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« On the Occasion of the Total Solar Eclipse | Main

September 22, 2017

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Dennis Mitchell

There is a branch of libertarian thought that believes our high sapience behaviour is thwarted by government. Those billionaires who follow Ann Rand have perverted a basic idea. An ideal that personal liberty is important not that my personal liberty is more important than yours. It is not that less rules are needed but that the need for less rules is important.
Here in southern Idaho, the home of "small government" repugnacons, we had a local town out law the simple act of pumping your gas and then paying for it. It was pretty much ram rodded by the local gas station owners, both of them. They own the vast majority. From my libertarian perspective they are free to choose this so why force the one small guy with his two pumps attached to the feed store to change. Should it not be his choice? After all he is the one who would suffer the loss.
I would like to be able to drive a small electric, four wheel buggy, based on bike technology. Top speed fourty miles an hour. This is purely my desire to not add to climate change. Unfortunately this is illegal. In many parts of the country it is illegal to collect rain water, put up a cloths line, or have an off grid house. Liberty in not some racist, authoritarian, sexist sect. It is our desire to be free from (I love this phrase) our "capitalist overlords"!

Dennis Mitchell

I need to edit my rants better. This English thing is hard. I'm much better at grunting and shaking my head.

George Mobus

Dennis,

My basic arguments against libertarian thinking comes down to some questions about "what kind of animal are we?" and issues of scale and density.

The former issue relates to the question of hyper-cooperativity in human beings. We are not merely eusocial animals. We are hyper-social and everything we have ever accomplished has been through cooperative behaviors. That means humans are always faced with sacrificing some of their own self-interests in order to promote the collective interests.

Liberty, from a systems perspective, is a matter of how dense and interconnected the system of agents is. If people lived on intervals of one square mile, they can build any damn kind of house they want to, anywhere they want to. Their decisions are not going to subject their neighbors to hazards like fire spreading. When they live right next to each other it is a different matter. You need building codes in order to help prevent disaster spreading through the community.

Now I will be the first to admit that governments, occupied with human beings, are not likely to find optimal solutions to coordination problems. They may very well over-step their responsibilities and impose rules and regulations that, to them, seem like good ideas, but, in fact, stifle freedom unnecessarily.

The problem is not that we should not be trying to determine reasonable and helpful governance structures. It is that the decision agents that have to do so are incompetent at doing so. So they over-react.

Is the question "big government" or "stupid government"?

Our society, even out in the boonies, is dense, and complex. Too many different desires competing for too few resources. What you are observing is a system's natural tendency to seek an optimal steady state. Unfortunately the human agents who have to carry out the work of governance are simply incompetent to do so, in most cases.

Libertarianism assumes that humans can make rational decisions, or that even if they don't their actions need not harm others. The former is clearly not the case (lots of recent psychology backs this up). The latter is also not the case since societies are so dense.

I'm pretty sure sapience means that people are willing to accept that they are not unboundedly free to choose whatever path they think is best for them. Truly sapient beings are willing to cooperate for the good of the social group. That doesn't mean they bend over and accept every decision without appeal. But a society of sapient beings should be able to discuss issues and find resolutions

Good luck with the transportation argument. I get your reference to the capitalist overlords, and I am no fan of capitalism, but don't forget that the maximizing of profits is also a libertarian belief.

George

Dennis Mitchell

Agreed, I look at libertarianism as an ideal. Maximizing profits is a corruption of the ideal. Our hyper cooperative behavior is the foundation of liberty. Are people forced to cooperate, manipulated into cooperation, or do they get to choose? When I was in junior high, I was manipulated into saying the pledge of allegiance. I'm happy to say when I quit by my choice I was not forced, but how many parents would force their kids? Language often labels out misunderstandings. I am using the label "Libertarian" outside modern usage.
I consider myself a conservative, because I think we should conserve stuff. Save some oil for future generations. Leave some wild areas untouched.
Thanks, I value your response.

Dennis Mitchell

In the realm of do as I say not as I do, I consider myself an extreme environmentalist. The only charity I support is a bunch of lawyers called Advocates for the west. I hate the convoluted bureaucracy and the need to fight every little step in court. What a horrible waste. I'm working from the perspective of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I am tired of getting an offer of a free tote bag with each pledge always accompanied by yet more return address stickers. The constant push for "eco" vacations from the Sierra club, seems counterproductive. Flying around the world and global warming don't mix.

dolph

George, America is finished, it was long ago killed off by private corporate interests. Dollar denominated debts are never going to be paid off, they will be hyperinflated to continue to benefit the 1%, the corporate owners. America started off as anti imperial, but has since become the most violent, degenerate, bankrupt empire in recorded civilization.

Witness the top to bottom brutalization of American life. Some people are just snapping and literally using machine guns to randomly mow down other Americans attending a concert (Las Vegas shooting). Anything to get a cathartic release and then die.

You simply have to understand this. Even people around the world have a hard time understanding this, despite their long standing anti Americanism. They fear the resulting vacuum.

Godofredo Aravena

Hi George

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and giving the space to meditate about the times we are living.

I am not going to meditate about the current political and economic situation, as what is happening is just a reflection of much bigger, and deeper problems. Instead, I prefer to go into a possible, rational, and functional analysis of why is everything going down. I prefer to dig looking for the possible roots. Reason and evidence has already told me that this system has no way to avoid the collapse. It was doomed from the beginning, it was our task to find the second “stage”, something we as world society, are not even close to begin to figure out yet.

Once again, I would say that our Civilization has no future. It is a system without a purpose, not exactly without a purpose, but a system with an unsustainable purpose. That in the end is very much the same. We will somehow descent into chaos, understanding as chaos a system with patches on top of patches. But it will be a very slow process, just as Venezuela. No matter how bad things are, people will keep on believing that things will get better in the future, and keep on trying to keep their way of living, lowering the standard as required, keeping the minimum. Hoping. Not being able to accept that today is definitely much worse than yesterday, and that tomorrow will not be better than today. The signs of this decay are always somewhere “away” for the average person, so in a practical way, non-existent.
Our system is already collapsing, why nobody (or most) cannot accept it? It is not a question of when, the question is how it will affect each one of us (and our children). The sixties and the seventies were probably the best moments in our history, with half of the population of today, and everybody much happier. Since then, we have been falling. Decaying, collapsing, imploding. We are apparently better today, but that is just an illusion (based on smartphones and social networks?).

I define our problem, our real problem, as the lack of a sustainable purpose. The “reason why” of our existence as species. The reason for humans to live and exist. Without a clue about our purpose, we will keep on doing and living based on what I call the “Third Floor” concept of the Universe. That is, we are building all kinds of (social) structures from the third floor up, without knowing what are the first and second floors, both mainly related with the purpose of the system we live in and the purpose of ourselves as species and part of that system. But, as I can see, most have not even noticed that we are in the third floor. Or have never wanted to know about the other levels below, as that would certainly require digging into very profound questions, whose answers would change all our understandings, thus, challenging the basis of our system and social structure. Those who have been able to peek into the underground of our system, have opted to ignore what they have seen, as everything we accept as the correct and right thing (the paradigms) would fall apart.
We mostly live to do what has always been done. In essence, just keep on doing more of the same. The average human lives every day just to assure the next. It worked in the past, with fewer of us, but logically, with so many of us around, a system thought just for a few, has to fail, as we overshoot. A basic concept fully within the reach of understanding of all humans, that only requires to take the time to analyze our system. But due to our limits of design, this basic understanding is outside of reach to the average intelligent human, which is not sapient, just because it cannot be sapient. Only intelligent. The bathroom metaphor by Asimov, gives a good idea about why our system is doomed considering “infinite growth”, just one of our basic paradigms, but certainly not the only one that is wrong from the roots.

Our system, our society, is built on top of rules, conceptual systems, like laws, principles, constitutions and rights. And religious principles. The paradigms. All the rest of our society is made up and put into operation, taking these conceptual systems as the ruling basis and the guides.
None of these paradigms withstand the test of sustainability, and that is basically to find the answer to a very simple question: if all humans practice whatever is the concept being evaluated, is it possible to keep it in practice, forever, and/or for all humans at the same time? The basic sustainability questions.
For example, a 200 m2 house for everyone (the American dream), the average in USA, is it possible for all humans on earth lo live in a house of that size?. Will it ever be possible? Without going into details, I guess not. The same for cars, is it possible for all humans to have two cars, and one of them being a 5.7 lts engine, 450 HP Ford 150XL, I guess not. The same goes for University degrees, the same goes for plane flights, the same goes for income, and an extensive list of etc. Most of the pillars of our society, the paradigms we live our entire life for, are totally impossible to be achieved by everyone, even though, the entire world keeps on pursuing them. Being so easy to know, after a very basic analysis, that they are an impossible. We all live trying to reach those paradigms, unable to accept that they are an impossible task, and in the meantime, we just need the system running for ourselves, to use our personal shot, to try to hit the target of wealth and success. The modern American dream.
We live in a society without a purpose other than serving itself. Ruled by everyone´s personal interests, every generation trying to reach the paradigms, without taking care of the future generations. It all about “me”, “now” and “here”.
Any system without an external purpose, has no reason to exist. Although it could exist for a while, in the end, it will implode, and disappear. As we are experiencing today with our society. We have been for so short time on earth, just the blink of an eye in Earth´s history, that whatever we have done and achieved so far is not a sign of being in the correct path. Even though it may seem we are in the way, we are following a mirage. The more we go, the more difficult it becomes to “undo”.

On the other hand, as long as we keep on explaining the systems of the Universe as the result of Gods, we will never learn more about them than what we can get out of simulations, that try to predict the behavior of the systems, without knowing the mechanics behind. Simulations are just sophisticated guesses. In the very bottom, not too different from the sorcerer of the past.
How is that we keep on simulating, instead of looking for useful understandings, without gods, without guessing?. In the very bottom, the scientific method is a sophisticated way to give some more secure way to guess on some specific processes.
Why we keep on guessing, without really knowing? why things are the way they are? Maybe just because the answers may only come from understanding the first and second floors. We keep on thinking about going to outer space, without knowing where we are standing.
The only way to learn is to understand the real mechanisms behind the Universe. As long as we keep on using Gods to explain what we cannot understand, nothing will be learnt. Evolution is the God of the modern scientific world.
From my point of view and understanding of Nature and the Universe, systems do not evolve. Evolution is a way to explain what we see, but certainly not the only one, but more than that, it has so many holes as a theory that it should have been abandoned a long time ago, and began to look seriously for other explanations. This situation is another way to show how a society of followers cannot act in a sapient way. Intelligent, brilliant, but not sapient.
Evolution has an exception, intelligent systems, as they can evolve. Their evolution is what explains the evolution of systems that cannot evolve. But there are some limitations, evolution of intelligent systems is not “per se”. Being humans one of them, our intelligence is not enough to evolve. Because of the way we function, because of the requirements of our nature to work properly, not all humans are able lead this process to a big scale, as a society. As long as we keep on believing we are equal, there will be no evolution, as the space required for the leaderships needed to lead the changes, will never be allocated. We could evolve, but for the time being, and based on our paradigms, the only way is a collapse of the system, as the only option that would give some space for the natural leaders to show up and lead the required steps to evolve as society, or at least as small groups. On the other hand, an evolution of our society would require a radical change (in relation to what it is today), that nobody in this society is open to face and accept.

If in our society there is a functional reason for all systems we have created and developed, why it is so difficult to see the same in the Universe? In ourselves? Why we cannot see the need to understand our purpose, and the Universe´s purpose. At least look for rational and logical answers, if everything we create as systems, has two defining characteristics, purpose and functionality. Why we cannot see the same in the Universe? In ourselves? Why it is so accepted a mysterious randomness that leads to nothing useful? All we have today are patterns, without a clear explanation. All the scientific knowledge can be resumed in one expression “patterns”, without a real clue about why. Not even close. Always guessing.
Because of this lack of understanding of the Universe, our society is also not tuned with our nature, with our purpose. More than that, it goes in a way that totally denies our nature.
Ergo, the system, our system, our society, is totally unsustainable.
It is the only unsustainable system on earth. To be noted.
And we are all invited to see it fall.

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