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A Pox On All Their Houses

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Mutual Aid, blogosphere style

One of the best, most interesting writers in this thing of ours is Arthur Silber. He blogs over at The Light of Reason. Truly a refreshing perspective.

I'm going to link to some of what I think are his Greatest Hits. But in the spirit of mutual aid, I would appreciate it if anyone reading this who is capable of donating a bit to him, to do so. It's rational self interest here. I don't want him to stop writing, but he's on the brink. I've been there myself quite often in the past few years, which is why there's not a lot of volume on my blog... yet.
So this is also out of a feeling of solidarity and understanding. Anyway, see for yourself. Read this stuff, and decide. Why should Glenn Reynolds, of all people, be able to make a living blogging, when people like Arthur fall into deep poverty? (probably a sophisticated information asymmetry, and that's what I'm fighting here)
So, go ahead and decide. Read, and do as you will.

The Roots of Horror, Part I
- Linked Series, read em all.

Why You Should Protest The Torture And Abuse Of Children

The Apocalyptic Crusader Psychology

I Accuse - To those who pave the way for the New Fascism - Linked Series - this is a masterpiece

The Culture of the Lie


Thursday, April 21, 2005

There are always 3 sides to every story in the Real World

One thing that always befuddled me was the strange blindness that most "Right-Wing" libertarians have in favor of Big Business, and the corresponding blindness that "Left-Wing" libertarians had against the Free Market.
When I would see people who should know better talking about how great some fascist behemoth like Nike is, to pick a name from a hat, it always seemed weird to me.
And if you're an anarchist, you can't avoid the free market. How are you going to stop people from trading stuff or services? And why would you?

Eventually, I realized that there was the Elephant in the middle of the room, which was Banking/Finance.

But, just like with Ginsu Knives, there's even more!
Not only does fraudulent, oligarchic finance distort all property, many of the right-wing libertarians don't realize/admit, that the particular reductions in the state that they support the most, are just changing the shape of intervention.
It's like anti-socialism, where the rich are still protected but the poor aren't. And then the left-wing libertarians believed them.
But a few people, in this thing of ours, see through that towards an asocialist, acapitalist non-interventionism. You can't have central banking, but take away welfare. You also can't increase regulation of industry, without increasing war, or corporate subsidies, or massive inflation.
So if we have to progress gradually toward freedom, we must be careful in how we do it.

To me, having "free banking" is a no-brainer. The elephant must die.

Beyond that, we should think systemically. To take from the rich to give to the poor is counter-productive and inefficient. It drains the total level of wealth in the society. But at least, it is a negative feedback loop. It would be certainly no worse than shooting the wealth into space...

HOWEVER, to take from the poor to give to the rich, is an abomination. And it's a positive feedback loop, which may amount to the same thing.

So we need to be careful... farm subsidies should go near the top of the list... paying farmers not to grow food seems really bad.

Friday, April 15, 2005

the new old thing in town

"Neolibertarianism" - the ?new? attempt at a pragmatic libertarianism created by the "Q and O" bloggers. These guys were inspired by Irving Kristol, of all people, so you kind of know what this is all about. Shoring up the powers that be by not actually fighting them very much but pretending that they are the only sane opposition to the status quo. A bit more "good cop" than the neo-cons, but a bit less literate as well.

I couldn't help feeling, when I was reading the posts where they introduce this splinter ideology, that I have had this argument about 53498789073 times with people who were trying to defuse the logic of full-on liberty.

One problem is that they also call themselves "New Libertarians" which actually refers to an entirely different movement which was foundational to radical libertarian thought, and especially those of us who think that total liberty is where the left and right meet, so to speak. Not some sort of monstrous hybrid of statist ideas. (though I suppose that is a meeting point as well, just not a logically consistent one) We don't want to lose more terminology to the Orwellian Process. It's hard enough to talk about anything these days, as it is.

A quote from Tom Knapp , with proper links for the purposes of correcting the memetic record:

Since the crux of the conflict is the term "New Libertarian," those interested in defending
the history of our movement against temporary and transient "rogue informational waves" can do so by the simple expedient of linking the term, from their own blogs and web sites, to sites more representative of its real, historical meaning than that of the "neolibertarian" journal.

Some examples:

"Samuel Edward Konkin III, 1947-2004," by Jeff Riggenbach, is a moving tribute to the life and work of the authentic New Libertarian.

"A Fannish Tribute to Samuel Edward Konkin III," by J. Neil Schulman, covers similar ground, with more emphasis put on the science fiction fandom interests and activities of the real New Libertarian.

LeftLibertarian is a Yahoo! Group created by the original New Libertarian.

And, of course, there's The New Libertarian Manifesto, the seminal explanatory work on SEK3's ideas.


compassion comes from within

government redistribution of wealth != altruism
it is at best, guilt relief.
but for the most part, simply power consolidation, like most things the government does.

doing something that you are forced to, carries no moral value at all.
we are not a nicer or better society because we are forced to give wealth to the government, of which the needy get some small fraction.
and in fact, we are more cynical for the pretense.

"I gave at the Congress" should never be something someone can get away with saying.

in fact, quite the opposite. anything the government is going to give out, it has taken much more first.
and other than direct money transfer, any other thing the government gives is going to be a shoddy, near-worthless substitute for the real thing.
if people really want to help the poor, as so many seem to want to, (enough to vote for all these welfare-spending politicians) and they have all that stolen money back in their pocket,
they will find a way to do so that is far more efficient and effective than any statist welfare scheme. (in fact the history of the original workers' movement, before it was crushed and co-opted by the state, is full of examples of such.)

which may well be why the powers that be don't want it that way.

the trick to it all is the belief that somehow, everyone else won't pay their "fair share" without being forced to. but if everyone that wants welfare just contributed the equivalent amount that they pay out in taxes to a private version of welfare, the poor would be far, far better off.
as for the rich, well, the government takes for its own "costs" far more of the money that comes out of people, than it gives out. even if the rich folks contributed nothing at all to private charity, the amount of real value that eventually gets back to the poor would most likely still be way more than it is under the current system.
I mean, private non-profit orgs are way way way less corrupt and more efficient than any government bureau. The only possible argument I can see is perhaps, that we should roll back the state gradually, to give private society a chance to rebuild itself, now that it has been disrupted so much already. But that's about the best you can say about government. That it is iatrogenic. Much like the modern corporation, who hold their employees hostage. Another beast that can be replaced by private alternatives. (no, corporations aren't really private, despite Republican rhetoric.) The idea, for instance, that GM will get bailed out by the government, because they are holding their own workers hostage, makes me really really bitter.

Doesn't anyone else want to live in a world with no large institutions? Doesn't this appeal to anyone? Or has everyone bought into the myth that bureaucracy is somehow mystically "necessary" or "inevitable" now and cannot be dispensed with?
Personally, I think we'll do just fine without it. Whatever benefits accrue (to a certain cross-section of society) from it, will be far out-weighed by having efficient, flexible, responsive(and therefore, responsible) networks of production, rather than giant, immobile, static, pyramidal behemoths.
I want to wake up one day in a world with no GM, no AT&T, no European Union, no AMA, no FDA, no DEA, no US Army, but just us, and our various communities trading and sharing with each other.
And if I live long enough, I will.
The real question is how we are going to end up there, and who will have to suffer in the process of getting there. If we don't build that world peacefully, then we will end up there through sheer exhaustion and collapse. Violent control is non-sustainable.
Then again, the history of the world is one of just such collapses, and then sooner or later the predators reorganize (once society has built up enough surplus to make it worthwhile/possible for them) and start all over again. But knowledge accelerates. We have begun to directly record history, more and more efficiently. So maybe we can hold out better this time.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Another angle on this thing of ours...

Selling the Store? - by the always insightful Kevin Carson.

I would say that by taking the stated approach of always pointing out how the government is protecting the ruling class at the expense of the rest of us, in regards to any particular issue people care about, it will engender a sense of general non-legitimacy to the state, a skepticism that could undermine the security trap. If people stop believing in this legitimacy, the state's goose is rather cooked. Not that people will, en-masse, revolt or throw down their tools. People are too opportunistic and utilitarian for that. But the people on the margin right now will move closer to our position, and so on. They will continue to spread this general malaise. Malaise, under the conditions we live in right now, is just about the right attitude for the average non-ideologue to have. If it grows powerful enough, the boogey-men of the statists will no longer frighten people into clinging to Big Brother's shirtsleeve.
Lao-Tsu said "When rulers take lives so that their own lives are maintained, their people no longer fear death. When people act without regard for their own lives they overcome those who value only their own lives."

Of course the powers that be, having only a hammer, have moved on to the vague threat of torture in order to keep people in line. (see: Alberto Gonzales)
This may be why we were allowed to see the Abu Ghraib photos. "See what we will resort to?"

Perhaps the worst thing that could happen is for the next administration to be "soft tyrants". The Good Cop to the Bush Administration's Bad Cop. But that threatens to unleash a revolution of rising expectations. So it's a game of brinkmanship. Even with all of their Ivy League educated experts, they can't do the impossible, which is to rationally plan things from the top down in a way that does not eventually collapse. Planned societies are un-sustainable, economically and ecologically and sociologically. These things are not un-related. Economy is human ecology. Social Psychology is constrained by material conditions. (i.e. whether or not you have a "propensity to consume", you can't spend what you don't have. And having less will program you to consume less of it. People might be somewhat irrational, but we do learn.)

Personally, I think the one lever we should lean the hardest on, all of us, whether mutualists or rothbardians or anarcho-marxists or anarcho-empiricists, is that of Central Banking. It is the cause, directly or indirectly, of most of the evils of modern life. And this immediately cuts off the "but without the government, big business would crush us all" argument dead in it's tracks.
In a world of constantly falling prices, where credit bubbled upwards instead of downwards, there wouldn't be "big business" as we know of it.
It also answers the "social decay" arguments of conservative working class people. It is not that hard to demonstrate how monetary inflation creates moral corruption in society, both of the licentious type, and the empty consumer-culture type. Weimar Germany provides a beautiful historical example to use.
It is a great way to reach out to "ideological cousins" who just can't accept the whole consistent philosophy of anarchism. Let's get rid of central banking first, and then we can mop up the rest.