Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why I am still an anarchist.

I am still an anarchist. There is an ethical dimension and a practical dimension to that and they are related. There's no reason to believe that the government is a net benefit in your life once you understand that big business and poverty are both a product of government. If someone can convince me that large-scale malfeasance can exist without government, well, that's really the only avenue of attack you'll get to convince me that statism is justified. (one thing to think about is this: functionally, what's the difference between a mafia and a government?... not idealistically or ideologically, but functionally, how do they differ in the mechanics of how they move matter and energy around? Now combine that with a belief that generally, everyone does what they perceive is in their own interest, and the powerful even more so...)
Statism is also unsustainable, and becomes more and more unsustainable the more powerful technology and productive capacity grows. The anarcho-primitivists have it entirely backwards. Under primitive conditions, a state can be all-powerful, with very little deception required. The potential damage done is outweighed vastly by the potential for wealth that is still untapped. In such a condition, anarchy is nearly impossible because micro-states/warlords can control the population (e.g. Somalia).
But in a society where everything is globally interconnected and vast material power can potentially be generated, concentration of power can be disastrous if anything goes wrong... In such a world, the state relies more and more on deception and less and less on raw force because the people have much more material power at their disposal.

Now, where I differ from a standard issue "ancap" or plumbline Rothbardian, is that I understand that *within* the context of a state, not every removal of a law or government shrinkage is a good thing. To come up with a silly, but explanatory example:
The government passes Law A stating that everyone has to spend 5 hours a week volunteering as a government laborer of some sort.
Then they pass Law B stating that poor people will get paid 10 dollars per hour for those 5 hours a week, to be paid out of taxes.
Repealing Law B does not make our society freer or better at all. In fact, quite the opposite.

But neither of those conditions should exist in the first place. Which, in a quite oversimplified way, is why I am an anarchist.

The police are ineffective without the vast network of unpaid informants that do most of their work for them. The law is toothless if people begin to ignore it.
My advice, as an anarchist, is simply this: Let your conscience be your guide. Don't obey the law because it is "the law" unless you are afraid of getting caught. If you want to smoke pot, smoke pot.
If you want to make a deal with someone, try to make that deal even if it breaks some obscure regulation. Ignore the legality of an action except as a potential hazard to yourself. Do whatever you feel is right and you can get away with.
The more and more people understand this, the larger the sphere of "what you can get away with" grows. Prosperity returns to the people despite the best efforts of the large corporations and banks... millions of "unemployed" people really have jobs, and millions more aren't even on the radar.
What will finally, in my opinion, break the back of the state is when DIY manufacturing becomes commonplace. Especially when these means come to the third world. All of a sudden, the "reserve army" of the unemployed lining up at the sweatshops will shrink... prices for corporate-made products will begin to rise, the financial chickens will come home to roost... corporate profits will shrink as they compete with micro-fabricators ... there will be a massive attempt at monetary deflation, which will induce vast savings by those who have excess capital... this savings will flow back into the economy and compete with debt-based investment...
The Great Flood. Everything will be cheap, except labor. No one will join the army when you can make twice that much working for a small basement workshop putting out sneakers... The former warlords and overlords of the third world will have nothing to offer their cannon fodder and so will find the barrels of the weapons turned in their direction.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Liberal arrogance and the hydraulic empire.

Honestly, I'm getting sick of liberals and their smug assumption of premises that they have no real arguments to back up. I understand that a lot of it comes from a basic cognitive error (assuming that this current state of affairs is the result of a spontaneous order of some sort, without any evidence that it is). Conservatives make this same error, but talking about how conservatives suck is like shooting fish in a barrel, it's not even a real ideology, there's no guiding principles to conservatism that they actually take seriously. As I said, fish, barrel. I don't need to talk about the silliness of so-called conservatism.

But liberalism* is an actual problem because it looks convincing on the surface to a lot of people. A lot of their current ideas basically add up to "if the USA was more like western europe, everything would be peachy!" Tell that to the mine workers in Africa.
It is, in some ways, an attempt to prop up big business by using government to smooth over the contradictions of past government action to prop up big business. It won't work of course. Big business as we know it is doomed, it's been living off borrowed time and stolen money for over 100 years... Crushing small business to feed the dying body of big business will only make things worse in the long run. You're killing the future to save the present. But of course this is why the puppet masters of the liberal ideology constantly invent crises - "no time to think, just do it, or we're all doomed!"

The truth is, it's entirely possible to have high technology, prosperity and even mass production of a sort, without having any organizations larger than 150 or so people (my guess as to the large-end of organizations under anarchy). We don't need to rely on the current model of intensive, inefficient subsidized resource consumption, unless we want to produce enormous surpluses that go right into the hands of our "leaders". It's just another scammy revisitation of the hydraulic empire model, just like mercantilism before it. There would be no reason to "tax the rich" if the rich hadn't scammed us out of our capital in the first place. What they lose from taxation is a tiny fraction of what they have gained from being allowed a license to steal(fractional reserve banking), relatively cheap security services("public" police and military) and infrastructure by the government (not to mention all the other ways that government creates a "winner take all" model of economics). Take that away, and the rich as we currently know them no longer exist.

* in the modern American sense of "Keynesian/Fabian pseudo-socialists"

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Seasteading, a different approach - Part 1

Thinking about seasteading and how it relates to agorism (I did a post that barely touched on this a while back, in response to Patri Friedman) again, I think what I see what my intuitive objection is to the current seasteading model. It seems to me that the current "seasteading" approach seems to be modeled on the currently existing nation state. And indeed, most seasteading proponents seem to be at least quasi-statist in their thinking. Certainly they don't strike me as a bunch of hard core anarchists.
A more anarchist/agorist approach to seasteading to me would be a colony of small ships, essentially houseboats but maybe with a bit more range, who trade goods and services amongst each other outside of the purview of any sort of governing body at all. One of the major advantages of this approach, to me, outside of the obvious one that you don't need millions and millions of dollars to get started, is that you also don't provide an obvious, centralized target for government reprisal. This means that you don't have to be as autarchic. If you need to pick up some land-based goods, well, you appear to be just a person with a houseboat coming in to shore to restock/refuel... completely inobtrusive for the most part.