RE: Ben's "Extropian Creed"

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Nov 13 2000 - 21:40:15 MST

Damn straight. The majority of Russian immigrants I've known have
gravitated to extreme
right-wing views, as a direct reaction to their first-hand experience of the
inefficiency and
terrifying oppressiveness of governments.

On the other hand, one of the Russian immigrants I admire most, Valentin
Turchin, has not adopted this
sort of view, in spite of having been run out of the USSR for publishing his
controversial (to them) views
on politics and systems theory....

Just to clarify, I am not a communist (nor a pinko ;) ... and I'm not a huge
fan of the current US
political system either (though it seems to work remarkably well compared to
most existing alternatives ...
when I lived in Australia and NZ, I felt that the systems there were
somewhat superior in various ways).

I suppose that, as in all living systems, the optimal politics is a matter
of balance. Striving for pure
equality fails, as does striving for pure individual freedom. The correct
point is somewhere in the middle,
and as for exactly where -- we have no science to tell us. I don't think
extreme libertarians are any more
correct than extreme communists ... but they've never taken over a country,
so this hasn't been proven ;>


> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Michael LaTorra
> Sent: Monday, November 13, 2000 11:26 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: Ben's "Extropian Creed"
> Ben,
> 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!
> Regards,
> Michael LaTorra
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of
> Ben Goertzel
> Sent: Monday, November 13, 2000 8:43 PM
> To:
> 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
> <snip>
> 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).
> <snip>
> ben

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