1018: "Good Cop, Dadaist Cop"

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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:55 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:In other words, I meant that I have no idea what's supposed to be funny here. The positive thing is that Randall did not fall into the common pitfall of "telling instead of showing", which he does VERY often. But the situation itself here is just not funny. Randomness for randomness' sake usually does not work, and passing randomness off as "Dadaism" is very dumb.

And this is not a "Dadaist cartoon". It's a cartoon that references Dadaism.

Yeah, but you're still making some assumptions about what Randall ought to be trying to do here that you already know he's not doing. I mean, your criticism of every XKCD strip ever is essentially the same. A hell of a lot of this comic has to do with simply presenting an absurd scenario, usually an unlikely variation on a familiar one, and just playing out what that might look like. Sometimes that takes a slightly speculative form, but usually it's just a chance to pile on silly things. XKCD is doing silly things with big words that make people feel special for recognizing them, or make people look them up and appreciate the gag in retrospect (and, on occasion, sharing life observations that that audience might appreciate.)

Part of it is simply Randall's persona, too. The strip has to look sloppy and inconsistent even beyond the normal limits of being a normal human being in the real world, because it's supposed to look like shit off the top of his head. That's why it has the art style it does - it's meant to be notebook sketches of an essentially fictional person whom Randall has constructed. For that matter, 99% of the time, that's who we're talking about when we say Randall. So the concepts thrown out are easily as important as the execution, because they're contributing to that character; what's going on in this person's head, and how does that jive with what we already know about him?

Some of the criticisms you make are actually valid, but you have a very reductionist view of humor, so you miss some seriously important details, and I still haven't come close to understanding what you hope to accomplish. Of course, I generally get the sense you're pretty aware of your "character," too....
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby J Thomas » Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:22 am UTC

jonadab wrote:
Code: Select all
[quote]I find it ironic. Wikipedia says "In addition to being anti-war, dada was also anti-bourgeois and anarchist in nature." I always find it hard to reconcile anti-war and anarchisim.[/quote]

Every anarchist I know is anti-war. You do not understand anarchism.


It would be more accurate to say that most anarchists don't understand anarchy. They wouldn't be in favor of it if they did.

There's never been, and won't ever been, any such thing as a "nice" anarchy. Human nature is too perverse for that. When people can do whatever they want, the first thing they want to do is harm one another.


It's too soon to say it can't be done.

What if an anarchist society finds a way to encourage people like you to preferentially kill each other? Your numbers might go down enough that the other kinds of people can get on with their lives.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Kaijyuu » Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:54 am UTC

Anarchy actually has a good shot of working if we get people's necessities taken care of and remove the concept of property.

People getting necessities is the big one. We grouped into clans and made armies in the first place to protect and take land and food. If everyone has food and shelter guaranteed, that problem goes away. We're a ways away from that technologically to make it feasible, though (think star trek replicators or something similar).
Secondly, if the concept of property is done away with, you wouldn't have to hurt people to get what you want. You just go pick it up and no one cares. It's yours as much as anyone else's. Problems like mugging go away.


"Human nature" is a blanket term that can mean whatever you want it to mean. In reality, people don't hurt other people unless they stand to gain something from it. Give them what they want/need, and they won't hurt anyone. Feasible now? Not really. Down the road? Sure.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby prosfilaes » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:45 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:What if an anarchist society finds a way to encourage people like you to preferentially kill each other? Your numbers might go down enough that the other kinds of people can get on with their lives.


That might be more unlikely then a fully communist society working perfectly. All societies have to deal with people who will use force to get their way. They're naturally preferentially going to after the weak. Even if you magically deal with the problem in your society, you'll still have to deal with the fact that you'll be easy prey to outsiders; the only thing that kept Iraq from conquering weak Kuwait was nations with big militaries.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Maralais » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:35 am UTC

FITorion wrote:Do you find that there is a spike in the number of times a word in one of your comics is googled when your comics come out?

I had to google Dadaist... I wonder if the spike in googles of that could measure in some way the popularity of XKCD...

...

and the lack of knowledge of Dadaism the general public has...

Well, I'm pretty sure there were reports about strip podracing being searched more after the comic in question was out.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby cemper93 » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:37 pm UTC

prosfilaes wrote:
J Thomas wrote:What if an anarchist society finds a way to encourage people like you to preferentially kill each other? Your numbers might go down enough that the other kinds of people can get on with their lives.

That might be more unlikely then a fully communist society working perfectly. All societies have to deal with people who will use force to get their way. They're naturally preferentially going to after the weak. Even if you magically deal with the problem in your society, you'll still have to deal with the fact that you'll be easy prey to outsiders; the only thing that kept Iraq from conquering weak Kuwait was nations with big militaries.

Most left-anarchists believe that there are two different reasons for people to commit acts of violence or crime. The first one is the necessity imposed onto them by outer circumstances - German author and anarchist Georg Büchner once said "I despise nobody, even less for his wit or education, because it is nobody's ability not to become a stupid or a criminal - because under equal circumstances all of us would become equal, and because these circumstances are beyond our actions." The second one is mental illness, which left-anarchists would not consider something that a person may be punished for, but that has to be cured or at least soothed as far as possible, so that you may need a psychiatry, but not a jail. Of course, this is only about (magically?) dealing with the problem inside the anarchist society.
Regarding the outsiders, I want to note that during the Spanish Civil War the anarchists were by no means "easy prey" to Franco, but that they did in fact fare rather well.

Furthermore, please note that J Thomas was possibly being highly sarcastic due to jonadab's utter misunderstanding of anarchist ideas. Hint: left-anarchists don't want to abolish state, just hierarchy. And certainly they don't want to "allow people to do whatever they want". I think we had this link before.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby SirMustapha » Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:52 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Part of it is simply Randall's persona, too. The strip has to look sloppy and inconsistent even beyond the normal limits of being a normal human being in the real world, because it's supposed to look like shit off the top of his head. That's why it has the art style it does - it's meant to be notebook sketches of an essentially fictional person whom Randall has constructed. For that matter, 99% of the time, that's who we're talking about when we say Randall.


Well, I don't buy that justification. It makes sense, but there are way too many comics in xkcd's archive that look like ANYTHING but random notebook doodles -- like the "Depth" and "Height" comics, the "Green Flash" one with its lush colouring, the "wind turbines turning into tripods" one, the "movie timelines", "gravity wells", "Map of the Internet", "Internet Communities" and "Money" poster-comics and so on, are completely inconsistent with that "persona". xkcd did start out with random sketches, but since then it has taken the shape of a regular webcomic, with a (slightly) more polished art, a regular schedule, and jokes with punchlines. If xkcd had remained completely as "sketchbook humour", it would be completely different. In fact, most people who criticise xkcd think that it would be way better as a "pictoblag", without a fixed schedule, without the need for punchlines and actual drawing, and in which Randall could post whatever the hell he feels like. But xkcd is, technically, a fully fleshed out webcomic, and it's only reasonable to expect humour and consistency out of it.

Copper Bezel wrote:Some of the criticisms you make are actually valid, but you have a very reductionist view of humor, so you miss some seriously important details, and I still haven't come close to understanding what you hope to accomplish. Of course, I generally get the sense you're pretty aware of your "character," too....


Overall, I wished that it would become a more common practice in this forum for people to say what they think about the comics' merits. I see criticism here often, coming from people who are definitely not trolls, and they are often received with insults and mudslinging. There seems to be a core of people who want xkcd to be exactly the same thing forever, and Randall seems to be catering towards those people. Thing is, Randall does have some good ideas, and he could be a very good webcomic author, if only he would spend more effort in his craft, or hire an editor, for example.

But it seems that Randall's fanbase doesn't admit that Randall has to actually work to gain respect. I've seen a "genius" here suggest that there should be an option for people to pay to receive the comics a day early and correct his mistakes for him. Yes, there are people willing to pay to do his job. How can an artist possibly grown in conditions like that?
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby bigjeff5 » Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:42 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:Overall, I wished that it would become a more common practice in this forum for people to say what they think about the comics' merits.


I honestly don't care about analyzing the comics merits. I find most of the comics funny, and that's plenty for me. If the comic's "merits" were all the discussions in the comic threads were about I probably wouldn't bother with them at all. What I like are the discussions about Dadaism and Anarchism and Game Theory and Physics and Economics and Philosophy that inevitably crop up from some stupid joke in a stick figure comic. Just going by the fact that this is what usually happens in an XKCD comic thread, I think the majority - or at least a highly active minority - of XKCD comic thread posters are of the same mind as I am.

I dunno, maybe you should do a thesis on why so many people find Randall's comics funny even though they are so terrible and not at all funny, and how such obviously lame jokes can spark so many interesting discussions relevant to geek and nerd culture. Then maybe you could find some closure on the subject and leave the rest of us alone with your repetitive and largely irrelevant criticisms.

And I don't care if Randall has to work for his art. It's simply not a relevant factor in the equation for enjoyment. I couldn't give one whit if it takes him an hour to make a comic or a week. It simply doesn't matter at all to me, and I don't see why it should matter to you (though apparently it does).
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby J Thomas » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:36 pm UTC

prosfilaes wrote:
J Thomas wrote:What if an anarchist society finds a way to encourage people like you to preferentially kill each other? Your numbers might go down enough that the other kinds of people can get on with their lives.


That might be more unlikely then a fully communist society working perfectly.


Maybe. Who can say? Until somebody tries an anarchist society and tries a communist society, how can we find out which is more unlikely? I wouldn't expect perfection from either one, myself. I would wonder whether they can maintain themselves well enough to avoid collapse. Anything which can maintain itself might possibly get tuned to work better still. But things which collapse too quick don't get that chance.

All societies have to deal with people who will use force to get their way. They're naturally preferentially going to after the weak. Even if you magically deal with the problem in your society, you'll still have to deal with the fact that you'll be easy prey to outsiders; the only thing that kept Iraq from conquering weak Kuwait was nations with big militaries.


You are using deductive logic starting with a set of assumptions and undeclared definitions. I'm sure your assumptions fit your personal experience. It's hard to find out how much your assumptions create your experience. If you feel weak and defenseless, you might be attracting people who want to use force on you. And if you feel this is the way it works, you'll be particularly tempted to use force when you see weakness. Is this one of the things which goes away when you stop believing in it? How can you find out, except by not believing it and seeing whether it still happens? Could you do that? Could you stop believing in your assumptions about society? I doubt you can stop.

After all, what if you're right! If you stopped believing there are strong people watching you for signs of weakness so they can use force on you, who knows what would happen to you!

The truth aside, I notice that lots of anarchists have lots of theories about how they would handle the sort of problems you mention. I have no way to tell whether any of their theories could be made to work. The experiments have not been tried, any more than we have tried communism, free enterprise, or meritocracy. But the anarchist proponents I have listened to are just as completely certain they are correct as you are.

The only theory of government which has a long successful history is monarchy. And not so many centuries ago monarchists were saying that democracy couldn't possibly work, that it would lead to mob rule and utter failure. I used to think they were wrong, but looking at the US congress over the past dozen or so years, I'm suffering second thoughts. Still, the USA had a good run. While we owned a continent full of untapped resources just waiting to be exploited, it succeeded pretty well.

Maybe there are temporary local conditions in which anarchy would thrive. I'm afraid that would not prove any more than the local temporary success of democracy proves.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby SirMustapha » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:45 pm UTC

bigjeff5 wrote:I dunno, maybe you should do a thesis on why so many people find Randall's comics funny even though they are so terrible and not at all funny, and how such obviously lame jokes can spark so many interesting discussions relevant to geek and nerd culture.


Ok, I do that, and you do a thesis on why Twilight sells so much. Because if something is popular, then it is necessarily great, right?

bigjeff5 wrote:And I don't care if Randall has to work for his art. It's simply not a relevant factor in the equation for enjoyment. I couldn't give one whit if it takes him an hour to make a comic or a week. It simply doesn't matter at all to me, and I don't see why it should matter to you (though apparently it does).


Well, it matters because I have a little ounce of taste, you know.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Radical_Initiator » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:44 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
bigjeff5 wrote:I dunno, maybe you should do a thesis on why so many people find Randall's comics funny even though they are so terrible and not at all funny, and how such obviously lame jokes can spark so many interesting discussions relevant to geek and nerd culture.


Ok, I do that, and you do a thesis on why Twilight sells so much. Because if something is popular, then it is necessarily great, right?


It's not necessarily not great; popularity doesn't all of a sudden make something vulgar and useless, it just makes for something that people find accessible and appealing. I don't think you're necessarily championing exclusivity as the only aspect of greatness, but you do seem to dislike XKCD when it is "common", and especially when the fans are fervently in favor of it.

SirMustapha wrote:
bigjeff5 wrote:And I don't care if Randall has to work for his art. It's simply not a relevant factor in the equation for enjoyment. I couldn't give one whit if it takes him an hour to make a comic or a week. It simply doesn't matter at all to me, and I don't see why it should matter to you (though apparently it does).


Well, it matters because I have a little ounce of taste, you know.

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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:08 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:Well, I don't buy that justification. It makes sense, but there are way too many comics in xkcd's archive that look like ANYTHING but random notebook doodles -- like the "Depth" and "Height" comics, the "Green Flash" one with its lush colouring, the "wind turbines turning into tripods" one, the "movie timelines", "gravity wells", "Map of the Internet", "Internet Communities" and "Money" poster-comics and so on, are completely inconsistent with that "persona". xkcd did start out with random sketches, but since then it has taken the shape of a regular webcomic, with a (slightly) more polished art, a regular schedule, and jokes with punchlines. If xkcd had remained completely as "sketchbook humour", it would be completely different.

Yeah, but it didn't abandon the conceit entirely, either. And to some extent, I imagine the schedule's more for his own benefit in keeping consistent with it, honestly, than for the readers. But of course, it's easier to "market" that way, as well.

Overall, I wished that it would become a more common practice in this forum for people to say what they think about the comics' merits. I see criticism here often, coming from people who are definitely not trolls, and they are often received with insults and mudslinging. There seems to be a core of people who want xkcd to be exactly the same thing forever, and Randall seems to be catering towards those people. Thing is, Randall does have some good ideas, and he could be a very good webcomic author, if only he would spend more effort in his craft, or hire an editor, for example.

But it seems that Randall's fanbase doesn't admit that Randall has to actually work to gain respect. I've seen a "genius" here suggest that there should be an option for people to pay to receive the comics a day early and correct his mistakes for him. Yes, there are people willing to pay to do his job. How can an artist possibly grown in conditions like that?

I don't know - I guess I don't take webcomics altogether that seriously, either. I mean, I guess I could say that I don't take serials in general that seriously. XKCD strips are always available in the archive, but any one strip is only current for two or three days, and they often date themselves rather narrowly, jokes that won't even be funny next month. That makes them innately disposable to me, or like artifacts of some kind of ongoing performance art. And as you say, sometimes we get a big, complicated piece of info art instead, or a regular comic just hits a nerve; those are the bits the readers "clip and save," as it were. I just don't think the goal is to have the best possible selection of consistently funny things in an archive somewhere; there's no such thing as an XKCD box set, and no subsequent director's cut. It's certainly not just popularity, either, of course.

Newspaper comics go (went?) on for decades and decades, but by that point, no one really notices when an earlier strip gets slipped in place of a new one by mistake. Artists grow when they can take what they've learned from a past project and apply it to something new. XKCD is a single project. Randall can do a lot of shit with it, but there are still limits on what fits into it. I don't see Randall growing as an artist any more than I see Jon Stewart growing as an actor. He has a genuine interest in a lot of the subject areas he touches on, and I get the sense that that's what drives the strip. So ultimately, when he wants to move on to the next stage of anything, I think he's going to have to start by strangling his stick-man doppelganger to death in his closet and telling his readers to fuck off. I do think that'll happen just before, rather than just after, XKCD stops being relevant, though; he's a fan of Watterson, after all.

Edits for clarity - and to note that I could see the image blog thing you mentioned being a part of what he'd do at that stage. I mean, he has the XKCD blog, it could absorb some of the things that would otherwise have gone to the strip, etc. But I'd honestly think that'd be supplemental to some other kind of project, rather than the goal.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:27 am UTC

On the anarchy topic:

There are many forms of anarchism, but what they all have in common in the principle of non-aggression. A minority (anarcho-pacificsts) consider even violence in self-defence to be aggression, but most consider only the initiation of violence against nonviolent people to be aggression. They in turn are divided over what if anything counts as property and consequently what rights people have and thus what counts as violence, but that's really a separate question from the one which spurs arguments about whether anarchism could "work".

The hard part about making anarchism work is keeping a society anarchic. If nobody made a point of systemically defending against aggressors, an anarchic society would quickly degrade into the strong aggressively seizing power over the weak and ruling over them... which is warlordism, the most primitive form of state, and thus no longer anarchic. But (non-pacifistic) anarchism doesn't say that nobody can or should be organizing such a systemic defense; it only says that that is the only legitimate use of force. It is perfectly consistent with anarchism to have an organized police force keeping aggressors in check. But then the hard part is keeping that police force from abusing its power.

In other words, the problem with making anarchism work is that it quickly degrades into other forms of government. But that is hardly an endorsement of other forms of government over anarchism! Conversely, creating and preserving an anarchic society is precisely the same thing as creating and preserving good government! Take any existing form of government, and rework and refine it to the point that it never uses violent force except to prevent the use of violent force, and that it effectively and thoroughly curtails the initiation of violent force by others. Congratulations: you have now implemented the principle of non-aggression in law, and created anarchy.

Doesn't sound so bad anymore, does it?

Now, even if we could agree on whether to make anarchism work, there is still the hard problem of how to do so. There are two ways anarchism can work (i.e. two ways that bad governance, violent coercion, the ruling of some people over others, can be avoided): everybody can simply voluntarily not aggress against each other (voluntary pacifism); or those with more power than others can see to stopping anyone, including themselves, from aggressing on anyone else (good government). Neither of these seem much easier than the other, as those with power are the ones most likely to aggress upon others anyway.

However, as large-scale power is mostly a social creation, i.e. the product of some people lending their support to some organization and thus to its agents, there is some hope that we can ensure that those given such power are those who would not abuse it, if only enough people can be made to agree that power should not be abused, and to resist anyone who would so abuse it. In other words, the solution to the question of how to make anarchism work may lie simply in convincing enough people to make anarchism work. But so long as people keep granting power to those who would abuse it (as long as they promise to abuse it in their favor), we will be doomed to more aggressive forms of government.

Either way, the people collectively get the government they deserve; and when they deserve better, they will get it. That's just sad for the many individuals who already deserve better, and don't get it because of the unprincipled bastards they are surrounded with.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Tova » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:22 am UTC

Everything after the first panel seemed redundant.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby ahammel » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:13 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:[...]
In other words, the problem with making anarchism work is that it quickly degrades into other forms of government. But that is hardly an endorsement of other forms of government over anarchism! Conversely, creating and preserving an anarchic society is precisely the same thing as creating and preserving good government! Take any existing form of government, and rework and refine it to the point that it never uses violent force except to prevent the use of violent force, and that it effectively and thoroughly curtails the initiation of violent force by others. Congratulations: you have now implemented the principle of non-aggression in law, and created anarchy.

Doesn't sound so bad anymore, does it?
[...]

I'm sorry, but what it sounds like is "I'm a liberal or socialist or pacificist, but I don't want to call myself that because I already went to the trouble of buying this 'Anarchy Now' t-shirt". I thought "No violence except to prevent violence" was a pretty mainstream ideal already, the only objections being either that it's impossible or that some people deserve it. I don't think anybody denies that it would be a pretty awesome state of affairs.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby phsyron » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:16 pm UTC

Alternate first panel:

Ok, let's try good cop, Charlie Sheen cop.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:23 pm UTC

It's really not. Every society on Earth uses violent force to protect material property and means of production (as well they should.)
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby ahammel » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:16 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:It's really not. Every society on Earth uses violent force to protect material property and means of production (as well they should.)

Ok, good point. I was kind of using the term "violence" to include property crimes. If we do that, it kind of swings things back from "this sounds like a terrible idea" to "hey, this sounds kind of like liberalism!".

I imagine the protestation will be "if we don't have a concept of property, there won't be any property crimes", which is, I think, a fairly flagrant case of defining the problem away.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:32 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:I'm sorry, but what it sounds like is "I'm a liberal or socialist or pacificist, but I don't want to call myself that because I already went to the trouble of buying this 'Anarchy Now' t-shirt".


Quite the opposite. I don't call myself an anarchist precisely most people will misunderstand what that means; I don't "own the T-shirt" as you suggest. I sometimes call myself a liberal (or libertarian) or socialist, but those are just as frequently misunderstood as well. I've taken to usually saying "libertarian socialist" (or better still a "conservatively progressive libertarian socialist") nowadays because then at least the bulk of people will be confused and ask for a proper explanation instead of instantly pigeonholing me as "the enemy", and those who are already familiar with the term already are usually thoughtful enough to listen to why I'm not exactly what usually gets called a libertarian socialist either.

I'm not defending the label. I'm not fond of labels to begin with. I'm defending the idea which people who label themselves thus are promoting. I don't care if that idea ends up getting labelled that in the end, just that it gets supported.

I thought "No violence except to prevent violence" was a pretty mainstream ideal already, the only objections being either that it's impossible or that some people deserve it. I don't think anybody denies that it would be a pretty awesome state of affairs.


Tell that to all the people on the right who want to outlaw (i.e. authorize the use of violent force to prevent) victimless 'crimes' which happen to go against their religious codes, or worse still, just to support their own advantageous position in society; or all the people on the left who want to outlaw still more victimless 'crimes' for the sake of protecting people from themselves, or some well-intentioned but unjustified social cause; and everybody on every side who thinks it's fine to steal from people to fund these ends, or for the police to have special powers and privileges above those we would trust to ordinary citizens to accomplish those ends.

Most people will say "no violence except to prevent violence", but then fail completely to think through what the prohibition of aggressive violence really proscribes, and then allow a huge double-standard on the acceptability of violence when certain designated organizations carry it out vs when ordinary people carry it out.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Adavistic Puma » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:57 pm UTC



It's funny to see that version of the FAQ posted twice, and yet not to see this one, which I thought was much more well known:
http://www.anarchistfaq.org/ (Or alternatively www.anarchismfaq.org)
This is the same Anarchist FAQ that you get if you type "apt-get install anarchism" into a Debian or Ubuntu command line(!!)
Maybe people don't like it because it is dismissive of the validity of "capitalist" anarchism?

For people who doubt the possibility of anarchist ways of life in real-world societies, I'd like to second the recommendation by li4alex for James C Scott's books, the full title of his book on Zomia is "The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia".

I think that a great way to counter the "unrestrained human nature is terrible, self destructive and anti-cooperative" type arguments is to look at research done by Disaster Sociologists, as to how people actually treat each other when there is a breakdown in the external forces of social order. I'd recommend the book "A paradise built in hell" by Rebecca Solnit as an accessible introduction to the field, or take a look at Articles like this one
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby nalply » Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:50 pm UTC

DEBATE: Is an impossible-to-translate language even possible?


Another example is sign language. My wife had an accident abroad. She was summoned as a witness in an international penal case. She was interviewed with the help of an interpreter and described the accident location in sign language. Then she found the description in the records distorted and omitting important details. We realized that sign language has an unparalleled expressive power in describing locations.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby jalohones » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:11 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:What scares me is to imagine how many stupid wannabe geeks will start referring to this comic every single time Dada is mentioned ...


What scares me is that SirMustapha liked my comment.

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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby jpk » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:59 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:On the anarchy topic:

There are many forms of anarchism, but what they all have in common in the principle of non-aggression.



Not really, no. What they have in common is rejection of hierarchical forms of governance.
at's really a separate question from the one which spurs arguments about whether anarchism could "work".
The hard part about making anarchism work is keeping a society anarchic. If nobody made a point of systemically defending against aggressors, an anarchic society would quickly degrade into the strong aggressively seizing power over the weak and ruling over them... which is warlordism, the most primitive form of state, and thus no longer anarchic. But (non-pacifistic) anarchism doesn't say that nobody can or should be organizing such a systemic defense; it only says that that is the only legitimate use of force. It is perfectly consistent with anarchism to have an organized police force keeping aggressors in check. But then the hard part is keeping that police force from abusing its power.



This is all reasonable.
In other words, the problem with making anarchism work is that it quickly degrades into other forms of government. But that is hardly an endorsement of other forms of government over anarchism! Conversely, creating and preserving an anarchic society is precisely the same thing as creating and preserving good government! Take any existing form of government, and rework and refine it to the point that it never uses violent force except to prevent the use of violent force, and that it effectively and thoroughly curtails the initiation of violent force by others. Congratulations: you have now implemented the principle of non-aggression in law, and created anarchy.


This is less good. Governments can seek to maintain themselves in a peaceful fashion without being even vaguely anarchistic in nature. In fact, I think it's safe to say that any government would prefer to operate with a minimum of physical aggression, simply for the sake of convenience. Does this mean that any government which achieves this goal would be, ipso facto, anarchistic?


Take any existing form of government, and rework and refine it to the point that it never uses violent force except to prevent the use of violent force, and that it effectively and thoroughly curtails the initiation of violent force by others. Congratulations: you have now implemented the principle of non-aggression in law, and created anarchy.
Doesn't sound so bad anymore, does it?


I don't know where you get the idea that a perfect totalitarian state would be an anarchy. That seems incorrect to me.
Either way, the people collectively get the government they deserve; and when they deserve better, they will get it. That's just sad for the many individuals who already deserve better, and don't get it because of the unprincipled bastards they are surrounded with.


Do you really believe this? Leaving aside the Godwin-triggering case, were the Russian serfs such godawful bastards up until 1861, and did they then suddenly become deserving of some measure of partial freedom?
Was Ceausescu a punishment visited upon the people of Romania, and if so, by whom?

Maybe you could pick some existing government, and explain how the people governed by it go about deserving it today, and how they might go about deserving something better in the future?
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby whateveries » Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:51 am UTC

Nice. This is nice, an interesting bit of chin scratching & eyebrow waggling theorising about anarchy from Pfhorest and others mixed up with a polite discussion between SirMustupha and the fanbase, All I have to add is, nice work everybody. Now hand me the monkey back, you have done enough damage with your.
it's fine.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:33 am UTC

jpk wrote:Not really, no. What they have in common is rejection of hierarchical forms of governance.

But what does that mean, exactly? I've never heard of an anarchist objecting to one person giving advice or direction and a bunch of people voluntarily following along or helping out because they agree it's good advice or direction. Or of several tiers of such voluntary organization. Anarchists don't object to leaders, in that sense; they object to rulers. (That's what the word means: "no rulers"). What makes a ruler different from a mere leader is that while a leader may still say "you (or we) should do this or that", a ruler adds "or else". In other words, a ruler threatens to violently force you to do what he says. That is what anarchists object to.

This is less good. Governments can seek to maintain themselves in a peaceful fashion without being even vaguely anarchistic in nature. In fact, I think it's safe to say that any government would prefer to operate with a minimum of physical aggression, simply for the sake of convenience. Does this mean that any government which achieves this goal would be, ipso facto, anarchistic?

Every master would prefer his slaves simply obey his commands and not fight back. If he does this by fear and intimidation, such that nobody dares oppose him, then it is not "peaceful" even though he may never have to actually lift a finger; there is still the threat, however implicit it may be, that if his will is not done then violence will be brought down upon the violators. On the other hand, if a "master" is obeyed by his "slaves" either because they willingly follow his leadership and guidance, or because he offers them something they consider worth their service, then you don't really have a master-slave relationship at all, because the "slaves" are free to disobey the "master" without fear of retribution.

Likewise rulers and subjects as masters and slaves. A truly peaceful relationship between a "ruler" and his "subjects" means there are no longer rulers or subjects; though there may still be leaders and followers, protectors and wards, but anarchists don't object to that. So yes, if a government managed to conduct its affairs in a completely peaceful manner, then it would be, ipso facto, anarchistic - because it would be a stateless government, a government that doesn't not claim a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, but uses force only insofar as it would be legitimate for anybody else to do so. Anarchists do not object to governments; they object to states.

Take any existing form of government, and rework and refine it to the point that it never uses violent force except to prevent the use of violent force, and that it effectively and thoroughly curtails the initiation of violent force by others. Congratulations: you have now implemented the principle of non-aggression in law, and created anarchy.
Doesn't sound so bad anymore, does it?

I don't know where you get the idea that a perfect totalitarian state would be an anarchy.

I don't know where you get the idea that a perfectly liberal government is totalitarian.

Either way, the people collectively get the government they deserve; and when they deserve better, they will get it. That's just sad for the many individuals who already deserve better, and don't get it because of the unprincipled bastards they are surrounded with.

Do you really believe this? Leaving aside the Godwin-triggering case, were the Russian serfs such godawful bastards up until 1861, and did they then suddenly become deserving of some measure of partial freedom?
Was Ceausescu a punishment visited upon the people of Romania, and if so, by whom?

I admit that that's a pretty harsh way of putting it, but my point was simply that politicians get their power from the support, and lack of opposition, of the people. Someone with a bunch of crazy ideas ordering people around, no matter or strong or smart or whatever, isn't going to accomplish anything if everybody ignores his ranting and then tramples him when he gets violent. He only becomes powerful, and thus dangerous, when other people start following along with him, and nobody else gets together to put a stop to that.

Although, I guess I can't say that it's really obligatory for people to defend themselves, i.e. it's not their fault that they get attacked. So if some minority decide that they're going to run rampant over the country, I guess I can't really say that the people they victimize "deserve it". But my point stands that the only thing that can keep that from happening is if those people don't play passive victim and do defend themselves. They shouldn't have to; but they do have to, because there's nobody else besides the people to do it, so if we don't, collectively, defend ourselves, then nobody will, and we'll get stuck with whoever would impose their will upon us. We won't be rid of such tyranny until nobody will stand for it, because it is only by our standing for it that it is able to exist.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby J Thomas » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:14 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
jpk wrote:
Either way, the people collectively get the government they deserve; and when they deserve better, they will get it. That's just sad for the many individuals who already deserve better, and don't get it because of the unprincipled bastards they are surrounded with.

.... Was Ceausescu a punishment visited upon the people of Romania, and if so, by whom?

I admit that that's a pretty harsh way of putting it, but my point was simply that politicians get their power from the support, and lack of opposition, of the people. Someone with a bunch of crazy ideas ordering people around, no matter or strong or smart or whatever, isn't going to accomplish anything if everybody ignores his ranting and then tramples him when he gets violent. He only becomes powerful, and thus dangerous, when other people start following along with him, and nobody else gets together to put a stop to that.


I think Ceausescu was a punishment visited upon the people of Romania by the USSR government. They wanted a good solid buffer between them and the US military, and they didn't care too much what Ceausescu did to his people while he did what they did care about.

Similarly with Trujillo and Somoza etc for the USA. We were in favor of democracy but we were even more in favor of anti-communism, and we were happy to support evil dictators provided they were anticommunist evil dictators.

Pretty often people who are opposed to oppression in general aren't much concerned when it's oppression of a visibly-different minority. So for example a lot of Americans don't support Israel, even though without unconditional US support Israelis might become terribly oppressed.

Meanwhile most Americans don't care about Israelis oppressing Palestinians. They're dirty arabs who hate the USA, so they deserve it. And anyway they could go live anywhere in the world that's owned by arabs or muslims, at least 500 times as big an area as Palestine, and surely they'd be happier among their own kind. Israel is a tiny little country, why would arabs want to live if not because they're antisemitic?

And hardly any Americans have much concern about Palestinian Muslims oppressing Palestinian Christians. What could we even do about it if we cared? Invite Palestinian Christians to come here? But they're dirty arabs who hate us and hate Israel.

Probably there are Palestinian Christian minorities that other Palestinian Christians are mistreating. I've never heard about it because our media considers it so unimportant....
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby jpk » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:20 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
jpk wrote:Not really, no. What they have in common is rejection of hierarchical forms of governance.

But what does that mean, exactly? I've never heard of an anarchist objecting to one person giving advice or direction and a bunch of people voluntarily following along or helping out because they agree it's good advice or direction. Or of several tiers of such voluntary organization. Anarchists don't object to leaders, in that sense; they object to rulers. (That's what the word means: "no rulers"). What makes a ruler different from a mere leader is that while a leader may still say "you (or we) should do this or that", a ruler adds "or else". In other words, a ruler threatens to violently force you to do what he says. That is what anarchists object to.


You've been hanging around with different anarchists than I have. Typical anarchist views as I've understood them hold that social pressures, sociological pressures, even personal authority devolving from charisma are hierarchical in nature and should be avoided by arranging the terms of our association to prevent them from becoming power. For example, in an organization roles should be rotated and distributed to prevent a "secretary" from becoming the General Secretary, or to prevent the acting treasurer from holding the role by default, allowing them to exercise undue control over a treasury. These are actual concerns of actual anarchists.
These cases are not aggressive dominance, but they are hierarchy, and they are governance, and anarchists in my experience object to them as much as they object to state dominance.


This is less good. Governments can seek to maintain themselves in a peaceful fashion without being even vaguely anarchistic in nature. In fact, I think it's safe to say that any government would prefer to operate with a minimum of physical aggression, simply for the sake of convenience. Does this mean that any government which achieves this goal would be, ipso facto, anarchistic?

Every master would prefer his slaves simply obey his commands and not fight back. If he does this by fear and intimidation, such that nobody dares oppose him, then it is not "peaceful" even though he may never have to actually lift a finger; there is still the threat, however implicit it may be, that if his will is not done then violence will be brought down upon the violators. On the other hand, if a "master" is obeyed by his "slaves" either because they willingly follow his leadership and guidance, or because he offers them something they consider worth their service, then you don't really have a master-slave relationship at all, because the "slaves" are free to disobey the "master" without fear of retribution.

Likewise rulers and subjects as masters and slaves. A truly peaceful relationship between a "ruler" and his "subjects" means there are no longer rulers or subjects; though there may still be leaders and followers, protectors and wards, but anarchists don't object to that. So yes, if a government managed to conduct its affairs in a completely peaceful manner, then it would be, ipso facto, anarchistic - because it would be a stateless government, a government that doesn't not claim a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, but uses force only insofar as it would be legitimate for anybody else to do so. Anarchists do not object to governments; they object to states.

Take any existing form of government, and rework and refine it to the point that it never uses violent force except to prevent the use of violent force, and that it effectively and thoroughly curtails the initiation of violent force by others. Congratulations: you have now implemented the principle of non-aggression in law, and created anarchy.
Doesn't sound so bad anymore, does it?

I don't know where you get the idea that a perfect totalitarian state would be an anarchy.

I don't know where you get the idea that a perfectly liberal government is totalitarian.


A perfect totalitarian government would be the one that never needs to use force, but is obeyed anyway. For example, a government which controlled education so perfectly that its citizenry believed that it was their duty to obey without question any order coming down the hierarchy would be a perfect totalitarian state, and no violence or aggression would be required within the state. It could easily apply violent force to curtail the initiation of force against it, because its citizens would take up arms to defend the [Home | Mother | Father]land with all the zeal of the true believer, and feel honored by the privilege of dying in the service of the Leader.

This is totalitarianism, reworked and refined to meet your definition. It is not anarchy. It is certainly not a perfectly liberal government.

Either way, the people collectively get the government they deserve; and when they deserve better, they will get it. That's just sad for the many individuals who already deserve better, and don't get it because of the unprincipled bastards they are surrounded with.

Do you really believe this? Leaving aside the Godwin-triggering case, were the Russian serfs such godawful bastards up until 1861, and did they then suddenly become deserving of some measure of partial freedom?
Was Ceausescu a punishment visited upon the people of Romania, and if so, by whom?

I admit that that's a pretty harsh way of putting it, but my point was simply that politicians get their power from the support, and lack of opposition, of the people. Someone with a bunch of crazy ideas ordering people around, no matter or strong or smart or whatever, isn't going to accomplish anything if everybody ignores his ranting and then tramples him when he gets violent. He only becomes powerful, and thus dangerous, when other people start following along with him, and nobody else gets together to put a stop to that.

Although, I guess I can't say that it's really obligatory for people to defend themselves, i.e. it's not their fault that they get attacked. So if some minority decide that they're going to run rampant over the country, I guess I can't really say that the people they victimize "deserve it". But my point stands that the only thing that can keep that from happening is if those people don't play passive victim and do defend themselves. They shouldn't have to; but they do have to, because there's nobody else besides the people to do it, so if we don't, collectively, defend ourselves, then nobody will, and we'll get stuck with whoever would impose their will upon us. We won't be rid of such tyranny until nobody will stand for it, because it is only by our standing for it that it is able to exist.


I'll grant you that one way people gain freedom from truly brutal repression is to rise up against it. However, most people will not rise up against a government unless their conditions are truly intolerable - literally so, since they know they are likely to die or lose whatever it is they have in the effort. So mass uprisings can get you from intolerable to other-than-awful. Now, how do you get from tolerably awful to something better? Do the people of Venezuela deserve Chavez? Do the ones who stay in Venezuela deserve him more than those who leave for the US or other countries in the region?
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby jpk » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:22 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:
I think Ceausescu was a punishment visited upon the people of Romania by the USSR government. They wanted a good solid buffer between them and the US military, and they didn't care too much what Ceausescu did to his people while he did what they did care about.


Ah, I see. So in what sense was he deserved by those people?
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby J Thomas » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:30 pm UTC

jpk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
I think Ceausescu was a punishment visited upon the people of Romania by the USSR government. They wanted a good solid buffer between them and the US military, and they didn't care too much what Ceausescu did to his people while he did what they did care about.


Ah, I see. So in what sense was he deserved by those people?


I'm not clear how we decide what people deserve. Perhaps the people of the USSR deserved the government they got, on average, and the people of Romania were a small minority that got the worst of it. They weren't a small minority directly governed by the USSR government. But, well, these things happen.

Governments are kind of sloppy that way. They don't just oppress their own people.

OK, did you want a specific answer? Look at a map of eastern europe. The Romanians knew that they were likely to suffer from their proximity to the USSR. The USSR was a great big threat to them. So they chose the only allies that had any real chance to help them against the USSR, namely Nazi Germany. No matter how much they disliked the Nazis, the USSR was closer and was likely to do worse things to them. But then the alliance lost, and both were conquered. At that point probably the majority of Americans who gave even the first thought to Romania figured that Romanians deserved whatever the Russians did to them. Because they picked the wrong side of WWII and they lost.

There was no good choice. Sometimes it just sucks to be Romanian.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby jpk » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:41 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
jpk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
I think Ceausescu was a punishment visited upon the people of Romania by the USSR government. They wanted a good solid buffer between them and the US military, and they didn't care too much what Ceausescu did to his people while he did what they did care about.


Ah, I see. So in what sense was he deserved by those people?


I'm not clear how we decide what people deserve.
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The use of the word "deserve" was in response to "people get the government they deserve". This has always struck me as a lazy verbal tic from the anarcho-libertarian-radical-twostep brigade, and very offensive to people who actually live under governmnents they are not in a position to change. I think you're right in analzying the brutal dictatorship as a result of global politics of the last century. The point I'm getting at, in response to phforrest, is that none of that was decided by the people who had to suffer under the results.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby inemnitable » Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:14 am UTC

ahammel wrote:Really? I hereby define a language that is exactly like English only Vigenère-enciphered using an arbitrarily long stream of random letters. That's certainly impossible to translate (or even comprehend) without the key. Does it not count as a language for some reason?


What prevents me from defining another arbitrary language encoded in the same way from your language using an arbitrary key? Indeed, what prevents me from doing this with ANY language and subsequently calling that language translated (into my new language)? If we accept your premise as valid, then we must conclude that any language is translatable, rather than the opposite.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:18 am UTC

ahammel wrote:Really? I hereby define a language that is exactly like English only Vigenère-enciphered using an arbitrarily long stream of random letters. That's certainly impossible to translate (or even comprehend) without the key. Does it not count as a language for some reason?

While any given message may be made untranslatable by such a method, I have my doubts about whether that can be used for a complete language, because of the ways that messages in that language must relate to each other in a meaningful way.

For illustration, consider this question: Is it possible that we meet some completely unknown people whose language and culture we know absolutely nothing about, whose language we have to begin translating from scratch with no clues from other related languages, and by observing their use of the language we get to a point where the things they say make sense to us, and the things we say to them in their language make sense to them -- so that we appear to be competent users of their language, both to them and to ourselves -- but in fact we got the key wrong and we're just getting one of the many seemingly-meaningful languages of the same length (what is that I don't even) which could be translated from their language with different keys?
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:45 am UTC

jpk wrote:You've been hanging around with different anarchists than I have. Typical anarchist views as I've understood them hold that social pressures, sociological pressures, even personal authority devolving from charisma are hierarchical in nature and should be avoided by arranging the terms of our association to prevent them from becoming power. For example, in an organization roles should be rotated and distributed to prevent a "secretary" from becoming the General Secretary, or to prevent the acting treasurer from holding the role by default, allowing them to exercise undue control over a treasury. These are actual concerns of actual anarchists.
These cases are not aggressive dominance, but they are hierarchy, and they are governance, and anarchists in my experience object to them as much as they object to state dominance.

I'm sure that most anarchists would agree that discouraging those kinds of arrangements is laudable, to prevent aggressive dominance from arising. But would they consider such arrangements morally impermissible the same way that they would aggressive dominance? In other words, what would anarchists have done about such arrangements, if people are voluntarily (i.e. without violent coercion) entering into them? Violently coerce them not to? Somehow I don't think so.

A perfect totalitarian government would be the one that never needs to use force, but is obeyed anyway. For example, a government which controlled education so perfectly that its citizenry believed that it was their duty to obey without question any order coming down the hierarchy would be a perfect totalitarian state, and no violence or aggression would be required within the state. It could easily apply violent force to curtail the initiation of force against it, because its citizens would take up arms to defend the [Home | Mother | Father]land with all the zeal of the true believer, and feel honored by the privilege of dying in the service of the Leader.

This is totalitarianism, reworked and refined to meet your definition. It is not anarchy. It is certainly not a perfectly liberal government.


This actually raises a very interesting question, one to which an answer doesn't immediately spring to mind. How can you tell the different between legitimate teaching, and propaganda? Between a perfectly well-raised and well-mannered populace, and a brainwashed populace?

You come upon a foreign country. The people of that country do not inflict any violence upon each other. Their government has asked them not to inflict any violence upon each other, but the causal relationship there is unclear. Their government asks nonviolent things of them, and they comply without resistance; but the people all insist that they're all good ideas and they're glad they've got such wise leadership to suggest such things. You ask them whether, if their government told them to do something that was not a good idea, would they disobey; and they insist that yes of course they would, but their government thus far never leads them astray. They insist that they are not brainwashed; they insist that they have correctly assessed that they had good leadership and that they voluntarily follow it.

How can you tell whether this is a country of rational people with an impossibly utopian benevolent government leading them, or a country of evil despots with an impossible dystopian obedient population? For that matter, how can you really call them "evil despots" when they're not asking anyone to do anything violent and not threatening violence upon anyone? Does it come down to who is asking whom to do what? Maybe if the leaders are running the country into the ground for their own short-term gain, and the people are suffering but don't blame the leaders for it and continue to believe that the leaders will wisely lead them out of their suffering? What if the leaders believe that they are doing so as well, leading the people through a dark time into salvation that is? Then you've just got a country of morons, the blind following the blind. What if the leaders know that they are leading the people to their doom? Ah, then it's pretty clear that this is something dystopian.

So the question then becomes, if you find yourself living in such a country and discover such a thing, what is warranted in response? You've got self-serving liars and hordes of idiots following them. Sounds familiar already. But nobody is threatening anybody with violence -- and that's where it becomes really different. It's all just words. So guess what -- you can counter their words with your words. If the leaders are really being as non-aggressive as we stipulated, then nobody is doing to disappear you or break your kneecaps for speaking out against the leaders. So really, the people are still free -- anyone can disobey if they like -- they've just been mislead. You might be able to construe some of that misleading as a fraudulent trade, which fleshes out to theft and thus violence... but we've stipulated that there is no violence here, so really, all you've got is people knowingly giving bad advice for free, and suckers falling for it. My sympathy for the suckers, really, but since you don't even need to lift a finger to avoid becoming one, and you can help others likewise just by speaking and no harm will come to you for it, it's hard to say that these people aren't completely free, even if they are mislead.

I'll grant you that one way people gain freedom from truly brutal repression is to rise up against it. However, most people will not rise up against a government unless their conditions are truly intolerable - literally so, since they know they are likely to die or lose whatever it is they have in the effort. So mass uprisings can get you from intolerable to other-than-awful. Now, how do you get from tolerably awful to something better? Do the people of Venezuela deserve Chavez? Do the ones who stay in Venezuela deserve him more than those who leave for the US or other countries in the region?

Resistance doesn't only come in the form of violent uprising. If the government is sufficiently non-aggressive already that peaceful regime change is possible, if the government will step down and let another one take the reigns if enough people demand it, i.e. it's a democracy, then if enough people demand a completely non-aggressive government, they will get one. If a majority, even a simple majority, of Americans refused to accept anyone to any elected office they have a vote on who did not believe in non-aggression, then we could have a non-aggressive government.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby J Thomas » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:38 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:If a majority, even a simple majority, of Americans refused to accept anyone to any elected office they have a vote on who did not believe in non-aggression, then we could have a non-aggressive government.


What an absurd idea!

If the US government gave up aggression, anything could happen! Cuba could be communist. Afghanistan could harbor terrorists. There could be pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Everybody in the world might do whatever-the-hell they wanted, and we would have no way to stop them!

</sarcasm>
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby jpk » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:10 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:If a majority, even a simple majority, of Americans refused to accept anyone to any elected office they have a vote on who did not believe in non-aggression, then we could have a non-aggressive government.


What an absurd idea!

If the US government gave up aggression, anything could happen! Cuba could be communist. Afghanistan could harbor terrorists. There could be pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Everybody in the world might do whatever-the-hell they wanted, and we would have no way to stop them!

</sarcasm>


It is an absurd idea, of course. Not because aggression is a feature I admire in governments, but because selecting a politician for office on the basis of strict adherence to one benchmark issue is always absurd. Look at the effect it's had on the Republican party. I suppose for an anarchist, it's wonderful, finally they have a party that's advocating the repeal of the government, but the trouble is they don't actually mean that, they just say it. But whatever you think of the ideas, the cretins that have come to the fore on the basis of strict adherence to a popular party line and nothing else should demonstrate to you that this is idiocy of the first water.
The only way this could make sense is if you're a steer-for-the-ditch anarchist. If you voted for Bush, hoping he'd make things so bad we'd get the revolution, then this is a good policy for you. Otherwise, it's simply nuts.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:21 am UTC

jpk wrote:It is an absurd idea, of course. Not because aggression is a feature I admire in governments, but because selecting a politician for office on the basis of strict adherence to one benchmark issue is always absurd. Look at the effect it's had on the Republican party. I suppose for an anarchist, it's wonderful, finally they have a party that's advocating the repeal of the government, but the trouble is they don't actually mean that, they just say it. But whatever you think of the ideas, the cretins that have come to the fore on the basis of strict adherence to a popular party line and nothing else should demonstrate to you that this is idiocy of the first water.
The only way this could make sense is if you're a steer-for-the-ditch anarchist. If you voted for Bush, hoping he'd make things so bad we'd get the revolution, then this is a good policy for you. Otherwise, it's simply nuts.

I fear that if we continue down this line this will become a political argument of the less-interesting kind (Republicans vs Democrats ooh how interesting, I haven't heard that since last time I turned on the TV), but I have to clarify: Republicans are only in favor of getting rid of the parts of government that keep the already-powerful from doing whatever the hell they want. They are very much in favor of the parts of government that keep the powerless in line. That is completely the opposite approach an anarchist would take: the laws which allow some people to rule over others are the only ones that need to go, and only the laws that protect people from being ruled over by others can stay. (Democrats ostensibly have more in common with the 'socialist' ends of anarchism, but pursue those goals by adding more restraint to the top instead of taking restraint off the bottom).

I am very much not of the "get rid of all government" mindset the way that Republicans preach it.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby J Thomas » Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:18 am UTC

jpk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:If a majority, even a simple majority, of Americans refused to accept anyone to any elected office they have a vote on who did not believe in non-aggression, then we could have a non-aggressive government.


What an absurd idea!

If the US government gave up aggression, anything could happen!


It is an absurd idea, of course. Not because aggression is a feature I admire in governments, but because selecting a politician for office on the basis of strict adherence to one benchmark issue is always absurd. Look at the effect it's had on the Republican party. I suppose for an anarchist, it's wonderful, finally they have a party that's advocating the repeal of the government, but the trouble is they don't actually mean that, they just say it.


I'm not clear what you're advocating here. If we want politicians to do something good, then of course they'll tell us they'll do what we want. Then they go to DC and go to a party and do something they can get blackmailed for, and they do whatever the blackmailers tell them to.

So do you figure we should tell the politicians we don't want them to do good?

Is the problem that the message is too simple? Instead of telling them "Don't be aggressive", we should give them a list of 500 things we want and then see how many of them they vote for?

But whatever you think of the ideas, the cretins that have come to the fore on the basis of strict adherence to a popular party line and nothing else should demonstrate to you that this is idiocy of the first water.


How can you tell whether they're cretins? They're successful by strict adherence to their party line. They do it well and get success. What does that say about their intelligence? Would they be smarter to do something that doesn't work?

The only way this could make sense is if you're a steer-for-the-ditch anarchist. If you voted for Bush, hoping he'd make things so bad we'd get the revolution, then this is a good policy for you. Otherwise, it's simply nuts.


As you pointed out, it's just talk. Republicans don't want to repeal government. Do they want to stop putting people in prison for drugs? Allow abortion? Let gays into the military? Legalize immigration? Easier bankruptcy? Of course not! The point is less government regulation for Republicans, and more for their enemies.

Are they talking this way hoping they'll fool actual anarchists into voting for them? Hardly. The anarchist vote is not that big a market share.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby smells » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:29 pm UTC

Kleptonis wrote:DEBATE: Is an impossible-to-translate language even possible?

It seems to me could make a bunch of nonsense noises, but either those noises don't correspond to anything (and fails to tells where the money is/fails to be anything we could properly call a language) or those noises correspond to some concept or another that then has its own corresponding word or phrase in English and can be translated through context. I'm no linguist, so I'm open to alternatives.

(Of course that is exactly the sort of task a Dadaist would demand, but let's not let humor get in the way of pedantry.)


Or the other way around: is a translatable language possible?

Which is Quite a Quinean question.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Mostlynormal » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:38 pm UTC

smells wrote:Or the other way around: is a translatable language possible?

Which is Quite a Quinean question.


I'm not well read on Quine but that sure is an interesting question. Your premise seems to be that the word "conocer" (for example) conveys a fundamentally different concept than the word "know" thanks to differences in culture and traditional usage because the spanish word overlaps with something like "to be familiar with" and the english word overlaps with things like "saber" (book knowledge kind of know).

It's an interesting question, and definitely false for some very strict definitions of "translatable," but I'd argue that those kinds of definitions are not very useful. Consider someone from Britain and someone from America. When the first one says "know," can that be "translated" into "American"? After all, they're from two different cultures, and they've probably grown up with slightly different usages. For that matter, one could take it to the extreme and say that no two individuals can "translate" each other's sounds because they both grew up in a slightly different enviorment and have slightly different concepts of each term. But by this time the term "translatable" isn't very useful, especially because we obviously can communicate, whether or not we can "translate."

We could be arbitrary and define "translation" as something like changing a pattern of sounds to a concept that correponds roughly to what it does in the other person's mind (so "rojo" could go to "red" but "conocer" couldn't go to "know" because of overlapping meanings), but I don't think that's very useful either. Could I convey the exact meaning of the word "conozco" in the sentence "Conozco a La Sra. Rodriguez"? Maybe not, at least not without a lot of jumping through hoops. But is that relevant to the meaning of the sentence? I would argue no. If I was translating between someone who knew no english and someone who knew no spanish, the person who knew no spanish would still know anything they really needed to know about that sentence if I told them it meant "I know Mrs. Rodriguez." So you could say I haven't "translated" the word "connozco", but that'd be about as important as the fact that I hadn't beamed the pure meaning directly into the non-spanish speaker's head.

So my answer would be "yes." Good question
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby bigjeff5 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:23 pm UTC

Adavistic Puma wrote:


It's funny to see that version of the FAQ posted twice, and yet not to see this one, which I thought was much more well known:
http://www.anarchistfaq.org/ (Or alternatively www.anarchismfaq.org)
This is the same Anarchist FAQ that you get if you type "apt-get install anarchism" into a Debian or Ubuntu command line(!!)
Maybe people don't like it because it is dismissive of the validity of "capitalist" anarchism?


I have only read the introduction and a small portion of the Economics section of the FAQ you posted, and have only skimmed the one cemper93 posted, but I think I can see the main issue with that FAQ.

It seems the primary purpose of the FAQ was to be anti anarcho-capitalist in nature. They tried to change the focus to something more positive (i.e. a description what anarchism is, rather than why anarcho-capitalism isn't), but it still has a very intolerant view of anarchism, which seems pretty narrow minded.

I'm also not sure the analysis of the current state of affairs it gives is very good in general. As an example, at the beginning of its anti-economics portion (which is the major portion of the FAQ) it describes why the standard cost curve for average costs used in economics (generally U shaped for short-run average costs) is fiction. However, it gives no evidence that the cost curve itself does not exist, and simply says that it was used to predict that corporations could never dominate a market because of the U shape of the cost curve. However, the concept of the cost curve itself as I understand it (which is admittedly not very well) places no limits of any kind on the size of a corporation - company size or market dominance are not a part of the calculation in any way. That some economists thought this might limit the size of corporations, and that they were wrong, does not seem to invalidate the underlying theory at all. In fact, it wouldn't be the first time a scientific theory was misused and misapplied for political purposes. Furthermore, one of the authors quoted seems to think the cost curve explicitly prohibits large company sizes, which is a fairly obvious misunderstanding of the cost curve, just on the surface.

I personally don't know if standard economic theory is fundamentally correct or not, but anarchismfaq does not seem to be a very good place to learn about why it might be wrong, and that seems to be one of the FAQ's basic drives.

I can't speak to the accuracy of the other FAQ, but it at least seems to be more of a good-faith effort to inform about the basic tenants of all forms of anarchism, rather than focusing on left-anarchism and bashing anarcho-capitalism.
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