[Exi-la] Re: on Geoethical Nanotechnology

Perry E. Metzger perry at piermont.com
Sun Jul 10 18:58:57 UTC 2005

Natasha Vita-More <natasha at natasha.cc> writes:
>>Perry and I therefore prefer to rely on *non*political approaches.
>>They require more imagination sometimes, but on the other hand they
>>cause fewer deaths.  So we are disappointed to see Max now apparently
>>willing to resort to the "easy" road of control by threat of violence.
> Are you stating that libertarianism is "non" political?

Unfortunately, we lack the right words in our language. However, Anton
is more or less saying that, and he's right.

Science is not based on faith, and is therefore (to the scientist)
distinct from religion. However, to a religious person, I suppose that
science could be thought of as just another sort of religion.

Libertarianism is not based on the idea of using political processes
to effect change in society. As such, it is distinct from other
"political" viewpoints in that it is, in fact, a non-political
viewpoint -- it is the viewpoint that politics (taken narrowly as
decision making via coercively enforced decisions) is in itself the
problem. The libertarian "unasks" the question of what political means
to use -- he consistently chooses non-political means. However, I
suppose to someone who doesn't understand, libertarianism just looks
like some sort of half-assed random collection of ideas and is no
different from any other "political" viewpoint.

> Please be careful not to make assumption about what Max does and does
> not think without speaking directly to him.

I know that at one time, Max happily called himself an
anarchocapitalist. I also know that, at one time, the extropian
view was an explicitly anarchocapitalist viewpoint. I can quote from
early copies of "Extropy" magazine if you wish.

I also know that Max now denies in public that Extropianism ever had
anything to do with libertarianism, let alone anarchocapitalism (a
counterfactual statement), and that you and Max happily hang out with
folks who favor coercive means. See, for example, the "Geoethical
nanotechnology" conference, and its interest in "global regulatory"
mechanisms to "manage" nanotechnology.

Beyond that, of course, I know very little, but it *seems* as though
he would no longer think of himself as a libertarian.

> Yes, I would like to see libertarianism as an ethical theory rather
> than a political theory, but unfortunately it is most widely known as
> a political stance or position.  Like most political position it falls
> short because it is dogmatized in a stance that is unwilling to
> negotiate.

So many things in life are so terribly dogmatic. "I would very much
like for there to be a God that created me, rather than random
mutations mediated by natural selection. How horrible, then, of the
biologists to insist that evolution is a fact, and to fail to
compromise with me!"

> Resolving conflicts and developing procedures for creating workable
> solutions is about negotiation.

There is no negotiation here. If you claim a regulation will help
mankind, it is either true or false -- it is not subject to decision
by negotiation. It is not some sort of aesthetic decision. It is not
amenable to compromise any more than the laws of physics are amenable
to compromise.

Perhaps you claim that, dogmatically, we refuse to work with and
mollify the people in power so that they will not crush us, poor weak
stepchildren that we are, and so in fear of the boot coming down. If
only we would talk with the "powerful" we would be so much safer!
If so, I think there is substantial evidence that you are wrong.

Either way, I don't see what needs "negotiating" here.

Perry E. Metzger		perry at piermont.com

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