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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Taxonomy of Radicalness

Brad, we don't need an aggression-ometer calibrated to multiple decimal places to know that we can very often compare two candidates or two pieces of legislation and reach a judgment about which would violate individual rights less.  For example, 8 of 12 of California's recent propositions were slam dunks.  It's a very tractable problem to make comparisons like at  It's pretty clear that Switzerland and Ireland are much more free than North Korea and Zimbabwe.  See also

Michael, as a pollution sink, the atmosphere is a non-excludable good.  As a source for bottles of air, the atmosphere is similarly non-excludable.  That the air in your lungs or in your air tank is excludable does not make the atmosphere excludable.  Other effectively non-excludable goods are bodies and streams of water, aquifers, sunlight, wind, fish, game, seabottom minerals, orbits, and electromagnetic spectrum.  I've never seen a lens that can make the tragedy of the commons simply vanish.  If you've got one, then there is a Nobel Prize in Economics waiting for you. :-)

I agree you can't build a peaceful society using force.  However, I think you can take a somewhat peaceful society and make it more peaceful if you systematically punish fraud and force initiation, and systematically fine people for the aggression they commit when they monopolize, consume, pollute, or congest a natural commons.

Eric, I'm not invoking any zero sums, I'm just assuming that we can make certain judgments about aggression.  For example, I think we can judge that certain kinds of products (e.g. gasoline) involve a non-zero amount of aggression in their use, and that the contestable default fine on their use should not be zero.  I take anarchocapitalism as institutionalizing that default fine at zero.  Yes, "externality" here is a technical economic term, but I do see that sense included in some general-purpose dictionaries.  I discuss this whole area more at

For more on my point about ground rent, see

'Radicalness' in our context can be measured several ways.  In the following list, the more common senses of radicalness are included first, while I think the latter measures are more interesting.
  • the amount of one's hatred for the state
  • the amount of aggression one is willing to risk being committed in one's name
  • the amount of state power in one's Libertopia
  • the simplicity of the axioms of one's political/ethical worldview, and how directly the worldview derives from it
  • the amount of aggression one is willing to risk being committed in one's Libertopia
  • the breadth of one's opposition to various forms of aggression e.g. monopolizing, consuming, polluting, or congesting the commons