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 – questioning governmentalism makes you dangerous

“At its core,” Emily writes, “effective accelerationism embraces the idea that social problems can be solved purely with advances in technology, rather than by messy human deliberation.”

Your sense that technological progress has increased human abundance, and the city of San Francisco is poorly run? This is a dangerous idea.

Mike Solana

14 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – questioning governmentalism makes you dangerous

  • Alex

    Interesting piece. I seem to be increasingly out of touch, but they all seem pretty objectionable. The guy who got doxxed has my sympathies, I don’t necessarily agree with what he says particularly, but I certainly defend his right to say it and the fact he needs to do so pseudonymously just goes to show the decline of free speech.

    Why is the University of Chichester written off as “not a real school”?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    These lines from Mike Solana’s piece were particularly relevant to current events:

    “Over the past eight years, the cost of public dissent on every topic from public health to crime and gender has been tremendous. Naturally, as with our Founding Fathers, many of our contemporary intellectuals have therefore turned to anonymity in order to express important but unpopular views, or even very common views just recently determined distasteful or dangerous by a powerful few. There has been tremendous value in such anonymous discourse, most obviously in the orbit of public health, as there has been value in anonymous political writing from the founding of our country, the intellectual history of which was shaped entirely by inordinately eloquent shitposters from the pages of their dueling public papers.”

  • tfourier

    Check up on Emily Baker-White’s very odd “resume”. A music major then a Harvard “Human Rights” lawyer who then works at Spotify and Buzzfead and now Forbes. Huh? Plus her internet footprint looks like it got a very good scrubbing. Its usually very easy to trace journos. Bottom feeder journos with no tech background like her do not have scrubbed internet footprints.

    Looks like she comes from an affluent “white privilege” background. Her work history is so strange that it just screams embedded operative. It looks odd even by the standards of the often bizarre work history of people in the Valley. So she is either working one way or another for a DNC support org or a TLA. Because no way in hell a person like that with that career history is she a purely independent operator.

    Funny that.

  • GregWA

    First I’ve heard of Beff…amusing, possibly interesting? Need to noodle on it more.

    But I have one thought right off and I think this is a Motherhood statement: human progress through science and technology advances over the past couple of centuries have been nothing short of miraculous. Political and civic progress by contrast have stagnated. In fact, most of our technology problems are really political: how to develop cheap energy, how to better educate the masses (voters!), etc.

    Does anyone know if the e/acc or Beff himself have anything to say on this?

  • JJM

    “[The] idea that social problems can be solved purely with advances in technology…”

    Reminds me of the crank US technocracy movement of the 1930s.

  • Paul Marks

    Please note the weasel words that Emily uses – “human deliberation” when she means taxes and regulations, coercion, force-and-fear.

    Collectivists often use this dishonest language – for example saying “cooperation” when they mean coercion – force and fear, some “cooperation”. Or they trot out the word “democracy” (ironic as they are often rig elections) as if a “democratic vote” makes coercion, force and fear, somehow not coercion – two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

    Back at the start of the 1960s American Collectivists (or at least some of them) may have sincerely believed that more government spending and more regulations would make society better – such thinkers as Herbert Spencer (“The Man Versus the State” 1884) and Ludwig Von Mises (the last section of his work “Socialism”, entitled “Destructionism” deals with state interventionism) had already shown that state interventionism (whether by a dictator or a democracy – the effects are the same), but some people may still have sincerely believed that stateism would do good at the start of the 1960s.

    It is hard to see how any Collectivist thinker, after more than 60 years of these experiments in American cities and States – it is hard to see how any thinker could still believe that stateism makes things better – when it obviously does harm, terrible harm.

    I am afraid that people such as Emily do not do harm mistakenly, whilst trying to do good, they do harm because they want to do harm – and their dishonest use of language, such as “human deliberation”, when they mean force and fear (even more taxes, government spending and regulations – in spite of the terrible harm these things have already done), rather proves the point.

    Note that “human deliberation” does not include any reduction of government spending, taxation and regulation, it always means more force-and-fear (more coercion) never less.

  • Paul Marks

    As for Jeff Bezos – he has been subsidising Collectivists (people like Emily) for years, via obscenities such as the “Washington Post”, and also directly – for example Mr Bezos recently gave a large cash prize to a Spanish chef, not for the man’s food – but because the man ranted on about “Trump” (President Trump) – yes doing that (and repeating lies) gets people large cash prizes now, with their hatred presented as “promoting tolerance” (supposedly it is “tolerance” and “peace” to wish death on at least half of Americans).

    Why does Mr Bezos do this – does he share the Collectivism of the people he subsidises? No he does NOT – he is paying Protection Money, Danegelt, he is saying “here have lots of money – please do not hurt me”.

    This is pathetic, utterly pathetic, and it will not save Mr Bezos – as the hate-filled comments of Emily show. And when the people he tries to pay off come for him, it will be hard to have any real sympathy for Mr Bezos.

    And it is not just Mr Bezos – there is a whole Legion of rich people throwing money at the forces of evil, and these rich people saying “we are not evil personally – we are just trying to pay them off” is no good.

  • Colli

    As for Jeff Bezos

    I think the article is about Beff Jezos, the twitter guy.

  • Paul Marks

    Even in the 1960s some of the Collectivists, such as “Cloward and Piven” (who helped design and promote some of the government programs) knew that they were doing harm – they hoped to destroy society, what they called “capitalist” society, by increasing the number of government dependents and undermining cultural institutions – both religious and secular.

    Today the terrible effects of government interventionism are so horribly obvious it is very hard to believe that the Collectivist leaders (not the ordinary activists – but the leaders) do not know now. know very well, that they are doing harm.

    Certainly they may still tell themselves that they are destroying society so that a better society can be created in its place – but they know that the policies they push are designed to destroy.

    As for the good that economic development (including technological development) can do over time, compare the countries of Europe, including Britain in 1891 to a century earlier – the improvement was the work of voluntary interaction “capitalism”.

    This is why it is so frustrating that a once famous Papal Encyclical of 1891 claimed (in its very first paragraph) that both poverty and immorality had increased – the exact opposite of the truth, and then went on to advocate interventionism (only a few years aftr Disraeli and Bismarck had started on this dark road) – although the document, and later document, are not very clear about what specific interventions they are asking for.

    The United States of 1912 was the most prosperous large scale society the world had ever seen – yet all the candidates for President, even President Taft (although he was the most moderate) advocated bigger government and more Credit Money (more “flexibility” as President Taft called this folly – not understanding that that there was already vastly too much “flexibility” in the monetary and financial system).

    Again incredibly frustrating – freedom was clearly working, and most people (even way back then) were turning away from freedom – back to the statist policies of Frederick the Great or Louis XIV, falsely called “Progressivism”.

  • Fraser Orr

    I tried to read through this article but my gag reflex only got me halfway through. However, one of the core points of the leftist catechism is abortion rights, and those are founded, they tell us with utter certainty on the putative “right to privacy” in the constitution. However, apparently the right to privacy only matters when it aligns with their own views. Apparently this blogger didn’t have a right to privacy of his most personal information — his name and address.

    But pointing out the left’s hypocrisy is pointless really, like throwing a cup of water into the ocean.

    “[The] idea that social problems can be solved purely with advances in technology…”
    Reminds me of the crank US technocracy movement of the 1930s.

    I’m not sure of the exact point your are making here JJM, but to suggest that social problems can’t be solved purely with advances in technology is self evidently not true. (I don’t think you were making such a claim, but I’m just riffing off your quote.)

    On the contrary, nearly ALL social problems, insofar as they are solved, are solved primarily or exclusively by technology. In fact often the biggest challenge for tech solving social problems is pushback from governments and rulers trying to preserve their place.

    What are some of the greatest social problems? Poverty, infectious disease, homelessness, censorship. All of these can be solved by technology. Heck, even if you think that boys “feeling like girls” is a social problem it is the technology of hormone therapy, breast implants and vaginoplasty that will solve it, insofar as an adult thinks this is a good choice. If someone thinks that transformation of the Europe of the black death infested, poverty consumed, death in childbirth society was transformed into the dramatically richer and safer society we live in today because of politicians and government, I wonder that someone is using the technology of LSD to help assist their judgements.

    The truth is that the history is humankind is the history of technology and the free market which drives technology trying to solve problems being constantly held back by politicians and rulers protecting their power and wealth.

  • bobby b

    Norman Borlaug – one of many fathers of e/acc – is reading this article somewhere and laughing.

    (Just for fun – https://www.reddit.com/r/eacc/ )

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Paul, that is one of the dangers of Democracy- That you can get power by promising more ‘free’ stuff to the voters. In any contest between a politician who promises to do nothing. and one who promises to do something for you, the smart money would not be on the do-nothing candidate. Even Reagan did this, promising to get government off ‘your’ backs, so you could keep more money.

  • Alex

    What constitutes a social problem? I see poverty as more of an economic problem. It’s social insofar as every problem is, as all problems are those that face human societies, but arguably poverty is a default natural state for all animals. Infectious disease is an ecological problem, and often an economic one i.e. clean water is a scarce resource, but technology can make it less scarce whether that technology be a carbon filter, boiling the water. Justice is a mostly social construct, but there is natural justice e.g. a natural right to self defence.

    Censorship, conflict – those are social problems. I don’t see that technology provides solutions for those so much as it provides means to advance such things further. There’s a limit to how much censorship can be done to a person without technology. Technology raises the spectre of total and effective censorship – unperson someone so totally that they cannot be heard at all, they can’t publish their thoughts, they can’t speak (there are actually devices capable of disrupting speech), they can’t be heard, they can be tracked. Similarly conflict is limited in its origins, an ape can batter another ape to death over jealousy or dire need, but technology allows humans to escalate their conflicts to heights not seen in the natural world.

    Now that’s not to say that technology doesn’t have its place, as you point out the state of medicine and the general plenty we live in today is derived in a large part through the economic application of technology.

    But when someone says they want social solutions to social problems, they mean using social means to resolve e.g. conflict or censorship. A social solution might be the promulgation of education that people should be able to speak their minds, that ideas are not dangerous in and of themselves and that people should be prosecuted for acting on bad ideas not for listening to them, considering them or for publishing them. That’s a social solution to a problem, not a technical one. The Bill of Rights is a social solution, as is the U.S. Constitution. We can consider legal documents pieces of legal technology if you like, but usually what is commonly meant by social means is politics, religion, ethics, law, convention, agreement, arbitration, deliberation, association and disassociation. If you consider such things merely applications of technology that’s a pretty uncommon view I think.

  • GregWA

    We have cheap energy sources (oil/gas, nuclear, hydro) but we are destroying them in favor of expensive and unreliable sources (wind, solar). And we are doing it for less-than-certain reasons (a warming Earth will be a catastrophe within 50-100 years). THAT is not technology solving a problem, that is politics screwing it up.

    We knew how to deal with pandemics, public health policies were in place, and yet we had the reaction to COVID that we all suffered through. Even if you agree that the threat at the outset was un-precedented; that was clarified in short order (weeks, a couple of months at most). Government response was not a failure of science or technology, it was a failure of governance, of politics, of the governed acting like sheep.

    Pick any other step backward in recent decades and I’ll bet you will find two things: 1) a technological solution, or scientific understanding, already in hand and 2) a political decision to ignore that and take the stupid path, i.e., the path most benefitting those in power.

    Our path to maximizing future prosperity is more dependent on reforming the civic order, our politics, than it is on the technological breakthroughs.

    “Maximizing” is bolded because I’m sure technology and science will continue to provide advances in abundance, but it won’t be what it could be unless we fix things in the political arena.