[p2p-research] Building Alliances (state and commons)

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Mon Nov 9 07:14:29 CET 2009

Kevin Carson wrote:
> On 11/8/09, Paul D. Fernhout <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>>  There's another way the analogy fails. A country is not a house. :-)
>>  More seriously, in a country one has lots of places to go where the state
>> (in a democracy, in theory) is mostly not supposed to intrude, like your own
>> house. So, it's like a house where you have your own private room the owner
>> agrees not to usually come into.
>>  Also, in a country, in theory, citizens help define the laws. So, it's like
>> a house with a rules committee, not a single dictator/owner.
> But the social contract theory still assumes some entity with
> jurisdiction over a geographical area with authority analogous to that
> of a homeowner, to set conditions regarding what you must do to be
> allowed to stay.  And there's a burden of proof to demonstrate the
> origins of that authority.   Simply claiming it and then taking
> continued residence as ipso facto consent isn't enough.  If I come
> into your house and say "your decision to stay here amounts to
> consenting to abide by my rules," the proper response is "who gave you
> the right issue such ultimatums?"  That a contiguous geographical area
> constitutes a body politic, with some entity having authority to set
> rules for the entire area, is something to be proved, and your
> argument takes it as a given.  I don't believe such an authority could
> ever come about in the first place, without the free, explicit, and
> unanimous consent of every single individual in society.

Good points. And a great ideal, like the Quakers on consensus.

With computers, I've been wondering more and more if geographical 
jurisdiction for voting might change. In the USA, why is there not a senator 
elected by programmers? Or a congressperson elected in regards to p2p users? :-)

But sure, legitimacy is an issue, and Monty Python talks about it, too. :-)
"Dennis: (interrupting) Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' 
swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power 
derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcicial aquatic 

But, in any case, you are talking about theory from some perspective of values.

What happens in practice?

>>  But with all that said, can state power in some areas of life be too strong
>> to be healthy? Sure. It's that Manuel de Landa meshwork hierarchy balance
>> thing.
>>   http://www.t0.or.at/delanda/meshwork.htm
> Again, though, it gets back to the question of whether the state even
> has any business judging what is a "healthy" balance of political
> power exercised in my house, and whether the state has the right to
> issue commands and take my continued residence as "consent."

How does the "state" make these decisions?

>>  There are other forms of libertarianism though. Noam Chomsky identifies
>> himself as a libertarian socialist.
>>   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism
>>  "Libertarian socialism (sometimes called socialist anarchism,[1][2] and
>> sometimes left libertarianism[3][4]) is a group of political philosophies
>> that aspire to create a society without political, economic, or social
>> hierarchies, i.e. a society in which all violent or coercive institutions
>> would be dissolved, and in their place every person would have free, equal
>> access to the tools of information and production.[5]"
>>  But, based on Manuel de Landa, that's seems like a theoretical
>> impossibility. A shared culture is itself a sort of hierarchical
>> institution, as is a constitution, as is shared standards, and so on. Even
>> informal agreements about the commons are a sort of hierarchical thing in
>> some sense. Socially it may not feel like a hierarchy; Manuel de Landa is
>> talking more conceptually.
> But the existence of some legal standard for distinguishing aggression
> from self-defense is not the same as the existence of an entity with
> the authority to initiate force on behalf of the "public good" or
> "general  welfare."

I feel libertarians are too hung up on "initiate force". Watching people 
starve to death while you horde all the food (or land) seems pretty cruel, 
even if it is not "initiating force".

> And while libertarian socialists of the anarcho-communist,
> -syndicalist, etc., varieties posit different sets of legal rules for
> identifying the rightful owner of a given parcel of land or workplace,
> the framework is only adopted from the necessity of having some common
> legal standard for distinguishing legitimate self-defense from
> aggression.  They don't vest any agency with a police power (i.e., the
> power to initiate force on behalf of the community).

I think that's why all those frameworks are incomplete. Like Manuel de Landa 
says, in reality, we only see hybrids of meshworks and hierarchies.

And, societies seem to go in cycles, as it is hard to create the right mix 
and keep it there. So, things are a mess and a few people take charge, and 
others let them. And stuff gets cleaned up. (Almost) everybody is happy with 
things working better, latrines dug, less drunken fights on saturdays, and 
so on, until the authority starts overstepping, and people put up with it, 
and then it drifts too far, and eventually something happens (people walk 
away, their is a revolt, the group just collapses) and the cycle may just 
the start over. And maybe it can go around the other way too? Maybe not 
often as countries, but as social groups. Some group is run by a strong 
leader, they get busy, delegate authority, things may even get better, then 
they back away more, and then fights and feuds start, and chaos is created, 
and then someone steps forward to provide more organization. Etc.

The thing is, the flip side of a police state is continual feuding among 
individuals and families. Both are not happy social situations, too much 
authority and too little.

Still, hopefully we can come up with ways to transcend those cycles. But I 
think the answer is more complex than no having a "state". But, as we said 
on the list months ago, some of this is definitional, as in "what is a state"?

--Paul Fernhout

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