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Tim O'Reilly Steps In To Debate Open Government and Linux

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the hope-the-repository-doesn't-go-down dept.

Government 45

PatrickRIot writes "Aeon Magazine ran a longform critique of Open Source politics last week titled 'Open Sesame: "Openness" is the new magic word in politics – but should governments really be run like Wikipedia?' It referenced Tim O'Reilly and the man himself has stepped in at the bottom of the page for a detailed and lengthy rejoinder. 'I'm a bit surprised to learn that my ideas of "government as a platform" are descended from Eric Raymond's ideas about Linux, since: a) Eric is a noted libertarian with disdain for government b) Eric's focus on Linux was on its software development methodology. From the start, I was the open source activist focused on the power of platforms, arguing the role for the architecture of Unix and the Internet in powering the open source movement. ... One thing that distresses me about this discussion is the notion that somehow, if open government doesn't solve every problem, or creates new problems as it solves others, it is a failed movement. The world doesn't go forward in a straight line! The "open" democracy experiment of 1776 is still ongoing; we're trying to figure out how to use technology to adapt it to the 21st century and a country with a hundredfold greater population.'"

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45 comments

Warning: Beware of Sex with Eric S. Raymond! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42802617)

Anyone who has had sexual intercourse with Eric S. Raymond and/or uses Linux should go and get an AIDS test immediately!

Eric, known as ESR in certain circles, is one of the most sexually-promiscuous people in the Open Source community. For example, he’s currently sleeping with two unemployed Linux hobbyists on a regular basis who do all sorts of sick, depraved shit with him like shoving Twinkies up their asses so that Eric can suck the filling out.

Another instance of Eric's disgusting behavior is when he and his Linux losers held what is known in the industry as a “Linux party.” Think that means some kind of icecream social? Think again! One night, Eric held Linus Torvalds at gunpoint and almost choked him to death on a giant turd, after which he gained root access to the Linux code server. Eric likes to pistol-whip geeky programmers and get his penis and gun barrels licked clean.

Eric Raymond gives little regard to whom he sleeps with or what they may be infected with. His is a pathological obsession for attention caused by years of Linux programming and self-aggrandizement. When asked by a Linux user group to speak publicly at their next meeting, Eric ended up having sex in the bathroom with one of their members and throwing up all over the place. And let’s not even get into the time that Eric managed to shit into the brownie mix at a LAN party!

Eric also has surprise sex whenever he can. One time, he visited Rob Malda, the founder of Slashdot.org. After breaking into Rob's place, Eric was seen exiting the property house at dusk, throwing empty bottles of Jägermeister after what neighbors called a “loud night of moaning and fighting.” Rob allegedly suffered bowel-incontinence for the next several days. He certainly didn't post any stories to Slashdot for a while after Eric's visit!

Because of this kind of depraved, wanton activity Eric has seen “odd results” on his last several AIDS tests, but he insists that there must be a bug in their testing software. Maybe it’s running Linux?!

If you think retroviruses, gunplay, and herbal liqueur are sexy, go for it. As long as you tell Eric that you're a Linux user, he won’t turn you down.

Otherwise, steer clear of this walking Open Source sewer. Not only will you contract one of Eric’s diseases but you will have the shame of appearing on his list of one-night stands and Linux butthole rape. That’s not something anyone should want or be proud of—except Eric S. Raymond.

Re:Warning: Beware of Sex with Eric S. Raymond! (0)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#42802943)

...like shoving Twinkies up their asses...

With no more Twinkies for a while, I do hope ESR has stocked up.

Re:Warning: Beware of Sex with Eric S. Raymond! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42803049)

...like shoving Twinkies up their asses...

With no more Twinkies for a while, I do hope ESR has stocked up.

This is one of the few times that ESR's manic Libertarian-fueled survivalism has been to his benefit (by his own depraved standards, that is). The warren of hand-dug tunnels in the Montanan wilderness that serves as his sex dungeon, and which he calls home, is well-stocked with Twinkies (alongside stacks of Open Source CDs and hundreds of cases of JÃger).

GNU/Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42802649)

It sounds like you don't want to actually debate open source because it sounds like only Linux is on your radar VS including non-linux choices like FreeBSD.

Re:GNU/Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42804041)

Thank you for bringing this up.

A true libertarian would avoid commie-licensed software [freestateproject.org] like Linux.

PS: the guy claiming to be "esr" on FreeNode #libertarian(s) (I forget if the channel name was plural or not) is a jerk.

--libman

Comments (0)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42802703)

Some random comments after very quick skim of article
1) Politics is currently nothing but lies. Open/Free software contains no lies, compilation and testing can be done by anyone and always reveals the whole truth
2) Run a .gov like wikipedia. Uh huh. Whats the real world equivalent of the wikipedia deletionist a-holes? Yup, those guys with the snazzy uniforms again who star in all our video games. Lite up the crematoriums again baby!
3) Government is all about taking away and preventing. Stuff (such as free/open software) happens despite .gov best effort in opposition. Open/Free software is all about doing something (maybe on a meta level, doing something like a thermostat turning on a furnace "prevents" cold air, but we'll ignore this sophistry for now).
4) Politics = rigid hierarchy, what matters is power gained by position. Free/open software more do-ocracy power gained by fame.

Its hard to see a mix happening between such oil and water topics. You'd have better luck mixing hackers and ballroom dancers, or my little pony and slashdot.

Re:Comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42802815)

Free/open software more do-ocracy power gained by fame.

Hey, I've got some bundled mortgages to sell you. It's a dirt cheap Triple-A-double-plus investment open to anyone that believes open source is a meritocracy.

Perfect is a false standard (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42802725)

Way too easily used to justify doing nothing, or even just to oppose doing anything different than what's already done.

It's probably one of the more pernicious attitudes to be found, but ultimately it's an empty cause.

Not like wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42802761)

but should governments really be run like Wikipedia?

like Wikileaks

"Open" blah blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42802925)

There is something seriously wrong with the way the summary is written. It's next to impossible to mentally parse.

This happens a lot when Raymond and O'reilly are mentioned. I think it's because their statements are always vague and meaningless. I think it might be because the term "open" is vague and meaningless.

Breakpoint (1)

foobsr (693224) | about a year ago | (#42802933)

TFS: The "open" democracy experiment of 1776 is still ongoing;

From what I learned here it has failed.

CC.

How can you say Open Democracy? (1)

Grand Facade (35180) | about a year ago | (#42802939)

When our Korporate Overlords have secured a firm grip on the reins of this rocket ship that is plunging directly into hell?

Linux is not even a bump in the road. And Government will never be open.

s/open democracy/participatory republic/ (0)

Scott Michel (2833755) | about a year ago | (#42803031)

The United States is not an experiment in open democracy; the Founders established a participatory republic, along the lines of the "other" highly successful republic, namely, that of the Roman Republic. The Founders explicitly shied away from establishing a democracy for the simple reason that democracies do not scale beyond a small collection of city states. Had it not been for the endemic corruption within the Roman Republic and the entrenchment of a landed aristocracy (patricians), that republic would probably have lasted longer (note: that's a "five martini" debate topic -- go and discuss!) That's the brilliance of the Founders in finding a way to overcome the problems endemic to the Roman Republic to ensure that a republic can (and will) survive the predations of corruption. (Not that the United States hasn't had its own issues with various political machines, vis. Tammany Hall, or the predations of the early 20th century Progressive movement, but nothing is absolutely perfect.)

Open government? Democracy? That's a recipe for totalitarianism -- because only the strongest consensus builder can assert control to get anything done and few, if any, checks and balances can be imposed or enforced.

(Orwell was a conservative!)

Re:s/open democracy/participatory republic/ (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42803235)

That's the brilliance of the Founders in finding a way to overcome the problems endemic to the Roman Republic to ensure that a republic can (and will) survive the predations of corruption.

I'm kind of confused as to what brilliance that is, exactly. It's only been a little over two centuries and we've already got:

  • - Endless war
  • - Plebs vs. Patricians
  • - Hatred of foreigners
  • - Bread and circuses
  • - Absurd national superiority complex, going far beyond necessary pride in one's country
  • - Senators putting on good theatre and handing out grain to ply the mob
  • - Bribes in all the right places (we call them 'lobbyists', of course, much more genteel)
  • - Threats about those damned Gauls, I mean Communists, I mean terrorists
  • - Some form of slavery; to our credit, we did get rid of outright slavery, but migrant workers are far more politically correct, hey?

Of course, we don't have the sanguine entertainment of the sands, but the US is batshit about sports, and the Romans didn't have the options of Hollywood and Call of Duty to provide a virtual equivalent to bloodshed.

We really haven't solved any of the problems the Roman Republican had, except for keeping people fed. It'd be harder for a Caesar to rise up and drive a whole stinking mass of politicians out of D.C., but I'd argue the Founding Fathers pointedly did not solve that issue - they were absolutely against the idea of a standing army directly loyal to the Republic.

At any rate, it's still a damned better system than direct democracy, absolutely. Democracy sound great, and probably is great - until you find your behavior isn't liked by a simple majority.

Re:s/open democracy/participatory republic/ (3)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year ago | (#42807433)

- Some form of slavery; to our credit, we did get rid of outright slavery, but migrant workers are far more politically correct, hey?

Even better: the real slaves and/or low income jobs now don't even live in our Western countries anymore. Much cheaper to ship products in bulk or in containers to us, and leave the people in far away countries where different rules apply. Whatever way you twist that, the reality is still that there are different sets of rules for different groups of people. And the poorest work for the richest. If it is not exactly the same as slavery, then at least it's pretty damned close to it.

Re:s/open democracy/participatory republic/ (4, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year ago | (#42803239)

Nonsense. Read up on what a republic is, what a democracy is, the Federalist Papers (and read all of them, not just the 2 lines your favorite site fed you) and something about the context of when the constitution was written.

The US is a constitutional republic. Congratulations, so is France, Germany, China, Russia, the ex-USSR, Egypt, and a whole host of others. There is nothing more common than a constitutional republic in the world of national governments. What is also true is that the US is a representative democracy, a smaller subset of the super set of republics. This can be distinguished from direct democracies (which are also republics, and can be constitutional), or binding representation, (which are also republics).

Again, there is absolutely NOTHING special about the US being a republic.

The Founders explicitly shied away from establishing a democracy for the simple reason that democracies do not scale beyond a small collection of city states.

And if you'd read the Federalist Papers instead of just parroting someone else, they are EXPRESSLY referring to a direct democracy not scaling. After the initial definition, they just refer to democracies, while implying "direct democracies".

Open government? Democracy? That's a recipe for totalitarianism -- because only the strongest consensus builder can assert control to get anything done and few, if any, checks and balances can be imposed or enforced.

Congratulations. You discovered the principal flaw of democracy. You're only about 300 years late to the party. Voltaire has a nice discussion around what makes a ruler legitimate. You might want to look into it. Once you do, you'll also realize that the US was subject to the same risk from the day it became a nation, because it operates on exactly the principles you decry: openness in operation, democratic election of legislators and executives, and a requirement for consensus-building to operate.

Yes, it's just semantics. But it bothers me because the trend seems to be define things in such a way until only a very small and very vocal minority is allowed to participate in government. Of course, they do it because they are the only ones who truly understand how the founding fathers wanted to run things, and they are the only ones who can save the nation. Now where have I heard that before....

Re:s/open democracy/participatory republic/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42803537)

the trend seems to be define things in such a way

Mostly because when the government took the power to define things, it was for a good cause so nobody stood up to complain. The first time I remember reading about the government creating its own definitions, it was to throw the book at a pedo that copied a floppy disk of kiddy porn and therefore "created kiddy porn". Maybe it happened before then, but since then, Clinton got to define sexual relations, the FDA gets to define natural, and it keeps going downhill from there.

Re:s/open democracy/participatory republic/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42804411)

One has to wonder if it's easier to organize a direct democracy 300 years later.

Re:s/open democracy/participatory republic/ (1)

dabadab (126782) | about a year ago | (#42807417)

Actually the connection between republic and democracy is even looser than you seem to suggest: it's not just that a republic is not necessarily a democracy (or not) but a democracy is not necessarily a republic. Case in point, half of the EU is some kind of monarchy (Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden, etc) yet they are representative democracies.

Re:s/open democracy/participatory republic/ (1)

Scott Michel (2833755) | about a year ago | (#42815131)

Yes, there is something special about being a "republic" and being a "democracy". But that's an exercise for the reader to make the distinction between "government by elected officials" and "government by direct participation" in their own minds. Regardless, though, the United States is not an experiment in open democracy.

Regarding the context of the Constitution, prior to the Federalist Papers, there was Scottish Rite Masonry from which many of the principles that became the Constitution were bouncing around. So, in a way, the United States is the ultimate Masonic conspiracy (within the context of the first fourteen degrees of Scottish Rite.) [I'm really going to love the responses to this!]

Lastly, thanks for validating my point about totalitarianism. But you might want to be a little less condescending in the future.

I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 gov't (5, Interesting)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about a year ago | (#42803057)

We simply recognize that government by necessity must be limited. Think of government like a fire. I use fire to heat my house. By carefully controlling the fire and keeping it in a furnace, I reap the benefits (warmth) without suffering the ill effects (being burned or having property destroyed). If I didn't control that fire, my house would be destroyed. That doesn't mean I have disdain for fire or I hate fire, I just recognize that it must be controlled to be useful.

Government is exactly the same.

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42803177)

I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 gov't. We simply recognize that government by necessity must be limited.

Ahh, so I see now.. Libertarians think that Government By Necessity Must Be Limited.

How is that Position any Different than those adopted by such Parities as the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, or, forsooth, the Green Party? For I say, You Political Philosophy is as Vague as the Direction of a Fart.

- Ye Olde Style Anonymous Coward

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42804405)

How is that Position any Different than those adopted by such Parities as the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, or, forsooth, the Green Party?

Democrats are wrong about absolutely everything, or at least they would be if they actually believed what they are saying. They lust for power, which they wish to buy with stolen loot. With them fully in charge, USA would have the Economic Freedom [heritage.org] level of France or Italy at best, but it could fall as low as Argentina. This would obviously result in massive economic decline, and flight of brains and capital.

Greens are wrong about absolutely everything, and usually are too stoned to walk. One theory is that they are "useful idiots" planted to make the Democrats look less insane in comparison. The less is said about them the better.

Libertarians are generally right about economics and civil liberties, but wrong about geopolitics (peace with North Korea?!) and demographics [freetalklive.com] (i.e. a libertarian society would have the fertility rate very close to 0, which creates a lot of economic problems). Libertarians are a broad tent, and some understand the need for gradualism better than others. Some come to libertarianism through pure reason, and some simply have daddy-issues and don't like authority. The latter kind would be somewhat disappointed if they found themselves in a libertarian utopia, where most employers / neighborhood associations / private roads / etc will have strict contractual rules.

Republicans include the smartest 0.1%~ of the population, who ruthlessly apply the scientific method to all political questions, and have the best understanding of economics, geopolitics, technology, etc. Unfortunately USA devolved into a mobocracy (aka democracy), so, in order to gain any sizable vote, that rationalist elite had to stoop as low as to use religious and populist appeals. With Republicans firmly in charge, USA would be back in its original #3 spot on the list of countries by Economic Freedom, and more geopolitical problems (the hellholes on the bottom of that list) would be solved for good. The religious bullshit will be abandoned when it is no longer required, and Republicans will be understood to have been very similar to Libertarians, just better prioritized, more realistic, and more patient.

--libman

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42804645)

You seem to be making the classic mistake in political arguments of assuming that everyone has the same goals/values that you do and judging their policies on how well they achieve those goals.

Sorry if I am misrepresenting you, but you seem to consider maximizing Economic Freedom as one of the primary goals, if not the only goal, of the US government. Needless to say, this belief is not universal. Many people believe that civil rights or social welfare, for example, are higher priority. A stronger economy may lead to some of those goals in the long-term, but that is not the same as addressing them directly sooner. Worse, the goals of any political party are likely a compromise representing none of their members exactly.

Of course, a particular group's policies may not be the best way to achieve their goals but it is disingenuous to claim a group's policies are "wrong" because they do not achieve your goals.

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42812781)

You seem to be making the classic mistake in political arguments of assuming that everyone has the same goals/values that you do and judging their policies on how well they achieve those goals.

In my previous post I've stated what I believe motivates some people: political power, "free lunch", axiomatic liberty-worship, religion, Luddism, etc. What motivates me is the pursuit of objective truth, including a rational basis of ethics and law. Over the years this pursuit has led me many places I didn't intend to go, and would have been much happier avoiding... But it is what it is.

Sorry if I am misrepresenting you, but you seem to consider maximizing Economic Freedom as one of the primary goals, if not the only goal, of the US government.

The "Economic Freedom Index" is a crude measurement that tries to flatten many qualitative dimensions into a single linear scale. That said, it is fairly effective at capturing the fundamentals of how a country should be judged: individual Rights, freedom of contract, reliable rule of law, and not having more institutionalized violence than is necessary.

There are indexes that explore other dimensions of freedom [freeexistence.org] , but they are secondary. A clean-slate voluntary corporation-state like Singapore can limit guns, drugs, and even speech without being tyrannical - those are the rules that people agree to when they choose to come there.

Needless to say, this belief is not universal. Many people believe that civil rights or social welfare, for example, are higher priority. A stronger economy may lead to some of those goals in the long-term, but that is not the same as addressing them directly sooner. Worse, the goals of any political party are likely a compromise representing none of their members exactly.

Economic laws are as universal as the laws of physics. No matter what you* "believe" or how many votes you have or what deliberative rituals you perform, you simply cannot legislate that Pi == 3.0 or that murder is a-OK - those facts of reality exist outside of human influence. (*Note that rhetorical "you" is being used throughout my rant.)

You can either recognize them or fail to recognize them, and failing to recognize them has consequences, akin to trying to build something with an inaccurate understanding of mathematics. A society that fails to recognize Natural Laws will find itself dysfunctional and at a competitive disadvantage compared to a society that comes closer to recognizing those Laws.

Evolution, whether biological or economic, doesn't care for your wishful thinking.

"Nature, to be commanded, needs to be obeyed."

Of course, a particular group's policies may not be the best way to achieve their goals but it is disingenuous to claim a group's policies are "wrong" because they do not achieve your goals.

People should be free to work toward whatever goals they wish, but conflicts between people's desires can only be solved objectively. "You are entitled to your opinions, but not to your own facts." I cannot have a "right to have sex with a pretty girl" if she has a right to say no. You cannot have a "right to a free pony" if people who are to pay for it have a right to property. Full recognition of all Rights has never been possible before in human history, but there is a positive progression toward a rational ideal.

You can set up a voluntary commune on private land and Heil Marx till your heads grow together - as long as everyone (or at least all adults) are there by choice. The Right of the people outside your commune not to be taxed by it, the Right of the children to be emancipated upon reaching adulthood and have the option of leaving, etc are not matters of arbitrary opinion - they are the rational answers to these fundamental questions, as can be shown through rational philosophy, and any other answer is wrong.

Without a rational philosophy through which fundamental objective Natural Laws could be recognized, men would forever be slaves of priests and politicians. Fortunately at least some of us are capable of recognizing that there is a better way, with many philosophical theories and paths of Evolutionary Pragmatism leading to the same destination - the Non-Aggression Principle [wikipedia.org] .

--libman

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42806085)

What a nutjob you are, keep on keeping with your dillusions!

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42806585)

Do you actually think you are hurting me, by replying to my insightful post with a childish insult? You're only hurting yourself. Please try to understand that I don't require your approval. I don't want your vote. You need to tax me to pay for your system, but my system requires nothing of you. The little lesson, presented in my posts here, is an act of charity. When your ideas will lead to their logical conclusion, I will feel no guilt in taking advantage of your collapse. I've laid everything out in the open.

--libman

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42804111)

Government, by definition, is involuntary and functions outside of Natural Law. If you have voluntary institutions of governance, with force limited only to the protection of negative Rights, then they are no longer called "government".

Our current addiction to government needs to be phased out, with gradualist caution and intelligence, but that doesn't make government a good thing. Disdain is exactly what it deserves.

--libman

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42804233)

Since you like to play with definitions, think about how negative rights need police to enforce them.

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42806227)

Of course, but who says that the "police" must be a monopoly? [wikipedia.org]

Anyone who is willing can defend their Rights, or the Rights of others. Some would be paid, some may be unpaid - like open source developers, working for fun, fame, or just to beef up their entry-level resume. Some may be hired by individuals through "priority service subscriptions", some by insurance companies, some by neighborhood associations, etc. Catching thieves, rapists, and murderers is to the benefit of all rational people, as anyone could be their next victim.

And of course you must understand that "police work" would be quite different in the Digital Age that's rapidly upon us, with (among other revolutions) there being billions of networked live-streaming epic-def AI-coordinated cameras (or sensors that capture much more of the electromagnetic spectrum than just visible light), including in the sky and low-earth orbit. (Other censor technologies, mounted on hoverbots / underwater buoybots / etc can also monitor pollution liabilities and other externalities, and deal with them strictly as a Property Rights issue.) People would have live-streaming medical implants, with "panic" triggers that no attacker would be able to disable quickly enough. Private roads will know who is driving on them. Private heliports, whose stand-by security teams can reach any point in the city in literally just a minute. High-tech "defense-only" weapons pushing old-fashioned high-liability-cost guns out of the market. Etc, etc, etc.

Technology can make petty crime a thing of the past. (And, with no stupid prohibitions like the "war on drugs", much crime would disappear on its own. And there would be a lot less psychological strife with voluntary rather than forced socialization, like that of public schools. And a restitution-based justice system would make for a much more effective deterrent...)

If, however, political power remains centralized, then this same technology could work in the other direction, enabling a Big Brother tyranny on a massive scale...

Either humanity will evolve beyond the need for government within this century, or a mobocratic World Government will lead it into a Dark Age from which it may never recover...

--libman

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42806869)

So Might Is Right, then. Corporatocracy.

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42813743)

So Might Is Right, then. Corporatocracy.

No, the opposite of that, if by "might" you mean arbitrary violence.

"Might makes right" is what we have today; with trillion-dollar governments, some with nuclear weapons, having tremendous influence over the public opinion through control of schools and universities, media licensing, economic controls, "family law", "intellectual property" (not to be confused with real Property Rights), fiat currency, and countless other monopolies. Governments always have tremendously more influence on the mind of the voter than the voter can ever have on the government. Democracy is a propaganda tool, the ultimate "opium for the masses", fooling them into a belief that they are in control. Voting provides the rulers with useful feedback, like which puppets are the most popular, only strengthening their rule.

"Corporatism" [google.com] is what we have today - not because of "evil corporations", but because of the government whose powers they are encouraged to utilize. If some corporations try to swim against the current of government-created market incentives, they shrink and go extinct, and a less principled competitor inevitably fills the gap. Governments have tremendous influence on the marketplace, which powerful cronies can use to their advantage. Taxation and regulation gives benefits to large businesses over small, and old over the new. Cronyism is the result of socialism, not capitalism - it cannot exist without the power of the state!

In the free market, a corporation [aynrandlexicon.com] is nothing more than a voluntary agreement between individuals. This Web-site is a corporation, and so is a marriage, a Linux users' group, a not-for-profit as well as a for-profit business large or small, etc.

Large-scale voluntary cooperation (aka corporations) are the driving force of all modern progress. Do you honestly think that the only alternatives to corporations, which are "cottage industries" and Soviet-style manufacturing monopolies, could have given you smartphones and now self-driving cars?! The latter didn't even want to produce jeans lest their ideological power be threatened by them, and their cars (in spite of many designs being copied from the West) were nothing but a joke! [youtube.com]

The governments' power comes from a wide-spread delusion about its "divine rights", but no such delusion can ever exist around private corporations. No one would pay taxes to say Walmart for unwanted services! No one would let Citibank force them to use a currency that it can then devalue! Very few would agree to join Shell Oil's army, and probably at a very high cost. And the marketplace would never allow Toyota the construction of aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines (without paying tremendous liability / insurance costs, which would make the construction of such weapons, much less ballistic missiles, utterly impossible in a free market).

The power of governments is now gradually slipping away, in spite of democracy, and all thanks to technological evolution, which is powered by corporations world-wide, and which governments are powerless to deny. The Internet is a trap that governments had no choice but allow, and which they cannot control. For the first time, they don't know what to do about Wikileaks, Bitcoin, BitTorrent, Tor, or private networks beyond their reach...

Where evolution is headed, whether you like it or not, is individualism - that is the predominance of every individual's negative Rights [wikipedia.org] over his or her life! [isil.org] And reason, validated by Evolutionary Pragmatism, is the source of all Rights.

--libman

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42806015)

We simply recognize that government by necessity must be limited. Think of government like a fire. I use fire to heat my house. By carefully controlling the fire and keeping it in a furnace, I reap the benefits (warmth) without suffering the ill effects (being burned or having property destroyed).

The same could be said about corporations. Or about private property itself. Or about love. Or generosity. Or puppies and kittens. Or about any-freaking-thing!

Tell me one thing you, as a libertarian, don't think must be limited "by necessity". The wealth of the wealthiest 1% of your country, who possess the 80% of the country, perhaps?

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42806419)

We simply recognize that government by necessity must be limited [...]

The same could be said about corporations. Or about private property itself. Or about love. Or generosity. Or puppies and kittens. Or about any-freaking-thing!

The government is an irrational belief that exists in the minds of the overwhelming (but slowly shrinking) majority of people. This belief is that some class of priests, through some ritualistic exceptionalism, has a special right to get away with violence.

That is all government is - a supposed monopoly on violence.

It is unique among all human institutions.

If Exxon or the Wikimedia Foundation or a football team or Al Capone or Prophet Mohammad riding L. Ron Hubbard on a pogo stick came to your house and tried to "tax" you, pretty much everyone would recognize it as armed robbery. (And of course they'd do seemingly-benevolent things with the money once they got powerful enough - it would be in their own power-interest to do so. That makes no difference.)

But not when the government does it.

Because Gov is the new God.

Government is magic.

Tell me one thing you, as a libertarian, don't think must be limited "by necessity". The wealth of the wealthiest 1% of your country, who possess the 80% of the country, perhaps?

Do you think money is something that moneygods piss down on us from heaven, with a divinely-revealed commandment that it should be shared equally? That's bullshit. Study economics 101.

Wealth is created. It is a consequence of human thought and human action that brings materials into the human economy and increases their value. Human beings are not created to sing kumbaya; we are material beings and products of evolution. We are all subject to scientific laws, including the laws of economics on which all human-recognized Natural Laws, including Property Rights, are based. These laws cannot be bent to your jealousy, or whatever other emotions rule your petty political beliefs. Even if one person creates sextillions of units of material wealth, while sextillions of other people collectively fail to create a single penny, then that's what they should get to keep.

Inequality is a fact of life, and it will only increase as civilization moves forward. Some people create ideas that reshape our world, while others sit on the couch all day and accomplish nothing. There will someday be people who figure out how to mine asteroids, build solar reflectors in space, create antimatter propulsion engines, build thinking robots that build smarter thinking robots, etc... And there will always be people who think like cavemen (perhaps I've met some of them on this very site)...

This however doesn't mean that idiots would simply starve. As technology advances, the cost of living falls lower and lower. (Or at least it would in a free market - the government does much to keep prices artificially high, especially for housing.) Pretty soon even the worst idiots will be able to buy all the pot and video games they want while working part-time. And soon after that they'll be able to exist entirely on voluntary charity. Technology will make worries over mere survival a thing of the past - the poor always get richer, even as inequality grows.

--libman

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (2)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year ago | (#42806921)

The government is an irrational belief that exists in the minds of the overwhelming (but slowly shrinking) majority of people. This belief is that some class of priests, through some ritualistic exceptionalism, has a special right to get away with violence.

No, your reasoning is inverted. A better approach to understand this stuff is through motivations.

A sizable chunk of humanity has as its driving goal "having power". They will struggle to obtain power by any means available, that isn't something they chose to be, it's just what they are. And if you don't provide them the mechanisms to do this in a least damaging way, which is what a stable government with concrete prospects of power shifts by non-violent means is, you'll quickly find them doing it on their own in very damaging ways.

People with different driving goals are usually unable to understand how strong this one is, and as is typical for human beings try to reinterpret it in terms of their own different goals, thus reaching confusing and invalid conclusions. Libertarianism is a prime example. It is mostly composed of people with the goals of intellectual achievement and entrepreneurship and who are unable to understand either power thirst or, for that matter, stability seeking, which is what "workers" want above anything else. No surprise then they get to develop a well crafted utopic dream which can work provided those two cases aren't around, the only minor problem with it being that reality gets in the way by continuing to producing those two cases every single generation, no end in sight.

What Libertarianism lacks is balance. They have an excellent theory on how to create material wealth and should be commended for this. What they don't understand, and this is what clouds their mind, is that for the majority out there "material wealth" is of secondary importance, if not something they see as the "necessary evil" they must keep enduring despite their own best interests.

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42855289)

But it is precisely the government that empowers the vile people seeking power, by giving them an easy means to obtain it!

Throughout human (pre)history, the drive for violent power has been ritualized in various ways in order to reduce the bloodshed, which benefits the victims as well as the aggressors - you cannot kill a slave and have him plough your field tomorrow; you cannot win every battle, no matter how good you are, and be immune from a chance arrow shot by a weaker foe. This has resulted in many various traditions, including the "divine right of kings" / "mandate of heaven", "serfdom", "lebensraum", and of course "democracy" - majority makes right.

Perhaps the most fundamental example of "democracy" dates back tens of thousands of years, but has been observed in some backward places as recently as the last century - the warrior dance. Two opposing armies would meet on the battlefield, and, before throwing their spears at each-other, they would dance around, make fierce noises, and show off their moves. While this is happening, the chiefs would guesstimate their opponents' fighting ability, and decide if perhaps they should dance off the field without a battle, acknowledging the enemy's "right" to certain booty. With the evolution of the city-states, there was a perceived (and perhaps, at the time, actual) need for collective decision-making, so, instead of counting spears, other things were counted instead, to estimate who would win the conflict. When rifles became so affordable that every man could be presumed to have access to one, every man got the vote. And when women started working in the factories, and thus being a part of the war machine, they got their vote as well.

This ritualization is definitely preferable to all-out bloodshed, but it is violence nevertheless. Furthermore, with people being so desensitized to this violence, more and more decisions could be collectivized - instead of individual restaurants deciding whether to use trans-fats or ban smoking, for example, the whole state would decide collectively, with the minority opinion dancing away from the ballot boxes in "defeat". Of course very few laws are voted on by everyone directly, and the choice has always been between multiple evils - either you support the alcohol prohibition or you support FDR and the New Deal... This gives mind-boggling amounts of power to our supposed legislative "representatives", and that position attracts precisely the kind of power-hungry fiends that can do the most damage!

Take away this ritualization of violence, and what do you have? Perhaps some initial chaos, if you take it away too quickly, without giving people time to understand things and prepare. But what will happen in a society of people who are rational enough to RTFM, act in their self-interest, and can defend themselves from aggression to some degree? You get far less illegitimate violence, a lot more freedom, and a far better environment for economic growth. Of course most human beings are far from rational, but human nature is a moving target. As I describe elsewhere, technology forces people to be more rational, by making it ever-harder to deceive.

There of course are different forms of power - power over oneself, power over one's material surroundings, influence over other people through their consent, the justified power of a parent / guardian / crime victim over a child / dependent / documented criminal, and then of course there's unjustified coercive power over other human beings. All except for the last one are very good things, and constitute the engine that drives the human civilization forward - most people would be very happy to only pursue those. As for the other kind, otherwise known as criminals - this is why we need security cameras, prisons, and guns.

"Everybody wants to rule the world", but almost nobody wants to die trying (or spend the rest of their lives in a labor prison) - and those few idiots that would try would be very quickly defeated by the 7+ billion people who wouldn't want to be their slaves. Take away the magical beliefs, whether it is in Amaterasu or Karl Marx or the ballot box, and power becomes impossible to maintain or re-obtain. Then a power equilibrium [wikipedia.org] naturally emerges.

Tyrants will always emerge given the slightest vacuum of power, but under pure free market capitalism (and ONLY under pure free market capitalism) every tiny gap of power is tightly filled with Individual Rights.

--libman

Re:I'm a libertarian, we don't have "disdain" 4 go (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year ago | (#42870745)

"in a society of people who are rational enough to foo" / "under bar every tiny gap of power is tightly filled"

Your factual analysis is sound except for these two bits and their surrounding reasoning. These aren't part of a rational analysis of how thing really are and how to deal with reality as it is, rather they're the small dream bits from which one constructs an Utopia: a fiction describing how reality would be if this or that were so and so. Socialists have theirs too you know? "If only people were compassionate enough...", "If only people were willing to work hard enough...", "If only people were concerned enough with...", "If only people could see that..."

Sorry, but the world isn't like that. To develop any good proposal you must start with how things are, now how they "should" be, then plan according starting with the assumption of the worst possible outcome coming to pass, being the most pessimistic possible the squaring or cubing it, and working up and down from there. What if nudging thing in this direction has this all but absurd side effect? What if a charismatic leader arises and convinces all those people who don't WANT to know 'x' that they should do 'y' instead? What if...? What if...? What if...?

Utopists don't like to do that. Thinking all the ways their pet social engineering projects could go wrong and working with the whole set of potential effects isn't fun. It's like work, because it actually is work. Scientific work at that: developing hypotheses, testing them, fixing, going back, restarting. All of which while dealing with the fact they might be unintentionally wreaking havoc with the lives of millions or billions of people.

So, here's the actual scenario:

a) Society will never be composed entirely of people who are rational enough to foo;

b) Under bar only a percentage of the potential gaps of power will ever be filled, and of those percentage, only a subpercentage will be tightly filled;

c) Both conditions will fluctuate randomly around a median, developing always approximately into a bell curve, and from time to time moving even faster in either direction.

Now, plan.

Ugly, but as real as it will ever get.

Let the politics happen BELOW... (2)

Peter (Professor) Fo (956906) | about a year ago | (#42803573)

...But this is about a some high-profile person (activist if you like) being wrongly pigeon-holed by a space-filler for the purposes of winding up the libertarians, open-sourcers etc. etc.

Basically T O'R has confronted a troll. [Well done that man. Always stand up for what you believe in.]

Democracy is the last hope of tyranny. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42803999)

The only good government is a government that is digging its own grave.

--libman

Historical inaccuracy (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#42804505)

"The "open" democracy experiment of 1776 is still ongoing"

No, it isn't.

Democracy was not newly invented in 1776 - the rebellion in the American provinces came about because people, somewhat mistakenly, thought their democracy was being taken away, and they fought to preserve it.

And now that it's the 21st century we're pretty sure it works.

Re:Historical inaccuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42805889)

The rebellion came about because certain land owners wanted more control.

It was never about taxation without representation that was just a talking point for the hicks, along with scare tactics to keep them frightened, much like what Faux News does today.

When Franklin went to England to supposedly ask for representation, do you really think the founders would have stopped had the King acquiesced to that demand?

Nope! There would have been a new talking point thrown out to get the masses to rise up.

Looking at the big picture, the only thing that the revolutionary war gave us is a love of violence.

Look at Canada, they eventually broke free, non-violently, and are a reasonably peaceful country.

The US is a country full of armed, uneducated and fearful people. When 9/11 happened, nearly everyone rolled over and willingly and happily gave up most rights, as nebulous as they ever were.

America the dumb and cowardly. By design since 1776.

Re:Historical inaccuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42806539)

The rebellion came about because certain land owners wanted more control.

True. Yaay land owners wanting more control - of their own life and property.

It was never about taxation without representation

You've already contradicted yourself. Less taxation means more control. More representation means more control.

Looking at the big picture, the only thing that the revolutionary war gave us is a love of violence.

Unlike all those pacifist Europeans, peacefully colonizing Africa, starting up two non-violent World Wars, a few gentlemanly genocides...

Look at Canada, they eventually broke free, non-violently, and are a reasonably peaceful country.

True, but USA was of much influence on the British Empire, leading by example, and shaming them into making many reforms. You can't say things would have been just as grand for Canada, Australia, NZ, etc without the US Revolution.

The US is a country full of armed, uneducated and fearful people.

Yes, us uneducated hicks, with our inferior universities [wikipedia.org] , dismal R&D [wikipedia.org] , and total lack of innovation [wikipedia.org] ...

So fearful are we, liberating Europe from Fascism and Communism, and containing Ba'athism... landing on the moon... like a bunch of frightened sissies...

And of course only a coward would own a gun to protect his/her family in the (increasingly unlikely) possibility of a violent home invasion. A real paragon of courage would prefer to helplessly watch them be slaughtered...

--libman

tim's free book about frank herbert who wrote dune (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42805293)

Sure, Tim O'Reilly's famous, to us anyway, because of O'Reilly.com. But I first ran into him as the author of the best piece of science fiction literary criticism I've ever read. http://oreilly.com/tim/herbert/. Here is the book for free. Herbert, of course, is the author of Dune (and sundry sequels of progressively less value.) He also wrote oh at least 6 other sf books, full of ideas which O'Reilly explores.

- arbitrary aardvark

Having just read the original article in Aeon... (1)

whitroth (9367) | about a year ago | (#42812253)

...I have to say that it made points that approached, well, cognitive dissonance. Then I saw the author's position: asst. prof at the "Centre for Interdisciplinary Methologies"... which sounds like deconstructionist pudding.

I've known Eric personally for, um, better than 30 years (and have spent a fair bit of that time arguing or heckling him over politics amd guns), and to try to put his view in there with Tim O'Reilly, and anything resembling a working, representative government is saying that, oh, the Beatles, amelodic modern jazz, and Wayne Newton fit together becuase it's all music.

It's also like the neoConfederate tea partiers and the fascist current crop of non-tea party Republicans trying to argue that since Hitler called his movement "national socialism", that it was left wing....

                  mark

Re:Having just read the original article in Aeon.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42903267)

[...] since Hitler called his movement "national socialism", that it was left wing....

Things have been twisted in more ways than one...

(1) Hitler is the very text-book definition of a "right-wing" Nationalist Socialist [wikipedia.org] . His similarity to modern-day "left-wingers" is that they are also socialists, though with very different slogans and priorities.

(2) The left-wing (internationalist) vs right-wing (nationalist) dichotomy only applies to socialists. It started when socialists started fighting amongst themselves, and were made to sit on the opposite sides of some historical legislature. In equal circumstances, one "wing" is just as bad as the other. Other political philosophies, including libertarians like myself, don't belong to any "wing", but are entirely elsewhere on the multi-dimensional political map.

(3) Modern-day socialists have hijacked other terms, like "liberal" / "progressive" / "green". This is nothing but false advertising, and non-socialists should avoid falling right into the socialists' hands by using those terms. Modern-day socialists like Obama are the very antithesis of liberalism and progressivism! As for being "green", that's just the cheese in the mousetrap - on a long enough time-line the damage they're doing to the economy will do much relative harm to the environment as well.

--libman

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