From Hammer of Truth.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
After the defeat of Net Socialism, Café Hayek finds something else to celebrate- the deregulation of broadband and its benefits to us:
The results are in: DSL packages are cheaper, performance speeds are faster, and the number of subscribers is growing more quickly than under open access rules. According to Leichtman Research, for the nine months following deregulation (fourth-quarter results aren't posted), the number of households with DSL increased by 4.6 million -- some 31% above the previous period's growth. Meanwhile, the DSL competitors -- cable modem services -- have added 3.8 million subscribers.
Socialism, we lose. Capitalism, we win!
The UK Telegraph thinks there is a problem with global warming- it stopped in 1998?
Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).
In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say "how silly to judge climate change over such a short period". Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Even CNN is saying it: the government is broken.
CNN is showing weeklong series called "Broken Government." I never thought I would see this kind of series title from any major news outlet.
Statism, in all its forms, is simply not performing. And people are starting to realize it. News outlets may even be starting to cash in on that very fact, if this CNN series is any indicator.
UPDATE: The online CNN poll agrees at 92% that the current political system is broken, 2 weeks before the midterm elections.
Since I grew up on science-fiction, I like to compare science-fiction series in moral and political terms. Star Trek and Star Wars, the two heavyweights, are little more than a panegyric for collectivism, anti-intellectualism and altruism through and through (Next Generation, Voyager and the end of A New Hope were particularly cringe-worthy- as well as the fact that every second Star Trek movie seems to be about saving the world). In Star Trek, Roddenberry's vision of an ideal world is that of a communist, or at least socialist, military regime where trade has ostensibly been replaced by goodness of heart. In Star Wars, the Old Republic is a heavily bureaucratic democracy which supports governments of all types, and the separatists (including many corporate entities) are portrayed as puppets of the evil Sith Lords. In Firefly, government is portrayed as an oppressive force and anarchy, while not ideal, is a place where freedom and an individualist way of life can still exist.
Who do we look up to as a society? Soldiers, athletes and actors, the two former being good examples of brute force, and the latter a good example of effete anti-intellectuals. While they do provide tremendous entertainment, and I am not saying that they don't contribute anything in those terms, their lasting contribution to society is negligible. Heavens forbid we admire people who actually do something! The perfect example of a "hero" is Mother Theresa, the weakling par excellence, whose main claims to fame are hobnobbing with fascist dictators and refusing to administer painkillers to her emaciated suffering victims.
True heroes usually face tremendous opposition- which is why they are heroes in the first place. A hero stands up against the problems of the world in his own way, pursuing his values even if it requires him to take risks or fight authority. Heroes are principled people, who are not afraid to speak or act against evil.
Have you ever heard of Ingo Potrykus? I'm pretty sure you haven't. And yet he is a real hero- a German bioengineer whose team developed Golden Rice, a genetically engineered food that could help millions of people, despite the opposition of governments and environmentalist organizations. There are plenty of heroes in this world. I count, for example, people like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, James Randi, the late lamented Harry Browne, and perhaps even an economist like David Friedman. I'm sure you have your own as well.
The root of the perversion of heroism lies in two related areas: first, the collectivist propaganda needed to maintain the legitimacy of the state, and its strong incentive to smear individualism and freedom lovers, and second, the fact that most people who manufacture our culture work in brutally competitive fields unless they benefit from state subsidies, and thus have a natural hatred for capitalism and a natural love for the state. It is, therefore, a natural extension of the hero worship inspired by religious myths.
On a more moral level, the anti-intellectualist mentality, hostile to principles and virtue, is the emotional food of the mob, which revels in hating those who seek intellectual or materialistic pursuits. The scientist, the businessman, the skeptic, the civil rights advocate, and those who use or promote technology are virtually always the enemies. Even when the right people are faulted, they are faulted not for being wrong, but for being too principled.
And I'm afraid that people lack understanding of morality or politics partially because they have been fed this emotionalist, violent, ignorant pap. Where will the counter-revolution come from?
Monday, October 23, 2006
It's always been fashionable to rail against populism. So I don't think I'm surprising anyone when I say that popular culture is complete crap, not even my statist opponents. Everyone thinks they're smarter than everyone else, and I'm no exception. But the main difference between me and my opponents lies in the fact that they decry the morality of the people who write and produce it (because of the socialist hatred of the profit motive, commercialism, and consumerism), and I decry the morality of what is presented to us. And one of my main beefs is the perversion of heroism that we are served day after day.
Why should our statist friends be concerned about the content of the pap they decry? Every day the media bombards us with altruistic and collectivist propaganda. Television shows, movies and books praise the nation, praise the family, praise the sacrifice, and praise those who work to preserve "culture" and "heritage". Individualists and freedom lovers generally appear either as hopeless, cold shells of humanity, or as crackpots trying to defend the worst crimes (just look at pretty much any given episode of Law & Order). And what of heroism!
It's become an infuriating custom to call "anti-hero" any character that is not either a violent unthinking brute or a completely "altruistic" goody two-shoes. The conception of heroism that we have been spoon-fed by the culture-peddlers completely perverts morality. It has been drained of all intelligence or subtlety, which is why "anti-heroes" are much more interesting and morally upright than so-called "heroes".
There are two main types of "heroes"- the unthinking brutes and the altruistic pansies. Your typical action "hero", mowing down crowd after crowd with no inkling of intelligence whatsoever, will be firmly inscribed in the former category. In most other movies, your anti-intellectual ineffectual "hero" will be firmly planted in the latter category. This, I think, mirrors our political dichotomy of "left" and "right", or at least the stereotypes of it. You have your right-wing, warmongering, socially repressive fanatic, and you have your left-wing, pacifist, effete anti-intellectual, the two opposite (and supposed exclusive) ways of seeing the world. Both are completely removed from reality.
And then of course you have your "superheroes", which have both properties at the same time, and thus represent the epitome of inanity, Superman being the paradigmatic example. Superman has had many incarnations and many writers in his long career, but his basic archetype is that of the altruistic brute mixed with anti-intellectualism- little more than a child in tights with almost infinite strength. Writers of "superhero comics" cloak their moral depravity in noble words like "justice" and "freedom", but we all know that what they advocate is the nobility of sacrifice without the weakness necessary for it to be an actual sacrifice ("Jesus", anyone?).
Now, there are "superheroes" that actually need to work for their powers, like Batman. But Batman is called an "anti-hero" and a "vigilante". Why? Because he's actually motivated by his past in his desire to fight arch-criminals, instead of by fiat? How is an action done on the basis of arbitrary moral duty "heroic" and the same action done on the basis of self-interest "vigilantism"?
Personally, my two favourite "anti-heroes"- that is to say, real heroes- are Gregory House (of the show "House, MD") and Malcolm Reynolds (captain of the Serenity). Neither of them has an altruistic bone in his body, and neither could be really called an "action hero". They are individuals with principles, and they will do anything to follow those principles, breaking as many rules as necessary in order to do so. Even though fans of both will do their best to back-pedal and concede that they are "flawed" characters with "questionable morality", I find this attitude a pitiful concession to the perverted heroism that we are supposed to accept, and scorn it at every opportunity.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Marxist theory tells us that society is a struggle between classes. In the statist system, this is technically correct.
Marxist theory tells us that society is a struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. This is quite incomplete. Marxists have made it so because they desire to create a new ruling class. In reality, we can see plainly that the bourgeoisie, in Marxist terms, is only an enemy insofar as it can co-opt ruling class power more effectively than the proletariat.
Marxist theory says that, as inequality grows, the proles will revolt against their masters. This is, again, technically correct. History has shown that the greatest inequalities of fortune and power do lead to revolts. This does not, however, validate the Marxist dialectic, because in a relatively capitalistic system inequality of fortune and power is lowered, not heightened. The inequality between a king and a peasant cannot in any way be compared to that of a current average worker and a CEO, and it would be laughable to even suggest it. A CEO may have many orders of magnitude more money than the average person, but lives a life which is comparatively similar to that of the average person. A king possessed almost infinitely more wealth than your average peasant, and lived a life which had no comparison at all with that of a peasant. The spreading of technology due to capitalism, the lower concentration of power (even if the total power is far greater in a democratic state), and the removal of cultural barriers all create a more equal society.
Marxist theory promotes a society where inequality is the greatest possible- where some people have no power, and others control the economic and the social all together. While decrying corporatism constantly, Marxism is in fact nothing more than corporatism taken to its natural conclusion- economic leaders put in power, controlling all aspects of "their" workers' life. Market Anarchy promotes a society where there is no political power, everyone is equal, and everyone can choose how they desire to live.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
My friend Adrian showed me this recent duo of questions from a message board he frequents:
"Answer two questions:
1. What would you kill for?
2. What would you risk yor life for?
If your answers are not the same you really need to look at your ethics."
I guess there is a problem with my ethics, but I don't really see how both answers can be the same. Being ready to kill for something, and "risking your life" for it, are very different levels of value. We risk our lives, or lower slightly our quality of life, for a lot of things, simply because we think it's worth it. If we lived our lives in order to have the least risk of any disease or accident, we would lead extremely boring lives indeed. But I would only kill to protect my own life or that of people I value.
The notion that people really do desire to be enslaved is an incredibly absurd, and yet disturbingly common, canard. Defenders of the state claim that it's okay to be enslaved because that's what most people already want. After all, look at how people vote! They want welfare, socialized medicine, more taxes, they always want to be enslaved more and more! Doesn't that prove that statist enslavement is the natural state of man?
Stefan Molyneux has a great analogy that I trot out especially for this kind of fallacy. He says to imagine a sociologist who comes to a zoo to study the apes there. The sociologist notes that the apes don't move around much and don't seem to leave a certain area, and tries to find an explanation for this strange behaviour. He postulates that the monkeys have a strong tribal instinct, that they are sedentary, that new places scare them, and so on. All this time, he fails to notice that the monkeys simply don't move around because they are in cages!
This is the exact same insanity that afflicts anyone who tries to analyze human behaviour without taking into account the debilitating effect of state threats and coercion on the individual.
Why do people choose enslavement? It is not a natural thing for people to desire to be enslaved. People crave freedom, and this is manifested in most aspects of society, but not in politics. The answer is very simple: people believe that the burden of state coercion is a permanent fixture of society, and they adapt to that situation. More specifically, they try to wrestle as much state power as possible in favour of their values and social policies, before other people do the same. So what we have is basically a Tragedy of the Commons situation as regards to individual rights- either you get your way, or someone else will. Social warfare is the inevitable consequence of any democratic system.
The truth of the matter is, if you take away the cage of state coercion, most people desire to be free. And the best proof of this is to ask a rabid statist the following question:
"Would YOU, personally, like to be free to do X?"
Don't listen to their rationalizations as to why OTHER PEOPLE should not be free to do X. Just ignore them and ask them again:
"Would YOU, personally, like to be free to do X?"
Inevitably the answer will be "yes!". Of course people want to be personally free to do things. They simply do not believe that other people can be trusted- either because they believe their beliefs should be enforced over that of others, or because they believe that other people are inherently evil and not to be trusted (another statist belief which ensures that people will submit to the state as a necessary check over their fellows). And no one trusts anyone else, because they have been taught that other people are not to be trusted.
Statists sometimes argue that we anarchists believe that everyone is good and would "do the right thing". This is, of course, complete nonsense, but they are right in the sense that we think that people are generally decent (if not always doing the right thing) when the threat of the state is removed and they are free to adapt to a new, healthier situation. That is our hope, yes. But we do not depend on this hope to have a market anarchist society. Unlike the statist's utopia, market anarchy does not require a high level of intelligent, decency or morality in order to work. It's natural, it's trade, it always works, even little children can figure it out. It doesn't take a fucking degree in politics.
People don't want to be free? That's like saying that a kidnapping victim doesn't want to be free because he obeys his captors. No, he obeys his captors because he doesn't want to get shot. So... give me a break!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
"Market failure" is another absurd concept being propagated by people who should know better. While I don't deny that such a concept may have some use, we have to examine it the way it is used by the statists. Underlying this statist code-word is the premise that the state must exist in order to correct the failures inherent to free markets.
This is quite an absurd premise, if we understand what the state is. The state is, economically speaking, a coercive agent of resource redistribution. All that it does economically is coercively redistribute resources and prevent other agents from doing the same. These same patterns can be achieved by people working together in a free market. So how can the state effect patterns that the free market cannot?
True, some outcomes are rather less likely- it is highly improbable that every single person in a society would willingly surrender half their income to a mindless coercive bureaucracy- but that's a good thing.
So the term "market failure" should rather be changed to "distributive limits". It is not a market phenomenon, but a phenomenon that affects the distribution of resources under any system.
Let's look at some common examples of "market failure" and how they are nothing more than statist rhetoric.
* Monopolies. I hope I don't even need to explain this one, but just in case: the only viable monopolies are those created by the state. There has never been a purely natural monopoly in the history of the markets. So this should be properly called a "state failure"- like the postal service, socialized health care, Amtrak, etc.
* Lack of information. Yes, it is absolutely true that a lack of adequate information in a market can lead buyers and sellers to make sub-optimal decisions- compared to a scenario of perfect information. But this example fails to include the fact that information is also a product. Once this fact is included, the whole premise of the example (that the lack of information is somehow different from a lack of any other product) disintegrate. This also applies in scenarios with asymmetrical information.
* "Price gouging". There is no such thing as "price gouging", only resources being sold at higher prices than usual due to higher demand. This is called "offer and demand" and is the basic principle behind all exchange of resources. If "price gouging" is a market failure then all such exchanges, whatever the system, are market failures.
It is a concept created by statists in order to justify more government intervention, same as "collusion". They rig the system so you can't win. If you sell your products lower than the competition, it's unfair competition. If you sell your products higher than the competition, it's price gouging. If you sell your products at the same price than the competition, it's collusion.
* Negative externalities, such as pollution. This is actually a similar scenario to that of lack of information, because it relies on ignoring one particular market in order to project the illusion of a "failure". The market, in this case, is justice. Agents who pollute should expect to be forced to redistribute some of their profits to the people affected by their pollution. But this is not what happened with industralization, thanks to a state which depends on big industry for its taxes and support. Now everyone knows how lax the state is regarding pollution. Why should we expect otherwise?
* "Public goods". This is another chimera used to justify the existence of the state. It is based on the idea that there are goods which are used by everyone but which, under a free market, most people would not pay for (free riders). The perennial example of such a good is lighthouses, which also provides us the perfect rebuttal because private lighthouses have existed in the past. They were financed by collecting toll on ships docking at nearby ports. Roads are another example usually given, but private roads already exist! If anything, these two examples prove that "public goods" are pure fantasy.
A more fundamental answer to this supposed problem would be that these "public goods" are still, even when controlled by the state, built, maintained and financed by individuals. As such, there is no reason why a market system cannot reproduce those same conditions.
"Market failure" is a concept used to justify government interference. As such, it is based on ignorance of the facts. Nothing can justify coercive redistribution of resources- which is to say, forcibly taking away from people's self-interested trades. To fight against self-interest is to fight against our common desire for prosperity and progress.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Monday, October 9, 2006
Listen and Burn!
Mondo Diablo Episode 19: Lappy 2000!
Enjoy! -- Hellbound Alleee
Saturday, October 7, 2006
How expensive is war? Apparently not quite as expensive as states make them. Including 100 million from Iran every year, Hezbollah costs about 400 million dollars a year, the cost of a single F/A-22 Raptor. And they are giving a good run to Israel, too. How's that for non-statist efficiency?
We have a new scientific study being touted by the collectivists as proving that colas are bad for you. According to the Center for Consumer Freedom, however, this is yet another statist Big Lie:
Once you filter through the hype, however, the paper (available here from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) offers this conclusion: The more you eat and the less you exercise, the more you'll weigh. Oh, and soda's bad.
One line from the review which has drawn massive media attention is the "discovery" that if the 150 calories found in an average can of soda "are added to the typical US diet without reducing intake from other sources, 1 soda/d could lead to a weight gain of 15 lb or 6.75 kg in 1 y." We're not really sure how to say this, but it doesn't take a Harvard Ph.D to understand that adding 150 calories from anything to your daily diet (without otherwise changing your diet or exercise level) will add pounds to your frame.
Here is a link to the study. Read it for yourself, because they never want you to. When a statist says anything about a scientific study, read it first. Trust statists about science as much as you'd trust a Christian on biology.
Thursday, October 5, 2006
It is a common accusation against individualists that they believe in a "might makes right" mentality. Due to our refusal to believe in their collectivist ideal of supposed security and comfort, we are cruel, unfeeling people who wish nothing but for the weak and incapable to be crushed.
As for most collectivist arguments, this is pure projection. I have yet to meet one market anarchist or atheist who believes in "might makes right". Rather, it is statism and religion which promote a mentality of power over persuasion or reason. In fact, power as justification is inherent in both of their founding narratives. Statists believe that the state must have the power to dominate society in order to enforce a singular value system, and that the state is justified in its worst atrocities because it needs that power. The religious believe that God is justified in its worst atrocities and owns all human beings solely because it has the power to create and destroy life.
And if you think that's a straw man, listen to what Lee Strobel, probably THE most well-known name in Chrisian apologetics, has to say about it :
People assume that what's wrong for us is wrong for God. However, it's wrong for me to take your life, because I didn't make it and I don't own it. For example, it's wrong me to go into your yard and pull up your bushes, cut them down, kill them, transplant them, move them around. I can do that in my yard, because I own the bushes in my yard.
Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith, chapter 4
Both statism and religion are based on belief - belief that government is necessary, and belief in the existence of God. And belief precludes the possibility of persuasion. Persuasion is only possible when we have objective facts to show and explain to the other person. Insofar as belief precludes persuasion, the only way to impart belief is by force - mental (childhood brainwashing, for example) or physical (beating up people who believe otherwise).
The moral premises for both the state and religion are also cut of the same cloth. Statists believe either that singular power makes right (monarchy), that majority power makes right (democracy), that the "common good", as chosen by the ruling class, makes right (fascism), or that "class" power makes right (communism). In no case is there any consideration for the truth. Same for the religious, who believe that whatever God wants is moral, regardless of reality.
Belief in the state and belief in God are predicated on the same premise: that there are some beings that are inherently superior to us in the social order due to their might, and can dictate morality to the rest. There is absolutely no reason for us to consider "God's law" or the "state's law" as anything but an arbitrary construct designed to pursue a specific set of ruling class values (those of the Church and those of the state). They are followed, not because people judge them good, but because of "might".
Look at who rejoices in violence and brutality. Surely the Christian does, when he reads with enthusiasm the Old Testament stories of genocide, or when he rejoices in the future Hellish destination of some of us. Sure, they say that it's all for ends we cannot understand, and that God has his reasons, which is to say that they really believe these things out of their own dark, violent impulses and refuse to acknowledge it, so they pin it on their scapegoat. And surely the statists do, at least those who support state police, the prison system, and war. They always clamour for their "country" to have the most guns, the most bombs, the most planes, and they stand the tallest when they salute the flag. They sure are in love with "might".
In all considerations, one basic fact remains. Both anarchists and atheists desire to free people from collectivist coercion, and to live in a society where people express their personal values. Statists share the religious desire to enforce submission to their collectivist ideals, through force of arms, mental threats, and social engineering. If there are any screaming children, if there are people who believe that might makes right, it is they.
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Austin Cline from atheism.about.com has been guest posting each Sunday at Jesus' General, and last Sunday he had a great post about enemy combatants, along with a wonderfully designed propaganda poster. Here's a few snips from the post:
Habeas corpus is a limit on arbitrary, dictatorial state power and the Congress has removed it in a manner that opens up a door that should have forever remained shut. They have authorized the president to imprison people permanently, without trial or review. How is that not the basis for tyranny?
Conservatives have traditionally insisted that the Constitution doesn’t create or grant rights, but instead guarantees rights that are a gift from God. President Bush sometimes continues to mouth these phrases, but it’s clear that this is nothing but rhetoric because now these same conservatives are treating constitutional rights as something which the government can arbitrarily withdraw at will. Isn’t that interesting?
For a statist, Austin Cline's writing keeps impressing me more and more. He's always been a good writer in my opinion, but he seems to be hitting the nails more squarely on the head lately, while mincing less words. In addition, he is doing excellent dot-connecting by finding patterns and similarities between related concepts. And Austin's criticisms of government and the politicians' associated religious views are becoming stronger in their condemning conclusions, and are great to read. While you are there, be sure to check out Austin’s propaganda poster gallery. He is a talented artist, and many of his posters include a mixture of political and religious criticism.
I wonder, could there someday be an anarchy.about.com? Hmmmm...
Sunday, October 1, 2006
The stupidest argument against anarchy that I have heard personally, is that an anarchic system would be "too complicated" and no one could possibly do anything with, for example, dozens of security agencies with their own codes, or with dozens of currencies.
These are the kind of people who go to the grocery store, look at all the varieties of cola, and drool over themselves trying to process the information (I have to admit that I do get like that a bit). Perhaps we should accomodate their retardation and have only ONE brand of cola, manufactured by the state. It would taste shitty, cost fifteen dollars a 2L bottle (including health taxes), and it would come in one flavour (regular). That would be pretty damn simple. It would also be horrible. Monopolies are simple, inefficient and wrong.
But the good side is that the added complexity need not bother the average person. If they really can't be bothered, they could simply get an account at the cheapest legitimate security agency they can find. That should end their problem. The rest of us can make a more educated choice and support a way of life that we desire.
What about a policeman who may have to arrest someone? The only added complexity would be to ask a suspect for his agency card and verify it. Depending on whether the arbitration between the victim's agency and the suspect's agency indicates arrest is warranted or not, an appropriate message would come back- that he should be arrested or not arrested. All that is added to the current procedures is a short and simple phone call.
What if someone does not have his agency card, what if there is no arbitration available at the time, or some problem of this sort? Well, I think procedures would be put in place to deal with such cases, after a while. Falsely arresting someone could be costly for an agency. Perhaps they would rely on common law, or the victim's code, or some other method. However it would work, all it would require, once again, is one phone call. Not very complicated!
What if there are different currencies for the same area? How will we deal then? Well, how do people deal with the great number of credit cards that exist today? Are people demanding a monopoly in the credit card business? Everyone knows very well that it would be horrible. And yet the complication is not a problem. People are able to use credit cards just fine.
Like I said, it is the stupidest argument. It is just an attempt to portray an anarchy as mind-boggling. And yet people are just fine with competition in other industries, and aren't overwhelmed with the amount of choice that they have. And people who are, have ways available to reduce the complexity for themselves. This is not rocket science.