[ExI] the formerly rich and their larvae...

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Sat Feb 16 01:52:14 UTC 2008

Warning: The following post suffers from loquacity and opacity. Waste
time at your own risk.

On Wed, Feb 13, 2008 at 10:32 PM, Tom Tobin <korpios at korpios.com> wrote:

 I don't get what makes a nation any different than a very
>  large corporation in a libertarian world, unless they use coercion to
>  prevent citizens from leaving.

### I think it's useful to at first try think about social entities in
general, look for the differences among them that can be important in
your life, and then give names to the classes you find. Such entities
may be individuals, which are the simplest nodes in the network of
interdependence that is society. There may be groups of individuals
bound by common goals and customs, forming higher-level subnetworks.
It is possible to draw a topological diagram describing the lines of
influence, dependence and control surrounding each individual node. An
extremely important property of subnetworks for me is "encirclement" -
the fact that a an entity may intentionally, fully surround its
victims, for example claiming control over them from before the moment
of conception (see the anti-abortion or pro-abortion actions of
various states), through formative years (intensive indoctrination in
entity-controlled schools), to adulthood. I would definitely say that
this is illegitimate since it intentionally deprives individual humans
of choice, unless of course we are talking about a Friendly AI. We can
discuss the reason why I see deprivation of individual choice as
illegitimate on a separate thread if you wish.

A node is surrounded by an entity when there there is no direct, or
easy connection to outside of the entity. The word "easy" is operative
here - if the cost of escaping the encirclement exceeds the maximum
cost that can be imposed by the encircling entity, the escape option
is not useful in any sense. E.g. if there is only one vendor of
operating systems, the option of ditching your computer altogether is
not a true exit option with regards to being surrounded by the vendor.
The cost of escape forms a part of the measure of the degree of
encirclement. If it is almost costless to escape a significant cost,
then you are not surrounded.

So, I think it makes sense to differentiate two classes of social
entities, or subnetworks based on the topology of network connections
surrounding individuals - the ones that completely (or largely)
surround individuals and ones that don't. Non-surrounding entities are
incapable of imposing costs that would outweigh the benefits of
interacting with them, while the former can. This is an important
point: a non-surrounding entity cannot normally impose a greater cost
than a cost previously freely accepted by the individual (caveats
apply but not relevant to the discussion here). The owner of a
condominium can only charge you as much as you are willing to pay for
an apartment, one among many. The owner of 500 apartments still can
charge you only the same price, as long as there are many other
independent apartment owners and it takes you only a few minutes to
find them. But the controller of all apartments in the county can
charge you more: the market value of an apartment plus the cost of the
disruption in your life that would be entailed by moving to a
different county.

Thus, the reason why a surrounding entity is illegitimate is that it
is capable of severely, asymmetrically limiting choices available to
you and imposing costs on you to a much greater degree than any single
non-surrounding entity. I would call such an entity "state-like".

A free human is not surrounded by any single corporation. You are not
born into a corporation, you can join a it from a position of freedom,
always able to choose between various corporations without leaving all
of your previous life behind. Your house does not necessarily stand on
land claimed by a corporation - you have the choice of buying real
estate from various owners, and you can let in or deny access to a
corporation. However, you cannot deny access to a state, which makes a
pre-emptive claim to "sovereignty" over every piece of land in a large
area. You are surrounded, encircled by the state, all of your life,
not by a free choice but because there are no other viable choice - a
state is a large territorial monopoly on the use of violence. The cost
of escaping a state is enormous - at least giving up your home,
usually your work, possibly family, not infrequently your life. If a
"corporation" is capable of imposing the same costs on you as a state
does, then of course, it is a state, too.

To summarize:

- legitimately existing entities do not surround individuals
- a state by design surrounds individuals
- surrounding entities impose large costs
- a corporation that starts surrounding individuals becomes a state

If you happened to read my recent post on network segmentation, it's
relevant here - a state is a non-segmented network, which is how it
surrounds individuals. A capitalist anarchy is a segmented network,
none of its parts fully surrounds an individual, and as long as they
remain independent (segmented), they cannot impose inordinate costs.


>  I've never liked this.  The proper response from the government in
>  terms of "libertarian non-aggression-speak", IMHO, would be to inform
>  the non-tax-paying citizens that they are violating their citizenship,
>  and will be considered trespassing if the violation continues.

### Trespassing? On what basis? Does the "nation" own the land that
the refuseniks stand on?


>  Wow.  Relying on the tug of genetic heartstrings for potential medical
>  care down the road doesn't strike you as both cynical *and* fallible?
>  ;-)  But that doesn't address your claim of necessity, of course.
>  When there are so many other paths towards such care that are much
>  less expensive both for oneself and for everyone else (including a
>  libertarian's private health insurance), I'll stand by my claim.

### Misunderstanding. I didn't mean that I expect my daughter to take
care of me personally, I merely pointed out that (absent the
Singularity) the current generation will need a subsequent generation
to work in the nursing homes.

>  > Are you honestly telling me you would be happy with losing 80% of your
>  > current income while having to work just as mucht? That's strange.
>  Assuming the 80% went into projects that benefited me, directly or
>  indirectly?  Yeah.  Not having to even *think* about whether I can
>  afford a doctor's visit if sick, or an ambulance run if injured, is
>  one benefit I'll gladly pay taxes towards.  You make it sound like
>  taxes are a black hole, when that's not even the case in fairly
>  inefficient America

### So you want to pay 80% of your full income for something you can
buy for as little as 2000$? More importantly, you are willing to
threaten death to your fellow citizens, unless they provide you with
medical care? Remember, the money you actually see on your paycheck is
probably less than 60% of your total income that you would be getting
in the absence of taxes.

>  > > What I meant is this: under, say, an anarcho-capitalism scheme, I
>  > > could own a piece of land which is then surrounded by land owned by a
>  > > malicious entity.  Said entity won't let me cross its land.  How do I
>  > > get out?  A libertarian would claim that the entity was completely
>  > > within its rights to restrict me from crossing, and perhaps even to
>  > > attack me if I tried.
>  >
>  > ### Yes, if you trespassed. Other ancaps would ask, "So why did you
>  > buy this land if you know it's surrounded by a malicious entity? Why
>  > didn't you make sure you have rights of way to the nearest roads you
>  > are subscriber of?" If the entity was not too large you could perhaps
>  > call some mercenaries to help you fight your way out and next time you
>  > buy land you would be more cautious.
>  What if I *did* take those precautions, and it happened anyway?  And
>  if I called in mercenaries, assuming I successfully got out, wouldn't
>  I be attacked by other entities deciding that I had broken a "no
>  initiation of violence" rule?

### If you had a right-of-way, and it was denied to you, you would
call your enforcers, who would talk to the malicious entity's
enforcers and to the judges they hired with your money. If they judges
decided that the entity broke a contract, it would be forced to pay a
fine, as per contract, and if it persisted in denying you way, it
would be crushed by its own enforcers.


 And what's to prevent said malicious
>  entity from simply using its mercenaries from seizing land at whim?

### Your enforcers and the judges hired by you.

>  (This quickly turns into a "ancap eventually devolves into a standard
>  nation-state scenario" argument; I still haven't come across a solid
>  rebuttal to that, but I'd be willing to follow any links/references
>  and read up.)

>  I don't grasp how laws are enforced against an entity powerful enough
>  to smack down all challengers, which leaves me back at the point I
>  raised above — what's so different under anarcho-capitalism from
>  traditional nation-states?  The "law" is mutually-agreed convention,
>  and only works when it can be (and *is*) enforced.  (Again, I'm
>  willing to read up before continuing on this line, because I don't
>  want to drive anyone nuts.)

### Only if one entity develops into a surrounding entity over a large
area. As long as there is a balance of enforcement companies, such
that a coalition of smaller ones can always destroy any single large
one, the system would be stable. Of course, for that stability you
would need citizens who would actively avoid patronizing larger
companies, and would be willing to pre-emptively punish those who join
the largest companies, as well as those who fail to exact such a
punishment. You might want to read about so called secondary public
goods - these are important for the existence and stability of primary
public goods. In this case, a balanced distribution of enforcer
company sizes would be a primary public good, backed by "altruistic
punishment", and punishment of non-punishers, which is the secondary
public good.

In general, networks of altruistic punishment can stabilize almost any
social arrangement - whether religious, secular, smart or stupid. A
capitalist anarchy would be just one of the possible stable
arrangements that could exist in this way, and it would be stable as
long as a sufficiently large minority of citizens followed its rules
(just like a democracy that works as long as a sufficient minority
bothers to vote).


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