Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I just want to lay in a dark room for the rest of the day and watch my Family Guy DVD's...screw the rest of the world.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Libertarians, according to Huben, are wrong. On literally everything. In his warped mind, there isn't a single issue on which libertarians are right, or even partially right. A quick perusal through his site makes that pretty clear. Huben is a hysterical and uncritical cheerleader for every police-state measure in the book: the war on drugs, gun control, corporate welfare, legislation of morality, socialized medicine, the abolition of free trade, and so on.
Eventually, one has to stop looking at his site and ask, "Ok, so you believe libertarians are 100% completely wrong on absolutely everything. What would your ideal society look like, then?"
Criticizing stuff is easy; solutions tend to be the tricky part (especially for third-rate thinkers like Huben). Unsurprisingly, he does not put forth many positive views of his own for other people to criticize. That doesn't mean we can't look at his views and ask: what would a Mike Huben society look like?
A Mike Huben society would be a brutal dictatorship, pure and simple. It would be run strictly from the top down (by Huben himself, of course). Civil liberties would not exist. Free speech would not exist. Liberty would not exist. You would wake up in the morning, get in a bread line, and try not to make eye contact with the trigger-happy guards spying from the watch towers. Every tiny moment of your life would be watched, regulated, and micromanaged at gun point. You would be asked for "your papers" at the appropriate check points. "Back talk" would get you a one-way ticket to the nearest Huben-approved gulag or concentration camp. Hitler and Stalin? Pikers. Amateurs. Too libertarian for Huben.
Does that really sound like an appealing society to live in? It sure doesn't to me. But then again, I'm not a big fan of totalitarianism.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The single biggest reason has to be my affinity for historical individualist anarchism, and its analysis of contemporary "capitalism" as a statist system of plunder and exploitation. Essays such as this and this and this (among others) gradually pushed my perspective back "leftward" after thinking about them for some time.
Now I realize that the reason it took me so long to return to a more "leftist" perspective of market anarchism wasn't so much the arguments (many of which I've always agree with), but the behavior of self-identified left-libertarians. Seriously, I'd go to forums like Mises and every thread would like this:
Guy #1: I like the free market.
Left-libertarian: That sounds like a bunch of VULGAR LIBERTARIAN twaddle to me! I suppose you support CAPITALISM, don’t you, you fascist paleoconservative?
Guy #1: Huh? All I said was I like the free market.
Left-libertarian: Spoken like a true VULGAR LIBERTARIAN. When I smashed a CAPITALIST window yesterday, I thought of how badly it would hurt the RICH and their state-built HIERARCHIES which you coddle!
Guy #1: Uh..ok. I’m guessing you define capitalism differently?
Left-libertarian: I define capitalism as YOUR FACE, you homophobic little BITCH! Huzzah!
Ok, so that’s a huge exaggeration (not sure how that “huzzah” got in there), but you get my point. At some point it just got repetitive and fucking tiresome, so I put a lot of effort into trying to piss these people off. Just ask Freeman—that dude still hates me ;)
The steam has now finally been let out, so I’m back to my old bag of tricks…both in the “clumsily chasing tail” department and the “left-libertarian” department.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still don’t believe in the normative labor theory of value, and so I’m still (politically) Rothbardian. I still think anarcho-communism is asinine. I still oppose the statist left, and I'm still viciously anti-collectivist. I still think smashing random windows is stupid.
Nonetheless, it's about time that label was simply changed to "individualist anarchist."
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"If a man has labor to sell, he has a right to a free market in which to sell it.”
" [if the ‘four monopolies’ are ended] it will make no difference whether men work for themselves, or are employed, or employ others. In any case they can get nothing but that wages for their labor which free competition determines."
“Wages is not slavery. Wages is a form of voluntary exchange, and voluntary exchange is a form of Liberty.”
Voltairine de Cleyre:
"the system of employer and employed, buying and selling, banking, and all the other essential institutions of Commercialism, centered upon private property, are in themselves good, and are rendered vicious merely by the interference of the State."
Stephen Pearl Andrews:
“The 'Wages System' is essentially proper and right. It is a right to that one man employ another, it is right that he pay him wages, and it is right that he direct him absolutely, arbitrarily, if you will, in the performance of his labor, while, on the other hand, it is the business of him who is employed implicitly to obey, that is, to surrender any will of his own in relation to a design not his own, and to conceive and execute the will of the other...It is right that the great manufacturer should plan, and either alone, or through the aid of assistants under his direction, organize his mammoth establishment. It is right that he should employ and direct his hundreds, or his five hundred men...It is not in any, nor in all of these features combined, that the wrong of our present system is to be sought and found. It is in the simply failure to do Equity. It is not that men are employed and paid, but that they are not paid justly..”.
"And if the laborer own the stone, wood, iron, wool, and cotton, on which he bestows his labor, lie is the rightful owner of the additional value which his labor gives to those articles. But if he be not the owner of the articles, on which he bestows his labor, he is not the owner of the additional value he has given to them; but gives or sells his labor to the owner of the articles on which he labors."
"I therefore submit, for your [Grover Cleveland's] consideration, the following self-evident propositions:
That so long as no force or fraud is practised by either party, the parties themselves, to each separate contract, have the sole, absolute, and unqualified right to decide for themselves, what money, and how much of it, shall be considered a bona fide equivalent of the labor or property that is to be exchanged for it. All this is necessarily implied in the natural right of men to make their own contracts, for buying and selling their respective commodities.
That any one man, who has an honest dollar, of any kind whatsoever, has as perfect a right, as any other man can have, to offer it in the market, in competition with any and all other dollars, in exchange for such labor or property as may be in the market for sale.
That any prohibition, by a government, of any such kind or amount of money --- provided it be honest in itself --- as the parties to contracts may voluntarily agree to give and receive in exchange for labor or property, is a palpable violation of their natural right to make their own contracts, and to buy and sell their labor and property on such terms as they may find to be necessary for the supply of their wants, or may think most beneficial to their interests."
Thus I do not consider as falling within the logical class division of labor nor of collective force the innumerable small shops which are found in all trades, and which seem to me the effect of the preference of the individuals who conduct them, rather than the organic result of a combination of forces. Anybody who is capable of cutting out and sewing up a pair of shoes can get a license, open a shop, and hang out a sign, “So-and-So, Manufacturing Shoe Merchant,” although there may be only himself behind his counter. If a companion, who prefers journeyman's wages to running the risk of starting in business, joins with the first, one will call himself the employer, the other, the hired man; in fact, they are completely equal and completely free. If a youth of fourteen or fifteen wants to learn the trade, there may be a certain division of labor with him; but this division of labor is the condition of apprenticeship, there is nothing remarkable about it. If orders come in freely, there may be several journeymen and apprentices, besides helpers, perhaps a clerk: then it will be what is called a shop, that is, six, ten, fifteen persons, all doing about the same thing, and working together merely to increase the product, not at all to contribute to its perfection by their different abilities. If suddenly the employer's affairs fall into confusion, and he goes into bankruptcy, they whom he employed will have only the trouble of finding another shop; as for his customers, they run no risk, each of the journeymen, or all of them together, may resume the business.
Mutualist William Greene’s extensive comments on the subject can be found here.
Happy to put an end to this myth.
A great quote: "But, whether property be in the hands of the State, of the collectivity, or of the communist milieu, or of a few capitalists, as at the present time, it makes the individual dependent upon the community, it breeds the master and the slave, the leaders and the led."
Monday, October 20, 2008
This last week was really freaking crazy for me. In fact, I just got back from a hospital operation. I won't go into too much detail, but I'll say this: all is well (phew!).
Now I can go back to blogging again :D
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I would like to see a comprehensive Market Anarchist FAQ that discusses the history of market anarchism, the ideas and disagreements of different strands of market anarchism (mutualists, ancaps, agorists, philosophical anarchists and so on), criticisms of minarchism and collectivism, and perhaps some rebuttals to the other FAQ. It should also be somewhat entertaining and tongue-and-cheek. Basically, it would be our own version of their endlessly-quoted-and-linked-to FAQ.
Just a thought. And maybe not even a good one. But who else agrees that we need an FAQ more like theirs?
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sociologist Markus Kemmelmeier compared college students' self-professed political views to their SAT and ACT scores (which are imperfect but useful measures of cognitive ability.) First, he did find a general trend that social conservatives (those who wanted to ban abortion and gay marriage) weren't as gifted as students with a more progressive take on gender roles.
And who is less socially conservative than us market anarchists? Nobody! Hooray!
But he found the exact opposite pattern with anti-regulation attitudes: The conservatives/libertarians (yay guns boo taxes) appeared to be smarter than their commie compatriots. Kemmelmeier found this crossover "particularly surprising" and says, "It highlights (yet again) that ‘conservatism' is not necessarily a coherent construct, but that you have to distinguish at minimum social conservatism and economic conservatism (libertarianism). If you think about it: Jerry Falwell and Milton Freedman are worlds apart."
And who is more anti-regulation than us market anarchists? Literally nobody! Hooray!
Kemmelmeier found another pattern in his data, one supporting the previously-suggested idea that holding unpopular political views demands more cognitive resources ("context theory"). Those with the strongest beliefs, either way red or way blue, are smarter than the wishy washy centrists too confused to stake their own ground.
And who the hell is less wishy washy or 'centrist' than us market anarchists? Nobody! Hooray!
We're a bunch of friggin' geniuses. Just as I thought.
Friday, October 3, 2008
He still doesn't make much of a compelling case. Like most leftists, he is big on criticism but not so big on solutions. However, the act of criticizing something is pointless without offering actual alternatives. Francois never really discusses what the alternatives would be to the hierarchies he loathes, so we will discuss them here.
He starts off on the right track:
Government is the most acknowledged and the most demonstrative hierarchy. With pomp and circumstance, we elect presidents, prime minister, or crown kings, but we know that most of the power is vested in gigantic bureaucracies and agencies fighting a tug-of-war for resources and laws. The ordinary citizen-subject, who is subject to whoever wins, is the inferior. The aim of governments is the monopolization of a greater and greater amount of political power.
So far, so good. But as Walter Block has pointed out, the hierarchy of the state is different from the hierarchy of other institutions.
Libertarians oppose the initiation of coercion or the threat thereof, not hierarchy. Yes, all groups that violate the non-aggression axiom of libertarians are hierarchical. Governments, gangs, rapists, impose their will, by force, on their victims. They give orders. And yes, in all hierarchies, people at the top of the food chain give orders to those below them. But the difference, and this is crucial, is that the recipients of orders in the latter case have agreed to accept them, but this does not at all apply in the former case.
When the rapist orders the victim to carry out his commands, this is illegitimate hierarchy. When the conductor orders the cellist to do so, this is an aspect of legitimate hierarchy.
Bah! Time to overthrow the conductor and seize the means of production (that baton belongs us all, dammit)!
Ok, time to get serious again. What happens when you condemn all hierarchy, instead of just coercive hierarchy? Answer: batshit insanity. We can see this when we take a good look at what the alternatives would be to the hierarchical institutions Francois wants done away with.
We'll start with Francois' dismissal of capitalism.
Capitalism is the less acknowledged but just as important (if not more important) hierarchy. Here there is a clear distinction between the exploitative class of corporate managers and investors on the one hand, and their employee-subjects on the other hand, and also with the group of consumers (who are victims of the by-products of the activities of production). The aim of the capitalist hierarchies, generally big corporations, is profit.
So what is the alternative to capitalism? In the comment section, Kent McMaginal asks the question:
How could a large company (not a “corporation”) function if there is no one “in charge”?
I would never start a company and hire anyone if I couldn’t insist upon them doing the work they were hired to do. Or if they could decide they owned the company just because they worked there. That would pretty much limit companies to one person each.
So the first alternative is a luddite, primitivist economy--presumably with some form of state apparatus to ensure that it remains an impoverished hell-hole.
The only other alternative is communism, where a dictator (or "anarcho"-communist council, which is the same thing) would plan the economy at gun point. This is about as hierarchical as things get.
These are the alternatives to the "hierarchy" of capitalism. Any takers? I didn't think so.
Of course, I dispute the whole "capitalism is hierarchical control" argument in the first place. A poster at ASC explained this better than I can:
EVERYONE is self employed. Everyone who does something for which they receive monetary compensation is self-employed. Self-employed means offering your services to clients willing to pay, and getting a fee based on mutual agreement. When a "self-employed" plumber fixes your toilet for a fee, that act is fundamentally the same as when a "wage slave" offers his skills to a "boss" for a fee, aka a wage. He "bills" the boss an amount referred to as the wage. Put most succinctly: the rich have clients, the poor have bosses. It's the same damn thing.
Barry Loberfield also discusses this in his article, The Coercive Anarchism of Noam Chomsky.
Let's move on to the other hierarchies Francois opposes.
Religions and cults are another major category of hierarchies. Although they are of course different, I classify them in the same group because their aims (primarily, thought control) and structures (authorities which are deemed “closer to God” or otherwise more holy) are generally similar.
As big of an atheist as I am, the solution to this is pretty simple: don't go to church!
Now, if Francois truly believes that hierarchy is immoral, he must believe it is morally justified to coercively prohibit these hierarchical institutions from forming. So I challenge him to:
1) Demand the compulsory abolition of churches (along with all the other hierarchies he opposes), and
2) Explain how this will be done without some form of hierarchical authority.
Ok, so Francois is apparently against parenting. What is the alternative, then?
Are children going to be raised by wolves? I assume that would also be "hierarchy," so Francois would oppose that too.
Should parents drop their newborns off in a random place to let them fend for themselves, instead of raising them? Most would consider that to be child abuse. Child abuse is a big reason why some people oppose families, so that doesn't make much sense either.
Schools would also not exist in the Tremblayan order (not much would, after all).
What would this mean? We would have a society of uneducated idiots and morons. We would not have doctors, engineers, scientists, or anyone else necessary for civlization.
We would starve to death. Pointlessly.
Let's be clear...
None of this is meant to imply that hierarchy is always a good thing. Many hierarchical institutions violate liberty.
But once you start on a crusade against all hierarchy (instead of coercive hierarchy), you are naturally going to have to oppose everyone and everything. I touched on this in a previous post:
...without the use of threat or coercion, nobody really is being "ruled" or "dominated." If your "submission" to an authority figure is voluntary, then it ceases to be domination.
Should libertarians battle S&M sex games, along with the state? How about asshole football coaches (some of the most authoritarian people on the planet)? Should libertarians fight against teachers, parents, and sports referees? Should we lead the fight against online message board moderators?
Consider the alternatives, and the whole thing reduces to absurdity.
But is it really true that the far-right paleocon Baldwin is "more libertarian" than Barr? Sorry, but the answer is no.
Which candidate brags about taking the least libertarian stance on immigration out of all the candidates of the race? Baldwin.
Which candidate openly endorses protectionist measures? Baldwin.
Which candidate wants the government to ban gambling? Baldwin.
Which candidate advocates a national ban on abortion? Baldwin.
Which candidate opposes gays in the military? Baldwin.
Which candidate praises Jerry Falwell? Baldwin.
Which candidate is running on a platform of theocracy? Baldwin.
Even on the war on drugs, Barr is better than Baldwin. (Neither will flat-out legalize all drugs, but at least Barr wants to divert non-violent offendors from prisons and encourage private alternatives.)
Barr, of course, is a statist with a horrible record and this post is not meant to praise him. But is it really true that Chuck Baldwin is "more libertarian" than Barr, as the rightwing paleolibertarians insist? Nope, not really.
Just because someone is a supporter of Ron Paul does NOT make him a libertarian.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Voters are stupider than politicians because, one, they inexplicably ascribe a high level of intelligence to their vaunted leaders and, two, they delude themselves that this separates their leaders from those across the aisle. The professional criminal class must at least be somewhat smarter (and less ignorant) than the voters because they treat the voters like complete idiots, which is appropriate.
I couldn't agree more. The American people are just plain stupid. What is so amazing to me is the lengths to which Democratic and Republican voters will go to make themselves believe there's a difference between the two parties-- no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary.
Since most of my friends are Republicans (yuck), I get an up-close look at this sort of idiocy on a regular basis. At a recent party, I annoyed several of them for suggesting McCain may lack some degree of sanity, and George W. Bush may, just may, be a bit of an idiot. Needless to say, they would shit a canary if they read anything on this blog.
One of them actually praised the "stimulus"--no joke. Insert laugh track here. Yes, that's right: even watered-down Bob Barr style libertarianism would be completely unhinged, reckless insanity to them (and to most of the American public).
Say what you want about Tucker Carlson, but the man did an excellent job (starting at 7:15) of explaining why libertarianism isn't and will never be popular. It requires people to think instead of forcing others to do what they want. I would say the same about market anarchism.
In any ideological movement, the temptation to take quick shortcuts, the lure of betraying principle for supposed short-run gain, can become almost irresistible. But usually sellouts have occurred after the movement has taken power, or else when it is teetering on the brink of power. But it is surely rare for an ideological movement to sell out when it merely sniffs the faintest whiff of possible power some day in the future. Surely this is gutlessness and venality of an unusually high order. Yet this began to happen to the growing libertarian movement in early 1979, and is happening right now before our eyes.
This new opportunist strategy we might call, with considerable and much-merited sarcasm, the "quick-victory" model. The reasoning goes something like this: All this principle stuff is just a drag on the machinery. We can gain a rapid and enormous leap forward in votes, money, membership, and media influence. But to gain these great goals we must quietly but effectively bury these annoying principles, which only put off voters, money, influence, etc.
The problem, of course, is that even if money, votes, and influence are achieved by this route, what are they being achieved for? A major purpose, for example, of the Libertarian Party is to educate the public, but to educate them to what? Presumably, to libertarian principles. But if we present to the public watered-down pap hardly distinguishable from liberals, conservatives, or centrists on various issues, there will be no true education. The public will receive education, not in liberty, but in pap, and whatever votes are achieved will not be for liberty but for watered-down treacle. In the process, our glorious principles are betrayed and forgotten, and so the cause of liberty is worse off, even with several million votes, than it was before the sellout strategy took hold. So everyone loses, and no one benefits – except perhaps the opportunists themselves, who may personally gain in power and income from the whole shabby process.
How, then, were the opportunist connivers going to handle all the stiff-necked and principled purists in the Libertarian Party? The answer was simple, and typical of the process of betrayal occurring in ideological parties: Let the purists have their platform, which indeed has gotten harder core and more radical with each national convention. And then, simply control the Presidential candidate, and he ignores the platform. And then the party can quietly go to hell, except of course when needed as foot soldiers for ballot drives. Besides, they believed they could get away with this strategy with only a minimum of hassle from us purist malcontents. So far, in fact, the tactic has worked, and will continue to work unless and until genuine libertarians throughout the country rouse themselves and begin to do something effective about it. And the first step is to raise all of our voices loud and clear against this repellent takeover of our party.
Read the rest here.
Prophetic? You decide.