First Principles: Parasitism is Bad, Cooperation is Good


Curt Doolittle
I start with parasitism is bad.

Erskine Fincher
You can’t start with “X is bad.” You first have to define your standard of good and bad, and before that you need to explain why one even needs a standard, and before that you need to explain how you are able to know any of that.

The problem isn’t that individual libertarians don’t have answers to these questions. The problem is that the Libertarian Movement itself is agnostic on the subject of foundational philosophy, because it wants to accommodate the widest number of “allies” possible, even if those allies hold contradictory opinions that undermine its position.

That’s why you end up with prominent cranks like Augustus Sol Invictus, and presidential candidates like Ron Paul, who want to restrict a woman’s right to abortion, and entire factions of states’ rights advocates who think that while denying individual rights at the federal level is bad, denying them at the state level is perfectly fine.

Curt Doolittle
Erskine, you absolutely can start with x is bad if x is the reason humans cooperate, and without x they won’t cooperate. Because the incentive to cooperate, and the disincentive to cooperate, are the first principles of all cooperation.
I used to think libertarian thought was fairly good, but it’s actually a half truth just like everything else.

Erskine Fincher
Why is non-cooperation bad?
What do you mean by cooperation?
What do you mean when you say that something is bad? What makes a thing bad?

Curt Doolittle

What makes non-cooperation bad:
1) disproportionately diminished productivity
2) deprivation
3) competitive incompetence
4) conquest
5) extermination.

What makes something bad in the abstract
1) dissatisfaction
2) deprivation
3) suffering
4) conquest
5) enslavement
6) death

Then we have the difference between oral statement and demonstrated action (common in all walks of life)

People say that they prefer something to the current state but demonstrate that they do not.

People prefer complaining about others rather than expending the effort to change their lot.

Libertarians prefer social democracy to libertarian society.

Demonstrated preference differs from demonstrated ‘goods’.

People demonstrate a preference for acquisition, inventory, and experience at all times.
What they demand comes at a cost. Yet they are unwilling to pay for it. So they do not clearly prefer it despite their protestations.

Erskine Fincher
I’m not going to go through each one of those. Let me just take one as an example of how you are not getting down to fundamentals. Why is deprivation bad? The Spartans considered it good. Christian monks considered it good. Deliberate self-deprivation has been practiced by lots of groups as a way of disciplining their desires. Is that bad? If so, why?

Curt Doolittle (lost post?)
Is it deprivation if you choose it? It’s only deprivation if you don’t choose it.

Curt Doolittle
Let me start it differently:
Why don’t I kill you and take your territory, women, goods, enslave your children? That is a good for me. Clearly a good for me. Why not?
(This is the Genghis Kahn argument that helps illustrate the fallacy of Rothbard’s Crusoe’s Island, and the existence of rights prior to contract.)

Curt Doolittle
(It helps to illustrate the difference between a personal good and an aggregate good. And while it may seem difficult to determine an aggregate good ‘by starting in the middle’ we then see that by starting at the first cause, limits the choice in the middle.)

Curt Doolittle So you’re saying that if I think I can kill you and take your things then that killing you and taking your things is a good. And that if I cannot that cooperating with you is the next best good?
And that boycotting you is the least best good?
There are only three choices right? Take, cooperate, ignore?

Erskine Fincher
Because the initiation of force is a violation of the principle of individual rights–a principle which supports your own life–and a negation of reason, which is man’s fundamental tool of survival, and that which undermines your survival cannot be good.

Curt Doolittle
Well no such principle exists unless we enter into a contract constructing it.
(CD: note that a ‘principle’ exists for the purpose of decidability)
So Why does Genghis Kan not just kill you, take your women, enslave your children, take your territory and goods? Why not?

Erskine Fincher
Does the Law of Gravity not exist if we don’t enter into a contract constructing it?

Curt Doolittle
it is ‘good’ for him to do so, in the sense that it is personally preferable. But the term ‘good’ does not mean preferable, it means a common good.

Erskine Fincher
You are confused about the nature of moral principles. They are not subjective social constructs.

Erskine Fincher
They are requirements for human life.

Curt Doolittle
We don’t create gravity but we create contract provisions. You are confusing a natural law of cooperation without which we cannot cooperate and gain the benefits of cooperation with the fact that cooperation is only beneficial when conquest is not more beneficial.

No they are not requirements for human life erskine, they are requirements for the construction of a division of labor.
If the Khan kills you and takes your things and rapes your women and then 15% of all asian people are his offspring then by any measure that is ‘good’ for him.

There are what, three men that most of europe is descended from? Clearly it was ‘good’ for them.

Erskine Fincher
Well, you’re wrong, but I can’t stick around to explain why. Need to get my shower and leave the house. I have monsters to slay, and worlds to save. Take care.

Curt Doolittle

(a) since there are only three choices conquest, cooperation, and boycott, of these, conquest the shortest best at the highest cost, cooperation longest at low cost, and avoidance at no cost but no gain

(b) cooperation is a good because the returns on cooperation are much higher than non-cooperation. (the Kahn did not kill and rob the Chinese because it was more profitable by far to tax them (just as it is for current governments).

(c) It is convenient to start (as does Hoppe) with the assumption of cooperation as a steady state. Whereas cooperation is a PREFERENCE, not a necessity, and not an assumption.

(d) the way we make cooperation preferable is to raise the cost of conquest, and maintain the disadvantage of boycott. In this way we create a world in which the only rational choice is cooperation. We do this through insuring one another against conquest and prohibiting one another from participating in trade with those who we boycott.

(e) But we must limit the harm done in cooperation, since man readily engages in parasitism under the cloak of the promise of cooperation: killing, harming, stealing, blackmail, fraud, fraud by omission, fraud by obfuscation, fraud by indirection, free riding, privatization of commons, socialization of losses, conspiracy, conversion, immigration, and conquest. So we construct property rights: so that we promise to insure one another against infringement upon them. Property rights exist as an insurance by a group to protect a range of property, that is a subset of possible property (that which I bear cost to obtain without imposing cost upon the inventory of others). So we insure one another.

(f) So the production of rights (mutual insurance) is and always will be a collective effort not an individual one.

BTW: It is beyond conceivable that I err. Sorry. And it might sound arrogant but it’s inescapable.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev, Ukraine

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