The Ethnic Nation State Is The Most Likely Means Of Preserving Individual Freedom.

Great panel discussion today, with speakers on China, Turkey, Islam, Europe, and the Anglosphere.

The closing questions were largely to do with the changing world boundaries, and nationalism.

Summary by, I think, John O’Sullivan, was that, it certainly appears, that the small ethnic nation state is the most likely means of preserving individual freedom.

And the consensus was that neither China nor the USA had strong chances of maintaining political unity over the long term.

That is, the USA only has such chances if we return to federalism, devolving power to the states, rather than central authority.

We can only hope.

A Mouthful Of Pebbles And The Roar Of The Ocean

Someone asked me (again) today, why I waste my time on some silly online political debate group. And that’s a good question. But I know the answer. It’s a choice.

First, it’s not really very useful to argue with people who agree with you. I spent a good half hour last night at a dinner table overlooking the Aegean, arguing core libertarian ethical theory with Stephan Kinsella, who relies on preference and moral argument for his theories. If I agreed with him, what would I learn?

You know, it’s like this: The Athenian orator Demosthenes, who had a soft and stammering voice, said that he filled his mouth with pebbles and practiced over the roar of he waves until his speech was perfect.

I have a tendency to speak in high abstraction, making leaps between concepts that are too far apart in causal relation for most people to follow. About a decade ago, two friends, Ali from Iran, and Frank from the USA, abused me daily for this kind of lazy communication. I began to view this tendency as ‘my problem’. A form of impediment. And so for ten years I have worked, as Spinoza suggested, to “speak in a manner comprehensible to the common people”. Unfortunately, the common people will not debate, and are happy in their ignorance. But motivated ideological opponents, regardless of their motives, mental ability or character defect, are convenient foils for the improvement of one’s arguments.

So, this group, like most online forums, is my mouthful of pebbles.

I don’t seek to convert anyone. Although I do find friends occasionally. I simply seek to improve my argument. If others learn in the process than that is find with me. But my purpose is to improve my ability to express ideas.

Reductio Libertarianism As An Effort To Export Costs (ie: Theft)

In yet another debate with crooks masquerading as libertarians.

I ask “Define Moral.”

Bob replies “Moral = “Absence of coercion. Immoral = Presence of coercion (force or fraud).”

Then he teases me a bit for my usually turgid analytical analysis: “What’s your definition, Curt? We assume it’s gotta be a pretty complex definition or it’s not particularly impressive, correct?”

To which I reply: “Yes, you have the correct definition for interpersonal relations. However, the same method of analysis applies to shareholder relations. The problem lies in the process of decision making for transfers of assets, which are determined by the shareholder agreement. ie: “constitution”, whether discreet and written, or traditional and structured, or traditional and unstructured. Moral crimes include crimes against shareholder assets. ie: transfers that are possible because of increasing degrees of ignorance, and therefore without interpersonal coercion. Such transfers are not only possible, but easy and invisible, by the act of transferring opportunity costs:

“For example, imagine an island where having a child that you cannot support, and therefore must rely upon charity to feed, is an immoral crime. It is a forcible transfer of wealth, because the shareholder agreement forbids allowing a person or child to starve — and therefore the parent, by having a child, forced other shareholders to pay for the support of that child, otherwise the other shareholders would break the agreement themselves. This is an involuntary transfer.

Humans organize. Organizations consist of shareholders. Shareholders have responsibilities to avoid transfers. Any Propertarian analysis must include shareholder agreements and shareholder properties, because people do in fact create and live by those shareholder methods and processes. To ignore such organizations is unscientific. Or, worse, an immoral attempt to privatize opportunities, or externalize costs onto others. :)

“So I would state it like this (or as a graph):

  1. There are three forms of coercion:
      1) Violence against a person or property,
      2) Fraud,
      3) Opportunity Deprivation (ie:Ostracization or non-cooperation: deprivation of opportunity) We call this ‘moral’ coercion.
  2. There is only one form of ‘manipulation’ of another person’s actions, which is both voluntary and symmetrical1, and that is voluntary Trade (Exchange).
  3. People join organizations in order to increase their opportunities, and decrease their costs of opportunities.
  4. Membership in organizations requires Individuals pay direct costs, such as actions and payments, as well as indirect costs, such as forgoing opportunities for gratification, or choosing a less gratifying alternative in order to adhere to specific moral coercions, because it is these moral self-deprivations that forbid the privatization of other people’s forgone opportunity costs.
  5. People join multiple organizations. They do so by paying the direct costs and opportunity costs prescribed in the ‘shareholder agreement’.
  6. Some organizational requirements conflict with other organizational requirements, therefore people ‘cheat’ on their membership costs in order to obtain additional opportunities at a discount
  7. Therefore Interpersonal Moral Action = Absence of coercion.” But since people join organizations in order to increase their opportunities, and decrease their costs of opportunities, this is an insufficient definition for all exchanges.
  8. Therefore Shareholder Moral Action = Absence of Coercion + Absence of Externalization of Costs + Absence of Privatization of Opportunities. This is a sufficient definition for environments where organizations are present.
  9. All moral human actions consist of one or more actions, using zero or more objects, and zero or more interpersonal exchanges, which occur under zero to many shareholder agreements, where the individual does not use any of the three forms of coercion, and does not externalize costs onto other shareholders, or privatize opportunities unto one’s self, or transfer opportunities to others.


  1. The institution of property itself is a form of coercion. Of sacrificing opportunity costs according to a social contract. Therefore we cannot have property to transfer without the costs paid for self deprivation of opportunity – that’s without even considering the necessity for collective defense.
  2. Narrowly Defining morality only as Interpersonal Moral actions is an attempt at appropriation, that is THEFT, by FRAUDULENT MEANS of the vast opportunity costs paid by all members of an organization, both past and present.
  3. Non-conformity is a form of either expensive research programs, or theft, or forcible redistribution — depending upon whether the objective is to increase production (moral), or to conduct a transfer (immoral)
  4. Humans conduct conflicts between their different organizations using these opportunity cost differences embodied in their different social contracts, to which we apply the terms “culture”. Wars can be conducted by direct violence, or economic competition, or by thefts of cultural opportunity costs. This is why religious cults, and class wars, and immigration can succeed in obtaining power. They steal opportunity costs.

“Is that OK? Because it’s right you know….. :)”

  1. I use the term ‘symmetrical’ where most would use ‘equitable’, only because I am somewhat concerned about the loaded content of the word ‘equitable’ which is both imprecise and emotionally loaded for my purposes .  

A Better Analysis Of Libertarianism: "Why don't I kill you and take your stuff?"

As Camus said, the first problem of philosophy is why we do not commit suicide. But that is followed by the first problem of political philosophy, which is not “how do we best get along?” It is “Why don’t I kill you and take your stuff?” I opt for freedom by advocating the organized application of violence against those who would take my stuff. Violence is a virtue, and the source of the institution of property. Without that violence, there is no property, only slavery to those who have either violence or property. So, property does not insure freedom. Violence insures freedom. Violence is a virtue not a vice. Property is simply a more productive use of freedom, because it allows us to develop fixed capital at lower risk, which then increases production and profits, decreases prices.

Yet, once we consider that there are differences in ability between individuals, and therefore their differences in ability to create and obtain property in real time, the question remains: if we ask people to forgo the opportunity for theft, murder and plunder, how do we compensate them for their costs? All costs are opportunity costs. A man who is very powerful, or a group of weak people who by their numbers are powerful, is most free from constraints if they can rape, murder and plunder at will. Since they sacrifice this freedom in order to respect property, then what is their compensation for it?

If people form a group, organization or corporation for the purpose of plunder, why should others not form a group for the purpose of preventing plunder and creating property and a market for exchange? Is that not exactly the course of development of these organizations?

But once these defensive organizations are founded, and power is concentrated in them the bureaucracy forms, and corruption and predation upon the property of others replaces violence against their ‘person’, people, and things. We then attempt to regulate corruption, rather than replacing bureaucracy with market accountability. We replace violence against the barbarians with bribes so that they will respect our property: redistribution is payment for conformity to the standards property definitions of the organization which defends property.

Since all costs are opportunity costs, and there is a cost born by those who respect property, each person who respects property is therefore a shareholder in the market. One could say instead, that access to the market is paid for by the cost of forgoing opportunity to rape, murder, pillage, and plunder, thieve and fraud, deceive and lie. And that might be true. But the question is, whether access to the market is SUFFICIENT compensation for the ongoing cost of opportunity paid by respecting property. And whether this is quantifiable or not, people ACT as though it is insufficient, and they rebel against the constraints.

Radical individualism is a rational construct for epistemic purposes. But fundamentally, people ORGANIZE to achieve cooperative ends. Individualism is not enough of a solution to the problem of politics.

In effect, propertarianism is an upward redistribution of opportunity costs from the lower to the upper classes. Anarchism is an effort to avoid paying costs of creating organizations that create property and create the market. Anarcho capitalism is a research program that has demonstrated the failure of bureaucracy, and suggested private and competitive rather than public and monopolistic means of achieving group ends. But the question then, is who are the shareholders of this organization that is so costly to implement? The answer is all that forgo opportunities for coercion. And what is their return on their forgone opportunities?

I am a libertarian by epistemic method and a classical liberal by institutional method, and a conservative by social class and time preference. And I do not want to privatize the costs of others, and participate in corruption, by failing to compensate others for their forgone opportunities, from which I benefit. I simply want to stop corruption in the bureaucracy, and to privatize everything. I do not want to steal from others. Therefore redistribution of some sort is mandatory, because without redistribution, we cannot say that we respect property.

Run the government like a business network. Make it an EMPIRICALLY CALCULABLE DECISION process rather than a RATIONAL AND RHETORICAL POLITICAL DEBATE process:

The problem then becomes how to make this process calculable. The answer is simple. Run the government like a business network. Make it an EMPIRICALLY CALCULABLE DECISION process rather than a RATIONAL AND RHETORICAL POLITICAL DEBATE process: “Loans Not Laws.” Laws are loosely calculable. Loans are narrowly calculable. Laws are rational. Loans are empirical. There is only one law, and that is property. Citizens are shareholders. And as shareholders they are due returns on their investment in opportunity costs.

This is the grownup version of libertarianism. Most of which has degenerated into a Rothbardian religion supported by Friedman’s monetary analysis.

A Centralized NY, and a Distributed LA

From Peter Gordon, referring to an article in the Atlantic.

“The LA metropolitan area is actually spread over parts of five counties and includes twice as many cities as writer Conor Friedersdorf cites. The Orange county-LA county boundary is invisible to most of us. And even granting Friedersdorf’s view of the world, trading the 88 cities he acknowledges for even more authority accruing to the LA County five-member Board of Supervisors would be no great boon. These five already have much more power and money than they can wisely administer.”

“There are many good reasons that Americans migrate to the suburbs and one of them is home-rule. Another one is a measure of local government choice. The City of Bell and some others have been found to be corrupt. But the fact that the bad guys have a small jurisdiction to steal from rather than a big one is a good thing.”

Translating Complaints About Private Sector Services

When people disparage the private sector and seek services from the government what they really mean is one or more of the following:

1) DISCOUNT ON RESEARCH / RISK REDUCTION: “I am not able to judge the services in the marketplace, and unable to determine which of the inexpensive choices at my disposal in the market is optimum, and therefore I wish to circumvent the market in exchange for having the same services available to all.” – ie: the ‘roads and sidewalks’ analogy wherein, “I have a right to use the same common goods as everyone else.”

2) PROFIT REDISTRIBUTION: “I am not a desirable customer by any company and therefore, I wish to circumvent the market in order to obtain services that are greater in value than what I produce for exchange in the market by servicing others.” - The redistributive strategy. (To some degree this is a legitimate concern, since there will always be some that it is not worth the effort to serve other than by charity.) The basic idea is that if one conforms to social norms, and pays the high cost of respecting property, that one should get some return on one’s investment.

3) STATUS REDISTRIBUTION: “For any company to whom I am a desirable customer, I will be given services in a manner, and of a quality, that is less than I desire, or which is substandard to my self perceived social status.” (This is redistribution of social status is as important to many on the bottom half, as is monetary redistribution – and to some, more important.) It is particularly important for the lower two quintiles. It is this perception of status redistribution that creates ‘enfranchisement’ in the social order. Or rather, it is participation in the middle class, as a consumer, that people desire in order to consider themselves a ‘citizen’ who supports the social order.

4) ENCOURAGE GOVERNMENT COMPETITION WITH PRIVATE SERVICES: “I can more successfully petition the government for redress than I can a company, because I am a more valuable customer to the government than I am to any private company.” (There is increasingly truthful content to this perception – an argument which is beyond addressing here, but which is the increasing performance of public market, and public-credit companies, acting as bureaucracies because they can afford to rely on credit and prices rather than care of customers. Again, this is difficult, but there are in fact, ‘evil corporations’. It’s just that the government cannot change it by regulation of business performance.)

Note that in listing these choices, I am relying on an assumption that differences in human ABILITY. I have not included the options that simply result from laziness. Laziness as a reason to circumvent the market is not redistribution. It is a form of fraud. (Although this is a longer argument.)

If someone posits an argument that the government would better serve them, you can easily control the conversation by making the discourse about their individual preferences, and keep asking questions until you identify wich of these four positions, strategies or meanings, the person is relying upon in their arguments.