Tuesday, May 29, 2007

An Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan

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Dear Ms. Sheehan,

You have recently written an entry in your diary which, if you'll pardon me the metaphor, hands in your resignation to the anti-war movement. Even though I have not gone through the same experiences, I strongly sympathize with everything you say in it, and I think I may help clarify some things you might not yet be aware of.

Your thoughtful disillusionment with left-wing and right-wing politics echoes the feeling that other reasonable people, who desire change for the better but realize that politics is always the same song-and-dance, are eventually faced with. You are far from being alone.

To me, the most poignant passage in your entry is this:

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think.

You, and at least three thousand other mothers of soldiers, as well as tens of thousands of Iraqi mothers, are justified in demanding justice. But such justice will never be granted you by the government, whether it be Republican or Democrat.

Sending young men to their deaths for the interests of the ruling class is a phenomena that has existed for as long as government has existed as a concept. Every empire, from the Roman Empire to the British Empire to the current "America, World Police," has had its millions of youths willing to spill their own blood for their "homeland," indoctrinated in believing in their "homeland" from day one.

You probably understand the impossibility of getting justice for the war through politics by now. Neither will the end of these unjust wars be granted, even when the Iraq War itself eventually ends. The fact of the matter is this:

Political means cannot give lasting freedom. All that can be achieved by political means is the sustenance of political means (in short: politics can only create more politics).

I do not blame you from not knowing this from the onset, as most people have been indoctrinated into believing that the only avenue for change is to "work within the system." I also used to believe in "working the system." However, no successful ideology or movement has ever achieved any lasting freedom through doing so, because the ruling class is always in control.

You say you want "peace with justice." This is a laudable goal, and I agree with you. In your tumultuous association with the peace movement, have you found anyone who was actually willing to understand the root causes of war, and how to eradicate them? Or did you only find people willing to agitate against war, but with no binding force or principle?

I am sure you have thought about the causes of war. I can't vouch for your reflexions on the topic. I will tell you what I know. There are many factors that cause war, and most of these are outside anyone's reach. But I can point to one necessary and crucial cause that we can change: government power. And who says government, says taxation.

The 20th Century proved, if you were paying any attention, that taxation is the great enemy of civilization. How do you think Hitler paid for that army? With voluntary contributions? How did Stalin pay for the Gulag Archipelago? With baked goods sales?
James Ostrowski

Everyone is forced to comply and finance these wars, whether they like them or not, by taxation. By monopolizing the resources in a society, government has the power of waging war on a grand scale, in the name of interests which otherwise would not waste the money needed for such actions. Government has the power of luring our youth with free educations in order to do its bidding, or outright enslave them for a period of time (through the draft).

Activists love the government because they want to manipulate its power to their advantage. So it is a very hard fact to face for peace activists, but an inescapable fact, that government is necessary for large-scale war. Anyone who desires peace as a primary value of society must realize that lasting peace can only be achieved if there is no government.

In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.
Leo Tolstoy (Christian Anarchist)

As a Market Anarchist, I believe that government, as the monopoly on law and force in a society, exploits people's resources, children and moral integrity in the name of wars that only benefit itself and its powerful friends. I also believe that the only way to prevent governance abuse is to have a free competition of governance, on the market.

Right now, those who govern us are held accountable to no one. They will never be held accountable unless they have equally powerful competitors able to use the law to get recourse for the victims. They will never be held accountable until we can choose not support them, and support someone else instead, leaving us free to live our lives the way we intend.

It would be absurd for anyone to cooperate with their enemies (the ruling class) in order to try to achieve change! And yet that is what most peace activists do. The ideology of peace, like any other ideology or movement, can only be achieved by disengagement and principled resistance.

All successful improvements in man's freedom and understanding have been brought about by such means. No positive movement in history has ever succeeded by any other means. And disengagement and principled resistance against government and its criminal monopoly is what we advocate.

You may think that the concepts we advocate sound radical. However, I truly believe they are the only solution to the problem of war. Historically, Market Anarchist societies did not wage war on other societies, simply because war is too costly to wage if you have to bear the cost yourself, and you can't steal from others or enslave them in order to wage wars for you. Until we understand that having a monopoly of force able to finance war by stealing from our own pockets and enslaving our children is a bad idea, we will never solve the problem of war.

I hope I have been able to clarify some things for you, and perhaps spark some interest in our growing movement. Either way, good luck to you in your future endeavors.

Francois Tremblay


Thursday, May 24, 2007

My newest article on STR gets noted

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My newest article for Strike the Root, "Reject the 'Anarchist' Voters," has been noted in two places so far:

* Brad Spangler just wrote a positive entry about it.

* It is currently on the front page of the International Society for Individual Liberty, in the Commentary sidebar.

Seems like controversy does indeed sell!

Who are the War Profiteers?

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J-Walk reports on the identity of the war profiteers.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Global Warming advice

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First, here's Alexander Cockburn:

It's a notorious inconvenience for the Greenhousers that data also show CO2 concentrations from the Eocene period, 20 million years before Henry Ford trundled out his first Model T, 300 to 400 percent higher than current concentrations. The Greenhousers deal with other difficulties, like the medieval warming period's higher-than-today temperatures, by straightforward chicanery, misrepresenting tree ring data (themselves an unreliable guide) and claiming the warming was a local European affair.

We're warmer now because today's world is in the thaw following the recent ice age. Ice ages correlate with changes in the solar heat we receive, all due to predictable changes in the Earth's elliptical orbit round the sun and in the Earth's tilt. As Hertzberg explains, the clinical heat effect of all of these variables was worked out in great detail between 1915 and 1940 by Milutin Milankovitch, a giant of twentieth-century astrophysics. In past post-glacial cycles, as now, the Earth's orbit and tilt give us more and longer summer days between the equinoxes.

And Robert Higgs:

When your research implies a “need” for drastic government action to avert a looming disaster or to allay some dire existing problem, government bureaucrats and legislators (can you say “earmarks”?) are more likely to approve it. If the managers at the NSF, NIH, and other government funding agencies gave great amounts of money to scientists whose research implies that no disaster looms or no dire problem now exists or even that although a problem exists, no currently feasible government policy can do anything to solve it without creating greater problems in the process, members of Congress would be much less inclined to throw money at the agency, with all the consequences that an appropriations cutback implies for bureaucratic thriving. No one has to explain all these things to the parties involved; they are not idiots, and they understand how the wheels are greased in their tight little worlds.

Finally, we need to develop a much keener sense of what a scientist is qualified to talk about and what he is not qualified to talk about. Climatologists, for example, are qualified to talk about the science of climatology (though subject to all the intrusions upon pure science I have already mentioned). They are not qualified to say, however, that “we must act now” by imposing government “solutions” of some imagined sort. They are not professionally knowledgeable about what degree of risk is better or worse for people to take; only the individuals who bear the risk can make that decision, because it’s a matter of personal preference, not a matter of science. Climatologists know nothing about cost/benefit cosiderations; indeed, most mainstream economists themselves are fundamentally misguided about such matters (adopting, for example, procedures and assumptions about the aggregation of individual valuations that lack a sound scientific basis).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

One intelligent person and one idiot.

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Compare and contrast...

THE IDIOT- Amy Barath
The Political Importance of Fearing God

We fear God so that we may not fear men. This fear allows us to discern between what is right and what is wrong. The fear of God is directly responsible for the protection of those weakest and most vulnerable in our society. In America, the fear of God instilled into our Constitution has been the seedling which has produced such protections as minority rights, women's rights, worker's rights and the spawning of organizations such as the ASPCA, Crime Victim's Board and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Rules, boundaries, limitations and consequences. Whether raising a child, training an animal or forming a government it is the fear of God which dictates the way those most helpless and weakest in our society will be treated. It is the fear of God which prevents us from dousing fellow citizens with kerosene and lighting them ablaze. It is the fear of God which prevents us from shooting a disabled man in his wheelchair and then pushing him in to the sea. It is the fear of God which commands us to choose right over wrong.

THE INTELLIGENT- Sheldon Richman
In the Freelance Nuclear Age, Government Is a Liability

Conservatives and even many libertarians argue that these dangerous times demonstrate more than ever the need for strong central government, especially a presidency unburdened in foreign policy by meddlesome courts and Congress. But in fact the opposite is the case. Government can’t protect us. It is inept. It is corrupt. And what’s more, its agenda ranks the safety of the American people far down the list of priorities. If safety were a priority, the U.S. government would not have spent the last several decades meddling in other people’s conflicts and acquiring assorted enemies, some of whom are willing to kill American civilians on American soil to get even with “their” government’s often brutal intervention.

These are indeed dangerous times. But if the state can’t protect us, what are we to do?

It’s time to think about getting rid of the state. It is an albatross sucking up our wealth like a vacuum cleaner while leaving us vulnerable to those who wish to harm us. Ending the U.S. policy of foreign intervention would go a long way toward reducing the threat. But it might not reduce it all the way. Years of U.S. coercive interference in the affairs of other people have left many grudges that may not disappear with a change in policy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why understanding economics is hard / I'm Doing My Inconsequential Part For The Environment

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From the Philadelphia Inquirer: Revealed: Why understanding economics is hard

But what is particularly interesting is the role of market pricing, which Fiske speculates might have been the last to evolve in our prehistoric ancestors' brains.

It makes sense. For hunter-gatherers in small bands, sharing, matching and ranking were probably as fundamental to survival as eating and breeding. But market pricing involves complex choices based on mathematical ratios.

"It's the difference between addition and subtraction on one hand, multiplication and division on the other," Fiske says.

Commerce and global trade, of course, require a finely honed version of the market-pricing model. But if humans developed this model relatively late, it might well be less than universal, even today.

In other words, to have an intuitive grasp of economics, you might just need to take a step or two up the evolutionary ladder.

From The Onion: I'm Doing My Inconsequential Part For The Environment

Every day, without fail, I meticulously organize my recyclables into five distinct categories, thereby subtracting an eyedropper's worth of garbage from the countless tons of waste that ferment in our landfills. It only takes a few extra minutes, but just think of the impact it totally lacks. I also refuse to use anything but "Earth-friendly" paper products—some of which contain up to 10 percent recycled materials. For me, it's worth shouldering the extra cost, but, unfortunately, only a scant few of us bother to do the same. And growing some of my own organic vegetables in my backyard garden also, to my immense gratification, reduces the use of toxic chemical-based pesticides and herbicides present in corporate farming techniques by as much as 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Top Censored Stories / Progress and Order

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The top 25 censored stories of 2006:

#1 Bush Administration Moves to Eliminate Open Government
#2 Media Coverage Fails on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Death
#3 Another Year of Distorted Election Coverage
#4 Surveillance Society Quietly Moves In
#5 U.S. Uses Tsunami to Military Advantage in Southeast Asia
#6 The Real Oil for Food Scam
#7 Journalists Face Unprecedented Dangers to Life and Livelihood
#8 Iraqi Farmers Threatened By Bremer’s Mandates
#9 Iran’s New Oil Trade System Challenges U.S. Currency
#10 Mountaintop Removal Threatens Ecosystem and Economy
#11 Universal Mental Screening Program Usurps Parental Rights
#12 Military in Iraq Contracts Human Rights Violators
#13 Rich Countries Fail to Live up to Global Pledges
#14 Corporations Win Big on Tort Reform, Justice Suffers
#15 Conservative Plan to Override Academic Freedom in the Classroom
#16 U.S. Plans for Hemispheric Integration Include Canada
#17 U.S. Uses South American Military Bases to Expand Control of the Region
#18 Little Known Stock Fraud Could Weaken U.S. Economy
#19 Child Wards of the State Used in AIDS Experiments
#20 American Indians Sue for Resources; Compensation Provided to Others
#21 New Immigration Plan Favors Business Over People
#22 Nanotechnology Offers Exciting Possibilities But Health Effects Need Scrutiny
#23 Plight of Palestinian Child Detainees Highlights Global Problem
#24 Ethiopian Indigenous Victims of Corporate and Government Resource Aspirations
#25 Homeland Security Was Designed to Fail

Marginal Revolution tells us about a great instance of "law and order" in a statist "country":

Vigilante militias are alleged to have taken over Rio de Janeiro slums, ruling as feudal lords and imposing taxes, as a result of the collapse of legal policing in these areas.

The vigilante militias are made up of off-duty police officers and former police officers. They work to expel drug traffickers and other criminals from favelas, known as Brazil's poorest and roughest neighborhoods, to set up protection rackets themselves.

According to Rio De Janeiro's public security department, 92 favelas are now controlled by militias, up from 42 in April 2005. They take over a new neighborhood at an average of 12 days.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Your Tax Dollars at Work

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Maybe I should become a police detective after all:

One Seattle cop reported that he grabbed an exotic dancer's breasts several times as she gyrated in his lap.

Another undid his belt for the dancer grinding against him -- allowing her to slide her hand into his pants.

A third paid $100 to a stripper for four lap dances in a row as he tested whether she'd offer sex for money (she didn't).

The three Seattle cops were part of a strip-club sting operation aimed at catching dancers who cross the line. But did the officers themselves violate department rules, or the law?

The Police Department's vice unit regularly inspects the city's four strip clubs. The unit occasionally sends in officers who, posing as customers, pay for private dances to check for law violations.


In a dozen of the 30 reports reviewed by the P-I, officers described how they allowed their hands to be placed on the dancers' breasts or buttocks. In 11 reports, dancers fondled the officers' genitals through their clothing while performing.

In seven cases, at least two officers bought lap dances from the same woman on the same night.

It's impossible to say how many lap dances individual officers have purchased because their names are redacted from their reports to protect their identities. In 2005, a Seattle police detective said he had purchased 300 lap dances during a five-year tenure in vice in a report to the City Council on strip-club enforcement.


One officer, who Sano said was inexperienced in undercover work, said in his report that he grabbed one dancer's breasts several times. With another dancer, he wrote in his report, "I grabbed her buttocks with both hands and kept them there throughout the dance."

A second officer, also not a regular vice cop, said he undid his belt, enabling the dancer to unzip his pants and rub his genitals through his underwear. She then grabbed his penis under his shorts before he could stop her hand, according to his report.

Unsurprisingly, the department's Assistant Chief, Nick Metz, defended the officers' actions:

"Honestly, I don't feel that there were any inappropriate actions on the officers' parts," Metz said. "They were forthcoming about what they were doing and very detailed in their descriptions ... and I certainly don't feel the officers tried to hide anything," he said.

So as long as the cops list in their reports how much titty they grabbed, how many jerk-offs they received, and how many orifices they penetrated with their penises, everything is kosher.

I, for one, can now sleep much safer at night knowing that my money is being used to buy lap dances for cops in the hopes of them being solicited for further sexual favors.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Stockholm Syndrome and the State

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Angelo Mike, one of the excellent writers at Strike the Root, points out how complacent we have become towards State threats and extortion. Why do people called to "juries," against their will, do not even complain?

Upon greeting our captors in the jury conference room--Edward and Rose, I believe--a spell immediately came over everyone. They talked openly to the bureaucrats, telling them about their favorite sports teams and their families, and joking about trying to get out of jury duty.

Do these people have any idea who they’re talking to? These people are threatening to fine us $100, imprison us for three days, or both, if we didn’t show up to that meeting. Is this not a display of Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage starts to identify with their captor and feel affection for them?

Are these people idiots or insane? And when we were herded into a courtroom in which we were informed that we’d be chosen to hear a case of a doctor who was prescribing his patients pain killers (the state wants a monopoly on pain), why were these people sheepishly giving excuses as to why it might not be expedient to serve on a jury for a case that was expected to last three to four weeks?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The "United States of America" is a murderous fraud

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If you're on Facebook, join my newest group, The "United States of America" is a murderous fraud. I'm taking this to the top!

The "United States of America" is founded on wars which cost more than 3/4 of a million innocent dead, and on a document which binds no one but a bunch of rich white landowners long dead. We have the right, given by natural law or God (depending on your position on the subject), to live free from governments imposed by invalid contracts, force and murder.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What the hell?

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What the hell is going on? Are they just dropping the whole pretense and just outright giving money to good State drones now?

Seeking new solutions to New York’s vexingly high poverty rates, the city is moving ahead with an ambitious experiment that will pay poor families up to $5,000 a year to meet goals like attending parent-teacher conferences, going for a medical checkup or holding down a full-time job, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday.

Under the program, which is based on a similar effort in Mexico, parents would receive payments every two months for family members meeting any of a series of criteria. The payments could range from $25 for exemplary attendance in elementary school to $300 for a high score on an important exam, city officials said.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The State v the market

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Why won't the State do something about gas prices, you ask? But they are! They are keeping them up!

A service station that offered discounted gas to senior citizens and people supporting youth sports has been ordered by the state to raise its prices.

Center City BP owner Raj Bhandari has been offering senior citizens a 2 cent per gallon price break and discount cards that let sports boosters pay 3 cents less per gallon.

But the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says those deals violate Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act, which requires stations to sell gas for about 9.2 percent more than the wholesale price.

Bhandari said he received a letter from the state auditor last month saying the state would sue him if he did not raise his prices. The state could penalize him for each discounted gallon he sold, with the fine determined by a judge.

Think you can resell used CDs? If you own a store, you better not.

In Florida, the new legislation requires all stores buying second-hand merchandise for resale to apply for a permit, would be required to thumb-print CD sellers and get a copy of their state-issued identity documents, such as a driver's license. Furthermore, stores could only issue store credit -- not pay cash -- in exchange for traded CDs, and then would be required to hold them for a 30-day period, before re-selling them.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Greenie fanatics and hurtful world conglomerates

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Another entry in the file of "Greenie fanatics who'd cheer if you died":

We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion... We need to stop burning fossil fuels and utilize only wind, water, and solar power with all generation of power coming from individual or small community units like windmills, waterwheels, and solar panels. Sea transportation should be by sail... Air transportation should be by solar powered blimps when air transportation is necessary. All consumption should be local. No food products need to be transported over hundreds of miles to market. All commercial fishing should be abolished. If local communities need to fish the fish should be caught individually by hand. Preferably vegan and vegetarian diets can be adopted... We need to remove and destroy all fences and barriers that bar wildlife from moving freely across the land... We need to stop flying, stop driving cars, and jetting around on marine recreational vehicles... Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans...

Surprise, surprise. Oxfam "fairtrade" coffee HURTS farmers in the third-world:

Mr Wilson said there was evidence that Fairtrade products could do more harm than good for coffee producers in undeveloped nations. He cited reports alleging producers had been charged thousands of dollars to become certified Fairtrade providers and some labourers received as little as $3 a day...

The academics quote an analysis of Fairtrade, published in the US-based Cato journal, which says coffee producers in poor nations are charged $3200 to become certified Fairtrade providers. The producers' costs are therefore higher than on the open market. The Fairtrade campaign aims to manage the international coffee trade by fixing prices at $US1.26 ($1.64) per pound (454g) and eventually fixing supply.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Private justice and "restitution imbalances"

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Paul Birch, and his article "ANARCHO-CAPITALISM DISSOLVES INTO CITY STATES," eloquently demonstrates how one can mount an overly complex argument against a position, and not realize that one single wrong premise destroys the whole argument, making one's efforts worthless. For some reason, this particular argument has popped its head in some circles, so I thought it would be a good case in point to show why it's wrong.

Birch's basic argument, as you may deduce from the title, is that MA contains within itself imbalances which eventually must make it collapse into city-States. His proposed imbalance is that the "restitution ratio" of market courts would grow and grow constantly (i.e. people found guilty would have to give back more and more resources), reducing crime to nothingness and bankrupting most or all courts.

Birch's most blatant error is committed in his passage from "just courts" (with a restitution ratio of 1) to a "restitution price war":

Courts that offer plaintiffs super-restitution attract custom away from the conservative simple-restitution courts; other courts must follow suit or go out of business. Some courts increase the ratio still more, hoping to steal a march on the competition. A "restitution war" breaks out. But unlike a conventional price war, there's no direct constraint upon the restitution ratio, since neither the courts nor the customers have to pay the bill. Where does the money come from? It comes from convicted offenders, who now face correspondingly higher penalties for their deeds. But who cares about them?

A basic objection would be to say that there's no reason to expect "just courts," from market standards of justice, to set restitution ratios at 1. Furthermore, "just courts" could only be evaluated from the standard of consumer demand. So his definition is fundamentally circular. But since his argument does not hinge on it, we can let it slide.

No, the main problem here is in his assertion that the restitution ratio would freely go up because "neither the courts nor the customers have to pay the bill." But this is a fatal misunderstanding. In a Market Anarchy, no one can be upheld to a court or code of conduct he does not agree to. Barring the odd hermit or redneck holed up in his house, the "convicted offender," therefore, is a customer who has had to pay just as much as the other customers of the same agency!

Because of this, Birch's premise turns into something rather more difficult to defend: "would customers of any agency take the risk of paying more than unity if they are found guilty of some infraction?" Obviously not! No one would want to pay 2000$ parking tickets, or be condemned to the death penalty for failing to pay his cable in time. The restitution ratio obviously cannot keep getting higher and higher. Likewise, even if I do not take this into consideration, I certainly do not wish to live in a society where the restitution ratio is very much higher than unity, because this deprives my society of the influence of otherwise productive people (excluding, of course, complete sociopaths).

His second problem is in the notion that a court monopoly would follow, because higher restitution ratios would stop crime:

Higher penalties act as a deterrent. Fewer crimes get committed. So now the courts are competing for a smaller cake; they must take a larger share or go under.

But this is equally preposterous. If the highest restitution ratio possible (the death penalty) does not deter crime, then how can a necessarily lower ratio eliminate crime? Suppose Birch is correct, and higher penalties do act as a deterrent. Then Middle Eastern States ruled by sharia law, which prescribes death for all sorts of "offenses," should have the lowest crime rates and violence rates in the world. However this is far from being the case.

He also tries to argue that bigger agencies would have an inherent advantage:

Let's simplify things a bit more by considering the two local courts only. Assume that they are in direct competition; ie, that they are attempting to supply the same market. Now suppose that Acme Insurance happens to have a larger share of the market than Joe's. Then a larger proportion of Acme's cases will be internal (disputes between two Acme clients) and a smaller proportion inter-jurisdictional. Other things being equal, Acme's average costs should thus be lower. So Acme can cut prices, drawing customers away from Joe's.

It is very unclear how a case between a customer of Joe's and Acme's should entail greater costs than an internal case. Both seem to have the exact same requirements, anyway.

Birch misses a much, much more important point. People would not select their agency solely on price. If people chose consumer products based solely on price, luxury products would not exist. Neither would ideological motivations. But that's patently disproved by our current way of life. And indeed, many people would choose to live in a certain way out of ideology more than anything else (think of communes, for instance). These agencies are likely to be very small indeed, and perhaps less efficient. But this would not stop some people from choosing them.

This is a powerful advantage of a Market Anarchist society, once it is established. Coupling guiding principles to consumer demand, instead of ruling class values, creates a very different sort of community and society. If we look at what the market has done for our consumer products, we can only imagine what a market of ideologies could do, the incredible progress that could result. Compared to such people, we would no doubt appear very primitive.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Machinery of Freedom episode 21- Talking Positively about Anarchy

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The Machinery of Freedom episode 21- Talking Positively about Anarchy
Wherein I talk positively about the Market Anarchist society using misconceptions as springboard.

Songs: Fantastic Plastic Machine- There Must be an Angel.

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Fucking Legalize It!

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