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About Brainpolice

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  • Birthday 04/07/1984

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  • Gender: Male
  • Location: Lakewood, Ohio
  • Real name: Alex Strekal
  • Interests: Ethics, Epistemology, Philosophical Anarchism, Pragmatism, Linguistic Philosophy, Existentialism, and other such isms and ologies.

Brainpolice's Activity

  1. Brainpolice added a post in a topic Negative Utilitarianism & The End Of The World   

    Systematic pessimism: the nihilistic outcome of a broken faith in intrinsic meaning and value, the despair of coping with a world without a transcendental metaphysical foundation, the inability to see any reason for living or any value in life without the former judeo-christian (even secularized) sugar-coatings, the pr...e-Neitzschian mentality of a child trapped in enlightenment, the sour grapes of modernity.

    The bitter aftertaste of too high expectations or overextended standards.

    Systematic optimism: the charlatan's rationalization for evil, the contentment of the unimaginative, the blind naivetee of the faithful, the absurd embrace of the status quo as the best of all possible worlds, Leibniz's bulldung on paper, the last refuge of the damned, the opiate of the masses, an essentially medieval mentality.
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  2. Brainpolice added a post in a topic The Boundaries of Scientism   

    Preach on brutha
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  3. Brainpolice added a post in a topic "Philosophy is dead"   

    I can't comment on exactly what Hawking has to say because I haven't read it, but what's being talked about here wreaks of scientism and one of my big pet peeves is opposing scientism.
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  4. Brainpolice added a post in a topic Absolute, universal, eternal, unchanging, externally imposed, God-given morality that is not "relative" or "subjective"   

    I get told the same thing just as often by some "moral nihilist" atheists, which I find rather funny because they are sharing their premises with the theist moralist (only drawing the negative conclusion of "no morality"). To put the matter in more general terms, group X (which believes in morality) says that there is a transcendental metaphysical foundation for morality, without which there would be none, and group Y (which disbelieves in morality) agrees with the premise that morality requires a transcendental metaphysical foundation and concludes that "there is no morality" because that foundation has been removed. My philosophical sensibilities lie with saying something to the effect of "both of these positions inhabit the same paradigm, and if we step outside of that paradigm neither position is tenable". My view is one of "morality without transcendental metaphysical foundations, and yet not relativism".
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  5. Brainpolice added a post in a topic The free market   

    I certainly support property within the limits of a context, even what could be construed as "private property". I think that the radical left generally does, even if it has inherited the semantics of a critique of property from people like Marx and Proudhon. But I treat property as a multi-faceted thing with both a negative and positive side, and I think that contemporary free market libertarianism tends to be blind to the negative side in its zeal to be pro-property. Perhaps some elements of the radical left rhetorically claim to be completely anti-property, but if you get past the semantics (such as a property vs. possession distinction) they always favor some manifestation of property, even if it is very limited. Ultimately, one is dealing with a spectrum of property norms and property's relation to the lens of conflicting values.
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  6. Brainpolice added a post in a topic The free market   

    But this underscores precisely what I consider to be the problem with propertarianism, I.E. it creates an absolute idol out of private property as an end in itself. The idea of rigidly supporting whatever ways in which property rights (particularly in land) manifest strikes me as ridiculous from a consequentialist perspective. The moment you start appealing to property rights to justify what is essentially sociopathy, excersizing arbitrary control over people and deliberately excluding people from society, I think that one has sacrificed rationality to property.

    If I'm freezing to death in a blizzard in the woods and stumble upon an abandoned cabin, it seems to me that it is in my self-interest break into the cabin and save my life. If we take a deontological propertarian perspective, I am obligated to basically let myself die in the name of respecting the absolute sanctity of private property. In short, propertarianism gets quite murky when you start placing property before life.

    In other contexts, I would argue that propertarianism places property above freedom by using ownership as a rationalization for limiting people's personal freedom. When your support for property leads you to support what is basically a proprietary community or even a monarchy, no amount of definitional quibbling can address the problem. When land ownership becomes a justification for authoritarian rule over tenants, I see no practical difference between this and what the propertarians would oppose if it was in the context of what they view as an invalid title.

    When "what's mine is mine" becomes a rationalization for the arbitrary, it no longer is in context.
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  7. Brainpolice added a post in a topic Libertarianism   

    A situation in which there are massive power disparities, in which a certain group of people are at the top of a social heirarchy, already contains within it the conditions for sufficient monopolistic control to make the law blatantly not "emergent". The kind of legal order likely to arise from such a situation is most definitely not "emergent" if by "emergent" we are basically refering to a process of consensus decision-making. The social structure already precludes this, and this is why I don't think you can square propertarianism with this frankly quasi-democratic talk of emergent law. In a propertarian context, there simply is no way for the law to reflect some absolute "intersubjective consensus" that stays within its own boundaries, that does not usurp the will of some individual or group who happen to exist within the geographical area in which it is applied.

    But to make matters even more murky, to take this "emergence" for granted, it seems obvious that a completely open-ended framework in which whatever is codified from "tradition" is the "emergent law" is theoretically compatible with literally any set of norms or any legal system, to the point of the whole concept of freedom imploding in on itself. It reduces to the freedom to violate freedom within the boundaries of a tradition or a mob consensus. All of the arguments the anarcho-capitalist would make against direct democracy would apply to this, as it essentially is pure mob rule - the individual within a given legal system must submit to some populist tradition, which could literally be anything. If it's theocratic, then the individual is subjected to theocracy. And so on. What is the result of this other than a bunch of ghettoized mini-states in which different norms are codified into law?
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  8. Brainpolice added a post in a topic Libertarianism   

    I didn't argue that. I argued that a propertarian standard theoretically justifies or is compatible with a totalitarian legal regime within a geographical area. The talk of law "emerging" from individual consent is not a description of how a propertarian social context really works, as it is ultimately the land owners who have the decision-making power to determine the law. In the real world, most laws arise from a unilaterial process, even if some of them are mere codifications of pre-existing popular norms. The picture of consensual emergence simply doesn't describe what we are dealing with when there are vast power disparities at play which necessarily preclude participation. This picture doesn't consider what the power disparity entails.

    Yet this is what focusing narrowly on a "right to exclude" as inherent to freedom amounts to - submit or get out.

    My opposition is not to any context in which one influences others, but to an unbalance of power, the centralization or concentration of power, or excessive power. As I see it, propertarianism does not sufficiently, if at all, contextualize the excersize of power. The only limit it appears to place on power is a rather shallow rejection of physical aggression that is rife with internal contradictions even from the lens of the question of physical aggression. The social anarchist insight that anarcho-capitalists generally reject is that power disparities limit freedom. Anarcho-capitalism is willfully blind to the effects of power disparity, the ways in which heirarchical social structures necessarily undermine the personal freedoms of those not on top.

    I don't see how what you bring up here is directly relevant to the point I was making.

    Perhaps, but what you might be missing here is that I'm taking issue with much more than physical aggression. I'm objecting to social coercion as leverage to make people's lives shitty or arbitrarily control them via an appeal to ownership. There are all sorts of ways in which people's freedom can be limited, and their lives mad significantly worse off in general, without any physical aggression entering the picture.

    Yes, in that the pretense of it being "stateless" is based on a bed of sand.

    Via the power granted by unqualified property rights.

    In common social dynamics, people asquiesce and are not willing to face the risks of full-on rebellion, and from an integenerational standpoint, they are simply born into a pre-existing structure. Insurrection isn't generally used other than as a last resort, in extremely dire circumstances and with a populist undertone. Historical inertia alone is enough to keep a system of control in place for decades if not centuries. As long as the "sovereign" has circumstance on their side, as well as a powerful violent enforcement mechanism on top of that, resistance can be very futile.
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  9. Brainpolice added a post in a topic Libertarianism   

    I'm saying that in a propertarian context, within the domain of a particular area of land (whether it is owned by a single individual or some organization), that territorial domain essentially is its own legal order with all of the authority that a state has. The argument that one must either submit to the rules established by the owner(s) or leave effectively repeats the same argument the propertarian would otherwise reject if it were made for currently existing states.

    By "power" I basically refer to control over other people. And I'm saying that the question of asquisition of property is not a sensible dividing line between a state and a non-state if the control over other people is effectively the same (I.E. if there is a geographical area owned by some individual or group, that has full "sovereignty" in terms of law or decision-making power over whoever resides within it). Whether or not one sincerely thinks there is an "objective" legitimacy standard is beside the point, although in the case of ancaps who are not moral nihilists, they *do* make a "legitimacy" argument - and the point is that they effectively grant legitimacy to an institution that functions exactly like a state as long as the land is aquired in the right way. I'm saying that the aquisition question is not sufficient to address the issue.

    And I extend this criticism based on the integerationality problem to neo-lockean land ownership. If someone is simply born into a particular proprietary community, they effectively face the same situation. In short, a situation in which a "sovereign" land owner (or a group of them who jointly "own" a community) has unqualified legal dominion, "consent" is precluded.
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  10. Brainpolice added a post in a topic Libertarianism   

    I think you'll find the anarcho-capitalists to ultimately hold the ideal of *individual* secession. However, I think that their propertarianism is in tension with this ideal, and it begs some important questions.
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  11. Brainpolice added a post in a topic Libertarianism   

    Well, this is getting into territory that is part of what splits many left-libertarians from the common stock. Many propertarian libertarians will oppose "love it or leave it" if we are talking about what is currently recognized as states, but they will repeat the argument in the context of absolute property rights over land without realizing that they are effectively granting the same kind and scope of power as a state on the grounds of private property. In other words, all someone has to do is aquire a chunk of land in accordance with their standards, and all of a sudden they have no problem with completely unqualified authority, to the point where there is no practical difference between a powerful large-scale land owner and the "statism" that they otherwise would rail against.

    This is a contradiction made by many anarcho-capitalists that I have not seen them sufficiently rationalize their way out of. All that they can do is semantically distinguish a state from a non-state on the grounds of nothing more than a property *aquisition* norm. But the problem remains: even if we agree with this norm for obtaining land, even if someone obtains land in a seemingly "voluntary" manner, what makes an organization a state or have state-like powers is not simply a matter of how its juridiction is obtained. There is a question of legitimacy in terms of the kind and scope of power excersized. If this power is more or less identical, the fact that a given chunk of land is voluntarily obtained doesn't make a practical difference as far as the power question is concerned.

    So the propertarian is basically a hypocrit. They complain about "love it or leave it" in the context of currently existing nation-states, but make the same arguments that their opponents would make (I.E. they defend absolute power on the grounds that there is an option to exit the geographical area which the power is excersized over) in defense of nation-states when the context is switched to a chunk of land that is obtained in accordance with anarcho-capitalist standards. Except in my case, I don't see this problem as being a case for the state, but a case for the notion that a genuinely consistent and level-headed libertarian must reject propertarianism in addition to being a skeptic about the state. The alternative risks such a big inconsistency as to render libertarianism absurd.

    If this is disgressing too much, I apologize.
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  12. Brainpolice added a post in a topic Libertarianism   

    Well, I can sympathize with an opposition to large-scale geographical centralization of political power. However, I've always felt that there is a big paradox in the state's rights position (and while I don't think Block intends to advocate a minarchist state's rights position, it would seem to be the case that he is pragmatically endorsing it in opposition to "the union" and for the purpose of revisionism). The problem is that while state's rights or state secession is a mechanism by which a state can detach itself from the questionable encroachment of a more large-scale power, on the other hand it can effectively function to reinforce or rationalize literally whatever legal regime a given state has (I.E. a given state can stomp all over the freedom of people within it).

    Theoretically, a state could be internally totalitarian while being "sovereign" from a larger power, and I don't think that a smaller geographical area automatically equals more freedom. The cliche state's rights quip would be to say "you can vote with your feet", but (1) some people simply don't have the means to move, particularly those who are fairly poor, and they hence are practically stuck in a position of subordination to the shitty state of affairs within a given state and (2) the fact that people are allowed to leave does not, in and of itself, necessarily justify the kind or scope of power being excersized over them; the "love it or leave it" argument rears its ugly head even in the context of "state's rights". In short, state's rights can be a justification for mini-authoritarianisms and a landscape of closed off ghettoes just as much as it can be a liberation from a large-scale power. So state secession isn't necessarily a means towards more freedom from an individual standpoint.
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  13. Brainpolice added a post in a topic Libertarianism   

    I continue to consider myself a libertarian (to be more specific, left-libertarian), even though my associations are on its margins and I have argued extensively against most of the common arguments used by standard libertarians (including anarcho-capitalists). I think that it is a bit unfair to broad-brush libertarianism qua libertarianism as cultish and wrong-headed, but I certainly understand that there are legitimate reasons behind this given my personal experience in libertarian circles for a number of years now. The thing is, there are various currents within libertarianism (especially the libertarian left) that struggles against many of the things that it has a bad wrap for. This marginal element is basically constituted by outcasts from the libertarian party line who nonetheless remain libertarians in a basic sense.

    The problem is that contemporary libertarianism, at least in an American context, has been dominated by conservativism for decades. The formal Libertarian Party was mostly founded by people fleeing from the Republican party who wanted to return to a romanticised "old right" way of doing things. In spite of the fact that many libertarians wish to construe themselves as "neither left or right", their ideology is often colored by a distict right-wing lens even if they are not fully aware of it. It is often much more substantively anti-leftist than substantively anti-authoritarian, and sometimes it can be oddly pro-authoritarian due to its anti-leftism. Contemporary libertarian culture is a virtual haven for assorted right-wing reactionaries to justify themselves with the rhetoric of freedom. Many of the older-generation libertarians are essentially stuck in a cold war mentality in which "socialism" is the big baddie. The younger generation is mostly idealistic youth who are gulping up the propaganda of the older generation, although they tend to be more socially liberal.

    The problem is also that many of the libertarian intellectuals have formed an echo chamber that reinforces the same ideas without much meaningful internal criticism and expansion. It hardens into a narrow ideology that worships unquestioningly at the altar of private property and cannot concieve of social relations outside of the context of the question of physical aggression, culminating in a concept of freedom that is severely detached from reality. Many libertarians will defend the most absurd things, effectively justifying outright sociopathy, in the name of upholding a simplistic set of axoims. Folks like Walter Block defend slavery contracts and support sexual abuse on the grounds of private property. Hans Hoppe rationalizes monarchy and a totalitarian border policy. Gary North advocated stoning homosexuals in his theocratic libertopia. These are the kind of people that give libertarianism a bad name. Their thundering criticism of the state is overshadowed by the devil that lurks in the details of their ideology. The fundamental agenda is basically anti-egalitarianism, anti-leftism, capitalist apologetics.

    For more reasonable libertarians, I'd suggest people such as Roderick Long, Kevin Carson, Gary Chartier, and Charles Johnson.
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  14. Brainpolice added a post in a topic The free market   

    Not quite as straight-foreward as that. I'm saying that at least a notable portion of the property titles that anarcho-capitalists typically take for granted as being part of "the free market" are not a result of "freedom" so much as historically contingent on the state's legal standards and its favoritism towards certain parties (I.E. a certain group of land owners and "capitalists"). The kind of perpetual absentee ownership and centralized propertarian organizational arrangements that capitalists typically favor is nearly impossible without a state or a state-like entity backing it up. The enclosure of the commons and the transference of property titles from the old feudal order to a managerial class and assorted industrialists was a manuever made by many states during the rise of modern "capitalism". This is part of why, although hardly exhaustive of why, anarchists have traditionally been both anti-state and anti-capitalist.

    But I'm also saying that the concept of a "free market" in law itself is a bit of an oxymoron because the "freedom" of the market already presupposes a systematic context or legal framework being in place which determines what a legitimate property title is and what counts as a justified or unjustified use of physical force. The idea of such a legal determination being a part of the market itself appears to put the cart before the horse in that the "free" operation of the market depends on certain norms being in place (and enforced) already. What's really being talked about is "the market for the market", rendering the concept of "the market" so wide and ambiguous that it is theoretically compatible with literally any legal regime, including those that are internally "unfree". This is part of why I think that economic panarchy is incoherant.
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  15. Brainpolice added a post in a topic The free market   

    You're bumping up against the anarcho-capitalist definition of "free market", which defines it in absolute terms that necessarily preclude there being a state (with a state being defined as a territorial monopoly on law and the provision of security). In this view, to have a truly absolute free market, law and security must be rendered commodities or treated as services on the market in and of themselves. Hence, a minarchist arrangement is necessarily not a pure "free market" due to there not being a market for law and security.

    The minarchist (or anyone, for that matter) can possibly counter this by noting that the freedom of exchange embedded in the notion of "the free market" necessarily presupposes or requires a systematic context in which property rights are enforced (I.E. there is a certain legal recognition and enforcement of property titles over a geographic area, and this reason is part of why traditional anarchists have proclaimed capitalism to go hand in hand with the state). In short, it could be argued that "the market" is inevitably backed by the state at some level, since the nexus of exchanges we call "the market" takes place within a systematic legal context which allows it to function - treating law itself as inside of "the free market" is not to have a "free market" but to have a bunch of conflicting legal regimes over the same area, which may not be particularly "free" by any means.
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