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Reality Patchwork and Neo-Feudal Techno-Communism (Podcast)

Audio of my talk given at the first Diffractions/Sdbs workshop on Patchwork. My thesis is that rigorous (voluntary) enforcement of honesty using blockchain + IoT (Internet of Things) presents an opportunity for leftists to solve the game-theoretic problems of communism in a potentially scalable way. I got flak for this being "fascist," which led me to write a short extension and clarification entitled, Fascism Over Yourself Is Called Autonomy

You can read the transcript of this podcast here.

Diffractions Collective: https://www.diffractionscollective.org

SDBS: https://sdbs.cz

If you'd like to discuss this podcast with me and others, suggest future guests, or read/watch/listen to more content on these themes, request an invitation here.

Big thanks to all the patrons who help me keep the lights on

This conversation was first recorded on September 22, 2018 as a livestream on Youtube. To receive notifications when future livestreams begin, subscribe to my channel with one click, then click the little bell.

Click here to download this episode.

Cypherpunk Neoliberalism with Sonya Ellen Mann

Sonya Ellen Mann runs communications for the Zcash Foundation. Sonya's a thinker and writer interested in economics, tribalism, and cypherpunk. We talk about the Pink Pill, cypherpunk, crypto, and anarcho-capitalism among other things. This was a fun, high-energy romp through a lot of topics...

Sonya's website is sonyaellenmann.com and you can find her on Twitter @sonyaellenmann.

If you'd like to discuss this podcast with me and others, suggest future guests, or read/watch/listen to more content on these themes, request an invitation: http://bit.ly/2FAi4g0

This conversation was first recorded on August 3, 2018 as a livestream on Youtube. To participate in future livestreams, subscribe to my channel with one click. Then click the little bell to receive notifications when future livestreams begin.

Big thanks to all the patrons who help keep this running.

Download this episode.

Urbit and Exit with Urbit Engineer Ted Blackman

Ted Blackman is a senior engineer at Urbit, the mysterious tech startup founded by Curtis Yarvin, aka Mencius Moldbug. Ted kindly answered all my questions, and he dealt very graciously with my efforts to politicize everything. Ted is outside so be warned, there is some background noise. If you would really value better audio engineering please tell me as I decide how to allocate effort across the Other Life ecosystem...

This conversation was first recorded as a livestream on Youtube. Big thanks to all the financial contributors who help to keep this running. You can also download this episode.

Ethereum Smart Contracts and Political Engineering with Dave Hoover

Dave Hoover (@davehoover) is a software engineer and expert developer of Ethereum smart contracts. He wrote the book Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman and runs a distributed software development firm called Red Squirrel. He is currently writing a book on smart-contract development, called Hands-on Smart Contract Development with Solidity and Ethereum.

In this podcast, Dave gave me a better understanding of the potential — and the limits — of Ethereum smart contracts. I told Dave about my own ideas (see Reality Patchwork and Neo-Feudal Techno-Communism and Aristocracy and Communism) to see how my intuitions bounced off a technical expert. There's also some good stuff in here for anyone curious about learning to develop their own smart contracts.

Big thanks to all the patrons who help keep this podcast going.

Download this episode.

Crypto-Current Religious Becoming with Jacob Lyles

Jacob Lyles works in the Silicon Valley crypto space. He was raised a Jehovah's Witness, went secular, then went Christian. We talk about  Silicon Valley, the problems with secularism, and why the pull of religion is more rational than people think.

Jacob is on Twitter: @cryptochamomile. Jacob hosts the podcast Unchartered Life and the Youtube show Conversations with Chamomile.

This podcast was originally recorded as a livestream. If you'd like to catch future livestreams, subscribe here and then click the bell to receive a notification every time I go live.

This podcast is supported by its listeners. Big thanks to all the patrons of the show.

Download this episode.

Fascism over yourself is called autonomy

When I recently sketched out a system for bootstrapping a libertarian communist society from a combination of AI and blockchain, I was genuinely surprised to receive so many indignant accusations to the effect that I'm an authoritarian. I was called a Duginist, a neoliberal, and even a fascist, etc.

Of course, in retrospect, I can understand the optics. Anything that involves the use of technology to monitor behavior is, in some sense, quite invasive — so a proposal to do this intensely, with a distribution of resources conditional on it, sounds pretty authoritarian.

The reason I was surprised by these accusations and the reason why I'm still unconvinced by them, is that my proposal involves a purely voluntary protocol. The parameters are decided by the individuals involved. All individuals are free to exit at any time. How fascist could a proposal be if it has all these criteria? Perhaps the most charitable I can be to these accusations is to say that, if my proposal is somewhat fascist, then I would say that these crucial, libertarian design features effectively remove the undesirable aspects of fascism. The main reason why fascism is now synonymous with horrific evil is that, historically, it's highly correlated with a drive to impose a program on a large number of people, often at the nation-state level, and often violently.

Given that my proposal is decidedly not imposing anything on anyone against their will, and given that it features benign failure modes, the accusations of fascism suggest to me only that my proposal sounds overly harsh, rigid, or controlling, to a degree that people find undesirable or offensive. If someone just dislikes my idea, then of course that's fine, they'll never be forced or even pressured to join (although I do fear that life outside of novelly engineered communitarian lifeboats will soon be the most horrifying place to be...).

When it comes to one's own will over oneself, I would submit that harshness and rigidity are necessary for the kind of human constitution that is capable of saying no to fascism. It seems possible to me that fascism at aggregate levels (ethnic groups, nation-states, etc.) is a pathological reaction to modern humans becoming insufficiently constituted at the individual level. Fascism rails against the modern weakness of will, and seeks to solve the problem at a higher level of social organization. I rail against the modern weakness of will, but I want to engineer solutions at the level of individuals' component parts. The components of an individual constitution are the other people in one's primary group and one's own drives or sub-personalities. When individuals exercise sufficient authority over themselves, they will be less likely to submit to intoxicating herd behaviors, and there will be less demand for violent over-compensations at higher levels of organization. 

If you dislike the idea of enforcing your own will on yourself, the algebra can be rearranged to say that you like the wide margin of ethical slothfulness you are afforded under contemporary postmodern relativism and social anomie. Today, nobody really minds if you say one thing and do another; you are permitted and even encouraged to have goals or ideals that you do not work your hardest to embody. It is hard and difficult work to become who you are, and liberalism is the political philosophy that nobody should be forced to do it.

It is certainly desirable that centralized political institutions do not enforce overly strict discipline according to overly regimented criteria — such as patriotism or ethnicity or religion — for purposes of statecraft. But that does not mean we should not seek to enforce strict discipline on ourselves, by ourselves, according to whatever we believe to be the truest ethical principles. There is no other method of soulcraft; there is no method for constituting a true life other than the ethical work of self-discipline (askēsis). Just because the infamous slogan upon the gates of Auschwitz said that "work sets you free" does not mean that certain forms of work cannot, in fact, set you free. If I say that I am a Catholic, it is in part because I believe that the truth is what sets one free, and the truth is produced through the work of frank speech (parrhesia), a form of askēsis. If I say that I am a communist, it is because I believe that everyone is intrinsically and equally valuable, and anything that inhibits anyone from becoming who they are must be destroyed in the same way and for the same reason that a philosopher or scientist seeks to destroy all errors and all mistakes.

Perhaps under contemporary liberalism we have become so "antifascist" that we would gladly choose to die if only enough people brought to our attention that fascists once sought to live. If the Nazis ever stated that work will set you free, then the refined cosmopolitan of 2018 will never work to be set free. That'll show 'em.

If I am a fascist over my own soul, so be it: fascism over oneself is called autonomy.

[The second installment of the Diffractions/Sdbs workshop on patchwork just took place yesterday. You can watch it here.]

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