Keith Olbermann, a talking head at MSNBC, had some rather harsh words for the current Bush Co. administration. Keith's words were especially directed at one man: Donald Rumsfeld, and the Nazi analogy he recently made during a speech in Salt Lake City.
Considering my ultra-low expectations of the quality of mainstream media, I was fairly impressed with Keith's words. Not bad for a statist.
Via Crooks and Liars.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Keith Olbermann, a talking head at MSNBC, had some rather harsh words for the current Bush Co. administration. Keith's words were especially directed at one man: Donald Rumsfeld, and the Nazi analogy he recently made during a speech in Salt Lake City.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I have been extensively discussing political concepts from the market anarchist worldview. This is an exercise in giving meaning to these terms by looking at the facts of reality. However, we also have to look at the flip side of this equation, which is that the political concepts used by statists are completely meaningless.
Start with the concept of "government". From the statist perspective, "government" is a transcendent entity which impartially imposes a standard of law. This is, of course, pure fantasy. A "government" is just a group of individuals whose use of force is self-legitimized, and is really no different from any other group of individuals. These individuals can no more be impartial and impose a standard of law than anyone else can - which is to say, not at all. So the idea of a transcendent political unit is meaningless.
This individualist deconstruction applies to a lot of statist concepts, such as country, community, culture, common good, public interest, public goods, the people, social contract, the law, democracy (as a mode of social organization), the majority, the party, corporation, parenting, and the list goes on and on.
Some of these terms depend on "government" for their meaning, and given that "government" is meaningless, they also are. The term "country", for example, depends on the territory upon which a "government" uses its monopoly. Since there is no such thing as a government, only a group of thugs, then we should not give any credance to the notion of a country either. In an anarchic world, borders would be determined by economic agreement, not by arbitrary diktat, and would be subject to consumer demand.
This last point does justify the terms "community" and "culture" in an anarchy, to a certain extent, since people would form voluntary groups based on common values. But in a statist world, these terms are meaningless collectivist abstractions. They are merely attempts to burden individuals with common beliefs. As Stefan Molyneux says, "culture is the scar tissue of government exploitation".
"Common good" is the most egregious example of a meaningless statist term. There is no such thing as a good apart from the individual who benefits from it. There can be no such thing as a common good because everyone has different values and different ideas on how to fulfill them. The only thing "common" to them all is how the oppression of the state prevents them from expressing their values fully.
Another category of terms is the loaded terminology of government functions such as "law and order", "social security", "homeland security", "public schools" and "national defense". In all cases we can reduce the little they actually mean to "exploitation".
A finaly category is duckspeak (a rote, automatic form of speaking without thinking) words such as "freedom", "equality", "altruism", "cooperation", "social justice" and "security". I have debunked many such statist conceptions in my series on the Liberalism Resurgent FAQ (see for example "Debunking statist concepts - Equality"). The common thread between them is that they are based on a conceptual interaction between the terms I have already examined. "Social justice", for example, presumes the existence of a "government" able to impose a form of "law" which favours the "exploited". In market anarchist terms, the only way to make sense of this process is to believe that a group of thieves can somehow forget about its own interests and use some of the money they've stolen to help others. And this is, of course, total nonsense.
In all cases, we must remember that believers obviously do not hold these terms as meaningless. But the illusion of meaning does not make reality. Rather, we should properly say that they are inter-subjective constructs, which means that they are built out of group agreement. This group agreement is cultivated by the ruling classe through its propaganda machine. The only debate within that group agreement is not whether these concepts are valid, but rather how these concepts can best be implemented. In conceptual terms, there is very little difference between a conservative and a liberal, between a fascist and a communist, only differences of degree.
The role of this mass of meaningless terms is to exclude from the individual's cognition the possibility of understanding the reality of the situation. A linguistic prison may not have iron bars, but it is much better, and much more economical, at holding people prisoners. Your concepts are your worldview, nothing less. This is a phenomenon well known to religious leaders and cult leaders as well. By suitably changing language, you can make people believe that there is no salvation outside of religion, that no one can help them but God, that their cult is the only source of good in the world.
Another use of loaded or meaningless language is isolation. In the case of a cult existing in the context of a larger society, the new language isolates him from the larger society. In the case of the state, the opposite is true : language isolates the independent thinker from the larger society. A market anarchist is automatically isolated, if he is to be consistent at all and assume the conceptual consequences of his position, because he uses words in a different manner than everyone else.
Because of this isolation, some have suggested that we should refrain from reclaiming terms, that we should rather work within the linguistics of statism. I think this is a fatal mistake. Our concepts are our worldview, and if we surrender our concepts to the enemy, we have alraedy lost the war. Whatever gains we make from there are completely illusory. If we are to explain market anarchy at all, then we have to do it from a consistent perspective. We must present a market anarchist model of society which rejects coercion and exploitation in all its forms, and praises voluntary action in all its forms, regardless of their statist conceptual categories.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I want to do a little promoting for my good friends and fellow anarchists, Adi11235 and Freedomoutsidethebox. They have a cleverly titled blog, There Is No Government Like NO Government.
It's a great blog. Adi11235 is a man I respect very much, and he is known for brutally effective resolves on Essembly. His logic is impeccable, his conduct is professional and respectful, and his intellect is admirable.
And Freedomoutsidethebox (who recently joined the blog) has great writing skills, and knows how to present an argument. If you are interested in politics and/or society, or if you’re just curious about what Market Anarchy is all about, I highly recommend that you regularly visit There Is No Government Like NO Government.
Monday, August 28, 2006
The "A" in the praised TV series probably stands for anarcho-capitalist.
First of all, the A-team is an illegal, anti-government, underground organization of people who escaped from prison. They are outlaws, surely pay no taxes, and, in most episodes, the US army is chasing them. Are these guys a band of thugs? Not at all. They are portrayed as positive heroes and the government apparatus is portrayed as the institution that unjustly tries to imprison them.
The whole philosophy of the A-team boils down to an axiom of non-aggression. They never initiate a conquest on someone else's property, no matter what profits that would create. They also never defend true aggressors. Instead the people against whom aggression was initiated always employ them. This feature is completely essential for them to take any challenge. In the episodes they engage in entrepreneurial analysis to find out what is happening, who is responsible for what, and how the aggression was started.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
If everyone agrees beforehand, then there is no need for any decision-making process. Therefore we must start from the premise of differences of opinion.
The concept of dialogue simply means to sit down like adults and hash out our differences, most importantly by referring to guiding principles and values. This is to be compared with democratic activism, where positions are mostly discussed internally, with no reference to a greater epistemic context. Every political ideology is self-contained and offers few points of reference to the outside observer.
In an IC system, it would be very useful to establish clearly-defined values and principles (such as principles of law, for a court - ways by which a person can be exonerated, clearly-defined crimes and ways to establish evidence, etc). They direct the dialogue, and make it more about discussing the relevant facts than about people's personal beliefs.
People involved in a dialogue don't have to agree at the end of the day, or even to participate. People who don't think they have the time or expertise needed to deal with the issue can simply sign off on the consensus (although of course this would bring the question of why they are in the group to begin with). Dialogue should not bog down productive individuals and mire them into endless conferences - it has to serve productive ends.
It seems that the main criticism against consensus (and pretty much the only objection that is not rooted in anti-individualism) is : how do you deal with strong dissent, which threatens to put off a consensus forever ?
The fundamental answer here is - strong dissent is great, not something to be rejected. We have to respect differences, and that is a strong advantage of IC over democracy. However, there is a point at which we have to decide to agree to disagree and walk our own paths, or arbitrate our differences, just like in the market anarchy morality. We must not fall into the trap of believing that everyone must agree with each other. Individualism must remain a guiding value and principle.
I think the answer depends on the area in which the IC system operates. If you are building a consensus on social policy, then you simply do not include the person in your committee, or you do not include the contested proposition in your resulting consensus. Your consensus is weaker for not having this person or proposition in it, of course, which creates a disincentive against such exclusions.
If we are talking about a scenario where a decision must be arrived at in a short period of time, or a wikipedia type scenario (such as an edit war), principles must be put in place beforehand determining what happens in these cases - such as the action of an arbitrator based on certain principles (such as the "NPOV policy" - that more neutral edits are to be preferred), or even a democratic vote.
A further objection is raised that consensus, in the presence of dissent, will simply cultivate peer pressure. But let's assume the worst and imagine a scenario where the individuals in the majority succeed in intimidating the minority into compliance. What we have, then, is the functional equivalent of a democratic process. This means that at worst IC is as good as a democratic equivalent, which demonstrates the superiority of IC. Of course, mechanisms could be put into place to break up such situations also.
We should be careful not to fall into the opposite trap of saying that dialogue can solve anything. Dialogue is not a miracle solution. Like any other system, its effectiveness is limited by the people's desire to make it work. But when people desire to make it work, it is more effective than any other system.
Being based on communication instead of propaganda, IC systems can fall into a cycle of overanalysis. This is fine, but dialogue should not be a process by which unfocused talk bogs down an organization. On Wikipedia, for example, there can be pages and pages of debate about a minute point of detail (such as whether to use a certain image, or a certain expression) in some extreme cases, but most of the time even these very pointed discussions still come back to a principle or regulation already established as part of the system, not about personal preference or belief. This is what dialogue should be all about.
Friday, August 25, 2006
If you want to break down walls that we subconsciously erect to alienate ourselves from each-other; if you want to finally have your eyes opened to the brainwashing that your parents did to you; if you want to stop being an American or Canadian or Iranian (or whatever) and start being a fucking human instead, then check out this post.
It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
A word about "multiculturalism": The blog post I linked to above claims that the only thing your parents taught you that was correct is "multiculturalism." I think that in this context it is not meant to mean placing an undue reverence on any and all cultures, but instead to discard cultural backgrounds as a means of pre-judging individuals. In this context, I think "multiculturalism" means "cultural indifference." All of us are born into a given culture; we can't help it. But what we can do is look past the cultural surface of someone to see the actual unique individual inside.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
In part 1, I mentioned open-source software development as an example of Informed Consensus (IC). This development model works through systems like "cvs". This cvs is a code repository which can be accessed by any given developer. The developer removes a piece of code that interests him, works on it, and returns it to the repository. There are version numbers assigned to it, and other developers can choose to develop it further or return it to its previous state (this can also be arbitrated by a chosen manager if that's the route decided on).
We see here the use of the concepts of central documents and scalability. Democracy is eminently scalable, because it's just a bunch of votes. You just need to compile as many votes as you need. It may be less obvious to deduce how IC can be scaled to, say, hundreds of thousands of users, or even millions of users. Actually, we already have such systems - Wikipedia is a great example. What Wikipedia and software design have in common is the use of central documents.
IC relies on dialogue, 1-to-1 communication. But you can't have 1-to-1-to-1-to-1... communication between thirty people, let alone millions. You need a way to effect dialogue (to stir the pot of ideas, so to speak) that does not rely on direct communication. So after a certain scale, central documents are the key to IC scalability.
Wikipedia is a great example of this because it is a sucessful example of a gigantic IC system which mostly relies on people's values. People cherish a specific area of knowledge and so desire to share their expertise. Other people come and try to improve on each little area. Of course, disputes arise and sometimes people do come to disrupt, and like any other successful IC system, Wikipedia has an extensive set of policies and rules to resolve disputes. Most of the time, discussion takes place within these parameters, instead of de-evolving into matters of belief or preference. This is the mark of a healthy dialogue.
The power of wikis and other dynamic database driven websites and centralized database driven documentation have seen a rise in business use and will continue to grow. Architects work digitally on centrally stored documents, and many construction contracts are now being reviewed and edited digitially with easy tracking of the changes to the original. The long standing IC based business activities are only becoming easier to manage and highly scalable. The growth of these practices and of the development of networks and software to facilitate them is evidence of their power.
Science obviously works in a similar way, with repeatability of experiments and peer review of papers. It is focused on the facts, rather than a system based on coercion. When scientific papers are published, a group of peers read and agree on the plausibility of the findings. After wider distribution, scientists researching the same or similar topics will attempt to replicate the experiments in their labs in order to prove the legitamacy of the findings. Once there is sufficient evidence that the findings are legitimate, they will begin to be developed further or used to advance related research. It is the informed portion of the scientific community reaching a consensus on research that in turn help advance the goals of that community. There are centuries of evidence to back up the power and effectiveness of this technique, and it also includes the notion of central documents that are edited or expanded upon.
Friday, August 18, 2006
This is the first of a series of entries about Informed Consensus (IC) - a form of market anarchist decision-making.
Why do we need a specific form of decision-making ? Because the two methods most used today by statist systems - democracy and autocracy - do not follow market anarchist values. We need to organize ourselves in ways that follow market anarchist values, if we are to be consistent.
Market anarchists already do agree on a method of individual decision-making, and that is individual consumer demand. People buy the service that they see as the best to fulfill their own values, and profit is the resulting accountability. People who are less productive in terms of helping the fellow man fulfilling his values reap less profit. Standards are determined by what individuals actually want, not by received popular beliefs, or the beliefs of the strongest and most powerful.
To us, demand-based processes are an already-accepted replacement for autocracy, and I don't dispute that it is a far superior alternative. But we also need a replacement for democracy, that is to say, in terms of how to make group decisions. This is what IC is - it's a superior replacement to democracy. It's equally scalable, more inclusive, more conductive to dialogue, and most importantly it is in line with market anarchist values.
To make this clear : IC is not a replacement to demand-based processes. They are harmonious, like democracy and autocracy are harmonious (at least, the way statists see it). IC is enhanced by the incentives provided by consumer demand, and the process of consumer demand is enhanced by the incentives provided by IC.
So what is IC ? Here is my stab at a definition.
Informed Consensus (IC) is a class of decision-making processes which rely on :
1. Selection of participating agents for a committee, based on their relevance and possible contribution to a problem.
2. Approval or collaboration from all participating agents, usually through a process of dialogue, and in large-scale committees through the concept of draft documents.
IC processes may contain mechanisms to arbitrate intractable disputes, and others (democratic or autocratic processes may be included without necessarily compromising the IC nature of the parent process).
To illustrate this perhaps abstract topic, let me give some examples from real life.
Just like market anarchy, we use IC in most of our daily lives. For example, when deciding what restaurant to go eat at, few groups or families are going to take votes. They are going to discuss tastes, dislikes, a variety of issues, and then typically one person will express a general consensus or choose from the options that people favour. The consensus is the proposition that a certain restaurant is the most desirable choice.
Apart from our personal lives, there are several domains where the IC model is already in effect, the most important being open source development and engineering design teams. Many scientific and technological developments involve a marketplace of ideas where one solution is reached by the team - even if your idea is not chosen, the result benefits from the open exchange. It is the informed input of the informed team that is the powerful aspect.
The more interesting example is with software development. Large pieces of software (the consensus) are being writen by volunteers from every part of the world. The resulting product is almost always better than anything coming out of proprietary development.
In part 2, I discuss real-life examples, as well as scalability and central documents.
Monday, August 14, 2006
It seems that, for most people, the main problem in abandoning belief in governemnt is the belief that government is good for the poor.
This, of course, is an absolutely ridiculous belief. The poor have no political voice, and everything that government does goes against their interests. To illustrate this, I am going to go through all the measures that are supposed to help the poor.
* The minimum wage.
Assumed effect : Helping the poor get better wages.
Real effect : Big corporations can afford to pay the higher wages, small corporations are crushed. Raises the wages of a few, lays off many, and keeps the less educated and teenagers from getting jobs.
* Coercive unions and guilds.
Assumed effect : Helping the workers get better conditions, helping people get better service from professionals.
Real effect : Blocking access to entry for new professionals, Entrapping workers into a coercive democratic system, work insecurity and hardship, giving government control over the entire profession through one centralized structure, giving workers rights on the back of the general population (such as in construction or health care).
* The welfare state.
Assumed effect : Helping make society fairer.
Real effect : Trapping people in a system that denies them savings, making them slaves of the ruling class.
Assumed effect : Keeping jobs at home.
Real effect : Making consumer products more expensive for everyone (which hurts the poor more than others), keeping inefficient and more demanding jobs while making slowing down the growth of the service sector, slowing down third-world imports.
* Anti-GM foods.
Assumed effect : ? (apart from pure insanity, I see no possible reason to be anti-GM foods)
Real effect : Preventing the implementation of agricultural products that could solve world hunger.
* The Greenie religion in general.
Assumed effect : Like, save the world, dude.
Real effect : The DDT ban genocide alone is the most devastating government genocide in history in the third-world. Nothing else is really necessary, but one can also mention that anti-pollution measures slow down the growth of third-world economies, and Greenie measures in general make the environment worse in the third-world (see for instance the textbook example of the preservation of elephants in countries that permit ownership of them, as opposed to their loss when they are not protected by property rights).
* Anti-immigration laws.
Assumed effect : Not have your job "stolen" by an immigrant, I guess.
Real effect : Making it harder for the economically oppressed third-world populations to make a better life for themselves. They are one of the last acceptable forms of slavery.
* Foreign aid and erasing third-world debts.
Assumed effect : We're helping them !
Real effect : Some foreign aid does help people directly, but most of it only serves to finance dictatorships that oppress people in the third-world, or helping to line their coffers in the end.
* Public schools and public health care.
Assumed effect : We're giving essential services to people who can't afford it. It's better than a two-speed system !
Real effect : We're giving mediocre services to everyone, and giving special privileges to those who can afford it - in short, the most insidious two-speed system there is.
* Social Security.
Assumed effect : Helping poor people's retirement.
Real effect : Legitimizing a corrupt Ponzi scheme which is in effect, a tax on a tax. Gives less than saving and investing one's own money.
Other forms of intervention that hurt the poor: the War on Drugs (makes lower-income streets unsafe), and government guilds and trusts (makes the price of services higher, lowers choice).
The most basic problem here is that government has no reason at all to help the poor, rather the contrary. If it can entrap and exploit them through the welfare system, and control over education and health, then all the better. Government forces people to believe in its legitimacy by exploiting those means of thought control. Why would it relinquish them ?
In a market anarchy, the poor still don't have much of a voice, but at least people have an incentive to help the poor. No one wants to live in a stagnant society, and everyone reaps the benefit of living in a vibrant and progressive society. Therefore market solutions will arise to solve such social problems, just as they did before the welfare state. Government has no interest in helping the poor, and when conditions in a given society become intolerable, it simply relies on the private sector to resolve the situation.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Value systems are like brains, in that everyone necessarily has one (even if they don't work very well). Anyone who makes choices necessarily has values, since a value is simply something that we seek to gain or keep. Even being inactive is a choice, and thus everyone has values in some form, even an ascetic (who values survival and suffering for a greater religious good).
Another inescapable fact is that different individuals have different value systems. Explaining the reason behind these differences is really to explain moral development in the whole, and I have already done so on my blog Goosing the Antithesis in numerous entries (such as this one). Suffice it to say that everyone is born with certain talents and flaws, indoctrinated in this or that way, received a certain amount of education, brain maturation and starting choices, and that all these things together form what can be called one's moral capital.
Not only do we have different value systems, but we also have different ways of fulfilling them. We all value nutrition, but we all eat different foods, mostly because of the region where we were raised. Most of us value friendship, but we have very different requirements for the people we consider friends.
All of these are inevitable facts, which must therefore dictate how we approach social issues and social organization. If there was only one value system to which we all adhere by virtue of being human, then enforcing a singular value system through the state might make some sense on a moral standpoint. But there isn't, and it doesn't. The natural multiplicity of value systems shows the state monopoly over law to be ridiculously arbitrary.
As any good market anarchist knows, the moral fact of individualism is based on the premise of ontological individualism. Ontologically, all that we observe in human systems is nothing more or less than individuals and their extension in material objects. Society is the process by which these individuals and their extension interact peacefully, and evolve within this process. A market is a specific part of these interactions, pertaining to a specific aim and method. There is no such thing as a "culture", "country", "common good" or anything else which does not refer to individuals and their extension.
Society does not exist without peaceful interactions. The state is an attack on society because it attempts to enforce a singular value system (codified into "the law") on an entire population of individuals which hold different value systems. The result is coercion, twisted incentives, social warfare and disorder - the opposite of a healthy society. A healthy society is one where people see each other not as potential victims, but rather as potential friends - where hands are not balled in fists but rather extended in handshakes, and where people who do not wish to deal with each other are not forced to do so by the danger of a central enforcment of values.
Individualism, therefore, is necessary for society, and collectivism is its enemy. The collectivism of statism demands that we treat each other like children, who need to be ordered around for a subjective and ever-changing "higher good". The individualism of market anarchy asks us to deal with each other as adults, sitting around a negociating table to hash out our differences and find ways to cooperate peacefully.
There is a received belief that individualism leads to chaos. This is total nonsense. Only the futile and immoral attempt to enforce arbitrary conformity leads to chaos - social warfare and physical warfare. Individualism cannot lead to chaos, simply because people are not interested in living in chaos. Most people value stability and peace of mind. Only the ruling class and its cronies benefit from chaos. Thus the ruling class must constantly hammer away at modern consumeurist individualism and its corollaries, to defame them in the same way that it has defamed its enemies in the past. But these old lies in new clothes aren't as attractive as they used to be !
A study published recently, called "Cultures of Corruption: Evidence From Diplomatic Parking Tickets", found that there may be such a thing as a "culture of corruption" that goes beyond the influence of one's country:
We find strong persistence in corruption norms: diplomats from high corruption countries (based on existing survey-based indices) have significantly more parking violations, and these differences persist over time. In a second main result, officials from countries that survey evidence indicates have less favorable popular views of the United States commit significantly more parking violations, providing non-laboratory evidence on sentiment in economic decision-making. Taken together, factors other than legal enforcement appear to be important determinants of corruption.
Yet another stunning defeat for the anti-drug demagogues: "'Magic Mushroom' Drug Study Probes Science, Spirituality".
What's more, most of the 36 adult participants -- none of whom had taken psilocybin before -- counted their experience while under the influence of the drug as "among the most meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives," Griffiths said. Most said they became better, kinder, happier people in the weeks after the psilocybin session -- a fact corroborated by family and friends.
The researchers also noted no permanent brain damage or negative long-term effects stemming from use of psilocybin.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Reason Magazine has a list of the 35 greatest heroes of freedom. Here it is, abbreviated: John Ashcroft, Jeff Bezos, Norman Borlaug, Stewart Brand, William Burroughs, Curt Flood, Larry Flynt, Milton Friedman, Barry Goldwater, F.A. Hayek, Brian Lamb, Vaclav Havel, Robert Heinlein, Jane Jacobs, Alfred Kahn, Rose Wilder Lane, Madonna, Nelson Mandela, Martina Navratilova, Willie Nelson, Richard Nixon, Les Paul, Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, Dennis Rodman, Louis Rossetto, Julian Simon, Thomas Szasz, Margaret Thatcher, Clarence Thomas, the Tiananmen Square martyr, Ted Turner, Evan Williams, the Yuppie, Phil Zimmerman.
Talking about Norman Borlaug, I recently found this great biography of the man. He is a true hero of freedom.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Anarchists argue that the free market will prevent owners from abusing their power. Mistreat your underlings, they claim, and your underlings will simply move elsewhere.
And so we continue with the rhetoric. But the most important part is the introduction of the notion of "power" and the abuse of that "power". How can individuals in an anarchy "abuse their power" when they don't have any ? At least, no political power. They certainly have economic power, but that power can't be "abused" - it is simply the fact of having more resources than someone else. The word "mistreat" implies coercion, and the legitimization of this coercion could only be the result of a state. Will there still be criminals ? Sure. But that is true of any system.
Also, ironically, the "your underlings can just move" argument was used BY KANGAS HIMSELF to defend the state.
Unfortunately, market failures, monopolies, flukes in supply and demand and other external factors may lead to a far different result.
Here we get two of the boogey men of socialists, "market failure" and "monopolies". I could equally say that leprechauns will implant hatred in people's heart and force them to fight each other. So what ?
We may decide to join a firm even though we disagree with every rule in it, because we don’t want to starve to death by being jobless. In this case, the boss’s absolute power allows him to exploit the situation, by forcing us to work for sub-poverty wages.
First of all, that kind of scenario can exist in any system - and in communism, you don't even get to decide ! So his little criticism of market anarchy here doesn't work at all. The only means by which a "boss" - corporate boss or union boss - can exploit people is through the agency of the state. In a market anarchy, agencies and unions (legitimate, voluntary unions, that is) would prevent such states of affairs from happening.
And once again we come back to the fallacy of power. How did this individual acquire "absolute power" without a state to back him up, and what the hell is "sub-poverty" ? This is just a mish-mash of statist bullshit coupled with weird terms he made up.
This type of exploitation would be impossible in a democratic workplace, where an elected supervisor who exploited workers would be voted out of power. Thus, anarchy risks the abuses of dictatorship in a way that democracy inherently cannot.
And thus ends this symphony of crap. Let's examine what's wrong with this rosy little scenario, shall we...
First, what we have here is a workplace government. Now please raise your hand, those of you who would like to have a government in your own workplace ? Seriously, how retarded is this whole syndicalist concept ? Do thse morons love "office politics" so much that they actually want their co-workers to rule over them and make their life miserable for real ?
What's democracy's track record in keeping exploitation and abuse out of society ? Wars and drafts, the War on Drugs, gun control on innocent people while policemen and criminals are having their fun, people dying waiting for organs that the state won't allow you to sell, the FDA and other drug tzars murdering people by regulation, 50%+ taxation, socialized health care and education, people stuck on welfare, people sleeping in the streets... yea, I'd say that's working, all right ! It's working out just peachy fine for the rich and powerful, and the gullible morons like Kangas who adore their "democratic model".
If you want exploitation to get up close and personal, transpose all the evil and twisted incentives of the state into your personal life, into your workplace. The second you introduce an accessible center of power, people will constantly fight for it, and try to make everyone else's lives miserable - because they will try to get their value system enforced instead of yours. People will fight each other constantly over the style of management, over firing people they don't like, over regulations and policies which you probably don't even care about right now. Is that the kind of life anyone wants to lead ?
But beyond the utter drudgery and impracticality of the syndicalist system, it is immoral, just like any other state is immoral by the simple fact that all states are coercive. It doesn't matter how big or small it is, a workplace state is coercive, and leads to evil incentives, violence and social warfare. Only the market anarchic model leaves people free to choose to support their own value system and deal with other people on equal grounds and on peaceful grounds. Syndicalism, like any other collectivist worldview, is pragmatically and morally bankrupt.
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
A few months ago, I wrote a series of entries on the stupidity of Steve Kangas' Liberalism Resurgent FAQ - debunking his arguments in support of altruism, liberal "equality" and the "social contract", amongst other nonsense.
However, I wrote these entries before I became a market anarchist (I write entries many months in advance - I am writing this on the 4th of May). Therefore there is one glaring absurdity that I did not refute at the time - his arguments against anarchy.
His basic reasoning mirrors that of the so-called "anarcho-syndicalists", who believe that the coercive central state should be replaced by a multiplicity of coercive democratic states in the workplace - but he doesn't even have the decency of being an anarchist. His central premise is that anarchy gives power to individuals who would then abuse this power against others. He fails to notice that, even if his argument is correct (which it isn't), then this applies all the more to the state ! Despite his worship of democracy, all that democracy ensures is that power is distributed in different ways than in a monarchy. It does not at all change the fact that all states are inherently a monopoly of power.
The page this is taken from is "In Defense of Democratic Government", but you need to scroll down to get to the argument. I will now start at the relevant paragraph. Here we go :
One selling point of anarchy is that individuals become "king of their own castles." No one can tell you what to do with your property.
On these two sentences alone we can already observe that :
1. Kangas loves his statist rhetoric. By associating individuals with "kings" and property with "castles", he's poisoning the well, putting an image of the individual as tyrant and of the community as benevolent. He will come back to this theme later.
2. Kangas doesn't know anything about anarchy. Individuals in an anarchy can't be "king of their own castle" and do whatever they want with impunity. They have to negociate the interaction between their value system and that of other people. Market anarchy is the only form of social organization which acknowledges that people can have honest differences in values, and that we should resolve these disagreements like grown adults, not like petulent children "doing their own thing" and fighting each other because they cannot negociate. And liberals are perhaps the most childish of all on that count.
Remember this "individual as king" rhetoric that he set up here, because it continues in the very next sentence :
That may sound nice, until you consider that this makes dictators out of business owners and landlords, and subjects out of workers and tenants.
Now he turns the volume up on the rhetoric front, with the words "dictators" and "subjects". These words only apply to the state, which imposes a singular value system on an entire population. No individual can appoint himself "dictator". In fact, as we'll see later, it is Kangas who wants to create dictators of "business owners".
Go to part 2.
Sunday, August 6, 2006
For those of you who remember the silly, hateful troll "Mark Spittle," someone has dug up information about his activities. Turns out he's been harassing quite a lot of people. Get more at "Mark Spittle : Leftist Superhero Extraordinaire."
Saturday, August 5, 2006
Being responsible means to choose to do the right thing when the need arises. It also means that one must be judged irresponsible when he fails to do the right thing. And it also means to refrain from attacking others when there is no need to do so - as this is, after all, also a choice.
Commentators argue that we live in a more and more litigious society. I have no idea if this is actually true, but we do seem to have an expansion of litigation into more and more social areas.
Part of this breakdown of the civil society must have to do with the uncivil society - the state. We know for a fact that the corpus of laws grows at an incredible rate, and that the control of the state over society also grows. This must have an influence on how litigious a society is. The more place for the monopolizing state, the more areas exist where the monopolizing law has import on people's livelihood and values. So there is a great incentive for people to try to use or change the law becasue of that expansion, which means there is less interest for people to negociate or arbitrate.
Once again, most social warfare arises from the existence of a source of power and coercion which everyone wants to co-opt in order to "rescue" his value system against other value systems. And democracy provides the tool to enable this possibility. The bigger the state is, the more incentive there is for people to try to co-opt that state.
One can argue from irresponsibility in the simple and direct way that I have discussed in my entry "The Argument from the State of Nature". Suppose that a society is full of responsible people. Such a society has no need of a state. Now suppose a society full of irresponsible people. In that case, the last thing you need is a power structure composed of irresponsible people. Finally, suppose that some people are responsible and some are irresponsible - perhaps in response to bad incentives. In such a case, a state is also undesirable, since it provides an incentive system which encourages irresponsibility.
The existence of the state is a crutch for people who refuse to think for themselves - who have no morality, no purpose, no desire to cooperate with others. Its process is that of coercion, and its result is that of social warfare. People come to depend on the state to provide vital services, to "save people from themselves", to save the failures and the regressives (and no, I am not speaking against "the poor" - there are plenty of poor people who are not failures), basically to tell people what to do and believe.
The state, therefore, is the worst tool to rein in irresponsibility, because such a tool will necessarily be used irresponsibly - against those who are the most responsible and who bear the weight of the cost of "saving people from themselves".
Politicians exploit the existence of irresponsible people to justify rigid controls on your life. Because some people won't plan for their old age, you must be forced into Social Security. Because some people will do strange things if they look at dirty pictures on the Internet, your access to the Internet must be restricted.
Only free people have an incentive to be virtuous. Only people who bear the consequences of their own acts will care about those consequences and try to learn from their mistakes.
Harry Browne, "How to make people more responsible"
Irresponsibility, and the fear of irresponsibility, is a tool that the state possesses and uses in order to expand its powers at everyone's expense. But it is not limited to the state. The concept of "corporation" is another way to divert irresponsibility, by making individual action the burden of a non-existing fictional person. Thus persons in the present are judged responsible for crimes that happened decades ago, before they came to work in that corporation. This is a travesty of responsibility and justice.
If irresponsibility is a tool of the state, responsibility is a tool of the market anarchist - in being responsible in his own life, and in applying the concept of responsibility to social structures and institutions.
Thursday, August 3, 2006
This is a fairly common point brought up by people- what's the point of being a Market Anarchist? After all, it's not like we can bring down the state overnight. To answer this common point, I'd like to point out some things that becoming a Market Anarchist does give you.
1. Personal understanding and awareness.
First of all, Market Anarchy provides a solid understanding of society and politics. It really cuts through the rhetoric and propaganda that we constantly hear, starts from first premises, and show us what the truth of the power relationships and the moral principles are about a situation. With this understanding, you can become more aware of the morality of your own beliefs and actions, and of what the incentives are. In short, it makes you more aware and more honest.
I'm not going to waste time voting, because voting is a sanction of state coercion. I'm not going to do anything for the state unless I can't get away with it. I'm not going to waste my time thinking about "immigration", or nationalism, or even the supposed intractable debates like gun control or abortion, because I understand the moral principles involved. If the state is just a gang of armed thugs cloaked with legitimacy, there's just no reason for me to take ANY statist issue seriously.
2. Personal growth.
An understanding and awareness of power relations can bring about personal growth as well. This has not happened to me, but some Market Anarchists, when grasping the fact that parenthood is just one giant power relation, can much more easily come to grasps with what has been done to them in their childhood. An individualist view of society can also help to divest oneself of unhealthy relationships, although this would be more of a moral point than a political point per se. But if you accept Market Anarchy, then you are likely to adopt the moral standpoint as well.
3. Building a network and helping to further the cause.
If you want to do more, you can help the cause by explaining to your friends what Market Anarchy is. Some people just won't understand, some people will. I find that it mostly depends on how open they are to break their conditioning- atheists, for example, tend to be much more likely to grasp the moral concepts involved.
One common criticism I get is that we shouldn't complain because our society is okay. Okay compared to what? Iran? Yea, sure. But compared to a Market Anarchy equivalent? That's ridiculous. I could go on and on about all the things that the state does to the economy, people and society, and how it fails miserably at every single "service" it supposedly provides, but just think about this. If the state is only sapping 2% of our economy every year- which is an extremely generous assumption, given that the state controls a huge chunk of our economy and wastes a large proportion of it- then that represents 22% per decade. Without the state, we could be 22% richer at the end of that decade, in real terms, actual things you can buy, not by inflation of their stupid paper money. Indeed, just by inflation you lose more than that every decade off your savings, sometimes up to half of your savings.
It's completely ridiculous to think in that way. People don't say "oh, the mafia is not so great, but they're not as oppressive as those in Italy so we shouldn't try to get rid of them". The mafia does not force you to pay taxes or dictate every single aspect of our lives. The state is the most dangerous force in our society, so why shouldn't we want to get rid of it? We want to get rid of kidnapping, extortion, theft, slavery, and political power, and in all those areas the state is our enemy #1. We have no chance to ever live in a free society unless we promote Market Anarchy. So... why not?
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Castro said he had suffered gastrointestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from recent public appearances in Argentina and Cuba, and had to undergo an operation.