The Libertarian Alliance Christmas Message, 2009


David Davis

Imagine a land.

Imagine this land here, now, if you can! It’s Christmas again, so let us dream a little. Come with me, now, let’s go there….

Imagine this land, where these things I will list for you, are taken for granted. I’m not presenting them in any particular order, they’re just nice things. I could dream up others, but fourteen is a nice number – it’s flashing blue and white and appears to me like a little bar code in my brain.***

You could call them David Davis’s Fourteen Points. Fifteen actually! The number of the Fourteen Points! (Fifteen’s green and red: yellowish in some contexts…)

(1)            The State’s organisation is so small and so un-visible, that you can spend most of your life without having to encounter one of its staff. They may be able to help you with the inconvenient documents you’d need, to cover you for travel in less fortunate lands and to call for protection by your State’s global-blue-water-forces – and that’s all. The State still runs a few libraries, staffed by some polite old ladies, and retired colonels who know about organisation and getting overdue books back.

(2)            There is a flat rate of taxation – say 10% for now – which everybody, including businesses on their profits, might reasonably be expected to pay without complaint. Progressive taxation is not approved of, but people earning under a certain amount are not taxed, which helps with those on a Shilling an hour, until they do better.

(3)            The Franchise is a Freehold Property qualification. It is qualified otherwise by age – 21. This has a number of benefits: (I) It cuts the number of voters down to those who own freehold land or buildings, or known parts of or all of a business – businesses, being property, can vote through their owners, and business votes are pro rata. (II) It reduces to almost zero the votes that would currently go to socialist parties. (III) It causes MPs to aggressively strive for all voters to own private freehold property of all kinds. (IV) Elections are important, and competition to gain property is immense.

(4)            This land is not in the EU. It has left, and simultaneously, having denounced and repudiated all the relevant “treaties”, has also downgraded its own bureaucracy’s ability to resist and defeat the measures stated. The said bureaucracy is also about 99% smaller. This land is rich, and businesses in EU-enslaved countries compete fiercely to sell their wares here. They need the Gold and Platinum and Rhenium Bars, to prop up their toilet-paper-monopoly-currency

(5)            The currencies which circulate in this land are whatever traders here will be pleased to accept as payment: there may be lots, even including fiat-papers, which may have tactical use for things such as holidays. The prevailing one, however, backed by a number of hard Bullions with commodity-prices, such as Gold, Platinum, Rhenium, Iridium, Cobalt and Silver to name a few, is universally respected. Many industrially-useful metals can be currencies. And you can take this State’s Promissory Note that you got, to any branch of the Central Bank, and they’ll hand you in return the right weight of the metal of your choice.

(6)            The Police are unarmed civilians who do, for you, what they do just like the lifeboatmen of the RNLI do what they do. The Police have not much to do these days, except sit about at the few remaining “Police Stations”, drinking tea in funny uniforms with pointy hats, and occasionally going out to the odd primary school, to tell humorous horror-stories of what it was like under the “Government”, when “some people used to commit crimes! And people thought that “crime” was caused by “deprivation!” ” (Chorus of screams and laughter from children who can factorise cubics before lunch.) You are allowed to keep any arms that please you, up to but not including heavy artillery for which you need permission from some retired colonel or other, locally: crime, therefore, is very rare.

(7)            The State, such as remains in organisation, has no function in employment or wage regulation. There are jobs in which people may work for less than Five Shillings an Hour, even in 2010. There is no “unemployment benefit”.

(8)            But the Shilling, restored to its rightful value, and fabricated in Sterling Silver, buys all this stuff at once, from Tesco or from your “local” little shop: a loaf of bread, a pound of butter, a Pound of bacon (454 grams to you lot) for which is for four people, a frying pan, and the electricity to turn it all into good old Bacon-Butties!

(9)            There is no “Ministry of Education”: not even a “Department of Skills”. Schools of all sorts flourish – you can even go to an Islamic one in Skelmersdale, or Wigan, or Wimborne, if you want, or a Jewish one in (don’t know) or a sort of funny one started in Birkdale by some scientist-madman who hated the “National(ised) Curriculum” under the GramscoFabiaNazis, and decided that when times got better he’d start his own Science and Engineering Academy for Boys and Girls who were “interested”. He’d take anybody – you just had to agree to turn up every day no-fail (or you’d be sacked) and you’d get lots of “prep”, which meant self-study in your own time, and in return he’d always answer all your difficult questions. A very, very old, smoking man with horn-rimmed spectacles, driving a Hillman Super-Minx, reg no “5518 PL”, goes round schools, when he feels up to it, seeing to it that they at least teach “Joined-Up-History”, with dates of kings and queens and important battles against continental Statists, and the easiest ways to solve simultaneous second-order-partial-differential-equations, for the eleven-year-olds to be able to compute the inter-orbital interactions of Saturn’s moons. Other stuff is up to them.

(10)      DEFRA is gone. Zapped. As if it’d never been. Farmers can grow food now, if they like. They are no longer “wildlife” or “countryside” “stewards” – they grow food efficiently and mechanically, for people, and they make real money. Butterflies are a nuisance anyway, being extinct all the time, and as for the white ones, they lay eggs which hatch into nasty caterpillars which eat all our five-a-day-broccoli. If farmers want to conserve wildlife, then they can, and can balance the cost of this against the potential lost revenue from food-buyers. It’s now their choice in this new land. But nobody will come and murder all their animals at gunpoint, and run away, ever again. If their animals get ill, nobody will buy them and they’ll lose money: it’s up to them.

(11)      Defence spending is enormous, but astonishingly efficient. The Armed Forces of this nation’s free people, even while inactive which is hopefully most of the time, strike terror into the hearts of evil-doers, other pirates, dictators of legacy-Statist-polities, and anti-liberal governments. The reason for enormous spending is the terrible threats from the other 190-odd “nations’ “ governments, continually received via the “Foreign Secretary”, whose title is soon to be changed to “Minister for War”. Procurement of kit is “open-source”: anybody may tender to provide, say, encrypted radios that work properly in cold bogs and hot sand, or real helicopters that actually exist right now today for hire or sale, and the like. The MOD is a small office in Whitehall with a telephone, an iPod dock for visiting Corporals’ mp3s, a laptop and a few gentlemen, one of whom sees to buying things.

(12)      The State has nothing to do with “Culture, Media and Sport”: from “State involvement” with these things, nothing but pretentious trash has been shown to emerge. What “culture” is, emerges by free interactions between individuals and voluntary institutions in this nation. No “grants” are given to any “groups” – whether “gays”, Moslems, LGBT groups, “Christians”, Jedi Knights, Zoroastrians (whatever those are), Jews, Rasta-men, new-agers, Gypsies and other “travelling people”, “settled folk”, or whatever. Each makes his own way and raises his own funds if needed, privately, if need be by jumble-sales in Church Halls. If the Mosque can’t hold a jumble sale, it will be legal for it to hire the Church Hall. I care not.

(13)      The astonishingly brazen up-front-scam of AGW has been exposed. Raging mobs of the “bourgeoisie”, irate small-business-owners, and other taxpayers have raided the offices of “climate-consciousness-organisations”, “Green” pressure groups, fake charities and DEFRA, have burnt all the records, malleted all identified hard disks, disk-stores, backups and pen-drives, and turned the staff into the street in the clothes they stood up in. The way is open for anyone, including Mutt and Jeff and their white van, to offer private-building-solutions to local people’s community-nuclear-power stations.

(14)      Hospitals abound in this land. The “NHS” is gone, without trace, but doctors, nurses and medicines of all sorts seem to be everywhere. You can even buy penicillins, the early ones, (via the chemist, at first!) in Tesco, as is right. (They’re not for everybody all the time, and scientific education has to catch up some decades of deliberate darkness in short order!) There is a hospital in almost every large village, in all small and large towns, and many in each city. These initially Spartan places (but they will get better) consist of some Doctors each, who do their own rota, plus some Nurses who might shout kindly at you for not taking your medicine on time but who will heroically attend you without complaint in the night if you are in great pain. There are many many interesting  and advanced machines, and always a couple of telephonists who know everyone in the area, and perhaps a duty-chemist too, to issue the more abstruse drugs. Plus lots of old ladies under an irascible local retired colonel, who come and clean up properly everywhere with strong stuff, every day, for a few quid. The poor buggerettes would stay alive outside care homes for longer if this was the case – they’d have something to do in their lives. There are no “managers” – the Colonels can do that stuff in their sleep. If you’re poor and can’t pay, they’ll fix you for nothing. If you’re insured, no problem. If you’re Sir Alan Sugar, you might also be asked if you’d like voluntarily to “pop something in this little box, it’s really just for the other ones, who, er, can’t really, you know….” on your way out…

(15)      The State wants nothing to do with the internet. Except to be a client, to make its operation more efficient for citizens, so you don’t even have to see anyone if you wanted a passport. Why’d you want a passport? Not to go to Spain [for example] for a holiday: “Spain” and all Spaniards would know you are protected, for you come from here, and they are civilised there, and you’d need no passport – your State has left the EU anyway and so they know you’re “good for the money you carry” and also well-protected forces-wise, so no change of a successful mugging there, then. No, you’d want a “Passport” (a modern wifi one) to call down protection by your Armed Forces, when you go for a working holiday, to less fortunate foreign lands for example – like North Korea or Cuba. You will want to distribute internet-ready computers and usb-G3 wifi devices to the oppressed natives of these poor places in the blinding darkness still. You’d regard it as your duty, so you’d need to go, and be protected by your State’s Armed Forces while you are doing your bit for world liberalism.

All of us here, in the Libertarian Alliance, and those of us locked in the Lancashire typewriting-Chimpanzees’ blogging-team Nissen-Hut (current temperature here = -3C) would like you all to have a marvellous and 100%-climate-free Christmas, and a relaxing and fully-non-Statist New Year, this time and always.

If you are not careful, we shall release video footage of us blogging.

***I have synaesthesia, I discovered about three years ago – I thought everyone saw numbers as strong colours like I do, and I was disappointed and saddened to find they don’t. Music is very very highly coloured too, for me, a lot (It’s numbers too I guess.) Shame really, it’s nice – others miss out on this sensory experience.

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76 responses to “The Libertarian Alliance Christmas Message, 2009

  1. Sounds nice, but why the unreasonable restriction on heavy artillery? Next you’ll be telling me not to mine the veggie patch and before you know it we’ll be on the path that leads to, well, more or less where we are now. :-)

    More seriously I’m not at all sure about the property qualification for the vote. A couple of times I’ve been between houses because of playing the market. What would have happened? Would I have been disenfranchised because I have of my own volition chosen not to be a property owner, or would you give me some leeway of, say, six months and say that being a property owner until recently still counted? And if it was for other reasons (perhaps I simply prefer to rent and leave the responsibility of maintenance to the landlord, perhaps my dream home is not for sale but the owner is happy to lease it – I could go on) there’d still be the problem that any inflexible limit is inherently unjust. All other things being equal why would someone who has been between properties for a day less than 26 weeks (or whatever) be more entitled to vote than than someone who has been in the same situation for two days longer? I accept that there’s almost certainly no perfect solution of how to qualify people for voting but a less imperfect one that property ownership would be my ideal. Perhaps I should have thought of one before criticising yours. ;-)

  2. My intention is to try and limit the effect on policy, of people “with nothing” being allowed to vote say about the taxation levels on people “with everything”.

    It would also limit the venality of certain types of politician who would promise part of your income to someone else in return for his vote…

  3. Okay. And perhaps not a bad idea in theory. Still, the problem remains that ‘nothing’ needs to be defined and if nothing=no property assets you’re going to eliminate people who are not your target. By choice someone might have no property assets but be comfortably cashed up. So then you may want to say that £X pounds in the bank is considered equivalent to the property qualification. Fine, but then you have the problem of deciding what actual amount X should be and justifying why having X-£1 should disenfranchise someone.

    Having thought about it a little since I have a vague germ of an idea to offer. It is simply this: income tax payers can vote. Doesn’t matter if the tax is paid on a salary or on interest in savings or dividends on shares – polling booths are right this way. sir/madam. If coupled with the suggestion of Devil’s Kitchen (and possibly others – DK is where I saw it) that benefits are scrapped or at least slashed and the personal allowance raised so that low income workers actually get to keep what they earn instead of being taxed in order to fund their own benefits this would reduce the pool of, to use your term, ‘people with nothing’ who can vote. Doesn’t solve the problem of pollies promising to people that they’ll rob you in order to give to them (with what we might call a small or not so small ‘administration fee’, natch), but then I can’t think of anything that does aside from some Constitutional level law that is not easily set aside that states in block capitals ‘NO FUCKING GOVERNMENT THIEVING FROM ITS CITIZENS IS ALLOWED’ – I accept that the precise definition and form of wording probably needs some work.

  4. Well I like the Christmas Message in general, and merry Christmas to you David.

    But I think this property qualification for voting is not very much use. Once you start trying to gerrymander the electorate to get the right kind of people voting to get the right answer, you’re basically abandoning democracy, so why not go the whole hog and just scrap it?

    Democracy- a direct vote- is the fairest way to make a collective decision, and it is unjust to enforce a decision upon those who have not had an opportunity to affect it. The problem with political democracy is not the democratic principle, it is that unrestrained government power pushes collectivist decisions into more and more areas of life that are matters for the individual. No amount of trying to fix democracy will fix that. It’s like having democratic religion; every five years we vote for one, and have to follow that religion that wins. That would be awful and silly, and no modifications to the voting process would fix it, because the flaw is that religion should not be a collective decision. The same goes for most of the rest of the shit the parliament does.

    The problem is the state’s right to legislate- that is, to write new laws. In a libertarian polity, there is no need for new laws. Most of the current statute book would be abolished, as would be all the enabling powers for ministers and agencies and so forth to write new laws under the camouflage of “regulations”.

    So, the simple answer is just to abolish the legislature. Then we’re safe from lawmaking and don’t need party politics and democracy as we know it. The idea that we may need a new law or two, well, a direct democratic system could be employed instead. Do it on a website. Then, to pass the new law, it must gain a positive vote from more than 75% of the electorate (not those who bother to vote, those who are eligible to vote) in a plebiscite, in which voting must be done at a polling station to make sure only people who really want this law will bother to vote, rather than making it easy for them.

    New laws would be very rare. Smoking bans and other pressure group fripperies would be a thing of the past.

    The legislature is always the enemy of the people. Scrap it.

  5. That looks like it would solve my problem, Ian, at least partly.

    My reason for including the property-qualification suggestion was based, I think, on my rather old-fashioned idea that the legislature existed only to authorise – or disallow – tax-raising actions on the part of the Head of State. This used to be the principal party wanting the money – viz: Edward III or any of that lot of mountebanks.

    If the legislature would only confine itself to discussing and voting on demands for money by whatever still passes for the State, then that owuld solve your problem of too many laws about too many things (I agree) and also put the ball back in the court of those who decide how one decides who can be taxed, and therefore who has an interest in the outcome of such a vote.

  6. David, I think one problem with the property qualification is that- and this is notable here and in the USA- many of the most eager voters for state expansionism and property confiscationism are wealthy, upper middle class types. Both ZanuLabour and Cameroons are basically pandering to Islingtonistas, not the proles. I think this apparently irrational behaviour is explicable by the ahem anglosocialism model, in that these people see philanthropy as their class duty. If you were to have a property qualification, you may well end up with a higher proportion of statist voters.

    A better strategy may be to exclude organic food purchasers, or anyone with a degree that ends in “studies”.

  7. Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s great religions.

    It’s oftentimes very beautiful, and its influence can be seen in many other religions. It glorifies those who bring light to the world, especially artists, craftsmen, engineers, creative thinkers. You’d like it, I think.

    Look it up on Wiki.

    Merry Christmas,

    Tony

  8. Steven Northwood

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. :-)

  9. Steven Northwood

    PS Dave, No. 9 – I’ll do that job! That’s me! And I’d teach them to solve differential equations! And Economics! And roll one trouser leg up! And sack them if they fail to attend! Thank God I’ve found my calling in life. I’ve always known it. Best place for me really, out of the way. ;-)

  10. You can have that job any time, Steven, when we come to power.

    Sad really: so much of what really matter is science and engineering comes down to a simple differential equation of some order or other. Even Newton’s Second Law, F=ma, and its integral (dt) solution, which delivers the figure for momentum.

    I was taught calculus from age 10. That doesn’t mean I’m any good at it – just that it was an automatic progression thus for me to become a scientist, which I have never regretted despite being poor and unwanted by the world. You can die happy while only knowing how the Observed Universe works…dimly.

  11. Steven Northwood

    Too true Brother. I can work the calculus notation and method fairly well – it would have been very well were it not for my insistance on just a bit of the Wittgensteinian fundamental insight – and even today I have to refer to shoddy old notebooks annotated with shopping lists, reflections on personal dillemas and odd things I’ve seen to get back to the real solid understanding.

    We can be very good at mathematics and science and engineering but we must firstly start to practice them in a way which invokes the best instincts in man. That would be a fair and understandable explanation, one which is understandable for the present and also for what the engineer develops themselves. I have yet to find a university or any other education establishment in this country which teaches proper scientific method and moreover gifts individuals with the ability to go out into society and send a satellite into orbit, or reduce and quantify chemicals or create any such of the basic results which science allows.

    “Give me your time and brainpower” I’ll tell them, “and by the power vested in me by science, I shall make you Gods. Thus go out into the world and use you abilities to mold it into your vision. We are scientists. This, is our sacred mission.”

    “Now firstly get that trouser leg rolled up and repeat after me…” :-)

  12. Steven Northwood

    And PS I know it’s all out there but they’d finished off the grammar schools by my day. When I went to university I thought all manner of the best knowledge lay within, and with the exception of one mathematics lecturer who had me in tears with his beautiful and human explanation of matrix algebra, I didn’t find anything there to learn.

    Whatever happens I certainly won’t let that endure if I can help it.

  13. Science buffs might enjoy my physics paper.

    http://www.stargate.uk.net/dynamics.txt

    Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas,

    Tony

  14. Big reading there, thanks Tony old fellow!

  15. Steven Northwood

    Thanks Tony. Looking at that I think you ought to consider a career in teaching or lecturing. You only need the teaching certificate I think. Anyway Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  16. I have to agree with this piece about Frédéric Bastiat in today’s Mises email, and the statement that he makes in it, especially the last sentence. Although about France in the 19th century it seems to me to be relevant now, in the UK and elsewhere:

    Disgusted with the curriculum, he quit school at 17 and went to work in his uncle’s counting house in Bayonne. Bastiat remained hostile to the degree system of higher education throughout his life. In “Academic Degrees and Socialism,” written shortly before his death, he argues for the abolition of public education:

    For it rests on the assumption that the governed are made for the governors, that society belongs to the wielders of political power, and that they must make society in their own image.

    The university system prepares the youth of France for socialist utopias and social experiments. And this is undoubtedly the reason for a very strange phenomenon; I mean the inability of the very people who believe themselves threatened by socialism to refute it.

  17. Except for the “scientific socialism” variant, you cannot refute socialism because it’s a list of preferences with no means of refuting it. You cannot refute gravy…

    The only version which can be refuted logically and empirically is Marx’s “priceless future” whereby prices generated by the interplay of supply and demand can be completely replaced by bureaucratic allocations.

    This is really the only version of “Scientific Socialism” which is worth trying to refute. It has been refuted. Virtually all socialisms are now variations on a theme of the Mixed Economy.

    Bastiat’s Economics has also been refuted in that it generates no testable novel predictions.

    Tony

  18. You can refute gravy if it is not what it claims to be. More than “socialism” per se, the evil empire is collectivism, of which socialism is a type. Collectivisms in practice are situations in which a few individuals taking charge of the masses. Because of human nature they wind up increasingly looking first to their own advantage.
    Bastiat seems to me to have understood that the students were locked into their suffering, or delusion, because they were processed through the very institutions created to make sure proper intellectual clone production was maintained.
    So even their strivings for freedom were doomed because it was articulated in the attitudes and thought patterns and languages they had been taught.
    I see that as being the problem right now.

  19. “Bastiat’s Economics has also been refuted in that it generates no testable novel predictions.”

    You’re taking the piss now, aren’t you Tony?

  20. Just to clarify thar, you seem to be confusing science and math, Tony. Much of economics is applied mathematics, not science, and is thus susceptible to mathematical proof, regardless of the ability to confirm hypotheses by experiment. Mathematics works on absolute proof derived from mathematical axioms, unlike science.

    So, taking Bastiat’s famous broken window fallacy for instance, it goes something like this.

    Let T and V be real positive numbers, and let T be the total value of the economy and V be the value of one window. For all T and V-

    T-V+V < T+V

    It's not about testable predictions, it's mathematics.

  21. I like Einstein’s quote that one does not really understand something until you can explain it to your grandmother.
    Or – Basically everything is simple.
    And, of all things, economics is about the corner shop: addition, subtraction and some multiplication.
    As always, it is the con men, like Keynes, who make things complicated.

  22. Apologies. Anonymous, above, was me. Computer and associated technology still trips me up fairly often.

  23. Insofar as Bastiat’s economics is today’s NeoClassical Economics, it is not a testable theory offering novel predictions. See the Wiki on Imre Lakatos for more.

    Insofar as it’s mathematics, it’s an axiomatized deductive system. It’s incapable of novel prediction because it has no possibility of novelty. If it isn’t math and it isn’t science, why should we take any notice of it? Bastiat writes beautifully, but he screwed the pooch by insisting that that post-revolution property rights should restore property rights to the aristocracy who asserted said “rights.”

    Libertarians who insist on restoring control of crony-capitalist assets to crony-capitalists are making the same mistake — they end up looking like apologists for the ancien regime or the status quo ante.

    I fully grant that Bastiat writes beautifully and persuasively. That rhetoric does not mean we should take it seriously as science. These theories which cannot be falsified are seductive in their appeal, but are a poor guide to policy-making.

    Tony

  24. To be sure, Socialism cannot be made to work. You cannot improve arithmetic by abolishing numbers. Prices combine metrics for economic calculation, as well as incentives to increase or decrease production of goods and services.

    To be sure, I prefer methodological individualism.

    If one person is wrong, that doesn’t screw up the the entire social order.

    Tony

  25. Insofar as it’s mathematics, it’s an axiomatized deductive system. It’s incapable of novel prediction because it has no possibility of novelty. If it isn’t math and it isn’t science, why should we take any notice of it?

    Except it is math Tony, that’s where you’re going wrong. From there on in, all your consequent reasoning is bullshit.

  26. Also you said-

    “Libertarians who insist on restoring control of crony-capitalist assets to crony-capitalists are making the same mistake — they end up looking like apologists for the ancien regime or the status quo ante.”

    This isn’t math and it isn’t science. Why should we take any notice of it?

    Your objection to crony capitalists and the ancien regime are ethical, and as Hume demonstrated a very long time ago, you can’t derive ethics and morals from facts (science). Thus, if you restrict yourself purely to science, you have no means to derive your preferred world system (be it libertarian, socialist, conservative, anarchist, whatever). You are forced to “take notice of” things which are neither math nor science, if you seek a philosophy. Science can tell you what will surely kill a child, but can never tell you whether it is ethical to kill the child or not. Nor, more pertinently, whether crony capitalism is a good thing or a bad thing.

  27. “So even their strivings for freedom were doomed because it was articulated in the attitudes and thought patterns and languages they had been taught.
    I see that as being the problem right now.”

    John B has got it in one, er, guys!

  28. I said:

    “Libertarians who insist on restoring control of crony-capitalist assets to crony-capitalists are making the same mistake — they end up looking like apologists for the ancien regime or the status quo ante.”

    You ask:

    This isn’t math and it isn’t science. Why should we take any notice of it?

    At 8% per annum, Mondragon co-ops audits show twice the return on capital of investor-owned businesses. Think of what that implies for economic growth and opportunities for personal development.

    Tony

  29. That has nothing to do with the point under discussion Tony. Nice try, though, I’ll give you that.

  30. But I suppose the importance is: the freedom of the individual and the responsibility of the individual. It comes down to me. Being free and responsible with it?
    All the things that come against that, which is most things, especially political, are to be considered and resolved where possible.
    With benevolence.

  31. In Classical Greek mythology, the Furies were named the Eumenides, the Benevolent Ones.

    Tony

  32. It seems this was after they went through some kind of conversion. Not the kind of conversion I would say is important for eternal consequences but a definite change of mind about violence.

  33. All too often, “responsibility” is a marker for authoritarian thinking. Authoritarians often prattle on about ‘reponsibility’, as if people were born with it.

    Tony

  34. Freedom is the ideal. Liberty.
    Responsibility is necessary to plug in with the rest of reality or it all gets smashed up.
    Like Britain today.
    They have taken away individual responsibility, and thereby individual freedom, resulting in dependency and thus bondage.

  35. Cf: “Freedom’s just another word for ‘Nothing left to lose'”

    Tony

  36. “Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free.”

    Free and responsible under God is okay. It is good and it works.
    Only real freedom is in conforming to reality?

  37. ‘The statement “God exists” has meaning — and may even be true — but since no conceivable evidence could falsify it, it is not a _scientific_ statement.’ — Bryan Magee

    Tony

  38. The statement, “I like strawberry ice cream” isn’t scientifically falsifiable either. Neither is a philosophical preference for freedom.

    You can’t derive a philosophy from science. It’s called Hume’s Guillotine. Scientism doesn’t work as a philosophy, Tony.

  39. Yes, absolutely, I agree – That it would seem one cannot falsify the existence or non existence of God on a factual, scientific basis.
    The hypothesis that fascinates me is simply: “Order cannot occur spontaneously in randomness.”
    I do not know of any circumstance or situation where randomness can lead to order. I heard astronomer Sir Roger Penrose talking about the Big Bang and he said something like: Things must have been very ordered before the Big Bang.
    There is the 2nd law of Thermo and all that, but without getting carried away into deeper science, the very simple question is: how can order come about where there is none?
    Randomness will stay random until something initiates order. Yes?
    Previous to that which I believe now, my credo had been: I accept the possibility of anything and nothing.
    I viewed Des Cartes statement that because he thought, therefore he existed, as a bit of a cop out. It’s like verifying the outside of the box from the inside!
    It was into this absence of belief that, that which was more than me made itself apparent and eventually I realised Jesus was the only peaceful (and negotiable) bridge.

  40. The problem with the thermodynamic argument is, if God created the order, how did God come about, who is Himself an ordered state? It doesn’t solve anything, it just pushes your creation problem back one step.

  41. Yes. I agree. So I prefer to keep it simple and to see it in terms of randomness becoming ordered, and how does that happen without any external ordering influence? One can say well, this is simply the way it has happened and then natural selection tended those things that survive, to survive.
    Which is fine.
    But the natural selection argument is saying that organisms that conformed to the order which enabled survival, survived. It comes back to, where did that order come from in the first place?
    Where did any order come from in randomness?
    Or one can say there is no order. This is all random, and this is where randomness has happened to get to at this point. What we think of as order is, in fact randomness/chaos.
    Besides that thinking making a total mockery of any system, is it sound?
    One can say that empirical science works. Yes it does. So there is order?

  42. Well, we do have philosophy of science.

    Intrinsic to scientific methodology are a host of value judgements, the most prominent of which is an orientation towards truth, and the best ways to determine those truths.

    Tony

  43. The “Big Bang” never happened. Ref: Eric J. Lerner’s book of that title. Where is the centre of this alleged bang? Why does the periphery expand according to the power of our telescopes? The thing’s a creationist boondoggle.

    Tony

  44. There is purpose in a world of chance. And there is a wonderful precision in the Universe, without which there would be chaos. Cosmos, not chaos.

    Tony

  45. And Cosmos rather than Taxis, as Hayek made clear.

    Tony

  46. One of the attractions of Taoism is that we see the Universe as alive. Pantheism has much to recommend it.

    Tony

  47. Hi Tony, someone said that words were given to us to conceal our thoughts, which I have the feeling prevails here except where you say: ‘One of the attractions of Taoism is that we see the Universe as alive. Pantheism has much to recommend it.’
    However that sounds more like a statement of faith than scientific argument.
    Sure, prove it/disprove it is not really possible. One can venture one’s head into the unseen/spiritual realm and have some very exciting and terrifying experiences (the only safe bridge to that realm is through the Lord Jesus) which can seem very convincing. But it is not logical argument.
    I think my hypothesis: (Order cannot arise spontaneously in randomness) does have a logical basis and indicates there is more to this than simply evolving out of the mud after it was zapped by lightning, or similar. And anyway, where did the order inherent in mud come from?
    Where did purpose come from? Purpose indicates moving towards a goal, which indicates a presumed order in things.

  48. Biologist W.H. Thorpe wrote a gem of a book dealing with this, titled “Purpose in a World of Chance.” Order can be emergent, as Popper contended.

    The deepest, most interesting issue is why there is anything at all. Rather than nothing.

    Tony

    Tony

  49. I will read Thorpe’s book when I can find it. My feeling is, though, there must be some assumption made, something taken as read, somewhere along the line in order to assume that order can arise spontaneously where previously there was none. I cannot see how order can emerge unaided out of randomness.
    You add: “The deepest, most interesting issue is why there is anything at all. Rather than nothing.”
    I do agree with you that it is a very interesting line to explore.
    One could say, well there has to be something. But, why, indeed ?
    Not even an absence of being. Simply, nothing.
    But there is something. I think.

  50. Well, there is emergent order as in, say, economic markets, or ant hills. But that’s not what we’re talking about, here. It’s the question of a reversal of entropy, or spontaneous low entropy. Emergent ordered systems are always increasing entropy in the universe as a whole, they are just locally ordered (as in, my body maintains its ordered state at the expense of radiating high-entropy radiation due to my metabolism; overall, entropy increases).

    One answer is that the law that entropy always increases is only generally true. If you have a box of gas, it is almost always in a high entropy state- completly disordered). But there is a tiny, microscopic chance that all the molecules will happen to end up at once in one small corner of the box; a low entropy state. You may need to wait longer than the lifetime of the universe to see it, but it can happen. The point is, it is not impossible.

    It may be that a universe such as ours arises when, very very occasionally, a disordered predecessor state- presumably a pervious universe which has “run down” to its absolute entropy state, just happens, after zillions of years, to accidentally order itself like the box of gas. And then it starts increasing in entropy again (as the gas would) which is the universe we see.

    There’s also a possibility based on a Machian view of space, which is that distance only exists as distances between objects. That is, if no objects exist the concept of distance loses its meaning. Maybe the existence of matter in separated clumps (even single protons) “holds the universe open”.

    So, if at some distant epoch the last matter in the universe evaporates into energy (either by proton decay, or inside black holes, or something), the universe will collapse down to a single point, containing all the universe’s energy.

    That looks suspiciously like the starting point of the Big Bang.

    The universe may be a never-ending sawtooth oscillation in terms of entropy.

  51. The molecules could not all spontaneously wind up in one corner of the box without energy being applied because they are exerting force on each other which keeps them apart. There would have to be some form of force applied.
    Further, these molecules would be existing in a state of order, anyway. So it has already arrived.
    So spontaneous low entropy would seem to be impossible under current understanding of physics?
    Which may soon be revised. I have read bits on wormholes the two ends of which are are different places at the same time (the future of space travel?!) and it is possible that some kind of breakthrough can occur there or in similar vein?
    But I have the feeling if time travel was true how come I have not been visited from past or future? Reality, besides being possibly far more than we realise, also incorporates what we do know.
    I think in some ways it’s all in front of us but we can’t quite see it. Perhaps because of the way we have been taught to think?

  52. The molecules could not all spontaneously wind up in one corner of the box without energy being applied because they are exerting force on each other which keeps them apart. There would have to be some form of force applied.

    Not so, other than a very tiny (and attractive) gravitational force, they aren’t exerting any force on each other at all. They tend to crash into each other and bounce apart, which looks like a force at the macroscopic statistical level, but it’s not. It is almost certain that they will be crashing itno each other all the time, but there is very, very tiny chance that they could all get to the top right cubic inch of the box without crashing into each other. That’s the tiny chance of spontaneous low entropy. Very, very rare, but possible.

    Further, these molecules would be existing in a state of order, anyway. So it has already arrived.

    No they aren’t, they’re normally in a state of very high entropy (disorder). All just rushing and bashing about randomly.

    So spontaneous low entropy would seem to be impossible under current understanding of physics?

    No, just enormously unlikely.

  53. Okay, first point, I take your point. What you say makes sense. Except why there should be any movement, or molecules, to begin with.
    I will have to refine my thinking on the second point. There is an implicit order existing for anything to be happening at all.
    Similar to Tony’s thought concerning why anything should exist rather than nothing.
    To make sense of anything there must be order.
    Otherwise it is obscure chaos.
    Without order; differentiation, everything is the same. There is no oscillation or vibration. No rushing about bashing into each other.
    There is complete silence and no movement?

  54. Machian Positivism is a dead dodo.

    Popper destroyed Logical Positivism years ago.

    Tony

  55. Tony, I wasn’t discussing logical positivism, or Karl Popper.

  56. Logical positivism building perceived reality from observation and measurement?
    Popper building perceived reality from observation that can be challenged and possibly falsified. If there is no possibility to challenge there is no chance to demonstrate the idea as being fit.
    Both seem to be fine as approaches, as long as one does not close the door on either.
    Popper seems a little bit in thrall to the theory of evolution?
    It seems to me truth is an overworked and devalued word so I prefer reality.
    And that is all that counts. One can approach it many ways but one should be careful not to slam doors shut.
    And my thoughts centre around the concept of: any perception of that which is (reality) implies some form of order. Or it would not exist?
    How does order occur in randomness?
    You can shout: “Boring,” and I will shut up :-)
    I have discovered a Rock, but, yes, that is personal.

  57. IanB:

    What problem are you seeking to address?

    Tony

  58. The low entropy of the initial state of the universe. You?

  59. If one seriously takes on board the possibility of anything and nothing as a logical starting point, if such a thing can exist, that does leave a lot of questions open.
    I suppose they are logically unanswerable, but in that case, it leaves all perceptions of reality (including science) open to question.

  60. The application of critical rationalism to libertarian thinking, with the aim of making it better able to offer logical and tested procedures.

    Tony

  61. IanB:

    I don’t accept the “Big Bang”idea, and I advance instead the hypothesis that radiant enegy (“photons”) are composed of matter, and are recycled into stars etc.

    Tony

  62. Well, I was talking in terms of mainstream physics. Any theory must though explain how low entropy can arise.

    Photons by definition are not matter. How do you define “matter”?

  63. Perhaps energy and matter are actually (is actually?) the same stuff. It just looks different from our perspective.

  64. We create notional categories in order to describe things which have meaningfully different characters. Photons and fermions (the particles that make up “matter”) are different in many ways; photons always travel at the speeed of light- fermions cannot. Photons have no mass, fermions have mass. Fermions stick together to make stuff, photons do not. Matter is by agreed definition physical stuff that you can pick up, which has mass and occupies exclusive volume. And so on.

    Energy and mass are interchangeable. You can make particles out of energy and energy out of particles. But they are meaningfully different and worthy of being categorised separately.

    We have different names for geese and swans because they are significantly different. Both are types of birds, but geese are not swans. A person might say that geese and swans are not different enough to be worthy of separate names. That still doesn’t mean that a goose is a type of swan. If you want to abolish the categories, you must abolish both. You then just have less descriptive capacity, and are left with no language to explain why some gooswans look different to other gooswans, and some cannot breed with each other, etc.

  65. Notional: Of, containing, or being a notion; mental or imaginary. Speculative or theoretical.

    One needs ways to examine reality but does one lay oneself open to divorce from reality when one interchanges the means with the end?

    Photons; fermions; electrons
    Are they particles or oscillations?

    What is the difference between being “meaningfully different” and just “different”?

  66. It’s whether the differences are meaningful to you or not. If they are, you’ll want different language terms for them. A keen horticulturalist wants different names for different plants and varieties, somebody disinterested can make do with just “flowers”, “shrubs” and “trees” etc.

    Those who study energy and matter find it useful to distinguish the two, so have different words for them.

  67. This is vast territory (the words, anyway) that one can get lost in.
    I suppose the simplest thing is to bring it back to your question above: How do you define matter?
    What is it made of at the sub atomic level?
    And what are those bits made of?

    As to how low entropy could occur, according to what you were saying previously, just by blind chance?

  68. I think we’ve already been over this John. Matter is stuff which has mass and volume. It’s made of sub-atomic particles called fermions. Nobody knows whether they are made of something smaller, or are fundamental.

  69. Einstein won his Nobel Prize (with Philip Lenard) for their work on the photoelectric effect, published in 1905.

    This showed that the actual and observed motion of electrons could not be produced by light waves, but that light must consist of particles, which we call photons.

    I have next to me R.A. Waldron’s classic work “The Wave and Ballistic Theories of Life: A Critical Review.

    Waldron’s work shows that all the wave-like examples of photons can be and are explicable as the motion of particles. After a while it ceases to be fun to demolish waveism, and it is a better allocation of effort to find out what is causing the supposed “wave effects.”

    Quantum Chromodynamics is a reified approximation of a formalism. A waste of time.

    All objectively determinable events can be handled by an expanded Classical Mechanics. Much more useful than misleading “Quantum” hand-waving.

    To say it again, a ballistic “particle” theory of light is consistent with observable reality. It is appropriate to recalculate the light paths retrodictively or retroactively.

    Special Relativity was “born refuted” by Absolute Rotation. General Relativity represents the Universe (past, present and future) as a fully determined four-dimensional Parmenidean Block, where individual freedom is an illusion. Why a libertarian would accept a world-view with no freedom of choice is past understanding…

    Tony

  70. Pair production and annihilation is a nice way of showing how light particles and electrons and positrons are interchangeable with gamma rays.

    Tony

  71. Gamma rays have momentum, which means that they must have matter. No-one can say where the mass of electrons and positrons goes except in the gamma ray photons. There are no “Higgs bosons”. The phantasmogorical Quantum particle zoo is largely imaginary. Momentum is the signature of matter. The Dimensional analysis of anything with momentum necessarily requires Mass.

    Tony

  72. You haven’t defined what you mean by “matter” yet Tony.

    We can say that photons have no mass, no inertia and no volume, nor do they generate a gravitational field, all signatures of what we normally call “matter”. Mass and energy are by definition different things.

  73. That should read “The Wave and Ballistic Theories of Light.”

    Photons have momentum, and are affected by gravity (as e.g. light rays passing through gravitational field) and increase the mass of absorbing masses.

    Photons are made of the same material as electrons and positrons and neutrons. And vice versa.

    Call these microparticles positrinos and electrinos.

    Tony

  74. I suppose my problem with using only scientific reasoning is that if you explore far enough you will always come to a point where you have to say: Well, I just don’t know.
    Even reasoning itself presumes the validity (or compliance with reality?) of the human brain. But we know if we put some chemicals in there a person can have a perfectly valid and comprehensive visit with a dragon and a xyon and experience all sorts of profound insights that hang togather and make perfect sense as long as the chemical level is maintained. And sometimes after, as well.
    So we have to assume the validity of our perception for starters.
    Using the reasoning of this profound machine we can discover reality/truth by logic and, yes, it works. I don’t have a problem with that. It is great and good and wonderful.
    I do not have a problem with reason and I feel free to accept the validity of a lot of stuff because my experience is that there is a spiritual realm that goes beyond the empirical. And it all hangs together in my day to day life. Not as some pathetic hope but as a quiet, sustaining reality.
    But on a purely logical, reasoning basis there is always a point at which one has to accept that things do not make sense. One comes up against something that is beyond that which one can make sense of. Planck’s Wall?
    And that is not to say it does not make sense, simply that one does not yet have all the facts.
    But I do love thinking things through. I absolutely hold that that is what one should do, but never to compromise, as one must do if one gets to the limit and pretends it is not a limit.

  75. Wondered what you might make of this statement. It does not seem to quite make sense, but . .

    “Entropy is the principle by which physicists describe heat loss in a closed system. The existence of entropy is a proof that the universe is not eternal because if it were infinitely old it would have already died of heat death.”