Peter

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales letters

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The Pride and position of Jimmy Wales on Anarchism. Also included are letters from Ghs, Eyal Mozes, Peter Taylor, and Ellen Moore.

Peter

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: a more positive view of pride?

Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2003 09:39:28 -0700

I'd like to give that paragraph an even more positive rewrite than Roger did...

PaleoObjectivist@aol.com wrote:

>"The virtue of Pride is the recognition of the fact 'that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining -- that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul.' (Atlas Shrugged) The virtue of Pride can best be described by the term 'moral ambitiousness.' It means that one must earn the right to hold oneself as one's own highest value by achieving one's own moral perfection -- which one achieves [here comes the negative part] by never accepting any code of irrational virtues impossible to practice and by never failing to practice the virtues one knows to be rational -- by never accepting an unearned guilt and never earning any, or, if one ~has~ earned it, never leaving it uncorrected -- by never resigning oneself passively to any flaws in one's character -- by never placing any concern, wish, fear or mood of the moment above the reality of one's own self-esteem. And, above all, it means one's rejection of the role of a sacrificial animal, the rejection of any doctrine that preaches self-immolation as a moral virtue or duty." (VOS, pp. 29-30)

Roger's rewrite:

>[beginning with Rand's wording] The virtue of Pride can best be described by the term 'moral ambitiousness.' It means that one must earn the right to hold oneself as one's own highest value by achieving one's own moral perfection -- which one achieves....

I would replace the deontic-sounding 'must' with 'can and should'... "It means that one can and should earn the right to hold oneself as one's own highest value by achieving one's own moral perfection...'

> ....by scrupulously adopting a code of rational virtues that are possible to practice and by scrupulously practicing those virtues -- by scrupulously correcting any guilt that one has earned -- by scrupulously correcting any flaws in one's character -- by scrupulously holding the reality of one's own self-esteem above any concern, wish, fear or mood of the moment. And, above all, it means one's scrupulous adherence to the principle that one is, like every other human being, an end in oneself, not a means to the ends of others.

Even with your rewrite, there's still a strong focus on the negatives, i.e. "guilt that one has earned", "flaws in one's character".

I thought it'd be easy to rewrite it again to give it a more positive spin, but instead I guess I'll just wrap up by saying that I think it could be done.

--Jimbo

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: Re: a more positive view of pride

Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2003 09:47:39 -0700

PaleoObjectivist@aol.com wrote: Yes, and so do "Don't be a bad boy" and "Be a good boy." But there is a world of difference, psychologically, in what is conveyed to the child or student of ethics by these two ways of stating the issue.

I think that's absolutely right. And normally this is one of the strong points of Ayn Rand's writing.

Who among us doesn't feel, with Howard Roark, the exquisite joy of *living*, while reading the passage in which he rides his bicycle through Monadnock Valley? "The young man hoped he would not have to die. Not if the earth could look like this. Not if he could hear the hope and promise like a voice, with leaves, trees, and rocks instead of words."

Similarly, a proper description of the virtue of pride should leave one bursting at the seams with desire for the emotional state that flows from genuine pride, the state of mind of my daughter Kira, sounding out her first words on a page, realizing that there's something important here, a code, and that she's achieved something - an understanding - through focus.

That's the reward of pride, and pride is not a virtue of 'thou shalt nots', but a virtue of *active focus*, of *genuine and rational appreciation of one's own honest achievements*.

It can be described with virtually no direct reference to the negative, which is ultimately inconsequential anyway.

--Jimbo

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 08:33:00 -0800

Tim Starr wrote:

>OK, fair enough, but I don't think you have successfully demonstrated the existence of a third alternative, a monopoly that is non-coercive in the sense of one that doesn't suppress competitors via initiation of force.

How about a "proprietary community"? How about an agency which grows by acquiring jurisdictional rights over land (from the owner of those rights)?

We may imagine Galt's Gulch growing in just this fashion. The land is fully privately owned at the start, and newcomers have to agree to follow the rules. They can own land, but the jurisdictional rights are not for sale. (This is similar to buying land but not owning the mineral rights beneath the land, or buying land through which a stream runs, but owning only partial water rights to the water that comes in.)

Bill wrote:

>As another counter-example to his premise, I cited a proprietary community in which the owner allows only one protection agency to operate on his property. The protection agency has a non-competitive monopoly that is also non-coercive (i.e., that does not involve the initiation of force), because it is maintained via the legitimate exercise of the owner's property rights.

Victor Levis wrote:

Bill, you are perhaps assuming your conclusion here. I do NOT think that the owner's prerogatives are absolute.

The owner's prerogatives need not be absolute in order for the owner to maintain a monopoly government on his own land.

It is of course true that the monopoly government (or "defense agency" if you prefer) of a proprietary community is not _necessarily_ valid. But that's not what we need to prove. We need only show that it is _possible_ for a monopoly government of a proprietary community to be valid.

--Jimbo

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: RE: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 10:55:28 -0800

George H. Smith wrote:

>You are begging the question. You are assuming that the private agency hired by landowners would constitute a "government" in Roy's sense.

Not "in Roy's sense" -- in Ayn Rand's sense. So I'm not begging the question at all.

> It does not. It is a market monopoly -- a single provider resulting from the exercise of legitimate property rights -- *not* a coercive monopoly.

Precisely. This is why Ayn Rand's theory of government is immune to his critique.

>This is why Roy argued that Rand could not consistently defend an institution (i.e., a government) which exercised a coercive monopoly on law within a given geographical area.

And Rand could have legitimately responded: "So what?" She never defended a government which exercised a _coercive_ (i.e. maintained by initiation of force) monopoly. Quite the opposite, she insisted that a legitimate government could not exercise the initiation of force under any circumstances.

>Now, you may wish to argue that he misunderstood Rand's theory (though I don't think he did), but this is a different issue..

It isn't a different issue, it is _the_ issue.

--Jimbo

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Re: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 13:07:36 -0600

I wrote:

"Roy's basic objection to government was that it coercively prohibits the legitimate exercise of property rights. Government is a "coercive monopoly" because it prohibits others from exercising the same rights which it arrogates to itself, and it can maintain this monopoly only by threatening to initiate force against competitors."

Jimmy Wales replied:

"But none of this applies to Ayn Rand's theory of government, in which government is _not_ a coercive monopoly. In Ayn Rand's theory, property rights are fully respected, and the government does not _arrogate_ any rights to itself. To the contrary "the government as such has no rights except the rights _delegated_ to it by the citizens for a specific purpose." ("The Nature of Government", VOS, 149)>"

This is why Roy argued that Rand's premises are inconsistent with her defense of government. You seem to be arguing that Rand must have believed in a contractual, proprietary community (of some sort), because this is the only scheme that is consistent with her premises. But this does not appear to be the case, and *very* few Objectivists that I have encountered have understood Rand' theory in this manner.

The essence of Roy's argument is that, given Rand's views about the non-initiation of force, the delegation of rights, etc., she should logically have defended proprietary communities of the sort defended by anarchists, rather than defending a more traditional limited government. You and Roy agree about this, except you have somehow convinced yourself that your agreement with Roy constitutes a refutation of his argument. This is very strange.

Remember that Ayn Rand emphatically repudiated the Rothbardian model of "competing governments." Yet you are now saying that she agreed with Rothbard. Again, this is very strange. Are you saying that Rand totally misunderstood Rothbard's position?

Ghs

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 11:11:58 -0800

> Remember that Ayn Rand emphatically repudiated the Rothbardian model of "competing governments." Yet you are now saying that she agreed with Rothbard.

No, I am very much NOT saying that she agreed with a Rothbardian model of "competing governments". I am most emphatically denying it.

Ayn Rand advocated monopoly government, not competing governments. "A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to _enforce_ certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area."

She also advocated that a proper government should not initiate force. "...a government that _initiates_ the employment of force... is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality."

Childs' argument purports to show that these two are inconsistent, that only by initiating force could the government remain a monopoly.

Where he went wrong was in not recognizing that a government could remain a monopoly without initiating force, in precisely the way that I have outlined, i.e. through respecting property rights.

--Jimbo

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: RE: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 13:35:20 -0600

I wrote:

"This is why Roy argued that Rand could not consistently defend an institution (i.e., a government) which exercised a coercive monopoly on law within a given geographical area."

Jimmy Wales replied:

"And Rand could have legitimately responded: "So what?" She never defended a government which exercised a _coercive_ (i.e. maintained by initiation of force) monopoly. Quite the opposite, she insisted that a legitimate government could not exercise the initiation of force under any circumstances."

You know very well that Roy did not maintain that Rand *explicitly* advocated a government that would initiate force Rather, Roy maintained that this was *implicit* in her defense of a monopolistic government.

You are assuming that Rand was consistent in this matter, whereas Roy disagreed. Thus, at the very least, you will have to explain why Ayn Rand vehemently opposed the Rothbardian scheme of proprietary communities, if in fact she was defending proprietary communities all along.

If you wish to say that Rand, despite her protestations, really agreed with Rothbard in this matter, then that is fine with me. I have said many times that Rand's theory has a strong anarchistic undercurrent, and I'm glad we agree about this.

The only remaining issue is whether the contractual justice agencies in a proprietary community should be called "governments" or not. You may call them what you will. I am interested primarily in ideas, not labels, and it is an encouraging sign that you agree with Roy that Rand's premises logically compel us to defend proprietary communities instead of "governments" in the conventional sense.

As far as I am concerned, an anarchistic society by any other name would smell as sweet. 8-)

Ghs

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: RE: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 11:22:13 -0800

George H. Smith wrote:

>You know very well that Roy did not maintain that Rand *explicitly* advocated a government that would initiate force Rather, Roy maintained that this was *implicit* in her defense of a monopolistic government.

Yes, of course. And that's his error.

> You are assuming that Rand was consistent in this matter, whereas Roy disagreed.

I'm not assuming it, I'm arguing for it. Rand was consistent because there's no necessary tension between a monopoly institution of government and that same institution not initiating force.

> If you wish to say that Rand, despite her protestations, really agreed with Rothbard in this matter, then that is fine with me.

No, she disagreed strongly with Rothbard.

--Jimbo

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 14:34:22 -0600

Jimmy Wales wrote:

"Where [Roy Childs] went wrong was in not recognizing that a government could remain a monopoly without initiating force, in precisely the way that I have outlined, i.e. through respecting property rights."

You have thoroughly misunderstood Roy's argument, so you should read his article again. I discussed this issue with Roy many times when we lived in the same Hollywood apartment during the early 1970s. I had many similar discussions with Murray Rothbard as well.

Again, what you are doing is conceding Roy's basic point -- i.e., that Rand's theory logically leads to proprietary communities or some other anarchistic arrangement while retaining the label "government" for the agencies that are contractually engaged by individuals for the enforcement of law on their own land.

No Rothbardian, much less Roy Childs, has ever objected (in principle) to a single provider of justice in a given territory, so long as this market monopoly emerges as a result of voluntary contracts between landowners and a given justice agency. Even the original landowners in your hypothetical Galt's Gulch have the choice to form their own agency or hire an outside agency of their own choosing. This is what Rothbardians have always meant by "competition."

Ghs

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 12:19:31 -0800

>Again, what you are doing is conceding Roy's basic point -- i.e., that Rand's theory logically leads to proprietary > communities or some other anarchistic arrangement

No, I am not saying anything like that, I'm denying it completely and entirely. Rand's theory logically leads to a single monopoly non coercive government in a geographic area.

--Jimbo

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 15:02:34 -0600

I wrote:

"If you wish to say that Rand, despite her protestations, really agreed with Rothbard in this matter, then that is fine with me."

Jimmy Wales replied:

"No, she disagreed strongly with Rothbard."

Given your interpretation -- namely, that Ayn Rand advocated voluntary, proprietary communities rather than coercive governments in the conventional sense, that she believed that individual landowners have the right to hire justice agencies of their own choosing (provided this is not prohibited by a restrictive covenant, which is a separate issue that Rand did not discuss at all) -- please explain how Rand's views differed in the least from those defended by Murray Rothbard, Roy Childs, Randy Barnett, David Friedman, myself, or any other libertarian anarchist..

I wrote:

"Again, what you are doing is conceding Roy's basic point -- i.e., that Rand's theory logically leads to proprietary communities or some other anarchistic arrangement...."

Jimmy Wales replied:

"No, I am not saying anything like that, I'm denying it completely and entirely. Rand's theory logically leads to a single monopoly non coercive government in a geographic area."

The difference is nominal only, not one of substance. You choose to call the justice agency that is contractually engaged by landowners a "government," whereas Rothbardians choose to call it a "protection agency," since it lacks the characteristic of political sovereignty.

You can use whatever label you like, but anarchists are far more attuned to the history of political theory, in which territorial sovereignty (i.e., a coercive monopoly) has traditionally been viewed as the essential and defining characteristic of a "government." The agency in your Galt's Gulch scenario -- which is hired by landowners to provide a specific service, just as they might hire garbage collectors and other service providers -- do not claim political sovereignty. This is key point of Roy's argument, if expressed in somewhat different terms.

You have dragged in the prospect of restrictive covenants on land, as if this somehow constitutes a refutation of Roy's argument. But it doesn't have anything to do with his argument; this is an altogether different issue that must be decided on different grounds. *If* our theory of contract and land ownership permits restrictive covenants, such as forever barring blacks from a parcel of land or demanding that all future owners and tenants must employ Jake's Plumbing Company, then your scenario of a land mass that will forever fall within the jurisdiction of a single agency might is feasible theoretically (however improbable it is from a practical point of view). But you have even an iota of evidence that this is what Rand had in mind when she defended a limited, monopolistic government, then I would very much like to see it.

Even here there are problems, however, such as what happens when the agency that enjoys a market monopoly (say, the Ajax Justice Company) violates the agreement by overstepping its proper limits, as specified in the original contract. (And that's all this is, btw -- a contract enforced in perpetuity via restrictive covenants. It is *not* a "constitution" of some sort, unless you once again insist, like Humpty Dumpty, on making words mean whatever you want them to mean, while ignoring conventional usage.)

Welcome, Jimbo, to the wonderful world of anarchism. But I don't think Ayn Rand would have been pleased with being dragged along to this destination. .

Ghs

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: Re:: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2003 10:02:13 -0800

George H. Smith wrote:

>The difference is nominal only, not one of substance. You choose to call the justice agency that is contractually engaged by landowners a "government," whereas Rothbardians choose to call it a "protection agency," since it lacks the characteristic of political sovereignty.

Can you explain this further? The Objectivist government is the owner of the jurisdictional rights in its territory, so it is sovereign in that sense. It is not merely a hireling of various individual landowners who might dismiss it at any time.

The key here is that it acquired this form of sovereignty legitimately.

> You have dragged in the prospect of restrictive covenants on land,

No, you've called it that, but it's really quite different.

Restrictive covenants raise the issue of "dead hand control", among other things, but ownership of property does not.

--Jimbo

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: RE: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2003 10:09:05 -0800

Jeff Olson wrote:

>Now Jimbo et al refuse to acknowledge the equally evident fact that their voluntarily conceived monopoly is, properly classified, an anarchist institution. I even coined a term for it: Anarcho-Monopolism.

That's a very interesting term, but I'm sure you'll agree that it's a rather _odd_ interesting term.

The Objectivist government has a monopoly over the retaliatory use of force, i.e. the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct, in a geographical area. It has this power as a matter of right, and is not subject to dismissal by any particular landowner or other person within the territory. It does not permit competing agencies within its territory. It has a constitution, it has courts, judges, legislators, an executive, police, a military, etc. (It may subcontract out some of those functions, but the key point is that it has final say over those things.)

If that's an anarchist institution, to be called "Anarcho-Monopolism", well, o.k.

>Free market territory-based and subscription-based defense agencies are simply possible variations of voluntarily organized institutions, for Christ's fucking sake.

Right, and the Objectivist argument is that the latter (i.e., subscription based defense agencies) would be a rights-violating disaster.

George H. Smith wrote:

>Rand's basic argument is that justice is not a commodity that can be bought and sold like market goods and services. Why? Because justice -- as exemplified in the rule of law -- is an essential *precondition* for a free society in which property rights are respected and enforced. In short, Rand rejected the market model altogether in matters pertaining to law. This constitutes a *radical* rejection of market anarchism, not a variant of the sort proposed by Jimmy Wales.

Except for the last, i.e. the supposition that I'm proposing a variant of market anarchism, I agree with this completely. That is, I agree that this is Rand's basic argument. And I think Rand was right about this.

The key is -- does Rand's rejection of the notion that justice is not a commodity mean that she is committed, as Childs would suggest, to an institution which must initiate force? I think not.

Suppose Ayn Rand thought all of the following things: a proper government must be a monopoly, a proper government must not initiate force, a proper government must govern with the (specific) consent of the governed, justice is not a commodity, market mechanisms can not be applied to justice services.

Suppose she thought all of those things to be true. Then, everything that I have been saying falls into place quite easily.

>a grave disservice. Her differences with Rothbard were quite profound; they didn't hinge on some technicality about the possibility of restrictive covenants..

Absolutely, that's 100% correct. "Restrictive covenants" is a complete red herring.

--Jimbo

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Re:: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2003 13:13:58 -0600

I wrote:

"The difference is nominal only, not one of substance. You choose to call the justice agency that is contractually engaged by landowners a "government," whereas Rothbardians choose to call it a "protection agency," since it lacks the characteristic of political sovereignty."

Jimmy Wales replied:

"Can you explain this further? The Objectivist government is the owner of the jurisdictional rights in its territory, so it is sovereign in that sense. It is not merely a hireling of various individual landowners who might dismiss it at any time."

A discussion of sovereignty is appended below. It is excerpted from a post on SIL, 3/11/03.

Victor wrote:

"The key here is that it acquired this form of sovereignty legitimately."

What you have described is not political "sovereignty," as this term has been used for over four centuries. It is simply a contractual agreement between the consumer and supplier of a particular service. If I hire a protection

agency to police my property and adjudicate disputes, it does not thereby become a political sovereign.

I wrote:

"You have dragged in the prospect of restrictive covenants on land...."

Jimmy replied:

"No, you've called it that, but it's really quite different. Restrictive covenants raise the issue of "dead hand control", among other things, but ownership of property does not."

I called it a restrictive covenant because this is my understanding of what you have proposed in your Galt's Gulch example. We discussed this before on another list. As I recall, you are saying that the original proprietors of Galt's Gulch could get together and agree to use the same monopolistic justice agency. They also agree that no one can sell their land without the proviso that future owners will agree to use the same agency, and this proviso is passed down in perpetuity to other owners.

This is a restrictive covenant. It is precisely the kind of "dead hand control" that you now claim to reject. As I pointed out, the same scenario could be used to show how blacks could never be permitted on certain land, or how Jake's plumbing company could enjoy a perpetual monopoly on that land. If these cases differ from your hypothetical, then please explain how.

[Excerpt on sovereignty]

Political sovereignty -- which has been the key concept in philosophical discussions about the nature of government since at least the late 16th century -- is the claim of an ultimate and exclusive right (1) to determine what should constitute just and/or legal conduct in a given geographical area; (2) to enact and coercively enforce these rules of conduct known as "laws"; (3) to adjudicate and render final decisions (with *moral* authority) in the event of disputes about the interpretation and/or application of these laws.

By a "collective right," I mean any right (enforceable moral claim) that is attributed to a group, organization or institution, but which cannot be traced to, or logically derived from, the natural rights of individual moral agents.

Political sovereignty (as opposed to self-sovereignty) is a collective right in this sense. For various reasons, such as the universality and compossibility of natural rights, no individual can legitimately claim the right of political sovereignty over other individuals. And if no individual can possess the right of political sovereignty, then this moral power cannot legitimately be delegated or otherwise transferred to the institution known as "government," or the "state."

Of course, some attempts have been made to do precisely this, as we find in variants of social contract theory. But none of these attempts has succeeded -- and none can possibly succeed, for reasons that I don't have time to explain here. Suffice it to say that critics of social contract theory, such as Sir Robert Filmer (Locke's dead adversary), David Hume, and Jeremy Bentham were precisely right when they cautioned that to pursue social contract theory would eventually vindicate and promote defenses of anarchism. This is *exactly* what happened historically. As the 18th-century philosopher Josiah Tucker put it, the Lockean theory (which is similar to Rand's in this respect) is "a universal demolisher of all governments, but not the builder of any."

If the institution that Rand calls a "limited government" does not claim the moral right of political sovereignty, then it is not a "government' in any historically recognizable sense of the term.

The only way out of this impasse is to distinguish, as did A.J. Nock, between a "government" and a "state." Nock, a self-professed "anarchist," defended the legitimacy of "government" while repudiating on moral grounds the legitimacy of any sovereign "state." I find such distinctions singularly unconvincing.

Rand's theory of "government" is an unstable mixture of political sovereignty and self-sovereignty. This latter (the anarchistic element of the inalienable right of self-ownership) is most evident in Rand's advocacy of voluntary financing, and it helps to explain why so many Objectivists have so easily crossed the line into anarchism.

Unfortunately, Rand never addressed the problem of political sovereignty in a straightforward or systematic way, so we are left with a troublesome ambiguity that crops up time and again in discussions like this.

I am not especially interested in exploring eccentric definitions of "government," such as those proposed by some Objectivists in an effort to avoid the negative connotations of that loathsome label "anarchist." These eccentric definitions have contributed nothing to our understanding of the essential nature of government, as this institution has existed throughout history, and especially since the rise of the modern territorial state, or nation-state, since the 16th century.

The primary effect of these eccentric definitions has been to isolate Objectivists and neo-Objectivists from the mainstream of political philosophy, and they have imparted to Objectivism yet another cultish quality that it most certainly doesn't need.

If it should turn out, as I and many others believe, that Rand's theory of individual rights is *ultimately* inconsistent with a theory of political sovereignty, then I think those sympathetic to Objectivism should face this fact squarely and be willing to explore the anarchistic implications of Objectivism.

Jimmy Wales wrote:

"The Objectivist government has a monopoly over the retaliatory use of force, i.e. the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct, in a geographical area. It has this power as a matter of right, and is not subject to dismissal by any particular landowner or other person within the territory. It does not permit competing agencies within its territory. It has a constitution, it has courts, judges, legislators, an executive, police, a military, etc. (It may subcontract out some of those functions, but the key point is that it has final say over those things.)"

So how does the Objectivist government acquire this exclusive right to use retaliatory force, which is ultimately an individual right, unless EVERY person within its sovereign jurisdiction has DELEGATED his or her right to the government?

If you can answer this question, you will have solved a problem that some of the best political minds in history, such as John Locke, have been unable to solve. The standard solution has been to reject express consent in favor of "implied" or "tacit" consent. (These are not the same thing, btw.) This is one of my favorite subjects in political theory, so I hope this is your solution as well. Lysander Spooner thoroughly demolished this approach in his "No Treason" series, as have other political theorists. A fairly recent example is John Simmons in his book, *Consent and Political Obligation.*

Ghs

From: "Peter Taylor" <solarwind47@hotmail.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: Re: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand"

Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 00:06:48 +0000

Jimbo wrote:

But none of this applies to Ayn Rand's theory of government, in which government is _not_ a coercive monopoly. In Ayn Rand's theory, property rights are fully respected, and the government does not _arrogate_ any rights to itself. To the contrary "the government as such has no rights except the rights _delegated_ to it by the citizens for a specific purpose." ("The Nature of Government", VOS, 149)

end quote

I always liked Ayn Rands suggestion that that Government be considered a paid servant. I think this was a description of Governments ultimate function but did not speak of her satisfaction for being an American citizen or her zesty sense of life love for America. She liked her fellow Americans irreverence for elected officials even when they wholly supported the politician. I can imagine her having a little stifled, inwards giggle if someone in the crowd had yelled out Hey, Jack! to President John F. Kennedy. She always tried to keep this paid servant in its proper place yet she felt patriotic and occasionally praised Governments actions.

Jimbo wrote:

Objectivist government has a monopoly over the retaliatory use of force, i.e. the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct, in a geographical area. It has this power as a matter of right, and is not subject to dismissal by any particular landowner or other person within the territory. It does not permit competing agencies within its territory. It has a constitution, it has courts, judges, legislators, an executive, police, a military, etc. (It may subcontract out some of those functions, but the key point is that it has final say over those things.)

end quote

I see some problems with Jimbos paragraph. For instance his phrase, It has this power as a matter of right . . . . might be expressed more correctly as:

An Objectivist Government has a monopoly over the retaliatory use of force *conferred upon it by the consent of the governed.* It permits various jurisdictional agencies within its territory, as long as those agencies uphold the Constitution guaranteeing individual rights. It does not permit agencies within its territory that are at variance with any provisions of the Constitution.

For instance, Judge Wopner, interpreting State Government or the Constitution on TV is upholding the highest laws of the land, though he usually deals with miniscule or microcosmic sections of the law. He has his jurisdiction, and the Federal and State Courts have theirs.

However, what if an Anarchistic Judge Wopner said this?

I am taking my court outside the legal and moral authority of the Constitution. I hereby declare this section of the country as Wopners Confederate States of America. We uphold much of the Constitution of the United States, except we deem it right that landowners can keep other human beings as property.

This is the point where the anarchistic idea of competing legal agencies fails. If a Government legally constituted on individual rights, within a geographical area, for all time, sees the establishment of a competing set of rules, that infringe upon rights, then it has an obligation to protect its citizens within that area.

And furthermore, if any individual, or group simply declares, they are no longer bound by the laws of the constitution in some subsection of the larger area, even if this entity declares it DUPLICATES the laws of the original government, it is an infringement upon the rights of all the citizens and the Government should use retaliatory force, to dissuade the secessionists.

This is true because the final authority to make laws must be in the hands of the Federal Government. If allowed continued existence the competing governments may then create laws that are contrary to the constitution of the land. So, it is a principle of self defense to squelch the law writers who could become lawbreakers.

I think our own history parallels this course. What if the South had won the war? That is always an interesting game of, what if.

George H. Smith wrote:

The primary effect of these eccentric definitions has been to isolate Objectivists and neo-Objectivists from the mainstream of political philosophy, and they have imparted to Objectivism yet another cultish quality that it most certainly doesn't need.

I do not think Neo Objectivism is viewed in such a light. The number of people who are in responsible positions in all walks of life who are fans of Rand is astounding. Her views about limited constitutional government are not fringe theories; they are nearly universally accepted theories among civilized peoples. Even Conservatives accept her ideas but have their own pet moral projects that should be encoded in law. The Conservative exceptions who hate Ayn Rand would be religious conservatives like O'Reilly.

As Mike G. wrote about Anarchism:

No, I don't wish to follow whatever is wildly popular. But you are advocating something that is different from objectivism and opposed by Rand, Branden, Peikoff and even late in life Roy Childs.

Anarchism is not accepted. Is the reason bad press?

Or does it just not spark a response of "fascinating?"

Live long and prosper,

Leonard . . . Nemoy

From: "Peter Taylor" <solarwind47@hotmail.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: Re: Roy Child's "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" (TS)

Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 03:15:04 +0000

George wrote:

So how does the Objectivist government acquire this exclusive right to use retaliatory force, which is ultimately an individual right, unless EVERY person within its sovereign jurisdiction has DELEGATED his or her right to the government?"

While searching through my attic I found this dusty page of legalese:

Each individual born within its sovereign territory, and each individual born outside of its sovereign territory to parents who are its citizens so designates upon his birth as a citizen, and every individual who becomes a naturalized citizen, by objective law, culture and custom within this territory, for all time, delegates the use of retaliatory force to the government.

I just made that up but where is the contradiction? Those who disagree can disagree but STILL not use retaliatory force except in an emergency. They are free to walk about the country. Those citizens who DO agree can also go about their business.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: Restricted covenants and divided property rights

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 05:13:15 -0800

George H. Smith wrote:

>I called it a restrictive covenant because this is my understanding of what you have proposed in your Galt's Gulch example. We discussed this before on another list. As I recall, you are saying that the original proprietors of Galt's Gulch could get together and agree to use the same monopolistic justice agency. They also agree that no one can sell their land without the proviso that future owners will agree to use the same agency, and this proviso is passed down in perpetuity to other owners.

What I have in mind is slightly different from this. The government of Galt's Gulch owns what I'm calling "jurisdictional rights" over the land in the Gulch, and when people buy the land, they are not buying the jurisdictional rights. This is similar to buying land without buying the mineral rights or water rights or view rights.

>This is a restrictive covenant. It is precisely the kind of "dead hand control" that you now claim to reject. As I pointed out, the same scenario could be used to show how blacks could never be permitted on certain land, or how Jake's plumbing company could enjoy a perpetual monopoly on that land. If these cases differ from your hypothetical, then please explain how.

Sure. One big difference between separate ownership of different rights and restrictive covenants is that the former don't give rise to the same issues of "dead hand control".

>Political sovereignty -- which has been the key concept in philosophical discussions about the nature of government since at least the late 16th century -- is the claim of an ultimate and exclusive right (1) to determine what should constitute just and/or legal conduct in a given geographical area; (2) to enact and coercively enforce these rules of conduct known as "laws"; (3) to adjudicate and render final decisions (with *moral* authority) in the event of disputes about the interpretation and/or application of these laws.

In item (2) here do you mean the word "coercively" in the sense of "initiation of force"? Or merely "use of force", perhaps retaliatory only?

>By a "collective right," I mean any right (enforceable moral claim) that is attributed to a group, organization or institution, but which cannot be traced to, or logically derived from, the natural rights of individual moral agents. Political sovereignty (as opposed to self-sovereignty) is a collective right in this sense.

It is possible for an organization to meet the criteria outlined in (1), (2), and (3) above, but without involving a collective right? If not, why not?

>If the institution that Rand calls a "limited government" does not claim the moral right of political sovereignty, then it is not a "government' in any historically recognizable sense of the term.

My view is that with the exception of "initiation of force", Rand's government is sovereign in the sense of (1), (2), and (3), but does not involve collective rights at all.

George H. Smith wrote:

>So how does the Objectivist government acquire this exclusive right to use retaliatory force, which is ultimately an individual right, unless EVERY person within its sovereign jurisdiction has DELEGATED his or her right to the government?

It doesn't. Think of Galt's Gulch, it is fully privately owned, and has specific rules of entry. (Rules which are unlibertarian to an extent, such as the nondisclosure agreement.)

Presumably it will expand through a process of voluntary "annexation", i.e. the acquisition of jurisdictional rights from surrounding legitimate landowners.

Dennis May wrote:

>Even if you got every single person in a geographic area to agree to your terms "voluntarily" the second any law is changed you would have to go back again to receive unanimous consent.

I don't think this particular point is persuasive. It's not unusual for voluntary arrangements to include provisions for unilateral change within some boundaries.

Ellen Moore wrote:

>The point George missed is that Objectivism advocates the voluntary support of its government of Laws, Police Force, and Civil Defense. What "LESS COST" could that mean from any other agency?

Even if contributions are entirely voluntary, certainly the donors could legitimately be concerned with efficiency. Imagine a monopoly government supported entirely from the voluntary contributions of philanthropists, as well as perhaps some fees for services rendered in some cases, but which wastes money with inefficient procedures, exorbitant salaries, etc.

What George wonders is why another agency might not legitimately arise to attract funds from donors by more closely adhering to the wishes of the donors. Would it be initiation of force to stop them?

--Jimbo

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Re: Restricted covenants and divided property rights

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 10:27:41 -0600

I wrote:

"I called it a restrictive covenant because this is my understanding of what you have proposed in your Galt's Gulch example. We discussed this before on another list. As I recall, you are saying that the original proprietors of Galt's Gulch could get together and agree to use the same monopolistic justice agency. They also agree that no one can sell their land without the proviso that future owners will agree to use the same agency, and this proviso is passed down in perpetuity to other owners."

Jimmy Wales replied:

"What I have in mind is slightly different from this. The government of Galt's Gulch owns what I'm calling

"jurisdictional rights" over the land in the Gulch, and when people buy the land, they are not buying the jurisdictional rights. This is similar to buying land without buying the mineral rights or water rights or view rights."

The provision of justice is not some kind of natural resource, like minerals, that is contained within a mass of

land. There is no inherent relationship between land and juridical jurisdiction. This is an inappropriate analogy. You are confusing which aspects or parts of a parcel of land are *transferred* in a sale with what one is permitted to do on or with that parcel *after* one has purchased it. .

The sale of land would normally entail a title that is "absolute" or "in fee simple." This means that there are no

conditions attached to its ownership. Owners would be free to dispose of their own land as they see fit, which includes the right to contract with parties of their choice to provide goods and services.

What you are advocating, and what I described as a "restrictive covenant," is as example of what in common law is know as a "covenant running with land." *Black's Law Dictionary* defines this as: "A covenant which goes with the land, as being annexed to the estate, and which cannot be separated from the land, and transferred without it."

The perpetual covenant in this case is made between the original owner and future owners; it concerns an agreement to patronize one justice agency, and one only. This kind of perpetual agreement is often called a "restrictive covenant" because it restricts the rights that a landowner would otherwise have in fee simple. Indeed, covenants running with land were an essential characteristic of the feudal conception of land tenure, as we see in entail and primogeniture. Your scheme is a variation of this.

I wrote:

"This is a restrictive covenant. It is precisely the kind of "dead hand control" that you now claim to reject. As I

pointed out, the> same scenario could be used to show how blacks could never be permitted on certain land, or how Jake's plumbing company could enjoy a perpetual monopoly on that land. If these cases differ from your hypothetical, then please explain how."

Jimmy replied:

"Sure. One big difference between separate ownership of different rights and restrictive covenants is that the

former don't give rise to the same issues of "dead hand control".

I am not particularly interested in debating the semantics of what you mean by "dead hand control." A covenant running with the land certainly qualifies as this by my standards.

In any case, your Galt's Gulch example raises the following questions.

1) How did the members of Galt's Gulch get the right to secede from the established government to begin with? In setting up their own "government," are they not, in effect, withdrawing their allegiance from the existing government and transferring it to a "competing" agency? This sounds a lot like anarchism to me.

2) Let us accept your scenario for the sake of argument. Let us assume that a legitimate government could be established in this fashion. Are you saying that this is the ONLY manner in which a legitimate government could be established? If so, are you saying that this was Ayn Rand's view as well? I have VERY serious doubts about the latter.

At the very least, your hypothetical would render every government that has ever existed, or is ever likely to

exist, illegitimate -- so it would result in the kind of "practical anarchism" that I described in an article that was posted by Peter Taylor a while back.

I will address your comments about sovereignty in a separate post, when I get the time.

I wrote:

"1) How did the members of Galt's Gulch get the right to secede from the established government to begin with?

Jimmy Wales replied:

"It was not a legitimate government. It was rights violating, and increasingly so."

Now we are getting somewhere.

The Galt's Gulch Gang used their *own* judgments to determine that the established U.S. government was in fact unjust, and on the basis of these judgments they withdrew their allegiance and formed or contracted with another justice agency.

It therefore follows that if, in MY judgment, the Objectivist government is unjust (rights-violating) and will become "increasingly so," I have a right to secede from that government and do business with another agency.

Well, like all anarchists, I happen to believe, based on my best reasoned judgment, that the Objectivist government is, and must necessarily be, rights-violating. I therefore choose to secede from the established government and do business with another agency, just as the Galt's Gulch Gang did.

I presume you have no objections to this, given the inner logic of your argument.

I wrote:

"In setting up their own "government," are they not, in effect, withdrawing their allegiance from the existing government and transferring it to a "competing" agency? This sounds a lot like anarchism to me."

Jimmy replied:

"Well, if so, then doesn't every revolution against tyranny sound like anarchism to you?"

Exactly. Many critics of the rights of resistance and revolution -- from Edmund Burke to David Hume to Adam Smith to Jeremy Bentham -- have insisted that these rights, which vest in each individual the right to decide when governmental injustice should no longer be tolerated, are inherently anarchistic inasmuch as they can only be justified only on anarchistic premises. This has been a major theme in political theory for several hundred years.

In short, I agree with Abraham Lincoln: "Secession is the essence of anarchy."

I wrote:

"2) Let us accept your scenario for the sake of argument. Let us assume that a legitimate government could be established in this fashion. Are you saying that this is the ONLY manner in which a legitimate government could be established?"

Jimmy replied:

"No, I'm not. I _am_ saying that the only manner in which a legitimate government could be established is through the non-initiation of force, but I leave open the possibility that there are many possible routes to that situation."

Such as?

And do any of your "many possible routes" bear the least resemblance to how any government has actually been established in the past, or is likely to be established in the future?

Ghs

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Strange Bedfellows

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 09:55:20 -0800

Ellen Moore wrote:

>Now I'd say that "government anarchy" is a contradiction in itself, but the main point is that he has not proved to me that 'private defense authorities' are NOT government, nor proved to anyone that they will cost less. Does anyone think he has?

I don't think this is looking at things in the right way. You do agree, I think, that provision of government services might be done efficiently or inefficiently, is that right? The question that we're entitled to ask here is: how can we make sure that government services are provided efficiently?

>Jimmy. is this your understanding of a voluntarily supported limited constitutional government based on Objectivist principles? If it is, I don't see that at all. Why would anyone think capitalists like yourself, or any citizens who are paying the cost, voluntarily stand for inefficiency, or exorbitance, or waste in any service of government?

Consider that a government is set up that you and I like: it's a voluntarily supported limited constitutional government based on Objectivist principles. It is a monopoly government, right?

Now, the question that I think people are entitled to ask here is: what if it's inefficient. You're absolutely right that people won't _voluntarily_ stand for inefficiency, exorbitance, or waste, but how exactly are we to prevent it?

>The big problem I see concerning discussion of this issue here on Atlantis is one of omission. No Objectivist here is explaining or defending how a free voluntary government would function to protect individual rights. Now, it's time you did.

Oh, well, then you and I are in 100% agreement. And that's really what I'm trying to get at with my questions to you.

I think one reason that anarchist ideas have appeal to so many people is that minarchists have not given sufficiently helpful answers to legitimate questions, questions like: What about inefficiency?

>No one is arguing for an Objectivist style of government, i.e., one that is formed and supported by rational laws restricting all the services to legitimate objective, legal functions that are supported voluntarily. The surest way to stop any inefficiency, or waste of money, or any forms of corruption is Individuals Do Not Pay!

Can you explain in more detail how this would work, as you see it?

George H. Smith wrote:

>Well, like all anarchists, I happen to believe, based on my best reasoned judgment, that the Objectivist government is, and must necessarily be, rights-violating.

State your case, then. What right is it violating?

--Jimbo

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Re: Restricted covenants and divided property rights

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 12:44:30 -0600

I wrote:

"Well, like all anarchists, I happen to believe, based on my best reasoned judgment, that the Objectivist government is, and must necessarily be, rights-violating."

Jimmy Wales replied:

"State your case, then. What right is it violating?"

The case is presented in the article by Roy Childs, as well as in my article, "In Defense of Rational Anarchism," which was posted earlier by Peter Taylor.

You also stated the same case, quite succinctly I may add, in a recent reply to Ellen Moore -- so I think you know very what I am talking about. If you don't I will give you a hint: It involves a coercive monopoly in which the initiation of force is used to prevent competition with the established government.

Btw, as long as we are involved with stating one's case, I have raised a number of *major* issues that you have not yet addressed. I assume you will do so in later posts. I don't like to thing that you plan to ignore everything that you find uncomfortable or difficult to answer..

Ghs

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Restricted covenants and divided property rights

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 10:51:34 -0800

I wrote:

>"State your case, then. What right is it violating?"

George wrote:

>It involves a coercive monopoly in which the initiation of force is used to prevent competition with the established government.

But I have argued that no initiation of force is involved when we are talking about the Objectivist model of government as presented by Rand.

Clearly we are going around in circles to an extent, so let's try to focus ourselves a bit.

Consider a hypothetical Galt's Gulch, in which the property is solely owned by Midas Mulligan. We can agree that his ownership is absolute, that any claim to the property by anyone else is invalid, that he owes nothing to the prior tyrannical government which has been -- at least on this little area of land -- overthrown.

He invites people in, on his terms. Questions might be raised if his terms were onerous or gave rise to obvious questions of rights violation, but we're assuming that he's a good guy. Basically, he says: come on in, but while you're here, you have to live by my laws. Those laws, it turns out, are quite good. They even include such things as trial by jury, elections to fill positions, enumerated rights in a constitution, and so on.

One of the things expressly agreed to by all who enter is that they will _not_ attempt to start competing governments.

Is it your claim that if some of the newcomers, unprovoked by any particular rights violation, decide to break their agreement and start their own competing government, then they are not initiating force? And that Midas is if he kicks them out of the valley?

>Btw, as long as we are involved with stating one's case, I have raised a number of *major* issues that you have not yet addressed. I assume you will do so in later posts.

Perhaps, if I'm able. But my feeling is that we should focus on one little thing at a time, because these conversations can be very wide-ranging, and trying to do too much at once is not really amenable to progress.

--Jimbo

From: "Peter Taylor" <solarwind47@hotmail.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: Re: Licensing security guards

Date: Tue, 01 Apr 2003 02:00:58 +0000

Jimbo wondered:

But I don't see any rationale for licensing security guards if they really can't do anything that other people can't do.

If licensing is required, it may be governmental oversight that ensures that training, temperament, and a certain level of knowledge (if not actual battle experience) are achieved to perform duties that might require the retaliatory use of force. This licensing procedure could be done without governmental oversight. An ordinary citizen could, in an emergency, perform the same duties, but I would prefer security guards who were well-trained and temperamentally suited for the retaliatory use of force.

What could a well-trained security guard do that an average citizen could not do? Perhaps nothing, except they would perform with added efficiency due to their training. But if there is a later criminal or civil trial to determine the legitimacy of their actions, I think a well-trained Security Guard could safely demand a jury trial and be acquitted, whereas an ordinary citizen might be placed at greater jeopardy for civil penalties.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Re: Restricted covenants and divided property rights

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 21:06:27 -0600

Jimmy Wales wrote:

"State your case, then. What right is it violating?"

I replied:

"It involves a coercive monopoly in which the initiation of force is used to prevent competition with the established government."

Jimmy wrote:

"But I have argued that no initiation of force is involved when we are talking about the Objectivist model of government as presented by Rand."

We are not talking about whether or not you wish to secede from the Objectivist government and do business with another justice agency. We are talking about MY right to do so.

What you happen to believe is not relevant here. The members of your Galt's Gulch Gang GGG) did not solicit the opinion of *other* people before deciding to establish their new "government" (or justice agency -- the label is unimportant in this context). Rather, they used their OWN judgments in reaching the conclusion that the established government was unjust and so no longer deserved their allegiance.

If members of the GGG have the right to make this determination, based on their own reasoning, then so does every other person, including me. Hence if *I * determine that the Objectivist government is fundamentally unjust, then I have the right to withdraw my allegiance from that government, just as members of the GGG do, along with every other individual. This follows from the inner logic of your hypothetical example.

Neither you nor the GGG can claim rights for yourselves that you deny to others. There is no logical way that you can sustain the claim that I have the right to secede only if I can first manage to convince *you* that my arguments are sound.

Jimmy wrote:

"Clearly we are going around in circles to an extent, so let's try to focus ourselves a bit."

No, we are not going around in a circle. You are in a corner, and I am circling in for the kill.

Bill Dwyer wrote:

"Suppose a group of people - call them "founding fathers" - write a constitution, establish a legislature to pass laws according to its guidelines, set up a judiciary to interpret these laws, and deputize an agency to enforce them."

Some questions:

(1) Are the founding fathers already living within the sovereign territory of an established government, in which case they are seceding from that government? Or are they establishing a government ex nihilo, over territory that was not previously claimed by another government?

(2) What is the intended territorial jurisdiction of this constitution, and how is it determined? In other words, are the founding fathers claiming jurisdiction only over their *own* land, or are they claiming jurisdiction over the land of *other* people as well?

(3) If the founding fathers are claiming jurisdiction over territory they don't own, then (a) do they claim sovereignty over people who have not given their consent? Or (b) do they require the "consent of the governed" before they have the right to enforce the provisions of their new constitution?

(4) If the founding fathers do *not* require the consent of the governed, then what principle, if any, could limit the extent of their jurisdiction? For example, could they theoretically claim sovereignty over the entire planet and all of its inhabitants?

(5) If the founding fathers *do* require the consent of the governed, then in what manner should this consent manifest itself? For example, is the consent of the majority sufficient? Or must the founding fathers get the unanimous consent of *every* person over whom they claim jurisdiction? Or perhaps only the consent of every landowner? Moreover, must this consent, from whomever required, be express? Or can it be implied? If implied consent is sufficient, then what criteria do the founding fathers use to determine when this has been given?

Bill, it is nearly impossible to address your other points unless you deal, however briefly, with these fundamental issues. The problem here is that I don't think you can even get your new government off the ground in the first place, at least not if you wish it to be consistent with Rand's theory of individual rights.

Ghs

From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Restricted covenants and divided property rights

Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 04:16:54 -0800

George H. Smith wrote:

>What you happen to believe is not relevant here. The members of your Galt's Gulch Gang GGG) did not solicit the opinion of *other* people before deciding to establish their new "government" (or justice agency -- the label is unimportant in this context). Rather, they used their OWN judgments in reaching the conclusion that the established government was unjust and so no longer deserved their allegiance.

But, if they are wrong, if they are the ones violating rights, then they should pay the price. Right?

>Neither you nor the GGG can claim rights for yourselves that you deny to others. There is no logical way that you can sustain the claim that I have the right to secede only if I can first manage to convince *you* that my arguments are sound.

That's not what I'm saying. You have the right to secede only if you are *right*. The reason I'd like for you to try to convince me that you're right is not to justify your secession, but because we are discussing political philosophy.

So, I repeat my question. Imagine Galt's Gulch, wholly owned by Midas Mulligan. It has a government ("defense agency" if you prefer) that *in your judgment* is generally not violating rights. Entry is restricted to those who agree to abide by the laws therein, one of which, the only one that you find problematic, is that you can't start a competing "defense agency" or "government" within the Gulch so long as your rights are not being violated.

Tim Starr wrote:

>2) Suppose a resident of a proprietary community suddenly real

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I should add that I remember that Jimbo was sometimes critical of my reposting but I could not find his admonishments, or remember why he was against some of my reposts. Maybe he will hear about this thread and respond. I am editing this to say I looked for him among OL members and did not see his name. Perhaps Michael could invite him over for a chat.

Peter

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A chat with Jimmy Wales?

Wouldn't that be a treat.

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Kyle Jacob Biodrowski wrote:

A chat with Jimmy Wales? Wouldn't that be a treat.

end quote

I agree. Ten years ago he was Jimbo Wales, the moderator of the Objectivist site, Atlantis . . . he talked online to us frequently . . . chastised me several times . . . and now he has moved on . . . and on and on . . . powered by financing from some guy who has his own phone and airline company. I am jealous. After offering a modest amount to support his upstart Wikipedia about 12 years ago, my offer was declined.

Now that I have reposted and reread his position on Anarchy I may donate some money. I always thought Wikipedia was an anarchic entity so I may rethink that.

Peter

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Kyle Jacob Biodrowski wrote:

A chat with Jimmy Wales? Wouldn't that be a treat.

end quote

I agree. Ten years ago he was Jimbo Wales, the moderator of the Objectivist site, Atlantis . . . he talked online to us frequently . . . chastised me several times . . . and now he has moved on . . . and on and on . . . powered by financing from some guy who has his own phone and airline company. I am jealous. After offering a modest amount to support his upstart Wikipedia about 12 years ago, my offer was declined.

Now that I have reposted and reread his position on Anarchy I may donate some money. I always thought Wikipedia was an anarchic entity so I may rethink that.

Peter

What?! Now that is interesting.

I had no idea he was once a moderator of an Objectivist site. It appears I have much to learn...

I haven't read the OP yet, but I'll get to it soon.

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Kyle Jacob Biodrowski wrote:

A chat with Jimmy Wales? Wouldn't that be a treat.

end quote

I agree. Ten years ago he was Jimbo Wales, the moderator of the Objectivist site, Atlantis . . . he talked online to us frequently . . . chastised me several times . . . and now he has moved on . . . and on and on . . . powered by financing from some guy who has his own phone and airline company. I am jealous. After offering a modest amount to support his upstart Wikipedia about 12 years ago, my offer was declined.

Now that I have reposted and reread his position on Anarchy I may donate some money. I always thought Wikipedia was an anarchic entity so I may rethink that.

Peter

What?! Now that is interesting.

I had no idea he was once a moderator of an Objectivist site. It appears I have much to learn...

I haven't read the OP yet, but I'll get to it soon.

about 18 years ago, Wales and I exchanged many posts on HPO. He is a very smart man. I had no idea he would become a God so I did not save the posts. That is one of the things I love about the Internet. One can talk with Giants and Gods before they become Giants and Gods.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Kyle,

Re #5:

I'm pretty sure that Jimbo was the moderator or one of the moderators of an Objectivist list which operated long before Atlantis. MDOP, I think it was called, Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy. That was back when you had to print stuff out on barred computer graph paper. My husband subscribed for awhile, but then got tired of the mass of print-outs.

Jimbo was not the originator or owner of Atlantis. That was Kirez Korgan, who previously had run a different list operating from the Cornell University server. Kirez was a student at Cornell. (He's subsequently changed his name, btw; I don't know to what.). Joshua Zader became Kirez' co-moderator. They took turns.

In 1999, Kirez and Joshua set up a family of lists called the WTL family - We The Living. The two biggest of those lists were OWL - Objectivism at We (The) Living - and ATL - Atlantis. There were also a PSYCH list, an art list, a parenting list, and some others.

OWL had the biggest subscribership. It was moderated, by rotating moderators, and there was a per/day posting limit for each poster.

ATL was unmoderated; it had an "anything goes" policy and no per-poster posting limit. For some years it was a free-wheeling place with enormous posting traffic, although never more than 250 subscribers at its peak membership. Arguments there could and non-infrequently did desert "civility."

How Jimbo came into it with Atlantis is that the WTL family of lists was hosted through a server he provided via his business. In 2002, during a discussion which I think pertained to US policy on Iraq, Jimbo was active in a dispute in which he was disagreeing, strongly, with the intensely held opinions of some of the most-prolific posters. Jeff Riggenbach started a thread addressed to Jimbo's arguments and using the words "functional illiterate," a favorite epithet of JR's, in the thread title.

Kirez at that point was pretty much an absentee overseer. He was busy with other things and wasn't following list content. When problems needing executive action arose, people had to email Kirez to get his attention. (There had been one circumstance, I think the only one on the original ATL, when members called for a banning. The object of the request was a particular poster who exceeded the prevailing reluctance to ban with his posting, most every night, streams of drunken and obscenity-laced diatribes.)

When JR started the thread with the insult to Jimbo in the subject line, Jimbo promptly decreed, as an either/or deal - either accept or find a different server - a civility policy with himself as overseer.

One regular promptly started a Yahoo list called Atlantis_II which objectors could use as refuge and retreat. Some persons argued for awhile with Jimbo on the original list. He was adamant. So a large percentage of members, I estimate more than 3/4 of the members, left.

(Edit: By "left" I mean stopped posting on Old Atlantis. Many members stayed subscribed in order to get the posts and keep tabs on what was happening. Sometimes posts from Old ATL were copied onto ATL_II and discussed there.)

I think that Jimbo did not understand the dynamics of the list, and didn't realize that he was wrecking those dynamics. For instance, I happened to be on-line when Jimbo made the announcement. I immediately sent Jimbo an off-list note saying that I for one would not continue posting if he put the policy into effect.

Jimbo was also on-line. He sent back a surprised note. Why would I object?, he didn't understand, I wasn't one of those whom he thought needed moderating. Dense, dense, dense, I thought - and said, not quite using that exact word, at first, to Jimbo himself.

Jimbo's policy destroyed the "alchemy" of the original ATL.

Some posters supported him, including two who were then astonished to find posts of theirs subjected to moderation. Those two were Ellen Moore and Jason Alexander. Ellen Moore stayed, and argued with Jimbo - I imagine causing him to want to tear out his hair (te-he). Jason left.

A few years later, I forget if it was in late 2004 or in 2005, bothering with ATL became more of a nuisance than Jimbo was willing to deal with. Plus the whole WTL family of lists was using server space which he wanted freed for other purposes. Thus he announced that in X months the whole operation would be shut down and the archives would be wiped out. The archives of all the lists were available to be downloaded by members during that lag time.

Atlantis_II had meanwhile become the place where the main action was, although with a missing "edge" of verve because of the missing antagonists who irritated most everyone else. Instead A_2 members had to fight amongst ourselves.

Membership and traffic gradually waned. Today only a handful of "old friends" still chat on A_2. (I still get the posts myself, but I read few of them and almost never blip in with a comment. If I recall right, late 2011 was the last time I said anything on A_2.)

Ellen

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Peter Taylor -- Great blast from the past! Where in the world did you get all this? I thought the archives to WeTheLiving.com were lost long ago in some ghastly computer foul-up.

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Kyrel,

You might pay attention.

Where Peter got the material was as posts. He was subscribed to the list.

And, no, the archives weren't "lost long ago in some ghastly computer foul-up." See my post #7.

Ellen

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Thanks to Ellen Stuttle for that wonderful history of Old Atlantis. I have saved it!

Kyrel Zantonavitch wrote:

Great blast from the past! Where in the world did you get all this? I thought the archives to WeTheLiving.com were lost long ago in some ghastly computer foul-up.

end quote

Thanks, Doctor Z. I think the archives may still be out there. Someone may know. Ah, Ellen already explained. I just saved threads that I enjoyed, and deleted posts I did not like, so my collection is not complete and I lost whole threads when an old computer crashed. Luckily about half the threads were on those old floppy discs.

A few years ago when I was briefly on Atlantis II I searched for a George H. Smith article but I could not find it, or was my search started on OL? It may still be on an unlabeled or mislabeled floppy but I got tired of looking. I used several combinations of key words or phrases supplied by George.

I believe Atlantis II is now primarily for rational anarchists unless I am mixing up some sites. I am not welcome there on Number Two after hypothetically, shooting, hanging, and drawing and quartering George H. Smith at various times. I thought it was funny. I received the wrath of the moderator after I too seriously considered what would happen to an anarchist in a post apocalyptic America at one in the morning.

What would happen after one or more nuclear devices explodes in America? A much more intrusive Federal Government? A less hearty central government? Militias? I think the NSA and the FBI will have more duties. Brrrr!

Peter

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Thanks to Ellen Stuttle for that wonderful history of Old Atlantis. I have saved it!

Please re-save it. I added an edit explaining what I meant about the maybe 3/4 leaving Old ATL. Most of those didn't technically leave. They stayed subscribed in order to get the posts, but they stopped posting on Old ATL.

Ellen

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Ellen -- I participated on, and subscribed to, WeTheLiving/Atlantis forum, and a few others there, but certainly didn't save any discussions. Your history in post #7 is great, but some of what you say doesn't accord with my memory of it, so it'll be interesting to hear if anyone can amplify the WTL history, especially of Atlantis. I thought it was the absolute best Objectivist forum at the time, and it was a shame when it died out. Much of the censorship and banning, which so bedevils all past and current "Objectivist" discussion forums, was missing (except for the end). The fact is no-one should be occasionally or permanently "moderated" unless they're grossly off-topic or engaging in extreme ad hominem. One thing I do remember from long ago: then as now whenever someone was censored or banned the supporters of this anti-Objectivist monstrosity were legion, while the advocates of free discussion were close to non-existent.

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Kyle,

Re #5:

I'm pretty sure that Jimbo was the moderator or one of the moderators of an Objectivist list which operated long before Atlantis. MDOP, I think it was called, Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy. That was back when you had to print stuff out on barred computer graph paper. My husband subscribed for awhile, but then got tired of the mass of print-outs.

...

Ellen

Hmmm. Now, that brings back memories. Probably the first list I ever contributed to was called something like, "Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy," and I remember there being someone named "Jimbo" and I remember Eyal Moses being a member. I never made the connection between Jimbo and Jimmy Wales until today, but I'll have to look in my archives to see whether I saved any exchanges.

I probably joined the list around 1988 or '89 and continued through '94, though I can't be really certain. I'll have to turn the crank on the "Way Back Machine," as Michael likes to say, and see what I can come up with. I guess I pretty much lost touch with everyone after I started working.

Thanks for saving those archives, Ellen!

Darrell

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Ellen -- I participated on, and subscribed to, WeTheLiving/Atlantis forum, and a few others there, but certainly didn't save any discussions. Your history in post #7 is great, but some of what you say doesn't accord with my memory of it, so it'll be interesting to hear if anyone can amplify the WTL history, especially of Atlantis.

Specifically what in my report doesn't accord with your memory? How is one to answer a non-specific statement?

I thought it [Atlantis] was the absolute best Objectivist forum at the time, and it was a shame when it died out. Much of the censorship and banning, which so bedevils all past and current "Objectivist" discussion forums, was missing (except for the end).

There wasn't "censorship and banning" on Old Atlantis even after the civility policy. Jimbo attempted to "work with" offenders - who were few, since most who would have been offenders were no longer posting there.

The fact is no-one should be occasionally or permanently "moderated" unless they're grossly off-topic or engaging in extreme ad hominem. One thing I do remember from long ago: then as now whenever someone was censored or banned the supporters of this anti-Objectivist monstrosity were legion, while the advocates of free discussion were close to non-existent.

Well, that doesn't square with my memory of the WTL lists. The advocates of free discussion were numerous and those of censorship and banning few on the other lists, as I recall. On ATL, censorship or banning was such an anathema thought, there was trouble getting folks to vote for a ban even in extreme cases.

Ellen

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Hmmm. Now, that brings back memories. Probably the first list I ever contributed to was called something like, "Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy," and I remember there being someone named "Jimbo" and I remember Eyal Moses being a member. I never made the connection between Jimbo and Jimmy Wales until today, but I'll have to look in my archives to see whether I saved any exchanges.

I probably joined the list around 1988 or '89 and continued through '94, though I can't be really certain. I'll have to turn the crank on the "Way Back Machine," as Michael likes to say, and see what I can come up with. I guess I pretty much lost touch with everyone after I started working.

Thanks for saving those archives, Ellen!

Darrell

Darrell,

Peter Taylor is the one who posted the material from (Old) ATL. I have much of the material, kept as individual posts, on an old computer, but I don't have the complete archives. (Neither does Peter, according to his own report.)

Somewhere I might still have scraps of stuff from MDOP. I'll keep a watch out in my sortings through old papers. I'm sure Jimbo was a participant, just not certain of his exact status on that list in regard to doing or sharing the moderator role.

Ellen

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Hmmm. Now, that brings back memories. Probably the first list I ever contributed to was called something like, "Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy," and I remember there being someone named "Jimbo" and I remember Eyal Moses being a member. I never made the connection between Jimbo and Jimmy Wales until today, but I'll have to look in my archives to see whether I saved any exchanges.

I probably joined the list around 1988 or '89 and continued through '94, though I can't be really certain. I'll have to turn the crank on the "Way Back Machine," as Michael likes to say, and see what I can come up with. I guess I pretty much lost touch with everyone after I started working.

Thanks for saving those archives, Ellen!

Darrell

Darrell,

Peter Taylor is the one who posted the material from (Old) ATL. I have much of the material, kept as individual posts, on an old computer, but I don't have the complete archives. (Neither does Peter, according to his own report.)

Somewhere I might still have scraps of stuff from MDOP. I'll keep a watch out in my sortings through old papers. I'm sure Jimbo was a participant, just not certain of his exact status on that list in regard to doing or sharing the moderator role.

Ellen

Sorry, Peter. Thank YOU for keeping the archives! That piece by Eyal Moses helped to jog my memory. He was one of the best participants on the old list and his name is too unique to forget.

But, thank you Ellen for that piece of history about the Moderated Discussion of Objectivism, etc. That was the piece in the puzzle that allowed me to connect Jimbo to Jimmy Wales.

Darrell

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In regard to the first post (#1): I wonder what happened to Tim Starr, who went off the tracks supporting the Iraq war in 2003, starting his own war-hoopla Yahoo list.

Thx, Ellen, for the detailed memory of them times.

Anyone remember the old "The John Galt Line" from +20 years ago?

Al this precious Internet stuff will evaporate eventually, so take notes. But I'll never forget Jimmy Wales unconsciously destroying something precious he did not understand. The sheer effrontery of stupidity. Then he created Wikipedia. Go figure. I figure no matter how smart you are about whatever number of things the left over ignorance is almost infinite and when you go there get educated. Then come down the mountain.

--Brant

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I figure no matter how smart you are about whatever number of things the left over ignorance is almost infinite and when you go there get educated. Then come down the mountain.

--Brant

I know zero about Jimmy Wales, but once again I am learning that Brant Gaede is pretty damn smart.

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Reading this discussion about Atlantis reminds me of my first ever comment on the internet, on that forum, on 9/11:

Take their gas

And kick their ass.

Nuke 'em till they glow!

Perhaps if I had been of greater wisdom or nobler soul I would have said:

Reject the philosophy of Islam, religion, and irrationality, with all its consequent personal misery, and social destruction, as we saw today. Embrace the philosophy of reason in epistemology, individualism in ethics, and freedom in politics, with all its consequent pleasure, greatness, and happiness!

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Reading this discussion about Atlantis reminds me of my first ever comment on the internet, on that forum, on 9/11:

Kyrel,

Had you been subscribed to any of the WTL lists before 9/11?

Ellen

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I figure no matter how smart you are about whatever number of things the left over ignorance is almost infinite and when you go there get educated. Then come down the mountain.

--Brant

I know zero about Jimmy Wales, but once again I am learning that Brant Gaede is pretty damn smart.

Now, work on your retention!

--Brant

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Reading this discussion about Atlantis reminds me of my first ever comment on the internet, on that forum, on 9/11:

Take their gas

And kick their ass.

Nuke 'em till they glow!

Perhaps if I had been of greater wisdom or nobler soul I would have said:

Reject the philosophy of Islam, religion, and irrationality, with all its consequent personal misery, and social destruction, as we saw today. Embrace the philosophy of reason in epistemology, individualism in ethics, and freedom in politics, with all its consequent pleasure, greatness, and happiness!

I rather like the first statement. It tickles me, even though I know it is not a practical recommendation.

I have a Golum-Smeagol attitude toward Islam. We hates it precioussss.......

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Ellen wrote:

Please re-save it.

end quote

Thank you Ellen, I resaved it. But I first corrected three obvious spelling errors. I left your spellings of “subscribership” and “unmoderated” which Microsoft identified as spelling errors, as is.

Peter

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Kyrel wrote:

Ellen -- I participated on, and subscribed to, WeTheLiving/Atlantis forum,

end quote

I found a few from an Andre Z, but I could find nothing under Kyrel. Is this you? And why the name change?

Peter

From: Andre Zantonavitch <zantonavitch@yahoo.com
To: atlantis@wetheliving.com
Subject: ATL: Re: The Nature Of Evil
Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 12:58:13 -0800 (PST)

Yesterday in Atlantis, Chris Sciabarra raised the question of the Nature of Evil. This is a vast subject, but I will try to make two little-known points.

I think the battle between Good and Evil is timeless and permanent. We'll never escape it and we'll always have to ferociously fight it -- often for our very lives. Human existence in this regard, as in most regards, is continuous effort -- and perhaps continuous pain.

But the good news is that Good, in my judgment, is always a little stronger than Evil; and, in the long run, Virtue always wins out over Vice. As long as we work hard and smart -- often enough Evil works thus -- our ultimate victory is assured. In real life, Dirty Harry and Rambo will almost always win. I think Zarathustra first observed this about 2500 years ago (and the three major religions today all copied him).

But despite the basic friendliness of Father Reality and metaphysical existence, I think that all the major Objectivist thinkers of today have a seriously mistaken notion of what's usually happening in the realm of morality. They don't really understand how this ultra-familiar good/evil confrontation generally takes place. Morality is mainly a personal issue and philosophic problem -- not a social one. The vast majority of difficult and important battle royals take place inside our own heads and hearts. Defeating the external bad guys is actually somewhat rare and unimportant.

But you wouldn't know that to read Rand, Peikoff, Kelley, etc. -- and not even Branden (who as a psychologist probably has special insight). They mostly seem to focus on politics and economics in their philosophizing, when the main job of philosophers is more in the area of self-improvement/education, self-empowerment/realization, meaning, purpose, friendship, love, spirituality, etc. Most of the universe we inhabit is self-created -- and other people simply have nothing to do with it, either for good or ill. It's pretty easy to forget this when you read current Objectivism!

This is one reason why I personally tend to be rather sympathetic to such consistently selfish philosophies as Epicureanism, and Stoicism -- and even oriental martial arts philosophy, Confucianism and bits of the more rational Hinduism (the Upanishads, mainly). It's pretty easy to discard the mystical elements in these last three Eastern philosophies -- separating wheat from chaff -- and then to obtain good information on focusing one's mind, centering one's being, and effectively searching for inner peace, etc.

Objectivism as it's currently taught is quite a letdown in this regard. It's also so socially/other-orientated in this respect that it tends to show a gratuitously gloomy and angry face to the world -- which is a giant reason why so many healthy, happy, upbeat people instinctively reject it. Objectivists need to spend more time and effort reforming ourselves, and not the world (which is fundamentally out of our control and none of our business).

But despite this altruism -- as I somewhat provocatively call it -- current Objectivism doesn't even handle much of its social morality properly! Very likely this represents the opposite side of the same false coin.
This other important moral area, ironically enough, where today's Objectivist thinkers clearly seem to let us down is in the realm of revenge. Now, in today's world, that's one hell of a mistake! The world today is chock-a-bloc full of bad guys. And rational healthy Objectivists (such as we are) particularly want to go after them and have just cause to do so, generally speaking. Many flagitious people nowadays deeply need to "get what's coming to them" and "get what they deserve." I think we all know a few of these! :-)

Current Objectivism rather altruistically doesn't deal with this. Almost everyone foolishly thinks they're "above" this, and elects not to "degrade" themselves, or get their hands dirty and nose bloody. But this is like being "too hip for the room" and too cool for reality! This sham-lofty attitude seems unreal, and not a part of life as we all actually live it. And since a large part of criminal justice is revenge anyway, it's really impossible to avoid dealing with this in society. Even elementary "sticking up for your friends" requires a certain amount of holy vengeance.

People rather jocularly say "don't get mad, get even!" -- but a rational person clearly gets both. You don't want to be cruel or pollute yourself internally or mistakenly fall into the realm of evil yourself -- but you do want some version of "equality" and "closure." And, after all, a nice sweet wondrous act of richly-deserved red-hot revenge can leave you smiling beatifically all day long! :-)

And this is not just a liberating cathartic pleasure for yourself -- it's a personal obligation. You're evil if you don't do it.

And not just personally evil, but socially as well. Basically, any such "superior" person has disturbed the natural order of the cosmos, and violated the unwritten social contract. He's refused to do his part to "do unto others as they do unto you." Such an irresponsible amoral selfless individual is -- in addition to needlessly wounding himself -- guilty of wantonly allowing social evil to prosper and thus betraying the Brotherhood of Man.

Of course, this is only a partial exegesis of the Nature of Evil. But I hope I thoughtfully addressed some of Chris Sciabarra's important questions, and made at least two important (related) points.
Zanton

From: "zantonavitch" <zantonavitch@yahoo.com>

Reply-To: Starship_Forum@yahoogroups.com

To: Starship_Forum@yahoogroups.com

Subject: [starship_Forum] Re: Philosophy Cafes and Bars

Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 08:42:49 -0000

Monart Pon and Phil Knight recently wrote of a new phenomenon called "Philosophy Cafes" which are supposedly already well- established in France. This may be a nice new variation on populist "poetry slams." It basically sounds like a terrific idea, and something we really need here in America and New York City.

It reminds me of the French "salons" in the Voltaire/Encyclopediast era, as well as Samuel Johnson's "Literary Club" back during what I consider the liberal height of human civilization (the late 1700s). The classic Greeks considered conversation a high art, and I think this very true, even tho' in today's Dark Age culture this art is

quite poorly-practiced and undervalued. It's worth noting that when the Greeks discussed matters of high import, they usually did so reclining on a couch, with "libations" and light snacks, with a flute player playing in the background, and with occasional breaks for erotic diversion. This sounds good to me!! Maybe some private strip club somewhere could supply all of this -- or the modern equivalent -- for a fairly moderate price. Just a thought...

Andre Z

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Kyrel wrote:

Ellen -- I participated on, and subscribed to, WeTheLiving/Atlantis forum,

end quote

I found a few from an Andre Z, but I could find nothing under Kyrel. Is this you? And why the name change?

C'est moi! Perhaps I became a bit more user-unfriendly or defiant. I dropped my old nickname on the internet, and in real life too. My official legal name is tough and odd, both first and last, but I'm sticking to it.

Interesting first post from me you added, Peter!

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