Understanding Strategies of Power and Weakness
In this diagram I illustrate the different strategies we have employed through history in trying to accomplish cooperative political change by different means.
The causal difference in our strategies comes from our perceived difference in power and weakness, our differences in empathy or objectivity, and the scope and depth of our memories. The political, social, and religious conflict so visible in history between these strategies may in fact simply stem from the natural conflict between power and weakness. But it more likely appears that this conflict has arisen because of our inability to produce a political and social order that incorporates an understanding of these differences, and to resolve them through some means other than violence, political conflict, or class conflict, and instead, by cooperative means. In other words, we have not solved it because we have no means of understanding then calculating it.
I care about these traditional things only because, if they are understood, we can produce an economic, political, and social order that allows us to cooperate entirely BECAUSE we are different, and that strives to reward us for being different rather than requiring that we all conform to a standard that is mutually devastating, as do our religious traditions.
To fix a problem of this consequence (the problem of cooperation as populations increase due to increases in production or the availability of resources) we need a way of communicating with each other. We need an information system, and that system needs to be unpolitical (free from theft or coercion) and as free of noise and distortion as possible. It also needs to somewhat provide us with rewards for cooperating, despite our multitudinous differences. This does not mean we must be rewarded equally in the sense that we all have the same money, or the same ability to entice others to action: that is a function of one’s productivity in the service of others. It does mean that we are rewarded equally in the sense that we all contribute to defending this system and must be compensated according to our contribution. And that degree of contribution is simply measured by our contribution to the system of cooperation itself, not its production. In other words, inaction is as important as action. Or rather inaction, and the forgoing of opportunities, are a cost that all citizens contribute, but thieves do not. This contribution can be measured not only in the aggregate but by the individual. Our differences in production must be rewarded as well. These are actions, not inactions. Similarity our inactions in support of our institutions of cooperation must be rewarded as well.
Currently the wealthy, at least those wealthy who benefit from artificially reduced interest rates and speculation on the result of those artificial rates, are concentrating wealth at the expense of the population. So they are indeed unfairly benefiting from the institutions and claiming that it’s in the interest of productivity, and that is simply demonstrably false.
Libertarians are right in seeking the gold standard for many reasons. But the gold standard does not let a people leverage their future against their own future production, and thereby bypass the existing capital holders, creating a competition against those existing capital holders. In other words, they cannot form a zero-capital bank and all agree to accept its currency. This would prohibit say, a Peter the Great from modernizing a backward Russia without incurring the danger of war or conflict.
In general, there seems no good reason why a people cannot borrow against each other’s future, and instead must use a third party who governs their actions. Gold standards somewhat prohibit this. Gold does equilibrate more easily than fiat money since it is very expensive to get out of the ground and scarce. Fiat money can be printed until the society simply dies and all cooperation ceases. This is simply because there is no means of determining boundary or failure of that money supply. However, the difference between borrowing a fixed amount for a fixed purpose and collecting the rewards as interest on that money creates a feedback look whose only cost is time. This puts into place an equilibrium that does not put control in, or provide excess waste to, a third party, whose only merit is that he possesses a common resource, gold, which must be used in exchange. In fact, this middleman is not a libertarian position. This just changes the state from one group of people to another, from whom you must ask permission.
I am not a socialist by any means. I am a cooperation-ist. I am a libertarian in the sense that I understand that government is not the answer to our social problems. I am a libertarian in the sense that I fully comprehend that entrepreneurship is the source of prosperity, that institutions facilitate entrepreneurship, and that calculation is the technology that extends the ability of the human mind to operate in increasing numbers, in an increasing division of knowledge and labor. I fully understand that government and law are the cause of social problems, not the cure to them.
But, in addition, I recognize that we forgo opportunities every day and that there is a cost to doing so. If the poor man forgoes opportunity yet has no compensation for it, then he is taken advantage of. If the poor man comes here to steal from others then he simply steals. If the rich man comes here to steal from the institutional framework, he simply steals. But those who do not steal must be compensated, not for moral reasons but because that is how we pay for our social order.
It is our failure to fully establish an accounting system for this complexity that perpetuates political conflict. It is the establishment of that accounting system that will reduce it to the manageable, and identify people as thieves and producers instead of moral or amoral, which perpetuates a debate between silly religious and ostensibly moral principles rather than material, logical, and social ones.
In particular, we have not solved the problem of bringing women into the political sphere, and may indeed continue to have a problem doing so until we establish such a system of accounting. Politics, reason, science and technology, war, and violence are primarily masculine habits, designed to solve masculine problems. Women, because they are interpersonal and not political, because they are largely experiential rather than objective, empathic versus objective, have a different view of politics, and politics as we have designed it is largely for the purpose of resolving conflicts between different power groups.
Only calculation as I have described it makes the difference between these different methods possible to resolve.