Brexit, Texit, and the Panarchist Case for Panarchy

Flag-cutout-Texas-secede

Jacob Levy recently wrote an essay airing his teary-eyed dismay that so many of his libertarian friends are cheering on Britain’s bow down from EU membership. This comes to no surprise, since BHL seems to be bent on presenting us with the “libertarian case” for anything from a swollen welfare apparatus to mandatory sex-reassignment surgery. There are a few basic theses in this article, for instance, that the EU is not a regulatory monster and that all the all other EU member states are economically freer than Britain (an assertion that not even his own citation really backs up).  One point I would like to extract from Levy’s article and complain about in length, though, is his idea of secession. Namely, Levy claims that secession obviously cannot be a libertarian position, because, uh, like, what if the new country isn’t as libertarian as the parent nation, dude? From the article:

“There’s no reason for us to start with some enthusiastic assumption that secession is always better and that more-local, more-homogenous levels of government are friendlier to freedom than larger and more pluralistic ones. Nor is there any reason to assume that removing a level of government just makes its whole system of regulation stably disappear; we need to think about what’s likely to replace those regulations at the nation-state level.”

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Private Property and the Weberian State

“But, isn’t private property a monopoly on the legitimate use of force” whinges the socialist, “since, after all, the proprietor is allowed to keep people off his land?”.

Let’s figure out what a monopoly on the legitimate use of force actually means, first. Everyone who’s brought up the Weberian definition of the state in conversation has inevitably been presented with the proposition, from uneducated people, that, because there is a (limited) legally valid recourse to self-defense, there is no monopoly. These uneducated people are seldom well-read enough to know that Weber himself acknowledged this and accounted for it in his definition. Weber says that the monopoly is not simply that only one group of people can use violence – although as a simplification of the theory it is not wholly wrong – but that all legitimate use of force, like any legal or moral right in a stated society, can only be granted by that state.

So, for this to apply to private property (which we will here define more stringently as real property, meaning land and any immovable improvements to it), it must be the case that only the proprietor is allowed to use force on his property, and anyone else who is allowed to use force had that right deferred to him by that proprietor. Therefore, the moment someone steps on his lawn, they are de facto enslaved to the proprietor. The proprietor may inflict any number of atrocious Saw-esque experiments on his guests. This is the ab absurdum upper limit to which anti-capitalists comprehend Lockean-Rothbardian natural rights theory. This theoretical society where stepping on someone else’s lawn is an implicit forfeiture of one’s rights would not only be a living Hell to exist in, and therefore has no logical reason to spring up organically in a stateless community, it’s also completely unjustifiable on NAP grounds.

If we presume, as Rothbard does, that a person naturally “owns” himself, in the sense that he has a morally uncontested right to control himself, to the extent that it does not interfere with this same right in other persons, then an unprovoked attack on this person, even if he happens to be over at his friend’s house, is still an aggressive act, and force is justifiable in preventing it. It does not matter if the attacker is the friend whose house it is, or a security guard on his payroll. This is the important distinction to made between how an anarchy legitimizes force and how a stated society does it: the use of force in anarcho-capitalism is not contingent on a certain class of people, but on the conditions met by a given situation. In other words, the right of others to defend themselves does not come from the proprietor’s favor, but from their autonomy as an adult human being and right to preserve their life per Rothbardian deontology.

Another point to be made is that property owners do not have incentive to act like inhuman monsters who murder, cut up and eat people for trespassing. This is because someone trespassing without clear malicious intent is not all that concerning a thing. Rarely does a group of children playing in their neighbors’ yard solicit so much as the brandishing of a shotgun, let alone a bloodbath, and I would hope that even the staunchest of Marxists believe that home invasion is a valid reason to use deadly force.

The idea that anarcho-capitalism represents a “privatization of the state” rests in a rusty notion the state as a guarantor of property rights. When presented with evidence that the state is in fact the most virulent expropriator of property, outdoing all private robbery combined, the goalpost to which anti-capitalists shift is that the property rights being guaranteed are those of the monied interests. That John Q. Public is a homeowner, like ~60% of Americans, and that their property rights are frequently vitiated for the benefit of those elites is either alien or inconsequential to the anti-capitalist.

Let’s take, for instance, the idea of private security and the image of it that exists in the minds of Marxoids. When you’re online arguing that security guards will take care of contract enforcement, the Marxoid, because private is a word associated with nastiness and antisocial behavior, thinks of this:

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Scary, right?

Now, for reference, here is the mainstream’s cultural caricature of the average security guard:

blart

FUCK

 

Are you seeing the disconnect here?

The issue facing people who need desperately to promote the security guard as a fascist thug is the lack of any exclusive rights or privileges inherent in the job description. Those who think for-profit institutions can feasibly amass an army of enough freebooters to claim a personal “corporate fiefdom” – or that they would even have incentive to do this – greatly overestimate the attractiveness of money alone to a standing army. A massive enough military apparatus requires a sense of national identity and righteousness of cause. In essence, the security guard is not a romantic, or at the very least, not an easily romanticized vocation.

Imagine a mall with a sign outside that says, in big red obnoxious letters, We Reserve the Exclusive Right to Murder, Assault and Generally Terrorize Shoppers At Any Time, For No Reason. Again, this is not merely unsupported by the ethical sphere of anarcho-capitalist discourse, it isn’t kosher on pragmatic, profit-seeking grounds either. If Paul Blart, Gestapo Enforcer can bust both my kneecaps and go about his business, he is not exercising his property rights; he is simply an unemployable sociopath.

The world in which allodial ownership of real property constitutes a Weberian monopoly is not the logical conclusion of property rights, but one in which the property rights of some take precedent over the property rights of others. The anarchical society does not recognize legitimacy as being vested in a specific class of übermenschen, but in each person equally in the event that they are attacked or their homes and property are threatened. In The State, Jasay criticizes the Weberian definition for “the circularity of its idea of legitimacy”:

A definition which might resist counter-examples rather better would lay down that the state is the organization in society which can inflict sanctions without risk of disavowal and can disavow sanctions by others. There are sanctions which, due to their inappropriateness or gravity, risk provoking appeal or need backing up by a more powerful organization. Only the state’s sanctions, for lack of a more powerful dispenser of sanctions, are certain not to be appealed.

As we’ve covered, Weber accounted for instances of private violence in stated societies, but Jasay’s definition is valid insofar as it is a restatement of Weber’s from a different perspective. Part of being a state is that there is no authority above you. There are other parts, but this one’s quite important. We’ve already established that the relationship between property owner and those on his property, be they guests or tenants, is more heterarchical. If a socialist considers it hierarchical it is only by the circumstance that one of them is not as wealthy as the other. No one laments that McDonald’s rents out a stall at mall food courts because the dynamic is obviously not one of the mall lording over a poor, underdog McDonald’s. A landowner does not fit Jasay’s “no risk of disavowal” criterion because, as was mentioned, the tenant or guest does not give up his moral capacity for self-defense. The landowner can truly only use force, or threat of force, to kick people out of his property, and this is only ever a necessity in emergency situations. The idea that a property owner “makes rules” for his land is, depending on the context, either an exaggeration or a flat-out lie. The owner can make people leave with force, yet, except for the hardest-boiled of crybaby socialists, this does not logically lead to an unfettered license to enslave or torture. In short: No, I will not chop your head off if you come over to my house. That is fucking dumb.

 

Guerilla Capitalism in Castro’s Cuba

Disclaimer: If we’ve been away for almost two months, it’s because our dear leader, Comrade Dylan, was grounded for shooting up some church in South Carolina, during which period he couldn’t hang out with his friends or go on the Internet.
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   It’s been about 20 or so years since books like The Sovereign Individual predicted the calculated economic starvation of the state by entrepreneurial supermen trading in digital, encrypted currencies. In the jazzy world of Clintonomics, starry-eyed Silicon Valley madmen like John Perry Barlow saw in the dawn of an Internet Age a future familiar and palatable to the average Rothbardian:

The Internet is too widespread to be easily dominated by any single government. By creating a seamless global economic zone, anti-sovereign and unregulatable, the Internet calls into the question the very idea of a nation-state.

As of writing this, the Internet has toppled a total of zero national governments and has proven totally regulatable. That’s all about to not change. The trouble with Bitcoin – that messiah of ’90s cypherpunks and inevitable writing topic of fledgling amateur libertarian bloggers – is that the countries that need it the most for its intended purpose are also the countries with the least reliable Internet service.

A countereconomy that exists explicitly to circumvent regulationism is by its nature an informal “gray” market. That being said, it must at least be a profitable alternative to the formal sector. The Anarcho-Capitalist Club of Cuba, whose members are regularly harassed and beaten by police (co-founder Joisy García was given a citation for being interviewed by the PanAm Post) and barred from legal employment, began accepting Bitcoin donations in February of this year. The rest of 2015 has brought about changes in Cuba’s Internet bureaucracy and its relations with the US that have streamlined the process in their favor. Namely, a recent push by Cuban government to lower Internet costs both by simply charging less for access, and installing more Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces around the island. Another silver lining: on the very day that I write this, July 20th, Cuba and the United States have re-established formal diplomatic relations with each other. It seems the 50+ year embargo may also be on its way out.

Don’t let this good news give off the impression that Internet is flowing over in the streets of Havana. Access to it is a hot issue with the political machine and general public alike. As the Castro regime hacks its aching lungs out, that general public will have more and more political capital to depend on. What I want to bring attention to, however, is that it isn’t Bitcoin that is ending decades of totalitarian communism. Rather, the continued liberalization of Cuban politics and economics will make Bitcoin more accessible.

In nearby Venezuela, crypto-anarchists have had better luck. The monstrous costs of computing power and bandwidth that Bitcoin mining demand are offset by that country’s subsidies. What happens when the government can longer afford to pretend those subsidies aren’t an economic drain, especially when people are exploiting them more regularly to subvert the state economy?

Enthusiasm about the untamed nature of the Internet belongs in the ’90s. The World Wide Web that you and I use has become a more domestic, gentrified place now that it’s taken its place as a vital social platform for cultural and creative elites as well as major corporations. That will invite greater and greater government fetters over the years. The net neutrality non-issue of news cycles past is the most glaring example; Its loudest proponent the EFF was on the front lines demanding greater freedom by, ironically, asking the government (you know, that thing that keeps killing and imprisoning people for most of its history) to reign in the pricing of Web traffic imposed by scary corporate ISPs, monsters it created with subsidies in the first place. It’s all very reminiscent of the railroad boom of the late 19th century. The mainstream Internet provided by Comcast and Verizon in the States relies on the old phone lines, a fact that opened the door to the establishment of natural monopolies from the very start. It was only a matter of time before the state stepped in to brush its own mess under the bed and doom our cyber-posterity.

The fact that Bitcoin, which in the First World is famous for being a 21st Century “tulip fever”, is a more stable currency than the Cuban peso is a testament to the incompetence of Latin American tin-pot socialism. The fact that it is being adopted in droves is testament to the itching desperation of the average Cuban, Venezuelan, Colombian, Brazilian, et al. Should citizens of these countries use Bitcoin? Yes. Cuba’s ancaps have no other currency to turn to at this juncture. It is a life raft for political dissidents in socialist states. That number of political dissidents can only grow from here, and as it does, Bitcoin may be there until de jure regime change is possible.

TL;DR: Bitcoin use is the symptom, not a cause, of the erosion of political power structures in Latin America. Increased Internet access will depend on trade liberalization, and this fact limits Bitcoin’s ability to do its job in second-world nations. Regardless, its adoption is a signal of positive growth in these problem areas.

Club Anarcocapitalista de Cuba takes BTC donations at the following address,

19AfRwtrebmR4kSy1wwpRHY7Smj9rmKkYF

The money goes to conducting lectures on anarcho-capitalist theory

Okay I’m done shilling.

Babby’s First Incentive Problem: NPR Discovers That Soft Jazz and Rainbows Don’t Cure Heroin Addiction

The other day I was listening to my favorite center-leftist radio station on NPR (Conservatards don’t actually have a monopoly on asinine political commentary on the radio – the leftist version just gets gubmint money fo’ dem programs and is on FM). Having developed a rather thick skin from a misspent youth talking to horrible people of various stripes online, I usually quite enjoy all the exasperated guises of neutrality, the roundabout demographic pandering, and the generous use of the word “problematic” that NPR has to offer. Sometimes though it gets better than that, and I endanger myself and other motorists by succumbing to the urge to furiously tip my fedora out of the sheer euphoria that overcomes me when I hear some of the shit they say on there completely blind to the implications. The other day I mentioned was one such episode. The program begins with a female Hispanic journalist talking about noticing a lot of homeless people in the Back Of the Yards neighborhood where she works, a renowned shithole in my very own native Chiraq. Her journalistic curiosity taking over, she began asking them where they were coming from (maybe to plug the hole; it gets awful drafty in the Windy City). The nature of their answers though, is where this gets interesting. Almost all of the people she talked to told her stories with a few common themes:

  1. They were from Puerto Rico
    2. They were addicted to hard drugs of some kind
    3. They were promised by someone in Puerto Rico (Usually a government healthcare worker) that there were miracle rehab facilities in America that could help them
    4. Someone in Puerto Rico (Usually a government official) paid for their plane ticket to Chicago
    5. Someone in Puerto Rico (Often the cops) drove them to the airport
    6. There were not miracle rehab facilities in America that could help them Continue reading

Liberland is Literally No Big Deal

liberland flag Libertarian and mainstream circles alike have been buzzing incessantly about an unclaimed, teardrop shaped parcel of land between Croatia and Serbia called Siga. Czech politician Vít Jedlička calls it Liberland, and has the flag to prove it. The media reaction has been the usual cabinet-of-curiosities approach it applies to anything whacky a political outsider does in his spare time. If you’re the kind of person who has his middle name on Facebook set to “Voluntaryist”, you’re probably hyped about this. I mean, they put Murray Rothbard’s face on the money, for crying out loud. And I don’t blame you; Liberland has received (and this estimate is theirs) millions of citizenship requests, many from places like Saudi Arabia, one nation among many in dire need of a regime change.
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Social Justice: Age-Old Paternalism’s New Haircut

On what can we blame the sudden rise to popularity of social justice? If I’m judging the political leanings of this site’s dozen of readers correctly, you probably spend some time complaining about the loud, the offended, and the vitriolic subculture we call social justice warriors; I’m guilty of the same. But can we explain its appropriation by the mainstream from a completely neutral, etic point of view? Probably not: My distaste for the culture is likely too ingrained in my head for me to study it in a way that doesn’t paint it as malicious. That being said, I will damn well try.

There you go, stock photos of angry women. Now relax and keep reading.

Many people on the capital-R Right talk about the Frankfurt School, and indeed it would be foolish of me to not reference the interplay between bourgeois academia and their ironic endorsement of Marxist cultural analysis in a discussion of social justice. But high-minded and cushy philosophical and social theories seldom permeate popular culture except indirectly. The average person has not heard of Gramsci or Horkheimer or whoever else you want to namedrop, and indeed the archetypal “SJW” encountered online is either not a leftist, or is simply bad at being one. Critical theory is, in theory, critical of how “””capitalist””” institutions affect culture, and as a die-hard capitalist, I must say that corporate media, and the PR and marketing wings of many a large business, has had a field day with social justice, to which it poses no threat. Continue reading

Yes Cunts, Minimum Wage in Australia is Shit

My personal interest in politics and government policy was kick-started several years ago after learning about how the minimum wage prices low-skilled and new entrants out of the work force.  After 3 years and several hundred résumé applications, it was clear to me that there simply were not enough jobs available for all the people seeking employment.  While there are a constellation of factors affecting job availability in any given location, it is fair to say the minimum wage plays a very significant role in restricting the amount of employees a business can afford and therefore chooses to hire.

minwag

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Walter Block and Daniel Webster: Could a Free Society Be a (Voluntary) Slave Society?

It has now been over a decade since libertarian Santa Claus, Walter Block, published the essay, “Toward A Libertarian Theory Of Inalienability: A Critique of Rothbard, Barnett, Smith, Gordon, Kinsella, and Epstein”. In this work, he critiqued standard Lockean notions of inalienable rights such that the Founding Fathers of our glorious American empire only paid lip service to in adopting the Constitution; a document giving them the authority to alienate the hell out of those rights. Unlike Locke and Rothbard (may peace be upon him), the good professor Block believes that the right to the self is, in fact, alienable, in the sense that ownership of the self can be voluntarily traded away. This is said to carry the very controversial implication of permissiveness toward what has been called “voluntary slavery”. 

The idea of voluntary slavery is not novel; in fact, it’s a crucial part of much of leftist folklore- the indefinite subjugation of an individual based on the exchange of his body (and soul, maaaaan!) to a mustache-twirling capitalist for the sale of some necessary good. This being the case, the enemies of property are utterly delighted by the indignation they can treat themselves and their comrades to, in reading this essay. Left-libertarians in particular use this debate to feed their outrage about how propertarians stole their label from some anti-Semites who didn’t like paying rent  Like anything else, this issue can also be combined with certain libertarian stances on the rights of children, invariably producing a Dickensian carnival of horrors in the minds of communists everywhere.

helen-lovejoy

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Dear American Right: Vladimir Putin Will Never Fuck You

You bought his poster from Hot Topic and hung it lovingly opposite your bed so his smiling face could be the first you see every morning. You watch all his speeches, and pause to unzip your skinny jeans, but only when your parents won’t be home for a while. You’ve been lured in by the bad boy image he’s built for himself, but let’s face it, conservatives: Vladimir Putin will never fuck you.

 Now I understand that consistency in their support of foreign politicians may be too much to ask of America’s populist center-right. That being said, I implore you to reconsider your involvement in the Putin fandom. I get why you like him: he’s a strong leader who demands results and gets them. He doesn’t like queers or Islamic terrorists, and is willing to send out the big guns to chase them off. Look, here’s a picture of him riding a bear! Epic meme!

I wish Putin was my dad!

I wish Putin was my dad!

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