A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Liberty’ Category

Rise Again

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The Spanish government dealt a blow to Catalonia last year when it brought the boot down on the autonomous community. However, while the Catalonians may be down, they’re not out:

MADRID/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Catalonia’s parliament nominated former leader Carles Puigdemont, sacked by Spain for unilaterally declaring independence, as candidate to rule the region again in a sign of defiance to Madrid and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government.

Puigdemont and his suporters say he can rule from self-imposed exile in Belgium, where he fled to in October to avoid arrest for his part in organising a banned referendum on a split from Spain and the consequent declaration of independence.

I’m glad to see that the Catalonian parliament, unlike any state level government in this country, has enough backbone to stand up against the national level of government. This move should also demonstrate to the Spanish government that it’s attempt to continue oppressing Catalonia isn’t likely to succeed. One of two things can happen when a government brings the boot down on its subjects. The first thing is that the subjects are frightened enough to roll over. However, if that doesn’t happen then more often than not the subjects are emboldened to resist further. In the latter case there is very little a government can do outside of wiping out the entire rebellious population.

In the long run, if the Catalonians keep up their current pace of resistance, Catalonia will will likely win its independence.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 24th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Mutual Aid in the Real World

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As an opponent of statism I’m often confronted with statists who want to know where welfare would come from without a government. Explaining how mutual aid has worked before governments involved themselves in the industry doesn’t appease them because they can simply write such examples off as archaic solutions that cannot work in the modern world. I therefore keep my eyes open for examples of mutual aid being practiced in the modern world.

I’ve been reading Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles. So far it has been a really good overview of modern history in various African countries. The opening of the chapter on Senegal introduced a fascinating Islamic Sufi order. From pages 255-256:

In 1895 the Senegalese Islamic mystic and poet Cheikh Amadu Bamba Mbacke got out of the boat that was taking him to exile in Gabon and, kneeling on a mat that appeared miraculously in the water, prayed to Allah. Then he walked across the water back to Senegal and founded a global African trading company based on Islamic principles. Those who work for it are known as Mourides. In any city in the world today, if an African street trader offers you jewellery, belts or bags, he is almost certainly a Mouride, a follow of Amadu Bamba.

[…]

The movement he founded is based on three rules: follow God, work and provoke no-one.

[…]

Later his followers founded dahiras, prayer circles where they could meet, socialize and read the Koran and Amadu Bamba’s poems. They were also required to pay a subscription to help follow members in trouble and to contribute to the expenses of the whole movement and its leader.

[…]

For rural people arriving in town for the first time, the dahira provides a base and a network. The subscription enables new members to find accommodations and work. If one of their number dies, it gives money to bring the body home for burial.

Furthermore, taxes aren’t paid in the city where the order was founded, an autonomous zone in Senegal. From pages 257-258:

One shopkeeper in a long robe and Muslim kufi, selling music CDs and tapes, tells me that he came here and joined the Mouride because no-on pays taxes in Tourba. ‘Touba is not part of the state,’ he says.

If there is a problem that requires money the Marabout calls a committee and they ask everyone to contribute. And immediately everyone gives, it’s called Adiya. They give because they follow the Marabout but also because if they give, people know the road will be fixed and the water will run again. This is not like Dakar … It’s all one family here. If you believe in the father, you believe in his sons. Then there is the money you pay for the poor here — two and a half percent of your profit, so no-one suffers.

Entrepreneurs who have setup a network of mutual aid to help other members of their entrepreneurial order? And membership in the order is voluntary? I’ve been told that such a thing is impossible.

I’m not claiming that Tourban is an anarchist utopia or that the Mouride are anarchists. But they are practicing a way of life that provides the commodities most people ascribe to statism without statism. The Mouride are demonstrating today that there is more than one solution to the problems statists mistakenly believe can only be solved by governments.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 12th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Decentralized the Internet

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I’m glad to see that other people are beginning to understand the need to decentralized the Internet:

Net neutrality as a principle of the federal government will soon be dead, but the protections are wildly popular among the American people and are integral to the internet as we know it. Rather than putting such a core tenet of the internet in the hands of politicians, whose whims and interests change with their donors, net neutrality must be protected by a populist revolution in the ownership of internet infrastructure and networks.

In short, we must end our reliance on big telecom monopolies and build decentralized, affordable, locally owned internet infrastructure. The great news is this is currently possible in most parts of the United States.

I’ve been saying this for years. If you want a feature like net neutrality, you have to control the infrastructure. Personally, I’d like to see a decentralized Internet that encrypts all traffic by default for both confidentiality and anonymity purposes. What people are calling net neutrality would be enforced by default on such a network because nobody could see the traffic to throttle or block it. However, it would come at a performance cost (TANSTAAFL).

One thing is certain, begging the Federal Communications Commission Fascist Communications Club (FCC) to enforce net neutrality isn’t a longterm solution as we’re seeing today. Under the Obama administration net neutrality was enforced by the FCC. Under the Trump administration it looks like it won’t be enforced. When the next administration comes into power it could go either way. Begging Congress isn’t any better because what one Congress passes a future Congress can eliminate.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 8th, 2017 at 11:00 am

A Modest Proposal to End Arguing Over Tax Legislation

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Now that they have power the Republicans are pushing through new tax legislation. If you listen to Republicans, the legislation will leave more money in all of our pockets’. If you listen to Democrats, the legislation will lead to the death of billions of people. However, like the Affordable Care Act, the tax legislation is being slammed through too fast for anybody to actually read so nobody can even refute the claims of everybody else. But that hasn’t stopped people from arguing incessantly.

Because I’m a peacemaker by nature, I’ve decided to make a modest proposal to end all of this arguing. That proposal is simple; let’s just abolish taxes.

Without taxes there is no need to argue about tax legislation. By abolishing taxes we can return trillions of hours of unproductive time to the American people so it can instead be used productively. Imagine the economic boom this country will enjoy with trillions of additional hours of labor!

Written by Christopher Burg

December 5th, 2017 at 11:00 am

When Voting Actually Matters It Becomes Illegal

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My dismal opinion of democracy is no secret. Part of the reason I have such a low opinion of democracy is because voters are handed an artificially restricted list of options and told that that list enables them to voice their opinion. However, if your opinion is that a governmental officer should be disbanded a ballot doesn’t give you the ability to voice your opinion. Moreover, if the people decided to voice an opinion that isn’t on an artificially restricted list of options, their act of voting is declared treason, sedition, or rebellion:

Spain’s chief prosecutor has called for charges including rebellion – which carries a maximum 30 year jail term – to be brought against Catalan leaders.

José Manuel Maza said they should also face sedition charges following the region’s declaration of independence.

When voting actually matters, i.e. when it causes actual radical change, it’s suddenly declared illegal by the government. Catalonia isn’t a unique example in this regard. Almost every attempt by a people to vote themselves out of a governmental body has been declared illegal by said governmental body.

As Max Stirner pointed out, “Whoever will be free must make himself free. Freedom is no fairy gift to fall into a man’s lap.” There is no checkbox on a ballot that will grant you your freedom. If you want to be free, you must overcome any attempt to curtail your freedom.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 31st, 2017 at 10:00 am

Claiming to Support Libertarianism and Closed Borders is Intellectually Inconsistent

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If you spend enough time in libertarian anarchist circles, you’ll come to recognize various factions. Two libertarian anarchist factions that like to fight with each other are the advocates of open borders (more specifically the advocates of abolishing governmental borders) and the intellectually inconsistent advocates of closed borders.

Whereas advocates of open borders recognize the State as wholly illegitimate, advocates of closed borders see the State as semi-legitimate. On the one hand, it steals from them (and everybody else), which makes it a violator of private property rights and therefore illegitimate. On the other hand, it subsidizes their security (with, I might point out, stolen money but I digress) by providing law enforcers and a military. If you talk to an advocate for closed borders, you probably won’t hear them discuss the fact that the State is subsidizing them (since that would be admitting government subsidies are good and they generally claim otherwise). They’ll give several other reasons why the State is acting legitimately by controlling its borders, usually with an argument that tries to muddle private property lines with government borders, but no amount of hand waving makes the fact that they want their security subsidized go away.

Where the argument for closed borders begins to really fall apart though is when you compared government borders to private property lines. Property lines, like borders, aren’t a real thing. In the terminology of Max Stirner, property lines are a phantasm or a spook. They exist entirely in our minds, not in the natural world. However, like many human concepts, property lines can serve a purpose, which is to avoid conflict over scarce resources. Two people cannot consume the same piece of bread so to avoid fighting over a piece of bread it’s expedient to say one piece is my property and one piece is your property. Conflict is avoided so long as both of us recognize each other’s property claim.

Government borders serve a similar purpose but the resources differ. While one might think that the raw resources within a government’s borders are what it’s trying to claim ownership over, in reality governments care little about the raw resources themselves. What governments care about are the people that harvest those resources. Governments are also phantasms. They’re a concept in our minds, not a thing that exists in the natural world. The people who call themselves government, on the other hand, do exist in the natural world and they don’t like to do work. Instead, like a mafioso, they prefer to skim a little off the top of other people’s work. The individuals who call themselves government don’t want to till the fields or mine the mountains, they want to take a percentage of the wealth created by the people who till the fields and mine the mountains. To the government the only meaningful resource is the human being.

A funny thing happens under libertarianism when a human being is being claimed as a resource. Under the concept of the non-aggression principle, which is the closest thing to a common philosophical foundation most branches of libertarianism can agree on, slavery is illegitimate. One person claiming ownership over another person becomes a violator of the non-aggression principle as soon as the person making the claim attempts to assert their claim. Governments continuously assert their claims of ownership, usually under various euphemisms such as enforcing the law, over people.

Since one human being is incapable of doing two things at the same time, governments periodically come into conflict with one another over what they want a group of human beings to do. What happens when one government decides that it wants a group of humans to farm its territory while another decides that it wants them to mine its territory? Conflict. To avoid conflict the individuals calling themselves government have take the concept of private property lines and relabeled them national borders. Governmental borders quite literally exist to avoid conflict over human property. Since enforcing a claim of ownership over another human being is considered illegitimate under libertarianism, supporting the division of human property cannot be consider legitimate under libertarianism in any consistent manner.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 20th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Catalonia Declared Independence

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Yesterday the region of Catalonia declared its independence from Spain:

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and other regional politicians signed a document declaring Catalonia’s independence from Spain, but it was unclear if the document would have any legal value.

“Catalonia restores today its full sovereignty,” says the document, called “declaration of the representatives of Catalonia.”

“We call on all states and international organizations to recognize the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state. We call on the Catalan government to take all necessary measures to make possible and fully effective this declaration of independence and the measures contained in the transition law that founds the republic.”

I’m amused by the article noting that it’s unclear if the document has any legal value. Legal value to who? If the question is in regards to Spain, then the document has no legal value because as far as Spain is concerned it is illegal for any territory within its realm to leave. If the question is in regards to Catalonia, then the document has legal value because the Catalans believe that they have a right to secede from Spain.

The actual question of importance is, what will Spain’s response be? Spain must decide to either recognize Catalonia’s independence (officially or unofficially) or forcefully prevent Catalonia from operating independently. If Spain chooses the former, Catalonia becomes independent regardless of legality. If Spain chooses the latter, there very well could be a civil war.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 13th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Catalonia Claiming to Declare Independence in a Matter of Days

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It seems that Spain’s clubs failed to break the spirits of Catalans. Even though Spanish law enforcers beat down over 800 people, Catalonia is still planning to declare its independence:

Catalonia will declare independence from Spain in a matter of days, the leader of the autonomous region has told the BBC.

In his first interview since a disputed vote on Sunday, Carles Puigdemont said his government would “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next”.

If the Catalan government follows through with its promise, Spain will have to either acquiesce or use force. Judging by its response to the vote, I’m lead to believe that Spain isn’t planning to acquiesce. Needless to say, this could escalate into a civil war. Hopefully Spain will recognize the fact that it has no right to claim ownership of Catalonia or its people and steps aside. But history has shown that few government will recognize or admit to their illegitimacy.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 4th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Secession is Good for the Soul

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I’ve written about Catalonia’s strive for independence from Spain on several occasions. But Catalonia isn’t the only region trying to break away from a larger government. The Kurds in northern Iraq are also trying to break away from Iraq:

People living in northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence for the Kurdistan Region in Monday’s controversial referendum.

The electoral commission said 92% of the 3.3 million Kurds and non-Kurds who cast their ballots supported secession.

The announcement came despite a last-minute appeal for the result to be “cancelled” from Iraq’s prime minister.

As with every vote related to independence, this vote isn’t binding. But it does show the amount of support in northern Iraq for independence, which will hopefully give proponents for secession more motivation and hope.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

In a Democracy Everybody Has a Say

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Take a look at the current political landscape. We have national socialists and international socialists doing battle openly. College campuses are currently deciding how much free speech they should allow. The harden the fuck up crowd and the snowflake crowd aren’t terribly pleased with each other. There are a lot of rifts between Americans today and they’re only becoming wider and more numerous. What makes these rifts worse is the fact that deciding which side will win on the political battlefield won’t be done by rigorous debate to decide the pros and cons of each idea, it will be decided by a popularity contest:

“Democracy,” H. L. Mencken once said, “is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” He also famously defined an election as “an advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

Mencken was not opposed to democracy. He simply possessed a more sobering view of its limitations than today’s conventional wisdom.

Indeed, democracy may be the world’s single most oversold concept of political governance. Commonly yet erroneously romanticized, it is assumed in most circles to ensure far more than it possibly can. The Norman Rockwell portrait of engaged, informed citizens contending freely on behalf of the common good is the utopian ideal that obscures the messy details of reality.

I’m sure you’ve all heard George Carlin’s quote, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. Democracy is a mechanism that empowers people in large groups to do stupid things. One of the biggest flaws in democracy is the fact that it gives everybody an equal say in matters. Considering almost everybody on this planet, including myself, is incompetent when it comes to a vast majority of things, giving everybody an equal say in every matter is a recipe for disaster. The United States’ economic policies are probably the best illustration of this. Most people are incompetent when it comes to economics, which is why they’re willing to support a lot of really bad economic policies.

I think the best example of the power of stupid people in large groups is the fact that a majority of people still claim that democracy is a great system. Hell, a majority of the people who claim that the current state of the United States, which was created through democracy, is deplorable still claim that democracy is a great system. These people are simply parroting what they’ve been told. They’ve put almost no critical thought into the idea of democracy. Yet their voice on the matter is treated equally to everybody else’s, even the people who have done a great deal of research on democracy.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 1st, 2017 at 11:00 am