I never questioned the legitimacy of governments. Their history is rife with examples of some people using them to initiate violence against others, but I just thought they needed reform – and I thought “mine” was better. How misguided I was. Despite the nationalistic propaganda we’re endlessly fed in schools and the media, the US federal government differs only in minor degree from others. It just has a more effective public relations operation.
Reached my Boiling Point, Still didn’t Get it
I reached my boiling point last year. I just could not stay quiet anymore. The wars, the torture, the debasing of the currency, the limitless spending, the oppressive taxes and the unabashed violations of rights enshrined in the constitution became too much. But I still believed in reform.
LP: Last Stop before Anarchism
Ironically it was my involvement in the Libertarian Party – a group of liberty activists who believe in reforming government – that pushed me over the chasm to anarchism. My hopes were high when I joined the LP, but the reality is devastating. The LPers I identify with – the more radical ones – are laboring under a contradiction. They ostensibly pursue an electoral path to liberty, but refuse to do the organizational work necessary to be effective.
Apathetic Participation a Net Plus for Government
The moment I realized this, the doubts I’d formed over the last year crystallized and I knew I was in the wrong place. To participate in the electoral process is to strengthen it, so to simultaneously abandon resistance is to render it a net plus for this illegitimate government, and a net minus for me. I refuse to be a part of that.
Making Libertarian Friends a Net Plus
Socializing online with libertarians is definitely a net plus for me though. I got over my prejudice against anarchism and questioned my beliefs in new ways. I discovered anarcho-capitalism and its various schools of thought, including Autarchism, Voluntaryism and Agorism, all of which I find more agreeable than limited government.
Government is Illegitimate Force
Perhaps I’m just impatient, but I’ve watched “my” government ceaselessly expand during my lifetime. In fact, I’ve read about its ceaseless expansion since it was founded. Politicians who promise reductions end up growing it more than those who promise growth. Limited government fans talk about reducing the government to its constitutional limits but with loopholes like the interstate commerce clause, that’s meaningless. I’ve lost faith in government. It can’t be fixed. If governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed, count me out. I do not consent!
Next Stop: Free Market Anarchism
Since I’m withdrawing my support for governments and state capitalism, I’ll be phasing out my participation in political organizations, in order to consistently align my actions with my values. Here’s my todo list:
- Study the works of authors such as Lysander Spooner, Samuel Edward Konkin III and Murray Rothbard.
- End my membership in the LP and BTP. I’m especially ambivalent about the LP because the founder allegedly claims that the pledge is a renunciation of my right to revolution.
- Cease all donations to political parties, candidates or organizations that participate in the electoral process.
- Hand over de facto control of the LP Transparency Caucus and shadow bylaw and platform committees to someone else (if anyone even wants them). I will also be ending the “My LP” and Libertarian Party Candidates projects.
- Search for ways to work for greater liberty, without supporting governments.
- Evaluate all of my activities with the goal of ending any and all support for governments.
- Actively withdraw my consent from governments.
83 replies on “I’ve Evolved … into an Anarchist”
“Actively withdraw my consent from governments.”
Governments (entities that use force to limit individual freedom) will always exist whether you consent of not. Even in the most anarchist society ever imagined, some individual freedoms will be inhibited by an ad hoc committee of other individuals. Baring suicide you are forced to deal with the current government. You can accept the status quo or work to change it(political action). You can not eliminate government. Giving government another name does not eliminate it.
Of course, the LP or the BTP or any other organized political party is not necessarily a way to improve on individual freedom, but anarchy is no solution either. As a matter of fact, anarchistic activity actually increases the popularity of more government among the general public. .
Congratulations on your evolution! I highly recommend the books at http://freedomainradio.com/free if you want to learn more about ancap theory.
I can refuse to consent to any given government, thus eliminating its claims of legitimate power over me.
Thanks Rich, I am checking those out.
Thank you both for commenting.
The problem with government is not its legitimacy or otherwise, as you have so adroitly pointed out. The problem you seem to have is its coercive power, and even if you don’t recognize its legitimacy, that does not stop the government making use of its coercive powers to force you along a given set of tracks. In fact, as John F. states, openly proclaiming your anarchistic allegiance is a good way to increase the powers of government against you, as the opinion of the general public towards anarchism remains very much trapped in the late 19th century, when anarchists were merrily terrorizing the government, its leaders, and the people at large.
Even more problematically, capitalist anarchism is not the lack of government. It is the lack of an overarching hierarchical system, a lack of politics and the inequality that politics produces. Even an anarchist commune, as we see from the (left-anarchist) ‘governments’ in Andalucia and the Ukraine during the civil wars in those regions, remains at its heart a coercive body. The coercion comes from peers and is horizontal in nature, but it is no more or less coercion for all that, and laws remain in place.
What I think you are describing might tend closer to anarchy than anything recognizably anarchistic, and while desiring anarchy (perhaps the ‘anarchists’ should retake the word libertarian from the people who currently claim it!) is a philosophy, it is not a successful one.
At any rate, though I agree with many of your points about the system that is in place within these United States, I do not feel that proclaiming your independence from the government and its illegitimacy is a successful strategy for change for yourself or others. We do not live in a world where you can ‘opt out’. Witness those children who were not registered by their parents, and now are treated as nonpersons; or, worse, forcibly registered. And, of course, there is always Waco as another, more solid example of people attempting to opt out of what they perceived as an illegitimate government, and being punished for it. Essentially, you can try to leave the system, but you remain trapped by the rules and laws of said system. All that refusing to recognize the government’s coercive power does is limit your options in resisting it.
Alex, thanks for commenting.
I get the sense that you think the only way to resist tyranny is within the system, via your vote and convincing others to vote your way. I used to agree with that sentiment, but given the state-sponsored two-party system (among other things) I don’t anymore.
Yes, my primary problem is the use of initiative force. I used to be an ardent defender of government, even though I opposed almost everything it did, so the question of legitimacy started to trouble me after awhile. But you’re right, it’s irrelevant to me now.
I think it’s important for people to speak up about their beliefs and I practice that value. I don’t think that it’s ok to be quiet just because it might displease someone. That’s not being true to yourself.
Actually I’m not interested so much in anarcho-capitalism, but in free market anarchism. I’m probably splitting hairs a little, but I don’t like big business anymore than I do big government.
Yet membership in a private organization such as a commune is (or should be) entirely voluntary. This is the key difference.
If, in a stateless society, I join, say, a subdivision and in order to do so, and therefore buy land, build a house or whatever, I have to sign a contract stating I will keep my lawn green and short, that is not coercive because I entered into the contract voluntarily and have the option to exit it at any time.
I’m coming at this from the libertarian perspective, so I distinguish between two different kinds of force, initiative and retaliatory. The former is bad, the latter is good.
You’re saying anarchism is not a successful philosophy? If so you may be interested in this 20 minute video “A Proof of Anarchy”:
If that is true, then we definitely do NOT live under a government that derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed”. If that is true, then to recognize this while simultaneously not resisting it, is to implicitly accept tyranny and the right of people with titles to rule over you.
I’ve been an anarchist for over eight years, but I’m still in the LP.
Choosing to ignore the government does not mean they will choose to ignore you.
The LP can still be an effective tool for mass outreach, as well. It can reach people who will not read anarchist books and pamphlets, and hopefully with time bring a good chunk of them to the point where they will.
If you are willing to turn over the Transparency Caucus, Libertarian Party Candidates, and/or any other projects, I will do my best to keep them alive and recruit other people to do so.
“The proof of Anarchy” video is not a proof of Anarchy but an argument for minarchy. If you take the the last segment seriously, you are already living in an anarchist society so just sit back and be happy. Oh, you are not satisfied with the current incarnation of an anarchist society? Then you must engage in political activity to change it. Or you could just move to Somalia.
You know, I really don’t like the law of gravity. I think I might just refuse to consent to it. If we all did that it would just go away. Wouldn’t it? Of course we do need some gravity, so I will contract with Ajax Assurance Associates to provide me with just enough gravity to keep ne from drifting off into space but not enough to hinder my arm flapping over flight of Philadelphia.
Yes I do think all self proclaimed anarchists are crazy, Not bad people. Not stupid people. Just temporarily deranged. Harsh reality is both the cause and cure for this derangement. Some recover and some don’t. Enablers prolong and deepen the derangement.
The video does not claim that we currently live in an anarchist society.
And how could you change a stateless society by engaging in an attempt to change the state? That’s like saying I’m homeless but I’ll be redecorating next week.
John, there is a natural “law” for gravity. There is none for government. Gravity is a facet of reality that is inescapable. Government is man-made and supposedly based on the consent of the governed.
Yes, if enough people refused to consent to government, it most certainly would go away. I have no doubts about that. It survives on moral and financial support, just like any other organization.
John I’m sorry you feel that way but there is nothing deranged about advocating a stateless society. How is “harsh reality” the “cure”?
Over the past 18 months I’ve come to the same conclusion. I joined the LP years ago after finally realizing the Republican Party’s small government rhetoric was hypocritical if not downright dishonest. I eventually decided that government is a draconian and inhumane solution to societal problems. Government’s only tool is the initiation of force. Government creates far more problems than it claims to solve. In areas public education, drug prohibition, War on Terror, poverty, healthcare, economy etc the government continues to expand its power and control while the problems get larger and larger. We must try something different.
Well said Ganja, I could not agree more! Thanks for commenting. I’m following you on Twitter now.
I’ve enjoyed watching your ‘evolution’, George. I look forward to reading your posts in the future!
Thanks Rod, I’m enjoying yours as well.
Congratulations, George! I went through about the same thing 2-3 years ago. Very liberating. If you’re like me, you’ll find that the temptation to get drawn back into electoral politics is strong, but it will pass.
Here’s an article to inspire you (no link, private subscription service):
Direct vs Indirect Action
If you haven’t already read it, then I suggest you get yourself a copy of “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” by Harry Browne. This book is a classic, and is now back in print.
What makes the book worthy of the description “classic” is in the way it identifies two ways to working toward change – the “direct action” method and the “indirect action” method.
This is not a review of the book – but I would like to elaborate on these alternative direct/indirect action strategies – as I believe such an understanding to be crucial to anyone seeking greater personal freedom.
Let’s say you’re sitting in front of the TV – and fuming over the type of news you are being subjected to. Things like: new taxes proposed, infringements on freedom of speech, reports on how education is failing young people, welfare abuse – and so on. You get the picture – a typical week’s fare of news!
Of course, a lot of people couldn’t give a hoot – and happily gulp down another beer, and return to their life of grazing (as in sheep!) But if you DO give a hoot, then you have a couple of options.
The most popular by far is to “do something about it” by becoming politically active. By this I don’t necessarily mean joining a political party, but that one can do “political” things – like writing letters to the editor, or joining pressure groups.
Let’s take one example. You’re fed up with high taxation, so you decide to do something about it by joining a political party that promises to reduce it. You also bring it up in conversations and join some tax-reducing lobby group. Soon, many hours of your life are taken up by these actions.
In this case, you would have subscribed to a strategy of “indirect action”. Why indirect? Because all your efforts (to reduce your tax burden) are put into “indirect” ways of achieving it – things like letter writing, attending meetings, delivering pamphlets, calling talkback radio – all in the hope of persuading OTHER people to listen up and do something about it. It is “indirect” because your actions do not directly reduce your tax.
Now, politicians LOVE indirect action like this, including the ultimate indirect action – the VOTE. They love it because it saps your energy – without any corresponding results. It makes you feel as though you are achieving something – when you’re not (well, not much anyway). It is the ultimate energy-drain and I am quite convinced this is a major trap for the otherwise sane person intent on making his life freer.
Okay, let’s look at the opposite strategy – direct action. Using the same scenario – you’re fed up with high taxation – how would you tackle this using “direct” means? Well, as a reader of this newsletter, I’m sure you already know the answer. You take whatever steps necessary to personally reduce your own tax burden.
So, instead of diverting your energy to letter writing, meeting attendances, talkback phone calls etc, you direct your energy to finding out and implementing ways to actually reduce your tax bill.
So you might decide to do more “cash” jobs. You may decide to open an offshore account and start a tax-free nest-egg. You may decide to get a very creative accountant to ensure you get the greatest number of deductions. You get the picture.
The argument in favour of “direct action”, rather than “indirect”, is that it takes far less personal energy to achieve measurable results – that directly affect your own life.
As a comparison: you could spend 5, 10, 20 years of your life working for “change” from within the system. And at the end you could fail miserably – because the system is almost impenetrable. Or, you could work directly to change your own personal situation and see results in months – or a year or two at most.
Let’s take one more example: You’re not happy with the education your kids are receiving. The “indirect” way of dealing with this could consist of any or all of the following: join the school board in the hope of bring change; vote for a party that promises change; write letters to the editor; argue with your teacher friends, march in the streets – and so on.
Or, you could simply withdraw your child and place him/her in a private school with a record of achievement, or do the teaching yourself.
One strategy would actually impact on your child’s education, the other one would simply drain your energy.
Of course I can hear a dissident voice saying, “But isn’t this rather selfish, only solving your own problem – when you could be bringing about necessary societal changes – for the benefit of all?”
Precisely. It is selfish – and rightly so. You have every right to act in your own self interest. Your life isn’t long enough to take on the burdens of the world – at the expense of your own or loved one’s life. Think of it this way – if you had a child who could die of some hard-to-cure disease, would you rather direct your energy to lobbying the politicians and medical profession to get their act together – or put all your effort into trying to save the life of your child (by seeking potentially effective treatment)?
If you want to do a bit of both – direct and indirect – because it makes you feel better, then that’s okay. But be very clear, if its results you want, then you’ll achieve far more by directing your energy where it matters – on your own life.
John, thanks and great article!
Welcome, fellow traveler on the road to freedom!
My own “evolution” took a similar course, with the final metamorphosis happening about 3 years ago.
Thanks David, I’m enjoying your blog.
Actually, George, I’ve already figured out a way for one to be a morally self-consistent anarcholibertarian while still remaining in the LP: http://libertarianmajority.net/no-1st-force-pledge. However, I’ve yet to find anyone in the LP who is a pure enough anarchist to take the pledge.
While you’re reading up on anarcholibertarianism, I would hope you test it by seeking out the strongest arguments against it that you can find. If you can find any stronger than those I summarize at http://libertarianmajority.net/platform-portal#Advocacy, I’d love to hear about it.
And if you really want something that will blow your hair back, read up on Foldvarian geolibertarianism at http://ecolibertarian.org/.
Brian, thanks for commenting.
re/ the No First Force Pledge
– Paragraphs 1-4 and 6, I expect to never be in those situations, since I’ve forsworn politics.
– Paragraph 5, I think I can accept this one too. Several subsections don’t apply to me as long as I continue not voting. The jury ones, definitely, but I would only participate in a jury for tactical purposes. The last 3 yes, but (1) I have some governmental customers I would have to ditch and (2) I would have to consider all the implications of the last subsection.
That’s an excellent pledge and I will be thinking about that some more.
However, I disagree that abiding by the pledge makes participation in politics self-consistent. My particular concern is not letting governments get a free ride off of me. I don’t want them thinking I consent to them. I want them to go away ASAP.
Participating in the political process is implicit consent. Not to mention that it makes government stronger, not weaker.
What’s more, it’s self-destructive to disarm yourself with this pledge before going into the gun fight that is the political process. I would consider it against my self-interest to simultaneously abide by this pledge and participate in politics.
I’ll add the other two links to my reading list.
As even Rothbard has pointed out, the claim that “participating in the political process is implicit consent” thoroughly undermines the anarcholibertarian position. 130M Americans just voted for President, and 170M Americans are registered to vote. Only one concession could be more devastating to the anarchist position that this idea that all of these people are implicit consenters to our current political institutions. That concession would be to agree that not emigrating from America is implicit consent to the American State.
Voting is in fact a form of self-defense, not voting is unilateral disarmament, and these “implicit consent” arguments are a form of surrender. For more, see Roderick Long’s Dismantling Leviathan From Within at http://libertariannation.org/a/f24l3.html#6.
Actually, I do think the act of voting is an act of consent, since it presupposes membership in the organization. If nothing else, it means you accept that the organization should exist. But I fail to see how this is devastating to the anarchist position, whatever you may mean by that.
What is this ‘America’ you speak of? Is it a geographic formation? Some people think the term ‘America’ encompasses all the lands in what is commonly known as North and South America.
I suspect you are referring to the political fiction called the United States of America. To emigrate from a place, you have to be first inside it and you can not be inside a political fiction.
Just because the mob claims control over my neighborhood, it doesn’t mean I implicitly consent by not moving. I don’t recognize their claim as legitimate in the first place. If my neighbor claims my lawnmower is his, my turning it over to him would, on the contrary, be consent to his claim.
I think Stefan Molyneux is right: voting is begging. The state can only take away, it can not give.
Not voting is a consequence of withdrawing one’s consent from a given organization, including a government. If I’m not a member, how could I vote?
Do you think that you are a “member” of governments whether you wish to be or not? That you have no right to withdraw consent (revolt)? That the just powers of a government don’t derive from the consent of the governed? Or do you think that this is a just and legitimate government?
That’s an interesting article. However, the proverbial beast is already here, is already demolishing everything and it has a mind of its own. What’s more, it feeds off the energy of the people that try to control it. If no one tries to control it, it will run out of energy and die.
It’s a non sequitur to say that voting presupposes acceptance that the State should exist. If there are two marked paths through the woods, taking the shortest one does not presuppose acceptance that a marked path should exist.
The anarchist argument against social contract theory is that acts like residency and voting cannot be taken as consent. You just gave away a big chunk of that argument.
Yes, not voting can be an expression of denied consent. But it’s an elementary fallacy to think this necessarily implies that voting expresses consent.
My views on the authority of the state are at http://knowinghumans.net/2009/01/whence-authority-of-state.html. My views on secession are at http://ecolibertarian.org/manifesto.
It must be nice to feel so secure in your liberty that you can practice this form of unilateral disarmament against the State. :-) I wonder how many gay anarchists here in California declined to vote against Prop 8? Public choice theory tells us voting — or very loudly not voting — can only be used as a self-expressive consumption good because the cost of voting irrationally (i.e. contrary to well-informed consideration of your goals) is so low. This is consistent with my theory that, more so even than most libertarians, anarcholibertarians tailor their activism more for purposes of self-expression than for effecting change. I’ve said for years that this is the “fundamental problem of the Libertarian Party: its activists tend to care more about exhibiting their ideological purity than about influencing electoral politics in the direction of increased liberty.” I don’t claim to strike this balance perfectly, but I think that trying to maximize the number of votes for more liberty is the best way to seek this balance.
Just because there are two paths, does not mean you must take one. You have the choice of taking one of those paths or not taking one of those paths. This choice comes before the choice of which path to take (if any).
By treading on the path, you make it deeper and/or wider and hold off a little longer its reclamation by the wilderness. Your use of the path ensures that it will continue to present itself as an option to others in the future.
When you use something, you validate it, you give it your personal sanction.
How would voting be the shortest path to a stateless society?
I denied that “residency” = consent. In fact, I deny that one can be resident inside a fictional concept.
How do you derive this right? Does it come from self-ownership? Liberty? Property?
It must not be nice to feel so insecure in your liberty that you developed a compulsion to practice this form of begging the State for it.
Define ‘change’. I presume only to have the authority and ability to change myself.
I am not an LP activist.
What you call “ideological purity” (for smearing purposes), I call philosophical correctness. “All work is an act of philosophy” [Rand] after all, so it’s important for a rational person to know where they stand and regularly evaluate their position with respect to reality and adjust as necessary.
Voting for liberty is a slave’s illusionary pastime. The state can only take liberty. It can not give it. Politics is a con game. By participating in it, the only thing I can do is sanction its curtailment of my freedom.
My paths argument isn’t an argument that you should take a path. It’s an argument that taking a path doesn’t endorse the existence of the path. When pro-liberty voters boycott elections, that doesn’t weaken statism, it strengthens it. No state will ever be overthrown through boycott (i.e. personal secession). Your choices are either flight, revolt, geographic secession, reform, or surrender. You can pretend all you want that what you’re doing is akin to revolt, but it looks, walks, and quacks like surrender.
I’m not going to argue that anarchists should vote — i.e. pursue the reform option. I think any anarchist who actually believes what he says should pursue either flight, revolt, or geographic secession. I don’t see how dropping your ballot constitutes one of these three options.
Voting clearly confers an ability to effect change. That your one vote has no more such ability than the votes of millions of others is not something to whine about, because the only alternative to the potential tyranny of the many is the potential tyranny of the few. (This is especially true under the alleged third alternative of anarchy, as demonstrated by 100% of every circumstance in which organized crime has operated. Private markets in justice is perhaps the most thoroughly-refuted experiment in all the social sciences.)
I don’t use the phrase “ideological purity” to “smear”, because I’m not shy about proclaiming my own ideological purity. In case you somehow missed it, I consider myself to be a more ideologically pure libertarian than any of you confused anarcholibertarians.
The equal right to protect the rights of others is a corollary of the equal right to do anything that is not aggression. So it comes from wherever you think the latter right comes from. Libertarians don’t all agree why persons each are endowed with the rights we all recognize, so in a political context I just hold these truths to be self-evident.
Your assertion that the U.S. government enslaves you or me is simply a coarse insult to the memory of every actual slave who died for the dream of even a fraction of the freedoms you take for granted — a level of secured freedom that is without parallel in the history of our species and planet.
I beg the state for nothing. I just agree with Jefferson that to secure our rights, governments are instituted among Men, and are controlled by Man through representative democracy. Jefferson was no beggar. When ballots were not an option, he chose bullets. If I ever give up on ballots, I’ll be reaching for my bullets. Reaching for your keyboard while you drop your ballot does not make you a revolutionary, it just makes you a partially-disarmed reformer.
If you want to be more than an armchair anarchist, then don’t just renounce your involvement with the state’s mechanism for self-governance — the one place where the state exposes its neck to you. Instead, renounce your use of all of the state’s services — streets, water, sewage, power, police protection, justice, etc. (Of course, it’s difficult or impossible for you to not use certain public goods like protection from contagion, conflagration, foreign invasion, etc.) You yourself just said “When you use something, you validate it, you give it your personal sanction.” OK, so practice what you preach. Stop using every service whose provision is predicated on state force. And of course, stop paying any taxes, because to pay them is just to beg the state not to punish you for ignoring its monopolies. Go live in the woods like Ted Kaczynski, only don’t endorse the state like he did by occasionally walking along the state’s roads to go use the state’s postal service. Be a REAL personal secessionist, not like that state-begging wimp Kaczynski.
Or be a revolutionary. Go park a Ryder truckful of ammonium nitrate next to a government building like the heroic Tim McVeigh did. After all, every single person in the Murrah Federal Building was using the State’s services, and thus had “validated” the State and given their “personal sanction” to the State making you a “slave”. They all thus clearly deserved to die. We need to make such slavery-validating children think twice before they give any more personal sanction to the State by using a government daycare center.
You’re young. Your views are evolving rapidly. In time you’ll look back at such “slave” rhetoric and wince, just as I wince at rhetoric I once used when I was not much younger than you. But that’s OK — far better to live an examined life and grow from the self-examinations, than to run permanently aground on the first dogma you find that seems to offer safe harbor from the storms of uncertainty about one’s available choices.
No, my argument was not that anarchism does not work. My statement was that anarchism cannot work for very long, because inevitably surrounding polities force themselves upon the anarchists, and when the men with guns come along, all your fancy political theorizing will do nothing but get you shot. It is a sad indictment of the world today, but a truety. You cannot opt out of the state system, or the system of coercive violence that powers it. Even in Somalia, you are surrounded by individuals who seek to bend others to their will – series of small competing polities rather than an actual state, yet still coercive forces.
To live free is a glorious dream, yet it is simply a dream, because it is a position that has little (no) majority support. Therefore, your best and only bet to live freely is to do precisely the bare minimum demanded of you as a citizen. We no longer live in a world where you could simply go bush and drop out without tuning in first.
You assume that an anarchist society would not be able to defend itself against a statist one. In the worst-case scenario that a large state army is bearing down on a small anarchist society, I imagine the anarchists would simply disperse, becoming guerrillas of sorts. Problem (temporarily) solved.
As the scenario gets better, the anarchist society can progress to defense companies and/or militias. The state would simultaneously be getting weaker.
Just as Hong Kong and the Americas have drained the brains out of China and the world, respectively, there would be a brain drain in this situation that would accelerate in favor of the anarchist society.
You may be interested in this short read:
If that’s true the choice is even more stark. Tyranny is complete. This is the time to revolt/resist. Are you on the side of tyranny or liberty?
I suspect there will always be individuals who want to do that around. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom and all that.
You’re saying that the exercise of your liberty depends on the will of others. Your life, liberty and property are yours. Government (other individuals) can only take away, it can not give. Why participate in an organization like that? You have everything to lose, and nothing to win.
No, that is giving government exactly what it most needs to survive, the sanction of the victim.
How can I live freely if I’m paying 50% of my new property to the state? If I can’t grow hemp, a wonderful plant that even the US government used to beg people to grow. I could go on and on.
You may be interested in this:
Not for anarchism. It’s hypocritical for an anarchist to use a state political process to organize, reach or convert anarchists. It discredits you. It demonstrates that one does not believe what one is saying. I’m sure it’s fine for statists, but not for anarchists.
If you voluntarily use something, it’s because you think it will add value to your life. If you think something will/does add value to your life – make you happier, better, freer, etc. – then how could you not be content with its existence? If you are happy that it exists, you would surely say that, yes, it should exist.
And yet boycotts in the voluntary sphere can be very effective. They can make a corporation change some practice that customers consider harmful. A form of boycott called ‘strike’ has proven itself very useful in garnering higher wages and/or better working conditions for the members of organizations often called ‘unions’.
The trick is to treat your relationships with governments as voluntary, which, ultimately, is what they really are. They can punish you for failing to accept their offers, but they can’t force you to accept their offers.
If we define tyranny as ‘unrestrained exercise of power’, it is the same thing as the initiation of force. The solution (and alternative) to this is defensive force, which can be exercised by one, few or many.
How does my right to liberty confer on you a right to regulate it? That’s the same thing as replacing the right to liberty with a right to whatever liberty others will allow us to have, which is ultimately oxymoronic and not anything I would call liberty.
The word ‘protect’ is just propagandistic cover for the real meaning (regulate), since if you have this “right” to protect me, you have the power to limit my liberty with the alleged purpose of protecting it.
In any case, if you place this protection service in the realm of actions that come under the right to liberty, you accept that it may only be exercised with the voluntary approval of the person to be protected. If that is true, then this voluntary approval can be withdrawn, and even by your own logic, people can withdraw their consent from governments.
The only insult to their memory would be to remain content with only half-freedoms, and to not fight for the complete and unfettered freedom we all deserve.
I had more freedom just a little over 8 years ago and the amount of freedom granted to me by government decreases regularly.
I don’t renounce the use of all (just some) of the state’s services, for the same reason that I don’t renounce the use of a better mousetrap just because it was invented by a murderer.
Things are not evil or good, rational or irrational. Even the most evil individuals are capable of moments of rationality in which they can produce something of use to others.
Thus I can purchase, consume and enjoy a Domino’s pizza, saying that it should exist, validating its existence, without that action having anything to say about my position on abortion, just because the owner of Domino’s is fervently anti-abortion.
Condescension and uninformed exaggeration do not become you. This is the first time my personal philosophy has significantly changed in 15 years and only the second time in 38 years of life. You’re just being rude now.
George Donnelly replied to comment;
“The LP can still be an effective tool for mass outreach, as well.”
“Not for anarchism. It’s hypocritical for an anarchist to use a state political process to organize, reach or convert anarchists. It discredits you. It demonstrates that one does not believe what one is saying. I’m sure it’s fine for statists, but not for anarchists.”
George, your fellow self identified anarchists in the LP and on the LNC disagree with you. Are they wrong? Are they not really anarchists?
I agree that the LP is no place for anarchists. I think that the so called “Dallas Accord” in 1974 between the LP minarchists and the anarchists doomed the LP to irrelevancy in perpetuity.
That’s alright. I can handle disagreement. :)
“Freedom arises from within the individual: either you are determined to be free, in which case you have grasped the essential tool of your liberty, or not. Nobody else can free you; you must free yourself, if you mean to be free.” – JD
There is no need to actively withdraw your consent from government. Government can only derive just power from the consent of the governed. If you don’t give your consent willingly, knowingly, and competently, then consent is absent. What is government without consent? It is compulsion. It is tyranny.
Rather than needing to actively withdraw consent, you would have to actively give your consent in order for consent to be present. The presumption of innocence and the presumption of lack of consent are based on the same principle. If you didn’t give your consent, actively, it isn’t present.
One of the concepts you’ve previously discussed is transparency and openness, in political parties, and in government. In the absence of information about what the government does with your consent, you aren’t giving informed consent. What is secrecy and opacity in government? It is fraud.
These are not difficult concepts, philosophically. But, they seem to elude a great many people.
Best wishes on your path toward freedom. “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” – Wachowskis
“If seed in the black Earth may become such roses, what might the heart of man become on his long path to the stars?” – Chesterton
John Galt said;
“If you didn’t give your consent, actively, it isn’t present.”
Modern “anarchists” can define their own meanings to common words and phrases, but that foes not change reality and those redefinitions will not be accepted by the overwhelming majority of the rest of the world.
The concept of “Qui Tacet Consentit ” has been the consensus for thousands of years.
I agree, I’m just belaboring the obvious by making it more explicit than it needs to be.
If government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, it’s like a contract. And contracts are not signed by silence.
I’ve also, sadly I might say, have given up hope on the LP’s ability to effect change and therefore have stopped voting for any real reason. I voted for Obama as a bet to bring a fence hanging Deomocrat over to our side, believing that the Obama presidency would be a excercise in futility. I have only been able to successfully argue in favor of the lack of government and organizations who attempts to used a government system to achieve a trully greater free market economy have failed in my lifetime. We should stop wasting our time and money fighting politically and pool our resources to advance free market activities through quality investment and organization. I like the Doug Casey method. Become properous and enfluence our world.
Skip, have you read the New Libertarian Manifesto? It addresses the suggestion you make and it’s a short read.
Thanks for commenting.
It’s a non sequitur to claim that to exercise a choice is to endorse and advocate the existence of the institution or framework that offered that choice. The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem is just one thought experiment of many that can expose the error in such reasoning. Another example is if every ballot included an I-reject-the-state option. Even if the results were non-binding, checking that box wouldn’t imply consent for the existence of the state — any more than delivering a less-than-mortal blow to your enemy implies that you desire your enemy to remain alive.
Exploiting a weakness in the machinations of an opponent does not imply endorsement of the existence of that opponent or his machinations. You’re confusing expressed consent with a tiny opportunity cost of not expressing rejection of the state. If you ostentatiously decline to vote, but you voluntarily get a driver’s license or a marriage license or a building permit, then you are embracing the state’s machinations much more tightly than merely by voting for maximal reduction of the state.
In game-theoretic terms, the strategy of voting for more liberty dominates the strategy of ballot boycotting. In any scenario in which liberty is increased by liberty-lovers boycotting elections, liberty would be increased more effectively by those liberty-lovers voting for more liberty.
Your example boycotts are all cases of people exercising real bargaining power, by withholding something the other party wants. Ballot boycotters have no bargaining power against the State, because the State does not want liberty advocates voting anyway. Any signal from the few ballot boycotters is inevitably lost in the overwhelming noise of voter apathy. A much clearer signal can be sent by voting for more liberty. Such an option isn’t necessarily available in every race, but we in the Libertarian Party work hard to provide that option. I’ve spent many hours and thousands of dollars to provide it here in Silicon Valley.
You completely sabotage your argument by saying that State punishment for failing to accept State offers does not make acceptance non-voluntary. This means that anything you do to avoid punishment — paying your taxes, obeying arbitrary traffic rules, showing up for jury duty, etc. — is voluntary and constitutes endorsement of the existence of the state. Your concession here ends the debate.
What’s worse, it sabotages your entire libertarian worldview. You’ve just told aggressors that credible threats of imminent force do not constitute aggression when the threats work, and that aggression only occurs when the threat has to be carried out. Perhaps you mis-spoke in eagerness to echo agorist rhetoric, but the implication of your words couldn’t be clearer. That implication is in a theoretical way even more shocking than your notion that every voter is giving “personal sanction” to your “enslavement” and so is presumably subject to Tim-McVeigh-style lethal self-defense from you. If you don’t think you have the right to attack us voters who you say sanction your enslavement, then I’m curious where you draw your limits on the self-defense rights of you so-called slaves.
When I said that the only alternative to the potential tyranny of the many is the potential tyranny of the few, I was speaking of practical alternatives and not of all logically possible alternatives. Yes, it’s logically possible that David Koresh and Randy Weaver and Ted Kaczynski and their kind could magically win their every confrontation with the State or the Mafia, but it’s also logically possible that you are the last son of Krypton and are impervious to all tyranny. The unfortunate reality is that in every single modern instance of a vacuum in State authority, protection markets have always operated like the Sopranos, and never like an anarcholibertarian fantasy. In the hundreds or thousands of cases of competition among State-ignoring “protection” agencies, there has not been a single instance where the market operated as anarcholibertarian theory predicts. Anarcholibertarian theory regarding defense agencies is one of the most thoroughly refuted hypotheses in all the social sciences.
Regarding rights protection and consent of the governed, see http://libertarianmajority.net/whence-the-authority-of-the-state. It’s just silly to claim that rejection of anarchism implies endorsement of whatever the mob decides to do. That I claim the majority will sometimes adequately protect our rights does not mean I claim that the majority will always adequately protect our rights.
After insulting slaves who died for more freedom, you now insult me by calling me “content” with our level of freedom. I’ll put my record of activism for increased freedom up against yours any day.
When I talk about “the history of our species and our planet”, it’s weak for you to quibble about “eight years ago”. Please read http://knowinghumans.net/2006/07/fear-neophobia-not-police-state.html and http://www.reason.com/news/show/129993.html and then tell me what generation in what non-trivial society has ever been as enduringly free as ours.
Your mousetrap analogy fails, because inventions are non-rivalrous (and even if you’re a believer in intellectual property, you stipulated that you got the mousetrap from the rightful inventor). To make your analogy relevant, the mousetrap would have to be stolen property and you would know it to be such. Stolen property is a “thing”, and you say “things are not evil or good”, but I doubt you would say it’s moral to accept what you know to be stolen property — e.g. a stolen Domino’s pizza. So I repeat my question: how does your use of the State’s allegedly-theft-financed infrastructure — streets, water, sewage, power, police protection, justice, etc. — not constitute endorsement of the State’s existence under your theory that “when you use something, you validate it, you give it your personal sanction”?
When I said “your views are evolving rapidly”, I meant your views on political strategy — the very topic of this conversation about voting strategy. In the last year or so your preferred political strategy has gone IIRC from LP to BTP back to LP and now to agorist, and sometime in there you were talking about joining the GOP to work with Paulistas. For your age I had no knowledge except your photo, so me saying I infer you are “young” is actually a compliment. So please have the courtesy to find out what I mean when you’re not sure, instead of just assuming that I’m being rude (as you mistakenly did earlier when you called my phrase “ideological purity” a “smear”).
P.S. Note that all my arguments here are in a way an admission against interest. Making the LP more effective might get a lot easier if the rest of the LP’s anarchists gave up on politics. It would be amusing to see anarchists like Mary Ruwart and Susan Hogarth have to defend themselves from your charge that they are giving personal sanction to your enslavement. I suppose they could say that until recently you were sanctioning it too, and that you may be engaging in contract fraud by now trying to back out of the deal you had agreed to earlier. If voting expresses consent, for how many minutes or decades does the consent last?
Before you follow Konkin all the way over the cliff, I wonder if you noticed his position against all forms of punishment that don’t constitute pure restitution (including interest and prosecution costs). This is even farther ’round the bend than Ruwart’s position, which I discuss at http://libertarianintelligence.com/2008/05/checkbook-justice-in-ruwarchistan.html.
Oh, my goodness. Dead languages from a brutal imperial culture. Well, that makes the case without even getting the declension right. Or does it?
Qui tacet, consentire videtur. He who is silent is supposed to consent. Or, the silence of a party implies his consent. Compare to: Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi tractatur de ejus commodo. He who is silent is considered as assenting, when his interest is at stake.
But also compare to: Qui tacet non utique fatetur, sed tamen verum est eum non negare. He who is silent does not indeed confess, but yet it is true he does not deny.
Now, what is silence in the case of agreeing to be governed by representatives without portfolio regarding to be determined events and items of business, without any legal recourse if the representative votes against your interests? Is it more like the assent implied in a driver asking a car full of passengers, “I thought we’d go to Arby’s” and two passengers express enthusiasm and the third says nothing? Or is it more like the assent implied when someone goes into a store, chooses some items, puts money on the counter, the clerk rings up the items and says, “that’ll be $X,” takes the money already tendered, and hands over a receipt plus change? Or is it yet more like the silence that implies no confession when the cops break someone’s legs by tossing him off a highway overpass with his hands cuffed, then shout at him “You were resisting arrest weren’t you?”
Because there is a clever Latin phrase for all that stuff. There are some situations where not saying anything is taken for acceptance, but these are not complicated situations. George makes the valid point that consenting to be governed is much more like a contract, where terms and conditions would be stated explicitly, where the parents could not consent for generations yet to come, where individual consent would be expected. Say, the oath of citizenship one takes on getting a passport.
The right to remain silent is codified in contemporary American justice in ways that silence implies agreement is not. I would say that George is right in comparing the consent to be governed to a contract, or, say, a signed confession. The cops write everything down and then demand that the “suspect” or subject of their interrogation sign. He doesn’t sign, nor does he say anything. Is that evidence that he agrees? No, it isn’t, and the Romans said so.
Where is my interest at stake in consenting to be governed, and taxed, and conscripted, and bled, and killed for the sake of those who have power? I don’t see my interest anywhere in any of that. Do you?
A long and rather pretentious commentary on some arguments, including ones that don’t seem to be present, is made above and includes information on driver licenses, etc.
As a sovereign individual, I do not need permission to own property, to travel by means of my choice, to engage in sexual liaison with one or more other people. I think the best approach is to give nothing to the state and take nothing from it. Etienne de la Boetie does not advocate attacking the state, so much as withdrawing from it. Let it topple on its own, just don’t do anything to support it.
However, arguably, a license tag on the back of the car and a driver license in the wallet decrease enormously the nature and extent of the delay and conflict inherent in the presence of uniformed highway men who impede the flow of commerce and traffic. One could argue that getting a license plate is a defensive move to pre-empt a long boring roadside conversation, or a trip to the lair of the robbers (police station, whatever).
One could also look at the explicit language. For a passport, the government bothers to establish a citizenship oath as part of the documentation. So, if you get a passport, you are making an agreement that has the form of consenting to be governed. The driver license does not have that form, in states where I’ve had one. It bears my signature, but doesn’t say that I’m agreeing to anything. Arguably, the signature, like the photograph, is a way of identifying that it is me.
The marriage license does have the form of a contract and again it doesn’t say dick about consenting to be governed. You should read one some time. There are all kinds of things implied about treating with the state to get a license, just as there are all kinds of preachers who won’t perform an unlicensed ceremony. Reading into the existence of a marriage license a great deal of consent to be governed seems unworkable.
For a thorough review of how the constitution is not a contract, at least not one involving individuals (it is arguably a compact among the several states), see Lysander Spooner “The Constitution of No Authority” in “No Treason.” I think it is number 6 – like “The Prisoner” on that campy British spy show.
Game theory has been introduced, again in the long pretentious analysis aforementioned.
The problem with any analysis of elections as games with voters as players is the disproportionate power held by the vote counters. If you assume that the votes are being counted, that the results of the voting are as published by the vote counting enterprises (county clerks for the most part, with various titles of office) then it is appropriate to consider game theory in evaluating how to move.
However, the overwhelming evidence is that the votes are not counted, and not properly reported. Go to FEC.gov and get their recent .pdf file on the election results. Many states show no votes counted for certain candidates who were on the ballot in other states and registered as write-in within other states. Now, who can believe that the people who bothered to register to write-in a candidate – usually some dozens of signatures involved – none of them bothered to vote for that candidate? Or we have the reports of various secretaries of states that five out of 150 counties reported write-in votes, but the remaining counties did not.
We have decade after decade after decade of presidential elections where shenanigans are thoroughly documented. Mayor Daley fixed the elections in Chicago in 1960. So JFK won and Nixon lost. William F. Buckley says on his show “Firing Line” that he had an uncle in South Texas who was such a good Democrat that, although he died in 1946, managed to vote for LBJ for Senate in 1948 and again in 1954. The count and the re-count in Florida in 2000 has been reviewed at great length, as have the voting procedures in Ohio in 2004. There is only one seated Senator from Minnesota right now because of conflicts over which ballots are to be counted in that state.
If one is going with game theory, then the first step in any meaningful political struggle would be to get control of the county government where the voters are registered and the votes are counted. If your political movement or party or what have you has no control at that level in any county and you expect to “win” in the game of elections, you are deluded.
Consent to be governed isn’t on any ballot I’ve ever filled out, so your discussion of marriage and driver’s licenses backs up my argument.
That not every vote — especially every write-in vote — is properly counted does not mean that the overwhelming majority of votes are not properly counted. It would be conveniently easy to believe that the State has to systematically mis-count election results in order to keep us liberty-lovers from the victories we otherwise would/could earn. The related talk of “delusion” here seems ironic.
I’m curious what precisely makes my arguments above “pretentious”. (I’ve long since learned that I never get specific answers when I question accusations of this facile sort, but I always go through the motion of asking how I could have phrased what I had to say in a way that couldn’t arbitrarily be given the label in question.)
Your conclusion about the overwhelming majority of votes applies equally to them not being counted properly. You’ve really no idea. To say that you blindly trust the vote counters to mostly count the votes is very pleasant of you. It does not impress me as evidence of any kind. Maybe you can show some analysis, or statistics, or reports by independent entities as to the validity of county vote gathering. I expect you’ll find that it varies widely by location.
In computer cryptography we call that approach “trust me.” “The system has validity at level ‘trust me.'” “It isn’t open source, so the algorithm is a black box marked ‘trust me.'” I’ve also heard that “trust me” is used in Hollywood as slang for “I’m screwing you and we both know it.”
We don’t have to subsume this argument into a monolithic conspiracy of “The State” versus “us liberty-lovers” in order to get bad results. You know this point, so you are evidently attempting to reduce my argument by replacing it with one that would be absurd. To get bad results “us liberty-lovers” would only need to be aware of political interest groups at the county level willing to use some vote fraud to manipulate some elections, at the margins.
Take for example Ron Paul. You can say any number of things against him, and anarchists should not be eager to embrace all known aspects of his ideology. But you should also be willing to admit he had a significant appeal among some liberty enthusiasts, including the LP in 1988 and some Austrian economist sorts in the time since. You’ll also have noticed that he did fairly well in the primary and caucus functions in places like Nevada and Louisiana. Now, we have actual results from Louisiana where qualified and validated delegates were deliberately removed in various parishes by election officials using very dated voter registration records, even though more recent records were available. On information and belief, Dr. Paul won the caucuses in Louisiana. As you know, a political victory is unlike coming in second in terms of generating interest and momentum.
So, it is precisely at the margin where cutting open a few bags of ballots and inserting a bunch of ballots for a more statist candidate, like John McCain, that make a substantial difference. Again, if you want to apply game theory to the outcome, you ought to be concerned about the vote counting. I think your naive assumption that because most votes are mostly counted most of the time in most counties then everything should mostly be okay is rather childish in its simplicity.
There, see? I’ve reduced your argument in the fashion you attempted to reduce mine.
With regard to describing your analysis as pretentious, as you surmise, that is a feeling or vibe. I think making it as long as you did without breaking off your answer into several posts was pretentious in the assumption that everyone would so admire your reasoning that they would want to follow your verbose post. Also, you make a number of erudite statements about the nature of particular arguments that seem to suppose a shared background in rhetoric which isn’t clearly in evidence.
Also, on the pretentiousness vibe, which is intended to be a comment directed at your arguments, not at you, I find your use of other web sites as a sort of “Oh, I don’t have to bother going over my reasons and applying them to what was specifically said here,” approach. This is mildly irritating, like other types of pretentious behavior, because it assumes an eagerness on the part of your reader to go look through pages and pages of slightly relevant material somewhere else. You aren’t more important than the other people here, so you shouldn’t pretend authority to send us off to do research and read what you’ve written elsewhere. If you have something to say that was said somewhere else, take the time to copy and paste. This seems like a simple enough courtesy.
John Galt, you agree it would be absurd to “believe that the State has to systematically mis-count election results in order to keep us liberty-lovers from the victories we otherwise would/could earn”, and then you posit a conspiracy in which they did exactly that.
Saying that I’m “naive” and “childish” and I “blindly trust vote counters” is name-calling, not an argument. What I trust is competition among http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polls#Polling_organizations. Unless you have evidence that vote-counting fraud has been anywhere close to the margin of victory of nanny statism over liberty in America, your conspiracy theories aren’t very relevant to the topic of libertarian voting strategy. (Even if elections were regularly stolen from libertarians by nanny statists, I would still argue that liberty-loving voters should make our enemies keep needing to steal elections, rather than just surrender to them.)
A lecture on pretentiousness from someone offering Latin lessons under the pseudonym “John Galt”. How droll.
Your desiderata for pretentiousness are bizarre. I confine myself to one comment at a time precisely to make it easier for people to skip what I have to say if they don’t want to hear it, and I consider it presumptuous (not to mention disorganized) to issue bursts of comments on somebody else’s blog. I assume no “eagerness” of people to read what I’ve written. On the contrary, I would consider it impertinent to cut and paste large swaths of my writings into somebody else’s blog.
In my last response I offered three links to my previous writings. The first was to a short text that is narrowly aimed at a question George asked me: whence the authority of the state? The second was to a short essay that sets forth my historical argument for why I think we have been getting even more free in many ways. I didn’t want to make what you already called a long comment any longer, and I don’t want to hijack this discussion with a side debate on the history of freedom, so I used a link instead of pasting. The third link was in an aside about Konkin’s theory of justice. If that topic doesn’t interest you, exercise your free will not to click the link. I submit that a link is better for all concerned than the alternatives of 1) pasting that entire blog posting or 2) not giving George sufficient context for my question about Konkin.
You write that I “make a number of erudite statements about the nature of particular arguments that seem to suppose a shared background in rhetoric which isn’t clearly in evidence”. That complaint is content-free. I asked how I could have phrased what I had to say in a way that couldn’t arbitrarily be called “pretentious” or some other name. You did not answer.
Thus the only specifics in your complaint are about how I use comment boundaries and hyperlinks. The only other content I can hypothesize in your complaint is that I’m deliberately creating a pretense that I’ve elsewhere already addressed many of the topics here in a succinct and easily-referenced fashion. Well, that’s no “pretense”, that’s just a fact. If it intimidates you or makes you fantasize that I consider myself an “authority” or taxes your mouse-clicking finger, well, that’s really not my problem. :-)
A very cool thing about the Internet is that one can profitably converse on close to a level playing field with some people as far above one’s intellectual weight class as some other interlocutors are below it. One can react to these two kinds of opportunities by being exhilarated and magnanimous (respectively), or by being intimidated and condescending. Others won’t always correctly interpret one’s reactions — witness how this paragraph will be interpreted — but there’s usually not much point in policing the reactions of others. You attempted to police mine, and I’ll let you be the judge of how useful the resulting sub-thread has turned out to be.
It is clever of you to ignore the statement I made about political interest groups involved in counting votes engaging in some vote fraud in some elections at the margin. Evidently you now want me to ignore your comments. I have won this point. Extensive documentation shows that various elections in counties such as Cook County Illinois have been deliberately miscounted. Because you offer no evidence that all elections are without fraud, your game theory ideas have no merit. You can’t win a rigged game, even if it is only rigged some of the time.
Your arguments are indeed naive and childish, yes. Your blind trust in vote counters does appear to be a signature weakness in your argument, yes. Perhaps you would rather feel insulted than fix your argument, which is a weak excuse for a rebuttal.
You are, of course, welcome to use your time to vote. It is your time. Your assertion that I have to meet some absurd standard to prove that vote fraud is enough to dissuade you from voting is silly. All I have to demonstrate is that you can’t win a rigged game. Which, above, I’ve done.
You asked for elaboration on my concern that your analysis was verbose and pretentious. So, I complied with your request. Instead of choosing to thank me for responding to your request, you insult me by saying that I shouldn’t offer a lecture on pretentiousness. So, when you make requests, my response will be to ignore them. Similarly, I did not first use the Latin phrase for “silence implies consent.” Mr. John Famularo did so, though his declension was mistaken, I believe. I offered a review of the Roman legal passages involved in “who is silent” to suggest that he had the wrong end of the tool in that case.
There is an obvious tactic which suggests itself from your thought that no one is eager to read what you write. Instead of writing comments, you could remain silent. From his statements above, I feel sure that George Donnelly would not assume you were consenting to anything by remaining silent. There is the possibility that Mr. Famularo would suppose your silence implied some sort of assent, though without showing your interest being at stake, I’m not sure how he could establish such a supposition.
Are you at all familiar with Michael van Notten’s work on a theory of justice?
You expressed curiosity on what made me suppose your comments were pretentious. I responded. You don’t like my response, which is fine. I won’t make this error of supposing that you would be gracious about a response to your request for more information again. You are not gracious.
I did not choose to police your comments. I responded politely to your request for more information. Instead of being gracious, you have been churlish. One can only suppose that this represents some sort of reaction like you imagine about intimidation or magnanimity. I think the idea that you hold, that everyone you are corresponding with is beneath your intellect, oozes out of ever paragraph of your very pretentious posts.
I have now gone out of my way to elaborate on my response to your complaint about my response to your request for more details on my reaction to your post. Enough. I shall not burden our host by further responding to you, ever again.
George, I wonder if you have been introduced to some of the New Hampshire agorist and voluntaryist groups. There is an active “New Hampshire Underground” associated with the Free Keene Press. If you have not been introduced to those groups, I would be pleased to follow up.
“John Galt”, you write “Because you offer no evidence that all elections are without fraud, your game theory ideas have no merit.” The structure of your argument is that the existence of vote-counting fraud any time any place makes all voting futile. That argument needs no further rebuttal beyond this restatement of it, as the fallacy of the excluded middle here is obvious.
Thanks for not responding to my point about polling. Instead, you repeat your name-calling mantra about my “childish” “blind trust in vote counters”, unaware that even without polling data I was able to publicly predict the D, R, and LP vote percentages in my last two races for Congress to within 2 percentage points for each candidate. I suppose the “vote counters” must have worked overtime to ensure that the vote totals came out close to what I predicted, so as to keep me unaware of the conspiracy that only someone as boldly clear-eyed as you can see. Ah, if only you hadn’t sworn off further discussion, you might reveal that I also have a childish blind trust in all of America’s polling firms, each of which is in fact part of the Vast Vote-Counting Conspiracy. :-)
I’m not familiar with van Notten’s theory of justice, at least by that name. I was about to ask you to compare it to Ruwart’s take on justice as explicated by her quotes assembled in my blog posting that I linked to above. Then I remembered that it’s pretentious to expect people to click a link if a topic interests them, as opposed to expecting them to hunt down primary source material based on a dropped name. :-)
I’ll state my request for the third time: “how could I have phrased what I had to say in a way that couldn’t arbitrarily be called ‘pretentious’ or some other name?” You didn’t answer this question about my “erudite statements”, nor did you even give any clue about what statements of mine you were referring to. Thus your only response to my request to troubleshoot my alleged “pretentiousness” was to complain how I divided and distributed my words. Pardon me for not lavishing you with thanks for such an unsatisfying response to my request — even as I paid your response the respect of systematically addressing every element of it.
Your wounded psychologizing about me was an intriguing tease the first time, a predictable (and predicted) disappointment the second time, and is now just tedious. How delicious it is that someone calling himself “John Galt” should whine that his interlocutor has taken insufficient care to protect Mr. Galt’s ego from the offensive spectacle of the other party intelligently answering Galt’s criticisms of his statements. :-) You just broke my irony meter.
I know you’ve sworn off all further responses to me, but just for the record, I remain open to being shown how some paragraph of mine above could be rewritten to make the same points in the same amount of space while somehow also immunizing it from this vacuous charge that it “oozes” the idea “that everyone you are corresponding with is beneath your intellect”. That’s an interesting induction given that your sample size here was 1: George. I doubt seriously that you’re very familiar with my correspondence — and in particular my recent correspondence with George.
John, no, I don’t know of those and would love to hear more, thank you.
Brian the following quote from your posting is erroneous information as are some of your other arguments. “The unfortunate reality is that in every single modern instance of a vacuum in State authority, protection markets have always operated like the Sopranos, and never like an anarcholibertarian fantasy.” Read the “Voluntary City” by the Independence Institute and “Anarchy and the Law” both of which refute your lack of historical research. It seems to me the State appears to create more violence by placing layer upon layer of law which allows the government thugs to continually extract more and more money in various manners from the Citizens until one day either the system implodes or there is civil war or both. The fallacy appears to be in your theory that “Honest Citizens” will be administering the government’s operations and propaganda. There are few Ron Paul’s in government and you saw and read what they did to him. Not one politician working on our so-called bailout plan is even discussing the implementation of honest money, as required by our very Constitution.
Skip, the proper form for a refutation of my claim is to name a time and a place, not to name a book. Where and when you do claim that there has been a modern instance of a vacuum in State authority where protection markets have operated not like the Sopranos but rather like anarcholibertarian fantasy?
“Honest Citizens” is a strawman. My claim is just that we have historical proof that government failure can be less pernicious than the corresponding market failures under anarchy.
As for “honest money”, a picture is worth a thousand words: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/files/cpi_and_deflator.png. If you still want the words, see http://knowinghumans.net/2007/11/liberty-dollars-and-inflation-sense.html.
You keep dreaming of implosion and/or civil war in America, I’ll keep raising my family under America’s historically unprecedented levels of secured freedom and prosperity, and we’ll see how it goes.
First off, welcome aboard! You will find that announcing yourself as an anarchist produces the most amazing variety denouncements of anarchism, very few of them well thought out, but arguing with the denouncers is generally a waste of time.
The reason is that so many people are emotionally wedded to the state that they cannot imagine a society without a state, and if you try to describe one, they will insist that there really is a state in what you’re describing.
If you’re interested in reading a description of an anarchist society, check out L. Neil Smiths “The Probability Broach”.
I don’t believe the LP pledge prevents anyone from being involved in a revolution. The government has initiated force against all of its citizens, merely the threat of incarceration for tax evasion is an initiation of force (given that its credible).
Thus, any violent act in response is self defense. Not that a violent revolution is practical or wise…. but if you want to be a member of the LP, do so, you aren’t compromising and principles in so doing.
I think the FSP is the group you need to quit first though, as their plan is to move to a state and beg the government to let them be free.
Anyway, good luck and best wishes, and don’t listen to the statists, which, as an anarchist, you’ll start finding coming out of the woodwork.
As an objectivist, I find Atlas Shrugged to be a great argument for anarchism– after all, how can you live under a government and not be living for the sake of another? I find Rand’s denouncement of anarchism to be very illuminating in just how Objectivism actually really supports anarchism….. to the point that I think you cannot be an objectivist without being an anarchist. (course telling randians that makes their heads explode.)
You’re telling me that the proper form of refutation requires me to teach you. I can’t teach everybody and everybody needs to learn that various forms of socialism, fascism and communism do not work and have never worked very well. You must educate yourself by reading books instead of listening to the propaganda from talking heads on TV. They’re bought and paid for through campaign and other government advertizing by our two party system. I will however go into a couple of easy to understand argument that applies to all forms of government because I had already written it for an article I’m working on.
Let’s explore the so-called greatest form of government. Our so-called Democratic Republic.
1. The U.S. political leadership, as it has always done for two millenniums now, is going through its traditional routines believing that they are the ordained leaders of our society. They also understand that they must somehow try to represent two major contrarian factions of our society to advance their campaign promises. The financial ruling elites on the one hand provide the predominant financial means of getting to the highest levels of political power and therefore an alliance has to be maintained with this faction to gain the necessary money to get elected. Our Representatives also know that they are really supposed to be representing, in a singular and uncompromised manner, Main Street /We The People, without being swayed by the very financial interests that are partly necessary to get them elected in the first place. Think of it in the same light of being the President of the largest workers Union on the planet, but you need the help of the stock owners and managers of all the companies to help you get elected. How can you give your loyalties to both, especially when there is such as vast amount of redistribution of wealth, where choices of who gets this money through government contracts, grants scholarships, government pensions, etc. etc. etc. are made on a constant basis?
This necessary compromise is the greatest contradiction of any so-called democratic society. This makes it nearly impossible for any Democratic Republic to create a system that fostered the public good/what is in the best interest of the majority. As a large number of people and not just the financial elites, vote for what is in their own best interests, knowing if they do not, they will not gain any of the monetary benefits that this type political system provides. You don’t really think that government employees vote for less taxes or that public school teachers vote for less spending on education, do you? Nor do you think Boeing or United Technologies stockholders and employees vote for less defense spending, do you? This compromise has now brought us to an historical gateway where our decisions both as a political system and as individuals, will forever change our society and they most likely will be wrong, as individuals will vote for what helps them survive over the best interest of the majority. Kind of what you would think that people would do under this circumstance as self survival is a very very strong human characteristic. To think that a specific service using any similar form of social engineering through political determination would not be affected by the same human attributes would be unreasonable.
2. Government requires force through police power and therefore some degree of involuntary servitude and various unintended consequences such as conflict. If one group of people can legally use force against others, knowing that the determinations are flawed due to compromise and conflicts of interest, how can this system foster an ethical society? The last time I checked stealing, which taxation is under any system yet derived by mankind, therefore will not nor cannot foster an ethical society. Just look at it this way… slavery worked very well for the white guys, but take some time to explore what it did to our society as a whole.
If you ever noticed Capitalism eventually wins out by default!!! But there are always some group of people who want to be paid to rule over others. So they set up the same flawed system of taxation through force, paying themselves and the enforcers, police and judges (through police power), contriving various government contracting schemes and the vicious cycle begins again.
Fiat currency eventually reaches it intrinsic value. Brian you should spend, as I and all others should really should as well, more time trying to figure out when that is going to occure and preparing for it.
The Probability Broach is a very interesting book. If you don’t want to read it in book form, it is available at bigheadpress.com as a graphic novel, free. Pretty easy on the eyes, too. You can follow L. Neil’s other writing at his Libertarian Enterprise site, updated about weekly, ncc-1776.org. Not entirely anarchist, but many people who write for him are. I especially like Kent McManigal and Dennis Wilson.
W. Galt, my apologies, your comment was classified as spam. Thanks!
I read the “The Probability Broach” a year ago, so I should probably read it again.
Me neither, but I’m thinking it might be good to eliminate any ambiguity.
I’ve been contemplating that. I think you’re right but I’m moving anyway. Some anarchists are participating in the FSP and it may be good to get a critical mass in place there to jump start things. IOW, my participation is morphing into a subversive role.
Reading “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” I think it was, as I followed her reasoning process, I thought, “Gee, this is leading to anarchy!” But when she claimed her reasoning led her to minarchy, I was dumbfounded.
Thanks for commenting.
Thanks for those links John, I read one of his graphic novels online, great stuff. The ncc-1776 site is alright, no RSS feed tho so it’s hard to keep track of when it’s updated.
Skip, thanks for your comments.
Brian, I have been busy but am preparing a response.
It is always interesting how both so called conservatives and the new progressive movement believe that free enterprise works better with most things yet when it comes to controlling law, legislation and enforcement, government does a great and irreplaceable job. Even with the constant reinforcement that politics, government run law enforcement and the justice systems are extremely corrupt and ineffective, people don’t comprehend how people would voluntarily select individuals and groups they trust at providing those services, even though they do it in almost every other aspect of their lives. I generally believe that partly, it is the lack of belief that there is an alternative, and therefore the common man does not know to take the initiative. Government also promotes authoritarianism through the press and education that allows those protected by government to take control of these services. The use of fines and incarceration of those that resist probably doesn’t’ help either. Religion has also contributed for a very long time, as a means of authoritarian indoctrination that assists in castrating the common man into believing that they cannot take control of their own life and judgments and therefore must be ruled by other. Because god says so and is the very reason our founding father separated church and state.
Skip, you’re right on. Great comment. There’s prejudice against anarchy. People think it means mob rule, when that is actually democracy.
So you’ve become an anarchist. Do you feel more excited and motivated to spread liberty now? Do you feel more part of a community? Has it changed your day-to-day life?
You write, “Ironically it was my involvement in the Libertarian Party – a group of liberty activists who believe in reforming government – that pushed me over the chasm to anarchism. My hopes were high when I joined the LP, but the reality is devastating. The LPers I identify with – the more radical ones – are laboring under a contradiction. They ostensibly pursue an electoral path to liberty, but refuse to do the organizational work necessary to be effective.”
I want to applaud you for publishing a “to-do” list on integrating your new ideas into your life. Yet I can’t help noticing that aside from doing more reading on anarchy, only one item on the list is a positive or affirmative action (as opposed to a cessation, withdrawal, etc.), and it is expressed very vaguely:
“Search for ways to work for greater liberty, without supporting governments.”
I will be interested to hear what fruits your search produces. In particular, please let me know if/when you find a group of people working for freedom while eschewing electoral politics who are doing more of the organizational work necessary to be effective than are radical Libertarians in the LP, and doing it in a way that is based more on compassion (helping liberate others from government oppression) than selfishness, doesn’t compromise their principles, and holds the possibility of leading to a mass movement. I’m not just saying this as a rhetorical point — if you find such a group, I’d really like to know about it.
For myself at present, I prefer the real if nascent community to be found in Libertarian Party circles, however flawed and not fully realized it may be, to an alternative that does not seem to have manifested itself at all.
We need a sense of community, solidarity, dare-I-say *spirituality*, of working together for a higher purpose.
I don’t think pure self interest is a strong enough organizing principle on which to build a movement, because (1) it does not foster a spirit of cooperation and working together to achieve goals, (2) it is viewed highly negatively by society at large, and (3) it is not sufficiently inspirational to attract enough of the young, idealistic people needed to build a strong movement. Ayn Rand, through her brilliant writing, probably did as much as could be done to reclaim the concept of selfishness and build a mass movement based on self-interest, but I think objectivism as an organizing principle for (r)evolutionary change is inherently limiting.
Ironically, I think the main advantages of anarchy over limited government are those which libertarian anarchists seem to have barely noticed. Anarchism has a powerful arsenal of symbolism, cultural cachet via “The Matrix,” Emma Goldman, etc., an inherent radical appeal, a historical pedigree of people who fought for freedom in very bottom-up ways, the punk DIY ethic, and a degree of “street cred” that outstrips by light years anything possessed by advocates of limited government.
I would say to any libertarians who declare themselves anarchists: Don the trappings that the legacy of anarchism has afforded you, make them yours, and run with them!
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))
“Imagine for a moment marching up a hill, lit only by starlight and a distant bonfire on a hot July night in August, in Andalucia, near the very tip of southern Spain. Looking at the stars you point out the red twinkle of Mars to the comrade whose arm you entwine. She comes from the opposite end of Europe. Behind you lies an agriculture estate, left derelict by its owner but now seized by agricultural workers. Behind you hundreds of comrades queue to try and ford the shallow river in the dark. On either side olive grooves stretch up the hills in neat rows, the red soil now dark and cool.
Someone on the road ahead starts singing ‘A Las Barricadas’ (To the Barricades) in Spanish, slowly this is taken up by others behind and ahead, in Italian, Turkish and other languages, sometimes just hummed or whistled by those who don’t know the words. The Spanish version is familiar to me from a scratchy recording an Italian comrade passed on to me on tape. The original recording is of 500,000 people singing this working class anthem at a rally of the anarchist CNT in Barcelona, July 1936, days after the revolution there.
Those on this road have gathered from all over the world, over 50 countries in all. They have temporarily left the struggles in their own countries to come here to dream of a new reality together. Here the weather beaten features of a male campesino from Brazil, are found beside the sunburned features of an 18 year old female squatter from Berlin. Do you feel you are imagining something impossible, something from a Hollywood blockbuster or the past? Then add one more detail, a gasp goes up from those on the road for overhead a shooting star briefly appears. Were it not for the collective gasp each of us may have imagined this was a vision we alone were seeing. But no, we look around and realise we are marching, seeing and dreaming together.
In our modern world The Power tells us such dreams are no longer possible. History has ended, there is no dream just the reality of alienation, work and obedience. Yet the scene above is not from a film or from a history book, rather it took place on the evening of August the 2nd 1997. This was the ‘Second encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism’. I could describe it in cold, political terms alone but this would miss the ‘for humanity’ part and in truth for every day we discussed organising ‘against neoliberalism’ we spent another ‘for humanity’.”
-Andrew Flood (Irish left-anarchist – http://struggle.ws/andrew.html)
(1) a little (2) no (3) no.
Well, I write fairly frequently and attempt to start a good number of discussions on Twitter and Facebook. But I’m not sure my activities there are worthy of mention.
And I am still moving to New Hampshire and plan to be active with other anarchists in building a counter-economy and escaping FRNs and what not. But I prefer to talk about that only once I’ve actually done it.
And I’m continuing something that is significant but risky, and therefore I’m hesitant to talk about it.
Electoral politics doesn’t strike me as an ethical alternative for an anarchist.
I think when you explore all its ramifications, it has possibilities, such as better lives for kids, voluntary associations to help those in need, better health care, and end to war and borders, etc.
I’m doing a good bit of reading. I had written off anarchism before so I know very little about its history.
Thanks for the quote and for commenting.
One of the areas of activity you might wish to explore is encryption. Public key cryptography uses various open source algorithms. Cryptographers, mostly people really good at math, have learned over time that secret codes are very vulnerable to attacks which don’t get fixed because, well, they were secret. And secretly attacked, very often, by people who weren’t telling. Open source crypto has been much, much more effective.
Lately, it is being developed into VOIP phone services (unlike Skype which uses a proprietary encryption scheme – a black box which you might be able to trust, or not) and payment systems. Pecunix.com for example lets you upload a GPG key to their server, and all your payment messages are encrypted to that key. Loom.cc has developed a nifty system for secure information transfer, including encrypted nodes. And a number of developers have implemented successful digital bearer instruments. One of these is eCache.
In combination, these ideas represent the ability to send and receive information and transfer value entirely privately. If the governments of the world cannot detect a transaction, they cannot regulate it, prohibit, or tax it.
Have you read J. Neil Schulman’s book _Alongside Night_? It is 30 years old this year. I recently learned that he’s shopping a screenplay treatment he did of the book to make it into a film. Exciting times.
Thank you for your forthright responses. I can certainly understand why you would feel that electoral politics is not an ethical option for an anarchist. While I disagree, even as I would disagree that visiting a mosque and taking part in an Islamic prayer session is an immoral activity for a Catholic — what matters would be whether one’s action thereby harmed or was disloyal to the Catholic faith, the first depending upon the practical consequences of the action and the second upon one’s state of mind — I’m less interested in persuading you to return to electoral politics than to use the Libertarian Party as a vehicle for other purposes.
Many in the top-down/corporatist/conservative/”reform”/whatever-you-call-it faction of the LP would have you believe that the only purpose of the party — indeed, the only purpose any political party can legitimately have — is to elect candidates.
My response to those who say this is, “Oh ye of little imagination!” Why should we simply accept the blueprint handed to us by statists as to what form *our* organization “must” take? While we are in certain respects constrained by law in the kinds of forms we can take and things we can do as a political party, vast areas of activity remain open to us. This list of 65 different community programs of the Black Panther Party from 1965-1982 pretty much speaks for itself: http://www.stanford.edu/group/blackpanthers/programs.shtml The main limits on the kinds of organizing, activism, and social change the party can engage in are those we foolishly choose to impose on ourselves.
The chief importance of the Libertarian Party to the libertarian movement is *not* that it is involved in electoral politics, except indirectly in that it is this involvement in electoral politics which makes it a highly visible and highly participatory organization. Rather, it is the fact that it *is* a highly visible and highly participatory organization, run at least in part in a democratic, bottom-up fashion, which makes the LP invaluable to us.
I believe that to truly succeed, we need a mass movement for liberty in which large numbers of people are active players in shaping their own destinies and claiming via their own actions the freedom that should rightfully be theirs. This movement may not take the form of a strictly political movement like the Women’s Suffrage movement or the Orange Revolution; it could be more of a cultural movement, like the cafe culture that grew up in the early days of mass newspapers and was instrumental in sparking the Age of Democracy, where people (mostly men) would gather in cafes to meet in various societies of all types, including to debate the issues of the day. Or it could arise out of social networking sites like Facebook or in some new youth phenomenon like the hippies, the ravers, hip-hop, etc.
But I think the kind of radical restructuring we seek cannot simply be imposed from the top down, or it will fail to take hold. We can of course simply wait for a cultural or political movement to come along that looks promising, and attempt to graft libertarian ideas onto it. But how much better if we ourselves *are* the movement! A movement built on a solidly pro-freedom foundation should have a much better chance of changing the world without going badly astray.
So I would urge you to consider using the Libertarian Party, not for whatever non-anarchist or debatably ethical purposes some Libertarians incorrectly insist are its only proper functions, but simply as the best mass-participation vehicle that the libertarian movement has at present.
* * *
I would assert that “voluntary associations to help those in need” are much more likely to arise, and succeed, in the context of people who’ve come together for the purpose of helping others, than in the context of people who’ve come together out of self interest. Unless of course you are talking about for-profit enterprises. Those can certainly be effective, but also face a very tough row to hoe in convincing the public that they are doing something good and noble, and are thus at risk of having their work destroyed by statist political actions and movements that present themselves in more altruistic terms.
For other goals, such as “an end to war and borders,” it’s difficult for me to see how self interest would drive such campaigns, unless in the case of the former there happens to be a military draft or something drastic happens to make a particular war or border a real imposition on peoples’ lives, and then the desire will be to end *that* war or tear down *that* border, rather than against wars and borders in general. I think it will be much more effective to rally people under the idealistic, unselfish banners of world peace and one world without walls and fences.
I applaud your desire to move to New Hampshire, and to work with other anarchists to build a counter-economy. These are the kinds of practical, participatory actions that hold real movement-building and change-creating promise. But to bring this back to my initial questions to you, I’ll think we’ll tend to feel more excited, motivated, and part of a community when we view such actions through the lens of engaging in a sacred struggle for liberty, rather than simply as expedient actions to serve our self-interest. And I believe if we feel excited, motivated, and part of a community, we will feel far happier and be far more effective!
* * *
When I encouraged libertarian anarchists to “Don the trappings that the legacy of anarchism has afforded you, make them yours, and run with them!” I actually was not thinking so much of reading up on anarchism — at least not as a philosophy. That’s all well and good, but what I had in mind was more the status that anarchism holds in the popular culture, and its rich iconography — the black flags, the street punk aesthetic of the “Black Bloc,” the anarchy symbol, etc.
Admittedly much of this territory needs to be claimed from leftists who use it to promote an un-libertarian “anarcho-syndicalist” agenda, and libertarian anarchists will face a real battle in defining anarchy and its cultural iconography in libertarian terms. But as I said, make them yours and run with them! The leftists can hardly object to what is arguably cultural plagiarism on grounds of intellectual property rights. And in the fundamental point that “anarchism simply means no government, everything else is part of another agenda,” I think the libertarian faction has a winning argument, even it may have to expand its notions of what constitutes “government.”
Stopping by cuz a buddy pointed out this post and while I’ve not read all the comments (and will be traveling this weekend), I wanted to say congrats to Donnelly!
Also, No state will ever be overthrown through boycott (i.e. personal secession).
You probably need to go read a thinker like de la Boetie. Here’s a linkie thingie to get you started: http://tmh.floonet.net/articles/laboetie.html
And, believe it or not, there were many gay people who gave not a whit about Prop 8. They think the state shouldn’t regulate marriage at all.
I’ll be back on Monday to check in for your responses.
John, yes, I’ve been reading about that stuff more and more lately and pondering how to apportion my assets in the most beneficial way. That you can receive and make payment secretly is spectacular, but what about the other side of the transaction where you receive or deliver some product or service? That seems a little more difficult to hide.
I bought “Alongside Night” in PDF a couple weeks ago and it’s loaded up on my Kindle. I’ve got to finish Gandhi’s autobiography, G. Edward Griffin’s book on the Fed and a book on photography first, though. :)
Thanks for commenting.
From my point of view, the analogy doesn’t work because electoral politics is about fighting over control of the gun that is government, while your example is like trying out a competing product. I know some Catholics would find taking part in an Islamic prayer session to be repugnant, but it wouldn’t involve any aggression, while electoral politics does.
I’m with you on the mass movement, but I think if the LP can have any effect on that, it will be as a retardant.
I sometimes think about how to kick such a thing off; like Gandhi’s march to the sea and the making of salt. It’s such a huge undertaking. It needs to be broken down into manageable parts. I’m at a loss.
I think you’re right, but I resist this whole “help others” for the sake of helping others thing. Also, I would rather see the people who want the help form their own organization rather than the people who have the help do it.
IOW, a mutual aid society IMO is best formed by those who hope to benefit from it. I like that model, rather the model where someone gifts funds to others.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the latter, I just prefer the former.
War does immense harm to those who prosecute it. Not only the inflation, the debt, the lost production but also the loss of civil liberties and the loss of standing in the world. The feeling of guilt that comes with seeing the recipients of your tax dollars murder innocents is also not in one’s self interest.
Borders keep Americans from working and traveling where they want, for example Europe. A lot of Americans dream of working and living in the UK or France but the border stands in their way. The people from other nations that come here contribute enormously to the nation’s productivity, production and even tax receipts, which more or less floats all the boats a little higher.
I do have a sense of the struggle for liberty being sacred, but I resist that kind of talk as mystical and tending to inflate one’s ego. I mean no offense to you, it’s just that I found that when I thought about it that way, my ego tended to grow and I think it’s best to approach these kinds of things with as much humility as possible (a la Gandhi). Humility is not my strong point but at least I try to rein in my ego now and then. :)
I can see we approach this from two very different philosophical foundations. Our ends are very similar I expect, we’re just getting there via different paths.
I agree with that sentiment completely. That’s why I’m sticking with the Free State Project, even though I’ve abandoned its ostensible reason for existence: the electoral process. The community they are building up there is exactly what I want to be a part of. I want that for my family as well.
I’m even more lacking there. I had to overcome some of my own prejudices to not see the black flag as something off-putting and counterproductive.
hehe, excellent points.
Thanks for commenting Starchild, I always enjoy my discussions with you and more often than not learn something and/or am provoked into deeper thought on some matter.
Thanks! And thanks for commenting. Excellent avatar there.
Really off the subject but quite exciting – It will be very interesting to see if the statist social engineers will allow our endeavor to fit into their scheme. A little over two years ago I invented a low tech flipping panel wind and water turbine (see video on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NTbAz9GyHw
I showed it to a group of Ex-Pratt and Whitney engineers about a year ago, one being a PhD in Fluids and the others jet engine turbine guys and they added some brilliant but low tech ideas to the system to increase it cost efficiency. They just finalized the first estimated cost analysis and although we are going to surely tighten these costs up as full engineering of the various component are completed, the number are more extrodianry than I ever thought. Engineers generally are of a conservative nature and the estimates in may opinion reflects that. How does $0.0303 re kW/hr. sound. That’s installed with a DC cable to the shoreline with a life expectancy of 16 years. I’m not an engineer but because of the low tech aspects of the design, everything from a technology standpoint has already been done, so only things such as how to best deploy and remove the system for scheduled maintanence, etc. are still yet to be specifically determined. We had a submarine electronics expert in their last week picking his brain and quite honestly some of the jargone was over my head as they bonced around various ideas to most cost effectively make the system. The system, even “without” tax incentives as are provided to windpower and other alternatives, will be able to compete head to head with fossil and nuclear in those locations that have a relatively fast ocean current like the Florida Gulfstream. How about them apples!!!!
Hey that’s pretty neat! Congrats.
I came to Anarchy almost the same way. It’s heartening to hear that there’s others out there.
Thanks for commenting, Jake. I think there are more of us than we imagine.
As long as legalized force, i.e. power can be gained through some sort of political method(s) there will be those who vie for that power. Couple those who can manipulate those in power through economic means and you have government as we know it today and throughout most of history. The power to tax becomes the means for those who govern to benefit what should be in the best interest of the majority, but what in reallty, is their own best interest. We want to beleive that such as system will provide a means to a peaceful and prosperous society but history has not shown that to be the case. The solution which history has been shown to work at various levels is less govenement, thereby eliminating those with monetary power the ability to gain legal power. Less taxation allows the most fair playing field of competition and allows more individuals the ability to determine their own consumption and investment rather than the political systems constant manipulations, compromise and redistribution of wealth for their special interest. We are surely headed down the wrong path and many will suffer the consequences. Government is an expence and thinking that increasing spending on expences will create prosperity is as Winston Churchhill stated, “trying to stand in a bucket and lift youself up by the handle.” It did not work during the 1st Depression and it surely will not work this time either, as our society is even less prepared for what is going to occur.
Skip Robinson wrote:
“It did not work during the 1st Depression and it surely will not work this time either, as our society is even less prepared for what is going to occur.”
Your right, but giving up and dreaming of some utopian anarchist society is not going to make things better. The founding fathers created a new society that was better than the European monarchies. Better but not perfect. It is possible for some people today to devote themselves to retarding and reversing the current descent into socialism. It will require political action by people whose primary interest is not holding office but limiting government. If you are not involved, you should not complain about the state of affairs.
One small thing I intend on doing is seeing to it that Arlen Spector is defeated next year. He has demonstrated that his primary concern is holding political office and only pays lip service to any idea of limited government.
John, it’s government that is the utopia. People think it will solve all their problems but it clearly it’s a complete disaster. Abandon your silly utopian ideas before it’s too late! ;D
Minarchists do not claim government will “solve all their problems”, nor is it clear that government is a “complete disaster”. According to the three leading indices of freedom, only 13 nations (out of almost 200) are currently more free than America. America’s constitutional republican framework has been by far the most successful in human history. It has been increasing personal and civil liberties almost monotonically for two centuries, and we are among the most economically free nations in the world, with a per-capita GDP exceeded only by Norway and Luxembourg. Our 300 million people live and work in a continent-wide nation with a $13 trillion economy built on a twenty-first century technological infrastructure. By contrast, anarcholibertarians can merely wave toward a couple of medieval island nations with populations and population densities four orders of magnitude less than those of modern industrialized states. As great as America is, we have detailed, redundant, and current empirical evidence backing up the mainstream findings of modern economic science about how market-oriented reforms within the statist framework can make America even more free and even more prosperous. Anarcholibertarians have nothing of the kind to support their moralizing a priori claim that America would be a better place if we completely dismantled our system of rights protection in favor of a promise by liberty-lovers to set a good example of aggression abstinence.
Skip, private markets in rights enforcement is different from private markets in, say, shoes (to use Rod Long’s example). They are different because of rivalry and excludability lead to market failures in the provision of one but not the other. Yes, there is such a thing as government failure, but merely citing its existence (as you do above) cannot expunge the idea of market failure from all our economics textbooks. I’m still waiting for you to identify a modern instance of a vacuum in State authority where protection markets have operated not like the Sopranos but rather like anarcholibertarian fantasy. Until you do, I rest on my argument that there is insufficient historical evidence for the proposition that American should try anarchism instead of minarchism. However, I have no problem with anarchists migrating to vacuums of State authority such as in Somalia. Good luck with that.
By the way, we minarchist libertarians don’t agree with you that the power to tax should ideally be used to finance whatever is in “the best interest of the majority”. Mandatory taxation should fall only on public bads (i.e., monopolizing, consuming, polluting, or congesting the commons) and should finance only public goods (i.e. non-rivalrous non-excludable services for protecting life/liberty/property). Your “best interest of the majority” sounds like a formula for Leviathan.
Of course some believers in limited government do not support coercive taxation for *any* reason. Your taxation of “public bads (i.e., monopolizing, consuming, polluting, or congesting the commons)” sounds like a formula for Leviathan.
Do these minarchists oppose class-action fines on aggression? Or do they just not consider some/any of these four things to be aggression? There is no ethical difference between a fine imposed by a jury in a class action suit and an equivalent “tax” imposed by a legislature.
No Leviathan has ever been maintained on my starvation diet of taxing only these four kinds of aggression. Every Leviathan depends on Skip’s diet of taxation to finance whatever is in “the best interest of the majority”.
There are *significant* differences between jury-awarded fines and taxation. Fines imposed by juries result from specific complaints of aggression. They are imposed at the conclusion of a court process in which defendants are guaranteed to be heard in a carefully proscribed procedure, whereas legislatures may pass taxes in a purely political fashion without ever listening to those who are to be taxed. Jury fines do not set up schemes for collection of payments in perpetuity. Jurors are not members of an entrenched government class, but are chosen randomly from the populace for one-time duty. Jury fines are typically imposed on single defendants, or sometimes a small group of defendants, whereas taxes are typically levied on a large cross-section of industry or the population.
Minarchists (a term I dislike, but we seem to lack a suitable replacement) may consider some, though probably not all, of what falls under your four categories to be aggression (*breathing* is technically consumption of the commons — do you assert that this activity should be taxed?). Some may support the concept of class-action fines, just as some (like yourself) support various types of coercive taxation. Of course there is some point beyond which a person’s support for government would render the label “minarchist” or “supporter of limited government” inaccurate, but I’m not prepared to say exactly where that point is. I do think that the more government a person favors, the less libertarian his or her views.
I don’t mind admitting that the amount of government George Donnelly favors (none) makes his views more libertarian than mine. I believe abolition of government is the libertarian ideal; the only reason I don’t advocate it is because I’m afraid it would not be sustainable. Perhaps after a period of truly limited government, humanity will reach a point where anarchy can be safely allowed without fear that it will soon revert to tyranny.
I’m not sure what you believe is proved by asserting that no Leviathan has ever been maintained by taxing only the monopolizing, consuming, pollution, or congestion of the commons. Has any Leviathan ever been maintained by taxing *only* the consumption of drugs? No. But a government which taxes drug use is likely to exceed its proper scope in lots of other ways as well, and I think this would likewise be true for a government that imposes coercive taxation of any kind. When one embraces legal aggression, an important line is crossed. If involuntarily collected moneys are being taken as penalties for aggression, then their collection is not itself aggression, and they should be called fines rather than taxes to avoid confusion.
I don’t believe what you suggest qualifies as a “starvation diet.” Over time, a “starvation diet” starves the dieter. Your use of this term in the context of government use of resources implies that your intended result is the starvation and death of government, i.e. anarchy.
If I could only get leaching blood sucking bureaucrats to do something constructive instead of stealing from thsoe who are productive, I will have reached my uptopian dream. People are allowed to pollute only due to the corruptive nature of the governments judicial system that take the erronious opinion that only bureacrates, appointed by political means could be able to achieve justice. History again has shown them to be wronggggg. Quit your jobs and do something productive if you are competient of doing such work. It appears that there are those that are best at stealing others productivity and giving them permission to do so is unconsionable. Let increase our exspensives (government) to achieve prosperity. That sounds like a good idea!!!!!
If you harm another person you should pay retribution to your victim and that is surely different than paying some arbitray tax to achieve some arbitray benefits to the public good. Brian you need to study economics above 101 if you intend to make any real contribution to society.
John if you believe as a caring person that you can defeat people that are sociopaths, you will find that their is another sociopath waiting in his shadows, that will cut your throat to gain his position. Only by not giving them your money can you achieve a civil society as Ghandi once stated.
Starchild, class action settlements most assuredly set up permanent policies. I stipulated that my “taxes” are equivalent to class action fines in terms of who they reach and how much they charge. I further stipulate that my “taxes” would be court-contestable (with loser paying court costs), just as class action settlements are. The only distinction I leave you is in the process by which the fine/tax is imposed, and not in its effects. If it’s not aggression when a jury does it, then it’s not aggression when a legislature does it.
I don’t think default contestable fines (i.e. “taxes”) on prima facie aggression are themselves aggression. If you’re going to rule out all use of force in any situation in which the target might eventually be able to prove his innocence, then you’re ruling out way more than just taxes. You’re also ruling out most judicial processes, and indeed almost anything that isn’t immediate bodily self-defense.
Breathing is not aggression. The exact language in my Free Earth Manifesto is: “Production of property via extraction of natural resources from a community commons should require a fee to the community proportional to the decrease in ability of that commons to sustainably support such extraction.”
My point about Leviathan was to distinguish Skip’s taxation formula from my own. Skip’s formula is used by every government; mine is used by none. George’s attempted point was that geominarchism is on a slippery slope to Leviathan. His point was so ahistorical that it may not have even registered on you.
“Starvation diet” was a metaphorical name for a diet that makes you lose more than 80% of your weight. Such a diet nearly always kills a human, but an 80% cut doesn’t have to kill a government.
I don’t agree that anarchists are the most libertarian of us, for reasons I enumerate at http://libertarianintelligence.com/2008/11/none-of-many-zaps-define-libertarianism.html.
Skip, if you think I don’t know enough economics, then check out my blog postings on that subject: http://knowinghumans.net/search/label/Economics. Or visit LPplatform-discuss and do searches like
free rider problem
public choice theory
I said, “If involuntarily collected moneys are being taken as penalties for aggression, then their collection is not itself aggression, and they should be called fines rather than taxes to avoid confusion.”
Of course I am supposing here a fair and equitable process of levying such fines, and that the moneys collected are going to victims, not to government. In many cases, governments ostensibly impose penalties for congestion, pollution, monopolization, etc., of the commons, such as parking tickets, which are in reality just a way for them to take more money out of our pockets. The penalties are not proportionate to the offenses, and the takings are not tailored to benefit the victims of the alleged aggression.
Brian, them how can you argue statist positions? Force is statism, not self defense. How are you going to pay for the legislature? If they work for free them it could be more like a court, where the loser could pay. But would you trust any legislature unless it was a very high level of plurality like say 75% and above. I cannot trust a simple majority because I have seen too many injustices come from that system. A majority of the legislative bodies are made up of attorneys whom appear to be sociopaths, caring about winning rather than truth, justice and the rule of law. It takes money to have legislative bodies and that must come from coerced taxation and then they historically use their power and money to usurp individual rights. If they were protecting our rights it would be great, but that is obviously not the results. You don’t really need a legislative body to protect individual rights; you need a good court system, and not one that is full of graft, extortion, cronyism and protectionism under a monopolistic statist authority. Government judicial systems have proven to be poor final arbiters leaving the only alternative of the competitive markets to choose the best arbiters. People if knowledgeable will choose arbitration/mediation or something like the law merchant over a poorly administered government justice system. They still use, for instance “In propria persona” instead of “In proper person” to achieve their cartelist BAR status. Half the briefs are full of the dead language of Latin when there are plenty of modern English terms and phrases that say the same thing. If people voted their conscience instead of their pocketbook, a majority rule might be effective, assuming and that is a big assumption, that they are knowledgeable in the various sciences necessary to make a rational and reasonable decisions that would be in the best interest of the majority. It is too easy to vote for the monies of the treasury to be spent in the capacity that benefits the representative voters instead of the majority. How may school teachers would vote for a decrease in education spending or how many military contractors do you think vote for candidates would want to reduce military spending? People sadly do not vote for what is in the best interest of the majority and instead look at government as a means to a personal benefit. How many companies are lining up for the $800 +/- Billion stimulus package and of cause the various state and Federal bureaucracies will get their cut leaving Main Street to ride the unemployment train to nowhere. It is truly a sad day for the heart and soul of the American private sector worker bludgeons by over taxation, regulation and a ruling elite redistributing the wealth to themselves.
Brian, I went to you website. This is your quote.
“The primary market failure I see in K-12 education is that poor minors
needing tuition money are not allowed to enter into long-term contracts
that surrender a fraction of the alleged increase in earnings that a
tuition investment would buy them. If education investments are as wise
as we liberals claim, then such contracts should be able to make
education for the poor self-financing. In the absence of such contracts,
I don’t mind the geolibertarian citizen’s dividend financing tuition
vouchers (or land value tax credits for tuition donations to) for poor
families. There is no more need for the government to own and operate
schools than to own and operate grocery stores.”
Brian you are very difficult to follow. Would the parents, or the child enter into the contract? Why should money or tax credits for education be given to pay for the children of a parent(s) who have more children than then can afford. Why not pay for all their expenses and let all parents just procreate as many children as possible while they are young enough to do so, and let society take care of the expenses. That is quit fair for the individuals who cannot have children or do not have children because they feel that they cannot afford to have them. People whom are good at having children like me, should not pay any taxes, that is the responsibility of the village as Hillary once noted. Isn’t it interesting how liberals always forget to mention the negative ramification and unentended conscequences of their altruistic social engineering.
Skip, I’ll turn your question around: if you know all the economics I cite at e.g. http://knowinghumans.net/2008/11/samuelsons-theory-of-public-goods.html, then how can you argue for anarchist positions? :-) Seriously, I suspect that I know the arguments for libertarian anarchism better than you know the arguments for libertarian minarchism.
Answering your questions on education: 1) Both/either. 2) Apart from a geolibertarian citizen’s dividend, I don’t think it should.
It appears that determining when freedom ends and when force starts is the difference between anarcho-capitaltists, mini-archaists’ and mix economy advocates. One cannot contest that “Force” surely appears to promote more force. Once one tax is levied the same excuse is used to levy another tax and so on. Once some sort of governing body, however elected starts redistributing wealth in the best interest of the majorities common good, by means other than voluntary agreement, the governing body than has the means to benefit themselves to the contrary of the common good. Surely they instinctually have this desire to benefit from their toils, and now we give them the method that they have always, always abused.
To me the most important question that we must ask ourselves in this debate is, it appears we must give up some rights to property or happiness if we are to establish any sort of ruling body to pay for its operations. What than are the “very specific” distinctions between when I should give up/acquiesce my property and happiness for the common good and when I should not. And knowing that there is a great probability that once I would have acquiesced one right to property and happiness, that very group is going to at least attempt to coerce or steal more properties and happiness, does not make the heart feel good about given to a system of that nature. There is so much taking now that it becomes practical to pay them off rather than spends one’s life fighting the multitude of abuses. In my life time the losses far outweigh the wins by the libertarians as force appears to always win out over voluntarism. Mini-archaists’ believe that we can keep that governing group in check by some means. Obviously none of us are doing well against fighting the tyranny and corruption that the force of socialism procreates and I have been saying for some time that we must pick the most offensive of the communist’s enactments and join all our advocates together and legally and passively fight them on that front. To me that enactment is the income tax. It is the most egregious of all takings and it appears to be the one that frightens them a great deal based on how they are willing to risk their sovereign immunities by corrupt and treasonists practices to thwart the anti-income tax movement. There are many ways to skin a cat and to me wasting the time and money through a political party is both ineffective and counter philosophic to our goals.
If (as Skip seems to claim) even taxes on aggression (e.g. pollution) lead to fascism, then singling out one tax to fight makes very little sense. Saying you want to fight one kind of tax, but announcing unilateral political disarmament while doing so, makes even less sense.
You need not give up any rights to “property or happiness” to advocate a geominarchist state — unless, of course, you think that the commons is your property, or that your happiness consists in polluting it. Geominarchism solves two problems that no other school of libertarianism even claims to solve: http://knowinghumans.net/2008/04/geolibertarianism-squares-two-circles.html
Brian, this is your quote.
“If (as Skip seems to claim) even taxes on aggression (e.g. pollution) lead to fascism, then singling out one tax to fight makes very little sense. Saying you want to fight one kind of tax, but announcing unilateral political disarmament while doing so, makes even less sense.”
One, you’re obviously assuming that the only way to fight pollution is through some sort of government action. That is incorrect and the Law Merchant is an example. A private judicial system would have a much greater chance at curtailing pollution than what we have in our existing fascist system where polluting industries are protected in many instances by the politically appointed courts and law. You then assume wrongly that you “can’t” dismantle one tax at a time until they are all eliminated but that politically you will be able to solve such problems, if likeminded people of your ethical and intellectual level, only were able to obtain political power”. That Brian is a fantasy my friend. You will never beat them at their own game and I wish you could convince G. Edward Griffin of that as well. He is a great guy but he like you believe that you can beat them at a game, a game that necessitates political power to win in the first place and that is a contradiction to liberty.
Added Note: We, those who believe in liberty and free markets over force, understand that we may choose to sometimes allow pollution, as we allow people to drive cars that are currently polluting because it is a necessary reality that we must deal with until alternative(s) are found. If we had to all park and stop driving our combustion engine vehicles, the U.S. economy would literally shut down over night.
If libertarians want to achieve something, other than political power that has surely been shown to be a very ineffective method, then would it not be best to focus our attentions on the worse of the aggressions being perpetrated on American Citizens. We are so fragmented with at least 50 different groups, fighting against 50 different socialistic policies, that it takes always from the power of our people to achieve anything.
Don’t get me wrong, in that running a libertarian candidate for President does allows our advocates to be “educators” and that is a very good thing but you surely don’t need as the Ron Paul Revolution showed, the Libertarian Party” to do that. Ron Paul achieved many times more popularity and votes when running as a Republican than running as a Libertarian. If we can find another spokesman like Ron, I’d like to see him run as a Democrat next time. I’d rather see the libertarians join in some form of a libertarian association with the non-aggression axiom as a basis for membership and then start tackling single issues one at a time.
Until such time as the majority of people become aware of the fallacies of socialism and are organized and focused, we will continue to be ineffective. Even with knowledge we must have a focus and that focus must not be just curtailing of socialism, but on specifics and one at a time if necessary and I vote for one at a time being necessary.
Skip, I most certainly do not “assume that the only way to fight pollution is through some sort of government action”. My actual position differs from your straw man, and is set forth at http://libertarianmajority.net/can-torts-police-all-negative-externalities.
I never said we can’t dismantle one tax at a time. Instead, I just pointed out that this (untenable) assertion is a corollary of your apparent belief that restricting taxation to just aggression (e.g. pollution) would inevitably lead back to Leviathan/fascism. If instead you now say that it’s possible within the political framework to make significant and enduring inroads against taxation, then I welcome your agreement with me.
I never said that the optimal level of pollution is zero. That is yet another straw man.
Ron Paul’s “Revolution” was effectively one man running in one race in one year. The existence of the LP did not hinder Paul’s candidacy, and in many ways made that candidacy possible. Meanwhile, the idea of freedom is offered to millions of voters by hundreds of Libertarian candidates in every election year — even the years when no Ron Paul is running. As long as the State allows us to organize a freedom party that advocates against its own injustices, the freedom movement would be foolish not to take that opportunity. I wish all the best for Ron Paul and his Campaign For Liberty, but I’m not willing to bet that candidates running under the C4L (or any other non-LP freedom-oriented) banner will get more votes and media exposure than the LP in 2012 and 2016. Are you? Most kinds of political activism aren’t fungible zero-sum kinds of effort, and the ones that are point to the wisdom of having precisely one freedom party: http://libertarianintelligence.com/2008/09/why-multiple-freedom-parties-is-dumb.html
I disagree that class action settlements set up permanent policies. They are handled on a case by case basis. Just because everybody in a fixed group of people who bought a “Lemon” model car between 2005 and 2009 gets awarded X amount of dollars in a class action suit, for instance, does not establish any sort of guarantee whatsoever for anyone buying a Lemon in the future, or for anyone who bought a different model between 2005 and 2009 that had the exact same problems as the Lemon.
If you’re talking about class action fines, then let’s call them that, rather than muddying the waters by calling them taxes. Otherwise it just looks like your agenda is to undermine the libertarian opposition to coercive taxation.
You write that “Breathing is not aggression,” and then follow that statement with, The exact language in my Free Earth Manifesto is: ‘Production of property via extraction of natural resources from a community commons should require a fee to the community proportional to the decrease in ability of that commons to sustainably support such extraction.’”
But the statement from your Manifesto does not explain why breathing is not aggression. If you are saying the impact of a person breathing is so minimal as to have no measurable impact on the ability of the commons to sustainably support such extraction (of oxygen), that is *not* the same as saying that no aggression has occurred. Other examples of aggression illustrate this — for instance if I trespass on your property in a manner which does not interfere with your ability to use the property, trespass has still occurred.
Of course I’m not arguing here that breathing *should* be treated as aggression. What I’m getting at is that you have not provided a solid standard on which public policy can be predictably based. Where do you draw the line on when use of the commons has enough of an effect to warrant a fee, and why?
You defend your taxation formula on the grounds that in contrast with Skip’s formula which “is used by every government,” the formula you propose “is used by none.” But in a previous post on this board you criticized anarchists for lacking evidence that anarchism could work in the modern world:
“…anarcholibertarians can merely wave toward a couple of medieval island nations with populations and population densities four orders of magnitude less than those of modern industrialized states. As great as America is, we have detailed, redundant, and current empirical evidence backing up the mainstream findings of modern economic science about how market-oriented reforms within the statist framework can make America even more free and even more prosperous. Anarcholibertarians have nothing of the kind to support their moralizing a priori claim that America would be a better place if we completely dismantled our system of rights protection in favor of a promise by liberty-lovers to set a good example of aggression abstinence.”
Now you’re telling us that the *virtue* of your taxation proposal is that it is nowhere currently in use?
In denying that anarchism is the purest form of libertarianism, you provide a link to a web page where you’ve written about the Non-Aggression Principle (which you call ZAP and claim is only one of many). But on that page, I find you’ve written the following:
“The dictionary tells us that, to competent speakers of English, ‘libertarian’ means ‘one who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state’. I accept that definition of libertarianism…”
Well, the minimal role of the state is zero. So whether or not you believe it is practical or desirable to attempt to implement anarchy, it seems to me that based on what you’ve written above, we are in agreement that anarchists are more libertarian than other Libertarians. This is not saying that anarchism is the *best* political philosophy, only that it is the most *libertarian* political philosophy.
As the hypothetical of the person falling off the 10th floor balcony and saving himself from death by grabbing a flagpole protruding from the 9th floor and trespassing by climbing onto that balcony illustrates, the *most libertarian* solution — in this case avoiding trespass by falling to one’s death — is not always the *best* solution, although I would contend that it *usually* is, especially in public policy.