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Subjectivity of the State

Subjectivity of the State

I have long hesitated to address the question of the nature of the State’s subjectivity, or any collective organization’s subjectivity, for that matter. It is an essential question since the answer opens a wide range of consequences regarding the relationship between individual and collective, especially the State.

The apparent gap between branding and praxeology

The hesitation arises from the unsolved gap between branding theory, which takes all brands as alive on one side, and praxeology, the only theory of human action that resolves questions of human economy. Let me briefly explain this apparent and so far unresolved gap:

Branding theory stipulates that brands are alive, meaning they start living separately from those that produce or manage them. Brands emerge as living entities in the form of memes or, better, memetic fields. As memetic entities, they evolve over time in the memetic space with specific laws. Memes need a substrate on which they live; like viruses, they need host phenotypes to survive. Human brains serve as substrates for memes. As a matter of fact, the majority of the human neocortex, as the latest brain development, is a host place of memes.

Praxeology, as developed by Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard, on the other side, clearly rejects an option that any collective organization could or should hold any subjectivity. Only individuals can make economic evaluations, meaning that individuals only have skin in the game, using an essential concept of Nicholas Taleb. Skin in the game in this context means that only an individual can make economic evaluations according to his time preferences. A consequence is that only the individual bears the profits and losses of his decisions.

What brands are lacking?

It is not the right place to go deeper into both theories. Still, from here, we see that according to praxeology, collectives cannot act since they cannot make economic calculations. Does that mean that they are not alive? Or should perhaps praxeology accept the fact that brands like the State of Slovenia or the United Nations do live and thus should be taken as having a sort of subjectivity?

Resolution of this issue is much easier than it seems at first glance.

As much as animals and plants are living agents, meaning that each of their individuals lives and dies and that as species evolve over time, brands as memetic entities live and die, and they evolve over time. But compared to humans, both animals and brands lack something united in humans. Animals as phenotypes lack memes, while brands as memetic entities lack phenotypes.

Brands have no phenotype.

Let me clarify the last statement. While animals clearly have both phenotypes and extended phenotypes (extended phenotype being a dam for beavers and cellphones for humans), brands only have extended phenotypes. Brands have memetic code written in the language of the Standard Branding Model. Based on that identity coding, extended phenotypes are produced without the physical body of the brand itself. Typical extended phenotypes of a particular bank, for instance, are a counter, a web page, a bond share, headquarters, and so on. Each of the mentioned physical entities is physical but an extended phenotype, not a phenotype.

On the other hand, animals and plants have bodies but lack memes, though it was recently proven that the memetic domain might spread from humans to animals and even plants. Or better: memes evolved even before humans but achieved exponential growth only with the evolution of human brains.

States do not feel pain.

In other words, brands do not feel pain. An entity without its phenotype does not feel pain and thus cannot have skin in the game. An agent that has no skin in the game is not real but a fake agent. It is me as a physical entity that is a real agent, not my brand. My brand lives and evolves but has no agency property. Collective brands like states and other collective organizations havo no agency property, have no skin in the game and should thus have NO subjectivity.

No pain, no gain

It thus follows that praxeology, together with catallactics, is fully harmonized with contemporary branding theory. Collective organizations are both alive, existing memetic entities, but they should have no specific rights, like a right to collect taxes and spend taxes, for instance. To be more precise, animals have better arguments for collecting taxes and executing all other burdens on individuals than states, municipalities, or multinational organizations.



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