The overwhelming majority of state supporters are not philosophical statists, i.e., because they have thought about the matter. Most people do not think much about anything philosophical. They go about their daily lives, and that is it. So most support stems from the mere fact that a state exists, and has always existed as far as one can remember (and that is typically not farther away than one’s own lifetime). That is, the greatest achievement of the statist intellectuals is the fact that they have cultivated the masses’ natural intellectual laziness (or incapacity) and never allowed for the subject to come up for serious discussion. The state is considered as an unquestionable part of the social fabric.
The first and foremost task of the intellectual anti-intellectuals, then, is to counter this dogmatic slumber of the masses by offering a precise definition of the state, as I have done at the outset, and then to ask if there is not something truly remarkable, odd, strange, awkward, ridiculous, indeed ludicrous about an institution such as this. I am confident that such simple, definitional work will produce some serious doubt regarding an institution that one previously had been taken for granted.
“It is evident that the common enthusiasm for equality is, in the fundamental sense, anti-human. It tends to repress the flowering of individual personality and diversity, and civilization itself; it is a drive toward savage uniformity. Since abilities and interests are naturally diverse, a drive toward making people equal in all or most respects is necessarily a leveling downward. It is a drive against development of talent, genius, variety, and reasoning power. Since it negates the very principles of human life and human growth, the creed of equality and uniformity is a creed of death and destruction.”—Education Free & Compulsory by Murray N. Rothbard
“Justice removed, then, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers? What are bands of robbers themselves but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is governed by the authority of a ruler; it is bound together by a pact of association; and the loot is divided according to an agreed law. If, by the constant addition of desperate men, this scourge grows to such a size that it acquires territory, establishes a seat of government, occupies cities and subjugates people, it assumes the name of kingdom more openly. For this name is now manifestly conferred upon it not by the removal of greed, but by the addition of impunity. It was a pertinent and true answer that was made to Alexander the Great by a pirate whom he had seized. When the king asked him what he meant by infesting the sea, the pirate defiantly replied: “The same as you do when you infest the whole world; but because I do it with a little ship I am called a robber, and because you do it with a great fleet, you are an emperor.”—Saint Augustine, The City of God Against the Pagans, ed. trans. R.W. Dyson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 147-48, bk. IV, ch. 4.
“The direction of all economic affairs is in the market society a task of the entrepreneurs. Theirs is the control of production. They are at the helm and steer the ship. A superficial observer would believe that they are supreme. But they are not. They are bound to obey unconditionally the captain’s orders. The captain is the consumer. Neither the entrepreneurs nor the farmers nor the capitalists determine what has to be produced. The consumers do that. If a businessman does not strictly obey the orders of the public as they are conveyed to him by the structure of market prices, he suffers losses, he goes bankrupt, and is thus removed from his eminent position at the helm. Other men who did better in satisfying the demand of the consumers replace him.”—Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, p.270
Two general questions: (1) are you optimistic for a libertarian community--even a small one--in our lifetime, and (2) how do you personally believe this movement of sorts will happen? I'm optimistic about the Free State Project but I'm extremely pessimistic lately about a greater scale of libertarian ideas catching on.
Heya Brian, (1) a friend of mine over in NYC, met Patri Friedman (Seasteading Institute) the other day. My friend says he was informed by Patri, that he had met with the Honduras government, who put through a law there allowing for charter cities. It took them only 6 weeks. So this could transpire as early as next year. The new law would allow for semi-autonomous zones. I asked “semi?”, the response was ‘yes, the government will still have a say over certain things - I don’t know all the details - but I think allow them to have their own courts.’
So there is some hope there. I think the existence of the internet definitely makes the prospect/appeal of the ‘sea-steading platforms’ far greater than it otherwise would be. Essentially, you don’t need to go ‘Galt’s Gulch’. While I support such endeavors, even just for arguments sake - I tend to side with Rothbard on their likelihood.
On the New Libertarian Country:
For over a decade now I have heard the drums beat for the new Eden, an island, natural or man-made, that would live in either anarchistic or Randian bliss. One would think that if man can really learn from experience, then the total and abject failure of each and every one of these cockamamie stunts should have sent all of their supporters a “message”; namely, to come back to the real world and fight for liberty at home. Come to think of it, I don’t see very many of the New Countryites schlepping out to Minerva, Abaco, Atlantis, an ocean platform, or a moon of Jupiter. Once again, I would love at least a year of these brethren removing themselves from the consciousness of the rest of us: either by remaining silent and returning to concerns nearer home, or, preferably, really hieing themselves posthaste to the New Atlantis and Randspeed to them.
That was written in 1975. So essentially, these ideas have been around since 1965 with no real success. While the recent venture may be more successful, I don’t think it’s an applicable strategy for the rest of us. I am optimistic, but even if not I’d be doing what I am anyway. Why be optimistic? I think the crisis will make people search for answers & the internet is here to help put forward the proper position. Libertarianism is the fastest growing political movement in the world.
(2) Everyone has their own take on strategy and what the best method is. The answer is that of ‘guerrilla warfare’: the more strategies the better; education, secession, civil disobedience, seasteading etc. Although some are far less likely to be fruitful than others; for eg. the lawyers who try argue within the system for liberty (no chance). How do I think this could happen? If the Ron Paul supporters/free staters directed their efforts to ‘taking over’ local governments would be a great start.
“Hans-Hermann Hoppe has discussed in several places the possibility of ‘taking over’ city governments through the current political system and seceding on the municipal level. He gives several advantages to such a strategy, but it seems the largest advantage is the fact that this is a possibility. A well-run campaign could take over a city government and enact many key reforms that, once successful and recognized as such, would lead to more anti-statist reforms. There would soon exist in the United States a functioning and legitimately sized an-cap society that would prove to Americans across the nation that the state is unnecessary.”
When the state ends up being unable to even perform the tasks it said to be required for and best at (security), individuals seek out alternatives. In the UK this happened, even prior to the riots. A community was fed up with the lack of police, so they hired a private security firm to patrol. This decreased crime and increased the value of their properties, neighborhood etc. The obvious link here is to insurance companies.
I don’t think everyone needs to accept libertarianism for it to ‘catch on’, nor do I think there even needs to be a majority who understand it before it’s influence is shown. Those who are apathetic will go along with whatever is seen as the norm. I think going forward, there is the need for the anti-state intellectuals who operate outside statist institutions such as the LvMI to team up with businesses / entrepreneurs / companies / investors that are actively being negatively affected by the state, in an effort to grow the base and spread the message. Either way, we’re definitely living in ‘interesting times.’
“The situation is not irreversible… [G]overnment intervention is beset by ‘inner contradictions’… breakdowns are inevitable and are coming faster in response to the stimulus of intervention-here the rational expectations people have some good points. Progressive and synergistic breakdowns in domestic and foreign intervention might lead to crises and fairly rapid and even sudden reversions to freedom. Note, for example, the remarkable, even if gradual, shift from Stalinism to free markets in Yugoslavia, the developing shift out of Maoism in China, and at least the public sentiments if not the reality underlying conservative regimes in the U.S. and England, growth in free-market and libertarian views in Western Europe, etc. And remember that the public choicers are wrong that revolutions can never occur.”—Murray N. Rothbard
Hey, so since you always seem to have a wealth of information, I thought you could help me. I was researching media concentration all day today, and it seems to me that a few people have taken hold of the dissemination of information quite easily without the help or interference of the state. Is this a good/bad thing? Or does the state actually have a role to play in concentration of media? Would you know? =P
Hey hey :), sure I think I can help. Given the role governments play in approving/disallowing mergers, and of getting over-the-air and radio broadcast “rights”, I don’t see how government isn’t a part of it. Seems like you found a good source in that Media Concentration article from Mises. Rothbard has some good stuff on the nationalization of tv & radio in For a New Liberty, pg73.
"There is one important area of American life where no effective freedom of speech or the press does or can exist under the present system. That is the entire field of radio and television. In this area, the federal government, in the crucially important Radio Act of 1927, nationalized the airwaves. In effect, the federal government took title to ownership of all radio and television channels."
So the problems can all really be traced back to there. “Pirate” radio was outlawed etc. The government charges licenses (massive fees, hence the need for all those ads), and can take away the license at any time. See the FCC. That is why commercial stations are less likely to attack the government & instead cozy up to it, it’s in their interests. That is why you thus get the “public programs” which appear more ‘intellectual’ by doing ‘investigative journalism’ but which more often than not do nothing but attack parts of private enterprise. This is pretty much the case now, but (praise be to the market) the cable-only stations need no license, at least not a broadcast one. They don’t broadcast, they are ‘content providing’ hahah, a technicality which works in their favor.
So state intervention is bad, as you know. The state has no role to play in the concentration of media. It’s monopoly on the radio & television spectrum is what causes problems. The radio and television spectrum should be private.
The internet is obviously a big game changer. Notice, there is no problem about media concentration there, it’s the exact opposite. Although, as a side issue if someone was to point towards the massive companies such as Google & Microsoft, they are entrepreneurial but then with IP & patents they get granted a monopoly over an idea/concept, and can restrict competition that way. Not sure if that is what you were after, but some info none the less haha.
“People can consume only what has been produced. The great problem of our age is precisely this: Who should determine what is to be produced and consumed, the people or the State, the consumers themselves or a paternal government? If one decides in favor of the consumers, one chooses the market economy. If one decides in favor of the government, one chooses socialism. There is no third solution.”—Ludwig von Mises, Economic Freedom and Interventionism, ed. Bettina Bien Greaves (New York: Foundation for Economic Education, 1990), p. 47
I commend you on being one of the few intellectually stimulating blogs I follow, so good job for that. I've been reading into libertarian beliefs and whatnot, trying to get a feel for it, and so far it seems like it's mainly based on self-serving objectives. Would it not be better to have a more harmonious system, where people work together for the rights that they want? Correct me if I'm ignorant as fuck. Hahah.
Thanks! :D And a ton of respect goes to you for being open minded enough not to have contempt for something prior to investigation. Not many people can handle that :). Admittedly I would be pretty amazed if, after a short bit of research, yourself or anyone else were to become immediately enlightened & convinced of the logical conclusions that result from accepting the premises of: self-ownership & original appropriation. There are always objections that quickly spring to mind when first presented with a new idea/political philosophy. We all go through them, it’s natural. Being ignorant about things isn’t bad per se. I am incredibly ignorant about so much (the natural sciences etc). But knowing that you are, and what you are ignorant of is important. You seem to have that knack.
An understanding of economics [the Austrian School] helps a great deal, because it shows what is possible & what is not i.e (If you choose this policy [means], will it result in the intended goal [ends]? Or the exact opposite? For eg. the minimum wage laws actually hurt the unemployed & poor people the most).
I’d be interested in where you’ve been reading up on libertarianism, because I’d argue it’s actually the least ‘selfish’ position of them all (using the threat of force to take other peoples voluntarily acquired property hardly seems selfless). It is easy to be ‘compassionate’ when others have to bear the cost. Not only that, but it’s the most harmonious as well - only by recognizing private property rules can conflict be reduced and harmony promoted, i.e that is why it is often called ‘the natural order.’ The beauty is that if someone wants to go set up a commune [wherever that is with their property], they would be free to do so. That same consideration and ‘tolerance’ is not shown to supporters of liberty.
I also think you’d like/be interested in this book; Healing Our World by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, especially Chapter 8 - Destroying The Environment. If I didn’t answer your question well enough, let us know. Happy thinking! ;D
"…The most painful part in writing this is that nothing I’m saying is new.
So why is this battle still being fought? Worse yet: why does it seem that we’re losing? Minimum wage is one of the absolute simplest issues to address rationally, and yet the irrational law enjoys overwhelmingly popular support.
Abstract arguments and ethical principles leave people cold. They say that they are “results oriented”—which would seem to imply a belief in the positive economic consequences of price fixing. But when confronted with basic economic theory and history, they remain unconvinced.
Because to them, minimum wage law feels right. They don’t like thinking of someone working for less than $X per hour. To them, it therefore follows that no one should be allowed to hire a person for less than $X per hour. They don’t see it as a prohibition on labor; they see it as a blow against the oppressive bosses!
They associate the libertarian position not with principle or conviction, but with cold hearts, greed, and selfishness. What we call freedom of contract, they call exploitation. What we call reason, they are convinced is merely rationalization.
This is emotional alignment. Symbolic self-image. People who seem to care about the poor tend to support minimum wage law; therefore someone who wants to support the poor supports the position of that group. It’s as if reality itself could be defined by majority rules.
“I am a progressive, therefore I support progressive legislation.” Or, “The Christian position is X, and I’m a Christian, therefore I support X.”
It’s all based in the belief (habit, reflex) that an issue isn’t about a principle, isn’t about reason, but is always about whose side you’re on. There’s management and there’s labor. The rich and the poor. Exploiters and exploited. Minimum wage law is seen as siding with labor, siding with the poor, the underdog. To oppose minimum wage law is to side with management, to support the rich over the poor.
And of course, the whole context is the damned Class Warfare assumption that Marx managed to plant in the brains of even the most ardent anti-communists. An appreciation of market economics reveals the mutually beneficial nature of trade (as would simple philosophical rigor), but our culture has been indoctrinated with the image of economics-as-warfare. People believe that the rich take wealth from the rest of us, rather than creating wealth for the rest of us. To side with the rich in our dichotomous symbology would be to side with the thief over the victim, and no amount of principled argument—or even practical disproof—will shake that impression out of someone’s head when it’s been lodged in there for so long.
What is to be done?
Should libertarians abandon principles and persuasion in favor of symbolism and emotional manipulation? Perhaps we should focus more on public relations and advertising than on philosophy and economics.
No, there’s nothing wrong with E1 or E2. They are the realms of reason. Abandoning our heads for our hearts leaves us with only arbitrary next steps. But persuasion requires more than reason. It might be less about teaching and more about helping people unlearn certain mental reflexes.
From now on, if I’m going to discuss minimum wage law (or any other regulation, prohibition, or legislation) with a supporter, I’ll say up front that I’m going to address three different perspectives on the same issue, and I’ll introduce them to the 3E approach. There’s not much I can do to change someone’s symbolic alignment or their emotional reflexes, but by making these things an explicit part of the conversation, I can hope to reduce the hold they have on a person’s moral imagination.”
“It is the calm before the storm. Don’t forget to take a walk, smell the fresh cut grass, laugh with your kids, run around in the rain and jump in a puddle, bake some cookies, take some photos, look up at the stars and smile.
This planet will spin, it will move around the sun, the grass will grow, the oceans will rise and fall with the tide, and the birds will fly weather we are around or not.
Each one of us is aware of our selves in the time span of a blink of an eye compared to the vast cosmic sea of time. What we do within that blink of an eye is up to us.
We can choose to love or we can choose to hate. One always overcomes the other.
Hahaha. Because it’s watered down rubbish? I don’t know. No-one, and I pretty much mean no-one in Australia drinks it. I’d venture to bet most young guns wouldn’t even know what it is. Only outside of Australia; i.e UK and USA do they market it. Basically, the general trend for Brewing/Wine Companies I think is to keep the best wines/beer here, win awards, then send the rest of the not so flash stuff overseas and ride off the ‘foreign’ marketing. Similar, Quicksilver isn’t cool here, nor is Billabong.. apparently they’re massive in the states though?
“For why must we assume that the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries ever really enjoyed full and complete socialism? There are many reasons to believe that, try as they might, the communist rulers were never able to impose total socialism and central planning. For one thing, it is now known that the entire Soviet economy and society has been shot through with a vast network of black markets and evasions of controls, fueled by a pervasive system of bribery known as blat to allow escape from those controls. Managers who could not meet their annual production quotas were approached by illegal entrepreneurs and labor teams to help them meet the quotas and get paid off the books. And black markets in foreign exchange have long been familiar to every tourist. Long before the Eastern European collapse of communism, these countries stopped trying to stamp out their black markets in hard currency, even though they were blatantly visible in the streets of Warsaw, Budapest, and Prague. Without uncontrolled black markets fueled by bribery, the communist economies may well have collapsed long ago.”—Murray N. Rothbard, The End of Socialism and the Calculation Debate Revisited.