To Nassim Taleb re: A Decline in Violence is Not a Decline in Predation – But A Shift. 


(re: violence)

I’d like to add an economist’s point of view: that the use of the term ‘violence’ is obscurant. (In my lexicon that is equivalent to pseudoscientific).

Humans engage in a vast spectrum of parasitism whenever possible, and in production only when easy or necessary. Parasitism can be performed by violence, theft, fraud, fraud by omission, fraud by obscurantism, imposed cost by indirection, free riding, privatization of commons, socialization of losses, conspiracy to extort, by normative conversion, by immigration, asymmetric reproduction, conquest, and genocide.

Conversely, mutually beneficial, productive, warrantied, fully informed, cooperation by voluntary exchange is, by contrast, a very narrow field of human activity in a vast spectrum of parasitism.

Over the centuries we have increasingly abstracted assets (that which we seek to consume by parasitism), from the physical to, fragments of a value chain, to mere numerical promises (accounts), so that violence is almost useless as a means of obtaining wealth. However, the volume of predation and parasitism performed by violence, is currently performed by various forms of pseudo-scientific and pseudo-moral fraud instead of violence.

But the parasitism remains.

Humans are open to coercion by only three technologies: Gossip(religion and morality), remuneration(trade, credit, tax and redistribution), or threat of violence(law,military). Although at any times some people specialize in some axis of coercion (public intellectuals:gossip, government:violence, corporations:purchasing influence.)

So if we have exchanged parasitism via violence, for parasitism via pseudoscientific fraud (which is one aspect of what I believe you are investigating), then the form of parasitism has changed, but not the parasitism itself.

We might argue that some form of parasitic equilibrium is actually some sort of Pareto optimum. But that is very different from saying that parasitism no longer exists, or has decreased.

So as far as I am able to tell, net change in parasitism is zero, or perhaps as some people argue, we have seen a dramatic increase. It is just that we have created sufficient technology that our parasitism by pseudoscience does not injure production as much as parasitism by violence does.

Furthermore, all the great syntopical historians have, as far as I know, come to the same conclusion: that since 1945, the Pax Americana is only paralleled by the Pax Romana.

I argue rather frequently (as do many historians) that all economic measures since 1600 are little more than the reflection of the distribution of consumer capitalism, accounting, and rule of law around the world at the point of British gunships.

So to address violence instead of parasitism, is to blind one’s self to the rest of the spectrum of human criminality in order to congratulate one’s self on having invented a more effective form of crime.


Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev, Ukraine.

Source: Curt Doolittle – Nassim Nicholas Taleb (re: violence) I’d like…

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