How Steemit Turned Me Away from Libertarianism and Freedom/Free Market Principles

in #steemit3 years ago

These posts feel pointless because they fall on deaf ears and are hidden by Steemit's algorithms, but I have nothing better to do, so.

Yeah, I said it.

I no longer believe in freedom, or the free market. I'm sorry, but I don't.

I used to.

But then I spent two years on Steemit.

That's been the biggest value that Steemit has brought me, honestly. Seeing freedom in practice - probably for the first time ever. Until Steemit, freedom was a theory. And I believed in the theory.

I thought that the free market would be a meritocracy, and that in the end, it would all sort itself out. The cream would rise to the top, and bad actors would be punished by the market.

I'm finally ready to admit that it doesn't work out that way. The market is more than willing to reward bad actors quite handsomely.

In fact, I started thinking about why I hate democracy so much. And I hate it because it gives power to idiots. The vote of an abusive alcoholic is worth the same as a productive and intelligent person's vote.

And that's always rubbed me the wrong way.

Unfortunately, the market kinda has the same problem: idiots have the power.

Yes, the market can theoretically self-regulate the harmful idiots out of the picture to a degree, but libertarians seem to think that it's more foolproof than it is.

Steemit is freedom in practice, not just in theory. We can call it "not true freedom" all we want, but what, then, differentiates us from the "That wasn't TRUE communism!" people?

Nothing.

Freedom will never be meritocracy, and I understand that now. This is elitist of me, but I can't help it anymore. I've been fighting with it for a long time.

My old self is shouting: "Value is subjective!"

But forget Steemit, just look at YouTube and Twitter. Shadow banning, demonetization, censorship is going on all the time when unpopular opinions are voiced.

Why?

Because no one wants to risk making the advertisers mad.

You see, it's not the government that's making everything terrible. Culture comes first, the government is then a reflection of it. And culture consists of people.

It's always the culture of the majority that rules over everything. Not the government.

Ask yourself this: how do the people in charge get into office?

Through elections!

And how does one get elected?

Ding, ding, ding. By pandering to people. They simply look at what's popular and appeal to whatever the culture is at that time.

Us libertarians have made the mistake of thinking that government comes before culture, but no, it doesn't. I think that's what leads to a lot of the confusion.

Instead of punishing bad actors, Steemit has gone out of its way to reward and over-reward them. Time after time. And there's no reason to think that it's going to stop. People caring about things such as the community and the platform's long-term future have always been the underdogs.

Short-sightedness and greed rule über alles. The only thing that matters is the profit to be made, and the quickest way to make that profit is the one people choose.

People around here don't think twice about turning their backs on their friends if said friend threatens their money-making potential. Not twice.

People smile at you to your face, then mock you behind your back to another Steemian with a bigger wallet who also dislikes you. Just to get that vote. Maybe even a spot on that autovote list.

Steemit is just Real World 2.0. and now we know how freedom turns out. We haven't tested it out yet in our bigger version of the real world, but this miniature version has been pretty telling.

This is why leftists are probably right in their claims that capitalism will fuck up the environment.

If there's profit to be made, and especially if the consequences of your profit-making won't affect you directly during your time here, why not make the fucking profit? Just do it. Who cares!

There's absolutely no incentive to care. Just like there's no incentive for anyone to care about Steemit. Who cares if the vote bots are used to upvote shitposts? You're making a profit.

We can't turn this thing into a charity, God forbid! This is a business!

God forbid someone just got rewarded for creating something that someone finds valuable. A whale is supposed to click on his mouse for free?

Jesus Christ. What a ridiculous thought. Just one click that can be used more efficiently to making a profit by partaking in a vote collusion, and don't you forget it.

Instead of the meritocracy that I thought it would be, freedom seems to be the exact same set of under the table deals, backstabbing, corruption, nepotism, and sycophantry that we already have.

So, maybe, just maybe, the government was never the real issue here? Maybe it's something else.

As a libertarian, I am very, very familiar with the following argument: "No, that's not capitalism that's causing all these problems, bro, it's corporatism, and it's caused by government subsidies".

But what if it isn't? I'm just throwing it out there. What if we've honestly been wrong all this time? See, contrary to popular belief, a lot of libertarians are very cool people. A lot of them are the first to help you out. I've experienced that myself. For a lot of libertarians, the ideology stems from the idea of non-violence.

If you don't believe in the initiation of force, libertarianism/anarchism is what logically follows.

But maybe that's exactly why so many libertarians are so naive - because they project their own views of the world onto others, which results in them becoming the useful idiots used to ensure the profits of those smarmy enough take advantage of others.

I'm not saying I'm right. I'm not. I'm just saying that I'm challenging my views. I was a hardcore libertarian. A true and true boneheaded libertarian. I had an argument for everything. Every single problem anywhere ever was because of the government.

And if we only got rid of the damn government, everything would be sunshine, rainbows, puppy dogs, and especially otters. Lots and lots of otters. The world would be right and just! The market would reward the good people, punish the bad people. It would incentivize good behaviour, disincentivize bad behaviour. You would be rewarded for providing value to your community.

It would be the perfect world.

All I'm saying is, I'm finally ready to question my views. You can call it being a traitor, I call it being mature.

And you know that the really, really sad thing is?

If I was autovoted to triple digits to shut up, I most likely would.

Why?

Because I'm human. Nothing supernatural. Just a human. And so are you.

And I'll answer the first comment that I know I'm going to get right away:

"So, @schattenjaeger, basically, because your account died and you're not making any money on Steemit anymore, that means freedom and capitalism have failed?"

Yes. Exactly.

Next question?

Sort:  

I'd argue that Steemit is a pretty far cry from an actual free market setting. It's pretty contrived and synthetic in many respects, and if the negative aspects you've witnessed continue, the actual free market (insofar as it can somehow barely function in the cracks of statist regulation) will dump it.

I think a big issue here is that there’s a great lack of ”skin in the game”.

When I joined, my theory was that the whales would be incentivized by the system to moderate the trending page, for instance, in order to protect the value of their stake.

But it turns out, the whales have the least incentive to give a single fuck about anything.

It’s a really upside-down situation, honestly.

I agree with you there, but don't think free trade/free markets are to blame. I think, if anything, it's a bad business model/structure. It reminds me a lot of Multi-Line Marketing quasi-scams (the trending page stuff). If this low quality rubbish is truly what gets rewarded most here, I'd say that is a result of not reading market signals accurately, and just milking a dying cow.

The actual market is pretty good, when one looks where the real engagment is (quality posts, comment threads, etc). It seems to me that it is precisely where this platform does not recognize and honor organic market signals (overpaid infomercial posts vs. posts with actual quality engagement) that the platform fails.

Anyway. I will be thinking about what you said. One thing I know is that this platform, for all its shitty spots, is miles beyond data-collection sites like Facebook.

A better model, more accurate to reading market signals for organic attention and quality, could take over at any time.

I already went to bed and I’m on my phone, but I do wish to continue this discussion. It’s interesting.

Basically what I am saying is you can't blame freedom itself for people's individual retardation. ;)

But on one point, we can't assume freedom is perfect as people as individuals can be terrible.

How can freedom be anything other than freedom? I guess I would ask you to define “perfect” here.

Freedom can be many things, especially in terms describing things. Like cheese can be also something else than only cheese, as it can be tasty.

Would you ask?

No perfect freedom can be achieved as people tend to actively reduce freedom with theie freedom.
This is also a reason why people claim Steem is not actually free and thus ignoring the critique at flaws of humans acting within their freedom.

I think this is my point. Freedom is not “produced.” It just is. What individual actors do with it is up to them, and on them. To attempt to qualitatively evaluate freedom itself seems strange to me.

That's a good point.

However, what is the reason you say "I'd argue that Steemit is a pretty far cry from an actual free market setting."?

As it's strange to qualitatively evaluate freedom.

Y no sólo no se puede culpar al mercado de la imperfección humana, sino que tampoco puedes culpar al mercado de la imperfección de un sistema (en este caso, Steemit).

I was going to agree with you but then I saw your up vote isn't worth much, so I won't.

:D

In a rare occurrence of honesty on Steemit.

I appreciate it. Gave me a chuckle.

Well said. My last blog post one here was 2 months ago and I basically wrote how economism or rather the ideology of material wealth being everything, underlies the collective culture worldwide. It's been an ongoing process and accelerating for the last couple hundred years or so.

I think this is the main problem with libertarians and free-market oriented folks. They forget that modes of thinking and behavior underly freedom and humanity is controlled by it. There are deeper things at the root then getting rid of the State and letting markets work. The issues of dominance and hierarchy still prevail in a "freedom" atmosphere as shown here and the pursuits of other entrepreneurs. It does seem that Steemit is a manifestation of this, thought I'm not totally sure.

Libertarians are generally selfish and privileged and don't really care about anyone other than themselves, as long as they are doing well, fuck everyone else. I love the free market for letting me call people dumb cucks when they bow down to rich jackasses, but when those rich jackasses are stealing all the god damn money, and using it for themselves, it stings. I am a Social Democrat because I believe that governments and power should be ran by the people and for the people, rather than by the elites and for profit.

Most big whales I've interacted with tend to be on the selfish side and love to downvote dissenting thought and upvote propaganda for their warped perspective. I find that usually the dolphin range (1000-10000ish) is where I've met the most honest and thoughtful people. It's enough money invested to want to see the platform succeed and believe in the future, but not too much to corrupt them into only wanting to profit.

Obviously there are exceptions, but I do believe that everyone can be moderately wealthy and it would lead to a much better society than have rich tycoons and poor burnouts.

One nice piece of information is that money and happiness are not congruent in rising. For the most part, people tend to plateau in happiness when they hit the $100,000/yr threshold. It's enough to do essentially anything within reason, and enjoy yourself without splurging on million dollar yachts and launching cars into outer space. Everyone on Earth can live like the kings of yesteryear, if just a few rich cunts stopped being so selfish (I'm looking at you, Jeff Bezos).

STEEM is a fun example of true free market ideals, and I like it. I think we need more adoption before we can really say if it's as bad as you want to say it is. Right now the overwhelming majority of posters are right wing libertarian types, so it's not a real good pool to get a good feel from. One problem here is that a lot of left-wingers are afraid to touch it because of that (Trust me, I've tried to bring more people here as a lefty). I don't know if STEEM will reach the adoption that it needs to be a true test, but I'd love to ride the wave until we find out.

And sorry, I'm mimicking your comment partially because I dislike social democrats but also as a sign of respect towards the work you placed on the comment.

Most social democrats are generally selfish and greedy and don't relaly care about anyone other than themselves, as long as they are doing well, fuck everyone else. I dislike social democrats for not allowing people to talk and from narrowing down the freedom of individuals, while stealing all the god damn money, and using it for themselves and for others who have not deserved it, it stings.

Most social democracts I've interacted with tend to be on the selfish side and love to take money from others for themselves. I find that usually the capitalists is where I've met the most honest and thoughtful people.

Obviously there are exceptions, but I do believe that everyone can be moderately wealthy and social democrats are not needed to harm the entire society and causing scarcity for everyone.

One nice piece of information is that money an happiness are not congruent in rising. For the most part, people tend to be more happy in a society where people are treated well instead of promoting jealousy and hatred against others based on their success and wealth. By trying to remove the grand things from peoples lives you are also banning dreams of better, as everyone is being pushed to live the same, mediocre life.

STEEM is a fun example of true free market ideals, and I like it. I think we need more adoption before we can really say if it's as bad as schattenjaeger is saying it is. Right now the overwhelming majority of posters are poor people attempting to achieve better with minimal work, so it's not a real good pool to get a good feel from. One problem here is that a lot of left-wingers are not working for the best what they want, but trying to instead harm others because of jealousy. I don't know if STEEM will reach the adoption that it needs to be a true test, but I'd love to ride the wave until we find out.

Everyone on Earth can live like the kings of yesteryear, if just a few rich cunts stopped being so selfish

You realize that the overwhelming majority of people in the world live better than the kings of yesteryear right now, as things stand, right?

Cool response. Doesn't answer the question I asked, though.

You're incorrect, most people on Earth are miserable and suffering. Just because we have technology doesn't mean we are happier by default.

This is something I agree with 100%. I'm always amused by techno lovers who insist that just because we have iPhones now, we're somehow happier.

Everyone on Earth can live like the kings of yesteryear, if just a few rich cunts stopped being so selfish

I refer back to the quoted passage. Says nothing about happiness. However, objectively, the vast majority of the human race enjoys a standard of living that would make even monarchs of the early 20th century envious.

Seriously, there has never been a better time to be alive in human history.

This is one of the most difficult things to put into words, because ... just look at capitalism, it actually means getting money (capital) together to make a manufacturing plant. But, what does it mean today? Killing babies for profit and/or free markets.

All the words we would use to discuss what you have stated here have all been corrupted beyond all recognition.

There are lots of things that a free market rewards / helps / promotes, but there is also a list of things that a free market destroys/ keeps down / nullifies. A real solution will not be free market or controlled market, it will be something, really weird, like opt-in cooperation.

The actual solution to the ruling class owning the means of production is for everyone to have a small factory in their garages. Millions of competitors / millions of customer choices.

Anarchy is only desired by loners who have the ability to make things on their own.
Most of the little people would rather have a job where they don't have to do all that thinking.
To be a part of a machine, a group.

I hope to be seeing some of these real solutions becoming manifest.

I agree with kafka, i think it is a really messed up business model.

If i understand the revenue side of it, it isn't so much about subjective value exchange as it is about investment and generating traffic.

There are several social constructs that lead me to believe it is more a social system than a free market system.

(Incentives are screwed up)

I hear you. But the market is just a group of people. So social systems dictate the markets.

I do my best to avoid the assumption that markets should be dictated by social systems.

What that leads to is problems in social objectivity. There really are no solutions to problems in social objectivity, at least none that i have found.

I can’t really argue that. I haven’t found a solution myself.

I want anarchy as a safeguard against human nature.

Welcome back to the real world, my friend.

I had some of these same thoughts shortly after joining steemit a year ago, although my thoughts weren't quite so, eh... well thought out.

Hah. I’m glad you considered this random and rambly rant to be well thought out.

Well, comparatively speaking, haha.

Does the first one who comes up with a "No True Scotsman" argument win a prize?

Since always, my perspective on Steemit is that it was destined to foment corruption and ineptcracy. So far, my position has not changed much.

I do not think that has anything to do with free markets. In capitalism there are projects that work and things that fail. Success is not guaranteed, that is a reality.

Steemit is one of those projects that have partly failed, and in part, have been successful. It has not collapsed, but it has given us an example of what results in a system with bad incentives. As an example, it is useful, that is the part of victory that exists in all this.

Accept it, people are not angels, and Steemit's institutions are not "meritocratic", we can not expect something different from what there is.

Steemit is not "the 2.0 world", it is a platform, a system, with its rules; rules that are in some ways unviable, but whose increasing adoption (encouraged by the possibility of reward, whether by honest or dishonest actions) postpones its collapse (or the correction of those rules).

What will happen in the future? I do not know, but do not expect perfection from a system like Steemit. If certain rules encourage certain types of behavior, regardless of your intentions, you will most likely get that behavior.

Are the creators of Steemit villains? I do not believe it. They just made a mistake in some things. And to be fair, they were wrong in less things than the creators of other similar experiments were mistaken.

On your last post I was going to joke about the market freedom and all, but I decided not to.

But this is a great example what people do with their freedom. Stupid shit and ruin everything.

My upvote doesn't matter anyway but just to mention it. I upvoted because I liked that you were (seemingly) expressing your subjective thoughts/experiences you had.
Apart from that, I thought to myself: What utter crap.

It read to me, especially in the beginning like "politics is downstream from culture". https://steemit.com/deutsch/@mielia/politics-is-downstream-from-culture-is-it-deutsch

Apparently you have never read or heard Larken Roses "The Most Dangerous Superstition" (link in here) https://steemit.com/voluntaryism/@mielia/additional-viewpoints-perspectives-on-open-state-borders-debate-between-larken-and-lauren-at-anarchapulco2018
Or just start to read at 5.
Because you have very strange notions about the state.

About the last part. I haven't written on it yet and it will take a long time until I do, because I haven't completely made up my mind.

Capitalism isn't everything. It is a framework.

There is no other way for a free society but that it is created by free people. You can cut all the crap with the state then.

Regardless, what in my mind is build upon (and ingrained) in the framework, are the values of the people.
A lot of things fail because people don't believe in their values and are thus not asserting them.
People are opportunists or believe they have values but are lying to themselves because they don't have any.
So, yes, the degradation that happened throughout society has to be addressed as well. It's not only about learning how markets work. It's also about elevating consciousness.

Don’t upvote something you disagree with.

Sorry, but I fell asleep halfway through your comment.

Obviously everyone votes as he deems fit, that includes me.
I even gave a reason, said what I liked, lol.

Hilarious insult! Made me giggle a little.

Dont confuse steem, the first social media platform, with the free market. So many things here are messed up. What is missing is honest competition, the cornerstone of free markets. Wait to see what happens when there is a second platform and the whales get scared because steem is dying and the users are fleeing. Then things will either move forward or steem together with their stake will die.

Hey Guise! Look! I finally found one! 70 Rep Plankton ;)

Dood, you MUST be doing something wrong???
This is all tongue-in-cheek, of course, what is the deal?
Mr. EverrittD.Mickey claims to have bought a boat, a car and a house from his Steem Gains, he's like a 72 rep but in Dolphin/ORCA range.
I have a pretty good grasp of the mechanics here, I think, but I do still help others. You can thank @cyberdemon531's resteem for me being here.

To counter your OP title, I would have to ask, Did you really ever understand these things?

Congratulations on this mature article full of insights.

From a systemic (or philosophical) point of view, any system is vulnerable.

Take a country and its borders, for example. If you want to completely secure the border, have total and watertight security for all people and all times, to keep out any aggressor or abuser, you end up with a totalitarian state. For not only evil does not get through, but neither does good. Such a state not only locks out the others, it also locks its own. Exit and entry policies must be rigid and restrictive for such a solid cause.

Steemit could be seen in a similar way. It's a permeable system and has not yet reached a state where we modern Internet people would call it
"relevant " (as to the number of users). It still could change a lot when a certain amount of people use it and recommend it to others. From my subjective sensory options I'd say: We have a lot of creators/entrepreneurs here and fast money making wannabes but not so much consumers and readers.

From my point of view the hopes are hanging high and therefore can crush down deep.

In any case, the constant looped criticism is part of Steemit's problem, just as it is part of the solution. Critical view of trending pages and misconduct is good. But it is pointless if this criticism does not also entail something concrete like working with the communities here. And more important is to look at your own business and ask yourself what you want. The disappointment is painful, but necessary.

And you know that the really, really sad thing is?
If I was autovoted to triple digits to shut up, I most likely would.
Why?
Because I'm human. Nothing supernatural. Just a human. And so are you.

Not sure, if I believe you. Not from what you previously said in this article. If that would be true than your process of insight would be quite useless, in fact, now even worse. After seeing through so many layers and arrive in reality it would be a shame to show so little backbone.

What do you say: would you like to be tested and come into a situation where you must decide on your ethics? Isn't that the ultimate question we ask ourselves while holding our thumbs that Anakin Skywalker does not turn to the dark side?

I only had one question but you already answered so..good day!