RE: Ben's "Extropian Creed"

From: Michael LaTorra (
Date: Mon Nov 13 2000 - 21:26:19 MST

I only knew Sasha through e-mail, so I cannot make any valid comments about
his thinking as expressed in the conversations you had with him. But I am
curious about the fact that you never mentioned the formative effect on his
thinking of having grown up under a totalitarian socialist regime.

Perhaps Sasha was driven to his libertarian philosophy by witnessing the
utter failure of Russian utopian socialism on its own terms: it did not
create the workers' paradise of wealth and freedom that it promised, but
rather delivered the complete opposite in the form of poverty and
oppression. And what happened in Russia has occurred in every other
"scientific socialist"/communist regime in history.

It seems to be that the domain of economics and social systems is nearly as
paradoxical as quantum physics. If we strive for equality of outcomes, we
decrease the aggregate wealth while increasing the opportunities for a
ruling elite to grab a larger proportion for themselves. Paradoxically, if
we simply strive for freedom of opportunity, we increase the aggregate
wealth and also the gap between rich and poor, while at the same time giving
those poor an absolute (not relative) level of wealth than is much greater
than what they would enjoy under an egalitarian socialist regime.

Go figure!


Michael LaTorra

-----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf Of
Ben Goertzel
Sent: Monday, November 13, 2000 8:43 PM
Subject: RE: Ben's "Extropian Creed"

There are many things to say on this topic, and for starters I'll say only a
few of them
This really gets back to the point that, although Sasha and I had very
different nominal political philosophies,
we actually lived our lives in very similar ways. (Well, he was single,
whereas I'm married with 3 kids ... he
was a Russian immigrant and I'm not ... so we weren't exactly clones ... but
on the spectrum of human beings
we came pretty damn close together). Only, I always felt guilty about not
spending more time helping the needy (not being comfortable with the "ends
justifies the means" approach),
whereas he always felt bad about not making a lot of money (because to him
money was an objective measure of value).

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