Friday, June 30, 2006

Tim Berners-Lee on Net Socialism / Corruption and unsafe driving

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Tim Berners-Lee, considered the driving force behind the creation of the Internet, has piped in on Net Socialism. He thinks we should support it, and that "[t]his is serious". I agree that the statist assault against the integrity of the Internet is serious. I just think it's sad, but expected, that the father stands against his creation.

And of course, the writer of the article once again mentions the opponents of Net Socialism having millions of dollars. Can one of those writers who say these things send me a million dollar? I really would like to fit their pathetic stereotype.

But here is the statist clincher:

The simple truth that you can't have a free market without government regulation...


Hello? Come again? We can't have a peaceful system of trade without a gang of thugs? Says who? Apparently Jon Hannibal Stokes is either a retard, or he knows some arcane secret of economy that we don't... But what do you expect from statist propaganda, right?


A new study has been published recently on the effects of government corruption, as tested on "driver's licences" (driving is a privilege, not a right, doncha know?) in New Delhi.

Several interesting facts regarding corruption emerge. First, the bureaucracy responds to individual needs. Those who want their license faster (e.g. [the group who was given money to bribe officials with]), get it 40% faster and at a 20% higher rate. Second, the bureaucracy is insensitive to social needs. The bonus [bribing] group does not learn to drive safely in order to obtain their license: in fact, 69% of them were rated as “failures” on the independent driving test. Those in the [group that was given driving lessons], despite superior driving skills, are only slightly more likely to obtain a license than the comparison [control] group and far less likely (by 29 percentage points) than the bonus group. (...) Together, these results suggest that bureaucrats raise red tape to extract bribes and that this corruption undermines the very purpose of regulation.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Non-Aggression Principle

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The Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), the cornerstone of the market anarchist framework, can be expressed as such :

No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, nor to delegate its initiation.
L. Neil Smith


Although a pacifist obviously follows the NAP, the NAP does not demand pacifism, as self-defense is not an "initiation" of force by definition. Of course, the issue is then raised of what consists and does not consist self-defense, an issue I have no intention of getting into here. Suffice it to say that for the sake of discussion the notions of self-defense as defined in our current laws are good enough for a first approximation (i.e. anyone pointing guns at anyone else is fair game).

Superficially, most people support the NAP, and do not use force in their own lives. However, when it comes to the violence and coercion inherent to government, we get the old excuse of "that's how the system works". Policemen and soldiers routinely gun down, jail and otherwise make life horrible for people without fear of punishment. They feel perfectly legitimized - in fact, they are proud of it ! - because their actions are sanctioned by government, which is itself legitimized by its own propaganda. And the population in general has no qualms supporting the existence of a monopoly of police and army, and supporting wars, because they are too brainwashed to examine these things from a moral perspective.

So once again we have to come back to the Moral Razor. If something is moral for one person, then it must be moral for all people. It is good that any person be honest, and therefore honesty is a virtue for all. It is good that any person be rational, and therefore rationality is a virtue for all.

What about "killing the enemies" ? "Shooting down criminals" ? "Arresting people for illegal acts" ? "Collecting income tax" ? If it is proper for a few, and not proper to all, then that makes it indefensible. Either anyone should be permitted to kill their enemies, shoot down criminals, arrest people for acts they find illegal, or collect income tax for themselves, or we are no longer in the realm of morality, but rather in the realm of exploitation of one group against another.

Of course, the eager defenders of democracy will pipe up and claim that all of this coercion is justified by good intentions and goals. This is, of course, complete and utter nonsense. Whatever your intention is, if you need to kill or ruin people's lives for it, it's not a good intention ! If I hold you up but claim that I will use the money I steal from you to give to a good cause, that does not make my theft any more moral, only more hypocrite. It is a mass mentality, the democratic knee-jerk reflex of invoking government for any problem, without any consideration as to whose lives are being trampled.

The market anarchist solution is that you actually have to deal with other people's values, and live like adults, instead of fighting for a paternal government's gun. If your intentions really are good, then prove it. If your cause is just, then sell it. If you're right, then you'll have many takers. If you're wrong, then few people will follow you.

Of course, market judgment is the last thing statists want. They wish their coercive ideas to be enforced without reference to other people's values, because the very nature of democratic government is that of a constant struggle to get one's values enforced over others. Like Christians who hide behind their interpretation of "divine laws" to escape moral judgment, the statist hides behind the coercive "common good" in order to escape judgment from their peers, and derides us as "pacifists".

Thus is the way of the Aggression Principle, the way of the coward and the brute.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Carnival of Liberty 51

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Timothy Sandefur didn't have the gumption to address my answers to his questions in "Questions from a libertarian war cheerleader", or maybe he's just wasting people's time and doesn't care about his own challenges. But now the newest Carnival of Liberty published it for everyone to see. Go check the other articles, and down with state power!

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Little Duckspeak Analysis

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Let's do a little duckspeak analysis. Those are always fun. We have an easy example here with George W. Bush's recent Executive Order (translation: the President's Dictatorial Whim). Here it is:

It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.


Is this good? Bad? Don't know? Well, you have to analyze it. Let's take this process step by step. First, strike out all the obvious rhetorical phrases:

It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.


Then identify all the code-words:

It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.


Not too shabby! Now replace them with correct phrases:

It is our policy to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting our theft of land to situations in which the stealing is for our use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of getting us more votes, and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.


We're almost there. Now just translate the rest and cut out the strike outs to get the meaning of the passage:

We try to limit our theft of land to situations in which the stealing is for our use, and for the purpose of getting us more votes, not only for the purpose of profiting the people who get use of the loot.


Ah! Now I get it! Another bit of duckspeak translated into real English. Now it makes perfect sense.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Keep up the Special Pleading, Statists!

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If a serial killer is responsible for innocent people's deaths, he is a criminal and the deaths are horrible tragedies.
When a state killer (soldier) is responsible for dozens of innocent people's deaths, he's either a hero, or at worst, he's fired. Sure you're a killer, but you're doing it for us, so it's morally fine (hitmen don't get that same recognition however - the statist mind is very finicky).

Thieves are considered criminals and put in jail.
When the state collects taxes... no, wait! Taxes are not theft! You see, social contract mumble mumble the common good mumble mumble without taxes how would we finance the War on Drugs? If you don't like the taxes, then wait until you can vote against them (you'll never get the occasion to anyway) or go move to one of those other countries that have taxes so you can complain there. IRS agents shouldn't be put in jail, that's ridiculous. They're not stealing from you, they are saving you from your own fiscal irresponsibility. Of course, if you try using that excuse to rob people, you're still going to jail. The main difference is that they have the guns and you don't.

Talking about guns, there can be no debate about whether soldiers and policemen should have access to firearms. They need them to defend themselves. This is completely different from your average American living in crime-torn cities, because the soldiers and policemen have uniforms! On the flip side, every time a private citizen kills with his firearm, self-defense or not, we should always have a public outcry on how evil guns are and how we should get rid of them (except for the state's goons, of course).

If a doctor withdrew vital medications from a patient and that one patient died from it, the doctor would be accused of gross negligeance and dragged through the mud.
When the FDA withdraws vital medications from people and thousands die from it every year, it's a vital service. They must be protected from themselves, even if that means they have to die. Always remember that unlike those big evil corporations, the state truly cares about your well-being.

When a handful of criminal fraudsters and con men are revealed as having edified a multinational corporation out of thin air, it is a major scandal which casts a shadow on the whole economic system.
When thousands of politicians are shown to have spent billions of dollars on programs and wars which hurt people instead of helping them, it's business as usual, and the people who came up with the programs or wars are hailed as heroes. Never does it occur to anyone to use this as an argument that statism is flawed.

When Microsoft makes special contracts with computer manufacturers, people cry monopoly.
When the state grants special contracts in Iraq to election-year generous, war profiteering corporations like Haliburton and the Bechtel Group, people are silent.

Talking about Microsoft, it's perfectly all right if the state imposes price floors, a trust, or even makes a product required by law (such as car insurance), but it is so not okay if you're a private individual successful in offering an actual product. Don't you know your success makes everyone else look bad? You should do like everyone else and ask the state to crush your competition.

When a store chain backs down of a position because of public outcry, people complain that the chain is politically-motivated.
When politicians refuse to acknowledge the will of the people after they are elected and never back down, people call it democracy. But since they believe that people magically become altruistic when they get public office, I guess we shouldn't be too surprised. They're really ignoring you for your own good.

The difference between a state bureaucrat and a private individual is that the bureaucrat doesn't need to persuade you he's right. He can just force you to do what he wants. The state, ultimately, reduces itself to nothing but coercion of productive efforts and resources into obeying the ruling class values in that society. And so anyone who supports the state is a traitor to his own values and his own freedom.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What is an incentive?

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On a previous entry, I asked non-determinists the killer question: what is an incentive?

An incentive is a path of preferred action traced by the feature of a system (any system, not just a mode of social organization). For example, a system where power is concentrated (systemic feature) will inevitably invite abuse of power (path of preferred action). A system that lacks accountability (systemic feature) invites inefficiency and corruption (path of preferred action). A system where accountability is important (systemic feature) invites efficiency and transparency (path of preferred action).

I use these words "path" and "traced" because they are appropriate. Sure, a person within that system can decide to act differently, but incentives present a path of least resistance. They entail that people will prefer acting in certain ways instead of others, because of the way the system is made.

Now, what does that imply for determinism? If people's minds are not causal, then there is no reason why incentives should exist at all. Why should individuals feel the pull of any specific path? Unfettered will should be able to decide on the basis of values only, without the input of any mere exterior factor. Saying that these incentives are influencing people can only be true if we do not have an unfettered will.

Bizarre Counterfeiting / "Price Gouging"

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Division of Labour asks what could almost be a Zen Koan on the stupidity of state agents: "Is it counterfeiting when there’s no real dollar bill in that denomination?" Turns out the US Secret Service has accused a ministry of counterfeiting... million dollar bills. Of course, no such bills actually exist. Your tax money at work, ladies and gents.


Rasputin.com tells us what Walter E. Williams has to say about so-called "price gouging". This is a great article.

Let's start off with an example. Say you owned a small 10-pound inventory of coffee that you purchased for $3 a pound. Each week you'd sell me a pound for $3.25. Suppose a freeze in Brazil destroyed half of its coffee crop, causing the world price of coffee to immediately rise to $5 a pound. You still have coffee that you purchased before the jump in prices. When I stop by to buy another pound of coffee from you, how much will you charge me? I'm betting that you're going to charge me at least $5 a pound. Why? Because that's today's cost to replace your inventory.
(...)
If you were really enthusiastic about not being a "price-gouger," I'd have another proposition. You might own a house that you purchased for $55,000 in 1960 that you put on the market for a half-million dollars. I'd simply accuse you of price-gouging and demand that you sell me the house for what you paid for it, maybe adding on a bit for inflation since 1960. I'm betting you'd say, "Williams, if I sold you my house for what I paid for it in 1960, how will I be able to pay today's prices for a house to live in?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The "What If" Disease

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Many statists suffer from the dreaded "What If" disease. This disease afflicts statists who understand the superiority of the market anarchist model and seek to rationalize their denial. It is not known yet whether this disease is permanent. The goal of the afflicted is to pepper the anarchist with hypothetical "What If" questions, ostensibly designed to point out a flaw of the model, but which, in reality, almost always exposes the statist's beliefs for the travesty that they are.

Here are some examples:

* "What if... one company becomes so powerful that it monopolizes everything? Then they would become tyrannical and take over society."

This is a common rationalization. It also exposes the statist very neatly, because we already have a monopoly - it's called the state. His worst-case scenario is exactly what he believes in, a monopoly of power! He is revealing here that he finds his own beliefs undesirable, or is simply lying.

The market anarchist theory answer is that monopolies only arise in a limited set of circumstances: when the resources needed to produce are too rare, when the demand is too low, when only one product is good enough for consumer use. But by far the biggest cause of monopolies, trusts, and other undesirable situations of this sort, is the state.

* "What if... those agencies that have all the guns, decide to bump their competition off... there'll be fighting in the streets!"

By far, the biggest agency of violence is the state. True, there are plenty of criminals going around, but the state brings us war - which is nothing more than generalized violence engendered by the state. Corporations do not go around killing people on the streets, because they are accountable for their actions, unlike governments which can kill with impunity. In a market anarchy, this would not change.

The only thing that stops politicians from declaring war is the threat of nuclear force, because they personally could be under danger from such weapons. This is why they seek to suppress nuclear development in other countries. They know that the more nuclear bombs spread, the least possibilities they have to do war - at least, until a counter is found.

* "What if... people decide to trade with big corporations and give them all the power?"

Actually, we already have this going on right now. For example, people prefer to shop at big chains rather than mom and pop stores. Why? Because the big chains are more efficient, have more buying power and leverage, and thus provide lower prices. People go shop there because they get more. It's as simple as that! If the chains stop providing what people want, people will go somewhere else. The fact that a corporation is big or small does not change the fact that, unlike the state, it is accountable to its customers.


What is missing in all these "What If" attacks? An understanding of the incentives in each scenario, especially the fact that corporations, which are nothing more than groups of individuals cooperating towards a goal of production, are accountable, while states are not.

In the first scenario, the believer fails to grasp that the state is the biggest monopoly of all, and in the most dangerous domain of the economy - force. The state is already tyrannical and has taken over all aspects of society through its arbitrary laws, subsidies, artificial monopolies and trusts, and its deadly grip over education and health care. All that the scenario demonstrates, even if it was realistic (which it is not) is that the worst case scenario of a market anarchy is... statism! And this argument is supposed to convince us that statism is superior?

The other problem is that the scenario is not realistic. There has never been a monopoly in history implemented without government force. This is, in fact, quite an impossible scenario in the absence of severe constraints on resources or demand. Furthermore, consumers have no incentives to support a monopoly, because people know very well that monopolies are undesirable. For example, in Europe especially, there has been a backlash against Microsoft's growing market share - and it was only at 85%! Microsoft could never achieve a monopoly, simply because people don't want to be at the mercy of a monopoly, with higher prices and a lower quality of service.

In the second scenario, the statist is complaining about the power of agencies in a market anarchy. Once again, what he describes is the state: a group that has all the guns and tries to bump off its competition. Once again, what we have, at best, is a worst-case scenario, so it cannot convince us that statism is superior. The operation of statism, in all of recorded history, has been of war after war, when anarchies, while still violent, are considerably more peaceful. Statism is coercion.

In a market anarchy, the incentives for war are greatly reduced. Unlike the state, which can raise money and manpower relatively easily at little cost to itself, any person or group who desires to wage war against others must pay for the cost of weapons, wages and damages. Unlike the state, which can use its propaganda front doors to spread lies and deception in its subservient society, such a person or group must also convince others that the cause is good enough to die for, or at least get maimed for. Finally, unlike the statist system wherein war can be needed to maintain the legitimacy of the state, people in a market anarchy have no legitimacy reasons to wage war.

In short, the error of the statist arguments discussed above lie in their confusion between the state and agencies in a market anarchy. In a market anarchy, there can be no such thing as a state by definition. Individuals in a market anarchy, therefore, are subject to extremely different incentives, ones which are based on personal freedom and responsibility. This means that the total depravity and irresponsibility or the state cannot be imputed to such individuals.

For the non-determinists!

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For the market anarchists amongst us who do not believe in determinism, I ask you this simple question:

What is an incentive?

Think about it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Why Market Anarchy is Most Conductive to Natural Rights, finis

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In his conclusion, Nikhil simply rehashes the previous arguments he presented, which is to say:

1. That a market anarchy would inevitably collapse into a state.
2. That a market anarchy requires a perfect population to work.

I have soundly refuted both arguments in my previous post, and yet he's still presenting them as if they completely refute my position. He is just not listening.

To repeat again in condensed form:

1. A market anarchy cannot collapse into a state, because a state is a monopoly of force, and natural monopolies are impossible without state intervention. Nikhil has failed to explain how such a monopoly could arise, as well as why he thinks that people's self-interest would override the natural tendancy towards peace in a market anarchy (due to the fact that people must pay for their own wars, instead of imposing the costs on a captive population).

A state, of course, is already "collapsed", and therefore if Nikhil considers this collapsed state evil, he must call his own system evil as well.

2. Unlike statism, a market anarchy does not require a perfect population, or even good people. It merely requires the existence of market processes- which is pretty simple- and willingness to trade. Even if 99% of a population lived in a collectivist commune, this should not prevent the rests of us from asserting our legitimacy and assembling together in ways that are more conductive to natural rights.

Nikhil abhors this scenario because he wishes to impose his desired value system by the force of arms. Even if he is a minarchist, he is still a statist, and he is still a person who desires constant violence and social warfare. This lack of morality is what led me to leave the fantasy of minarchism and understand that market anarchy is the only moral system. It is based on the simple premise that everyone has different value systems, and that trying to impose a singular value system on everyone is immoral, lunatic, and not conductive to freedom in the long run.

Good luck Nikhil. I hope you rethink your moral orientation in the future, and look more closely at your own arguments, because all the arguments you use indict you.

Well, I can lead a horse to the water, but I can't make him think.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why Anarchy is Most Conductive to Natural Rights part 3

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Nikhil Rao has posted his second rebuttal today.

Once again I have no objection, and neither do I intend to object, to his scientific work. What I mainly object to, is his butchering of market anarchist theory. He especially fails to grasp that the simple problems he raises can easily be turned against his belief in the state with more effect. In my previous entry, I explained why consumer demand stands against the possibility of the disintegration of an anarchic system. He replies that not enough people value freedom to make this true:

But do people in general really believe that freedom is that important a value? The past 100 years would seem to indicate otherwise as we’ve seen the rise of the welfare state in every country around the world. I can count on my fingers the number of people I met during my year in London who actually held freedom in high regard.


Here once again he falls into another statist trap: this time, of associating the behaviour of human beings under a state, with that of human beings in general. Of course people cheer the rise of the welfare state. They assume that the state is a permanent fixture, and thus seek to utilize as much of its power as possible to perpetuate their values against those of other people. Social warfare, after all, is the state of any society in a democratic system. And people mistakenly assume that the welfare state is good for their own security. Given this, their behaviour is not surprising at all.

People do value comfort- the comfort to live as they desire, and not have to answer to anyone else. That is the main drive of social warfare in a democracy, and the main drive of peace in an anarchy. There is nothing comfortable in warfare of any kind, or at least, I would like to know one person who thinks war is a comfortable state. Surely not! So how can people in an anarchy value the kind of war that Nikhil is predicting?

The question becomes, rather, how Nikhil expects his ideal state to make self-interest concurrent with natural rights- a point which he has not addressed at all. Market anarchy has been proven to work, again and again. Statism has never worked, and cannot possibly work due to the incentive system inherent to a monopoly of power. How can people not desire to exploit a monopoly of power, is the impossible issue that Nikhil must address.

When I was a minarchist, I racked my brain for years trying to find an answer. I shouldn't have bothered, when the answer was already right in front of me. Perhaps Nikhil will come to that same conclusion one day.

Even more absurdly, he asks:

In fact, the history of middle ages Europe is a perfect example of the failure of the an-cap system. As more and more men chose safety and comfort over freedom, rulers’ power grew more and more in scope. Once upon a time ‘Kings’ were petty little things, ruling over small parcels of land of little consequence. But as time went on, kingdoms grew to the size of entire countries, and in time a Holy Roman Emperor would be crowned.


Is Nikhil seriously contending that Middle Ages Europe was a market anarchy? If so, I would like to see his proof.

We do know that some isolated regions of Europe were anarchies- such as Iceland and Ireland- and they were more peaceful and respectful of rights than their monarchic equivalents. I'm afraid that Nikhil's argument blows up in his face on this one.

Nikhil says that my statement that natural monopolies do not occur is too superficial, and that the basic power structure always remains. What basic power structure? The desire to dominate? Sure. The desire to dominate is always there. But unless it can be given expression, it must be sublimated. If Nikhil can show me how a monopoly can arise in a market anarchy, he can talk about the problems of monopolizing systems. Otherwise, he should return his objection against the monopoly that he himself proposes to establish by the force of arms- his ideal minarchy.

His final point:

So once again I argue that anarcho-capitalism is an invadable system. If every member of an an-cap society valued classical rights, then yes, such a system would work. Now show me such a population. And show me how they’d respond to the invasion by not only power-mongers, but those who value not liberty but comfort.


Is not much better. I never stated that anarchy requires for all its members to value natural rights to "work" (insofar as "working" in an anarchy means that everyone is free to live the way they want). An anarchy can exist where 99% of people do not desire to be free, and they are free to assemble themselves in hierarchies as much as they want- but as long as some people do desire to be free, those people will be able to assemble and live their freedom relatively fully.

Given this fact, there is no point in invoking hypothetical "invasions". There is no such thing as an "invasion", for there is nothing to "invade". There is no "country" or "state" to take over. Another group of people who want to assemble together in a hierarchy is merely that- another group of people who want to live their lives differently. Can Nikhil tell us what is being invaded?

Would a society where 99% of people reject rights be free? Not really. But a minarchy in that same society would make people even less free. So once again his point should be returned to himself.

I especially like how he ends by repeating an outright call to violence:

Beyond that, we must occasionally push for a direct curtailment of liberty in order to protect that which remains.


Nikhil keeps making veiled threats of coercion against anyone who disagrees with his ideal system. Unlike Nikhil, I have no wish to force those people to live the way I want. I am not a violent or utopian person. I simply wish for all to be free to live the way they want.

Apparently, this principle is very hard to understand.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Why Anarchy is Most Conductive to Natural Rights part 2

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Nikhil Rao has posted his reply to my first entry. In it, he makes a lot of statements of this type:

But the problem with anarcho-capitalism is that somewhere on the road leading from theory to practice, we find ourselves amidst a truckload of half-penny nails.


I also think that such a system would last much longer than an an-cap system.


He makes these statements but provides very little argumentation or evidence to support them. Until he provides a support for his dismissal of market anarchy as impractical, when it is in fact eminently practical and requires merely people dealing with each other as social equals and not as pawns of the ruling class, I must dismiss his position as an emotional cop-out.

He did provide one cliché argument, which I will get to in a moment.

First, he did catch me on one little issue. I mentioned that in a market anarchy, codes would not be perfectly coincidental with natural rights, when I did in fact claim that I wanted a society without coercion at all. So he says:

So although he values a society without all the crimes he enumerated, he is unwilling to take the step to completely eliminate it.


And here he falls completely into the statist mindset. Yes, I do want to take the steps to eliminate it. But those steps do not include forcing others at gunpoint to agree with me! That would be the exact opposite of what I want, which is non-coercion. Nikhil Rao may think that his proposed system is enlightened and should be the ultimate goal of society, but he has no right whatsoever to impose it on others.

And that is the ultimate difference between him and me. He wants to impose a singular value system by force, and I don't- even if that value system happens to be superior in some respects.

Now to the argument he uses:

And an an-cap system (the basal system of all social animals) has no provisions to prevent the strong from turning it into a meritocracy, a plutocracy, a monarchy, or an oligarchy. Basically any kind of ‘archy’.


Ah, it's our old "market anarchy is inherently unstable" cliché. I never get tired of seeing that one.

Actually, there is only one process regulating a market anarchy, and it is that process that "prevents the strong from turning it into" anything: it's called consumer demand. I want to be free and I will not support anyone who tries to enslave me. If that means that I have to stop getting my services from the company with the best offer, then so be it- my freedom is more important than short-term financial gain. And anyone who did try to use violence to take over society would be met by retaliatory force, financed by all the people who agree with me that freedom is an important value (which are the vast majority).

The most eloquent proof of this, is that natural monopolies are virtually impossible, except when the state imposes one on society, or provides one itself.

As for his ideal system?

We formally and consciously agree to draw a line in the sand and not violate others’ negative rights, rather than merely letting market forces get us merely close to that point.


As he has rejected the market option, he obviously understands that some people are going to disagree with him. And if this is the case, one is led to the inevitable consequence that Nikhil supports some use of force to arrive to that goal. In short, he promotes coercion in order to promote the non-violation of individual rights. This is, I hope I don't have to point out, highly contradictory.

By the way, Nikhil? They tried your idea before. It was called the United States of America.

It didn't work.

Your turn. ;)

It's about your freedom, stupid

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Socialists and Communists adopt their anti-scientific belief system because they hate your freedom.

I know what you're thinking. "Franc, that's facking stupid", you're thinking. "No one hates anyone's freedom. That's just political propaganda." But I can prove this to you in one simple hypothetical.

Suppose that in Ancapistan (the name always given to a hypothetical market anarchic territory), most of the population voluntarily gives half of their income to a big organization of bureaucrats, who then redistributes that money according to whatever criteria the socialist desires. Furthermore, people only trade with others who follow a certain code of morality that the socialist agrees upon. In short, an ideal situation - a whole society that behaves, purely voluntarily, like he desires.

I guarantee you that if you ask socialists and communists what they would think about such a scenario, 99% of them will answer that they don't like it. Why? Because voluntary action is not an expression of "the will of the people", it's vile, disgusting "capitalism" - even if it goes exactly as they desire.

They have no desire to "help the poor" or "support the workers". As I pointed out in my previous entry, it is ridiculous to think that a group of thugs who threaten you with guns want to help you or support you. What they want is power over others, the power to enforce their ruling class values over you. They hate your freedom.

Incidentally, this proves that there is no such thing as communist anarchy or socialist anarchy. They require a monopoly of force, a state, to exist. As long as there is freedom to choose, you have markets, profits, choice, which are the antithesis of their belief.

If you look at the media, you see a lot of hatred for freedom. Specific kinds of freedom, sure, but freedom nevertheless. People don't want you to be able to choose for yourself, because they believe that you are evil and will only hurt their own interests. And they disguise it as concern for our "common interests", the "common good", the "common safety" and the "good of the country". No such bugaboo exists. But the effect of believing in those bugaboos - state slavery - is very real.

Although it is very widespread, it is ridiculously easy to refute the argument that we need a state because people are evil. If people are evil, then the people who compose the state are also evil. Giving these evil people control over all the guns is an extremely stupid idea, bound to disaster. A democratic system only makes the situation worse, since it inherently selects the most manipulative, duplicitous and lying people for powerful positions. And insofar as we know, there is no method by which the most meritorious people could ever be selected, even if we wanted this to happen. Only competition attracts merit, not monopolies.

People who believe in the tyranny of economic necessity see society as a game where there must be winners (the ruling class) and losers (the rest of us), because people are corrupt and must be forced to follow their belief system. The moral superiority of market anarchy lies in the fact that it is the only mode of social organization which fully supports the individual's freedom to fulfill his values in any way he chooses, while dealing with other people as equals. No ruling class, no imposition of force, no monopoly of law.

In the end, the issue is simple : who gets to choose how you live your life? A king (monarchy), a tyrant (dictatorship), a group of tyrants (Communism), state bureaucrats (police state, Greenie state), CEOs (State Capitalism), union leaders (syndicalism)?

Or YOU?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How to Save the Planet / Punish Them All

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I always enjoy a good laugh at the expense of the Greenie fanatics. In this spirit, "iowahawk" gives us the "ten things you can do to save the planet".

3. Crush a Third World economic development movement. One of the most pressing threats facing our environment is rising incomes in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Only a generation ago, these proud dark people were happily frolicking in the rain forest, foraging for organic foods amid the wonders of nature. Now, corrupted by wealth, they are demanding environmentally hazardous consumer goods like cars and air conditioning and malaria medicine. You can do your part to stop this dangerous consumer trend by supporting environmentally aware leaders like Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro to foster an economy of sustainable low-impact ecolabor camps.



Harry Goslin tells us to "Punish All the Damn Murderers from Top to Bottom":

All the head-shaking by criminal, rubber-stamping scumbags in Congress, trips and lectures by the Marine Corps commandant, and feigned remorse by the Idiot-in-Chief, should not be allowed to confuse the issue of ultimate responsibility for the massacre in Haditha. If those Marines are to be strung up for what they did in the execution of their orders while “serving” their country during war, then all those who had a hand in sending them to a U. S. government-created shithole and placing them in a position to make a life-changing decision for themselves and dozens of innocent people, should be strung up as well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Why Anarchy is Most Conductive to Natural Rights part 1

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On the issue of natural rights, I am not in good company. Most anarchists take quite a pragmatic stance, and deny that rights exist, or claim that rights contradict the absolute freedom of anarchy, or require a state in order to be effected (which is patent nonsense said by people who should know better). And minarchists claim that we need a state in order to protect such rights.

The latter position is taken by Nikhil Rao, of the Liberty Papers blog, in "Why Any Rights At All?". This entry was presented at the last Carnival of Liberty and was supposed to knock down market anarchy. The objectives of his entry are three-fold: first, to explain what negative rights are, second, to shed some light on self-order in other species, and third, to discuss the issue of human social organization and why anarchy is insufficient. I wouldn’t dare to touch him in ecology or biology, and since his discussion on the topic promotes self-order, I thankfully don’t have to object to it either. As a libertarian, I also do not object to his analysis of rights. I do, however, have some important points to raise about how he interprets anarchy.

For those of you who don't know me, I am coming from a market anarchist position, but I consider the term a tautology only needed because sadly most anarchists are quite contradictory in their positions. Anarchy implies a return to the natural state of man, which is, as history I think has well demonstrated, that of producer and trader, not of oppressor. I’m fairly certain Nikhil agrees with me that oppression necessarily involves inequality, in light of his entry. So this will be the basis for our discussion.

First, let me give the positive case by explaining why anarchy is the mode of social organization most conductive to the sustainment of natural rights. First of all, I must preface by saying that I see natural rights as a purely theoretical concept- everyone tries to fulfill his values, not a concept of rights. Nevertheless, rights give us a guideline by which we can evaluate how progressive a society is.

The most important difference between statism and market anarchy is this: in statism, a singular value system is imposed on the entirety of a society, but in a market anarchy, people are free to choose the value system they live under. What does the latter imply in terms of rights?

Suppose you are a customer under a market anarchic system. You don't want to be subject to any rules, so you decide to first purchase a service from an agency which offers a completely permissive code- murder is permitted, theft is permitted, fraud is permitted, no action is ever stopped by this agency, and all is left to the individual to cope with. People could still live, work and trade, but they would have considerable overhead in protecting themselves (as they have refused the possibility of an agency doing that for them). You don't want to have to do all this hard work!

But why do you perform this work, instead of letting everything stand as it is? Because of your value system. You value your life, your property and your ability to have relationships, hobbies, and all that sort of thing. You do not value getting assassinated, robbed, kidnapped. This is perfectly natural, and most people, uninfluenced by statism (which states that the individual must submit to threats of attacks against his person for the "common good"), would agree.

So our value system is a natural counter-balance to the desire to not be subject to rules. There is a point of equilibrium which should be attained by this process. Where is it? Well, it is definitely lower than the exploitation of statism, and definitely higher than a total lack of organized order (which I think is what Nikhil thinks of when he says "anarchy"). Does it fit perfectly in the peg hole of natural rights? I doubt it, but I assume it must be pretty close. The fact that systems of laws which arise from non-coercive, private systems of justice- such as Roman law and English common law- tend towards natural rights much more than our current laws should be encouraging, although they reflect the statist concepts existing at the time (immigration, the privileges of kings, and so on).

On the other hand, what does statism offer us? Democratic states only grow- for that is what their incentive system dictates. A democratic state is ensured to deviate farther and farther from natural rights. Monarchies grow at a much slower pace, because of the private ownership of government inherent in the monarchic system, and the subsequent desire in the king to keep his rule from interfering in his citizens' lives, in order to maximize his profit. Nevertheless, monarchies also offer us no tendancy towards natural rights.

Nikhil is a minarchist, and so would probably like me to believe that some form of minarchy can exhibit such a tendancy (not the US Constitution, I hope). I will let him express his position on that issue, but he would have to make his proposed concrete mode of organization clear so that we can examine its incentive system. I can guarantee you that it's not going to work in the long run, simply because all states expand in the long run. This is the simple inevitable consequence of monopolizing force.

Nikhil believes that "the market has limitations". What limitations would that be? So-called "market failures"? Even if I forget about my market anarchist position for a second, I still can't see how the market has limitations that the state can overcome. The state is merely an agency of redistribution of resources by force. In and of itself, it does no productive work. If something is possible under statism, then it is automatically possible under a market, through consumer demand. It may be less probable, sure- for example, I doubt very much that free individuals would surrender 50% of their wages to a vast bureaucratic monster, but that's a good thing- but it is still possible.

My general evaluation of his entry is that Nikhil apparently sees anarchy as nihilistic in nature. On the contrary, I would argue that the concept of an anarchic society is impregnated with value and meaning. This kind of discussion is rather similar to that of a religious believer arguing that the atheist can derive no value or meaning from life- while it seems to me that the truth is rather inverted here. Once the mind is freed from the bridle of sterile religious thought, it is then that value and meaning can really flourish. Statism is equally sterile in moral terms, as it is fundamentally an ideology geared towards a singular goal, the enforcement of the ruling class value system, and its means merely “might makes right” dressed up in a pretty costume.

To illustrate this point, he says:

Although the incidences of all of these would decrease relative to other animals in a human anarchistic society due to an increased fear (and cost) of retaliation, they would still exist. So what the anarchist asserts is that a basal level of murder, coercion, and theft is somehow ok. The depredations against others in an anarchy represent the background noise that proponents clearly ignore as mere stochastic effect.


This is, once again, to say that people do not have values, and that they need values to be enforced by the state. Yet this is contradictory in three different ways. First, if people do not have values, then how can the ruling class have values to enforce? Second, why would the ruling class care at all to enforce values which would suit its population? And third, even if it wanted to, how could it?

To address the point, it is simply not true that "the anarchist asserts (...) that a basal level of murder, coercion, and theft is somehow ok". I have met no real anarchist (by which I understand someone who actually wishes to eliminate all states, not simply replace them with syndicalist mini-states or communist utopias) who asserts such a thing, explicitly or implicitly. Let me state this clearly: a basal level of murder, coercion and theft is not okay. It is more conductive to my values to live in a society without any murder, coercion and theft, than it is to live in a society with any level of murder, coercion and theft. So I desire to live in such a society. This has nothing to do with rights per se, but rather with morality, two topics which are distinct but related.

I like the analogy of roads in this case. He thinks we have only two alternatives: a road system without any lights or signs (crime is permitted), or a road system where lights and signs are placed by divine fiat (state "protection"). Market anarchy says lights and signs are a private matter, and should be determined and coordinated by road owners, acting under consumer demand (market protection).

This single mistake nullifies any point Nikhil may have desired to make about anarchy and its relation to rights. An anarchy tends towards rights better than statist systems, not because the system is engineered to do so a priori, by divine fiat, but because humans are engineered to seek their self-interest. And we are self-interested in living in a prosperous and coercion-free society, giving us the incentive necessary to seek out what we see as an optimal balance between freedom and security, so to speak.

Nikhil then veers towards equality as a crucial concept:

But more importantly, the anarchist imputes too much to statement that ‘All men are created equal.’ (...) Should one strip away all of the material (environmental) differences, the genetic differences would still leave vasts gulfs between the most capable and the least. The anarchist’s basic argument of self order is dependent upon not only a level playing field but teams consisting of cloned players. (...) In such a system, where some are capable of greater acts of coercion than others, and where the threat of retaliation varies widely from almost none to almost infinite, a few will inevitably come to control the many.

(...)

The anarchist turns a blind eye to the difference between the perfect world of their assumptions and the real world. The classical liberal merely acknowledges them. He sees that for society to remain free from tyranny, individuals must treat each other as if they were equal.


He's got it all wrong- it is the statists who believe that all men are the same. How else could it possibly be reasonable to enforce a singular value system on an entire population? Statism is inherently utopian (i.e. a system that goes against human nature) because everyone necessarily has a different value system, just as everyone has different natural hair colour, height or intelligence (although of course the value system is open to a lot more volitional decisions than any of those properties). As an anarchist, I would be foolish to turn a blind eye to that fact- it is one of my main arguments!

We must treat each other as if we were equals, because that is the only way to neutralize the potentially oppressive effects of natural and social inequality. Very good! But statism, which creates a ruling class with considerably more power than the rest of society, cannot possibly be the implementation of this principle, even in a minarchic way. Only some form of anarchy can implement it.

I realize that this entry is running quite long, especially as I usually keep things short on this blog, so I'm going to stop here for now and let Nikhil give his side of the story. Of course he is free to answer in any way he wants, but I would like him to give us his ideal minarchic system, its incentives, and how it tends towards natural rights, so we can examine it and check his claims.

Check my other entries in this debate:
Why Anarchy is Most Conductive to Natural Rights part 2
Why Anarchy is Most Conductive to Natural Rights part 3
Why Market Anarchy is Most Conductive to Natural Rights, finis

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Questions from a libertarian war cheerleader

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From the wonderful site Burden of Proof, I got a link to a pro-war advocate asking ten questions to libertarians who oppose the war. Here are my answers. And before I start, I must preface, for those who come directly to this entry, that I am a market anarchist, or more generally, an anarchist of the libertarian kind.

1) When, if ever, is preemptive war (...) justified?


Never. War is organized murder, and therefore there cannot be such a thing as a "just war". The only reason we use the singular term "war", which legitimizes it in the eyes of the population, is because it is violence waged by a state (or against a state) instead of private individuals. In a neutral context we would call it a "gang war" or "organized murder".

Now, just to be clear, I am not completely against the idea that a group of individuals freely decide to foot the bill for an offensive action- because they are threatened by a group of individuals from a different piece of land, say, because of terrorism- and embark in such a campaign. I don't think it can be justified, but I don't want to remove people's freedom to embark in statist stupidities if they so desire, as long as they don't involve me. But there can be no allowance whatsoever for states doing the same thing.


2) When, if ever, is the United States justified in removing a foreign dictator from power?


First of all, the "United States" cannot act or be justified in anything, as it is an arbitrarily delimited piece of land. So the strictest answer to this is that the question is meaningless. But from now on I will assume that by "United States" he means "the people who compose the ruling class of the state that monopolizes the arbitrary territory called United States".

In that case, the answer is "never". The state is never justified in using people's stolen resources in order to interfere in the affairs of other states. All that states do is reinforce the status of their fellow states. And besides, we can already see how well this "helping other countries" justification works with the United States state- everything they touch turns to shit.


3) Do you agree with the position—recently quoted approvingly on this blog by Dr. Kuznicki—that Islamic terrorism is not a serious threat, but a hobgoblin used by the Bush Administration to increase its authority?


Islamic terrorism is a serious threat, but it's no threat compared to the power of my own government. And much of Islamic terrorism is due to American Imperialism. Of course it is used by the Bush Administration as a hobgoblin... what hyped-up threat have you ever heard from a politican that wasn't a hobgoblin to grab more power?


4) Precisely what (if anything) do you propose the United States do about the Iranian nuclear weapons program?


Strongly encourage it. Nuclear proliferation is the best antidote for war, and (with one small exception) no war has ever taken place involving two nuclear powers. Politicians are too scared to risk their own lives for a cause they don't really believe in ("liberating" other countries).


5) Do you believe that the United States should defend Israel, either militarily, by the sale of arms, or in other ways (please specify)?


No. I don't believe that any state should help defend any other. But that is what they do- for their legitimacy depends on it.


6) Can you name a specific case in which an American dissenter, not actually affiliated with a terrorist organization, has been jailed or otherwise deprived of civil rights under the PATRIOT Act?


Faruk Abdel-Muhti (Palestinian peace activist) and Ani Sonam (Tibetan nun) are two.


7) Do you believe that we ought to remove American troops from Iraq immediately, regardless of the consequences to Iraqis?


Yes, yes, yes. Never ask for more state intervention to solve a problem that it created in the first place. That is the very definition of insanity. The use of military force will never help anyone, not Iraqis, not Americans. Only freedom can help a society repair and grow, and it doesn't look like the Iraqis are gonna get that any time soon either way.


8) With regard to interrogation or incarceration: do you believe that infringements of religious sensitivities (e.g., mistreating the Koran) or personal sensibilities (e.g., making men wear women’s underwear on their heads) ought to be regarded as comparable with physical torture?


I do not believe that the state should engage in interrogation or incarceration, so I suppose the question does not in fact apply to my position. But if I had to answer hypothetically, my answer would be "yes", to the extent that religious believers are as much set in their aberrant beliefs as our pain receptors are about transmitting pain.


9) What, if any, legal consequences do you believe flow from a declaration of war?


Whoever issues such a declaration, and actually possesses the power to implement it, should be considered legally fair game for murder. They have issued a credible threat against people's lives, and are a clear danger to the rights of their entire population. As individuals who desire to live in peace, we should not allow such threats to remain unpunished in any sane society based on trust.

I certainly wouldn't be the one who would try to kill him, but I wouldn't demand any penalty against anyone who did.


10) Do you believe that the Bush Administration purposely manipulated intelligence information in order to persuade the Congress to authorize military intervention in Iraq?


If it was a manipulation, it was very flimzy.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Is the FDA finished? / Things they don't teach you in high school

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In an earlier post, I expressed hope that the murderous statist FDA would one day be toppled. A former vice-president of Pfizer says he expects the FDA will be finished soon:

And when the FDA is caught red handed making decisions that have nothing to do with science, and everything to do with politics and religion, the trust in the FDA effectively ends.

The FDA, as we know it, is finished, and here's why:

It was just revealed that two key Food and Drug Administration officials recently testified that former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford took them out of the agency's normal drug approval process, in order for him to personally block over-the-counter sales of an important early pregnancy contraceptive or "morning-after pill."
(...)
And who's behind this decision? The usual suspects. Conservative groups and religious fundamentalists have lobbied the FDA and the White House against nonprescription Plan B sales.



Yet another little item you haven't learned in school or hear about in the media : seat belt laws are based on false science. Two empirical studies found higher death rates, especially for pedestrians, after seat belt laws are passed, and governments use extrapolations from crash tests (which, conveniently, do not take into account the risk of accidents OR pedestrial fatalities) in order to cook up their numbers.

[Professor John Adams'] conclusion was that in the eighteen countries surveyed, accounting for approximately 80% of the world's motoring, those countries with seat belt laws had fared no better, and in some cases (e.g. Sweden, Ireland and New Zealand) significantly worse than those without. In particular, those outside cars (pedestrians and cyclists) had experienced significant increases in fatalities involving cars.
(...)
The author of the Isles report was alarmed to find that in Europe the predominant effect of seat belt legislation was of increased numbers of injuries to non-car users. The author predicted that in the UK, deaths to other road users would rise by approximately 150 per year in the event of compulsory seat belt wearing legislation. In terms of injuries to other road users the prediction was for a 11% increase in pedestrian injuries with injuries to other road users climbing by 12 to 13% (numerically 7,000 and 36,000 respectively).
(...)
The year of the law saw increases in deaths to pedestrians of 135 per year and of deaths to cyclists of 40 per year, a 75 year high and somewhat in excess of Isles' predictions. There was a reduction in driver fatalities and an increase in fatalities of rear passnegers (not covered by the law). A subsequent study of 19,000 cyclist and 72,000 pedestrian casualties seen at the time suggests that seat belt wearing drivers were 11-13% more likely to injure pedestrians and 7-8% more likely to injure cyclists.


Who loses once again? Yes, everyone in unison... GOVERNMENT WINS, WE LOSE! Especially if, like me, you don't have a car. Of course, government workers and workers at big corporations don't walk their way to work now don't they?

Friday, June 9, 2006

Somali freedom defeated

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The defeat we had been waiting for has arrived. The anarchy in Somalia is over. Thanks to the US government's reckless foreign policy (attacking Somalia without success, applying pressure for a new state, and recently giving financial backing to some faction leaders to fight others, provoking the Islamic faction), good has once again lost in the world. All the economic and technological progress that the Somalis have done in the past 16 years without a state will mean nothing in the end.

The great anarchist experiment in uplifting the third-world from poverty will be nothing more than yet another footnote on the path of the American Empire steamroller.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Are libertarians against everything?

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A common criticism of libertarianism is that we are intractable - that indeed, we simply don't like any use of political power at all, that we are unyielding, and that we simply won't allow people their own comfort, security nets, or what have you.

To a certain extent, this criticism is due to the political presence of libertarianism. When engaging on the public arena, libertarians tend to have to play a retreating battle, shouting briefly to protest a new law, then having to fight against the law that comes after that one. As the state constantly grows, very few victories can be won by a libertarian party.

Of course, the idea of a libertarian political party is absurd and laughable. Then again, so is the idea of a federal separatist party, and we have that too. Absurdity apparently does not prevent people from forming political parties - but why should it? Pretty much all politicians (there are exceptions that prove the rule) are clowns and the butt of ridicule already, so we shouldn't expect little incongruities like that stop them.

Should this mean that libertarians must always oppose, oppose, oppose? Not at all. In theory, I am not socially opposed to anything. I just don't want to participate in it. I believe that you should be free to join unions, have a minimum wage, ban guns amongst yourselves, prevent each other from having abortions or smoking pot, have social security, put a fucking hundred foot Ten Commandments monument on your lawn (which breaks one of the commandments anyway, but I suppose that's details to a fundie), or even start another holy war.

Statists, on the other hand, believe that I should be forced to finance or obey their insanities at the point of a gun. They believe that no one should have a different way of life from what they feel is best for society.

The real opposers, therefore, are the statists. They are the ones who want to suppress all other ways of life. I want to suppress none - in fact, I think society would be better off if everyone was free to live any way they want, even if they are so insane that they start a state amongst themselves.

In that regards, the difference between statists and anarchists is very much like the difference between Christians and atheists. Christians seek to impose a way of life on others as part of their worldview. It is part and parcel of being a Christian that one must attack other people's choices. Atheists don't mind if someone wants to be a Christian, as long as it is a personal, moral choice, and not the product of childhood brainwashing or social pressure.

We understand that some people are not strong enough to live in reality. We're not utopians. Neither are anarchists utopians. Utopian means a system that seeks to change human nature or clashes against it. Market anarchy is not utopian, since we don't want to change people - on the contrary, we take human nature as an inescapable premise. People will always have different value systems. That is a fact. Market anarchy permits them to express those value systems. It is statism, with its attempts to impose a singular ruling class value system at the point of a gun, which is utopian.

Take the example of unions. Are unions useful and progressive? You bet your ass they are. Should unions be able to use the power of the state to force everyone in a workplace to join them? No way. That's enslavement to other people's choices - and democratic choices to boot! Democracy is evil, and I wouldn't want to join any union which used a democratic process to take important decisions about my livelihood, let alone be forced to join it. Do I think other people should be able to join one if they want? Sure. Might I join a union which didn't use force to get its members, and which didn't use democracy for decision-making? Definitely.

Am I against unions? No. I am against the state. I want those groups of thugs and murderers to be judged for their crimes and recognized as the grand fraud that they are. When this is done, you can mushroom all the fucking unions you want - you can litter the whole landscape with unions if that's what you want. But leave the people who disagree with you alone, or deal with us like adults, not like children who need to be punished for talking back to their mother.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

No more statist comments

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All statist comments from now on will be filtered. This is a market anarchist blog. It's not made for dialogue with the opposition, to accomodate trolls, or whatever you think it's for. This blog exists for the sole purpose of technical discussions of political theory from a market anarchist perspective. If you don't like that, go to whatever blogs you read and stop annoying me.

Why would anyone troll a blog about political theory anyway? Don't you children have better hobbies nowadays? Can't you go skateboard or have sex or something?

Dontregulate.org / The Crucial Gap

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The Flash animation at Dontregulate.org is a great explanation of the "Net Neutrality" scam. And if you damn liberals want to complain about that site, yes, I know they are financed by these people and those people, and so on. Everyone is financed by someone. The only difference is, they make sense and you don't.


On LewRockwell.com, Gene Callahan discusses "The Most Crucial Gap in Politics", on why minarchists are not like anarchists at all :

Picture yourself wandering into a hall within which a large, all-male crowd has assembled, each man present anxious to argue his position on the subject of wife beating. Some attendees defend their right to beat their spouse whenever she has been annoying. Others regard that stance as too permissive, asserting that wives should only be assaulted over more important matters such as, for example, family finances. Yet a third faction holds that spousal abuse is only justified in the most vital cases and only if no less onerous means can guarantee the desirable outcome: for instance, when one’s wife will not contribute as much as one believes she ought to the family’s security.

You find the proceedings quite disturbing, as you consider assaulting any other person to be immoral, even if it appears to be the only way to achieve some important and otherwise desirable end. Violence directed at another, you hold, is only just in self-defense, and then only to the extent necessary to thwart one’s assailant.

Imagine your surprise if the members of the group that advocates wife beating only in extreme circumstances declares that they are your natural allies, proclaiming that the difference between your position and theirs is a trifling matter when contrasted with the large gap separating the minimalist beaters from those more enthusiastic about the practice.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Hey, "Michael Badnarik"

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To the ridiculously ineffective troll called "Michael Badnarik":

I know where you come from.

Go cry to your liberal friends. I could parody a liberal far better than you parody me. Tell them to send a better troll next time, jackass.

UPDATE : Now he's claiming that this post is a "meltdown". What a damn sissy. Well, anything to claim victory, I guess - even when you get your ass kicked for not even being a good troll.

The properties of propaganda part 2

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There are two ways to accomplish this, subsidies and force. The state may subsidize artists who produce acceptable artworks (which basically amounts to subcontracting propaganda), or it may threaten to revoke a licence to any artist who does not follow these same guidelines (licences are the easiest way to implement threat-based control). The example of artists also illustrates that, while propaganda starts from the ruling class, it is not exclusively the work of the ruling class. So we cannot let our guard down on the basis of a specific message being delivered by a private organization or corporation.

Look at the most popular television shows today, that glorify policemen and politicians, and movies that glorify war. These are the biggest agents of force. The biggest agents of progress - private industry and science - are villified, or at best seen as tools for a greater goal. Even nature shows nowadays can't show us animals without giving us a broadside of environmentalist propaganda.

The second property of propaganda is that its role is not to convince you to adopt something by appealing to your value system (as advertisement does), but rather to align your value system with that of the ruling class. This implies a marginalization of self-interest, individualism, and rationality.

In this regard we can compare political propaganda to religious doctrines. Both appeal to man's desire to conform and his risk-aversion. Both try to use this leverage to get him to deny his own values and inherent compassion in favour of the values of his rulers. Propaganda would be worthless without the mental acceptance of its targets, as people simply do not accept lies without question. Most of us are indoctrined from early childhood to believe in God and the state, and thus are naturally brainwashed to accept propaganda lies.

One aspect which is not touched by the previous definitions is that of the argument from morality. Propaganda is especially suited for a duplicitous use of morality, because after all propaganda aims to change one's personal morality. Of course, any propaganda has to deliberately ignore the coercive principles underpinning any statist moral argument, because that would expose it as fraudulent.

For example, a proponent of socialized medicine may argue that chaining medicine to the apparatus of government would be better for the least fortunate; that it exemplifies the principles of equality and security; that health care is a right. These arguments are all complete lies, but the biggest lie of all is the omission of how all of this is supposed to be accomplished in the first place. Are all the needed resources going to materialize from thin air ? Of course not. They will come at the point of a gun. That, and the fact that no government program ever works, is the only certainty in political affairs.

In fact, the argument from morality has been so monopolized by propaganda that, any time you hear someone use moral terms like "freedom", "values", "equality" or "ethics", you can be almost certain that they are lying (unless, of course, they are individualists, but that is rare in itself). This is why there is the utmost need of propaganda in times of war - war is in itself such a morally atrocious concept that it takes a lot of propaganda to dress it up in jingoistic language and make it look good. Propaganda seems to always be applied to support the most atrocious and absurd amongst the collectivist beliefs necessary to the state - war, the police monopoly, politico-science scares (including the most murderous organization in the United States, the FDA), and of course the most absurd of them all, democracy.

Can we now define propaganda from a market anarchist perspective ? I think so. Bytwerk's definition is succinct, but I would amend it to read : the systematic attempt to persuade a public to accept the value system of the ruling class through psychological manipulation, especially fallacious arguments from morality, with the goal of legitimizing the activities of the state. The ultimate goal of propaganda is to facilitate exploitation. A government without propaganda is generally hard to maintain, as free individuals will not tend to attribute legitimacy to an organized band of thieves. It is solely because of propaganda that democratic governments have been able to attain their full potential of exploitation.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Using "the poor" as a moral totem

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After I expressed my opposition to Net Socialism:

http://uberkuh.com/node/623

Hehe, it's interesting that while Francois claims to be an anarchist I can predict his opinions on issues solely by asking myself "What would benefit the rich the most?"

He would like the government to be abolished so that the ruling power would exclusively be wealthy corporations who wouldn't have to worry about the possibility of the people getting some influence in their own lives.


And here we have one of the most widespread and ridiculous moral arguments in favour of the existence of the state - in fact, three related arguments.

1. Without the state, "the rich" would take over.
2. We need the state because the state protects "the poor" against "the rich".
3. In a market anarchy, we would be ruled by giant corporations.

The first argument is ridiculously easy to disprove : most successful politicians were professionals or businessmen of one kind or another. "The rich" have already taken over. And those who are not politicians have the loudest voice in the democratic system, and they get to exert domination indirectly through the law, while suffering no consequence to themselves. The state can pass corporatist laws, create corporate monopolies and trusts all it wants, and people like the one quoted above don't complain - in fact, they see this as a great achievement. But heavens forbid that we have codes of law that are actually accountable to the people!

In a democracy, the poor do not have a voice, apart from a rudimentary sense of decency from the masses. The people who have the loudest voices are those who can support the state - through ideas (demagogues, artists, politico-scientists, pseudo-intellectuals) and through money. Democracy maintains a gigantic ruling class of exploiters. CEOs of big companies are right up there with them, and "the poor" are part of the group that always loses - no matter what is decided. No matter what is decided, we, the "common people", those who are not in the ruling class, ALWAYS LOSE (and if you are in the ruling class, why the fuck are you reading this blog?). There are so few exceptions to this rule that it might as well be written in gold.

This brings another issue to mind. This guy believes that, if left to their own devices, people would trade with big megacorps instead of smaller corporations to get their services. And obviously he thinks that is a very bad thing. If that's true, then why does he expect it to happen anyway? Either he is the only moral person on Earth, which is rather laughable, or other people can make the conscious decision of trading with "the rich" - because they offer better services, because their prices are lower, or for whatever reason - and his whining is pointless.

The second kind of argument is even more ridiculous. I say it is ridiculous because anyone with any moral feeling at all can see that this cannot be the case at all. Someone who threatens others at the point of a gun, with no provocation whatsoever, has no intention of helping people. He is a criminal, who refuses to use reason when dealing with others and thus uses the power trip of the gun to get his will done. The same is true for the ruling class - be it a politician in his ivory tower voting more freedom away, or a cop working the streets looking for hookers and drug dealers. They are all morally corrupt, and have no real intention of helping anyone, except incidentally, when throwing money at a problem can get them more votes.

But apart from this fundamental issue, there is also the problem that states, in fact, do not help the poor. No measure has ever been established that could help the problem of poverty. From foreign aid programs that fatten dictators' wallets, to welfare systems that prevent savings and keep people entrapped, to minimum wage laws that keep the unemployed in poverty, states uniformly attack, first and foremost, the least fortunate.

The third argument is more subtle, but can be broken down to its basic meaning. What it boils down to is, who gets to dictate how you live your life? You, or someone else? In a market anarchy, the answer is "me". If I have the freedom to trade with anyone I want, including refusing to trade, how can a corporation "rule" me? The idea that corporations in a free market are my rulers is a complete ignorance of what a free market is. In a free market, I am free to trade with anyone I desire, big or small. If there is a demand for smaller agencies, then these agencies will be profitable. If people really preferred mom and pop stores over Wal-Mart, then they would survive. But they simply cannot trade enough value to the individual to be accepted.

Only states can force me to accept their rule, because states, as monopolies of force, are not accountable to anyone except their leaders' own basic sense of decency. But one person cannot rule over me, and not even corporations - which are after all just a group of people united by cooperation - because we acknowledge in a free society that such people are criminals, and must be dealt accordingly. Thus, corporatism has no place in a market anarchy. If a "corporation" tries to use violence to crush its competition or force people to buy its products, the people coerced will seek justice against the responsible individuals.

The root cause of these errors is the belief that power is a constant in human relations, and that we are simply arguing over who gets to hold that power. This is a statist mode of reasoning, made to marginalize all criticism of the state as a human construct. They desperately want you totake the state as a given, because their legitimacy depends on it, and without legitimacy - without the important-sounding names and the uniforms and the rituals - it is quite easy to realize that they are nothing more than a parasitical gang of thugs. And class warfare is just a smokescreen designed to hide that fact. Right or left, liberal or conservative - their leaders all partake of the benefits of the monopoly of force.

As long as there is a ruling class, as long as there is a concentration of power that exists for powerful people to exploit, there will be class warfare and social warfare. People like the anonymous coward quoted above think that politicians, financed by big corporations and activist organizations, who can raise as much money and manpower as they want, even send people to be killed in foreign countries, with little impunity (as long as they can build a propaganda campaign the months before), are somehow interested in the well-being of people who can contribute absolutely nothing to their success, apart from a captive audience.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition of a "sucker".