Thursday, September 14, 2006

Environmentalists vs Animal Lovers

Recently there has been a big brouhaha made over the death of the host of The Crocodile Hunter show. Now I find that kind of public weeping extremely distasteful at best. I do not find it "sad" when a public figure dies. I have no personal allegiance to Noam Chomsky as a person anymore than I did to Jane Jacobs. Their works are useful to many, including me personally, but their deaths should be left to their families and friends to mourn, not strangers.

I'm also against everything Steve Irwin did in life and everything he represents. Like most people today I'm concerned over the environment but that doesn't extend to being an animal lover. On the contrary, I am very much opposed to the entire "animal rights" movement. I don't anthropomorphize animals or supplant a Disneyfied version for what animals really are. Wild animals are dangerous and unpredictable and it is neither respectful nor responsible to pretend they are otherwise.

With few exceptions (parrots, crows, primates and cetaceans come to mind) animals don't think and they don't learn. A crocodile acts based on instincts, not by weighing options using symbolic reasoning (thinking). It doesn't matter if you've been feeding it for years, it will just as cheerfully eat your baby as the steaks that are its usual fare. At one time, Steve Irwin fed a crocodile with his baby underneath his arm on camera. It was criminally negligent of him to endanger his own child and in a Just society some judge or social worker would have intervened.

Irwin conveyed a dangerous and suicidal attitude to millions as an ideal to be emulated. Regardless of his intentions, the effect of his acts is to endanger many others. This is criminal. And he did this in order to personally profit from it, which is despicable.

But let's get into animal rights. You want to know how much I'm not an animal lover? Well, the condors of California were on their way to extinction anyways, so why not just let them die already? As for the cutesey wuvwey pandas? I vote we kill them to prove a point about whole-habitat conservation and the greater importance of lower life-forms in ecosystems. Environmentalism is about self-preservation, not about warm fuzzy feelings for anime pandas.

Ecology has more to do with the bacteria in people's shit than it does with pandas raised in cages. Irwin wasn't an environmentalist, he was a travesty of environmentalism. People claim he promoted a love of nature but it's more accurate to say he promoted a perversion and exploitation of nature. Irwin took animals out of their habitats and put them on a pedestal for people to gawk at. Nature isn't animals and plants, nature is a system of animals and plants. If you want to see a genuine environmentalist, look to David Attenborough.

It's the same kind of thinking that gets people to feel sad for the cows with their big brown eyes but be scared of the evil bacteria in their guts, the same bacteria that are as important to a human being as the liver or kidneys. This is not a talking point. People's actions are informed by their beliefs, and beliefs that "cute animals are good, ugly animals are evil" do an incredible amount of damage both directly to humanity (as when people take antibiotics without appreciating that it is a kind of chemotherapy) and indirectly by destroying the biosphere.

What Irwin did wasn't founded on any notions of goodness. So how did he get away with it? How could he ever have been mistaken for an environmentalist? Well he got away with it because the environmental movement is split between two factions, the same two factions that divide every sector of our society. Enlightenment progressives and Romantics. The distinction between environmentalists and animal lovers (or animal rights activists) is the distinction between the Enlightenment (rationalists) and the Romantic (intuitionists) movements. David Brin talks about these distinct movements in history.

A lot of people in the green movement are animal lovers and not environmentalists. This is a kind of magical thinking, much like the irrational terror of radiation. The problem with this magical thinking is that it doesn't lead to rational decision-making. Actually, the problem with this particular brand of magical thinking is that there's a whole psycho-dynamic behind it that involves hatred of humans and seeking union with the nature that's being "murdered" by humans. These people worry about bears, wolves, and tigers because they're mammals like us and they have the big eyes that make them anthropomorphizable. So they devote resources to those animals with big eyes. Meanwhile, what we really have to be worried about are the algae, the phytoplankton, frogs and insects. We should be worried about the animals and plants that are dirty, slimy and repulsive, not the ones that are cute and cuddly.

I don't really keep up with conservation issues, but I'll give you an example from the energy sector. In the 70s, the world had the option of going to nuclear. Nuclear power is safe and sensible, and the fear of radiation is completely irrational. Storage of nuclear waste and even reactors blowing up were never issues until the greens made them issues. The greens made nuclear power economically and politically expensive. As a result the world never went nuclear. So what are we left with? Coal. Coal was always far, far more dangerous than nuclear ever was. Acid rain? That was the environmentalists' cause during the 80s. There would have been no acid rain with nuclear power. And you know what else there wouldn't have been? Global warming. Greens caused 50-80% of the global warming problem. The global warming we're seeing today wouldn't have happened until 2030 by which time electric cars would already have solved the problem. That's the power of irrationality.

I will leave you with this final thought in mind. The harmony of nature is that of overwhelming and collective murder.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pragmatists Learn From Everyone

Notice that gerontocracy (rule by the old) is not represented below. That's because nobody actually believes in it as an ideology, as a way that things ''should'' be. Like murder, gerontocrary is an unfortunate circumstance that we suffer from.

Useful concepts from across the political spectrum


  • Authority (of one person over/for another), inequality, and totalitarianism (aka micro-management) are inherently evil.

  • As it happens, they are also inefficient. Any activity, including a workplace, is best structured in an anti-authoritarian manner.


  • Security, Prosperity and Family are separate from freedom and are more important towards happiness than freedom.

  • Freedom can be deferred and submaximal freedom may be best. Freedom can be imperfect so that a free choice to enter into a relationship may not be freely unmade either easily or justly.

  • "Consider pornography: libertarians say it should be permitted because if someone doesn’t like it, he can choose not to view it. But what he can’t do is choose not to live in a culture that has been vulgarized by it." source

  • Economic realism, it makes no sense to tax things you want to promote, like income and employment.

Libertarianism (Georgist):
  • Land is a public good. Land can never be a private good except at the forbearance of society.

  • All public goods ought to be taxed for the benefit of society. Primary resources, including oil and land, should be taxed to the max.

Social democracy:
  • Democracy works to benefit society.

  • Radical egalitarianism in politics requires radical egalitarianism in economics.

  • Cooperation works better than competition.

  • Labour theory of value: excess value can accrue to customers just as well as producers (or under capitalism, to capitalists)

  • Entitlements (Static Freedom).

Totalitarian Communism:
  • From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.

  • Crushing inequality and insecurity can't survive indefinitely. Justice for the masses must prevail. (Contrary to Western opinion, what preceded, and followed, the USSR was worse than it was.)

  • Standardized goods simplify life, leaving more leisure time for the things that matter.

  • The entire human rights hierarchy, which is a technocratic issue actually.

  • The economy suffers from pervasive externalities, transaction and sunk costs.

  • Freedom to innovate is necessary to progress. (So's leisure but anyways ...)

  • Social security is necessary for individual risk-taking, hence to innovation and progress.

  • Procedural freedom (Dynamic Freedom).

  • Technical questions are best left to committees of experts, or groups of people who can be made into experts for the duration of the judgement.

  • Most people are magical thinkers incapable of abstract reasoning. They aren't fit to make technical decisions at all.

  • Hierarchy is efficient and conducive to fast decision-making.

  • Liberal, largely atheist, Jews control many of the more prosperous and advanced sectors of the economy. Including Hollywood in the USA.

  • Most people are not equipped to be citizens. (The fault of fascism but anyways ...).

  • "Clandestinism is not the usage of a handful of rogues, it is a formalized practice of an entire class in which a thousand hands spontaneously join. Conspiracy is the normal continuation of normal politics by normal means." source. And in the Army, normal politics involves multiple murder.

  • Murder and criminality are effective and rewarding.

  • Positive interest currency causes inflation which is a shadow tax on citizens' money.

  • Currency is a public good which can and should be taxed.

  • Negative interest currency is the best possible economic policy. It is a decentralized economic policy.

Developmental economics:
  • Real wealth consists of, but is not limited to, factories, robots, generators, engines, mines, fields, bridges, viaducts, roads, trains, train tracks, trucks and ships. It specifically excludes coloured pieces of paper, integers in a special computer, bars of a shiny yellow metal, tasers, billy clubs, prisons, tanks, aircraft carriers, cruise missiles, nuclear bombs, or other things which cannot be put to any productive purpose.

  • Finance is the enemy of industry

  • Use-value is different from trade-value. Real value is use-value. It isn't a conserved quantity. It isn't tradeable. It obeys no known laws. Yet it rules economics. Ignoring use-value leads to excess, decadence, corruption, economic stagnation and eventually economic collapse.


Originally published at The Adjunct (minor additions)