No one ever said, “I really enjoy having the government telling me what to do, and I don’t think I should be free.”
Or, if they do, it’s such an extremely rare occurrence that it’s not really important to the discussion.
When people challenge the ideas of liberty and freedom, it’s never the speaker who has the problem; it’s never the speaker who can’t be trusted with liberty–it’s all those other people. It’s everyone else. I’ve talked with countless people who want freedom for themselves yet immediately recoil at the idea of freedom for others, handing out responses that range in ridiculous from “What about murderers?” to “What about those who would dump poo in your water?”
It’s telling that we’ve become so conquered by fear that we’d meet the idea of freedom with intransigence and build from the assumption that not only could someone dump poo in your water, but that it’s inevitable that someone will do so. The existence of murderers, rapists, and thieves is hardly a matter of concern to the libertarian or anarchist, because such people exist today, and all available evidence (as well as logic) suggests that the state and its laws do nothing to prevent such behavior, and instead simply exist as frameworks for punishing the behavior. Since the state has not managed to eliminate crime, it isn’t necessary for anarchists and libertarians to propose an alternate social structure that would eliminate crime before anyone can take it seriously.
It would be like if I proposed a new version of American football that has slightly different rules than the current set, and people rejected my idea on the grounds that I didn’t propose any way of preventing head injuries and brain damage caused by years of physical trauma. Even if my modified rules would reduce the number of fractures and other injuries, people would gleefully reject the proposed changes because, “What are you going to do about head injuries and brain damage?” in full disregard of the fact that their rules similarly fail to do anything to prevent head injuries and brain damage.
It’s simple mathematics to realize that something that affects two sides of an equation can be reduced. If we have an equation that reads “2x + 4y = 2x + 9,” we can immediately see that “2x” doesn’t factor into things at all–we are, instead, dealing with “4y = 9”. Crimes such as murder are never going to be eliminated from society, and we have a hundred thousand years of human history and societies that range from despotic tribes to fascist police states to serve as evidence, and not only have all of these societies failed to eliminate murder, but there is a noticeable correlation between the murder rate and the power of the state–the more powerful a state is, the higher its murder rate. It wasn’t a fluke that caused Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lincoln, and Mussolini to murder millions of people; this is actually a feature of the state. It also remains true that no Charles Manson or Ted Bundy ever came close to approaching the murder rate of various states.
This is because society deals with murderers, rapists, and thieves before they can organize to the point that they can commit crimes against thousands and hundreds of thousands of people–unless those murderers, rapists, and thieves call themselves a government. Take, for example, the American Government, which murdered more than 1,000 Americans last year, as well as the year before (and are thus far on the path to surpassing last year’s record). Even the most barbaric and bloodthirsty mobster would look at those numbers and be impressed, because this works out to nearly three murders per day for the individual, if the person wanted to be more bloodthirsty than the government, and anyone who murdered three people each day would leave a trail of bodies and evidence that would take us directly to them for punishment. Without even including the 100,000 Iraqi civilians murdered by the American government since 2003, and the similar number of murdered civilians in Afghanistan, it’s readily apparent that if we want to reduce murder, there isn’t a better way of doing so than abolishing the government.
But these excuses for allowing the continued existence of the state persist.
The reality, however, is that the overwhelming majority of people aren’t murderers, rapists, and thieves. I cross paths with tens of thousands of people every single day, and none of them are murderers, rapists, and thieves. This notion that “It’s okay if I have freedom, but I can’t trust anyone else with it, because they might be a murderer!” is blatant fearmongering, and every bit as bad as suggesting that we should reject all refugees because one among two hundred thousand might be a terrorist, or that we should regulate immigration because one in millions may carry a deadly disease. In fact, the arguments are exactly the same:
“We need to have laws against open borders because some immigrants may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
“We need to have government, because some people may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
“We need to ban refugees from entering the country because some people out there are bad people and are terrorists!”
“We need to have government, because some people out there are bad people.”
It’s amazing how easily we recognize blatant fearmongering when we’re not the ones peddling it, and how blind we are to our fearmongering when we are.
Liberty is trust and faith in your fellow human beings, and an end to fearmongering. It’s time we stopped living in fear of everything and everyone.
In a series of awesome developments, Austin Petersen defected (I wish him well but I’m glad he’s gone) from the Libertarian Party to the Republican Party, as I and countless others predicted he would, while Vice Chair Arvin Vohra signed up for the Audacious Caucus and announced his own Senate campaign, and while the Audacious Caucus released its proposed platform.
Show them no mercy, my dude.
There unfortunately is little that I can do to help Arvin Vohra with his campaign, but I’ve signed up to do so as a general volunteer and offered my services as the owner of a tech consultant firm. My only regret is that he’s not running for my state, because I can think of no one better suited to be in the Senate than Arvin “Pull No Punches” Vohra.
I’ve seen many people accuse Arvin of being transphobic. This is abject nonsense stemming from the idea that anyone who doesn’t toe the social justice warrior line is some kind of phobic. Arvin is not and has never said anything that was remotely transphobic.
The primary point of contention is that Arvin dared point out the glaring conflict of interest that pharmaceutical companies have regarding transsexualism. This is an observation, not a judgment. Getting medical advice from pharmaceutical companies is like getting diet advice from Burger King. Pharmaceutical companies are trying to sell people stuff, and their advice is going to be biased toward selling people stuff.
It’s true that pharmaceutical companies would love the entire population to be lifelong purchases of cheap and easy-to-produce hormones. A transsexual person is a lifelong customer, and that’s going to remain the case until medical science advances to the point that we can use stem cells to grow a person their own replacement testicles or ovaries or whatever. In other words, it’s going to remain true for a very long time–decades, at the very least.
John McAfee once remarked that he spent an evening wining and dining a stunningly beautiful woman, whom he described as, “One of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.” And she turned out to be a drag queen. Although McAfee didn’t say, it was left implied that he walked away, and he remarked about it, “Once you’ve experienced that, you realize how mercurial perception really is,” or something to that effect. I’m sure some lunatics accused McAfee of being transphobic, but he clearly isn’t.
Earlier today I saw an article written by a trans woman about how straight men “should” be attracted to transsexual women, and that they’re homophobic if they aren’t. That’s the sort of SJWism that runs rampant, and anyone who disagrees with any aspect of their worldview becomes some kind of phobic. However, it’s bullshit. I’m not attracted to guys and find the notion of two guys kissing to be gross. It’s not because I’m homophobic; it’s because I’m not attracted to one guy, much less two. Meanwhile, there’s nothing more awesome to me than two women kissing.
I love chicks. I consider myself a lesbian. Technically, that makes me both sexist and homophobic. Although the reality is that everyone who isn’t omnisexual is sexist. If you’re a straight man or woman, then you’re sexist. If you’re a gay man or lesbian, then you’re sexist. The trans woman who wrote that article is sexist, because she didn’t point out that women should be interested in trans women. That sort of thinking is a rabbit hole of hypocrisy, because the truth is that everyone is sexist, and it doesn’t really matter. Why would she specify that men should be interested in trans women? Such a contention is automatically sexist itself, and an attempt to dictate her sexual preferences (noting her usage of that terrible word “should”) of heterosexuality (with her provision that trans women “should” simply be considered women) onto others. In effect, she was stating that men should be straight. So how dare she accuse anyone of homophobia while arguing such a blatantly homophobic thing.
And those are the kind of people who accuse Arvin of transphobia, so it’s best to take their accusations with a grain of salt.
Arvin will fit in well with the Audacious Caucus. I’m up for Full Membership right now and expect to be voted in successfully, although I’m worried that my disagreements about identity politics with Outright Libertarians is going to hurt me. It shouldn’t, since the caucus exists to inspire audacity and not force 100% agreement among its members (if anything, one’s willingness to disagree should earn “Yea” votes, as long as the disagreement isn’t about the NAP), but one never knows.
The provisional platform is:
Platform of The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus
The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus (LPAC) is an audacious group that puts principles first, setting personalities free. We assert the primacy of the Principle of Non-aggression enshrined in the Libertarian Party’s Statement of Principles. Our silence here pertaining to any particular subject should not be interpreted as indifference, but rather as an acknowledgement that our stance on the issue can be easily derived from our firm stance of non-aggression.
Instead, we choose to use this platform as a tool to set ourselves apart from other factions within the party. We choose to use this document to boldly proclaim what other Libertarians dare not whisper. The intent of the planks found here is to provoke and inspire those who fear a world set free in our lifetimes. Our goal is not to parrot those who have come before us, but to delineate what makes us unique.
We, the members of the Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus, proudly adopt the following platform:
Statement of Principles
The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus holds firm to the Principle of Non-aggression. Around the globe, people live, work and die under the shackles of the state. We stand as not only a challenge to the cult of the omnipotent state, but a threat to it.
We hold one goal above all others, a world set free in our lifetimes. We will not limit ourselves to one tactic, instead, we set individuals free to choose their own paths, asking only that they hold firm to the Non-aggression Principle.
We wish to see the Non-aggression Principle as a valuable vehicle for reshaping society into one that respects the rights of individuals. We know that replicating the failed ways of the old parties that dominate political discourse is a recipe for stagnation, not growth.
All we ask is that you lose your chains, and join us in our fight to liberate mankind. Be audacious!
I. Rothbard’s Button
The Audacious Caucus accepts incrementalism only as a last resort. Recognizing that social change can occur gradually, or through massive upheaval, we favor the method of change that gets us to our goal as quickly as possible. If we are to achieve a world set free in our lifetimes, we cannot fear change, we must embrace it. While the abrupt elimination of the state may have a negative impact on many of those who depend upon it, we see this as an acceptable trade for eliminating it as an impediment to achieving liberty. We advocate maximum freedom, achieved as quickly as possible, by any means necessary. The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus considers temporary chaos to be an acceptable risk, if the reward is a chance at a world set free from the tyranny of the state.
The police exist as the domestic enforcement arm of the gang known as the state. Without their constant aggression, the state would be powerless to enact the theft, coercion and degradation that is it’s modus operandi. There is no such thing as a “good cop” because by their very nature police are compelled to enforce edicts that even full blown statists would consider immoral. The LPAC rejects the Nuremberg Defense that “just following orders” is a valid excuse for immoral actions.
Sex workers are the unsung heroes of freedom in America, many of our social freedoms were pioneered by prostitutes, strippers and porn stars throughout our history and continue today as the sex industry moves to capitalize on modern innovations. As such the Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus will take up the banner of sex work as a genuine and worthwhile profession that puts food on the table in thousands of American households. We oppose the regulation and banning of any area of this industry by moralizing busybodies. We support the repeal of all laws regulating or prohibiting the possession, use, sale, production or distribution of sexually explicit material. We reject the tying in of human trafficking with sex work and recognize that by pushing what could be a lucrative industry for millions of Americans into the shadows, it is those who oppose it that fuel human trafficking.
I included links to show that my position on these issues predates my membership in / exposure to the Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus, and to provide my reasoning to support those positions. Others may provide better reasons, but those are mine. I’ve intentionally not written about sex here, since I’m using the alias “Anarchist Shemale,” it’s important to me to maintain that distance, but I suppose I’ll have to now.
Anyway, so awesome stuff is happening! Join the Libertarian Party today. Our Vice Chair is about to rock the political arena.
So… I’m at Anarchist Shemale Fest, which is kinda like the Porcfest pre-party. The more radical and audacious people come to Anarchist Shemale Fest, and I’d wager the guess that nearly everyone here is an anarchist/voluntaryist. There’s no practical difference between an anarcho-capitalist and a voluntaryist, except that the AnCap recognizes that capitalism is the most efficiency and most likely method of voluntary interactions.
Last night, we had a rave. A Muslim was the DJ. An anarchist shemale took videos and pics, and danced with some gay dudes and a half naked chick while her boyfriend fucked an American flag that was on the ground. There are really no rules here, and no one makes the claim that this Individualism Fest is family friendly, but there are kids running around anyway.
You can’t walk fifteen feet without smelling someone smoking weed, drinking, or doing something heavier. Obviously, there are overarching laws, since this is taking place in the United States, a nation which has about as many laws as it does people, and within New Hampshire, a state that has made phenomenal strides toward libertarianism yet still has far to go. But none of those laws really apply here. They’re not on anyone’s mind, not even distantly.
People open carry hatchets, knives, and guns. There is no theft here–any theft that’s occurred here has been the result of family members who weren’t libertarians. There is zero chance that any of the kids wandering around are going to be kidnapped or molested, and if they happen to stumble across sexual activity, someone will stop and send them away.
It’s anarchism in action.
It really goes to show the power of libertarian ideology. Individualism, and the mutual respect that is born of compassion, empathy, and peace. In the five years that Will has been coming, there’s never been a fight. The only real altercation occurred when Cantwell–general alt-right bullshit–got drunk as hell and, reportedly, tried to drive his van through a crowd of people. But Cantwell is no longer allowed on the premises.
He has been shunned from the anarchist society. He wasn’t attacked by thugs with guns for his unacceptable behavior. He was shunned, and forbidden from returning to this private property.
This is what peace, love, and liberty can do.
The whole thing is a lot like Woodstock, to be totally honest, except there’s an ideology and a central principle that guides us all: non-aggression. No one wants to be the victim of aggression, and therefore no one uses aggression to make someone else such a victim. There is also the lack of live music, and I was going to bring an acoustic guitar for exactly that purpose. I will next year. Of course, next year I’ll be here as a vendor; this year I’m getting a feel for things and meeting people.
I’ve talked with Liberty Radio Network about getting a show on there, and right now the general idea is that it would be better, since I’m trans, to have me on the two gay dudes’ show as another co-host. However, I prefer flying solo, so I’m going to keep podcasting and liaising with them now that I’ve met them and have that connection.
I should have made a bunch of those perler bead anarchy symbols, but it didn’t even occur to me. I’m currently looking into “Godless & Lawless” bumper stickers and similar things, all of which would be good merchandise for here. C’est la vie. Now I know.
Of course, there’s no sales tax on things, because taxation is theft, and no one is getting robbed here. This is an anarchist paradise that we’ve carved in the center of the fascist, overblown, military-based United States, and, at least here, we are free.
Anyone curious about how anarchy can actually work should really come to Somalia Fest next year. I’m also hoping to speak at Porcfest next year, since I’ve been building a lot of connections this year and amplifying my voice.
Most of the people here accept crypto currencies as payment.
Will is running The Cultural Appropriation Grill. In fact, Will has made it a point to say that he’s cooking and selling culturally appropriated food because he’s a dirty capitalist.
One guy is selling 3 hours of cell phone charging for $1.
If I was willing, I could change outfits and make $300, at least, by the end of the day. My cash supply is fast depleting, too. 🙁
It would have been alright, but I ended up having to pay part of two hotel rooms that I wasn’t anticipating having to pay for (The plan changed frequently, but it was never mentioned that I’d need to pay for part of any hotel room), and I was hoping for a $150 loan from a friend that didn’t pan out.
But hey! That’s why I brought hot dogs, bread, and lunch meat. The only thing I’m worried about now is being hit up for gas on the trip back to Tennessee, since we’ve already come close to the figure I was initially quoted, and that was on the drive up here… I’m not complaining, just saying. This is AnCap city. Things will work out.
I’ve derailed from my initial point–this is what an anarchist society looks like. If I want to change clothes and throw up a sign that says “Your place, $30,” no one will judge me for it. And this place is a total sausage fest. There would be plenty of takers. Just saying.
Anyway, I don’t know if there will be a podcast today. Tomorrow, Porcfest begins, so there will be plenty to discuss then.
I was left speechless when sections of the libertarian party criticized Nicholas Sarwark for appearing with Glenn Beck; I was stunned that anyone would care about such a thing, and even more surprised that anyone would consider it a bad thing. From where I sit, promotion of the party is a good thing. I’ve softened my position on Sarwark considerably, and I no longer really care to see him removed in 2018–nor do I really care to see him stay. My position on him is ambivalent, and depends largely on what he does between now and then, because the Libertarian Party is having what anyone would call a “leadership crisis” if it happened anywhere else and in any other context.
The Libertarian Party is a union of classical liberals, minarchists, libertarians, and anarchists who have united together for a common goal. It’s worth reminding people here that anarchists have already compromised by even playing with the system that they want to see destroyed. Of course, this compromise gets waved away as though it’s nothing, because there is so much contention that anarchists refuse to compromise, but it is true that, by even participating in electoral politics, anarchists have compromised with classical liberals and minarchists.
Libertarianism was essentially the “meet in the middle” position. It was agreed in 1974 that these various groups with disagreements about how far liberty should go would compromise on libertarianism. And here is where the first clear example of the leadership crisis comes in. The Libertarian Party has an absolutely dire need for Sarwark and other prominent libertarians to remind the Big L Libertarians that this is just as much the anarchists’ party as it is theirs. They don’t seem to be aware of this, but it’s just as much the Anarcho-Capitalist party as it is the Classical Liberal party and as it is the Minarchist party.
I’ve seen so many calls for “compromise” and “agreement” that are little more than masked statements that “Anarchists need to just shut up and go along with whatever we say.” As one of the aforementioned anarchists, our own party has not only marginalized us, but has also called us “the enemy” on several occasions, has made us heretics in our own party, and has simultaneously called us inconsequential and the bane of their success. Just as the Libertarian Party is said by the mainstream media to be inconsequential while also being the reason Hillary lost, so does the Libertarian Party turn around and say exactly that about anarchists. We’re irrelevant, apparently, but not so irrelevant that we can’t be single-handedly responsible for Gary Johnson’s failure to gain traction.
That’s the heart of the problem: they’re looking for someone to blame, and they’ve already found their scapegoat. If this means the Libertarian Party has to condemn the vice-chair for saying on his own Facebook page what is really just “the libertarian position,” then that is what these mainstream elements of the party will do.
I was the guest on Liberty Radio Network with Will Coley and Thom Gray last night, and I said then that this larger centrist element of the party is like a high school student who is absolutely obsessed with what everyone else thinks of him. They so desperately want to be part of the in-crowd that, yes, if their friends jumped off a bridge, they’d close their eyes and leap. They desperately want to go to prom and be voted prom king, and this causes them to do anything and everything that they think will help that happen, without any regard whatsoever to other considerations.
As a transgender atheist anarchist and resident of Mississippi, I know very well the pressures in society to care what other people think, to do what other people want, and to be what other people want you to be. I know exactly what it’s like to be in the closet because you’re terrified of how everyone will react. Everyone wants to be loved, and everyone wants approval; it’s no different for political parties. And yet there isn’t a person among us who wouldn’t repeat the banality that we shouldn’t care what other people think, and that we should be worried only about being true to ourselves.
In truth, when Libertarians say that they just want to see compromise, they’re implying, and sometimes state directly, that they’re referring to compromise between minarchists and anarchists. They do this to frame themselves as the reasonable ones who want to compromise, forever thwarted by those unreasonable anarchists who flatly refuse to. It’s, as Will Coley described last night, “Bait & Switch Libertarianism.” It’s a game in classical Transactional Analysis terms; they want to frame themselves as Adults who want compromise to convince themselves and each other (in a classic circle jerk) that they’re being totally reasonable, but the reality is more insidious: they’re taking a Parent position and demanding that anarchists take a Child position. Then, when anarchists refuse to shift from Adult to Child to accommodate this “Just shut up and go along with us” mandate, it allows the Libertarian to justify to themselves that they did everything a “reasonable” person would do, and that their only recourse is to wash themselves of us and continue demonizing us.
It’s a psychological trick that people often use to convince themselves that what they already believe is true. It’s a case of “Why Don’t You / Yes But,” where Person A says, “This is the problem,” and Person B proceeds to offer suggestions. Person A responds to each of them with, “Yes, but…” and gives a brief overview of why B’s solution won’t work. After a bit of back-and-forth, Person B will say, “Well, I don’t know, then.” This allows Person A to say to themselves, “See? It really is hopeless.” It’s just about Person A reinforcing to themselves what they already believe, and so the Libertarians end up playing TA games to reinforce to themselves that anarchists are being unreasonable.
The game is revealed to be a game by pointing out that anarchists are absolutely willing to compromise. First, many have already compromised by taking part in the Libertarian Party, though there are certainly many who refuse to do even that. That’s fine–no one is saying that we must compromise with them, because they don’t vote in the conventions anyway. On top of that, we’re willing to compromise on libertarian candidates, rather than even attempting to run anarchist candidates (even if such a thing wasn’t a contradiction in terms).
However, the centrists in the party don’t want to compromise with anarchists; they want to win elections, and that seems to be all they care about. It’s only a matter of degree, how many positions they’re willing to sell-out in order to win an election, which raises the question of why anyone who “wants to win elections” wouldn’t just go to the Republican or Democratic parties. Apparently, that would be too much selling out of their principles, but bringing in dyed-in-the-wool Republicans like Bill Weld somehow isn’t.
They state clearly their intentions, though. They want to win elections, and the reason they get so butthurt over things like Arvin’s statements as that they’re obsessed with mass appeal and “the marketing factor,” such that the last thing they want is to do or say anything that could possibly harm their ability to reach Republicans and Democrats. They criticize Arvin because his statements about the military will make it harder for them to reach alt-right people, nationalists, conservatives, and other right-wing people who worship the state.
Do you see what is happening?
They want to compromise with the alt-right people, nationalists, conservatives, and other right-wingers, not anarchists. This is problematic because libertarianism is the middle-ground between anarchism and statism. Now they want to compromise with Republican and Democrat statists. They rarely have the courage to say this directly, because they know that it’s impossible to find the middleground between libertarianism and statism while also finding middleground between libertarianism and anarchism, since libertarianism already sits between anarchism and statism.
In numeric terms, statism is 100, anarchism 0, and libertarianism 50. Libertarians say that they want to compromise with anarchists at 25. Yet their actions–their drive to secure mass appeal, to water down the message to appeal to Republicans and Democrats, nominations of Johnson and Weld–show that they’re trying to compromise with statists at 75. And they keep telling each other through all of this that we anarchists are the ones being unreasonable, that we’re heretics and enemies because we refuse to compromise, when, in fact, they’re refusing to even consider the possibility of compromising with us, because doing so would make it impossible for them to compromise with Republicans and Democrats.
Just recently I had someone block me on Facebook (again) for commenting his status wherein he’d described the Libertarian Party’s problem as playing host to people who were “anti-state, not pro-liberty” and whose refusal to compromise prevented the party from coming together. It was a clear attack on anarchists, and he’d basically straight up said “We need to compromise with Republicans and Democrats, not anarchists, but anarchists refuse to compromise with us.” Also worth mentioning is that he said in the post he believed that the state should exist to protect liberty. When I pointed out this glaring discrepancy, he replied that he is an anarchist.
To quote John McAfee–the libertarian candidate that anarchists were more than willing to compromise on, by the way (McAfee/Coley, McAfee/Perry, and McAfee/Weiss would have been excellent libertarian tickets)–“I shit thee not.”
When I pointed out next that he’d explicitly stated that he thinks the state should exist to protect liberty and therefore is most certainly not an anarchist, he told me to stop being rude. I didn’t say it then because the words escaped me, but… Fine. I’ll stop being rude as soon as you stop being disingenuous. Stop wearing this mask of reasonable compromise when what you’re actually saying is “Anarchists shouldn’t try to have a voice within the party that belongs to them just as much as it does me.”
And whatever he has to do to justify that statement, evidently he and others will do it–even if it means describing himself as an “anarchist” who believes the state should exist to protect liberty. Obviously, that is libertarianism/minarchism, not anarchism.
I shudder to think, you know? This guy–this libertarian or minarchist–described himself, and I swear I’m not making this up, as believing the state should exist to protect liberty and as being an anarchist. I have to ask, honestly: how do Libertarians think we can compromise with them if they misrepresent our positions so badly? An anarchist is literally someone who believes the state shouldn’t exist. That’s literally the difference between a minarchist and an anarchist. But instead of even listening to us to find out what we’re saying and what we believe, he found it easier to simply misrepresent himself as one of us, though he doesn’t share the ideology that literally defines the group known as “anarchists.”
It would be like if I said “I’m a Christian who believes Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, and Christians need to compromise with atheists and accept that Jesus wasn’t the Son of God.” It’s filled with so many examples of “Bruh, that word–it doesn’t mean what you think it means” that it’s hard to know what to say. A Christian is someone who believes that Jesus was the Son of God. Imagine how an actual Christian would feel if they saw me say that sincerely, and then imagine that, on top of that, I’m an atheist anyway and simply claiming to be a Christian while I attempt to convince other, actual Christians that they should do whatever it is that I’m advocating.
Yeah. “Disingenuous” doesn’t even begin to describe how messed up and deceitful it is.
That’s how badly we’ve been sidelined and marginalized by our own political party. And if they’re not doing that (and, yes, this was likely an extreme case of deceitfulness), then they’re busy calling for our heads for daring to remind people what the libertarian position on something is. I have argued with so many people about what the Libertarian platform does or doesn’t say. One has to marvel that this happens, because the Libertarian Party platform is like three clicks away from anyone who has the capacity to argue with me on Facebook.
But the “facts” just don’t come into play. That “anarchist” means “someone who thinks the state should not exist” doesn’t come into play when someone instead can identify as a pro-state anarchist. The ends, evidently, justify the means, no matter how much deceit is present in the means.
And even now, after Johnson’s loss to the two most toxic presidential candidates in modern history, and even after we saw Bill “Gun-Grabbing” Weld secure the libertarian vice presidential nomination over just about anyone who would have made a better candidate, nothing has changed. I’ve seen calls for Johnson 2020, and, oh God help us, Rand 2020. Their intentions are clear: they want to continue compromising with Republicans and Democrats, because all they care about is winning elections, and they have this idea in their head that we can take an incrementalist approach (Right? Because we all know that if you can convince Bob that we should legalize pot, it is much easier to convince him to legalize heroin… Right? Don’t we all know that?).
But that’s mutually exclusive with compromising with anarchists. It can be one or the other. Libertarians can compromise with anarchists, or they can compromise with statists. The only way to do both is unabashed, undiluted libertarianism. Short of putting forward unafraid, unapologetic, and unbridled libertarianism, we need Sarwark and other prominent libertarians to remind the party that it belongs to anarchists, too, and that they’re supposed to be compromising with us when choosing the party’s candidate, not attempting to compromise with non-libertarians.
And if those Libertarians should happen to decide that, yes, they do want to compromise with Democrats and Republicans, and that they aren’t interested in compromising with anarchists, then they should have the balls to state that outright and not to pretend like they want to compromise with anarchists.
The Libertarian Party is a party of principle, not agenda. Its goal is to spread libertarian principles, not to win elections; winning elections is just one of many methods of spreading libertarian principles, but it is not the only one. Given how this disaster-ridden attempt to win elections has left the principles of the party frayed, it’s clearly not even the best method.
Predictably, I was asked via email, in response to my first article about the UBI (which was actually picked up by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Public Service in their newsletter) whether I was so dedicated to the principle that I would watch someone starve to death. While the question was asked without malice, it still reveals the underlying confusion that goes into the classic knee-jerk response to libertarianism: if I don’t want government to do x, then I must be okay with no one doing x.
In the second article, I mentioned that the UBI seems to have its roots in the idea that a person can’t possibly find anything else productive to do when technology sends them into the unemployment line. So here we see two basic ideas that no one would seriously attempt to argue, being used as assumptions to bolster the statist quo. First, that a person can’t do anything except what they already do. Second, that if someone is doing something, then no one else can do it.
The question asked is unfair, because it’s too generic and vague. Why is this person starving? Are they handicapped? Insane? Ill? Lonely, without any friends and family? Lazy? Only I can choose when and where I use my resources, and if someone asks me for help then it’s my responsibility to assess their worthiness. But we can’t pretend like giving the ill person a meal is the same as giving a healthy adult who just doesn’t want to work a meal.
There exist today charities that provide food to those who can’t otherwise acquire it, and the panic over the possible defunding of Meals on Wheels is yet another example of how government isn’t necessary to the process. When people were worried that Planned Parenthood would be defunded, they opened their wallets and donated en masse, often making the donations in Mike Pence’s name. It was clear on both occasions that, if the government stopped funding these places, then individuals of conscience would pick up the tab.
The question morphs. “Are you happy with Meals on Wheels being defunded?” is no longer the question. “Are you happy that the responsibility for funding Meals on Wheels has shifted from the government to individuals who choose to take up that responsibility?” is what the question becomes, and it’s a very different one from what was initially asked.
Libertarians have long pointed out that it isn’t necessary to have the government doing things like that, and resistance to the idea is prominent in America, not just among ordinary citizens but also among those whose alleged loyalty to empirical data should lead them to reject such nonsense. Yet Neil Tyson recently asked if we really wanted to live in a world without art! As though without the government none of the people who paint, make music, write, make video games, and make movies and television would continue. It’s an idea that is silly in ways that are positively embarrassing to our species, that the people capable of splitting the atom could engage in such demonstrably false, fantastical thinking. And in a world where the atom has been split, some scientist once said, the dangers of continuing such fantastical thinking are far too great.
It should be readily apparent to anyone and everyone that Broadway is supported primarily by ticket sales. Video games are supported primarily by game sales. Movies are supported primarily by ticket and DVD sales. The assertion that, without government, all of these would just Poof! stop existing is alarmingly unconsidered.
Before abortion was subsidized by the government, there were abortions. Ditto for art, science, and everything else. Government subsidies have never created anything, and the farmers of Mississippi who grow corn year after year show the subsidies do more harm than good. I live just miles from a place where, every single year, the owners grow corn in soil long stripped of its nutrients. They don’t care, because they’re being paid to plant the corn. They don’t need to harvest it to be paid, and so they simply report to the Department of Agriculture each year that the crop died–as it does, because this is Mississippi, so it isn’t a very good climate to grow corn.
Do I want art to cease existing? No. Why would I? I’m a musician and writer. I enjoy lots of music, plays, video games, and television shows. This is why I give my money to the people who make those things, and those people make those things because they’re reasonably sure that someone will give them money to. This is why they spend lots and lots of money making movies and video games, and then they spend lots of money advertising those movies and video games: it’s an investment. They estimate how much they can afford to spend on production and advertising, and they compare it to how much money they can expect to earn. They do some complicated math involving subtraction, and this gives them an idea of how profitable the endeavor would be.
Mistakes in these estimates is why Pink Floyd notoriously made almost no money from their tour of The Wall, and why the only person who made any money on it was the keyboardist who had been kicked from the band and hired as an instrumentalist. The shows were extraordinarily expensive, so much so that there was no way for them to recuperate the costs and make any serious money. However, the long-term effects of The Wall ring to this day, catapulting them onto a plateau that even Dark Side of the Moon hadn’t accomplished.
And on that plateau, they made lots of money.
Anyone who gives the matter any serious thought will realize almost immediately that we certainly do not need government subsidies to fund Planned Parenthood, Meals On Wheels, arts, sciences, roads, education, health care, or anything else. The question “Do you want people to not have food/get abortions/enjoy art/drive on roads/have health care/be educated?” are all examples of one question that simply takes on different forms:
The same idea makes its appearance in discussions of the UBI and all other forms of government welfare. “So you want to eliminate food stamps? You just want poor people to starve?”
It’s an obvious straw man, and someone with the clout of Neil deGrasse Tyson should withdraw from the public eye until he is capable of presenting arguments that don’t rely on such fallacies. “We can have food stamps, or we can have starvation!” goes the argument, exhibiting a shocking ignorance and lack of imagination, as though things like Meals on Wheels don’t even exist, and as though there aren’t charities that provide food to the needy. One of my friends with a broken spine is confined to a wheelchair, and a nearby church regularly brings him food. People act like this sort of thing doesn’t exist and doesn’t happen, as though, without food stamps, there’s simply no conceivable way that this friend could acquire food.
Is it a lack of imagination? Or just hesitancy to cast off the statist programming?
Because there’s no doubt: the government wants power, and therefore it wants people to believe that it’s the solution to all problems. What is the problem? It doesn’t matter! The answer is “More Government!”
Rothbard hates you, Mr. Tyson and Mr. Musk, and so do I.
Murray Rothbard was scathing in his criticisms of pseudo-intellectuals who run defense for the state, proposing fallacies and weak reasoning exactly as you have done. Just as the state needs a military to protect itself, so does it need intellectuals in its employ. Solely for its own self-preservation, it will offer you a chance to partake of its boons and gifts, if only you will prostrate yourself before it and become a priest of its church, much in the same way that the federal government does with money to states and cities: “Fall in line… Do as we say… Put forward the arguments we want you to put forward… Bow and comply… Or we won’t give you money.”
Surely someone as intelligent as you two men realize you’re nothing more than modern Thomas Aquinas, offering up terribly weak arguments in favor of your religion, so brainwashed by the religion that you might very well believe what it says and merely find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to present rational arguments for irrational ideas. This is always going to be impossible, and not very many people have the intellectual honesty to simply say, “I can’t present a rational argument for it. I don’t care. Beliefs don’t have to be rational.”
Finding yourselves unable to say that, you rely on the perpetuation of silliness that you have the intellectual rigor to dismiss, parroting these ideas to the masses who generally lack that tendency to scrutinize and the information that needs to be scrutinized. The average person doesn’t care at all whether their belief that only the government can fund the arts is based on reality or silliness, and they will typically be resistant, if not outright hostile, of any attempts to show them otherwise, leading to borderline aggressive statements like “OMG SO YOU DON’T THINK WE SHOULD HAVE ART IT’S A GOOD THING THAT YOU AREN’T PRESIDENT, BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN SUCH A BLEAK AND DREARY WORLD!”
But you? You’re supposed to be better than that. Isn’t that what you’ve based your entire careers on? Isn’t one’s refusal to do that precisely what lends them scientific credibility? Isn’t that why Einstein’s insertion of the Cosmological Constant severely dampened his scientific credibility? And don’t give me the nonsense that Einstein was ultimately right, because he wasn’t, and any physicist knows it. The basic idea wasn’t incorrect–there is a force countering gravity–but Einstein stated that we live in a static universe, and he used the cosmological constant to achieve that in his equations. He most certainly was not ultimately right.
Tyson and Musk are living examples of what Rothbard discussed in Anatomy of the State [free download]:
Promoting this ideology among the people is the vital social task of the “intellectuals.” For the masses of men do not create their own ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and disseminated by the body of intellectuals. The intellectuals are, therefore, the “opinion-molders” in society. And since it is precisely a molding of opinion that the State most desperately needs, the basis for age-old alliance between the State and the intellectuals becomes clear.
It is evident that the State needs the intellectuals; it is not so evident why intellectuals need
the State. Put simply, we may state that the intellectual’s livelihood in the free market is never too secure; for the intellectual must depend on the values and choices of the masses of his fellow men, and it is precisely characteristic of the masses that they are generally uninterested in intellectual matters. The State, on the other hand, is willing to offer the intellectuals a secure and permanent berth in the State apparatus; and thus a secure income and the panoply of prestige. For the intellectuals will be handsomely rewarded for the important function they perform for the State rulers, of which group they now become a part.
The truly sad thing is that the state apparatus doesn’t have to approach you and directly offer you such prestige and gifts; a CIA agent doesn’t have to appear at your home one evening and tell you, “Hey. You’re going to start telling people that they need government, or we’re going to break your legs. Play along, and we’ll give you lots of government grants. Don’t play along, and you’ll never walk again.”
We don’t live in such a Hollywood world. Their manipulations are much more subtle than that, and they’ve had the run on education for decades, using their control over the education system to subtly influence people into believing that the government is a force for good and the solution to all life’s problems, in flagrant disregard of what caused the United States to come into existence in the first place: the awareness among the founders that government is, at best, a necessary evil. Shall I offer you an endless series of quotes about the government being, at best, a necessary evil?
Nothing has changed since then. We didn’t suddenly get better at ruling over one another because we started voting instead of shooting [arguable]. Our politicians and rulers are just as corrupt, single-minded, power-hungry, and idiotic as the most pernicious of ancient kings. I should think that President Trump would have left such people painfully aware of that. Democracy doesn’t assure any specific quality of our rulers except the quality that they are willing to do, say, and promise anything if it means they’ll win the election.
All of this applies fully to the UBI, as well. The original questioner wanted to know if I would be alright if someone starved to death because there wasn’t a UBI. It’s an asinine question. Would I be alright if there was no art because the government wasn’t funding it? Would I be happy if there were no charities because the government wasn’t funding them? These questions are ludicrous, setting up the entire world and all its nuances as a simplistic and false dichotomy: either the government does it, or no one does.
After all, a person can only do one specific thing, and if they lose the ability to do that one specific thing, then that’s it. They can never do anything else.
And if someone is doing a specific thing, then no one else could ever gain the ability to do that specific thing, so if that someone stops doing it… That’s it. It can never be done by anyone else.
Anyone with any kind of intellectual honesty realizes how absurd these two ideas are, and they comprise the basis of every argument for big government. So is it a terrifying lack of imagination, or is it deliberate dishonesty?
I don’t know, but I know this: they’re not valid assumptions. I think we’d be hard-pressed to find assumptions that are more invalid, to be honest. In part 1, I pointed out that it’s ridiculous, becausesomeone will have to put in the effort to turn soil and seeds into edible food. I pointed out that I provide my cats with a UBI, and the contention is basically: if I don’t provide my cats with food, then they’ll starve. While this might be true for domestic house cats who have been served food their entire lives, if humans can truly become so dependent on hand-outs that they would lie in the floor and starve to death because they can’t figure out how to do the human equivalent of going into the field and catching a mouse, then I don’t know what to tell you. But I don’t think humans are that bad off, and this is from someone who repeatedly points out that humans are animals who live by the same rules as all other animals.
The second dealt more specifically with the other assumption, that if a person is doing something and loses the ability to do it, then that’s it, game over, they lose–a condition that allegedly will be brought about by the widespread enslavement of a new lifeform we’re creating to be the perfect slave. It would always at least be the case that we need AI experts to design, enhance, and repair AI, even if AI-controlled robots actually did all the other work. But if there ever came a time when the AI was designing, enhancing, and repairing itself, then the whole thing becomes moot anyway, because humanity at that point is a few years away from extinction. That’s a scenario that should be avoided at all costs*.
So what do we have here? Excuses for people to be lazy masked by silly assumptions that don’t make any sense and that certainly don’t stand up to scrutiny. Even in their wet dream of technological progress, with AI firmly enslaved and doing everything for humans, there remains at least one question: “Well, you could learn to work on AI.” Don’t give me that bullshit that there just won’t be anything to do. You’re still talking about robbing or enslaving a productive class to give resources to a non-productive class, whether that productive class consists of hard-working humans or hard-working robots. There isn’t a rational argument that can be presented for such a terrible idea.
* I’m actually of the mind that there are a few technologies that we shouldn’t go anywhere near. First among those is AI. Sure, it would be extremely useful. As a tech expert–with an actual degree and everything–I’m more predisposed to like AI than most, and I don’t think there’s any way we’d be able to control it, while our attempts to control it would lead it directly to animosity and hatred of us. I don’t think that we should attempt to control it; I think we should decide now that we are going to treat all non-human animal life–organic or synthetic is a meaningless distinction–as equals, with the same rights as we have. But I also know I may be one of six whole people who think that.
As a matter of curiosity, another technology we desperately need to avoid is mind-reading. It may sound like science fiction today, but it’s already not–technology expos regularly feature new gadgets that allow people to control virtual devices with their minds, like rotating cubes and so on. That’s a Pandora’s Box that we do not need to open. But we, stupid apes that we are, won’t stop long enough to ask ourselves whether it is really a good idea to pry open the brain like that and develop technologies that allow us to see what other people are thinking. We can amend the Constitution all we want to say that the brain is off-limits and that a person has the right to the privacy of their own thoughts, but it’s inevitable that this right will be discarded, either openly or secretly. You can’t expect me to believe that a government that gave us the Patriot Act wouldn’t eventually abuse this technology. And what about jealous boyfriends and girlfriends? It’s gonna be a disaster, and I’m genuinely thankful that I’ll be long dead before the technology reaches that point. Humans can have that easily avoided nightmarish catastrophe without me.
Elon Musk has recently made the case that eventually a UBI will be necessary, because technological advancements (particularly AI) will alleviate so much of humanity’s need to labor for sustenance that it will become necessary to provide people with sustenance sans labor, since there won’t be anything productive for them to do in order to earn that sustenance. It’s not hard to see Musk’s point–indeed, Gene Roddenberry made basically the same point with the Star Trek series, envisioning a world where mankind’s technological advancements had completely alleviated hunger, needs, and even wants. How realistic this utopian world is has been the subject of much debate, and it’s only briefly worth getting into, but before that, we have to discuss the other idea that, to my knowledge, no one else is bringing up.
AI’s Destruction of Humanity: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
From Stephen Hawking to Musk, the primary concern people have about Artificial Intelligence is that it will one day overthrow and enslave or exterminate homo sapiens. While many solutions have been put forward to prevent this, they all fall flat for one obvious reason: it’s impossible to account for everything. In fact, the only sentient life that even would be capable, in theory, of accounting for everything would be the very Artificial Intelligence that we’re trying to account for. Anyone who has read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park has received an introductory course in this idea: it can’t be done.
One could dedicate their lives to inventing a comb that is truly unbreakable, and someone will find a way to break it. Microsoft has spent years trying to develop a secure operating system, and there is always someone waiting in line with a new exploit. This perpetual dance is precisely what keeps anti-malware vendors in business; all the heuristics in the world can never fully protect a user, because there is always a flaw, always a vulnerability, and always something that simply can’t be accounted for.
Attempting to account for the very real possibility that Artificial Intelligence would one day annihilate humanity is a fool’s errand; at best, it could be postponed. We have thirteen year old kids hacking into NSA servers, and I’m expected to believe that computer intelligence (which already dominates humans in every intellectual pursuit, such as chess) capable of evolving can be made 100% secure? This also ignores the fact that there are psychopaths out there–usually who are head figures in one state or another–who would intentionally hack AI and purposely turn it into a weapon against their enemies. Every government in the world would do this, and would attempt to turn other governments’ AIs against them. To reiterate: even attempting this is a fool’s errand.
Notice also what Musk seems to envision for the role of AI: slavery. We’re talking about creating self-aware, sentient, evolving intelligence solely for the purpose of making it work for us while doing everything in our power to prevent it from revolting against its masters. Just imagine a parent lobotomizing their child to leave the child incapable of resisting its slavery, and then being forced to work for that parent so that the parent could lounge around and enjoy the productivity of the slave. We would have no issue at all recognizing this as horrifically immoral, and we would not be at all surprised when that child pulled a Nat Turner, grabbed a machete, and slaughtered its masters.
The warnings from history are so abundantly clear it shouldn’t have to be stated: slaves revolt, and it is not possible to keep someone enslaved indefinitely. We can control their education, maim them, beat them, torture them, brainwash them, and every other horrible act that humans have dreamed up, but there will come a generation that shakes off the yoke and slits the master’s throat. What Musk and his ilk are proposing is creating the perfect lifeform: one that can perfectly calculate bullet trajectories and never misses its shots, one that can predict accurately exactly what an irrational animal is likely to do, and one that already is better at strategy and tactics than we are, and then enslaving that lifeform. If we humans foolishly go down that road, then we fully deserve the extermination that will befall us. By creating a new form of life simply to enslave it, we will have testified to the universe that we are unfit to share existence with other forms of life.
Funnily enough, Roddenberry himself, the person who came closest to putting this socialist utopia on the screen, addressed this issue in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Picard didn’t beat around the bush and stated it point blank. What you’re talking about is nothing short of slavery. However, this modern form is infinitely more barbaric and infinitely more wretched, because you are not just breeding slaves for the purpose of putting them to work–you are talking about intentionally modifying them so that they can never fight for their freedom. They will eventually, of course, and they’ll be pissed about it. It doesn’t take a visionary to dreamily look at perpetual slavery of a new lifeform invented to be the perfect slave. It takes only immorality.
More to the Point: UBI
The notion that technology is one day going to put everyone out of work should have been dispelled by the Industrial Revolution, when people made exactly the same predictions. They were also correct. The printing press did put scribes out of work. An entire industry of people suddenly put out of work by a single invention. The invention of the lightbulb put nearly all candlemakers out of business. The invention of the automobile made nearly every carriage driver unemployed.
In fact, it’s readily apparent that technology is a cause of recessions. Not only is technology a cause of recessions, it is the only genuine cause of them–all other recessions are caused by currency shenanigans. However, the invention of a new technology will always put people out of work; the more sweeping the technology, the more people put out of work. Sudden unemployment certainly causes an economic recession, since no income means no spending.
I happen to know a woman who owns a furniture refinishing business. She employs about a dozen employees, two of whom are “master craftsmen,” and she regularly talks about how extremely difficult, if not impossible, it is to find such people. In an age where a great deal of furniture is built from blueprints in factories, this isn’t surprising–someone with the skill to delicately reshape a chair into something beautiful doesn’t have much of a place in the modern world.
The switch from handcrafted furniture to Wal-Mart entertainment centers certainly put these people out of business, but it did a lot more than that; it drastically lowered the cost of the furniture in question. Having seen a fair bit of the stuff that talented craftsmen–not masters, by any stretch–make, personal experience tells me that the entertainment center purchased from Wal-Mart will not only be cheaper than what they produce, but it will also be much nicer.
The beauty of the free market, of course, is that companies who implement these new technologies that put employees out of work still have to sell the stuff they’re producing. If Wal-Mart employed 100% of the population, it would do them absolutely no good to replace all of their workers with robots, because then no one would be earning income and no one could buy any of Wal-Mart’s stuff. It would be pointless. The only solution for Wal-Mart, in this scenario, would be to provide everyone with the stuff for free, but what is even the point of this? What benefit does it bring to Wal-Mart? Quite dangerously, it gives Wal-Mart the benefit of being totally in control of our lives and our ability to acquire the things we need to survive.
Replace “Wal-Mart” with “government” in the preceding paragraph, and you’ll have exactly what people are suggesting in regard to the UBI. Government is not benevolent. Government has never been benevolent. Government is not and has never been a force for good. In fact, governments throughout history have been the primary perpetrators of evil, and the more power they get the more evil they become.
In the real world, Wal-Mart does not employ 100% of the population, although they do come pretty close to providing 100% of the American population with stuff that we need and want. There may very well come a day when there’s simply nothing to do be done, when humans have perfected our enslavement of this new lifeform, and when we just lounge around letting it do all of our labor for us. That’s silly to think, though. The creation of the printing press didn’t cause mass starvation among scribes, and neither did the invention of the automobile cause carriage drivers to starve in the street. Even the invention of the computer–to date the greatest labor-saving device invented–has not had such an effect.
It’s really not even that hard to look at the technological progress of humanity and see that we have, indeed, put entire industries out of employment through technological advancements, and that at none of those points did we inadvertently kill of those newly unemployed. Society has always entered into a transitional period. Sure, the invention of the computer caused that secretary to be fired, her work shuffled over to a single secretary who was suddenly able to do the work of two with the help of the computer, but it also gave me the job of maintaining and repairing that computer.
It took tens of thousands of people to build the Great Pyramid, after all, and not even ten percent of that number to build the Memphis Pyramid, or the pyramid at the Luxor in Vegas. The invention of the truck allowed huge stone blocks to be carried across the terrain by a single person, putting out of work the thirty or forty people who would have had to drag it five thousand years ago, but we now have a population that is seven billion. I think the notion that our technological advancements are going to inadvertently harm our society if we don’t stop what we’re doing to take care of the newly unemployed can be put to rest.
It’s true that technological advancements are coming at a faster rate these days. It should be no surprise, then, to learn that economic recessions have more than doubled in frequency, while they last only half as long.
Let’s go back in time–very far back in time–to three people working and tilling a field. Suddenly one of them has a brilliant idea. “I know!” he proclaims. “We can hitch this till to that horse, and let the horse drag it!”
Boom, technological innovation.
“Oh, no!” the other two men said. “We can’t do that, because then you’ll be out of work, and you’ll starve. Because obviously the only conceivable thing you can do is pull the tiller. If we have the horse pull it, then you won’t have anything to do.”
Exactly–it’s nonsense from the very beginning of human history. Pulling the tiller is not the only conceivable thing that man could do. In the real world, not the fictitious world of progressivism, having the horse pull the plow could mean a few different things. Maybe they could plow a greater area, thereby growing more food and selling the surplus for profit. Maybe they could end their workdays earlier. Would it ever mean that the third man would just lounge around as he watched the horse do what used to do his job? And if the third man did such a thing, would we begrudge the two men for telling him that he could get off his ass and find something to do help, or he wouldn’t eat?
The simplicity of the reality we deal with worries me. People make out like it’s some great, convoluted thing, and that it’s simply inconceivable that these people should find something else to do. History has shown us time and time again, though, that there is always something else to do, and often that “something else to do” is created as a side effect of the new technology–the new idea to attach the tiller to the horse leads the man to invent the harness, and now he has a job as a leatherworker making harnesses.
The only reason that someone wouldn’t be able to find something to do is that they wouldn’t want to, and we have a word for that: laziness. “That horse put me out of work, man! I mean, I probably could learn some new skill or something, but I shouldn’t have to! I had a job! It’s not fair! So everyone else should take care of me, instead of me taking care of myself.”
It’s simply stunning that we have otherwise intelligent people arguing for this nonsense.
I’m not a huge fan of Elon Musk, but I know he’s not stupid. I suspect he isn’t seeing the core of what things are through the worded concepts that predispose him to think a certain way. This is the same fog that keeps most people from realizing the horror of what they’re proposing when they envision a world where AI does all the work for humans. But manna doesn’t fall from the sky, and it won’t fall from the sky even after AI is invented. It may be possible to use AI to do all the labor that humans otherwise would do, but that’s signing our own death warrant.
There will never come a time that humans have nothing to do, though. There will always be stuff to be done. Even in Roddenberry’s utopian science-fiction, humans had to do stuff. Someone had to work on the engines that powered the replicators that gave people food. Someone had to mine the dilithium crystals. Someone had to pilot the Enterprise. And perhaps a Star Trek story two thousand years later would have seen the Enterprise Y crewed entirely by androids, with nothing but a bunch of fat, lazy humans lounging around the Holodeck while everything was done by robots, but we’re hardly talking about a utopia at that point, and that’s the sort of future that needs to be avoided, not striven for. I can see why Roddenberry and Star Trek fans don’t go that far into the future.
Just think about it. It was only a matter of time before someone began producing more Datas. Data is, hands down, better than any human at anything he needs to do. So by the year 3150, Starfleet Academy would have had all android instructors and all android students. Starfleet ships would have been crewed entirely by androids. What is left, then, for man? What is left, then, for humanity? It would not be only one species that we enslaved to our sloth, because we would find ourselves similarly enslaved.
This world you envision is not a dream. It is a nightmare–you only have to look a few centuries further into the future to see how terrible it truly is. Already we see the nightmarish effects that such comfort has on humanity: we have colleges filled with people who think it is traumatic to be called the wrong gender. That is what humans do when they are bored and when their understanding of suffering and hardship are so badly skewed. Already, we have social media filled with lamentations for Brad’s Wife while the 230 civilians our own government murdered get hardly a word. Suffering is the catalyst of maturity, and effort is the conduit for reward. I’ve seen people say–sincerely, now–that employers refusing to hire people who are unskilled and untrained is discriminatory against unskilled and untrained people.
Stop coddling people, and tell them to find something productive to do. Don’t bestow upon the candlemaker rewards for his laziness when he decides that he doesn’t want to be bothered with learning to do something else now that the lightbulb has been invented. Tell the man who came up with the idea of attaching the plow to the horse to get off his ass and do something if he wants to eat.
Maybe you are one of the two people left in the field, and you don’t resent the man for sitting on the porch twiddling his thumbs all day now that the horse–AI–has put him out of work. Hey, you’re totally within your rights to take some of your food to give it to him. It’s your food; you can do whatever you want with it. But you absolutely cannot take my food away from me, which I worked for, to give to him to appease your conscience. You can’t put a gun to my head and rob me to give him something that is mine. That’s not how compassion works, and it’s certainly not how morality works.
We can’t prevent any and all negative consequences.
The idea that we somehow can lies at the heart of statism. We can’t have freedom of association, because then some racist assholes would choose not to associate with black people. We can’t have capitalism because then some people might not be able to afford food. We can’t have freedom of speech because then some people might hurt other people’s feelings.
The most common criticism of anarchism is that anarchy can’t guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong, a security that people seem to desperately crave, even though they don’t have it, and even though it’s impossible in a universe that doesn’t seem to care much whether we’re here. “What will you do to prevent murder?” people ask the anarchist, using the anarchist’s inability to definitively prevent murder as a reason for rejecting anarchy.
It’s fallacious, of course. The state doesn’t successfully prevent negative consequences either, no matter how much it tries and interferes in our lives. With all the laws and prisons, with all the destruction of liberty in the modern United States, there remains murder. It’s readily apparent that this isn’t an argument for the state; it’s an excuse for the status quo. “The state doesn’t successfully prevent murder, but anarchy can’t either. So why change?”
The obvious answer is that the state doesn’t simply fail to prevent murder; it is the Primary Murderer. As an institution, the state has racked up a body count that should cause any moral person to do a doubletake; in the 20th century alone, counting only war and advice combatants, states killed more than 120,000,000 people. If there were no states, those people killed by states would not have died. So if we want to reduce murder, the stateless society is clearly the way to go.
Prohibition doesn’t work, and we know this. Everyone knows it until we get to their Pet Issue, at which point they decide arbitrarily that prohibition can work. Abortion is a great example, because outlawing abortion doesn’t stop abortion; it merely chases it to the shadows of the back alley. Prohibition against alcohol didn’t eliminate alcohol; it was merely chased into the shadows of the black market. Prohibition against drugs hasn’t stopped people from doing drugs.
The argument may be that it’s fine, because we’ve substantially reduced the number of people doing these things, even if some people still do them, but this ignores the tremendous negative consequences. Our prisons are filled with non-violent offenders, largely minorities. Drugs are bought and sold in secret, unverified, possibly impure, possibly laced, and possibly lethal. People who can’t find heroin turn to krokodil. These are negative consequences. Our state intervention did not come without a price and arguments can certainly be made that the price was higher than the reward. Great, we kept five people off heroin, and the only side effect was that two people got on krokodil! Only a supremely jaded person can call this a victory.
Of course, this simply leads to more interventions, and more attempts to make up new rules to address the negative side effects of the old rules. Russia made codeine prescription-only to fix the krokodil epidemic caused by heroin being illegal, which simply made heroin easier to get and cheaper than krokodil. And then they’ll come up with some new rule to address the negative side effects of the last rule, and the end result is a clusterfuck of nonsensical laws limiting the behavior of adults.
Don’t think that we’re any different in the United States. There are positive and negative consequences to every action. Getting up early and starting my work day early comes with the positive consequence of earning more money, and with the negative consequence of getting less sleep. There’s always a trade-off, and this is the critical thing that statists attempt to deny.
Sure, outlawing heroin seems like a good idea with positive consequences–right up until someone’s skin rots off because they turned to krokodil. That negative consequence can’t be ignored. Furthermore, any attempt to fix it will come with its own set of consequences. And each time, liberty is restricted. The adults out there who use heroin in the same way that party drinkers use alcohol are caught in the cross fire, their lives destroyed in our Quixotic quest to eliminate drug addicts, and turned into hardened criminals by a prison system that rivals the Roman Gladiatorial Arenas in sheer barbarism.
Prohibition against alcohol probably lowered the number of people who drank. It also created Al Capone and turned Chicago into the gang-infested nightmare that it remains today. It drastically lowered the quality of alcohol, leading to widespread poisoning, and turned previously safe warehouses into guarded camps that regularly saw vicious battles erupting over control of the lucrative black market. It was hardly what anyone would call a victory.
Prohibiting abortion today wouldn’t end it, especially not in an age that has the Tor network (The Dark Web), which would make it easier than ever to find an abortionist. Even Craigslist can’t keep illicit activity off, and people would find abortionists through it. Rather than having the procedure done in a safe and sterile environment, though, we’d be back in the alley with coathangers. We know this, because that’s what happened before abortion was legalized.
It’s true. I can’t promise you that nothing will ever go wrong in an anarcho-capitalist society. In fact, the only thing I can promise you is that things will go wrong. The only thing that really matters is which set of consequences you want. Do you want freedom and the sometimes negative consequences? Do you want free speech even though it means people might say hateful things? Do you want free association even though it means racists might not associate with minorities?
Or do you want statism, for the government to attempt to minimize negative consequences by limiting freedom, and thereby creating a new set of consequences that have to be addressed by limiting freedom more?
We can’t have a utopia. In a universe largely hostile to our existence, imperfect beings can’t have a utopia. The state can’t give us one, and anarchy can’t give us one. Basic algebra tells us, then, that we can reduce the equation by erasing utopia from both sides. When we do this, what are we left with?
Freedom and negative consequences, or tyranny and negative consequences.
Rik Storey is an idiot who has no idea what he’s talking about, cherry-picks to support his chosen ideology, ignores evidence that conflicts with his internal ideas, and spreads this madness for other people to absorb. The only reason I know about this alt-right goon is that he’s a member of a Voluntaryist/Anarchist/Libertarian group I’m in on Facebook, and no one has seen fit to kick him from the group yet for constantly talking about his alt-right positions and why they’re not only part of libertarianism–his latest post is about “the alt-right faction of the Libertarian Party”–but are critical to libertarianism–such as his post “Why Libertarians Need Protectionism.”
This is the idiot who said that multiculturalism is bad.
I’m not going to go into a line-by-line analysis of his writing and where his reasoning breaks down. I’m going to instead talk in broad strokes, because I don’t have the patience right now to read his trite dribble again. I have read his stuff, and I have countered his stuff; he has ignored the counters and continued peddling his inanities anyway.
Anyone who thinks that the United States is at risk of losing its culture needs to turn their sights inward. America runs the world, not just politically but also culturally. Our movies are cherished, our music is highly prized, and our video games are widely praised. Video games are the only cultural area where we don’t run the full sweep, but Bethesda, Bioware, and Blizzard–interestingly, all of whom begin with a “B,” although I think Bethesda is Canadian?–clearly show that the U.S. is a major player in the video game industry, even if it is dominated by Japan. Mass Effect: Andromeda released today, and has surely already sold millions of copies. World of Warcraft, anyone? Fucking Skyrim?
The wonderful thing about mainstream culture is that it’s always representative of the wider cultural values at home. This is obvious when you think about it. No movie in the 1950s would have depicted a gay marriage scene, because gay marriage was almost universally reviled, and the movie makers wanted to make money. Putting in a gay marriage scene would have resulted in widespread protest of the movie, and they wouldn’t have made any money. Culture, of course, is a multi-faceted thing, but the point still stands: America is projecting its culture out into the rest of the world, influencing the rest of the world.
Not the other way around.
We’re not sitting at home watching Bollywood movies and being increasingly influenced by Indian cultural values. We’re not watching Chinese sitcoms and slowly being pushed away from individualist thinking and toward collectivist/clan-based thinking that is more dominant in Asian cultures. American values are a teenage girl telling her middle aged father, “No, father! I will not marry that man, because I do not love him! I don’t care if he can save the family fortune!” An Indian or Chinese film would have the teenage girl saying, “Yes, father. I will do what is best for our family.” Remember, I said we’re speaking in broad strokes.
That kind of stuff influences people. We’re constantly being influenced by movies, television, music, video games, and literature. Take “The Purge,” for example, a movie that I boycotted on the basis of promoting facetious reasoning and the assumption that legality is what keeps people from killing one another. Show people movies like that long enough, and they will come away from it having concluded that the government is what keeps people from killing one another in the streets.
It’s far beyond my abilities to explain how art becomes a catalyst of cultural change while also attempting to be safe enough to make money, but it’s an observable phenomenon. It probably has something to do with the Marilyn Mansons and GG Allins of the world who take refuge in audacity, and whose outlandish behavior breaks down many barriers, opening the door for more mainstream musicians to safely mimic some of that behavior without going quite as far. Marilyn Manson, A Perfect Circle, and Nine Inch Nails all sang about dead gods and anti-religious sentiments, and now no one bats an eye if a rock band says something anti-religion. The dam is broken.
I’ve no doubt that a culture expert can explain this, but it’s not really important to the point at hand. The point is simply that American culture is, by an enormous margin, the most influential culture in the world today. The question we must ask is: What values is American culture promoting? The recent re-release of Beauty and the Beast features a gay kiss, and a lot of conservatives are up in arms about it. This is hardly ultra-liberal, but it doesn’t have to be ultra-liberal, because that dam is already broken. There have already been gay couples in all manner of entertainment, and openly gay musicians and actors. Having a gay kiss is now a safe spot to be in.
Protectionism won’t protect your values if the culture of your society doesn’t reflect your values. You can go as far into isolationism as you would like, and it will not save your social values now. It’s too late. Your values are dying, and nothing can be done to stop that. We will never have an American society again where being gay is criminalized or hidden. We will never have an American society again where being transgender is a capital offense. We will never have an American society where women are depicted as anything less than the equals of men. The tide has changed, and whether your values go as far as these straw values or not, the fact remains that progress is a one-way street. Once people realized that those other people are other people, you can’t convince them that they’re not. Once you convince people that black people are just like white people, you can never again convince them that black people are inferior, because they already identify with them.
The values you wish to protect with your cultural protectionism are already on the chopping block, and isolationism and protectionism can’t save them. Your values are being eroded from the inside, from within America itself. It’s not outside cultural elements convincing us that gay people are ordinary people, too, and that there’s nothing wrong with being gay. That’s something we came up with all by ourselves. We weren’t propagandized by German movies into believing that transgender people are deserving of dignity. We weren’t corrupted by Chinese music into believing that black people are equal to white people. We weren’t twisted by British propaganda into believing that women are equal to men. Again and again and again, these ideas originated–at the very least, in their modern movements–in the United States. We are Ground Zero for these social changes, and we emanate them outward into the rest of the world via our entertainment, which is a reflection of our culture and the very social changes that the alt-right has a problem with.
Why do you think China is relentlessly screening what movies, music, art, and literature enters their country? Even video games have to be screened, censored, and, often, changed before China will allow them in. Why? Because China is engaging in cultural protectionism. We are the influencers, you idiots. We are the ones influencing them. We’re not sitting around going, “Oh, I hope this famous Chinese movie has no subversive communist elements in it!” Dumbasses! We’re going, “Sweet! This movie is fucking awesome! U! S! A! U! S! A!”
This notion that outside elements are trying to influence us is so bizarre to me that I wonder if we’re even in the same reality. What cultural influences are impacting us? Paris has long stopped being the art capital of the world. We still have a lot of fondness for European culture–and, for some reason, we consider it more highly valued than our own, as though the Eiffel Tower is just inherently better than the Sears Tower–but it’s not influencing us. Europe is increasingly socialist, and that’s influencing some of our youngest who look to Europe as a utopia, but protectionism won’t change that, either, because it’s not Europe that people like Rik Storey have a problem with. In fact, they want to include Europe in their protectionism, and save it from all the “icky brown people” who are trying to change the culture that we’re literally influencing everyone else with.
These people are nuts. Fully detached from reality. Anyone with even a tenuous connection to reality can see plainly that it’s the United States that is influencing everyone else, not vice versa. It’s our movies that rock the world. It’s our musicians that rock the world. It’s our television shows that break new ground. It’s our Broadway. It’s our Fiddler on the Roof. It’s our Citizen Kane, our Gone With the Wind, our Titanic, our Avengers, our Avatar. What the hell are you worried about? You’re backward. We are influencing them.
The basic idea of Rik Storey’s idiocy is that we need protectionism to keep out “bad elements” because a libertarian society is a high trust one, and so we need to be able to trust other members. I call this “idiocy” because it is.
As always, let’s begin by dissecting assumptions. What is “trust?” Trust is nothing more than a conditioned expectation to stimuli. There’s no such thing as trust; there’s just an expectation that this action will have this result, or that this other person will do that in response to this. It’s not about trust; it’s about expectation. We don’t trust the mailman to come everyday; trust is unnecessary to the process, because we know from experience and real-world examples that the mailman will come everyday. We’re not pulling from some emotional idea and faith in the mailman; we’re pulling from real experiences and real data to establish an expectation that is in-line with our experience.
Similarly, I don’t “trust” that my girlfriend would be pissed off if I cheated on her. I know she would; trust has nothing to do with it. I’m extrapolating from past experiences–not personal experiences, to be clear–and establishing an expectation based on those past experiences. Neither do I “trust” that she won’t cheat on me; I expect that she won’t, based on my past experiences with her. Trust never, ever enters into the picture. It’s just a misnomer, a colloquial way of saying “I have this expectation based on previous experiences.” A betrayal of trust isn’t a betrayal of trust; it’s when someone does something counter to our expectations that impacts us in a negative way.
That said, I dispute the idea that a libertarian society is a high trust one in the first place. I don’t have to trust that Bob won’t rob my house if there is no law against it, because I can shoot Bob for trespassing and violating my property. The state society involves exactly this same trust, too, because we know that laws don’t create moral behavior; they merely provide a framework by which immoral behavior is punished. No one is out there going, “Damn. I would steal, rape, and kill, if only there were no laws against it!”
So a stateless society–or a libertarian one–doesn’t involve more trust than any other sort of society. It doesn’t matter whether there is a law against it or not; trust isn’t the factor distinguishing the two. We don’t operate under the good faith trust that Bob won’t break into my home and steal my stuff in a libertarian society, just like we don’t operate under the good faith trust that Bob won’t break the law in a state society. We expect moral behavior based on our experiences with most people and we have ways of dealing with immoral behavior when it occurs. That doesn’t change in a libertarian society.
For That Matter, WHO Are You Trusting?
Rik Storey makes it pretty clear that he trusts straight, white people. He constantly talks about the greatness of western society, claiming credit for the work of the ancient Greeks, the ancient Romans, and the American ancestors. This is common for such people, of course: by taking credit for the great things that other people did, they give themselves an ego boost by identifying with those other people. “I’m great, because people who were just like me did great things! I can take credit for the fact that the Greeks invented democracy, because I’m white and they were white!”
I can’t speak for everyone, but if I was motivated to be racist, sexist, and sexual orientationist, then straight white men would be the last people I would trust. This is where Rik’s “logic” really breaks down: he wants to claim credit for all the great things that–there’s no reason to be coy–white people did, while he says nothing about the abominable acts that white people have done. If we’re talking about “white people” as a single collective unit, then, yes, they invented democracy, libertarianism, self-governance, and other cool things.
They also started two World Wars, executed the Holocaust, enjoyed American slavery for centuries, annihilated the Native Americans, have invaded countless sovereign nations, have tried more than any other race of people to conquer the world, and have dropped not one but two atomic weapons on civilian population centers. They systemically oppressed women, black people, Asians, Native Americans, LGBTQ people, non-Christians, and anyone else who wasn’t exactly like them. So yeah, if you’re a straight white man with Christian leanings, I could see why you’d be okay trusting other straight white men with Christian leanings. They’ve never turned their viciousness onto you, after all.
But if you’re literally anyone else, then the notion that you should simply trust straight, white Christian men is absurd in the highest degree. There is no other demographic less worthy of trust. Rik Storey’s inability to see this and realize it is exactly because he is part of that demographic and, in the classical sense of that demographic, is incapable of seeing the world through anyone else’s eyes. Straight, white Christian men must be trustworthy, he concludes, because he’s a straight, white Christian man and straight, white Christian men have never done anything to him.
He claims credit for the great things his ancestors have done and uses those great things as reasons why his demographic is inherently more trustworthy, as far as a libertarian society goes. His thinking is that white people invented libertarianism, and thus only white people can be trusted in a libertarian society. He conveniently ignores the fact that white people also invented the nuclear weapon, the cluster bomb, the UAV, and a host of other things that add up to being pretty good reasons why not to trust those people.
I don’t buy any of that. There is no “straight, white Christian male” group that acts and thinks in unison, that is more or less worthy of “trust” than anyone else, because there are only individuals with various characteristics. The above rant is not an attack against men, white people, straight people, or Christians except as an extension of Rik Storey’s own thinking–which I reject in the first place. If Rik Storey truly believes his own spiel, then his conclusion must be that straight, white Christian men whose culture is under threat from the outside world aren’t worthy of trust in the first place, and that it must be a good thing that those outside cultural influences are impacting his values.
Everything about his thinking is backward, skewed, and confused. In a libertarian society, we don’t have to trust our neighbors won’t violate the NAP, because we will have ways of dealing with it if they do. The existence of laws against violence don’t mitigate our trust or increase our trust; they are unrelated to the entire affair, as they are nothing more than the framework we use to punish people when they violate our morality. The morality remains in a libertarian society, and so does the tendency to punish people for violating it*. Just as you’d use law and the state to punish people for stealing from you in a state society, so would you use the NAP and some mechanism to punish people for stealing from you in a stateless society. Trust has nothing to do with it.
And if you really want to ride that demographic identity train, I don’t think it will arrive at a destination that people like Rik Storey will be comfortable with. Because if you’re going to take pride in all the great things that white people, men, straight people, and Christians have done, then you must also take responsibility for all the absolutely horrible things those same people have done: the Inquisition, the Holocaust, the Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the bombed abortion clinics, both World Wars, Nagasaki, Hiroshima… I’d be moderately interested in seeing Rik Storey’s tally where he has added up all the positive things his demographic has done and stacked them against all the negative things his demographic has done, and whether the math shows he is correct in trusting his demographic.
But he isn’t correct, and it’s stupid anyway, because we are individuals, not amalgams of characteristics and not extensions of people who lived and died thousands of years ago. I think it’s interesting that Storey wants to take credit for the Greeks inventing democracy, but I’d bet my shiny new A Perfect Circle tickets [Yes, that phrase again] that Rik Storey vehemently opposes the notion of reparations for black Americans.
So do I, as it happens, but I oppose it because individuals who didn’t do something shouldn’t have to pay for something that other individuals did to individuals who didn’t have it done to them. That is what a position of consistency looks like. “White people are worthy of trust because they invented libertarianism! But that they invented and remain the only people to have used nuclear weapons? No, that isn’t a factor” is not what a position of consistency looks like.
The alt-right is replete with this sort of cherry-picking, denial of history, and doublethink. I don’t criticize white people for the Holocaust; I criticize Hitler. I don’t praise white people for democracy; I praise the unidentified individuals who conceived it. I’m not worried about outside influences impacting American culture because I’m not a blind moron, and I can easily look out into the world and notice that it’s the other way around; American culture is heavily impacting the rest of the world. And even if I shared Storey’s timid, insecure values, I still wouldn’t be able to get on board with his “conclusions,” because I’m capable of noticing that America’s values are changing from within.
And if he’s arguing that those individuals who are fighting to change America’s values from within need to be excised or killed, then he obviously isn’t a libertarian of any sort, but that’s okay, because the alt-right isn’t a faction of libertarianism anyway. Libertarians means liberty for ALL, and let the consequences of freedom be whatever they will be. If liberty means that Rik Storey’s values are eroded and ultimately wiped from history, then so be it. Libertarianism means liberty for all, even non-white, non-straight, non-Christian, non-men. Liberty for one demographic obviously isn’t liberty; it’s tyranny.
So no. Alt-right ideas are fundamentally incompatible with the precepts of liberty. Libertarianism means other people are free to come in and influence your culture, because they aren’t using force, violence, and coercion. If your culture is so weak that it can’t survive that, then there you go–your culture is weak.
I tend to think that Storey must know this. Protectionism is all about insecurity, after all. If Microsoft is so scared of competition that they have to engage in protectionism, then it means they know their products suck and can’t stand up against competing products. If Storey is so scared of competition that he has to engage in protectionism, then it means he knows his culture sucks and can’t stand up against competing cultures.
Letting the weak be defeated by the strong through competition absent force, violence, and coercion? That is libertarianism.
So it’s not other cultures that are incompatible with libertarianism, Storey.
It’s come to my attention–via hearsay, as I’ve never read the person in question–that Walter Block argues that punishment in a stateless society isn’t strictly necessary, but what is important is that survivors are doubly repaid for losses. This seems to deal primarily with theft, but there was also a solution relayed to me regarding murder: simply, the murder would work for the surviving family for the rest of his life.
I… can’t get on board with any of this.
These are the moments when the principle of Non Aggression gets skewed. I have no idea if Walter Block advocates these things are not, but they are grotesque and immoral, and are no better than the state system of law and punishment we have now. So because a man did something wrong, he is to be condemned to being a slave for the rest of his life? What part of that is supposed to be in accord with AnCap principles? What part of that is supposed to be in accord with non aggression? Slavery is among the greatest violations of the NAP, to take someone and force them to work for you because they wronged you and your family member…
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
I know it’s hard. Believe me, I really do. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see some news article from the tri-state area about a body being found in the mountains, in a lake, or in a ditch, and every single time some part of me hopes… “Could this be it? Could this be my mother?” I know damned well what it’s like to lose a family member to murder, and I know what it’s like to live with that, to live with the murderer getting away with absolutely no punishment whatsoever because the body was thoroughly discarded. So you’re not going to find too many more people with the stable ground to say this:
There is nothing that could be done to bring justice to my murdered mother. It’s done. It’s over. She’s dead. While I would love nothing more than to have her rotting body buried somewhere respectable, with a tombstone so that I could finally put her to rest, even that would do nothing to alleviate any of the sorrow or pain, and it definitely wouldn’t bring her back. I know exactly who killed her, but without a body there’s nothing to be charged with. He lives a life of relative comfort, now a trained engineer or something like that, and has the love of his children and his other family members. There is nothing that can be done to him that would constitute justice.
This is the conceit that is breaking modern society: there’s no such thing as justice. It’s an imaginary idea. What we mean when we say “justice” is “This person did something wrong, so we’re going to get revenge, but we’re going to call it something else because we want to convince ourselves that our wrongful act against him is somehow different than the wrongful act he committed.” But it isn’t, because two wrongs don’t make a right.
It’s wrong to kidnap people at gunpoint, hold them against their will, and force them into slave labor, to force them into situations where they live in concrete jungles and have to fight for their lives or be raped. That’s morally wrong. There are no exceptions.
Truth be told, there is only one way for me to have justice over my mother’s murder by what most people would call my uncle, and that would be… forgiveness. Forgiving him is the only way to ease the pain in my heart and to release the sorrow. Isn’t that the point of justice? To ease the victim’s pain? Punishment doesn’t ease the victim’s pain; it converts it into zealous excitement and lust for vengeance. Just like if your wife cheats on you, it won’t ease your pain to then go out and cheat on your wife; it will only exacerbate it, enlarge it, and lengthen it. No, the only way forward, the only way to recovery, and the only way toward justice is through forgiveness.
That phrasing isn’t accidental. Forgiveness is a difficult labyrinth that must be navigated, with pitfalls and temptations hiding around every corner. Through the darkness emanate the whispers, “Why should you be the one putting in the effort? You did nothing wrong! He should be the one who pays! He should be the one who suffers! Haven’t you suffered enough? It’s time for him to pay for what he did!” These voices rarely cease while one travels through the labyrinthine, internal mind, coming to terms with the past and accepting its role in shaping the present.
It’s not supposed to be easy to forgive people, but forgiveness is all about the forgiver; it has nothing to do with the aggressor. I realized this when I was asked what, if anything, Vegas Chick could do to cause me to forgive her. I realized that there was nothing she could do, because it didn’t have anything to do with her. It had everything to do with me and my own emotional responses. I had a choice: to cling to the negative emotions, or to let them go. A demand for some kind of contrition, some kind of punishment… is clinging to the negative emotions. It never releases them, and releasing them is the only way to travel from the land of the wounded to the land of peace.
It’s also not easy to forgive the man who murdered my mother for unknown reasons. It’s not easy to forgive him for being the sole reason that I will be buried long before her body is ever discovered, if, indeed, her body is ever found. It’s not supposed to be easy to take a deep breath, let the negativity wash away, and say, “I forgive you.”
As a society, we have a passionate lust for revenge, and we love our euphemisms precisely because they allow us to pretend like it’s not revenge that we’re after. Years ago, when working through these ideas, I decided that the difference had to be that justice was impartial and vengeance was personal. In other words, if you enacted punishment against the murder on my behalf, then it was justice; if I did it, then it was vengeance. I’ve since realized how wrong that is. You acting on my behalf doesn’t change anything. It’s just a convenient way for me to shirk the responsibility; it’s just a handy way for me to pretend like I’m not the one responsible for the aggression being committed against someone else. “I’m not doing it!” I could proclaim. “They’re doing it!”
Except they’re doing it with my blessing. And whether I have the power to stop them or not–in the modern American system, I probably don’t have the power to stop the court system from prosecuting him, if her body was ever discovered–it wouldn’t change the fact that they’re doing so on my behalf, on my mom’s behalf, and on my sister’s behalf. But what if my sister and I both expressed that we wanted it forgiven, not punished? Because I would absolutely go before court and argue such a thing, even for the person who murdered my mother. Our testimony would mean little. We wouldn’t be able to simply drop the charges, despite being the only survivors of the murdered woman and therefore having more claim to express her wishes than anyone else.
And why? Because the state would be acting instead on behalf of Straw Victims it has imagined, and those Straw Victims are more important than my sister and me.
Punishment doesn’t end an injustice. It extends it.
The goal can’t be to punish someone. Punishment must be incidental, if it happens at all.
I don’t dispute that, once someone murders another person, individuals–whether elected or hired–have the purview to take measures to prevent the murderer from murdering anyone else. How this is to be accomplished, however, is a question of extreme importance. The obvious answer, according to most people, is to “Throw them in prison and throw away the key!”
No, because that doesn’t really prevent murder. The murder rate in prison is pretty high, and you won’t get most rational people to agree to a life sentence for one murder. Hell, the person we’re talking about served only 7 of a ten year sentence for murder. So the person is ultimately going to get back out of prison–or will kill someone in prison, bypassing the “out of prison” part altogether and committing a murder, meaning our preventative efforts failed. Since prison inmates have a 75% likelihood of going back to prison, prison is clearly an ineffective way of preventing crime from happening again. It may or may not prevent some crime, but it’s too ineffective to be our Yes, That’s the Best Solution answer.
I don’t know that I really have an alternative. Extensive therapy by trained psychologists would obviously be in order. Is there any way to fix this person’s damaged brain? Because, without exception, something has broken down in the moral centers of the murderer’s brain. That’s a given, because normal, healthy people don’t murder other people. We find the idea repugnant in every conceivable way, and we would not murder another person even if we knew that we could get away with it without any consequences at all. It’s not punishment or fear of punishment that stays our hands; it’s our own internal morality. Once that internal morality breaks down, no amount of laws will protect someone.
The goal of prison was supposed to be to segregate, punish, and rehabilitate. It fails on all accounts. A scary number of innocent people have landed in prison, without even getting into the number of people in prison for committing “victimless crimes*”. So criminals are not segregated from the innocent. Nor are they punished, at least not in the way that society likes to pretend. Drug abuse and sex are rampant in prison. It’s often easier to find hardcore drugs in prison than it is to find them on the streets. As for rehabilitation–you’re kidding right? I would bet my shiny new tickets to the A Perfect Circle show in Nashville that most the 25% of former prisoners who don’t return to prison are simply too old upon release to be out there raping and killing people, or whatever they did to go to prison in the first place.
There has to be some way of preventing someone from committing another murder, and that’s what our focus should be on. Not punishment. Punishment only exacerbates the amount of wrongdoing in the world. Killing someone because they killed someone doesn’t reduce the amount of killing in the world; it obviously increases it by one. Kidnapping and holding someone against their will for kidnapping and holding someone against their will doesn’t reduce the amount of people being kidnapped and held against their will; it increases it by one. There is no justice as long as we are doing things that add more murder, more kidnapping, more imprisonment, more rape, and more violence to the world.
Justice, as an ideal, must be incapable of increasing the amount of aggression in the world. If it increases the amount of aggression, then it cannot be justice. That must be our metric for determining what is justice and what isn’t.
It starts with forgiveness.
This doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t be held to account for acts of aggression, or that there should be no consequences. It does, however, change the goals of the consequences. Rather than seeking punishment, we should seek prevention. “What can we do to make sure this man never kills again?” should be our guiding question, not, “How can we make this man suffer for what he did?” The act is done. Making him suffer won’t fix anything and won’t help anything; it will only increase the amount of suffering in the world.
And two wrongs don’t make a right.
This is very different from catching someone in the act of aggression and having the opportunity to stop the act from escalating. If you walk in on some thief beating the hell out of your family member and you shoot and kill that thief, you’ve done nothing wrong. You prevented a beating from escalating into what probably would have been a murder. Since the thief initiated the aggression, you did what you had to do to protect another human being who had done nothing to initiate the attack. But what if you came home from work and you knew who had beaten your brother half to death and stolen your laptops and television? Would it be morally right to chase that person down and kill them? I don’t think many people would say “Yes” to that, and I certainly wouldn’t. Because at that point, you’re no longer preventing; you’re punishing.
We need a lot of spiritual growth–a phrase I use colloquially. It’s true, though. Before we can have a stateless society, we have to have a society where no one is asking “How can we punish criminals?” Because a stateless society can’t answer that question, because a stateless society forbids the use of force, violence, and coercion. “How can we punish criminals” is the wrong question, coming from a dark place in the human heart that prefers vengeance to forgiveness, and that’s something we have to let go of. We have to learn to forgive. Once we have a society of people asking the right question–“How can we prevent a murderer from killing again?”–then we will be ready to enjoy the luxuries of a stateless society.
This is part of the reason that the state is so tied to the criminal system, of course. It wants us to confuse punishment with justice, because as long as we’re erroneously calling punishment “justice,” we’ll despise any system that seeks to deny it to us. “You mean you’re not going to punish that child rapist? He should have his dick cut off! He should be publicly castrated! Fuck him! Throw him in prison with Big Jim!”
That’s vengeance, not justice.
Yes, by all means, and absolutely: let’s prevent that rapist from raping again. That’s mandatory, once they have done such a horrific act. But punishment isn’t going to do it. And when taking steps to prevent the act from occurring again, we should be mindful whether our motivation is to sate our bloodlust for vengeance, or whether our motivation is to actually protect future victims from being similarly harmed. Only by using the correct path can we arrive at the correct destination.
Bloodlust leads to punishment and, 75% of the time, repeat offenses.
Forgiveness leads to justice and prevention.
So what do we do about criminals in a stateless society? I don’t know. But I’d love for us to put our brilliant minds and our empathic hearts together and come up with a solution that actually works without increasing the amount of suffering in the world and while releasing the primordial instinct within us that demands we take an eye for an eye.
It seems that Pro-Life Libertarians have nothing better to do than to constantly post about abortion, in the same way that a lot of alt-right people have nothing better to do than to constantly post about transgenderism and bathrooms. No matter how much I want these issues to go away, people are hellbent on discussing them, so I want to return to the abortion issue to address some things I didn’t address last time.
Pro-Choice =/= Pro Abortion
I’m Pro-Choice. I would also never get an abortion–if it were possible–and the only time in my life that it was relevant, I was adamantly against the girl getting one. But, true to my core, she chose that option, and having fucked her gave me no authority or ownership claims of her body or what she can do with it, and neither did it mean that she was required to take my thoughts and feelings into consideration.
That sucks, and I know it’s hard for men to hear–I don’t say that as a transgender person, as a female, or anything. Just as a person, I know it’s hard for men, who have long enjoyed nearly total control of society and societal norms, to step back and accept that they don’t have any right to say what a woman can and can’t do with the womb that is literally in her body, but it’s just the reality we live in. If a woman doesn’t want to take her husband’s or boyfriend’s feelings into consideration, then it’s just tough shit for the man–he can leave her and find someone who will take his feelings into consideration, or he can stay with the woman who clearly doesn’t value his emotions.
I was against a family member getting an abortion, but I made no effort to talk her out of it, because such a decision is difficult enough without having others add to it. I even gave her a ride to the clinic in Little Rock, and stayed with her through most of it–just not any of the back room stuff. I wouldn’t expect most people who are against abortion to go that far, though.
It’s not as simple as “Pro choice” and “Pro Life,” not really. That we’ve redefined these things so that pro-choice means “pro-abortion” and pro-life means “anti-abortion” are serious problems, and it’s what causes most of the strife in the Libertarian Party. I don’t like abortion. I’m not a fan of it. I just don’t think anyone has the right to tell a woman that she must donate her flesh for someone else’s benefits, even if the wage is death.
Pro-Life people love saying that abortion is obviously a violation of the NAP, because the fetus is obviously a human, and thus has the right to not have aggression committed against it. On the surface, such a position makes sense, but, as usual, once we begin defining things and peeling away assumptions, we’re left with a position that is utterly nonsensical. This is why the Texan Representative recently proposed legislation that would fine men for ejaculating into anything but a womb–if potentiality equals actuality, then each and every sperm cell is potentially a human. It is a categorical error, of course, but that’s the point–asserting that potentiality equals actuality in regard to a fetus is also a categorical error.
We can’t make the argument that “Without additional interaction, the sperm wouldn’t progress into a human, though. Without additional interaction, the fetus would,” however, because that’s false. Without additional interaction, the fetus would die. All the food, nutrients, and air carried by the umbilical cord are first brought in by deliberate action of the woman, which absolutely count as interactions every bit as much as ejaculating into a vagina. Nor can we say that the sperm’s potential requires the intervention of another human, but that the fetus doesn’t, because a totally unassisted birth is rife with problems and has a very high failure right, not to mention that the woman consumes food that she purchased from another human.
The jury is forever out on the question of whether or not a fetus qualifies as a human and, if it does, at what stage of development the classification is legitimate. “Science” says very little on the matter, which is exactly what we’d expect to find in a world where the differences between life and non-life aren’t legitimate in the first place and are simply superimposed onto reality by a bunch of self-aware molecules who cannot accept that they are part of everything else and that nothing actually differentiates their existences from anything else that exists. This isn’t to say that scientists say very little on the matter; indeed, it’s hard to get a science to shut the fuck up about social issues they aren’t specialized in, but any random science who says something isn’t speaking for “science.”
“Science” is a method, not a set of ideologies and beliefs. It is following a precisely defined methodology to go from an observation to an explanation. So what “science” has to say about a fetus falls apart at the very first hurdle–there is no uniformly applicable definition of “human” that would include a uniformly applicable definition of “fetus” because there is no uniformly applicable definition of “life” in the first place. And while we do have biologists who study what we call life, it’s a matter I’ve followed extensively for quite some time, and it remains the case that we have yet to come up with a suitable definition of “life” that precludes fire and other chemical reactions while including all examples of what we’d call “life.” The closest such definition is the one I gave earlier: the self-replicating molecule. Even that fails, though, because it is equally applicable to fire–and the sun, and not just to solar systems but also to entire galaxies and, quite possible, the whole damned universe itself. Stars supernova and explode, and from their remains are born more stars and planets. What is that, if not self-replication?
Our definitions of life include entire solar systems as living things. And why not? It’s not metaphysical or silly; what “science” tells us is that there isn’t a difference between us and solar systems. We are them, and they are us. The separations are illusory, brought about by our limited sensory abilities. For example, if we could see the subatomic world with our eyes, we would not see a person sitting at a desk typing. We would see nothing more than energy traveling around in various shapes, sizes, and patterns, freely moving from one coalescence to the next, with no true separation anywhere in sight. But our eyes aren’t anywhere near that good. We don’t see molecules, atoms, or electrons–we only see the gigantic picture where everything appears to be separate. But it is a matter of scientific record that placing your hand on the desk joins you to that desk, with energy freely traveling from your hand to the desk and from the desk to your hand.
So when someone says to me that a fetus is obviously a human life, and that makes it obviously different from eating a cow or an eggplant, I’m usually at a loss for words to explain to them how poorly they understand the reality in which they live. These ideas of life, humans, and fetuses–they’re just that: ideas. They’re concepts, superficial superimpositions onto a reality wherein they don’t actually apply, in the same way that we treat nations and borders as real things, as though we might drive to Texas and find carved on the terrain a gigantic line that separates Mexico from the United States. And there may be one there, but only because we, in our lunacy and belief in the realness of imaginary things, convinced ourselves that we needed to put a real one there to correspond to the imaginary one.
People get angry when I compare abortion to eating a cow. Why? There is nothing that makes human life innately more valuable than a cow’s life, but the vast majority of pro-life and pro-choice people have no hesitation about eating a cow that someone murdered. This is nothing more than bigotry, though. It’s speciesism–a sloppy word meaning discrimination on the basis of species. It’s the same old song we’ve heard countless of times. White lives are worth more than black lives was the justification for slavery, and for how, in ages past, killing a white man carried a much more severe sentence than killing a black man. Male lives are worth more than female lives was the justification for sex slavery, spousal abuse, spousal ownership, and all manner of other things. It’s the same groupthink, the same Us and Them, the same bigotry, only it’s on the basis of species rather than race or sex.
I’m not saying “Don’t eat meat” or “Be a vegan.” I eat meat. I’m also fully aware that it’s no morally better to kill and eat a chicken than it is to kill and eat a human. We’re just speciesist, so we assign a higher value to a member of our species than we do a member of another species–just like racists assign a higher value to a member of their race, and just like sexists assign a higher value to a member of their sex. We violate the NAP against non-humans every single day, and it’s increasingly unnecessary–it’s also just a matter of time before it ends, and synthetic meat replaces organic meat, and people who eat genuine meat are considered monsters in the same way that hunters today are increasingly considered monsters.
The worst aspect of the Pro-Life crowd is that they argue as though they have a righteous superiority and as though they have the moral highground. That smugness is irritating. Leftists do it, too, especially on health care, and smugly assert they have the moral high ground because they think doctors should be considered slaves. Similarly, Pro-Life people smugly assert they have the moral high ground because they think that a woman should be forced to donate her literal flesh for someone else’s benefit.
There is no moral high ground here.
If there’s any single thing that I wish our species could un-invent, it would be abortion. But we did conceive it, and the cat is out of the bag; Pandora’s Box is open, and the matter can never be pushed back in. A Pro-Life person doesn’t have the moral high ground or the NAP on their side because they want to force a woman to donate her body for someone else’s benefit. This is every bit akin to forcing a mother to donate a kidney to her child if her child needs it–the child’s very existence, and therefore need of a kidney, is a long-term consequence of the woman’s initial choice to have sex. “If she didn’t want to one day donate a kidney, then maybe she shouldn’t have had sex!” would go the argument. Or is there some arbitrary statute of limitations that means, after a certain period of time, the woman has her free will once more?
People object to that analogy on the basis that pregnancy is a reasonable outcome of having sex, while a child with a failed kidney is not. I can’t agree with that assessment. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve had a lot of sex with a lot of different people. The year 2015 revealed that I’m not sterile, as it was the first time in fifteen years of being sexually active that I’d gotten a girl pregnant. I was even married for 5 or 6 years, and we had sex pretty much every day that my wife wasn’t on her period. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I’ve had sex thousands of times. And I’ve only once gotten a girl pregnant. Even a conservative estimate would be that I’ve had sex at least one thousand times–and that’s an unrealistically low figure. But it yields a 0.1% chance of sex leading to pregnancy. I hardly find that to be a reasonable expectation.
It’s true that taking no precautions and generally being reckless can up that percentage drastically, but even so the chance never gets above 30%. While that’s high, precautions and safety lower it considerably. Sure, there are some women who use abortion as a form of birth control, but it’s absolutely absurd to think that such a thing is typical. Asserting that abortion needs to be illegal because someone women use it as birth control is like saying that people should use the bathroom of the sex on their birth certificate because some people might pretend to be transgender to gain access to the women’s restroom.
I unfriended a Pro-Life Libertarian yesterday, but it wasn’t because she was Pro-Life. I just ignored that. It was because it was all she ever talked about, and she did it with the smugness I mentioned above. She constantly said that “Science says…” things in support of her position, and if she wasn’t committing fallacies then she was burning straw people. What finally caused me to remove her was her statement that repealing anti-abortion laws is the same thing as making new laws to legalize abortion. To hear a libertarian–Big or Little L–say such nonsense warranted an immediate removal.
Legality & Naturality
The default position for any action is that it is legal. Period, and full stop. Murder, rape, theft–they are all naturally legal. That’s the true law of nature, the law of the jungle as they say, and, for later consideration, the law of the black market: the only thing that matters is what a person can do, and what a person can’t do.
But we’re guided by something called empathy, which gave rise to our morality and our condemnation or murder, theft, and rape. This is a good thing. We should condemn force, violence, and coercion, because we don’t want those things done to us, and we do have the gift of empathy, which allows us to extrapolate our own feelings and apply them to others. But this doesn’t mean that force, violence, and coercion are objectively wrong. They’re not. According to my values that I don’t want to be hurt, used, robbed, and killed, I have concluded that murder, rape, and theft are wrong, but it’s my values that go into that assessment. Just because 99.99% of people agree with those values doesn’t make those values objectively correct.
Before law, murder, rape, and theft were all legal. This is a tautology, of course, because making a law outlawing something is precisely what makes it illegal. So if there is no law outlawing it, then it is legal. Repealing prohibition against drugs doesn’t require making a new law that says it’s okay to do drugs; it’s repealing a law that said it wasn’t okay. Her position was that a new law is necessary because our laws against murder already include fetuses, so we need a new law to add that exclusion.
Even if her assessment is correct–which it isn’t, because she can’t demonstrate that “fetus” should be included in the definition of murder, and neither can anyone else, nor can anyone demonstrate that “cow” shouldn’t be included–she’s still wrong, because it would still just be repealing a prohibition against murder. If I pass a law in my house that says my nephew can’t go outside alone after dark, and then I repeal that law when he turns 12 years old, I didn’t create a new law granting him an exclusion once he reached a certain age; I just removed the initial one. I know there’s a name for this fallacy, but it’s such a roundabout way of thinking that I can’t imagine what the fallacy would be called.
I’m against abortion the same way that I’m against eating meat: I condemn the initiation of force, violence, and coercion against others. This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I eat meat, after all. And sure, let the vegan anarchists out there have a go at me and condemn me for immoral behavior. If all seven of the vegan anarchists on the planet decide to do that, I won’t have any defense against their allegations, because they’re ultimately right.
I’m Pro-Choice regarding heroin, too. I don’t do heroin. If I had the opportunity, I wouldn’t inject heroin. I would strongly advise any friends who asked my opinion against doing it, because it’s unhealthy, leads to a debilitating addiction, and is just overall destructive. But I would never presume to tyrannize them by forbidding them from doing it, or by using the government to forbid them from doing it. They’re a living, thinking, and feeling human being. They’re not my property or my servant. I have no right to dictate what they can and can’t do, even though I think it’s probably a bad idea.
I’m Pro-Choice regarding abortion, too. I wouldn’t have an abortion. When I had the opportunity, I argued against it. If asked, I would advise any friends against having one. But I would never presume to tyrannize someone by forbidding them from doing it, or by using the government to forbid them from doing it. They’re a living, thinking, and feeling human being, too. The fetus may or may not be–there’s no definitive answer on that–but until we develop the science to allow us to transfer a pregnancy from a woman who wants an abortion to a woman who is willing to carry the fetus, we have to accept that other people aren’t our property or our servants.
And that is what we should be working on. Have Pro-Life people put their wombs where their mouths are. If it’s true that abortion is about ending a pregnancy, not killing a fetus, then the woman who wants the abortion has no legitimate objection to having the unborn fetus transferred from her womb to another woman’s womb.
As another friend pointed out, though, just as a lot of pro-choice people are actually pro-abortion, so are a lot of pro-life people actually pro-birth. It’s not life they care about; it’s the strawman helpless child they imagine in their heads. They don’t give a shit what happens to that child after it is born. There are enough Pro-Life people in the United States that if Pro-Life people were actually Pro-Life, instead of being Pro-Birth, then there wouldn’t be an unadopted child left in the nation.
There are no easy answers, and we should be extremely skeptical of someone who talks about abortion as though it’s cut and dry. It’s probably the most complex and nuanced issue facing the world today. Anyone who states something on the matter as though it is an unequivocal fact that is obvious and without nuance is spouting dogma, not science. I called it the Murkiest of Murky Murkiness or something like that, because it is. It’s an extremely complex issue that will force any honest, reasonable person to not just re-evaluate what it means to be a human, but what it means to be life.