red markets and the monetizing of justice

one lesson any libertarian has to have learnt already, from the many “Wars On…” that progressive governments waged across the centuries is that not only do they not eliminate anything perceived as evil, they strengthen it and produce even more entropic undercurrents. example on display: the war on drugs. cocaine, marijuana, etc have become more available, and mega-cartels are now sometimes bigger than their host societies.

I would go one step forward and say: prohibitions don’t ever work. a moral hunt backed by massive troops payed from taxes do not provide the right incentives to reduce the production and distribution of anything. quit it.

the usual counter-move is: “but what about, say, murder“. as if I was some kind of puritan who, in face of the name of the devil, would shriek away from anything. no, the prohibition of murder also doesn’t work.  what works is some incentive structure that produce an eugenic trend and thus reduces murderers in the long-run, irrespective of how many battalions are after murderers.

my suggestion – wait, and spit on me – is to put a price tag on everyone. it’s also usually called “life insurance”. the workings are simple:

  1. you hire a life insurance.
  2. if someone attempts of actually murders you, they have to pay a fine, proportional to your life insurance (plus due process fees, etc).
  3. behavior adapts to such state of affairs.

the same can be applied to pretty much every crime.

this helps internalize costs (you have to pay for your own security – the more you pay, the safer you are). it frees people from state dependency (you can choose to protect yourself). it eliminates criminal and unproductive lineages of people in the long run (sometimes insurance companies will pay rogue death-squads to eliminate “negative premium” people – those whose debts are above their insurance premium). it incentivizes people to work in security of others (they can gather the premiums of deflecting criminals), all the while economizing on police forces (who can answer calls now based on insurance premium values), and disincentivize would-be criminals, given both the prices in money and blood they can incur.

also, prisons become obsolete and useless. why lock people away and spend millions taking care of them, or putting them in make-work, when you can put a debt in their balances, black-list them on general records, and still have them free to do productive work? if they become unproductive enough to not even cover the cost of their behavior, there good incentives in place to eliminate them, in decentralized form.

seriously, monetizing justice may be the greatest social improvement since private property.

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.

fear. fear. fear.

the fall of Western Civilization is founded upon a total stupor, a paralysis based on the paranoia of an animal tired of being electrified.

the Puritan method worked too well until it failed.

the best way to avoid punishment is paralysis: “if I stay put, nothing will happen to me.” living death.

since capitalism hates it’s actuality, this is also the best way to kill it: the uttee suppression of the will to think.

electrify a child when she wants to create and you have just produced yet another civil servant.

fear. fear. fear.

a whole society, globalized by callous adventurers, killed by the trap of charitable discipline.
creative intelligence flees, gets the hell out. those that remain are rats in a cage.

he who is not in the frontier will die in the front.

first drafts on morality

first drafts on morality

morality is something complex. my relation with it is hard

in general, my first move is to retreat from it. morality can justify horrific things and be utterly useless given my determinist convictions. but then a problem occurs: these are also two very moral convictions. i believe in avoiding horrific things and in determinism because i ultimately think they are good.

damn. it would be indeed amazing to be able to be amoral. you know, just predicting you own future behavior and chilling. it isn’t, and here is the tragedy of human existence: we have to act, to choose, to decide what is good and bad.

so, let’s try and dig through this mess: what is good? what is right?

1) on a “meta” level, i believe the best thing is: everyone gets to decide individually and thus create their own morality. the archipelago model and the patchwork kinda-sorta work towards this. dynamic geography is the best alternative so far for the total individualization of morality.

2) given that, i would choose the patch/island which implemented most thoroughly the same principle, i. e., individual choice. so i’d choose somewhere which respected my choices and everyone else, conceded some private space for experimentation and generally didn’t meddle with individual choices within such private spaces.

the problem here are twofold: a) how to distribute private spaces? b) what about interactions between private spaces and individuals?

i believe a) is easily solvable with an occupancy and use standard, with differing rules for the end of property according to statistically measured “standard cycles of usage“. thus property is always being used for innovative ends, whilst speculation is granted for a while. this model still presents some sort of problem, given the desirability of renting stuff (mobility is nice), but i can guess you can uberize things so that rents become services (and so the problems are eliminated).

b) can be solved through the concept of consent.

here, though, is where morality gets really tricky. can consent be formally defined, as a specific procedure? it don’t think so, since it has blurry edges, but we can at least try some “family resemblance” trick and build from there.

what is consent? at its simplest, it envolves a proposition by party A to party B, and an explicit, reliable and definite positive answer by party B. “can i enter your property?” “yes” would be a perfect example.

the world is far from perfect, though. what if B is under (physical or moral or economic or weaker kinds even) coercion to say yes? what if B is lying (or otherwise the answer is not reliable) and won’t behave according to the positive answer he gave (by shooting the “invader” A, for instance)? what if B changes his mind afterwards? what if B is a child or mentally challenged? what if B is an animal?

ideally, all these questions would be answered in the contract both parties agreed to. in reality, this hardly happens and whole lotta of mechanisms and expectations get in play. what should one do in those? well, given the archipelago/patchwork, one should follow the positive law established at the island/patch, or leave. in current reality, only gnon knows. individual morality will prevail (and here i am already leaving the subject of morality per se, and delving into historical analysis).

what would i do? alleviate as much as i could the specific pressures/coercion over my contracting party, allow her to change her mind later at the cost of restitution of original property and a small fine, have means of defense in case of fraud (up to restitution and a small fine), and deal only with perfectly capable (human) adults (at least until animals, aliens or robots get into play by being able to consent explicitly, to complicate everything even more).

simplistically put, i am a libertarian (who worries about social pressures on individuals as well).