Some places I won’t go

A few minutes ago I received a request by email from a conference organizer who wants me to speak at an event in a foreign country. Unfortunately, the particular country has become a place I won’t go.

Having decided that I want my policy and my reasoning to be publicly known, I reproduce here the request and my reply. I withhold the requester’s name for his protection.

Hi, Mr Raymond. I am Free Software promoter and I always try to create new events of this topic.

Few days ago I readed “How to become a hacker”: Congratulations… I like it very much. Your excellent file and your interview in Revolution OS make me decide to write a mail for you to know your opinion about a visit (of you) to Venezuela.

Would you like to visit us the next year? Every year, in april, the community of my city organize a event, but there are many time to create a plan to guarantee your visit to Venezuela. If you could come only in another month, there will be not problem. I am sure that my partners would be happy to work to mak posible your visit.

If there is any possibility to invite you to our country, it would be fantastic… I guess that your visit would be a great support to the movement. I will be waiting your answer. Thanks for to read this mail.

Best regards.

Thanks for the invitation. I have good memories of Venezuela; I lived there as a child for four years. When I revisited in 1998 I was told that my fragmentary Spanish still carries a Venezuelan accent. In better circumstances I would be happy to travel there again.

Unfortunately I must decline. I will not go where a communist or socialist regime holds power. I have refused several invitations to mainland China for the same reason. You can ask me again when Maduro is deposed, the Chavistas are broken, and the Cuban Communist “advisors” running the apparatus of repression have been deported or (better) shot like rabid dogs.

Until then, I don’t think I’d be safe in Venezuela. And even if I did not have that concern, I refuse to give a socialist/communist government even the tiny, tacit bit of support my visit would confer.

Good luck taking back your country.

132 thoughts on “Some places I won’t go

  1. Its horrible to think that the great people of Venezuela opened the door to their own hell when they elected Chavez. It is a perfect example of why I believe that well-respected constitutional bounds on the power of government are more important than how “Democratic” the government is. Not that it is a perfect protection, but at least it is -some-.

    Not that outright Socialists or Communists, once elected, tend to be that keen on allowing for much further democracy.

    The question of government has always vexed me – if government a necessary evil, and therefore simply evil when it goes beyond its necessary functions, what are those necessary functions? How might it be practically minimized and kept from grasping and growing into a beast?

    • > what are those necessary functions?

      Congratulations! You’ve discovered the field of political philosophy. I suggest starting with John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government on which much of the US Government was based, and then go from there. There’s a lot in this field. Read much. Then shake your head at how issues which have been well-discussed and debated come up shallowly in online commentary.

      • What in Locke’s Second Treatise do you think applies here? Skimming the WP entry, I see it talks a lot about the law of nature, and the natural right of people to enforce that law, issue punishments for its violation, etc.

        It goes on to discuss the ways people may misapply natural law, in a way that I read as suggesting the proper role of society – to correct individual misapplications and put off the state of war that would arise.

        But overall, the ST doesn’t seem to speak to what laws ought to exist despite popular resistance. To what extent are the people Odysseus, and the law his men lashing him to his own mast, preventing his defection to the sirens?

        The closest I see people come to addressing this are, for example, discussions of property law, and their role in protecting one individual’s property against the will of the rest of society, no matter how badly they want it for that interstate or school or hospital or what have you. But law doesn’t put an impenetrable barrier over that person’s property; it still has to be enforced by threat of action, from soldiers, police, a militia, or any other organization external to that person (if it’s just that person, then the law is clearly playing no role). If popular whim wants that property badly enough, why would law hold it back?

        I recognize that people can have a reverence for following the law that is different from the reverence they might have for their fellow’s property, but is that difference enough to stay their hands?

      • Its been a while since I read my Locke, might be a good time to brush up! Part of what I am asking, however, I feel is beyond his scope. Let’s stipulate for a moment that “protecting private property rights” would be on any reasonable short list of actual legitimate government functions. How do we, as a practical matter, set up a government powerful enough to do that, yet constrained enough to not try to, for example, ban selling sodas in large cups or try to outlaw the use of plastic straws or try to grab guns from law abiding citizens?

        So far, the most effective thing I know of is that there is a Constitution that is at least -somewhat- respected and enforced, that prevents the government from doing absolutely anything it wants. It *has* to be respected and weighted with importance and tradition, or else an FDR might ask what army the Supreme Court has to enforce its decisions.

        But it is increasingly seeming that this, too, only delays the inevitable creep of governmental power. The Framers of the US thought that separation/balance of powers would help, and I think it has, but it seems to have not been enough.

        Fundamentally, I fear that the nature of humanity is that there will always be large numbers who care less about liberty, and are concerned more that they be taken care of and feel secure, and have a government that -does their bidding-. These will often be the majority of an electorate. How then to produce a government that will keep a civil society free, even if the members are just clamoring for benefits?

        • You can’t.

          Government, law, history, economics, etc, are all abstractions we use to map the behavior of a system whose dynamics are not humanly comprehensible at the finest level of detail.

          A population that happens to be significantly individuals who will keep a government constrained can keep a government constrained.

          A population that is significantly individuals who will not keep a government constrained will see governments accumulate power, and perhaps go mad and kills lots of people.

          But you can not purposefully cause a population to have specific qualities.

          The biggest thing that might be entirely under your control is your own behavior. You can influence others with your behavior, but you do not have control over how it shapes them.

          The history of the US looks a lot like freak chance. How did we get that effect from mixing cultures? (It looks like part of it is loss of oral history with the individual migrations, but whatever happened, it is weird.)

          • >A population that happens to be significantly individuals who will keep a government constrained can keep a government constrained.

            Not anything resembling the size and scope of the population as a whole, and not merely constrain, but in the broader view, to affect the goverment, or even crumble and create.

            To state a perennially relevant example, the German Nazi party started as a small flock of discontents with the leadership dabbling in a melange of esoteric nonsense. They were barely a fraction of a percentage of the population of a whole, and yet that gang seized power with little other in mind than their “leader”‘s demagougery, something perhaps not worthy of being termed “will”; rahter some animalistic instinct.

            • To state a perennially relevant example, the German Nazi party started as a small flock of discontents with the leadership dabbling in a melange of esoteric nonsense.

              Most of the rest of the population also preferred an unconstrained government, they just potentially differed on the details. Remember, Germany had only been a republic for just over a decade at that point.

        • “Fundamentally, I fear that the nature of humanity is that there will always be large numbers who care less about liberty, and are concerned more that they be taken care of and feel secure, and have a government that -does their bidding-.”

          Well, It is an economic problem that even a well intentioned citizen is constantly presented with good information on how to pursue his/her narrow interests, and rather less commonly presented with good information of how his dealings with the state impact society at large. Knowledge doesn’t come neatly framed in “acceptable self-interest” and “rent-seeking” packages, and an individual’s sphere of self-interest is naturally inhabited, consciously or otherwise, with lots of selfish pursuits.
          Public choice theory studies this.

          • Most people barely understand the concept of the state, other than the interactions they have from month to month with the various public institutions; social support, schools, council/borough activity and elections etc.

            The view from below is/seems far more relevant in the everyday than the view from above.

      • Or you can just wait for free countries to defeat your socialist government, like the Germans did in middle of the 20th century.

      • The Warsaw Pact and USSR fell without popular armed rebellion.

        So unless you’d like to invoke the conflicts in Afghanistan and Chechnya, I’m afraid that one doesn’t hold water.

    • The standard Libertarian answer is that government’s legitimate job is to safeguard the liberty of the people, by organizing defense against foreign invaders, investigating crime and punishing criminals, and enforcing contracts in a court system of last resort.

      The legitimate powers of government can only be delegated by the people, and we can’t delegate any prerogatives which we don’t have as individuals, so any such overreach is usurpation. This rules out such things as transferring wealth from producers to non-producers, for example.

  2. A year ago Eben Moglen announced on the linux kernel mailing list that he would issue a paper refuting the positions of the “revokists”, of which, Sir Raymond, you were counted amongst. I have not followed the issue, however I am interested in reading Eben Moglen’s published response on the issue, could you link it for me?

    Is that Free Software advocate trying to get you killed? Tell him you, as an OpenSource advocate have what the FSF’ers lack: common sense. I’m sure the Venezuelans, lacking food to eat, will surely be welcoming of people who bring the ever nourishing program code to them.

  3. Chileans elected a communist president, and quickly came to bitterly regret it. Within a few years the legislature and judiciary begged the military to save them from a looming dictatorship. So long as the Soviet threat continued, the public supported Pinochet, as they expressed in a referendum. Once that threat was gone, at the next referendum they said they didn’t need him any more, and he obeyed them.

    • “Chileans elected a communist president, and quickly came to bitterly regret it.”

      That’s a very fast and hard way of describing the political constellation considering how a parlimentary democracy works.

  4. What do you make of the argument that places like Venezuela are most in need of visitors willing to promote freedom?

    • >What do you make of the argument that places like Venezuela are most in need of visitors willing to promote freedom?

      I don’t think it’s completely without substance. But since getting arrested by Chavista thugs is not on my list of Things I Can Most Efficiently Do To Advance Freedom, I think I’ll decline the opportunity. I do my civilization more good where I am.

    • Say you’re playing Starcraft and you want to “liberate” the opposite corner of the map from the Zerg on behalf of the Terrans. What do you do? Do you send your units in one by one? Of course not — a single unit would get massacred shortly after the Overlords caught sight of it. You would have to assemble a significant number of units together in a strike force, perhaps by pushing forward using marines and tanks with cloaked Wraiths to provide air support and a Science Vessel to spot burrowers; you could even use this force to draw out their defenses while sneaking a Ghost around the back to nuke their hive.

      The point is, promoting freedom in Venezuela would require an army and a coordinated game plan in order to succeed. Otherwise it’s just suicide. And even if we did have an army, a plan, and the absolute noblest of intentions, I’m not sure it’d turn out the best for the Venezuelans in the end. American nation-building operations, for instance, have a history of… not going so well.

      • Depends on the ideas you’re spreading and how you’re spreading them. Religious groups send missionaries to hostile places all the time.

      • American nation-building operations, for instance, have a history of… not going so well.

        I wonder if some of that isn’t due to the US not trying to build new USes. For instance, I’m unaware of an American nation-building operation that bestowed a constitution similar to the American one to the newly built nation. Rather, those constitutions are usually quite different in content and spirit, no to mention in regards to the mechanisms they set to sustain their authority, when compared to the American one…

        • >I’m unaware of an American nation-building operation that bestowed a constitution similar to the American one to the newly built nation.

          Japan. Our biggest nation-building success.

          But, as I pointed out to Jeff Read, it was preceded by firebombing every Japanese city except Kyoto flat and literally nuking two of them. To civilize barbarians you have to break their will first, something the U.S. has been unwilling to do more recently.

          • Consider also the indian tribes. Very much not the same culture and behavior of two or three hundred years ago. Of course, American culture is also not the same.

            We would have killed the indians if destroying their culture had not sufficed to teach them to coexist with us. Many of the indian tribes knew that at the time.

            (If we were as Zinn claims, we would not have bothered with attempts to keep indians alive. I’m more than a little pissy on this subject between someone on another blog talking the indian issue, and that guy here who was whining about ‘reaping the whirlwind’, after his beloved leadership had sown the wind. My position is that if someone is alive to complain, we might be due a thank you for sparing their ancestors, and I really wonder if we were perhaps a touch too soft.)

            Being charitable towards us modern Americans, our foreign adversaries have not quite as starkly disappointed our expectations for behavior as did the indians, third reich Germans, and imperial Japanese.

          • There is also the parts where 1) MacArthur openly disobeyed orders 2) for some reason, his legacy still shelters the Pacific somewhat from the State.gov Empire, Japan or South Korea can get away with things the State.gov Empire e.g. Europe cannot get away with, like not being particularly keen on immigration.

            Moldbug’s explanation was that there are the State.gov Empire, Europe or Palestine, and then there are the Pentagon Empire, Japan, SK or Israel and this second empire is better.

            This may be an oversimplification, but there has to be something to it – MacArthur was somehow really able to keep the Communist-fellow-traveller types of Washington out of Japan and this is why it turned out great.

            Though I am not at all sure if the Pentagon Empire exists anymore. One only sees the agents of the State.gov Empire everywhere: Saakashvili is the most transparent, blatantly obvious example, or various Sorosoids. Excellent research: https://www.globalresearch.ca/democratisation-colour-revolutions-and-the-role-of-the-ngos-catalysts-or-saboteurs/1638

      • >American nation-building operations, for instance, have a history of… not going so well.

        Japan was a spectacular success. It was run essentially as a proconsulate from 1945 to 1952.

        Of course, it was preceded by firebombing every Japanese city except Kyoto flat and literally nuking two of them. To civilize barbarians you have to break their will first, something the U.S. has been unwilling to do more recently.

        • The comprehensive denial of having done anything wrong (say, Unit 731) before the unprovoked and barbaric nuclear attacks suggests that it didn’t particularly take.

          • >The comprehensive denial of having done anything wrong (say, Unit 731) before the unprovoked and barbaric nuclear attacks suggests that it didn’t particularly take.

            First world nation. No threat to anybody. I’ll take that and call it success.

            • I don’t know that they’re “no threat to anybody”. Today, yes. But generations pass quickly.

    • Given that the people there voted in this mess and it was pretty obvious decades ago where it was going to go, what makes you think that freedom is something which can be effectively promoted there? The people had a choice: Free Stuff or freedom. They voted for Free Stuff. Why? What makes you think that you can persuade them to vote for freedom instead of Free Stuff when they couldn’t be persuaded in the first place?

  5. Some news from the chans: Now that it is generally known that RMS has vehemently and forcefully rejected pedophillia and pedophiles, the pedophiles are frothing themselves into a rage, branding RMS as a “traitor” and an “enemy”. The technology board is especially upset; feeling he has “betrayed justice”.

    What is going on?

      • I wonder just how much of the net ratfucking of the last seven years or so can be laid at the feet of the damn chans. While some interesting stuff has come from there, my thought is that we should treat them rather like a hegemonizing swarm – and with similar tools.

        Lacking mass drivers, I’ll settle for some good old-fashioned artillery.

        • >I wonder just how much of the net ratfucking of the last seven years or so can be laid at the feet of the damn chans.

          I’m not sure how that nets out. A lot of the denizens are anti-SJW; the poo they fling in that direction probably helps us,

          • They are now flinging poo at RMS. An interesting note: it came out on the chans that RMS had changed his mind regarding pedophilia at-least 6 months before RMS was canceled (where he latter made the announcement himself on his website), from leaks of his private in-person conversations. It was discussed at length a half a year before the canceling. It is interesting that no one quashed the damaging stories as non-newsworthy this time and let the run, and then ran him from his positions: there was no protection. Are these related at all? There was much anonymous anger then too. RMS also called for Epstein to be jailed in the email he was canceled for.

          • I’m reminded of the old aphorism about the enemy of my enemy. I see them as that, but their corrosive effect on discourse galls me to no end.

            Then again, I *intensely* dislike that kind of “chaos and destruction for the lulz” trollery.

          • I’d go farther than that. I’d say the chans are currently the only effective anti-SJW force actually fighting the culture war.

          • That’s a damn big assumption. I have a problem with their tactics, not their content. What they’ve been doing is essentially undermining trust, generally sowing chaos. They’ve managed to get some of their crap on folks I count as hostile, as ESR points out, but their corrosive effect on trust galls the hell out of me.

            I was being a intentionally hyperbolic with the “artillery” bit, and if the government actually tried to censor them, I’d line up on their side, even though they’re a bunch of trollish scoundrels, but that doesn’t mean I would oppose social censure.

  6. Medicare is a socialist programme. The US Postal Service too. The youth in the US favour democratic socialism. However Russia is becoming more capitalist, so…

    • No, this is an example of the fallacy of sorites. Socialism is not properly used to mean the simple existence of government owned and operated organizations for production and distribution, even though such organizations are sometimes justified by socialist arguments. Socialism is a class of ideologies that call for the abolition of markets as a mode of economic organization, or for their marginalization and restriction to narrow sectors of activity, and their replacement by some nonmarket scheme as a comprehensive economic mode. In theory this might be done by exclusive reliance on gifts; in practice it results, first, in “gifts” being mandatory, that is, in systems where anyone can come along and walk off with anything, and second, because the tragedy of the commons goes into effect quickly in such systems (or unsystems), in state control and central planning. (And then you’re up against the problems pointed out in Haldane’s “On Being the Right Size” and those discussed in Mises’ “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth.”)

      Even central planning of a kind is not socialist; the modern theory of the firm points out that every corporation is an island of central planning in a sea of market transactions—one whose size is limited to some degree by the scale problems of central planning. Massive redistribution is not properly called “socialist,” either: Denmark has it, but the Danes reject the idea that they are socialist, and they are regularly rated as having one of the world’s freest economies. They also don’t have heavily armed police arresting people, or shooting them, for having the wrong political views. Both of these things can exist within an economy that’s basically organized as a market.

      • All countries have some degree of “socialism” e.g. US Fire Department is a public institution. Nordic countries have markets, so i don’t understand your argument. I’m sure the world will evolve into some moderate hybrid economic system that works well for everyone. Billionaires will be taxed out of existence because no one needs a billion dollars, especially while so many vets go homeless, most people can’t afford a $400 emergency, so many children don’t have clean water, 500k medical bankrupcies a year and 40k deaths because people can’t afford to see a doctor – that’s an inhumane system that Bernie will fix.

        • “Billionaires will be taxed out of existence because no one needs a billion dollars”

          Who died and made you – or Bernie – God so you could make such pronouncements?

          And did you notice Bernie quit saying “millionaires and billionaires” since someone noticed he is a millionaire?

        • Billionaires will be taxed out of existence because no one needs a billion dollars

          Strictly speaking, nobody needs a smartphone, either — you can communicate just as well making voice calls and SMS using a ’80s style brick as you can using email and video calls on a modern glossy black monolith. And nobody needs a car which can go faster than, oh, about 25 MPH (40 km/h). Likewise, nobody needs a television, video game consoles, automatic dishwashers, or so many, many other luxuries of the modern lifestyle. If you want to do good by just telling people how to live their lives, don’t start with the tiny fraction of billionaires — start with the common folk and banning these useless things they waste their money attention on!

        • Billionaires will be taxed out of existence because no one needs a billion dollars, especially while [litany of horrors]

          The wealth taxed from billionaires won’t be created by all those other groups simply because billionaires aren’t creating it. Instead, it will simply never be created in the first place.

          Bernie obviously fails to realize it, but his way of fixing the system will equalize everyone by chopping off the legs of the tallest. He’ll increase suffering, not decrease it.

        • needs

          *THWACK*

          By using the word “need” in any usage beyond some specific technical meaning in an economic context you have disqualified yourself as someone who might have any legitimate opinions on the subject.

        • I thought my argument was quite straightforward. Eric certainly understood it with no trouble.

          Socialism, rationally defined, is an economic philosophy or mode of organization that does not rely on market transactions, or relies on them only in marginal and peripheral matters. The Soviet Union was socialist. The fact that they allowed farmers to work small private fields and sell or trade the produce didn’t make them nonsocialist; it was an element of markets in a system that fundamentally relied on central planning. In just the same way, the fact that the United States has tax-funded schools and fire departments does not make it socialist; indeed, the fact that Denmark has very high tax rates on both income and consumption and spends much of the proceeds on social welfare does not make it socialist, because it still relies for production and service on business firms buying, selling, renting, and hiring.

          As for billionaires, I personally don’t need a billion dollars, or want to do the things that getting it would require. But if other people want a billion dollars, I don’t see any objection to it, as long as they get it by providing products and services that other people value more than the money. I used to say that every device I had bought from Apple was worth far more to me than the money I paid for it (from the computer with which I earn my living to the music player that gave my wife more joy than anything else I ever gave her), and therefore I didn’t begrudge him a cent of his profits from it, because he had “given back” (as the saying is) more than the value of that money—and likewise with the money from vast numbers of other customers. If letting people make billions of dollars gets them to do things like that, bless them!

          • Let me raise the point that the Soviets absolutely did rely on market transactions. They did all they could to impede the market, but at the end of the day, without what they called the “black market”, they would have reached their terminal economic collapse by 1950.

        • I must have missed this thing where the fire department was a federal agency.

          “that Bernie will fix” lol

        • “Tax the rich, feed the poor, ‘till there are no rich no more.”

          Then what do you do with the poor?

          Bad things happen when people don’t read their Aesop.

  7. I agree with and appreciate your concern for your own safety and for the fact that you don’t want to support the entities you tend to disagree with on ideological grounds in such straight-forward manner. (I’ve always absolutely been a fan of that).

    But, I must raise this point: in the third world countries, the vacuum for what an average person/”layman” can look up to is pretty intense. I wish you would show some support in some way, if possible. I say this because newbies/wannabes/zealots look up to you and if they don’t get that, many do end up compromising what they were looking for. I often see pseudo-experts (people claiming to be an expert but who really are just cleverly propagating their agenda/half-baked thoughts) take over; therefore I feel small things from real experts can make genuine difference. (Best example: Afghanistan).

    So… it would be great, IMHO, if you could not just decline and (directly) show some support. Maybe a talk remotely, a QnA/AMA session or just a letter of support? I don’t know, the stronger the manner, the better.

  8. Would you go to Sweden? Not trying to be snarky, genuinely don’t recommend for people who don’t like socialism (including myself).

    • >Would you go to Sweden?

      I’ve been there. I’d go back.

      Sweden isn’t socialist. Socialism is, as William Stoddard correctly pointed out, “a class of ideologies that call for the abolition of markets as a mode of economic organization”. Sweden is heavily redistributionist in a way I dislike and think is wrong, but has been moving away from even that since 1994.

      Sweden approached socialism (never quite reaching it) between 1960 and 1990 after an earlier period of what was pretty much laissez-faire. Between 1870 and 1950 Sweden had the highest per-capita growth rate in the world and in 1950 was the third wealthiest. During the years of heaviest redistribution growth crashed to a halt and Sweden stagnated, but the country was gifted with an unusually capable political class that realized they were on a road to nowhere and backed out of it.

      The redistributionism they still have is not sustainable either, but hasn’t hit its crisis point yet. That may take a while; unlike a true socialist country Sweden didn’t spend its bad years burning up its pre-socialist capital stock and thus has more maneuvering room.

      • Sweden isn’t socialist. Socialism is, as William Stoddard correctly pointed out, “a class of ideologies that call for the abolition of markets as a mode of economic organization”. Sweden is heavily redistributionist in a way I dislike and think is wrong, but has been moving away from even that since 1994.

        That’s very much my take on the matter.

        I do see socialism and redistribution as having a common root, which is egalitarianism; and I’m opposed to egalitarianism, not just to socialism, for several reasons. Ethically, it’s based on envy, and I think envy is an evil and destructive passion, even, or perhaps especially, when it takes the altruistic form of A envying B on behalf of C. Economically, it leads to an attack on capital accumulation, and capital is what enables us to have more wealth than our own physical exertions could produce. Biologically, it assumes that there are no meaningful differences between different human beings, or sometimes between different species, and that’s known to be false; the reality is that there are many different dimensions of variation, and that different ones are more advantageous under different conditions. But there are meaningful differences between them nonetheless.

        I’d also note that Sweden’s redistribution is accompanied by a tax system that is less progressive than that of the United States or, I believe, other Anglosphere countries. Americans tend to think that they can magically produce health care, or university education, or a guaranteed income for everyone by taxing only the very rich. Swedes apparently have decided that if they want to have a cradle to grave welfare state, everyone has to pay for it, simply because they’re Swedes. That’s not something I want, but it seems a healthier approach, with less of fairy godmother economics. And as Emmanuel Todd suggests, it probably has something to do with their different family structure.

        (One of my fancies, for some time, has been a polity with different levels of membership. Choose level A, and you get a night watchman state with very low taxes. Choose level B, and you get something approximating an average American state, with higher taxes. Choose level C, and you get cradle to grave welfare with a very high level of taxation. I wonder how many people would choose each option?)

        • The flaw in egalitarianism is that, having observed that the free market does not reward people equally, proposes to resolve the problem by “redistributing” the rewards of the market.

          But once those disparate rewards are eliminated, then why would anyone want to work on a Bering Sea crab boat, or an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico or the wilderness of the Dakotas or Alberta? Who would want to do anything difficult, if the people who take the easy jobs are going to be rewarded as much?

          So those jobs won’t be done. And in short order, essential services won’t be provided at all. That’s when the Strong Man comes along and promises he’ll fix everything by ordering people to do the important things.

          The jobs will then be half-assed. Everyone will do just enough work to avoid being beaten/whipped/etc. by the overseers. And we’ll all have roughly equal misery (except for the Strong Man and his overseers, of course, who have to have more, because they’re so important to making everything work).

        • Envy or a sense of fairness? They are 2 distinct entities. I don’t agree that everybody who disagrees with current conditions must be motivated by envy.

          • Read “Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origins of Freedom” by Paul H. Rubin for an explication of Envy as an instinct with adaptive effects. Basically, thanks to Hume’s Gap, you cannot make a moral argument without a moral axiom. Envy, perceived as a moral sentiment and thereupon taken up into cognition as a moral axiom – all good stuff should be shared equally and all bad stuff should be endured equally, is the root moral intuition of the Left. Correspondingly, Jealously (not a synonym for Envy, vis: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. For the Lord thy God is a Jealous God) is the root moral intuition of the Right. Hence the Right’s protracted efforts to rationalize property rights as something originating in “Natural Law”; but the moral axiom tacitly assumed for such rationalizations is simply the instinct of Jealously apprehended as a Moral Sentiment.

            • Yes, and egalitarian societies are either band-level primitives like the Bushmen, or murderous totalitarians like Kampuchea. Societies that allow individual appropriation and defense achieved the industrial revolution and the first human escape from misery. I know which I prefer.

        • > I wonder how many people would choose each option?

          I presume the vast majority will choose level C and it will even work, because of the constant competition from the other two options.
          It’s only when the opt out is forbidden (as is in the larger part of the world) is the “system” able to degrade seriously without collapsing.

      • Metin Akat> Would you go to Sweden?

        esr> Sweden isn’t socialist. Socialism is, as William Stoddard correctly pointed out, “a class of ideologies that call for the abolition of markets as a mode of economic organization”.

        Eric, since you want your policy to be clear to everyone who might invite you in the future, may I recommend that you include this definition of “socialism” in your original post? I was going to ask you the same question, with Tony Blair’s England in the place of Metin Akrat’s Sweden. Tony Blair’s platform never included the abolition or marginalization of markets. And yet he self-identified as a Democratic Socialist, which was the reason I almost asked.

        In my opinion, then, Including the definition would make your policy a lot clearer and would largely answer such “what about country X?” questions automatically.

        • >Eric, since you want your policy to be clear to everyone who might invite you in the future, may I recommend that you include this definition of “socialism” in your original post

          And get involved in lots of edge-case wrangling with trolls? No thanks.

          Same reason I don’t commit myself to rules about what will get you banned here – if I did, assholes would game them. They try to anyway, but allowing it to be known that I reserve the right to be arbitrary and capricious reduces waste of my time.

          I reserve the right to be arbitrary and capricious about what countries I visit. If you think your country might be too socialist for me, you’re probably right.

          • As to my country being too socialist for you : According to eyewitness testimony from people I personally know, you had a tolerably decent time in Wuerzburg (1997). The audience wasn’t even overly hostile to the talk you gave! Too bad I wasn’t there myself.

            As to your right to be arbitrary and capricious: I’m all for that! (Not that you need my approval in the first place.) It’s all good!

            • >The audience wasn’t even overly hostile to the talk you gave!

              Yeah, you could say that.

              You could say there was stunned fascination followed by loud applause, too.

              Both descriptions would be true.

              (I didn’t think of Germany as socialist at the time, and wasn’t expecting any hostility. I had no real idea in advance how the talk would be received.)

              That was only the third group of people ever to hear my central thoughts about what we later named “open source”. The second was a smaller audience at a Philadelphia Linux User’s Group a month or two earlier. The first was a handful of people in the living room of some friends of mine in Paoli, Pennsylvania (about 3 miles from where I live), sometime in the early autumn of 1996. The owner of that living room, who was a CS professor at Penn for many years, has since been heard to joke that he ought to put up a bronze plaque commemorating the occasion.

              • ESR> Yeah, you could say that.

                You could say there was stunned fascination followed by loud applause, too.

                I was using irony and understatement. For the benefit of readers to whom this wasn’t obvious, let me state for the record that my informant compared the talk to a religious revival meeting he had observed, earlier that year, on a visit to the American South. He was an extremely sober person, so this meant something coming from him.

                • >my informant compared the talk to a religious revival meeting he had observed, earlier that year, on a visit to the American South.

                  I’ve written before about Dave Logan’s insight that “prophecy” is what happens when a person expresses the deepest shared values of a tribe in a way it did not consciously understand before. When people have that experience, it doesn’t matter whether the belief content is labeled “sacred” or “secular” in their minds; they’re going to have the emotional responses of a revival meeting. Your friend’s report was both accurate and perceptive.

                  I, on the other hand, didn’t yet understand those psychological dynamics, so the audience reaction at Augsburg puzzled me almost as much as it puzzled the audience members themselves. Part of what I had to comprehend over the next couple of years…

  9. I trust that ESR will not visit California or New York either. Both are socialist s**tholes as well. Oh, but it’s still the kind and gentle United States, you say? Try wearing a MAGA hat in the city and see how long you last without getting physically assaulted.

    • >Try wearing a MAGA hat in the city and see how long you last without getting physically assaulted.

      I’d wear a MAGA hat even in NYC, if I ever wore one at all. The Big Apple is old stomping grounds for me, I know how to deal with NYC-style hostility if I have to.

      Upstate NY wouldn’t be a problem at all – like small-town and rural areas everywhere a lot of it is Trump country and the rest close enough to it that nobody wants to pick fights.

      California is a different story. Outside the metroplexes still no problem; inside…I don’t know the ground and the culture as well there. I’d be more cautious.

      • The leftards in California are mostly screaming little sissies, and if they dare to take a swing at you at all, they’ll try to hit you from behind with a bike lock. Their main mode of attack is to get people banned from Facebook or Twitter, or make noise to keep an audience from hearing a speaker.

    • C and I live in California. We’re in the process of choosing a city to move to in another state. I’m not so concerned about the immediate threat of violence, though the news from Oregon makes us both cautious; but it’s no longer a state where either of us wants to live.

      • May I suggest one of the cities in Jefferson County Colorado? The weather is variable, but not horrible, the gun laws aren’t insane, and we’re fighting against the progressive stupidity and could use more votes against them.

        • And here I was, thinking you lived *east* of I-25.

          Jefferson county is good. I’d also nominate Arapahoe, Adams, and maybe Broomfield if you want to live near the city. Northern Jefferson and west Adams are probably the cheapest areas left in the Denver Metro area. All of the above, including William’s recommended Jefferson, are purple counties, IMO, with Broomfield being the bluest, and Jefferson being the reddest shades thereof.

          Though part of me fears that any attempt to import rational voters to the counties surrounding Denver and Boulder to contain their insanity is moot. Despite the state bird being the construction crane, with mid-rise apartment complexes going up all over the metro area, Denver’s pretty much full. And its spillover has been turning the surrounding counties progressively bluer, even those that wouldn’t be considered part of the metro area at all.

          • > And here I was, thinking you lived *east* of I-25.

            I did until a few years ago–I lived in Arapahoe for a few years after moving back to the US.

            I think Denver is about to experience a net outflow of blue voters–with the legalization of pot in Washington, Oregon and California a lot of the dopier voters will be heading to less cold pastures.

            Still, outlying counties are better than California in so many ways. And there’s always Wyoming.

      • Do you understand what policies got California into its current mess, and are you committed to voting against politicians supporting them in your new state? If not, stay in California.

        • I think it’s pretty clear from his comments upthread (and in others) that he may not be a hard core Republican, but he does understand that California policies are totalitarian and wrong.

          • I am certainly not a hardcore Republican. But I consider the Republicans the lesser evil.

            When you come down to it, if you look at various people’s lists of personal tastes, cultural traits, and lifestyles that typify the “left” and the “right,” my own list definitely puts me on the left. But I’m also strongly in favor of private property, free markets, governments of delegated powers, and other “conservative” economic and political ideas. This combination is usually called “libertarian,” though so many people have taken up that word now that it’s hard to know what it means.

            Incidentally, of the two cities that we are currently choosing between, Boise and Lawrence, one of Boise’s liabilities is precisely that too many Californians are moving there, to bid up the price of housing and probably vote for the same bad laws that drove them out of California.

    • I’m not fond of visiting any of the west coast states. They’re all far too leftist any more. The same goes for Chicago (though I haven’t wanted to go there for many years, ever since Mayor Daley tore up Meigs Field under the cover of darkness), Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey – and Virginia is about to get added to that list.

      I think Philadelphia would be the same about a MAGA hat as it’s always been: if a Philadelphian gives you shit, give it back, and he’ll laugh, clap you on the back, and buy you a beer. But I’m not as certain of that as I used to be.

      • Jay,

        I couldn’t agree with you more about the atrocious Richie D.’s tearing up the runways at Meigs in the dark of night, despite the judge’s injunction against doing so.

        For that he should be boiled in oil, painted with honey, and hung out to dry directly over an anthill.

        The remains of his carcass then to be drawn, quartered, tarred and feathered, and run out of town on a rail.

        The same goes for every man Jack and gal Jackie who supported the insupportable Sith’s “Memorial Library” being built to the ruination of Jackson Park, the Midway, and all the history associated therewith. And blessings on those profs. at UC who had the stones to sign a public Open Letter against it.

  10. esr wrote: “I refuse to give a socialist/communist government even the tiny, tacit bit of support my visit would confer.”

    Boo to that. Not that you should support socialism/communism and the excuse that it’s unsafe is fine, but that sounds a lot to me like scientists, entertainers, etc. that refuse to go to Israel because there are zionists in the government. Not interacting with the people of a country because of the governments ideology/religion tears the world apart in my opinion.

    • Isn’t there a difference between “the government has elections and evil people can run for office and be elected” and “the government is run by evil people who have implemented their evil policies”? Yes, the first can change into the second over time. But treating them as equivalent only seems to make sense if your standard for political judgment is a utopian society where everyone agrees on a single ethical and legal standards—that is, where all the political problems have been solved.

  11. Never visit nations that are evil. However, if you *really* do have to visit them, visit upon them with massive firepower and make the rubble bounce.

    • >Are you still of the “revokist” camp, Sir Raymond? Has your position changed or grown?

      I’m waiting on the response Eben Moglen promised. If it has issued, I haven’t seen it.

      • I fail to see how revokism is tenable in a nation where the Artifex v. Hancom and Jacobsen v. Katzer decisions are things, barring someone attempting an Oracle-like challenge to these rulings. The only person I know of who would even try will be laughed out of the courtroom at the first mention of the words Devarim and na’arah, if not before.

        Speaking of, the Supreme Court has granted cert in Google v. Oracle America (formerly Oracle v. Google), so… bit of hope there for those worried about the API-copyright issue.

        • I was actually kind of hoping the Supremes wouldn’t grant certiorari to Google v. Oracle. At least then, the damage would be contained to the 9th Circuit. Not ideal, I admit, but it leaves the rest of the country unscathed. Now there’s a good chance the Supreme Court will find in favor of Oracle, and if that happens a bunch of Open Source projects, including Wine and Darling*, and quite possibly Linux itself (cf. SCO v. IBM), as well as my current employer will all be horribly screwed.

          On the other hand, this could set a precedent which would harm all that anyway.

          * Project to implement macOS APIs on Linux

          • >I was actually kind of hoping the Supremes wouldn’t grant certiorari to Google v. Oracle.

            I admit it could go bad. But for the Supremes to grant cert when the SG opposed it, there must be a justice or three that feels pretty strongly that the 9th crapped its pants yet again on this one. That’s a good sign for us.

            Nobody on the Court has a history of IP maximalism, that position has been falling out of favor in recent years, and pretty much the entire freaking industry except Oracle have submitted anti-Oracle Amicus briefs. I think guarded optimism is justified.

            • I admit it could go bad. But for the Supremes to grant cert when the SG opposed it, there must be a justice or three that feels pretty strongly that the 9th crapped its pants yet again on this one. That’s a good sign for us.

              The 9th did good this time. It’s the Federal Circuit that did the crapping.

          • >(cf. SCO v. IBM)

            I have inside knowledge about that case. The odds that it will come back to haunt us are vanishingly small, and if some gonif tries to resurrect it I know how it will be stopped and will be one of the people doing the stopping. Worry not, this one is covered.

            Yes, there is a legal reason I’m being vague about this. Sorry.

        • >Jacobsen v. Katzer
          Have you read Jacobsen v. Katzer? The 9th circuit appellate court ruled that the Artistic License was /not/ a contract, and was instead a simple copyright license. It found that the lower court erred in construing the Artistic License as a contract, and reversed the lower courts finding: telling the lower court that the Artistic License is not a contract.

          That is, if anything, supportive of the “revokists” position.

          >Artifex v. Hancom
          Have you read Artifex v. Hancom? In Artifex, a lower court decision in the 9th circuit, the court failed to properly identify the GPL, instead confusing “The GPL” with the preliminary offer to do business which gave the prospective licensee an option of a paid proprietary license contract or the GPL. The court in Artifex gave the copyright holder the option of proceeding on a contract law claim of damages, with regards to the offer of the proprietary license contract OR (but not both) to proceed on a federal copyright violation claim for violation of the GPL copyright license. If the GPL itself was a contract, the court would require the copyright holder to proceed under a contract law claim only. (They like to limit damages when they can). The parties elected to settle, and the case went no further.

          Jeff Read: Please explain your position, and please do not confuse dicta with ruling.
          Do you understand what a federal circuit is, and that the rulings in one affect only that circuit? Do you understand what dicta is? Did you read Jacobson to the end. Did you notice what the defendant wanted? Did you notice what the ruling in Jacobson was?

          Could you also point me to Eben Moglen’s refutation, that he had promised, Jeff.

          • We’re not your paralegals, Mikee. We’re not going to do your research for you. If Moglen produced the refutation, you can find it on your own.

            • >We’re not going to do your research for you.

              So you admit: you have no response. You concede the point, thank you.

              > If Moglen produced the refutation, you can find it on your own.

              Moglen has not produced any refutation. That is why it cannot be found. (It was a rhetorical question+)

              You might wonder why. He may have had a student of his research the issue, and found out that he was wrong. It is likely as simple as that. If he was right, he would have issued the promised refutation, as a response on that email thread, and quickly.

              The response from Eben Moglen exists nowhere, not on the thread, not anywhere else, and it has been a full year.

              You can continue pretending that you have a legal foundation: but you are not a lawyer, you cannot even recognize dicta, nor define it, nor differentiate it from the actual rulings. You do not even seem to understand federal circuit jurisdictions.

              You will continue to pretend that you “have won” though, Jeff Read. You apparently feel that it doesn’t take much to fool your fellows.

              +(did you not pick up on that, Jeff Read?)

              • I know that “dicta” is plural. You seem not to.

                You, like many trolls, also seem to have fatally confused “conceding the point” with “getting tired of you and wishing not to engage with you any further”. I suppose I could keep arguing with you, but it would be a waste of my time and energy, so I won’t. I’m tired of you. We’re all tired of you.

                Do you understand what the term “ban evasion” means, Mikee? Do you understand that people who run forums tend to frown on it very much?

                • >Do you understand what the term “ban evasion” means, Mikee?

                  I’m not sure this is Mikee yet. The prose style is different and he’s not exhibiting quite the same range of obsessions. Mikee is not the only dissident out there.

                  I’m now declaring discussion of licensing issues off-topic for this thread. Under he circumstances, I’m going to have to declare further flogging them to be ban-worthy.

      • >I’m waiting on the response Eben Moglen promised. If it has issued, I haven’t seen it.

        Might you ask him for it?
        It appears to me that he is simply wrong: that’s what the silence suggests to me, unless the paper exists somewhere.

  12. I wouldn’t go to Venezuela, not only because the Maduro gang still clings to power (despite being de-recognized by the US and most of Latin America), but because of the severe breakdown in law and order.

    The chavernment is not only socialist, and corrupt, and tyrannical, it is almost completely incompetent at even the basic tasks of governing. One result is that street crime is epidemic in Venezuela; the murder rate is about the highest in the world.

    Also, who in Venezuela has the resources to hold an “event” about hacking and open source, and invite a foreign dignitary? The last time I looked (I can’t bear to pay close attention) there were severe food shortages and mass starvation, also electrical blackouts, collapse of medical services, and the complete disappearance of money (terminal hyperinflation).

    • >Also, who in Venezuela has the resources to hold an “event” about hacking and open source, and invite a foreign dignitary?

      I’l admit I wondered about that myself. Guy didn’t name his city, but there are only a handful it could be and only one of them is even moderately likely to be prospering enough to run a conference. I’ll bet it’s some organization in Maracaibo, the biggest port city. Far enough from Caracas that the worst of the political shit won’t be raining on them.

      EDIT: Duh. I forgot that most people don’t know the things I do about Venezuela and left out some crucial background. Maracaibo is located in the far west of Venezuela, has better land links to Colombia than Caracas, and has a long tradition of self-sufficiency and passively but effectively resisting control from the capital.

      It actually seems quite plausible to me that conditions there are less shitty than in the rest of Venezuela. These are people who will react to Venezuelan hyperinflation by shrugging and trading in Colombian pesos or dollars (it’s an oil port). If I had to chose any place in Venezuela itself to ride out a national collapse, Maracaibo would be it.

      They might even get to form the independent Republic of the Zula they’ve been muttering about for centuries.

      • Eric: isn’t that guy trying to get you killed? I bet if you went there you’d be arrested or mugged. Are you going to take this lying down: someone trying to lure you in to kidnap/ransom you?

    • >The chavernment is not only socialist, and corrupt, and tyrannical, it is almost completely incompetent at even the basic tasks of governing.

      So, like California, then?

      *wince* I wish that were more of a joke than it is,

        • >Would you refuse to go to California?

          Not yet, but if that state descends much further into Third-World-shithole conditions I’ll probably have to.

          It’s almost unbelievable how epic the CA municipal and state government failure at the basics of good governance is. And how fast it has fallen.

          • Given that literally millions of new birthright civic-value-foreigner citizens have come of age in the past couple of decades, I don’t find it surprising in the least.

          • Well, if you do, at least as of 2017, the airline baggage checkers didn’t blink when you requested a firearms declaration card.

            Just so you know.

  13. On the chans, the inmates now regard RMS as a turncoat/traitor/enemy, and are expressing happiness at his cancellation. They note that under the system that RMS has published on his website, they would never marry young virgins, and would all have HPV induced cancers. It was noted that RMS is in favor of raising the minimum marriage age to even greater heights and believes that men should not care about virginity, and that the more experience the better. The pedophiles on the chans have declared him an enemy and have vowed that, if there is any other damaging news stories, they will waste no effort to uncover them and forward them to willing publishers “like that mullatto woman did”.

    • This kinda thing is why I have grown to despise the net, much like Frankenstein hating the monster he created.

      It is simultaneously a magical technical marvel of unimaginable wonders and possibilities, and yet a horror of such power that it cannot be entrusted to the hands of ordinary man.

      We have built this global bullhorn and made it available to the ugliest of our species.

      That was never destined to end well. And here we are…

      • When the Meltdown/Spectre attacks emerged in early 2018, I thought to myself: It’s time for a Butlerian Jihad. Humans aren’t ready for computers.

        Especially when I realized that the deep state has probably known about, and exploited to its advantage, these vulnerabilities for years, if not decades.

        • > I thought to myself: It’s time for a Butlerian Jihad. Humans aren’t ready for computers.

          It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion.
          It is by the beans of Java that my thoughts acquire speed.
          The hands acquire shaking.
          The shaking serves as a warning.

          > Especially when I realized that the deep state has probably
          > known about, and exploited to its advantage, these
          > vulnerabilities for years, if not decades.

          So while you don’t *like* Trump, you’re voting for him to continue to fight the swamp creatures?

            • Jill Stein has approximately the same chance of being elected President as I do – if I hit the campaign trail in the TRON costume.

              • >Jill Stein has approximately the same chance of being elected President as I do – if I hit the campaign trail in the TRON costume.

                TRON Guy for President!

                It has a kind of bent appeal to it, actually.

              • I know, but I vote my conscience. I won’t submit to the Kang vs. Kodos calculus our two-party system induces.

                And with Trump as President, and Kanye West and Oprah being talked about as 2024 hopefuls, the state of U.S. politics is such that hitting the trail as Tron Guy might be within political feasibility.

                • Who the fuck is talking about either of those as serious contenders?

                  And what happened to your brain that you think those people are worth listening to?

    • It was noted that RMS is in favor of raising the minimum marriage age to even greater heights and believes that men should not care about virginity, and that the more experience the better.

      It doesn’t take a pedophile to realize how insane that position is.

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