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Boundaries of Order (LvMI)
Boundaries of Order (LvMI)
Price: £2.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boundaries of Order, 8 Sept. 2013
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Book review to Boundaries of Order by Butler Shaffer

Take your typical dinner party discussion about property and the talk will inevitably lead to mortgage rates, house prices or noisy neighbours. Move that discussion to the college seminar and it might enter the less concrete world of whether property, particularly the accumulation of it, is moral, fair or both.
It is years since I attended university (or a dinner party). Then the enlightened ruminated on the inherent instability of private ownership and its cause of conflict. The classless society populated by altruistic citizens and led by the enlightened was seen as the ideal by the sceptical, inevitable by the optimists. Today I suspect those same seminars are still dominated by the equally enlightened learners agreeing on the immorality of inequality. Feeding on statistics that show the increasing inequality wrought by the present system that rewards the greedy and ignores the needy, the discussion, I can only imagine, revolves around how the progressive thinker can most efficaciously aid in the redistribution of society's wealth for the general good and universal (they probably say global) reduction of conflict.
Academia's addiction to the opiate of Marxism, it seems, has yet to be kicked. Conflict is taught as stemming from the inequality of distribution while violence has its roots in class conflict, wherever it erupts. To reduce conflict goes the theory, the rich must forego their riches and the poor placate their misfortune with the re-distributed manna. Nothing new there then.
Butler Shaffer in his book `Boundaries of Order' sees the solution to human conflict differently. Yes, all human behaviour can be addressed in terms of property ownership but conflict arises not from class struggle but from our individual misconceptions about our relationship to property and the resultant lack of respect shown for it, and, more importantly, each other. As a lawyer Shaffer experienced property disputes and their resolution at a practical level. It is how, when or by whom property is owned or controlled and disagreements over these issues that cause human conflict. As an academic and teacher of law he considered the problem at the theoretical level and it is in this area his book excels.
Property, he reasons, is derived from the very entropic nature of life itself. All life is dependent for survival on having space to occupy and resources to consume at the exclusion of everyone else. This space and these resources, essential for life to continue, are the reason for property's existence. In common with all living things, humans require exclusive space and resources to exist. The rationale and derivation for property then is biological.
This biological basis for mankind's right to property he argues, is sounder than the positions taken by the `legal positivists' and `natural law' proponents of property rights. The former argue that ownership is derived from the laws of the state and are therefore a human construct based on `rights' of parties. This position argues Shaffer, only leads to conflict as the law needs to be enforced and therefore requires legalised violence to ensure standards are kept. As an alternative to the legal positivists some philosophers have suggested principles based on `natural law'. This explanation was favoured by Locke who began with the assumption that people had a property interest first in themselves, which transcended the authority of the state, and then by extension, to resources in nature through what Shaffer rather mischievously called `the labour theory of ownership'. By mixing his labour with a heretofore un-owned resource, the individual incorporates his will into the resource and thereby makes it his property. This approach, Shaffer concedes, has some affinity with the biological/entropic claim to property but breaks down quickly when it claims to be based on natural laws.
These laws, which Shaffer dismisses as little more than subjective preferences projected onto the universe and characterised as eternal principles, have been given further credibility by being aligned with laws governing the physical universe. The problem comes when you try to prove the laws. Newton's second law of motion can be proved empirically by experiment but how do you prove a normative law? Furthermore, you can't break or suspend a natural law (that would be a miracle), but you can deny an individual of his property. Shaffer does concede sympathy with Locke's position and given the choice of living in a society dominated by legal positivists or by Locke's natural laws, he would seemingly choose the latter. What he can't accept is that the former is based on coercion and leads inevitably to conflict, while the latter is based on a delusion that subjective values held by man are actually objective laws governing the universe.
Competition for space and resources is endemic to life itself, and so property is essential for us to survive. How best then to thrive? Violence or the violation of property is anathema to a living being's continued existence and so should be opposed morally and existentially. But is not violence part of the competition for life? Do we not violate when we consume the resources we need? Given that species are not generally cannibalistic, the answer is no and should we become so then it is unlikely we will thrive as a species. Rather, it is through cooperation and the respect for property that we ensure survival and flourish both as individuals and as a species. We call this the market.
Competition, cooperation and respect pre-date the state, exist where the state does not, and indeed, function best where the state is kept in check. The state is based on violence and coercion. The state is not an individual actor in the marketplace. It produces nothing and exists by the expropriation of property to meet its expenses. Individuals, classes, political parties, lobbyists and pressure groups have interests which they seek to promote for the sake of their followers by influencing the political process, but do so only with the threat or use of violence. Politics causes disputes over property ownership and the recourse to politics requires violence or the threat of violence. Unlike the market it is not consensual.
A world dominated by politics rather than the market is typified by vertical, pyramidical structures less able to change and more prone to decline and failure. Failure to remain resilient and adaptive to the processes of change that define life can bring about collapse. Shaffer sees the world now as a place where authority is in decline and these perpendicular structures are increasingly being replaced by horizontally interconnected networks characterised by greater spontaneity and increased personal autonomy. The model is more akin to a holograph than a pyramid with order arriving not from central authority but from the unintended consequences of individuals interacting in a competitive but cooperative manner so characteristic of the market.
How then best to aid and abet the transformation to a system which maximises the opportunities for individuals to satisfy their material and emotional needs?
We could start by recognising that mankind cannot shape the world according to its wishes and that to attempt to do so amounts to little more than humanistic arrogance. We need to challenge the premise that stability and order are derived from legislation and that coercion is more efficacious than consensus. We could stop looking to linear scientific models governing the physical world (economists, take note) where outcomes can be predicted given the correct inputs and perhaps look towards quantum physics where prediction is impossible but patterns are discernible. And finally as individuals, we should start by recognising the central importance of property to our lives and put greater emphasis on fostering mutual respect for the boundaries of each other's property in its widest definition. Who knows, perhaps the level of dinner party discussion and seminar debate may actually become more endurable.


The Complete Idiot Reviews (A Laugh Out Loud Comedy Box Set)
The Complete Idiot Reviews (A Laugh Out Loud Comedy Box Set)
Price: £3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I was hoping for more, 17 May 2013
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Silly and trite, the characters are not especially interesting and the humour less than original. I didn't come close to finishing the set of three, but somehow don't think I missed much.


Requiem for Marx (LvMI)
Requiem for Marx (LvMI)
Price: £2.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another nail in the coffin, 17 May 2013
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Read this and then confront your smug Marxist friends with some of the incites presented here. How often did I find myself discussing Marxism with people who looked down their nose at me because I was not enlightened in his thoughts or merely a nature product of the bourgeois society? The analysis found in these essays would have been invaluable in the early eighties, when I was at University and Marxism dominated academic scene. I wish I had read them then, but better now than never.


Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations
Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do we know that to be true, 17 May 2013
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Beard gives the reader an overview of what we really know about Greek and Roman classical history. In a series of book reviews, Beard explains what we know and what we don't know about these seminal times given the records abvailable. She provides some interesting perspectives on what might have happened given the information we have and encourages you to consider the evidence and make your own judgement on what might be the truth instead of just accepting what others have said. This after all, is what history is really about. Not always a light read, Beard's articles are nonetheless, enlightening and entertaining. Highly recommended to those wanting to know a little more about the beginnings of Western society.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 28, 2013 10:54 AM BST


The Tragedy of the Euro (LvMI)
The Tragedy of the Euro (LvMI)
Price: £2.30

5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to banking, 17 May 2013
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A must read for everybody. If you didn't understand the Euro crisis before, this will give you a great start.


The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts (Dumfries Detective Book 2)
The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts (Dumfries Detective Book 2)
Price: £2.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just as good as the first time., 17 April 2013
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I enjoyed the first and this, the second in the trilogy, was nearly as good. It seemed to lack the impulse and unexpectedness along with the gripping scenes that made the first so entertaining. Familiarity with the characters and the mystery partially made up for it though. Will read the third (is it available yet?) and hope it can sustain the interest as this second did, undoubtedly. It was so very unpretentious and great for reading in transit.


THE CASE OF THE PIG IN THE EVENING SUIT (Dumfries Detective Book 1)
THE CASE OF THE PIG IN THE EVENING SUIT (Dumfries Detective Book 1)
Price: £0.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How unpretentious, 17 April 2013
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I enjoyed this, the first in the trilogy. Particularly, I liked the whole lack of pretension throughout. Dumfries does not seem the most electrifying of places, but Gall obviously has a knack of making the prosaic seem quaint. He then injects some welcomed excitement which comes quickly and proceeds in the same way. Neither Gall nor his book demands to be taken too seriously. This was refreshing and I look forward to next the installment which I hope will be as good.


The Mystery of Banking (LvMI)
The Mystery of Banking (LvMI)
Price: £2.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A required read for all, 14 April 2013
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Everybody should read this. It is not a difficult text but makes pretty clear why we are in the mess we we are today; greed combined with a false creed that bankers, both central and chartered, hand in hand (and in your pocket) with ruling elites know best how keep the economy going (sure they do).
And now we have the zombie economies of the West to pass on to our children. Here you go kids, sorry we stood by open-mouthed while life and richness was sucked out of your inheritance by parasites. Hope you don't make the same mistake as us. Read this and maybe you won't.


My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories from Chekhov to Munro
My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories from Chekhov to Munro
by Jeffrey Eugenides
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.24

5.0 out of 5 stars A book with many beautiful parts, 14 April 2013
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A wonderful selection of short stories based around a theme so cleverly outlined in Eugenides' introduction. The short story is the string quartet of the literary world, needing heightened concentration and consideration from the reader while giving a lasting impression as reward for effort. Eugenides' gives us sufficient choice in style within the boundaries of his chosen theme without being eclectic for the sake of inclusion. I will return again and again to these stories and find more and more in them when I do. Alice Munro's contribution was particularly moving yet only one of many beautiful parts.


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