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donnywithana

Group Anarchy

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This is an outline to an essay I'm working on. I'd appreciate any discussion that you all could provide, because I know a lot of you are going to have some problems with the terms I use, and I want to make sure that everything is adequately defined.

Apparently a • is a first level bullet, a o is a second level bullet, a  is a third level bullet, and then they all repeat. I know that's going to be very confusing, but hopefully it'll be intelligible.

Thanks to anyone willing to take the time to look through all of it!

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Introduction

• Definition and identification of terms required

• Nations disagree on basic premises

o It is necessary to identify the exact disagreement

 Groups usually agree about most things

• Concept of inalienable right a vestige of divine law

• Groups unsure of boundaries

o World policing commonplace

o Imposition of agreements between groups is tricky

o Implicit group of “the human race” leads to obvious problems

• Use of force is the fundamental alternative to rational discussion

• Individuals claim rights that conflict with the rights of others

I: Right and Wrong

• A: The Nature of Nature

o Natural law

 Laws can not be broken by any entity

 Only objective laws are physical, natural laws

o All organisms are consumers

 Lion eats antelope; antelope eats grass; grass “eats” photons from sun, water, and minerals (even the sun eats hydrogen)

o Consumers can not produce their own food, but matter exists and can be changed to benefit a consumer

o Consumers must use resources in order to continue to exist, with whatever regard for the treatment of their resources that they can afford

o Evolution

 “Good” is whatever helps an organism survive longest and reproduce the most

 “Bad” is anything that contributes towards death or hindrance of “good”

o Anarchy

 Natural state

 No laws besides objective laws, only philosophy applies

• B: Resistance to Consumption

o Relative Good

 What is good to one entity can be bad to another

o Sacrifice

 Exchange of greater value for lesser value

 Always bad

o Force

 When one entity consumes another entity, the consumed entity might be forced to sacrifice

o Empathy

 The degree of empathy one feels towards its resource will determine how they behave towards it

 Empathy largely subjective

• C: The Nature of Groups

o Cooperation, trade

 Skills showcased, weaknesses eased

o Economic Advantage

o Social Interaction

 Humans are socially bound, care about other humans

 Isolation detrimental

• Psychological studies

 Sexual reproduction

o Groups and agreements give rise to paradigms

 Nonmembers of groups can negotiate with others, but may find that they do not hold the same things as “true” or “good”

 Individuals often think of their “laws” as truths rather than agreements

o Groups can be explicit or implicit

 Individuals or groups may align with other individuals or groups that share common paradigms or agreements

• Individuals or groups may come to the aid of their implicit allies

II: Agreements

• A: The Nature of Agreements

o Not objective

o Agreements come into existence in a variety of ways

 Anarchism

• Each individual decides what to agree to

 Monarchism

• The will of an individual is imposed upon another individual or group

 Democratism

• The will of the majority of a group is imposed upon the minority

 Socialism

• The will of the voice of a group is imposed upon the entire group

 These methods can be combined

• Oligarchy: Monarchism or Democratism between oligarchs, socialism from oligarchs to group

o Agreements often “package deals”

 Not always possible to accept “part” of an agreement

o Agreements can imply other agreements

o Agreements can be conditional

 Murder is alright in war

o The agreements of a group do not necessarily apply to nonmembers

• B: The Purpose of Agreements

o Avoidance of Nash equilibrium

 Nash equilibrium is Anarchy

o Profitability

 If an agreement is not profitable, an individual should not agree to it (sacrifice)

• Pervasion of some agreements

o Do not kill, steal, use force, be uncivil

o Recognition of “Rights”

 Ability: That which one is capable of doing, given the objective nature of their existence

 Freedom: Group sanction of, or lack of opposition to, an Ability

 Right: Group recognition of the virtue and necessity of a Freedom

• C: The Enforcement of Agreements

o Agreements can be enforced

 Specific individuals can be granted the power of enforcement

• Police, courts

 All individuals can be granted the power of enforcement

• Vigilantism

 Enforcement places trust in enforcers

• Corruption and imperfection are necessary evils of putting humans in control of enforcement

o Individuals can agree to agree or can be forced to agree

o Groups can agree that violators of agreements can be treated differently than non-violators

 Violation of certain agreements can be considered worse than violation of others

III. Property

• A: The Nature of Property

o Property: Any value or resource

o A consumer, or group of consumers, claims a resource as “theirs”

o Not objective

 Possession is an exercise in the ability to defend control

o Differently handled by different communities or with regard to different resources

 Public property

• “Ground state” of all property until claimed by a group or individual

• Group agrees to share a piece of property with everyone

• Terms of use can be defined and enforced

 Semi-private property

• Specific group claims a piece of property and agrees to share it, but only among its members

• Terms of use can still be defined and enforced

• Property must be defended against those not included in the group

• Can exist to different degrees

o Groups within groups can claim semi-private property and defend it against the rest of the group

 Private Property

• Individual claims a piece of property for themselves

• Terms of use do not apply, but philosophy does

• Property must be defended against everyone else

• B: Agreements and Property

o Individuals and groups can agree on how to divide property, and how to apply their agreements

 Lines and distinctions between types of property must be defined

 A group can declare a certain area of public property as semi-private property (it’s “territory”), but then the members of the group can declare parts of the semi-private property as private property

• The group must decide if an individual is allowed to do this, within the framework of their agreements

• The group must decide what agreements to make with the individual in terms of what he may or may not use the property for

• Illustration: A group enters an empty space and claims it for itself as semi-private property. Members of the group then claim areas of the semi-private property as private property.

o What can a member declare to be his private property?

o What can a member do within his private property?

 A group within a group may declare part of the greater semi-private property as their own semi-private property

• The greater group must decide if this is allowed

• The greater group must decide what agreements to make with the smaller group in terms of what the agreements for the new semi-private property may be

• Illustration: A family within a group can claim an area as its semi-private property

 An individual or subordinate group within a group may declare a piece of public property as either semi-private property or private property

• The group must decide if the new property is automatically part of the group’s semi-private property, or the semi-private or private property of only those who claimed it

o The group must decide if it wants to defend the new property

• The group must decide what agreements to make with the new property’s owner(s) in terms of their use of that property

• Illustration: A member or family within a group could claim an area outside the group’s “territory” as their private or semi-private property

o Is the area part of the group’s “territory” because it’s inhabited by members of the group?

o If not:

 Do the laws of the group have any influence in the area?

 Should the group help protect the area?

 Should the group imperialize the area?

IV: Groups

• A: Group Membership

o Groups are collections of individuals

o Their agreements set them apart from their surroundings

 Individuals in groups do not operate in Anarchy

o Group membership may be voluntary or forced

 Once in a group, however, the group may structure itself around one’s membership

• Exit may damage the group

• May lead to the group forcing a member to stay a member after they join voluntarily

• Blurry definitions of property come into play

• Illustration: A group might claim a territory and agree that members of the group may enter the territory at will, but outsiders may not enter. An individual living within the group’s territory may decide that they don’t want to be a member of the group anymore. However, their private property lies within the semi-private property of the group. Therefore, the group may defend its semi-private property.

 Once in a group, individuals may structure their lives around their membership in a group

• Individual may not be able to survive without some agreements made by the group (welfare, subsidy)

• Individuals may share semi-private property with non-defecting group members

• Individuals may own private property surrounding by the group’s semi-private property

• Illustration: A man living in the middle of a group’s territory wants to cut ties with the group. The group doesn’t mind his exit, and they allow him to secede from the group, taking the territory recognized as “his” with him. However, he co-owns a store in the group’s territory with another individual who remains a member of the group. His territory is surrounded by group territory, and the group considers its territory closed to nonmembers.

o What claim does he have on his store?

o What right does he have to leave his land?

o Problems arise because of false conception of private property

 Private property is a function of defensibility

 Any “private” property that one does not defend himself is not actually private, but is a mandate of the group

• Remember, Anarchy is the natural state

• B: Group Governance

o Any time groups arise, there are going to be disagreements

o Groups function by imposing agreements on dissenters

o Individuals empower other individuals to impose decisions on them

 Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes through coercion

o When multiple individuals given the maximum amount of power, complications arise when they disagree

 Democracy, checks/balances often used to settle these complications

o If an individual doesn’t like the agreements imposed on them by the group, they can attempt to leave the group

 Sometimes groups force members to stay

 There might not be a group that fits an individual’s exact needs

• Anarchy is an option

• One could claim a piece of public property and start their own group

• C: The Fall of Anarchy

o Within reasonable bounds, there is limited public property

o When an individual can not settle in unclaimed public property, he must join a group or take land from one

o If they join a group, they may be forced to follow the group’s agreements under threat of force

o While in the group’s semi-private territory, their right to private property may not exist

 Serfdom, imposition of terms of use

o Individuals may attempt to alter the paradigms and agreements of the group to suit their needs

 This may create problems for other group members who disagree with the changes

Conclusion

• Groups and individuals determine right and wrong

o Groups can form agreements to identify and protect right from wrong

o Some groups may impose these agreements on individuals

• Groups or individuals can vest others with the ability to enforce agreements

• Individuals can possess private property to the extent that they are willing to protect it

o Some groups will agree to protect it, others may impose terms of use, others may not protect it at all

• Individuals can attempt to leave a group if they do not align with the agreements

o There may be obstacles to exit

o Not belonging to a group may not be an option

Edited by donnywithana

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What is the thesis of this paper? That you have to belong to a group for self-protection? What does that have to do with anarchy?

And how, exactly, does this relate to Objectivism?

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Your attempts to introduce teleology into evolution seem pretty dubious. In particular, I take issue with

 “Bad” is anything that contributes towards death or hindrance of “good”

o Sacrifice

 Exchange of greater value for lesser value

 Always bad

This might be true in the context of humans, but whats the evidence for it applying to animals. Go look up "kin selection" for an example of how an entity can 'sacrifice' its life for others in a way that increases the chance of its genes being passed on. In any case, talking about animals having 'values' is dubious. At best, this is a metaphor - theres no reason why a spider has 'values' any more than a computer controlled character in a video game.

This is related to

o Evolution

 “Good” is whatever helps an organism survive longest and reproduce the most

Which is just wrong. From an evolutionary point of view, what is 'good' (although I would avoid that word like the plague) is anything that allows an entity's genes to propagate, whether or not it helps the entity to survive. Edited by Hal

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A working thesis: Groups are created by individuals to create and protect freedoms and rights through agreements.

I was curious to see if the viewpoints I put forth would lead to objections from this forum, because the opinions expressed are somewhat at odds with Rand's derivation of rights and government, although I don't disagree with her logic. I just think that rights and governments are social constructs.

This relates to anarchy in the sense that I'm pointing out an absense of an absolute authority. Also, I'm insisting that the implicit group of "all humans" is a product of empathy and causes problems, because it often requires imposing agreements. I'm still working on the conclusion, where I'll sum up all of these ideas.

Thanks for checking it out though!

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On a different topic, I think youre covering far far too much material in that essay - it reads more like the table of contents for a fairly long book. Unless you're going to go on for several hundred pages, I cant imagine that youll be able to give a non-superficial overview of a lot of things you mention. Personally I'd pick one or two topics from that list and try to focus on them.

Edited by Hal

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This might be true in the context of humans, but whats the evidence for it applying to animals. Go look up "kin selection" for an example of how an entity can 'sacrifice' its life for others in a way that increases the chance of its genes being passed on.

I believe Rand herself talked about how humans are the only creatures that can act in a self destructive manner, or in other words, only humans are capable of doing "bad." If an animal dies for a "good" reason, it's not a sacrifice according to my definition of the word.

From an evolutionary point of view, what is 'good' (although I would avoid that word like the plague) is anything that allows an entity's genes to propagate, whether or not it helps the entity to survive.

That's a much better definition, thanks!

It now reads:

 “Good” is whatever helps an organism ensure the propagation of its genome

Does that make better sense?

On a different topic, I think youre covering far far too much material in that essay - it reads more like the table of contents for a fairly long book. Unless you're going to go on for several hundred pages, I cant imagine that youll be able to give a non-superficial overview of a lot of things you mention. Personally I'd pick one or two topics from that list and try to focus on them.

Yea, I was struggling with that. The thing is, my purpose in doing this is to question the ideas of world policing and national authority. If I want to do that, I have to discuss the basics of existence (I intend it to be mostly an introduction, not a focus), what groups are, what agreements are, and how groups function. I tried as hard as I could to keep it to only four main topics, but I don't want there to be any cracks for people to misunderstand. Can you think of any way I could get my point across without addressing some of the things I have in there?

Thanks for the help!

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I believe Rand herself talked about how humans are the only creatures that can act in a self destructive manner

I dont remember her saying that (source?), but if she did then shes simply wrong. It would be a strange claim to make because its obviously an scientific question involving animal behavior that lies outwith the domain of philosophy.

Edited by Hal

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I dont remember her saying that (source?), but if she did then shes simply wrong. It would be a strange claim to make because its obviously an scientific question involving animal behavior that lies outwith the domain of philosophy.

I lent out my copy of The Virtue of Selfishness to one of my friends. I'll see if I can find the exact part, but I think it was in the first chapter, called The Objectivist Ethics. If anyone else knows the part I'm talking about, that would be swell. Just to clarify in case I was unclear, I'm pretty sure she was saying that humans are the only species that can willfully act towards their own species' destruction. Does that make more sense?

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Well I dont think theres any real reason to believe that (non-human) animals can 'will' anything, so I suppose that would be vacuously true.

Edited by Hal

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