We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“When egalitarian redistributors make an effort to justify the assumption that the state has the legitimate right to rearrange entitlements to achieve equality, it’s usually in the form of an invocation of the theory that all production is inextricably joint, that is, that all that you have (at least above the barest and meanest possible kind of brute existence) would be impossible without the farmers in the fields growing the crops that nourish you, the cop on the beat protecting you from thieves, and so on, and that none of the inputs into that process could be added or withdrawn. It’s the cop on the beat, i.e., the state, however, that gets the attention, since it’s assumed that the enforcement of claims to wealth and income is what accounts for the fact of your having wealth and income at all, and thus the state, as the sine qua non of that wealth and income, is entitled to dispose of all of it.”

Tom Palmer

7 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Suppose I have an empty field- if the state is going to claim all the food I grow there because it surrounds me and ‘protects’ me from burglars, where is my incentive to grow anything? I think I’ll just become a welfare recipient, and let the field become a forest.

  • veryretired

    Western collectivist theory is in reaction to the european history of monarchy/aristocracy/serf social structure, and its support from theological circles.

    It attempts to overturn this social organization by proposing another template which combines all the same elements, but changes the names and the catechism to give the appearence of revolutionary change.

    Collectivism understood clearly, and much sooner, and with a greater understanding of the nature of the conflict, that individualism, with its concommitant economic and social theories, was the true enemy, especially once the previous system had collapsed and been swept away or coopted.

    The individualist system requires a minimalist state, and wide latitude for individual initiatives. Thus the concept of inalienable rights and guaranteed liberties.

    The collectivist system requires a maximal state, and narrow paths which all must tread in uniform acceptance of beliefs required and duties assigned.

    The individual must be submerged.

    The sword of the state is required for so much repression. All must come from, and be controlled by, the state in order to maintain discipline.

    The reason collectivism fails so spectacularly to achieve any of its promised utopian goals is dictated by its basic nature.

    Those who welcome their chains survive, and may even flourish, but those whose individual personalities and independent minds reject reject such fetters are stifled, or killed.

    Unfortunately for ideology, it is the latter who invent and innovate, while the former stare at the hind end of an ox for millenia without any thought of improvement.

    Collectivism fails because it must. Individuality succeeds because it can.

  • Rob H

    The other day after reading yet another brainless tweet about capitalism I dusted off my copy of the “Communist Manifesto” just to try and understand….somthing that they were saying.

    And lo it became clear. I haven’t read Marx (or Englels) for years but it remided me of the thoughtless, chip on the shoulder, reason free work that he did. In one sentence he actually disregards all philosophical, religious and/or ideological criticism by saying it is not worth rebutting.

    How a man with such scant regard for debate or reason could become so influential I will never know. However, it did enlighten me as to where the tweeters got their tweets.

    I encourage all free thinking people to read his book. It is utter CRAP and you will no doubt be left doubled over with laughter, sides splitting as mine were, at the benality and envy that drips from every page.

  • Paul Marks

    Good post and good comments.

    Although me favourate comment is the one of Rob H

    I remember thinking similar thoughts about the same work and person.

  • John McVey

    Person A alone produces 45 units of stuff.

    Person B alone produess 85 units of stuff.

    Totally, but separately, they produce in 130 units.

    If they cooperate – be that by joint effort on single productive endeavours or economies of scale by specialisation – they produce a total of 200 units. This is the synergistic gain from social action.

    Therein lies the question: how should the extra 70 units gained from social activity be distributed?

    First off, one cannot merely use the atomised proportions to generate social proportions. For all you know person A might be a Stephen Hawkings type, who cannot produce certain things that are extremely valuable except in the context of specialisation and cooperation. So, just allocating 69:131 is not the proper answer.

    Second, for similar reasons, egalitarianism cannot be automatically assumed the right answer. As it happens, 100 each still makes both better off, but this is an artefact of the particular numbers I created and takes no account of what would happen were the synergistic total under 170 (which would make B worse off under egalitarianism) nor of their relative opinions about the merits of the types of labour and efforts each puts in. The idea that a doctor should make more money than a brick-layer, even for the same number of hours and effort, and even after accounting for amortisation of their respective costs of education, has some real basis and is not just a relic of snobbish attitudes or whatnot.

    Marginal value theory is also in fact hopeless here – remembering that ‘here’ refers to what is deemed to be socially proper from a certain perspective. If either A or B threatens to withdraw the socialised aspect of their production and return to atomised production, they both get to claim that marginal value of 70 units. This leads to double counting, so is obviously useless.

    The problem with all the above approaches is that they equate morality, and in turn proper social organisation, with contributions to collective effort, and trying to solve the quandary as though the proper perspective for determining who gets what were looking at it top-down from the outside. Whosoever insists on trying to use economic models and total systemic gain as a yardstick will necessarily end up like John Stuart Mill, irrespective of whether they start from a socialist or nominally-individualist beginning. To try it is to sanction paternalism whether you recognise this or not, and the end result of that is some form of collectivism.

    Morality precedes both economics and politics by a long shot. Once you understand that, work out what morality actually consists of – which will include by what right one lays claim to what – and then works your way through what is happening in this scenario accordingly, the solution presents itself rather straightforwardly.

    Some necessary context: before there is any sort of social activity or consideration of what is rightful therein, there is the rightfulness of self-interest and right to property. I wont explain why – you accept that or you needn’t continue reading.

    Following on logically from that context, there is the right to freedom of negotiation and agreement, and the right to demand that parties to agreement keep up their end of the bargain, both as informed by indepedent judgement of what is and is not in the respective individuals’ own self-interests. I wont deal with complexities here, either, and again, accept it or leave.

    So, with that context in place, either A and B come to some sort of agreement, or they don’t. Here’s the critical point:


    The issue is not that an answer can’t be easily computed, or that only free markets can find what that answer is as though markets were a tool for social ends. Rather, it is that there is NO proper division AT ALL. There is only their agreement made on the basis of their respective private self-interests as each judges fit. Whatever they decide, THAT is proper (so long as it is within other rules of morality, which again I wont go into here). The whole edifice of socialism is premised on refusing to accept this and then building structures around notions of morally-ideal divisions, because socialism refuses to accept the morality of self-interest and puts the collective forth as the primary unit of moral consideration. Thus ALL socialism is INHERENTLY authoritarian, even for those socialists who delude themselves about being anarchists.

    The same applies to the economic aspects of all other forms of tyranny, differing only in their methodologies of determinations and how evasive or brazen they are in how they respond to this issue. In practice that could be: straight feudal tradition; arbitrary and semi-arbitrary edicts from of judges as informed by a mix of tradition, received dogma (religious or otherwise), pragmatism, and reason; or religiously-inspired socialism; and so on.

    Here’s another way of putting it, from the perspective of each individual and recognising the principle of gains from trade.

    Person A makes P and wants Q. Person B makes Q and wants P. To use P as the ‘money reference’, A wants to receive minimum of X units of Q for every unit of P to be provided, while B wants to pay a maximum of Y units of Q for every unit of P to be received. If Y is less than X then an agreement is not possible, while if Y is more than X an agreement is achievable and the pair are quite likely to arrive at some intermediate exchange rate of Z units of Q for every unit of P, Z being more than X but less than Y.

    The question is, if Z is at all technically possible, what ought Z be? The proper response to this is that even to think that question has or needs and answer, independently of what A and B judge for themselves, is automatically to be completely wrong and that it is eventually to sanction evil to insist on pursuing an answer independently of A and B’s agreement. There is only that A will want Z as low as possible, while B wants Z as high as possible, with the actual Z being the result of their economic and informational circumstances, negotiation skills, psychologies, and so on.

    Socialists are those who whine about the need to make an effort to bargain with others and engage in what can be emotionally stressful negotiations. This is part and parcel of their frantic hatred of power-differentials and why they are so desparate for egalitarianism. The thought of there being some means of calculating what Z “ought” be in the context of exclusively what the conditions of the overall economy are allows them to dream of bypassing the need for the interpersonal tussle that is a major part of life in free markets.

    Now, the only thing that one can do – which is what a right-thinking economist and market forecaster does do – is recognise that when A and B are joined by C and D and E ad infinitum, there are market convergences, which allow for some rather precise estimates of what Z will in practice work out to be by some future point in time while recognising that the Z for a given product type constantly moves as the circumstances of A and B and C et al change, and including consideration for yet more complexities along these lines too. At no point, however, is it ever proper to say what Z *should* be in some moral sense – which was, unfortunately, precisely the mistake made by laissez-faire economists of the 18th and 19th centuries by trying to justify LFC by noting that the actual-Z for each subject-matter of trade moved toward some moral-Z as defined from a social-benefit value-standard. The result was that when in practice actual Z’s didn’t move to “moral” Z’s fast enough the anti-LFC types seized on this and began enacting all their regulations and controls to put bounds on permissible actual-Z’s and attempts to speed up convergences to the moral-Z’s. The result is what we see today, and which will continue accelerating for so long as the morality of self-interest *independently of any social consideration whatsoever* is not the commonly accepted system of morality.

    The disaster of today arose from the rejection of self-interest, said rejection initially being backed by religious dogma but later backed by skepticism unleashed by Kant (also motivated by the desire to promote religious views on interest). You want to have freedom? Put reason, objectivity, and self-interest in centre-stage among the minds of movers and shakers. Without that, forget it, any activism is but the casting of precious seed on thin soil – you’ll get brief growth that will make you happy, then you’ll get die-offs and your political crops blowing away in the first high wind.


  • John McVey

    Dammit, Q is the money reference, not P.

  • John McVey

    ANNND, A wants Z high, B wants Z low.

    I shouldn’t be doing this kind of thing so late at night. PIMF only works well before 11pm.