A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Individualism’ Category

Rights are Imaginary

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I recently came across an image on Facebook that sums up the true nature of rights.

To quote George Carlin, “Folks I hate to spoil your fun, but there’s no such thing as rights. They’re imaginary. We made them up. Like the boogie man. Like Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio, Mother Goose, shit like that. Rights are an idea. They’re just imaginary.”

If you ask 10 different people to list the rights every human being has, you’ll almost certainly end up with 10 different lists. This is because rights are a concept that exist solely in our heads. One person may believe that each individual has a right to keep and bear arms. Another person may believe that each individual has a right to safety, which they may also believe trumps any claims that there is a right to keep and bear arms.

I’m fond of saying that you have what rights you can convince others to acknowledge. You only have a “right” to free speech if you can convince others not to interfere with your speech. You only have a “right” to a refuse a search if you can convince others not to search you. When proponents of the Second Amendment write or call politicians, they’re trying to convince those politicians to agree with the concept that each individual has a right to keep and bear arms. While most proponents of the Second Amendment won’t admit that there really isn’t a right to keep and bear arms, they acknowledge this fact through their actions of requesting that politicians not violate their right (any further). Less a gun control advocate jump up and scream, “Ah ha,” let me also point out that proponents of the First Amendment, which many gun control advocates claim to be, acknowledge the fact that they don’t have a right to free speech every time they request that politicians not violating their right (any further).

Rights, like laws, may exist on paper but their existence stops there. If you can convince others to respect your concept of rights, then your concept of rights perhaps won’t be violated. But if you fail to convince others to respect your rights, your concept of rights will be violated.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 3rd, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Individualism

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You Are Not the Company for Which You Work

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How much are you willing to put up with from your employer? Apparently Facebook’s and Google’s employees are willing to put up with a lot:

For low-paid contractors who do the grunt work for big tech companies, the incentive to keep silent is more stick than carrot. What they lack in stock options and a sense of corporate tribalism, they make up for in fear of losing their jobs.

One European Facebook content moderator signed a contract, seen by the Guardian, which granted the company the right to monitor and record his social media activities, including his personal Facebook account, as well as emails, phone calls and internet use. He also agreed to random personal searches of his belongings including bags, briefcases and car while on company premises. Refusal to allow such searches would be treated as gross misconduct.

Following Guardian reporting into working conditions of community operations analysts at Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin, the company clamped down further, he said.

Contractors would be questioned if they took photographs in the office or printed emails or documents. “On more than one occasion someone would print something and you’d find management going through the log to see what they had printed,” said one former worker.

Socialists are quick to blame working conditions described in the article on capitalism. However, the paranoia demonstrated by government owned and operating factories in socialist nations indicates that this behavior isn’t unique to capitalist employers. I believe that working conditions like those described in the article are a product employees not recognizing their own worth and that they’re not the company for which they work.

Let’s address the first part, an employee’s worth. The employer-employee relationship under capitalism is far more balanced than socialists like to admit publicly. While socialists won’t publicly admit that the employer-employee relationship is balanced they do acknowledge it in their strategies because their strategies are built on employee actions such as strikes and, in the case of more radical socialists, sabotage. Strikes rely entirely on the fact that an employer is reliant on their employees.

If a large percentage of Google’s and Facebook’s employees quit, both companies would suffer a great deal. Facilities deteriorate without maintenance personnel. Software can’t be written without developers. Web infrastructure tends to fail without information technology personnel to maintain it. Without employees to perform all the daily tasks that keep Google and Facebook running, both companies would grid to a halt.

An employee’s worth extends beyond the confines of whatever company they’re working for at a given moment. If they’re even mediocre at performing their job, they can generally find employment elsewhere, especially if they have a big name like Google or Facebook on their resume. Many employees let themselves become psychologically reliant on their employer. It’s like they believe that their the skills they’ve developed can be seized by their employer if they leave. Skills are something you take with you when you leave an employer, which is why employees shouldn’t be afraid to walk away from an employer.

If your employer is treating you poorly, take your skills to another employer or use them to start your own business.

Now let’s address the second part, the fact that an employee is not the company for which they work. I think I can best summarize this with a meme.

If the company an employee works for makes major profits, they may not see any additional pay. The profits go to the person who is taking the risks, the employer. On the surface this may look like a raw deal for employees but it offers them a great deal of freedom. If the company goes bust, the employer goes broke but the employees get to walk away with any money they’ve made and skills they’ve developed. In other words the success of an employee isn’t dependent on the success of any single employer. That being the case, employees should recognize that they’re effectively mercenaries and that their loyalty should be first and foremost to themselves.

If your employer is treating you poorly, don’t let a sense of loyalty to them stop you from abandoning ship. Instead let your sense of loyalty to yourself motivate you to abandon ship and either seek a better employer or start your own business.

I believe if employees recognized their own worth and that they’re not the company for which they work, employers would be far more hesitant to establish working conditions like those described in the article due to the fear of pissing off their employees enough to convince them to leave.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 21st, 2018 at 11:00 am

Read a Book

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Believe it or not, every once in a while somebody will ask me how I know so much about a given topic. My answer to them is always that I’ve read a book on the topic:

If you want to be stronger, more powerful, and the driving force in your own life; if you want not to be tossed by every wind, irritated by every opinion, persuaded by every protest, losing your self in the presence of dynamic people, read more books.

The more concepts, metaphors, and ideas you fill yourself with, the broader your conceptual and verbal language, the better you know yourself and navigate a world populated with the selves of others.

If you don’t dive into long-form ideas regularly, you won’t know how to think them or respond to them.

I’ve been told that I’m a bastard in debates. I don’t attribute that to my knowledge or skill but to other people’s lack of knowledge and skill. Most debates today seem to take the form of parties throwing soundbites or memes at each other. An anarchist will argue that governments need to be eliminated entirely and a statist will respond by asking who will build the roads. Neither party will likely go beyond those soundbites. However, if either party is well read on the topic, they will have a significant advantage because they’ll have the foundational knowledge that both soundbites are built on. Having such familiarity with their argument and their opponent’s argument will allow them to utterly crush their opponent.

YouTube and Wikipedia are great for general overviews but if you really want to arm yourself with detailed knowledge, you should read books.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 28th, 2018 at 11:00 am

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Laws Are Irrelevant

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When you allow yourself to succumb to magical thinking, such as believing that society is a thing in of itself, you leave yourself vulnerable to other magical thoughts such as believing that laws are what establish safety and stability.

Whenever an act of violence makes it to the front pages of news sites, a lot of people start demanding laws be passed to protect people. When I see such demands being made in comment sections on the websites I frequent, I like to point out that laws are just words on pieces of paper and have no power to protect anybody. The believers in law then point out, as if I was unaware, that my argument should apply to all laws. They mistakenly believe that I’m only talking about whatever law they’re proposing but their rebuttal is correct, as I point out, I am talking about all laws. After that the believers in law tend to have a psychological breakdown and start screaming about how laws are what makes society possible.

Laws are not what make society possible. First of all, society isn’t an actual thing, it’s an abstraction that lives entirely in our imaginations. What most people commonly refer to as society is actually a complex collection of human interactions. And therein lies the truth of the matter. Laws aren’t what make those interactions possible. The will of the individuals is. The reason these complex collections of human interactions don’t regularly devolve into mass murder is because the individuals will it not to. It is you and your neighbor deciding not to kill each other that prevents either from being murdered at the hands of the other.

The impotency of laws is demonstrated every time a murder is committed. Murder has been declared illegal in pretty much every nation on Earth. But words on pieces of paper can’t interfere with an individual’s will. If an individual wills an act of murder, a murder will be attempted. I say attempted because realizing on a subconscious level that the law is incapable of protecting them the intended murder victim will likely attempt to defend themselves. Again, the law doesn’t offer them protection, their will to act does.

Even if every law were repealed tomorrow, people would still choose to act against those who act against them or others. That is what establishes safety and stability.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Identifying Yourself with a Group Is Exhausting

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People really like identifying themselves with groups. We have a lot of self-proclaims libertarians, communists, atheists, theists, gamers, intellectuals, and so on. While these labels can serve as a sort of shorthand for explaining one’s beliefs, hobbies, etc., it seems like a majority of the time spent by individuals who identify themselves with groups is denouncing all of the other individuals who also identify themselves with the same group.

Consider the self-proclaimed libertarian. He may not have a racist bone in his body but he may be accused of being a racist by somebody who doesn’t identify themselves as a libertarian. Why? Because another self-proclaimed libertarian has openly espoused racist ideals and identity politics is all about guilt by association. So our hypothetical self-proclaimed libertarian must denounce the racist self-proclaimed libertarian. They might claim that racism and libertarianism are incompatible. They might claim that the racist isn’t a real libertarian for other reasons. They might apply an additional label, such as paleo-libertarian, to create distance between their libertarianism and the racist’s libertarianism. This is a lot of work. I know, I’ve been there.

The problem with identifying yourself with a group is that different people define different groups using different criteria. A self-proclaimed libertarian may define libertarianism as a belief in private property or the non-aggression principle. A self-proclaimed communist, on the other hand, may define libertarianism as a belief system that allows racism to thrive.

As a naturally lazy person, I’ve reached a point where I’d rather avoid all of the work identifying myself with a group entails. And, frankly, life is too short to fret about imaginary nonsense.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 15th, 2018 at 11:00 am

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Imaginary Collectives of People

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There are few things in the universe as precious as an edgy atheist who makes a snide remark about imaginary sky people only to turn around and discuss societies, cultures, and other imaginary concepts as if they were real.

These individuals usually claim to have given themselves over entirely to reason. If something cannot be proven, they claim to not believe in it. Despite their claims though, most of them believe in plenty of things that can’t be proven. As I’ve noted numerous times before, there is no way to prove societies exist because societies, like all collectives of humanity, are concepts that only exists in our head. Ditto for cultures. In reality there are only individual human beings. Any attempt to treat individual human beings as a cohesive group becomes a fiction.

Thus I’m lead to conclude that most of these self-proclaimed atheists are actually theists but instead of, as they put it, believing in imaginary sky people they believe in imaginary collectives of people.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 14th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Technology Isn’t the Problem, You Are

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Earlier this year several of Apple’s investors tried to pressure the company into working to combat iPhone addiction. This proposal makes sense, right? After all, Apple has created an addicting product so shouldn’t it take responsibility for its creation? No on both accounts. Why? Because Apple isn’t at fault, its users who have become addicted to its devices are:

I know intimately that if we want to achieve tech-life balance, people must start taking responsibility for their choices. No one is forcing consumers to buy an iPhone, use Facebook, stare at Twitch, masturbate to porn or any of the other millions of things you can do with technology. Every single one of those actions is a choice we make, and if there is one lesson from addiction treatment that everyone should hear it is that it is nearly impossible to help someone who doesn’t want help.

Apple isn’t forcing you to buy or use an iPhone. In fact, unlike government, no technology company is forcing you to use its product. Just like alcohol, you have a choice whether or not you use an iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, or any number of other technology products. If you’re an alcoholic, then you need to take responsibility for your actions. Likewise, if you’re addicted to a technology product, then you have to take responsibility for your actions.

Addiction isn’t a legal or technological problem. An addict will find ways to work around any external controls that are placed on them. Heroine addicts manage to get their fix even though their drug of choice is illegal. iPhone addicts will turn off or bypass any technological controls that Apple puts into place. Breaking an addiction requires an addict to first admit that they have a problem and then to personally take actions to break their addiction. The choice to overcome an addiction needs to be made by an addict, not by an outside party.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 6th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Dedicate the Year to Personal Greatness

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Welcome to 2018. America seems to be starting off the year the same as it starts off most years. Law enforcers continue to act without accountability, the endless wars in the Middle East continue to be waged, and the dollar continues to fall in purchasing power. However, you can’t control any of those things. What you can control is yourself so why not dedicate this year to personal greatness?

Have you always told yourself that you’re going to start working out? Start working out today. Have you been thinking about reading a particular book? Start reading it today. Have you been thinking about learning that new skill so you can make more money? Start learning it today.

While you can’t control the actions of others, you can control your own so why not make yourself superior to everybody else?

Written by Christopher Burg

January 2nd, 2018 at 10:00 am

Individual Morality and Consequences

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As a radical individuals I don’t subscribe to the idea of objective morality. If such a thing as objective morality existed, the human race would have had no choice by to agree with each on the matter. But if you ask 10 individuals to describe their beliefs of what is moral and what is immoral, you’ll likely hear 10 different systems of morality.

When I express my disbelief in objective morality, especially to libertarians, I’m usually met with a lengthy explanation of how a world without objective morality would devolved into a world of murder, rape, and pillage. It’s the same argument Christians often make against atheists. Without a belief in God, they believe people will just murder, rape, and pillage. However, people who make these arguments make two mistakes. First, they assume that all morality must be established by an outside force. Second, they believe morality and consequences are interchangeable.

My disbelief in objective morality doesn’t mean I don’t have a system of morals. As I noted above, if you ask 10 individuals to describe their moral beliefs, you’re likely to get 10 different answers. Each of those individuals will express a system of morality to you, indicating that they do have an established system of morality, but disagree on the definitions of moral and immoral. They will disagree on the definitions precisely because they have established their own system. While their system may be heavily influenced by outside forces, such as philosophy, it is a system unique to them. I, for example, have a self-defined system of morality. While I think that it’s a pretty good system and the world would be a better place if everybody lived by it, I have no way to prove objectively that it is a good system and the world would be a better place if everybody lived by it.

The second failure objective moralists often fall into is treating morality and consequences as interchangeable concepts. While an absence of a moral system may give an individual the excuse to murder, rape, and pillage, they very well might avoid performing those actions because they realize doing so could lead to severe consequences. If you try to murder or rape somebody, they might kill you in self-defense. If you try to pillage a neighborhood, the people living there might kill you in self-defense. Even if you managed to get away with such actions, somebody is likely to search for you or hire somebody to search for you so that their idea of justice can be exacted. Even sociopaths tend to understand that actions have consequences and that can often regulate their behavior.

Socialists and libertarians strongly disagree on what constitutes morality. Even though they disagree on morality they can often live together in relative peace. Why? Because they both recognize that their actions have consequences. If a socialist tries to appropriate a libertarian’s means of production, the libertarian might use violence to dissuade the socialist. Likewise, if a libertarian decides that a group of socialists is a threat to their private property and attempts to use violence against them, the socialists may respond with violence of their own.

Just because somebody doesn’t believe in objective morality, or morality of any kind, doesn’t mean they’re going to murder, rape, and pillage.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

What I Need Is None of Your Business

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I was involved in yet another debate about gun control that lead to the inevitable question of why I need and AR-15. This has to be one of the most entitle and pointless questions one can ask.

First, where do they get off thinking that they’re in a position where I have to justify anything to them? Nobody has declared them emperor as far as I know.

Second, why does it matter? Humans need food, water, clothing, and shelter to survive. Beyond that everything else is a luxury. You don’t need a television, cell phone, couch, bed, etc. They’re damned nice to have but you won’t die with out them. So asking why somebody else needs something is pointless because need is obviously not a criteria for legality.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 21st, 2017 at 11:00 am