Sunday, 24 May 2020

Authenticity

By Trevor Watkins 24/5/2020
Some of what I have to say here is derived from a Wikipedia article entitled “Authenticity”.


What is real? In a world flooded with fake information peddled by phony people, how do you as a thinking individual arrive at any conclusion? How do you establish what information advances your life and what retards it? Is the truth knowable?

Are truth and authenticity the same? I think many people authentically promote the version of the truth they happen to believe. You cannot accuse them of bad faith, just ignorance of your version of the truth.

I have come to the conclusion that one can only strive to be authentic. This is not an original idea. Many great people throughout history from Marcus Aurelius to Kierkegaard have come to much the same conclusion. The best advice that the Oracle of Delphi could offer was “know thyself”. I would add that you must not only know yourself, but you must be yourself, You must act authentically.

To be authentic you must constantly examine your actions and your motivations for these actions. Did you quote Kierkegaard because he was relevant, or because it makes you seem intellectual? Did you choose a controversial title because it advances the authenticity of what you say, or because it might get you more clicks. The greatest test of authenticity, in the written word, is the answer to the question, “How much are you being paid, and in what currency, to say this?”

An authentic person has a responsibility to develop and shape their beliefs to the best of their ability using the resources at hand. These resources are not always reason and logic. A bushman who comes to the conclusion that existence is the dream of a praying mantis, based on his experience of the world, is more authentic than a zealot who bases his beliefs on the writings of an unknown third party in a book of uncertain origin. Even a scientist who pretends to know the unknowable is not authentic.

To fulfill the potential of one's humanity and existence, one must take an active part in the shaping of one's beliefs, and then be willing to act on those beliefs. Too many people simply accept the norms of the society in which they live, swallow whole the beliefs of others, even when contrary to their own good sense.

Actively shaping one's own belief and then acting upon that belief is a laborious task. But, as Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Most humans possess an ill-defined sense called a conscience. This seems to be a good place to start in developing an internal set of beliefs. Most individuals seem to have an innate sense of right and wrong, of good and bad, almost independent of the surrounding world and its norms. If you lack this sense you may end up an authentic Nazi, which would be a pity.

Not all beliefs are valid or equal. I favour beliefs that are rational, consistent, and explainable, otherwise any form of conversation is difficult. If you believe that life is paramount, then you cannot also believe in taking life. If you believe that you own the fruits of your labour, then you cannot also be comfortable with theft. If you believe in reason you cannot also believe in magic.

Here are the attributes which form the basis of my set of beliefs. Life is better than death, You own the fruits of your labour. Honesty is important. . The individual takes precedence over the community. Freedom is a virtue. Consent is a necessity. Choice is fundamental. Violence should be discouraged.. Comfort is better than pain. Kindness is better than cruelty. Courage is better than cowardice If I am to be authentic, then what I say and write and do must be consistent with these attributes.

Other people may base their beliefs on a different set of attributes. The community is more important than the individual. Safety and security are more important than individual rights. There is a divine being who controls my life. Faith is more important than reason. The end justifies the means. Many people authentically hold these beliefs.

The problem arises when you hold beliefs that are mutually contradictory, a condition known as cognitive dissonance. If you believe that the interests of the collective outweighs the interests of the individual, then you cannot prioritise the health or safety of your child or your family over the health of the rest of the community. If there is inequality within your community, if some people are poorer than others, then as a true communitarian you must sacrifice your individual resources to the greater good of the community. If you believe that faith is more important than reason, then you should always rely on prayer rather than a science-and-reason based medical expert. If your beliefs and actions are mutually contradictory you are no longer authentic.

Why is authenticity important? It is the basis of communication between humans. If I cannot trust what you say, what is the point in listening to you? If you do not trust what I say, why am I even speaking? A reputation for authenticity, for honesty, is established over time and must be carefully nurtured. It is destroyed by just one failure. Whole classes of people in society lack authenticity, such as politicians, lawyers, used car salesmen, many biased news sources. Some organisations have a hard-earned reputation for authenticity such as The Times of London, or Nature journal. No one is always right, but some try harder than most. Walter Cronkite, a United States news anchor, had an admirable reputation for honesty. Maggie Thatcher had a reputation for being brutally honest. (Surprisingly, it is very hard to find a list of authentic people on Google, although there are lists of rich people, stupid people, etc.)

Nature is authentic. Animals are authentic. The universe is authentic, although mysterious. Maths is authentic. Death is authentic. Children are usually authentic.

Religions are rarely authentic. Politicians are rarely authentic. Salesmen are rarely authentic. News organisations are rarely authentic. Advocacy groups are rarely authentic. Governments are rarely authentic. Do-gooders are rarely authentic.

Am I authentic? Is this article authentic? The best judge of authenticity is history.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Explaining Covid-19 to a 5 year old

by Trevor Watkins 26/4/2020

Dad, can I go and play with Johnny?
No son, the government won't allow you to because you might get sick.
But Dad, I get sick all the time and so does Johnny. We both had the flu last winter. It didn’t stop us from playing with each other.
It is different this time, son. There is this thing called covid-19 which is a virus like the flu. Millions of people might get sick and die if everyone doesn't stay inside and alone.
Wow! Do we know anyone who has died?
No. It is mostly old people who get sick and die.
So, if young people don't get sick, can I go play with Johnny?
No! I told you the government doesn't allow anybody to go and play with anybody else.
Ok, so how long are they gonna stop us from playing?
Until nobody is dying anymore from Covid 19. Nobody knows how long that will take. It's better to be safe than sorry.
How many people are dying right now of covid-19? Is it thousands and thousands?
Actually, no. In South Africa it's a bit less than 100.
I have seen that lots of people die in car accidents. Must we also stay inside until no one dies of car accidents?
No. That's different.
And James says lots of people die from crime in South Africa. Must we stay inside until there is no more crime?
No, that's different.
If I can't play with Johnny can I take Muffin for a walk in the park?
That's not allowed either.
Is the government worried about Muffin getting sick too?
No they don't care if Muffin gets sick, But you still can't take him for a walk
That's just stupid. Ok, so why are you home all the time now?
I'm not allowed to go to work because of covid-19. Actually I don't think I have a job anymore.
How are you going to pay for food and toys and stuff if you don't have a job?
I don't know.
So, can we go to the shops and buy something?
Yes, I can go to the shops, but you must stay in the car.
So it's OK for you to go shopping with hundreds of people, but I can't go play with Johnny?
Yes, I don't understand it either.
So what if we just don't listen to them and I go play with Johnny?
Then the police will come and they will beat you and possibly put you in prison.
Aren’t the police supposed to protect you and me?
This is different
Is it like this all over the world?
Mostly, but some countries have taken a different path. If you lived in Sweden you could go play with Johnny.
And have they all died?
No, actually. They seem to be doing about the same as everyone else.
So we go to all this fuss and it seems to make no difference?
Yep
And you think I'm the child here.







Sunday, 5 April 2020

3.2 million years

Cyril Ramaphosa and his fellow travellers in the ANC have stolen 3.2 million years from the lives of ordinary South Africans that they will never get back. 21 days for 57 million people equals 3,279,452 years. Plus who knows how many billions of rand their ill-thought out plans will cost.

Perhaps a few middle-class lives will be saved from covid19. Just as a few middle-class lives will be saved from the flu, from the motor accidents, from the criminal violence that might otherwise have occurred. But this lockdown will not have worked for the vast majority of the poor living cheek-by-jowl in our townships. It will not have worked for the millions who congregated in supermarkets and pharmacies and taxis. But magically all this will be forgotten when the number of fatalities withers away, as they surely must.

Ever wondered how they persuaded all those Jews to walk into the ovens? Fear of violence, desire to live, ignorance, uncertainty, doubt. Unthinking obedience to their rulers in government. Sound familiar?

Today, 5th of April 2020, is a fascinating moment in the history of both South Africa and the world. It is a nexus. It may be a turning point for our western civilization. Let's consider where we find ourselves.

We are halfway through the South African lock down. So far there have been nine deaths and somewhat less than 2000 recorded infections. The rate of infection has been going down for the last 4 days. It looks as though the Covid19 infection rate has peaked. The 10,000 tests backlog may be hiding some real and horrific information. Possibly the number of infections will zoom up in the next two weeks. But the only really important measure will be the number of deaths directly related to the Covid19 illness. This will become clear in the course of the next two weeks.

If the number of deaths exceed the annual flu total, then we have some real cause for concern. If they don't, how will government respond? Will they say “Oops, sorry, my bad”, and attempt to carry on as if nothing had happened? Or will they bluster and fume and invoke evermore outrageous powers to cover their confusion, and save their skins. How will we as a society respond to this atrocious attack on our liberties? Probably with a meek “Oh well, at least they tried”.

If the Swedish and South Korean experiments succeed, will major western governments fall? If these experiments fail, will the West stay in lockdown for months? Will we have an economy to come back to?

I look forward to the next 2 weeks with a sort of grim delight.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Jurisdiction

Trevor Watkins 1/2/2020

Mindful chatter

I am saturated with intelligent and sincere hand-wringing articles on:
  • how bad government is
  • how stupid the ANC and all their voters are
  • how this or that thoughtful free market solution will fix everything
  • these are all words filled with sound reasoning and furious argument, signifying nothing to the powers that be.
We are just so many crickets chirping in the undergrowth as the lions amble by.

Actual power

If you want actual power, join the ANC and work your way up through the branch structures. (You may have to kill some people, but don't worry your cause is just.) After you have defrauded the state of billions you can afford to pay various factions to support your crazy ideas.

These days even making billions doesn't seem to give you any real power, if you are white.

Solution

Why on earth should we respect the jurisdiction of a state that has no respect for its own founding principles? The constitution is no longer a hallowed document, it is a hollow document, perverted at the whim of the occupying powers.

The solution is to treat the ANC state as though it wasn't there. Most of the time they won't even notice. If you have something to sell, just sell it. Just like everyone else in the townships. If you want to buy something, be careful who you trust and how you spend your money, just like you should always do. If someone cheats you, do you really think the police will help in any meaningful timeframe?

On those rare occasions when the organs of the state do actually react and take you to court, you can go with the Stalingrad defence. This starts by refusing to recognise the court's jurisdiction. When the judge asks you what jurisdiction you do recognise, there comes the rub.

While you know that you hate the current dispensation and the current jurisdiction, the vast majority of us have no idea of any useful alternatives. It would be nice if you could claim to be the 53rd state of the United States of America, but the Americans are probably not keen. Tiny disaffected groups in Africa are two-a-penny and hardly worth the trouble of investigating.

Establish a jurisdiction

So you must establish your own jurisdiction. There are good precedents for this in the many independence movements both here in South Africa and around the world. But very few of them offer a well-defined and articulated jurisprudential system that you could offer as your alternative jurisdiction.

For about 10 centuries commercial interests in Europe have used the law merchant as their jurisdiction in Commercial disputes. this has now evolved to become the TransLex Principles collected and formulated by Klaus Peter Berger (University of Cologne) and his Center for Transnational Law.

This would be a fine solution for commercial disputes, but what about disputes with the state within which you reside, of a political or criminal nature. The most obvious one is a refusal to pay tax to the state. Most existing governments get very excited by this refusal and are quick to take offenders to court.

Generally, existing nation states require that claimants to alternative jurisdictions have their own nation state consisting of physical land bounded by accepted borders and confirmed by other nation states and organisations such as the United Nations. Are you, as a citizen of the world, obliged to abide by these rather stringent requirements?

What about claiming your own private property (within some nation-state) as your jurisdiction, no matter how small?

What about claiming a virtual jurisdiction in some cyberstate such as Bitnation?

Estonia offers e-Residency, a program which allows non-Estonians access to Estonian services such as company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxation. The program gives the e-resident a smart card which they can use to sign documents.

What about claiming to be a citizen of a tiny jurisdiction like Liberland and applying their laws? 

What about becoming a citizen of a country like Mauritius or Lichtenstein and claiming their jurisdiction as your own.

All of these possibilities are worthless if you do not have the power and authority to enforce them against your own overbearing nation state. It is highly unlikely that Liechtenstein will send troops or even lawyers to help fight your case in South Africa.

When enforcing your claim to be bound by an alternative jurisdiction you are pretty much on your own.

What is needed is an independent and private jurisdiction enforcement agency consisting of soldiers of fortune of the worst sort who would strike fear into any opposing legal process, while always acting within the bounds and statutes of the jurisdiction that you claim. So, for example, any attempt to violently detain or incarcerate you would trigger an equally violent response to the detriment of the enforcers in the opposing state. Rather like the American response when American citizens are taken into custody by some two-bit third world fleabag country. Generally just the mere threat of response is sufficient to concentrate the minds of tin-pot dictators in distant lands.

Of course an effective response does not always have to be violent. If one has the means one can normally resolve virtually any legal difficulty with a payment to the right set of individuals. In many cases a little research into the backgrounds of these corrupt figures plus a threat to make the details public will result in an acquittal for any particular individual.

Define a constitution

In order not to appear like a lawless mob, your preferred jurisdiction should have a well-defined and widely accepted constitution. For most libertarians this is a short and succinct statement of principle. The Individualist Manifesto is a good example. What better way to popularise the principles of individual freedom than to insist that they be applied to you when arraigned in a court whose jurisdiction you do not recognise.

The best strategy when dealing with a bully is to walk away. The worst strategy is to accept the bully’s terms, to appease and cower. In the words of Ayn Rand, the “sanction of the victim” is the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the “sin” of creating values.  

Demand that the state recognises YOUR jurisdiction!

Authenticity

By Trevor Watkins 24/5/2020 Some of what I have to say here is derived from a Wikipedia article entitled “ Authenticity ”. What is real? I...