Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Further Note on Realpolitik Strategy



Robert, what you seem to be saying is that anytime there is a new product that can have a dual use, one to take on the state and one to be used by the state, we should hope for its destruction. Shouldn't we celebrate attempts to get around the state and make its life harder (see my related comment at your Australia story post)? I also think you're short-changing those in power; if they're sufficiently aware of the power of Bitcoin to want to stamp it out, why wouldn't they also be sufficiently aware of the power of using it (just as they were sufficiently aware of the possibilities with the Internet to develop electronic surveillance)?
Using your logic, we should have cheered for the state to stamp out firearm ownership when firearms were first being accumulated by private citizens, before those at the state came to realize that they themselves could use firearms to enforce their edicts. I for one am glad that there are 200-300 million privately held firearms in the US.
It appears there is a misunderstanding here about
the nature of realpolitik. As Wikipedia puts it (my highlight):
[It] is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions..
In other words, it is not about setting down absolute rules that apply for every case but rather a consideration with regard to a given situation, to determine what various policy advocacies would mean under the given specific situation.

For libertarians realpolitik is not about absolute principle but rather about analyzing a current situation and determining whether the advocacy of a particular policy gets us closer to or father away from liberty.

So it is illegitimate to take from a specific realpolitik strategy and make the broad-based absolute principle: "anytime there is a new product that can have a dual use, one to take on the state and one to be used by the state, we should hope for its destruction."

In the case of Bitcoin and other e-currencies, I see the potential for government to capture the space and make it pure evil with no good coming from it. It has nothing to do with all "dual use" products. It is a specific realpolitik case where the taking down of Bitcoin and e-currencies by government now may prevent a more horrific use of e-currencies in the future by government.

That said, The NAPster closing argument sets up a discussion that is more interesting than he seems to recognize.

If guns could have been stamped out globally early on, an admittedly impossible task but it is The NAPster's theoretical, why wouldn't we be in favor of such a stamping out? The government is much more well armed than individuals. The only reason the Second Amendment was introduced in the Constitution is so we would have a fighting chance against government but if guns were stamped out that threat by government is gone.

To be sure, hunters wouldn't be happy, but from a realpolitik perspective that might be a trade many would be willing to take to prevent the government from having guns.

This gun theoretical ended, I do not expect the governments of the world to disarm anytime soon and I think it is wise that the Second Amendment was included in the Constitution.

-RW

12 comments:

  1. So, for 'realpolitik' reasons, libertarians should support the use of force by a criminal gang (government) against private property / voluntary transactions by peaceful people?

    What's amazing is, despite our constant frustration at non-libertarians' willingness to use evil means to prevent some imagined outcome, so many prominent libertarians keep doing the same - be it the issue of immigration control, crypto control or intellectual property.

    Not a comment on specific individuals but 'Don't initiate force' seems really difficult to understand even for libertarians.

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  2. Maybe the problem is some of us do not believe that good ethical principles like NAP always lead to good results (even when we do not understand the how)

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  3. "If guns could have been stamped out globally early on, an admittedly impossible task but it is The NAPster's theoretical, why wouldn't we be in favor of such a stamping out?"

    This is where I have an issue. I could be wrong but I don't think Napster's theoretical is considering the impossible task of completely stamping out gun's completely. Napster is speaking in realistic terms with the understanding this is not possible.

    This is also where I find any realpolitik discussion go. A bunch of theoretical fantasy scenarios. To me, one reason anyone argues for NAP is because in the long run it does lead to the best results. There is no point to arguing the realpolitik strategy of government crushing blockchain technology because they might forget about it and let it become a true relic. Napsters point, if I understand correctly, is that in reality the government would not just let blockchain go to waste after stamping out private uses.

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  4. I always say: I would start the discussion about banning guns as soon as the government gives up its own. Sort of like the demand against the "rogue" states giving up nuke programs. US should control what it can and lead by example.

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    1. If N Korea had nukes and the US didn't, do you think Americans would have peace and freedom?

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    2. Does the US have peace and freedom?

      Has any government besides the USG ever used nukes?

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  5. Robert, thanks for elaborating on your realpolitik point. But I'm not sure it makes a difference to my argument. We're in the early innings of crypto-currencies. They do have utility to the private sector and utility to the state. Like the rest of us, the state, much to its chagrin, faces the law of scarcity, so it can only try to crush liberty in a finite number of ways at once. The more numerous the peaceful instances of "civil disobedience" the state has to chase down, the more thinly it will have to spread its resources, and so the more opportunity there is for the private sector to gain.

    The effort to identify millions of individuals to track their transactions is non-trivial. If some NSA spook is spending time on this project, ze will have to spend less time on some other liberty-crushing project. The more data the state collects, the less attention it can pay to any individual piece. Plus, if the state focuses on Bitcoin, perhaps the private sector pivots to using one of the other 1,323 crypto-currencies (in which case I assume that your realpolitik concept would demand that the state quickly crush that pivot too), or develops new enhancements to crypto-currencies to stay ahead of the state in its efforts.

    As to the gun point, the state may be the largest purveyor of evil, but it is not the only one; there are evil private citizens too. Firearms are the great equalizer for the physically weak or outnumbered. Thus even if the state did not have firearms, I would wish for private citizens to be able to be armed to protect themselves from regular violent crime.

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    1. The overwhelming amount of data is not an issue. All enforcement is selective. The idea is not to catch everyone but to have something on everybody to use should it be needed. It is very easy to search as needed for a particular individual.

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  6. Ha! The guy who relentlessly poked fun at "Libertarians for Trump" wants to teach people what realpolitik means.

    I hope the irony is not lost on Wenzel ;)

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  7. In the case of Bitcoin and other e-currencies, I see the potential for government to capture the space and make it pure evil with no good coming from it.

    I think the crux is in that statement Robert! The reason that seems clear is When looking at the history of the beginning of that crypto currency it is easy to wonder about who really created the technology and whether it was really created as an alternative or as a vehicle to simply legitimize a luring of the populace over to electronic cash which is what central banking has been marching towards for a few decades anyway.

    Re-couch Bitcoin as a replacement for the card or the ATM is a lot easier to sell then just making the current system switch over to a universally electronic system.

    People like new technology replacing old technology whether its better or not or even if its not in their best interest!

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  8. Speaking of strategy I wanted to ask you Robert if you have ever read Ben Stone's book: Sedition, Subversion and Sabotage Field Manuel #1: A Three Part Solution to the State and if you have any thoughts on it.

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    1. Not familiar with it. Will check it out.

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