1997-05-14 - Pedantry, Toastmasters, Anarchy, and Crispin

Header Data

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
To: Tom Allard <cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: d96f7d31de6594d411e2849e6bda7e62ef5b9756f502b8798108b37bac8587c6
Message ID: <v03007803af9fd98e4563@[]>
Reply To: <19970514112959.12839@bywater.songbird.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-14 20:42:54 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 04:42:54 +0800

Raw message

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 04:42:54 +0800
To: Tom Allard <cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Pedantry, Toastmasters, Anarchy, and Crispin
In-Reply-To: <19970514112959.12839@bywater.songbird.com>
Message-ID: <v03007803af9fd98e4563@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 11:07 AM -0800 5/14/97, Tom Allard wrote:

>How pedantic.  Webster's New World Dictionary (also reputable, I might add),
>has THIS to say about "Anarchy":
>  anarchy n. [Gr. an- without + archos, leader] 1. the absence of government
>  2. political disorder and violence 3. disorder; confusion
>Note the etymology.  Taken to its roots, the word simply means "no leader".

Tom is exactly right. Citing dictionary definitions without proper
context--and the context of "anarchy" and "anarcho-capitalism" on this of
_all_ lists is quite important--is just plain pedantry. Dictionaries are
not encyclopedias, and rarely provide nuanced definitions. In this case,
the meaning of "anarchy" is of course overloaded with various connotations.

(I'm reminded, too, of hackneyed Toastmasters-type speeches which seem to
always begin with an obligatory Webster's quote. "Websters defines virtue
as ....")

The meaning of anarchy, and how it differs from chaos and random killings,
has been discussed many times. David Friedman's "The Machinery of Freedom"
is a good book to start with. Bruce Benson's "The Enterprise of Law" also
discusses how lawlessness is not at all a necessary part of "no rulers"
(Hint: international trade generally involves "no ruler," given that
neither the United Nations nor the World Court have much power over such
things, and yet international trade has worked for several centuries, and
arguably for millenia, with good success.)

>It also says:
>  anarchism n. [see anarchy] 1. the theory that all organized government is
>  repressive and undesirable 2. resistance to all government
>Note the COMPLETE lack of "chaos" or "disorder" in this definition.  Being
>an anarchist, therefore, does NOT imply that one supports chaos and

And it's important to note that _many_, even _most_, aspects of Western
society are essentially anarchic. The books we read, the restaurants we
patronize, the clothes we wear...while the range of choices is constrained
by what the market offers, and by social norms, etc., there are no "rulers"
(or "tops," or "arches," hence, 'an archy," as Tom notes the etymology

To see why this is important, let us imagine somelike Diane Feinstein
calling for laws about what books may be read, "to put an end to the chaos,
lawlessness, and disorder in the bookreading community." (Actually, this is
exactly the sort of law Feinstein, Goodlatte, and all the rest are almost
constantly proposing...the only thing that stops some of these proposals
from progressing is the black letter law of "Congress shall make no
law...," and even then these bozos try to find workarounds and exceptions.
This is one reason I have absolutely no faith that legislation can secure
basic rights.)

As for Kent Crispin's remark that he chooses not to use the "esoteric"
definition of anarchy that the anarchist community, and economists
(actually), and others use, and prefers his "Toastmaster's Club" hoary
recitation of a simple dictionary definition, well, this is why I'm
becoming convinced that "Kent Crispin" is just a new identity David
Sternlight has adopted.

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
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