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 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.
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.
It’s come to my attention–via hearsay, as I’ve never read the person in question–that Walter Block argues that punishment in a stateless society isn’t strictly necessary, but what is important is that survivors are doubly repaid for losses. This seems to deal primarily with theft, but there was also a solution relayed to me regarding murder: simply, the murder would work for the surviving family for the rest of his life.
I… can’t get on board with any of this.
These are the moments when the principle of Non Aggression gets skewed. I have no idea if Walter Block advocates these things are not, but they are grotesque and immoral, and are no better than the state system of law and punishment we have now. So because a man did something wrong, he is to be condemned to being a slave for the rest of his life? What part of that is supposed to be in accord with AnCap principles? What part of that is supposed to be in accord with non aggression? Slavery is among the greatest violations of the NAP, to take someone and force them to work for you because they wronged you and your family member…
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
I know it’s hard. Believe me, I really do. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see some news article from the tri-state area about a body being found in the mountains, in a lake, or in a ditch, and every single time some part of me hopes… “Could this be it? Could this be my mother?” I know damned well what it’s like to lose a family member to murder, and I know what it’s like to live with that, to live with the murderer getting away with absolutely no punishment whatsoever because the body was thoroughly discarded. So you’re not going to find too many more people with the stable ground to say this:
There is nothing that could be done to bring justice to my murdered mother. It’s done. It’s over. She’s dead. While I would love nothing more than to have her rotting body buried somewhere respectable, with a tombstone so that I could finally put her to rest, even that would do nothing to alleviate any of the sorrow or pain, and it definitely wouldn’t bring her back. I know exactly who killed her, but without a body there’s nothing to be charged with. He lives a life of relative comfort, now a trained engineer or something like that, and has the love of his children and his other family members. There is nothing that can be done to him that would constitute justice.
This is the conceit that is breaking modern society: there’s no such thing as justice. It’s an imaginary idea. What we mean when we say “justice” is “This person did something wrong, so we’re going to get revenge, but we’re going to call it something else because we want to convince ourselves that our wrongful act against him is somehow different than the wrongful act he committed.” But it isn’t, because two wrongs don’t make a right.
It’s wrong to kidnap people at gunpoint, hold them against their will, and force them into slave labor, to force them into situations where they live in concrete jungles and have to fight for their lives or be raped. That’s morally wrong. There are no exceptions.
Truth be told, there is only one way for me to have justice over my mother’s murder by what most people would call my uncle, and that would be… forgiveness. Forgiving him is the only way to ease the pain in my heart and to release the sorrow. Isn’t that the point of justice? To ease the victim’s pain? Punishment doesn’t ease the victim’s pain; it converts it into zealous excitement and lust for vengeance. Just like if your wife cheats on you, it won’t ease your pain to then go out and cheat on your wife; it will only exacerbate it, enlarge it, and lengthen it. No, the only way forward, the only way to recovery, and the only way toward justice is through forgiveness.
That phrasing isn’t accidental. Forgiveness is a difficult labyrinth that must be navigated, with pitfalls and temptations hiding around every corner. Through the darkness emanate the whispers, “Why should you be the one putting in the effort? You did nothing wrong! He should be the one who pays! He should be the one who suffers! Haven’t you suffered enough? It’s time for him to pay for what he did!” These voices rarely cease while one travels through the labyrinthine, internal mind, coming to terms with the past and accepting its role in shaping the present.
It’s not supposed to be easy to forgive people, but forgiveness is all about the forgiver; it has nothing to do with the aggressor. I realized this when I was asked what, if anything, Vegas Chick could do to cause me to forgive her. I realized that there was nothing she could do, because it didn’t have anything to do with her. It had everything to do with me and my own emotional responses. I had a choice: to cling to the negative emotions, or to let them go. A demand for some kind of contrition, some kind of punishment… is clinging to the negative emotions. It never releases them, and releasing them is the only way to travel from the land of the wounded to the land of peace.
It’s also not easy to forgive the man who murdered my mother for unknown reasons. It’s not easy to forgive him for being the sole reason that I will be buried long before her body is ever discovered, if, indeed, her body is ever found. It’s not supposed to be easy to take a deep breath, let the negativity wash away, and say, “I forgive you.”
As a society, we have a passionate lust for revenge, and we love our euphemisms precisely because they allow us to pretend like it’s not revenge that we’re after. Years ago, when working through these ideas, I decided that the difference had to be that justice was impartial and vengeance was personal. In other words, if you enacted punishment against the murder on my behalf, then it was justice; if I did it, then it was vengeance. I’ve since realized how wrong that is. You acting on my behalf doesn’t change anything. It’s just a convenient way for me to shirk the responsibility; it’s just a handy way for me to pretend like I’m not the one responsible for the aggression being committed against someone else. “I’m not doing it!” I could proclaim. “They’re doing it!”
Except they’re doing it with my blessing. And whether I have the power to stop them or not–in the modern American system, I probably don’t have the power to stop the court system from prosecuting him, if her body was ever discovered–it wouldn’t change the fact that they’re doing so on my behalf, on my mom’s behalf, and on my sister’s behalf. But what if my sister and I both expressed that we wanted it forgiven, not punished? Because I would absolutely go before court and argue such a thing, even for the person who murdered my mother. Our testimony would mean little. We wouldn’t be able to simply drop the charges, despite being the only survivors of the murdered woman and therefore having more claim to express her wishes than anyone else.
And why? Because the state would be acting instead on behalf of Straw Victims it has imagined, and those Straw Victims are more important than my sister and me.
Punishment doesn’t end an injustice. It extends it.
The goal can’t be to punish someone. Punishment must be incidental, if it happens at all.
I don’t dispute that, once someone murders another person, individuals–whether elected or hired–have the purview to take measures to prevent the murderer from murdering anyone else. How this is to be accomplished, however, is a question of extreme importance. The obvious answer, according to most people, is to “Throw them in prison and throw away the key!”
No, because that doesn’t really prevent murder. The murder rate in prison is pretty high, and you won’t get most rational people to agree to a life sentence for one murder. Hell, the person we’re talking about served only 7 of a ten year sentence for murder. So the person is ultimately going to get back out of prison–or will kill someone in prison, bypassing the “out of prison” part altogether and committing a murder, meaning our preventative efforts failed. Since prison inmates have a 75% likelihood of going back to prison, prison is clearly an ineffective way of preventing crime from happening again. It may or may not prevent some crime, but it’s too ineffective to be our Yes, That’s the Best Solution answer.
I don’t know that I really have an alternative. Extensive therapy by trained psychologists would obviously be in order. Is there any way to fix this person’s damaged brain? Because, without exception, something has broken down in the moral centers of the murderer’s brain. That’s a given, because normal, healthy people don’t murder other people. We find the idea repugnant in every conceivable way, and we would not murder another person even if we knew that we could get away with it without any consequences at all. It’s not punishment or fear of punishment that stays our hands; it’s our own internal morality. Once that internal morality breaks down, no amount of laws will protect someone.
The goal of prison was supposed to be to segregate, punish, and rehabilitate. It fails on all accounts. A scary number of innocent people have landed in prison, without even getting into the number of people in prison for committing “victimless crimes*”. So criminals are not segregated from the innocent. Nor are they punished, at least not in the way that society likes to pretend. Drug abuse and sex are rampant in prison. It’s often easier to find hardcore drugs in prison than it is to find them on the streets. As for rehabilitation–you’re kidding right? I would bet my shiny new tickets to the A Perfect Circle show in Nashville that most the 25% of former prisoners who don’t return to prison are simply too old upon release to be out there raping and killing people, or whatever they did to go to prison in the first place.
There has to be some way of preventing someone from committing another murder, and that’s what our focus should be on. Not punishment. Punishment only exacerbates the amount of wrongdoing in the world. Killing someone because they killed someone doesn’t reduce the amount of killing in the world; it obviously increases it by one. Kidnapping and holding someone against their will for kidnapping and holding someone against their will doesn’t reduce the amount of people being kidnapped and held against their will; it increases it by one. There is no justice as long as we are doing things that add more murder, more kidnapping, more imprisonment, more rape, and more violence to the world.
Justice, as an ideal, must be incapable of increasing the amount of aggression in the world. If it increases the amount of aggression, then it cannot be justice. That must be our metric for determining what is justice and what isn’t.
It starts with forgiveness.
This doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t be held to account for acts of aggression, or that there should be no consequences. It does, however, change the goals of the consequences. Rather than seeking punishment, we should seek prevention. “What can we do to make sure this man never kills again?” should be our guiding question, not, “How can we make this man suffer for what he did?” The act is done. Making him suffer won’t fix anything and won’t help anything; it will only increase the amount of suffering in the world.
And two wrongs don’t make a right.
This is very different from catching someone in the act of aggression and having the opportunity to stop the act from escalating. If you walk in on some thief beating the hell out of your family member and you shoot and kill that thief, you’ve done nothing wrong. You prevented a beating from escalating into what probably would have been a murder. Since the thief initiated the aggression, you did what you had to do to protect another human being who had done nothing to initiate the attack. But what if you came home from work and you knew who had beaten your brother half to death and stolen your laptops and television? Would it be morally right to chase that person down and kill them? I don’t think many people would say “Yes” to that, and I certainly wouldn’t. Because at that point, you’re no longer preventing; you’re punishing.
We need a lot of spiritual growth–a phrase I use colloquially. It’s true, though. Before we can have a stateless society, we have to have a society where no one is asking “How can we punish criminals?” Because a stateless society can’t answer that question, because a stateless society forbids the use of force, violence, and coercion. “How can we punish criminals” is the wrong question, coming from a dark place in the human heart that prefers vengeance to forgiveness, and that’s something we have to let go of. We have to learn to forgive. Once we have a society of people asking the right question–“How can we prevent a murderer from killing again?”–then we will be ready to enjoy the luxuries of a stateless society.
This is part of the reason that the state is so tied to the criminal system, of course. It wants us to confuse punishment with justice, because as long as we’re erroneously calling punishment “justice,” we’ll despise any system that seeks to deny it to us. “You mean you’re not going to punish that child rapist? He should have his dick cut off! He should be publicly castrated! Fuck him! Throw him in prison with Big Jim!”
That’s vengeance, not justice.
Yes, by all means, and absolutely: let’s prevent that rapist from raping again. That’s mandatory, once they have done such a horrific act. But punishment isn’t going to do it. And when taking steps to prevent the act from occurring again, we should be mindful whether our motivation is to sate our bloodlust for vengeance, or whether our motivation is to actually protect future victims from being similarly harmed. Only by using the correct path can we arrive at the correct destination.
Bloodlust leads to punishment and, 75% of the time, repeat offenses.
Forgiveness leads to justice and prevention.
So what do we do about criminals in a stateless society? I don’t know. But I’d love for us to put our brilliant minds and our empathic hearts together and come up with a solution that actually works without increasing the amount of suffering in the world and while releasing the primordial instinct within us that demands we take an eye for an eye.
I’m in the process of launching Anarchy Central. I’m doing so for a few different reasons.
For the time being, the site will function as a mirror for my articles here, with some filtering. Things like my Samsung Galaxy S7 Review won’t land on Anarchy Central. And I’ll tone language down considerably (well, I’ll generally remove profanity) before mirroring the article. Non-political writings won’t end up there.
Secondly, it’s my hope that the more inclusive domain name will allow me to recruit contributors more easily, and I’ve already got the page up to do so. I’m particularly seeking AnComs and AnSyns, to balance the anarchist ideologies.
Ultimately, there will be dedicated sections that explain and argue for the various anarchy types, but disputes between them generally will be discouraged; for example, an AnComs article about how AnCaps aren’t real anarchists won’t be published, first of all, and could result in a ban. But I’m not about to go into the rules and terms here.
I’ve got everything needed to set up a BB Forum at https://anarchycentral.com/board, but that’s obviously something that will wait until the site has lots of traffic and contributors.
The primary goal right now is simpler: to have a more palatable and less controversial place to direct people. The alias “Anarchist Shemale” is doing at least as much to hurt as to help. Of course, this will still be my primary site, and nothing here will change; Anarchy Central won’t get exclusive articles or anything. Neither will Anarchy Central be a secondary site, though. It will, however, be community-oriented. That’s the plan, at least. Building a community isn’t easy.
The look and feel of the site isn’t complete. There are not yet any custom images or anything along those lines; I’ve been stuck working directly from my phone, which severely limits what I’m able to do. I’ve not yet set up most of the widgets that I’ll need, or created key pages. But I’m looking forward to doing it.
“Anarchy” is derived from the Greek an arkhos, which translates literally to “without rulers.” It follows, then, that we have our universal definition of anarchy: a state in which there are no rulers, and our definition of anarchist: someone who advocates that there should not be rulers.
Then we have something that is completely unrelated–the point of divergence between anarcho-communists and anarcho-capitalists. It is a statement of fact that this thing is not related to anarchy, and this “thing” is hierarchy, which derives from hierarkhes, which means “sacred ruler.” Anarchy, then, means “without a sacred ruler,” because “sacred” is a type of ruler, and anarchy means “without rulers” of any and all types–sacred or mundane. In this classical, etymological sense, yes–anarchy does mean “without hierarchy.”
But what does hierarchy actually mean today? Briefly, we turn to Google for the definition:
a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority.
Not a mention of rulers or anything sacred.
It’s a matter of record that the meaning of “hierarchy” has changed considerably over time–clearly, and no one can dispute this assertion. This is a word game that the Anarcho-Communists pull, as follows:
“Anarchy” means without rulers.
“Anarchy” means without hierarchy [sacred rulers].
“Anarchy” means without hierarchy [a system in which people or groups are ranked…]
We can tell with no more than a glance that “sacred rulers” and “a system in which people or groups are ranked” are not even kinda the same thing. For example, in a lot of ways the colleague I’ve mentioned several times is my boss, and I am subordinate to him; in our two-tier hierarchy, he is above me. He is not, however, sacred nor a ruler. He is not my ruler because I am free to disobey and disassociate from him at any time I would like, and that is not the case with rulers, least of all sacred ones.
It’s a word game that the AnComs are playing, by saying that anarchy means not having “this word,” knowing that “this word” has a new, modern meaning that has absolutely nothing to do with its ancient meaning–and they know they are correct when they reference its ancient meaning. The Anarcho-Capitalist would gladly agree–anarchy most certainly does mean “without sacred rulers.”
Does anarchy mean “without a system in which people or groups are ranked”?
To the Anarcho-Communist, the answer is “Yes.”
To the Anarcho-Capitalist, the answer is “No.”
No True Scotsman
This post is motivated by the claim I hear ad nauseum that AnCaps aren’t true anarchists. This is nonsense. We established the definitions clearly above. Their etymological origins are in full accord with their modern meanings–notwithstanding statist propaganda that has attempted to redefine “anarchy” to mean “lack of a central authority or civil war.” Anarchy means today exactly what it did when the Greeks combined an with arkhos: without rulers. So anyone who advocates the ideology that there should not be rulers is an anarchist.
It’s a two-sided game, and I am more than willing to stop playing it if the AnComs will stop playing it. If you guys stop saying that we aren’t true anarchists, we’ll stop saying that you aren’t true anarchists. This is most definitely an argument that we can make.
For example, the anarcho-communist would not allow me to voluntarily subordinate myself to my colleague. In so doing, the anarcho-communist has granted themselves authority over me, and I must obey them. They are, in every sense, attempting to be my ruler–attempting to decree what I can and cannot do, rather than what I should and should not do. There is nothing anarchistic about this, as they are making themselves rulers. Far from eliminating rulers, anarcho-communism attempts to turn an idea into the ruler–the idea of equality across the board, whether people like it or not, and the anarcho-communists become the footsoldiers of the state to enforce that ruler’s decrees.
See, I don’t have to rely upon word games to say that AnComs aren’t real communists. They do. They have to perform a literary sleight of hand, by saying that anarchy means “without hierarchy” while using the classical, original definition, and pretending that this applies to the modern, unrelated definition. If you argue for them to explain what is meant by hierarchy, you will ultimately beat them back until they confess that what they want is not a society without rulers but a society where everyone is a ruler as long as they bow to this idea and attempt to enforce it.
Person A to Person B: “I hereby voluntarily agree to work for you and to do as you say.”
AnCom: “No, you can’t do that. You have to be equals.”
Person A: “Says who?”
AnCom: “Says me. Everyone has to be equal.”
Person A: “But you have the authority to tell me what I can and can’t do?”
Person A: “Then everyone isn’t equal, are they? You are my ruler.”
AnCom: “It’s for the greater good. Everyone must be equal.”
Person A: “Except they aren’t. You’re at least my ruler.”
AnCom: “It’s for the greater good of equality. You can’t be allowed to subordinate yourself to someone.”
In the anarcho-communist society, entering into a voluntarily subordinate agreement becomes an act of revolution.
It’s a blackhole of contradiction and oxymorons that, in order to ensure that there are no rulers, everyone must become a ruler and rule over everyone who doesn’t agree ideologically–which we see play out precisely in the above conversation. It’s impossible to force people to be equal without setting yourself up as a ruler over them, and why is that? Because the use of force, violence, and coercion are what mark a state, and the state is the ruling caste. Anarcho-Communism does not abolish the state. It widens it.
Leaders & Rulers
The problem is the inability to see that there is a difference between choosing to be subordinate to someone, and being forced to be subordinate to someone. In the above conversation–which, I daresay, few AnComs could actually dispute as being a realistic interpretation of the ideology–in order to stop someone from choosing to be subordinate to someone, they are forced to be subordinate to someone–under the auspices that it is unacceptable to be subordinate to someone. We can see the doublethink and cognitive dissonance in action, can’t we? We know the AnCom is shaking his or her head and mumbling, “No, no… That’s different. That’s not the same.”
And they’re right–but not for the right reasons. They’re right that it is not the same to choose to be subordinate to someone and to be forced to be subordinate. It is the critical difference between a ruler and a leader. A leader is someone to whom we choose to defer–either because of their expertise, knowledge, strength, wisdom, intelligence, or whatever. A ruler is someone to whom we must defer–because of their use of force, violence, and coercion.
It is the difference between following and obeying.
It is the difference between choice and force.
It is the difference between advice and mandate.
It is the difference between suggestion and requirement.
The AnCom, by extension, sees no difference between the above dichotomies, yet there is a world of difference. For example, I have suggested repeatedly that people who read my stuff should use Firefox, Ghostery, NoScript, and Adblock Plus. I have never mandated that these things are required. Of course I haven’t! I have no authority or power to make any mandates or demands. This is the difference; this is where the distinction lies. That some people choose to follow what I write, and on some occasions to even acquiesce to my ideas and adopt them, gives me no authority over them or power over them whatsoever. They can disavow me and disassociate from me at any time. I am not their ruler*.
If I attempt to enter into a voluntary agreement with someone else, and you tell me that I can’t, then how do I not have a ruler? In fact, I’m quite far from being an arkhos, aren’t I? I have a ruler: you. The ruler is the one who mandates that I cannot enter into this voluntarily agreement; the ruler is the one who requires that I not enter into this voluntary agreement.
* To be fair, I would also say that I am not their leader, either. Except, perhaps, in the case of a few examples–two in particular, those same two to whom I posted videos a while back. But let’s not get into that.
There are three main threads through everything that I write:
A rejection of absolutist black & white thinking.
Strict adherence to the Non Aggression Principle, to the extent that punishment becomes off-limits in favor of forgiveness and prevention of future crimes.
What I now call Nietzscheanism*–that is: morality is a human construct that primarily exists to keep the strong from abusing the weak; it is a luxury of the middle class, one not allowed to the lower class and one that the upper class isn’t held to.
It’s immediately clear, from the second two bullets–the first is only mentioned because it simply is a common thread, but it’s not the point of today’s discussion–that there is a conflict.
Can there be a greater example of middle class morality than the NAP? In fact, I would say that the NAP is the shining bastion of middle class morality–fully swearing off and condemning all force, violence, and coercion and asking that everyone else do it. Obviously, this can only happen in a world where everyone compromises the middle class. This is the crux of anarcho-capitalism, and the reason I insist that Nietzsche would be an AnCap if he lived today, knowing what we know.
Goodness, there’s just so much ground to cover to bring my ideology full circle. It’s always difficult to explain to people exactly what I advocate, because it is very much circular, and that makes it hard to pinpoint a beginning. Here, we’ve started from Nietzscheanism and objectivism, and that works, but only if there isn’t a deity. After all, if there is a deity giving some sort of meaning to our existence, then life does matter. So before I could really get anyone on board with Nietzscheanism, I have to get people on board with atheism–Nietzscheanism, after all, is nothing but Applied Atheism. But before I can get anyone on board with atheism, there is a whole lot of groundwork to lay, and it’s groundwork that I’m not going to attempt to lay, because atheism and theism are irrelevant to the larger point. I can be right or wrong about individual pieces regardless of the existence of a deity.
However, I would say that before I could attempt to convince someone that there isn’t a deity, I would have to convince them the value of reason over emotion since, by any measurement, faith is an emotion-based position. We will keep going back and back and back until we arrive right back at subjective value determinations, which lands us right back in the territory of Nietzsche and the Austrian economists. I actually made a few years ago a document–a flow chart, for the most part–where one ideology led to the next, and it was clear by the end of it, after I was able to connect Nietzscheanism back to subjective value determinations–because the essence of Nietzscheanism is that morals are subjective–that I had just created a giant web. I know I still have it somewhere, but I can’t be bothered to find it, and it’s not that important anyway.
Morality, Very Briefly
There is no such thing as “morally good” or “morally bad.” These are values that we prescribe to various acts based on the consequences of those acts, the motive behind those acts, and the circumstances around which that act was committed. This is virtually a tautology at this point, but I will take the time to explain it anyway.
Let’s say that I push you down, causing you to break your arm. I have assaulted you. Everyone would agree that I was morally wrong to do so.
However, let’s say that I push you out of the way of an oncoming train that, for whatever reason, you aren’t aware is coming, and I cause you to break your arm. Suddenly most people would call me a hero and say that I’d saved your life.
In both scenarios, I did exactly the same thing: I pushed you, you fell, and you broke your arm. However, in the first scenario I was just being an aggressive bitch. In the second, I was saving you from being hit by a train. Yet the act itself and the consequence of that act are the same in both scenarios: the act was that I pushed you; the consequence was that you broke your arm.
What changed? In reality, what changed were the imagined consequences of me not pushing you. See, morality, as Henry Hazlitt observed in The Foundations of Morality, arises as a result of imagination, that wonderful characteristic that homo sapien has but so few animals share. It is our ability to imagine that gives rise to morality. Without even realizing it, so gifted are we at doing this, we imagine hypothetical alternative scenarios where I did not push you, and we compare the likeliest result of those scenarios with the reality that transpired. Marvelous creatures, we humans! And, in this way, imagination is literally the cause of morality, as it is precisely what allows us to envision these alternative realities.
In the first example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted, and your arm is not broken. You go on about your day without a broken arm. By most criteria, that is certainly a better outcome for you, and since I am the reason you do not get to enjoy that superior outcome, it is determined in a fraction of a second that what I did was morally wrong. We do this innately; I’d almost say that we conceive these hypotheticals instantaneously, and the speed and proficiency are the reasons why we forget that morality is the result of imagination.
In the second example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted right up until a train plows into you and utterly destroys you. By most criteria, that is certainly an inferior outcome for you, and since I am the reason that you were spared that inferior outcome, it is determined, perhaps instantaneously, that what I did was morally good.
These value statements themselves, though, are built on a few assumptions:
Empathy: This person is generally like me, and I should do unto this person what I would like this person to do for me. In most cases, what I want is much the same as what this person wants.
My own preferences: I prefer to not be in pain. I prefer pleasure. I prefer happiness. I prefer to not be sad. I prefer to remain alive.
By combining our own personal preferences with an extension of them onto other people–the very essence of what “empathy” is–we arrive at a criteria by which we assess whether something was good or bad. It’s by no means a perfect system–how could it be, when we are imperfect creatures?
Whenever I think of empathy and the application of my preferences onto others, I recall the time in college that I was behind the desk unplugging my laptop because class was over. While back there, without even asking, I took it upon myself to unplug my neighbor’s laptop, because he was in the process of packing his backpack. It seemed perfectly reasonable to assume that he’d like me to go ahead and unplug his while I was back there. Because I have all the social graces of Dexter, it didn’t occur to me at all to ask if he’d like me to do it; I simply did it. And I immediately learned that his laptop’s battery didn’t work, and that I did a cold shutdown on his laptop. Not a big deal, but something that has always stuck with me about assuming that our preferences automatically apply to others. They don’t. However, generally, they do. I mean, what are the odds that his laptop battery wouldn’t work at all? Under 95% of circumstances, the person would have said, “Oh, cool, thank you!” instead of “Oh, hold… What the hell? Did you unplug me?”
Nietzsche described good as “the will to power” and happiness as “having power.” From a strictly Darwinian perspective, he’s not wrong. He’s clearly not wrong; he can’t be wrong. However uncomfortable it makes us, he’s right. If our criteria is “survival of the species,” then the only thing that makes sense is to let the powerful do what they can. Do the powerful want to wipe out the weak? Turn them into sex slaves? Install governments throughout the world and use those governments to control the weak? Then they must be allowed to, under this perspective, because we do live in a universe that is trying to kill us, where only the strong survive. It’s a straight line from there to Eugenics, to forced breeding programs to breed the “most capable human.” It’s a sickening path.
Now, to be clear, Nietzsche most certainly did not go that far, and he did not advocate any of that. He was merely arguing that morality is a tool used by the weak to neuter the strong, creating three classes of people in the process: the middle class who were strong and obeyed the morality, the lower class who were weak and therefore didn’t have the luxury, and the upper class who were strong and rejected the morality.
With all the above being true, we can see that the moral statement “force, violence, and coercion are unacceptable” is the epitome of Middle Class Morality. For one, this maxim is as close as we can get to a universally applicable morality. Is it true that absolutely no one wants force, violence, and coercion done to them? Certainly not. It’s no longer acceptable to say for some reason, but there are people out there who would genuinely like to be raped, for example. I’ve met a few, and their problem is always the same: they want to be raped without consenting to it, but giving someone permission to rape them is consenting to it, and the odds that a random stranger is going to rape them are not good. Beyond that, if they ran around clearly looking to be raped–wearing excessively revealing clothes and being unnecessarily sensual–it is passively consenting to it. I raise all this to make the point that they don’t want to consent to have it forced on them; they want it genuinely forced on them.
Rumor has it that Angelina Jolie once paid a hitman to kill her. She genuinely wanted someone to do violence to her, assuming it is true–and I don’t care whether or not it is, because there have been enough suicides by cop that it’s provable that some people genuinely want violence done to them. My own mother apparently sought out violent and coercive men. So obviously these things are not going to be universally applicable, because nothing is universally applicable to a species filled with individuals as varied and wild as we are.
In essence, all rights can be distilled to the following: we have the right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us unless we consent to it priorily. This statement is all-inclusive. Just as you have that right, as does everyone have that right. This means, then, that you do not have the right to use force, violence, and coercion against someone without their consent. The right to free speech, free religion, free trade, free employment, and free everything else–they all stem from this basic right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us. They are applications of this maxim to specific issues.
Are these inherent rights? Perhaps and perhaps not. It could be argued you have the right to attempt to stop someone from using force, violence, and coercion against you; in essence, it could be argued that you have the right to try to be strong, and, by being strong, subjugate the weak. It depends upon our subjective values–our criteria for determining morality. If we go with the Darwinian approach, then we arrive at this latter system of rights, where one has the right to do anything they can–this is an underground system of rights, the one that lives in the underbelly’s shadows in society, when certain behaviors are outlawed and black markets thrive.
Because that is, after all, the essence of the black market: a place where the forced middle class morality doesn’t apply because it happens in the shadows. The black market is generally created when the state outlaws something it has no business outlawing**, creating a new dichotomy of the strong and the weak, instead of the trifecta of those who can’t, those who do, and those who don’t. Since middle class morality ceases to apply to anyone, you’re left with only the strong and the weak–the victims and the aggressors.
It follows, then, that if outlawing things leads to the creation of a black market–which we know it does, from indisputable proof and countless examples from the drug war to abortions to ration stamps–that is differentiated from society by the fact that middle class morality doesn’t apply at all and we’re left only with the strong and the weak, then if we outlawed nothing, we would utterly eliminate this black market characterized specifically by the rule of the strong and Darwinian morality.
Application of the NAP Against Nietzscheanism
There are two things that must be done for the NAP to be realized, for middle class morality to be universally applicable–as much as it can be, at least. First, the lower class has to abolished and lifted up into the middle class. So let’s state this loudly and clearly:
No nation other than the United States has come close to eliminating its lower class.
This isn’t a bad thing. We look around the United States and, yes, we have a lower class still, but they aren’t really “lower class,” not in the grand scheme of things. They aren’t poor like the man in Ethiopia who throws out middle class morality to steal food for his family. By an overwhelming degree, the American poor abide middle class morality, though they have no qualms about stealing from the state. Seeing as the state is stealing from everyone, I don’t think it’s fair to condemn them for that one. Besides which, without the state and taxation, they wouldn’t be able to game the system to get “back” finger-quotes-wink-wink ten thousand dollars anyway.
Our “lower class” has electricity, clean water, running water, indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioning, vehicles, iPhones, laptops, steroes, flatscreen TVs, cable/satellite, Internet connections… Our lower class is so high on the totem pole that they’d be considered upper middle class in most parts of the world. This is actually part of the problem, since our lower class, our “poor” have totally lost all perspective on how luxurious their lives are.
To clarify the phrasing, the goal is not to kill off the lower class, not by any means. That’s horrible. No, the goal is to lift up the lower class and bring them into the middle class. Yes, this creates a new middle class, because humans naturally form hierarchies, but none of that matters. The point is that the applicability of middle class morality must be extended to the lower class and, if it is, then it is also true that they are not generally facing the threat of starvation, which is the escape clause that gives them an out from middle class morality in the first place.
Secondly, the upper class must be made to abide middle class morality. Currently, they don’t. I couldn’t even begin to guess how much shit the upper class gets away with in the United States. I’m positive that a solid portion of them engage in child sex tourism and pedophile rings. I’m not referring to the Podesta leaks, but a lifetime of hearing whispers and accusations directed at the upper class. It all may be false, but, in most cases, where there is that much smoke there is usually a fire.
But beyond that, does the upper class get away with theft? Holy crap, absolutely. Not only do they take part in the state and steal from us directly while calling it taxation, but they also use the mechanism of the state to create things like intellectual property and eminent domain, utterly gutting our property rights in the process.
Does the upper class get away with murder? Again, holy crap, yes. The death toll of the 20th century was 160,000,000 from war alone as upper classes in various parts of the world put the lower class to use killing lower class members who were fighting for other upper class groups. They call it “war,” but it is murder.
It’s indisputable that the upper class doesn’t just reject middle class morality; they do so brazenly and openly, in full view of everyone else, and they get away with it by using carefully constructed euphemisms, deceit, and manipulation. There are countless people who will insist that taxes aren’t theft. Except… they are, by any definition of theft. And sending a group of armed people to go kill another group of armed people is unequivocally murder. We cannot allow euphemisms and a refusal to face the truth obscure these basic facts.
So yes, it is true that we are animals who need to be strong in order to survive, and that our species as a whole must embrace strength and shun weakness. This does not mean a lack of compassion, though, as I’ve explained elsewhere. See, we have mistaken “compassion” as being hardly anything more than getting down in the floor with someone and crying with them. That is fake sympathy; it is empty sympathy.
If you are a herd of gazelle [humans] and are trying to get away from lions [the universe that kills the weak], and you have a loved one who is injured [weak, for whatever reason], then you are doing no one but the lions a favor by laying down with your weak gazelle friend and crying with them. This is empty sympathy. This is virtue signaling. This is nihilistic.
True sympathy leads one to help the other gazelle get up, heal their injuries, become strong themselves, and flee the lion.
We absolutely must have compassion and must be guided to help the weak–it is why we have our middle class morality. It is as close as we can get to “objective morality,” after all. However, if our gazelle friend refuses to get up, if they instead embrace their injury and their victimization, refuse to try to heal, and refuse to try to escape the lion, then we must cut our losses and flee before the lion gets us, too. There is a line between sympathy and nihilism.
Based on observable cause and effect–since it is impossible to speculate too much into our hypothetical alternate realities, and since we lack omniscience and can never know exactly how anything would really have played out if we had acted differently–we know that leaving the gazelle to be eaten by the lion would be bad, and our application of empathy derived from our own personal preferences compels us to help the gazelle. We know with reasonable certainty that the lion would eat the gazelle, and that, if we did not help, we would bear a portion of the blame in that.
We should all be strong; we should all be middle class, with no one enshrined above [through the state] or below [through poverty] anyone else. Now, what is the mechanism that allows that to happen? What mechanism eliminates the state that allows the upper class to escape culpability for their moral violations? Anarchism. What mechanism has provably lifted up virtually the entire population into middle class territory, where the fear of starvation is exceedingly remote? Capitalism.
So how do we create this world of people abiding the NAP, of all people being strong and none being weak?
* Thanks to the overwhelming number of angst-ridden ultra-emo millennials who think nihilism means “life sucks and death is cool,” I’ve been left with no choice but to change the label, but that’s fine; Nietzsche wouldn’t have approved of “nihilism” as the label anyway. Of course, these people have never read a word of Nietzsche and don’t fully understand the philosophy, because:
and they get lost on that second part: nothing matters. They don’t fully apply it, though, or they would realize that it doesn’t matter that nothing matters. That is completely and utterly meaningless.
** Anything they outlaw is something they have no business outlawing.
I’m a transgender resident of #Mississippi. When I first accepted this and told a few people–only a year ago–I was told that it would make me a reject. They were right, of course. I didn’t have to be told that; my family represents the worst of fundamentalists, with actual compounds for when the antichrist takes over. So I know Mississippi well.
Aside from a small percentage of people, everyone would reject and dislike me. I would certainly be fired, and wouldn’t be able to find work. Both the message and the reality were clear: if I am who I am, then it will make my life almost unbearably difficult. Best to put it aside, bury it back in the closet, and wear the mask that the masses of people would accept.
The Libertarian Party has been facing an identical crisis. The masses won’t accept “true” libertarianism. Best to shove it back in the closet and wear the mask that the masses will accept.
So the party compromised. “We’re ashamed of what we have in the closet–please don’t look!” they’ve begged for months, going from disdainfully calling us purists to radicals to extremists to enemies.
It’s lethal to live a lie. Transgender people kill themselves everyday because of it. I would ask the #Libertarian Party to stop living a lie. Be the freak that it is. Stop shoving its identity into the closet out of some misguided need to have the masses’ approval. Yeah, it made my life difficult–more difficult than most people can guess, especially since I’m an #anarchist and would never use legal channels to violate their rights to refuse me service and employment (even if Mississippi had them, which it doesn’t).
It’s remarkable how liberating it is to stop compromising with people you *shouldn’t* be compromising with. It’s absolutely liberating to tell people, “You will deal with me on my terms, as who I am, or you will not deal with me at all.”
People are sick of compromise. People are sick of politics, of “business as usual.” We have the two most despised people in America as the two major party candidates, and a ticket that is not even polling 5% against them. Maybe it’s time we asked ourselves if the compromise that everyone hates is the *reason* we’re not beating these grotesque abominations of bad ideas and worse policies.
Stop hiding who you are. Say it loud, and say it proud. “We are #libertarians, and we don’t give a damn what you think. You will accept our party on its terms, or you will get out.”
It’s not about winning elections. It’s not about mass appeal. It can’t be. If all you want is to win elections, then take your ass to the #GOP or the #Democrats. Stand up for yourself and stand up for who you are. We need that more than ever. The last thing we need is to compromise the principles of liberty.
But Muh 5%!
This is something I’ve been hearing a lot. “But if we just reach 5%, then it will all be worth it!”
It was initially for “muh federal funding,” but we “purists” dropped the hammer on that real fucking quick. Taxation is theft means exactly that. It doesn’t mean “taxation is theft until we’re getting the money.” No, it’s still theft. If the Libertarian Party qualified for funding through stolen tax dollars, then it absolutely must reject that money. Even the Democrats and Republicans don’t accept that money; we’d be the only party who accepted it, and we’re the only party with a strong, principled reason why we shouldn’t.
That there is any “libertarian” out there arguing that we need federal funding tells us exactly how very, very far from principle Johnson and Weld have taken us. It is time to put the “libertarian” back into the Libertarian Party.
The reason they’ve since adopted–once they realized what a bad idea it was to even suggest we’d accept stolen money–is that it makes ballot access easier. So? It’s not like we really have a hard time getting on the ballot in all 50 states. We’ve done it several times; this is not the first time that we’ve done it, and neither are we the only party who has achieved it. There is no political party with more grassroots activism than the Libertarian Party. If we need to go out and get 5,000 signatures, then, by god, we go out and get 5,000 signatures.
But Muh Pragmatism!
Forgive me if you’ve heard me use this analogy before.
The Libertarian Party is like a fat woman who has her eyes on a pair of jeans that are way, way too small for her to wear. To remedy the situation, she takes up a razor blade and starts cutting huge chunks of flesh, fat, and muscle from her legs, hips, and ass, hellbent on fitting in those jeans that she can’t fit in. We are reaching for her wrist and telling her, “Baby! Stop it! You looked great! You don’t need to fit in those pants to be sexy!”
“Those pants will make me so much sexier!” she insists, shakes her hands free, and continues cleaving her flesh. Then, finally, as she stands among a pile of severed skin, tissue, and blood, she tries once more to fit on the jeans. To her horror, she finds that they still don’t fit. Frustrated, she begins sawing away at her bones. She is hellbent on fitting in those jeans, because wearing those jeans will make her sexy, and that’s all that matters.
If I was even remotely skilled with graphical stuff, I would make a cartoon of a very fat woman cutting off slices of her skin. She would wear a shirt that said “Libertarian Party,” and her legs would be drawn on with a Sharpie, separating her legs into numerous sections. “End the Drug war” would be written on one section. “Stop spying” would be written on another. Then, all around her on the ground would be strips of flesh that she’d already cut off, with one of them reading “Second Amendment” and another reading “religious liberty.” Beside her would be a pair of pants that were clearly way too small for her, and written on the pants would be the words “mainstream acceptance.”
The people who laid the groundwork for libertarianism absolutely hated pragmatism–his pragmatism was the primary reason that Hayek and Mises despised Keynes. They didn’t dislike Keynes because of his ideas; they were clear about that. They disliked him because he was pragmatic. He didn’t stand by his ideas; he chose whatever was most practical to achieving his own ends. That was what they disliked.
Today we have a political party founded on their words–for all intents and purposes–that is actively, consciously, and even gleefully choosing pragmatism over principle. I’ve written too much about this folly to go into it again. I’ve done videos on the subject, podcasts on the subject, and articles on the subject. It’s been thoroughly exhausted as far as I am able, and no one cares, because “But muh 5%.”
But Muh Dallas Accord
I’m sick of having people throw the Dallas Accord in my face. The Dallas Accord was an agreement between the libertarians and the anarcho-capitalists–such as myself, though I was one with oblivion then–that the official party platform would not mention whether or not a state was necessary or ideal. It was, in effect, an agreement that anarcho-capitalists would be welcome within the party as long as AnCaps didn’t make it an anarchist party, and an agreement that libertarians would be welcome within the party as long as they didn’t make it a statist party.
The Dallas Accord was meant to give middleground and forge a compromise between libertarians and anarchists that both sides could be happy with. The agreement was that anarcho-capitalists would at minimum support a libertarian candidate because, as I and countless others have said, if nothing else libertarianism is a probably necessary next-step on the road to anarchism. I would be 99% happy with a libertarian state, and would throw everything I have into supporting that state and seeing its existence come to fruition. No, it’s not anarchism. That’s where the Dallas Accord comes in; it was the agreement that the anarchists would be content with libertarianism until it was even possible to step from libertarianism to anarchism.
We’re a long, long way from the Dallas Accord with statists like Gary Johnson.
It was the Libertarians who did not hold up their end of the accord. They were supposed to hold up their end of the agreement by working toward libertarianism and proposing libertarian candidates, since libertarianism is something that we ancaps will at least tolerate. At absolute minimum, the Libertarians need to nominate people like Darryl Perry or John McAfee if they want to hold up their end of the agreement.
The Dallas Accord was not a blank check for the Libertarians to nominate whoever the hell they want with no dissent from the anarchists. It was the agreement that the question of the state’s necessity would not be addressed yet.
That’s correct, modern Libertarians. We were once considered so vital to the party, and so included within its ranks, that Libertarians forged the Dallas Accord with us.
Now we’re purists.
So you tell me who violated the Dallas Accord.
Anarcho-capitalists are a vital part of the Libertarian Party, and we have been since its inception. The Dallas Accord was our agreement that we would not try to warp and twist it into the Anarcho-Capitalist Party. And we haven’t. I didn’t even know about the Accord until a few weeks ago, but I’ve been adamant in my refusal to twist the LP into the AnCap Party. I would not support or endorse a candidate who somehow ran as an AnCap–even though he is an AnCap, it’s worth pointing out that Darryl Perry is not running as an Ancap; he’s running as a libertarian. I wouldn’t expect most Libertarians to understand that.
You were supposed to nominate libertarians. We’ve been asking you to nominate libertarians. We’ve been speaking up for and advocating libertarians. John McAfee is right there. Right there.
But Muh Conformity!
The national chair released a video today talking about how ridiculous we are to ask for a recall of Weld, how “we knew what we were getting,” and how his job is to unite behind the candidates. If we don’t like it, he said, then we needed to nominate a different chair in 2018.
2015 and 2016 were awful years for me. Getting to the LNC this year simply wasn’t feasible. I had just come out as transgender and was not in any sense ready to do anything that public, and I was broke anyway. This will not be true in 2018. My reach here at Anarchist Shemale is growing every single day. My financial situation is better every single day. I’m more passable every single day. I’ll be moving to Vegas soon, where I will be able to easily get employment, and that’s assuming the agents who are reading Dancing in Hellfire right now don’t help me become successful, and assuming none of the other things I’m writing will be successful. I’ve got lots of opportunities, and the last year of hard work and investment will have paid off before 2018. So you can bet your ass I’ll be there.
And, Sarwark, I will do everything that I can to have you replaced.
What will my influence be like in 2018? I don’t know. I know that I’m on the first page of Google results for a number of liberty-oriented search strings. Between 7 and 15 people find my site every day simply through Google. Not including Yahoo, Bing, the Rational Review News Digest, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Just imagine how much traffic my work must be getting for any search string containing the word “shemale” to not contain any porn at all. When I first took up the moniker, “anarchist shemale” resulted in porn. Now there isn’t porn anywhere in sight. Once more–the word “shemale” can be searched on Google in some context and not result in pornography. Can you guess what it took to achieve that? People are finding something with the word “shemale” in it through Google and it’s not taking them to porn.
I don’t know how influential I’ll become if I continue what I’m doing, but I know my goals and my hopes. I also know that the Libertarian Party completely and utterly ignored my request to become an affiliate for my county. Despite routinely posting on Facebook about how they want people to become affiliates, they have totally ignored my email and my application form, none of which mentioned “The Anarchist Shemale.” I could understand why they wouldn’t want affiliation with me if I was pushing Anarchist Shemale as an official libertarian work, but I’m not, haven’t, and am not going to, regardless of how officially tied with the party I become. But what I do in my personal life and what I call myself is also not the Libertarian Party’s business.
Besides which–you want to get people’s attention or not? Send the Anarchist Shemale out there proudly and then just wait on the flood of liberals bitching that I dare call myself a word that they don’t like, and then celebrate as I rip apart their reasoning, because I have damned good reasons for it and the simple fact is that what I call myself has no bearing on anyone but me.
But, once more, indications are that the Libertarian Party is afraid of stepping out of the mainstream, of doing anything weird, of generating any controversy, of ruffling any feathers. So fixated on “Oh, my goodness, but what will the masses think?” that they probably wouldn’t formally associate with anyone called the Anarchist Shemale, even though libertarians are exactly the people who you’d expect to not give a damn what I call myself. And they don’t. But neither are they willing to take a stand on that, either.
Liberty.me, the RRND, and some others have absolutely no qualms about calling me the Anarchist Shemale. Officials within the Libertarian Party, though–I can only imagine their discomfort, like a white person who is hesitant to quote an episode of The Boondocks, “And then they defined the… uh… the… the… ‘N-word’ moment… as the moment when two… uh… when two… African American men… are… uh…” I can only imagine poor Mr. Sarwark trying to reference me. “As for what the Anarchist sh… The… uh… Hm. As for the Anarchist… Uh… Aria… DiMezzio? Dimeggio?”
Grow a spine, cowards.
Now, that’s supposition. They haven’t replied to my email, but I can think of only two reasons that they would not accept me as an affiliate for my county, when my county does not have one. The first is irrelevant. I’m not a dues-paying member, but have no issue with becoming one. As I said, I only recently learned of the Dallas Accord and didn’t think the Libertarian Party would be welcoming enough of a dyed-in-the-wool anarcho-capitalist. Officially, the party is. I made it clear that I have no hesitation regarding purchasing membership–when I can afford it–if that’s necessary. Considering that I do work actively to spread the cause of liberty, though, I’m not entirely sure formal membership would be required. And even then, they’d list me as my male name since this is Mississippi but let’s not get into that. It’s not why, anyway.
No, the reason is that I’m closely tied to the Anarchist Shemale. If you google “Aria DiMezzo,” then you will find–in addition to links to the masterpiece song from which I derived my name both because of its beauty and its translated meaning–the Anarchist Shemale right there, #Godless and #Lawless. I imagine that, before any political party formally associates themselves with someone, they at least do a Google search.
At any rate, I am disappointed. It has been at least a week now since I applied, and I know the Libertarian Party of Mississippi with all four of its members aren’t that busy. Moreoever, I know that I can coax at least six or seven friends into formally joining the party, too, since they’re all anarchists and libertarians themselves. If I was the affiliate for the party, they would do so, because the party would immediately become something that they personally knew of and understood, not some distant monolith. It would become more personal for them; it would mean more.
I said on Facebook last night:
There are two kinds of people with whom I’ve never hesitated to inform that I’m transgender:
Me: “I’m a shemale.”
Republican: “Ah! FIEND! Malificarum! Simm sallabim!”
Democrat: “Ah! Satan!”
Libertarian: “Is this relevant to the discussion?”
Gamers (to everyone): “Shut up, faggot. You’re gonna get us killed.”
I fully appreciate that I do have to stop dropping the word “faggot” and so much profanity in my articles. I am working on that. By the same token, though, the Libertarian Party is the last group of people who I would expect to care. I do have two distinct styles–one that is official and formal, and one that is loose and sometimes profane. I am more than capable of writing formally; just check my reviews and editorials at Cubed3, or buy V2: The Voluntary Voice. So that’s something I need to address if I want official ties with the party, but, once again, it was not The Anarchist Shemale that was seeking party affiliation.
It is Aria DiMezzo.
Their silence dishonors them.
The cowardice on display in so many ways dishonors them.
Be proud of who you are, libertarians. Don’t apologize for it. Get out of the closet. You’re libertarians.
The yellow you’ve chosen for your party color has become more appropriate than you think. So tell me, Sarwark and Libertarians, are you yellow? Because it looks to me like you are, and not because I haven’t heard anything about affiliation; that isn’t a big enough deal for me to think that. That’s just one more example of what I’m perceiving as Libertarian cowardice and fear of rejection.
Putting aside legalese shenanigans to play a game I like to call “Not Being a Stupid Twat,” we have to ask ourselves a few very important questions: What is Intellectual Property? What does it do? What roles does it serve? Is it necessary?
The shortest answer would be that it is a ploy by buyers to maintain ownership of property after having sold it, it serves no role beyond that, and it is completely unnecessary. This is actually a point that I’m making in the upcoming work What Steam Greenlight Teaches Us About Anarchy, which my Quora profile mistakenly cites me as the author of–while I am the author, “it” doesn’t quite exist yet. I got pulled onto other projects and the anarchist book featuring Steam Greenlight got pushed to the backburner.
For those unaware, Steam is a video game distribution platform for PC. For the most part, it is phenomenal–it serves a role that has been needed for a very long time. It’s so ubiquitous that you’re not likely to find a game that wasn’t made by EA that doesn’t run in tandem with Steam’s service. It allows multiplayer, achievements, chat, friend systems, refunds, and it is a storefront for buying games–on top of that, there are weekly sales that, for a while, will have you very excited. Then you’ll realize that this storefront is primarily filled with games that are uninteresting and uninspired, so it hardly matters if Ton-Ton’s Great Adventure goes on sale at 90% off from $1 to ten cents.
Additionally, Steam is a platform for first-time developers to get their games onto the Steam store–yes, this created the previous problem that I mentioned, the abundance of mediocre games. A development studio or individual pays a flat fee of $100 and then can upload their game’s screenshots and videos for people to vote on. If people like it, it will be “greenlit” and ultimately accepted onto the store. If people don’t, then… Well, Jim Sterling has a great series called “The Best of Steam Greenlight” that is worth watching. Please note that the title of the show is sarcastic. You want his newer series Greenlight Good Stuff if you want to see games that are actually good.
The system has almost no oversight from Valve, and a number of interesting things have resulted. Unless there is a blatant violation of Intellectual Property–like if someone uploads World of Warcraft as their game–then Valve is not going to bother with it. Even this is unnecessary, though, because masses of people who browse Steam Greenlight hate one thing more than they hate anything else…
People uploading someone else’s work.
Hardly a week goes by that some dumbass doesn’t upload Minecraft or some other notable indie game that isn’t on the Steam store. In some cases, they just completely misunderstand how the system works, but we have to marvel that someone would be willing to spend $100 to learn a lesson in how we handle property in the digital world. In other cases, they’re just stupid and genuinely think that they can get away with it, that they can slide Minecraft in under the radar and no one will notice, and then millions of people will buy it and they’ll laugh all the way to the bank.
However, it’s not really of significance why these people do it. Our focus lies in the reaction that people have to it, because it substantiates a long-held libertarian idea that intellectual property is not necessary for a number of reasons. First, if I have written a book and someone has bought a copy, and then made a bunch of photocopies of it and started selling them, then the overwhelming majority of people would reject the person’s photocopies, and would instead buy the book directly from me, even if that meant a substantial increase in price. Steam Greenlight is real world evidence that this is, indeed, the case.
Someone else really attempted to upload World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King–yes, really… Someone really, honestly did that–and a private server that they were attempting to build. They estimated that classes and abilities were “about 1% working.” Let’s keep in mind that this is not a thing like www.itch.io or Newgrounds, where startup developers post their games for people to check out for free. This was someone’s actual attempt to sell their product–a 1%-working Wrath of the Lich King.
Needless to say, the people who regularly frequent Greenlight were not amused and did not approve. Why would anyone pay for a shoddy, inferior experience where only 1% of abilities even worked–considering that none of the classes in the game even has that many abilities, we can infer that this means that 0% of the abilities actually worked, but a few kinda-sorta-did–when they could instead pay a reasonable fee to Blizzard?
Indeed, we can look back to Blizzard and the Nostalrius Server incident for yet more examples of our favorite two things overlapping: video games and free market concepts. For a very long time, Blizzard–the makers of World of Warcraft–have abjectly refused to run “classic” servers from previous expansions, saying that after the nostalgic thrill wore off, players would lose interest and it would prove to be nothing more than a waste of money. All evidence is to the contrary, though, and I confess that I would gladly return to WoW to play WOTLK once more. I didn’t buy Warlords of Draenor until it was on its last patch, leveled to 100, got a few pieces of arena PvP gear, and promptly lost interest; I haven’t bought Legions and am not going to. I am as finished with World of Warcraft as I have ever been finished with anything.
So some people got together and released a free server of classic, original World of Warcraft. I’m not going to go into the full story–because you probably have heard it–but when Blizzard dropped the hammer on the server, the reaction of players was enough that I have chills on my arms just thinking about it. Thousands upon thousands of players logged in and went on a slow, quiet death march, touring the server one last time in a gigantic group–an actual community, not the instanced bullshit the game has since become–and saying “Goodbye.” Blizzard still has not implemented any servers dedicated to previous expansions, but they will use the full might of the law to prevent anyone else from doing it.
The problem here is the same one that plagues Steam Greenlight: intellectual property laws. A distaste for stealing is not the problem. We should react vehemently when some jerkwad tries to claim Minecraft as his game and sell it. There is everything wrong with that, and we should tell that person to fuck off. We should not however, go get the Big Bad Policeman to put a gun to the guy’s head and make him fuck off. Of their own accord, people reject plagiarism–it is of no surprise that being caught plagiarizing will sink a person’s academic career.
However, all of this is not the only thing Steam teaches us about anarchy. In addition to showing us exactly how anarchy functions without a supreme overlord making all the ultimate decisions, Steam also shows us that the masses of people simply are not ready for that.
One of the most common threads among Jim Sterling’s videos–and his fans–is that Valve, the people who own Steam, needs to step in and implement some kind of quality control, to stop the sludge and trash from getting through. Let’s return to a previous trait of Greenlight, though–a game can only get through if people vote for it.
Thankfully, Valve has thus far refused to step in. To my mind, they have implemented quality control, by allowing consumers to choose what is and isn’t worthy of going through. However, this has not stopped countless people demanding that Valve step in to keep games like Little Girl Simulator from being greenlit. It’s a literal example of “I don’t approve of this, so I want an authority figure to step in and make it go away, even though other people clearly approve of it.” It’s worth pointing out that Little Girl Simulator is just a stupid game where you play as a little girl running around a boring environment–there’s nothing sexual about it.
When you point out to these people what they are saying, they reject it. “I’m not saying it should be removed because I don’t like it! I’m saying it could be removed because it’s low quality crap!”
This is obviously circular.
Pointing out to them that clearly, someone likes it and approves of it–by definition–has no effect, either, and just makes them bring up another argument. “But now it’s going to appear on the store page, where unsuspecting consumers will see it and think it’s a good quality game!”
Perhaps, but this is why we have user reviews on the Steam page itself. I suspect most people would not buy a $5 game they’ve never heard of, if it has Mixed reviews–or Negative reviews. Anything short of “Mostly Positive” will likely cause them to reject it. And if we’re talking about a $60 game, then any idiot who drops $60 on a game they know nothing about, have never heard of, and that just randomly appeared on the store page is probably consciously aware that they’re rolling the dice and may lose. It’s no one’s job to protect the gambler from losing.
“But you can’t expect an ordinary consumer to be that diligent! They shouldn’t have to be that diligent about what they buy!”
Well, they don’t have to be that diligent, do they? Because people like you will gladly police the Greenlight page and keep truly inferior products like Kill the Fag from making it through to the store. So they don’t really have to worry about that, do they? Because there are plenty of people out there who gladly take up the role of watchdog.
Would anyone buy a brand new car without doing any research into it? Would anyone drop $27,000 on a brand new car without even looking on Google to see if the car had any reported problems? Of course not. No one in their right mind would drop that kind of money on a product without looking into it at all, except someone who had some sort of agreement/warranty with the dealer that left them on solid ground anyway. But if someone is spending just $27, suddenly their innate desire to not piss away their money evaporates?
So what we’re really discussing here is at what threshold, according to some people, a person should be able to pay out a certain amount of money with there being no risk involved. This is, obviously, a stupid point and a red herring; risk is always involved, whether you pay $1 or $100. I’ve bought plenty of Hershey’s chocolate bars that turned out to be white, old, and inedible, basically throwing away 75 cents. Should I run screaming to an authority figure to protect me from the evil store that sold me a bad candy bar?
This is a serious question.
At least, it’s as serious as the question, “Should a gamer run screaming to Valve to be protected from wasting $3 on a shitty game?”
Furthermore, Valve has a refund process built right into Steam. You can get a refund for any damned reason you want, as long as you have had the game for less than 2 weeks and have played it for less than 2 hours. If a person buys a $3 game on Steam that turns out to be total shit, then they’re likely to figure that out with plenty of time to get it refunded.
Consumers on Steam are protected, double-protected, and triple-protected. There are the watchdogs who downvote inferior quality games. There are Steam user reviews. There is a refund process that could be more lenient with the “time played” but is otherwise fairly reasonable. Even then, if you have good enough reasons, Valve has given people refunds after playing for more than fifty hours.
18 months-ish ago, I bought Tomb Raider 2013 for $20 on Steam. I enjoyed the game. Three days later, I had 7 hours played, and Square-Enix released the Tomb Raider bundle on Steam. You could get Tomb Raider 2013, all its DLC, and literally every other Tomb Raider game ever made, plus all the DLC for the ones that had it, for $20. You read that correctly. The game that I paid $20 for–which included none of the DLC–was included in the bundle with all of the DLC, and with ten other games, for exactly the same price.
I was livid.
Because there’s no warning when a publisher is about to release a bundle or a huge sale. Games go on sale for 50% off, 75% off, 90% off all the time, and there’s no way to know when it will and won’t happen. I bought Batman: Arkham City for $20, and a week later it was on sale for 75% off, at $5. It happens with new releases, too–it’s not just older games. The Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remasters released on Steam at $30 and immediately came with 20% off, knocking the price down to $24.
Though I’ve lost a lot of money already with games going on sale or being included in bundles randomly without any warning, this Tomb Raider one was too much. If I’d simply waited three days, I could have gotten eleven games and 24 pieces of DLC for the same price that I paid for one of those games, but I had no idea that it was a good idea to wait a few days. I contacted Valve and filled them in. I contacted Square-Enix, pointing out, “Just FYI–I am a reviewer of an aggregated site, and I do, in fact, review lots of Square-Enix games.”
Valve refunded the purchase, even though I’d played for 7 hours and wasn’t eligible for a refund. The money was added to my account, and I purchased the bundle instead. I am not the only person with a story like this, and Valve is always extremely reasonable. In fact, there probably isn’t a company in the world as anarchistic and pro-consumer as Valve. Square-Enix told me to fuck off, for all intents and purposes. Nordic Games, when I contacted them about Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition not even working when I was seriously trying to review it, never even replied to me. That is what I expect from corporations.
What’s the difference with Valve? Why is Valve so pro-gamer, when so many other companies are antagonistic of their consumers?
Well… gamers constantly hold Valve’s feet to the flames.
Those irritating watchdogs who want to overstep their bounds and have the state step in to force their standards onto everyone else–even though people clearly disagree with them in numbers great enough to be consequential–are also the reason that Valve doesn’t “pull an EA.” It’s fine, of course–as I’ve written before, watchdogs are good. We need them. There’s nothing “not very libertarian” about being a watchdog of an industry, a corporation, or a product. So watch on, watchdogs.
Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that choosing to be a watchdog gives your preferences any more weight than anyone else’s.
One of the more insidious aspects of Steam is that it is wholesale guilty of the initial problem. It does not sell games to players. It leases them, per license agreements, EULAs, and TOUs. You do not own any of the games in your Steam Library. You are leased them by Valve, dependent on whether or not you abide the rules they lay out. You have been turned into a glorified renter, and Valve maintains ownership of the games in your library “because Intellectual Property.” This, too, is something being discussed in the anarchist work, because we’re going to wake up in a few more decades to find that we don’t own anything, that everything is leased to us, dependent upon whether we obey the sellers’ rules.
I don’t talk about it much, but I have more than a passing interest in Tool-Assisted Speedruns and, though I’m not particularly active in the community, I’m a member at tasvideos.org and once was working on a TAS for Gun-Nac. I ultimately abandoned it, because it’s an auto-scroller where I could only aim for Highest Points, a goal that was not much higher than just “Get weapon upgrades, Hold A, don’t die.”
Recently, I wrote that we have examples of anarchy all around us–that is, we have examples of people solving complex problems without relying on force, violence, and coercion all around us. I gave then the example of IEEE, a completely independent, non-governmental body that prescribes guidelines for communication technology. IEEE is the reason that you can connect your any-brand phone to any-brand Wi-Fi that itself is connected to any-brand gateway and access the Internet–a phenomenal achievement by anyone’s standards.
Now, put aside your reaction of laughter, that people are discussing something of such insignificance with such gravitas, because people are interested in things that you’re not interested in. If you spend any time at TASVideos, you’ll learn that people take it very, very seriously–and that’s okay. That’s great, in fact. It’s no more silly that they take it seriously than that Bubba has a New York Giants football jersey and won’t miss a single game. Other people laugh that I take politics and anarchism so seriously.
But even taking it seriously, the people at TASVideos aren’t frothing at the mouth and launching into irate tirades. This does happen, but it’s almost always new members doing it. It’s why one of my favorite places on the site is the Gruefood Forum section. It’s surprisingly common. Someone will discover a TAS on Youtube–presumably–and think “I can do that!” and proceed to make one. Without any further anything, they submit it to the site. This never goes over well, because by the eighty-ninth time you see someone publish a Super Mario Bros. run that is seven hours slower than the published run, you begin to lose patience with these people who can’t bother to find out what the site even is. TASVideos, of course, is a repository of the best TAS Videos, not a place for someone to showcase how good they are at TASing, or whether or not they can TAS. Youtube is the home of the latter.
Anyway, it’s a remarkable thing. The site has rules–lots and lots of them–and plenty of structure. There are categories upon categories, and some of the best reading material are the 14 page discussions where they decide whether or not they are going to allow the creation of a new category. It’s truly fascinating stuff. Often, they extensively discuss whether something meets the guidelines for Moon Tier, the Vault, or wherever else.
I know what you’re thinking, though. “That system of administrators who ultimately act out the forum’s wishes–that’s the state and its representatives.” You’d be right that those people are, strictly speaking, representatives. However, they don’t function as representatives do, because what we have at TASVideos is more analogous to direct democracy than representative democracy. As far as I’ve seen, the site administrators and moderators, while their opinions do go a long way, don’t make unilateral decisions on behalf of the people they “represent” and instead basically are figureheads that enact the results of various votes.
How has TASVideos kept off a slew of bullshit, unentertaining videos? By policing itself to remarkable effect, just as IEEE and the tech world does. There is no one going through the forums with a billy club threatening to kidnap people and throw them in prison if they don’t comply. If you don’t want to abide their guidelines and standards, they will shun you from the community. Seeing as the Amish typically shun people, no one can expect to be taken seriously that shunning someone is an act of aggression. So we have an example in the Digital World and we have an example in the real world, of small communities rising and developing their own codes and guidelines, and using those rules in the absence of a state, to maintain order, productivity, and cooperation.
We laugh–I’m sure you’re laughing–that anything that happens at TASVideos could possibly serve as an example of why we can abolish the United States Government–and all world states. I encountered that recently when I pointed out to Tyler Preston that Maghribi traders of the 11th century organized international trade without the benefit of the postal service, telephones, telegraphs, and the Internet; they needed a way to ensure that their employees at a distant port were truly working in their best interest, and they came up with one. It worked beautifully. Tyler said, “Meh. 11th century Maghribi traders? Big whoop. But the diamond traders you mentioned… That’s serious business.”
Indeed, it’s serious business either way. I thought we’d established that earlier. The NFL doesn’t go around with billy clubs and guns to kidnap its players and force them to comply–it censures them and shuns them when necessary. Tyler seemed to interpret “Maghribi” to refer to some type of good that was valuable in the 11th century. However, “Maghribi” refers to a type of merchant–the Maghreb–and not the good that was being traded. It was, basically, a nationality. They may have been trading anything from life-saving salt to gold to the diamonds that are, as Tyler admits, “serious business.”
At TASVideos, we see a community extensively discussing precedents. They’ve even brought up different precedents. One person pointed out how the Japanese rom of Dragon’s Lair obsoleted the American version of Dragon’s Lair because it was 20% faster. Another person countered that Super Metroid set the example otherwise. I stopped reading at that point, to write this, but I guarantee you that the conversation continued as they determined which precedent was more appropriate and finally came to a decision.
Anarchists sometimes disagree about what anarchy is. I don’t really care. Atheists disagree about what atheism is. There’s only one definition that is true of every single atheist out there, though: an atheist is someone who does not believe that there are gods or a god. Some will tell you that an atheist believes that there is no god, and others will tell you that an atheist merely rejects the theist gods and doesn’t address the deist one. It’s irrelevant. Our task is to find a definition that applies to all of these different people, and only then can we know what “an atheist” really is. The only universally applicable definition is the one that I gave: an atheist is someone who lacks the belief that there are gods or a god.
Similarly, anarchists have this problem. Some say that it means there is no hierarchy. Some say it means there is no government. Some say that it means there are no rulers. Once more, our task here is to find the definition that applies to all anarchists, not just one subset of anarchists. When we do this, we find that anarchy must be defined as the condition where there is no state. If there is no state, then there is no one using force, violence, and coercion to achieve their goals. It’s readily apparent, then, that any time people solve problems without the use of aggression, they are showcasing an example of anarchy.
And TASVideos gives us yet another look into how, exactly, this functions.
It is interesting to me that, unlike in the real world, we don’t see at any of these online communities people crying things like, “This is what I think, and anyone who disagrees is stupid and should have to go alone with what I want!” In fact, they would reject such an awful idea. They may or may not acquiesce to a vote through direct democracy, but there are usually good reasons for this, and they’re more than likely to err on the side of caution–this is true in any online community. And even then, the price is never anything that rings with the finality of force, violence, and coercion.
One day, some enterprising individual bought the domain name for TASVideos, and they soon put together a community. Through totally voluntary cooperation, they came together and they worked together. No one ever beat the hell out of anyone else, no one ever killed anyone else, and no one ever threw anyone else into prison. There were undoubtedly disagreements, especially in those early days, as powerful personalities each wanted to take the site different directions. But still, no one was ever beaten, robbed, or kidnapped.
Today we have a community that comprises untold members, and it functions well–very well. See the above linked image I took from a screenshot, where they are discussing honest-to-fuck legal precedents, for all intents and purposes. It’s a beautiful thing–just people… doing stuff. And working together, because they know–as we’ve so often observed–that their own best interests are served in the long-term by working with others, by not being asshats.
I didn’t join the community and start calling everyone fags, after all. That would have harmed my own best interests. Maybe–stretching things a bit–I could have called everyone a fag and gotten my Gun-Nac video published by doing so. I never finished that stupid game and never came close to optimizing it, but that’s not the point. Would it have helped me any? No. The day would have come that I needed someone’s help, and no one would have offered it. I would have shot myself in the foot.
I don’t know how many members there are TASVideos, though I’m sure that info is readily available. I’m also sure that it’s much smaller today than it was six years ago, because so many of the most popular games are nailed to what we might as well call perfection. This is basically the reason I stopped being active on the site–there just aren’t really any games left. There are games left, of course–supremely technical ones that would require a year of research before a rom is even booted. TASVideos, in fact, is so good at doing what it set out to do that it succeeded. The best are there, exactly as they intended, and the odds that anyone is going to top the best…
Don’t even bother.
HappyLee’s run of Super Mario Bros. will tell you everything you need to know. I would not dare to imagine how many TASes of SMB he has made, but he has obsoleted his own video several times, each time moving closer to frame perfect precision. The video up now is one of such astounding technical perfection that it may very well be impossible to beat it. This is true of every single game that you would want to do–the Mega Man games, the Zelda games… They’re all nailed to what might as well be called perfection.
Not only did their system work, it set out to do exactly what it did, and it achieved it to a degree that can just about be called perfection. Is it perfection? Probably not. Maybe one day someone will beat HappyLee’s run. They nailed perfection, though, as closely as IEEE nailed perfection with its 802.11 standards for Wi-Fi.
Compare to the bumbling service offered up by the United States Postal Service.