Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Thick Libertarianism

I did not start my life as a libertarian. I was not a libertarian in high school. I was not a libertarian until well into college. I did not become a libertarian by reading Ayn Rand. In fact, when college started, I was at best a centrist with Republican leanings, the latter in no small part due to my Baptist upbringing. I had no real notion of how the economy ran other than my folk economics I was born with, and which was reinforced by our political culture. My moral beliefs were almost entirely formed by my Baptist upbringing and my parents' tolerant natures. If there were any libertarian seeds planted during that time, it was the moral aversion to racism planted by my parents.

I went to college and majored in recombinant gene technology. Through that major, I came to understand the world as complex, self-organizing, and evolving. This was reinforced by books I read in college on chaos theory, self-organization, quantum physics, cosmology, etc. I saw the world as complex, self-organizing, and evolving, and so, when I took an Intro. to Philosophy class, in which I was first introduced to economics -- specifically, free market economics -- by Ronald Nash, I found that this fascinating area matched well the world as I understood it to be.

It is perhaps difficult, in one's path to libertarian thinking, to avoid going through Ayn Rand. Which of course I did. I read "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" (which it is), which led me to Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, and on to the rest of her philosophy. At the same time, I read a number of other economists, from Walter Williams to Milton Friedman, but somehow did not come across too many Austrian economists. They remained to be discovered much later, after my world view had become even more complex, even more developed. Through Rand I discovered Nietzsche and Aristotle, with the former becoming a close companion.

All of this led me to abandon biology and pursue creative writing. I wanted to write stories that showed my world view. That led me to a Master's in English, and to the Ph.D. program in the humanities at UT-Dallas. I went through a postmodern-nihilist stage of sorts during my Master's time, but came out ready for a revaluation of values at UT-Dallas. It was there I met Alex Argyros and Frederick Turner, both of whom introduced me to the ideas of J.T. Fraser, the great philosopher of time. Through these three, I developed a far more complex world view -- one that was fully universalist, complex, self-organizing, emergentist, and evolutionary. I learned more and more about human evolution, evolutionary psychology, the way the brain worked and processed information about the world, the way we came to know about and understand the world, the ways in which we were social and individualistic -- and the ways in which we were not collectivist and individualistic.

In the beginning, nothing. But nothing, or perfect symmetry, is unstable. The symmetry thus broke, and the universe came into existence in the big bang. Waves of energy spread the universe, and spread through the universe, resulting in interference patterns that, as the universe cooled, crystallized into particle-waves that were capable of interacting to crystallize further into atoms. These atoms were pushed around by the waves of the universe, causing many to pool. As they pooled, gravity increased, attracting more and more atoms, until fusion occurred -- thus did the first stars self-organize and enlighten the sky. Fusion and, later, supernovae created more complex atoms, which were then able to engage in more complex chemistry, creating more complex molecules, and less volatile objects, like planets, on which life could emerge. Complex organic molecules are self-organizing, particularly in an aqueous environment. Life self-organized out of the early earth conditions -- life indeed is likely to be found throughout the universe, so likely is self-organization to occur. Complexity evolved as simple organisms competed for the available space. Competition is a discovery process, and thus life discovered many ways of doing things, including becoming more complex to create new environments. Self-organization to create more complexity is a natural process of the universe itself. One result was the emergence of intelligent species, including one intelligent enough that, with sufficient population density to make them socially intelligent as well, there emerged the ability to understand the universe itself. Yet, humans evolved in a particular environment, even as we are able to adapt to many environmental conditions. Yet, we are adapted to particular social conditions, which we cannot disregard if we want to live a moral, human life. Further, our brains are complex neural networks, which take in sensory data and convert that data into concepts. We are both born with instincts that allow us to learn certain things -- like language -- very rapidly, and subtract differences in common things to create concepts. We must forget to know, meaning we can never know everything possible in the universe. More, our practical knowledge is local. Humans interact with one another to create emergent, self-organizing social processes (spontaneous orders). These range from the moral order to the artistic orders to the economic order. These orders emerge as we become more moral, including more and more people in our "tribe", which really means, in our moral sphere of common humanity. We are thus social individuals whose interactions allow us to be smarter than we are as individuals, and which allow us to coordinate our actions and cooperate better. Organizations emerge which help us achieve our individual goals in that spontaneous order.

Thus, I am a libertarian because libertarianism comes closest to the way the world works. It is the political system one should hold if one believes in human equality, if one believes all people are in fact people and ought to be treated that way, meaning it is fundamentally the most moral system of them all, since all people, regardless of who they are, must be treated morally, meaning, as fellow human beings. The ethical person does not and does not support theft, rape, or murder, regardless of who the person is, whether they are rich or poor, black or white, of a different ethnicity, of a different culture, speak a different language, or are from a different country. These things are immoral for an individual, a group, or an organization to do -- even if that organization calls itself a government. Thus, I am a libertarian because libertarianism is the most moral world view -- not just political view -- one can hold. There is a recognition that good intentions are not good enough. The actions one takes to reach one's goals matter as much as the goals themselves. Which is in part why I'm an Austrian-school economist (the other reason being that this school of economics also is realistic in its understanding of epistemology, its tendency to reject equilibrium, and its understanding of the economy as a self-organizing process, or spontaneous order -- meaning it is the school of economics that takes more of the world into consideration in its understanding of the economy, and which actually matches the way the world actually works).

It is because I understand the universe to be a self-organizing, complexifiying, emergentist, evolutionary process, with humans and their social systems a part of that process, that I am a libertarian. It is because of my inclusive moral system, which is itself a spontaneous order, that I am a libertarian. It is because of my understanding of human psychology and human evolution, of how the brain works, of the presence of a variety of instincts we cannot do away with, and the way these all interact to create each individual, and how each individual in turn interacts with others to create organizations and spontaneous orders that, in turn, affect our emergent minds, which affect our neurochemistry, -physiology, and -actions that I am a libertarian. It is because of my understanding of human epistemology that I am a libertarian. My libertarian came out of these things; these things were not informed by my libertarianism. I followed the logic of discovering a consistent world. A free market and a free people interacting in spontaneous order societies reflects the self-organizing complexity at every level of reality in the universe. The world is inexorably and inevitably evolving toward libertarianism. It does not matter if there are conservative elements who oppose this movement. The universe will evolve as it will. All the enemies of reality as it truly is can do is delay it -- with all the negative consequences that delay necessarily brings.

Delay means we are trying to keep the world simple, or we are trying to simplify the world more. If you simplify a human, you make him an animal; if you simplify a living thing, you make it a pile of molecules undergoing entropy (you kill it). If you kill people, you simplify society. If you protect companies from competition, you stand in the way of new ways of doing things, and thus prevent more complexity from emerging. You thus stand in the way of the natural tendency of the universe. To do so is as immoral as actively simplifying the world. Thus, those who would destroy wealth by attempting to redistribute it (wealth can be created or destroyed, but cannot be redistributed -- only riches can be redistributed), those who would stand in the way of social complexity by opposing immigration in all forms, those who would stand in the way of economic complexity with their socialist or interventionist schemes (anti-natural religious schemes, if the truth be told), those who would prevent cultural and artistic evolution, are all from this point of view immoral people, standing in the way of the complexifying drive of the universe.
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