Tag Archive | socialism

Liberty Today, 8-28-17

Unmarked Police Cars

The Libertarian Party of Tate County (of which I am the Chair) voted by two-thirds majority Saturday evening to strongly condemn the usage of unmarked police cars in Tate County, because they’ve been appearing in great numbers in the last few weeks. Our reasoning for this is simple: they create dangerous situations. As recently as July, 2017, a woman was pulled over by an unmarked patrol car, and then was raped and brutalized. Of course, we soon learned that this person was not a law enforcement officer, and was actually just someone who purchased a Halloween costume and a blue light from, perhaps, Alibaba.

Let there be no doubt of this: if LEO did not occasionally use unmarked police vehicles, then any person who saw blue lights in their rearview mirror emanating from an unmarked police vehicle would immediately know that the person attempting to pull them over is an imposter. It is because of this ambiguity, that the person might be a cop, that people are reluctant to continue driving. Besides which, we have all seen countless videos of people who specifically called 911 to verify the person behind them was a LEO in an unmarked car, only to be brutalized by the officers once the car was verified as legitimate, and accused of “resisting arrest” and “attempting escape.”

The use of unmarked squad cars is the clearest possible evidence we could ever hope to receive that Law Enforcement Agencies do not care about “serving and protecting,” and that they are instead motivated by revenue from moving violations. The only benefit to using unmarked cars is to catch drivers acting more naturally–where they are more likely to speed, less likely to use turn signals, more likely to run red lights and stop signs, and so on. However bad we might think these behaviors are, we cannot deny that women are being raped because LEO would rather ticket more of these people who run red lights thinking there is no cop around than they would rather prevent rape.

To combat this, various agencies have released statements and guides, but these fall short–it is rather like telling someone to get a bucket for the blood being spilled when you stab them, instead of simply ceasing to stab them. It’s like handing a smoker a cough drop instead of suggesting that they quit smoking. Besides which, LEO are increasingly likely to discard all of these decades of advice about “waiting to pull over until you are in a clearly publicly visible place” and are likely to treat such people as “attempting to flee the scene.”

It’s an absolute disgrace that any agency that exists to “serve and protect” would create a situation where a woman driving alone at night would not be absolutely certain that the person attempting to pull her over is a Law Enforcement Officer, and terrified that, if she does not immediately pull over, she will be brutalized. In fact, there is a high chance that, even if the patrol car is with law enforcement, she will be raped anyway while police dig inside of her vagina for drugs. The situation between We the People and Law Enforcement in this nation has never been so strained and so precipitously on the edge of disaster, with outright war likely just around the corner, and it is solely up to Law Enforcement to regain community trust.

It is true that such behaviors have not spread to Tate County, and it is also true that Tate County was one of the first places in the nation to require that its officers wear body cams (for which Mississippi and Tate County received no credit, of course), but not ten miles to the north of us is DeSoto County, where the Southaven Police Department recently invaded a man’s home and executed him without a warrant and without any cause. This must be nipped in the bud now, before this has the chance to spread to Tate County. Again, we could lead the nation in officer accountability by having our Sheriff’s Department either sell their unmarked vehicles, or pay to have them repainted.

Toward this end, we are doing a few things. First, we are drafting a letter to the local paper to gauge public response. Secondly, we will be collecting petition signatures demanding the Sheriff’s Office immediately cease all usage of such vehicles, and immediately begin ticketing and arresting any persons attempting to enforce any and all traffic or moving violations in an unmarked police vehicle. Thirdly, we will be going before the city councils, aldermen, etc. to attempt to get legislation passed criminalizing any police work executed in unmarked vehicles, and requiring that any evidence obtained from the use of such vehicles be discarded and destroyed, just as is the case for evidence obtained by warrantless searches.

We are coming down as hard as we can on unmarked police vehicles, because we actually care about police accountability, and we demand that our Law Enforcement Officers take steps to actually make the community safer, not more dangerous.

Libertarian Socialists

Once upon a time, I wrote something to the effect of “libertarian socialism is nonsense.” I don’t remember how I phrased it. I made this statement based on my understanding of what “libertarian” means and my understanding of what “socialism” means. Having now discussed it with some libertarian socialists, I fully stand by my statement: as the words are most commonly used, “libertarian socialism” is an oxymoron.

In fact, reading the ideology makes two things clear. First, when they say “libertarian,” what they actually mean is “anarcho.” Secondly, when they say “socialism,” what they actually mean is “communism.” I discussed this with Matt Kuehnel, and he repeatedly stated that “libertarian socialism” isn’t a problem because “anarchism is the logical completion of libertarianism.” I don’t disagree, and I’ve said it myself, but the fact remains that “libertarian” does not equate to “anarchist.” There are minarchists, and there are classical liberals who do call themselves “libertarian.” I’ve argued extensively that the NAP, fully applied, yields anarchism, but that doesn’t give me the right to redefine “libertarian” to mean “anarchist,” which I’ve pointed out in the past by saying I wouldn’t support an anarchist who ran for the Libertarian Party as an anarchist.

He pointed out, rightly, that I call myself an “anarcho-capitalist,” even though I don’t mean “capitalist” in the sense that almost everyone else means it. That’s true. I’m also fully cognizant of that, and spend much of my time on Quora trying to show people that what we have in the United States is a more lenient form of socialism, not capitalism. It’s why I described the best argument “for” anarcho-capitalism as being “an explanation of what anarcho-capitalism is.” This is because most people think “anarchy” means “chaos,” and that “capitalism” is the mess of socialist government policies we have today. Because of this, they think anarcho-capitalism must mean some weird amalgam of these two things–rule by corporate elites, or something to that effect.

This is why many people who happen to share the same general ideology that I do instead call themselves “free market anarchists” or something like that–because the word “capitalism” is heavily tainted, was conceived disparagingly by Karl Marx in Das Kapital, and isn’t taken to mean “capitalism” as we of the Austrian persuasion mean it. It’s also part of the reason why, when push comes to shove, I call myself a Nietzschean Anarchist far more often than I do an “anarcho-capitalist.” People always ask me what I mean by “Nietzschen Anarchist,” while fewer people ask me what is meant by “anarcho-capitalist.”

Even the definitions that Marx and Engels used, though, cited “socialism” as a middleground between capitalism and communism. Marxism prescribes socialism as the eye of the storm through which society must pass to break free of the bourgeois and restore ownership and equality to the workers in a communist society–a communist society that is, in fact, anarchic in nature. Communism is anarchic; anarchy is not communistic (much to the dismay of Anarcho-Communists). Speaking as someone who is routinely a Most Viewed Writer in Anarchism and Anarcho-Capitalism on the closest thing we have to a market-based system of peer review, Socialism is when the state seizes all capital and uses it for the benefit of the workers, while Communism is when the workers seize the capital directly and eliminate the state as the middleman.

As I’ve pointed out before, Socialism and Communism both would be better called “Consumptionism,” because they restrict private ownership of all goods to only consumption goods, whereas Capitalism is called “Capitalism” because it allows the private ownership of all goods, including capital goods. There is, of course, a recognized and critical difference between a consumption good and a capital good. This reality is recognized by capitalists, communists, and socialists alike. After all, the toothpaste manufacturing facility, as a capital good, may be privately or communally owned, but no one on any side of this discussion would agree that a tube of toothpaste must be communally owned.

I’ve even gotten socialists to agree with my statement that fascism and socialism are identical. They rebuffed that the “difference” is the intent of the rulers, and that in socialism the rulers act in the best interests of the working class, but they ultimately were forced to admit that it is identical in behavior and appearance to fascism. In fact, they are two flavors of the same ice cream.

So I don’t take issue with Libertarian Socialists any longer. However, they’re anarcho-communists, which is exactly what their own ideology describes. They just don’t call themselves Anarcho-Communists. That’s fine–they can call themselves anything they want, and redefine things in whatever way they want. But they can’t blame other people for not knowing that they’re using their own special definitions, you know? I can’t (and don’t) blame people for not knowing what capitalism is when I describe myself as an anarcho-capitalist. In fact, probably a third of my answers on Quora briefly spend time pointing out that “capitalism,” as used by anarcho-capitalists, bears no relation to what most people think of as “capitalism.”

Rent is Theft?

This is popping up a lot lately, so Matt Kuehnel and I are going to debate “rent is theft” in September (the date is TBA). I’ve proposed that we do this one 2v2 standard team format, to shake things up a bit. I think that would be more fun, anyway. I’d forgotten how much I love formal debates. I mean, I was just in one three days ago, and I’m already itching to do another. It has been nearly a decade since I did one, so I was rusty, but I think it will be alright. This was also going to be last night’s segment of Libertarian Drama of the Week on “Call to Freedom” with Will Coley and Thom Gray (I’m kinda like a permanent guest at this point), but we had technical difficulties and had to call the show early.

And that’s what is presently going on.

Socialism & Fascism

In a recent article, Robert Higgs made the argument that socialism is pretty much dead, and that fascism is instead the dominant economic policy on the globe. As far as I’m aware, this is my first exposure to Higgs, and I must confess: I’m not impressed.

First, it should be readily observable to all people that fascism and socialism are related, in the same sense that an orchestra maestro entails mastery of the musical pieces; fascism is the conductor’s mastery, and socialism is mastery of the song. It’s possible to be a master of the song without being a master conductor, but it’s not possible to be a master conductor without being a master of the song.

In classic logic terms, all bloops are bleeps, but not all bleeps are bloops.

This is because socialism is an economic policy, while fascism is what we would call governmental policy. It’s true that “fascism” is a notoriously difficult idea to pin down, and a lot of people mistakenly attribute “nationalism” as one of its primary tenets, but that’s a misattribution, a result of people focusing more on words than with the essence represented by those words. State supremacy is the hallmark of fascism. Through most of human history, this would have manifested as nationalism and the notion that the nation is the greatest; in more modern times, it manifests primarily as globalism, and the notion that a global government would be the greatest. However, regardless at what level the fascist pledges their allegiance (whether to the nation or to the globe), the primary hallmark is the same: the state that is in charge is supreme.

Everything within the state. Nothing outside the state, nothing beyond the state.

— Benito Mussolini

Socialism is an idea that prescribes state ownership of capital. To explain this, we must clarify the difference between capital and a consumption good. A consumption good is one that does not increase in value, one that, under normal conditions, only decreases in value (i.e., is “used up”). A consumption good is something that is used and ultimately discarded, and is not an investment. Televisions, cell phones, food, clothing, gasoline, and other similar items are consumption goods. Socialism absolutely allows for individuals within the socialist society to own consumption goods. Even the most diehard socialist isn’t going to advocate a system where Bob, having run out of toothpaste, can enter your apartment and help himself to yours. In the socialist apparatus, consumption goods regularly pass into ownership by consumers, where they are consumed, and the state merely creates, assigns, and hands out these consumption goods.

Capital, on the other hand, is held entirely by the state. Houses, land, vehicles, manufacturing plants, and similar items are the property of the state, and the state uses this capital to create the consumption goods and dole them out to the citizens. The state owns the toothpaste manufacturing plant and provides one tube a month to each citizen, in other words, and once that toothpaste is handed over, it’s generally considered that citizen’s toothpaste. The state doesn’t really care what happens to consumption goods, because they are consumption goods–even if Bob hoards all of his toothpaste and attempts to sell it on the black market, it’s just not going to give him enough capital to seriously challenge the state. Besides which, it has an expiration date–the day is coming that the toothpaste will be without any value at all.

When we discuss “private property” under the ideas of capitalism, we are not saying that individuals have the right to own consumption goods–this right is a given, and even the most adamant socialist isn’t likely to challenge it. Instead, we are saying that individuals have the right to own capital. Individuals have the right to purchase items that will generate a return on the investment, that will produce wealth. Under capitalism, an individual can purchase the glass, copper, gold, plastic, and whatever else is necessary in order to produce phones, which are then sold as consumption goods to other individuals for money, thereby creating a return on the investment. This model is obviously successful, and obviously creates a net benefit to society as a whole: some people get the phone, and one person is rewarded for their investment with more money.

But it’s not my intention here to point out that capitalism is better.

In fact, the requirement that individuals be allowed to own capital is in the name: capitalism. We could easily call socialism consumptionism, in fact, because it restricts the individual’s ownership of property solely to consumption items–to the phones produced, to the toothpaste, to the gasoline, to the food, and never to the facilities, rigs, or farms where these things are produced. Instead, everything of real value that can have labor added to it in order to increase that value belongs to the state.

Five hundred acorns are of very little value to me, after all. However, by adding my labor to them (by planting them, nourishing them, and watering them), I can turn them into 500 trees of considerable value. This is the essence of capitalism: taking a resource, investing in it, and seeing a return on those resources. In the socialist order, one would still be allowed to own acorns, in most cases, but the state would claim the trees as soon as they were grown, and would fine and arrest the person who planted them.

Socialism is state ownership and control of capital property.

Fascism is state control of pretty much everything, including capital property. The state cannot be supreme if it does not control the means of production (i.e., capital). This is why every fascist government that has risen has also been socialist, from Mussolini’s Italy to Hitler’s Germany to Kim Jong Un’s North Korea. In fact, North Korea is one of the few fascist nations in the world today, where the state openly controls everything from education programs to capital.

Similarly, we in the United States are much more fascist than we’d like to realize, and we’re entirely socialist. No American is allowed to own capital; the owners of all capital is ultimately the American Government. In a capitalist order, a person purchases a house and the land around it, and then it’s theirs–it belongs to them, and they can do whatever they want with it, because they are the owner. This is not the case in the United States. In the United States, the person has an enormous list of things they are not allowed to do with the property, must petition for the right to do countless things that they supposedly have the right to do, and then must pay rent each year to avoid having the property taken away from them. Paying property taxes to the government in order to avoid having the government take the property away is not in any sense different from paying a bank note to prevent the bank from taking the property away.

Why should the government get money from you each year, just because you own a house and the land around it? It’s not the government’s house or land, is it? By inserting themselves into this process, lining up outside of your property with guns and soldiers and demanding that you hand over money or they will forcibly remove you, the state has usurped your ownership of the home and made itself the owner. We can use all the doublethink and cognitive dissonance we like, but the fact remains that this affair is known as “renting,” and not “owning.”

This is similarly the case for whatever manufacturing facility you own. Not only are you required to pay duties on thins that you import, but you must pay the government a portion of your profits regularly, because, if you don’t, they will take the manufacturing facility away from you. And, of course, you can’t just build a manufacturing facility in your backyard; you must acquire permits, many of which are exorbitantly expensive, and rely on getting the government’s permission for you to use “your” property in the way that you want in the first place.

This cannot be considered “private property.”

It would be no different if I came by your manufacturing facility once a month with armed goons and demanded a cut of your profits for “protection,” and made it clear that, if you didn’t pay, you would have an “accident” that would end with one of my people being installed as the owner of the facility. This is what the state does now, today, in 2017 Common Era, in the United States. The idea that this arrangement constitutes “private property” is demonstrably false, and has been demonstrated as so.

If that was your house, you could burn it down. If that was your house, you could add a wing without getting permission from the government. If that was your house, you could install your own septic tank. If that was your house, you could dig an enormous hole and create a pond. If that was your house, you would not have to pay someone each year in order to prevent it from being taken away from you. Instead, it is the state who decides whether you can have permission to add a wing, it is the state who decides whether you may install a septic tank (“No, you cannot, but you can pay $1,200 to this guy who paid us $3,000 for his license to do it.”), and it is the state who ultimately owns the property, who must receive a payment from you regularly, on top of all these other considerations.

The thing about ownership is that it means I can do whatever I want with my property.

Compare the ownership of capital in the United States–as most obvious in regard to houses–to the ownership of consumption goods. I can do whatever I want with the Linksys WRT54GL that I’m looking at. I can write my name on it. I can install DDWRT firmware. I can put it on whatever subnet I want. I can take it outside and smash it to pieces. I can unload sixteen 12 gauge shotgun shells into it. I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission, and I don’t have to pay anyone each year for the “privilege” of owning it. It’s mine.

That difference is critical to understanding the current state of the world. Socialism is assuredly not on the decline; private ownership of capital is more regulated, controlled, restricted, and usurped than ever before. Socialism is more powerful today than it has ever been, and more dominant than ever. If we do not take back the right to own capital, free of government regulations, government mandates, and government threats of theft, then the problems we face can never be fixed.

And all of this is without even getting into Intellectual Property, eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, and the millions of regulations that bear down on us every single day. Anyone who looks at this state of affairs and calls it “private property” is severely confused. After all, both socialism and capitalism feature the ownership of consumption goods. As such, the ownership of consumption goods cannot be a deciding factor in whether a society is capitalist or socialist–as it is contained on both sides of the equation, it is reduced:

Private ownership of capital + private ownership of consumption goods = Capitalism

State ownership of capital + private ownership of consumption goods = Socialism

Anyone can see that “private ownership of consumption goods” has nothing to do with it, and must be subtracted from both. What we’re left with is that “private ownership of capital = capitalism” and “state ownership of capital = socialism.” Seeing as Fascism is state dominance over everything, from medicine to education to capital to consumption goods (because, for obvious reasons, if the state manufactures the only toothpaste in existence, then the state controls who has toothpaste and who doesn’t, as opposed to capitalism, where a person who has pissed off Colgate can still purchase Crest).

Fascism is also alive and well, although the state that people want to be supreme over everything has moved up one level, for the most part, to globalism instead of nationalism. This is why I once made the point that national fascism is easier to defeat than global fascism, while I explained my support for Brexit and America leaving NATO and the United Nations. Although viewed as contentious, that statement is actually an obvious extrapolation of how local governments are easier to influence than federal ones. It is much easier to get my city council to do what I want than it is to get the federal government to do what I want, and much easier to get the federal government to do what I want than it is to get the world government to do what I want. There is also the reality that world government soldiers from Uganda and New Guinea will face no real hardship oppressing people in California, while soldiers from California will face some internal difficulty oppressing people in Arkansas, and soldiers from Tate County, Mississippi will face considerable internal strife oppressing the people of Tate County. Local > distant, in every conceivable way.

However, that fascists today are roughly evenly split between nationalism and globalism is of no concern. They want state supremacy either way. The global fascists simply want to create a higher level of government to be supreme and enforce their desires. In that way, the globalist fascists are more fascist than the nationalist ones. And, yes, there is a strong correlation between those who want a powerful world government that can dictate national policies and those who openly desire socialism; yet, even among the national fascists, there is a strong tendency for the state to control different aspects of people’s lives (marriage, sexual identity, drugs, whatever). The globalist fascists simply want to create a Big Joker, because they don’t like how the nationalist fascists have the Little Joker.

 

UBI: Manna Doesn’t Fall From the Sky

While there are obvious similarities between the Universal Basic Income and the Minimum Wage, there is also a difference that causes the former to be immeasurably more stupid than the latter. The MW, of course, is a legal guarantee that one’s labor will have a certain value; the UBI is the guarantee that one’s existence will have a certain value.

It’s absurd, stupid, and another example of how our confused species has enjoyed luxury so great that we’ve forgotten we live in a universe where it’s an organism’s responsibility to secure its own survival.

I voluntarily provide my cats with a UBI. I’m not kidding, and anyone who thinks I’m kidding has missed the point. Nothing is required of them, and each day they’re provided with food, water, air conditioning, medical care, and a roof over their heads. This is precisely what the UBI is meant to assure people.

While I’ve undertaken this as my responsibility, the fact remains that they are subsisting entirely off my productivity. My labor acquires food, and so they don’t have to expend their own labor hunting mice in the surrounding fields. That I refill their water bowl means they don’t have to chase down water sources. Whatever else is true, it costs me to do these things, and it requires no more effort from them than to get their fat asses to the food bowl.

Even so, I don’t owe this to anyone. There are millions of cats to whom I give nothing, simply for practicality’s sake: if I spent all my time chasing down stray cats to take care of, I’d have no time to secure the money I use to buy the stuff they need. And though it really doesn’t take long for me to buy a can of cat food, it remains true that someone has to put in the effort to get my cats something to eat. It’s easier for me to work a few minutes and buy what they need than it is for them to go out and find dinner, water, and a place to stay; moreover, they are incapable of getting health care for themselves. It also remains true that food is not going to magically appear for them.

This isn’t true of humans. It’s no easier for me to go to college and establish a career than it is for anyone else to do it. The ease with which I, being a human, can acquire the stuff my cats need and want means less energy is expended when I simply take care of it. Additionally, it’s an obligation I chose to take on voluntarily, because I like them and they’re my friends.

In the grand scheme of things, I actually had a harder time securing a college degree and a career than the average person. Yet advocates of the UBI don’t care. Part of my productivity should, they argue, be siphoned off and used to secure things for other people. After all, manna doesn’t fall from the sky. My cats may not realize it, but their food bowl isn’t magical–I have to actually expend effort earning the money to buy their food. It’s not free food. It’s just free to them.

So let’s drop the bullshit for a moment and call things what they are.

It’s Socialism. It’s entitlement. It’s this notion that one is entitled to the necessities of survival, and that it’s okay to enslave other people and command them to provide one with food, water, and other things.

Bullshit. It’s backward. It’s called “slavery.”

There is no escaping this. That food, that water, that electricity, that doctor, that pharmacist… All of that stuff is other people’s labor. The doctor is a human being, not a mechanical dispensary of diagnoses. The farmers, the biochemists, the nurses, the coal miners–these people are all entitled to be paid for their labor. They must be, because the idea that it’s okay to make them work for free is unequivocally called slavery. If you can put a hundred people to work in a nightmarish coal mine and then not pay them because no one has paid you for your coal, then you don’t have a hundred employees–you have a hundred slaves, and you are simply the Enslaved Slave Master, enslaved and commanded by others to command other slaves. You’d be the ultimate Uncle Tom: the slave given a prestigious position and power over other slaves.

It can be taken a given, then, that the owner of the coal mine and the coal miners should be paid for their labors. “But it’s so useful to the function of society!” can’t be used as an argument to justify refusing to pay them, because people once said the very same thing about cotton as a justification for slavery. “Cotton is critical to the function of society and to the economy!” people claimed [which, it’s worth mentioning, if this was truly the case, then people would be willing to pay enough for it to keep the industry alive without slavery]. Perhaps doctors do provide a service to society that is so extremely useful, but it doesn’t matter–the utility of the service a person provides cannot be used as an argument for their slavery.

Someone has to put in the productivity to earn the money to pay the coal miner, the doctors, the farmers, and everyone else. Again, this is because manna doesn’t fall from the sky. We live in a universe that pretty much never stops trying to kill us. Life is born with an expiration date. That expiration date can be pushed back by eating, drinking, and taking care of oneself, but it cannot be postponed indefinitely. The only thing a living being is entitled to… is death.

It’s easy to forget this, especially in western nations, where food and water are so abundant. A newly born infant, however, is going to die in just fewer than 48 hours if someone doesn’t provide it with food and water. We could certainly justify making the argument that it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide the helpless infant with the necessities of survival, much in the same way that my choice to take in two cats came with the responsibility to ensure their well-being, but the entire reason the parents may be required to provide the food and water is because the infant will die if it doesn’t get it. By being born at all, the infant is sentenced to death, and it becomes the responsibility of the parents not to ensure survival but to postpone death until such time as the infant is old enough and capable enough to postpone their own death.

Attrition is part of the universe. We are mortal beings. Starvation, malnutrition, disease, dehydration, and countless other things are literally trying to kill us around the clock. The very moment we lapse in our responsibility to stave off these bringers of death is the very moment they overtake us. Life itself is trying to kill you right now. It’s the reason you’ll become hungry and thirsty today. It’s the reason you might catch a cold. At this very moment, life is trying to kill you, and it requires effort and energy to stave off its victory. If you do nothing–if you simply sit there and do nothing–you will die, with 100% certainty. Our efforts to eat don’t assure immortality; they postpone mortality.

Energy must be expended. Someone must use their labor to keep you alive. Ideally, that person is you. No one has to take care of me and ensure that I have food, because I’ve gone out and secured my food in the way that any healthy, sane organism has to be able to do because the very essence of life is constantly trying to kill that organism. This is true of literally everything in our universe. The passage of time ensures the destruction of everything and everyone, from planets to humans, and the best anything and anyone can do is expend energy to postpone that moment. Stars expend this energy through nuclear fusion; humans expend this energy by taking jobs. These are the most basic aspects of our reality, and they cannot be ignored with good feelings that are meant to obfuscate systemic slavery.

Effort is required simply to stave off one’s own destruction, because the universe is trying to kill everyone, and because if that energy isn’t expended, then death is imminent.

The Sword of Damocles constantly hangs over our heads. This is literally what it means to be mortal, to have a finite existence. We must strengthen the string by which the sword hangs, because the moment we fail to is the moment the sword will fall and kill us. If we choose to just lay there, then gravity and friction will take over, the twine will tear, and the sword will break free. Only by constant effort can we prevent that, and only temporarily with our very best efforts.

The universe doesn’t owe us anything, and I certainly don’t owe anyone anything. I expend my energy keeping my sword from falling. Coming up to me and demanding that I use some of my energy keeping them alive so that they don’t have to is parasitism, slavery, and statism. That’s exactly how we ended up with the state in the first place, and how it became our responsibility, as productive members of society, to provide ancient kings and lords with food so that they didn’t have to toil in the fields.

People call this UBI shit progress–it’s quite clearly not. Having a class of people who sit in their homes with another class of people bringing them food and water? We’ve been down that road before: it’s called serfdom. In feudal times, that lord had to eat, after all. Someone had to work in the field to grow the food. The lord, who didn’t want to do it, instead used force and violence to force people who did work in the fields to bring him food. To say today that we should revisit this idea is the opposite of progress. Whether it’s someone who calls themselves a lord using knights to force everyone to give a portion of what they have for the lord’s benefit, or someone who calls themselves a progressive using police and the state to force everyone to give a portion of what they have for the progressive’s benefit, it’s still just feudal serfdom, and we’ve been down that road before.

Having a larger part of the population make up the unproductive parasitic class of lords, whose defining feature is that they use force to acquire necessities from productive classes, hardly constitutes progress. It simply means that the lowly peasants who are productive must pay the lords a greater tax, because now there are more lords. Whereas feudal times saw fewer than 1% of the population being titled lords parasitically siphoning resources from the productive classes, modern UBI times would see huge sections of the population setting themselves up as lords parasitically siphoning resources from the productive classes. Instead of a member of the productive class paying 65% in taxes to sate the lord’s greed, the member of the productive class has ten times the number of lords and has to pay 95% in taxes.

“Progress”

Perhaps.

Progress down the Road to Serfdom, but that kind of progress won’t take us anywhere else.

Increasing Fundamentalism Portends Serious Problems

When I first saw the flier posted and attributed to the Emerald City Antifa group, I admittedly thought it was genuine–and I still think it’s very likely that a member of the group took the initiative and posted it, though without permission from the group. Of course, Emerald City Antifa has disavowed the flier and denied having anything to do with it, but whether or not they had anything to do with it, the mere possibility that such a flier could have been posted sincerely by such a group is alarming and deeply concerning.

No one familiar with the tendencies, beliefs, and behavior of Antifa, or the left generally, would be terribly surprised to find out that the above flier is real. These are, loosely speaking, the same people who brazenly and openly say things like this:

Really, how big of a leap is it from Laci Green–who I believe is with the Huffington Post–and her racist, misandrist bullshit to the flier attributed to Antifa? There is no dispute that here, a prominent liberal, openly and proudly said, “Fuck you, white America. Fuck you, you racist, misogynist pieces of shit.” Is that really any different from “Propogation [sic] of whites is propogation [sic] of hatred, oppression, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, ableism…”? If anything, I would say that the fake Antifa sign is less extreme than Laci Green’s psychotic, hateful rant. Laci Green straight up said “Fuck you, white people.” The sign merely said “White people are evil.”

So, yes, when I saw the flier I assumed it was real, and that’s because America has become a shining symbol of Poe’s Law: parodies of extremism and fundamentalism are indistinguishable from extremism and fundamentalism. Why would I assume the sign isn’t real, when well-known liberals are brazenly spewing such hateful rhetoric?

Don’t go away yet! Because there’s also this threatening letter that was sent to several mosques in the United States.

Unlike the flier, this letter is easily dismissed as bullshit. This was clearly a liberal–or group of liberals–attempting to stir up controversy and continue the doom-mongering that we saw after the election, with headlines saying things like “Hold your loved ones close” and Jessica Valenti asking “How do I tell my daughter America elected a racist, misogynist bully?” There are a few telltale signs. First, Hitler is universally reviled, and even a Neo-Nazi wouldn’t say something like “[Trump] is going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.” With all the fake police reports filed by Muslims who pretended to be attacked and harassed, we know that this is a game that liberals are more than willing to play.

And judging by the flier, conservatives are more than willing to play it, too.

Because the likeliest scenario is that a conservative hung the Antifa fliers, attempting to drive people away from Antifa and call attention to their hateful rhetoric. Since they’ve gone on to vandalize property and cause riots just because some guy was going to speak and they didn’t want to hear what he had to say, it’s obvious that Antifa is a hate group. So this could very well have been a conservative who hung the flier, parodying the extremist positions of Antifa–or it could have been a rogue Antifa. Similarly, the letters to the mosques were probably liberals hoping to call attention the threat that Trump poses to Muslims (and he does pose a threat to Muslims, something I’ve never denied, but to black people, LGBT people, Hispanics, et al.? Not from anything he’s said or done.) by parodying the extremist positions of the alt-right–or it could have been a rogue alt-right Neo-Nazi.

The real problem is that there’s no way of knowing, and all the above scenarios are believable. I don’t at all find it hard to believe that some Antifa group would hang such a flier. Neither do I find it hard to believe that some Neo-Nazi would send such a letter. Leftist elements say hateful, terrible, racist, misandrist, cisphobic, heterophobic shit all the time, just as rightist elements say hateful, terrible, racist, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic shit all the time. Granted, the leftist extremists have grown to encompass more of the Democratic Party than the right extremists comprise in the Republican Party, but it’s all believable.

These extremists have to be reined in by their respective parties and allies. This is a much larger issue on the left, as I said, where the “progressives,” as they call themselves, have come to totally dominate the party, drowning out all moderate voices and costing Hillary the election by driving away white and male voters by constantly making them into a scapegoat. The right is doing the same to Hispanics and Muslims–“immigrants” generally–but the wackier fringe elements of the right are… still on the fringe. The wacky, fringe left is pretty much “the left” these days, and it’s killing the Democratic Party.

Because it is more believable that Antifa would have hung this flier than it is that the KKK sent these letters to the mosques. On the Scale of Believability, that Antifa hung the fliers is 100% believable, while the notion that the KKK sent the aforementioned letter sits around 65% believable. The KKK and loud, racist, misogynistic, homophobic idiots just aren’t the loudest or most prominent voices in the Republican Party; hell, one of their loudest speakers is an openly gay man. Meanwhile, one of the left’s loudest speakers… is openly saying “Fuck you, white America.”

The American Left appears to be totally lost, with no idea what to do now that shouting and calling people racist is no longer enough to win elections. They are having the identity crisis that, four years ago, I expected the Republican Party to have. How is the left handling this? By and large, they want the party to become more extreme and to move more to the left. I’ve got to tell you, Democrats. If you think the problem is that your party isn’t to the left enough, then you’re more detached from the average person than I thought. But we know they’re really detached, because there remains a huge chunk of people who firmly believe that Sanders would have won the election.

How can they think anything else? They’ve been surrounded, in their cities and universities, for nearly their entire lives telling each other how glorious socialism is and how everyone wants socialism, so they assume this must be true of everyone. Yet there is nothing that would inspire people to get out and vote more than running a socialist for President would, but they wouldn’t be voting for the socialist. Such an election would have the highest turnout in American history, and it would be a landslide victory for whoever ran against the socialist.

The Democratic Party has the chance now to begin getting the extremists under control, but I honestly don’t see it happening. How can it, when media figures are some of the most extreme people out there? When leftist groups are rioting, setting fires, smashing windows, and committing violence to stifle free speech? They’ve characterized their opponents to such a degree that they no longer can react any other way, so I would guess that’s square one: accepting that the right isn’t filled with racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic pieces of shit. I think the left should take a breath, chill the hell out, and tell themselves every single morning for the next two years, “Not all men are sexist. Not all straight people are homophobic. Not all white people are racist. Not all cisgender people are transphobic.”

And the right needs to get its fringe elements more under control, but, being honest here, the right simply isn’t much of a threat to anyone. They’ve had full control of the Federal Government for nearly a month, and they’ve done nothing. That should make the extreme leftists happy, shouldn’t it? We’ve been under “textbook fascism”–according to Laci Green’s weird definition of it–for almost a full month, and absolutely nothing has changed or happened. Our lives have carried on for the last month exactly as they did before, and while some people have been deported, that’s been going on for decades and isn’t new, and neither are travel bans. So really, no, nothing has changed or been remotely different. And the only black-clad, masked people I’ve seen going through the streets attacking people… have been leftists.

Both sides have a problem with extremism, and right extremism has certainly seen a surge since Trump’s victory, but it still isn’t mainstream. Leftist extremism is mainstream, so much so that it’s impossible to tell whether a tremendously racist flier from a liberal group is real or fake.

That’s a serious problem, and it’s going to take a lot of effort to fix. You can’t have people like Laci Green running around saying “Fuck you, white America” if you want people to see fliers like that and immediately know that it’s fake.

From Wage Slave to State Slave

Now, I’m using the term “Wage Slave” as a joke, for the most part, because if one voluntarily enters into an agreement to do something in return for payment, then one obviously isn’t a slave. If I agree to cut your grass for $30 a week, I’m not your slave. I’ve gone over this before, because it stems from the idea that we are required to earn a wage in order to pay for food and a roof over our heads, but this is the case whether we work in the field to grow food and build our own home, or whether we provide services to someone else. It is the universe and the nature of biological life that requires us to earn food–whether by toiling in a field or toiling at a desk–and one way is simply more roundabout than the other. It is not American Society that forces someone to get a job and buy food; it is the fact that they must have food to not starve to death. If there was no money, no employment, and no grocery store (in other words, if no one else was producing food), it would still be necessary for the person to hunt, forage, and plant. We are not, therefore, slaves for wages to employers; we are slaves for sustenance by the universe.

All that aside, I want to talk about the Socialist Paradise, and I’m not going to strawman it here. I’m going to assume that it can be accomplished with no corruption, with no faux equality, and with no death squads. I can’t imagine what mechanism we could use to go from our world to this hypothetical world, but I do want to clarify that I don’t think there is any way to actually achieve this Socialist Paradise.

There is no unemployment in this Socialist Paradise. In fact, everyone works for the state, because the state is the owner of the means of production. Colloquially, in this democratic Socialist Paradise, it means “we the people” own the means of production, and the state is the embodiment of our control over it. The state has ceased being a distinctly separate thing from any individuals in society, and we have somehow managed to turn the state into an effective instrument of democratic will. There are no individuals within the government who do things for their own personal benefit, as has always happened in socialist countries.

There is no money in this Socialist Paradise. Everyone simply does their job, whatever it is, and then goes to the grocery store and gets the food they need. The idea obviously runs into a brick wall here, but it’s one we’re going to have go skate over: what of luxuries? No one needs alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, television, game systems, or anything else. Do luxuries simply cease to exist? How does the state know how many Democratic People’s Gaming Devices to create? Is there simply a requisition form that a person can fill out to request one? How long is the wait period on this? Let’s just assume that there is a requisition process whereby one can acquire luxuries–how many luxuries? Obviously, I can have a Democratic People’s Gaming Device, but what if my wife wants her own? Do we have to share one? What about a family of three, or four, or five? How much alcohol can I requisition each week? How frequently can I requisition for a new television? If my television gets broken by the cats–as has happened–is there a six month or two year waiting period before I can get another? Does some committee handle this decision? Are they elected?

I said I was going to gloss over this problem, but this is a problem that simply can’t be glossed over, can it? There are too many questions and too many variables. What if most people vote and decide that building video game systems is a waste of time, as many, many people do think? Even if 15% of the population still wants the Democratic People’s Gaming Device, construction of the devices has stopped; there is no way for those people to acquire one.

Perhaps someone has tired of their Democratic People’s Gaming Device (yes, I’m going to continue typing that out in full) after the society has decided to stop producing them. Obviously, the socialist paradise would require that the person return the Democratic People’s Gaming Device (which is obviously better than the Imperialist SwineStation and the CapitalistBox, even though it doesn’t do 4k–but 4k isn’t necessary anyway, because the Democratic People’s Television doesn’t have 4k resolution anyway… It’s also mono sound, but that’s okay because the Democratic People’s Television only has one speaker, and the Democratic People’s Enhanced Auditory Device ceased being produced six years ago) to the Democratic People’s Requisition & Distribution Center, at which point it would be recycled and used to make a device that was deemed necessary. Bob couldn’t simply trade his Democratic People’s Gaming Device to Tim in return for an extra three bottles of wine (Bob has a drinking problem).

Except that’s exactly what Bob would do. Bob is an alcoholic, and the state is allowing him only two six packs of beer, one bottle of liquor, and one bottle of wine each week, which isn’t enough to sate Bob’s thirst. He handles this by requisitioning for luxuries and swapping the luxuries in secret for other people’s beer, liquor, and wine. Bob doesn’t actually want a Democratic People’s Gaming Device; he wants a bottle of Democratic People’s Fermented Grape Beverage.

And here we come to the destroyer of Socialism: the black market.

During World War 2, the American government issued ration stamps in order to “assist” conservation and the war effort. What it ended up doing, however, was creating a black market where people bought and sold meat, bread, and sugar–often in broad daylight with the knowledge of local authorities–under the table, ignoring the ration stamp system. It was impossible for a government bureaucrat to know how much meat this family in Wyoming needed, but that didn’t stop the government from trying to dictate how much meat the family could have. The price of meat on the black market obviously increased, but it’s preferable that the family of Wyoming could buy meat at a higher price than to be unable to buy it at all.

People want stuff.

When the government outlawed alcohol, it did nothing to eliminate people’s desire to drink, and a black market was immediately created. Instead of manufacturing alcohol publicly and openly, people had to do it in secret. The quality of the alcohol plummeted, because it was being made in bath tubs and stuff, while its price increased due to the difficulties of getting it, the lower quantity in circulation, and the higher risks involved in manufacturing and selling it. This created gangs of thugs like Al Capone who made lots and lots of money and who, since they were operating in the shadows of society rather than in the open, took and exercised control with bullets and billy clubs instead of paperwork and civility. Once Prohibition against alcohol was lifted, Al Capone and the other gangs immediately went out of business, because fucking no one wanted to buy Bathtub Moonshine from Al Capone when they could instead buy Crown Royal from a store that wouldn’t break their thumbs if they were caught shopping elsewhere. The Untouchables and the feds were unable to put much of a dent in the illegal moonshine business, but the entire business was defeated overnight when prohibition was repealed.

We see the same happening today with prohibitions against drugs, and this is no more apparent than with the rise of Krokodil in Russia. People turn to Krokodil because it can be made cheaply from over-the-counter meds*, while heroin is much more expensive and much harder to manufacture. If there was a company producing heroin in Russia in the open–in factories–and selling it over the counter in pharmacies, then the Krokodil epidemic would never have happened. So much of the high price of heroin comes from its illegal status and the difficulty in manufacturing it; allowing open manufacture would drop the price significantly.

I was once addicted to pain killers. A ten milligram percocet on the street could reach $8–for one of the “school buses.” Lortabs rarely went past $7 each, but there’s a noticeable quality difference between percocet and lortab. During rough dry periods, a ten could reach ten dollars. The reason I became addicted was that a friend of mine who has sickle cell had time released 100mg morphine tabs that she sold me for $5 each. Half of one of those would have you lit up all day long. $2.50 for a high that lasted all day, and she got them regularly. The cost of taking them dropped substantially; whereas before I was spending $35 or so a day, suddenly I was spending only $2.50 a day, and I was able to do that for months and months… and months… and months…

The primarily reason people die from prescription pain killers is not the respiratory depression or any of the other hydro/oxycodone side effects. Tolerance to the narcotics is built up too much for that too happen; by the end of it, I could take 4 ten milligram lortabs and only barely feel it. The reason people die is the acetaminophen. Many of the people I ran around with had no idea how much acetaminophen they were taking on a daily basis, but 4 ten milligram tabs is a 2 gram dose of Tylenol. 4 grams in one day is extremely dangerous. I know a guy who is consuming about 12 grams of acetaminophen every single day, and it’s costing him hundreds of dollars a day to do it.

Now, the point I intended to get at was that it was possible to acquire the pain killers at a significantly lower price, by going through a doctor and buying them from a pharmacy. My sister and father went this route, though I never did–I didn’t want a paper trail showing any possibility of dependency. They both could sue the living hell out of a few doctors in the area, if they were unscrupulous, as well as the pharmacy that would fill a 60 count prescription of percocets and a 120 count prescription of lortabs within days of each other. Not to mention the early refills–“I accidentally washed them!” “I accidentally lost them!” “Someone stole them out of my car!”

By going through the doctor, my sister and father not only made their addictions far worse than mine could ever have been, but, relatedly, also paid substantially less per pill. Through the course of my run with them, I averaged probably $5.50 per pill, because I did go to the doctor some. Their average is probably $1 per pill, or even lower. $100 for the doctor visit, $25 for the prescription–that’s about $2 per pill, but they always came with refills, which further lowered the price. Legalization helped them substantially.

Illegalization didn’t keep me from buying pain pills at a much higher price. When someone is going to become addicted, they’re going to become addicted. On some of those rough days, if I’d only been able to find heroin, honestly, I probably would have bought it. All the hoops and hurdles accomplished was chasing me to the streets, where I burned through about $12,000 in the course of six months, all while feeding excuses to my wife about “how expensive gas is getting.” If I was addicted to heroin and unable to find any, but could get hydrocodeine, I would certainly have tried krokodil.

In the article I linked above, I talked about legalizing hate speech and why it’s so important to allow people to speak their minds openly and freely, without fear of violent reprisal or severe consequences for holding their opinions. The same underlying truth is the reason why: if people want to do something, outlawing it only pushes them into the shadows, where the rules of society no longer apply. Pushing the alcohol industry into the shadows produced the likes of Al Capone. Pushing hate speech into the shadows will turn it into hate crimes.

If Tim hates transsexual people, then let Tim say it without worrying about losing all of his business connections, employment, and everything else. Sure, those companies associating with him also have the right o sever ties, but we shouldn’t use social pressure as a roundabout way of forcing Tim to be silent, and that’s what we do in the modern world. It’s not much better to picket and protest Starbucks until they stop dealing with Tim’s company than it is to have the government arrest Tim for hate speech. Neither is a good solution, but at least social pressure doesn’t involve force and violence. But Tim saying that he hates transsexual people doesn’t do any harm. If he fires people for being transsexual, or refuses to do business with transsexual people, picket away, and demand Starbucks cease doing business with him. But just for stating his opinion?

If we create a society where Tim can’t say that he hates transsexual people because the consequences of that statement will destroy his life, then we’ve not erased his hatred; we’ve only pushed it into the shadows and added resentment to it. Tim begins muttering in anger in his home, “Oh, those queers can say they hate Christians… RAWR… but I can’t say I hate those queers…! ‘Equality’ they say! Yeah, for everyone except white Christians! RAWR!”

Without a way to express his hatred, it builds and festers. Will it boil over and become a news headline of “Tim & Co CEO Arrested For Murdering Twelve Transgender People”? Maybe, and maybe not. But every single person who said “You mustn’t say that!” and who forced him to hold his tongue through threats of world-shattering consequences contributed to the hatred and resentment soup that became violence. This is why I tell people to leave Mississippi alone. They won’t be the ones killed by angry hillbillies who can no longer express their opinions without fear. I will be.

Socialism’s problems rise primarily from this distinction between want and need, between luxury and necessity. It is the economic calculation problem, in a nutshell. There is no efficient or effective way for the government to know how many Democratic People’s Gaming Devices to build, because it simply can’t poll everyone. And even if it could, what if someone changed their mind? The entire argument for Socialism hinges on the precept that Capitalism is wasteful. After all, under Capitalism we’ve ended up with empty houses that co-exist alongside homeless people. That sucks, and is a problem, but their proposed solution is that the socialist government would build exactly as many houses as are necessary. This obviously a question that can’t be answered–in a capitalist society or a socialist one.

How many iPhones should Apple make? If they make too many, then they lose money because devices go unsold. If they make too few, then people will buy a competitor’s. How many Xbox Ones should Microsoft make? They face the same problem. If they make too many, then they lose money because devices go unsold. If they make too few, then people will buy a PlayStation 4 instead. The people best suited to estimate how many iPhones they need to make are the people at Apple, of course, but no one can say that there are no unsold iPhones or Xbox Ones hanging around. There are plenty.

Or you can make the Nintendo mistake, and repeatedly produce too few, even after promising customers that you’d fix the supply issue. Nintendo is so bad about this that people have accused them of intentionally undermanufacturing Amiibos to create artificial scarcity. That’s a silly argument, because Nintendo makes no money from the Amiibos being sold on eBay for four and five times the MSRP, but that’s just how severe their problem is. It pisses consumers off, and, as a result, I know of several prominent game reviewers (Jim Sterling among them) who refuse to touch Amiibo ever again.

Would the socialist society even make luxuries at all? Why should they? Luxuries are, by their very nature, wasteful. That is, after all, what makes them luxuries–they aren’t required, and they don’t produce anything. If the idea is to minimize waste and inefficiency, then it’s hard to imagine that luxuries of any type would be manufactured. Not only is it a waste of resources and time to build the Democratic People’s Gaming Device, but every minute that Terry sits at home playing it is a minute that Terry is contributing nothing to society.

So what would that look like? It would look like Al Capone–black markets of people creating things that people want, because the desire doesn’t disappear. Does the Socialist Paradise produce luxuries? If it does, then it has no idea how many to make, and creates waste. If it doesn’t, then free market principles take over, but in the darkness and away from “official” society, so it’s a black market. Either way, the Socialist Paradise isn’t a paradise at all. How does it handle people like Al Capone, who dare engage in such horrible, evil, capitalist activity as making a good that people want? In decades, the state hasn’t managed to eliminate drugs, and it actually went as far as declaring war on drugs, so we already know that efforts to combat the black market are futile. Do we instead go with the ration and requisition system?

I suppose the latter, and thank goodness, right?

Living in a feudal society where we are all slaves to the lord who fulfills our necessity requests and produces luxuries per requisitions is so much better than being able to get up and go buy an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4–whichever you prefer. And because we all know that a monopoly doesn’t decrease quality or anything, we can rest assured that the Democratic People’s Gaming System is definitely better than either the PlayStation or Xbox would ever be.

So thank goodness for that.

* Russia now requires a prescription, which has made Krokodil much harder to manufacture, ensuring not that people will stop doing dangerous, homemade drugs but that people will instead invent some other homemade drug.

The Rising Ideological War

Western society is schizophrenic, and not in any light-hearted way. There are two diametrically opposed threads running through society today that absolutely refuse to forge a compromise, and we’re seeing it manifest in strange ways. First, there is the reality that neo-liberalism won the culture war. There is no doubt of this, and, prior to Trump’s victory, the majority of liberals were aware of it. It was the Liberal Redneck, after all, who said, “This is our world now, and you’re not getting it back.”

What characterizes this liberalism? It is socialistic/fascistic in nature; of this, there can be no doubt. Huge swathes of the western population look upon capitalism as deprecated, antiquated, selfish, and morally wrong. To them, capitalism isn’t just a remnant of bygone eras; socialism is progress. They tie this directly to what they consider social progress–divisiveness, burning the heretical witches, and moving the goalpost when no one was looking from equality to oppression. This is exemplified most clearly in the anarcho-communist, which I’ve often joked is an anarchist who drank the SJW kool-aid. So far, that assessment has been spot-on. I’ve yet to meet an AnCom who wasn’t guzzling gallons of SJW kool-aid.

This is the side that values their personal feelings more than they value free speech. These are the ones who proudly proclaim that hate speech is not free speech, the ones who clamor for the EU to punish Facebook, Twitter, et al. for not, as the Rational Review News Digest put it, being sufficiently enthusiastic about gutting freedom of speech and embracing censorship.

On the other side is the rise of what we are calling populism, and that’s as good a term as any. This has given us Brexit, Donald Trump as President of the United States, and, the way it is looking, a soon-to-be far right Italian government. But can we take a moment to bask in the knowledge that it was a leftist who wanted to repeal the parts of the Italian Constitution that were specifically meant to diffuse power and prevent another Mussolini from rising? Let us just be thankful that his proposition of “Let’s remove some of these checks and balances that we instituted in order to prevent the total control of fascism” was rejected by Italian voters and that Renzi has now resigned.

Is there a clearer picture than that?

Fascism is what we face. I know these liberals don’t like to hear it, because they don’t know what fascism is and therefore accuse everything they don’t like of being fascism, and it doesn’t help that fascism isn’t really clearly defined, but…

It’s basically a socialist government where the state is supreme. It wasn’t terribly long ago that I saw some idiot write an article where he specifically stated that Hitler wasn’t a socialist. No, I’m not kidding. It was some idiot at Ranker. At least the fools who say “Democratic socialism is totally different from national socialism” aren’t so deluded, ignorant, and misinformed that they don’t think Hitler and the National Socialist party weren’t socialists.

The ties between socialism and fascism are so obvious that they’re frequently call the same thing. Indeed–they are one and the same in practice, for a fascist government must be a socialist one (“Everything in the state”), and a socialist one must be a fascist one (since economics, as Thomas Paine wrote, “…when considered as the fruit of many years’ industry, as the reward of labor, sweat and toil, as the widow’s dowry and children’s portion, and as the means of procuring the necessaries and alleviating the afflictions of life, and making old age a scene of rest, has something in it sacred that is not to be sported with, or trusted to the airy bubble of paper currency,” is the result of day-to-day life, control of the economy becomes, by extension, control of everyday life).

economy2Then we have on the other side modern populism.

There is a devout nationalist tendency among the modern populists, which is a clear antagonist of the neo-liberals’ preference for globalism and a worldwide state. Except it’s not nationalistic in the classic sense–for the most part, the modern nationalists don’t want to dominate other countries and subjugate them as the 20th century nationalists did. Modern nationalists stand somewhere between non-interventionism and limited interventionism–they are okay with war, but only insofar as they are confused about what precipitated those wars. In the case of American wars, of course, America caused them.

See, the nationalists of the 20th century hated Russia on principle. Whether this was due to Cold War propaganda or nearly constant fearmongering, who can say, but one way or another previous nationalists held that Russia was the greatest symbol of evil and had to be destroyed. Although modern nationalists do flirt with that mentality a bit in regard to Muslim nations, they don’t view all Muslim nations like this. However misinformed they are, it’s not Muslims or Muslim nations they hate, but groups like ISIS.

The nationalism we see today is more like a rejection of globalism and an attempt to return to national sovereignty. Most of the people I know who supported Trump also support the U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations. I suspect the same is true for many of the Brexit advocates, and many of the far-right Italians.

global-fascismBecause the neo-liberal has tied globalism, social justice, and socialism together into a single, unified package called fascism (and yes, such a package is called fascism), they are no longer able to separate out individual pieces of this trilogy. To them, it is a triangle; if you remove a single piece, the entire thing stops functioning. It is so tangled together that I don’t believe that they are still able to differentiate the three.

So if you reject one part of this, or two parts of this, they think you must be rejecting all three parts. If you reject globalism in favor of this weakened nationalism, and if you reject socialism in favor of this socialistic pay-for-play/privatized profits and socialized losses that we mistaken call capitalism, then they think you must also be rejecting the social justice aspects. I’ll try to cut that sentence down a bit by reframing this mess of an economic system we have that is not capitalism as simply “interventionism.” I don’t approve of that term as an economic descriptor, because I think “socialism” works very well as a descriptor, even if we aren’t fully socialized yet, but whatever.

If you reject globalism in favor of nationalism, and if you reject socialism in favor of interventionism, then they understand you to be against social justice as well. This is how nationalists have had all manner of insults heaped upon them: sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic misogynists and all that. In their minds, socialism is inseparable from the globalism, which is inseparable from the social justice, which is inseparable from the socialism, much as I say that peace is inseparable from love which is inseparable from liberty which is inseparable from peace.

In this great divide, I land on the side of the nationalists and interventionists. I am not their ally, but I am an enemy of globalism and socialism. I’ve written extensively about the failures and stupidity of socialism. But the nationalists are wrong, too. The nation isn’t the end-all-be-all of sovereignty; the individual is. In this sense, the nationalists are every bit as fascist as the globalist–the only difference is what level of state they want to bow to, with it reigning uncontested and always right. Like the people you see interviewed who take the side of the cops in the DAPL protests. “Well, I believe the cops over the protestors.”

I don’t believe any of them.

Similarly, interventionism is a broken economic model.

But before we can pull sovereignty back to the level of the individual, it must be pulled back away from the globalist-level, and that’s not too much of a problem here in the United States. We already don’t listen to the UN. Hell, in a lot of ways we are the UN. This rift is playing out here in a different way, though, with the liberals wanting a strong federal government that dictates over all fifty states, and with conservatives generally wanting a weak federal government and for the states to rule themselves.

Considering how unhappy a lot of people were with Obama’s presidency and how unhappy a lot of people are with Trump’s presidency, the solution is obvious–the answer is obvious. Globalism doesn’t work. Federalism doesn’t work. There is no One Size Fits All government that will make everyone happy. There is a divide in the world–a divide that will never go away, no matter how much closer we get to egalitarianism. People have different worldviews, and that will always be the case. In fact, psychology specifically suggests that it will always be the case.

If you take any ten people and try to propose a solution to any problem that will make them all happy, you will probably not succeed. The more people you try to impose that solution on, the more likely you are to make someone unhappy. When you have three hundred million people, you are guaranteed to make a large chunk of them–about sixty percent, evidently–some degree of unhappy.

We should stop trying to get our way, and start working toward peace. In order for there to be peace, there must be liberty. Don’t tyrannize others. Individualism must defeat fascism, but first nationalist fascism must defeat globalist fascism.

 

Free College is a REALLY Stupid Idea

No, it’s not really stupid because it’s socialist in nature. It is socialist in nature, and that is, itself, pretty stupid. However, even if we accepted the idea of socialism, the notion of free higher education is nothing short of stupid. It is also backward and is a great example of how the state and its many institutions and institutionalized practices keep society from properly evolving. If the state hadn’t morphed into a nanny government, the solution I’m about to propose would already have manifested, because it’s both obvious and logical; it’s literally the next step in social evolution, but instead everyone is looking to the government to solve a problem that the government honestly can’t solve.

To ask for free college is to basically be someone shortly after the automobile was invented, demanding that the government provide everyone with a horse-drawn cart. You’re asking for something that is mostly obsolete now and is going to become increasingly obsolete as we move into the future.

The Internet has changed everything. In fact, the World Wide Web will go down as the greatest invention in our species’ history, so overwhelming is its scope. We have not even begun to realize the full impact of the Internet, and this is one such example. It allows a person in the middle of nowhere in Mississippi to communicate through video chat instantly with someone in Siberia. The impact of something like that has not yet been felt, but future generations will take it for granted, and I firmly believe that it heralds the eventual end of war. “The Russians” are no longer some strange, foreign people–they are people we play video games with, that we are friends with on Twitter and Facebook. They are not boogeymen any longer; they are real people. It becomes a lot harder to let your government drop a bomb on someone’s city when you were talking to that someone last week during a chess match, you know?

This has only now started to become apparent, but it’s no surprise that millennials are among the loudest peace advocates everywhere in the world, from the United States to the Middle East to China. Succeeding generations will be even louder in their criticisms of war, because for the first time in human history, we don’t have to take our government’s word for it that “China is like totes 4 real raping and eating babies!!11one!!” because we actually know people in China. Earlier today, I played chess against someone from a country whose flag I didn’t even freaking recognize–but I’d recognize it if President Obama declared, “Yeah, we’re gonna drop some bombs on this place.”

“No!” I would say. “You can’t do that… A real person lives there…”

It’s a beautiful thing, the Internet, and we must protect it from all encroachments of government. There has never been a tool more powerful at our disposal. Under no circumstances should we allow any government to touch it. But none of this is my point–it’s just generally background because it’s true. In the year 2500, people will look back and identify the Internet as mankind’s most profound achievement, because an end to war will be just one of its many remarkable benefits.

Another is that it has placed the sum of human knowledge literally at our fingertips. I remarked recently:

I’m supposed to believe that the same people who can’t be bothered to take four seconds to click New Tab and look something up on Google before sharing it on Facebook when the sum of human knowledge is available for free at their fingertips will spend four years in college if it’s free? Yeah, okay.

There’s an important thing here that has to be addressed; we can’t just pretend like it’s not true. Anything you want to know is available on the Internet. No matter how obscure the knowledge is, and no matter how advanced it is, the information is out there, somewhere, on the Internet. And it’s free. If you have an Internet connection, anything that you want to learn about… can be learned… for free. Right now. “Free education” people want? You can’t get better free education than the Internet; you literally cannot.

College is a tremendous investment of time and energy. It is an investment of such magnitude that it makes a simple Google search insignificant. Let’s not be mistaken about this: there is strong overlap between people who want free higher education and people who can’t be bothered to look things up before sharing them on Facebook. I have no data to back this up, but considering how extraordinarily common it is that people share things without looking them up, it is virtually guaranteed that there is high overlap. People will gladly share posts about how three prominent Wikileaks administrators totally died under mysterious circumstances and it’s Hillary’s fault rather than looking it up and finding that the three people referenced all died of explicitly explained causes, two of which were cancer, for fuck’s sake. Yet they would… like totes 4 real… invest four years of their life into going to college.

If only it was free!

Now, all that said, the solution.

Colleges and universities are obsolete. Unless you’re seeking a Master’s degree or a Doctorate, there is nothing you can learn in a college or university that you cannot learn for free on the Internet. If you’re seeking a 6 or 8-year degree, then, yes, a good chunk of your work will involve original research, a dissertation, a thesis, and ultra-advanced learning that either isn’t readily available on the Internet or can’t be verified. Once we start getting the mathematics of quantum neutrino fields*, yeah, there’s a place for a university to fit in.

What we need is to adjust to the Internet and the new education paradigm that it has created. I would gladly go toe-to-toe with any political theorist or economist in the world. I would stake my self-education against their university-education any day of the week, and I say this for two reasons.

First, I’m probably smarter than they are. I don’t mean this as a statement of arrogance, but one of fact; as a MENSA member, the odds are in my favor. These are also fields that I have explored extensively, going through the whole process of the Dunning-Kruger Effect and coming out on the other side, educated. Plus, much of what modern “official” economists say is nothing more than scientific woo.

Second, while I was in college I took Macroeconomics I and Macroeconomics II as electives, and passed both with As and never even purchased my book for the classes. So I actually had the chance to stack my self-education against the system’s education, and I came out on top. I’ve written about changes in Supply curves having effects on equilibrium prices, after all. So I know from first-hand experience that motivated self-education is not only adequate; it’s probably preferable. Because it’s free, it’s definitely preferable.

It would be the height of stupidity to throw a bunch of money at the current education institution in order to prop up a system that is already obsolete. Intelligent people go where the knowledge is. Through the last several centuries, universities were “where the knowledge was.” So intelligent people who wanted to learn naturally went to universities. This is no longer the case. The universities surely still have knowledge, but they are not the exclusive holders of that knowledge anymore. Why on Earth would we even consider paying gigantic, extortionate, exorbitant fees and tuitions for knowledge that we can literally have for free already?

That’s… stupid.

It is. It’s supremely stupid. It’s short-sighted, simplistic, and stagnant. Short-sighted, simplistic, stagnant, and supremely stupid.

Are you familiar with CompTIA and its certifications? It has several: A+ certification, Security+ certification, Network+ certification… The list goes on. I’m not A+ or Network+ certified, because I don’t need to be. I was stupid and did waste the time going to college to get a degree that A+ and Network+ certifications are considered equivalent to. In fact, people really like the A+ certification; I’ve often been encouraged to get it anyway.

What is that, if not exactly what I’m proposing for other fields of study?

Rather than spending 4 years attending the University of Missisippi, study what you want to study, and then pop in there 5 or 6 Saturdays in a row, take the tests they deem appropriate. If you pass, they give you an Economics Certification equivalent to a BA. Already on college campuses, you can “comp” your way through several classes–I comped through Trig to take Calculus, after all. All we need is a system that allows you to comp the entire education program. What does it matter? If you have the knowledge, then you have the knowledge, regardless of whether you spent 4 years studying at home in your spare time, or 4 years studying at the university.

But that’s exactly it, isn’t it? The University of Mississippi would hate this. They could never charge $48,000 for you to take the tests and get your Economics 4 Certification. They’d probably not get away with charging $1,000 for that. CompTIA’s A+ exam is generally considered expensive, and it’s only $199 and you can typically get vouchers that knock off a huge portion of that.

Now we’re getting to the root of it.

Colleges and universities have a vested interest in keeping this certification thing down. How much money did ITT Tech lose to people who checked around for tech jobs and discovered that an A+ certification is generally considered equivalent to a 2 year degree, and sometimes a 4 year degree? Now start applying this to all fields. How many pharmacist assistants would skip college to simply get a certification, if they could get a Pharmacy 2 Certification for $600 by taking a test three weekends in a row? How much money would universities and colleges lose?

Millions. Billions, even.

Their tuition numbers would dwindle, with only people seeking Master’s and Doctorate’s degrees actually attending universities, and even they would comp through the first 4 years and get certifications instead. How would universities and colleges react? Why, they would lower their tuition fees, of course!

Because that’s what people do when Demand drops.

Stop asking the government to give you a horse-drawn carriage for free, and instead look into how you might acquire an automobile. These systems are not in place. We desperately need them, though. And they will rise, as free market solutions to the problem, just as CompTIA and its tech certifications rose as free market solutions. However, we’re all looking in the wrong place. Don’t demand that the government give you money so that you can prop up an obsolete system.

* Wanton burrito meals?

Socialism is Full Wagner On Steroids

Unless you’re one of 500~ people who like the page Shit Kyle Wagner Says, then you’re probably not going to get the reference in the title. If you’re an anarchist, voluntaryist, or libertarian, though, go to that page and enjoy what this self-professed “former anarcho-capitalist who ‘woke up’ and became a libertarian who ‘woke up’ and became a liberty-leaning conservative who still calls himself a libertarian even as he says some of the dumbest shit you’ll ever see” has to say.

I got into a discussion with someone recently about Socialism versus Capitalism, and the argument ultimately sank into emotional territory; after it was all said and done, the question asked of me was this:

There are four million homeless people in Spain and eleven million houses that are empty. This is a waste of resources, and it’s morally wrong.

At first glance, this is not a good argument but a great one, for how can he be incorrect? Is it not clearly a waste of resources for so many houses to go empty while so many people need houses? Is it not obvious that the efficient use of those resources would have produced exactly as many houses are needed and would have left no one homeless? We can address the “morally wrong” statement later; for now, are these things not obvious?

They are, but only at a surface glance–and a limited one that sees only the first ten feet. It is a car driving around at night whose headlights reveal only the next thirty feet of highway, so the driver assumes he can relax and take his hands off the steering wheel, never considering that there is a sharp turn thirty-five feet away. “I can’t see it, so it’s not there!” the driver proclaims. If you’d dispute this assessment, then you should go and read the actual comment chain, where the socialist argues exactly that, saying that because he can’t see the value of x job at thirty-five feet away, it must have no value.

What a strange notion.

Let’s examine, for a moment, what’s happening here. The anonymous socialist–who is almost certainly the same guy who gave a competing answer to the question–is making a valuation judgment on the use of these resources, saying, “They are without value.” Obviously, he is being hyperbolic, and I’m not faulting him for that. What he means is that the job has almost no value; there’s no way he means that the job has absolutely zero value to anyone. If nothing else, the job has value for the person who does that job, so we have to assume that he meant “The job has very little value.”

However, we know that all valuation judgments are subjective. He is deciding that this job has no value based on his internal understanding of what has value and what doesn’t, and his understanding is colored by his own biases and predilections. To see what I mean, let’s look at another value statement.

“Drugs are bad.”

Sure, most people would agree, but why are drugs bad? Well–for a moment putting on the appropriate hat–they are damaging to society and to the individual.

Okay, but why is “damage to the individual” bad? Why is “damage to society” bad?

We’ll find that these questions are actually impossible to answer. We can do this with any value statement. What we find are value statements built on assumed value statements. Drugs are bad because damage to the individual is bad. However, when pressed, when we trace this seemingly-infinite regress back to its source, we are left finding ourselves saying, “Because it just is!” Let’s do another, more controversial one.

“Murderers are bad.”

Again, virtually everyone would agree–as would I–but why are murderers bad? Because killing people is wrong. But why is killing people wrong? Because it’s a violation of their rights? That’s not an answer–it’s rephrasing the assumption. Why is it wrong to violate people’s rights? Again, we are ultimately left with only “Because it just is!”

It’s not a problem that we build our value judgments upon assumptions that are built on assumptions that are built on assumptions. I firmly agree that murderers are bad, and I would certainly say that they’re bad because killing people is wrong because it’s a violation of their rights. The point is that it can’t be demonstrated. It isn’t objective. This value that we’ve set–even if 100% of all people agree with it–is not objective. Murder is no more objectively wrong than homosexuality is objectively wrong. This is what led Nietzsche to his observation that power is good, and that which causes a will to power is good; what is bad is weakness. Strictly speaking, Nietzsche is more right with his valuation judgments than anyone else, but only because his good and evil–a Blue and Orange morality if ever there was one–is built on the notion that survival of the species, ensured through power of the individual, is critical. This, too, is an assumption–Why is it good for the species to survive?–and Nietzsche was well aware of that. However, we’re getting into topics here that aren’t really related enough to warrant this much attention.

In effect, what we have from this socialist are two subjective valuation statements that are being said as though they are objective truths. “The resources are wasted in this manner,” meaning that the value of the resources is higher than the value of how they are presently being used; “this is morally wrong,” meaning that this state of affairs is “bad.”

Not only are these built upon assumptions, but how are these comparisons even made?

As Henry Hazlitt observed in The Foundations of Morality*, what is happening here is that the socialist is comparing an is to an ought. I’ve spoken about this before, how we humans do this constantly, comparing one state of affairs to another, and often one of those hypothetical states of existence is an idealized perfect one. Hazlitt put it best, though–we are looking at what is and comparing it to what ought be.

Obviously, though, we have a problem. Our imagining of what ought be is based on our assumptions of what is good and what is bad, and our assessments of good and bad are built on other assumptions. We might say “The world is in poor shape because people still kill one another, and we shouldn’t.” On the surface, yes–absolutely. However… We are comparing the state of the world as it is to how we think it ought be. So how do we think the world ought be? It ought be free of murder. Why do we think that? Because murder is wrong. Why do we think that? Because a violation of someone’s rights is wrong. Why do we think that? Because it just is.

My contention here isn’t that these subjective value statements derived from various assumptions are wrong. How could I even begin to make such a case? That they are wrong is, itself, a value statement, which is, itself, built on other assumptions. Beyond that, though, I agree–“It just is” wrong to violate someone’s rights. Far from arguing that these assumptions must be discarded, I firmly agree that these assumptions are critical, otherwise we can’t get anything done.

After all, every single day we assume that reality is real. Why do you get out and go to work? Because you assume that you’d really starve to death and really become homeless if you didn’t. Are these assumptions valid? Probably–but we can’t say definitively. Maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe everyone else would, but you’re a magical human being who doesn’t need to actually eat. Can you say you’re not? Have you ever tried? Maybe you’d experience the pains and mental anguish of hunger but would never actually die from it. Can you say this isn’t true? No. Does this mean you should chance it, and sit at home and wait to see if you die of starvation? No–make the assumption that you would starve, and take your ass to work.

I don’t demand that we stop assuming things and that we stop assigning values based on these assumptions.

I’m simply saying that we need to be aware that they are subjective statements built on assumptions, and that not one of us is objectively or demonstrably right about any value statement.

We can see, then, the immediate flaw in the socialist ideology. Not only does it contend that the state can set values correctly, thereby assuming that a thing has objective values and thereby assuming that the state can find them, but it proceeds on that assumption as though it is an objective truth. In fact, I could–and did–make the argument that it would be a waste of resources to give the houses to the four million homeless.

Think about it like this. I have a spare $100, even after I’ve put money into savings. It’s just spare money for me, completely disposable. A hooker comes up to me and tells me that she’s got STDs and is addicted to meth, and that she spent all of her money on meth and now doesn’t have money to buy food. The socialist’s position is that it would be a “waste of resources” and an “inefficient use of resources” if I told her no and kept my money to myself, saving it for another day. “You should give it to the prostitute,” says the socialist, “because she can put it to use buying food.”

The value statements can’t end there, though. What is the value of this woman having food? She will continue going through the streets fucking dudes and probably giving them STDs in the process. This must be included in the assessment of efficiently used resources. Maybe her survival means that she gives birth to a kid who grows up to be the next Stephen Hawking. This must also be included in the assessment. To make any definitive value statement requires omniscience–that is what I’m getting at. We must be able to compare an is to an ought, and we must be able to identify every single variable and every single consequence of the action. This is an impossible task.

Regardless, I don’t see how forcing me to give $100 to a drug-addicted, disease-ridden prostitute is a more efficient use of the money than if I just kept it to be used at a later date. They may be equally efficient, and letting me keep it may be more efficient. We don’t know. We can’t know.

But the socialist claims to.

* A fantastic philosophical work, though I have to confess that Hazlitt is occasionally pretty hard to read. However, if you can get through Nietzsche and things like Thus Spoke Zarathustra**, then Hazlitt shouldn’t be a problem.

** Good luck with that.

Corporations, Communism, and Nihilism

I want you to imagine a group of people who communally share their resources. No one person owns anything; everything belongs to The Group, not to an individual. Each individual contributes according to the rules of the group, and they receive some restitution for their labor. There is a hierarchy in this group, however. At the top of the pyramid are elected people who set the policies that they are voted to set, and, though these elected people have authority, none of them can just take the group’s resources and run. Instead, what allotment of the resources these elected officials receive is determined by a sort of another group–a board of people.

When a person needs to use part of The Group’s resources for something, they fill out some paperwork, which is in turn sent to people who are higher on the totem pole, and someone approves or disapproves of the requisition. However, each person is guaranteed a specific amount of the resources as part of their labor agreement, and these guaranteed resources can be used in whatever way the individual wants. Strictly speaking, additional resources could be requisitioned for any reason the individual wants, too, but it’s more likely that a requisition will be approved if the request for additional resources is more an investment than a consumption.

What did we just describe?

Socialism? Communism?

Or a corporation?

We have to focus more on what things are than what they are called, and this is precisely why. If I were to tell someone that corporations are socialist in nature, I would be laughed out of the room. Yet here we are. The above description could describe either a communist society or the inner workings of a corporation. This is not a word game. It’s not a pun, and it’s not clever linguistics. This is what they are.

Putting anarcho-communism aside for a moment–because the majority of communists aren’t anarchists, and neither are most socialists–the one distinguishing factor between corporations and the socialist society would be that, ideally, in the socialist society, everyone’s personal “restitution for labor”–that is, “wages,” but I avoided that word purposely–would be equal.

This is always a question that we must ask the communist: do you truly believe that the McDonald’s worker and the President of the United States deserve an equal wage? Does the socialist truly believe that the Wal-Mart stocker and the Congressional official deserve an equal wage? For those rare individuals who would answer affirmatively, there is little more to be said; we cannot argue with people who believe that these people are making equal contributions to society.

The question of wages is a strange one, because we have not long been selling our labor in such numbers. Throughout most of human history, a person’s sold labor was a supplement; we did not buy food and clothing, because we grew our own and made our own. We sold our labor when we needed to purchase those things that we could not produce ourselves; when we needed to visit the blacksmith, for example. While there were blacksmiths, of course, who did primarily sell their labor as a means of living, they were still rare–artisans, craftsmen, and tailors constituted a middle class.

Recent times have redefined human society such that virtually everyone sells their labor, no one grows their own food, and your kids would be laughed out of school–you might end up facing criminal charges, as well–if you sent your children to school in clothing that you made. This is a relatively new state of affairs, though. Throughout most of human history, you put in the work to grow your own food and, if you did not, you starved.

This is where communists and socialists wholly break with nature. It is the responsibility of an animal to secure its sustenance, either through predation or production–hunting or gathering. That it would even be possible for one animal to contribute nothing to their own survival, yet still survive, is a new development. Remembering that compassion is a luxury, the Johnson family would not have been willing to share their food with the Lennox family when the Lennox family chopped down a few trees and proclaimed, “There. I tried.”

A fundamental truth has been lost in the nihilistic fervor of western society: the universe doesn’t give a fuck about us, we are animals, and it is the responsibility of an animal to ensure its own survival. In the event that it cannot, compassion should probably be afforded to the animal by those who can afford that luxury, if they so choose, but that we can have this conversation in the first place shows that we have lost all semblance of reason and sanity. What the hell do you mean that I must have compassion?

Suffering is made contagious by pity.

We have reached this point where we are today because of capitalism. Let there be no doubt about it. It was capitalism that allowed us the luxury of deciding that we must not send our four-year-old children to be maimed in glass factories. If you went to Victorian London, do you know what you would see?

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ” ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.
There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved, so I said,
“Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.”
And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;
And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.
And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

During the Irish Famine it was not unusual for parents to sell their children. We look back on those 19th century atrocities and condemn them–as rightly we should–but we condemn them without understanding them. Parents sent their children to work in glass factories to be maimed for life because they had no choice. It was that or starve. Parents sold their children into slavery–or worse–because it was that or starve. What would you do, if you went back in time and saw these things happening? Would you come forward and outlaw it? Would you say, “No! If I see you sending your children to work in glass factories, I will throw you in prison”?

Then you would condemn them to death.

It was not legislation or happy feelings that put a stop to this practice. It was not people slapping their foreheads and proclaiming, “Oh, shit. You know? It’s probably not a great idea to sell our children.”

It was capitalism.

It was prosperity.

People stopped sending their children to be maimed in factories when it was no longer necessary, and shortly thereafter we condemned and outlawed it. It was a necessity born of poverty–a poverty that stretched back to the time when peasants grew their own food, something that had become increasingly unfeasible.

Look to China today. How much sweatshop labor and child labor is there in China today? Oh, there is still child labor and sweatshop labor, but it has been drastically reduced from what it was thirty years ago. People in China are now buying vehicles, building better homes, securing more stable electricity–why? Why are the Chinese prospering?

Because of capitalism.

We are such a curious species.

We use these tools to climb to such high plateaus, and then we cast off the tools and condemn them, insist that we don’t need them because we have better tools, and then we flounder on the side of the mountain, thrashing about and asking stupidly, “What went wrong? We had it all figured out!”

The greatest example of this is how Trump is being condemned for expressing that he uses his power, fame, and wealth to cajole women into sleeping with him. Even if Donald Trump never touched a woman without her consent, the same people would be condemning him, and for the same reason.

Fuck that.

Good for you, Donald.

We are animals–stupid, petty, violent, horny animals. Unfortunately, at some point during our evolutionary line we developed sentience, which in turn led to an out-of-control ego, which we immediately fed by convincing ourselves that we are anything but animals, despite all evidence to the contrary. All the evidence suggests that nothing but your own perceptions separates you from the chair you’re sitting in, and nothing but ego distinguishes you from the wolf.

The difference is that the wolf has forgotten what it is. It’s a stupid, petty, violent, horny animal, and it has no delusions about it. So the wolf survives, doing what it was programmed by biology to do. The wolf has no compassion because the only things the wolf could conceivably have compassion for is its prey–and it cannot be allowed the luxury of compassion for its prey; its own survival depends on it.

We humans, though… What is the soul?

The soul is two things. It is a delusion that we are immortal, and it is a symbol of our own vanity. Ask any person who believes they are immortal* whether animals have souls, and they will almost all answer the same: “No.” The soul is what allows this delusion to persist today, when, by all rights, it should have been cast off when it was proven beyond all doubt that personality is an electrochemical reaction in the brain, and that neither personality nor self exist external of the brain. Yet it persists, a delusion that we cannot let go of.

It is the greatest of ironies that, yes, we can be better. We can be better than the other animals with whom we share a planet and a lineage. We do have a sense of self, and we are afforded the luxury of compassion. It would be foolish to suggest that we forego this luxury in the name of some Neo-Luddism insanity. We are what we are, and “what we are” includes wonderful potential–a potential that has actualized and allowed us the luxury of compassion.

But we must not forget, as we exercise that compassion, that it is a luxury, and the very things which purchased that luxury are the very things we must control if we are to show compassion.

* Let’s not mince words about it–this is what advocates of “souls” are suggesting.

The Nihilism of Western Society

Western society is not decadent; it’s nihilistic.

Now, those familiar with me know that I consider myself a nihilist. I am also well aware that Nietzsche–the father of modern nihilism–would be appalled to learn that we call ourselves nihilists. We don’t mean it in the same sense that Nietzsche meant it, and I’m going to get into that momentarily. We mean it in the sense of ultimate objectivity, refusing to allow emotions a place in shaping our knowledge, and a strict separation of emotion from reason. This leads to a lack of attachment and loyalty to existing institutions. We don’t look at the educational institution and say, “Well, it’s bad and could be replaced, but we’ve had this one for so long…” Instead, we stop at “Does it accomplish what we want it to? If not, replace it.”

Nihilists do not advocate arbitrarily destroying socioeconomic institutions just because. We advocate destroying them if they don’t do what we want them to do. This requires objectively looking at them and their results. Nihilism is a constant battle between what we believe and what is, and not everyone is capable of accepting “what is.” Religion is a great example. I have a friend who agrees with me almost completely about religion, and even agrees that people use deities as projections of their own beliefs and opinions. Yet, he still believes that there is a god–in the deist sense. This is an example where he will not accept What Is because of What Ought.

It’s funny that nihilists recognize that every value that we assign to things is subjective, while also striving to be as objective as possible–objective, in this context, meaning “not allowing emotions to alter the value we ascribe.” Nietzsche would absolutely be an anarcho-capitalist if he lived today: Austrian economics is the application of this subjectivity to market values. Nietzsche spoke primarily of assigning moral values, but the principle is the same for market values, too, and he has long been recognized as an enemy of the state. It was Nietzsche, after all, who said:

Everything the state says is a lie, and everything it has, it has stolen.

If there’s anything that you should take away from this preamble, it’s that I understand Nietzsche and I understand what we call Nihilism. I am a nihilist. For the rest of the article, though, I don’t mean “nihilist” in that sense. I mean it in its Nietzschean sense: advocating ideas and opinions that are ultimately self-destructive. This is what Nietzsche meant when he characterized Christianity as nihilistic. From The Antichrist:

What is more harmful than any vice?–Practical sympathy for the botched and the weak–Christianity…

We Americans, too, are increasingly nihilistic, yet it has nothing to do with religion. It does have to do with the same thing that Nietzsche criticized, but I think Nietzsche was wrong here. I don’t think compassion is a problem; in fact, I encourage compassion. I think that we tend to come up with extremely short-sighted, non-functional solutions, propose them, and then tie our compassion to them, so much so that anyone who then disputes our proposed solution is written off as lacking compassion. That’s a bit long-winded and technical, so let me give an example.

I am against welfare. I am adamantly against stealing from one person to give their money to someone else, and this is what constitutes “welfare” in western society. Whether you think it’s just or not is irrelevant; that’s simply what happens. When I tell people that I am against welfare, I am universally met with the response of, “You just want poor people to starve to death?”

Published alongside me in V2: The Voluntary Voice was Matthew Weber, who told a story about his voluntaryist-oriented band played a show, and at one point said some anarchistic stuff. Someone threw a bottle at the drummer and shouted, “Without the state, where would I find housing?”

Without even being conscious of it, they have formed a false dichotomy where the choices are “the state” or “people starve and go homeless.”

Nietzsche wrote from a perspective that was, really, Beyond Good and Evil. He was not concerned with what he called Middle Class Morality–a profound realization in its own right, that the rich don’t abide morality because they don’t have to, and the poor don’t abide it because they don’t have the luxury. Nietzsche realized that morality is a luxury, and it is from here that we proceed, because compassion is also a luxury. The child starving to death surely has no compassion for the robbery of Kim Kardashian. The woman dying of cancer surely has no compassion for a stranger’s flu.

When people begin starving, morality is the first thing to be thrown away, as morality was the force responsible for creating the vacuum in which they went hungry. The man starving to death has no moral difficulty with stealing a loaf of bread. The family going hungry has no moral difficulty using the state to give to others for their own benefit. So, too, is my critique of this theft as immoral a luxury of the middle class–and my morality does not apply to them, because they have discarded it. When thrown with others into a survival trap like in the movie Saw, we would have no moral difficulty in poisoning the doctor to ensure our own survival.

Certainly, I would argue that it is good that we have our Middle Class Morality, and I argue that both the poor and the rich should have to abide it. Many Americans argue that the rich should have to, but leave the poor out of this requirement. We criticize Wells Fargo for stealing, basically, from its customers, yet we give a thumbs up to the poor who use the state to steal. My entire position as an anarchist is that everyone must follow this Middle Class Morality that forbids the use of force, violence, and coercion, and that this mandate must include the rulers–who so often are given a free pass to violate the tenets of our morality.

However, I am not concerned with what the middle class says is right or wrong. Here, as Nietzsche did, we focus our efforts higher than that, and go beyond that; we look instead at survival and the species. There is no one as nihilistic as millennials, and this is a problem that we must address.

Millennials despise people being rewarded for their effort.

Such a sweeping statement! And, obviously, it will not be true of all millennials–I am a millennial. However, it is true of the majority of them.

They embrace an economic system that deliberately does not reward people for their effort. It doesn’t matter how we dress it up. If a person believes that a doctor, an attorney, an engineer, a physicist, a Wal-Mart cashier, and a burger flipper deserve equal wages, then they ipso facto reject the notion that people should be rewarded for their effort.

As I wrote for Cubed3 regarding Star Fox Zero, this extends to most areas of life: millennials simply want to be given stuff, and they legitimately don’t understand why effort should be rewarded. We’re told that we’re entitled if we want the physicist to be rewarded for their years of training and education with a higher wage. We’re told that we’re entitled if we want the doctor to be rewarded for their years of training and education with a higher wage. And, yes, we’re told we’re entitled if we want the effort we put into beating a video game rewarded.

This mentality–that rewarding effort is bad–is the same one that gave us participation trophies, and it becomes nihilistic when we know that the primary reason that people do stuff… is for a reward. Psychology has made this abundantly clear. You don’t punish bad behavior; you reward good behavior. We all want to be rewarded; this is fundamental to being a human being, or a cat or a dog. We are dealing with primal forces that we cannot control here, and we cannot predict the longterm consequences of making sure that Billy, who sat in the grass eating bugs, gets exactly the same trophy as Michael, who hit fourteen homeruns. How hard will Michael work the next year, if he knows his effort won’t be rewarded or even acknowledged?

Donald Trump has been assaulted recently for making more lewd remarks about women, and for remarking on the fact that, when you’re a rich star, women tend to let you do whatever you want. Yes, they clearly do tend to:

This is the world we live in.Notice the words “tend to” here, and remember that we’re not speaking in absolutes. We’re never speaking in absolutes.

If Trump grabbed women who didn’t want to be grabbed, that’s an issue, and we can discuss that, but we can’t pretend like Trump is a monster because he uses his riches and fame to sleep with beautiful women. We hate Trump because he reminded us of what animals we are. He breaks that self-delusion that we are better than that, that we are greater than that, that we are more than animals.

But no. We’re not.

Donald Trump is a wolf who has filled his cave with dead prey, and is standing in front of the cave whistling at lady wolves, “Hey, baby! Look at all the prey that I got! Yeah, I did that. Don’t you want to let me fuck you?”

The greatest amusement to me are the guys who say, “No! I would never use my power and wealth to attempt to sleep with women.”

Yeah, well. Okay.

And that’s why you don’t have power and wealth.

Do you know why every human being does like 99% of the things they do? I’ll give you a hint.

SEX.

It’s not just men; it’s women, too. It’s humans, period. We are sexual creatures. The desire to reproduce is ubiquitous through us–even though we all deal with it in different ways–and it made us all very, very horny. It’s our Middle Class Morality that keeps us from fucking as the cats and dogs do, but it’s a constant battle against ourselves. Regardless of the question, “To get laid” is almost always the answer. Not always, but most of the time. It is an underlying motive for practically everything that humans do.

So why do some men seek riches and fame? To sleep with beautiful women.

This isn’t wrong. It can’t be wrong, because there are plenty of beautiful women who want to sleep with men who are rich and famous. I would guess that the lottery winner there lost his virginity to that woman and that no one slept with him when he wasn’t rich and famous. Suddenly he was, and suddenly found the love of his life.

Imagine that.

There’s a difference, obviously–there’s a large, unidentifiable difference between a woman who would be willing to sleep with a dude because he is rich, and a woman who would be disgusted by the idea. Donald Trump knows damned well that his female campaign manager would never sleep with him, regardless of how much money he has. I’m not defending Trump. I’m pointing out that there are things we have to accept and things we have to discuss, because trying to undo it is nihilistic.

If you take away the financial rewards of effort, then you take away the motivation of people to become rich so that they can have sex with supermodels. Can you imagine the wondrous innovations and technologies we have today because someone wanted to get laid?

Millennials hate the rich because the rich represent that: reward for effort. The rich are evil because they want their effort rewarded, and it’s selfish and entitled to want effort rewarded–but like totes 4 real not selfish and entitled to want to be rewarded without effort.

Millennials hate themselves, and because of this they are inclined to subconsciously adopt ideologies that are nihilistic and that would destroy us.

Millennials hate individual responsibility for the same reason. It’s all tied together. They hate themselves; they hate their own humanity. So they attempt to destroy it by denying that individual responsibility is a good thing, by denying that autonomy is a good thing, by denying that a person wants their effort rewarded, by denying that a person is motivated to put in effort by the rewards it offers. Yet all of these things are reasons our species survives to this day, and reasons that western society has thrived.

Hating these things is a luxury provided to them by the very things they hate.