[ExI] General comment about all this quasi-libertarianism discussion

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Thu Mar 3 07:00:32 UTC 2011

On Thu, Mar 3, 2011 at 12:11 AM, Damien Sullivan
<phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 02, 2011 at 09:27:52PM -0500, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
>> >
>> > That's unfair, I'd grant that it's more like Tit For Tat. ??The problem
>> > is that while TfT largely solves the iterated two-person Prisoner's
>> > Dilemma given certain population assumptions, the multiplayer game is
>> > less amenable to solution and the real population is less ideal. ??There
>> > is a non-governmental solution, but it's a second-order norm of such
>> > strength as to make a democratic governemnt seem lax, where you punish
>> > defectors and anyone who isn't punishing a defector. ??The coercion to
>> > cooperate is distributed, but still coercive. ??When I was libertarian,
>> > it was for the sake of real freedom, not replacing government with
>> > social oppression.
>> >
>> ### But this second-order norm needed to achieve an efficient
>> allocation of resources (most likely an injunction against formation
>> of overpowering coalitions) is likely to be immensely less burdensome
>> than a monopolistic agency run mostly by your enemies. I really don't
> I dispute both "likely to be immensely less burdensome" and "run mostly
> by your enemies".

### Most humans *are* your enemies, sometimes mollified by hope of
reciprocal gain.

>> understand how it's possible for you to reject what appears to be an
>> efficient solution, despite apparently being able to think your way
>> through it (which already puts you light-years ahead of 99.99% of the
>> population, AFAIK).
> Because main real world models for norm-enforced order are small towns
> and highly conservative societies.  Rigid and intolerant.  The norm
> with typical people doesn't allow for much dissent, unlike many
> democracies.
> Also, perhaps more fundamentally, what I said at the end of the earlier
> paragraph.  To work, the norm is strong enough to *be coercive*.
> Instead of paying taxes because the police will come and take your goods
> and shoot you if you shoot at them, you'll pay your social dues because
> if you don't no one will talk to you or sell you food or let you cross
> their land.  The idea that this is some great step for freedom is
> laughable to me.  Distributed coercion is still coercion.  You're not
> getting a free choice either way about whether to pay taxes or show up
> for the militia.  At least with the government you can ask "should we be
> doing this?" without promptly getting shunned.

### I think it's useful to decompose the question into two parts: one,
what kind of of a theoretically conceivable social network is most
likely to calculate efficient behavior to maximize satisfaction of
desires, two, what kind of stabilizing mechanisms might be required
instrumentally for this posited network to exist. Of course, even if
such stabilizing mechanisms might perhaps be used to enforce odious
systems, it is not reason to reject them as tools - after all, a gun
can protect the innocent as much as keep them in a concentration camp.

What you describe is an *effective* enforcement mechanism - and you
object that the mechanism can be used to make some people miserable.
But, please note that in the specific examples you mentioned
(low-status, small-town folk, presumably inferior to the worldly
denizens like us) are not the only groups that have used reputation
tracking, shunning and banishment as a major technique of norm
enforcement - for example, environmentalist political activists in the
US usually employ very similar methods to keep their ranks pristine.
The "rigidity" and "conservatism" of small-town folk is not a function
of the enforcement methods they use but rather is due to the lower
scope for experimentation that is afforded by their existence and also
a function of their greater homogeneity. Thus, I do think you are
condemning an effective social stabilizing technique for the wrong
reason - for association with low-status people you dislike. At the
same time, you fail to apply the same standard to the other
stabilizing technique in question, hierarchical bureaucracy - which
only sometimes, really as an exception, let's you ask the question
"should we be doing this" (only if you are lucky to live in a place
where this beast is in part tamed by other influences, such as
traditions of nonviolence, general acceptance of non-conformity, etc.,
etc.). Trust me, there are much worse things than being shunned that
happen to people who ask the wrong questions in most places.

Now, if we wanted to discuss what theoretically possible network
topology is most likely to calculate the behaviors maximizing
satisfaction of human desires ..... (do you believe that a
hierarchical, non-redundant network is the optimal calculator?).... we
could eventually think about the best techniques of stabilizing it.


P.S. I find it much more interesting to talk about e.g. the
measurement of desires, methods for aggregation of information about
desires, than about anything that triggers the "them" and "us"
reflexes, such as the word "corporation" does in some places. Once you
look at the very foundations of how brains and networks work, a lot of
higher-order notions sometimes develop with surprising ease.

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