Nuclear Anarchism Part 4: An Epilogue of Objections

March 24th, 2015   Submitted by Foo Quuxman

Nuke2When I wrote parts 1, 2, and 3 of the Nuclear Anarchism series I expected to receive many comments informing me that I was an idiot for even considering the concept of privately owned nuclear devices. Now that the arguing has died down, this fourth part will address the common objections raised by those responses, as well as any interesting or thoughtful ones.

Cost Effectiveness

Several of the respondents claimed that privately owned nuclear devices would never exist, because they are sufficiently expensive to make it impossible for anyone to own and maintain one. Or alternatively, that no one would own one because, while it may be theoretically possible to pay for production and upkeep, they would not be cost effective.

All variants of these arguments are founded on an ignorance of economic development, and the deflationary nature of technology. At their core is the premise that the wealth level of a society will remain flat, forever. This means that there can be no technological development whatsoever, no depletion of existing resources, or discovery of new ones, and no ability for people to save money or concentrate capital towards ungood goals. This is the Malthusian trap I addressed in part 3.

Subsidies

One notable variant of the previous assertion (courtesy of one of our local commentators, Vanmind) is that nuclear technology can only be cost effective with governmental subsidies. Not only does this make the same economic errors as the general form of the cost effectiveness objection, but it also implies that because a government achieved a certain goal through corrupt methods, there is no way for a private entity to achieve the same goal. Just because the government is able to get resources without paying the true cost of their use does not mean that those resources are impossible for a free market to acquire, even if Statist apologists insist otherwise.

Magical Thinking

Another frequent assertion was that the existence of nuclear weapons is synonymous with the extinction of the human race. Usually no argument was given for why this is so, it was simply to be accepted and not questioned. Tellingly, if any supporting argument was given it was merely a recitation of the standard cliches, such as “We have enough nuclear weapons to killed all life on earth over 5,000 times.”

Radiation was also regarded as the ultimate doom, but no distinction was made between radiation and fallout. When someone believes that radiation and fallout are different from other kinds of chemical pollution, and don’t occur without nuclear weapons, they inevitably conclude that they are unique evils, and impossible to manage except by those with the blessing of the State. The result of this anti-nuclear hysteria is that people wrongfully think it’s better to be exposed to the radiation and chemical releases not referred to as “nuclear” than it is to be exposed to far less pollutants from something with that label.

This is also an example of the scale problem I have mentioned throughout this series. Nuclear war is only existentially dangerous to a planetbound civilization. A spaceborne civilization is intrinsically hardened against that sort of danger. Behind the assertion that “nuclear weapons = death of humanity” lurks a small mind that can only conceive of being chained to a single planet.

Utopianism

Naturally the accusation of utopian thinking was raised, about which I have little to say except this: How is it utopianian to believe that we cannot avoid horrible outcomes? Isn’t it more utopian to believe that bad people will never get their hands on a nuclear device if we leave the nukes in the hands of the least trustworthy group in existence, namely governments?

Terrorism

My answer to this objection is at the root the same as the answer to utopianism, however it deserves more attention. Yes, terrorists armed with nuclear weapons is one of the worst possible situations with modern technology. But the State doesn’t change whether they will be able to get a hold of a nuke or not. Some of the terrorist problem disappears without the State, but not all of it. Most of it is cultural.

There are certain cultures that need to have their premises checked before they get their hands on certain kinds of technology. Currently, most of them are based on religious fanaticism, but in the past violent socialists/communists were at the forefront, though I guess they could be lumped into the religion category. It is important to note that these groups often have some form of State support, however if something is cheap enough State support is unneeded. I don’t recall Timothy McVeigh having a sponsor, for example. Regardless of the source, once the premises which teach a culture “kill the heretics for great justice!” are gone everything else becomes easier. But meme warfare takes time, and it causes cultural antibodies (commonly known as conservatives) to respond, so the longer people refuse to extract their collective heads from the sand, the more likely it will be that overwhelming force is the only answer left.

“Why would anyone ever need a nuke?”

This is one of the more common “questions,” by which I mean it is not really a question at all. Rather, it fulfills the same function as “Who will build the roads?” The person is simply throwing out a random statement as an attack, not because they want to know about the subject.

For those who are asking because they do want to know, there are several answers; partly because there actually are reasons to have nuclear devices, and partly because assuming guilt before innocence is a guarantee of bad outcomes. The claims that nuclear devices are fundamentally different from all other things, and as such are too dangerous to not ban, runs afoul of both magical thinking, and the scale problem.

“Telling people that anarchy requires this eventuality will turn most people against the idea.”

Quite the contrary, anarchy doesn’t have much of anything to do with whether this happens or not. With government “help” it is easier for people to fool themselves into thinking that it will not happen. However, anarchy gives us the best chance to build proper defenses against these situations.

Why it can’t be stopped

Throughout this series I have explained that the existence of private nuclear devices can not be prevented. But maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps some new technology will so completely supplant fission and fusion that there will be no economic reason to use them.

It doesn’t matter.

Even if something completely supersedes nuclear technology, by implication it must have a higher energy density than the binding energy of atoms, which means that it could be used as a superior weapon, putting us back to square one.

Nuclear weapons are actually fairly low on the list of things that could wipe out large numbers of people, are realistic near-future technology, and can be deployed by individuals. A few others that come to mind are nanotech, artificial or modified germs, and spacecraft. Any of these could be used to destroy large swaths of the population of a single planet with relative ease, and the development of any of them will have incalculable benefits driving their use.

Ignoring that, any resources put into developing nuclear technology will reduce its cost, making it easier for smaller entities to afford. Any development in other fields will reduce the cost of those technologies, freeing up resources someone can then put into nuclear technology. The result is that any economic development of any kind will reduce the effective cost of producing and maintaining nuclear devices, making it easier for individuals or small groups to acquire them.

This interaction of technological development and governmental regulation/control/oversight has previously been mapped by David Friedman in his book Future Imperfect. In summary: Any technology is likely to start as expensive and then become progressively cheaper with time as more resources are poured into it’s development.

The implications of this are that the early, expensive period are dominated by governments and contractors who are working on hostile uses for the technology, with limited effort going into counter-measures. Later it becomes cheap enough for anyone to use it regardless of “oversight”. Think of the narcotics trade for an extreme example. Governments are impotent to stop people from getting things they want that are relatively easy to produce.

Without government control the early, expensive period will include many groups whose only interest is to use the new technology for productive or defensive purposes, with the result that when it is cheap enough so that anyone can deploy the technology there is already a solid backbone of defense against hostile uses.

In conclusion, it is better to confront damned facts head on, however horrible they may be, than to pretend they don’t exist until that self-delusion ends up killing people, or destroying their lives. Worse, the denial of damned facts surrenders the truth, and gives ammunition to the worst sorts of slime. I refuse to help such people.

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41 Responses to “Nuclear Anarchism Part 4: An Epilogue of Objections”

  1. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    Since you want to deal in facts, isn’t it a fact that all nuclear weapons that have been developed have for the most part been created at the behest od states? Are not all such weapons today in the control of states? What evidence is there for an individual or group of individuals independent from a state creating and maintaining nuclear weapons?

    • Foo QuuxmanNo Gravatar says:

      all nuclear weapons that have been developed have for the most part been created at the behest od states?

      True.

      However the same can be said of other things, some would even claim that roads fall into this category (though that is not true). But if one is trying to make the argument that a technological device will never be built by private entities, basing that argument on “it is too expensive” is a non-starter.

      At this point in history privately owned nuclear devices are scary, nay, terrifying! I do not deny that much. For that reason people are willing to accept arguments that are ridiculous, so long the argument has a conclusion they like, such as “It will be too expensive for anyone to own”, or “The State can control it safely”. It is the same reaction as a child hiding under the pillow so the monster won’t get them, it would be cute if it didn’t have the potential to kill a lot of people.

      • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

        The question you should ask is why someone would build nuclear weapons if a state did not exist. One can defend one’s self and property satisfactorily without nuclear weapons. Unless one wants to rule mass numbers of people or was willing to sell such weapons to someone(s) why would they create such weapons or think they were needed?

        • autonomousNo Gravatar says:

          Why would anyone want to own an automatic or semi-automatic weapon what was not defending a mass threat? Yet they do. Some get a perverse pleasure from owning dynamite or nitroglycerin and even more dangerous substances. Will some halfwit want to privately own (and even to use) nuclear or biological weapons? Of course there will be demand.

        • apotheonNo Gravatar says:

          Nuclear explosive devices may have purposes other than as weapons. In fact, states have engaged in use of nuclear explosive device development for large-scale construction projects, and I think the Soviet Union even used them.

    • apotheonNo Gravatar says:

      In principle, nuclear weapons should not be particularly expensive to produce. Materials costs — including costs for materials that are necessary for the processing of weapons materials themselves — tend to be artificially inflated by regulatory friction and outright prohibition, such that only illicit channels ultimately connected to a state become affordable to an entity that cannot print its own money. The processing costs themselves are probably the most expensive when discounting regulatory friction, but the advancement of processing technology for purposes of cost effectiveness and safety is itself retarded by state involvement, which always has a perverting effect on the advancement of technologies forbidden to strictly private development.

      There is, of course, little or no direct evidence for affordability or practicality of strictly private development, production, and maintenance of nuclear weapons, for the same reason that there is little or no direct evidence of large-scale, broad area coverage of Internet infrastructure being affordable or practical for strictly private development, deployment, and maintenance: because, when government gets involved and the subsidies, granted monopolies, and other favors start flying, there’s no competing on quality or “natural” cost any longer. There is an orgy of indirect evidence, however, in the form of a long history of various industries being wholly subsumed by state-controlled and -regulated production and management, leading to mounting costs only defrayed by legally enforced monopolies and subsidies both direct and (more importantly, in the aggregate effects) indirect, to say nothing of the anticompetitive disproportionate effects of regulation on small, upstart entrants into the most heavily regulated industries.

  2. apotheonNo Gravatar says:

    I suspect that strategic nuclear weapons might not yet have been developed without the state, actually. I’m not saying that strategic weapons development of equal or greater destructiveness would not have been developed, of course. Rather, I think the early days of nuclear weapon development were driven by state interests, where private interests would have directed strategic weapons development would have pursued other paths that did not benefit as much from centralized power structures, and those alternatives to strategic nuclear weapons would have developed more incidentally to productive technological progress rather than as a core driving motivation for inventing and refining ever-more destructive ways of “competing” with others. Of course, you’ve rather blatantly “hinted” at this already.

    On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that by now tactical nuclear weapons development would be ahead of what has already been developed, because by the time private interests would have started developing nuclear weapons technology the refinement of materials as a byproduct of safe and efficient nuclear power generation would have provided a bit of a huge head start in development of tactical nuclear weapons — mostly for demolitions and other nonaggressive applications. I speculate, of course, but that’s my guess.

    We’d probably have seen so-called “dirty bombs” (that is, non-nuclear explosive devices that include radioactive materials as a tool of terror, because there’s no other practical benefit to such a thing) on about the same timeline, I think. The reason is that, though terrorism would likely not be nearly as prevalent or popular a “career” path in a stateless world (assuming stable anarchism or panarchism, due in part to the fact most significant terrorism is a response to the state, and simultaneously state sponsored), the lack of state regulation of nuclear technology would balance the gentler sociopolitical climate of terrorism with greater ease of acquisition of radioactive materials.

    . . . but might-have-beens are obviously merely a matter of speculation, and there is no way to argue for one side or the other of such a matter with any substantial authority.

    • JohnNo Gravatar says:

      Just wanted to check – you are aware that while dirty bombs may sound scary, and thus serve the purpose of a terrorist, they do very little actual radioactive damage? The affected people would need to dispose of clothes, take a shower, take an iodine tablet or two, wait for the clean-up to finish, and the return to their neighborhood and go on living.

      “””I suspect that strategic nuclear weapons might not yet have been developed without the state, actually.”””

      I noticed that radioactive Thorium is not mentioned anywhere on this web page so far. I will admit that I have not reads parts 1, 2 or 3. Private sector would arguably be interested in nuclear energy before bombs, and successful & superior Thorium-based prototypes were built. There is now a start-up in the south of the US (I believe) that is trying to revive this old but neat idea.

      For entertainment purposes, here is a tinfoily link:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AptxNrQpGA4

      You may also look up the talk by Kirk Sorensen at TED-x.

      • JohnNo Gravatar says:

        John Bowery 3 months ago

        This video is good but if anything understates the potential advantages of utilizing thorium as an energy source.
        1) Rare earth mining could boom in this U.S. if thorium could be reclassified from being a “nuclear waste” to a nuclear fuel.
        2) Molten salt thorium reactors convert 99% of the fuel into energy instead of the 1% efficiency of uranium reactors.
        3) The fuel in a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LiFTR) can automatically flow into storage containers shutting down the reactor in cases of emergency.
        4) It doesn’t require a pressurized water system for cooling or power generation which decreases the size and cost of thorium reactors and greatly increases safety.
        5) It can actually can “burn” spent uranium fuel rods and plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons creating more energy and eliminating the need for long term (50,000 year) storage facilities.
        6) Because the fuel is molten, transuranic elements and isotopes can be extracted for use as cancer treatments.

        The list goes on and on.

      • apotheonNo Gravatar says:

        “Just wanted to check — you are aware that” I even said they weren’t nuclear devices, and that despite that fact someone might bring it up in this context, so I decided to address it . . . right?

        Yes, I’m aware the relative radiocativity damage is very low. So what? Is that the only quibble you can summon in response to what I said? It was a throw-away side-commentary on a tangentially related matter. The core of my commentary was about strategic and tactical nuclear weapon development, and the relative development incentives of these things especially in contrast to peaceful uses of nuclear explosive (and, by implication, nuclear energy) techologies.

        . . . and, without a state, thorium would never have been classified by law as strictly “waste” material. I’m not sure why you raise what looks like a point of disagreement that does not actually disagree with anything I said, then transition from there to talking about how great it would be if we could just get the state to stop being bureaucratic and obstructionist toward peaceful technology development, especially when the solution seems pretty easy: do away with the bureaucratic and obstructionist power centralization sociopolitical mechanisms that we call, collectively, the state.

  3. autonomousNo Gravatar says:

    You have written a very good series. I would only add to it the observation that every such extension of human power has created a huge demand. The lever, the wheel, gunpowder, the automobile, and its analogue the tank, fire, and of course, government. And what is demanded will, sooner than later, be supplied, in sufficient quantity and at such price, that it will be met.
    If the Hadron Collider invents a greater power, that also will be demanded. Human demand to dominate (and to be dominated) seems to be an insatiable drive in mankind.

  4. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    I will make a few comments. First of all, I am trying to understand your thesis more precisely. I suppose you are arguing against an argument that anarchy is dangerous/impractical because there are nukes and anybody can fire them at any time, and therefore let’s have a state.

    I like the idea of anarchy, but I have not seen it work on any sort of large scale in recent times. In my world evidence trumps ideas, so I would like to see a bunch of A geeks build their floating islands and live on them without being torpedoed for a decade. If they survive and thrive, then I may cautiously join the movement. Whether the anarchy takes place in the ocean or mountains, I would like to observe it in action and be able to collect the data. The first experiments may actually do surprisingly well, because it will probably be well-off or retired silicon valley coders who are getting $100+/hr (in today’s money) either through salary or investments. Those are the selected few who did well thanks to their brains. They can “gentrify” any location, be it Bronx ghetto or an abandoned oil tanker. I would like to observe how a larger population functions under anarchy for an extended period of time. My main theme here is – it is good to have a hypothesis, but damn show me the data. I am pessimistic about humanity. The John Galts are way outnumbered by the no talent ass clowns and the parasitic sociopaths. I will talk about sociopaths in a separate post for it is far too big and important of a topic.

    Now, I will comment on the following paragraph:

    “””This is also an example of the scale problem I have mentioned throughout this series. Nuclear war is only existentially dangerous to a planetbound civilization. A spaceborne civilization is intrinsically hardened against that sort of danger. Behind the assertion that “nuclear weapons = death of humanity” lurks a small mind that can only conceive of being chained to a single planet.”””

    I think your ability to [perhaps accurately] imagine the future far outpaces the speed at which real progress is made. My sub-thesis: technology may change fast, but humans do not, and energy is expensive; it is hard to harvest, store and transport and that is a limiting factor. Adam Kokesh talked about roads, government and market. I agree that in private hands means of transportation would drastically improve, but I do not agree that every household would have a flying car. This has to do not with monetary cost, but with energy cost. Chris Martenson popularized this idea with his crash course series. Specifically: if it takes one gallon of oil to extract one gallon of oil, then that oil will stay in the sand. I can think of an exception: if oil is more valuable for its chemical properties than for its energy content, then I can see a firm using 2 Joules of solar energy to extract 1 Joule worth of oil. Anyhow, energy limitations are real. Flying cars, helicopters, airplanes are real energy guzzlers. The specific problem with flying cars could be solved in a few decades if humans find a very cheap source of energy (fission), then either learn to create artificial rocket fuel cheaply from merely water, air and a ton of cheap electricity, or come with a storage of electrical energy that is so dense, that gasoline/kerosene/diesel is no longer required (it is very convenient though).

    I only talked about energetic challenges with flying cars. Now, living in space? OMG, it requires SOOO much energy to lift off and it is so dangerous and harmful for one’s health! There were no human trips to the moon (1LD = 238,900 mi) in the last few decades. It takes a lot of energy! What are humans doing instead? They are hanging out at ISS in Low Earth Orbit at 230 +/-25 mi above Earth. That is about 0.1% of a Lunar distance! Hold your horses, young science fiction fan. The energy requirements of space travel are just ridiculous. On top of that, humans will not evolutionary adjust to that any time soon. Maybe you have genetic engineering in mind, but personally – I will not volunteer my genes or my offspring’s genes to be mutated. I think that Mormons and other paranoid religious preppers will outlive geeks who are open to experimenting with their genes. What could go wrong? I will tell you this – give me an airplane, allow me to examine all of its systems for a month and then allow me to flip a SINGLE BIT in software or firmware, and I am pretty sure that I can find several ways to crash it. Same with gene modification – the system is too complex and stupid human “scientists” do not really know what they are doing.

    Space is also dangerous – there is space junk flying at high speeds, penetrating space radiation, magnetic storms, EMPs. Living in space is theoretically possible but in practice it is very freaking tricky. So many humans cannot figure out a way to earn at least $10/hr or to figure out how condoms work – I would not want to be flying with those monkeys inside of a metal tube, surrounded by vacuum, millions of miles away from solid ground.

    So, back to theory vs practice. Before space travel or even flying cars, I would like to see humans thrive on floating islands, and successfully deal with all of the challenges that this presents. Buoyancy does not have to take any energy – mother nature gifts that to us. Also, solar and wave energy is available. Should be a walk in a park comparing to living in almost 0K vacuum.

    I will again add that idiots (a huge fraction) and sociopaths (about 3%) make it difficult to achieve peaceful anarchy. And self-styled anarchists who make liberal use of the word “we” make me hesitant to trust even this “selected minority”, who despite all of the statist propaganda since the early age have the brain cells and the will power to go against the flow.

    I may come across as a dick. That is not my intent. I do not dislike you personally. I am not even arguing one way or another, at least not yet. I just think I found holes and weakness in your argumentation, and I will point that out regardless of emotions this may create. I would much rather crash a test car (and a lot) in a controlled environment than let the real passengers suffer.

    • apotheonNo Gravatar says:

      After learning about, and for several decades seeing first-hand, just how doggedly the system in place keeps committing to the same mistakes as “solutions” to the previous rounds of those mistakes, and even ups the ante with every iteration so that the mistakes are bigger and more pervasive, I’m ready to try something new. We may not have real-modern-world empirical proof that libertopia will Solve All The World’s Problems (in fact, I believe it won’t), it could hardly do worse at this point than the state “solutions” that are currently engaged in widespread slavery and murder to protect whatever each state claims it protects, and we do have ample proof that what we’ve been doing for millennia is absolutely not working worth a damn, and is perhaps the root, and at least an amplifier, of most of the world’s problems in their current forms.

      You may be content to add your voice to the chorus calling for minuscule, largely meaningless “reforms” of governmental policy until someone magically replaces all of Central America’s society with Manifest Ancapistan so you can have solid, demonstrated proof, but I’m content to simply note that everyone has different ideas about what reforms are needed so that nothing meaningful will get done once all the compromises water them down to nothing, and to note that the gradualist make-the-state-perfect approach has had the effect of making the state ever more perfectly horrible for uncounted ages, then steer my course away from that path so relentlessly, unavoidably proven to be the opposite of what is needed to make the world a better place.

      • JohnNo Gravatar says:

        You cannot know with certainty what my position or intent for posting here is. I may be John McAfee. I may be a troll working for NSA. I may also be an ex-communist from Cuba who got struck with a lightning, spent a month in a coma, and upon waking up started to speak with an American accent and researching Anarchy.

        You have used the word “we” three times. I understand that we includes I. What are you doing to achieve peaceful anarchy? Are you not paying taxes, designing the new bitcoin, making zip guns in your basement, sharing plans for a cheap DIY bunker on the internet, secretly installing fluoride filters in schools, shaming IRS agents into quitting, inserting dandelions into soldier’s guns?

        What are YOU doing to make a difference?

        • apotheonNo Gravatar says:

          You said: “You cannot know with certainty what my position or intent for posting here is.”

          I never claimed otherwise.

          You said: “You have used the word ‘we’ three times. I understand that we includes I.”

          That much is true, in that we have the ability to find references to gobs of data about what has been done in the past and the consequences thereof. Your next sentence, a question, reads: “What are you doing to achieve peaceful anarchy?” Its placement seems to suggest that you somehow think this is a natural follow-up to my use of “we”, though I frankly do not see the connection, considering I referred to “we” as “people with access to the Internet in a manner roughly analogous to my own access”, and that was only in reference to the availability of evidence of what does and does not work. What does that have to do with what I’m doing to bring about “peaceful anarchy”?

          You said: “What are YOU doing to make a difference?”

          Your confrontational presentation of the question seems indicative of a strange (perhaps even paranoiac) belief that I’m somehow persecuting you for not doing enough. I’m doing no such thing. I’m just pointing out that while you are, in some ways, actively arguing against trying something new because people haven’t sufficiently committed to trying something new for you to have perfect foreknowledge of how well it will work out, I’m much more open to trying something new because continuing to do the same old harmful shit is demonstratedly counterproductive for the aim of making things better.

          That aside, though, I’ll answer your question anyway, though perhaps not as directly as you expected.

          I am not an “anarchist”. I consider things like anarchism, capitalism, mutualism, minarchism, and any of the other competing practical liberty-oriented sociopolitical and socioeconomic system advocating “isms” to be implementation details. Whatever works is fine with me, in that regard. My only requirement is that it is in principle, and at least moreso than the alternative also in practice, NAP-compliant — or, if such a thing appears, compliant with some other ethical system that proves itself more rigorously and rationally supported than the metaphysical moral caution theory of ethics. Given my lack of anarchist self-identification, it should be no surprise that I am not in fact doing anything to specifically remake the world in ancapistan’s image, per se.

          On the subject of making “a difference”, however, I am doing quite a few things. Even in this discussion, I’m doing something by trying to convince someone that fear of the unknown can doom us to a comfortably familiar hell on earth far worse than likely outcomes for trying something new. More substantively, however, I’m also writing software, writing essays, engaging local communities in white- and loophole-ish slightly-grey-market activities in attempts to route around some of the egregious malevolence and incompetence of authoritarian rule, supporting parts and inhabitants of the system in place that are worthy of support and survival even beyond any potential failure of the persistence of our thoroughly broken socioeconomic system, voting with my currency denominative units (e.g. “dollars”), reducing my dependence on those institutions that are part of the problem, using what I learn from that to help others also reduce their dependence on those institutions, directing an unincorporated nonprofit association whose purpose includes advocating and providing tools and information for those who wish to guide their own lives and environments away from some of the oppressive horrors of the system in place (for a specific, fairly well-delineated subset of those), and, well, quite a few other things as well.

          I don’t know if “anarchism” is the answer. I do know that if what we have is the answer, we’ve been asking the wrong question. I also know that a lot of things that are part of the answer we should seek are easily identifiable, and I work to promote some of those (one must prioritize one’s time and other resources, alas).

          Does that answer your question?

  5. VanmindNo Gravatar says:

    Seems that someone is still confusing an ERE with an economy at a final state of rest with a stationary economy.

    Also, “deflationary nature of technology” is not a thing. Tendencies, perhaps, for prices to head lower after time … but tendencies to not make absolutes and, besides, deflation is a term to describe retracting the supply of media of exchange & credit (not a term to describe declining prices).

    • JohnNo Gravatar says:

      What is ERE?

      “””deflation is a term to describe retracting the supply of media of exchange & credit (not a term to describe declining prices).”””

      Both wikipedia and investopedia mention falling prices in the first sentence. What are your source[s] for defining deflation?

      • apotheonNo Gravatar says:

        Inflation and deflation, as terms referring to the money supply, are terms of economic study that pretty much go back to the beginning of economics as a specific field of study. All else being equal, the most basic principles of modern economics (supply and demand) indicate that as a currency inflates, its value drops, which means prices measured in that currency increase. The use of those terms to refer to prices is a more recent development based on intermediate uses of the term “price inflation”, which referred to those price increases measured against the practical market value of the currency. Therefore, a roughly proportional relationship between (currency) inflation and price inflation led to the casual use of the bare term “inflation” to refer to both, or to neither. Those schools of economic thought that tended toward justifying top-down management of markets, especially through manipulation of the money supply, also tended to downplay the negative effects of inflation including the connection between (currency) inflation and price inflation, and as some of them (e.g. monetarism and Keynesianism) gained significant — even dominant — influence for governmental policy (because why wouldn’t government prefer the influence of economic theories that said government should control everything?), their tendency to shift the emphasis of the term “inflation” from currency to prices (thus distracting from the strong relationship between the two) gained linguistic “currency”.

        Now, most new Bachelor’s degrees in economics from the majority of US institutions of “higher learning” probably never even expose students to more rigorous, older terms of art in the study of economics, though they are still relevant and valuable terms that help describe the dynamics of market economies.

        As for ERE, I think maybe Vanmind is referring to an evenly rotating economy, which is for most people (including economists without their heads up their fourth points of contact) nothing but a theoretical model used to explore limited subsets of potential consequences of various market conditions in play. I’m not sure how that applies here.

        • JohnNo Gravatar says:

          Now that you defined ERE, would you also translate this (individual terms and the whole thing)?

          “””Seems that someone is still confusing an ERE with an economy at a final state of rest with a stationary economy”””

          • VanmindNo Gravatar says:

            That was a quick attempt to recall & recap the tiresome entirety of the multi-part pleonasm.

            If the John avatar wishes to do some e-legwork, go ahead and look up those three terms within Mises’ magnum opus Human Action. They are imaginary constructs used for thought experiments … for example: if one contemplates what might happen to an economy when a single element changes (such as the elimination of government intervention), it might be handy to have an abstract “thing” to use as an imaginary benchmark — like an ERE or a stationary economy — in order to compare a make-believe economy featuring the potential change being analyzed with one in which the prospect of change is absent.

            That’s an oversimplification, of course. To paraphrase Mises, all human action is aimed toward decreasing the need for future action, yet no point of “final rest” or “equilibrium” can ever be reached because each individual’s subjective valuation of their surroundings changes from moment to moment (some mathematical economists do try to claim equilibrium as a real-life aspect of market economies — which is one of the errors/lies that hampers economic freedom and by extension personal freedom). On the market, all this action that tends to push the prices of various goods/services toward an ever-changing “equilibrium” without ever being able to achieve “final rest” is reflected in a clearing of the things being exchanged as their prices fluctuate to facilitate such clearing (“It’s an Everything-Must-Go sale!”).

            Keynesians claim that markets do not clear in such a manner and that “gluts” accumulate. More oversimplification, necessitating more e-legwork from avatars wanting to know more about the differences between subjective valuation (freedom) and the economic planning of self-styled objectivity-knowers (oppression).

            • JohnNo Gravatar says:

              Is there a way to describe the point behind this sentence in a plainer English?

              “Seems that someone is still confusing an ERE with an economy at a final state of rest with a stationary economy.”

              It does not feel right to me that you need to bring all this heavy machinery such as ERE, equilibriums, in order to make a point.

              For example, I can illustrate and explain the Simpson’s paradox
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson%27s_paradox#Batting_average s
              using simple arithmetics and without having the reader to learn advanced statistics. Average is all they need. Alternatively, I am sure that I can first introduce the concept of random processes, correlation, covariance, mean, median, standard deviation … and then express the paradox in terms of those. Those who do all the e-legwork will end up learning intro to statistics as a benefit, but I think most of the readers will not go that route and will not learn anything, and might even avoid touching the topic of Simpson’s paradox in the future because it seems rather complicated.

              • VanmindNo Gravatar says:

                Give minimal heed to mathematical economics. Dialectical handbookery has nothing on the superlative grammarian interpretations of the Austrian School and its successor A++ Political Economy.

                Imaginary constructs like the ERE do not represent heavy machinery. They are the simplification compared with fraudulent theories that depend upon statistical analysis (e.g. econometrics). It is the concept of random processes, correlation, covariance, mean, median, standard deviation which acts as a figurative monkey wrench thrown amid the machinery of individualistic subjective valuation (as an aside: no economy is an actual machine with parts that need maintenance).

                Remember, all you avatars out there: scientism is a NWO con, so throttle back the machine and reintroduce yourselves to song.

          • apotheonNo Gravatar says:

            “Seems that someone is still confusing an ERE with an economy at a final state of rest with a stationary economy”

            My guess is that it’s the economics version of saying “the map is not the territory” — that is, I think Vanmind is saying that “someone” (given the top-level placement of the comment, perhaps Vanmind means Foo Quuxman) is confusing various models and, beyond that, models with reality, in his explanations of how things might change given changes to a few key factors in play. I’m not really sure, though, because Vanmind seems to be quite unwilling or unable to escape some significant explicatory obfuscation.

            Notice how I said “I’m not sure how that applies here.” In short, I’m not really sure what Vanmind means. I can only speculate, and even my speculation falls short given I cannot be sure who is the intended target of that “someone”, or what specific statements might have elicited the comment (or why).

    • Foo QuuxmanNo Gravatar says:

      Also, “deflationary nature of technology” is not a thing.

      Oh but it is, the defining feature of technology is to either increase capabilities, decrease costs, or both. Whatever the specific form it takes the result is the same: less input resources for a given goal.

      • JohnNo Gravatar says:

        I think that Van Mind is technically right. Technology can help use a resource more efficiently, but 1) Eliminate competition and this gain in efficiency will not be visible to the consumers in the form of lower prices. 2) If a resource is limited, as you start to run out of it, its price will go up. 3) Something else I have not thought of.

        There exists an overall trend of lowering prices over time, but it is not an absolute law. It is theoretically possible that the price of a nuke will never go down.

        • apotheonNo Gravatar says:

          Judging by Vanmind’s response, I don’t think that was what Vanmind meant; your argument is apparently distinct from Vanmind’s.

      • VanmindNo Gravatar says:

        Neither increased technological capabilities nor decreasing prices is ever defined as deflation.

    • Stephan JerdeNo Gravatar says:

      Seems that someone is still confusing an ERE with an economy at a final state of rest with a stationary economy.

      What is the point of your objection? The hypothetical equilibrium state is just the special case of the equally hypothetical ERE with all profits driven to 0. I’m not sure how that has anything at all to do with the statement that improvements in technology generally improve the productivity of any given system, and, cet. par. a reduction in production costs. The reduction in price is a consequence of a free market (specifically, no or minimal barriers to entry) and decreased production costs.

      I agree he skipped a couple steps in the explanation (as have I) but he arrived at the right conclusion.

  6. anarchoguitaristNo Gravatar says:

    Great series of articles. The issue of private nuclear weapons has always been difficult for me but private nuclear power has not. I”m convinced that if we had private nuclear power we would have thorium reactors already in widespread use. This would result in cheap, abundant and clean electricity available worldwide. We also would have developed thermonuclear fission rockets and probably would already have bases on the moon and Mars. We would already be planning human missions to Europa and Titan, and tourism to our moon and Mars bases would be affordable for those in the middle or at least upper-middle class.

    Instead of this we have NASA using the same technology that it was been using for over 50 years to get us into orbit. The best chance for us getting to Mars any time soon is the “Mars One” project. A privately funded attempt to colonize Mars. I wish this project luck, but it is unfortunate that they are forced to use the same 50 year old technology as NASA due to gov regulation and the public’s knee-jerk aversion to anything “Nuclear,” including a thermonuclear fission rocket.

  7. macsnafuNo Gravatar says:

    Good points brought out. People have been so terrified by the mere concept of nuclear weapons that they can’t think straight about them. But in the end, nuclear technology, just like any other technology, is in human hands and human control. There’s no good reason to think that government control of nuclear technology is somehow magically better or safer than private control.

    • JohnNo Gravatar says:

      “People have been so terrified by the mere concept of nuclear weapons that they can’t think straight about them.”

      I am terrified of the thought that people who have have no empathy and enjoy risk (sociopaths) are currently in control of the nukes. I am not sure if anything will be different without governments.

      What solution am I proposing? To build a personal nuclear bunker for myself, once I save up. Others may or may not be allowed to enter.

      • apotheonNo Gravatar says:

        “I am terrified of the thought that people who have have no empathy and enjoy risk (sociopaths) are currently in control of the nukes. I am not sure if anything will be different without governments.”

        That’s almost a textbook example of how to demolish the core argument for governments given the existence of nuclear weapons, but phrased slightly differently. The more common form of that argument looks something like this:

        “Power attracts sociopaths, which is why government is full of them. Are these really the people you want to give regulatory power over nuclear weapons? Private ownership could hardly be any worse.”

        • JohnNo Gravatar says:

          So, the defense of anarchism is then “it can’t get any worse than statism”?

          • Stephan JerdeNo Gravatar says:

            One of many utilitarian defenses, sure. I’m more persuaded by the moral and ethical defenses, though.

  8. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    And another interesting episode of Colbert Report that seems relevant:

    Nuclear Warfare in the 21st Century
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GugVyxpFUQ

  9. JacobNo Gravatar says:

    It seems to me that states opening nuclear weapons is not dangerous than civilians opening them. There are often wars between countries. Even just recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If Ukraine had nuclear weaponry then they would have been likely to use it on Russia. If that happened, alliances would have been called upon and it would become a nuclear apocalypse. If civilians have nuclear weapons, then invasions would be much less likely “we have no idea if anyone here has a built in their backyard. Let’s not tyet to take this place over.” And civilians are far more likely to think about the consequences. Even if they are only looking out for themselves, they are unlikely to nuke someone when one missile could destroy everything they have.

  10. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    Peaceful use for a nuke:

    USSR Gas Well Blow Out = Nuclear Bomb Puts Out The Fire
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iB9QYaSVEo