Archive for the 'Anarchy' Category

Profit of Privilege

As I stated in a previous post I agree with Gary Chariter and other left-libertarians when they decry capitalism on the grounds that most people conceive of it in a way that is not actually associated with a freed-market. However, initially I was somewhat resistant to this position because I felt like we did have a society in which, while the government was intrusive in many ways, did maintain some semblance of a free market. I have come to realize that government intrusion is not the exception in the economy, it is the norm, and really there is no market which is not affected by some government action. Also most of the government action, while usually given a purpose that sounds good, is largely a hand out to big business in one way or another.

One way the government intrudes in a market is to enhance the economies of scale and remove diseconomies of scale. For instance, large companies can afford to hire lawyers to lobby congress for privileges, get around the complex patent and tax codes, and comply with licensing requirements (some increased economies of scale). Small companies still have advantages in that they may be more nimble in adjusting to changes, able to customize better for the individual consumer and not have large transportation costs (some diseconomies of scale the government tries to remove). These government actions work to increase the overall firm size beyond what would be the optimum in a purely free market. All that government action costs money, so we get larger businesses and higher costs to the consumer.

It is usually thought that the government is a necessary tool for aiding the poor, and largely I think libertarians are silent on this issue. It is hard to argue that a government who directly gives money to the poor is not in some way helping them. I would argue though that while it does appear on the face of it that they are doing good, they actually on net do more harm to the poor in various other ways. The government raises the cost of a lost of items in modern markets, not just via taxation, but licensing requirements, and monopoly copyright laws. Also the distribution of land to government-favored persons hurts the poor who would otherwise be able to live off the land so to speak. I also largely try to make people who support government programs “designed” to aid the poor see that there is another side to the issue in that the government must forcefully take the money from some who do not wish to give it (I for one would rather give it to a more efficient private charity of my choosing). Also as many Austrian economists have pointed out, inflation also hurts the poor the most because of at least two reasons, that the prices of the consumer goods go up not necessarily in proportion to their wage, and because the money is first given to people who are well-connected to government and the first people to get the money are able to use the new money to buy things at prices before they have time to adjust to the new money.

What follows is a video of Gary Chartier describing how he thinks we can address the problem of health care for the poor while avoiding a system of government take-over.

I find his arguments to be extremely compelling. Surely freed-market advocates have been making similar arguments for decades, but his emphasis on the ways in which the poor are systematically disadvantaged when it comes to health care is to my taste. Also check out what some of the Mutualists have to say about the profits of privilege, it is surely amazing how un-free a market we have at present.

Freed-Market Advocates Should Oppose Capitalism and Socialism

I have been watching some videos from the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) done by Gary Chariter for their Stateless University. Professor Chartier’s arguments are extremely compelling, and presented in a very logical fashion. He says that we should discard the term capitalism because in most modern contexts it is affiliated with government corporate partnership and a hierarchical structure where capitalists impose their authority on others. He then favors terms like freed-markets and market anarchism. I think that is on the right track, our tradition of individualist anarchism does have a lot of common with left and I think we would be smart to seek more allies there.

However, he then argues that we should attempt to reclaim the term socialism for our movement (in the second part of the video). I think he desires to do this because a lot of the historical figures in the anarchist tradition have favored this term (Benjamin Tucker for one). I can understand the appeal of reclaiming the term, but I don’t really see how the situation is much different from the term capitalism. In modern context socialism’s main definition involves the states control and regulation over the means of production (State-Socialism). So while I think he is well intended to desire some socialist ends like peace, equality, and solidarity with the poor and working class, it does not seem to me like reclaiming the term socialism is the way to do it.

In the following video Roderick Long (also a left-libertarian anarchist) discusses how he thinks capitalism and socialism are anti-concepts following the definition of Ayn Rand. I do tend to think that we should not use either term to describe our ideas because both mean things in modern contexts that we really do not want to associate with (basically both involve some connection with the state apparatus).

Despite this criticism I really have been enjoying Prof. Chartier’s video series. He is an excellent speaker and I think is going to become a more central figure in the movement. Jeff Riggenbach did a great podcast discussing some of Professor Chartier’s contributions. The book he edited “Markets not Capitalism” can be found online here. It is a collection of essays from some of the greatest left-libertarian thinkers throughout history, including Karl Hess (one of my personal favorites).

Locations and Lifestyles: how to live free

There is a lot of discussion in the libertarian community about where in the world libertarians should try to go in order to create a voluntary society. The suggestions range from picking the most free of the states in the US, to building independent nations on floating platforms (seasteading). In this post I will offer my comments on some of these places, and try to present a good solution for especially younger people.

Seastead

First though, we should ask, why should we all go to the same place? Wouldn’t it be better to have libertarians spread out so that their message could be heard by the most people? While this is a perfectly valid point, I think the counterpoint is much stronger (I agree with Seth King on this). We need to ban together as libertarians, because it allows us to construct mutual support networks, and begin living the lives we would ultimately like to live in a free society almost immediately.

Probably the best known, and most widely successful of these projects is the Free State Project in New Hampshire. They have already concentrated a thousand people in parts of New Hampshire, especially Keene. They have made demonstrable impacts in both the local elections, and in the way they run the community at large. However, I question the idea of finding a place in the US to build our society. In the event of an authoritarian clamp-down Free Staters might be some of the first targets.

I think an equally exciting opportunity exists in Cafayate, Argentina, where Doug Casey is building a great community. While not explicitly a libertarian community, many have said that the vibe down there is very anarchist friendly, and certainly Doug Casey himself is an anarchist. While living in the community created by Casey is not super cheap (also leaving ones family in the US might be hard for some), I think there is a lot of opportunity in the surrounding area for development.

Lastly, I would like to discuss Patri Friedman’s solution of building floating autonomous communities called seasteads. I really like the idea of having the kind of societal structure where a wide variety of voluntary arrangements are entered into by many people, and it seems like seasteading would be a great way to experiment with these different structures. However, I do have some concerns about the overall cost of these projects. Though, my concern is somewhat diminished by the fact of the rapid increase in the cost of living in developed countries, it may actually be a good investment to build an off-shore tax-free locale.

Yurt

Also I think there are several methodologies for gaining liberty not just in location, but in the way one conducts ones life. It seems to me like living in a fashion that is largely self-sufficient and sustainable provides one with the maximum independence and freedom from authority. Karl Hess was an avid practitioner of this kind of lifestyle (partially not of his own choice considering the government basically deprived him of all his future income because of his refusal to pay taxes). I think giving up some of our  20th century comforts, especially the size of ones house is a sacrifice worth taking in order to live more freely.

I myself currently live in a 9′ x 14′ room, and have absolutely no problem with the space. I like the idea of building tiny houses on wheels that can be more mobile as one decides to move between different political jurisdictions. Also I like the idea of the Mongolian yurts which are quite easy to assemble, rather cheap, but seem comfortable and liberating in a way. Anything that remove ones dependence on paying a mortgage or large energy bills I think makes them more free.

Poll: Where are you on the ideological spectrum

This poll is in conjunction with today’s post on the anarchist ideological spectrum. As the article mentions though you may disapprove of using the traditional spectrum to describe the anarchist position, if that is the case just mark none.

The Anarchist Specturm

In the anarchist community there are several different “flavors” of anarchism discussed. Though it seems like some have seemingly irreconcilable differences, for instance the varying views on property rights by anarcho-communists and anarcho-capitalists. Generally it seems most of the differences are not so much differences in substance, but differences in approach. It was pointed out well by Karl Hess that there really is only one kind of anarchist and he is a voluntarist, one broadly opposed to the use of the coercive means.

There is something to be said here for the traditional right-left paradigm as it applies to anarchism. Broadly I would categorize those who use as their main justification for anarchism equality, self-sufficiency, peace, or respect for diversity on the left. I would then categorize those who favor anarchism as the most economically efficient system, or that most respectful of property rights and the non-aggression principle on the right. One of the best ways to see the distinction is to attempt to categorize the thinking of certain people.

Some might justly argue that we shouldn’t be trying to divide ourselves further. That talking about differences we have as anarchists, even if they are only in approach and not in result, does more harm than good. They might be right! However, there is a strong counterpoint, that being a strengthening of our arguments by debating with each other. Personally, I started out on the right side of the anarchist spectrum, but have come to have a great appreciation for the arguments and methodologies of leftward anarchists (Karl Hess, SEK III etc.), and I probably prefer that style now.

I have heard it said by Stefan Molyneux and others that anarcho-capitalism would allow for anarcho-communism, while the reverse would not work. I think that in a truly voluntary society people would enter into the kind of arrangements that are suitable for them. If a group finds more satisfaction or productivity in a commune they would of course be allowed to form one, if still others found it more useful to have and enforce universal property rights that would also be allowed. I think that great diversity of anarchy is something that we should celebrate rather than bicker over. Also broadly I think any conflict between these two different styles of voluntary association would be attempted to be resolved in as peaceful a manner as possible, adhering to some form of the non-aggression principle.

Here is my sampling of where I place certain anarchists in the ideological spectrum:

Left:

Centrist:

Right:

There are many individuals and groups who remain uncatagorized above, but I think I have given a descent sampling across the community. Of course there are some specific elements of the thinking of certain people which falls in one category while another part falls on the opposite side, so it is hard to really come up with an accurate picture. I would love to work toward getting together resource pages on this site for the great thinkers above, and many others.

An essay by Murray Rothbard interesting look at the political spectrum especially how it relates to libertarian and anarchist thought. Roderick Long has given some presentations attempting to look at Rothbard’s paradigm in a more modern context.

I do think that it will be the easiest to reach the non-academic left, which as evidenced by the Occupy Wall Street movement, is very concerned with government granted privilege to business. A convincing argument could be developed that in order for the OWS protesters to be consistent in their ideology they would have to oppose state action more broadly.

Why the media doesn’t want to call attention to Ron Paul’s anarchist associations

The media at large seems to be missing a huge story. Ron Paul has affiliations with many anarchists! and on occasion has made comments that could be construed as anarchist leaning. Probably best known of his anarchist affiliations is to Lew Rockwell, of the Mises Institute. When any of the other candidates have an affiliation with someone of radical views they are hounded to no end  (Obama in 2008 comes to mind). There can only be one good reason for the media not to put attention on this story, that being they want to suppress the anarchist message.
I think it is fully possible that high ups in the media are fully aware of Ron Paul’s affiliations but are not willing to run stories on it because they want to suppress the rise of such thinking in Americans. An anarchist society would be detrimental to the large media monopolies, they would no longer be able to get special government privilege by lobbying congress. Also the media wouldn’t be able to use the copy protection laws to prevent rebroadcasting of their shows. The real problem they are going to have though is the Internet, where there are a whole host of websites (such as this one) that espouse the anarchist alternative.
Ron Paul has even expressed on occasion that he would approve of a small libertarian society splitting off from the US if they would simply receive and accept no government assistance, and desire peaceful trade. See the following interview:
Ron Paul gave a huge bump to our movement with his 2008 campaign. The free state project now has over 1000 early movers. I can only imagine how much the message of our peaceful solution to the problem of social cooperation will be spread by his current campaign. There is a large debate among anarchists, “to vote or not to vote”, really it doesn’t matter that much, one individual’s vote isn’t going to change anything. What will have an effect is our attempt to spread a real understanding of what freedom is and how we can only achieve it in a stateless society.
It both confuses me and brings me great joy to see Lew Rockwell on national television on the (cancelled) show of Andrew Napolitano (who also at times has said some things that could be construed as anarchist leaning). There is an avowed anarchist on TV! I mean this is great! The media was quick to close down the show, as I think it began to get more radical. Napolitano, while not an outright anarchist, hinted at a Mises institute event that he at least thought the idea of a voluntary society was something to be explored. Also a recent tweet from him quotes Lysander Spooner, the great american individualist anarchist. It could bring the movement a lot of credibility to have someone like Judge Napolitano outwardly express his views, and bring some of the many strict constitutionalist viewers of his show over to the voluntarist side.

New Website!

Hello everyone!

This is a new website that I am making to try and promote the idea of a voluntary society. The movement is at a critical juncture now, especially with the current Ron Paul presidential campaign, we are about to get a lot of people looking into our ideas and philosophy. We want to be welcoming, but at the same time uncompromising. I hope that this site can serve as a resource for those looking to learn more about what a voluntary society would entail, and for those who are already in the movement.

I intend to move the site onto a different server in the event that it gets some traffic (not ready quite to sign up for that domain hosting). Also if there is enough interest I will start making some videos discussing these ideas, and hopefully that will help to bring more people into “this little movement of ours”.

Personally, I came to regard the state as an unnecessary evil mainly from the economic side of things. Like many the economic crisis in 2008 sparked my interest in wanting to know what the heck happened. It took a bit more time before I was able to shrug off my (neoconservitave) views on war, civil liberties etc. I also found the vast online media resources of the Mises Institute quite useful in my personal development. Their youtube channel did wonders for my growth. I would broadly categorize my views now as voluntarist anarchist, individualist, market anarchist, or agorist, something along those lines it is sometimes hard to get a term which is consistently applied enough to want to attach oneself to it.

On the coloration of the website. You might think it a silly topic for the opening statement, but I think it is important. Generally yellow and black are the colors associated with Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism. While on almost all points I agree with this position, I find the motive, tone, and style of more leftward thinkers like Karl Hess, Samuel Edward Konkin III, Roderick Long, and Gary Charier to be more my current taste. As I said though it is more a difference in style than in substance, and while approach is important we shouldn’t let it divide us. As Karl Hess said in Anarchy Without Hyphens, “There is only one kind of Anarchist… An anarchist is a voluntarist.”  To respect this the title banner has been left white and black, but the background left yellow to reflect the use of yellow in voluntarist circles, not necessarily limiting to anarcho-capitalism.


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