James on Anarchy

Cross-cultural chatter at BJOL

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Nathan brought up the question of anarchy.  (Red Robin, my second-fave comic book character, by the way.)

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It's interesting; James freely mixes his website's material, 80/20 or 90/10, with most of it on baseball but some decent fraction of it on life and philosophy in general.  It mixes amazingly well.  

John Wooden, they say, would do that, spend 10% or 20% of his time speaking about life in general.  James keeps it to about 10% or 20%; he keeps it fair; he keeps it surgically-cool, and the result is that your grasp of baseball acquires a 3rd (or 4th?) dimension.

I forget where the below came from, though.  Maybe it came out of the discussion of NBA teams changing cities, and what the right checks-and-balances (the right government!) would be for the situation.

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Anarchy is a tough one. I thought about it for a long time. I won't convince you. You'll convince yourself, or you won't.

 

During the 20th Century 170 million people were killed by they're own government and 231 million were killed during wars. During our time the number killed during the Vietnam War was 4 to 6 million. For what?

 

If you approve of the American Empire, you approve torture, imprisonment without trial, killing without trial and now Americans are getting the same benefits. The mass slaughter of civilians is also OK. The President has a weekly kill list and he can make war, whenever. I think those things are evil. I wonder about people who believe in the Christian value system. No killing. No stealing etc. Yet if we get a group of men together and call it a government, all bets are off, all the bad stuff is allowed. Why?

 

I don't believe that I have the right to tell anyone else how to live. If you don't harm me, do as you will. Its how I chose to live.

Asked by: mauimike

Answered: 1/16/2013

 

 

That no one has the right to tell you how to live your life is central to my philosophy, and I'm entirely with you.    I also agree with you that, over history, governments have done a great deal more harm than good, and that, over the next 500 years, it is likely that they will continue to do a great deal more harm than good.   Governments throughout history have killed more people than murderers.   Giving governments more power and expecting them to use their power wisely is like wandering around handing out handguns to random strangers, expecting them to use them wisely.  

 

That you focus this on the 20th century and on the American government is, in my opinion, a manifestation of your own myopia and self-loathing, and not really relevant to the discussion. 

 

The entire center of your paragraph, in my view, is just a lot of mindless, undisciplined ranting.  There IS no "American empire"; any child can see the differences between American foreign policy and the empires of Rome or Britain, or any other "empire".  The number of people killed in Vietnam was 1.5 to 2 million, not 4 to 6, and some number of those were killed before America got involved.    No modern democracy approves of the mass slaughter of civilians as an instrument of war, although this practice WAS widely accepted throughout history up until the mid-20th century. 

 

There were. .what, 14 billion people who lived during the 20th century?   Something like that.    History is very large.   When you aggregate the crimes of history, exaggerate them and and charge them to a single entity, whether you call that entity "government" or "religion" or "aggression" or "selfishness" or "sin", obviously there are a great many offenses to be answered for.   This is not instructive. 

 

The real problem is not that government is evil, but that aggressive, selfish and sinful PEOPLE use governments to do wrong.    Without government there would still be aggressive, selfish and sinful people, and they would still do wrong.   You could still aggregate their wrongs to make a very large number.  Governments form as a natural and necessary social process that has existed throughout recorded history and long before recorded history.    Trying to wish them out of existence is like trying to wish there would be wasps, no vipers and no poisons.   The realistic goal is not that government can be eliminated, but that it can be disciplined and contained.  

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That'll do for us too.  
 
I think I could prove that the 3rd-worst government possible is Democracy, and that tied for 2nd-worst are all the other governments.  Worst would be no government at all -- anarchy.
 
You don't believe that, move to some area of Los Angeles in which you are assured that you will receive no government response -- to injury or crime -- for at least 60 minutes.
 
Imagine -- imagine! -- living in a gangbanged area on a continent possessing no government in any form (and how much of the continent would be gang'ed up?).  
 
You're only an anarchist if you haven't seriously thought it through.  Guys talk about wanting total "freedom" with no authority and then the first time somebody hoses them, they're calling for the cops or lawyers or, in some extreme circumstances, even the blog moderators.
 
Funny how an anarchy blog will have its comments section authoritatively censored :- )
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Comments

and a good point.

Funny my comment about military aggression in the Felix post almost seems more at home here. Anarchy sounded great when I was a teenager, but what did I know then? I think that's about the limit for most people is thinking the world should run the way they feel inside. Anarchy is a very teenaged idea in my opinion.

I don't think any form of government has yet proven superiority. There are cases to be made for and against all that I know of. I'm willing to hear any too. Maybe we should have some form of government run by something other than humans so that flaws won't tend to be so inherent...

If Red Robin is your second favorite who's your first? My top 2 are Jessie Custer of "Preacher" (the title the author, Garth Ennis, started after the successful story arc of "Hellblazer" that he wrote. This all long before they butchered the story for the "Constantine" film, but he wrote the original) and Spider Jerusalem of "Transmetropolitan".

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ghost's picture

ghost

America may be possessing of many faults, but this form of republican democracy has, IMHO, proven to be far superior to a number of other governmental structures - not the least of which include theocracies (think countries run by Sharia Law), Communism (which killed more people than all western nations combined), socialism (which is now proving to be completely unsustainable in Europe), and the monarchy. I think the human experimentalist has demonstrated that America's biggest faults are with centralized control (Japanese Internment Camps, unsustainable debts, wars without declaration, etc), and not with the initial conception of said government.

Just my 0.02

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For and against all of those including democracy. Keep in kind this is not the only democracy, Richard III was not the only king. Communism has no actual possibility of implementation by one definition and by another is much more socialism than anything else so its not a very clear government type. Islam was a successful theocracy for much longer than democracy has even existed and there are many other examples, just none that are successful presently.

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ghost's picture

ghost

And yes...the US is the only government of its kind that exists today or has ever existed.

Democracy is another form of government to which the US has proven itself superior by the weights of history. There have, of course, been good kings. The existence of successful kingships is irrelevant to the question of whether that form of government works. It does not work because all it takes is one bad king to ruin a country and the people have little to no recourse. State-run communism is a monolithic disaster that a singularly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions, and local communism is not a government, and not relevant to the discussion. Socialism is burning all over the world today and has never actually worked (in the sense of providing long-term sustainable economy) whenever it's been tried. And the Islamic regime was "successful" in that things got done to an extent and human accomplishments from within were impressive, but be careful with words like "successful"...if you were dropped into that Islamic state...you would find it horrific and repressive, and you would not have the sorts of human rights that we now deem prerequisites for a successful nation. Even while it was flourishing, the Islamic world was crumbling under the natural drives of people toward desiring freedom.

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Nathan H's picture

Nathan H

Not opposed to the idea that anarchy is ultimately a dead-end, but the argument that "government is inevitable so why bother?" doesn't sway me. If you've ever waited at a bus stop with a group of people, you've participated in anarchy. No one told you where to stand, who gets on the bus first, etc.

Do people need a medium for dispute resolution? Emphatically yes. But can this come from the free market as opposed to coming from a government? I think I may not have a light bulb on here that many others do. What might I be missing here? Thanks!

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let me see if i have the cycles to talk about it today... maybe

i'll do terse bullet points instead of paragraphs

* i more or less agree with james' response also

* one exception being that i think it makes sense to talk about america as an empire, with the stipulation that it's obviously a modern, art deco empire with quite a few differences in technique from the old school empires, which are no doubt mostly improvements; still does not mean there is nothing to talk about, no further changes to be made, wrongs to be righted, etc. as we go on forward. we have not yet perfected the thing, life; perhaps one day

* i find it interesting to dwell on the word anarchy as just being the opposite of hierarchy

* i was in occupy and it burned me out on pure anarchism. you just can't get anything done. people tend to follow leaders because they know instinctively that cooperation is powerful and in order to harness that power actions need to be coordinated and coherent.

* i'm still sympathetic to the concept and aims of anarchy and think there is plenty to be learned from the impulse and concept, even if we don't Commit Ourselves to the Purity

* i'm from los angeles and i think it's worth considering that gangs are not necessarily the natural state of ungoverned humanity, or don't have to be. perhaps they are! but at least in LA, there are a lot of other variables going into that - the existence of a black market due to drug prohibition, racial segregation and its after-effects. gangs are the most visible thing about south central to the outside world, but if you actually go there and walk down the street, you can meet a lot of very nice people and possibly even purchase and eat a delicious hamburger. if those people and hamburgers were better connected, with each other and with the rest of the city, i think they could become empowered and make great changes for the good in those areas. (i'm not necessarily saying anarchism or anything related to it is the thing needed to accomplish this.)

* i'm really one of those idiots who is always saying that the best form of government would probably be an enlightened monarchy / dictatorship run by a Truly Good Person with the fatal flaw there being that there is no known effective method for guaranteeing that the Person you are getting is Truly Good and so over the long run (and probably not so long) your stalins will inevitably worm their way into the chair and fire up the gulags

* i still don't know what the answer is, maybe there isn't one

* i like lizards

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SABR Mattdon't really care about defense as a value floor. If you don't hit, I don't want you.13 min 28 sec ago
okdanIf I remember right, Taro called his shot on Seth Smith several years ago, hoping the M's would target him. Looking at Souza, is he a similar kind of player? Perhaps that type of player template has a higher degree of working out. Certainly Souza's defense provides a nice floor of value in case his bat doesn't play as well.59 min 58 sec ago
TaroMontero's 2011 line in AAA for example was projected for a .261/.312/.435 line by ZIPS. He basically hasn't improved at all since then. Given his career line is .258/.302/.396 thats pretty close regressing for Safeco.8 hours 7 min ago
TaroBasically Montero was all projection, whereas Souza is good NOW with projection beyond that.8 hours 16 min ago
TaroI was huge on Montero's potential, and I was wrong. But to be fair Montero never put up the MLEs that Souza did. Souza projects as a 2-3 WAR player NOW based on what he did in AAA. Montero never did, he was incredible based on age related performance at his level and had massive power upside. But he never performed as well as Souza. His MLEs were in the 0-1 WAR range and he just never got better from there. Souza RIGHT NOW is above-average player. Montero never was.8 hours 18 min ago
moethedogI'm with Matt: Rios and Rasmus would be delightful! I'm with Taro: Souza will indeed be a player. But you could probably get both Rios and Rasmus for what Melky will cost per/year. 2X$8-$10M (with an option year) for Rasmus and something similar for Rios. Or just do Rasmus AND Souza, making all or us happy. You can get Souza fairly easily and sign Rasmus and have money to spend. Souza, btw, plays 1B, too. LoMo will need some breathers.8 hours 47 min ago
SABR MattHow much did you love Jesus Montero before we traded for him?8 hours 59 min ago
TaroJust think Souza is a player. I like his combination of athleticism, swing, and performance.9 hours 21 min ago
SABR MattRomero, Montero, Smoak, Peguero, Balentien, Clement...so...so many more. So many you won't possibly remember them all. And all but a scant tiny fraction of them have panned out. And that is not unique to the Mariners. There is a massive zero gravity moon step difference between an awesome AAA hitter and a proven major leaguer. All players have risks...but some are less risky than others. And for the record, Cruz's home run power transcends Safeco rather easily...and his hitter's park in Baltimore...has a mediocre at best HR factor to left. So...yeah...not worried about Cruz.10 hours 4 min ago
SABR MattTaro...love your insights and all...but how many guys have we promoted in the last 12 years who had great minor league numbers?10 hours 6 min ago
TaroEvery player you roster has some risk involved, included proven MLBers. Cruz will be a RH backspin 35 year old slugger with a career sub .330 OBP in hitters parks, and we've signed him for 4 years. I'd be more nervous about him than Souza in 2015, and especially beyond that. Souza has the performance in the high minors combined with insane athleticism. I think hes underrated due to being a football convert and a late bloomer.10 hours 16 min ago
SABR Mattyou don't take that sort of risk when this is the best chance you have of winning the WS. Souza can be a fourth outfielder option...not a starter.10 hours 39 min ago
GLSSouza is a risk, but a pretty good one.10 hours 42 min ago
SABR MattSouza is not reliable. That's not sufficient to this moment.10 hours 56 min ago
TaroI'm thinking Melky would want 'at least' 4 years gauranteed if hes looking for 5. If Ms stay hard at 3 they won't land him, vesting option for 4th or not. Just give him 5 with a lower AAV. 5/$55 or something in that range. Or deal for Souza (my favorite option).11 hours 28 min ago
SABR MattRasmus and Rios would be a fine platoon with CF helper potential and would be cheaper than Cabrera. I like Cabrera better even with more money involved, but Rios/Rasmus would also be fine with me.11 hours 34 min ago
Gordon GrossRios and Rasmus would be... extensive. By himself I'm not huge on Rios. A Rios/Rasmus platoon would be damaging. Playing with brass knuckles. I hope the Ms take the velvet gloves fully off this offseason. Zduriencik has waited half a decade to wade into the fight with fists flying - let's make it worth the wait. I'm fine with making Beane cry into his collapsing-budget cup o' coffee.11 hours 37 min ago
SABR MattRasmus. If you get Rios and Rasmus, the outfield aligns OK12 hours 14 min ago
moethedogThe Rios card might not bluff the Melky team guys: In '12 Rios was a heck of a player. In '11 he was a dud. In '13 and '14 he was basically a split heavy .280-.320-.420 guy with a pretty scraggly glove. There doesn't seem to be much Rios market out there right now, which might be a neat quality. You could probably get him for 2 years and not break the bank. Over the last two years Viciedo has hit RHP at a .738 and .689 clip. Rios has hit at .714 and .646 rate. Just saying. But he does continue to beat lefties up, so as a 4th OF-paired with Ackley, as Matt suggests, Rios would be great. He's been at .889 and .898 vL the last two years. That's rip-roaring. But it means that you need a RF who can play CF, as Rios no longer does.13 hours 12 min ago
moethedogRios and Miller would be a neat combo, perhaps. If the hint that we had interest in Seth Smith is true that might also be a place to go. Smith and Rios would be an interesting tandem. But you're still a CF short. Smith is what you hope Ackley becomes. And he's cheap for 3 years. But unless it's Jones, Miller or Endy...we need a CF glove to go with the one we've got. Bloomie? No thanks...13 hours 12 min ago