So… I’m at Anarchist Shemale Fest, which is kinda like the Porcfest pre-party. The more radical and audacious people come to Anarchist Shemale Fest, and I’d wager the guess that nearly everyone here is an anarchist/voluntaryist. There’s no practical difference between an anarcho-capitalist and a voluntaryist, except that the AnCap recognizes that capitalism is the most efficiency and most likely method of voluntary interactions.
Last night, we had a rave. A Muslim was the DJ. An anarchist shemale took videos and pics, and danced with some gay dudes and a half naked chick while her boyfriend fucked an American flag that was on the ground. There are really no rules here, and no one makes the claim that this Individualism Fest is family friendly, but there are kids running around anyway.
You can’t walk fifteen feet without smelling someone smoking weed, drinking, or doing something heavier. Obviously, there are overarching laws, since this is taking place in the United States, a nation which has about as many laws as it does people, and within New Hampshire, a state that has made phenomenal strides toward libertarianism yet still has far to go. But none of those laws really apply here. They’re not on anyone’s mind, not even distantly.
People open carry hatchets, knives, and guns. There is no theft here–any theft that’s occurred here has been the result of family members who weren’t libertarians. There is zero chance that any of the kids wandering around are going to be kidnapped or molested, and if they happen to stumble across sexual activity, someone will stop and send them away.
It’s anarchism in action.
It really goes to show the power of libertarian ideology. Individualism, and the mutual respect that is born of compassion, empathy, and peace. In the five years that Will has been coming, there’s never been a fight. The only real altercation occurred when Cantwell–general alt-right bullshit–got drunk as hell and, reportedly, tried to drive his van through a crowd of people. But Cantwell is no longer allowed on the premises.
He has been shunned from the anarchist society. He wasn’t attacked by thugs with guns for his unacceptable behavior. He was shunned, and forbidden from returning to this private property.
This is what peace, love, and liberty can do.
The whole thing is a lot like Woodstock, to be totally honest, except there’s an ideology and a central principle that guides us all: non-aggression. No one wants to be the victim of aggression, and therefore no one uses aggression to make someone else such a victim. There is also the lack of live music, and I was going to bring an acoustic guitar for exactly that purpose. I will next year. Of course, next year I’ll be here as a vendor; this year I’m getting a feel for things and meeting people.
I’ve talked with Liberty Radio Network about getting a show on there, and right now the general idea is that it would be better, since I’m trans, to have me on the two gay dudes’ show as another co-host. However, I prefer flying solo, so I’m going to keep podcasting and liaising with them now that I’ve met them and have that connection.
I should have made a bunch of those perler bead anarchy symbols, but it didn’t even occur to me. I’m currently looking into “Godless & Lawless” bumper stickers and similar things, all of which would be good merchandise for here. C’est la vie. Now I know.
Of course, there’s no sales tax on things, because taxation is theft, and no one is getting robbed here. This is an anarchist paradise that we’ve carved in the center of the fascist, overblown, military-based United States, and, at least here, we are free.
Anyone curious about how anarchy can actually work should really come to Somalia Fest next year. I’m also hoping to speak at Porcfest next year, since I’ve been building a lot of connections this year and amplifying my voice.
Most of the people here accept crypto currencies as payment.
Will is running The Cultural Appropriation Grill. In fact, Will has made it a point to say that he’s cooking and selling culturally appropriated food because he’s a dirty capitalist.
One guy is selling 3 hours of cell phone charging for $1.
If I was willing, I could change outfits and make $300, at least, by the end of the day. My cash supply is fast depleting, too. 🙁
It would have been alright, but I ended up having to pay part of two hotel rooms that I wasn’t anticipating having to pay for (The plan changed frequently, but it was never mentioned that I’d need to pay for part of any hotel room), and I was hoping for a $150 loan from a friend that didn’t pan out.
But hey! That’s why I brought hot dogs, bread, and lunch meat. The only thing I’m worried about now is being hit up for gas on the trip back to Tennessee, since we’ve already come close to the figure I was initially quoted, and that was on the drive up here… I’m not complaining, just saying. This is AnCap city. Things will work out.
I’ve derailed from my initial point–this is what an anarchist society looks like. If I want to change clothes and throw up a sign that says “Your place, $30,” no one will judge me for it. And this place is a total sausage fest. There would be plenty of takers. Just saying.
Anyway, I don’t know if there will be a podcast today. Tomorrow, Porcfest begins, so there will be plenty to discuss then.
Last week and this week, I was a guest on the Liberty Radio Network show “The Call to Freedom” hosted by former Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate Will Coley and Thom Gray, who doesn’t get an awesome title before his name but doesn’t need one, because that’s how awesome he is. Due to it not having a podcast form, I wasn’t aware the show existed (without a permanent form, it doesn’t get picked up at the RRND, which is where I learn about such things). While I tried to get a recording of last week’s, I got the time wrong and forgot about it, but did get this one.
It was a great show, and, personally, I think the aftershow was even better, primarily because I was looser and more relaxed. By that point, I was beginning to get comfortable and fall into a groove, so any future appearances (crossing my fingers) won’t have me quite so silent. If you’re interested in liberty, be sure to check out these links.
I did edit the Aftershow. For one, all of my input was lost due to how I recorded it. Because of this, I had to record today’s encore airing, and then re-record and re-impose what I’d said during the aftershow discussion back into the audio. I think I achieved about a 99% accuracy, though I knowingly added one remark (and made note that it was an added remark not said during the conversation). Much of the aftershow discussion, about the possibility of me attending Somalia Fest and PorcFest with Will Coley and his family, was personal in nature, and so I removed it. Additionally, there is some beeping, because a few things were said that wouldn’t have been said if it was on the air. In consideration of all involved, I’ve beeped out some names, and removed one brief section about someone.
I cannot say that I will record and upload every episode of “Call to Freedom,” but it is something that I would like to do, and I’m generally available on Sunday nights. I know that I’ll record and upload any future episodes that I’m in, but I think it would be a little narcissistic to do only episodes that have me as a guest (even though it is a bit of work to do all this–removing commercials, tweaking audio, normalizing, compressing, adjusting EQ bands…).
Sunday night I was invited again to be on “The Call to Freedom” hosted by Thom Grey and former libertarian Vice Presidential candidate (and possible future presidential candidate!) to discuss the neverending Libertarian Drama and the current status of the Libertarian Party, with two other guests: James Babbs and Larry Sharpe. It was a really good episode, though most of it was (frustratingly, honestly, as I had a lot I wanted to say, but I don’t get into shouting matches, and I try very hard not to interrupt people unless my point is very critical, like when I interrupted Jim at one point to say that if he wanted the LP to be a “safe place” for people to learn about libertarianism, than we can’t call people “murderers”), but it calmed down for about the last half hour and I got some words in.
Funnily, Thom messaged me through the episode and jokingly said something like, “When the cis men keep talking over the trans woman.” I lol’d, and I know he was joking, but my silence was 100% on me, and no one else. It’s true that Jim and Larry weren’t perhaps as considerate of the fact that they were co-guests were two other people, but my silence was totally on me for making the choice to sit out the shouting match, and for being extremely reluctant to interrupt anyone. I’m not knocking them–that’s often how these things go, and I don’t blame them for that. It’s just not how I prefer to do things. And it doesn’t seem to be how Will and Thom prefer to do things, either, as they were mostly silent through it all, too.
It made for a pretty good show, though.
It also brought a few things to my attention. First, I am extremely out of practice with having to think on my feet and formulate replies on the fly. Through the last two years, I’ve more or less avoided all “live” discussions of politics and religion (and, honestly, I just about don’t discuss religion at all any longer). When clients start talking about it, I simply listen, because they’re wrong on so many levels, and I know better than to try to point that out to them. When friends dive into it, I know I’m the only anarchist present, and trying to explain to someone why the entire tax system enslaves the American people is a bit too much for a light political discussion over a few glasses of wine when other people are interested in talking about a tax increase or decrease. Being an anarchist is like being the quantum mechanics physicist in the room full of people who are all discussing gravity, and each and every other person is wrong about something in spectacular ways. Does the physicist jump in to correct everyone? Almost certainly not. He instead quietly shakes his head and listens, lamenting all the way that they have failed themselves. Even with my family, I’m extremely unlikely to jump into a conversation, because trying to explain what libertarianism is and why I’m a libertarian is a fifteen minute ordeal, at best, and no one–absolutely no one–is going to sit and listen to you for 15 minutes. You might get thirty seconds before you’re interrupted, but even through those 30 seconds they won’t be listening–they’ll be thinking about what they’re going to say as soon as you finish talking.
During high school, I was an amazing debater. I don’t mean to brag, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone. I have a knack for analyzing things and picking them apart until nothing is left. I’d even call it my best skill. But once you start picking apart people’s assumptions, they always reply in a few predictable ways. They’ll either say that you’ve brought it to the level of reductio ad absurdum by asking them to demonstrate why it’s better that humans should survive instead of go extinct, when the reality is that it’s a completely fair question: there is much argument to be made that Earth and the universe would be much better off if humans suddenly ceased existing. Some other animal species would probably rise up at some point, and maybe they wouldn’t be as consumed by their egos as we are. Who knows? Regardless, it’s not an absurd question; it’s a totally fair question, and one that they can’t answer. That it’s better for humans to survive is an assumption, and the assumption is based on their value system, primarily the idea that “life is good.”
Anyway… So I’ve been very out-of-practice when it comes to arguing on my feet, though, luckily, stage fright has never been a problem for me. I intend to resolve this by going back to doing one “on-the-fly” response video on Youtube, where I record myself watching and replying to a video that I’m likely to disagree with. That’s essentially the same thing, and doing it allows me to go back to creating content, and has the added benefit of getting me back into practice, since it’s a skill like any other–use it or lose it. Anyway, so tonight’s podcast…
Last year, I wrote a book called Dancing in Hellfire. It is essentially my autobiography, except that I didn’t stop at simply relating events that had happened. Instead, I looked back on them and thought about what I learned from them, because the functional mind is always learning–any mind that refuses to learn is effectively dead. To be sure, I’ve had some really screwed up things happen in my past: both parents are/were drug addicts, my father killed a woman when I was 4, my mother was murdered when I was 12 (her body never found, so she’s still listed as a missing person), and other, generally awful things that you would rightly expect to happen in circumstances like that. Before we even factor in transgenderism, there is easily enough material to fill an 80,000 word autobiography (a bit on the heavy side for a memoir anyway), and I found myself chopping out entire recollections to make room for the transgender stuff.
Really, you’d think in today’s political environment that it would be an easy sell. That’s opportunistic of me, and I don’t deny that, but I also don’t see it as a problem. Identifying a niche in the market and targeting that niche isn’t a bad thing–in fact, it’s a smart thing to do. Only in the past six months, as my search for a literary agent has hit a dead end, has it dawned on me that I still made a mistake with the targeting. As I said, the book isn’t about “Oh, poor me, this happened and society didn’t do anything to prevent it!” Instead, it’s a book about “This happened, and this is what I learned from it.”
The critical difference is that the former marks me as a victim; the latter marks me as a beneficiary.
Without a doubt, I’d rather have my mother alive today, but there’s also no disputing that it has marked me in many ways that are very positive. Foremost among these is surely my awareness of justice as a function of forgiveness rather than vengeance. Those wounds are real, and they are painful–however, those very wounds have also made me ask the excruciating question, “How might I have closure on this?” The answer to that is not “…by seeing the murderer in prison!” The murderer has already been to prison for an unrelated murder, and it did nothing to make me feel any better. While it sucks beyond the capacity of weak words to convey how much it actually sucks to have my mother gone, absent without a trace, like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, I can detach myself from that enough to recognize that having a mind that is more focused on forgiveness than vengeance is a positive result.
It wouldn’t be worth asking whether I’d rather have my mother alive, and to still consider vengeance and justice to be the same thing, or if I’d prefer the current state of affairs. Just because these things happened in a way that are causal doesn’t mean they’re mutually exclusive. Maybe my mother could still be alive and something else could have happened to lead me to that realization. There’s no way to know, and so the hypothetical is useless–built, as it is, on the assumption that I can’t have both simply because I don’t have both.
I’ve neglected to talk about it publicly before now, but we do live in a society that glorifies victimization, and this is no more evident than in the bizarre way that Glamour magazine named the Stanford rape victim their Woman of the Year. This perplexes me in countless ways. I’m not demeaning her fight within the system to see Brock punished for what he did, but “having been raped” doesn’t strike me as a particularly good reason to be named “Woman of the Year” any more than being trans was reason to name Caitlyn Jenner woman of the year. Why don’t we celebrate accomplishments rather than victimization? It is an absolute slap in the face to the female biochemists who lead breakthrough research, the females at CERN, and the leading female experts in countless industries, to be passed up as Woman of the Year because someone was a victim of rape and the case was very public. Again, this isn’t to say that the rape should be ignored, but it certainly shouldn’t be celebrated.
Bad Stuff Happens
… all the time.
Earlier this month, I attempted to drive ~150 miles to see A Perfect Circle live, for probably the last live tour they’re going to do, and it was an ordeal just to get tickets, much less to find someone who would go. To give you an idea of how much this meant to me, a few weeks beforehand, in an article about scalpers, I wrote:
I bought tickets to the A Perfect Circle concert next month for well over what they cost initially, and the reason was precisely because my demand exceeds other people’s. I can’t even convey with words what A Perfect Circle’s music means to me. Being able to see them again–probably for the last tour they’re ever going to do, since no one expected this one and it’s been 14 years since their last one–is one of those experiences that literally makes life worth living (no exaggeration). Because of scalpers, I was able to acquire a ticket, and I would say it’s far more important that I was able to get a ticket than Random Joe who kinda likes their music and has nothing else to do that evening. The seats aren’t even that good, and I don’t even care. It’s A Perfect Circle. It means more to me than it will anyone else in that audience.
And you know what happened? Shortly after I got onto i240, headed for i40 and the long eastward trip to Nashville, I saw that my temperature gauge was way higher than it should have been–like “about to overheat” high. I whipped over and got off the interstate, stopping on Airways. Not being an idiot, I’d left with more than an hour to spare, in the event that something weird happened. However, it took my car nearly 45 minutes to cool off enough to hold water, and we discovered that the upper radiator hose had come completely off, which is the rarest and most unlikely thing that could possibly happen with a working clamp (not to mention, of course, that the months of driving before that had no issue, so it happened at the worst possible moment). In doing so, it had brushed against the alternator belt, and had been cut open, so even after it was cool enough to travel again, it had a steady leak that meant the hose had to be replaced. This meant we had to go to an Auto Zone, buy a replacement hose, put it on, and then refill the thing with water (if you’ve ever driven a Chrysler, you know this isn’t as straightforward as with most vehicles). When we were finally heading back toward the interstate, the GPS called out, “Estimated time of arrival is 9:23 pm…” which was two hours after the concert started. That’s right. We lost nearly three hours due to that overheating.
This actually took me completely down for about ten days, as some people may have noticed, because I didn’t post anything. I didn’t have the strength. I was depressed; it’s really hard to convey how much it hurt to miss the concert over something so extraordinarily unlikely that no one would have taken the bet that it was likely to happen. Yet life goes on, I recovered, and got back to it–though I was down longer than I would have anticipated. Because I’m moving to Vegas and the state of Mississippi said “lol, fuck you” earlier this year, setting me back on that plan far more than I’d have liked, I don’t make plans to go and do things very often–spare money is better put toward moving to Vegas than going to see a concert, but this was no ordinary band–this is the band that has influenced my music more than any other. I didn’t really learn anything from that experience, because there was nothing to really learn. It was a freak accident at the worst possible time, and I’d checked my car that very morning. It’s true that I didn’t inspect the hoses, but, c’mon, no one does. That’s absurd. One might as well pull out and check each and every fuse. While I did inspect everything (on a different vehicle) before driving to Vegas in 2015, that was 1800 miles, not 180 miles.
I tend to think that I’m so anti-authoritarian because of the horrifically bad parenting of my mother and father, a point that I call attention to in Dancing in Hellfire. Through most people’s childhoods, and well into their adolescences, they have this idea that their parents are indestructible and supreme. I remember well being in the third grade and having Danny, a friend of mine, stand beside me in line at the cafeteria and put his fist to one of the cinderblocks in the wall and ask, “Do you think your dad could punch through this? My dad could!” Even then, at nine years old, it struck me as ridiculous. No, his dad could not punch through the cinderblock, but I didn’t challenge the idea with him. It did not occur to me then how odd it was that he would have this unrealistic idea of his dad, but it happened again much later, in the seventh grade, when a kid described his dad’s hand as “alligator skin,” proud of his dad being a Working Class Hero, and remarked that a puppy could chew on his fingers for hours and never draw blood.
I didn’t have any of that. When I was six years old, the state showed up with its footsoldiers to kidnap my sister and me, and our mother was powerless to do anything about it. All she could do was cry. I learned that day that my mother–who I’d been with since I was born–was ultimately not the one responsible for me, and that these other people called “the police” had usurped her authority. A brutal lesson for a six year old to learn, but one that has served me well since. My dad wasn’t ultimately the one in charge of me–my mother had trumped him by taking me in the first place, so clearly he was ranked below her in the hierarchy. My mother was also not ultimately the one in charge of me, because her impudence in the face of the state and its footsoldiers left no room to believe that.
And what of my father? Well, you lose the image of your father as the Glorious Personification of Everything Great around the time you see him faceplant into the dirt at a baseball field after eating too many Xanax and drinking too many beers. And if that doesn’t do it, then watching those very same police officers arrest him after a vehicle wreck and place him, powerless, in their police car will shatter that image. There’s absolutely no doubt: some of my earliest and most jarring experiences involved the state exerting its authority. I have very little doubt that this is what left me inclined to view the state as what it is: the slavemaster.
Would I be an anarchist now, if none of this had happened? Another useless hypothetical.
Every experience is not just an opportunity to learn; it is also a choice. No matter what happens, we never lose the power to choose how we react. We are not* mindless machines who operate on extremely complex if-then programming that dictates our responses; we are not powerless. We are not at the mercy of our reactions; our reactions are at our mercy, and nothing changes this. Just because some people choose to let their responses unfold emotionally, with no tempering or self-control, doesn’t mean that they have no choice in the matter, and we shouldn’t allow them to so easily escape the fact that their reactions to things are their reactions. We are not wild beasts braying in the field. We are human beings, and it’s time we acted like it.
If someone says “Fuck you, you’re an idiot” to me, it’s true that I have very little control at this time over my initial emotional reaction of anger and desire to retaliate. Evidence suggests, however, that extensive meditation and self-reflection can, in fact, put us in control of even that lightning-fast emotional reaction. And that’s the key: “lightning-fast.” Emotions are instantaneous. That anger lasts only a flash of a second. If left to its own devices, it would immediately die out, but more often than not we embrace it and purposely keep it going, stoking the fires. Larry Sharpe Sunday night (and today at 2pm Central at www.lrn.fm) is a clear example. After saying that he’d accepted Arvin’s apology and forgiven him, and that they were “good,” the indignation and anger in Larry’s voice were still audible–he was clearly still clinging to those emotions. I actually initially attempted to call attention that, but couldn’t formulate my thoughts quickly enough in a way that weren’t antagonistic, so I instead let it go immediately. While saying that he had let the matter go, he kept bringing it up, even after we tried to move on to other matters, and his voice was absolutely dripping with emotion. Regardless of what he said, it is clear that Larry is keeping those emotions alive rather than releasing them.
Still, that I would immediately react with anger and a desire to retaliate is still on me. It’s still my emotional reaction, and my failure to control my emotions to that degree is my failure. It’s not this person’s fault. They didn’t “make” me angry. I made me angry. They were merely the catalyst–they merely presented me with the choice of how to react, and I chose to react in anger. However, I would typically choose within a second or two to let it go and to release the anger, rather than dwelling on it. Unlike Larry Sharpe, if I forgive what I perceive as a transgression, then I’m not going to bring it up again, because forgiving someone is an internal thing–it has nothing to do with the transgressor, which the Vegas Chick made me realize when I pondered whether she could do anything that would “cause” me to forgive her–the answer was that whether I forgave her had almost nothing to do with her. Demanding contrition or restitution isn’t forgiveness, even if that restitution comes in the form of a simple apology.
Through my own failure, I have no control over the initial emotional reaction. Through much work, I have largely (though certainly not perfectly) taken control of the following moments. My own failures lead me to make the wrong choice in the first place, by reacting with anger, but the choice that immediately follows is whether to release that anger or to embrace it. Both of these are choices.
There are two main sides within the Libertarian Party these days. One side believes the party exists to win elections, and the other side insists that the party exists to spread the principles of liberty. We can definitively settle the matter right now by taking a look over at the Libertarian Party’s official website and checking out its official platform, wherein it states:
Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands.
It’s pretty explicit and hard to misinterpret. So if you happen to fall in the “the party exists to win elections” camp, then I’m going to have to ask you to free your mind for a moment, because you’re wrong. The party exists to set the world free in our lifetime; winning elections is one of many ways of achieving that goal. The goal is “to create liberty,” basically, to keep things short. The method–that is, how we get from here to “a world set free”–is not explicitly defined, except in the platform that follows, but that’s more or less just a list of ways that we aren’t free. There is nowhere in the platform any suggestion that we must or, heaven forbid, should go through the state in order to achieve liberty.
That is by design.
It is entirely possible that we may one day set the world free by doing nothing more than spreading the word and making people aware of the reality of the state, and that one day we might have the numbers to simply shake off the fleas and be done with them, without ever electing someone to a political office. That so many people assume that we must go through the state simply shows how trapped in the statist mindset they are. Not only have there been countless sweeping changes throughout human history that did not go through the state, but the best changes have always not gone through the state, and have always been spontaneous creations of individuals acting in liberty, not because of a mandate.
Anarchists Versus Minarchists/Classical Liberals/Statists/Big Ls
This is closest to being honest I’ve had one of the Big L Libertarians get. I’m sure many people reading will instinctively agree with what Tristan said. However, read what Tristan said. “This is our party, and we’re going to do what we want. If you don’t like it, leave.”
It’s been my contention for some time now that when Big L Libertarians talk about “compromise” they don’t mean “with anarchists,” and they actually mean “with Republicans and Democrats.” They love talking about compromise, but when it actually comes down to it, they’re typically intransigent and seem to think that “compromise” means that they get whatever they want, and dissenters get to go along with it or stfu. Compromise is a two-way street, and it means that one side gives up something to secure something that would be tolerable, while the other side gives up something to secure something that would be tolerable. If the nominations of Gary Johnson and William Weld, of all people, didn’t prove beyond any doubt that Big L Libertarians have absolutely no desire to make any concessions–when so many superior Vice Presidential candidates were available, like Will Coley–then I’m not sure what will.
I think that’s the part that Big L Libertarians don’t get: compromise means that they have to make concessions, too. The anarchist-preferred candidate of 2016 was undoubtedly Daryl Perry. Compromising on John McAfee would have been excellent middleground between Big L Libertarians and Daryl Perry. However, they had no reason to compromise, did they? No, because they outnumbered us and have always outnumbered us. We were willing to compromise with having Daryl Perry as a libertarian (not anarchist) candidate. And “we” (I say “we” meaning “me,” but surely most anarchists would have happily agreed) were more than willing to compromise with having John McAfee as something more like a minarchist (whether McAfee is a minarchist or anarchist, I don’t know, but he is certainly easier to sell in the mainstream, simply by weight of his name). And, of course, we had already compromised by playing at all in the system that we want to destroy.
We are, and remain, willing to compromise… with minarchists.
I gladly admit that I have no desire to compromise with Republicans and Democrats. I do not compromise with people who are so blatantly wrong and whose modus operandi is force, violence, and coercion. I will not compromise my freedom to people who see nothing wrong with outlawing abortion, or to people who want to steal from me to pay for other people’s stuff. Not only am I unwilling to compromise with the people who devastated the Middle East and the people who are gleefully beating the Drums of War with Russia, but if you are willing to compromise with such people, then that throws your judgment immediately into doubt, as far as I’m concerned.
If Big L Libertarians want to compromise with Republicans and Democrats, there’s not much we anarchists can do about it, because we are outnumbered–we seem to comprise about 15-20% of the party. Obviously, they are perfectly free to compromise with whoever they want… Or are they? Does compromising with a tyrant or a sycophant not stain one’s hands? Isn’t this a bit like compromising with Charles Manson–“Okay, Charles, we’re going to compromise. You can’t kill anyone, but, I tell you what, we’ll let you torture one person every six months, as long as you don’t kill them. Deal?” How clean would one’s hands really be in such a compromise? And aren’t we all aware that the state is infinitely more horrific than Charles Manson?
Regardless, the issue is that Big L Libertarians act and speak as though what they want is to compromise with the anarchists who actually belong in the Libertarian Party. This is part of the leadership crisis that we face, but we’ve also got a major problem with collectivist thinking having infected the party. They regularly talk about how they wish that the in-fighting in the party would end, and I have to agree, but I dispute their understanding of the in-fighting. The rift is between anarchists and minarchists, or radicals and moderates, however one would like to put it, and exists because the minarchists/moderates have convinced themselves that the Libertarian Party belongs to them and that, at best, anarchists are the red-headed stepchild.
It is not and has never been a minarchist party–nor is it an anarchist party. It is, however, every bit as much an anarchist party as it is a minarchist party, and as it is a classical liberal party. Larry Sharpe came under fire recently (does the drama never end???) for making a video that people interpreted as his saying that he didn’t want anarchists in the party. Even though that isn’t what he said or meant, the whole thing still dances around the issue without actually stepping foot on it: it’s not Larry Sharpe’s party. It’s not minarchists’ party. It’s not their party to say they do or don’t want us in it.
This is my house that I’m writing this from. It belongs to me. If I don’t want you in it, that matters. But if I’m in Bob’s house and I don’t want you in it, that doesn’t matter, because it’s not my house. The very idea that Larry Sharpe or anyone else is in any position to want or not want anarchists in the party is patently absurd–this house belongs every bit as much to the anarchists as it does anyone else. It’s not Larry Sharpe’s house for him to proclaim who he doesn’t want inside, and neither is it any other minarchist’s or anarchist’s.
And the entire root of this rift is that the Big L Libertarians (of whatever variety) do think that it’s their house, and that we’re simply guests whom they allow to sleep on the couch. That… is… wrong. It is factually and historically wrong. Minarchists simply told themselves and convinced themselves that it was their party, and then they began marginalizing the anarchists. However, proclaiming something to be true does not make it true.
The Libertarian Party of the United States was founded in 1971–some of its founders are still around, and you can find them on Facebook and discuss it yourself with them (assuming they are willing). Merely three years later, the Dallas Accord was struck between the anarchists and the larger minarchist faction, wherein the two sides agreed that the question of whether a state was desirable would be intentionally avoided until such time as a libertarian society had been achieved; it was the agreement that the Libertarian Party was neither a minarchist nor an anarchist party, and this was only three years after the party was formed.
In 2006, the minarchists took control and became hostile to the anarchists, deleting most of the party platform and replacing it with things like “Government exists to protect rights…” This doesn’t make it right, and it’s an outright betrayal of the anarchist faction. It caused a mass exodus of anarchists from the party that had betrayed them so brazenly, and was dubbed the Portland Massacre. Now we have a party platform that says that a state-owned military is necessary! It was an obvious stab in the back to the anarchists, and in the years since the minarchists have not only betrayed anarchists further but have betrayed themselves and leaped right into classical liberalism and something very much like Constitutionalism.
I dread to think what the Libertarian Party would become if there weren’t still anarchists out here trying to stick it out and keep the party tethered to its principles, because it has betrayed so very many people, factions, and ideas. Now we have language that says the state should use immigration laws to “protect” us, which not only is patently un-libertarian, but it’s not even classically liberal–it’s full-blown statist, as even the Constitution didn’t grant the Federal Government the power to control immigration. In its desperation for mass approval and Quixotic quest for electability, is there any principle that the Big L Libertarians won’t betray?
Politics & Elections
As stated clearly, the party exists to cause liberty to happen. It is certainly conceivable–although I find the idea incredulous for reasons I’ll detail in a moment–that winning elections could be a valid method of achieving that goal. However, it is foolish, absurd, and narrow-minded to act like it’s the only possible way of achieving that goal, or even acting like it’s the best method of doing so. Given the results so far (widespread betrayal of anarchists and libertarian principles, schisms in the party, some Big L Libertarians even calling people like me enemies…), I’d argue that it’s not even an acceptable way of achieving that goal, even if it is possible in theory.
There seems to be this idea that we can pull a Bait & Switch on the electorate, and that we can run a “moderate Libertarian” who gets into office and enacts actual libertarian policies. This is called “deceit,” and it is generally frowned upon. It is false advertising, and it is considered to be deceptive–because it is deceptive. It’s like marrying a woman not because you love her (as she thinks you do), but because she’s a millionaire with no kids and no one to leave all her money to when she dies. It’s a clear case of false pretenses–everything about it is immoral, and that’s before we get into whether or not it would actually work.
Hint: it wouldn’t.
It is strangely denialistic to think that if you can convince Bob to legalize marijuana, then you’ll have an easier time convincing him to legalize all drugs. If there was any truth whatsoever to that, then the repeal of Prohibition in the 1920s would have prevented any further substances from being outlawed in the first place, because, in American history, Bob was convinced that outlawing alcohol was more trouble than it was worth, didn’t actually eliminate alcohol, created a black market, created gangs, and was a gross violation of people’s liberties. That didn’t stop Bob from turning around and making marijuana illegal barely a decade later, or from adding methamphetamine, heroin, and countless other substances to the list of banned narcotics.
Libertarian: “Bob, Prohibition isn’t working. We need to repeal it and just let people be free. This has done nothing but caused death and misery.”
Libertarian: “Great! Let’s repeal prohibition of heroin, too! And cocaine! And crystal meth!”
Bob: “Hey, you’re right!”
… That’s so obviously not what would happen. Bob would reply, “Are you out of your mind? Marijuana is one thing, but heroin? No way! That’s something else entirely!”
That’s the flaw with the incrementalist/moderate approach. Just because you can get me to drive five miles doesn’t mean you can get me to drive five hundred miles. It’s absurdly unrealistic, and I find it hard to believe that anyone actually thinks such an approach will have any success. Legalizing marijuana won’t end the drug war; it won’t shift Bob’s position on the Drug War even the tiniest bit. I can already point to at least a hundred people I know who want to see marijuana legalized but who would recoil in shock and incredulity if I suggested to them that we should also legalize heroin.
Phase 1: Legalize weed!
Phase 2: ????
Phase 3: The drug war is over!
Phase 2 is “something magical happens.”
The “legalize marijuana” versus “end the drug war” thing is such a wonderful parallel to the radical/moderate divide, because this is true in nearly every sense. I’ve convinced plenty of people that a business owner has the unalienable right to choose the people with whom they associate, and that they therefore don’t have to serve LGBTQ people if they don’t want to. It’s not too difficult to convince people of this. But the next thing out of their mouth is always, “But what if they’re racist and don’t want to serve black people? We can’t allow them to do that!”
It’s insane. It’s either a huge misunderstanding of reality or a purposeful self-delusion about human nature. Though I’ve convinced at least twenty people that discrimination of LGBTQ people by business owners is an unalienable right, I have never convinced anyone that discrimination of black people by business owners is an unalienable right. According to the incrementalist approach, once I convince them that discrimination against LGBTQ people is a right, they should be receptive to the “more extreme” form, yes?
Except they’re not, and they never are.
A World Set Free
It should come as no surprise that the Big L Libertarian faction (which doesn’t include every libertarian, minarchist, or classical liberal) seems incapable of grasping the idea that there might be some other ways to set the world free than by going through the established political system. For anarchists, the established political system is optional–however, we do not deny that it is an option. In contrast, the Big L Libertarian faction denies that there are any other options: they know only the state, and so they only know to go through the state. But that’s where libertarianism starts to contradict itself in the first place, because anyone who follows the ideas to their logical conclusions will end up as an anarchist, since aggression is the only way that the state can do anything while still being a state.
It’s just another example of how anarchist ideology isn’t even being considered by the larger faction, and, if they’re not even considering it, they can’t possibly be able to compromise with it. It’s like that Jody guy who blocked me when he claimed to be an anarchist immediately after saying that the state should exist to protect liberty. If you’re unwilling to even learn what anarchists think, then how can you compromise with them? If you’re trying to sell something to a person, don’t you kinda have to know what they’re offering to pay? But, of course, they’re not willing to compromise–as we’ve established–and they aren’t willing to even consider anarchists enough to learn what we have to say. If they were, then they would already know that going through the existing state is most certainly not the “only” way to set the world free (and, if one follows the ideas to their conclusions, it’s actually impossible to use the state to set the world free because the state is literally what you’re trying to set the world free of).
To compromise with someone, you must first know what they want and what they believe. Judging from my person experiences, the Big L Libertarians (which, again, isn’t inclusive of every minarchist, libertarian, and classical liberal) have no idea what anarchists want or believe. Jody’s silliness was the most flagrant, but it was hardly unique.
These Big L Libertarians seem to operate solely on their belief and their idea of what they want the Libertarian Party to be, making whatever assumptions they like, and from there they seem wholly resistant to facts. This Travis person has the idea in their head of what the Libertarian Party is (and, it’s worth mentioning, that their understanding of the Libertarian Party just coincidentally is exactly what they want it to be), and nothing will shake that delusion.
To say that the Libertarian Party exists to win elections is to say that anarchists aren’t welcome in the party, because we imagine different ways of achieving the Libertarian Party’s goal (which, one will read, is to set the world free, not “to win elections, duh!”). Having our methods spit upon and waved away even as we’re willing to go along with their methods, as long as they agree to the standards that we laid down in 1974 to solve exactly this problem… We’re using our preferred method, but we’re also willing to help you and use your preferred method to get libertarians elected to office. Our method and your method are only at odds because you set them to be by saying our method is meaningless, that yours is the only method that matters–by usurping the entire party and proclaiming it to be nothing more than a vehicle for your chosen method!–and that we’re not even welcome in the party if we don’t cease our method, shut up, and meekly go along with you.
This is our party, too.
And that’s why the goal of the party is to set the world free, not to win elections. Like the liberals I’ve talked about before who associate their emotion with their preferred method, it has trapped you and left you unable to even fathom that there might be some other way of achieving that goal. After all, the liberal takes “There shouldn’t be anyone starving in America!” and links that directly to “We need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour!” It’s the basest and most confused of human behaviors to link a given goal inextricably to one’s preferred method of achieving that goal, and then dogmatically sticking to that method regardless of whether it works (like how liberals continue to demand increases to the Minimum Wage, despite the unemployment that it has caused).
Our method is 100% as valid as yours, and the Libertarian Party is 100% as valid as a vehicle of our method as it is a vehicle of your method.
I was left speechless when sections of the libertarian party criticized Nicholas Sarwark for appearing with Glenn Beck; I was stunned that anyone would care about such a thing, and even more surprised that anyone would consider it a bad thing. From where I sit, promotion of the party is a good thing. I’ve softened my position on Sarwark considerably, and I no longer really care to see him removed in 2018–nor do I really care to see him stay. My position on him is ambivalent, and depends largely on what he does between now and then, because the Libertarian Party is having what anyone would call a “leadership crisis” if it happened anywhere else and in any other context.
The Libertarian Party is a union of classical liberals, minarchists, libertarians, and anarchists who have united together for a common goal. It’s worth reminding people here that anarchists have already compromised by even playing with the system that they want to see destroyed. Of course, this compromise gets waved away as though it’s nothing, because there is so much contention that anarchists refuse to compromise, but it is true that, by even participating in electoral politics, anarchists have compromised with classical liberals and minarchists.
Libertarianism was essentially the “meet in the middle” position. It was agreed in 1974 that these various groups with disagreements about how far liberty should go would compromise on libertarianism. And here is where the first clear example of the leadership crisis comes in. The Libertarian Party has an absolutely dire need for Sarwark and other prominent libertarians to remind the Big L Libertarians that this is just as much the anarchists’ party as it is theirs. They don’t seem to be aware of this, but it’s just as much the Anarcho-Capitalist party as it is the Classical Liberal party and as it is the Minarchist party.
I’ve seen so many calls for “compromise” and “agreement” that are little more than masked statements that “Anarchists need to just shut up and go along with whatever we say.” As one of the aforementioned anarchists, our own party has not only marginalized us, but has also called us “the enemy” on several occasions, has made us heretics in our own party, and has simultaneously called us inconsequential and the bane of their success. Just as the Libertarian Party is said by the mainstream media to be inconsequential while also being the reason Hillary lost, so does the Libertarian Party turn around and say exactly that about anarchists. We’re irrelevant, apparently, but not so irrelevant that we can’t be single-handedly responsible for Gary Johnson’s failure to gain traction.
That’s the heart of the problem: they’re looking for someone to blame, and they’ve already found their scapegoat. If this means the Libertarian Party has to condemn the vice-chair for saying on his own Facebook page what is really just “the libertarian position,” then that is what these mainstream elements of the party will do.
I was the guest on Liberty Radio Network with Will Coley and Thom Gray last night, and I said then that this larger centrist element of the party is like a high school student who is absolutely obsessed with what everyone else thinks of him. They so desperately want to be part of the in-crowd that, yes, if their friends jumped off a bridge, they’d close their eyes and leap. They desperately want to go to prom and be voted prom king, and this causes them to do anything and everything that they think will help that happen, without any regard whatsoever to other considerations.
As a transgender atheist anarchist and resident of Mississippi, I know very well the pressures in society to care what other people think, to do what other people want, and to be what other people want you to be. I know exactly what it’s like to be in the closet because you’re terrified of how everyone will react. Everyone wants to be loved, and everyone wants approval; it’s no different for political parties. And yet there isn’t a person among us who wouldn’t repeat the banality that we shouldn’t care what other people think, and that we should be worried only about being true to ourselves.
In truth, when Libertarians say that they just want to see compromise, they’re implying, and sometimes state directly, that they’re referring to compromise between minarchists and anarchists. They do this to frame themselves as the reasonable ones who want to compromise, forever thwarted by those unreasonable anarchists who flatly refuse to. It’s, as Will Coley described last night, “Bait & Switch Libertarianism.” It’s a game in classical Transactional Analysis terms; they want to frame themselves as Adults who want compromise to convince themselves and each other (in a classic circle jerk) that they’re being totally reasonable, but the reality is more insidious: they’re taking a Parent position and demanding that anarchists take a Child position. Then, when anarchists refuse to shift from Adult to Child to accommodate this “Just shut up and go along with us” mandate, it allows the Libertarian to justify to themselves that they did everything a “reasonable” person would do, and that their only recourse is to wash themselves of us and continue demonizing us.
It’s a psychological trick that people often use to convince themselves that what they already believe is true. It’s a case of “Why Don’t You / Yes But,” where Person A says, “This is the problem,” and Person B proceeds to offer suggestions. Person A responds to each of them with, “Yes, but…” and gives a brief overview of why B’s solution won’t work. After a bit of back-and-forth, Person B will say, “Well, I don’t know, then.” This allows Person A to say to themselves, “See? It really is hopeless.” It’s just about Person A reinforcing to themselves what they already believe, and so the Libertarians end up playing TA games to reinforce to themselves that anarchists are being unreasonable.
The game is revealed to be a game by pointing out that anarchists are absolutely willing to compromise. First, many have already compromised by taking part in the Libertarian Party, though there are certainly many who refuse to do even that. That’s fine–no one is saying that we must compromise with them, because they don’t vote in the conventions anyway. On top of that, we’re willing to compromise on libertarian candidates, rather than even attempting to run anarchist candidates (even if such a thing wasn’t a contradiction in terms).
However, the centrists in the party don’t want to compromise with anarchists; they want to win elections, and that seems to be all they care about. It’s only a matter of degree, how many positions they’re willing to sell-out in order to win an election, which raises the question of why anyone who “wants to win elections” wouldn’t just go to the Republican or Democratic parties. Apparently, that would be too much selling out of their principles, but bringing in dyed-in-the-wool Republicans like Bill Weld somehow isn’t.
They state clearly their intentions, though. They want to win elections, and the reason they get so butthurt over things like Arvin’s statements as that they’re obsessed with mass appeal and “the marketing factor,” such that the last thing they want is to do or say anything that could possibly harm their ability to reach Republicans and Democrats. They criticize Arvin because his statements about the military will make it harder for them to reach alt-right people, nationalists, conservatives, and other right-wing people who worship the state.
Do you see what is happening?
They want to compromise with the alt-right people, nationalists, conservatives, and other right-wingers, not anarchists. This is problematic because libertarianism is the middle-ground between anarchism and statism. Now they want to compromise with Republican and Democrat statists. They rarely have the courage to say this directly, because they know that it’s impossible to find the middleground between libertarianism and statism while also finding middleground between libertarianism and anarchism, since libertarianism already sits between anarchism and statism.
In numeric terms, statism is 100, anarchism 0, and libertarianism 50. Libertarians say that they want to compromise with anarchists at 25. Yet their actions–their drive to secure mass appeal, to water down the message to appeal to Republicans and Democrats, nominations of Johnson and Weld–show that they’re trying to compromise with statists at 75. And they keep telling each other through all of this that we anarchists are the ones being unreasonable, that we’re heretics and enemies because we refuse to compromise, when, in fact, they’re refusing to even consider the possibility of compromising with us, because doing so would make it impossible for them to compromise with Republicans and Democrats.
Just recently I had someone block me on Facebook (again) for commenting his status wherein he’d described the Libertarian Party’s problem as playing host to people who were “anti-state, not pro-liberty” and whose refusal to compromise prevented the party from coming together. It was a clear attack on anarchists, and he’d basically straight up said “We need to compromise with Republicans and Democrats, not anarchists, but anarchists refuse to compromise with us.” Also worth mentioning is that he said in the post he believed that the state should exist to protect liberty. When I pointed out this glaring discrepancy, he replied that he is an anarchist.
To quote John McAfee–the libertarian candidate that anarchists were more than willing to compromise on, by the way (McAfee/Coley, McAfee/Perry, and McAfee/Weiss would have been excellent libertarian tickets)–“I shit thee not.”
When I pointed out next that he’d explicitly stated that he thinks the state should exist to protect liberty and therefore is most certainly not an anarchist, he told me to stop being rude. I didn’t say it then because the words escaped me, but… Fine. I’ll stop being rude as soon as you stop being disingenuous. Stop wearing this mask of reasonable compromise when what you’re actually saying is “Anarchists shouldn’t try to have a voice within the party that belongs to them just as much as it does me.”
And whatever he has to do to justify that statement, evidently he and others will do it–even if it means describing himself as an “anarchist” who believes the state should exist to protect liberty. Obviously, that is libertarianism/minarchism, not anarchism.
I shudder to think, you know? This guy–this libertarian or minarchist–described himself, and I swear I’m not making this up, as believing the state should exist to protect liberty and as being an anarchist. I have to ask, honestly: how do Libertarians think we can compromise with them if they misrepresent our positions so badly? An anarchist is literally someone who believes the state shouldn’t exist. That’s literally the difference between a minarchist and an anarchist. But instead of even listening to us to find out what we’re saying and what we believe, he found it easier to simply misrepresent himself as one of us, though he doesn’t share the ideology that literally defines the group known as “anarchists.”
It would be like if I said “I’m a Christian who believes Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, and Christians need to compromise with atheists and accept that Jesus wasn’t the Son of God.” It’s filled with so many examples of “Bruh, that word–it doesn’t mean what you think it means” that it’s hard to know what to say. A Christian is someone who believes that Jesus was the Son of God. Imagine how an actual Christian would feel if they saw me say that sincerely, and then imagine that, on top of that, I’m an atheist anyway and simply claiming to be a Christian while I attempt to convince other, actual Christians that they should do whatever it is that I’m advocating.
Yeah. “Disingenuous” doesn’t even begin to describe how messed up and deceitful it is.
That’s how badly we’ve been sidelined and marginalized by our own political party. And if they’re not doing that (and, yes, this was likely an extreme case of deceitfulness), then they’re busy calling for our heads for daring to remind people what the libertarian position on something is. I have argued with so many people about what the Libertarian platform does or doesn’t say. One has to marvel that this happens, because the Libertarian Party platform is like three clicks away from anyone who has the capacity to argue with me on Facebook.
But the “facts” just don’t come into play. That “anarchist” means “someone who thinks the state should not exist” doesn’t come into play when someone instead can identify as a pro-state anarchist. The ends, evidently, justify the means, no matter how much deceit is present in the means.
And even now, after Johnson’s loss to the two most toxic presidential candidates in modern history, and even after we saw Bill “Gun-Grabbing” Weld secure the libertarian vice presidential nomination over just about anyone who would have made a better candidate, nothing has changed. I’ve seen calls for Johnson 2020, and, oh God help us, Rand 2020. Their intentions are clear: they want to continue compromising with Republicans and Democrats, because all they care about is winning elections, and they have this idea in their head that we can take an incrementalist approach (Right? Because we all know that if you can convince Bob that we should legalize pot, it is much easier to convince him to legalize heroin… Right? Don’t we all know that?).
But that’s mutually exclusive with compromising with anarchists. It can be one or the other. Libertarians can compromise with anarchists, or they can compromise with statists. The only way to do both is unabashed, undiluted libertarianism. Short of putting forward unafraid, unapologetic, and unbridled libertarianism, we need Sarwark and other prominent libertarians to remind the party that it belongs to anarchists, too, and that they’re supposed to be compromising with us when choosing the party’s candidate, not attempting to compromise with non-libertarians.
And if those Libertarians should happen to decide that, yes, they do want to compromise with Democrats and Republicans, and that they aren’t interested in compromising with anarchists, then they should have the balls to state that outright and not to pretend like they want to compromise with anarchists.
The Libertarian Party is a party of principle, not agenda. Its goal is to spread libertarian principles, not to win elections; winning elections is just one of many methods of spreading libertarian principles, but it is not the only one. Given how this disaster-ridden attempt to win elections has left the principles of the party frayed, it’s clearly not even the best method.
Gay couple in Norway attacked by Moroccans, and reflections on the Pulse Shooting, as well as the fact that we’re not able to fix a problem if we aren’t allowed to discuss it. Also the mess in Syria, why Trump thinks it’s okay to create more terrorists, and the clusterfuck state of American foreign policy.
Stupid Comment of the Week (10:06)
A “former AnCap” who left the ideology because… he couldn’t envision a way for the ideology to come to fruition…? It was really hard to make sense of his ramblings, and this is from someone who rambles a lot. So we discuss various ways in which the radical ideology of non-violence could be implemented, and mention again that beautiful event during World War 1.
News 2 (23:52)
There actually isn’t a second news item this week. I had one, but deleted it to instead talk about the fact that we shouldn’t have this much shit to discuss in the first place, and how it’s an indication that something has gone awry. My anarchism doesn’t come out often (much of the time, I could be mistaken for a libertarian), but here it really shines through.
Are You Fucking Kidding Me? (36:37)
Skittles’ attempt to show solidarity with a rainbow-oriented group by… removing all colors from their candy…? What? I’m far from a Social Justice Warrior, but they have a point. Removing all color doesn’t show support; it shows antagonism, morons. “I’m going to show my support for the women’s march by waving my dick around!” What? No, it doesn’t make sense. A candy with the slogan of “taste the rainbow” removing all its colors to show “support” for a group whose emblem is the rainbow is, at the very least moronic, and that’s assuming it wasn’t meant as a snub of LGBTQ people in a society that wouldn’t tolerate it.
Darkside Philosophy (40:53)
Justice and AnCap principles–most people don’t mean “justice” when they say it. They mean “vengeance.” So I talk a bit about my murdered mother and how I might have justice over it. Spoiler Alert: the only way for me to have justice is to forgive the murderer. The conceit that it’s okay to inflict violence on someone because they used violence is called Eye For An Eye, and it’s not justice; it’s revenge.
We anarchists and libertarians are bothered by a great many things, but one of the things that bothers us most–and that is almost universal among anarchists and libertarians–is the general economic ignorance that pervades the United States. We wouldn’t tolerate this ignorance in any other subject, but it serves the state’s purpose to keep us ignorant of economics (the manner by which we turn energy into product), so it’s a field that is touched only briefly–if at all–in high schools. The average American knows only that there’s a thing called “demand” and a thing called “supply,” and then their eyes tend to glaze over and words like “derivatives” and “inflationary tyreni index G7P 14.7” run through their minds.
So, first of all, forget all of that. Forget about GDP, forget about inflationary indexes, and forget about all the shenanigans that we have come to associate with “economics” now that we have given over control of the entire economy to a coalition of privately owned banks that operate with no Congressional oversight. All of that crap is fiction. They are obfuscations designed to confuse us and distract us. They are smokescreens designed to keep us disinterested in the subject, to make us feel ignorant and stupid, and to make us blindly trust in these experts who seem to know what they’re talking about. In reality, they’re just talking nonsense, like this guy:
I’m not kidding. That’s the average state economist. That’s the Fed Chairperson. That’s the Secretary of the Treasury. For the most part, they have just completely made this shit up and invented rules that don’t have anything to do with reality. It’s a game of Monopoly that they’ve invented and tricked us into playing, and they keep us playing by using complicated language and nonsense to convince us that we need them being the game’s referee.
Now, I am not talking about the fact that Nintendo has ceased producing the NES Classic. For those unaware, Nintendo recently released a mini-console for $60, which contained 30 classic NES games like Mega Man 2, Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, and others–even some stupid ones like Balloon Fight that nobody wants. Naturally, the thing sold very well, but Nintendo notoriously has problems with supply and did the same thing with their Amiibos (which are little toys that interact with some of their games). Nintendo repeatedly failed to manufacture enough Amiibos to meet demand, which led to accusations that they were doing it on purpose (in fact, one can conclude nothing else, since they publicly addressed the problem and then did nothing to fix it).
This obviously created scalpers, and scalpers are getting a lot of criticism. Some enterprising individual pops into Wal-Mart, buys an NES Classic for $60, and then posts it on eBay for $100 (or whatever price), pocketing the profit. This is actually a good thing, economically, but it’s a band-aid to the situation. Realistically, Nintendo should be the ones directly increasing the price of the NES Classic, instead of continuing to sell them for $60. In fact, thanks to the scalpers, there is no shortage. Calling this a shortage is economically ignorant and incorrect.
A shortage is when consumers are unable to buy an item.
And there you go. What we have with the NES Classic clearly isn’t a shortage. In economic terms, a shortage exists when Demand exceeds Supply–when more people want to buy a thing, and there aren’t enough of those things to go around. In fact, scalpers have ensured that there isn’t a shortage. Rather than condemning them, we should be thanking them.
The people complaining about a “shortage” don’t really mean that they are unable to buy the item, do they? Clearly, they don’t. What they mean is “I’m not willing to pay that much for one.” This is a critical element of economic understanding: price is not some arbitrary thing. Prices are supposed to increase like this, as the increase in price offsets Demand. Again, this is obvious. Many people were willing to pay $60 for an NES Classic. Fewer people are willing to pay $110 for an NES Classic.
This means that, quite literally, supply exceeds demand, not the other way around. In reality, what we have is a surplus, not a shortage. A shortage exists when demand exceeds supply; a surplus exists when supply exceeds demand. Thanks to the increased price, the supply persists today, and the demand has been lowered.
There is a character in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time who sells Magic Beans to the player, and each purchase increased the cost by 10 rupees. The first costs 10 rupees, the second costs 20 rupees, the third costs 30 rupees, and so on. An increase in price because of high demand is a normal, expected, and beneficial part of economics, as it ensures that we never experience a shortage.
During the 1980s, the United States saw pretty severe gas shortages. Gas stations attempted to raise the price as the supply of gas decreased, but the Federal Government put a Price Ceiling on it and forbade them increasing the price beyond that. So, naturally, everyone immediately set their price at the ceiling (even if they weren’t yet that low on supply). As the cost of something increases, people’s willingness to do it or acquire it decreases, which drives them to seek alternatives (the same phenomenon causes heroin addicts to turn to krokodil, which would be averted if alternatives were made cheaper and more accessible by being made legal). Few people would have been willing to pay $100 for a gallon of gasoline, and so they might have taken that money and bought bicycles instead. Is it ideal? No, the ideal solution is to also increase Supply to re-lower the price, which will be necessary because some people have already chosen to go without because of the increased price. “No, we’re not going to go to grandma’s house this week, not for $20 per gallon. We’ll just not buy the gas at all.”
In the real world, some money is better than no money, and this is why producers can be counted upon to increase supply to meet the demand. Otherwise, they’re just leaving money on the table, and that money will go to someone else. This all has to do with diminishing returns, as well–at a certain point, because all goods are scare and finite, the cost of furnishing the supply gets too high, so the price of the good increases beyond the demand, and producers have to come up with alternative solutions for consumers. This is why we don’t have to actually worry about running out of gasoline: once we get up to $17 a gallon, so many alternatives will be cheaper that gasoline will be phased out naturally.
While it’s certainly bad to have gasoline at $100 per gallon, especially during the 80s, it’s preferable to not having gasoline available at all. If some family had to take their sick child to the emergency room, it’s infinitely better for them to be able to buy gasoline at $100 a gallon than to not be able to buy it. High prices are always preferred to shortages. Those people out there who really, really want an NES Classic can buy one, which is obviously better than their being totally unable to buy one.
Scalpers have performed the critical service of increasing the Price of the good, which in turn lowered Demand so that Supply exceeded it. I was just talking with someone at Jim Sterling’s website about it, and I’d pointed out that marking the item as “Limited Edition” would have made the “shortage” worse. This was before I’d thought about the situation enough to realize that there isn’t a shortage. Sure, one can’t buy one at Target or Wal-Mart, but one can buy one, and that is unequivocally not the case in a shortage.
The only real point of contention is that the thing costs more than they’re willing to pay. Hey, that’s not a problem. There’s a “shortage” of $10 ones, too, and $10 is my price point for one. Every single person out there has their own price point–has their own amount that they’d be willing to pay. Evidently, for most people that number is around $60. For some people, it’s around $120. For me, it’s around $10. The fact that there aren’t any available at my price point doesn’t mean there is a shortage, though. It means that I don’t want one of the things as much as other people do*. These people who want to buy one for $60 are talking about “shortages,” but there isn’t a shortage–their price point simply isn’t as high as other people, and because of the low supply the price of the good has increased beyond the price point as determined by their personal demand.
So scalpers are good. They have performed the critical function of providing the NES Classic to the diehard fans who want them most, and we can say that pretty definitively, as one’s personal price point is determined almost entirely by one’s own demand. It follows that people willing to pay $110 obviously want one more than someone who is only willing to pay $60 for one. This means objectively and measurably that the scalpers have ensured that people who wanted the NES Classic most were able to acquire one.
But, again, all the scalpers have done is ensure that people who are bigger fans of Nintendo and NES games were able to acquire an NES Classic, while people who weren’t as big fans and didn’t want one as badly as those other people weren’t able to, because they weren’t willing to fork over that much cash for one. I can’t even pretend to think it’s a bad thing that people who are bigger fans of Nintendo are able to purchase a Nintendo product that they want, as opposed to people who aren’t as big of fans being able to acquire the product. Clearly, it doesn’t matter as much to them, and the role of currency is precisely to allow us to measure value. That’s literally what currency does. The USD is a unit of measurement for value, and we use it to gauge how much a person wants something. If Person A wants a thing more than Person B, then Person A will be willing to pay more. If Person B can’t get it because he’s not willing to pay as much as, or more, than Person A, then the good should go to Person A, because Person A measurably wants it more.
I try not to tweet much at Jim Sterling, but I think I’m going to tweet this one at him, because he’s been pretty hard on scalpers in the past, and I don’t think that’s fair. Looked at economically, all they do is separate the Diehard Fans from the Casual Fans and ensure that the Diehard Fans are able to acquire the things that they are Diehard Fans of. I agree that this sucks for the Casual Fans, but that’s a problem of Supply, not the scalpers. It’s Nintendo’s fault that someone went without an NES Classic. The scalpers only ensured that it was the Casual Fans who went without, and that the Diehard fans didn’t have to.
I think that’s a good thing. I think that if Person A is a bigger fan of This Thing than Person B and is willing to pay more for it than Person B, then Person A should be the one who gets it.
And I would certainly argue, now that Nintendo has ceased producing them and the next batch will be the last, that it is more critical than ever that we ensure that the diehard fans have them. I bought tickets to the A Perfect Circle concert next month for well over what they cost initially, and the reason was precisely because my demand exceeds other people’s. I can’t even convey with words what A Perfect Circle’s music means to me. Being able to see them again–probably for the last tour they’re ever going to do, since no one expected this one and it’s been 14 years since their last one–is one of those experiences that literally makes life worth living (no exaggeration). Because of scalpers, I was able to acquire a ticket, and I would say it’s far more important that I was able to get a ticket than Random Joe who kinda likes their music and has nothing else to do that evening. The seats aren’t even that good, and I don’t even care. It’s A Perfect Circle. It means more to me than it will anyone else in that audience. This song probably conveys it best:
While that’s a matter that’s a bit more serious than a random video game console that can be replicated in countless other ways, the fact remains that scalpers performed the same service there that they’re providing for Diehard Nintendo and NES fans, and… that’s a good thing. It does suck to be on the “I can’t have one” end of that, and I’ve been on that end plenty of times. Until about 3 weeks ago, I was on that end, and didn’t think I was going to be able to make it to see APC in Nashville (The fact that I don’t care even a little about the 3 hour drive says a bit, too). It was genuinely heartbreaking. Thanks to scalpers, I can go. Thanks to scalpers, people who really want an NES Classic can get one.
Nintendo should make more. There’s no doubt of that. And A Perfect Circle should do more tours. But until supply is high enough that everyone can purchase the good at the price point they prefer, there will be people who go without, and scalpers ensure that the “people who go without” are the ones who don’t care as much as other people.
* Actually, I don’t think I’d even pay that. To be completely honest, I don’t think I’d want one if it was free.
I’d also agree that the scalpers have gone way overboard. $400? $500? I even saw one for $8,000. That’s alright, though. I sincerely doubt anyone is going to pay that much, and they’ll lower the price to something less stupid. That’s greed and stupidity more than anything else. But yeah, still, if someone is willing to pay $500 for one of those pieces of crap, then they want it way freaking more than most people and should get it. I just don’t think there is anyone out there willing to pay even half of that. For fuck’s sake, all of the games are available free online…
To clarify the title (originally “War With North Korea is Inevitable”), within the confines of the current U.S. foreign policy, war is inevitable with North Korea. Since it seems extraordinarily unlikely that U.S. foreign policy is going to change very much, I’m reasonably confident that war with North Korea–even if it’s been avoided this weekend–remains inevitable.
First, Kim Jong Un and North Korea aren’t going to stop working out how to make an ICBM and how to lob it at the United States.
Second, they take so much pride in their nuclear program that they would all rather die than surrender it.
Third, the United States is not going to tolerate North Korea developing a nuclear warhead ICBM.
China doesn’t have the power over North Korea that we non-North Koreans like to think they have. It’s true that China is North Korea’s primary lifeline to the world, but North Korea is notoriously defiant, even of China, and if China could tell Kim to “Just cut it out” they would have done so by now–or around the time that we sent carrier groups into the Korean Peninsula. North Korea isn’t part of China, and they don’t like to be treated as though they are–the Sino-Korea Treaty takes great care to be a mutual defense pact, and not a case of “We’re going to protect our little brother.”
While we in NATO know that Montenegro isn’t going to come to the defense of the United States if we’re attacked–and, even if they do, they can’t contribute anything of any actual significance–this isn’t necessarily true with North Korea and China. While China can undoubtedly do more than North Korea, North Korea’s capabilities aren’t inconsequential, though they are limited to that region; North Korea would be almost no help in a war against the United States (except that they’d be able to decimate South Korea), but could contribute considerably in a war against Japan or India.
Our tendency to treat North Korea like China’s little brother, quite frankly, pisses off North Korea. And, realistically, it probably should piss them off. It’s supremely arrogant of us, first of all. North Korea came as close to “kicking our asses” as any nation ever has. It’s rather like getting beat up on a playground and limping away while telling the kid who beat you up that they should be glad they’re being protected by their big brother. They have a feather in their cap that few nations can claim: they took on and defeated the United States.
There are a lot of reasons for that. Our hearts were never in it, and we had to impose the draft to get people involved–and it’s a matter of record that draftees are motivated more by the desire to get back home than to win a “righteous” battle. We ended the Korean War after only three years, making it perhaps one of the shortest wars in American history. That’s how little we wanted to fight it. We were also constrained by UN policies and regulations that, like Vietnam, seemed more designed to make the war perpetual than anything. None of this really matters, though, because the fact remains: North Korea fought us, and North Korea won.
Compare it to our involvement in World War 2, where we were ready to throw anything and everything into the war effort, and against Japan. Then, for the Korean War, we could barely muster an entire regiment of volunteers.
I was relieved today to wake up and learn that we hadn’t started World War 3 in response to North Korea’s testing of a nuclear weapon, primarily because North Korea didn’t test a nuclear weapon.
What does it really matter, though?
It has merely postponed it.
For months, indications have been that North Korea was about to test another nuclear weapon. This is why tensions have been so high–the evidence is pretty clear that we are going to attack if they do so. Satellite images routinely show the “right” activity to indicate there is about to be a nuclear test, and it’s pretty likely that Kim Jong Un backed out at the last minute precisely because of pressure from the United States and China.
But this hasn’t changed anything.
It’s worth taking a moment to ask ourselves why we care whether North Korea tests nuclear weapons. The answer is that our actions throughout the last century have left us having to look over our shoulders constantly, and the only solution we’ve found for this is to continually look over our shoulder and attack anyone we happen to see–which, of course, means that we have to spend even more time looking over our shoulder.
In less than a week, we went from “Are we about to start World War 3 with Russia?” to “Are we about to start World War 3 with China?” One gets the image of a lunatic spinning wildly in circles firing an Ak-47 at every moving shadow he happens to see, paranoid and terrified that someone is coming to get him–and, honestly, is correct that someone is coming to get him, but only because he went around shooting people like a psychopath in the first place.
From what I can tell, this madman could really use some sleep. But he can’t sleep, because he’s created so many enemies that any one of them would sneak up on him in the middle of the night and slit his throat. So the only thing he can do is continue standing and spinning, firing missiles at anything that dares move in his presence while laughing and proclaiming to the world how secure and safe he is now that he’s gone through the world and shot everyone.
I was born on a planet alongside about six billion other people. For the first few years, things seemed pretty ordinary and sane, but then I noticed something odd. These otherwise rational and loving people had the strangest tendency to wantonly kill one another.
And then I noticed something even more bizarre.
Everyone acted like it was totally normal, and as though I was the crazy one for suggesting that we stop killing one another.
We’ve been killing each other for so long that we don’t know any other way. We’re set on that path, and the idea of getting off it, for some reason, terrifies us more than the prospect of nuclear war. God forbid we try to be friends with these people. No, we’d rather risk the possibility of annihilating life on the planet. The notion of just putting down the guns scares us more than nuclear war.
Something remarkable almost happened during World War 1. We came so close to putting war behind us permanently. It marks the most tragic moment in human history, when both sides of a war realized that they didn’t hate each other and that they were brothers being pit against one another by governments. On Christmas Day in the first year of the war, Central Europe forces and Allied forces put down their weapons and met on the battlefield for a day of celebration and peace.
War ends when the soldiers decide to stop fighting.
This posed such a threat to the powers that be–the states of the world–that it was forbidden from then on, and anyone who attempted it faced treason charges. They knew the danger it posed; they knew how close we had come to permanently putting down the guns. All we had to do was make one more decision–“When the sun rises tomorrow, we won’t resume shooting.”
The courage it took those soldiers to rise out of the trenches and walk toward the opposing side was more courage than anyone else had ever displayed in human history. There was every possibility that the other side would seize the opportunity to kill them. “They’re coming at us without weapons! The fools! Kill them! Kill them all!”
But that didn’t happen. They put down their own weapons, and the two sides met in a scene virtually guaranteed to bring tears to any peace lover’s eyes. We were right there. We had put down our guns and approached the other side, trusting that they would accept the gesture of peace and that it wouldn’t prove to be the dumbest thing anyone ever did. And our enemies rose and met the challenge. We came so close to learning it all right then–war is a racket of states. They can order us to kill each other all they want, but they can do nothing if we refuse to. And if we refuse to, we learned on that day, then the other side will refuse to.
It just takes that first courageous gesture of peace, that first person putting down the gun and stepping forward with a hand extended.
The next thing you know, generals and politicians throughout the world are freaking the fuck out because they’ve lost control of the minds of the soldiers and can no longer tell them to go and kill one another.
I challenge the United States to do this today.
If you expect to find a bogeyman pointing a gun at you in every shadow, then that is what you will find.
So disarm completely. Dismantle our warships, our jets, our bombs, our nuclear warheads. Disarm and dismantle everything. Show how courageous you are. Be like those soldiers in World War 1. It doesn’t take courage to continue maniacally shooting at everything that moves. What took courage is throwing up one’s arms, rising out of the trench, and approaching the other side without weapons drawn.
If we put down our weapons, they’ll put down theirs.
It’s time to end the worldwide Mexican Standoff.
And if our government doesn’t do it? Then American soldiers need to just go home. Just put down the weapons and go home. They can’t imprison all of you, because the only people who would imprison you would also have put down their weapons and gone home.
Is it unlikely? Perhaps.
Is it impossible?
The first Christmas of World War 1 suggests that it isn’t. It just takes courage.
One of the more bizarre aspects of the United States’ attack against Syria is the fact that no one bombed us when we killed 230 civilians, a showcase of moral hypocrisy rooted firmly in the idea that might is right. We know that “coalition forces,” meaning the United States for all intents and purposes, killed 230 civilians in a single airstrike, and we know that the death toll doesn’t stop there: more than a thousand civilians were killed in Iraq and Syria by the United States through the month of March.
Here, a lot of significance is placed on the method of death, as though death by suffocation in toxic gas is inherently worse than death by conflagration. The reality is that I sincerely doubt that the dead people would agree–by almost all accounts, burns are worse than suffocation, being overwhelmingly more painful and causing deaths nightmarishly horrific. This isn’t to say that death by sarin gas is good–it certainly isn’t. However, it is the height of arbitrary moral hypocrisy that we proclaim civilian deaths in one type of attack as indisputably more evil than civilian deaths in another type of attack. This is all the more curious since a number of American bombs are explicitly designed to create vacuum pressure by consuming all nearby air–these were used to “great” effect in Operation Iraqi Freedom to suffocate Iraqi forces deeply entrenched in tunnels. Even with bombs not specifically designed to have this effect, death by smoke inhalation (surely a “death by chemical attack”) and heat suffocation (heat being a chemical product of fire, and all) are real threats.
Yet no one took it upon themselves to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at the United States for its wanton and careless murders of civilians throughout the Middle East. In Iraq alone, we have killed more than one hundred thousand civilians. Ignoring all of that, though, as recently as last month we killed more than a thousand in reckless drone strikes–more than ten times the number for which we’ve so gleefully punished Assad for allegedly having killed.
In a certain sense, we have to cling to the ridiculous idea that death by chemical agent is somehow worse than death by combustion agent, because, while we’re frivolously dropping combustion agents all across the world, and unleashed billions of tons of napalm in Korea and Vietnam, we’ve refrained, for the most part, from using what most people would call “chemical weapon strikes.” It’s rather inconsequential, though. Whatever doublethinking mental gymnastics we have to use in order to convince ourselves that what we are doing is okay, but what others are doing is not okay, we will successfully perform. If it wasn’t “Chemical attacks are a special kind of evil” it would be some other excuse.
The idea that someone probably should have fired 590 Tomahawk missiles at the United States (if 100 civilian deaths = 59 Tomahawk missiles, then 1,000 civilian deaths = 590 Tomahawk missiles) is met by two problems. Only the first of these is the moral problem, and the inability of Americans to grasp the idea that if it’s not okay for Assad to kill a hundred civilians, then it’s not okay for the United States to do it. This is rooted more in “Us and Them” than it is the addiction to power–whatever factors are involved, they cannot possibly be completely congruent between Our actions and Their actions, and any one of those factors will be seized as an excuse for why our actions were, like totes 4 real, not that bad. I think by the time we have people honestly arguing with a straight face that it’s better to be exploded into ludicrous gibs than it is to be suffocated by poisonous gas, we can say definitively that any differentiating variable between two actions will be latched onto and given moral significance aimed at justifying one while condemning the other.
The second problem the idea confronts is that it’s positively laughable: there isn’t anyone who could fire 590 Tomahawk missiles at the United States, at least not with impunity. It’s arguable, because of the Strategic Missile Defense System*, whether anyone could strike the United States, but only a few nations in the world even have the technological capabilities of doing it, and most of those are some sort of ally.
I’ve always found Christianity curious, particularly the Old Testament, because it contains some truly horrific acts attributed to its deity. Yet the very idea that, based on literal interpretations of the Old Testament, the Old Testament god is as guilty of mass murder as anyone, and should be punished accordingly, is met with sneering dismissal. “He who has the gold makes the rules,” quipped the genie at the beginning of Disney’s Aladdin. Today, of course, it’s “Whoever can’t be defeated makes the rules,” and that’s the same idea on display with the top-down Biblical morality and deity exemptions here. Typically, Yahweh can’t be punished for doing something wrong, because the fact that Yahweh did it in the first place means that Yahweh wasn’t wrong. Whatever Yahweh does is right, because he’s the one with the power, and therefore the one who determines what is wrong and what is right.
The United States has now sent carrier groups to the Korean Peninsula in a show of force against North Korea and in an attempt to dissuade Kim Jong Un from testing any nuclear weapons. How very curious. We have nuclear weapons. Of course, it’s true that we no longer test our nuclear weapons, but that’s only because we no longer need to–we’ve left the testing phase and remain the only nation in the world to have used them against people. It’s rather like how we condemn developing nations for high, Industrial Era level Carbon emissions–now that we’ve progressed beyond that and no longer really need to burn a bunch of coal, we sneer down our noses and condemn those who haven’t left that phase.
It’s really just a way of forcefully preventing their technological ascension, isn’t it? It’s a way of putting so many roadblocks in their way that they can never catch up to us. Meanwhile, we couldn’t have been condemned for the insane degrees of pollution of developing America because we were at the forefront of development, and no one knew when Ford invented the automobile that we were inadvertently pumping massive amounts of carcinogens into the atmosphere. And there’s nothing they can do tell us to fuck off and mind our own business, because we’re Yahweh. We have the gold; we have the power. We make the rules.
And the idea that anyone can challenge our rules is almost as laughable as the idea of shouting to an omnipotent deity that it did something morally wrong.
“The world’s only superpower,” people like saying, an idea that I’m delving into considerably in this week’s upcoming podcast. It’s absurd. We’re not the world’s only superpower, and we haven’t been since the 90s–we’re simply the only one of the world’s superpowers that uses that power without restraint in an attempt to dictate over the entire globe. It is still true that we’re the reigning champ and that we stand a good distance above everyone else along the world’s totem pole, but the notion that we’re on a special totem pole all by ourselves… It’s not only wrong, but I have to question the mentality of the people who think that and yet still advocate military action against other countries like Syria and Iraq. Isn’t that like arguing that Mike Tyson should beat an amateur high school boxer to death?
No one, not even China, questions the United States’ right to put a bunch of warships in the Korean Peninsula while making threats against a nation that hasn’t attacked anyone in at least 60 years. What if, right now, warships from nations throughout the world, orchestrated by the United Nations, were rallying off the coast of California and Virginia, threatening to “cut off the head” of the United States if we didn’t cease launching missiles at other nations? Such a strange world we live in. Merely from the threat that he might do it, and even though he hasn’t done it, we’re doing exactly that to Kim Jong Un and North Korea. Yet we, the same people doing this, bristle and become furious at the idea that the United Nations would dare coordinate an effort among the world’s nations to do the same to us.
But I suspect we’re on the brink of collapse. Donald Trump’s attack against Syria–failed though it was, by all accounts, since that airstrip was sending Assad’s forces into the air less than 24 hours later, and reportedly only about 35 of them hit the target (maybe we do need to do some further testing…)–has bolstered his confidence. It’s like the first time I smoked marijuana. Well, the second time, actually–the first time, I got so sick from friends shoving sweet food down my throat (an expectation that I played along with, “having the munches” even when I didn’t, because I was a stupid kid), that there was no enjoyment from it. There was about a 4 year gap between the first and second time anyway, and I’d spent most of my life hearing about how horrible marijuana was, how devastating it could be, how dangerous it was, and why no one should ever, ever do it. I successfully resisted peer pressure for years, and then gave in, for no reason in particular.
“Hey, that’s pretty good!” I thought.
Undoubtedly, Trump feels the same, now that he’s nodded and pressed a button, which immediately led to a missile strike against another nation. I have no doubt that the power rush, the adrenaline, of it was orgasmic. He probably had the best sex of his life just a few hours after giving the command, and I’m not trying to be grotesque or anything–I’m being sincere. Murderers notoriously get off by murdering people. And what we’re talking about here goes well beyond murder, and is simultaneously socially acceptable. No one will condemn Trump at a dinner party for being a mass murdering lunatic who fucks his wife after killing people.
I think that Trump is probably not reckless enough to really do anything rash, because the possible consequences are so high. I’m not suggesting that Trump will, chasing after that dragon, fire missiles at China if the Chinese President even squints at him funny. But not only is it in Trump’s blood now (and has been for a few months), but his use of force against Assad instantly earned him the respect of people who have been criticizing him for a year. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
I’ve seen people suggest that if we attack North Korea, China won’t move to stop us. While the Chinese people are sick of Kim Jong Un’s antics and exerting pressure on the Chinese government to get Kim under control, that will change the moment we attack North Korea, because such an act will be taken as a direct challenge to China’s sovereignty and regional authority. Imagine how we would respond if Russia invaded Puerto Rico. If we attack North Korea, we will find ourselves at war with China. We might be able to get away with assassinating Kim Jong Un, but that isn’t the way the United States does things. Presumably.
I’m more concerned with the possibility of finding ourselves bogged down in a war against Syria, Russia, China, North Korea, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries that we’ve either directly attacked, are presently at war with, or are likely to end up at war with them the moment one of the other two world superpowers has had enough of our bullshit. I honestly don’t think that Putin is going to let us have Syria and Assad, and that situation has the terrifying capacity to develop into a direct war between the United States and Russia. We’re already at war with them, for fuck’s sake–that’s what it’s called when one nation allies with another and supplies them with jets, bombs, AA guns, and other shit against another nation. It’s why claims of U.S. neutrality during World War 2 are such bullshit–everyone knows we weren’t neutral. We simply weren’t active combatants.
Anyway, that’s a rather long list of countries to be at war with, and the only one that doesn’t unequivocally belong on that list is China. We are still at war with North Korea, though we do have an armistice with them. We’re at war with Pakistan. That’s what it’s called when you drop bombs on them, and we dropped bombs on them last year.
Courtesy of http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-president-barack-obama-bomb-map-drone-wars-strikes-20000-pakistan-middle-east-afghanistan-a7534851.html
What an astounding coincidence that those happen to be the exact countries from which we don’t want to accept refugees! Amazing! What are the odds of that? What are the odds that these countries with refugees we don’t want to accept because they run a relatively high risk of wanting to kill us happen to correspond perfectly to the countries we’ve been dropping bombs in? If it was actually a coincidence, the odds would be extremely low. No one in Vegas would take that bet. But it’s not a coincidence, of course. We might as well have Americans saying, “You see these countries we dropped bombs in last year? Yeah, those are the ones we don’t want to accept refugees from.”
I don’t think China will allow us to attack North Korea.
If that statement caused you to bristle, please understand that your belief in American dominance and rightness in global hegemony is the problem.
I intended to call attention to the remarkable similarity between this and the idea that we must have a government that is ultimately in charge, because the same thread runs through both. We need police, we need judges, and we need laws–we need someone at the top who cannot be challenged, goes the argument. So yes, the global chaos we see today is again a direct result of statism. People say that we need some domestic authority figure, and they say that we need some international authority figure. This is why it’s okay for the police to tackle and beat the hell out of someone for jaywalking, and this is why it’s okay for the United States to launch missiles into a sovereign nation.
* I know that this was leaked as a failure, but seeing as we’ve since blown up a satellite in orbit from Earth (which operates on exactly the same principle) and apply the same principles in unarmored assault vehicles that utilize moving guns and camera coverage to shoot incoming bullets out of the way, no one should still believe the idea that we failed to do this. Why else would we have surrounded Russia with missile batteries? Hell, the official reason given is that we intend to shoot Russian missiles out of the sky!
We can’t prevent any and all negative consequences.
The idea that we somehow can lies at the heart of statism. We can’t have freedom of association, because then some racist assholes would choose not to associate with black people. We can’t have capitalism because then some people might not be able to afford food. We can’t have freedom of speech because then some people might hurt other people’s feelings.
The most common criticism of anarchism is that anarchy can’t guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong, a security that people seem to desperately crave, even though they don’t have it, and even though it’s impossible in a universe that doesn’t seem to care much whether we’re here. “What will you do to prevent murder?” people ask the anarchist, using the anarchist’s inability to definitively prevent murder as a reason for rejecting anarchy.
It’s fallacious, of course. The state doesn’t successfully prevent negative consequences either, no matter how much it tries and interferes in our lives. With all the laws and prisons, with all the destruction of liberty in the modern United States, there remains murder. It’s readily apparent that this isn’t an argument for the state; it’s an excuse for the status quo. “The state doesn’t successfully prevent murder, but anarchy can’t either. So why change?”
The obvious answer is that the state doesn’t simply fail to prevent murder; it is the Primary Murderer. As an institution, the state has racked up a body count that should cause any moral person to do a doubletake; in the 20th century alone, counting only war and advice combatants, states killed more than 120,000,000 people. If there were no states, those people killed by states would not have died. So if we want to reduce murder, the stateless society is clearly the way to go.
Prohibition doesn’t work, and we know this. Everyone knows it until we get to their Pet Issue, at which point they decide arbitrarily that prohibition can work. Abortion is a great example, because outlawing abortion doesn’t stop abortion; it merely chases it to the shadows of the back alley. Prohibition against alcohol didn’t eliminate alcohol; it was merely chased into the shadows of the black market. Prohibition against drugs hasn’t stopped people from doing drugs.
The argument may be that it’s fine, because we’ve substantially reduced the number of people doing these things, even if some people still do them, but this ignores the tremendous negative consequences. Our prisons are filled with non-violent offenders, largely minorities. Drugs are bought and sold in secret, unverified, possibly impure, possibly laced, and possibly lethal. People who can’t find heroin turn to krokodil. These are negative consequences. Our state intervention did not come without a price and arguments can certainly be made that the price was higher than the reward. Great, we kept five people off heroin, and the only side effect was that two people got on krokodil! Only a supremely jaded person can call this a victory.
Of course, this simply leads to more interventions, and more attempts to make up new rules to address the negative side effects of the old rules. Russia made codeine prescription-only to fix the krokodil epidemic caused by heroin being illegal, which simply made heroin easier to get and cheaper than krokodil. And then they’ll come up with some new rule to address the negative side effects of the last rule, and the end result is a clusterfuck of nonsensical laws limiting the behavior of adults.
Don’t think that we’re any different in the United States. There are positive and negative consequences to every action. Getting up early and starting my work day early comes with the positive consequence of earning more money, and with the negative consequence of getting less sleep. There’s always a trade-off, and this is the critical thing that statists attempt to deny.
Sure, outlawing heroin seems like a good idea with positive consequences–right up until someone’s skin rots off because they turned to krokodil. That negative consequence can’t be ignored. Furthermore, any attempt to fix it will come with its own set of consequences. And each time, liberty is restricted. The adults out there who use heroin in the same way that party drinkers use alcohol are caught in the cross fire, their lives destroyed in our Quixotic quest to eliminate drug addicts, and turned into hardened criminals by a prison system that rivals the Roman Gladiatorial Arenas in sheer barbarism.
Prohibition against alcohol probably lowered the number of people who drank. It also created Al Capone and turned Chicago into the gang-infested nightmare that it remains today. It drastically lowered the quality of alcohol, leading to widespread poisoning, and turned previously safe warehouses into guarded camps that regularly saw vicious battles erupting over control of the lucrative black market. It was hardly what anyone would call a victory.
Prohibiting abortion today wouldn’t end it, especially not in an age that has the Tor network (The Dark Web), which would make it easier than ever to find an abortionist. Even Craigslist can’t keep illicit activity off, and people would find abortionists through it. Rather than having the procedure done in a safe and sterile environment, though, we’d be back in the alley with coathangers. We know this, because that’s what happened before abortion was legalized.
It’s true. I can’t promise you that nothing will ever go wrong in an anarcho-capitalist society. In fact, the only thing I can promise you is that things will go wrong. The only thing that really matters is which set of consequences you want. Do you want freedom and the sometimes negative consequences? Do you want free speech even though it means people might say hateful things? Do you want free association even though it means racists might not associate with minorities?
Or do you want statism, for the government to attempt to minimize negative consequences by limiting freedom, and thereby creating a new set of consequences that have to be addressed by limiting freedom more?
We can’t have a utopia. In a universe largely hostile to our existence, imperfect beings can’t have a utopia. The state can’t give us one, and anarchy can’t give us one. Basic algebra tells us, then, that we can reduce the equation by erasing utopia from both sides. When we do this, what are we left with?
Freedom and negative consequences, or tyranny and negative consequences.