“Every freedom we have in the United States, every one of them, was given to us by congressional regulation. It’s called the Bill of Rights. That is what gives us our freedom and yet it was from the government. It was government regulation.”
Bottom line is that there will be regulators. The choice is between regulation by those that own the infrastructure or by a democratically elected government.
So you already have freedom of speech. And the Government is not allowed to restrict it with any new law. The US Constitution was not made to give you rights, but to restrict the Government from taking them (although it seems lately they don't seem to even acknowledge the Constitution exists, and people should be more outraged about that, because if the trend continues, it's not a matter of "if" it will hurt you, but "when").
Wozniak is wrong on that one. I think he got a little confused thinking about net neutrality. But net neutrality plays into this very well too. We already have the freedom of net neutrality, because that's how the Internet has always worked.
Net neutrality just ensures that the companies can't restrict it or abuse it in any way. This is exactly what Al Franken said in the interview with TheVerge, too:
I don't think there's anything like this in the US Constitution, but net neutrality is trying to be just another bill of rights basically, saying no one can restrict or control how you're using the Internet. It's just that it's a law, not an amendment to the Constitution (though maybe it should be).
That's very idealistic, and I'm glad I live in a country where this fiction is enshrined at such a base level.
In reality, we are born, human creatures, unto a world with billions and billions of other human creatures. The only rights we really have on this Earth are the ones the other creatures around us let us have. If preserving the fiction that we aren't collectively (or often individually) the sole arbiters of the rights of others means increased liberty to some degree, I'll take that.
But yeah, semantically you're spot on. The Bill of Rights clearly concedes the authority to a higher power than the government.
If you take this position, what's the use of defining a concept of "rights" at all? The very notion is meant to describe something retained by individuals irrespective of their relations with others, as a means of establishing consistent boundaries within which we undertake those very relations.
If you're going to locate the origin of rights within the context of those social relations, how could you distinguish a violation of one's rights from merely not having those rights in the first place? What purpose could the notion serve here?
It's not a position to take as much as a description of reality.
I think you're confusing my observation of the reality we live in with some sort of endorsement (which does not exist).
I thought I was pretty clear that my position is that I am glad we have enshrined a belief system that cites the premise that we have certain inalienable rights. In our case, this ideal is adopted, and our claim to those rights are enshrined into law.
>The very notion is meant to describe something retained by individuals irrespective of their relations with others, as a means of establishing consistent boundaries within which we undertake those very relations.
As I said, I believe rights do exist. I simply am aware of the fact that we, as people, grant them to ourselves and others. Rights being granted by a higher power or some outside authority...that is an illusion, and just one belief system among many of one group of people granting the rights (among many groups).
Edit: But really, the simplest way to illustrate my point is that if you tell me you have inalienable rights, and I smirk and say "says who?", what will you answer? Just because we wish to have intrinsic protections in our existence doesn't mean we do.
A purely empirical description of reality would, of course, regard the notion of "rights", "government", and "society" as mere abstractions that have no autonomous existence, and are merely ideas in the minds of human beings.
An explication of this empirical understanding would recognize that human beings use abstract ideas to mediate their experience of the world, and that the value of ideas is to be found in the utility they provide to those who bear them.
So, accepting the reality that we live in is one filled with human beings who mediate their experience of life - and their relationships with each other - via conscious ideas, the discussion turns to evaluating the utility of those ideas; there's no other "reality" to explore.
This is completely consistent with what I've been saying. The fiction of a set of inalienable rights granted to us by an omnipotent power is a fiction, or 'abstraction' if you will.
Couldn't agree more with this post.
But we can indeed explore the empirical existence of the ideas that human beings employ in their undertaking of life, and make useful distinctions between those which have their origin in the nature of the individual prior to his social relations, and those which are a product of the social relations themselves.
Personally, I regard them as one in the same. The State is just a proxy of the will of the community one finds himself in, and Divinity just a proxy of man's will subscribed to and enforced by other men of belief.
Neither are omnipotent, but rather omnipresent as long as one finds himself surrounded by other people, and while they are not omnipotent, they are plenty powerful, -especially compared to a lone individual in most cases.
Communities don't bootstrap themselves - they evolve out of the willing participation of individuals, and when the meditative mechanisms of that community fall to the manipulation of one faction or another, communities can and do break apart.
Taking the existence of a stable social framework for granted is very dangerous, and the concept of "rights" is one of the tools we employ precisely to protect that social framework's substantive foundation.
This is called 'positive rights' and 'negative rights'. Negative rights are your rights and the government is not allowed to restrict them, they prevent the government from doing a thing. Positive rights are where the government is required to act to ensure you actually have the right to something. (e.g. the right to a fair and speedy trial requires the government to set up a courts system that is able to handle the load, they can't just have 1 court for the whole country that has a waiting list of 100 years, some places have "a right to education" which requires the state to set up and fund schools).
Some constitutions & binding declarations of rights have positive and negative rights. E.g. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union has been interpreted to include positive rights. I have no idea of the US situation.
It would be interesting if 'Freedom of speech' was a positive right. What would happen then...
(more details http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_rights )
Well there's the speedy trial thing. There's also the right to an attorney which turned from a negative right into a positive right.
So the government isn't actually required to give you a lawyer; it just can't put you in jail if it doesn't.
Two distinct ideas appear to have been confounded together under the mantle of "rights" here, and we can't find fault in those seeking to clean up the confusion.
We can, however, find fault with those who seek to intentionally prevaricate in order to artificially apply the connotations earned by one idea to the other, and this includes those governments that try to define goods which must be acquired within society as being within the category of "rights".
Mandates that a particular institution must do one thing or another are outside the scope of the theory of rights - this is just policy, which, in a just and healthy political system, is restrained from transgressing against the rights of individuals, but is by definition incapable of altering the nature of those rights.
Eppur si muove (Italian for 'and yet it moves', fabled as what Galileo said when signing his confession that the sun goes around the sun). Some jurisiticions recognise positive rights. Ergo they exist.
outside the scope of the theory of rights - this is just policy
Again, some jurisiticions recognise these as not a mere policy, but as rights of a person.
This is, of course, due to imprecision in those people's use of symbolic identifiers: those who possess a higher-resolution semantic repertoire might instead call the thing being observed a 'canary', and regard it has having little ontological connection to a banana.
It's not what the government allows you to do.
It's what we allow and not allow the government to do.
That a time would come when people came to believe their basic rights only existed by virtue of the bill of rights.
For more on this point of view see:
The Bill of Rights regulates the actions which government may perform upon individuals, not the actions which individuals may perform upon each other. For instance, no article of the constitution ensures that murder is illegal.
There is a difference between constitutional law, common law, statuatory law, and regulatory law. Wozniak's phrase "congressional regulation" perhaps best describes only the last two categories.
Want two wives, nope sorry.
Marry someone same sex, maybe depends where you live.
Even otherwise-market-oriented Hayek argued that to some extent, in arguing for why the state should provide national defense and a social safety net. In his view, it increased individual freedom for there to be a large protective umbrella that handled defense and the basic safety-net, within which individuals could move freely. Otherwise those services are provided by tribalist groupings, which set up numerous boundaries and entanglements diminishing scope for unencumbered individual decision-making: society becomes more about those groups, acting as collectives, with less of a role for individual action.
Human society itself is a "network effect", and the ability to form connections within that network without artificial constraint is the definition of freedom.
Society is defined by what you're calling "boundaries and entanglements", or what less cynical people might call "well-defined communities and relationships"; there's never room for completely unencumbered individual decision-making: individuals are always constrained by the laws of nature and the existence of those other people with whom they share a common social space. Maximizing individual liberty means maximizing individuals' ability to choose whether to participate in a particular social context, whether to opt out and go it alone, or whether to attempt to forge their own new social context. Flattening down all of the boundaries and subjecting all social contexts to monopolistic rules only reduces choice and makes one social context dominate over all others - this is hardly a path to freedom.
I admit, though, that I've got no idea what a "burbclave" is - I understand it's a concept from Snow Crash, which, regrettably, I have yet to read. Could you elaborate on this?
I think Hayek more or less gets it right that to maximize individualism, rather than the coalition-of-tribalist-groups type society, you need a background "container" of sorts that provides basic physical safety to everyone in a territory. Once national security and a basic safety net are taken care of, now individuals do not fear being killed or starving to death, and can make more rational, less fear-based choices about which groups within that territory to further associate with. For example, I can choose to attend a church if I believe in it, but I won't worry that if I cut ties with the church they'll cut me off and I'll starve or be shot.
"Burbclaves" in Snow Crash are essentially city-states set up by companies which operate their own defense/laws/etc., in the absence of traditional governments. If one asks, what would replace governments if we abolished them, I think the answer would be something like that: super-powerful homeowners' associations with weapons, which would grow into de-facto new governments. I don't think that would really be superior to the current governments.
You already have to do this, do you not? Almost all of the elements of your life which you rely on for sustenance and safety are things which you acquire within the context of the specific network of relationships you participate in. The state doesn't feed you, house you, or otherwise care for you; it certainly doesn't provide you with anything higher up on Maslow's pyramid. Your experience of life includes participation in specific social contexts, and acquisition of happiness and security within the relationships therein established, no matter what.
I think that your mistake here is to anthropomorphise the abstractions of "ethnic groups", "corporations", etc. and to view these as something other than coalitions of individuals.
You're seeing civil society as a radio-button selection from which you can select one of a limited number of predefined institutional models, rather than to see it as a free-form text entry field within which you can create whatever network of relationships with particular people you mutually desire.
> maximize individualism, rather than the coalition-of-tribalist-groups type society, you need a background "container" of sorts that provides basic physical safety to everyone in a territory
A system of law, rooted in the custom and shared expectations of the participants and used by them as a means of mediating their social relations, is that "container". An organized group of people is just another group of people, and vesting control of the system of law in the hands of such a group actually inhibits its ability to serve as a mediative tool for and by the members of society; the law itself simply becomes an instrument in the hands of one particular "tribalist group".
Thinking of all law as positive law promulgated in top-down fashion by the state is a key deficiency of the modern mindset.
> now individuals do not fear being killed or starving to death, and can make more rational, less fear-based choices about which groups within that territory to further associate with
Of course, in reality, people indeed do continue to fear being killed or starving to death, because these risks still exist, and activities of the institutional state are motivated by these fears just as much as the activities of any other social institution.
And, with the state, you've very much created an institution for which cutting ties will lead to your being "cut off", likely to "starve or be shot".
In the former scenario, you at least had a pluralistic, multi-polar civil society filled with other institutions you could turn to, and the freedom create new ones, if you were "cut off". If the monopolist state "cuts you off", you've got no recourse.
> I don't think that would really be superior to the current governments.
I'd argue that a large number of smaller governments is superior to a small number of large ones, and that a situation in which people can establish new governments and sever their attachments to old ones, both with relative ease, is superior to one in which they cannot, or can only do so with great difficulty.
If absolute individual autonomy were universal, the situation could reasonably be described as 7+ billion independent governments; but we wouldn't tend to describe it that way, because we attach certain connotations of institutional rigidity to the notion of "government" which adhere less and less as social contexts become smaller and more organic.
Really? I live in Denmark, and do not fear either of those things. I suppose there is a small chance of being murdered, but not a large one. And even in the worst case where I somehow was completely unable to work and suffered severe disability, I would be entitled to basic housing, food, and medical care, because those are considered basic rights of all residents. That's what I mean by a basic framework for society that removes that fear element, by guaranteeing to everyone minimum physical safety and sustenance. Once that fear is removed, people can make voluntary and rational decisions on how to interact with each other, which are less coerced than in the case where it's an "offer" to do X or starve.
To me, that maximizes individual freedom and decision-making capability. Essentially the only downside is that if I make a lot of money, more of it will go to taxes than would if I lived in the United States. But paying some taxes doesn't seem like a large imposition on freedom to me, especially in comparison to the gains.
I'm glad some of those options are not available to others, yes.
America, in spite of its contradictions, was to a significant extent based on the idea of "inalienable rights", and is why it was so successful. The verbiage in The Bill of Rights was intended to recognize, not confer rights, and it was intended to restrain government from violating them.
Legal rights are conferred by law, and would not exist if not for law. The right to run for President is a legal right, because the office of the President would not have existed if not for the U.S. Constitution.
Natural rights, on the other hand, exist regardless of law. Nobody is supposed to rape you, not only because the law says so, but also because you have a right to decide who you have sex with. If the law does not prosecute rapists, the law is wrong, and you still have the right.
The U.S. Constitution is remarkable not only because it created (legal) rights that didn't exist before, but also because it finally recognized so many (natural) rights that used to be blatantly ignored by despots.
Of course, whether "freedom of information" is a natural right or a legal right is a contentious matter. Most likely, it has components of both.
Government is a set of people, and rights arise from consensus and practice among those people. When the Founders spoke about "rights" they were referring to those recognized by British consensus and practice.
This is unfortunately common, so that most freedoms cannot actually be realized without the help of law and the judicious use of institutional force, far beyond what I or almost any citizen can personally wield. And it is not even vaguely exceptional that the source of the problem is coming from non-governmental entities.
Law is much more than "a set of people."
I think it's fairly clear that the Constitution is also intended to restrain non-Governmental entities from violating personal rights. Otherwise, the 13th Amendment would only make Government slavery unconstitutional while reserving it to the states or the people, which would be nonsensical and useless.
The rights of plantation slaves have surely existed all along, but they didn't make any difference until a lot of blood was spilled to change things.
That's question-begging a bit. If I hire you for my radio show and you say something stupid on the air, am I not allowed to fire you, lest that be a violation of your personal right to free speech? If I refuse to sell you a gun, am I denying you your right to bear arms?
Otherwise, the 13th Amendment would only make Government slavery unconstitutional while reserving it to the states or the people, which would be nonsensical and useless.
That seems to argue against point. If the whole Constitution was meant to restrict non-governmental actors, then they wouldn't have limited it just to slavery.
Also, the Fourteenth Amendment generally applies the restrictions on the Federal government to State governments. I'm unaware of any restrictions it places on non-goverments.
I mean this guy just happened to be co-founder of Apple. He hasn't been with Apple for like 20+ years and hasn't done anything noteworthy for decades.
Does it really matter what he says?
Yes. It matters a lot what this guys says because every self proclaimed journalist want to talk to this guy and he happens to speak for what a lot of people are thinking but not get the exposure he does.
Nobody at Apple created anything similar revolutionary and magical after Woz made the Apple II.
I wish we had the same freedom here in HN, but we don't, and I'm not sure why: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4385454
"Men must be governed. Often not wisely I will grant you but they must be governed nonetheless."
"That's the excuse of every tyrant in history. From Nero to Bonaparte. And I for one am opposed to authority. It is the egg of misery and oppression."
"You've come to the wrong shop for anarchy, brother."
And from the RT interview:
"The trouble is, a lot of it [network neutrality] has to be enforced by the government, and conservative types and libertarian types say 'government shouldn't have any say and control over that; that takes away our freedom.' Wrong. It takes away the freedom of the companies that are taking away the freedom from us."
I'd assume the clip from youtube is meant to reinforce the inherent necessity of an authority to enforce order. The "conservative types and libertarian types" would likely consider authority the "egg of misery and oppression." But Wozniak argues that "men must be governed. Often not wisely... but they must be governed nonetheless." Wozniak is addressing the oft-repeated mantra amongst conservative and libertarian types that government is inherently inefficient and should be limited in order to maximize freedom; his argument is to highlight the paradoxical observation that from a lack of authority grows the very oppression -- non-neutral networking -- that these types claim to deplore.
I agree with that, but with the distinction of natural and force authority, as e.g. Erich Fried or Noam Chomsky make it. If a little kid runs on the street, and the parent (or even a random stranger for that matter!) grabs it by the arm to save it from harm, the kid has NO vote, and that is fine. Everybody knows and understands that.
In that sense I agree with some regulation being needed to stop people infringing each other's freedom; but I strongly have to disagree with governance for the sake of governance. CHILDREN must be governed, not free men. Free men govern themselves. That is an important distinction, and anyone who shrugs it off is certainly my enemy.
Governance is NOT the end, and actually, all authority which is justifiable should also always seek, or at least hope, to be obsolete some day. E.g. the child grows up, or people are too busy prospering in peace to deceive and oppress each other, and have inherited the values and methods you teached them. But as long as you have to "be the parent", you haven't solved the problem, you just made it possible for all parties to survive until it is solved.
And always watch out for secretly not wanting the other to grow up, your own authority becoming obsolete. Kafka said this about parents and their children, how parents tend to use them just based on petty ego - how much more is it true for structures of huge power, and insane profits. Sure, Apple ain't the firm I associate with grown up stuff and equals considering others equals; but even broken clocks get it right twice a day. Still, the devil is in the details. I'd rather have eternal vigilance and freedom than rounding a corner here and there.
This is silly non-sense rhetoric. Complex systems need organization. The more complex, the more organization is required. It's something you see throughout nature, at all scales. "Natural rights" and whatnot is just mumbo-jumbo with no empirical basis.
As for organization versus authority, the latter is a means of implementing the former. So long as we are animals, and the only biological fact in play is that we are indeed animals, authority with the threat of force will always be necessary to organize us.
Oh ffs. you really think I was talking about biological children? Or that parents are always right, and children always wrong, just because those are the roles? nah. I was just being brief. So congrats on making up a silly strawman, and pointing out it's silly.
> "the latter is a means of implementing the former"
I disagree. Justified authority is a result of organization, not the other way around.
> "So long as we are animals, and the only biological fact in play is that we are indeed animals, authority with the threat of force will always be necessary to organize us."
That's silly rhetoric ^^ Actually, only total sociopaths would only react to force.
And where did I say authority is automatically and always bad? I didn't, I just made a distinction between two types of authority , which obviously went over your head. Authority needs to always be questioned; justified authority survives the questioning.
I find it funny that people spouting this kind of sloganed ideology never seem to care about women being free.
And it's not a slogan either. What do you think democracy, in theory, is based on? On the souvereign citizens ruling themselves - we created and abide by the monopoly of power, we are governing us through it. In practice, it's kinda corrupt, but hey, it could be worse too, that's for sure, and exemplified all over the world.
Some people wish it was just a slogan though, I'll give you that.
Thing is, if you don't include women when talking about your ideology, it shows that there are some pretty fundamental issues about rights that you're not accounting for, so why should the rest of your commentary not be doubted?
That is how freedom works, not with words. With actions.