Saturday, December 15, 2007

On Electoral Politics

It seems to me that there are only two "strategies" for voting that make any sense, and one of them is only an action out of despair.
The first is "always dis-elect" - that is, always vote against the incumbent (and whomever he may support, it may take some thinking to figure this out). As long as the incumbent supports using a monopoly of violence against non-violent people, vote against him, no matter what else he believes. Once politicians are forced into a de-facto one term limit, they'll get the message. This is the politics of despair though. It's essentially saying "we know we can't stop you but we can put a limit to your excesses".

The other is "worse is better". This actually has a chance to do some good. Vote for, and support the worst possible candidate in terms of freedom and justice (and do so openly on the basis of "worse is better", so no one gets the wrong idea). We aren't far from the brink of collapse, and honestly, to use a recent example, the only reason why Ron Paul has the support he does, is because things are so fucked right now. When people see an extreme, concrete example of what their ideology leads to, they will revise their ideology. This is because most people, as ethically destroyed as they are by the propaganda engines of our society, still retain a measure of self interest and pragmatism. Their self interest may be idiotic, which is why "worse is better"... they will only respond to extreme stimuli at this point.
Pay the bill quickly, despite the pain involved.

Some thoughts on suicide

If someone is suffering so much that they really want to kill themselves, and you pressure them to stay alive, you are essentially advocating their torture. You want to keep them alive and suffering for your own agenda.

Now, if you intend to aid and relieve their suffering, that's a different story. But most people who try to stop other people from killing themselves have no intention to do anything serious to change the other person's life. (or you would have done it before it got that far)
The ethical freedom to take your own life is the root of all other freedom, it is the ultimate act of self-ownership.

Saying "oh it's not that bad" (or something of that sort) is a horrible thing to say.
It shows your own inconsideration of the other person's subjectivity. Their situation might not seem too bad to you, but you have no ethical right to superimpose your values on their condition. It's oppressive and disgusting.

If society had a more evenhanded attitude toward suicide, the power structure as we know it would fall. People would be killing themselves a lot more often than most of us suspect.
I believe this is why most of the "moral" arguments and emotional sentiments against suicide exist. In order to torture and subdue people that are unhappy with the situation to the point where it is intolerable to them. This aids the power structure by creating a vast number of people who are surviving (and thus feeding the system) even though society at large has failed them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ran Prieur
This guy is definitely worth reading... I haven't been reading long enough to know completely where he's at but when he hits the target, he hits it...
Plus, he's doing that sort of global system analysis that I try to do, coming from the idea that everything is an analogy for everything else...

Interesting that he's found the same problem that I have:
namely, when you do that, you find yourself drifting into politics all the time, even though it's not what you really were planning to think about.

Now this is a very interesting factor to me. What it seems to tell me is that:
1. Most of the global human system has been infected by politics to some extent or another.
2. Most of the resistance, which of course creates counter-resistance, comes from political ideas.
3. The modern form of the civilization virus, the black iron prison, is the Church of State.
Though I am an anarchist of some sort, technically, what's more important to me than directly opposing the State (which doesn't really work, for reasons that Philip K Dick hinted at very succinctly) is to de-mythologize it.
To get people to see it as it is, and when I say that, by way of analogy, imagine what "the government" feels like to someone who is a government official.
Whose 9-5 crappy job is to be a high ranking government official.
Now, you might be able to argue on some Benthamite/Hobbsean utilitarian ground that we need a super-mafia to bully us into submission lest we fall into raw violent chaos.
But what needs to be understood is that it is a super-mafia. It is not a bunch of "public minded statesmen". Those don't exist.
There's no reason to believe that The State (and that includes all the "major corporations" at this point - I mean the fact that the propaganda engines call them "major corporations" says something in itself...) are any more sentimental than anyone else is, and plenty of reason to believe they are much less so. Now it is possible to be unsentimental, and also just and honest.
But no one could do what the State does, unless they were either utterly deluded and/or utterly corrupt. At the lower levels, the level of the rank and file soldiers/police/agents of course, they are mostly deluded. They also worship the idea of The State as a modern god.
This is what I am trying to take apart. People need to be able to mock The State, to see it as the ridiculous social fiction that it is. Yeah, some people do, but it's always presented as some sort of good natured patriotic wiseacre thing. But it's deeper than that.

If our civilization requires a massive lie in order to function, better that it not function.

One of the ironies of the whole thing is that "America" was fundamental in creating the modern Church of State. This is one reason why I distrust a lot of minarchists. Minarchism creates the myth of "good government" or "honest government" or even "government under control". But right from the very beginning, the US Gov't was in bed with bankers and slave-owners. They were bankers and slave owners!

Also very good is this right here: Solvitur Ambulando (roughly: we'll solve it as we go along)

One of the things that Ran picks up on, and so did RAW for that matter, is the importance of visible weirdness. Visible but not harmful weirdness opens people's minds on a level that the conditioned rationalism can't block out so easily. It goes straight to the core. Which is why it often creates a lot of resistance at first... so you have to sort of edge up to High Weirdness I think. Get people used to seeing minor weirdness at first, then keep amping it up.
People tend to treat political subjects as either boring and unimportant or ZOMG serious business. To some extent this is justified by the fact that the civilization virus is so ubiquitous that most political actions, taken in isolation, are very dangerous and/or unavoidable. This makes the job of the unravellers a bit more difficult. But we've managed to muddle through so far, against all odds, with a tremendous amount of centralized force and corrupt mythology arrayed against us. That's because reality is our ally, and a powerful ally it is, indeed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Reading back through various blogs and such, I think I'd have to say that Adem Kupi's definitions of liberty and anarchy are really on the money:
"Liberty, in my opinion, is merely the absence of Crime. Crime, not as defined by legislature, which is another form of fraud, but the normal, everyday intuitive sense of crime. Murder, assault, theft, rape, swindles, that sort of thing.
A perfect Liberty is a situation where such things do not exist at all. This is probably not an achievable situation, but it constitutes an asymptote, a limit towards which true libertarians wish to carry society above all else. And I reserve the right to use the phrase "true libertarians" because I mean people who are libertarian by the definition of the word, not people who identify as libertarians. This is not a "no true scotsman" argument.

Anarchy on the other hand is a situation where no one is given the authority to commit crimes. They might still get away with it, but by and large people don't believe they are entitled to."

This points the way toward a possible meta-agorism:
People pursuing their own interest, regardless of "the state" or any other organization. Treating it the way they would any other mafia.
This meta-agorism would include agorist counter-economics of course, but also more than that, a realignment toward spontaneous culture and social interaction. Because it implies the idea of following your own conscience without regard to ideas of "rank" or "authority". If you think techno music is awesome, well fine, then it is. If you prefer Beethoven, ok that's fine too.
It would include a severe sort of moralism, but one in which the primary precept would be to develop a moral sense of your own. Or to keep it focused inward pointing outward, it would mean not to accept anyone else's moral sense as any better than your own. Let your conscience be your guide.

In this way, meta-agorism of this sort is more "realistic" and practical than any sort of particular political agitation or movement. The main way of spreading it is just to encourage people to question all authority, and to come to their own conclusions. Criticize everything that exists ruthlessly.
If people ask what your positive program is, tell them "I'm not a revolutionary, I'm a destroyer". This is the connection by the way to buddhist anarchism as mentioned by William Gillis. Buddha was considered a destroyer of illusion.
I'm a Daoist, not a Buddhist, but I respect that idea, that the path to liberation is to destroy that which holds you back from reality.
It's also a connection to the sort of super anarchism of Allan Thornton, who was a big influence on Adem Kupi. Thornton said "What will happen under Anarchy? EVERYTHING."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Kevin Carson says it so I don't have to.

"I am no social democrat. I'm under no illusions about the central role of big business in formulating the New Deal. I don't like statism of any kind. In my opinion, New Deal liberalism and the Reagan-Thatcher model of neoliberalism are like two farmers. The first farmer thinks he can get more work out of his livestock, in the long run, if he feeds them well and gives them comfortable shelter and sufficient rest. The second farmer thinks he can get more work out of them if he works them to death and then replaces them. There's no question that both "farmers" view us as "livestock," and that their prime concern is with their own profit. But I know which farm I'd rather live on.

Quite frankly, if my only choices are corporate liberalism and social democracy, and a banana republic on the neoliberal model, I'll take the former any day. If I get to choose between the paternalism of Brave New World and the jackboot in my face of 1984, it won't take me long to decide. I'm not ashamed to say that if my only choices are the welfare statist and neoliberal versions of statism, I'll take the kind of statism whose yoke weighs less heavily on my own back."
(emphasis mine)

In my view, that's a big "if" though. Given the advanced instability of modern production and finance, and the increasing growth of global black and grey markets, I suspect that neither form of farming will be sustainable for much longer, and it's long past time for the livestock to take over. That said, we must beware of any doctrine of "some animals are more equal than others".

I'd also like to point out an interesting thought by "Bunty" in the comments section:
"There could lie root of the problem, in the vulgar view, the market seems to be something external, a strict ruleset/framework in which people have to participate competitively (even those up the ladder have to keep fighting for market share; or fall, meaning that any means justify that end). It is an old skool religion, with banks as churches and and priests and sacrifice and Greed itself as a god."

This is why I don't trust minarchists, to an extent. But either way, it is an EXTREMELY GRAVE error to view "markets" as anything at all. The word is an abstraction to describe the sum of exchanges among people. In this sense a "free market" means a situation in which all of these exchanges are voluntary.

Friday, October 26, 2007

War... what is it good for?

Why is war so damn important to the ruling class?

There are a lot of smaller reasons, economic and political, why it might be desirable, why it might be a boon to them.
But right now, they seem thirsty for it, desperate for it. Why is that?

Because the threads of the mythos they have created are unraveling all around them. Even though they have developed a vast propaganda machine, the economic damage to the middle class is too difficult to hide at this point. War is still a psychic force that can mobilize people against their own self interest. Especially since World War II was the grounding ur-myth of the modern mythos.

Every discussion is framed as if we were facing the next Hitler. (Notice how the Japanese are never brought up, even though it's the Japanese that actually got us into the war. I guarantee if Mussolini had been on "our" side in the war, Fascism would be a perfectly acceptable ideology to people)

If "war fever" subsides, if we stop fighting, people will begin to look at their own domestic situation again and demand more of their own capital back. In a subtle way, this was a criticism that the neo-conservatives often levelled at American society after the Cold War ended. "National Greatness Conservatism" seems to me to be a code word for "using war as an excuse to suppress the peasants and keep them in their place".

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What I'm trying to do here consists of a few basic themes:
1. Delineate the situation clearly
This is important because the biggest hurdle we face is one of deception, a false mythology implanted in people by the various propaganda engines of the powers that be.
In order to attack this mythology we have to see it clearly, and not be led astray ourselves. The powers that be have had a long time to improve their techniques of deception and cooption through trial and error.
2. Point out means of escape. Fortunately a lot of the work in this area has been done. Harry Browne and SEK3 come immediately to mind. The good thing about counter economics is that it is something which contains its own incentives for spreading and they scale with the level of statism. But on a psychological level you must also free yourself from traps that keep you stuck in the Red and Pink markets, as FSK so cleverly put it.
On this note, I think that Adem Kupi is on to something with his emphasis on saving as a revolutionary act. (personal disclaimer, he's a friend of mine...)
3. Create the seeds of a new counter-propaganda/counter-mythology. The revolution, such as it may be, must take place first in the hearts and minds of the people. Only then will they do anything worthwhile. Some of this will consist of "preaching to the choir", but also of taking the message and making it more transmissible, whether through pithy sound bites or images.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hypothetical Fun

I was chatting with a friend of mine last night who said "But I want to alleviate suffering right now".
The context was "healthcare"... well one interesting article on that and similar subjects is "Socialism Vs Regulation" by James Leroy Wilson. So, making the other side of that argument, one way to alleviate suffering right now would be to deregulate health care and abolish medicare and medicaid.
It would be better for the government to basically give people money to spend on medical care, within a context of a free market, where people would still have an incentive not to use care they don't need (this is basic economics right here, economizing scarce resources). Right now we have not only a subsidized demand, but also a restricted supply. So of course "healthcare" is terribly expensive. Which forces more people into the pyramidal institutions to pay for their needs.
To paraphrase Robert Higgs, "There are no failed policies in the long run". This is no accident.

So would it be "better" to have socialized medicine? Well, as long as medicine was completely deregulated and unlicensed outside the system, yes, it would be better than what we have now.
But what all these goons in the government want for us is not that at all but an extension of the current system to absorb everyone, and with government in control. Which is Fascist Medicine, for lack of a better term.
Medical taxes will keep going up, especially now that all these Baby Boomers are retiring (and are spoiled people with a vast sense of entitlement - which may come from growing up in an age where government still "worked", before the seed capital of the past had been completely eaten away) which will put pressure on doctors to lower their hourly rates or find other ways to reduce cost, which will create a shortage of doctors and poor, but "free" care for everyone, once you get off the two year waiting list.
Most poor people I know don't need MRIs. They need better jobs and more opportunities for wealth creation.

This same pattern applies to most areas of American society where the government has corrupted it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Blackwater indeed.

"In a corporatist economy such as ours, government funnels lots of money to nominally private firms to accomplish things it might have done directly. But there is no essential difference between those two ways of doing things. What counts is who controls the money.

If the government were to close down the Internal Revenue Service and hire H&R Block to collect taxes, would that be privatization of the tax system? The question answers itself."

- Sheldon Richman

In fact, I'd say that the pure government situation is more desirable in some ways, because there's no particular motivation for malfeasance. And to paraphrase Murray Rothbard, it's better for criminal actions to be as inefficient as possible.
Unfortunately there's no other concise term for this sort of government-business partnership than Fascism, which has been historically tainted.
Tainted or not though, it's the most accurate term for this that there is.

South Park Anna

So... heh. I guess I'm the latest to come up with my south park self:

The error of Transgender Apologetics

(or, how I came to name my blog)

One of the biggest errors that transgendered folk make in my opinion is the "apologetic". They all too often want to explain away why they need to be transgendered. First off, this gives too much ground to the gender normative. What are you apologizing for?
Secondly I think that this arises out of a subtle statism. Statism is, at its core, a desire to make other people do what they ordinarily wouldn't. Once you can establish an excuse or need, you can make other people be nice to you or even give you free stuff.
Me, I'm an anarchist. I don't have to explain why I'm doing this. It is very compelling to me, but either way, it's none of anyone's business. I might want to explain myself out of a desire to be understood by others, but even so, my explanation will be framed in terms of desire and not need.
All I need is for other people not to damage me or my property. But I'd love to have more friends... :)

Welcome, potential friends.

Transgendered Cultural Mythos - A few notes

Most people really aren't very intelligent when it comes to dealing with the transgendered.
Part of it I think is the fact that the animal brains of humans are usually hard wired to ask themselves "can I fuck this?" instinctively. That's why oddly enough, men often find the idea of lesbians arousing. Because in their hind brain they still think they can have sex with them.
So transgendered people, especially MTFs (because of certain differences in gender roles), creep a lot of people out on a deep level. It's a translation of homophobia to a much deeper level (which actually is precisely why our cultural struggle is tied up with the struggle of the larger Gay Rights movement).
An example of what I mean: I saw a blog post recently critical of a geriatric facility for LGBT persons. The title of the post was "geriatric pastures for trannies".
Now why choose that? Because he knew that it would seem more absurd/outrageous to a certain crowd than "geriatric pastures for fags(or dykes)" - in fact those titles might have turned away his audience. But it's still ok to dehumanize transgendered people I guess.
Part of this is also statistical. There aren't that many transgendered people out there, and because of this repression, very few of them are "out". So people haven't become desensitized to our presence and we haven't had enough of an opportunity to show people that we're basically ok, like everyone else is.
This is changing, which is why to people who are hypersensitive to it, it can seem like some explosion of transgendered folk, which might be threatening to those very people.
A little weird feedback loop, but I suppose the gay and lesbian crowd went through it and are in fact still going through it, though they're further along.
But this very statistical smallness means that we're less of a social threat as well, which adds the irony. For instance, the City of San Francisco included full insurance for transition expenses, and discovered that the expense was rather shockingly minimal. People just aren't going to make those kind of major body modifications to such a fundamental part of themselves unless they're really serious about it, at least not in noticable numbers, even if you let them do it for free.
Now, I'm a market anarchist and I don't believe in regulating free association nor in government subsidized health insurance (whether directly or through tax breaks). But the fact of the matter is, if you're going to give these perks to gays and lesbians, extending them to transfolk would be a drop in the bucket, in terms of additional social drag (no pun intended).
The idea that all of a sudden there will be icky freaky trannies everywhere if you let them in the door, just isn't true, even overlooking the fucked up foundation of that thought-formulation.
Eventually, I suspect that it will become mostly a non-issue. It certainly would in a free society.
Even if people in general didn't care for it, decentralism would ensure that it never really touched most people's lives. And in such a society, without fear of self-expression, transfolk would become very "normal" relative to the population (repression always creates reaction) so the people that did encounter them would think little of it, if they even knew.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Usury Vs Just Interest

Most religions and many old-timey social theorists condemn "Usury" in one form or another. Most people believe that Usury entails any charging of interest on loans. If this practice were ended, there would probably be no loans at all, given that the value of money today is greater than the value of money tomorrow.
Of course as an anarchist, I believe that any voluntary agreement between two people is acceptable, provided that violence and deception is not involved. But I think I see a difference between Usury and a free market conception of interest.
The difference is in what is being loaned.
Rather than go into the details of what I consider Usury myself, I'll point out FSK's pretty thorough analysis of the compound interest trap here.
The money shot:
Each loan has the effect of decreasing the number of dollars in circulation, because the payments always are more than the principal*. What would happen if all the banks got together and said "let's collude and offer no more new loans"**? As loans were repaid, there would be fewer and fewer dollars in circulation. Prices would drop. Some people would be unable to pay off their loans. The banks would foreclose, taking possession of real assets, even though the dollars they loaned out cost nothing to print.
* Though his case is not as apodictic as he makes it out to be, because the banks themselves need to circulate currency (through paying their employees and other business expenses). However, if they can make loans from thin air, they don't need to recirculate that much of the currency they receive in payments in order to stay in business.
** (this actually happened with a large number of farm loans at the beginning of the "Great Depression" - there was a literal memorandum sent telling banks to stop loaning and start liquidating after a certain date)

How would this be different in a free market? Whatever was loaned would have to exist as saved money... that is to say money already removed from circulation. It would not be entering and then leaving circulation. The interest rate would have to be less than the loanee thought they could gain through some sort of wealth production in the intervening time period, or they wouldn't take out the loan (precisely because they couldn't count on new money entering circulation and deflating their payments).
On top of this, banks(and other loaners) would be competing with each other to offer the lowest interest rate loans, there being no Federal Reserve to set interest rate floors or ceilings.

All of the interest paid back would come from money they earned somehow; even if they defaulted, the asset would merely be "bought" by the bank indirectly, with the use of the asset being what was loaned temporarily to the loanee.
All of the transactions that the loanee made to earn the money they are using to pay off the loan have increased the total supply of wealth in society... so even though money has technically been shifted around, the total purchasing power of money in circulation has increased, because otherwise people would stop taking loans out. There may be less dollars circulating, but each one would buy a lot more stuff. Denominations could be split infinitely, into cents, mills, micros, as necessary. (Imagine a world where steak dinners were priced in pico-dollars!)
To put it concisely, banks would not be able to funnel money/assets into their own pockets, because all loaned money would have to come from savings, directly or indirectly. Even though a form of fractional reserve banking would be possible, the rate at which it could occur would be severely limited by the risk of bank runs. It would probably fall to a rate equal to a warehousing fee for other items. At that rate, there wouldn't be any banks solvent enough to destroy each other, and the odds of everyone demanding their money at once would be almost nil, because they wouldn't have put their money in the bank in the first place then.

Why couldn't free market banks "create" their own fiat money? Well, they could, but why would anyone use it? If moneys freely compete, eventually a certain money would be chosen as "sound" enough to be acceptable at most places. Most austrian economists agree that would be gold-based, but it really doesn't matter. What matters is that that would become the reserve, and if it inflated too much, something else would replace it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Great Shell Game

One of the mechanisms by which the political/ruling class endeavors to keep the poor down is by means of deception. In fact, ultimately, deception is the main weapon they have. As many have pointed out in the past, if the working class (and that includes most of the middle class in America, btw) decided to throw off the government, there really would be no way to stop them.

Which brings us back to deception as the main tool of the State.
One of the primary functions of welfare, in my opinion, is to make the State look more necessary than it is. This is agreed on by lots of libertarians in their own ways.
A more subtle idea is that welfare is also used as a prop to explain poverty away. If you ask most "fiscal conservatives" why there are still so many poor people in this society, the answer you'll usually receive (assuming that they aren't racists) is some form of "well, they don't have an incentive to work and develop themselves because of welfare". Now this may have some basis in fact, but I think a look at the third world can be instructive here.
Why is the third world poor? The aid we send them, it's well known, rarely gets to them, and it's usually in the form of grain or milk to aid utterly starving people.
Lack of skill is not an acceptable answer either. The thing that people don't grok on that score is the law of comparative advantage. They could easily produce something more efficiently than we could do it for ourselves. In fact, there would be no sweatshops there if that wasn't the case (And why aren't there more sweatshops here then? See below).
The third world is poor because their governments are preying on them. I happen to agree with Mises that the main way to eliminate poverty is to increase capital invested per head. To do that requires that capital be allowed to move freely and grow without threat of predation. Most "poor countries" are rather egregious about letting crime, both public and "private" but tacitly sanctioned, eat away capital and destabilize markets.
The poor in the western world are poor, because whatever "free" market may exist for people above a certain threshold, the poor live in an extremely regulated, proportionally over taxed (especially considering inflation) environment. There is no free market for poor people, because all the transaction costs that seem minor or are even invisible to someone who has a certain level of access to capital already, are immense to them.
Joe Office Guy lives in an increasingly bureaucratic, but predominantly free market society.
Joe Janitor lives in Zimbabwe.

Welfare provides a dodge, an excuse for the poverty of the poor. It creates antipathy and disrespect for them. "I managed to get a job and make a living, why can't he? Damn bum, taking my tax money."
If the low-end spheres of our society were utterly de-regulated and inflation ended, whether or not welfare was eliminated, you'd see a renaissance, an explosion of productive power that would look like a second industrial revolution and poverty would really be wiped out in our country.
But of course that would rip the lid off a large part of the Government Shell Game, and would reduce profits for the people at the top of our economy (by diluting capital and shifting the labor market in favor of laborers), which is why it hasn't happened, and ultimately, why there is still poverty.