Subject: The Future of Humanity

Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 14:40:25 GMT

From: mithril@iafrica.com (Grantland)

Organization: opinions international etc.

Newsgroups: alt.alien.visitors, alt.slack, alt.society.neutopia, alt.rock-n-roll.metal.death, alt.flame, alt.nuke.the.USA, za.flame, alt.prophecies.nostradamus

References: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5, 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10, 11 , 12 , 13

 

 

klaatu@clark.net (klaatu) wrote:

 

>Grantland (mithril@iafrica.com) wrote:

>: klaatu@clark.net (klaatu) wrote:

>:

>: >can you perhaps provide some functional reasonable alternatives that

>: >don't depend on divine intervention, complete re-organization of human

>: >nature, 90-percent or higher population collapse?

>:

>: I can.

>: ----------

>:

 

>I somehow suspect that I am going to regret saying this, but

 

>would you care to elaborate? <ducking bricks>

 

Hell, I've been rambling on this topic for months. Let's start at

the beginning by examining the FUNCTION of government, and exposing

the TYPE of government as inconsequential:

 

Proposition: The West is NOT wealthy because it is democratic.

Democracy is not the cause of economic success. Democracy

is the RESULT of economic success. ECONOMIC FREEDOM is the

cause of economic success, and, ultimately, Democracy.

 

Freedom is not democracy. Democracy is not freedom.

 

Gratuitous Hypothesis

 

- 1. Wealth-creation is always and everywhere a function

of freedom. By "freedom" is meant the ability to live

one's life without being pushed around by the state,

which has the primary function of guaranteeing security

and stabiliy.

- 2. The moral code of altruism, developed over the eons when

individual survival was possible only in a cohesive

community, and still subscribed to by most, stresses

solidarity, cooperation and mutual reliance. Given the

choice, most put freedom behind "social justice" and a

"caring" society.

Thus they remain poor.

- 3. Freedom is invariably imposed by wise elites - from

aristocrats and founding fathers to military juntas. The

USA might be the only exception, as a new and untamed

land.

- 4. Once citizens have experienced the exhiliration of freedom

and its ability to create wealth, they come to accept it,

immoral though its consequences strike them to be.

- 5. When most citizens are prepared to vote for freedom,

the bottom drops out of any elitest resistance to

representative government. Democracy the becomes inevitable.

 

Democratic countries are wealthy only because people vote for

freedom. They are democratic because their people can be trusted

to vote for freedom.

 

GOOD GOVERNMENT protects the borders, applies the law, and other-

wise keeps its nose out of the business of its citizens.

GOOD GOVERNMENT, not necessarily democracy, is what enables a

country to succeed.

GOOD GOVERNMENT is what poor countries should be aiming for.

 

postscript - Once freedom has made a country sufficiently wealthy,

(and usually, democratic), a reaction sets in. The moral code of

altruism deplores wealth disparities and pockets of poverty.

Welfare programs are instituted, freedom is circumscribed, and

decay sets in. The country begins its decline.

 

My contention is that economic success is a direct function of

freedom, provided that that freedom is constrained by just law. I

could cite you Adam Smith, Von Mises and Hayek, but it would be

boring.

Let me rather say the human creature is, indeed, an animal; and that

the human socio-economic system is, in fact, an ORGANIC ecosystem.

To meddle with an economy is, effectively, to meddle with the laws of

nature. "What about human laws?" you might say. "Isn't that meddling

with the laws of nature?" Not really. All animals have "laws" or

"rules" - usually set by a tyrant alpha. Humans used this system

until recently.

 

Economies are organic entities; they *grow*. People trying to

understand economics using linear-equilibrium approximations (which is

what everyone does), are not going to gain much understanding. What

is needed is a science that can model organic growth and complex

inter-relationships of cause and effect. The human animal has not yet

uncovered such a science.

You're going to tell me that this is just a "bald assertion".

You'd be quite correct.

What can I say? "The aliens told me".

 

Let's get empirical: Which economies grow the fastest - the ones

with the high or the low taxes? The more or the less regulation? The

ones with or without a welfare system? Take the dramatic growth of

Victorian Britain or nineteenth century America or Hongkong or

Singapore today, and ask those three questions. Then take some

unsuccessful countries, and ask the same questions. You might say

that growth is not everything. In economics, over time, growth is

*everything*. Compound interest, I'm sure I don't need to go on.

 

So the human econosphere is a Complex System which flourishes when

left alone, provided that there is a government that acts as a

security company to protect the borders and apply the law. Any

government meddling in the economy whatsoever is counter-productive.

 

Somebody disputed my understanding of the mechanism of wealth

creation:

 

> First of all, to my knowlege no one has ever explained exactly how wealth

>is 'created' other than being taken from natural resources. I've read

>Friedman et al, and if anyone knows of an explanation of wealth being

>created from nothing, please let me know.

 

Tricky concept. I don't think I've heard it explicitly explained

either. Let me see.. If one thinks of "wealth" as things - products,

then I should be able to explain how, through the mechanisms of

specialization, trade technology and capital, more and more "things"

can be produced by a given population.

Take a tribe of hunter-gatherers freshly settled down with

agriculture. Everyone's a poor farmer, a scrabbler in the fields.

Assume a government of liberty under law, unlikely as that might be in

the circumstances. First thing to take note of is that the tribe is

comprised of INDIVIDUALS, each with his own wants, talents and

ambitions. Everyone but a tiny minority wants to get rich - that is,

to have more "things" - a luxurious rug, a new chariot - whatever.

 

SPECIALIZATION and TRADE: Planting and harvesting grain by

increasingly skilled and practiced farmers produces surpluses of food,

which can be traded for things. More land is brought under

cultivation, more grain is produced from a given piece of land. Some

(eventually a majority) can barter the things they produce - shoes,

cloth, weapons, ploughs, lamps, fuel etc. for food. They have no need

to own or work a field. Indeed, historical circumstances are such

that most do not own land. They do, however, still need to eat. The

smart ones specialize in what they good at - they spend years learning

a trade - blacksmithing for example - and through dint of effort and

practice, become extremely good at what they do. A trained

(blacksmith) in an hour produces far more (nails) than a farmer could

in a day. It pays the farmer to buy his nails from a blacksmith,

paying in grain. The amount of grain he pays is less than what he

would have lost wasting a day trying to make his own nails. Thus both

the blacksmith and the farmer are "richer" (better off) than they

would have been without the specialization.

Trade, of course, is not confined to the community. Perhaps a

neighbouring tribe spends it time mining salt and tending bee-hives.

Another breeds horses. Yet another produces pottery. Every time a

trade takes place, every participant feels themselves to be better off

(richer) than before - otherwise the trade would not have taken place.

By specialization and trade, wealth has been produced. Each

individual has more and better "things" than he would have been able

to produce on his own.

 

TECHNOLOGY, CAPITAL: This, I think, is quite straightforeward. The

plough is invented, increasing the farmer's productivity. A new, more

durable metal, a more efficient method, a way of doing the same thing

with less effort or cost. New "things" come into being, and get

cheaper (in terms of grain outlay) as less and less effort is required

to produce them. The blacksmith has been consuming less than he earns

for years. He has accumulated CAPITAL. A steam-powered nail-making

machine is invented. He invests in one, perhaps borrowing some of the

capital from a money-lender. Now, instead of producing a hundred

nails in a day, he is able to produce ten thousand. He is able to

recoup his investment, increase his standard of living AND lower the

price of his nails (to the benefit of the farmer who buys them.)

Why does he lower the price? Because the blacksmith in the next

village (or county or country) is also selling nails, and he too

wishes to get rich doing so. They are in competition.

 

From here on it gets more complex, but the principles are the same.

 

I'm not an economist. Maybe I've missed something? Maybe someone

else can do better.

 

>: - 2. The moral code of altruism, developed over the eons when

>: individual survival was possible only in a cohesive

>: community, and still subscribed to by most, stresses

>: solidarity, cooperation and mutual reliance. Given the

>: choice, most put freedom behind "social justice" and a

>: "caring" society.

>: Thus they remain poor.

 

> This is inconsisitent. Altruism is different from co-operation, and a

>just or caring society would be altruistic. Individual freedom is not at

>all inconsistent with social responsibility, otherwise why have a draft

>for an army to defend it?

 

Sharing or selfishness? The group or the individual? Social

communalism or individual freedom? They're not at all compatible. I

don't understand the army reference.

 

>How does it follow that people remain poor

 

No wealth disparities = no rich people = no capital accumulation = no

investment.

No individual responsibility = no incentive for hard work or difficult

specialization = a laid-back community that is not industrious = poor.

 

>because they support social justice? Wouldn't third world countries have

>just and caring societies, then, instead of the opposite which is now the

>case?

 

"Just and caring" is also ugly envy and levelling; a hatred and fear

of excellence. It's the same thing. Just the words are different.

Of course there is rarely overt awareness of motivations in

impoverished 3rd-world communities. They are poor without knowing

why.

 

>: - 3. Freedom is invariably imposed by wise elites - from :

> aristocrats and founding fathers to military juntas. The

>: USA might be the only exception, as a new and untamed

>: land.

>Patently false. From the Magna Charta to the Declaration of Independence,

>history abounds with proofs that freedom is wrested from elites, usually

>by force. Military Juntas??? Is this a joke or a troll?

 

You're thinking of political power, not freedom, a common

misperception. Power is invariably wrested from elites, not freedom,

and the wresters usually want to use the power to get themselves

goodies - welfare, free education, pensions blah blah blah - rather

than freedom. The elites have the wisdom to know that freedom - that

is, capitalism - *works*, even if they are only safeguarding their own

interests.

Juntas? Chile, Taiwan, Korea. I rest my case.

 

>No more of this. The only point I see being made here is the difference

>between a political rant and a logical exposition. Unfortunately, this is

>representative of what now passes for political discourse in this nation,

>with its slums, its filth, its injustice and the wreckage of its ideals.

>A>L

 

Complicated issues. I should have done better.

 

Somebody else disputed my contention that an economy is an organic,

natural part of the eco-system:

 

>I ask a question: are you seriously suggesting

>that "economies" existed before humans did? And, if not, how can you

>support the Naturist ('law of nature') claim you make above???

 

"Economies" existed among Tyrannosaurs - and 1-celled algae.

"Economies" exist in the ratio of predator to prey; of population

densities; of scarcity and plenty. "Economics" is making a living.

In the human animal it envolves agriculture, technology,

specialization and trade. It is entirely natural for humans to do

what they do in order to improve their lot in life. By specializing

and trading amongst themselves, humans can produce (vastly) more than

they could by any other method. The natural diversity of talent pays

diversification; the right of ownership of one's produce pays effort

and diligence.

 

{BEGIN INSERT}

 

>In article <32650054.7DEE@julian.org>,

>Julian Palmer <julian@julian.org> wrote and quoted YoYo:

 

> [stuff about the "economies" of bees and ants]

 

>Bees and ants have no economies in the sense of the word you ascribe.

>Neither do termites or naked mole rats.

 

>Hive-dwelling bees and ants are eusocial organisms. They do not

>engage in an economy, no matter how seeming the parallel with human

>industry (even Aesop likens the bugs to people). Bee and ant colonies

>are better considered as single organisms comprising many individual

>cells. It makes no more sense to discuss the economy of a hive than

>it does to discuss the economy of your body's cells.

 

If one sees economics as "making a living" then you are wrong. If,

on the other hand, one sees economics as specialization and trade;

then you are wrong.

A hive is a SUPER-ORGANISM comprised of individuals; a human is a

SUPER-ORGANISM comprised of cells; an *economy* is a SUPER-ORGANISM

comprised of (humans).

 

When sentient bio-units (eg. humanoids) "make decisions", "excercise

choices" etc. etc. they act to improve their individual wellbeing. If

they must trade in order to do this (ie. lawfully "make money"), then

THEY ACT TO IMPROVE THE WELLBEING OF ALL THOSE WITH

WHOM THEY TRADE. Otherwise such trades would simply not take place.

In a money economy, this is essentially EVERYBODY ELSE.

 

Thus individual humanoids "making a buck" are working toward the

wellbeing of the SUPER-ORGANISM that is the economy in which they

trade. They are directly analogous (on a higher level) to the toiling

ants (or blood-cells) who derive "a living" from their own

SUPER-ORGANISMS by doing "what comes naturally".

 

A HEALTHY ECONOMY IS A WEALTHY ECONOMY

THE MORE MILLIONAIRES, THE BETTER

and other trite yet telling bromides.

 

Grantland

 

{END INSERT}

 

>To sort of re-ask the same question with different words: Who creates

>economies, and why? The twofold answer to this version, I think, would be

>"humans develop economies" and "to serve their physical and social needs."

 

Economies create themselves - spontaneously; organically. One (tribal

unit) has abundant salt but lacks hides; another has plenty hides but

lacks salt. What could be more natural than a trade, with the ratio

of salt-to-hide being determined by a zillion unknowable, unguessable

factors. Maybe tribe A has only a little surplus salt, Maybe tribe B

is particularly desperate for it. Maybe this; maybe that - who knows

what the "value" of a block of salt should be. It is worth whatever

the trade makes it worth, and each tribe is better off for it -

otherwise they woldn't have done it. That's "free trade".

The same goes for individuals trading their expertise as

axe-manufacturers (or weavers or teachers or nuclear physicists).

It's free, it's voluntary; it benefits both (all) parties, otherwise

they wouldn't do it. It is entirely natural.

 

>Since humans develop economies, for the sole purpose of serving their

>needs... why can't humans CHANGE economies if that is what suits their

>needs?

 

To CHANGE the natural process of specialization and trade is to impose

distortions. "I DECREE that 1 hide is worth 10 blocks'o salt!" "I

DECREE that nuclear physicists should be paid no more than double what

the labourer gets. It interferes with a natural, organic process, is

always and inevitably a sub-optimal solution, and the casualty is

always growth.

Who knows what the theoretical maximum for economic growth is.

Given flawless economic freedom and absolute stability, it's probably

a function of culture and intelligence. I would reckon that under the

right conditions, it could be 15% - 20%? In an already-developed

economy like the US, I don't know - 5%? 8%? I'm guessing. Certainly

much better than what currently pertains.

What has meddling with the economy ever done for humanity other than

materially degrade (and occasionally reverse) that theoretical

optimum? Maybe it has given an illusion of benefit. Maybe it has

benefitted special groups at the expense of the whole. Always at a

cost.

 

So maximum economic freedom under strong law is the optimum condition

for economic growth in the human econosphere, and the function of

government is to ensure that these conditions pertain. What, you

might ask, of welfare? What about the poor? What about the moral

argument that it is "our" duty to share our resources with these

unfortunates?

Here I present a radical moral argument:

 

mithril@iafrica.com (Grantland):

 

>> Hunter-gatherer tribal morality is essential Socialism - the needs

>>of the many outweigh the rights of the one: Share the Social Product

>>to fascilitate the survival of the tribe. Marxist-Leninism is a

>>system for taking and holding power to institute this tribal morality

>>by force. Its powerful appeal derives from this ingrained "natural" -

>>possibly even genetically-programmed system of morals.

>> Unfortunately, humanity no longer exists as tribal units. The tribal

>>morality is obsolete, dysfunctional, and requires replacement. A new,

>functional morality is required.

>| ...

>| FORGET about Socialism - it's Dead!

 

>Why don't you show the way by setting us an example?

 

> }"{ Gordon Fitch }"{ gcf@panix.com }"{

 

The existing Religious/Socialist/altruist morality was founded on

what may be termed "the tribal premise". Derived from eons of human

existence as small groups of hunter-gatherers, it can be summarised as

"One for all, and all for one". Economic success in a world of

individuals unknown to one another depends greatly on the ability to

defy this tribal premise. It is the societies that have developed

mytholgies (Freedom, the paramountcy of the individual etc.) to do

this, that have been able to advance, albeit always hampered and

handicapped by the prevailing morality. Societies still living by the

tribal premise (primitives, Socialists), have been far more severely

handicapped.

The tribal premise holds that no man may live for himself, that his

only justifiable purpose is to serve others, and that his highest

value is self-sacrifice for the good of "society".

By the tribal premise "selfishness" - that is, concern with one's

own interests - is evil. Being successful while others are hungry is

evil. Achievement, pride, joy and self-confidence are evil.

The tribal premise assumes a tribal chief (or, today, a government)

that owns the income, the property, indeed the very lives of each and

every member of the tribe. This chief can "priveledge" some and

"underpriveledge" others. It can "advantage" some and "disadvantage"

others. It can "empower" some and "disempower" others.

Naturally, working from such a premise, every member of the tribe

demands equal treatment, equal benefits, "equality". Every member

of the tribe expects to do his "fair share" of the work, and no more.

In return he expects his "fair share" of the Social Product, and no

less. If he is poor, he resents those that are better off than

others, and feels a genuine moral distaste for "obscene" wealth, which

(he believes), should be "redistributed". If he is wealthy, he feels

guilt. He is morally a Socialist, whatever the economic system he

lives under.

 

A functional civilized morality would reject the tribal premise. It

would hold that every man is an end in himself, and not just a means

to the good of "society". It would hold that the only thing any man

could expect from "society" is the freedom to improve his life to the

best of his ability, protected from criminals and from the state by a

simple, just and vigilantly enforced Rule of Law.

An old-testament flavour to the law would be simple, functional and

allow easy assimilation into existing religions. Essentially "thou

shalt not kill/steal/rape/covet/defraud/break an agreement, with the

other commandments moral, rather than legal prescriptions.

In modern terms, the tenets of such a morality might be as follows:

 

- All men are free, and each is responsible for, and answerable to,

himself and himself alone.

- No man or institution may initiate force against another, the sole

function of government being to prevent this.

- No individual may be regarded as a sacrificial animal for the good

of the group.

 

The political expression of this morality would be pristine liberty

under strong law - radical 21st century neo-liberalism.

 

So there you have your alternative. A morally justifiable, highly

functional system of minimal government enforcing a strong law (death

for murderers and rapists!) guaranteeing strong economic growth which

will, in any event, eliminate much of the poverty about which the

Socialists profess such great concern. The truly needy are helped by

private charity. The lazy have a tough time of it. The geniuses are

free to soar, and the general population prospers under stability, low

taxes and minimum interference.

 

***

 

Grantland