Article

Anarchy: The Civil Discussion, Part 2

2297l

More on Human Nature, and the Free-Rider Problem

“Why are people such assholes?” Someone asked me the other day.

I replied, “Because that’s what we do.” They were talking to me about having witnessed the ‘inhuman’ and ghastly behavior of some powerful friends–friends who were so far up the ladder in the financial industry they didn’t even flinch at the economic crisis. The game changed slightly for them, of course. Things reconfigured, but they continued to accomplish their goal: to extract as much loot as possible from the common folk, and keep the good times rolling for themselves. Monarchy has never gone away, and these financial ‘wizards’ are the new royalty. Like Madoff, some of them get deposed. Others are just more careful and manage to keep their crowns no matter who’s in the White House or at Downing Street.

Whole industries are closing, hundreds of thousands of people are being laid off every month. And  “nobody cares,” my friend said. “Aren’t we better than that?” In a word, no. Can’t we learn to be better than that? No.

We must look at biological systems the same way we look at all systems. We ask ourselves, what are the inputs and what are the outputs? How does the system behave, and what goals does it try to accomplish? If we are talking about life, there is one primary goal: metabolism. Consume resources, extract value, excrete waste. Reproduction is also a part of evolving systems, but it’s secondary. You can’t reproduce if you don’t eat. Metabolism forces food-seeking behavior. As soon as that imperative is introduced into any evolving and self-directed system–biological or mechanical–competition and deception ensue (even for robots). Examine human history. What’s the primary driver? Access to resources. When the planet was large and humanity small, waste disposal was not an issue.

Today that has changed. The most important current global political issue is climate chaos, which is being driven by disposal of the products of human, animal and machine metabolism into our most important commons, the atmosphere and the oceans. And what are many people doing about it? Lying to themselves and others to promote the idea that the problem doesn’t exist. The goal? To keep consuming resources and excreting waste products without paying the price.

This terrible misanthropic behavior–which is supported not only by the fossil fuel conglomerates but also their customers (and we are all still customers)–delays us from devloping and evolving smarter ways of living. Just as organisms compete for food, they also compete to avoid expending scarce resources–in this case money to mitigate global warming pollution and rebuild our energy infrastructure. It appears to be a no-win situation. Though it’s possible from a technical standpoint to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels, the changes we must make might be too large for politicians to accomplish in time. And they would not be made at all under any form of anarchy, which relies on voluntary cooperation and abhors regulation.

Under our current system, campaigns are short, and politicians need to win elections. In the short-term, what’s good for the individual (and thus politicians) is bad for the planet. What’s good for the planet is bad for the individual, and horrible for political campaigns (“you want to raise our energy prices–in a recession?“). Humans evolved to mostly weigh these short-term costs. With abysmally short life-expectancies (35-40 years before the modern era), the goal of human life has been violent competition for highly localized resources and breeding rights, with a window of 20 years (give or take) between puberty and ‘old age’ to get it all done. So thinking on longer time frames and with global concern is just not something we humans do very well.

In the long term, it is in everyone’s interest to protect the commons and become more efficient about how we use energy. Why can’t we cooperate? Because short-term competitive thinking dominates. It got the best results in our evolutionary history, so many people just instinctively go with it.

What is it about our vast consumption and waste disposal that has evolutionary support? Comfort, wealth and security lead to greater feelings of well-being. And we are all addicted to the brain’s chemical reward system, which essentially drives us from birth to continually seek food, sex, social value, self-actualization, and dominance. The more we get, the more we seem to want. There is secondary evolutionary support for community-building behavior, but it is a means to an end. The transactional “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” becomes the strategic “I’ll scratch your back today–because I’m gambling that it will increase the chance that you’ll be there later when mine needs scratching.”

Disagree? Stop helping your friends out, and see how quickly you will lose them. And every lasting formal or informal community punishes or expels free-riders. Or it would be bled to death.

If we are willing to lie to ourselves so blatantly about something as threatening as climate change, how can we learn to care about others’ lesser concerns? The unfortunate answer is, I don’t think we can. People insist they “care about others” but how practical is that, really? How many people can you truly include in your circle of concern, and how do you effectively prioritze? Start asking yourself those tough questions, and you’ll find–if you’re brutally honest–that you’re a selfish bastard like the rest of us. And a limited cooperator, too. The mirror neurons which give us empathy for others provide a signal that’s far weaker than the one we experience when we are in pain. There is no realistic choice. Absent external motivation, we value our own pleasure and avoidance of pain far more than the success or comfort of others. And it will always be so.

And how. Here’s a simple question: Would you give up your TV remote if it would completely solve climate change? Most Americans would not. Here’s another example: Smart-grid management might require homes to slightly reduce their air-conditioning use on hot days, by bumping the thermostat up a few degrees. This would reduce the use of existing natural-gas peaking power plants, and might allow the delay or cancellation of new power plants. What’s the response? Do you expect any less from ‘cooperative’ humanity? People say “Hell no, no one’s fucking with my thermostat.” We will need to offer people a financial incentive–if we want them to sign up for such programs.

Let’s take a look at the internet. Up to this point, I’ve been talking in generalized terms about human nature. Here’s where I’ve been going: The internet is the closest thing we have right now to anarchy. The open-source movement is the closest example we have of mutualism. And it works pretty well, right?

Maybe for the very narrow goal of open-source software development. But even Wikipedia has moderators. It works as well as it does because there are competent authorities who have absolute power. Otherwise it would degenerate into a mess of “edit wars,” vandalism, and PR hacking as various coalitions vied to promote their info-interests. Just look at how many controversial articles receive “protected” status.

And what about spam? Why hasn’t that problem been solved? It would be in everyone’s interest to crack down. No one wants it, but it just keeps coming. The free-riders of the internet adapt to every spam filter almost immediately. They increase their volumes exponentially every year. They establish vast bot-nets so that many of us may be actually participating in their theft of bandwidth, time, and attention. It’s hideous. Where’s the mutualist solution to this problem? There isn’t one. If governments got serious and started throwing spammers in jail and treating the issue as the global security problem that it is, this would quickly change. Anarchy fail.

Let’s take another example: The game EVE online was suffering from a huge performance issue because people were using the in-game currency for real-world speculation–in gross violation of the terms of service. Sysadmins estimated that the added load on each computer CPU caused by the free-riders was an astounding 30%! So they came up with a scheme to identify the abusers by their currency trading patterns, and decisively shut them down. That’s the RPG version of a government crackdown. And that’s what was needed and appropriate. And you can’t lay the initial trading problem at the feet of capitalism. It’s a fantasy game. Sure, game currency could be traded for the real thing. But trading objects of value is the basis of all human relationships, and has been since before we became homo sapiens sapiens. Some anarchists assert that we should eliminate money entirely.

If only…

The vulnerability was an open system, defenseless against the unfettered avarice and opportunism of one group of users against the EVE ‘community.’ Anarchy fail.


Comments (32 comments)

db0 / August 23rd, 2009, 1:37 pm / #1

You once again miss the point that the human nature that you observe is selected by the environment humans find themselves in, in this case an environment (Capitalism) which promotes materialistic self-interest, greed, disregard for other humans, alienation etc. If human nature was compatible with this, then you would find people having no problems in it and or anarchism/communism as concepts wouldn't even exist as the current system would seem natural.

But it doesn't and libertarian socialist actions do break through like mushrooms through ashpalt. Free Software, Wikipedia, Cooperatives, Credit Unions, Industrial Unions, Communes etc all exist despite the fact that they go "against our nature" as you think and are also within a socioeconomic system which not only does not select for them, but it outright hostile to them (ie a co-operative due to its structural nature cannot be as succesful as a capitalist enterprise within capitalism)

So these examples in fact prove the opposite of what you'de like. They prove that the human nature is one of co-operation, direct action and mutual aid and even within a system which is inherently hostile to such concepts, they are impossible to douse and find ways to persevere.

What the problem is, is not human nature, it's what actually prevents human nature from expressing itself, Capitalism and it's State protector.

BlackSun / August 23rd, 2009, 6:41 pm / #2

You once again miss the point that the human nature that you observe is selected by the environment humans find themselves in, in this case an environment (Capitalism) which promotes materialistic self-interest, greed, disregard for other humans, alienation etc. If human nature was compatible with this, then you would find people having no problems in it and or anarchism/communism as concepts wouldn't even exist as the current system would seem natural.

This is simply a restatement of The Blank Slate and Noble Savage ideas. I'm going to post in the near future on Steven Pinker's chapter in The Blank Slate about politics. There is a tension between what he calls the Utopian view and the Tragic view of human nature. I think both are flawed and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

But it doesn't and libertarian socialist actions do break through like mushrooms through ashpalt. Free Software, Wikipedia, Cooperatives, Credit Unions, Industrial Unions, Communes etc all exist despite the fact that they go "against our nature" as you think and are also within a socioeconomic system which not only does not select for them, but it outright hostile to them (ie a co-operative due to its structural nature cannot be as succesful as a capitalist enterprise within capitalism)

I gave several examples of the failure of internet collectives, including Wikipedia, which has an almost autocratic staff of moderators. It's the only reason it works. Please address those examples if you want to make that argument.

As for community, I was raised in one, lived there for nearly 30 years. The human pathologies I mentioned were only intensified in that environment. In fact, we did nearly do away with money, as people only received room, board and a small (less than $100/month) salary. It did not solve the problems of competition, they only changed their forms of expression.

What the problem is, is not human nature, it's what actually prevents human nature from expressing itself, Capitalism and it's State protector.

This is not a falsifiable statement, so is reduced to the level of opinion or belief.

db0 / August 26th, 2009, 1:19 pm / #3

This is simply a restatement of The Blank Slate and Noble Savage ideas

It absolutely is not. You keep asserting this when someone counters your ideas about human nature because it's a handy strawman. I am not saying that humans are Tabula Rasa, I am saying that the human nature is opposite to what you suggest. I am not saying that humans can't or won't be violent. I am saying that it's the environment around them which defines to what extent this will happen as it is what "naturally selects" for human behaviour.

db0 / August 26th, 2009, 1:19 pm / #4

Note: my posting times out when I'm trying to post all in one comment so I'm cutting it into parts.

I gave several examples of the failure of internet collectives, including Wikipedia,

You again miss the point that Wikipedia exists *within* a authoritarian, exploitative system and is used by people shaped by it. The fact that it works so admirably, even with all the necessary checks and balances it had to have is an example of it working *despite* the problems such an experiment would have. I should remind you that before Wikipedia became a success, nobody would even think that it could even function, due to "human nature".

Not to mention that you select a handy example while ignoring the true Free Software movement which has an actually libertarian & federalized model and in fact works far far better than Wikipedia because of it.

The human pathologies I mentioned were only intensified in that environment. In fact, we did nearly do away with money, as people only received room, board and a small (less than $100/month) salary. It did not solve the problems of competition, they only changed their forms of expression.

Really? So your environment didn't have rampart hierarchies? Domination? Exploitation? You've writen about all those in your blog, so don't try to pass it as the kind of community anarchist suggest. In fact Anarchist suggest that achieving an egalitarian society is not as simple as making away with money but with making away with all hierarchies. Just discarding the state (like the right-libertarian suggest) or discarding the capitalist and the markets (like state socialists suggest) is not going to end exploitation and domination (and subsequent suffering) but rather displace it.

This is not a falsifiable statement, so is reduced to the level of opinion or belief.

That's an argument from incredulity. Of course it's falsifiable. And in fact most experiments that have been done (such as revolution or research into historical communities that approach this) empirically support this idea.

Liquid_Egg / August 26th, 2009, 10:03 pm / #5

"with making away with all hierarchies"

I'm curious to know how this would work. When humans organize on any sort of non-trivial scale, hierarchies always seem to form.

db0 / August 26th, 2009, 10:34 pm / #6

Not true. While there have not been opportunities to organize on a non-trivial scale with libertarian principles, the largest anarchist experiment attempted, the Spanish Revolution showed that hierarchies do not have to be formed.

Liquid_Egg / August 27th, 2009, 2:22 pm / #7

There will be people more capable of helping the collective than others. There will be members who will be more involved in the business of the collective more than others. In a collective of 7 million, each member may get one vote, but 7 million voices are not heard equally. That's not the goal, but it is inevitable and a form of hierarchy.

The goal is not to get rid of hierarchies, it's to ensure the hierarchy a) works for the good of all and b) has its powers properly recognized and restricted.

db0 / August 27th, 2009, 2:29 pm / #8

You keep asserting this but it's not based on reality. What you fail to understand is that all voices do not need to be "heard equally" (whatever that's supposed to mean) but only that the voices have the most impact relevant to how much a decision affects them.

If someone does not want to be involved in things that affect his life, that is fine but it is unrealistic to think that this would be the popular act when one has the option (ie unlike modern "democracy") and in fact the practical experiences of such experiments seem to confirm this.

Liquid_Egg / August 27th, 2009, 9:34 pm / #9

1. Regarding a hierarchy: Let's take this theoretical 7 million person commune. All the people have equal standing and can be involved with the decisions, but this does not mean there will not be a need for organizers to assist in implementing decisions.

At least, there will be two groups of people: "organizers" and "non-organizers". And it's not a very far step (if it's one at all) for them to be considered "leaders" and "non-leaders". Despite the theoretical equality of the groups, we already see a basic hierarchy: people with more influence than others over how decisions how implemented.

2. Regarding the "heard equally" part: I phrased the idea poorly, and it was not well-thought out. The idea was that there needs to be an assurance that a voice can be heard if needs to be. But this can be a problem in any large grouping of people.

3. As far as people not behaving in their self-interest? Happens all the time. A better way to think of it would be "Will enough rational people get involved to overpower the irrational?" Clearly you think so. I am simply uncertain.

db0 / August 28th, 2009, 7:23 am / #10

1. If organizers are needed, they do not have to be doing it as a fulltime job. In fact this would be something that Anarchists recognise as harmful. Rather the organization could be done democratically within each neighbourhood and workplace for the things that affect them locally (I guess you can see how that works easily yes?) Those neighbourhood and workplace unions then can fedearate with the others around them for bigger issues that affect all of them. This can be done via recallable, mandated representatives who simply provide decision of each federation union to the greater council (instead of deciding for the union that is). On even larger councils then the representatives can also select a representative among them, again recallable and mandated, to go to the, say, national congress. Of course such grand scale org efforts would be concerned mostly with general issues such as policies to combat global warming etc. The things that affect individuals (say smoking pot) can be decided by individuals themselves while those which affect workplaces (say the work-week length) can be decided by each workplace.

None of this way of organization requires leaders or someone who can grab power and implement hierarchy. Rather it allows the power to rest at the lowest element and spread horizontally.

Liquid_Egg / August 28th, 2009, 2:40 pm / #11

Could you explain more clearly what about the mandated representative? Who does the mandating? At first I assumed it was by vote, but voting and mandating are usually used in contrast to each other.

Your proposed system is still a tiered structure where people have different levels of influence based on which councils they are on. I don't see how this doesn't fit the definition of a hierarchy.

What you describe is a hierarchy that behaves differently and is more accountable to the people. (And boy, wouldn't that be nice.)

Your idea of people being "in power" temporarily is a necessity to prevent individuals from being entrenched in the hierarchy. But many states do this as well.

The United States, in theory, should operate similarly to how you've described. But the US has failed many of its people. There are many factors as to why the implementation does not match the theory. Yes, I believe human nature is one of them (or, better, the nature of some humans). Anarchists seem to underestimate this aspect.

db0 / August 28th, 2009, 2:48 pm / #12

A Mandated representative cannot make a decision on his own. He simply presents what those who he represents have decided and if he doesn't, then his decisions can be nullified by those who elected him.

Your proposed system is still a tiered structure where people have different levels of influence based on which councils they are on.

There is not a different level of influence. Some people don't have more influence than others in general. People simply have more influence when something affects them more.

What you describe is a hierarchy that behaves differently and is more accountable to the people. (And boy, wouldn't that be nice.)

Not at all. It's not a hierarchy at all unless you redefine the word. When I say hierarcy, I mean a pyramidical distribution of power.

Your idea of people being "in power" temporarily is a necessity to prevent individuals from being entrenched in the hierarchy. But many states do this as well.

You still haven't understood my idea. It's not about people being "in power" temporarily. It's about people not being in power.

db0 / August 28th, 2009, 7:24 am / #13

2. People will always be heard when deciding on their local level as they don't have to try and outspeak millions of others. For grander scale decisions their voice can be heard on deciding each union's position which the mandated rep will have to put forth.

Liquid_Egg / August 28th, 2009, 2:42 pm / #14

This is an assumption. Even in small gatherings, a charismatic, aggressive person can dominate and marginalize the others.

db0 / August 28th, 2009, 2:44 pm / #15

This is an assumption. In most such gatherings, this does not happen. Even if someone is charismatic, he is only going to be listened to and followed as long as he says things the others agree on. Charisma quickly loses its power when the person having it works against you.

Liquid_Egg / August 28th, 2009, 2:52 pm / #16

Even in small gatherings, a charismatic, aggressive person can dominate and marginalize the others. A boring, soft-spoken person with good ideas could be ignored because people aren't really listening.

Of course, this is not something that can really be resolved by form of government…it's just how people are.

db0 / August 28th, 2009, 2:57 pm / #17

This is not domination, just conviction and as such is based on the charismatic person also being right, for if one's ideas are convincing initially but then prove to be wrong, no matter how charismatic one is, he won't convince anymore.

db0 / August 28th, 2009, 7:26 am / #18

3. ? I never said that people will not behave in their self-interest. That is impossible. What I DO claim is that people will not only behave in their material self-interest (ie greed) when the possibility of accumulation (ie Private Property) has been taken away. But I don't see why you bring this up.

Liquid_Egg / August 28th, 2009, 3:17 pm / #19

Switch that. :D I'm the one who said that people will not (always) behave in their self-interest. It was a tangentially related to…something. There's already enough to chew on without delving deeper into this.

But I will ask you this: from what I've seen, the Anarchy movement seems to gloss over dealing with irrational people (those who do not behave in their own self-interest). You know, thieves, murderers, those who try to gain power, people who listen to Hanson, etc. It a nutshell, what do you think would be the best way to deal with such people?

(Boy, I hope there are no Hanson fans reading this.)

db0 / August 28th, 2009, 3:28 pm / #20

We don't really gloss over anything, especially not arguments that are most certainly going to be raised.

The answer to your question is two pronged

1. What to do with those who behave irrationally (ie mental problems). The answer: Try to heal them, find the cause of those problems (many are caused by childhood) and if necessary remove them from the general society (ie a mental hospital, an area reserved for them etc)

2. What to do with those who behave rationally but against anarchist principles. Either convince them of the error of their ways or expel them from the community if they do not wish to live by the common rules.

This article goes into it in a bit more depth.

Liquid_Egg / September 10th, 2009, 4:02 pm / #21

Thanks for responding…I could continue, but this discussion's been pretty lengthy as is (at least for me).

It seems like a lot boils down to how strongly we weight nature vs. nurture.

And apologies; I did not mean to lump all anarchists as ignoring the issues of crime and the like. That was based on personal experience. I was pretty sure you'd already considered it!

nostro3797 / August 24th, 2009, 12:58 am / #22

nothing you liars ever say or do means anything:

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/640

HOW WE WON THE JAMES RANDI MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/forum/viewtopic….

the objective was simple:

1) to reveal that Nostradamus was a genuine prophet who could predict
the future with 100% accuracy;

2) to demonstrate that prophecy and atheism are not compatible with
each other and are mutually exclusive;

3) therefore dawkins, pz, randi and their skeptic atheist followers
were deluded liars…

and we achieved our MISSION 100%…

http://www.zerotime.com/lostbook/nospre.htm

"For God's mercy will be poured forth only for a certain time, my son,
until the majority of my prophecies are fulfilled and this fulfillment
is complete. Then *****several times***** in the course of the doleful
tempests the Lord shall say: Therefore I shall crush and destroy and
show no mercy; and many other circumstances shall result from floods
and continual rain of which I have written more fully in my other
prophecies, composed at some length, not in a chronological sequence,
in prose, limiting the places and times and ****EXACT DATES**** so
that future generations will see, while experiencing these
****inevitable events****, how I have listed others in clearer
language, so that despite their obscurities these things shall be
understood: When the time comes for the removal of ignorance, the
matter will be clearer still."

UNDERSTAND?

nostro3797 / August 24th, 2009, 2:58 am / #23

Hey Richard:

Just wanted to let you know I have posted this on every forum on the internet. Some good came out of you after all.

Bye
_________________________________________________-

nothing you liars ever say or do means anything:

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/640

HOW WE WON THE JAMES RANDI MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/forum/viewtopic….

the objective was simple:

1) to reveal that Nostradamus was a genuine prophet who could predict
the future with 100% accuracy;

2) to demonstrate that prophecy and atheism are not compatible with
each other and are mutually exclusive;

3) therefore dawkins, pz, randi and their skeptic atheist followers
were deluded liars…

and we achieved our MISSION 100%…

http://www.zerotime.com/lostbook/nospre.htm

"For God's mercy will be poured forth only for a certain time, my son,
until the majority of my prophecies are fulfilled and this fulfillment
is complete. Then *****several times***** in the course of the doleful
tempests the Lord shall say: Therefore I shall crush and destroy and
show no mercy; and many other circumstances shall result from floods
and continual rain of which I have written more fully in my other
prophecies, composed at some length, not in a chronological sequence,
in prose, limiting the places and times and ****EXACT DATES**** so
that future generations will see, while experiencing these
****inevitable events****, how I have listed others in clearer
language, so that despite their obscurities these things shall be
understood: When the time comes for the removal of ignorance, the
matter will be clearer still."

UNDERSTAND?

nostro3797 / August 24th, 2009, 2:58 am / #24

Hey Richard:

Just wanted to let you know I have posted this on every forum on the internet. Some good came out of you after all.

Bye
_________________________________________________-

nothing you liars ever say or do means anything:

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/640

HOW WE WON THE JAMES RANDI MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/forum/viewtopic….

the objective was simple:

1) to reveal that Nostradamus was a genuine prophet who could predict
the future with 100% accuracy;

2) to demonstrate that prophecy and atheism are not compatible with
each other and are mutually exclusive;

3) therefore dawkins, pz, randi and their skeptic atheist followers
were deluded liars…

and we achieved our MISSION 100%…

http://www.zerotime.com/lostbook/nospre.htm

"For God's mercy will be poured forth only for a certain time, my son,
until the majority of my prophecies are fulfilled and this fulfillment
is complete. Then *****several times***** in the course of the doleful
tempests the Lord shall say: Therefore I shall crush and destroy and
show no mercy; and many other circumstances shall result from floods
and continual rain of which I have written more fully in my other
prophecies, composed at some length, not in a chronological sequence,
in prose, limiting the places and times and ****EXACT DATES**** so
that future generations will see, while experiencing these
****inevitable events****, how I have listed others in clearer
language, so that despite their obscurities these things shall be
understood: When the time comes for the removal of ignorance, the
matter will be clearer still."

UNDERSTAND?

nostro3797 / August 24th, 2009, 3:12 am / #25

nothing you liars ever say or do means anything:

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/640

HOW WE WON THE JAMES RANDI MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/forum/viewtopic….

the objective was simple:

1) to reveal that Nostradamus was a genuine prophet who could predict
the future with 100% accuracy;

2) to demonstrate that prophecy and atheism are not compatible with
each other and are mutually exclusive;

3) therefore dawkins, pz, randi and their skeptic atheist followers
were deluded liars…

and we achieved our MISSION 100%…

http://www.zerotime.com/lostbook/nospre.htm

"For God's mercy will be poured forth only for a certain time, my son,
until the majority of my prophecies are fulfilled and this fulfillment
is complete. Then *****several times***** in the course of the doleful
tempests the Lord shall say: Therefore I shall crush and destroy and
show no mercy; and many other circumstances shall result from floods
and continual rain of which I have written more fully in my other
prophecies, composed at some length, not in a chronological sequence,
in prose, limiting the places and times and ****EXACT DATES**** so
that future generations will see, while experiencing these
****inevitable events****, how I have listed others in clearer
language, so that despite their obscurities these things shall be
understood: When the time comes for the removal of ignorance, the
matter will be clearer still."

UNDERSTAND?

Moridin / August 26th, 2009, 4:02 pm / #26

In the long term, it is in everyone’s interest to protect the commons and become more efficient about how we use energy. Why can’t we cooperate? Because short-term competitive thinking dominates. It got the best results in our evolutionary history, so many people just instinctively go with it.

Now you are distorting evolutionary data to fit your a priori political philosophy. Prisoners dilemma style interactions and the selfish gene perspective are specifically about showing that cooperation *does* work in your rational (free-floating) self-interest. Even long term self-interest as shown by kin selection, stretching over an organisms entire life.

Here’s a simple question: Would you give up your TV remote if it would completely solve climate change? Most Americans would not.

What is the evidence for this? Or is it just a made up statement to prop up your political worldview? It shows just how far statist can go in order to defend their irrational and immoral political philosophy. Furthermore, the fact that some people do not *prefer* to sacrifice short term success for long term success only shows just that. It does not show that they somehow *cannot* do it, or that it would not be in their rational self-interest to do so.

There isn’t one. If governments got serious and started throwing spammers in jail and treating the issue as the global security problem that it is, this would quickly change. Anarchy fail.

This is of course pure nonsense. The free market has already solved the problem of spam. That solution is called spam filters. I use Google's mail server gmail and thanks to their free market solutions, I hardly ever see any spam in my inbox. Market anarchy win.

The vulnerability was an open system, defenseless against the unfettered avarice and opportunism of one group of users against the EVE ‘community.’ Anarchy fail.

Again you falsely characterize market anarchy with a straw man caricature of lack of organization. It is just as flawed as claiming that atheism means the lack of order or morality. Don't you see that you are perpetuating the exact same myth? It is just like arguing that soviet Russia was an atheist nation and failed, therefore atheism is invalid. Surely, you do not believe this is the case, so why perpetuate the exact same straw man against market anarchy?

It is perfectly valid to have voluntary contracts detailing what you can and cannot do in an anarchist society. This is something that you absolutely and positively need to understand if you want to have a rational discussion about anarchy. Market anarchy wins again.

So they came up with a scheme to identify the abusers by their currency trading patterns, and decisively shut them down. That’s the RPG version of a government crackdown.

No, it is not. It is the free market at work. It was a free market solution that solved the problem. All users had signed a voluntary contract (terms of service) stating that they where fine with getting their privileges revoked if they did anything that violated the contract. The government was never involved and all actions that were taken where completely inline with how a market anarchy would work. You are taking the success of the free market and attempt to present it as the success of the government. This is beneath you.

Liquid_Egg / August 26th, 2009, 10:01 pm / #27

"rational self-interest"

It would be nice if everyone behaved this way. Unfortunately, life does not work like this.

"I use Google's mail server gmail and thanks to their free market solutions, I hardly ever see any spam in my inbox. Market anarchy win."

Perhaps it's solved for you. Spammers would not continue to spam without the motivation of money. They are still making money. The free market has NOT solved this problem.

Moridin / August 29th, 2009, 3:17 pm / #28

It would be nice if everyone behaved this way. Unfortunately, life does not work like this.

Straw man. I am not claiming that every human is rational, just that humans have the capacity for being rational.

Perhaps it's solved for you. Spammers would not continue to spam without the motivation of money. They are still making money. The free market has NOT solved this problem.

You are blatantly ignoring reality. Look at Google spam filters. The fact that there are people who don't know about Gmail or dont know how to prevent yourself from receiving spam does not mean that there are no free market solutions to spam.

BlackSun / August 29th, 2009, 5:36 pm / #29

Moridin,

Spam filters don't get rid of spam, they only suppress it. You still haven't solved the free-rider problem. It costs Google and every other internet user a lot of money to deal with spam. It's just cheaper than the alternative of not dealing with it. A crackdown is needed to eliminate spam at the source. Then a technical solution to prevent it entirely. Both are examples of state or corporate power being brought to bear to punish free riders. There will always be need for enforcement.

All users had signed a voluntary contract (terms of service) stating that they where fine with getting their privileges revoked if they did anything that violated the contract.

There is also an implicit contract between governments and citizens that is exactly the same thing. Your distinction between state and corporate power is meaningless. Power is power, and groups will always need to create power structures to manage themselves, on whatever scale.

Tyler / August 30th, 2009, 1:02 am / #30

I'm loving this discussion. I wonder what people would think of the phrase "Some anarchists are freer than others."

Any thoughts? I'm not doing this to be snarky, but I can't imagine any group, no matter how they self-identify, without some kind of hierarchy, temporary or otherwise, mandated or otherwise. As long as one person speaks for/represents another, there is a hierarchy in that those who mandate must trust the mandated to represent them faithfully. And human nature, I fear, is stacked heavily against that possibility, mostly because each representative must compete themselves for limited resources. Anyway…I think I'm repeating what Sean said earlier…

Tyler / August 30th, 2009, 1:03 am / #31

Urg. To clarify- each representative must compete with others for limited resources.

Roy Madron / September 25th, 2009, 3:04 pm / #32

May I again recommend Josiah Ober's excellent critique of our non-democracies
"Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens" .

"Democracies, ancient and modern, have the
potential to do well because rational cooperation
and social flourishing emerge when each of enjoys
an enhanced opportunity to fulfill our human potential.
That potential prominently includes an ability to
innovate and to learn. In a truly democratic
community, among other things we would learn
that when each shares knowledge with others,
our individual prospects expand as our society changes for the better."

My own book "Gaian Democracies: Redefining Globalisation and people-power" can be seen as an attempt to adapt the concepts and methodologies underlying the Athenian city-state model to the much more complex needs of the human family in the 21st Century.

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