A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Radical Individualism’ tag

Spreading Democracy

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When referring to communicable diseases, it’s common to say that they’re spreading.

Considering that, I think the phrase “spreading democracy” is particularly apt.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 9th, 2018 at 11:30 am

Fucking Parasite

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A somewhat esoteric laugh courtesy of Egoistball.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 11th, 2018 at 10:00 am

You Have Only the Rights You Can Take and Hold

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I lamented about living in a postliterate society when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips. Nobody read the fucking article so they decided that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of religious rights when it actually ruled in regards to procedural shenanigans. The American Institute for Economic Research has a good summary of what the ruling entails:

Reading this case literally, we can conclude the following. If you want to exercise property rights and behave as if you are free, according to the Supreme Court, you need to get religion right away and hope that the bureaucrats adjudicating your case put you down as a monster for that very reason. Then you can narrowly escape prosecution.

Otherwise you must comply. If you take the majority opinion on face value, had the deliberations in Colorado been undertaken with no invidious discrimination against the faith of the baker, the decision would have gone the other way.

In other words, you don’t have any rights.

I’ve discussed this matter before but it’s worth repeating. Questions regarding rights, such as whether or not you have the right to refuse to provide a good or service due to your personal religious convictions, are pointless. Why? To pull out one of my favorite George Carlin quotes, “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.”

You can claim that you have the right to freely express yourself or the right to own firearms or the right to not incriminate yourself but you only actually have those rights if you can exercise them. Consider Jack Phillips’s case. He believed that he had the right to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage because his religious beliefs are at odds with such a union. When he tried to exercise his perceived right, government goons came down on him. Even after his Supreme Court victory, he doesn’t have the right to refuse to bake cakes for same-sex weddings because he failed to convince the Supreme Court, and by extent the various levels of government in the United States, that he had such a right. When (and it will be a matter of when, not if, because it’s human nature to push boundaries) another same-sex couple comes into his bakery wanting a cake for their wedding and he refuses, he’ll find himself in court all over again.

You only have the rights you can take and hold. How you take and hold them is irrelevant. If you are able to convince a group to respect your perceived rights, then you have taken and held those rights. If you have enough firepower at hand to scare people away from infringing on your perceived rights, then you have taken and held those rights. But if you can’t take and hold them, even if they’re written down on a fancy piece of paper, they don’t exist.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 7th, 2018 at 11:00 am

It Doesn’t Matter What the Majority Says

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Every political argument seems to eventually boils down to polls. It makes sense since polls indicate what the majority wants and the majority should be listened to, right? If, for example, the majority of Minnesotans support stricter gun laws, then the politicians should respect their desires, right?

A majority of Minnesotans support stricter gun laws in the United States, including wide backing for a ban on military-style rifles and for raising the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found.

This is usually the point where I would point out the way polls are manipulated to get desired results. For example, if you poll urban individuals about gun control, you’re likely to get a different result than if you poll rural individuals. Likewise, if I’m a publication with a predominantly Democratic readership, the results of my poll about gun control laws are going to differ from the poll results achieved by a publication with a predominantly Republican readership.

Instead of focusing on why polls are irrelevant due to ease of manipulation, I’m going to focus on an even lower level assumption made by people who cite polls: that a majority is right. Take it away, Mises!

Stating that the majority supports a law is irrelevant because there is no inherent wisdom in the majority. For example, if a majority favored a law that required the first born son of every family to be sacrificed to Beelzebub, would you agree that a law requiring that be passed? I’m guessing most people wouldn’t because it’s an awful idea. I’m also guessing that some proponent of democracy will dismiss my example and by extent my argument as being ridiculous, which it is because I chosen it specifically to illustrate my point in the most hyperbolic manner possible. To appease those individuals though, I will present a more realistic example.

Let’s say a few individuals own businesses in a poor neighborhood. The majority of people living in the town decide that they want to revitalize that neighborhood. To accomplish this they demand that the city government pass a new property tax to raise funds for revitalization efforts. Interestingly enough, the demanded property tax is high enough that it would force the poor businesses in that neighborhood to close shop. Should the will of the majority be followed even though it’s obvious that their idea of revitalizing the neighborhood is to use the city’s tax code to run poor individuals out of town?

The premise of democracy, that the will of a majority should become the policy of the State, is flawed at its very foundation because it necessarily assumes that what a majority wants is correct. This is why I dismiss arguments based on the will of a majority outright. Saying that a majority supports something is no different than saying that you personally support something. Saying that you or a majority support something isn’t an argument in support of that thing, it’s merely an expression of personal preference. And, unfortunately for you, I don’t give a shit about your personal preference.

Who Has Authority over Culture

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Culture, like society, is something that exists exclusively in the human imagination. It’s an abstract concept that doesn’t exist in the real world. That being the case, I find stories like this one to be ridiculous:

TAIPEI, Taiwan — When Keziah Daum wore a Chinese-style dress to her high school prom in Utah, it set off an uproar — but not because of its tight fit or thigh-high slit.

After Ms. Daum, 18, shared pictures on social media of her prom night, a Twitter user named Jeremy Lam hotly responded in a post that has been retweeted nearly 42,000 times.

[…]

“My culture is NOT” your prom dress, he wrote, adding profanity for effect.

“I’m proud of my culture,” he wrote in another post. “For it to simply be subject to American consumerism and cater to a white audience, is parallel to colonial ideology.”

Something that only exists in your imagination can only be yours in your imagination. But for a moment let’s assume that culture is a real thing that can be appropriated. Where do people who throw around accusations of cultural appropriation get off thinking that they’re the ultimate authority over what is or isn’t the proper use of a culture? Because while Jeremy Lam may be upset that Daum wore a Chinese dress, Snail Trail and Zhou Yijun believe quite the opposite:

“I am very proud to have our culture recognized by people in other countries,” said someone called Snail Trail, commenting on a post of the Utah episode by a popular account on WeChat, the messaging and social media platform, that had been read more than 100,000 times.

“It’s ridiculous to criticize this as cultural appropriation,” Zhou Yijun, a Hong Kong-based cultural commentator, said in a telephone interview. “From the perspective of a Chinese person, if a foreign woman wears a qipao and thinks she looks pretty, then why shouldn’t she wear it?”

This illustrates one of the biggest problems with treating imaginary concepts as if they were real objects. An imaginary concept may exist in the heads of multiple individuals but each of those individuals will put their own spin on it. The concept of Chinese culture, for example, exists in the heads of billions of individuals but none of those individuals likely agree entirely on what constitutes Chinese culture. Sure, most of them will likely agree to a few major concepts. For example, most people will likely agree that the Chinese language is part of Chinese culture. However, diving into the minute will quickly reveal that no two individuals share the exact same concept.

One of the disagreements over the imaginary concept of culture is who has authority over it. If one Chinese individual tells a white girl that she can’t wear a Chinese dress but another Chinese individual says that she can, who is correct? Which of the two individuals has the authority to dictate whether or not the white girl’s behavior is appropriate? Feel free to answer the question in the comment box if you want but I will require that you show your work.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 3rd, 2018 at 11:00 am

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

Posted in Individualism

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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

Posted in Individualism

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