what is to be done?

firstly: nothing. “doing” out of morality is already going against the current. let yourself flow.

secondly: commerce. good deals, saving money, finding opportunities for profit in productivity for a market. it is not idealism if it pays well.

thirdly: strategy. which means, survival. think ahead of those leeching on your resources. understand and predict their behaviors. be two (or more) steps ahead. triangulate. mostly avoid being a short-sighted idiot, which is already better then half the population of the earth.

fourthly: after you have eased yourself of worries, acquired currency in vast enough amounts to spare leisure and granted lifespan, play games. good games, hard games, long games, massive multiplayer online games (seriously). play games of consumption, of recording, of production. learn crafts and languages, dress well, eat exotic, sex often and good, experience. intelligence grows on stimuli and discrimination. games summarize all this.

.5: repeat. (which means replication, if not reproduction).

survival and ethics

the problem of value has been satisfactorily addressed by Darwin. it may sound controversial, with all the “science is value free” thing going around, but there is simply no value that is not reducible to survival, or endurance. if things cannot keep being, their value is limited. if they can’t be at all, their value is similarly non-extant.

any ethics that is realist – and here we strive to return to this, to ignore the spooks – will be an ethics of survival: what can we do to last longer? it understands path dependency, and thus is geared to operating with human intelligence (but only until a transition can be envisioned).

the darned thing about ethics in general is that it usually cannot be accelerated. a set of “do’s” and “don’ts” doesn’t flow from the future. or does it?

a central element of survival is being able to look ahead, and thus suck future into the present. without predictive capability (science), survival is impossible. turn this around and it’s obvious expanding predictive capability is necessary to expanding survival.

a survivalist ethics then turns into long-term strategics: what rules should we follow if we are to last (and last longer)? a society with a justice system but without a law against murder that is sufficiently strict and well applied, so as to dissuade and repay it’s violation, is a suicidal society.

this empirical model of ethics make it open to revision – it has to observe changing conditions and learn – what is specifically right or wrong changes over time. the good in itself, however, remains fixed.

the standard of value in survival makes the knowledge of what’s good available at all levels to all entities: adapt or perish. and it’s self-reinforcing: the good always wins because prevailing is itself the good. redemption is assured, but fleeting.

virtue ethics, as a summary of good strategic behaviors, is the closest we have gotten so far to an ethics of survival. virtues are recipes of how to survive, individually and socially, the longest, and how to leave good copies of oneself, so as to sustain its living. it removes the insane puritanism of deontology – no one can be virtuous by exhibiting only one virtue, all of them have to be measured – and the sheer blindness of consequentialism (seriously, where are the utilitarians going anyway?)

Adam Smith’s stance on the Theory of Moral Sentiments, that “sympathy” (empathy) is the drive for moral behavior, is respectable in many senses, and also correct, but is limited: empathy itself arises in response to environmental needs of moral behavior, and is thus subjected to (social) survival. it is because we need to live together to survive that we are empathetic – not the other way around. empathy is contingent, survival is absolute.

does the social trumps the individual survival? only if it does. to a large extent, more individualist societies have thrived more, showing that there is not, at the moment, a conflict between individual interests and social survival, much to the contrary. but it may well be that this, too, changes at some point, and that individuals are better off killing their societies and becoming lone wolves. if they can, they must. but there are moves and counter moves, and maybe societies can trump individuals at times, and be trumped by them at others. what does ethics have to say to each of them? adapt, or perish.

this shows ethics is not universal. survival is being-specific. the rules of survival for the lion are different than the rules of survival for the zebra, the bacteria in his bowels, and for the hunters with them on sight. survival is only a goal, not a specific instrument. those have to be built. and here intelligence comes in (but I’ll let you do that plugging for now).

ethics then can be anything, but is not anything at any one moment. it is some specific rules that lead to the survival of a certain specific entity. it changes, but not according to the mere will of any entity. from many points of view, the ethics proper to a certain entity may seems harsh, oppressive, cruel and unjust. from the point of view of their ethics, it probably is. but it doesn’t matter. only survival matters.

so stop whining.

different ethics can dialog, cohere and make deals. mutual survival is possible. alliances are oftentimes demanded. but that has to be produced, it is not given. effective defense is necessary, even among friends. borders are always a good idea. good fences make good friends. there’s an ethics to war, just as there is a strategics to anything.

only through reality can messages be transmitted. realism is not optional, it is selected for. survival is inherently allied to keeping it real. to the point that any reality can only be devised in the horizon because it lasts longer.

in reality, truth:=survival.

and survival is the only good.

naturalism, ethics and politcs

1) the preemptive rejection of the strong naturalist intention (study ethics and politics solely in view of empirical evidence) does not offer any good reason why it should be so.

1.1) one good reason I would see is that, while we can understand evolutionary impacts of certain kinds of political and ethical arrangements (and under which conditions they come into being), effectively testing them would demand another framework – one such as federalism or the archipelago.

1.2) the reason “it assumes that empirical knowledge is superior to ethical and political knowledge” is weak. the naturalist method has produced demonstrable results for over 4 centuries now, incarnated in the technological world all around us. ethics and politics have produced nothing of the kind. if that’s not an evidence against the method used in ethics and politics so far (an introspective method, based at best on logic and at worst on suspicious “a priori” definitions).

thus it’s not that empirical knowledge is superior to ethics and politics, but that the empirical method works better than the introspective method used in ethics and politics.

2) the attempt to evade the facts of empirical knowledge (for whatever reason) does not make certain political or ethical theories any better adapted to empirical reality. their flaws and their course when realistically applied can be empirically predicted. refusing to listen and pay careful attention to what naturalist empirical knowledge has to say is undertaken at the critic’s own risk. reality rules.

3) there’s an universal impartial judge, and it’s called reality. reality shows itself through survival. irrealism will lead to death, necessarily. those that survive the most, have the most truth in their beliefs and practices. those that die, don’t.

3.1) sure, the contest may last a long while. and to this extent, two different and even contradictory sets of beliefs may be held as truth, at the same time. in such a point in time, both must be held as truth indeed. when one dies, then the other must be recognized as the truth that prevailed.

3.2) once again, choose to ignore reality at your own peril.

3.3) theories, of course, evolve. hopefully, learning from deaths around itself. if a theory that leads to longer survival is abandoned, for whatever reason, the whole of the institutions and societies that embed and accept them will eventually die, especially when in competition from societies that haven’t committed the same mistakes (and will themselves learn quite a bit about how not to run institutions and societies).

4) for normativity, see “The Blind Mechanic II

5) Only naturalist methodology is “legitimate” because only it works as a good proxy for real consequences, and thus ensures realism. all other methods are greatly liable to delusion and willful blindness.

on evolution and chance

1) chance is merely path dependency

1.1) chance happens like white noise

1.2) things cannot go anywhere, only where it can go. some rules are original (physics).

2) the greatest adaptive trait in evolution is being able to process change, this is the single most important trait (the final cause) being selected for at all times – finality is camouflaged. (optimize for intelligence)

2.1) thus evolution is not only “pure contingency” of “blind causal processes” – it’s a strategic game always selecting for generality and flexibility (“complex organized functionality” or “something that can last a hell of a fucking long time”)

3) the organism, to the extent that it also changes the environment, can be said to self-produce the changes that the environment produces on it. adaptation runs in a cycle, a feedback loop, moves and counter moves

3.1) yeah, changes come from white-noise-like mutation: “let’s try it all and see what survives”.

2017 prophecies

I’ll get in the business of yearly predictions, since I’ve managed to nail the election of Donald Trump in a private bet (and got nothing of much more value written yet):

  • At least one country starts procedures to leave Europe
  • …this country is from East Europe
  • Russia, in formal alliance with Israel and Iran, makes the first strike against ISIS in Syrian
  • BTC remains 70% of the year above 1000USD
  • Second Urbit sale
  • Brazilian interim president Michel Temer remains in office
  • Donald Trump doesn’t start building of the wall
  • Trump exits at least one international organization the USA is currently a member of
  • Higher tariff in the US doesn’t increase employment (and everyone gets angry)

If I think of anything else, I’ll add later. At the end of the year, we see.

on free trade

I just finished reading John Michael Greer’s post “The Free Trade Fallacy” from last November, and it got me intrigued.

As a libertarian, I usually face the charges Greer puts forth: if goods and capital can flow freely through borders, some countries will be much better at the expense of their populace and of other countries. Hardly, though, with such clarity as Greer’s. So much that I think merits at least a response (even if mine is not very brilliant).

A couple caveats before we get into the argument itself:

  1. I think nations should, in fact, enter voluntarily into free trade agreements, and never if they perceive this is bad for their interests. I am completely against an “Open Door Empire” that violently imposes unilateral “trade agreements” on its in fact subject nations.
  2. I am specifically countering JMG’s assertion that free trade, per se, without further intervention policies from the State, is cause of working-class poverty, wealth concentration and economic crises. I will argue solely that no, free trade alone does not cause those things – and I’ll leave open the reasons why such things happened when there were “free trade waves” (if reading is of interest, my main source here is Kevin Carson, his books cover most of the historical arguments I’d make).

The flesh of Greer’s argument is here:

When there are no trade barriers, the nation that can produce a given good or service at the lowest price will end up with the lion’s share of the market for that good or service. Since labor costs make up so large a portion of the cost of producing goods, those nations with low wages will outbid those with high wages, resulting in high unemployment and decreasing wages in the formerly high-wage countries. The result is a race to the bottom in which wages everywhere decline toward those of the worst-paid labor force in the free trade zone.

Well, certainly, those suppliers that offer the smallest price (and keep the biggest profit) will get the lion’s share of their market. They will most assuredly look for the lowest labor costs possible – given all other factors – and will choose the bundle of factors of production that yield the smallest price at the biggest profit.

Now, if a nation has high-wages, it will (sometimes) lose companies and thus jobs to nations with lower wages. But it will get cheaper products. This means that, even if nominal wages fall, real wages (purchase power) will either remain the same or even increase (because cheaper imports).

Also, if a nation chooses to keep their nominal wages, it will mean unemployment. But otherwise, if they lower their nominal wages, unemployment won’t be an issue, unless it is a nation that can produce nothing at all, which is clearly absurd.

As capital moves to these configurations that yield smallest prices and biggest profits, and wages adjust accordingly, it is probable much more material wealth is produced and distributed widely. Little by little, amongst nation there evolves a specialization of labor, similar to the one that happen inside those nations, among individuals.

The mismatch between purchase power and capital investment that Greer identifies will only happen if real wages are lowered. And that demands something more than plain free trade.

neocameralist scrap note #1

so, since I’ve been to embroiled in other stuff for far too long to actually finish the longer posts I have in mind, I’ll sketch a little thingummy here. this is mostly chaotic patching up, be warned.

first, priors: read these:

Neocameralism #1
Eight-Point Neo-Cam
Trichotomocracy
Casino Royale
Meta-Neocameralism
The Odysseus Problem
A Republic, If You Can Keep It
Quibbles with Moldbug

also, my previous discussions here, here and here.

in Land’s writing, I find these to be the essential pieces on Neocameralism. from top to bottom you get an ever increasing abstraction of the problem at hand. Under this techno-commercial view, a Neocameral state is a decentralized shareholder-managed republic.

to view this – and how the whole “absolutist monarchy” thing is more old-fashioned Throne-and-Altar reaction than libertarian-oriented NRx – you have first to think the original and fundamental role of a parliament: to control the king’s/executive’s budget. under neocameralism, this is formalized as the board of trustees, elected by the shareholders. shareholders have their votes in proportion to shares, which give them specific rights to dividends and/or profits, plus this minimal voice in the choice of management. this board of trustees/parliament overviews management’s/king’s accounting, by determining how much money gets invested in the sovcorp. much exit, minimal voice.

the CEO – which is a sort of elective, rather than dynastic, king – is appointed by this board of trustees. could it be otherwise? possibly. but choosing the best administrator usually means not following bloodlines or whatever. in appointing the CEO, as well, the board of trustees evinces it’s character of ultimate controller, or proprietor, of the sovcorp. the CEO can decide management policies, hire personnel, distribute its budget as she pleases. but ultimately, she has to turn a profit and pay dividends. otherwise shareholders flee, or simply remove her from office.

what’s been sketched so far are the legislative and executive powers in a republic. I believe Land’s main point in enphasizing so easgerly that neocameralism is more compatible with republican than monarchical tradition, is to show how the corporative structure present in most corporations are precisely isomorphical to those of a well-regulated republic. which is to say, an efficient feedback circuit.

nonetheless, for the feedback circuit to close, there’s yet a third power: judiciary. this is probably the most complicated, since it touches precisely in the central critique of NRx: justice, even as a power, depends on mind-control/morality. there’s much more to be said about this intellectual side of justice-systems, but let’s leave it for another occasion. my concern here is: how is justice, as a power, to be formalized under a neocameralist republic?

the answer seems to lie in common-law systems. private law, in short. the sovcorp provides the service of sovereign property, i. e., effective defense against external threat. in being so, it’s justice system can be privatized to competing judiciary agencies. the whole ancap thing: security agencies, police companies and private courts, with operations agreed by contract with their clients. the sovcorp duty to these companies – as well as to all others – is to make sure they don’t resort to violence amongst each other.

so, there is a sovereign justice system as well: a final court of appeal in the for of the sovcorp’s management (within whichever specific department it decides to charge with such duties). which was the king’s/executive’s role in most constitutional systems. (if I’m not mistaken, that’s even what Montesquieu proposes.)

justice, as a power, then, is placed in the hands of the market and this market will control the decisions of shareholders, to the extent that it’s their willingness to stay within the sovcorp’s territory and pay it’s fees that will turn a profit.

thus the circuit closes: shareholders elect board of trustees that control management -> management enact policies that increase or decrease the value of the sovereign property, according to the response of an internal market, thus controlling it -> this internal market, in it’s decision to remain or exit the territorial bounds of the sovcorp (and thus pay fees and make profit possible), controls the shareholders decisions. this is the ideal feedback circuit within a (non-democratic) republican system – and it’s the ideal feedback circuit within a neocameral sovcorp. it is this feedback circuit that ensures dynamic stability, in a systematic learning/discovery process (that can be automatized – but that’s already another post).

we can try and push this sketch model, to test it and possibly break it, and then improve it. nothing that can’t utterly fail can teach anything, after all.