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[liberationtech] Commercialization makes your online rights irrelevant, more thoughts from my talk with @ioerror at #rp12

Dmytri Kleiner dk at
Mon May 21 08:02:35 PDT 2012

On 21.05.2012 15:23, Meredith L. Patterson wrote:
> On Mon, May 21, 2012 at 10:18 AM, Dmytri Kleiner

> While the species as a whole is deeply social, the degree of
> sociability for any given *individual* is highly variable, and indeed
> varies along more than one axis. Some of its axes have extrema that 
> we
> recognise as pathologies, e.g. the profound disregard for others that
> the DSM-IV identifies as "antisocial personaity disorder". But there
> is plenty of healthy natural variation between, e.g., extroverts and
> introverts. Thoreau, for instance, qualifies as someone who fits the
> description StealthMonger gave.

Even these people act in profoundly social ways, and are motivated by 
collective aspirations to a great degree, generally far more than by 
narrow utility maximization.

Even if they are not very sociable, this does not mean they are not 
social, i.e. that they wouldn't share or wouldn't sacrifice for their 
fellows or for causes they believe in, for justice, etc, Thoreau 
advocated civil disobedience to fight against slavery, for instance, 
even though he was not slave. This hardly suggests a "profound disregard 
for others."

It's precisely "The species as a whole" that is the import point when 
talking about economic systems. Without our social nature, it's unlikely 
we would have survived a species. See Kropotkin, etc.

Anyway, I've lost the plot. Even if some some perfect "Homo economicus" 
exist outside of Palookaville (or Galt's Gulch), this changes nothing 
about the way society works, or needs to work for our mutual freedom and 
survival. Remind me what the point is?

We have a world to share, and to do so, we need to respect each other. 
Not to mention that the distribution of wealth and power is currently 
extremely unequal, so even if some magic system of mutual utility 
maximization could work in an already-fair world (not that I believe 
this), it doesn't explain how we can overcome the unpleasant reality 
that the present extreme inequality allows the powerful to maximize 
their utility at the expense of the rest of us, and we can not change 
this without a moral prerogative to prevent them form "maximizing their 
utility" in this way. Therefore we clearly have a right to determine 
social outcomes collectively. Even when certain individuals, i.e. the 
rich, may not agree with such outcomes, i.e., more social and economic 

>> and suggest that our primary motivations are social ones, not 
>> individual utility maximization.
> If _Walden_ isn't about individual utility maximization then I don't
> know what is.

7 billion people can't live on Walden. IIRC, not even Thoreau stayed 
very long, despite that Walden was only a couple miles from town. Walden 
is certainly a masterpiece, but it's hardly a blueprint for a new 

"I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government" 
-- Henry David Thoreau

I'm no expert on Thoreau, but to paint him as a believer in man as a 
utility maximizing "hedonistic calculator" (in Veblen's terms) seems way 
off the mark. I also have doubts that Through would champion capitalism.

He to seemed to believe that we need to evolve towards the abolition of 
government, as communists would say, the "withering away of the state."

"That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are 
prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will 

Note: "when men are prepared for it."

When we are prepared for it, we will also have developed beyond 

In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class 
antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development 
of each is the condition for the free development of all.

That last bit is, of course, The Communist Manifesto.


Dmytri Kleiner
Venture Communist

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