Monday, January 19, 2009

Libertarian Labeling and Stereotyping

The last time I commented on Polycentric Order, I decided to do a critique of the "vulgar libertarian" concept. When I saw the term "vulgar libertarian" showing up on many of their previous posts, I eventually decided to give a shot on my objection to the term. After posting my criticism, the audience reacted furiously, winning the "troll of the year" awards. I think that I deserve the blame for not expressing my intentions clear enough.

Since then, in the midst of the confusion, at the risk of losing my prized, and patient, subscribers of my blog, I decided to overcome the miscommunication. The deteriorating post quality here, as you all may know, presents a significant barrier to rational understanding.

From time to time, we post these little, obnoxious, "anarcho-semantic" ramblings. This time, we will attempt to "solve" the mysteries of the "left"-libertarian game.

This article contains seven different sections, with each section devoting to an entirely distinct motive. To start the article, we will focus on our introductory section with FSK's comment that I did never reply. Second, we will investigate the logical fallacies that David Z. and BrainPolice have put in action. Third, we will began a rambling section discrediting the "troll." Fourth, we find an amazing confusion in BrainPolice, as well as other market anarchists, has attempted to "refute." Fifth, we will show that I am not paranoid in believing that some of the "left"-libertarians have played Devil's Advocate into conspiring a propaganda show. Sixth, we will argue that I am more "left" than even of the most vocal "left"-libertarians on the net. And finally, we will analyze the confusions between different libertarian circles.

You cannot arbitrarily interpret the non-aggression principle

FSK has posted in the past few months about the state.

Violent protests are a waste of time, because the State has superior resources. Violent protests create sympathy for the State, and violent protests are a violation of the Non-Aggression principle.

I disliked FSK's statement. I commented claiming that no one can interpret the non-aggression principle. FSK responded that "You are a troll" without any given explanation.

I criticized his statement because, as said above, that no one, can "interpret the non-aggression principle." It is impossible, to "interpret" the non-aggression principle, because it begs the question. To determine if an action constitutes aggression, one should define if the action constitutes an aggressive act or not. It is circular reasoning to "interpret" that a violent overthrow contradicts non-aggression principle, while at the same time the non-aggression principle defines defensive overthrow of the state as non-aggressive.

You can only define actions that falls into aggressive and non-aggressive types, not interpret these actions.

Let us say if some consider libel and defamation as aggressive acts. They will therefore interpret the non-aggression principle incorrectly, claming that libel and slander as aggressive acts. In order to resolve that, you have to define the non-aggression principle to tolerate libel and defamation. Murray Rothbard defined slander as a non-aggressive act in his Ethics of Liberty.

There exists multiple interpretations of whether a violent overthrow of the state constitutes an aggressive act. Some would say no, arguing that it is justifiable to use defensive violence to overthrow the criminal organization. They argue that it is their right to self-defend the statist aggressors, in proportion to the damaged they caused. Some others would say yes, it contradicts the non-aggression principle, since they interpret the non-aggression principle differently.

In summary, FSK should have defined that the non-aggression principle forbids aggressive overthrow of the state, not the other way around. It is circular reasoning if you did the latter.

I am not a "Vulgar Libertarian"

Let us say that you showed an argument to me. If I criticize the accuracy of a few specific details in your argument, you might apprehend that I reject the general idea of the argument. But I will respond to you that rejecting to specific parts, such as specific facts and inaccuracies of an argument, does not imply that I reject the "general idea" of the argument. You might, however, see my rejections of the specific parts of your argument, as strawmans to the "general idea." We will call this behavior the "double-strawman fallacy."

I have experienced the double-strawman fallacy in many cases. At one time, David Z. posted an example of the monetization of debt, showing the value of the dollar falling down. I responded to a specific factual inaccuracy, that the consumer price index (CPI) does not accurately represent the valuation of the dollar. David, however, thought that I rejected the "general idea" of his argument that the value of the currency has gone down. So he deleted my comment. But due to the double-strawman fallacy, David thought that my criticism of the CPI made me reject the "general idea" of the whole blog post, in which I actually believed the opposite.

Let us go back to BrainPolice's blog. I responded to his usage of "vulgar libertarian" in his most recent article at that time, because I get confused over his definition of "vulgar libertarian." BrainPolice used the term "vulgar libertarian" in his post entitled Positive and Negative Liberty:

BrainPolice said: In this context, a libertarian can consistantly [sic] advocate concepts such as mutual aid and cooperative management. This usually devolves into vulgar and thin libertarians denying the reconciliation vs. neo-artistotileans [sic] and left-libertarians defending such a reconciliation.

I do not know how BrainPolice defines the term "vulgar libertarian." I critiqued his usage of the term "vulgar libertarian." I did not mean to criticise his whole statement quoted above, only his usage of the term.

BrainPolice used the double-strawman fallacy when he criticized my "vulgar libertarian" statement. When I respond to BrainPolice questioning the definition of the term, BrainPolice assumed that I disagreed with the "general idea," of the statement, that "mutual aid and co-ops are consistent with libertarian legal theory." Just because I questioned the "vulgar libertarian" concept, it does not mean that I oppose his overall statement. In fact, I recognize the right for anyone to mutually aid one another and to form co-ops, and I even believed that co-ops may sometimes benefit the workers.

Am I a "Troll"?

I do not understand trolls. I do not understand how some individuals will purposefully make "false claims" to "provoke" responses. I do not understand why the "troll" will waste his time writing posts to provoke responses.

Usually, most of the people who are identified as "trolls" are not actually trolls. They did not intended to cause conflict, nor did they intended to post false information. Most of the time, the ones who accuse others for trolling will disagree with the "troll's" opinions so strongly that the troll seemed to intentionally make false claims. Even if the "troll" is just sharing his honest opinion on something, when others disagree with his opinions so strongly as "fringe," the other people will get an illusion that the "troll" is really intentionally making "fringe" statements, just because they disagree with his opinions so much. This occurs frequently. For most of the time, I see many people getting identified as "trolls" when their opinions are just "fringe." The trolls are just sharing an opinion that the majority of the users disagree. If there is no opposition party or some defenders of the fringe opinions held by the "trolls," even a small minority can convince everyone on the message board that he is a troll.

Neither do I understand how some will get "offended" by messages posted by "trolls" or messages that seemed to contain errors. Why wouldn't the individual simply ignore the messages posted by "trolls" if they do not want to get offended? I do not understand how just some text displayed on a computer monitor will get people offended.

Additionally, I do not understand how the "troll" likes to "mischievously" "force" others to respond to the message. If the "troll" thought that he is actually being "mischievous," then wouldn't he just feel guilty of "abusing" everyone else? Wouldn't his guilt encourage him to not "troll" on message boards anymore?

An objection to the above statement is that he is just a "psychopath" who does not feel empathy or guilt for his actions, so he can mischievously "provoke" responses continuously. This argument seems a rightful objection, since in reality there are some people who behave like that. But in my experience, the vast majority of the cases of accusing others for being a "troll" is wrongfully convicted. The "troll" is just sharing his opinions that happens to be "fringe" for the majority of the users, and when there are no opposition party or defenders of his "fringe" opinions. Therefore, the "troll" who is honestly sharing his opinions will get wrongfully convicted simply because the majority disagrees with him.

But there exists some objections to the above statement. Some will say that they can tell whether a troll is "indeed" behaving "mischievous" or not. However, as we discussed above, many individuals have an illusion that the troll is being "mischievous," merely when they strongly disagree with his opinions. Often, people mistakenly see a person as behaving "mischievous" or intentionally "provocative" simply when we disagree with his opinions. We call this cognitive bias the "dissident-troll bias."

Due to "collective reinforcement" of everyone on the message board, the one posting "fringe opinions" will more likely to be identified as a "troll," simply because more people are disagreeing with the "fringe opinions".

My point is that "trolls," are wrongfully convicted in the majority of the cases. Anyway, let us go back to the topic.

I cannot even discern the reason why would anyone spread "fringe" ideas around the web in the first place. It does not work, others will ignore the messages, and it wastes the time of the person.

BrainPolice on "Economic Rent"

When I criticized the market anarchists' assumption that "economic rent" will fall to zero, BrainPolice replied using the red herring fallacy. Red herring fallacies are common when debating with someone else using words that have multiple definitions. In fact, BrainPolice fell on exactly that. He did not even know what "economic rent" means. The terms "economic rent" and "rent" mean completely different concepts. BrainPolice got confused with "economic rent" with "rent," so he interpreted my statement as "market anarchists oppose rent." He preceded, as usual, to refute that claim.

BrainPolice thought that I was criticizing Benjamin Tucker's prediction that rent (in the non-economic sense) will fall to zero. However, I was actually writing about economic rent, not rent.

If you look up "economic rent" in a dictionary, you will find the meaning similar to the "return on investment" from a capitalist's deterred time preference.

To prove this, Benjamin Tucker had actually rejected economic rent. Market anarchists also seemed to have a incorrect view of economic rent. They predict that non-entrepreneurial income earned by firms will fall to zero. While market anarchists correctly reject that rent would fall to zero (in the non-economic sense), they seemed to have a confusion on economic rent, as the mutualists did.

Homesteading abondoned property according to the Lockean theory is logical, but many self-identified market anarchists support some kinds of "homesteading" that might cause shortages. For example, they may oppose rent for some kinds of land and apartment buildings. Their belief is based on historical examples of feudal societies steal in the disguise as "rent."

Feudal societies do not compete so they can collude to set rent. But due to today's many land owners, it is almost impossible to form a cartel to set a high rent price.

However, in non-feudal societies, land should not be "homesteaded" while paying rent. If the society prohibits rent, then the owners would not offer the service in the first place. For example, if apartment rent is prohibited by "homesteading", then investors would not have the incentive to build apartments for people in the first place. "Homesteading" an apartment is a form of rent control, so it would cause shortages.

If people are freely to "homestead" arbitrary land, numerous questions arise. How much land should they homestead? If they mixed their labor with large pieces of land, should they allow it. What is the maximum of land can they possess? They can "cheat" by homesteading" large amounts of land by just using their low quality labor. Thus, no land is available.

Land, like other resources, are a natural resource. Therefore, they are limited to constraints. In order to perform the best use of land, land should not be "stolen" to allow marginal utility.

Murray Rothbard has proved that the price of rent equals the value of the good divided by the natural interest rate. For example, one rents a good priced at $1000 per year and the natural interest rate is 5%, then the actual price of the good is $1000/0.05 = $20,000.

This is an effect of entrepreneurs. If an entrepreneurs see that he can build an apartment at $20,000 and later get $1000, he might do it. But his decision is based on other stuff. It is equivalent that if he knew that he can also invest in a bank at interest by lending $20,000 and receiving $1,000 one year later as interest (at a rate of 5%). If his estimates that his interst from investing in apartments is greater than $1000, he would invest in apartments, and if it is the other way around, he would invest in a bank.

Going back to the apartment example, would a person actually pay $20,000 than rent $1,000 per year? They are equal, and the person can choose to buy it at $20,000 then sell it later or pay $1,000 per year.

If that person is poor, he would actually borrow $20,000 from a bank at 5% interest to buy that apartment. He has to pay back $20,000, plus the 5% interest, which totals $21,000. Thus, lending from a bank to buy the apartment and renting the apartment $1,000 every year costs the same amount of money.

Utimately, abolishing rent would leave the poor person without an apartment because he does not want to take the risk of borrowing that much and/or if the bank does not approve the loan.

Thus, it appears that the self-identified market anarchists do not understand the relationship of interest and rent.

Another consequence of "homesteading" land is the lack of knowledge. If an entrepreneur is buying unused land to build a football field, would he allow others to steal? If the field is unoccupied, others would pollute it. What if he dumps garbage on unused land to prevent theft? That would encorage them to malinvest such as polluting the land to prevent theft or building extreneous houses on land to prevent intrusion.

David Z., had refuted the market anarchist misconception that non-entrepreneurial corporate income is "unnatural." At my blog comment to BrainPolice, I was just trying to make similar criticisms about the market anarchists' objection to economic rent, as David Z. did.

It was actually my fault that I did not define "economic rent" at the time of my writing. I should have defined "economic rent," since lots of individuals do know what "economic rent" is. Anyway, however, I correctly claimed that the market anarchists' object to economic rent.

I am not Paranoid

I have a long-time suspicion that the "left"-libertarians are trying to redefine capitalism and anarcho-capitalism to the way they want it to mean. When I criticized BrainPolice of attempting of doing this, he said that I was wrong.

Anarcho-Mercantilist said: I see BrainPolice and Brad Spangler attempting to redefine anarcho-capitalism as a vulgar, conservative, political and feudalistic plutocracy. BrainPolice tried to deceptively redefine anarcho-capitalism by writing an article that emotionally associates anarcho-capitalists with conservatives. That trademark tactic did not work for me. I still consider myself as an anarcho-capitalist.

BrainPolice said: Nonesense. [sic] Your continual attempt to portray me and others as engaging in a propaganda campaign when we are merely logically extending libertarian principles is a joke.

If the "left"-libertarians aren't truly trying to run a propaganda campaign, then why do they claim that we should normatively redefine capitalism and anarcho-capitalism as a fascist, plutocratic, and paternalistic theology? Why should redefine the terms, when we can use them as-is, as in the dictionary definitions?

Why do the "left"-libertarians go through all of this? (I do not mean all "left"-libertarians):

...and so on...

All of these above links have articles written by people who want to normatively change the definitions of capitalism, anarcho-capitalism, and the rest of the terms that they dislike. They do not give any explanation of why we should adopt theses new definitions for these terms. The best that they can argue is to go through some historical and ancient definitions of these terms. The historical meanings, however, have since changed since then. So is now proper to use these according to the dictionary definitions.

If the "left"-libertarians say that we should normatively do that, and in this case, redefine the terms, then they are handling them as trademarks. They are exactly doing what the trademark owners do: they want to redefine and "purify" the definitions of these terms to what they want to mean. All trademark redefinitions are, indeed, propaganda campaigns. So it is illogical to argue that redefining capitalism isn't a propaganda campaign, while doing this with trademarks is propaganda.

I liked B.K. Marcus' observation that capitalism is historically defined as the "private ownership of the means of production." Most dictionaries, and including Karl Marx, basically define capitalism that way. The anti-capitalists oppose capitalism simply because they oppose the private ownership of the means of production.

Iain McKay, the main author of An Anarchist FAQ, even defined capitalism the usual way, as the "private ownership of the means of production." McKay posted on Usenet that private property will result in huge disparities of wealth.

It is also strange that the "left"-libertarians like to use the term "free market" when at the same time they object "capitalism." The term "free market" has just about the same meanings and connotations as "capitalism." I do not understand why they go contrary on these two terms.

This is proof that most of the anti-capitalists simply oppose the private ownership of the means of production.

I am more on the "left" than the "left"-libertarians

If I used BrainPolice's definition of "vulgar libertarian," then paradoxically, I am much less "vulgar" than most of the self-identified "left"-libertarians.

For example, IMHO, David Z. seemed to have more "vulgar" personality than me. For example, David Z., a "left"-libertarian, acted like a "vulgar libertarian" when he unconsciously defended the U.S. health care system by denying that U.S. already has socialized health care. Even though he opposes the U.S. health care system, he did never mention the corporatist privileges of the U.S. system. He denied that the U.S. already has socialized health care in his blog post.

I posted a critique of the "vulgar libertarian" concept, as promoted by "left"-libertarians', on another one of my blogs at Proprietary Anarchy. It seems as though the "vulgar libertarian" concept has no meaning to it, since the "left"-libertarians call me as a "vulgar" libertarian when they, themselves, have more "vulgar" tendencies. Therefore, I was curious on how the "left"-libertarians define "vulgar libertarian." So I asked BrainPolice to define the term "vulgar libertarian." But according to his definition, I am, indeed, less "vulgar" than most of the "left"-libertarians.

IMHO, I am also less "vulgar" than John Petrie. John once "defended" the recession as a "natural" "correction" on a blog post. But the recession isn't any "correction" at all. The recession would not occur if the state suddenly became abolished. Therefore, this "recession" isn't a "correction" of the economy, but is caused by continuous taxation and regulation of the economy. If the state suddenly vanished, this recession will turn into the largest economic euphoria in history. But the criminal orginization currently hampers the potential boom into a recession. So there isn't anything "natural" about this. I have already discussed about this in my 15 Mistakes by Austrian Economists post.

I have also refuted John's prediction that the collapse of the U.S. auto industry is "natural". I commented that the auto industry will expand in a free market, because there would be no taxation and regulations that hamper the expansion of the auto industry. Even if the state currently privileges the auto industry, auto industry will expand even more of the state is abolished. This is because there will be no criminal levels of theft and barriers to entry for potential automobile manufacturers in a free market. Because individuals will also be at least five times richer in a free market, individuals would buy more automobiles that would expand the industry. (By 'auto industry', I mean the auto industry in general, not the Big Three cronies.)

These is one reason of why I object to identify myself as a "left"-libertarian. The "left"-libertarians join alliances with the anarcho-collectivists. The "left"-libertarians arrogantly claim that I am more "vulgar" than them, even when, as shown above, that this is entirely the opposite.

If you want to see how should the terms "left" and "right" be defined, then go look at the article called Normative Semantics of Left and Right. This article actually defended the "left" if you used the term "left" correctly. But I still do not identify with the "left" because I reject the whole political spectrum.

Because no formal definition of leftism and rightism exist, people often criticize the other wing using the equivocation fallacies. Left-wingers criticize the right-wing's cultural conservative stereotype when the right-wingers criticize the left's economic stereotypes. They do not even argue about the same thing. Often, the left and right will randomly switch the definitions of the terms to mean one of the above stereotypes, and result in a confusing, convoluted argument with no concrete definitions of the terms left and right.

The real way to avoid the equivocation fallacy, as suggested by Overcoming Bias, is to taboo your words. For example, instead of saying "I oppose capitalism," we can do it in a better way such as "I oppose the private ownership of the means of production." Instead of uttering "I oppose 'left'-libertarianism," I can say "I oppose allying with the libertarian socialists" or "I support the legal possibility for the existence of corporations in the anarchistic legal system."

Kevin Carson misinterpreted my position about the legality of corporations in a free market:

Carlton Hobbs recently challenged the tendency of mainstream libertarians, free marketers and anarcho-capitalists to favor the capitalist corporation as the primary model of ownership and economic activity, and to assume that any future free market society will be organized on the pattern of corporate capitalism.

I did never regard that the corporate legal entity would function as the predominant model in anarchy. I do, however, defend the legal possibility of such legal entity existing in the free market. Actually, I envision an anarcho-capitalist society as radically different than the current fascist state.

I predict that self-employment and small enterprises will function as the predominant business model in anarchy. The median worker will earn five times more wealth, especially without the interventions such as the apprenticeship system, regulations, legal barriers, and extortion. Many workers will become so much wealthier that they can afford to invest their own capital. In a free society, the prevalence of authoritarian management will shrink to virtually nonexistent. Workers will have greater autonomy, and will have a working environment similar to independent contractors. I speculate that interest rates will fall, and innovation will greatly increase.

Semantic disagreements do play a role in every branch of science, not just in political ideologies. The anarcho-capitalists and mutualists would have more in common if we had resolved many of the semantic barriers. This does not, however, mean that anarcho-capitalists should defend, support or even ally with mutualists. Not even close. My opinion is that semantics do play at least some role.

Some "left"-libertarians get "offended" by the word "capitalism" because some mutualists, who ally with Rothbardian "left"-libertarians, oppose the private ownership of the means of production.

Brad Spangler did indeed conspire a propaganda show when he advocated "General Semantics" to make definitions more appealing those who oppose the private ownership of the means of production.

Anyway, I hope this is the last time I make a post on semantics. This is getting tiresome! Let us refocus our energies in countering the real enemy: the state. Forget about this conflict, and let's start our agorist revolution!


David Z said...

The statement "David, however, thought that I rejected the "general idea" of his argument that the value of the currency has gone down. " seems to imply that we had some discussion about the topic. In this case, I vaguely remember a discussion that went like this:

You: "The CPI is not accurate"

Me: "The CPI is biased downward, so the fact of the matter is that the reality is even worse."

As far as I recall, this was the extent of the discussion. If there was more, it's possible you got caught in Akismet spamfilter, but highly unlikely. That brief discussion is not particularly noteworthy, but it should not have been deleted. The only thing I delete is spam. Is it possible we had the discussion here, or on another forum?

I've had several discussions with you, A-M, in the comments thread at my blog and elsewhere. I do not recall any specific instance of deleting *any* of your comments (or anyone else's, for that matter), if I did, then I must've deleted my own response, too.

anarcho-mercantilist said...

David, I apologize for my mistake in my post. Thanks for notifying it.

David Z said...

FYI - I found the post containing our discussion: