Showing posts from July, 2022

Bootnecking Modern Civilization

Modern civilization lifted “nature’s boot” off humanity’s neck. Nature’s boot, to put it simply, is the harsh struggle to exist. In nature, most organisms die without reproducing. That is necessary to prevent populations from exploding. It’s not the design of some benevolent creator. It’s just how things happen: populations increase until competition limits them. All species have the capacity for excess reproduction, so all species have the capacity for exponential growth. No species could evolve that does not have that capacity. Premature death prevents most organisms from reproducing, and thus prevents the exponential growth of populations. That’s the boot that modern civilization has lifted off humanity’s neck. In modern civilization, most children live to adulthood. For most individuals, life is not a desperate struggle to survive. Life is relatively easy. However, the removal of nature’s boot has created new problems. These new problems are counter-intuitive, because the human

Status Pyramid Schemes

“America First” is the latest right-wing movement to degenerate into an utter cringe-fest. This should not be surprising, because it is just another instance of a recurring pattern. Ideological movements are fashions. (Ironically, even “traditionalist” movements are fashions.) They are like pyramid schemes, asset bubbles, and passing trends. They arise by crowd dynamics, and they eventually collapse due to crowd dynamics. People are conformists, but they don’t just follow the herd. They want to be at the front of the herd, not at the back. Also, people don’t form one huge herd, culturally. They clump into different herds, and those herds compete. People want to be part of a herd, but they also want to stand out. People are complicated. From these complicated social desires, crowd dynamics emerge. When a fashion starts, it only appeals to a few people: those who really want to stand out from the crowd. If the fashion grows, it appeals to more and more people, because most people want

Answering Ancap Questions

An anarcho-capitalist named “Dennis” was commenting on my blog, and we had a voice discussion . As a follow-up to that discussion, he left some questions in a comment. I’m going to respond to his questions here. Do you think it’s just a fluke that every civilization converged upon rules that condemn murder theft rape and assault? Doesn’t that hint at some universal underpinning in our natures? Perhaps something to do with our mirror neurons, our herd/social natures and the empathic brain regions that are required for that? (Another example being our innate sense of fairness that even babies have.) Do you think it’s just a fluke that every civilization converged on a central authority to enforce those laws? No, of course it’s not a fluke. Every civilization has to solve the same problems of cooperation. And every civilization solved those problems with the state. Every civilization has laws that solve problems of cooperation. E.g. the law against murder solves the prisoner’s dile

Circles of Control and Freedom

Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage. — The Smashing Pumpkins, Bullet with Butterfly Wings After listening to the Adam Lanza recordings, I started thinking about different types of anarchism. For part of his short life, Lanza was a cultural anarchist. He believed that culture was imposed on people during childhood, by a process that he called “bullying”. There is some truth to that view. Norms of belief and behavior are imposed on children by a combination of censorship, indoctrination and incentives. Children are not “free” to develop their “own” beliefs, behaviors and identities. Instead, they have beliefs and behaviors imposed on them, and their identities are shaped by the social environment. However, Lanza’s critique of culture was one-sided and naive. He did not appreciate the importance of culture: that we depend on it to survive. He also believed in an idealized pre-cultural version of human nature, which he called the “feral self”. The truth is that human