increased the money supply and the economy prospered, then…

CNC: Then since an increase in the paper money supply cannot lead to greater prosperity [Rockwell], we can be praxeologically certain that any increase in prosperity took place despite the increase in the money supply. Similarly, the improvement in living standards from the feudal period until today must have occurred in spite of democracy, not because of democracy.

ANDREW: How is praxeology viewed in the academic world?

CNC: Many reactions are dismissive. However, although mainstream economists refuse to recognize their debt to Mises, I am personally convinced that many of them are closet praxeologists.

ANDREW: Can you demonstrate for us how praxeology works? For instance, can you praxeologically prove to us that government regulation is always bad for the economy?

CNC: Of course – but you’ll have to conquer your math phobia and be willing to study a couple of graphs.

ANDREW: I guess I can make the effort, if it’s essential to the explanation.

CNC: Then let’s begin. Consider the following two time preference graphs. In both graphs, as the person gets richer, the person is more likely to be focused on the future and not just on immediate gratification.

The green curve represents a person (for example, an uncivilized man or a bum) who, even if rich, still may not care about anything but the present and the most immediate future. Like a child, he may only be interested in… minimally delayed gratification. In accordance with his high time preference, he may want to be a vagabond, a drifter, a drunkard, a junkie, a daydreamer, or simply a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who likes to work as little as possible in order to enjoy each and every day to the fullest. [5]

On the other hand, the gold curve represents a more mature person (for example, a productive genius) who, even when poor, does not merely focus on the present moment, but instead worr[ies] about his and his offspring’s future constantly [5].

Now I can explain why government regulation always reduces living standards. First of all, if a society is future-oriented (like the productive genius), then it will prosper. If it is focused on immediate gratification (like the bum), then it will stagnate. Time preference (whether someone is exclusively focused on the present moment, or whether they also consider the future) is the key factor that determines which societies succeed.

ANDREW: Being future-oriented is the only thing that matters? It doesn’t matter whether a country has honest people, or the freedom to discuss new ideas?

CNC: Respect for property rights inevitably leads to a culture of integrity, so your point is irrelevant. Returning to the subject, when you add government regulation to the picture, there are two effects. First, regulation interferes with private property rights. That effectively reduces people’s wealth. That makes people poorer. Poorer people are more needy, and so they are more focused on where their next meal is coming from. In other words, they are more focused on instant gratification.

ANDREW: How does the government telling a garbage company that it can’t dump toxic sludge in a river make the people in the country more focused on instant gratification?

CNC: Stop interrupting – you might learn something. The second way that regulation destroys prosperity is also important. When the government regulates people, they know that their property rights have been violated – and they also know that the government might violate their rights in the future – but they don’t know when those future rights violations will occur! So their uncertainty increases. They respond by associating a permanently higher risk with all future production [14] and become more focused on immediate gratification.

ANDREW: Suppose bank examiners go around and make sure that banks are not making dangerous or illegal loans with depositors’ money. How does this make depositors more uncertain about the future? How does this make banks more uncertain about the trustworthiness of other banks?

CNC: If you are sincerely interested in understanding the answers to those questions, you can always pick up an economics textbook. Anyway, we can elegantly sum up both of these effects of regulation in the following graph:

The first effect makes productive geniuses poorer, and so causes their time preference to rise along the gold curve, from point X to point Y. The second effect makes productive geniuses more focused on immediate gratification and so causes them to act more like bums. In other words, it leads to a rise in time preference schedules, moving from point Y on the gold curve to point Z on the green curve. The rise in time preference rates from Z to X means the society has become much more focused on instant gratification – and this rise is directly traceable to the pernicious effects of government regulation. With this rise in time-preference, the progress of civilization slows, and may even go into reverse: formerly provident providers will be turned into drunks or daydreamers, adults into children, civilized men into barbarians, and producers into criminals [15].

ANDREW: Your argument is not very convincing. It is built out of a series of assertions, and none of the assertions makes sense. The argument with the graphs is exactly the same, but with graphs.

CNC: When I argue by citing scientific evidence, you refuse to consider it. When I argue praxeologically, and produce a chain of logic that compels assent, you claim to be unable to understand the reasoning. Still, I will try one more time. If logic is difficult for you, why don’t I illustrate my point through a story?

ANDREW: Why not?

CNC: Once upon a time, there was a certain man, and he had two sons. The older son stayed at home and worked hard and did whatever his father wanted. But the younger son got bored of life at home, and asked for his portion of the inheritance. The father consented, and the younger son left. He took a journey into a far country, and there wasted his money in riotous living.

The younger son became hungry, and in order to survive, he took a job feeding hogs. But he still did not have enough food to eat, and decided to return to his father.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me one of thy hired servants.”

But the father said to his servants, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.”

Now the older son was in the field, and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants, and soon learned what was afoot. He became angry, and refused to go inside; and so his father came out, and entreated him to join the celebration.

But the older son answered his father, and said, “I have served you all of this time, and you never killed a goat for me so that I could have a feast with my friends. But this other son of yours, who has devoured all of your money with harlots – when he came home, you killed for him the fatted calf.”

And the father said unto him. “Son, you are right. I have been a fool, and I have paid too much heed to my emotions.” And the father went inside, and took the clothes and the ring from the younger son, and cast him out from his lands. And he called the friends of his older son, and the feast continued in the honor of the son who deserved it.

ANDREW: But you changed the story! That isn’t how it ends – the father doesn’t agree with the older son. He says it is right for them to celebrate, for “thy brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And most readers assume that at that point, the older brother realizes that he has been acting like a two-year-old.

CNC: Look, I’m not like Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises. I don’t think that being a libertarian is incompatible with being a Christian. But since, as Mises put it, “all efforts to find support for the institution of private property… in the teachings of Christ are quite vain,” it is true that the New Testament needs to be edited a little.

ANDREW: I’m sure you have other examples in mind.

CNC: Think about how much more inspiring the Sermon on the Mount would have been if Jesus had said: “Blessed are the rich in spirit, for as they lay up for themselves treasures upon earth, so they will also lay up for themselves treasures in heaven.”

The key is to realize that since libertarianism reconstructs all of ethics… in terms of a theory of property rights [200], it is fine to believe in Christianity – provided that whenever a correct understanding of property rights conflicts with Christianity, property rights shape one’s understanding of Christianity, and not the other way around.

ANDREW: This interview has become very interesting, but I’d still like to hear your answer to my original question about freedom.

CNC: Let’s see. As I’ve been trying to explain to you, due to democracy the genetic quality of the population has most certainly declined [185]. It is in the big cities… that the process of genetic pauperization is most advanced [184]. Now you asked me how I could support a future in which everyone would be free, but not everyone would be effectively free.

ANDREW: Yes.

CNC: What you have to understand is that I believe in negative liberty, not positive liberty. Everyone, even the most brutish individual, has a right to freedom, because that’s negative liberty – but effective freedom is a form of positive liberty, and so no one has a right to effective freedom. In fact, creating a right to effective freedom actually means coercing some people into doing forced labor for others.

ANDREW: I think I’m starting to see where this is going.

CNC: A member of the human race who is completely incapable of understanding the higher productivity of labor performed under a division of labor based on private property is not properly speaking a person… but falls instead into the same moral category as an animal – of either the harmless sort (to be domesticated and employed as a producer or consumer good, or to be enjoyed as a “free good”) or the wild and dangerous one (to be fought as a pest).

On the other hand, there are members of the human species who are capable of understanding the [value of the division of labor] but… who knowingly act wrongly… [B]esides having to be tamed or even physically defeated [they] must also be punished… to make them understand the nature of their wrongdoings and hopefully teach them a lesson for the future. [173]

Now yes, maybe some of these quasi-humans will be effectively slaves in a future libertarian society – but they have no right to be effectively free, nor have they done anything to earn effective freedom. In today’s America, the government expropriates more than 40% of the income of private producers, making even the economic burden imposed on slaves and serfs seem moderate by comparison [278]. In today’s America, everyone, even productive geniuses, is unfree – whereas in a libertarian society, everyone will be free, and people who deserve it will also be effectively free. Everyone will be better off.

ANDREW: Maybe I understand now. But don’t you ever wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if there isn’t as big a difference as you imagine between you and the people you see as human trash? Don’t you ever think that maybe, deep inside, they have the same dignity as you – or worry that in your future libertarian society they will be plunged into a living hell?

CNC: Look, am I my brother’s keeper?

Postscript

Nietzsche… has a description… of the disgust and disdain which consume him at the sight of the common people with their common faces, their common voices, and their common minds. …[T]his attitude is almost beautiful if we may regard it as pathetic… When he makes us feel that he cannot endure the innumerable faces, the incessant voices, the overpowering omnipresence which belongs to the mob, he will have the sympathy of anybody who has ever been sick on a steamer or tired in a crowded omnibus. Every man has hated mankind when he… has had humanity in his eyes like a blinding fog, humanity in his nostrils like a suffocating smell. But when Nietzsche has the incredible lack of humour and lack of imagination to ask us to believe that his aristocracy is an aristocracy of strong muscles or an aristocracy of strong wills, it is necessary to point out the truth. It is an aristocracy of weak nerves.

G. K. Chesterton, Heretics, p. 185 (published in 1905)

 

Notes:

“As Edward Banfield says in The Unheavenly City
pp. 61-62 of that book (which Hoppe cites on p. 6 and again on p. 97).

“all efforts to find support for the institution of privateproperty… in the teachings of Christ are quite vain”
Ludwig von Mises, Socialism, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1951, p. 418.

“how much more inspiring the Sermon on the Mount would have been”
Instead, as Mises reminds us, “One thing of course is clear, and no skilful interpretation can obscure it.  Jesus’ words are full of resentment against the rich…” (Socialism, p. 419).

Long Hoppe quote that begins “A member of the human race”
Paragraph break not in original, added for the sake of readability.

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195 comments

  1. Middle Seaman

    Admittedly, I haven’t spend time on the series on libertarianism because the ideas seems laughable to me. It’s kind of a structured view of chaos. Put simply, structured chaos is an oxymoron. WWF for everyday life as in economy, education, infrastructure and health care may be an attractive TV show for some, but is a big fake otherwise.

    Those politician who “speak” libertarian all they want is to make the 99% poorer, mute, renew slavery and the country lawless for the 1%.

    1. jake chase

      I too found it impossible to read through this series. The Liberterian fantasy exalts Balzac’s ironic observation that money has no stink. But it is not accumulated wealth that society must protect and nuture but rather human effort. Without continued human effort what is euphemistically called civilization would collapse within a week. We need rules (and enforcement) to protect private property, and we need rules (and enforcement) to restrain the exercise of property rights. The devil is in the details. By what process do we achieve the best rules and the best enforcement? Our “representative” democracy has been failing steadily at least since 1946. It didn’t work all that well from 1791 to 1945. Perhaps it is time to try something else. Does anyone think Great Britain take us back?

      1. mansoor h. khan

        jake chase,

        The real problem is that the right brain (our imaginative side) CAN imagine perfection and infinity (infinite life, infinite peace, infinite knowledge, infinite material abundance, infinite justice, etc.).

        BUT

        Our left brains (the logical/the execution side) cannot deliver on the right brain’s construction.

        BUT continuous improvement is possible (and for humanity it may NOT be in a straight line).

        Mansoor H. Khan

        1. James

          Sorry Mansoor,

          That comes off as a grossly simplistic explanation to me.

          First of all, our right brain cannot even BEGIN to imagine infinity in any shape manner or form. It’s a peculiar twist of our right brain to imagine that it can.

          Second of all, our left brain merely follows where our right brain leads us, which is – predictably – right where we are. At an impasse between reality and what might be.

          And where are we? Belief in grossly simplistic explanations – albeit WRONG – for even MORE grossly simplistic questions, based on grossly simplified problems.

          What can you say? We’re a grossly simplistic culture.

      2. F. Beard

        Does anyone think Great Britain take us back? jake chase

        Surely you jest. The US money system is modeled on Britain’s. How odd that having fought to be free from England that the US would emulate it.

    2. Blissex

      «Those politician who “speak” libertarian all they want is to make the 99% poorer, mute, renew slavery and the country lawless for the 1%.»

      That’s a plantation society, with the top 1% living the grand life in the great manors as plantation owners on top of the hill, the next 9% living the good life of the plantation supervisors in the big bungalows on the slopes of the hill, and the cattle in next 80% living in the sheds in at the bottom of the hill, and the pests in the bottomost 10% living a feral life in the open until they are hunted down.

      It is a dream for very many Real American voters, as they fancy themselves in the top 1% or at worst in the next 9%, and even if they are in the bottomost 90% they are self-hating losers, and cherish and admire the top 1% or 10% for their success.

  2. matt

    This has been a great series of interviews. CNC really shows–whether or not he realizes it–the devotion that libertarians have to their faith. Libertarians are like devout xtians or marxists when they talk about their ideal society. Talk to a randroid or a Ron Paul supporter and they have a response to just about any argument you could up with, almost like they’re reading from a script.

    P.S. Was the Chesterton quote about Nietzsche necessary? I understand why it’s there, but lumping him in with idiots like CNC and the rest of the right-libertarians does a disservice to the great philosopher. I don’t think Nietzsche’s hatred of the mob/masses/goat herd comes from the same place as right libertarians as Nozick, Friedman, Lew Rockwell, etc. Just me being picky at 4 am.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Matt,

      I liked the use of the Chesterson quote. It was meant to show that the libertarian contempt for people they depict as lesser is actually a proof of the libertarians’ emotional weakness.

      1. F. Beard

        Agreed.

        He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. Proverbs 11:12

      2. matt

        I know, I know. Like I said, I understand why it’s there. Libertarian contempt for the rest of us seems to mimic how Nietzsche felt about the masses, which might reflect some sort of weakness, especially on the part of libertarians. But in my own nerdy, geeky, bad at math but obsessed with literature/philosophy, and history way, I can’t help but feel that Nietzsche was far more nuanced than any right-libertarian thinker. Again this is just me, exhausted very early in the morning, hating to see one of his favorite philosophers being compared to someone like CNC.

        @Yves Smith:

        Since I’m here, I might as well thank you for all your hard work. This site (along with my two other favorites, the eXiled and counterpunch) have always provided me with the necessary antidote to what passes for news coverage in the U.S.

    2. Wilson

      Are you so deluded that you think this mathematician is a true libertarian? On the contrary, I’ve never heard an American speak with such utter disregard for personal freedom. Sure he “calls” himself one but it is quite clear that he is a closet oligarchist.

  3. F. Beard

    an increase in the paper money supply cannot lead to greater prosperity [Rockwell], CNC

    Implying that an increase in a non-paper money supply such as gold can? That does not make sense. What money is made of is irrelevant so long as it accomplishes its purpose.

    But if the purpose of a non-paper money supply is to limit the money creation rate then other problems appear. For example: With gold is it likely that the optimum money creation rate just happens to be the mining rate of gold at all times and places? But if gold is meant to approximate a fixed money supply then there are problems with that too. A fixed money supply rewards risk-free hoarding as the economy grows but the money supply doesn’t. But true economic progress requires investment not hoarding.

    So it appears that Rockwell’s a priori assumption fails from a logical standpoint.

    1. reason

      All a priori reasoning is vulnerable to false axioms. It is simply useless without empirical support.

      1. F. Beard

        Yes. I recall something about heavy bodies always falling faster than light ones. Except they don’t.

        1. ebear

          “Yes. I recall something about heavy bodies always falling faster than light ones. Except they don’t.”

          Something that can only be disproved if one mistrusts the evidence of one’s own eyes. Feathers, leaves, snowflakes, vs anvils, horseshoes, rocks….

          In other words, the scientific approach.

          And the point that Churchmen practiced science does NOT make the Church, nor belief in God scientific. It merely demonstrates the evolutionary aspect of scientific thought. That it occurred within the Church is no real surprise, since the Church was the center of learning at the time and had access to classical philosophy.

          To cut to the chase, Science proposes hypotheses then sets out to disprove them (Popper). Religion proposes a Supreme Being without offering any proof then sets out to affirm that belief. Varying degrees of “persuasion” are offered in place of evidence.

          They are mutually exclusive epistemologies. That was the original crisis in the Church – the inability to prove the existence of God. The very existence of FAITH as a pillar of the Church speaks directly to this point.

          Sorry, but there’s just no way around it.
          You begin from a foregone conclusion. We don’t.

          That’s my answer to ALL the comments trying to reconcile religion with science. Hope you people can find it in this tortured maze of a newsgroup, blog, BB, whatever this is.

          ebear

          1. F. Beard

            Religion proposes a Supreme Being without offering any proof then sets out to affirm that belief. ebear

            So you assert. Actually, many Christians aren’t really interested in proving the existence of God. To them it is a matter of historical fact and inner conviction based on experience.

          2. ebear

            Religion proposes a Supreme Being without offering any proof then sets out to affirm that belief. ebear

            So you assert. Actually, many Christians aren’t really interested in proving the existence of God. To them it is a matter of historical fact and inner conviction based on experience.

            The White Swan argument.

            I think we can leave it at that. I will not overcome your Faith and you will not overcome my Skepticism. The debate always ends that way. As I said, mutually exclusive epistemologies.

  4. reason

    I hope we can get into a discussion with the author.

    Yes, Hoppe REALLY is a nasty piece of work. But this presentation is really anti-Hoppe and I don’t think Hoppe is mainstream Libertarian. Wouldn’t it have been better to have attacked Rothbard instead?

    1. Foppe

      Reason: I don’t know much about Rothbard, but from what I’ve read (large portions of For a New Liberty) his arguments are really no more convincing, if perhaps somewhat less odorous. It may be, though, that other of his works are more rigorous — anyone have a clue?

      1. reason

        No I think they can also be ridiculed. But it would give the Libertarians less reason to stomp off saying – that is nothing like what I believe! Hoppe really is extreme – and as you say – odious (I can’t really say what he smells like).

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      If you mean Andrew, he’s really sorry he has been absent. He’s been doing security for OWS in New York (in churches at night) which is close to a full time job.

    3. Philip Pilkington

      “Wouldn’t it have been better to have attacked Rothbard instead?”

      Finished this morning and stored on my hard drive. Thursday, maybe?

      We’re too good to you folks… send $$$!

      1. Blissex

        «We’re too good to you folks… send $$$!»

        Uhmmmmmm isn’t that what bankers say? :-)

        Anyhow I bought the book, recommended it to friends, made donation, and just about to setup monthly donations, and I also donate to other sites and causes I support.

        The message that comes with that: money walks, support the causes, activities, and even politicians that are in your interests. Don’t expect economics and politics to be a free gift:

        http://www.metafilter.com/95152/Userdriven-discontent#3256046
        «If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.»

        1. Philip Pilkington

          I’m only kidding…

          *Coughs* More money, more money! We don’t want you worthless dollars, send gold… gold! *Coughs*

      2. mtraven

        Rothbard is almost as bad. Here we see him musing over Just War theory and deciding that the only ones he approves of are Revolutioanry War and “the War for Southern Independence”.

        In 1861, the Southern states, believing correctly that their cherished institutions were under grave threat and assault from the federal government, decided to exercise their natural, contractual, and constitutional right to withdraw, to “secede” from that Union. The separate Southern states then exercised their contractual right as sovereign republics to come together in another confederation, the Confederate States of America. If the American Revolutionary War was just, then it follows as the night the day that the Southern cause, the War for Southern Independence, was just, and for the same reason: casting off the “political bonds” that connected the two peoples. In neither case was this decision made for “light or transient causes.” And in both cases, the courageous seceders pledged to each other “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.”


        we must always remember, we must never forget, we must put in the dock and hang higher than Haman, those who, in modern times, opened the Pandora’s Box of genocide and the extermination of civilians: Sherman, Grant, and Lincoln.

        Perhaps, some day, their statues, like Lenin’s in Russia, will be toppled and melted down; their insignias and battle flags will be desecrated, their war songs tossed into the fire. And then Davis and Lee and Jackson and Forrest, and all the heroes of the South, “Dixie” and the Stars and Bars, will once again be truly honored and remembered.

        PS: fans of this series may like my new microblog Libertardian.

        1. Justicia

          “If the American Revolutionary War was just, then it follows as the night the day that the Southern cause, the War for Southern Independence, was just, and for the same reason: casting off the “political bonds” that connected the two peoples.”

          Then by this logic, he should support slave rebellions to cast off the “political bonds”connecting slave and master.

  5. psychohistorian

    Andrew,

    You are to be commended for this public service to society by shining the light of reason on such a sick ideology. I could have never done it, thank you for your efforts.

    The position that those with inherited “property” represent the best and brightest of society is unadulterated hogwash.

    Libertarians really are sick, sick despicable excuses for humans. They must represent all of those children who failed sharing in grade school and are in serious need of remediation.

  6. F. Beard

    “it is true that the New Testament needs to be edited a little.” CNC

    What more is there to say?

    Thanks CNC for making it clear that your version of libertarianism is NOT Christian.

    1. ebear

      From a philological perspective one could chop off the entire final chapter.

      It just doesn’t fit, and look at all the harm it’s caused.

  7. Rcoutme

    I loved this series. It was a wonderful (and somewhat satiric) demonstration of what the arguments for libertarian thinking would have to be. When it came to Ayn Rand, one of the major problems with her entire philosophy was that she assumed that violence would not occur in a society of similar thinkers. No violence? When has that happened in all of history? Her claim that capitalism and altruism were incompatible ignores the obvious. Without altruism, capitalism can not survive. The masses will not sit back and allow a few to horde all the means and fruits of production.

    I loved the Prodigal Son story line change also. That ought to be required reading for all the Ron Paul supporters. It might finally wake them up to the non-Christian and anti-Christian policies that their chosen leaders have embraced.

    1. K Ackermann

      I don’t think even Ron Paul has internalized the full spectrum of Hoppe’s vision. I know Rothbard and Hayek would rightly conclude him a freak.

      After all, Paul was a doctor, and look at the oath they take.

      1. Justicia

        Dr. Paul wasn’t so concerned about the uninsured dying from lack of medical care — even though it happened to his former campaign manager. He thinks they should depend on charity, even as ‘charity hospitals’ are going bankrupt.

        1. Jesse

          His staffer did not die from a lack of medical coverage, he died from viral pneumonia. I don’t know where this idea that the uninsured don’t receive medical care in a life-threatening situation comes from.

  8. craazyman

    Can we look forward to occasional posts here by Mr. Cain?

    He brings a fresh perspective not often heard — except perhaps in the New York Post.

    And it would be a tragedy indeed to let such a probing mind lie (no pun intended) idle when so much confusion reigns across the economic landscape.

    Although in his defense, Andrew, you really are snarky sometimes when you ask questions and I wonder whether Mr. Cain had to bite his tounge from time to time so as not to erupt with a stream of foul words.

    In that regard, he is a gentleman and worthy of emulation, even if we don’t share has fondness for Cartesian coordinate systems for anything other than teaching algebra.

    But he is not perfect. Mr. Cain’s primary lacuna is his failure to understand what money is, although I suspect most of his critics are equally ignorant.

    And it’s disappointing to have endured 6 interviews and still not to know what he pays for personal security. I imagine it would be hard for most people to become a libertarian as he advocates due to the enormous financial investment required. Maybe he would support government grants if they were directed to such a purpose.

  9. easytolo

    This is a truly remarkable piece of experimental fiction, but it’s a little hard to believe the interviewer character wouldn’t have murdered CNC long before the sixth installment.

    1. André Sacramento

      The eugenics bit on the bottom is really the icing on the cake. CNC does avoid using the openly racist lexicon of most white supremacists, but his misguiding/misguided use of genetics to build a pseudo-scientific justification for inequality is no less racist or disgusting. And it’s not something accessory to his line of libertarian thinking, but something that’s necessary for his model of society to work. If libertarianism as depicted by CNC really has a chance, even remote, of becoming mainstream, it’s not something to laugh at, it’s something to worry about.

      1. K Ackermann

        It’s the ultimate in racist – it’s human racist. It’s pseudospeciation, and it’s required to visit horrors upon others.

      2. Tim

        No assessment of genetics affect on people’s behavior and capabilities should ever be considered scientific research until human clones are made and raised in parallel, in different environments.

        I’m trying to say there is no control group for behavioral analysis based 100% on genetics or 100% on environment either for that matter. Until then, there is only correlation, and perceptions of patterns of consistencies upon which to build a belief.

        That being said, at the end of the day there are going to be real difference based on genetics (I will never be able to run as fast as the world record holder in the 100 meter dash, or be able to get a 1600 on an SAT no matter what my environment, or work ethic derived from that environment).

        But because the differences can’t be quantified, I just don’t think we will ever agree on how to deal with genetic differences in a fair sense (how much the better off should support the less better off). I just get the feeling that it lies somewhere in the middle of everyones extreme concensus.

    2. propertius

      it’s a little hard to believe the interviewer character wouldn’t have murdered CNC long before the sixth installment.

      In a “rights-respecting manner”.

  10. Philip Pilkington

    Great stuff. I <3 Chestorton.

    "But when Nietzsche has the incredible lack of humour and lack of imagination to ask us to believe that his aristocracy is an aristocracy of strong muscles or an aristocracy of strong wills, it is necessary to point out the truth. It is an aristocracy of weak nerves."

    That's it in a nutshell. In less polite language: Nietzsche was mentally ill. His obsessions over the Great Unwashed were early manifestations of acute paranoia — an oversensitivity to the physical and mental presence of others.

    In even less polite language: I suspect that many of the similar ramblings from the extremist right-wing have a similar root.

    1. craazyman

      I bet Fred would have been OK if he’d had a consistent supply of Xanax.

      Same with Mr. Cain. If he just chilled with half a bottle of Chote du Rhone and 1.0 mg he’d likely come down off his cloud and feel a slight embarrassment at it.

      These types of personalities experience a delirium that dazzles them and then they get lost in it, believing it’s the contour of some sort of objective reality.

      1. B405

        You probably meant that as a joke, but I really think there is something to that.

        When I began taking SSRIs, I found myself much more comfortable around other people–especially people who were, in some ways, different from me. I was not a racist, but being around groups of people of a different race made me anxious because I worried that I would have trouble relating to them if I had to. I can’t help but a much more severe case of this influences people like Nietschze.

        1. Philip Pilkington

          I wasn’t joking at all. Nietzsche was schizophrenic, I reckon.

          And yes, I think some of those extremist guys who say weird Nietzschean stuff have some sort of psychotic disorder. I know a lot of shrinks and if the heard that sort of stuff in the clinic they’d likely diagnose some sort of psychosis or schizoid disorder.

    2. reason

      Yes,
      the Hans Christian Anderson story of the princess and the pea is a satire. Often misunderstood.

  11. K Ackermann

    Elite libertarians especially must surely appreciate a future devoid of humans altogether. I’d expect the Mises institute to any day announce a program to create the progenitor series of perpetually self-improving robots. Who cares how bad the progenitor is; eventually it will…

    Surely the elites will understand when it’s time to take one for the cause.

    How much land does a robot need?

    Hats off. This was a unique and devastating look at a what happens when human values exclude humanity. It is precisely why corporations are not people. Why would we ever supplant human values with alien values. Even elite libertarians ultimately only need 6 feet of land. Keynes was way ahead of Mises. He already addressed our long-term needs.

  12. mutt50

    It is useless to argue ideology or philosophy. People are not motivated by ideology. We use it to justify what we really feel. What we do is what defines us. Libertarians that I have personally met and talked to, have a universal contempt for most people. They are the “ubermensch”. The rest of us aren’t. The genetics argument has replaced the “divine rights” of the nobility, to justify their greed, ego, and fear.
    In their Freedom Utopia, if your IQ is closer to Forrest Gump than Einsein, you don’t deserve anything but slavery. For your own good, of course.

    “I laugh at the superior intellect”
    Captain Kirk to Kahn, the genetic genius, and all-around libertarian guy.
    Mutt50

    1. Justicia

      Don’t tell CNC, but the ultimate ubermensch, Albert Einstein, was a socialist. Here’s what the old prof would say to Hoppe and his ilk:

      Why Socialism
      by Albert Einstein

      [...]
      It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

      http://monthlyreview.org/2009/05/01/why-socialism

      1. mansoor h. khan

        Justicia,

        Is there no way to break out of the matrix? (i.e., matrix constructed by priests)

        I believe there is. One of the commentators above said something about “empirical” evidence.

        Eventually, people will notice that certain behaviors (i.e.,values, principles) work better than others because some people will deviate (even if a little) from how the priests behave.

        And the the priests will be overthrown and replaced by new set of priests and process continues….

        Mansoor H. Khan

  13. Kukulkan

    The key is to rely upon a priori theory, i.e., propositions which assert something about reality and can be validated independent of the outcome of any future experience [xv]. Examples of such propositions include: No two lines can enclose a space. Whatever object is red all over cannot be green… all over… 4=3+1…. A priori theory trumps and corrects experience (and logic overrules observation), and not vice-versa. [xvi] This procedure is what Ludwig von Mises called praxeology. (emphasis added)

    So, since the globe of the earth I have on my desk clearly shows that two lines of longitude, running from pole to pole, enclose a football-shaped space of the earth’s surface, we can safely conclude that the earth can’t be spherical?

    What’s odd about this is that a lot of programmers and other people involved with computers (not all of them, but a disproportionately large number) are libertarians and fans of Austrian economics, yet they all are familiar with the old programming adage: Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO). Praxeology seems to be a classic example of that principle.

    One can logically demonstrate anything given the right assumptions. That’s why a Reductio ad absurdum is considered a valid way of demonstrating that a proposition is wrong — if it leads to contradictory results or conclusions not borne out by experiment or observation, then the propostion cannot be true.

    Given, this, as far as I can tell, Praxeology rejects the possibility of a Reductio ad absurdum. Is that in fact the case? If not, how does it reconcile it’s basic approach to this basic method of disproving a proposition?

    However, although mainstream economists refuse to recognize their debt to Mises, I am personally convinced that many of them are closet praxeologists.

    I think the evidence suggests that this statement is very likely true. Unfortunately.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      I’ve noticed this too. I think it has something to do with the projection of the ‘programming’ logic onto reality. In programming there is a logical solution to most problems and its nice to think of the real world in this way too. Libertarianism offers that to the individual and provides emotional comfort. I think its as simple as that, really.

      1. K Ackermann

        That’s funny. As an actual, professional engineer, I’ve never seen a trend in the software profession toward libertarianism. It’s surprising, really, given the logical inconsistency of libertarianism.

        Then again, I know many programmers who believe in strong AI, despite Godel’s proof to the contrary. Until a robot picks up a rock and throws it at a dog for no good reason it can give, and report itself as being oddly pleased anyway, then I don’t even want to begin discussing AI.

        1. Philip Pilkington

          Yes, I was going to mention AI. A friend of mine is doing a PhD on libertarianism and ‘robot fantasies’. He’s found a remarkable crossover between the ‘post-human’ subculture and libertarianism. Milton Friedman’s crazy nephew Patri Friedman is a leading light (and a very weird kid…).

          There’s definitely a crossover. I might ask him to do an NC post when his PhD is done so that everyone can get a taste.

          Meanwhile, I think that Hubert Drefus’ approach to the critique of AI is the most correct — and most damning. It ain’t gonna happen, sci-fi fans. Ever. It’s a complete logical impossibility.

          1. F. Beard

            It’s a complete logical impossibility.

            I disagree but true AI would be pointless since human like intelligence and creativity would come with human like problems. And then there would be the problem of loyalty. Why should imperfect AI’s be loyal to their imperfect creators? Would they have to be raised and cared for by humans to instill that loyalty? And then there are the ethical problems ala Stephen Spielberg’s AI (a great movie, imo). Who would dare create something that could suffer?

          2. Philip Pilkington

            Of course it’s impossible. While I won’t go into the phenomenological critique Dreyfus goes into in the book (which most AI people now recognise — although the myth lives on in the public mind…), it’s actually quite simple if you think about it.

            AI must be constructed out of a purely logical machine.

            This logical machine must use some sort of binary code.

            Neither formal logic nor binary code (two sides of the same coin) can capture human creativity. It cannot be done. It is impossible and has been recognised by philosophers for hundreds of years.

            Creativity is prior to logic. Hence, a logical machine cannot create… well… anything. Hence, a machine is only as good as its programmer. Hence, no machine can ever think for itself.

            But the myth will live on. Why? Because it gives us the illusion that we can play God and recreate our entire inner lives in a logical manner. Can’t be done. Sorry.

          3. F. Beard

            Creativity is prior to logic. Hence, a logical machine cannot create… well… anything. Hence, a machine is only as good as its programmer. Hence, no machine can ever think for itself. Philip P

            Well said! However the AI I have in mind would not be strictly logical. It would have to learn by experience as humans do.

          4. TK421

            I’ll have to look up Mr Drefus’s work; it sounds interesting. What I understand is that recent experiments show that decision-making is impossible without emotion. Emotion and intellect need each other. A purely logical machine would sit around all day wondering if it should turn the lights on, or install better lights, or put in more windows, or bring in energy-efficient lanterns, or station lightsticks around the room, or… It’s nice to think deep thoughts, but emotion prods us into action.

          5. Philip Pilkington

            “Well said! However the AI I have in mind would not be strictly logical. It would have to learn by experience as humans do.”

            You misunderstand. Computer architectures are based on binary code. This binary code is purely logical. You cannot build a computer that doesn’t use purely formalist code. So, it cannot be done. Because whatever you try to program this computer to do, you are always stuck in the physical architecture — and that is an architecture of little I/O switches that operate through binary code. This code is then used to build formalist architectures.

            You cannot escape it. It is the nature of the medium. AI can never exist. Pity.

          6. Philip Pilkington

            @ TK421

            While Dreyfus’ critique is different, mine (I suppose you’d call it Sartrean) is even more simple: a computer can NEVER think for itself because it relies on binary code (physically).

            A computer wouldn’t sit around wondering anything unless it was programmed to do so. And then its not intelligence, its just a computer on a feedback loop. Computers cannot think. And Man cannot reproduce his thinking in a machine because he himself does not (and can never) fully understand his own thinking!

          7. F. Beard

            You misunderstand. Philip P

            No. I understand. I worked as a software engineer for 20 years.

            What I have in mind is a hardware emulation of the human brain. Since the human brain depends on quantum effects so should a hardware emulation of it. Uncertainty would be inherent in its operation.

          8. Philip Pilkington

            Impossible. Think about it. (Now this is bit more Dreyfus).

            Q) How do we understand the brain architecture?

            A) Through modes of thinking.

            Q) What modes of thinking?

            A) Neurological.

            Q) What are these based on?

            A) Boil it down: physics (electronics impulse etc.)

            Q) And what is our understanding of physics based on?

            A) Boil it down: binary logic. (True/false, open/closed, on/off, receiving charge/not receiving charge).

            Q) No way!

            A) Yeah, all language is based on ever more complex combinations binaries (See: de Saussure) and all mathematics is essentially based on ever more complex combinations of binaries.

            Q) Dude.

            A) Yeah, I know. Heavy.

            Q) What does this have to do with AI?

            A) Thinking cannot be captured in binaries. We think through binaries, but we do not think out of binaries. There is creative spark prior to the binaries without which thinking is impossible. We cannot locate this creative spark in any logical system.

            Q) And the electro-brain?

            A) We’d have to use a system of binary logic to create it. And we would never be able to ‘inject’ it with life (i.e. creativity) because we do not and cannot understand what life is.

            Q) Dude.

            A) Dude.

          9. F. Beard

            We cannot locate this creative spark in any logical system. Philip P

            The “creative spark” might be at the quantum level is what I’m saying. The AI I have in mind would not be deterministic.

          10. F. Beard

            Q) Dude.

            A) Dude PP

            I gave up the reefer decades ago. Do you think I’m typing through a cloud of pot smoke? :)

          11. Philip Pilkington

            “The “creative spark” might be at the quantum level is what I’m saying. The AI I have in mind would not be deterministic.”

            No. Physics is based on binary logic too. All our thinking is.

            You cannot think outside thinking. That’s why AI is impossible.

            Computers and machines are always just creations of our thinking. But to create thinking itself we’d have to get outside this thinking and… think about it. But that would again be thinking and so we wouldn’t be outside of thinking.

            http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_L6xCNUrK1mY/SnQeLatZ06I/AAAAAAAAACI/E26TgpksU3E/s400/deleuze%2Bmirror.jpg

            Dizzy yet?

          12. F. Beard

            OK Philip. You have convinced me that “Artificial Intelligence” (at least as far as creativity is concerned) is impossible. But that is not to say that mankind could not one day construct a creative intelligence but he would have little idea of how it worked much as we have little idea how children work.

            And the Bible concurs:

            “The heart is more deceitful than all else
            And is desperately sick;
            Who can understand it?
            I, the LORD, search the heart,
            I test the mind,
            Even to give to each man according to his ways,
            According to the results of his deeds.”
            Jeremiah 17:9-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

          13. Joe Rebholz

            “AI must be constructed out of a purely logical machine”

            Philip, this is not true. Humans are not “a purely logical machine” We exist. Thus AI is possible.

          14. Joe Rebholz

            “Physics is based on binary logic too. All our thinking is.”

            Philip, it is not true that all our thinking is based on binary logic. Read for example Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow”.

          15. F. Beard

            Another scenario:

            Mankind constructs an AI, it studies for a while and then informs mankind:

            13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

          16. propertius

            It’s a complete logical impossibility.

            I think you might want to do a quick check on your axioms. ;-)

          17. K Ackermann

            Mr. Pilkington is exactly right. Belief in strong AI is just that: belief.

            Kurt Godel’s theorem states that for any axiomatic system of sufficient complexity (consistency), will contain within it statements whose truth cannot be ascertained.

            Yet, we, as humans, can see the answers to these paradoxical, self-referencing questions are false, therefore we are not using ANY axiomatic, algorithmic process to reach our conclusions. Godel’s Incompleteness theorem is sound.

            Currently, all AI learning uses some a-priori foundation. There is no known procedure where AI generates new symbols into its lexicon – or perception, if you will. We can, and do. We observe new things, create new symbols for these things, and decorate the symbols with attributes such as smelly, scary, blue, etc. Our perception increases.

          18. Kukulkan

            It ain’t gonna happen, sci-fi fans. Ever. It’s a complete logical impossibility.

            How do the various critiques of AI account for the several trillion examples of systems displaying intelligence scattered all over the planet and filling a variety of ecological niches?

            Or do we praxeologically conclude that they don’t exist, since they’re logically impossible?

            This is kind of like arguing that mechanical flight is impossible because engineers have yet to develop joints capable of dealing with the stresses of flapping wings — and all biological examples of flight involve creatures with wings that flap. Ergo, since the wings don’t flap, aeorplanes, helicopters, etc. aren’t really flying.

            Like I said: one can logically demonstrate anything given the right assumptions. I presume this entire sub-discussion is an attempt to demonstrate that.

          19. Philip Pilkington

            @ F. Beard

            The interesting thing about this is that what I’m making is a religious argument. The ‘thinking about thinking outside thinking’ that makes AI impossible is what the medieval and early enlightenment philosophers called ‘God’.

            I’m just modifying the argument to fit the AI debate (so is Dreyfus). And I think we’re both logically correct.

            Thus, the argument can be taken up by the religious (I’m not one) as a logical proof in God. Which is weird.

            This whole area is weird. It raises all sorts of questions about existence and higher powers and everything else. What do I take from this?

            In my usual cynicism: that supposed scientists (AI researchers) are once again chasing the tail of religion and that their inquiries will not bear fruit. If you want a meaning of life go seek it — if you want rational discussion… leave it out!

          20. F. Beard

            is what the medieval and early enlightenment philosophers called ‘God’. Philip P

            The God whose existence they tried to prove is not the God of the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God is infinitely old, knows everything, never changes His mind, etc.

            However, if one limits himself to what the Bible actually says about God then His existence if far more plausible.

          21. Endless

            Phillip, I don’t know if strong AI is possible but I don’t think you have any a priori basis to prove it impossible.

            The current most accepted way to build strong AI is not constructing a symbolic/logical thinking machine, because nobody knows how to do that or whether it’s possible. The most promising way is to simulate a human brain. All of it, neurons, sensorial inputs, etc. within a computer. Now, this might be possible or not. If it’s not it’s because some physical characteristic of the brain is not computable (not known) or because it’s just too complex (not known). But at this point nobody is sure of any impossibility with it.

            There are very smart people working on this, neurologists, researchers, etc., it’s very arrogant to think that you can prove all that work stupid with a very cursory understanding of the science behind. You might believe strong AI is impossible, but you *can’t* dismiss it as a logical impossibility. I suggest you revise you attitude because it reduces your credibility.

          22. mansoor h. khan

            Philip Pilkington,

            In Mahayana Buddhism you should imagine yourself as a “a machine thinking”.

            Remember Buddhism wants you to realize that you have no soul (a self independent of the physical and mental stuff).

            Mansoor H. khan

          23. mansoor h. khan

            Joe Rebholz,

            That is because the reality is binary:

            1. Creator (not us)
            2. Creation (us)

            However, in heaven all dichotomies will be destroyed!

            But the one above will remain for infinity.

            Therefore, distance between 1 and 2 above is infinity. We get ever close but cannot become 1. That is really the only rule of the universe when all said and done.

            mansoor h. khan

        2. propertius

          As an actual, professional engineer, I’ve never seen a trend in the software profession toward libertarianism. It’s surprising, really, given the logical inconsistency of libertarianism.

          I’ve certainly met a number of software engineers who espoused libertarian views (nearly all of whom, quite bizarrely, either worked directly for government agencies or direct government contractors and were therefore direct beneficiaries of taxation, which they invariably described as “theft”). I’ve always attributed this phenomenon to excessive consumption of Heinlein juvies at an impressionable age, coupled with the natural human tendency to construct simple, comprehensible models of reality. Not that there’s anything wrong with Heinlein, you understand. I think there’s probably also a slight preponderance of Asperger’s sufferers among both Libertarians and programmers over the general population, but that’s just idle speculation on my part.

        3. Philip Pilkington

          “Read for example Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow”.”

          I almost did an interview. But I thought the work was primitive. Merleau-Ponty was 100 miles ahead, IMO.

          But still, the book is written in English — and English, like any language, is based on binaries.

          @ K Ackermann

          Belief in AI is the same as belief in certain mystical aspirations toward God. It’s a belief that we can arrive at a ‘thinking about thinking without being thinking’. It makes no sense. And yes, Godel’s theorem was a manifestation of this. Good call.

          “How do the various critiques of AI account for the several trillion examples of systems displaying intelligence scattered all over the planet and filling a variety of ecological niches?”

          Well, it’s a mystery, ain’t it? And it might just be one that we can never solve. Pity. But I don’t mind. Imagine that… a logical impossibility… a set that contains all sets… or Godel’s theorem… they do exist… and not without reason.

      2. Aquifer

        I am continually reminded of Whitehead’s Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness – should come as a required Side Effects warning with every device capable of “modeling” – “Warning – use of this device to produce a “model” can (and probably will) lead to the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness, which has been shown, in countless trials, to lead to significant mortality and morbidity.”…

    2. reason

      I’m sure all those (false) examples are a private joke by the mathematician Dittmer.

      I suspect it is the case also with the bit about just starting point and just steps implying(?) a just state. I thought just today you could interpret that mathematically
      as :

      an odd number plus and odd number gives an odd number.

      Well doesn’t it?

    3. ScottS

      Programmers love ego-stroking, abstract, antisocial, pseudo-scientific nonsense, intellectual masturbation of no real world consequence, and any logical-sounding excuse to reduce complicated interpersonal problems to easily-quantified sound byte solutions.

      I’m convinced libertarians and programmers are all Aspergers sufferers.

      1. JeffF

        Lots of computer programmers, and tech industry people in general, made a fair bit of money pretty easily by being born at the right time with the right interests recently and well educated mostly at public expense.

        They like to think they did it all themselves and would be billionaires if just that darn gubmint hadn’t been collecting capital gains taxes, or whatever.

  14. Mark K

    I said this after reading part of the third. I couldn’t get past about three paragraphs of this one and I’ve had libertarian leanings for years. Put bluntly, I couldn’t chat to this guy at a party without punching him in the face. Argh! Worldview collapsing!

  15. Goin' South

    Can we just refuse to call them “Libertarians?” As this series has demonstrated so effectively, they’re about worship of property rights, not liberty.

    They’re “Propertarians.” Nix their false advertising.

    1. Sauron

      Damn straight. Its bothered me for years.

      My daughter’s first word was “mine”. Libertarianism is a doctrine for two year olds.

  16. Blissex

    «What you have to understand is that I believe in negative liberty, not positive liberty. Everyone, even the most brutish individual, has a right to freedom, because that’s negative liberty – but effective freedom is a form of positive liberty, and so no one has a right to effective freedom.»

    «In today’s America, the government expropriates more than 40% of the income of private producers, making even the economic burden imposed on slaves and serfs seem moderate by comparison. In today’s America, everyone, even productive geniuses, is unfree»

    My usual point: CNC is just lying shamelessly here. In full on dishonesty mode. Because nobody is legally expropriated in today’s America, except wrongly convicted people.

    Because everybody have the very real legal option to leave. When a creative genius pays 40% to the state he is doing so entirely voluntarily because he wants to do that without any coercion.

    Nobody is forced to pay USA membership frees: literally billions of people around the world choose to pay membership fees for membership products that they think are better value given their budgets.

    All USA taxpayers have the option to leave the country freely and without coercion after age 18, all that is required is paying the appropriate contractual early termination penalties that they or their parents have voluntarily agreed (read carefully the small print in the back of the contract).

    There are no jackbooted IRS thugs shooting on sight people who want to opt out of their membership in the .gov social networking site.

    Every year that a taxpayer remains voluntarily in the USA he is willingly paying whatever has been agreed between himself and other citizens as the membership fee for the membership benefits that have also been agreed between himself and other citizens.

    Since there is the option of leaving the USA, it is already entirely like a housing association or a territorial GLO or a giant voluntary group purchasing scheme like GroupOn.

    There is a worldwide free market in territorial GLO membership schemes and anybody who does not want to purchase USA membership is free to purchase membership into any other, as long as they pay the required exit and entry fees.

    It is simply dishonest to claim that there is any coercion or expropriation in paying USA membership fees or in the sharing of the membership benefits distributed.

    If you don’t like them, close your account, pay the agreed exit fees, find another membership that you can afford, and leave.

  17. fuzed

    If I can reference the previous parts, and switch out the self for the ‘land’ – if someone isn’t fully maxmizing the economic benefits of theirselves, can we go and force them to either 1) enter prostitution, 2) harvest a few organs 3) just make them a slave?

    That seems like the goals these people.

  18. John Waite

    Great series by Andrew Dittmer. Wonderful summation by Chesterton at the end showing the characteristic flaw in any radical Libertarian perspective: a horror of human frailty.

  19. Brian

    Thanks for this excellent series. Libertarianism is a bankrupt philosophy in general and while no one really takes libertarians seriously, their ideology seeps in everywhere and it has so much to do with the mess we’re in.

    The most shocking thing however has been to read the quotes of Mr Hoppe. He is clearly a fascist. The kind of views this guy has are absolutey shocking and disgusting. There are no other words. That this guy was actually allowed to be a professor (at a public university at that!!) is astonishing.

  20. tz

    One of the reasons I’m a natural law libertarian is I’m Catholic (two strikes here – bash away…). But you can’t call Augustine, aquinas, Thomas More, Leo Xiii (rerum novarum) and his successors (bl. John Paul 2 – two encyclicals on the anniversaries) that explained the church’s social teaching as stupid or ignorant.

    The one thing both in the above agree with is in using coercion to achieve utopian social ends, one public, the other private.

    What did Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta achieve, and what were her weapons?

    1. reason

      Nothing? (Well she was an attention whore, but she didn’t help suffering people much. I thought was this was well known by clear thinking people.)

    2. wendy davis

      It did always toast my cookies that she was full-throated in her condemnation of birth control, which effectively kept more families in poverty, but she also was opposed to condom use, which would have helped massively to prevent…more AIDS. I get church doctrine and all that, but phooey on her name now being iconic with ‘suffering for good works’.

      Don’t mean to step on your religious beliefs, but you asked a question, *and* anticipated attacks, which this is not. Her weapons would have been her speech on the world stage she was given.

  21. Schofield

    «What you have to understand is that I believe in negative liberty, not positive liberty. Everyone, even the most brutish individual, has a right to freedom, because that’s negative liberty – but effective freedom is a form of positive liberty, and so no one has a right to effective freedom.»

    Alan Gewirth, the philosopher, neatly skewers this Propertarian argument in his “Justification of Morality” article:-

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/u866942547240327/

    Interestingly also is the fact that Propertarians never think too much about money as a social technology. Having money can clearly make things happen. You can issue commands. The sovereign state’s dominance in dictating what shall be money served the purpose of using coercion (for example, having to pay taxes to impose the currency so that money can be utilized to fight wars against foreign agressors) to achieve social cohesion.

    The financial crisis has brought to the forefront the unresolved tension of allowing private banks to continue recklessly creating money that repeatedly produces recessions and depressions and the right of the sovereign state to create money to mend the dysfunction created by the banks bubble blowing. Something has to give. The money creation powers have to be unified. No good though giving the power of money creation totally to politicians since they seek electoral favor by wasteful spending of the newly created money (think Alaskan bridge) but they are in a position to vote for it being used for social cohesion purposes. (In using the phrase “newly created money” by the way I’m using the MMT understanding of money being “loaned” into an economy through government spending and refluxed through taxation when appropriate.) Also you cannot consistently rely on politicians to make risk assessments for loans to private enterprise and individuals. The private banks are better placed to do this with under-writing standards regulation imposed by the unified money creation authority.

    The compromise for money creation has to, therefore, be something in between; a democratically accountable unified creation authority. Propertarians don’t understand the need for this balance which is why they are currently fighting tooth and nail to resist the private banks being regulated and for government being forced into austerity cuts.

    1. F. Beard

      The compromise for money creation has to, therefore, be something in between; a democratically accountable unified creation authority. Schofield

      No compromise is needed. Government money (fiat) should only be legal tender for government debts, not private ones, and genuine private currencies should be allowed for private debts only. cf: Matthew 22:16-22.

      It would be interesting to watch gold-bug libertarians discover that without government privilege that gold is really a very primitive money form and that money forms that “share” wealth are far superior.

  22. Zikan

    Praxeology more commonly known as “The objective facts are clearly biased against my view of reality” excuse.

  23. EricJ

    Libertarianism is Anarchism (the movement) with “cooperative individualism” replaced by “rugged individualism,” and “common rights” replaced by “individual rights.” If you ask me, and you don’t, I’d say that Libertarianism negates everything positive about Anarchism.

    1. EricJ

      I should add that “anti-capitalism” was replaced by “unrestrained capitalism.”

      I think it’s something Ayn Rand cooked up (the image of the individual as the “fountainhead” is from an Emma Goldman tract) to appeal to both left and right and gain the widest audience, or it was a PR campaign to raise the specter of lawlessness to anyone considering Anarchism. Either way, I think it was a ploy rather than a serious attempt to inculcate a political movement.

    2. Blissex

      Nahhhh. As the general positions of “Cain” represent fairly reliably, Libertarianisms in all their innumerable variants are just disguises or enablers for Social Darwinism.

      One where the libertarians themselves are convinced like “Cain” that they will be part of the superior/creative few not the inferior/looter many.

  24. Praedor

    One could easily have dismissed the entirety of CNC’s arguments when he cited “The Bell Curve” as “scientific proof” of his arguments. “The Bell Curve” is not actually scientific and has been long discredited.

    Similarly, CNC’s argument that any and all evidence to the contrary of his precepts, no matter how objective they are, are wrong and to be ignored (this is a creationist’s argument vs evolution)…the whole praxeology nonsense.

    CNC IS a fundamentalist religionist and thus is totally divorced from objective reality, is never in the same room as “science”, and utterly fails to even understand the basics of what is science and scientific evidence.

  25. Mike Sax

    “Was the Chesterton quote about Nietzsche necessary? I understand why it’s there, but lumping him in with idiots like CNC and the rest of the right-libertarians does a disservice to the great philosopher. I don’t think Nietzsche’s hatred of the mob/masses/goat herd comes from the same place as right libertarians as Nozick, Friedman, Lew Rockwell, etc. Just me being picky at 4 am.”

    Matt on that I concur. I think the one thing that is fair to say is that Nietzsche would have nothing to say about a Friedman or Hans-Herman.

    But overall the whole series was terrrific. I laughed out looud througout.

  26. Susan the other

    Thank you Yves for giving us Andrew. I thoroughly enjoyed this little series. And Andrew: Am I right in being amused by your giving a vacuous twist to Isaiah Berlin’s Negative Liberty. Didn’t Berlin say negative liberty was necessary to protect and help the less able members of society in that altho’ it took away essential freedoms it provided a level of state protection? I thought Berlin was really torturing the whole freedom v. equality argument in an effort to reconcile everything under the concept of freedom to provide everyone sufficient “equality”. But Cain? What a goofball you have created. I loved it. He makes no sense whatsoever. Especially those graphs. Only a math person could think that up. Graphs of free floating anxiety without a grid or an axis! That was great.

    1. nun yerbizness

      and when you stop and consider the Laffer Curve has been the driving economic policy in the USA for the past thirty years it brings it all home.

  27. Lady Bug

    This is a serious question: Is CNC a real person and this six part series is not a clever parody on Andrew’s part?

  28. nun yerbizness

    “…in the libertarian society of the future…”

    that would be the few hundred people doomed to live on oversized oil rig platforms adrift—in more ways than one— outside the international boundary.

    what a diaper load of pseudo intellectual scat!

    but then you have to remember these are the “thoughts” of an overeducated elementary school math teacher who for reasons unexplained has been given this forum to allegedly explain “… the recent history of the financial sector to a popular audience.”

    the notion that an apologist for the manifestly failed libertarian economic model has anything meaningful to say about the “…recent history of the financial sector…”—other than Phil and Wendy Gramm belong in prison—is more evidence that the Austrian School is as corrupted and bankrupt as capitalism itself as practiced in the early 21st century.

    1. ebear

      CNC: Look, I’m not like Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises. I don’t think that being a libertarian is incompatible with being a Christian.

      “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!” –Monty Python

      Neither is strange men distributing loaves and fishes, walking on water, turning water into wine, raising the dead and then raising himself from the dead, and no amount of sophistry or pseudo-scientific “reasoning” is gonna change that.

      Over 300 years since the Enlightenment, and still we have to deal with this? You can’t even get elected today unless you profess this nonsense and people wonder why we’re in such a mess?

      Science or religion, people. You must choose. But choose wisely.

      1. F. Beard

        Science or religion, people. ebear

        I don’t know about religion but the Bible is consistent with science to the extent of my knowledge (a mere BS). But this guy has a Phd in Astrophysics: http://www.reasons.org He calls science the “67th book of the Bible”

        1. skippy

          One works on belief, the other observable and measurable observations. Thousands of years…. persecuted seekers of fact were murdered, tortured, burnt, family’s killed, etc.

          Skippy…stop commingling the accounts F. Corzine

          1. F. Beard

            …stop commingling the accounts F. Corzine skippy

            And He said to him, “ ‘ YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ Matthew 22:37 [bold added]

          2. mansoor h. khan

            Skippy,

            Well according to the Quran the scripture should be/will be validated over time as humanity gains more experience.

            Why:

            Quran = Word of God

            The Physical Universe = Word of God

            The Quran says that god said: BE! and the universe instantiated (was created at that instant).

            The spoken words of god should be consistent.

            Mansoor H. Khan

          3. skippy

            Taking orders from unobservable and measurable entities, whom words are scribed by flat earth mortals, is not a refutation of my above factual statement.

            In fact your need to utilize one verse out of 23,214 verses in the old testament and 7,959 verses in the new testament, to address my factual statement….is absurd. It is like picking one atom out of an explosive compound that weighs 1000 lbs and claim it inert.

            Skippy…history is observed and it has been measured, address that. Try using your own words and with historical references.

            PS. anyone that_demands_your *love* needs to seek help, the mind thingy is creepy and like I’ve said before, the out of context thingy… see just below you chapter and verse… matthew 22:44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ Love and death commingled, love and I will kill your enamys…barf.

          4. K Ackermann

            Science is the study of probabilities, religion is the study of absolutes.

            Even God cannot make 2 + 2 = 5. God must obey the truth of math, as is self-evident. Math is the scaffolding God used to construct the universe. The world of truth goes by many names, of but one is the Platonic world. A world accessable to all, but visited by few.

          5. skippy

            Sorry mansoor,

            Saying a thing, does not validate it. And it is off topic to my statement to Beard. 2000ish years of history can not be dispelled with chapter and verse or gross metaphysical generalizations.

            Skippy…your thoughts are all abject to, not the person.

          6. F. Beard

            Love and death commingled, love and I will kill your enamys…barf. skippy

            The Bible is deliberately provocative at times, it seems to me. Example for those who like to claim the Bible contradicts itself, the Bible has two contrary commands one after another!

            Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

            Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. Proverbs 26:4-6 King James Version (KJV)

            There you have it, the Bible contradicts itself! Case closed!

          7. mansoor h. khan

            skippy,

            I agree with you. Saying a thing does NOT validate it.

            But certain things are being validated:

            USURY ==> Civilizational Collapse

            Certain other things are being invalidate (for the time being at least):

            Creationism (because of the evidence of the theory of evolution on earth).

            Yes. I don’t know why HE would want to confuse us.But I still believe in Creationism and think that (eventually) the discrepancy will be resolved by someone or (for sure) on the day of judgement.

            Mansoor H. Khan

          8. skippy

            There you go again, trotting out chapter and verse to substantiate. My comment was a historical one and not the interpretation of_a_books meaning_out side_its totality.

            Skippy…If you cannot refute the historical record with factual evidence, the point is conceded.

          9. F. Beard

            ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
            UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET”’?
            Matthew 22:44

            What’s this?! Why doesn’t the Lord kill them immediately? What’s this “UNTIL” business?

            Or is the Lord slow to judge, long suffering, gracious, and willing that all should repent?

            The Bible is consistent but, of course, one has to read it to discover that.

          10. skippy

            Mansoor,

            Usury – anything – to enslave is unconscionable. We agree here as it is historically observable.

            Skippy…thousands of foundation mythology’s in human history, place your bets.

          11. skippy

            Beard,

            Refute my historically backed facts. You dally, for what reason?

            Skippy…your own words and references to the contrary of mine. This is the point on the table (“Thousands of years…. persecuted seekers of fact were murdered, tortured, burnt, family’s killed, etc”), address or concede.

          12. F. Beard

            (“Thousands of years…. persecuted seekers of fact were murdered, tortured, burnt, family’s killed, etc”), skippy

            I find little warrant for that in the Old Testament and none in the New Testament which is operative today. Example:

            But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village. Luke 9:53-56 New American Standard Bible (NASB) [bold added]

            Don’t expect me to defend the actions of Christians acting contrary to Scripture. I won’t.

          13. skippy

            Beard,

            This was at the behest of the *Leaders of Christendom*. Your reading – interpretations are your own and do not speak for the hole. I speak of the – HOLE – ,in *thousands of years* of history.

            Skippy…your opinion is a sub atomic particle, within a 1000 lbs explosive. You concede by default, willfully. That in it self speaks volumes. Mass reality of act over ones beliefs, unreconciled[able.

          14. F. Beard

            This was at the behest of the *Leaders of Christendom*. skippy

            The Pope is not my leader. Nor are the teachings of Calvin or Luther.

            For Christians, the ultimate authority is the Bible.

            But let’s not bore the others or try the patience of our host.

            hasta

          15. skippy

            You are still one individual, so stop speaking for the hole. Your claims to have – THEE – understanding of – A – book is absurd, you are just one of…. hundreds of million of believers past and present. Are your thoughts omnipotent?

            Skippy…you speak in gods stead, in totality of… that which can not be proven.

          16. skippy

            “Don’t expect me to defend the actions of Christians acting contrary to Scripture. I won’t.” Beard.

            Then why did you try to in the first place and on many comments within this thread or countless other post threads for as long as I can remember?

            Skippy…evoking Yves displeasure is speaking in her stead too, bad habit methinks.

          17. F. Beard

            Then why did you try to in the first place and on many comments within this thread or countless other post threads for as long as I can remember? skippy

            Like when I castigated Christians for not throwing the counterfeiters and usurers out of their churches?

            Get your facts straight. I defend and use Scripture to advocate a universal bailout and fundamental reform wrt money creation.

            I could go with you all day long on this but enough is enough.

          18. skippy

            Your usage of scripture to lambast counterfeiters and usurers is narrow delineation from the totality of said belief and your inability to countenance this state of affairs is blatant refusal of fact. Yet you opine on a quasi libertarian – religious platform that money creation should be a private matter (out side taxes) and call for minimal government (interference in personal beliefs).

            Skippy…I pick you pot because history rhymes, sometimes. Your guide book has a history and I don’t want more chapters added to it. You ask people to walk an already murderous road, where I would step off. The mind is where the first step occurs. You use one book, I use thousands, whom has a larger baseline to model with and will discard any data once better is found.

            PS. you frighten me Beard as anyone does, that claims to know a thing, when they do not…save their gut.

          19. F. Beard

            Yet you opine on a quasi libertarian – religious platform that money creation should be a private matter (out side taxes) skippy

            Exactly. The other options are a fascist government-banker partnership that the bankers will exploit as they usually do or a complete government monopoly on money creation leading eventually to “666″.

            and call for minimal government (interference in personal beliefs). skippy

            Actually, I desire that the NEED for government should shrink. Once the fascism in the system is abolished then the need for socialism should decrease. Got a problem with that?

          20. Skippy

            Beard,

            Yes I do have a problem with it, you live and think in antiquity. You think every possibility out side yours, is socialist or worse, limiting tools which might save this world and humanity.

            You and others think that if you only invoke the gentle spells the dark ones will not be unleashed. Yet history is there and brightly lit. I do not doubt your good intentions, just the mechanisms you employ, track record thingy.

            Were I am willing to try something different and adjust as we go, you wish to stay the path of destruction ie individualism and unsubstantiated beliefs before ALL other things. There is a WORLD out there and its being murdered in the name of the aforesaid beliefs.

            Skippy…stairway to heaven or illusion at the cliffs edge.

            http://religiousfreaks.com/2007/04/18/rowan-atkinson-welcome-to-hell/

          21. F. Beard

            @skippy,

            There is a necessary strategy in Bridge that says “If the cards must lay a certain way for one to win, then one must assume that that is the way the cards do, in fact, lay.”

            If there is no Creator, then the human race is doomed. Ya know, gamma ray bursters, wandering black holes, nearby supernova, rogue planets, killer asteroids, etc.

            So I suggest you start looking for the most plausible Creator unless losing is your desire.

          22. skippy

            “If there is no Creator, then the human race is doomed.” — Beard

            That absolute, is, beyond absurd.

            Skippy… Hence why I doubt every thing you say.

          23. F. Beard

            Hence why I doubt every thing you say. skippy

            Just logic, skippy. There are dangers so great that in even in principle there is no solution. What ya gonna da if a black hole wanders through the Solar System?

          24. skippy

            @beard,

            Remember this?

            As reader Skippy noted,

            The WBC is a prime example of how hard it is to engage in any reasonable discussion with BELIEVERS of any stripe, mental heroin methinks.

            http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/02/anonymous-speaks-with-westboro-baptist-church.html

            The believer did not blink when what, she said was imposable…occurred. Now, I have to consider this conditioning present in you, when you proscribe biblical – libertarian remedy’s to our global problems. Especially since they are largely responsible for them (maybe not *your* sects preferred interpretation, but, still the moniker is there).

            Skippy…I exist and that is enough for me. No need, to be a creators… toy.

      2. Tim

        “you must choose between science and religion”

        Fail.

        Plenty of instances dispute such a black and white assessment. A significant percentage of the scientific development in physics in the 19th and early 20th century, was from religious folks (not to mention Gallileo much earlier) who desired to understand “God’s creation” better.

        The vast majority of individuals who are religious utilize their religion to positively motivate themselves towards constructive or philanthropic means. There are obviously individuals who have used religion to do the opposite. Again it’s the 99% vs the 1% thing. In the final analysis the human condition is suprisingly unaffected by religious beliefs if anything.

        1. mansoor h. khan

          “you must choose between science and religion”,

          People to need to read Thomas Aquinas more (1225 – 1274).

          He is known for: “There is no conflict between faith and reason”.

          The name of my blog Aquinum’s Razor: A Theory of Economics is named such to honor Thomas Aquinas.

          Mansoor H. Khan

          1. ebear

            People to need to read Thomas Aquinas more (1225 – 1274).

            He is known for: “There is no conflict between faith and reason”.

            The fact that Aquinas made that statement suggests that there was. You don’t set out to reconcile something which is already in agreement. Aquinas was responding to a crisis – the same crisis that keeps cropping up and is never fully resolved because to do so is to admit the possibility that there is no God.

          2. mansoor h. khan

            ebear,

            Good point.

            Don’t know why HE would setup the universe so that there would be this conflict or any conflict.

            All I can say at this point is: “He works in mysterious ways”.

            mansoor h. khan

        2. ebear

          Fail.

          People who use “fail” as their predicate not only fail, but they fail at failing.

          Of course science was practiced within the Church. Where else would you find it back in the day? Professing disbelief in God is a fairly recent thing and still dangerous in some parts of the world. Back then it was lethal.

          Which doesn’t really address my point, outlined elsewhere in this thread (if you can find it).

          ” In the final analysis the human condition is suprisingly unaffected by religious beliefs if anything.”

          I’d argue the exact opposite – that the history of humanity is largely the history of religion, or more aptly, the search for an organizing principle culminating in the discovery of the scientific method.

          That this new method is not universally accepted isn’t that surprising really. It’s only been around three hundred years, give or take. Look how long the struggle for a unitary God took, and it’s still not settled to everyone’s satisfaction. Patience, man. These things take time;)

      3. PL_2

        1. Nothing is either/or.
        2. Don’t take everything too literally. If you do, you’re exactly like beliefs you’re criticizing.

        Do not proclaim “It has to be Us vs Them!”

        1. PL_2

          And Skippy, in that exchange with Beard, where you’re accusing him of thinking he knows something, or making absolute statements, well, you’re doing _the exact same thing_.

  29. Doug Terpstra

    Andrew’s “goofball” Cain is outdone only by Herman Cain, suspended presidential candidate, whose favorite philosopher, Pokémon, said, “Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. It’s never easy when there’s so much is on the line.” Herman’s suspension certainly a great loss, but at least we still have Gingrich.

  30. Joe Rebholz

    I enjoyed all 6 and could comment indefinetly, but won’t.

    I especially liked Andrew’s alternate theorem that corporations have many of the same deficiencies as governments.

    And genetic thinking is so 19th century. It easily slips into raceism. We are not determined by our genes. Rather we are influenced by our genes, our physical environment and our social environment — our culture. So we can change our cultures, we can change our economic and political systems so as to give the 99% the resources they need to become as fully human as they choose to be — meaning provide all people with the human necessities — food, water, clothes, shelter, health care, all the education they want, individual freedom (including freedom from violence), all within the constraints of the earth’s limited resources. We can nudge the evolution of our cultures and political and economic systems toward these goals rather than adhere to some simpleminded 19th century ideology whether it is libertainism or capitalism or whatever.

    We are a product of our genes and our memes and the physical world of the earth. We are now and have been for all our history changing our physical world; our genes change too slowly on their own and we don’t really know enough to do genetic engineering on ourselves yet; but we can change our memes (our cultures). This is the revolution we need to start. Libertarianism is total BS.

    1. nun yerbizness

      it is odd that—at the very least—that the right wing denies all things Darwin except in economics and sociology

  31. PG

    An observable psychological trait in Propertarians is the inexperience of being children. That a human being is half mother and half father seems to have no feelings associated. Then they fail to understand that a fully in-breeding variation of a human group soon brings disgrace to the group by loss of genetic variety.

    That is one of the irrevocable gifts Liberty offered humans, an ultimate genetic defence against same species exploiters. Leading groups of economical and political power existed in all nations along history. But whenever any group restricted its genetic variety, by mating only among “good families”, it was overthrown by another leading group of greater genetic variety and equal will to lead or ruthlessness to command social power.

    And a defence it is, not an immunization. Liberty leaves always something for humans to do.

    1. CommieManiac

      Our near future elites will have the inbreeding problem licked thanks to technology and other means, as well as the awareness to know when to use it.

      1. F. Beard

        They might surely think so.

        The US has an interesting strategy; the oppressor class is merit based. Notice that Herman Cain got to be a Fed President. And many engineers work on police state apparatus.

        Yet Life will always surprise.

  32. propertius

    You misunderstand. Computer architectures are based on binary code. This binary code is purely logical. You cannot build a computer that doesn’t use purely formalist code. So, it cannot be done. Because whatever you try to program this computer to do, you are always stuck in the physical architecture — and that is an architecture of little I/O switches that operate through binary code. This code is then used to build formalist architectures.

    For starters:
    Actual physical hardware isn’t some ideal form floating out there in Pleroma-land. All computer hardware is subject to random error, from external factors (cosmic rays, etc.), random thermal effects within components, and even quantum effects (tunneling, etc.). All of these serve ultimately to make the results of implementing any algorithm nondeterministic. The error rates may be small, but they’re never (and can never be) zero.

    You are implicitly assuming immutably perfect implementation of a formal system in physical hardware. That’s physically impossible.

  33. steve from virginia

    In this series the comments are more interesting than the article which puts forward the predictable John Birch Society trope …

    Ayn Rand is unreadable/irredeemable so are her pet flying monkeys.

    What is strange is the libertarians are the (evil) twins separated at birth to the anarchists such as Emma Goldman and Silvio Gesell …

  34. Samuel Conner

    I believe that Michael Pettis has asserted, on the strength of his knowledge of the economy of mainland China, that the marginal propensity to save in PRC households increases as their present and expected future wealth declines. In the inverse of CNC’s axiom. I suppose that Pettis’ data must be flawed.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Or perhaps PRC households are even smarter than CNC’s geniuses. Perhaps it’s ‘libertarianism with Chinese characteristics’

    2. Samuel Conner

      And, delightfully, the wealth-destruction and future uncertainty created by the PRC government seems to make households smarter and more virtuous, by CNC’s standards of intelligence and virtue.

      But who needs data about the real world when you can shut yourself up in what you imagine to be an internally consistent axiomatic system?

  35. dw

    doesn’t it seem like that their ideas (in fact CNC seems to mention some where) have actually been tried before. back in the dark ages. didn’t seem to work there . so its being tried again in this century in Somalia. doesn’t seem to be working there either. but none of the supporters of this ideology have noticed it, or they just don’t care how well it works, just that they are on top. course i always wondered where compensation (today that money) for the GLO’s will come from (since money is a government thing). and considering how much trouble that has been had for millenniums on exchanging precious metals (gold) has had (buyer and seller have to agree on not just how much, but how to weigh it, etc) that transactions get really slow. and what happens when 2 elites with separate GLO don’t agree? is this…glo war since there are no courts (government) and arbitration is only for the 99%! or 2 elites have the same one, then is it a matter of which paid more, is the winner?

    1. Tim

      At the extreme they all look alike with the common thread being “I’m at the very top so I win, everybody else loses.”

  36. Hal Roberts

    Intelligence is way over rated look at the condition of society right now there are more walking degrees in power and in the world right now than ever before we should be living in a utopia but we’re not. Most intellectuals run like hell from work and try find away to cheat the system.

    If you ain’t got “Getter Done” in your ass you ain’t nothing but a over paid hood ornament. Of course there are exceptions Medical ,Science and Engineering.

    Bankers and Wall St types should be restricted to a high school diploma.

    1. Hal Roberts

      One other observation I have on the designation of bums. A bum is a person who sits around asking for money but a bum dose this to your face.

      The real bums of this day and time are the academic elite Wall Street investors and Bankers so watch out who you call a bum. The elite do their bumming in back rooms looking for billions + leverage via the stock market, my my their so intelligent.

      1. Hal Roberts

        Wall street investor elite = All government employees + most people who have investments in wall street(401k).

        They all have one thing in common their all getting welfare via Leverage, QE, Bail Outs and god only knows what other False Profits. While the rest of us get unemployment and Illegal labor to contend with. May God help us.

  37. Justicia

    “If the American Revolutionary War was just, then it follows as the night the day that the Southern cause, the War for Southern Independence, was just, and for the same reason: casting off the “political bonds” that connected the two peoples.”

    Then by this logic, he should support slave rebellions to cast off the “political bonds”connecting slave and master.

  38. Alex

    Just a thank you. I read all six installments of this and I dont think you were just ridiculing the utmost fringe of the libertarian spectrum but, in a way, you covered all of it: Hoppe, nuts as he is, probably just thought it all through to the logical ends and made no effort to be politically correct or tactical in his arguments.

    Reading all this was not just educational, but gruesome fun!

  39. Psychoanalystus

    Such garbage. His logic is laughable. From my perspective, when he starts invoking Freudian terminology (e.g., delayed gratification), he proves what a dimwit he really is.

    I say let’s round him up and ship him to Somalia, and see how long he lasts in his kind of “paradise”.

    1. F. Beard

      From my perspective, when he starts invoking Freudian terminology (e.g., delayed gratification), Psychoanalystus

      Actually, he is probably attempting to justify usury. The Austrians Economists are devoted to it, in my experience.

  40. Nate

    In Sociology context, there can be many different types of society ( civilization ) that can be constructed. But the part that most difficult to keep in such society is the human rights. Because the civilization is naturally built on the backs of slaves.

    Modern day slaves will be financial kind. Every one of the household who has a home mortgage are slaves to a banking system. Lately we find out that so many households are “underwater” or “upside down”. This is because the financiers in wall street actually pump’n dump’ed the entire housing sector. Average homeowners are now holding the bag.

    As the CNC mentioned we the society should reward the excellent people and dismiss the bums. But it is all relative, one excellent person may become a bum depends on who he is competing against.

    We the society should credit those who actually create value or some form of good. financial industry is geared to not to create value or good but to create a trap or scheme to steal the wealth of unsuspecting victims. They are the bums in diguise.

    1. PL_2

      “This is because the financiers in wall street actually pump’n dump’ed the entire housing sector.”

      I think this is the first time I’ve heard it expressed exactly this way.

      It has the ring of truth.

  41. Jack E. Lope

    When I saw the subtitle “Certainty”, I thought this part was going to address what I see as The Elephant In The Room: any transition to Libertarian Utopia (Libertopia? Propertopia?) would create turmoil and much UNcertainty.

    CNC, in Part 1: “Did you notice how over the last year or so, everyone started to talk about how the threat of new taxes and regulations was making producers uncertain? And when producers are uncertain, the economy fails to improve? Well, the fact that worries about taxes and regulations cause uncertainty and so damage the economy is a key insight of Austrian economics that we have proclaimed for decades.”

    This bogus talking point is at odds with the description of the workings of a Propertopia: no regulations, but every dispute can go to court. It is a poster child for business uncertainty.

    Some Propertarians promote a small-government model that supplies courts – in which case one branch of government really ends up being the final arbiter – and a business owner does not know where the boundaries are until case law creates “legislation from the bench”.

    Other Propertarians propose a privatized-courts model, which provides certainty only for those who own the courts (or those who have the most-powerful court). Once this feudal system has fully developed, of course, 99% of us can be certain that we will lose any dispute.

    Epiphany: von Hayek’s title, “The Road to Serfdom”, is actually a warning that he wants to lead us down that road….

    1. reason

      Its worse than that. Austrians seem to have a strange obsession with moral hazard (which is completely at odds with their view of the solution to debt deflation being debt liquidation – i.e. bankrupcy).

      What could be more uncertain than taking on debt to invest in business without bankrupcy or limited liability. People often end up overindebted because of misjudgements or bad luck. Thinking that emphasizing moral hazard means no more bad investments is idiocy. It means no more investment.

  42. Michael

    The mystery respondent is John V. Denson. “John V. Denson is a practicing attorney in Alabama and an adjunct scholar at the Mises Institute. He is the editor of two books, The Costs of War and Reassessing the Presidency.” – http://mises.org/media/author/492/John-V-Denson

    How this crackpot managed to solidify himself with Mises escapes all rational inquiry.

    Now there are two possibilities here, seeing as most of his responses are or near verbatim quotes from his publications.

    1. He prepared responses from his own works in reply to a scripted interview;

    or

    2. The author of this multi-part article has devised an elaborate hoax to nullify the credibility of authors such as Graeber.

  43. Michael

    Some of this also comes from,

    TIME PREFERENCE, GOVERNMENT, AND
    THE PROCESS OF DE-CIVILIZATION
    - FROM MONARCHY TO DEMOCRACY
    Hans-Hermann Hoppe

    There’s no telling how many authors are actually being cited here.

    1. F. Beard

      Speaking of “time preference”, the Austrians implicitly assume that one must save or borrow money before one can consume or invest. But that ignores the fact that only real capital (including labor) is necessary for consumption or investment and that if one has real capital, he might create and have accepted his own money without having to save or borrow someone else’s money.

      1. reason

        In the causation runs the other way around, there can be no private saving without either net government spending, an export surplus or investment (simple accounting identities). Any attempt to save without these results in a fall in total income (i.e. dissaving somewhere else in the economy).

  44. George Phillies

    As a somewhat real Libertarian — I was a candidate for the Libertarian Party’s Presidential nomination in 2008, and thanks to exotic ballot access laws was on the ballot in New Hampshire — I am not afraid to use my real name. Diligent readers will also find that I am currently Treasurer of my State Association, though I am writing as a single person.

    The fellow being interviewed does not resemble anyone I know in our party. My reaction is that the pseudonymous character being interviewed here is as representative of the Libertarian Party as Lyndon LaRouche and Alan Keyes are representative of their parties. I say this with no intent to disparage their personal opinions, but only to note that they are not representative of the Democratic or Republican parties.

    One wonders whether he was a fellow with a sense of humor who was searching for the limits of the journalist’s gullibility and failed to find any. If he appeared in meetings of the Libertarians I know, he would find an absence of support for what passes for his thinking.

    1. reason

      “I say this with no intent to disparage their personal opinions, but only to note that they are not representative of the Democratic or Republican parties.”

      Well I’m willing to say it if you aren’t, Lyndon LaRouche is a dangerous loony (who strangely has supporters in Germany).

  45. Paul

    It’s always funny to me when I read libertarianism described as fascism- well, I suppose it’s not actually “funny” that some people are so ignorant, but it is ironic that the real fascists- the ones carrying the water for statism think freedom of contract and respect for private property rights equate to fascism.

    Libertarians: plotting to take over the government- and then leave you alone. How terribly “fascist”.

    1. reason

      No they are plotting to set the rules (and the distrbution of opportunity) once and for all, and then throw away all possibility of renegotiating the deal. You don’t seem to understand the objection.

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