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Friday, April 04, 2008

As Problems Go…

As problems go, this one seems pretty small. “Lloyd’s of London warned yesterday that an absence last year of natural disasters or man-made accidents was putting pressure on firms to reduce premiums in 2008.”

While I’m sure that a certain class of investor is a little worried, the rest of us are breathing a sigh of relief.

The problem with Putin’s request to “be friends...and engage in an honest dialogue” is that I don’t think he’d like what we have to say about his view of Russia or our post-Cold War international relationships. Frankly, he can take the entirety of the arctic circle (minus valuable natural resources, of course, which would have to be removed carefully beforehand) and shove it up his KGB-lovin’ butt.

I"m going to guess that’s not the kind of honest talk for which he was looking.

The problem with this is that it’s stupid. Which is Kenny Wright’s problem, too. Stupid. Which isn’t really unusual--the stuff gets all over the place if you aren’t careful.

The problem with wealthy, young socialites these days is that so many of them are intent on the dignified, smart use of their privilege, skills, intelligence, and wealth to support their philanthropic efforts, truly hoping to make the world a better place. Oh, wait, that’s not their problem at all. Their problem seems to be something else entirely.

Sorry about that.

The problem with pirates is that they aren’t much like that lovable, funny, yet desperately in need of some personal hygiene guidelines Captain Jack Sparrow. Which, if you look carefully, is also the problem with failed states (and, if you look even closer, the problem with fetishizing anarchy--but that’s a long conversation for another day).

The problem with today is that I’ve got a lot to do and no desire to do it. Which, as problems go, is a big one for me but not so much for you.

Just sayin’.

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Let me just go on record that I don’t see any problem with 23 year-old models exposing their boobies. Really, the only problem is it doesn’t happen in my presence.

I suppose, these days, that eating library paste is right out.

on Apr 04 2008 @ 01:28 PM

The political situation in a failed state DNE anarchy.

on Apr 05 2008 @ 10:38 AM

Didn’t say that it did. In fact, didn’t say what way the problems are similar at all. Note though that the pirates are from Somalia--a failed state that descended (and has mostly stayed) in a state of anarchy.

on Apr 05 2008 @ 04:26 PM

That’s exactly my point: Somalia is in a state of lawlessness and rule by gangsters, and that’s not the same as political anarchy. Not even close.

That the popular definition of anarchy is “Cats and dogs living together!” is one of the things that makes it difficult for anarchists (and I’m not one… not quite) to be taken seriously. The black masked, anti-corporate assholes that smash in the windows of a Starbucks every time the G8 come to town don’t help, either, but suffice to say: Those guys aren’t anarchists, they’re dicks.

on Apr 06 2008 @ 02:59 PM

Here’s the definition of anarchy that I was working with: “a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority.” That seems to fit Somalia perfectly as long as we’re defining “authority” to mean rule of law by some government or government agency (which covers anarchy in the big, collapsed government sense and anarchy in the little, idiots smashing windows in the Starbucks sense).

I can see the definition of anarchy in the political sense as absolute freedom of the individual in the face of absence of organized government without the loss of the trappings of civilization, but I have two problems with that definition. First is that I can’t think of any real world examples of an absence of government that also went hand-in-hand with anything other than disorder, and, second, is that I think that the reality of lack of government typically is and always will be militias, strongmen, and a general populace that just tries to get by while learning how to duck and lower their expectations.

The examples of anarchism that I’ve seen (like the American old west) were all replaced by one form or another of bog standard government because citizens preferred that to the lawlessness of the anarchy and moved to build a government. That could also be seen as an extension of the typical idea of social contracts used by citizens to fill in for the lack of government--as the social contracts grow, they probably tend to become “government.”

I’ve also seen praise of the 18th and 19th century pirates as being an example of how anarchy can succeed--an example I find even more laughable given the violent (even oppressive?) nature of the endeavor that brought them to a workable social contract.

I also happen to remember, although I can’t find the articles, some anarcho-libertarians or anarcho-capitalists from a few years back that praised market solutions in Somalia as an example of how the market can provide services that some people assumed it took governments to regulate. In that case it was specifically in relation to cheap cell phone service (I think Somalia’s cell phone services is the cheapest in the world, although I could be wrong). The authors, to be fair, did not point to Somalia as a good example of political anarchy, but wanted still pointed to that as a win. I can’t remember if I read it at Reason (I don’t think so) or a blog (I think so, but I can’t find any links).

Anyway, from my point of view talking about that perfect, political anarchy is a little like talking about that perfect implementation of communism: there isn’t any such beast on record and it defies the nature of humanity to expect it to work the way the theorists imagine.

To be fair, though, I am no expert on political anarchy because I simply don’t take it seriously. So I might be missing some nuances or instances of workable political anarchy that makes it all make sense--if so, what flavor of anarchy, how does it happen, and how does it sustain itself? And those bastards who protest IMF or G8 meetings often consider themselves anarchists (think primitivist and anarcho-communists), so what makes their self-identification as anarchists any less meaningful than someone else who has a different view of what anarchism as a political movement might imagine?

on Apr 06 2008 @ 07:44 PM

You’ve just summed up (better than I could) why I’m a minarchist.

on Apr 06 2008 @ 08:08 PM

Which is a position that I completely understand.

on Apr 06 2008 @ 08:21 PM

I remember the Somali mobile phone service stories. Brief mention at Wired. Also an article at Liberty Unbound mentions The Economist. But I don’t recall, either, where I first heard of it. Lew Rockwell’s site would be a good candidate.

The anarchist crowd like to mention that anarchy does not equal chaos. Strictly speaking that’s true, as anarchy refers to lack of organized government. Human nature being what it, however, the results are typically chaotic.

Medieval Iceland is generally considered to be the closest example we have of a successful an-cap society.

I don’t understand Somalia well enough to comment on whether it’s truly in a state of anarchy. Probably, that hinges on what you consider to be “government”. Thugocracy reminds of tribalism. Or perhaps dictatorship, on a micro-level. Dictatorship is generally recognized as a type of government.

For the record, I’m a minarchist as well. (Big surprise, eh?) But solving the question of how much law is needed is a tough nut to crack.

on Apr 07 2008 @ 11:09 AM
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