A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Not So Crazy Libertarian Ideals’ tag

Why Collectivism is Doomed to Fail

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Nazism is in the headlines again because there are people who still take the ideology seriously. The fact that anybody takes Nazism seriously is evidence that not enough people have read Ludwig von Mises. Mises thoroughly destroyed Nazism in his book Omnipotent Government. One of the most important points he made was that Nazism, due to its foundational principles, was doomed to eternal strife:

The strong man, say the Nazis, is not only entitled to kill. He has the right to use fraud, lies, defamation, and forgery as legitimate weapons. Every means is right that serves the German nation. But who has to decide what is good for the German nation?

To this question the Nazi philosopher replies quite candidly: Right and noble are what I and my comrades deem such, are what the sound feelings of the people (das gesunde Volksempfinden) hold good, right, and fair. But whose feelings are sound and whose unsound? About that matter, say the Nazis, there can be no dispute between genuine Germans.

But who is a genuine German? Whose thoughts and feelings are genuinely German and whose are not? Whose ideas are German ones—those of Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller, or those of Hitler and Goebbels? Was Kant, who wanted eternal peace, genuinely German? Or are Spengler, Rosenberg, and Hitler, who call pacifism the meanest of all ideas, genuine Germans?

There is dissension among men to whom the Nazis themselves do not deny the appellation German. The Nazis try to escape from this dilemma by admitting that there are some Germans who unfortunately have un-German ideas. But if a German does not always necessarily think and feel in a correct German way, who is to decide which German’s ideas are German and which un-German? It is obvious that the Nazis are moving in a circle. Since they abhor as manifestly un-German decision by majority vote, the conclusion is inescapable that according to them German is whatever those who have succeeded in civil war consider to be German.

This isn’t a problem exclusive to Nazism. Any philosophy that defines what is right or wrong by the “will” of a collective will suffer this exactly problem.

Another thing that Mises pointed out is, “All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.” A collective has no will. It cannot think, reason, or act. Individuals within a collective can think, reason, and act but the collective itself is nothing more than an abstraction. Discussing the “will of the people” is nonsense.

But the abstractions don’t stop there. Once somebody allows themselves to believe that a collective can have a will they inevitably start grouping individuals into various collectives. Usually these collectives are poorly defined. In Mises’ book he points out how poorly defined “genuine German” was. Under Marxism people are grouped into either the proletariat or the bourgeoisie. In the Soviet Union the government threw anybody it didn’t like into a catchall group called kulaks. What constitutes a genuine German, proletariat, bourgeoisie, or kulak? It depends on who gets to define those collectives. Usually the “good” groups, like genuine Germans and proletariat, are defined as “everybody who agrees with me” whereas the “bad” groups, like bourgeoisie and kulaks, are defined as “everybody who disagrees with me.”

The national socialists in this country are already busy defining their collectives. They obvious hold anybody who is white in the highest regard. However, if one happens to be both white and Jewish then they are relegated to the dregs of society because, according to national socialists, Jews are the lowest collective. I’m not sure how Asians rank in their system although I know they certainly rank below whites. Blacks certainly rank pretty low in the national socialist system although I think the current consensus amongst its proponents is that they’re still slightly higher than Jews. These definitions, being abstractions, will shift over time as new people gain influence amongst national socialists. The definition of each race will shift as well as the ranking of the defined races amongst each other. And, of course, battle for influence amongst national socialists will involve a lot of arguments over the minutiae with insults of people who disagree being “race traitors.”

Collectivism is doomed to fail because it relies on poorly defined abstractions. Any system that ignores reality in favor of arbitrarily defined abstractions will implement policies that don’t work in the real world and will therefore eventually collapse.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 15th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Voluntary Association Strikes Again

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A white supremacist website, the Daily Stormer, ran into a hiccup yesterday. The website’s domain registrar, GoDaddy, informed the site administrators that it no longer wished to associate with them and that they had 24 hours to move to another registrar. So the administrators moved the domain name to Google and was then informed by Google that it had no desire to associate with them:

For years, the website Daily Stormer has promoted hatred against Jews, black people, LGBT people, and other minorities, making it one of the Internet’s most infamous destinations. But on Sunday, editor Andrew Anglin outdid himself by publishing a vulgar, slut-shaming article about Heather Heyer, a woman who was killed when someone rammed a car into a crowd of anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville.

The article prompted a response from the site’s domain registrar, GoDaddy. “We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service,” GoDaddy wrote in a tweet late Sunday night.

On Monday, the Daily Stormer switched its registration to Google’s domain service. Within hours, Google announced a cancellation of its own. “We are cancelling Daily Stormer’s registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service,” the company wrote in an statement emailed to Ars.

As the article points out, the website isn’t likely to go offline because of this. Both Wikileaks and The Pirate Bay have a long history of having to jump from registrar to registrar to stay online. However, it is nice that GoDaddy and Google have the ability to decide that they no longer wish to associate with the Daily Stormer. But voluntary association is one of those things that people seem to love only when it benefits them or their causes. As soon as voluntary association clashes with people or their causes they quickly move to demand that the association be mandated by government.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 15th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Importance of Values

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Ken White wrote a great post that rebuts those who believe the government should curtail certain types of speech. It’s especially timely since, as he points out, we’ve reached the bottom of one hypothetical slippery slope brought up by proponents of government restricted speech: Nazis marching down the streets of American cities.

But you cannot destroy a value in order to save it. Nazis — like terrorists — hope that we will abandon principles and fundamentally change who we are out of fear. Assault is assault, threats are threats, murder is murder, and all of them should be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. The allowance for self-defense by those threatened by Nazis should reasonably be generous. But despicable speech is protected by the First Amendment, and should remain so. Our present circumstances show why it is sheer terrified madness to entrust a broad power to prevent or punish speech upon a fickle state. We’ve flirted with that madness of abandoning rights in pursuit of safety for our nation’s whole life. The flirtation has turned sordid and degrading during the War on Crime and frankly self-destructive after 9/11. It would be philosophical suicide to hasten it now by giving a government — a visibly terrible and amoral government — the power to regulate speech. This is the final hypothetical come to pass: if the state asked you to give up freedoms in exchange for a dubious promise it would make you safer, would you do it? Would you convince yourself that the state would only use the power against Them, and not you?

Handing the government more power always sounds like a good idea when the people you agree with are in charge of that government. But that power looks frightening when its in the hands of the people you disagree with.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 15th, 2017 at 10:00 am

A Debate Between National and International Socialism is Hardly a Debate

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In America, much like in Europe, the concept of individualism is almost entirely absent. The political spectrum is synonymous with the socialist spectrum. On the left are the international socialists. On the right are the national socialists. Since the end of World War II, due to their side losing the war, proponents of national socialism have been more or less relegated to the shadows. That has started to change since the election of Donald Trump. The national socialists believe they were critical in getting Trump elected so they also believe that they have a great deal of influence and power, which is probably part of the reason why they are crawling out of the shadows and onto the streets:

Chanting “blood and soil,” “white lives matter” and “you will not replace us,” scores of white nationalists holding torches marched across the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night.

Scuffles broke out between them and a small group of counter-protesters calling themselves “anti-fascists” who were surrounded as they demonstrated in advance of Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, which is expected to be one of the largest far-right gatherings in the U.S. in at least a decade.

As you’re probably aware, the Unite the Right rally didn’t remain peaceful. Several scuffles broke out and one person drove a car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring 19. This shouldn’t have surprised anybody though since this was a political rally and politics is nothing more than a ritualized form of violence.

It seems like most people have either sided with the national socialists or the protesters. If there is a silver lining to this two-sided split it’s that it has revealed many of the crypto-statists who have been hiding amongst the anarcho-capitalists. I’m not a fan of purges but I am a fan of duplicitous people outing themselves. Unfortunately, this being the United States, the protesters seem to be primarily made up of international socialists, which differ from their national socialists brethren only in minor ways.

Under national socialism you’re either a member of the nation and gain the “benefits” of socialism or you’re relegated to the slave class, which means you’re forced to provide the resources necessary for the members of the nation, executed, or the former followed by the latter. What defines a member of the nation or the slave class is largely arbitrary. American national socialists put a lot of emphasis on race, which they also define rather arbitrarily. For example, if you’re white, you’re likely considered a member of the nation… unless you happen to be Jewish as well. This sounds familiar doesn’t it? Replace “member of the nation” with proletariat and “slave class” with bourgeoisie and you have international socialism. So the political debate here in the United States is one of arbitrarily defined definitions.

The only way out of this socialist death spiral is a resurgence of individualism. But if there’s an ideology that is less popular than national socialism here in the United States, it’s individualism. Because while national and international socialists have their disagreements, they can both agree that people who view the individual, not the collective, as supreme are a threat to their power and beliefs and therefore must be exterminated. Since the only alternative to socialism is relegated to the shadows the predominant political debate in this country will hardly be a debate at all.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Want to Say Whatever You Want? Pursue Entrepreneurship!

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I’m not a fan of bitching for bitching’s sake. When problems arise I like to propose solutions. Since a lot of libertarians have suddenly become aware of the power an employer has over an employee I feel as though the time is right to reiterate something. If an employer can fire and employee for what they’ve said, how can an individual speak their mind? The answer, as agorists known, is entrepreneurship.

Samuel Edward Konkin III periodically discussed wage labor. He gave wage labor credit but also pointed out that there was something even better: entrepreneurship. In his rebuttal to Rothbard’s criticism of agorism, Konkin touched on that very subject. As a wage laborer one is subject to the person paying their wage. As an independent contractor, an entrepreneur, one is subject to themselves. While an independent contractor may gain and lose contracts based on what they’ve said, they don’t find themselves tossed to the street with nothing in hand because they own their own means of production. If they lose one contract, they can seek another and may already have other ongoing contracts that keep them going.

The more aspects of your life you personally control, the more freedom you can enjoy. If you want to enjoy more freedom to say controversial things, pursue entrepreneurship. If you’re your own boss, you don’t have to worry about being terminated over what you’ve said.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 11th, 2017 at 11:00 am

You Win Some, You Lose Some

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I’ve seen a few of my libertarian friends announce that they’re moving away from Google in response to the company firing the engineer who issued that now famous manifesto about gender.

On the one hand, I count this as a win. I’ve been encouraging people to leave Google’s surveillance platform for years now.

On the other hand, I count this as a loss. Apparently the fact that Google makes its money off of spying on its users and often provides the information it has collected to law enforcement (not necessarily by choice) wasn’t enough to dissuade a lot of libertarians from using Google’s services. But the company deciding it no longer wants to associate with an employee? That’s downright unacceptable!

You win some, you lose some.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 11th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Lead by Example

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My earlier post about the bakers that refused to bake a Trump theme cake lead me to another thought. I oppose discrimination. Personally, I find disassociating with somebody because of their race, religion, gender, age, etc. to be a form of collectivism and you know how much I hate collectivism. Even though I oppose discrimination I also oppose forcing people to associate with people they don’t want to associate with. This puts me at odds with a lot of people who oppose discrimination. In their eyes, because of my unwillingness to use force to solve what I see as a problem, I don’t actually oppose discrimination but merely pay lip service to doing so. This is a common argument between people who use force to get what they want and people who try to convince people that what they want is a good thing.

Most of the people I know who identify themselves as alt-right really dislike me because I don’t believe pushing national socialists out of helicopters is an effective way to bring about an individualist society. How can I claim to be a serious anti-collectivist if I’m not willing to kill collectivists? As I’ve said before, the ends reflect the means. If you use force to make people bend to your will, you’re not moving individual freedom forward. In the end you’ll simply replace one tyranny with another form of tyranny.

Discrimination is similar in that regard. If you force, say, a white man who is racist against blacks to associate with blacks, you have furthered discrimination. Of course, some will say that discrimination against white racists is acceptable just as many alt-righters will say that violence against collectivists is acceptable. However, the problem of discrimination hasn’t actually been solved, it has just been amplified. Instead of there being a white man who discriminates against blacks we now have him and a government that discriminates against white racists. Simply forcing somebody to act against their will doesn’t solve the problem. At best it will conceal the problem, at worst it will motivate the target to increase the severity of their actions in an act of rebellion.

How can discrimination be reduced without coercion? First, if you want to protect a discriminated group from violence, help makes of that group harder targets. Teach them how to defend themselves, help them organization mutual defense groups, walk them through the process of obtaining a carry permit and firearm, etc. That increases the cost of violently discriminating against them. Second, lead by example. Choose your friends by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Do business with people who are being discriminated against. Stand by them when somebody is discriminating against them. Show everybody who watches you that your life has benefited from not discriminating.

This applies to anything. If you want to advance individual freedom, lead by example. Live a life as free as you can, discuss the benefits of individual freedom with statists, and continue to educate yourself about individual freedom so that you can answer questions put forth by both sympathizers and critics. Make yourself what you want to see in the world. If people see that your benefiting from your way of life, they may decide that your way of life isn’t as terrible as they expected it to be and come around to your way of thinking. Then the problem you perceive will actually be solved instead of covered up or amplified.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 11:00 am

A Disturbance in the Bordertarian Force

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Bordertarians, a term I like for referring to “libertarians” who advocate for closed borders, were on the receiving end of some rather hilarious karma. Members of the band Backwordz, a band that raps about libertarian concepts, was recently ejected from Canada:

One of the people sympathetic to this idea, Eric July of the libertarian-themed band Backwordz, was on his way to a gig in Canada with the rest of his bandmates when they were stopped and held at the border going into Canada.

They were denied entry into the country. They were turned around. They have to cancel their date in Toronto.

One of the members of the band had a DUI on his record and, according to Canadian law, enough time had not passed to allow him entry into the country with that mark on his record.

The border was closed to them.

Justifiably, Eric July was not at all happy about what had happened. That seems like a ridiculous rule to have in place. But more importantly, an uninvited third party, the government of Canada, stepped in between Eric July and the venue that was supposed to host Backwordz. Without any actual authority to do so, they prevented the concert from occurring even though none of the private property owners involved had any issue over the arrangement.

For some reason this has upset some bordertarians. It turns out that they didn’t quite understand what closed borders entail.

In the fantasy utopia of bordertarians, governments pass laws that prevent people they don’t like from entering the country but allow people they do like to enter the country. But that’s not how things work here in the real world. When governments can decide who can and cannot cross their imaginary lines the people aren’t given a say. If, for example, the government decides that people with a DUI charge are prohibited from entering the country even if a majority of the people living in that country find such a rule stupid, people with DUI charges don’t get to enter the country.

As a radical individualist, I oppose any interference with voluntary association, which means I necessarily oppose closed borders. In my world, unlike the world of bordertarians, Backwordz would have been able to play its show because the venue wanted them to play there. The venue’s desire to associate with the band is all that should be needed for Backwordz to play there.

You reap what you sow. If you’re a bordertarian, you should be jumping for joy at this news since a government did exactly what you advocated.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Voluntary Association

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If a homosexual couple asks a baker who is a devout Christian to bake their wedding cake and he refuses for religious reasons, should the State force him to bake the cake? A lot of people, predominantly those on the progressive side of the political spectrum but even some self-proclaimed libertarians, would say yes. Now let’s turn this around. Let’s say the mother of a child who is a fan of Donald Trump asks a baker who hates Trump to bake her son a Trump themed cake, should the baker be required to bake it:

Nine-year-old Dylan Harbin, aka “Pickle,” is such a big fan of President Donald Trump that his mother SueAnn tried to get him a Trump cake for his birthday. However, according to the Washington Post, bakeries in the Harbins’ home state of California have refused to make the cake, forcing the mother to bake the cake herself.

Interestingly enough, some of the people who wanted the State to force a Christian baker to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage don’t hold the same opinion in regards to this scenario.

I support the principle of voluntary association, which includes voluntary disassociation. A devout Christian should be allowed to not bake a cake for a wedding they morally disagree with. Sure, I find them foolish for not taking the job but my personal morals rate coercing somebody into action they don’t want to take far worse than personal discrimination. Likewise, I think the bakers who refused to bake a Trump themed cake are rather foolish, they’re just leaving money on the table, but I also believe they have the right to decided whether or not they want to associate with customers who oppose their political beliefs.

If voluntary association doesn’t exist, no other rights can really be said to exist. Moreover, if somebody can force you to do something against your will, you’re not really free.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 10:00 am

How Civil Asset Forfeiture Reduces Economic Mobility

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Believers in the American dream still talk about how people who had nothing managed to pull themselves up by their bootlaces and make it big. Proponents of socialism point out that such economic mobility almost never happens. Are believers in the American dream right? Can somebody from poverty elevate themselves to the middle class or higher? Are the socialist right? Is such economic mobility a pipe dream? They’re both correct.

In a free market and where property rights are recognized it is certainly possible for a person to elevate themselves from poverty to a comfortable or even luxurious life. However, such mobility seldom happens this day an age. Where both parties get things wrong is believing that the United States has a free market and property rights.

There is no free market in the United States and there sure as the fuck isn’t a concept of property rights:

Asset forfeiture primarily targets the poor. Most forfeitures are for small amounts: in 2012, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that has focused heavily on asset forfeiture, analyzed forfeiture in 10 states and found that the median value of assets seized ranged from $451 (Minnesota) to $2,048 (Utah). Given that law enforcement routinely take everything they find in a forfeiture case, these small values suggest the relative poverty of the victims.

The procedural hurdles for challenging asset forfeiture also mean that poor people are less able to get their money back. The average forfeiture challenge requires four weekdays in court; missing four days of work can be a prohibitive expense for Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Additionally, claims are challenged in civil court, where the right to counsel doesn’t apply, meaning that claimants need to hire their own lawyer.

Asset forfeiture is especially dangerous for the unbanked, because police and federal agents consider high amounts of cash to be suspect. In 2013, half of all households with incomes of less than $15,000 were either unbanked or underbanked. In a report on non-criminal asset forfeiture, the Center for American Progress argues that “low-income individuals and communities of color are hit hardest” by forfeiture.

Civil asset forfeiture allows the State to seize your property if one of its law enforcers accuses you of a drug crime or affiliation with terrorism. The only time proof comes into play with civil asset forfeiture is when the accused party has to prove that the officer’s accusation was incorrect, which is nearly impossible to do under ideal circumstances. However, as the article notes, poor individuals aren’t operating under ideal circumstances. Many of them cannot afford to take several days off of work to plead their case in court. This makes them prime targets for civil asset forfeiture because law enforcers know that they chances of the property being returned to its rightful owner is practically zero.

As I noted, economic mobility requires property rights because you have to be able to keep what wealth you acquire. If you’re able to scrape together some capital to start a side business but then have that capital stolen, your ability to elevating yourself economically through entrepreneurship is also stolen.