Foundation of Politics.Anarcho-Yakitalism Podcast

anarchy

I get into my foundation of politics. I’m not talking about the practical side of it, just the philosophical side. If people are to act freely without violent interference, this is what it might be like, or rather what it would not be like.

7 Comments

Filed under Philosophy, Politics

7 Responses to Foundation of Politics.Anarcho-Yakitalism Podcast

  1. Will

    Hi Nick,
    I hope we agree that an ideology is a closely organized system of beliefs, values, and ideas forming the basis of a philosophy. I know you were very clear about your purpose here (to set a consistent ideological foundation and avoid specifics). My intent was to suggest that ideological consistency itself is a problem and I provided some specific examples.
    An anarchist might say that a leader, for example, Kim Jong Un, isn’t the problem; the problem is the concept of leadership. From an eclectic or syncretic perspective, I am suggesting that specific, coherent ideologies aren’t the problem; the very concept of consistent ideology is the problem. My goal was to challenge your thesis that a consistent ideology or foundation is necessary and good. It’s not a particularly helpful critique for you at this point, but it’s worth noting that not everyone believes that the concept of ideology is a good thing.
    You’re right to worry about self-contradiction, not because it is inherently bad, but because it natural to fear the inevitable! Embrace what works and ignore ideological or organizational contradictions. If your symbol is the yak, make mine the platypus! 🙂

    • Nick

      Alright, I think I understand now. I’ll go through your comments and probably read this comment thread out loud in front of the mic. I’ll put your paragraphs in quotes.

      “Why is ideological consistency important? What good does it do? Is a simple adherence to pure rationality subject to the same problems as adhering to an ideology like anarchism, the non-aggression principle, communism, or capitalism?”
      Ideological consistency is important because it keeps us organized, and consistent. I find an inherent value in being consistent. It just makes sense. I don’t know what the problems of simply adhering to an ideology are.
      “History is absolutely chock-full of fools bellowing, “My country, wrong or right!” Insert tribe, religion, family, or political party for “country” and suddenly we see that history is composed of events driven not by rational actors, but by blind adherents to ideologies. Why not use the system nature uses to select the best system of organization and of physical form? Why not choose what serves our species and our individuals best regardless of ideology? For example, I don’t think the NAP would survive in the wild–not that there is any place other than the wild. Perhaps aggression evolved in humans for a reason. Maybe aggression can be rational in some cases and irrational in others. As long as we are not guided by an irrational ideology, perhaps we’re smart enough to tell the difference between irrational and rational aggression so we don’t have to agree blindly to never be the aggressor. ”
      History certainly has been driven by a lot of fools. But there have been many rational actors, Napoleon, Stalin, Churchill, Alexander the Great, Socrates, Plato, Confucius, John Adams, and many more leaders and philosophers have changed history by being rational. Fools are just tools, get them mad and you can change something. I don’t like the organization system that nature’s system has gotten us. I want to be free, the government does not let me. This ideology, anarchism, is what’s best for humanity. Aggression certainly had been evolved on us for a reason, a tool for survival. Once again, I’m not arguing whether the NAP is practical, maybe it wouldn’t survive, but wouldn’t it be better if it did? Aggression is rational when it is being used against an initiator of violence. Where else is it rational? That’s where the principle of self-interest comes in, use violence whenever you think it’s in your best self-interest, but there are consequences to your actions. If you aggress on me, I’m going to fight back.

      “Beware of any idea or ideology that requires universal (or near-universal) acceptance in order to fulfill its aims. Such a thing is fundamentally useless in human society and will cause conflict.”
      Getting into practicalities again. I’m just saying that we should do things that would benefit humanity if everybody did it. Of course not everybody is going to do it, Utopias don’t exist by definition. As I said in the show, we’re looking at a perfect world, we’ll get into pragmatics later.

      “In practical terms, imagine an American political party called The Rational Party. Let’s assume that liberal means “an ideology generally advocating a larger government,” while conservative means, “an ideology generally advocating a smaller government.” Let’s say the RP’s platform went like this:
      equal marriage (liberal)
      increased representation (conservative http://www.thirty-thousand.org/)
      rational voting (range or approval method, http://rangevoting.org/ no ideology benefits from this!)
      strong property rights (conservative)
      jury nullification for certain classes of crime (conservative)
      equal rights (liberal)
      absolute right to self defense (conservative)
      socialized medicine (liberal)
      unlimited gun/knife rights (conservative)
      strong environmental regulations (liberal)
      aggressive energy exploration (conservative)
      low taxes (conservative)
      few laws (conservative)
      legal drugs (liberal)
      small, efficient government (conservative)
      free markets (not favored by any party, apparently)
      peaceful foreign policy (liberal)
      strong local governments (conservative)
      no government subsidies for the rich, such as mortgage deductions, low capital gain taxes, caps on certain taxes, subsidies for personal jets, etc. (liberal)
      no government subsidies for the healthy, non-working poor, such as food stamps for people who refuse offers for work or who are overweight (conservative)
      accountable, limited local police forces (liberal)
      well-funded social services for the elderly and disabled (liberal)

      A party motto: “Do what works best.”

      Anyone could make their own list of what they’d like to see in American politics and it would be full of ideas that are both highly rational yet ideologically inconsistent. As a species, we’ve always confused rationality with ideological consistency. The fact is that they are not the same thing. Until we base our decisions on facts and evidence instead of feelings, hunches, folk wisdom, religious doctrine, the words of our leaders, superstition, tradition and party ideology, we’ll go nowhere as a nation.”
      Your points here are all about pragmatism. You have to be rational and consistent, I got to my ideology through rational means. Started with metaphysics, and built up. That was consistent reasoning, to the point where we’re at now. If people should be free, we cannot have government. I think what’s best for humanity is to be free, we can argue that point, but again, this show was not about facts and evidence for a reason. We certainly should base our decisions on facts and evidence, and we will get to that in a later show. Screw the nation, I’m an anarchist. How about the world?

      “Look at China for inspiration. After decades of enacting the stupid fantasies of Mao, they started acting rationally and they did what works instead of what fit the party philosophy. After injecting only a mild dose of rationalism, China went from steam-age to space age in twenty years! All they did was toss Mao’s stupid ideology and partially enact what has been proven to spur economic and social progress. The Chinese have even improved on the Western formula for economic and social progress in a very important way—they have refused to militarize or become engaged in external conflict.”
      I hate it when people site a nation’s economic and social progression and state for an example, what about the individuals? The people on the ground, let’s not collectivize this huge group of people, the Chinese. “they, they, they” who do you mean by they? Every single Chinese person? The government? The way the Chinese government is ran is not the very great. Tiananmen Square, Tibet, internet censorship, and more. Not an example of a free people. I just listened to an interview with a guy who went to China for school, it’s terribly impoverished in some places. I don’t care about how powerful the Chinese government is, I care about how free the people are. When we’re talking about what’s best for the people, I think we have different meanings.

      “I hope we agree that an ideology is a closely organized system of beliefs, values, and ideas forming the basis of a philosophy. I know you were very clear about your purpose here (to set a consistent ideological foundation and avoid specifics). My intent was to suggest that ideological consistency itself is a problem and I provided some specific examples.
      An anarchist might say that a leader, for example, Kim Jong Un, isn’t the problem; the problem is the concept of leadership. From an eclectic or syncretic perspective, I am suggesting that specific, coherent ideologies aren’t the problem; the very concept of consistent ideology is the problem. My goal was to challenge your thesis that a consistent ideology or foundation is necessary and good. It’s not a particularly helpful critique for you at this point, but it’s worth noting that not everyone believes that the concept of ideology is a good thing.
      You’re right to worry about self-contradiction, not because it is inherently bad, but because it natural to fear the inevitable! Embrace what works and ignore ideological or organizational contradictions. If your symbol is the yak, make mine the platypus! :)”
      This is the main point of disagreement I have with this argument. Ideological consistency is what works. And we will get into that another day.
      You and Jacob can start a platypus farm! Sell the eggs, that’d top yaks on the exotics scale!

      • Will

        I don’t think I implied anywhere that China is some kind of bastion of freedom and natural rights, or even that it’s a good place to live. All I meant was that China’s leadership took very clear and well-documented steps towards a rational, non-ideological form of governance after Mao took the great leap into the grave. The hundreds of millions of powerless Chinese peasants did not lead that change, nor did an individual; it was clearly, demonstrably Deng Xiaoping and a few hundred of his cronies. China is a much better place to live now than it was under Mao’s regime, which mercilessly adhered to a rigid ideology.
        There is a certain beauty to the efficiency of a military dictatorship—as long as one doesn’t actually have to live in one! I merely used China as a dramatic example of what can happen when ideology is rejected in favor of rationality. Interestingly, Chinese culture may be an excellent example of a culture that is fundamentally incompatible with Western individualistic ideology. For 4,000 years, the Chinese have idolized social cooperation and the suppression of personal will even more fervently than Westerners have idolized individuality for a couple of centuries. If ever there were a state that could legitimately be referred to as “they,” it is the Chinese.
        As for what’s best for the people, it seems I am flexible about that and you are not. If people are happy, or at least content, then whatever they are doing in terms of government, it’s working. I would literally rather die than live within the Chinese social structure and form of government. However, if I were provided with evidence that such a social system and government would actually make me and my family happier, I would not be held back by my American romantic individualist ideology. I hate to keep getting bogged down with China for an example (any culture highly different from our own would work) but individual subservience obviously works well enough for the Chinese—who have maintained a more or less consistent culture for far longer than anyone else on earth. Their culture has been proven inventive, creative, constructive, resistant to invasion, prolific, and dynamic. Not bad for a bunch of drones.
        I want to be sure I’m not whitewashing the situation there–I know the state of affairs in China well, as well as Chinese history. It’s still a very poor country, with squalid poverty, a capricious and oppressive government, poor schools, and horrible environmental destruction. Worst of all, the government has been wildly successful in adopting 19th and 20th century Western economic reforms, but they’re making many of the same mistakes made in Europe and the U.S. with regard to unsustainable growth and consumption.
        But, that’s mostly outside the point. Just for fun, I’d like to challenge again your statement that “ideological consistency works.” Sticking to an ideology has failed so many times in history that I struggle to find a historical event that isn’t tainted with the blind and foolish application of ideology. Nearly every historical mishap, large and small, began when when a rational, impartial analysis of the situation was rejected in favor of an “ideologically sound and consistent” course of action.
        I’d be honored to come on your show sometime. You’re doing really interesting work with this podcast and I wish more people would do this kind of thinking. I’ll be a devoted listener for as long as you keep it up.

        • Nick

          You didn’t suggest that China was a great nation, I didn’t think it was a good example of a situation where rationality was instituted rather than ideological consistency.
          I’m not flexible on what’s best for people because the current state of affairs and what’s been used in the past have not brought the best for people. I think anarchy would, there are a lot of other things that must change other than the lack of rulers, but anarchy would be a good step in the direction for the common good. Anarchy is what’s best for everybody because it’s freedom to do what you please, as long as you don’t harm others. If Chinese people want their collectivist and totalitarian society, they can have it. As long as they don’t force people to join. When you are forcing people, it is no longer good for everybody. It’s only good for those who get their way. Perfect anarchy is where everybody gets what they want. That’s utopian, yes, but the point of this show was to show a perfect world for an example of what we should try to get closest to.
          I will admit that being ideologically consistent with a lot of ideologies can be very harmful. But I’d challenge you to find an ideology, that’s followers have caused harm, that isn’t inconsistent on some level. It isn’t the idea of having consistent ideologies that’s bad, but people following inconsistent and bad ideologies. All ideologies that I have found using government power are in some way inconsistent and oxymoronic. I have a show hopefully coming out this week that should get into that.

          If you have a decent mic, Skype, and an interesting topic, I’ll let anybody on. I’ll email you about a show.

  2. Will

    Hi Nick,

    Great podcast, as usual. Here’s a highly disorganized bunch of thoughts that I had after listening. I hope I don’t come across as too critical. Let me know what you think of my arguments.

    Why is ideological consistency important? What good does it do? Is a simple adherence to pure rationality subject to the same problems as adhering to an ideology like anarchism, the non-aggression principle, communism, or capitalism?

    History is absolutely chock-full of fools bellowing, “My country, wrong or right!” Insert tribe, religion, family, or political party for “country” and suddenly we see that history is composed of events driven not by rational actors, but by blind adherents to ideologies. Why not use the system nature uses to select the best system of organization and of physical form? Why not choose what serves our species and our individuals best regardless of ideology? For example, I don’t think the NAP would survive in the wild–not that there is any place other than the wild. Perhaps aggression evolved in humans for a reason. Maybe aggression can be rational in some cases and irrational in others. As long as we are not guided by an irrational ideology, perhaps we’re smart enough to tell the difference between irrational and rational aggression so we don’t have to agree blindly to never be the aggressor.

    Beware of any idea or ideology that requires universal (or near-universal) acceptance in order to fulfill its aims. Such a thing is fundamentally useless in human society and will cause conflict.

    In practical terms, imagine an American political party called The Rational Party. Let’s assume that liberal means “an ideology generally advocating a larger government,” while conservative means, “an ideology generally advocating a smaller government.” Let’s say the RP’s platform went like this:
    equal marriage (liberal)
    increased representation (conservative http://www.thirty-thousand.org/)
    rational voting (range or approval method, http://rangevoting.org/ no ideology benefits from this!)
    strong property rights (conservative)
    jury nullification for certain classes of crime (conservative)
    equal rights (liberal)
    absolute right to self defense (conservative)
    socialized medicine (liberal)
    unlimited gun/knife rights (conservative)
    strong environmental regulations (liberal)
    aggressive energy exploration (conservative)
    low taxes (conservative)
    few laws (conservative)
    legal drugs (liberal)
    small, efficient government (conservative)
    free markets (not favored by any party, apparently)
    peaceful foreign policy (liberal)
    strong local governments (conservative)
    no government subsidies for the rich, such as mortgage deductions, low capital gain taxes, caps on certain taxes, subsidies for personal jets, etc. (liberal)
    no government subsidies for the healthy, non-working poor, such as food stamps for people who refuse offers for work or who are overweight (conservative)
    accountable, limited local police forces (liberal)
    well-funded social services for the elderly and disabled (liberal)

    A party motto: “Do what works best.”

    Anyone could make their own list of what they’d like to see in American politics and it would be full of ideas that are both highly rational yet ideologically inconsistent. As a species, we’ve always confused rationality with ideological consistency. The fact is that they are not the same thing. Until we base our decisions on facts and evidence instead of feelings, hunches, folk wisdom, religious doctrine, the words of our leaders, superstition, tradition and party ideology, we’ll go nowhere as a nation.

    Look at China for inspiration. After decades of enacting the stupid fantasies of Mao, they started acting rationally and they did what works instead of what fit the party philosophy. After injecting only a mild dose of rationalism, China went from steam-age to space age in twenty years! All they did was toss Mao’s stupid ideology and partially enact what has been proven to spur economic and social progress. The Chinese have even improved on the Western formula for economic and social progress in a very important way—they have refused to militarize or become engaged in external conflict.

    • Nick

      There’s no such thing as too critical, this podcast is all about skepticism.

      This show is continuing the principle of building a foundation for each branch of philosophy, in order to be consistent in our discussions about everything else in the world. Otherwise our ideologies don’t make sense. Our foundations have to match up, or it doesn’t make sense. That’s an a priori truth, our ideologies should be consistent otherwise we are wrong somewhere, law of non-contradiction. But I don’t think you’re arguing against that, you’re arguing against the idea that we should remain consistent in our politics. Your example of the Rational Party, taking what works best from the liberals and conservatives and putting them together instead of being consistent with party lines. I did not dispute your point in this show, I see no argument here. I’m making a moral and ethical plea in this show, you are talking about pragmatics. My ethical foundation is to do what benefits yourself, and I think that which benefits yourself the most will almost always benefit everybody else. My show with Scott Kersey on ethics gets into that. This show on politics was taking an ethical foundation that is very similar to the one I hold, and I agree with both. “People should be able to act in their self-interest freely, without violent interference from others”. I took this ethical foundation for the show instead because “do what you perceive is in your self-interest” is too basic to make an ideology on politics, it needs more. The foundation of the NAP is just building on top of the self-interest principle. I believe it’s in our best interest to follow the NAP, because if everybody followed it, it would be a good thing. I’m not talking about the practical side of this ideology, as I made sure to repeat in the show many many times, so that I would not have questions about what works best.
      In short, these are good and interesting points, but I am not ready to address them on the show. Be patient, I will talk about pragmatics someday.
      I am not trying to convince everybody of my ideology in 1 show, this is an evolution. Learning takes time, as you know. We have to build foundations, we have to take steps, and we are not at the step of addressing practical issues with our political foundations on this show. I will put this comment in my notes for when we do start talking about practicality in politics, and I invite you to come on and do a show to talk about these critiques when we do so.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Nice one Nick and thanks for the plug!

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