Archive for the ‘Agora! Anarchy! Action!’ tag
A common objection made by statists about anarchy is that the anarchists would quickly be conquered by a neighboring state. Apparently the only way to defend ourselves from criminal gangs is to have a criminal gang of our own. Except, as Robert Higgs points out, such objections are based on two flawed presumptions:
This thinking presumes at least two critical ideas: first, that defense of a population requires a government that rules that population; and, second, that if a government has the power to take over another country, it will do so.
As for the first assumption, it seems clear that a national government may prove an ineffective means of defense in any event, as many governments have demonstrated through the ages. Moreover, it is certainly conceivable that decentralized measures of defense, such as pervasive guerrilla groups operating more or less independently, might prove effective in preventing a foreign takeover.
As for the second assumption, the persistence of many small countries with weak governments, even in today’s world, certainly calls into question the idea that effectively defenseless countries cannot persist. Surely Brazil has the means to conquer Uruguay, but it does not do so. Surely Germany or France has the means to conquer Belgium, but neither does so. And so forth in regard to many other countries. Governments have various good reasons for refraining from such possible conquests.
The apocalyptic scenario predicted by statists should be playing out today since there are many states easily able to conquer their neighbors. Unless, of course, the statists are claiming that colored pieces of cloth hanging from poles have some kind of magical power to repel invaders. But even if that’s the case, each anarchist in an stateless society could fly their own piece of colored cloth to keep neighboring states off of their property.
The threat of military invasion as a justification for having a state may be one of the flimsiest arguments against anarchism. We have very good examples of a militarily inferior force holding a military superior force at bay in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries in the Middle East and Africa. Hell, the North Vietnamese showed the United States how successful guerrilla warfare is against a militarily superior force. Lacking a formal military doesn’t make a particular chunk of dirt more vulnerable to invasion. If anything, it makes that chunk of dirt more dangerous because there’s no centralized force to take out to break the inhabitant’s will to continue fighting.
Libertarians, especially new ones, often believe that they care about the important issues while everybody else is wasting time on meaningless issues. Important issues include the economic damage done by the Federal Reserve, the iron grip the Republican and Democratic parties have on American politics, the seemingly endless state of unprovoked warfare, and whether or not colleges establish safe spaces for students. Wait, what was that last one?
It’s true. A lot of libertarians have fallen into the trap of what is commonly referred to as the culture wars. I call it a trap because it gets in the way of the struggle for freedom:
Too many liberty advocates are aiming for the easy targets of “political correctness” while taking their sights off of the true enemy of liberty: those with actual political power. This trend has been accelerating for years, probably because culture wars are fun, generate attention and engagement, and have soft and vulnerable targets. By comparison, the real problem of State power – imposed on the whole of society, not just paying students – is much more difficult.
The article ends up falling apart towards the end because it talks about teaming up with potential political allies, of which libertarians have effectively zero (since libertarianism is the antithesis of politics). But the article makes a good point about not falling into culture war traps such as college campus policies and blaming immigrants.
I give new libertarians a lot of leeway because they’re still finding their way. Libertarianism is a deceptively complicated philosophy. On the one hand it has a single rule: don’t initiate aggression. On the other hand that single rule can change everything when you live in a society that is built on initiated aggression. Leonard E. Reed wrote an excellent book titled Elements of Libertarian Leadership. The title describes the content perfectly. But to provide a summary, one of the most important elements of libertarian leadership is living a life that is consistent with libertarianism. Accomplishing that isn’t simple and it requires a great deal of introspection. That introspection takes time. New libertarians haven’t had that time and therefore periodically lose their way (I speak from experience as I too was once new libertarian). But those of us who have been steeping in libertarian philosophy for years should know better.
Us libertarian old hats should be striving every day to live our life consistently with our beliefs. How does one live a life that is consistent with the libertarian principle against initiating aggression? One of the biggest things we can do is divorce ourselves from the State as much as possible. A good example of this in regards to education are homeschoolers and unschoolers. They have taken it upon themselves to divorce themselves and their children from the State’s indoctrination centers. Do the policies of the State’s indoctrination centers matter to somebody who doesn’t go to one? No. As libertarians we shouldn’t get caught up in the policies of government indoctrination centers but should instead be working to divorce ourselves from them as much as possible. People will often cite the fact that many jobs require degrees from government indoctrination centers. To them I ask why the requirements of a company are relevant to an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is yet another tool that can be used to divorce yourself from the State.
Divorcing yourself from the State’s indoctrination system is just one step on a long and difficult journey. Even us older libertarians are still finding our way. Just because we’ve traveled the path longer than the new libertarians doesn’t mean our journey is over. Continuing to travel the path requires us to constantly analyze our lives to see what parts of it are inconsistent with libertarianism and then change those parts. Bitching about the policies of the government’s indoctrination centers won’t accomplish that. Neither will making a litany of excuses to justify said bitching.
State socialism is quickly reaching its inevitable conclusion in Venezuela. The economy is in shambles. The nation’s currency, the bolivar, is in a state of hyperinflation, which makes buying even a loaf a bread with it difficult. While the Venezuelan government scrambles to maintain its control over the people the people are adapting. One of the adaptions they’re making is using an alternative currency, one that is effectively impossible for the Venezuelan government to control. That currency is, of course, Bitcoin:
Amid growing economic chaos, and the highest inflation rate in the world, some Venezuelans are swapping bolivars for bitcoins in order to buy basic necessities or pay their employees
The digital currency is free from central bank or government controls, and users in Venezuela see it as a safe alternative in an economy where the government has enforced strict foreign exchange controls, and inflation is running at an estimated 500%.
This week, Venezuelans rushed to unload 100-bolivar bills – the largest denomination – after the government announced that it would be withdrawn from circulation on Wednesday in what it described as a move against profiteering.
Mainstream economists have been decrying Bitcoin since it started becoming popular. Since the currency isn’t issued by a central bank the mainstream economists have declared it worthless. But the value of Bitcoin continues to rise. When I last checked it was around $800 per Bitcoin. Why does Bitcoin continue to succeed in spite of mainstream economists? Because mainstream economists are fools.
All of the things mainstream economists criticize Bitcoin for are actually important features. Not being controlled by a central bank means that a government can control it. Venezuela can’t just decide to withdraw Bitcoin or print more of it. The fact that there is a cap on the total amount of Bitcoin that will ever exist is also an important feature. Without the ability to print an infinite amount of Bitcoin no government can inflate it. The lack of inflation means that Bitcoin can be a safe method of preserving one’s purchasing power over time (a fancy way of saying savings). Bitcoin’s pseudoanonymity can protect users from the prying eyes of the State, which means it can be used in countries where the State would rather see people starve to death than utilize a currency it isn’t issuing.
Bitcoin’s popularity will likely continue to increase as more national currencies collapse. As its popularity continues to increase the technical limitations, the only valid criticisms against Bitcoin, will continue to be addressed and addressed more rapidly.
I’m sure all of you have heard the phrase divide and conquer. It’s basic wisdom. If you can divide a large united force into multiple smaller groups (preferably groups at odds with each other) it’s easier to conquer each of them one at a time. I feel as though there needs to be an addendum that says unite and rule.
Several of my friends have been circulating this piece by The Daily Show host Trevor Noah. It’s titled Let’s Not Be Divided. Divided People Are Easier to Rule. As the title promises, Mr. Noah tries to make an argument that we must all unite because united people are harder to rule.
I have to call bullshit on that. While divide people may be easier to conquer initially they tend to be harder to rule. Why? Because you have to appeal to each group in order to successfully rule them. But anybody who manages to appeal to one group is likely to put themselves at odds that group’s enemies. When you’re dealing with a united people then you just have one group to please, which generally means you only need to appeal to whatever tribe identity they share.
This is why rulers work so hard to instill nationalism into their people. We see this every day here in the United States. If you can trigger the part of Americans’ monkey brains that deals with their identity as Americans you can get them to roll over for almost anything. Do you want to invade Iraq? Do you have no pretense for doing so? No problem, just convince the people that Iraq is somehow a threat to the United States. Do you want to pass draconian surveillance powers? No problem, just convince the people that those powers will protect the people of the United States. And less somebody think this is unique to the United States, it’s not. It’s a common tactic used throughout history by rulers. Britain, for example, has probably played the nationalism game even better than the United States currently is.
Instilling strong individualism and a small group mentality into people will make them much harder to rule than instilling collectivism and a large group mentality.
I had a blast at AgoraFest but TANSTAAFL and I’m paying for it with a nasty case of plague.
The new venue, for the most part, was better than the old venue in my opinion. The one downside was the lack of shower facilities. There was only two showers, one in the men’s room and one in the women’s room. Next year I’ll bring a solar shower and a small popup shelter for it. There was also a lack of power drops at the campsites but that has encouraged me to look into building a solar generator. They’re actually pretty cheap to setup now that the price of decent solar panels has come down significantly.
On Friday morning I gave a presentation on building AR-15 rifles. After lunch I lead a small expedition to a public range and we did some shooting. Next year, now that I know how good the range facilities are, I’m going to have a more formal shooting event. On Saturday I gave a presentation on assembling a bug out bag, attended and performed a reading at the unveiling of the new agorist short story collection, and gave a short speech about the need for anarchists to become stronger, smarter, and faster than statists.
Some of the other highlights of AgoraFest included the Discordian tent. It was easily identified by a giant inflated golden apple and contained the expected Discordian affairs inside. There was an excellent presentation on astronomy but, sadly, the cloud cover didn’t allow us to do any stargazing. Two individuals were operating small bookstores with fine selections of anarchist literature. One of the attendees brought Arduino boards and held a small introduction course. The agorist space center returned so kids had an opportunity to launch model rockets. And we ended the whole affair with a terrific firework show.
It was a ton of fun and I’m looking forward to next year.
I’m at AgoraFest. Come back next week.
There’s a public range near the new AgoraFest venue. From what I can gather from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ website, a single news article, and satellite images courtesy of Google Maps the range exists and the facilities are decent. I will check the range out on Thursday to verify it can be used and give the go/no-go notice at the planned shooters meeting after lunch on Friday.
If you’re interested in attending the event the details are available at the link.
“Muh roads!” is a libertarian meme started because anytime you discuss eliminating government with a statists they eventually break down and say, “But who will build the roads?” As it turns out, the people who need the roads will build them:
Gangs smuggling goods into Russia have secretly repaired a road on the Belarussian border in order to boost business, the TASS news agency reported Monday.
Smugglers have transformed the gravel track in the Smolensk region in order to help their heavy goods vehicles traveling on the route, said Alexander Laznenko from the Smolensk region border agency. The criminal groups have widened and raised the road and added additional turning points, he said.
The market in action. Having a great product doesn’t do any good if you can’t get it to buyers. That means producers will either build the infrastructure necessary to get their products to consumers or will partner with another producer who is willing to build the infrastructure.
Transportation infrastructure isn’t some magical good that can only be brought into being by the wave of a government wand. Individuals and non-governmental organizations have been building and maintaining roads for a very long time. And they’re still doing it whenever they need a road that isn’t expressly approved of by the State.
It’s getting close the annual weekend of celebrating markets and voluntary interactions. I’m talking of course about AgoraFest.
This year was a bit hectic since our old venue, the Villa Maria, shutdown at the beginning of this year. We had already reserved the site and made our downpayment when we received the news. Fortunately, the Villa staff refunded our downpayment quickly but that still left scrambling to find another site. After a great deal of searching we went with Turtle Creek Glen in Wisconsin. The upside is that the venue is a bit cheaper so we were able to bring the price of admission down. You can enjoy four days, September 22nd through the 25th, of AgoraFest for $95.
What is AgoraFest? As the name implies, it’s a festival of counter-economics. There are talks, workshops, drinking, musicians, and most importantly exchanges. Agorists are encouraged to bring wares and services for sale (your business is your business, not the State’s), skills to teach, and camaraderie. Political types are encouraged to setup their booths and signs in the designated violence speech zone located about 20 miles from the site. Think of AgoraFest as a reprieve from the nonstop politics where real work at creating real change can be done.
This year I’ll be hosting a seminar on build an AR-15 and another one on assembling a bug-out bag. I may do a cryptography talk as well but our networking infrastructure is limited since we’re out in the middle of nowhere. Anybody who wishes to attend and give a talk, host a workshop, or do business (that you want advertised to AgoraFest attendees) should shoot an e-mail to support[at]agorafest[dot]com.
In all regions of the planet having sex is legal. But in many regions being paid to have sex is illegal. Some of those areas to have a caveat where you can legally be paid for sex but you have to be filmed doing it. Either way, governmental restrictions on sex work have made the trade more dangerous. Many sex workers have been relegated to operating under the authority of abusive pimps. However, technology is changing that:
Soon after Kate ran into trouble at the nightclub—like many other fresh-faced high school girls in Hong Kong today—she discovered online forums to run her own business as a sex worker. On HK Big Man and HK Mensa, where ads are proliferating everyday, so-called “compensated daters” offer their services without the help of a middleman.
Bowie Lam Po-yee, who runs an organization called Teen’s Key that provides outreach for these girls, says that it’s common for one girl to find an ad she likes, and then copy it—with just minor adjustments. Then, girls leave their contact information and negotiate where they’ll meet and how much they’ll charge. It’s easier to evade the cops that way: they’re less likely to be caught for solicitation if they’ve checked a client out to see if he’s legitimate. Police can be obvious as to their identity when it comes to brokering a deal over a chat app.
The job of a pimp has been to market out sex workers and they often use their position abusively. Ubiquitous communication technology allows sex workers to market themselves. Forums, smartphones, and chat applications allow sex workers to cut out the middle man, which allows them to keep all of the profits as well as not be reliant on an abusive individuals.
This isn’t just true for sex workers. Online communication technology has also made the drug trade safer. Technology often acts as a balance to the State. When the State makes a market more dangerous by declaring it illegal technology helps make it safe again.