Stop vb. , to arrest the progress of; to hinder; to impede; to cease

State n. , a gang of thieves writ large; a territorial monopolist of compulsion and
ultimate decision-making (jurisdiction) which may engage in continual, institutionalized property rights violations and exploitation in the form of expropriation, taxation, and regulation of private property owners; the group within society that claims for itself the exclusive right to rule everyone under a special set of laws that permit it to do to others what everyone else is rightly prohibited from doing, namely aggressing against person and property.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Libertarianism in The Hunger Games Trilogy

It’s no surprise that many state worshippers are quickly dismissing The Hunger Games trilogy as just another teenage romance story like the Twilight series, showing they are either too stupid to understand the many specific messages of the story or do see the messages but don’t want other people noticing them – especially the youth.  I’ve seen some reviews where the trilogy has even been lumped into the category of being no more than a children’s series and associated with Harry Potter and Dr. Seuss.   

Suzanne Collins did indeed write these books for young people and she should be commended for this.  Instead of writing off the youth as a bunch of fools, she realizes, just like Ron Paul, that it is the young who have received the least brainwashing at this point in their lives.

The story is extremely dangerous to the State because seeds have been and will continue to be planted in people’s minds that maybe governments aren’t run by benevolent, selfless people, but rather sadistic, self-glorifying sociopaths.

Some on the left may perceive the first book as a battle between rich and poor, a portrayal of Marxist class theory, due to the protagonists all being poor and the antagonists all being extravagantly wealthy, but it is actually a perfect example of libertarian class struggle.  The story is a battle between the tax payers and the tax eaters, although of a Soviet-level severity.  

The Capital rules over twelve separate districts, similar to the United States, and each separate district is charged with producing a different good for the Capital including coal, agriculture, fabrics,  and electronics.  The only approved jobs most people can get are working for the government in some way, the majority working in whatever line of production the Capital demands of their district.  Nearly all of what is produced goes straight to the Capital – not sold in voluntary exchanges, but expropriated by the Capital.  

Most people, since they are severely restricted by the State in freely finding their places in the division of labor of an outlawed free market, are barely able to survive and starvation is always a looming problem.  Leaving the districts is punishable by death and tall electric fences border the territories (to keep dangerous animals away, of course).

This is where any possibility of Marxist undertones vanishes: the people rely on black markets for their survival.  It is reiterated many times by the main character Katniss that if it weren’t for the illicit market in her town, where people trade outlawed products and food for profit, survival would be impossible.  The small bit of capitalism they illegally enjoy is what keeps them alive.  It is clear that the government is the exploiter and the agorist entrepreneurs are heroes worthy of the highest praise.

The Hunger Games are the most sinister government program of the Capital.  75 years before the books take place, the districts initiated a rebellion against the Capital.  The Capital responded by completely nuking one of the districts into oblivion.  To rub salt in the wound and have the superiority of the State constantly displayed, the Capital annually conscripts two teenagers from every district and forces them to slaughter each other in an arena.  The victor is rewarded with a wealthy life and celebrity among the creatures of the Capital and the victor’s district is given slightly more food than the other districts for the next year.  

The spectacle is covered by the lapdog media in a stylish and fun fashion as if there is nothing morally wrong about the Hunger Games whatsoever.  The people of the Capital view the games with excited pleasure, but the people of the districts are forced to view the event on big screens so their spirits can be crushed under the omnipotence of the State.

Most disturbing is how the State itself presents this event.  The Capital considers the games to be a great, generous program and the coerced participants are treated as if they are the lucky recipients of the most wonderful opportunity.

It is the second book where the role of police comes into focus.  The presence of peacekeepers in the districts increases exponentially as the Capital realizes the growing opposition among their subjects.  The citizens aren’t fooled by the Orwellian term “peacekeeper” and are quite aware that the role of the enforcers is to keep the tax slaves obedient to the capital.  The peacekeepers’ primary goal at this point is to squelch all dissent and disobedience, no matter how small. 

As you can imagine, the types of people attracted to the “job” of being a peacekeeper are sadists who immensely enjoy dominating other people.  Peacekeepers who openly object to the brutality of their superiors are severely punished, insuring that no moral person joins or remains among the Capital enforcers.

Mass rebellion eventually breaks out as the level of tyranny becomes intolerable, but, unfortunately, government power itself is not the enemy of the rebellion, just the particular present regime.

Libertarians will be pleased to see that the question Collins seems to be pondering by the third book isn’t what type of government is best, but whether we should even be governed at all.  The reader is left with an undeniable feeling that the people of Panem would be better off not only without the current regime, but without the supposedly better replacement as well.

The reader is also urged to be highly suspicious of those who seek to grab state power away for themselves from tyrants as a strategy of advancing freedom, as they may very quickly resort to acts that make them just as evil in the process.

The primary issue of the series is war and it is at the final chapters where interstate war receives the complete uncompromising, unrelenting condemnation it deserves.  There is no glory depicted.   Libertarians often correctly point out that wars between countries are in fact wars between governments, but Collins shows wars between governments for what they really are: the State versus every single one of us.  All sides will eventually commit atrocities, all sides become indefensible, no innocent on any side is safe from the State, and the people who bear the greatest costs are almost always those who least deserve it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It'll Never Come from the Top

The only way to advance liberty for the long-term and maintain our progress is through education.  People’s minds must be changed one at a time.  There are no shortcuts.  

Many libertarians, to use the label broadly, don’t like to hear this because dedication to this strategy requires patience, maybe lifelong patience.  They want to believe that they can hijack the political system and change it to their liking.  They want to believe that if we simply elect the right president or the right batch of pseudo-libertarian Republicans next congressional term, then liberty will rain down from Washington.

Selling out, often euphemistically referred to as pragmatism, is essential to this political strategy.  The average person is afraid of liberty and so no one could ever currently get elected on a platform of principled libertarianism.  Libertarian political candidates must toss the core principles of the philosophy to the wayside.  Too often they’re commended for this.  “He’s not a sellout, he’s pragmatic.”  Marijuana decriminalization is fine, but full drug legalization becomes a no-no.  You can be against the decade-old and unpopular Iraq and Afghanistan wars (not for any moral reason, or course, but because this is finally a politically feasible position now that no one really cares), but sanctions on Iran are a must – or else the warmongering, bloodthirsty, murderous Republicans might not like you.

“Libertarian” political candidates are largely immune from libertarian criticism.  If, or rather when, one of them sells out and trades in a politically unfeasible libertarian position for a much more feasible statist position (often regarding the most important issue of all: war), the political strategist types assure the principled libertarians that the politician, “our inside guy”, is simply “playing the game to get elected” and when it’s safe to do so he’ll unleash libertarianism all over Leviathan! 

Much worse, principled libertarians who call out “libertarian” politicians over their statist blunders are often accused of sabotaging this supposed effort for liberty.  We’re ruining the “play the games to get elected” Trojan horse strategy.  Have they ever considered the fact that this strategy has no record of significant long-term success at all for libertarians?

The game playing never ends.  Once the politician is finally in office he then has to keep playing the game in order to get reelected, then he has to play the game to achieve higher office, and so on. 

The establishment is aware of this.  They hold these possibilities of high office in front of fresh libertarian politicians like a carrot on a stick.  The pragmatists urge the principled to just shut up and tolerate the game playing because the carrot is always just within our grasp.  Just keep selling out and we’ll get one of our guys into the president’s cabinet, as we’ve been told recently.

Some radical libertarians allege that the “work within the system” dogma came from the system to keep people feeling insignificant and powerless.  The political activist trying to change the State is just another cog in a machine surrounded by other cogs who seek to preserve it.  I believe there is a lot of truth to this, but another effect of this “work in the system” method is that it seems to very quickly seduce libertarians into becoming advocates of and apologists for the system.  There is no shortage of cases where a libertarian goes off to work in D.C. or on a politician’s campaign and quickly develops an elitist, politician-like swagger.  If simply being an American produces a nationalist arrogance among most people, I can’t imagine what arrogance must be produced by working within D.C., the capital of the largest, most powerful empire in world history. 

It must also be acknowledged that beltway libertarian think tanks who seek to influence the political class, instead of the common person, benefit immensely from the State.  If there were to be a libertarian revolution tomorrow, the beltarians would all have to look for new jobs.  This means that they have a genuine incentive not only to preserve the State, but even help it grow.

On a smaller scale, individuals who choose to earn their income by working on political campaigns often adopt a much rosier view of working in the system as they are relying on this line of work to pay their bills.

Those who advocate working within the government also often seem to be the kinds of people who themselves desire to run for office one day and have power over others, or at the least have some kind of meaningful influence over another possessor of political power.  The outrage they often express when someone belittles the use of the political process is very telling of this.  Are they perceiving this criticism of using the political process as an attack on their desire to be a wielder of power one day?

The hard truth libertarians need to hear is that real libertarians will never be permitted to have any influence on Leviathan.  Self-preservation is its highest end, followed by constant growth towards its ultimate goal of becoming a total state.  All governments desire to be totalitarian and are constantly testing the boundaries of how much oppression they can convince their subjects to tolerate.

We will never be allowed to get close enough to whisper in the emperor’s ear and, even if we were, the emperor is the absolute least likely person in society to listen.  One does not become a member of the most powerful criminal gang of oppressors because of his willingness to empathize with the oppressed. 

“But what about Ron Paul?!” 

Ron Paul is the opposite of a Trojan horse.  He’s never played the games.  Ron Paul goes on national TV calling taxation theft, calling government nothing but force, and calling the U.S. government an empire.  Ron Paul says the South had the right to secede, he supports full drug legalization, supports trading with Cuba, opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 due to its invasions on private property rights, and completely opposes all wealth redistribution period.  He proudly takes these bold positions and doesn’t care a single bit about the consequences.  Ron Paul would rather lose an election than sell out.  Ron Paul isn’t in the presidential race to win, he’s in it to give as many speeches and get on TV as much as he can and talk about liberty – planting seeds in millions of people’s minds.  Ron Paul is an educator.  He just wants to get kids reading Mises and Rothbard.

Ron Paul has indeed been magnificently effective at this, but unfortunately he is also a rarest outlier.  He has been performing this role for four decades now and, unlike most other libertarian politicians, has only gotten more radical – even calling himself a “voluntaryist” on national TV, a term Murray Rothbard coined in his book Man, Economy, and State to describe a society where the initiation of force is entirely prohibited and individuals enjoy full self-ownership. 

This is what it takes for a position in the political system to genuinely be used for education, if we are to even use it at all.  The libertarian politician educator must be completely pure and radical and not worry at all about whether this will result in not getting reelected.  The focus should always be on the root, not the branches.  Unfortunately, it appears that Ron Paul is the only politician in American history who has been able to resist the aphrodisiac of power so consistently.

It must also be recognized that Ron Paul as a congressman has done basically nothing at all for liberty.  His record number of “no” votes never stopped any government expansion.  His only bill to ever pass was the Audit the Fed bill, which has had basically no effect at all on the Fed.

The great majority of the good Ron Paul has done has been as a private individual, introducing people to libertarian principles one crowd, one TV audience, and one YouTube viewer at a time.

Political types will be quick to point out that being a congressman and presidential candidate is what has gotten Ron Paul on TV so much.  This is true, but Ron Paul is also proof of the effectiveness of not playing the political games and selling out.  If playing the game is such a sound strategy, why is Ron Paul so much more popular among regular people than the “small-L” “libertarians”?  Why is there no Bob Barr revolution or Gary Johnson revolution?

Now let us ponder the utopian best case scenario for Ron Paul.  He goes third party and wins the presidency thanks to his wide appeal among non-Republicans.  He pardons all the non-violent offenders from prison.  He’s able to get congressional cooperation to abolish the Fed, along with 90% of the federal government.  He brings the troops home from everywhere.  He stops the impending war with Iran.   What long-term good is this if the average person does not understand liberty?  Even this absolute best case scenario can only be considered a temporary band-aid.  How long will it be before people are demanding the welfare-state again after Ron Paul is out of office?  How long will it be before some demagogue politician wins the presidency on a platform of warring with an unpopular nation, kicking the warfare state back into gear?

Now let us consider a slightly more realistic, but still utopian, scenario.  Ron Paul wins the presidency.  The entire congress is filled with politicians who benefit tremendously from the current system and will fight tooth and nail to preserve it.  Nearly half the American population is enjoying some type of tax-funded government handout.  More people than ever have government jobs in departments Ron Paul would like to abolish.  They will not like Ron Paul.  Ron Paul is probably glad he most likely can’t win so he doesn’t have to be put in this position.  I believe he is even on recent record saying he doesn’t want to be president.

If Ron Paul can’t make liberty rain down from the top, nobody can.  This is an effort that can only come from the ground up.  It all comes first from education.  People’s minds must be changed one at a time.  Reading should be every libertarian’s top priority.  Libertarians should focus on keeping the philosophy as pure and principled as possible.  It’s all about the ideas.  If we sell those out, or never have them figured out to begin with, then all activism of any kind from that point is wasted effort.

As Etienne de la Boettie explains in The Politics of Obedience, all governments rely solely on the consent of their subjects.  As more people learn about liberty, the consent of the tax-slaves will vanish along with the State.

This is far from an impossible task and the internet is making it exponentially easier every day. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Abolish All Government Roads Right Now

One of the most common objections against a private property order is the issue of roads.  "Roads are a public good!  Government must be in charge of them," says the skeptic.  "What if someone didn't want to give up their property?  Government must use force to make them cooperate.  Won't there be toll booths every five feet?  What if a fat cat buys up every single road and charges a hundred dollars per mile to use them?"

Of course I urge all libertarians to check out Walter Block's great work on the marketization of roads and prepare themselves to challenge this objection head on, explaining why people voluntarily interacting in the market would find a way to handle them, as they did for most of America's history before government monopolized this service.

But I believe an even better response is to simply point out the prehistoric nature of roads and advocate for their abolishment completely.  The time of the flying car is now and debating how the market would provide some relic of an old world is just stupid.

All government roads should be sold off and the proceeds given back to the taxpayers according to who paid the most for the roads and all regulations concerning flying cars should be abolished.  I suppose I'll sell out and take the moderate position that there may be a one or two year transition period allowed.

Every major breakthrough in transportation came from entrepreneurs: James J. Hill, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Ford, and now the heroes of PAL-V are on the edge of providing us with the next transportation revolution.

So, without further waiting, the flying car:



Response to a reasonable objection:

A friend responds that she likes driving and isn't crazy about flying around.  Her loss, but no worries.  Private entrepreneurs will cater to this niche market of people clinging to their roads. Just as we have scissors for left-handed people and soy burgers for wimpy people, roads will exist for those who want roads.  Believe it or not, you can even still buy VCRs.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Buncha Memes

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I'm a great big jerk and jerks like me will tear the liberty movement apart.  Heard it all before.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

Leaky Government Pipes

This is a leaky government pipe next to my house.  It’s been leaking a constant stream of water non-stop for several days since I noticed it.  I have no way of knowing how long it had been leaking before I found it.  Probably a few days.   You can hear the water smacking against the concrete from half a block away.  

I tried tightening those two valves.  No effect.  This will require further adjustments.  Probably not much.  Probably just some tightening of a few of those nuts.  But I’m not doing it.  I already pay part of the salaries of the government workers who are supposed to be out fixing this stuff.  They’re not very busy.  All the time I see them parked in their service trucks under shady trees while they listen to the radio.

You don’t have to live by this pipe to see this whole photo is of public property.  It looks awful.  The road, the pipe, the concrete, the grass - it all looks dilapidated.  It looks like it’s from the set of a dystopian sci-fi movie.

Go to just about any random private business and the environment will look much more attractive than this. 

The Wal-Mart in my town looks just as new and shiny as it did when they opened it nearly a decade ago.  It’s a work of art compared to this.  The owners of Wal-Mart have a financial incentive to preserve the capital value of their property.  Disney’s Magic Kingdom opened up in Florida over forty years ago and it looks better than ever.  Imagine what the anarcho-capitalist “private property order” Hans-Hermann Hoppe theorizes about would look like, a world where every piece of property is justly in the hands of private owners who care about preserving their property and will suffer losses if they don't

No one has any incentive to maintain the condition of public property.  You won’t enjoy any personal benefit, other than maybe a small bit of happiness, if you went out and tried to clean up the public property in your town.  You only own maybe a ten-thousandth of the property - and you really don’t even own that or else you’d be allowed to sell that share. 

I wonder how much this leaky pipe will end up costing the tax-slaves in my town.  I wonder how many other pipes are leaking like this around town.  I wonder how many government pipes are leaking like this all around America.  What would the bill for that be?  What would the bill be for all the leaky government pipes all around the world?  It must be bigger than the entire GDPs of a lot of countries.

The government has no incentive at all to fix this pipe.  They’re not paying for it, the tax payers are.  Government has no wealth of its own.  Everything it has was stolen from the private productive class at gun point.

I can’t wait to recycle this blog post the next time the Florida government institutes summer water rationing policies and tells us it all our fault because of our swimming pools and lawn watering.