Monday, February 27, 2006

Debunking statist concepts - Cooperation

In my ongoing series contra Kangas and statism in general, we continue to the last fundamental concept, which is Competition vs Cooperation. And is it a doozy. Here is the first sentence right on the main text :

In the debate over what type of society is best, conservatives generally favor more competitive societies, whereas liberals favor more cooperative ones.

If my eyes could pop out of their sockets and make a klaxon sound, they would ! Wow ! How can there be a different in social model between conservatives and liberals ? Both favour the taking of resources from private individuals to the state, they just disagree on how it should be used. Both want the free market to continue to exist, as long as they can control and suck as much money and power as possible out of it. Both foster social warfare and the subversion of individuality. So both liberals and conservatives seek to undermine peaceful cooperation as much as they can, just not so much that they lose its benefits.

Of course, it's better sounding to be "cooperative" than "competitive", so as a liberal, Kangas wants to say that his particular belief system is more "cooperative". But the only fully cooperative and competitive system - i.e. that allows both to flourish to their maximal extent, without suppressing them with force - is market anarchy.

Let's go back to the summary.

Humans, like all animals, form cooperative groups to compete for limited resources. All life is ultimately competitive, because the natural tendency of any population is to explode, although it is kept in check by the limited food supply (and other factors). Because there are more animals than food, animals must compete to survive. In situations where the food supply is somehow sufficient, deadly competition falls.

Sounds good enough. Doesn't look like it justifies statism either, though. But Kangas will surely find a way to twist this to justify liberalism, right ? Well...

Liberals therefore advocate the creation of a sustainable economy, where the population is kept constant (through birth control) and resources are used no faster than they can be replaced. The result will be a more cooperative and civil society.

Once again, wow ! This section is the biggest pile of crap I've reviewed yet ! First of all, how can resources possibly be used faster than they are replaced ? Basic economy tells us that, when demand gets too high and threatens to create shortages, prices get higher in order to maximize profit, which lowers demand.

Suppose you have an accident at a widget factory. Right now you have 12 widgets in stock, but next week you'll only be able to produce 6 widgets. Then you sell your 12 widgets - which is more than you can replace. According to Kangas, this is a bad thing and not conductive to cooperation. How ? Assuming that this demand continues, the prices of the next widgets will be higher, because there will be less widgets for the same demand. This is not a bad thing : in fact, it is a necessary thing. Without price as the item of information, consumers would not have to cope with rarity, and potentially dangerous shortages would result. Keeping the information given to us by prices helps cooperation, in fact it is the basis of cooperation in a free market ! Suppressing information or imposing shortages is not cooperative.

It is also extremely unclear how this helps create a "sustainable economy". I would expect a statist to say that restricting offer makes it "sustainable", not restricting demand. But either way, "sustainability" remains a code-word with no meaning or justification, except to take control of a society's economy to suppress material values. No statist has ever been able to define "sustainability" to me except in terms of what restrictions they want to impose on the economy, and Kangas can do no better.

What about this whole "population kept constant" ringamole ? Was Kangas raised up in Communist China ? I don't know where he thinks he lives, but in developed countries we have close to zero or negative population growth ! So where does this even come from ? His main text provides no explanation. If he means the third-world, first of all that is racist, and secondly I'd like to know how he would possibly intend to do that, and how he intends to choose who can have children and who doesn't. Of course we know who he thinks should make that decision : the government. Just like the government controls women's wombs, our stem cells, people's bodies and what they can put into it, and where you can go and how long you can stay.

How well does Kangas think his reproductive mafia is gonna work, when they depend on high population growth to "sustain" their existence because they don't have the technology they need ?

So basically, his plan for a cooperative society is : force people not to have children, and control people's buying habits by force. What cooperation ! A real liberal utopia.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bizarro World / Public Education

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Two great entries from Tu Ne Cede Malis. First, The Bizarro World :

At every step, of course, the perpetrators have boldly proclaimed that black is white; that the road to peace must be paved with gravestones; that the “reconstruction” of a city or even an entire country begins by obliterating it with bombs, rockets, shells, and bullets; that “liberation” takes the form of heavily armed soldiers bursting into homes and mosques and dragging people off to torture them in hideous prisons, then blaming everything on “terrorists” who include, it turns out, little children now with their eyes blinded, their skin burned, or their limbs blown off by U.S. Bombs and bullets.

Then, Who Decides ?

But people wouldn’t educate their children if they weren’t forced to. Balderdash! But if that’s true then what better argument to rid ourselves immediately of public schools, given that that’s the type of parent that public schooling has produced?

Zing, indeed.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Worst US presidents / Sweden insane

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Who were the worst US presidents ? Strike the Root's list :
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. Woodrow Wilson
3. Ronald Reagan

There is another discussion by Nicholas Strakon on this topic. His list :
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. Franklin Roosevelt
3. Woodrow Wilson

Some reasons for their nominations :

Abraham Lincoln (Republican, 1861-1865) : Started the Civil War with the goal of establishing American Imperialism. Started patriotic fascism a century before it became cool. Signed the first income tax into law. Perhaps the most evil American to ever live. Only good point : was put down like a dog.

Woodrow Wilson (Democrat, 1913-1921) : Plunged the United States in WW1, started the League of Nations and participated in the Treaty of Versailles. Signed the Federal Reserve Act into law, establishing the Federal Reserve (effectively putting the American economy in the hands of government).

Franklin Roosevelt (Democrat, 1933-1945) : Plunged the United States in WW2 (making himself father of self-inflicted casualties in the process). Father of American state capitalism.

Sweden aims for oil-free economy

Sweden says it aims to completely wean itself off oil within 15 years - without building new nuclear plants.

The attempt is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, car manufacturers, farmers and others.

When people want to see results, don't give them results. Get a bunch of parasites on government dole together to force people to do things the way you want. That's the statist way !

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Censorship accusations

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I remove the comment option on a few entries, and everyone goes off the deep end calling me a censoring nazi. What the fuck is your problem ? You can still post comments on every single other entry. Get off your high horse and deign to post comments instead of insulting me and sulking ! Christ !

Uncontrolled Markets Always Outperform Even the Best Governments

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A nod to UberKuh for bringing this article to my attention.

A fine argument for Market Anarchy if I ever saw one, Richard Salsman wrote this article entitled Alan Greenspan's Record as FED Chairman: Better Than Predecessors, Not As Good as Gold:

[Speaking of Alan Greenspan] His performance pales in comparison to that delivered in the 18½ years before that (August 1950 to February 1969), when we had Fed officials who today no one can remember by name – because they operated not according to power-lusting whim but under an objective monetary standard: the gold standard.

Ask any economist: “Do you have more respect for Greenspan or the gold standard?” They’d answer: “Greenspan, of course.” Then they’d deride gold as a “barbarous relic,” echoing their other big hero – John Maynard Keynes. A U.S. Senator recently called Greenspan “the greatest central banker who ever lived.” In truth that appellation belongs to the gold standard – precisely because it tied the hands of central bankers.

Even the best public official cannot outperform an objective market standard that is only "directed" by natural market forces. When control over markets is given up, when the markets are free, the markets perform the best.

Market Anarchy is totally superior to anything that any government can provide (or should I say "control"?).

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Debunking statist concepts - Equality

At this point in this series about the Liberalism Resurgent FAQ, I should be reviewing Kangas' views on Constitutionalism : however, his article on this topic is nothing but one giant argument from popularity. There is very little to say about it, except that the popularity of an idea has nothing to do with its validity, and that therefore his argument that "constitutionalism is wrong because people disagree about it" is utter nonsense. I don't side for constitutionalism either, obviously, but fallacies do not a good argument make. Since that would make a very short entry, I am going to skip ahead to the next article, "Equality vs. Merit".

Equality is one pet topic of liberals, even though their system is inherently and dramatically unequal, with a ruling class making economic and social decisions for the entire population, usually shielding themselves from the impact of those decisions with their wealth and the cloak of democracy. Thus, when examined objectively, liberalism presents a hypocrite and anti-individualist view of equality.

Usually this hypocrisy is hidden by rationalizations about how "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" (even though this is not what actually happens, except in extreme liberal systems). Kargas uses the same rationalization. Let's start with the first sentence :

In an unrestricted meritocracy, the strongest keep accumulating power until the weak are eliminated.

We have a straw man of "unrestricted" here : no sane government, even if all governments are corrupt, would let people die just because they are "weak" (note the Social Darwinist language). In fact, the government has a lot to gain in keeping the "weak" alive and dependent on its dole.

But the main point is also incorrect. How can a meritocracy - a system that values merit above all - let people be "eliminated" ? If we could set up a total dictatorship based on merit, then it would be to our advantage to keep people alive. Merit can change with time, people can be educated and become vital elements of a society, for example. So this straw man is very irrational and not based on any kind of rational value at all.

To "prove" his point, he gives the example of feudal systems, which are unrestricted by rights and where feudal lords accumulate riches at the expense of the masses. But this is not a meritocracy by any stretch of the imagination : in fact, it is a great analogy for liberalism ! In both cases, we have a ruling class that governs based on utilitarian benefit to itself, and not any objective fact. In both cases, we have an oppressed population which cannot improve its lot. That is the result of liberal "equality".

In an equal society, the equal distribution of rewards causes excellence to fall, because there is no reward for trying harder.

Here is the second straw man, far, far worse than the second, because it illustrates the total perversion of "equality" done by liberals, perhaps one of their worst innovations. For Kargas, "equal society" means "equal distribution of rewards". But how is this distribution effected ? By force, by violence, by a ruling class which has economic and social control ! This is the opposite of equality - in fact, about as far from equality as you can get.

He is, however, correct in saying that such a system provides no incentives. That is not by far the only problem with socialism, but that is one problem.

What is his solution ?

The compromise between these two extremes is a moderated meritocracy, where the most talented continue to be the most rewarded, but a percentage of their resources is redistributed back to the middle class, to keep them competitive and in the game. This keeps the talent pool as healthy as possible, from which even greater talent is drawn. It also unlocks the fullest potential of society.

So his solution is to use force to take away some of the property of the most successful, to give to those who are less successful. In essence, that certain people have less rights than others. But since everyone is human and has the same human needs, this is a basic contradiction. Political principles cannot apply in a certain way to some and differently to others. If it is good to steal for some, then it should be good for everyone.

In practice, however, liberalism does not offer such a system. Resources are stolen by the government bureaucracy (with the force of the gun if needed) and then redistributed according to the politicians' interest, not in accordance with any supposed social need. And usually, the interest of politicians, liberal or conservative, does not lie in these supposed social needs, but rather to serve the popular, the rich and the powerful. So they tend to have the opposite effect - the so-called "middle class" is put in jeopardy most often than other "classes" (if you believe in social classes at all).

Is such a system desirable in theory ? No. The only desirable system is one where everyone is equal, has equal opportunity to prove himself, and is free from the inherent inequality of coercion. This is far from liberalism and any pretension of "equality" proposed by Kangas and liberals like him.

Monday, February 20, 2006

There is no such thing as anarcho-syndicalism

I am not keen to write against other positions, simply because I think it is unproductive in general. However, some ignorant "anarcho-syndicalists" have been taking pot shots at what I've been saying, and I thought I would clear out the issue once and for all.

There is no such thing as anarcho-syndicalism. Stop pretending that such a system is logical in any way. It is a "beautiful fiction", that's all. A-Sists claim that once the state is eliminated, human nature will somehow suspend itself and people will follow their syndicalist system slavishly. To put it mildly, this is a refusal to see reality. The only way that such a system could be implemented is through the state. The most eloquent proof of this is that unions have only grown to their coercive, parasitic role in democracies because of the state.

Let me make this clear : I have nothing against the concept of uncoercive unions, or people being concerned about their wages, or anything of the sort. A-S is the opposite of that - it is the belief that, in the absence of the state, people should enslave each other in democratic labour systems. All that A-Sists want is a statist structure reproduced millions of times, a power structure in each factory and office, with its own oppressive ruling class. Insofar as it basically imposes a monopoly of force in each workplace, anarcho-syndicalism is in fact not anarchist at all.

Market anarchy is the only form of anarchy that is not a construct of fantasy, because it does not require people to abandon human nature - in fact it is wholly based on human nature. That is why it is such a great system. People naturally want better live for themselves, and will cooperate to achieve it. People will not sacrifice their freedom and standard of life in the name of "labour", "the working class" or "the abolition of wages". That is just as evil as sacrificing them for the state. Ultimately, for this fiction to subsist, a state would be needed, because only a state (or a religion) controls enough of any given society to repress human nature.

Being that in an anarchy human nature would prevail and anarcho-syndicalism is the very opposite of it, anarcho-syndicalism is not an intellectually viable position. It is an intellectual joke. And that's the last thing I'll ever say about it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The politico-scientific method

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When government is involved in science, the scientific method goes out the window and is replaced by the politico-scientific method. Let me list some properties of this method, used both by the right and the left. Soon you should be an adept politico-scientist too !

1. You must ALWAYS do research from the perspective of an accepted political dogma, that of the party in power. Any research which does not agree with said dogma must be eliminated. Here is an example.

2. When a positive result is obtained, even if it's very preliminary, have it published in the newspapers. NEVER submit to actual scientific journals, as this would require peer review, which would expose your "research".

If you obtain a negative result at the end of your research, don't worry about any ethical problems. It doesn't matter if you retract it or not. No one will notice either way - either the scare you started will have snowballed beyond your capacity to stop, or it will be over and your retractation will serve no purpose.

3. When you publicize the results, consider the studies available. If there is one positive study and ten negative studies, use that one positive study and simply omit the negative ones. If there is no positive study available, then twist the results of negative studies to agree with you (see for example the WHO study on secondhand smoke). If you are a crackpot, just make up your own studies (like Christian fundamentalists do with homosexuality and health risks). Since all your supporters are also crackpots, they don't care about accuracy anyway.

4. As a politico-scientist, the precautionary principle is your best friend. Live it, love it. The precautionary principle basically states that as long as there is any risk in doing something, the action must be suppressed until all risk is eliminated. Case in point : the Alar in apples was publicized as dangerous, even though you would need to drink 19 000 quarts of apple juice a day to get any ill-effect. It doesn't matter how small the risk is, as long as it's there and you can convince people that it affects their lives or that of their children (once again, see the secondhand smoke scare).

5. You can count on the support of your fellow politico-scientists, who play a prominent role in the media, and use it to browbeat anyone who disagrees with you by pointing out that "all the authorities agree with me !". Global warming is caused by man, and anyone who disagrees is obviously a right-wing idiot, since no serious climatologist or geophysicist would say otherwise. Right ? Right.

6. Your opponent is ALWAYS on the dole or the secret payroll of an evil corporation or organization. If he does not appear to be, just assume he is anyway and use it as a slur. You, on the other hand, are funded by pixies. Wait... not quite. You are also funded by evil corporations or organizations, but don't tell anyone. As a politico-scientist, your number one asset is your credibility, not the quality of your work. Always keep that in mind.

7. It is not important to see that your conclusions become accepted. In the long run, most of the scares you start will be forgotten, unless your campaign was so successful that it becomes an accepted cash cow by the politico-scientific community. The ultimate measure of success happens when your politico-scientific principles or scare becomes integrated in the political landscape.

The earliest successful politico-scientist was Adam Smith, whose method of doomsday predictions has become part and parcel of environmentalist political theory. You can never go wrong by imitating religious nuts, as religion and politics are very similar in nature.

8. In order to reap more benefits from your "research", you might have to ally yourself with more extremist or unsavory groups. On the one hand, you get fanatical support, but on the other hand, associating with them may make you look like a nut. Generally you're better off associating with them, especially if you have a book you can sell at the door.

Whether you are a religious right-wing nut or a crazed left-wing fanatic, these simple rules should help you reap the most benefits from your dishonesty and laziness. Good luck !

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Market Anarchist Concepts in a Hat

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This is a new little game I made for my Simply Anarchy site. The concept of it is to basically pick two random concepts and try to find the connection between them. The first instance of this game that I know was from an Objectivist site. Here is my market anarchist version :

There's a form there for you to submit your answer, if you think it's good. (and I'll add it , if I think it's good).

The Burden of Proof, and Aaron Kinney's Political Deconversion

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After numerous lengthy discussions with Francois Tremblay and Andrew Greve, and after listening to many of Stefan Molyneux's Podcasts, I have come to the conclusion that there is no longer any reason for me to hold on to the idea of a government as a necessary and/or positive force in society. Force, or coercion, is never positive, and the government is no exception.

While I have just announced my deconversion to anarcho-capitalism, I think I will still refer to myself as a libertarian most of the time. I consider libertarianism as compatible with anarcho-capitalism, with anarchy being the final result of the application of libertarian principles of less government and unfettered free markets. Stefan seems to agree with me on this one, as he uses the terms libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism in his Podcasts almost interchangeably.

Now let's get to the main point of this post: the Burden of Proof. Anarchy is a negative concept. In the same way that atheism means "without theism," anarchy means "without government."

Most atheists are familiar with the burden of proof. The burden of proof states that the positive claim inherently has the burden of proving itself, not the negative claim. This principle applies not only to religious claims, but all claims, including claims about government.

The Burden of Proof is a big advantage to atheism for reasons that I don't want to detail here (got to stay on topic). And of course, the Burden of Proof is also a big advantage to anarchy. Anarchists aren't burdened to prove that government is not (socially) necessary any more than atheists are burdened to prove that God is not (logically) necessary.

The Burden of Proof lies with the one who claims that government is a necessary or positive force in society, and good luck to them. Using the tools and concepts found in Stefan's Podcasts, this blog, and Francois' new site Simply Anarchy, the anarchist can defeat or refute any argument in favor of a government. Like theism, there is simply no argument to justify the necessity of a God or state. You cannot justify government or God any more than you can justify the initiation of coercive force on another person.

I'm not so sure that anarchists employ the Burden of Proof as much as they should. While it is a popular atheistic tool, I don't get the feeling that it is as popular a tool among anarchists, as I don't see it mentioned in any anarchist writings that I've come across. Conversely, I can hardly read a single atheistic essay or book without coming across the Burden of Proof concept.

I think it's time for anarchists to use the Burden of Proof more often, as it is, in my opinion, the most powerful weapon against both God and government. In fact, the first post I ever wrote on my Kill The Afterlife blog was about the Burden of Proof. And accordingly, my first post on this blog as a fresh deconvert into anarcho-capitalism is also about the Burden of Proof. You have to start at the foundation if you want to argue effectively, and the foundation is the Burden of Proof, and who is shouldering that burden.

Let me now be perfectly clear: The statists are shouldering the Burden of Proof, and they simply cannot meet its demands.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Debunking statist concepts - Organization

Now we look at the second section on the Liberalism Resurgent FAQ, "anarchy vs organization" (which actually has nothing to do with anarchy - too bad, I was looking forward to debunking more pro-government propaganda). Here Kangas presents eight "tenets about organizations", most of which are simple and relatively trivial (no one is going to disagree with "Simple systems require less organization" or with "A strategy is needed for every organization"). However, the last two demand our attention :

7. Democratic organization is better than dictatorial organization.
8. Self-interest and freedom should always coincide with the common interest, and be prevented when it does not.

The ideas that democratic organization has any worth, or that self-interest should be suppressed when not aligned with "common interest", are both immoral and absurd.

This last idea is the easiest to debunk. Statists are collectivist : they believe that we should suppress personal values in the name of a "common good" or "common ideal". This is the constant in all collectivism, whether political, religious, cultist, activist, and so on. It is inherently anti-individualist.

With the last "tenent", Kargas is basically reiterating his anti-individualist belief. To suppress the non-violent desires of the individual in the name of the all-powerful collective is immoral. This is not something hard to understand. Tyranny is evil, whether it is exerted by one individual, or by the majority, or by a ruling class manipulating that majority. To attack people's freedom, in the name of whatever collectivist belief, is evil, and bad for me even if I'm not the one affected. A good example of this is the War on Drugs.

The deeper fallacy is that there is no such thing as "common interest" without the individual. Only individuals have "interests". A common use of this fallacy by statists is to believe that "government" has "our best interests" at heart. This is a collectivist fallacy. "Government" is a group of politicians and bureaucrats, who have all the arsenal of violence and justice at their disposal, and use it to stay in power or to gain more money. This is proven with every new legislation, every new agency. It is always found, without exception, that they do not correspond to the facts or needs of the private individual, but rather to support the good of the politicians who promote it.

Collectivism is utilitarian in nature - because the only people that have anything to gain from your mindless obedience to government, is the ruling class that controls and occupies that government. Collectivism is inherently immoral, because servitude and moral submission is immoral. Independent thinking, honesty, benevolence are moral, and those things do not exist in statism. Statism, especially democracy, creates social warfare, dishonesty and slavish thinking.

Now let's look at Kangas' justification of both principles.

Elected leaders must listen to their voters and appeal to their interests to win election. In doing so, the leader learns about their problems and solves them.

Once again we see the collectivist fallacy, which leads to a naive view of government. For Kangas and his fellows, politicians are somehow made accountable to their constituents and don't act in their self-interest. In reality, government is not accountable and everyone acts in his own self-interest. And in a democratic system, that means pandering to the rich, the powerful and the popular - not "listening to the voters" and "learning about people's problems" !

When has a politician ever done such a thing ? No law has ever been made on a sound scientific or moral basis. How could they possibly be ? There is zero motivation for any politician to do so. Even laws against murder only exist because a society where murder is legal would lead to an immediate uprising, and the laws only apply to private citizens, not to murderous government institutions like the military, the police and the FDA (the latter being probably the most murderous of the three).

And how does "democratic organization" provide the incentive to do so ? Because that is Kangas' claim here. Democratic modes of organization are fundamentally anti-individualist and against individual values, therefore they cannot possibly provide such an incentive even in theory

Now let's look at the last principle again :

One purpose of democratic government is to determine what activities are in the common interest and what isn't, and therefore what should be legal and illegal.


Who should determine what is in the common interest? Again, the tenets of democracy hold that no single individual can possibly have the infinite knowledge required to make intelligent laws; a minority of individuals scarcely more so. Representative democracy is the best way to resolve these questions -- both in principle and in practice.

This is only reinforcing the fact that democracy is anti-individualist, as well as the fallacy of "common interest". Humans have not needed "common interest" for centuries to assemble and work together. Even today this rhetoric does not make people work together : their common values do. There is no "common interest" in the helping hand Wal-Mart gives to the poor, or in the so-called "sweatshops" that give better working conditions and higher salaries to the third-world, only the desire for profit - the desire to serve others and benefit from it. That is the basis of civilization.

The justification offered by Kangas here is flimsy. Does it require "infinite intelligence" to make intelligent laws ? If that's true, then no system can possibly make intelligent laws ! More importantly, do we need to make "intelligent laws" ? No. In fact, we don't want government power to make laws at all. The power to manufacture arbitrary laws, to support the ruling class, is the power to oppress the masses. Also, this can be equally interpreted not as an argument for democracy, but against lawmaking. If democracy was really needed to make good laws, then so much for the laws.

The power to make laws is immoral because any such power will inevitably, and necessarily, be used against peaceful individuals. And when backed by the police and the army, this power is the power of violence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Shooting Unarmed Men / Freedom and Happiness

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Marc Stevens gives us an anarchist take on the American cop who shot an innocent passenger :

The bottom line is this: these atrocities will continue until the time arrives when people wake up and say enough is enough. We will no longer accept government, we will have a voluntary society. Government is the most deadly threat to human life and we will not quietly submit to your control any longer.

If you have this compelling need to protect us, that is fine, bring your service to the market and let the market decide if your service is valuable enough to pay for.

Provide your service on a voluntary basis like NORMAL people.

This will not happen until people see government for what they are: gangs of ruthless killers, thieves and liars.

An old essay by Bryan Caplan called "Freedom and Happiness" has an interesting discussion on this correlation.

The connection between markets and economic well-being is best illustrated empirically. The recent histories of Germany and Korea provide the equivalent of two controlled experiments demonstrating the link. In both cases, what scientists would call "exogenous" forces suddenly split homogeneous nations into two parts. In both cases, one government adopted market-oriented policies, whereas the other imposed a rigid state-run economy. In both cases, the living standards in the more capitalist nations became so far superior to those in the "control" nations that ruthless emigration restrictions were imposed to prevent a steady population drain.

Governments have two sorts of policies with profound effects on the development of virtue. On the one hand, governments typically favor paternalism - using the threat of punishment to discourage self-destructive and vicious behavior. At the same time, governments often take care of people who are suffering because of their own irresponsible behavior. The free-market policy, naturally, is simply the negation of both.


The market doesn't have any perfect way to develop character either, but at least avoids the pitfalls of these two breeds of state policy. Character won't spring up on demand under any system. But the market environment does tend to foster it by simultaneously giving people the freedom to test their strength of will along with the discipline of the natural rewards and punishments of virtue and vice.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The assault against smoking

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Western civilization is mounting an organized and generalized assault against smoking tobacco.

Now, contrarily to most libertarians, I'm not necessarily against that notion, if tobacco was shown to be dangerous to other people (the so-called "secondhand smoke"). However, tobacco is not being attacked because it is dangerous to other people - like any other government measure, tobacco is being attacked because of rampant activism which generates money and power, and thus imposes its simple-minded principles on all of society.

Look at what measures are being taken against tobacco. Is tobacco being banned at home, where children live, and are thus most vulnerable ? No. Of course not ! To do that would raise the ire of parents, and parents are an extremely powerful social faction which is also imbued with moral superiority. So they ban smoking in public places, which has been scientifically proven to have, at worst, a negligeable effect on other people. This was demonstrated by a famous World Health Organization study, which showed no proven correlation between second hand smoke and cancer in most scenarios :

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate no association between childhood exposure to ETS and lung cancer risk. We did find weak evidence of a dose-response relationship between risk of lung cancer and exposure to spousal and workplace ETS. There was no detectable risk after cessation of exposure.

Woo-ooops ! But forget about that, just believe that second hand smoke is always bad and is proven to cause cancer. Smoking is morally wrong, and second hand smoke is selfish, so forget about the evidence.

The fact remains that government power, like any other collectivist system, is always utilitarian. Uses of government power always fulfills the needs of politicians - need for vote, need for support, need for money. Like the so-called "War on Terrorism", the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty, the War on Smoking only results in added support for politicians and bureaucrats, not in any support of our freedom or well-being.

The only reason why George Bush has become so unpopular is because he is an idiot who pushed the wave of his fake war too far - he should take a hint from 1984 and remember that a perpetual war should be fueled by rhetoric first and foremost, not by actual fighting. Expansion of the budget must be gradual and justified by rhetoric, which worked very well for the War on Drugs.

Does tobacco destroy lives ? Absolutely. It destroys a shitload of lives. But unlike government, people CHOOSE to smoke. Smoking makes their lives better. They would rather run the risk of getting cancer than not smoking. Other people eat fast food. Yet others participate in high-risk sports. Who are we as a society to say that these people are evil ? We have no way of determining what they should want, because we have no way of determining the best way for anyone to express their own values. Heck, we rarely even know what their values are ! So the anti-smoking campaign is in fact pure arrogance.

Accompanied with that is the ridiculous conspiracy theory that "there is no reason for people to do X". For example, "there is no good reason to take drugs, therefore it should be illegal". This is pure crackpottery. People don't do things without reason. To assume this is to believe in divine intervention or pure chance, and to abandon any attempt at understanding the world.

Controlling people's bodies - political slavery - is immoral. All prohibitions are immoral. To prevent people from doing what they think is best is anti-moral. To prevent people from smoking so some politicians can take the credit and get more votes is immoral. Might does not make right.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Drug War and Market Anarchy

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At the end of my previous entry to Blogalize It!, I made a few comments regarding the incompatibility of market anarchy and the Drug War, and that it is only government incentives that make the Drug War possible at all.

Is market anarchy the only possible way to legalize drugs ? Obviously not, since the Prohibition came and went with nary an anarchy in sight. So this bring the obvious question, why did the Prohibition fail and the War on Drugs doesn't ? Obviously it can't be because the Prohibition didn't work, because the War on Drugs doesn't work either. It can't be because the Prohibition created too many criminals, because the War on Drugs beats records in putting innocent people in jail.

The main factor that contributed to the end of Prohibition was, in fact, the Great Depression, which was felt worldwide. Governments saw the legalization of alcohol as a way to get more taxation revenues, while keeping control over who could sell alcohol and how.

This "control" scenario is not surprising, as it is the most efficient form of government greed. Actually making something illegal wastes a lot of potential tax money and makes you unpopular with those who want the illegal product. It also requires a lot of police resources (billions and billions of dollars), which can be equally justified in a "control" scenario (in terms of closing down "illegitimate" sellers).

I also mentioned that the racial element was ingrained in the system from the beginning. In the Prohibition there was no racial element : most people like to drink, regardless of how flat their ass is or what hue their skin is. Politicians knew very well that they could sustain a prolonged war against opium and cocaine because its users do not tend to have a lot of political power. In a democracy, minorities have very little power, except that of being token victims and pawns for the welfare state.

Another element was the corporatist element. Before the Prohibition, alcohol was a big market with many corporate interests behind it. The same thing was not true with marijuana or cocaine. Thus there was a corporatist pressure that simply does not exist at this time for the War on Drugs.

Is there a deeper relationship between the Prohibition and the War on Drugs ? I'm afraid I'm not a friend of history, so I'll let someone else give us a dose of helpful facts :

During the United States' prohibition of alcohol between 1919 and 1933, tens of thousands of people were imprisoned every year while Americans drank more liquor than ever before (Association of the Bar of the City of New York 1994); at the same time, the cultivation of cannabis was being encouraged by the U.S. Bureau of Agriculture (Szasz 1985). Less than 5 years after the end of the Prohibition era, cannabis was declared an illegal substance by the United States federal government (McDonald et al. 1994), and it remains prohibited in the USA and almost all other nations to the present day.
"Effects of cannabis decriminalization in the Australian capital territory on university students' patterns of use", Journal of Drug Issues, Fall 1997, McGeorge and Aitken

Market anarchy, however, is another way by which all drugs could be legitimized. For one thing, there is no widespread support for the Drug War. In the United States, more than a third of people think the criminalization approach is wrong-headed (Crime & Delinquency, July 2002). And I think that without government and its power to regulate entire societies, most people would acknowledge the right of people to be left alone in their own home.

Another area where market anarchy favours decriminalization is in terms of costs. At the moment, government is shielded from the enormous costs of the Drug War because of its power of taxation. Private individuals would have no reason to pay for higher jail costs (to imprison drug users), to continue to suffer the gang wars and death toll, and to lose the resources of the drug market. Any court legalizing drugs would have a lot of new, happy customers.

Finally, in a market anarchy, drug users would be able to join court systems or protection agencies which permit drug use. Few people would have the incentive to join agencies which are against drugs, because they would not desire to get caught. People are not against drugs for themselves, but rather for others. By removing the incentive to use government power against others, a market anarchy would give the incentive to everyone to follow the principle of non-violence, simply because they do not wish to have violence done against them.

This is the crux of why government is fundamentally evil. Government by definition is a monopoly of force, thugs without opposition. It has the resources to make things illegal, and to use its grip on education and the media to suppress any contrary values or opinions. Government is social warfare. Market anarchy is social peace, but most importantly, gives us the incentive to deal with each other not as pawns of a "common good", but rather as free, sovereign individuals.

The fact that some people value drug use, in this perspective, is not a crime but a disagreement of values. Government perceives such disagreements as a threat to its monopolistic grip on society. But I think free people would naturally come to treat such disagreements as natural and as part of a healthy society. This is the hope of freedom.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Debunking statist concepts - Altruism part 2

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Let's continue :

Evolutionary theory gives an excellent explanation for their rise, and the Bible commands God's followers to practice both forms as well.

And the moral fallacies rear their ugly head. It's hard for statists to conceive of a morality that is not fabricated or taken from instincts. To acknowledge people's values as important would require them to concede to individualism. Evolutionary theory (which by the way is not a moral theory) and the Bible both ignore the individual, and therefore are better sources for the statist, than plain reality, which unfortunately disagrees with them at every turn.

Evolutionary theory does explain "altruism", as Hamilton's Rule. The reason why it exists, however, is not because of irrationality or sacrifice. Hamilton's Rule exists because it is the GENE, not the ORGANISM, which is the unit of survival in evolution. It is genes that are "egoist", and whose survival is selected for, even though this is of course metaphorical since neither the organism nor the gene have free will. This has led Dawkins to call one of his books "The Selfish Gene". So even if we stretch the poor metaphor, instead of proving altruism, Hamilton's Rule actually proves the power of individualism and the cooperation of individual elements to form organisms/societies.

The Bible proposes very irrational moral principles (if we can call them that), but it does not prove altruism. People follow their religious sect because they gain moral standing from it, as well as a feeling of self-righteousness. Religion is a position of pure hedonism, as opposed to a disciplined search for truth. It has nothing to do with valid, rational morality.

Furthermore, the Bible definitely does not advocate parenting. "Jesus" explicitly advocated against this value, urging people to break up their families (Luke 14:26, Matthew 19:29). It also states that the family structure, if it exists, should be understood solely on the basis of power relationships based on religion - the Church comes first, then the man, then the woman, then the children.

The Bible also does not advocate charity, Kangas' second point. "Jesus" said that the poor would always be with us, and that his well-being was more important than helping them (Mark 14:7). The Bible also states that the less fortunate should drink their worries away (Proverbs 31:6-7)

Do evolution and the Bible support Kangas' claims ? Not even close. But that doesn't stop statists from parroting these fallacies.

In truth, however, people practice altruism most cheerfully only among those in their own class; they resent giving or sacrificing for other classes, either higher or lower.

Here we fall into the same fallacy as before. If people "practice altruism cheerfully", then how is it altruistic ? Altruism precludes being "cheerful" - to be cheerful is an expression of value-fulfillment. And what about class warfare ?

It may seem obvious, but reducing class inequality would reduce class warfare and class resentment -- in both directions.

Definitely. Democracy is the main source of class inequality, and creates social warfare between segments of a society, and generates resentment. And yet Kangas, as we'll see in a future entry, supports democracy. So what is his solution ? To inflate government power, to redistribute more money and create even more inequality and social warfare ?

Unfortunately for him, we individualists have the monopoly on class warfare rhetoric. We understand that the root of social warfare is democracy. As the power of government grows, so do the domains in which it inflitrates itself. As these domains become more and more numerous, more and more people become more and more embroiled in government affairs. As more and more people become involved, they inevitably lose resources, time, energy in supporting or fighting government regulations, and this pushes them to fight to use that power against their opponents. And the popular ideas, the corporations, the powerful, always win.

All the measures ever taken to so-called "help the poor" - the welfare state, minimum wage, coercive unions, protectionism - have been a disaster for the poor and are based on evil premises. The minimum wage was originally used to try to keep women, who had lower-paying jobs, out of jobs after WW2. Now it is used to keep the youngest, the poorest and least educated out of jobs. Trying to keep jobs "in the country" only serves to keep lower-paying, more demanding jobs within one's country, stopping progress in the workplace, and preventing third-world countries from progressing. All these measures, like any other government measure, serves only one real purpose : to expand and legitimize government.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Debunking statist concepts - Altruism part 1

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Part of the purpose of this blog is to look at the conceptual and philosophical roots of people's nonsense, and debunk them. Following this, I am starting, with this entry, a new series debunking Steve Kangas' Liberalism Resurgent FAQ.

Why did I choose this FAQ ? Not because I oppose liberalism more than conservatism (both support state power and are therefore immoral), not because I don't like Kangas (he's dead anyway), and not because it's particularly popular (even though it is). I like this FAQ because it is a rare attempt by a statist to use basic principles to mount some sort of apologetics for his beliefs. He goes through all the basic concepts like individualism, democracy, equality, and so on, and is honest about his irrationality and collectivism. So this FAQ illustrates very well why statists are morally wrong.

In this entry I will examine his first point, individualism vs altruism. Guess which side he's on ? That's right, he's against individualism.

All of his articles have a summary that explain his position, with details and ramifications explored below it. So in each case I will mainly examine his summary, with support from the main text when needed.

Let's start with the first sentence :

Individuals are not 100 percent self-interested.

Great, we just started and already we fall into statist rhetoric. How can anyone not be 100% self-interested ? That is tautologically absurd. Anyone who does something, does it because he thinks that's what he should do. Yet Kangas thinks he has some examples :

Undeniable examples of altruism exist among families (in a strong form) and among communities (in a weaker form).

And to quote him in the main text :

In fact, there is powerful evidence that humans are not pure individualists. (...) [F]amilies are deeply altruistic; both mothers and fathers sacrifice unselfishly to ensure the welfare of their children.

Wow. Does anyone really believe this ? I think it's very insulting to any parent - to be told that the raising of his children is not in his own interest ! This implies that he has no love or consideration for his children, that they are not part of his values.

Most parents would dismiss Kangas' comments as bullshit, and yet this kind of thinking convinces people who don't understand parenting and, seeing it from the outside as hardship, not sharing in the parents' values, classify it as aberrant behaviour. But this is the height of arrogance. Furthermore, parenting has a lot of other motivations than simply raising children.

The point, however, should not be overstated. People do commit irrational actions. This is definitely true and a fact that we simply cannot ignore. We can call this irrationality "altruism", "evil", in that it is simply moral error. But to say that every single parent in the world is irrational and in error, however, is ridiculous to the extreme. Is having children the best way to express your values ? For a lot of people, the answer is obviously yes.

Of course, statists promote altruism to stomp down individualism, and Kangas hits the nail on the head by calling his page "Individualism vs Altruism". That is the crux of the issue. If you can make other people believe that individualism is in some way bad for society, then you have the tool to attack the individual's value-expression. This is what Kangas, and statists in general, want to do.

Due to length, this article is divided in two parts. Go to part 2.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Objections against anarcho-capitalism

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"Silas" has posted a nice FAQ about objections to anarcho-capitalism on the anti-state forum. I would invite everyone interested in the topic to check it out !

Here is an extract :

Capitalism is as evil as government because it involves hierarchy.

The only way to get around hierarchy is if everybody agrees. (i.e., coercing someone that disagrees into going along with an idea is a hierarchy of its own) If that were the case, there would be no need for any political philosophy, be it ancap, ansoc, conservatism, etc. Political philosophy is the topic of "who gets what" when there's DISAGREEMENT over who gets what.

It's not that humans aren't "built" to agree. It's the fact that the entire field of political philosophy is the topic of what do, given a disagreement. If your theory assumes the possibility of (eventual) complete agreement, it's not a political philosophy at all!

However you answer the more fundamental question of "what should people do when they disagree about how some scarce, apppropriable resource should be used?" you are going to create a hierarchy. If the more needing person should get the resource, that's a hiearchy. If the resource is used however the majority decides, that's a hiearchy.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Health Care / Another voice for Wal-Mart

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The blog of Reason Magazine had an entry about health care called : Our Craptacular Health Care System (And Why We Deserve It). It's not really the entry itself that's interesting, but rather the comments. Lots of smart people there (but what do you expect from a libertarian blog ? ;).

Below the Beltway speaks up for Wal-Mart :

I will be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart. I don't enjoy shopping there, and the products they sell don't appeal to me. For a large segment of America, however, Sam Walton's creation has opened up opportunities that didn't exist before. To argue that you care about the working poor at the same time you attack the one institution that has helped them the most in the past 20 years is the height of hypocrisy.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

What is Libertarianism ?

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NOTE : This is not the latest post. I'm keeping it above the others so everyone can check it out.
I present to you : Stefan Molyneux's new introductory podcast, "What is Libertarianism ?". Molyneux's introduction puts a heavy emphasis on intuitive moral aspects and is great to make libertarianism accessible to anyone who is not familiar with the concepts.

For those of you with slower connections, here is the same file with lower resolution and half the size :

Enjoy ! Don't forget that you need Flash to see these players.
(if you have a blog and would like to post these streams, please email me and I'll give you the code)

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

The morality of growth

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Will Wilkinson asked a couple weeks ago for anyone to prove that economic growth is politically desirable :

Are you aware of any works in moral or political philosophy (or normative political theory) that argue that maintaining a relatively high rate of economic growth is morally mandatory for a good government (...).

I am not looking for an economist who argues in passing that (sufficiently equitably distributed) growth is good because growth=higher incomes=concumption of more preferred bundles of goods=good. (...) I am unwilling to believe that there could be thousands upon thousands of pages on liberty, equality, and even stability, but next to nothing on growth as a cardinal social and political value.

To understand such a normative issue, we first need to understand what a political value is. Values are the moral equivalent of objective human needs. We need food to survive, therefore nutrition is a value. We need protection from the elements, therefore shelter is a value.

There are four categories of values, arranged in a hierarchy :
* Physical values - Necessary for our survival, therefore necessarily at the foundation of our hierarchy. Examples : food, shelter, health, mobility.
* Mental values - Necessary for the sound operation of our mind, and therefore the determination of correct action. Examples : rationality, purpose, education.
* Social values - Necessary to reap the rewards of living in society. Categories of these include economic exchange, visibility, and communication.
* Political values - Necessary for a sound framework to the fulfillment of the other categories of values. Examples : freedom, limited law, rule of law.
(from Logical Structure of Objectivism, chapter 3)

We all configure our values differently depending on our situation. A starving man in the desert would value nutrition above all else, while a working man who has no problem getting his three meals a day would not put such an importance on it.

This being said, it is the last category of values which interest us. Coercion makes us unable to act to fulfill our values, and thus political values exist because we need to be able to live without coercion. Given this need, we should seek modes of organization which eschew coercion. We also need a mode of organization which sets clear rules, making the possible effects of our actions clear and permitting the use of causality by the individual.

Given all this, I'm afraid that I must refuse to comply with Wilkinson's request that "consumption of more preferred bundles of goods" not be invoked, because they are extremely relevant to this question. But to be more precise, I should say "execution of more preferred sets of actions", putting said consumption as part of that set of actions. Fulfilling a value does not solely involve consumption of goods (the fulfillment of friendship, social visibility or intimate relationships comes to mind).

This bundle of goods and this set of actions correspond to the configuration of the individual's values, which is to say his value system. And individuals, in any given society, have wildly different value systems. Therefore, the expansion of possibilities, both in terms of goods and actions, makes possible the fulfillment of a greater number of values for a greater number of people.

This principle explains why growth is moral.

It also explains why market anarchy is the best political system. In a market anarchy, individuals are free to choose the laws they support personally, or the kind of protection they want. Thus market anarchy is nothing but an expansion of the principle of the "fulfillment of a greater number of values for a greater number of people" applied to the political realm. No other system offers this level of freedom, and can be seen as ultimately being the enemy of individual value expression.